The Beagle Boys, and real beagles...
not seeing it.
"Here's Sonic the Hedgehog, rolling at high speed through a cartoon world just like real-life hedgehogs don't."
Sometimes, whether due to a specific visual style or use of anthropomorphism
, a character who belongs to a clearly-identified Real Life
species ends up looking nothing like what that species actually does.
Some examples are understandable and forgivable, especially if they are also an example of Seldom Seen Species
but for the most part Tropes Are Tools
and so is making a character look less like their real world species counterpart due to The Law of Conservation of Detail
, being able to tell a story easier (as Most Writers Are Human
) and sometimes simply because it looks cool
. Viewer Species Confusion
is a subtrope based on the audience reaction to a creature and I Am Not Weasel
for in-universe reactions.
This is related to the Cartoon Creature
(whose actual species is entirely ambiguous), and Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit"
(which is about the name
of their species, and not the species itself).
Many older examples of Seldom Seen Species
look and act very little (or nothing) like their Real Life
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Anime and Manga
- The tanukis in Animal Land look less like real life tanukis and more like small humans in bear-like costumes.
- One episode of Bumpety Boo involved a Killer Gorilla, which looked little like a gorilla and resembled a Bigfoot instead.
- In NEEDLESS, Miu's "teddy bear" is actually a rabbit, except it looks like a teddy bear, not a rabbit. Even the characters are like "That's a RABBIT???" upon finding out.
- Plue from Rave Master is supposedly a dog. Despite not having any ears, having a drill as a nose, loves lollipop candies, can walk on two legs, and deflates when exposed to hot water, Plue is a dog. Elie thought Plue is an insect instead.
- Cerebus, in the very early issues, looked reasonably like a bipedal aardvark, but as the comic progressed and Dave Sim's art improved, Cerebus looked less and less like an aardvark and more like a gray pig-creature.
- Guess which species these◊ two◊ characters from German comic Fix & Foxi are supposed to be. The first one's a wolf - his name "Lupo" should be a hint - and the second one a raven, but honestly, could you have told?
- The picture of Undertow, the Pristichampsus in Nathanoraptor's Ice Age 5 fanfic, on the author's deviantART page, reveals he looks more like a featherless Velociraptor than a Pristichampsus, or even anything vaguely crocodilian.
- Narf the Mouse from Zany To The Max. He only looks somewhat like a mouse. In fact, he doesn't look at all like a mouse except for his ears, tail, and buck teeth! He doesn't even have visible arms!
- Most cartoon fireflies look nothing like their real-life counterparts, the only indication of such being a firefly is the light on its abdomen.
- Most cartoon fleas look nothing like their real-life counterparts, instead looking like nondescript cartoon "bugs" or even tiny human-like creatures.
- Most reindeer appearing in many Christmas specials look absolutely nothing like their real-life counterparts, instead looking more like mule deer, roe deer, or white tailed deer.
- Most media depictions of Velociraptor look more like the larger Deinonychus or Utahraptor than the real dinosaur, which has a long narrow snout. For more information, see Raptor Attack.
- Most media depictions of pterosaurs look practically nothing like the real animals. Common errors include leathery bat-like wings (the wing structure of pterosaurs was actually quite different from that of any extant flying vertebrate), teeth and long bony tails in genera that lacked either of these features, grasping talons like those of a bird of prey (as far as we can tell from fossils pterosaur feet seem highly unsuitable for grasping), and a covering of scales instead of pycnofibres (pycnofibres being the fur-like structures that many, if not all pterosaurs were coated with in life).
- Most cartoon alligators look more like crocodiles, often having thinner snouts and the lower teeth visible when their mouths are closed.
- Many cartoon carnivores - occasionally even cats! - are drawn with pointed noses. Civets, raccoons, foxes, meerkats and to some extent weasels, badgers, and skunks do have these features - but dogs, bears (black bears have a somewhat pointed snout and are usually depicted with blunter snouts than in real life), and seals have much blunter snouts than they're commonly expected to have. And cats, of course, probably have the most human-looking faces of any mammals except primates.
- Many cartoon catfishes and dogfishes are often depicted as a cross between a fish and a cat or dog respectively.
- Many animals in the various Dr. Seuss books.
- Rare plant example: The clovers in Horton Hears a Who! actually look more like pink dandelions than actual clovers.
Live Action TV
- In Power Rangers, Animal Mecha often don't look much like the animal they're supposed to be. However, sometimes, the zord's name was changed from Super Sentai, where it resembles the animal it was originally named for (Power Rangers RPM especially, where a lot of the less Badass animal motifs in Engine Sentai Go-onger were renamed but you can't do anything about the sentai Stock Footage).
- Cat from Red Dwarf is a highly humanoid creature with absolutely no visual clues as to his real species. However, Cat is actually stated to be a creature evolved from the spectacularly inbred descendants of Lister's pet cat.
- Lampshaded in Bloom County that eventually Opus looked more like a puffin than a penguin.
- Garfield looked reasonably enough like a chubby cat in the earlier comics. His more recent incarnations appear to look less obstinately feline, but he still looks somewhat reasonably like a feline.
- Also, Odie, who Jim Davis declared to be a beagle but is even less similar to it than Snoopy. (in the live-action movies he's a dachshund; in this strip◊, Garfield declares he's a "purebred clown")
- Krazy Kat is not readily identifiable as a cat. (S)he looks somewhat like Yakko, Wakko, and Dot from Animaniacs, but with a flesh-colored face and pink nose, and may be the inspiration for Mooch from Mutts.
- Mooch the cat from Mutts is not readily identifiable as a cat and looks rather like◊ Yakko Warner◊ from Animaniacs, except with smaller, more pointed ears, a bigger nose, and without the cheek tufts and tan colored pants. The resemblance would be even more noticeable if Mooch were drawn in the same style Yakko is drawn, or if Yakko were drawn in the same style Mooch is drawn.
- Peanuts: More of an informed breed, but Snoopy and his brothers look nothing like real beagles. Notably Snoopy wasn't originally intended to be a beagle, and even denied being one in an early strip.
- Winslow from Prickly City is supposed to be a coyote pup, but he looks more like a cross between a bobcat and a Cairn Terrier.
- The University of Minnesota's mascot, Goldy Gopher doesn't look much like a gopher. Upon consultation the conclusion was he looks more like a chipmunk.
- Many animals in Transformers are informed species. Birds in general often fall victim to this, as do most cats. The toys of feline characters tend to fall into a very similar (but not actually resembling any actual cat) build.
- In BIONICLE's 2007 line, the Barraki have launchers used to fire squids that look more like lampreys than actual squids and are also stated to be vampiric like the latter.
- Given that seeing a lion in 18th century Brazil was difficult, the ones made by local sculptor Aleijadinho looked like monkeys◊ - most notably in his statue of Daniel◊ in a series with The Bible's prophets. (which also includes another example, the whale carved on Jonah's statue◊)
- Earl Sinclair is said to be a Megalosaurus, but looks nothing like the actual dinosaur.
- Likewise, his wife Fran is supposed to be an Allosaurus. Allosaurus never had that Dilophosaurus-like crest on its head.
- B. P. Richfield is meant to be a Triceratops, but has the spiky frill of a Styracosaurus.
- It's a Big Big World:
- Snook is supposed to be a modern-day tree sloth, but he looks more like a prehistoric ground sloth instead.
- Bob is supposed to be a Tarmandua, a type of anteater, but looks more like a cross between Gonzo and a cat.
- The Muppets:
- Fozzie Bear is hard to identify as a bear; he has more of a toy teddy bear or even koala look to him while other Muppet bears like Bobo look like actual bears.
- Pepe — if he didn't tell you he was a king prawn would you have any idea what he was? He's clearly some kind of crustacean, so...they got us to "within a subphylum", anyway.
- Sesame Street:
- An animated music video about animal families featured featured a chickadee as one of the featured animals, but the chickadee looked more like an Baltimore oriole (a bright orange bird) than an actual chickadee (actual chickadees have gray bodies, black heads, and white cheeks).
- Rosita was meant to be a fruit bat but she looks more like a blue Elmo or a mutated flying squirrel than a bat. After 13 years they removed her wing flaps and retconned her into being a Monster. The in-series reason for this is that she 'lost' her wings while flying through a cave.
- Big Bird looked much more like an actual bird in the beginning - and even then, he never looked as avian as his sidekick Little Bird.
- Carson the Muskrat in Dork Tower. He looks more like Snoopy than like an actual muskrat. This is lampshaded in one strip where he goes as himself to a costume event and gets told "Worst muskrat costume ever!"
- In Narbonic, none of Helen's gerbils look anything like real gerbils. Whether they look like in-universe gerbils that are not the creations of a Mad Scientist varies between strips.