The Right of a Superior Species

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Out in the reaches of space, an alien race exists that has developed far beyond any human civilization. Said aliens will believe they are justified in killing or enslaving humans due to their higher intelligence. They don't necessarily hate humans, they just believe that humans are so insignificant as to be unworthy of moral consideration. Bonus points if they draw parallels between the way they treat humans and the way humans treat other animals.

The purpose of this trope is often to question the attitudes that justify the exploitation of animals, the environment, and/or other cultures. Works that use this trope ask the question, "What if there was someone who treated you the way you treat those you have power over?" In particular, this trope often draws inspiration from the white supremacist attitudes that tried to justify the actions of European colonial empires.

Not every alien species that victimizes humans fits this trope. As a guideline, please note that this trope applies if either

  • A character in the work articulates this trope, such as the aliens explicitly stating that their superiority frees them from moral considerations; or
  • It is shown that the aliens behave in a more honorable manner towards those whom they believe to be their equals or superiors. A race that treats everyone badly when they can get away with it may be simply evil.

Overlaps heavily with Social Darwinist, type three. Contrast Alien Non-Interference Clause. See also Can't Argue with Elves. A species that practices this trope is probably not a Superior Species.

Examples of The Right of a Superior Species include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In Wicked City, Makie's ex-lover Jin tries to make her admit this by saying, "Human are lower-class creatures than us. They're only fit for slavery. That's their heritage."
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica's Kyubee plays with this trope. He turned vunerable teenage girls into magical girls in order to fight witches, but doesn't tell them that he does so by turning them into Liches. Then the girls find out that if they don't keep their Soul Gem pure, they become witches too, and it then it turns out he's doing all this to collect energy to fight the Heat death of the universe. He justifies it by wanting to prevent said heat death, and by the fact that his kind has been assisting humanity since the stone age. All this while subtly implying that his race regards humanity the way humanity regards cattle. However, Kyubee doesn't have emotions, so he doesn't do this because he thinks he superior to humanity (or at least that's not the most important reason). He does it because they need to prevent the universe ending, and this is the most efficient way to do it.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The comic book version of Cowboys and Aliens gives the aliens this viewpoint (pretty much explicitly stated to be a metaphor for Manifest Destiny and the treatment of Native Americans).

Film[edit | hide]

  • The film Avatar runs on this trope, though it's a rare case of humans being the superior species while the "primitive" Na'vi have to deal with mankind strip-mining their planet.
  • Similar to the Avatar example, there's the not-well-received animation Battle for Terra, where the human race stages an invasion of an alien planet. They justify this by the right of their superior technology, their view that the aliens aren't sapient, and that Earth was destroyed and they need to repopulate the species somewhere.
  • Megatron (and probably the other Decepticons) in Transformers, who says that "Humans don't deserve to live."

Literature[edit | hide]

  • War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. Unusual in that this is articulated by the human narrator at the beginning of the book. After reflecting on how much more advanced and intelligent the Martians are, he concludes:

And before we judge them too harshly, we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its inferior races. The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?

  • In Priest Kings of Gor, Sarm justifies the Priest-King practice of smiting humans who experiment with firearm technology by claiming that Priest-Kings are superior to humans in the same way that humans are superior to the animals they kill for food.
    • Curiously, he claims that said animals are sentient, if not 'rational'. Of course only Priest-Kings are truly rational.
      • Which is actually accurate (animals being sentient, if not the rest). The word "sentient" technically and despite the way it's used by some SF writers implies nothing about a creature's intelligence, merely its awareness; a sentient creature is one that can experience sensations and feelings, but there's no requirement that it also be particularly bright.
  • Harry Turtledove's Worldwar series. The reptilian Race considers themselves eminently justified in conquering Earth and making humanity a subject race because of what they view as their incomparably superior culture and technology, even though said technology turns out to be not quite that advanced over humankind's. Indeed, one of the "Lizard" characters pretty much lampshades this during a conversation with a human character, when the human points out all the rights and liberties that his people yearns for and the Lizard claims, in all seriousness, that humans would enjoy those freedoms under the rule of the Race.
  • The Strong Races are this to the Weak ones in The Stars Are Cold Toys duology. The galactic rules are like this: if your race is powerful enough to wipe out any other race except fellow Strong ones, you can do whatever you please. If it isn't, you better possess some unique talent useful to the Strong races, or be wiped out by them to make space for new strains of evolution.
  • Out of the Dark by David Weber, is about a race of aliens who usually do this successfully but get way more than they bargained for with humanity.
  • In just about any story featuring vampires, the vampires consider themselves to be on top of the food chain, and consider humans their prey.
    • In Darren Shan's vampire books, the Vampires avert this but the Vampaneze play it straight.
  • The dragons from Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings are like this. Even after a long absence and teetering on the brink of extinction, they fully expect humanity to serve them.
  • Robert Westall's Urn Burial: Stated almost word for word by the Wawaka as the reasoning behind their disdain for and lack of concern over, humans. When Ralph accuses them of torturing humans, they respond that humans treat animals in exactly the same way.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode 'Pretense', a Goa'uld justifies the taking of human hosts by claiming superiority to humanity and comparing the practice to the hunting and fishing practiced by humans.
    • When Daniel Jackson points out that nearly all Goa'uld technology has been stolen from other races, the Goa'uld merely shrugs and says it doesn't matter how it was acquired. The Goa'uld have the technology; the humans don't. It's as simple as that.
  • V apparently sounds like it fits this trope. At one point, the original miniseries has aliens offhandedly discussing how it was inadvisable to sedate human captives before butchering them because the drug alters the taste of the flesh.
  • In the Doctor Who adventure The Mark of the Rani, the Rani compares the exploitation of lesser series with stepping on ants.
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons episode of Community, Britta tries to tell a Gnome waiter that he's just as good as they are. Abed (as dungeon-master) replies that according to the game rules, no, he's actually not, and the gang are justified in treating him however they want because of this trope.
  • The Minbari of Babylon 5 believed that their status as the oldest Non-First One Space Faring Civilization gave them the right to exterminate the entire human race simply to avenge the death of their leader in a botched first contact that was as much their fault as it was the Humans.
  • Star Trek Deep Space 9- In the season 5 episode "Waltz", Captain Sisko and Gul Dukat discuss the Cardassion occupation of Bajor. The following exchange occurs:

SISKO: So, why do you think they didn't appreciate this rare opportunity you were offering them?
DUKAT: Because they were blind, ignorant fools. If only they had cooperated with us, we could have turned their world into a paradise. From the moment we arrived on Bajor, it was clear that we were the superior race. But they couldn't accept that. They wanted to be treated as equals when they most certainly were not. Militarily, technologically, culturally, we were almost a century ahead of them in every way. We did not choose to be the superior race. Fate handed us our role. And it would've been so much easier on everyone if the Bajorans had simply accepted their role. But no, day after day they clustered in their temples and prayed for deliverance, and night after night they planted bombs outside of our homes. Pride. Stubborn, unyielding pride. From the servant girl that cleaned my quarters to the condemned man toiling in a labour camp to the terrorist skulking through the hills of Dahkur Province. They all wore their pride like some twisted badge of honour.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • This thought is enforced by the government schools of Alfard ("The Empire of the flame") in Baten Kaitos. Lyude, the one heroic character from the country, is revealed to have been homeschooled by a nanny.
  • The fal'Cie from Final Fantasy XIII are all over this trope like flies over jam. At one point, Lightning realizes that to them, humans are nothing but pets whom they keep for amusement and some housekeeping chores they don't care to do themselves. It is eventually revealed that humans and fal'Cie are related species in the sense that both were created by the same creator deity but fal'Cie were made infinitely stronger but without the capacity for free will, so when the creator has left the building, things went south for the humans as the fal'Cie hijacked that free will to turn them into weapons.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The High Breed in the Ben 10 verse breathe this trope.