So you're hiking in the mountains, when suddenly, you misstep, slip down the cliff, hit your head on a rock(not hard enough to do permanent damage), drop your pack(filled with food, water, and the sleeping bag), and finally land at the base of the slope, with no way to get back up. So, you begin wandering. Eventually, as you begin to dehydrate, a frightening sight appears above you:
Vultures, circling their soon-to-be-dead prey.
In fiction, especially works for children, it's common for vultures to show up above a lost character to subtly imply that he/she's on the brink.
(Most of the examples below are taken from an old YKTTW
, but I lost the OP that had the description. Someone needs to write one.)
Film - Animated
- In the Round Robin Comic Book DC Challenge Aquaman is stranded in the desert, dying of dehydration. (This is the "can only be away from water 60 minutes" version of Aquaman.) Vultures are circling. What can he do? Wait until one lands and then open it up and drink its blood - since blood is like 98% water, it counts.
- In the EC Comics story "Carrion Death!" (Shock SuspenStories #9), a fugitive trudges through the desert for four days, handcuffed to the corpse of a state trooper he killed. He sees the vultures as his only chance to rid himself of the dead weight attached to his right arm, but after they have stripped the corpse clean he finds out that they do eat live flesh, too.
Film - Live Action
- Two vultures follow the Queen in her Wicked Witch disguise in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, as she goes to the cottage to get Snow White, and their presence alerts the Woodland Creatures that there is something seriously wrong about the "peddler woman" with her basket of apples. In the end, the vultures were not after Snow White at all, but after the Queen, and as she falls to her doom, the vultures slowly circle down after her.
- In The Lion King, vultures swoop down on an exhausted Simba, but are dispersed by Timon and Pumbaa "bowling for buzzards".
- Ice Age 2 had talking vultures circle the various creatures trying to escape the flood waiting for some to fail, leaving them with dinner.
- In Conan the Barbarian (1982), one vulture actually tries to peck the crucified Conan. Conan bites its neck and chokes it.
- They're not circling, but in Airplane! a bunch of vultures perch over the Heroes as they prepare to crash-land.
- Happens in Carry On...Follow That Camel as the troops march across the desert from the dry oasis.
- Dune. After Liet-Kynes is left in the desert to die, he sees hawks (the Dune equivalent of vultures) circling overhead.
- Used on Bones at least a couple of times - once when they were looking for some remains and saw vultures circling so they knew that that's where the remains were, and once when they were lost in the desert and saw vultures circling over them.
- On The Muppet Show, before performing the famous "Telephone Pole Bit", Fozzie tells Scooter that "we are gonna die" (meaning the skit is going to bomb), and as Scooter asks what makes him think that, the camera focuses on two vultures looking down on them.
- Used in Die Anstalt for one of Dolly's dream sequences, but the vultures are part-wolf.
- In Arthur, this is used(and mentioned), as the Francine and Fern draw attention to the fact that there's vultures above them when they're lost in the mountains.