Created By: MrInitialManOctober 24, 2011 Last Edited By: EdnaWalkerJuly 16, 2013
Troped

Human Furniture Is A Pain In The Tail

Human Furniture Is A Pain In The Tail

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Trope
People Sit In Chairs--except when those chairs are really uncomfortable.

This is when one species has trouble with furniture made for another species due to differences in anatomy or culture. A common example would be a Winged Humanoid or Lizard Folk (with their thick inflexible tails) having trouble sitting properly in chairs built for human use--or, for that matter, vice versa!

A sister trope to Operator Incompatibility.

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Centaur No Nayami: While adverted for humans as of yet the many fantasy races of the series have many diffrent ergonomic needs being met by thorough World Building.

Fan Works
  • D Taina did a fan comic illustrating the problems Gargoyles might have with chairs.

Film
  • There's an examples of humans running into this in Forbidden Planet, where Morbius and the captain have difficulty with devices designed for the Krell, the aliens who once lived on the planet.
  • In Return Of The Jedi, Chewbacca growls at the seats in the Imperial shuttle, and Han responds, "I don't think the Empire had wookies in mind when they designed her, Chewie."
  • The seat in the space ship in "Flight Of The Navigator'' originally didn't fit the young male protagonist, and the ship had to make adjustments.
  • In Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country, an Enterprise crewmember is suspected of murdering Klingon Chancellor Gorkon because of gravity boots found in his locker... and then immediately cleared, because the boots are designed for human feet and his feet are short, webbed, and nearly circular in shape.
  • In both Attack Of The Clones and Revenge Of The Sith, Yoda is depicted as having a visibly smaller lightsaber handle than Jedi who are of more human proportions.

Literature
  • In Rogue Squadron, the first book of the X Wing Series, Wedge becomes apprehensive when he learns that his Verpine crew chief has "tinkered" with his brand new starfighter, as he remembers horror stories from other human pilots of ships optimized for Verpine ergonomics. His X-Wing turns out to be fine, however.
    • The novel series as a whole tends to Hand Wave how Twi'lek and other nonhuman pilots can fit their appendages inside flight helmets. It's averted in the comics, however, where nonhumans are depicted as having helmets with the proper ergonomics for their species.
  • The Lizards in World War have trouble sitting on human chairs that don't accommodate their tails.
  • Invoked in the last book of the Mage Storms trilogy: two characters realize an ancient desk was used by a hertasi (a lizard-like creature) because the stool next to it was backless and had a cutout to accommodate a tail.
  • In the Garrett PI series, Garrett has a special chair made for his ratgirl apprentice, Pular Singe, who has a long tail.
  • In Chorus Skating, the turtle wizard Clothahump uses a chair with a deeply-concave back, built to fit neatly around his shell.
  • At one point in the Animorphs series the heroes steal a Yeerk fighter with the intent of blowing the invasion's cover by landing it in Washington, D.C. The Token Nonhuman Ax mans the gunner's "chair", which is actually more of a long stool since it's built for the centipede-like Taxxons. It fits Ax better than normal chairs since his species, the Andalites, are basically centaurs.
    • Andalite ships in the Animorphs series are very uncomfortable for human passengers due to their lack of seating at all.
  • Dinotopia has pictures of furniture built for dinosaurs. Apart from sometimes being much bigger than human furniture, it tends to take the form of cushioned benches to support the dinosaur's midsection rather than chairs.
  • In the Heechee Saga; the chairs on the Heechee ships abandoned at Gateway asteroid all have V-shaped seats which are incredibly uncomfortable. Until humanity finally manages to meet the Heechee (halfway through the series), speculation runs rampant as to what Heechee hindquarters actually look like.
  • Thranx, an insectoid race from the Humanx Commonwealth Verse, use form-fitted couches they can rest their thorax and abdomen on.
  • Sholan Alliance features an inversion. Sholans often use bowl shaped chairs which Carrie finds slightly difficult to use due to her smaller size. Also, later in the series, a visit to a popular restaurant involves a small stack of cushions.

Live Action Television
  • Babylon Five has an example where humans run into this trope, when Sheridan and Ivanova try to sleep on a tilted Minbari bed.

Newspaper Comics
  • in one Far Side strip: two stegosaurs are leaving another dinosaur couple, the (giant but recognizeably designed-for-humans) chair cushions still embedded on their back plates and spikes, with the wife telling her husband that's the last time said couple visits.

Tabletop Games
  • Inverted and played seriously in Earthdawn - the blood elves have thorns growing from all over their bodies - all the things they manufacture are enchanted to adapt, opening and closing holes as needed, but foreign furniture... suffers
  • Marc Miller's Traveller supplement Aliens Archive. The following alien species were specfically noted as having problems with human furniture due to their anatomies: Asym, Controlled, Denaar, Hana Saka, Newts and Tekundu (when engorged after drinking lots of water).

Web Comic
  • After Alexis has become a drider in Spinnerette, she complains about human-sized doors
  • In El Goonish Shive Grace had to use a car in her three-tailed form. She tried various ways of fitting into the seat until ended up "sitting" upside down, then gave up and chose to use the back seat.
    • Another example shows Ellen learned something from her "Second Life":
      Ellen: Alternate me worked in a clothing store. That's demanding enough without people with tails and extra arms.
  • DMFA has centaur-like Matilda living in a town populated mostly by bipeds. How she sits comfortably when she goes out isn't addressed, but we do see that she has a huge bed-sized couch here.

Western Animation
  • The chairs in the titular train of Dinosaur Train don't accommodate the dinosaur's tails, but the issue is never touched upon.
  • In Futurama, a family of newly-arrived alien immigrants sets up a pizza parlor near Planet Express. The mother expresses concern about the U-shaped chairs they're using, since she heard that human knees bend down instead of up. The father assures her that if anyone complains, he can bend their legs the other way for free.
  • Averted in Monsters Inc: Sulley's chair has a hole in the back of it to fit his tail.

Real Life
  • Joseph "The Elephant Man" Merrick had an armchair built for his unique body shape.


Community Feedback Replies: 88
  • October 24, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    Inverted and played seriously in Earthdown - the blood elves have thorns growing from all over their bodies - all the things they manufacture are enchanted to adapt, opening and closing holes as needed, but foreign furniture... suffers.
  • October 24, 2011
    nman
    • The Lizards in World War have trouble sitting on human chairs that don't accommodate their tails.
  • October 26, 2011
    Antigone3
    In the last book of the Mage Storms trilogy, two characters realize a desk was used by a hertasi because the stool next to it was backless and had a cutout to accommodate a tail.
  • October 27, 2011
    Unknown Troper
    The phrase "human furniture" could imply humans who are made into furniture somehow. Suggest changing it to "furniture made for humans".
  • October 27, 2011
    MrInitialMan
    Well, that would sound just awkward.
  • October 28, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    After Alexis has become a drider in Spinnerette, she complains about human-sized doors.
  • October 28, 2011
    Hadashi
    Ignore the pedants, I think the current title works fine.
  • October 28, 2011
    TBeholder
    Call it "Human Chairs..." then (closer to the whole point of this name)
  • October 28, 2011
    Karalora
  • October 28, 2011
    DragonQuestZ
    Why limit this to furniture? It seems to be lampshading anything made for humans when funny animals try it.
  • October 28, 2011
    LeeM
    ^^OK, how about "Human-made Furniture"? Or ^ more broadly, Human Environments Are A Pain In The Tail?
  • October 28, 2011
    Stratadrake
  • November 4, 2011
    SharleeD
    • In the Garrett PI series, Garrett has a special chair made for his ratgirl apprentice, Pular Singe, who has a long tail.
  • November 5, 2011
    Stratadrake
    @Kara: Egad, snowcloning "People Sit On Chairs" should be a bannable offense.
  • November 6, 2011
    MorganWick
  • November 6, 2011
    EdnaWalker
    • The chairs in the titular train of Dinosaur Train don't accomodate the dinosaur's tails, but the issue is never touched upon.
  • November 6, 2011
    Routerie
  • November 28, 2011
    Stratadrake
    ^ Ban bait. (yes, the "ban" part is just joking, but seriously.)
  • January 19, 2012
    TBeholder
    • In El Goonish Shive Grace had to use a car in her three-tailed form. She tried various ways of fitting into the seat until ended up "sitting" upside down, then gave up and chose to use the back seat.
  • January 19, 2012
    chicagomel
    There's an inversion of sorts in Forbidden Planet, where Morbius and the captain have difficulty with devices designed for the Krell, the aliens who once lived on the planet. Not sure if that counts or not.
  • January 19, 2012
    SharleeD
    ^ A similar inversion in Babylon Five, when Sheridan tries to sleep on a tilted Minbari bed.
  • January 19, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ^ You mean Ivanova, and it was hilarious. However, this is about difficulties caused by a species's anatomical differences, not cultural ones.
  • January 20, 2012
    TBeholder
    IMO, close: even if it's ingrained habits instead of anatomy, still incompatibly alien ergonomics.
  • January 20, 2012
    Medinoc
    Incompatibly Alien Ergonomics does sound like a good name, by the way.
  • February 2, 2012
    TBeholder
    So, Alien Ergonomics with Human Chairs Are Pain In Tails as a redirect and an internal (for now, anyway) subtrope?
  • February 2, 2012
    mspears
    ^ Stratadrake: Actually, both Ivanova and Sheridan had trouble sleeping on a Minbari bed... at first. Later (and this was definitely Played For Laughs), Sheridan had trouble sleeping on a flat human bed and Delenn either couldn't (or just stopped) sleeping on a Minbari bed.
  • February 3, 2012
    Chabal2
    Invoked? in one Far Side strip: two stegosaurs are leaving another dinosaur couple, the (giant but recognizeably designed-for-humans) chair cushions still embedded on their back plates and spikes, with the wife telling her husband that's the last time said couple visits.
  • February 6, 2012
    SharleeD
    In Chorus Skating, the turtle wizard Clothahump uses a chair with a deeply-concave back, built to fit neatly around his shell.
  • February 7, 2012
    Stratadrake
  • February 18, 2012
    TBeholder
    Not Made For Your Species?
  • February 20, 2012
    Topazan
    • In Futurama, a family of newly-arrived alien immigrants sets up a pizza parlor near Planet Express. The mother expresses concern about the U-shaped chairs they're using, since she heard that human knees bend down instead of up. The father assures her that if anyone complains, he can bend their legs the other way for free.
  • March 26, 2012
    TBeholder
  • March 26, 2012
    JonnyB
    • In Return Of The Jedi, Chewbacca growls at the seats in the Imperial shuttle, and Han responds, "I don't think the Empire had wookies in mind when they designed her, Chewie."
    • There's an old Western saying, "I'm as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs." Not sure if it counts...
      • The saying was invoked in an episode of Sliders when they visited a Wild West dimension populated by Cromags.
  • March 26, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ^ The saying itself isn't an example, just a metaphor for anxiety.
  • March 26, 2012
    JonnyB
    IIRC, the seat in the space ship in "Flight Of The Navigator'' originally didn't fit the boy, and the ship had to make adjustments.
  • June 11, 2012
    MrInitialMan
    Any other title ideas?
  • September 5, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    This trope occurs a lot with reptiles as many of them have long, thick tails that many chairs and sofas don't accommodate.
  • October 18, 2012
    TBeholder
  • October 18, 2012
    McKathlin
    DMFA has centaur-like Matilda living in a town populated mostly by bipeds. How she sits comfortably when she goes out isn't addressed, but we do see that she has a huge bed-sized couch here.
  • November 1, 2012
    EdnaWalker
  • November 24, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • November 24, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    It has been a while and someone should nab it.
  • November 24, 2012
    elwoz
    Typo patrol: "Earthdown" should be Earthdawn.
  • November 24, 2012
    StarSword
    I like Uncomfortable Alien Ergonomics for the title.

    Literature
    • At one point in the Animorphs series the heroes steal a Yeerk fighter with the intent of blowing the invasion's cover by landing it in Washington, D.C. The Token Nonhuman Ax mans the gunner's "chair", which is actually more of a long stool since it's built for the centipede-like Taxxons. It fits Ax better than normal chairs since his species, the Andalites, are basically centaurs.
    • Dinotopia has pictures of furniture built for dinosaurs. Apart from sometimes being much bigger than human furniture, it tends to take the form of cushioned benches to support the dinosaur's midsection rather than chairs.
  • December 3, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • December 7, 2012
    Xtifr
    We really do need to sort out exactly what this is. I'm sure there's a trope here, but the current definition seems too limited.

    • Inverted in the Heechee Saga; the chairs on the Heechee ships abandoned at Gateway asteroid all have V-shaped seats which are incredibly uncomfortable. Until humanity finally manages to meet the Heechee (halfway through the series), speculation runs rampant as to what Heechee hindquarters actually look like.
  • December 12, 2012
    MrInitialMan
    Basically, furniture designed for one species is uncomfortable for another due to physiology.
  • December 12, 2012
    shimaspawn
  • December 12, 2012
    Stratadrake
  • December 13, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ^ Tech tip: Spaces in a URL confuses the TV Tropes link parser. If the URL absolutely requires it, replace the space with its url-encoding (%20).

    ^ Second tech tip: It's easier to get deviantART page URL's if you open the link in a new browser tab and copy the URL from there.
  • December 28, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    In the Dinosaur Train example, the dinosaurs' tails are either rendered as wrapped around the left or right of their bodies or not rendered in at all when they are sitting on the seats in the train cars. The former tail rendering would be possible for most species of mammals in Real Life as their tails are thin and flexible, but not dinosaurs in Real Life as their tails are thick and often stiff. The latter tail rendering is the Type 2 variant of the Inexplicably Tailless trope.
  • January 14, 2013
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • January 19, 2013
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • March 13, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Marc Miller's Traveller supplement Aliens Archive. The following alien species were specfically noted as having problems with human furniture due to their anatomies: Asym, Controlled, Denaar, Hana Saka, Newts and Tekundu (when engorged after drinking lots of water).
  • March 13, 2013
    IsaacSapphire
    In a series with Winged Humanoids, I've seen special chairs mentioned. Would that count for this trope?
  • March 16, 2013
    MrInitialMan
    Actually, yes it would.
  • March 16, 2013
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
    Ergonomics Is A Pain In The Tail? I also Like Xeno Ergonomics.

    Would anyone mind if I add examples and update the discription?

    ...Bizarre Incompatible Ergonomics?
  • March 16, 2013
    EdnaWalker
    ^I don't mind.

    Also, do you think that the Dinosaur Train example fits this trope?
  • March 16, 2013
    moriwen
    Sharon Shinn's books mention that angels can't use human chairs because of their wings, and need backless stools instead.
  • March 16, 2013
    Stratadrake
    ^^ I don't think so.
  • March 17, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In the children's book Black and Blue Magic Harry Marco is given a potion which causes him to sprout wings (not permanantly). He quickly discovers that chairs, beds, etc. are not designed for the bewinged.
  • March 18, 2013
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
    not sure about Dinosaur Train as I haven't seen it myself but I guess it depends on the conspicuousness of the transition between sitting and not.
  • March 19, 2013
    SharleeD
    • Thranx, an insectoid race from the Humanx Commonwealth Verse, use form-fitted couches they can rest their thorax and abdomen on.
  • April 3, 2013
    MrInitialMan
    I think, with the current name, we can say that humans finding the furniture of non-humans uncomfy is playing this trope straight, rather than being an inversion.

    The actual inversion, then, is when the furniture suffers.
  • April 3, 2013
    StarSword
    Sister trope to Operator Incompatibility.
  • April 3, 2013
    EdnaWalker
    Averted in Monsters Inc: Sulley's chain has a hole in the back of it to fit his tail.
  • April 11, 2013
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • April 11, 2013
    Roketto
    In many fanfictions, aliens or other characters turn human chairs sideways in order to accommodate tails.

    I suggest the name Xenoergonomic Furniture Dilemma.
  • April 15, 2013
    TomWalpertac2
    • Sholan Alliance features an inversion. Sholans often use bowl shaped chairs which Carrie finds slightly difficult to use due to her smaller size. Also, later in the series, a visit to a popular restaurant involves a small stack of cushions.
  • April 15, 2013
    AmyGdala
    I'm normally pretty anti-fun, but this title is just so clinical. Any one prefer Human Furniture Is A Pain In The Tail?
  • April 15, 2013
    StarSword
    Two of us liked Uncomfortable Alien Ergonomics further up the page, but HFIAPITT isn't bad. Bit of a mouthful, though.
  • April 16, 2013
    Arivne
  • April 16, 2013
    GKaiser
  • April 25, 2013
    EdnaWalker
  • April 25, 2013
    AmyGdala
    If we must be more concise, we could try Human Chairs Are A Pain In The Tail or Human Seats Are A Pain In The Tail.
  • April 25, 2013
    GilvaLepista
    I like Human Chairs are a Pain in the Tail. Even though the trope does include beds, doors, etc., most examples do seem to be chair-related, and it's a bit more concise.

    However, I'd motion to use Furgonomics, (see Stratadrake's post). I have never heard that term before, but immediately knew what it meant.
  • June 3, 2013
    EdnaWalker
    Bump? Can aversions and subversions like the Monsters Inc example be listed in this trope?
  • June 15, 2013
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • June 17, 2013
    IsaacSapphire
    The example I mentioned earlier with special chairs for Winged Humanoids was the Black Jewels series.
  • June 18, 2013
    ArcadesSabboth
  • June 18, 2013
    Larkmarn
    • Andalite ships in the Animorphs series are very uncomfortable for human passengers due to their lack of seating at all. Andalites are effectively centaurs, and as such don't sit down to pilot.
  • June 29, 2013
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • June 29, 2013
    GuyIncog
    Is this necessarily limited to furniture? I can think of a couple non-furniture examples:

    Film
    • In Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country, an Enterprise crewmember is suspected of murdering Klingon Chancellor Gorkon because of gravity boots found in his locker... and then immediately cleared, because the boots are designed for human feet and his feet are short, webbed, and nearly circular in shape.
    • In both Attack Of The Clones and Revenge Of The Sith, Yoda is depicted as having a visibly smaller lightsaber handle than Jedi who are of more human proportions.

    Literature
    • In Rogue Squadron, the first book of the X Wing Series, Wedge becomes apprehensive when he learns that his Verpine crew chief has "tinkered" with his brand new starfighter, as he remembers horror stories from other human pilots of ships optimized for Verpine ergonomics. His X-Wing turns out to be fine, however.
      • The novel series as a whole tends to Hand Wave how Twi'lek and other nonhuman pilots can fit their appendages inside flight helmets. It's averted in the comics, however, where nonhumans are depicted as having helmets with the proper ergonomics for their species.

    I seem to remember other examples - humans not being able to use nonhuman weapons or vice versa, in particular - but I can't remember any specifics right now.
  • July 15, 2013
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • July 16, 2013
    randomsurfer
    removed the Black and Blue Magic example I supplied earlier. Having recently reread it, I discovered I misremembered the scene involved.
  • July 16, 2013
    Antigone3
    I pulled some more examples into the main post. I think all this is waiting for is a better name -- while Interspecies Ergonomic Incompatibility certainly describes the trope well, it's typo bait. Either Xeno Ergonomics or Furgonomics sound good to me.
  • July 16, 2013
    robinjohnson
    Human Furniture Is A Pain In The Tail is *so* much better than Interspecies Ergonomic Incompatibility. The former is plain English and witty. The latter is just.. ugh.
  • July 16, 2013
    EdnaWalker

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable