"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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.