It's small. It's fluffy. It's adorable. And if you get on its bad side, your death will be swift and painful. Beware the cute ones.
Related to but distinct from Fluffy the Terrible, as well as being sort of a subtrope to Our Monsters Are Weird, the Killer Rabbit is any monster that's far more dangerous than it looks. Maybe it's strong for its size, poisonous on a massive level, has flesh-rending pointy bits that aren't readily apparent, or can just turn into something far more dangerous. Either way, it can make a person wary of picking on small, defenseless animals, much like the Old Master can make a person more eager to respect their elders. In many cases, the creature isn't even all that harmful unless you actually mess with it, whether intentionally or not.
This trope takes its name from the "Dread Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog" in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which seems to be a completely ordinary bunny rabbit, with the notably unusual ability to leap through the air at high speed and tear out people's throats.
This creature is also known as a "Vorpal Bunny", a name which comes from the monster of that name in the original Wizardry game from 1981, possibly inspired by the Monty Python movie and is named after "The Vorpal Blade", a fictional sword used to decapitate the title creature in the Lewis Carroll poem "Jabberwocky". The name also spread (via Dungeons & Dragons) to other games such as Quest for Glory and Ultima Online.
There's enough truth behind this that one of the first things many children are taught is "don't try to play with any animal until you know it's friendly." (Another lesson, learned later in life by many, sometimes too late, is: "Animals can become unfriendly pretty damn fast.")
Specific types of Killer Rabbits include Evil Girl Scouts and Ridiculously Cute Critters that are secretly evil. Civilizations that are more dangerous than they look are Superweapon Surprises. Killer Rabbits are the most notable subversion of What Measure Is a Non-Cute?, which is pervasive enough for everyone to assume that cute animals are friendly.
This trope is pervasive enough that if any of the Five Races in games seems to be cute and harmless, they would by definition have to be occasional Killer Rabbits to make them viable to play.
For cases where the Killer Rabbit is a literal rabbit, see Hair-Raising Hare.
Psycho Poodle is another subtrope of this.
Compare: Happy Fun Ball, Beware the Nice Ones, Pint-Sized Powerhouse, The Catfish, Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, Cute, but Cacophonic, Badass Adorable, Super-Fun Happy Thing of Doom, and The Not-So-Harmless Punishment. If the video game character becomes a Killer Rabbit only when you hamper him, then he's Savage Setpiece.
Contrast Paper Tiger, which looks menacing but is virtually harmless.
Not to be confused with Kill da Wabbit.
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- Knights of the Dinner Table. There was the 'squirrel as a fifth level monster' from the strip "The Most Dangerous (Small) Game". Also llamas in B.A.'s campaign have horns and gore people.
- Twisted Toyfare Theatre usually brings in unpopular characters in order to gruesomely kill them for a Take That!. The Ewoks, however, instead became a race of vicious, psychopathic Killer Rabbits who dismember, kill, and eat anything that crosses them. Mostly because they are little carnivores with no regards for intelligent life, from the original canon.
- In Naruto Genkyouien, the Kyuubi no Kitsune is revealed to be the kitsune version of a five year old, named Higashiyama Sayuri. An adorable girl, the youngest daughter of a large family of many sisters and nieces, who wouldn't have become a Kyuubi if it wasn't for Kitsune Poker Night. The rampage of destruction and the attack on Konoha? She discovered her giant fox form and chased her tails. However, she also happens to be really, really good with fire. Meaning she tends to set everything on fire or blow them up. And then there's the Pwetty Beam... She's still a little girl of course. Just a very powerful one. And clumsy...
- In a literal example from the same author as Naruto Genkyouien. The Tamers Forever Series does a very convincing job of showing BlackTerriermon to be a far more competent fighter than one would assume given his harmless-looking appearence.
- Then there's the original Terriermon going toe to toe with Daemon during the second to last chapter.
- In Ranma ½ Fan Fic Girl Days, Nabiki got morphed into a literal bunny girl during an arc. And she was not happy about it. She rambled over killing the idiot had turned her into that, and fetched a lot of firearms to do right that. The author even reinforces the trope:
Here the author inserts an explanation. Most people think of rabbits as cute peaceful creatures— unless they have read Watership Down.DOMESTIC rabbits may be that way, but wild rabbits can be quite belligerent, fight ruthlessly, and are pretty tough for something on their link of the food chain.And Nabiki, who would normally stay back and say that it's not her problem, was at the moment in full blown berserk wild rabbit mode.
- Almost every spinoff of the Nuzlocke Challenge ends up with an adorable, harmless-looking, low-tier Pokemon that dishes out disproportionate amounts of hurt. A classic example is Petty's Butterfree, Lulu, who gleefully curbstomps two of Kanto's Elite Four under her own power.
- In The Black Bunny Voldemort's animagus form is a fluffy black bunny.
- In The Lion King Adventures, the wild Mambo beasts are deceptively cute critters who hunger for animal flesh.
Simba: You can't just kill them. That's way too mean!
Haiba: You've gotta be kidding me! They're wild Mambo beasts! They're vicious killers with a hunger for the fleshy... flesh of cubs like us.
- A Growing Affection has Sol, Hinata's preferred familiar. She is a three-foot long albino squirrel. Unlike many of the other ninja animal clans, the squirrels are more trackers, scouts, and messengers than fighters. Sol is an outcast among her (normally black furred) clan because her albinism causes her to stand out. As a result, she is even more timid and apologetic than her contractor. She also helped Hinata seal the Two-Tails Cat (to be fair, her brother, Neji, and Tenten also helped) and when her Berserk Button was pressed went toe-to-toe with an Impure World Resurrection version of Tayuya.
- In Fallout: Equestria, Angel Bunny becomes this, becoming known as "DoomBunny" to the Zebras. He even invents and regularly uses Stampede, the equivalent to Slasher.
- In The Sorting Hat's Stand one of the creatures Harry populates his mindscape with as a defensive measure is a vorpal bunny.
- In Harry Potter, Unexpected Animagus Luna's animagus form is a Very Carnivorous Rabbit.
- In Harry Potter and the Rune Stone Path Harry manages to find Luna a Crumple-Horned Snorkack, which turns out to be an adorable, docile sheep-like creature that likes to lick people. During the Final Battle the very same animal kills several members of Voldemort's troops by tearing their throats out.
- We never see the battle against it, but in Sword Art Online Abridged, one of the floor bosses is "Sheeptar the Sheep King," a wall-crawling, acid-spitting nightmare.
Kirito: We're still talking about a sheep, right? Not, like, a fluffy xenomorph?
Asuna: It's a really stupid boss!
Kirito: Apparently not that stupid if it killed seven of you...
Asuna: (sigh) Twelve now, actually.
- Pokémon Reset Bloodlines makes it clear that cute/small Pokémon should not be underestimated:
- In Step back in time a potion mishap creates an unspecified number of vampire rabbits.
- The eponymous critters in the Frank Hayes filk song Little Fuzzy Animals are examples of this trope.
- "Dogz Don't Kill People (Wabbitz Do)" — courtesy of Mouldie Lookin' Stain, a.k.a. Chris Moyles.
- "Chosen Ones" by Megadeth is all about the killer rabbit from Monty Python.
- "Kitten Is Angry" by Lemon Demon
- Attack of the Radioactive Hamsters from a Planet near Mars, by "Weird Al" Yankovic.
- "Killa Bunnies" by Moloko is about exactly what it says in the title.
- The pink teddy bear in the music video for "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons. It seems like it's getting curb-stomped by the monstrous stuffed gorilla like all the other living stuffed toys fighting in the arena, but then it takes it out in one glowing-energy-punch — and then destroys two human goons with Eye Beams.
- Valak from the Ars Goetia manifests in the form of small, innocent-looking child with wings, yet he is the Grand President of Hell.
- The Al-mi'raj, from Islamic poetry is a literal version of this. Looks like an ordinary bunny with a large horn. Is a voracious carnivore that will fearlessly kill and eat creatures several times its size without effort, and vicious and territorial to the point where witchcraft is the recommended way to deal with one. Bear in mind that witchcraft is strictly forbidden in Islam.
- The Jackelope is another quite literal example. It looks like a jack rabbit with a tiny pair of deer antlers but eats the hearts of predators that normally eat rabbits.
- Greek Mythology had sheep with wool that shined like the sun. They were also partially carnivorous and venomous.
- As a general rule, messageboards such as Spacebattles.com generally agree that the sillier a character is, the more dangerous they are because they are not bound by the laws of reality and able to do things like shrug off nuclear explosions and swallow man-sized creatures whole. If a "wacky cartoon" character appears in Real Life, it would be considered, as an entity above and beyond the laws of physics, an Eldritch Abomination that will shatter all science but simply taking A Form You Are Comfortable With. As a result, the higher they place on a Cool vs. Awesome combat tier, and folks such as Bugs Bunny and Kirby are described as being able to Curb-Stomp Battle more (relatively) "realistic" characters like Space Marines, Jedi or Master Chief.
- Not physically dangerous, but the subjects of the website Disapproving Rabbits can cause a severe feeling of inferiority. Especially this one.
- Krypto the Super Dog may be a cute white puppy, but as Plumbing the Death Star spins it, he's also an invincible, lightning-fast alien monster with the strength of a locomotive and no capacity. If anyone upset him, there'd be no way to calm him down before the amoral hound ripped out their jugular. There's a reason he gets voted the third most horrifying hero ahead of the likes of Wolverine.
- In the the radio show Old Harry's Game, Satan finds the most evil being in the world is a Dolphin. Called Chuckles.
- In one episode of A Prairie Home Companion, cowboys Dusty and Lefty come across "The Free-Range Chicken", which they then engage, and nearly lose to, in a gunfight.
- Bleak Expectations: A pack of under-water squirrles, who are capable of biting arms off, and chase Pip Bin, and his aunt, across the length of Britain for revenge after Pip ate several of them.
- Subverted with the killer sloth ("Nature's deadliest and slowest assassin!"), who is expected to violently kill Pip, his sister Pippa and best friend Harry Biscuit... only for it to remain asleep, even with the assistance of coffee. It then gets blown up along with the building it and the protagonists were in.
- The South Sydney Rabbitohs have won the more premierships than any other Rugby League team in Australia.
- The Pittsburgh Penguins. Penguins are not exactly known for their toughness.
- The Werebears toys were seemingly adorable teddy bears with reversible heads and paws that would reveal their "nasty" face when turned inside out.
- Aurora's Monster Scenes line of model kits featured a very fearsome-looking "sabre tooth rabbit" in a large jar as part of the Mad Scientist Laboratory kit "Gruesome Goodies."
- Fiesty Pets, which look like harmlessly cute animals at first, but when you squeeze their backs they bare their fangs and scowl.
- After playing Hatoful Boyfriend to completion, Chukar partridges feel like singly terrifying little fluffy heretics.
- Thanks to the other characters, the "Bad Boys Love" route, and the sequel Holiday Star, fantail pigeons and king quail are not far behind on the list of adorable birds that you will fear forever. Bad Boys Love reveals Yuuya and "Kazuaki" to be murderers, and Holiday Star ultimately reveals what happened to the real Nanaki Kazuaki.
- Umineko: When They Cry has the Chiester Sisters, very cute and innocent-looking rabbit girls who can detect you, lock you on and shoot you dead with absolute precision from a kilometer away. Their arrows are homing and armor-piercing, so hiding is useless.
- The Bunnykill web animation series. A liberal exercise in the trope of Killer Rabbitry (and Katanas Are Just Better).
- The Metal Gear Solid short "Crab Battle!", where Naked Snake gets his ass handed to him by a Kenyan Mangrove Crab.
- Happy Tree Friends has several small animals that are for some reason vicious. Whistle, the man-eating puppy, a man-eating baby turtle, and a flock of man-eating ducks have all appeared. Plus, well, most of the cast.
- This short animated film Red where Little Red Riding Hood refuses the advances of the wolf (who looks like a slightly feral child wearing a wolf costume) after spilling the cakes she was going to bring to her grandmother. After leaving brokenhearted, Red encounters a unicorn-horned rabbit, which she hugs (not noticing the evil toothed grin it makes before mutating into a bear-sized horned monster that was ready to devour Red before the wolf comes back in time to save the day.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Puppy Bot, the friendly, child-sized, bulletproof axe murderer. And if you survive, be sure to check out the man-eating ponies in his van.
- Sock is an adorable ever-smiling hamster. He is also a demon that destroys an entire city with his army of monsters from hell.
- The series True Tail includes a small rabbit girl named Melody the Bard. Not only does she have a lute, she has a whole plethora of ninja daggers!
"Aaaaaawwwwww, look at the cute little AAAAH OH GOD MY ARM IT ATE MY ARM OH GOD THE PAIN!"