In Real Life
, practitioners of pest control are usually like any professional who practices a job, but such is not the case in fiction. Perhaps it is the sinister nature of the job, or the fact that it's not a job conducive to making friendships, but there's something in the image of the exterminator that has turned it from quirky to living Cthulhu of the pests
Therefore, exterminators in fiction are often portrayed as sadistic or unstable individuals who enjoy killing animals. They might give an Evil Laugh
while fumigating a house for insects, or drive around in a truck with a giant sculpture of a dead bug on top. In short, they're the slightly more eccentric and benign version of the Egomaniac Hunter
. They're usually Played for Laughs
, because insects and rats aren't typically considered "cute"
and therefore the idea of them being killed in over-the-top ways is still considered funny.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- The Exterminators is a Vertigo comic book with an entire cast of eccentric exterminators.
- Seth in American History X. The quirk is that he's a Neo-Nazi. While driving his exterminator car he even sings along with a song on the radio that is so profoundly racist that it need not be repeated here.
- John Goodman's character Delbert McClintock in Arachnophobia has various quirks, but seems like a nice guy. He also has a bit of an inflated opinion of himself, but he does come in handy when he kills most of the drone spiders at the end.
- Gnaw: Food of the Gods II gives us two: Jacques and Louis from Rat-A-Tak Pest Control. Complete with their own theme music.
- The Ghostbusters franchise is basically the story of a group of Eccentric Exterminators. There are only two differences: A) they are the first and only exterminators in the world for the kind of pests they handle, and B) these pests can (and do eventually) get... out of hand.
- The first Men in Black movie gives us Ed, who is a pretty normal fella (or as normal as someone played by Vincent D'Onofrio can be...) until a giant bug from outer space uses his body as disguise and steals an exterminator's van, giving us quite a bit of this vibe.
- Ceasar from MouseHunt, played by Christopher Walken of all people. He has an almost supernatural intuition to pests, and maintains an overly dramatic log report about his work. Eventually he gets Driven to Madness by the mouse he's trying to catch.
- The protagonist from Naked Lunch, making this Truth in Television in the case of William S. Burroughs. He is chronically addicted to the bug powder he uses in his line of work as a poor man's drug, and even gets his wife hooked on to the stuff.
- The men who get stuck killing rats in Stephen King's Night Crew.
- Any rat catcher in the Discworld novels so far. And it seems the job is The Verse equivalent to a Red Shirt by the way, unless you're a gnome of course. And sometimes it's even better than Red Shirt. At least one of these guys upon dying was greeted with "Squeak!" and... reincarnated. No prize for guessing into what exactly.
- In the Dexter season five episode "Hello, Bandit" the titular Dexter tracks down an exterminator who is also a serial killer.
- Little Richard plays one in a episode of Martin
- Reality TV example: A&E's Billy The Exterminator. Besides dressing in goth clothing as a substitute for more practical protection, he is perpetually excited about pretty much everything.
- In The X-Files episode "War of the Coprophages", a cockroach exterminator opens the episode with a heartfelt ode to roaches before finishing it with "But to them, we humans are gods and should act accordingly" and stomping a particularly unlucky specimen on the floor. It doesn't end well for him.
- Mr. Lance in the Goosebumps episode "Awesome Ants" is way too into his work, hunting bugs with steely determination and gleeful enjoyment, admiring the ants for their craftiness. He calls the protagonist a liar for claiming the ants from his ant farm grew to 3 inches, larger than any real life ants. Subverted at the end when everything turns out to be a dream, and giant ants rule the Earth. Mr. Lance reflects how things might have been different for humans, and warns the protagonist not to let the ants know that he dreamed that it was Mr. Lance's job to kill them.
- Vasily Fet of The Strain works for the NYC Health Department, and treats his job with a swagger-and-badge attitude more befitting a homicide detective in a 90s action movie. Fittingly, when the vampire apocalypse begins, that turns out to be an apt description.