[[quoteright:279:[[Film/Piranha3D http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/piranha3dart_3973.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:279:[-There's food in the water! GATHER THE TROOPS!-] ]]

->''"I'm more worried about piranhas. Did you see that movie where they send a nuclear submarine to fight the piranhas, and one of them swims right down the periscope and bites the guy [[EyeScream in the eye]], and he goes, 'Aah! Aah! Aah!', and that old lady told him it would happen!?"''
-->-- '''Milhouse''', ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''

It's generally agreed upon that [[ThreateningShark sharks can turn most any situation from bad to worse]]... and then there's piranhas. Piranhas are portrayed as vicious mindless eating machines that can tear through anything and leave nothing but bones. In other words, thinking of nothing except whatever "food" happens to fall in the water.

Piranhas provide an alternative to sharks for the SharkPool, where the villain will always walk in with a bloody dripping leg of lamb or goat, dip it in the tank for two seconds, and then remove it to show a bare bone.

In RealLife, the piranha's viciousness is exaggerated. When they're not hungry or are asleep, they flee from anything that disturbs them. Their famous schooling behavior is not done to attack prey, but to protect themselves from predators like caimen, giant river otters, and freshwater dolphins. Of course, when they do become hungry they actually can leave nothing but bones when they are inclined to attack and eat. While President TheodoreRoosevelt did once observe Amazon piranhas reduce a cow to a skeleton in a few minutes, this occurred under artificial conditions. The locals had blocked off this portion of the tributary with nets, dumped hordes of extra piranhas in there, and starved them for days before throwing the cow in, all in the name of making a spectacle for the visiting president. Dropping the cow into a pit full of starving humans would have had a similar result, as anybody who's seen a zombie movie could tell you.
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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Advertising]]
* A commercial for Energizer batteries features the Energizer Bunny in a cage above a tank of pirahnas, the cage being triggered by a Main/LieDetector that an Energizer scientist was hooked up to. Whether or not the Bunny took a dive depended on the scientist telling the truth about whether or not Energizer outlasted Duracell in digital cameras.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:{{Anime}} and {{Manga}}]]
* In ''{{Dragonball}}'', Ninja Murasaki [[WalkOnWater ran across a pond]] to get away from Goku. Goku was about to swim across when Murasaki [[WhatAnIdiot warned him there were piranha]]. Goku didn't know what piranha were, so Murasaki threw a large fish in the water to demonstrate. Understanding, Goku simply [[InASingleBound jumped over the water]].
* ''Manga/ExcelSaga'': The title character was dropped at least once into a pit full of piranhas, among other things.
* In ''{{Gon}}'', a swarm of piranha try to get an easy snack out of the titular baby t-rex. Too bad he's MadeOfIron and an ImplacableMan (dinosaur). Gon decides to make a meal out of them instead.
* Rando hangs Yusuke over a pond of piranha-like fishes in ''YuYuHakusho''.
* When the SmilePrecure girls travels around the world in episode 30, Akaoni turns a piranha into a [[MonsterOfTheWeek Super Akanbe]]. It is also the last Super Akanbe in the series.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Franchise/{{Batman}}: Piranha don't smile.
* The comic book explanation of Comicbook/{{Aquaman}}'s hook hand. His real hand was eaten by pirahnas. Considering this is the guy who commands fish, that had to be [[RetCon retconned]] so that he didn't command, he just suggests.
* In one ''{{Punisher}}'' story, Frank is being chased through the New York zoo by {{Mook}}s. He used the surrounding wildlife to his advantage, such as holding one upside down in the piranha tank (and pulling out his picked-to-the-bone skeleton a short while later).
* Rivers of Palombia in ''Franchise/{{Marsupilami}}'' are infested with piranhas. It's not so much a problem for the marsupilamis themselves, though, since they're fond of eating them.
* In the ''[[ECComics Tales From the Crypt]]'' story "The Bath", a servant fills a corrupt mine owner's bath with piranhas, with predictable results, as retribution for the owner killing the servant's family.
* ''ComicBook/{{New 52}}'': In the ''[[JusticeLeagueOfAmerica Justice League]]'' storyline "The Hunt for the Cheetah", [[ArcVillain The Cheetah]] is defeated when WonderWoman throws her off a cliff and into a river with Aquaman and a huge school of piranhas waiting to capture her.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* ''WesternAnimation/IceAge2TheMeltdown'': Scrat the squirrel was chased by piranhas.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Rio 2}}'': "Flesh-eating piranhas that eat flesh."
* ''WesternAnimation/AllDogsGoToHeaven'': Carface threatens to lower Killer into a pit full of piranhas.
* ''Disney/{{Tarzan}}'': "Aargh! A piranha!" "Those only live in South America!"
* ''WesternAnimation/FindingNemo'': "I'm a piranha! They're from the Amazon!"
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/{{Piranha}}'' was an intentionally-amusing [[FollowTheLeader rip-off]] of ''Film/{{Jaws}}''. The sequel is notable solely for the fact that it was [[ExecutiveMeddling more or less]] Creator/JamesCameron's [[OldShame first feature film directing gig]].
** They weren't normal piranha in [[Film/PiranhaPartTwoTheSpawning the sequel]], they were air-borne super-predators who cross-breed with flying fish.
*** Which is also the subject of a gag in ''TheFarSide'' (see below).
** And of course, the remake, ''Film/Piranha3D''!
* In Berry Gordy's ''Film/TheLastDragon'', the bad guy had a tank. Bruce Leroy shoves his face into the tank for half a second, long enough to scare him and his [[TheDitz ditzy]] moll.
* ''Film/YouOnlyLiveTwice'': Blofeld kept a piranha pond in his underground lair - handy for getting rid of failed employees.
* ''Film/SpeedRacer'': One of the bad guys has a tank full of them in his office in a ''moving'' truck. It gets a hole shot in it, and he forces one of his [[{{Mook}} Mooks]] to stick a finger in to keep the tank from draining. The fish all gather around with fascination.
* The spoof movie ''Film/LoadedWeapon1'' featured an aquarium with red-bellied piranha in a normal house. WilliamShatner's villain character views them with bemusement, sticks his head into the tank (with billowing water to simulate an attack), and then lifts his head up with a piranha in his grinning mouth, to the other characters' shock. Later a FunnyBackgroundEvent occurs as a police officer has his arm in the tank trying to get something out of it during an investigation, with water billowing and him screaming in pain.
* In ''Film/YouDontMessWithTheZohan'', Zohan and his arch-nemesis Phantom are seen on the Lebanon beach competing about which one is the tougher, letting themselves get bitten by a piranha to prove their point. It's presence is a [[MisplacedWildlife two-fold mistake]], because a) piranhas are found in South America, and b) they are fresh water fish.
* ''Film/CannibalHolocaust'' was going to have a scene involving piranhas, but it was cut due to difficulties with the camera and the fish themselves.
* There is a small tank of piranhas (well, hand puppets) in the Lou Ferrigno ''Film/SinbadOfTheSevenSeas''.
* Their reputation is used in ''Film/NowYouSeeMe'', as Henley sets up an escape act where piranhas will be released into a water tank that she's locked in after 60 seconds. They appear to churn and devour her alive... only for her to appear in the crowd [[SelfDeprecation decrying the sadism of whoever thought of such an act]]. This is her EstablishingCharacterMoment.
* In ''Killer Fish'', loot from a diamond heist is placed in a dam lake with introduced piranha as its protector.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* A character in ''Literature/BlessTheBeastsAndChildren'' makes a point by telling the story of a friend and his pet piranha, a vaguely charming beastie with a fondness for live goldfish. The friend was unable to keep the piranha, so he put it in a goldfish pond to spend the rest of its days feeding happily. The piranha got greedy, "turned into a goldfish gourmet," and lived entirely on the bellies of the goldfish (apparently the tastiest part.) Then the pond's owners noticed all the belly-less goldfish floating at the top of the pond, moved the survivors to another pond, and dumped in poison. Moral: if you start something (say, eating a goldfish), better finish the job!
* Averted in the AbleTeam novel "Amazon Slaughter". The team is attacked by piranhas while swimming a river, but they only give some nasty bites (at the time, the protagonist is more worried because he thinks the pain means he's just been shot).
* In the ''Literature/JamesBond'' novel 'Literature/YouOnlyLiveTwice'', Doctor Shatterhand has piranha pools on his grounds, all the better to dispose of people who have not yet succumbed to the other lethal attractions of his gardens.
* In the ''Literature/DaughterOfTheLioness'' books by Creator/TamoraPierce, the RoyallyScrewedUp rulers of the Copper Isles sometimes throw dissidents into a specially-prepared pool of piranha and allow any survivors to go free. Unfortunately, they've figured out not to offer this opportunity when the ratio of dissidents to piranha is too high. Eventually, the fish die from being used to cover up murder by poisoning.
* In ''Literature/{{It}}'', the eponymous monster at one point takes the form of a school of piranha... or maybe [[MaybeMagicMaybeMundane a character just imagined it.]] Since the character in question had never seen an actual piranha, they looked more like [[YourMindMakesItReal a child's imagined version of them]] than the real thing.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* One of the episodes of the TV show ''Cliffhanger'' had the PluckyGirl reporter dangling six inches over the Amazon river, which was teeming with piranha.
* In ''Series/TheMostExtreme'', it was the misconception of the piranha that gave it second place in the "Monster Myths" category.
* Extreme fisherman Jeremy Wade in an episode of ''Series/RiverMonsters'' doubted this until he dipped a dead duck in a piranha infested river for a few moments. When he pulled it out, the submerged part had been [[TruthInTelevision devoured all the way to the internal organs.]]
** Except that's not really demonstrating the principle of the trope - piranha are by nature opportunistic feeders, so of course they'll go after a carcass. Later in the episode he jumped into a pool that had been filled with piranha and spent several minutes up to his chest in the water, when he exited it unharmed. In the River Monsters: Unhooked commentary, he said that shooting that scene was one of the least pleasant things he'd ever done on the show and had wanted to get out of the water much sooner, but the director wouldn't let him.
** A later season episode once again ended up investigating the possibility of piranhas attacking humans, this time in Bolivia with at least one reported fatality. In this case, however, it was because another fish, the arapaima, had been introduced to the river and the presence of a large, non-native predator had thrown the river's ecology out of balance and left the piranhas much more aggressive than usual due to lack of food.
* Referenced in ''Series/PennAndTellerTellALie'' [[spoiler:and debunked with Teller going for a swim in a tank containing thirty of the little fish - who are less hungry, and more terrified of "big fish" Teller.]]
* One of the Ways on ''OneThousandWaysToDie'' combines piranha with candiru (the fish that The Monarch was referencing in ''The Venture Brothers'' entry below) for a rather gruesome death - especially if you're male.
* On ''BoyMeetsWorld'' when Cory and Topanga are honeymooning at a tropical resort this is used as a background gag heard over the P.A. system: "Attention guests, will the couple who left their dog in the piranha tank please come claim his collar?".
* During a [[JacquesCousteau Cousteau]] special concentrating on the Amazon River, at one point a pair of divers filmed underwater one handfeeding a chicken leg to piranha. As they joked afterwards, the piranha did not bite the hand that fed them, but the one that filmed them with the cameraman getting a single bite on his knuckle that didn't require any real medical attention.
* In the ''Series/DoctorWho'' episode ''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS14E4TheFaceOfEvil The Face of Evil]]'', the Test of the Horda is a land-dwelling version.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* As noted in ''TheFarSide'', the standard unit of hungriness in piranhas is one cow: "They can devour an entire cow in ten minutes". Of course, the strip has a [[EverythingsBetterWithCows cow]] note this fact.
** Another ''Far Side'' comic shows the interior of a pet store. The focus of the comic is a cat with wooden pegs for its forelegs, and a piranha swimming in a fishbowl nearby.
--->'''Prehistory of The Far Side:''' I thought for a long time about what caption to put on this one, then realized it didn't need a caption at all.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Other]]
* On Disneyland's Jungle Cruise ride, one stretch of the river is infested with animatronic piranha that leap out of the water toward the boat.
* Death number four of [[http://killskerry.deviantart.com/art/Lucky-the-Cat-100955943 Lucky the Cat]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Merely entering piranha-infested water in ''Franchise/TombRaider 3'' triggers a swarm that eats up your health bar in seconds.
* Carvanha from ''{{Pokemon}}'' notably [[ShownTheirWork the Pokedex does say that Carvanha are timid as individuals.]] Unsurprisingly, it evolves into [[EverythingsEvenWorseWithSharks Sharpedo]].
** ''Black and White'' has Basculin.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Rayman 2}}'', [[GrimyWater about half of all the water in the game is infested with these]].
* Lockjaw and Snapjaw from ''VideoGame/DonkeyKongCountry 2'', Nibbla from ''Donkey Kong Country 3''
* ''BanjoKazooie'' has BubblegloopSwamp, the water of which is infested with piranhas that take your health away anytime you entered the water. The only way to safely traverse the water was to wear wading boots, or have Mumbo Jumbo turn you into an alligator (because piranhas are afraid of alligators).
** There's even a piranha-like enemy found in various areas of the game called Chump.
* In ''TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker'' we have the [[NightmareFuel nightmarish]] [[DemonicSpiders Seahats]], which are boat sized piranhas with ''propeller blades'' on their heads that will pursue Link to the ends of the earth in order to knock him out of his boat.
** Skullfish in ''TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'' resemble piranhas and swarm around Link if he enters their waters, especially in the deep pool right smack-dab in the middle of the Lakebed Temple.
* The 2005 ''[[VideoGame/ThePunisher Punisher]]'' video game features piranha tanks that you can use to threaten enemies into giving you info by holding them just a few inches from the water's surface. Of course, there's nothing stopping you from dunking your victims - Frank sticks the enemy's head in for a few seconds and pulls it out, revealing that most of the guy's face has been eaten off.
* Piranhas appear in jungle areas of ''{{Spelunky}}''. They chase any unfortunate spelunker who jumps into a body of water, but they can kill other enemies as well. And there are also ''[[GiantMook large]]'' piranhas!
* One of the types of {{Mook|s}} in ''LetsGoJungle''. Very irritating, because they're hard to hit and attack in swarms, and if even one gets to you before you can kill it, you lose up to about a third of your lifebar!
* In ''[[SpyroTheDragon Spyro 3]]'', the Midday Gardens world has a level called Spooky Swamp. The water there is ''full'' of piranhas! And they ''will kill you'' if you so much as ''land'' in it, let alone try to ''swim'', unless you ''[[PunctuatedForEmphasis get. the hell. out of there.]]''
** At least there are warning signs.
* Fatty Glutton from the ''VideoGame/{{Darius}}'' series, a HumongousMecha piranha. His [[FailOSuckyname name may sound laughable]], but don't be fooled- he's usually one of the [[ThatOneBoss hardest bosses]] of the games he appears in.
* The second ''VideoGame/EndlessOcean'' game (Blue World in the US) has them in the Amazon area. You can distract them with food, but they won't react to the pulsar. If you do agitate them, they'll bite you and make your air meter drain faster. It is apparently possible to steer clear if you're careful.
* In ''GuildWars 2'' there is an underwater spell that summons piranhas to deal damage over time. There is also a specific underwater level where you have to use bioluminescent plants to get from volcanic vent to volcanic vent because as soon as you leave the safety of a light radius you get eaten by [[DarknessEqualsDeath super death killer piranhas]] and die in a couple of seconds.
* ''VideoGame/{{Strider}}'' sees them in the [[JungleJapes Amazon]] level: they infest the Amazon River but are actually harmless, simply clinging to Hiryu's sprite if he walks close by. If Hiryu falls into the [[BottomlessPit water]], however, the (still harmless) piranhas will rush him en-masse as he slowly sinks into the bottom of the screen.
* Averted in ''VideoGame/BubbleTrouble'', where Chombert the Piranha is TheGoomba of the game.
* ''VideoGame/SuperMarioFusionRevival'': Deep in the Amazon River basin (World 2-S4: Rebel River), Marco Rossi found a contigent of Rebel Army forces. However, the only clear way to it is to first traverse a stretch of the Amazon infested with piranha. There is a giant piranha fish nearby with a taste for flesh; contact with it will prove fatal!
* Failing a specific timing puzzle in ''LeisureSuitLarry 2'' results in Larry falling into waist-deep water. He notes that there's a weird tingling sensation, then climbs out of the river to find that piranhas have stripped everything below his waist to the bone. Notably, the game ends not because he dies, but hecause he lost his manhood and can't go on.
* You can catch piranha in the ''VideoGame/AnimalCrossing'' games; the PlayerCharacter lampshades this trope when they do ([[MisplacedWildlife "Which river is this, anyway?"]]). And after you've donated one to the museum, you can see it bashing itself against the wall of the tank...but the description for it claims, [[ShownTheirWork correctly]], that piranha are actually quite timid.
* In ''{{VideoGame/ADOM}}'' there is a certain location where you need to pass through a pool of piranhas-on-crack that will probably kill you in two or three moves if you try to swim across. Fortunately the game provides you with ways to build a bridge if you know where to look.
* ''VideoGame/SheepDognWolf'' has piranhas that [[SwallowedWhole swallow the player in one gulp]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In ''Bowser's Kingdom'' episode 8, Steve the Piranha Plant had a girlfriend and laid an egg. Hal asked how he did that, to which Steve replies it's because he was drunk and in love. The egg hatched and it revealed a Dino Piranha, which chased Jeff and Hal.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/BrandyAndMrWhiskers'': Mr. Whiskers is always being attacked by piranhas anytime he gets near the water.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddparents'': Timmy once placed a hungry piranha in the fishbowl with Wanda and Cosmo to get them back for something. He probably had to face man eating piranhas himself earlier in the same episode, IIRC.
* Naturally for a TropeOverdosed show, Dr. Drakken once threatened ''KimPossible's'' {{Sidekick}} with a pool of piranhas.
** Seņor Senior, Sr. didn't have any piranha for his lagoon in time for his villainous debut, but he assured Kim and Ron that "the koi have not been fed in days".
* One episode of ''WesternAnimation/ScoobyDoo'' had the gang in the Amazon, and at one point Scoob and Shaggy had to build a canoe made of wood to cross the river. Piranhas start to eat through the canoe, causing Shaggy and Scooby to literally run on water to get away from them.
* ''WesternAnimation/StreetSharks'' gave us Dr. Piranoid, but it subverted EverythingsEvenWorseWithSharks.
* ''WesternAnimation/GeneratorRex'' encountered piranha in episode 9, mutated into an ExtremeOmnivore FlyingSeafoodSpecial variety by the series' {{Phlebotinum}}.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'' references and dismisses them:
-->'''The Monarch''': I don't think I'm the one in danger here... considering the sad fact that right below you flows the MIGHTY AMAZON - teeming with the most GRUESOME fish to ever...
-->'''Hank Venture''': [interrupting] The piranha!
-->'''The Monarch''': No.
-->'''Hank Venture''': The shark?
-->'''The Monarch''': No!
-->'''Hank Venture''': ...The piranha!
-->'''The Monarch''': NO! And shut up! This isn't a quiz.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons WesternAnimation/TreehouseOfHorror'' segment "Terror In Tiny Toon", Itchy shoots a swarm of piranha from a hose reducing everything below Bart's head to the bones, they later fix this by playing it backwards.
* Sylvester has been attacked by piranha in a couple ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' shorts.
* Blue Aardvark was attacked by piranha in ''WesternAnimation/PinkPantherAndPals'' while trying to escape a hungry cheetah...a sort of ScyllaAndCharybdis situation.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Cro}}'', the human characters get chased around by an aggressive school of piranha for almost the entire episode until Phil the mammoth notes that piranha, who are swimming [[ArtisticLicenseAnimalCare in a salt water aquarium]], are [[MisplacedWildlife fresh water fish]]. Hearing this, the piranha then immediately die.
* In the ''Franchise/{{Marsupilami}}'' short ''Bathtime for Maurice'', Marsupilami met the piranha and remarks "Well, What do you know? Playful Piranhas. Hello, Fellas." Before they started attacking Marsupilami.
* ''WesternAnimation/TimonAndPumbaa'' had the main duo get chased by a giant piranha. [[CrazyAwesome With a chainsaw!]]
* In the HBO AnimatedAdaptation of ''ComicBook/{{Spawn}}'', to give Jason Wynn a KickTheDog moment, we see him feed a live puppy to a tankful of piranha in one episode.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Inverted in the one ''documented'' case of a piranha killing a human being, as the fisherman in question had already removed the fish from the water when it happened. Loaded down with a double armload of fish, he opted to grip one in his mouth rather than make two trips to carry his catch home; unfortunately, it turned out to be a red-bellied piranha that wasn't quite dead, and bit off such a large hunk of the man's tongue that he bled to death.
* Many villages along rivers with piranha have a designated 'garbage dump' spot in the river, and the piranha will greedily devour ''anything'' dumped into the water there, as they've been taught it will be food. It's often fairly safe to swim in the river - unless you try to jump in at the garbage dump.
[[/folder]]

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