Hobgoblin Cleric: Sir, your odd talking skull is speaking of the Perilous Path of Crushing Doom.Here it comes. The Harbinger of Death, the Ultimate Evil, It Which Devours Your Soul, Your Worst Nightmare. ...Or so it's called. Turns out, the creature in question is just a cute animal, with a scary name but completely harmless. Upon further inquiry, you'll learn that it was named by a child, an idiot, a trickster or some mix of all three, with smugness or bunny ears as optional extras. The polar opposite of Fluffy the Terrible. Also compare to Sealed Evil in a Teddy Bear. If it does have the destructive power despite the innocent appearance, it is a Killer Rabbit.
Redcloak: Please tell me it's actually filled with cute fuzzy bunnies, and they just named it that to be ironic.
Redcloak: Please tell me it's actually filled with cute fuzzy bunnies, and they just named it that to be ironic.
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- A British TV ad from the eighties about "Natural good taste" has a guy in horrible colours with yellow and purple wallpaper, who likes The Birdie Song and has a toy poodle called Rambo.
Anime and Manga
- Axis Powers Hetalia has Chimamire Hana-Tamago (Bloodstained Flower-Egg), a cute, little, white doggie who gains the ability to talk during Christmas specials, in which she vehemently denies the "Chimamire" part and wishes that she had been named something nice like Charlotte.
- One Piece:
- You wouldn't expect someone named "Chopper" to be an adorable (not to mention kind and amiable) reindeer, right? So long as you don't make him angry, that is.
- Iceburg, the mayor of Water 7, has a pet named Tyrannosaurus. It's a cute little white mouse that lives in his shirt pocket. Though after the Time Skip it's grown to the size of a dog.
- Hellwolf from Tentai Senshi Sunred, as long as the light of the full moon isn't touching him.
- In the Sands of Destruction anime, the World Destruction Committee sounds like a group of terrorists who cause death and mayhem wherever they go, right? Yeah, except that they actually tend to end up helping people instead of hurting them - probably due to the fact that only one of their three members even wants to end the world at all (and even she is just really depressed), another is a Nice Guy who couldn't hurt a fly if he tried, and the third has a code of heroic honor and follows the Nice Guy's lead even if he's not technically the one in charge. Averted in the manga, where the World Destruction Committee is every bit as dangerous as they sound (mostly due to Morte being outright Ax-Crazy instead of just sad).
- In Transformers, the Decepticons from "Shattered Glass", a Mirror Universe where everyone is an Evil Counterpart or Good Counterpart to a Generation One character. They all still have their Names to Run Away from Really Fast, but are now the good guys. (E.g., the black, serious, and stealthy jaguar becomes a white, LOLCats-esque, and loud jaguar who's totally addicted to social media... but his name is still Ravage.)
- "The Predator" from Green Lantern is The Love Entity—the living embodiment of the Violet Light that the Star Sapphire Corps uses for their powers. Despite its name and menacing alien dragon appearance, it's actually a Big Good entity.
- Sort of. As a being representing the far end of the emotional spectrum, it's as dangerous and overpowering and can cause those who use Violet Lantern rings to be obsessive, paranoid, and manipulative.
- Bodie Troll, sounds fearsome but he's just a cute fuzzy little guy who can't seem to scare anyone, something that he hates.
Films — Animated
- How to Train Your Dragon: Toothless is a Night Fury, a much-feared dragon nicknamed 'the unholy offspring of lightning and death itself'. He's ridiculously adorable. He's also still a pretty badass dragon though.
- Rhino the hamster in Bolt, although he claims to be one-sixteenth wolf with a dash of wolverine.
- Vlad in the Horton Hears a Who! movie. No, not Vlad the genuinely menacing vulture; Vlad the cute little bunny who delivers cookies.
Films — Live-Action
- The Bandersnatch from the Alice in Wonderland (2010) movie turns out to be this, only to people and things it likes. To everything else, it's Fluffy the Terrible.
- In How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, there was a tiny Chinese crested (a breed of dog that is evidently very easy to mistake for a chihuahua) named "Krull the Warrior King".
- Elle Woods' chihuahua Bruiser in Legally Blonde.
- From Muppet Treasure Island, the infamous pirate Big Fat Ugly Bug-faced Baby-eating O'Brien, is a rather attractive looking young woman. With a really deep voice...
- Maleficent as a child. Sure, she has horns and wings, but is still an innocent girl.
- One scene in Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) has Memphis and Kip Raines running away from a street gang out to kill them. Kip vaults a fence to land in a dog kennel and looks up in horror at the name posted on the adjacent doghouse: "Beast". And then an adorable little puppy runs out from it and starts licking his face.
- The "Incredibly Deadly Viper" from A Series of Unfortunate Events is totally harmless - the name was given to it as a practical joke, as it is instead playful and as cute as a sewer-pipe sized snake can be.
- Hagrid's dog Fang in Harry Potter, ironically one of the only animals he tends to that isn't vicious or dangerous. Lampshaded when Hagrid is splitting people up into groups to venture through the Forbidden Forest.
Malfoy: I want Fang.Hagrid: Alright, but I'll warn yeh, he's a bloody coward.
- There's Killer the Rabbit from Patricia C. Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles novel Calling on Dragons, who is anything but a Killer Rabbit.
- In Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara, the emperor of Chandara has the imposing name of Hugo Khan. Turns out that he's a Microraptor, which is one of the smallest dinosaurs known. Even the name of the dinosaur sounds puny.
- In The Hallowed Hunt, the Viking-esque prince Jokol "Skullsplitter", who it turns out was given that appellation due to his talent at poetry: he makes "heads burst with his tales". (Not literally.)
- In Louis Sachar's The Boy Who Lost His Face, Mo builds a doghouse in shop class with a sign that says Killer, hoping to get a dog to go with the house. She does, but Killer ends up being a small puppy.
- According to Children of the Jedi, Leia named one of her aunt's pet pittins (kitten analogues) AT-AV (short for All-Terrain Attack Vehicle). Not hard to imagine a kitten acting like that...
- In the children's book series for How to Train Your Dragon, Fishlegs has a dragon named Horrorcow. It's vaguely cow-like, but not at all horrifying.
- In Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Alice Series, Mrs. Sheavers reads an article that says robbers are less likely to approach a house that has a dog dish with the name Killer on it. This is why she chose to rename the family's old, frail, almost-deaf and harmless dog Muffin into Killer.
- Subverted by the cat, "Dragon", in Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, who got his name as a joke when he was a kitten, pretending to be fierce. The name became fitting when he grew up.
- In The Savannah Reid Mysteries, subverted with Lady Eleanor's dogs, Hitler, Satan, and Killer. They're tiny little fluffy dogs, not what you'd first expect the breed to be if you'd only heard the names. They are quite aggressive at first, but once Savannah starts treating them kindly, they're rather friendly to everyone.
- The Wings of Fire series has a dragon literally named Deathbringer. He's actually a very lighthearted and comical dragon.
- Dragon Bones: The horse named "Stygian" after the river in the underworld. He's actually quite a nice horse, he's just aggressive because his owner mistreated him.(His throwing Ward's sadistic father, thus causing him to die, is more heroic than anything else.) When he inherits him, Ward renames him "Pansy", to avoid this trope. Not long afterward, Pansy is mistaken for a farmer's horse, because he's so calm.
- In the Skulduggery Pleasant short story Myosotis Terra, the protagonists have to rescue a spy from a village of cannibalistic sorcerers. Of course, they get captured. The cannibals plan to feed them to "The Beast". Later, it turns out "The Beast" actually is a tiny adorable monkey-rabbit like ball of fluff, and calling it intimidating names and pretending it is a horrible monster is an inside joke between them. Of course, The Beast must be fed... Who would want such an adorable little thing to get hungry? The cannibals usually cut their victims into tiny pieces, feed the best parts to The Beast, and eat what is left.
- Fearless considers Ruthless to be one of these when he first sees him in Bravelands. Lion cubs don't get their "true names" until they're several months old and have already shown off a characteristic worthy of being named after. Ruthless' parents Titan and Artful decided to skip the waiting period and just give him a name, hoping he'd grow into it. Ruthless is a Cheerful Child and is anything but ruthless.
- Doña Clotilde from El Chavo del ocho likes to adopt puppies and baptize them as "Satan" and "Lucifer". Her poor pets also have a tendency to run off, so she tries to bring them back by calling their names loudly. Add this to the fact that her neighbors doesn't always know she has a pet, and Hilarity Ensues (she's called The Witch of Apartment 71...)
- Subverted in an episode of That's So Raven which featured a Yorkshire terrier named Monster.
Raven: Aww, they named it Monster because it's so cute?
Chelsea: No, they named it Monster because it'll rip your arms and legs off.
- The GIANT DEATH RAY from That Mitchell and Webb Look. It's actually an oversized barcode scanner named after its creator, Professor Death, who is himself is something of an example: an ardent pacifist whose inventions are intended for peaceful endeavours, who happens to have the surname Death.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
Giles: Don't taunt the Fear Demon.
- In the Season 2 episode Passions, Drusilla adopts a puppy (which she originally intended as a snack for Spike) and names it "Miss Sunshine". Not a particularly terrifying name to humans, but for vampires...
- In Season 4, the gang is plagued by Gachnar, a fear demon. Buffy is overzealous and breaks his giant symbol, freeing him to the revelation that he was only a couple of inches tall. After some cooing, Gachnar then gets squashed by the slayer's boot.
Xander: Why? Can it hurt me?
Giles: No, it's just tacky.
- Also there was the example of the gentle, rather romantic gentleman nicknamed "William the Bloody" because his poetry was "so bloody awful" that one listener said he would rather have a railroad spike jammed through his head than listen to another poem. Then young William was turned into a vampire who called himself Spike...
- Same joke, way different execution occurred in Angel when Cordelia, as a princess, and to her vocal disgust, is coerced to mate with a hideous, destructive monster called the Groosalugg...until she finds out 'Groo' is only hideous by demon standards; he's actually an incredibly handsome and skilled human warrior and really quite sweet in temperament. (She still doesn't mate with him, but for different reasons.)
- In a live-action skit spoofing God of War, X-Play had Kratos's final opponent be the God of Chaos, which happened to be a cute little puppy.
- In the Doctor Who episode "Closing Time", Craig's son introduces himself to the Doctor (fluent in Baby) as Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All.
- On Corner Gas, Brent gives his baseball pitches intimidating names like "Hammer of Thor", but since he's in a slow pitch league, they are all identical, slow-moving arcs. Lacey advises him to change their names to things like "Rainbow" and "Pregnant Lady's Belly".
- In Hollyoaks, gangster Grace Blake owns a cute and tiny chihuahua named Brutus.
- Person of Interest features an Artificial Intelligence known simply as "The Machine". It's benevolent, adorkable, and even apparently self-identifies as female.
- For some reason, the Spanish dub for Latin America of Married... with Children changed the name of the family's dog from Buck to Devorador (Devourer). As Buck's behavior is hardly a menace to anyone, probably they were trying to invoke this trope.
- In the season 2 episode Clowning Around of Kenan & Kel, Chris buys a guard dog named Bloodbath to protect the Rigby's, but when Kel approaches the dog, he shows to be very meek. Then Chris says that Bloodbath is not supposed to be friendly, calls him a bad dog and the dog attacks Chris.
- One of the sample sci-fi characters in Toon: The Cartoon RPG is The Crusher, the head of security on a space station with thundering footsteps... caused by his comically-oversized boots. He's actually a shrimpy little green man with a meek voice. You don't want to mess with his hulking lackey Percy, though...
- One Paranoia mission includes a bot with "Research and Design" stamped on the side. It wasn't built by R&D, it was just assigned to work there until recently, and is no more dangerous than the average Alpha Complex bot.
- Ace Attorney Investigations:
- While the man himself also looks imposing, Detective Tyrell Badd is a lollipop-sucking and rather good mannered cop.
- The complete fluffball Colias Palaeno, whose original Japanese name is Damien Hinge. The name in the English version averts this, as colias palaeno is a species of butterfly, making it more of a Meaningful Name.
- Apparently Nintendo thought Kirby's name was this, and that's one of the reasons his name was chosen as such. But he still has his Badass Adorable moments.
- The mission in Brütal Legend where you meet The Killmaster, who looks suspiciously like Lemmy Kilmister from Motorhead for some reason... Anyway, the man is, in fact, a healer. And a damn good one. This whole mess with his name is justified, however, as Killmaster intentionally chose the name to scare people off, because otherwise they would Shoot the Medic First.
- The games have a faction known as the Followers of The Apocalypse. With a name like that, you'd expect them to be really evil or at least really metal. Instead, they're probably the setting's most altruistic and harmless factions, being essentially the post-apocalyptic Red Cross. The name stands for the fact that they seek knowledge of the Old World so that mistakes like the Great War can never be repeated again. Of course, one of their former members happens to be the founder of Caesar's Legion, though he's considered the Black Sheep of the faction.
- In Fallout: New Vegas, there's a Super Mutant by the name of Mean Sonofabitch. He protects the slums of Westside from raiders and is a Gentle Giant at nature (though somewhat unintelligible due to having his tongue cut out by some Sociopathic Soldiers).
- Fallout 4 's DLC Far Harbor invokes this : Red Death is actually a harmless, tiny Mirelurk.
- One of Rin's cats in Little Busters! is named Hitler. Most of the cats are named after historical individuals, including Isoroku and Tezuka.
- Used to hilarious effect in Mercenaries 2. There's a mission that tells you to get something called the Devastator. At first, the pointer seems to lead you to a gigantic tank...but then, after you get in, the pointer shows the Devastator is a cute little scooter.
- Captain Dread of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge. Remember that "dread" is a word with more than one meaning. Bonus points for being the only Jamaican in the series so far.
- The nickname function lets you have this, Fluffies, and Deathbringers that grow into their name when they evolve.
- Gorebyss's name immediately brings to mind "an abyss of gore," unless you know what it looks like◊. In all fairness though, it is "gorgeous," and does live in an "abyss", as in "the bottom of the sea". However, that's just a facade. It's actually very aggressive and hunts by Mind Raping its prey, shoving its extremely sharp mouth into their unconscious bodies, and sucking their fluids out. Yes it's beautiful, but the name fits.
- Your guild graduation exam in the second set of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games requires you to face off against the so called "grand master of all things bad" who turns out to be your extremely friendly, childish, Cloud Cuckoolander of a Guildmaster, Wigglytuff◊, in a darkened room, with the rest of the guild playing the role of his "minions". Subverted in that said character is actually a renowned explorer in-universe and the highest leveled storyline boss outside the Big Bad, meaning he can, and will, hand you your ass if you aren't prepared to face him.
- Paarthurnax in Skyrim. Admittedly, he is a dragon, but for someone whose name means "Ambition Overlord Cruelty", he's really nice. As in, Actual Pacifist levels of nice. In the old days he really did live up to his name, being The Dragon to the Big Bad. His current state is a self-imposed penance.
- In Jagged Alliance 2, there is a character named Spider. She is a kindly, maternal medic and absolute pants at everything killing-related. She got the nickname from her brothers, who teased her about her fear of bugs. Of course, thanks to her high wisdom stats, she gets better at everything killing-related scarily fast. Which the developers fully intended and added lots of Break the Cutie moments into her dialogue. Statements like: "How can anyone see that and not question what we do for a living?" are only the beginning.
- In Super Dangan Ronpa 2, Gundham Tanaka has a group of hamsters he named "The Four Dark Devas of Destruction". Of course, they're not completely harmless, as he has sustained injuries on his left arm from breaking up their fights over territory.
- Wasteland 2 has the Night Terror, who you can free from a guarded cell in the ruins of Darwin Village. Doing this merely causes your squad to become his new best friends, and he starts following you around and asking you for candy (although his definition of "candy" definitely falls into Squick territory).
- In Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, you can design custom units from a standard stock of equipment; the game automatically gives them names, some of which are terrifying (e.g. "Singularity Deathsphere"). However, technological advance can lead to Badass Decay, leaving some awesomely-named units pretty harmless a few turns after their first production (for example, if you put Silksteel Armor on an Impact Rover, it's automatically named an Impact Dragon; however, by the time you get Silksteel Armor, the Impact Cannon technology is usually starting to get old and you're usually just about to research anywhere from two to four new offensive modules, meaning that your Impact Dragon is about to become hopelessly overmatched.)
- The World Annihilation Front members in Sands of Destruction are actually pretty affable folks for the most part, and apart from a few alarmists, most of the folks they encounter along the way don't have any problem with helping them even knowing who they are. Kyrie especially gets nicknamed Destruct, and while he is capable of turning everything around himself to sand on occasion, that's definitely not what he wanted to do.
- Cerberus in Fantasy Life is claimed to be a mythical beast summoned from a magical realm to protect his ruler. He's actually just a normal-sized dog that is seen playing with one of the knights and, according to his bio, "loves walkies". He can't even join you to participate in battle, unlike a few other animals.
- You'd expect the covenant of Chaos Servants in Dark Souls I to be at least Bomb-Throwing Anarchists from that name alone, but no, they are just collecting humanities for their Ill Girl leader, who happens to come from a family with deep ties to elemental Chaos (hence the name), but is likely the kindest and most selfless person in the entire game. "Collecting humanities", by the way, is best done by exterminating vermin in the Lordran sewers, so they might have just as well called themselves "Community Servants" in the first place.
- In Motherly Scootaloo, a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Tumblr comic, apparently Lightning Blitz fits this, as the Ask Discord Hooves crossover shows (see Baby Language).
- In the Housepets! universe, wolves traditionally name themselves. Babylon Garden's resident wolf has half-a-dozen kids who can't wait to name themselves. Among current suggestions are "Deathaxe" and "Space Laser".
Miles: ...We try to put this off as long as possible.
- This trope is named after DMFA 's "Deathbringer", an incredibly cute bubble-gum creature. While she picked out her own name, she has so far demonstrated absolutely no aggression nor offensive capabilities whatsoever. The four characters that know she exists also call her Deebs for short.
- Casey and Andy has the PLANET DEVOURER! However, it does eat Mars. A model of Mars, not the actual planet. Later on, it proves able to chew through Satan's most powerful magical artifact. The Planet Devourer actually can devour anything... it just has to do so one dainty nibble at a time.
- PvP features an adorable kitty cat named Scratch Fury, Destroyer of Worlds. It could be called subverted—Scratch actually wants to conquer the Earth—but he's so easily distracted by cat things that he's ultimately (mostly) harmless.
- Flintlocke vs. The Horde has Bun'kar, the warrior bunny. Being a hunter's pet, it might become Killer Rabbit later, though. While Bun'kar, the warrior bunny, never fights, he and his hunter manage to overpower at least three characters, one of which was significantly stronger. The healer(Doc) remarks "That rabbit was dynamite."
"Please do not nuzzle the instrument of my vengeance."
- When 8-Bit Theater's Light Warriors had Drizzl surrounded and down for the count, Drizzl attempted to summon the "True Guardian" of the cave, which he had bought from Con Man Akbar based on its description as a fierce chimera with claws, fire breath, and potent venom. Drizzl discovers at the worst possible moment that the creature was just a platypus with a makeshift flamethrower strapped to its underbelly.
- Strange variation: there's a song on one of the Homestuck soundtrack albums titled "Walls Covered in Blood." Where the title might imply a murderous rampage, it's actually the leitmotif of moe catgirl Nepeta Leijon, whose bedroom walls are indeed covered in blood because she uses it to draw charts shipping all her friends, and the song itself is a painfully cutesy upbeat Mario Paint track.
- In Mokepon, Elle uses a Diglett named "Gutripper".
- Invoked by June with Leopold's nickname, Spiders, in Princess Chroma. It's not the deadliest name, granted, but this is the name given to a fluffy winged lop-eared magical bunny Mentor Mascot.
- In The Order of the Stick, "Bloodfeast the Extreme-inator" started out as an apt name for a badass Allosaurus, but in the very same strip where he's given a name, he's already been turned into a harmless little lizard.
- In Questionable Content there's an ordinary purple robot named Corpse Witch. Meanwhile her intimidating combat droid employee is named Bubbles. Of course, once you get past their physical appearances, the names aren't quite that unfitting after all. Corpse Witch is a manipulative Smug Snake who's involved in... less than legal ventures; meanwhile, although being a combat droid and former soldier prevents Bubbles from being all that bubbly, she's still pretty nice if you get to know her.
- Usagi-Kaiju is a very realistic stuffed animal rabbit but, as she a mostly called, another name for her would be Deathbringer.
- My Life as a Teenage Robot has Killgore. Name that sounds like something that would rain destruction, but actually just a cute little wind-up toy who insists he's unstoppably evil.
- Planet Sheen: Boh-Rok, a rainbow-colored pony, was thought to be a destructive monster. Sheen manages to remove a nose hair that was bothering Boh-Rok and it turns out that he isn't as evil as the aliens thought, but rather, a cheerful, happy pony.
- Ruby Gloom has the Doom Kitty, an otherwise normal, if intelligent and expressive, black cat.
- Chainsaw from Goof Troop. Despite her dangerous name, she's a mostly harmless cat-sized lapdog with a bow. The worst thing she ever does is chase the neighbors' cat.
- The titular Ferocious Beast in Maggie and the Ferocious Beast is anything but ferocious.
- On Milo Murphy's Law, the title character goes to a dude ranch with his friends, and his horse, "Psycho," immediately starts to go crazy, leading to this exchange:
Zack: Any chance of him getting a calmer horse?Rancher: Well, Psycho there is usually our calmest horse. That's why we named him Psycho—for the irony. We crack ourselves up.
- Bloodhounds are among the gentler dog breeds. They actually got their names because they are hunting dogs with the main purpose of following blood trails.
- The death's-head hawk moth, which has a badass name not only in English but in Latin as well. Acherontia atropos (which does genuinely sound ominous if you know your Greek Mythology) has also a skull motif on his back. But yet it's a butterfly, and it can't even hurt anything. Despite its Real Life reputation as a harbinger of death and evil. All that it does which is harmful that is raiding beehives for honey. And it sounds like a squeaky toy.
- The ominously named Purgatorius was a small mammal that was one of the first species to emerge after the death of the dinosaurs, and the ancestor of the primates.
- Due to the company's Goth aesthetic, many of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab's perfumes have ominous names, although few of them smell particularly menacing. For instance, Shub-Niggurath smells like incense and gingerbread, and Al-Shairan has the demonic reek of spiced oranges with a hint of peach.
- The tiny and adorable pygmy marmosets at Edinburgh Zoo are named 'Terminator' and 'She-Ra'.
- The Slavic name "Dragomir," to English speakers. Despite sounding like it means something about dragons or vampires, it actually means "He who loves peace." Whether individual Dragomirs (Dragomiri?) are this, Fluffies, or anywhere in between is up to them, obviously.
- The caterpillar of moth species Citheronia regalis is so-named "hickory horned devils" because of their spikes, but unlike most spiky/fuzzy caterpillars, these devils' spikes are not that dangerous to humans (as in, not loaded with venom etc). Plus, they grow up into moths, which are usually not nasty insects (although regalis moths are relatively large insects).
- The Eastern Kingbird, known in Latin as Tyrannus tyrannus. What kind of mighty, badass predatory bird could bear that name? It is actually no bigger than a sparrow, which, to boot, looks adorable.
- Vampyroteuthis infernalis translates to the "vampire squid from hell". It's a harmless animal that eats plankton. It's also kinda ugly cute.
- There's a lizard called in Latin Moloch horridus and known in English as "thorny dragon" or "thorny devil". It does look sorta intimidating, as it is covered in nasty spikes, but otherwise it is completely harmless and feeds on ants.
- Drake sounds like a name of a draconic species, but it also means a male duck.
- John Adams had a dog named Satan. He seems to have been a somewhat large but basically friendly dog.
- According to this tumblr post, following the release of Black Panther (2018), a craze started for adopting black cats and naming them after characters from the movie...leading to at least one very sweet cat named "Killmonger".
- Stephen King has a corgi named Molly which — according to his social media posts — he nicknames "the Thing of Evil".