The Hunter Becomes The Hunted
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 Villain
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.
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.
See also Egomaniac Hunter
, Evil Poacher
, Serial-Killer Killer
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.
- 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.
- 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. It's even used as the Tag Line for the English release.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- At the end of the Looney Tunes 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".
- 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.