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Monstrous Cannibalism

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"Looks like meat's back on our menu, boys!"
Uglúk (after cutting off the head of another orc), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

To display how vicious, ravenous, or just plain evil a predatory species is, writers often have the strong among them literally prey upon the weak. While cannibalizing outsiders or eating sapient creatures is nasty enough, doing so to members of one's own social group is indicative of betrayal as well as cruelty, suggesting an evil or Horror Hunger so indiscriminate that no-one is exempt.

With non-sapient creatures, Monstrous Cannibalism conveys how voraciously hungry the predators are and may indicate that their species as a whole is starving and desperate. For sapients, it demonstrates a ruthlessness that bodes ill for any other species they interact with: if their instincts or culture make eating their weaker fellows a standard practice, what hope might a stranger have of being spared? In either case, seeing them turn upon their own for food is often what pushes a species over the Moral Event Horizon into being monsters in the eyes of the audience, not just beasts or antagonists.


Subtrope of I'm a Humanitarian; often a supertrope to Cannibal Tribe, if the tribe eats its own as well as enemies/strangers. Compare To Serve Man, in which victims from outside one's social group are preyed upon, and No Party Like a Donner Party, in which cannibalism is an abhorrent last resort. Contrast No Zombie Cannibals and Ape Shall Never Kill Ape.

May result in a Food Chain of Evil within the group. A common way for the Monster Lord to establish its dominance over its underlings. Sometimes overlapped with Always a Bigger Fish.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk: During the Enoch Village fight, Isidro is disgusted to observe that the trolls devour their own wounded as well as humans and livestock.
  • In Bleach, Hollows eventually devour each other to gain power and go up the Sorting Algorithm of Evil. Adjuchas are practically forced to do this or else they will revert back to Gillian's, but lose their personalities forever.
  • Cells at Work! CODE BLACK: This is how apoptosis (cell death and recycling into raw materials) is depicted. When an old red blood cell dies in the Liver (herein depicted as a titty bar), one of the dancers takes him out back and devours his corpse.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: The titular demons aren’t seen or commenting on preying each other, they normally prey humans since that’s their means of sustainment, but according to the 2nd Databook the most powerful of the elite Twelve Kizuki demons, Kokushibo the Upper-1, has consumed other demons in a display of utter dominance over those below him, particularly doing so against demons who tried to challenge him for his Upper Rank 1 spot; the only one who Kokushibo hasn’t eaten after daring to fight him is Akaza, Kokushibo really held high hopes for the Upper-3 to become a suitable rival towards him, allowing Akaza to challenge him several times throughout the years.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Pride devours Gluttony despite them being essentially two parts of the same being.
  • The Greatest Magicmaster's Retirement Plan: Fiends become stronger by eating mana, but they can also generate mana, which means they can eat each other to become stronger. Fiends who get stronger this way are known as Variant fiends and usually require several skilled mages to take down.
  • Heterogenia Linguistico: Dragons apparently see nothing wrong with eating their dead, though Hakaba is shocked to find out the meat he just ate is from the parent of the dragon he just met. When he asks his traveling companions how they would feel about being eaten after death, they all seem fine with it as well. Susuki even seems offended by Hakaba refusing to eat her if she died. Later on in the middle of a blizzard, they have to resort to eating one of the people in the camp who didn't survive the cold. Most of these cases are different species eating each other, though.
  • Inuyasha: Subverted. When fighting the youkai brothers Hiten and Manten, Manten is killed by the team, and Hiten pulls out and eats his brother's heart (manga only; in the anime, he bites into Manten's head). While the main characters think it's hideous that he's eating his brother, he's actually absorbing his brother's powers and the Shikon Jewel Shard embedded in his brother to defeat the people who killed his brother. Hiten even says outright that he believes that eating his brother will allow them to be together even after Manten has died. Still gross, but not as depraved as this trope usually is.
  • Monster: The in-universe Czech children's story that gives the series its name revolves around a nameless monster that split itself in two, then travelled in different directions to find a name. After the monster of the east travels to an unsuspecting kingdom and completes its Assimilation Plot, he runs into the monster of the west. The monster from the west doesn't see the point in hiding their true nature by becoming people, so the monster from the east eats the monster from the west.
  • At one point in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Evangelion Unit 01, piloted by Shinji, is battling an Angel when it suddenly loses power. At that point the Eva very suddenly frees itself from its restraints, finishes off the Angel, and begins eating it savagely. It counts as cannibalism since the Evangelions are secretly Angels.
  • One Piece: Charlotte Linlin unintentionally did this to Mother Carmel and her friends at the orphanage. At her 6th birthday, Linlin was presented with a giant dish of her favorite sweets. She got so excited that she teared up, and unable to see past the tears, started devouring everything fervently. When she finally came to her sense, all the food was gone, some of the table and chairs were gone, and everyone had disappeared, leaving behind scraps of clothes. Linlin subconsciously repressed this memory till this day.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Kyuubey combines this with a bizarre case of Autocannibalism when he's shown to devour his own corpse after it gets blasted by Homura and the new one appears. In this case, it's half this trope and half of the Incubator's fanatical desire to prevent entropy and avoid wasting energy.
  • Tokyo Ghoul: The titular species is stated to engage in this, though attitudes vary heavily about it. Some frown on it, primarily because Ghoul flesh is stated to taste unpleasant, while others take pleasure in hunting weaker Ghouls for sport. It is noted that cannibalism is more common in the most violent Wards, partially because eating their own kind actually increases the cannibal's strength. Some cannibals even experience a mutation and gain the rare Kakuja-type kagune. In a twist, protagonist Kaneki Ken makes other Ghouls his primary food source after the time skip in order to become more powerful. Others note the serious toll it takes on his sanity.

    Card Games 
  • Cardfight!! Vanguard: The Tachikaze clan has this as its schtick. When some Tachikaze cards attack, you can sacrifice one of your other units to give them power boosts and new effects. It becomes especially apparent with the name of their clan's keyword: Engorge.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Zombies: The intelligent undead are quite open about the fact they'd like to devour one another, but are balked from doing so by the fact that zombie flesh tastes unbearably awful to them. A few stubborn ones try anyway but have to spit out any bites they take out of a fellow zombie.
  • In Skull Island: The Birth of Kong, a comic miniseries spin-off from Kong: Skull Island, the ravenous pack reptiles called Death Jackals are alleged to hunger specifically for the flesh of their own kind. They even eat their OWN limbs!

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): At first in this Godzilla MonsterVerse fanfiction, this trope is defied by the human-turned-chimera Titan Vivienne Graham, who understandably doesn't want to eat Alan Jonah's troops when she hasn't even had time to come to terms with the fact she isn't human anymore. Ultimately, this trope is Zig-Zagged: later in the story, Monster X has no compunctions against eating pieces of other, hostile Ghidorah-derived creatures for their internal energy, and the lack of a cannibalism taboo is mutual among the vicious Ghidorah-related antagonists.
  • The Bridge: The Gyaos here are far more mindless and primal than most kaiju, and reflecting their animalistic nature will often turn to preying on weakened or injured members of their own flock to sate their insatiable hunger. The Albino Hyper Gyaos's narration mentions that she had to fight off members of her own flock countless times when they tried to attack her. This finally comes to head after being heavily injured by Mothra in a fight and she's forced to slaughter the remainder of her flock in self-defense.
  • Digimon Adventure 02: The Story We Never Told: A lesser, humorous example; Tentomon — a Digimon resembling a large beetle — refers to regular mosquitos as 'cannibals' when they bite him.
  • In Shadowchasers: Power Primordial, Taramanda devours her underlings as a form of execution for the worst of failure, and it is hinted that this is common for the ophidia. She has Hebi-Na broken out of prison simply to kill her this way; Hebi-Na survives because she is able to share information. (Very relevant to the plot.)
  • Hero's Harem:
  • Partially Kissed Hero: Goblins have no problem with eating their own dead.
  • The World is Filled with Monsters: In its introduction, Blightweaver casually devours the corpse of one of its fallen daughters. When Vermillion is shocked at this, Blightweaver calmly remarks that it ate its daughter because it is in its nature to consume everything.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Amazing Spider-Man, the horrifying impact of Connors' reptilian transformation is graphically expressed when Peter discovers the lab rodent which Connors had imbued with similar abilities, transformed into a half-lizard mini-monster and messily devouring its former cagemate.
  • Arachnophobia: As with most spiders, these are said to eat their own. The only reason why the barn is devoid of any normal spiders is because the Queen eats any that go near.
  • The Bad Batch, set in a desert to which people are exiled for unspecified crimes, features a gang of cannibals who devour their captives one or two limbs at a time.
  • Bloodthirsty: The shots of the movie's ending reveal wolf!Grey eating her birth father Vaughn's remains (who's also a werewolf).
  • Dam Sharks: After the first dam explodes, an underwater shot shows several of the bull sharks reacting to blood in the water. One bumps sideways into a smaller shark, grabs it, shakes it until it goes limp, and swims off chewing on the carcass.
  • In Daybreakers, desperate vampires who can't afford the rising cost of the dwindling supply of human blood resort to feeding on their own kind or themselves. Such cannibalism accelerates their transformation into subsiders.
  • Deep Blue Sea: The super-smart sharks are said to prefer eating other sharks, presumably to remove competition. The researchers feed an unmodified tiger shark to the genetically engineered makos, which quickly proceed to tear it apart. However, at no point do the enhanced sharks target each other, making it seem more like pack competition than sheer bloodthirstiness.
  • Doctor Sleep: To show how inhuman they have become, the members of the True Knot greedily consume the Steam emanating from Grandpa after he dies.
  • The Food of the Gods: Mrs. Skinner claims that her adult chickens, which hadn't grown any larger from eating the Food, were all eaten by the baby chicks that did become giants.
  • The Taotie from The Great Wall carry home the corpses of their slain siblings to feed back to their queen.
  • In Galaxy Quest, when the team comes across a group of blue teletubbie-esque creatures, one of them is injured so is offered some water by its friends, until the others immediately jump it and start to eat it.
  • The Girl With All the Gifts: This is implied to occur among the feral children. After Melanie beats their leader to death, they're seen eagerly clustering around his body.
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth: One of the pack of Slurpasaurs is killed by Hans, and its carcass is immediately devoured by the others.
  • In Jurassic World, the Indominus rex is revealed to have had a sibling that she killed and devoured as part of the story establishing that she's dangerous, savage, and mentally unbalanced.
    Owen: What happened to the sibling?
    Claire: She ate it.
  • In Karate a Muerte en Torremolinos, the ninja zombies eat their victims. Malvedades also bites the heart of one of the Human Sacrifices.
  • In The Last Man on Earth, Robert keeps finding the drained corpses of vampires in his yard, as the savage ones which besiege his house have been living off the weakest of their own number.
  • Implied to be why, in Lifeforce, there are only three intact space vampires on the alien ship when it's discovered by humans, plus dozens of desiccated Bat People corpses.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, orcs will resort to cannibalism if other meat isn't available. The Two Towers has a scene in which an orc captain executes one of his soldiers for disobedience, then declares "looks like meat's back on the menu, boys!" as the rest of his men tuck into the corpse. This is averted in the books, where orcs have a very specific taboo about orcs eating the flesh of other orcs, though they have no issues about eating other sapient races, and don't seem to mind other creatures eating the flesh of dead orcs.
  • Lost in Space: The space spiders immediately eat any of their number who are injured. This turns out to be a Chekhov's Gun when Future!Smith (who's been mutated into a Half-Human Hybrid by being bitten by one) is eaten alive after being stabbed.
    "They eat their wounded."
  • In The Meg, the second megalodon makes its debut on-screen when it lunges up onto the research vessel's deck and seizes the carcass of the first meg, presumably to chow down on. The conclusion of the final battle, in which hundreds of normal-sized sharks converge on the mortally-wounded second meg and devour it, is technically an aversion: yes, they're ravenous sharks, but not the same species of shark as their victim.
  • In Pandorum, when Bower, Manh, and Nadia kill one of the Hunters, the rest of its pack show up and immediately start to devour its corpse.
  • In Pitch Black, when the last survivors are running to the shuttle, Alien Blood starts falling all around them from the flock of creatures above the canyon. It appears that the ravenous creatures have begun killing and eating one another in midair.
  • In Reign of Fire, the gigantic male dragon pounces on and catches one of the smaller female dragons, presumably to eat. The humans who witness this conclude that the dragons must be starving.
  • In Superman Returns, after Lex Luthor swindles his step-family out of their fortune, he leaves the house for a time, leaving two little Pekinese dogs behind. Later, when he and his gang return, there is one dog licking a pile of bones that has some fur around it. Lex's girlfriend, Kitty, comments "weren't there two of those?"

  • Animorphs:
    • Taxxons suffer from a Horror Hunger so extreme that they will dive down and eat anything wounded in the area, be it humans, other Taxxons, etc.; in one horrific case, a badly-maimed one started to eat itself.
    • The series Big Bad Visser Three when frustrated often kills his own men. One horrific case involved shapeshifting into the natural predator of the Yeerk species, the Vanarx, and eating them.
    • Visser Three's twin brother goes even further, grinding up and eating fellow Yeerks because it allows him to survive without kandrona rays.
  • In Chess With A Dragon, the mantis-like aliens' culture incorporates cannibalism of one's rivals or inferiors, to such a degree that "gracing the table" is a standard penalty for anyone that loses badly while gambling. Two of the ones involved in the novel's conspiracy actually formed their alliance by working together to ensure another's loss at the gaming table, purely because they think the targeted player looked tastier than the others.
  • C. S. Lewis:
    • The Pilgrim's Regress: John and Virtue come upon a dragon hoarding its gold. In the dragon's poem is a line like "At times like these I wish I hadn't eaten my wife." He did so not out of hunger, but out of greed and paranoia regarding the gold.
    • The Screwtape Letters: This is the fate of demons who fail and the ultimate fate of Wormwood (by his uncle Screwtape himself). A demon's natural prey is human souls; eating other demons is their way of filling in the gap and cutting out incompetents.
    • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: When Eustace gets transformed into a dragon after finding a dragon hoard, he starts eating the remains of the real dragon before he realizes what he's doing. The narrator notes that this is because dragons are dragons' favourite food.
  • Cthulhu Mythos:
    • In The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, it's mentioned that ghouls traditionally eat their own wounded after a battle, although Pickman has been discouraging the practice.
    • "The Lurking Fear": At the end, one of the odd-eyed subterranean monstrosities turns on a weaker companion and eats it. To the narrator's eyes, it looks like a routine practice.
  • Deptford Mice: Rats are known to eat each other. After Jake emerges from the temple of the Raith Sidhe after his battle with Fletch, Audrey is sickened because it is clear to her that he feasted on his opponent's body.
  • Destroyermen: The Grik, a species of sapient dinosaurs, eat each other all the time. They prefer eating other species to preserve their numbers, but they won't hesitate to send a handful of Uul (or incompetent Hij) to the cookpots if nothing better is available.
  • In The Dinosaur Lords, Shiraa kills and eats a fellow Allosaurus after the latter bothers her for too long. Played with in that Shiraa isn't evil — she's simply hungry and acting according to her instincts.
  • The Dresden Files: In Turn Coat, the fae spiders threaten Harry on the Way to Edinburgh, so he kills one to make the others back off. As he departs, he notices the others drooling as they gather around their dead comrade; next time he passes by, there's just drained-dry fragments of exoskeleton left there.
  • In The Edge Chronicles, shrykes are perfectly willing to kill and eat their own species, especially when they are young and in a blood frenzy. Mother Muleclaw III in particular devoured her own siblings as soon as she hatched, something which was noted as a good sign for a future roost-mother. This works against them when Mother Muleclaw is killed in battle — without her leadership, the young and inexperienced shryke army disintegrates and eats itself.
  • In Foundation and Earth, Trevize is cornered by feral dogs on the deserted planet Aurora. He shoots one to try to scare the pack away, only to watch the survivors eagerly devour the dead dog's remains.
  • Fragment: Every creature on Henders Island is so ravenously carnivorous as to do this any time one of their own kind is dead or wounded. Indeed, the native hendros' standard means of evading packs of predators is to kill or maim the largest one in the group, thus causing its fellows to break off pursuit so they can devour it.
  • Garrett, P.I.: In Faded Steel Heat, Venable the thunder-lizard keeper insists that his guard-dinosaurs only eat fresh meat, not carrion. Their preference is so strong that, given a choice, the larger males would rather kill and eat the smaller males than munch on a carcass they didn't hunt down themselves.
  • Gor: In Beasts of Gor, Tarl and his friend are being hunted in the Gorean Arctic tundra by a pack of wild sleen, tenacious hunting mammals with six legs. Tarl's friend sets a trap: a knife with a piece of meat, its hilt frozen in a large slab of ice. One of the sleen bites the meat off the knife, slicing its mouth in the process. It then tries to lick the blood off the knife, slicing its tongue further. The other sleen, smelling blood, kill it and eat it.
  • In The House on the Borderland, the Recluse kills several of the pig-things which are besieging his house, and another pig-thing promptly starts scavenging from the carcasses. Repulsed, the Recluse shoots it as well when he realizes what it's doing.
  • How to Survive Camping: In "Why We Don't Keep Horses", the strange dapple stallion eats meat of all kinds, which is quite nastily shown when it kills and eats the other horses.
  • InCryptid:
    • Finfolk are Metamorphosis Monsters that slowly transform from a humanoid body to a mermaid one, while also losing their memories of life on land and higher brain functions. Eventually, truly old finfolk become gigantic fish with no intelligence to speak of, and show no hesitation in eating their own children and grandchildren. This goes the other way as well, since according to second stage finfolk the third stage finfolk are delicious.
    • Waheela are known to eat their own cubs if hungry enough. Istas was born into a litter of five. By the end of winter, there were only three left.
  • In Jurassic Park, the raptors are seen eating their own wounded, as well as raptor eggs. It's suggested, however, that this was because they were raised in captivity, and that they never did it in the wild.
  • Ology Series: In Dragonology, hydras feed chiefly on other dragons' hatchlings — although they'll happily eat humans if no baby dragons are around.
  • Redwall: Rakkety Tam introduces wolverines as a new villain species. How do we know they're much worse than all the previous series' villains? Because they eat each other! And other beasties too, but the whole series is a little vague about that.
  • Simon R. Green:
    • Forest Kingdom: In the Hawk & Fisher spinoff series' book 2 (Winner Takes All), when showing itself to a group of people at one point, the Lord of the Gulfs (a Transient Being embodying famine) demonstrates its power by calling up a huge crowd of ghostly figures in the last stages of starvation. At its bidding, the ghosts turn upon each other, screaming in horror at their own deeds even as they devour each others' ectoplasmic flesh and bones.
    • Ghost Finders: In the first novel, the ravenous shark-vampires turn upon and devour their fellows every time the agents manage to injure or kill one.
    • Secret Histories: From the used-to-be cars in Little Stoke, to the piranhas in Crow Lee's fountain, to the huge monsters that besiege Drood Hall in the alternate reality, a lot of nasty critters feed on their own dead or wounded.
  • Solomon Kane: The flying harpy-like creatures from "Wings in the Night" are alleged to have eaten their own kind when drought depleted their usual prey.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: The Cannibal, one of the wild dragons that lived on Dragonstone during the Targaryens' civil war, got its name from its habit of eating dead dragons, young dragons, and other dragons' eggs.
  • Terry Pratchett:
    • Discworld:
      • Going Postal: When junior postman Stanley tries to parley with Mr. Grylle, suggesting he use the post office to send a letter to his grandmother, Grylle matter-of-factly replies that he ate his grandmother. The impression conveyed is that wild banshees don't consider this unusual.
      • Snuff: Downplayed. Goblins are known to eat their young, a fact repeated by the average racist (99% of the Disc's population) to prove they're "evil beasts". What is not widely known is that goblins only do this when faced with famine that would guarantee the death of both mother and child, and that the mother then makes a special pot to contain the child's soul until it can be reborn, hopefully under better circumstances.
      • Unseen Academicals: History depicts the race of orcs as savage warriors that devoured their own dead after a battle. Whether this really happened is unclear, although Nutt's ability to revive when stabbed suggests that fallen orcs vanishing from battlefields because they got back up again may have been misinterpreted as proof they'd been eaten.
    • Strata: Zigzagged with the Shand, a race of civilized carnivorous aliens. On the one hand, going unfed for longer than a couple of days reduces them to a feral state in which they'll kill and devour other sapient beings as readily as animals, and they sometimes experience cravings specifically for Shand meat. On the other, they are a civilized people who will encourage other races to Mercy Kill them if they're starving before they can go wild, and their cannibalistic inclinations are accommodated by a voluntary dueling tradition.
  • In Trail of Lightning Maggie and her grandmother are attacked by cannibals on her sixteenth birthday. It's implied that after the Big Water some people did this to survive, but in this specific case they're outright gleeful about it.
  • In The Traitor Son Cycle, the Wild creatures have no taboo against consuming sapient beings and one of their most important post-battle rituals is eating their fallen enemies, even if they happen to be of the same species.
  • The Voyage of Máel Dúin: Island no. 8 is populated by large horse-like animals who rend out pieces of flesh from each other's flanks, "so that out of their sides streams of crimson blood were breaking". The voyagers flee in terror at observing this.
  • In The Wheel of Time, it is often said that Trollocs "will eat anything, so long as it's meat." They prefer humans, but will eat their own if it's convenient — trollocs are very lazy. This actually works to their advantage in war, because they need no supply lines: after a battle, they just cook up their own fallen.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Grimm: The Hundjager are said to consume their mother from inside the womb. They have been shown to be cold, unmerciful, and relentless trackers and assassins who usually work for the Verrat.
  • Lost Tapes: it's right there in the title of one episode: "Wendigo: American Cannibal". A group of campers become lost in the mountains and a search and rescue team goes to find them. It turns out that one of the campers has begun turning into a wendigo and picks off the campers AND the rescue team one by one, and is never caught.
  • Penny Dreadful: In "Good and Evil Braided Be", Dracula brutally lashes out at a minion who dared speak to Vanessa and thus disrupt his plans, flinging the wretch against a wall, then gives his other familiars permission to feed on their hapless fellow. They pile on ravenously and tear their former companion apart to get at every last drop of his blood.
  • Predator Wars: A severe drought-hit South Africa. Several lionesses find a leopard dragging a kill into a tree, and in desperation one of the lionesses climbs up the tree after it (lions typically avoid climbing trees due to their weight). She successfully pulls the leopard's kill out of the tree (the leopard having escaped by climbing higher than the lion can), but when she tries to get out of the tree herself she falls and breaks her back. The other lionesses eat the leopard's kill, and when the dead lioness falls out of the tree they eat her as well.
  • Primeval: The team catches a baby raptor in a shopping mall and uses it as bait to set up an ambush for an adult that's still on the loose. They expect that, being from the same pack, the adult will come to the crying hatchling's aid, but it pounces on and eats the leashed juvenile instead.
  • Stargate SG-1: The Goa'uld sometimes engage in ritual cannibalism of other Goa'uld (which are really parasitic snakes possessing humans) to show them as Always Chaotic Evil.
  • Stargate Atlantis: The vampiric Wraith are shown to not be averse to feeding on members of their own species. This practice increased significantly during the Wraith Civil War, since there were not enough humans to go around (the Wraith having been woken up early from their hibernation), and fellow Wraith are the only species other than humans that they're capable of feeding on.
  • In Supernatural, the Leviathan race are expressly shown to be cannibalistic to emphasize their voraciousness. For instance, the monsters' leader Dick Roman consumes one of his minions alive for losing a holy tablet to the Winchesters. He punishes another underling by making him eat himself.
  • Sliders: In "Dinoslide", the Sliders return to the world where dinosaurs did not go extinct but are an endangered species, just to find out that all dinosaurs are now dead except for one particularly tough T. rex who ate the other rexes after they ran out of prey.
  • The Wheel of Time: During Season 1's third episode, one Trolloc eats another wounded Trolloc.
  • The X-Files: The ending of "Our Town" implies the cannibals ate their leader.
  • Z Nation: By Season 3, the zombies are becoming desperate enough to avert the No Zombie Cannibals trope. Murphy and 10K witness a rolling ball of zombies attempting to eat one another.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: This trope applies to many evil races:
    • This is a particular hallmark of sahuagin culture, in which the maxim "meat is meat" is used to justify their preying upon everything from other races to deformed sahuagin hatchlings to their own dead.
    • Dragon Magazine's article "The Ecology of the Flind" attributes this gnoll subrace's physical superiority and fearsome reputation to their tribes having ritually preyed upon regular gnolls for generations, ensuring only those flinds who could best an ordinary gnoll will ever breed.
    • "Volo's Guide to Monsters" claims that regular gnolls are happy to cannibalise one another if food becomes scarce during extended peacetime. Sometimes, a gnoll shaman will resurrect the bones of devoured gnolls as a type of undead called "Witherlings", allowing them to continue participating in hunts without it depriving the surviving gnolls of precious food.
    • "Volo's Guide" also claims that the creatures known as Yuan-Ti are descended from humans who mutated themselves into Snake People through rituals that involved cannibalising their slaves and prisoners - an act which represents them rejecting a humanoid mindset of being bound by taboos and morality, in favor of embracing a much harsher, dispassionate, reptilian mindset.
    • Mystara: Subverted in depictions of trolls. While they readily chomp on one another whenever they're feeling peckish, their regeneration powers ensure that any troll who's nibbled upon will quickly and painlessly recover. It's implied that some man-eating trolls are actually inoffensive by nature, but simply too stupid to grasp that non-trolls they try to make friends with don't like having their arms or legs bitten off.
  • Games Workshop games:
    • Warhammer:
      • The Ogres' Chaos-resistant metabolism is such that they are perpetually hungry and can eat vast quantities of food, while their society is tribal and social status is usually earned by fighting and killing your superiors (often your siblings, parents — or on the flipside ambitious children and grandchildren trying to usurp you). Add to this that they live in the bleak and inhospitable Mountains of Mourn, where resources of all kinds must be carefully husbanded, and in ancient times they were cursed with an angry god of gluttony and consumption called the Great Maw, and cannibalism becomes an endemic part of their lifestyle and culture. This is so common that having a body part eaten is a common penalty for losing a contest — a friendly match will typically result in the winner just taking an ear or a finger, but a serious competition will end with the winner beating the loser to death and devouring his cooling corpse.
      • The Skaven also practice this kind of cannibalism, but with them it's played up as much more to do with low viciousness, culling the weak, dark warp-driven hungers, and the fact the race is constantly on the verge of starvation because it breeds so explosively. Newborn Skaven are also known to devour their siblings, which is seen as a sign that they will grow to be strong and notable.
      • Many Orc and Goblin tribes also behave this way, though in their case it's simply a matter of pragmatism and a complete lack of sentimentality over the remains of the dead.
    • Warhammer 40,000:
      • The Tyranids consume all lifeforms, including their own units once they're no longer needed. Hive Fleet Hydra is particularly known for this, intentionally seeking out the remnants of previous defeated Hive Fleets to consume as fuel for their infamously exceptional reproductive abilities.
      • Played straight with Chaos Space Marines, but averted with loyalist Space Marines, some chapters of which have flesh-eating or blood-drinking as part of their rites for millennia, and aren't about to explain or justify themselves (Astartes can absorb memories from what they eat) to an outsider, leading to mistaken impressions and Inquisitiorial attention.
      • For the Kroot, eating other sapients is their way of life, as they're able to modify their DNA based on their diet. Consequently, in addition to eating their enemies, they also consume their own dead in a highly ceremonial manner. They're very aware of the effect they have on other species and like to play up this aspect to ensure they're left to their own devices.
      • Orks, like in Fantasy, are this as well, dining on Grots and Squigs regularly despite all of them coming from the same type of spores (although Orks eating other Orks are rare, but not unheard of). The Squigs are this too, as they will often eat whatever they can get their maws around. The only Orkoid lifeform that doesn't eat another Orkoid is the Gretchin, and that's largely because they're too small to eat anyone else.
  • Kobolds Ate My Baby: While kobolds consider human babies to be the tastiest thing in existence, other kobolds are a very close second.
  • In Nomine:
    • Haagenti, Demon Prince of Gluttony, began life as a lowly demonic familiar and reached his current extent in large part by eating his way up the ladder — his ascension to Princely status was marked by his devouring the Princes of Sloth and Oblivion.
    • One of the most straightforward ways for ethereal spirits to grow in power is to kill and consume other spirits whose Image resembles their own. The closer the resemblance, the greater the benefit — a spirit in the form of Jack the Ripper would have to go through thousands of humanoid killers to get the same power boost as he'd get from consuming another Whitechapel Murderer. As a result, ethereal society is often ruled by paranoia and a ruthless food chain, although most established Domain enforce strict rules about dueling and feuds in order to avoid degenerating into cannibalistic free-for-alls.
  • Pathfinder:
    • There is no food as dear to a neothelid as the flesh of its own kind. They find cannibalism to be a euphoric experience, and in their species' early days large numbers of neothelids perished to their conspecifics' hunger. This practice has almost entirely ceased in modern times, however, as the neothelids' low numbers, slow reproduction, and many, many enemies mean they cannot afford to kill one another anymore.
    • Furcifers are predatory, chameleon-like beasts that are born as plantlike seedlings that later mature into animals. Multiple furcifer seeds will typically sprout in the same spot; the first to grow a body and become mobile will then consume its siblings as a first meal.
    • Empress bore worms arise when a swarm of ordinary bore worms starves to the point of cannibalism. The last worm left will grow to tremendous size, devouring everything in its path, before expiring and releasing a new swarm of normal-size offspring from its carcass.
  • Shadowrun has something show up from the depths of the Metaplanes in 5th edition, an eldritch entity that is briefly brought into the world because a group of researchers decided to see what would happen if ghouls were made to eat their own. Given that there's a lot of talk about the drastic measures the ghoul nation of Asamando has resorted to in order to avoid famine, it's strongly implied that this happening to a nation is a matter of "when," not "if."
  • The World of Darkness:
    • Vampire: The Masquerade:
      • Vampires can completely consume another vampire's blood to eat their soul and steal their power, which is one of the few ways for vampires to lower their Generation.note  This activity is so common it has its own name: diablerie. This is considered to be the sole irredeemable deed that a vampire can commit, which is also why it's extremely common on the Sabbat side of vampirism.
      • The Nosferatu clan lives in mortal terror of a "brother clan", sired by the same Antediluvian, known as the Nictuku, whose raison de etre seems to consist solely of hunting down and eating Nosferatu.
      • The Nagaraja bloodline are highly obscure and loathed by most who know about them because of their particular flaw: They have to rely on human flesh as well as blood. Quite a lot of flesh. It helps that they have shark-like teeth to aid in this endeavor. Oh, and that they're necromancers.
    • Vampire: The Requiem:
      • In 1st edition, once a vampire hits Blood Potency 6, they cannot sate their thirst on anything less than the blood of other vampires.
      • In 2nd edition, this still applies, but vampires can also take a Merit called Unnatural Affinity that lets them consume blood from other supernatural beings as well, and all vampires can take nourishment from "inferior blood" if they're willing to spend Willpower.
      • As in Masquerade, vampires can devour each other's souls in an act called diablerie for a power boost.
      • The Nosferatu bloodline called the Noctuku are apex predators to apex predators, preying on other vampires' blood and flesh. While Noctuku are normally loners, they're known to form Cannibal Clans called clutches that systematically prey on other vampires. If their activities are ever discovered, they're hunted by vampires unironically enforcing the double standard that only humans should be hunted and killed. As you might surmise, they're a Mythology Gag/Shout-Out to the Nictuku above.
      • Another bloodline, the "En", are also cannibals... but of the megalomaniacal king variety. They gain power over a city and give free rein to their dark appetites, creating children only to feed on them later (unless their child gets the drop on them).
    • Werewolf: The Forsaken: In the 2nd edition, Primal Urge inflicts dietary restrictions based on its potency similarly to Requiem's Blood Potency. At the highest level (8-10), one of the few things that a werewolf can eat anymore is the flesh of other werewolves.

    Video Games 
  • Arcanum: The chapter of the manual dealing with Orcs notes that they prefer to cannibalise rather than bury their dead. It's also an accepted orcish custom for an orc mother who gives birth to triplets to present one of the newborns to the father, who eats it in celebration of his own fertility; this is done in part because, while twin births are more common than singletons among orcs, three babies at once is considered too much for the mother to deal with (since she only has two arms and two breasts).
  • The Battle for Middle-earth has Mordor do this to orcs. Mountain Trolls (but not Attack Trolls) can eat the human-sized orcs to regain health. Orcs can also be made to kill and eat each other for experience, or sent to the Slaughterhouse and turned into resources.
  • In Bendy and the Ink Machine, Susie relies on ink from other ink beings in order to somehow stabilize her own form and make herself "more beautiful".
  • Chimera Beast has the Eaters, one of which you play as. In the final level, the regular enemies contain other Eaters which the player's Eater can eat, and the Final Boss is a much bigger Eater who's higher up on the food chain than the player.
  • Chrono Trigger has the Hydraconda enemy, who will sometimes "counter" attacks by attacking and eating another Hydraconda, healing their own HP by the HP of the victim.
  • In Dragon Age, the darkspawn are known to kill and eat each other when there's nothing else available. Even though they don't actually need to eat at all.
  • Downplayed in Eastshade: although the only bait that will reliably catch the very large, very old sandfish "Old Pops" is a regular-sized sandfish, nobody points out that it's this trope or holds the big fellow's eating habits against him. He's simply so large, there's nothing else big enough in the lake to sate his appetite.
  • In Elona, cannibalism causes one to go temporarily insane unless one undergoes a mutation that makes them OK with eating other people. From that point on, they'll kill and eat anyone they encounter, each other included.
  • Fallen London: It's implied that Seekers of the Name will eat other humans when their Horror Hunger is out of control. Your character can do it too, if you're a Seeker.
  • Gwent: The Witcher Card Game: The Monsters faction has access to the Consume mechanic, allowing their units to chow down on each other and gain power equal to the unit that was destroyed.
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park: The fourth Raptor level pits you against other Velociraptor, which you can eat to regain health.
  • In Mass Effect 3, you encounter a new type of mooks called Cannibals, batarians who were turned into husks by the reapers. Their special ability is to eat their own kind in order to restore health, showing how much of a monster the reapers have turned them into.
  • Monster Hunter:
    • Monster Hunter 3 (Tri): The Deviljho is a giant predatory Brute Wyvern that will eat anything and everything, including other Deviljho and its own tail. It's theorized that this is what causes it to turn into a Savage Deviljho.
    • Monster Hunter 4: The Seltas Queen can summon a Seltas to serve as her thrall in battle. However, she's also perfectly willing to eat said Seltas if she runs low on stamina.
    • Monster Hunter Generations: The Astalos is prone to eating its own babies if given the chance since they look like its favorite snack of Neopterons.
  • StarCraft:
    • The Primal Zerg kill and eat other creatures in order to absorb their genes and become more powerful. They gain the most essence by eating one another.
    • In StarCraft, the Defiler can eat other Zerg to regain energy, with an ability called Consume. This is transplanted to Infested Kerrigan and the Zerg Samir Duran.
  • Miranda, the player character of Steel Harbinger, is a Half-Human Hybrid after nearly being assimilated by alien pods into one of the half-machine hybrids. And she regains health and extra lives by devouring other hybrids she killed.
  • Super Cyborg is set in a time where earth has been taken over by assorted monstrosities caused by an out-of-control mutation outbreak; at one point you can come across a giant insect called a Captured Bedlaah about to be devoured by a Giant Spider called a Akhamafold Octopod. It does seem odd that two monsters spawned from the same virus would cannibalize each other.
  • In The Last of Us Part II, the player character can feed Runnersnote  to Clickersnote  by using the grab and drag mechanic to shove a Runner into a Clicker, which will promptly devour its fellow infected.
  • The Plague Eaters of Darkest Dungeon 2 have the ability to devour fallen allies for health and a moveset upgrade; or take a bite out of allies with the "Fodder" status effect for health. Enemies with "Fodder" aren't killed by the attack, by the way.

    Web Animation 
  • An interesting subversion in the fifth and final episode of Dinosauria, "The Last Tyrant". The female T. rex is shown in the aftermath of the asteroid impact to have partly consumed the carcass of her mate who died in the cataclysm. However, this does not paint them as monstrous, even earlier showing them affectionately nuzzling as they guard their nest of eggs, and in fact highlights her desperation to survive in a devastated world, perhaps one of the rare uses of this trope to make a character more sympathetic.

    Web Original 
  • The skull-faced giant worms infesting the "living cavern" SCP-2385 have been observed via drone-camera to swallow one another whole. The giant mummified pterosaur dubbed SCP-4959 frequently ingests its smaller pteradactyloid minions along with the prey they bring it.
  • Hamster's Paradise: The manical ripperoo is willing to sometimes work in coordinated groups to take on more difficult prey but most of the time they will cannibalize one another to remove competition with even the mothers encouraging their pups to use their own weaker siblings as hunting practice. These cannibalistic tendencies are carried over to their sapient Always Chaotic Evil descendants, the Harmsters, but one tribe in particular, the Frazettas, take this even further and feed almost exclusively on smaller Harmsters or on the Brutes, the animalistic descendants of rival Harmster species. However, this trope is also given a Deconstruction/Surprisingly Realistic Outcome as this propensity to eat the flesh of their own kind gives rise to a horrific disease that is spread by eating infected flesh and by biting that destroys the Harmsters after a massive world war weakens them.

  • Awful Hospital: The Eye Slob has demonstrated a willingness and, indeed, eagerness, to devour others of his kind, and levels up from doing so.
  • Charby the Vampirate: The Demon King Samrick has eaten his own subjects on occasion. Certain demons have a tendency to eat each other as well, so when he hosts a party in his grand palace he has to stipulate that there will be no killing or eating of fellow guests along with a dress code.
  • Drowtales: Food is chronically scarce Beneath the Earth, and drow (especially homeless lowborn) will eat each other when desperate enough, and they're in such dire straits by the time the comic takes place that this is fairly common.
  • The Gamer: When negative emotions fester, they form weak monsters variously called minions or scraps in instant dungeons. On their own, they pose relatively little threat, but they become stronger monsters more universally called demons by eating each other. Jee-Han still feels queasy seeing that happen in front of him despite how strong he's gotten and how long he's spent in the Abyss.
  • Modest Medusa: The protagonist's mother eats her own children on a monthly basis. This is exactly as horrifying to protagonist and reader as it sounds, made worse by how their species attain sapience around the same time that the adults get "hungry".
  • Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger: When the Kvrk-chk are introduced, it's stated that they devour their dead on the spot, at social gatherings it's considered common courtesy to tear off a limb as a gift to the host, and their youngest adults have to disperse far from home every thirteen years to avoid being eaten by their younger siblings. To say nothing of their attitude towards other sapient races.
  • Scurry: When a member of Erebus' pack breaks his leg trying to attack Atlas, Erebus declares that he's no use to the pack anymore and the unfortunate wolf is promptly set upon and devoured by his packmates, highlighting the wolves' savage and Always Chaotic Evil natures.

    Western Animation 
  • Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: According to the first episode, whilst monsters find the idea of eating humans to be disgusting, they don't have quite the same aversion to eating each other. This is made drastically clear in the same episode, where the Gromble eats one of his students for having a running nose. Yes, he spits off to the side a moment later, but it's unclear if he's spat out the student or just the excess mucus from the student.
    • In "Krumm Goes to Hollywood", the Gromble chews Ickis up like gum and inflates him into a balloon as part of his efforts to force a confession about Krumm's presence.
    • In another episode, the Gromble swallows Krumm, chews on him, and then violently spits him across the room.
    • In fact, the Gromble does this so much his toy comes with a unique small monster student figure to chew on.
    • Another episode involves Ickis, Oblina, and Krumm babysitting a "bonsty" — a newly born baby monster. Unfortunately for them, this one belongs to a species that, for the first 24 hours of its life, eats everything in sight, favoring other monsters. It almost eats the Gromble!
    • In "The Rival", a stressed-out Oblina threatens to have Ickis for dinner when he tells her that she's imagining the rivalry between herself and new student Smeldra.
  • Gravity Falls: When we are introduced to the leader of the Manotaurs in "Dipper Versus Manliness", an elderly member of the tribe steps into view... and is promptly seized and devoured by the actual, towering leader.
  • Primal (2019): In "Spear and Fang", the horned tyrannosaurs are either the same species as Fang or at least a closely related species. This does not stop them from seeing Fang's offspring as prey.
  • Samurai Jack: In "Jack Tales", Jack encounters a family in the middle of the woods. The baby seems dead set on eating his sword and they all attack Jack, fighting over it. Eventually Jack slices the mother's face off, revealing a robotic interior. The family collapses into infighting as they tear the plating off and reveal themselves as robots, trying to eat each other. Jack wisely backs off and leaves them to their fate.
  • In Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Zorak (a giant mantis) mentions that his mom ate her dad, and he himself ate his little cousin as he mentions it during a family reunion. His uncles don't seem to have a grudge, though.
  • In The Transformers, Skullcrusher, a Decepticon who transforms into a crocodile is noted in his bio of having the habit of consuming any Autobots he kills. This is something that not only freaks out Autobots but also other Decepticons because Transformers don't need to eat anything besides Energon.
  • Trollhunters:
    • Gatto, the leader of the Volcanic Trolls, frequently eats his minions "by accident" when they bring him food and tries to eat the main party twice.
    • It's implied that Gunmar and the other Gumm-Gumms ate the Changelings of the Janus Organization after deciding they were no longer useful, since all that's left of them when Jim and co. return is bones.

    Real Life 
  • Rodents:
    • Hamsters. Especially mother hamsters. No wonder "Your mother was a hamster!" is truly a grave insult.
    • In Australia, the decimation of rodents' natural predators in a farming community caused an explosion in the rat population. In desperation and starvation, the stronger rats preyed on weaker ones until they virtually died out.
    • Happens often on ships that are adrift. Once the resident rats have eaten all the victuals, they turn upon each other. In the end, the rat population is decimated by such cannibalistic predation, with the last few hardy fighters starving when there are no more weaklings to kill or rat carcasses to scavenge.
    • Pet rats or mice are sometimes found dead and half-eaten by their companions. Usually a subversion, as such rodents will often "clean up" the remains of a companion which dies of natural causes, in an instinctive effort to prevent the carcass from attracting scavengers and insects to the communal nest.
    • And squirrels are cannibals. They eat eekhoorns. note 
  • Ant colonies regularly "recycle" injured or dead colony members as food. Averted if a dying ant suffers from an infectious disease its fellows can detect by smell, in which case it's killed and dumped outside the nest to prevent sickness from spreading. Sometimes it's also averted because slightly injured ants will have their wounds treated by fellow ants, one of the only known examples of non-human animals doing so.
  • Older Than Dirt: There is good evidence to suggest that cannibalism happened among many dinosaur species, including the famous Tyrannosaurus rex and Velociraptor. Also, interestingly, inverted by Triassic carnivore Coelophysis; it was once thought that the tiny reptiles found in the stomach of one spectacularly preserved specimen were baby Coelophysis that the adult had cannibalized during a food shortage, but it was later discovered that they were actually small adult reptiles.
    • The abelisaur Majungasaurus has been almost stereotyped as a cannibal in most prehistoric media, due to evidence of bite marks found on the bones of the same species. Tellingly, there are bite marks found on some with signs of healing, implying that they not only scavenged their dead, they actively ate one another alive.
  • Crocodilians in general are often known to add their own kind to their diet. Normally, the smaller ones stick around those who are roughly their own size and avoid the larger reptiles. Often enough, however, when a bigger crocodile gets ahold of a smaller one... messy cannibalistic eating ensues.
  • Also true of predatory lizards. Young Komodo dragons, in particular, are arboreal in their habits because of this trope: climbing trees keeps them out of reach of hungry adults. They're also prone to covering themselves in dung to be as unappetizing as possible.
  • Most predatory fishes or carnivorous frogs probably don't even bother to recognize whether prey is of their own species before gulping it down. If it fits in their mouth, they eat it.
  • Tiny predatory mammals, like shrews and moles, have such rapid metabolic rates that they can die of starvation within hours or minutes if food isn't available. Therefore, they don't hesitate to kill and gobble down any potential food source, even members of their own species or (in a pinch) potential mates.
  • Schools of sharks and piranhas will turn on and eat members who are wounded, resulting in a feeding frenzy.
  • Ovoviviparous sharks (ie - sharks that give live birth rather than lay eggs) have two uteruses, but they lack a placenta. This means that, once their yolks are exhausted, the unborn sharks turn on each other...while still in the womb. No matter how large the litter the mother produces, usually only one from each uterus actually gets born because of this.
  • Much like hamsters, sharks have a tendency to eat their own young. That said, being mostly solitary creatures with limited cognitive capacity, it isn't an intentional case, and at the very least mother sharks that just recently gave birth have their appetite suppressed by hormones, and often instinctively swim far away after giving birth to reduce the risk of them encountering and subsequently preying on their offspring.
  • Galactic cannibalism, when a large galaxy rips a smaller one apart and absorbs itnote . Some of them still have visible the core(s) of the assimilated galaxy or galaxies.
  • Spotted hyenas normally give birth to twins, which already have teeth as newborns. This is because twins of the same sex immediately start fighting each other, with the stronger one killing and sometimes eating the weaker.
  • If multiple chickens are put in a very small space and not fed regularly enough they will sometimes rip apart and eat the weak or injured, or if two chickens fight and the loser dies it might be eaten by the other chickens.
  • Probably one of the more well-known examples is the praying mantis, famous for the male being eaten by the female after mating. This behavior is not as common as most people may think. Most media tend to portray this as something that always happens after mating, in reality although it has been observed it only happens if there's scarcity and the female is very hungry, but it's probably one out of ten times.
  • Domestic pigs are notorious for eating many things in general, including people, so it's not uncommon for them to eat each other.
  • Male bears are notorious for hunting down cubs within their territory, often to force females to mate. Frequently, cannibalism occurs, and like many other prey animals targeted by ursines, the unfortunate youngsters are often still alive when being consumed and eaten. Bears are also close in cognitive functions to primates which adds a whole level of nightmare fuel when one realizes that the creatures almost certainly know they are harming other members of their own kind (though this is at least a case of simple territorial instinct as opposed to true malice, unlike orcas that are known to kill dolphins and other orcas purely for sport.) It's also likely merely intentional disposal of potential competition that may threaten their future survival.
  • The body does this to itself in a process known as "apoptosis." Old cells are broken down into their component proteins and carbohydrates, and parcelled out like other nutrients. When it's disrupted, the result is necrosis, which means that body part is rotting while still alive.
  • Some species of caecilian (worm or eel-like limbless amphibians) and the Rabbs' fringe-limbed treefrog (which is sadly, recently extinct) represent an unusual subversion. The caecilian mothers and treefrog fathers grow a layer of nutrient-rich skin and let their children eat them alive. This is a subversion because it clearly shows the animals as being caring parents rather than anything monstrous (the process is also harmless to the parents, as the skin continuously regrows).
  • Chimpanzee tribes regularly clash with each other. The victorious tribe will cannibalize any chimps who are killed in such fights. On top of that, when chimpanzees hunt, other primates like colobus monkeys and bushbabies are some of their favorite prey.
    • Chimps are also known to cannibalize newborn chimps as a show of dominance, which is exactly the reason pregnant female chimps leave the troop when they give birth: one unfortunate female was documented failing to do so, in which a male chimp immediately snatched the baby within minutes of its birth and promptly devoured it alive and screaming in full view of the mother, which becomes especially terrifying when you consider that chimps are highly intelligent and are knowingly commiting such ghastly acts on their own kind.
  • Under rare circumstances, lions have been known to prey on their own kind. In one infamous example that was caught on camera, during a particularly intense drought, a pride of lionesses cornered a leopard in a tree. One lioness was desperate enough to climb into the tree after the leopard and pulled its kill down, where her sisters promptly ate it. Unfortunately, when she tried to get out of the tree, she fell and broke her back. When her dead body slipped out of the tree the following morning, her sisters ate it as well.
    • And male lions, who are known to eat cubs that aren't theirs in order to force the females into mating with them.
  • With a few exceptions, spiders are not social and if two or more of the same species meet, they will either retreat or fight to the death with the winner eating the loser. During mating season, the males often risk getting eaten by the females.