"Well, there was a bit of a fracas, as we say, and it turned out that a man had a dog, a half-dead thing, according to bystanders, and he was trying to get it to stop pulling at its leash, and when it growled at him he grabbed an ax from the butcher's stall beside him, threw the dog to the ground and cut off its back legs, just like that. I suppose people would say 'Nasty bugger, but it was his dog,' and so on, but Lord Vetinari called me in and he said to me, 'A man who would do something like that to a dog is a man to whom the law should pay close attention. Search his house immediately.' The man was hanged a week later, not for the dog, although for my part I wouldn't have shed a tear if he had been, but for what we found in his cellar."There's something about cruelty towards animals that really gets to a lot of people. Maybe it's the fact that there's so little they can do to defend themselves (or maybe they do defend themselves, and promptly get put down for it). Maybe it's the fact that it's often so gratuitous and unnecessary. Or maybe it's the fact that we instinctively feel protective over all things small and adorable. Whatever the reason, almost all societies are going to look down on somebody if they hurt an animal for no good reason. "Dangerous" animals, such as crocodiles, snakes, bears, sharks, and big cats (though they're just as likely to be sympathetic) are usually an exception, though; see What Measure Is a Non-Cute? for a possible reason, though it may also have a lot to do with the fact that those animals aren't as defenseless and therefore are not seen as easy victims. Furthermore, they may be a threat to people and understandably force them to use violence. As Real Life shows, however, there may be exceptions with people neutralising the threat of dangerous animals in order to toy with them. In this case, they are as defenseless as the harmless animals and the perpetrator is just as bad as the others and even more clearly a Dirty Coward. An almost sure-fire way to make a character irredeemable is to invoke this trope. In addition, animal cruelty, especially mutilations, are often treated as an early warning sign for future violent criminals. Serial Killers are especially common in this regard. Sometimes, however, the whole thing may be played for Black Comedy (and Cringe Comedy) instead, in which case the show may take Refuge in Audacity and the person involved may not exactly be bad so much as he's stupid. Note that as a general rule, the abuse must be human-on-animal (or, in Speculative Fiction, sapient-on-nonsapient), except for situations involving Furry Confusion. The animals must also not be anthropomorphic. Being able to use Animal Talk is acceptable, but the animals in the work must have roughly the same relationship with humans as they do in Real Life, so far as the humans concerned don't know about their sapience. Kick the Dog and If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten are not always related, since any act of gratuitous evil besides hurting animals can be substituted there. See also Cruella to Animals and Exotic Entree for more specific variants, and Enemy to All Living Things for a more supernatural one. Chronic Pet Killer may also overlap if the killing isn't done on accident. Sadly, this is very much Truth in Television. However, since there is a lot of debate on what does and does not count as animal abuse, No Real Life Examples, Please! As a rule of thumb, your example will need to legally qualify as animal abuse in Real Life in order to count. Also, just like Abusive Parents, this page is not for complaining about characters you don't like. Sub-Trope to Good Taming, Evil Taming.
— Watch Commander Sir Samuel Vimes, Snuff
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Anime & Manga
- Satou Kashi no Dangan wa Uchinukenai:
- Boa Hancock of One Piece has a habit of literally Kicking The Dog (or a cat or a baby seal) whenever she comes across them. She starts as a villain that Luffy opposes, but then becomes infatuated with him after showing his kindness; she still kicks little critters around, though, as she's still a big name pirate.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
- In Part 1, Dio literally kicks a dog as soon as he arrives at the hero's home, and later burns it alive. After that point, animals, and especially dogs, usually suffer cruel fates to the current villain of the series. Even other animals can use this to show their evil. Pet Shop, a bird villain, has its Establishing Character Moment when it pulls a pair of dogs under a gate, decapitates them, and starts to eat them.
- A notable exception, and a prime example of Contrasting Sequel Antagonist, is the villain Kars in Part 2. He goes out of his way to protect things that aren't human, as in one scene where he cuts off the arms of a driver to prevent them from running over a dog. This trait goes out the window when Kars gains The Power of Creation, which he first tests by making a double of a squirrel that messily devours the original.
- In a flashback of Your Lie in April, Kousei's Abusive Mom abandoned their pet cat after it scratched him on the hand. Kousei was being harshly trained to be a pianist to abusive degrees and his mother didn't want anything to happen to his hands.
- In Revolutionary Girl Utena, Nanami ended up drowning her brother Touga's kitten because he was giving it more attention than her. Though not evil per se, she's definitely an antagonist of the Alpha Bitch variety for much of the show and clearly has a number of mental issues (mostly involving her brother) that don't really get addressed until late in the story. Her track record with animals in the present of the show is implied to be Laser-Guided Karma for this incident, as well as a curse put on her by Anthy, a well known animal lover and frequent victim of Nanami's abuse.
- One of Ash's rivals Paul (who is an expy of Silver from Pokémon Gold and Silver) is emotionally abusive towards his Pokemon and harshly trains them. He isn't exactly a villain, but is by far Ash's most antagonistic rival. He's also a serious Karma Houdini, since in his final episode he doesn't get any real comeuppance aside from getting beaten by Ash in a tournament—for all we know, he's still an abusive trainer.
- In the Black and White series, we have Pignite's former trainer Shamus, who abuses his Pokemon and is pointed out as being bad.
- Charmander's original trainer Damien was an abusive boy who told him that he'd come back for him, even when he had no intention of. He didn't even care that Charmander would have died due to his Undying Loyalty causing him to stay on the rock even in a storm. Pignite's trainer Shamus was an expy of Damien.
- Spectacularly averted by Marvel Comics' Doctor Doom, who lost a match against Squirrel Girl and her battalion of squirrels because Doom refuses to be cruel to small, cute critters. "Doom is never petty."
- In Afterlife with Archie, when she was ten, Cheryl's puppy choked on her leash. Her Crazy Jealous Guy brother Jason killed her because Cheryl loved Sugar too much. It's later implied their relationship is at least somewhat forced by Jason.
- 2000 AD:
- Judge Dredd: When Judge Death recounts how he began his long career of evil in his Origins Episode, the first obvious clue that he was an Enfant Terrible are his early sadistic tendencies of torturing the family dog and shooting at birds.
- Zombo: Played for laughs in a throwaway gag, when one of President of the Earth Donald Trump's assistants mentions that his boss once shredded a puppy.
- The Darkness: Appolonia Franchetti snaps her pet cat's neck in front of Jackie just to prove a point how she will never let anything get in her way. The worst thing is that she did it right after saying she raised him since he was a kitten and he was very precious to her and she will miss him when he is gone.
- Defied by The Joker in at least one story (Emperor Joker). Evil Jimmy Olson kills Superman, who has been turned into a dog, by crushing him underneath a fire hydrant. The Joker is simply annoyed, because he doesn't know how to make something as pointless as beating a dumb animal funny. Jimmy Olson is then beaten to death by two giant robots who appear out of nowhere.
- Weirdly played with in the comic Sha. One of the five main villains, who is obsessed with insects, is seen petting a Cute Kitten before casually feeding it to his arthropod friends while remarking that insects are the "superior species" on Earth. Of course, given What Measure Is a Non-Cute?, this is probably a straight example.
Films — Animation
- Leafie from Leafie, a Hen into the Wild was kept in a small cage all her life surrounded by other hens, only destined to produce eggs. She escapes at the beginning into the wild. Her owner is presented as an antagonist who later tried to clip her adopted duck son's wings.
- Referenced in Don Bluth's The Secret Of NIMH when Nicodemus recounts the origins of the intelligent rats.
Nicodemus: We were captured, put in cages, and sent to a place called Nimh. There were many animals there, in cages. They were put through the most unspeakable tortures ... all to satisfy some scientific curiosity.
- In the Bambi movies, the enemy and antagonist is Man. They murder animals often enough that animals have to watch out for them whenever going out in the meadow, and hide whenever they're in the forest. Subverted in that Man isn't actually presented as evil, though animals consider them horrifying gods who can kill them easily with their weird long arms. Wanting to present Man as a neutral character is why Walt Disney never showed their faces.
- In Open Season, Shaw tries to murder animals he has no business killing, including Boog, a CIRCUS bear. He also goes out of his way to kill Elliot. He also falsely believes animals are trying to take over the world.
- Doctor J Sweetly Applecheeks maintains a facade of caring for animals in Tom and Jerry: The Movie, but he actually captures pampered pets and ransoms them back to their wealthy owners. His dingy basement is filled with cramped cages where he terrorizes the animals with a horsewhip.
- In the Shaun the Sheep feature film, Trumper imprisons most of the animals that he finds in what is essentially a prison, where they get little foot and are treated like vermin. This is all to make him feel like a hero when he's actually pathetic.
- Conrad Cuppman in the Hugo movies. He wants to make Hugo a movie star against his will, and pretty much destroys Hugo's home when capturing him.
- Plenty of examples can be found in Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, often rubbing shoulders with Humans Are Bastards.
- The stable master uses many bondage techniques in his effort to shoe and brand the titular stallion. Each failure dials up the cruelty a notch.
- The railroad men hitch more than one hundred horses to yokes to pull a huge locomotive to the top of a grade in winter, motivating them with crops and whips. The locomotive is too bulky to power itself up the slope, and even the horses struggle with the icy footing.
- Ursula the sea witch from Disney's The Little Mermaid has no regard for the well-being of others. She devours one of four terrified brine shrimp whole and alive like a cashew; she squeezes an anemone until it bleeds to use its blood as lipstick; at least two of the ingredients for her mermaid-to-human potion are live creatures in bottles, staring horrified at their impending doom. In her Vanessa disguise, Ursula kicks a growling Max the sheepdog, and tries to strangle Scuttle. She does show distress for her moray eels Flotsam and Jetsam when they're accidentally killed by the trident and is so horrified that she goes into a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, but this is likely Moral Myopia at work.
- Wallace & Gromit: In A Matter of Loaf and Death, Piella is routinely cruel to her dog Fluffles, giving her a few not-too-gentle kicks, verbally tearing her down and outright trying to kill her in the climax. She's not particularly nice to Gromit either, trying to trap him in her house so he has to watch Wallace being blown up.
Films — Live-Action
- John Wick: What motivates John for most of the movie is the fact that Iosef Tarakov and his gang killed his new dog, which was the last gift of his dead wife, among other things.
- American Psycho: After Patrick Bateman murders a homeless man in a dark alley, he immediately stomps his dog to death.
- Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare: In his childhood, Freddy Krueger murdered a class pet.
- Halloween (2007): Michael Myers murders both dogs he comes across. He's also implied to have ate one.
- The Good Son: Henry shoots and kills a dog with a nail crossbow.
- In Whatever Happened To Baby Jane, Blanche's jealous and bitter sister Jane killed her pet bird and served it to her.
- In The Uncanny, Valentine cements his position as a villain when he drowns Scat's three kittens (fortunately off-screen).
- Hilariously averted in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, as Dr. Evil outright kills several people on the account of upsetting his cat, Mr. Bigglesworth. note
- Little Shop of Horrors: As part of his musical number, Dr. Orin Scrivello, D.D.S. mentions murdering lots of puppies, fish and cats before his mother noticed his "funny" behavior and suggested he put his sadism to more profitable use by taking up dentistry instead.
- A rather disturbing example is in a Deleted Scene in The Cat in the Hat: The main antagonist Larry Quinn, before going to negotiate with a television store owner, decides to hide Nevins in a TV set by tying him up with the TV's plug, forcing him to chew on it, and then forcefully throws him into the set. To make matters more unsettling, Nevins yelps after being thrown into the TV.
- Gothika: Discussed Trope when Dr. Miranda Grey explains her theory about the killer's accomplice's origins with the sheriff, which as a budding serial killer probably included torturing animals from a young age onwards. Then subverted when the sheriff reveals in a Wham Line that he never did enjoy it.
- The main characters from The Plague Dogs were experimented on in the beginning of the book, with one of them being repeatedly drowned and then resuscitated. The Animated Adaptation made it especially hard to watch...
- One of the reason the animals rebelled in Animal Farm was because Mr. Jones had been treating them worse and worse as he got older. The final straw came on a day where he straight up forgot to give them food.
- The titular young beagle in Shiloh routinely flees his abusive owner Judd Travers, and seeks out neighbor Marty Preston, because Marty doesn't batter, cage, and starve the dog.
- In Discworld: Snuff Sir Sam Vimes, Commander of the Ankh-Morpork Watch, regales an inexperienced but eager village constable, Feeney, with how a man had once cut off his dog's back legs when it wouldn't heel. Lord Vetinari ordered the man's house searched by the Watch, and he was executed a week later for what they found in his cellar.
Vimes: And bloody Vetinari got away with it again, because he was right: where there are little crimes, large crimes are not far behind.
- In Warrior Cats, there is a Twoleg living near SkyClan who is cruel to his pets. In Firestar's Quest, Petal and her kits have to be rescued from him, and in SkyClan's Destiny, the perpetually nervous Shrewtooth reveals that he is so jumpy because he used to be owned by the same man. SkyClan attacks the man to try to teach him not to mistreat any more of his pets.
- In the Arcia Chronicles, whether a person of Royal Blood gets along with the cats living in the Imperial Palace of Munt is a surefire indicator whether he will be The Good King or a bad one. Justified in that the "cats" are actually cat-shaped guardian spirits of the palace and being accepted by them is an ancient rite of passage for future kings that the humans have long forgotten. Charles and Alexander Tagere get along with the "cats" right away, Philip Tagere has more trouble with them, while both Pierres Lumen can't stand them (mutually), which perfectly mirrors the scale of how virtuous they are presented by the narration.
- In Reflections of Eterna by the same author, one of the first things we see Richard Oakdell do is to try to kill a rat with the local equivalent of the Bible for no reason other that it annoyed him. Word of God is that this either served as his Start of Darkness or was an early indication of his moral flaws that blossom in later books.
- In Provost's Dog, the main protagonist Beka finds the best scent hound in the city in the hands of a cruel trainer, and she is underfed and constantly whipped to make her obey faster. She confronts the trainer about it, and becomes the dog's caretaker herself. Also has an inverted example where Beka is somewhat dismayed to find out that the crime lord Pearl Skinner is a dog lover since it will make it harder to bring her down.
- In the Kenzie and Gennaro Series this trope is used in Prayers for Rain when the Big Bad kills a dog For the Evulz and specifically goes out of his way to do so. In real life author Dennis Lehane is a well known dog lover.
- In Red Dragon, the Tooth Fairy killer's pattern involves killing a family's pet before killing the rest of the family.
- In The Manchurian Candidate, Mrs. Iselin makes a passing remark in her narration about how she once nailed the paws of her cocker spaniel to the floor because he wouldn't obey a "heel" command. This was just one of multiple pieces of Troubling Unchildlike Behavior she displayed and an early sign of her Control Freak nature, and her older brother is specifically noted as having seen this and been disturbed by it.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, Joffrey Baratheon is one the cruelest, most sadistic characters in the story. It's mentioned than when he was younger, he cut up a pregnant cat. His father was horrified and beat him for it, though his mother didn't find it disturbing at all (which makes sense considering she's almost as awful as he is). In stark contrast, his younger brother Tommen is a sweet kid who adores his three pet kittens. It's also worth noting that early in the first book, Joffrey suggests killing Bran Stark's direwolf and takes pleasure from the fact that Sansa's direwolf was put to death.
- Young sociopath Patrick Hockstetter in IT cemented his evil cred by murdering his own baby brother as a small child, and makes a game of torturing animals by locking them in an abandoned fridge to slowly starve to death. His gruesome fate at IT's hands is terrifying, but not the least bit tragic.
- Doctor Moreau in H. G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau uses vivisection on animals in order to deform and mutate their bodies making them more human-like. This was no casual, as Wells (himself an animal rights' activist) wrote the book as a protest against the practice of vivisection that was still practiced (though near to be outlawed) in Britain at the time.
- Survivor Dogs:
- The Fierce Dogs have a morning exercise ritual where they take turns chasing and pinning down a scared rabbit, before killing it. Lucky finds this behavior to be torture and compares them to sharpclaws.
- The Fierce Dogs killed a fox kit named "Cub Fire". When his family found out they decided to get revenge, but mistook the Wild Pack for killing their cub.
- The Sherlock Holmes short story "he Adventure of the Copper Beeches" has Holmes being hired by Violet Hunter to investigate her employers the Rucastle family. She notes that Mr Rucastle keeps a starved mastiff on his property which is only let out at night to savage potential intruders, that he is particularly proud of his son's skill for squashing cockroaches, and that the son has a penchant for trapping and torturing small birds and mammals. Holmes takes this as evidence of the Rucastles' malicious nature, noting that streaks of cruelty are commonly passed from parent to child.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus: In the Mouse Organ sketch, a man plays "The Bells of St. Mary's" on a mouse organ - a bunch of [unseen] mice he whacks with a mallet so that they squeak out the tune. The in-universe audience reacts with horror and a stage manager grabs him & pulls him offstage.
- One Victim of the Week on CSI is an awarded humanitarian activist that had been torn to pieces by dogs. As the investigation went on, the cast finds out that she was instead a hard-core Asshole Victim: the head of an underground dog fighting ring that used her reputation as a defender of animals to remain a Villain with Good Publicity and Beneath Suspicion. Her killer is the man who took care of said dogs (and had to see them die painfully or be mistreated to breed their ferocity by her), who reached his Rage Breaking Point when the FBI (who he was an informant to) decided to do nothing about the ring, insisting that their hands were tied because of her reputation and connections even after he gave them a virtual truckful of evidence.
- Dexter: It's implied that Dexter killed animals as a child, which was what made his father guess he was growing up into a Serial Killer.
- Done constantly in MOTHER 3. Most of the enemies you encounter in game are "chimeras", wild animals who have experimented with to either fuse them together or partially roboticize them. Then there's a segment in which you actually play as a monkey who is facing Electric Torture at the hands of his master.
- The whole point of the original Sonic the Hedgehog games is to save little forest animals who have been stuffed inside robots by Dr. Eggman, the (usual) Big Bad.
- Pokémon examples:
- In Pokémon Black and White, it turns out that at least two members of Team Plasma aren't as kind to Pokemon as they claim, when they kick a Munna in an effort to extract some Phlebotinum.
- In Pokémon Sun and Moon, one of Lusamine's most heinous acts is torturing Cosmog in order to get it to open up a portal to Ultra Space. She also cryogenically froze a number of Pokémon for her own amusement.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, many bandits capture animals such as wolves so they can bet on them in pit fights. Others brutally murder the usually peaceful mammoths for meat.
- In Far Cry 4 it's not uncommon to find caged tigers or other predatory animals in Royal Army camps and to see soldiers poking at them. One very satisfying way to clear out the camps is to release the tigers and let them kill all the soldiers.
- In Tyranny, the psychopathic Verse mentions practicing her knife work on the animals at her family's farm before joining the Scarlet Chorus for further opportunities to maim, torture, and brutalize people under the banner of Kyros.
- In Dishonored 2 using the Heart on Kirin Jindosh reveals, among other things, that he vivisected a cat as a child because he "wanted to see how the parts worked".
- The titular character of Mad Father killed animals as a child, eventually graduating to people. As it turns out, his daughter Aya inherited this trait, and a big part of why he wants to turn Aya into a doll is to prevent her from turning out like him.
- In Spinnerette, the North Korean supervillain Colonel Glass would occasionally skin random animals using his glass powers and leave them near the DMZ to intimidate the South Koreans. He does the same to an alley kitten in Columbus, to keep himself from boiling over and blowing his cover by killing people.
- Drowtales uses this several times:
- Syphile cemented herself as an antagonist both In-Universe and out by brutally killing Fuzzy, the kitten owned by her adopted sister Ariel, purely because Syphile was having a bad day. The remake version of chapter 1 also pulls a Bait-and-Switch by at first having her accept Ariel having the cat instead of killing it right off, only to lock the two of them in the room for a week, which unsurprisingly leads to Fuzzy defecating everywhere and becoming sick from lack of food. Then she kills it by smashing its head against the wall.
- Also used for Foreshadowing with the character Jer'kol, who at first acts like an ally to Ariel, but the fact that his wolf is in bad shape physically and seems to have been abused is a big red flag about his true nature and a hint that the above mentioned Syphile actually hired him to kill Ariel.
- Then there's Yuh'le, a character explicitly described◊ as The Sociopath who is first seen exploding fishes with her mind using her particularly potent brand of Blood Magic. The fact that Mel'arnach, who knew her years ago, knows she does this and still describes her as a good friend if a little odd is a big signal that Mel is a Horrible Judge of Character.
- In Ultra Fast Pony, Fluttershy starts off as an incompetent version of this trope. She keeps a bunch of animals that she calls her slaves and treats as such—or at least she tries to. She's so spineless that she can't bring herself to abuse the animals like she wants to. (Later, she decides she'd rather help her animals, at which point she starts hurting and killing them through sheer stupidity.)
- Cracked has a list of 8 Awesome Cases of Internet Vigilantism. #2 is a case where a 14-year-old posted a YouTube video of him beating up a cat. The video caught the attention of Anonymous, who tracked him down through his social media accounts and got him and his brother arrested.
- Every episode from The Nostalgia Critic covering Pokémon that features the Critic mocking the franchise and fans of it has this in some capacity. One of the worst examples came from a scene where the Critic outright killed Pokémon in the commercial; the other came in the Freddy vs. Jason review where he even let Ash Williams decapitate Ash Ketchum's Pikachu, then yelled at Ketchum to "Suck it up".
- Recurring villain Professor Nimnul from Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers episode "Catteries Not Included" captured about one hundred cats, and kept them in cages until needed to charge his weapon. Mechanical hands would then seize the cats from the cages, and hold them aloft while large nylon brushes scrubbed them vigorously. Many of the cats cried out in distress at this treatment.
- In one episode of The Powerpuff Girls, when Miss Keane lets Mitch take Twiggy, the class hamster, he abuses him for fun.
- Eustace Bagge from Courage the Cowardly Dog does this to the titular dog on a regular basis. Taken Up to Eleven in "Ball of Revenge" where he even went as far to hiring Courage's past foes to actually kill Courage.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, we discover Azula's way of "feeding the turtleducks" in the royal gardens as a little girl - throwing rocks at them. Years later, when she's a teenager, they still flee when she appears.
- An example from Rick and Morty: Alongside a school bully, a Neo-Nazi, a Westboro Baptist Church member, and the Devil, one of the random people that Rick and Summer beat up in the episode "Something Ricked This Way Comes" is a guy who mistreats his dog.
- At one point we see Jason Wynn, Spawn's former boss when he was human, talking to someone on the phone whilst holding a puppy. Casually, not even stopping his conversation, he walks over to a fish tank and drops the dalmatian puppy in... said tank is full of piranha, who start ripping the puppy apart. There's no reason why he had to do this. He just does it because he can.
- In one scene, The Clown confronts Spawn on a church's roof. We see he's stroking a cat...then he snaps its neck and throws it off the roof.