Predator Turned Protector
A predator character for some reason chooses to protect their prey


(permanent link) added: 2012-11-18 12:25:09 sponsor: PhilHair edited by: DAN004 (last reply: 2014-10-14 04:08:26)

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For once in a while, a predator may refuse to harm his natural prey or enemy, instead choosing to protect it.

The reasons may vary widely: the two develops kinship to each other, the "prey" is an orphan/has Parental Abandonment, the predator being helpless and the prey comes to help him, etc. The protection may extend to only one individual, to a small group (such as a family), or to the entire species or group. Said protection likely will include protection against the predator's own kind.

This trope is different than Morality Pet in that the decision to become a protector is irrevocable and is likely to invoke a Heel-Face Turn on the part of the predator. Said protection may be permanent or temporary depending on whether the predator's intent is to return the Prey back to his family, group, or natural environment. (The intent is always what's best for the prey, yet another difference between this trope and Morality Pet.) Failure to protect the prey will cause anguish to the predator, especially if he has to watch. The younger/more helpless the prey, the more extreme, the more violent the predator will be in protecting him, up to full on Papa Wolf or Mama Bear.

A predator is almost by definition badass, but a predator lacking fear and not even caring if he lives or dies is both unpredictable and scary. This trope seldom or never involves a sexual attraction/ relationship between the two, and the predator may not even like the prey. Predators tend to be solitary hunters, but a Predator turned protector will both accept and solicit assistance in protecting the prey. The conclusive proof that that the trope applies is change: the predator is unable to return to his former ways at the end.

More cynically, any Empire will do this for its new subjects when it is well established simply because they are now taxpayers instead of prey. In another case, a predator may simply try to protect their prey from other predators so that he can have the prey all by himself.

Supertrope to Androcles' Lion, sister trope to Friendly Neighborhood Vampire. Expect Hitman with a Heart to do this a lot. When applied to hostage situations, this becomes Lima Syndrome. Compare Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work where the bad guys saved the good guys from having to Shoot the Dog, often without meaning to help in the first place.


Examples:

Anime & Manga
  • Naruto: the Nine Tailed Fox is originally a gigantic beast that is hostile to human society, but after he's sealed in Naruto's body, he's forced to protect Naruto from within and give him support in dire needs, because if Naruto dies, so will him.

Film - Animated
  • In Monsters, Inc., Sulley (a monster whose job is scaring children) chose to be a protector to Boo (a human child). His objective was to protect Boo and return her to her home and family. His reactions upon "seeing" Boo crushed was a Shout Out to Feed the Kitty (below). In the film's climax, Sulley went full Papa Wolf to protect Boo. He even said "Nothing else matters."
  • Ice Age: Diego (a saber-toothed cat) helped Manny (a mammoth) and his 'herd' to return a human child to his father, despite having been ordered to deliver the child to Diego's pride to be eaten. Although Diego had no particular love for the child, he did act as a protector, though more out of loyalty to Manny's 'herd' than anything else.
  • In An American Tail, Tiger (a cat) and Fievel Mousekewitz (a mouse) had become friends. In the sequel, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, Tiger chose the role of a Protector, directly opposing other cats (all more badass than Tiger) to save Fievel, his family, and the other mice in town. To do so, Tiger took a level by learning how to be a dog. In the film's climax, Tiger tried to stop the killing of all the town's mice, and what started out as a last stand turned into a curb-stomp battle as first the training kicked in, then Tiger entered unstoppable rage and became a one-cat army. This is a milder form of the trope since Tiger never sought to harm Fievel (or apparently any other mouse), but cats are predators of mice, and Tiger opposed other cats to protect mice, so the trope definitely applies.
  • The protagonist of Dreamworks' How to Train Your Dragon constructs a weighted-net launcher that successfully knocks a dreaded Night Fury dragon out of the sky during a dragon raid. Hiccup ventures into the hills to find the fallen dragon and slay it. Upon finding his objective, however, Hiccup takes mercy on the creature, and actually works to hide it from his fellow Vikings.

Film - Live-Action
  • Schindler's List: An extreme example heavily based on real events during WWII. Oskar Schindler started as a businessman and Nazi Party member in Nazi Germany, manufacturing war material. When he discovered that his Jewish employees were slated for death, he did everything in his power to save as many as he could. At the end of the movie, what should have been his moment of triumph for saving more than 1000 Jews instead saw him breaking down in sorrow and shame that he didn't save more, that he still had anything (money or possessions) to his name (by which he could have saved more).
  • Demonstrated while being subverted in the first 3 Terminator films.
    • In the first film, the T-800 (the titular Terminator) was a cold, emotionless, killing machine whose sole existence was to kill Sarah Connor and thus prevent John Connor from being born and creating the resistance in the future.
    • In the second film however, the T-800, while still emotionless, was now a protector of the now-born John Connor and his sole purpose was to protect him from the more dangerous T-1000.
    • Fully Justified in the third film as the T-850 reveals that he killed John Connor in the year 2032. During that time though, he had been reprogrammed by Kate Brewster (John Connor's wife) to prepare and protect John and Kate from the inevitable Judgement Day.

Literature
  • Harry Potter: Snape, as a Death Eater, found to his horror that his own actions marked the woman he loved (Lily Evans Potter) for death, causing a Heel-Face Turn. His actions were not enough to save her, so despite hating her son, Harry Potter (whose father, James Potter, had made Snape miserable at Hogwarts), Snape acted through the entire series to save Harry from all harm.
  • Twilight: The Cullens, a coven of vampires, are 'vegetarians' (do not drink human blood) due to choice and a treaty with the local werewolves and even act to protect a human (Bella), thus fitting (if loosely) under this trope.
  • Animorphs: One story has Tobias struggle with his dual hawk/human nature, trying to attack a baby rabbit but crashing into the ground each time. In the end, he kills the mother (from the hawk's viewpoint this is beyond stupid, as she could have produced more food) but watches over the babies. In another, Cassie learns of the location of skunk kits (their mother was hit by a Yeerk weapon) when Tobias says he caught and ate one. He ends up helping to guard them until the mother comes out of the vet clinic.
  • In Arcia Chronicles, Roman summons a lynx from the woods and binds its being to Prince Stefan, turning it into his supernatural protector. When Stefan is killed, the lynx transfers its loyalty to Gerika, his beloved.
  • In Mrs Frisby And The Rats Of Nimh, Mrs. Frisby the mouse saves her family using advice received from the Great Owl, whose usual diet includes mice. He's later revealed to be an ally of the rats, which he'd also normally be expected to eat.

Live-Action TV
  • On Buffy the Vampire Slayer Angel is a vampire who is out to save humans from vampires and other nasties.
  • On True Blood, after much of the world's vampire population becomes infected with Hep-V, which causes them to become violent, vampire Jessica Hambly vows to protect the Bellefleur family as her penance for previously killing three of Andy's daughters.

Video Games
  • MetroidFusion: The SA-X, which had spent the entire game hunting Samus, shows up at the last second to defend her from a very aggressive Omega Metroid

Western Animation
  • In Feed the Kitty (a classic Chuck Jones short), Marc Anthony (a bulldog) sought to protect Pussyfoot (a kitten). When it appeared Pussyfoot was killed, Marc Anthony suffered grievously. In Feline Frame-Up and Cat Feud (two additional shorts involving these characters), Marc Anthony went Papa Wolf to protect Pussyfoot from another cat, proving that his protection extended only to Pussyfoot. In these cases, tropers may reasonably argue whether Pussyfoot was a Morality Pet only instead.
  • Frequently happens in many old chaser cartoons like Tom and Jerry and Tweety Bird, where they might help a dog that beats ups the cat in return.
    • There are also plenty of episodes where Tom and Jerry, and sometimes even Tom, Jerry and Spike decide a mutual truce, that usually won't last til the end of the episode.
  • Played with in The Simpsons, in that the predator was a protector at first: Santa's Little Helper (the Simpson family dog) runs away from home and gets picked up by Mr. Burns & trained to be one of his new attack hounds. Later, Bart is on Burns' property looking for his missing dog and Burns releases the hounds, now led by SLH. SLH leaps at Bart, but as he's leaping in Slo Mo he remembers all the good things Bart did for him in the past. SLH drops, then turns to his fellow hounds and growls, protecting Bart from them.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, during Azulon's purging of the dragons, he told his son Iroh to kill the last two. He doesn't really want to do it, so he pretends to have killed them while he actually hid them in the Sun Tribe's territory.

Real Life
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