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Morpheus: The machines had found...all the energy they would ever need. There are fields, Neo...endless fields...where human beings are no longer 'born.' We are grown.

Want to show that the bad guys (or possibly the Alien Invasion) are really, truly evil? Want them to cross the Moral Event Horizon without having to do much work? Want them to just terrify everybody into oblivion? Easy! Just state -- or really heavily imply -- that they breed humans like livestock, or keep them like animals in vast People Farms. Their purpose needn't be specified. Eating us? Harvesting our souls? Being bred for our skills in magic? Human Resources? Because they like to watch? Doesn't matter. Just the implication is enough to Squick people.

While it's true that humans are just another species of animal on this Insignificant Little Blue Planet, we tend to think ourselves above mere animals -- among other things, we believe that all of us have an inherent right to freedom, safety from imprisonment without due cause, or abuse both physical and emotional. People Farms play to lots of Primal Fears and Squicks at once -- fear of imprisonment, enslavement, death (if we get treated to a culling of unfit stock), rape (if there's a "breeding program" going on, which participants have no choice in), and the general sense of being controlled. If it's our fellow humans doing this, you can be certain that their contempt for their fellow men is absolute. If it's an alien race, you know they obviously didn't get the memo that Humans Are Special. Of course, other sapient species can be substituted for humans, provided that they're sympathetic.

It doesn't help that the idea of wide-scale human imprisonment and abuse puts people in mind of the Holocaust.


Examples of People Farms include:


Anime and Manga

  • All non-Earth humans in Vandread are supplies of "spare parts" for the hyperadvanced Earthlings. Each is actually dedicated to a specific body part, to the point where their societies are set up specifically to nourish that particular part. Inevitably, harvest time comes before the end of the series...
  • Setting one of these up was the reason the Protodeviln in Macross 7 were trying to trap the titular colony ship.
  • In the latest arc of Gantz, the giant four eyed aliens capture any humans they don't kill outright, only to kill some of them in alien slaughterhouses for food. Other are kept in zoo exhibits or as pets.
  • Promised Neverland has an orphanage where children are raised in a sort of free range environment for demons to produce high quality meat.
  • Human Ranch, a new manga series by Yusura Kankitsu where a group of high school students are kidnapped and taken to another world and raised as cattle by elves.
  • Drifters has the Ends conquering the city of Carneades. The monster under the command of the Black King, used the captured citizens of the city as slaves, sewing their lips and even butchering them for meat reducing them to animals.
  • Minotaurus no Sara has an astronaut land on a planet where bovines are the dominant species and humans are livestock. However the livestock are aware of their role as food and even welcome being selected as the main dish.
  • Ryuu no Michi Taking place in post-apocalyptic Earth, 400 years after nuclear fallout where the planet has undergo bizarre mutations and strange cultures. One is a village founded by a aged cyborg named God. The inhabitants are docile and apathetic toward life. God tried to make them independent but failed. One day all the adults, save the elderly, are mesmerized by a strange mental song drawing them to a tower in the jungle. They enter the edifice and vanish. Though judging by the human bones around the tower, it becomes clear that villagers are cattle to some alien civilization in the tower and calls them to it every twenty years.
  • Shokuryou Jinrui has these where Japan kidnaps hundreds if not thousands of its own citizens, bringing them to a secret facility. The facility is run like a meat factory and a farm combined. Humans here are fed highly addictive substance to fatten them to enormous portions. Men and women are forced to breed, being given super aphrodisiacs that make them into sex-starved maniacs. The true masters of this are giant insect aliens known as them, and the Japanese government complies with the program in fear of annihilation.
  • Terra Formars has humanoid cockroaches kidnapping men and women from their bathrooms. Brought to a secret artificial island the humans they captured are selectively bred.
  • Other Zone by Nanno Koto is a doujinshi series of a twisted version of The Wizard of Oz. One of the issues has a farm where creatures similar to humans are raised as livestock. The protagonist is accidentally mistaken for an animal by the ranch hands and forced to breed with another human captive.
  • Jinmen has mutant animals enslaving an entire town, the cows and mice work together using humans to farm. They even butcher humans for meat.

Comic Books

  • Transmetropolitan has bastard farms, where humans without a functioning brain are grown to serve various needs: to be sold as food to Long Pig, to be brain-dead sex slaves, and to be a candidate for Vice President.
  • In Marvel Zombies, Zombie Giant Man suggests creating a human breeding program, so that they would have more live people to eat.
    • In Marvel Zombies 4, there is one (a cloning facility).
  • Oink by John Mueller has a dystopian world where genetically altered pigs have been given the ability to speak and walk on two legs. Sadly humans keep them in concentration camps and devour them for meat.
  • The Fourth Planet by ChapterHouse Comics.
    • The Foon used the tiny plant people known as the Yultan as food.
    • The Tythyk having conquered Earth and humanity breed the latter in factories. Families have been eradicated and everyone is bred to be either a warrior or an engineer. Less fortunate slaves are used by the alien masters as incubators for their young.
  • The Survivors by Luiz Eduardo De Oliveira a French comic where a group of humans become just one of many stranded on a planet in a state of spatial and temporal flux. While traveling on the road, they pass by a band of aliens riding what look to be early hominids.
  • Petit: The Ogre Gods by Hubert, has igre being worshipped as gods and they even raise humans to be livestock to eat.

Film

  • The machines combine this with People Jars in The Matrix.
  • ~Parts: The Clonus Horror~ -- made famous by Mystery Science Theater 3000 -- and The Island, which was inspired by it, both involve breeding grounds for human clones (in order to harvest their organs).
  • In the 1972 crime movie Prime Cut a cattle rancher, among other felonies, keeps women in pens, like animals, for sale as sex slaves.
  • Was revealed to be the Big Bad's plan to survive the future vampire-dominated world in Blade Trinity.
  • When Conan was a slave-gladiator in Conan the Barbarian, he was "bred to the finest stock".
  • One of the resistance's video speeches in They Live claims that this is what Earth has become.
  • At the end of Soylent Green, the harried protagonist is reduced to running through the streets, yelling about how the world's leaders are going to reduce the planet's population to livestock and breed them for food. Given how overcrowded, downtrodden, ignorant, and apathetic the film's citizenry seems to be, the viewer is presumably meant to conclude it's already happened.
  • M. Night Shyamalan's Signs features aliens who have an inexplicable appetite for human flesh, in spite of the fact that water burns them like acid(?!).
  • In the 80's horror flick Motel Hell Farmer Vincent buries people in his garden, removes their vocal cords then pulls them out of the ground and turns them into Farmer Vincent's fritters Yummy.
  • In Daybreakers, humans are kept suspended in huge halls and farmed for their blood.
    • That said, the plot revolves around the problem that Vampires are consuming their stock faster than they can breed them.
  • The Herd a disturbing short video from Europe where immigrant women are captured are treated like livestock. They are bred like cows, males being disposed of. At the end of the short, its revealed that the organization harvests the milk from the women to create a beauty cream called Milk of Life.
  • In The Farm a commune run by silent ranch hands that wear various creepy farm animal masks run a ranch where the livestock are people they kidnapped. Men are butchered for meat while women are milked like cows.

Literature

  • Jonathan Smith's A Modest Proposal is all about this trope.
  • In House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, clones are deliberately brain-damaged and kept locked up until the original needs an organ transplant.
  • In Hexwood, the Reigners specifically "breed" their Servants, ordering "chosen" girls to "breed" with their Servant, and then "farming" the offspring until they find out which ones they have to cull. Yes, it is freaky as all get out.
  • Kurt Vonnegut's The Sirens of Titan.
  • Piers Anthony's "In The Barn" is a particularly Squicky example.
    • "In the Barn" focuses on milk production. In an author's note, he says that he considered writing a sequel, "In the Abattoir"...
  • Robert Heinlein's Have Space Suit, Will Travel.
  • China Mievielle's Perdido Street Station includes mention of Cactus farms during the tenure of a previous mayor. In this universe, Cacti refer to large humanoid plants.
  • Cordwainer Smith's A Planet Called Shayol, It's about a prison planet where people are harvested for organs. They're infected with a symbiotic virus which works a bit too well, not only making them immortal, but also causing them to constantly grow extra organs and limbs to harvest.
  • Both the Eloi and Morlocks of H. G. Wells' The Time Machine were developments of humans. The Morlocks spent their lives underground, operating the machinery that let the Eloi live lives of leisure. What did they get out of it? Cattle.
    • Also from H.G. Wells, the soldier from War of the Worlds speculates that the Martians, if victorious, will set up People Farms and raise human livestock for their blood.
  • H.P. Lovecraft's The Rats In The Walls
  • In Vamped by David Sosnowski, illegal farms of this sort provide blood for vampires.
  • In the Discworld novel Feet of Clay, it's revealed that a vampire has been selectively breeding the noble houses of Anhk-Morpork for centuries, by manipulating marriages through his role as leader of the Heralds. Not so much treating people as livestock as treating them as show-dogs, but still darn rude.
    • And not much different from what the Bene Gesserit have been doing for millenia in their search for the Kwisatch Haderach
      • They weren't breeding for weak chins and a natural tendency toward belligerent stupidity though.
  • The Virus in Hosts would've turned the planet into a host-body farm if Repairman Jack hadn't stopped it.
  • In one Animorphs book showing a possible future where the Yeerks have taken control of Earth, there was at least one mention of humans being bred.
  • Robin Cook's Coma is about people who come in for minor surgeries and are put into a coma so their organs can be harvested.
  • In When the Wind Blows, it was revealed that the evil scientists had genetically engineered some babies to be born without faces, to be used for "parts". In the sequel The Lake House, the Hospital keeps people sedated and hooked up to virtual simulators while they harvest their organs. Eek!
  • In ~Old Man's War~ it is mentioned that an alien race did this to a human colony they conquered.
    • And when they took the colony back, they barbecued the alien leader.
  • Sort of subverted in "Assimilating Our Culture, That's What They're Doing" by Larry Niven. The alien race in that story enjoys eating humans and other sentient species, but is horrified at the very idea of taking sentient life. So they grow human bodies without functional brains in vats and then eat them.
    • And then there's Niven's "Bordered In Black", which strongly implies that a very humanlike population on another planet was being maintained for food by unknown aliens.
  • In The Court Of The Air, an ancient civilization of cannibalistic demon-worshippers got around the inconvenience of keeping their victims-to-be confined on People Farms by mutating them into Plant People. They were still sentient and aware of their fate, and still bled when devoured, but were rooted to the spot and powerless to escape.
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is another work with clones-as-organ-donors. The protagonists get to live a semi-normal life before it's time for their donations (thanks to being raised at an experimental school whose owners are trying to prove that clones have souls), but it's implied that most clones aren't so lucky.
  • The short story "A Distant Sound of Hammers" takes place in a post-Zombie Apocalypse world where zombies are so widespread (and church-promoted!) that normal humans are treated as animals and kept in pens inside gigantic slaughterhouses to be kept for food production.
  • A downright horrifying example in the Sword of Truth. Confessors, when they take mates, lose control of their powers during sex and confess their mates. Those Confessed mates have to kill any sons they've begotten, because, as ugly as this whole situation is, Male Confessors are the next best thing to an Eldritch Horror (though the series has some of those too).
    • What the Sisters of the Light might have been doing with Taminura. YMMV whether it was intentional or merely a nice side-effect of their incompetent policies on raising wizards.
  • Warren Rochelle's The Wild Boy, where humans were bred and kept like dogs to breed them for empathic abilities.
  • In Kur of Gor the Kur (an alien race) have bred humans for food so much that they almost could be considered another species. The food-humans are penned and are barely sentient, more like two-footed cattle. Even so, many Kur don't like the taste of human, preferring tarsk (pig) or verr (goat).
  • In the novels "In Death Ground" and "The Shiva Option" by David Weber and Steven White the invading aliens are a classic example of this trope.
  • Firefall by Marcus Malone, has a primitive group of people known as the Lily People. Originally they were the lower caste of a group called the Tower People, but their ancestors were stripped of their clothes, reduced to live as beasts and sent to the wilds. Whenever one of the Lily People reaches their prime, they are sent to the Tower and are semi-butchered, due to lack of refrigeration, as meat.
  • The Silk and the Song by Charles Louis Fontenay. The descendants of space explorers have been reduced to beasts of burden and livestock by a small race of aliens called the Hussirs.
  • Bloodbanned by Sascha Saintevic has vampires taking over the world. They keep vegetated humans in cages draining them of their blood.
  • Breeding Humans by Harold King as the avian hekirs exploiting humans as pets. They selectively breed them for looks and also meat.
  • I. Binder's novels has this with an underground global community where people are kidnapped and converted into human ponies serving as beasts of labor and livestock.
  • Darla Phelps Pets trilogy has does this where humans are abducted and sold as pets to giant aliens. They are also breed through breeding programs.
  • Bridgers 3: The Voice of Reason by Stan C. Smith has a alien race, the mongrels, from another dimension setting shop on Earth. Seeing humanity's civilization to be unnatural they deconstruct the Earth back to its primordial state of fertile fields. Humans are reduced to their natural state, being naked and living in herds, watched as a form of entertainment by the aliens from their enclosures.
  • Dragon Alien Overlords by Tejun Fowler has a race of alien dragons raising human herds to feed themselves.
  • The Pet Project by Amanda Milo, has the alien race breeding humans aka tenderskins as pets.

Live Action TV

  • The Caprican Cylons that Starbuck runs into in season 2 of Battlestar Galactica.
  • The Sisters Of Plenitude (an order of humanoid feline nuns) from the Doctor Who episode "New Earth" had one of these, with the purpose of using the bred humans for medical experiments.
  • The crux of the Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man" was that the "benevolent" aliens made a utopia out of Earth specifically to transform the entire planet into one big People Farm.
  • The Wraith from Stargate Atlantis regarded every populated planet in their corner of the galaxy as one big people farm.
    • But hey, at least it's free-range!
  • An episode of the new Outer Limits had humans kept as slave-mechanics by sentient spaceships, apparently for many generations. The protagonist's ship docks with another so that he can mate with the second ship's female slave-mechanic, to provide yet another generation of repairmen.
    • Another episode had a group of humans decide to go live in a colony out in the woods, starting families away from civilization. At the end of the episode, it's revealed that the "colony" is actually inside a disguised alien spaceship, and the humans are being bred for slavery.
  • The original V mini-series and subsequent series had reptilian aliens disguised as human-like beings bringing peace and love, only to secretly harvest the human race as a) cannon-fodder foot-troops for their wars and b) food.
  • This was the purpose of the Master's factory project in the alternate Sunnydale of "The Wish" on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • Supernatural: It is ultimately revealed that this is the plan that the Leviathans were working on all through Season 7 -- they create a food additive drug that, upon ingestion, makes humans slothful and complacent, causing them to fatten up and dull up, so that they can be marched into the slaughterhouses the Leviathans are building under the guise of agricultural factories. Oh, and the drug is lethal to any other monsters that feed on humans, since the Leviathans don't want any competition for their food.

Tabletop Games

  • In Cthulhu Tech the Rapine Storm hasn't much use for the asian human masses that it conquers, execpt for some recruitment (let's just say their army duty is... a little stressful). That doesn't stop them from creating the so-called Rape Camps and have their own version of fun. In a sense, the invading Mi-Gos are way more "human", they just seem to attempt direct extinction of the entire human species.
  • The New World of Darkness's UK has the Blood Farm, run by a mortal businessman with absolutely no morals and extensive knowledge of the country's vampire communities. He keeps his operation stocked with asylum seekers, who are brought in, kept in horrendous conditions, and slowly bled dry. It's implied that elder vampires use the Farm as a lesson to neonates. If they're queasy about having to attack people for blood, they'll be set up with packages from the Blood Farm for a few months... and then the elders spare no detail in telling them where it comes from.

Video Games

  • Demon King Gil from Rance III had some because the power of the Chosen One is inversely proportional to the amount of people alive. She had to keep the human population up, so that the Chosen One would have no chance.
  • The Desians in Tales of Symphonia keep "Human Ranches." The protagonist's Doomed Hometown is so doomed because his best friend befriends an old lady from the ranch, and brings her food--and the rule around town is, you don't mention the Human Ranches and they won't mention you. The people are used to make the ability-enhancing exspheres the Desians - and the protagonists - use
  • One of the nastiest sidequests in ~Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura~ unveils an Ancient Conspiracy of Gnomes who deliberately bred half-ogres so they could 'employ' them as bodyguards. Nowadays, they've basically got half-ogre 'farms', but they had to get their 'starting stock' from SOMEWHERE, and you find that place... as well as some squickily detailed records. Worse yet, the gnomes get away with it, making all the evidence you uncover 'disappear'...
    • The Mind Screw conclusion leaves open the possibility that the conspiracy really was delusional paranoia, and that killing the gnome and his 'agent' marks your own descent into the same insanity. Even so, the Gray and Gray Morality dampens the horror of it -- even if it is true, half-ogre bodyguards tend to be better treated, better educated, and achieve social status that no other half-ogres have access to. And it's suggested that stopping the violent and homicidal persecution of gnomes excused the callous abduction and rape of women early in the foundation of the program.
  • In the video game Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds (based on the music based on the book) this is required for various applications in the war machines the aliens use. When playing as the aliens you actually have to BUILD human farms to draw the proper amount of blood. It isn't implied that they're killed, and in fact since you * are* basically the supreme overlord of the attacking aliens, you could basically say "They're not being killed to draw it out. They're just being....harvested slowly. Killing them slows it down too much." easily. Which was how this troper managed to ignore the rather squicky implications of the fact that my alien force is invading Britain filled with man woman and child, kidnapping, and using them for live stock.
  • The Combine Empire from Half-Life transforms a large amount of its human dissidents preferably into "Stalkers", pitty creatures which got their limbs and the ability to speak removed. Basically, these things are the willingless work slaves of the combine, held and processed in the citadel for the rest of their poor excuse for a life.
  • The batarians in Mass Effect have some of these, though they're never actually seen. Liberating one and seeing what happened there was enough to turn a model soldier into a stumbling drunk.
    • The Reapers have them beat, though. The batarians have a few worlds. The Reapers use the entire galaxy.
      • And they've been doing it for at LEAST 37 million years.
  • This is humanity's fate if Talon wins dominance of the world in Primal Rage.
    • And he's one of the good guys, relatively speaking
  • Human Ranch Story-Exploit Experience!, (人間牧場物語~経験値を搾取せよ!~[放置ゲーム]) a Japanese web game released on September 25, 2019, by game creator “Moe”. A farming simulation where one of the human cattle Erie is selected to manage the farm by help breed the cattle and gain experience.

Real Life

  • A sort-of example that's distressing nonetheless: In nineteenth-century America some owners of slaves would rape their female slaves, then sell the children. Still others would hire out other people to rape their slaves for them, then do the same. Extremely rare but true was the practice of "breeding" slaves on farms. This troper almost had a bout of Post-Historical Trauma upon finding this out.
    • It's a full example. While households or agriculture-oriented plantations in the United States and Brazil only produced slaves as a side business (if perhaps a very enthusiastic and profitable side business), after importation of slaves was made illegal in the US there were actual full on people farms and "studs".
    • It wasn't that uncommon to marry field slaves to each other based on size and strength, so that good laboring genes wouldn't be wasted on producing children of merely average work potential -- or, if not taking that much of an active role, then at least claim veto power over any couples that formed naturally between slaves if the owner had other plans for them. Post Historical Trauma indeed.
    • "What effect did this have? Can you say National Football League?"
  • Would the Killing Fields in Khmer Rouge Cambodia count?
    • Since genocide is not conducive to maintaining a sustainable population of "livestock," no. Well, unless you wished to propose that the burying of human remains was a metaphorical act of horticulture that brought forth a harvest of misery and horror, in which case Cambodia was productive indeed.
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