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Beastly Bloodsports

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Bear Baiting, 1795 (from The Sporting Magazine, London)
"I cheered at the banderilleros' display
As they each stuck the bull in their own clever way
For I hadn't had so much fun since the day
My brother's dog Rover
Got run over!"

Nobody thinks animal bloodsports are boring. They're sure to get the blood pumping, although whether that's from the excitement of watching the fight or outrage at seeing such cruelty depends on the observer. Animal Bloodsports come in two varieties: animal versus animal, and animal versus human.

Animal versus animal bloodsports involving two similar animals include cockfighting and dogfighting, most prominently. With dissimilar animals involved, bear-baiting and badger-baiting — having dogs attack a leashed bear or badger, respectively — may be observed. Animal versus animal bloodsports may also involve betting, and the attendant attempts to rig the game. Naturally, animals themselves can't be paid off to take a dive, so the methods used to change the animal's chances may be clinical, perhaps involving the services of a not-so-Kindly Vet.

Animal versus human bloodsports can be further divided into sports where the odds are overwhelmingly on the human's side (although not so much as to obviate the need for the human to be skilled), as with a bullfight, a roughly fair fight, or sports in which the odds are on the animal's side. At the extreme of the odds being on the human's side, it effectively ceases to be a sport (insofar as it ever was) and becomes an animal Snuff Film. At the extreme of the odds being on the animal's side, the human is simply Fed to the Beast. Generally, where the odds are not in the humans' favor (being either roughly even or in the animal's favor), see Gladiator Games.

Fox hunting is a hybrid, with human and animal vs. animal, with humans and dogs double-teaming foxes. Whereas most animal bloodsports seem to mark the dark side of the lower classes, fox hunts are the the province of the upper-crust. Rat baiting was a combination sport and dog-training method, as professional rat-catchers would release the rodents into pits and then set their terriers on them for practice, often taking bets on how many each dog would kill.

Regardless of the type, Animal Bloodsports are usually — but far from unanimously — regarded as repugnant. Dogfighters are regarded as scum. Cockfighters may get off a little easier, but are still unsavory. Animal bloodspots may also serve as a sign of the unpleasant aspects of bygone times, with Medieval Morons enjoying the cruel spectacle without modern qualms. Rat baiting took longer to be banned than most such "sports", as rats were legally classified as vermin and didn't evoke any public sympathy; eventually, concern for the dogs' welfare got it outlawed, too.

As for when humans are involved, bullfighters — perhaps because they require a lot of athleticism and skill and actually put themselves at risk (although still not as much as the bull), rather than just having the animals fight it out — may be a little better. Some Spaniards in Real Life are defensive about bullfighting, considering it a distinctive part of their culture which critics and foreigners don't get, although the sport is actually dying out because contrary to popular belief, a majority of modern Spaniards are opposed or at least indifferent to it.

Compare Mons, where there's an element of training and capturing/collecting the animals as well and Attack Animal for when animals are used as actual weapons, rather than a spectator sport.


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    Comic Books 
  • Asterix: Asterix in Spain has Asterix and a centurion thrown into an arena, which turns out to contain an aurochs rather than lions. Asterix promtly invents bullfighting by dodging the aurochs until it runs into a wall.
  • Baker Street: The Baskerville's club runs ratting pits as 'entertainment' for its patrons. Dogs are pitted against rabid rats; with bets being placed on how many rats a dog can kill before it succumbs to rat bites.
  • Catwoman breaks up a dog fighting ring in Batman Eternal #23. The ring sometimes pits exotic animals against the dogs and this time were using an endangered leopard.
  • Meriem is forced to fight against animals when she is abducted and forced into Gladiator Games in an arena called the 'Bowl of Bones' in Cavewoman: Oasis.
  • Elmer is set In a World… where chickens learned to talk and are treated as sapient, nonhuman persons, and the titular Elmer has cockfighter relatives whose bloody careers and deaths are likened to gladiators.
  • Hellblazer One arc has the Caligula Club, a club for well-off perverts of the upper class. One of the entertainment options is sticking two shaved (or possibly skinned) and starved cats into a fishbowl and taking bets on the winner.
  • Played straight in Red Sonja: Art of Blood and Fire arc. Kalayah the Beastmaster runs one with bears, dogs, tigers, and giant centipedes among other things.
  • Ruse: In #1 of the Marvel mini-series, Simon pursues a suspect into a rat-baiting contest, where terriers compete to see which can kill the greatest number of rats.
  • Parodied in a one-page gag of The Smurfs, where the Smurfs gather around a coliseum to see Lazy Smurf engage in a bullfight, only to reveal that the "wild beast" he was taming was actually a snail.
  • The Vault of Horror story "The Pit!" (#40, 1954) has competing cockfighting and dogfighting rings; the money-hungry women who run them are jealous of each other's profits and goad their Henpecked Husbands into escalating the fights to draw more customers until the two men decide to pit the women against each other. Got an adaptation for the Tales from the Crypt TV show, where the husbands are MMA fighters whose wives are their overcompetitive managers.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Queen Clea tries to have Steve Trevor executed by having him stripped, given a loincloth and sword and tossed in her arena with a bunch of giant boars. When Steve manages to kill her boars she has the archer lining the arena loose a couple of volleys at him, only for him to use the corpse of the last boar as a shield.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dick Tracy villain Miss Egghead was obsessed with cockfighting and owned a stable of gamecocks.

     Fan Works 
  • The Bolt Chronicles: The climactic fight scene between Bolt and Ike in "The Wind" is treated as a Colosseum-style spectacle by the latter's fellow stray dogs.
  • Defied in Intelligence Factor. Dr. Julian comments that Pokémon battles are not a bloodsport, as injuries are rare and there have been no fatalities.
  • This is one of the fates in store for many of the poached creatures during the Poaching Arc of The Tainted Grimoire.

    Films — Animated 
  • In The Book of Life, Manolo objects to killing bulls at the climax of bullfights, which infuriates his father and many of the late Sanchez relatives.
  • In Kitbull, the pit bull is forced into a dog fighting ring by its abusive owners.
  • In Osmosis Jones, Ozzy breaks up a "chicken pox" fight to get to The Informant, namely, a flu-shot. The chicken pox viruses are depicted as, well, chickens.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The 2011 Tamil film Aadukalam revolves around the practice of cockfighting in Madurai, Tamil Nadu.
  • The ABCs of Death: In "D is for Dogfight", a gang abducts dogs and then uses them in death matches against humans.
  • El amor brujo: Cockfighting seemingly was no big deal in 1967 Spain, as it's merely a background detail when Antonio is at a cockfight, quizzing a guy about Diego's mysterious death.
  • Amores Perros features savage dogfight scenes.
  • One of the entertainments being offered in the tavern in Nassau in Anne of the Indies is a man wrestling a bear.
  • Around the World in 80 Days (1956) includes scenes of Cantinflas bullfighting in Chinchón.
  • In Attack of the Clones, Anakin, Padmé, and Obi-Wan are almost killed by animals in the arena on Geonosis.
  • In Blooded, Lucas Bell is the youngest hunt master in Britain, and the public face of the foxhunting lobby. It is his very public defiance of the ban on foxhunting that makes him a target for the Animal Wrongs Group.
  • In The Bold Caballero, the Commandante holds a bullfight to celebrate Isabella's birthday. When he turns the bull loose on a group of prisoners—including a child—Don Diego is forced to play matador.
  • In Bolero, Ayre sets out to seduce a toreador named Angel. After several days of courtship and flirting, Angel makes love to Ayre one morning and he manages to stay awake. Unfortunately, after Ayre has succeeded in her quest to lose her virginity, Angel is gored while bullfighting the next day. The injury leaves Angel unable to perform in the bedroom, and so Ayre makes it her mission in life to see to his recovery. Along the way, she takes up bullfighting herself as a way of getting her despondent lover motivated to stop moping.
  • The Brave One 1956 is a drama that tells the story of a Mexican boy who tries to save his beloved bull Gitano from a deadly duel against a champion matador.
  • The Cincinnati Kid features a cockfight scene, in which the insouciant Melba (Ann-Margret) reveals a sadistic streak. She's plainly aroused by the bloodshed.
  • Cockfighter (1974) is about a man (Warren Oates) who trains fighting cocks who vows to remain silent until one of his birds wins a championship. Based on the novel of the same name.
  • In Cry Macho, Rafo participates in cock fights with his cock that he named "Macho".
  • In the Charles Bronson movie Death Hunt, Bronson's character Albert Johnson breaks up a dogfight after he arrives in the Yukon frontier town and rescues a wounded dog. The locals try to get payback for this by laying siege to Johnson's cabin, killing the dog in the process.
  • Eyes of an Angel: The film is about Bobby, who works for a gang who operates a dogfighting ring. One dog, a Doberman, performs poorly and gets disposed of, but it survives, and who should find it, nurse it to health and adopt if not Bobby's daughter? The dog gets dragged into another dog fight at the end, which ends with him turning against Bobby's former boss.
  • Fiesta, a 1947 film starring Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalbán as a sister and brother bullfighters.
  • In Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) movie, two of the title team are among those attending space cockfighting on Knowhere. It involves betting on multiple small alien lizards that get chased and eaten by a larger alien, the last small lizard standing wins.
  • A Gunfight opens with a bullfight taking place in the village across the border. It is this event that gets Tenneray reasoning that if people will pay to watch a bull die, then they will pay to watch a man die.
  • Jarhead: The Marines are shown passing the time by getting two scorpions to fight each other to the death. The smaller one's death saddens its keeper quite a bit.
  • In The Littlest Hobo (the original 1958, film not the Canadian series based on it) the title dog gets caught up in the dogfighting circuit for a short period.
  • The Roman Polański version of Macbeth has some bear-baiting scenes at Macbeth's castle, to emphasize how brutal a place medieval Scotland was.
  • In Mary Poppins, Mary and her friends in the chalk drawing outing wander into a fox hunt and Bert decides to give the fox a hand to help him escape.
  • In the short Puerto Rican film Modesta, Modesta's husband (who is not given a name) attends a cockfight. The film shows several shots of the roosters pecking at each other, cheering crowds, etc. Somebody asks the husband about a gamecock of his. He says it was useless and that he told his wife to catch it and stew it for dinner.
  • One flashback in The Mountie has Grayling breaking up a Chinese dog fighting ring: an encounter that quickly turns into a shootout.
  • The 1990 film No Fear No Die centers around two men who are part of an illegal cockfighting ring.
  • In The Odd Angry Shot, the Australians and the Americans hold a contest that pits the Aussies' spider against the Yanks' scorpion.
  • The Rum Diary: To make money to print the last edition, Kemp, Sala and Moburg place a big cockfighting bet. They visit Papa Nebo, Moburg's hermaphrodite witch doctor, to lay a blessing on Sala's prize cockerel. They win, but return to the office to find that the printing presses have been confiscated.
  • In one of many Out Of Character Moments in Sherlock Holmes (1932), Holmes and his fiancee Alice ride to the hounds on her father's estate.
  • Snatch. has Brick Top's dogfighting racket and the pikeys' hare coursing.
  • In Talk to Her, one of the characters is a bullfighter. Her profession is not questioned, and may even add to her sex appeal.
  • The Three Stooges filmed at least two comedies involving the Stooges as bullfighters:
    • What's the Matador? (1942): The Stooges are vaudeville entertainers who trek to Mexico to perform their gag bullfight shtick, with Curly as the brave matador, and Moe and Larry dressed in a bull costume. Along the way, they cross paths with attractive senorita Dolores Sanchez. They also cross paths with her evil jealous, and hot-tempered, man-hating husband named José. In an act of revenge on Curly for flirting with Dolores, José pays the bullring attendants to release a live bull into the ring. Moe and Larry flee the ring, but Curly is unaware of the switch. He eventually head-butts the wild animal, and is paraded out of the ring to the rousing cheers of "Olé, Americano!"
    • Sappy Bull Fighters: Largely a reworking of the 1942 short, in Sappy Bull Fighters, the Stooges are vaudeville entertainers who trek to Mexico to perform their gag bullfight shtick, with Joe as the brave matador, and Moe and Larry dressed in a bull costume. Unfortunately, their gig is cancelled once they arrive. According to the trio, the manager fired them after they refused to do 10 additional shows for free. With no money to return home, the Stooges are stranded. Feeling bad for them, attractive señorita Greta gets the boys a gig at the local bull ring. However, when she leaves Greta mistakenly takes the trio's suitcase instead of hers. When they go retrieve it, however, Joe becomes attracted to Greta and begins to kiss her, infuriating her husband José. The next day, the Stooges perform their act successfully at a bullring José recognizes the trio. In an act of revenge he pays the bullring attendant to release a live bull into the ring. Moe and Larry flee, but Joe is unaware of the switch. He eventually head-butts the wild animal, and is paraded out of the ring to the rousing cheers of "Olé, Americano!"
  • White God: The film's main character, Hagen the dog, is at one point taken by a fighting dog trainer and entered into matches.

  • Washington Irving, in his book, The Adventures Of Captain Bonneville, wrote that a bear was baited, and likewise, a wild, fierce bull, before they were brought by vaqueros to an arena in a small amphitheatre in Monterey, California, to fight each other. He called the fight "a favorite, though barbarous sport." In this case, he said that the bear used its sharp claws against the nose of the bull, before catching its tongue, after being repeatedly gored by the bull. Then the bull overturned it "with a desperate effort," and then 'dispatched' it rather easily.
  • Alex Rider: Alex involuntarily becomes a matador during a bullfight in Eagle Strike.
  • Animal Ark, a book series involving animal rescue, had a book (Badger in the Basement) where the antagonists are badger-baiters. They must be stopped before the baby badger the protagonist saved can be released.
  • Mentioned in Assassin of Gor: an arena where Gladiator Games are held is also used for animal-vs-animal fights. Sometimes it's even flooded and aquatic animals are pitted against one another.
  • George R. R. Martin's Haviland Tuf short story "A Beast for Norn". The twelve Great Houses of the planet Lyronica use creatures native to their planet as combatants in gaming pits. Tuf disapproves of this cruelty to animals, so he sells each of the Houses an alien creature that annihilates the other Houses' creature in combat. He charges an ever-increasing outrageous fee for each creature, makes sure that each one has a serious side effect that will make it useless, and gives each House an extra creature that devastates its ecosystem. As a result, all of the Houses end up going bankrupt.
  • Black Beauty features a hunt gone wrong. Unusually, while the actual hunt scene emphasizes the hare’s terror, the And That's Terrible lecture afterwards focuses on the men, horses, and fields men often spoil for a hare or a fox, or a stag, that they could get more easily some other way.
  • In Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End, the Overlords state their objection to killing animals for entertainment. They put teeth into this pronouncement by causing every member of the audience to feel the bull's pain at what, for obvious reasons, is the last bullfighting event.
  • Conrad Stargard: In The Cross Time Engineer by Leo Frankowski, one of Conrad Stargard's first controversial acts is to euthanize a bear that's being used for bear-baiting. Unfortunately this makes an enemy of the knight who had spent months setting up a trap for it.
  • Nathanael West's 1939 novel The Day of the Locust includes a detailed and graphic cockfighting scene which leads to a more figurative cockfight.
  • Discworld
    • One of the central conflicts of The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents involves the terrier rings where the terriers compete to kill the greatest number of rats.
    • It's mentioned in Soul Music that — perhaps surprisingly, given its general Wretched Hive nature — most blood sports are banned in Ankh-Morpork. CMOT Dibbler considers that putting the Dreadful Musicians Ande Supporting Bandes on stage and waiting to see what the crowd does to them might fill this gap in the market.
  • Duke Leto's father in Dune was killed in a bullfight. The prequels by Brian Herbert added that the bull that killed him was hopped up on stimulants rather than sedated like it should have been. A tool of assassination. The original didn't attribute any foul play.
  • The Great Train Robbery devotes a chapter to describing a Victorian "ratting" establishment, a place where patrons bet on how many rats the dogs can kill within a time limit. Bank manager Edgar Trent keeps several ratting dogs; train robber Edward Pierce fakes interest in the sport in order to strike up an acquaintance with Trent and surreptitiously learn of the bank's security measures.
  • Many of Ernest Hemingway's works deal with bullfighting, including The Dangerous Summer, Death in the Afternoon and The Sun Also Rises.
  • In Dead Witch Walking, the first book of The Hollows series, Rachel Morgan is transformed into a mink and placed into bloodsport matches against other predators; some of whom are also transformed humans.
  • Horse fights are a popular entertainment in the world of the Icelandic Sagas, and will always catalyze a quarrel or feud. For such fights young stallions were made to attack each other with kicking and biting, with their handlers standing nearby driving them on with horse-prods.
    • "The Tale of Thorstein Staff-struck" starts with a horse-fight in which both Thord and Thorstein strike their opponent's horse with their horse-prods, and when finally Thord's horse runs off, Thord strikes at Thorstein in anger and wounds him on his forehead. The wound leads to a feud that costs the lives of three men.
    • In Njal's Saga, Thorgeir Starkadsson and his brothers challenge Gunnar to let their best fighting horse fight against Gunnar's favourite stallion, with the transparent hope of increasing their social prestige by humiliating Gunnar. During the fight, Thorgeir tries to knock Gunnar over by pushing his horse into Gunnar, but Gunnar pushes back and knocks him over. Thorgeir starts a fight and knocks out an eye of Gunnar's stallion, before being knocked out by Gunnar. Raging, Thorgeir swears to avenge himself on Gunnar. Eventually the Starkadssons lay an ambush for Gunnar in which Gunnar's brother Hjort and fourteen attackers are killed.
  • Bodger from The Incredible Journey is an old dogfighting retiree. He thought it was great fun and the narration treats it as a proud and noble sport.
  • Nick Velvet gets involved in bullfighting in "The Theft of the Matador's Cape". Nick watches a bullfight at one point but finds the spectacle disgusting.
  • Jane Yolen's Pit Dragon Chronicles is set in a society where dragon-fighting is popular (dragon vs. dragon, directed by their human Mindlink Mates).
  • On the other hand in The Puppetmasters, the Puppeteer Parasite aliens decide they quite like this aspect of human culture, and decide to liven things up by giving the bull an even chance by having one of them take over the bull so it's as smart as the matador.
  • In Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, the Ganymede Mafia run giant snail fights. The Gambling Addict Macintyre claims there's nothing more thrilling than watching one snail take three hours to score a hit, and its opponent retreat into its shell for the rest of the day.
  • In the Rivers of London novels, the Faceless Man recruits some Mooks who've been holding illegal dogfights at their farm, so that he can tap magical energy from the animals' aggression and bind the spirits of dogs that die in the ring to charge up his demon-traps.
  • In The Silver Branch, Justin visits a cockfight while stationed at Hadrian's Wall to hand off a tablet containing details of Allectus' plot to Evicatos of the Spear to deliver to Carausius.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: The people of Slavers' Bay really like these kind of sports. When Dany goes there to buy slave soldiers, their owner invites her to go see a game that night where three children are slathered in different condiments and thrown into a bear pit, with wagers placed on which one lasts longest.
  • The children's book The Story of Ferdinand and the film that's based on it show bullfighting from the bulls' point of view.
  • Hugh Lofting's novel The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle. While in the Capa Blanca Islands, Doctor Dolittle makes a wager with a powerful nobleman that the noble will end bullfighting in the islands if the Doctor can perform more tricks with a bull than any of the local matadors. He then talks to the bulls and convinces them to help him put on a show so that they won't have to die in the bullring any more.
  • War With No Name: Wawa the pit bull was used for dogfighting.
  • In White Fang by Jack London, White Fang (a wolf/dog hybrid) is forced to become a pit dog, and it turns him into a deadly monster. He has to fight wolves, multiple dogs at a time, even a lynx once. The last fight he was in was against a bulldog, and it nearly killed him, until some men arrived and broke up the fight. One of them cared for White Fang, who eventually was tamed by his kind new master.
  • Queen Scarlet of Wings of Fire forces other dragons (and occasionally humans) to fight each other in a pit, gladiator-style.
  • Partway through Gillian Bradshaw's The Wolf Hunt, the Duke of Normandy manages to goad Hoel, Duke of Brittany, into wagering that his prized wolf, Isengrim, can defeat two of the duke of Normandy's wolfhounds. The fight being socially accepted is used for Deliberate Values Dissonance - Hoel doesn't know, but Isengrim is a heroic character suffering from Shapeshifter Mode Lock - though it's moderated by the fact that he's perfectly willing to fight, and shows mercy after he wins.
  • Terrível from The Yellow Bag is a rooster obsessed with fighting and winning cockfights, with the other characters trying to talk him down. He later escapes and the fight goes through, leading to his presumed death.

     Live Action TV 
  • 1000 Ways to Die features a death involving a cockfight, where a man who bets on a rooster attaches razors to its claws to ensure its winning, but is slashed to death himself.
  • Animal Precinct and other animal rescue shows often have animal cruelty agents busting up dog- or cock-fighting rings. Fighting dogs often have to be euthanized because they are too dangerous to be rehabilitated and put up for adoption, and some of the worst cruelty cases these investigators have to take on involve "bait dogs," which are dogs used as bait and "practice" for fighting dogs. Fighting roosters are usually put down as well, as home adoption is seldom an option for poultry even without aggression issues, and concerns about avian disease means they can't be taken anywhere near a chicken farm.
  • Badger:
    • In "Setts, Lies and Videotape", Tom breaks up a badger baiting ring.
    • In "Cock o' the Walk", Tom and Cassidy investigate a cockfighting ring.
  • Being Human (both versions): Vampires in this universe take the traditional dog fight and crank it up a notch. The result? Werewolf fights.
  • Bones: A Victim of the Week is a veteranarian who is trying to shut down a dogfighting ring.
  • CSI did a Very Special Episode involving dogfighting...'Lying Down With Dogs', where a wealthy humanitarian was found dead and then found to be involved in dogfighting.
  • In Eastbound & Down, Kenny Powers moves to Mexico and is in the cockfighting business until his cock "Big Red" dies.
  • The Friends "The One with the Fake Monica": When Ross was looking for zoos to take in his Capuchin monkey Marcel, one of the prospects asks how good Marcel is with a knife, and it quickly becomes apparent that he's running some sort of animal fighting park.
  • A House episode involves a patient who catches psittacosis (a disease primarily contracted from birds) thanks to his involvement in a cockfighting ring.
  • Law & Order deals with dogfighting in "Who Let The Dogs Out?" and "Submission"
  • Murdoch Mysteries: In "Let Loose the Dogs", Murdoch investigates a murder that centres around a ratting contest. The victim turns out to have been doping the dogs.
  • There is a cockfighting scene in Roots (1977).
  • The Seinfeld episode "The Little Jerry" involves Kramer realizing that he has improbably come into custody of a fighting cock. When the fight comes, Kramer leaps in to save the cock.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Cardassians like staging fights between live Cardassian voles and bet on the outcome. Outside Cardassian space the activity is illegal both in Bajoran and Federation space.
    • In the episode "Destiny" Quark suggests that with the new peace treaty in place he might expand his bar and install some "concessions" in the extra space. Understanding what Quark meant, Odo shoots the idea down by informing the Ferengi there would be no live vole fights on the promenade. Both Odo and Sisko make sure Quark understand that he'd be held responsible for vole fights whether he initiated them or not.
    • Then in "Through the Looking Glass" both Quark and Morn are busted preparing voles for fighting. Despite Quark protests that he was painting numbers on their backs merely to inventory them, Sisko orders the Voles confiscated and removed from DS9.
  • On Penny Dreadful, Dorian takes Ethan to a rat-baiting pit for a bit of gritty entertainment.
  • The Shield: In "Two Days of Blood", Detective Shane Vendrell and Detective Curt Lemansky go undercover in a cockfighting event to track down an illegal arms smuggler.
  • Vera: In "The Moth Catcher", one suspect turns out to have an alibi when Vera learns the blood on his jeans is badger blood, and discovers he had been 'lamping'—illegally hunting badgers with lamps—at the time of the murder.

  • MAD had an article parodying bullfighting as the noble sport of Dog Kicking (literally).

  • The music video for "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons depicts one of these, with the beasts being stuffed animals.
  • Tom Lehrer's "In Old Mexico", on the album An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer, includes a lengthy description of a bullfight, and the crowd's hope "that death would brighten an otherwise dull afternoon." Played for laughs.
  • "El Toro" by Royal Crown Revue describes a bullfight from the POV of the bull.
  • The story song "El Gallo del Cielo" by Tom Russell is entirely about cockfighting, and the lyrics utilize detailed imagery of fighting pits, gamecocks, and gambling on the outcome of the fights.

  • Cockfighting plays a major role in the Bold Venture episode "Death By A Fighting Bird", where a gamecock is used as an Animal Assassin.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Stormbringer supplement Demon Magic, adventure "The Velvet Circle." The Rooster's Wail is a cockfighting establishment in the Velvet Circle. Anyone is allowed to pit their fighting bird against another for a small fee. The current champion is named Desert Spur and belongs to the arena's owner. An adventure seed has Desert Spur being stolen and the PCs being implicated in the crime.
  • One group of orcs in the Dungeons & Dragons module "O2: Blade of Vengeance" is easily sneaked past, as they're caught up in watching (and betting on) a fight between two rats whose tails they've tied together.

  • The opera Carmen features a toreador as a major character, a well-known song about him, and a bullfight off-stage at the climax.

    Video Games 
  • The town of Toroledo in Alundra 2 has a bullfighting ring as a Betting Minigame. Unlike real-life bull-fighting, the fights are bull vs bull rather than bull vs matador, and the bulls aren't killed at the end of the fight.
  • In Baldur's Gate II, the Copper Coronet Inn has a fighting ring that has animal fights that you can bet on. Doing so will cause any Druid or Ranger party members to become upset with you. In the drow city after you're disguised as a drow and get known well enough, you can compete in the arena against various monsters. Played with due to them being mostly creatures of human-like intelligence but still treated as effectively animals.
  • Dragon Quest VIII has Mori's Monsterous Pit, where the player is given a starter set and is tasked with finding and recruiting stronger ones to battle in the arena.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In Morrowind, the bandits who have taken over the old Dunmer stronghold of Rotheran have turned the center into a fighting pit. They force slaves and prisoners to battle animals (such as the Nix-Hounds behind a locked door in the pit) and summoned lesser Daedra.
    • Skyrim:
      • A skooma den near Riften had evidence of this going on such as caged pit wolves and a small arena area with a bloody wolf corpse inside it.
      • Another one is in a fort occupied by bandits and you can actually see wolves fighting when you enter the room where the fighting takes place. It's also revealed later into the fort that the bandits' cook has been killing the wolves for meat to feed the bandits, who refuse to eat anything but meat.
  • "The Thorn" from Fallout: New Vegas is an underground arena with various mutant creatures that offers both creature vs. creature and creature vs. human fights. You can bet on fights, take part in one or search for creature eggs to restock the arena menagerie.
  • Three mid-boss battles in arcade fighter Fighting Layer are against animals, depending on the route selected: A tiger, hawk, and shark (fought in a stage that is ostensibly underwater, though physics are not even affected and the shark just seems to be flying around).
  • In Gears of War 3, a small Easter Egg in one of the Savage Locust camps allows the player to peek in through a window and see a group of Locust huddled around a small ring watching two Tickers fighting each other.
  • While the Shapers of Geneforge take a very cavalier attitude to the lives and wellbeing of their creations - after all, they can always make more - it's stated that they absolutely do not tolerate creations being used for blood sport.
  • The hidden final battle with bull Ox in Karnov's Revenge. To keep with drawing from other Data East games for bosses in the Fighters History series, this beefcake is based upon the bull from the bonus stages of Karate Champ.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has an adventure in the South of the Border area where you can bet on a cockfight — or refuse in disgust: "This flagrant display of cruelty to living creatures disgusts you. You decide to head back to the Icy Peak and eviscerate some more Yetis."
  • Law & Order: Legacies uses a cockfight as a plot point. With a man having died because of a rooster with a spur had slashed him, but with a twist that he would have survived if his wife would have called police.
  • Mass Effect 2 lets Shepard bet on Varren (alien dog thing) fights.
  • Pokémon is a notable aversion — or at least avoidance — of the idea that animal fighting is always despicable, but then again, they are Mix-and-Match Critters and other fantasy animals, not real ones.
    • While Pokemon may be encouraged to fight each other, in other respects trainers are obliged to take good care of them.
    • The Pokemon themselves also want worthy trainers to raise them for fighting — the main reason wild Pokemon confront trainers is because they want to prove themselves to anyone who might be willing to capture and train them. They also do it to make sure that said trainer can handle them. Pokemon are by and large peaceful, but they are spirited competitors.
  • RuneScape used to have a quest series about training your pet cat for a competitive rat-fighting minigame. This was removed in an update for hopefully self-evident reasons, and some of the NPCs involved were given angry dialogue about losing their jobs. You can still sicc your cat on normally-sized rats or Evil Dave's demon rats; the quest chain and minigame were the only things removed.
  • The cockfight mini-game in Sleeping Dogs (2012) allows you to place bets on roosters.
  • In Thief you can eavesdrop on a conversation between two guards discussing bear fighting; one will lament that he remembers fighting bears being more savage when he was younger, and the pit owners didn't need to give the bears paw hooks or razor collars to keep the fights interesting.

    Web Animation 
  • Meta Runner: In season 2, episode 1 , two bot boys are shown to be fighting amongst a cheering crowd in the slums, though their fighting really just amounts to playing each other up with threats.

    Web Original 
  • Hamster's Paradise: The Always Chaotic Evil harmsters enjoy pitting their Brutes, war animals bred for savagery, in battles to the death. The Decadents in particular become very fond of blood sports, pitting Brutes, gladiators and wild animals against each other in their gladiatorial arenas to enjoy the spectacle of their mutual slaughter.


    Western Animation 
  • The Batman Beyond episode "Ace in the Hole" tells the story of Bruce's dog Ace, who had been raised for dogfighting, escaped during a police raid, and met Bruce during one of his annual visits to Crime Alley. Ace spots and chases the dogfighting operation ringleader, which leads to Batman tracking him down and finding out he's only gotten worse over the years, using an experimental growth hormone on the dogs to turn them into monsters. After fighting the biggest one, Batman puts him out of business.
  • The 1952 Bugs Bunny short Bully for Bugs has him facing off against a strong, fast and (relatively) smart bull in a rather unconventional bullfight. Famous for only being made because Warner Bros. minion Eddie Selzer felt it necessary to proactively inform Chuck Jones that "Bullfights aren't funny!"
  • The Captain and the Kids: In "The Honduras Hurricane", pirate John Silver forces Captain Katzenjammer into a rigged cockfight.
  • In the 1947 Daffy Duck short "Mexican Joyride", Daffy goes to a bullfight ring to observe the spectacle. When Daffy jeers at the bull, the horned beast removes the clothes from the human matador and puts them on Daffy as a challenge to the duck to fight the bull in the ring.
  • The Dragons: Race to the Edge episode "Triple Stryke" reveals dragon fighting is one of the many uses the dragon hunters use their captives for. The heroes are no more forgiving of the people who pay to watch than they are of the hunters who stage the fights.
  • Goofy: In For Whom the Bull Toils, Goofy is mistaken for a skilled matador after unwittingly conquering a bull while touring Mexico.
  • In He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2021), the Evil Poacher R'Qazz forces any animals he doesn't kill personally to fight for his amusement in his fighting pit. Cringer refused to fight when he was caught years ago, which earned him his demeaning name from R'Qazz and lead to R'Qazz declawing Cringer before Cringer eventually escaped.
  • Love, Death & Robots: "Sonnie's Edge" features battles to the death between bioengineered beasts controlled remotely by human pilots.
  • The 1930 cartoon Mexico shows Oswald the Lucky Rabbit challenging a bear in a cockfight.
  • A 1938 Popeye cartoon "Bulldozing the Bull" has Popeye in the ring with the bull. Throughout the whole cartoon Popeye protests that bullfighting is "inhumink to dumb anamals" and while he'll down his spinach to defend himself from an irate bull, he breaks a sword over his knee rather than deliver a killing blow, ultimately winning the bull's friendship.
    • Don't be a bullfighter, because kindness is righter, Says Popeye the Sailor Man.
  • In the Samurai Jack episode "Chicken Jack" the eponymous samurai is polymorphed into a chicken, and then forced to fight robot animals.
  • The Secret Saturdays: The Saturdays break up an underground cryptid fighting ring in ''Cryptid vs. Cryptid".
  • In The Smurfs (1981) episode "Smurf Me No Flowers", Lazy Smurf, who thinks he's dying, decides to make one of the last things he does before he passes away "taming a wild beast", which means participating in a bull fight. The Smurfs, fearing for Lazy's safety, swap out a harmless cow disguised as a bull and make it look like it was charging at him.
  • Parodied in South Park with "Cock Magic", in which chickens are forced to play Magic: The Gathering in underground tournaments.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Spongicus" features this as the plot. Series Big Bad Plankton replaces his failing restaurant, the Chum Bucket, with the Chum Coliseum, where he pits Patrick against a ravenous lionfish. SpongeBob has to save his friend while Krabs looks on in horror.

    Real Life 
  • Bullfighting, of course, which is the ritualized slaughter of a bull before a crowd.
  • Real-life Gladiator Games in ancient Rome had this trope on mornings (both animals pitted against each other or lightly-armed fighters against animals), executions (including Fed to the Beast) at noon while most people had left the circus for lunch, and gladiator combat in the afternoon.
  • Boarhunting (called pigsticking during The Raj) was a nobleman's sport for ages. It was fairer than many as it was carried out with lances rather than missile weapons and wild boars were known for their ferocity; many were injured during boar hunts. In some ways it was practice for cavalry warfare.
  • The reason foxhunting is so elaborate is that it was developed as a substitute for boarhunting once boars had been hunted to extinction in many parts of Europe.
  • Bearbaiting — sometimes lionbaiting — was less fair in The Middle Ages. Macaulay wrote that the Puritans opposed bear-baiting, not because it hurt the bear but because this form of sport gave pleasure to the onlookers.
  • Ratbaiting is a less exotic sport once practiced in the same venues as bearbaiting, in which which a dog (usually a terrier) would be placed in a large pit full of rats. Bets were made over how many rodents the dog could kill in a certain time limit.
  • Cockfighting, while illegal in most of the world, is still a popular gambling activity. Agricultural historians suspect that the main reason chicken-breeding spread across the Pacific was because of this trope. Seabirds provided a more convenient source of meat, eggs and feathers for islanders than domestic fowl could, considering the extra labor involved in tending to captive poultry, but a victorious fighting cock could win its owner a much better payoff, both economically and socially.
  • Beetle fighting is also widely practiced and bet on in Asian countries, including Japan. Unlike cockfighting it's usually legal and generally considered more wholesome in that beetles don't have the same kind of central nervous system as chickens and presumably don't feel pain the way they do and besides which, most fights take place on top of a log and are decided by Ring Out, serious injuries being a rare occurrence (as beetles' horns are not meant to kill but subdue). It's also debatable whether it can be classified as a blood sport, since insects do not technically have blood, but rather a bluish compound called hemolymph.
  • Cricket fighting is popular in Asia, but unlike beetle fights, these are more violent as the crickets are well capable of killing each other.
  • In the Southwestern U.S., scorpion fighting is practiced.
  • Organized fights between stallions are traditional, if often illegal, events in parts of China and the Philippines, mainly during New Year celebrations. Ritualized versions of this practice crop up in the history of Thailand, parts of South Korea and Indonesia, and medieval Iceland.
  • "Canned hunts", in which the designated prey animal is released from a cage and prevented from leaving the area so a paying customer can shoot it, are an ugly modern variant of this trope.
  • Betta fish. In some places, particularly Southeast Asia, betta fish fights are popular, especially due to the idea that bettas will fight to the death. (Only in captivity, or when they get stuck in tiny puddles during the dry season in the wild; normal betta fights end in a kind of Loser Leaves Town fashion.) In fact, that's how bettas got their alternate name: Siamese fighting fish.


Video Example(s):


The Petranaki Arena

Anakin, Padmé, and Obi-Wan are almost killed by animals in the arena on Geonosis.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / BeastlyBloodsports

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