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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: Subverted 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.
  • 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 perhaps 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 animals....is 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 girl (remember that apes and girls are historically associated each other in media).
  • 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.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Some of the scientists who supported the losing animal after the fight STILL argue with the winning one.
    • Also, some viewers have complained about the alleged unlikeliness of Bull Shark vs. Hippopotamus, since all people know sharks live only in the sea: but in Real Life bull-sharks do swim in African rivers other than in the seas, and some interactions with hippos are documented as well.
  • 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.
  • 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. Interstingly, the Gorilla expert was a real hottie, while the leopard expert was a man (a curious example from Real Life of the trope "gorillas always are with pretty girls").
  • Big Badass Wolf: Appears in a fight between a cougar, though it loses. However, one must note that it WAS fighting alone, and not with the rest of it's pack like it would have in Real Life. Unlike the other losers of the series, the wolf is only knocked out, not killed, due to the cougar fleeing upon hearing the approach of the rest of the wolf's pack.
  • 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), the big cats have the most losses (Siberian/Bengal tigers, African lion, jaguar, and leopard). That's 2 for 5.
  • Cats Are Mean: All the big cats in this are very mean.
    • Actually all the animals in the show are portrayed as mean as possible.
  • Cats Hate Water: Lion Vs. Croc, although it's justified, as it loses.
  • Crack Defeat: Some would say the defeat of the croc against the shark, and one could make a point for Polar Bear vs. Walrus, Lion vs. Tiger & Bear vs. Alligator also qualifying.
    • Though a lot of others might say the same thing about other battles and complain.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Hippo vs. Shark, Lion vs. Crocodile & Whale vs. Squid.
  • Delicious Distraction: The jaguar loses because it was distracted by a bird call.
  • Everything Is Even Worse With Sharks: Saltwater Croc Vs. Great White Shark and Bull Shark Vs. Hippo. Though the great white shark is the only one who won (Though rather cheaply, so perhaps it's somewhat subverted).
  • Everything's Squishier with Cephalopods: The colossal squid.
  • Everything Is Worse With Bears: With the exception of the polar bear, the bears always win.
  • Five-Man Band (Just for Fun):
  • Follow the Leader: Several (unrelated) children's books with a similar subject will blatantly plagiarize battles & outcomes from the show (Croc vs. Shark & Lion vs. Tiger are the worst off in this regard).
  • Food Chain of Evil: Several, with Whale vs. Squid being the most notable.
  • Genius Bruiser: The elephant, gorilla & black bear (although the latter is relative).
  • 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 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: Lion vs. Croc, Jaguar vs. Anaconda, Wolf vs. Cougar, Shark vs. Crocodile & Whale vs. Squid.
  • Narrator: Gabe Doran.
  • Never Smile At a Crocodile: Three crocodilians appear, but only the Nile crocodile wins. The losses were cheap, so perhaps it does apply after all.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: Subverted if you count CGI, but for the most part none of the actual animals are put in the show except for stock footage from Discovery Channel's back lot.
  • Panthera Awesome: Mostly averted. See Butt Monkey.
  • 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).
  • Predators Are Mean: Almost all of the featured animals are at least partly predatory.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Exactly half of the featured reptiles ( the Nile crocodile & anaconda) win.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Take That/Trash Talk/Your Animal Fights Like A Cow: Occurs between the competing scientists.
  • Video Game Characters: The fighting animals may be classified in one of the following:
    • Fragile Speedster: The big cats, they move and strike fast and pack good power, but they have low stamina and are relatively fragile. The wolf as well, quick-moving and powerful-jawed, but easily killed by a single kick from the cougar. And then the bull shark, he's all over the hippopotamus before one chomp ends him. Finally the Giant Squid, very maneuvrable but not capable to do anything serious to the whale, and eventually ends swallowed whole by the latter.
    • Mighty Glacier: The polar & grizzly bears, the crocodilians, the anaconda, the hippopotamus, the gorilla, the elephant, the rhinoceros, the walrus and the sperm-whale. When a glacier fight against a speedster, he almost always defeats the latter. When it's one glacier against another (Polar Bear vs Walrus, Elephant vs Rhino), the battle usually comes down to who can out-mighty the other.
    • Lightning Bruiser: The great white shark & black bear may qualify as this, being fast and high in strength/stamina at the same time (though they have some trouble against their crocodilian adversaries).
    • Actually all the twelve duels may be, in last analysis, qualified as Mighty Glacier vs Fragile Speedster in a greater or lesser degree, since one animal appears always smaller/faster/weaker/more active than its bigger/slower/stronger/more passive opponent. This distinction is clear with Hippopotamus vs Shark, Bear vs Tiger, Crocodile vs Lion, Anaconda vs Jaguar, Gorilla vs Leopard, and Whale vs Squid; less-evident with Shark vs Crocodile, Elephant vs Rhino, Lion vs Tiger, Cougar vs Wolf, Walrus vs Bear, and Alligator vs Bear. Except for the last example, the Mighty Glacier always wins the fight.
  • 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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