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Cannibal Tribe

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These are the Adventure Archaeologist's stock enemies... Well, they used to be.

M'Baku: One more word, and I will feed you to my children.
Agent Ross: [loud gulp]
M'Baku: I'm kidding, we are vegetarians.
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Once upon a time, it was pretty much a given that any dark-skinned, non-Christian native tribes encountered by a European explorer hero would be consumers of human flesh. The stereotypical Cannibal Tribe are Always Chaotic Evil, dress in very little but for the Skeletons in the Coat Closet, and live in wooden huts around a large fire with an enormous cooking pot sitting on top of it.

The Missionary may be already there, trying to make them change their ways, or he might be in our hero's party... or those might be his bones adorning the chief's throne. Monstrous Cannibalism may be practiced within the tribe if they run out of captives.

Often provide the Angry Natives for a Chased by Angry Natives scene, often followed by a Tribal Carry scene. Contrast Noble Savage.

Subtrope of Hollywood Natives. Supertrope of Captured by Cannibals and the related exploitation film genre, Cannibal Film. Contrast with Cannibal Clan, where the cannibals are just a family. Subtrope of Humans Are Bastards. And ironically, the Cannibal Tribe's attitude towards foreigners makes them a subtrope of Politically Incorrect Villain.

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Examples

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     Anime & Manga 
  • In Attack on Titan Hange mentions a cannibal tribe of ordinary humans who hid out in the mountains for some time, attacking travelers for their valuables and then eating them. She names two captured Titans after the leaders of the tribe, "Sonny" and "Bean", a reference to the myth of Sawney Bean.

    Comic Books 
  • Alan Ford: in A Jump in the void, the heroes end up in the Amazon and are captured by a tribe of primitives who wants to eat them (having already eaten the villain for lunch), but thankfully they mistook the Team Pet Cyrano for their god and let the heroes go.
  • In the Savage Sword of Conan comics, Conan encountered a cannibal tribe who believe they can become invincible for a short time by "eating the moon", which they accomplish by devouring the flesh of a Human Sacrifice bathed in moonlight. They're absolutely correct, though their invulnerability may be powered by belief. Conan defeats them by "slaying" the moon — he releases a cloud of smoke from a special pellet, which completely obscures the night sky.
  • In Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris, the titular princess discovers a ruined city inhabited by a tribe of savage White Martians that eats exclusively flesh. They aren't picky about what they eat, be it wild beasts they hunt, unfortunate travelers who get lost and even their own dead. In contrast to other examples that are rife with Unfortunate Implications, these savages are blonde haired, blue-eyed and pale skinned, as they are related to the Holy Therns (who are also cannibals themselves, but far more civilized and eat only Red Martian flesh).

    Comic Strips 
  • Parodied in a Don Martin comic, where a cannibal tribe is preparing to have an explorer Stewed Alive. The Missionary runs up and stops them, asking if they've already forgot all she has taught them. The cannibals take pause, thinking heavily... then remembers; they'd forgotten to add carrots and onions to the broth. Cue the Missionary sitting down to join the meal.
  • Several stories in the early years of The Phantom featured cannibal tribes, including a few tribes in the Phantom's own neighborhood who were officially reformed, but prone to backsliding when they thought he wasn't looking. One later story ends with the Phantom placing the villain of the piece in the custody of one of these tribes, encouraging good behaviour by warning him of their history. He carefully neglects to mention that since then, not only have they kicked the cannibalism, but they have all become vegetarians.
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    Fan Works 
  • Fallout: Equestria: The friendly ponies of Arbu are actually cannibals, killing and eating anyone who stays too long without joining the tribe. They do let ponies leave unharmed, but in some ways that's actually worse — they've been selling the meat to merchants and had a decent reputation throughout the Wasteland. Anyone who doesn't want to participate ends up leaving, but then they usually get caught and killed later. When Littlepip finally finds out what's going on (especially the part where they fed an unknowing colt his own father), she kills every single one of them. Her companions have mixed reactions to this; Velvet Remedy for once agrees completely and likens it to cutting out a cancer, Calamity agrees that what they were doing was wrong but considers the slaughter unacceptable, Xenith has done terrible things to survive and so can't blame them, and Steelhooves agrees they needed to die but wished Littlepip could have discussed it with them so that they could operate in a colder and more calculated manner. The townspony who showed Littlepip what was going on says that the town deserved far worse than what it got. He kept a ledger of all the ponies who were eaten, and uses it to recover Littlepip's reputation.

    Films — Animation 
  • Surf's Up has a tribe of cannibal penguins in the island where a surf competition is held. They capture Chicken Joe, and only don't eat him because he gives them Squid on a Stick, which Tastes Like Chicken.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Jokes 
  • One Feghoot concerns a man named Steve searching for his friend Bob, who went to Africa to market a soda called Fresca. As he travels through Africa, Steve encounters all manner of locals, missionaries, explorers, etc., drinking Fresca with any food they gather or catch. They all learned from Bob that "[whatever they're eating] tastes good with Fresca". Eventually, Steve runs across a Cannibal Tribe who ate Bob after buying a bunch of Fresca from him. As the leader explains, "Bob tastes good with Fresca." Horrified, Steve inquires about what exactly the cannibals ate from Bob's body: "You mean you ate his eyes? His legs? His heart?" And so on. The leader explains that yes, all those body parts taste good with Fresca too. Finally:
    Steve: Uh... wait a minute. Wait one minute. You don't mean to tell me you — you ate his — you know, his, uh, thing?
    Leader: Yes.
    Steve: ...You ate his thing with Fresca?
    Leader: No.
    Steve: Huh? But I thought...
    Leader: [[spoiler:Things go better with Coke.note 
  • Cannibal tribes are a staple in Russian Humour. Usually, the stories feature someone captured by the cannibals and trying to avoid being eaten, the chief offering some impossible task and threatening to cook and eat the captured if they fail. Some stories reveal that the cannibal chief Majored in Western Hypocrisy at the Moscow Patrice Lumumba University, which specialized on giving university education to citizens of developing countries. Usually, whatever the cannibals are eating still isn't as awful as the university food.
  • Three men were lost in the jungle, and found themselves captured by a trible of cannibals. They are brought to the king, who tells them that they will be set free if they can pass a test. Naturally, all three jump at the chance to not be killed, and accept the challenge eagerly. They are told to go into the jungle and gather up 10 each of a fruit of their choice, then to come back and await further instructions. The first man comes back with 10 apples. The king tells him, "You must put all these apples up your butt, without showing any emotion. If you can do that, you will be allowed to go free and unharmed. But if you show any emotion, even the slightest hint, you will be killed and cooked for the village feast. With that, the man took a deep breath, dropped his trousers, and began the test. He managed to get the first one in OK, but on the second one, he winced in pain and was immediately killed. The second man returned with 10 berries, and had to pass the same test. He got 9 berries in, but on the 10th one, he burst out laughing. He, too, was killed. Later, he met the first man in Heaven, who asked him, "Why did you laugh, you idiot? You almost made it!" The second man replied, "I couldn't help it! I saw Bob coming back with pineapples!"
  • Two explorers are captured by a cannibal tribe and left to stew, when one of them starts giggling. "What could possibly be funny about this?" "I just pissed in the stew!"
    • In a variant, the cook gets mad and starts banging one of the explorers with his ladle. The chief tells him to knock it off, the cook says "But chief, he's eating all the rice!".
    • In yet another, the village women start dancing provocatively in front of the cauldron. The explorer complains about this extra sadism, the cook tells him it's so there's more to eat.
  • A Finnish joke has an explorer thrown in the cauldron and the lid closed. A little later, the cannibals open the lid briefly to see how well the man is boiling, only to see him quite alive and quite angry: "Jumalauta, can't a man take a sauna in peace here?"
  • Spike Jones: "[A tribe] was a happy little tribe. They were known to love their fellow man — medium rare."

    Folklore 
  • It is said that around the turn of the 17th Century, a cannibal clan called the Sawney Beans operated in Scotland until exterminated by personal action of King James VI (James I of Great Britain). The Other Wiki brings together the stories. It is possible the cannibal clan story marks the destruction of the last remnant of the Pictish people in Scotland.

    Literature 
  • There's a Cannibal Tribe in Nation, but aside from being terrifying raiders who take human prisoners for slaves (and dinner), they're really quite reasonable... and not nearly as terrifying as First Mate Cox.
  • Elements of this turn up in the South Seas Treasure Game from the 1981 novel Dream Park.
  • Heart of Darkness: one of the only African characters Marlow describes as an individual is among a group of rowers for the European explorers (for lack of a better term), and they are described as being cannibals, but considerate enough not to practice that while Europeans are watching.
  • Friday's tribe in Robinson Crusoe. Despite his friendship with Friday, Crusoe remains convinced that Friday's people will eat him if he ever ventures over there, despite Friday's insistence otherwise. They later rescue a Spaniard and Friday's father from being eaten by another group of cannibals.
  • The natives of Tsalal in The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.
  • The Wendol in The 13th Warrior.
  • Courtship Rite features the very rare non-villainous version; the entire population of Geta has been forced into cannibalism, and, over the centuries, has made it a proud part of their culture.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire the Wildling Ice-river clans are known for being this (not the Thenns, unlike in the show) as they live north of The Wall which is nothing but ice and snow. They are more savage and primitive than the rest of the Free Folk, who view them with fear and disdain.
    • The people of Skagos are said to be this, they once raided the nearby isle of Skane and ate all the men in a fortnight. Rickon Stark went there in hiding with Shaggydog and Osha, and Davos Seaworth dreads having to go there to find him, as the island and its inhabitants are infamous among sailors.
  • The Candy People from The Cannibals of Candyland.
  • This Immortal has the Kouretes, a tribe of half-human mutants led officially by Procrustes and inofficially by would-be shaman Moreby from Taler. They live in wooden shacks in the mountains near a Hot Spot and engage in cannibalism of whoever they manage to capture.
  • The Tcho-Tcho of the Cthulhu Mythos are a Southeast Asian cannibal tribe composed entirely of depraved dwarfs.
  • In Longarm and the Man-Eaters, Longarm travels to the Texas coast to investigate rumors of a cannibal Indian tribe.
  • Conan the Barbarian's Hyborian world has Darfar, one of the Black Kingdoms south of Stygia. They're not very popular with their neighbors (most of whom are actually quite civilized by the standards of when they were originally written up).
  • Redwall: Pick a tribe of reptiles or amphibians, they will be played this way. From King Glagweb's toads to Lask Frildur's monitors, almost every cold-blooded animal in the series lives in a tribe and eats other sentient beings. The only exceptions are the adders, who are still cannibals, but loners (or in the case of the triplets in Triss a Cannibal Clan).
  • In Odtaa, the Pituba Indians are reputed to be cannibals, but we never see evidence of it, and Rosa says their reputation is overstated: "They don't eat all the babies they're credited with. They may munch a finger here and there."

    Live-Action TV 

    Music 
  • Kids Praise: Discussed in the ninth album; while adventuring in Africa, one of the kids voices a concern that they might run into some, but Psalty tries to assure them that there aren't many cannibals left in modern times. Then they meet a tribe that only eats books, and the main character is an antropomorphic songbook....
  • Voltaire's song "Cannibal Buffet" is a punny song about the narrator's encounter with a cannibal tribe who end up devouring him.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Rolemaster Shadow World setting supplement Star Crown Empire and the Sea of Fates. A tribe of cannibals help to guard the Elephant Graveyard in the Chimen jungle in G'thal by eating explorers who are searching for it.
  • Warhammer 40,000 gives us a Recycled In Space version with the Kroot, a race of bird-like aliens loosely based on various "tribal" cultures. While they don't eat each other very much, they do eat everybody else (though smart ones abstain from anything associated with Chaos and the Tyranids. And the Tau, usually, since they're the ones footing the bill for their gastronomic tours of the Milky Way). Because of their Bizarre Alien Biology, they're able to absorb DNA from their meals, playing on the belief prevalent in cultures that practiced cannibalism that you could absorb the strength of people you ate. Depending on the Writer this may in fact be how the Kroot evolved into an intelligent life form, having been fairly ordinary birds until they started scavenging the corpses of some Orks that happened to crash on their planet.
  • Warhammer has the Ogre Kingdoms who are an entire race of this, as they have no quams on eating their own kind should food become scarce. Its not uncommon for Ogre clans to fight each other and the victor eating the defeated clan.
  • One of the many infamous things about Dark Sun was that halflings in the setting were all cannibal tribes.
  • Nearly every evil humanoid race in Dungeons & Dragons has been portrayed as cannibalistic at one point or another, but orcs, ogres, hill giants, ettins, trolls, goblins, and gnolls are especially prone to this depiction.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Kingdom Rush Frontiers features these as the vast majority of the enemies you face in the jungle stage.
  • Monkey Island features a former cannibal tribe that has since turned towards vegetarianism, and now commit sacrifices to their volcano god, Sherman, with human effigies made out of fresh produce. Although this has had the added benefit of halting the number of daily eruptions (Sherman has a very delicate stomach), it's also completely killed tourism on the island.
  • Starbound has an entire race of these in Florans. They'll stab and eat anything, including each other.
    Birdman not behave, he get eaten.
  • Deconstructed and played for drama in Far Cry Primal; while the more brutal Udam do indeed eat their captured prisoners and are vilified for it by the Wenja, they have begun to eat far more in an attempt to cure themselves of what they call "skull fire", believing that uninfected human flesh will give them the strength to drive away the sickness slowly killing their tribe. Sadly, the affliction they suffer from is actually the prion disease, Kuru, with several Udam tribesmen showing increasing signs of neural degeneration — meaning that the more they eat, the greater the symptoms eventually become.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • There are a few tribes in Papua New Guinea that used to still practice it until very recently, only stopping in the last 20 years or so. Primarily it was done to prisoners of war. Most (if not all) have stopped by now, but it's come to bite a lot of the tribes in the ass, because apparently, there's a very dangerous neurological disease called kuru that only seems to occur among people who have eaten human brains over long periods of time.
  • Chimpanzees who kill members of other clans in fights for territory often eat their dead enemies after the battle. It's only in movies that Ape Shall Never Kill Ape.

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