->'''Rich:''' I'd ask you this question, Stew: who's really the worst monster in this so-called world of ours? Is it really the Medusa, the snake-haired temptress of olden times? Or is it another monster, Stew? A monster maybe a bit closer to home? A monster we call... man?\\
'''Stew:''' It's the medusa with all the snakes in her hair. That's the monster.\\
'''Rich:''' Yeah.\\
'''Stew:''' Yeah, it is, yeah.\\
'''Rich:''' Do you want to watch that celebrity arse video now?
-->-- '''Richard Herring and Stewart Lee''', ''Lee And Herring's Reasonably Scary Monsters''

If your world is a FantasyKitchenSink where the heroes spend [[MonsterOfTheWeek every week]] battling vampires, aliens, ghosts and fairies, one easy way to mix things up a little is to scrap the supernatural element altogether for a chapter and have the heroes fight something relatively mundane, be it a serial killer, a robber or even just a murderously grumpy animal.

Of course, since the heroes spend most of their time putting down creatures that are generally more dangerous and powerful than human beings, it's common to make these villains even more of a threat -- expect to see your heroes knocked about (physically or mentally) more than usual. [[ImAHumanitarian Cannibals]] are a common choice, largely because they border on monster-level weirdness anyway and aren't quite as played out as the SerialKiller.

To help make the threat even more convincing, you can expect the writers to make these episodes darker than the usual fare, possibly through gruesome horror or psychological tension. The latter is particularly useful, since it can lead to the characters inflicting nasty violence on ''humans'' [[WhatMeasureIsANonHuman rather than monsters]] for once. If the heroes can't kill humans then expect a KarmicDeath. And if the show is given to platitudes you can expect some "[[HumansAreTheRealMonsters the real monster is man]]" philosophising at the end -- even though the werewolves, zombies and demons that appear in all the other episodes [[BrokenAesop make it clear]] that the real monsters are ''monsters''.

The Mundanger may be part of a ScoobyDooHoax -- though with deadlier consequences than ScoobyDoo would ordinarily encounter. Contrast HowUnscientific, where a show set in an ordinary world features a seemingly real supernatural event in one episode.

Compare TheyLookJustLikeEveryoneElse and sister trope {{Mundangerous}} for superpowered beings being taken out by similarly low threat objects. If at all interested, the trope name [[DontExplainTheJoke is a portmanteau of "mundane" and "danger'']] and not some SuperRobot series you just about remember but turns out never existed. [[IThoughtItMeant Also has nothing to do with]] a certain moon of VideoGame/KerbalSpaceProgram.

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!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'', with the reveal in TheMovie that the final Angel is "mankind", in the form of an AllYourBaseAreBelongToUs attack on the Geofront.
** Jet Alone, a "malfunctioning" giant robot from a rival organization, also qualifies.
* The most [[MoodWhiplash vicious]], evil, and overall [[VillainBall nasty]] [[MonsterOfTheWeek Monsters Of The Week]] in ''HellTeacherNube'' are all ''human''. Such as the [[SinisterScythe masked serial killer]] who nearly murdered Kyoko and Hiroshi ([[spoiler:and got away]],) the con artists that did the same, the bank robbers who Nube humiliated with his supernatural skills until they shot at him with an Uzi, the kidnapper who took Nube's kids to a warehouse to kill them, the MadScientist who called down the {{Orochi}} upon the city...
* ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex'':
** In Light Novel Vol. 4, the heroes at one point have to deal with a SerialKiller named Jinsaku Hino, when they normally deal with espers and sorcerers.
** Touma Kamijou's [[AntiMagic Imagine Breaker]] makes him the perfect guy to deal with supernatural threats. Logically, it doesn't help him against mundane threats. He has to deal with street thugs and bullies the old fashioned way, and the magical organization GREMLIN gets GenreSavvy and hires armed mercenaries to deal with him, since he can't negate their mundane guns.
** In Light Novel Vol. 17, Touma and Index's plane gets hijacked by mundane terrorists, leading to a DieHardOnAnX plot.
* One episode of ''Anime/FullmetalAlchemist'', a series in which heroes and villains alike wield alchemic magic, deals with a comparatively less-flashy [[spoiler: cross-dressing]] serial killer.
* This happens in ''{{Parasyte}}''. Shinichi spends most of the series fighting increasingly powerful shapeshifting monsters, but one of his most dramatic confrontations was with a human serial killer.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic books]]
* In the ''ComicBook/{{Hellblazer}}'' arc "The Family Man", something that's gruesomely killing families turns out to just be an old man with a big knife. And the mysterious beastie that's eating people outside the town of Doglick in "Good Intentions" turns out to just be a giant boar.
** Notably, titular Family Man scares John more than most supernatural villains in the series.
* An arc in Todd [=McFarlane=]'s run on SpiderMan involved a series of gruesome slasher murders in the woods of Ontario. Spider-Man initially believed the murders to be the work of the monstrous Wendigo, but while investigating alongside {{Wolverine}} they learned that the murders were committed by a serial killer.
* In a ''ComicBook/HackSlash'' story it at first looked like old villain Father Wrath was back, but it turned out to be a non-powered copycat, whose neck Vlad nonchalantly snaps.
* ComicBook/ThePunisher counts as this for the criminals and villains of the Marvel universe. Commit a crime in New York and you could be brought in by mutants, aliens or a literal PhysicalGod, or, if you're unlucky, shot to death by a gun-toting vigilante.
** Parodied when he tries to bring in the ComicBook/{{Runaways}}, where he's so convinced that he's the scariest thing in New York that he completely misses the winged monstrosity that flies up behind him and nearly takes his head off.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* ''Film/BrotherhoodOfTheWolf'' centers around the true UrbanLegend of a giant wolf who terrified France in the 1700's. Throughout the movie, it is believed that the wolf is a supernatural force. [[spoiler:As it turns out, it was a pet lion made to look like a monster.]]
* SociopathicSoldier Captain Vidal is by far the deadliest (and most disturbing) monster in ''Film/PansLabyrinth''.
* ''Film/TheDayBritainStopped'' focuses on how the lack of infrastructure planning, lack of political leadership, and lack of good management can paralyze Britan's transport network. The paralysis of Britan's transport network in turn triggers the chain of reactions leading to tragic consequences in the mockumentary.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Creator/StephenKing wrote ''Literature/{{Cujo}}'' with the declared goal of creating an entirely mundane horror story where the supernatural was absent.[[note]]Because of several continuity nods, there is a general consensus that all of King's novels ''do'' take place in the same universe, making ''Cujo'' a straight example of this trope.[[/note]]
** In the extended version of ''Literature/TheStand'', King spends a short chapter describing the "second wave of deaths" caused by the after-effects of the plague. Unlike the billions of people who die from the super-flu plague, these people die of mundane causes. Like the guy who dies of tetanus because all the doctors who could have treated him have died, or the girl who dies in the car accident when she decides that a lack of people equals a lack of traffic and runs into a stalled car at 100 mph, or the older man who dies of a heart attack because he runs out of his medication, and so on.
* Creator/TerryPratchett's ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' is rife with dragons, werewolves, reality-destroying magic, and the odd EldritchAbomination, but most of the darker books, like ''Discworld/{{Night Watch}}'' or ''Discworld/{{Small Gods}}'', feature non-magical human villains. Similarly, the greatest threats to the bad guys are often BadassNormal Vimes or TheChessmaster Vetenari.
* Creator/KimNewman's story "Where The Bodies Are Buried 3: Black And White And Red All Over". The other WTBAB stories were about a supernatural SerialKiller emerging from a SlasherMovie; this is a RippedFromTheHeadlines tale of tabloid hysteria and hypocrisy over such movies. (Yes, ''ultimately'' it's all down to [[BigBad Derek Leech]], but he doesn't do anything supernatural to make it happen.)
* SolomonKane mostly fought supernatural villains of some sort. However, in "Blades of the Brotherhood" the villains were perfectly ordinary pirates.
* In the ''MaximumRide'' series, the Flock face off against genetically engineered werewolves and other mutant threats. In the fourth book, a huge source of danger is Angel falling down a chasm in the Arctic and then nearly dying, along with Max and Total, in a blizzard.
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire:'' despite the looming threat of the [[MonstrousHumanoid Others]] behind the Wall, the worst evils in the novels are constantly committed by human beings driven by {{greed}}, [[AmbitionIsEvil ambition]], or [[ForTheEvulz sheer sadistic pleasure]].
* ''OddThomas'' usually deals with supernatural threats-- cult organizations, spooks and spectres, and the like. In the graphic novel ''Odd Is On Our Side'', the villain is [[spoiler: an old man who really, ''really'' hated children trampling his prize-winning flower garden on Halloween.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' has featured a couple of these: a CannibalClan in "The Benders" (named after a real-life cannibal family nicknamed The Bloody Benders), feral children in "Family Remains" and a murderous ScoobyDooHoax in "#Thinman".
-->'''Dean:''' Monsters I get. People are crazy.
* The first season of ''Series/{{Torchwood}}'' also featured a CannibalClan in "Countrycide".
* Unsurpisingly, given its long run on TV, ''Series/TheXFiles'' featured a bunch of these.
** In "War Of The Coprophages", a cockroach infestation creates mass hysteria about an alien invasion, though the trope is subverted in that there really ''are'' robotic alien cockroaches[[note]]And even then, it's still unclear if there is actually more than ''one'' alien robotic cockroach and the others are not just the common kind[[/note]], but they have nothing to do with the deaths in the episode.
** In "Grotesque", a serial killer believes he is possessed by a demon, though it is implied that this is more down to madness and obsession than genuine supernatural drama.
** "Home" sees Mulder and Scully tackling a trio of murderous inbred hicks.
** In both "Irresistible" and "Orison", a serial killer named Donnie Pfaster becomes obsessed with Scully; he is seen on a couple of occasions with a demonic visage, but this could just be his victims' fear warping their perception.
** In "Hell Money", an incinerated man turns out to be part of a grim organ-dealing gambling game.
** In "Our Town", an entire town turns out to be a CannibalClan; although there is a slight supernatural edge to the piece -- eating human flesh, it turns out, provides you with extended life and youthfulness -- it's secondary to the actual threat.
** "Quagmire", on the other hand, provides a DoubleSubversion: The prehistoric monster said to inhabit a lake where people have gone missing recently turns out to be a common crocodile. Mulder is...disappointed, but just as he leaves the scene the audience gets to see that there ''is'' an actual plesiosaur in the lake. Wether the entire episode is just one big {{Deconstruction}} or a vindication of Cryptozoology is anyone's guess.
** Done to chilling effect in 'Paper Hearts' where Mulder conforts a child killer who claims to have taken Mulder's sister. The episode ends ambiguously with Mulder's convictions of her alien abduction shaken.
* In the ''Series/{{Charmed}}'' episode "Sight Unseen", a stalker turns out to be a human woman and not a demonic threat after all.
** There's a few other instances as well, like Barbas hiring the mob to kill the Charmed Ones ("Ms. Hellfire") or Prue being framed for murder by a random psychopath ("Just Harried").
* Although several of the earliest ''Series/DoctorWho'' episodes had nothing science-fictional beyond the Doctor and his time machine, the only post-'60s story to feature nothing fantastical at all (apart from the presence of the main characters) was the two-part murder mystery "Black Orchid".
** The new series episode "Midnight", while it still had an EldritchAbomination alien menace, was far more focused on the people of the episode, who grow more and more paranoid before nearly stretching to murder. What makes it Mundanger is that while the alien presence does manipulate people somewhat, the humans are the ones who are the real threat. A fantastic example of mob mentality. The episode is milked for all the PsychologicalHorror and HumansAreBastards it can, a disturbing contrast to the usually quite idealistic program.
** The Whoniverse {{Mundanger}} stories, by form of danger:
*** Political conflict: ''An Unearthly Child'', ''The Reign of Terror''.
*** War: ''Marco Polo'', ''The Crusade'', ''The Myth Makers'', ''The Highlanders''.
*** Religious fanaticism: ''The Aztecs'', ''The Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Eve'', ''A Girl's Best Friend''.
*** Historical tyrants: ''The Reign of Terror'', ''The Romans''.
*** Organized crime: ''The Gunfighters'', ''The Smugglers'', ''Countrycide''.
*** Individual criminals: ''The Highlanders'', ''Black Orchid''.
*** Mass hysteria: ''Midnight''.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'':
** The show had a minor villain in the school's lunch lady, who tried to kill everyone in the school by dumping rat poison in their food. Buffy had accidentally acquired telepathy at the time and heard her thoughts, allowing Buffy to stop her.
*** The gang never actually thought they were dealing with something supernatural though, just a disgruntled teacher or student who planned on shooting up the place (Willow even prints off FBI mass murderer profiles so they can look for someone who displays what they list).
*** Although, this kind of thing happens in Sunnydale more often than other places because the Hellmouth sends out evil-crazy vibes.
** Played across the entire sixth season of the show with Buffy being ineffectually challenged by the Trio, a group of human 'villains' (in the loosest sense of the word) with almost no actual powers between them. Inverted initially as, rather than being more challenging or horrifying than normal monsters, they actually spend most of the season being pretty useless nemeses, [[spoiler: until one of them goes off the deep end, murders his ex-girlfriend and shoots Buffy and Tara, killing the latter - an especially noteworthy feat since it was the first time a character from the opening credits had been killed by one of the show's villains.]] "Who's the real monster?" and all that...
** Subverted in one Halloween episode, Dawn and a friend go out on Halloween with two boys and end up in the house of a creepy old man whose home is full of old children's toys. There's a shot of him in his kitchen staring at a knife in his hand, at just when you expect him to start slashing he suddenly jerks up with a look of shock and pain on his face and then drops to the ground. Turns out the girl's dates are vampires, and the real [[VillainOfTheWeek Villains Of The Week]], and they've just killed him.
** Also, [[spoiler: Joyce]] died of natural causes, completely unrelated to the fact that Buffy was the Slayer. Of course, this plot arc led to the heroes finding a more supernatural threat in the hospital, but that doesn't diminish the fact that [[spoiler: she still died of an aneurism,]] not of any sort of magical creature.
** The first-season episode "Nightmares" featured [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin people's nightmares coming to life]], a supernatural phenomenon which was inadvertently caused by the astral projections of a boy in a coma. However, the boy was [[WouldHurtAChild put into the coma by the true villain of the episode]]: his Little League coach, who blamed him for the team's loss.
** Season 6: "So, we meet at last, Mister Drippy."
** In a brief scene in one episode, Buffy breaks up what she thought was a vampire attack, only to discover it is "only" a mugging. She remarks on how quaint it is.
* The occasional episode of ''FridayThe13thTheSeries'', the most well-known one probably being "The Long Road"; on the way back to Curious Goods after getting a new artifact, Micki and Johnny are taken captive by inbred brothers, who murder people so they can stuff the corpses and put them on display.
* Variation in ''Series/{{Fringe}}'' episode "Northwest Passage". The killer is just a lone killer whose methods happen to look a lot like something done by the conspiracy, to an absurdly specific degree (he takes pieces of the temporal lobe of the brain). It would fit except that the conspiracy is not actually supernatural.
* ''Series/CriminalMinds'' had some variations on this: the villains are usually serial or spree killers, but one episode had a guy disguise a pragmatic, money-motivated murder by committing other murders, so that it looked the work of a serial killer. Another one had a killer who committed a double murder and tried to disguise it as the work of a cult.
* In ''Series/{{Highlander}}'' Duncan is able to protect Tess and Ritchie from many Immortals who wanted to hurt them to get to him. However, [[spoiler: they end up killed by a random human mugger.]]
* In all the episodes of ''Series/{{Merlin}}'', only ''one'' episode has dealt with a threat that is purely non-magical in nature: the first season's ''The Moment of Truth'' in which the gang travels to Merlin's village in order to fight off rampaging bandits. Since then, there ''have'' been a couple of mundane villains, but they've armed themselves with magical weapons and tools.
* In the 2002 revival of ''Series/TheTwilightZone'', the episode "Azoth the Avenger is a Friend of Mine" has the supernatural element of an action figure coming to life, but the threat itself is the boy's abusive father. Azoth himself treats the father as just as serious an evil as the supervillains he normally faces, [[spoiler:and in the end is unable to defeat him. The father is taken down when the mother and son have enough and kick him out.]]
* In the ''Series/LostGirl'' episode "Faetal Attraction", a Fury named Olivia finds out that her husband Samir is having an affair with a human named Jenny. Olivia angrily hires [[HornyDevils Bo]] to assassinate her. Bo assumes Jenny is just an innocent girl and tries to protect her, but it turns out that she is actually a psycho who kills her lovers and collects their skulls (of which she has ''dozens''). By the time Bo finds out, Jenny has already added Samir's skull to the collection and was completely unaware of his supernatural nature. She then falls in love with Bo and tries to [[TogetherInDeath kill them both with a bomb]]. Bo manages to escape, but the explosion kills Olivia and her two sisters.
* ''Series/{{Haven}}'': This show normally deals with the [[DifferentlyPoweredIndividual Troubled]] residents of Haven, Maine.
** In "Welcome To Haven", there's an escaped convict and a man who plans to kill his fiance and take her money.
** In "The Trial of Audrey Parker", two criminals hijack Duke's boat and kidnap everybody by sailing it out to sea. One of the criminals had the power to read minds, but his mundane partner was clearly the brains of the operation.
** In "Resurfacing", the villains are a corrupt trio who sell people shoddy parts. A boat fitted with their parts sinks, killing everybody on board. The criminals attempt to kill everybody who learns about their shoddy parts and MakeItLookLikeAnAccident.
** In "Lockdown", a woman inadvertently spreads a deadly disease with her powers, but then her mundane, abusive husband takes center stage by holding everybody hostage with a gun. In fact, the woman's anguish over her abuse was what triggered her ability.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:MultiMedia]]
* A staple of any work featuring a ZombieApocalypse. The zombies are just the catalyst for the plot, [[HumansAreTheRealMonsters the real monsters]] are the human characters.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop RPG]]
* ''TabletopGame/CallOfCthulhu'' normally involves players going up against the creatures and cultists of the CthulhuMythos. One adventure, "Westchester" House, was about a "haunted house" where the hauntings were strictly human created, with nothing from the Mythos involved.
* Although the {{Ravenloft}} setting is best known for its vampires, werebeasts, mad scientists and other horror staples, it's also home to a number of {{Mundanger}} human killers. One of the Core's bloodiest darklords, the tyrant Vlad Drakov, is an ordinary fighter whose only supernatural quality is an enhanced resistance to magic. The (non-darklord) ruler of Nova Vaasa, Prince Othmar, is likewise a normal human villain.
* Tends to happen to you in ''TabletopGame/TheWorldOfDarkness'' if you survive long enough.
** [[TabletopGame/HunterTheVigil Hunters]] in particular are likely to run into mundane serial killers. Of course, this being the World of ''Darkness'', not all those serial killers stay mundane...
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The Chosen One comes across all kinds of strangeness in ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 2}}'', from ghosts to super-mutants to intelligent scorpions. But when (s)he investigates giant scorpion monsters that are kidnapping cattle at night, they turn out to just be a pair of cattle rustlers.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The ''WesternAnimation/SamAndMaxFreelancePolice'' cartoon pitted them against their usual selection of [[WorldOfWeirdness crazy monsters, giant robots, aliens, and so forth]] - as well as against their loserly human LoonyFan, Lorne. He is easily the most fondly-regarded villain in the show.
* In ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'', there's often a normal human gangster or corrupt boss behind the villainy of the week. In a lot of cases, they're even ''more'' evil than the costumed villains are, like Boyle, the guy who created Mister Freeze by callously trying to pull the plug on his wife.
* In one episode of ''WesternAnimation/SupermanTheAnimatedSeries'' the villain is a corrupt police detective who got an innocent man sent to death row for murder (that the detective committed). When Clark Kent manages to confirm the inmate's alibi, he gets caught in a carbomb attack, setting Superman's investigation back to square one and "killing" Clark Kent.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Despite news media and realistic fiction focusing on threats of war, gang crime, terrorism, starvation, and serial killers, most Americans will die of heart disease or cancer, which each claim more lives than the sum of the next three causes of death, cerebrovascular diseases (such as stroke), chronic lower respiratory diseases, and (especially automobile) accidents. Suicide was 11th, and homicide was 15th, with every other slot filled by a disease or condition.
** One notable editorial in the Chicago Tribune, written on the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, noted that across the country, nearly five times as many people died on 9/11 of "causes unrelated to terrorism" than died of "someone flew an airplane into a building", including nearly 1500 tobacco-related deaths, and nearly 4000 people who died in automobile accidents.
* One episode of ''ThisAmericanLife'', ''[[http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/355/the-giant-pool-of-money The Giant Pool of Money]]'', included a story of a Marine, returned from [[TheWarOnTerror Iraq]], trying to catch up with his mortgage payments after the housing bubble collapsed and his interest rates went through the roof. In [[http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/390/return-to-the-giant-pool-of-money the followup episode]] sixteen months later, This American Life reported that [[EarnYourHappyEnding the Marine ultimately got the loan refinanced to a point that he could keep up]], but that it ended up being even worse than being deployed.
-->'''Adam Davidson:''' Wait, wait, wait. You fought ''in Iraq'' as a Marine, and this was more stressful?\\
'''Richard Campbell:''' Yeah. Believe it or not, yeah. It was. It's a lot harder to deal with than shooting at people and having people shoot back at you, believe it or not.
* In Europe, many of the purported attacks of bears, wolves and lynxes against livestock are actually the work of feral dogs. Farmers are obviously more inclined to blame the former since that guarantees a government compensation for their losses, whereas the latter usually doesn't.
[[/folder]]

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