Great White Hunter

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
    Allan Quatermain, the archetypal Great White Hunter

    The heroic counterpart to the Egomaniac Hunter and the Evil Poacher, the Great White Hunter is a heroic big game hunter. He is most likely a Gentleman Adventurer but he could also be an earthier type who leads safaris for a living. Either way he will be an expert tracker, a crack shot and skilled at wilderness survival.

    The Great White Hunter is something of a Dead Horse Trope. When he still appears, it will either be in a period piece, or he will be leading expeditions to capture animals alive. May wear an Adventurer Outfit.

    Despite his title, not always white... and not always all that great, either.

    Examples of Great White Hunter include:

    Comic Books

    • Congo Bill in The DCU (who later gained the ability to swap his mind with that of giant golden gorilla because Everything's Better with Monkeys).
      • Congo Bill was also featured in a 15 chapter movie serial in 1948.
    • In Jon Sable Freelance, Jon showed aspects of this trope; working as a safari guide and game warden before his Roaring Rampage of Revenge turned him into a mercenary.
    • There's also a DC hero called B'wana Beast (a white guy granted mystical powers by a magic helmet and a special potion). His successor, Freedom Beast, might count... except he's black...
    • Ulysses Bloodstone, and (to a lesser extent) his daughter Elsa, in the Marvel Universe, although they usually restricted their hunting to monsters.
    • In The DCU, Paul Kirk was one of these before he adopted the superheroic identity of the Manhunter.
    • Tintin in Tintin in the Congo killed a rhinoceros by blowing it up with dynamite after bullets didn't work. This and his earlier senseless killing of a monkey are especially jarring in light of his later kindness to animals in The Black Island and Tintin in Tibet. A Swedish translator made Herge redraw his work to spare the rhinoceros.
    • Allan Quatermain (see Literature below) is one of the central characters in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
    • Johnny Orchid, a Great White Hunter character created by J. T. Edson, whose adventures appeared in the British comic The Victor.


    • Two Brothers has Aidan McRory, a big game hunter who has made himself famous by portraying himself as a Great White Hunter in books that he has written about his hunts.
    • Similarly to the Freedom Beast example above, in the movie adaptation of Congo, Captain Munro Kelly introduces himself to the team with the line "I'm your Great White Hunter for this trip, though I happen to be black."
      • This is, of course, because the book Munroe was a more-or-less straight example, who the movie then made black in order to add diversity to the cast.
        • In an interview, the director claimed he cast Ernie Hudson as the hunter because he disliked this trope.
        • In the book, Munro was less a Great White Hunter and more along the lines of all the other white mercenaries running around in Africa at the time of writing. Also, wasn't he half Indian?
    • Sean Mercer (John Wayne) in the movie Hatari.
    • Subverted by Colonel Brock in the horror/comedy Alligator; he wears a safari suit and pith-helmet even though the film is set in Chicago.
    • Charles Remmington (Michael Douglas) from the movie The Ghost and the Darkness. Although Colonel John Henry Patterson (Val Kilmer) also ends up hunting the lions, he is not specifically an example of this trope but is instead forced into the role.
    • Mick "Crocodile" Dundee
    • Parodied with Bill Boosey (Sid James) in Carry On Up the Jungle.
    • Muldoon in Jurassic Park is about as close as you'll get to this trope being played straight in modern day. He was technically a game warden, though, but the look and the 'tude were there; close enough.
      • Roland Tembo in The Lost World: Jurassic Park is even closer, and even attempts to kill a T-Rex with a double-barreled rifle and wears khakis.
    • John Wilson (Clint Eastwood) in White Hunter, Black Heart.
    • Parodied in the Abbott and Costello film Africa Screams.
    • Victor Marswell (Clark Gable) in Mogambo.
    • Sidestepped by Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery) in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. He has all the characteristics, but Connery plays him as a very world weary man, in a company that only just barely needs his skills.
    • David in The Leech Woman.
    • Parodied in the Bob Hope film Call Me Bwana. Bob Hope plays a New York writer who has passed off his uncle's memoirs of explorations in Africa as his own. Hope lives his false reputation as a great white hunter to the point of living in a Manhattan apartment furnished to look like an African safari lodge complete with sound effects records of African fauna. Based on his false reputation as an "Africa Expert", he is recruited by the United States Government and NASA to locate a missing secret space probe before it can be located by hostile forces.
    • Subverted in the 1964 film Man's Favorite Sport? wherein Rock Hudson plays a fishing expert at Abercrombie and Fitch (this was back in the days when it was still just a world famous outdoor sports emporium) who can't fish. Entered into a fishing tournament by a publicity agent who doesn't know his secret, Hudson is forced to hire an Indian guide to catch his fish for him. And, yes, fishing is not the same as hunting, but it is the principle that counts.
    • Robert Shaw's character Sam Quint in Jaws. He's a Great White Hunter who hunts great white sharks.
    • Deconstructed in the 1966 family film Maya, which is actually about a quest to save a sacred white elephant. The young protagonist of the story journeys to India to meet his father, who lives on a plantation in the country and supposedly lives this trope. When he gets there, however, he finds that all the cages are empty of animals and have fallen to rust and disrepair. Gradually, the truth comes out....and it proves to be quite ugly. The boy's father was indeed known as a great hunter until he was clawed by a tiger, which traumatized him so much that he has devolved into a Dirty Coward who could no longer bring himself to hunt true wild game and now only uses his gun to kill small, weak, or tamed animals out of spite (such as when, without provocation, he shoots a tamed cheetah that his son had befriended). Eventually, though, the father redeems himself by rescuing his son, another boy his age, and a baby elephant from being eaten by a pack of tigers in the aptly named "Valley of the Tigers."
    • The Hunter in Jumanji was one of these, well before he started Hunting the Most Dangerous Game.


    • Lord John Roxton from The Lost World.
    • H. Rider Haggard's Allan Quatermain
    • Captain C.G. Biggar from the PG Wodehouse novel Ring for Jeeves.
    • Sanger Rainsford, the hunter who becomes General Zaroff's prey in The Most Dangerous Game.
    • Geoffrey Household's 1939 novel Rogue Male featured a white hunter going after Adolf Hitler. It was later filmed as Man Hunt in 1941 and Rogue Male in 1976.
    • Wilson from Ernest Hemingway's The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.
    • John Hunt and his sons Hal and Roger from the Adventure series of children's novels by Willard Price.
    • Richard 'Dick' Kennedy from Jules Verne's Five Weeks In A Balloon.
    • A comic version of this character is Colonel the Hon. George Hysteron-Proteron CB DL JP (1870 - 1942), the invention of the author J. K. Stanford.
    • Commander Trafford Bradshaw in the Thursday Next series.
    • The version of Gatsby's Multiple Choice Past that he personally tells Nick includes this, inducing a Narm attack:

    “After that I lived like a young rajah in all the capitals of Europe — Paris, Venice, Rome — collecting jewels, chiefly rubies, hunting big game, painting a little, things for myself only, and trying to forget something very sad that had happened to me long ago.”
    With an effort I managed to restrain my incredulous laughter. The very phrases were worn so threadbare that they evoked no image except that of a turbaned “character” leaking sawdust at every pore as he pursued a tiger through the Bois de Boulogne.

    However, a minute later Gatsby produces some evidence that other parts of his story are true, giving Nick what he later calls "one of those renewals of complete faith in him."

    Then it was all true. I saw the skins of tigers flaming in his palace on the Grand Canal; I saw him opening a chest of rubies to ease, with their crimson-lighted depths, the gnawings of his broken heart.

    • Denys Finch-Hatton in Out of Africa.
    • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea: Ned Land, the King of Harpooners.
    • In the Bunduki series by J. T. Edson, James Allenvale 'Bunduki' Gunn was a Game Warden in Kenya before being transported to another planet.
    • Robert Muldoon from Jurassic Park. Technically a game warden, but the look, attitude and skills are all there.
      • He's explicitly introduced in the novel as "the famous white hunter from Nairobi."
    • David Talbot in Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles is an old Brit who keeps fondly recalling his youth, much of which was spent in the jungles of India and South America as this trope. He would also often find local lovers (usually, young men).
    • Tarzan goes under cover as an American big game hunter in The Return of Tarzan.
    • Prepoc, the feline alien whose grave is the titular Urn Burial of Robert Westall's sci-fi novel, is described as glorying in the hunt and taking a savage joy in pursuing his quarry in battle; facing them honourably but not stupidly and trying to take as many as possible down with a single shot. It's a holdover from the days before he was Fefethil war-leader and hunted game for food.

    Live-Action TV


    • Deconstructed into absurdity in "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill", by The Beatles.
      • Many sources claim that the song was actually a harsh metaphor for The Vietnam War, though it did definitely use the hallmarks of this trope.
    • The singer / narrator of "Hunting Tigers Out in 'INDIAH'", a music hall song covered by The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, is trying to be this, although the Bonzo Dog Band's version implies he's not quite as brave as he'd like to be.

    Newspaper Comics

    • Jungle Jim, who also appeared in radio, film and television.


    Tabletop Games

    • The Explorer's Society in Deadlands even lets player characters become Great White Hunters. Of course, our herioc PCs can do this in good conscience because the "great whites" in question almost always have a taste for human flesh ("but what doesn't these days?").
    • A player character archetype in Hollow Earth Expedition.
    • Even though they're another society in a whole culture of hunters, the Bear Lodge of Hunter: The Vigil is probably the Compact to close match this trope. Why? Because they tend to hunt werewolves.


    • Played straight in World of Warcraft with Hemet Nesingwary, an anagram of Ernest Hemingway, who repeatedly asks you to hunt countless animals.
      • Nesingwary, incidentally, is widely hated by players for his tedious quests (which are less "hunting" than "ecological disaster") and the whole thing is hilariously subverted in the fact that he's opposed personally by a faction of druids in Wrath of the Lich King. His questline in said expansion is also arguably a lot more tolerable than his other efforts.
    • Franklin Payne, one of the possible party members in Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura.
    • Bonus Henchmen Col. Blackheart from Evil Genius. Complete with bear trap.
    • In Champion Of The Raj, an obscure game set in early 1800s India, one way the player can win an alliance with local lords is by going tiger hunting with them. Two of the possible players are the British and French East India Company representatives.
    • Captain Ash from Time Splitters.
    • The Sniper from Team Fortress 2 is meant to be a version of this, except that he hunts people instead of animals.
      • According to his character background, he actually used to be this trope in the Australian outback.
    • The player character of the 1980 Sega game Tranquilizer Gun (which was also released for the SG-1000 as Safari Hunting).

    Western Animation

    • Wildly subverted by Commander McBragg from Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales. As his name suggests, he was very sure of his skills and conquests, but they didn't always play out nicely as described them.
    • Victor Quartermaine, Wallace's gun-toting rival in Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. His name is even a Shout-Out to Allan Quatermain.

    Real Life

    • Jim Corbett was a hunter, conservationist and naturalist who hunted and killed tigers and leopards that had turned man-killers. Between 1907 and 1938, Corbett tracked and killed at least a dozen man-eaters. It is estimated that the combined total of men, women and children these twelve animals had killed was in excess of 1,500. His very first success, the Champawat Tiger in Champawat, alone was responsible for 436 documented deaths. He also shot the Panar Leopard, which allegedly killed 400 after being injured by a poacher and thus being rendered unable to hunt its normal prey. Other notable man-eaters he killed were the Talla-Des man-eater, the Mohan man-eater, the Thak man-eater and the Chowgarh tigress. However, one of the most famous was the man-eating Leopard of Rudraprayag, which terrorised the pilgrims to the holy Hindu shrines Kedarnath and Badrinath for more than ten years. A TV movie starring Jason Flemyng was made in 2005.
    • Crocodile Hunter Ecological awareness need not be a hindrance to the trope. The late Steve Irwin, ran around in khaki shorts, and when he captured crocodiles to relocate them, he got to jump and wrestle them, which was far more exciting than to have him just shoot them.
    • Subverted Truth in Television: Robert Sapolsky's autobiographical "A Primate's Memoir."
    • Theodore Roosevelt. President, adventurist, conversationalist, big-game hunter, all-American hero.
    • Frank Mundus was a particularly literal example of the great white hunter. What did he hunt? Great white sharks.
    • Martti Kitunen (1747-1833). He shot 193 bears with a muzzle-loading musket. That means he got exactly one shot before the bear would be on his skin. He succeeded always.
    • J.A. Hunter who, amongst other exploits, is responsible for tracking down and killing the rogue elephant of Aberdare Forest.