The Most Dangerous Game

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Publicity poster from the 1932 movie version

The Most Dangerous Game (also known as The Hounds of Zaroff) is the 1924 short story by Richard Connell.

Rainsford, a hunter of big game from New York, finds himself shipwrecked on an island. He finds a big mansion with a bored old general there, who describes his one true passion: hunting. The general tells Rainsford that he only hunts the most dangerous game of all... humans. The full story can be found here. The title has a double meaning, referring both to a "game" or contest between the general and his quarry, as well as "game" in the sense of an animal that is hunted.

The story has been directly adapted for film at least eight times, though only twice under its original title: in 1932, with Joel McCrea as Rainsford and Leslie Banks as Zaroff (available at, and in 2008, with Brian Spangler-Campbell and Mark Motyl, respectively. However, it has been imitated by a vastly greater number of works, and is the source and Trope Namer of the Hunting the Most Dangerous Game plot.

The Most Dangerous Game is the Trope Namer for:
Tropes used in The Most Dangerous Game include:
  • Action Survivor: Rainsford.
  • Affably Evil: Zaroff.
  • Alcohol Is Poison: In the first film (made during Prohibition), the first person we see Zaroff hunt is a drunken boor. This was deliberate on the part of the director.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Zaroff is changed to a Count, rather than a General in the original film.
  • Badass: The main character. Not only manages to survive three days in the woods, but also kills two of Zaroff's best hounds and his bodyguard, followed by Zaroff himself.
  • Blood Knight: Zaroff.
  • Cossacks: Ivan and Zaroff, see Husky Russkie below.
  • Derelict Graveyard: Ship-Trap Island.
  • Disney Villain Death: In the original film, Zaroff succumbs to his wounds by falling out the window, where his hunting dogs are waiting.
  • Double Entendre: The title. See the entry on the Double Entendre page for an explanation.
  • Duel to the Death: Rainsford and Zaroff square off at the end of the story; the winner gets to sleep in Zaroff's opulent bed, while the loser's body will be fed to the hounds. It's pretty clear that Rainsford wins.

He had never slept in a better bed, Rainsford decided.


"Ivan is an incredibly strong fellow... A simple fellow, but, I'm afraid, like all his race, a bit of a savage."
"Is he Russian?"
"He is a Cossack," said the general, and his smile showed red lips and pointed teeth. "So am I."


"I refuse to believe that so modern and civilized a young man as you seem to be harbors romantic ideas about the value of human life... Life is for the strong, to be lived by the strong, and, if needs be, taken by the strong. The weak of the world were put here to give the strong pleasure. I am strong. Why should I not use my gift? If I wish to hunt, why should I not? I hunt the scum of the earth: sailors from tramp ships--lascars, blacks, Chinese, whites, mongrels--a thoroughbred horse or hound is worth more than a score of them."


"There are two kinds of people in this world: the hunter and the hunted. And I'm not about to become the hunted anytime soon."