Sometimes, with Carnivore Confusion
, all animals
. Sometimes, only the evil characters eat meat; herbivores eat plants, and "good" carnivores go vegan or eat bugs/fish
. Sometimes, carnivores eat meat, herbivores eat plants, and there's nothing anyone can do short of replacing their digestive system... but in the last case, one of the herbivores, a prey animal, might get upset... might get a little obsessive about the injustice... might "crack
" a little. Followed by the terrifying (or hilarious
) sight of a wildebeest trampling a lion to death and feasting on the corpse.
This trope need not be invoked in vengeance or uprising, but does usually affect a herbivore character that is least a little insane.
A subtrope of Carnivore Confusion
. Contrast Vegetarian Carnivore
for when a normally meat-eating animal decides to switch to a vegetarian diet.
Anime & Manga
- In Tales of the Dark Forest, a half-crazy unicorn decides that if he eats the entire corpse of a human, he can gain human powers, including a digestive tract that can handle meat. He's right, by coincidence.
- The Sheepwolf from Kirby of the Stars.
- In Pet Shop of Horrors, a breed of rabbits go about attacking and devouring people.
- And the other species these rabbits take after, the aphid, is herbivorous as well...
- The last part of Chirin No Suzu has Chirin turn into a demonic, flesh-eating ram upon becoming an adult.
- The Immortal Game: Esteem indulges in eating meat, which is anathema to most ponies.
- In Fallout: Equestria, plenty of ponies (including some protagonists) rely on meat for sustenance, as plantlife tends to be scarce in the post-apocalyptic setting and the other alternative is centuries-old pre-packaged food. Some even prefer it. Cannibalism also occurs, although it's treated as a clear atrocity.
- Finding Nemo ends with the little green fish from the sharks' meeting gobbling up the Anglerfish.
- The second Happy Feet movie featured a krill who was tired of being at the bottom of the food chain and wants to "eat something that has a face".
- And of course, don't forget the Killer Rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
- A similarly-psychotic rabbit appears in the 2010 horror flick Primal, although it's killed before it can rack up a body count.
- In the first act of 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Monolith is sent by unseen alien Precursors to teach the ancestors of the human species to eat meat so that they can survive a drought. (While doing research for the novel, Arthur C. Clarke consulted Isaac Asimov about the biochemistry of turning herbivores into carnivores, but none of this shows up in the final story.)
- Were Back A Dinosaurs Story apparantly features a Triceratops named Woog, who for some reason actually likes to eat hot dogs.
- Science Marches On. Some paleontologists believe Triceratops was an omnivore, but there's the obvious problem that Woog looks nothing like an actual Triceratops and looks more like a pig with a frill. Oh, and three horns.
- According to the Star Wars wiki page, the bovine-looking alien that was used among the other alien creatures to fight the captured Jedi in the Geonosian arena in Attack of the Clones belonged to a species of herbivores called Reeks that were often fed meat for exhibition sports and execution to make them more aggressive. Because they could not thrive on meat, captured Reeks were fed just enough plant matter to keep them healthy.
- In the Disney film The Wild the wildebeest villains are tired of always being hunted by predators, so they decide to make himself the top of the food chain. By eating a lion, no less.
- The gorillas in Congo were forced to eat meat to make them the perfect guards for the temple.
- One episode of River Monsters features a herbivorous fish from the amazon that got trasplated to Papau New Guinea, and after depleting the vegetation the way invasive species do, began supplementing its diet with flesh. This fish, the Red-Bellied Pacu, has human like teeth in a piranha like body, though its its bite is considerably more painful than that of the piranha to which it is related due to it not being designed for that particular dietary practice.
- In the Just So Story The Deer and the Panther Share a House, after Panther brings home the leftovers of a dead deer, Deer goes out and (with the help of an anteater) hunts down a panther for dinner.
- Traveller The New Era supplement Aliens of the Rim: Hivers and Ithklur. During a military campaign between the herbivorous K'Kree and the Ithklur, the fighting became so bitter that each side started performing atrocities on the other, including the K'Kree eating dead Ithklur bodies.
- In the first Overlord game, The Corruption that has swept through the Elven forest has driven the local unicorns mad, causing them to become murderous carnivores — they're introduced ripping out the guts of dwarven corpses and gorging on the entrails.
- In the bizarre Dreamcast Survival Horror game D2, protagonist Laura discovers that she was cloned from the remains of a prehistoric Winged Humanoid that was found preserved in a glacier...inside the stomach of a wooly mammoth.
- Banjo-Tooie has a baby Styracosaurus with a taste for meat. This becomes Hilarious in Hindsight in that some scientists now consider ceratopsians to be omnivorous.
- In Digger:
- A possible subversion; Digger the wombat is forced to do this to become an honorary member of the Hyena tribe, but is horrified by the idea. Turns out her fears were justified; she then gets very, very ill.
- The hyena tribe also has an inversion of this in one of their origin stories. In hyena mythology, hares were originally carnivores and descended to herbivorism.
- Kevin & Kell:
- Sort of happened in when a dimensional traveler who was "furrified" into a rabbit on arrival maintained her omnivorous diet. This caused some shock to the local herbivores when she killed and ate a panther that attacked her.
- And of course, Coney the Killer Rabbit, justified as she's half-wolf.
- Inverted by Bruno, a wolf who turns herbivore and even has a suitable digestive tract surgically installed. He also later gets herbivore teeth implanted after a fight with Rudy costs him his carnivore teeth.
- In Sluggy Freelance, the cast always makes sure Bun-Bun doesn't get hungry, fearing he might say "What the hell, let's give meat a try."
- In Sandra and Woo, Sid encounters Ruth, a squirrel who wasn't happy with her place on the food chain. She acquired a gun and only eats apex predators.
- Freefall has a truly surreal example: Dvorak's waffle irons. He programmed them to recharge when their batteries ran low; he never specified how.
- This shirt and the accompanying description is not about retribution or turnabout, but is worth noting.
- Near the end of the first There she is!!!!, the rabbit Doki drinks fish juice instead of the usual carrot.
- The Simpsons:
- A Looney Tunes short in which Sylvester and Tweety are Snowed-In featured a mouse who hasn't eaten in so long he "forgot what food looks like." He takes one look at Sylvester and decides to have him for dinner. The same plot was reused later in a Pink Panther short.
- An unusual human variation occured in Mr Meaty in which a group of soy-centric vegetarians were supposed to eat their new employee, as part of a plan that even they didn't really understand due to their extremley confusing "circle of life" chart that made no sense what so ever.
- The Mickey Mouse short "The Worm Turns" is actually about Mickey Mouse inventing a spritzer that can cause prey animals to turn against their respective predators: A fly attacks a spider, a mouse attacks a cat, a cat attacks Pluto, and finally Pluto attacks Pete the dogcatcher.
- In the Family Guy episode "Road to the North Pole", Santa's reindeer had started eating elves and tore apart any elf that wandered near them.
- Sort of. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic mostly averts this with the ponies eating things like daffodil sandwiches, but they also eat eggs and honey, and drink milk, all of which are animal products. This goes a bit beyond the usual diet of real horses, but they are certainly not carnivores.
- To sum it up: ALL ANIMALS ARE OMNIVORES. There's always a chance that a carnivore will eat plants or a herbivore will eat meat - either because the opportunity is there or, for those that adhere more strictly to their diet, due to desperation in times of famine (though depending on the species, they may or may not be able to digest the meal in question).
- Interestingly, an herbivore is much more likely to eat meat than a carnivore is to eat plants. This is likely because most plant matter is hard to digest, requiring specialized digestive tracts in order to extract enough nutrients to gain back the energy used to eat it in the first place. A carnivore may actually starve more quickly if it wastes energy eating plants that it cannot digest properly than if it didn't eat at all.
- Most primates are primarily frugivorous, and it was a pretty convenient way of obtaining glucose in a jungle where sweet fruits are everywhere. Many primates have anatomical specializations that allow them to eat fruit, leaves, gum or insects. However, several species have developed a taste for meat as well, becoming outright omnivores, including Tarsiers (have ascended to obligate carnivory as they eat only insects, crustaceans, small vertebrates, and snakes), capuchin monkeys, baboons, chimpanzees, and humans. Chimpanzees and (especially) humans are two species noted for accelerated brain development, forcing opportunistic all-consuming omnivory because herbivorous adaptations (multiple rumination stomachs as in cows, or large appendixes and nutrient-absorbing colons as in gorillas) are slow and inefficient to supply it. For humans, specialization reached the point where babies died or suffered retardation from a purely vegetarian diet with no animal products whatsoever (this is the reason why traditionally vegetarian and "ethical" diets even necessitated consumption of dairy, milk and eggs). It was only by the age of junk food, synthetic nutrients, replicated food and grazing lifestyles that complete veganism, with no animal products whatsoever, became conceivable.
- Red deer are in the Guiness Book of World Records as "Most Bloodthirsty Ungulate." It actively devours birds, small mammals, and even other deer.
- Many herbivorous animals aren't above nibbling on sources of meat if it's available. Cattle have been documented devouring chickens for the iron in blood, and hippos will scavenge on the carcasses of other animals (their own species included). As meat is easier to digest than leaves, even an animal ill-equipped to hunt prey is unlikely to pass up fresh protein that's just lying there.
- Here are some otherwise strictly herbivorous animals that have nibbled on sources of meat if it's available:
- Hares and pikas
- Hippos (see above)
- Elephants (see below)
- Even Galapagos tortoises (see below)
- A rogue Asian elephant had killed 17 people in India. Once it was killed, DNA tests on the contents of its stomach revealed that it had consumed human flesh.
- Some industrial producers of meat feed meat animals...well...meat. Usually they are "animal byproducts" that people wouldn't eat if you paid them. Unfortunately, the inclusion of cow neural tissue in cow-feed is responsible for Bovine Spongiform Encephelopathy (BSE), AKA Mad Cow Disease. This is why we can't eat cow brains, which were traditionally consumed (and considered delicious) by many cultures (and not just ones noted for liking offal—the Midwest's fried-brain sandwich used to be made out of cow cortex).
- In evolution, animals have switched from herbivore to carnivore countless times. For example, some species of ornithischian dinosaurs probably included some meat in their diet, like the pachycephalosaurs and heterodontosaurs. There's even a new theory that freaking Triceratops ate some meat from time to time. Yikes.
- In a survival situation, horses and mules can get hungry enough to eat raw meat.
- Regardless of diet, most placental mammal mothers eat the afterbirth after bearing young, to reclaim valuable protein and minerals their bodies will need to sustain nutrient-costly lactation.
- In this video a cow actively pursues and devours a live baby chick.
- Two videos of a deer and a horse, chasing and eating respectively one and three baby birds.
- According to a recent study, Galapagos Tortoises (yes, the beloved and humble Gentle Giant of reptiles) will take advantage of their relationship with Galapagos finches and eat them for protein. To do this, they rise and extend their limbs so that the finch could look for parasites to feed on, only to be crushed to death when the tortoise withdraws its limbs.
- Pigs are the only even-toed ungulates to have kept their ancestral omnivory, instead of turning into herbivory like camels or ruminats. Cetaceans, on the other hand, went from riverside small ungulate omnivores to a fully predatory group that also doesn't have much in the area of hooves. Or hindlimbs.
- Dinosaurs arose from omnivore ancestors, with adaptations for either herbivory or hypercarnivory arising later; small animals like Eoraptor gave rise to both theropods like Tyrannosaurus and sauropods like Apatosaurus.
- A special mention is due to dromaeosaurids, hypercarnivorous animals belonging to the mostly omnivorous (and with plenty of herbivorous members) maniraptorans, themselves descended from hypercarnivorous theropods.
- Herbivory didn't appear in vertebrates until large reptiles and synapsids started to take said niche, some 300 million years after the first vertebrates appeared.
- Many species of deer are known to eat small birds when their usual food is scarce.
- Plenty of herbivorous invertebrate taxa have a few meat-eating species among them, like carnivorous caterpillars or predatory snails. Still others eat plants for their staple diet, but (as with locusts) start chowing down on their fellow bugs without hesitation when leaves get scarce and/or they're overcrowded.
- Humans who adopt an all-meat or near all-meat diet often claim to feel stronger and more energized.