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[[caption-width-right:328:...and you thought sharks were scary.]]
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''River Monsters'' is an AnimalPlanet series hosted by Jeremy Wade, a British biologist/extreme angler/writer/TV presenter/[[OverlyLongGag 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 BadassGrandpa looking for [[TheCatfish monstrous freshwater fish]].

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

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!!This series provides examples of the following:

* AbsurdlySharpBlade: Piranhas have bitten through ''stainless steel'' multiple times in the show.
* AdmiringTheAbomination: Like [[Series/CrocodileHunter Steve Irwin]] and [[Series/TheJeffCorwinExperience 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.
* AllMythsAreTrue: Played with. He goes out of his way to show where the myths come from, as he believes they all have roots in truth.
* AnArmAndALeg: 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.
* ArmourIsUseless: Averted. The arapaima's piranha-proof scales make it invulnerable, allowing to to eat piranhas.
* {{Badass}}: [[CaptainObvious Duh]].
** Every single river monster (even those that turn out to be harmless to people), plus the guy that hunts them down.
** The locals that have been fishing DeathWorld for their entire life.
* BadassGrandpa: Jeremy Wade is nearing sixty years old, and he ''hunts out'' fish that can reach twice his weight.
** In [[DeathWorld 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 [[TheDeterminator 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''.
* BadassTeacher: One of Jeremy's previous occupations prior to ''River Monsters'' was as a biology teacher.
* BearsAreBadNews: An episode in Alaska showed Jeremy having an unnerving run-in with a grizzly, as mentioned in Revolvers Are Just Better below.
* BerserkButton:
** Don't splash around with piranhas because they will go into feeding frenzy mode.
*** Don't introduce arapaima to their home either or, in a desperate effort to survive their worst nightmare and competitor invading, the piranhas will attack and eat ''anything and anyone.''
** Don't place a shiny, fluttering object within the visual range of a goliath tigerfish. That shine signals "prey here come kill and eat me" to a tigerfish. A young girl paid for this mistake with her life.
** Don't place dead bodies into a river occupied by goonch catfish. They will gain a taste for human flesh.
** Don't swim into or attack the offspring of a giant snakehead or the parents ''will'' personally find and kill you gruesomely. See MamaBear below.
** Don't try to net or hook an arapaima and stand in its way. It will ram you as it fights back. Ditto for tarpon.
** Never try to lasso a caiman from a boat at night. One episode showed a research team doing this and the result was spectacular.
** When Jeremy loses a fish he nearly always lets a few ClusterFBomb loose.
** Do not ''ever'' show up at an African tribe at the same time as the chief's brother goes missing. The villagers were ready to stone Jeremy to death, blaming him for the disappearance.
* BewareMyStingerTail: The three giant species of freshwater stingrays. But for Jeremy, the real problem is them being TheJuggernaut and being nearly or even completely immobile.
* BigDamnHeroes: Meta example: Jeremy clearing the alligator gar's reputation saved it from extermination in the nick of time.
* BigFreakingSword: The sawfish has one attached to its face that also doubles as a metal detector/radar, allowing it to literally saw through other fish even without seeing them.
* BloodyMurder: The longfin eels Jeremy investigated in one episode have poisonous blood.
* BornInTheWrongCentury: 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.
* BulletTime: The series is fond of interspersing slow-motion segments to add dramatic effect to certain scenes.
* TheCameo: Jeremy himself made a guest appearance in the MadeForTV movie ''Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys'' which aired at the culmination of Animal Planet's "Monster Week" in May 2014.
* CatchPhrase: "Fish on"
* TheCatfish: Including several literal species of catfish.
** One episode focused on the various kinds of catfish Jeremy has encountered during his travels.
* ClusterFBomb: 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 CrowningMomentOfFunny.
** 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.
* CunningLinguist: 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.
* DeathFromAbove: 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.
** Inverted when predators attack from below.
* DeathOfAThousandCuts: He describes death by [[PiranhaProblem piranha]] using almost this exact term.
* DeathWorld:
** The Amazon.
** The Congo.
** The Fitzroy. It's overrun with crocodiles, sharks, stingrays, and sawfish. While not mentioned, cone snails, box jellyfish and sea snakes can be found in the lower reaches. On top of this, the place itself is trying to kill you via extreme tidal conditions that can leave you stranded, drastic temperatures, and annual flash floods that increase the depths dramatically.
*** Jeremy called the Fitzroy a "predator soup".
* {{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.
* DoingItForTheArt: 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 TechnicalPacifist 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.
* TheDreaded: The goliath tigerfish is considered an evil spirit by locals (hence the title "Demon Fish"). Jeremy calls it "the most horrific yet perfect killing machine in all the world's rivers" and "the ultimate river monster", combining the deadliest features from every other river monster he has tackled.
** The vundu catfish is feared enough a god has been shaped after it.
* EldritchAbomination: Quite a few of the fish look like one.
* EndangeredSpecies: A lot of them. In nearly every episode Jeremy laments the fact river monsters worldwide are on the verge of extinction, since they have almost nothing going for them to work against human pressure; bad or nonexistent PR, slow breeding rates, position at top of food chain, favoured food supply due to large size, habitat requirements that work against development.....
** Special mention goes out to the kaluga sturgeon, the biggest thing Jeremy ever tried to catch, which is almost extinct to the point he was prohibited from angling for them.
** "The day the last monster dies is the day the river dies too. And when that happens, we're not far behind."
* EverythingsEvenWorseWithSharks: 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, including Australian golf course water hazards and Florida suburbs.
* EverythingTryingToKillYou: The Fitzroy River, to the point the river itself is lethal. See DeathWorld above.
* FollowTheLeader: Hillbilly Handfishing, yes, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xztvUuonHuI&feature=channel_video_title really]].
* FoodChainOfEvil: 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 [[Series/CrocodileHunter Steve Irwin]], but he still won't pick a food fight with wild bears.
* GentlemanAdventurer: 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.
* GentlemanAndAScholar: Jeremy Wade is a NiceGuy and a veteran biologist.
* GhostCity: 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.
* GoingNative: 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.
* GoneHorriblyRight - Some of the strangest and most disturbing situations are actually the result of introduced species that adapt far better than expected to a new environment- the pacu, the snakehead, and numerous others are fairly harmless in their native habitat, but removed from their normal food sources and predators, their behavior and threat level alter dramatically, in some cases going from the bottom of the food chain to apex predator. The snakeheads seem to be causing little trouble as of 2015, but the pacu, on the other hand....
* GonnaNeedMoreX: 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 UpToEleven in a couple of the South American episodes showing autopsy photos of human bodies half-eaten by piranhas and candiru-acu.
** One especially horrific case was the injury description of a man who was nearly eaten by a caiman. His torso was completely torn open and all his internal organs were hanging out of his body, covered in muck. The scars are still present when the episode was filmed.
** It does go a bit overboard sometimes, to [[HilarityEnsues 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.
* GreatWhiteHunter: Jeremy Wade is essentially a TechnicalPacifist, fish-based version of the trope.
* GroinAttack: 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 fish[[note]]which feeds on seeds and actual nuts in its native Amazon waters[[/note]] 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.
* HalfTheManHeUsedToBe: The M. O. of the goliath tigerfish.
* HeWhoMustNotBeSeen: Several episodes have had peoples' faces blurred out, most notably Ukrainian military personnel manning checkpoints in the Chernobyl episode.
* HeroicDolphin: Averted on a grand scale with the Amazon river dolphins. They eat piranhas, gang up on bull sharks, often are battle-scarred, and have caused serious injuries or even deaths.
* HiroshimaAsAUnitOfMeasure: 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.
* IdiotBall: 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 [[TemptingFate 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.
* [[ImplacableMan 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''.
** Jeremy spent 25 years on the trail of a huge tigerfish and 20 on the trail of a piraiba big enough to eat a small person. He got both of his wishes.
* InfantImmortality: 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. The most infamous was a girl bitten in half and partially eaten by a goliath tigerfish.
* InsistentTerminology: 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''.
* KillerRabbit: Freshwater Pufferfish. No, really....the poison is the least of your concerns with them: their bite is very brutal, capable of severing arteries in humans.
* LandDownUnder: 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.
* LightningBruiser: Nearly every river monster in the show. Special note regarding arapaima, which grow to 10 feet long and 500 pounds but launch themselves several yards into the air when provoked to ram their human attackers, sometimes to fatal effect.
* MasterOfAll: Jeremy describes the goliath tigerfish as this. It deserves that reputation.
* MamaBear: The giant snakehead (especially the female) embodies this trope, attacking anything that threatens the young. There was a case where a fisherman harpooned a female snakehead in the head by pretending to threaten her offspring. She responded by driving the other end of the harpoon into the man's skull, killing him.
** Don't wade into an arapaima nest either if you want to avoid being hit by several hundred pounds of solid bone and muscle.
* MoreTeethThanTheOsmondFamily: Piranhas, the payara (image above), red-bellied pacu, golden dorado, and most horrifically the goliath tigerfish.
* NatureDocumentary: Sadly, it's one of the few animal-focused shows that Animal Planet still airs on a regular basis. Ironically, this might explain its [[SoCoolItsAwesome high popularity]] as well.
* NeverSmileAtACrocodile: 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.
* OrificeInvasion: In "Amazon Flesheaters", Jeremy interviews a man who has had an [[UnderStatement unpleasant encounter with a candiru]] and [[{{Squick}} 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.
* PermaStubble: 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.
* PetTheDog: The episode about the Goliath Tigerfish. After failing to catch a tigerfish ''three times'', he requested a good-luck fetish (not [[FetishFuel 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.
* PiranhaProblem: 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.
* PopUpTrivia: ''River Monsters: Unhooked''; reruns of past episodes with this trope added to them.
* PsychoElectricEel: One episode centres around Jeremy trying to find one big enough to fatally electrocute someone. Not only does he succeed, he finds ''a swarm of at least 20 other electric eels'' in the same, extremely unlikely location. And in only half an inch of water.
* PunBasedTitle: "Death Ray."
* RammingAlwaysWorks: Why white sturgeon, tarpon, and arapaima are dangerous.
* RevolversAreJustBetter: When fishing in Alaska, the guide accompanying Jeremy carries a [[HandCannon 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.
* TheScapegoat: 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. The Alligator Gar nearly went extinct because of this, as people blamed it for attacks by actual alligators and built a giant "electrical gar destroyer" to wipe it out of existence. If not for Jeremy Wade's timely intervention by debunking the myth, it might actually have gone extinct.
* SceneryPorn: 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.
* ScrewThisImOuttaHere: 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.
* ShoutOut: 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 ''Film/{{Jaws}}''.
* Squick: Did you ''really'' need to show the footage of the candiru being removed from the man's penis?
* StockNessMonster: 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.
* SwallowedWhole: 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.
* TitleDrop: 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.
* UkrainiansWithDepletedUranium: Jeremy had to pass through several checkpoints manned by Ukrainian military personnel in the Chernobyl episode.
* WorldOfBadass: 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.
* WorthyOpponent: Half of the show's premise, the other half being ParanoiaFuel.
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Fish on!