The Most Dangerous Game

The Most Dangerous Game Modern Adaptations of "The Most Dangerous Game"

Although many might think the chances of encountering a modern day version of the “The Most Dangerous Game” incredibly small given the unique set of circumstances presented in the book, the story has been recreated via numerous avenues.

Those who wish to experience the thrill of hunting while being hunted first-hand need not venture far from their homes. The popular game of paintball was inspired by “The Most Dangerous Game.” Paintball allows participants to experience the thrill of hunting “large-game” without the danger. In addition, one is simultaneously hunted down, a situation which provides a modern-day version of Rainsford and Zaroff's hunt. Laser tag and other similar real-life games have also been modeled after the human-hunting-human prototype presented in the story.

"The Most Dangerous Game" has also been adapted to film numerous times. More interestingly, its plot has been recreated in a wide variety of television shows. Star Trek, The Simpsons, Law and Order: SVU, and Criminal Minds are all examples of television programs that have incorporated the man-hunting-man stratagem. For example, in the 17th season of the The Simpsons, an episode titled “Treehouse of Horror XVI” the infamous Mr. Burns invites a group of people to join a hunting party. In the end, the invitees realize that they are the ones being hunted. Marge manages to overcome Mr. Burns with a frying pan, saving the entire group from continued participation in the hunt. In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, “The Most Dangerous Game” is re-envisioned in the episode “Captive Pursuit.” A lone reptilian humanoid named Tosk is found on a damaged ship. The crew of the USS Defiant allows Tosk to board, offering to assist him in the repair of his ship. Before long more of the reptilian humanoids arrive, seeking to capture Tosk. As it is later explained, Tosk has been bred specifically to be hunted by the Hunters.

The popular trilogy The Hunger Games has much in common with “The Most Dangerous Game.” However, the themes present in the popular books are disparate in a number of important ways. For example, the primary contention of power exists between the government and the people, not between two individuals. Moreover, the participants of the games are well aware of what is being asked of them—they are knowingly forced into a situation where they must hunt fellow humans. One of the more poignant aspects of “The Most Dangerous Game” is the element of surprise—the hunted do not initially realize that they are the prey. Nevertheless, the two works have much in common thematically as both require the reader to deal with the moral questions of hunting the largest game of all.

Additionally, there has been an unfortunate criminal adaptation of "The Most Dangerous Game." Between 1980 and 1983 Robert Hansen kidnapped over a dozen women. He then released them into a nearby river valley and hunted them down, much like Zaroff did in the story.

All of these recreations, both real and fictional, serve to demonstrate that the hypothetical quality of the game implied in the short story is in fact not so hypothetical. The visual recreations of “The Most Dangerous Game” have been used to highlight differences beyond those of madness and sanity, human and animal. Racial differences, gender differences, differences in autonomy within a power structure have been underscored through various applications of “The Most Dangerous Game.”