Created By: Heart on November 13, 2010 Last Edited By: Arivne on August 31, 2015
Troped

Expressive Ears

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

Exactly What It Says on the Tin: A character's ears are used to express their emotions.

Unlike its cousin tropes, Expressive Hair and Expressive Mask, actually leans towards being realistic because this is one way many animals in Real Life show how they're feeling. This obviously doesn't apply to human ears, though, so it's guaranteed all of the characters who use this trope are Not Quite Human.

Compare Unusual Ears.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Many Pokémon including Pikachu and Meowth
  • Expressive ears were found on Deedlit in Record of Lodoss War. Being one of those foot-long eared elf varieties helped.
  • Utawarerumono, (the people also have expressive tails).

Comics

Film
  • Na'vi in Avatar is another example.
  • * In Godzilla VS Mechagodzilla and Godzilla: Final Wars, King Seesar's ears would perk-up whenever he was excited or surprised.
  • The Empire Strikes Back. When Luke manages to lift the X-Wing fighter partially out of the swamp Yoda's ears rise slightly in awe. When Luke fails to lift it all the way out Yoda's ears droop down.

Literature

Live-Action TV
  • Star Trek parodies and spoofs often give this attribute to Spock:
This advert for lager, for example

Newspaper Comics
  • Garfield will sometimes lay his ears back when he's angry or frightened.

Tabletop Games
  • The Traveller Adventure. Vargr (bipedal wolf) characters were shown as having Expressive Ears, including flattening the ears against the skull when afraid.

Video Games
  • Blood Elfs in World of Warcraft do this with the emote system: if they're sad or scared their ears will droop, and when they cast spells in general their ears wiggle along with the casting animation.

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation
  • Orko from He Man has been shown to have his ears droop down when sad.
  • Toothless in the film of How to Train Your Dragon has ear-like projections that serve the same function.
  • The ponies of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic have these.

Community Feedback Replies: 39
  • November 13, 2010
    rodneyAnonymous
    Image should make sense without words. (With them, for that matter, but hey :) Are those sex grunts? Uh...)
  • November 14, 2010
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • The Traveller Adventure. Vargr (bipedal wolf) characters were shown as having Expressive Ears, including flattening the ears against the skull when afraid.
  • November 14, 2010
    fawn

  • November 14, 2010
    GKaiser
    Blood Elfs in World Of Warcraft do this with the emote system: if they're sad or scared their ears will droop, and when they cast spells in general their ears wiggle along with the casting animation.
  • November 14, 2010
    CrypticMirror
    Star Trek parodies and spoofs often give this attribute to Spock: This advert for lager, for example
  • November 14, 2010
    TonyG
    There was already a YKTTW for this here.
  • November 14, 2010
    Heart
    Oh well, mine's better.
  • November 14, 2010
    Darthcaliber
    Orko from He-Man has been shown to have his ears droop down when sad
  • November 14, 2010
    rodneyAnonymous
    Rephrase: that image is terrible.

    It is also poorly-drawn (is that character missing her left leg at the knee?), poorly-written ("forget it bitch"?), and in poor taste ("harder beybe"?). Heehee.
  • November 14, 2010
    Heart
    It demonstrates the subject
  • November 14, 2010
    Tropalicious
    Na'vi in 'Avatar' is another example.
  • November 15, 2010
    mmysqueeant
    It demonstrates the subject, sure, barely. I think this image needs to be ideally an exaggerated version of the trope for it to be clear, and also cropped in more to focus on the ears.

    I have no real objections to the overall low quality of the image, though. That's fine. But there are much more illustrative examples out there.
  • November 15, 2010
    rodneyAnonymous
    "It demonstrates the subject."

    Oh okay perfect, that is totally relevant to my objection and the only criterion for whether an image is good.
  • November 15, 2010
    Generality
  • November 19, 2010
    CrypticMirror
  • November 19, 2010
    JohnDiFool
    Kill Wolfhead in The Incal series.
  • November 19, 2010
    mmysqueeant
    "Wuhtuhfuh!? He's still mine! Forget bitch!" makes me laugh just so hard. I'm almost leaning towards keep the image, it's classic Deviant Art.
  • November 19, 2010
    ZombieAladdin
    In the Pokémon anime, any time Ash's Pikachu (or any Pikachu, for that matter) feels sad, his ears droop downwards.
  • November 20, 2010
    Arivne
    Newspaper Comics
    • Garfield will sometimes lay his ears back when he's angry or frightened.
  • November 20, 2010
    satannstuff
    You can actually move your ears, but you have to conciously try to do so. You can only wiggle them a bit though. ( Wiggling your ears requires the use of some muscles humans normally don't learn to use, they're the same ones elephants use to flap their ears. )
  • November 20, 2010
    Speedball
    Expressive ears were found on Deedlit in "Record of Lodoss War." Being one of those foot-long eared elf varieties helped.
  • November 26, 2010
    solfieri
    I vote against the header image too. If it's such a common thing in media, it should never be that hard to find an image straight from the examples.

    However, if there's absolutely no other option and there is no problem with posting sketchy images from Deviant ART... then I think this one shows better: http://mila-valentine.deviantart.com/gallery/8324278#/d1ekj2v
  • November 26, 2010
    LeeM
    Toothless in the film of How To Train Your Dragon has ear-like projections that serve the same function.
  • November 26, 2010
    Weaver
    Real life example: Border Collies. All dogs have expressive ears to some extent but Collies are better at it then most.
  • November 26, 2010
    Generality
    If you launch with that picture, I promise someone will remove it quickly. It bears poorly on the trope.
  • November 26, 2010
    Evalana
    The ponies of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic have these.
  • November 26, 2010
    valbinooo
    Also Real Life: Cats will do this, too. So do horses, to some degree.
  • November 29, 2010
    zanedesantis
    Absolutely any Furry Comic has this. The author of Gene Catlow even admited that he liked to draw furries because it's easier to draw their expressions when using things like tails and ears.
  • November 29, 2010
    0dd1
    In Precocious, Autumn Pingo's ears are referred to (memetically, by fans in the comments) as "mood ears."
  • November 30, 2010
    peccantis
    I suppose there are better images with clearer illustration of the idea of Expressive Ears. Can try and find some if given directions on what is allowed.
  • November 30, 2010
    baronobeefdip
    • In Godzilla VS Mechagodzilla and Godzilla: Final Wars, King Seesar's ears would perk-up whenever he was excited or surprised.
  • November 30, 2010
    Arivne
    Film
    • The Empire Strikes Back. When Luke manages to lift the X-Wing fighter partially out of the swamp Yoda's ears rise slightly in awe. When Luke fails to lift it all the way out Yoda's ears droop down.
  • November 30, 2010
    peccantis
    Kemonomimi characters, weirdly enough, mostly subvert this, and characters with animal ears are stuck in a perpetual "content and alert" expression even when their human face speaks of extreme emotions.
  • November 30, 2010
    leechee
    Frequent for any long eared characters appearing in Awkward Zombie
  • November 30, 2010
    Generality
    ^^ This is because ears are hard to animate, especially on a human head.
    • Utawarerumono plays it straight, though. (the people also have expressive tails)
  • December 1, 2010
    SalFishFin
    Seriously, new image. Panel 2 and three should be good.
  • December 1, 2010
    LadyShadowflame
    Yeah, the Gunnerkrigg panels work well for this.
  • December 2, 2010
    Arivne
    Anime And Manga
    • Pokemon anime. Pikachu has been known to do this (ears up when happy, down when sad).
  • December 7, 2010
    CrypticMirror

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=cv3nxldwrgrhhj5jiryuglhl