In fiction, particularly if the prey can talk, carnivores are often evil, and all the heroes are herbivores. The predator's desire to eat the prey makes the predator a villain, or at least, a Designated Villain. For instance, if the heroes are mice, often Cats Are Mean; if the main character is a squirrel, then Dogs Hate Squirrels. And even if the main character is a dog, that is the Villain Protagonist at best. In works involving talking animals, carnivores almost always fail to catch their prey. (Sometimes, their prey actually defeats them!).
This is a common way to deal with predators in talking animal fiction. This trope may be one of The Oldest Ones in the Book, despite predators serving a vital ecological role (no apex predators=too many herbivores=ecosystem completely collapses), or needing to eat meat to live. On the other hand, to the mouse, what the owl is like inside isn't as relevant as that it's trying to eat you. When the story focuses on a prey animal, there's not a lot of ways to keep predators from being monstrous. Sapient Eat Sapient is a justified case of this, since there are sapient predators that know what they are doing and sapient prey that has a right to live. The more anthropomorphic they are shown to be the more likely they are to overhunt. There are still a few ways to avoid this though, the most famous being with the fish-eating characters who are often spared sympathy thanks to their targets being non-sapient (see No Cartoon Fish for more about that trope).
Subtrope of Good Animals, Evil Animals and Always Chaotic Evil. Often seen in conjunction with Carnivore Confusion. Can overlap with Humans Are the Real Monsters, and maybe even Humans Are Cthulhu (particularly in Xenofiction). Goes hand-in-hand with Super-Persistent Predator, Herbivores Are Friendly and Scavengers Are Scum. Contrast Predation Is Natural. In-universe might explain the Xenophobic Herbivore. May be one of the reasons why Reptiles Are Abhorrent—note that lizards and turtles, two groups that include herbivores, get to be protagonists more often than snakes and crocodilians, which are all predators. At times some predators appear as a non-anthropomorphic third party in a conflict either because they are the only true animals or because they have no interaction with the established individuals in which case they may be neutral characters just as likely to eat the bad guys- if not more so.
This trope is practically never Truth in Television, obviously enough. Very few predators have ever been observed to engage in apparently deliberate cruelty, and herbivores are usually much, much more violent and dangerous than the existence of this trope would suggest. After all, if a carnivore loses a fight, it can always run off and catch something easier for dinner, but if a herbivore loses a fight, it becomes dinner. Please do not list Real Life aversions - nature averts this by default, playing it straight is by far the more remarkable.
- Inverted in Toriko: We're told of the Death Gore, a gargantuan herbivore beast who almost caused the end of the world by devouring whole tracts of forests and woodlands on his way. Eventually the disaster was averted when the Death Gore's pack was totally annihilated by a single predator, the Battle Wolf, which is carnivorous.
- In the first episode of Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl, Piplup is captured in the web of an Ariados and has to be freed by Dawn. Later on, an entire swarm of Ariados come back to trap them, and Piplup is forced to use Bide in order to fend them off.
- For a strip that endeavors to educate us about nature, Mark Trail still falls into this trope sometimes, the narration describing "villainous wolves" and similar.
- In Barnyard, Dag the Coyote (pictured above) is a really mean predator coyote, willing to eat even a baby chick just to satisfy his hunger. Needless to say, in an otherwise lighthearted film about farm animals goofing off, he throws that out of the window just by showing up.
- The Land Before Time:
- Carnivorous dinosaurs, called Sharpteeth, are the main villains. In the first movie, a Tyrannosaurus rex named Sharptooth is the main villain. He is a nearly invincible killing machine, killing huge apatosaurs twice his size, surviving a 700-foot drop with just a mild coma, and leaping and running effortlessly. He is ultimately dispatched by being tossed into a lake and being hit on the head with a giant rock.
- One of the many sequels does give us Chomper, a child Sharptooth who does not attack Littlefoot & co because they raised him for some time after he hatched. He and his parents show up in a later sequel, where they do refrain from eating the protagonists again (although it's implied that if the parents had found them without Chomper around, they would have eaten them anyway. The dad implies that the main reason he isn't interested is because they were hiding in smelly plants and thus were unappealing).
- The fox in The First Snow of Winter goes out of its way to try and eat Sean even after it catches the much fatter Voley.
- Disney Animated Canon:
- In Tarzan, a leopardess named Sabor is one of the main villains. She is eventually killed by Tarzan when he kills her by impaling her with a knife after an battle.
- Glut the Shark in Disney's The Little Mermaid actively tries to eat Flounder and Ariel in the shipwreck until they manage to trap him in an anchor.
- Dinosaur: Mimicking The Land Before Time, none of the predatory dinosaurs ever utter a word.
- In Zootopia, when a predator goes savage, the trope is played straight but outside that scenario, the trope is zig-zagged all over the place. A mafia boss is portrayed by an arctic shrew, a ruthless predator, but one of the most kind-hearted characters in the movie is a cheetah. In addition, the most gruff and cantankerous character is Chief Bogo who is a cape buffalo and the ruthless Big Bad is also a prey animal.
- The Rugrats Movie has a huge vicious and scary wolf named Scar Snout who is portrayed as over-hunting.
- Subverted in One Stormy Night. Most of the antagonists are wolves however they're not mean because they're wolves, they're just mean wolves. Gabu and some background wolves aren't portrayed as malicious. Gabu is a sweet wolf who becomes best friends with a goat named Mei. Gabu tries to become a vegetarian and, even though Mei dislikes Gabu hunting, they both realize that is impossible.
- In Leafie, a Hen into the Wild, the closest thing to a Big Bad the film has is the one eyed-weasel who nearly kills Leafie and kills both of Greenie's biological parents. The film subverts this near the end as Leafie learns the weasel isn't any worse than she is. The one-eyed weasel's a mother who needs to feed her newborns. Leafie lets the weasel eat her so her children can live.
- A Bug's Life has an aggressive and vicious bird who attempts to eat Flik, Dot, and the Circus Bugs.
- Jurassic World's website lists most of its carnivorous dinosaurs, pterosaurs and sea lizard as having high "Aggression Indexes" (in layman's terms, the carnivores have Hair Trigger Tempers). Plot relevant ones include the infamously carnivorous Tyrannosaurus rex, long-time villains Velociraptor, the fish-eating pterosaur Pteranodon and SHARK-eating sea lizard Mosasaurus. Given what Jurassic World is like, it's possible that they did this on purpose so the animals could live up to the expectations of the public, as most of these animals would have been relatively docile in real lifenote . In the raptors' case this is consistent with how they were depicted in the previous films and the Pteranodons' high aggression level is a plot point in the film, seeing as the saurian Big Bad of the film frightens them into a maddened frenzy and sics them on a helicopter that was pursuing her. There are exceptions, though; the fish-eating Baryonyx and Suchomimus have a medium Aggression Index, as does the opportunistic pterosaur Dimorphodon. Gallimimus, the one omnivore of the mix, has a low Aggression Index.
- The Indominus rex herself was specifically bred to be mean, because that makes for a more thrilling attraction and a better Attack Animal. It works; she breaks out and goes on a killing spree, For the Evulz as much as for food.
- And then there's her successor: the Indoraptor from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which was also created to be an Ax-Crazy killing machine.
- The Redwall series tends to do this a lot, with the villains almost always being predatory or omnivorous species such as weasles, foxes, stoats, snakes, rats, hawks and other 'vermin' species, and explicitly eat meat-often making comments about eating the hero or hero's friends. The heroes, however, are never said to eat any kind of meat, fish being the only animal they will consume, otherwise being completely vegetarian, even though mice, badgers, hedgehogs and otters, commonly featured among the heroes, are omnivores, domestic cats (which are carnivores), rabbits (herbivores), and dormice (herbivores) don't take sides, bees (herbivores) are bad, and many normal, non-sapient herbivores have been seen. This does bring morality into question as there has been at least one talking, intelligent fish.
- Brilliantly handled in Watership Down, where the the rabbits refer to their multitude of predators as "u embleer hrair" — "The Stinking Thousand." The rabbits live in constant fear and hatred of their predators, casting them as demon-like entities in their mythology. But when confronted with the wanton destruction that humans inflict for no comprehensible reason, they acknowledge that their predators only kill because they have to and that they are struggling for survival not unlike themselves.
- Perhaps one of the most famous examples is The Three Little Pigs. The villain is a The Big Bad Wolf who huffs, and puffs, and— well, you know the story. Anyways, the three little pigs defeat him at the end of the story. In reality, however, pigs and wolves are both omnivores, like humans, eating both animal and plant material. This is very well understood in the older version of the story, where the only surviving pig cooks the wolf for dinner.
- In Larry Niven's Known Space novels, the carnivorous alien Kzinti are aggressive conquerors who nearly defeat humanity.
- Inverted in The Lost Fleet. During the series, the protagonists meet a sapient race of apex predators that resemble a mix between angry wolves and giant spiders. This species, the Dancers, is substantially nicer than humans on average, for the exact reason this trope is normally averted in Real Life-they, instinctively, are not actually wary of any bigger threats than they are, and thus aren't as suspicious as direct-middle-of-the-food-chain humans are by nature. By contrast, the herbivorous, bottom-of-the-food-chain klicks are a cute, cuddly, almost cow-like race of...utter psychopaths.
- In The Bad Guys, this is the main stereotype the four main characters (a wolf, a shark, a snake, and a piranha) are attempting to shake in their attempt to be good guys. Its a rough thing for them to do, however, as most of them are not in full earnest, and still prefer meat. Mr. Snake especially has trouble shaking this role, which nearly jeopardizes a plan to free caged chickens.
- Walking with Dinosaurs: Averted with most predators, but played dead straight with Liopleurodon, which is shown as a "villain" of both episodes it appears in just because it preys on other animals. A bit of a bizarre example, in that in both of the episodes it appears in ("Cruel Sea" and "Giant of the Skies") the creature it is shown preying on or trying to is itself a carnivore.
- In Walking with Monsters, anything that preys upon a human ancestor is shown as a vicious brute, unless it is itself stated to be a human ancestor.
- Played straight in Imaginext's dinosaur toyline. The evil dinosaurs, the Predators, are destroying the environment For the Evulz and are all carnivorous species like Spinosaurus or Velociraptor. Meanwhile, most of the good dinosaurs, the Ecovores, are herbivores, with the exception of the fish-eating Pteranodon.
- Inverted, along with Herbivores Are Friendly, with the Animal Motifs of the heroic and villainous factions in LEGO Castle. The hero, King Leo, has a lion (a carnivore) as his emblem, while the villain, Cedric, has a bull (an herbivore).
- Played mostly straight in the Monster Hunter series. Predators are likely to attack you on sight while herbivores tend to shy away and get killed. There are exceptions however: Diablos is an extremely aggressive and territorial monster which also happens to be herbivorous.
- This is played with in Monster Hunter: World, several monsters of all kinds tend to just ignore you, either doing their own thing or hunting down their regular herbivorous prey. Even certain Elder Dragons like the Kushala Daora and the Kirin, who could be classified as animals above even Apex Predator, tend to mostly disregard your existance unless you decide to attack them. There are exceptions however in naturally extremely aggressive and territorial monsters like the Odogaron, who will roar and attack you on sight as soon as it spots you. Even when they do, however, it's never as a show of malice, in fact most of them see you as a threat rather than prey.
- Played straight in Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4. In the third game in the franchise, some of the predators will hunt you with deliberate intent to kill you over NPCs that might be closer to them. And in some cases, two (or even three) different predators might gang up on you in favor of killing each other note . In the 4th game they added a giant eagle that will swoop down on you with little warning (a slight screech indicates a black eagle is about to attack and you have approximately 2 or 3 seconds to find it before you get attacked and lose half your health) and honey badgers that are not only tiny and vicious, but also extremely tough to kill with anything less than a machine gun. At least the honey badgers do not come in packs. The honey badger's toughness and viciousness is lampshaded in a hunting quest where you are given a heavy machine gun to hunt it down, and before you can fully accept the quest, you must say "yes" no less than 4 times to start the mission.
- In Spore, carnivorous and even omnivorous creatures are more likely to be hostile in the creature stage. The player, however, can choose to defy this trope by playing a carnivore focused on socializing rather than hunting.
- Hamster's Paradise: While this trope is averted for most of the carnivores on HP-02017 its played completely straight by the maniacal ripperoo. A highly intelligent theropod-like predatory rodent that evolved in the harsh Mesoterran Badlands and designed to tear its prey apart and eat it alive due to the lack of features allowing to quickly kill its victims. These factors have caused to become naturally sadistic and enjoy the act of killing rather than only doing so to stay alive. They arent any better towards their own kind either with adult males killing adolescent ones to remove competitors, females eating the young of other females to remove competition for their own and the pups using their weaker siblings for hunting practice, which their mother encourage. Its also heavily implied that theyll evolve into a sapient Always Chaotic Evil species.
- In The Land Before Time TV Series, the main villains are, again, carnivorous dinosaurs. Well, at least they get names. The main villain is a T. rex named Red Claw who has two Utahraptor henchmen named Screech and Thud. Anonymous "Sharpteeth" also appear in the TV series, including two Acrocanthosauruses and several anonymous deinonychosaurs.
- Dink, the Little Dinosaur is a complete rip-off of The Land Before Time, so it's no wonder that it also has meat-eating dinosaurs as villains. The main villain is, guess what, a T. rex named Tyrannor.
- In South Park's Woodland Critter Christmas, most of the titular critters were prey animals (though there was a bear and a fox among them) and had a conflict with a mountain lion who would always come down before Christmas and eat the poor little virgin critter impregnated with their lord and savior. Stan, hearing their story, goes out to kill the mountain lion. It turned out that the predator was good all along because she was stopping the birth of the Antichrist, and it had three cubs who came to mourn their mother's Mufasa-style death.
- Zig-Zagged in The Wild Thornberrys. Eliza would either befriend or run away from a predatory animal, depending on the episode.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, this trope might be better called "Predators are Jerks" — there don't seem to be many creatures that actively go out of their way to prey on ponies, but it's noteworthy that several episodes' worth of more unsympathetic antagonists like Gilda the griffon, the diamond dogs, and assorted dragons at the very least look quite carnivorous. On the other hand, the ponies' pets are quite naturally immune and the trope has an occasional habit of getting (sometimes hilariously) subverted around Fluttershy...
- The spider, the cat, and Pete (who plays a dogcatcher here), in the 1937 Mickey Mouse short "The Worm Turns". Mickey gives their victims, a fly, a mouse, and Pluto (don't think about that second one too hard), a serum to make them more powerful and beat their tormentors up.
- The introduction of Bullet the Super Squirrel in The Powerpuff Girls has this, with the eagle that originally tries to kill Speedy for food is treated like a monster for, you know, being a predator. But then, Bubbles never did care much for animals that werent cute.
- In Alfred J. Kwak, Krabnagel the cat is the only anthropomorphic animal that eats other animals, and although not specifically called out for it is therefore considered especially vicious. Other carnivorous characters avert this trope (don't try to think too hard what they eat).
- In Polish animated series Między Nami Bocianami (Between Us Storks), a hawk, major Kirkor, is the most usual antagonist.
- One episode of W.I.T.C.H. has Hay Lin saving a rabbit from what she deems to be a "mean" fox. All the fox was doing was hunting for food.
- Most of the "evil" animal characters (and minions of Big Bad witch Hedwig) are predatory marine animals in Saban's Adventures of the Little Mermaid including sharks, barracudas, manta rays and a giant octopus.
- Two evil alligators try to eat the cubs in every episode Kissyfur.
- Similar to the example above, two evil wolves try to eat the main characters in Piggsburg Pigs! albeit they are hardly the big bads of the setting as the show has a real scary monster in every episode.
- The Ant and the Aardvark is an animated series about a villainous aardvark trying to eat a noble ant.
- A word of warning: even if it's hardly fair to call them "evil", approaching a predatory animal in the wild is dangerous if you don't know what you're doing. Unless you have proper training, it's best to leave them alone, lest they see you as a threat.
- This trope had a major distorting effect on early conservation efforts in late 19th and, to some degree, in early 20th centuries. Many early conservation advocates felt that, while "moral" species like the deer were worth preserving, "immoral" species like wolves were not and deserved to be hunted to extinction.
Since then I have lived to see state after state extirpate its wolves. I have watched the face of many a newly wolfless mountain, and seen the south-facing slopes wrinkle with a maze of new deer trails. I have seen every edible bush and seedling browsed, first to anaemic desuetude, and then to death... In the end the starved bones of the hoped-for deer herd, dead of its own too-much, bleach with the bones of the dead sage, or molder under the high-lined junipers. I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer.— Aldo Leopold, Thinking Like a Mountain
- A rare real-life example would be the monstrous Gustave, an enormous Nile crocodile who's been observed killing for the sake of killing rather than just for food. Gustave is believed to be at least 60 years old, but might be closer to a hundred, has been the target of several hunts that have all failed, and was last seen in June 2015 while dragging an entire bull buffalo into the water. He's suspected to have killed around 300 humans as well. Albeit, much of his reputation amounts to little more than hearsay.
- Another rare example would be dolphins, dolphins are known to hunt not only for food but also as a social activity within pods and for fun. Downplayed, in that there are also many examples of dolphins saving the lives of humans and other animals, with no apparent self-interest motive.