Dead Animal Warning

Michael Westen: Friend of mine, Cara Stagner, she has a rat problem.
Alvaro Desantos: And you come here? Sounds like she needs an exterminator.
Michael: Little late for that: they're nailed to her door.

Want to send someone a message stronger than just throwing a brick through their window? Then throw a dead animal through their window instead. Or nail it to the their door. Or just dump it on their door step. Whatever method you chose, the message will be clear: that you are willing to kill and that they could be next.

To make it even more personal, the animal could be a beloved pet. Often combined with Break-In Threat.

Of course, this can also set off the Animal Wrongs Group.

The equivalent when done with a human is Dead Guy on Display (if done for intimidation).

See also Bad People Abuse Animals. Compare Kick the Dog, And Your Little Dog, Too!.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Comic Books  

  • Parodied in Transmetropolitan, Spider owns a "maker" produced by a Mafia-owned company and if he tries to throw it away (its' AI is a drug addict) severed horse heads appear in his bed.
  • In the lead-up to Batman #400, Ra's al Ghul sends Batman a package containing a bat with broken neck; a fairly obvious threat, as Batman puts it.
  • In #1 of the post-Rebirth series of Teen Titans, Ra's al Ghul sends Damien Wayne (a.k.a. Robin) a dead robin on his 13th birthday.

     Film - Live Action  

  • As part of her reign of terror in Fatal Attraction, Alex kills Ellen's pet rabbit and puts it on the Gallaghers' stove to boil.
  • A variation in Gangs of New York when Amsterdam hangs a dead rabbit on a fence in Paradise Square. It's the symbol of his father's old gang, the Dead Rabbits, and both a call to arms for the immigrant community and a message to Bill the Butcher that he's not going to give up.

     Literature  

  • In one of the most famous scenes of The Godfather, a Hollywood producer wakes up with the head of his prized racehorse in his bed as proof of what will happen if he doesn't give into Don Corleone's demands.
  • In Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Mikael Blomquist bonds with a cat while staying at the Vanger estate. He wakes up one morning to find the villain has killed the cat and left its mutilated remains on his doorstep.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the school caretaker's cat is hung up as a warning after the Chamber of Secrets is opened. Being a children's book, it turns out that she's petrified but not dead, and she's revived later.
    • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince a flashback shows Dumbledore visiting the orphanage where Tom Riddle was raised, and the matron discusses an incident in which he was accused of hanging another child's pet rabbit from the rafters after the rabbit's owner annoyed him. The accusations had to be dropped because they couldn't prove that he climbed into the rafters to do it, not realizing he was a wizard.
  • Four Past Midnight: In the short story Secret Window, Secret Garden Mort's cat is killed with a screwdriver and left as a warning by his Stalker Without a Crush. John Shooter is revealed to be in Mort's head the whole time. Mort killed his own cat. The film adaptation changes it to a dog.

     Live Action TV  

  • Badger: In "The Price of a Daughter", a disemboweled badger is dumped in Tom's garden as a warning.
  • Inspector George Gently: In "Breathe in the Air", a doctor's dog is killed as part of a harassment campaign that ultimately drives her to suicide.
  • CSI: In "Uninvited", the CSI team investigate when an entirely is reported as having been missing for a month. While investigating, they discover blood on the front door step, and eventually learn that the family dog had been killed and dumped on the doorstep.
  • American Horror Story: Roanoke: Among the many disturbing events warning Matt and Shelby away from the house in the first episode is a dead, bloody pig being left on their doorstep.
  • The Librarians (2007): After Frances upsets the local community (yet again), a pig's head is shoved into the library's book return chute.
  • After Monroe (a Blutbad) and Rosalee (a Fuchsbau) get married on Grimm, a Wesen hate group protests their union by nailing the corpse of a fox (the animal Fuchsbau are based on) to her apothecary shop.
  • The Burn Notice episode "Fight or Flight" has a cocktail waitress, Cara, be the only conscious witness to a drug cartel member beating a pizza delivery boy senseless for rear-ending him. The cartel starts intimidating her, including nailing a dead rat to her front door. Fortunately, Cara's boss happens to be Michael Westen's landlord.
  • Subverted on Veronica Mars. After the bus crash at the start of season two, Keith investigates the wreckage of the bus to find a dead rat taped under one of the seats. Keith and Veronica initially conclude that the rat was a message to someone who was planning to rat out someone else. But later, Keith figures that the purpose of the rat was the stench forcing certain students off the bus to protect them.
  • CSI: NY: In "Dead Inside", Stella receives a dead rat in the mail: a warning to her that the murder of the 'rat fisherman' should remained an unsolved case.
  • Marple: In Endless Night, Eliie discovers a dead bird with a threatening message pinned to it on her doorstep as part of a campaign of harassment aimed at her.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DeadAnimalWarning