Created By: FrodoGoofballCoTV on February 28, 2011 Last Edited By: Arivne on February 2, 2016
Troped

Cute Clumsy Creature

It may be harmless, but do NOT leave it unattended. (Ready to launch?)

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Looks like there are plenty of examples. Is this ready to launch?

Exactly What It Says on the Tin; Seen It a Million Times. This trope is almost universally Played for Laughs.

Alternate titles:


This trope is a slapstick comedy equivalent of a binary explosive. It consists of two completely harmless elements which, when combined, Hilarity Ensues.

First, there's an animal. It's usually either a baby wild animal or a recently - acquired pet, but it can also be an older animal or even a Starfish Alien. If it isn't adorable it'll often be Ugly Cute. The important thing is that it is both (1) seemingly harmless and (2) highly sympathetic.

Next, there's a scene of orderly domestic tranquility. It might be a carefully organized storage shed or convenience store, a restaurant, a dining hall preparing a wedding reception, or a bedroom in a Stepford Suburbia. There are often a number of highly fragile objects present, such as lamps, vases, wedding cakes, neatly stacked displays, etc.

What happens next depends on how the two find their way together.
  • If the animal gets into the room alone, the scene will be a complete mess by the time any humans arrive. The animal will be completely unharmed, although usually coated with some substance it overturned.
  • If there are already humans present, expect everyone except the Only Sane Man (usually either a child, the animal's caretaker, or a minor authority figure such as a hotel concierge) will be either oblivious or panic and run for the exit, causing more trouble than the animal itself. Hilarity Ensues as the Only Sane Man crawls under tables in an attempt to locate the animal and is mistaken for a troublemaker. The scene will typically end with the Only Sane Man being verbally chewed out by an angry customer, their boss, etc.

If there's an older pet who is largely innocent of the damage, expect it to be blamed for cute animal's damages.

Unlike a Killer Rabbit or Happy Fun Ball, a Cute Clumsy Creature is not a serious risk to life and limb. This animal causes much less deadly destruction - just humorous stuff - for example, trying to jump from a ladder to a balcony, causing a can of paint to fall onto a wedding cake.

It's also entirely unintentional on the animal's part. The animal often either doesn't know it's being naughty, doesn't realize how angry this might make the people who spent hours setting up the room, or it doesn't really know how to NOT be destructive in such an environment. The naughtyness often makes the animal seem even more cute, especially when it is just as frightened by the chaos it is creating as everyone else.

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • In Chi's Sweet Home, there is a chapter in which the main character (a kitten) is exploring her "father's" office. She ends up getting a roll of packing tape stuck to her butt and, after a series of event, the office is a complete wreck.

Film - Live Action
  • In The Shaggy Dog sequel The Shaggy D.A., the title character hides under a table at a charity dinner, causing a panic.
  • In The Water Horse, the title character is chased by a bulldog through a dining hall in a Big Fancy House, much to the annoyance of military personnel using it as an officer's mess.

Film - Animated
  • In Open Season, Boog and Elliot sneak into a convenience store to sample the candy. They soon become intoxicated and binge.
  • In The Cat Came Back, every time the cat comes back, Mr. Johnson's house is trashed a little more.
  • In Cats & Dogs, the family adopts a seemingly-cute Russian Blue who is actually working for Mr. Tinkles. He frames Lou for leaving a mess on the floor, and he tears apart the living room with all of the dangerous tools that he used against the dogs.

Live-Action TV

Truth in Television
  • Wild animals
    • They often find man made structures and vehicles a highly attractive environment, filled with places for shelter, warmth, food, etc. However, they often underestimate the danger posed by angry humans and their machines. In turn, humans often underestimate the potential for trouble that a seemingly harmless wild animal can have.
    • Cute little mice can chew through wood, wires, and food packaging, leave droppings in unfortunate places, and otherwise wreak havoc that seems far greater than such a tiny creature should generate. While they are Big Eaters relative to their size, when you see a mouse there's often more than one.
  • Many domestic animals are bred to be cute, sweet, and harmless, but deep down they're still animals, and have the potential to be just as curious, predatory, opportunistic, and fiesty when panicked, as their wild cousins.
    • The cat breed known as Maine Coon is notable not only for its coat, but also its size and disposition, which not only makes them more likely to knock over objects, but also riskier to retrieve when riled up. Let's just say it's best to wear long pants.
    • Animals with a highly social nature, such as dogs, often get bored or anxious easily when left alone, and some will take their frustrations out on inanimate objects.
    • Similarly, highly intelligent exotic animals such as apes or parrots, when not given sufficient physical and mental challenges by their environment, will often focus that intelligence on looking for creative ways to amuse themselves.

Western Animation
  • In Futurama Nibbler is an Ugly Cute critter that the crew try to rescue along with other animals on his planet. When he's left alone in the hold with the other creatures he immediatly eats them.
  • Mr. Fluffypants from the Phineas and Ferb episode "Spa Day".

Community Feedback Replies: 44
  • February 28, 2011
    dotchan
    Related trope: Killer Rabbit.
  • February 28, 2011
    Euodiachloris
    Happy Fun Ball in animal, anyone?
  • February 28, 2011
    LeeM
    Inverted in Fierce Creatures, where to try and prevent their zoo being closed the zookeepers try to persuade John Cleese that their harmless animals are really... well, see title.
  • February 28, 2011
    INUH
    I'm almost certain we have this. We have a lot of things that are almost identical to this, but not quite...
  • March 10, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Happy Fun Ball really isn't this. The Happy Fun Ball poses serious risk to life and limb. This animal causes much less deadly destruction - just humorous stuff like trying to jump from a ladder to a balcony, causing a can of paint to fall onto a wedding cake, for example.

    Also, it's entirely unintentional on the animal's part. The naughtyness often makes the animal seem even more cute.

    The other element is the animal keeps causing destruction when it's left alone or people are panicking, because it doesn't really know how to NOT be destructive in such an environment.
  • March 10, 2011
    Bisected8
    Perhaps we could call this Cute Clumsy Creature to go with Cute Clumsy Girl?

    Also;

    • In Futurama Nibbler is an Ugly Cute critter that the crew try to rescue along with other animals on his planet. When he's left alone in the hold with the other creatures he immediatly eats them.
  • March 28, 2011
    MisterTimor
  • March 28, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    @MisterTimor: Are examples of Killer Rabbit, or this?
  • March 28, 2011
    Kaoy
    In Chis Sweet Home, there is a chapter in which the main character(a kitten) is exploring her 'fathers' office. She ends up getting a roll of packing tape stuck to her butt and, after a series of event, the office is a complete wreck.
  • March 28, 2011
    Rolf
    Real life theres few. You will think mice is cute... till you have wild ones damage house.
  • March 28, 2011
    Kaoy
    Oh, and lets not forget that the breed of cat known by the name of Maine Coon are often coveted for their silky fur and very pleasing markings. However, just as much as they are characterized by their markings, they are by their size and surly attitude as well. Get one of them riled up, and you best be sure you are wearing long pants, or you will be in a lot of pain.
  • March 28, 2011
    TonyG
    The Cat Came Back. Every time the cat comes back, Mr. Johnson's house is trashed a little more.
  • May 1, 2011
    CaveCat
    • In Cats And Dogs, the family adopts a seemingly-cute Russian Blue who is actually working for Mr. Tinkles. He frames Lou for leaving a mess on the floor, and he tears apart the living room with all of the dangerous tools that he used against the dogs.
  • May 2, 2011
    Rolf
    If theres older pet, expect it to be blamed for cute animal's damages.
  • May 3, 2011
    randomsurfer
  • May 3, 2011
    elwoz
    The Maine Coon example should contain the word "cat" somewhere. Not everyone has heard of 'em.
  • October 5, 2011
    Trotzky
    Star Trek: Tribbles eat and breed and eat and breed.
  • October 5, 2011
    Ryusui
  • December 6, 2011
    Psi001
    Both the Futurama and Cats And Dogs examples play with this somewhat. Nibbler is actually an intelligent Mole deliberately being destructive and stupid to keep people off his scent while the Russian Blue probably leans more as a Killer Rabbit.
  • December 9, 2011
    Met
    In The Ugly Dachshund with Dean Jones, the adorable little dachshunds wreak havock in the household when the humans aren't looking. The family's great dane gets blamed every time.
  • December 9, 2011
    elwoz
    Another related trope: the Big Friendly Dog, who is often just a little bit too dim to know how big he is, that she has a tail, or that wobbly little tables are not designed to be leaned on with both forepaws.
  • December 9, 2011
    Arivne
    Film
    • Disney's Charlie, the Lonesome Cougar. Charlie was raised from a cub by a human being. He gets into a kitchen and completely wrecks the place, with food everywhere.
  • February 18, 2012
    Catbert
    This is a good idea that needs to be revived.
  • February 18, 2012
    chicagomel
    • Pokemon Blackand White has this, specifically in the manga. Professor Juniper leaves the three starter Pokemon, Snivey,Oshawatt and Tepig alone for a moment to answer a phone call, and when she comes back, they're having a battle and making a mess of the place.
  • February 24, 2012
    morenohijazo
    Gremlins. They look cute, but throw some water at them and...
  • January 5, 2013
    Catbert
    Can anyone think of a pressing reason not to launch this?
  • January 5, 2013
    McKathlin
    Another Truth In Television example: Human toddlers and babies old enough to crawl. See also Badly Battered Babysitter.
  • January 18, 2013
    elwoz
    Bump with threat to launch.
  • January 19, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In the currently first example, The Shaggy D.A., you should point out that the "title character" is a man who has been magically transformed into a sheepdog. He hides so nobody will see him transform; once he is fully transformed he runs away and everyone thinks a stray dog has gotten in.
  • January 19, 2013
    KZN02
    Looney Tunes: In "Feed The Kitty", Pussyfoot unknowingly gets Marc Anthony in trouble when he tries to hide her from his owner.
  • March 10, 2013
    Catbert
    Bump
  • March 11, 2013
    robinjohnson
    The word "harmless" seems to be being used here in a way with which I have been hitherto unfamiliar.
  • April 11, 2014
    Noah1
  • April 11, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    removed a hat. description's a mess. can't launch something like that.

  • April 11, 2014
    randomsurfer
    • Mad About You: One time Paul & Jamie left their dog Murray home alone for most of the day and come back to find their apartment torn to pieces. That's when they finally acknowledge that they need to hire a dog-walker.
  • April 12, 2014
    JonnyB
    I think Jar Jar Binks was intended to be this, but ended up being The Scrappy.
  • April 12, 2014
    Arivne
    • Corrected a spelling error (combind).
    • Added blank line(s) in the Examples section for readability.
    • Namespaced and italicized work names.
    • Removed the unnecessary colons from Example section media category titles.
    • Changed "Manga and Anime" to our standard "Anime and Manga".
    • Alphabetized the Examples section by media.
    • Corrected improper Example Indentation in a Truth In Television example.

    Americas Funniest Home Videos and Phineas And Ferb are Zero Context Examples.
  • April 12, 2014
    TonyG
    In the Sponge Bob Square Pants episode "Wormy", SpongeBob and Patrick are left to babysit Sandy's pets while she's away, and they fall in love with a caterpillar, the titular Wormy. When Wormy turns into a butterfly, SpongeBob and Patrick think it's a monster, and when it gets turned loose in Bikini Bottom, their attempts to warn the people just creates mass panic. By the time Sandy gets back, she finds the city in ruins, and when she finds Wormy safe and sound, she puts it in a jar and is hailed as a hero for catching the monster.
  • April 12, 2014
    Earnest
    Star Wars, poor Jar Jar is adult, clueless, and clumsy to the point of self harm.
  • February 2, 2016
    DAN004
  • February 2, 2016
    Snicka
    Real Life / Truth In Television examples should be listed last, after Western Animation (they are an exception from the alphabetizing rule). Also, Film Animated goes before Film Live Action.
  • February 2, 2016
    Chernoskill
    The Gremlins example is the first thing that came to my mind when I saw this page.
  • February 2, 2016
    DrNoPuma
    I think this meets all the requirements for being launched. Just one thing: Shouldn't the Cats & Dogs example be under Films - Live Action?
  • February 2, 2016
    DAN004
    I dunno if that Spongebob example counts, I mean, the butterfly does absolutely nothing. It's Spongebob's and Patrick's antics that devastated the whole town because they're afraid that that small flying thing has "eaten" their friend.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=p908azprup1ihz3ocg94yjrv