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Food Chain of Evil

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♫ "It's the Circle of strife..." ♪

"At the end there, when I was trying to cut a deal, the ambassador was scared... That's why he wouldn't come to our aid. That's why we're on our own. Because the demons are afraid of what we're hunting."
Mayor Bentham Rudgutter, Perdido Street Station

Humans are the dominant species. We're at the top of the food chain. That's part of what makes a lot of monsters scary and badass; they dethrone us from our position of power.

But when you think about it, eating people is kind of old-hat. After a while, you begin to lose track of all the different types of monsters that eat humans. It just becomes a fact of life, so by the time you run into that guy who wants to devour your flesh to add to his own power, you just sort of yawn because it's exactly the same as everything you've seen anywhere ever. So how do you make something distinctive, then? Well, if monsters that eat humans are no longer a threat... what about monsters that eat other monsters? To establish a Food Chain Of Evil, all you have to do is make the last threat the preferred prey of the next one.

This will often result in situations of Horrifying the Horror for the first monster, where it's deathly frightened of the thing now trying to eat him.

Anything which eats monsters that eat humans counts. Basically, this is power tiers established via fictional food chain.

This can also be used in worldbuilding to establish ecological relationships between fictional creatures, in order to make the setting feel more interconnected and dynamic instead of just a collection of fantasy monsters with no relationship with one another. No real species exists in isolation from its neighbors, and only very few creatures don't have at least occasional predators, so showing predator-prey relationships between different monsters can help make a fictional world seem more structured and organic.

Contrast Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors and Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors, where the food chain is circular. When this sort of food chain exists within a species, that's Monstrous Cannibalism.

See also:

  • Always a Bigger Fish: The heroes are saved when the monster gets eaten by a bigger monster.
  • Eating the Enemy: Rather than merely being hungry, the different monsters devour each other pragmatically for various reasons like moving up the pecking order or taking another monster's power.
  • Mage-Hunting Monster: A monster preys on magic-users. Both tropes describe magical predators of beings who are themselves more powerful than ordinary humans.
  • Monster Lord: Also related, but a Monster leader that eats its own kind is distinct from this trope in that it's only one monster, not an entire species that preys on the other one (although it can still count if the Monster Lord is an entire multi-member monster caste unto itself).
  • Monstrous Cannibalism: When monsters of the same species eat each-other, rather than a separate species devoted to eating them, although there's a lot of overlap.
  • Sapient Eat Sapient: The monsters and the monsters devouring other monsters are all sapient. They are capable of human-like thought and emotion and and often can hold a conversation too. And yet the first thing on their minds is making meals of other monsters while not becoming meals themselves. Theses instances can be particularly nightmare-inducing because these beasts are not only devouring each other but also have the capacity for cruelty to revel in it. These beasts are especially likely to see this vile food chain as a measure of which monsters reign supreme.

Not to be confused with carnivores are evil or Villain Pedigree, although there's probably some overlap with the latter.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bleach: The Menos Grande are created when the hunger of a group of Hollows becomes so great that they start feeding on each other, resulting in them merging into a near-mindless skyscraper-sized beast. If one of the constituent personalities can gain control of the others, then continuing to consume other Hollows eventually pushes them across the Bishōnen Line to become the human-like and insanely powerful Vasto Lordes.
  • Devilman features this often, mostly in the first OVA, as the demons will eat each other out of cannibalism.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Cell needs to hunt down and absorb Dr Gero's other creations to reach his final form.
    • Majin Buu and Moro may also count, as they're omnivorous; Majin Buu in particular demonstrated his power by defeating Dabura, the most powerful Demon in existence, with no effort whatsoever, but then turning him into a candy and eating him.
  • A recurring theme in early chapters of Delicious in Dungeon is that dungeon monsters have an ecosystem too. Weak monsters get eaten by strong monsters, which get eaten by stronger monsters. Monsters get stronger the further down you go, but powerful floor bosses Beef Gate them from overrunning the upper levels. It's a fine, self-sustaining system... until Dungeon Crawling adventurers get in, looking for treasure and killing as they go. Then, with their natural checks dead, those strong monsters start proliferating upwards, and when they reach the surface... well, it's bad news for anyone living nearby.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist has this when Pride eats Gluttony's philosopher's stone.
  • Getter Robo with New Getter Robo when the giant onis eat smaller members of their kind to gain their intelligence.
  • Godannar with the fusion type mimetic beasts trying to "eat" their brethren, although somewhat subverted as it actually makes them more powerful.
  • Hellsing: Alucard, while technically a vampire in name, is more of an Eldritch Abomination in vampire's clothing, and his favorite food seems to be the vampires created by the Big Bad.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: In part one, the Stone Mask turns people into vampires (which is what happened to Dio Brando), who eat people in order to get stronger. In part 2 we're introduced to the creators of the Stone Mask, the Pillar Men. The purpose of the mask? Pillar Men eat vampires.
  • One Piece:
    • Sea Kings are a collective term describing certain types of gargantuan Sea Monsters which infest regions of the oceans. They're the main reason why it's normally impossible to enter the Grand Line through the Calm Belts, since they'll destroy any ship that enters the region. However, some beasts are encountered which can hunt Sea Kings, such as the Banana Gators that Crocodile keeps as his pets, the poisonous Yuda Sea Serpents that the Kuja People use to draw their ships through the Calm Belt, and the Blue Gorillas that Impel Down uses as prison guards.
    • The second level of Impel Down is populated by a variety of powerful, man-eating monsters. However, on the fifth level, there are wolves so vicious and bloodthirsty that they had to be relocated from the second level after they started hunting and eating the other monsters.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • Seen when Unit 01 goes berserk and eats Zeruel.
    • Similarly, in Rebuild of Evangelion, Zeruel does this to Unit 00.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Invoked. The series's Monsters of the Week, witches, devour humans and use them to reproduce. The core of a dead witch, a Grief Seed, is the only way for a Puella Magi to replenish their strength, and so they hunt (or, in some cases, even cultivate) witches. One particularly cold girl, Kyouko, even calls it a food chain, with them at the top. As it turns out, Puella Magi are merely the larval forms of witches, and the discarded Grief Seeds are ultimately fuel for their creators. Some fans have even produced population dynamic models.
  • Rebuild World: Monsters based on Organic Technology combined with Nanomachines left behind by the Neglectful Precursors called the Old World, originally designed to serve as security for facilities, evolve and change their capabilities based on what monsters they eat, and spend more time eating each other than humans off-screen, resulting in dramatically different subspecies. Being good enough at this results in the monster becoming a Kaiju that requires a massive effort to take down (or just a high-level hunter).
  • Tokyo Ghoul has one in the form of the rare Kakuja mutation, the result of Ghouls that engage in Monstrous Cannibalism one time too many. Incomplete Kakuja such as Kaneki Ken are near-mindless monsters, while the fully-evolved ones such as the One-Eyed Owl and Yoshimura are the strongest and most terrifying Ghouls on record. The legends about the Kakuja are one reason that cannibalism occurs among Ghouls, with those actively seeking to increase their power risking the resulting mental breakdown that goes along with it. Ghouls might eat humans (and occasionally weaker Ghouls), but the Kakuja eat whatever the hell they want and are almost without exception super-predators of incredible power.
    • The immensely powerful kakuja that Kaneki becomes after eating all of Kano's mass-produced Washuu spawns mindless creatures called Dragon Orphans. These survive Kaneki's return to sanity and consume humans and ghouls alike, forcing the two races to work together just to survive.
  • Trinity Blood: The Crusniks, who eat vampires. Though three of the four Crusniks to ever exist have been friendly to humanity (to an extent), including the hero Abel Nightroad.
  • In Violinist of Hameln, Mazoku feed on humans. They can also raise their power by drinking magical blood, which can be from human mages... or other Mazoku. Demon King Chestra is known to eat lesser Mazoku and even planned to eat his own children.

  • Carta Marina: Several Sea Monsters are shown preying on each other — the Ziphius and a prister are both attacked by smaller monsters, while a giant lobster is shown being attacked by another creature with a rhino-like horn.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • One card mentions an ogre philosopher who believed that one's purpose in life is to climb as high on the food chain as possible; she therefore made a point of feeding only on creatures that prey on intelligent beings, and outright refused to eat vegetarians.
    • Raging Swordtooth's flavor text notes that on Ixalan, some predatory dinosaurs developed a marked taste for undead flesh and have taken to hunting vampires by following the scent of blood on their breath.

    Comic Books 
  • Angel: One of the non-canon comic books has Angel deal with the returning threat of a giant tentacle monster that feeds on vampires by sucking out the demon inside of them. Angel wouldn't have a problem with this, except that when the creature reaches its maximum of 3000 demons, they'll all be expelled from its body... in a spirit form that will let them directly possess living humans, instantly turning 3000 people into vampires in one night.
  • Bone: Bartleby says that rat creatures are born with skinny, hairless tails, but these are lopped off on their first birthday so a dreaded monster called the Jekk doesn't drag them away by their tails in the night. Phoney thinks it's ridiculous that a race of monsters are afraid of another monster. However, the prequel series shows there is no such thing as a Jekk, it's a distorted account from when the Bones' distant ancestor, Big Johnson, went to the Valley centuries ago and became so feared amongst the rat creatures for his tendency to brutalize their tails in a battle that he became a legendary figure in their culture.
  • Hack/Slash: Tim Seeley once mentioned in an interview that a scrapped storyline would have involved a slasher who preyed solely on vampires.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Galactus:
      • Galactus is first introduced by showing the Skrulls, some of the most threatening villains the Fantastic Four had faced up until then, terrified of him and doing their best to conceal their home planet so he wouldn't find and eat it. In a later story, Galactus successfully devours the Skrull homeworld and its inhabitants.
      • Galactus himself was once considered a prospective meal, along with the rest of the universe, for an interdimensional being known as Hunger.
    • Tryks hunt down and infect the various species of vampire. They need normal humans to reproduce though. Deacon Frost also tries to become a creature above vampires on the food chain himself but instead gets eaten by one.
    • Venom: A few stories feature xenophages, monsters that feed on symbiotes such as Venom itself.
  • In Vampirella vs. Aliens, the xenomorphs basically fill this role for the vampires. The comic opens with a bunch of Nosferatu being hunted by them, the last of whom tries to fight back by sinking his fangs into an alien. Bad idea.
  • Witch Doctor: Penny Dreadful is a cryptophage: a monster whose diet consists entirely of other monsters.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Blade II: The Reapers feed on vampires. Though they were not above snacking on humans too. The only way to kill them was the sun, as they had a solid bone plate over their heart, and easily healed from a broken neck. They could probably survive decapitation as well; a victim in the middle of turning survived a partial decapitation. After the body was destroyed, the remaining piece was still looking around and blinking with its eye.
  • The Cosmic Monsters: A giant spider (that somehow changes between a tarantula and a funnel web) catches a cockroach in its web and fights it, eventually winning and wrapping it up.
  • In Daybreakers, vampires can mutate by drinking their own blood, turning into Subsiders, feral and incredibly dangerous bat/human hybrid monsters. They feed mostly off the blood-drinking but much more human vampires, but will eagerly take human blood too whenever they can get it.
  • Evolution: During the stage of alien evolution where the meteor crash site resembles the Carboniferous Era, numerous monsters are shown preying on each other.
  • Ghoulies II: The Ghoulie Eater, who does what exactly what his name says and eats all but the Fish Ghoulie.
  • Godzilla:
    • Godzilla 2000: Subverted. In the climax of the movie, Orga attempts to swallow Godzilla whole. Godzilla uses his atomic breath on its insides and kills it.
    • In Rodan, the titular giant pterosaur is first introduced as a predator that eats the Big Creepy-Crawlies called Meganulon that had previously been the threat in the movie.
  • Hunting Humans: The main character has a Nightmare Sequence where the fellow Serial Killer who has been hassling him appears as a supernatural creature that preys on infamous murderers.
    "I'm the reason Jack the Ripper was never caught, and I'm the reason you'll never be caught. You're hunting humans, and I'm hunting you!"
  • Jurassic Park:
    • The T. rex in the first film eats a Gallimimus and a Velociraptor.
    • Jurassic Park III also has this with the notorious scene of the Spinosaurus killing the juvenile Tyrannosaurus.
  • King Kong (2005): The vastatosaurus rex eats a foetodon. This is also heavily used in the game based on the film.
  • Mega Piranha: The titular monsters feed on each other if one is hurt. The feeding frenzy is so crazy that it ends up causing them to kill each other at the end.
  • Mega Shark Vs Crocosaurus: Mega Shark proceeds to eat Crocosaurus's eggs throughout the movie.
  • Planet of the Dinosaurs: The tyrannosaurus rex eats a rhedosaurus while chasing the human characters at one point.
  • Queen of the Damned: Akasha drinks the blood of vampires and humans alike.
  • Star Wars:
    • In The Phantom Menace, the subterranean oceans of Naboo, giant sea monsters such as the eel-like Colo Claw Fish and the fish-crustacean hybrid Opee Sea Killer are hunted by an even larger leviathan, the Sando Aqua Monster.
    • In the Star Wars Legends continuity, The Wildlife of Star Wars shows how sarlaccs — feared monsters such as the one depicted in Return of the Jedi, which live in deep pits and devour anything that comes within reach of their tentacles — are often dug up and eaten by krayt dragons.
  • The Valley of Gwangi: The titular Allosaurus eats a Styracosaurus and a Gallimimus.
  • Warm Bodies: The dynamic between zombies and boneys — zombies whose flesh has completely rotted away — has shades of this. Boneys are noticeably feared by the regular undead and openly antagonistic towards them throughout.

  • Anno Dracula: In one short story, the parents of the slain vampire Carmilla had her resurrected as a Homunculus. Even more unnatural than your standard vampire, the homunculus can only be sustained by the blood of an Elder vampire, which she does through sucking mouths in her hands.
  • Clickers: The titular three-foot-long man-eating crabs are only on shore in the first place because they're fleeing from seven-foot-tall Fish People.
  • Dracopedia: Some dragon species habitually hunt other dragons. Zmey, for instance, often prey on the closely related Kirin, while wyverns prefer dragonettes to all other prey.
  • Goosebumps: In The Girl Who Cried Monster, Lucy spends most of the story terrified of one of the series' man-eating humanoid monsters. At the end, it's revealed that her family is made up of even more fearsome monsters when her parents eat the first monster in retribution for coming into their territory.
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Giant spiders fear the basilisk. But even the mighty basilisk is afraid of roosters (most probably because they are derived from a mutated chicken embryo and coming into contact with their original species undoes the wrongness of their magical nature). And roosters fear humans, which fear giant spiders, which fear basilisks, which fear roosters...
  • I Am Legend: Inverted in the original novel. The significance of the title is that, to the living, sapient vampires rebuilding civilization, Robert Neville is a terrifying monster who can hunt them during the day.
  • The Mist: The various monsters have a clear food chain, along with eating any humans they come across.
  • The Nekropolis Archives: Leech vines, thorny vines that wrap around victims and drain their blood, particularly love to drain the blood of vampires, who are generally not amused by the irony.
  • The One Who Eats Monsters: Erynis, the protagonist, is a goddess of vengeance who is classified as a monster because her powers are chaotic. She exists to punish evil in all its forms, her preferred victims are other monsters, and she eats their hearts after killing them. Erynis has been so successfull in her mission that other supernatural beings named her "the Implacable One".
  • Perdido Street Station: The main issue driving the plot is the presence of the slake moths, giant dream- and mind-eating moths that scare the living crap out of devils. In fact, the slake moths are even shown to have eaten a vampire at one point in the book. And these slake moths are only halfway up the foodchain in their homeland. It's that kind of world.
  • Roger Zelazny:
    • In "Dayblood", the titular Dayblood feed on vampires. The only Dayblood present looks (and thinks) like a human and doesn't seem to be particularly evil — more like ruthlessly practical. Interesting that vampires know at least some weaknesses of the Dayblood and use appropriate protections against them.
    • Itself Surprised, set in Fred Saberhagen's Berserker series, focuses on the discovery of an inactive anti-Berserker Berserker, unleashed long ago by the Red Race shortly before the Builders' Berserkers wiped them out.
  • In The Scholomance, maleficaria (commonly called "mals") eat wizards, especially young ones. Maw-mouths eat mals. They also eat wizards. And in the final book of the trilogy, Orion Lake consumes maw-mouths as easily as they eat lesser mals. He also eats mals. And wizards.
  • In "The Shadow Out of Time" by H. P. Lovecraft, the Great Race of Yith, for all their power and clear superiority, seem terrified of the half-material entities sealed beneath the earth.
  • In The Skin Trade a novella by George R. R. Martin, the boogeyman for werewolves in the town is a demon known as Skinner, which lives inside mirrors and is relentless in its hunt until it manages to take a werewolf.
  • In Those Who Hunt the Night, someone, or something appears to be hunting the vampires of London and draining all of their blood.
  • The Wandering Inn: In the High Pass, Ryoka is attacked by goblins, who are promptly attacked by carn wolves, who accidentally chase her into herd of flesh-eating goats, who then all stumble into a nest of gargoyles, who are then all scared away as she approaches the cave of Teriarch, who is later revealed to be a dragon.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Big Wolf on Campus had a variation in an episode about vampires that can only eat werewolves.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In "Teacher's Pet", a particularly fearsome vampire is sent running at the sight of the She-Mantis, who wasn't even in her true form at the time.
  • Community, "Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps": "I am a werewolf who feeds on selfish vampires."
  • River Monsters is a documentary about catching the scariest freshwater fish — not just the man-eaters, but the things that eat them. Piranhas, for instance, are eaten by the giant arapaima and by river dolphins, while crocodiles can fall victim to both territorial hippopotami and to the highly aggressive goliath tigerfish. The show is usually done on a catch and release basis, but sometimes people do end up eating the catch. Note: this is a documentary, so the fish that qualify are also Real Life examples.
  • Stargate Atlantis:
    • The Wraith are a terrifying race of lifeforce vampires who hunt, herd, and generally rule over humanity as a food source. However, when Lt Ford was being fed upon, the process was interrupted and he discovered that the Wraith, in order to allow them feed longer, inject their victims with a powerful stimulant that makes the victim stronger. Cue Ford and some other Wraith survivors around the galaxy forming a group that hunts the wraith, harvesting their corpses for more sweet, sweet Psycho Serum
    • There are also the Asurans: machines created by the Ancients to combat the Wraith. When the Asurans are activated, they become a much bigger threat than the Wraith when they decide to kill the Wraith by eliminating their food source...humans. Until they are dealt with, of course.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: As established in "Scorpion", Species 8472 are Borg biters. They see our entire galaxy as impure, and plan on killing everything else after they finish chowing down on the Borg.
  • Supernatural: There are creatures that gain power by consuming the blood of demons. Sam is one of them.
  • The Ultra Series does this occasionally with its kaiju.
    • Return of Ultraman: The whip-armed Gudon is Twin Tail's natural predator, and their rivalry proves so intense that when Ultraman Jack stepped in to kill them both, he didn't stand a chance in the three-way battle. This rivalry is repeated in Ultraman Mebius where the two's battle is interrupted by the Mebius example below.
    • Ultraman Taro: In episode 17, bug-like monsters called Kemujira appear after being awoken by a volcanic eruption, ZAT deals with them as is typical, but then the real threat emerges in the form of their predator Birdon, who not only devours the Kemujira, but kills Ultraman Taro.
    • Ultraman 80: In episode 28, the vicious Zakira attempts this with an infant Baru (a species of Gentle Giant kaiju that is its natural prey) that UGM was taking care of, but fails.
    • Ultraman Max: The ice-breathing Lagoras is the mortal enemy of the fire-breathing Grangon, and the former hunts for the latter to consume its molten core to become Evolved Lagoras, which combines the powers of both into a far more dangerous attack.
    • Ultraman Mebius: Bogal and her spawn, the Lesser Bogals, are basically mouths with a body. Their presence calls forth other kaiju from the depths of space or their tombs in the earth to be unwillingly consumed. Worse still, the Bogals use the energy gained from meals to evolve in power and appearance. Oh yeah, they also cannibalize their dead for the same effect.
  • The Vampire Diaries features Mikael, an ancient vampire who hunts other vampires because he doesn't drink the blood of the living, only other vampires.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 13th Age: The Marrow-Eater was no friend of the Dragon Empire, but he also laughed at the sight of skulls and ate the dry, dusty marrow from the bones of liches.
  • Arduin: The ibathene was introduced for the specific purpose of being a monster capable of killing dragons, so as to provide something even tougher than the archetypal top monster of fantasy games. The result is an immense, reptilian beast strong enough to comfortably hunt and eat dragons and other powerful monsters — in fact, ibathenes hunted dragons to extinction in certain regions of the world.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Griffons often hunt and eat hippogriffs as a result of their obsession with horse meat, and also eagerly prey on harpies.
    • This is used very often in regards to dragons:
      • Dragons find hydras to be incredibly delicious, and will go to great lengths to kill and devour the lesser monsters should they become aware of their presence.
      • Deep dragons feed primarily on subterranean aquatic creatures, and while their diet consists chiefly of albino fish and the occasional kuo-toa they also prey on aboleths.
      • Giant Spiders are sapphire dragons' favorite prey, and the dragons often allow these creatures to inhabit their lairs explicitly to have a reliable food source close at hand.
      • Beast dragons, native to the Outer Plane of the Beastlands, revel in hunting challenging prey. They'll go after anything that provides them with a suitable test of their skills, but especially favor hunting dinosaurs and powerful evil monsters.
      • Styx dragons, serpentine beings who live in the River Styx, will gladly eat any meat they can find, but chiefly prey on fiends such as devils and demons.
      • Mountain landwyrms mostly feed on rock, but when they wish to vary their diet they mostly scratch the itch for meat by preying on a few giants or dire bears.
      • Dragon eels are known to prey on dragon turtles.
      • The Third Edition Epic Level Handbook has the sirrush, a large creature that looks vaguely like an armor-plated lynx and likes hunting dragons.
    • Bugbears, orcs, and gnolls are all quite willing to attack and kill or enslave less powerful evil humanoids like goblins and kobolds.
    • Bebiliths are spider-like demons whose favorite prey is other demons.
    • Spider Eaters are huge wasp-like magical beasts that hunt the Giant Spiders and other oversized arthropods found in most D&D worlds.
    • Avolakias, a type of aberration resembling tentacled wormlike monsters, greatly dislike the taste of either living or dead meat and are instead eager predators of the undead — zombie flesh is their favorite food.
  • GURPS Dragons: One of the backstory options presented for a campaign setting where dragons have overrun a fantasy world is based on the dangers of tampering with such food chains. In this case, dragons normally produce huge numbers of offspring that another species of monster habitually preys on, keeping their numbers very low. Then the dragon-eating monsters are wiped out by humanoids who see them as threats, and, well...
  • Pathfinder:
    • Umbral dragons and cairn linnorms are notable for hunting The Undead as their favored food source. Of the two, umbral dragons prefer to feed on incorporeal undead such as ghosts and specters, while cairn linnorms, which cannot physically interact with ectoplasm, stick to the corporeal kind. That said, both will happily feed on humans if no better meal presents itself.
    • Baomals, ravenous sea monsters resembling giant sea turtles with two snakelike heads, are stated to have been ravenous predators of aboleths in the distant past.
    • Ammuts are fiends that feed on souls, but are notoriously picky eaters — they disdain those of common people as bland and uninteresting and prefer the more textured souls of experienced heroes, but especially delight in preying on the souls of powerful evil creatures.
    • Bebiliths are spider-like fiends native to the Abyss that hunt demons. They don't eat them, as such — as fiends, they do not needs sustenance — but they're just as sadistic as most other fiends, and enjoy hunting demons and chewing on their flesh.
    • Death worms are powerful beasts and aren't choosy about their prey; as a result, other desert-dwelling monsters such as gnolls, lamias and jackalweres are as likely to find themselves on the death worms' menu as regular animals and humanoids are. Even drakes and yrthaks are suitable prey if they fly too low. In turn, death worms fall lower on the food chain that certain breeds of giant scorpions and desert-dwelling dragons.
    • Faceless whales routinely prey upon other subterranean horrors but, for all their size and strength, are far from being the top predators of the Sightless Sea and are hunted by predators of their own.
    • Shulns are among the very few things that prey on purple worms, which they subdue with their poisonous bites. They're thus highly sought after as a way of keeping the burrowing scourges away from underground settlements.
    • Esoboks, a kind of bestial psychopomps, enjoy eating undead flesh, and pursue and ravenously consume undead creatures at every opportunity.
    • As souls travel through the Astral Plane on their way to the afterlife, they are beset by numerous supernatural predators such as astradaemons, night hags and sahkils. As these creatures feed upon passing souls, however, they are themselves hunted by the Outer Goddess Nhimbaloth, who consumes predator and prey as one.
  • Shadowrun: Among the numerous kinds of insect spirits infesting the ruins of Chicago, mantis spirits are notable for preying primarily on other insect spirits. They'll still go after humans and metahumans, especially if they interfere with the mantis spirits' own plans and hunts, but their favored food source are their fellow extradimensional invaders.
  • The Strange: Necuratu and shadowcasters in Gloaming feed on both vampires and werewolves, caring nothing for the struggle between Law and Chaos.
  • Warhammer:
    • Dread maws, a species of burrowing worm-like monsters, are entirely capable of devouring large and powerful creatures such as dragons or chimeras, which they take down by burrowing directly into their bodies and devouring them from the inside out.
    • Magma dragons favor large, powerful monsters such as chimeras and manticores as prey. They will go after humanoids as well, but these are rarely large or numerous enough to be worth the effort.
  • The World of Darkness:
    • Vampire: The Masquerade:
      • Any vampire of a sufficiently low generation can develop the Elder's Thirst: they can only feed on other vampires. Their capacity for holding blood can be ten times that of a neonate, so when they're running on empty it takes a lot to fill them up. Luckily for them, vampire blood is much more filling. Most vampires in the setting live in fear of Gehenna, when the Antediluvians will rise from torpor to devour their offspring. Some Elder vampires invoke this trope by specifically creating coteries of neonates (new vampires) to go out and fill themselves up with human blood, so their Sire can then fill up on vampire blood. Not enforced in the rules per se, but a very creepy and squicky piece of fluff.
      • Also, humans can be empowered somewhat by feeding them vampire blood — but become enslaved to their donor. Sometimes they decide to go independent and find their own supplies. This is Vlad the Impaler's backstory. He was never a blood thrall, but, before he was Embraced himself, he fed on captured Tzimisce and shared the blood with loyal elite troops, thereby establishing himself higher on the food chain than the clan that had been terrorizing so many similar small European kingdoms.
    • In Vampire: The Requiem, similar examples to the above exist:
      • Any vampire with Blood Potency 7 can only feed if they're willing to drink the blood of another vampire. There are drawbacks: addiction and the risk of being mind controlled by the victim. They can also get addicted to soul-eating other vampires through diablerie. Usually, any vamp getting this high a Blood Potency either ate his way up or existed for a very long time, both of which tend to make you extremely powerful. In the case of the former, they also tend to be quite psychotic due to diablerie eating away at your Humanity.
      • Supplements have featured both the Macellarius, who gain the ability to truly digest food and a gourmand's desire for strange flesh, and the Noctuku who have a compulsion to eat the flesh of their victims as well as drink their blood, despite it providing no benefit to them — it's more a dominance thing.
      • As in Masquerade, ghouls — humans given vampiric abilities by addicting them to vitae (vampire blood) — can sometimes go rogue and turn to hunting vampires to make them into food without having to slave for them. The Mythologies splat actually introduces the Phanariot, which are a ghoul strain that has managed to become immune to the Blood Bond and so freely preys upon vampires.
      • Naturally, vampires can suck blood from the various other supernatural splats. In first edition, this isn't always a good idea — Urathra blood has a tendency to provoke Frenzy, for example. The Book of the Dead splat contains a merit that allows vampires to eat ghosts instead of drinking blood. In 2nd edition, the merit Unnatural Affinity exists specifically for the aforementioned too-strong vampires, allowing them to substitute the blood of non-vampire supernaturals for vampire blood.
      • The Edimmu are demonic entities from ancient Mesopotamia, who were created to destroy rival vampires but Turned Against Their Masters. They wiped out The Necrocracy of Babylon; they devour vampire souls, reproducing sevenfold whenever they do; and they're pretty much the Godzilla Threshold to any vampire old enough to know about them.
    • Werewolf: The Forsaken:
      • In the 2nd edition , werewolves got tweaked so that Primal Urge had a similar drawback to Blood Potency above. Hitting Primal Urge 6 means that only the flesh of carnivorous creatures can sustain a werewolf, so if they don't want to starve to death, they need to start eating wolves and the like. Two points of Primal Urge later, and from then on, only the flesh of creatures that produce Essence will do. These big bad wolves can only nourish themselves on the flesh of humans (and by extension mages), spirits, and other werewolves.
      • This is also how spirits often work. Each spirit can eat other spirits that are similar to it (a water spirit eating another water spirit, for instance) or compatible with it (a wolf spirit eating a rabbit spirit), basically making an almost cannibalistic food chain. However, they are also capable of gaining Essence simply from being around the thing they represent. Spirits can deviate from this pattern (a wolf spirit can eat, for example, a car spirit), but it doesn't feel right, and those that do it too often are at risk of becoming magath, twisted hybrids rejected by other spirits.

    Video Games 
  • In Amnesia: The Dark Descent, the player is stalked by a horrifying monster that can't be confronted or killed, and you spend much of your time running and hiding in terror. About halfway through the game, you wander into a side room and find its dismembered corpse lying in a pile of The Corruption, and realize you have bigger things to worry about.
  • Amorphous+: The opponents you face are Glooples, a number of which can engulf the player or eat him. Then there's the Amalgam, who like its namesake suggests can absorb other Glooples to become stronger. Of course, the Amalgam can engulf the player too if they're not careful.
  • Chimera Beast: The Villain Protagonist Eater is on both ends of this trope. In the final level, it encounters smaller Eaters that it can consume and assimilate the abilities of. The final boss on the other hand is an even larger Eater that's trying to consume the player.
  • In Chrono Trigger, if you fight against Edible Frogs and a Fangtooth, the Fangtooth eats one Edible Frog every time it is hurt to restore its health.
  • Digimon: Manticoremon, a "Demon Beast" Digimon debuting in the Digimon Pendulum Z II virtual pet, is a savage hunter of other Digimon, driven by nothing more than a mindless hunger for their data and digicores, but it strongly prefers to consume those of viruses and demonic Digimon. This has led to it often being employed by angelic Digimon as a virus-hunter, despite its otherwise monstrous nature.
  • Dino Crisis 2: Seen when the Tyrannosaurus Scar is defeated by the Giganotosaurus and eaten off-screen.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening, the Children are introduced devouring normal Darkspawn and instantly transforming into bigger and more monstrous forms.
  • Dragon Rage: Dragons prey on orcs — indeed, this is the way you restore your Mana.
  • In Dungeon Munchies, the numerous wild monsters in the dungeon try to eat your zombie protagonist, as rotting human flesh is a delicious and nutritious food source for them. In turn, your protagonist hunts down and cooks these wild monsters to satisfy his own supernatural hunger, and power himself up to fight stronger beasts.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Star Resistance gives an ecosystem of food chains in the early half of stage 3. The giant spider cormorants are general predator animals, but are preyed upon by Aqua Devils. One can even be seen in the background feasting on a cromorant. But the large gators that lunge out of the water are the apex predators of the sewers of Shakun.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy XII has a number of enemies with the Cannibalize skill, which lets them eat other enemies to boost their own power. There are also some enemies described as predators of others via their Bestiary entries, such as Mallicants (predators of Malboros) and Wus (predators of Panthers).
    • Final Fantasy XV: The Behemoth King is a beast so powerful that even daemons don't dare to approach it. Notably, it's found in the daemon-infested Insomnia and apparently has no problems surviving here.
  • Halo:
    • In the original trilogy, the Covenant are a collection of highly advanced alien species who look to be the main reason why humanity's about to go extinct... that is, until the Flood are released. After that, the Flood start assimilating both Covenant and humans into their ranks and you start to wish you just had the Covenant to face again.
    • In Halo 5: Guardians, it becomes clear that the Covenant remnant are small fry compared to the various Forerunner machines coming out of hiding and being controlled by Cortana and the Warden Eternal.
  • In Insaniquarium, Guppies are your basic fish that eats food pellets and drop coins. Shortly after you get introduced to Carnivores, which eat baby Guppies, but drop the more valuable diamonds. Much later, you meet the large and menacing Ultravores, which eat Carnivores and drop the extremely valuable treasure chests.
  • Little Nightmares: Children like Six are chopped up and used to make food for the Guests who come to visit the Maw. The Guests themselves either eat themselves to death and become food for other Guests or get their life force sucked out by The Lady, mistress of the Maw. And then at the end, you eat her, followed shortly by using her stolen powers to drain the surviving Guests.
  • Metal Slug: In Metal Slug 6, the Mars People (from 2/X and 3) make a return, allied again with General Morden and his soldiers. Then they're attacked by the Venusians, who not only make short work of Morden's soldiers but also literally eat the Mars People for breakfast.
  • Metro 2033: You should've guessed something was up when you ran into a room full of corpses that haven't been looted and that the radioactive mutants that were chasing moments before you refuse to enter. Outside of the Metro itself, the demons—flying mutants apparently descended from tigers—are the apex predator on the surface and can be seen carrying off hapless monsters more than once.
  • Metroid Fusion: The lynchpin of the plot. Metroids eat X Parasites (and, according to the manga and canonized by later games in the series, were specifically engineered to do so by the Chozo). By killing all the Metroids on SR388, Samus disrupted the natural balance of the ecosystem, resulting in the X Parasites reproducing unchecked. This is, unsurprisingly, a Bad Thing.
  • The Monster Hunter series, set in a fantasy world populated by fearsome beasts, wyverns, and dragons, sometimes falls under this as certain monsters will prey on other monsters. A premiere example is the Elder Dragon species — note here that Elder Dragons by default are considered The Dreaded, and the term generally classifies the most powerful around — Kirin, which are a favorite prey of Rajang.
  • Mother 3: If you get into a battle with both a Dung Beetle and a Sand Lizard, the Lizard might eat the Dung Beetle for health. In the Sand Lizard's Battle Memory entry, the game mentions that the Dung Beetles clean up Sand Lizard dung, and, in turn, the Sand Lizards eat them.
  • In Nightmare Creatures you spend most of the game facing the tough and somewhat dangerous Pepys' Monsters (sort of large humanoid golems with extra limbs and heads). After a certain level you'll start meeting Giant Spider monsters, who has webbed and eaten one of said Pepys Monsters.
  • Paper Mario:
    • Paper Mario 64: Tubba Blubba eats Boos.
    • Paper Mario: The Origami King: In order to establish how dangerous and aggressive this beast is, the Paper Macho Chain Chomp's introduction shows it messily devouring the common enemies that Mario had been dealing with up until that point.
  • Ratchet & Clank:
    • Amoeboids, and it is pretty much all they do.
    • Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando: The arctic leviathans will eat Y.E.T.I. to restore their health if they are close enough.
  • RuneScape: Humans are fed on by Vampyres, but Vampyres fear the giant spiders known as Araxytes.
  • Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver: The initial protagonist Raziel begins by being transformed from a vampire to a wraith which feeds on the souls of vampires.
  • Splatterhouse: In the second game, at the end of the first level you see three mooks progressively devoured by a larger creature beyond a door, quickly revealed to be the boss of the level.
  • In Subnautica, the first predatory leviathan-class lifeform the player is likely to encounter is the Reaper, a claw-faced shark/eel that can One-Hit Kill an unprotected swimmer with less than 80% health. Near the end of the game, in the Inactive Lava Zone cave network, you can find Reaper skeletons on the floor, and your PDA notes they were likely dragged down from the surface to be consumed by an even larger predator: namely the Sea Dragon leviathan.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, even Nines, the badass leader of the Anarchs vampires, is terrified of werewolves. The one you have to deal with in Griffith Park near the endgame can kill you in four or five hits, and shrugs off even your most powerful weapons — you need to find a special way to kill it.
  • The What Did I Do to Deserve This, My Lord? series is all about creating a food chain ecology for your monsters. Slime molds roll around redistributing nutrients from the soil, the insectoid Omnoms eat the slimes to feed themselves and reproduce, Lizard Men eat Omnoms, and Lizard Men can be devoured by Dragons.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • In "The Picnic", when Gumball and Darwin get lost in the Forest of Doom, they attempt to eat a caterpillar out of hunger. Unable to go through with the deed, they release it and shout encouragement as it slithers away. Suddenly, a fish-bird creature swoops down and grabs the worm. The bird then gets eaten by a tentacled mouse monster, which gets eaten by a one-eyed gryphon, which gets eaten by a huge moose-like beast. All of this happens in the span of twenty seconds, and Gumball and Darwin stare in silent horror as it goes on.
    • In "The World", a similar event occurs during a second visit to the Forest of Doom, where a squirrel is eaten by a snake, which is eaten by a bird, which is eaten by another one-eyed gryphon, which is eaten by a moose-like beast, all while the creatures sing about how the meaning of life is to eat or be eaten, each being devoured before it can finish its verse, except for the moose-creature.
      Well, I guess that the biggest remains unhurt.
  • American Dragon: Jake Long: Stragori are vampire who feed on dragon blood.
  • Black Dynamite: A white hunter is eaten by a giant white wolf is eaten by a larger white dinosaur is eaten by an even larger spider... which Black Dynamite shoots in the head.
    Black Dynamite: That is how you conserve ammo!
  • Bunnicula: The final episode introduces Bunnicula's evil brother, who is a vampire rabbit who preys on other supernatural creatures by draining their energy, which also lets him steal their powers. He ends up nearly killing Bunnicula by trying to drain him permanently.
  • Futurama: "I Second That Emotion" mentions a "sub-sewer mutant" that the regular sewer mutants fear. They try to laugh it off as just a sub-urban legend. In the non-canon comics, there really are sub-sewer mutants except that they act really peaceful, it's only that that they mean the opposite of what they say.
  • The Real Ghostbusters: One episode fetures Mee-Krah, an Eldritch Abomination that awakes every thousand years and devours other ghosts in order to replenish its energy. Unfortunately, it becomes incredibly hot as it did this, until it eventually reduces the surrounding landscape to a wasteland. The Sahara Desert, the Gobi Desert, and Death Valley were all in their current state because of this demon's previous rampages. The heroes have to stop it before it does the same thing again.
  • A Robot Chicken Charlie Brown sketch has a predatory Great Pumpkin being eaten by the Kite-Eating Tree
  • In The Snorks, the main characters had to deal with a predatory species called Snork Eaters once in a while, but in one episode they introduced another character who was a Snork Eater Eater.

    Real Life 
  • Although physically incapable of eating humans, cobras and kraits on the Indian subcontinent do kill them with some frequency. These venomous serpents are also preyed upon by king cobras, which are specialized snake-eaters.
    • The New World version might be the mussarana, a large colubrid that likes to eat rattlesnakes. Of course, it's not particularly dangerous to humans itself, though it is a rather intimidating-looking snake.
    • Mongooses also have been known to kill and eat snakes, though they don't seek snakes out as food.
  • Great white sharks, frequently regarded as ferocious man-eaters, are themselves easy game for orcas. Records have sharks leaving their feeding grounds whenever they felt a killer whale nearby. One recorded example had them go all the way from the mainland U.S. to Hawaii. To put that in perspective, if they went the other way to Kansas, it wouldn't be far enough. In turn, while coastal great whites live mostly on marine mammals, their open-water fellows regularly prey on smaller species of shark. This includes other notorious man-eaters like tiger sharks or oceanic whitetips.
  • Siberian tigers hunt bears (black and brown) and keep wolves in their territory at a minimum. Interestingly, of the three the tiger is the least likely to kill humans.
  • Lions are afraid of crocodiles when they are in the water, but if they surprise them on land they will kill and eat them with no problem.
    • While in water, however, crocodiles are afraid of hippos, whose only real enemy are human hunters.
    • Lions tend to go out of their way to kill other predators in the areas they hunt: hyenas can fight back but leopards and cheetah are a bit outmatched and have to avoid them whenever they can.
    • Even lions run for it when African honeybees get riled up, having no means of defense against their highly-aggressive swarms.
  • A certain urban legend holds that the benevolent cellar or daddy-long-legs spider (that long-leggity beastie that lurks in ceiling corners and vibrates when you get too close) has the most potent venom of any spider, but can't bite through human skin. The Food Chain of Evil is one possible explanation: cellar spiders prey on other spiders, including black widows, ergo cellar spiders must be even worse. However, this is untrue, as the daddy-long-legs spider's fangs are perfectly capable of penetrating human skin and their venom is both extremely weak and injected in such small quantities that it has no effect on humans.
  • A subversion; it is widely believed that those insects that look like giant mosquitoes, known as crane flies or mosquito hawks, prey on mosquitoes. This actually isn't true. They actually are incapable of killing other insects as adults and many of them don't even eat. However, mosquitoes of the genus Toxorhynchites, also known as elephant mosquitoes or mosquito eaters, are an example of this trope. Their larvae prey on other aquatic animals, including other mosquito larvae. This also means that adult females of this genus don't need to consume blood, as they get all the protein they need in the larval stage (mosquitoes that feed on blood do so to get protein for making eggs).
  • Doctors are experimenting with using a special type of virus to treat patients with antibiotic resistant bacteria. These viruses, called bacteriophages, are specialized for infecting specific kinds of bacteria and are harmless to eukaryotic organisms like us. Bacteria can adapt resistances to these viruses, but by doing so lose their resistance to antibiotics.
  • Hominids and early humans used to be eaten rather regularly by extinct saber-toothed cats, such as Dinofelis and the like. The solution? It seems early human beings killed them off by using spears and probably fire. This wouldn't be Homo neanderthalensis/sapiens however, these people were Homo erectus.
  • There actually are viruses that infect other viruses, which are known as virophages. Normal viruses reproduce by reprogramming cells to make copies of them, but because viruses are not cells, virophages instead reprogram the host virus so it will causes the cells it attacks to produce copies of the virophage instead of itself.
  • The cells of your body are also part of the microscopic food chain. Viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens attack and eat your cells, but your body is protected by phagocytes and other cells of the immune system which eat or kill anything foreign in the body. Sadly they are not the top predator. Human Imunodeficiency Virus attacks immune system cells, causing the body to suffer AIDS.
  • There are "hyperparasites" that specialize in feeding off other parasites, from fleas on vampire bats to bacteria growing on mistletoe to fungi growing on other fungi. The highest recorded number of trophic levels afforded by such a lifestyle is a hyper-hyperparasite: a fungus growing on a fungus growing on a fungus growing on a tree.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Sorting Food Chain Of Evil, Eats Vampires, Monsters That Eat Other Monsters


Paper Macho Chain Chomp

The terrifying Paper Macho Chain Chomp eats even the other Folded Soldiers.

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Example of:

Main / FoodChainOfEvil

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