"The Most Dangerous Game" (also known as "The Hounds of Zaroff") is the 1924 short story by Richard Connell.Rainsford, a hunter of big game from New York, finds himself shipwrecked on an island. He finds a big mansion with a bored old general there, who describes his one true passion: hunting. The general tells Rainsford that he only hunts the most dangerous game of all... humans. The full story can be found here.The title has a double meaning, referring both to a "game" or contest between the general and his quarry, as well as "game" in the sense of an animal that is hunted.The story has been directly adapted for film at least eight times, though only twice under its original title: in 1932, with Joel McCrea as Rainsford and Leslie Banks as Zaroff, and in 2008, with Brian Spangler-Campbell and Mark Motyl, respectively. However, it has been imitated by a vastly greater number of works, and is the source and Trope Namer of the Hunting the Most Dangerous Game plot.
Affably Evil: More so in the movie than in the book, Zaroff is quite ruthless, but he can be very charming and polite when he's not hunting human beings. In both cases he quickly slides to Faux Affably Evil.
Duel to the Death: Rainsford and Zaroff square off at the end of the story; the winner gets to sleep in Zaroff's opulent bed, while the loser's body will be fed to the hounds. It's pretty clear that Rainsford wins.
He had never slept in a better bed, Rainsford decided.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: In the original film, Zaroff has a large scar on the side of his skull, attributed to an encounter with a Cape buffalo. In Real Life, Leslie Banks was permanently disfigured fighting in World War One.
Modern Minstrelsy: Inverted in the first film. The actor playing Ivan the Cossack (Noble Johnson) was actually an African-American, who went on to have a respected career. This was one of the first ever instances of a black actor donning "whiteface" for a role.
Noble Demon: Zaroff may hunt people alive, but he (at least apparently) adheres strictly to the rules of his game.
No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: The whole purpose of both the story as well as the trope in general. The villain is a big-game hunter who got bored with dumb animals and started hunting humans who could present more of a challenge. Then he finds another almost equally-bored big-game hunter who would be even more of a challenge than random sailors who don't know how to really fight back.
One Name Only: Whitney and Zaroff have no first names, Ivan has no last name.
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The climactic battle between Rainsford and Zaroff. Considering the general badassery of both characters, it can be assumed that it was quite a fight.
Prop Recycling: The first movie reused the jungle sets (as well as the stock screams) from King Kong (they were being filmed at the same time, Kong in the daytime and Game at night).
Rule of Three: Rainsford makes three traps for Zaroff. The first time Rainsford makes a Malaccan man-catcher, which almost kills Zaroff, but the man dodges just in time. The second trap is a tiger pit with sharpened stakes, which succeeds in killing Zaroff's best hunting dog. The third trap is a Ugandan knife trap, which takes out Ivan.
Sacrificial Lamb: Movie-exclusive character Martin serves this purpose. He's a drunk, lazy comic relief whose only purpose is to display how Zaroff's game works and trigger the plot.
Scarily Competent Tracker: As soon as the game begins Rainsford sets out on making the most confounding false trail he can, then covering up his real path. Zaroff finds him anyway.
"I refuse to believe that so modern and civilized a young man as you seem to be harbors romantic ideas about the value of human life... Life is for the strong, to be lived by the strong, and, if needs be, taken by the strong. The weak of the world were put here to give the strong pleasure. I am strong. Why should I not use my gift? If I wish to hunt, why should I not? I hunt the scum of the earth: sailors from tramp ships—lascars, blacks, Chinese, whites, mongrels—a thoroughbred horse or hound is worth more than a score of them."