to monsters or man-eating animals is one of the classic perils
that villains and others subject people to.
Sometimes this is a Human Sacrifice
to a demon, dragon, Eldritch Abomination
, or some other monster or beast. These scenarios usually have some poor unfortunate Chained to a Rock
awaiting their doom. Maybe the local religion demands this to be done to Appease the Volcano God
. Maybe the monster wants tribute in the form of people to eat, such as with many dragons. Maybe this is even meant as a punishment, in the case of Daniel in the lion's den from The Bible
or Andromeda from Classical Mythology
Other times, the beast is a Right-Hand Attack Dog
— a pet or other creature that the villain keeps around for some reason, which he uses to dispose of victims, and more than one villain's underling has met their end in this way, usually after they've failed him
or outlived their usefulness
. If a villain tries to do this to the hero, expect the hero to kill the beast or escape in some other fashion. It's also not uncommon for villains fond of feeding people to beasts to meet their end
by being eaten by the beast in turn
, if the hero didn't kill the beast beforehand.
Fantasy villains have all kinds of monsters to choose from, ranging from dragons to giant snakes to giant vermin to demons or something even weirder. Contemporary and pulp villains will often have their victims eaten by tigers or sharks or some other large man-eating carnivore. Sci-fi villains will often have some really freaky alien monster to feed people to.
The Shark Pool
and the Snake Pit
are two quite common forms of this particular trope. So is Fed to Pigs
, although the victim is usually already dead in that case. (Usually.) Also related as Animal Assassin
, a more clandestine way of killing people using animals.
See also Just Desserts
, Eaten Alive
, and Eat Me
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Anime and Manga
- Apostles in Berserk are fond of forcing their subjects to send them people to eat, such as the Baron of Koka Castle and the Count.
- In addition, this is the intended result of sacrificing someone to the Godhand so that one can be reborn as a demon, with the person in question often being Eaten Alive.
- In Fushigi Yuugi, the Priestess is technically a Virgin Sacrifice for the Beast God she summons. It also functions as a Secret Test of Character; if she uses her wishes for the good of others over herself and possesses enough strength of will, she can escape having her soul eaten. Out of the four priestesses, two (Miaka and Suzuno) escape, since both are too plucky to be devored. The third (Takiko) was dying already and her strong will was paire with lots of self-hate, so Genbu started to eat her soul and her dad mercy killed her. The fourth (Yui) is fully devoured due to having been first broken and then manipulated by Nakago, but Miaka uses one of her wishes to bring her Back from the Dead.
- Also, there was a snow-demon in the novel that explains Nuriko's backstory that demanded a more conventional Virgin Sacrifice from the village nearby. Nuriko befriends the girl about to be sacrificed, Byakuren, and attempts to save her; however, she ends up being eaten in an Heroic Sacrifice to protect Nuriko himself.
Films — Animated
- Ratigan feeds a hapless lackey to his pet cat Felicia in The Great Mouse Detective. Weird, because the professor himself is a rodent. (Or possibly fitting, to emphasize his cruelty, and badassery - a rat training a cat to be completely loyal is a pretty impressive thing.)
- The Rescuers Down Under: Mcleach tries to feed Cody to some crocodiles.
- In Peter Pan: Return to Neverland, Captain Hook is actually revealed to have a pet octopus in which he will often feed unsuspecting pirates to if they disobey him. However, near the end of the film, said octopus eventually develops an obsession of eating Captain Hook as well, and as a result he actually starts to frighten the pirate by constanly bobbing its eyes upside down like you-know-who.
- In The Thief and the Cobbler, One-Eye feeds Zigzag to his crocodiles. Zigzag manages to tame them, which impresses One-Eye enough to accept his help. Later, the crocodiles turn on him and eat him.
- When Killer disappoints Carface one too many times in All Dogs Go to Heaven, he's lowered into a pool of pirahna.
- In Team America: World Police, Kim Jong-il releases his ferocious black panthers (played by adorable black kittens) on two Team America members. He also has a Shark Pool (the sharks are, in this case, played by live-action dogfish).
Films — Live-Action
- Star Wars
- Jabba the Hutt was quite fond of feeding people to a Rancor, including Twi'lek slave dancer Oola in a notorious Kick the Dog moment. He isn't quite so successful in his attempt to do the same to Luke. (One story in Tales from Jabba's Palace claims that Jabba's rancor was given to him by a Jawa Sandcrawler captain named Tteel Kkak (after getting it from a crashed merchant ship) who was trying to suck up to Jabba; he was the first victim Jabba fed to it.)
- And once he's short one Rancor, he tries it again with the Sarlacc.
- In one Expanded Universe story, Jabba's father Zorba tried to throw Leia to the Sarlacc, seeking revenge for his son's death; however, a fight broke out that ended with him thrown to the creature. Zorba was saved, however (though humiliated even more) when he made the beast sick and it vomited him out.
- The Geonosians actually did this with an Acklay (a semi-aquatic lobster-praying mantis hybrid), a Nexu (a porcupine-tiger hybrid with four eyes and two tails), and a Reek (a minotaurlike monster with three horns on its head).
- James Bond villains like to use Shark Pools to get rid of people. This trope is so often used by James Bond parodies it's one of the things thought to happen in Bond movies a lot more often than it actually does.
- In the first Superman movie, Lex Luthor keeps a pit with some vicious beasts (that are never seen) in his lair. After his plan to destroy California fails, his Perky Female Minion is almost thrown to them (she being the one who helped Superman and enabled him to stop the missiles) but fortunately for her, Superman shows up in time.
- Austin Powers:
- In International Man of Mystery, in an Shout-Out to Live and Let Die, Dr. Evil tries to feed Austin and Vanessa to ill-tempered mutant sea bass using an unnecessarily slow dipping mechanism (he really wanted Sharks with Frickin' Laser Beams on their heads).
- In Goldmember, Dr. Evil finally does get his Sharks with Frickin' Laser Beams on their heads and Mr. Roboto is later fed to the sharks for his failure. However, a deleted scene shows that everyone in the vicinity, even Dr. Evil himself, couldn't hold their lunch over that scene.
- Conan's first dungeon crawl in Conan the Barbarian (1982) ends with him killing a big-ass snake that was supposed to eat a girl that the snake cult was going to sacrifice.
- Cave Dwellers totally rips off the abovementioned scene from Conan by having Ator kill a velour snake puppet after a whole bunch of girls are thrown to it.
- Shao Kahn disposes of Jade this way for failing to kill the heroes in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, feeding her to a monster carving in a wall (and for extra Narm points, the carving gives out a great big burp after it's done with her).
- In Dragonslayer, the king feeds virgins to the title dragon every year in order to appease it so it will leave his lands alone. The plot kicks off when Elspeth, the king's daughter, ends up on the menu.
- M. Bison in the film of Street Fighter attempts to do this, proclaiming his idea to the would-be victims in (OF COURSE!) wonderfully hammy fashion. Blanka, the "beast" in question, has other ideas.
- The climax of The Lair of the White Worm invokes this trope as a woman is set up as a Virgin Sacrifice to an Eldritch Abomination by a Lesbian Vampire reptilian.
- Humorously averted in Dragonheart, in which con-man knight Bowen attempts to rid himself of a nusiance rabble-rouser by suggesting to her village that dragons can be placated with virgin sacrifices. His dragon partner finds the idea ridiculous, and even expresses disgust at the idea of eating a human. Except when he must chew in self-defense (but he doesn't swallow).
- In the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie, the vogons attempt to execute Trillian by feeding her to the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.
- Following the Christian Martyrology claims (see below), many oldschool films set in Ancient Rome include representations of Christians condemned to this. The film version of Quo Vadis has a bunch of Christian kids forced to put on sheep skins before they had a hungry lion released on them; it was such a Kick the Dog moment that the spectators were horrified (and mind you, these were all pagans who hated Christianity), and when Gentle Giant Ursui pulled a Big Damn Heroes for them, the audience pleaded with Nero to give Ursus a thumbs-up.
- Clash of the Titans is a movie very loosely based on the myth of Perseus (see Mythology, below). In this version, Hera orders Andromeda left to the Kraken, the last surviving Titan, threatening to order it to destroy Joppa if her mother does not comply.
- In Robert E. Howard's "The Scarlet Citadel," Tsotha imprisons Conan the Barbarian in the dungeons below the title citadel, with the intent of having him be eaten by Satha, another big-ass snake. The snake ends up killing a slave of Tsotha's who was planning to kill Conan in revenge for his brother's death during Conan's pirate days, when he was called Amra.
- Has happened to Alex Rider at least once in his career.
- James Bond
- In Live and Let Die, Bond's friend and ally Felix Leiter is caught snooping around the villains' warehouse and partially fed to a shark (the basis for his maiming in the film Licence to Kill, including the "He disagreed with something that ate him" note). Later, Bond and Solitaire are to be dragged through a reef until their blood attracts sharks to eat them (this was used in For Your Eyes Only).
- In Brokenclaw, the eponymous Brokenlaw Lee literally feeds people who have disappointed him to the wolves that he keeps in his home.
- In the Harry Potter books, Voldemort generally feeds his victims to his snake, Nagini, although they're usually (if not always) dead first.
- Well of course they're usually dead. He doesn't want them hurting his snake by struggling, after all. Especially since the snake is one of his many Horcruxes.
- Animorphs had a unique variant of this. A Yeerk who had displeased the Visser one too many times was fed to a natural Yeerk predator nicknamed the Yeerkbane. I believe Vanarx was the actual name. It enveloped the host's head with its mouth and sucked the Yeerk right out of the host's head. Yikes.
- He also enjoys feeding them to the Taxxons as well.
- Septimus Heap: Twice with Magogs, without success:
- Done with Marcia Overstrand by DomDaniel.
- Tried with Jenna Heap by Simon Heap.
- In the short story 'Sandkings' by George R. R. Martin the main character gets into the habit of feeding people to his new pets, the eponymous insect-like alien monsters.
- Notably, this short story was later (very) loosely adapted into the pilot episode of the 1995 relaunch of The Outer Limits TV series.
- The first book of Galaxy of Fear has the planet itself killing and consuming people so quickly that they don't suffer. The heroes manage to piss off the Enzeen enough that they carried them to the "heart" of D'vouran, where being eaten would be far slower and more painful.
- In the second book the Big Bad tells his lackey to listen carefully or be fed to his battle dogs.
- As the Historical Fiction book Fabiola by Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman was set in the middle of Diocletian's persecution of Christians, it happens more than once. The most noticeable victim is [[spoiler: the local Nice Guy and Princely Young Man Pancratius (aka Saint Pancras), who's given a Slashed Throat by a black panther. Despite how Pancras's legend says he was decapitated.
- Thieves World short story "Blood Brothers" by Joe Haldeman. The barkeep One-Thumb buys a block of krrf (an expensive drug) from a man and slips him a paralyzing drug. He then cuts up the man's body while he's helpless and feeds him to his dogs. He killed him to avoid having to pay him and because the man was a relative of the magistrate who ordered One-Thimb's thumb cut off.
- In Pact, Blake Thorburn employs this type of Death Trap as a method of keeping his adversary Laird Behaim contained after he's captured him. Laird is placed within a set of three magic circles, with each increasing in complexity and strength, and Blake sets loose a demonic imp between the first and second. The first circle is small enough that Laird can barely sit down, and certainly cannot afford to fall asleep, as he might unconsciously break the extremely fragile circle and expose himself to the imp.
Live Action TV
- One episode of Merlin revolves around an outlaw feeding various people to a Wildren (basically, a giant mole with tusks.)
- Batman had a couple of these.
- During the Joker's "Zodiac Crimes" 3-parter, he fed our heroes to a giant clam. The cliffhanger has Robin in the clam's mouth.
- King Tut attempted to feed Robin to his crocodiles, but the walkway Robin was on retracted so slowly that Batman was able to arrive and save him.
- In the Doctor Who episode "The Beast Below", citizens who protest using the star whale to keep the ship/country afloat and children who perform poorly in school are fed to the titular beast. It doesn't eat the children, though.
Religion and Mythology
- Classical Mythology had Andromeda Chained to a Rock to be eaten by the sea-monster-goddess Ceto as punishment for her mother's boastfulness about Andromeda's beauty being greater than that of the Nereids (who got pissed and complained to Poseidon, one of the many Jerkass Gods of the pantheon). She's rescued by Perseus, who turns Ceto to stone with the head of her daughter, Medusa.
- Saint George is famous for slaying a dragon that did have a taste for villagers, in particular young women.
- Older Than Feudalism: The Bible has the story of Daniel, who was thrown into a lion's den due to a law that some princes had tricked King Darius, who liked Daniel, into passing because they were jealous of his faith and hard work. Daniel, who has always been faithful to the Lord, was protected by one of God's angels, who shut the mouths of the lions. When the king learned that Daniel was still alive after spending the entire night in the den, he had Daniel taken out of the lion's den and the princes and their families thrown in instead, where they promptly got eaten by the lions.
- Christians in Roman times were supposedly fed to lions in the arena as well. At least, that's the excuse one Pope used for declaring the Colosseum a monument to martyrs to protect it from commercial development. The historical truth of that claim is more murky.
- Damnatio ad bestias was the usual Roman punishment of particularly vicious murderers and those convicted from high treason.
- According to legend, St. Margaret was sentenced to be fed to a dragon. Large constrictor snakes, such as African rock python, are known to be able to smother and devour large prey - occassionally children and youngsters. They also often were referred as "dragons". The Romans knew the rock python, and if Margaret was a petite lady and the snake had been a large specimen, the legend may well be plausible.
- The Christianizing King of Norway, Olaf Tryggvason, is said to have executed a pagan Viking chief, Raud the Strong, by having a viper stuffed down his throat. (Or should that be labelled, "Had the Beast Fed to Him"?)
- In Japanese Mythology, the Yamata no Orochi was an eight-headed and eight-tailed monster that forced a pair of earthly deities to hand over one of their daughters to be devoured by the beast every year. Their eighth and final daughter, Princess Kushinada, was saved from this fate by the storm god Susano-o, who slew the beast by impersonating her, getting it drunk on eight large bowls of sake, and then chopping off each of its eight heads.
- Dungeons & Dragons module Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits. Lolth disposes of prisoners by placing them in a small dimension where they're hunted and eaten by giant spiders.
- Ryu Ga Gotoku 2 has Sengoku trying to feed Kiryu Kazuma to his two pet tigers after Kazuma tears through his men to get Haruka back. Kazuma being a consummate badass, however, he ends up killing both of them.
- In The Sims Medieval, the Pit of Judgment is home to a giant tentacled beast, who eats those sentenced to death.
- Players of Dwarf Fortress frequently build pits containing large and vile-tempered captured creatures. Sometimes these are trained, sometimes they're not. Crocodiles, zombies, wolves...people even build giant cave spider pits, and harvest the web left after a successful termination.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Ganondorf, in his crossing of the Moral Event Horizon, tries to have all the Gorons fed to the great lava dragon Volvagia as an example of what happens to those who defy him.
- In Drakensang 2: The River of Time, the vile commander of Thurstone Fortress Stitus Bloomfold (thinks of a midget version of Dom De Luise) has a taste for rare pets, which he feeds with hapless prisoners from time to time. Said critters include war hounds, wild boars, wolves and a bear. Later he tries to feed the party to his favourite beastie, a Newt Kraken, but ends up suffering a Karmic Death instead, as Forgrimm lampshades.
- Umbria/Zaedalkaah of Our Little Adventure plans to inflict an elaborate version of it on some minion who displeased her:
I'll kill you, grind you up, feed you to starving children, then feed those starving kids to other starving kids to make a race of SUPER starving kids, which I will then eat...
- The Joker threatens to throw people to his hyenas in Batman: The Animated Series, though whether or not he actually follows through on this threat is rather unclear.
- In at least one case ("The Man Who Killed Batman"), he shoves a minion to the hyenas for "asking stupid questions". However, the trope is toned down; the minion shows up later with a just a few bandages.
- Phineas & Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension begins mid-way, with P&F seemingly about to meet this fate.
- In The Pirates of Dark Water, Bloth has a vicious monster called the Constrictus he keeps in a pool of water in his ship. Failing to fulfil his tasks (Or being someone he doesn't like) is a good way to get dumped into it. The only survivors of this fate are Ren and Konk, and the latter lost his leg doing so.
- The snake-obsessed Kobra organization in Batman Beyond uses a variant of this. Any member who fails their duties, or anyone else who knows too much about their operations, is dropped into a pit of venomous snakes where they are presumably bitten to death. One member actually commits suicide by leaping in to avoid capture after believing he has exposed Batman's true identity to rest of the organization, gloating to the hero about how he'll be regarded as a martyr to the organization before doing so. They likely actually regarded him as a complete idiot; when he read a boy's mind using a computer to get an image of Terry's face, the kid replaced it with that of an action hero from a cartoon that he admired, because that's how he envisioned Batman.
- Chairface Chippendale in The Tick tries to feed the heroes to his pit of man-eating alligators.
- On Adventure Time, a gang of thugs throw Finn and Jake to a pig to be eaten. The pig is hardly vicious, though, and seems to only want to eat them because it's his job.
- Used as a threat in The Legend of Korra... by Korra. She probably wouldn't have actually fed the judge who railroaded her father to her polar bear dog as an afternoon snack, but he sure seemed convinced that she would! (Sticking his head in the beast's mouth might have had something to do with that)
- In the first "Anthology of Interest" episode of Futurama which asks the question "What if Leela was more impulsive?" she actually murders every member of the cast (except Fry, who she seduces) starting with Farnsworth, who she throws to his man-eating anteaters.
- Birdman. In the episode "Hannibal the Hunter", Hannibal trapped Birdman in a net and arranged for him to be dropped into a pit with two lions in it so they could eat him.
- In the Courage the Cowardly Dog episode "Courage in the Big Stinkin' City", Bushwick is a giant, anthropomorphic roach who kills people by feeding them to... something. (The monster is hidden behind a door and never actually seen in the episode.)
- Done a few times in The Smurfs:
- In the episode "A Loss Of Smurf", Vanity as a Wartmonger accidentally wakes up the Creepodile in the Pussywillow Hollow swamp region, and Wartmonger legends say that it won't rest until it eats a king, so King Bullrush upon finding out who woke the creature up made Vanity king so that the beast will go after Vanity instead. The Smurflings help rescue Vanity by making the Creepodile feast on a gourd dressed up in royal clothes instead.
- In the Season 9 episode "Gnoman Holiday", Julius Geezer has his victims be thrown into the coliseum to deal with the Felions.
- 'Space Ghost'' episode "Clutches of the Creature King". After the title villain captures Space Ghost he puts him in an arena and forces him to fight all of the Creature King's creatures without his power bands.
- The Ancient Romans loved this trope. Non-citizen Romans who had committed a heinous crime and sentenced to death, werer executed this way in the Gladiator Games. This method was known as damnatio ad bestias and the condemned was sent to arena unarmed, facing various predatory animals. such as lions, crocodiles, panthers, giant snakes or tigers.