Created By: Theriocephalus on May 24, 2018 Last Edited By: Theriocephalus on May 27, 2018
Troped

Brutish Bulls

Fictional bulls are often portrayed as violent, aggressive and bad-tempered brutes who live for charging things down.

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Bulls are not, in general, animals with stellar reputations. Real-life bulls are territorial, protective of their herds and often easily provoked, and tend to react to perceived threats, rivals and irritations by means of a headlong charge to gore or trample the target of their frustration. This has resulted in fictional depictions of bulls almost always portraying them as violent, bad-tempered creatures that will gore or trample hapless targets at any provocation. They are also not likely to be terribly bright, even in worlds of Funny Animals and Intellectual Animals. The result is a standard portrayal of fictional bulls as dim-witted brutes with anger issues, easily riled but easily outwitted. Bulls are also one of the most likely types of herbivores to be portrayed as villains, in contrast to the usual depictions of carnivores and herbivores in media.

Note that this only usually applies to male cattle. Cows tend to be portrayed as much more friendly, easygoing and calm than their male counterparts, even though real cows can be just as aggressive and dangerous as bulls if provoked.

Oftentimes, especially in cartoons and/or when in the context of bullfighting, these bulls will be depicted with solid black coats. These bulls will also usually sport large horns, and their victims will be subjects to Horn Attacks.

Since Tropes Are Flexible, other bovines such as buffalo, bison, yaks or fictional bull-like animals can also fill this role, as can brutish and aggressive characters or factions for whom the bull is a prominent Animal Motif.

See Bull Seeing Red for a common provocation of a bull's bad temper. Compare Rhino Rampage and Full-Boar Action for similar portrayals of violent fictional ungulates. Contrast Everything's Better with Cows. Not to be confused with A Load of Bull, which is about minotaurs and other anthropomorphic bovines, although minotaurs are rarely pleasant fellows either.
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    Anime and Manga 
  • In One Piece's Dressrosa arc, during the Corrida Colosseum tournament, one of the "participants" is a bull called "The Brutal Bull" who plows through the gladiators by the dozens. Not long after, however, Luffy (the protagonist) manages to tame it and then ride on it to smash more gladiators.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: Many ox creatures are printed with the ability "haste", which causes them to attack the moment they're put into play rather than waiting a turn like most creatures do. Even those that don't tend to have references to fictional bulls' typical bad tempers in their flavor text:
    The good news is it's vegetarian. The bad news is it just doesn't like you. — flavor text for " Ironhoof Ox"

    Comics 
  • In the Italian Funny Animals comic Lupo Alberto (Alberto the Wolf), Krug the bull is far and away the most feared animal on the Mackenzie farm. He's not particularly bright — he barely ever speaks, his vocal repertoire being largely limited to grunts — but he's massive, extremely strong and has a notoriously foul temper. It says a lot that even Moses, the farm's shotgun-wielding Angry Guard Dog, is absolutely terrified of him. His presence is one of the few things that can habitually quell the fights between Moses and Alberto, as the two canids' fear of getting on his bad side easily outweighs their usual animosity.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW): In "The Good, the Bad, and the Ponies", the town of Canter Creek is menaced by a band of literal cattle rustlers, a band of bandit bulls led by the villainous Chief Longhorn, who are attempting to take control of the town through ruthless attacks and fear tactics.

    Film — Animated 
  • Ferdinand: The other bulls in the story are being trained to be bull fighters and tend to be violent and aggressive. Ferdinand himself is a pacifist who would only like to keep smelling the flowers. The main bovine antagonist, Valiente, is a much better fit — he's aggressive and short-tempered, and lives for battle.

    Literature 
  • Feet of Clay has Rogers the bull, a bull with bad binocular vision who believes himself to be two separate bulls with one eye each (hence Rogers). He's not perpetually angry but he is prone to charging things.
  • Humorously inverted in The Story of Ferdinand and the subsequent animated and CGI adaptations. The titular bull, while massive and strong, is peaceful and easygoing. The humor of the story derives from the deliberate and extreme subversion of this trope, particularly in-universe where people expect the big and strong Ferdinand to be as aggressive as the other bulls and keep trying, and failing, to make him fight in the bullfighting arena.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh: After being spurned by Gilgamesh, Innana sends the Bull of Heaven to drain the Euphrates dry, requiring both Gilgamesh and Enkidu to defeat it.

    Videogames 
  • Invoked in Aggressors of Dark Kombat with Leonhalt Domador, a Garbage Wrestler who's also the Mighty Glacier and one of the brutish fighters of this game. While he is not a bull himself, it is a prominent Animal Motif for him: Leonhalt has the Red Baron title of "The Black Bull", has a skull of a bull on his jacket and his stage is in a desert with skeletons of bulls in the background.
  • Pokémon:
    • Tauros, the archetypal bull Pokemon, is regularly described in its Pokedex entries as violent, short-tempered and very fond of charging things down. A Tauros with no enemy to charge will take out its frustration by ramming and uprooting large trees until it calms down. This is subverted with those native to Alola, which are stated to be somewhat calmer and more even-tempered than those found elsewhere in the world.
    • Bouffalant, a buffalo-like Pokemon that serves as Tauros' counterpart species in Unova, is likewise described as prone to charging and headbutting anything it sees. It can apparently charge with enough force to derail a train.
  • Averted in Poseidon: Master of Atlantis, where bulls serve to defend cattle from predators but don't act aggressively towards humans.

    Western Animation 
  • Bully for Bugs: Toro the huge black bull takes downright sadistic pleasure in fighting and charging opponents. While doing this with the toreador he charges down at the beginning of the short is potentially understandable, his unprovoked attack on Bugs seems motivated entirely by petty malice. Throughout the short, Toro relies on straightforward attacks and powerful charges (and a shotgun after he accidentally swallows it), and is at the end easily outwitted by the clever Bugs.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The yaks are uniformly portrayed as stubborn, arrogant and not particularly bright. They all talk in Hulk Speak, without conjugating verbs or using pronouns or proper nouns (they refer to themselves and everyone else by using the person's species instead), and fly into rages whenever their ridiculously high standards for everything aren't met, violently smashing and trampling whatever objects failed to live up to their expectations.

    Real Life 
  • The Cape Buffalo is one of the most dangerous animals in Africa, killing more than 200 people a year.

Community Feedback Replies: 13
  • May 25, 2018
    Chabal2
    • Averted in Poseidon Master Of Atlantis, where bulls serve to defend cattle from predators but don't act aggressively towards humans.
    • The Epic Of Gilgamesh: After being spurned by Gilgamesh, Innana sends the Bull of Heaven to drain the Euphrates dry, requiring both Gilgamesh and Enkidu to defeat it.
    • Feet Of Clay has Rogers the bull, a bull with bad binocular vision who believes himself to be two separate bulls with one eye each (hence Rogers). He's not perpetually angry but he is prone to charging things.
    • Averted by the Egyptian bull god Apis, who represented strength and fertility but wasn't particularly violent.
    • Real Life: The Cape Buffalo is one of the most dangerous animals in Africa, killing more than 200 people a year.
  • May 25, 2018
    Lawman592
    Inverted by Ferdinand in The Story Of Ferdinand and the subsequent animated and CGI adaptations.
  • May 25, 2018
    Synchronicity
    Contrast Everythings Better With Cows.

    • Ferdinand: The other bulls in the story are being trained to be bull fighters and tend to skew more violent and aggressive. Ferdinand himself is a pacifist who would only like to keep smelling the flowers.
  • May 25, 2018
    4tell0life4
    • In One Piece's Dressrosa arc, during the Corrida Colosseum tournament, one of the "participants" is a bull called "The Brutal Bull" who plows through the gladiators by the dozens. Not long after, however, Luffy (the protagonist) manages to tame it and then ride on it to smash more gladiators.
  • May 25, 2018
    Miss_Desperado
    Hmmm, the new image is okay enough for now, but someone might complain that it's Just A Face And A Caption, so Keep Until Better Image Suggestion.
  • May 25, 2018
    Theriocephalus
    ^ Yeah, that's a fair point. I was considering using this one instead, from the same cartoon — does it look like it would be a better choice?
  • May 25, 2018
    Miss_Desperado
    ^Hmmm... is there a point in the cartoon where Bugs is more obviously being hurt/scared/tormented by the bull? E.g. the bull's sharp horns induce a Pain Powered Leap?
  • May 26, 2018
    Snicka
    Herbivores Are Friendly should be mentioned together with Carnivores Are Mean.
  • May 26, 2018
    Theriocephalus
    This is looking very solid right now: besides waiting for the requisite three days, the main thing needed now is a good picture to illustrate the trope. The current one doesn't really do the job by itself, as Miss_Desperado pointed out, and I couldn't find or take a good screenshot from the cartoon that does the job to my satisfaction. The one I have that I somewhat like shows them both from behind, which more or less does the job, but could be better. Does anyone have any ideas for a page image?
  • May 27, 2018
    Snicka
    I think the current picture is fine, it is clearly a bull, and it looks angry and violent, complete with Red Eyes Take Warning - which is pretty much the point of the trope.
  • May 27, 2018
    Snicka
    One more sentence to add to the Description, maybe:

    These bulls will usually sport large horns, and their victims will be subjects to Horn Attack.
  • May 27, 2018
    Basara-kun
    Video Games:
    • Invoked in Aggressors Of Dark Kombat with Leonhalt Domador, a Garbage Wrestler who's also the Mighty Glacier and one of the brutish fighters of this game. Leonhalt has the Red Baron of "The Black Bull", also included a skull of a bull on his jacket and his stage is in a desert with skeletons of bulls on the background.
  • May 27, 2018
    Theriocephalus
    Right, I think I'll be launching this soon. I'l keep the picture for now, it should serve its purpose just fine unless something clearly better comes along. I'll keep the draft here for a bit in case anyone has any last comments or thoughts, but if not I'll launch this in an hour or two.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=bk92xakegt56fgz2uu4w07u7