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Great White Hunter

The heroic counterpart to the Egomaniac Hunter and the Evil Poacher, the Great White Hunter is a heroic big game hunter. He is most likely a Gentleman Adventurer, but he could also be an earthier type who leads safaris for a living. Either way, he will be an expert tracker, a crack shot, and skilled at wilderness survival.

Deliberate Values Dissonance might come up if the story is trying to impart An Aesop about respecting the lives of wild animals. Often, however, this character does admire animals even as he kills them, considering them a Worthy Opponent of sorts.

The Great White Hunter is something of a Dead Horse Trope. When he still appears, it will either be in a period piece or he will be leading expeditions to capture animals alive. May wear an Adventurer Outfit.

Despite his title, not always white... and not always all that great, either.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Congo Bill in The DCU (who later gained the ability to swap his mind with that of a giant golden gorilla because Everything's Better with Monkeys).
    • Congo Bill was also featured in a 15 chapter movie serial in 1948.
  • In Jon Sable, Freelance, Jon showed aspects of this trope, working as a safari guide and game warden before his Roaring Rampage of Revenge turned him into a mercenary.
  • There's also a DC hero called B'wana Beast (a white guy granted mystical powers by a magic helmet and a special potion). His successor, Freedom Beast, might count...except he's black...
  • Ulysses Bloodstone and (to a lesser extent) his daughter Elsa, in the Marvel Universe, although they usually restricted their hunting to monsters.
  • In The DCU, Paul Kirk was one of these before he adopted the superheroic identity of the Manhunter.
  • Tintin in Tintin in the Congo killed a rhinoceros by blowing it up with dynamite after bullets didn't work. This and his earlier senseless killing of a monkey are especially jarring in light of his later kindness to animals in The Black Island and Tintin in Tibet. A Swedish translator made Herge redraw his work to spare the rhinoceros.
  • Allan Quatermain (see Literature below) is one of the central characters in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
  • Johnny Orchid, a Great White Hunter character created by J.T. Edson, whose adventures appeared in the British comic The Victor.
  • Secret Six reveals that Catman's father was one of these. He was also an abusive asshole who believed that A Real Man Is a Killer to the point that he forced his son to kill his mother.
  • Bob Reynolds, boyfriend of Sheena, Queen of the Jungle was supposed to be this, but he spent most of his time as a Distressed Dude.

    Film 
  • Similarly to the Freedom Beast example above, in the movie adaptation of Congo, Captain Munro Kelly introduces himself to the team with the line "I'm your Great White Hunter for this trip, though I happen to be black."
    • This is, of course, because the book Munroe was a more-or-less straight example, who the movie then made black in order to add diversity to the cast.
      • In an interview, the director claimed he cast Ernie Hudson as the hunter because he disliked this trope.
      • In the book, Munro was less a Great White Hunter and more along the lines of all the other white mercenaries running around in Africa at the time of writing. Also, wasn't he half Indian?
  • Two Brothers has Aidan McRory, a big game hunter who has made himself famous by portraying himself as a Great White Hunter in books that he has written about his hunts.
  • Sean Mercer (John Wayne) in the movie Hatari.
  • Subverted by Colonel Brock in the horror/comedy Alligator; he wears a safari suit and pith-helmet even though the film is set in Chicago.
  • Charles Remmington (Michael Douglas) from the movie The Ghost and the Darkness. Although Colonel John Henry Patterson (Val Kilmer) also ends up hunting the lions, he is not specifically an example of this trope but is instead forced into the role.
  • Mick "Crocodile" Dundee
  • Parodied with Bill Boosey (Sid James) in Carry On Up the Jungle.
  • Jurassic Park:
    • Muldoon in Jurassic Park is about as close as you'll get to this trope being played straight in the modern day. He was technically a game warden, though, but the look and the 'tude were there; close enough. Muldoon was really something of a subversion in that he leaned more toward the anti-heroic end of the scale. He is not portrayed in a particularly romantic manner, and is in fact an embittered, highly cynical man who hates the raptors and wishes he could kill them all - and considering what happens throughout the course of the film, it's hard to blame him.
      • In the novel, he's actually consistently right, just constantly hamstrung by Hammond. He wanted multiple gas-powered jeeps, wanted to kill and dissect one of each kind of dinosaur so they could be made safe for the tourists - a reasonable request, considering the dilophosauri could spit acid, and requested a large amount of high-caliber weaponry. He got two gas-powered jeeps (the rest were electric), one of which Nedry stole, was not allowed to harm the animals, and was denied the weaponry that might have saved lives on the island. Luckily, he's a total badass anyway, and Hammond gets eaten by a bunch of Compys. Also, unlike in the film, he survives in the novel.
    • Roland Tembo in The Lost World: Jurassic Park is even closer, and has made his goal to turn over captured dinos to the Big Bad in exchange for getting to hunt a bull male T. rex.
  • John Wilson (Clint Eastwood) in White Hunter, Black Heart.
  • Parodied in the Abbott and Costello film Africa Screams.
  • Victor Marswell (Clark Gable) in Mogambo, although he usually doesn't kill the animals, he captures them to sell to circuses and zoos.
  • Sidestepped by Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery) in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. He has all the characteristics, but Connery plays him as a very world weary man, in a company that only just barely needs his skills.
  • David in The Leech Woman.
  • Parodied in the Bob Hope film Call Me Bwana. Bob Hope plays a New York writer who has passed off his uncle's memoirs of explorations in Africa as his own. Hope lives his false reputation as a great white hunter to the point of living in a Manhattan apartment furnished to look like an African safari lodge complete with sound effects records of African fauna. Based on his false reputation as an "Africa Expert", he is recruited by the United States Government and NASA to locate a missing secret space probe before it can be located by hostile forces.
  • Subverted in the 1964 film Man's Favorite Sport? wherein Rock Hudson plays a fishing expert at Abercrombie and Fitch (this was back in the days when it was still just a world famous outdoor sports emporium) who can't fish. Entered into a fishing tournament by a publicity agent who doesn't know his secret, Hudson is forced to learn how to fish from the owner of the lodge's daughter. And yes, fishing is not the same as hunting, but it is the principle that counts.
  • Robert Shaw's character Sam Quint in Jaws. He's a Great White Hunter who hunts great white sharks. But he's also haunted by his past experiences with sharks, and has become a merciless shark-hater and borderline psychotic, not unlike Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick.
  • Deconstructed in the 1966 family film Maya, which is actually about a quest to save a sacred white elephant. The young protagonist of the story journeys to India to meet his father, who lives on a plantation in the country and supposedly lives this trope. When he gets there, however, he finds that all the cages are empty of animals and have fallen to rust and disrepair. Gradually, the truth comes out...and it proves to be quite ugly. The boy's father was indeed known as a great hunter until he was clawed by a tiger, which traumatized him so much that he has devolved into a Dirty Coward who could no longer bring himself to hunt true wild game and now only uses his gun to kill small, weak, or tamed animals out of spite (such as when, without provocation, he shoots a tamed cheetah that his son had befriended). Eventually, though, the father redeems himself by rescuing his son, another boy his age, and a baby elephant from being eaten by a pack of tigers in the aptly named "Valley of the Tigers".
  • Van Pelt in Jumanji was one of these; well, before he started Hunting the Most Dangerous Game.
  • Groucho Marx's famous character Capt. Geoffrey Spaulding from the film Animal Crackers is a parody of this trope.
    Capt. Spaulding: "One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How it got in my pajamas I'll never know".

    Literature 
  • Lord John Roxton from The Lost World.
  • H. Rider Haggard's Allan Quatermain.
  • Captain C.G. Biggar from the P. G. Wodehouse novel Ring for Jeeves.
  • Sanger Rainsford, the hunter who becomes General Zaroff's prey in "The Most Dangerous Game".
  • Geoffrey Household's 1939 novel Rogue Male featured a white hunter going after Adolf Hitler. It was later filmed as Man Hunt in 1941 and Rogue Male in 1976.
  • Wilson from Ernest Hemingway's The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.
  • John Hunt and his sons Hal and Roger from the Adventure series of children's novels by Willard Price.
  • A comic version of this character is Colonel the Hon. George Hysteron-Proteron CB DL JP (1870 - 1942), the invention of the author J. K. Stanford.
  • Commander Trafford Bradshaw in the Thursday Next series.
  • The version of Gatsby's Multiple-Choice Past that he personally tells Nick includes this, inducing a Narm attack:
    “After that I lived like a young rajah in all the capitals of Europe — Paris, Venice, Rome — collecting jewels, chiefly rubies, hunting big game, painting a little, things for myself only, and trying to forget something very sad that had happened to me long ago.”
    With an effort I managed to restrain my incredulous laughter. The very phrases were worn so threadbare that they evoked no image except that of a turbaned “character” leaking sawdust at every pore as he pursued a tiger through the Bois de Boulogne.
    • However, a minute later, Gatsby produces some evidence that other parts of his story are true, giving Nick what he later calls "one of those renewals of complete faith in him."
    Then it was all true. I saw the skins of tigers flaming in his palace on the Grand Canal; I saw him opening a chest of rubies to ease, with their crimson-lighted depths, the gnawings of his broken heart.
  • Denys Finch-Hatton in Out of Africa.
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea: Ned Land, the King of Harpooners.
  • In the Bunduki series by J.T. Edson, James Allenvale 'Bunduki' Gunn was a Game Warden in Kenya before being transported to another planet.
  • David Talbot in Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles is an old Brit who keeps fondly recalling his youth, much of which was spent in the jungles of India and South America as this trope. He would also often find local lovers (usually young men).
  • Tarzan goes under cover as an American big game hunter in The Return of Tarzan.
  • Prepoc, the feline alien whose grave is the titular Urn Burial of Robert Westall's sci-fi novel, is described as glorying in the hunt and taking a savage joy in pursuing his quarry in battle; facing them honourably but not stupidly, and trying to take as many as possible down with a single shot. It's a holdover from the days before he was Fefethil war-leader and hunted game for food.
  • Subverted in Search for the Nile with sir Mortimer P. Quimby III. He is content merely to track down the animal and aim his rifle without actually shooting, solely for the satisfaction of outwitting the beast.
  • The Man with the Yellow Hat's role in the first Curious George book, where he captured George for an American zoo.
  • Five Weeks in a Balloon: One of the protagonists, Dick Kennedy, is very fond of (and very skilled at) hunting during the trip through Africa, and is very protective of his guns.
  • Colin O'Connor, from The Palace Tiger, is a former professional tiger hunter turned conservationist; he says he now prefers to hunt with a camera rather than a gun. Edgar Troop plays it straight, though: he makes a considerable part of his living running big game hunts and considers hunting to be reason enough by itself.
  • Mustrum Ridcully from Discworld, though he leans more towards fishing than hunting. Keeps loaded crossbows everywhere (including his office in case anyone wants to see him) and was once tempted to shoot down a deer-horned god of the hunt (imagine the size of its rack).
    • Parodied in one of the books where the witches hold meetings on the bare mountain. This of course leads to people thinking it's called the Bear mountain, and the locals take advantage of stupid nobs who come in with heavy crossbows buying bear traps, maps of the bear caves and hiring native guides.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Frank Buck from Bring 'Em Back Alive.
  • John Locke from LOST.
  • Parodied in the "mosquito hunting" sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus.
  • Lord John Roxton from Sir Arthur Conan Doyles The Lost World.
  • John Riddell from the Doctor Who episode "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship".
  • Character actor James Gammon portrayed Theodore Roosevelt this way in an episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles set in Kenya in 1909. He kills dozens of rare animals in order to have them shipped back to America so that they can be displayed in museums, where ordinary people can come to be educated about them. Indiana eventually gets him to see the contradiction of someone who has such high regard for animals shooting so many of them.
  • Parker Lewis Cant Lose: In "Future Shock", Principal Russo hires Great White Hunter Rex Huston to track down and retrieve Kube who is hiding in the ventilation system to avoid a vaccination.
  • Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom: Though they didn't actually kill any of the beasts, Marlin Perkins and (when Perkins got too old) Jim Fowler still went out into exotic settings and tracked and interacted with wild animals.

    Music 
  • Deconstructed into absurdity in "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill", by The Beatles.
    • Many sources claim that the song was actually a harsh metaphor for The Vietnam War, though it did definitely use the hallmarks of this trope.
    The children asked him if to kill was not a sin,
    "Not when he looked so fierce" his mummy butted in,
    If looks could kill, it would have been us instead of him.
  • The singer/narrator of "Hunting Tigers Out in 'INDIAH'", a music hall song covered by The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, is trying to be this, although the Bonzo Dog Band's version implies he's not quite as brave as he'd like to be.
  • Mentioned by name in Nightwish's "10th Man Down": "I alone, the great white hunter, I'll march till the dawn brings me rest"

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Jungle Jim, who also appeared in radio, film, and television.

    Radio 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Space 1889 in Steppelords of Mars the players meet a character who is aspiring to this and wants to bag a big predator. Big game hunter is also a career available in character generation.
  • The Explorer's Society in Deadlands even lets player characters become Great White Hunters. Of course, our heroic PCs can do this in good conscience because the "great whites" in question almost always have a taste for human flesh ("but what doesn't these days?").
  • A player character archetype in Hollow Earth Expedition.
  • Even though they're another society in a whole culture of hunters, the Bear Lodge of Hunter: The Vigil is probably the Compact most closely matching this trope. Why? Because they tend to hunt werewolves.
    • Mean werewolves too-an Urathra who can prove he hasn't killed a human being (which is rare, given their genetically-mandated job, but it happens) is often let go, since the Lodge recognizes that werewolves are sapient beings too-just very angry, very scary ones.

    Videogames 
  • Played straight in World of Warcraft with Hemet Nesingwary, an anagram of Ernest Hemingway, who repeatedly asks you to hunt countless animals.
    • Nesingwary, incidentally, is widely hated by players for his tedious quests (which are less "hunting" than "ecological disaster") and the whole thing is hilariously subverted in the fact that he's opposed personally by a faction of druids in Wrath of the Lich King. His questline in said expansion is also arguably a lot more tolerable than his other efforts.
  • Franklin Payne, one of the possible party members in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura.
  • Bonus Henchmen Col. Blackheart from Evil Genius. Complete with a bear trap and a pet monkey.
  • In Champion Of The Raj, an obscure game set in early 1800s India, one way the player can win an alliance with local lords is by going tiger hunting with them. Two of the possible players are the British and French East India Company representatives.
  • Captain Ash from TimeSplitters.
  • The Sniper from Team Fortress 2 is meant to be a version of this, except that he hunts people instead of animals.
    • According to his character background, he actually used to be this trope in the Australian outback.
    • Saxton Hale's favorite passtime is wrestling big game to death and bringing them back home as trophies.
  • The player character of the 1980 Sega game Tranquilizer Gun (which was also released for the SG-1000 as Safari Hunting).
  • Sir Hammerlock in Borderlands 2, a Gentleman Adventurer who is equal parts hunter, scholar, and gentleman. He doesn't go out in the field much anymore, mostly because he literally lost an arm and a leg to some of Pandora's native fauna. His ex-boyfriend Taggart also tried to be this, but mainly just punched stalkers in the face until he got killed. He's even involved in his own DLC (titled Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt), where he invites the player to Pandora's equivalent of Darkest Africa for a safari trip.
  • Lord General Castor from Dawn of War definitely has the personality of one, and collects the heads of Tyranids he killed over the course of his career.

    Western Animation 
  • Wildly subverted by Commander McBragg from Tennessee Tuxedo And His Tales. As his name suggests, he was very sure of his skills and conquests, but they didn't always play out as nicely as he described them.
  • The Beatles go on a three-week African safari holiday with great white hunter Alan Watermain in the episode "I'll Get You."
  • Colonel Pot Shot from Chilly Willy. He has a vast collection of stuffed animals, each a trophy from a previous hunting expedition.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: In one episode, Hoggish Greedly captured animals for clients who wanted to experience hunting without the dangers real hunters face. A real hunter opposed him.

    Real Life 
  • In some areas, this was truth in television to a certain degree, as some native cultures simply avoided large predators and the idea of actually hunting down and killing them for the sake of a pretty rug was alien to them. In others, white men did generally survive tangles with large predators better than the natives, because the white guys had guns, which natives were often not permitted in colonial times and in most cases they simply couldn't afford.
  • Col. John Henry Patterson was a noted hunter of man-eaters, and it was he who hunted down the Tsavo man-eaters, a pair of Tsavo lions which killed and ate between 35 and 135 Indian labourers building the Tsavo railway bridge. The lions of the area had always been especially vicious, and it is believed that the lions acquired their taste for humans from the slaves and travelers who perished in the dangerous river crossing. The vast numbers of defenceless labourers, sitting alone in canvas tents, provided them with a static and weak food source. Patterson eventually had to shoot them nearly 15 times in order to kill them.
  • Jim Corbett was a hunter, conservationist, and naturalist who hunted and killed tigers and leopards that had turned man-killers. Between 1907 and 1938, Corbett tracked and killed at least a dozen man-eaters. It is estimated that the combined total of men, women, and children these twelve animals had killed was in excess of 1,500. His very first success, the Champawat Tiger in Champawat, alone was responsible for 436 documented deaths. He also shot the Panar Leopard, which allegedly killed 400 after being injured by a poacher and thus being rendered unable to hunt its normal prey. Other notable man-eaters he killed were the Talla-Des man-eater, the Mohan man-eater, the Thak man-eater, and the Chowgarh tigress. However, one of the most famous was the man-eating Leopard of Rudraprayag, which terrorised the pilgrims to the holy Hindu shrines Kedarnath and Badrinath for more than ten years. Later in his life, Corbett became a conservationist and had an important role of establishing India's first national park (now named after him) which is a protected area for the endangered Bengal tiger. A TV movie starring Jason Flemyng was made in 2005.
  • Crocodile Hunter: Ecological awareness need not be a hindrance to the trope. The late Steve Irwin ran around in khaki shorts, and when he captured crocodiles to relocate them, he got to jump and wrestle them, which was far more exciting than to have him just shoot them.
  • Subverted Truth in Television: Robert Sapolsky's autobiographical "A Primate's Memoir".
  • Theodore Roosevelt. President, adventurist, Conservationist, big-game hunter, all-American hero.
  • Frank Mundus was a particularly literal example of the great white hunter. What did he hunt? Great white sharks.
  • Martti Kitunen (1747-1833). He shot 193 bears with a muzzle-loading musket. That means he got exactly one shot before the bear would be on his skin. He succeeded always.
  • J.A. Hunter who, amongst other exploits, is responsible for tracking down and killing the rogue elephant of Aberdare Forest.
  • Ernest Hemingway himself was an active big game hunter.
  • Buffalo Bill was a famous buffalo hunter in his life time and cultivated himself as some sort of a mythological The Wild West hero when he got his famous Wild West show on the road.


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