Follow TV Tropes


Series / The Most Extreme

Go To
The Most Extreme is a documentary television series on the American cable television network Animal Planet. It first aired on July 1, 2002 and ran until July 3rd, 2007. 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 was made in New Zealand by a small production team at NHNZ. As of March 2008, there have been 77 episodes (76 regular episodes and one compilation special).

Tropes used for The Most Extreme include:

  • And I Must Scream: The fates of three animals in "Living Dead," all three of which get stuck in suspended animation before they get killed.
    • Ants: They can stay in suspended animation for as long as eight weeks when they ingest a liver fluke.
    • Earthworms: They are paralyzed by one of the venomous mammals, the shrew. They can stay in suspended animation for three weeks.
    • Tarantulas: 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.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: From "Awesome Ancestors":
    • 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 similar to those modern-day birds and was most-likely warm blooded, unlike the cold-blooded Komodo dragon which has more standard reptilian traits. Oops.
    • Also, saber-toothed cats were not the ancestors of the clouded leopards, but instead went extinct leaving no descendants.
    • Woolly 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.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: The CGI adult humans are modeled without any genitalia.
  • 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 of "Oddities," as well as the winner of "Appendages" since the male becomes a permanent appendage of the female after mating.
  • Body Horror: Nearly every animal in "Transformers" 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.
  • 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.
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: All of the animals in "Loudmouths" are loud. Several of them (the kakapo, for example) are also kind of cute.
  • Death by Childbirth: The most extreme mom was the sea louse, whose young eat their way out of the mother.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In the first episode, "Jumpers," the narrator's voice is noticeably quieter than in later episodes, and he doesn't yell when he says "The Most... Extreme".
  • Enfant Terrible: In "Tough Babies," The cuckoo was number three because the first thing it does after hatching is push any other eggs out of the host bird's nest. Likewise, the hyena was number two because the first thing newborn hyenas do is attempt to kill their siblings.
  • Fetus Terrible: The sand tiger shark was the winner of "Tough Babies" because it eats its own siblings BEFORE it's born.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: "Awesome Ancestors" is the only episode to feature extinct animals as the contenders.
  • Groin Attack: The honey badger is rumoured to attack animals by biting their genitalia, according to "Hissy Fits."
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: In the literal sense. The shrew was the winner of "Predators" because 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.
  • 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). And the winner for "Killer Cats"? Your average house cat!
  • Made a Slave: The winner of "Pirates" is the Amazonian ant, which 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.
  • Mischief-Making Monkey: 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!
  • Mister Seahorse: The most extreme dad was the actual seahorse, due to carrying its own young in its pouch.
  • Nigh-Invulnerable: "Survivors" features the water bear, which can survive extreme temperature, lack of water, high radiation, and even survive in a vacuum!
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: The lemming and its false reputation for committing suicide gave it the 1st place for "Animal Myths."
  • One-Gender Race: The winner of "The Battle of the Sexes" was the whiptail lizard, where the females were the winner as no males exist.
  • Out with a Bang: The antechinus (number 9 in "Dads") has sex until he poisons himself with his own adrenaline.
  • 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 for "Monster Myths."
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: How the show usually pronounces its title.
  • Savage Wolves: The wolf won "Monster Myths" because of this stereotype. 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.
  • Shout-Out: In "Gross Outs," the narrator states that "vultures are psychic scavengers. They see dead things... and eat them."
  • Signing Off Catchphrase: "When it comes to X, the [animal in first place] really is...The Most Extreme!"
  • Smelly Skunk: No surprise that the skunk was the winner of "Stinkers."
  • Stock Footage: Used often to set up a comparison between the animal and something else, like a human ability or a monster.
  • Suicidal Lemmings: In the "Animal Myths" episode, the lemmings are the number 1 myth and the episode explains what the people behind White Wilderness (though the episode does not say it by name) did to the lemmings. They filmed the migration sequence by placing lemmings on a snow-covered turntable. Then to add a little drama, they went outside and herded the lemmings towards a cliff by a river.
  • Super-Scream: The pistol shrimp was #1 in "Loudmouths" because it's able to use its sound to stun prey.
  • Threatening Shark: Sharks are fearsome enough to place sixth in "Horrors" and fourth in "Predators".
  • Title Drop: The narrator says the show's name at least twice per episode.
  • Top Ten List: Each episode is a top ten list of the most exemplary animals exhibiting a particular trait.
  • Understatement: In "Moms": "Playing with [alligators] can be bad for your health."
  • Unstoppable Rage: The reason why the bull elephant won "Hissy Fits" - almost nothing can stop one when it gets pissed off.
  • Zerg Rush: The ants won "Fighters" because they attack in numbers and use co-operation (and in one case, self-destruct) to defeat their opponents.