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"I think their attitude is more that of the cyclone, which comes with the gracious purpose of cooling off a sweltering village, and is not aware, afterward, that it has done that village anything but a favor. ... People who blame a cyclone, do it because they do not reflect that compact masses are not a cyclone's idea of symmetry."
Yonggary 2

Well, would you look at that, she isn't the least bit monstrous.

A specific species of Anti-Villain: a creature that could be called monstrous, but can't actually be viewed as evil, since it lacks any actual malice.

This is not to say that they're not a threat; they're usually a literal monster, and if they're not dealt with, many people will die. It's just that, in theory, options besides killing the monster exist.

Note the difference between a Reluctant Monster and a Non-Malicious Monster is that the Non-Malicious Monster is always an antagonist; the Reluctant Monster can be a protagonist. In addition, the Reluctant Monster is usually sapient or can sense people's responses to its monstrosity (see, e.g., Casper the Friendly Ghost). The Non-Malicious Monster is more along the lines of a completely instinctive beast with little to no sapience; in other words, it's just reacting to stimulus in incredibly dangerous ways without bearing malice towards anyone. Imagine a 100-foot-tall rottweiler, if you will. If they do have any sapience, it's a case of being Obliviously Evil. Typically True Neutral.

Sometimes compared to a Complete Monster or a Corrupt Corporate Executive type to make the distinction between "monster" and "evil" more explicit and obvious[1]. Expect early victims to be Assholes for the usual reasons: we don't feel as bad about a giant dick being killed, and it doesn't hurt any sympathy we may have with the monster.

See also Monster Is a Mommy, a Sub-Trope of when the monster in question is fully justified or even doing objective good in its monstrous actions. See also Why Isn't It Attacking? When the non-malicious behavior is noticed.

Examples of Non-Malicious Monster include:


Anime and Manga Edit

  • Some of the Arrancar in Bleach are like this. It's explained that the process of becoming an Arrancar removes a Hollow's Always Chaotic Evil nature and gives them their sense of reason back. Most of the Arrancar we see are bastards anyway, but there's a few exceptions (Nell and her friends, Starrk and Lilinete, some say Harribel as well).
    • Harribel and her Fraccions' actions at the end of the whole Aizen thing -- and the Backstory as to how and why they came together (while they were still standard Hollows) pretty much proves it.
  • Most of the citizens of Makai (demon world) in Rave Master fall under this trope.
  • Some demons in Inuyasha, like Jinenji.
  • The tailed beasts in Naruto. Why doesn't anyone even ask for their names, let alone not treating them like pets/weapons?
  • Android 8 from Dragon Ball. He looks just like Frankenstein's monster and he was built to be a killing machine, but he's a kind gentle soul who doesn't like to hurt others, but you'd better not ever try to kill his friends.
    • Subverted with Androids 17 and 18 in that, while thought to be murderous sociopaths in light of their alter-egos from Trunks' horrible future, not only are they not exactly murderous towards anyone not named Dr. Gero, which would play this trope straight, but they don't even really come off as sociopaths.
    • Played straight later on with Super 17 in GT, who's pretty much a strange cross between Brainwashed and Crazy Android 17 and his Evil Knockoff from hell, with twice the size and seriousness of either and a very Evil Laugh. While there's far less of a conscience, far more power, and even more ego on the surface with Super 17 than the original, he still doesn't really shoot to kill anyone not named Dr. Gero during his Curb Stomp Battle with the Z-Fighters, and it even takes a while to get there in his ensuing battle with Goku, the guy 17 was originally programmed to kill in the first place, even though his combination of Energy Absorption and Strong as He Needs to Be gives him a clear upper hand.
  • The Mobile Suit Gundam 00 movie, Awakening Of The Trailblazer, has an example. The ELS learn about things through assimilation, and combining their forms together is merely an efficient form of communication. Humans find assimilation to be a very painful way to die. This leads to the unfortunate situation where the ELS are a peaceful race looking to learn about and communicate with humans, and don't understand why humanity is trying to kill them for doing so, while humanity thinks it's defending itself against a hostile invasion.


Comic Books Edit

  • The Marvel Comics Captain Ersatz of King Kong, Gorgilla, falls into this category.
    • Another Marvel story involved Doctor Strange and the Scarlet Witch confronting a giant extra-dimensional beast rampaging around the city. The monster seemed almost unbeatable, but then Strange reads its mind. As it turns out, the rampage was just a reaction to being plucked out of its home realm and deposited in a strange world; it was scared, lonely, and simply wanted to go home. Strange complies, ending the threat.
  • One possible interpretation of Bizarro.
  • The Batman villain Humpty Dumpty seems to be mentally retarded, but he has a knack for analyzing mechanical systems and figuring out how to subvert or disable them. After the deaths of his parents and constant verbal abuse from his grandmother, he started sabotaging random machines out of irritation, but he doesn't understand that this sabotage can get people killed. Even when he eventually "took apart" his grandmother, he did so in a misguided attempt to find the root of her meanness and fix her.


Fan Fiction Edit

  • The embodiments of the Elements of Harmony in Elementals of Harmony. They range from neutral to friendly, but are breaking the universe by existing. Two actually commit suicide when they learn this.
    • The only ones that have to be fought head-on merged with ponies and were twisted. Loyalty merged with Scootaloo and lost it after being rejected by Dash, and Magic merged with Twilight and drove her existing tendency to fix everything with magic and Control Freak issues Up to Eleven by giving her enough power to fight two planeswalkers and Luna.


Film Edit

  • King Kong. As a description of how this trope fits would be akin to a plot synopsis, we recommend reading the page on King Kong instead.
  • Possibly The Thing. As much as a nightmare inducing assimilatory monstrousity it is, there is no indication that it is doing anything other than acting as any organism does: reproducing and trying to remain alive.
  • Mighty Joe Young as well.
  • When Godzilla is portrayed as an Anti-Hero, it's usually as one of these.
  • Yonggary is one too, as she only ever attacks when she's protecting her young or being controlled by aliens.
  • The mutant from The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. As Betty puts it: "I don't think it ever meant to kill. It just didn't know not to."
  • The Ymir of 20 Million Miles To Earth just wants to be left alone. The fact that it's continually growing and is wanted by the government to figure out how it survives on Venus leads to it being poked. The Ymir does not like being poked.
  • According to Word of God, the Cloverfield monster is not only a Non-Malicious Monster, it's also an Enfante Terrible. J.J. Abrams, the producer, said "He's a baby. He's brand-new. He's confused, disoriented and irritable."
  • The Kraken from Pirates of the Caribbean only ever attacks ships when Davy Jones wakes it using a massive hammer. Wouldn't you be a little cranky, too?
  • The xenomorphs from Alien, who only ever kill and face-rape because it's in their nature, rather than because of malice.
    • In Alien, the xenomorphs' first signal is a warning, and the humans boarded the xenomorphs' ship. That is what resulted in the Face Full of Alien Wingwong. Science officer Ash is an android whose mission is to collect a xenomorph on behalf of Weyland-Yutani's biological weapons division. In Aliens, colonists were directed to the xenomorphs' ship, again on behalf of Weyland-Yutani's biological weapons division. Thus, the humans were clearly the invaders.
      • Uh, isn't the warning signal more likely to have come from the other species onboard the ship?
  • The Golem from the 1920 silent movie classic The Golem is a straight example. He is treated as a monster by the humans, but at closer watch, he is only misunderstood (he is mute, after all) and dumb.
  • Zombies in most portrayals are this. They're just near mindless creatures with big appetites and living people are simply a convenient source of food.


Literature Edit

  • The titular monster in Julian May's story Dune Roller. Long ago, it crashed to Earth, with many small parts of itself (its "children") being widely scattered. It doesn't go out of its way to harm other creatures, but if you get in its way when it tries to reabsorb its children, it will go Mama Bear on you.
  • Stephen King's It has the character avert this pretty hard. If it simply ate it victims, it probably would follow this trope. But it likes to torment its victims before it kills them. Oh, and it also likes to specifically target children.
  • Arguably, some of Lovecraft's Great Old Ones -- they are simply far too powerful for us to even register, or have any comprehension of lesser life or, in the extreme cases, anything else at all (except for Nyarlathotep, who is every bit as powerful, but is fully aware of the relationship between himself, humanity, and the rest of the cosmos, and manipulates mankind, although he is properly an Outer God), their actions are not malicious in a strict sense, as they scarcely notice us. Remember the last time you cared about the bugs you stepped on when walking in your yard?
    • Azathoth is a pure example, being a blind, deaf god who will destroy all creation, but completely mindless -- he literally does not know what he is doing, and is really more akin to a single cell than a sentient being.
  • In the Dresden Files, newly-made Red Court vampires and White Court vampires whose demon has just awoken can be this.
    • Many wizards don't have guidance when they come into their power (mid-teenage years). They don't know how not to use their power, or the consequences of misusing their power, and start down the paths to being warlocks (wizards of substantial caliber who violate the laws of magic). Many warlocks are malicious, and Harry has brought a few of those down himself, but he's really disturbed by the White Council's zero-tolerance policy towards this trope. He views Molly as this when he presents her to the White Council, and manages to get her put on probation instead of executed on that count, claiming he can teach her how to use her power for good.


Tabletop Games Edit

  • The Tyranids of Warhammer 40000 have no malice to them whatsoever. They reduce entire biospheres to bare rock because they need to eat, and are essentially nothing more than a rapidly-evolving swarm of intergalactic locusts. But because they divide the entire universe into "us", "food", and "inorganic matter", there is no way to deal with them other than to kill them or get out of the way...and planets are rather restricted in their movement.


Video Games Edit

  • Most of the alien enemies in the first Half-Life are just hungry animals that are very disoriented and confused from being abruptly teleported away from their home (yes, even the unspeakably horrible headcrabs). The sequel reveals that even the Vortigaunts were not malicious, having been enslaved by and forced to be cannon fodder for the Nihilanth.
  • Thresher maws in Mass Effect are giant wormlike creatures that are highly territorial and aggressive, though non intelligent. Standard protocol for dealing with them involves the local equivalent of tanks. Lots of them. The Thorian is claimed to be one of these before you fight it, but any savvy player knows that a giant sentient mind controlling plant is going to have to die and be posthumously villainized even if it thinks it is merely defending itself. However, when it was left to its own devices, it was apparently rather passive.
    • Mainly because it was sleeping. And a great deal of the reason the Thorian was vilified was because it strongly refused any possibility of making peace with the others and generally viewed them as expendable thralls, something that at best shows that it has virtually no respect and/or comprehension of other intelligent life.
  • Elementals from MARDEK don't attack so much as leak energy when disrupted. Not that it doesn't hurt, of course.
  • The Sasquatches from Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare. "We eat berries and mushrooms, you fool!"


Web Comics Edit

  • The Hulking Shyster from A Moment of Peace is an absolutely massive monster who can't hunt or kill anything because he's debilitatingly shy.


Western Animation Edit

  • An episode of Dexter's Laboratory featured an underground monster who couldn't get any sleep with all the noise of civilization, so he went up to the surface to ask humanity to quiet down. Naturally, the humans freaked out at the sight of a monster, and one thing led to another...
    • Also the plot to an episode of Dave the Barbarian. And, if memory serves, Powerpuff Girls.
      • In the Dave example, the monster was an evil god who soon proceeded to enslave Udrogoth, so that's where the similarities end.
  • Megas XLR has a big, grim, dark, evil species of rhino-like monsters...however, that was just because they were being mind-controlled; in reality, they were cultured, gentlemanly creatures.
  • In the film version of How to Train Your Dragon, the dragons are raiding the Viking village for food because they're being forced by a larger dragon to feed it or be eaten themselves. Once the larger dragon is killed, the other dragons are more than happy to coexist with the Vikings.
    • Vikings have ships and nets and can probably catch more fish in a day than a dragon could dream of!
  • In the aforementioned Powerpuff Girls example, the girls discover that the slime monster was only tearing Townsville apart because it was looking for its lost cat.
    • In "Super Zeroes", a monster begins destroying Townsville, and the girls start changing into their new hero identities. By the time they're done, night had fallen and the monster had suddenly lost interest in destroying the city. The next morning, the monster resumes his rampage, and the girls begin their journey to confont him. However, they all run into inconveniences that held up their arrival, and the monster eventually stops his path of destruction again at night (even checking his watch as time passes). Finally, when the girls actually confront him and prove ineffective against him, the monster explains that the reason he was destroying the city and drawing the girls out to fight him is because he was taking up a tradition back at his home island.
  • The Teen Titans episode "The Beast Within" has Beast Boy turn into the Beast, which plays the part of the Monster of the Week until misunderstandings are cleared out and the real culprit apprehended.

Notes

  1. although authors using this particular variation should be warned that the latter is particularly prone to being a Designated Villain