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Feral Villain

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"Even more so than the other Decepticon combiners, Abominus is a being of mindless fury. He's not truly a warrior — he's an animal, the destructive rages of the Terrorcons that compose him personified. His commanders can't give him orders simplistic enough for him to understand, so they just point him in the direction of objects that need to be smashed, and turn him loose. The only thing that distinguishes him from a wild beast is the enjoyment he derives from his terrible rampages."

Most villains have sapience. They may be deluded, deranged, sociopathic, unconventional, or even just plain stupid, but aside from (normal) animals and other things one wouldn't expect to be regarded as people, one can generally expect a villain to be sapient regardless of how evil or abnormal they may be.

And then there are villains like these.

Some villains, despite everything saying they should be sapient beings, come off as wild beasts, often particularly aggressive ones. They're animalistic, sometimes to the point of being treated or regarded as animals by other characters. If they have any dialogue beyond snarling and slavering, it'll generally be either virtually incomprehensible or simplistic and broken. Their goals, if they have any, will generally take the form of sating some base desire and/or committing violence for its own sake. Some might get a moment or two of It Can Think, but even they generally don't come off as more sapient than, say, an Angry Guard Dog. Villains of this variety may act independently or be part of a group; either way, they generally won't be noted for planning ahead. While some villains may enter a state like this after a particularly severe Villainous Breakdown or being Driven to Madness, for most of these villains, it seems to be their natural mindset. Some works may explore or at least explain why they're like this, but for the most part, it's left up to the imagination.

Villains such as these may be treated as a lesser evil by the narrative, for the same reasons a monster with a bestial mindset attacking a human settlement is regarded with less revulsion than a sapient monster that knows full well what it's doing. On the other hand, they may be treated with particular horror, as they can't be reasoned with, even if only just to stall for time.

Compare Generic Doomsday Villain, which is a bad guy lacking in personality, motivation and goals. Compare and contrast The Brute, a villain who's more often than not crude and a lover of violence, but is generally at least "intelligent" enough to be tricked. Also compare The Berserker, who throws themselves into a fight with reckless abandon, though a berserker is not necessarily evil or feral, while a villain can be feral without being a berserker. If the villain is both feral and unfathomably powerful, or generally unfathomable, this frequently makes them an Almighty Idiot, and in some cases, a Beast of the Apocalypse. May be the "Raging Monster" in an Arrogant God vs. Raging Monster scenario. Contrast Affably Evil, where the villain is surprisingly human instead of surprisingly inhuman. Feral Vampires often fall under this trope.

Important Note: For examples to count, the villains in question must at least be presented as potentially sapient in the context of their settings (especially if intelligent non-human species are common) but come off as more animalistic than they let on. They aren't as much close to real animals as they are to rabid animals, and even then, only in demeanour as there is still some human emotion driving them. Literal wild animals (or similar analogues thereof) who are not sapient in the slightest and act on basic survival instincts like hunting do not count, see Animal Nemesis for those.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Dragon Ball: While Fat Buu is childish and Super Buu is brutish, both are not only clearly sapient but more intelligent than they seem at first glance. The same can't be said for Kid Buu, who never speaks, lacks anything even resembling restraint, and has absolutely no objectives beyond killing as many people as possible in as little time as possible. Unlike the others, who could be reasoned with or exploited, Kid Buu simply blows up whatever planet he happens to be on and then goes off to find another and do it again. The heroes have to deliberately draw him to the Planet of the Kais just because it's the only planet they know of that he can't one-shot. While he does have a few moments of animalistic cunning, for the most part, he's little more than a mindless force of destruction.
  • My Hero Academia: Soramitsu Tabe of the Garbage Trio acts less like a human and more like a rabid dog, constantly lunging at and attempting to bite his opponents. Possibly justified by his Quirk, "Food", which allows him to eat almost anything, but also leaves him with an absurdly hyperactive metabolism that makes him constantly famished.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V: The Battle Beast (BB for short) is a near-feral but powerful and skilled Fusion Dimension soldier who was driven crazy by the abusive teachings of his mentor, Saunders. So much that Academia was unable to keep him under their control and attacks both ally and enemy alike. Turns out he actually doesn't like hurting people and only does so out of self-preservation, even showing regret over how much he mistreated his peers after losing to Yuya in their duel.

    Comic Books 
  • New Warriors: Smiling Tiger is a mute Beast Man whose animalistic nature drives his blood lust. He is introduced stalking and killing drug dealers like a predator stalking its prey.
  • Sabretooth: As a creation of Chris Claremont, Sabretooth can’t help but be verbose, which is usually incompatible with this trope. Yet since a major aspect of his mutation is heightened animal senses and instincts, those times when he’s brain-damaged or when Mr. Sinister is cranking out blank slate Marauder clones the reader gets to see the inherent savagery at his core.
  • Doomsday has evolved into one of these with time. Thanks to the treatments that made him the Ultimate Life Form also requiring him to be killed by just about every creature and danger in a Death World, he now sees everything as a threat to be immediately destroyed, and thus he's in a permanent state of lashing out in fearful anger.

    Film — Animated 
  • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker: The Jokerz member Woof is a human whose DNA is spliced with that of a hyena, making him act more like a near-unintelligible bloodthirsty animal.
  • A Bug's Life: The grasshoppers, like virtually all the other arthropods in the movie, are intelligent enough to be essentially people. However, one exception exists in the form of Thumper, who's Ax-Crazy to the point of being completely animalistic. The other grasshoppers even treat him like their Team Pet.
  • How to Train Your Dragon (2010) inverts this with dragons in general. They are believed in-universe to be nothing more than wild animals and indeed look the part. Even Berk's dragon manual presents them this way. But as the movie goes on, it's revealed that dragons are, in fact, highly intelligent, capable of a level of thought and creativity just shy of, if not on par with humans (though they are still explicitly animals). Then we're introduced to the Red Death, who, in this context, plays this straight, lacking any unambiguous indication of the aforementioned higher thought shown by other dragons and, overall, coming across less as a dragon and more as a Godzilla-esque monster.
  • The Land Before Time: Subverted with the Sharpteeth. Not only do sequels establish that they're not necessarily evil, they also make it clear that they're just as sapient as other dinosaurs despite their behavior; they just speak a different language from herbivores and generally aren't interested in communicating with them.
  • Suzume: The Great Wyrm is a Draconic Abomination which shows no sign of sapience. It only ever attempts to escape through doors to reach the living worlds so it can trigger disasters, seemingly unaware of the humans and gods fighting it.

    Film — Live-Action 

  • The Devil is portrayed in The Divine Comedy as a horrid monster reduced to doing nothing but screaming, biting, and gnashing.
  • The Eddie Dickens Trilogy: The second book introduces Bark, a short but strong man who acts like a dog and is treated as such by his partners in crime. Subverted, as he eventually reveals it was an act.
  • The Elenium: One of the villain's top henchmen, Adus, is a foul-smelling, inarticulate, illiterate brute who's often compared to an ape. The villain keeps him around because he's still a very effective fighter.
  • Mattimeo: The Wearet is a primitive mustelid throwback who acts as Malkariss' champion. It's incredibly brutish, never speaks, shown to be far wilder than most other vermin, and its fighting style is distinctly lacking in finesse.
  • Worm: A twist in the web serial comes from the fact The Siberian, the invincible monster woman who runs around letting the stripes she's named for be fully appreciated in between horrific instances of recreational cannibalism which is the only time she makes noises of anything close to speech actually exploits this trope.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Turok-Han are a race of ancient vampires described "as Neanderthals are to human beings, the Turok-Han are to vampires." They're feral, vicious, and bloodthirsty and live to kill, yet also seem to be able to follow orders and create weapons, indicating sapience of sorts behind the Ax-Crazy.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • There's a strain of thought in Christian hamartiology (the study of sin) that can be summed up as "Evil Makes You Feral". To commit sin is to go against God-given reason and to live based on basic urges like wild beasts, living by the flesh rather than the spirit. Sin is seen as a dehumanizing force that reduces our capabilities not only to function in a civilized way but also to commune with our creator.
    But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption (2 Peter 2:12, on the topic of false teachers)

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: The Society developed a drug that invokes this trope. Called Feralizer, it strips out part of the intellect of anyone who's given it while making them more violent and aggressive (though still in control enough that they can at least follow basic orders like "wait" and "attack" but not much beyond that.
  • Pathfinder:
    • The God of Evil Rovagug, the Rough Beast, is noted to be a completely feral, world-eating apocalypse. It seeks nothing but to consume reality and even evil outsiders and gods will team up with the forces of good to help contain it. It's uncertain if worshippers of Rovagug are even having their prayers answered by it, but they're able to draw on divine power through their prayers... somehow.
    • Rovagug's spawn, which includes Pathfinder's incarnation of the Tarrasque, are similarly near-mindless, feral apocalypse monsters. Each of them a unique, campaign-capstone villain that does nothing but destroy everything in sight.
  • Warhammer:
    • While Daemons of Khorne are violent, blood-crazed berserkers, they typically retain enough clarity of mind for things like forward planning and battle strategy. The exception to this is Skarbrand, a mighty Bloodthirster who once attempted to strike Khorne himself due to the manipulations of Tzeentch. The Blood God repaid this act by seizing Skarbrand and burning all thoughts and emotions from his mind except pure rage and then threw him out of his realm. In the modern day, nothing is left of the former champion but endless, mindless fury, devoid of any kind of thought, reflection or personality, and the Exiled One rages endlessly across the world as he vents himself on whatever he happens to encounter.
    • Warhammer Fantasy:
      • Chaos Spawn and Forsaken are former Chaos warriors who received one gift/curse/mutation too many for their mind to bear (running from Body Horror to Mind Rape to Lovecraftian Superpower), and they become twitching masses of random appendages that are used as expendable berserkers by their former tribesmen. Of particular note is unique character Scyla Anfingrimm, a fallen champion so deadly and psychotic that he still retains the favour of Khorne despite succumbing to spawn-dom.
      • The Strigoi vampire bloodline embraces their inner beast instead of playing at still being human, and are monstrous melee combatants with a Looks Like Orlok theme (due to feeding on the dead since they have more difficulty feeding on the living).

  • BIONICLE: The Sand Tribe of Spherus Magna was once just one of the planet's many tribes, but after the Shattering that split Spherus Magna into the planet Bara Magna and its moons Aqua Magna and Bota Magna, the Sand Tribe's survivors on Bara Magna somehow ended up devolving mentally over generations into bestial monsters called Vorox and Zesk, who use tools and hunt in packs but otherwise show no sign of their former sapience, despite being physically unchanged. In contrast, those of the Sand Tribe who ended up on the lush moon of Bota Magna retained their minds in full, and they're pissed at how the tribes of Bara Magna treat their feral cousins.
  • Transformers:
    • Nearly all combiners have mental deficiencies, a side effect of combining the minds of disparate individuals into a new gestalt being. The otherwise brilliant Constructicons, for example, form the much more dull-witted Devastator. However, at least Devastator retains enough intelligence to follow orders: the Stunticon combiner Menasor is described as nigh-uncontrollable and is generally simply unleashed onto the battlefield. The Stunticons are a Dysfunction Junction that all have their mental hang-ups, note  and mutually loathe each other. The result of trying to combine all of their personality defects into a single being isn't a soldier or even a weapon, but a rampaging, mentally fractured monster just as dangerous to the Decepticons as he is to their enemies.
    • Similarly, the Terrorcon combiner Abominus is described as an animal rather than a warrior. The Terrorcons all transform into vicious monsters; Abominus is basically their savagery personified and amplified. Like Menasor, he can't actually be commanded: instead, he's just pointed in the general direction of whatever needs to be destroyed and left to indulge his brutal urges.
    • The Seacon combiner Piranacon is an unusual example. The Seacons work well as a team and all share a love of the hunt, resulting in Piranacon being a reasonably intelligent combiner. Unfortunately, his love of the hunt so overwhelms him that he's almost as difficult to command as Menasor or Abominus. He's prone to designate a single target and obsessively hunt down it down and destroy it before identifying and pursuing new prey. Team leader Snaptrap has to set a timer to forcibly disengage the Seacons' combination automatically. If he doesn't, Piranacon will keep hunting new prey until he runs out of energy and grinds to a halt. His Japanese counterpart King Poseidon doesn't have the same issue due to the Seacons in that series being mindless drones, with only team leader Turtler being sapient.
    • Decepticon Pretender Skullgrin is described as being an intelligent and competent warrior. Unfortunately, due to a glitch in the systems of his Pretender shell when he enters said shell his mind degenerates into that of a frothing, berserk beast. Skullgrin is aware of this and repeatedly asks for the shell to be repaired,note  but because his superiors find his rampages useful they ignore these requests.

    Video Games 
  • ARMS: Hedlok, the Big Bad, is a robotic mask that attaches to and controls fighters. He is apparently sapient but has no clear motivation other than "beat my enemy to a bloody pulp", and only speaks in roars, growls, and Evil Laughs.
  • As the name suggests, Feral Chaos, the Superboss of Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, is one of these. He's an Alternate Universe version of Chaos that was never defeated by the heroes, causing him to eventually grow so powerful that his mind was destroyed and he became no more than a feral beast.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Inverted with the Nobody class of enemies. As beings without hearts, they're cold and logical to the point of being completely devoid of emotion. However, the end result is the same: they fight as if they're completely devoid of humanity, because they are.
  • The King of Fighters: Iori Yagami and Leona Heidern are not the friendliest people around, but they're far from evil or feral. The same cannot be said for their Orochi versions, which are the end result of them succumbing to their cursed blood. In this state, they become wild engines of destruction, with dialogue that consists of little more than manic screaming. When encountered as sub bosses, the stage background takes on a Red Filter of Doom to emphasize the mad bloodlust they suffer from.
  • Kirby:
  • The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night: The Skavengers are a crew of Sky Pirates who are by all appearances just as intelligent as all the other villains that Spyro encounters. However, when Spyro encounters their captain, Skabb, the latter turns out to be a simple-minded colossus who cannot even speak — all the thinking in the outfit is done by the intelligent talking parrots that ride around on his shoulders. However, the hulking brute is still a very powerful fighter when directed and serves as the group's muscle during battles.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006): Iblis has no motive beyond wanting to destroy everything in existence, and acts more like a mindless force of nature more than an actual villain. This is due to him having been formed from Solaris' raw power when the sun god was split in two, while Solaris' intellect went to Mephiles.
  • Soul Series: For a definition of evil, at least. Lizardman is a shrieking reptile warrior that fights like the wild animal it is. His story-blurbs however reveal that they were once a human Spartan named Aeon Calcos and are very aware of that. The character's motivation between games generally revolves around finding/reclaiming his human soul. But, being a heavily-armed reptile monster that can only shout and screech, two guesses on how well he gets that across. Sadly by the time of SCV, whatever consciousness there may have been is now subsumed by the beast within — a Cannibalism Superpower being the only way it can achieve some sort of thought process.
  • Street Fighter V introduces Necalli, a villainous fighter with an Aztec theming. His animations are animalistic, such as crawling along the ground and roaring at the sky like a wild beast. While most fighters use refined martial arts techniques, Necalli's fighting style consists of brutal clawing, stomping and slamming attacks. He even speaks with a strange stutter, emphasizing that he's more beast than man. His motives are unclear, but he's said to be a force of malice that craves defeating strong warriors and feasting upon their souls.
  • Them's Fightin' Herds: The Predators come off as more animalistic and beastly compared to the herbivore Civilized Animals that mostly make up the game's world. They still have some degree of intelligence though as some are shown speaking.
  • Touhou Genso Wanderer: The Copies are Evil Knockoff clones of Touhou Project characters created by the Golden Orb after it possesses Rinnosuke. They're described as being like the Touhou characters they're based on, which includes their abilities, but lack basic sapience, cannot communicate, and will attack anything on sight. Even long after Buyking Rinnosuke has been dealt with and the Golden Orb destroyed, the Copies still remain as an Outside-Context Problem in post-game incidents that have nothing to do with them.

    Visual Novels 
  • Dies Irae: Wolfgang Schreiber, one of Reinhard's Battalion of Three, is already one of the least mentally stable members of the cast and is prone of violent and feral outbursts if agitated. In Rea's route however, the priest Trifa who now has regained his former body manages to shatter his mind, reducing Schreiber to a feral beast unable of any kind of coherent thought, reasoning or even speech. All that's left is a creature of pure, unbridled bloodlust.

    Western Animation