Once upon a time, it was pretty much a given that any dark-skinned, non-Christian native tribes encountered by a European explorer hero would be consumers of human flesh. The stereotypical Cannibal Tribe are Always Chaotic Evil, dress in very little but for the Skeletons in the Coat Closet, and live in wooden huts around a large fire with an enormous cooking pot sitting on top of it. The Missionary may be already there, trying to make them change their ways, or he might be in our hero's party... or those might be his bones adorning the chief's throne. Monstrous Cannibalism may be practiced within the tribe if they run out of captives. Often provide the Angry Natives for a Chased by Angry Natives scene. Contrast Noble Savage. Subtrope of Hollywood Natives. Supertrope of Captured by Cannibals and the related exploitation film genre, Cannibal Film. Contrast with Cannibal Clan, where the cannibals are just a family. Subtrope of Humans Are Bastards. And ironically, the Cannibal Tribe's attitude towards foreigners makes them a subtrope of Politically Incorrect Villain.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Several stories in the early years of The Phantom featured cannibal tribes, including a few tribes in the Phantom's own neighborhood who were officially reformed, but prone to backsliding when they thought he wasn't looking. One later story ends with the Phantom placing the villain of the piece in the custody of one of these tribes, encouraging good behaviour by warning him of their history. He carefully neglects to mention that since then, not only have they kicked the cannibalism, but they have all become vegetarians.
- In the Savage Sword of Conan comics, Conan encountered a cannibal tribe who believe they can become invincible for a short time by "eating the moon", which they accomplish by devouring the flesh of a Human Sacrifice bathed in moonlight. They're absolutely correct, though their invulnerability may be powered by belief. Conan defeats them by "slaying" the moon — he releases a cloud of smoke from a special pellet, which completely obscures the night sky.
- In Casanova, for failing to catch Casanova, Pucci's predecessor and his entire staff get sent off to be missionaries somewhere where they have "a great hunger for religion".
- In Nate and Hayes, King Oatapi's people on the island of Ponape.
- Cannibal Film Cannibal Women In The Avocado Jungle Of Death parodies this trope. It's about two feminist tribes who have fallen out over whether men should be eaten with guacamole or clam dip.
- The Kona tribe from Cloud Atlas.
- In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Jack has been declared the god of a Cannibal Tribe—who want to eat him to release him from his weak mortal form.
- Played straight in The Navigator, in which Buster Keaton and his girl, who have been adrift on the open ocean in a cruise ship, run aground on an island inhabited by cannibals, who then try to eat them.
- Protagonist Eden runs across a group of wild Glaswegians with a taste for human flesh in Doomsday. She takes over said group via Klingon Promotion at the end of the movie.
- Cannibal tribes are a staple in Russian Humor. Usually the stories feature someone captured by the cannibals and trying to avoid being eaten, the chief offering some impossible task and threatening to cook and eat the captured if they fail. Some stories reveal that the cannibal chief is an alumnus of the Moscow Patrice Lumumba University, which specialized on giving university education to citizens of third-world countries.
- It is said that around the turn of the 17th Century, a cannibal clan called the Sawney Beans operated in Scotland until exterminated by personal action of King James VI (James I of Great Britain). The Other Wiki brings together the stories. It is possible the cannibal clan story marks the destruction of the last remnant of the Pictish people in Scotland.
- There's a Cannibal Tribe in Nation, but aside from being terrifying raiders who take human prisoners for slaves (and dinner), they're really quite reasonable... and not nearly as terrifying as First Mate Cox.
- Elements of this turn up in the South Seas Treasure Game from the 1981 novel Dream Park.
- Heart of Darkness: one of the only African characters Marlow describes as an individual is among a group of rowers for the European explorers (for lack of a better term), and they are described as being cannibals, but considerate enough not to practice that while Europeans are watching.
- Friday's tribe in Robinson Crusoe. Despite his friendship with Friday, Crusoe remains convinced that Friday's people will eat him if he ever ventures over there, despite Friday's insistence otherwise. They later rescue a Spaniard and Friday's father from being eaten by another group of cannibals.
- The natives of Tsalal in The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.
- The Wendol in The 13th Warrior.
- Courtship Rite features the very rare non-villainous version; the entire population of Geta has been forced into cannibalism, and, over the centuries, has made it a proud part of their culture.
- A Song of Ice and Fire the Wildling Ice-river clans are known for being this (not the Thenns, unlike in the show). As they live north of The Wall which is nothing but ice and snow. They are more savage and primitive than the rest of the Free Folk, who view them with fear and disdain.
- The people of Skagos are said to be this, they onced raided the nearby isle of Skane and ate all the men in a fortnight. Rickon Stark went there in hiding with Shaggydog and Osha, Davos Seawroth dread having to go there as the island is infamous to sailors.
Live Action TV
- A regular threat in Sir Arthur Conan Doyles The Lost World.
- The Reavers in Firefly are a particularly savage Cannibal Tribe IN SPACE!!
Zoe: If they take the ship, they'll rape us to death, eat our flesh, and sew our skins into their clothing—and if we're very, very lucky, they'll do it in that order.
- Such a tribe appears in Sinbad, but they are slightly more sympathetic than usual as they appear to be near-starving.
- Game of Thrones has the Thenns, who are a clan of cannibal Wildlings that even Tormund Giantsbane finds appalling.
- Rolemaster Shadow World setting supplement Star Crown Empire and the Sea of Fates. They like to eat explorers searching for the Elephants' Graveyard in the Chimen jungle in G'thal.
- Warhammer 40,000 gives us a Recycled IN SPACE! version with the Kroot, a race of bird-like aliens loosely based on various "tribal" cultures. While they don't eat each other very much, they do eat everybody else (though smart ones abstain from anything associated with Chaos and the Tyranids. And the Tau, usually, since they're the ones footing the bill for their gastronomic tours of the Milky Way). Because of their Bizarre Alien Biology, they're able to absorb DNA from their meals, playing on the belief prevalent in cultures that practiced cannibalism that you could absorb the strength of people you ate. Depending on the Writer this may in fact be how the Kroot evolved into an intelligent life form, having been fairly ordinary birds until they started scavenging the corpses of some Orks that happened to crash on their planet.
- Kingdom Rush Frontiers features these as the vast majority of the enemies you face in the jungle stage.
- Monkey Island features a former cannibal tribe that has since turned towards vegetarianism, and now commit sacrifices to their volcano god, Sherman, with human effigies made out of fresh produce. Although this has had the added benefit of halting the number of daily eruptions (Sherman has a very delicate stomach), it's also completely killed tourism on the island.
- Starbound has an entire race of these in Florans. They'll stab and eat anything, including each other.
Birdman not behave, he get eaten.
- There are a few tribes in Papua New Guinea that used to still practice it until very recently, only stopping in the last 20 years or so. Primarily it was done to prisoners of war. Most (if not all) have stopped by now, but it's come to bite a lot of the tribes in the ass, because apparently, there's a very dangerous neurological disease called kuru that only seems to occur among people who have eaten human brains over long periods of time.
- Chimpanzees who kill members of other clans in fights for territory often eat their dead enemies after the battle. It's only in movies that Ape Shall Never Kill Ape.