Created By: CobraPrime on February 14, 2013 Last Edited By: DAN004 on February 3, 2015
Troped

Dire Beast

A larger, meaner version of a common animal, often spikier.

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Trope
DAN 004 wuz ere takin over ur druft


And you thought bears were bad news before you met one the size of an African elephant.

The dire animal: a larger, often more "prehistoric"-looking version of a normal animal. Popular in fantasy works. After all, watching your hero fight a rat the size of ... well, a rat is hardly impressive, but make it the size of a small dog, now that is amazing. And a wolf is threatening, but a sabre-toothed wolf the size of a bear... Well, that's even more impressive.

Nonetheless, Dire Animals have become a staple of fantasy works, often serving as early game enemies (with Dire Rats ideal for a Rat Stomp). Dire version of more impressive animals can still pose a challenge later in the story (Dire Bears the size of elephants, Dire Tyrannosaurus Rex) but most often these form one of the earliest challenge heroes must face.

Dire Animals may fit into various subtropes depending on what animals they are: Bears Are Bad News, Rodents of Unusual Size, Big, Badass Wolf, Panthera Awesome, Scary Scorpions, Giant Enemy Crab, Creepy Centipedes, Full-Boar Action etc...

Invariably causes Animals Not to Scale. Related to Whateversaurus. Subtrope of Bigger Is Better. Compare Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever when these beasts turn gigantic.


Examples

Film
  • In The Killer Shrews relatively giant shrews are attacking and killing. The "giant shrews" are played by German Shepard dogs with not very convincing makeup.

Literature
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Dire Wolf is the symbol of house Stark. At adulthood, if the TV show is any indication, they grow to the size of a horse. Everyone of Ned Stark's children is given a Dire Wolf pup as a companion early in the first book.
  • In The Pendragon Adventure "Quigs" take the form of some local wild fauna but are even more dangerous and single-minded to attack Bobby and his friends. On one territory they look like bears, another (undersea) they're sharks, on earth they're dogs, etc. On one territory where man isn't the dominant species they look human.
  • Wargs in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are perfect examples of dire wolves, even though they are never referred to as such. Also, Beorn's animal form could be considered a dire bear, and oliphaunts are, practically, dire elephants (in the films, the book implied they were just ordinary elephants).

Tabletop Games
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • This game is likely the Trope Codifier: Dire Animals are numerous, and Dire Rats, Badgers, Wolves and Bears are staples of the game and many adaptation, but more creative examples include Dire Crocodiles and Dire Sharks. Basically any animal you can think of often has a dire version. Dire animals are distinguished by their size and being covered in spikes.
    • In 3.5, even Dire Animals had their own "more dire" counterpart in the form of "Legendary" beasts and "Paragon" beasts.
  • Savage Worlds includes numerous dire beasties in its core rulebook's list of pre-generated foes.
  • Exalted has a bunch of super-sized animals found across the setting. They're usually some kind of Wyld mutant or supernatural creature.
  • In the Penny Arcade expansion pack for the game Munchkin, one of the treasures is a "Dire Teddy Bear". [1]
    • While Munchkin: Legends has the "Dire" monster buff.

Video Games
  • Dire creatures appear in Final Fantasy XII. Dire Rats and Dire Flans.
  • Dire wolves appear in RuneScape's forest of Isafdar as larger-sized versions of their cousins, guarding the entrance to the Elven city of Lletya.
  • Dire wolves are a pain in the ass in Age of Empires II, due to their propensity to violently murder your villagers.
  • Dire Wolves appear in The Battle for Middle-Earth. They did not appear in the books however (instead there were Wargs).
  • World of Warcraft has a ton of dire animals: Dire Wolves, Dire Boars, Dire Bats, Dire Apes, Dire Condors and Dire Lions.
  • In the Diablo franchise, there are often large, mean versions of common animals, especially spiders. Justified in the cosmology since all animals were originally based on demons, and are easily corrupted.
  • Dragon Age: Origins has the "Blighted" versions of some animals, such as spiders, wolves, and bears, which are bigger and tougher than their baseline counterparts. The blighted bear (known as "Bereskarn") in particular is much larger and even grows bony spikes all over its body.
  • In South Park: The Stick of Truth, Canada (in 16-bit top down view) has a whole array of dire woodlands creature like bears, snakes and spiders. Oh, and dire AIDS too, they're like regular AIDS but dire.

Real Life
  • In prehistoric times, there were many larger, meaner, versions of the animals we had today. Woolly Mammoths, Sabre-toothed Tigers to name a few. In fact Dire Wolves are apparently based off of canine ancestors from many millenia ago.
  • Another real-life example: Aurochs, the ancestors of cattle. It took some kind of serious badassery to domesticate them.

Community Feedback Replies: 51
  • February 14, 2013
    thewriter

    Real Life

    • In prehistoric times, there were many larger, meaner, versions of the animals we had today. Woolly Mammoths, Sabre-toothed Tigers to name a few. In fact Dire Wolves are apparently based off of canine ancestors from many millenia ago.
  • February 14, 2013
    troacctid
    • Dire wolves appear in Rune Scape's forest of Isafdar as larger-sized versions of their cousins, guarding the entrance to the Elven city of Lletya.
  • February 14, 2013
    AKSuperNewb
    • Dire wolves are a pain in the ass in Age Of Empires II, due to their propensity to violently murder your villagers.
  • February 15, 2013
    Stratadrake
    I feel like ninjaing that sentence in the middle. No way is it not linking to Rodents Of Unusual Size somehow.
  • February 15, 2013
    CobraPrime
    ^^^^ Dire Wolves are based of Dire Wolves (Which wasn't an ancestor of modern canines, as they existed at the same time as it and led to its extinction.)
  • February 15, 2013
    m8e
    Related to Whateversaurus.
  • February 15, 2013
    StarSword
    Cleaned up page: folders, namespaces, and image formatting. Also replaced deprecated trope name Everythings Worse With Bears with Bears Are Bad News, its replacement.
  • February 15, 2013
    CobraPrime
    Image was formated that way because YKTTW doesn't take right sided caption. It'll be right sided when the page is launched
  • February 15, 2013
    StarSword
    Okey-dokey.
  • February 15, 2013
    elwoz
    Elaborating on thewriter's Real Life example: many of the stock Dire Beasts are based on now-extinct Pleistocene megafauna. Despite how large they loom in legend, archaeological consensus is that most of them aren't around anymore because we killed and ate them.
  • February 15, 2013
    Enkidu
    It seems to me like there should be a trope for that prefix + enemy thing. I can't a page for it, so I'm assuming there isn't one already. If that is really the case, then does anyone think that this YKTTW should be expanded to include prefixes other than dire, or should a separate (super)trope be created?
  • February 15, 2013
    CobraPrime
    I think it'd be a super trope, since the Dire version alone is common enough, and shares specific traits to be tropeable on its own.

    ^^ Looking for more media examples. Real Life stuff doesn't provide Wiki Magic when a page is launched.
  • February 15, 2013
    GuesssWho
    Cave bears really were about like the dire bear in that picture.
  • February 19, 2013
    CobraPrime
    ^ Not according to Wikipedia, they were comparable to modern day bears.
  • February 19, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In The Pendragon Adventure "Quigs" take the form of some local wild fauna but are even more dangerous and single-minded to attack Bobby and his friends. On one territory they look like bears, another (undersea) they're sharks, on earth they're dogs, etc. On one territory where man isn't the dominant species they look human.
  • February 19, 2013
    LordGro
    Two questions:
    • Is this specifically about creatures named "Dire <Insert Species>", or is this about the concept "much larger version of a real present-day animal"?
    • Secondly, is this about a species only, or is a singular exemplar of a normal species which has, for whatever reasons, grown to giant size also a Dire Beast?
  • February 19, 2013
    Ekuran
    • Exalted has a bunch of super-sized animals found across the setting. They're usually some kind of Wyld mutant or supernatural creature.
  • February 20, 2013
    CobraPrime
    ^ Dire (Insert Species). Those usually turn out to be "much larger version of a real present-day animal"

    Giant animals are not this if its not presented as a species' trait.
  • February 20, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Anime
    • The forest gods in Princess Mononoke appear in animal form many times normal size, dwarfing fragile humans in comparison.
  • February 21, 2013
    LordGro
    ^^ I see. (So Exalted and Princess Mononoke don't count.)
  • February 27, 2013
    dvorak
    Some settings use "dire" to mean a zombie version of said animal.
  • March 5, 2013
    CobraPrime
    Which ones?
  • March 7, 2013
    Generality
    Another real-life example: Aurochs, the ancestors of cattle. It took some kind of serious badassery to domesticate them.

    • In the Diablo franchise, there are often large, mean versions of common animals, especially spiders. Justified in the cosmology since all animals were originally based on demons, and are easily corrupted.
  • March 8, 2013
    StarSword
    Heck, probably all of the more famous mammals from the Ice Ages were these. Giant ground sloths, enormous wolves, mammoths and mastodons, etc. Australia got giant opossums and the like, as well as giant marsupial wolves.
  • December 12, 2014
    wrm5
    Has this YKTTW been abandoned? If so, would anyone mind if I launched it?
  • December 12, 2014
    DAN004
    Won't this be simply covered by Bigger Is Better?
  • December 13, 2014
    Koveras
    • Dragon Age Origins has the "Blighted" versions of some animals, such as spiders, wolves, and bears, which are bigger and tougher than their baseline counterparts. The blighted bear (known as "Bereskarn") in particular is much larger and even grows bony spikes all over its body.
  • December 13, 2014
    TheHandle
    Parodied in South Part The Stick Of Truth: every animal you encounter in Canada is dire.
  • December 13, 2014
    Duncan
  • December 13, 2014
    Arivne
  • December 13, 2014
    Snicka
    • Wargs in The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings are perfect examples of dire wolves, even though they are never referred to as such. Also, Beorn's animal form could be considered a dire bear, and oliphaunts are, practically, dire elephants.
  • December 14, 2014
    zarpaulus
    Ditch "Why do normal wolves and dire wolves often coexist and share ecosystem without one driving the other to extinction by killing one another or driving out prey is also never elaborated upon."

    Dire wolves didn't compete with the precursors of normal wolves because they hunted different prey. Dire wolves were specifically adapted to eat large and slow-moving megafauna like mammoths, and they died out when their prey died out. Notice that mammoths are still extant in Game of Thrones.
  • December 14, 2014
    acrobox
    Star Wars: We never see them on camera but while discussing Death Star battle plans we hear that their opening is going to only b about 2 meters long. To which Luke responds "I used to bulls-eye womp rats in my T-16 back home, they're not much bigger than 2 meters." Just what kind of rats is he talking about??
  • December 14, 2014
    DAN004
  • December 15, 2014
    Snicka
    Many of the suggested examples (including mine) don't count if it's a requirement to have "dire" as part of the creature's name.
  • December 15, 2014
    eroock
  • December 15, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^ what, I don't see that blurb in the description...
  • December 15, 2014
    Snicka
    ^ True, it isn't in the description, it was just in the comments. So either add this piece of information to the description, or add the examples...
  • December 15, 2014
    StellarBlitz
    Played For Laughs in The Princess Bride with the Rodents of Unusual Size. They're about the size of a Rottweiler.
  • December 15, 2014
    randomsurfer
    In The Killer Shrews relatively giant shrews are attacking and killing. The "giant shrews" are played by German Shepard dogs with not very convincing makeup.
  • December 15, 2014
    DAN004
    Who's managing this anyway?
  • December 27, 2014
    wrm5
    Pretty sure this has been orphaned, which is why I asked if it should just be launched already.
  • December 27, 2014
    DAN004
    Gonna grab this ;)
  • December 28, 2014
    sgtpendulum
    So this trope is about beasts but dire?

    • In South Park The Stick Of Truth, Canada(in 16-bit top down view) has a whole array of dire woodlands creature like bears, snakes and spiders. Oh, and dire AIDS too, they're like regular AIDS but dire.
  • December 28, 2014
    Snicka
    Add examples please.
  • December 28, 2014
    zarpaulus
    Added examples.
  • January 13, 2015
    DAN004
    Is zarpaulus still there?
  • January 13, 2015
    zarpaulus
    Yes, but I don't feel like launching this trope since I didn't start it.
  • January 13, 2015
    DAN004
    Aye, I can launch this later then.

    I just need indices.
  • February 3, 2015
    DAN004
    Bump for more examples, maybe?
  • February 3, 2015
    acrobox
    ^Go through the comments. There are already a lot of examples in the thread that havent been added.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=kzc9wvezjycso841g2dfdiem