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Ascended to Carnivorism

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"That means you eat... wolves?"
"Just the pups. Grown-up wolves are way too chewy."
Sometimes, with Carnivore Confusion, all animals are omnivores. Sometimes, only the evil characters eat meat; herbivores eat plants, and "good" carnivores go vegan or eat bugs/fish. Sometimes, carnivores eat meat, herbivores eat plants, which is accepted as the law of nature as there's nothing anyone can do short of replacing their digestive system. But in some cases, one of the herbivores, a prey animal, might get upset... might get a little obsessive about the injustice... might "crack" a little. Followed by the terrifying (or hilarious) sight of a wildebeest trampling a lion to death and feasting on the corpse.

This trope need not be invoked in vengeance or uprising, but does usually affect a herbivore character that is least a little insane. Often appears in Scavenger Worlds, where scavenging carrion is even considered normal for herbivores.

A subtrope of Carnivore Confusion. Contrast Vegetarian Carnivore for when a normally meat-eating animal decides to switch to a vegetarian diet. No direct relation to Extreme Omnivore however, since the latter refers to actual omnivores.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Beastars: When Louis the deer ends up as the leader of a carnivore criminal gang, he smokes cigarettes and eats meat to fit in and make himself seem more threatening, even though both of those things make him sick, because he's afraid they will kill him if he doesn't. He ends up starving because he can't digest meat until one of the gang members recognizes what is happening and brings him salad. This is a bit of a case of Artistic License – Biology, since in real life his species actually can and occasionally do eat meat.
  • In Tales of the Dark Forest, a half-crazy unicorn decides that if he eats the entire corpse of a human, he can gain human powers, including a digestive tract that can handle meat. He's right, by coincidence.
  • The Sheepwolf from Kirby: Right Back at Ya!.
  • In Pet Shop of Horrors, a breed of rabbits go about attacking and devouring people. And the other species these rabbits take after, the aphid, is herbivorous as well...
  • Episode 6 of Michiko & Hatchin briefly features a fighting bull eating a steak made from an ex-bull.
  • Episode 6 of Pui Pui Molcar ends with Shiromo (a large guinea pig) turning into a zombie, as well as immediately switching from nibbling on a lettuce leaf to stealing a giant beef patty from the human zombies that turned him.
  • Rurune the donkey in The Fruit of Evolution happily eats anything, and that includes meat. Her first taste of human food (after which she refuses to graze like an animal ever again) is a meat-stuffed dumpling dish called a "Bomb". Then she enters a race hoping to win the fifth place prize; the right to eat a giant fish monster called a Bahamut. When several other racers make the mistake of trying to use Deer-Horses in the race, only for them to drop dead at the starting line, she starts drooling whilst excitedly musing about getting to stuff her face with horse meat sashimi at dinner. And this is before she eats a Fruit of Evolution and turns into a human girl!

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • The Lunar Guardsman: Luna has long now learned to eat and even enjoy meat, a result of her obsession and fear of disappointing her sister that drove her to return to her as rarely as possible, thus learning to subside on the flesh of the same monsters she hunted.
  • The Immortal Game: Esteem indulges in eating meat, which is anathema to most ponies.
  • In Fallout: Equestria, plenty of ponies (including some protagonists) rely on meat for sustenance, as plantlife tends to be scarce in the post-apocalyptic setting and the other alternative is centuries-old pre-packaged food. Some even prefer it. Cannibalism also occurs, although it's treated as a clear atrocity.
    • In the Recursive Fic Project Horizons, there's an actual cannibalism virus, which combines increasing mental instability with an extreme hunger for protein. note  Victims are irresistibly compelled to gorge themselves on meat, be it from animals, fellow ponies, or their own limbs.
  • Left Beyond: In the Millennial Kingdom, humans are obligate herbivores, with few exceptions, by Divine decree. One of the hints that the world is finally getting Off the Rails is Jenny being able to eat meat, after a few tries. Later on in the timeline, synthetic meat and fish are reinvented, making it easier to disguise the fact that only Jenny and the Dwarves was able to fully make the leap.
  • In the Pandoraverse, ponies from the Oatstralian Oatsback tend to be more omnivorous than your average pony, due to the harshness of their home environment, and even have pointier canines to help eating meat. Bruce, for instance, sees nothing wrong with his catching and eating fish. This doesn't translate very well, culturally—Aerostorm once fainted dead away when he came across a rather bloody Bruce filleting a large trout.
  • Remmy Cormo of Pack Street is a ramnote  with a taste for Bug Burga, fast food made with arthropod meat. Later on he finds out he's an even bigger fan of fish.
  • Though not shown in her actual art, Earthsong9405 views My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic's ponies as more omnivorous than real horses. They even actively hunt other animals.
  • In Tiny Sapient Ungulates The ponies gained sapience partially due to feeding on dairy and eggs (which is canon to the show).

    Films — Animation 
  • Finding Nemo ends with the little green fish from the sharks' meeting gobbling up the Anglerfish.
  • Happy Feet Two features a krill who's tired of being at the bottom of the food chain and wants to "eat something that has a face".
  • We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story apparently features a Triceratops named Woog and a Parasaurolophus named Dweeb, who both for some reason actually like to eat hot dogs. Amusingly a potential example of Accidentally Correct Writing, since there's now a theory that some ornithischian dinosaurs may have occasionally consumed carrion and small vertebrates for extra protein (as mentioned under Real Life examples below).
  • In the Disney film The Wild, the wicked wildebeest Kazar is tired of always being hunted by predators, so he decides to make himself the top of the food chain — by eating a lion, no less. Kazar's Lieutenant, Blag and the rest of the wildebeests, on the other hand, don't really want to become predators, but Kazar abuses and threatens them. They stand up to him at the end of the climax.
  • The "Rite of Spring" segment in Fantasia featured Plateosaurus (possibly omnivorous also in Real Life) and Kannemeyeria digging for clams to eat.
  • Ringing Bell: The last part has Chirin turn into a demonic, flesh-eating ram upon becoming an adult.
  • The Dingo Pictures movie Dinosaur Adventure has some herbivorous dinosaurs led by Ark turn to meat-eating after the volcano erupts.
  • Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs has an Ankylosaurus that attacks the main cast, which would be typical aggressive herbivore behavior if it weren't for the fact it is depicted with jaws full of razor-sharp teeth like a carnivorous dinosaur, even attempting to bite the protagonists with them at one point. Plus the novelization outright states it was trying to eat them. However, that doesn't explain why it didn't try to eat Crash and Eddie when it got the chance (it just tried to smash them with its tail).
  • A Bug's Life: While Hopper and most of his gang are herbivores like real grasshoppers, Thumper is the exception; he's creepily preferential towards meat and tries to eat Dot multiple times. Tellingly, he more closely resembles a species of weta (grasshopper-like crickets that consume meat regularly) than anyone else in the gang.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey: In the first act, The Monolith is sent by unseen alien Precursors to teach the ancestors of the human species to eat meat so that they can survive a drought. (While doing research for the novel, Arthur C. Clarke consulted Isaac Asimov about the biochemistry of turning herbivores into carnivores, but none of this shows up in the final story.)
  • Congo: The gorillas were forced to eat meat to make them the perfect guards for the temple of Zinj.
  • Raw: The lifelong vegetarian Justine gets her first taste of meat during a hazing ceremony, and discovers that her mother's dietary insistence wasn't military veganism — it sparks a fanatical obsession with eating meat, especially human flesh...
  • Zoombies blends this with your standard flesh-eating zombie, in that all the infected animals at the zoo crave the flesh of the living, including what would otherwise be herbivores.
  • Godzilla (1998): Marine iguanas are strictly vegetarians dining on seaweed, but Zilla's diet consists mainly of fish.
  • King Kong (1933): One of the crewmembers looking for Ann is eaten alive by a sauropod.

  • After Man: A Zoology of the Future: After the carnivorans mostly went extinct, rats filled their former niches to become the dominant predators in most environments. Similarly, the African plains are dominated by predatory monkeys.
  • Evolution: The Antarctican descendants of the herbivorous Leaellynasaura adapted to eating meat and became scavengers.
  • Miss Bindergarten: Animals like quokkas are shown to be also capable of eating meat products.
  • Watership Down: The creation story has all animal species start out as grass-eating herbivores, some of which were transformed into carnivores by Frith (God) to keep rabbits' numbers in check.
  • James and the Giant Peach: In the backstory, a rhinoceros eats James' parents.
  • Cryptid Hunters: Mokele-mbembe, a living genus of sauropod, has apparently evolved to be a carnivore in the 65 million years since the dinosaurs' extinction.
  • The tie-in illustrated book A Natural History of Skull Island features animals that shared Kong's Death World ecosystem, including a genus of parrots that gave up on the nut-cracking and became scavengers, complete with vulture-like bald heads.
  • Forest Kingdom: In the Hawk & Fisher spinoff series' book 6 (The Bones of Haven), the ghosts of animals that were killed at a slaughterhouse are summoned up en masse and rampage through the city. Crazed and furious, they retaliate against humanity by killing and eating people: a gruesome act of vengeance that even the sheep take part in.
  • One BattleTech Expanded Universe novel features homicidal oversized carnivorous deer. These animals are used to inflict a Cruel and Unusual Death on some Drop Ship crewmen who raped and abused local girls. Their antlers and hooves are noted to be exceptionally hard, and the animals themselves are too vicious to be stopped by casual gunfire, ultimately trampling and goring the offending rapists to death before eating the victims down to the skeleton.
  • Tarzan: The Gryfs from Tarzan the Terrible are descendants of Triceratops that evolved to eat meat as well as plants.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of River Monsters features a herbivorous fish from the Amazon that got transplanted to Papua New Guinea, and after depleting the vegetation the way invasive species do, began supplementing its diet with flesh. This fish, the Red-Bellied Pacu, has human-like teeth in a piranha-like body, though its bite is considerably more painful than that of the piranha, due to it not being designed for that particular dietary practice.
  • In season 17 of the American version of The Amazing Race, Kat who hadn't eaten meat since she was a child didn't hesitate to eat half a sheep's head to get a Fast Forward (all but a guarantee for first place in the leg). She said that while she's proud to be a vegetarian, a million dollars was on the line and she wanted to pay off her substantial medical school debt. Meredith in season 7 and Terrence in 13 were both vegetarians but complained about having to eat meat.
  • One surprising development on the rehabilitating-apes-to-live-free documentary series Orangutan Island was when one of the young adult females discovered how to catch and eat catfish from the river surrounding the island.
  • Happens to Spock in the Star Trek episode "All Our Yesterdays." Trapped 5,000 years in the past, back when the Vulcans were "less evolved," Spock falls for Zarabeth, a political prisoner sent back to that planet's Ice Age. Since there are no plants anywhere nearby, Spock is forced to eat "animal flesh" to survive, which he finds initially repulsive (modern Vulcans are vegetarians). As the episode goes on though, he admits he likes the taste and chalks it up to a psychic link with the past Vulcan society.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In the "Just So" Story The Deer and the Panther Share a House, after Panther brings home the leftovers of a dead deer, Deer goes out and (with the help of an anteater) hunts down a panther for dinner.
  • According to one version of legend, the Minotaur from Greek mythology was given live humans for food because, as the result of an unnatural union of a human and a bull, it had no natural food and therefore had to eat manflesh.
  • The mythical Thracian king Diomedes had a herd of man-eating horses. Stealing them was among the Twelve Labors of Herakles/Hercules, who ended up feeding Diomedes to them (which rendered them tame).
  • Another Greek mythology example, in the tale of Psyche there were wild sheep with gleaming wool that not only inexplicably possessed a venomous bite, but were carnivorous and would have eaten Psyche if she gave them the chance.
  • According to certain interpretations of the Book of Genesis, humans, and possibly all other animals, started off vegetarian. After the Flood, God told Noah that he could start eating meat.
  • Drop bears are described as large carnivorous koalas. Actual koalas live off leaves from the eucalyptus trees where they make their homes. They can become surprisingly aggressive if you piss them off, and as tree-climbing animals, their claws are nothing to sneeze at (not to mention filthy, which means a high risk of infection from scratches). But they won't eat you.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In Dinosaurs, Earl's boss, BP Richfield, is a triceratops who has been known to eat employees who disagree with him (and his daughter's exes).
  • An unusual human variation occurred in Mr. Meaty in which a group of soy-centric vegetarians were supposed to eat their new employee, as part of a plan that even they didn't really understand due to their extremely confusing "circle of life" chart that made no sense whatsoever.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted: The Dragon Kings, creatures resembling sapient Mesozoic reptiles, are all carnivorous regardless of species. What's particularly odd is that the one species noted to be partially omnivorous and willing to eat plants are the Raptok, who are based of the actually predatory dromaeosaurs — the Anklok, the only breed based on strictly herbivorous animals, are pure meat-eaters.
  • Traveller The New Era supplement Aliens of the Rim: Hivers and Ithklur. During a military campaign between the herbivorous K'Kree and the Ithklur, the fighting became so bitter that each side started performing atrocities on the other, including the K'Kree eating dead Ithklur bodies.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: In "The Curse of Xanathon", one of the screwy proclamations issued by an insane king is that horses in his kingdom should be fed nothing but meat, supposedly to make them strong. This is one of several such orders intended to weaken the kingdom in preparation for a takeover by the evil priest who caused the king's insanity.
  • Fairy Meat: In the backstory, fairies were once peaceful creatures that fed only on honey and fruit. However, a curious fairy named Merryzot tasted the flesh of a dead mouse, and found the taste of meat to be ferociously addictive... and it was eventually discovered that the meat of other fairies was the tastiest of all.
  • Dinosaurs Attack!: All of the dinosaurs — carnivorous or otherwise — are depicted as ravenous, bloodthirsty killers with a taste for human flesh. This leads to such sights as a Parasaurolophus eating a baby!

    Video Games 
  • In Overlord I, The Corruption that has swept through the Elven forest has driven the local unicorns mad, causing them to become murderous carnivores — they're introduced ripping out the guts of dwarven corpses and gorging on the entrails.
  • In D2, protagonist Laura discovers that she was cloned from the remains of a prehistoric Winged Humanoid that was found preserved in a glacier...inside the stomach of a woolly mammoth.
  • Banjo-Tooie has a baby Styracosaurus with a taste for meat. This became retroactively poignant, as some scientists now consider ceratopsians to be omnivorous.
  • Happens to a human in Pandora's Tower. The heroine, Elena, was formerly a devout Miko of a religion that prohibits the consumption of meat. Unfortunately, Elena is suffering from the Curse of the Beast, which slowly transforms her into a hideous monster and can only be temporarily quelled by eating the flesh of beasts. While meat initially makes her disgusted and nauseous, she eventually adapts to eating it over the course of the game. If the player neglects to feed her, she becomes desperate enough to start eating animals like birds.
  • Fallout 4 features Radstags, deer mutated by nuclear fallout into the animal equivalent of Conjoined Twins — the creature(s) split at the middle of the spine, so they have two heads and a total of four forelegs, though the middle two are too atrophied to function. The ones encountered in the main game are harmless, with the exception of males or certain variants like Rabid Radstags that will initiate combat if you get too close, but the Far Harbor DLC introduces Devolved Radstags, which sport pronounced fangs and are actively predatory, attacking anything they encounter.
  • In Path of Exile, Yeena in Act 2 mentions that the murderous packs of apes you encounter used to feast on nuts and berries before turning to full-blown cannibalism and hungering for flesh in general.
  • One method of eliminating targets in Hitman 2 is to feed them to a hippopotamus. It should be noted that hippos, while quite violent and territorial, are herbivores in real life. Said hippo grew a taste for meat after being fed one too many of the cartel's victims, and a handler is trying to switch its diet to normal when we see it.
  • Gorila Grodd in Injustice 2, who is occasionally implied to eat people — or at least their brains.
    Blue Beetle: Scarab says gorillas are herbivores.
    Grodd: Most are. I'm not.
  • Tooth and Tail: The game's premise is based on a cultural version of this trope. The Funny Animals in the game are all omnivores, but view vegetables as "the food of beasts" and view meat-eating as a virtue and a necessity for civilization. Consequently they had a Slave Race of pigs (the pigs being fed all the vegetables) that provided the meat needed to keep this going, but the pigs are going extinct. The result is a Lottery of Doom over who gets to get eaten, and when that inevitably failed, a civil war because the animals refuse to stop eating meat and would rather kill each other for food than turn to a sustainable diet. In the end, the remaining pigs start a Slave Revolt and kill all the other animals.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures: The demons Kira and Lorenda Soulstealer are voracious cannibals who eat countless other Beings — at least, in the early days of the series. They also happen to be an anthropomorphic zebra and a cow respectively.
  • Digger:
    • Digger the wombat is forced to do this at a Hyena funeral, but is horrified by the idea. Turns out her fears were justified; she then gets very, very ill.
    • The hyena tribe also has an inversion of this in one of their origin stories. In hyena mythology, hares were originally carnivores and descended to herbivorism.
  • Dominic Deegan: Subverted when a character who failed to realise the difference between orcs being herbivores and vegetarians (in this universe they're the former) tries to convince an orc character to eat jerky to prove that they can eat meat. Vomiting ensues. The reason for the confusion is because orcs have massive tusks. The reason for that is because plant life in their native land is impossibly tough (when Luna saw an orc plant at one point, she thought it was the cutting board).
  • Freefall has a truly surreal example: Dvorak's waffle irons. He programmed them to recharge when their batteries ran low; he never specified how.
  • The Kenny Chronicles: Lagomorph Fuego accidentally eats Kenny's meat pizza, but his interior is mostly human guts so it's all good. Then he gains an addiction to meat in general.
  • Kevin & Kell:
    • Sort of happened in when a dimensional traveler who was "furrified" into a rabbit on arrival maintained her omnivorous diet. This caused some shock to the local herbivores when she killed and ate a panther that attacked her.
    • And of course, Coney the Killer Rabbit, justified as she's half-wolf.
    • Inverted by Bruno, a wolf who turns herbivore and even has a suitable digestive tract surgically installed. He also later gets herbivore teeth implanted after a fight with Rudy costs him his carnivore teeth.
    • Zigzagged with Lindesfarne. As a hedgehog, she was naturally inclined toward being an insectivore, but her adopted mother Angelique forced her to register as a herbivore because she found hunting for bugs too much a hassle. Eventually, after living for years as a herbivore, she converts back to being an insectivore so she can become nocturnal and on the same circadian rhythm as her love interest Fenton. (She does note that even when she was a herbivore, she only felt hungry when bugs were around.)
    • For a brief moment, Corrie the sheep was able to do this in order to save her stepsister's life. (It did help that she's half wolf like Coney.) Her ability to do this later comes up when Bruno is nearly disqualified from hunting for transitioning to herbivorism when she suggests sneaking into his eligibility hearing and eating the meat for him. They don't go through with it because the 'meat' Bruno was supposed to eat turned out to be Corrie's clone Mary, and Bruno ends up eating the sheepskin sewn onto an old carpet patch he wears to hide that they snuck Mary out of the exam. At least he got his fiber for the year.
  • Sandra and Woo: Sid encounters Ruth, a squirrel who wasn't happy with her place on the food chain. She acquired a gun and only eats apex predators.
  • Sluggy Freelance: The cast always makes sure the literal Killer Rabbit Bun-Bun doesn't get hungry, fearing he might say "what the hell, let's give meat a try."
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: All Rash-infected creatures, including ones that used to be herbivores before succumbing to the disease, are carnivorous and will readily prey on healthy and diseased beings alike, something seen in the coming in the form of cows feeding on wolf corpses and a moose that later tries to prey on three bears.

    Web Original 
  • In the Furry Fandom, vore stories and artwork, sometimes feature animals not known to be predators in real life acting as the predator. One example is Fomo from Sibylline Sounds, who is a mouse who loves to eat cats.
  • This shirt and the accompanying description is not about retribution or turnabout, but is worth noting.
  • Serina
    • Only 10'000 years after being transplanted to the titular moon, some canaries take to eating insects and the eggs of other canaries. Eventually some of these egg eaters escalate to eating unattended chicks and even fledglings and later still they graduate to hunting other adults and become Serina's first predatory birds.
    • 188 million years after establishment, some of the herbivorous circuagodonts quickly develop into full carnivores thanks to their unique slicing jaw parts being just as adept at cutting through meat as they are through grass. This more effective method, their higher intelligence and social hunting allow them to completely displace the more traditionally predatory dogbeasts by the time of the Ultimocene.

    Web Video 
  • Uncle Al: In "Donkey Kannibal", Donkey Kong gets rid of his banana hoard after he decides he no longer needs bananas in his diet and shifts focus to eating meat, much to the concern of Diddy.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Helter Shelter," the retirement home residents are watching a nature show about elderly animals. An elderly lion runs out of energy, whereupon the zebra turns around and takes a bite out of it.
    • The Simpsons also sometimes portray koalas as savage carnivores, often gnawing on bones during panning shots of a zoo.
    • Same can go for elephants, in which they've been depicted as grabbing people to eat them whole. One exception being Stampy, who only puts them in his mouth.
      "Now I've had my head in an elephant, a hippo, and a giant sloth."
    • In an educational film Troy McClure tells Little Jimmy about the food chain. "If a cow ever got the chance he'd would eat you and everyone you care about!"
    • In "The Scorpion's Tale", a shark consumes a tube of chemicals that turns an animal docile making it harmless. This causes a school of herring it was chasing to swarm up on it and devour it like hungry piranhas, leaving it nothing but cartilage.
    • One "Treehouse of Horror" segment, "Burger Squared", had Krusty Burger feeding Grade A ground beef to cows and then making burgers from those cows. They turned people into zombies.
  • A throwaway joke in Futurama included a fast food vendor at a ball park announcing that his horse meat (cows are apparently extinct) comes from horses that are "100% horse-fed for that double-horse juiced-in goodness!"
  • A Looney Tunes short in which Sylvester and Tweety are Snowed-In featured a mouse who hasn't eaten in so long he "forgot what food looks like." He takes one look at Sylvester and decides to have him for dinner. The same plot was reused later in a Pink Panther short.
  • The Mickey Mouse short "The Worm Turns" is actually about Mickey Mouse inventing a spritzer that can cause prey animals to turn against their respective predators: A fly attacks a spider, a mouse attacks a cat, a cat attacks Pluto, and finally Pluto attacks Pete the dogcatcher.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Road to the North Pole", Santa's reindeer had started eating elves and tore apart any elf that wandered near them.
  • Sort of. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic mostly averts this with the ponies eating things like daffodil sandwiches, but they also eat eggs and honey, and drink milk, all of which are animal products. This goes a bit beyond the usual diet of real horses, but they are certainly not carnivores. note  "Magical Mystery Cure" plays this as a joke when Rainbow Dash tries to take care of Fluttershy's animals: she does such an awful job that the animals (who are primarily herbivores such as squirrels, rabbits, and chickens) end up rebelling and putting her in a pot to cook her.
  • Kaeloo:
    • In the episode "Let's Play Trap-Trap", Quack Quack gets hungry after not eating any yogurt for one hour. He then tries to eat Stumpy and Kaeloo.
    • In Episode 61, Stumpy (who is a squirrel) and Kaeloo (a frog) get stranded on an island together. Before long, Stumpy attempts to cannibalize Kaeloo. Also, in the English dub, Stumpy's Trademark Favorite Food is changed from paninis to hot dogs.
    • Eugly the rabbit eats sheep.
  • In the Terrytoons cartoon "Silly Sidney", the eponymous Sidney (an elephant) tires of eating vegetable material, and asks a lion how to turn carnivore; he balks at the work involved in chasing down prey.
  • In Llama Llama, despite the cast mainly consisting of herbivorous animals like llamas, sheep, goats, and giraffes, the characters often mention eating meat products like fish casserole and sausage.
  • Leslie from The Amazing World of Gumball, who is a strict carnivore despite being an anthropomorphic flower. He reasons that this way he's "not eating [his] own kind", and tries to get his cousin (a peanut) to do the same by taking an outraged tone while describing the way vegetables are prepared (in a parody of the way a stereotypical vegetarian talks about how livestock are treated). If Leslie also lives off sunlight like an actual flower isn't stated here, but is shown in later episodes.
  • In The Fairly OddParents, hamsters and gerbils are frequently depicted as loving steak.
  • Heffer from Rocko's Modern Life is a steer who loves to eat meat (and anything else, too). Justified by the fact that he was raised by a family of wolves.
  • In the OVNI episode "Mesozoïca", the group of baby sauropods accompanied by Coda the alien gets suddenly eaten by a triceratops, right before Coda gets munched by another triceratops from behind.

    Real Life 
  • Actually subverted in most cases: many examples of normally herbivorous animals that become carnivorous rarely intend to eat the flesh of their victim, they are usually chewing the bones to get calcium and other minerals, whether they eat a small animal alive or scavenge the carrion of a larger one.
  • This can go a step further with insectivores; while many of these animals are already omnivores, even they're not above eating full-on meat. Take the Great spotted woodpecker of Eurasia, whose diet primary consists of seeds, nuts, fruit, small insects... but can also eat baby birds fresh from the nests of other avians and carrion of large animals, if they can find some lying around.
  • Many herbivorous animals aren't above nibbling on sources of meat if it's available, especially if their diets are running low on essential nutrients. Cattle have been documented devouring chickens for the iron in blood, and hippos will scavenge on the carcasses of other animals (their own species included). As meat is easier to digest than leaves, even an animal ill-equipped to hunt prey is unlikely to pass up fresh protein that's just lying there.
    • However, a herbivore's teeth and jaws aren't adapted to eating meat, so it couldn't live entirely off meat like an actual carnivore even if it could hunt enough prey. Additionally, stomach illnesses, organ diseases, bone growth abnormalities, and death have been reported in cases of herbivores that were fed excessive amounts of meat. So, it's better to understand most of the cases listed below as being like humans treating themselves to a bit of junk food rather than that "herbivores are just lazy predators".
  • There are a number of ancient accounts of normally herbivorous animals eating some meat, that more recently were labeled misunderstanding, exaggerations, or entirely myths. Bucephalus was described in some accounts as literally a man-eater, and much more modern accounts of the life of Alexander the Great have consistently decided that Bucephalus did not eat the flesh of humans he killed, but was instead a bad-tempered stallion, prone to biting. Other accounts of deer, sheep, cattle, and other grazing animals eating some meat have been similarly dismissed until recently when the uncommon behavior was caught on camera.
  • Most primates are primarily frugivorous, and it was a pretty convenient way of obtaining glucose in a jungle where sweet fruits are everywhere. Many primates have anatomical specializations that allow them to eat fruit, leaves, gum or insects. However, several species have developed a taste for meat as well, becoming outright omnivores, including Tarsiers (have ascended to obligate carnivory as they eat only insects, crustaceans, small vertebrates, and snakes), capuchin monkeys, baboons, chimpanzees, and humans. Chimpanzees and (especially) humans are two species noted for accelerated brain development, forcing opportunistic all-consuming omnivory because herbivorous adaptations (multiple rumination stomachs as in cows, or large appendixes and nutrient-absorbing colons as in gorillas) are slow and inefficient to supply it.
  • Carnivory is frequently reported in deer as many of the examples here will attest, but what is often left out in these descriptions is that the animals were males in the process of growing antlers for rutting season. Deer shed off and regrow their antlers every year. To grow the antlers back in just a few months and make them as large and strong enough to impress females and fight rival males, the animal must consume a great deal of nutrient-rich food. And it happens to be the protein and calcium of small animals excels at accelerating antler growth.
  • The traditional Inuit diet is the closest humans have come to being completely carnivorous, due to living in harsh Arctic tundras with little to no edible plants year round. It’s accomplished by eating the entire animal, eating the meat raw or frozen (retaining heat-perishable nutrients such as Vitamin C, and the carbohydrate glycogen) and consuming more than enough fat to prevent protein poisoning.
  • Red deer are in the Guiness Book of World Records as "Most Bloodthirsty Ungulate." It actively devours birds, small mammals, and even other deer. Cameras set up near bait left for wolves and coyotes show that more often than not, the deer are the first ones to show up and pick everything clean. They've also been known to eat the heads (just the heads) off of birds if calcium deprived. Suddenly, their name seems to be very appropriate...
    • However, even that ignores pigs, which are the only even-toed ungulates to have kept their ancestral omnivory, instead of turning into herbivory like camels or ruminants. Cetaceans, on the other hand, went from riverside small ungulate omnivores to a fully predatory group that also doesn't have much in the area of hooves. Or hindlimbs.
  • Here are some otherwise strictly herbivorous animals that have been reported to nibble on sources of meat if it's available:
    • Deer (see above)
    • Cattle
    • Hares and pikas
    • Hippos (see above)
    • Manatees
    • Elephants (see below)
    • Horses and mules
    • Even Galapagos tortoises (see below)
  • A rogue Asian elephant had killed 17 people in India. Once it was killed, DNA tests on the contents of its stomach revealed that it had consumed human flesh. In a sad twist, the elephant in question had gone rogue because its calf was killed by hunters. Considering how mentally complex elephants are known to be, this suggests the consumption of meat in this case was a result of the animal going mad with grief.
  • Some industrial producers of meat feed meat animals... well... meat. Usually they are "animal byproducts" that people wouldn't eat if you paid them. Unfortunately, the inclusion of cow neural tissue in cow-feed is responsible for Bovine Spongiform Encephelopathy (BSE), AKA Mad Cow Disease. This is why we can't eat cow brains, which were traditionally consumed (and considered delicious) by many cultures (and not just ones noted for liking offal—the Midwest's fried-brain sandwich used to be made out of cow cortex).
  • In evolution, animals have switched from herbivore to carnivore countless times. For example, some species of ornithischian dinosaurs probably included some meat in their diet, like the pachycephalosaurs and heterodontosaurs. There's even a new theory that freaking Triceratops ate some meat from time to time. Yikes.
  • Regardless of diet, most placental mammal mothers eat the afterbirth after bearing young, to reclaim valuable protein and minerals their bodies will need to sustain nutrient-costly lactation. It also serves to eliminate the smell of a newborn baby, which attracts carnivores in search of an easy meal from miles around.
  • In this video a cow actively pursues and devours a live baby chick.
  • Two videos of a deer and a horse, chasing and eating respectively one and three baby birds.
  • Duikers.
  • According to a recent study, Galapagos Tortoises (yes, the beloved and humble Gentle Giant of reptiles) will take advantage of their relationship with Galapagos finches and eat them for protein. To do this, they rise and extend their limbs so that the finch could look for parasites to feed on, only to be crushed to death when the tortoise withdraws its limbs.
  • Dinosaurs arose from omnivore ancestors, with adaptations for either herbivory or hypercarnivory arising later; small animals like Eoraptor gave rise to both theropods like Tyrannosaurus and sauropods like Apatosaurus.
    • A special mention is due to dromaeosaurids, hypercarnivorous animals belonging to the mostly omnivorous (and with plenty of herbivorous members) maniraptorans, themselves descended from hypercarnivorous theropods.
  • Herbivory didn't appear in vertebrates until large reptiles and synapsids started to take said niche, some 300 million years after the first vertebrates appeared.
  • Plenty of herbivorous invertebrate taxa have a few meat-eating species among them, like carnivorous caterpillars or predatory snails. Still others eat plants for their staple diet, but (as with locusts) start chowing down on their fellow bugs without hesitation when leaves get scarce and/or they're overcrowded.
  • Even the humble sea sponge gets in on this. Most filter feed on whatever microscopic food particles float their way. Some, such as the genus Chondrocladia, capture and feed on small crustaceans.
  • Humans who adopt an all-meat or near all-meat diet often claim to feel stronger and more energized. However, they eventually run into the same problems as others who eat a similarly-restricted diet, like vegans. In this case, meat naturally contains very little fiber, so constipation may be an issue.
  • Some horses have been known to eat meat—including grisly insane man-eating killers.
  • A deer has been photographed scavenging from a human corpse.
  • Green iguanas, though normally herbivorous, will eat meat if it's easily available and doesn't require too much biting.
  • A 2017 study of a hadrosaur coprolite revealed that it contained the remains of a crustacean (presumably either a crab or crayfish) inside of it alongside rotten wood. Its been suggested that its to help build up calcium for eggs.
  • Moths of the genus Calyptra are known as "vampire moths" because they feed on blood. It's thought that their ancestors originally evolved stronger mouthparts to penetrate fruit and suck out the juice.
  • Every mosquito, male or female, drinks plant sap and nectar to feed itself. It's only when a female is producing eggs that she requires, and seeks out, the animal proteins and iron in blood.
  • The predatory marsupial Thylacoleo, which lived in Australia up until about 40,000 years ago, was a textbook case of this. Its ancestors were relatives of koalas and wombats, both of which are strictly herbivorous, and they likely had herbivorous ancestors based on their rodent-like teeth. But their incisors had evolved into razor-sharp blades for slicing meat, allowing them to become Australia's top predators. It presumably killed its prey by pouncing on it from the treetops. That's right, the Drop Bear was REAL.
  • Speaking of prehistoric Australian marsupials, kangaroos of the genus Propleopus probably ate at least some meat.
  • Many cetaceans (whales, dolphins) primarily eat fish and other sea animals, with some like orcas even feeding on seals and other mammals. Their nearest living relatives on land are the herbivorous hippos, and whales are thought to have evolved from herbivorous quadrupeds who changed their diet after taking to the sea.
  • Amphibians are generally herbivorous in their larval stages, only to become carnivorous as adults.
  • Giant Pandas will eat meat, fish, and eggs when available.
  • Many arctic hares will resort to scavenging during the winter, including eating the carcasses of other hares and even lynxes, which normally eat them. One was even caught eating the feathers off of a dead grouse (something even predators rarely do)!
  • Some species of plants have evolved to carnivorism and actively require the flesh of animals to survive, such as the famous venus flytrap and pitcher plant. This is usually an adaptation of their environment: many carnivorous plants' niche are in regions with high light but low soil nitrogen and phosphorous, so they trade away efficient photosynthesis to develop ways to obtain their nutrients from prey instead.


Video Example(s):


POW-eating elephant

That elephant ate my entire platoon.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / AscendedToCarnivorism

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