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Perhaps a gruesome topic, but what are some examples of sentient species which practice cannibalism and/or eat other sentient species (if any)?

I added humanoid to the title, in case someone wanted to claim that the Crystalline Entity was sentient and also ate people.

Species 1: You are knowingly eating a sentient, thinking being.
Species 2: Yes, and it is delicious.

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  • 1
    There seems to be more than one correct answer, and may in fact turn into a list question. How do you plan to pick the correct answer?
    – AncientSwordRage
    Aug 30, 2012 at 21:21
  • @Pureferret Wouldn't the most correct answer incorporate all of the other answers? Aug 30, 2012 at 22:04
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    No, because the list isn't bounded, i.e. it can grow and needs to be maintained to still be accurate. I'm beginning to worry this is a list question in disguise (by no fault of your own). It doesn't need closing though, just clarifying.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Aug 30, 2012 at 22:07
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    @Pureferret - given that this is Star Trek, the list isn't really unbounded and likely very small. "ongoing franchise" is not a good reason, since by that light, most of Harry Potter questions need to be closed due to JKR's ongoing Encyclopedia/Pottermore work. Aug 30, 2012 at 22:52
  • @DVK that's fair enough, I'm only being cautious. As I said it's not a reason to close.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Aug 30, 2012 at 22:53

6 Answers 6

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In the Star Trek The Next Generation episode Lonely Among Us there are two species being transported on board from warring races. There is a lot of animosity between the two races throughout the entire episode, and at the end there is a strong implication that the Anticans had killed and were about to eat one of the Selay delegates.

First the implication of them having eaten an "interesting animal":

TASHA: I must ask where you were during this vessel's Earth hours of eighteen hundred last night and zero seven hundred this morning.

ANTICAN: Eating.

TASHA: Sir, we're talking about hours here.

ANTICAN: It was a large meal, Lieutenant Yar. And a very interesting animal.

At the end of the episode Tasha implies that the Anticans are about to make a meal of another delegate:

TASHA: It's good to see you, sir. The problem is that one of the cooks has just been asked to broil reptile for the Anticans, and it looks like the Selay delegate.

(Picard in brilliant fashion turns this problem over to Riker in a jovial manner of course).

While the actual act of eating isn't shown, and in fact there is only the implication and not a direct statement of fact, it is obvious that Tasha believes that it is more than likely that one of the Anticans could eat one of the Selays. Enough so to bring up the fact to her captain. So whether they did eat them or not in this case, the implication answers the question about whether it happens with a resounding; yes.

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  • Your answer is inaccurate the way you phrased it. You wrote that the Enterprise transported two species when it actually transported only a few members of each species. The difference is that your words state that the Enterprise was transporting the entire membership of the two species instead of just a few delegates of each. Sep 22, 2019 at 16:11
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In the Deep Space 9 episode Blood Oath some old Klingon buddies of Curzon's show up on the station and recruit Dax to hunt down an old enemy. As said foe was nearing defeat, he makes mention of a Klingon tradition, that the Klingons will cut out his heart and eat it:

"This time, we will reach the Albino! And when we do, I will cut his heart out and eat it, while he watches me with his dying breath!" - Kang

Which establishes that Klingons will normally kill their enemies and then consume their vanquished foe's heart.

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  • Eating the hearts of your enemies is a part of Klingon religion. Aug 14, 2017 at 4:34
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I know this is stretching it, but my first thoughts were of the salt-eater in the original series' The Man Trap. The creature is bipedal, sneaky and the professor claims it demonstrates true affection for him. Wikipedia says it thus, "The creature reverts to its true alien appearance and starts to feed on Kirk."

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The Kzinti are featured in the Star Trek TAS "Slaver Weapon" episode which Larry Niven adapted from his tales of known space into the fourteenth show of the 1973 animated Star Trek series. While no longer considered to be ST canon, Kzinti were sentient, bipedal, and not at all adverse to eating their sentient meat-eating enemies. In fact, they were known to maintain hunting preserves and stock them with adversaries for sport.

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  • Good catch: I just popped in "The Slaver Weapon" to look into this, and one of the Kzinti even says, "Guard your speech: none of my crew has yet tasted human meat as our ancestors did; we would welcome the opportunity."
    – user366
    Aug 30, 2012 at 20:54
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    I read that story when I was a teen and hated it. There is no rational way to make the Enterprise universe and Known Space fit. Aug 30, 2012 at 21:57
  • @WilliamBSwift Known Space shoehorned into Star Trek. I agree. It was a poor fit. However bad it may be, it is the closest thing we have to a Ringworld movie. Aug 30, 2012 at 22:23
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I had thought the original intention behind the Ferengi was to make them interested in eating other species, and when I was searching for a source for that, I found a few examples mentioned when someone asked the same question on Wikia.

In "Encounter at Farpoint", Picard does indeed make a quip about the Ferengi finding their past associates to be "tasty". However, of course, Ferengi were later retconned to be not as ruthless and savage as they were first depicted in "The Last Outpost", and Memory Alpha claims that:

This discrepancy was at least partly explained in the novel The Buried Age, a flashback novel looking at Picard's career between the destruction of the Stargazer and assuming command of the Enterprise-D, which explains that the supposedly threatening nature of the Ferengi in early TNG was a product of disinformation; viewing the Federation's moneyless economic structure as a sign of insanity, the Grand Nagus ordered a military buildup and sanctioned the spread of malicious rumors so that when they did make contact, it would be from a position of strength.

making it unlikely that Ferengi actually ate other species.

The second instance mentioned was that of "Survival Instinct", where Seven of Nine and other Borg drones eat another (albeit already dead) drone for sustenance.

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  • The Ferengi point is fair, but the Borg didn't cannibalise their fellow drones for some cultural or reason or indulgence but to survive. So, I wouldn't count that.
    – bitmask
    Aug 30, 2012 at 20:33
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    @bitmask the question didn't put a restriction on motivations for eating other humanoid species; it just asked if there were any examples. As near as I can tell, the example from "Survival Instinct", out of all mentioned so far in any of the answers, is the only one that actually happened in an episode rather than referenced or alluded to.
    – user366
    Aug 30, 2012 at 20:38
  • I inferred this from the "sample conversation" in the OP.
    – bitmask
    Aug 30, 2012 at 20:46
  • Humans (mostly) eat other humans only out of desperation, whereas the Borg seem like they'd eat a dead drone any time one was available - pity to waste it. But it's difficult to be sure whether Borg drones really count as "sentient". It may be that the whole Collective, or at least the whole cube, is the only "being" that is conscious at the time, in which case it seems like that would just count as reabsorbing dead parts of its own "tissue".
    – A. B.
    Nov 16, 2022 at 10:16
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Of course, this is prominently displayed in Discovery where the Terrans from the mirror universe eat Kelpians, who in the prime universe are treated with respect, and one of the main characters is a Kelpian who serves as a bridge office on the Discovery.

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