Monster Munch
A character whose only role in the story is to be eaten.
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(permanent link) added: 2012-10-28 14:48:03 sponsor: CarrieVS edited by: StarSword (last reply: 2012-11-18 12:40:02)

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A character is Monster Munch if they're only there to be killed -- and often eaten, hence the trope name -- by whatever it is that's lurking in the shadows. Their death usually comes within a scene or two of their introduction, and it's literally the first thing of importance that they contribute to.

Often, springing out at them is actually how the monster is discovered by the protagonists or revealed to the audience. Or else it's how we find out that the Killer Rabbit is not your average fluffy bunny, or just to demonstrate exactly what horrible way it kills you.

Whatever the circumstances, the only point of their death, and therefore of their existence, is to show off the monster.

This trope differs from Sacrificial Lamb in that the death isn't to provoke an emotional response (although it may do) from characters or the audience, but for more practical purposes.

Simply dying to tell us about the monster doesn't fulfill this trope: a character is only Monster Munch if they have no other role than as a snack.

This character is often a Red Shirt (or sometimes a Mook, because monsters don't always remember who's side they're on). The distinction is that in this trope the character is killed by a monster or animal for 'animal' reasons, typically for food. They needn't be literally eaten to fulfill this trope, though: the creature in question might, for instance, drink their blood, or lay eggs in them (although this is unlikely to qualify unless it's a very short gestation).

Examples

Film
  • When the T-rex gets loose in Los Angeles in Jurassic Park II: The Lost World, there's a brief shot of a random civilian being eaten. He was never seen before, and presumably not since.
  • Guy in Galaxy Quest: in the original TV show, he's a One-Scene Wonder Red Shirt who "dies to show the audience how dangerous the situation is" and "Got eaten by a lava monster before the first commercial." However, he's shown as a tearful coward throughout the movie. Ultimately subverted, as when the show is Un-Cancelled, he becomes the Security Chief of the ship.
  • As alluded to in our page description, Sirs Bors, Gawain, and Ector in Monty Python and the Holy Grail exist entirely to be killed by the Killer Rabbit.

Literature
  • The prologue of A Game of Thrones features three characters, two of whom immediately die at the hands of the Others, proving that they do exist after all. Somewhat subverted in that they both come back as wights, so this isn't, strictly speaking, their only role.
  • Ensign Davis in the prologue of Redshirts exists purely to be eaten by a Borgovian Land Worm. Another unnamed ensign got eaten by an ice shark off-screen. Since the book's premise is turning the titular trope inside-out, the presence of Monster Munch shouldn't be surprising.

Live-Action TV
  • A young Carmine Giovinazzo in the very first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who pretty much is only there to be killed by the vampire and is credited only as "Boy".
  • Supernatural's Cold Opening usually involves a random civilian being killed in spectacular fashion (and often eaten) by the Monster of the Week.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series. While Red Shirts died in great numbers on this show, they were sometimes killed by the Monster of the Week, often in the first scene.
    • "Obsession". A couple of red shirt security personnel are drained of blood and killed by the vampire cloud in the opening scene.
    • "The Devil in the Dark". Two miners and an Enterprise Security man are destroyed by the Horta's acid secretions, one in the first scene.
    • ''Wolf in the Fold". Several women are slaughtered by the "Jack the Ripper" entity during the episode. One of them died before the opening credits.
  • Various small mammals in Dinosaurs existed only to be the dinosaurs' food, even though they were sentient and sometimes had dialogue.
  • LOST. The Pilot gets killed by The Monster right after he is seen. The only other thing he does that's important is always wear a ring, and that only briefly comes up in Season 4.

Tabletop Games
  • In Traveller Double Adventure 5: The Chamax Plague, one of the NPCs who accompanies the PCs on their mission is Cal Yotisk. The referee is encouraged to use him as the first victim of the alien Chamax to show the PCs what they're up against.
  • Basic Dungeons & Dragons supplement GAZ1 The Grand Duchy of Karameikos, adventure "Toys of the Madman". The PCs and a few NPCs are kidnapped and placed in a dungeon. Some of the NPCs are there to be killed and eaten by monsters to show the PCs what they're up against.

Indices: Cast Filler Tropes, Characters as Device, Dead Herring, This Index Is Expendable, Death Tropes

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