Ass In A Lion Skin


(permanent link) added: 2010-01-09 13:00:54 sponsor: Tannhaeuser (last reply: 2010-01-09 13:05:21)

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"Have You Seen This Chicken?"
"And the $50,000 dollar prize for the Best Dog in Show goes to this rare Black-Feathered Quacking Retriever!"

If you are a duck on the make, or a rabbit trying to escape the hunters, or just a dog who thinks it's "cute" to wear a turkey costume (or, at least, an owner who does), you have a good chance of turning into an Ass in a Lion Skin. This involves one animal that attempts to pass as an animal of an entirely different species, not simply of a different style or level of reality -- Augie Doggie pretending to be Top Cat, but not Augie Doggie pretending to be Doggie Daddy, Scooby-Doo, Underdog, Pluto, or Rin Tin Tin. Note also that the trope specifically excludes an animal dressed as or imitating a human being (or vice versa).

Though this is mainly an Animation Trope (the Looney Tunes / Merrie Melodies series in particular were addicted to it), it also occurs in other fictional contexts. The disguise in question is usually Paper Thin, but is often remarkably successful, to the point that its removal may actually provoke a comic BSOD -- "My God! You're not a fruit bat at all! You're a killer whale!"

The Ass In The Lion Skin has a Real Life counterpart in the phenomenon of "animal mimicry," in which a harmless milk snake may resemble a deadly coral snake, but in such a case, unlike its fictional counterpart, the mimicry is permanent and (probably) unconscious.

Compare A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing. Contrast with Furry Confusion, which is about the bewilderment caused by differences in two individuals of what are supposed to be the same kind of animal; with I Am Not Weasel, the Inversion of this trope, in which the animal is taken for another species against its wishes; and with most of the entries on the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism, which are about animals acting like humans.

Rolling Updates

  • Advertising:
    • The Cadbury Chocolate commercials, featuring clucking rabbits. A later commercial featured other rabbits making other animal noises (meows, moos, roars, etc.), while a still later one featured jungle animals (elephants, lions, etc.) with rabbit ears, clucking.

  • Film:
    • An American Tail: Warren T. Rat (actually a cat himself) dresses as a rat to fool the mice into buying into his protection racket against the cats.
    • The Jungle Book: Baloo disguises himself as an ape to try to rescue Mowgli from King Louie.
    • Robin Hood: Robin (a fox) disguises himself as "the spindle-legged stork from Devonshire" and as Nutsy, the vulture.

  • Literature:
    • Aesop's Fables:
      • The Ass in the Lion Skin
      • The Crow in Peacock's Feathers.
      • The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
    • In the Discworld story The Truth, there is a reward offered for a specific dog. One of the candidates presented, along with the massive range of dogs of the wrong breed, is a parrot with "DoG" written on it.
    • The Chronicles of Narnia (The Last Battle): Puzzle the Donkey is put into a lion skin by Shift the ape (probably an allusion to the Aesop's Fable listed above).
    • How the Grinch Stole Christmas!: The Grinch dresses his dog Max as a reindeer.
    • Maus: The mice (Jews) wear pig masks to pass among the general population of pigs (Poles).

  • New Media:
    • 30-Second Bunnies Theatre, in which rabbits re-enact popular films -- thus, a film like Jurassic Park will feature a T-Rex wearing bunny ears.

  • Newspaper Comics:
    • There was a cartoon in the Wall Street Journal or similar paper during a recession, in which the boss of the New York Stock Exchange arranged to have a bear dressed as a bull so he could claim that it was a bull (i.e. rising) as opposed to a bear (falling) market.
    • The Far Side had one with a polar bear with a Paper-Thin Disguise -- a penguin's beak -- pretending to be a penguin.
    • A common gag in Peanuts involved Snoopy imitating other animals, most often a vulture.
    • This political cartoon by Thomas Nast, in a Shout-Out to Aesop, depicts The New York Herald as an ass in a lion-skin stampeding the "foolish animals" of the press, including The New York Times (unicorn), The New York Tribune (giraffe), and The New York World (owl). A skittish fox, representing the Democratic Party, has edged onto a reform plank near a gaping pit, by which the trumpeting elephant, symbolizing the Republican vote, lumbers. (This is probably one of the original sources, btw, of the depiction of the G.O.P. as an elephant; Nast also invented the Democratic donkey.)

  • Toys:
    • Purr Tenders
    • There's a range of Winnie The Pooh cuddly toys with the characters dressed as different animals -- Pooh in a bee costume and Eeyore as a butterfly, for example.

  • Western Animation:
    • ''The Little Drummer Boy: Baba the lamb pretends to be a lion, a frog, and a hog; Joshua the camel pretends to be an alligator and an elephant' Samson the donkey pretends to be a caribou.
    • Looney Tunes / Merrie Melodies:
      • "Bedevilled Rabbit": Bugs pretends to be a monkey and a Tasmanian she-devil to escape the Tasmanian Devil.
      • "Dog Pounded": Sylvester the Cat dresses in a dog suit in an attempt to cross the city dog pound and eat Tweety.
      • "Double or Mutton": Sam the sheepdog disguises himself as a sheep stolen by Ralph the wolf.
      • "Duck Soup to Nuts": Porky briefly attempts to prove to Daffy that he is an eagle.
      • "Duck! Rabbit! Duck!": Bugs pretends to be a duck; Daffy pretends (briefly) to be an elk and a fiddler crab.
      • "For Scentimental Reasons": As in a number of other Warners shorts, a black cat (later christened Penelope Pussycat) disguises herself as a skunk to frighten away her persecutors; this, of course, backfires spectacularly when it attracts Abhorrent Admirer Pepe le Pew.
      • "Rabbit Fire": Bugs pretends to be a duck; Daffy pretends to be a rabbit and a dog.
      • "Sheep in the Deep": Ralph the Wolf and Sam the Sheepdog disguise themselves as sheep and as each other.
      • "Tom Turk and Daffy": Tom dresses Daffy as a turkey to divert Porky Pig from himself.
      • "You Were Never Duckier": Daffy dresses as a chicken to win a poultry contest; Henery Hawk and his father dress as a duck and a chicken to do the same.
    • In the DePatie-Freleng Misterjaw cartoon, the eponymous shark disguises himself as a porpoise to bust into show business in the episode "Show Biz Shark."
    • In the Phineas And Ferb episode "Got Game?" Perry the Platypus dresses up as a dog (i.e., he wears an earband and fake tail) to infiltrate a pet shop where Dr. Doofenshmirtz has been shopping, and ends up being bought by the doctor, who is unaware of Perry's disguise.
    • In the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? episode "Jeepers, It's the Creeper": A baby chick is laboring under the delusion that it is a dog.
    • Tom and Jerry:
      • "Jerry's Nephew": Jerry disguises himself as a baby chick to smuggle his nephew Dinky out of a hen-house.
      • "Puttin' on the Dog": Tom disguises himself as a dog to catch Jerry in a dog pound.
    • In the Wallace & Gromit short "The Wrong Trousers'', the notorious rooster bank robber Feathers McGraw is really a penguin with a red rubber glove on his head.
    • In The Year Without a Santa Claus Vixen pretends to be a dog, even to the point of chasing a cat.

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