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Lisa: Dad, you can't take revenge on an animal. That was the whole point of Moby Dick.

Homer: Lisa, the point of Moby-Dick is to Be Yourself.
There is no true revenge on a witless brute as there might be on a man.
Lord Drinian, The Silver Chair

A situation in which The Hunter fixates on an animal as his Arch Enemy as a result of twisted logic, almost always a direct result of a past personal grudge. Be it a talking anthropomorphic animal that constantly thwarts his efforts, or just some plain old mindless beast that made off with one of the human's limbs, the human dedicates all of his time and effort toward the capture or killing of the beast, even if it kills him.

A human Super-Persistent Predator - in some cases, The Hunter is justified in hunting the animal because It Can Think. In others, the Hunter himself illustrates that Humans Are Bastards or Humans Are Cthulhu. See He Who Fights Monsters.

Frequently, media that employ this trope will reference the Trope Codifier, Herman Melville's Moby Dick, although it would be an oversimplification to say that this trope is the whole point of the book. It's one of many points.

Examples of Animal Nemesis include:


Anime and Manga

  • Grandpa Gohei and Akakabuto, the bear who took his left ear and killed his hunting dogs in Silver Fang.
  • Quent Yaiden from Wolf's Rain obsessively hunts wolves, believing they are responsible for the death of his family. Actually it was the werewolf Lord Darcia who burned Quent's village to the ground to flush out true wolves, and ironically it's the wolf Toboe who later tries (and fails) to save Quent from Darcia.
  • In the film version of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Princess Kushana has lost an arm (and possibly more body parts) to the insects of the Sea of Corruption. Hence her attempt to wipe out the Ohmu with the God Warrior. This subplot --origin, motivation, and outcome-- doesn't exist in the manga.
  • The wolf from Chirin no Suzu.


Comic Books

  • This trope is pretty much the premise behind the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in all its incarnations, with the human Shredder being the mortal enemy of the eponymous reptilian heroes. In almost every version, this also applies to Splinter himself, who was originally Hamato Yoshi's pet rat. After seeing his owner murdered by the Shredder, Splinter became determined to avenge him. The 1980s cartoon averted this by merging Splinter and Yoshi into one character, essentially having the human Yoshi be mutated into an anthropomorphic rat instead of an animal that gained human traits.
  • What about when a human fixates on a robot as his or her Arch Enemy? This is what happened with Machine Man, where the title robot had to deal with Corrupt Corporate Executive Sunset Bain, who wants to use his incredible technology to further her engineering company's own research. Okay, so Machine Man isn't an animal, but the whole human-vs-another-species thing still applies...
  • G1 Transformers comic did a Whole-Plot Reference to Moby Dick at one point. The transformer in question lived on a world far from most of his race and was a pretender ( a transformer covered in a pseudo-organic shell that allowed him to pose for an organic but was rather difficult to repair) and so couldn't get his leg properly restored. He finally incapacitated the beast responsible but decided against finishing it off.


Films -- Animated

  • Simba and Scar in The Lion King. Their feud starts after Scar reveals to Simba that he had killed Mufasa.
  • Red and Boingo in Hoodwinked. Their feud starts after Red discovers that Boingo is the Goody Bandit.
  • Buck and Rudy in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. Their feud starts after Rudy scratches out Buck's eye and Buck knocks out Rudy's tooth. Of course, the "human" in this case is a Talking Animal while the "animal" is a Super-Persistent Predator, but that is Carnivore Confusion for you.
  • Kenai and the bear (Koda's mother) in Brother Bear, later followed by bear-Kenai vs. Denahi. Cute.
  • Inverted in The Jungle Book; Big Bad Shere Khan (a tiger) actually wants to kill Mowgli just for being a human.
  • Amos Slade (and, to a much lesser extent, Copper) during the second half of The Fox and the Hound, who wants to kill Todd out of revenge for (indirectly) injuring his dog Chief by having him be hit by a train. Originally, he was actually going to be more so, as Chief was originally going to die after being hit by the train.
  • Samson and Kazar in The Wild.


Films -- Live-Action

  • Steve and the shark that ate his partner from The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. He eventually overcomes his need for vengeance and is satisfied just to see it again.
  • Carl Spackler and that gopher from Caddyshack.
  • Notably absent in The Host: "If a beast kills a man, then that beast should be torn limb from limb." The beast in question is a gigantic hideous mutant lungfish monster, though.
  • Jake Cullen (played by Bill Kerr) in the movie Razorback who hunts and kills razorback boars because a particularly big one killed his grandson.
  • Jaws - Quint, at least. The others are more motivated by "we need to kill it because it keeps eating people".
  • Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer had the camel. Whenever they met, the camel would spit on Conan, Conan would knock out the camel or both.
  • In Of Unknown Origin, a New Yorker becomes so obsessed with eliminating the pesky rat infesting his apartment that he eventually trashes his own place in frantic pursuit of it.
  • Invoked in Soul Surfer when the shark is shown harpooned and dangling as a trophy. Apparently Bethany Hamilton's surfing buddies think that when you mess with one of their own It's Personal.
  • In Immortal, Inspector Froebe has had a grudge against the Dayak ever since it bit half of his face off.
  • The B-movie ´Orca the Killer Whale, which is about a vengeful, bloodthisty orca who wants to get revenge on humanity after its mate and calf were both killed by fishermen. Before it begins its rampage at a nearby coastal city, the first thing it kills is a great white shark...


Literature

  • One of the best known examples is the deadly rivalry between Captain Ahab and Moby Dick, which makes this Older Than Radio. The relationship has been subject to much parody. Ahab himself hung a lampshade on this trope in the original novel -- he essentially said that if he couldn't hunt down the abstract fates that ultimately cost him his leg, the eponymous whale would be the next best thing.
    • Ahab was referenced in the movie Star Trek: First Contact, when Captain Picard brutally guns down several Borg in the holodeck, and refuses demands to self-destruct the Enterprise in lieu of stopping the mechanical menaces personally, all because of the violations he endured when they converted him into Locutus and the anger he feels over Starfleet's inability to fully halt their encroaching on Federation space. Lampshaded when the one who made the reference, a 21st century woman that found her way onto the ship, admitted that she hadn't actually read the novel, only remembered the idiom that went with it. This was acknowledged by studio execs, soon after the release of that movie, Patrick Stewart played Ahab in a made-for-TV movie of Moby Dick, mainly because he was so good at a referenced state of mind that they decided he would be good for the real thing.
  • And who could forget Peter Pan and the crocodile who gave Captain Hook his nickname? This might be a bit of an inversion, as it is actually the crocodile who is violently obsessed. In Hook, we learn that Captain Hook finally did hunt down and kill the crocodile, stuffed it, and put it on display as a giant silent clock. That'll learn it. (Of course he tempts fate by fighting underneath it. The (in)evitable happens, the clock tower topples over, the crocodile's jaws falling on Hook, effectively eating him.)
  • Quint, the obsessed shark hunter from Jaws.
  • As indicated in the page quote, this was Prince Rilian's undoing in The Silver Chair. Yeah, the snake that killed his mother was really a Scaled Up mind-controlling witch and thus perfectly capable of forming intent, but he had no way of knowing that.
  • Weird example in Warhammer 40000 novel Storm of Iron: An Iron Warrior captain imagines that he is hunting a legendary beast while trying to kill a Warhound Titan (Warhounds are the smallest of the Titans, with a focus on infantry/armour support role rather than a "level cities" role).
  • The Western novel Killers of Man by Ralph W. Cotton features a wealthy businessman determined to get revenge on the grizzly bear that took his leg.


Live-Action TV

  • Stephen Colbert and bears (and owls).
  • Gordy and the Weasel Mascot of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide.
    • In the Grand Finale, he finally catches it, after tearing down half the school. Then it turns out to have had babies, so they adopt it as a mascot.
  • Sawyer in Lost has managed to do this on two separate occasions. Once chasing after a boar who ransacked his tent and then chasing after a treefrog which annoyed him with its croaking. He eventually caught up with both of them with help from Kate and Hurley respectively. He decided to let the boar go as it was "just an animal" but then rejected Hurley's offer to relocate the frog and simply crushed it in his hand.
  • Happens in a recent episode of Desperate Housewives in which Lynette spends half an episode hunting down a possum because Possums = Cancer.
  • Al Bundy went through this in one episode of Married... with Children, becoming obsessed with a rabbit that ruined his vegetable garden and trying to kill it. Of course, Hilarity Ensues, especially given that the rabbit has the intellectual advantage.


Videogames

  • Sonic the Hedgehog and Dr. Robotnik.
  • Paul Phoenix and Kuma from Tekken have a version of this neither actually says that they're rivals but the back story makes it pretty clear.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics a 2 has a sidequest revolving around a clan named House Bowen, whose leader seeks revenge on a gigantic cockatrice for killing his wife.
  • The So Bad It's Good game Cabelas Dangerous Hunts 2009 is about a famed big game hunter who swears revenge on a bear who killed his best friend.
  • In the Street Fighter Alpha series, Scary Black Man Balrog once killed an innocent elephant with a Gigaton Punch just for the Hell of it. The elephant's owner, Dhalsim, is logically very pissed off.
  • Skies of Arcadia features an old fisherman named Drachma who chases the giant flying whale Rhaknam for killing his son decades ago. Like the rest of the game, it's an old tale/genre/mentality (obviously Moby Dick in this case) Recycled In Air.
  • In The Sims Medieval, your hero can be given the "Whale Ate My Parents" trait, which, er, speaks for itself. The result is that they will become obsessed with whales to the point of occasionally getting a "Whale Rage" buff.
  • Peasants Quest, which is apparantly about a young peasant in short pants named Rather Dashing who is obsessed with killing the evil dragon Trogdor the Burninator out of revenge for burning down his thatched-roof cottage, and in order for him to do so, he must dress, smell, and be on fire like a real peasant. The game ends with Rather Dashing finally confronting Trogdor only to find out that Trogdor can never be killed no matter what, and as a result Trogdor decides to kill him anyway.


Webcomics

  • Fantasy example from 8-Bit Theater: Garland and his almost incapacitating hatred for Forest Imps.
    • Admittedly, that is what they want you to think.....
  • Mocked severely in this Perry Bible Fellowship strip.
  • It's usually Bun-bun from Sluggy Freelance that wants the revenge on humans, but he and Santa Clause have a mutual feud.
  • Belkar of Order of the Stick isn't exactly human himself, but he has a similar grudge against Windstriker, Miko's horse. Said horse was one of the characters he asked the Oracle if he'd wind up killing, and he was quite disappointed when he discovered that Miko had died, leaving Windstriker in the Outer Planes, meaning he'd never be able to kill Windstriker.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja parodies this with the birdosaurus, a dinosaur that follows the doctor around and performs minor actions with more serious consequences (e.g. stepping on the stone that sets off all the traps while the doctor is standing in the trapped area), which he has developed an intense, somewhat disproportionate hatred for.

  Doctor McNinja: I hate you. I hate you so much. I will hunt you down forever. When you die, my laughter will be so bright, it will be the last thing you will hear, see, smell and feel.


Western Animation

  • Batfink and Hugo a Go Go.
  • Alfred and the wombat in Mike Lu and Og.
  • Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny in Looney Tunes. And Yosemite Sam and Bugs Bunny. And Rocky the Gangster and Bugs Bunny. And... well, basically every human character to ever interact with Bugs Bunny in more than one short.
  • There was a character in Disney's Aladdin: the Series that was obsessed with hunting down some sort of desert whale/shark, in what was obviously a homage to Moby Dick.
    • Though his quest was actually quite practical, as the belly of the sand shark was covered in precious jewels.
    • But when he does catch it he has no idea what he will do now, so he decides to cut the shark free and hunt it again.
  • The Simpsons has an episode where Homer is menaced by a bear and constructs a metal "safety suit" in order to kill the creature and regain his respect, which elicits the page quote. However, this gets subverted when Homer realizes the bear is lashing out in pain due to an electronic tracking tag on its ear, so he removes the tag, ends up befriending the now gentle bear and gives it the suit so it can brave a gauntlet of hunters to get to a wildlife preserve. Which sparks a feud between the bear and a particularly mean-spirited elephant.
  • In, Family Guy, Peter Griffin's Arch Enemy is a giant yellow chicken that was introduced on the show in a very elaborate homage to many action movies.
  • Leela in the Futurama episode "Möbius Dick", a Whole-Plot Reference to Moby Dick. It parodies the concept further, as the Space Whale she hunts feeds on obsession, so it naturally antagonizes ship captains. Leela eventually overwhelms the whale's will with a bigger obsession than revenge: Finishing her delivery!
  • The ThunderCats (2011) episode "Ramlak Rising" (yet another Whole-Plot Reference to Moby Dick) gives us a peculiar Inversion. Ahab-Homage Captain Koinelius Tunar, a Fishman who sails the sand sea, has sworn vengeance on the creature who destroyed his home and took his eye and leg. His nemesis the Ramlak is a giant Planimal, a Man-Eating Plant that's hybridized with the ambulatory capabilities of a Giant Squid. Like Captain Ahab, Tunar has degenerated into prizing Revenge Before Reason, and shares Ahab's fate almost exactly, while quoting his dialogue.
  • Much like the literature example above, the Crocodile that ate Captain Hook's hand is still around in Disney's Peter Pan. This time around, though, while the Croc will gladly take a bite out of Hook if the opportunity presents itself, the Croc isn't totally fussed about getting at Hook, and is happy simply screwing with him.
  • One episode of Dragon Tales had the main characters help a sky pirate hunt down a giant flying whale for eating his ship. At the end of the episode, they successfully capture the whale, and it turns out that the ship said whale ate was a toy ship.
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