Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Hook's time has just run out.

"Exit, pursued by a bear."
— Stage direction for The Winter's Tale

When the bad guy is finished off by a large, vicious animal.

This is a method to keep the hero's hands clean while still dispatching the villain. The difference is that that trope is more removing an obstacle without losing karma for the heroes. Often, the death happens entirely off screen, with the villain's gruesome mauling being implied instead of shown, though sometimes you will hear sounds or see a silhouette of the carnage. If the work doesn't allow death, or if killing simply goes against the tone of the story, they may simply be chased away or non-fatally mauled by the beast. Of course in such cases, Fridge Logic may set in about their actual odds of escape/survival.

This can also be used to easily bring the villain Back from the Dead, since really, did you think a mere bear would stop him?

Despite mostly dealing with death, this trope can be used in a non-lethal (and comedic) way, being the final part of a villain's Humiliation Conga, where following their defeat by the hero, they are forced to run for their lives while being chased by an animal over the horizon and out of sight, possibly never to be seen again.

Though it doesn't have to be a bear, these Bears Are Bad News. If it's another creature rather than an outright villain that gets chased away by the bear, it's because there's Always a Bigger Fish. If the heroes called the bear here themselves, then it's Summon Bigger Fish. If it was the villain's own mistreated pet doing the mauling, that's a case of The Dog Bites Back. The hapless character may also simply take a fall into the Shark Pool or the Snake Pit.

Inverse of Villain Exit Stage Left. Compare We Will Meet Again, and see also Just Desserts. May invoke Offscreen Inertia.

Related to Disney Villain Death, which serves a similar 'kill the villain without the hero doing it' purpose. If the hero (or villain) does do it directly, that may be Fed to the Beast.

As this is an Ending Trope, there may be spoilers ahead. Be warned.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Ms. Goldenweek in the manga of One Piece was last seen being pounced on by a giant riding duck and not seen again until about 250 chapters later in a mini-arc.
  • In Princess Mononoke, Eboshi is finally taken out by the decapitated head of the giant wolf spirit she just fatally shot. While she survives having her entire arm bitten off, she won't be using any of the guns her factory produced again.
  • This is implied at the conclusion of the Sherlock Hound episode, "The Adventure of the Three Students". Moriarty and his men flee across Loch Ness, only for a familiar shape to appear under the water. This is lampshaded when Moriarty senses that they're being followed.

    Comic Books 
  • The graphic novel La Débauche. The fact that it is set in a zoo provides a convenient tiger.
  • Doctor Doom once got assaulted by his own attack dogs, because he got in the way of a fox and them, long long long story, because Doom was fighting a Batman analogue he'd lost part of his armor, so he instead fell off a cliff.

    Film - Animated 

    Film - Live-Action 
  • The literal phrase was used by the young high school gang when they left in The World's End, but morphed into "Let's Boo Boo!"
  • In the Nicolas Cage/Samuel L. Jackson film Amos And Andrew, the bloodhounds from earlier in the movie go chasing after the police chief near the end.
  • In The Naked Gun 2 1/2, Robert Goulet's character survives a fall from a building unscathed, only to be mauled by a lion seconds later as a result of Frank accidentally letting some animals escape from the zoo earlier in the film.
  • The climax from Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls seems to imply the villain is not so much pursued by the gorilla as pursued by it.
  • Happens to a minor Villain in Trading Places.
  • Galaxy Quest: Fred uses the transporter to bring the rock monster on board the ship to attack Serras' minions.
  • Jurassic Park:
    • The first film ended with the raptors getting eaten by the T. rex from earlier in the movie.
    • The main villain in the sequel is ultimately devoured by a baby T. rex.
    • Indominus Rex in Jurassic World is finished off by the Mosasaurus dragging her into its tank, and Hoskins is cornered and devoured by Delta the Velociraptor.
  • Mola Ram, the villain of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, falls into a river full of crocodiles and gets torn to bits.
  • In Beetlejuice, Betelgeuse is apparently swallowed by a huge sandworm. Doesn't kill him (he's immortal), but it does prevent him from returning to Earth at any time in the near future.
  • Shaft knockoff A Low Down Dirty Shame has one mook being cornered & mauled by a pair of Rottweilers that the protagonist sics on him.
  • At the end of City of Ember, Mayor Cole is eaten by a giant mole.
  • Leopold, resident Jerkass and Butt Monkey is eventually chased down by Harry the tiger near the end of The World's Greatest Athlete.
  • In Skyfall, one of the Elite Mooks threatening Bond in the casino is taken down by a Komodo dragon
  • Lon Chaney's character in He Who Gets Slapped is a circus clown. He takes revenge on his enemies by releasing a hungry lion, who proceeds to eat both of the bad guys.
  • Despite the fact that the title character killed the crocodile between the original story and Hook, it still got him in the end.

  • The loathsome Ser Amory from A Song of Ice and Fire meets his end when his captors throw him, naked and unarmed, into a pit with a starving bear.
  • In The Druid of Shannara, Psycho for Hire Pe Ell is killed by the Koden, a gigantic bear. It's implied to have been set up by the King of the Silver River, as revenge for the death of his daughter. In High Druid of Shannara, the Shapeshifting Moric is last seen lying on the ground as an actual Dragon approaches it. Meta-irony much?
  • Happens in the third book of C. S. Lewis' "The Space Trilogy" That Hideous Strength, with Mr Bultitude, an actual bear.
  • The Judge Dee story The Haunted Monastery ends like this, involving an actual bear. After the man behind several murders of women affably points out that he is untouchable due to the lack of evidence and his connections in the Imperial Court, Dee agrees with his assessment, then lures him into a courtyard being used to exercise a savage bear owned by a visiting theatre troupe, that can only be controlled by his master. Dee says he will leave the villain's fate in the hands of Heaven. If the bear's owner hears his screams and comes in time to rescue him...well, he doesn't.
  • In Kenneth Oppel's novel Airborn, Szpirglas, the infamous Sky Pirate, is killed, not by the main character, Matt Cruse, but by a pride of the huge, flying, predatory felines aptly named 'Cloud Cats'. Interestingly, despite pursuing some of the protagonists, the Cloud Cats never seriously injured any of the "Good Guys".
  • The villainous bandit Dorath is torn apart by wolves just as he's about to "remove the charms" of the princess Eilonwy in the Chronicles of Prydain.
  • In the Doc Savage story Fortress of Solitude, the escaping John Sunlight is followed to a point where his tracks meet those of a polar bear next to an open lead in the ice. Since there's a lot of blood and no tracks leading away, they draw the obvious (and incorrect) conclusion.
  • The ghost of Shakespeare himself appears and invokes this trope in Grailblazers. As a literal ghost writer for the British soap Coronation Street, he ends one scene in his script with "Exit Ken Barlow, pursued by a bear."
  • At the end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Umbridge is captured and carried away by a herd of centaurs. Dumbledore somehow persuades them to let her go between chapters, and she turns up in the hospital wing relatively unharmed, though she jumps if someone mimics the sound of hooves. (What exactly happened to her while in their custody is never revealed, though the usual suspects put forward their own theories.) When she tries to sneak out of the castle, Peeves catches on and she ends up exiting, Pursued by a Poltergeist with a Walking Stick.
  • At the end of Peter and the Sword of Mercy, O'Neal and Nerezza are eaten by the giant crocodile Mr. Grin.
  • In the Sister Mary Helen mystery Death of an Angel, the B plot covers an alumna's plan to murder her domeineering, abusive mother. Her plan for disposing of the body is to underfeed her mother's standard poodles, and then set them on the dead body so that there will be nothing to implicate her. However, in the confrontation, Mama injures her face. Then the rapist-murderer from the A plot invades the house, and then the two nuns who are the amateur sleuths in the series arrive, as do the police. The rapist is stopped but then dogs come from the basement and smell the blood on Angelica's face and attack her. Inspector Gallegher shoots them dead, but Angelica is mortally wounded and succumbs to her injuries the next morning.
  • In The Cat Who Said Cheese, an abusive ex-husband tracks his ex-wife to Moose County, using the fact that back in the navy he saved a shipmate's life (said shipmate still suffered brain damag)e as leverage to coerce the local, now a beekeeper into becoming an accessory to the bombing of said frightened ex's hotel room. When he comes back to try and cover his tracks and finish the job—the intended target was out and about but someone else died—the beekeeper inadvertently gives him a wool blanket and the bees swarm the murderer, who is found dead the next morning.
  • As stated above, General Woundwort at the climax of Watership Down, though it was less "exit pursued by a dog" than "exit preparing to go down fighting while his minions run like hell".
  • In Mariel of Redwall, Gabool falls into the pit where he keeps his pet scorpion.
  • The Reynard Cycle: This happens to an entire army in The Baron of Maleperduys, though replace "bear" with "terrifying wolf monsters."
  • In the Live and Let Die novel, Mr. Big tries to feed James Bond and Solitaire to sharks and barracudas, by dragging them behind his boat. However, the bomb Bond had planted in the boat detonates, and Mr. Big falls in the water, to be eaten by the sharks and barracudas himself.
  • Sherlock Holmes has some examples, including The Adventure Of The Speckled Band, Silver Blaze, and The Lion's Mane.
  • Joe Camber's death in Stephen King's Cujo fits this trope (he is rather villainous in the novel).
  • Subverted in the Sharpe series: Sharpe leaves his enemy Obadiah Hakeswill to be killed by beasts several times, but it never works. The man eating tigers were recently fed, the executioner elephant didn't get the right command, etc. This all feeds Hakeswill's conviction that he cannot die.
  • In The Underneath, Cruella to Animals Gar Face gets eaten by an alligator at the end.

    Live Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In "The Zeppo", the villain is making a speech about how he will be coming back to seek revenge, when he opens a door on Werewolf Oz. He is not seen again, and in the next scene Human Oz remarks that he feels full for some reason.
    • In "The Pack", the evil zookeeper ends up being eaten by hyenas after Buffy hurls him into the hyena pit. Knowing her, she probably didn't mean for him to end up in the pit, but she doesn't shed any tears about it later.
  • The Master and The Rani end one episode of Doctor Who trapped in a malfunctioning TARDIS with a rapidly-growing T. Rex bearing down on them. They come back later with no explanation, natch.
  • In the Merlin episode "Lancelot and Guinevere", Hengist is trapped in the widderen's cage and eaten alive before he can pursue the main characters.
  • Helen Cutter's death in Primeval is between this and a Shut Up, Hannibal!. Her Breaking Speech to Danny is rudely interrupted by a velociraptor which knocks her over a cliff.
  • In the Good Eats episode about dried fruit, Alton offers his homemade trail mix to two hikers, then warns them to run. The hikers are chased off by a guy in a bear suit.

  • The Older Than Steam Trope Namer is Antigonus from William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. Though not truly the villain, he is dispatched in this manner. (And unlike most of the other examples on this page, the bear literally comes out of nowhere just for this scene.)note 
    • A stage show by Ishmael Skyes, playing one of Shakespeare's actors, narrated an incident where he couldn't see out of the bear costume, leading to the memorable line:
    Exit a bear, led by Antigonus.
  • Lucius Malfoy gets attacked by Werewolf!Lupin and dragged into the Forbidden Forest in A Very Potter Sequel.
  • The crocodile finally gets Hook in the climactic scene of Peter Pan.
  • Nan, Sweetheart, and Simon try to invoke this with Kyle in Lauren Gunderson's aptly named play Exit, Pursued by a Bear. Ultimately subverted.

    Video Games 
  • In Turok: Evolution, Tal Set defeats Bruckner but will not kill him because he "does not deserve a warrior's death." The compsognathus eat him instead.
  • Mr. Kincaid in Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia is pursued by a Wailord.
  • During the credits of Mega Man 9, you see what happened to the 8 Robot Master bosses; the Mighty Glacier Concrete Man is seen chasing Dr. Wily. Whether his programming would allow him to actually hurt the weak, human man remains to be seen.
  • In Paper Mario, Chapter 2's boss, Tutankoopa, exits pursued by his pet Chain Chomp. He's still being chased by them in the ending parade.
  • An In-Universe example can be found in a fairy tale book in Drakensang: in the tale, a jerkass kraken keeps all the treasure from a sunken ship for himself, and won't share it with his friends. Later, a massive Water Dragon arrives (enticed by the Kraken's treasure) and chase him "so far away that noone ever saw him again".
  • At the climax of Soma, after potentially poisoning the WAU and attempting to murder Simon, Johan Ross is bloodily devoured by the Leviathan, who then chases Simon out of the area. Like most things in the game, however, how much Johan qualifies as a villain depends on your interpretation of his actions and goal.

    Western Animation 

    Web Original