Walking with Dinosaurs (1999) is a BBCSpeculative Documentary series focusing on... well... dinosaurs, using state-of-the-art CGI to recreate Mesozoic life. It was narrated by Kenneth Branagh.It received several equally succesful continuations, specials, and spin-offs:
Walking with Beasts (2001), focusing on mammal evolution which came after the dinosaurs in the Paleogene, Neogene, and Quaternary Periods.
Chased by Dinosaurs (2002), two specials focusing on two striking dinosaurs, the gigantic Argentinosaurus and the odd Therizinosaurus. This was the first in the Walking with... series to feature a visible presenter (in this case, Nigel Marven).
Prehistoric Planet (2002), a revised version of the Walking With Dinosaurs and Walking With Beasts documentaries, aimed at a younger audience and narrated by Ben Stiller.
Sea Monsters (2003), focusing on dangerous prehistoric marine wildlife, from "the seventh most dangerous sea ever" up to "the first" one. This also featured Nigel Marven.
Walking with Cavemen (2003), focusing on... guess. Also went for the "presenter" format (in this case, Robert Winston).
Walking with Monsters (2005), this time focusing on what came before the dinosaurs. Returned to the presenter-less format favoured by WWD and WWB.
The Complete Guide to Prehistoric Life (2006), a book that producer Tim Haines and consultant Paul Chambers wrote featuring creatures from throughout the series.
Walking With Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular (opened in 2007), a touring live arena show featuring life-sized animatronic dinosaurs and performers in costume.
Carnivore Confusion: The "predation is just a fact of life" approach, as most predators are treated as any documentary animals should be treated, not as villains. There are a few exceptions though, mainly in the two spinoffs ending with "Monsters".
Inverted in the last episode of Dinosaurs, where a mother T. rex is the protagonist and Ankylosaurus gets a mild villian treatment.
The Cretaceous Is Always Doomed: Played straight with the Cretaceous extinction in the last episode of Walking with Dinosaurs and largely played straight in Walking with Monsters for the Permian extinction (it does not show any single event, but shows the world right around the time of the extinction, with conditions that imply it is in progress). Averted for other mass extinctions.
Downer Ending: A given, since every animal featured in the program goes extinct eventually.
Deinosuchus gets only a cameo appearance in Walking with Dinosaurs the TV series, but its badassery is emphasized in the accompanying book, where it's stated that it's even capable of killing a Tyrannosaurus getting too close to the water and later a group of them scares the female Tyrannosaurus away from freshly killed Anatotitan.
Noisy Nature: And HOW! All animals in the whole series make continuously sounds of every kind from roars to bellows, screechs, and so on (a major example of the strong Rule of Cool that characterize this series). The most incredible example is perhaps the early "amphibian" Hynerpeton which makes belch-like sounds without a pause and apparently without any good reason.... despite being a very archaic vertebrate, and thus very unlikely to utter any loud cry.
Another example: giant arthropods like the scorpion Brontoscorpio and the millipede Arthropleuramaking creaking sounds when walking and even when they're moulting their exoskeleton. This kind of sound is heard also during the "Evolution takes over" moments in WWM (just like an horror movie...)
Averted to a greater extent in the original Walking with Dinosaurs, where most of the predators are realistically silent when doing things such as stalking prey, instead of screaming like Godzilla while attacking animals 30 times their size.
In the arena show, all the dinosaur animatronics have speakers in their throats, so all the resonant roars you hear are genuinely coming from their mouths.
Prehistoric Monster: Averted, with the exception of Walking with Monsters and Sea Monsters. Prehistoric animals behave like real animals, although a few (like Liopleurodon and the entelodonts) are shown in a sinister light. Particularly notable is Big Al in The Ballad of Big Al, whose fate left many viewers sad. Also notable is T. rex in the original series, which were shown more as playful youngsters and good mothers than scary killers.
Roger Rabbit Effect: Some CGI animals share a scene or two with live-acted ones (including ancient humans), but this is used more greatly for comedic effect in all the various Making of specials.
Rule of Cool: Several examples throughout the series, especially about speculative animal behaviour. Another example is the fact that only the most spectacular animals of each taxonomic group are usually portrayed in almost all the shows of the series, despite they were probably less common in their environments that their smaller relatives (like what happens among modern animals as well). However, we can see many small-sized prehistoric animals too. Still another example is that many animals are more or less oversized in the program: the two most striking examples are the swimming Liopleurodon and the flying Ornithocheirus.
Since the list of examples from this trope is really large, please go here to see them.
Scenery Porn: The shows, by necessity of course, take us to some of the planet's most spectacular-looking, exotic places, and the creators weren't shy in showing them off.
Science Marches On: Many new discoveries have been made after this series, which changed our perception about prehistoric wildlife. These discoveries regard animal behaviour, taxonomy, or other issues. See here for examples.
Stock Dinosaurs: Lots, but a few new additions and subversion as well. For every stock dinosaur used, there's one or more creatures that have never been heard of in mass media before—or, substitution for an appropriate relative. Again, see here for a exhaustive list of examples.
Played straight with the Megalodon from Sea Monsters. Even Nigel starts to sound a bit shaky when the big adult shark approaches his cage, and this is a man who is usually perfectly fine, often even Too Dumb to Live, in the presence of dangerous animals.
Walking with Dinosaurs provides examples of:
Adaptation Expansion: The accompanying book Walking with Dinosaurs: A Natural History contains a lot of additional information about geography of the world dinosaurs lived in, elaborates on some speculative concepts only briefly mentioned in the TV series, and introduces new ones. The book even introduced some creatures that weren't shown in the TV series.
Always a Bigger Fish: Happens on several occasions. Perhaps the most memorable of which was the huge marine reptile Liopleurodon snatching the medium-sized carnivorous dinosaur Eustreptospondylus from the shore. Also an example of another trope since Liopleurodon was probably closer to 4.5-6.5 meters rather than the absurd 25 meters noted in the episode.
In the companion book, a lungfish eats a crayfish, only to be caught by a Coelophysis.
The Coelophysis example is due to the classic (but now mostly discredited) interpretation of what appeared to be remains of young Coelophysis in the ribcage of some adults of the same species, it's not an invention of the show; while the Cynodont one is invented.
Apocalypse Wow: The meteor impact scene in "Death of a Dynasty" is pretty awesome, and much more realistically shown than most other portraits in other documentaries, with the correct sequence of events: first the light, then the earth tremor, then the dust cloud and wind-storms, finally the melted rocks from the sky.
Apparently some paleontologists strongly criticized the scene from the first episode of Walking with Dinosaurs where Postosuchus was shown urinating in a way more similar to that of mammals than that of reptiles and birds, despite it was an ancient relative of both crocs and dinos - so strongly in fact, that one of the series' scientific consultants, Prof. Michael Benton, decided to address their criticism. The relevant bit: "Another category of WWD-haters, the fact checkers, began compiling lists of errors in the first week. These were gleefully circulated on the e-mail lists. For example, in the first programme, Postosuchus urinates copiously. There is no doubt that it does so in the programme, and this was a moment that my children relished. However, of course, birds and crocodiles, the closest living relatives of the dinosaurs, do not urinate; they shed their waste chemicals as more solid uric acid. Equally, though, we can’t prove that Postosuchus did not urinate like this: copious urination is the primitive state for tetrapods (seen in fishes, amphibians, turtles, and mammals), and it might have been retained by some basal archosaurs."
Scaly raptors weren't to the paleontologists' liking even back then.
Reusing models meant that some correct anatomical details that got carried over from one animal to the other suddenly turned erroneous. Case in point: the thumbs on hadrosaurs.
The book accompanying the series implies that birds are no more related to theropods than ceratopsians are to pachycephalosaurs.
The Complete Guide to Prehistoris Life claims that megalosaurs are carnosaurs, when they're more likely a more primitive branch.
Australian Wildlife: One Walking with Dinosaurs episode centers on Australian wildlife during the Late Cretaceous, the small plant-eating dinosaur Leaellynasaura, the larger plant-eating dinosaur Muttaburrasaurus, the large Temnospondyl Labyrinthodont Koolasuchus, the monotreme mammal Steropodon, an unnamed pterosaur and carnosaur (known only from fragmentary remains), and a weta (a large flightless insect, representatives of which are still alive today).
Bloodier and Gorier: Several scenes of mild or implied violence and death from the TV series were described in rather graphic detail in the accompanying book Walking with Dinosaurs: A Natural History. Compare, for example, the scene of fight between female Tyrannosaurus and the armoured herbivore Ankylosaurus from the TV series with their fight in the book. Meanwhile, the poor Ornithocheirus—as if he hadn't suffered enough—dies not just of exhaustion, but of more or less getting torn apart by the rival males!
Early-Bird Cameo: Tupandactylus navigans (the pterosaur that the Tapejara was based on) was not formally described until several years after the series aired (it was described as a species of Tapejara in 2003 and moved to its own genus in 2007). The large Ornithocheirus (now Tropeognathus) specimen that provided the basis for the (still exaggerated) giant size stated in the show wasn't described until 2012.
New Blood contained the deaths of all the cynodont young (one by being eaten by the Coelophysis, the rest eaten by their own parents in the uncut UK Broadcast/DVD). The Coelophysis themselves are also cannibals.
"Time of the Titans", obviously, with all the Diplodocus youngsters (called "sauropodlets" in the show), very few of whom reach adulthood. Even more so in the book, where only one survives.
"Cruel Sea" focuses on a generation of young Opthalmosaurus, a fish-like marine reptile belonging to the ichthyosaur group. The one we mostly follow manages to avoid death by storms, sharks, and drowning, but it's implied that most of his fellows aren't so lucky. There's also the very, very graphic instance of Death by Childbirth, in which neither mother nor baby Opthalmosaurus are left alive.
"Spirits of the Ice Forest" implies an aversion, mentioning that although many of the Leaellynasaura clan mate and lay eggs, usually the only young that will survive is the dominant pair's children. Leaellynasaura was a tiny bipedal herbivorous dinosaur from Cretaceous Australia and Antarctica.
"Death of a Dynasty" has, (besides the Tyrannosaurus young killed by the meteor at the end) the Triceratops-like Torosaurus young killed by dromaeosaurids (commonly known as "raptors") and an implied death of a picked on Tyrannosaurus. And if it counts: the small mammal Didelphodon eating the eggs.
Mama Bear: The female Tyrannosaurus. Deconstructed, as her valiant attempt to scare an Ankylosaurus away from her infants ends up killing her, and it's implied that her babies would have starved to death without her to protect them. Only implied, because they're soon killed by the meteorite anyway.
The female Tyrannosaurus also displays the trait in the live arena show, when she scares away a Torosaurus and an Ankylosaurus that are harassing her baby.
Misplaced Wildlife: European dinosaurs Plateosaurus, and Polacanthus and the equally European pterosaurs Peteinosaurus and Anurognathus, all placed in North America in the show, not to mention Utahraptor, of all things, in Europe. The Peteinosaurus and Plateosaurus examples may be justified, since they lived at the time of Pangaea. They could easily have migrated from Europe into North America or vice versa, although no fossil evidence of this has been found. Polacanthus in North America may be based on the genus Hoplitosaurus, an ankylosaur often referred to by the European genus. The American narration refers to the ankylosaur as Gastonia, a similar animal from the proper time and place.
Mood Whiplash: In the arena show, the mother Tyrannosaurus scares away the Torosaurus and Ankylosaurus harassing her baby. The mother and her baby then share a cute little moment where she goes around roaring at the audience and he tries to mimic her, with underwhelming results. They nuzzle a bit, and then the comet hits.
Nobody Poops: Averted in "Time of the Titans". Not only do they show a full view of a Diplodocus defecating twice, but they also show the pile of shit and the dung beetles crawling all over it.
Palette Swap: Similar looking animals (like Utahraptor and Dromaeosaurus, various ornithopods) were just these. Certain animals (like large theropods and ornithopods) only got new heads. You can tell, because many creatures have the exact same folds and blood vessels on their skin. Then, there is Plesiopleurodon, which is just Stock Footage of Liopleurodon from the previous episode, only tinted lighter.
Quetzalcoatlus is the worst offender, as in its case it's obvious that the animators didn't have much time; it's just the Ornithocheirus from "Giant of the Skies" with a few minor tweaks. They didn't even edit out the teeth!
Papa Wolf: The male cynodont. Until the Coelophysis discover the burrow and he decides that the young aren't worth defending anymore, at least...
Real Is Brown: Averted. Much like modern fauna, these dinos are pretty vibrant-looking.
Red Herring: Eustreptospondylus being shown during the opening narration of Cruel Sea, with Kenneth Branagh talking about "the most fearsome predator of the Jurassic" that "is watching his prey". Only a few moments later it becomes obvious that this narration wasn't about Eustreptospondylus, but instead about Liopleurodon
This is ruined in Italian dub: here the narrator says "Eustreptospondylus, the most fearsome predator of the Jurassic..." (sigh)
Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The episode "Giant of the Skies" was about an Ornithocheirus traveling halfway across the globe enduring various hardships in order to reach the mating grounds only to have it driven away and eventually dying from starvation and exhaustion, and it never got to mate a single time.
If the animal is another predator, another way is to have it prey on or scare away another stereotypically dangerous predator such as a theropod or shark. Most famously done with Liopleurodon; and then the several Threatening Shark examples of course (see above).
Big Damn Heroes: A Smilodon cub is chased by a pair of Phorushracos at the beginning of the Saber Tooth episode, but then Half-Tooth appears out of nowhere and scares the Terror Birds away just when they're about to eat the cub.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Giant sloth, meet Smilodon. One slap later, Smilodon meets the Grim Reaper.
Dark Reprise: A double one. When the neanderthals begin their plan to drive the mammoths off a cliff, the music shifts from the usual "travel" theme used in the episode to a more suspenseful version with rather ominous tribal chanting and drums. The chants are similar to, but slightly more sinister than the ones during the humans' Megaloceros hunt, leaving it sounding like the unholy fusion of both tracks.
Killer Rabbit: It turns out, the elephant-sized sloth Megatherium can kill a Smilodon with a swipe of its claws. Then again, it is the size of an elephant, has armour-plated skin, stands 3 metres high, and has huge claws.
Scavengers Are Mean: One example in Beasts: The pig-relatives entelodonts are portrayed as scary as possible, with enormously wide mouths, always-screeching behaviour, and described as "the Hogs from Hell" which do nothing else but bullying other animals; while true WWB predators like Smilodon tend to receive a more neutral, sometimes even heroic, portrait.
Sexy Discretion Shot: The scene of the mating Australopithecus even had to be censored with a huge blur for the American release (but strangely did't cut it entirely, like in Australia), because it looked exactly like the way humans do it.
Spared by the Adaptation: The second Smilodon brother is fatally wounded in the original episode, but in the corresponding chapter of the book, he just runs away.
The Worf Effect: In Land of Giants, a mob of entelodonts have this on a lone Hyaenodon, but a lone entelodont is then scared away by the indricothere calf. Meanwhile in the book, it's a pair of Hyaenodon that drive off a single entelodont.
What Could Have Been: Among the proposed episode ideas for WWB was one based around the Riversleigh fossil site from Australia. They chose to abandon it, as they already had enough stories planned.
Averted in 'Mammoth Journey', where the humans (neanderthals and modern humans) are treated like any other predator, and the mammoths are the clear protagonists.
Just to be clear how much this is averted, in "Mammoth Journey" a mammoth bull casually finds two cave lions feeding on a dead man. We don't even see how he died, only the mammoth scaring the lions away because they are on his path.
Pteranodon in South America? Could be migrating, but then, we've never found any pteranodon fossils there.
Palette Swap: Thankfully averted by the iguanodonts and the Tarbosaurus, as these received new animation models (or at least new details) instead of being straight reuses of almost identical models from the original series.
Too Dumb to Live: Nigel Marven is practically the embodiment of this trope. He lives, though.
Sea Monsters provides examples of:
Anachronism Stew: T. rex appearing in a Cameo role 75 million years ago, whereas the oldest known rex dates from "only" about 68 million years ago. And it's clearly confirmed to be a real T. rex in the book, not one of its ancestors.note Daspletosaurus would have been more appropriate. This is especially weird, since some of their earlier material has shown that the creators knew when the T. rex actually lived.
Bolivian Army Ending: During the credits of the last episode, a pod of mosasaurs is shown surrounding and approaching the crew's boat.
Death World: While nearly all the seas could counts, the Creataceous Western Interior Seaway, which is actually called Hell's Aquarium to signify its dangers, particularly stands out.
Feathered Fiend: Subverted with Hesperornis, which look aggressive but only serve to get eaten by other predators. Played straight in the book, which lists dromaeosaurs as Cretaceous land menaces.
Fluffy Tamer: Nigel and his crew manage to get a Pteranodon to hang out on their boat. It seems to grow fond of them, given the fact that it appears to be genuinely shocked when it seems that Nigel's about to be eaten.
Frazetta Man: This being a well-researched scientific documentary, it's mostly avoided. But it doesn't stop the protohumans from looking terrifying.
Male Frontal Nudity: In the British version, at least. An odd case in that only pre-humans are nude, but Homo erectus and Homeo ergaster are basically Homo sapiens from the neck down, so there's no functional difference.
Darker and Edgier: Has a scarier edge to the fight for survival than Dinosaurs and Beasts.
Death by Sex: The male Hynerpeton gets eaten by a Hyneria right after it mates. In an interesting subversion, this only happens because it failed to mate the previous night, so in a way, it's a case of "death by belated sex".
Carboniferous Period:Proterogyrinus was likely extinct by the time chronicled in this segment.
Early Permian Period:Edaphosaurus is unknown from Europe, including the Bromacker Quarry.
Late Permian Period:Rhinesuchus and Gorgonops are unknown from Russia and probably were restricted to the Southern hemisphere.
Early Triassic Period:Euchambersia, Proterosuchus, and Euparkeria are all unknown from Antarctica.
Prehistoric Monster: It's even titled Walking With Monsters! Predators here are represented in a scarier way than the original Dinosaurs and Beasts.
The idea is kind of that this is before the Earth had a ruling class, so different groups of animals were ferociously and graphically battling it out to be the dominant species. Things become more relaxed by the Mesozoic and Cenozoic, as seen in WWD and WWB.
All There in the Manual: The Edmontonia and Parksosaurus are not identified by name in the film, but their identity is confirmed on the official website.
Animal Talk: An unusual variant. While the four protagonist animals are voiced, they never move their lips or make any sort of human-like facial expression. It would appear that the voiceovers are simply the dinosaurs' thoughts being translated into human speech.
Eaten Alive: Nearly happens to Patchi at the hands of a pack of Troodon and a pair of azhdarchids, after his disagreement with Scowler, in which he was shoved into a ditch and had a tree fall on top of him. His despair is so great at this point that he's willing to let it happen.
Heroic BSOD: Patchi suffers this after Scowler kicks him out of the herd and leaves him to die. In fact, he was willing to be dinner to scavengers...but gets back to his feet after some pep talk from Alex.
Idiot Hero: Patchi is, for much of the movie, a chronic complainer with abysmal survival skills. He starts to shape up after Scowler nearly loses the herd in an icy lake.
In Name Only: Overall, the film really doesn't have much to do with its namesake documentary miniseries.
Interspecies Friendship: Patchi (a Pachyrhinosaurus) and Alex (an Alexornis bird), justified since the two genera are implied to have a symbiotic relationship.
Kick the Dog: After the fight between Patchi and Scowler (which end up with Patchi getting shoved into a ditch), Scowler nastily kicks him out of the herd and leaves him to die. When Juniper scolds him for this and says that brothers are supposed to help one another, he coldly tells her "I don't have a brother".
Kick the Son of a Bitch: Gorgon attacks Scowler and mauls him to near death at the climax of the film. Considering what a Jerk Ass Scowler is and this is just after he had kicked his own brother out of the herd and left him to die, it's hard to not think he deserved it.
Narrator: Alex the Alexornis (voiced by John Leguizamo), though he also has dialogue in-story and interacts with the main cast.
Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers made it seem as though the movie would center around Patchi leading his herd on a journey to a new home. In reality, we see very few of his leadership skills and even less of him as leader of the herd.
No Sense of Personal Space/Hates Being Touched: On two seperate occasions, one of the Azhdarchids tries to get close to another. The other responds by pecking at it and screeching in its face. The third one doesn't seem to want to get involved and always scoots away before it gets ugly.
Oh Crap: The Troodon gets this twice at the beginning and end of the film when Bulldust and later Patchi catch it intruding in the nesting grounds.
Papa Wolf: Bulldust, the patriarch of the Pachyrhinosaurus herd for the first half of the film, is shown to be very protective of his hatchlings (which include Patchi and his older brother Scowler). Near the beginning of the film he chases away a Troodon that had been menacing Patchi, and later he sacrifices himself to save Patchi and Scowler from a pack of Gorgosaurus.
Predators Are Mean: Subverted with Gorgon the Gorgosaurus and his pack. Since the protagonists are large herbivorous dinosaurs, naturally the gorgosaurs are the Villains By Default and do get a comeuppance near the film's end. However, for the most part they're just hungry rather than malicious and sadistic. The other theropods are portrayed in a similar manner, though the Troodon, at least, has an edge of mischief and cowardice to it.
Ptero Soarer: The film features a species of azhdarchid pterosaur. While not bad in terms of accuracy: correctly covered in fuzz and quadrupedal on the ground, it also has pointed wings (pterosaurs had rounded wings in Real Life) and feeds on fish and carrion instead of stalking small vertebrates on land like real azhdarchids.
Raptor Attack: The maniraptorans, while by far some of the better depictions in the media, still suffer from having their wing feathers incorrectly attaching to the wrist instead of the second finger of each hand.
Real Is Brown: Averted, the dinosaurs in the film are depicted in a wide range of bright colours and markings. The Gorgosaurus, for example, has a covering of bright blue, iridescent scales.
Reality Is Unrealistic: Earlier models for the azhdarchids were more correctly proportioned (i.e.: had larger heads) and the ceratopsians had more accurate forefeet, but ended up being changed for this reason.
Scenery Porn: The film's visuals have been widely praised by critics, and rightfully so.
Seldom Seen Species: Pachyrhinosaurus, Alexornis, Gorgosaurus, Hesperonychus, Chirostenotes, Alphadon, Edmontonia, and Parksosaurus.