So you're moving into a new place, taking a break between boxes to meet the neighbors. The guy from Apartment 4 down the hall seems nice enough, but for some reason you can't quite put your finger on, you feel there's something off about him. Maybe it's the glassy-eyed menagerie of stuffed animals he keeps in his study. Or the fact that he prepared all of them himself, including his late dog.
This trope is when taxidermy is portrayed as an innocuous yet somehow sinister hobby that provides a handy shortcut for writers looking to establish a character as strange or unnerving. The taxidermy-enthusiast isn't necessarily evil, per se, but this hobby doesn't help to assuage anyone's fears. In this respect, compare the Creepy Mortician.
See Human Head on the Wall for when taxidermy is taken to its creepiest extreme.
- In that HSBC ad, a woman ran away from a date's home, because of all the trophies of animals. And also because she believed that the mother was stuffed too.
- Chuck Testa likes to terrorise people with life like stuffed animals, before revealing that NOPE its Chuck Testa. And can appear in your bed.
- In Steam Detectives, the sinister Lang-Lang (Evil Counterpart and sister to Ling-Ling) is quite fond of taxidermy. Her introductory story involves kidnapping and drugging Narutaki, with the intent of doing it to him.
- While not exactly taxidermy, in Beautiful Bones: Sakurako's Investigation Sakurako-san makes mounted skeletons, including those of her pets. She's . . . focussed. On bones.
- The minor villain Sports Maxx from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean is revealed to have taken up taxidermy as a hobby... which quickly foreshadows his ability to bring back the dead, including his taxidermy creations, as invisible zombie spirits.
- In one issue of Tales from the Crypt, an old woman's husband decides to take up taxidermy as a hobby as grudge against her rescuing stray animals. Because this is Tales from the Crypt, you just know this is going to go horribly. After he stuffs and mounts her pet cat, she stuffs and mounts him.
- Judge Dredd: Human taxidermy is perfectly legal in Mega-City One and is considered a valid alternative to cremation or burial. (Obviously, murdering people before you stuff them is still considered murder and thus illegal.) Some people find it disturbing nonetheless.
- In Violine, one of the rooms of the mansion is filled with stuffed animal heads.
- In A.A. Pessimal's Discworld fic Nature Studies and Why and were, the Ankh-Morpork small businessman Chaim Bechdel is introduced. He runs an All-Night Twenty-Four Hour Taxidermists, which is handy for the heroine to have three dead baboons done, as a rush job for delivery in the morning. It Makes Sense in Context. One recipient is not exactly overthrilled to wake up to a large dead ape first thing in the morning. In Why and were, it explains the in-depth knowledge Gaspode the Wonder Dog has about Howondalandian wildlife as "everyone's gotta eat, miss, and Chaim trucks the innards out round the back and leaves the workshop door open."
- Coraline had Spink and Forcible and their wall of stuffed Scotty dogs. Every time one of their many Scotty dogs died, they'd have them stuffed and dressed in angel garb.
- The villain of Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls has filled his office to the rafters with stuffed African fauna, which he seems to enjoy showing off, much to Ace's horror.
- The landlady in Amélie keeps her cheating husband's loyal dog stuffed and mounted on a table, staring at a picture of its old master. This is meant to show how pathetic the woman is. (It works.)
- The killer protagonist in the Joe D'Amato (The Anthropophagus Beast) film Beyond the Darkness uses his taxidermy skill in preserving his dead girlfriend. The corpses is excavated in grisly detail.
- The B-movie Bloodlust, featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, combines this Hunting the Most Dangerous Game. Although it is the rich villain's lackeys who perform the actual taxidermy.)
- One candidate for being the killer in Happy Birthday to Me is a creepy nerd who has taxidermy as one of his odd hobbies.
- In Kingsman: The Secret Service, Eggsy sees a stuffed dog in Harry's home and thinks there's something very wrong with him for keeping it around after killing it as part of his training. Harry reveals that he did shoot at his dog, but it survived — the gun he'd been given was loaded with blanks — and he kept it as a pet until it died of natural causes 11 years later. He had the dog stuffed because he loved it so much, and also to serve as a reminder of the sacrifice Eggsy's father made to save Harry's life.
- In Psycho, taxidermy is one of Norman Bates' hobbies.
- Brad Wesley in Road House, so much so that Roger Ebert commented, "This guy went hunting in the zoo," while Mike Nelson instead ponders whether Wesley went on dozens of safaris to bag all those animals or simply dropped a daisy cutter on a watering hole.
- Shoot 'em Up. The film has the Heroes Love Dogs trope, but the Big Bad Hammerson also has an Alsatian he's fond of. Then Hammerson is shown stuffing the dog's predecessor.
Hammerson: Don't worry Duchess, this ain't going to happen to you. Not for a few years anyway. (Duchess whimpers)
- In Stoker, India and her father are avid hunters with a large collection of taxidermy game birds. It has definite echoes of Norman Bates.
- Averted in Dinner for Schmucks. Creepy behavior abounds in the film, and the schmuckiest trait of Barry (Steve Carrell) is that he makes dioramas using stuffed mice. It turns out, however, that the dioramas are quite sweet and artistic. It's played straight for the artists who did the dioramas for the film, as they had to avoid using real mice because they looked creepy.
- Taken to eleven in the Hungarian film Taxidermia, wherein one of the protagonists does not only prepare animals, but also "special" works like fetuses. And as his masterpiece, he stuffs his dead father, and himself
- Part of what clues John in of Dennis's mental state in The Evil Within is his sudden interest in taxidermy.
- The villain of Paddington is an evil taxidermist working at the British Museum. In a very funny sight gag, we see an entire wall of her office is decorated with mounted animal heads... and when she passes through a door into the next room, their bodies are on the other side.
- In Hatchet, Victor's shack is filled with all kinds of creepy, partially-taxidermied critters: one of which proves to be Not Quite Dead when Ben goes to move it.
- In 68 Kill, Liza's sugar daddy Ken's den is lined floor-to-ceiling with his hunting trophies: including a giraffe. The effect is very creepy and marks his status as an Asshole Victim. It is in his den that Liza cuts his throat.
- The Wolf Of Snow Hollow: The killer is the local taxidermist, who used animal pelts to create a wolf costume that he kills in.
- Beatrice and Vergil by Yann Martel is all about a man who helps a taxidermist write a story about his stuffed donkey and monkey.It's an allegory for Nazi Germany, the taxidermist was a Nazi, and then he tries to kill the protagonist when he finds out, burning the shop and Beatrice and Vergil in the process.
- The landlady in Roald Dahl's short story "The Landlady" shows her guest the pets she has had stuffed, a parrot and a dachsund. It's heavily implied that she's poisoned his tea with cyanide and plans to stuff him next.
- Monday Begins on Saturday mixes this with Taxidermy Terror and plays for Black Comedy. Cristobal Junta is a nice man most of the time, but then there's this:
Almost no-one was allowed in his office, and disturbing gossip went about the Institute that he had a multitude of intriguing items there. They said that the corner was occupied by a magnificently executed stuffed figure of one of Cristobal Joseevich's old acquaintances, an S.S. standartenführer, in full dress uniform, with monocle, ceremonial dagger, iron cross, oak leaves, and other such appurtenances. Junta was an excellent taxidermist. According to Cristobal Joseevich, so was the standartenführer. But Cristobal Joseevich was sooner. He liked to be the soonest in anything he undertook.
- In Harry Potter, Sirius Black's aunt Elladora started the family tradition of beheading the family's house elves when they got old, and put their heads on walls like hunting trophies. This is one of the many ways the Black family is shown to be deranged and seriously creepy.
- In Animorphs, the Nartecs kill and stuff shipwrecked humans, preserving them in a disturbing facsimile of their previous existence.
- In the P. G. Wodehouse story "Unpleasantness at Bludleigh Court", creepy taxidermy decorates the titular place throughout, since the residents are viciously fond of hunting.
- Happens in Robert Rankin's Garden of Unearthly Delights. It's not so much the extensive collection of small taxidermied animals that make the villain creepy, it's the fact that they are all positioned to act out various chapters of the Kama Sutra.
- Used in the Joe Pickett novel In Plain Sight. Wyatt, the youngest of the Scarlett brothers, is generally regarded as 'odd' and 'not quite right'. One of his hobbies is taxidermy.
- In The Trolls, one of Aunt Sally's stories is about a woman named Maude, who allegedly bagged an impressive number of cougars in her years as a huntress. Sally and her brothers initially consider her a Cool Old Lady and are impressed by her taxidermy collection until they realize that she's a little unhinged and starts shooting birds, squirrels, and the postman (he was just grazed) thinking that they're all cougars. Sally mentions that the only reason they didn't make a break for it was because they were terrified that if they did, she might shoot them.
- In The Golgotha Series, Clay, the town taxidermist, is creepily obsessed with death: for instance, he only agrees to help Jim on the condition that he'll get to taxidermy Jim's mule if it dies. He is soon revealed to be a Mad Scientist obsessed with reanimating the dead.
- Justified in the Wildwitch series by Lene Kaaberbol. The protagonist looks at the antagonist's childhood room and sees a badly taxidermied bird. It turns out the bird was the antagonist's beloved pet, which she was not allowed to take to boarding school with her. Her father promised to make sure they'd allow her to take it. And so he did. They had no rule against dead pets.
- Mostly Dead Things is about a family of taxidermists. Various characters find it unsettling.
- Sam the Cat: Detective: In The Maltese Kitten, Sam is deeply unsettled by all of the stuffed or skinned endangered animals in Big Bad Casper Gutless's home.
- Randy Mann on Pushing Daisies ("Frescorts"). He was actually a pretty nice guy though.
- The Janitor. "Anyway, in my spare time I also enjoy stuffing animals. Usually with other animals." He's apparently responsible for converting all the squirrels that lived around the hospital into a stuffed squirrel army.
- Rowdy — Turk and J.D.'s stuffed dog whom they play around with. Other characters are occasionally unnerved by the dog, but for the most part J.D. and Turk's antics with Rowdy are Played for Laughs. It should be noted that J.D. and Turk didn't stuff Rowdy themselves, they bought him at a yard sale.
- An episode of NCIS has a taxidermist who was part of a plot to get revenge on Ducky.
- One of the Ice Truck Killer suspects in Dexter is into crypto-taxidermy. Debra cites it as proof that he really is the killer, but Dex insists the real killer would find it pathetic.
Debra: How do you know?Dexter: (Beat) Because it is pathetic.
- Also, in the same episode Masuka reveals that indulges in taxidermy and has a mummified chupacaba. This does nothing to convince his coworkers that he isn't creepy.
- In the The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "Elegy", three shipwrecked astronauts encounter a mausoleum where anyone willing to pay its exorbitant fees could have their corpse "eternified" and put on display, "living out" their fondest dreams posthumously. It eventually turns out that Wickwire, the automaton caretaker, has taken the attitude that Humans Are the Real Monsters, and ultimately he poisons the three with eternifying fluid and gives them their own diorama set up to look as though they'd finally fixed their ship and were about to take off for home.
Wickwire: Because you are men, and while there are men, there can be no peace!
- One of the killers in Criminal Minds was a crazy taxidermist who was killing his victims in order to use their eyes in place of the eyes of the animals he was stuffing.
- Victor Rodenmaar in House of Anubis keeps various stuffed creatures, including his raven Corbierre. Every one of them is creepy as heck.
- In the Slings & Arrows episode "Geoffrey Returns", Geoffrey has a creepy taxidermist render Oliver's head so they can use the skull as Yorick. The taxidermist is very excited about the project.
- CSI: In the episode "Leapin' Lizards," the CSIs come across a murdered woman who had her head removed and mounted on a wall.
- Played for Laughs (like everything else) in Whose Line Is It Anyway?. Ryan has to portray a taxidermy expert, and gets the idea to go stock-still and unblinking for the entire sketch.
- In the Haven episode "Fur", animals stuffed by Landon Taylor and his mother Piper and her unnamed father, including both Landon and Piper, magically come to life, often very unhappy about being killed.
- Midsomer Murders: In "A Rare Bird", one of the suspects is a vegetarian taxidermist. He regards his work as giving animals a second life.
- Professor Elemental is a "mad taxidermist", who experiments with sewing parts of different animals together to create new ones (while they are living) in his song, "Animal Magic". The animals get their comeuppance in the end.
- Russel from the Gorillaz band has taxidermy as a a hobby. Specifically, sewing different animal parts together. Even Murdoc finds the results unsettling.
Russel: Since I got into taxidermy I find it's a great way to pass the time and also gives the animals a real dignified ending.
Murdoc: Are you in some sort of K-hole? There's nothing really dignified about the poses you set them in, Russel. They look really... startled.
Russel: I just wanted to break new grounds in that area, advance the tradition and bring a whole hip hop attitude to the taxidermy world. I've been cutting and pasting different animal styles together. Yaks with lizards, hogs and zebras... it keeps the whole thing fresh, y'know? Once they're done you can customize the animals with bass-bins, under-lighting, alloy wheels... a kinda "Pimp-My-Rhino" thing.
- Played with in The Magnus Archives. One statement is about a fraud investigator who visits a taxidermy place called The Trophy Room and makes a deliberate effort not to judge the proprietor by the reputation of the profession. Then comes the end of the statement when this trope is played very straight. The proprietor he tried not to judge? Taxidermy himself, an ally of some nightmarish deliverymen, and owner of some far too animate taxidermy. Later episodes play into this very strongly when the taxidermist who created said proprietor is revealed: an entity called the Angler Fish, which skins its victims to make the hides into taxidermy simulacrums of people, turns the rest into still-living waxworks, and feeds on their fear the entire time.
- Sam & Max Hit the Road: Conroy Bumpus has dozens of stuffed animal heads in his home at Bumpusville. Then they turn out to be animatronics who can talk and sing; some of them recite a limerick about John Muir, and some others provide back-up vocals for Conroy's Villain Song "King of the Creatures".
- In the point-and-click adventure game The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Serrated Scalpel, the taxidermist turns out to be the one who was hired to kill the victim, and is said to have frequently done odd-jobs of dubious morality in addition to his public profession.
- There is a DLC stand-alone adventure for Heavy Rain called "The Taxidermist", where Madison has to infiltrate the house of a man who stuffs the bodies of murdered women. It's probably scarier than anything in the actual game.
- In Resident Evil 2, Police Chief Irons has taxidermy as a hobby, and was planning on stuffing the mayor's daughter before his death.
- The villain in Brink of Consciousness: Dorian Gray Syndrome is fond of keeping the perfectly-preserved bodies of his victims in huge glass tubes all over his mansion and grounds.
- It turns out in Mad Father that Aya's father had taken an interest in taxidermy when he was a young man. For years, he had been experimenting in the basement trying to perfect his talents. What's even more disturbing was that he was obsessed with turning his own daughter into a doll with his taxidermy skills. If he knew anything about taxidermy as a child, he probably would have been willing to do the same with his mother. The man has some serious issues he has to work out. Aya is turned into a sentient doll, or takes on the hobby herself. It's not known if she does so on all her patients or just the ones she fails to save.
- Norman Ward in Phantasmat 5: Behind the Mask combines this with Hunting the Most Dangerous Game, keeping a secret room full of stuffed and mounted visibly-terrified people.
- Monkey Island:
- In Escape from Monkey Island, the evil hunter Ozzie Mandrill has a whole room filled with Australian animals and other specimens that he's bagged. The intended effect is to show him as an amoral poacher, but it's creepy all the same.
- In The Curse of Monkey Island, Mort the gravedigger has four heads mounted on his wall, one of which is human — but don't worry, three of them are fake.
- Phantasmagoria 2: Paul Allen Warner's office is absolutely stuffed with mounted animal heads. Just in case his villainy was still too subtle to pick up on.
- In Homestuck, Jade's grandfather was an adventurer and big game hunter. His hunting trophy room is her least favorite in the house, and she finds Grandpa Harley more difficult to face now that he himself is stuffed and mounted in the living room.
- American Dad!: Steve, who is often shown to be awkward and creepy, mentions that he uses a taxidermy armadillo to practice talking to women.
- In Family Guy, Brian the family dog is unnerved to discover the owners of his late mother (who seemed quite nice up until that point) had her stuffed and converted into a coffee table.
- Alan Alda's second memoir is entitled Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I've Learned, largely because he devotes a chapter to how, after his pet dog died and his parents had it stuffed, the poor work of the taxidermist made it a terrifying monstrosity that wiped out any good memories of the pet.
- Derren Brown's house is filled with such things, including an 8-legged mutated lamb and a stillborn giraffe. Creepy.
- The stuffed lion of King Frederick I of Sweden looks almost nothing like a living lion. Legend says the taxidermist didn't have any reference images of real lions, so he did the best he could.
- As a young child, American serial killer and necrophiliac/cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer was unusually interested in his father's taxidermy of small animals and enjoyed collecting dead animal parts. Much like animal torture, this proved to be an early warning sign that he would later become interested in preserving human bodies in a similar manner.