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Cub Cues Protective Parent

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"How cute! Let's keep it... Aaargh!"

If you come across a young Kangaskhan playing by itself, you must never disturb it or attempt to catch it. The baby Pokémon's parent is sure to be in the area, and it will become violently enraged at you.
Pokédex entry for Kangaskhan, Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire

If the characters find a baby wild animal, it is almost certain that a dangerous parent animal is nearby, and will soon attack them. The characters will usually get out unscathed, but not without a good chase or fight.

In many cases, characters that are not too familiar with animals or the wilderness will attempt to pick up, feed, play with or even adopt the cub. It can result in Cuteness Proximity or even I'm Taking Her Home with Me!.

More savvy characters will recognize the possible danger associated with the presence of a baby animal.

This can be Truth in Television for many types of animals, so it is best to keep your distance from baby wild animals.

See also Mama Bear and Papa Wolf. Contrast with Monster Is a Mommy. If the cub itself is dangerous, it could be a case of Killer Rabbit. See also Pet Baby Wild Animal for plots about characters adopting a wild animal. Often combined with Gigantic Adults, Tiny Babies.

Compare and contrast Infantilization Retaliation, when the cute little baby itself will mess you up.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Strike Witches, the second season starts off with Yoshika encountering an injured bear cub. While attempting to heal the cub, the mother shows up, not too happy. Fortunately, Yoshika is able to keep her cool long enough to save the cub, at which point the mother picks up the cub and wanders off. Yoshika promptly freaks out once the danger is gone.
  • In The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, the title character as a toddler encounters a litter of wild boar piglets in the forest, and starts playing with them, then the mother sow appears and attempts to gore her. Luckily, she is saved by Sutemaru.
  • Dragon Ball Z features an episode in which a baby pterodactyl — named Chobi by Gohan and Goten — is kidnapped from his nest by a circus ringleader. Knowing that Chobi's parents will be angry to find their baby gone, Gohan suits up as Great Saiyaman to get him back. He is attacked by Videl, who fights him to get the baby back, thinking he stole it from its rightful owner. This causes Chobi to cry, and his parents swoop in and start attacking the city, not stopping until their child is returned.
  • Case Closed: An Asshole Victim tried to invoke this trope by murdering a cub, hanging its corpse from a tree, and lying in wait for the grieving mother to show up. When the Detective Kids stumble on the other surviving cub, they almost get torn to shreds.
  • In Zombie Land Saga, while spending time in the snowy mountains, Ai tries to capture a baby boar for food until it ran off. Later, the group except Sakura decide to lay another trap for it, with Sakura falling in it and the baby boar returning with its much larger father, which proceeds to gnaw on Sakura.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • One episode of the Orange Islands saga had Jessie's Lickitung chasing a pair of Nidoran into a cave. Two seconds later, it's running in terror for the hills when they come back with a Nidoking.
    • A three-part arc of the Johto season saw Team Rocket take advantage of this instinct to try and capture a Lugia, by abducting its remarkably cute offspring. Let's just say it didn't go as planned.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • The Emergency! fic "Closer Than a Brother":
    • Roy and John go camping with Roy's kids, and the boy, Chris, comes upon a bear cub. John takes the full attack to protect him.
    • The series this is part of (though you needn't read the rest to enjoy this one) has a human version. Even Roy's young son picks up on the fact that Roy loves John as a surrogate son, and several times, Roy even gets physical protecting John, who struggles with emotional issues and Asperger's in the series.
  • During a Flashback in What Comes Around (a Magi: Labyrinth of Magic fanfic where the entire cast Reincarnates In Another World), the usually savvy Simon Cavins sees a group of wild boar piglets and experiences half a second of Cuteness Proximity. This slows him down just enough that, rather than climb a tree in preemptive self-defense, he has Mama Boar right on his heels.
  • In the first Holiday Special of Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, the Samurai accidentally trips with a Snover, and almost attacks him for it. The Snover cries out and sure enough, a bunch of angry Abomasnow quickly shows up.
  • In Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail, Chloe, Lexi and Atticus are in the Hidden Temple Car when all of a sudden an adorable red jaguar cub appears. Lexi immediately becomes smitten with it and cuddles the baby all while Chloe and Atticus notices its mother appearing behind him. Lexi then lampshades that she's right behind him and Chloe and Atticus nod.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Alpha and Omega, Humphrey plays with a bear cub and accidentally makes it cry. The cub's mama and two of her friends come along to make Humphrey pay for it.
  • Brother Bear 2:
    • This happens in with a brother instead of a mother. When Koda gets chased up a tree, it only takes a roar from Kenai to realize that he's here to save Koda.
    • When Nita goes to get her amulet back from a raccoon's nest, she finds a baby clinging to it. She knocks the baby back into his nest, only for the baby to yell for his mama, causing every raccoon to turn on her.
  • In Finding Nemo, when Marlin slaps away a baby jellyfish with his tail after it stings Dory, the swarm of adult jellyfish immediately start swimming toward them.
  • In The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure, the gang of dinosaur kids find an egg and, at first thinking it to be an egg from one of their parent's nests, carry the thing home. It turns out to be a Sharptooth (or T-Rex) egg, and the group starts trying to raise 'Chomper' - the parents come looking for him. Played with in this case, as the Mama and Daddy actually end up helping the main characters before taking their baby home.
  • In Pinocchio, Jiminy is being hassled by a little fish while in the ocean floor. He starts to shoo it away when its rather annoyed-looking mother appears. Fortunately, she and her baby are scared away when he mentions Monstro the whale.
  • In Tarzan, Jane encounters a cute little baby baboon which steals her journal. After Jane steals it back, the baby baboon starts crying, calling the attention of its mother and the rest of its family.
    Jane: No, no, don't give me those crocodile tears! What would your parents have to say?
    [turns around to see a massive troop of angry baboons]
    Jane: [laughing nervously] See, I told you they'd be cross...! [backing away] Go easy on him, children will be children. [trips over root, and runs away when the troop attacks]

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park:
    • Invoked by Roland in his quest to hunt the T. Rex: he encounters a baby T. Rex in a nest, and decides to kidnap it, chain it down, and break its legnote , causing it to scream for its parents. All to lure the adult T. Rex into a trap.
    • The heroes rescue the baby T. Rex before its parents arrive, and are attempting to set its broken leg when the parents show up, extremely angry. At first, it appears that letting the baby go pacifies them, but they return later to destroy the trailers, apparently motivated by revenge, and continue to pursue the humans throughout the film.
    • Also happens earlier in the movie when Sarah pets a baby Stegosaurus and scares it with the noise of her camera, causing the grown adult Stegosaurus to attack her.
  • In Old Yeller it's a literal mama bear, when Arliss is playing around trying to catch the bear cub. Additionally, when Travis gets too close to Rose's newborn calf to take them home, she immediately tries to gore him.
  • An interesting case occurs in Aliens. When the colonial marines are in the alien nest, the xenomorphs don't attack until a chestburster is torched.
  • Apocalypto: While fleeing from his pursuers, Jaguar Paw climbs up a tree only to find a mewing jaguar cub. Realizing this is bad news, he turns around to see its very ticked off mother. He immediately leaps from the tree, now having to flee the jaguar, too. Luckily for him, the jaguar intercepts the other chase and mistakes one of the pursuers for him. It kills one and slows down the others, buying time for Jaguar Paw to escape.
  • Godzilla:
    • In Son of Godzilla, three giant mantises (Kamacuras) dig up and crack open a giant egg (presumably intending to eat whatever's inside), only to find a infant of Godzilla's species. Sure enough, Godzilla himself appears, responding to the baby's cry for help and clobbers the Kamacuras.
    • An interesting variation is presented in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II. The G-Force find what they initially believe to be a pteranodon egg when the giant mutant pteranodon Rodan attacks them; they're able to escape only when Godzilla shows up to attack Rodan. Then the egg hatches and produces a baby Godzillasaurus, which they speculate was a sort of parasite egg that had been sneaked into the Rodan nest; Rodan was defending it because it was his surrogate brother, while Godzilla was seeking to retrieve a fellow Godzillasaurus. Godzilla and Rodan team up to defeat Mechagodzilla and retrieve Godzilla Jr.; by the end of the film, Godzilla has adopted the infant.
  • In The Revenant, Hugh Glass is out in the woods when he hears an ominous shuffling from the undergrowth. He raises his rifle, aims carefully... and two adorable bear cubs lumber out. Being very genre savvy, Glass immediately starts looking for their mother. He's too late to avoid a brutal mauling.
  • In Gorgo, the eponymous monster is captured by humans and put up as a circus attraction in London. Too late do they figure out Gorgo is only a baby... and soon enough his much bigger and angrier mother comes looking for him.
  • In The Beasts Are on the Streets, Sandy, a young girl, hears a lion cub pawing at her door and lets it in. A minute later, its mother arrives at the house and breaks in through a window. Sandy hides in her mother's bedroom, not knowing the cub is under the bed.
  • In Who Am I? (1998), Jackie Chan's character takes a walk in the African savanna and stumbles upon a trio of adorable lion cubs, one of which, despite his native friend's warnings, he picks up. Naturally, a few seconds later he is chased up a lonely tree by an angry lioness.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: The crew watch Catching Trouble, in which outdoorsman Ross Allen captures wild animals for zoos. When Ross begins harassing some bear cubs, Joel and the 'bots begin wishing that mama bear would show up and attack. A similar joke is made later while riffing the movie Time Chasers, when the main character stops to catch his breath while fleeing through some woods and Servo quips "Oh, if only he were between a mother Grizzly and her cub right now..."
  • In Sons of Guns, Will tells Vince a story about going on a hiking trip and finding wild dog puppies, only to have Daddy come charging out of the bushes ready to attack his daughter.
  • On the April 9 2014 episode of 'Conan', Conan O'Brien showed off an MTV Movie Award trophy to promote the MTV Movie Awards airing the upcoming Sunday night — with him as host. When Sidekick Andy Richter grabs the trophy from Conan and starts playing with it, Conan warns Andy about upsetting its mother, and a human size MTV Movie Award (clearly someone in costume) arrives with a baseball bat.

  • The Lost World (1995): When Lewis Dodgson and his crew start stealing samples of dinosaur eggs on Isla Sorna, using a sonic repelling device to ward off any adults. They successfully raid a Maiasaura nest, but when they reach the T.rex nest, they accidentally injure one of the firstborn infants. At the sound its calls of pain, both Mommy and Daddy rex forget all about the annoying sound and go into straight Mama Bear and Papa Wolf mode.
    • Eddie Carr later finds the injured infant and against everyone else's objections, decides to take it back to the trailers where Harding and Malcolm work to repair its leg. Predictably, its parents show up soon after and still pissed about what happened above.
  • Nightfall: Myra has grown up in hiding and has hardly ever been outside. She's overjoyed when she sees a cute, cuddly, fluffy animal. Unfortunately, it's a bear cub and the mother is coming.
  • Happens in the War of the Spider Queen series. The characters find a cute creature, which turns out to be a cub of a giant forest sloth. Drow being drow, they assume that it must be a predator using its cute young as bait.
  • In White Fang, the titular wolf tries this when surrounded by humans for the first time. It backfires.
    • It goes all over the place when White Fang catches a baby weasel. When he hurts it, the mother weasel comes out and catches the pup on the neck, trying to kill him. His yelps cause Kiche to come over and kill the weasel.
  • Mike has this kind of encounter with a giant crocodile in Dinoverse, when he tries fishing in a pool full of baby crocodiles. She catches him in her jaws and signals that if he stops trying to fight she'll let him go, and she does so.
  • Discussed in The Bible's Book of Proverbs:
    "It is better for a person to meet a mother bear being robbed of her cubs, than to encounter a fool in his folly." (Proverbs 17:12)
  • Referenced in The Jungle Book in the poem "Maxims of Baloo":
    Oppress not the cubs of the stranger, but hail them as Sister and Brother,
    For though they are little and fubsy, it may be the Bear is their mother.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In "The Bunyip", a young Australian aborigine catches the Bunyip's cub while fishing with some friends and refuses to return it. As punishment, he and the rest of his village are turned into black swans.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons module G1-3 Against the Giants. In the "Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl" section (but not the original module), there's a picture of two adventurers with a polar bear cub. The male adventurer is looking at the cub, while the female adventurer is looking over her shoulder at the enraged female polar bear behind them.

    Video Games 
  • In Final Fantasy VII, examining a bird's nest nets a bunch of Phoenix Down, but also cues an encounter with a bird enemy — presumably the mother of the nesting eggs.
  • In Dino Crisis 2, Dylan and Regina happen on a nest of dead baby Triceratops at the same time the parents return to find their offspring had been killed, and they think you did it. Cue the miniboss battle.
  • Pikmin: When attacked, the little Bulborbs may cry loud enough to awaken any nearby big Bulborbs. Notably, they aren't actually young Bulborbs — they're an unrelated species mimicking the larger predators, explicitly invoking this trope to protect themselves.
  • Sly 2: Band of Thieves: Invoked in the "He Who Tames the Iron Horse" chapter. Part of the heist plan involves breaking out an old hand cart, and using it to catch up with one of the trains. How? By having Murray put two bear cubs inside of the cart's enclosure, causing them to fight, thus causing the Mama Bear to smash it open and free them.
  • Pokémon:
    • If you're wandering around in the wild and you see a baby Kangaskhan playing by itself...RUN.
    • A possible game mechanic in Pokémon Sun and Moon, as wild Pokémon may call for backup from other local Pokémon. Normally, it's Pokémon of the same or lower stage, but some species' possible allies include their evolved forms - such as Jangmo-o in Vast Poni Canyon, which might call on a Hakamo-o or a fully-evolved Kommo-o. Sure, this can be exploited to catch the evolved form as-is rather than raise them from their lowest stage... but wild Pokémon can't be caught in a Double Battle, and the allies are free to call in allies of their own when the initially-encounted Pokémon is KO'd.
    • Turned into a game mechanic in Pokémon Legends: Arceus. There are some places throughout Hisui where Pokémon of the same evolutionary line spawn; during mass outbreaks, the reported Pokémon's evolved form also has a chance of appearing even if there otherwise is none. If an evolved Pokémon sees you catch or battle its prevolution, it will turn aggressive, even if the species normally isn't.
      • Also beautifully subverted during the main story of Legends Arceus, during the Darkest Hour, no less. After the the sky turns red and Kamado banishes you from the village, the nearby Pearl and Diamond Clan Wardens refuse to take Araki/Rei in, citing the risk of open war with the Galaxy Team. Araki/Rei is left all alone on a cliff overlooking a river, looking totally defeated. Then, a wild Shinx approaches them, and they bend down and smile at its adorableness. Then it leaves to rejoin its parents, two male Luxio who had been watching the two of them. They then walk off together in peace. All Pokémon species have the ability to read human emotions. The implication is that the Shinx sensed that you needed comfort at this low point, and the Luxio willingly let it approach, sensing or trusting that Akari/Rei wouldn't attack. To drive this point home, Shinx happens to be the very same species of Pokémon the game used to teach you about the Pokémon species that directly attack you on sight.
  • In Star Fox Adventures, Fox finds a baby Lightfoot, and stops to talk to it. Tricky is uncomfortable with the situation, and with good reason: Fox is immediately pounced by several Lightfoot, though not for being near a Lightfoot baby. They're more concerned with accusing him of stealing the Fire Gem a Lightfoot tossed him to avoid being shot at. The baby was bait.
  • In Kingdom of Loathing, part of the Seal Clubber's Nemesis side-quest involves beating up baby hell-seals in order to bait the mother hellseals into coming out, so you can collect parts from the mothers to make a disguise.
  • In Fallout 4, the mission "Taking Independence" has you clear out a Mirelurk nest in The Castle, which draws the attention of the Mirelurk Queen. During the sidequest "The Devil's Due", you find a group of dead Gunners in the Museum of Witchcraft who were chased down and killed by a Deathclaw after they took a clutch of eggs from its nest in Lynn Woods.
  • In Mother 3, at the end of Chapter 3, Yokuba* and the Pigmasks have Salsa, Kumatora, and Wess cornered, when Lucas and the baby Drago (whose father had been turned into a chimera) show up. Yokuba is ready to crush the little guys... until the baby cries out and Mama Drago charges in to save the day.

    Web Animation 
  • In one episode of Etra chan saw it! a toddler Yuri points at "a big doggy" when her father Tokusa finds her. Tokusa understandably freaks out as he realizes the "doggy" is a bear cub and deducts the mother will appear soon. Cue mother bear appearing from the side, ready to maul both of them if they get too close.

    Western Animation 
  • DuckTales: In "Back Out in the Outback", Webby picks up a baby warthog and finds herself chased by its parents.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • In the episode "Bitter Work", Sokka finds a saber-toothed moose-lion cub, and inevitably its mama is near, and has to be fought off by Aang. Pictured above.
    • In the Sequel Series The Legend of Korra, it's revealed that Sky Bison have a similar protective instinct. They may be gentle giants when they're trained, but do not mess with their babies.
  • One episode of The Wuzzles involves a baby brahma bullfinch, an adorable little cow-bird creature whose mother happens to be a house-sized engine of destruction. A flock of them descends on Croc's house by the end of the episode, with predictable results.
  • In one of the Adventures in Odyssey videos, Dylan, Jessie, and Carter find a bear cub in the mountains and start fawning over it... only for the growling mother grizzly to charge them.
  • The Mickey Mouse short "The Little Whirlwind" features Mickey being hassled by a tornado about his size while trying to do yardwork for Minnie. Soon after losing his temper and giving chase, it starts whistling for help, and a gigantic tornado appears and destroys everything.
  • The Wild Thornberrys had an episode with a visiting rock star wanting to film himself feeding a bear cub. Eliza tries to warn him of this trope, but he refuses to listen, which brings out an angry mother bear attacking the kids.
  • In the Donald Duck cartoon "Don's Fountain of Youth", Donald uses a crocodile egg to fool his nephews into thinking he was regressed back to egg state. He laughs at the joke in hiding...right next to the egg's mother. Later the eggs hatch and think Donald is their mother, much to the anger of croco-mommy.
  • The 1930 Bosko, the Talk-Ink Kid cartoon "Congo Jazz" has Bosko encountering a baby monkey with a long tail. While petting the baby, it angrily spits at him. Bosko in reprisal gives the monkey a spanking, but stops when its father shows up, depicted as a giant tailless ape.
  • In one episode of Arthur, Binky has a dream where he is on a mountain of burgers. He picks one up to eat it, only for it to scream out for its mother, who is a giant burger wearing Dame Edna glasses, causing Binky to flee.
  • Mike, Lu & Og: In "Palm Pet", Mike tries to find an animal companion of her own. First, she tries to befriend a baby eagle, but is scared away by its mother. In the next scene, she tries to play with a piglet until she comes face to face with a large boar.
  • The introduction of Rick and Morty shows Rick, Morty, and Summer fleeing from a giant squid-like monster while Summer is holding its child.
  • Steven Universe: In "Jungle Moon", Stevonnie comes across a tiny bird-like creature and struggles to decide whether to eat it or not since they have run out of snacks; the bird's mother then appears and tries to attack Stevonnie.
  • Total Drama: In "Rapa Phooey", the remaining contestants have to collect the eggs that have the same color as their hat. The eggs come from a pair of condors that are very protective parents. In the second part of the challenge, the contestants have to return the eggs in the nest guarded by the mom condor.
  • We Bare Bears: In "The Kitty", the Bears find a stray kitten and take it home. Unfortunately, when they get back from shopping for pet supplies, they discover their new cat is actually a baby cougar that's let some other cougars, including the cub's mother, into the Bears' house.
  • In the Celebrity Deathmatch fight between Brandy and Courtney Love, Brandy tries to give Courtney a lost baby cub as a peace offering, which she accepts. Unfortunately, the mama bear happens to stand behind them, who then proceeds to maul Courtney into pieces, much to Brandy’s horror.

    Real Life 
  • This is seen in real life. Stories abound about people taking photographs of themselves with cute little baby animals — only to be attacked by the animal's mother. Worst case scenario: literal Mama Bear.
  • American Black Bears, interestingly, are usually an aversion, as they prefer to avoid humans and mother bears will often simply make their cubs climb trees to get away.note  Get between a Grizzly Bear and her cubs, however, and may God have mercy on your soul.
  • Swans, though often famed for their beauty, also have two other virtues; their loyalty, as they mate for life in the vast majority of cases, and most importantly, their fierce protectiveness over their mate and their cygnets, making them among the animal kingdom's greatest parents. Intrude on a family of swans, and both parents will team up to protect the cygnets, alternating between one leading the babies to safety while the other hangs back, assaulting you with brutal strikes of its wings, replete with bony spurs to pack an extra punch!
  • Similar to swans, Canada Geese also mate for life and are very protective over their families. Mess with their goslings at your peril.
  • Contrary to popular belief, lionesses do not sit and watch if rogue males try to kill their cubs. They will fight to the death to defend their cubs, and sometimes even succeed in driving the intruder(s).
  • This trope is not limited to wild animals. Domesticated animals can be very protective of their young. Farm livestock such as chickens, ducks, and geese will drive off predators or potential threats approaching their chicks. Pets too act this way; a mother cat will fight to the death to defend her kittens and mice have been known to bite at humans trying to pet or hold their babies.


Video Example(s):


Baby Dino Rhino

When Mario tries to use a baby dino rhino to get through the wall, a adult rhino attacks him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / CubCuesProtectiveParent

Media sources: