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Deranged Park Ranger

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Only you can prevent... your demise at his hands.
"I didn't know park rangers carry guns. That's...unsettling."

Park Rangers are often portrayed as either Reasonable Authority Figures, Friendly Enemies or Sitcom Archnemeses in shows featuring conservation areas/national parks or anthropomorphic animals. Their jobs incude making sure the wildlife is not fed by the visitors, ensuring litter is picked up, and overall ensuring the safety of the park and its inhabitants.

Then you have the Deranged Park Ranger—Geddit? Deranged?—who is portrayed as a psychotic, murderous, mentally unstable, or otherwise antisocial figure.

A park ranger is actually a surprisingly appropriate job for a Serial Killer, when one considers that most conservation areas/national parks are in secluded, arboreal, less than populated areas, with plenty of places to hide a body or more. Additionally, park rangers are likely to be armed to protect against wild animals, thus giving them easy access to a murder weapon. It is actually listed as one of the most common professions for serial killers alongside police officer/security guard and commercial driver.

The Deranged Park Ranger may also overlap with the Crazy Survivalist, inasmuch as they are well equipped to deal with wild animals and other survival risks, and may have chosen the job to avoid other people as much as possible.

Compare Small-Town Tyrant, when a corrupt backwoods official throws their weight around; Dirty Cop, for general police corruption; Killer Cop, when a police officer is a murderous psychopath; and Rabid Cop, when a police officer is shown to use excessive force on a regular basis.

While this can be Truth in Television, real life examples will not be permitted.

Since this is a potential Hidden Evil trope, be wary of unmarked spoilers.


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    Comic Books 
  • A Captain America villain, Brother Nature, was a hippie park ranger whose park was bought out by a crooked land developer and set to be razed. The ranger snuck into the park at night to sabotage the construction equipment, but the workers found him and had him Buried Alive. The dying ranger saw a vision of Gaia, who gave him power over natural forces. Becoming Brother Nature, the ranger used his new powers to destroy the construction site, but was unsatisfied and decided to retake the entire world from human civilization. Captain America arrived to stop him, and Brother Nature was so furious that Cap would oppose him that he summoned a massive earthquake. Cap survived and pointed out that the earthquake had unwittingly done what the ranger was so desperately trying to prevent - his beloved park was destroyed. Heartbroken, Brother Nature gave up after that.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Elf portrays the Central Park Rangers as shadowy, sinister figures akin to Ringwraiths or the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. According to Santa, they have had it out for him ever since he put them on the Naughty List.
  • Equinox: Asmodeous, the vicious demon lord summoned by Dr. Arthur Watermann, initially takes the form of a park ranger.
  • Grizzly Park: Ranger Bob initially seems like a sarcastic survivalist watching over a group of delinquents. However, when he finds out that some of the delinquents under his supervision got away with crimes which are truly heinous, he demonstrates a Knight Templar side when he decides to set a grizzly bear on all of them.
  • The Legend Of The Psychotic Forest Ranger is a movie about a group of teenagers in the woods who end up being targeted by a murderous forest ranger.
  • The title character of The Ranger is an unhinged and murderous park ranger who regularly kills people for allegedly breaking park regulations.
  • In Timber Falls, Clyde, one of the park rangers, is one of the backwoods family of religious fanatics abducting couples and attempting to force them to conceive and a child for the barren Ida. Leads to a Cavalry Betrayal moment when Sheryl manages to escape and sees Clyde's ranger vehicle and flags him down, thinking she is saved. He then knocks her out and returns her to captivity.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Criminal Minds: The killer, Brian, in "Tabula Rasa" was, when free, a park ranger who hunted and killed several people in the woods after being abandoned by his mother.
  • Ghost Story: The Villain Protagonist of "The Dead We Leave Behind" is a park ranger who murdered both his wife and her lover. The fact they haunt him from beyond the grave afterwards doesn't help his sanity any.
  • The Haunting Hour episode "Spores" opens with a boy named Melvin and his family running into an off-puttingly weird forest ranger named Jackson. At the end of the episode, just as it looks like Melvin has gotten away from the fungal spores that have turned his family and other hikers into zombies, he is ambushed by an infected Jackson, who spews a flurry of spores right into Melvin's face.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: In "Signature", Larry Moore, also known as "The Woodsman", uses his role as a ranger in central park to abduct and sexually assault women, with 23 known victims.
  • NCIS: In "Ravenous", Park Ranger James Landis is a serial killer who has killed scores of people in the park where he works.
  • The Red Green Show: Downplayed and Played for Laughs. Ranger Gord is a Cloudcuckoolander with little grasp on reality, due to living alone in the ranger tower. He does sometimes get desperate for attention from Red (since Red is one of the few people who talks to him), but never resorts to anything violent or extreme. He's not a bad guy by any means, just very lonely and eccentric.
  • Gloria, from the Smallville episode "Wither" is basically an alien Expy of Poison Ivy. She pretends to be a Park Ranger, after killing and replacing the real one.

    Video Games 

    Web Original 
  • Markiplier: In Markiplier's let's play of Firewatch, he envisions the wooden cutout of park ranger mascot Forrest Byrnes as a loud-mouthed lunatic raving about the oncoming end.
  • Zombie Roadkill: One character in the series is a park ranger who's kind of, well, intense. Having to survive against murderous undead animals will do that to you.

    Western Animation 
  • The Angry Beavers episode "Deranged Ranger" had Dag become a park ranger after the previous park ranger rage-quits and becomes a figure skater. When Dag is elected ranger, he institutes a series of changes (such as installing linoleum floors on the forest floor, then requiring all animals to wear slippers on the linoleum floor to keep them from sliding around). Eventually, he passes a series of increasingly draconian rules, banning eating, blinking, and eventually all non-beaver animals from the forest.
  • In an episode of Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!, the Gang deals with a park ranger obsessed with rules (especially ridiculous and unlikely ones). After many warnings, he had them thrown in forest jail. It turns out he's one of the culprits, and had been enforcing the rules to get people out of the forest so he and his comrades would continue logging illegally.
  • Brickleberry: Head Ranger Woody Johnson is a quick-tempered, antisocial conspiracy theorist and, ironically for a park ranger, a climate change denier.
  • Futurama: The episode "Spanish Fry" has Ranger Park, a park ranger who is obsessed with Bigfoot. He may be one of the milder cases of this trope, as while he is quite friendly and sociable, upon finally seeing Bigfoot face-to-face and snapping a bunch of pictures of him he planned on cutting off one of Bigfoot's feet and keeping it as evidence of the creature's existence.
  • Downplayed on John K.'s Yogi Bear Shorts. Ranger Smith is depicted as a Lawful Stupid law enforcer forcing animals to follow human rules, like preventing Yogi and Boo Boo from going outside naked.
  • At the end of Monsters University, park rangers are the main threat to Mike and Sulley (they are monsters, after all) after they've been accidentally trapped in the Human World and find themselves inside an empty log cabin meant to house a summer camp with no way back to the Monster World (and the door leading into the cabin being shut off)... until Mike reveals to Sulley that it is actually indeed possible for them both to escape back to the Monster World by tricking the rangers into entering the cabin the two monsters were both trapped inside of, and then prompting Sulley to scaring them all, knowing that being adults, their screams are far more powerful than those of young children, to the point that their screams literally cause the door to the cabin to explode, and both Mike and Sulley, by scaring the rangers, were able to return to the Monster World just in time as the door is destroyed, but at the cost of them both being expelled from the title university.
  • SheZow: A park ranger at Big Tick National Park keeps a Sasquatch called SheQuatch under his thumb and coerces her into scaring visitors.
  • We Bare Bears: Ranger Tabes is a rare heroic version, a tough-as-nails Cloudcuckoolander who patrols the forest around the Bears' cave. She's a super excitable Friend to All Living Things who seems to have more in common with animals than people, and is more than willing to get crazy on anyone who tries to harm her forest. When Tabes accidentally harms a deer and temporarily quits, she's shown as completely incapable of an ordinary life outside of being a ranger.