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Hunting the Most Dangerous Game
Typical company picnic for the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant.

"Thank you for coming. I have purchased the Springfield YMCA. I plan to tear it down, and build a nature preserve where I will hunt the deadliest game of all - Man."
Rainier Wolfcastle, The Simpsons

Subgenre of The Chase where the villains are hunters and the hero is the prey - the game - in a formalized hunting motif.

Most action series have a Hunting the Most Dangerous Game episode as well as a Forced Prize Fight. Villains may get victims from any walk of life, typically kidnapping Innocent Bystanders, buying Condemned Contestants, or tricking friends/enemies/the soon to be ex-wife into an isolated spot. Aside from providing a good dramatic sequence, this type of episode can also become a Green Aesop. Sometimes an Anvilicious one.

If it's an actual contest, you're talking about Deadly Game, though it should be noted that the term "game" as it is used in this trope refers to the hunted species, rather than the hunt itself. The villain often is an Egomaniac Hunter for whom sapient game is the ultimate hunting thrill.

The Trope Namer is The Most Dangerous Game, a classic short story in which a big game hunter becomes the prey of a retired Russian general who hunts humans for sport on his private island.

(And no, it's not this.)

Expect the villain to motivate his prey by promising he can "Win Your Freedom" by surviving X amount of time. Whether he's being truthful or not, the story rarely actually ends with the hero simply winning his freedom and leaving, because then the villain would get away with it.

The Wild Hunt may be one of these. See also Blood Knight for someone who is more of a warrior than a hunter. Villains who go so far as to have an MO and do this often enough are practicing Industrialized Evil.

See also Serial Killer, who usually drops the overt hunting motif but still maintains the spirit of the trope, especially if they engage in cat-and-mouse games with their victims.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Osamu Tezuka's Phoenix: Life, a TV producer plans to create a gameshow based on this concept using human clones created with technology from a mysterious Mayincatec civilization given to them by the titular bird-god's daughter. Of course, things quickly go pear-shaped for him when he himself is used as the template for the clones and then gets mistaken for one.
  • Rak Wraithraiser from Tower of God is a warrior hunter. He tracks down the strongest people he can find and kills them to become stronger. His prey is human (or humanoid), but to him, they are all turtles. Did we mention Rak is a giant bipedal alligator?
  • Pumpkin Scissors has a Monster of the Week (well, a human, actually, but considering what he does...) in the form of Viscount Wolkins, an egomanic evil noble who promises a vast reward to anyone winning his game...that consists of shackling the challengers together and letting them loose on his grounds, after which he hunts them with a freaking tank, cannon and all. When Section III turns up to investigate and, upon finding out the nature of his game, arrest him, he then subjects The Hero and Those Two Guys to the same treatment. Unfortunately for him, The Hero happens to be a chemically enhanced giant armed with a 13mm, armor piercing handgun who was trained and conditioned specifically to fight tanks on foot.
  • An episode of Weiß Kreuz had Hirofumi Takatori drug people in a nightclub, ship their unconscious bodies to a forest, then release them for his friends to kill for fun.
  • In One Piece's sixth movie Baron Omatsuri And The Secret Island, the third game for the Straw Hats to play involved the Baron's crew hunting down the remaining Straw Hats through the island.
  • In Lupin III: Dead or Alive, Zufu prison holds an annual event, selecting a few prisoners to attempt to escape. So far, the guards boast that noone has succeeded, and call it "target practice".
  • In Psycho-Pass, a cyborg who has taken the final step of having his entire brain copied into a digital form in order to achieve immortality takes part in underground human hunts. He claims it makes him feel alive again, and he takes grisly trophies from his kills, such as a smoking pipe carved out of human bones.

    Comicbooks 
  • Spider-Man
    • This is Kraven the Hunter's big schtick in various Spider-Man media — hunting Spider-Man, whom he considers the most elusive prey of all and the only one capable of presenting him with any challenge. The "Kraven's Last Hunt" storyline features him not only succeeding at this goal, but impersonating and outperforming Spider-Man before committing suicide. He returns in Scarlet Spider to do the same.
    • Kraven's son Alyosha once kidnapped dozens of villains with Animal Motifs (like Man-Ape and the Rhino), set them loose on a remote island, and went on the prowl. He had seemingly lost his mind at some point prior to this, as this was a dramatic departure from his usual M.O. and he was extremely irrational throughout the ordeal.
    • Spider-Man: The New Animated Series was an exception, of sorts — Kraven was given a different role in the finale, while an original villain, Shikata, subjected Spider-Man to Hunting the Most Dangerous Game partway through the series. Well, according to the commentary for the Shikata episode on the DVD, the original idea was to use Kraven.
    • The Ultimate Spider-Man version of Kraven, by contrast, is a devoted celebrity hunter, sort of like Steve Irwin in leather pants. He declared his intention to catch and kill Spider-Man, often believed to be a mutant. He successfully tracked Spider-Man down, but since Kraven is just a normal human who happens to wrestle alligators or whatever, Spider-Man completely wipes the floor with him (less than a minute after a much tougher fight with Doc Ock). Moral of the story: The Most Dangerous Game is no fun for anyone if the hunter is unarmed.
    • Later, Kraven returns claiming to be ready to hunt down Spiderman for real, only to be immediately arrested by S.H.I.E.L.D. for obtaining black market metahuman enhancements...and then bragging about it on TV.
  • One arc of The Trigan Empire features a rich maniac who keeps a whole island set up for "sporting" manhunts.
  • One Story Arc of Ultimate X-Men actually has this as its title. Naturally, it's about a media mogul who has a TV show in which mutants convicted of capital crimes (often falsely, but, as it turns out at the end, not in the case of the guy our heroes wound up protecting the whole time) are hunted and killed.
    • And Ultimate Spider-Man did it later, with Deadpool as the hunter and Spiderman as the hunted. Deadpool was going after the X-Men and, thanks to Shadowcat trying to get help, Spider-Man found himself tangled up in that mess.
  • The French graphic novel Exit (with a scenario by the sci-fi author Bernard Werber) revolves around suicide pacts that turn out to be this.
  • Rogue CIA agent Stryker subjects Travis Morgan to one of these in The Warlord #13.
  • Otto Orion, a.k.a. the Hunter, captured the Legion of Super-Heroes and subjected them to this in Adventure Comics #358. His son Adam later adopted his father's alias and M.O. and attempted to avenge his father, eventually becoming a member of The Legion of Supervillains.
  • Ramba #7 - "The Hunters and the Prey". Ramba has received an invitation to a party on the island of Elba, with a rich bounty in it if she survives the experience. Three men want to play a hunting game. The whole island is the playing field, and she agrees to become prey. Each hunter has part of a clue to the whereabouts of a large cache of money. If she is caught, she loses the money she already has and submits to their "most perverse wishes". If she catches them, she gets the money. Ramba agrees. She quickly catches and seduces several of her would-be hunters and a female bystander. She demonstrates her own perverse wishes and gets their clues, which lead her to the vicinity of the money. The third man is guarding it in an old German bunker and manages to get himself impaled on the wall. Her third perverse wish is a necrophiliac one, after which she takes the money and leaves.
  • A villain called the Stalker subjects Batman to one of these in Detective Comics #401.
  • The second issue of EC's The Vault Of Horror comic book featured a story similar to blatantly ripped off from The Most Dangerous Game called "Island Of Death".
  • Subverted in The Walking Dead where a group of survivors reveal that they kill and eat people because it is less work than hunting animals.
  • The Sportsmen, in Firearm. And they don't stop at hunting and killing, either.
  • A story ("The Ferryman") in an issue of Clive Barker's Hellraiser once featured a rich KKK member who would routinely capture homeless black people to torture on his ship, occasionally letting some loose on deserted islands in order to hunt them for sport alongside his fellow Klansmen.
  • In Secret Six #23, a group of hunters try this with the Six. They find out this is not a good idea.
  • In The Invisibles, a group of English nobles take great pleasure in hunting down the homeless and poor. It's shown in detail in "Royal Monsters".
  • New 52: In Action Comics #10, a big game hunter who has gotten bored of hunting animals (in his introduction, he casually kills a dinosaur) learns of Superman and considers him a worthy test of his skills. His friend warns that Superman is bulletproof, but he boasts, "There is no such thing as bulletproof!" He obtains high-powered weapons, somehow learns of Clark Kent's secret, and lies in wait in Clark's apartment. Superman easily takes him down, with the man suffering a Villainous Breakdown when all his weapons prove useless.
  • The Ultimate Riddle involves Batman being pursued by seven great warriors from across space and time (and a criminal who Judge Dredd was in the middle of arresting).
  • The Nesting Ones do this to Jon Sable in Shaman's Tears #8; giving him a gun and a single bullet to make things 'sporting'.
  • Eerie #9's story "Isle of the Beast" has the hunter specifically mentioning the original The Most Dangerous Game as his inspiration to set up such an island. To make things more interesting, he also mutates himself into a kind of beastman while hunting. Unfortunately for him, his quarry is a werewolf. Eerie's writers were fond of this kind of twist ending.

    Film 
  • Avenging Force: The bad guys have a "hunting club" for this purpose. The main character is forced to participate it as a prey after his sister is kidnapped.
  • Battle Royale: This is the main premise of the film and the book it's based on: a totalitarian Japanese government dumps a bunch of Japanese high schoolers on a deserted island and forces them to kill each other for sport.
  • Betrayed: In this movie, an African American man is hunted by a group of racists.
  • Bet Your Life: This 2004 made-for-TV movie.
  • Blood and Chocolate: Werewolves set humans free on an island and proceed to hunt them.
  • Blooded: An Animal Wrongs Group kidnaps a group of hunters, strips them to their underwear, and releases them in the moors to be hunted by members of the group.
  • Bloodlust!: This MST 3 K-featured ripoff.
  • Deadly Prey (1987): A group of sadistic mercenaries kidnap people off the streets and set them loose on the grounds of their secret camp, so the "students" at the camp can learn how to track down and kill their prey.
  • Death Ring: This 1992 film, starring Mike Norris.
  • Dominion: In this 1995 movie, members of an expedition are hunted by a deranged man.
  • The Eliminator: This 2004 film.
  • Fugitive X: The premise behind this film. A casino even takes bets on how long the "game" will survive.
  • A Game of Death: The Most Dangerous Game was remade in 1945 into this film, with Zaroff recast as a Nazi named Erich Kreiger.
  • Gymkata: Somehow combines this trope with gymnastics!
  • Hard Target: In this John Woo-directed, Jean-Claude Van Damme-starring, New-Orleans-set film, the Big Bad is the head of a hunting business which allows rich men to hunt homeless or down-on-their-luck war veterans. Homeless or down-on-their-luck so no one cares, war veterans to make it interesting.
  • Hunter Prey: This sci-fi film.
  • Jumanji:
    • This movie had a nineteenth-century big game hunter come out of the game and try to hunt one of the main characters, and only him, because "He rolled the dice". It's heavily implied that Van Pelt (the hunter) had already been pursuing Alan over the years that they were inside the game, based on Alan's reaction when he read Van Pelt's description after rolling. He is also a representation of Alan's fear towards his father (both characters are played by Jonathan Hyde), aware that he's part of a game, and not above trading his old elephant rifle for a more modern weapon.
    • In the cartoon spin-off, the game hunter was one of the frequent villains. The protagonists eventually just got used to him, even using him against other adversaries on occasion. The one time they got rid of him, Peter started turning into his replacement - he's as much a part of the setting as an actual person. There must always be a Van Pelt, and if You Kill It, You Bought It. They figured out how to cure Peter... and elsewhere, the real Van Pelt climbed out of the Death Trap they'd set for him unharmed.
  • The King and the Clown: The lords see the mock hunt held in honour of Gong-gil's entitlement as the perfect opportunity to get rid of him. They only actually end up killing Six-Dix as they are disrupted by Jaeng-sang and then the King.
  • Lethal Woman (Also titled The Most Dangerous Woman Alive): In this 1989 film, a group of men are told that they have won an "erotic vacation" at a fantasy island. In reality, they are being lured to the island by women they have wronged, and once there, they are captured and set loose on the island to be hunted down.
  • Mean Guns: Not to mention somewhat reversed by this knock-off Battle Royale-esque film. The Busey-who-is-not-Busey knew it was a trap but pretty much went there with this intention in mind, and to settle an old score with the John Wayne-meets-Mick Jagger lead 'cowboy-style' gunfighter. The reversal is that the majority of the crooks led there by the syndicate do various mafioso-style versions of this in their daily lives, but the Syndicate simply doesn't want them anymore for various reasons. So it stages a false contest to make them hunt each other. At the end, Ice-T lets the winners know this and intends to kill the 'winners,' but cowboy gets them both. And hoists the Busey-clone by his own petard while at it.
  • Mindhunters: This is the sole motivation for the villain in this Renny Harlin movie as he considers FBI Profilers to be a good match for his intellect.
  • The Most Dangerous Game: This is the movie version of the Trope Namer.
  • Naked Fear: Where a serial killer hunts women he abducts from a nearby town, but he first strips them completely naked and offers them no tools, rendering them as close to wild animals as possible.
  • The Naked Prey (1966): Cornel Wilde gets hunted by warriors of a native African tribe.
  • Octopussy: In this James Bond movie, Kamal Khan uses a tiger hunt from elephant back to hunt down the escaped spy.
  • The Pest: Spoofed.
  • Predator:
    • This is the premise of this franchise, except the hunters are aliens. They have a code of honor and, among other things, do not hunt/kill unarmed targets or pregnant women. They also respect Worthy Opponents, and at the end of the second film, when the protagonist kills a predator, the others give him an 18th-century flintlock pistol, implied to be a trophy from a previous hunt.
    • In Alien vs. Predator, the predators take it even further by hunting the Aliens. While they're animals (and therefore technically not this trope), the Aliens are even more dangerous than humans, and throughout the Alien franchise they clearly show intelligence. The last surviving Predator gives the last surviving human an honor mark (apparently) for killing an Alien with a spear. When the other Predators come to pick up the hunt team, they appear to respect the human survivor because of the mark.
    • Predators takes this to the extremes, taking place on what is essentially a Predator game preserve and featuring choice human soldiers, criminals, etc. as the game. The lead character is a mercenary implied to be/have been an assassin of some sort, and he directly uses the Hemingway quote on the subject (see this trope's quote page).
  • Revolution 1985: A group of British soldiers come to a rope factory and explain that they want to hunt foxes but there are none to be found. So Tom and a big man are chosen to be the foxes they'll hunt. Tom barely survives this with his life.
  • Rovdyr (Translated as Predator and marketed as Manhunt): This 2008 Norwegian film features this trope. It can be a little too easy to confuse this with a different movie or with a video game.
  • Run for the Sun: The Most Dangerous Game was remade again in 1956 in this film, with the villain still a Nazi.
  • The Running Man: Here, the Most Dangerous Game is also the Most Popular Gameshow, and convicts are given their chance to fight for their freedom in a somewhat one-sided battle arena (or in the populace at large in the original book). Rather a lot of carnage ensues.
  • $la$her$: Inverted Trope in this Japanese game show in which contestants enter a closed-course of Axe Crazy murderers to survive for cash and prizes. The production's stable of variously villainous killers have their own stage personae and fandoms, and many contestants are excited to be hunted by them.
  • Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity: This is a 1987 direct-to-video film that transports “The Most Dangerous Game” to an alien world and populates it with bikini-clad space prison escapees and weird space monsters.
  • Star Hunter: In this 1995 film, the hunters are horrible aliens.
  • Surviving The Game: This forms the plot of the Ice-T/Rutger Hauer/Gary Busey movie.
  • Tender Flesh: A stripper and her boyfriend are hunted on an island.
  • Turkey Shoot: This 1982 Ozploitation movie, also known as Escape 2000 or Blood Camp Thatcher. Twenty Minutes into the Future delinquents and political dissidents are herded into prison camps where they are hunted for sport by VIP's.
  • The Woman Hunt (1973): Exactly What It Says on the Tin.

    Jokes 
  • A trucker is hauling a load of computers through Silicon Valley and gets lost. He walks into a bar and asks the bartender where he is. The bartender starts to answer but at that moment a guy with taped glasses and a pocket protector comes through the door. The bartender grabs a shotgun from under the bar and blasts the guy right in the chest, dead. The trucker is shocked by this, but the bartender explains "It's okay - we have too many nerds here in Silicon Valley. They declared open season, there's no limit!" The bartender gives the trucker a map to get him where he needs to go and the trucker drives off. A few blocks later the trucker takes a turn too sharply and all the computers fall off the back. He gets out to survey the damage and sees hundreds of nerds coming out of the woods and helping themselves to the computers! The trucker remembers what the bartender said, so he grabs a gun from the truck and starts picking the nerds off. Suddenly he's slammed to the ground by a cop. "I'm sorry!" the trucker says, "I was told it was open season!" "Yes," says the cop, "but you can't bait them!"

    Literature 
  • Of course, the original short story by Richard Connell that the trope is named for. The story's main villain, General Zaroff, has spent his life hunting every kind of animal imaginable and has grown bored of his hobby. To keep his interest in hunting, Zaroff resorts to hunting the most dangerous game of all - humans.
  • A similar theme forms one of the threads of Gavin Lyall's aviation/espionage thriller The Most Dangerous Game.
  • The hero of Rogue Male is a big game hunter whose stalking of an unnamed Great Man (implied to be Hitler) is presented as an exercise in stealth; he wasn't actually going to shoot. Only later is it revealed that he had a motive (revenge for the execution of a lover) and would have shot if he'd had a moment longer.
  • One set of villains in Elizabeth Moon's Familias Regnant series is a cadre of senior military officers who abuse their positions to hunt people.
  • In the Doctor Who novel The Doctor Trap, the Doctor is taken to a planet where the galaxy's greatest hunters (the Endangered Dangerous Species Society) are in competition to kill him.
  • The Devils of Langenhagen, a short story by Australian sci-fi author Sean McMullen. In the last days of the Third Reich, an Me262 interceptor squadron is visited by some strange and elegant guests — a couple of high-ranking pilots (and their wives) flying the very latest aircraft (a Horten 229 and a Japanese Shinden canard fighter). It turns out that they're time-travellers, seeking to shoot down Allied fighters for thrills.
  • An unusual version in Immortality, Inc by Robert Sheckley. In this novel, a rich guy, wishing to die in style, hires hunters to hunt and kill him. He can hunt and kill them back. The catch is, there's the scientific (and very expensive!) process to ensure that someone will have an afterlife - and without said process, to have one's soul survive death is almost a Million to One Chance. The rich guy has guaranteed afterlife and doesn't fear death, while the hunters mostly don't.
  • In the Women Of The Otherworld novel Stolen, Elena and other supernaturals are kidnapped to be experimented on and the major funder of this project is a millionaire video game designer who likes to hunt them when they've outlived their usefulness.
  • One of the short stories reveals that Ravenor took Patience Kys into his retinue after rescuing her from one of these hunts.
  • In the Discworld novel The Fifth Elephant, Angua's evil brother Wolfgang decides that he and his pack will do this to Commander Samuel Vimes. Let's just say it was a strategic error.
    • However, it was noted that 'The Game' was a tradition and that a fair number of people who were fit, clever, and knew their way around the woods had actually won. The old barons would present such a winner with a meal at the castle and enough money to start a small business. And significantly, no one had to play. Wolfgang, however, was a cheating bastard who sent out werewolves in advance to lie in wait for him.
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, it is mentioned that Araminta Meliflua, a cousin of Sirius Black's mother, tried to have a Ministry bill passed that would make it legal to hunt Muggles.
  • In the Dirk Pitt novel Dragon by Clive Cussler, Dirk makes a direct reference to the original The Most Dangerous Game and even uses the same method as the hero of that story in order to win. Genre Savvy indeed...
  • The obscure novel The Sound of His Horn features the hero being captured by a sadistic Nazi Nobleman who hunts human beings for sport.
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley's Hunters of the Red Moon is The Most Dangerous Game - In Space! With a twist ending, no less.
  • Atrocity Week by Andrew McCoy. Rich foreigners travel to a camp in South Africa to hunt natives from helicopters. Things go badly when African guerillas attack and the hunters turn against the mercenaries running the camp.
  • "Feral" humans in the ruins of what was once the USA are hunted for sport after The Final War between the Draka and the Alliance for Democracy in the Drakaverse. The rest of humanity is even worse off.
  • The Dragonlance short story "Lord Toede's Disastrous Hunt" involves the eponymous hobgoblin going hunting for poachers.
  • A variation is mentioned in The Silmarillion: when the Dwarves first came to Beleriand, the native Elves assumed that they were just particularly strange animals and hunted them the same as any other. When the Elves realised their mistake, they ceased such activities and tried to make amends (although some did so half-heartedly because they couldn't quite get past how "unlovely" the Dwarves were), while many Dwarves never quite got over it (and at least one lineage was virtually wiped out).
  • A short story by Isaac Asimov features a man who traveled into the past and discovered how the dinosaurs died. Apparently, there was a race of sentient dinosaurs who first killed all the dinosaurs (the tiny mammals were spared). The trope should give a perfectly good explanation to the fact they didn't survive themselves.
  • Played with in "Novice", the first Telzey Amberdon story. While humans were hunting the creatures known as "Crest Cats" without realizing they were sapient, it turns out that the Crest Cats were hunting the humans right back, and having considerable fun doing it.
  • The Bandersnachi of the planet Jinx in Larry Niven's Known Space series are hunted by humans, with very specific and rigidly enforced limitations on allowed equipment (which includes what amounts to a tank, as the environment is unsurvivable to humans and Bandersnachi take a LOT of killing). The Bandersnatchi do this for two reasons: They need the money, and they're BORED. The humans get a trophy about 60% of the time. The rest...well, there's a LOT of squashed tanks down near the ocean.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Ramsay Bolton likes to kidnap women, release them naked and unarmed into the forest, give them a head start, and then come after them on horseback with a pack of hounds. When he catches them, he rapes them, kills them, and skins them (in that order, if they have given him good sport. If they haven't...). It is worth noting that, unlike some of the other examples on this page, Ramsay has no sense of pride, honour, or good sportsmanship in his hunts, and his victims have no chance whatsoever of winning. Though the term is never used (since it's a Medieval Stasis fantasy setting), it is clear that the readers are meant to see him as a Serial Killer with a particularly horrific M.O.
  • Shadowplay in Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space universe; in the post-Melding Plague Chasm City, the effectively immortal residents of the Canopy arrange for "contracts" on their life as a way to break up the monotony of life, with specific restrictions (such as a killing weapon) and time restriction. The assassins are followed by the media, who record the events. Most contracts are set up to allow a high survival rate, but someone has to die every once in a while to keep people coming.
  • Kitty's House of Horrors contains several plot elements from a common version of this trope (targets lured to a remote location under false pretenses, elaborate traps, film as trophies, etc). The fact that most of the targets were not normal humans in the strictest sensenote  was the hunters' motivation.
  • The central premise of The Hunger Games. Note the similarities (probably unintentional, but hey) with Battle Royale.
  • In The Book of Lost Things the Huntress surgically combines children with animals to heighten the thrill of the hunt.

    Live-Action TV 
  • I Spy,"The Name of the Game".
  • The Incredible Hulk, "The Snare": This hunter is so looney that when he discovers Banner's Hulk form, he is delighted at the special challenge with his quarry.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Homecoming" (with "Slayerfest '98"). And in the Buffyverse, there is no game more dangerous than a Slayer. They all got killed, either by each other or by Buffy, and it's frankly astonishing that they expected anything else to happen. This seems even dumber when one considers that Faith was supposed to be there as well, but Cordelia ended up there instead. So instead of two Slayers, they were facing one Slayer preoccupied with looking after a normal, basically noncombatant human - and they still all died.
  • Star Trek:
    • Kirk manages to invoke this trope to escape in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Squire of Gothos". He asks his captor, "Where's the sport?" in simply hanging him, as he had planned. Instead, Kirk talks his captor into staging a "royal hunt". This bought Kirk enough time for a deus ex machina rescue.
    • In the Deep Space 9 episode "Captive Pursuit", one of the station's first contacts through the wormhole from the Gamma Quadrant is Tosk, who was a reptilian humanoid bred to be hunted by another species, with a body and mind highly optimized for that purpose. The hunting party chasing him shows up in act three.
    • And in Star Trek: Voyager, this is the hat of the Hirogen. Their whole culture revolves around it, and the Voyager crew winds up in their sights every so often. (Yet, they're not Always Chaotic Evil.)
  • Get Smart episode "Island of the Darned".
  • Gilligan's Island did an episode where Gilligan is the prey of a big game hunter.
  • Parodied in the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode "Mac and Dennis: Manhunters": not only are the protagonists the ones doing the hunting, they intend only to humiliate their quarry by doing something involving testicles (they spend the episode arguing over just what).
  • Richard, a client in the second episode of Dollhouse, pulls this on Echo, who is programmed into a super outdoorswoman. Specifically, he approached the Dollhouse saying that he was interested in a hunting/hiking trip with a beautiful woman who was a highly-skilled outdoorswoman, and they obliged, thinking it was just a variant on the usual "engagement". It wasn't until after he slept with Echo that he sprung the real meaning of the "hunting" trip on her. However, at the end of the episode, it turns out that Connell was actually a sociopathic lunatic hired by Alpha to hunt Echo in a brutally Darwinist attempt to make her stronger.
  • Subverted in the 30 Rock episode "Apollo, Apollo:"
    Jack: I've hunted the world's most dangerous game: man. (coughs) Excuse me, manatee.
  • The Adventures Of Sinbad epsiode "The Beast Within".
  • The The Outer Limits episode "The Hunt", which had humans hunting androids that looked indistinguishable from humans. The androids were programmed to be unable to harm humans, though, until they found schematics detailing how to disable that feature.
  • In the pilot episode for Fantasy Island, guilt-ridden bounty hunter Paul Henley's fantasy is to be killed, so that he no longer feels remorse for the deaths he caused. So Mr. Roarke sends Henley on a hunt on the island, with a beautiful young companion named Michelle along for the journey.
  • The Charlie's Angels episode "Hunted Angels".
  • In Criminal Minds there's personality profile that fits people who do this, referred to as "human predator".
    • "Open Season" had two UnSubs who would kidnap people, set them free in the woods, and then hunt them with bows and arrows.
    • "Rite of Passage": instead of a more traditional green setting, the UnSub hunted his victims in the desert.
    • The UnSub in "The Eyes Have It", while not treating his hunts as sport like the ones in the former two episodes, used hunters' tactics (such as tripwires) to snare his victims.
    • The UnSub in "Exit Wounds" had a hunter's mentality, but tended to just walk up to people and kill them rather than set up elaborate chases.
    • They did it again in "Middle Man", with cornfields this time.
    • A variant was done in "The Wheels on the Bus..." with a pair of Psychopathic Manchild brothers who use high school students as players in a live version of the fictional video game, "Gods of Combat".
  • The Supernatural episode "The Benders".
  • The Relic Hunter episode "Run Sydney Run".
  • After killing a hostile alien, Professor Robinson comes across a "hunter" and he must replace his dead prey in the Lost in Space episode "Hunter's Moon".
  • Forever Knight episode "Hunted".
  • In the Xena: Warrior Princess episode "Dangerous Prey", an evil prince named Morloch hunts the Amazons as if they were animals.
  • The Middleman episode "The Manicoid Teleportation Conundrum" (it's 'The Most Dangerous Game'...with aliens).
  • The Dark Angel episode "Pollo Loco".
  • The Charmed episode "Witch Wars".
  • The Outdoor Life Network show Mantracker is essentially a nice version of this. A professional tracker and a local expert must hunt down two people on the show. Terry Grant (always referred to as Mantracker!) and his partner have no idea what their prey look like or where their finish line is. The Prey have about 36 hours to travel through 40KM of Canadian Wilderness (recently, a few episodes have been done in California), while evading Mantracker. They're on foot, Mantracker's on horseback, which is both blessing and curse based on terrain. No weapons are involved.
  • Bonanza - The final episode of the long-running western titled "The Hunter" featured "Little" Joe Cartwright, played by Michael Landon, being hunted by a war-deranged ex-Army officer. The villain, who fancies himself as a hunter, steals Joe's supplies, water, and wagon, then allows him to flee as his "prey", before later going after him to kill him. Joe is forced to rely on his wits and luck to defeat the villain.
  • Cold Case - The character of George Marks, played by John Billingsley, is shown hunting his victims in forests, much like the real-life serial killer Robert Hansen (see below).
    • He even chose women who had previously been assaulted and fought back so they would give a good fight. Ok it was probably because his mother didn't fight back when she was assualted and "offered" him in her stead.
  • Human Giant - One sketch featured astronaut Cliff Tarpey who created his own reality TV show called "Lunatics" in which he and two other astronauts capture people, hunt them down, and kill them on the moon, for entertainment purposes.
  • Renegade - one episode featured convicts being hunted for fun/as target practice by novice/wannabe assassins.
  • Served as the basis for a sketch on Thank God You're Here where Angus Sampson found himself playing the Egomaniac Hunter (and romance novelist) addressing his unwilling prey.
  • An episode of Airwolf features a corrupt small town sheriff who has set up a man hunting club using prisoners from the local jail, often vagrants arrested for no actual reason.
  • The Torchwood episode "Countrycide".
  • The Smallville episode "Extinction". Van McNulty was more of a racist bastard than a hunter, but the imagery was still there.
  • Premise of the Sci Fi Channel Game Show Cha$e.
  • Stephen Colbert often asks guests who hunt whether they do this.
  • The Avengers episode "The Superlative Seven".
  • An episode of the Logan's Run TV series had a bored husband and wife Crazy Survivalist types who enjoyed this sport. They've got quite the collection of ankh keys, indicating they'd killed about a half-dozen Runners before encountering Logan and Jess.
  • A non-lethal variant occurs the Have Gun — Will Travel episode "The Great Mojavo Chase". Paladin accepts a bet that he can avoid a team of man-hunters on their own turf for a certain period of time.
  • Dexter hunts people as a matter of course, but his idea of a really good time is to go after a killer who is hard to get at, able to put up a fight, or expecting a visit from him. e.g., a cop who killed her husband and daughter, a public figure with lots of bodyguards, a neo-nazi currently in prison but still giving orders to his minions on the outside, his friend and co-killer the district attorney, etc.
  • Babylon 5 is from an odd angle a quirky version of this. Both the Vorlons and the Shadows seem to have, in different ways, regarded themselves as gamekeepers and the Younger Races as stock that had to be culled from time to time. It is not about a chase scene per se, though.
  • CSI: Miami: "Hunting Ground".
  • Deathlands Homeward Bound. The mad Baron Harvey Cawdor enjoys this and ends up hunting Ryan and his True Companions, who are given only knives against mutant hunting dogs and Sec Men with assault rifles. Needless to say, the hunting party doesn't have a chance.
    "It's the Baron and his hunting party."
    "What are they hunting?"
    "Man, beast. Doesn't really matter."
  • Conversed in Community. Pierce believes it's Badass. Jeff, not so much.
    Jeff: Britta, you're not a whore. Shirley, Jesus turned the other cheek, he didn't garnish wages. Pierce, do I need to say this? IT IS WRONG TO HUNT MAN FOR SPORT.
  • In Red Dwarf episode Gunmen of the Apocalypse, a group of rogue simulants attempt to hunt the crew of Starbug. They even upgrade Starbug's armor and engines and fit it with a laser to make it more worthy prey.
  • A version in Lost Girl where a prisoner is given a chance for freedom by being the prey and the contestants for the position of the Ash (the local leader of the Light Fae) must kill them before they reach their symbol of freedom.
  • Top Gear riffed on this trope heavily when reviewing a new 4x4, which Jeremy put through its paces with the aid of a local Hunt and a scent-marker tied to the back bumper. He didn't quite manage to give them the slip, but it was a close-run thing.
  • In Falling Skies, Pope seems to view the alien invasion mainly as a chance to kill things that can fight back without attracting any legal attention.
  • Duncan plays the part in the Highlander ep. "Black Tower" as he is hunted by the Mooks of the Big Bad in an office building.
    • In "Patient Number 7", the Big Bad is shown to be an Egomaniac Hunter with a vast Trophy Room, who uses a lot of hunting metaphors when instructing his thugs to kill Kyra.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, the Wraith occasionally capture humans and, instead of feeding on them, release them as "Runners". Runners have a tracking device planted within their bodies and are hunted from planet to planet. They do it both for fun and to use the Runners to find any isolated groups of humans that might be hiding from the Wraith but might help a Runner, not knowing what's on his trail.
  • The '80s crime/action series Matt Houston had an episode in which a sporting-goods magnate hunted athletes in this manner.
  • In Heroes, Sylar hunts the brains of evolved humans.
    • And then there's Emil Danko, who is an operative of the US government. And although he doesn't hunt for fun, he does enjoy his job and hates the people he hunts.
  • In the Kraft Suspense Theatre episode "The Hunt", a Corrupt Hick sheriff occasionally allows inmates to escape from the local jail so he and his posse can have fun tracking and killing them.
  • The Scythians in Atlantis are bandits who capture travellers, take all their belongings, including weapons, then release them to be hunted.

    Magazines 

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Happens to Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin in "The Killing Ground" arc.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Not a literal example, but wrestler Monty Brown had a gimmick as a hunter from the Serengeti, referring to his opponents as "prey" and "big game".

    Radio Drama 
  • In The Shadow episode "Death in the Deep", a big-game hunter invokes this trope in a submarine, stalking ships and slaughtering their occupants for the thrill of it.
  • The Most Dangerous Game itself was adapted to radio several times, including on such series as Suspense (in a version starring Orson Welles as Zaroff) and Escape.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is the major shtick of The Hunt Club in Hunter: The Vigil. They're made up of a bunch of aristocrats who got tired of fox hunting and decided to try their hand at...different game. As they're a bunch of wealthy, well-connected individuals living in the World of Darkness, they also have the resources to make sure they never get caught.
    • The members of the Ashwood Abbey are of a similar make-up, only they do it using supernatural creatures (such as werewolves and vampires) and only after making sure they've "had their fun" with the critters first. The Hunt Club thinks they're pussies.
      • As are the Bear Lodge, who are an actual hunting lodge with their crosshairs on the supernatural, especially werewolves.
    • In Hunter: The Reckoning, this was actually one nickname given by Hunters to what they were doing.
  • One of the short stories in the Shadowrun novel Wolf & Raven features a woman from a similar bunch of jaded upper-crust hunters, who play out this trope on the streets of the Sprawl rather than in the wilderness. With cybernetic dogs to flush the game, no less.
    • Notable in that Wolf turns the tables on the hunt club, pointing out that if they don't cut it out and pay reparations to their victims' families, he'll tell every street-dweller in the Sprawl what they look like and what they've been doing and start passing out hunting licenses so the riffraff can hunt them. Needless to say, everybody who survives at all on the Shadowrun streets tends to be well-armed, so the hunters back off rather than confront prey that shoot back.
  • In the obscure Australian RPG Hunter Planet, players take on the role of alien hunters, enjoying the dangers and delights encountered hunting on a newly discovered hunter planet, called Dirt by its local semi-intelligent inhabitants.
  • The Priests of Malar in D&D's Forgotten Realms setting have an annual ritual called The High Hunt, which involves capturing a sentient being and releasing them into the wilderness to be hunted for sport.
  • Traveller. Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society #19 Amber Zone "Pride of the Lion". An anti-alien bigot captures a group of Aslan and organizes a hunt, with the Aslan as the quarry.

    Videogames 
  • One of the subquests of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion makes your character the prey of such a game...however, in the Tamriel setting, it really doesn't make much sense, since there's plenty of 'prey' around that's far more dangerous than any human. Ah well, it was still a fun mission.
    • Especially since you're technically inverting this trope, by hunting down the hunters.
  • The endgame of the Morrowind expansion Bloodmoon has such a situation, with the greatest warriors in the land as the prey, and a god as the hunter.
  • One mission in Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy also puts the player in the role of the hunted. You are locked in a cell, stripped of all your weapons, and then released to try to escape while a sadistic fat man blasts at you with a concussion rifle, because he's "never hunted a Jedi before." Your goal is to survive long enough to get to your ship, but when you reach the hangar, the hunter reveals he wasn't going to let you go anyway, and starts shooting at you from six stories up. Up until that point, even without your lightsaber, it's been pretty easy to just go through slaughtering the stormtroopers. Nope, this guy has to be killed from close-up or sniped somehow under horrible conditions, and either way, he keeps blasting the walkway out from underneath you.
  • The boss at the end of the "Bog of Murk" level in Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc is Razoff the Hunter, the son of Count Zaroff and a descendant of Nimrod and Artemis, who decides to hunt down Rayman, who wanders into Razoff's house.
  • Manhunt and its sequel Manhunt 2.
  • Deer Avenger and its sequels revolve around a bipedal, talking deer which hunts humans, especially hunters, in order to avenge his fellow deer which have been hunted.
  • Hitman: Contracts contains a level where the protagonist must rescue the potential victim of a human hunt from an English manor.
  • Inverted in Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, where Nigh Invulnerable vampire Walter Bernhardt kidnaps and converts the loved ones of strong humans to incite them to hunt him in his castle for his amusement, since they can't actually kill him...
  • Parodied in Psychonauts. There comes a point when Vernon is wandering around the cabin area purposefully, but at random. If you ask him what he's up to, he'll respond: "I'm hunting the most dangerous prey...man." It's a game of hide-and-seek.
  • Catfish, the driver of Hammerhead in Twisted Metal: Head-On, has this as his wish from Calypso: the chance to have a full-scale one-on-one hunt with another human. When he wins, he gets it, successfully stalking and aiming his rifle to shoot a decoy. Angered by this, he fails to realize that his wish was granted in a way he failed to forsee — his target (who turns out to be Calypso himself) was hunting him in return, and Catfish is duly killed and his head mounted on Calypso's wall.
  • Heavily implied in Heroes of Might and Magic V. One of the Inferno towns (where ammo carts are sold at a discounted price) is described as being the former home of Demon-Sovereign Kha-beleth, where the town's workers became particularly skilled at manufacturing ammunition to allow their lord to practise his favorite sport - hunting, preferably of two-legged prey.
  • A team of psychopaths referred to collectively as the Hunters in Dead Rising 2. They may or may not be Expies of the Halls from the first game, who themselves had shades of this that weren't played up as much as their Crazy Survivalist ones.
  • Bodhi in Baldur's Gate II loved that game.
  • Safari Jack, The Dragon of Stella the turtle poacher in Kingdom of Loathing, does this with your character if you play as a Turtle Tamer.
  • Ozzik Sturn from The Force Unleashed likes to release creatures into his preserve and hunt them for sport, often Wookies. When Starkiller runs into him, he goes, "A Jedi. I've always wanted to hunt one of your kind." and attacks him.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Hircine is at it again. This time he has sent out the call to hunters in Skyrim to hunt down and kill a rogue werewolf who stole his Ring. You can join in the hunt and skin the werewolf. Hircine will reward you by turning the skin into his Daedric Artifact the Cuirass of the Savior's Hide. You can instead side with the remorseful werewolf and hunt his hunters. Hircine will consider this a worthy hunt as well. In this case he will reward you by removing the curse from his Ring, turning it into an artifact that grants werewolves the power to transform multiple times a day.
  • Fallout 3 has random encounters with Wastelander-hunting cannibals, which will also attack the player if they stick around too long.
  • Sir You Are Being Hunted, funnily enough, has the player being hounded across a procedurally-generated archipelago by very British robots. True to the trope-naming story, however, it is quite possible to turn the tables in your pursuers.

    Webcomics 
  • Naturally, subverted by Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.
  • As of a recent Arc in The Wotch, it seems that a hunter has collected several creatures from other dimensions (no cameos, sorry), and Anne as well as Robin are involved.
  • In Dead Winter, a large group of rich people is apparently behind a game of world-renowned assassins hunting each other for sport, with the assassins and their sponsors getting the bounty when they kill one of the other participants. Apparently, not all of the assassins are in the game because they want to be.
  • In Our Little Adventure, Bruce Moriatos of The Empire has organized a 'practice dungeon' where low level soldiers can train for 'real world experience.' The Souballo Empire often capture Elves and dump them in the dungeon for the trainees to fight and kill.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dragon Jake Long episode "The Hunted".
  • Parodied in an episode of Johnny Bravo, where the hunter was constantly annoyed by Johnny's inability to survive in the wilderness or even find a decent hiding place.
  • One of the "Dial M For Monkey" vignettes from Dexter's Laboratory featured this. It's a parody of Predator, complete with Monkey stripping himself and preparing primitive traps to defeat the hunter.
  • Rainier Wolfcastle expresses his desire to hunt his fellow man in an episode of The Simpsons, having bought the local YMCA to tear it down and use the land as a hunting ground. After Lenny says he's taking home a basketball that belongs to the court, Rainier is shown grabbing a gun to and chasing after him, so it looks like he was serious.
    • A later "Treehouse of Horror" skit ("Survival of the Fattest") had Mr. Burns doing this. He even televises it, complete with sports commentators and guest analyst Terry Bradshaw.
    Terry: (watching as Mr Burns repeatedly shoots the already-dead Krusty) Aw, you hate to see that! That's the kind of showboating that'll turn people off this sport.
  • The Mighty Ducks had an episode involving a hunter played by David Hyde Pierce and a bunch of robotic animals menacing the Ducks.
  • The Birdman episode "Hannibal the Hunter" pitted Birdman against the titular hunter. Amusingly, the villain crows that he has "succeeded where all others have failed" by capturing Birdman, evidently unaware that he is captured roughly every other episode.
  • One episode of Samurai Jack featured Aku sending a team of intergalactic hunters after Jack. After a long, arduous chase, they finally subdue him...then let him go, respecting the challenge he presented.
  • In the Thundercats episode "Safari Joe", the title character is a big game hunter who goes after the heroes. And he does so with gusto.
  • In the Galaxy Rangers episode "The Power Within", the heroes find themselves in this situation, with the added twist that the villain removes the Rangers' badges to prevent them from accessing their Applied Phlebotinum powers. The episode's dialogue uses the phrase "most dangerous game" as a Shout-Out.
  • Batman Beyond had the Stalker, an African hunter whose spine had to be cybernetically replaced after a run-in with a jungle cat, granting him such unnatural strength that he was able to exact his revenge with his bare hands and soon tired of hunting normal animals. His intro episode had him playing this trope with the show's titular character, believing him to be the inheritor of some sort of "bat totem" that would be the ultimate test of his strength.
  • Danny Phantom has the villain Skulker chasing the hero and his rival/enemy in conjunction with the Egg Sitting plot.
  • The American Dad! episode "The Vacation Goo" had the Smiths (and the busty activities director who wanted to bed Steve) end up on an island that looks like this. In the end, it turns out to just be a theme park attraction where the "hunters" use paintball guns. Of course, the Smiths don't learn this until after they spent three days hiding in a cave and had to eat the girl to survive.
    • In an amusing Shout-Out, one of the men is dressed as Spider-Man antagonist Kraven the Hunter (see above).
  • In an episode of The Transformers, a big-game hunter decides that he wants Optimus Prime's head hanging on his wall.
  • The Kids Next Door episode "Operation S.A.F.A.R.I".
  • The Di Gata Defenders episode "Hunter and the Hunted".
  • In Frisky Dingo, Xander Crews goes on an annual hunting trip where he kills, skins, and eats a mother panda, which he claims to be ''the most dangerous game.
  • The Critic - In one of the running gags during the main credits, Jay's boss Duke calls him, inviting Jay to his ranch upon the news that Duke has received a license to hunt man. Jay is advised to bring "comfortable shoes".
  • Roger Ramjet and his sidekicks meet up with one of these hunters. They deduce that the hunter is, in fact, afraid of animals, and they defeat him by wearing animal costumes. Ramjet wears a bunny suit. It works.
  • The Super Globetrotters episode "The Super Globetrotters vs. Bwana Bob".
  • An arc of Star Wars: The Clone Wars revolves around this, with Ahsoka being captured by Trandoshans, dropped in the middle of a jungle, and hunted down along with several others.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man did this with Kraven again, although Kraven was also hired by the Master Planner to "hunt" Spider-Man. Kraven's first battle with Spider-Man was a bust, given that Spider-Man had superpowers while Kraven was just a Badass Normal. The second half of Kraven's debut episode centres around him gaining superhuman powers of his own derived from deadly predator animals to even the odds against Spidey.
  • Comes up in the episode "El Contador" of Archer, with Archer and Lana being hunted by a South American drug lord and...Cyril (long story). Archer, being who he is, hears the phrase "The Most Dangerous Game" and replies, "Jai-Alai?".
  • In an episode of Futurama, Bender frees the robot fox from a New Jersey fox hunt, so the hunt master decides that they will hunt Bender instead, declaring him to be "the most dangerous game, apart from lawn darts."
  • Done in one of the early episodes of Family Guy when the last game during a company picnic involved the employees being hunted by their boss, Mr. Weed. Of course in this case, he was just using tranquilizers and the object of the game was to be the last man standing. Peter wins as he managed stay on his feet despite being hit by multiple tranqs and only dropped after he was declared the winner.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: Catwoman does this to Batman and Robin in the teaser to "Shadow of the Bat!".
  • Phineas and Ferb does this in the episode "Primal Perry," where Perry and Doofenshmirtz must escape a platypus hunter named Liam who is chasing them through the Botanical Gardens.
  • Professor Pyg and Mister Toad practise this in Beware the Batman, rounding up corrupt businessmen who've damaged nature in some way and hunting them.
  • The Pack does this to Lexington and Goliath in an early episode of Gargoyles. A bit of a subversion, as the "most dangerous game" in this case was gargoyles rather than humans.

    Real Life 
  • It was not only legal, but encouraged to do this against Native Americans during the Gold Rush. Many communities in California offered rewards of something around $25 for a male body part - or the whole body - and $5 for a child or a woman.
    • The Natives killed both whites and each other too, for much of their history, but this was more a case of intertribal warfare rather than a paid extermination bounty. The best warriors and slayers of men from rival tribes got the most status within their own tribe.
  • Robert Hansen, a serial killer who was active in the early 1980s, would kidnap women and then release them in the Knik River Valley in Alaska. He would then hunt them, armed with a knife and a Ruger Mini-14 rifle. The films The Naked Fear and The Frozen Ground were based on him.
  • In one of his decoded letters, the Zodiac Killer wrote, "I like killing people because it is so much fun it is more fun than killing wild game in the forrest because man is the most dangeroue anamal of all".
  • Semi-related, but before leaving home and going on a shooting spree, James Oliver Huberty was asked by his wife where he was going. His response was simply "hunting humans".
  • Paintball, airsoft, and lasertag enable people to hunt The Most Dangerous Game without inflicting serious injury, at least not as long as all participants follow the safety briefing.
  • Humans vs. Zombies - Arguably, once you're a zombie, the game really begins...
  • One of the substitutes for fox hunting that has become mildly popular in Britain is to chase a runner instead. A runner who is competing totally of their own free will, I hasten to add, and who is not harmed in any way.
  • Invoked in the Battle Cry of fighter pilots "Tally-ho". Similarly the Germans used "Horrido"(literally "victory") which is an old German hunting call.

Henchmen RaceA Slave to the IndexI Die Free
Hunting AccidentBig Trope HuntingMage Killer
Humor DissonanceThis Index Is A JokeIf I Had a Nickel
Human ChessAction Adventure TropesIf You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten
How the Character Stole ChristmasWhole Plot ReferenceIt's a Wonderful Plot
Humble BeginningsImageSource/Western AnimationWestern Animation

alternative title(s): Hunt The Most Dangerous Game
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