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The Proles will never awake until they are free and the Proles will never be free until they awaken.—1984
Sometimes, the course of human evolution can lead to a sub-division. Those in the position of power become a higher caste of human being, and those in the working class develop blue skin, leech-like mouths and a taste for human flesh. Darwin didn't really think about this possibility, but H.G. Wells certainly did.
Common in science fiction and fantasy, The Morlocks usually represent everything that science and art cannot redeem in the working class. This is a somewhat insidious remnant of Victorian phrenology and its ideas of Evolutionary Levels, and has left a huge impact in genre fiction.
The name of this trope stems from The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. The Morlocks are hideous troll-like beings that haunt the night while the innocent Eloi culture sleeps. --Except that the book implies that it is kind of a Blue and Orange Morality: the Eloi have no conception of altruism, art, love or even the future tense. They don't actually have a culture. The Morlocks, on the other hand, are actually productive society members: they just breed the Eloi like cattle, and for the same purpose. The narrator speculates that, as the upper class constantly pushed the lower class below ground, the upper class lost the ability to think and work for itself, leaving the lower class adapted to operating heavy machinery and thinking logically. The entire thing is commonly interpreted as a critique on Victorian society.
- The Big O features the wealthy living in domes and the poor struggling to survive outside them.
- And, of course, X-Men supporting characters the Morlocks, mutants whose mutations are physically disfiguring and who live underground with others of their kind. Of course, even among the Morlocks, there are hierarchies, and the Tunnellers look down on the Drain Dwellers (and vice versa). Only one Morlock, Marrow, has ever been a member of the X-Men proper, reflecting the bad blood between the two groups.
- Sunder was a temporary member of the X-Men... for about 1 or so issues, but he still technically counts, too.
- Metropolis, both the anime and the 1920s silent film, have an under-caste of workers who serve the upper classes. In the silent film, the workers are almost more robotic than the robots.
- The hunters in Pandorum are very similar to the Morlocks in the The Time Machine remake and even used the heads from the Morlock costumes from the film.
- The Descent has the crawlers.
- The creatures in C.H.U.D. are quite morlock-like.
- The Morlocks in The Time Machine were actually the more advanced race, providing all the food and luxuries the mentally deficient Eloi depended on.
- The creatures in H. P. Lovecraft's Lurking Fear are somewhat like Morlocks as they are carnivorous de-evolved apelike humans.
- 1984 by George Orwell gives us the Proles, the underclass of apolitical nobodies who dwell in squalor and ignorance beneath the Party who run Oceania.
If there is hope, it lies in the proles.
- The Orcs of Lord of the Rings are sometimes identified as originally Elves who were subverted by the will of Morgoth, Sauron's master from The Silmarillion. Other times they're the result of Morgoth trying to create his own version of the children of Iluvatar (elves and men). Tolkien went back and forth on the matter repeatedly, and hadn't settled on a definitive version even when he died, mainly due to trying to reconcile his dislike of Always Chaotic Evil with his belief in Evil as inherently incapable of creativity.
- Jeff Long's The Descent and Deeper, with their cave-dwelling cannibal hadals, owe a lot to this trope.
- Doctor Who has occasionally portrayed the future of humanity this way. "Utopia," set at nearly the end of the universe, has ordinary humans plagued by the "futurekind," tattooed cannibals (or maybe technically not) with sharpened teeth, who seem barely capable of speech.
- In Dungeons and Dragons supplement "Races of Destiny", there are the Sharakim, who look like orcs and are seen as sub-human because of it, but are a subversion. They actually are 'tainted' humans and are generally lawful, while having a thriving arts and culture to show their difference from normal orcs.
- Grimlocks, originally from the 1E Fiend Folio, are a more straightforward version of this trope.
- Vampire: The Requiem has a Nosferatu bloodline named the Baddacelli, nicknamed "The Morlocks". They are blind and live in the sewer.
- The Falmer in Skyrim are almost perfect Morlocks: They hate the surface dwellers, and if they run across any (either people venturing into their lairs or one of their rare excursions aboveground) they will kill or capture and enslave them. They also are known to torture their captives, and feed them to their pet Chaurus, judging by the number of human remains in Chaurus pens. About the only Morlock trait they don't have confirmed is eating the surface dwellers...but sometimes, when you kill one, you find 'Human Flesh' in its inventory...
- Just who exactly lives on the ground in The Jetsons?
- Spoofed as the Dumblocks on the Futurama episode "The Late Philip J. Fry". The gang is on a forward-only time machine looking for a backwards time machine, and the Eloi-like race they encounter say they could have one ready in five years. They return five years later to find that the Dumblocks have taken over.
- In one episode of the Superfriends, "The Conquerors of the Future" they meet expys of Morlocks, called Barlocks. They are otherwise identical and trying to break in and attack the domed cities of the normal-looking people of the year 3000.
- In New York City there are many Urban Legends of "Mole People" living Beneath the Earth in abandoned tunnels. These legends have some basis in fact, due to the many railroad tunnels under Midtown Manhattan (not the New York Subway, however) which were poorly patrolled prior to the Turn of the Millennium. This allowed a variety of eccentrics to dwell there, some of whom never left.