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A Discredited Trope from the days of the White Man's Burden in works depicting deepest darkest Africa, generally telling the moment before the natives rise up and overrun the compound, or abduct the white woman for sacrifice. Often indicated by the natives playing Jungle Drums. The phrase is said to go back to the 1933 Film of the Book of H. G. Wells' The Island of Doctor Moreau in which the eponymous Morally Ambiguous Doctor says this of his half-human / half-beast creations, and has since become a stock phrase for trouble brewing in a group of people. Often a prelude to being Chased by Angry Natives. Natives, like white villagers, may take up Torches and Pitchforks when they get restless enough to form a mob.

Examples of The Natives Are Restless include:


  • There was a collection of The Far Side entitled The Chickens Are Restless.
  • There's a British film called Restless Natives, but it's about a clown and a gorilla robbing buses on a motorcycle.
  • There's a song by (I think) Jimmy Buffett called "The Natives Are Restless Tonight" which is the singer warning people not to go outside, because... yeah.
  • Mad Magazine once had an article Modern endings to classic movie lines. One of the lines featured was "The Natives Are Restless Tonight", cut to a disco filled with partying locals.
  • Parodied in The Goodies with episode where a group of jockeys are planning an uprising; Tim observes that "the jockeys are restless tonight".
  • Done in one of L. Ron Hubbard's less crappier novels - the protagonist interrupts the spooked natives with a sniper rifle that shoots joke holograms, starting with Elvis Presley's ghosts dancing around a cursing Josef Stalin (long story).
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Beyond the Black River," the Picts, who are using Jungle Drums and raiding the colonists. To be sure the Picts are both white (a point lampshaded in the story) and in what would one day be Europe, but the trope is treated identically.
  • Played straight in Rosemary Sutcliffe's The Eagle of the Ninth. It is about a colony in Roman occupied Britain, after all.
  • In Doctor Who's "Inferno," a mineral slime from inside the earth's crust turns people exposed to it into homicidal werewolf-like Primords. At one point, a character (trapped in a building with them) says to the Doctor, "The natives are getting restless."
  • Played straight in Starcraft II Wings of Liberty single player campaign. After the Terran (human) forces land on the main Zerg (creepy crawly alien race) planet and make a temporal stronghold on it's surface, Tychus J. Findlay says the exact words implying the Zergs are preparing for massive counterattack.
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