Created By: Quatic on December 9, 2012 Last Edited By: Quatic on December 17, 2015

Animal And Animate Object Employees

Animals and automobiles aren\'t simply used in professions; they behave like employees as well.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
"Eh... it's a living."
Every single household appliance, The Flintstones

In real life, animals, automobiles, and inanimate objects don't know that they are being used in a particular profession. But often, especially in cartoons and kids movies, Animate Inanimate Object examples like police cars and race cars, and Civilized Animal examples like police dogs, racehorses, carrier pigeons, etc., will be portrayed as sentient beings who not only are used in a certain line of work, but are (or consider themselves) actual employees/professionals in the line of work in which they are used, and adhere to stereotypical behaviors of members of that profession.

An Equippable Ally or Sapient Steed may fall within this trope, if it is aware of the purpose or profession within which it is being used.


Examples

Comics
  • In Beetle Bailey, the Sarge's dog Otto wears a uniform and conducts himself like a miniature version of Sarge. Notably, Otto originated as a regular four-legged dog, but eventually strip author Mort Walker chose to make him more anthropomorphic (and more "regular army" for Rule of Funny purposes.

Film
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Benny the Cab drives the streets of Los Angeles acting as if he were a cab operated by a human, including picking up fares.
  • In Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Delgado takes his job as a police dog very seriously.
  • The Cars movies pretty much run on this trope. The police car is a sheriff; Lightning McQueen, The King, and Chick Hicks are racecars and Doc Hudson is a retired one. For Cars 2, there is racecar Francesco Bernoulli. As this is a world of sentient cars, racecars are the world's equivalent to human racers that drive the racecars.
  • The World War II era carrier pigeons in the 2005 film Valiant act as soldiers complete with 'volunteering' for duty and holding military rank. So do the Nazi falcons who pursue the pigeons. (In real life the British really did use carrier pigeons to deliver messages — and the Nazis really did train falcons to intercept the pigeons).
  • In True Lies, Schwarzenegger commandeers a police horse to chase the motorcycle-riding villain. The bad guy does a daring rooftop-to-rooftop jump, the horse balks at following, prompting Schwarzenegger to ask, "What kind of a cop are you, anyway?" The horse looks ashamed at this.
  • In Madagascar, a police horse gives Marty directions to Grand Central Station just like a human officer would give directions to a human tourist.
  • Maximus the horse in Tangled takes his job as palace guard very seriously. In fact, he's much more competent than the human palace guards, being the only one getting close to capture Flynn Rider.
  • Subverted in Chicken Run. The old rooster, Fowler, is given the accent and mannerisms of a retired British military officer, and talks wistfully of "my RAF days". But when the chickens build a rudimentary aircraft and suggest he pilot it, Reality Ensues:
    Fowler: Good heavens, no. I'm a chicken! The Royal Air Force doesn't let chickens behind the controls of a complex aircraft.
  • In The Lion King, the title lions are more than just the alpha predators; they are essentially ruling heads of government who take seriously the job of overseeing the regional wellbeing.
  • Grandmother Willow gives counsel to Pocahontas as the Cool Old Lady, even though she's a willow tree rooted to the spot. Her premonition of a "spinning arrow" becomes a critical Plot Point.

Literature
  • Dinotopia has dinosaurs used as beasts of burden, among other things. Since dinosaurs are sapient in this 'verse, this is entirely voluntary and they're paid through Dinotopia's barter system.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has, at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, cows who work both as the waitstaff and the meal — they come to take your steak order, and then go kill themselves ("I'll be very humane") to be cooked and served to the customer.

Western Animation
  • Looney Tunes
    • This is the central joke of the Sam Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf cartoons. Both clock in to assume their adversarial positions as protector and prey, respectively, acting like best friends in their off hours.
    • On the Porky Pig cartoon "The Crooner Swooner", the hens on Porky's egg farm show their ID at the entrance and punch in to work.
    • The Wartime Cartoon "The Draft Horse" is about a plowhorse enlisting into the army as if he were a human recruit.
  • Creature Comforts did this fairly often, dubbing recorded interviews with policemen onto animated police dogs, and putting scientists' voices in the mouths of lab rats.
  • "One Cab's Family," a 1952 MGM cartoon by Tex Avery, features a taxicab who wants his son to be a taxicab, but the son wants to be a race car, until after a bad crash the son decides to be a taxicab (but with a racecar engine).
  • In The Flintstones, the animals powering the Bamboo Technology frequently show that they treat it like a dead-end job. The cast rarely seems to acknowledge them, though.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine has a number of trainyard characters who behave this way.
  • Many of young Rob's possessions from The Brave Little Toaster served him gladly, until the day Rob moved away. Toaster, Blankey, Radio, Lampy and Kirby make a perilous trek through the outdoors to reunite with "The Master."
  • Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines
    • Dick Dastardly's air squad is tasked with catching a carrier pigeon, who wears a sack around his shoulder and acts like a human(ish) courier, except he can fly.
    • Muttley is a dog but is treated like just another member of the squad, albeit the only competent one. He often refuses to do anything unless Dastardly gives him a medal for it, usually in advance.
  • In the Looney Tunes cartoon "Plane Daffy" Daffy Duck is recruited to be a carrier after all the carrier pigeons have been seduced by Nazi spy birds. Hatta Mari tries to seduce Daffy.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, the agency OWCA (Organization Without a Cool Acronym) consists almost entirely of part-time Accessory Wearing Cartoon Animals. Only the agency chief and his intern are humans. One episode introduced Agent Planty, the Potted Plant.
  • Affectionate Parody character Cool McCool drives a gadget-filled car that often behaves like an eager puppy. At times, McCool has to negotiate with it to continue pursuing a villain, and the car also botches simple instructions.
  • When Mark, Debbie and Tink assembled a dune buggy, it came to life as Speed Buggy. Speedy functions as a race car on the track, but will also converse with his teammates, and accompany them on adventures, including tiptoeing around on his rear wheels.

Real Life
  • On some occasions army dogs have actually been awarded medals for their achievements, and military honors have been awarded to police dogs, to army and police horses, and in one recorded case, to a Royal Navy cat who excelled at rat-catching.
  • There is an entire class of dogs known as "working dogs" that have been bred to fulfill labor roles — sheepdogs, hunting dogs, etc.; and many dogs not in that "class" have been bred to serve other functions, such as bomb-sniffing dogs. One aspect of both the breeding and the training of such animals is their obedience to their human master, comparable to how an employee is expected to obey its boss.
Community Feedback Replies: 39
  • December 10, 2012
    Arivne
    Film
    • Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Benny the Cab drives the streets of Los Angeles acting as if he were a cab operated by a human, including picking up fares.
  • December 10, 2012
    StarSword
    Literature:
    • Dinotopia has dinosaurs used as beasts of burden, among other things. Since dinosaurs are sapient in this 'verse, this is entirely voluntary and they're paid through Dinotopia's barter system.
  • December 10, 2012
    TonyG
    • Looney Tunes:
      • This is the central joke of the Sam Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf cartoons. Both clock in to assume their adversarial positions as protector and prey, respectively, acting like best friends in their off hours.
      • On the Porky Pig cartoon "The Crooner Swooner", the hens on Porky's egg farm show their ID at the entrance and punch in to work.
      • The Wartime Cartoon "The Draft Horse" is about a plowhorse enlisting into the army as if he were a human recruit.
  • December 10, 2012
    robinjohnson
    • Creature Comforts did this fairly often, dubbing recorded interviews with policemen onto animated police dogs, and putting scientists' voices in the mouths of lab rats.
  • December 10, 2012
    Quatic
    Can anybody tell me what's the name of that cartoon where the taxicab wants his son to be a taxicab, but the son wants to be a race car, until after a bad crash the son decides to be a taxicab (but with a raceczr engine)?
  • December 10, 2012
    StarSword
    Try asking in You Know That Show.
  • December 10, 2012
    Quatic
    Found it. "One Cab's Family," a 1952 MGM cartoon by Tex Avery.
  • December 10, 2012
    Karalora
    In Madagascar, a police horse gives Marty directions to Grand Central Station just like a human officer would give directions to a human tourist.
  • December 11, 2012
    Voyd211
    There's a talking horse on SCP Foundation that (believes he) works for the Foundation. I think it's 1152, though I might be wrong.
  • December 11, 2012
    Quatic
    @Voyd211 -- looked, couldn't find it.... can you?
  • December 12, 2012
    Voyd211
    Found him, it's 1156.
  • May 15, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    Possible page quote:

    "Eh... it's a living."
    Every single household appliance, The Flintstones

    And the example to match:
    • In The Flintstones, the animals powering the Bamboo Technology frequently show that they treat it like a dead-end job. The cast rarely seems to acknowledge them, though.
  • May 15, 2014
    bitemytail
    Real Life:
    • Police dogs are considered to be full officers in some jurisdictions. Yes, you can be charged with assaulting an officer if you shoot a police dog.
  • May 15, 2014
    DAN004
    Some examples fit better in Sapient Steed, subtrope of this.
  • May 15, 2014
    randomsurfer
    In an episode of The Simpsons Homer uses a pelican as a cement mixer and expects it to quip "Eh...it's a living" a la The Flintstones. Instead it falls down dead.
  • May 15, 2014
    Snicka
    • Maximus the horse in Tangled takes his job as palace guard very seriously. In fact, he's much more competent than the human palace guards, being the only one getting close to capture Flynn Rider.
  • May 16, 2014
    Arivne
    • Capitalized the title.
    • Examples section formatting
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
      • Added the word "Examples".
      • Added a space between *'s and the first word following them.
      • Changed media section titles(s) to our standard style.
    • Namespaced work name(s).
  • May 16, 2014
    DAN004
    I thing Car S is a subversion: while they are living automobiles, they aren't paricularly driven by any human.
  • May 16, 2014
    AgProv
    @ bitemytail:
    • British police are known to have a direct way of dealing with offenders who kick, abuse or attempt to harm police dogs. If there is no TV camera team along for the ride to do one of those Brit Cops shows which are such good PR for the force, crims who attempt animal cruelty soon find life gets difficult and potentially painful. One offender who attempted to stab a police dog was detoured to the dog training kennels and spent a very uncomfortable two hours sitting in a cage with seven or eight big GSD's. The dogs had been trained not to bite or do anything more than growl at him - but he wasn't to know that. Eventually the cops "remembered" to take the now petrified yob to the station and process him... other hard cases might similarly be arrested and transported into custody not in the standard black maria, but in a dog-transporter accompanied by two or three police dogs who aren't generally happy about sharing their ride with a perp. An old copper once reminisced (to me) about three yobbo adolescents, petty vandals who were put into the dirtiest possible police dog pound, issued shovels, buckets and mops, and instructed to clean up a few days' worth of canine incontinence as an alternative to formal arrest. And God help them, if the dogs' accomodation was not sparkling when they were finished. They were also told to hurry up, or else several dogs would be put in there with them as an incentive.
      Of course, we could never get away with that now... said the old street copper.
  • May 17, 2014
    randomsurfer
    In Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog the offscreen Big Bad head of the Evil League of Evil is Bad Horse, an evil non-anthropomorphic horse.
  • June 19, 2014
    Quatic
    @randomsurfer - is "Bad Horse" really an animal job description, tho?
  • June 19, 2014
    randomsurfer
    Bad Horse is more of a Meaningful Name. First name Bad, last name Horse. His job is being the leader of the Evil League of Evil.
  • June 19, 2014
    DAN004
    Compare Animate Inanimate Object

    Again, Car S is a subversion.
  • June 19, 2014
    Quatic
    @dan004, good point, changed the title to reflect that. Now, an Animate Inanimate Object may or may not be within this trope. For example, an animated toaster which just dances around the house isn't being one, but an animated toaster which acts like a chef is.
  • July 12, 2015
    EdnaWalker
    For the Cars example,
    • The police car is a sheriff
  • July 12, 2015
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • Many of young Rob's possessions from The Brave Little Toaster served him gladly, until the day Rob moved away. Toaster, Blankey, Radio, Lampy and Kirby make a perilous trek through the outdoors to reunite with "The Master."
  • July 12, 2015
    robinjohnson
    • Subverted in Chicken Run. The old rooster, Fowler, is given the accent and mannerisms of a retired British military officer, and talks wistfully of "my RAF days". But when the chickens build a rudimentary aircraft and suggest he pilot it, Reality Ensues:
      Fowler: Good heavens, no. I'm a chicken! The Royal Air Force doesn't let chickens behind the controls of a complex aircraft.
  • July 24, 2015
    EdnaWalker
    Also for Cars
    • Lightning McQueen, The King, and Chick Hicks are racecars and Doc Hudson is a retired one. For Cars 2, there is racecar Francesco Bernoulli. As this is a world of sentient cars, racecars are the world's equivalent to human racers that drive the racecars.
  • July 27, 2015
    randomsurfer
    • Dastardly And Muttley In Their Flying Machines
      • Dick Dastardly's air squad is tasked with catching a carrier pigeon, who wears a sack around his shoulder and acts like a human(ish) courier, except he can fly.
      • Muttley is a dog but is treated like just another member of the squad, albeit the only competent one. He often refuses to do anything unless Dastardly gives him a medal for it, usually in advance.
    • In the Looney Tunes cartoon "Plane Daffy" Daffy Duck is recruited to be a carrier after all the carrier pigeons have been seduced by Nazi spy birds. Hatta Mari tries to seduce Daffy.
  • July 28, 2015
    Snicka
    ^ You can pothole Hyper Competent Sidekick when saying Muttley is the only competent one.
  • August 1, 2015
    JohnnyCache
    • In Phineas And Ferb, the agency OWCA (Organization Without a Cool Acronym) consists almost entirely of part-time Accessory Wearing Cartoon Animals. Only the agency chief and his intern are humans. One episode introduced Agent Planty, the Potted Plant.
  • August 2, 2015
    Peteman
    • In The Simpsons, Mr. Burns has a number of non-human employees, such as a chicken named Queenie (deceased), a duck named Stewart, and an inanimate carbon rod. Unlike most examples of this trope, these are non-sapient entities and more around because Mr. Burns uses criminal levels of cost-cutting measures.
  • August 3, 2015
    Quatic
    If they are nonsapient entities then they are not examples of this trope. It's about how sentient animals/objects self-perceive.
  • September 30, 2015
    DAN004
    Bump
  • November 21, 2015
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • November 22, 2015
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • Affectionate Parody character Cool Mc Cool drives a gadget-filled car that often behaves like an eager puppy. At times, McCool has to negotiate with it to continue pursuing a villain, and the car also botches simple instructions.
    • When Mark, Debbie and Tink assembled a dune buggy, it came to life as Speed Buggy. Speedy functions as a race car on the track, but will also converse with his teammates, and accompany them on adventures, including tiptoeing around on his rear wheels.
  • November 22, 2015
    DAN004
  • November 23, 2015
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • Grandmother Willow gives counsel to Pocahontas as the Cool Old Lady, even though she's a willow tree rooted to the spot. Her premonition of a "spinning arrow" becomes a critical Plot Point.
  • December 17, 2015
    NoirGrimoir
    Anime And Manga

    • In Shirokuma Cafe, animals in the zoo are actually working at the Zoo. The character "Panda" actually refers to acting cute playing around in the enclosure as "service".
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=za0nihd4t9wtsydb9dwj3teo