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The hunter is usually the one pursuing the prey, be it a literal example of one hunting animals, or the Villain relentlessly hunting his victim in a sporting example of Hunting the Most Dangerous Game. But in some cases, the hunted gains resolve or the upper hand, and turns the tables on his pursuer, turning the hunter into the hunted.

Once the victim pulls this off, the hunter's game falls apart, and he will be forced to recognize his victim as an actual threat to him. The turnaround embodied in this trope usually signifies that The Hero will soon defeat The Villains and put an end to his twisted game.

This trope has roots as far back as Greek Mythology, where a quite literal hunter, Actaeon, is transformed into a deer by Artemis and eventually torn apart by his own dogs.

Vampire Hunters and Demon Slayers live by this trope in a supernatural context, since vampires and demons are often portrayed as predators of human beings, and human beings tend not to like being prey.

See also Egomaniac Hunter, Evil Poacher, Serial Killer Killer.

Examples of The Hunter Becomes the Hunted include:


Film

  • The first two Predator films provide a perfect example, as the consummate trophy hunter/ProudWarriorRaceGuy alien stalks and kills dozens of dangerous, deadly men, only for one of his would-be victims to Take a Level In Badass, and begin to hunt him in exactly the same fashion.
  • Westworld. The tourist being hunted by the gunslinger android eventually turns the tables on him and destroys him.
  • At the end of Halloween: H20, in what is Laurie's Crowning Moment of Awesome, she turns the tables on Michael Myers and hunts him down with an axe.

Live Action TV

  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Obsession". Kirk has the Enterprise pursue the vampire cloud creature. Eventually the creature gets fed up with this: it turns and attacks the Enterprise.

 Spock: May I suggest that we no longer belabour the question of whether or not we should have gone after the creature. The matter has now been rendered academic. The creature is now after us.

  • Charlie's Angels episode "Angel Hunt". A vengeful man lures the Angels to a deserted island to be hunted, but they start hunting him.
  • Played with all the time in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, seeing as Buffy is always a potential victim, but is, well...a vampire slayer.
  • An episode of the revived Outer Limits involves an illegal android hunt. The androids are prevented by inhibitor chips from harming humans. That is until they find plans for their bodies in a shack and proceed to remove their inhibitors. They kill several hunters but are ultimately gunned down, except for one who manages to escape.
  • In the paranormal documentary Creepy Canada, a team of ghost hunters search for the ghost of a sailor that died in the 19th century. During the investigation, they were surrounded by a cold mist and strange noises prompting one of the ghost hunters to say that they have, at that point, become the hunted.

Literature

  • The Most Dangerous Game. A big-game hunter falls off a yacht and finds refuge on an island that is home to a Russian aristocrat. This aristocrat is also a highly-skilled big game hunter. So highly skilled that he's hunted just about every animal and quickly became bored with simply hunting them all over again. So he forces the people who get shipwrecked on his island into a "game" in which he hunts them.

Tabletop RPG

  • Dungeons and Dragons adventure S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. While the ship's crewmen pursue the escaped intellect devourer, it turns on, pursues and attacks one of them, eventually killing him.

 One of the hunters soon became the hunted, and the chase eventually led to the tween decks. The crewman blasted the flesh of the body away, but the devourer then did for him.

Theatre

  • In Euripides's Bacchae, the young king Pentheus is lured into this fate by Dionysus. He hunts down the crazed maenads, seeking to spy on them, but ends up as the hunted when they notice him -- Dionysus makes the maenads hallucinate and see him as a lion to be hunted and slain. Interestingly, his fate is foreshadowed by mentions in the play of his cousin, Actaeon, whose own fate is mentioned in the trope description.

Western Animation

  • At the end of the Looney Tunes short "Rabbit Fire", as Bugs and Daffy continue to pull away posters saying "Rabbit Season" and "Duck Season" alternately, each trying to convince Elmer to shoot the other, they finally reach the final poster, which reads "Elmer Season". In the next shot we see Bugs and Daffy dressed as hunters, carrying rifles and "Hunting for Elmers".
    • Also, there's a short in which Pepe Le Pew gets painted all black and his perennial harassment-victim, Penelope Pussycat, gets a head cold that blocks her sense of smell. Sure enough, she turns the tables and starts pursuing the suddenly-terrified "big strong tomcat" Pepe.
  • In the Tom and Jerry short "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse", near the end Tom finally drinks his own power potion which Jerry had been using throughout the short. Instead of growing stronger however, it backfires, and Tom shrinks until he's as tall to Jerry as Jerry normally is to him. The short ends with Jerry chasing after Tom with a fly swatter.
  • In Red Hot Riding Hood, the Wolf while trying to hunt down Red instead encounters her Granny, who becomes his Abhorrent Admirer at first sight and chases the Wolf through her building.
  • In the Tales from the Cryptkeeper episode "Hunted," a Jerkass hunter is poaching in Africa and runs afoul of a supposedly mythical beast. Determined to catch this beast and make a profit, the hunter pursues it deeper and deeper into the jungle. Just when he thinks he has it, the beast springs its own trap to capture him instead. Turns out the beast was once a Jerkass hunter himself and had been cursed. Forced him to live in the wild, he learned to respect nature and its creatures. He regains his human form and passes the curse onto his captive to start the cycle over again.
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