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Series: River Monsters
...and you thought sharks were scary.

River Monsters is an Animal Planet series hosted by Jeremy Wade, a British biologist/extreme angler/writer/TV presenter/specialist in natural history, and produced by Bristol's Icon Films. The series began in April 2009 to the best series premiere in Animal Planet's history, most likely because it features a Badass Grandpa looking for monstrous freshwater fish.

It is an extremely potent dose of Nightmare Fuel due to that last part.

This series provides examples of the following:

  • Admiring the Abomination: Like Steve Irwin and Jeff Corwin before him, Jeremy clearly has a lot of respect and admiration for all of the fish that he catches, including those that have been demonized by humans and the media.
  • All Myths Are True: Played with. He goes out of his way to show where the myths come from, as he believes they all have roots in truth.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Jeremy has encountered several people who have had limbs amputated due to attacks either by the fish he's searching for, or by other animals that live in the area. He's also heard stories of people who didn't survive such incidents.
  • Badass: Duh.
  • Badass Grandpa: Jeremy Wade is nearing sixty years old, and he hunts out fish that can reach twice his weight.
    • In dangerous conditions like; at the base of a waterfall, during lulls in border conflicts, surrounded by bears, crocodiles and hippopotamuses, whatever else is hiding in the tropical rainforests near both the Amazon and Congo Rivers, or on the icy waters of an Alaskan lake. He's also suffered numerous injuries and even survived a plane crash and is still going!
    • A few of the fishermen he goes to for advice on catching the fish that he is going after are at least past their fifties and have been catching these fish—sometimes without bait or tackle—in some of the most dangerous rivers and lakes in the world for decades.
  • Badass Teacher: One of Jeremy's previous occupations prior to River Monsters was as a biology teacher.
  • Bears Are Bad News: An episode in Alaska showed Jeremy having an unnerving run-in with a grizzly, as mentioned in Revolvers Are Just Better below.
  • Bloody Murder: The longfin eels Jeremy investigated in one episode have poisonous blood.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: Several episodes feature monstrous fish close to extinction (or actually extinct), you can't help but wonder if Jeremy Wade wouldn't be more at home at an earlier age, when these creatures were at their peak.
  • Bullet Time: The series is fond of interspersing slow-motion segments to add dramatic effect to certain scenes.
  • The Cameo: Jeremy himself made a guest appearance in the Made-for-TV movie Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys which aired at the culmination of Animal Planet's "Monster Week" in May 2014.
  • The Catfish: Including several literal species of catfish.
    • One episode focused on the various kinds of catfish Jeremy has encountered during his travels.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Jeremy lets loose with one of these when trying native fishing techniques in one episode, actually having been encouraged to cuss out and insult the fish while trying to catch it by one of the locals teaching him. The result borders on Crowning Moment of Funny.
    • Another time he got stabbed in the back of the hand by the pectoral spine of a catfish, eliciting quite a few bleeps from Jeremy in response.
  • Cunning Linguist: Jeremy Wade seems to speak a truly baffling amount of foreign tongues, considering he is seen travelling all over the world and speaking to locals without a translator.
  • Death from Above: In one episode, Jeremy and his film crew were nearly hit by lightning when caught out during a sudden thunderstorm. One of the crew actually had a headache and was nearly knocked unconscious, suggesting he might have taken a peripheral hit from the strike.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: He describes death by piranha using almost this exact term.
  • Determinator: Jeremy's response to a Colombian stingray breaking his rod (but not his line) was to grab the line and haul the creature up towards the boat with his bare hands.
  • Doing It for the Art: He very rarely kills the fish (or eats them), usually letting them go and even giving them a few minutes' rest if they need it. This serves as an extreme Technical Pacifist stance, since the titular river monsters are known to kill or maim people (some of them intentionally hunting people out), and all of them come close to killing him. invoked
    • In the Nile Perch episode, he risked crocodile attack while holding a captured perch by the boat so that it could recover before being released.
    • During his fishing trip into Chernobyl, Jeremy was shown to be quite conflicted about catching a radioactively contaminated fish for science to dissect.
  • Endangered Species: A lot of them.
  • Everything's Even Worse with Sharks: Bull Sharks, as he investigates, are not only capable of hunting in fresh water, but seem to be actively moving inland for the chance to dominate new territories and feeding grounds.
  • Follow the Leader: Hillbilly Handfishing, yes, really.
  • Food Chain of Evil: Everyone knows Piranha eat people, but Arapaima eat piranha! So do dolphins, incidentally. Also the episode's titular Demon Fish will have a go at Crocodiles if given the chance. Which also pose a hazard in fishing, but not as more as hippos; which have goring tusks, a habit of charging like a boar on land, surprising speed and agility in the water, and the jaw strength to snap a Croc in half! There is a very good reason the crocodiles leave the hippos a wide berth, even if they are herbivores. He even managed to catch a giant stingray, that may have been a close relative of the one that got Steve Irwin, but he still won't pick a food fight with wild bears.
  • Gentleman Adventurer: Well it is a tv series about a very polite, calm, cultured scientist travelling the world hunting nightmarish river creatures for the sake of science and amusement.
  • Gentleman and a Scholar: Jeremy Wade is a Nice Guy and a veteran biologist.
  • Ghost City: One episode had Jeremy visit the Ukrainian city of Pripyat, a city that was abandoned following the Chernobyl nuclear accident and has been deserted and left to rot for nearly 30 years.
  • Going Native: Jeremy goes to great lengths to ingratiate himself with local populations and often employs native fishing techniques alongside his own modern methods. He also frequently reminds viewers that, no matter what country you go to, the locals are far more knowledgeable about their home environments than you are and maintaining good relations with them can provide a treasure trove of information on many different subjects.
    • It's even pointed out that native fishermen wouldn't use a particular technique for multiple generations if it didn't work, as is showcased in several episodes. Jeremy agrees.
  • Gonna Need More X: Played straight in the giant freshwater stingray episode when Jeremy hooks into one so big that it starts towing the boat he's in. The stingray later ends up snapping a heavy-duty saltwater fishing rod designed to handle Marlin!
  • Gorn: Several episodes have shown images of people with horrific injuries inflicted by the fish Jeremy's searching for. Taken Up to Eleven in a couple of the South American episodes showing autopsy photos of human bodies half-eaten by piranhas and candiru-acu.
    • It does go a bit overboard sometimes, to humorous effect. A good example is the episode about the sea lamprey, which has rapid-fire-edit clips of people screaming and thrashing and being dragged through the water like Jaws himself was attacking them when the fish in question is a skinny four-foot eel-like critter that suctions onto prey and pokes a small hole in it to drink blood. Admittedly, this is based more on the fact that people who are attacked by lamprey have the problem of trying to yank the slimy, wriggling parasite off whilst, at the same time, struggling to stay afloat.
  • Great White Hunter: Jeremy Wade is essentially a Technical Pacifist, fish-based version of the trope.
  • Groin Attack: In the first episode of the third season, the Pacu he was after has been known to do this in New Guinea, where it is an invasive species. Indeed, it does so with such frequency that the locals have taken to referring to the fishnote  as "the ball-cutter".
    • Also the candiru; a parasitic catfish that normally targets the gills of other fish, but has been known to embed itself in the genitals of luckless humans relieving themselves in South American waterways.
    • One caller to a radio talk show in New Zealand recalled an incident where a longfin eel bit a guy in the groin.
    • One episode had a tale of a South American boy who was castrated by a Golden Dorado.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Several episodes have had peoples' faces blurred out, most notably Ukrainian military personnel manning checkpoints in the Chernobyl episode.
  • Hiroshima as a Unit of Measure: A biologist Jeremy talks to in Ukraine doing research on the long-term effects of the Chernobyl disaster says that the amount of radiation released when the plant exploded was several hundred times that released by the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
  • Idiot Ball: In the wolf fish episode, Jeremy points out a storm cloud some distance away that apparently had passed them by. Immediately after noting that tropical weather can be unpredictable, Jeremy, his crew, and his guide stop so the guide can get some fish for eating. They stop on a flat island, in the middle of a river, with all sorts of equipment. The sound guy gets struck by lightning.
  • Implacable Fish: The Giant Snakehead: a creature capable of surviving getting shot with a harpoon to the mouth from point blank range, then driving the back end through the attacker's head, killing him.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted. Several episodes involve the deaths of young children, who are much more vulnerable to attack because of their small size, inability to swim, or naivete to the dangers that might lurk in local rivers.
  • Insistent Terminology: In one episode, Jeremy constantly refers to a woman killed by a stingray as 'the honeymoon bride'.
  • Kappa: Investigated during an episode on Japan's river monsters. Jeremy comes to the conclusion that the most likely candidate to have inspired the myth is the Japanese giant salamander, a predatory amphibian that can reach sizes equivalent to a twelve year old human boy, which makes it more than large enough to swallow babies and small children whole.
  • Land Down Under: Jeremy has been to Australia on three occasions (once for bull sharks, once for a saw fish and once for a relatively rare type of shark that was only recently identified.). Not as often as you'd think though given Australia's reputation, but we just don't have much in the way of the big river systems to generate the diversity found elsewhere.
  • Nature Documentary: Sadly, it's one of the few animal-focused shows that Animal Planet still airs on a regular basis. Ironically, this might explain its high popularity as well.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Jeremy has had to contend with several varieties of crocodiles as well as alligators and caimans during his travels, and has met and heard stories of people who have been attacked by them as well.
  • Orifice Invasion: In "Amazon Flesheaters", Jeremy interviews a man who has had an unpleasant encounter with a candiru and shows video of the removal surgery.
    • In one episode, a caller to a radio talk show in New Zealand recalled witnessing a longfin eel entering through the backside of a sheep and devouring its internal organs until the sheep died.
  • Perma Stubble: Jeremy can often be seen with varying degrees of this, particularly when he's spent days out in remote places where personal grooming isn't exactly practical.
  • Pet the Dog: The episode about the Goliath Tigerfish. After failing to catch a tigerfish three times, he requested a good-luck fetish (not that kind), slept with it under his pillow, and caught a tigerfish the next day. Jeremy planned to let it go, but was told by his native companion that the fish was a gift from God, and the neighboring village was going through hard times to boot. After several minutes of wrestling with different facets of his morality, he decided to let the tigerfish go only if it was well enough to recover. It wasn't, which disappointed him, but the ecstatic reception he got when he hauled it back to the village probably more than made up for it.
  • Piranha Problem: An episode was devoted to them.
    • They've also popped up almost constantly in episodes shot in South America, and Jeremy frequently references them in other episodes as well. In several South American episodes he's noted that his real piranha problem is that they're always stealing his bait.
  • Pop-Up Trivia: River Monsters: Unhooked; reruns of past episodes with this trope added to them.
  • Pun-Based Title: "Death Ray."
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: When fishing in Alaska, the guide accompanying Jeremy carries a massive revolver for defense against bears; they later end up having to fire a warning shot when a bear approaches the group after having stolen a salmon Jeremy had hooked.
  • The Scapegoat: A rather grim example: In one episode, Jeremy visits the Congo to catch a reputed killer fish. Not long after he arrives, the village chief's brother goes missing. Since the locals believed that there's a cause for everything, they soon concluded that Jeremy had something to do with his disappearance. Luckily for Jeremy, the chief's brother makes a belated return later into the night, for if he hadn't come back, the villagers were going to stone Jeremy to death.
    • Often, Jeremy discovers a fish's bad reputation is often a case of it being blamed for attacks committed by other river creatures such as crocodiles or sharks or simple unfortunate accidents.
  • Scenery Porn: Many locales Jeremy has visited have breathtaking sights, but possibly none more so than Kaieteur Falls, a massive 741-foot waterfall in Guyana he visited at the finale of the last 4th-season episode, complete with dramatic aerial footage.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After catching a massive Wels catfish in a river in Spain, Jeremy had planned to hold it in the water until it had fully recovered, but when it started to move he ended up racing for the shore anyway.
  • Shout-Out: One episode had a scene showing piranhas attacking swimmers at a South American beach, the scene being a direct imitation of the beach attack scene in Jaws.
  • Stock Ness Monster: Averted in the final season's special episode on Lock Ness; Jeremy, early on, attends a historical museum in Glasgow and notes that while the plesiosaur is the iconic form for "Nessie", the fact that it was an air-breather makes it highly unlikely that it wouldn't have been seen discovered by now, given how much activity goes on and around the lake in the modern era. Furthermore, as a scientist who has been studying Loch Ness notes further on into the films, Loch Ness itself didn't exist until glaciers gouged it out of the rock some ten thousand years ago — making it far too young to house surviving dinosaurs.
    • By the episode's end, all of the evidence that Jeremy has gathered, including testimony from actual locals who purport to have seen Nessie and invariably describe as simply "a large hump" rather than the iconic long-necked or snake-like form, leads him to conclude that the Loch Ness Monster is most likely a rare sighting of a Greenland Shark that has swum up into the loch in pursuit of salmon.
  • Swallowed Whole: Jeremy has investigated several reports of this, usually with gigantic catfish such as the goonch, piraiba, and wels ending up being the prime suspects.
    • In one episode, he hypothesized that some disappearances in South America could have been the result of people being preyed upon by green anacondas.
  • Title Drop: Jeremy often does this during the opening narration for each episode, followed by a graphic showing the name of that episode in case you didn't catch it the first time.
  • World of Badass: Aside from the monster fish, Jeremy sometimes encounters fellow badass fishermen and naturalists.
    • In the Nile Perch episode, two of the veteran fishermen are crocodile attack survivors and one survived a hippo attack. One of the crocodile victims had his leg amputated and was still fishing.
    • In "Killer Torpedo" he met a man who had been shot, bitten by an eel, lost a leg to gangrene, and various other injuries.
    • In "Jungle Terminator", he met a tribe (the Matis) whose fishermen held an electric eel barehanded without apparent injury.
  • Worthy Opponent: Half of the show's premise, the other half being Paranoia Fuel.

Exactly What It Says on the TinCreator/Animal PlanetInfested
R. Lee ErmeyNonfiction SeriesSeven Wonders Of The Industrial World
Ripping YarnsBritish SeriesThe Royal Bodyguard

alternative title(s): River Monsters
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