Created By: EdnaWalkerJune 12, 2011 Last Edited By: EdnaWalkerSeptember 16, 2012
Troped

Buffoonish Tomcat

A male cat is more likely to be portrayed as foolish or incompetent than elegant or refined.

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Rolling Updates. Needs A Better Description.

Felines are typically associated with feminity, coolness, elegance, dignity, and grace, but a lot of male cartoon cats who are clownish or buffoonish instead. This trope is based on the fact that tomcats in cartoons are more often portrayed as tough, cool, streetwise, belligerent, buffoonish, and/or oversexed than elegant, graceful, or dignified.

Sometimes this trope is used because in order to root for a cat in a show with talking mice, they have to be less of a predator than the other cats. So it's really a case of Designated Villain/Defector From Decadence.

There was a period in animation history when cats were the generic fallguy animal and bad guy in cartoons but its starting to become a Deadhorse Trope.

These cats are often drawn with big, bulbous, clownlike noses that are often red in color.

This trope can apply to any species of cat, including tigers, lions, and housecats.

Contrast Cool Cat and Cats Are Superior. Related to Men Are Generic Women Are Special, Closer To Earth, and Men Are Uncultured.


Examples:

Film
  • Gideon from Pinocchio is a mute character similar to Dopey of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs fame. His idea to Honest John's hat off his face is to hit him with a mallet.
  • In An American Tail, the male cats all fit Cats Are Mean except for Tiger, who is a Cloud Cuckoolander Minion With An F In Evil and Cowardly Lion played by the now late Dom [DeLuise].
  • Nuka from The Lion King: Simba's Pride. He sets the grass on fire with a burning stick, but he sets the grass surrounding him on fire.
  • Averted for the most part in The Aristocats, in which O'Malley is just as sophisticated a hispster as Duchess is a well-bred, society cat. They get together and make jazz .
    • Played straighter when O'Malley bravely dives into the water to save Marie. It backfires when he himself can't swim back to shore and has to be rescued by two geese. Or, alternatively, from said geese.
  • Rare female example: Ratigan's pet cat of The Great Mouse Detective is female and used as something of a personal executer, but due to her pudginess and slapstick depiction comes off as a gender swap of this, especially in her bout with Toby.

Literature
  • In Warrior Cats, both averted and used... male Clan cats are more normal, but male kittypets tend to be a lot more goofy and friendly.

Live Action
  • Cat from Red Dwarf is an extremely vain and irresponsible humanoid who evolved from a cat.

Newspaper Comics
  • Although usually a Deadpan Snarker, Garfield has his moments.
    • Whenever Garfield is actually courting a female -- usually Arlene -- he seems to lose half his IQ. Basically, his "moments" are also the only moments in which he's written specifically as a tomcat rather than a generic feline.
  • Bucky Katt of Get Fuzzy is a truly epic example, and virtually none of the cats in the strip come off well. In contrast, dogs seem to have a range of intelligence in the strip.
  • Krazy Kat is either a straight example or a rare female example as his/her gender is ambiguous.
  • Bill the Cat from Bloom County is The Unintelligible at best.

Video Games

Western Animation
  • Tom from Tom And Jerry is sometimes this
  • Sylvester from Looney Tunes fits this trope to a T.
    • Sylvester has been used in cartoons where he's not chasing prey -- there's a well-known one where he's trapped with Porky Pig in an abandoned hotel full of murderous mice, and they're the aggressors from start to finish -- and he's still portrayed as a buffoon.
    • Minor Looney Tunes character Claude Cat, who was usually persecuted more than persecuting, was played as an inept, anxiety-ridden loser.
    • A "big cat" example: Pete Puma. He asked Bugs Bunny if he could have two lumps in his tea, but Bugs gives him two lumps on his head.
    • The two cats in Bob Clampett's last Tweety cartoon, "Gruesome Twosome". One is dopey; the other is a moderately brighter fellow complete with Jimmy Durante voice and schnoz. Babbott and Catstello (especially Catstello), the antagonists from Tweety's 1942 debut, also fit this trope.
    • Many male cats are portrayed this way, including Catstello from the first Tweety cartoon, the lion from "Roman Legion Hare," Conrad Cat from "Conrad the Sailor," and Benny.
    • In the Looney Tunes cartoon starring Elmer Fudd and Sylvester, there was even a rare buffoonish female cat.
    • Penelope Pussycat zigzags as being a rare female version, she's not buffoonish in general, but upon catching Pepe Le Pew's sight, she's reduced to a state of panic and often ends up falling into slapstick in her franticness.
  • Riff Raff from Heathcliff And The Catillac Cats
  • Katnip of Herman And Katnip.
  • Scratchy is this, being as he's a Katnip Expy.
  • Stimpy from Ren And Stimpy is dumb and buffoonish as an inversion of Cats Are Mean and Dogs Are Dumb.
  • Averted with Top Cat and his gang in general, but the ironically named Brain fits this trope to a T.
  • Mr. Jinks of the Pixie and Dixie cartoons.
  • Snagglepuss, another "big cat", is both an aversion and an example.
  • Louie the mountain lion from the Classic Disney Shorts and House Of Mouse
  • Klondike Kat from his segment of the Underdog show is pretty buffoonish as well.
  • Furrball in Tiny Toon Adventures is this sometimes. Example: a mishap with malfunctioning 3-D glasses and glue results in a What A Drag situation when he tries to remove them.

Community Feedback Replies: 49
  • June 12, 2011
    CaveCat
  • June 13, 2011
    TonyG
  • June 13, 2011
    randomsurfer
  • June 14, 2011
    HaggisMcCrablice
    I'm not sure that Tom from the Tom and Jerry really counts, because the reason that he is potrayed as such is not because he is a cat but because he a predator trying to eat the main character. Consider how the Coyote in the Roadrunner is depicted.
    • Yes, but Tom, like most male cats, also fancies himself a ladies' man, and this gets him into trouble with girl cats. Esp. when there's a big angry dog in the yard.

    Also, Heathcliff is not depicted as a buffoon, so I would suggest that any depiction of Riff Raff as being a buffoon is about Riff Raff being a buffoon, not about Tom Cats being buffoons.
  • June 14, 2011
    randomsurfer
    The title doesn't say All Tomcats are Buffoons. It would seem to me that a buffoon tomcat would fit this trope, even if he doesn't live in A World Of Buffoonish Tomcats.
  • June 14, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    So, if a work is not presenting a tom cat as a buffoon because he is a tom cat, but there just a tom cat that happens to be a buffoon, how is this a trope?
  • June 14, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    Road Runner Vs Coyote covers Tom and Sylvester.
  • June 14, 2011
    TonyG
    ^Road Runner Vs Coyote is not about a character being a buffoon, it's about one character trying to catch another and failing. Although the chaser can be a buffoon, it is not the point of the trope.
  • June 14, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    But the point I'm trying to make is that Tom and Sylvester are not buffoons because they are tomcats, but because they are fulfilling the Road Runner part of Road Runner VS Coyote.
  • June 19, 2011
    JonnyB
    Top Cat would be an aversion.
  • June 20, 2011
    OmarKarindu
    • Bucky Katt of Get Fuzzy is a truly epic example, and virtually none of the cats in the strip come off well. In contrast, dogs seem to have a range of intelligence in the strip.
    • Minor Looney Tunes character Claude Cat, who was usually persecuted more than persecuting, was played as an inept, anxiety-ridden loser.

    Sylvester has been used in cartoons where he's not chasing prey -- there's a well-known one where he's trapped with Porky Pig in an abandoned hotel full of murderous mice, and they're the aggressors from start to finish -- and he's still portrayed as a buffoon.

    Whenever Garfield is actually courting a female -- usually Arlene -- he seems to lose half his IQ. Basically, his "moments" are also the only moments in which he's written specifically as a tomcat rather than a generic feline.

  • June 21, 2011
    JonnyB
    Mr. Jinks of the Pixie and Dixie cartoons.

    A "big cat" example: Paul Puma.

    Snagglepuss, another "big cat", is usually an aversion.
  • June 21, 2011
    JonnyB
    My bad, it was Pete Puma, lol.
  • July 1, 2011
    crazysamaritan
    So, the laconic is Work where a cat is portrayed as a foolish or incompetent because he is male.
  • July 11, 2011
    hcobb
    Red Dwarf nuff said.
  • July 13, 2011
    Bailey
    I believe Auxdarastrix is correct here.

    Males being portrayed as foolish or incompetent because they're male is a trope, but not cat-specific. Cartoon characters in general are often buffoonish or clownish, but that's not cat-specific either.

    Tomcats being portrayed as tough or streetwise is an aspect of Cool Cat and has little to do with being buffoonish, as far as I can tell.

    Tom, Sylvester, Scratchy, Mr. Jinks, and Katnip are not incompetent because they're male; they're incompetent because they're cartoon predators in a format that's about rooting for the little guy and male by default, both of which have their own tropes.

  • August 15, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    By any species do you mean like tigers and lions, or any breed of domestic cats?
  • August 19, 2011
    Monsund
    Actually Bailey I wouldn't count Scratchy as a cartoon predator. Both Itchy and Scratchy are Funny Animals and start out the cartoon as friends before Itchy decides to kill Scratchy For The Evulz.

    There was a period when cats where the generic fallguy animal and badguy in cartoons but its becoming a Deadhorse Trope.
  • September 1, 2011
    Lyendith
    • In the manga Fairy Tail, Happy looks pretty clumsy and incompetent compared to the female cat who appears later. He also has round, idiot-looking eyes while she has Tsurime Eyes.
  • September 8, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    film: Western Animation:

    But it's another case of in order to root for a cat in a show with talking mice, they have to be less of a predator than the other cats. So it's really a case of Designated Villain + Defector From Decadence.
  • September 12, 2011
    Hadashi
    I think this should be a subtrope of a more general anti-male Unfortunate Implications-laiden trope.
  • September 12, 2011
    EdnaWalker
    Is there a general anti-male trope that I can fit this YKTTW description in as a subtrope?
  • September 13, 2011
    Arivne
    ^ I seem to recall a YKTTW about how in commercials and sitcoms, if character is stupid or has to have things explained to them it's always a man, because if it was a woman it would be sexist.

    Related to Closer To Earth, which is about women being depicted as more rational and sensible than men.
  • September 27, 2011
    TyeDyeWildebeest
    Would Tigger from Winnie The Pooh be considered an example?
  • September 27, 2011
    lebrel
    ^^^ I think the main trope at work here is Men Are Generic Women Are Special, but there might be a side-order of Men Are Uncultured
  • October 30, 2011
    crazysamaritan
    ^ I think you're right.
  • October 30, 2011
    darkclaw
    There's Closer To Earth, but that's all I can think of.
  • December 9, 2011
    crazysamaritan
    I really don't think this is splittable from Men Are Generic Women Are Special.
  • February 13, 2012
    pawsplay
    Averted in The Aristocats, in which O'Malley is just as sophisticated a hispster as Duchess is a society cat. They get together and make jazz.
  • February 13, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    O'Malley bravely dives into the water to save Marie, but it backfires when he himself can't swim back to shore and has to be rescued by two geese. Or, alternatively, from said geese.

    Sarcasm mode: yeah, real smooth.
  • February 13, 2012
    pawsplay
    Averted in The Aristocats. O'Malley is a slick hipster, a perfect match for well-bred Duchess.
  • February 13, 2012
    pawsplay
    I've tried to reply a couple of times, but my post hasn't shown up. I do see an almost unreadable post right above me by the OP. Anyway, my nomination is

    Western Animation: Averted by O'Malley the alley-cat in The Aristocats.
  • February 13, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    You triple-posted. See three posts above this one.
  • February 19, 2012
    Psi001
    • Penelope Pussycat of Looney Tunes zigzags as being a rare female version, she's not buffoonish in general, but upon catching Pepe Le Pew's sight, she's reduced to a state of panic and often ends up falling into slapstick in her franticness.
    • Similarly Ratigan's pet cat of The Great Mouse Detective is female and used as something of a personal executer, but due to her pudginess and slapstick depiction comes off as a gender swap of this, especially in her bout with Toby.
  • February 19, 2012
    pawsplay
    Played straight in The Lion King with Simba and Nala. Gender-swapped with Uncle Scar, who comes off as a bit of a Camp Gay.
  • March 3, 2012
    Dawnwing
    • In Warrior Cats, both averted and used... male Clan cats are more normal, but male kittypets tend to be a lot more goofy and friendly.
  • March 4, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    This "trope" is attracting every work that has a feline in it.
  • March 4, 2012
    pawsplay
    Must be a common trope, then. Unless you wish to say that some of the examples are not good examples.
  • March 4, 2012
    cygnavamp
    Jaune-Tom in Gay Purr-ee.
  • April 2, 2012
    HaggisMcCrablice
    Furrball in Tiny Toon Adventures. Example: a mishap with malfunctioning 3-D glasses and glue results in a What A Drag situation when he tries to remove them.
  • May 25, 2012
    Arivne
    Edna Walker has not edited this since 9-12-11 so it's Up For Grabs if anyone wants to launch it.
  • May 25, 2012
    JGuy
    Cheshire cat, anyone?
  • July 22, 2012
    TonyG
    ^The Cheshire Cat is almost never depicted as a buffoon.
  • July 27, 2012
    captainpat
    The zero context examples need to be fixed before launching
  • July 27, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    ^ Can you help me fix the Zero Content Examples.
  • August 4, 2012
    HaggisMcCrablice
    The two cats in Bob Clampett's last Tweety cartoon, "Gruesome Twosome". One is dopey; the other is a moderately brighter fellow complete with Jimmy Durante voice and schnoz. Babbott and Catstello, the antagonists from Tweety's 1942 debut, also fit this Trope.
  • August 4, 2012
    Tallens
    Let us not forget Bill the Cat from Bloom County.
  • September 12, 2012
    Psi001
  • September 16, 2012
    Dawnwing

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