One specific, discredited version of I'm a Humanitarian is the idea that when missionaries or other people from the "civilized world" encounter "natives" in a locality, they are in danger of being eaten by them. They may initially think they are being treated as a respected guest or even a god, but then, without fail, out come the pots and the chanting.
Sometimes, the eating aspect isn't as stressed, but the idea remains that the outsider will be attacked and sacrificed instantly upon entering foreign territory.
While cannibalism as a ritualistic or cultic reasons has indeed been practiced by Real Life tribes, most accounts of the type seen in fiction were likely apocryphal, spread by white men as an excuse for the use of military force as a means of "civilizing" and "pacifying" the "savages". More info is given on The Other Wiki here.
- Red Ears: Subverted. In one comic set in Darkest Africa, a father and his son from a cannibal tribe are sent out to hunt for food by his fat, foulmouthed wife when they stumble across a pretty young European woman. After they capture her, the son asks his father if they'll take her home and eat her. The father replies that they'll take her home and eat his mother instead.
- Happens a number of times to Little Nemo and his friends. One time a missionary shows up, trying to convert the natives to vegetarianism.
- Disney does not like talking about the way Africans were portrayed in their 1930's Mickey Mouse comics. This trope has a lot to do with that.
- One comic spoofed this by having an expedition come across the famous lost explorer they were searching for, inside a cooking pot over a fire. After they charge in to rescue him, the indignant explorer complains that he was just having a bath.
- There exists a whole mini-genre of exploitation films centred on this trope; for examples, see Cannibal Film. The second half of Cannibal Holocaust takes this trope to its logical and insanely nightmarish conclusion. It's not like the film crew didn't have it coming, though.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest had this with a tribe that captured Jack and several of his crew. This example is a good illustration of this trope being discredited. At first, the natives doing this were identified as Caribs, and the few surviving Caribs complained that calling them cannibals is a false accusation against them.
- Bob Hope and Bing Crosby are captured by cannibals in Road to Zanzibar. The cannibals think Hope and Crosby are white gods... until, that is, the cannibals decide to test their divinity by having Hope get into a sidesplittingly hilarious wrestling match with a gorilla.
- The 1985 movie of King Solomon's Mines has The Hero and The Chick being thrown into an enormous cooking pot. They escape by swimming back and forth until the pot turns over and they roll away downhill.
Quatermain: Jessie... they're having us for dinner.
Jessie: Well can't we just beg out, without offending them?
Quatermain: They're not having us for dinner, they're having US for dinner!
- Played with in the second Crocodile Dundee movie in this scene where Mick's Aborigine friends (one of which is called Charlie by Mick) are holding some of the drug lord's men prisoner.
[first Aborigine speaks in Aborigine language]
Charlie: No mate we just hold them.
Sue: What did he say?
Charlie: [winking] He wants to know if we're allowed to eat these men.
- Not technically cannibals, since they're a different species from their victims, but the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi capture Han and Luke and attempt to roast them on a spit.
- 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!"
- Actually used fairly straight in two novels of The Culture. In Consider Phlebas, the protagonist encounters a group of natives who are at first welcoming, but then try to eat him. He literally pulls Regret Eating Me on them, as his Bloody Murder powers ensure death to anyone taking a bite of him. Also, in Use of Weapons, the protagonist is tortured and sacrificed by natives on a planet he lands on, and is down to Losing Your Head by the time he is rescued, and needs a new body as a result.
- In Evelyn Waugh's novel Black Mischief, the black tribesman are cannibals in the fictional East African country in which the novel is set. Ultimately, one group of characters has a plane crash/is slaughtered by them, and one of the protagonists ends up eating them, not realizing what or who he is eating until the natives tell him.
- A non-culinary example: In Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's Burning Tower, Arshur the Wanderer enters Aztlan with the other heroes and is immediately crowned king. He's given four virgins as body servants, a palace to live in, everyone in the city follows his every order... and a week later he's drugged, dragged to the top of a pyramid, and is "sent to the gods" by having his heart cut out and sealed in a stucco wall.
- This is one of the biggest fears of Robinson Crusoe. He eventually acquires one of the cannibals as a faithful servant he names Friday, but 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 children's book series Koziolek Matolek has most of the fourth book devoted to Matołek captured by a cannibal tribe in Africa. He manages to save himself by winning a riddle contest with the chieftain.
- The children are capture and put into a cooking pot when they visit a South Seas island in Bedknob and Broomstick
- This is the main theme of several stories by Frank Richards, most notably in Billy Bunter Among The Cannibals and Big Chief Bunter.
- In This Immortal the group of protagonists is taken captive by the Kouretes, a tribe of half-human mutants living near a a Hot Spot in the mountains of Greece. They don't bother with niceties, but pretend their captives could win their freedom through a Duel to the Death against the Dead Man, whom the Kouretes worship. While Hasan fights the Dead Man, the others try to break free, and through a combined effort they manage to both kill the Dead Man and flee.
- Subverted in Tales of the Magic Land. Charlie Black was presumed dead for years after being captured by a cannibal tribe. When he turns up alive in the second book, Ellie asked whether he managed defeat them in combat. Charlie stated there was no way for him to have fought off thousands of people, but the cannibals turned out to be quite nice guys, and once he showed himself to be more useful alive than cooked, they were all too happy to leave him alive, accepted him into the tribe, and, eventually, helped him return home.
- An episode of The Goodies had the lads placed in a native cooking-pot. They got out of it by encouraging the natives to cook "human clear soup" - the point being that when cooking clear soup you remove the meat before serving.
- In one of the more recent Jonathan Creek episodes, the titular character's boss had got in trouble with the media for saying words to the effect of "We'll be eaten alive" while visiting an African nation (He was, apparently, talking about locusts).
- The Torchwood episode "Countrycide" had the team investigating missing persons. They ended up finding out what happened to the people who went missing when they got captured themselves.
Tosh: We're food.
- Captain Redbeard Rum's (offscreen) fate in Blackadder II.
Blackadder: He was a third-rate captain, but a first-rate second course.
- Star Trek: Voyager. The crew of Voyager are stranded on a planet, and are captured by a primitive tribe. Neelix says, "They're trying to work out what to make of us... not in a culinary sense, I hope."
- Appears with the add-on "Devil's Island" table for Balls of Steel, along with a threatening giant scorpion.
- This is a recurring theme of "Duck" Edwing's one-page "Tales from the Duck Side" comics in MAD magazine.
- Monkey Island:
- Subverted with the vegetarian "cannibals" in The Secret of Monkey Island. They capture Guybrush, but afterwards they stand around and debate whether or not it would be healthy to eat him. They're also notably more annoyed by the fact that you stole their bananas than anything else.
- In The Curse of Monkey Island, the cannibals have relocated... and gone vegetarian. Doesn't stop them from trying to Appease the Volcano God, but fortunately the volcano is lactose-intolerant and on a very carefully regulated diet.
- Your explorer can be captured by a cannibal tribe in a certain Random Event in The Wager. They won't eat you, but if you don't have the proper items or pick the right choices in the event, some of your crew may suffer horrible fates.
- Jungle Hunt combines this trope with Save the Princess.
- In one Leisure Suit Larry game, there's a part where Larry runs off into a jungle and the player assumes control of his girlfriend, at which point she has to find him, and help him escape from lesbian cannibals.
- The Last of Us has this be the setup for the winter section.
- Van Beuren Studios used this in several of their cartoons:
- Waffles the Cat and Don the Dog wind up in this situation in "Jungle Jazz".
- The Little King gets captured by a tribe of them in "On The Pan"; he's even served with Happy Birthday topping written in him!
- Tom and Jerry also suffer this fate in "Jungle Jam". They win them over with their music, at least until they try to run away.
- Robinson Cruesoe suffers this fate in "Molly Moo Cow and Robinson Cruesoe", but Molly manages to save him.
- Rocky and Bullwinkle:
- Happens to Rocky and Bullwinkle. Lampshaded and Subverted when they point out that since they're not human it's technically not cannibalism.
- This also happens to Sherman and Mr. Peabody during one of their segments on a trip to meet Dr. David Livingston. Peabody gets them out of it by impressing the cannibals with some showmanship.
- Mystery, Inc. is captured by cannibals in Scooby-Doo! and the Samurai Sword. The boys are going to be eaten and the girls are going to be married to the chief.
- The Legend of Korra: It's implied that this happened to Bumi. While walking around the fog with his siblings, he started having flashbacks of this event. Even though his siblings believed that his stories were fabricated, it's pretty clear that this one really did happen.
- In an episode of TaleSpin, Becky's truffle hunting expedition turns sour when they're found by natives who try to cook her and the pig she brought to sniff the valuable fungus out. The biggest irony is, the natives seem to have plenty of truffles; they use them in the soup that Becky nearly becomes a part of.
- Rupert had a strange example of this in "Rupert and the Crocodiles" where Rupert Bear, his friend Podgy Pig, and a captain and first mate who were both human were captured by a tribe of bipedal crocodiles who attempted to eat them.
- Although the trope certainly over-sensationalizes the facts, a handful of Christian missionaries did indeed have the misfortune to be killed and eaten while attempting to reach tribes that practiced cannibalism: notably Thomas Bakernote , John Williamsnote , and James Chalmers. Thomas Baker's boots, cooked with him but found to be inedible, can reportedly be seen on display in the Fiji Museum. It's believed that the tribespeople may have seen the Europeans as a threat and practiced ritualized cannibalism in an attempt to neutralize the enemies' power. In recent years the tribes (now Christianized) have held formal ceremonies of reconciliation and apology with descendants of the missionaries.