The Hunter

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Peter Cushing, professional Christopher Lee-catcher

Survivor: We're going to die here, aren't we?
Demon Hunter: No. Because as long as I'm here, they are the prey...and I am the hunter!

There is a group of beings that The Hunter hunts. Maybe it's because of a traumatic event in their past, maybe it's been passed down through the family. Often, it's because those they hunt remind them too much of themselves, or the possibility of what The Hunter could become.

The prey of The Hunter tend to be criminals or supernatural monsters. Whether The Hunter is a good guy depends on the alignment of said prey, although almost all Hunters have to wrestle with fanaticism. If they fail to control that fanaticism, they'll eventually discover what happens to He Who Fights Monsters.

The most common kind nowadays is the Vampire Hunter, though Demon Slayers and Vigilante Men who target criminals are also common. The Witch Hunter is the least sympathetic variety.

The Hunter's motivation is usually one of the following:

  • The creatures are a danger to humans (or innocent humans); the desire to protect others is what drives The Hunt.
  • The creatures are tortured souls who Cannot Self Terminate. The only thing you can do is to put them all out of their misery.
  • A supernatural authority says that some being shouldn't exist—or the individual believes that it says so, based on personal revelation or scripture—so he becomes a Church Militant on a Mission from God.
  • The Hunter has suffered a terrible loss of some sort at the hands of the creatures, and now seeks Revenge. This style of Hunter usually has a specific individual among the creatures who he regards as his personal enemy (usually the creature responsible for the wrong in question), and is particularly vulnerable to He Who Fights Monsters.
  • Just good old-fashioned prejudice or Fantastic Racism. Maybe there is just one type of monster with a bad rep that is the target, maybe The Hunter hates everything that is Not Even Human. Even if the character is justified in hunting certain creatures, lumping all of one kind together may blind him to the fact that some of them are Friendly Neighborhood Vampires.
  • For profit, claiming to be a professional.

Occasionally parallels Bounty Hunter, although for The Hunter, this is always very personal. (They don't always mind taking money for the endeavor, though. After all, equipment is expensive.)

A Hunter with no fixed home is probably also a Knight Errant. Depending on the Hunter, may end up committing Van Helsing Hate Crimes. Not to be confused with a zombie using the same name. See also Mary Sue Hunter for the sue killing type.

For actual animal hunters, see Egomaniac Hunter, who hunts for the hell of it, Evil Poacher (who hunts endangered animals), and Great White Hunter (the Victorian ideal of hunter-as-Gentleman Adventurer). Any of these tropes may overlap with this one, however. For the 2011 film of the same name, see The Hunter (film).

Examples of The Hunter include:

Anime and Manga

  • Vampire Hunter D
  • Vampire Princess Miyu
  • Witch Hunter Robin
  • Venus Versus Virus
  • This pretty much describes the position of Spirit Detective in Yu Yu Hakusho.
    • Except they're taking orders from a Celestial Bureaucracy to go after specific criminal elements. And Yusuke's team at least are very low on personal motivation. And they actually work only five cases in the whole run, including the Rando thing and the one where Kurama and Hiei were introduced, as quarry. They spend the bulk of their page time at a tournament.
    • In fact, the only case they all actually work together is Demon City, where Kuwabara tagged along and Kurama and Hiei got sent in halfway to start working off their parole. Hiei flaked on the Chapter Black deal and didn't reappear until Sniper threw that truck at Yusuke, and the rest were just Yusuke with Kuwabara on the side in varying degrees of officiality.
    • Shinobu Sensui was this by nature, though. He'd been killing demons in self-defense since he was a very small child; Koenma just gave him some structure. And then moral relativism and confrontation with human evil broke his brain and he decided to Kill All Humans...
    • Several minor characters appear to be this.
  • Witch Hunters hunt witches. More like are the last bastion of humanity against a overpowered magical force, but the routine is still to hunt single witches.
  • Subversion: Those Who Hunt Elves (in a T-74 main battle tank, to strip them naked....)
  • Subversion: Seishirou from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle hunts a certain set of vampires... because he wants to become one.
  • Claymore: half-demons hunting full-demons.
  • Kamui in the .hack// series Haseo the star in the later G.U. series is also a hunter of Player Killers.
  • Many of the "monsters" in Mugen Densetsu Takamagahara Dream Saga are hunting humans, in revenge for their near-extinction.
  • Hellsing begins as a series about vampire hunters (with the subversion being that many of the main characters are vampires themselves), but the manga plot eventually becomes a war story whose entire opposition just happens to be made up of the undead.
  • The Flame Haze of Shakugan no Shana hunt down the Guze no Tomogara in order to protect the balance of the world.
    • While that's the stated goal many of the flame hazes seem to be in it for revenge.
  • Speaking of wolves, Quent Yaiden from Wolf's Rain hunts wolves to the point of obsession. However, we feel sorry for him because of Blue, his constant companion and Empathy Pet, and the fact that his wife and child were killed by wolves.
    • Later on, it is revealed that his family was actually killed by Darcia's soldiers, and the wolves had only been driven to his home because they were caught in the middle. It's an understandably tragic misunderstanding, especially considering that it has long become his only reason for living. When Blue gains the ability to use a human disguise, he does not believe her when she tries to straighten things out. Nor does he (or any of the pack) enjoy Toboe's constant attempts to make peace between parties. And if you take it the right way, this leads to Toboe's death near the end of the series.
  • Scar from Fullmetal Alchemist has dedicated his life to killing every state alchemist and singlehandedly defeating the nation of Amestris, to avenge their genocide of Ishbal. Toward the end of the Anime, the Elric brothers take it upon themselves to hunt down and destroy all the homunculi.
  • The Gantz hunters hunt all sorts of things. They don't know why, hell, they don't even know what they're hunting half the time.
  • After the Eclipse from Berserk, Guts becomes the Black Swordsman, dedicating himself to hunting down the demonic Apostles of the Godhand and putting them to the sword. He also seeks revenge upon Griffith for the betrayal that led to having the Brand of Sacrifice put on his neck and the utter destruction of his last group of True Companions, not to mention his lover being driven insane.
  • Kurapika from Hunter X Hunter is dedicated to hunting down the Phantom Troupe, Genei Ryodan, (also known as The Spider, each member being a leg) the villainous True Companions who are responsible for making Kurapika Last of His Kind.
    • His vendetta reaps about four of the ten of them dead and their leader out of play for a considerable period. We visit them beating up a splinter group of the Big Bads of the arc-after-next just because Togashi wanted to play with them and their powers more. He has a tendency to bond with his villains.
  • Kuroe Kurose from Blood Alone was one of these before the series began, and it's something he tries not to bring up, especially considering his living with a vampire.
  • The Exorcists in D Gray Man, or anyone in the Black Order, including scientists and Finders, all joined the Order at one point or another mainly for personal reasons, usually because their relatives died from Akuma attacks, or they embody Innocence and want to put it to use. Occasionally some members of the Black Order have other goals, but the first two are most common.
  • In theory, this is the central responsibility of shinigami from Bleach, freeing the tortured souls that have become Hollows so they can reenter the cycle of reincarnation and stop killing and eating people, but what with their having been at war basically since actual shinigami characters started to be introduced, we haven't really seen them do much of it.
  • Shinigami of Yami no Matsuei are the government bureaucracy version of this; they manage to combine cop show tropes with The Hunter tropes, and also all those frilly shojou tropes. (And in the manga, This Is Your Premise on Drugs tropes. Matsushita's mind is strange.)
  • Goblin Slayer. He slays goblins. And only goblins. That's about it.

Comic Books

  • Comic book/movie example: Blade (who also shows up in Spider-Man), a half-vampire hunting down full vampires. Also had one season of his own TV show, Blade the Series.
  • One could argue this of Batman.
  • Don't let the quote above fool you: The Punisher relentlessly hunts after all criminals. He's an equal opportunity Vigilante Man and One-Man Army.
  • Ulysses Bloodstone was the premier monster hunter in the Marvel Universe. Following his death, the mantle passed to his daughter Elsa.
  • Graveyard Shift from Scare Tactics is a church sanctioned organisation of vampire hunters.
  • Green Arrow when Mike Grell wrote him was portrayed this way. Probably because Mike Grell is a big game hunter.
  • In Hack Slash, anti-heroine Cassie Hack is a Final Girl who has made it her mission to hunt down and deliver retribution to Slashers, a type of monster defined as the ones in gory Slasher Movies who prey on teenagers, often created as the result of a failed government project. Ironically, this leads to her and her partner Vlad often discovering that Humans Are the Real Monsters. She has encountered a few famous Slashers via crossovers - including Chucky, Freddy Krugar, and Evil Ernie - but seeing as Status Quo Is God, conflicts between her and them have always been inconclusive.

Fan Works

  • Um, The Hunter in With Strings Attached. Partially subverted in that his name is actually Jim Hunter, implying that Jeft chose to use him as a character because of his name. If he hunts anything specific (besides forest animals), we don't find out.



  • Gerald Tarrant of the Coldfire Trilogy is named "The Hunter". Granted his prey of choice seems to run high on young attractive and terrified women, but hey if your going to scare the bejezzus out of someone and stalk them through a creepy forest they might as well be good to look at.
  • Colt Regan is this to the various demons and other supernatural nasties that make a ruckus in his vicinity.
  • Will Graham, the protagonist of Red Dragon is an expert at tracking serial killers, able to perfectly empathize with them. He even captured Hannibal Lecter. The problem is that his empathy gets too strong, and he begins thinking like them even when he doesn't intend to. By the time of The Silence of the Lambs he's a drunken, deformed wreck.
  • What does Takeshi Kovacs of Woken Furies do after his ex-girlfriend is burnt at the stake by a fundamentalist religion? Why, he tracks down the priests involved, and kills them. Then he kills everyone in the village who was eighteen or older at the time, and could have reasonably been expected to speak up. Then the starts killing every member of the Knights of the New Revelation on the planet. Because once you start killing people, it's hard to stop.
    • He says this himself when the person whom he confessed it to asks "Where does it end?" The answer: "It doesn't."
  • The title witchers of The Witcher are traveling monster-slayers for hire, gifted with unnatural powers.
  • Though his specific reasoning hasn't been revealed, Colt Regan has mentioned on several occaisions the hunting demons is more than a job for him, it's what he does.
  • The eponymous hero of Andrew Vachss' "Burke" novels is a Hunter by nature; having been raised by the state and horribly abused as a child, he has a pathological hatred of child molesters, but he doesn't hunt them full-time—only when he's getting paid or he's been crossed somehow.
  • The titular Exorcists are an entire organization dedicated to this work.
  • Steel in "Eva Fairdeath" by Tanith Lee
  • Four words. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea: The Hunter Ned Land accuses Nemo of being The Butcher after observing him massacring the cachalots. Captain Nemo claims to be hunting dangerous plagues.

"Well, sir," replied the Canadian, whose enthusiasm had somewhat calmed; "it is a terrible spectacle, certainly. But I am not a butcher. I am a hunter, and I call this a butchery."
"It is a massacre of mischievous creatures," replied the Captain; "and the Nautilus is not a butcher's knife."

  • In Tom Clancy's Without Remorse, John Kelly is a retired Navy SEAL who goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the drug dealers who murdered his girlfriend, a recovering prostitute who used to work for them. His persona while doing this fits the trope to a tee: he stalks each target, learns their habits, snatches them up and interrogates them to learn about the next target, then executes them.
  • Harry Dresden evolves into this, and the Knights of the Cross are these.

Live Action TV

  • Brimstone
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Angel
    • Holtz embodies this trope.
  • Highlander the Series features an organization called the Hunters, an evil offshoot of the Watchers, that is dedicated to hunting down and killing Immortals.
  • Dean and Sam Winchester from Supernatural and a large part of their supporting cast.
  • Eric van Helsing in Young Dracula.
  • The protagonist of the television series Werewolf.
  • Sylar on Heroes hunts down and kills superhumans to take their abilities.
    • And now Volume 4: Fugitives will have a character actually named The Hunter, a U.S. Government Black Ops leader whose job it is to hunt down Superhumans for Uncle Sam to send to Super Guantanamo.
      • That's the official plan, but Danko is also perfectly happy to use lethal force in liberal amounts too.
  • Dexter for killers not otherwise brought to justice.
  • NCIS: Leroy Jethro Gibbs is like that. EVERY time he is tracking a criminal It's Personal. When one of his own team is endangered of course Its Really Personal
  • Van Mcnulty from the Smallville episode Extinction. He hunts and kills anyone with superpowers, not caring if they are good or evil. Immediately after discovering Clark's secret and heroic career, Van attacks him with kryptonite bullets. After Clark defeats him and sends him to jail, he is murdered by two superpowered foes Clark had defeated and jailed earlier in the series.
    • Technically they weren't jailed, they were thrown in the loony bin.
  • The Auzora (Blue Sky) Association from Kamen Rider Kiva is this to the fangires and to a lesser extent the other monster races. How extreme it is taken varies between members though. Some are content to allow fangires to live as long as don't feed on humans whereas others will kill all fangires on site. Almost all of them warm up the half-fangire protagonist though.


  • "Soul of the Hunter" by Excess Pressure, though it's not clear in who or what exactly the protagonist takes lethal interest.

They killed all I treasured, now I make them pay!
Their bodies all broken shall scatter my way

  • "Dragonchaser" by At Vance.

That's why call you the Dragonchaser

  • "Godwhacker" by Steely Dan. "It's about an elite squad of assassins whose sole assignment is to find a way into heaven and take out God," according to songwriter Donald Fagen:

We track your almighty ass
Thru seven heaven-worlds
Me, Slinky Redfoot
And our trusty angel-girls
And when the stars bleed out
That be the fever of the chase
You better get gone poppie
GodWhacker's on the case

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Ranger character class in is stereotypically The Hunter. Their "favored enemy" class ability gives them bonuses to finding and killing a specific category of creature. It is possible to subvert this trope by choosing favored enemies for other reasons.
    • In the original AD&D, all rangers had goblinoids and giants as their enemy, owing to the roots of the class, but with the advent of Second Edition, one could choose which kind of enemy their ranger was dedicated to taking down. One could even have a human ranger who had certain kinds of evil humans as a favored enemy, such as pirates, brigands or slavers, or in the case of Drizzt, a drow ranger who rebelled against his own evil kind. The original 3E removed restrictions on alignment, but you could not choose your own race as a favored enemy unless you were evil, which was thrown out for 3.5.
    • Ravenloft has Rudolph Van Richten (an Alternate Company Equivalent of Abraham Van Helsing in concept), a herbalist-turned-monster hunter after his son was sold to (and turned) by a vampire, who later killed his wife in revenge. Not only does Van Richten personally go after these deadly evil creatures, but he had several books published detailing the results of his research to give others the needed edge to kill the things, along with other monsters he met and had to fight in process, such as werevolves and liches.
      • Also true for his two nieces and proteges, Laurie and Gennifer Weathermay-Foxgrove. The Player Characters could fit this Trope in Ravenloft too, depending on how the DM runs the campaign.
    • Planescape has maruts, a type of inevitable whose job is to hunt down anyone who violates the axiom that "all mortals die"; they slay those who cheat Death itself. Now, in theory, any type of Immortality Seeker could be targeted, but nine times out of ten, they hunt liches.
    • Also in Planescape, the githyanki and githzerai are both descended from a Slave Race of the illithids; as a result, they often form bands called rrakkma warriors, who leave their planar fortresses on missions where they are not allowed to come back until they have slain a number of illithds equal to ten times the number of the band. (Most at least try to kill far more.) It's dangerous work, but among their own people, successful rrakkma are the most admired and most revered.
  • Hunter: The Reckoning is an RPG by White Wolf where all the player characters are monster hunters who've been granted mystical powers and are driven by a new urge to protect mankind from the supernatural beings that live among us. They also have a tendency to be driven insane, and a lot of them (especially those of the Avenger creed) aren't fussy about whether the supernatural beings they hunt deserve to be slaughtered or not.
  • The Witch Hunters of Warhammer Fantasy Battle go after their prey (witches, vampires, heresy, the forces of Chaos...) with little more than their weapons, their unshaking faith in Sigmar, and of course their hats. Some are accompanied by a rabble of zealous henchmen, others work alone.
  • The Inquisition of Warhammer 40,000 is this on a much larger scale. Here the Inquisitor can essentially requisition entire planets, regiments of Guardsmen and even Space Marines if he so chooses, and often the dangers they hunt require that kind of firepower to destroy. The Inquisition is divided into three groups specializing in rooting out heretics and rogue psykers (the latter present dangers of corruption by Chaos and/or possession, on top of the obvious), fighting daemons and learning about aliens to better defeat them.

Video Games

  • Samus Aran from the Metroid series of games hunts the Space Pirates who devastated her homeworld and left her the sole survivor of the whole planet. In Metroid Prime, files recovered from a Space Pirate ship indicates that they refer to her, literally, as "The Hunter." Since the Space Pirates are bug-like aliens, however, she can easily slaughter them by the thousands without worrying about the usual psychological problems...
    • And let's not forget her recurring troubles with the series' eponymous creatures. In Metroid II, the entire point of the game was to commit xenocide, wiping Metroids off the planet one by one.
    • Also in the Metroid Prime series, the Space Pirates react to the appearance of Dark Samus by referring to a "Dark Hunter." Hilarious to read at first, as they express their horror at being hounded by two Hunters... but by Metroid Prime 3: Corruption Dark Samus has become their leader, resulting in some nightmarish logs detailing the Pirates' blind fanaticism and devotion to her.
  • The Belmont family in the Castlevania games, as well as the Belnades and Morris families. The Belmonts are described as a clan of vampire hunters, but in the end it's only really Dracula (and his countless minions) that they wind up hunting.
  • Mortal Kombat's Ashrah is a demon who hunts others of her kind. She wields a holy sword that cleanses her of her demonic essence bit by bit with every demon warrior she kills with it, and she hopes to become completely purified and holy this way.
  • As the name implies, Witch Hunters from Warhammer Fantasy Battle Online hunt rogue witches.
  • Tsukihime: The future Tohno(/Nanaya) Shiki becomes this, hunting down the 27 Dead Apostle Ancestors (some of the most powerful beings on the planet) for the sake of the vastly-weakened Arcueid. He is good at it.
    • Arcueid herself. She's been chasing one single vampire for 800 years, killing any of the others who get in her way. Even before going after him, she hunted the Demon Lords, fallen True Ancestors.
  • The Maverick Hunters of the Mega Man X series. Ironically, one of the organization's greatest hunters becomes a primary target of a similar organization, the Neo Arcadian military, in the Sequel Series Mega Man Zero.
  • The Hellgate:London features a faction called Hunters though they aren't the only ones out for demon blood.
  • Half-Life 2's Father Grigori is clearly of the "putting a damned creature out of its misery" type. "A shepard must tend to his flock!", where his flock is the town of Ravenholm, who have all apparently become zombies.
  • Gabriel Knight is descended from a family line whose men were Schattenjägers, a German word loosely translating to "shadow hunters".
  • Some characters in Girls Love Visual Novel Akai Ito and its sort-of sequel Aoi Shiro fits hunter archetype. Tsudura and Uzuki from Akai Ito are part of an ancient clan of demon hunters (the "Onikiri"). Tsudura is even the (unwilling) leader of it. From Aoi Shiro, Migiwa is also member of similar clan, except based in the southern islands. Kohaku was turned into immortal oni long time ago by her sorcerer foster-father, and now seek epic vendetta against him and his creations. Kaya is Back from the Dead and is on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge to avenge her little sister that is, you.
  • Angry Black Man and recruitable ranger Valygar Corthala in Baldur's Gate 2 is a wizard hunter thanks to a long family history of magical obsession leading to evil and death, although his favoured enemy is "golems" (presumably because a lot of evil mages use them). The only real question that has to be asked is why he's a ranger given that there's a fighter subclass known as the Wizard Slayer and specifically geared up to kill mages.
  • The Demon Hunter class from Diablo III is a ranged class that is dedicated to Demon Slaying. They're typically recruited from among the survivors of villages ravaged by The Legions of Hell.
  • From The Witcher series, this is pretty much what a witcher is, a monster hunter for hire.
  • Juliet, along with both her sisters and father, in Lollipop Chainsaw.

Web Comics

  • The Hunters in Weregeek believe Tabletop RPG players are a menace to society, to be stamped out with deadly force. Fear the night...
  • Both the Vatican and the Norse "Æsir" churches field specialist troops to hunt down and exterminate immortals in Cry Havoc
  • Abner Van Slyk, professional vampire hunter of Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name. Bad news for Conrad.
  • In Errant Story, the elven rangers are this, hunting down half-elves because the elves believe they all inevitably go murderously insane. It's suggested, though, that some rangers will let them go if the half-elf in question isn't a danger.
  • Parodied with Tiffany Winters of Eerie Cuties and Magick Chicks. Being an Expy of Buffy Summers, she is dedicated to slaying vampire main character Layla DeLaCroix, who so far didn't notice any of these attempts. Aside from this, the two of them end up becoming best friends (with no small amount of Les Yay). Her second bestie becomes, of course, Melissa (witch). She got a bit of double-think going on between all the conditioning, half-fought-off mind control and conflicting instincts, but doesn't really have anything against vampires, witches, etc.
  • Jordan in Head Trip is a Furry Slayer -in-training. Or at least wants to be.
  • L.A.W.L.S. comic has Autumn, The Slayer—more specifically, Furry Slayer.
  • "Vespiary Squad" in Girl Genius, dedicated to dealing with, as the name implies, "wasps". Part of the problem with slaver wasps is that aside of flying Enslavers that are short-living and can be stopped by a thick mask, hive engines deploy Warriors to disrupt resistance and herd victims toward the engine. These things are a credible threat even to superhumanly tough constructs. Vespiary Squad guys wear their skulls over helmets. Ruxala who said "Protecting people from them is my job." so far is the only one being except Gil and Agatha who killed as much as 4 Hive Warriors on screen - except she didn't have one-touch-kill weapons, but scored 3 headshots (2 apparently without looking at the targets) and 1 jumping head-stab.

Web Original

  • Nightbane, of the Whateley Universe, hunts supernatural monsters: vampires, goblins, what-have-you. She's currently trying to kill Carmilla. Only one problem: Carmilla is one of the heroes in this universe.

Western Animation

  • First Gillecomgain and Duncan, then the Canmore family, from Gargoyles
  • The Huntsclan from American Dragon: Jake Long
  • Subversion: Elmer Fudd from Looney Tunes.
  • Valerie Gray from Danny Phantom who's under the delusion that all ghosts are evil—her job originally started with her getting revenge on one who ruined her perfect life.
    • There's also Skulker, who generally hunts rare ghosts. During his first appearance, he made a comment roughly along wanting "to hang [Danny's] pelt at the end of [his] bed".
    • Also Danny's parents, who are professional ghost hunters, and also happen to unknowingly supply him with all of his ghost hunting equipment.
  • Hoss Delgado from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy.
  • Dr Von Goosewing from Count Duckula.
  • In The Venture Brothers there's Jefferson Twilight, blacula hunter, dedicated himself to the elimination of black vampires after his mother was raped by a group of them when he was 10. He breaks off their fangs to add to his necklace before he kills them. He even has a "blood eye" that allows him to detect the presence of blaculas despite not being magic in any other significant way. Keep in mind, the eye only works on blaculas- vampires of other races are not his quarry, and so he can't magically detect them.
  • Jet from Avatar: The Last Airbender. He gains an intense hatred for people of the Fire Nation after his village is destroyed and his parents are killed in a raid by the Rough Rhinos, spending most of his onscreen appearances attempting to kill or expose firebenders.
    • Crosses into HeWhoHuntsMonsters when he attempts to massacre an entire Fire Nation village, men, women, children, elderly, bender or not.
  • In Mary Shelley's Frankenhole, it's a drunken redneck named Joe. He's mostly a Vampire Hunter but has Fantastic Racism for most creatures.