Created By: EdnaWalker on March 18, 2012 Last Edited By: EdnaWalker on July 16, 2013

Human Surrogate Animal Character

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Purely Aesthetic Species is when a Funny Animal, Petting Zoo Person, or even Civilized Animal character is basically a human character whose species is treated as simply cosmetic. They hardly drop a single Furry Reminder, are nearly always unaware that they are animals or their respective species, and never act like the species they are. Because they are treated as basically human, they are especially prone to dropping a Furry Denial. They usually perform actions that would be more appropriate for a human than their own species to do with no question, comment, or lampshade whatsoever. Their stories would be exactly the same if both of these characters were actually human. As far as the setting and creator is concerned they're "human" no matter what species they are.

This phenomenon is called either "human surrogate animal character," "humans represented by animals," "purely aesthetic animal form," "human in animal costume syndrome," or "superfluous animal form syndrome."

This phenomenon is more forgivable or at least less jarring in Petting Zoo People than in Funny Animals or Civilized Animals as the former have a humanoid body to the point of looking like humans in animal suits to begin with. Granted, the viewer is going to expect them to act more like humans in animal costumes as well. The latter two however are supposed to be like animals doing things that animals would not usually do, while still having at least a few of the basic characteristics of their real-world counterpart. They're basically normal animals (body-shapewise), usually with opposable thumbs and often the ability to speak as well as to walk on their hind legs.

Note that not every Civilized Animal, Funny Animal, or even Petting Zoo Person falls into this trope.

Often leads to Furry Denial and Furry Confusion. See also and contrast Rule of Personification Conservation. Not to be confused with Informed Species.


  • In Maus, anthropomorphic mice, cats, dogs, pigs, frogs, reindeer, fish, and Gypsy moths represent various different ethnic and religious groups and nationalities, but they act nothing like the species they are.

Live-Action TV
  • In Tomorrow's Pioneers, co-hosts, althought dressed as funny animals, don't show any animal traits, are human-sized, refer to themselves as humans, and even have fully human parents.

New Media

Western Animation
  • Various "anthro" Classic Disney Shorts characters including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pete, Goofy, Clarabelle Cow, Horace Horsecollar, evey single Dogface, and even Donald Duck, are either "purely aesthetic species" or dangerously close to falling into the "purely aesthetic species" trope.
    • Goofy is the worst offender; in all his appearances (save for his earliest appearances as Dippy Dawg) is basically treated as a human character, with his species, a dog, being treated as purely aesthetic. He almost never drops a Furry Reminder and not only is he never treated as a dog, he's nearly always referred to as a man (unlike the mice and ducks who were at least referred to by their species). This is especially pronounced in his shorts as George G. Geef, Goof Troop, and A Goofy Movie and its sequel.
      • Same applies to Goofy's son, Max, and every single Dogface for that matter.
    • Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Mortimer Mouse, and other giant mice in their universe, while not as bad as Goofy and his kin, are very dangerously close to falling into the "purely aesthetic species" trope. Unlike Goofy, Max, and other Dogfaces, they (Mickey at least) get a few Furry Reminders, however very few there may be. The Furry Reminders have increased in frequency slightly since House of Mouse.
    • Pete was pretty much a "purely aesthetic species" (even when he was a bear in the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons and when he was a cat with tail in the earliest Mickey Mouse cartoons) until House of Mouse. Since then, he's received a few Furry Reminders.
    • Similar to the Pete example above, Clarabelle Cow has only received a few Furry Reminders since House of Mouse. From the mid thirties to before House of Mouse, she was just as bad an example of "purely aesthetic species" as Pete was.
    • Donald Duck and the other ducks in the "Mickey and Friends" were a little better at avoiding this trope than Clarabelle Cow, Pete, Goofy and other Dogfaces, and even the giant mice in the same universe, but even they can get dangerously close to being "purely aesthetic species."
      • Donald, Huey, Dewey, and Louie have the distinction of having a voice spoken as a duck's quack but they and other ducks in the Classic Disney Shorts, the Disney Ducks Comic Universe, DuckTales, Darkwing Duck, Quack Pack, and other related universes live in a human environment, never fly (save for Donald in ''The Three Caballeros), always live in a suburban, urban, rural household environment, and even swim in the same way that a human does.
      • The only time Donald ever swims like a duck is when he is riding in a canoe with his feet sticking out of the bottom in one cartoon.
  • Some Hanna-Barbera animal characters, like Huckleberry Hound, Secret Squirrel and Morocco Mole, Quick Draw McGraw and Baba Looey, Auggie Doggie and Doggie Daddy, and Snooper and Blabber, are dangerously close to falling into this trope (though the latter is one of the few cat & mouse cartoon duos who actually work together as a mutually-cooperative team rather than the usual chase-each-other-violently-as-natural-enemies pair).
    • Huckleberry Hound. Sure he's a dog, but he really didn't do anything doglike. In fact there were several shorts where he was pitted against a non anthropomorphic dog--such as a mailman, or a fireman trying to rescue a cat from a tree--from a dog. He always reacted towards the dog in a humanlike manner so the dog always treated him like a human.
    • Secret Squirrel and Morocco Mole were basically a secret agent and his sidekick in animal suits. None of them acted like the animals they were. The main reason they were drawn as animals in the first place was the idea that having the heroes be animals would be funnier.
  • Like Secret Squirrel and Morocco Mole, Danger Mouse and Penfold never acted like the animals they were. The main reason they were drawn as animals in the first place was the idea that having the heroes be animals would be funnier.
  • Most Looney Tunes animals avoid this trope, but Porky can sometimes fall afoul of this trope.
    • While he is never seen wallowing in mud or rooting around in the dirt for truffles, there are references in his earlier cartoons to overeating.
      • By about 1945 however, Porky could've been human. In fact, in some cartoons, he's directly treated as if he were human. For example, in Dog Collared, he's honoring Be Kind To Animals Week, clearly forgetting that he himself is technically an animal!
      • In The Looney Tunes Show, however, Porky gets some Furry Reminders, especially in relation to pork, sausage, and pepperoni.
  • The anthropomorphic animal characters in Arthur follow this trope to a T.
  • The Tex Avery wolf, Wolfie doesn't really behave anything like a real wolf aside from attempting to catch lamb in one Droopy cartoon. There were a few cartoons that alluded to his wolfiness, like the Droopy cartoon homage to The Three Little Pigs, but for the most part, he is either the womanizer of The '40s cartoons or the Southerner of The '50s cartoons.

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