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Demihumans are the Fantasy counterpart to Rubber Forehead Aliens. Related to Half Human Hybrids, Human Aliens, and probably others. Depending on the story, they've been called elves, dwarves, hobbits, orcs, trolls and many other names. The Five Races is a trope that classifies these creatures and explains how they live together in a setting that contains four or five such races; see that article for details.

Typically, creatures that fit this trope are fantastical beings which, despite being fantastical, are identical to humans in every way, except that they have:

They may also:

  • have a combination of skin, hair, and eye color that is outside the range for humans.
  • be Always Chaotic Evil, Always Lawful Good, etc.
  • possess abilities/senses well beyond (and/or skills far superior to) the human norm.
Examples of Demi Human include:


Fan Works

  • C'hou in With Strings Attached has elves, but Word of God states that they're just another race of humans with pointy ears and fine features. However, the Hunter's world has goblins and trolls.


  • JRR Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings, etc): Elves, Hobbits, and Dwarves, and maybe orcs/goblins and trolls depending on your interpretation.
    • There's some grounds for supposing that Hobbits are a sort of pygmy human. Tolkien went into some details about the origins of the other humanoid species, but never mentioned anything about the Hobbits.
    • Adaptations of Tolkien's races and their Theme Park Versions appear in many, many, fantasy novels since, sometimes filtered through Dungeons and Dragons.
  • Discworld: dwarves, gnomes, vampires, werewolves. Trolls are about as normal as people; they're just biologically very distinct--demihuman in treatment, but not in biology. Elves are Always Chaotic Evil. Orcs appear in Unseen Academicals, .
  • The Marat in Codex Alera. They look human, but they all have white hair, Bond Creatures, and some other things that set them apart from humans. Justified, as they are implied to be descendants of Neanderthals who were brought to Another Dimension.

Tabletop RPG

  • Dungeons and Dragons: elves, dwarves, halflings, gnomes (in 2e), irda (in Dragonlance) teiflings and eladrin (in 4e), etc.
    • The trope-namer; 1st and second edition D&D used the term "demi-human" to describe the "good" races and "humanoid" to describe the "evil" races of orcs, goblins, bugbears, etc.
      • And Planescape did away with this trope entirely, explaining what the prefix "demi-" actually means. For example, demigod doesn't mean "like a god" it means "half god".
      • Parodied in Toon: in the "ToonQuest" setting the equivalent to humans were Dogs, dwarves became Badgers, elves turned into Squirrels, and halflings became Mice. The capitalization is where the 'demi' part comes in -- yes, these races are specifically distinct from regular old Toon dogs, badgers, squirrels, or mice as dictated by the rules of the mighty wizard Teeyessarr.
  • Shadowrun has "metahumans", but the concept is pretty much the same. Mainly, there are elves, dwarves, orks, and trolls, but some of the other races show up in The Shadowrun Companion as subraces of those.
  • The Marvel Super Heroes RPG used the term "demihuman", but it referred to Petting Zoo People, despite being made by the same company as D&D, TSR.
  • In New Horizon, not only are there three races of Ridiculously-Human Robots, but there's also the group of humans who merge with wild animals called Medeans.
  • Warhammer 40000 started as a straight analogue of Warhammer IN SPAAAAACE but evolved over time with some additions and some removals. So far there have been Squats (Dwarfs), Eldar (High Elves), Dark Eldar (Dark Elves), Exodites (Wood Elves), Ratlings (Halflings), Ogryn (Ogres), Orks (Orcs) and Space Undead (Undead) (the latter started off literally as skeletons in space but have now become the Necron legions).

Video Games

  • The Elder Scrolls has elves in pretty much every flavor, as well as orcs and dwarves, which are just different flavors of elves in that continuity.
  • Chrono Cross
  • Elemental War of Magic - The only "official" one is the Fallen, a bunch of half-dragon, half-human gents.
  • Angels and humanoid Demons in Disgaea.

Web Comics

Web Original

 King: No, no, NO! I said slay the dragon, not lay the dragon!

Western Animation

Real Life

  • Neanderthals, a physically hardier species of hominid (or possibly sub-species - it seems they weren't as different to us as was thought at first and inter-breeding may have been possible).


  1. though these are similar in appearance to Hair Antennae, they are prehensile, and have other functions
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