When the Zodiac Killer was terrorizing Northern California in the late 1960s, his letters to the police referenced a 1932 film called The Most Dangerous Game, a movie inspired by a 1924 Richard Connell short of the same name. In his letter, the Zodiac Killer menacingly asserted that he likes to hunt people because “man is the most dangerous animal of all.” In many ways, the antagonists from the Predator film franchise operate in a similar fashion, but with their own unique code of honor.
The Predators are a technologically advanced alien clan that refers to themselves as Yautja. Like the Zodiac Killer, they prefer to hunt for prey that they deem to be a worthy opponent for sport because they are seeking out the thrill of the hunt.
Despite their ruthlessness and use of brute force, Predators are capable of showing mercy, and will only continue to hunt and fight if their subjects are ready to fight back. They often spare pregnant women, children, unarmed adults, and the elderly if they’re not being directly assaulted by them.
In other words, if you are being chased by a Predator, and you end up being disarmed, the hunter will impose a self-inflicted handicap in the form of disarming itself and gearing up for hand-to-hand combat in an effort to level the playing field. Though the franchise spans decades at this point, we can see evidence of this ethical code in 1987’s Predator.
In the case that a Predator becomes mortally wounded, it will initiate a self-destruct device on its wrist gauntlet for two specific purposes: to acknowledge loss and commit an honorable suicide, and to potentially destroy its enemy with the blast.
When a Predator is equally matched, defeated in combat, or outwitted, the intended prey that survives is often rewarded for a fight well fought. A prime example of this badge of honor can be witnessed in Predator 2 after Lieutenant Mike Harrigan is able to successfully subdue and eliminate the Yautja referred to as “the City Hunter” with its own Smart Disc.
The Predators are a technologically advanced alien clan that refers to themselves as Yautja.
At the end of the film, a group of Predators give Harrigan an antique flintlock pistol from a past conquest as a trophy, which is an established customary act in Yautja culture.
What we didn’t know at the time of Predator 2’s release, was that the pistol that Harrigan received from the Predators for a job well done is identical to the pistol that Naru had in her possession in 2022’s Prey, which was set in the Northern Great Plains in 1719.
This reveal is tremendously important to our understanding of Predator canon, because it helps establish how long they’ve been hunting humans on Earth, as well as how long a Predator will hold on to an artifact before gifting it to a deserving opponent.
Predators are known to keep trophies of their own after a successful hunt. It’s worth noting, however, that a Predator has a different kind of trophy in mind after eliminating their prey. They are known to skin their victims alive, but only before removing their heads and spinal cords from their bodies.
They often spare pregnant women, children, unarmed adults, and the elderly if they’re not being directly assaulted by them.
If this particular method of celebrating a kill sounds particularly brutal, then you’d be upset to know that a Predator will often hang its victim’s carcass upside down from its feet from a tremendous height as a way to celebrate a victory in the most gruesome way possible.
Aliens Vs. Predator
Human hunting aside, Predators also thrive off their hunting of Xenomorphs. Young adult members of the Yautja clan are often tasked with hunting down the conflicting alien race as a rite of passage. If they succeed, they earn the title of Blooded, and earn the much sought after respect of their elders.
But given the Predator’s code of honor, if a young Yautja cannot successfully claim a victim, they will be disgraced and excommunicated. In other words, if you’re not a seasoned fighter, then you better find a good hiding spot if you ever encounter a Predator, because it’s clear that they take killing seriously.