Follow TV Tropes


Foul Waterfowl

Go To
Mess with the honk, you get the bonk.
"Geese hiss, bite, and give chase to things they are supposed to be afraid of. Geese are derelicts and freeloaders, sullying our subdivisions and parks with their feces and feathers. Geese, we seem to have collectively decided, are complete dicks."

Sometimes, waterfowl are portrayed as animals that are beautiful and serene as they glide along the surface of a lake, or as silly and comical animals in case of ducks.

This is not that.

Sometimes, waterfowl are portrayed as hyper-aggressive and/or total dicks towards others. Usually, it involves swans and geese, but the portrayal of ducks as selfish and temperamental in The Golden Age of Animation would also fall under this. There is a bit of Truth in Television to this: geese and swans are naturally very territorial, and they will attack anything they see as a threat. Furthermore, as some of the largest and strongest of all birds, they are quite powerful enough to break bones with one blow. So, of course, if a human walks by and seems to challenge their authority, that human is, simply put, totally ducked. Geese in particular have a tendency to barge in on human settlements, leading to inevitable conflict.

Geese are the most likely to receive this treatment. While smaller than swans, they're just as ferocious and more commonly seen in everyday life (thanks to the aforementioned intrusion on human territory), but don't have the beauty and elegance to cancel it out. Geese also tend to be more consistently hostile towards humans compared to swans, which tend to only be particularly aggressive towards people while raising their offspring, as swans are known for their protectiveness, and will generally only attack people if they intrude on their territory, whereas with geese, it's the opposite scenario, as geese can and will encroach on human territory if it has the resources to sustain them. Geese also tend to gather in large groups, increasing the odds that they'll outnumber any humans encountering them. Additionally, while serrated tongues are common among waterfowl as a means of breaking up food (since they don't have teeth), their presence on geese factors into their image as more menacing than most other common birds, with people frequently describing geese as having "teeth on their tongues" to invoke feelings of Body Horror.

This is also not getting into the horrific reproductive habits ducks engage in, which have earned them quite a lot of internet infamy.

Subtrope of Feathered Fiend. Contrast Swans A-Swimming, a much more peaceful view of waterfowl. Can overlap with Quacking Up if you got an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist, or Noisy Duck if the duck is loud. Compare Cocky Rooster for another domesticated bird with a similar stereotype.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!: In episode S01E06 of the anime, Catarina gets her sweet stolen by a swan, which she chases after to get it back.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon: The Series: Misty's Psyduck could be a greedy jerk at times, for example eating an apple Bulbasaur wanted to give to Togepi in "Pikachu's Vacation", stealing all of the food Brock cooked in "Alola, Alola!", and taking Misty's entire ice cream cone in "Heart of Fire, Heart of Stone!"
    • Pokémon the Series: Black & White: In the episode "Dancing With the Ducklett Trio", Ash and friends, along with the sunglasses-wearing Sandile, battle against a trio of Jerkass Ducklett who steal their stuff and the latter's sunglasses.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Hot Fuzz: Police officers Nicholas Angel and Danny Butterman are tasked with finding an escaped swan that repeatedly thwarts their attempts to return it to its owner. They finally manage to catch it toward the end of the film and still have it in their police car when they face off with the bad guys, which leads to the swan attacking the Big Bad when he tries to escape with the car.
  • Jurassic World Dominion: The accurately avian-looking Pyroraptor has webbed feet and a rasping tongue like some water birds, and behaves like a very large cormorant when it dives underwater to pursue Owen and Kayla.

  • Adrian Mole: In "Weapons of Mass Destruction", Adrian moves into a loft apartment overlooking the Grand Union Canal. A number of swans live in the area, and generally act hostile to anyone who goes near them. As a Running Gag, several characters point out that a swan can break a man's arm with ease.
  • In Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down, some geese migrate to Greg's street. Greg notes them to be very aggressive, chasing him and Rowley when they go home from school, and even Greg's dad has to be cautious while going to get the mail.
  • The boarding school that acts as the setting for Looking for Alaska is home to a notorious swan that attacks anyone in sight, including the protagonist.
  • The Redwall series features swans as the equivalent to dragons on several occasions. In that they're majestic, but also territorial and bad-tempered, and heaven help you if you irritate one.
  • The Ugly Duckling: All the other ducks that the eponymous ugly duckling meets make it no secret that they hate his guts just because of the way he looks, and they even say they wish a cat eats him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Brittas Empire: In the episode "Curse of the Tiger Women", Brittas ends up being pecked unconscious by a goose which had eaten his cooking (which had been cursed to kill those who eat it). It should be noted that a lot of birds ate his cooking, it was just the goose that went after Brittas personally.
  • There's an entire season 3 episode of Gilmore Girls that centers primarily Jess's run-in with a swan, which ended with him incurring a black eye and eventually roping Luke into helping him exact revenge. With a ladle.
    Jess: I was just walking by and the thing came out of nowhere and BAM –- beaked me right in the eye.
    Luke: It beaked you?
    Jess: You still don't believe me.
    Luke: I just never heard anyone use the word "beaked" as a verb before.
  • Life With Lucy: When Lucy buys a goose to guard the store, the goose attacks everyone in the family.
  • British Edutainment series Police, Camera, Action! had this at least three times in the series:
    • The original pilot episode "Police Stop!" had a swan on the M25 at Sewardstone Bridge in Essex causing problems for drivers on 9 June 1994, fleeing when a police Range Rover came into view.
    • The 1997 episode "Don't Look Back In Anger'' had the same clip, in a Continuity Nod to that episode.
    • The 1998 episode "The Wild Side" was about this trope for the first half until the episode's Halfway Plot Switch and it featured two clips of swans on the M25; one from Monday 9 June 1996 where a driver near Staines, Surrey on the M25, in a Ford Granada sedan stops to let a swan pass and the cop take the swan in a blanket, and one from 7 November 1995 set to R Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly."
  • While simply smart in the original web series, Duck in Don't Hug Me I'm Scared is far more selfish and abrasive, going as far as murder a child piece of bread out of spite.
  • One clip on World's Dumbest... has Fabio riding a roller coaster when he has a run-in with a goose. The moment of impact isn't shown on camera, but the aftermath has Fabio bleeding from his face.


  • In Jejammer, Aelfgifu meets a swan and is disappointed to learn that, like most swans, it's a jerk. Unlike most swans it's also racist against non-elves.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Grim Hollow: The Gasdra, also known as "The Witch's Goose", is an abomination against nature created through Black Magic; created by hags, evil fae and Black Mages, the ritual requires filling a golden bowl with the blood of a newborn baby beneath the light (dark?) of a new moon and then placing a goose egg to soak in the blood under the moonlight for at least four hours. When the ritual is complete, a fully-grown gasdra emerges from the egg, taking the form of a disfigured, three-headed, man-sized goose with a ravenous appetite for flesh. It lays jet-black eggs that are completely inedible for humans (but regarded as a delicacy by evil fey) and is typically used as a guard-beast. A second unholy rite, which involves painting a gasdra's feathers with the yolks of at least seventy of its own eggs and feeding it seven newborn babies beneath a new moon, transforms it into a more powerful form that is large enough to ride and sports four more heads.
  • RuneQuest: Ducks and keets are sapient (and playable) Bird People, apparently included in the setting in a fit of authorial whimsy. They were seemingly at least partly inspired by Daffy and Donald Duck (see Western Animation below), and are variously depicted as setting Butt Monkeys, suffering under some kind of racial curse, or being something of a Proud Warrior Race; they both suffer from and engage in Fantastic Racism. Hence, while not evil, they certainly tend to be played as having quite an attitude.

    Video Games 
  • Atomic Heart has a goose as the antagonist of its two DLCs.
  • The Battle Cats: Duche is a duck enemy, but it's not really menacing or intimidating enough to qualify. However, the same can't be said for Casaurian Ahirujo and its variants — giant, monstrous Duches which move much faster and dish out three quick, devastating peck attacks at a time.
  • One of the playable characters in Cel Damage is Fowl Mouth, a hard-boiled, foul-mouthed monochrome gangster duck from the 1930's with a penchant for filling his opponents with lead from his tommy gun.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has a sidequest as part of the Mysterious Island main quest where you have to help a farmer by exterminating a flock of highly-aggressive ducks that have taken over his farm.
  • Kirby and the Forgotten Land has the new mid-boss Fleurina, a ballerina swan who is a part of the Beast Pack. She attacks by twirling around like a tornado to try to suck Kirby towards her, as well as being able to toss cyclones at the pink hero. She becomes an example of Swans A-Swimming following the Beast Pack's Heel–Face Turn at the end of the game.
  • Kururin Squash has Professor Isogashima, the duck billed Mad Scientist and Big Bad who kidnaps the player's siblings and controls all of the bosses in the game. However being a game as lighthearted as it is he's not much of a threat.
  • Off: Sugar describing The Batter as a "huge, frightening ducky" foreshadows his monstrous appearance as the final boss of the Special Ending.
  • Pokémon Black and White: Swanna are based on swans, and they're said to have awful tempers.
  • Shelter 2: Paws features a segment where your character (a lynx cub) passes through a swamp filled with swan nests with tasty eggs in them. Come near any one of the nests, and a huge angry swan can kill you in two hits if you don't book it in time.
  • Untitled Goose Game allows the player to take the role of a self-described "horrible goose" that terrorizes the people of a small English village.

  • A Beginner's Guide to the End of the Universe: When battling the flock of void birds, the Everyman's decision to taunt them in order to lure them towards himself ultimately succeeds in getting some of the more innately aggressive ones to break off and pursue him when they can no longer tamp down their predatory instincts, at the cost of drawing the attention of the more dangerous specimens. The ones thus depicted are a falcon, a hawk, an eagle, an owl... and a Canadian goose.
  • Dolan: Dolan Duk is a creep who frequently screws people, especially Gooby, over (and in more ways than one) because it's fun for him.
  • Hyperbole and a Half: One story tells about Allie and Boyfriend having to deal with an aggressive goose that has invaded the house. They eventually manage to trap it and carry it to the pond outside town, where Allie imagines it lurks around, terrifying the other birds and waiting for its next victim.
  • A Redtail's Dream: The Swan of Tuonela isn't exactly friendly, to say the least. She's hellbent on ensuring anyone who winds up in her domain stays there, as the dead are supposed to, regardless of the fact that several of the people stuck there aren't even deceased. Of course, she's not actually evil, more incredibly stressed-out and having no time or patience for those who interfere with her incredibly important work.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Like in Minna Sundberg's earlier work, A Redtail's Dream, the Swan of Tuonela is not a nice bird. When Omni tries to make a deal with her to have Tuuri help him retrieve his grandmother's soul from the kade, she threatens him several times and tells him she will get two souls back, even if it's from Onni. Aside from that, she's very rude to the protagonists and once the kade is defeated, only nabs a couple of the souls that were trapped inside rather than the entire lot.
  • Swan Boy is a very rare example of an evil swan (well, not quite evil, but Lethally Stupid with a penchant for random mayhem).

    Web Videos 
  • Ozzy Man Reviews has a whole video on "Canadian Cobra Chickens" (or Canada geese) in which the birds attack humans, win fights against bigger animals like tigers and gorillas, and slow down traffic.
  • The TierZoo video "Are Geese OP?" discusses geese as if they were video game characters. They are described as relying mostly on their powerful Intimidation ability to damage their enemies' resolve, but with very little actual attack power to back it up, instead relying on a combination of durability and mobility to get away from enemies who resist their intimidation attempts. The video suggests counter-strategies to the goose's playstyle: resist their intimidation attempts, target their neck (which becomes vulnerable when they use their Peck attack), and use stealth to avoid their intimidation abilities. It also gives a tip to goose players: focus on dodging the enemy's grab attacks. Finally, it describes the swan as an upgraded version of the goose build, as it actually has the power to back up its intimidation. Throughout the whole video, clips of geese acting like jerks are shown.
  • Vinesauce: Vinny's hatred of geese is a Running Gag throughout his streams, owed to the fact that they often chased him off the playground as a kid. During one early in the channel's life (you can find the clip here), he went on a particularly aggressive rant about how much he hates geese, stating that they do disgusting, loud "screams", they poop everywhere, they smell bad, etc.
    "Geese are honking feathered shitbags."

    Western Animation 
  • Bojack Horseman: Clemelia Bloodsworth is an Alpha Bitch goose that bullied Beatrice when they were young. When Beatrice tries to climb up to a slide, Clemelia stomps on and bites her fingers so she falls off. She's still extremely condescending to Beatrice as an adult.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog:
  • Danger Mouse: Duckula is a bloodthirsty megalomaniac and a recurring antagonist in the series. Though he becomes a subversion when he gets his his own show, where he is a friendly Vegetarian Vampire unlike his predecessors who played this straight as "vicious vampire ducks".
  • Darkwing Duck:
    • Negaduck, being Darkwing's Evil Counterpart, is an uncaring leader who loves to cause destruction everywhere he goes.
    • Downplayed with Bushroot the duck. He may be a part of the villainous Fearsome Five, but he's mostly Affably Evil.
  • Donald Duck, especially in the classic cartoons, is characterized as temperamental and jerkish towards others he interacts with.
  • Both DuckTales series have examples, but this is a semi-discredited trope as most of the characters in both shows are waterfowl and many are even-tempered:
  • Looney Tunes used this a few times:
    • The Ducktators: In this 1941 Wartime Cartoon, the Axis Powers' leaders are portrayed as ducks and a goose, all of whom are laughably nasty but still manage to sway the more gullible farm animals into helping them take over the farm. They're only stopped by the intervention of the Dove Of Peace.
    • Daffy Duck is portrayed as a greedy and narcissistic duck who relishes in messing with the likes of Elmer Fudd or Bugs Bunny for the hell of it, or to get something he wants, though Porky Pig was a more frequent target of his shenanigans. However, as he is the one that usually starts the cartoon's conflict, he often had some sort of karma handed to him by the end. His vices were especially brought to the forefront from "Rabbit Fire" onward, emphasizing his callous vanity to make him a better foil to Bugs (and later antagonist for Speedy Gonzales), not returning to his earlier screwball personality until Wabbit: A Looney Tunes Production.
    • Several cartoons have Daffy as a married duck, and invariably his wife is shown as large, strong, and nasty.
    • Zig-zagged in the 1943 cartoon "A Corny Concerto". The "Blue Danube" segment stars a black duckling that resembles a young Daffy, who is seeking to join a family of swans. The mother swan is quite abusive toward the duckling, at one point smacking him down so hard he leaves an Impact Silhouette in the water. Then her cygnets are kidnapped by a hungry buzzard and the duckling rescues them. Afterward, he's accepted as a member of the swan's family.
  • In Milo Murphy's Law, a recurring gag is that Elliot Decker, the crossing guard- er, Safety Czar, gets constantly assaulted by ducks. It doesn't matter if he's nearby a pond or completely hospitalized, ducks tend to find him and ruthlessly attack him. They'll even attack his mere image on a parachute; ducks hate him that much.
    • Violently aggressive ducks may have initially been a running gag for the episode "Party of Peril" alone (the same episode that introduced Elliot's little problem with ducks), as when Milo's parents arrive with mattresses during the planning for Milo's surprise party, Brigette mentions they're useful for everyone to wrap themselves in them in case of duck attacks. Then at the very end of the episode, an angry family of ducks does indeed arrive at the party.
  • Done both ways on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic with geese. Some are portrayed as beautiful and delicate and shown crowning Twilight Sparkle when she becomes a princess. Others, like the ones used as sentries in Sparkle's Seven, have gaunt hooked-beaks and rounded teeth, big yellow bug eyes, and are notoriously antisocial and irritable.
  • PB&J Otter: Downplayed with Flick Duck. He's a Bratty Half-Pint in duck form and he can be a jerk to Munchy, but he shows that he cares about the others from time to time.
  • In the Regular Show episode "A Bunch of Full Grown Geese", the park is terrorized by vicious geese who chase after bystanders and steal their sandwiches. Mordecai and Rigby call on the baby ducks from "A Bunch of Baby Ducks" to help, and they help defeat the geese with a Humongous Mecha battle.
  • Rugrats (1991): In "Grandpa's Teeth", a duck gets ahold of Grandpa Lou's dentures and aggressively chases Tommy and Chuckie.
  • In Sarah & Duck, while this is averted for Duck, when he meets some swans, they are mean and won't let him swim in their pond.
  • Just like in the webcomic he's based on, Swan Boy is a very rare swan example. Rather than the more dignified portrayal of swans, he is a Stupid Evil wacky dunderhead much like the stereotypical cartoon duck, Too Kinky to Torture even for Satan.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures:
    • Plucky Duck is a selfish, egotistical prick, though he can be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold at times.
    • Danforth Drake and Margot Mallard are ducks who serve as the respective evil counterparts to Plucky and Shirley the Loon. They attend Perfecto Prep, the rival school of ACME Looniversity.
  • The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat has Peking Duck, a sinister Stage Magician duck (with chicken henchmen) who tries to steal Felix's magic bag of tricks. He acts unusually Wicked Cultured for this trope, though.
  • The Ugly Duckling (1939): The titular ugly duckling's mother and siblings all shun him just because they think he's ugly.

    Real Life 
  • Geese, especially Canada geese, have a reputation for being aggressive animals. A quick google search for "goose attack" will tell you this pretty quickly. According to this article, the main reason for their aggression is 1) they are very territorial and 2) they happen to live near humans.
    • In many parts of the world, Canada geese are classified as an invasive species. Many governments put measures in place for population control of the animals.
  • Swans have been known to display similar behavior for much of the same reasons as geese. As mentioned at the top of this page, they tend to get a free pass, mainly because they're mostly quite calm birds, only becoming particularly aggressive when there's cygnets to defend, or if you (or your dog, if you have one) are being particularly annoying. Geese, on the other hand, tend to be aggressive just because they can, hence why people view them with more scorn.
  • While ducks are generally friendlier to humans and are subject to the Rule of Cute, they can be real jerks. Male ducks in particular are immensely aggressive territorial bullies, males mounting unwilling females in mating season is such Serious Business that the female duck's reproductive system blocks out the flow as a default. That's right, they have evolved to prevent pregnancy as a default!
    • It's not only the male ducks which are jerks; observe a flock for long enough, and you'll notice that the females are just as likely to get aggressive towards other ducks, and during the breeding season even have a special display they perform to encourage a potential mate to begin beating up everything else he can get his bill on!
    • Ducks being very social animals is another major reason why they don't make very good pets: If there's less than three of them in one house, they're bound to go insane. While they are still adorable and willing to cuddle every once in a while and learn to interact with humans better than a lot of other animals, they can also become extremely aggressive and obsessive, developing long-term grudges.


Video Example(s):


Alice and Chloe

The Canadian geese, Alice and Chloe often ridicule Blu for being an acrophobic, tame bird though overall they are mostly just a nuisance with Blu being seemingly more annoyed with their behavior then upset.

How well does it match the trope?

4.8 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / FoulWaterfowl

Media sources: