Animal Face-Off was a Discovery Channel
& Animal Planet
documentary where two animals fight to the death in computer simulated battles at the end of the show. Before the actual fight, scientists test out the abilities of the animals. To avoid controversies of animal testing or the danger of trying to capture wild animals, they instead make molds of a skull of the animal and make it into a steel biting machine. There is usually at least one scientist on each side supporting an animal and, like two sports fans, they sometimes trash talk
before the fight begins. The show lasted from March to September 2004 (reruns do occur, but they're extremely
Tropes in this series:
- Achilles' Heel: In some cases, even ONE weakness means death to the loser.
- Actual Pacifist: Averted in the Polar Bear Vs. Walrus episode.
- Always a Bigger Fish: Colossal Squid Vs. Sperm Whale.
- Always Someone Better: Although the lion beats the tiger in Asia, the lion could not beat the crocodile in Africa.
- Animal Jingoism: Cases in which an herbivore or other possible prey battles a predator, such as in Polar Bear Vs. Walrus, Leopard Vs. Gorilla and perhaps Colossal Squid Vs. Sperm Whale.
- Big cats & crocodilians are often made out to be enemies, which is reflected in Lion vs. Crocodile.
- Animal Motifs: One can note some resemblances in look and attitude between some experts and their animals....is it a casual thing or not? The big cat expert acts like a young and rather perky showman; the bear trainer is a big guy with a shaggy beard and a calm yet touchy temper; the reptile scientist is a lean, unflappable man with a bit of Deadpan Snarker when arguing with his rivals; finally the primatologist is a pretty girl (remember that apes and girls are historically associated each other in media).
- Animal Reaction Shot: Many close ups are shown of the animals during the fights. And before the fights, samples are put from which shows how the animal's muscles react.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: Some of the scientists who supported the losing animal after the fight STILL argue with the winning one.
- Also, some viewers have complained about the alleged unlikeliness of Bull Shark vs. Hippopotamus, since all people know sharks live only in the sea: but in Real Life bull-sharks do swim in African rivers other than in the seas, and some interactions with hippos are documented as well.
- Attack Its Weak Point: For the most part, the neck. Though for the crocs and gators, the underbelly.
- Barrier Warrior: The beginning of Polar Bear Vs. Walrus and Lion Vs. Croc. Though later subverted by the end of the fight.
- Bears Are Bad News: With the exception of the polar bear, the bears always win.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: At the end of Leopard Vs. Gorilla, the narrator says "Beauty killed by the Beast", even though the gorilla was only defending itself from the attacking leopard. Interstingly, the Gorilla expert was a real hottie, while the leopard expert was a man (a curious example from Real Life of the trope "gorillas always are with pretty girls").
- Boom, Headshot: Bull Shark Vs. Hippo. The narration often points out that Real Life crocodilians often use this, and both the Nile & saltwater crocodile use it against their adversaries. It doesn't work in the latter's favor.
- Breakable Weapons: Although the elephant kills the rhino, a part of one of the tusks breaks off in the process. Good thing it can grow back.
- Bullet Time: The slow-motion speed when the machines bite down on a fruit/veggie/meat before the fights to show more detail on how they bite.
- Butt Monkey: Although the big cats win twice (Cougar and Asiatic lion, although in the case of the lion it was against another big cat), the big cats have the most losses (Siberian/Bengal tigers, African lion, jaguar, and leopard). That's 2 for 5.
- Cats Are Mean: All the big cats in this are very mean.
- Actually all the animals in the show are portrayed as mean as possible.
- Cats Hate Water: Lion Vs. Croc, although it's justified, as it loses.
- Cowboy Bebop at His Computer: Bear VS. Gator suffers from this a lot; the largest average American black bear is 250 kilograms (551 lbs). Adult American alligators weigh, at most, 453 kilograms (999 lbs). Even as strong as the bear is, it's unlikely it'd be able to bowl over the much heavier alligator without the alligator biting back and pulling the bear with it. The bear also has the alligator's stronger bite to worry about, too; alligators have a bite strength of 9,425 newtons (or 2,125 lbs per square inch). Alligators are also not extremely vulnerable on land; in fact, they can run at 12-14 km/h for short periods; and Australian freshwater crocodiles have been recorded galloping at 17 km/h. Ambushing saltwater crocodiles can reach 12 metres a second for bursts in an ambush, which is faster than prey a body's length away from the animal can even react to (ironically, Lion VS. Crocodile got this right, but not this episode). And an alligator would never pursue a bear onto land, even if it was heavier than said bear; alligators, crocodiles and caiman are ambush predators and as such they tend to use surprise attacks and lures to capture prey. If the bear managed to evade the first lunge, the alligator would likely retreat back to the water; and if the bear tried to fight, the jaws and tail would come into play, especially in the swampy enviornment the fight was placed in. The hefty weight, huge bite and ambush hunting of the alligator are very deciding factors in an enviornment tailored to both fighters; even if the bear is a good swimmer, the alligator is overall heavier and stronger where it counts for it (the jaws and tail), meaning the bear would not flip the alligator over and tear it open, but be ambushed, dragged underwater and finished off by it's crocodylian foe before the bear could even have time to react if we're in a truly even arena.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: The walrus.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Lion vs. Crocodile bears the distinction of being the only episode in which the loser didn't inflict any damage at all.
- Also Elephant vs Rhino, the only time the rhino touched the elephant is when it tried a headbutt, which didn't work.
- Delicious Distraction: The jaguar loses because it was distracted by a bird call.
- Everything's Squishier with Cephalopods: The colossal squid.
- Follow the Leader: Several (unrelated) children's books with a similar subject will blatantly plagiarize battles & outcomes from the show (Croc vs. Shark & Lion vs. Tiger are the worst off in this regard).
- Food Chain of Evil: Several, with Whale vs. Squid being the most notable.
- Genius Bruiser: The elephant, gorilla & black bear (although the latter is relative).
- Gorn: Although it's all CGI, apparently it was Screwed by the Network for the violence.
- Grand Finale: Insofar as a double-length Curb-Stomp Battle that never aired in the U.S. can be considered "grand".
- Heel-Face Turn: Dave Salmoni plays against the lion in one of the first episodes, but later he defends it against the croc in another episode. He defends the wrong creature both times.
- Herbivores Are Friendly: Subverted by the elephant, rhinoceros & hippopotamus.
- Hollywood Science: Every single episode basically consists of assumptions over the physical strength of the subjects, a test on animatronic animals, and a fight sequence that will (usually) make the heavier animal win by default.
- The Hunter Becomes The Hunted: Polar Bear vs. Walrus & Bear vs. Alligator.
- Narrator: Gabe Doran.
- Never Smile at a Crocodile: Three crocodilians appear, but only the Nile crocodile wins. The losses were cheap, so perhaps it does apply after all.
- No Animals Were Harmed: Downplayed. Only CGI animals are hurt. For the most part none of the real animals are not put in the show except for stock footage from Discovery Channel's back lot.
- Panthera Awesome: Mostly averted. See Butt Monkey.
- Poison Is Evil: Probably why, despite constant emphasis on the deadly arsenals of the combatants, no venomous species was ever included in a face-off (because it wouldn't seem "fair" enough). It didn't stop them from putting a clip of a tiger vs spitting cobra altercation, with a slow-motion closeup of the cobra projecting its venom, into the opening, though.
- The Power of Friendship: A wolf fights a cougar and loses because it was fighting alone instead of with the rest of it's pack like it would have in Real Life. Because of this, the wolf is the only loser to be merely knocked out, not killed; the cougar flees upon hearing the approach of the rest of the wolf's pack.
- Predators Are Mean: Almost all of the featured animals are at least partly predatory, although the few herbivorous animals that are shown are equally aggressive.
- Rhino Rampage: The rhino's anger to the elephant, although it doesn't save it.
- Shout-Out: Bear vs. Gator claims that the black bear is "smarter than the average reptile."
- Somewhere, a Herpetologist Is Crying: The accompanying game bills the American alligator as "the Western Hemisphere's largest crocodilian." The black caiman is slightly larger.
- Hell, the Alligator/Bear duel in general is this; the alligator is flipped over easily by the bear and clawed once by the bear, and that kills it. Anyone who knows much about crocodylians can say that the bear would, as insanely strong as it is, not be able to efforlessly bowl the much heftier alligator over; the snapping, thrashing alligator would be a bit harder to get a grip around to even lift than an inanimate boulder. That, and the alligator's bite would be disastrous for the bear's bones, but apparently the crocodylians in this show suffer Turtle Syndrome, in that they are absolutely useless on their backs.
- Spiritual Successor: The Truth About Killer Dinosaurs, Jurassic Fight Club & Deadliest Warrior can all be seen as this.
- Strictly Formula: When two land-based predators fight, it will almost always be over a kill. Its original owner will always lose.
- Tail Slap: The crocodile uses this against the lion.
- Take That/Trash Talk/Your Animal Fights Like A Cow: Occurs between the competing scientists.
- Temple of Doom: Lion vs. Tiger takes place in one.
- Threatening Shark: Saltwater Croc Vs. Great White Shark and Bull Shark Vs. Hippo. Though the great white shark is the only one who won (Though rather cheaply, so perhaps it's somewhat subverted).
- Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny
- Videogame Characters: The fighting animals may be classified in one of the following:
- Fragile Speedster: The colossal squid is very maneuverable but eventually ends swallowed whole by the whale.
- Glass Cannon: The big cats move and strike fast and pack good power, but they have low stamina and are relatively fragile. The wolf, quick-moving and powerful-jawed, really can't take it. The bull shark is similar. The black bear is just lucky.
- Lightning Bruiser: The great white shark may qualify as this, being fast and high in strength/stamina at the same time (though it has some trouble against the crocodile). (Incidentally, the crocodilians in water also qualify.)
- Actually all the twelve duels may be, in last analysis, qualified as Mighty Glacier vs Fragile Speedster in a greater or lesser degree, since one animal appears always smaller/faster/weaker/more active than its bigger/slower/stronger/more passive opponent. This distinction is clear with Hippopotamus vs Shark, Bear vs Tiger, Crocodile vs Lion, Anaconda vs Jaguar, Gorilla vs Leopard, and Whale vs Squid; less-evident with Shark vs Crocodile, Elephant vs Rhino, Cougar vs Wolf, Walrus vs Bear, Lion vs Tiger and Alligator vs Bear. Except for the last two examples, the Mighty Glacier always wins the fight.