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The concept of a mutant is a common trope in comic books and science fiction. The new phenotypes that appear in fictional mutations generally go far beyond what is typically seen in biological mutants and often result in the mutated life form exhibiting superhuman abilities or qualities.
In Marvel Comics, genetic mutation has been used as an explanation for super-powers since the 1950s. Mutants have played a major role in Marvel Comics, particularly the X-Men and related series. In the Marvel Comics universe, they are a heavily persecuted minority where most people fear and hate them. The Marvel Universe redefines the term to beings who are in a higher stage of evolution known as "Homo superior" and are not yet accepted by the human race.
Mutants play a smaller, but still substantial role in DC Comics, where they form part of the population known as metahumans. DC Comics does not make a semantic or an abstract distinction between humans (or superheroes/villains) born with mutations making them different from humans mutated by outside sources. All humans with powers are simply referred to, and treated as, one group collectively known as metahumans. The term mutant does still exist for humans born with actual powers instead of attaining them. For instance, a select group of minor characters from Team Titans, Justice Society and Infinity Inc. are seldom referred to as mutants, not metahumans.
Those who gain powers after their birth may be called metahumans, but in the Justice League cartoon, the Royal Flush Gang were called mutants by the Joker because they were born with superpowers. Likewise, the mid-1950s DC superhero Captain Comet was born with his powers and was described as a mutant. Killer Croc, an enemy of Batman, has also been called a mutant.
Usually writers tend to use the term for parodying purposes. Doom Force, a mutant group which mimics the Marvel Universe at the time, toils with the fact that X-Force is a revamped Doom Patrol. Another group of Mutants are the Outcasts. Much like the X-Men, Outcasts are a group of mutants in a dystopian future struggling to survive.
Also characters who were transformed through radiation or a mutagenic gas are sometimes identified as mutants instead of Marvel's term, 'mutates'. In the Static Shock animated series Virgil Hawkins was first described as one before introducing the term metahuman.
In the Judge Dredd comic stories Mutants are caused by the effects of radiation after the Atomic Wars. All Mutants are banned from Mega-City One and are deported into the Cursed Earth Wasteland. This policy has left the mutants resentful and they often attack the city. Dredd himself has voiced doubts about the policy and when on duty in the Cursed Earth treats mutants the same as any other beings. He will however carry out the law when they enter the city.
In at least one version of this world's future (see Strontium Dog and Durham Red), this will lead to the normals attempting genocide against mutants in the mid-2160s, and a long war called the Bloodshed in the 24th century.
In other media
- In The Hunger Games, the mutants bred by the Capitol are called "muttations". They include jabberjays, birds that can copy speech, tracker jackers, a vicious wasp specimen, orange monkeys with claws like switchblades, and wolf mutts, creatures with humanoid faces to mock the previous who died in the 74th Hunger Games. Also, there are mockingjays, hybrids of jabberjays and mockingbirds that can copy songs.
- In The Chrysalids by science fiction author John Wyndham, a post-apocalyptic, fundamentalist society views genetic mutation as a blasphemy and the work of the Devil; not realizing it is the result of radiation from a world-wide nuclear war that occurred over a thousand years before. In order to prevent another tribulation, they follow a strict eugenics policy. Individuals considered deviations are either killed or sterilized and banished. The protagonist, a boy named David, can communicate telepathically with a small group of children. However, David and his friends must keep their abnormal abilities secret or risk death or banishment.
- In the espionage novel Performance Anomalies, by Victor Robert Lee, the protagonist Cono 7Q is investigated by geneticists at Stanford University who determine that his accelerated nervous system is due to mutations on the long (q) arm of his seventh chromosome. They cite mutations in the brain-related genes timeless, FoxP2, and STX1A, and perhaps others as underlying Cono 7Q's ability to perceive high-speed events and react to them with a rapidity not seen in normal humans.
- In ThunderCats, the races of Slithe, Jackalman, and Monkian have been referred to as the Mutants from Plun-Darr. In the 2011 series, their kind was just referred to as Animals.
- In The New Adventures of He-Man, the main villain group is the Evil Mutants who come from the planet Denebria.
- In Beast Wars: Transformers, Rampage is a mutant (or at least his spark is) Cybertronian science experiment due to his indestructible spark of which is simply a replication of Starscream's own spark (most likely indicating that he is also a mutant).
- In Mutant X, a team of "New Mutants", who were test subjects in a series of covert government experiments, end up possessing extraordinary powers as a result of genetic engineering.
- In Futurama, there is a race of Sewer Mutants that live in the sewers of New New York. Turanga Leela is a known aware Sewer Mutant since she thought was an alien at first in early seasons.
- In Zevo-3, mutants are people and creatures that are mutated by a chemical compound called Zevo where it turns animals into monsters and giving people superpowers.
- Alphas follows a group of people with superhuman abilities, known as "Alphas", as they work to prevent crimes committed by other Alphas.
- Inazuman is the 1st Japanese mutant.
- A Certain Magical Index follows Tōma Kamijō who lives in Academy City a city full of Espers
- In the Ben 10 series, the mad scientist Dr. Animo was planning to turn animals into mutants, but was occasionally foiled by Ben Tennyson. Ben also entered a mutant wrestling match in the "Ready to Rumble" episode of the original series.
- In the remake series of The Hills Have Eyes, the Mutants or Hill People are humans who have been given misshapen physicalities due to radiation exposure from nuclear weapons testing.
- In Chernobyl Diaries, the Mutants were the results of humans who were exposed to the radiation leaked during the Chernobyl disaster. The Ukrainian government has been keeping quiet about the incident and would often dispose of any surviving witnesses by locking them up in a room containing one of the mutants as seen at the end of the movie.
- The Mutants are among the creatures that appear in The Cabin in the Woods. When it came to the five college students finding the assortment of different items in the basement, one of them contains a gas mask and tonics that if tampered with can summon the Mutants. The Demolitions Department of the Facility bets on them.
- In Bollywood film Krrish 3, many mutants were appeared. There mutants was called Maanvars, created by an evil scientist Kaal.
- In Sign Gene, the mutants happen to be deaf and have superhuman powers through the use of sign language. The leading character Tom Clerc is the fourth great grandson of the legendary Laurent Clerc, the father of American Sign Language.
- Mutants by Ocean Software for the Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC and Sinclair ZX Spectrum.
- In the Bioshock series, the players encounters genetically engineered mutants called Splicers or Big Daddies
- In Crash: Mind over Mutant, the mutants are the major antagonists.
- The Fallout series features mutants throughout as a result of both radiation and an engineered virus.
- Mutants in System Shock are created when humans are exposed to a mutagen virus.
- Mutants in Resident Evil are created when humans or animals are infected by one of the world's many fictional pathogens.
- In Crackdown 2, mutants are the result of research from the Agency.
- Pig Cops, mutated police officers as well as other mutants in the Duke Nukem series.
- Mutants in the video game Metro 2033 are the result of radiation after a devastating nuclear war.
- In Left 4 Dead series, some of those zombies are actually zombie-like mutants that exposed dramatically from "green flu" contain several mutations within hours/days/weeks and circa. that try prevent Survivors to escaping from areas. And there other zombie-like mutants with superpower-like abilities, They are classified as "Special" Infected because from their mutations.
- Mutants! A text based, multiplayer bulletin board game which ran under MajorBBS, Worldgroup and ActiveBoard in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
- In video game series The Witcher, based on the prose of Andrzej Sapkowski, Witchers are genetically modified to have abilities such as increased strength, speed, and reflexes.
- Mutants are common enemies in the video game Rage by id Software.
- Diclonius, a race of biological-genetic engineered human mutants in the manga later anime Elfen Lied.
- Cyberforce is a group of mutant cyborgs in Image Comics.
- Eastman and Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles featured four mutated turtles and their mutant rat sensei. The comics were adapted into several TV series and movies.
- In Larry Hama's comic Nth Man: the Ultimate Ninja, the American Midwest is struck by a DNA-altering bio-weapon which turns ordinary humans into pale, fanged, boil-covered psychotic creatures called "moots", who crave human flesh.
- Several super-powered characters in the Justice Machine comic are said to be mutants.
- Mutant, Texas: Tales of Sheriff Ida Red tells of a town populated by bizarre mutant creatures.
- Ex-Mutants tells of a group of post-nuclear mutants surgically altered to look like "normal" humans.
- A December, 1953 article in Mechanix Illustrated Magazine called "How Nuclear Radiation Can Change Our Race", warned that in the event of an "Atom War", a mutant species of supermen might arise to assist—or to dominate—humanity. The article was written by "O. O. Binder", and opened with a two-page illustration drawn by comic book artist Kurt Schaffenberger, which shows bald, large-craniumed mutants either helping humanity with their superior intellects (in a small section of the picture) or dominating mankind as slavemasters (in the much bigger splash image).
- The Mutant Chronicle novels are based on a pen and paper role-playing game originally published in 1993. It was made into a film (which has very little to do with the novels or the RPG) entitled Mutant Chronicles in 2009.
- ""Weird Woman" (1950s, Amazing Detective Case)". www.marvunapp.com.
- "Ted Lestron (pre-FF mutant)". www.marvunapp.com.
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- Lee, Victor Robert; Pittu, David; Press, Perimeter Six. Performance Anomalies. Perimeter Six Press.
- Noble, Barnes &. "Performance Anomalies: A Novel". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
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- "A Settembre nelle sale "Sign Gene" un film diretto e ideato da Emilio Insolera" (in Italian). 21 July 2017.
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- "How Nuclear Radiation Can Change Our Race (Dec, 1953)". 2006-08-15. Archived from the original on 2006-08-20.