Created By: BlackbirdMizu on February 17, 2012 Last Edited By: BlackbirdMizu on March 7, 2016

Pet Fad Starter

When the appearance of an animal in a media leads to a growing demand for it.

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Needs a new name Needs more examples

When the appearance of an animal in a work of media leads to a sudden spike in demand for that animal. Basically, an animal version of The Red Stapler.

Just like with songs or certain pieces of merchandise, the appearance of a certain animal in a work of media will often lead to sudden attention on the animal, and thus a spike in demand for that animal. Quite common with dog breeds (as many dogs on TV are purebred) but does happen with other animals as well.

As with the impulse buy of any animal, this often leads to problems for the people who buy them. When a movie featuring a certain animal comes out, animal advocacy groups often put out messages to discourage people from buying the animal, and for good reason: when the hype dies down people often get bored of the pet, especially when the pet turned out to be more work than they expected. This has led to a lot of animals being abandoned.


  • The famous "Taco Bell Dog" is often cited as the original source of the popularity of the chihuahua breed.

Film-Live Action
  • The Disney film Snow Dogs led to a short spike in demand for huskies, the breed featured in the film. Many dog and husky enthusiasts advised against this, as huskies are very high energy breeds (after all, they were bred to pull sleds for long distances) and aren't very good for many first-time owners.
  • Legally Blonde is one of a few things that has been credited with popularizing chihuahuas as "accessory" dogs.

  • One of the more famous examples is 101 Dalmatians. The film made the breed more popular, and as a result, demand jumped up. Like many "fad" animals, several were abandoned a few months later, aided by the fact that dalmatians are very high-maintenance dogs that many owners aren't prepared to deal with.
  • As with dalmatians, Lady and the Tramp led to a sharp spike in demand for the Cocker Spaniel breed. The poor breeding done to meet the demand compounded the health problems the breed already had.
  • When the film Rio came out, some people feared that the film would lead to an increased demand for parrots, which would've been particularly bad since parrots are extremely high-maintenance animals that need constant attention and lots of patience, not to mention they often live for several decades. Thankfully, that never came to pass, though likely for cost reasons; parrots are expensive and run from several hundred to a few thousand dollars. Not exactly an impulse buy, especially for a first-time bird owner.
  • Ratatouille caused a demand for pet rats. Not the worst case, as rats are easy to care for even for a child, but it did lead to some abandoned rats.
  • Finding Nemo made tropical saltwater fish popular for a while, which was pretty ironic because a major point of the movie was that fish belong in the ocean.


Live-Action TV
  • The popularity of Lassie led to a large demand for collies. As with other dog breeds that come into this effect, several were bred to meet the demand, leading to unhealthy, inbred dogs. Many people blame this for health problems the breed has today.

Western Animation
  • Pet turtles grew in popularity when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon and movies became a hit. Many parents bought them for their kids without realizing how long the turtles can live, leading to many getting released in the wild and even becoming an invasive species in a few places.

  • From time to time, seeing a big celebrity with a pet leads to a demand in them.
    • Paris Hilton is a notable example, and is often credited with/accused (depending on who you ask) of popularizing tiny "purse dogs" like chihuahuas.
Community Feedback Replies: 38
  • February 17, 2012
    Not a good name. It assumes that only one thing is thought if when it comes to affects that work has done. What about encouraging Fur And Loathing, or the particular art style Disney switched to for years with this film, or having a cast of talking animals?
  • February 17, 2012
    Yeah, I know it needs a new name. 101DalmationsEffect is just sort of a "placeholder" name until I or someone else can think of a better one.
  • February 17, 2012
  • February 18, 2012
    This seems covered by The Red Stapler, though it could be a subtrope.
  • February 18, 2012
    Pet Fad Starter? I like that!
  • February 18, 2012
    Pet Propaganda perhaps?
  • February 18, 2012
    Here in the UK, we have an insurance company called "" who's advertising campaign features an anthropomorphic meerkat telling people the difference between said website and "" (a fictional website set up by the company.) Since the advert's launch three or so years ago, meerkats have popped up all over the place in all forms of merchandising. Not sure how many people have got pet meerkats since. Would this be a sub-trope or an example for this one? Thanks, Curly.
  • February 18, 2012
    I seem to recall reading about Marley And Me bumping the sales of Labrador Retreivers, but now that I look for that info I can't find it.

  • February 18, 2012
    To Curly Wurly: This trope refers to more people buying an animal because they saw it in a movie or a show. What you posted belongs to a different trope.
  • February 18, 2012
    The Finding Nemo entry misuses the word "ironic." I'd suggest replacing "pretty ironic" with "arguably Misaimed Fandom."

    EDITED IN: And what exactly is "surprising" about the Harry Potter example?
  • February 18, 2012
    This is interesting, but make sure you put in in the Trivia section, because this isn't a storytelling trope.
  • February 26, 2012
    to split or not to split?..
  • February 26, 2012
    Yeah, Harry Potter's not surprising. JK Rowling did come out saying she hoped people wouldn't buy owls, as they are incredibly inappropriate as pets.
  • February 26, 2012
    Oh, you mean The Red Streamline Stapler?
  • March 10, 2012
    I would argue the Harry Potter example is kind of surprising. Most of the other animals listed are already seen as traditional "pet" animals. Very few people keep owls as pets and they're not seen as pet animals, so it is weird that Harry Potter would start a trend of keeping owls as pets. (especially considering that other works featuring wild animals as pets do not typically cause this to happen)

    To Catbert: I will be sure to put this in the Trivia section. :3
  • March 10, 2012
    Gah, having trouble figuring out how to list it as Trivia. How do I get the little Trivia banner over it? (you know, the one that says "This entry is trivia, which is cool and all...")
  • March 10, 2012
    "I seem to recall reading about Marley And Me bumping the sales of Labrador Retreivers, but now that I look for that info I can't find it."

    I've heard the same thing about Beethoven and Saint Bernards. I'll see if I can find anything tomorrow.
  • March 11, 2012
    ^^ You put it on a Trivia index, as far as I know, but why are you trying to do it with an unlaunched YKTTW?
  • March 12, 2012
    • In Universe example in Labyrinths Of Echo: After Sir Max procures two kittens (in the world of Echo, cats are much larger than in ours and are kept as livestock on farms), a lot of rich citizens of Echo decide that he imported some rare breed and decide to get the same.
  • March 12, 2012
    A Real Life example: Pet stores sell a lot of rabbits around Easter time, when baby animals are all over advertisements. This leads to yearly shelter overcrowding in the fall when families give them away due to allergies or after realizing how long they actually live. This is such an extensive problem that an initiative to stop the gift of live rabbits for Easter has been going on for a decade, encouraging people to "Make Mine Chocolate" instead.

    (Sorry, forgot to Get Known)
  • March 12, 2012
    Pet Fad Starter seems appropriate as a title. I would fit it in as a subtrope to The Red Stapler.
  • March 14, 2012
    And like the Labs and St Bernards, I remember hearing about Jack Russell terriers getting popular after the show Frasier started. And like the others... I can't seem to find anything about it now. I'll keep looking.
  • May 7, 2014
    Any more?
  • May 7, 2014
    Subtrope of Garnishing The Story? (i.e the "everything's better with a particular animal" tropes)
  • May 7, 2014
    There is a project to recreate the direwolves (the prehistoric version, though Game Of Thrones has contributed to the demand), or rather, a large breed of dog that only looks like a direwolf but otherwise acts like a Big Friendly Dog. In this case, the dog's high price tag and maintenance will hopefully prevent mass buying and dumping.

  • May 8, 2014
    Video Games
    • Sonic Thehedgehog: Hedgehogs were almost completely unknown by the general populace before Sonic jumped into the video game scene and became a household name for SEGA in the 90's. They're still obscure pets, but not nearly as much.
  • May 8, 2014
    I don't think the Harry Potter thing is surprising. They're popular books and Hedwig is a strong friend to Harry throughout. I wouldn't be surprised if toads enjoyed a slight bump in popularity as well. In any case, I think it's worth noting that owls are not at all social creatures and thus tend to make bad pets, something most kids would not glean from the text or be inclined to look up, thus the need for the aforementioned sanctuary.
  • May 8, 2014
    ^I thought it was, although that may be a USA-centric view. I don't think any state allows private citizens to have owls as pets.
  • May 8, 2014
    This is The Red Stapler but more specific... there's nothing about that which claims animals don't count.
  • May 8, 2014
    ^ I think there's enough examples here to call it a subtrope.
  • May 8, 2014
    It's not about the number of examples that makes this a valid subtrope. This is a valid subtrope (subtrivia?) because the effect it has on the animals.

    Anyways, the Rio link is broken.
  • May 9, 2014
    The turtle craze also caused outbreaks of salmonella.
  • May 9, 2014
    • You Tube videos have increased the popularity of several "exotic pet" species, such as fennec foxes.
  • May 9, 2014
    I think I remember hearing that when Paulie was first released, people supposedly wanted conures as pets.
  • May 9, 2014
    So this is an Audience Reaction?
  • May 9, 2014
    ^It's a trivia page about an audience reaction I guess.
  • March 6, 2016
    Considering Chihuahua's are centuries old I doubt the Taco Bell dog is the reason they're popular....

    • The original Our Gang shorts helped popularize the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Pete was smart, loyal, and good with kids which made the breed become popular with families.

    • Stargirl provoked some readers to get interested in pet rats.

    Copying from The Red Stapler:

    Anime and Manga
    • Due to Heidi Girl Of The Alps St. Bernard dogs are very popular because of the dog Joseph, which doesn't appear in the original novel.
    • The popularity of the 1977 anime Rascal the Raccoon was single-handedly responsible for the introduction of feral raccoons in Japan. Up to 1500 raccoons were imported as pets, but now the descendants of abandoned or escaped raccoons live wild in 42 of Japan's 47 prefectures.
    • Hamtaro made many people want hamsters, and in some lands it was a true boom. It faded some years after, however.

    • A relatively obscure dog breed, the Weimaraner, has gained popularity through William Wegman's photos and videos featuring this breed.

    Film - Animation
    • Especially ridiculous with Finding Nemo, since the whole point of the film is that he's supposed to be living in the sea rather than in someone's fishtank. Also ridiculous is the fact that the massive rise in demand resulted in the various fish species that appeared in the film being caught en masse from reefs in the Pacific, resulting in the ecosystem being destroyed from the bottom up. And wild-caught tropical fish tend to do very poorly in home aquariums (they often die in only a few days). You're more likely to find captive-bred fish on sale and in aquariums.
      • Not that the reverse was any better — many children attempted to (or did) flush pet fish down the toilet in hopes that they would reach the ocean and be reunited with their family, unaware that sewer systems don't work that way. Even if you're in a state that's not landlocked, unless your hometown is violating EPA regulations by discharging raw sewage, your city's sewage system consists of miles of pipes and pumping stations that terminate in a treatment plant. Even if the fish survived the ride to the plant, the entire point of the plant is to kill infectious microorganisms — and it does a fine job on killing anything bigger, as well. One sewage engineer noted that the first step at the plant is to reduce any large chunks into a fine purée, usually with something like this; he dubbed the result to be called "Grinding Nemo".
      • It doesn't help, either, that parents most likely bought their kids a pet fish thinking they would be easy to care for. In reality, even the hardiest of fish require specialized care. Unfortunately, a lot of inexperienced fish owners probably thought all "Nemo" needed was a tank (or, worse, a goldfish bowl), some water, rocks, and food now and again resulting in the deaths of many pet fish.
        • The popularity of clownfish as a pet has increased due to this movie. And, while clownfish do make wonderful aquarium pets, they require special care and maintenance, something most people (and especially children) don't have the experience to do so.
      • This was not helped at all by major aquarium supply company Tetra using this trope to cash in on this trend by "demonstrating" (read: "advertising") the "easiness" of keeping small saltwater tanks with clownfish, blue tangs, and seahorses on the CBS's morning news program'; and producing a tie-in aquarium kits, effectively guaranteed dead fish within a very short time; and sparked a huge backlash against, and boycott of, Tetra products.
    • Lady And The Tramp wreaked similar havoc on American Cocker Spaniels decades ago, and the breed is still notorious today for physical and mental health problems. This compounds the problems the breed already had, as they were already prone to obesity, spinal stress, heart problems, and severe ear infection. Cocker Spaniels are highly aggressive toward humans, much more so than other breeds that are considered dangerous, like Dobermans, but Cockers rarely cause much damage because of their size, so they don't get much press.
    • All Dogs Go To Heaven increased demand for German Shepherds. Of course, German Shepherds have always been highly popular, and are an easy-going and relatively low maintenance breed.
    • Ratatouille led quite a few kids to want pet rats. This actually may have been more of a sensible choice than the previously mentioned animals, as domestic rats make good pets: they're fairly low-maintenance, they're friendlier than their more popular cousins (mice and hamsters), they can be litter-trained, they don't particularly smell, and you can train them to sit on your shoulder. It's recommended you buy at least two (preferably of the same gender, because opposite sexes fight unless they're in heat, when they do a different kind of wrestling) if you're not going to be around all the time, because they're quite social and get lonely. Even years after Ratatouille, there's some significant request for blue rats. In fact, the Ratatouille rat craze plays this trope straight because many kids (and adults, too) found out too soon that real life fancy rats are nothing like Rémy, often they were also disappointed not to have a blue one, and soon they lost interest, and the rat(s) had to be disposed of. Ever since this movie, animal shelters are bursting with pet rats.
    • Oh-so-thankfully averted with Rio. When it came out there was some concern that like with other films, the movie would lead to a higher demand for parrots, which would've been very bad because parrots, especially larger ones, tend to be extremely high maintenance animals. They're loud, highly intelligent, and require constant attention, play, and stimulation. They're basically like human toddlers, and people already make the mistake of buying parrots without realizing the care they require. Without stimulation they get bored and stressed, which leads to the bird developing bad habits like feather plucking or worse. They can literally go insane, and while "insane asylums" for birds exist, there are far too few of them. * *Thankfully it didn't happen with Rio, but that was likely because parrots tend to cost a lot of money (running from several hundred to even a few THOUSAND dollars) so people are less likely to buy them on impulse. The fact that the actual species of parrot that stars in the film, Spix's Macaw, is virtually impossible to acquire (and is known by a different name than the film's "Blue Macaw") probably also helped avert this trope.
    • Demand for guinea pigs went up significantly for about a year after G Force came out. On one hand, guinea pigs aren't especially difficult to keep compared to many other animals. On the other, they still require more care, space, and companionship than most people realize. As with many rodents, they also shouldn't be kept alone, which many people tend to neglect.

    Film - Live Action
    • Owls after Harry Potter, which do not make good pets, as J.K. Rowling herself has felt obliged to point out. This has caused a big increase in unintentional neglect of owls by owners who don't have a clue how to actually care for a predatory bird. Being loners in the wild, owls are not very friendly (usually they will only bond to one person, and will likely attack anyone else on sight), dislike being handled (as is the case with all predatory birds), and being designed for tearing up carcasses, owl beaks and talons are extremely sharp and can cause serious injuries. In addition, owls are difficult to house, as they need a very large open space to get adequate exercise, and tend to be very destructive, noisy, smelly, and dirty (they require a strict diet of whole animal carcasses, and will frequently vomit the fur and bones of their recent meals). Overall, owls are very high maintenance animals that need a lot of time, care and attention that most people would never be able to provide. This was addressed in the "Care of Magical Creatures" featurette on the DVD of the third movie, with one of the movie's animal trainers telling us:
      "A lot of people, they see the Harry Potter films and they think that these animals make great pets and they really don't. They're not domesticated; they're totally wild animals. It seems so simple when you see it in a movie and easy, but in real life it's a constant eight to twelve hour day taking care of these animals."
    In some places, fortunately, you have to have a license to have an exotic pet, and owls are thus classified - and such permits are only given to people who have been trained in their care.
    • Much to the anger of dog fanciers, who observe that a burst of demand for a specific breed leads to some breeders starting to replicate dogs who are outside of breed standards or even have genetic diseases like hip dysplasia or, notorious for Dalmatians, deafness. Also, many people who buy a dog because of a film appearance don't have any prior experience with dogs, and the breeds featured in media are not always easy and unpretentious.
      • One Hundred And One Dalmatians sparked a rise in the sales of Dalmatian puppies. The Dalmatian looks funny but is an extremely high-maintenance dog, and any child who thinks that this would be a good dog to own without the sort of dedication children are well known for being incapable of should be set straight rather than obliged in their request.
      • As the film had a sequel, so did the phenomenon: the release of One Hundred And Two Dalmatians, with a blue-eyed white puppy named Oddball, triggered a run on blue-eyed white Dalmatian puppies from parents who didn't realize that the blue-eyes gene is strongly associated with deafness. (You thought a hearing dalmatian was high maintenance? Try a deaf one...) Blue-eyed white Dalmatians (and indeed, Dalmatians in general) were bred at such a rate that puppy mills would inbreed lines with extreme prejudice if they could get away with it. They usually did, and caused enormous damage to the breed in general, with congenital defects ranging anywhere from extra dewclaws to clubbed limbs to clinical insanity.
    • Cujo caused a decline in the sales of St Bernard dogs, which later ended up fixed by the release of Beethoven anyway.
    • Marley And Me probably averted this. Marley was certainly portrayed as cute and lovable, but he wasn't really portrayed as a low maintenance/easy to train pet. The Tear Jerker ending probably had something to do with it as well. It helps that Labrador Retrievers are already the most common breed of dog in the English-speaking world (about half of all mixed-breed dogs in the US and Canada have some Lab in them), and tend to make excellent pets.
    • The Marmaduke film also averted this, as the eponymous Great Dane is portrayed as being very high-maintenance to say the least. Certain animal welfare groups were concerned about this trope, but it doesn't appear that the film has done much to increase or decrease the popularity of Danes. The utter failure of the film at the box office probably didn't hurt.
    • Snow Dogs made Huskies popular for a bit. They're wonderful dogs, but definitely not for first-time owners, as they can be quite a handful.
    • I Am Legend likely helped the popularity of German Shepherds. Many new parents will often look for dogs with great protective instincts that are great with kids, and usually German Shepherds are at the top of the list especially if the dog was raised around infants and toddlers, and has a good enough temperament to put up with the climbing and grabbing that toddlers will do to the dog.
    • Beverly Hills Chihuahua did its best to avert this with a message in the credits saying, essentially, "make sure that you really want and are prepared to care for a dog should you get one." Ostensibly, this film is immune to the effect, as it was made in response to a terrible cultural trend that was already in existence (and apparently on the decline at the time). If anything, The Simple Life and Paris Hilton are to blame for the trend that led to the film.
    • The only reason pretty much anyone outside of Africa has even heard of the Basenji is the 1950s novel and film Goodbye My Lady.
    • Most people who saw Turner And Hooch probably couldn't have named Hooch's breed to save their lives. Demand for the French mastiff didn't explode by any means, but that movie and other appearances in media have definitely invoked this trope, since it's a massive, high-maintenance dog that, as the vet herself said, "Not many people [have room for]." Or time for, or money for. And that's with the movie actually playing it fairly straight in terms of how high-maintenance Hooch was.
    • Jurassic Park Increased the demand for frilled lizards as pets, due to them looking like the portrayal of the dilophosaurus in the film.

    • The Lassie and Lad A Dog movies (as well as the Lassie TV show) spawned such a demand for Collies that pet breeders nearly managed to ruin what had been a really good breed. Even today, there are tons of badly-bred collies with poor health and the brains of an ice cube.
    • Turtles, thanks to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Many parents got them not knowing that they live for decades, which is usually longer than their kids will be interested in them, and so they have become invasive species in some places. It doesn't help that parents tend to mistakenly believe that turtles are easy to care for (often believing they just need a tank, some water to swim in, and some food now and again). In reality, many species of turtle require specialized care (especially when it comes to diet) and are not for beginning reptile owners.
      • Another negative effect caused by the TMNT pet turtle demand was that in Great Britain, the red-eared sliders were sometimes released into the wild when kids got bored with them, resulting in them becoming an invasive species.

    • Thanks to a lot of popular media making it seem as though Everythings Better With Monkeys, many people feel encouraged to seek primates out as pets, believing they'll make charming and fun companions. Unfortunately, in reality, all primates are absolutely terrible pets in just about every way possible. Housing them is extremely difficult, being very noisy, very messy, very destructive animals by nature that require specialized diets and a LOT of open space; primates are also very social animals who live in tight-knit groups in the wild, but when kept as pets are often deprived from the company of their own kind; these unnatural living conditions causes their psychological health to suffer immensely. Contrary to what movies and cartoons would have you believe, they have extremely unpredictable and often nasty temperaments; they may be cute and passive as babies, but as they mature they quickly become very unruly and aggressive, especially in such stressful, confined living conditions. They are agile and very physically strong, possessing powerful jaws with large teeth, as well as sharp fingernails that can easily cause severe, even life threatening injuries. To top it all off, they can carry a number of diseases that are both contagious and very deadly to humans. Most owners end up disposing of these animals when they prove far too difficult to manage, and sadly, genuinely good sanctuaries for unwanted apes, monkeys, and lemurs are few and far between, so many of these animals end up changing hands between incapable owners, or in shady roadside zoos, or substandard sanctuaries.

    Live Action TV
    • Because of the badass direwolves of Game Of Thrones, wolf-like breeds such as the Siberian Husky have become increasingly popular. Of course, like with any canine Red Stapler, many of these dogs wound up with owners who had neither the appropriate housing nor the necessary time and experience for keeping them.

    Web Original
    • Shiba Inus have experienced a spike in popularity thanks to Doge the Internet meme, according to the experiences of Jonathan Fleming, the photograph of the picture that would become the "hipster doge." Wow. Much boost. note 

    Western Animation
    • Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh were apparently Genre Savvy enough to be aware of this trope when they developed Phineas And Ferb, which is why they deliberately gave their protagonists a pet that was uncommon, an animal that kids could not "pick out at a pet store and beg [their parents] for." Perry is a Platypus.
  • March 7, 2016
    • When President Obama's family decided to get dogs, they bought nondescript mutts specifically to avert this trope.