The Most Extreme is a long-running documentary television series on the American cable television network, Animal Planet. It first aired on July 1, 2002. Each episode focuses on a specific animal feature — strength, speed, flirtation, appendages, diet, etc. — and examines and ranks 10 animals that portray extreme or unusual examples of that quality. The rankings are not arrived at by a scientifically rigorous process; they serve only to give a broad depiction.
Along with each animal on the countdown, the program presents a computer graphics segment which compares the animal's ability with something equivalent in humans by computer animation in green (in the short-lived half-hour mode, blue) also color of both logos, followed by an interview segment with people who share some common trait.
The series is made in New Zealand by a small production team at NHNZ. As of March 2008, there have been 77 episodes.
Tropes used for this series:
- Barbie Doll Anatomy for the 3D adult human models.
- Killer Rabbit: Many of the highest ranking animals are also the smallest (example: The Most Extreme Fighter was the ant, while The Most Extreme Predator was the shrew).
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: How the show usually pronounces its title.
- Stock Footage: Used often to set up a comparison between the animal and something else, like a human ability or a monster.
- Top Ten List: Of the most Badass animals in a category, no less.
Tropes used for each individual episode:
Episode 1: Jumpers
- Early Installment Weirdness: The narrator's voice is noticeably quieter than in later episodes, and he doesn't yell when he says "The Most... Extreme".
- In a Single Bound
Episode 2: Gluttons
Episode 3: Speed
Episode 4: Births
Episode 5: Cheats
Episode 6: Survivors
- Nigh Invulnerable: The water bear, which can survive extreme temperature, lack of water, high radiation, and even in a vacuum!
Episode 7: Fighters
- Zerg Rush: The ants won this one, as they attack in numbers and use co-operation (and in one case, self-destruct) to defeat their opponents.
Episode 8: Builders
Episode 9: Horrors
- Bears Are Bad News: Bears were in seventh place.
- Bee Afraid: Third.
- Everything's Even Worse with Sharks: They're sixth.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: The snake won second place, as many people fear them due to not knowing whether the snake they're looking at is venomous.
- You Dirty Rat!: Mice won ninth place.
Episode 10: Thinkers
Episode 11: Strength
- Super Strength: Um... duh...
Episode 12: Lovers
Episode 13: Biters
Episode 14: Moms
- Death by Childbirth: The Most Extreme Mom was the sea louse, whose young eat their way out of the mother.
- Mama Bear: Most of the contenders. Literally, in the case of #7 (the polar bear).
- Understatement: "Playing with [alligators] can be bad for your health."
Episode 15: Dads
- Mister Seahorse: The most extreme dad was the seahorse, due to this trope.
Episode 16: Venom
- Bee Afraid: Killer Bees.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Sea Snake, and Gila Monster.
- Scary Scorpions: Especially the venomous ones!
- All scorpions are venomous. It's just that only a few are dangerous to humans.
Episode 17: Disguise
Episode 18: Swarms
Episode 19: Body Parts
Episode 20: Predators
- Bears Are Bad News: Polar bears were eighth.
- Everything's Even Worse with Sharks: Fourth place.
- Hyperactive Metabolism: In the literal sense. The shrew was the winner, as its metabolism is so hyperactive that it is required to eat three times its own body weight in one day to survive. And that means lots of killing, hence giving it the title.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Crocodiles in tenth and snakes in sixth.
Episode 21: Stinkers
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: When introducing the Hooker's sea lion:Narrator: To find the next contender in our countdown of extreme stinkers, we're traveling to the Southern coast of New Zealand, and going on a search for Hooker's. You'll smell them before you see them, because these Hooker's are huge, fat, and hairy.
- Smelly Skunk: No surprise that the skunk was the winner.
Episode 22: Super Senses
- Super Senses: It's right there in the title!
Episode 23: Eaters
Episode 24: Daredevils
Episode 25: Defenders
Episode 26: Oddities
- Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: The male anglerfish is tiny, and attaches itself to the female anglerfish so that it can suck her blood and reproduce with her. (Unsurprisingly, the anglerfish was the winner.)
Episode 27: Gross Outs
- Shout-Out: The narrator states that "vultures are psychic scavengers. They see dead things... and eat them."
Episode 28: Home Designers
Episode 29: Tough Babies
- Enfant Terrible: The cuckoo was #3 because the first thing it does after hatching is push any other eggs out of the host bird's nest. Likewise, the hyena was #2 because the first thing newborn hyenas do is attempt to kill their siblings.
- Fetus Terrible: And the sandtiger shark was the winner because it eats its own siblings BEFORE it's born.
Episode 30: Wild Parties
Episode 31: Monster Myths
- Piranha Problem: The piranha's aggressiveness is exaggerated. When they're not hungry or are asleep, they flee from anything that disturbs them, including humans. This got them second place.
- Savage Wolves: The wolf won this one. When people heard a wolf howling, people think the wolf is out to get them. That is why they believed in werewolves, even though there has never been a healthy wild wolf killing a human in North America. Never Live It Down, indeed.
Episode 32: Killer Cats
- Panthera Awesome: However, the winner of the category was the house cat
- Cats Are Mean: The house cat was the most extreme killer cat, as it can hunt and kill over 1000 species of animals. FOR FUN.
- Justified, in that house cats are more likely to engage in what is known as "Surplus Killing" (IE: When an predator kills another animal without eating it). House cats were originally domesticated to hunt rodents in farmhouses and storage areas that were eating the crops. However, thanks to modern-day cat food, cats no longer need to hunt mice for food. Their predatory instincts are still there, however, and said instincts are so strong that they'll simply hunt and kill rodents even when they don't need to.
Episode 33: Battle Of The Sexes
- One-Gender Race: The winner was the Whiptail lizard, where the women were the winner as no males exist.
Episode 34: Troublemakers
Episode 35: Big Mouths
Episode 36: Odd Couples
Episode 37: Outrageous Flirts
Episode 38: Super Dogs
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: The reason why the Chihuahua won — it was the dog that was the most different from its ancestor, the wolf.
Episode 39: Killers
Episode 40: Poison
- Poisonous Animal: Again, duh!
Episode 41: Super Sharks
Episode 42: Bloodsuckers
Episode 43: Athletes
Episode 44: Deadly Snakes
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Though it does end on the note that snakes are important to keep the rodent population, and the diseases they carry, in check.
Episode 45: Global Conquerors
Episode 46: Movers
Episode 47: Hissy Fits
- Berserk Button: The episode is all about these.
- Groin Attack: The Honey badger is rumoured to attack animals by biting their most private parts.
- Unstoppable Rage: The reason why the bull elephant won- almost nothing in Real Life can stop one when it gets pissed off.
Episode 48: Living Dead
- And I Must Scream: The fates of these animals, all three of which get stuck in suspended animation before they get killed.
- Ant It can stay in suspended animation for as much as eight weeks when it ingests a liver fluke.
- Earthworm They are paralyzed by one of the venomous mammals, the shrew. They can stay in suspended animation for three weeks.
- Tarantula They are paralyzed by a tarantula hawk and used as storage for its young, and can stay in suspended animation for as much as two weeks until it gets eaten by the baby wasp.
Episode 49: Divers
Episode 50: Dieters
Episode 51: Loudmouths
- Cute, but Cacophonic: All of the animals are loud. Several of them (the kakapo, for example) are also kind of cute.
- Make Me Wanna Shout: The pistol shrimp was #1 because it's able to use its sound to stun prey.
Episode 52: Appendages
- Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: The anglerfish won for having the male as an appendage of the female (see "Oddities")
Episode 53: City Slickers
- Everything's Worse With Monkeys: Monkeys were the Most Extreme city slickers, as they had become dependent on humans there. To the point of stealing food and clothing from humans — if the human didn't give food to the monkey, the monkey would run off with their clothing!
Episode 54: Transformers
- Body Horror: Pretty much every animal after the first two could qualify, but the animal at the #1 spot (Ribeiroia) really takes the cake, as it doesn't just transform its own body, but also its host's.
Episode 55: Workaholics
Episode 56: Slime Balls
Episode 57: Animal Myths
- Never Live It Down: In-Universe: the lemming and its false reputation for committing suicide gave it the 1st place.
Episode 58: Gourmets
Episode 59: Diggers
Episode 60: Weird Weapons
- Psycho Electric Eel: Its weird weapon was electric shocks. (It won the category because of this.)
- Shock and Awe: The electric eel.
Episode 61: Cleaners
Episode 62: Pirates
- Made a Slave: The Amazonian ant does this to other species of ants by raiding their victims' nests and stealing their eggs. The ants that hatch are then made slaves to the Amazonian ants. (It won because of this ruthless behaviour)
Episode 63: Gardeners
Episode 64: Freeloaders
Episode 65: Awesome Ancestors
- Feathered Fiend: The Terror bird, which won second place.
- Stock Dinosaurs: Tyrannosaurus rex, Smilodon and Wooly Mammoths.
- Tyrannosaurus rex: Not the winner, though.
- Artistic License Paleontology: Tyrannosaurus rex was more closely related to your standard chicken than it was to the Komodo dragon. A more appropriate ancestor for the Komodo dragon would be the mosasaur, a sea-going lizard that lived around the same time as the last dinosaurs and are thought to be distantly related to modern-day monitor lizards. It would be like saying the Andrewsarchus was the ancestor of the Gray Wolf just because they were mammalian apex predators.
- Not to mention that T.rex had many traits similiar to those modern-day birds and was most-likely warm blooded, unlike the cold-blooded Komodo dragon which has more standared reptilian traits. Oops.
- Also, Saber-toothed cats were not the ancestors of the clouded leopards, but instead went extinct leaving no descendants.
- Wooly Mammoths were not the direct ancestors of elephants. They were contemporaries with modern day elephants, and were actually cousins. A more accurate example would be instead the Paleomastodon.
- In fact, most of the animals listed are not only not ancestors, but some of them lived at the exact same time as the animals professed to be their "descendants". The terror bird, Haast's eagle, and the ground sloth qualify as well.
Episode 66: Fashion Disasters
- Blessed with Suck: The premise of the episode is animals whose body plans actively hinder their chances of survival or reproductive fitness.
Episode 67: Inventors
Episode 68: Nightlights
- Bioluminescence Is Cool: The entire focus of this episode.
Episode 69: Leaders
Episode 70: Medics
- Healing Factor: The ability of the salamander, which gave it first place.
Episode 71: Freaky Fliers
- Not Quite Flight: The entire episode was about the top 10 animals that flew without the use of "proper" wings.
Episode 72: Body Snatchers
- Puppeteer Parasite: Toxoplasma.
- Taxonomic Term Confusion: Toxoplasma, the "animal" at number one, is actually not an animal at all, but a member of a group of protists called alveolates.
Episode 73: Crazy Collectors
Episode 74: Gadgets
- Improvised Tool: The main focus of the episode.