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Predator-Prey Friendship

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Two characters of different species wish to be friends, or even be lovers, however there is one even bigger issue: They're predator and prey species— one is known to kill and eat the other. Despite their instincts, they end up attracted to each other.

The predator might opt for becoming a Vegetarian Carnivore in order to avoid hurting those of their friends' species. Fantastic Racism is very common when this trope is used as well. In more anthropomorphic or fantastical works, this might bring up a Nature vs. Nurture argument. Usually the characters are animals however fantasy creatures count as well.

Sub-trope to Interspecies Friendship, Interspecies Romance, and Odd Friendship. Super Trope to Predator Turned Protector, where the predator protects the prey friend against other predators. Might overlap with Starcrossed Lovers if romantic.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Phantom Quest Corp.: The first Incident File is about a reformed vampire, named Bosco, and Makiko, a 19-year old college freshman. She was a regular patron at his tea shop, which is how they met and eventually fell in love. Makiko was the reason Bosco changed and she helps by allowing him to feed on her — four times a year at 200cc's per quarter.
  • Beastars is similar to Zootopia in that it takes place in a modern World of Funny Animals where predators and prey are two distinct groups with a tense relationship. Unlike Zootopia, however, here the carnivores genuinely crave the flesh of herbivores and run the risk of going feral. As such, this trope is put under the microscope in every way possible. The most prominent example is Legosi, the wolf main character, and his relationship with Haru the bunny. Even though he loves her and is extremely protective of her, he still finds himself craving her flesh and has to perfect his self-control to be near her.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side: One strip showed a wolf offering flowers to a sheep. The caption reads, "Inevitably their affair ended: Howard worried excessively about what the pack would think and Agnes simply ate the flowers."
  • Garfield: Garfield usually doesn't chase mice (being lazy and all) and is friends with some.

    Films — Animation 
  • Zootopia takes place in World of Funny Animals. It's been thousands of years since predators have hunted prey, however there is still a fear between herbivores and carnivores/omnivores. The main tension of the film is the Fantastic Racism between the animals. The two leads, Judy and Nick, are a rabbit and a fox respectively who end up becoming friends over the course of the film.
  • The Fox and the Hound features a variant where they aren't prey and predator, but are still natural enemies. A fox kit named Todd and a Bloodhound puppy named Copper become friends however are too young to realize that Copper is a hunting-dog. When they meet as adults it becomes clear that they can't be friends anymore. They end up fighting however Copper doesn't let his owner shoot Todd.
  • In The Land Before Time series, the main characters are friends with a young sharp tooth, Chomper, whose egg they find without knowing who its parents are. Justified in that they act as parental figures before Chomper's real parents find him. When they reunite a few movies later, Chomper helps his friends hide from his parents.
  • In the An American Tail series, Tiger (a cat) likes mice, not to eat, but as friends.
  • In Madagascar, Alex the lion is the best friend of Marty the zebra, Gloria the hippo, and Melman the giraffe. Being a zoo animal, Alex has no idea where steaks come from— and when they are released to the wild, he is shocked to find out that his friends are his natural prey.
  • In Cat City, Cathy the kitten befriends Samu the mouse, despite her father Safranek forbidding her to play with a "filthy rodent".
  • The Lion King: Predation Is Natural in the series. Lions are treated as a royal family who rule over other animals in their kingdom. The lions are shown to be friends with their prey but there's little animosity or fear between the animals. This creates Carnivore Confusion in The Lion Guard as Kion and his friends regularly "save" prey from their predators.
  • Moana:
    • Moana has a pig, Pua, as her close animal companion; at the beginning of the movie she is chewing on pork and exclaims "That's good pork!", upon which Pua gives a distressed reaction - and then she goes into "Oh, eh, oops, didn't mean that..." mode, trying to apologize to Pua.
    • Maui, the demi-God, takes Moana's other animal companion, Hei-Hei the rooster, with him with very clear intentions about what he's going to use Hei-Hei for: he exclaims "I'm going to enjoy you... in my belly" and repeatedly calls Hei-Hei "Drumstick". However, at the end of the movie, Maui accepts Hei-Hei as a close friend of Moana's, and foregoes the intention to eat him.
  • Diego in the first Ice Age film wanted to eat the other characters. He was only pretending to be their friend. After being with them for a while, he actually became their friend and underwent a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Finding Nemo:
    • Nigel is a pelican who is a loyal friend to the fish in the dentist's aquarium and who plays a major part in their escape at the end. When Nemo points out that Nigel would normally eat them, Nigel says that the fish in the aquarium are his friends even though normally "a bird's got to eat".
    • Bruce the shark and his gang of friends are a group known as the Fish-Friendly Sharks that try to live under the mantra "fish are friends, not food". While he does lose control at the smell of blood, his friends Anchor and Chum try to protect Dory and Marlin from his frenzy. After coming back to his senses, he yells for Dory and Marlin to escape the mines he accidentally set off. At the end of the movie, he's still their friend, and Dory stills attends the sharks' meetings.
  • Kung Fu Panda has, among the Furious Five, two predator animals, Tigress and Viper, yet they're all good friends. Word of God said that Tigress is a Vegetarian Carnivore who only eats noodles and tofu.

    Literature 
  • Arashi no Yoru ni is a book series about a wolf named Gabu who befriends a goat named Mei. They end up running away together in order to avoid their family's criticism. The books heavily deal with Gabu trying to avoid his predator instincts.
  • Tailchaser's Song:
    • After saving a squirrel, Tailchaser owes the squirrels and convinces the other cats to stop hunting them. He regrets this, being uncomfortable with it and feeling it is unnatural. In the end, in gratitude for the squirrels help elsewhere, Prince Fencewalker dubs a specific forest a neutral ground where it's safe for prey animals to coexist amongst cats.
    • Tailchaser has a friendly conversation with a crow, but there's still a tension between the two. The crow's son even asks afterwards if they can eat Tailchaser.
  • Bird and Croc is a children's picture book about a parrot and a crocodile who hatch next to each other and grow up thinking that they're brothers.
  • In The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, Maurice the intelligent cat works with a group of equally intelligent rats and a human kid to run a Monster Protection Racket. However, he secretly does this as The Atoner because he knows that he became intelligent in the first place by eating one of the rats.
  • In Bravelands Fearless is a lion cub who is taken in by baboons after his father is killed and he is driven out of his pride. Fearless never quite fit in with his adopted family, however he was still a valued member of the troop. Fearless later befriends an elephant as well.
  • Midnight, from Warrior Cats, is a badger who can speak cat, fox, and rabbit as well as their species' language. This ability has led her to learn a lot about the cats and their culture, and she has become a trusted ally, helping the warriors on numerous occasions and even helping them when other badgers went to attack.

    Music 

    Puppet Shows 
  • In The Muppet Musicians of Bremen, Catgut decides to give up chasing the rats, due to her old age, and befriends them.
  • Sesame Street: Big Bird and Slimey the Worm are friends, though they rarely interact. But at least Big Bird doesn't try to eat him.

    Video Games 
  • Serana and the Dragonborn can be this in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, provided the Dragonborn is not a vampire, nor a werewolf. Serana is a vampire and part of Clan Volkihar, who are known for keeping human cattle within their castle. The two of them even evolve into Platonic Life-Partners,

    Web Comics 
  • Kevin & Kell has the main characters being a rabbit and a wolf who are married. Despite being in a World of Funny Animals, Carnivore Confusion is not a problem. Animals can kill and eat each other, but if an animal is killed and not eaten then it is considered murder. This element of the series only highlights the oddness of the main character's romance.
  • Justified in Sandra and Woo. Sid (a squirrel) and Shadow (a fox) were raised side-by-side in captivity after both of their parents were run over by cars, so they're practically brothers. This sometimes causes problems when Sid stops by to visit, since Shadow's mate and kits don't have the same connection to him.

    Web Original 
  • Subverted in this fan-animation to the song "But I Know I'm A Wolf" by Young Heretics. The wolf starts out hunting a rabbit but gives up partway due to wanting to befriend it. The wolf however can't ignore its instincts and ends up killing the injured rabbit anyway. It doesn't like its decision afterwards but couldn't stop itself.
  • In an episode of the online cartoon Annie Ben and Mango, an anteater named Charo decides that she doesn't want to eat ants anymore because her best friend is an ant named Chaz. The heroes spend the entire episode trying to help her find something else she can eat so she doesn't starve.

    Western Animation 
  • Looney Toons:
    • Sam the Sheep Dog and Ralph the Wolf are Punch Clock Villains to each other. Ralph only steals the sheep when on the job. After work, the pair are friendly towards each other and their shift replacements covering them.
    • In "Birds of a Father", Sylvester is shocked when he finds that his son is friends with a bird, and Sylvester Jr. is shocked when he learns that cats are supposed to eat birds.
    • While Sylvester usually chases after Tweety with intentions to eat him, in "Snow Business" they do get along well, only for Sylvester to go hungry and attempt to eat Tweety due to the lack of food (except for bird seed) in the house.
    • In "A Mouse Divided", the stork mistakenly delivers a baby mouse to Sylvester and his wife. While Sylvester initially wants to eat it, his wife immediately stops him after the mouse calls her Mama. And later, when Sylvester gets to be alone with the mouse, his wife unable to stop him from eating him, Sylvester changes his mind when the mouse calls him daddy.
  • In the An American Tail series, Tiger (a cat) likes mice, not to eat, but as friends.
  • CatDog: Played with involving Cat and Winslow. While Cat never tries to eat Winslow, the two don't exactly get along too well.
  • Tom and Jerry:
    • Some shorts in the MGM Studio days had this dynamic between the notorious pair, many episodes where Tom expresses sorrow or remorse after he thinks Jerry is dead, or Jerry feeling pity when Tom is kicked out of the house. There was one episode in which the two started off as friends, and Tom only began to chase Jerry after his owner threatened to evict him if he didn't.
    • The later Hanna-Barbera episodes had the two characters as friends who found themselves with some new problem or adventure every week. There was absolutely none of antagonism between the two that existed in the older works.

    Real Life 
  • There has been at least one case where a lioness, who had recently lost her own cubs, stole a baby antelope from its group and kept it as her own. The calf ended up dying of starvation.
  • Humans are on top of the food chain. Almost all animals can be eaten, though cultural preferences, laws, and personal preferences decide which a person eats. Humans regularly keep common prey animals like dogs, pigs, horses, chickens, and goats as companion animals. Even those who use animals for work often bond with them.

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