Created By: fs1034 on March 6, 2011 Last Edited By: Catbert on February 28, 2012
Troped

Cub Cues Protective Parent

Under new management: Characters find baby animal, only to have a protective parent animal attack

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Trope

Trope now under new management


"Oh, look at this cute baby! Let's keep it!"
--cue roaring and murderous rage of Mommy.

If the characters find a baby wild animal, it is almost certain that a dangerous Mama Bear is nearby, and will soon attack them. The characters will usually get out unscathed, but not without a good chase or fight.

This can be Truth in Television for many types of animals, so it is best to keep your distance from baby wild animals.

See also Mama Bear. Contrast with Monster Is a Mommy.

Examples:

Film
  • Jurassic Park-II: As soon as the baby T-Rex was taken inside the trailer, it was inevitable that Mommy T-Rex was going to come after it.
  • In Old Yeller it's a literal mama bear, when Arliss is playing around trying to catch the bear cub.
  • In Alpha and Omega, Humphrey plays with a bear cub and accidentally makes it cry. The cub's mama and two of her friends come along to make Humphrey pay for it.

Live-Action TV
  • In Sons Of Guns, Will tells Vince a story about going on a hiking trip, finding wild dog puppies, only to have Daddy come charging out of the bushes ready to attack his daughter.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: The crew watch Catching Trouble, in which outdoorsman Ross captures wild animals for zoos. When Ross begins harassing some bear cubs, Joel and the 'bots begin wishing that mama bear would show up and attack.

Literature
  • Happens in War of the Spider Queen series. The characters find a cute creature, which turns out to be a cub of a giant forest sloth. Drow being drow, they assume that it must be a predator using its cute young as bait...

Tabletop RPG
  • Dungeons & Dragons module G1-3 Against the Giants. In the "Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl" section (but not the original module) there's a picture of two adventurers with a polar bear cub. The male adventurer is looking at the cub, while the female adventurer is looking over her shoulder at the enraged female polar bear behind them.

Video Games
  • In Final Fantasy VII, examining a bird's nest nets a bunch of Phoenix Down but also cues an encounter with a bird enemy - presumably the mother of the nesting eggs.

Western Animation
  • In the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "Bitter Work", Sokka finds a baby saber-toothed moose-lion cub, and inevitably it's mama is near, and has to be fought off by Aang.
  • In Disney's Tarzan Jane encounters a cute little baby baboon which steals her journal. After Jane steals it back, the baby baboon starts crying calling the attention of its mother and the rest of its family.
  • One episode of The Wuzzles involves a baby brahma bullfinch, an adorable little cow-bird creature whose mother happens to be a house-sized engine of destruction. An entire flock of them descends on Croc's house by the end of the episode, with predictable results.
  • In one of the Adventures in Odyssey videos, Dylan, Jessie, and Carter find a bear cub in the mountains and start fawning over it...only for the growling mother grizzly to charge them.
  • In The Land Before Time-2, the gang of Dinosaur kids finds an egg and, at first thinking it to be an egg from one of their parent's nests, carry the thing home. It turns out to be a Sharptooth(or T-Rex) egg, and the group starts trying to raise 'Chomper' - needless to say, the parents come looking for him. Slightly subverted in this case, as the Mama and Daddy actually end up helping the main characters, before taking their baby home. This arguably has some Unfortunate Implications about the Aesop in this story, as the moral seems to be 'Try as you might to get along, some people are just too different.'

Real Life
  • This is seen in real life. Stories abound about people taking photographs of themselves with cute little baby animals--only to be attacked by the animal's mother. Worst case scenario: literal Mama Bear.

Community Feedback Replies: 54
  • March 6, 2011
    youngcosette
    You could use that Saber-tooth Moose Lion one that you mentioned from Avatar The Last Airbender.

    • In Disney's Tarzan Jane encounters a cute little baby baboon which steals her journal. After Jane steals it back, the baby baboon starts crying calling the attention of its mother and the rest of its family.
  • March 6, 2011
    fs1034
    Yeah, just added that one. I'll add the Tarzan one too. Thanks.
  • March 6, 2011
    Tiiba
  • March 6, 2011
    peccantis
    ^closely related but distinct

    Cute Cub Cue...
  • March 6, 2011
    fs1034
    Close enough. I'll kill this when it lets me then, unless anyone can think of a way that this can differentiate enough from that. Thanks.
  • March 6, 2011
    youngcosette
    I don't know. Monster Is A Mommy seems to have the Cute Cub as the reveal whereas here it is the mother that is the reveal.

    Characters that fall victim to this either don't have any experience in the wilderness, are the Butt Monkey or Plucky Comic Relief or are simply holding the Idiot Ball at the time. Truth In Television in that mothers hardly ever leave their offspring. If you ever see one seemingly alone, chances are, they aren't.

    edit: After reading more of Monster Is A Mommy I can see what you guys mean, but still stand by my assumption.
  • March 6, 2011
    fs1034
    I think this may still have possibilities as a distinct trope. In Monster Is A Mommy, it specifically says the cast follows the animal's trail back to it's lair, which doesn't really apply to the situations I've listed above. The description given by youngcosette saying that the mother is the reveal seems to make sense. Let's see if we can define this better to a point where it can be justified as a distinct trope. Cubs Are Never Alone is another possible name.
  • March 6, 2011
    MrInitialMan
    • This is seen in real life. Stories abound about people taking photographs of themselves with cute little baby animals--only to be attacked by the animal's mother. Worst case scenario: literal Mama Bear.

    Also, here is the distinction (as I see this): this is the inverse of Monster Is A Mommy. The cub is found, then the monster makes an appearance.
  • March 6, 2011
    fs1034
    I think that makes sense. In Monster Is A Mommy, you first have a monster, then you find it's a mommy; whereas here you have a cub, which you then find out has a monster mommy. I see the part in Monster Is A Mommy where it says that it applies to any maternal or protective behavior by a monster that is misunderstood as predatory and/or aggressive. I think in this case the behavior really is aggressive, but in a protective way. Maybe that trope is covering too much and there's room for another to more clearly define some of the situations. I saw examples in Monster Is A Mommy that definitely apply more to this, where the example specifically states the difference from that trope is that the cub is revealed first. Maybe finding more examples would help us define this more. I know there are several movies I've seen that have this, I'm just not thinking of them right now. If anyone knows any, please put 'em up.
  • March 6, 2011
    peccantis
    Cute Critter Has A Monster Mommy.

    I think we should keep this.
  • March 7, 2011
    AmeliaL
    I also vote to keep this - I've Seen it a Million Times. 'Oh, look at this cute baby! Let's keep it!' -cue roaring and murderous rage of Mommy- One of the first trope that comes to mind in this case is The Land Before Time 2.
  • March 7, 2011
    fs1034
    Ok. I'm going to keep this around until we get some more examples, so it can be fully justified as being a distinct trope. Would you format an example for that case Amelia L?

    Also looking for discussion on the description - if and where it can be improved, as well as discussion on the name. I like Cute Critter Has A Monster Mommy, that one's good too, so I'll add it, but I think we have enough name possibilities for now, so let's just discuss which of the ones listed it should be. No more new ones, unless you think it's really good.

    Mainly, Needs More Examples, so if anyone's got one, please put it up, preferably already formatted and ready to go.
  • March 7, 2011
    Cidolfas
    I agree for a keep. No examples come to mind, I'm afraid.
  • March 7, 2011
    Ryusui
    • One episode of The Wuzzles involves a baby brahma bullfinch, an adorable little cow-bird creature whose mother happens to be a house-sized engine of destruction. An entire flock of them descends on Croc's house by the end of the episode, with predictable results.
  • March 7, 2011
    StarryEyed
    • In one of the Adventures In Odyssey videos, Dylan, Jessie, and Carter find a bear cub in the mountains and start fawning over it...only for the growling mother grizzly to charge them.

    • Jurassic Park II: As soon as the baby T-Rex was taken inside the trailer, it was inevitable that Mommy T-Rex was going to come after it.

  • March 7, 2011
    ced1106
    Out Comes Mamma Bear might work, too!
  • March 7, 2011
    fs1034
    Ok, I'll add that one since it's about as good as the rest we have, but from now on we don't need any new name suggestions, just thoughts on the current ones.

    If everyone that comments can just say quickly which name they prefer, that would be great, so that by the time it's ready for launching I can have an idea of which to use.

    Thanks for the examples. Still looking for more. I want to have at least 12 before launching. @Starry Eyed is the Adventures In Odyssey example Western Animation or Radio? I see that originally it was a Radio show, but you mention videos?
  • March 7, 2011
    Speedball
    How about for something simple: It Has Parents.
  • March 7, 2011
    RodrigoVega
    I think that seeing how we have a Mama Bear trope and a Monster Is A Mommy, a third trope might me a little bit too much just because one or the other shows up at different times. In my opinion, the fact that this leads to 100% Monster Is A Mommy and 90% monster mommies have very cute babies makes these tropes to similar, or at least not necessary. I would suggest merging this with Monster Is A Mommy or adding a paragraph mentioning how recurrent this situation is.. Just my point of view
  • March 7, 2011
    youngcosette
  • March 8, 2011
    AmeliaL
    • In The Land Before Time 2, the gang of Dinosaur kids finds an egg and, at first thinking it to be an egg from one of their parent's nests, carry the thing home. It turns out to be a Sharptooth(or T-Rex) egg, and the group starts trying to raise 'Chomper' - needless to say, the parents come looking for him. Slightly subverted in this case, as the Mama and Daddy actually end up helping the main characters, before taking their baby home. This arguably has some Unfortunate Implications about the Aesop in this story, as the moral seems to be 'Try as you might to get along, some people are just too different.'
  • March 8, 2011
    AmeliaL
    And, as for title options: I like something like It Has Parents or It Has a Mama, too. Lots of good options here, really.
  • March 8, 2011
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • Dungeons And Dragons module G1-3 Against the Giants. In the "Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl" section (but not the original module) there's a picture of two adventurers with a polar bear cub. The male adventurer is looking at the cub, while the female adventurer is looking over her shoulder at the enraged female polar bear behind them.
  • March 8, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    Happens in War Of The Spider Queen series. The characters find a cute creature, which turns out to be a cub of a giant forest sloth. Drow being drow, they assume that it must be a predator using its cute young as bait...
  • March 8, 2011
    fs1034
    Ok, thanks for all the examples. Hoping to get a few more. Any more thoughts on whether this should be a trope or not? We're definitely getting more people offering examples than people saying it shouldn't be, but there are still a few. Any replies to @Rodrigo Vega's comment? I want to make sure we're agreed on this before I launch it.

    Ok, I know there are a million good possible names out there for this, but if we keep adding new ones we're just gonna end up with a long list of possibilities and no actual name. I don't want to not add people's new name suggestions, because they're pretty good, but we need to start deciding. So from now on, if you want to suggest a new name, and you think it's really good, also suggest a name to be removed from the list, so we don't just keep things adding up... And please, preferably, just mention one of the ones already in the list that you prefer. If you're gonna comment with an example, just add that to the end. It isn't that hard and it'll help this get closer to launching.
  • March 8, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Mama Bear Magnet? I have no good ideas for titles/tropability, but I do like seeing somebody actually taking time to discuss this stuff. Most YKTTW'ers simply mention examples and that's it, which is sad because ordinary Wiki Magic will take care of that after launch, whereas if it is launched with title/definition problems it's gonna get thrown into TRS because of it.
  • March 8, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    ^^To me it seems like there ARE three separate tropes, but the definitions / descriptions need a little work:
    • Mama Bear: you start off with a female creature or character who may or may not seem potentially dangerous, but is normally non-aggressive. It later turns out that maternal instinct is her Berserk Button.
    • Monster Is A Mommy: you start off with a terrifying monster. It's later discovered there are more monsters, but the discovery makes the monster sympathetic, because you can sympathize with something that's a memeber of a family.
    • This: You start off with a highly sympathetic, cute thing. Non - Genre Savvy characters don't realize that the adult form is likely to be (1) something they wouldn't want to mess with, and (2) a Mama Bear.
  • March 8, 2011
    fs1034
    @Stratadrake Thanks, that's the thought. I want to make sure that we can all agree that this is a distinct trope before I launch it, and that it has the best name available, as well as enough examples to make sure it doesn't die off.

    Once again, not really looking for new name ideas.

    @Frodo Goofball Co TV I think that definitely makes a lot of sense. Where would you recommend the descriptions be changed?

    Here are my thoughts on why this is a distinct trope: Monster Is A Mommy is rather specific in it's definition, which includes many things that differentiate it from this. Particularly, the fact that the characters meet the mommy first, and defeat or almost kill it, then discover it was only trying to protect it's young. Also, while it mentions that a character may have taken a cub as a Pet Baby Wild Animal, that isn't necessary for this trope; the characters just need to be seen holding the cub. Also this trope does not particularly specify anything involving the characters being granted a reprieve by nursing the cub back to health. That's a different situation. This is just where the characters find a cub, and inevitably the momma's nearby and angry. Finally, and this is I think the part where it gets hardest to decide whether this is a distinct trope, Monster Is A Mommy specifies that it covers any noble, maternal or protective behavior by an alien or monster that is misunderstood as predatory and/or aggressive. I think that in that case the trope is trying to cover too much, and that this trope is different enough to cover some of that area, in which case that particular part of that trope should be removed. Also in this case the behavior may actually be aggressive, not just misunderstood as such. Your thoughts please.

    In the case that we decide that this is a distinct trope, I think a lot of the examples listed as subversions of Monster Is A Mommy are actually examples of this trope. At the time that was the best place to put them, but for a lot of them this trope defines them better. As I haven't seen or read most of the things related to those examples, we'll need people to go over there and decide which examples are better fit for this, and to move them over.

    Still looking for thoughts on names, but preferably no new suggestions. Also need index and trope type suggestions.
  • March 8, 2011
    wendygoerl
    When I saw the line "cute cub means danger" I didn't think about a mama bear coming. I was thinking stuff where the cub itself turned out to be the danger. In Andromeda, Beka makes reference to a "cute little bunny" that Harper brought home. Or the plant in Little Shop of Horrors. Or even the infamous tribbles. If these should belong to a different trope, the trope name should reflect that these are excluded. If you don't want these in the trope, then my vote for something like "mama's nearby"
  • March 8, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    @fs1034:
    • Mama Bear as written is fairly good IMHO. Though it is a bit long, and the use of the phrase "fucking scary" seems unnecessary.
    • Similarly, the description for this could be a little more concise perhaps, but is clear and specific.
    • Monster Is A Mommy is a bit confusing to me because it's not clear exactly how broad the trope is, so many examples are questionable. For example, does it cover only cases where the monster is revealed to be a monster, or would it cover examples like How To Train Your Dragon, where the monster motivation is revealed to be not necessarily maternal but sympathetic nonetheless? What about Beowulf, where the monster is the child?

    Of the names listed, as long as it is, I prefer Cute Critter Has A Monster Mommy because this is Exactly What It Says On The Tin.

  • March 8, 2011
    fs1034
    @wendygoerl I agree it needs a better name. That's why I'm asking people to give their thoughts on which name is best. I think several of the ones listed define the trope much more clearly, and are closer to the actual trope description. I just haven't changed the working title as I want to keep it the same for people who are commenting on it to find. When I launch it I'll use whichever name is finally decided on.

    @Frodo Goofball Co TV Thanks! I agree that Monster Is A Mommy is rather badly defined, which is where a lot of the trouble concerning where these tropes overlap come from. I think it could definitely benefit from being re-defined much more clearly, particularly if we are going to launch this trope as well. As I'm rather new to this, I'm unsure what the protocol is for changing the description on another trope. Would you be interested in taking care of that? Your thoughts on the name make sense to me. Let's see what other people think as well.

    To make it easier to see which name people seem to like most, I'm going to start adding numbers next to each in the list, to show how many people have 'voted' for each. A suggestion counts as one vote, and any mention of it as a preference again counts as another. Please continue to vote for names in the comments, so I can have an idea which people think fits best.
  • March 8, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    ^I'll see what the folks on the forum think about it first. See here.
  • March 8, 2011
    Speedball
    Okay, It Has Parents has my vote.
  • March 8, 2011
    fs1034
    @Frodo Goofball Co TV Ok, thanks. Keep us up to date with how that goes, as that's important to whether this gets launched...

    @Speedball I already counted your vote when you suggested that one, but thanks. Of note: I'm going to keep this democratic, in that whichever name gets the most votes will be the one I'll use. However I'd like to point out that It Has Parents doesn't perfectly describe this trope, as this generally refers to the appearance of a single parent, typically a mother.
  • March 8, 2011
    Stratadrake
  • March 8, 2011
    fs1034
    ^Cool, thanks! Didn't know you could do that!

    Ok everyone we now have a crowner set up for voting on which alternative title this trope should launch with. Head over here and cast your votes so that we can have a good name picked by the time this is ready to launch. Everything's starting from zero so even if you've mentioned in the comments which you like, head over there and just quickly vote for it. Thanks!
  • March 8, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Should everyone just vote for one, or should we vote each one up or down?
  • March 8, 2011
    fs1034
    I'd say vote each one up or down, 1. Because that's how the system works, so there's no way to stop people doing it and not everyone will read all the comments, and 2. Because there may be titles that people particularly think do not describe this trope, so allowing the voting down will give us a better idea of which title people think truly fits best. Open to thoughts on this of course.

    Anyone can make arguments for or against a title here in the comments. Keeping with that, I'll once again point out the problems I personally see with It Has Parents, since people seem to like that one: Basically, this trope generally refers to the appearance of a single parent, typically a mother, so having parents in the title is falsely descriptive of the trope.
  • August 21, 2011
    peccantis
    Any objections to launching under winning name?
  • August 21, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    Not from me. I like Cute Cubs Mean Danger. It made me think of the Foreshadowing in the film XMen2: the kid who doesn't sleep is watching a nature documentary showing animal young in danger just before Stryker's raid on the Xavier School, and Xavier's young are defended by an angry Wolverine.
  • August 22, 2011
    nitrokitty
    In Sons Of Guns, Will tells Vince a story about going on a hiking trip, finding wild dog puppies, only to have Daddy come charging out of the bushes ready to attack his daughter.
  • February 22, 2012
    Catbert
    Bump. Anyone still working on this?
  • February 23, 2012
    Arivne
    The OP fs1034 hasn't edited this trope since March 2011, so this is definitely Up For Grabs. They're also apparently no longer on TV Tropes, so there's not much point trying to PM them first.
  • February 23, 2012
    Bisected8
    It's probably best to PM them to be sure. They might be still reading without contributing or still be editing but forgotten this YKTTW.
  • February 23, 2012
    Dawnwing
    If anyone picks this up, here's another example:

    Film:
    • In Alpha And Omega, Humphrey plays with a bear cub and accidentally makes it cry. The cub's mama and two of her friends come along to make Humphrey pay for it.
  • February 23, 2012
    chicagomel
    And another. In Old Yeller it's a literal mama bear, when Arliss is playing around trying to catch the bear cub.
  • February 23, 2012
    Catbert
    I'm taking this over.
  • February 23, 2012
    MetaFour
    • Mystery Science Theater 3000: The crew watch Catching Trouble, in which outdoorsman Ross captures wild animals for zoos. When Ross begins harassing some bear cubs, Joel and the 'bots begin wishing that mama bear would show up and attack.
  • February 24, 2012
    benjamminsam
    In Final Fantasy VII, examining a bird's nest nets a bunch of Phoenix Down but also cues an encounter with a bird enemy - presumably the mother of the nesting eggs.
  • February 25, 2012
    SharleeD
    Quibble: The claim that mother animals rarely leave their babies isn't true for all species. Many will leave their young hidden in a nest or brush for hours while they forage for food; returning to tend the babies too often increases the risk of a predator observing them going back and forth from the hiding place. Indeed, one way that this trope can apply in Real Life is if humans find the hidden baby, assume it's been abandoned or lost by its mother, and linger to care for it until the Mama Bear returns.
  • February 25, 2012
    Dawnwing
    1. What happened to the description? I agree that the page image, while it fit the trope, was probably too big, but the description was fine and didn't need to be cut.

    2. Alpha and Omega is Film, not Live Action Television.
  • February 25, 2012
    Catbert
    I trimmed it down. It was over reliant on Example As Thesis. I'll probably modify it more before launch. When I launch, I'm going to do a modified version of the picture, but it was cluttering up the draft too much.
  • February 25, 2012
    Dawnwing
    Ah, I see, sounds good then.
  • February 27, 2012
    Catbert
    Bump for examples and hats.
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