Bugs Bunny used to look more like a rabbit/hare in his early days, but Art Evolution made him the same size as a human and with much longer legs.
The Tasmanian Devil and the Tasmanian She-Devil are brown furred and look nothing like real Tasmanian Devils, which have black fur.
The Roadrunner also looks nothing like its real-world counterpart. Roadrunners aren't bright purple/blue nor are they the same size as a coyote. Or go "Beep Beep!".
Hippety Hopper, the baby kangaroo that Sylvester always mistakes for a giant mouse. In Sylvester's defense Hippety does look far more like a giant mouse than an actual kangaroo.
Yoyo Dodo basically looks like a drinking bird covered in a grass tunic.
Batty, the bat in the cartoon, "The Brave Little Bat," looks nothing like a bat, and looks like a mouse with wings instead.
Henery Hawk doesn't look that much like a hawk.
Rare human examples: Bosko and his girlfriend Honey are supposed to be blackface-looking African-American human characters, but they don't really read as such. They look more like ambiguous-looking chimpanzees or bonobos instead.
One of the episodes, "Who Bopped Bugs Bunny?", involved Babs and Buster trying to solve Bugs Bunny's mysterious disappearance. In the end the culprit is revealed to be Sappy Stanley, an elephant who competed and lost against Bugs Bunny in a parody of the Academy Awards. Although he talks through his mouth depending on his mood, most of the time Stanley speaks straight from his trunk (complete with mouth), making him look more like an anteater than an elephant.
The titular character Bonkers D. Bobcat hardly looks like a real bobcat; his tail is long rather than a stub, his snout is long like a dog's, and his ears are so thin and long they're almost like antenna. At least he has downward-facing cheek tufts.
Winston Prickly, a one-shot antagonist from the episode "Love Stuck", is said to be a porcupine, but he's purple and looks more like a hairy monster.
Bungo from Jungle Junction is said to be a "bunny", but, rabbits don't have long striped tails.
Arthur Read and his relatives are aardvarks, but aren't readily identifiable as such. Real aardvarks have giant noses that stick out. Arthur, D.W., and other Reads have no nose. Averted in the early books, in which Arthur's enormous nose is actually the driving force of the plot.
Notably, there was an old CBBC puppet mascot called Otis The Aardvark, who looked more like an aardvark than Arthur ever did. The original Arthur's nose points downward, whereas Otis' nose sticks straight out like that of a real aardvark. Otis himself even commented on this, opining that Arthur looked more like a hamster.
Brain and the Tibble Twins are supposed to be bear cubs, but they look more like gophers than actual bears.
Sue Ellen and Jenna are cats, which is why they both have little button noses and whiskers...wait...
Prunella is supposed to be a rat (like Mr. Ratburn), but her ears and hair make her look more like a poodle. Due to Flip-Flop of God it's unclear though. She may actually be a poodle, since Marc Brown Studios' Facebook page says she is. Oddly enough, she looks more like a rat in Brown's books, sporting a pair of sharp teeth that disappeared when she made the transition to television. The official Arthur website says she's a rat. It seems all we can say for sure is that Prunella looks confusing.
Muffy and Francine are monkeys but they just look like humans. In the early books they had muzzles but in the cartoon their fur is one tone all over.
Binky is supposed to be a bulldog. He looks more like a hippopotamus.
The only exception seems to be Buster, who is said to be a rabbit and actually looks like one (he's even got the right nose).
P.J., Pete's son from Goof Troop, A Goofy Movie, and An Extremely Goofy Movie, is supposed to be a cat, but in all his appearances, he looked more like and was treated like a Dogface with pointy ears instead.
Chip and Skip from Camp Lazlo are supposed to be dung beetles, but look more like purple things. Ping-Pong and Dave are supposed to be loons, but they look more like ostriches. And, for some reason, the Lemming brothers look more like green frogs with ears than well....lemmings.
Jake is supposed to be a spider monkey but, while obviously a primate of some kind, looks little like the actual species. Lampshaded in one episode that shows his family at the zoo at first appear to look correct but after the humans leave they remove disguises showing they actually look like Jake.
Slips has a head and face more like a human's than a snake's. It doesn't help he has blonde hair
Phineas is said to be a porpoise, but he looks more like a bottlenose dolphin.
Mr. Blowhole is apparently a killer whale, but he doesn't even have the white eyespots the species is known for.
Daggett and Norbert from The Angry Beavers don't look an awful lot like beavers, even though they do have flat tails. This is constantly pointed out in the show, as most people assume that they are weasels.
The Tick owns a capybara named Speak (named because he once hallucinated it talking to him) who looks much more like some sort of mutant pug dog; in fact, the Tick was sure Speak was a dog until he took him to the vet.
The titular Aardvark from The Ant and the Aardvark doesn't look very much like an aardvark, having blue fur, a long snout more like that of an anteater's than an actual aardvark's, and long angular bent ears. Even more so in Pink Panther and Pals. This time the Aardvark's snout is curved upwards like an elephant's and his tail is shortened.
Cyril and Cedric Sneer and Sophia Tutu on The Raccoons are supposed to be aardvarks, but have pink fur and snouts that bend down. The show's creator did this on purpose so kids don't think that real aardvarks are greedy industrialists.
SpongeBob looks more like an artificial dish sponge than an actual sponge, even though he is supposed to be the latter. This is because Stephen Hillenberg couldn't do an appealing caricature of a real sea sponge, and he felt that a synthetic one worked better for the "squeaky clean" nerd look he was going for. It also implies that he's "a square peg trying to fit into a round hole."
Squidward is actually an octopus despite his name. He lacks two tentacles because it was seen as a burden to animate. Plus, Octoward isn't a very appealing name. Since both octopi and squids exist in the show and look different to him... we don't know what the hell he is. ]
The episode "Patrick SmartPants featured brain coral that looked nothing like the real animals, being cone-shaped rather than brain-shaped.
Austin from The Backyardigans is a kangaroo, but looks more like he's half aardvark and half cat.
An episode of Cyberchase involved The Hacker using a giant hamster in an exercise wheel as part of one of his evil plans to undermine the Mother Board and take over Cyberspace. However, for some reason the aforementioned hamster looked more like a capybara than an actual hamster.
Sherlock from Sweet Cuppin' Cakes is supposed to be a mix between a cow and a helicopter, but he looks like neither.
Rigby is supposed to be a North American raccoon, but strongly resembles a Crab Eating Raccoon or a Coati, both of which only have a short brown layer of fur, and more slender bodies. Crab Eating Raccoons are native to Costa Rica and South America and Coatis can be found in the Southwest US including Southern California. Rigby's lack of a proper face mask has been explained by the fact that he has hugeCartoony Eyes, and is occasionally shown blinking where he has black eyelids. This is consistent with his more humanoid looking brother Don too. Rigby's lack of resemblance to his real life counterpart has been Played for Laughs on multiple occasions - he comments on the black circles around his eyes as being 'his thing', when he and Mordecai encounter realistic animal versions of themselves Rigby is drawn as a standard gray and black raccoon (present on a comic cover too), and in an early episode, one of the enemies says to him 'what are you supposed to be?'.
Skips looks more like a white gorilla than a yeti (described to be like a human with reddish-brown fur).
Margaret is supposedly a robin, but has a coloration and crest of a male cardinal.
Eileen is supposed to be a mole, but for some reason, has a human face!
The ostrich and possum in "Replaced" look more like a combless chicken and a stripeless numbat, respectively.
The hedgehog from the prequel Thanksgiving special "Meet Bigpaw" looks more like a porcupine than a real hedgehog. Conversely, Mr. Porcupine from the episode "Raid on Fort Grizzly" looks more like a hedgehog than a porcupine.
Louis from Foofur is supposed to be a bulldog, but while his face and ears are like those of a real bulldog, his big bulky body would suggest otherwise.
All of the fish from Fish Hooks look like finger puppets with a few fins.
Several characters of Rocko's Modern Life don't exactly look like the animal they are supposed to be. For example, the Chameleon Brothers look more like some kind of theropod dinosaur than actual chameleons.
The Giganotosaurus, Zuniceratops, Velociraptor, Eotyrannus, and Troodon from I'm a Dinosaur look more like Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, Deinonychus, Albertosaurus, and Coelophysis respectively. Also, the Compsognathus episode had a Bavarisaurus which looked more like a feathered theropod instead of the lizard that it was in real life.
The pinniped from the infamous Pingu episode "Pingu Dreams". Some viewers assume it's a leopard seal while others think it's a walrus, but it hardly looks like one or the other. At best it looks like an earless sea lion with walrus-like whiskers.
Mr. Bogus, as well as his younger cousin, Brattus, are supposed to be gremlins, but due to their yellow skin, it's indeterminate whether they actually are gremlins or just little people. Justified in that gremlins don't have a stablished look.
Horace Horsecollar is supposed to be a horse, but looks more like Goofy (whose species is ambiguous) than anything else.
Chip and Dale only vaguely resemble chipmunks since they have dog-like noses and short, deer-like tails.
Zipper from Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers is supposed to be a housefly, but the only indications of this is that he has wings and makes buzzing sounds.
Steggy from the episode "Prehysterical Pet" is supposed to be an alien Stegosaurus, but he looks more like a bizarre dragon creature with circular backplates and a spiked tail instead.
Most of the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic characters just barely resemble ponies, instead looking more like mutated toy-breed dogs with cat ears. While male ponies have muzzles that have some semblance of a real horse's muzzle shape, female ponies have muzzles shaped more like that that of mouse lemurs and galagos (or bushbabies). However, this makes them lookadorable.
Sully from Danger Rangers is supposed to be a seal. However, since he's fully anthropmorphic, he has normal legs instead of tail-fins, thus making him look more like a tailless otter.
Sammy K. Ferret from the episode "Stay Tooned" is supposedly a ferret, he looks more like a wolf or coyote.
Another episode, "Play Them Ragtime Blues", had a megalodon which looked more like a mosasaur.
Sam the Sloth from the Timon & Pumbaa episode "Hakuna Matata U." looks more like a bear-monkey thing than a sloth.
Similar to the above, the sloths that appear in the Jungle Cubs episodes "The Five Bananas" and "The Elephant Who Couldn't Say No" look more like a hybrid between a bear and a monkey. Considering the series supposedly sets in Asia one wonders why they couldn't have used a slow loris instead.
The characters in Out There are human (by extension of background elements depicting humans and referring to humans as themselves) but they don't look too human at all, in fact most are fairly ambiguous in terms of species and the lead character Chad and his family look nothing like the others, instead being less ambiguous and looking more like very hairy rodents but still of indeterminate species and considered as part of the same species as the rest: "human".
Although mutated from ordinary turtles into the crime-fighting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles they are today, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael have little to no resemblance towards any real world turtle species other than their nondescript shells, looking more like green-skinned, humanoids with three-fingered hands. This despite the fact that most turtles (besides sea turtles) have five claws.
Super Friends 1973-74 episode "Dr. Pelagian's War". The title character sends three marine creatures to attack Superman and Aquaman. Both characters call the creatures "whales" (and Superman says "killer whales") but it's blatantly obvious that they're actually large sharks.
In "The Devil and Daniel Mouse" the devil's associate Weez Weezel looks more like a wolf or coyote than a weasel.
Preston from Wallace & Gromit: A Close Shave is supposed to be a bulldog, but he is not identifiable as such. Although it may be justified in that he is a robot.
The eponymous Fat Dog Mendoza doesn't look very dog-like. He's orange, with a spherical body, four stubby legs, a long flexible tail and a vaguely human face that covers half the front of his body.
Antoine from Sonic SatAM is one of these. This was even called out in a reader's letter in the Archie comic. It was established a while ago that he's a coyote. But for years (pre-Internet), the same question was asked as to what species Sally was, until she was established as a squirrel-chipmunk hybrid. Or a ground squirrel. Or a ground squirrel/chipmunk hybrid. We think.
The crocodiles from the Disney classic short "Pluto at the Zoo". Their thin snouts indicate they could be freshwater crocodiles or slender-snouted crocodiles, but they are much larger than both species.
SwaySway and Buhdeuce from Bread Winners are identified as ducks but they look like frogs with noodle arms and orange mouths.
The emu from the Mickey Mouse short "Mickey Down Under" more closely resembles an African ostrich.
Belfry from Filmation's Ghostbusters is a bat, however he looks like a fanged pig with wings.
The main trio of Mega Babies look more like colored monsters or space aliens than human beings.
Yehudi the chameleon in the 1944 Wartime Cartoon "Camouflage," looks more like a generic green and white lizard than any chameleon.
Word of God stated Larry is a rock-man, but looks more like he's made of origami.
Ocho doesn't look much like a spider: he only has two human-like eyes, a single body segment, and four legs. Justified as he's originally a video game character in-universe.
Darwin's rounded face and tailfin make him more resembles an orange blobfish than a goldfish.
Penny is a shelled peanut with antlers, but her first season design only has one chamber, making her look more like a coconut or walnut. Her design from the second season on has two chambers.
Miss Simian is supposed to some kind of primate, but her specific combination of features don't match any real species. She most closely resembles a chimpanzee with a tail. In "The Compilation", she identifies herself as "the missing link".
Molly is supposed to be a sauropod, but she looks more like some sort of Cartoon Creature.
The protagonists of Catscratch are cats however Mr Blik and Waffle barely resemble cats. They're bipedal and have skinny, long ears. They resemble rabbits more than cats, especially Waffles with his floppy ones.
The dwarves mounts are referred to as ponies, they look more like mules, but they are heard to neigh.
Viewers would be hard-pressed to recognize Smaug as a dragon if he weren't referred to as such in-universe. Instead he looks more like a winged serpentine cat thing, barely resembling his description in the book.
By as early as the short "The New Car", Flip the Frog was using two distinct designs between his piano-playing introduction and the character acting in the show proper, the latter barely resembling a frog. Later shorts which changed the intro to match the new design just made his species more ambiguous.
Subverted with the titular dog from Family Dog, at least in the original, more lavishly-drawn Amazing Stories episode. If you just looked at a still image of it, you'd think it was a rat, but it's animation is distinctly dog-like.
Perry's behavior and appearance in general is nothing like that of normal platypodes (yes, that's the plural). He doesn't have webbed hands/front feet and his tail is more like a beaver's (the platypus is covered in fur all but for their bills and feet). Overlooking all this is seemingly played for Rule of Cool, though.
The alligators that appear in the series are more evidently crocodiles, having the lower teeth visible when the mouth is closed and V-shaped snouts.
The blind cave salamander from "Phineas and Ferb Save Summer" doesn't resemble any known species, instead looking more like a surface-world salamander with gills looking more like those of a fish. And while it is correctly described as lacking eyes, it is drawn as looking like it has Eyes Always Shut instead.
In "Mandace", Doofenshmirtz turns into a dinosaur that he calls a Velociraptor, but it doesn't remotely resemble Velociraptor in that it not only lacks feathers (as usual) but also doesn't even have the iconic killing claws on its feet. Although this could be justified considering this is Doofenshmirtz.
Despite being labeled as a Spinosaurus, Fionna's dinosaur form doesn't really resemble such. Her snout is too straight and curved downward, her sail is misshapen and is treated as a flexible flap of skin, her hindlegs are too long and shaped like a dog's, and she has a bizarre crest on her head. Plus, she's smaller than Max's Tyrannosaurus rex form.
Rodger's dinosaur form is supposed to be a Styracosaurus. While he has the distinctive long spikes protruding from his frill, he also has long brow horns and a shorter one on his nose like a Triceratops.
Caruso's Stegosaurus form has a face more like a lizard's than a real Stegosaurus.
Buzz's Pteranodon form barely looks like the real animal; he has a slightly longer tail, dog-like hindlimbs, two small wing-claws instead of three (though he sometimes has three claws in some scenes), a notch in the underside of the crest, and a saw-edged bill that's hooked at the tip.
And let's not get started with the Velociraptors Victor Veloci and Ms. Moynihan, whose designs are basically copied off from Jurassic Park.
The first episode had a shark mutating into what was identified as a megalodon, but it looked nothing like a giant shark and was more like a long-tailed pliosaur instead.
One episode had a primate which is identified as a baby gorilla, which gets mutated into a "gorilla-saurus". Said baby gorilla is drawn with a tail, making it look like a monkey instead.
Another episode had hedgehogs which looked more like yellow echidnas.
Big Mitch from the 2007 remake of George of the Jungle is supposed to be a marmoset, but strongly resembles a golden lion tamarin which has yellow fur and a mane covering around its face hence its namesake. However, this may be because golden lion tamarins are also known as golden marmosets.
Iwao Takamoto intentionally designed Scooby-Doo to only vaguely resemble a Great Dane. He consulted a breeder of Great Danes and subverted many of the usual physical features for Rule of Funny.
A rather confusing example comes from Dave the Barbarian. A Running Gag in the show is that Fang (who is human and looks like one) is often mistaken for a monkey (NOT A MONKEY!). In the aptly titled "Not a Monkey", a doctor diagnoses Fang with a disease that only monkeys get, and while searching for the cure, she encounters a group of monkeys◊ that do bear a striking resemblance to her. Monkeys with ponytails? Why not?
The Goof Troop episode "Clan of the Cave Goof" had a dinosaur resembling an outdated tripod-stanced tyrannosaur which was referred to as a Brontosaurus. It didn't help it was shown eating meat, despite Goofy correctly pointing out Brontosaurus are herbivores.
While Snowball II is identifiable as a cat, her very stylized design makes her vaguely resemble one. The same goes for the cats owned by the Crazy Cat Lady.
The squirrels, chipmunks, guinea pigs and rabbits throughout the show have faces that look nothing like in real life, usually looking vaguely humanoid with button noses. Although some more realistic ones have been seen.
Captain Jack from "Kill the Alligator and Run" is not quite identifiable as an alligator since his snout is not wide enough, his lower teeth stick out when his mouth is closed, and he's green instead of gray.
"Whistler's Father" featured toucans which possess cockatoo-like crests on their heads, but they otherwise look like actual toucans.