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Series / Animal Face Off

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Animal Face-Off was a Discovery Channel & Animal Planet documentary where two animals fight to the death in computer simulated battles at the end of the show. Before the actual fight, scientists test out the abilities of the animals. To avoid controversies of animal testing or the danger of trying to capture wild animals, they instead make molds of a skull of the animal and make it into a steel biting machine. There is usually at least one scientist on each side supporting an animal and, like two sports fans, they sometimes trash talk before the fight begins. The show lasted from March to September 2004 (reruns do occur, but they're extremely rare).


Tropes in this series:

  • Achilles' Heel: In some cases, even ONE weakness means death to the loser.
  • Actual Pacifist: Averted in the Polar Bear Vs. Walrus episode.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Colossal Squid Vs. Sperm Whale.
  • Always Someone Better:
    • Although the lion beats the tiger in Asia, the lion could not beat the crocodile in Africa.
    • Croc vs. Shark makes a brief note that as dangerous as great white sharks are, they are preyed on by killer whales.
  • Animal Jingoism:
    • Cases in which an herbivore or other possible prey battles a predator, such as in Polar Bear Vs. Walrus, Leopard Vs. Gorilla and Colossal Squid Vs. Sperm Whale.
    • Big cats & crocodilians are often made out to be enemies, which is reflected in Lion vs. Crocodile.
  • Animal Motifs: One can note some resemblances in look and attitude between some experts and their it a casual thing or not? The big cat expert acts like a young and rather perky showman; the bear trainer is a big guy with a shaggy beard and a calm yet touchy temper; the reptile scientist is a lean, unflappable man with a bit of Deadpan Snarker when arguing with his rivals; finally the primatologist is a pretty woman (remember that apes and ladies are historically associated with each other in media).
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  • Animal Reaction Shot: Many close ups are shown of the animals during the fights. And before the fights, samples are put from which shows how the animal's muscles react.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Well, for starters, if a bull shark encountered an animal unaffected by its bites, it would be far more likely to find something else to eat than continue the fight.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: For the most part, the neck. Though for the crocs and gators, the underbelly.
  • Barrier Warrior: The beginning of Polar Bear Vs. Walrus and Lion Vs. Croc. Though later subverted by the end of the fight.
  • Bears Are Bad News: With the exception of the polar bear, the bears always win.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: At the end of Leopard Vs. Gorilla, the narrator says "Beauty killed by the Beast", even though the gorilla was only defending itself from the attacking leopard. Inversely, the Gorilla expert was rather pretty (a curious example from Real Life of King Kong).
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  • Boom, Headshot!: Bull Shark Vs. Hippo. The narration often points out that Real Life crocodilians often use this, and both the Nile & saltwater crocodile use it against their adversaries. It doesn't work in the latter's favor.
  • Breakable Weapons: Although the elephant kills the rhino, a part of one of the tusks breaks off in the process. Good thing it can grow back.
  • Bullet Time: The slow-motion speed when the machines bite down on a fruit/veggie/meat before the fights to show more detail on how they bite.
  • Butt-Monkey: Although the big cats win twice (Cougar and Asiatic lion, although in the case of the lion it was against another big cat), they also have the most losses (Siberian/Bengal tigers, African lion, jaguar, and leopard). That's 2 for 5. Other animal groups with more losses than wins include the crocodilians (1 win, 2 losses) and the canids (1 loss, 0 wins).
  • Cats Are Mean: All the big cats in this are very tough.
  • Cats Hate Water: Lion Vs. Croc, although it's justified, as it loses.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: The walrus. It's very slow on land, but is a Lightning Bruiser in the water.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Lion vs. Crocodile bears the distinction of being the only episode in which the loser didn't inflict any damage at all.
    • Also Elephant vs Rhino, the only time the rhino touched the elephant is when it tried a headbutt, which didn't work.
  • Cruel Elephant: Elephant vs Rhino ends with the elephant flipping over the rhino and crushing it. Truth In Telivision as there have been documented cases of African elephants killing rhinos.
  • Delicious Distraction: The jaguar loses because it was distracted by a bird call.
  • Food Chain of Evil: Several, with Whale vs. Squid being the most notable.
    • Croc vs. Shark briefly shows a clip of a great white shark being attacked by a pod of killer whales, pointing out that killer whales eat sharks.
  • Fragile Speedster: The colossal squid is very maneuverable but eventually ends swallowed whole by the whale.
  • Giant Equals Invincible: The elephant easily wins its fight with the rhino. In the accompanying game, when pit against all possible opponents from the show, note , the elephant was considered the clear winner against all of them.
    • The sperm whale, the largest animal in the series, defeats the smaller squid.
  • Glass Cannon: The big cats move and strike fast and pack good power, but they have low stamina and are relatively fragile. The wolf, quick-moving and powerful-jawed, really can't take it. The bull shark is similar as well.
  • Genius Bruiser: The elephant, gorilla & black bear are presented in this way.
  • Gorn: Although it's all CGI, apparently it was Screwed by the Network for the violence.
  • Grand Finale: Insofar as a double-length Curb-Stomp Battle that never aired in the U.S. can be considered "grand".
  • Heel–Face Turn: Dave Salmoni plays against the lion in one of the first episodes, but later he defends it against the croc in another episode. He defends the wrong creature both times.
  • Herbivores Are Friendly: Subverted by the gorilla, elephant, rhinoceros & hippopotamus.
  • Hollywood Science: Every single episode basically consists of assumptions over the physical strength of the subjects, a test on animatronic animals, and a fight sequence that will (usually) make the heavier animal win by default.
  • The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: Polar Bear vs. Walrus & Bear vs. Alligator.
  • Killer Gorilla: Faced off against the leopard and killed it with a single blow of its arm.
  • Lightning Bruiser: On land, bears, the rhino and the elephant, the last one being more of a Mighty Glacier compared to the rhino. In water, the saltwater crocodile, great white shark, and the walrus.
  • Martial Pacifist: The gorilla actually tries to avoid fighting the leopard, but is forced to take action when its warnings are ignored.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: In Hippo vs. Bull Shark, the Hippo cries out in pain when the shark does an exploratory bump, despite the damage being superficial at worst.
  • Narrator: Gabe Doran.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Mostly averted; see under Butt-Monkey. Of the three crocodilians that appear, only the Nile crocodile wins.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: Downplayed. Only CGI animals are hurt. For the most part none of the real animals are not put in the show except for stock footage from Discovery Channel's back lot.
  • Panthera Awesome: Mostly averted. See Butt-Monkey. Played straight by the cougar and the Asiatic lion.
  • Poison Is Evil: Probably why, despite constant emphasis on the deadly arsenals of the combatants, no venomous species was ever included in a face-off (because it wouldn't seem "fair" enough). It didn't stop them from putting a clip of a tiger vs spitting cobra altercation, with a slow-motion closeup of the cobra projecting its venom, into the opening, though.
  • The Power of Friendship: A wolf fights a cougar and loses because it was fighting alone instead of with the rest of its pack like it would have in Real Life. Before it can eat its victim, the cougar flees upon hearing the approach of the rest of the wolf's pack.
  • Predators Are Mean: Almost all of the featured animals are at least partly predatory, although the few herbivorous animals that are shown are equally aggressive.
  • Primal Chest-Pound: The gorilla does this to scare off the leopard, to no avail.
  • Rhino Rampage: The rhino's anger to the elephant, although it doesn't save it.
  • Shout-Out: Bear vs. Gator claims that the black bear is "smarter than the average reptile."
  • Somewhere, a Herpetologist Is Crying:
    • The accompanying game bills the American alligator as "the Western Hemisphere's largest crocodilian." The black caiman is slightly larger.
    • The Alligator/Bear duel in general is this; the alligator is flipped over easily by the bear and clawed once by the bear, and that kills it. Anyone who knows much about crocodilians can say that the bear would, as insanely strong as it is, not be able to effortlessly bowl the much heftier alligator over; the snapping, thrashing alligator would be a bit harder to get a grip around to even lift than an inanimate boulder. That, and the alligator's bite would be disastrous for the bear's bones, but apparently the crocodilians in this show suffer Turtle Syndrome, in that they are absolutely useless on their backs.
  • Spiritual Successor: The Truth About Killer Dinosaurs, Jurassic Fight Club & Deadliest Warrior can all be seen as this.
  • Strictly Formula: When two land-based predators fight, it will almost always be over a kill. Its original owner will always lose.
  • Tail Slap: The crocodile uses this against the lion.
  • Temple of Doom: Lion vs. Tiger takes place in one.
  • Threatening Shark: Saltwater Croc Vs. Great White Shark and Bull Shark Vs. Hippo. Though the great white shark is the only one who won, and rather cheaply, so it's actually subverted.
  • Trash Talk: Occurs between the competing scientists.
  • Wild Mass Guessing: Results of the final battles often end in this, with viewers arguing about which animal really deserved to win. Lampshaded on the website:
    "And if you disagree with our outcomes, be assured that you won't be alone."


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