Naturalists of fiction: friends or fiends? Good or bad? Stereotypical or inspirational?

Books, movies, TV, theatre. Other creative works of the imagination.

What are some of the most memorable portrayals of naturalists in works of fiction that you have encountered? And please explain why you like – or don’t like – the character(s) you recall.

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Dr. Dolittle is the only fictional naturalist I remember and I only really remember the name. I can’t say it really matters though since I’m still learning about overlooked real life naturalists.

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Maybe slightly related but opposite your prompt: Does your nature knowledge spoil fiction?

Not really naturalists per se, but thinking of Poison Ivy from the Batman series, or Reginald Bushroot from the Darkwing Duck cartoons, it irks me that characters with those powers in particular are always villains, never heroes. It shows a deep-rooted anti-nature sentiment in our culture.

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I wish I could find it, but I’ll just have to describe it.

There’s a great single panel cartoon of Batman ready to fight Poison Ivy and Mr,. Freeze where Ivy says to Batman something like, “Why are we the bad guys? All we want to do is make the world a cooler and greener place!”


Dinosaur movies. You can find a few characters.
Gerald Durrell. His books were in my school library. Adventures on collecting rare creatures, increase their numbers and reintroduction. If done carelessly today, obviously it makes the creatures extinct faster, but he had helped a few species avoid extinction. He wrote a few fiction books.
The movie - Species, starring Natasha Henstridge. I couldn’t remember the details. Story was like a group of scientists investigating a femme fatale/alien creature. Many of the scientists were killed by the alien in bed.

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Neytiri, the Navi woman in Avatar. She was the “spokesperson” who explained the planet’s Gaia and connections between and with living species on the planet.

If you can overlook the obligatory fight scenes, there’s a powerfully beautiful depiction of a nature story on offer in the movie

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Was the villain in Hound of the Baskervilles a Lepidopterist or have I misremembered?

And hawkmoths feature in Silence of the Lambs but I can’t remember why, only that the lepidopterist sitting next to me said that is the wrong species for that locality.

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except that Gerald Durrell is no fiction. He and his characters are real people but the books are no less entertaining to read. I think, I remember some naturalist in one of romance books though I absolutely cannot remember neither author nor the book (type of the literature that you read and forget what it was about a day after). But, of course, there are great figures of naturalists in classics: Jacques Eliacin François Marie Paganel of Jules Verne and other personages of his other books. Then, personages of the Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle. Probably there are more, but I cannot remember for now. Though, if one treats herbalists and wise men/women as naturalists, there would be many more.


Ah, shame I missed that one. But then the most annoyingly inacurate thing I found in a book I read only this year and which was an epitome of inaccuracies - historical, cultural and linguistic. On top of that the author described hummingbirds flying aroung bougainvilleas in the French Riviera!

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Our heroine works at a museum studying molluscs.

… these tiny wet beings straining calcium from the water and spinning it into polished dreams on their backs.

Anthony DOERR
All the light we cannot see

St Malo. WWII. She may be based on a real scientist?

I read the novel The Overstory by Richard Powers. Most characters there are naturalists in one way or another. The novel itself was okay, just personally felt a bit underwhelmed by the ending.


Jim Lindsey and his giant project Ecology of Commanster: a website based project showing the Ecological Relationships Among More Than 7800 Species.

@susanhewitt , perhaps?

Spider-Man, Swamp Thing, Hellgramite, The Lizard, Man-Bat, The Floronic Man, and Morbius are all biologists.

Since the literary and live action fields are taken care of, I’m going to ponder through my outdated knowledge of anime and video games.

Quite a few characters in Pokemon probably can fit in this category, though I’m not familiar enough to name much beyond the most obvious ones. Heck, just about any franchise that’s about documenting or catching species could count.

I remember Michelle Chang and Julia Chang from Tekken’s storylines revolving around having a love of nature.

Jotaro Kujo from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure becomes a Marine Biologist (had to actually check).

Not sure if the anime Moyashimon or Mushishi count, since the later is about microorganisms and the former is about a made-up class of organisms, but these characters from those series who come to mind.


I always wondered if Batman’s bat cave hideout impacted an important bat hibernaculum near Gotham. (The cave and its bats probably have White-nosed Syndrome by now.) Of couse Bruce Wayne wasn’t really a naturalist, he just appropriated bat imagery.



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Kya from Where the Crawdads Sing is one of the most accurate depictions of a naturalist in fiction, ever. I highly recommend reading this book and/or seeing the movie.

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