Children - and childlike, innocent (although not necessarily small
) beings - are curious
and easily distracted
. So when a cute, small creature, like a butterfly, passes by them, they will follow it out of curiosity
. The small animal will either ignore them, or will be scared and flee.
More often than not, following the critter will lead the characters away from their parents / guardians and into the proximity of some form of danger: a trap, a predator, or even the critter's parent
. Alternatively, the critter itself may be revealed to be dangerous
. Usually, the guardians arrive just in time to save their child, but that's not always the case.
Related to Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!
, Straying Baby
and Follow the White Rabbit
. Pretty Butterflies
are a common choice, so are Frogs and Toads
, but it works with any other small and non-threatening creature, or even some pretty, moving inanimate object.
Unrelated to Butterfly of Doom
, Schrödinger's Butterfly
or Butterfly of Transformation
Anime and Manga
Eastern European Animation
- Mei, the younger girl from My Neighbor Totoro tends to do this. First she chases the soot sprites all over the house; then she gets lost when she follows Chibi-Totoro into the woods. Although she enounters a monstrous creature (the titular Totoro), fortunately he is a Gentle Giant, so the danger part is averted.
- Happens in a chapter of the Japanese-only Neptunia manga, with a de-aged Uni crawling after balloons. Neptune soon catches up with her, but this causes her to cry, and causes more mishaps.
- In the anime version of Fushigi Yuugi, Miaka chases after an apparition of a phoenix (representing, of course, Suzaku.). In the manga, she discovers the phoenix while chasing after an errant pencil.
- In the Hungarian short Pangea The Neverending World, Rexy, the baby Tyrannosaurus rex chases a butterfly, which leads him away from his nest to a ravine he almost falls in. He is also attacked by a Spinosaurus.
- The titular character of Vuk The Little Fox, as a young predator, tends to chase after everything he sees. He almost falls off the cliff when he attacks a lizard while his uncle is asleep.
- The title character of Süsü, a sárkány is a Gentle Giant dragon with a childlike personality, who quite obsessed with butterflies; he loves to run after them, even though he never catches them.
Film Live Action
- Happens twice with the main character in Bambi; first with a butterfly, then with a frog. In neither case does it lead to danger.
- In Brave, a young Merida follows the wisp-o-willows into the forest, where she is attacked by Mor'du the bear.
- In The Land Before Time, Littlefoot and Cera chase a frog before their first encounter with Sharptooth.
- In The Lion King, Simba, while waiting in the gorge, chases a chameleon, practicing his roar on it. Then the stampede arrives.
- At the beginning of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Baby Alakay (who would later grow up to be Alex) chases a butterfly to the edge of the animal reserve, which leads him to get captured by a pair of hunters.
- Played for Drama in Tarzan, where Kala and Kerchak's baby follows a frog, which leads him to Sabor the leopard. The results aren't pretty.
- At the beginning of Dinosaur, a baby parasaurolophus chases after a winged lizard, which leads him to a Carnotaur that starts chasing after the other dinosaurs.
- Pixar's WALL•E: WALL•E notices a glowing red dot near his home, which seems to dart away from him tantalizingly. The lonely robot pursues the curious dot to a barren area, until he discovers that it's a targeting light for a landing spacecraft. WALL•E did well to dig himself into a bunker before the landing rockets melted him into slag.
- In the opening scene of The Lost World: Jurassic Park, a little girl follows a Compsognathus, only to be attacked by a whole flock of them.
- Symbolically in Young Frankenstein, when the Creature is enraptured by the Frankenstein family lullaby, he idly snatches at the air as if trying to grab invisible butterflies.
- Alice in Wonderland starts with Alice following a white rabbit out of curiosity and falling down its hole, which leads her to Wonderland.
- At the beginning of Jurassic Park a child finds a cute little dinosaur and chases after it under the assumption that it's just some native Costa Rican lizard, only to find out the hard way that Procompsognathus has a venomous bite.
- Invoked in The Hound Of The Baskervilles where Stapleton is a butterfly collector willing to run through a dangerous mire in order to collect a rare specimen. It turns out though that he's the Big Bad of the piece.
- In Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Felicia's Victory Pose has her Failed Attempt at Drama interrupted by a butterfly passing by and she promptly chases it.
- Fatal Frame has Mayu in Fatal Frame 2 Crimson Butterfly. She chases after butterflies all the time, and then she "gets lost." This leaves you alone. The butteflies are the souls of dead sacrifices, so her following them never bodes well.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Butterfly wings are ingredients for some of the more useful alchemical recipes. Thus, it is not a rare sight to see the Dovahkin, slayer of dragons, to jump out of his/her way to chase down some butterflies.
- The Death Battle between Felicia and Taokaka begins with Felicia engaging in this activity, leading to her accidentally bumping into Taokaka. The fight later pauses for a bit when the butterfly floats by the two Cat Girls, leading to both of them chasing after it.