Created By: EdnaWalker on October 1, 2010 Last Edited By: EdnaWalker on October 16, 2010
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Removable Shell

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This trope is about the common cartoon portrayal of a turtle's and tortoise's carapace, or shell, as being removable. In real life, a turtle's shell is fused to its spine, but in cartoons, it is often treated as clothing. In some cases, it is treated as having a furnished apartment in it. Expect the turtle, when out of the shell, to be wearing boxers.

A variant of this trope features other permenantly shelled animals like snails with shells treated like houses or even removeable, though cartoon snails' shells are rarely portrayed as removable.

Subtrope of Somewhere, a Herpetologist Is Crying. See also Funny Animal Anatomy.


Examples:

Eastern Animation

  • The obscure Japanese series Oraa Guzura Dado had one turtle character, for whom this trope was a running gag. (The series is animated, but doesn't look like anime at all.)

Film

  • Verne in Over the Hedge often loses his shell.
    • After happening several times, R.J. asks "What is the point of this thing again?"

Games

  • Dub from Die Anstalt. Treating his neuroses required you to literally get him out of his shell, and it's later revealed that his problems stem from having it on inside-out.

Literature

  • Clothahump the turtle wizard in Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series doesn't have a removable shell, but he has enchanted his plastron to install transdimensional cabinet drawers in his chest.

Troper Tales

  • Tannhaeuser: This may be way too obscure, but back when I was in college in the Eighties, there was a newspaper cartoon (Some Thoughts by Eric Johnson) in the UGA college newspaper, The Red and Black that featureed a series of strips about a turtle jumping out of his carapace (wearing the requisite wife-beater and boxers), later suggling inside the carapace with a turtle-honey, and finally, about some Georgia Tech students who indignantly wrote in to the cartoonist to complain that they had opened up a real turtle and not found a little animal in boxer shorts.
  • evilpizza: I've forgotten for which casino chain this was for but for the longest time in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, area there were commercials for a casino whose mascot was a turtle without a shell dancing in polka dot heart boxers.

Video Games

  • Koopas in the Super Mario Bros. series.
    • Regarding the Koopas, this wasn't explicitly the case until Super Mario World. Before that, they remained very much in their shells and revived unexpectedly.
    • Koopas were actually an example in Mario Bros. (the arcade game that predated Super Mario Bros.), where they would hop out of their shells and hop back in to recover.
      • Also, they were called Shellcreepers back then.
  • In American McGee's Alice, Mock Turtle's shell gets stolen by the Duchess and we get to become a honorary reptile by helping recover it.
  • Carapacion-type enemies in Final Fantasy XIII might qualify, as when "Broken" their carapace vanishes, which removes their Nigh Invulnerability until they restore the carapace.
    • It's only really iffy because even when they actually have the carapace it's not a true shell, but more closely resembles a pangolin or man-made scale/plate mail.

Western Animation

  • Happens to Cecil Turtle in Looney Tunes
  • Happens nearly ten years before Cecil's debut in 1941 to a turtle in 1932's "Freddie the Freshman."
  • In Cats Don't Dance, T.W. Turtle never actually gets out of his shell, but he did duck into it on one occasion and reemerge with a scrub brush and soap, as though he'd been cleaning the inside.
  • Filbert the turtle in Rocko's Modern Life.


Community Feedback Replies: 37
  • September 12, 2010
    RhymeBeat
    Koopas in the Super Mario Bros series.
  • September 12, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Verne in Over The Hedge often loses his shell. After happening several times, R.J. asks "What is the point of this thing again?"
  • September 12, 2010
    KZN02
    Happens to Cecil Turtle in Looney Tunes
  • September 12, 2010
    Tannhaeuser
    ^ Happens nearly ten years before Cecil's debut in 1941 to a turtle in 1932's "Freddie the Freshman."
  • September 13, 2010
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • September 14, 2010
    Stratadrake
    Regarding the Koopas, this wasn't explicitly the case until Super Mario World. In the meantime, the turtles were still very much inside their shell and could revive unexpectedly.
  • September 14, 2010
    EvilMidnightLurker
    Clothahump the turtle wizard in Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series doesn't have a removable shell, but he has enchanted his plastron to install transdimensional cabinet drawers in his chest.
  • September 16, 2010
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • September 17, 2010
    Meophist
    Koopas were actually an example in Mario Bros(the arcade game that predated Super Mario Bros), where they would hop out of their shells and hop back in to recover.

    Edit: They were called Shellcreepers back then.
  • September 17, 2010
    randomsurfer
    I've also seen it where somebody crawls into the shell with the turtle/tortoise. Can't remember where though.
  • September 17, 2010
    repicheep22
    In Cats Dont Dance, T.W. Turtle never actually gets out of his shell, but he did duck into it on one occasion and reemerge with a scrub brush and soap, as though he'd been cleaning the inside.
  • September 18, 2010
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • September 19, 2010
    Mozgwsloiku
    In American Mc Gees Alice, Mock Turtle's shell gets stolen by the Duchess and we get to become a honorary reptile by helping recover it.
  • September 19, 2010
    morethanadream
    Filbert the turtle in Rockos Modern Life.
  • September 20, 2010
    Bailey
    Is there a reason it shouldn't be Removable Shell, or Removable Turtle Shell? I'd assume that's what most people would look for this under.
  • September 20, 2010
    TBTabby
    Dub from Die Anstalt. Treating his neuroses required you to literally get him out of his shell, and it's later revealed that his problems stem from having it on inside-out.
  • September 20, 2010
    Vree
    Do we have a trope for when snails' and turtles' shells are treated as houses? Often overlaps with this one (but for snails it's only rarely removable).

    Also, "Carapace" may be better after all - a lot of bugs treat their carapace as basically armor that they strap on and take off when needed.

    We prolly have more than enough turtle examples for its own trope tho.
  • September 20, 2010
    Frank75
    The obscure Japanese series Oraa Guzura Dado had one turtle character, for whom this trope was a running gag. (The series is animated, but doesn't look like anime at all. Hard to categorize.)
  • September 23, 2010
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • September 24, 2010
    StandingSpace
    Expect the turtle, when out of the shell, to be wearing boxers.
  • September 27, 2010
    EdnaWalker
    Is boxer wearing a general part of the trope or a part of a specific example?
  • September 28, 2010
    Aerotan
    Carapacion-type enemies in Final Fantasy XIII might qualify, as when "Broken" their carapace vanishes, which removes their Nigh Invulnerability until they restore the carapace. It's only really iffy because even when they actually have the carapace it's not a true shell, but more closely resembles a pangolin or man-made scale/plate mail.
  • September 28, 2010
    ginsengaddict
  • September 30, 2010
    EdnaWalker
    Is this trope ready to launch?
  • October 1, 2010
    Stratadrake
    I fixed up the mention of RL hermit crabs, but I'm not sure how much of an example it even is in the first place given it's not a part of their physiology to begin with.
  • October 1, 2010
    EdnaWalker
    Real Life

    • Hermit crabs use the leftover shells from sea snails to protect themselves from attackers; when the crab grows too large for its current shell, it leaves it behind to locate another.

    I did not suggest hermit crabs, ginsengaddict did. I do not think the hermit crab example is much of a trope example to begin with either, Stratadrake.
  • October 1, 2010
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • October 2, 2010
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • October 7, 2010
    EdnaWalker
    Now can I please launch this trope?
  • October 7, 2010
    Tannhaeuser
    This may be way too obscure, but back when I was in college in the Eighties, there was a newspaper cartoon (Some Thoughts by Eric Johnson) in the UGA college newspaper, The Red and Black that featureed a series of strips about a turtle jumping out of his carapace (wearing the requisite wife-beater and boxers), later suggling inside the carapace with a turtle-honey, and finally, about some Georgia Tech students who indignantly wrote in to the cartoonist to complain that they had opened up a real turtle and not found a little animal in boxer shorts.
  • October 8, 2010
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • October 8, 2010
    evilpizza
    I've forgotten for which casino chain this was for but for the longest time in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, area there were commercials for a casino whose mascot was a turtle without a shell dancing in polka dot heart boxers.
  • October 10, 2010
    EdnaWalker
    Bump? Is it ready to launch?
  • October 13, 2010
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • October 13, 2010
    Ghilz
    Might want to rename to Removeable Shell. Rolls better off the tongue. Also, dividing the examples between "Turtles" and "others" is pointless when you got only one "other"
  • October 13, 2010
    EdnaWalker
    Reanamed it Removable Shell and fixed it for you, Ghilz.
  • October 16, 2010
    EdnaWalker
    Now could I please launch it?
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