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Monster Munch

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"Why do giant monsters eat people? Human beings are mostly water. Their tissues and fluids retain flavors and other residues from their blood. Their bones have a brittle quality. Their skin is warm and pliant. Thirst-quenching, well-seasoned, crunchy and yet chewy: People are the Elvis of snack food."

A character is Monster Munch if they're only there to be killed — and often eaten, hence the trope name — by whatever menace is lurking in the shadows. Their death usually comes within a scene or two of their introduction, and it's literally the first thing of importance that they contribute to.

Often, this character's death is also the first time other characters, or the audience, sees the monster. Or else it's how we find out that the Killer Rabbit is not your average fluffy bunny, or it's how we learn exactly what special abilities the monster uses to kill you.

Whatever the circumstances, the only point of their death, and therefore of their existence, is to show off the monster and what it can do.

This trope differs from Sacrificial Lamb in that the death isn't to provoke an emotional response (although it may do that) from characters or the audience, but for more practical purposes, though these two can be combined, especially in the case of the Victim of the Week. When a Monster Munch is given any characterization, it's usually a quick Kick the Dog moment to make them an Asshole Victim.

Simply dying to tell us about the monster doesn't fulfill this trope. A character is only Monster Munch if they have no other role than as a snack.

This character is often a Red Shirt (or sometimes a Mook, because monsters rarely have any allegiances to anyone and aren't always particularly discerning). The distinction is that in this trope the character is killed by a monster or animal for 'animal' reasons, typically for food. They needn't be literally eaten to fulfill this trope, though: the creature in question might, for instance, drink their blood, or lay eggs in them (although this is unlikely to qualify unless it's a very short gestation).

Note: In Europe, there actually is a popular type of snack called Monster Munch, but this trope isn't about that, although it is where the idea for the name came from.

Not to be confused with Monster Mash.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan: The majority of the 104th Trainee Corps, outside the Top 10. Erwin notes they are unusual for having suffered their first casualties prior to enlisting in their chosen Branches.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • During the arena execution scene in Attack of the Clones, one of the Geonosian picadors pokes the nexu with an electro-pike. The nexu gets pissed off, pounces, and eats him.
  • The Friday the 13th films have plenty of these, as befitting an iconic Slasher Movie franchise with a very high body count, but few are more obvious than the biker gang in Friday the 13th Part III, who exist solely to harass the protagonists in the first act before they meet the business end of a machete.
  • Played with in Galaxy Quest. In the original TV show, Guy Fleegman played a One-Scene Wonder Red Shirt who "got eaten by a lava monster before the first commercial." Because of this, he spends most of the movie freaking out that this is precisely what's going to happen to him (especially given that no one seems to know his last name). By the end, though, he's willing to make a Heroic Sacrifice to save the ship and the Thermians, and Fred points out that maybe he was really the Plucky Comic Relief all along. In the end, not only does he survive, but when the show is uncancelled, he's recast as the Security Chief. For some irony, when Sarris sneaks onto the bridge and kills everyone during the climax, Guy is the only one not killed/mortally wounded before Jason activates the Omega-13 and reverses it.
  • Godzilla (2014): Jainway, Whalen, and the rest of Serizawa and Graham's colleagues at the Janjira Black Site exist solely to be slaughtered by the sheer havoc of the male MUTO's adult emergence and escape, establishing how this thing is so massive and powerful that it can decimate even the most well-prepared echelons of humanity without even trying.
  • Jurassic Park:
    • When the T-rex gets loose in San Diego in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, there's a brief shot of a random civilian being eaten. He was never seen before, and presumably not since. For added humor, he's played by the film's screenwriter, David Koepp (given how unpopular this film was, this could be seen as his "punishment") and is listed in the credits as "Unlucky Bastard".
    • In Jurassic World, we have a double header example when the Mosasaurus chomps down on both an angry Pteranodon AND the unfortunate secretary in its talons. This may be intended to be foreshadowing, given the fact that the Mosasaurus ends up killing the film's antagonist.
  • Sirs Bors, Gawain, and Ector in Monty Python and the Holy Grail are introduced in the "Tim the Enchanter" scene for no other purpose than to be killed by the Killer Rabbit. Ector and Gawain aren't even named until after the rabbit kills them.
  • Most of the Saw movies, save for the first and Jigsaw, have an opening victim whose entire purpose is to show the audience how one of Jigsaw's brutal death traps works, so as to get the crowd pumped for the murder and mayhem to follow. Many of these scenes are similar: the victim wakes up to find themselves trapped with a clockwork contraption poised to kill them, a tape plays in which Jigsaw outlines what the victim did to find themselves in their predicament, and then the game begins.
  • The three punks at the beginning of The Terminator are there solely to establish the ruthlessness of the antagonist (and provide him with some clothes). There's also a bit where Reese has a dream/flashback about the future where he's fighting a Hunter-Killer. While he does manage to destroy it, it kills another soldier fighting alongside him in one shot.

  • The prologue of A Game of Thrones features three characters, two of whom immediately die at the hands of the Others, proving that they do exist after all (the third one escapes... only to be summarily executed for desertion). Somewhat subverted in that they both come back as wights, so this isn't, strictly speaking, their only role.
  • Ensign Davis in the prologue of Redshirts exists purely to be eaten by a Borgovian Land Worm. Another unnamed ensign got eaten by an ice shark off-screen. Since the book's premise is turning the titular trope inside-out, the presence of Monster Munch shouldn't be surprising.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A young Carmine Giovinazzo in the very first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who pretty much is only there to be killed by the vampire and is credited only as "Boy".
  • Supernatural's Cold Opening usually involves a random civilian being killed in spectacular fashion (and often eaten) by the Monster of the Week.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: While Red Shirts died in great numbers in the show, they're sometimes killed by the Monster of the Week, often in the first scene.
    • "Obsession": A couple of red shirt security personnel are drained of blood and killed by the vampire cloud in the opening scene.
    • "The Devil in the Dark": Two miners and an Enterprise Security man are destroyed by the Horta's acid secretions, one in the first scene.
    • "Wolf in the Fold": Several women are slaughtered by the "Jack the Ripper" entity during the episode. One of them dies before the opening credits.
  • Various small mammals in Dinosaurs existed only to be the dinosaurs' food, even though they were sentient and sometimes had dialogue.
  • Lost: The Pilot gets killed by The Monster right after he is seen. The only other thing he does that's important is always wear a ring, and that only briefly comes up in Season 4.
  • Squatina from Planet Dinosaur.
  • Happens every so often in Doctor Who (especially nuWho, which has the credits run about five minutes into the episode) and more often than not we don't get to see the monster.
  • The X-Files LOVES this trope, especially in its Monster of the Week episodes, so listing all of the examples from there would make this page too long.
  • Many herbivores from Walking with Dinosaurs serve as nothing more than prey for the carnivores.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Traveller Double Adventure 5: The Chamax Plague, one of the NPCs who accompanies the PCs on their mission is Cal Yotisk. The referee is encouraged to use him as the first victim of the alien Chamax to show the PCs what they're up against.
  • Basic Dungeons & Dragons supplement GAZ1 The Grand Duchy of Karameikos, adventure "Toys of the Madman". The PCs and a few NPCs are kidnapped and placed in a dungeon. Some of the NPCs are there to be killed and eaten by monsters to show the PCs what they're up against.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, the necrons were introduced by having them wipe out an entire convent of Sisters of Battle, Sanctuary 101. Fits here because in that edition the necrons existed purely to kill any living thing they came across.

    Video Games 
  • In the second level of Half-Life 2 the Combine start headcrab-shelling the outskirts of City 17 to try and kill Gordon. At one point you get to watch as a headcrab latches on to a civilian's head and turns it into a zombie (or Mercy Kill him before he gets assimilated, whichever floats your boat).
  • In Hogwarts Legacy, hapless Ministry of Magic official George Osric joins Professor Fig and the Player Character on their trip to Hogwarts, only to get promptly eaten by the dragon that destroys their carriage en route.
  • The Resident Evil series has plenty of these.
    • Robert Kendo in Resident Evil 2 serves little other purpose than to be devoured by zombies shortly after Leon arrives at his gun store.
    • Both Spanish police officers in Resident Evil 4 are captured and killed by the Los Illuminados cult after dropping Leon off. Leon arrives just in time to see one of them being fed to Del Lago, a monster living in the lake.
    • Resident Evil 5:
      • Reynard Fisher, an undercover BSAA agent, is introduced in the first level to brief Chris and Sheva. Shortly after, he is captured and beheaded by the Plaga-infected villagers.
      • Allyson, a civilian, is briefly seen calling for help before being dragged to her demise from a balcony. Her name is not even discovered until after her death.
    • An unnamed man joins Leon and Helena in Resident Evil 6 as the latter two escape Ivy University, only to be devoured by his infected daughter minutes later.
    • The Sewer Gators, a trio of paranormal investigators in Resident Evil 7, are introduced mostly to show the brutality of the Baker family. All three are trapped within the house and murdered by the family’s members.
    • An old man in Resident Evil Village becomes monster food less than a minute after ambushing Chris with a shotgun.
  • Lester and Sarge in StarCraft. They're a pair of luckless Confederate troops who appear in a single cutscene that ends with them being killed offscreen by a pack of zerglings and hydralisks, although they get a Call-Back in StarCraft II.
  • Cooper, the radio man in the first Dino Crisis, doesn't even make it through the opening cinematic before a T-Rex snarfs him down like a bonbon.
  • While Star Trek Online normally avoids this, unlike the source material, the PVE event "Hive: Onslaught" has one. In a cutscene, the Odyssey-class starship USS Houston gets one-shotted by a Borg Unimatrix's plasma lance purely to show off the extra One-Hit Kill attack the devs gave the thing for this PVE.
  • Stanley is this to Tubba Blubba in Paper Mario 64.
  • Mechanical version from Star Siege. One of your missions has an NPC lieutenant and his squad going off to investigate some unusual radar signatures while you patrol your base. Before long, he calls back in a panic with the sound of missiles and beam cannons going off in the distance. If you didn't skimp on your radar equipment, you can actually detect the moment that he and his squad are effortlessly wiped out within seconds of each other. This is your introduction to the Executioner Cybrid superheavy HERC.

  • Charby the Vampirate: Most of the human characters met by Charby early on, and almost everyone that runs into Munchie.
  • Surviving Romance: Jihyeon Lee is killed off-screen by a zombie shortly after her introduction, only to later show off its ability to take on the face of anyone it consumed.
  • White Rooms: In #7, a lady bursts into the same room as the main characters, sobbing about her number. A few panels later she is killed by the first black monster shown in the comic.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in Gravity Falls with Gorney, who literally first appears seconds after the Summerween Trickster and gets eaten to prove the Trickster isn't all bark and no bite. Subverted when he survived to happily declare "I've been traumatized!"
    Remember me!
  • Parodied in the Futurama episode "Murder on the Planet Express" with Scruffy the Janitor's heretofore-unseen apprentice Jackie Jr. Subverted in that his death, and that of all the other victims, was staged.
    Farnsworth: Oh my, adrift in deepest space with a vicious alien killer aboard! Any one of us could be next. Fry, Bender, Jackie Jr., Leela—
    (Monster descends from the ceiling and snarfs up Jackie Jr. in one gulp.)
    Bender: (aside to Fry) That took longer than I expected.