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Nature Is Not Nice

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Wolves, bears, and elk? Better run.

"The arrogance of man is thinking nature is in our control... and not the other way around."

You've found yourself alone in the woods. No big deal, nature is a perfectly fine place to spend some time, wandering around - right? But now you can't see the edge of the forest anymore. And you realize that you can't see the sun, either, so you can't tell which direction to go in to get out. Let's add some scary strange noises. Watch yourself randomly running in some direction, looking for a way out, screaming for help, as the sun goes down and afternoon turns into dusk, which turns into a moonless night...

Oh, what's that? You wanted to escape the boredom and corruption of human civilization in the first place, and seek to live in the untamed wild in complete, perfect harmony with nature and its denizens? Don't be surprised when you find that it's another at-times merciless, dog-eat-dog world out there, where disease runs rampant, natural disasters tear through everything in their path, parasites dig into your skin, animals devour each other without the slightest bit of hesitation or understanding of regret, and babies are little more than free meals for predators - hence, some say that is why a number of species spawn many offspring at once. This is how Mother Nature operates, and if you go out there treating her as something out of a Disney movie, she/it/what-have-you is bound to chew you up and spit you out like the sheltered know-not-nearly-enough that you might be.

Soon you'll learn that Nature Is Not Nice.

This trope comes into play when a work's creator avoids the romanticized, saccharine image of nature as harmonious and maternal by portraying its uglier aspects: the horror, danger, amorality, and ruthlessness of untamed nature that some works tend to gloss over. It's prime material for a Rescue show where the rescue team has to find a person lost in the wilderness, or a Nature Hero has that task. Any cute or pretty creature will likely be shown being devoured, or at least attacked by fierce predators, or even subvert What Measure Is a Non-Cute? by being shown to be equally ruthless and violent to drive the point home.

The truth is, nature isn't consciously cruel, as it can provide benefits; nor does it show a conscience that knows how to care when it provides dangers. The forest starts with insect bites and the likes of poison ivy, but becomes a big scary place in which you can get lost, fall in some areas, get a disease or poisoned by something one assumed was safely edible, or get mortally wounded by wild and ferocious animals. The desert has only about a good handful of ways for you to be injured or die. The jungle is even worse. Even a lake or a river is a dangerous place for a person who isn't prepared.

This is also why Appeal to Nature is a Logical Fallacy; just because something is 100% natural doesn't mean it's good for you.

Related to the Naïve Animal Lover, who doesn't realize how brutal wildlife can be. Compare or ramp this a bit with Death World and Hostile Weather. Contrast this with Ghibli Hills, though the tropes are not always incompatible, since nature can be portrayed as beautiful even though it has harsh elements. Inversely related to All-Natural Snake Oil. A supertrope for Nature Is Not a Toy. See Gaia's Vengeance for when nature strikes back in a more dramatic scale.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The first episode of Pokémon: The Series downplays this (with later episodes generally averting it). Nature isn't portrayed as outright ruthless in general, but it is harsh to people who don't know what they're doing. Ash struggles to get by with his disobedient Pikachu, a Rattata steals his food, and when he accidentally angers a Spearow, it summons its whole flock - and they're not willing to show Ash any mercy.
  • Princess Mononoke skillfully combines this with Humans Are Bastards. The human characters want to assassinate the local forest god so that the wilderness will become easier to conquer, but the local nature spirits are no angels either, and are demonstrably willing to maim and kill anyone in their way.
  • In Trigun, this was the defining moment in Vash and Knives' childhood, as they watch a butterfly caught in a spider's web. Vash wanted to save both, while Knives was more than happy to just kill the spider.

    Comic Books 
  • In the New 52 DC Universe, Alec Holland gave up trying to replicate the formula that gave him his powers because of this. The plant world is dangerous, and submersing Earth in it would be a disaster.
  • In Day of Vengeance, Detective Chimp dismisses the view of nature as idyllic and peaceful. On the contrary, he argues that chimp society has a lot of the same problems human society has ("wars, famine, politics, murder and betrayal"), but with none of the comforts that human beings have developed. Given the choice, he'd take the latter any day.
  • In Sin City, Marv has an Internal Monologue commenting on perceptions of nature. He notes that most people consider nature something beautiful and friendly, and remarks that they have probably never spent a night tied to a tree in the woods. Marv is one of the most violent, dangerous men in a series entirely filled with violence and danger, and he is terrified of the woods.

    Fan Works 
  • Everqueen: Isha is the Eldar goddess of nature, in all its forms. She may be a caring mother goddess, and by far the most compassionate and empathetic deity in the setting, she also will eat raw bloody meat and has no reaction to a predator catching and devouring its prey right in front of her. She's as ruthless a warrior as she is a caring gardener.
  • Paradoxus: Trisha's Training from Hell in the Eastern Kingdoms' forests attests to the truth of this trope. The Dragon's Flame has healing powers able to restore a person verging death, and yet Trisha's life has been threatened several times by the creatures inhabiting the aforementioned forests.
  • Quite prominent in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines. Wild Pokémon can be very aggressive and territorial, and the wilderness is shown to be a potentially very dangerous place. There's a reason the Viridian Forest has so many signs giving advice on how to avoid a Cruel and Unusual Death.
  • The Stronger Evil: Tiamat, the goddess of primordial creation, controls the elements of the natural world and she is responsible for every extinction event in Earth's history, which she inflicts when she decides it's time to reshape the planet and make way for new life to grow. To that end, she cares nothing for the beings currently living in the world when she has decided to reshape life in the bigger picture.
  • In We Are All Pokémon Trainers:
    • Discussed by Tagg and Fool when they share their mutual experiences as a field researcher and someone who was raised by Pokemon and is often invoked in both of their thoughts about the subject.
    • When Helios the Larvesta rescues Algira the Surskit in the alternate timeline, by knocking the Swellow hunting her and her friends into a lake, they chatter happily while the Swellow is suggested to be being eaten in the background by local Water-types. Helios invokes the trope by name.
    • Kirk the Lucario learns this firsthand when he ends up in Kalos and gets his meal stolen by a Hydreigon, who proceeds to mock him about being a weak "pet" unfit for wild life.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Croods: There is No Antagonist beyond predatory animals, predatory plants and a highly-destructive World-Wrecking Wave following our characters. Though the moral of the story emphasizes that while the world is dangerous, it can also be beautiful.
  • Globehunters: An Around The World In 80 Days Adventure: The protagonists are looking for a paradise in the world outside of the animal testing lab called "Himilaya Yu-assa". When they reach a mountainous region full of animals, they quickly learn that the animals in nature are much meaner and more vicious than the ones back in the lab, and that they are NOT welcome to stay.
  • In Madagascar, there's a montage, set to "What A Wonderful World", of the main characters watching in horror as various predators in the Madagascar jungle devour cute prey animals.
  • Padak: In a massive case of Surprisingly Realistic Outcome, none of the fish act like anything but how fish would act naturally, cannibalizing other dead fish without issue or remorse for the most part.
  • Rugrats movies:
    • The Rugrats Movie: The woods that the babies get lost in are big and dark woods. The babies almost fall over a waterfall, Dil gets taken away by escaped circus monkeys, and also a wolf stalks and almost kills the babies.
    • In Rugrats Go Wild!, the babies get lost in a tropical rainforest. They get stalked by a clouded leopard who wants to make them her next meal, a falling coconut gives the only nearby adult amnesia, and near the end they get trapped in a submersible device underwater with the oxygen rapidly running out. There is also a point where Lil sees bugs getting snapped up by a carnivorous plant and a lizard, and is so horrified by what she sees that she swears off eating bugs and urges her brother to do the same.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • À l'aventure: The man from the park muses at the end at how nature is filled by animals which devour others for survival, all its intricacy revolving around this savage violence.
  • While it's not abundantly clear in the film itself, this trope was one of the main inspirations behind Lars von Trier's Antichrist. Von Trier has stated in interviews that he was moved by a nature documentary he once watched which treated the animal world as a kind of barbaric, earthly hell, in stark contrast to the more idyllic portrayal common to fiction. Which brought us gems like a stillborn fawn, demonic forest animals, and ominous lines like, "The forest is the devil's church."
  • Blackfish seems to make a point to contrast the sugary family-friendly SeaWorld TV commercials with orcas performing tricks and being petted by trainers to the terrifying footage of orcas attacking the trainers and sometimes each other. Although the film also presents the whale's natural environment as being a relatively harmonious one.... which, since humans as a rule only capture them for research or aqua parks, it generally is for them. Orcas being at the top of their Food Chains, though, not so much for every other species. Of course, the whole point of the movie is Humans (at least those who aren't entirely devoted to the environmental cause) are moronic bastards.
  • Deliverance: The only thing worse than the savage mountain men is the brutal and unforgiving nature of the wilderness itself.
  • In The Fly (1986), Seth Brundle comes to realize as his Slow Transformation enters its penultimate stage that the reason his personality is changing as well as his body is because of this trope — as a genetically-spliced hybrid of human and housefly, his mind is becoming more like an insect's. As he ruefully, sadly explains to his lover, "Insects don't have politics. They're very brutal. No compassion, no compromise...we can't trust the insect." With this in mind, he sends her away so he won't risk hurting her without meaning to; unfortunately learning that she's pregnant with his child but intends to abort it brings out the very ruthlessness he fears, and guarantees a Downer Ending.
  • Godzilla. See the page quote, and it's not just in the 2014 movie. Godzilla frequently either attacks humans for violating nature, or shows an indifference towards the fact that his passing by causes thousands of deaths.
    "History shows again and again / How nature points up the folly of men!" - Blue Öyster Cult, "Godzilla!"
    • MonsterVerse: Everything humans thought they knew about the creatures they share the Earth with is really just the insect kingdom, which humans are a part of; and there was once an entire world of gigantic, radiocative, borderline-supernatural beasts who will fight and kill each-other for dominance and survival (as Godzilla does to the MUTOs, but fortunately these creatures are mostly indifferent to humans the same way we're indifferent to the ants we see in our garden. Somewhat Zig-Zagged, as some of the Kaiju such as Godzilla, Mothra and Kong are capable of higher intelligence and even displaying benevolence towards humans, and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) establishes the Kaiju have a cross-species hierarchy amongst themselves which enables them to coexist.
  • The Grey follows a group of plane crash survivors lost in the Alaskan wilderness. The freezing weather, lack of food, and presence of wolves are all treated as completely impersonal rather than actively malicious, and the main character's Rage Against the Heavens moment makes his helpless fury in the face of such indifference very clear.
  • The Hollow Child: The woods is a creepy place where children disappear then imposters return in their place, who are really malicious nature spirits called Hollow Ones seeking to harm humans for having diminished their wilderness.
  • The film Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, a scorpion nearly consumes the children who take refuge inside a Lego brick.
  • The book and film Into the Wild, which chronicles the experiences of Christopher McCandless, a young and idealistic college graduate who abandons everything for attempting to live off the Alaskan wilderness. Christopher is slowly run through this trope as his supplies dwindle and it becomes evident that he was very unprepared for his adventure, ending up starving to death alone.
  • Jurassic Park: A Central Theme through all the movies. The dinosaurs are at the end of the day just animals following their instincts, but that doesn't make them any less dangerous if humans don't treat them with the respect they deserve.
  • Jurassic World: Battle at Big Rock: The father, when his kids are frightened by the Allosaurus attacking the baby Nasutoceratops, tries to assure them that predation is just a part of the natural world, all while the Allosaurus is swinging the baby around like a ragdoll. The baby Nasutoceratops escapes, but the Allosaurus then turns its attention on the human baby it can hear crying nearby...
  • Mowgli: The film doesn't gloss over the fact that violence and death is part of nature. Predators need to hunt to survive, and the wolves have a Spartan society where Asskicking Leads to Leadership. However, apart from Shere Khan, Tabaqui and the monkeys, all animals follow the Law of the Jungle. By contrast, the human society is more cheerful and pleasant but also more ignorant.
  • Nope:
    • A major theme of the movie is how not treating animals with respect is a sign of carelessness and will eventually backfire, including with Jean Jacket itself.
    • This is what set Gordy off. Chimps are notoriously aggressive and treat direct eye contact as a challenge. It doesn't matter how trained or socialized they are, unless they think you're the alpha or their mother. No one acknowledged that, figuring he was trained and thus safe. He was brought out, and the heat from the spotlights started popping the balloons while the cameras, crew and his co-stars were staring directly at him. "Six Minutes of Havoc" ensued.
  • In Numb, the journey to the gold coins is suggested to be a trek of a few hours. Between the snow and natural wilderness obstacles, it takes a day and a half just to reach the cache, and three of the protagonists perish.
  • For all of its peerless beauty, Nature is presented more of some kind hostile wasteland than a land of wonder in The Revenant. From vicious animals, the rampaging Native American tribes, deceitful and murderous Frenchmen to blisteringly cold and harsh environments, the North American Frontier is unflinchingly cruel to protagonist Hugh Glass and many other of its characters. As one of the Double Toasted guys put it, "even the grass looks miserable!". Admittedly a lot of it is because of man's cruelties towards man, but even if we ignore these parts the rest more than cover up for the savagery inherent in the wilderness.
  • Werner Herzog appears to be of this opinion, as can be seen in several of his films. His ending narration to Grizzly Man (a documentary about Timothy Treadwell, a Naïve Animal Lover who ended up being Eaten Alive by a grizzly bear) perhaps puts it best.
  • The live-action version of The Wind in the Willows uses this for the Wild Woods, the home of the Weasels. This is the Weasels' life philosophy, as described in their Villain Song, "Secret Of Survival (In a Very Nasty World)".

  • Animorphs:
    • Cassie is the nature-lover of the team. Her father runs a wildlife rehabilitation clinic in their barn, which is the source of about half of the animals the Animorphs morph. The first time Cassie has to find a reason to fight the invading Yeerks, that reason that she finds is to protect the environment. She knows there's brutality in nature and that everything is killer or killed, but thinks of it abstractly until her very next book. There she's confronted with it and her place as a human, an apex predator that can feel safely insulated from that cycle yet is prey to the Yeerks. She still resolves to love nature, and not judge anything for killing to survive - which leads to her being able to understand and better work with even Yeerks.
    • After she is nearly killed by army ants in the rainforest, a terrified Rachel goes on a tirade screaming that this place that so many environmentalists want to save is nothing but a den of horrors. She claims everyone would be better off if the entire rainforest was paved over with shopping malls. Later in the book, after she and the other Animorphs morph jaguars and move through the rainforest as powerful animals that belong in it, everyone marvels at what they see and she reluctantly takes it back. Even if it's deadly and dangerous and trying to kill her, it's also amazing.
  • Brian's Saga by Gary Paulsen. Nature is the antagonist here as the protagonist has only the titular hatchet to avoid dying in the Canadian wilderness after an airplane crash.
  • To Build a Fire is a particularly poignant Jack London short story about a man desperately seeking to make the eponymous fire in subzero weather. He fails.
    • In fact this was a common theme for London, appearing in other works such as White Fang and likely inspired by his own experiences in the Yukon. He commonly depicts as not just cold and uncaring, but actively hostile and sadistic to both man and animal:
    "It is not the way of the Wild to like movement. Life is an offence to it, for life is movement; and the Wild aims always to destroy movement."
  • A common theme used by Carl Hiaasen, whose novels often feature antagonists so used to modern convenience and so woefully ignorant of nature that they can't set one foot in the actual wilderness without getting instantly lost, injured, or eaten - but as Hiaasen reminds the reader, wilderness is all around them.
  • Crabbe is about a high schooler who runs off to live in the woods and quickly finds himself woefully unprepared for it.
  • This is the Aesop and Central Theme of Devolution. It's repeatedly pointed out that all the protagonists, a group of broadly liberal urbanites living in the high-tech Solar Punk planned community of Greenpool in rural Washington state, want to be closer to nature, but only within an extreme tech bubble where they won't have to give up their modern conveniences. When Mt. Rainier erupts and they're cut off from rest of the world, characters still insist that animals are completely peaceful and won't hurt them. Even the displaced and starving band of Sasquatches. Greenloop is an exaggerated parody of every suburban community that tries to offer an escape from "the city" but is still, in fact, dependent on the city's resources and industry for its survival.
  • Explored in Lone Huntress. The colonists who settled on Gaia were eager to get back to nature, and a world with a single vast continent, mostly devoid of tectonic plate activity and dominated by a massive rain forest with kilometer-high trees, seemed perfect for it. After the survivors adjusted to the realization of just how dangerous nature really is, they learned to adapt - giving rise to a hunter-gatherer society that respected nature and had no illusions about their place in the middle of the food chain.
    • For extra points, Lisa often considers her interactions with galactic civilization using metaphors from her childhood on Gaia. She's not an unstoppable Super-Soldier, she's a hunter - and that means ambushes, stalking, following tracks, and bouts of violence that tend to be brief, one-sided, and even anti-climactic.
  • In the Discworld book Unseen Academicals, Lord Vetinari uses this concept to make a point.
    “I have told this to few people, gentlemen, and I suspect I never will again, but one day when I was a young boy on holiday in Uberwald I was walking along the bank of a stream when I saw a mother otter with her cubs. A very endearing sight, I’m sure you will agree, and even as I watched, the mother otter dived into the water and came up with a plump salmon, which she subdued and dragged on to a half-submerged log. As she ate it, while of course it was still alive, the body split and I remember to this day the sweet pinkness of its roes as they spilled out, much to the delight of the baby otters who scrambled over themselves to feed on the delicacy. One of nature’s wonders, gentlemen: mother and children dining upon mother and children. And that’s when I first learned about evil. It is built into the very nature of the universe. Every world spins in pain. If there is any kind of supreme being, I told myself, it is up to all of us to become his moral superior.
  • In The Dresden Files, this is a trait of the Summer Fae. Though not as selfish as their Winter brethren, they are still impulsive, flame-slinging nonhumans who don't always prioritize sapient life as much they should. Parasites, poison ivy, plague-bearing bacteria? They're all life too, and therefore all Summer.
  • In The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, the only real enemy the protagonist faces is the cruelty of nature. Or it could be an evil forest spirit.
  • Into Thin Air, both book and film versions. This is about a guided tour of Mount Everest gone terribly wrong. The book is nonfiction, the film was based on it.
  • In Legend of the Animal Healer, Martine interrupts a pair of dueling antelopes because her child's mind reasons that fighting is bad. A nearby photographer tells her, rather annoyed, that fighting is a natural and necessary part of the species' survival. Also, he's been stalking the herd for hours waiting to get the perfect shot, and now he has to start all over again.
  • The Marquis de Sade's characters often cited this as justification of their crimes-death and destruction are inherent to Nature, thus what they do is just fine.
  • In Micro: this trope is driven home in many ways including a former scientist getting torn apart by ants.
  • Applied full force in Moonflowers, where it's revealed that The Wild Hunt's leader—aptly called the Horned Hunter—isn't just a powerful fairy, but a force of nature. Which means he embodies predators. His deer-skull mask has huge, menacing antlers and burning red sockets, which he uses to gore people like an actual stag. The Irish gods are at their wit's end trying to break his curse on Alima Song's family—as Maidin the river-fairy notes, they need to respect nature's laws, so while they could make him stop hunting specific people, they'd need to sacrifice others in exchange. And if they openly tell the Hunter to stop hunting, there's a serious risk that he'd just kill MORE people in retaliation for "going against the natural order." This means the only real option is for Ned Song to kill him before he kills anyone else.
  • The driving conflict of Quest for Fire is that without the titular fire, early humans are completely vulnerable to harsh elements and hungry carnivores. Nature is pretty hard for the other animals too. Even the herbivores are killing each other.
  • Rainbow Six: The Horizon Executive plans to wipe out humanity with a virus, so he and a selected few would be left to inherit the Earth. When Rainbow Six tracks them down in South America and destroys their compound, they are left in the jungle without clothes or tools. According to the epilogue they didn't last long, which goes to show that nature doesn't care whether or not you're "on her side" when choosing who survives or dies.
  • Small Game depicts Nature not as malicious, but callous. The survivors are vigilant but still get into dangerous situations; Nature is not trying to kill them, it is continuing in its course whether they are in the way or not.
  • This trope is a central theme of State of Fear.
    • Best summed up when the team is captured by a native tribe. An actor companion (who pushes how "civilization" is ruining the pristine world") thinks they'll be okay as this is a group of Noble Savage types who are smarter than they seem. Main character Kenner sets him straight.
    Kenner: You think civilization is some horrible, polluting human invention that separates us from the state of nature. But civilization doesn't separate us from nature, Ted. Civilization protects us from nature. Because what you see right now, all around you, this is nature.
  • In the Gary Larson children's book There's A Hair In My Dirt! an earthworm tells his son a Fractured Fairy Tale about a woman named Harriet who loves nature, but is woefully naive about the brutality of nature and is ignorant of what is truly good or bad for the life cycle. This is exemplified when she saves a mouse from a snake, unaware that the animal was diseased, and ultimately dies of the resulting illness it gave her.
    "You see," Father Worm began, "Harriet loved Nature, but loving Nature is not the same as understanding it. And Harriet not only misunderstood the things she saw—vilifying some creatures while romanticizing others—but also her own connection to them."
  • Exploited in the Trickster's Duet when Nawat Crow and his band get rid of some people by stripping them naked and putting them in the middle of the jungle.

    Live-Action TV 
  • History Bites: The episode "Neolithic Park," which focuses on the invention of agriculture, shows that Rick Green believes in this trope, and he tries to prove it by claiming that most early humans died by the age of thirty.
  • Island of the Sea Wolves: Luna, the larger of the two eagle chicks, easily dominates her brother, hogging the food and the shade. But as the narrator points out, a single well-fed chick has better survival odds than two smaller ones.
    Narrator: It's ruthless... but it's nature.
  • The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams uses this trope as a primary source for action, as Adams and his friends often have to rescue visitors who learn the hard way that the wilderness is a dangerous place to be in if you don't know what you're doing.
  • Much of the Discovery Channel banks on this, but especially Naked and Afraid and its spin-off, Naked and Afraid XL.
  • Primeval: Pretty much every creature from the past or the future wants to kill humans. Carnivores will attack human life without hesitation regardless of their native time period, mould from the future can turn humans into zombie-like husks, dodos carry contagious and vicious parasites, and even large herbivores which mean no real harm to humans will panic and go on a rampage in the unfamiliar modern environment.
  • The X-Files: In the Season Three episode "Quagmire", Mulder and Scully are trapped on a small rock island in the middle of a lake after crashing their search boat:
    Mulder: You know, living in the city, you forget that night is actually so, uh... dark.
    Scully: Living in the city, you forget a lot of things. You know, there you're always thinking about being mugged or hit by a car. It's not until you get back to nature until you realize that everything is out to get you. That's why my father always taught me to respect nature... because it has no respect for you.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • In the Book of Job, God Himself justifies this trope when the Voice from the Whirlwind speaks to Job, as an example of the idea that "life isn't fair". Descriptions of vultures hunting out the corpses of the slain to feed their chicks, and ostriches abandoning their young in the dirt to be crushed or trampled abound. In the words of biblical critic Robert Alter:
    One of the remarkable aspects of the Job poet's vision of nature is that it so completely unsentimental. The creatures of the wild (with the exception of the peculiar ostrich) are endowed with an instinct to nurture their young. For carnivores, however, that nurture involves violence—destroying living creatures in order to sustain life in the offspring. The concluding image, then, of God’s first speech is of the fledgling eagles in the nest, their little beaks open to gulp down the bloody scraps of flesh that their parent has brought them. The moral calculus of nature clearly does not jibe with the simple set of equations and consequences laid out in Proverbs and in Psalms.
  • As a general rule, in Norse Mythology, harsh natural elements are personified as giants (Jotnar). Fire, ice, and time are examples of this. Meanwhile, the gods usually represent man-made concepts like war, sailing, wisdom, and song. Norse mythology can thus be seen as a representation of a war between man and the harsh natural elements. And in the end they will end up destroying each other.
    • The notions also survived far longer than Norse Mythology as a part of Nordic Folklore: The Fair Folk are mostly nature spirits, and you better respect them if you know what's good for you. Dance on the wet rocks by the merrily prattling brook? The Nix will drag you under for your carelessness. Take a shortcut off the beaten path? The Huldra will remind you just how easy it is to disappear in her kingdom. Go dance with the elves in the morning mists? Remember that the etymological root word for "Eldritch" is "Elf" and kiss your ass goodbye. Pick a fight with nature? Remember that the Vikings always removed the dragon heads from the bow of their ships before making land so as to not provoke these beings, and that the Norse Gods themselves made a point of never making enemies of them.
  • Berstuk, the evil god of the forest from Slavic Mythology.
  • Unicorns were historically considered the embodiment of the wilderness, which actually made them the most dangerous of wild beasts.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Early in Dilbert, a personified Mother Nature made a few appearances, each time doing something rather nasty without shame.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The deity Obad-Hai. He is a Neutral-aligned God of Nature who represents the primal, unkind aspects of nature as a neutral, impartial judge of worth — his spheres of influence are nature and woodlands, but also hunting and beasts. He has an unfriendly rivalry with a Goddess named Ehlonna, who represents the kinder aspects of nature. In universe, Obad-Hai and Ehlonna are respectively True Neutral and Neutral Good.
    • Tabletop Game/Eberron: The Children of Winter focus on the belief that death, disease and rot are all part of the natural cycle, and work to bring about The End of the World as We Know It.
    • Forgotten Realms: There are equivalents of Obad-Hai and Ehlonna in the deities Silvanus and Mielikki respectively, who share those moral alignments, plus Malar, the the Chaotic Evil god of beasts and hunting and Eldath, the Neutral Good goddess of waterfalls, quiet places, and peace that is kinder than the former.
  • Goblin Quest: The "Cruel Nature" misfortune table contains various ways in which nature can interfere with the players' current task, involving ants, a badger, a hawk, a magpie, or possibly what the book describes as "a big, overly-friendly dog".
  • In Nomine: Jordi, the Archangel of Animals, embodies the animal kingdom as it is, not the rose-tinted version humanity often believes in — he's easily one of the most sinister and dangerous archangels, and has little regard for the laws or norms of the celestial (and none at all for human laws and norms). The Angelic Player's Guide describes what happens when someone really pisses off their superior. In most cases it's something "inflict dissonance" or "report to the Council", but Jordi? He just eats his rogue servitors.
  • Mage: The Awakening: The Thyrsus embody both nature's beauty and its brutality.
  • Magic: The Gathering: This is the reason Green magic isn't a "good" color; while there are many cards that reflect the life-giving and nurturing facet of Mother Nature, there are also many cards that reflect Mother Nature's brutality as well. "Stompy" creatures with high power and toughness, spells which increase the power and toughness of your creatures, spells which target [non-natural] artifacts, spells which turn your lands into Elemental creatures with snarky "why are you surprised that the ground steps on you?" flavour text, are typical examples. Green/black cards and factions take this even further, combining a ruthlessly pragmatic outlook with magic themed around predation, rot, parasitism, and all the other unpleasant parts of the natural order.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Catachan is a planet of all jungle, and literally every plant and animal is out to kill or otherwise harm you. The human population of this place (if you can believe such a thing exists) are constantly on the move and live Crazy-Prepared lives. It's impossible to have a permanent settlement because of Everything Trying to Kill You.
  • Tabletop Game Warhammer Fantasy: Athel Loren is a magical Intelligent Forest resting within the kingdom of Bretonnia and separated from the civilized world by the Grey Mountains and a series of magical waystones placed by the native Asrai, Tolkienesque forest elves meets Hillbilly Horrors who kidnap (and are implied to eat) Bretonnian children and hunt villagers like animals every summer when their king awakens. Alarielle the High Elf Everqueen is so powerful that the Chaos Gods themselves fear her, but Alarielle is terrified of the Asrai, she notices that her counterpart Ariel is being changed into something more feral than anything the world has ever known and the rest of the Asrai are too. But the Asrai are the least scary thing about Athel Loren, in fact they just as much protect the world from the forest as they protect the forest from the world — the aforementioned magical waystones are containment barriers stopping Athel Loren from spreading across the world like green Chaos. Athel Loren is extremely hostile to anything that enters its borders that isn't an Asrai, a tree or a beast, and is also populated by xenophobic treemen; some march along with the Asrai as allies in times of war, some see the Asrai as much vermin as they do all non-tree life and plot to eliminate them (even though the elves have lived in the forest for millennia and have been nothing but honest in their dealings with them), and some are so insane they just attack... everything, and get into gigantic, everlasting tree battles where they continually smash each other and regrow from the splinters. These trees aren't corrupted by Chaos, it's just what they're like. Did we also mention that the forest can manipulate time!? Sometimes, people walk out of Athel Loren years, decades or even centuries after they went missing, and immediately wither and die from onset old age. In a universe where vampires, undead and demons exist, nature is still one of the scariest things out there.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse: The Garou are nature's warriors, and some of the tribes are brutal social Darwinists who hate humanity.

    Video Games 
  • Dawn of the Dragons:
  • Destiny: The Darkness, a Sentient Cosmic Force embodying violence and selfishness, uses the Appeal to Nature to proselytize to Oryx about why being a Blood Knight and Omnicidal Maniac is morally good and right.
    Ah, Oryx, how do we explain it to them? The world is not built on the laws they love. Not on friendship, but on mutual interest. Not on peace, but on victory by any means. The universe is run by extinction, by extermination, by gamma-ray bursts burning up a thousand garden worlds, by howling singularities eating up infant suns. And if life is to live, if anything is to survive through the end of all things, it will live not by the smile but by the sword, not in a soft place but in a hard hell, not in the rotting bog of artificial paradise but in the cold hard self-verifying truth of that one ultimate arbiter, the only judge, the power that is its own metric and its own source—existence, at any cost.
  • This is the primary challenge of Don't Starve, being a survival game. Sickness and dehydration aren't incorporated into gameplay and the crafting system is fairly generous, but the player character has to feed themself and avoid freezing to death, burning to death in a forest fire, electrocution from a lightning strike, or being killed by any number of wild animals that are either hostile to players who get too close or unwilling to roll over and die when a player attacks them. However, there are also a number of monsters specifically out to get the player character, such as the packs of ferocious wild dogs that appear out of nowhere periodically, the entity who attacks you if and only if you're caught in complete darkness, and the shadow creatures who attack when your Sanity Meter gets too low. The expansion packs add even more ways to die, such as poison, heatstroke, a giant bear who wants to eat your food stockpile, and falling rocks.
  • Morrigan of Dragon Age: Origins is this trope personified. She grew up in the wilds and, lacking any human contact besides her Humanoid Abomination mother Flemeth, would often shape-shift into various animals to live among them. Rather than a kindly Friend to All Living Things like most Nature Heroes, she's a borderline sociopath who has little compassion for anybody and doesn't hesitate to resort to violence or even murder to get what she wants.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • This is present throughout the series with Spriggans, a hostile tree-like race of Plant People. Though they are revered as "Nature's Guardians'' and are associated with Kynareth (one of the Nine Divines and goddess of the heavens, wind, and elements), they're generally an unfriendly group of nature spirits who attack anyone who intrudes on their domains. (Usually by commanding animals, including bears and bees.)
    • The Daedric Prince Namira has elements of this. She is associated with all things considered grotesque or revolting, including many of the dark aspects of nature. These include disease and decay, as well as being represented by typically revolting creatures such as insects, slugs, bats, and rats.
    • Peryite, the Daedric Prince of Pestilence and Tasks, also has elements of this. He is associated with the "Natural Order" (compared to Jyggalag's "Perfect Order" which is inorganic stasis), which, unfortunately for mortals, primarily manifests as outbreaks of disease, and death in wake of those outbreaks.
    • The Daedric Prince Hircine also represents a darker side of nature, as he is the Prince of the Hunt, delighting in asymmetrical battles where one side must flee and outwit their opponent or be brutally slain. He intentionally created the disease of lycanthropy specifically to embody his domain, as those "blessed" by his gifts will be terrible monsters at night and then become hunted by their fellow mortals during the day. He also doesn't care who is the hunter or hunted, so long as a hunt happens.
  • E.V.O.: Search for Eden has a more active example of not-nice nature, where Life, a strange and rapidly-evolving creature, routinely finishes off an era by committing genocide against certain species to pave the way for other species to grow and thrive. Evolution in this world is an extremely harsh mistress.
  • Flowers and greenery are a symbol of death in Grim Fandango as "sprouting" (shooting someone with special seeds that quickly cause their bodies to sprout flowers) is one of the only ways to render someone Deader than Dead in the Land of the Dead.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising: Viridi, Goddess of Nature, though unlike most examples where nature/its personifications are apathetic about humanity, Viridi despises humans and is extremely vocal about her beliefs that Humans Are the Real Monsters. To that end, she aspires to Kill All Humans using Reset Bombs designed to both wipe out humanity and restore the local natural order by creating massive forests.
  • Somewhat the point of The Long Dark. You play as a poor soul who is lost and stranded in the Canadian wilderness due to a geomagnetic event that has rendered all modern technology useless and consequently thrown humanity off the top of the food chain. If you don't freeze, or starve, or die of illness, you'll likely be torn to shreds by a wolf or a bear.
  • In some ways, this is the heart of early gameplay in Minecraft. There is no real enemy or driving plot; it's just your struggle to survive in a hostile wilderness where the wild animals happen to be monsters.
  • Pokémon Sun and Moon has a lot of dark Pokédex entries. Almost every one seems to revolve around Pokémon hunting or attacking each other (or humans). Hau outright mentions that nature can be scary.
  • Rift: Pretty much the defining trait of the Life-elemental Rifts, where the plane within contains killer plants and creatures in a dog-eat-dog world of predation.
  • Half the point of Shelter; you play a mother badger leading her five cubs on a journey to a new home. Starvation, rushing rapids, or predators can very easily claim them, quickly and totally unceremoniously.
  • Like other sandbox games, Starbound has this as its core gameplay element. The lowest tier planets are known as garden planets and are described as a "lush and pleasant" world. The animals there are hostile.
  • Subnautica is a survival game where you play as an employee on a terraforming/mining vessel, the Aurora, as it crash-lands on an alien planet covered almost entirely by ocean. The ocean is brimming with life that's just big enough to see you in the same way you'd see a cheeseburger, and of course you'll still need to avoid dying of starvation or dehydration, or just drowning.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 1 centers around the battle between two gods: the Bionis, representing nature and organic beings, and Mechonis, representing technology. It starts out like most RPG plots, where the heroes are defending the world of the good nature god from the evil technology god. But then it's flipped entirely on its head. Mayneth, the technology god, was Good All Along and was out to save the world from the Bionis, or rather Zanza, who turns out to be the true Big Bad of the game. Far from a benevolent deity, Zanza is a complete sociopath who sees all the living beings he created as nothing more than a food source, regularly commiting genocide with his own personal army of monsters (horrifically transformed from a race he created solely to become them) whenever life becomes capable of space travel so they don't leave him and deprive him of energy. While Mayneth genuinely loves her subjects, Zanza cares for no-one but himself and is only concerned with preserving his power.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X also utilizes this trope much like the previous game, except that it's much more obvious this time around. Mira is full of hostile beasts, and it's usually not a good idea to take mercy on the wildlife. Just ask Carl, who, if you decide to spare a group of infant Suids (swine creatures), they'll eventually grow up and attack some people, including Carl himself.

     Visual Novels 
  • Invoked by the protagonist of Double Homework when he’s left alone in the woods after a night of hard partying with Henry and Lauren. It’s lucky for him that he can reach Johanna and Tamara, and that they can pick him up in the middle of nowhere.

     Web Animation 
  • Helluva Boss: In the fourth episode, C.H.E.R.U.B tries to show Lyle the beauty of nature, but Blitzo ruins it by showing him various scenes of animals mauling each other, as well as a lumberjack stung by bees and impaled by a deer. Colin and Lyle are horrified at the scene, as is Blitzo, but then smiles as his point is otherwise proven.
    Blitzo: Anyway, take it from me, a fellow genius. Nature is no picnic up close.

    Web Comics 
  • Frequently played for laughs in Sandra and Woo, mainly centered around the realities of carnivorism. Woo and Shadow have sometimes threatened to eat Sid the squirrel, even though they're normally friends, and Shadow had even shared a chunk of his childhood with Sid. Or an Eagle captures Woo to eat him, only to watch Woo eat its eggs. Or most recently, the carnivore animals claim to have been inspired by Zootopia to act nice to the herbivores, but it turns out to be a trick to attack and eat the herbivores now that their defenses are down.
  • Oddly enough Vegan Artbook has done this, when comparing the eating of meat to a list of barbaric things that animals do, such as "animals steal from each other" "animals kill rival males" "animals rape their females" "animals kill their own babies". But then it contradicts itself with its more frequent messages of having compassion towards animals and scorn for humans.

    Web Original 
  • Tiktok user mndiaye_97, who also runs the YouTube channel Casual Geographic, formerly named Hood Nature, has done many videos about animals being way more dangerous and disturbing than people know, to the point that it was a Running Gag that someone in the comments would defy him to ruin an animal's image in their mind, only for him to deliver. Though at the same time however, he'll often show some of the more positive aspects of animals, including ones that often have a fairly bad reputation.
  • Hamster's Paradise: This ends up shaping the worldview of the harmsters. They were already naturally sadistic and self-serving thanks to the circumstances of their evolution but after they developed sapience, they were able to notice the inherent violence of the natural world, most notably how all organisms would kill other living things for their own benefit as either food or removal of competition (even plants, which they had come to recognize as alive). They come to the conclusion that all life exists to destroy all other life and is defined by what it kills, in addition to seeing their own bloodlust as the natural order of things. They end up destroying much of the ecosystems of the time and eventually cause their own extinction thanks to this mentality.
  • The subreddit, r/natureisterrible, is dedicated to exposing the horrors and suffering of the natural world and defying Appeal to Nature and In Harmony with Nature while finding ways to ease natural suffering. The subreddit exposes the dark side of nature by posting articles and photos of animals getting eaten by predators and parasites, or killed by extreme weather. Some members have even gone so far as to claim that ideas such as conservationism and environmentalism contain speciesist implications or originated from speciesism note . The subreddit even has this trope's name as its tagline. WARNING, content will be very disturbing and upsetting.
    • Another subreddit, r/natureismetal, is dedicated to showing nature in a 'badass' way, in all its magnificent, fascinating, and at times gory glory. Many posts show animals during or after a hunt, often covered in blood or showing large wounds. The difference is that r/natureisterrible portrays nature's brutality and indifference in a negative light, while this subreddit glorifies them, or at least acknowledges them as something necessary for the existence of a functioning ecosystem.

    Western Animation 
  • The Forest of Doom from The Amazing World of Gumball is a dangerous place filled with hostile monsters, including the squirrels, that has managed to nearly kill Gumball and Darwin every time they've entered it. It even looks like a skull from the sky. In "The Stink", Mr. Small in the woods is attacked by squirrels, almost bled dry by leeches, and even the butterflies try to feed him to a giant leech.
  • Zarm from Captain Planet and the Planeteers. He's a spirit of the Earth, like Gaia, but the two fought eons ago and he went to colonize another planet, which subsequently destroyed itself. He represents the "dark" side of nature, i.e., ruthless competition and natural selection; his main tactic seems to be supporting dictatorships and spreading conflict.
  • Parodied in Cow and Chicken where Cow gets lost in an overgrown jungle and spends the whole episode struggling to survive. The kicker? She's just been in the family's backyard the whole time, and is brought in by Dad right after she's decided to eat a squirrel.
  • In Family Guy, a clip from a nature documentary is shown narrated by a stereotypical black guy. It shows a cheetah hunting down some prey:
    Damn, lookat dat sumbitch go! He haulin' ass! Dat thing come by my house, I killit! That little rat-lookin' thing just got ate! DAMN NATURE, YOU SCARY!
  • In the Futurama episode "Naturama", the characters appear as different animals in three segments of a nature documentary show. They either die, or their efforts prove to be pointless, or both. The narrator draws the lesson: "For in the end, nature is horrific, and teaches us nothing."
  • Mother of Nature depicts Mother Nature as a cruel, indifferent despot who smiles a lot.
  • The Everfree Forest from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, filled with dangerous animals such as the wooden Timberwolves, fits the role of "real" nature in a setting where the ponies themselves have a direct and semi-magical role in running most of their world's ecosystems and do so in the stereotypical harmonious way.
  • Primal (2019) has its tagline as "Hunt. Kill. Survive." This is a world where cavemen live alongside dinosaurs, giant snakes, mammoths, monstrous bats, and savage ape-men, and every day is a desperate fight for survival. The first episode alone has caveman protagonist Spear nearly eaten by a giant crocodile, witness his family actually being eaten by a group of carnivorous dinosaurs, and teams up with a Tyrannosaurus, Fang, who similarly can only watch helplessly as her own young are also eaten alive. This is an extremely violent, gory series as survival of the fittest is taken to its most extreme and there's hardly any room for kindness and sympathy.
  • South Park
    • The episode "Rainforest Shmainforest" in which the kids get lost in the rainforests of Costa Rica, and they are attacked by big bugs, wild animals, and hostile tribesmen, until they are saved by the "good" loggers who are clearing the forest.
    • In "Douche and Turd," after being banished from the town for refusing to vote for either a giant douche or a turd sandwich to be the school's new mascot, Stan falls in with PETA, who take the protection of animals to extremes (including breeding with them). The members go on and on about how much they love animals and doing their best to save them from the horrors around them. When the place is raided by rapper Puff Daddy and his posse, who were in pursue of Stan, they start firing off guns with the PETA members throwing themselves in front of the animals, their last breaths used to yell about how "we die for you!" The animals respond to all this by...chewing on the corpses, then running off, making it clear they didn't give one damn about these weirdos who were keeping them from their rightful homes.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "Jellyfish Jam", SpongeBob decides to take a wild jellyfish home as a pet. Things are all fun and games until the jellyfish draws in the rest of its hive to SpongeBob's house. Unsurprisingly, the jellyfish swarm are extremely irritable creatures and they attack SpongeBob (and Squidward), forcing him to realize that he cannot truly domesticate wild animals.
    • But this wouldn't be the last time that SpongeBob misjudges or underestimates jellyfish. In "Nature Pants", SpongeBob decides to give up his job, home, and friends just to live free as a wild man-sponge alongside the jellyfish in their natural habitat. But he only ends up getting attacked by the jellyfish (and sea-urchins), and is forced to take shelter in a cold, dark cave where he realizes his mistakes.
  • A Thousand and One... Americas: In many episodes, Chris learns from first-hand experience the many dangers pre-Columbian civilizations had to confront daily in Real Life, from ferocious animals like mammoths and dire wolfs to unexpected natural disasters like volcanic eruptions.


Video Example(s):


Don't Talk To Me About Nature

Blu gets rather freaked out seeing a firefly get eaten by a frog followed by a snake eating the frog itself.

How well does it match the trope?

4.9 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / NatureIsNotNice

Media sources: