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Animal Stampede

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Beware the thundering herd.
Don't be fooled, it isn't thunder. Staying put would be a blunder.

In fiction, compared to predators, herbivores are usually pretty harmless. Herbivores Are Friendly, after all, and a gentle, grazing cow means far less threat than a fierce tiger.

Now imagine hundreds of those cows, running together and trampling everything in their way. Not so harmless anymore, right? Bonus points if they are Xenophobic Herbivores.

An Animal Stampede is when a large group of animals, usually herbivores, get startled and start mindlessly running from the perceived threat, destroying everything in their way. They are portrayed as a destructive force of nature, and often injure or kill the characters that get in their way. Note that most of the time the stampeding animals want to get away from the predators without the intention of hurting anyone; but some of the more aggressive species, such as buffaloes or rhinoceroses, may start a stampede towards the perceived threat. Since these animals often have horns, accidental or deliberate Horn Attacks may be involved.


Rhino Rampage is a subtrope involving stampeding rhinos. Swarm of Rats is a smaller version involving rats and mice. See Escaped Animal Rampage, if the stampeding animals escaped from a zoo or another confinement. May occur during a Cattle Drive. Compare Dash Attack, which usually done deliberately by a single person but may overlap with this if done by a big group, and Onrushing Army, where a group of soldiers charges at another army in a similar manner. Not to be confused with Thundering Herd, which is an angry mob of characters chasing someone, comically drawn as a giant dust cloud. In a video game, a stampede can be an Advancing Wall of Doom.

This can overlap with Animals Hate Him, especially if the carnivores and omnivores also join in mutual hatred of a certain character.

Has nothing to do with Vash the Stampede.



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  • In 1960s commercials for Post Crispy Critters cereal, this happens to spokes-lion Linus the Lionhearted whenever the titular cereal is mentioned.

  • In Pokémon: Destiny Deoxys, one character nearly gets trampled by a pod of Sealeo and Walrein after a meteor hits the arctic ground.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: The rare aurochs creature type is themed around this idea. All aurochs cards have trample (an ability letting them deal any excess damage from an attack that kills a creature to the creature's controlling player instead, as if they had trampled right over their target) and receive a boost to their power the more aurochs are attacking at the same time.

     Comic Books 
  • During the pursuit arc in Copperhead, the fugitives use a mortar explosion to set a herd of trectorras running into the following posse.
  • The Smurfs comic book story "The Wild Smurf" begins with one through the Smurf Village, which is a prelude to the fact that the Smurf Forest is on fire.
  • In Tragg and the Sky Gods #2, Zorek, the leader of the Yargonians, attempts to wipe out Tragg's tribe by trapping them in a basin and then stampeding a herd of dinosaurs into the basin.
  • In Judge Colt #2, an Indian tribe stampedes a herd of cattle through Buffalo City.

  • It's a Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door: This, as it turns out, is the nature of the yearly komaga incursions through Gildedale. The massive reptiles are running in absolute terror from something — what they're running from remains unknown — and charging through the daleponies' lands in their flight. As they do so, as typical for stampeding animals, they trample and overrun anything that's unfortunate enough to be in their way. This proves to be important knowledge, once Applejack figures out that she can manage and divert the komaga stampede with he same techniques that can manage a cattle stampede.
  • Marque and Reprisal: an elephant stampede was used to enable refugees to flee towards Nairobi.
  • The Dominion Jewel in The Rigel Black Chronicles causes all the non-humans around Hogwarts to go berserk and attack the castle, even intelligent species like the centaurs and Professor Lupin, who is forcibly transformed into a wolf and sent on the attack.

     Film — Animated 
  • The Lion King:
    • In the first film, Simba gets in the way of a wildebeest stampede in a gorge that was started by the hyenas startling the wildebeests. Mufasa comes to rescue his son, only to be killed when his treacherous brother Scar pushes him back into the gorge.
    • The Lion King II: Simba's Pride has a far less impressive stampede of rhinos. As Kiara, Kovu, Timon and Pumbaa chase a bunch of birds, they fly towards a herd of rhinos, who charge at the heroes. Fortunately, nobody gets hurt this time.
  • In Tarzan, the young Tarzan accidentally starts an elephant stampede when he tries to snatch some tail hair from them, and the elephants mistake him for a piranha. The elephants almost trample a baby gorilla, but thankfully, Kerchak quick enough to save the infant.
  • The wicked witch Mombi from Filmation's Journey Back to Oz meets her doom this way, when her troop of pachyderms are spooked by a mouse, and flee en masse from the Emerald City. Mombi, disguised as a rose and rooted to the spot, gets trampled horribly by her own massive minions.
  • In The Good Dinosaur, a herd of longhorn bison go on a stampede after attacked by a pack of Velociraptor cattle rustlers. Arlo and the T. rex family fight the rustlers among the stampeding bison.
  • In Asterix Conquers America, The Chief's Daughter runs from a stampede of buffaloes that Obelix single-handedly stops, saving her life and earning her gratitude.
  • In one of the first scenes of Brother Bear, Kenai initiates a stampede of caribou (apparently, he was trying to milk one), which he and his brothers dodge by hiding behind their kayaks.
  • In The Wild, Ryan the lion cub inadvertently makes a herd of gazelles stampede, interrupting the other zoo animals' curling match.

     Film — Live-Action 
  • In King Kong (2005), a herd of Brontosaurus get startled by a pack of raptor-like Venatosaurus. The panicking brontosaurs clumsily run into canyon walls, fall off of cliffs, trip and tumble over each other, and in general harm themselves far more than the predators they're running from ever manage to. Some members of the film crew still get trampled by them.
  • The Cattle Drive that forms the main plot of Red River is interrupted by a stampede. Many cattle are lost, a man is killed, and cattle driver Tom Dunson (John Wayne) starts growing more erratic under the pressure.
  • Jurassic Park:
  • Jumanji:
    • A variety of wildlife stampede through town after being freed by a dice roll, including rhinos, elephants, zebras and pelicans.
    • In Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the main cast must escape a stampeding horde of man-eating rhinoceroses via a damaged helicopter.
    • The third movie, Jumanji: The Next Level has an ostrich stampede.
  • In The Jungle Book (2016), a water buffalo stampede happens, but in a very different context from the book (see below). When Shere Khan ambushes Mowgli, he escapes from the tiger by jumping on a buffalo during the stampede.
  • Humorously subverted in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Butch attempts—at some length—to upset a pen of horses in order to get them to stampede to cover the gang's escape, only to be completely ignored by the creatures.
  • In 10,000 BC, as the slaves try to escape, D'Leh scares a mammoth of burden and starts a mammoth stampede that trample the enemy guards.
  • Played with in Tremors. Val yells "Stampede!" in Earl's ear while he's asleep, causing him to wake up in terror that he's in a stampede. This turns out to be Foreshadowing. At the climax of the movie Val uses an explosion to make the last Graboid (which has sensitive hearing) "stampede" out of the edge of a cliff and suffer a Disney Villain Death.
  • Australia is about a Cattle Drive through the titular continent. When the cattle are scared by a fire set by Carney's men, they go on a stampede. Flynn gets trampled, but Nullah manages to stop the stampede before they fall into a canyon.
  • In City Slickers, Mitch accidentally starts a stampede by turning on his electric coffee grinder.
  • At the climax of The Legend of Tarzan, Tarzan stampedes a herd of wildebeest (with a few lions mixed in) through the city of Boma.
  • In King Solomon's Mines (1950) the safari is caught in a stampede of every animal in Africa caused by wildfires. Only Alan Quartermain's expertise saves them, except for a few bearers who panic and run, only to be trampled.
  • In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a hunting troop of chimpanzees, led by Caesar, make a herd of elk go on a stampede.
  • In The Last Jedi, Finn and Rose free the captive fathiers (giant horse-like beasts used for racing) on Canto Bight, and they wreck the casinos and the streets in their escape.
  • Alpha (2018): The cavemen hunt steppe bison by alerting them into a stampede, then directing the herd toward a canyon where they fall off the cliffs. Keda, the young caveman protagonist, unfortunately, gets attacked by a big bull who breaks from the herd, goring him and pushing him down the cliff as well.

  • Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book has the orphan Mowgli engineer the demise of Shere Khan by receiving news that the tiger is prowling in a canyon, hoping to surprise a herd of water buffalo. Mowgli and his wolf brothers launch a mock attack on the herd from the opposite side, driving them into the same canyon where Shere Khan is staying. The stampede results in a gruesome overkill.
  • In a short story featuring Dana Stabenow's detective character Kate Shugak, a villain is trampled to death (probably) by a stampeding herd of walruses after he shoots at Kate while standing between them and the sea.
  • A cattle stampede features prominently in J.T. Edson's first novel Trail Boss. As one of the staple dangers of trail life, they also occur in several of his later books that feature Cattle Drives.
  • Ben Snow: In "Banner of Blood", the murderers used a cattle stampede to mask the true cause of the victim's death and Make It Look Like an Accident.

  • Johnny Cash has a song called "Stampede" describing a cattle stampede from the perspective from of a cowboy caught in the middle of one.
  • Chris LeDoux's "Stampede" (not the same one) is about a cowboy who dreams of dying in a cattle stampede, and wakes up just in time to hear the night lookout shouting the stampede warning.

     Newspaper Comics 

     Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In both 1st and 2nd Edition cattle, can stampede toward opponents. If they do, each target is run over by 2-8 animals, each doing 1-4 Hit Points of damage.
    • In 1st Edition, herds of herbivorous dinosaurs can stampede if frightened by a large carnivorous dinosaur. If they overrun another creature, they kill it if it is smaller, slower and weaker than themselves.

     Video Games 

     Western Animation 
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
    • In "Sorry, Wrong Ed", Eddy gets suddenly trampled by a stampede of hippos that came from nowhere.
    • There is also the episode "Don't Rain on My Ed" where the Eds have to rush to the candy store only to be blocked by a big stampede of chickens. Ed (who sure loves chickens) dives right into the stampede.
    • In "Shoo Ed", Jonny ends up causing Rolf's animals to stampede by cracking his double joints, upsetting them.
  • A gazelle stampede happens in the climax The Lion Guard: The Return of the Roar. Kiara gets trapped in the stampede that was started by Janja's hyena clan, and gets saved by Bunga, who drives away the gazelles with his Fartillery.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The episode "Applebuck Season" opens with Applejack stopping a herd of stampeding cows coming towards Ponyville after being spooked by a snake, causing a mass panic among the townsponies as the thundering herd bears down on the village. Later in the episode, Applejack's overly aggressive attempts to round up a group of rabbits send them into a stampede as well, resulting in a comical situation where characters are running and hiding in terror as a herd of bunnies stampedes through the town.
    • The central conflict of "Over a Barrel" is that the ponies of the frontier town of Appleloosa planted an apple orchard in the ancient stampeding ground of the buffaloes (who are a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Native Americans). Stampeding also seems to be the primary combat strategy of buffaloes, as they use it both to stop a train from delivering a new apple tree and to bring down the town of the settler ponies.
    • In "The Return of Harmony Part 2", Twilight is stampeded by a horde of bunnies. After the bunnies pass, Twilight has Circling Stars over her head.
  • In an episode of Babar, the rhinoceroses celebrate a holiday called "Rhino Rampage Day", during which they collectively go on a stampede. The conflict arises from the fact that elephants' peanut patch is in their way.
  • In an episode of George of the Jungle, George makes a bet with the billionaire Seymour Nudnick in who can call a bigger stampede of hippos. Seymour transfers hundreds of hippos with helicopters to the jungle, who then go on a stampede. George attempts to outdo him with his hippo-calling yell, but he uses the wrong yell, so instead he calls a gang of hippies.
  • The protagonist of the DreamWorks Animation short Bilby encounters two of these during his journey, one of emus and one of kangaroos.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In his vignette in "The Tales of Ba Sing Se," Aang tries to help relocate the animals from the decrepit Ba Sing Se Zoo, but at first, they just run amok all over the city. In a moment of inspiration, he takes a HUGE breath and blows his trusty bison whistle, causing them to charge off after him as he leads them outside the city gates.


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