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Bring It Back Alive

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A secondary goal of a Great White Hunter or the primary goal of an overly curious biologist. Instead of killing and mounting a unique species, their goal is to bring back one or more of them alive for display (or black market sales) in the first case, or for scientific study in the latter. Generally portrayed as a negative goal in modern works, especially in the case of the Great White Hunter. However, it was once lauded as a worthy goal of any explorer and a sign of their skill that they managed to capture a dangerous beast without killing it. The Mad Scientist version of this trope has the scientist insist on using kid gloves to capture or not harm a murderous Juggernaut.

Sometimes, it is a choice made after the characters accidentally subdue the animal or monster instead of kill it.

More often than not, it will then escape and rampage through the city.

Compare I Want Them Alive! for humans.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • The primary antagonist of the Franco-Belgian comic book Marsupilami is named Bring M. Backalive in the original French version (or Bring de Backalive in the comic) and, as expected, attempts to capture a live specimen of the eponymous animal.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 
  • Clayton, the Egomaniac Hunter antagonist in Tarzan aims to do this with Tarzan's gorilla family.
  • Charles Muntz, the Gentleman Adventurer from Up, vows to travel to Paradise Falls and capture a rare flightless bird he discovered there, after his detractors accused him of bringing back a fake skeleton of the same type of bird. 60 years later, he's still after that bird, but is undergoing Sanity Slippage and kills anyone else who shows up at Paradise Falls, thinking they're trying to bring the bird back before him. And once he finally does capture the bird, and Carl and Russell decide to set it free, he decides to just bring the bird back alive or dead.

    Film — Live Action 
  • The film Aliens has one greedy company guy who wants to bring back a live xenomorph for study, versus the people who just want to kill it before it kills them. In later films, other representatives of the company express interest in capturing a live way or another.
    • It goes so far that in the fourth film, the military brings the last known xenomorph queen Back from the Dead and hijacks a corporate passenger ship to provide implantation specimens in order to create their own pet xenos, two hundred years after said queen is killed by a Taking You with Me Heroic Sacrifice. Unfortunately for them, the xenos have no intention of being bootlickers and are too smart to not figure out a way to escape. Fortunately for everyone else, resurrecting the queen brought back Ripley as well...
  • The Blob (1988): When Dr. Meddows muses about the potential to utilize the Blob as a weapon of mass destruction in the Cold War, he orders his men to capture it alive at any cost. Once he's killed by his own creation, Meddows' men disregard the order and fire on the Blob with everything they've got, but it proves just as hard to destroy as it is to capture.
  • Gorgo has this occur intentionally, and the animal is put on display at a circus (to the scientists' great annoyance). Then its mother shows up...
  • King Kong (1933) is the Trope Codifier, although it wasn't originally the film crew's intention. Sunken cost fallacy set in when it's clear they all came to Skull Island for nothing once the camera is destroyed, so the director decides they're still going to come back with something (that "something" being a three-storey high ape).
  • The 1925 film version of The Lost World has this occur with a "Brontosaurus" in an accidental manner.
  • The goal of the villains in The Lost World: Jurassic Park is to capture the dinosaurs running loose on Isla Sorna and transport them to San Diego to stock an unfinished facility. They eventually succeed in bringing in a full-grown Tyrannosaurus and its infant, but it inevitably escapes containment and goes on a rampage through the city.
  • Mighty Joe Young has a night club owner hires cowboys to lasso lions in order to bring them to the show as a publicity stunt, finding the title character along the way.
  • The villains in Mothra kidnap the twin fairies out of greed, getting the titular Goddess angry. Later, another entrepreneur in Mothra vs. Godzilla tries to do this with Mothra's egg AND the fairies. Then Godzilla shows up too, hungry for Mothra Egg.
  • Frank Walsh, the protagonist of Primal, is a Great White Hunter specialises in capturing exotic animals for zoos. The opening scenes of the movie are Frank stalking and capturing a 400 lb white jaguar.
  • The goal of the exploration group in the 1948 film Unknown Island.

  • Willard Price's Adventure series (Gorilla Adventure, Elephant Adventure. etc.). Hal and Roger Hunt traveled around the world, capturing exotic and dangerous animals for their father's wildlife collection.

    Live Action TV 
  • The entire point of the series Bring 'Em Back Alive, whichwas very loosely based on on the exploits of Real Life Great White Hunter Frank Buck; a hunter, animal collector, and author who made many expeditions into Asia for the purpose of hunting and collecting exotic animals for zoos and circuses.
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor and U.N.I.T. attempt to capture one of the eponymous dinosaurs alive in Invasion of the Dinosaurs so the Doctor can examine it and work out where they are coming from.
  • Prehistoric Park is this trope in effect, as the entire point of the titular park is to rescue prehistoric animals from extinction in the past to be put on display and have a second chance at life.
  • Primeval seems to have 'take it alive' as the secondary aim of dealing with incursions, if for some reason the primary aim (return creature to time period) falls through. Of course, if they can't do that, they kill it rather than let it run rampant in the modern era. Sometimes wind up being the target of Lester's Deadpan Snark "...And what am I meant to do with a mammoth?"

    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS Bestiary had two pages of rules on live capture of animals.
  • Classic Traveller
    • In 76 Patrons, one patron wanted the PCs to capture a mating pair of Rowan's Beasts on the planet Feor.
    • Adventure 10: Safari Ship is about an expedition to capture a beautiful animal on an unexplored planet.

    Video Games 
  • Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom: Ordinary citizens of your city can only kill (or be killed by) the local fauna. To capture a live specimen for your menagerie, you need to enlist the aid of a Hero.
  • Monster Hunter: this is an option for ending a hunt rather than killing the beast you're tracking. It requires first weakening the monster so that it's very badly wounded, luring it into a trap and then throwing tranquilizers at it. Some quests even require you to capture the monster rather than kill it.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Literally Truth in Television for the young David Attenborough, whose early Zoo Quest programmes were about trapping animals in exotic locations so they could be brought back to London Zoo.
  • Real Life Great White Hunter Frank Buck made a career out of this.
  • Some early-modern explorers did this to people: they would grab a native and take him back to show off as a specimen. And yes, that does sound suspiciously like this.