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Explosive Breeder

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Baris: There must be thousands of them!
Kirk: Hundreds of thousands.
Spock: One million, seven hundred seventy-one thousand, five hundred sixty-one. That's assuming one tribble, multiplying with an average litter of ten, producing a new generation every twelve hours over a period of three days...

A creature which reproduces at an alarmingly fast rate. Often, there will be only one to start with, suggesting that it can reproduce asexually. If not asexual, the creature may employ Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong to extend its list of potential mates to outside its species or employ Express Delivery to bring on the next generation immediately. In extreme cases, there may be more total weight of offspring after a few generations than there was weight of available food. Which is completely impossible. Rabbits and rodents tend to show this trope. Truth in Television to an extent— but often comically exaggerated.

Can potentially result in a Wave of Babies. Often the real reason to fear a Ridiculously Cute Critter, Sidekick Creature Nuisance, Adorable Evil Minions, or a Killer Rabbit especially if they employ the Zerg Rush on their foes. If they pose a threat more due to eating all available food in the area then they are a Horde of Alien Locusts.

Not to be confused with something that breeds explosives, such as Grenade Eggs, that would either be a Power-Up zone (if it helps the player) or a Mook Maker (if it doesn't).

May be a characteristic of Fantastic Vermin or those blessed by a Fertility God. Compare Mook Maker and Sorcerer's Apprentice Plot. Contrast Endangered Species. Can easily result in Massive Numbered Siblings.


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  • A Visa commercial showed a man buying a pair of rabbits for his son. The pet store owner takes so long to verify the check that the pet store gradually overflows with their offspring. The end of the commercial shows them outside the store because there's no longer any room, and one point the owner tries to use a rabbit as a phone.
  • An advertisement for Volkswagen featured cars breeding until they filled a city's streets completely. The model in question? The Rabbit, of course.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Bio-Meat: Nectar: The eponymous creatures. Unfortunately for everyone, they're also Extreme Omnivores.
  • Digimon: In the second movie,note  Diaboramon replicates himself several million times in just a few minutes. This is justified in that he's on the Internet and is explained as being a type of virus. Furthermore, the copies don't have nearly the same resistance to damage that the original Diaboramon does, as a Spam Attack destroys all of them except the original.
  • The plot of DNA² centers around a human example: the Mega Playboy will have a hundred lovers and a child from each of them, and every male will do the same, contributing to the world's overpopulation... So, a hundred years in the future, they sent an operator back in time to alter his DNA and make sure he will have a couple children at most, and none of his descendants will seduce and impregnate a hundred women.
  • In Happy Happy Clover, Kale, one of Clover's oldest friends, has 6 baby rabbits. They cause mischief and would sometimes get themselves in trouble.
  • Scarfies in Kirby: Right Back at Ya!
  • Naruto features creatures called Onbaa in episode 185. After Naruto spends most of the episode with a baby Onbaa clinging to his back, they, in Tsunade's words, "mate like rabbits" outside of the village; courtesy of a flock of eagles, everyone in Konoha, human and animal alike, has a baby Onbaa clinging to them by the end of the episode.
  • One Piece gives us a human example in Charlotte Linlin, aka Big Mom, one of the Four Emperors. With her 85 children (39 daughters and 46 sons) born from 43 husbands, she certainly lives up to her epithet, as Brook lampshaded. She's only 68 years old, but gave birth to decuplets when she was 50 and she still managed to gave birth to children beyond that age.
  • The man-eating rabbits in Pet Shop of Horrors, which appear to share biology with the aphid — they're all female, they become pregnant asexually with puberty, but fetal development is held at a standstill until the mother's body signals (probably by lipogenesis) there's enough available food for a litter.
  • In Seven Mortal Sins, Mammon, the Demon Lord of Greed, has over 500,000 children.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Early on, Kuriboh's main strength comes from its ability to multiply into the thousands in the course of a single turn, allowing them to swamp even the most powerful opponents with self-destruct attacks. It does require a Spell Card called "Multiply" in order to do this; the version of this card in the actual game has a much less powerful effect.

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 
  • A human example is Mother of Champions from Great Ten. Her power is to conceive a litter of 25 children each time she has sex, who complete gestation in 3 days, after which she gives birth. These metahuman offspring are superhumanly strong, but age ten years for each day they're alive, so they are used as expendable cannon fodder by the Chinese government — she has no contact with them once they are born. She has apparently given birth to thousands of these offspring, sports a perpetual pregnant belly, and relies on a robotic chair with six insectile legs to carry her around, as she gets too large to walk on her own.
  • Marvel Universe: In addition to being Ridiculously Cute Critters with Too Many Mouths and internal pocket-dimension(s), Flerkens also lay eggs by the hundreds.
  • Myth Adventures: In Phil Foglio's comic adaptation, there's a Running Gag about small dragons that reproduce on contact with water. One of them happens to get into a market stall demonstrating umbrellas, and after that they keep showing up everywhere, until at the end of the scene the original owners are forced to round them all up. (The artist added even more dragons when the comic was reprinted as a graphic novel.)note 
  • An issue of Star Trek: Alien Spotlight focuses on tribbles. In this version, they are at least semi-intelligent, and use their breeding offensively. There's also the implication that their breeding caused some sort of disaster, possibly due to lack of resources. And they did the breeding in response to Klingons ("rufflefurs") threatening the humans that showed up.
  • The Frogs of the B.P.R.D. comics take this trope quite literally, as their reproduction involves converting their bodies into giant "wombs" to hold their tadpoles, until their bodies burst open with thousands of miniature Frogs. Every one of these can grow into a seven-foot tall killing machine in less than four months, and need not be bothered with education thanks to their genetic memory.

    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield:
    • Played with in an early strip, in which the eponymous cat tosses a pair of coat hangers into an empty closet. It only takes until the end of the same 'strip for them to multiply until they fill the closet to bursting.
    • Another strip does the same thing with bunny slippers left under the bed.
  • In Prickly City, Kevin is the Lost Bunny of the Apocalypse. This is awkward when you are given form that calls for you to list your siblings.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Dragon and the Butterfly: Whiteout, Pedro drew two rabbits into existence with his gift, not having a clue where all the other ones came from. Hiccup and Mirabel can only guess, though they don't say it out loud.
  • In Kaiju Revolution, Ramarak lays large batches of eggs which hatch into skullcrawler spawn that don't reach an adult stage, leading to the theory that she and Rokmutul are the breeder caste of a eusocial species.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Back to the Outback, the two cane toads Maddie frees have an absurd amount of children by the end of the film, and it’s implied they only did so in 1-2 weeks tops.
  • Played for laughs in Fantasia 2000. In the Noah's Ark sequence, when the animals disembark, there are still two of every kind, except for the rabbits — twenty or thirty of them hop by an astonished Donald Duck.
  • The mayor and his wife from the 2008 film adaptation of Horton Hears a Who! has a total of 97 children! Despite that amount, they consist of 96 daughters... and only one son. And they have to share only one bathroom.
  • Wayne and Wanda the werewolves from Hotel Transylvania seem to have hundreds of pups at a time, what with Wanda being pregnant every time we see her. Only one of their many offspring, Winnie, is given an individual personality, acting as a playmate and love interest to Dennis.
  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World: According to The Art of How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, this is the reason why more and more hobgobblers keep popping up, "They're big as beach balls and have a very specific ability: they reproduce really quickly."
  • The Cy-Bugs of Wreck-It Ralph. When one newly-hatched Cy-Bug is inadvertently taken from its home game of Hero's Duty into the cutesy kart-racing game Sugar Rush, in the process of one night, it manages to create an entire colony of Cy-bugs, big enough to cause a Class 4 apocalypse event.
  • In Zootopia, Judy Hopps (a rabbit) has 275 brothers and sisters (at the beginning of the film, when she's nine, no telling how many she has 15 years later), and the Population: X, and Counting sign outside her town of Bunnyburrow is seen with an eight-figure number that is continuously going up as she takes the train to Zootopia*. She even jokes about it while estimating Nick's unreported income:
    Judy Hopps: I mean, I am just a dumb bunny, but we are good at multiplying.
  • In Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022), after the end of the original series Gadget and Zipper ended up marrying and are the proud parents of 42 fly/mouse hybrids.
  • In the beginning of Chicken Little, a spherical water tower collapses and starts rolling towards the crowd becoming an Indy Escape situation. Amongst the crowd is a chain-link of a few dozen baby rabbits pulled to safety from a Clown Car pram.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien series: The Xenomorphs. Give the queen somewhere cozy and warm and she'll carpet it with eggs. A literal Explosive Breeder, in fact.
  • The Crites in the Critters sequel were also rapid breeders.
  • In Dr. Dolittle, Rodney the guinea pig claims to be one, telling Dr. Dolittle over the phone that he's cute, he's furry and he makes five hundred babies a year.
  • Evolution:
    Nadine: Um, Professor, the little wiggly worm things in there are breaking.
    Ira: It's not breaking, it's splitting. It's mitosis. It's how they reproduce.
    Harry: No sex?
    Ira: No time for sex.
    Nadine: Bummer.
  • Gamera: The Gyaos in the Heisei continuity are capable of asexual reproduction and procreate by the thousands, meaning that even one Gyaos can eventually overrun the world with its offsprings. Moreso if Gamera uses up his Mana reserves allowing the Gyaos to run free and multiply even more.
  • Godzilla (1998):
    • The species of the mutant lizard was capable of laying up to two hundred eggs asexually, threatening to replace humans as the dominant species on Earth. Imagine if the original Godzilla was capable of that?
    • Had the proposed sequel been made, the danger presented by this ability would have been offset somewhat by the reveal that a full-grown Godzilla is capable of reproducing only once, and the number of eggs produced is determined by carrying capacity of the land.
  • A rare case in The Great Wall in which a Hive Queen actually subverts this trope: the Tao Tie are a hive-minded swarm all birthed from a queen, but it takes decades for the queen to birth enough warriors to lay siege to the Capital. As such, they only attack once every sixty years, having built up the population enough to attempt another Zerg Rush.
  • Gremlins: The Mogwai/Gremlins. Don't get them wet.
  • Sammael in Hellboy (2004) combines this trope with Resurrective Immortality. It lays eggs containing clones of itself, and if it "dies" two eggs automatically hatch.
  • The creature in Isolation is an unwanted by-product of an experiment to produce more fertile cattle — one that works a little too well, as the calves themselves are born already pregnant with the mutant cow spawn.
  • In Looney Tunes: Back in Action Bugs claims he has over 542 nieces and nephews, complete all their photos in his wallet.
  • In The Muppet Christmas Carol, Rizzo the Rat comments that he can't relate to Ebenezer Scrooge's lonely childhood, because he had over twelve hundred siblings growing up.
  • Newsfront: On several occasions, the film crew document Australia's infamous rabbit problem and the various efforts to control it.
  • The... host-thing in Slither. Literal explosion, too. Poor Brenda.
  • Tremors: Shriekers, the second stage of Graboid life-cycle are this; they're asexual, and when they eat enough they literally start vomiting out babies, which are implied to grow into adult size within minutes.
  • TRON: The Grid Bugs.

  • The guinea pigs in the short story "Pigs is Pigs" by Ellis Parker Butler (and the Disney cartoon adaptation).
  • Chrysalis (RinoZ): A mature Formica Sapiens queen, supplied with enough biomass, can lay six hundred eggs per day, eighteen thousand per month, which hatch within two weeks, and can then be trained up to maturity within days. That would be enough to make them dangerous. But, some of them can then evolve into more queens, making their growth exponential... It's no wonder that the Abyssal Legion treats them as a Horde of Alien Locusts, despite the ants' desire for peace.
  • The Mote in God's Eye examines this in detail with the Moties; not only do they breed rapidly, they're biologically unable to avoid breeding. Their race has been destroying itself in apocalyptic wars and rebuilding from the ashes of their world for hundreds of thousands of years.
  • In David Eddings' The Elenium, the insect-like Seekers would, if permitted, cover the Earth with their eggs and feed all life to their offspring.
  • Fragment: One reason the island organisms pose such a danger to the global ecosystem is that they're all this trope.
  • Ringworld: City Builders are extremely fertile, such that every act of mating within their species automatically results in offspring. Females also go into heat periodically, making abstinence all but impossible for them. They consciously subvert this trope by mating with other sorts of hominid.
  • Henry Huggins: One of the books in Beverly Cleary's series has Henry buy a pair of guppies, only for the guppies to breed until his room is covered in fishbowls and feeding fish takes up all of his free time.
  • The Rolling Stones (1952) by Robert A. Heinlein: Martian Flat Cats. One flat cat produces a litter of eight kittens every thirty days or so. Not so bad comparatively, unless you're on the spacegoing equivalent of a RV and your trip lasts almost six months.
  • The Gryphons in The Wayfarer Redemption were born pregnant - with nine more Gryphons. Gorgrael's advisor intended them to only breed for three generations (Giving a total of 820 Gryphons), but Gorgrael found a way to make it self-sustaining. Since he kept the pregnant generation away from the front lines until they gave birth, getting rid of them was a serious problem for the heroes.
  • The space spiders (Organism 8198) from Into the Looking Glass are an interesting example. They were created as a bioweapon against the Dreen, and in any other environment they eat and breed at barely subsistence level. If they do have Dreen to eat, only a couple hours, one spider dropped onto one dead bioform can multiply into a tidal wave of scuttling purple death that eats every Dreen on the field while leaving everything else unharmed. It's fully as awesome as it sounds.
  • Galaxy of Fear: The Swarm introduces thumb-sized drog beetles. A well-fed pair of them is noted to produce ten eggs in a day - and once the eggs have hatched, it only takes a day for the offspring to be ready to breed. In small numbers they're fairly harmless and docile, but in enormous swarms they will eat people alive.
  • This was humanity's great advantage against the elves in the Ryria Revelations. Elves were better than humans individually in every way: stronger, faster, tougher, more technologically advanced, and better at magic. But where humans could replenish their numbers in decades, elves needed millennia. As one character put it, "[the elves] were drowning in a floodtide of humanity"
  • The Grendels of the Lisa Shearin SPI Files series lay 20-30 eggs per clutch, and lay three clutches every breeding cycle. Even though they only breed once or twice a century, the fact that the newborns are fast enough to dodge bullets and strong enough to kill and eat a grown human (And the adults are even nastier) makes one wonder how humanity managed to push them out of their native habitat in the first place.
  • Similar to the Garfield example, Erma Bombeck would write in her column about how clothes hangers can reproduce themselves. Just one example:
    Sexually active coat hangers are at their peak when they are in a small closet. We once lived in an apartment with a closet so small it couldn't support a rod… just two nails. Within a week (the shortest gestation in the history of coat hangers) we had thirty-seven of those little suckers.
  • The Dromi in Arrivals from the Dark are large amphibians, who reproduce asexually by producing hundreds (if not thousands) of larvae. While the vast majority of them will not live past several years of age, this still leaves the Dromi with an exponentially-growing population that constantly requires more and more space. This is the primary reason for their continual search for more living space, resulting in frequent conflicts with other star-faring races. In the novels, the current Dromi population is estimated at being many times the combined populations of all other known races. As they don't fear death, the Dromi typically employ We Have Reserves tactics against their enemies. Some unique Dromi have learned to curb this mindset and believe that the Dromi need to be forced to limit their breeding to manageable levels. Unfortunately, in order for that to happen, someone must defeat them, and that someone must not be willing to exterminate the entire species.
  • The Ecological Engineering Corps weaponized this trope in the backstory to George R. R. Martin's Tuf Voyaging, as demonstrated in "A Beast for Norn". Haviland Tuf, owner of the last EEC seedship, hates cruelty to animals so when some planetary nobles try to buy monstrous beasts for their pit fights he throws in some "harmless little critters" to feed the beasts for free. By the time he's ready to leave the system the first house to buy from him is starting to notice that the rabbit-like hoppers he gave them to feed their new cobalcats are stripping their lands bare of vegetation, destroying their farmlands and bankrupting them.
  • Star Wars Legends: The Essential Guide to Alien Species states that the Begger's Canyon womp rats (first mentioned in the original movie) could produce litters of sixteen or more at a time. This, coupled with their size and habits, made them a severe pest to local human and alien populations, and was a factor in the government of Anchorhead announcing a bounty of ten credits per womp rat killed, something Luke Skywalker and his friends took big advantage of to help pay for their education and upgrades to their speeders (thus explaining Luke's line from the original film about how "I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home, they're not much bigger than two meters.").
  • In the Alien Chronicles trilogy, the rodentlike Skek fit this so well they're an almost literal instance of the trope at one point.
    The Skek exploded in his arms. One moment Elrabin had been in possession of a solid mass of kicking, leggy fur; the next he seemed to be juggling pieces of Skek in all directions.
    For a second Elrabin actually thought the creature had blown up, then a piece of fur no bigger than his fist went bouncing onto the pavement and skittered away from him as fast as it could go.
    “Babies!” he said in astonishment as another piece of fur landed on the ground. The rest were squirming inside his coat, crawling up his arms, escaping him despite his every effort. He still had hold of the adult, although it was much smaller than it had been at first.
  • Kris Longknife: The Iteeche are external water-breeders whose females produce hundreds of eggs at a time, which are hatched and grow into unintelligent larvae in pools. Their culture has evolved such that male Iteeche select the strongest fry out of the pools to raise and discard the rest, but there's a strong incentive to get as many fry as feasible into one's house, which has put them into an Overpopulation Crisis.
  • The Berenstain Bears Big Chapter Books: The Berenstain Bears and the Great Ant Attack revolves around ants, which breed fast in real life. When the super-ants (which breed even faster than their parent species) suddenly start dropping dead in the climax, Ferdy suspects they just ran out of reproductive power because of how fast they were breeding.
  • Chakona Space has the Faleshkarti, when they reach maturity they become obsessed with sex, sex triggers a hormone that decreases their intelligence, and the only way to slow the hormone's progression is to get pregnant. Also, they're Hermaphrodites so every single one of them can give birth. When the Federation makes contact with them every inch of land on their homeworld is covered with arcologies and the oceans had been converted into massive algae farms. Federation geneticists eventually discover a way to prevent the neural degradation and lower their sex drives, which was rather fortunate as they were breeding more quickly than they could colonize new planets.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Basil Brush Show used this as a Running Gag. In one episode, they bought two rabbits. However as the scenes pass, more and more appear.
    "There's these two here... And those two there! How did that happen?"
  • One trick on The Carbonaro Effect starts with two rabbits in a cage, and more and more bunnies keep popping up, making it look like the rabbits are reproducing like crazy.
  • In an episode of Father Ted, Dougal got a pet rabbit, and promises Ted he'll be careful with it. Cut to a week later, and there are rabbits all over the room, and neither Ted nor Dougal even notice.
  • On a season-finale episode of Hoarders, a Truth in Television example played out for a man who'd let his three pet rats — one male, two females — escape from their cage months earlier. He didn't have the heart to let them starve, or to separate the females from the litters they'd hidden in the walls, so just kept putting down food for them. Result? A ruined house from which over three thousand fancy rats were removed by humane-society workers.
  • Referenced in Hogan's Heroes when Carter catches a rabbit and suggests they keep it as a pet.
    Carter: One rabbit won't be too much trouble, will it, Colonel?
    Hogan: Carter, my boy, I must tell you the truth –- there is no such thing as one rabbit.
  • The Mandalorian: Downplayed with "Frog Lady" from "Chapter 10: The Passenger", an amphibious humanoid who hired Din Djarin to carry her and her jar full of eggs to her mate on another planet so they can be fertilized. In "Chapter 11: The Heiress" we learn in the end that they chose to only fertilize and hatch one egg out of the jar.
  • The Muppets Mayhem: JJ attempts to win Animal over by giving him a pair of bunny rabbits, which Animal has a soft spot for. Within a few days the recording studio is overrun with baby bunny rabbits which Animal is frequently seen chasing around in the background.
  • Sanctuary: The Nubbins. Basically tribbles with eyes and teeth, plus the ability to become mostly invisible. Oh, and they're sexually juiced up from lots and lots of pheromones, which also affect humans.
  • Star Trek: The most famous example is the tribbles, which did mention that they reproduce asexually. In fact, they are actually born pregnant, and as long as they're fed, they'll keep making more tribbles. Word of God states that the tribbles were based on the rabbits in Australia note . Ironically, these creatures were instrumental in identifying the actual villain in the episode. It's probably a good thing the Klingons and tribbles instinctively hate each other, since otherwise they would have wiped out all life on several planets - though nuking their homeworld was probably a bit much.
    Odo: Do they still sing songs about the Great Tribble Hunt?
    • The web short "The Trouble with Edward." shows that tribbles started out as a species with a very low birth rate but were experimented on by an insane and Lethally Stupid Starfleet scientist named Edward Larkin. Furious that his new captain forbid him to perform unethical experiments on the tribbles, he disobeyed orders and injected a tribble with human genetic material. This resulted a new version of tribble that reproduced at an insane rate. Within a day the tribbles got into the science vessel's critical systems, forcing the crew to abandon ship. Larkin refused to evacuate and died crushed under a mountain of tribbles. The ship crashed onto a planet and the surviving tribbles kept breeding till they overwhelmed the local ecology. Starfleet took too long to quarantine the planet and tribbles were taken off world by unsuspecting travelers. It is implied that the tribbles Kirk encounters are actually an evolved variant that does not breed as fast as the first batch.
  • The Vicar of Dibley This was used as excuse for Geraldine acting as the Easter Bunny. The real Easter Bunny was too busy filling out forms for the Child Support Agency. Alice believed not only that he was real but that he was obliged to fill out government forms.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Echidna, Mother of Monsters. Many adaptations (Dungeons & Dragons for example) record her as the Ur-Monster, the ancestor of a large portion of the world's monstrous population... usually the near-mindless sorts, leaving the semi-humanoid or otherwise intelligent monstrous races to have been created by their own patron deities or whatever.
  • Genesis 1:28: "Be fruitful and multiply", otherwise known as God's famous injunction toward Adam and Eve as the first humans. Some sects — particularly the Roman Catholic Church and the various "Quiverfull" sects — place especial emphasis on this edict, which may go a long way to explaining why Catholic countries historically have much higher population growth rates, and much larger families, on average.
  • The Kama Sutra documented and possibly perpetuated the Indian cultural tendency to reproduce often. Modern India is the most populous country in the world.
  • The Japanese kudagitsune are tiny fox-like creatures reputedly kept by sorcerers as familiars. Unfortunately, one kudagitsune can quickly become dozens, and it's not like they can just be given away. They can bring their master great wealth, but a fair chunk of that will just end up being spent on feeding them all.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • We have orcs, goblins (including bugbears and hobgoblins), and kobolds. Interestingly, all three of them are (Usually) evil. Parodied in one Nodwick strip, which claims humans can raze an orc village in the morning, and it will be rebuilt and repopulated by the evening.
    • Humans are this to most of the other civilized races. It's noted that elves, dwarves, halflings, et al tend to be longer-lived, but compensate by having fairly low birth and fertility rates, and taking a long time to grow to maturity. The "normal" human birth rate, by comparison, comes across as this trope, which is why Humans Are Average; they're the only ones who have spread basically everywhere and formed all sorts of different cultures.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Orks, capable of appearing in the millions once a small regiment of ork soldiers has infested a planet somewhere. Some believe that Orks divide like amoeba, while others believe that they are an inherent part of the warp and by invoking emotion through pillaging, the warp itself manifests Ork hordes out of thin air. Tau theory suggests that the Orks are a fungus, budding spores that attach themselves to the environment and suck it dry to produce the little "imp" and "goblin" orks that follow the soldier Orks wherever they go, growing up to become psychopathic killing machines if they survive everything the galaxy throws at them. The horror is not lost on the Tau.
    • And what's worse, this theory isn't very far from reality: individual Orkoids release spores gradually over time and en masse on death (being Orks, they tend to do that a lot). If the spores find somewhere safe and out of the way to grow, they usually first produce useful mushrooms and varieties of Squig, followed by Snotlings and Gretchen who begin cultivating the land, taming the Squigs and establishing crude settlements, until the actual Orks start to grow and take charge of the burgeoning tribe. The timeframe for this process is not very long at all, likely only a few years. Chances are if a single green-skin organism lands on a planet, it will be infested with them for centuries to come, as the local inhabitants will have to continually fight off increasingly larger hordes of greenskins attacking from the wilderness. The only way to stop this is to burn the Orks' bodies after killing them. On the flip side, The Imperium of Man considers a Feral Ork infestation one of the best ways to train Planetary Defense Forces for Imperial Guard recruitment. Ork intelligence and technology-level is directly proportional to their population due to latent psychic powers, so are easy to defeat if attacked often.
    • In the backstory, the Eldar used to be this - unfortunately, the depravity to which they sank as a result of Immortality Immorality led to the creation of Slaanesh while also crippling their reproductive abilities.
  • Warhammer has its own Orcs ("Orruks" in sequel setting Warhammer: Age of Sigmar) and also has the Skaven, subterranean rat-men with a world-spanning underground empire. The losses the Skaven suffer with their surface raiding and inter-clan warfare can't keep up with their reproduction, so they'll eat their own young if the opportunity presents itself.

    Video Games 
  • Aliens vs. Predator: Extinction combines this trope with Weaponized Offspring in regards to a certain face-hugging, chest-bursting race of xenomorphs. They have not one, but two upgrades that increases their birth rates to spawn more mooks: Hyperfertile Eggs, which spawn two to four facehuggers per egg, and Binary Infestation, which causes two larvae to spawn from an infested enemy or creep when they hatch.
  • Angband, Moria, and other related Roguelikes have several mostly low-level monsters which, as the in-game descriptions say, "can breed explosively." The most notorious of these are the worm masses, in all their annoying color variants. Even worse is in ADOM, where creatures get stronger as you kill more of them.
  • In Bio Metal, a computer analysis apparently shows the titular monsters increasing in such a number that, if their planet is not destroyed within 32 hours, they would take over the entire galaxy!
  • Creatures: Norns. Especially a genetic variant known as Fast-ager norns, who reach adulthood within seconds, live forever and are incredibly fertile. Many Fast-ager norns also go through pregnancy extremely fast, leaving them ready to breed almost immediately. If it weren't for the population limit preventing new eggs from hatching, they'd crash your game.
  • Diablo II: Some of the beetles, particularly the ones in hell. However, they don't have fast maturing rates, and the kids act much differently then the parents in terms of attack plans, making it more of a Mook Maker.
  • Bunnies in Donut County will instantly mate once you get them into your hole and erupt out baby bunnies.
  • Nugs in the Dragon Age series seem to have this trait, as indicated by a codex in Dragon Age: Inquisition. They can eat almost anything, even rocks, but they have no natural defenses and are poorly-suited to most climates-they freeze in the cold and blister in the heat. But they "outpace every tooth and claw" because they breed like rabbits.
  • Dwarf Fortress:
    • Cats, which can actually breed so fast that if you dump a bunch into hell itself they will still breed faster than they are killed. Their, ah, fruitfulness, would not be a problem by itself, as only a very few animals need to eat yet and cats aren't one of them — so they're an infinite source of meat and leather, if you don't mind violating conservation of matter. However, unlike most animals, cats adopt their owners rather than the other way around, and once this happens, they can't be butchered, and killing them in some other, completely unintentional fashion will give their pet dwarf a bad thought. Keeping them, on the other hand, will wreak havoc on your framerate — and of course, they'll breed more kittens. The massive framerate issues from an uncontrolled cat population has been nicknamed a "catsplosion". It's finally been resolved for good with the implementation of gelding, though some players find catsplosions so iconic that they'll insist on controlling their populations without it.
    • Birds and rabbits have been added to the animals dwarves can keep. Rabbits actually have some form of population control — they need to graze on grass or fungus in a pasture, or they'll starve to death. Despite this, "releasing" them into cavern pastures full of fungus has had the expected results of rabbits breeding faster than they could be killed by wildlife, and on occasion even killing particularly puny Forgotten Beasts on their own (Physical Hell doesn't grow grass or fungus, so the rabbits starve too fast to Zerg Rush the demons).
    • Birds on the other hand do not require food yet, they lay and incubate eggs in large clutches, and it is theoretically possible to surpass the population cap many times over by having forty female turkeys (a dozen or so eggs per clutch) and one male, and enough nestboxes for a massive birdsplosion.
  • In Epic Mickey, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit has 420 Bunny Children. They're adorable and eat mooks.
  • Fire Emblem Heroes features its resident Ms. Fanservice, Loki, gushing over how rabbits have so many children while she is dressed in a bunny leotard, implying she'd like to do the same.
  • In Galactic Civilizations, the Torians and custom races with the same Super Ability breed four times as fast when they're happy. This tends to cause morale problems due to overpopulation, but on the other hand boosts your income (more people = more taxpayers) and makes it hard for enemies to invade your worlds unless they use Spore Ships.
  • Cerberi in God of War can spit out Cerberus Seeds, nasty little puppies that grow into full-grown Cerberi, which will spit out more Seeds... One mini-boss fight in the game was basically trying to kill a small group of them before you got overwhelmed.
  • In The Guardian Legend, one of the enemies in the labyrinth areas is a blue spider that if left unkilled, turns orange, then red, then it splits into seven identical copies of itself. These individual copies can split even more, making things a little... complicated.
  • The Gonarch in Half-Life, also qualifying as a Mook Maker. Apparently the final stage in the life cycle of Headcrabs, it is essentially an enormous quadrapedal exoskeleton with an equally enormous testicle dangling from it, from which it spawns an endless amount of underdeveloped Headcrabs until Gordon kills it.
  • Halo:
    • The Flood. The carrier forms literally explode to disperse infection forms. The infection forms also mutate their hosts implausibly fast. The Flood are like a macro-scopic version of The Virus.
    • The Grunts. Their homeworld is a Death World where natural flame geysers are but one hazard among many. One way the Grunts cope with this as a species is by breeding very rapidly. When taken out of that environment, they have to be given contraceptive chemicals in their food and breathing gas to keep their population growth manageable. However, these restrictions are lifted in times of serious war when the Covenant need more light infantry.
  • Sam the cave diglett from Harvest Town is said to have over 300 brothers, implying this trope.
  • In Insaniquarium, both Prego the Momma Fish and the Breeders give birth to approximatively one guppy per minute.
  • One of Knights of the Old Republic's sidequests has the player dealing with an invasion of gizka — small cute critters with an exponential breeding rate that are basically the Star Wars counterpart to tribbles — on their ship. They're apparently considered pests on many worlds and many different traders in the game stock gizka poison.
  • Mother Maiamai of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds has exactly 100 babies that you must thoroughly search Hyrule and Lorule in order to rescue.
  • In Luck be a Landlord, any symbol that creates other symbols can serve as this, though the Egg -> Chick -> Chicken line is the one that perpetuates itself. This can be extremely dangerous to a run without some means of managing it, as it may result in bloating the pool. The Conveyor Belt doubles the spawn chances of these symbols.
  • Mass Effect:
    • The krogan used to be this trope in order to withstand their home planet. In Mass Effect 3 a character comments that a fully fertile, healthy krogan female can have, wait for it, a thousand children in a year. Scanning one former krogan colony world showed that they reached critical overpopulation in one generation. Krogan also have very long lifespans, they do not follow the Immortal Procreation Clause at all. What happened was they were uplifted into the space age and taken off Tuchanka to serve as soldiers in a war against the insectoid Rachni who were threatening the galaxy. Once they served their purpose and attempted to be part of the galactic civilization, in a peaceful environment and advanced medical technology their numbers skyrocketed and clans wanting to have troops with which to wage war... they almost turned around and took over the galaxy themselves. The "Genophage" was created by the Salarians as a desperate, horrible countermeasure; a genetic disease created to reduce them to one live birth in a thousand (the rest being stillborn). This was carefully chosen as an alternative to the genocide of the Krogan, but even with a stabilized growth rate the demoralizing that came from such a disease devastated their culture. Many felt they had become a dying society and lost their sense of comradery among each other.
    • Salarians, to some extent. Females lay dozens of eggs automatically every year. If these go unfertilized they become males. If fertilized, they become females. Salarians have short lifespans of forty years, so they must mature fairly quickly. However, they also self-regulate; they only fertilize ten percent of their eggs and write up complicated reproduction contracts around those instances. Even so, all the worlds they colonize have high populations.
    • There are also pyjacks, which are much like the Gizka before them in KOTOR. These were formerly called "space monkeys" in Mass Effect 1 and have become a major pest on the krogan homeworld.
    • The angara in Mass Effect: Andromeda are litter birthers. It's unknown exactly how many children they have per pregnancy, but they tend to have large families and the idea of someone being an only child is baffling to them.
  • The X Parasites of Metroid Fusion, asexually-reproducing spores that can infect anything, kill the host, and take on its form and skills. Their numbers were kept in check by the Metroids, so it turns out exterminating them in Metroid II: Return of Samus wasn't such a smart idea.
  • Livestock mobs in Minecraft breed at a much faster rate compared to real life. Seconds after being fed their preferred food, they give birth to a baby that becomes breedable after mere 20 minutes (one in-game day) and can themselves breed again after 5 minutes. There's no penalty for in-breeding, so there's no problem in creating a massive animal farm from two initial mobs in just a few hours.
  • Pâquerette Down the Bunburrows: A pair of overlapping bunnies produce a baby instantaneously, which is automatically collected. Leading a bunny into a bunny stack creates that stack's size amount of extra babies.
  • Here's a fun experiment: Take any two compatible Pokémon, and leave them at the Day Care. Once you have your egg, time how long it takes for the next one to appear. Repeat ad nauseum. If one of them has a different Trainer ID (was traded for), but they're both the same species, breeding will go insanely fast, and the Day Care owners will even comment that they seem to like each other a lot.
  • Quest for Glory: The antwerp is a literal Explosive Breeder.
  • Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando: The Protopets. They also reproduce asexually by spitting their offspring fully formed from their mouths. If you miss even one of a group of them, they will do just that the second you turn your back, often ending up with more than there were originally. It's no wonder that they were the focus of the villain's plot.
  • Early builds of Scribblenauts had bunnies that spawned infinitely if two bunnies are next to each other until it crashed the game. Today, they still do that, but only until the budget bar fills.
  • Space Monkeys in Space Quest V: The Next Mutation. They actually exploded a space station they were in.
  • The Palm OS game Space Trader has the Tribbles. Woe betide you if you're carrying food goods while they're on your ship. If you can find the tribble collector, though, you could sell them off for some serious credits.
  • Star Control:
    • Star Control has the Shofixti, a sentient rodent species. At the time of Star Control II, due to the war against the Ur-Quan, their species is down to one male and six females. Bring them together and the species repopulates within a few weeks, and gives you a cheap supply of crewmembers for your fleet.
    • The Spathi heavily exaggerate this, being a former prey species with few natural defenses. While it's not elaborated on, one prominent Spathi captain remarks that he grew up with over 18 thousand siblings. The day his mother called him by name was one of the happiest days of his life.
    • The third game has the bizarre symbiosis of the Harika and Yorn. The Yorn are sapient, tribble-like creatures with an explosive birthrate. The Harika are toothy reptilian aliens whose favorite food is live Yorn. The Yorn are perfectly happy with this arrangement, and actually seem to enjoy being eaten, as it keeps their population in check. When talking with them, you'll see a Harika chow down on several Yorn during the course of a single convesation.
  • The zerg from StarCraft. Their gameplay mechanics are based around in producing millions and millions of little creatures.
  • Some species in Stellaris can have the Rapid Breeder trait and/or the Migratory trait. If you set up a migration treaty with another empire predominantly populated by one of these species, you can find that new colonies may be overrun with species of migrating aliens to the point that the planet's population can easily overtake it's ability to sustain the population, and can cause shortfalls in production until the situation is resolved. Combined with the Repugnant Trait, it may even force your own species or those of the native populations off the planet. If not careful, they could overrun an entire empire. Some players deliberately make these, with the intent of creating a subversive population that wants you to cede the planet back to the empire they came from... or make you regret conquering them in the first place.
  • Swarm Simulator is possibly one of the biggest example in videogames. It's an Idle Game about a Horde of Alien Locusts that reproduce extremely quickly. Of note are the meat collecting units, the drones. These are succeeded by Queens, Nests, Greater Queens, Hives, Hive Queens, Hive Empresses, Neuroprophets, Hive Neurons, Neural Clusters, Hive Networks, Lesser Hive Minds, Hive Minds, Arch-Minds, Overminds, Ascendeds, Cosmic Networks, Galactic Clusters, Universal Cortexes, and Endless respectively. Each unit produces the unit below it, meaning that you'll have over 10^500 drones after just a few ascensions.
  • The Grid Bugs in the I/O Tower mission in Bally/Midway's TRON constantly breed as you try to fight your way through them to enter the Tower before the timer runs out.
  • Ultima V in addition to the slimes, has Gargoyles guarding Blackthorn's Castle's parapet, which are unstoppable. They will multiply until they fill up the entire screen, have a lot of Hit points, and deal a lot of damage.
  • The Unholy War: The Prana Devils. Their out of battle ability is to produce another prana unit. In battle, they lay eggs with hatch into baby pranas that chase the opponent.
  • Warframe: The Sentients can breed at a prodigious rate. Combined with the fact that they are also nigh-Physical Gods and virtually impossible to kill, they are almost invincible in their stronghold system of Tau. They easily defeated the Orokin Empire's forces sent to fight them (helped by the fact that they could easily corrupt and subvert any Orokin technology). However, they are extremely weak to the Void, the only method of FTL travel. Trying to travel through the Void usually destroys them, but they can survive for a time if they have sufficient protection—but even then, they are rendered sterile. This is the only reason they have not been able to take the Origin system yet, as the few Sentients in the system are forced to act in the shadows as manipulators instead of their traditional overwhelming Zerg Rush tactics. Except now some Sentients are arriving from Tau without going through the Void. It took them centuries to cross the distance in realspace, but they had the time and the patience.
  • X-COM's Chryssalids, literally. In the original game and the remake, a Chryssalid's melee attack converts the victim into a zombie that acts like a walking incubator for a new Chryssalid that will eventually "hatch" and start the cycle anew. XCOM 2 modifies Chryssalid venom by instead making it convert a victim into a tumor-like "cocoon" that can hatch three Chryssalids over the course of as many turns. This means that if Chryssalids are allowed to run free on a map with a lot of civilians on it, the situation can get out of hand very quickly.
  • Zapper: One Wicked Cricket! has Maggie the magpie, six of whose eggs you have to collect on each level including the final boss fight for a total of seventy-eight. She also shoots her eggs at you during the battle.

    Visual Novels 
  • Last Chance in Xollywood: One of the playable characters, Orchid Primo, seems to be an explosive breeder. He used to be a porn actor and wants to switch to film directing in order to feed his 23 kids and give them all a chance for a better future.

    Web Animation 
  • In If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, it's played as a Running Gag with the ancient Eldar — whenever a pair of them appears on screen, they multiply exponentially until entire screen is covered with them. The Emperor mentions that they were breeding so fast, they eventually ruined their reproductive cycle, explaining why in present day they are Endangered Species.

    Web Comics 
  • Demonseed Redux: Demon eggs are known to grow at alarming rate. While it's not shown, pregnant girls are noted to give birth to dozens at once and become "as large as a house" within days. Mama Baga uses a magic lotion on Dee to minimize the effects.
  • In Just a Goblin, goblins make up for constantly being hunted by breeding extremely quickly. Gubble can't remember which of her brothers died recently because she has three hundred of them to keep track of. Rektoros as a whole is heavily populated despite losing goblins every day to adventurers with dozens upon dozens of huts protected by wooden palisades.
  • Kevin & Kell: There have been jokes of this nature about the bunny species. Dorothy and Bentley, it should be noted, had thirty-six children (the larger than average Kevin was her only singleton pregnancy), and 247 grandchildren.
    Dorothy: 246 and a half. I don't count the wolf half of this one.note 
  • The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal: When TJ and Amal both agree they should have sex again soon TJ laughs in surprise and asks if Amal is the Energizer Bunny when he slides over and starts kissing him, then in reference to rabbits' reputation says that he's at least some kind of bunny since Amal wants to go ahead right then.
  • The Order of the Stick: According to Thor, goblinoids were just the latest iteration from Fenris' playbook. The God of Monsters always creates humanoid races like this, with the idea they could Zerg Rush the enemy. He eventually gets bored with them and focuses on the "cooler" monsters.
  • Clown V from Purara Heroes comic can spawn an infinite number of different unoriginal Clown V girls.
  • Sexy Losers has a character known only as the "Unbelievably Fertile Woman", who is constantly explaining to her horrified children the bizarre circumstances in which they were conceived. "And that's the story of how you were born!"

    Web Original 
  • Toki's species, erins (pronounced EE-rihns). Females can reproduce at will and the species has two ways of reproduction (for females anyway), so this might be bound to happen.
  • Fluffy Pony works generally agree that the gestation period of the titular creatures is a few weeks, for a litter of four to five that age to adulthood within a month. Many works also detail vast portions of the U.S. practically overrun by herds of them as a result.
  • The Fae in the erotica series Faeophobia. The Fae are a race of nymphomaniacs who enjoy having children, so they're pregnant all the time. Gestation lasts a few days and multiple births are common. It's mentioned that human adoption agencies are under a lot of stress trying to handle the massive amount of Fae children.
  • Hamster's Paradise: The Harmsters reproduce frequently with litters and these offspring are already born with open eyes and mature quickly. They evolved this trait to deal with a high death rate from both hunting large powerful prey as well as their own brutal society and this caused to be very callous in the treatment of their old and sick as they can be easily replaced.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-3199, a half-poultry Humanoid Abomination species created by a schizophrenic Evilutionary Biologist trying to create the Ultimate Life Form. They don't eat or sleep, doing nothing but continually laying eggs with their offspring reaching sexual maturity almost instantly. Plus, they essentially have Born-Again Immortality, as every one that's killed by the Foundation has a Nigh-Invulnerable egg ready to hatch inside like a hideous phoenix. As they're programmed to constantly lay eggs in open spaces, the only way the Foundation could slow them down is to keep them submerged in water laced with sedatives as they see it as "occupied" space. Just one running loose is enough to cause The End of the World as We Know It.
    • SCP-3288 complete their gestation in as little as two weeks and become sexually mature at two years of age; combined with a strong genetic resistence to the negative traits of inbreeding, enclaves of SCP-3288 often resort to infantile cannibalism just to keep their numbers under control.

    Web Videos 
  • 5 Second Films sketches featuring meeps begin with usually one of them and end with a whole place overran with them, with catastrophic results.

    Western Animation 
  • The Action League NOW! episode, "Chickie Chickie Bang Bang" has a rare species of Easter Chick that have been known to eat anything and multiply at an alarming rate after they've eaten.
  • In Adventure Time episode "Web Weirdos" a Spider give birth to thousands of spiders that drown Finn and Jake.
  • The Angry Beavers: The beavers decide to stay up all night because they're not tired. After a night of shenanigans and fun, they realize that they accidentally unplugged their clock and have been awake for thousands of years. In the Sequel Episode, they find themselves still not tired so they use various methods, including using a herd of sheep to sleep, to no avail. Eventually, they go to sleep for another thousands of years, then they find their house in the middle of a futuristic world over-populated entirely with sheep.
  • The usual rabbit thing is averted in the Animaniacs sketch with the Hip Hippos on Noah's Ark. Most likely because the rabbits in question were Buster and Babs Bunny (no relation), and playing the gag straight would've led to all sorts of trouble.
  • Whatever Chowder and Panini are, as they resemble rabbits (and are described as at least part rabbit). In the flash-forward finale, Panini has had fifty babies, twenty of which she had popped out the previous day.
  • DC Super Hero Girls: One episode has Zatanna asks Kara to petsit her rabbits, but not put them together. Kara does it anyway, causing a swarm of rabbits to flood the city. And then they turn out to be magical...
  • The Disney short Pigs Is Pigs has this with guinea pigs. We start with two and by the end of the short there's well over a million. When two go out of view temporarily, expect at least three kids to show up when they come back into sight. Which is, in fact, the usual size of a healthy cavy litter.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: a pair of rabbits reproduced so quickly that they filled a garage to bursting within a few hours. It did not help that Ed was allergic to rabbits. The entire cul-de-sac was overshadowed by a tsunami made entirely of rabbits.
    Johnny: Plank! I told you bunnies would take over the world! And they have! Lucky we prepared for this day, huh, Plank?
  • Futurama:
    • Started happening to penguins.
      "And the males have started laying eggs!"
    • Happened when Bender duplicates himself creating two smaller Benders and they duplicate themselves and so on. They multiply and become smaller until they are atom sized and infest the Earth.
  • The "Squishface" from Sealab 2021 when it has alcohol. Also shares characteristics with shmoos and Gremlins.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In one short, Happy Bunny (the prototypical version of Bugs Bunny) is shown to be the father of hundreds of kids.
    • In the Bugs Bunny cartoon, "Haredevil Hare", scientists are sending Bugs to the moon, and Bugs tries to plead with them saying he has a wife and kids... millions of kids.
    • Parodied in one cartoon about zoo animals with a narrator commenting that scientists are fascinated by a rabbit's ability to multiply. It then shows that they're good at math.
    • In New Looney Tunes, the episode "Hamsters" has Bugs watching Porky's 2 pet hamsters that miraculously multiplies throughout the episode.
  • The original concept for The Loud House was a rabbit named Warren who had twenty-five sisters. Eventually the concept was retooled to a human boy named Lincoln who has ten sisters instead, though the premise would be revisited in the episode "White Hare".
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The Parasprites from "Swarm of the Century". Like the famous tribbles, they also reproduce asexually and end up eating everything in Ponyville. Interestingly, and rather realistically, the whole infestation can be traced to Fluttershy finding one and deciding to take it home with her. This is exactly how such non-native species can get a chance to wreak havoc in Real Life.
  • The Naughty Naughty Pets took this to an utterly insane level, having rabbits literally pop out of thin air. The entire planet was coated with them after about two minutes.
  • An idea for an Oswald the Lucky Rabbit short had Oswald being overwhelmed by the never-ending influx of bunny children, even going as far to attack the stork. In Epic Mickey, Oswald The Lucky Rabbit has 420 kids. His mate? Ortensia, a cat.
  • The Partridge Family in 2200 A.D. has Rubi-roobian Rubits, which are mostly a Shout-Out to Tribbles.
  • The Rugrats episode "Spike Runs Away" has pair of gerbils exploding into a huge, seething gerbil-sea in the basement in the space of two weeks.
    Stu: Didi! Come quick! The gerbils have reproduced!
  • The Scotsman from Samurai Jack was revealed to have a literal army of daughters in Season 5.
  • The Simpsons: Bull Frogs were depicted as this when Bart, ignorant of the purpose of quarantine laws, brought one with him when the family went to Australia.
  • The Smurfs (1981) had fuzzles, fluffy pink balls which multiplied whenever they ate something. And of course, they ate anything, starting with a spoon and culminating with houses.
  • South Park:
    • The Jakovasaurs. The two that are the last of their kind breed and children keep popping out. When the town tries to get rid of them with a fixed game show, the prize is a trip to France for himself and 50 of his closest relatives.
    • Oddly inverted with St. Peter Rabbit, who apparently had just one descendent (Snowball) despite being of this trope's archetypal species.
  • Tex Avery MGM Cartoons:
    • The short "Magical Maestro" has rabbits conjured up in an opera singer's hands early in his performance. The second time rabbits appear in the singer's hands, he tries to hide them behind his back, but around a dozen offspring appear on his arms as he raises them less than two seconds afterward.
    • Another cartoon (based on the Fairy Tale The Elves & the Shoemaker) shows some elves towing a long rolling tray with two bunny slippers on the front of it. It goes behind a pillar, and when it comes out the other side, the tray is covered in tiny bunny slippers.
  • Tigtone: Whenever the evil Lord Festus needs an army he uses his Birthing Trolls. They are extremely large and give birth to thousands of fully grown, fully equipped troll soldiers in seconds.
  • One segment from Timon & Pumbaa featuring Zazu involved him counting all the animals in the jungle to see which one he missed on his record. When he got to rabbits, it started out as two, but they kept multiplying and forcing him to readjust his count until he couldn't keep up.
  • The The Tom and Jerry Show (2014) episode "Hamster Hoopla" has Jerry pretend to be a girl hamster, but 3 hamsters soon turns into a house full of them as they multiply throughout.
  • The Transformers G1 episode "Kremzeek" was about a little energy creature who did this.
  • The Martian species in Young Justice tends to breed large families; Miss Martian is one of twenty-nine siblings, while her uncle the Martian Manhunter is mentioned as having around three hundred nieces and nephews in total. Mars' central city, Ma'aleca'andra, is constantly expanding due to this.

    Real Life 
  • In population biology, "K-selected"note  species are limited by competition for resources in their environment, which is why they invest heavily in a few offspring to insure their survival. "r-selected"note  species are in environments which allow rapid population expansion (e.g., flowers in spring time). They have as many offspring as possible but invest little to ensure individual children's survival. The "Explosive Breeder" is r-selected.
  • Semelparous animals usually breed only one time in their lives and then die, producing humongous amounts of offspring. Salmon may be the Ur-Example of semelparous Explosive Breeders. They make salmon runs in humongous schools to the river where they themselves were born, and lay their roe and milt there. Once the larvae hatch, they spend some time at the river and head to the ocean. Pacific salmon (genus Onchorynchus) die after they have bred, but Atlantic salmon (genus Salmo) will return back to the ocean. They may make 3 to 4 salmon runs during their lives note . Also most cephalopods (octopus and squid) fall in this category: the mother dies when her offspring have hatched.
  • The lowly cabbage aphid is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as "Most Fertile Animal". It is estimated that if all the descendants of a single female survived to breed, within a year they would produce a mass of offspring weighing many times that of the entire current world population! Made worse that it happens to be a plant pest that can kill off most vegetation by sucking them dry with their sheer numbers...thank heaven for ladybugs!
    • The aphids are asexual breeders for part of the year, not needing a male to reproduce during that period. They also give birth to live young, only laying eggs in late fall to stay dormant all winter. And to top things up, baby aphids are born pregnant-the granddaughter embryos start to develop within the daughter even before she is born, and at birth can start breeding and herself give birth in as little as 5-6 days!
  • Homo sapiens (humans) actually downplay this trope; our population skyrocketed in recent centuries because we so thoroughly conquered all competition and our environment. It's difficult to call humans explosive breeders when it takes nine months to produce a single, initially-helpless (for YEARS) offspring from two viable members of both sexes.
    • In fact, humans exemplify the opposite species survival strategy of most explosive breeders. Humans produce few offspring, but are quite long lived and are not easily killed off or preyed upon.
    • How fast is the human population growing? Around 1960, the number of people on Earth was just 3 billion, less than half of the (as of 2021) nearly 8 billion of later decades. Since fertility rates in developed countries tend to be drastically lower than undeveloped or developing ones, most projections have the population leveling off at around 10-11 billion by 2050, and declining thereafter, although not significantly.
    • In pre-industrial and early industrial societies, the average birth rate was rather high, to the point that families with six or more kids were seen as unremarkable. Part of the motivation back then was that children had a higher chance of dying from disease or famine, so you should do all you can to ensure that you'll pass on a familial legacy. Changing attitudes and wider access to contraceptives resulted in birth rates dropping — but the fact that the death rate also dropped at the same time (due to better sanitation and wider access to food and medicine) meant that the human population still increased exponentially.
  • The infamous Australian rabbit incident. In 1860, a dozen rabbits were released there, for "adding hunting as a spot of home." It backfired. In only ten years, they had multiplied to over 600 million rabbits, which eradicated native marsupials, caused erosion by overgrazing, and preyed on small livestock such as poultry.
  • Truth in Television for many, many animals. These animals tend to be lower on the food chain, so most of their offspring get eaten. That's why the planet hasn't been overrun yet. Moving one of these species to a new habitat that lacks their natural enemies, though, is a bad idea. Case in point: rabbits, sheep, and mice in Australia.
    • Rabbits are very well-known for their high breeding rate, to the point where they're often used as an Animal Motif for high libido (such as with the iconography for Playboy, the accompanying Playboy Bunny trope that the magazine spawned, and the phrase "fucking like rabbits").
    • Some microorganisms have a gestation period measured in minutes. Which is why they mutate so fast. What takes the average macroorganism (maturity at four years) to evolve — say, seventy generations for it to be well entrenched and spread through the population — takes the average bacterium one day.
      • To give you an idea of just how fast bacteria populations can grow if unrestricted, if it takes ten minutes for one bacterium to become two, then in an hour you will have sixty-four. In five hours you will have one billion. In twenty-four hours you will have 2.2 × 10⁴³ note  —about one hundred times the mass of the entire Earth! In forty-eight hours they will have exceeded the mass of the visible universe. Most micro-organisms reach stationary phase due to space or food shortages, or environmental pressure, long before this happens.
    • Explosive breeding in certain animals is actually quite beneficial for science. It is much easier to observe genetic effects in organisms that gestate within hours than those that do so within days. The model organisms for scientific research are usually those with a short (relative to their family) breeding cycle.
    • Many invertebrates facilitate this trope by breeding parthenogenetically, eliminating the delay imposed when a mate must be located. Aphids and rotifers are probably the best-known examples of this.
    • Rats tend to go everywhere humans do. When the rats arrived on ships in Pacific and Caribbean islands and started taking over, humans tried to solve the problem by importing mongooses as predators — thus creating a new problem when the mongooses devastated native fauna.
    • Seahorses can give birth to up to 2,000 babies at a time.
    • For a queen ant, bee or termite, laying several hundred eggs per day (or several thousand, for some species) for the rest of her life (which typically measures in several years, sometimes up to a decade or more) is par for the course. Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of those eggs produce worker and soldier ants/bees/termites, which have a relatively high mortality rate (exceptions being workers that are colony-bound, e.g. "nursemaids" that tend to eggs and larvae 24/7), a short lifespan (a mere few months on average) and are sterile (in most cases), so it all balances out.
      • Champion breeder among all ants is the queen of the Dorylus driver ant, which live in colonies of over 20 million individuals. The queen produces as many as a million eggs every month, and can live for as long as 16 years in some cases!
  • Viruses, the most abundant biological entity on the planet, replicate by forcing their host cells to create new viruses, which (for non-enveloped viruses that won't just bud out of the cell membrane) tends to end with the host cell literally exploding.
  • Ignorant human fishermen inadvertently invoke this trope when they cut starfish in half, thinking they're eliminating the competition for mussels and oysters. Too bad the pieces of a bisected starfish can regenerate (provided enough of the center disc is intact), creating two hungry echinoderms...
  • Internal parasites must invoke this trope in spades, as only a tiny fraction of their eggs or larvae will be lucky enough to make it into a new host organism. Tapeworms, the uber-example, are basically a continuous strand of gonads with an anchor at one end.
  • Adactylidium mites are born with a half dozen embryos already inside of them. Each one has one male embryo, and a handful of females. The females all take turns being impregnated by their brother. When they're ready to be born, they eat their way out of their mother, and leave their brother to die.
  • Their extremely short reproduction cycle of 1-2 weeks from egg to adult is one of several reasons why Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies) are very useful as model organisms, e.g. for genetic experiments.
  • Truth in Television for many fish, but special mention goes to the Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola), which can lay up to 300 million eggs in one spawn!
  • Chickens, which lay eggs every single day. Fortunately most farmers keep the roosters separate so they don't fertilize the majority of the eggs, and of course the eggs are mostly eaten. And they're completely helpless in the wild and the wild Red Junglefowl they were bred from are just seasonal breeders.
    • Domesticated animals in general tend to be like this, as humans have deliberately perpetuated bloodlines that breed fast, early, and often. Domestic dogs will reproduce as young as 6 months and go into heat twice a year, while the wolves they're derived from don't normally start breeding until age 2 and only have an annual reproductive cycle. The same thing happened in the Russian fox domestication experiments.
  • Bacteria and many other unicellular organisms. Since they don't need sex to reproduce (although some may hook up and exchange genetic material in addition), they can go through several generations in a matter of minutes! This has implications when it comes to antibiotic resistance: it doesn't take long for bacteria to evolve it. They are also used to model the effects of something on several generations because of this rapid reproduction. It also helps in the making of yogurt, cheese, bread, wine, kosher dill pickles, sauerkraut, and beer.
  • Creatures that use the strategy of predator satiation invariably breed like this. They don't necessarily breed often, but when the time is right, they will expand their populations to such high numbers that, though they have little to no defense on their own, every local predator can feast on as many of them as they want, and once the predators are all full and grow sick of eating them, there will still be enough of these creatures left to create the next generation. Cicadas use this strategy, as do two fish commonly eaten by humans, Alaskan pollock and tilapia.
  • Cancer cells are essentially involuntarily explosive breeders - while healthy cells stop multiplying when there's no need for more daughter cells, cancer cells don't.
  • Pigs reproduce this way, which is highly unusual for a large mammal. This is one of the reasons they're such a popular animal in agriculture, and also why they're such a destructive invasive species. Under optimal conditions, a sow can have up to three litters per year, which can contain anywhere from six to eighteen piglets per litter. They can also become reproductive as young as three months of age, though six to twelve months is more common. This gives a theoretical 54 offspring per year, while most other hooved mammals of similar size have no more than two offspring per year.
    • This breeding rate, combined with a pig's ability to subsist on anything from grass to grubs to acorns to venomous snakes, has made them nearly impossible to get rid of once they've established themselves in an area- one ecological study on feral pigs by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife determined that in order to keep feral pig populations level, ninty percent of the pigs in an area would need to be killed every year.
    • This breeding rate is also why societies with good pig-raising land (e.g. China and Europe) tended to have more meat in their diets in premodern times than ones that didn’t (like much of the Middle East and North Africa). Between pigs' Extreme Omnivore tendencies, their explosive growth, and lack of non-meat uses (outside of a minor utility for bristles), they are the cheapest source of meat known to humanity. However, these all depend on an ample supply of excess food, as pigs eat a lot and anything of nutritional value that a pig can eat, a person can too (though they might not particularly care for it). Regions having agricultural economics with a low tolerance for waste and no availability of non-agricultural forest land to feed pigs their high-intensity diet must rely on less fecund birds and ruminants for meat, with the result that meat is more expensive and rarer in the diet. It's been speculated that competition between pigs and humans for resources in the arid Middle East is responsible for the taboos against eating pork in Judaism and Islam.
  • Somehow, humans have managed to drive the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) to the brink of extinction despite the fact that a single breeding pair can produce twenty puppies in a litter, enough to form a entire new pack, every year. Yay us?
  • According to fossil evidence, many large dinosaurs would have been this compared to the mammalian megafauna they outsized. Unlike large mammals which tend to give birth to large offspring with longer gestations the bigger they get, dinosaurs typically laid a dozen or more eggs that hatched into diminutive young. A good example would be the hadrosaurs, many species were larger than elephants yet would regularly lay clutches of 20 or more at a time. Said young would mature quickly once they hatch, reaching half their adult size by their first birthday. This, combined with generalist diet, is what allowed them to become so successful by the end of the Cretaceous.


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Alternative Title(s): Explosive Breeders


50 Brand New Cousins

In "Pigs Is Pigs," while everyone argues and calculates over whether guinea pigs are "pigs" are "pets," they don't realize that they are multiplying like mad, that there are "50 brand new cousins" at every strike of the clock. Wheek wheek wheek!

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