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"Naturally if you can give me evidence supporting the evolutionary superiority of round ears, then you're free to go. But of course since we don't allow fiction as evidence, you're boned."

Our Elves Are Better. Better than you. They are taller, thinner, prettier, more graceful, better-read, more environmentally-conscious ("In Harmony with Nature" is the usual phrasing), more socially progressive, less aggressive or confrontational (while still being fearsome warriors), and better craftspeople, too.

Oh, and they're magic.

In fact, the only quality elves seem to be lacking is humility. Even when an author tries to specify that these elves are perfect, wonderful, etc., and humble, the elves still can't resist lecturing humans on their errant ways. Sometimes the elf will try a Socratic approach—asking, for example, why humans will kill each other, because of course elves never fight amongst themselves—but they don't need to. Pretty much any excuse is good to put the silly little humans in their place.

Strangely, the humans are not allowed to take offense, demand politeness, defend themselves or—heaven forbid—mock the elves right back. If anyone tries, the elf will sniff disdainfully and utterly destroy the human's argument, proving the elves right yet again. This trope is not limited to elves, though. Whenever you have a group that thinks itself as just completely superior to anyone else and ignores all arguments against it, you have this trope. Does not have to be a bad thing if the creator intends for the characters in question to appear arrogant and annoying. But there also are cases in which even the audience is supposed to share this view, which has you pretty much ending up with an entire race of Mary Sues.

Screw You, Elves is for humans who do take offense (and make it very clear). In contrast with humans, dwarves are not only allowed but expected to argue with elves.

Examples of Can't Argue with Elves include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Outlaw Star, Aisha of the C'tarl C'tarl constantly brags about her species' superiority, and no one calls her out on it (partially because her species is physically superior). Then again, Aisha's the local Butt Monkey and is obviously immature, so this is most likely a case of "let the baby have the bottle" or acknowledging that she can take the abuse. It helps that Aisha is considered kind of bugnuts, even by C'tarl C'tarl standards, but Aisha tends to be the sign that they let the mask slip by letting her go out in public.
  • The elves in Zero no Tsukaima are depicted as such, fitting almost every quality in the trope description.

Comic Books

  • The evil and stupid humans of Elf Quest are prone to hunt elves for no apparent reason. The "good" humans though, worship the elves of their own accord and/or calmly agree when the elves factually point out in which way they are superior to humans. Which is in every way.
    • The latter behavior is only the Blue Mountain elves and their humans. Wolfriders want to be worshipped only slightly more than they want to be slaughtered while neither Sun Folk, Go Backs or the other elf tribes have enough contact with humans to put this to the test. There are also exceptions to the two attitudes mentioned above among humans. Adar is respectful of the elves but hardly worships them and Olbar Mountain Tall, while superstitious at first soon comes to see them as equals.
  • The mutants in Marvel's Ultimate Universe constantly talk about how genetically superior they are, and how it means they have a higher standard of behavior. On one occasion Professor X tells Cyclops that a certain instance of resentment is a human thing, and he is "pleased to say" Cyclops wouldn't understand. The ordinary human they are talking to at the time says not a word.
    • This is especially grating since in the Ultimate Universe practically every character save Spider-Man Took a Level in Jerkass, including Cyclops, who many if not most readers consider to already be a douche in the regular continuity.


  • Seen well in the Lord of the Rings movies, particularly in Elrond, who almost despises humans as foolish and weak. His daughter wanting to leave her entire family to stay with a human man probably plays a big part in this. Most other elves seem far more relaxed about it, though.
    • The man is one quarter human. His surname 'Halfelven' comes from his father. He is the last elf who should be pulling this.
      • Major misunderstanding of Elrond here. The reason he does not want his daughter Arwen to stay with a human man is because, since she herself is considered 'Halfelven', if chooses to stay with the man (Aragorn) she will become mortal herself, and thus, she will die. Elrond already had to deal with that when his twin brother Elros chose to be counted among the mortal men, and when his father, Earendil left for Valinor, and when his mother, Elwing, jumped off a cliff, and when his wife had to leave for the Undying Lands after ...stuff happened, and when his parental substitutes, Maglor and Maedhros died. In short, he has nothing against Men, he simply does not want to lose any more family members.
        • Mind you, all the descriptions he ever gets he's the cheerful, friendly type. In The Hobbit, he had a beard and his most notable activity was to laugh. He's just unusually serious during the Council of Elrond, which is his only major speaking role, and that and a little manufactured drama was what they worked with to make the movie more interesting. Mister Anderson.
  • The Na'vi of Avatar. The in-story justification is that their planet's ecosystem automatically regulates itself, meaning they don't think they have any need for things like modern technology, roads, clothing, and human education. It turns out the planet's ecosystem is actually sentient.
  • The Jedi in Star Wars are more than a bit like this—and it's then subverted horribly in Episode III, when their blind adherence to dogma drives Anakin Skywalker, The Chosen One, to join The Dark Side and massacre them all (except for two survivors).
  • In his review of Star Trek: Insurrection, SF Debris claims the Ba'ku represent this trope.


  • The Silfen in Peter F. Hamilton's Starflyer sequence and Void Trilogy can be seen as alien Elves, and indeed are compared as such on multiple occasions. They frequently speak in unintelligible riddles, and use a method of intergalactic travel and other technologies so advanced that they appear magical in origin. Nearly all characters coming into contact with them attempt to get something meaningful out of them, and they all fail miserably.
    • The Silfen are notable because the difficulties in having a meaningful exchange with them is mostly due to their sheer incomprehensibility rather than an attitude problem.
  • The Forgotten Realms, both the game setting and novels. Though straight uses coexist with subversions or aversions. There are two sorts of elves: Noble Savage with great affinity to their environment and refined magic, but skittish to the point of xenophoby and care little about things out of sight until these become a problem for their particular tribe, and civilized elves who are very artsy, but jaded and drunk on their arrogance - that's also where backstabbing with a smile and impressively imaginative viciousness lurks. Ed Greenwood himself invented the lore behind them and any deep look shows that they are the reason for their own decline. Wise elves tend to understand how deep they are in, and sometimes explicitly say that it's exactly why they are more eager to take sharp turns than the most.
    • Any Forgotten Realms novel written by Elaine Cunningham will depict elves as being perfect in pretty much every way - at least, right until the sudden "...and now say hello to our morons" (she studied the setting enough that fans praise the attention to the details of Realmslore). Generally any fantasy work or author heavily influenced by Ed Greenwood is likely to use this pattern.
  • The Elves of Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle are made out of this trope. The protagonist Eragon, who lives with them for quite a while, doesn't seem to notice (and also becomes elven later on). The text makes it apparent that the elves are more in tune with nature, more logical, more attractive, more graceful, more physically capable, more intelligent, more magical, and even more sexually liberated than humans are.
    • Let's not forget that scene where Eragon thinks he doesn't have anything to offer the show-and-tell part of the Blood-Oath celebrations because no human being could possibly be as unique and creative as the average elf already is.
    • Lampshaded by Rhunon when she said that elves once laughed and fought like other races, but now she compares their emotion to that of a statue.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld uses this not with elves that are better but with The Fair Folk, whose glamour produces a crushing inferiority complex in others. Readily averted by the cat, the birds, and any character that thinks like a witch (that is: very, very hard). Also by dwarves and trolls, whose instinctive reaction on meeting an elf is to bash it with something hard, heavy and/or sharp.
  • The Houyhnhnms of Swift's Gulliver's Travels are about as bad as it gets. They aren't a magical race, but they fill this trope quite well. Then again, Gulliver is an Unreliable Narrator who worships any backward race he encounters, there's much literary debate over whether the reader is actually expected to have such an averse reaction to the Houyhnhnms and their hypocrisy. Considering that Gulliver's Travels was a satire (by a very cynical satirist; see A Modest Proposal), probably the latter.
  • The Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn books by Tad Williams. The Sithi can't help coming up with subtle put downs, condescending behavior and reproaches about old injustices done to them by ancestors who have been dead for centuries and their highbred human allies never pay back in their coin.
  • In C.L. Wilson's Tairen Soul books, the Fey are so self-righteous and brash that the "evil/stupid" humans are on the verge of cancelling their alliance. The strange thing is that the author is completely with the Fey on that. The author seems to think it is their natural right to be arrogant. The "good" humans are the ones who don't take offense at being treated with condescension.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe rarely relies on this trope, but the Caamasi might count. They're basically a martyred race of pacifists who will fight if they must and are tirelessly moral. Still, they don't feature all that heavily, and most of them don't spend their page time lording it over other cultures.
  • Lampshaded in The Obsidian Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. The first human protagonist, Kellen, does quickly come to admire elves and elven culture, and these elves are fairly varied and polite and, well, human, as elves go. He does take minor offense when an older elf telling him some ancient history implies that humans did something or other because it's a natural human failing. A later human protagonist on the same side flatly dislikes elves for their formality and their absolute perfectionist attitude, though since they're all fighting a war he tries to keep it under wraps. It's actually a saying in that 'verse that you can't win an argument with elves, since they'll just change the subject.
  • The Aurënfaie in Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner novels have this going on in spades. Longer lifespans (and thus perceived greater experience and wisdom) than humans. Check. Innate magical potential (all the more because human magical potential originates from cross-breeding with them). Check. A language that is difficult for most humans to pronounce properly. Check. Monotheistic religion while the humans are following their gaggle of silly gods. Check. Tendency to drag out any kind of decision making for a length of time that makes most humans want to give up and leave. Check.
  • The People in Artemis Fowl call humans "Mud Men", and the few human characters they interact with never really call them out on it. Possibly because said humans (especially Artemis) tend to notice that the People are the ones hiding from the humans, so what are they so proud of?
    • Even if they never get called out on it, the People certainly aren't portrayed to be as superior as they think they are. Most of the villains of the series are fairies. Their politicians are corrupt (Holly points out that "The Council was more concerned about fairy gold than human life.") Their police force is clearly behind the Mud People's in gender equality, and they even have rush-hour traffic.
  • There's a rather interesting twist on this trope in Kathryn Lasky's Guardians of Ga'Hoole books, in which all the main characters are owls. The owls consider themselves superior to other birds because most other birds don't regurgitate pellets. The other birds never take offense.
  • JRR Tolkien's Elves (of The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion) aren't really like this, but some of the second-hand false impressions of them by people like Boromir and dwarves (as well as false portrayal in adaptations) fit the trope. It very much depends on the Elf. Thingol starts out as a straight example, but the trope is totally averted with Finrod Felagund, who's prepared to risk his life to help out the son of his human friend/fellow warrior.
    • In the Silmarillion, there were a few particular Elves who actually thought they were wiser/better than the semi-omniscient and extremely powerful Valar. In fairness, though, this was mostly because they thought the Valar were just inadequate at being quasi-divine, and not because they thought they as Elves were actually inherently superior.
    • And while Elves may generally be wise and benevolent, that doesn't make them any easier to talk to. At one point, Frodo asks a High Elf for advice. After the elf offers his observations, Frodo quotes the "proverb", "Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will answer both no and yes."
  • The gnomes of the Gnomes faux field guide are quietly disapproving of humanity for the way we despoil nature, in comparison to their own ways. The fact that the gnomes have one-thousandth our mass (and therefore require one thousandth the resources to feed), can perfectly control their (already low) fertility, live for hundreds of years, can understand animal speech, and have access to magic probably makes it a little easier for them to live in harmony with Mother Earth, y'know?
  • The Harry Potter series has the centaurs who refuse to accept any sort of human dominion over themselves, and indeed even contact with humans is seen as a crime. Ironically, the only elves we do see in the series avert the trope entirely, as they have a psychological compulsion to serve their master's wishes.
    • The centaurs do get called out by Hagrid in the final book for just standing by while the Death Eaters are wreaking havoc.
    • Hagrid had complained about the centaurs' high and mighty attitude in other books, but only when they were out of earshot. It wasn't until that point that he got all Screw You, Elves.
    • In some ways, wizards themselves are portrayed as this in comparison to muggles. In Rowling's books, magical solutions to various problems are just flat out supposed to be better than muggle scientific or technological achievements, and you won't find one wizard or witch who says otherwise.
      • The above viewpoint is explored more and more as the series got darker, eventually culminating in the slaughter of muggles and muggle-borns that mirrors the Real Life Holocaust. Word of God seems to support that both groups are (mostly) on equal ground for a variety of reasons, but this view isn't necessarily held in-universe.
      • Except that most witches and wizards really DO believe that magic is superior, just that it's wrong to kill, period, even those pesky Muggles.
  • The Star Trek: Destiny series features the Caeliar, a race of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who have evolved almost completely beyond the need for physical bodies, have no crime, poverty, or want, and are devoted completely to artistic and scientific pursuits. They have just enough respect for others' beliefs to not try to convince other races that the Caeliar's way is correct, but no amount of cajoling will convince them that the Caeliar's way is wrong. They are severely isolationist, but are Actual Pacifists, which leads various characters who stumble upon their home planet to become permanent "guests". Not a bad place to be, all things considered, but don't argue too much. Make too much noise or disrupt their work and the Caeliar will teleport you to a nice uninhabited planet a few billion light years away, just to make sure you never get home with information about them.
  • Timothy Zahn's Warhorse has the Tampies, who live in complete harmony with all living things and have no trouble being snooty about it.
  • The Cetagandians in Vorkosigan Saga are a human variety of this, being obsessed with aesthetic accomplishments and possessing an extreme superiority complex. Naturally Barrayarans have other ideas.
    • Betans aren't as bad but they are still highly annoying.
  • In Dragonlance the Qualinesti elves and especially the Silvanesti elves. Their common belief is the following: they're the chosen race of the god of good Paladine (despite failing in actually doing something good to the world, they're the best in everything, blame humans for every single bad thing happened to Krynn, usually the Cataclysm and the return of the dragons. Oh, they're also so arrogant that they'll enslave their less-civilized cousins, the Kagonesti, and claim that any resentment over this fact must be an influence of evil gods. They eventually pay for their hubris by losing both their homelands (Silvanost's taken by minotaurs, while Qualinost is destroyed by a giant dragon)

Live-Action TV

  • About a dozen separate races in Star Trek, most notably the Organians. In the original series, these races were always pacifists speaking out against The Vietnam War some conflict or other.
    • The Federation could get this way in more Anvilicious episodes.
  • The Silurians from Doctor Who. While The Doctor usually tries for a peaceful solution with most foes, he turns this tendancy Up to Eleven every time he meets the Silurians, completely ignoring the fact that they're always armed to the teeth and just itching to cleanse their home planet of the ugly monkeys that have taken up residence in the past two million or so years. When the inevitable bloodshed occurs each episode, it's always the humans to blame.
  • Subverted by Lennier in Babylon 5, who is a humble, softspoken servant, and happy to be so. The humans he knows are more up front about their badassery while he simply keeps it hidden. Usually...
    • Delenn is more complicated. Her ladylike demeanor and noblesse oblige can be mistaken for this. However she is not unthinkingly arrogant or self-righteous.
    • Played straight by a number of other Minbari.
    • Minbari are hardly perfect but they only seem to have interesting vices. They commit extravagant acts of violence but none of their Crystal Spires and Togas cities seem to have problems with smog, homelessness, or random muggings. As far as we can perceive anyway...
    • Warrior caste Minbari seem to be more oafish than being examples of this trope. Shakiri is hardly In Harmony with Nature or any other virtue. Neroon is mainly a loudmouth but he does have courage and combat skill. Some Religious caste Minbari may be closer to this trope - the jerkwad in "Atonement" comes to mind, though Delenn and Lennier, who are the main ones seen, are amiable enough and get along with humans well. Worker caste are almost never seen. This is appropriate at the high political level B5 takes place-but it also implies that Minbari are Can't Argue with Elves with each other.
    • What is more exasperating than the Minbari's actual faults (which are after all comparable to those of humans) is the way they defeated humans so easily though admittedly it is not without precedent in some human wars and was important plotwise. It is however annoying to a patriotic human.
      • They had a thousand-year technological headstart, including experience in space warfare, so it is not something that humans can really blame them for. They also had considerably greater physical strength and stamina, and can survive a degree of blood loss that would kill most humans. Thus the deck was stacked more than a little in their favor.
    • The Minbari were a convincing picture of what a traditionalist culture really is like, though their day to day reality is (of course) less mundane than similar cultures on Earth.
    • The Vorlons, on the other hand, play this trope alarmingly straight. They're better than everyone else (even the Minbari look up to them) and there is literally no arguing with them because a) they're always right and b) it's rather hard to argue with someone who talks in cryptic koans all the time. They've also manipulated most of the other races to see them as divine beings. Sheridan finally snaps in spectacular style.
  • In the Dinotopia miniseries, Karl and David are completely unable to convince the Dinotopians that people living anywhere else have it better than they do. Cars, airplanes, and television simply can't hold a candle to their intellectual, pacifistic self-satisfaction, and any argument the brothers can offer is instantaneously deflected. Did I mention they're vegetarians and In Harmony With Nature? (except for the animals they kill to feed the T-rexes)

Table Top Games

  • Dungeons & Dragons has a lot of this. To the point it was not only subverted, but satirized.
    • Specifically, the old AD&D supplement The Complete Book of Elves insists that the elves as being perfect in every way possible and a few others, while offhandedly and repeatedly dropping mentions of how they habitually treat pretty much everyone else and occasionally each other. There are also extremely powerful new classes and magical items that are only available to elves. It didn't get the nickname "The Complete Book of the Master Race" for nothing. Naturally, this led to great amounts of both hilarity and rage.

in-character introduction: We do not deign to acknowledge the slanderous propaganda spread by the stunted humans who call themselves dwarves.

    • Forgotten Realms has this played in every way possible, especially in novels. Sometimes straight to the point where gods not of the Elven pantheon think their followers have to learn a thing or two from the elves, and sometimes... according to Ed Greenwood's answers on the fan forum, he planned to use some decadent elven nobles in the ways that became redundant with the introduction of the Drow, and it looks like the replacement was less nasty.
    • Lost Empires of Faerûn make clear that you could argue with elves... if you know about the major errors of judgement they've made over the millenia. The problem is that elves are much better than humans at keeping the fact that they are to blame for some major disaster under wraps, so the in-universe characters generally don't know.
      • The fact that the worst boo-boos happened over 10000 years in the past, when most humans were barbarians or hiding remnants of the dragons' servants helps too.
  • Shadowrun products address this issue from both sides, with a heavy dose of Lampshading. On the one hand, "elf-wannabes" abound among the humans of the Sixth World, slavishly watching human-bashing shows from Tir Tairngire and saving up for surgery to elf-ify themselves; on the other, actual immortal elves (left over from Earthdawn) are depicted as callous, spoiled Jerkass powermongers, who hold non-immortal elves in nearly as much contempt as humans. Ironically, ordinary elves who just want to get on with their lives find the "wannabes" every bit as distasteful as other humans do.
  • The Eldar of Warhammer 40,000 try to invoke this trope. It fails to work, however, because the other races invariably tell them Screw You, Elves. With the biggest guns to hand. Those who fight the Chaos seriously sometimes work together with the Eldar, but that's about it.
  • Magic: The Gathering has a sort-of example in the fairytale-inspired "Lorwyn" setting, where elves were, for the first time, just as heavily black-aligned as they were green. In story, they were so obsessed with beauty that they literally worshiped it, and their caste-system was determined by who was the most beautiful. Bad enough on its own, right? Well, because they were so beautiful, they considered themselves the de facto rulers of the entire setting, and actively hunted down and killed "eyeblights," creatures they deemed "too ugly to live", which included goblins (especially goblins,) and even disfigured elves (There's a reason that the Lorwyn elves are called "elf nazis"). Granted, when Lorwyn was plunged into a Brothers Grimm-esque darkness and became "Shadowmoor," a setting which was decidedly less interested in looking pretty, this made their change in position all the more satisfying.

Video Games

  • The Viera in Final Fantasy XII consider themselves to be above the Hume race since they don't cause wars or seek absolute power like Humes do. Only the main characters hear this and they never tried to show how Humes are not savages. Only a handful of Viera have a positive view on the Humes.
    • Fran is really the only one, and even she admits that it was a mistake leaving the forest. Of the two Vieras you help in Rabanastre, there is one that while friendly, didn't really make up her mind, and the other seemed to view humans as only good for.... well, "soulmates". The two traveling Viera you meet pretty much say "we left the forest for THIS?", and the one in Balfonheim thought seeing the sea was the only worthy thing she's done so far.
    • The problem with the Viera is that they sequester themselves in their Hidden Elf Village, effectively freezing their civilisation and not caring about anything that doesn't affect them in the short term. The Viera don't cause wars, but they have no ambition: this is perfectly illustrated by the plight of Ktjn, a Viera in Rabanastre who leaves the Hidden Elf Village then realises she has no idea what to do with her life.
  • Inverted in Dragon Age where elves are considered lesser and barbaric by the humans, who take up the arrogant mantle and enslave the elves, even after the elves are freed from slavery they're still third class citizens.
    • The Dalish elves (who lead nomadic lives outside human settlements) attempt to invoke this over and over however, even when it's become glaringly obvious that it'll never work. All they have to show for it is more Fantastic Racism on both sides of the issue and the destruction of any would-be permanent homeland they tried to establish so far (declaring those unilaterally then flipping off your much bigger human neighbours everytime doesn't help).
  • The Elf Queen of Dragon Quest III is so upset that her daughter Anne eloped with a 'horrible human boy' that she curses his hometown, sending everyone there into eternal, unaging slumber. The only one who escaped that fate is the boy's father... who instead spends years pleading with the Queen to change her mind, to no avail. By the time your heroes arrive, the father's a withered old man, and the Queen still doesn't care. Despite all this, the father is surprisingly civil about having his whole life ripped away from him and all.
  • Parodied in Overlord, where the elves are just too full of themselves (and stupid) to notice (or care).
  • While you can say Screw You, Elves as much as you like in Baldur's Gate, there is nothing anyone can do or say to argue with Xan, who is so morbidly depressed that any argument will pretty much lead to him going on about how doomed everyone is.
  • The Mandalorians in Knights of the Old Republic II will not hesitate to outline how they are, in every way conceivable, superior to those puny little Jedi. Considering you are a Jedi in the game, it is surprising how little opportunity you get to disagree with them. Particularly interesting is that you can badmouth the Mandalorians but only as long as none of them are actually within earshot...
    • The Mandalorian race is in a slow decline after losing the Mandalorian War to.... Jedi. And not even all the Jedi. Their claims that Revan was some kind of aberration and that they are superior to Jedi just comes across as a culture-wide case of denial.
      • The Mandalorians do have a point there, though - Revan was an absolute monster even by Jedi and Sith standards, and a genius strategist on top of it. So at the very least the part about him being an aberration is spot-on.
    • The Jedi Council members in KOTOR II are like this too. Get into a conversation with them, and pick any response to anything. You are pretty much guaranteed to get your opinion shot down, no matter what it is.
  • Speaking of BioWare, their flagship series Mass Effect does this quite often with the Turian councilor. If you free the Rachni Queen, he chastises you for loosing a potentially fatal threat upon the galaxy. If you opt to kill the Queen instead, he asks if you routinely commit genocide. The guy just can't be pleased, most likely due to Fantastic Racism.
    • Subverted, however, in the third game. Not only does Shepard prove them dead wrong on multiple occasions, but the asari, the most advanced race in the galaxy, are proven as hypocrites and liars due to hiding a Prothean beacon on Thessia and remaining in control of the galaxy through the advanced technology that they get from it,something that they made illegal under galactic law when the Citadel Council was first established.
    • Also, by the Third Game, the Turian Councilor is the first one to be willing to help you (granted he wants something first, but the Turian homeworld is the hardest hit after the human and batarian homeworlds).
    • You also have Javik, the last Prothean, in the third game, who routinely puts down all the "younger" races based on what they used to be like 50,000 years ago, even when he's giving compliments. For example, he mentions how the humans are coordinating the galaxy-wide efforts to combat the Reapers, mentioning offhand that they used to live in caves. His opinion of the salarians (the smartest beings in the galaxy) boils down to "they used to lick their own eyes". Presumably, Renegade actions will earn praise from him.
  • Played straight in World of Warcraft. There are, at "present", three types of elf (Night, Blood, and High), all of which clearly believe themselves awesome and superior but are blatantly flawed: elves are prone to Fantastic Racism, get themselves into deep trouble experimenting with magic, and won't help the other races against global threats until it's absolutely necessary.
    • Although the Blood Elves were originally High Elves (and the High Elves Night Elves), until they had a Freak-Out over their homeland being destroyed, due, fittingly, to the fact that the Alliance couldn't spare any soldiers to help them defend themselves.
  • Both played straight and subverted in Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura were the all nature and magic elven society is falling to the rampant industrialism of humans, gnomes and dwarves. This brought to a separation of the elves in two branches: light and dark. Light elves are generally decent - but still quite jerkass - folks who are content to let the other people live their own lives. The Dark ones are convinced of the innate superiority of elvenkind and despise all the other races as lesser.
    • The fact that the major monotheistic religion of the setting is based around the eternal battle between two elven mages which turned out to be only a elaborate fake just add to the subversion.
  • Battle for Wesnoth. Both humans and elves have an archer unit, and each type levels up through different promotional classes. The description for the highest-level elven archer is a three paragraph long love letter about how they can shoot birds in the eye while blindfolded (or something similar); the description for the highest-level human archer just says that they're pretty good for a human, and then goes on for another paragraph about how much better elves are. Of course, as the game is open-source and fan made, many of the campaigns are a little less elf-friendly... about half of them include a "sticking it to the elves" mission, just for the sake of doing so.
  • The ElderScrolls series plays around a bit with this trope. The Dunmer (Dark Elves) are very warlike and tend to scorn other races due to their meddlesome nature in their time honored traditions and of course their homeland, most of them are fairly adaptive though and aside from the backwater Ashlanders are able to tolerate outlanders to some degree. Bosmer (Wood Elves) actually tend to be very curious and are more an inversion of this trope as they tend to cause more trouble than the human races do by sticking their noses into other people's business. Altmer (The High Elves) play it more or less straight with their extremely haughty attitudes that condescend to all other races as being inferior in their achievements, and typically scorn the other races for their failings (despite the Aldmeri Dominion being vastly responsible for many ancient wars and calamities of Tamriel...)
    • And by the time of Skyrim, when the Empire is in decline and a rabidly supremacist faction took control of Altmer society and refounded the Aldmeri Dominion, it's basically become illegal to argue with elves in Tamriel, under pain of death. Of course, the Dohvakiin (even when an elf themself) tends to disagree with this attitude strongly.
  • The Fae in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning more accurately play this role than the actual elves of the setting though for the most part this is subverted as you can argue with and even choose to subvert the culture and/or lives of those fae or elves who put on airs.
    • The Gnomes take this even further than the Fae. Most Gnomes in the game preach on and on about Gnomes being the paragons of reason and logic in the world. Templar Octienne in particular is pretty arrogant which makes the end of the boss battle with him — using Fate to bash him through a window — extremely satisfying.


  • The elves in Eight Bit Theater parody this aspect of elves, making them so obsessed with their own superiority that they believe all other races, and even some of the gods, exist as leftover genetic material that wasn't good enough for elves.
    • This may also go some way towards explaining why they're on technological par with humans in spite of a nine-thousand-year head start. Maybe Fighter wasn't the one who needed the trial of sloth.
  • Most elves in Sluggy Freelance avoid this trope, being more on the cookie and/or toy making side of the elf spectrum. However, the "Years of Yarncraft" storyline does reference elves as "mythological hotties who wouldn't give humanity the time of day."
  • In Errant Story, the elves' belief in their own superiority has led to multiple instances of genocide. Considering the trolls to be flawed and mistaken creations of their gods, they made a pretty good effort at exterminating them but did not succeed. They nearly did the same thing to humans before deciding to instead "uplift" the humans by using them as servants. Then after a few human-elf hybrids went violently insane they decided to kill all half-elves. This backfired as the resulting racial and civil war nearly exterminated the elves and they spent the next thousand years hiding from the rest of the world in an underground city.
    • Interestingly, the fact that elves are so rarely seen and thus mysterious means most of the human population still assumes elves are awesome and unkillable. They aren't, and it's later implied that the leaders of the mage's city have already realized this.
  • Deconstructed by the fae (drow, dark elves, light elves etc.) of Drowtales who love to think of themselves as such, and while it is true that they possess Game Breaker powers that significantly put them above the humans and orcs of the setting, they're also responsible for turning the surface into the Hell hole it is thanks to their screwing around with demonic magic. Through the story it becomes increasingly obvious that the fae rule through brute force and that they really aren't that much better than the "savage" humans and orcs.

Web Original

  • Hilariously subverted in Tales of MU. The elves are immortal, wise, good at EVERYTHING and generally peaceful, but also arrogant as all get out and often absolutely batshit insane, especially when it comes to sexual matters (it is considered fairly rational elven behavior for a young elf to castrate the lover of a rival just to spite them, for example). They resent the weariness of their too-perfect lives and usually end up killing themselves. The major half-elf character in the story hates her heritage and everything to do with it.
    • It should be noted with Steff that she views herself as being an ugly talentless clod who looks about as much like a real woman (she's trans) as Sailor Bubba does, while Mack and her friends all see her as impossible graceful and artistically talented and it takes Mack and several other characters a long time to actually figure out that Steff isn't biologically female. This is explicitly stated to be caused by Steff being raised by elves, by whose standards she IS a clumsy talentless drag queen.
    • It should also be noted that most elves we see in the series are in the elven equivalent to their twenties, which are noted as being abnormally sociopathic in their dealings with pretty much everyone.
    • The main character Mackenzie Blaise has this viewpoint about some of her friends (notably Dee and Amaranth), seeing them as being inherently purer because of their species (dark elf and nymph, in this case), although that probably has something to do with how Mack thinks of herself as being inherently corrupted because of her half-demon heritage (which has some support in the story). Whether or not the reader is supposed to feel that any one race is supposed to be inherently better than others is hard to tell—we certainly see faults with all of them as the story goes on.
    • Merfolk in the MUniverse feel themselves to be inherently superior to all land species, although they don't really advertise this. However, as Mack discovers, it is rather hard to argue with them about this belief, as they on principle dismiss arguments from prey. To them, any land creature in water is food and no longer has a right to be considered a sentient being.
  • The transapients of Orion's Arm aren't elves, per se, but they are better than you and quite aware of it. In fact the only reason you'd ever argue with them would be because they want you to.
  • Played straight when several elves explain to the main characters of MDWS about how superior they are compared to humans. Then immediately subverted when the tank of the group punches the leader in the face while saying "But we're meaner".
  • In The Wulf Archives, Wulf has more than a few pithy observations about the elves of his world, who so thoroughly embody this trope that one would like to strangle them:

As a rule, elves are both beautiful and graceful — and they know it, too, which is my major problem with the manky little gits. The fact is that most elves are arrogant snots. Elves are long-lived, beautiful, intelligent, skilled in magic, capable of producing amazing works of art and astonishing architecture, terrifying in war, and — as most outsiders note immediately upon meeting them — deeply and sincerely convinced that all non-elves are pond scum. Humans are short-lived, vulgar little monkeys; dwarves are short, ugly, dirt-grubbers; wolfen are animals; orcs and goblins are lower than cockroaches, and just as deserving of quick extermination; kaitians are pretty but stupid; centaurs are freaks, though they can be useful as allies; nymen, throgs, ogres, jarreks, and all the other races are hulking mutants, cursed by the gods, and living in utter misery since they can't be just like the elves.


Western Animation