Much like Monkeys, Penguins and Pandas, the duck-billed platypus has achieved a certain level of popularity.
The platypus is probably the most iconic aquatic Australian mammal; many advertisements for pools, swimming lessons and fishing gear will use one. It is also used on the Australian 20-cent piece.
Some believe that the platypus proves God has a sense of humor, or He's a total psycho, or He's rockin' the ganj, or that evolution is 100% real, because not even God could make that nonsense up. The reasons are myriad. This is an animal that, upon being sent to a British natural history museum to catalog, was believed to be a taxidermist's prank until a live specimen was sent to them. It looks like a beaver crossed with a mole with a duck's bill added for laughs. They belong to a group of mammals known as Monotremes, a group consisting of it and the echidna, which means they lay eggs. Additionally, they're an offshoot of mammals that evolved before teats/nipples evolved, so while they produce milk, they simply... sweat it out for their young to lap up. They also have ten sex chromosomes, where in most mammals there're simply two (X and Y). And their duck-bill? It's actually quite soft, and it acts as an electrical receptor. See, platypus eyes aren't too useful, especially underwater, so they use an electrolocation system in their bills to hunt shrimp and other aquatic invertebrates. Sharks have a similar sense, in case they weren't scary enough. Of course, a real platypus tail looks nothing like a beaver's tail, but that doesn't stop the majority of cartoon depictions from showing one anyway, often complete with thumping behavior.
And to top it off, they're venomous. Yup, male platypi have venomous spurs on their feet, and while not lethal to humans, the cocktail of venom will usually incapacitate people, and can cause you to be in excruciating, incapacitating pain that can develop into a persistent ache for weeks or months. So it won't kill you, but you'll wish it did.
So, in short, it's easy to see how humans can become so interested in this goofy-looking creature. Odd appearance, cool features, and the ability to cripple you if you get stupid. What better metaphor for Australia? And it's an Inherently Funny Word. And they swim weirdly. Also, baby playtpi are called "puggles," which is quite possibly the cutest word ever invented, and have been called so since before pugs were crossed with beagles to make the dog breed of the same name (Note: This isn't the official name for a baby platypus, just the most commonly used one. Another just-as-adorable name is "Platypup".).
All good things must come to an end, however. This is slowly becoming a Discredited Trope, because it's gotten so that the platypus has become too popular to be considered "obscure" anymore. When a show is supposed to start including a "weird animal" in its cast, expect it to be a platypus.
Plus, if you want to talk about them in the plural, expect to confound linguists until the end of time. Is it Platypusses? "Platypi?" ''Platypeople''? Whatever. Platypodes, platypi, and platypuses are all acceptable spellings. ("Platypus" being a Latinization of the original Greek word, "platypodes" is correctly regular, and "platypi," with a Latin second-declensionending, is commonly considered incorrect in the same way as "octopi" despite the fact that the second-declension inflection for the Greek-derived "-pus" is also perfectly grammatical in Classical Latin, as seen in various attested forms as "Oedipi" ("Oedipus"), "coronopum" ("coronopus"), "polyporum" ("polypus"). Guess how many people care.)
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Anime & Manga
Ranma One Half: In one arc, show up giant platypus. And they were awesome (and cute).
The main character of Toto l'ornithorynque, which has not been translated into English.
The movie Dogma opens with a disclaimer that religious people who may be offended by the film look at the duck-billed platypus and consider that God must have a sense of humor. This is followed by another disclaimer, apologizing to the "noble" platypus and emphasizing that "it is not our intention to slight these stupid creatures in any way."
Umberto Eco wrote a book called Kant and the Platypus: Essays on Language and Cognition. He noted in the very beginning that Immanuel Kant had nothing really to do with platypus, but it's just a good title.
The Last Continent promises that readers may find out why the duck-billed platypus. Not why anything, just... why. As it turns out the wizards, stuck in the past Fourecks decide to help the local god in creating new species, by drawing a duck on a rock, but can't really reach consensus on what a duck looks like. The Platypus results from their squabble, playing to the old joke that the Platypus is a duck designed by a committee.
In Dot and the Kangaroo, the platypus is described as "the wisest animal in the bush" and helps Dot find her way home. He and his wife also sing a song based on their latin name.
The Tortall Universe book In the Realms of the Gods has a platypus - er, duckmole god as a fairly major character. His name is Broad Foot.
Duckmole was an early name for the platypus given to it by british settlers.
The Areas of My Expertise, when discussing animal attack movies, suggests that one could be made where all animals attack all humans, because the scene with the platypus alone would be worth the price of admission.
In the sequel, More Information Than You Require, the author claims that someone else is now making this movie. Because it's so vague a premise, he is not going to sue, but only asks that he be given a cameo as the guy who gets killed by the duckbilled platypus. IT'S ONLY FAIR.
There is a child's book featuring a lost platypus with the other animal characters picking up on his individual features and assuring him that he's a duck, a rabbit, a frog, etc. The story ends with him finding his place in life. As a sideshow freak.
A short story, "The Platypus of Doom," collected in The Platypus of Doom and Other Nihilists, featured the narrator seeking to have a wish granted by the all-powerful Platypus of Doom. Who, unfortunately, admitted that there's a difference between "all-powerful" and "ALL-POWERFUL," and therefore he couldn't grant the original wish.
Ogden Nash wrote a short poem called "The Platypus":
I like the duck-billed platypus Because it is anomalous. I like the way it raises its family, Partly birdly, partly mammally. I like its independent attitude. Let no one call it a duck-billed platitude.
A "Safari Solitaire" sketch on HBO's BrainGames had a platypus as its (correct) answer, and the narrator went into great length to describe how the platypus "lays eggs like a bird, nurses its young like a mammal, and the male has venom like a snake."
Green Day doesn't seem to share this opinion, judging by the band's song "Platypus (I Hate You)".
Rolf Harris's dying stockman in "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" sings:
Mind me platypus duck, Bill Mind me platypus duck Don't let it go running amuck, Bill Just mind me platypus duck.
Commonly used theme by the band Flobots, in such songs as Handlebars, The Moon, No W... Hell, one of their albums is even called Flobots Present: Platypus.
The musical Prozak and the Platypus is about a depressed young woman trying to deal with Parental Abandonment (her mother is dead and her scientist father is distant both emotionally and physically). It also has a platypus as a major character. Why not.
Oddly enough, it doesn't have a tail- one of the platypus' defining features.
The Webkinz stuffed animal line has an animal known as a "Googles" which is basically a platypus with no tail and only two flippers. It has yet to retire, can easily be considered one of the cutest in their line, and comes in three different colors.
The plot of the Flash game Cellcraft involves platypi from outer space.
More specifically, it posits that this is the actual origin of platypi; their planet was in for a major, extinction-level cataclysm, so platypus genetics were encoded into some microbes. The goal of the game is to breed microbes that can take what Earth has to throw at them.
Cuz from Gex 3 is an overweight platypus in a hawaiian shirt.
The development team for Academagia and its fanbase are in full agreement with this trope. The ability to have a platypus Familiar was later patched in to the base game.
Chaz "Platypus" Villette from Shadow Unit: bizarre and hard to explain even compared to others with freaky mutant powers, unexpectedly dangerous, looks sort of like he was put together from spare parts, and capable of eating half his body weight in a day. Not too much of a stretch, really.
Platypus Comix, named so merely because creator Peter Paltridge thought it would be a funny name for a comic publisher.
WTB Dignity has Kel'thar (better known as Frumpy), a cranky but adorable platypus with a spiked collar, who is revealed as ranger Kylianna's animal companion. Though Kylianna thinks he's "kind of useless," Razputhen the undead soldier is immediately charmed when the platypus shows up.
Lothar's adopted brother Kyle in Exterminatus Now is a platypus. His bizarre appearance combined with his foolish decision to sell weapons to cultists behind his mercenary dad's back got him captured and tortured by the Inquisition who think he's some kind of chaos mutant.
Invader Zim features the titular character dressing up as the 'Easter platypus' during the Christmas Episode and making the people of Earth ignore Dib's attempt at making An Aesop out of the episode. Instead, he convinces them to beat him up.
It's worth noting that in Australia, they have the Easter Bilby. Aussies hate bunnies.
Chocolate Bilbies are generally sold to raise funds for their conservation. Only the adults hate bunnies.
In the episode of the animated Hercules where the titular hero misappropriates the legend of Circe, Circe turns the main characters into an entire menagerie of animals, rather than just the regular pigs. Icarus gets turned into a platypus; when he gets into an argument, he threatens the other party with his poisonous spurs, then storms off because he "has some eggs to bury". Um...
Patricia from Spliced. No reason not to believe that she's actually a beaver/otter/duck/whatever, though.
The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo had an episode wherein one of the targeted ghosts invades the newspaper comic strips, including Scooby's fave, Platypus Duck. Of course, they meet him and the others—and IIRC, they left the papers to stay in reality at the end.
An episode of Super Secret Secret Squirrel, had the Platypus, an anti villain who illegally leaks the city's power plant to power his invention that would turn him into a normal animal. The heroes and the chief chase him down after accidentally getting their body parts mixed up by the device. Platypus eventually redeems himself after the heroes introduce him to a platypus girl, and he discovers that he was Beautiful All Along.
An episode of South Park featured Damien, the spawn of Satan, turning Kenny into a platypus. Stan's Uncle Jimbo shot Kenny after shouting that Kenny was going right to him.
Inverted for anyone who's been the victim of platypi venom, one of the most potent venoms on Earth. While it won't generally kill you, it will make you wish it had as the venom goes to your pain receptors and cranks Up to Eleven. One victim of the venom had been shot in World War II and said without any hesitation that the platypus sting was far more painful.
Platypus babies are named Puggles. Puggles is an official word in the English language. That should make you smile in its own right.
An interesting fact: During World War II, Winston Churchill decided he'd like some brought to the United Kingdom. This required special facilities being fitted out on a ship, and navigation halfway round the world in a war. Nevertheless, this was attempted, and the ship made it all the way to the mid-Atlantic when it was discovered that the measures taken to protect the animals didn't completely mitigate the effect of anti-submarine depth charges, and they died a few days before arriving.
Sanrio has tried at least three times to launch a platypus character for the Hello Kitty universe, but it's never taken off.
The trophy for the Oregon-Oregon State football rivalry game is the Platypus Trophy, because the platypus has characteristics of both schools' mascots, Oregon's duck and Oregon State's beaver.
The official emblem of the Australian Federal Police is the platypus. The AFP official web site spends several paragraphs explaining why the platypus symbolises all the best qualities of the force, before finally admitting that it might also have something to do with the literal English translation of "platypus" being "flatfoot".
Comedian Richard Jeni had a bit about them in a special titled "The Platypus Man" and later a short-lived series by the same name. He describes watching a National Geographic special about them ("a confused, short-legged night feeder") and identifying with the creatures.
USAF Basic Training uses Platypus as a duress word.
A Platypus appears on the Australian 20 cent coin.
One of the mascots for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games was a platypus.