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Xenophobic Herbivore

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Oftentimes, fiction will portray plant-eating species as being rather friendly, but many more recent works have taken to subverting that trope and depicting intelligent herbivores as irrationally xenophobic, particularly towards intelligent carnivores and omnivores. In these settings, humanity is usually absent and replaced with a World of Funny Animals. However, should humanity still be present, it is very likely that it will be considered a predator species by these herbivores, and dealt with accordingly. Some such treatments happen to elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses and formerly gorillas, whose their great power and tremendous size make them dangerous to most smaller predatory animals.


In real life, herbivores tend to be the prey of something else, so a variety of different species will react to strange things with a strong flight-or-fight response. Relatedly, herbivores that are normally chummy with each other and other plant-eaters may be instinctively afraid of carnivorous and omnivorous species.

In certain situations, these herbivores may outright kill the predatory species and eat their carrion.

The inverse of Herbivores Are Friendly, may or may not appear with Predation Is Natural or Predators Are Mean. Frequently overlaps with Absolute Xenophobe. No direct relation to Evil Vegetarian, despite the similar connotations.

Animal Stampede happens when multiples of Xenophobic Herbivores appear to run over other animals or other objects.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Beastars, herbivores tend to regard carnivores with anything from wariness to active hatred. As it's common for predators to murder prey for food or even just hurt them by accident, this attitude has its justifications, but doesn't excuse the excessively sadistic retaliations some powerful herbivores inflict on carnivores, like burying their ashes in a personal carrot garden and feeding the carrots to unsuspecting students.
  • In Oumagadoki Doubutsuen, one of the villains in the Circus Arc is a stallion-man who's incredibly prejudiced and racist towards carnivores, calling them stupid and brutal, and is show expressing contempt both for Shishido and Uwabami (a lion and a snake) and also for his own comrades Byakkov and Toytoy (a white tiger and a poodle). He immediately takes a liking for Kisazou, an elephant, because he's a "fellow herbivore", but as soon as he see him protecting his carnivore friends he turns hostile and attacks him.
  • The Orb Piercer from Made in Abyss is a large porcupine-like creature that feeds off of moss. It does, however, have razor-sharp poisonous needles growing from its back that induce profuse bleeding and can penetrate metal. It is also fiercely territorial, attacking any delvers who enter the Cup of Giants.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Land Before Time has this, with the herbivores even tending to avoid other herbivores before they all ended up in the Great Valley. The narrator even comments on this, mentioning that "there had never been such a herd before" when referring to Littlefoot, an Apatosaurus, and his friends, who consist of a Saurolophus, a Stegosaurus, a Triceratops, and a Pteranodon (the last of these was actually a carnivore in real life.)
  • In Zootopia, the Big Bad is able to inflame the historic tension between predators and prey by setting up a conspiracy to cause some predators to "go savage" and then manipulates the prey population's fear of being attacked for their own political ends. The trope is downplayed in that the herbivore population is shown to be quite diverse where some herbivore characters are bold, while others are timid, and others are just citizens reacting to a crisis situation. While the fear of "the other" is at play, the story is more about how a crisis can create a fear that can be manipulated instead of a specific type of citizen (i.e., herbivores) always being naturally xenophobic. A straighter example is the elephant manager of an ice cream shop who tells Nick, a fox, to leave in a scene which very much resembles racism and only agrees to serve him after Judy, a rabbit, lightly threatens to report him for health code violations.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The sheep on Farmer Hoggett's farm in Babe have learned to trust the young pig, since he's polite and non-threatening. This stands in contrast to the working dogs Rex and Fly, whom the sheep still call "wolf". It becomes a plot point when Babe is sent to herd blackface sheep that don't trust him, and Rex beseeches the Hoggett sheep for a means to signal the other sheep that Babe can be trusted.

  • In Larry Niven's Known Space universe, the Pierson's Puppeteers are grazers primarily motivated by fear and regard all other species with suspicion at best. The only ones who are willing to even leave their homeworld and speak with others are considered insane by their fellows. They're also responsible for a couple of genocides and eugenics experiments on humans and Kzinti.
  • In The Jenkinsverse, most sentient alien species are descended from herbivores. As a result, they tend to view any species that consumes meat with either suspicion or dread. This becomes a problem for humans trying to find proper nutrition after their release from abduction, and a bigger problem for humanity as a whole while trying to enter the galactic stage, as the established political powers find our binocular vision and canine teeth horrifying, (meaning a human can't even smile without causing fear) and comparisons to the Always Chaotic Evil Hunters are always being made even long after the Hunters themselves declare humanity their enemy.
  • The rabbits in Watership Down really don't trust any other lifeform, up to and including unfamiliar rabbits. They're not necessarily aggressive about it, much preferring to run and hide than fight, but that's mostly because they're not really equipped for combat- if they do run across something they can kill, and it's not easier to run, they'll kill it without too much thought. Their entire mythology as presented in the book centers around them being a kind of designated Hate Sink for the animal kingdom. (That isn't entirely unjustified, seeing as almost everything they come across does try to kill them.)
  • In The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign, this trope is one of the ways that Kyousuke's title of Rabbit is meaningful. Having been trained in an abusive household, his strategic brilliance is fueled wholly by his fear of/for everyone alive, including the girl who has saved his life twice and constantly reiterates that all she wants is to be with him. He can't even bear to watch the tense parts of movies.
    Shigara: It’s like how a kitten learns. When a kitten hops up onto the stove and gets burned, it will never approach the stove again.
  • The Lost Fleet: The bear-cows fit the bill perfectly. They are descended from herd animals and sincerely believe that everything else in the universe wants to kill and eat them. This fear led them to first ravage their homeworld's biosphere, wiping out all life-forms not absolutely essential to their continued survival. Then they looked at the stars, and saw a myriad planets, full of life-forms, just biding their time until they could sink their teeth into some roast bear-cow... and decided to do something about it.
  • A downplayed example in Animorphs: Andalites are herbivorous aliens and ostensibly the "good guys" in the war against the Yeerks, but as the series goes on and shifts into Black-and-Gray Morality we learn that their involvement is anything but altruistic, and they look down on "less advanced" species like humans.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Traveller, the K'kree Empire is determined to eradicate all carnivores and convert omnivores to vegetarianism (or else). Fortunately, their other neuroses such as claustrophobia, monophobia, and resistance to change have limited their expansion.note 

    Video Games 
  • In Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth, the Villain Protagonists of the Junessic Land movie are a group of xenophobic herbivores. The conflict from their movie started when one of their own started disagreeing with them, which they considered heinous enough to turn against him.
  • Lonely Wolf Treat: The rabbit village, led by Juju, definitely qualify as this, even going so far as to build a wall around the village to keep it rabbits-only.
  • Monster Hunter: Monoblos and Diablos are truck-sized wyverns known for their massive horns and even more massive tempers. They are among the most aggressive and territorial beasts you can fight. They are also herbivores. In Monster Hunter: World, you can sometimes find a Diablos happily munching on cactus.
  • The sheepkin of Them's Fightin' Herds aren't bigoted, but they are so cautious that Pom is hailed as a genius hero just for suggesting they should do something about the oncoming apocalypse. Sheepkin who leave their native fields are so rare as to be historically notable- and this is in a Sugar Bowl world entirely devoid of predators!
  • In the Star Control series, the Zoq-Fot-Pik are a triumvirate of non-carnivorous races who evolved on the same planet and joined together in perfect harmony. They also completely eradicated the Zebranky, a fourth race from the same planet which was carnivorous - specifically, targeting them. They also make it clear that they will annihilate anyone threatening their world, although it's mostly bravado as they're desperate for allies.

    Web Comics 
  • In In Our Shadow rats are so afraid of everything that they cannot tolerate the presence of other species that haven't been cowed into submission. In their empire's home territories this is accomplished by a "submission signal" while on the rest of the planet they use good old-fashioned military force enabled by their technological advantage. When the lemurs get access to human mechs that can fight their machines the rats literally wipe Madagascar off the map. However, it's later discovered that Emperor Schorl uses a "fear signal" to amplify rat xenophobia as a means of controlling them.
  • The rabbits, especially the Rabbit Council, in Kevin & Kell are sometimes portrayed as this. Kevin himself is an exception, who was teased as a kid for not being scared of everything.

    Web Original 
  • Serina: The Woodcrafters are a species of deer-like herbivores that evolved sapience as a result of being hunted by the also sapient trap making Gravediggers. Their group living nature allowed them to turn the tables on the Gravediggers and drive them from their forest refugia, they also began to kill or drive off any other carnivores living in the refugia and not just the ones that pose a threat to them but also the small ones that feed on pest animals which had the side effect of causing these pests to explode in number and do damage to their tree homes and crops. After the carnivores were all driven out, they started becoming bolder and warriors would start venturing out of their territories to slaughter predators for sport, including the Gravediggers who explicitly avoided targeting them at that point but this practice was stopped when one young Woodcrafter discovered the Gravedigger's tree art and came to the realization that they were murdering fellow sapient beings and adopted a young Gravedigger who was orphaned in such one such hunt.

    Western Animation 
  • Season 3 of The Lion Guard introduces Mama Binturong's porcupine henchmen for the first villainous herbivores in the series.
  • Bojack Horseman: The Squeakivus Festival, celebrating the anniversary that a backwater Mouse Knight assassinated a tyrant Cat King. Sure, King Puss Puss was The Caligula (and possibly Vlad the Impaler, but worse) and had to be stopped, but Saint Squeaky's message of the underdog fighting to help others no matter the odds has been twisted into fighting all cats everywhere, even the ones who reject their carnivorous natures or are underdogs themselves. It's explicitly considered racist.

    Real Life 
  • To most herbivores, anything they're not familiar with is a potential threat to themselves or their young. Smaller herbivores will typically try to run from larger potential predators, while larger herbivores might not react or they might take action to eliminate the potential threat to their offspring.
  • Horses need to be trained very extensively not to spook at surprises, horses trained for combat situations especially so. And even then they'll instinctively kick anything that walks up behind them.
  • Many small pets, such as budgies and mice, need to be hand-tamed (which depending on the individual animal can be quite a task). They're little prey animals so humans are instinctively dangerous to them.
  • Hippos take this to an extreme. They may only eat plants, but they are also extremely aggressive, territorial, and their jaws can bite a crocodile in half. Oh, and they can easily outrun humans, even on land. It's telling that Steve Irwin, who famously considered wrestling with crocodiles fun and regularly handled extremely venomous creatures, considered the most dangerous thing he ever did to be crossing a river full of hippos.


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