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Bears Are Bad News

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Absolutely not a bear you'd want to cuddle with.
"Just so you know... I don't feel mercy or sympathy. Cuz I'm a bear, after all."

Want to make a bad situation worse? Add a bear!

Just as monkeys and penguins are used to make something funnier or cuter, bears have a knack for scaring the crap out of everyone. Polar and brown bears are the largest extant land-based predators in the world, with a penchant for aggressive behavior, so it's easy to see why.note  Because of this, throwing a bear into a scene is the best way to let the audience know that our heroes have gone beyond rock bottom and are now totally screwed.

In many a film and television show, our heroes will quite often find themselves cooped up in a cabin as a killer bear is just outside, trying to get in.

This can sometimes be Truth in Television. Being between a mama bear and her cub has been justly described as the most dangerous place on earth, but any number of bears can be very dangerous indeed.


Another issue is that bears are very intelligent (often regarded as being very close to chimpanzees) and they actually have individual personalities. This adds to their unpredictability as to how a bear reacts to a certain situation will entirely depend on both the bear itself and the mood it's in at the time.

Bears have such a long history of scaring the Pooh out of human beings that most of the names we've ever given them are derived from conciliatory euphemisms, as part of an old taboo against naming something so dangerous. The English word 'bear' originally meant "brown one", and the Slavic word medved originally meant "honey eater." Even the original Proto-Indo-European word was related to the word for "destruction", proving just how ancient this particular Primal Fear is.

Incidentally, this same fear has also inspired great respect, as such, a great way to raise the credentials of any badass, villain, or Anti-Hero if you give them a bear. Especially as a mount, because there's nothing cooler than riding a bear... except maybe a robot bear or zombie bear, or a bear made of fire or ice...


Ursine Aliens can also invoke this. Contrast with to Panda-ing to the Audience, Beary Funny and Beary Friendly, which are about more positive depictions of bears.

Do not confuse this with The Bad News Bears (the Trope Namer, though not an example), with the Bearer of Bad News, with The Bear, which is about a big hairy Manly Gay guy, or with Exit, Pursued by a Bear, though that trope's name is an example of this trope. In the Land Down Under, you should watch out for drop bears, though those are supposedly carnivorous koalas rather than actual bears — but even real koalas can be plenty dangerous in their own right, being Australian Wildlife and all. Mama Bear may be related but is usually metaphorical.

For animals that tend to get a similar treatment, see Savage Wolves, Cruel Elephant, Rhino Rampage, Maniac Monkeys (and Killer Gorilla), Threatening Shark, and Reptiles Are Abhorrent (and Never Smile at a Crocodile). Often a Super-Trope to Fighting Panda, for when pandas are portrayed as martial artists capable of kicking ass. Contrast Beary Friendly and Beary Funny where bears aren't bad news.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Asian Animation 
  • Boonie Bears: Downplayed. While the eponymous bears do have a tendency to mess with Logger Vick, it's only in relation to his job as a woodcutter since the bears don't want their forest destroyed. The bears are actually on decent terms with Logger Vick otherwise and would never outright attack him.
  • Happy Heroes: In episode 10, a bear attacks Big M. and makes off with his bread. It comes back at the end of the episode, this time going after his fish.
  • Lamput: In "Skinny Monster", Fat Doc tries to get the attention of a creature he thinks is Slim Doc as a monster. Slim Doc comes back a few seconds later and demonstrates his monster potion has worn off; the creature Fat Doc poked turns out to be a bear and chases the two for having pestered it.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: It's a Running Gag that Wolffy has a tendency to be attacked or otherwise bothered by bears.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The flavor text for the card Grizzly Bears reads Don't try to outrun one of Dominia's Grizzlies; it'll catch you, knock you down and eat you. Of course, you could run up a tree. In that case, you'll get a nice view before it knocks the tree down and eats you. In the early days of Magic, a 2/2 creature with no abilities cost 3 mana, 1 of the creature's color and 2 of any color, while the Grizzly Bears (also 2/2 with no abilities) is only 2 mana; 1 green, 1 other. Thus, they're faster.
    • Other Bears in Magic include Werebear (starts off a weak 1/1, but get seven cards in your graveyard and it turns 4/4), Ashcoat Bear (you're not even safe from your opponent summoning bears during your turn), and Bearscape (they can come from anywhere!)
    • The bears of Tarkir are even worse news than usual since they start at power 4 and weigh somewhere around a ton. The Khan of the Temur, Surrak Dragonclaw, earned both his position and his many scars by fighting one, which is an achievement roughly on par with stopping an oncoming car by punching it. This changes somewhat in the plane's new timeline, as the return of the dragons knocks the bears down several pegs in the food chain, especially since dragons are noted to find bear flesh quite tasty — although this has the side effect of winnowing the bear populations down to the absolute meanest, fiercest and most battle-hardened bears around.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has two pandas with uncontrollable tempers, Gyaku-Gire Panda and Maji-Gire Panda. There's also Mother Grizzly.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes has a Story Arc where Calvin decides to run away from home with Hobbes because he tried to push the car out of the garage and it accidentally rolled into a ditch. Walking through the woods, they think they hear something big crashing through the brush, and climb a tree out of fear that it's a bear:
    Calvin: There it is! The bear's coming out of the brush! Oh no! It looks like it's on its hind legs! Bears stand up only when they're really mad!!
    Hobbes: Wait, that's not a bear. That's your mom!
  • There's a Far Side cartoon in which a bar fight is happening in an old Western saloon. From the speed at which people are running out the door/being thrown through the window, it's implicit that there's a pretty tough guy inside. Well, his bear is parked outside among the horses.
    • Gary Larson actually did this a few times. Another example can be summarized by quoting the caption. Two bear hunters are examining the gruesome fate of a third, and one of them says:
    There he is, just like all the others. Tied up with his own shotgun, hunting license stuffed in his mouth. I want this bear, Dave. I want him bad.
    • In one strip a shark tricks a bunch of beach-goers into the water by shouting "Bear! Bear!"
    • In another one, the well-known fact that female bears are fiercely protective of their offspring was lampooned, where the cartoon had a tired office worker absent-mindedly stepping into an elevator between a mother grizzly and her cub. (She seemed docile in the scene as shown, but according to the caption, what was about to happen would not be pleasant.)
    • Another one has two boys playing catch with what appears to be a teddy bear...
    And no one ever heard from the Anderson Brothers again.
    • Another has two bears observing some picnickers, and one says to the other:
    "C'mon Look at these fangs! Look at these claws! You think we're supposed to eat just honey and berries"
  • Garfield tends to have trouble with bears on Jon's Horrible Camping Trips; one of the worst (which provides the current image for Mistaken Identity) was when he found what he thought was his teddy bear Pooky away from the campsite, only to find the real Pooky and a very angry bear there. "Momma!" cries the — real — bear cub he's holding.
  • A recurring storyline in Non Sequitur is "Homer the Reluctant Soul" which involves Homer's numerous lives and rebirths; many of them end at the hands of a bear; at the end of one of his lives, it revealed that this is actually the same bear, whom he has met in the bear's numerous lives. (Its name in the afterlife is Maurice; when he confronts it there, it simply says, "Right, like the food chain is my fault?")
  • Rhymes With Orange has a strip set in an office building. There's a live bear in a display case with the case labeled, "To put your emergency in perspective, break glass."

    Fairy Tales 
  • In "The Brown Bear of the Green Glen", John's first impression; it has to threaten him to get him out of the tree.
  • "The Cat on the Dovrefell": The traveler's white bear chases a huge pack of trolls out of the farm when one of them disrupts its sleep.
  • "Goldilocks": They were bad news for a girl who was dumb enough to break into the house of three bears, damage the furniture, and then take a nap there until they came back.
  • In the folk tale of Masha and the Bear, a young girl has to outwit a bullying bear who's press-ganged her into becoming his servant for taking shelter in his house while he was out.
  • Used in one Appalachian folk tale. A grandmother sends her grandson to buy baking soda. The boy buys the baking soda, but on the way home, he has to cross a bridge under which a bear lives. The bear eats the boy. Every time a member of the family goes to see what happened to the boy, they too run into the bear and get eaten. Finally, the family's pet squirrel is the only one left, and he also comes across the bear. Before the bear can eat him, the squirrel outsmarts the bear and the bear coughs up the humans.

  • A Russian joke goes something like this:
    A guy is lost in the woods, so he just stands there and keeps shouting "Hello!"
    Suddenly, he feels a pat on the shoulder. He turns around and sees a bear, who asks, "Dude, why are you yelling?"
    "In case someone hears me?"
    "Well, I heard you. Feeling better?"
  • There's a joke about someone in the woods who finds a praying bear. There are many versions of it.
    • The version where it's a generic hunter in the woods:
    A hunter is out hunting bear in the woods. He sees one, lines up his sights, takes a shot, and misses. The bear sees the hunter and charges towards him. The hunter tries to take another shot, but finds he's out of ammo. He throws down the gun and starts running away, but he realizes that the bear is going to catch up to him.
    The hunter falls to his knees and starts praying. He says, "Dear Lord, I ask that you let this bear find some religion before he does me in."
    He turns around, and the bear stops, falls to its knees, and starts praying. The bear says, "Dear Lord, for this food I am about to receive, I am truly grateful..."
    • The version where it's a Christian in the woods:
    There's a Christian who's hiking in the woods one day when he comes upon an angry bear. The bear stands up on its hind legs and growls ferociously, clearly preparing to charge. In panic, the Christian starts to run, but the bear follows close on his heels.
    Finally the hiker comes to a cliff, so he drops to his knees and asks God to please make this bear a good Christian bear. To the hiker's amazement, the bear suddenly stops growling, falls to his knees and folds his paws together in prayer! "Thank you, Lord!" exclaimed the Christian.
    "Thank you, Lord!" exclaims the bear, "for this meal I'm about to receive!"
    • The version where it's a Jew in the woods:
    A man, out for a walk in the woods came across a bear. Frightened for his life, he ran as fast as he could to escape and hide in a cave. He was horrified to find that the bear followed him into the cave trapping him. He closed his eyes and recited "Shema Yisrael" in anticipation of his final moments. When he is finished, he opens his eyes and is surprised to see the bear in front of him with his eyes closed — also praying!
    The man thinks to himself "how lucky am I to be cornered by what must be the only Jewish bear! He's frum! We're mishpocheh... and I'm not Kosher. I'm saved!" He then listens more carefully to the bear's prayer: "...hamotzi lechem min haaretz."
    • The version where it's an atheist in the woods (the longest one):
    A photographer, who was also a confirmed atheist, decided to go into the woods to capture photos of the fall foliage. It was a beautiful day: fall colors, birds chirping, a babbling brook, and a gentle breeze rustling the leaves.
    While snapping shots, the photographer heard a noise behind him and whirled around to see a huge bear coming through the bushes.
    He dropped his camera and ran. And kept running and running... and looking behind him, he noticed the bear was gaining on him! He was so scared that tears came to his eyes. He ran faster, but the bear was closing in on him. He ran faster yet and tripped over a root. Rolling over onto his back, the man saw the bear rise to his full height and raise a huge paw... and the atheist cried out, "Oh, God, no!"
    And everything stopped. The birds stopped chirping. The brook stopped babbling. The gentle breeze stopped. And the bear froze with his paw in the air. And the man heard a booming voice say, "Young man. For years you've doubted my very existence, but now that your life is in peril you call my name to help you. Why should I do so?"
    And the man thought for a moment, and said, "Yes, you are right. If you are God, then it would be hypocritical of me to become a Christian at this point in my life. But, do you think that you could at least make the bear a Christian for today?" And the booming voice was quiet for a moment and then said, "Done."
    And everything started again. The birds chirping, brook babbling, and gentle breeze rustling the leaves. And the bear slowly lowered his paw. Then the bear put his paws together, and bowed his massive head and said, "Dear Lord, please bless this food we are about to eat."

  • Genesis:
    But if you're sitting there beside her/And a bear comes in the room/And you keep on going 'cause you're unaware/Then you know that you are there/Beyond the silver rainbow/You won't know if you're coming or going
  • Subverted in Grandaddy's "Silver Lake" video — at one point the band is performing in a small cabin, Jason Lytle opens the door, sees a bear and immediately shuts the door again. The bear then lets himself in through the back door, to the band's visible concern... But apparently it just enjoyed the music and wanted to rock out to it — the bear even gives Lytle a high five. Adding to the humor is deliberate Special Effect Failure — the bear is obvious green-screened stock footage when it's outside the door, and a man in a bear suit once it's inside.
  • If you are the band Horion and you wanted to release an album named "No Fear Restriction", what you'd put on the cover to match? Right...
  • The back of the album cover of Jethro Tull's Stormwatch has a 1000 foot tall polar bear stomping on an oil refinery station.
  • Nekrogoblikon has a song called Bears.
    Claws leaving scars, giant teeth tearing skin,
    Fur on the outside and darkness within!
  • Radiohead's album Kid A's marketing campaign told a vague but disturbing story about genetically modified bears killing everyone. The "Radiohead Bear" has remained the band's logo ever since.
  • "Bears" by the Royal Guardsmen is built around this trope.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • Elisha in 2 Kings 2:23-24, while walking up to Bethel, was insulted by some bandits. They had called him "bald head" and implied that he had been complicit in the death of Elijah. His response? Summoning two bears to come and maul 42 of them, making this trope Older Than Feudalism. There's a reason why this story isn't included in compilations of Bible stories meant for toddlers.
    • Also, David kills a bear and a lion that threaten his flock. People tend to forget that although he was only 12ish when he fought the giant Goliath, he was a pretty badass kid.
    • Even God himself states that bears make things worse in Amos 5:19: "It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear."
  • The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft noted a conspicuous absence of bears in some shamanic societies' legends, probably owing to the He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named-ness. Though Celtic lore does mention the bear as the king of the animals (a distinction kept until the popularity of the lion as a symbol for Jesus).
  • The Inuit and other Arctic peoples had mixed opinions about polar bears. On one hand, they are the biggest living terrestrial carnivore, so they were obviously feared. On the other, their mythologies usually held the polar bear with a lot of respect, as a sacred shamanic symbol.
  • Davy Crockett. King of the wild frontier. Killed a bear when he was only three.
  • Native American Mythology:
    • Averted by many legends. Amongst the Navajo, for example, the bear is a symbol of healing, peace, and tranquility and harming one brings very bad luck. Then again, if you try to provoke a bear you're probably going to get everything you deserve.
    • Played straight by others. The Origin Story of Devil's Tower in Wyoming involves one or more gigantic bears trying to kill frightened children and the Creator raising the tower up under the kids to save them.
    • Keep in mind that there's a very important difference between black bears and grizzly bears. Black bears are generally regarded as the positive aspects of the bear, being peaceable and shy. Grizzly bears are almost literally called Ax-Crazy in some legends.
  • Japanese Mythology: The Oniguma (devilbear): strong enough to carry away horses and quick enough to smash monkeys with one blow. Also, it was said that killing bears would cause the "Bear Wrath", a really nasty event.
  • Classical Mythology: Averted in the Greek myth of Atalanta, who, after being left to die as a baby, was raised by a she-bear, and became a badass Action Girl.
  • One possible etymology of King Arthur's name is a derivation from *artos, which means bear, and he sure as hell was bad news for the Saxons.

  • The family in Vacation America panics when a grizzly bear approaches them in the middle of taking a picture.

  • In In Strange Woods, a bear visits the site of the annual Turkey Drop on New Year's Eve, threatening a neighbor's dog and the guests. Peregrine successfully driving it off is what convinces her mother to let her do the Final.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppet Show: In one skit, the Swedish Chef is cooking at a campsite, and is annoyed by a group of squirrels. Eventually, he gets angry and chases them offstage with a cleaver. A few seconds later, a bear—who has the cleaver—chases him back onstage and offstage in the other direction, with the squirrels laughing their heads off.

  • Several sports teams such as the Memphis (originally Vancouver) Grizzlies (basketball), the Chicago Cubs (baseball), the Chicago Bears (football), and the Boston Bruins (hockey).

    Stand-Up and Recorded Comedy 
  • Comedian Mitch Hedberg had a joke where he and a friend decided to go out to the woods to do drugs in order to avoid authority figures only to run into a bear, which was "even more of a buzzkill". The friend attempted to appease the bear by promising to prevent forest fires. Smokey is way more intense in person.


  • Graalok the Ash Bear from BIONICLE, who briefly terrorizes Takua and Jaller in Mask of Light. Bonus points for being a cyborg bear.
  • The first figure in the BMOG toyline is Ursenal, who is essentially a bear made of guns. His profile states that he's technically a good guy, but his tendency to shoot first and ask questions later is... problematic, to say the least.
  • Japanese artist Mori Chack's Gloomy Bear line is based around this trope. The titular bear, despite its cute, pink appearance, is often coated in blood, and is described as violent and wild. He's often seen mutilating his human "friend" Pitty in artwork featuring the two.
  • Averted by teddy bears. They're so soft and cute and huggable! Unless you go by Cute Is Evil.
  • The main premise of the Teddy Scares line is that teddy bears rejected and outgrown by their owners have come back as undead monsters. The best examples are Rita Mortis and Redmond Gore, who are both very violent and antisocial.
  • Transformers:

  • They're learning Kung Fu now. We're all gonna die.
  • These traditional American values
  • Preying on public fear and stereotypes, the following hoax[1] describes a 19-year old Russian girl and her stepfather get eaten alive by a literal Mama Bear and cubs.

    Real Life 
  • This trope may be the reason the word "bear" exists in the first place. Linguists believe that the Proto-Indo-European word for "bear" (*h₂ŕ̥tḱos, which evolved into the Latin ursus, Greek arktos, et al.) may have become taboo because people feared that actually using the word would summon a bear. As a result, various Germanic peoples began calling them "brown" as a euphemism, resulting in the English bear and bruin, German Bär, et al. Other languages have their own euphemisms:
    • Even *h₂ŕ̥tḱos itself isn't much better — it roughly translates to "destruction/destroyer". Appropriate that as well as coming to mean "bear", "arktos" also came to refer to the region around the North Pole. This also means that the Latin name for the Eurasian brown bear — Ursus arctos arctos — simply means "Destroyer Destroyer Destroyer".
    • Beowulf is probably a kenning referring to bears that literally means "bee-wolf" (y'know, because they like honey).
    • The Russian word medved (honey-eater) is a (Proto-Slavic — compare Polish niedźwiedź, Czech medvěd, Croatian medvjed, even the not Slavic but geographically close Hungarian medve) euphemism for the now-lost original word for "bear", but medved itself became taboo in the medieval period. Instead of naming the animal directly, people would refer to it with nicknames, either endearingly-pejorative ("the hairy one", "the clumsy one") or respectful ("the master"); a common practice was to give it a similar-sounding human name ("Mikhail Potapych", "Misha"), a practice which also became popular in Romanian language (the bear was called Moş Martin — "Old Uncle Martin"). In Polish, shortened form miś was used. Among the Szeklers, Hungarians living in the Carpathian Mountains in what is now Romania, the corresponding nickname would be "Mackó úr", which more or less amounts to "Mr. Teddy". Keep in mind, though, that they have a good reason to use the nicknames, as the nicknames are all from areas where bears still very much roam free and can and will pop up.
    • In Finnish there's otso, kontio, and mesikämmen (the last meaning "honey-paws"). The official name karhu was also originally a euphemism.
  • The Nazis probably felt this way about Voytek. A bear... that drinks, smokes, fights, and carries ammo. However, in his personal life Voytek was known as a kind and lovable fuzzball, who loved sweets, baths, and hanging out with his buddies. A case where he brought this upon someone: one day when Voytek went to the steam baths, he found an enemy spy hiding in them. He roared and backhanded the spy, who promptly surrendered, presumably not having expected a bear to blow his cover. So he was punching Nazis before Harrison Ford made it cool.
  • Try to read all the way through this page without getting the chills. Some standout incidents include:
    • The woman who climbed onto her roof when the bear broke into her cabin. It followed her onto the roof and killed her. Nowhere is safe...
    • The one where a bear broke the necks of two campers, dragged them off, and ate part of them. When police found the bear five days later... it was guarding and protecting their corpses. The disturbing implication that the bear had come to enjoy the taste of human flesh, to the point where it jealously guarded the corpses, makes this one even creepier.
    • The bear who apparently ripped the door off of a trailer to get to the man inside.
    • The bear who dragged a five-month-old off of the porch of her house and killed her.
    • The one where the only information they give us is that "his/her partially consumed remains were found." Especially scary is the guy whose half-eaten body was found in a campground when people woke up the next morning, or the one where "days later, searchers found his campsite with his bare skeleton, one intact hand, and both feet, still booted."
    • And then there's the guy who managed to drag himself 1.5 miles to a meadow to die after being mauled and partially eaten.
  • Russia's animal symbol is the bear; this was memorably used in one of Ronald Reagan's campaign ads, but depictions of Russia as a bear or identifying Russia with bears goes back to at least the 19th century. A related nation, the Carpatho-Ruthenians/Rusyns, have a red bear as the official national coat of arms, but they share none of the infamous reputation of their bigger brother by virtue of living with no sovereign state of their own.
  • You know the scientific name for the grizzly bear? Ursus arctos horribilis.
  • What's scarier than a bear? A rabid bear. One managed to smash through a house once and savaged everything in it until it was shot to death by the owner. Note that the bear even head-on charged his jeep! If Cujo was bad, this is much worse.
  • There's a reason the expression "loaded for bear" means "carrying the biggest gun you can get your hands on." In the muzzle-loading days, it meant cramming in extra powder. It takes quite a lot to put a bear down, and there's a lot of Taking You with Me potential if you don't get it right. A party of Eastern European hunters once cornered a large male brown bear— after they shot it twice with a 9.3x74mm double rifle, the bruin did not show the least desire to die, but charged them furiously, prompting the leader to perform the quickest reload of both barrels in his lifetime and shoot again, only to see that it did not even stop the furious bear, let alone kill it. The entire party ran away like madmen, and when they could scrounge enough guts to go back, they found the bear dead: all four expanding rounds had hit, one of them almost cut down a hind leg, yet the bear survived long enough to charge them.
  • Campgrounds in the more remote areas of Canada typically offer literature and lectures by the park ranger on proper bear safety. Despite this, examples abound of tourists failing to abide by rules like "don't keep food in the tent" and "don't get between a mother bear and her cubs" seriously and paying a heavy price.
    • Brown bears/grizzlies are only found in a few remote areas of the U.S. (basically Alaska, the northern Cascades, and a band of mountains running from Yellowstone up to the Canadian border), but the smaller, shyer, more widespread black bears can still be very dangerous— especially if they get too comfortable around humans. So once again, for the people in the back: Do not feed the bears. Do not approach the bears. Carry spray when you go hiking. Store your foonote  safely, and pitch your tent upwind of it. Stay out of the woods in the spring, when the bears are hungriest.
  • As depicted in Grizzly Man, Timothy Treadwell had been hanging around bears for thirteen years and filming them until two finally ate him and his girlfriend. Before that, he apparently had such a way that he could get close to cubs without hitting the momma's Berserk Button. It was described as being a particularly harsh fall, with a salmon run that was far below average and bears that were hungrier and more aggressive than usual. Guess it doesn't matter how much of a strong connection you have to nature when there's a food shortage... it didn't help that he had stayed longer than planned, and the bears that did know him weren't the ones in the area any more.
  • Stephen Colbert puts bears in the Threat Down for a very good reason. (See Live Action TV, also Phil Ken Sebben's dislike of bears.) Word of God says that his fear of them is partly based on a recurring dream, and partly on the movie Man in the Wilderness. Also partly because his father, who was a doctor, used a hypothetical bear-mauling as an example of the kind of thing you can brush off with ease with the aid of modern medicine. Which explains the Fridge Brilliance of his referring to pundit Bill O' Reilly as 'papa bear'. Bears are the number one threat to America, and Billo is largely responsible for the modern TV personality Colbert professes to parody. Therefore, he's the greatest of the greatest threats to America.
  • When the Stock Market goes down, it's said to be in a bear market. It's said to be a reference to the way they attack; they swipe down with their paw. Along with the fact that bears hibernate.
  • Legendary NFL linebacker Dick Butkus was dubbed "The Most Feared Man in the Game." Who did he play for? That's right, the Chicago Bears.
  • A Russian circus manager was killed by an ice skating bear.
  • A group of armed militants in Kashmir stopped to have some pudding in a cave hideaway... shared by a bear. The bear killed two and severely injured a third. The cave was shared, not the pudding. This may be why the bear attacked.
  • In Finnish, an infuriated person is said to be "mad as a bear shot in the arse".
  • Gold Rush miners used to pit bears against everything. The bear always won, so they got bored and imported some lions. The lion would roar and charge, the bear would crush their skull with one blow.
  • The Lewis and Clark expedition experienced grizzly bears for the first time when they were exploring the west. "Experienced" here meaning "coming across a creature so incredibly strong, they were unable to kill it with all of their guns and had to hide up trees until it left." Climbing a tree is not a foolproof solution to bears. Bears, even grizzlies, have been known to climb trees, too. Standing on the ground, a big bear can reach as much as 10 feet into a tree.
    Lewis: (in his journal) I find that the curiossity of our party is pretty well satisfyed with rispect to this anamal.
  • The Sankebetsu brown bear incident. Not at all a page to read before going to bed. According to Cracked, it involved 50 hunters failing to get a bear. (#4 on the list.)
  • Bear-hunting was a favourite pastime of medieval Russian princes. Subverted in that, with armed retainers, clever tactics, and special-issue anti-bear spears (special rogatinas with oak handles and silver heads), it actually wasn't all that difficult to kill a bear. Pseudo-Demetrius I, the wacky early 17th century impostor that threw the country into bloody infighting, was very popular with the commoners of Moscow because of his badass stunt where he used his freakish strength to not only stop a bear in mid-pounce with his rogatina (that was standard practice), but also throw it backwards over his head. So if bears wrote TV Tropes, they would have to make a trope for "Russian Princes and Political Opportunists That Pretend To Be Such Are Bad News".
  • Berserkers. Norse warriors who, among other rituals, went into battle wearing bearskins. If a bear's scary, one would imagine a person who you assumed killed a bear to get its hide would be a tough customer... The Norse were scary enough, but God help you if you were attacked by a berserker. The name even MEANS "bear-shirt wearer".
    • While "ber" literally means "bear" in Old Norse, it is not a name given to boys out of fear for calling forth a bear. That being said, they still respected the power and ferocity of the bear to the point that they created the name "Bjørn." A very notable holder of this name was Bjørn Ironside, a Viking ruler and one of the sons of Ragnar Lodbrok.
    • The noble title "baron" derives from an Old Frankish word that originally just meant "warrior". This word might (linguists disagree vehemently) in turn be derived from a Germanic word for "bear", either because warriors' strength was compared to a bear's, or because warriors sometimes fought bears.
  • Sort of a weird example, but this is SFW, yet so... bizarre.
  • In 2006, a brown bear nicknamed "Bruno" by the press became something of a cause célèbre when it wandered into southern Germany from Austria, making him the first wild bear to be seen in Germany since 1838. Bruno was extremely large and aggressive, showing a particular fondness for killing (but not eating) domestic animals. The fumbling attempts of the Bavarian government to deal with him (particularly Minister-President Edmund Stoiber's description of him as a "Problembär" ("problem bear")) attracted a great amount of derision. Bruno was finally shot to death by government marksmen.
  • And now they're joyriding in your car.
  • Subversion: There was a drug bust of a Marijuana farm guarded by 10 black bears. They were so docile and domesticated that all that happened was that one of them sat on a cop car's hood for an hour, and then they just watched everything.
  • For the prehistoric giant cave bear, this was inverted. For them, everything was worse with humans. We pushed them out of their living space and then hunted them to extinction.
    • While that was going on in Eurasia, prehistoric Native Americans had to deal with Giant Short-Faced Bears, 1800-pound brutes that were twice as tall as humans when standing upright. These massive beasts are also believed to have gone extinct due to competition with humans, but unlike cave bears and modern bears (with the exception of the polar bear), they were almost entirely carnivorous, using their size and strength to chase sabertooth cats and dire wolves away from their kills or attack slow-moving animals. Its South American relative Arctotherium was even larger.
  • As if World War III wouldn't be bad enough, it was almost started by a bear. More precisely, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, a black bear tripped an intruder alarm at a US Air Force installation in Duluth, Minnesota, putting the entire base on full alert and nearly starting World War III.
  • Despite their cute appearance, pandas are still bears, and they will maul you for hugging them unless they've been trained for that.
  • Most large carnivores attempt to avoid contact with humans unless they learn that humans are an easy source of food (either scavenging human refuse or hunting humans). Polar bears don't make any effort to avoid humans and appear to consider them to be exactly the same as everything else that's not another adult polar bear: food.
    • There is an old Inuit story of a woman who went to live among strange people. She became a burden, and so they placed her in a boat, took her out to sea and cast her overboard. She struggled to regain the side of the boat, but they cut off her fingers to keep her away. As she died in the water, she became Sedna, the goddess of the sea and mother of all beasts. Her fingers became the walrus and seals and whales that the people would hunt to eat. But her middle finger became the white bear. When the other animals see a man, they try to run away. But when the white bear sees a man, he is filled with revenge and tries to kill the person who he believes murdered the woman from whose finger he was born. Wise Inuit stay away from the white bear...
      •, when you see a polar bear, it's the Goddess giving you the finger. Makes sense.
    • Both polar and brown bears are just as intelligent as they are persistent in their stalking of prey. They have the long term memory which popular culture ascribed to elephants, they are excellent trackers and navigators on rough ground, they regularly use tools to get food or to play, and the acting bear Bart found out how to make a bridge from a plank of wood. It's only a matter of time until they find out how to fire guns.
      • And maybe not much time, at that: the use of weapons is already a concept that they're familiar with. Inuit have reported for centuries that polar bears kill walrus by bashing them over the head with ice chunks, and a female bear fitted with a camera was recorded chucking an ice block into the water in an attempt to concuss a swimming seal.
    • They're probably plotting as we speak. In a few centuries, we'll see bears roaming the streets instead of humans, and they'll write a version of this page about humans. Oh, wait, such a page already exists.
  • Subverted with this video. Apparently, they make hockey better. The Alaska U Nanooks disagree. Bears only know how to destroy.
  • The Svalbard Ski Marathon: probably the only annual sporting event where the entire track has to be surveilled by armed guards to stop polar bears from eating the competitors.
    • It's not just the marathon. In Svalbard, you are required to carry a rifle while outside a settlement for self-defense against polar bears.
    • Why a rifle? Because shooting a polar bear in the face with a handgun won't make it stop.
  • Everything's worse with a bear market, despite financial advisors' attempts to subvert the trope.
  • One of the knights who killed Thomas Becket was Reginald FitzUrse, "son of the bear".
    • Even better, "Fitz" in those days indicated that you were the acknowledged but not legitimate son of someone. That's right: his name literally means bastard son of a bear.
  • The Sloth bear of Mysore, which plagued the Mysore province in India in 1957. The Sankebetsu Brown Bear incident, seen above, is scary, but while that killed seven people, and wounded two others, the sloth bear of Mysore killed 12 people, and mutilated a dozen others, making it the single bear responsible for most human fatalities ever. To make matters scarier? No one really knows why the bear attacked, it only ate three of its victims, so this cannot have been the primary motivation, implication that it was a "thrill killer", remains. And to make matters even worse, sloth bears attacks by clawing the face of their victims with their long claws, perfectly adapted for destroying termite mounds. Yep, that's right, most of those that died had their face torn apart, and most of those who survived live with such a face for the rest of their life. Eventually, after three hunts, Great White Hunter Kenneth Anderson shot it dead.
  • People often think it's a good idea to feed or tease a bear and end up getting attacked. They blame it on the bear.
  • Grizzly bears are bad news to the smaller black bears. It's hypothesized that the latter has adapted to avoid confrontation with the former, including climbing trees, being active at different times of the day, and residing in inaccessible places (i.e. with thick vegetation and mountainous terrain). Confrontations between the two species can range from tense to outright violent.
    • And where the grizzly bears go away, the black bears flood in. As said by wildlife conservationists, stressing out the importance of grizzly conservation: "Would you rather deal with one grizzly bear per square mile, or ten black bears in the same area?
  • Honorary mention: Jörg Jenatsch was killed by a man wearing a bear costume.
  • Purely on the visual side, in 2009 a German zoo made news for its bears all getting an affliction where they lost almost all their fur. Usually, furry animals end up looking silly when you remove all the hair. Bears, on the other hand, look like something that belongs in a D&D monster manual, which is sorely lacking such a creature with a punning name, called a "Grisly Bare".
  • An old hunter's joke: How do you tell the difference between a black bear and a grizzly bear? Climb a tree. If the bear climbs up after you and kills you, it's a black bear. If it knocks the tree down and kills you, it's a grizzly bear. And if there's no tree in sight, it's a polar bear.
  • Not even a Goddamn Gummy Bear can avoid this trope, if these Amazon reviews of Haribo Sugar-Free Gummy Bears are to be believed.
  • Les Stroud, aka the Survivorman, gets dropped into environments all over the world armed with nothing bigger than a small knife and spends the week by himself demonstrating how to survive in that situation, and has made a point of never having a firearm with him despite being in environments with the potential for hostile wildlife (plus, hunting for food would be easier). The exception was when he filmed an episode on Baffin Island, and authorities required him to carry a rifle, specifically because of the danger of polar bears.
  • British National Treasure and Best Human BRIAN BLESSED is an exception to the rule. While camping at the North Pole, a polar bear entered his tent — and the Loudest Man on Earth, in his own words, "punched it straight in its fucking face."
  • Even bear cubs can be just as vicious as adults in spite of their cute appearance. Cubs have sharp claws and can scratch with plenty of force. They also have sharp teeth for biting.
  • There are T-shirts and signs with this spin on the "makes you stronger" moral slogan:
    "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Except for bears. Bears will kill you."
  • Ilya Bryzgalov may have been a Cloud Cuckoolander, but he was quite honest about the fact that the only thing he feared was a bear.
    "...but bear in the forest."
  • The Sankebetsu brown bear incident, which took place in Hokaido, in late 1915. It resulted in the deaths of seven people (one of whom was pregnant) over the course of five days, and wrecked multiple houses. It's believed that the cause for the attack was the bear (who went on to be named "Kesagake", which means "the diagonal slash from the shoulder") awoke early from hibernation, leading him to become more ravenous and aggressive.

Statler: A bit late to tell us; we're well aware!
Waldorf: We better exit, before we're pursued by ours!
Both: Doh-ho-ho-ho-hoh!

Alternative Title(s): Everything Is Worse With Bears, Everythings Worse With Bears


Seabear Attacks Squidward

The sea bear does not like Squidward, and expresses it well...

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / AnimalsHateHim

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