All Animals Are Domesticated
Do not attempt to pet the dingos. Do not attempt to play with the dingos. Do not throw squeaky toys to the fucking dingos or attempt to sneak scraps of food to the fucking dingos from the dinner table. If a fucking dingo follows you home, you should not keep it. DO NOT LET A DINGO PLAY WITH YOUR INFANT.
In fiction, wild animals rarely act the way that they do in real life. Those hilarious Plucky Comic Relief
chimpanzees and their hilarious antics? Never once do they get violent, no matter what (they may get mad for the hero's benefit, though). When animals do get mad, they're usually easily calmed down if just given whatever MacGuffin
is necessary. Is a bear rampaging through town? Just give it some honey and everything will be OK. Being a Friend to All Living Things
can help, but surprisingly often it seems like nearly anyone can calm down a wild animal.
Part of the cause of this is simply that animal sidekicks are really adorable
(and loyal wild animal companions are cool in itself
), but most of the more interesting ones are not of domesticated species, and the only rational way for the hero to get one is from the wild. Taming an adult animal is far more trouble than it's worth. Even taming a baby one never does much for softening its wild instincts. (Incidentally, reptiles are not
actually domesticated; they adjust to captivity
well given the right temperatures and food, but can't really be trained and are often unpredictable.)
Another strong factor is the huge number of YouTube
videos available showing 'wild' foxes (red white and yellow) canines (coyotes, dingos, hybrids of all types) and smaller cats (up to lynx size, though you do find the occasional cougar) living in apparent domestic tranquility. There are also an increasingly large number of wildlife sanctuaries where you can go along and 'pet a wolf'. Again, most people tend to miss that these animals only behave like pets around people they know
, usually have their own 'play/sleep room' (that they trash) and are extremely difficult/expensive to look after. The domestication is usually only partial and not hereditary, and you're only seeing the successful cases. That ambassador wolf who shoves his head into your lap and rolls over begging for you to pet his tummy? Almost certainly 50% of the animals at such places would simply run away if given the chance, and 90% of the rest will eventually bite you. The keepers picked this one for a reason.
Unfortunately, there are a depressing number of people who think this is Truth in Television
and are apparently under the impression that nature is just a bigger version of Disneyland
. This usually does not end well...
Note that "domesticated" means "genetically-altered to meet human needs", not "tamed". Until very recently, this meant intentional or unintentional selective breeding. A feral housecat is domesticated, but a trained bear is not. Also, there are
some animal species that can be somewhat successfully tamed or trained if not entirely
domesticated, usually due to a combination of small size (meaning even if they do act out they generally aren't threatening to teen or adult human life), intelligence (meaning training can be successful), and/or partial breeding for those traits and friendliness to humans. Some good examples would be most small rodents (mice, also including rats/prairie dogs/gophers/squirrels/small moles if raised from birth by humans and trained, though their natural instincts to dig and hoard need to be accounted for), skunks (if deodorized + spayed/neutered + vaccinated against rabies and having been raised with humans from birth), and some small monkeys (in their case, if raised properly alongside humans, which means no
fear-based training, raising/training much as one would a human baby/toddler), with the one larger example being some wolf-hybrid dogs (those that have docility and intelligence bred as traits). Of course, most of these, with the exception of small rodents like mice, require specialized training for their trainers/owners as well in how
to train and care for them, so you can't just go and pet a wild skunk or let your female dog mate with a wolf at random or bring that monkey stealing oranges from the fruit stand into your home, either.
Compare All Animals Are Dogs
, which is about non-canine animals exhibiting doggy mannerisms. Also see Domesticated Dinosaurs
for what happens when this trope is combined with Everything's Better with Dinosaurs
. Contrast Everything Trying to Kill You
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Anime and Manga
- In Wolf's Rain. this trope is tragically proven false with Toboe, who accidentally killed the kind old lady who took him in and tried to raise as a pet. It is violently fought by other characters in the series.
- Azumanga Daioh has a Running Gag in which Sakaki tries to pet a feral cat and is inevitably bitten. It's actually a little surprising she's ever able to get that close in the first place, since feral cats usually run away whenever humans make any concerted movement toward them. Later in the series it's revealed that the cat Sakaki keeps trying to pet is a dominant tom over a colony of around a dozen other feral cats, and thus is not only unafraid of humans, but capable of fighting them in a surprisingly effective waynote . This actually happens to Sakaki in a later episode, where she is cornered by the tom and his fellow cats in an alley and ends up pretty badly scratched (especially since she wouldn't fight back). Later the cats surround her again, clearly intending to attack, only to be driven off by the solitary (and at that point extremely hungry and dehydrated) Iriomote kitten she later names "Mayaa", the Okinawan word for "(wild?)cat".
- The series also uses this trope when Sakaki meets Mayaa, an Iriomote Cat in Okinawa. In spite of it being a wild, meat-eating beast, Sakaki can pet it, hold it, and Mayaa both follows her home and doesn't really show any more violent behaviour than a normal housecat probably due to Rule of Funny, since while Mayaa behaves like a house cat towards Sakaki, the domesticated house cats behave more like wild animals towards her, creating an example and an inversion of this trope at the same time, and Word of God says that house cats (including feral ones) see Sakaki as being large and intimidating, which frightens them, but those same qualities remind Mayaa of his mother who was killed in a car accident.
- The manga Wild Cats (not to be confused with Wild Cats) features a tame lion named Caesar (incidentally, a female) as the protagonist. The little boy who adopted her as a cub believed she was just a large house cat, and kept her even after learning the truth. Caesar grows up to be cowardly, shy, and is somewhere between a cat and a dog in her behavior.
- Subverted by Byakuen of Ronin Warriors. At first, he looks like a tamed tiger following Ryo around, but upon closer inspection, his brown eyes hint at his true nature as a re-incarnated human. Future behavior points to him being a priest like Kaosu and Shiten.
Films — Animation
- Pocahontas: Playing with a mother bear's cubs right in front of her? That's a brilliant idea!
- The film How to Train Your Dragon (as well as the spin-off series Dragons: Riders of Berk) is a subversion of this. While the dragons can be trained/tamed, they are not domesticated and wild dragons are considered extremely dangerous. It actually takes Hiccup several days just to earn Toothless's trust before he could approach the dragon much less ride him.
- Balto is a stray wolf-dog hybrid with little socialization from with either humans nor dogs yet treated as perfectly tame. First generation wolfdogs are notoriously unpredictable and can be aggressive, likewise with feral dogs. Balto is both making peoples distrust of him less like Fantastic Racism and more legit. The real Balto was a trained Husky (possibly a Malamute)
Films — Live-Action
- Help!! has a zoo tiger that is theoretically man-eating - unless everyone sings Beethoven's Ode to Joy in German. Everyone does, and it never lays a paw on Ringo.
- Pirates of the Caribbean features a monkey who runs around and helps...usually Barbossa, but he's a bit of a mercenary. As the commentators of the DVDs are quick to tell you, that monkey was not nearly so helpful, friendly, fun, or cute for the filming process and we are seeing only the best bits.
- A similar tale is told of dealing with the monkey in Raiders of the Lost Ark, which took a violent dislike to the actor playing its best buddy in the movie.
- Subverted in Bringing Up Baby. Baby the leopard is fairly docile most of the time, but most of the cast is well aware that he is still a large and potentially dangerous animal that could do some damage if unhappy. Played straight when everyone mistakes a temperamental and vicious circus leopard for the tame Baby.
- The documentary Grizzly Man averts this trope: Cloud Cuckoo Lander Timothy Treadwell spends thirteen summers hanging out with grizzly bears, respectfully admiring the bears from afar. It was only after spending season after season around the same pair that he was able to get closer and closer to them, to where they were comfortable with him cuddling with them. He'd probably have been lauded as a semi-deluded but amazing documentarian, but after one season he missed a plane out of Alaska and decided to go back to the woods. He encountered another set of bears, one he'd never seen before, but assumed he would be just as "in touch" with them as the pair he'd known for near a decade.
- Both used and inverted in Secondhand Lions. The protagonist's rich uncles buy a retired circus lion to hunt, but when they see how old and pathetic it is, they let the kid keep it as a pet. He feeds her through her crate and is afraid when she escapes. After that she just moves into the cornfield and the kid continues to feed her. He's never shown petting the lion or otherwise interacting directly with her, she's treated fairly realistically as an animal that needs a lot of space and can't be fully tamed. The lion's only other action in the movie is to attack someone threatening the boy, and apparently die of a heart attack during the excitement.
- Many of the misguided exotic-animal owners on Animal Planet's Fatal Attractions are Truth in Television examples of how mistaking this trope for reality can get you killed or maimed. Unfortunately, the show ruins the reputation for people that actually can deal with such animals as pets, to the point the movement has gone way too far.
- One episode of Endgame revolved around a man who keeps a polar bear as a pet. When the bear was just a cub everything was fine but the bear grew up and now is becoming a major problem. The bear is getting too big to be kept in the garage and the owner has gone broke trying to feed it. The protagonists ultimately manage to keep everyone safe and have the bear transferred to wildlife refuge in the Arctic. At the end the owner still does not fully understand how stupid and unintentionally cruel he was.
- The Hardy Boys Nancy Drew Mysteries notably averts this in "Mystery of Witches Hollow", where a trained panther is guarding a missing man (Callie Shaw's uncle) that the Hardys are trying to find. A very nervous Joe Hardy tries to trap it (the cat snarling, attacking, and decidedly NOT cooperating) by working a broom under its collar, but only succeeds in making it angry and attacking until the uncle distracts the hungry panther with a piece of meat — also warns both Frank & Joe to keep away & that it's not a house pet. Joe (ie, the actor Shaun Cassidy) looks far too relieved when he finally succeeds — Enforced Method Acting, perhaps?
- In Foundation and Earth, the main characters visit a formerly inhabited planet. When one of them encounters a dog, it takes him quite a while to understand it can be dangerous - and then he spends half a chapter (sitting on a tree, naturally) reflecting upon how there is no dangerous fauna (or flora, it seems) after twenty thousand years of the man taking care of the Galaxy.
- A nasty subversion occurs in Oryx and Crake with the wolvogs, which are genetically engineered guard dogs. They look like dogs and act like dogs, even wagging their tails and playing like housepets, but if you get near them, they'll rip your throat out in a heartbeat.
- Ayla in Jean Auel's Earths Children saga has, as one of her many, many awesome abilities, managed to tame not only a wild horse but a cave lion, a pet wolf and by the end of the series the horse's two foals.
- Marc in The Sky People rescues a greatwolf pup early on and trains him. A couple of characters point out how dangerous that should be, but otherwise the trope is played straight: Right from the get-go Tahyo behaves like a normal, very loyal dog (albeit a very large one.) He even behaves well around small children.
- A Game of Thrones (and the TV series) has each of the Stark children given a dire wolf pup because it's the symbol of their house. Most of them turn out alright, but Shaggydog, four-year-old Rickon's dire wolf, winds up semi-feral not unlike his owner, who grows increasingly wild from lack of parental supervision.
- In Harry Potter, Hagrid believes this trope is true, though it's averted. This is Played for Laughs as Hagrid attempts to take care of several species of magical wild animals. He usually names them something ridiculous (like Fluffy the three-headed dog) and incurs many, many injuries for his trouble.
- Defied in Life of Pi. Pi and his brother live at a zoo, so their father makes damned sure the kids know that the animals are dangerous and are not their playmates. He does this by not feeding a tiger for three days, then making them watch as he feeds it a live goat, then going around to every animal in the zoo and explaining in graphic detail how they can maim and kill you. Pi takes this knowledge to heart, and it's a big reason why he's able to survive for so long on a lifeboat with said tiger.
- Mark Trail, which purports to educate readers about nature and responsible respect for wildlife, regularly features characters who keep raccoons, deer, even bears for pets. However, it makes it clear that the specific pet animals shown have been domesticated, often having plotlines where the tame bear or deer gets lost in the woods and is completely clueless about how to fend for itself.
- Averted in Calvin and Hobbes in which Calvin frequently warns others of Hobbes' ferocity; but played straight with Mr. Bun.
- Heavily used, probably justified in Pokémon. Every single one of these superpowered magical beasts, based on everything from pot plants to jellyfish to dinosaurs and dragons, can be relatively easily captured, instantly tamed and may well come to act like a family pet. And why yes, this does mean you can have various kinds of giant monsters acting like a friendly dog.
- Don't mess with a wild one, though.
- The Pokémon anime plays it straight and averts it a lot, especially for certain species of Pokemon (like Ursaring, Metagross, Crawdaunt, and many other rough and beastly Pokemon) and especially Olympus Mons. You'll never see Mewtwo, Lugia, Rayquaza, Arceus, or Zekrom even remotely act domesticated.
- Slight aversion: Traded Pokémon (that is, tamed by a different human) at high levels may ignore your authority and act independently until you prove your "dominance"... with gym badges.
- The games also avert it in that captured Pokemon start with low affection. You're not instantly friends with them, just their trainers. You need to gain their trust though The Power of Friendship, and even then your trustworthy Pokemon can ignore you if they don't see you as worthy of being obeyed (IE, you don't have the right badges).
- World of Warcraft plays this straight with the Hunter class and their "Tame" ability. Granted, some animals can't be tamed no matter what, and there's always a risk of being killed by a prospective pet, but once that's over with, you've got yourself a faithful companion be it a wild lion or ravenous hyena... or a giant devilsaur.
- In some of the "classic" Crash Bandicoot games you can befriend and ride a (baby) tiger or dinosaur.
- Defied in The Last of Us, when Ellie excitedly points out some dogs in an abandoned suburb, Joel warns her that those are wild dogs and she needs to keep her distance (the dogs run away as you approach).
- Subverted in Penny and Aggie, where this happens.
- Housepets!: While the wolves moving into the neighborhood caused quite a stir, they're friendly enough and seem to be able to integrate without too much trouble. They're all sapient however, so it works.
- Subverted in an episode of Justice League, when a depowered Superman (transported thousands of years into Earth's future by what was believed to be a Death Ray) is confronted by a pack of post-apocalyptic wolf creatures. He first tries to command them to stand down using all of the typical trained dog orders (stay, sit, heel, etc.), but they don't listen. It's only after he fights them off, kills their Alpha, and makes a coat out of its hide that they finally listen to him (and act much more like domesticated sled dogs, as a result).
- Occasionally appears in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, but mostly through Fluttershy - a combination of strong Animal Affinity and a super-powered Death Glare allow her to tame bugs, bears, and dragons, to name a few.
- Averted in an episode of The Wild Thornberrys; even though Eliza can talk to animals and understand them, she brings a bottle of water to a mother cheetah and her cubs because they are suffering from an extended drought. After drinking the momma cheetah now wants to hunt the slowest prey that she can see, namely Eliza. Only a last second save keeps the girl from being cheetah-chow.
- Some scientists in Russia were working on a fox farm that was raising foxes for fur, doing "behavioral experiments". The USSR didn't really care or pay too much attention to what exactly the scientists did with the foxes as long as they kept getting fur and something that looked like data from experiments, so the scientists decided to start breeding them. They selected the foxes that avoided humans the least, and bred those. For generations. Around generation six they started noticing that out of each litter some foxes acted ... well, like dogs. They not only weren't avoiding humans, they were actively seeking out humans and would run right up to the cage door when a human came by. And then one of the scientists started taking one home for the weekends. Looks like a fox, behaves like a dog, right down to coming when called. They even started barking, which was weird, because foxes don't bark. (Of course, neither do wolves...) The surprising thing is that a fair amount of these foxes are piebald, a trait that we associate with domesticated animals... and it all happened within a single human lifetime of selective breeding. They weren't even trying for domesticated (and certainly not for piebald!) foxes, they just wanted to see what happened if you bred for not-afraid-of-people-ness. Among other things, it makes it plausible that our domesticated animals were domesticated in a much shorter period of time than had been previously thought (though even the "tame" foxes occasionally have offspring that are essentially normal feral foxes; breeding out the "wildness" in, say, dogs to the point where it breeds true probably took quite a bit longer), and it's possible that the wolves started the process themselves (the wolves least afraid of humans would run the shortest distance away when the people came to dump their scraps, or wouldn't run at all, so they'd get the most food, and have the best odds of surviving to breed).