Animal Color Stereotypes


(permanent link) added: 2013-10-03 15:11:12 sponsor: EdnaWalker (last reply: 2014-07-21 21:46:25)

Add Tag:
This is about the various personality, wealth, gender, ethnic, and moral and societal standing stereotypes connected to the fur, feather, scale, or skin color or colors—white, black, or otherwise—of animals. Note this trope covers natural colors, as well as somewhat exaggerated colors (e.g., the bright yellow body and orange legs of Looney Tunes' Tweety Bird), but is different from Typical Cartoon Animal Colors, which is the unrealistic stock coloring of a given species of animal in a cartoon or other fictional work (i.e., pink pigs, yellow-beaked crows and ravens)."

For example, white-furred cats, rabbits, and mice and white feathered doves and geese tend to have stereotypes such as innocence, elegance, purity, and being wealthy and high class attached to them. They are often portrayed as female. White-furred dogs, unless they have powderpuff-looking fur, seem to be an exception to this general kind of portrayal of white-colored animals for the most part.

Many animal colour conventions follow human Hair Colors neatly.

Male animals also tend to be darker than female animals in fiction. Also, Dark Is Evil and Light is Good can generally be applied to most species; a dark-coloured individual will be mean, the light-coloured will be nice. Polar bears are often an exception to the Light is Good tendency, as they are often dangerous.

Different countries and cultures have different stereotypes for a particular color of a given species of animal.

Supertrope to the fur color side of Cat Stereotype, White Bunny, and Pale Females, Dark Males. Compare Color-Coded for Your Convenience. Can run into Unforfunate Implications when black or dark-colored animals are portrayed as bad and white or light-colored animals are portrayed as good. Not to be confused with Typical Cartoon Animal Colors. Subtrope of Animal Stereotypes.
    open/close all folders 

Species:

General

White Fur, Feathers, Scales, or Skin

Indicates innocence, elegance, purity, being peaceful, and being wealthy and high class. Can also represent an ethnically white character.

    Examples 
  • Mostly averted in Blacksad, where fur color is based on the animal's Real Life location. White furred/feathered/scaled/skinned animals represent white people and black furred/feathered/scaled/skinned animals represent black people. Hence there is the "Arctic Nation", a Neo Nazi/KKK Expy group which only recruits white-furred/feathered/scaled/skinned animals. They are only pure in the sense of Pure Is Not Good and being an obvious allegory of racial purity.
  • In The Last Unicorn, the unicorns are white and represent good, nature, fantasy and wonder.

Dark or Black Fur, Feathers, Scales or Skin

Indicates evil or a villainous character. Also indicates an aggressive or predatory character.

    Examples 
  • Scar the villainous lion in The Lion King was significantly darker than the other lions and has a black mane. The hyenas who side with Scar are also dark in color. Subverted with Kovu, he is dark in color like Scar, but he is on the side of good. note 
  • Blacksad also features "The Black Claws," an Expy of the real life black nationalist group, The Black Panthers. "The Black Claws" likewise only recruited black furred/feathered/scaled/skinned animals. Subverted with the titular black cat with a white muzzle though.

Rabbits and Hares

White, Albino, or Light Grey Fur

Indicates innocence, gentleness, and purity. Can be evil or vicious as a deliberate subversion. White is mostly a domestic rabbit fur color, though the winter fur color of the Snowshoe hare is also white. See White Bunny for examples.

Grey or Brown Fur

Indicates a Rascally Rabbit. This is the typical color of wild rabbits and hares.

    Examples 

Cats

See Cat Stereotype for examples, breed stereotype descriptions, and detailed color and pattern stereotype descriptions.

White or Silver Chinchilla-Colored Fur

Indicates wealth, prestige, elegance, and purity. Often good. Often longhaired Angora or Persian cats. Usually female, especially when paired with an orange cat.

Orange Fur

Indicates a humble and/or heroic cat, or alternately a fat and lazy one. Often male, and usually male when paired with a white cat.

Black Fur

Indicates bad luck in the US and Catholic Europe. Indicates good luck in the UK, Australia, and Asia. Often magical, mysterious, or a witch's familiar.

Black and White Fur

Indicates a brave or hopeful but unsuccessful cat. Can play black cat stereotypes if a tuxedo or mitted cat.

Tabby-Patterned Fur

Tabby cats have much the same kind of significance as orange ones, heroic and/or humble. However, the cat can be either male or female.

Rats and Mice

White and Albino Fur

Indicates an experimental lab animal (but not The Lab Rat, that's for humans who work in labs). The albino and white colors are pretty much confined to domestic mice and rats.

    Examples 

Bears (Except Polar Bears and Giant Pandas)

Dark Grey, Dark Brown, or Black Fur

Indicates a mean or dangerous bear.

    Examples 
  • Mor'du the dangerous bear from Brave is pitch black. Subverted with Elinor and Merida's triplet brothers as bears as although they are also pitch black, they are friendlier.
  • The dangerous bear in The Fox and the Hound is dark grey, almost black.
  • Br'er Bear from Song of the South is a dark-brown, mean but stupid bear. He may be Beary Funny, but he isn't Beary Friendly.
  • The evil bear in Fun and Fancy Free, Lumpjaw is dark brown.
  • Subverted with Lotso the evil stuffed bear in Toy Story 3, he has strawberry pink colored fur instead of dark fur.

Brown, Light Brown, Grey, or Light Grey Fur

Indicates a Beary Friendly and/or Beary Funny one.

    Examples 

Pigeons/Doves

White Feathers

Symbolizes peace. Often a carrier pigeon. Tends to be on the side of good because of the peace symbolism.

    Examples 

Wild-Type Feathers

Plumage usually has a grey or blue-grey base color, but can occasionally has a light brown base color. Indicates a feral or street pigeon.

Crows and Ravens

Black Feathers

Symbolize death, evil, discord, or a bad omen and indicates Creepy Crows.

Bluebirds

Blue Feathers

Symbolize happiness or are happy. See Bluebird of Happiness for examples.

Birds in General

Yellow Feathers

Indicates a cute and childlike bird. Chicks in fiction will almost always be yellow and fluffy, regardless of species.

    Examples 
  • Tweety Bird from Looney Tunes is cute and childlike.
    • Henery Hawk, also of Looney Tunes fame, is an aversion to the small yellow bird. He's brown in colour and is definitely not innocent and childlike, despite his size.
  • In Sesame Street, Big Bird is, well, big, but his yellow colouring and childlike personality fits with the yellow bird stereotype.

Dogs

Black, Dark Brown, or Black and Tan Fur

Indicates an Angry Guard Dog. Justified, as Dobermans and Rottweilers are normally black and tan.

    Examples 
  • Alpha the Dobermann and Beta the Rottweiler from Up
  • Cerberus, the three-headed Hell Hound is portrayed as black in Hercules
  • Fluffy the three-headed dog in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (inspired by Cerberus) is very dark brown. Fang the Boarhound (played by a Neapolitan Mastiff) from the same movie is a subversion, as he is large and scary-looking, but he's actually a Big Friendly Dog.
  • Black and tan Angry Guard Dogs are the origin of the well known Discworld saying "Never trust a dog with orange eyebrows".
  • The Doberman Pinschers in Oliver & Company, Rosco and Desoto, are Sykes' Right Hand Attack Dogs.
  • Subverted with Nugent the Rottweiler in Over the Hedge as he is just enthusiastically playful.
  • Subverted with Gaspard, the black dog in Gaspard And Lisa as he is a good natured protagonist. The other black dogs in his family are also generally good natured.

All-White or Mostly White Fur

Indicates an intelligent, on the side of good, or protagonist dog. Most often Male. If mostly white, the dog usually has black ears or less commonly a black patch on its back, but is otherwise all-white.

    Examples 
  • Mr. Peabody, protagonist of the Mr. Peabody and Sherman segments of Rocky and Bullwinkle is a very smart, all-white dog.
  • Brian Griffin of Family Guy is a smart, snarky, all-white Labrador retriever.
  • Krypto The Super Dog is a heroic all-white Labrador retriver from the planet Krypton.
  • The titular dog of Bolt is a naive, but heroic white German Shepard.
  • Hemlock Holmes the white bulldog, one of the five main characters in The Dick Tracy Show, is heroic and an aversion of Bully Bulldog.
  • Lisa the white dog in Gaspard And Lisa is a good natured protagonist and her family is also pretty nice and kindly.
  • Snoopy the smart beagle in Peanuts is white with black ears and a black patch on his back. He is often a protagonist in the Peanuts franchise.
  • Dudley Puppy of T.U.F.F. Puppy is white with black ears. He isn't that smart, but he is on the side of good.

All-White, Powderpuff-Looking Fur

Indicates a showy, cute, feminine-looking, or powderpuff-looking Poodle, Bichon Frise, or other dog of similar appearance. Often Female, but can be male. Can be on the side of good like the aforementioned white dog stereotype.

    Examples 
  • Snowy from Tintin is the titular character's pet dog and sidekick.
  • Big Fido from Men at Arms is a subversion/parody: he's a small white poodle with Killer Rabbit tendencies.


Examples That Are Specific To A Work

    Western Animation 
  • The red bull in The Last Unicorn is... red, representing egoism, madness, obsession, selfishness and evil.

replies: 36

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy