Never Smile at a Crocodile
Everyone knows that sharks are bad news
. They make the sea a scary, dangerous place. However, they live (mostly) in the sea, so that means rivers and lakes are safe. Right?
Enter the crocodile!
Crocodiles in fiction (as well as alligators, gharials
, and other close relations) tend to be huge, green monsters always looking for the next meal, lurking in rivers, swamps and sometimes in castle's moats
. They have a powerful bite, and hard skin which make them hard to hurt. Furthermore, they're reptiles
, which tends to make them even more despicable if possible.
Worthy of note is the earlier comparison to the Threatening Shark
. Whereas anyone knowledgeable about sharks can tell you how little Truth in Television
there is in the way they're usually depicted in media, this trope is much more justified
. Unlike sharks, large crocodilians will actively hunt people as a food source, and have no aversion to the taste of human flesh. Works of fiction will still inevitably find ways of exaggerating these attributes
, of course.
The trope is sometimes subverted by making the croc a comedic glutton or a Cool Pet
. Alligators are more likely to be portrayed in a positive light than crocodiles are, though they are still prone to this trope.
See also Threatening Shark
, Shark Pool
, and Reptiles Are Abhorrent
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Anime and Manga
- Averted (well not really) in 52 by Sobek, the gentle Big Eater humanoid crocodile experiment who quickly befriends Black Adam's family.
- Batman: Killer Croc. Depending on the Writer, he's a man with a serious skin disease which happens to make him look very reptilian, a full-blown crocodile man thanks to a severe case of genetic atavism, or anything in between.
- Blacksad: The hired killer in the third book is a gavial.
- One early Cattivik story involves a large Nile Crocodile attempting to eat the eponymous character, but without much success.
- In Tintin in the Congo, Tintin is tied up by The Heavy over a river and left to be eaten by crocodiles. Later the two have a confrontation and fall over a cliff into a river. Tintin is saved by the back of a hippopotamus, but The Heavy lands in the water and is eaten by crocodiles.
- In Prisoners of the Sun, Tintin and the Captain come across a river. Tintin believes it to be full of logs, which, of course, are all alligators.
- In Tintin and the Picaros, the amnesiac Captain Haddock wanders into a swamp, attracting the attention of a caiman. It silently approaches...and then is attacked by an anaconda, allowing the captain to get out.
- The Vault of Horror: The story "That's a 'Croc'" involves man-eating crocodiles who are provided a steady supply of victims by a crazed zookeeper. When he climbs into the crocodile pit, expecting his beloved crocs to protect him from the angered townspeople, they promptly make a meal of him too.
- Seemingly every story featuring Corrupt Hicks set in a bayou has them raise alligators as a way to dispose of evidence (Jonah Hex, The Punisher MAX...)
Films — Animated
- Subversion: the original Big Lipped Alligator Moment from All Dogs Go to Heaven. When the gargantuan alligator is about to devour the hero, he's surprised by his voice and spares him. He even gets to eat the Big Bad later.
- Yzma secretly owns a pit full of crocodiles beneath Kuzco's palace in The Emperor's New Groove.
- The crocodile from Peter Pan (see "Literature" below for more about that film) actually made a brief cameo in the 1960 Disney animated short Goliath II.
- Cretaceous from Ice Age: The Meltdown is a Metriorhynchus, a fish-like crocodilian.
- Before finally settling on a beaver, Tramp from Lady and the Tramp actually wants an alligator at a zoo to get Lady's muzzle off her face. He realizes what a bad idea it is just in time.
- One of the two antagonists of The Land Before Time IV: Journey Through The Mists is a half-blind Deinosuchus named Dil. Despite the mutual hatred (their Villain Song is titled "Who Needs You?") between her and her Ichthyornis (prehistoric seagull) partner-in-crime, Ichy, the two stick together, with Ichy having grown dependent on Dil's macropredatory status, and Dil having grown dependent on Icky's keen eyesight. At the end of the film, Dil finally gets fed up with Ichy and forcibly dismisses him — only to immediately collide with an irritable plesiosaur and be chased away as she calls for Ichy's help.
- Another prehistoric crocodile, presumably a Sarcosuchus, appears in The Great Longneck Migration, where it almost eats an inattentive Littlefoot. Fortunately, a Supersaurus rescues him. Later, it tries to eat Littlefoot's friends, but it fails yet again.
- In The LEGO Movie, threatening crocodiles (with police lights attached to them, suggesting they work for the villains) are seen lurking in the river below the train tracks in "The Old West", and Emmett, Wyldstyle, and Vitruvius nearly wind up in the river with them when Bad Cop destroys the train tracks. Thankfully, Batman appears and saves them.
- The Lion King: Averted in the first movie, where the only crocodiles who appear are part of a musical number. Played straight in the sequel, where Kovu and Kiara are in danger of being eaten by crocodiles.
- The title character of Megamind has crocodiles living inside his lair.
- One of the animals Gus the raincloud made in ''Partly Cloudy'' is a crocodile.
- Subverted with Louie the alligator in The Princess and the Frog. All he wants to do is play jazz, but of course the humans only see a giant gator trying to get close to them (never mind that it's playing a trumpet). Played straight with the other bad alligators.
- In The Rescuers, the main villain possesses two pet gators. In the sequel, the climax includes several crocodiles. And a waterfall.
- In The Swan Princess, Swan Lake has many flowers, but Jean-Bob the frog wants to fetch the flowers in the middle of the lake, past two hungry alligators, to give to Odette. If she finds that he's risked his life to give them to her, he reasons, she'll be impressed and kiss him, and then he will turn into a prince.
- The same alligators pose a real threat later, when Odette's friends must free her and Bromley from the dungeon below Swan Lake.
- The first animal Mad Madam Mim turned into during the Wizard Duel from The Sword in the Stone is a pink crocodile.
- In The Thief and the Cobbler, Zigzag tames One-Eye's crocodiles when he's thrown into a pit with them the first time, but once his evil plan fails and he has nothing to give the crocodiles, they eat him.
Films — Live-Action
- The second Ace Ventura has him surviving an attempt on his life plummeting off a high waterfall. He breaks the surface, exulting "I'm alive!!!", while a huge crocodile looms up behind him. Ace, animal lover that he is, treats the ensuing attack like a playful slap-fight.
- In Adaptation, John Laroche is killed by an alligator that comes out of nowhere.
- Alligator and its sequel are basically Jaws, but with a giant alligator.
- Alligators were used in an experimental healing treatment to restore lost limbs in The Alligator People, and now the patients subjected to it are turning into the eponymous creatures. While one 'gator has to be wrestled, the main threat actually comes from an alcoholic handyman who hates the things.
- Crocodile and its sequel both feature giant crocodiles killing those responsible for messing with their young. The first film is directed by Tobe Hooper, who was also behind Eaten Alive.
- The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course is half-documentary, half-action-movie that pits Steve Irwin against the Central Intelligence Agency because a crocodile that he's relocating has swallowed a beacon containing secret American government technology. The crocodile, this being a Steve Irwin film, is no more dangerous than it would be in real life.
- Dark Age has a giant crocodile terrorizing the Australian outback.
- The titular monster in DinoCroc was a mix of Sarcosuchus (an extinct species of large crocodilian) and an unspecified dinosaur. In practice, it was basically a Spinosaurid dinosaur that swam like a crocodile.
- The crazy hotel owner in Eaten Alive feeds customers to his pet crocodile Rocky.
- After the tourist boat crashes in Hatchet, one of the tourists is attacked by an alligator.
- Indiana Jones
- James Bond
- In Live and Let Die, we have Bond about to be fed alive to crocodiles. Of course, nobody stays there to watch him die, so James simply runs across the water, using their backs as stepping stones, and escapes to shore!
- The trope comes into play again in Octopussy, as Bond and a bad guy are attacked by a crocodile when their fight becomes waterbound, and the only emerging victor is the crocodile. It's Bond's crocodile-submersible he used to get to the island in the first place.
- When the monsoon floods Alan's house in Jumanji, the protagonists are attacked by a crocodile, so Alan fights it and miraculously survives. It's sucked out into the street when the front door is broken up and swims past Carl and Aunt Nora, scaring them to no end.
- Killer Crocodile has a giant crocodile, which may have been mutated by toxic waste, eating anything it can (mostly people) on a stretch of South American river. The film was shot back-to-back with its sequel Killer Crocodile 2, which featured the offspring of the previous film's croc causing havoc of its own.
- Several B-movies involving large crocodiles haunting sewers or mountain lakes, especially Lake Placid.
- The Chinese film Million Dollar Crocodile features a giant man-eating crocodile swallowing a purse full of money, á la Kangaroo Jack.
- The lethally jealous Eric Gorman in Murders in the Zoo, who had been killing men who got too friendly with his wife Evelyn, eventually kills her too when she threatens to expose his crimes by dumping her into an alligator pond of a local zoo.
- Primeval was a film centering around a real-life 20+ foot long crocodile named Gustave.
- The Syfy original Ragin Cajun Redneck Gators featured gators mutated by blue moonshine... and weregators.
- Australian film Rogue has a bunch of tourists getting stranded on a small islet in the middle of a river and being under attack by a huge crocodile. There's even the trope-naming song playing during the end credits.
- The MacGuffin in Romancing the Stone is temporarily lost when a crocodile swallows it along with the Big Bad's hand. Jack Colton gives chase after it, and returns in the final scene with boots made from crocodile-hide.
- That Man From Rio: Adrian pursues his girlfriend's kidnappers by light plane deep into the Amazon. The bad guys set down on the river in their seaplane, but he has nowhere to land. He bails out, and ends up in a forest, dangling just above the water, a hungry crocodile waiting below.
- One of the Alex Rider novels, Crocodile Tears, has the villain force Alex to hang from a bar while a group of crocodiles wait below, ready to eat Alex when he eventually tires and drops.
- Earlier than that, in Skeleton Key, a gang of black-marketeers attempt to blackmail the Big Bad, so he tricks them into crashing their plane into a swamp, where they are attacked by crocodiles.
- In the novel Amazon, at one point the heroes have to face two colossal caimans in a lake.
- A crocodile is more or less the main antagonist in The Reaction, the twelfth book of the Animorphs series. Though it's really three different threats — the first croc Rachel has to save a kid from, the croc DNA which she is lamentably allergic to, and then the fully-grown crocodile she expels from her body and has to fight at the end. The fight with it ends up being brutal; even Rachel can't beat it. Fortunately Ax shows up, and quickly cuts the thing in half.
- During Dinoverse, Mike and Bertram, in the bodies of a Tyrannosaurus rex and an Ankylosaurus, respectively, get on the bad side of a prehistoric crocodile far, far larger than they are and considerably more than a match for them even in tandem. The Monster Is a Mommy protecting her babies and not evil, though — she hangs on with her massive jaws without biting down, sends the message hold still, and lets them go when they signal that they'll leave the family alone.
- In Discworld, Pyramids, when the gods of Djelibeybi manifest and start brawling in the streets, a crowd of dismayed priests gather to argue about what's going on. Whenever one of them says anything that might give offense to any of the gods, the rest throw the injudicious speaker into the river to be eaten by crocodiles.
- Offler the Crocodile God is a mild aversion; he seems slightly better than most of the Jerkass Gods on Discworld. (In a few of his appearances, he has questioned the intentions of other gods who were being bigger jerks than usual, is horrified by Nuggan, who is the king of petty jerkishness among the gods on Discworld, and the narration essentially states that unlike many other gods, Offler has never quite comprehended the idea of causing humans pain for no reason other than fun.) And while you might expect his worshipers to keep a bunch of man-eaters nearby, they instead keep a baby alligator pool in their temple.
- Peter Pan has the large sea crocodile who ate Captain Hook's hand (and a clock) and now is looking for the rest of the dish. The Trope Namer is a Cut Song from the Disney version, which showed up in a Disney Sing-Along Songs video (specifically Volume 6: Under the Sea).
- In the film Hook, he manages to kill it and turns it into a clock tower, and it still gives him nightmares ("Tick-tock tick-tock, Hook afraid of an old dead croc!"). In the end, it manages to fall on Captain Hook and eats him whole.
- The Croc shows up in the Disney version as well, but unlike the book, where the Croc is singlemindedly vicious towards Hook, the Disney Croc is content to simply mess with Hook, though as the ending shows, he will happily take a bite out of Hook if the opportunity presents itself.
- The gamebook Quest for the Cities of Gold: The protagonist ends up in the Florida swamps at one point, and while exploring along with an Indian boy, they end up attacked by alligators. The boy escapes, while the protagonist time-travels his way out of there.
- The Mugger of Mugger-Ghaut in Rudyard Kipling's Second Jungle Book story "The Undertakers". The accompanying poem "A Ripple Song" demonstrates what happens when you don't watch out for concealed crocs.
- Also in Just So Stories, a crocodile pulls the baby elephant's nose (thereby creating its trunk) in "The Elephant's Child".
- Much to their horror, Stephanie and Lula have to deal with a drug dealer's pet alligator, Mr. Jingles, in Sizzling Sixteen.
- In Spirit Animals, the Bond Creature of the legendary tyrant known as the Devourer was a saltwater crocodile, the only one ever recorded. For this reason, crocs are among the most abhorred of creatures in Erdras. And now he's returned, and he's still bonded to a crocodile.
- In the third book, the Devourer sends hundreds of Ax-Crazy mutant crocodiles at the heroes.
- In Carl Hiaasen's Tourist Season, several characters are eaten by a North American crocodile named Pavlov, who has escaped into the wild.
- In an episode of Bones, the heroes found the Victim of the Week by finding a foot inside a gator in the Florida Everglades.
- Gator Boys: The title characters catch nuisance gators and run a gator-wrestling show to finance their gator refuge; Paul's been injured on-screen at least once, when a gator snapped at his head.
- In Red Dwarf, Ace Rimmer's Nazi enemy has a crocodile for a pet, keeping it on his lap and stroking it affectionately, parodying Blofeld's Right-Hand Cat. He throws it at Ace and jumps out of the plane they're on, but Ace overpowers it and proceeds to "surf" on it in free fall.
- In an episode of The X-Files, Mulder and Scully were hunting The Stock Ness Monster, but it turned out to be just an everyday, run of the mill killer crocodile. However, at the end of the episode, it is revealed that the monster is real, but it's not a threat.
- In Egyptian Mythology, Sobek is a complex example. He could be quite benevolent at times, but also quite vengeful and brutal at other times. Egyptologists consider this to be that fact that he was associated with the Nile, which both provided water and irrigation but could also flood and drown people. Modern portrayals, however, mostly cast him as the villain.
- There is also the demoness Ammit, who had the head of a crocodile (amongst a lion's mane & frontquarters and the hindquarters of a hippopotamus). Her job was to devour souls found unworthy of eternal life when weighed against the feather of Ma'at.
- Another Egyptian gem: the werecrocodile.
- The Wani in Japanese lore are huge sea dragons resembling crocodiles. The daughter of Ryuujin Otohime reverted to her Wani form after giving birth to the emperor.
- In some Aztec myths, the world was made from the corpse of a gigantic crocodile-like monster who ate Tezcalipoca's leg.
- The Far Side occasionally subverts this. In one strip, a bunch of crocodiles gather around a little old lady who feeds them rats, making it clear that they are her beloved pets. In another one, a crocodile visits a therapist because he's been eating the little birds that perch on him, and he knows that's not normal behavior for a crocodile. In yet another strip, a crocodile/alligator appears outside a couple's house, and the wife is more concerned with figuring out whether it's an alligator or a crocodile.
- One piece of Christian imagery is people attacked by a crocodile — the crocodile representing Hell, and its victims sinners.
- Alternate translations of the Old Testament depict both Moses and the Pharaoh's priests turning their staffs into crocodiles, not snakes.
- The various editions of Dungeons & Dragons have had both regular size and giant crocodiles.
- Module U2 Danger at Dunwater. The PCs can encounter ordinary crocodiles as wandering monsters in the marshes. It's possible that the PCS may be sent to kill a giant crocodile that's been threatening the lizard men.
- Module EX1 Dungeonland. If the PCs go around the Pool of Tears, they'll be attacked by a giant crocodile.
- The darklord of the Wildlands, an African-flavored Ravenloft domain, is a gigantic crocodile.
- Some of Chaosium's Basic Roleplaying System games had crocodiles.
- Stormbringer had both small and large crocodilians. The PCs could encounter them if they went through "The Hall of Risk" adventure in the Stormbringer Companion supplement.
- Call of Cthulhu had crocodiles of all sizes. They could be encountered as wandering monsters in the "Valley of the Four Shrines" adventure in The Second Cthulhu Companion supplement.
- The Freedom City sourcebook for 2E Mutants & Masterminds, Freedom's Most Wanted, includes The Alien-Gator, who is an advanced alien stranded in the Florida Everglades who has turned savage and bestial after long mistreatment by humans.
- Tower of God's Rak Wraithraiser is a giant humanoid alligator who hunts down Baam to fight him. He later becomes part of the main cast. He calls everyone "turtles" and is extremely loyal and caring if you're able to gain his respect. He is also a Tsundere who is totally not helping you because he cares.
- Only six of the twenty-three species of crocodilians are a threat to humans. Nevertheless, of all the world's large predatory animals, crocodilians are responsible for killing more humans than any other. As opposed to sharks, which typically attack humans in cases of mistaken identity or simple curiosity, or predatory mammals such as lions which only resort to maneating in times of desperation, crocodiles are indiscriminate and view humans as a natural food source. One prehistoric relative of the modern Nile Crocodile, Crocodylus anthropophagus, earned its name because its bite marks have been found on fossils of ancient hominids, indicating that it preyed on them.
- Australia, land of Everything Trying to Kill You, has the saltwater crocodile, the largest living reptile in existence. It can be found 200 miles out at sea. Yes, it eats sharks.
- Their population goes beyond Australia. Lolong, the largest and longest specimen in captivity (as of 2012) at over 20 feet was caught in the Philippines. There are possibly larger ones loose out there. Sleep tight, kids!
- The Florida Everglades. There are stories that alligators finished off some of the survivors of the once-infamous Flight 401 crash, and at least one Urban Legend that local Seminole Indians once "introduced" some overly-bold Klansmen looking to pound some "Injuns" to the local gators.
- Gustave, a semi-legendary crocodile in Africa who may have killed upwards of 300 people. And Nile crocodiles in general, really. Because they were revered by ancient Egyptians for thousands of years, and it was punishable by death to even touch one, the crocs got wise, and are now one of the few species of animals that will deliberately stalk, hunt, and eat humans with direct intent as opposed to incidentally. Essentially, the Egyptians smiled at the crocodiles for so long, the crocs are smiling back.
- Gustave is so bad, this Cracked article calls him the physical manifestation of hatred. No wonder no one has been able to kill him yet!
- The last sighting of him was in February 2008. So either his various wounds caught up with him, or he's become much better at hiding.
- It's also worth noting that Nile crocodiles generally live around 45-50 years in the wild. Gustave was estimated to be around 60 years old in 2004. This makes him around 70 years old as of 2014. If he's still alive, he's lived longer than most crocodiles in the area. If not, then he likely just died of old age. Dead or alive, Gustave is the crocodile version of a Badass Grandpa.
- Gustave has also been documented hunting and eating hippos. To put things into perspective, hippos are known to be able to bite a crocodile in half with their powerful tusks and jaws. Because of this, most crocodiles generally avoid hippos and rarely hunt them. And, when they do, it's out of desperation and often are either infants or very sick adults. Gustave, on the other hand? He's been known to hunt and eat healthy adult hippos.
- During the Battle of Ramree Island in WWII, a group of Japanese soldiers were forced into a mangrove swamp infested with saltwater crocodiles by attacking British forces. It's unknown exactly how many were actually killed by crocs, since many were also reportedly felled by tropical diseases and poisonous animal bites/stings, as well as the British troops marching along the edge of the swamp killing any human that tried to escape.
- There are several Urban Legends regarding gators in the sewers.
- If you thought modern crocodiles were bad enough, you haven't met the prehistoric crocodylomorphs. We have the terrestrial "boar-croc" Kaprosuchus; the terrestrial Sebecids, able to compete with theropod dinosaurs (and surviving up until far more recently); the rauisuchids and poposaurids, who invented the Tyrannosaurus rex look while dinosaurs were still chasing bugs (and even came close to it in size); the marine thalattosuchians, of whom one of them (Dakosaurus) was nicknamed "Godzilla" for good reason, the 11-metre long alligator Deinosuchus, 12-metre long Sarcosuchus, and Aegisuchus, with a total estimated body length of 15-21 metres... Add to that animals that made their living as giant browsers and filter-feeding whales far before those existed, and you have an incredibly impressive and diverse group.
- The spinosaurid dinosaurs sufficiently evoke the crocodilian imagery: their heads and jaws are remarkably similar to those of crocodiles, and paleontologists agree that a significant part of their diet consisted of very large fish. One genus's name, Suchomimus, even means "crocodile mimic". By that token, mosasaurs and to a lesser extent pliosaurs superficially resembled fully aquatic oceanic crocodiles, although they weren't even archosaurs, but lepidosauromorphs.
- Anyone ever heard of Joe Ball, The Alligator Man?
- Crocodile Monitor Lizards have that name for a reason; they're almost the size of Komodo dragons, they're strong, intelligent, and venomous, and their heads resemble those of crocodiles. (Sadly, they don't actually monitor crocodiles.)
- Partially averted at least once by most species of crocodile. For example, saltwater crocodiles blow bubbles to potential mates, and spectacled caimans will wait for straggling baby caimans to catch up if they lag behind. Hell, quite a few species have been recorded, in the wild and in captivity, willingly consuming fruits (such as alligator apples, watermelons, and Phylodendron-genus fruits); as well as setting traps, climbing trees, and being as smart as the average domestic dog.
- Averted with Simosuchus. It was a strange prehistoric crocodile that lived on land, had a short snout, and happened to be an herbivore.
- In general, it's a very bad idea to get too close to a baby crocodile or a nest of crocodile eggs. Crocodiles are very protective mothers.