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Thank Your Prey

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Pick clean the bones of Pokémon caught in the sea or stream.
Thank them for the meals they provide, and pick their bones clean.
When the bones are as clean as can be, set them free in the water from which they came.
The Pokémon will return, fully fleshed, and it begins anew.
— "Sinnoh Folk Story 1", Pokémon Diamond and Pearl

The character is doing something akin to saying grace, but instead of addressing a deity, they are talking to their food. They might thank an animal they killed for its meat, or apologize to it for the kill, justifying it with the kill's necessity for their own survival.

This is usually a sign that the hunter in question is in tune with nature, possibly a Noble Savage. This may also be a common practice among a Proud Hunter Race. Expect them to make use of all parts of the animal, too.

Compare Apologetic Attacker.

In contrast, it's something an Egomaniac Hunter or Evil Poacher is not likely to do.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dr. STONE: The very first thing Tsukasa does after being revived is to kill a pride of lions with his bare hands. After the deed is done, he says that he must make use of the lions' corpses to honor them. Conveniently, because he was Naked on Revival, this provides him with lion skins he uses to make clothing.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has Ed and Al stuck on an island in a flashback. They catch a rabbit and apologize for killing it, thanking it for extending their lives.
  • Kino's Journey: Kino apologizes to the rabbit she kills in one episode.
  • Sgt. Frog: In one chapter of the manga, Natsumi is called in to deal with one of Keroro's invasion schemes that involved exploiting Earthlings' dependency on cattle, which somehow lead to Giroro being turned into a minotaur-esque half-cow, half-Keronian monster and going on a rampage in the Keronian base. When Mom brings home hamburgers for dinner later that day, Natsumi feels inspired to do this trope.

    Comic Books 
  • ElfQuest: In Kings of the Broken Wheel 5, there's a bit of gentle ribbing of Pike, because he always thanks his prey for the meat, even though it can't hear him anymore.
  • Sillage has a case of "Sorry, but I need your meat to survive" from Nävis on the very first page, while she's taking aim. The Püntas in Gearing Up have a tradition to this effect as well, to the degree that the yak-like animals walk up to them for slaughter before dying of old age.

    Fan Works 
  • Hooves and Talons: It's revealed this is a large part of Griffin culture, who are carnivores and eat meat. This helps Rarity come to accept Griffin culture a bit better when the band she's making designs for explain that they want bones in the design because using every part of an animal is showing gratitude for it dying so they can eat.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Avatar: Thanking your prey is part of the Na'vi's hunter culture. After making a kill, one is supposed to say, "I thank you (relative). While your body stays with us, your spirit returns to Eywa".

  • Always Coming Home: For the Kesh people, it is considered necessary for a person to sing a song after killing an animal on a hunt. A shortened version (a single line) is required even for butchers. A supershort version (one word) is mandatory even when swatting a fly or picking a flower.
  • The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness: Torak and Renn are both seen thanking their prey and promising to use all of it as required by Clan Law. Villains who kill animals and waste the parts often get a Karmic Death, and this was once exploited to slow Torak down by forcing him to kill a crazed boar that attacked him.
  • Dream Park: In the holodeck-style LARP in The Barsoom Project, one encounter requires the adventuring party to defend Humanity on Trial for its sins as defined by the Inuit belief system. After successfully defending humanity against the charges of murder and abortion, they hit a stumbling block when the prosecution charges Western society with failure to uphold this trope. Exhibit A: the meat-packing industry. Exhibit B: Let's Meet the Meat. Luckily, one of the players is a stand-up comedian by profession, and his testimony demolishes the prosecution.
  • Earth's Children: Jondalar, Ayla's mate, is often described as asking the prey he just killed to confer his thanks to the "Great Earth Mother".
  • Emberverse: Younger members of Clan Mackenzie begin doing this when they hunt.
  • Guardians of Ga'Hoole:
    • Wolves from Beyond the Beyond have a thing at the end of every hunt where they lock eyes with the prey they kill. Doing this is apparently an insurance of the prey getting to the afterlife, and if you can't lock eyes with someone, you basically go to hell, as a not-so-unfortunate bad guy finds out.
    • When Soren sees Eglantine's friend playing with a dying mouse in The Shattering, he gets furious, kills the mouse and eats it as a Mercy Kill, and tells that friend off.
  • Journey to Chaos: In a desperate situation, Zettai uses her new Bladi powers to reach into a creature's chest and remove their heart. She thanks them and then eats it.
  • Julie of the Wolves: Happens in one of the books. The hunter also apologizes to the animal whose carcass he was unable to retrieve.
  • The wolves in Louise Searl's Kona's Song perform a special howl called the Hunt Song after a making a kill, which sends the prey's soul to the afterlife. When they see a human kill an elk, they are horrified that it performs no such ritual.
  • Last of the Mohicans: Demonstrated after the deer hunt, where the hunters thank the spirit of the deer for giving its body so that they could live.
  • Lord of the Clans: Thrall learns to do this after becoming a shaman. Specifically, when he can't find anything to hunt, he calls upon the nature's spirits. A few seconds later, he happens upon a deer and kills it. He thanks the deer for its sacrifice and tells his hunting partners that none of the animal will go to waste. They will eat the meat, drink the blood, and use the bones, the hide, and the tendons to make tools and clothes.
  • The Old Man and the Sea: A inversion of sorts. The eponymous Old Man recalls an incident when he and his apprentice apologized to a fish they'd just caught, although the attitude behind the trope is more or less the same.
  • Redwall: The Abbot/Abbess says a prayer to this effect whenever the inhabitants eat a meal of fish.
  • Saturday The Twelfth Of October: The prehistoric tribe the main character accidentally ends up with does this before eating anything living, such as grubs or ants.
    Then, impishly, she added what Sonte had told her so often, "You must thank them, you know, or else they will turn to poison in your belly!"
  • Star Trek Novel 'Verse:
    • The Pahkwa-thanh are a reptilian race of carnivores who believe their prey animals have souls, and honour the creatures they bring down and kill.
    • Star Trek: Voyager Relaunch introduces a Klingon tradition of thanking your prey. B'Elanna does so while participating in the "Challenge of Spirit" wilderness survival rite.
  • Warrior Cats: The Clan cats thank StarClan for their meals before eating. This is defied by Tigerclaw, as a sign of his arrogance and contempt for tradition. He feels he doesn't owe StarClan thanks because he caught the prey on his own.

    Live Action TV 
  • The final episode of the David Attenborough nature documentary series Life of Mammals has the persistence hunting sequence end with the bushman performing one of these.
  • Christy: "The Sweetest Gift" features the mixed-race Billy Long teaching Creed Allen the importance of thanking a turkey's spirit after shooting it.
  • Grimm: In the first-season episode "Let Your Hair Down", Nick and Monroe find a litter of animal bones in the forest while tracking a suspected Wesen. Monroe explains that it is a knochen hof (literally a "bone yard") arranged as tribute to the animals who died so the Wesen could eat.
  • Supernatural: In one episode, the angel Castiel, in full Cloud Cuckoolander mode, serves ham sandwiches with ham he obtained himself. He says that he comforted the pig before slaughtering it.
  • That's So Raven: In the Halloween episode, vegetarian Chelsea accidentally ends up eating a burger when her and Raven's orders are switched. She is later seen wearing a pin button with a cow's face and reads poetry to apologize to the animal she ate. In a strange twist of fate, her guilt for eating the hamburger would later result in her and Raven turning into cows at Alana's Halloween party.
  • True Blood: Amy, a Fantastic Drug addict, blitzed on vampire blood and in the midst of sex with her boyfriend, turns and slurs that they ought to thank their supplier, Friendly Neighborhood Vampire, Eddie "for the gift he's given us." Since Eddie has been kidnapped, chained to a lawn chair in their basement and forced to watch their antics, he replies with a sullen burst of profanity.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu: In the supplement Terror Australis, adventure "City Beneath the Sands'', Power Boy (who had some relationship with Aboriginal deities) could call animals and ask that they allow themselves to be eaten. If they agreed, he praised their beauty and courage.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • A recurring trait of nature-loving good races, or at least Noble Savage races, is that they do this, as well as striving to only take what prey they need for food and other goods.
    • One Prestige Class in Book of Exalted Deeds has, as its highest-level ability, the power to summon a large group of bears to fight on their side once per day. If any of the bears are killed in battle, they are expected to harvest and make use of as much of the bears as possible (meat, bones, skins), and give anything that remains a proper burial. Every time they fail to do this, there's a cumulative 20% chance that the power will fail, wasting its use, the next time they try to summon bears.

    Video Games 
  • League of Legends: Udyr is in lore a wild druid-fighter with the power to channel animal spirits through his body, and in gameplay a "jungler" who spends most of his time fighting neutral monster camps (raptors, wolves, the occasional odd dragon, etc.) in the jungle of Summoner's Rift. Unlike pretty much every other champion in the game, he fights them with utmost respect, thanking them for their sacrifice and pledging to keep their spirits alive through their gifted strength.
  • Pokémon Diamond and Pearl: It's mentioned you should thank the spirit of the Pokémon before eating it.

  • Kevin & Kell has this show up at times. At one point Rudy is upbraided for venturing into Jerk Jock territory, and is asked if he's grateful for everyone else involved—his teammates, his coach, and the prey that they all hunt down and kill. Said prey shows up to agree with the point made.
  • Sinfest:
    • In one strip, Slick thinks Squigley is praying before eating. The latter corrects him, saying that it's closer like an apology to the chicken sandwich.
    • In another strip, Squigley thanks the cow who sacrificed itself to be turned into his cheeseburger before voraciously eating.

    Western Animation 
  • The Ant and the Aardvark: When the Aardvark would confront the Ant at the start of "Technology Phooey," he'd say "Sorry to eat and run, but you know how it is."
  • Samurai Jack: In "Jack and the Hunters", Aku hires a band of alien hunters who live for the hunt to bring Jack down. They succeed in doing so, but not before he gives them the greatest hunt in their careers, so great that they refuse to hand him over to Aku, then let him go and leave him a message thanking him and telling him to "run free."
  • Molly of Denali emphasizes the importance of directly thanking plants and animals that "gift themselves" to be eaten or used for other purposes. Molly's parents tell her that salmon are caught only when they choose to give themselves up for that purpose

    Real Life 
  • This is a real tradition found around the globe, connected with the belief that animals have a spirit/soul that should be honoured.
  • The German inscription in the bottle of Jägermeister: "It is the hunter's honour that he protects and preserves his game, hunts sportsmanlike, and honours the Creator in His creatures". Jägermeister means "master hunter" in German.
    • A German tradition when hunting deer or boars is der letzte Bissen, or "Last Bite". When killing one of these animals, the hunter will place a sprig of (usually) oak in its mouth as a sign of respect before it dies.
  • There is a joke that goes as follows: A priest is walking through the woods when a bear attacks him. He falls to the ground crying, "Oh, Lord, make this bear a Christian." A moment later he hears growling that sounds like, "May the Lord bless this food that I am about to receive."
    • A variant of this joke has the bear attack a rabbi, and say hamotzi (the blessing over the bread).