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One Split Second: Triceratops Vs. Tyrannosaurus rex. Artwork by Luis Rey.
The Ceratopsians are a specific suborder of dinosaurs from the Marginocephalia clade that first emerged during the Late Jurassic and increasingly gained prominence during the Cretaceous, becoming the most abundant group of armoured herbivores nearing the end of the Age of Dinosaurs.
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Like its close relatives, the Pachycephalosauria, ceratopsians are herbivores with a very striking appearance. In their case, frills behind their skulls and a select series of horns on their brows and nose. Naturally, the closest living animals we can liken to the Ceratopsids are the bull and the rhinoceros.

Because of the similarities we see between them and modern bulls and rhinos, ceratopsians are often depicted as among the more aggressive and territorial of the numerous herbivorous dinosaurs that are shown in fictional media. More often than not, they will be seen in herds, yet it's also common to see members of one another duke it out against one another either for mates or for territorial lands. Additionally, ceratopsians will also make an offensive stand towards neighbouring predators.

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Because our perception of ceratopsians is very limited and heavily inspired by bulls and rhinos, this can be seen as an example of Artistic License – Paleontology, though there is also some evidence that this is Truth in Television, such as fossils of broken horns, likely a sign of a ceratopsian having lost it in a battle against rival or a predator.

The Trope Codifier is Triceratops, which is the best-known member of the ceratopsians and one of the most notable Stock Dinosaurs. It became popular through a series of combinations like its appearance in The Lost World and for being depicted as a rival to the Tyrannosaurus rex, since they lived in the same time period and location. The second most common Stock Dinosaur of this kind is Styracosaurus, for having some film roles and a very distinctive look, though Pachyrhinosaurus and Protoceratops have become a little more notable over time, partly thanks to the bizarre look of the former and the latter for being the find that confirmed that dinosaurs laid eggs, and its famous fossilization in a duel against a Velociraptor. Any ceratopsian featured outside of them is subject to being a Seldom-Seen Species.

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Compare Rhino Rampage, Cruel Elephant and Brutish Bulls, for modern-day animals whose popular portrayals closely resemble (and often influence) those of ceratopsian dinosaurs. Also compare Headbutting Pachy for another case of herbivorous dinosaurs being portrayed as aggressive and dangerous. Contrast Gentle Giant Sauropod and Social Ornithopod, which are examples of a specific group of dinosaurs being socially docile and approachable. One common form of Xenophobic Herbivore.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dinosaur King: Many of the episodes centre on the D-Team's attempts to stop the Alpha Gang from capturing more dinosaurs. Some of these episodes revolve on certain ceratopsians who become rattled under the slightest provocation by one of the two teams and would not allow themselves to be captured without a fight. Subverted with Max's Triceratops, Chomp, who is friendly and docile towards his friends and allies and only fights when he has to.
  • Doraemon: In Nobita's Dinosaur 2006, the heroes get driven away by a Triceratops for getting too close to its herd. Later, the Triceratops are shown to be especially aggressive towards the dinosaur poachers, mainly due to being parents and their young, and they end up breaking free with the rest of the dinosaurs.
  • Dragon Ball features dinosaurs in the series's setting. In a filler arc set after the battle against Kid Buu, Goku decides to look after a Pterosaur nest. He sees a Triceratops duking it out against a Ferocisaurus, not caring if the Pterosaur's eggs are caught in the battle. Goku is forced to intercept and take the squabble elsewhere.
  • Gantz has the antagonistic aliens disguise themselves as upright-standing Triceratops in a museum for them to surprise-attack the protagonists.
  • Seton Academy: Join the Pack!: Mikado-sensei is a Triceratops teacher. He is mild-mannered for the most part... except when he threatens to gore Jin for being unreasonable.
  • You Are Umasou: A Triceratops becomes aggressive and attacks Gonza's pack in an effort to defend itself, although it loses and is soon killed by Baku.

    Comic Books 
  • Age of Reptiles: One section of The Journey storyline involves a baby Triceratops being reunited with its parents after being in danger by a Tyrannosaurus rex, only to be promptly scolded by the adults for putting itself in harm's way. Later on, a Triceratops and an Ankylosaurus get into a small squabble against one another after their infants are poisoned by eating mushrooms.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: In one story, "Escape From Forbidden Valley", the Ducks get their plane destroyed by a Triceratops mistaking the plane for a rival male trying to steal its mate (due to the plane's propellers looking like three horns).
  • Xenozoic Tales: "Mack" is the general term used to describe the living ceratopsians which include Triceratops and Styracosaurus. Although they are herd animals, they are noted to be startled and prone to rampaging if threatened.
  • Flesh: Every single dinosaur in the storyline is depicted as feral, bloodthirsty monsters, and the Styracosaurus and Triceratops are no different, making them an exaggerated example.
  • In the Transformers comics by IDW Publishing, Slag/Slug, was a fighter from the very beginning, even taking over the Dinobots following a disagreement with Grimlock. He eventually came to realize if the Cybertronian race was to be at peace, he and other battle-oriented robots had to go, and so died fighting against Bludgeon when Unicron attacked Earth.

    Documentaries 
  • Adventures Of Ceratops features this quite a bit, since they're the focus. In particular is aconfrontation between a herd of Sinoceratops and Zhuchengtyrannus, as well as a one on one fight between a T. rex and Triceratops note .
  • Dinosaur Planet: In the episode, Little Das's Hunt, the titular Daspletosaurus and his family back away from a herd of Einiosaurus, who upon noticing the tyrannosaurs's presence, immediately form a wall together for protection and to drive them off. Incidentally, this also allows the Maiasaura siblings, Buck and Blaze to make a getaway.
  • The Dinosaurs features an animated sequence of an aggressive triceratops (implied to be male) attacking a family of T. rexes note . It doesn't end well for it.
  • The Truth About Killer Dinosaurs creates a simulated battle between a Tyrannosaurus rex and a Triceratops. The series also displays how a battle between two males occurs during a mating season would go and how a Trike would stand its ground against an attacking T. rex, showing the Triceratops as a territorial animal all around.
  • Walking with Dinosaurs shows a herd of Torosaurus, with males fighting against one another in order to win the affection of females to mate with. The loser promptly leaves the herd in shame. They're also rather fussy about the presence of predators, with adults driving away a pack of Dromaeosaurs from an infant's corpse and the Tyrannosaurus mother keeping a good distance away from them, instead just settling for a Triceratops corpse.
  • When Dinosaurs Roamed America: The fifth and final segment showcases a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex in a hunt. His appearance immediately alerts a Triceratops herd who promptly band together to drive the tyrannosaur away from them and their young.

    Fan Works 
  • The Geeky Zoologist's reimagining of Jurassic World has two ceratopsian species with a significant appearence, Triceratops and Pachyrhinosaurus. Though they are herbivorous and seems relatively placid if undisturbed, they can be very dangerous if they are under agression or a state of panic.
    • The stampeding herd near the middle of The Edge of Chaos includes several Triceratops and those are responsible for the deaths of several grey guards and visitors. Earlier, some mounted grey guards avoids riding near them since they know that they can be temperamental, not unlike modern-day elephants.
    • In the beginning of The Fallen Kingdom, a group of Pachyrhinosaurus are one of the biggest threats during the Battle of Burroughs as they rampage through the city in their panic, trampling countless people on their way.

    Films — Animation 
  • Dinosaur subverts this with Eema, an elderly Styracosaurus who, whilst being rather snarky and cantankerous, has a good heart.
  • The Good Dinosaur: Subverted with Forrest Woodbrush, a Styracosaurus who, despite his large and menacing appearance, turns out to be a pretty relaxed individual who also happens to house several small critters as pets that are perched across the spikes on his frill.
  • Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs: While a herd of Triceratops does appear, they are only concerned with the safety of their own kind. One scene shows a young one excited by the presence of the Ice Age gang, only for the father to promptly tell him to catch up in a stern, gruff tone. The video game adaptation plays it straight by having Triceratops as obstacles or bosses.
  • The Land Before Time:
    • Topps is one of the defining examples of a rather unsocial herbivore in fiction. A "Three-Horn" (or more accurately, a Triceratops), Topps firmly holds onto the belief that his kind is incompatible with hanging around and playing with other kinds of dinosaurs. His passes on this belief to his daughter, Cera, who initially doesn't get along with Littlefoot (a Longneck) at first. Like her father, Cera herself is bossy and temperamental, butting heads against the Gang of Five (and later Seven) whenever things don't go their (or her) way. Gradually, however, Topps and Cera do begin to move away from this mindset and become more accepting of the other dinosaurs. They're still prone to being bossy, though.
    • Not all Threehorns, however, share the same prejudiced view towards other dinosaurs as Topps and Cera (initially) do, with the latter's nephew and niece, Dina and Dana being rather playful, Tria, an old accomplice to Topps being outright friendly and her and Topps's daughter and Cera's half-sister, Tricia acting rather similar to Dina and Dana. The closest to a temperamental Threehorn is a Pachyrhinosaurus named Mr Thicknose, who at worst, comes off as a Stern Teacher.
  • Speckles: The Tarbosaurus:
    • Torosaurus are shown to live in herds, although males would fight against one another during mating seasons. The title character takes advantage of this and kills the loser after he exhausts and separates himself from the herd.
    • Averted in the sequel, Dino King 3D: Journey to Fire Mountain, with Dusty (an infant Monoclonius) who is not only timid and scared but happens to become friends with a Tarbosaurus pair and a Carnotaurus.
  • Walking with Dinosaurs features this a lot when its protagonists are a herd of Pachyrhinosaurus. Scowler in particular is a very bad-tempered bull.
  • We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story: As with the other three captured dinosaurs, Woog the Triceratops was initially a hyper-aggressive beast before being converted into an anthropomorphic and tame pet via the Brain Grain.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Age of Dinosaurs features genetically altered dinosaurs escaping and wreaking Havok throughout a city. Among them are Triceratops and Einiosaurus, and none of them are in the mood of being placid, instead just rampaging around like the other dinosaurs.
  • Jurassic Park:
    • The Lost World: Jurassic Park shows a group of Triceratops, alongside other herbivorous dinosaurs, being hunted down by a group led by Roland Tembo. Once they're freed, one of the Trikes wastes no time in demolishing the hunters' camp before wandering off into the wild.
    • Averted by Jurassic World, the website of which lists Triceratops as having a "Low" aggression index. The juveniles are even docile enough to be ridden around by children as part of the park's petting zoo attraction.
    • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom downplays this with the Sinoceratops, which is shown to be docile enough to lick Owen while he's unconscious, but fiercely fights off a Carnotaurus that attacks it. When all the dinosaurs are freed, both it and the Triceratops don't hesitate in trampling anyone in their path as they make their way into the wild.
    • Jurassic World: Battle at Big Rock also downplays this as while the Nasutoceratops family are shown to be docile animals who look after one another, they can be very fierce and not above killing their opponent, who happens to be an Allosaurus that tries to attack the young.
  • King Kong:
    • King Kong (1933) had a deleted scene that was meant to show a Styracosaurus that would attack the SS Venture Crew, even eating some of the unlucky ones. A script that never made it to the final cut also focused on a Triceratops that would impale a crew member after being startled by Kong.
      • A Styracosaurus does appear in The Son of Kong, where it notices the returning film crew and angrily attacks them and destroys one of their guns.
    • King Kong (2005): The extended version of the film features a Ferrucutus cerastes, a surviving ceratopsian in Skull Island that looks similar to the Pachyrhinosaurus, unprovoked attacking the crew members of the SS Venture before being bought down by Hayes.
      • The Ferrucutus is given further elaboration in the companion book, The World of Kong: A Natural History of Skull Island. It is described to be a herd animal that is very territorial and fiercely defend their lands from predators. Males would often fight against one another for herd dominance and during mating seasons with these battles being brutal and bloody, it is not common to see the winner killing the loser.
  • The Last Dinosaur: The Triceratops in the film seems to have a score to settle against the Tyrannosaurus rex, complete with biding its time for the T. rex to step by its lair, only for the Trike to strike. It also gets rattled by the presence of humans around.
  • One Million Years B.C. features a Triceratops that pulls no stops fighting against a Ceratosaurus the moment they cross paths. The Trike itself also endangers Loana and Tumak without any concern of them.
  • Planet of the Dinosaurs has Harvey Baylor, one of the ship's crew members, stumble across a Centrosaurus nest and decides it'd be a good idea to steal one egg. He is killed by the mother Centrosaurus as soon as she finds out about it.
  • The Valley of Gwangi features a Styracosaurus that attacks the humans whenever they cross paths and gets itself into a fight against the eponymous Allosaurus twice in the movie.

    Literature 
  • Astrosaurs has a subversion; one of the main heroes is a Triceratops, but he is The Smart Guy who only fights when necessary.
  • The Dinosaur Lords: Naturally, the setting's residential ceratopsians that include Triceratops, Centrosaurus and Einiosaurus are territorial animals and are no strangers to fighting against one another. Though they can also be pretty placid once tamed as beasts of burden, at least towards their owners.
  • Dinotopia: Usually, any appearing ceratopsian averts this by instead being shown as social dinosaurs who have come to an understanding towards mankind and are willing to live in harmony. That said, they can be very fierce when it comes to protecting themselves and those whom they share companionship with.
  • Dragonfly: The Next Guardian: The setting clearly establishes that herbivores are segregated from interacting with carnivores, hence most herbivores, including the Einiosaurus will threaten and react aggressively whenever a predator is in their presence. Subverted however with Styra, a female Einiosaurus who becomes friends with the eponymous Troodon.
  • Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs averts this with Trike the Triceratops, who is just as friendly as the other dinosaurs.
  • The New Dinosaurs: An Alternative Evolution: The Monocorn (Monocornus occidentalis) is a speculative future ceratopsian had the non-avian dinosaurs not gone extinct. As they are herd animals, males will often fight with one another to determine who would lead their herd across North America and Eurasia, albeit the fights are usually harmless.
  • One book in the Tarzan series, Tarzan the Terrible, features the Gryfs, a modern descendant of Triceratops that also eats meat. Another book, Tarzan at the Earth's Core, features traditional Triceratops (called "Gyor" in Pellucidarian language) which are depicted as extremely aggressive.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Land of the Lost (1974): There is a Triceratops named Spike. A temperamental herbivore, Spike is often seen chasing the Marshall family out of his territory whenever they intrude and has been noted to go up into fights against Grumpy on some occasions.
    • Subverted in the 1991 Series, where the featured Triceratops, named "Princess" is usually friendly and offers rides with Christa and Stink. Unlike Spike, she usually refrains from fighting against Scarface, mainly because the Tyrannosaur has a notorious reputation among the creatures.
  • Primeval:
    • One of the companion novels which takes place after Season 2, Extinction Event shows a herd of Torosaurus, who live in large herds and are described as "aggressively unpredictable". This is best shown when a mother defends her calf and a herd retaliates when attacked by a tank, resulting in them killing one of its drivers.
    • Primeval: New World features a Triceratops that, while usually docile, can be aggressive when provoked. It has a dangerous reaction to the colour red, which is shown when a Triceratops attacks Dylan Weir after noticing her red clothing.
  • Massive Monster Mayhem: Among the giant monsters sent by Master Mayhem to terrorize Earth is Teensy the Tri-terror-tops, a humanoid Kaiju based on the triceratops. Although Teensy's high-pitched voice and children show host side job dilute a bit the terror.

    Puppet Shows 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons features Monoclonius and Triceratops as among the many dinosaurs that inhabit the various realms of the setting. The Triceratops in particular is noted to have a very short temper for a herbivore, immediately attacking and killing any perceived threat for wandering into their territory.
  • Pathfinder: Triceratops and Styracosaurus both have a notorious reputation among herbivores for having a very ill temper and instinctively charging at opponents they deem a threat or anything that irritates them with its presence.
  • Warhammer: The Stegadon, a combination of the Stegosaurus and Triceratops, is an omnivorous dinosaurian beast that patrols the forests of Lustria and is coveted by the Lizardmen as transportation and battle mounts. They are also known for their territorial and highly aggressive nature, and for their tendency to trample and gore creatures that provoke them.

    Video Games 
  • The Archotek Project: Downplayed with the Pachyrhinosaurus, Styracosaurus, Triceratops and Turanoceratops as they're all portrayed as sociable herd animals who get along with other herbivores. The only time they would act aggressive is if they're directly under attack by a predator.
  • ARK: Survival Evolved: The Triceratops, despite being a herd animal is listed to be "Short-Tempered" and will immediately attack players if they get too close or attacked. The Pachyrhinosaurus is arguably worse as it releases a chemical pheromone upon being attacked that causes all surrounding non-domesticated herbivores in the environment to become hostile towards the player.
  • Carnivores: The franchise features Triceratops in the first installment, Dinosaur Hunter 3D and Dinosaur Hunter Reborn and Chasmosaurus in Carnivores 2 and it's mobile port, Dinosaur Hunter. Both of them act like the other herbivores and run away if scared. But if harmed, they will instead turn towards you with the intent to kill.
  • Dino D-Day features The Nazi Party cloning and using dinosaurs as military assets. Among them is a Styracosaurus that is equipped with a Panzer IV turret. Naturally, the Styracosaurus is relentless in pursuing and killing Allies and appears as a boss character to be defeated.
  • Dino Crisis: The second game features a Triceratops pair that unprovoked attack Dylan and Regina after mistakenly thinking they had killed their young. Additionally, their Dino Files also explicitly call them very aggressive when it comes to their approach towards predators.
  • Dino System takes place in the Hell Creek Formation so it's obvious there's always a Triceratops somewhere. Normally, they're docile animals, unless you're playing survival mode where a male Triceratops goes from minding its own business to wanting to kill you on sight whenever it goes into breeding condition.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • The Dragon Ball Z The Legacy Of Goku games features dinosaurs as enemies, with one of them being Triceratops. Earlier in the second game, Gohan and Piccolo must work together to save a village from a highly territorial and oppressive Triceratops herd.
    • Dragon Ball Origins games feature Protoceratops and Triceratops as recurring enemies throughout Goku's adventure in finding the Dragon Balls. The Ceratopsids immediately attack Goku and Bulma upon first notice whenever in gameplay.
  • Final Fantasy VII: The Heavy Tank enemy found near the ruined Gongaga reactor is an angry-looking ceratopsian with tank treads replacing its back half. It uses its horns and treads to ram into the heroes in battle.
  • The Hunter Primal: All of the five dinosaurs encountered in the game are aggressive and territorial, and this includes the Triceratops, the sole herbivore to appear in the game.
  • Jurassic Park:
    • In the Sega Master System game based on the first movie, one of the end-of-level bosses is a Triceratops. It charges at Dr. Alan Grant when it sees him, so Dr. Grant needs to jump out of its way and trick it into getting itself stuck in one of the two trees. Dr. Grant can attack the Triceratops while it's stuck, but the Triceratops can still attack back by kicking dirt at him with its rear legs.
    • Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis: The Triceratops is the most aggressive herbivore in the game. To highlight this, they are the only herbivores that can go under a "Dino Rampage", a trait that is only exclusive to carnivores and is not indiscriminate about leaving behind casualties. It can also engage in a Death Duel against the Tyrannosaurus.
    • In Jurassic Park: The Game, a mother Triceratops immediately takes issue with Dr Gerry Harding for even being close to her young (Harding was trying to help the juvenile) and promptly attacks him.
    • Jurassic World: Evolution: Ceratopsians like Sinoceratops, Styracosaurus, Pentaceratops and Torosaurus are usually docile and comfortable... unless they are all alone. Because they require a good amount of socialization in their lives, Ceratopsians will become discontent and grumpy, often leading to breakouts and rampaging across the park where they have to be tranquillized and put back into their enclosures. They will keep rampaging until they're given a companion under the same species.
  • The Legend of Zelda: While the monstrous Dodongos have varied in appearance over the years, their most common look is that of a carnivorous ceratopsian that breathes fire.
  • Monster Hunter: Usually, herbivores found in the series are peaceful and gentle animals that don't mind a hunters' presence unless attacked. On the flip-side, there are two herbivorous Flying Wyverns that are related to each other; the Monoblos and the Diablos, both of whom are incredibly temperamental, aggressive and prone to striking first at hunters upon noticing them. Both possess traits usually seen with ceratopsians, with Monoblos's facial design being identical to a Styracosaurus and the Diablos having forward-facing brow horns usually seen in chasmosaurines alongside a giant head frill.
  • Pokémon: Shieldon and Bastiodon are Fossil Pokemon clearly based on ceratopsians, though the exact genus is up for anyone's guess. The two of them are subversions of this trope, though; they prioritize defense over attack and are otherwise rather docile and sociable Pokemon.
  • Prehistoric Isle has every dinosaur attacking the player and shooting fireballs at you. Among the featured species are Triceratops and Protoceratops that debut in the sequel.
  • Putt-Putt Travels Through Time has a Triceratops that does nothing but eat, although his Compsognathus buddy mentions his Berserk Button is being called "three-horned face" (which Triceratops means).
  • Saurian has the Triceratops as a playable animal. While females are sociable animals that live in herds and are protective of their young, the males are solitary and only one of them would be seen in a herd. Male Triceratops have to compete against one another and the game actively encourages you to do so as players would have to fight against other males if it means patrolling a piece of land and mating with a female.
  • Super Mario World features fire-spitting Triceratops called Reznors as bosses in fortresses that serve Bowser and the Koopalings and attack Mario and co. with fire breaths from platforms.
  • Turok: The first game, Dinosaur Hunter, features Triceratops mounted by Campaigner Soldiers and equipped with futuristic weaponry. Part of their challenging status comes from their aggressive behaviour. The second game, Seeds of Evil also features a Styracosaurus with a rather similar function, though the Triceratops does return in Evolution where they would attack Tal'Set if he gets too close to them.
  • World of Warcraft introduces a new species of dinosaur known as the Direhorn in the Mists of Pandaria expansion pack. Direhorns are strong, fast and tough and, despite being Gentle Giants, they have been noted to have caused a lot of damage towards invaders and unsuspecting victims.

    Web Original 
  • Spec World has the K'z'k Tuskhorn, a ferocious modern-day ceratopsian from South America so aggressive that it will charge at people on foot, in jeeps, and even in helicopters. It is said to be responsible for more deaths than all the predators in South America put together.

    Western Animation 
  • 64,000,000 Years Ago: A Triceratops is shown to be very territorial about its residential field. Justified, considering that its a mother that is defending her young.
  • Dinosaucers: There are at least two ceratopsians in the primary cast, one on each opposing side. On the side of the Tyrannos, there's Styraco, a Styracosaurus who basically seems to serve as a henchmen to an evil organization.
  • DinoTrux: Among the main cast is Dozer, who is identified as a Dozeratops (part Triceratops, part bulldozer), who comes off the cynical/gruff member of the group, mainly because he initially finds it hard to accept working with Ty Rux. Even after they manage to establish a friendship with Ty and his other friends, he still remains quite the Grumpy Trike.
  • DuckTales (2017): While Tootsie in the original 1987 series is an aversion, being a friendly, dog-like dinosaur companion of Bubba the Caveduck, the reboot series reimagines her as a wild Triceratops who panics after getting brought to modern times and tramples everything in her way. She also comes from a different time period than Bubba, who only manages to temporarily wrangle her before both of them get return to their respective time periods.
  • Gigantosaurus averts this with Tiny, who is a playful Genki Girl. She also has a Cool Big Bro, Trey, who is protective of her and her friends.
  • The Legend of Tarzan: One of the animals Tarzan and friends encounter in Pellucidar is an aggressive Triceratops that chases away the raptors who were stalking Tarzan before, then proceeds to attack Tarzan. This is a Mythology Gag regarding the Gryfs and Gyors from the books (see above).
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles features the Triceratons, an extraterrestrial race of anthropomorphic Triceratops that pit themselves against the Ninja Turtles and are intergalactic warriors who are vicious in their approach. In one such continuity, they are more than willing to destroy Earth if it means taking down the Kraang.
  • Transformers: Whenever the Dinobots make their appearance, one of the mainstays is Slag who transforms into a Triceratops. Even among the usually rambunctious and temperamental members, Slag sticks out like a sore thumb by being the most aggressive and battle-crazed member, to the point where even Grimlock (who himself is pretty crazy) sometimes finds it difficult to discipline him.
  • Valley of the Dinosaurs features a plethora of different species that range between friendly or aggressive. The Triceratops would sometimes act hostile towards the main cast. There is also a Styracosaurus, whose case is justified as it's simply trying to defend her offspring.

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