Whenever I see elves in a fantasy setting, or another race in fantasy or sci-fi who fills a similar role (see: the Viera, Nox, and Guado), unless the author makes it very clear that the traditional arrogant snottiness is a bad thing (or, gasp, , I tend to have odd visions involving fire. And lightning. And reanimated chipmunks. And raccoons. On fire.
I dunno, maybe it’s just that people whose sole cultural trait is being smug tend to rub me the wrong way when the guy writing the script doesn’t realise that they are being smug.
This is replacing the usual rambling, mainly because of exposure to the Viera and Nox within too short a window.
NOTABLY BRICKABLE ELVES
Warhammer Elves: OK, the main reward their smugness has gotten them is a seemingly endless string of defeats, but overpowered special rules (High) or units (accursed War Hydras!) neatly add them to the Brick List.
Eldar (WH40K): I’ll admit that the schizoid tendencies and frequent bullet wounds make them a bit more interesting, but they’re still, fundamentally, smug and condescending space elves. Still doesn’t explain why the Tau have a better standard issue firearm despite having been space-capable for, what, millions of years less than the Eldar? Do they just like having low-quality weapons? Does the whine of a pulse rifle disturb their meditation? Are they just not as smart as they like to pretend they are?
The Viera (FFXII): OK, they’re Playboy refugees but the principle is the same: smug individuals with their heads lodged firmly up their backsides who hang out in a forest with a default policy of “if we can’t see the innocent suffering, we don’t have to feel guilty about it.” Doesn’t help that the Viera member of the party is among the worst at all the stuff she’s theoretically supposed to be good at (even firing a bow, due to some stupidity with custom firing animations).
The Nox (Stargate): These…I hesitate to say “villains”, so let’s go with “agonisingly dim, self-righteous dunces” are tree-dwelling space elves. Especially fun when they’re giving lectures to the heroes for the terrible sin of not wanting their homeworld to be ruthlessly enslaved by megalomaniacal aliens, and for having no resurrection or invisibility magic to use in doing so. Thank goodness for the Asgard, conclusive proof that in Stargate not all advanced alien races are condescending prats or genocidal maniacs, just most of them.
The Guado (FFX): Well, OK, just Seymour. That guy just won’t lie down and die.
Not all elves are jerks, and not all those who are jerks are unendurable. You have my permission to like Spock, the elves of Lord of the Rings, the Blood Elves, the Protoss, the Minbari, the Valaes Tairn, or the played-for-laughs elves of Eight-Bit Theatre. Pretty much all others…yeah.