Follow TV Tropes


King of the Dinosaurs

Go To
"Tyrannosaurus is the most superb carnivorous mechanism among the terrestrial Vertebrata, in which raptorial power and speed are combined."
Henry Fairfield Osborn, the paleontologist who coined the new genus in 1905

Ever since its discovery in 1905, Tyrannosaurus rex became the single most well-known and popular dinosaur, the greatest stock of Stock Dinosaurs. While it may not have been the biggest carnivorous dinosaur ever, it was probably among the most powerful and dangerous. It is certainly the most famous, mainly because it looks badass with its massive head, powerful jaws and sharp teeth. For this reason, it is often seen as one of both the scariest and most majestic creatures that ever lived.

Notably, it is also the only dinosaur popularly known for the whole scientific name (genus Tyrannosaurus, species rex) instead of just the first term. The meaning of the name is "tyrant lizard king", which helps its majestic image as King of the Dinosaurs. The correct scientific abbreviation of the name is T. rex, but in media, the variants T. Rex, T-rex and T-Rex also often show up.


Fictional T. rexes will almost invariably be presented as immensely strong and powerful, with thundering steps and a Mighty Roar (nevermind the fact that making so much noise would make them a very ineffective predator). Some works portray it as a horrifying Prehistoric Monster which, like all carnivorous dinosaurs, seems to really like the taste of humans, despite the fact that we're fricking tiny compared to it (imagine passing on a turkey dinner to run a mile for Chicken McNuggets). In works starring herbivorous dinosaurs, T. rex will often be portrayed as the villainous predator. However, other works tend to portray it in a more sympathetic light, as a badass, powerful, but noble creature, sometimes even a Gentle Giant. These works often pit it against less sympathetic carnivorous dinosaurs, such as raptors or Spinosaurus.


The only thing that undermines the badass image of T. rex is its short arms, which are often subject to ridicule, thought of as useless, scrawny, and weak. It is a common joke that T. rex is so ferocious because it is frustrated about its puny arms. As with all theropods, its hands are almost always depicted as pronated, when this is now considered impossible in real life. They are supposed to face each other, like a person about to clap.

A staple of fiction featuring Time Travel, Lost World, Living Dinosaurs or just gratuitious dinosaurs. For more information about the animal, see the Useful Notes Tyrannosaurus rex page. For creatures that aren't T. rex but obviously inspired by it, see T-Rexpy. See also Raptor Attack and Savage Spinosaurs for other carnivorous dinosaurs with similarly badass, terrifying reputation. See King of Beasts for lions getting a similar treatment among extant animals. For the glam rock band known as Tyrannosaurus Rex or T.Rex, see here. For the book sharing a name with the trope, see King of the Dinosaurs: Tyrannosaurus rex. Not to be confused with the video game Dinosaur King or its anime adaptation, though both of these feature an example of this trope.

Note: Just because a work features a T. rex, it is not automatically an example of this trope. As with other Animal Stereotypes, the examples should describe how the T. rex is portrayed as either fearsome or as noble and majestic.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Daikyouryu no Jidai: A T. rex serves as the main threat to a trio of kids, hunting them to no end (even somehow time-travelling all the way to the Stone Age) out of revenge for damaging its eye. The Neanderthals worship the tyrant lizard as a dreaded god that must be appeased with Human Sacrifice until the kids persuade them to fight back.
  • Dinosaur King: Terry the Tyrannosaurus is the first dinosaur owned by the Alpha Trio, a villainous group under Dr. Z who plans to use dinosaurs to Take Over the World. Terry is one of the most powerful dinosaurs and thus frequently used by the Alpha Trio against the heroic D-Team. He even has a rivalry with Max's dinosaur companion Chomp the Triceratops.
  • DinoZaurs: Dino Tyranno, the leader of the Dino Knights, takes the form of a T. rex.
  • My Girlfriend is a T-Rex: Churio is a T-Rex (misspelled as such in the title) in the modern world and, where dinosaurs survived and evolved into human/dino hybrids, alongside actual humans. And she's the girlfriend of Yuuma Asahikawa, the main protagonist of the story. While most of the rest of the dinos are integrated and act human, Churio is a bit of a throwback to savage interpretation of T. rex (initially eschewing clothing and regularly mauling technology).

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: On Ixalan, certain immortal dinosaur avatars serve as living embodiments of aspects of the plane's magic and of the Threefold Sun, the plane's main god. These can be of essentially any species of dinosaur or dinosaur-like creatures, but the most powerful ones that embody the god in its totality, such as Gishath, Sun's Avatar and Zacama, Primal Calamity, appear as large tyrannosaurs.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: An animatronic T. rex is featured as a centerpiece trophy in the Batcave and is often the first thing mentioned by newcomers. It was a gift given by Murray Wilson Hart, owner of Dinosaur Island theme park, to Batman and Robin after the latter stopped a criminal named Stephen Chase, who hijacked the theme park's animatronic dinosaurs to kill the Dynamic Duo. Hart actually gave two animatronic dinosaurs, a T. rex and a Brontosaurus. But only the T. rex is featured in the Batcave, likely because it fits with Batman's cool and intimidating motif. Night of the Owls reveals that he calls it "Fido". In the same story, he gets it to stomp on some attacking Talons to buy himself some time.
    Activate Fido.
  • Flesh: Old One-Eye might well be this trope incarnate. She's already 120 years old when the comic begins, and her age doesn't stop her from being established as the absolute ruler of the prehistoric world where the comic takes place, easily outclassing any and all other predators in the setting. Even after she dies— of old age, mind you, not from being killed by anyone— she still manages to kill an unlucky paleontologist who was crushed by her fossilized jaws.
  • Super Dinosaur is a T. rex genetically modified to be smaller and smarter - close but not-quite-human in both respects. Also, many of the villains are anthropomorphic dinosaurs; and one of the major ones is Tyrannosaurus X.
  • XTNCT: The leader of the group of rogue dinosaur soldiers is a Tyrannosaurus rex named Rex.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side: One strip depicts the "the awesome Tyrannosaurus Mex" ruling the land South of the Border.
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin in his fantasies often imagines himself as a Tyrannosaurus gorging himself on hapless humans or picking a fight with the ferocious saber-toothed tiger (Hobbes). Later strips has him more accurately terrorizing other dinosaurs in the Late Cretaceous. When asked to write a report of whether T. rex is a predator or scavenger, Calvin always sides with the predator angle on the grounds it makes the T. rex more cool. Then there was also the strip where Calvin put Tyrannosaurs in F-14s.

    Fan Works 
  • In Prehistoric Earth, several T. rexes are amongst the animals rescued for the titular park in the style of Prehistoric Park. Over the course of this story, the species is portrayed as equal parts fearsome and majestic; with one particularly notable individual named Sharptooth being an abnormally large individual that falls in line with the more fearsome side of the spectrum during his earlier appearances in the story (to the point of engaging in an Escaped Animal Rampage that allows him to showcase heavy resemblance in personality and behavior to Godzilla) before than showcasing the more noble and majestic side of his species' portrayal by virtue of being largely more of a Grumpy Old Man similarly to the Monsterverse incarnation of Godzilla while also forming a bond with and protecting petite blonde Kindly Vet Yolanda Hall in a style similar to King Kong.
  • Prehistoric Park Reimagined, much like the above mentioned Prehistoric Earth, features the species as being equal parts fearsome and majestic, with the family that gets encountered and rescued in their debut mission serving as The Dreaded to the majority of the local herbivores in Cretaceous Period Hell Creek and a fearsome Knight of Cerebus for the rescue team to encounter during their first three scenes in which they appear before then showing off their more noble and majestic side when feasting peacefully together on a kill directly before their rescue. And over the course of their subsequent time as residents of the park, the adolescent siblings Terrence and Matilda showcase opposing sides of the portrayal as they start to become increasingly antagonistic against each other as they grow older (with the former showcasing the more noble aspects while the latter showcases the more fearsome aspects) while their parents Tyrannor and Rexy continue to showcase a more balanced mixture of both the fearsome and noble portrayals.

    Films — Animation 
  • Fantasia features the T. rex as a nightmarish monster that all dinosaurs feared. It gets into a fight with a Stegosaurus and wins decisively. Though some fans mistake the creature for an Allosaurus, they pretty explicitly call it a Tyrannosaurus in the intro to the Rite of Spring sequence, and concept art also refers to it as a rex. It has three fingers simply because Walt thought it looked better that way.
  • The Good Dinosaur features a family of T. rex cattle ranchers as supporting characters. They are definitely the most badass dinosaurs that Arlo and Spot encounter, driving off other predators with sound of their mighty roars and teaching Arlo the concept of courage. Butch, the The Patriarch of the family, tells a story of how he drowned a crocodile in its own blood and has the scars to prove it.
  • The Land Before Time:
    • The Sharptooth is a feared Tyrannosaurus that hunts a group of young dinosaurs separated from the herd. This vicious T. rex can leap at great distances, survive great falls, and never gives up hunting its prey. Oh, and it killed the main protagonist's mother with one fatal bite on her back.
    • The film's many sequels would occasionally feature the Tyrannosaurus in either a cameo or as a typical predator trying to hunt the young dinosaurs. But none are as prominent or iconic as the baby T. rex named Chomper, who befriends Littlefoot and friends (due to somewhat being raised by them at first) and serves a Token Heroic Orc member of the group in the TV animated series. His parents, influenced by their son, demonstrate the nobler side of the Tyrannosaurus in sharp contrast to the original Sharptooth.
  • Minions: The Minions' only goal in life is to serve the most despicable master they could find and naturally, in the Mesozoic era, their master is a T. rex. And also naturally, they end up accidentally killing the tyrant lizard with a volcano, foreshadowing the unpleasant fates that await their future villainous masters (except Gru).
  • Speckles: The Tarbosaurus: Speckles is technically a Tarbosaurus rather than a Tyrannosaurus but they're both part of the Tyrannosauridae family. His Arch-Enemy is One-Eye, a villainous T. rex who personally murdered Speckles' family in a bid to rule their homeland uncontested and kill as much as he likes.
  • We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story: A friendly and clumsy Tyrannosaurus named Rex (voiced by John Goodman) is a deliberate subversion on Spielberg's part,note  but he's still the leader (and thus king) of the dinosaur group and tries his best to live up to his name. Rex does behave like a tyrannical brute in prehistoric past (before time travelers evolved his brain) and during his tenure as a freak attraction for Professor Screweye's circus.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Animorphs In a time-traveling Megamorphs special, the Animorphs encounter a T. rex and, of course, use the dinosaur as their go-to battle morph once they managed to acquire one (that morph was lost in the transition back to the present). Two of them, however, only had Deinonychus morphs. Rachel complains about this.
  • The Dinosaur Lords: In a world where knights and dinosaurs live together, it would be surprising to not see the tyrant lizard king. There aren't many Tyrannosaurs, but each of them (except for the old, toothless and blind Imperial Executioner) is feared and causes awe in all onlookers — and for a good reason.
  • Dinotopia: T. rex are portrayed as feared predators of the Rainy Basin that must be appeased with an offering of fish and eels for safe passage through the swamps. The only thing that scares off a T. rex is the larger Giganotosaurus. Journey to Chandara portrays some T. rexes who are scavengers, and don't actually hassle the unarmored human and tiny ceratopsian passing through.
  • Dinoverse: In the first set of books, a boy ends up inhabiting the body of a Tyrannosaurus rex, while three others ended up possessing different prehistoric creatures. On their quest to get back to their own time and bodies, they are menaced by "Moriarty", a giant Tyrannosaurus based on a T. rex fossil that was once suggested to be classified as a new species of tyrannosaur called Tyrannosaurus imperator. This one is perhaps justified, since it was one of the Imperator's bones added to the time machine which got it to take the kids back to that period in the first place. Other books feature different kids in the bodies of different dinosaurs from other periods of time, but there's always someone in each group in a huge theropod — Acrocanthosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus — which gets compared to T. rex.
  • The Magic Treehouse: A T. rex serves as the main antagonist for Jack and Annie, and an obstacle between them and the magic treehouse that could take them back to present day.
  • Nightside: The Museum of Unnatural History has a live T. rex in a cage and at one point, the Collector moves the entrance to his hideout there, knowing that the dinosaur's fearsome reputation will protect his most prized treasures.
  • A Sound of Thunder: A hunting party goes back in time to the late Cretaceous to hunt the T. rex, one of the greatest predators that walked the Earth. Then the T. rex shows up, causing one of the hunters to panic and accidentally step on a small butterfly which in turn causes a ripple effect across time where a Hitler-esque figure wins the US presidential election instead of the moderate candidate. Moral of the story: Don't hunt the king of the dinosaurs or you'll end up coming back to a dystopian future.

    Live-Action TV 

  • Jurassic Park (Data East): The T. rex is depicted as more fearsome than many other dinosaurs. Its multiball mode starts with dramatic rain appearing on the display before it attacks, and its toy on the playfield eats the ball while sound clips of a scared man crying "No!" play.
  • Jurassic Park (Stern): The various T. rex-centric modes generally show it in a fearsome light. They start with a depiction of it eating a goat via Second Person Attack, then escalate to things like chasing after the player's Jeep and wrecking the park's museum.
  • Police Force: In a World of Funny Animals where the player assumes the role of a police officer, the Big Bad is "Mafiosaurus Rex", a T. rex in charge of various lesser criminals.

    Theme Parks 
  • Back to the Future: The Ride: The former attraction at the Universal Studios parks involved the riders getting sent back to a primeval Hill Valley at the climax, where they were briefly menaced by an oversized T. rex that lives near a volcano and can almost swallow a DeLorean whole.
  • Jurassic Park River Adventure: The Tyrannosaurus rex is always the big finale of the ride, emerging from the waterfall to eat the guests just as the boat plunges down the 85-foot vertical drop to safety. Even when the ride is rethemed to a Jurassic World setting, featuring the bigger and badder Indominus rex, the T. rex's role remains unchanged.

  • LEGO: Starting in the late 1990s, the Tyrannosaurus rex began making its appearance in LEGO products, debuting in the DUPLO toyline but gained codified prominence in the Dino Island sub-theme of the LEGO Adventurers series. The T. rex later appeared in LEGO's other themes in various forms, often as the central piece of the sets.
  • Transformers: The T. rex is a popular alt-mode for many Transformers, especially Transformers of high authority:
    • Grimlock is an unruly Autobot who can turn into a robotic Tyrannosaurus rex as his alt-mode. He often commands a team known as the Dinobots in various continuities and sometimes, he even gets to command the Autobot faction as a whole. However, his temperament and not-so bright mind always brings trouble for the Autobots, especially for Optimus Prime.
    • Beast Wars: Megatron, leader of the Predacons, transforms into a purple T. rex. Naturally, his Maximal Arch-Enemy, Optimus Primal, transforms into a gorilla.
    • Transformers: Rescue Bots: Optimus Prime once adopted a T. rex alt-mode.

    Video Games 
  • Dino Crisis: The T. rex serves as your first true boss encounter (namely breaking through a window and trying to eat you), and you will have many encounters with that same T. rex, culminating into a Final Boss chase sequence. Dino Crisis 2 also features a T. rex as a primarily threat... until the Giganotosaurus shows up and kills it with ease.
  • Jurassic Park: Naturally, games based off the movies would feature a T. rex in some capacity or form. But these specific examples highlight the dinosaur's majestic and feared reputation:
    • Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis: In this park builder simulation, the Tyrannosaurus rex, based off the third movie's design, is a five star attraction and one of the most difficult dinosaurs to keep in its enclosure. The only dinosaur that surpasses the T. rex in terms of in-game popularity with guests is the Spinosaurus. However, unlike Jurassic Park III, it is possible for the T. rex to win a fight against the Spinosaurus.
    • Jurassic World: Evolution: A Spiritual Successor to Operation Genesis, the game features the T. rex as one of the most popular dinosaurs to feature in your parks. With a base dinosaur rating of 234, its presence will significantly boost the park's rating, though at the cost of high maintenance and security. A complete T. rex genome is need to create the Indominus rex and in the DLC pack Return to Jurassic Park, the T. rex is the last mission dinosaur to be added in the park and the only dinosaur capable of killing the rampaging raptors.
  • In the Fossil Fighters games, the Vivosaur version of Tyrannosaurus rex, T-Rex, is one of the strongest and most popular species and serves as the Series Mascot. In battle, it uses skills like "Tyrant's Roar" and "Law of the Jungle", and statistically has the highest attack in the game; as a trade-off, its signature fearsome traits make it terrible in the Support Zone, as it will heavily debuff the current Attack Zone Vivosaur if it ends up there. It avoids being a complete T-Rexpy by being revived from T. Rex fossils, and Fossil Fighters Frontier lets you fight a real T. Rex (along with other non-Vivosaur dinosaurs) late in the game and acquire it via an AR code, which uses similar moves but is Non-Elemental.
  • Lost Eden: The Tyrann, though in size and mobility they more resemble Albertosaurus with war claws than the classic Tyrannosaurus Rex. Either way, if they find you at least before you get your Instruments Of Fear, you're hamburger.
  • Luigi's Mansion 3: A caveman ghost boss named Ug possesses the central dinosaur skeleton in the Unnatural History Museum to attack Luigi. It's naturally a T. rex skeleton and you have to break open its ribcage to smack Ug out of there.
  • Pokémon: Tyrunt and Tyrantrum are fossil Pokémon based on the T. rex, although bulkier, scalier and more heavily armored than the actual creatures. They're referred to as the Royal Heir Pokémon and the Despot Pokemon, respectively, and due to its sheer physical power, Tyrantrum was the unchallenged apex predator of its time, where it ruled as a vicious and terrible king.
    This Pokemon is from about 100,000,000 years ago. It has the presence of a king, vicious but magnificent.
  • Super Mario Odyssey: The big selling point of Mario gaining the ability to posses creatures with his hat is a T-Rexnote  that appears early on in the game. It spends most of its time sleeping but when controlled by Mario, it's a force to be reckoned with. It's so powerful that you can only control for a short time before being forcibly expelled from the body. There are other encounters with the T-Rex later in the game in secret areas, but those feature the T-Rex wide awake and very hostile to Mario.

    Web Animation 
  • Mighty Magiswords: The Dinosaur Kingdom is ruled by King Rexxtopher, a cartoonish tyrannosaur wearing a crown.

    Western Animation 
  • Dinosaucers: A T. rex named "Genghis Rex" serves as the leader of the Tyrannos. Funnily enough, the leader of the heroic Dinosaucers is an Allosaurus, the first of many Bash Brothers-ish counterparts that make up the cast.
  • Dinosaur Train: A Pteranodon family is the main focus of the show, but the lead protagonist is Buddy, a young Tyrannosaurus rex who was adopted by them. There's also a T. rex family featuring a young Tyrannosaurus named Annie.
  • Extreme Dinosaurs: T-Bone, the leader of the heroes, is an anthropomorphic T. rex.
  • Kung Fu Dino Posse: Kane, the leader of the group, is a human-sized T. rex.
  • Primal: The show features the two variants of Tyrannosaurs depicted in fiction; the noble variant in the form of Fang, Spear's partner, and the fearsome variant in the form of the horned Tyrannosaurs, who are responsible for the death of both Fang and Spear's families.
  • Xiaolin Showdown: In the episode "Oil in the Family", Wuya uses the Rio Reverso to revive a female T. rex from a massive oil drum with the intent of creating a dinosaur army to devour her enemies. But when the tyrant lizard gets her intelligence boosted, she turn on her master and plans to revive the dinosaurs for her own agenda. This newly hyperintelligent T. rex acts like British upper-classman and is apparently well-versed in the rules of Jurassic Chess during her Xiaolin Showdown with Raimundo.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Tyrannosaurus Rules


Luigi's Mansion 3 Floor 9 boss

The Boss Ghost Ug possesses the bones of a T-Rex to attack Luigi.

How well does it match the trope?

4 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / KingOfTheDinosaurs

Media sources:

Main / KingOfTheDinosaurs