Four-Legged Insect

Four legs good, six legs bad! Eyes that stare into your very soul, worse!

One convention animators made with insect characters was to draw them with only four legs, not the six legs they characteristically have. For example, the insect's front legs are hands and its hind legs are feet. One of the main reasons is that four legs are easier to animate than six legs and Law of Conservation of Detail comes into play. Another reason is that in a world of four-limbed mammals including humans, you'll want something for the audience to relate to in your characters and insects with their several limbs have a tendency to squick people out so you'll give them four limbs or instead double up some limbs so at least they function as quadripeds or bipeds.

One variant of this trope is to give decapods (10-legged crustaceans) six or eight legs instead of the 10 legs that real world decapodes have. Again, fewer legs mean less animation time. Another, less common variant that was more common in cartoons of the 1930s and 1940s was to draw spiders with six legs instead of eight. Strangely, octopuses are rarely drawn with less than their usual eight arms.

Compare Four-Fingered Hands, which is based on the same principle. See also Vertebrate with Extra Limbs.

Insect Examples

  • Maya the Bee. Bees have two hands and two legs. But Flip has four hands and it's even lampshaded in one episode of the new 3D cartoon.

  • Buzz the bee from the Honey Nut Cheerios commericals.
  • The bee on the Bumblebee tuna cans.


  • Ferda Mravenec (Freddie the Ant) and other insect characters in the books by Ondrej Sekora.
  • The Bible, "But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you." (Lev 11:23). Sadly, none of the nomads who wrote the Leviticus had checked the actual number of legs in flying insects before. Evidently because they were too afraid to even touch them (Lev 11:31). (Presumably someone checked the big ones - grasshoppers and locusts - which were then declared kosher to eat, likely on account of having to eat something after they wiped out the crops.)
    • This seems to be a semantic issue: the Bible mentions creeping things with four feet...and then describes how locusts have four feet, plus those two extra ones (which is partly how you tell they're kosher). There are a fair number of bugs with two legs different than the others, which the Bible seems to count as "leg-like appendages which are not technically legs." (For extra confusion, that word for "creeping thing/insect" can also just be translated "winged creature," meaning it's sometimes erroneously translated as "bird.")
  • Shield bugs from Septimus Heap.

Video Games

Web Comics
  • The characters in Gulyk look like ants with four limbs until you notice the tiny, tiny arms drawn on their hips.
  • The Trolls in Homestuck are born looking like insect larvae, with 6 limbs, but grow up to be Human Aliens.

Western Animation
  • Bounce the bedbug from Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends has only two legs. (All the other insects an arachnids in the series, however, have the proper number of limbs, making Bounce a very peculiar exception.)
  • Atom Ant from Hanna-Barbera cartoons.
  • The bee that stings James in the Thomas the Tank Engine episode "Buzz Buzz". Curiously enough, the exact same bee was drawn with six legs in a storybook based on this episode (blame ease of animation), and that the bees in the later episodes were drawn with six legs.
  • Zipper the fly from Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers.
  • Spike the bee and Wilbur the grasshopper from the Classic Disney Shorts
    • Also, the fly from the Mickey Mouse cartoon, The Worm Turns who is Mickey's test subject for a spritzer to make prey animals attack their predators.
    • The 1935 short Mickey's Garden features a lot of them as well. Except that one of them for some reason has eight legs.
    • Bucky Bug from the Silly Symphony Bugs in Love and ten gazillion Disney comics.
  • The Flea family from Tiny Toon Adventures.
  • The Looney Tunes short "An Itch in Time" features a blue, four-legged flea.
  • The Uncle Ant plush in The Simpsons episode "Itchy and Scratchy Land" has four legs.
  • Chief Herbert Dumbrowski (a flea) from T.U.F.F. Puppy
  • Inverted: Cricket, a very minor character from WordWorld, has eight legs (the correct number of legs for an arachnid).
  • Flecko the fly, a reoccurring character in Rocko's Modern Life.
  • The cockroaches from Oggy and the Cockroaches. They gain the extra pair when they become realistic roaches in the episode "For Real".

  • Victorian tobacco pipes have been found, as seen in Time Team, with clay tobacco beetles imprinted for decoration but alas, only four limbs.
  • The mascot of the Fresno Bee newspaper is a four-legged bee.
  • The mascot of the New Orleans (formerly Charlotte) Hornets is a four-legged wasp.

Real Life
  • Members of the family Nymphalidae of butterflies, while having six legs, only use four of their legs.
  • Praying mantids, while they have six legs, stand on only four of them.

Decapod Examples

Animated Film

Video Games
  • The crab enemies from Bug! have six legs and two claws. Just two legs shy of a proper crab.
  • The Krabby, Corphish, and Dwebble lines from Pokémon.
  • Crabs in World of Warcraft have only four legs plus two claws.

Western Animation

Arachnid Examples

  • BIONICLE: the Visorak swarm (barring a few types of Kahgaraks) and Fenrakk have 4 legs. Some of the before-mentioned Kahgaraks have 6 legs, as well as Fenrakk Spawn Spiders.

Video Games
  • The Pokémon Ariados and Galvantula are Giant Spiders with four legs each. Galvantula's unevolved form is a four-legged tick (still an arachnid). Ariados evolve from Spinarak, which have six legs - two shy of an actual spider. (The two it loses in evolving migrate to Ariados' back.
  • Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 also featured spider enemies with four legs. Interestingly enough, one boss from the first game, Tarantox, has six legs.
  • The spiders in the Mickey Mouse game World of Illusion have six legs instead of eight.
  • Doom: the Spider Mastermind and her Arachnotrons all have two vestigial arms and four mechanical legs. (Granted, they're just demons with "spider" in their name.) Doom 64 plays it straighter, giving them another pair of mechanical legs while removing their vestigial arms.

Western Animation
  • The six-legged spider from the Mickey Mouse cartoon, The Worm Turns, who gets attacked by the test subject four-legged fly.
  • Most cartoon scorpions will often be drawn in a way that their pincers (actually modified pedipalps, or mouthparts) are actually now their front legs, with two of their actual legs being completely absent.
  • Spider from WordWorld has six legs and two antennae.

Other Examples

Comic Books
  • One Spider-Man comic had a kid point out that Doctor Octopus's name is inaccurate, because he only has six arms (four of which are mechanical tentacles). Ock points out that he's counting his legs too.

  • Tuck and Roll, the isopods [pillbugs] from A Bugs Life, have eight legs. Isopods are supposed to have 14.
  • Dave the Octopus and his hench-octopi from Penguins of Madagascar are most of the time animated with six tentacles instead of eight. Interestingly, in one brief gag where Classified counts Dave's tentacles, he is animated with eight of them.

Video Games
  • Pokémon's Scolipede is simplified from the centipede's myriad of legs to just four that it stands on and a dozen shorter ones that it doesn't.

Western Animation
  • Although by no means an insect, or even an arthropod, Squidward of Sponge Bob Square Pants has six limbs when he should have eight as an octopus. Furthermore, his four legs work in pairs, so he walks as if on two legs.
  • An arguable cephalopod example would be Ursula from The Little Mermaid, who despite being half-octopus has six tentacles. Originally, the animators wanted to give her a full set of eight, but it turned out too difficult to animate. One could consider her two human "arms" to count as the last pair.
  • An example applied to a mythological creature rather than a real one: Sleipnir's most distinguished trait is being a horse with eight legs, but Gargoyles depicted it as simply having four like a regular horse, because it was decided an eight-legged horse would be too difficult to animate.


Video Games
  • Silithids (Huge hive-living bugs) in World of Warcraft all have four legs, or four legs and wings. Crabs also only have four legs. Oddly, many lizard type critters have six, moving in triangular two on one side, one on the other.
  • The Nerubians from Warcraft III are all over the place: they're supposed to be spider-men, but have six limbs arranged in centaur fashion (four legs supporting the abdomen, two arms from the torso). The Crypt Lord is supposed to be a mummified Nerubian, but looks like a massive armored beetle with the same limb distribution. It can summon smaller bugs called carrion beetles, which only have four legs and two massive mandibles. Then you have the Makrura, giant six-limbed lobsters. And to top it all off, the game contains normal crabs and spiders (well, "normal"... the smallest is the size of a dog, and the biggest the size of a building) which have... eight limbs.
  • All the arthropods from the Pikmin series have four or fewer legs.