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Hungry Menace

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Wraith Queen: Your will is strong. This one begged for his life.
Colonel Sumner: Is that the kind of treatment I can expect for myself and my people?
Wraith Queen: As I have said, all living things must eat.
Stargate Atlantis, "Rising"
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They commit acts of evil. They kill and torture. Why? Not for fun, not for profit, not because they hold a grudge against their victims. Instead, their very existence and survival depend on it. Maybe they actually need to eat some specific food like vampires, maybe they feed on your pain, maybe some supernatural curse demands human sacrifices from them in exchange for sparing their life.

This, similar to introducing Always Chaotic Evil people, is an easy way to create conflict that can only be resolved with violence, as you can't negotiate with someone or something who needs to kill you to survive. A Hungry Menace may be portrayed in different ways — from the horrible abomination that must be slain for the good of everyone to a Non-Malicious Monster or even a natural part of the universe that is not evil at all.

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If such a being kills and tortures to extend his life beyond its natural span, it's Immortality Immorality. It is close, but different as it present not doing amoral things and dying as the natural and only good solution for this problem, while this trope is more ambiguous. See also; Horror Hunger, One-Track-Minded Hunger, Face–Monster Turn and Phlebotinum Muncher. For a typical hero response, see Guilt-Free Extermination War.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach has Hollows, the hate-filled souls that survive by either eating other souls or, should they be advanced enough, cannibalizing other Hollows. It's only passed this trope if the Hollows keep personalities (take Shrieker, who used a boy's soul to hunt those he was owned by. Long story). So far, the Arrancars' diets are unknown, but all the ones with their past revealed when they were hollows ate others. It could be inferred that Ulquiorra survived off absorbing the spirit-filled particles in the air since he didn't have a mouth, but hey.
  • In Toriko, GOD's true nature is that of a colossal, frog-like apex predator who can easily devour the 90% of wildlife on the planet in a few swings of his overly-long tongue. The fact that he's so impossibly delicious that hordes of animals gather around him spontaneously doesn't help.

    Comic Books 
  • While he might not hold any malice towards his victims and supposedly serves a few "necessary functions" within the universe, none of that changes the fact that Galactus, Devourer of Worlds has a nigh-countless number of genocides to his name. Unsurprisingly, the survivors of his feedings care little about the alleged balance of the universe, and has even tried to put Reed Richards on trial for sparing Galactus when he had the opportunity to destroy him.
  • The undead Fantastic Four that originated from Marvel Zombies claim they need flesh to survive, but since they're just walking corpses, it's really just a psychological impulse that's almost impossible to ignore.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The eponymous monster of The Blob (1958). It oozes around to feed itself, and as it grows, so does its hunger.
  • Gamera films:
    • The Gyaos survive by feeding on human flesh.
    • This is subverted with Irys. We discover early-on in the film that it has a horrific way of feeding (ie. using the claws on its arms to impale and then drain the life-force of other creatures), but, its main goal is really to merge with Ayana so it can kill Gamera allowing the Gyaos to devour all of humanity.
  • Baragon from the Godzilla films, as depicted in Frankenstein Conquers the World.
  • The aliens in The Deadly Spawn are driven by hunger, and hunger alone.
  • The cannibal killer in The Forest (1982) is a crazy hermit who refuses to leave the cave he lives in, and hunts everything he can to feed himself.
  • Return of the Living Dead has an unusual example: they're driven to eat the brains of living humans because it's the only thing that dulls the pain of being a living corpse. This movie is the Ur-Example of zombies craving brains rather than just flesh.
  • The main antagonists of The Flesh Eaters are ravenous microbes that console all flesh they can get.

    Literature 
  • The villain in CM Kornbluth's short story "The Mindworm".
  • In the book World War Z, zombies eat any flesh, as long as it's living or almost fresh. Of course, zombies dont actually need to feed, being walking corpses, it's because the hunger response is the only thing their brains are still capable of processing.
  • It feeds off the fear and pain of the victims it devours and likes to target children because their fear is more "pure" and thus more potent. Without feeding, It will starve during its period of hibernation.

    Live-Action TV 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Possibly the Tarrasque. While it is possibly the most feared and lethal beasts in the entire setting, it seems pretty much mindless and is driven by hunger... probably. Fortunately, it spends most of its time sleeping, only waking up every five to six months or so, devouring everything in sight for a week when it does. Spelljammer suggested that in their default environment, tarrasque are far less destructive, being relatively docile lithovores, but unfortunately, most atmospheres has something they react adversely to (or lacks something vital to stop the reaction), hence mindless hunger as opposed to mere animalistic hunger.
    • Illithids must consume brains or the equivalent to survive, and reproduce via parasitic transformation of captured humanoids. Individual mind flayers can survive on animals, but the smarter, stronger-willed the mind of the consumed brain was, the more nourishing it is, so an illithid that has consumed an average human brain can go for a while without feeding again, while someone that goes for a rabbit will soon be hungry again.
  • Warhammer: The Ogres' lives are defined by hunger instilled in them by the Great Maw, the ever-hungry god they worship. They need immense, constant supplies of red meat to keep themselves going, and are constantly at war with each other and other nations to obtain food — both through hunting rights and wealth with which to buy more food and through much more direct methods.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Dark Eldar inflict pain, misery, and destruction and literally get younger to achieve a degree of eternal life and stave off Slaneesh's attempts to eat their souls. Haemonculi need to do this in a twisted, creative fashion on a daily basis or they'd wither away. Wyches perform gladiatorial fights on captured prey that the Dark Eldar attend, their faces and skin noticeably younger and healthier when they leave than when they entered.
    • The Tyranid Hive Fleets eat entire planets down to the bedrock. Why? Because they're hungry animals with very thorough digestive processes, and need biomass to create troops to defend themselves and secure more food with.

    Theatre 
  • The Gilbert and Sullivan play Ruddigore (1887). Centuries ago, the first Baronet of Ruddigore persecuted witches. As she was burnt at the stake, one of his victims cursed all future Baronets of Ruddigore to commit a crime every day, or die in agony. Every Baronet of Ruddigore since then has died when he couldn't bring himself to continue a life of crime. Luckily the current Baronet discovers a Curse Escape Clause.

    Video Games 
  • In Amnesia: The Dark Descent, a large part of the reason the main setting is packed with mutilated corpses is because protagonist Daniel sacrificed people regularly to ward off a formless horror fixated entirely upon killing him, and antagonist Baron Alexander needed a substance derived from the agonising torture of human beings to return to his home. They pooled their efforts.
  • In Mortal Kombat 11, Skarlet was saved from a life of crushing starvation on the streets when Shao Khan saw her potenial, took her under his wing, and taught her blood magic. She now needs to drink blood to survive, which she gets from killing her opponents, and tells other combatants that she's constantly hungry.
  • Monster Hunter has Deviljho, a monster that is ruthlessly overpowered, and is known for wiping out all local fauna because it is constantly HUNGRY! Other large monsters run from this menace, for fear of being eaten. If it runs into the corpse of a monster you killed, it will eat it to regain stamina. On a lesser level, many quests also come from farmers, traders, or the lake asking you to hunt a monster that's making their livelihoods difficult. Not out of malice, but because it thinks their pack animals or possessions make good eating. None of the monsters are evil, just eking out their own existence.
  • Played with in God Eater Burst. God Eaters who come off like this, including the Player Character, making comments during Devour attacks that suggest they feel their symbiotic weapon's desire to keep ripping chunks out of Aragami. While a bit creepy, the God Eaters do have complete control of the ability, downplaying the trope somewhat.
  • Everyone in the Junkyard in Digital Devil Saga is infected with a virus that turns them into demons. Demons need a substance called Magnetite to live, which is commonly found in humans or other demons. If anyone infected with the virus abstains from eating other people, they go berserk.
  • The Devouring Swarm Hive Mind archetype from Stellaris is incapable of ordinary diplomacy, and exists only to take and devour worlds. Even pacifists can freely declare war on the Swarm to stop it from growing and slaughtering.

    Western Animation 
  • Transformers:
    • The Insecticons in The Transformers. Their primary motivation is feeding and they have little interest in the Decepticon cause beyond whatever Megatron is offering to eat and will quickly turn on him when food runs out or they find a way to get what they want without him.
    • Scraplets, as seen in Transformers: Prime, are wildlife from Cybertron that swarm and devour anything metal they can sink their teeth into. The sight of one can elicit panic from even the most hardened Cybertronian warriors.

    Real Life 
  • Carnivores need to eat meat. Some carnivores are scavengers who primarily feed on the dead, but others are predators who have to kill other animals in order to survive.

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