"Seid ihr das Essen? Nein, wir sind die Jäger!" noteThe hunter is usually the one pursuing the prey, be it a literal example of one hunting animals or the Villain relentlessly hunting his victim in a sporting example of Hunting the Most Dangerous Game. But in some cases, the hunted gains resolve or the upper hand and turns the tables on his pursuer, turning the hunter into the hunted. Once the victim pulls this off, the hunter's game falls apart, and he will be forced to recognize his victim as an actual threat to him. The turnaround embodied in this trope usually signifies that the hero will soon defeat the villains and put an end to his twisted game. This trope has roots as far back as Greek Mythology, where a quite literal hunter, Actaeon, is transformed into a deer by Artemis and eventually torn apart by his own dogs. Vampire Hunters and Demon Slayers live by this trope in a supernatural context, since vampires and demons are often portrayed as predators of human beings, and human beings tend not to like being prey. Adventure stories and thrillers frequently invert the trope, telling the story from the point of view of the hunted one who becomes the hunter. This is especially the case in stories where the hunter is not a single person, but a conspiracy; here the intended prey has to solve the mystery of who is attacking them and why, and then find out who belongs to the conspiracy and whom they can trust as allies to help bring it down. See also Egomaniac Hunter, Evil Poacher, Hunter of His Own Kind, Hunting the Most Dangerous Game, and Serial-Killer Killer.
— Attack on Titan (Opening #1, "Guren no Yumiya")
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Anime & Manga
- Attack on Titan is about humanity being hunted to the brink of extinction by the eponymous Titans, and the humans fighting back and hunting them in return.
Seid ihr das Essen? Nein, wir sind die Jäger! note
- One episode of Domo features a hungry bear attempting to catch and eat Domo for a meal. However, the tables are turned when Domo gets hungry and then proceeds to pursue the bear to eat him.
- In the first season of Dragon Ball Z, Gohan was left in the wilderness by Piccolo as part of his Training from Hell. A ferocious T-rex like dinosaur tries to eat him. As Gohan becomes stronger, the tables get turned. Gohan eventually chases down the dinosaur every day and chops off a piece of its tail for breakfast. By the end, the dinosaur's tail is all but gone and it is terrified of Gohan.
- Jade in Webwork spends most of eight years in a demon dimension trying to avoid being eaten by all the other inhabitants. Near the end of her stay and the completion of her transformation into a Spider-Demon, she is the one doing the hunting and the others are scared to come near her.
- In the Worm x Bloodborne crossover, Hunter, Father Gascoigne shows Taylor how it looks from the other end of the Hunt.
This was a nightmare, one determined to repeat itself. Any time I left the Dream, he found me. He could smell me, track me through the streets, and every time I fled he ran me down. I screamed, he snarled. I pleaded, begged, cried. He didn't care. It was all just animal noise, to him.
- Predator and Predator 2 provide a perfect example, as the consummate trophy hunter/Proud Warrior Race Guy alien stalks and kills dozens of dangerous, deadly men, only for one of his would-be victims to Take a Level in Badass and begin to hunt him in exactly the same fashion.
- Westworld. The tourist being hunted by the gunslinger android eventually turns the tables on him and destroys him.
- At the end of Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later, Laurie turns the tables on Michael Myers and starts hunting him down with an axe.
- Das Boot is this trope in spades. U-96 is on patrol to intercept Allied ships but winds up being hunted by destroyers left and right.
- The trope is a common staple in the films of Fritz Lang and Alfred Hitchcock. Lang for instance played the trope straight in M and the Dr. Mabuse films, while in Die Spinnen and Spione he used the inversion, as did Hitchcock e. g. in North By Northwest and To Catch a Thief.
- The Fugitive: Another example of the inverted trope, with the added complication that most of the hunting is done by the police and FBI, not the people actually responsible for the murder of Mrs. Kimble. However, Dr. Kimble escapes and ultimately manages to turn the tables.
- The Net, in which a lone computer programmer starts out being pursued by a seemingly all-powerful conspiracy but finally hunts down its leader. Angela Bennet's switch from hunted to hunter in the final act is very pronounced.
- In The Searchers the role of hunter and hunted switch several times between Ethan Edwards and Chief Scar throughout the course of the movie.
Live Action TV
- Star Trek: Voyager once had the crew give hologram technology to aliens called the Hirogen, so they could practice their hunting skills without killing people. The Hirogen made the holograms both sentient and capable of learning, so they could adapt and become better prey to hunt. As you've probably deduced, the holograms got sick of this, Turned Against Their Masters and eventually lured several Hirogen to a toxic planet to give them a taste of their own medicine.
- They also kidnapped Voyager's holographic doctor, who was initially sympathetic but changed his mind quite rapidly when it became obvious that a Full-Circle Revolution was going down, and the ringleader had started murdering innocent bystanders to boot.
- Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Obsession". Kirk has the Enterprise pursue the vampire cloud creature. Eventually, the creature gets fed up with this: it turns and attacks the Enterprise.
Spock: May I suggest that we no longer belabor the question of whether or not we should have gone after the creature. The matter has now been rendered academic. The creature is now after us.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Masks" has a ritual in which the Moon God (Korgano) chases the Sun God (Masaka) out of the sky, and then the roles are reversed, forever.
- Charlie's Angels episode "Angel Hunt". A vengeful man lures the Angels to a deserted island to be hunted, but they start hunting him.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Played with all the time in seeing as Buffy is always a potential victim, but is, well...a vampire slayer.
- Spike killed two Slayers prior to the series.
- In The Outer Limits (1995) episode "The Hunt", the plot involves an illegal android hunt. The androids are prevented by inhibitor chips from harming humans. That is, until they find plans for their bodies in a shack and proceed to remove their inhibitors. They kill several hunters but are ultimately gunned down, except for one who manages to escape.
- In the paranormal documentary Creepy Canada, a team of ghost hunters search for the ghost of a sailor named Jem Horner who died in the 19th century. During the investigation, they were surrounded by a cold mist and strange noises prompting one of the ghost hunters to say that they have, at that point, become the hunted.
- Heroes: Matt Parkman goes after Emil Danko, a.k.a. The Hunter, who had abducted him and strapped him to a bomb - but only after Danko causes the death of Matt's girlfriend Daphne Millbrook.
- "The Most Dangerous Game". A big-game hunter falls off a yacht and finds refuge on an island that is home to a Russian aristocrat. This aristocrat is also a highly-skilled big game hunter. So highly skilled that he's hunted just about every animal and quickly became bored with simply hunting them all over again. So he forces the people who get shipwrecked on his island into a "game" in which he hunts them. The aristocrat is another example, since his "prey" sneaks into his home to ambush him.
- Firestar from Warrior Cats thinks of this after Brightpaw and Swiftpaw were attacked by a pack of vicious dogs.
- In Rogue Male the protagonist goes from being a cool aristocrat stalking his human prey (a European dictator) with a rifle to being a hunted animal, literally driven to earth in a den he had dug as a last refuge.
- Seraphina starts shortly after the death of Goreddi Prince Rufus, who is killed after going off on his own during a hunting expedition.
- In The Millennium Trilogy this trope applies to... well, anybody who tries to victimize Lisbeth Salander. The earliest example is advocate Nils Bjurman, her legal guardian, who is under impression that Lisbeth is a mentally retarded, helpless young woman whom he can assault whenever he can. Unfortunately for him, after he rapes her, she returns to his apartment with a taser, chains him to his bed, rapes him back, reveals she has a tape showing his rape on her, gives him a tattoo saying that he is a rapist and a scumbag, and proceeds to use blackmail to keep him in check until the end of his sorry life. Bjurman actually has an Oh Crap! moment, bur it's too late.
- The song "Razor Hoof", by High On Fire, is about a moose fighting a wolf and winning.
- The song "Conquest", by The White Stripes uses this theme symbolically.
- The song "When The Hunter Becomes The Hunted", by Tank, about a photographer who returns to Vietnam after the war.
- Dungeons & Dragons adventure S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. While the ship's crewmen pursue the escaped intellect devourer, it turns on, pursues, and attacks one of them, eventually killing him.
One of the hunters soon became the hunted, and the chase eventually led to the tween decks. The crewman blasted the flesh of the body away, but the devourer then did for him.
- In Magic: The Gathering, the story behind Avacyn Restored set is basically this trope - after angel Avacyn is released from Helvault, humanity gains the power to drive back vampires, werewolves and zombies that were preying on them. Possibly shown best on Revenge of the Hunted card, which can turn an average human into somebody able to slay an average dragon and live.
- In Euripides's Bacchae, the young king Pentheus is lured into this fate by Dionysus. He hunts down the crazed maenads, seeking to spy on them, but ends up as the hunted when they notice him — Dionysus makes the maenads hallucinate and see him as a lion to be hunted and slain. Interestingly, his fate is foreshadowed by mentions in the play of his cousin, Actaeon, whose own fate is mentioned in the trope description.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
- Any time a dragon crosses the Dragonborn.
- Also in a more traditional manner during a quest to hunt a Sympathetic Murderer werewolf, who's trying to isolate himself to avoid any urges to hunt innocent people. The player can continue hunting and eventually kill the werwolf, or join forces with him and kill the other hunters that hoped to kill the werewolf first.
- This trope is why werewolves are Hircine's note favorite creatures. Werewolves hunt mortals during the night when they have the advantage, and then must flee from angry mortal hunters during the day, when the werewolves are hiding in caves or stuck in their mortal form. It should also be noted that Hircine enjoys it when the hunter becomes the hunted, finding a hunt turned inside-out amusing.
- In expansion pack for The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Bloodmoon, the main plot was centered on Hircine kidnapping various dangerous and powerful figures for a once-in-a-generation hunt. Unfortunately for him, one of these is the player, and when Hircine himself shows up to carry out his hunt as Final Boss, you have the chance to make the God of Hunters the Hunted.
- Pac-Man, whenever he gets a power pellet.
- Diablo III: The Demon Hunter. Usually survivors from demonic invasions themselves, they're recruited by more experienced Hunters and devote their lives to chasing and killing the creatures of the burning hells, using a variety of ranged attacks and traps to accomplish their goals.
- Evolve: The monster has three Evolutionary Levels, the first weaker than the hunters, the second on equal terms, and the last stronger. The monster hence needs to run away during the first stage to eat wildlife and get stronger while the hunters chase it down and try to end it quickly. Once the monster evolves into its third stage, the tables are turned and it can fight the hunters with ease.
- In Monster Hunter you hunt down several dangerous creatures who would eat humans for breakfast. Or they hunt down you. It depends on your weapons, armor and skill.
- The entire premise of Dying Light is built upon this trope. The gameplay is divided into two sections depending on the time of the day. During day time, you face weak shambling herds of zombies. They're slow, cumbersome, clumsy, and not very bright. Easy to lose, easy to bait into traps, easy to dispatch. As such, your character is an absolute badass at hunting the zombies like its nothing..... until nighttime arrives. At night, the roles reverse, with your character becoming the prey. Since at night, a special breed of super-zombie shows up, its only weakness is UV Light (which explains their absence in the day), these ones have insanely good sight, hearing, speed, strength, and intelligence. Fighting just one of them is completely brutal, but whenever they see you, they'll call a swarm of extra ones on you, and in raw speed they're faster than you, only via liberal usage of parkour can you stand a chance to put some distance between them. At night, the only option is to hide, or to run, fighting will only get you killed. All the time. Not for nothing the official tagline of the game is "Hunter by day, Prey by night".
- In Metroid: Fusion, famed bounty hunter and general badass Samus Aran spends much of the game being hunted down by the SA-X, which has all of her old power-ups and abilities. In particular, the Ice Beam is especially deadly to her because of her infusion with Metroid DNA. Up to the very end, Samus has no choice but to run from any encounter with it.
- In Bloodborne, it happens in every second, especially when Djura or Eileen decided to hunt you.
- In Worm, the Slaughterhouse Nine are a band of superpowered serial killers that travel from city to city, committing mass murder as, essentially, performance art. When they come to Brockton Bay to replace their deceased ninth member with one of the local heroes or villains, they set up a series of challenges wherein the candidates are tested one by one by each member. After the first few rounds, the local supervillains decide that waiting for the Nine to come after them is exactly why the Nine are always able to pick their fights to their best advantage and survive in a world where superheroes don't pull their punches, and instead go on the hunt for the Nine. Three members of the Nine leave the city alive.
- Looney Tunes:
- At the end of the short "Rabbit Fire", as Bugs and Daffy continue to pull away posters saying "Rabbit Season" and "Duck Season" alternately, each trying to convince Elmer to shoot the other, they finally reach the final poster, which reads "Elmer Season". In the next shot, we see Bugs and Daffy dressed as hunters, carrying rifles and "Hunting for Elmers".
- Also, there's a short in which Pepe Le Pew gets painted all black and his perennial harassment-victim, Penelope Pussycat, gets a head cold that blocks her sense of smell. Sure enough, she turns the tables and starts pursuing the suddenly-terrified "big strong tomcat" Pepe.
Pepe: Why is it that whenever a man is captured by a woman, all he wish to do is get away?
- In "Hyde and go Tweet," Tweety is turned into a giant, hideous monster after drinking Dr. Jekyll's potion, and he proceeds to chase and terrify Sylvester.
- In the Tom and Jerry short "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse", near the end, Tom finally drinks his own power potion which Jerry had been using throughout the short. Instead of growing stronger, however, it backfires, and Tom shrinks until he's as tall to Jerry as Jerry normally is to him. The short ends with Jerry chasing after Tom with a fly swatter.
- In Red Hot Riding Hood, the Wolf, while trying to hunt down Red, instead encounters her Granny, who becomes his Abhorrent Admirer at first sight and chases the Wolf through her building.
- In the Tales From The Cryptkeeper episode "Hunted," a Jerk Ass hunter is poaching in Africa and runs afoul of a supposedly mythical beast. Determined to catch this beast and make a profit, the hunter pursues it deeper and deeper into the jungle. Just when he thinks he has it, the beast springs its own trap to capture him instead. Turns out, the beast was once a Jerk Ass hunter himself and had been cursed. Forced to live in the wild, he learned to respect nature and its creatures. He regains his human form and passes the curse onto his captive to start the cycle over again.
- The subject of the Courage the Cowardly Dog episode "Farmer Hunter, Farmer Hunted", where a deer, tired of him and his family being hunted, goes off to hunt man. In this case, Eustace.
- Birdman episode "Hannibal the Hunter". The title villain lures Birdman to his island and traps him, then tries to have him fed to some lions. Birdman escapes and destroys Hannibal's base, freeing the captive wild animals held in it. While fleeing the animals Hannibal is captured by one of his own traps. Luckily this is a children's show, so Birdman captures Hannibal and saves him from the same fate he was trying to inflict.
- The trope was almost said word-for-word by Danny in Danny Phantom during his first encounter with Skulker upon learning that his battle suit could be overridden by Tucker's PDA.
- In one episode of Dial M For Monkey called "Huntor", where the episode's villain wants to hunt Monkey and has weapons that can counter Monkey's powers, Monkey decides to fight back without his powers and, in a homage to Predator, uses the resources around him to turn the tables and win. Even more hilarious, after Monkey escapes, he drops Huntor on a planet inhabited by giant hillbilly aliens, two of which chase after him with their laser shotguns.