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Nature Documentary

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We are standing in the plains of Medialand. We can see Snarkus majoris, the Common Troper, stalking another cliché. Watch as she creeps silently towards the overused plot device. Soon... there she goes! She leaps onto the cliché and sinks her snarky teeth into it. Look at it writhe! It can't escape! Soon it will be another entry in the Troper's Lair.

Documentaries in which animals are filmed in their natural habitat. Or not, as the case may be. There are two variants: one where a narrator explains whats going on over a clandestinely filmed scene. The other is where the host goes out and wrestles the animals to show off the beauty of the unspoiled nature.

Perhaps the Ur-Example for television was The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau which ran on American Television for a decade and inspired an entire genre of underwater adventure documentaries (as well as a lot of affectionate parodies). All modern TV nature documentaries owe something to Cousteau.

The rise of CGI special effects lead to a genre of Speculative Documentary films focusing on the lives of extinct animals, life on alien planets, or life from Earth's future. While the footage in these films is (mostly) created by computer animation, they otherwise follow the formula of regular nature documentaries.

Commonly parodied in various media as the Wildlife Commentary Spoof. Super-Trope to Narrative-Driven Nature Documentary.


Use as a trope in media:

  • Spoofed in The Ren & Stimpy Show as Untamed World.
  • This commercial for the Little Ceasar's pizza chain starts as an apparent documentary, with the narrator explaining that a baby hippo eats over sixty pounds of food day, which is a constant challenge for the mother. Then it cuts to a hippo carrying a pizza box in its mouth.
    Narrator: Luckily, nature always finds a way.
  • Parodied in the Futurama episode "Naturama", with the show's characters appearing as animals on Mutual of Omicron's Wild Universe.
  • This is what The Wild Thornberrys were supposed to be making.
  • Skipper tried to use one in The Penguins of Madagascar to force Rico to throw up a time bomb after he was forced to take gag medication. Specifically, it was a documentary aptly titled "Carnage of the Penguins," which showed penguins getting torn apart and eaten alive by leopard seals. Everyone else threw up, but Rico just watched on with a smile and popcorn.
    Kowalski: Ohhh, that image will haunt me.

Notable or frequent nature documentary narrators:

English language:

French language:

Alternative Title(s): Nature Show