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A Horrible Judge Of Character when it comes to animals
(permanent link) added: 2014-07-23 11:44:28 sponsor: rt2012 (last reply: 2014-07-29 10:03:58)

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There's an old Native American story in which a boy encounters a rattlesnake. The snake asks the boy to pick him up and be his friend. After the boy does so, the snake bites him. When the boy, now dying, asks, "Why did you bite me?" the snake merely responds, "You knew what I was when you picked me up."

Some characters in fiction suffer from the same delusions. No matter how dangerous an animal is, no matter how sharp its teeth or claws are, no matter how many people it has eaten, they insist that it's perfectly safe to be around and get cozy with. Sometimes this stems from a mindset that Humans Are the Real Monsters or "we can learn so much about them", but more often than not, it leads to someone else getting killed or seriously injured.

Related tropes: A subversion of Friend to All Living Things. Characters like this usually are a Horrible Judge of Character except applied to animals instead of people, and will often be Too Dumb to Live. A character may become this if he loves animals but Animals Hate Him. May be a member of an Animal Wrongs Group.


Examples:

Film - Live Action
  • Nick and Sarah, a pair of animal rights activists in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, cause nearly every single death in the movie and almost get themselves killed several times because of their stubborn beliefs that Humans Are the Real Monsters. First, Sarah is nearly impaled by a stegosaurus when she tries to pet its baby. They then release all the captive dinosaurs, causing a stampede in the camp, and bring a wounded baby T-rex back to their lab to nurse it back to health. This turns out just as you'd expect, and they get an innocent character killed and lose their radio equipment (along with their entire lab) in the process when Mama and Papa Rex come for them. This forces the rest of the characters to hike through raptor territory in order to reach the nearest communication source. And to top it all off, Nick unloads the hunter's gun and removes their only practical means of self-defense by doing so.
  • The events of 28 Days Later were kicked off by a bunch of animal-rights activists liberating a bunch of infected monkeys from a lab.
  • In Elf, Buddy runs into a raccoon and goes over to pet it. The raccoon hisses at him, but Buddy thinks he just needs a hug. That's when the raccoon attacks him.
  • The Werner Herzog documentary "Grizzly Man" shows the life of Timothy Treadwell, who was one of these in Real Life, and the horrible death that befell him and his girlfriend because Nature Is Not Nice.

Literature
  • Hagrid in Harry Potter, who is known to befriend all sorts of dangerous beasties, from dragons, to flesh-eating books.

Western Animation
  • In the South Park episode "Rainforest Schmainforest", a Costa Rican tour guide reassures a frightened Stan that coral snakes are more scared of humans than we are of them - just before the snake attacks him, swallows him whole, and poops him out in a matter of seconds.
- Mrs. Stevens: "Jesus Christ, is he dead?!"
  • Leela in Futurama is this way. In "The Sting", she gets Fry killed although it's just a dream by bringing a killer space bee aboard the Planet Express because "it's so cuuuutteee!" In "Bender's Game", she refuses to save her friends from a giant worm called the Tunneling Horror because she has just vowed to never kill another living thing.

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