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Pike Peril

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Danger at a massive scale.
Pike are a widespread genus of carnivorous freshwater fish found in Eurasia and North America. As aggressive predators prone to cannibalism, they're often used as a river-going threat in animal-centered works. They aren't usually depicted as a threat to humans, but they will often be shown as a Super-Persistent Predator towards smaller fish and other animals, or conversely as the Animal Nemesis of a fisherman. This part is Truth in Television, as pike are fierce fighters when hooked and several kinds of pikes (or pike-like fishes such as the Muskellunge), are prized as sport fish.

Other fish that resemble pikes are also portrayed in the same way. Barracudas are often portrayed as essentially the saltwater version of pikes, although despite looking a lot like pikes, and even being referred to as "sea pikes," they aren't closely related. note  Gars, especially the gigantic alligator gar, are another common alternative in freshwater settings.

Sub-Trope of Fiendish Fish. Compare The Catfish (where the fish's size makes it a Worthy Opponent to fishermen), Piranha Problem for the tropical equivalent, and Threatening Shark for saltwater dangers.


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    Comic Books 
  • Garulfo: One of the main reasons Garulfo wants to be a human is that as a frog, he's at the mercy of fish much bigger than him, and sees a human hooking and pulling a pike out of the water as proof that they're the Superior Species, planning to eat a pike every day in revenge.

  • The Disney Loops: Discussed in Loop 41.9 (based on The Sword in the Stone), where Sir Ector reveals the pike in his castle's moat is there on purpose, as a sort of guard animal — it's meant to keep out any intruders who might try swimming in the moat to test the castle walls for a weak spot.

    Films — Animation 

  • The Box Of Delights: On one of Kay's trips into the box, he is shown the natural world by Herne the Hunter, transforming into different animals each time they encounter a threat. When they are swimming in a stream as fish, the threat is a pike.
  • In The Little Grey Men Series, the gnomes are terrorized by a monstrous pike.
  • The Once and Future King: In the first book, Merlyn transforms young Arthur into a fish after the boy wishes for it, leading to an encounter with an enormous pike who rules the castle's moat and argues that might makes right and that power is the only thing worth respecting, before trying to eat Arthur. Merlyn intends this excursion as a lesson against absolute monarchy, and how it leads to tyrants like the pike.
    Power is of the individual mind, but the mind's power is not enough. Power of the body decides everything in the end, and only Might is Right.
  • Redwall: Pike are a recurring obstacle to river travel, though they end up eating uncautious vermin more often than heroes.
    • One of Cluny the Scourge's feats includes getting into a fight with a pike. He lost an eye. The pike lost its life.
    • An otterclan managed to capture an enormous pike which they call Stormfin, and use it to great effect to defend their homes (they beat a drum to announce it's being let out so the otters know to get the hell out of the water). Most notably, they release Stormfin against a monstrous, mad water rat called the Gloomer that the wildcat queen Tsarmina sent against them, and which the pike brutally kills. Stormfin has associated its holding pen with regular food, so it will return eventually.
    • A shoal of hungry pike known as the Teeth of the Deeps lives in the lake where Marlfox Island is situated, making escape impossible and approach difficult. The Marlfoxes feed dissident beasts to the pike, so naturally karma (and the pikes) bites them when Lantur is pushed into the lake by her brother Mokkan, who is later knocked into the lake while trying to escape and ripped apart by the ravenous pikes.
    • "The Sable Quean" has an Ax-Crazy hedgehog named Triggut living on an island surrounded by pikes, which he gets around by throwing small fish at them and pushing off while they're in a feeding frenzy. He's defeated when a badger comes along and injures one of the pike, setting all the other pike after it while Triggut is left tied to a tree.
  • Warrior Cats: RiverClan cats sometimes deal with pike, as they live by the water. Leopardstar's Honor has one opportunistic pike grab hold of Blackclaw, ready to eat him until Leopardfur and several more warriors rescue him. Just then, a larger pike emerges from the water and eats the smaller pike, as real-life pike sometimes do.
  • In Watership Down a story is told about The Trickster Folk Hero El-ahrairah outsmarting a hungry pike:
    Once, so they say, he had to get home by swimming across a river in which there was a large and hungry pike. El-ahrairah combed himself until he had enough fur to cover a clay rabbit, which he pushed into the water. The pike rushed at it, bit it and left it in disgust. After a little, it drifted to the bank and El-ahrairah dragged it out and waited a while before pushing it in again. After an hour of this, the pike left it alone, and when it had done so for the fifth time, El-ahrairah swam across himself and went home.

    Live-Action TV 
  • River Monsters naturally had an episode where Jeremy investigated how dangerous pike actually are and whether or not they pose a credible threat to humans. Pike-like fish such as the alligator gar also appear on the show.

    Mythology & Folklore 
  • In Kalevala when the heroes of Väinölä sail to Pohjola in order to recover the magical Sampo they are stopped by a giant monstrous pike. Both Lemminkäinen and Ilmarinen fail to kill it, but Väinämöinen manages to lop slice it to pieces and makes the world's first kantele from its jawbone.
  • In Swedish folklore, lakes and waterways are patrolled by Trollgäddor, supernatural creatures that take the form of large pikes. They range from being nuisances to being very dangerous.
  • In contrast the gar appears to have been revered in indigenous cultures in North America and the Caribbean, though the only remnants of the actual meaning are Creek and Chickasaw "gar dances".

  • Ted Hughes describes pikes as almost supernaturally fearsome, cannibalistic and voracious in his poem "Pike," and describes at the end a pond home to such ancient and enormous pike that he did not dare fish there after nightfall.
    Pike, three inches long, perfect
    Pike in all parts, green tigering the gold.
    Killers from the egg: the malevolent aged grin.
    They dance on the surface among the flies.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The giant pike is, well, a giant pike that can eat goats, deer and humans. They're around nine feet long but can reach lengths of twenty feet (real pike are usually less than two feet long).
  • Middle-Earth Role Playing: The pike of the Entwash river can grow to seven feet in length, and pike in general are tenacious predators that, once they bite down on something, will not let go until either they are badly injured or they succeeded in tearing off a mouthful of flesh. Luckily for humans, they rarely attack swimmers unprovoked.
  • Pathfinder describes giant pike as aggressive predators that will attack any living thing they encounter. Like those from its parent game, they vary between nine and twenty feet in length.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Stirpikes can reach twenty feet in length and are the largest freshwater predators in the Empire. They're highly aggressive, and will gladly devour anything that crosses their path.

    Video Games 
  • Animal Crossing: Pikes are relatively uncommon fish, only found in rivers during the Winter.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, Slaughterfish are basically pikes in all but name; being relatively small, aggressive, freshwater fish. A certain Thieves' Guild quest in Oblivion even features a giant one.
  • Maneater: Muskellunge show up as the starter enemy for the Maneater when she's a baby. After her first growth spurt they stop being anything more than an annoyance. The fact that they're native to the northern US while the game is set in the Gulf of Mexico gets lampshaded by the narrator.
    Narrator: The muskellunge, or "muskie", is a fresh-water fish commonly found throughout the Great Lakes region... so I have no idea what it's doing here.
  • The Ocean Hunter: The player briefly encounters Pikefishes as one of the common enemies in the fourth level, after piranhas.
  • Unravel Two: One level requires the Yarny duo to cross a lake, at one point having to jump on a pike to get to the next platform. The pike is aggravated and tries to hunt them down.
  • Averted in Valheim, where pike are huge but completely harmless to the player.