The Natives Are Restless

I flew upstream in a plane with pontoons, and landed on the Amazon above Belim without seeing a single person in a loincloth, although I saw many Michael Jordan T-shirts.

A Discredited Trope from the days of the White Man's Burden in works depicting deepest darkest Africa, generally describing the moment before the Hollywood Natives rise up and overrun the compound, or abduct the white woman for sacrifice. Often indicated by the natives playing Jungle Drums. The phrase is said to go back to the 1933 film Island of Lost Souls, in which Dr. Moreau says this of his half-human / half-beast creations, and has since become a stock phrase for trouble brewing in a group of people. Often a prelude to being Chased by Angry Natives. Natives, like white villagers, may take up Torches and Pitchforks when they get restless enough to form a mob. See also Powderkeg Crowd.


Comic Books
  • MAD once had an article Modern endings to classic movie lines. One of the lines featured was "The natives are restless tonight", cut to a disco filled with partying locals.

  • Island of Lost Souls: Trope Namer.
  • In Five Came Back, there are headhunters in the Amazon jungle who are about to kill the plane crash survivors. The crash survivors know this, because they can hear the beating drums that mean the headhunters are about to attack. Certainly not very culturally sensitive, but necessary in this instance to provide the dramatic tension, as the survivors have to fix the plane so they can escape before they're killed.


Live-Action TV
  • Parodied in The Goodies, set in South Africa where "Apart-Height" has replaced apartheid, with episode where a group of jockeys are planning an uprising; Tim observes that "the jockeys are restless tonight".
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Inferno," a mineral slime from inside the earth's crust turns people exposed to it into homicidal werewolf-like Primords. At one point, a character (trapped in a building with them) says to the Doctor, "The natives are getting restless."
    • In "Carnival of Monsters", we get the variation "The functionaries are restive".
    • A Victorian era hunter in "Ghostlight" comments that "The ladies are restless" during a catfight.

  • The Cramps have a song called "The Natives Are Restless" on their 1981 album "Psychedelic Jungle".
  • There's a song by (I think) Jimmy Buffett called "The Natives Are Restless Tonight" which is the singer warning people not to go outside, because... yeah".

Newspaper Comics
  • There was a collection of The Far Side entitled The Chickens Are Restless.
    • One specific strip had a bunch of native tribesmen meeting outside their huts in the middle of the night with a caption like "And, hey, here comes N'Butu. Looks like none of us can get to sleep tonight!"

Video Games
  • Alluded to in Starcraft II Wings Of Liberty single player campaign. After the Terran forces land on the heavily Zerg-infested world of Char and make a temporary stronghold on it's surface, Tychus J. Findlay says these exact words when implying the Zerg are preparing for massive counterattack.
  • A modern variation is appears in Act of War, where the Task Force Talon is driving through London at the onset of a major summit, with thousands of protesters lining the streets. Jefferson even quotes the trope name word by word.
    • In what may be a subversion, the crowd does not actually turn aggressive, but it is riled into panic by gunmen firing at the crowd.