Bulls are not, in general, animals with stellar reputations. Real-life bulls are territorial, protective of their herds and often easily provoked, and tend to react to perceived threats, rivals and irritations by means of a headlong charge to gore or trample the target of their frustration. This has resulted in fictional depictions of bulls almost always portraying them as violent, bad-tempered creatures that will gore or trample hapless targets at any provocation. They are also not likely to be terribly bright, even in worlds of Funny Animals and Intellectual Animals. The result is a standard portrayal of fictional bulls as dim-witted brutes with anger issues, easily riled but easily outwitted. Bulls are also one of the most likely types of herbivores to be portrayed as villains, in contrast to the usual depictions of carnivores and herbivores in media.
Note that this only usually applies to male cattle. Cows tend to be portrayed as much more friendly, easygoing and calm than their male counterparts, even though real cows can be just as aggressive and dangerous as bulls if provoked. It's also common for them to be depicted with a nose ring, because it makes them look tougher. (In real life, bovine nose rings are used mainly to encourage weaning of a calf, as they make it harder to suckle, thus discouraging the behavior. They may also be used to lead the animals along, although this isn't as common a practice as it used to be.)
Oftentimes, especially in cartoons and/or when in the context of bullfighting, these bulls will be depicted with solid black coats. These bulls will also usually sport large horns, and their victims will be subjects to Horn Attacks.
This trope is evident even in more sympathetic portrayals of bulls; heroic bovines are often portrayed as still being gruff, short-tempered, blunt or harsh, often serving as The Big Guy and pairing this trope with Good Is Not Nice.
Since Tropes Are Flexible, other bovines such as buffalo, bison, yaks or fictional bull-like animals can also fill this role, as can brutish and aggressive characters or factions for whom the bull is a prominent Animal Motif.
See Bull Seeing Red for a common provocation of a bull's bad temper. Compare Rhino Rampage, Cruel Elephant, Full-Boar Action and Gruesome Goat for similar portrayals of violent fictional ungulates, and Temper-Ceratops for prehistoric creatures with similar stock behaviors. Contrast Everything's Better with Cows. Not to be confused with A Load of Bull, which is about minotaurs and other anthropomorphic bovines, although minotaurs are rarely pleasant fellows either.
- In One Piece's Dressrosa arc, during the Corrida Colosseum tournament, one of the "participants" is a bull called "The Brutal Bull" who plows through the gladiators by the dozens. Not long after, however, Luffy (the protagonist) manages to tame it and then ride on it to smash more gladiators.
- Magic: The Gathering: Many ox creatures are printed with the ability "haste", which causes them to attack the moment they're put into play rather than waiting a turn like most creatures do. Even those that don't tend to have references to fictional bulls' typical bad tempers in their flavor text:
The good news is it's vegetarian. The bad news is it just doesn't like you. — flavor text for "Ironhoof Ox"
- Asterix: In Asterix in Spain, it turns out that the Iberians, instead of throwing people to the lions, throw the to the mercies of foul-tempered aurochs.
- The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones: In the Cliffhanger linking #11 & #12, Indy is cornered in a dead-end corridor in the stock pen of the Barcelona bullring by an enraged bull that has been stabbed with multiples estoques (matador swords), and needs all of his skill and ingenuity to avoid being trampled to death.
- In the Italian Funny Animals comic Lupo Alberto (Alberto the Wolf), Krug the bull is far and away the most feared animal on the Mackenzie farm. He's not particularly bright — he barely ever speaks, his vocal repertoire being largely limited to grunts — but he's massive, extremely strong and has a notoriously foul temper. It says a lot that even Moses, the farm's shotgun-wielding Angry Guard Dog, is absolutely terrified of him. His presence is one of the few things that can habitually quell the fights between Moses and Alberto, as the two canids' fear of getting on his bad side easily outweighs their usual animosity. In a variation, he's a Gentle Giant unless provoked, and known to accept advice if offered.
- Mortadelo y Filemón: Valor y... ¡al toro! features an incredibly strong and aggressive fighting bull, which at one point wrecks an entire corrida.
- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW): In "The Good, the Bad, and the Ponies", the town of Canter Creek is menaced by a band of literal cattle rustlers, a band of bandit bulls led by the villainous and foul-tempered Chief Longhorn, who are attempting to take control of the town through ruthless attacks and fear tactics.
- The Transformers had the Predacon Tantrum, who turned into a bull, was an idiot, and flew into screaming rages whenever something confused or frustrated him (which was everything because he was an idiot). The Decepticons also had Horri-Bull, who was not only angry and violent but also took pride in having no hygiene at all.
- Ferdinand: The other bulls in the story are being trained to be bull fighters and tend to be violent and aggressive. Ferdinand himself is a pacifist who would only like to keep smelling the flowers. The main bovine antagonist, Valiente, is a much better fit — he's aggressive and short-tempered, and lives for battle.
- Zootopia: While Chief Bogo, the cape buffalo Chief of Police, isn't particularly evil by any metric, he's blunt, short-tempered, abrasive and cynical, very tough on his subordinates, and serves as an antagonist for the first part of Judy Hopps' character arc. This fits the theme of enforced Animal Stereotypes in the world of Zootopia, where people are expected to act according to the stereotypes associated with their species: the police force, for instance, is heavily dominated by animals expected to be tough and aggressive, meaning big predators and large, aggressive herbivores like elephants, rhinos and buffalo such as Bogo.
- A tourist asks a farmer how long it takes to reach the nearest village.
Farmer: If you go straight down the road, it's ten minutes. However, if you take a detour through the field, it's five minutes.
Tourist: How is it that taking a detour takes less time?
Farmer: Because the bull is out there.
- Feet of Clay has Rogers the bull, a bull with bad binocular vision who believes himself to be two separate bulls with one eye each (hence Rogers). He's not perpetually angry, but he is prone to charging things.
- In Journey to the West, the Bull Demon King, also known as the Herculean King, was a former comrade of Sun Wukong and, after him, was the strongest of his Seven Demon Kings associates (which included a Rain Dragon Demon King and a Rukh Demon King). When encountered he proves to be one of Sun Wukong's most tenacious and strong opponents, turning into a colossal white bull to square off against him and Prince Nezha.
- The Story of Ferdinand: Humorously inverted. The titular bull, while massive and strong, is peaceful and easygoing. The humor of the story derives from the deliberate and extreme subversion of this trope, particularly in-universe where people expect the big and strong Ferdinand to be as aggressive as the other bulls and keep trying, and failing, to make him fight in the bullfighting arena.
- The White Bull of Crete from Classic Mythology, sent by Poseidon to Minos. He fathered the Minotaur and then went on a rampage in Attica, before being eventually captured and killed by Theseus.
- The Epic of Gilgamesh: After being spurned by Gilgamesh, Innana sends the Bull of Heaven to drain the Euphrates dry, requiring both Gilgamesh and Enkidu to defeat it.
- Dungeons & Dragons: Gorgons, despite the name, are a species of armor-plated bulls that breathe out a gas that petrifies those who come into contact with it. They're extremely bad-tempered, attacking other creatures on sight and attempting to gore, trample or petrify them, and are noted to utterly impossible to tame or domesticate.
- Exalted: One of the most feared barbarian warlords in the setting, an Exalted chieftain who has led his horde on a long path of conquest through the North and crushed every city, nation and army in his way, is known to most as the Bull of the North.
- Pathfinder: While Kess the Bull, the iconic brawler — a character class focused on unarmed, rough-and-dirty fighting — is a well-intentioned and morally upright person (Chaotic Good, to be precise), her blunt approach to life, love of rough physical combat, dislike for niceties and assorted fripperies and deliberate rejection of a noblewoman's life for one of a bare-knuckle ring fighter more than fit the traditional associations of the animal she names herself after.
- Warhammer: The evil, tyrannical, slave-driving chaos dwarfs have a prominent bull motif. Their god, Hashut, takes the form of an enormous winged bull with blood-red skin, and when the ancient chaos dwarves turned to his worship many mutated into bull-bodied centaurs. Further, chaos dwarf lords and sorcerers often ride great tauruses — red-skinned, fire-breathing bulls with dragon wings — and lammasu — much like the former, but black-skinned and with the heads of ugly, horned dwarfs — which are believed to descend from chaos dwarfs whose mutations were even more extreme than those that led to the creation of the bull centaurs.
- Warhammer 40,000: The Goffs, the most brutish, hard-headed and dogmatic of the Ork clans, and the most brutal and feared as well, fittingly use the bull as their clan symbol. This also reflects their preferred battlefield tactic — a direct headlong charge with no pretense of subtlety.
- Aggressors of Dark Kombat: Leonhalt Domador is a Garbage Wrestler, Mighty Glacier and one of the game's more brutish fighters. He also has a prominent bull motif, being called "the Black Bull", with a bull's skull on his jacket, and his stage is in a desert with skeletons of bulls in the background.
- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey has the Kretan Bull, a monstrous bull that's larger than a rhinocerous as a Bonus Boss that must be fought to complete The Goddess's Hunt sidequest.
- Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze: One of the enemies is Buffaloafer, a Cape buffalo who will charge whoever gets too close.
- Fairy Godmother Tycoon: One of your rival gangs is a mob of bulls in leisure suits known as the Mad Cows.
- Horizon Zero Dawn: The Trampler is a robot that resembles a massive bison. The moment one sees Aloy, it typically charges and attempt to crush her under its giant hooves or fling her into the air with its horns.
- Tauros, the archetypal bull Pokémon, is regularly described in its Pokédex entries as violent, short-tempered and very fond of charging things down. A Tauros with no enemy to charge will take out its frustration by ramming and uprooting large trees until it calms down. This is subverted with those native to Alola, which are stated to be somewhat calmer and more even-tempered than those found elsewhere in the world.
- Bouffalant, a buffalo-like Pokémon that serves as Tauros' counterpart species in Unova, is likewise described as prone to charging and headbutting anything it sees. It can apparently charge with enough force to derail a train.
- Poseidon: Master of Atlantis: Played with, as bulls defend cattle from predators but don't act aggressively towards humans.
- Rodeo Stampede: Sky Zoo Safari: Once their enclosure is upgraded enough, cape buffalo charge forward briefly as soon as you lasso them, smashing through anything in their path from trees to rocks to other animals.
- In Titan Quest, the boss guarding the access to the Yellow Emperor's palace in act III is a massive, bright red demon bull named Yao Guai, who attacks by goring, trampling, as well as bucking, shooting flames and summoning shadow demons to attack you.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender inverts this with flying bison, which served as Bond Creatures to the Air Nomads and are friendly and cuddly unless you threaten someone they care about or otherwise push them too far. Aang's bison companion Appa functions as a Team Pet along with the flying lemur Momo (another creature traditionally associated with the Air Nomads).
- Two cartoons bear the title "Bulldozing the Bull", one with Popeye who becomes a matador under protest (as he doesn't believe in harming any animals), the other with Heckle and Jeckle who are similarly forced into being matadors after sneaking into an arena to peddle tamales.
- Bully for Bugs: Toro the huge black bull takes downright sadistic pleasure in fighting and charging his opponents, even using a grindstone to keep his horns extra-sharp. While doing this with the toreador he faces at the beginning of the short is potentially understandable, his launching Bugs into the stratosphere after a slap on the nose is definitely a case of Disproportionate Retribution. Throughout the short, Toro (mostly) relies on straightforward attacks and powerful charges, and while against expectations he shows a couple moments of cleverness, in the end he is of course outwitted and defeated by Bugs. Other Looney Tunes using fierce bulls in bullfighting arenas are 1936's "Picador Porky" and 1947's "Mexican Joyride" with Daffy Duck.
- My Little Pony:
- My Little Pony 'n Friends: In "The End of Flutter Valley", when Sting and Morning Glory cross the rainbow to Megan's ranch, the first thing they find is a large, ill-tempered bull that immediately starts chasing them around the farm, until Megan uses a red blanket to draw its attention and lure into a fenced paddock.
- My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: The yaks are uniformly portrayed as stubborn, arrogant and not particularly bright. They all talk in Hulk Speak, without conjugating verbs or using pronouns or proper nouns (they refer to themselves and everyone else by using the person's species instead), and fly into rages whenever their ridiculously high standards for everything aren't met, violently smashing and trampling whatever objects failed to live up to their expectations.
- The Pink Panther: The panther becomes a matador in "Bully For Pink," using a magician's cape to outwit and subdue the bull during the contest.