The process of anthropomorphization of an animal character usually involves a lot of implicit decisions of what should be made human-like, and what should stay the way it is. One thing is certain, though, things will not
be realistic. On the other hand, some breaks from reality
are less acceptable than others...
Sometimes, body organs are shifted or added to funny animals, seemingly in a way to increase identification through anthropomorphism
. Some other times, it's just a stylistic convention, used so the creature in question is more easily recognized than if it was drawn realistically.
Though Funny Animal Anatomy should not be noted under Artistic License - Biology
, since it's never
meant to be serious, some egregious
decisions are made in this sense, for either stylistic or anthropomorphic
reason. Some are so omnipresent they even are tropes unto themselves.
Just remember that Tropes Are Tools
and more often than not these are invoked simply because it's more interesting
to the viewer to utilize them and can make story telling easier
in some cases.
The Law of Conservation of Detail
(often used with the Rule of Personification Conservation
) makes it easier to skim over those things if it's not relevant to the story and well, sometimes you simply want to avoid drifting gazes
or indeed Squick
regardless of who the target audience is.
This trope page and its child tropes apply to animals on the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism
from Nearly Normal Animal
to Petting Zoo People
This trope page is meant to catalog only examples which do not fit the child tropes below, are specializations of these tropes, or are especially egregious
of Art Major Biology
open/close all folders
- In Berkely Breathed's Bloom County days, the community is abuzz upon learning that one of them is actually female (after much paranoia and speculation, it later turns out to be Rosebud). Portnoy, in a panic, checks himself in the bathroom only to cry, "No dice! Comic strip animals aren't anatomically correct!!"
- This was also addressed in Cerebus the Aardvark, post-syndrome: Cerebus is a hermaphrodite, so his male genitalia is hidden inside his female outer genitalia when he's not "in position". Dead serious.
- The human characters of Peanuts have hands that look like paws.
- Heathcliff, in both the comics and the animated series, has a large, bulbous black nose.
- Critters which are faceless, or have their features in non-standard human places, usually have a full face drawn somewhere else:
- Octopuses almost always will have faces — complete with Cartoony Eyes — placed on their huge foreheads. Sometimes they'll also have a stereotypical tube-like mouth. As a result, what appears to be a real octopus' mouth becomes a cartoon octopus' anus!
- The same happens to squids, but to a lesser extent, since they normally keep their eyes where they originally are (near the tentacles).
- Starfish usually have faces (eyes and mouth) on the back of their bodies.
- Not only birds, but sometimes also toads, bugs, earthworms, et cetera... will have teeth. Especially egregious when dealing with invertebrates.
- Insects and arachnids also sometimes have anthro mouths, teeth and chelicera (if an arachnid) or mandibles (if an insect), making one wonder what those are for, if the teeth will hold and cut the food anyway.
- They are also usually depicted with only two eyes (in Real Life, insects usually have five eyes and arachnids usually have eight eyes, although the additional ones are smaller)
- The borderline furry Squicky case of "male cows". Yes, bulls with udders.
- It's a recurring joke in cartoons for animals, walking upright, being mysteriously devoid of any genitalia whatsoever (especially with males). In a similar way, cartoon animals almost always lack an anus, even when it should be clearly visible below the tail.
- Bird beaks are pliable, like human lips. Or worse, they're like noses with a normal mouth underneath.
- A lot of dogs and other animals with non-retractable claws tend to be drawn without their claws showing in cartoons. Only cats (except cheetahs, which have semi-retractile claws), fossas, and many civet species have fully retractable claws. If the animal has non-retractable or semi-retractable claws, they should be showing at least a little bit. But in cartoonland, most animals with claws are drawn without them showing, even those with non-retractable claws.
- In the case of birds, ducks, geese, and other web-footed birds are the most likely to be drawn without claws showing.
- On a related note: In a lot of cartoons, comics, and video games, humans and other primates tend to be drawn without their fingernails or toenails showing.
- And speaking of cat claws, many works depict feline claws as being brown or black in colour, while in reality all feline species have white claws.
- Even though snakes and fish (except sharks) can't blink in Real Life, they are shown being able to blink in cartoons anyway.
- Owls and most of other birds can't move their eyes (Great Comorants are an exception), but this fact is ignored in cartoons and they are able to move their eyes just like humans.
- Cartoon animals tend to be drawn with a head, muzzle, beak, or bill shape that is different from what it is in real life:
- Ducks are usually drawn with bills that are wider than that of real ducks, often being as wide as a real platypus's bill.
- Larger cat species are often drawn with longer muzzles than what they would have in real life, about as long as that of a dog with an average muzzle length, especially in older cartoons. Big cats may have longer muzzles than small cats, but their muzzles aren't as long as that of a mesocephalic (of normal muzzle length) dog.
- Rats and even mice are sometimes drawn with muzzles as long as that of dogs with an average muzzle length, longer than that of a real rat or a real mouse.
- Cartoon rabbits and hares are usually drawn with noses shaped more like either cat noses and even dog noses than real rabbit noses.
- Cartoon reindeer are usually drawn with noses like dogs' noses. White-tailed deer, black-tailed deer, and mule deer may have noses that look somewhat like a dog's nose, but reindeer/caribou, moose, and elk noses look nothing like dog noses.
- A lot of cartoon tomcats, especially Buffoonish Tomcats, are drawn large, bulbous noses.
- Beavers are usually drawn with white teeth even though real beavers have yellow or orange teeth.
- Cheetahs are quite often depicted with a leopard style rosette fur pattern while lacking their characteristic facial "tear" stripes. This is probably due to artists being more familiar with leopards (and jaguars, which do resemble them) and erroneously generalizing their characteristics. Real cheetahs have solid round black spots and stripes on their tails and sides of the muzzle.
- Rabbits are often drawn with footpads, which real rabbits do not have.
- Most animated giraffes are portrayed with pink tongues. In real life, a giraffe's tongue is black. Also, giraffes in animation are often drawn with necks longer and more flexible than those in real life.
- Most cartoon elephants will often appear to be Indian elephants even in African settings. They will also only have three toes on each foot.
- Monkeys appearing in most animated works will almost always be depicted with prehensile tails (a trait exclusive to monkeys living in the Western Hemisphere), especially if the monkeys are of the "generic" type as opposed to a specific species, even if said works take place in the Eastern Hemisphere.
- Also, monkeys appearing in many animated works are often depicted with longer arms than legs (In Real Life, monkeys usually have legs that are a little longer than their arms.) and a stance more like an ape than like any real monkey, especially if they are of the "generic" type.
- Cartoon parrots, toucans, and woodpeckers will always be drawn with feet that have three claws in the front and a fourth in the back, instead of two claws in the front and two in the back.
- Ostriches may be drawn with three or four toes on their feet like most birds, when real ostriches have only two. And when they do get portrayed with two toes, they will always have two claws instead of one.
- Rattlesnakes in animated works will always be portrayed as egg-layers, despite the fact that in real life, rattlesnakes are live-bearers.
- Most animated passerine birds (unless they are corvids) will always either look like sparrows or be colored like them.
- Most animated fish (not counting the realistic-looking ones) will look absolutely nothing like actual fish species.
- Many cartoon pelicans have oversized beak pouches even when they're empty.
- Many prehistoric animals are portrayed inaccurately. For example, many theropods are portrayed having pronated hands when the palms actually faced each other like a person about to clap, plant-eating dinosaurs are shown having elephantine feet when this wasn't the case in real life, feathered dinosaurs like Velociraptor are shown as being covered in scales, plesiosaurs are depicted with flexible snake-like necks instead of stiff necks, and pterosaurs are shown as bipedal when actually they were quadrupeds. In many cases, this can be because the information was not available at the time.
- Whiskers, common to many mammals, are details that can disappear with simplified art, but for some unfathomable cultural reason they are considered a necessary identifying feature of animals like cats, rabbits, mice, and rats more than other animals that have them, such as dogs and foxes. Often this is the easiest way to tell cats from dogs in the same work.
- Human characters in some shows and comics are drawn with hands that look like paws, in other words, their fingers don't taper the way real human fingers do. Though, that could be because some artists have a hard time drawing hands.
- Koalas are often drawn with only one thumb, when they have two in real life.
- Anteaters tend to have mouths at the base of their snouts, instead of at the tip.
- Alligators are often drawn with v-shaped snouts and interlocking teeth just like crocodiles. Similarly, crocodiles will often be depicted with a gator-like overbite.
- Sperm whales are often depicted with teeth on their upper jaw, belly lines similar to those of baleen whales, and the blowhole located on the top of the head instead of the snout.
- Vampire bats often suffer the same problem as pterosaurs: being depicted as bipedal instead of quadrupedal like in real life.
- Lampshaded in Crash Bandicoot: 'You don't even look like a bandicoot!'
- The Sonic the Hedgehog series has some very prominent examples. While characters like Tails and Rouge the Bat can at least be identified as to which species they are, most other characters look nothing like their species. You probably wouldn't guess Sonic was a hedgehog unless you'd been told so.
- A few of Zoophobia's animal characters have this.
- Particularly the felines.
- Patrick Star from Sponge Bob Square Pants has his face (eyes and mouth) on one of his arms.
- Family Guy just barely averts this trope in one episode: Peter develops penis envy when he learns that his son is very well endowed. His friend Brian (a dog) consoles him by saying "Mine goes inside me when I stand up, how do you think I feel?"
- Lampshaded in the Looney Tunes short Duck Soup to Nuts: the cartoon opens with Daffy Duck in a pond, filing his nails amid a group of realistic-looking mallards: "I kinda stand out in a crowd, don't I?"
- Phineas and Ferb: Perry the Platypus has a bill that looks as narrow as a real duck's bill except in direct front-view shots.
- Looney Tunes: Tweety the canary, Porky Pig, and Petunia Pig have heads that are shaped like human heads.
- Sylvester's nose is large and bulbous, as are the noses of a sizable number of other Looney Tunes tomcats.
- Tiny Toon Adventures, in addition to imitating the designs of the original Looney Tunes, had an elephant character in one episode. The animators could not decide whether his mouth was below his trunk (normal) or in the tip of his trunk (... not so normal.)
- Beavers in The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! have the correct color teeth (which is orange).
- Similarly, Boss Beaver from Timon & Pumbaa has yellow teeth like a real beaver.
- Maurice, of Madagascar and The Penguins of Madagascar, is meant to be an aye-aye. Real aye-ayes are ... not that cuddly-looking.
- The aardvarks from Arthur, including the title character, look absolutely nothing like actual aardvarks at all. This is a case of Art Evolution, as the first book, Arthur's Nose◊, had Arthur look a little more like an aardvark, but over subsequent books changed to his current appearance.
- Stimpy from Ren and Stimpy has human-style fingernails on his hands.
- While the character designs in the My Little Pony franchise are usually anatomically correct, the characters in the G3.5 cartoon have strange cone-shaped legs and bulbous circular heads. This design choice sparks the ire of most members of the show's fanbase, whom are used to the Friendship is Magic designs which are more realistic than the G3.5 designs but more cartoonish than the other previous gens.
- An orange tomcat with black ears in one Tom and Jerry cartoon has an unusually long muzzle for a small cat and a muzzle shape that would be more appropriate for a lion.
- Finn and other human and Demi Human characters in Adventure Time have hands that look like paws.
- The majority of Classic Disney Shorts and Disney Animated Canon rabbits and hares have either doglike or catlike (or in Oswald's case, jellybean-shaped) noses. However, Max Hare and the four girl bunnies in the Silly Symphony, "The Tortoise and the Hare" have "v" shaped noses like real rabbits and hares.
- The Redwall cartoon show made Badrang look much more like a wolf than a stoat.
- The alligators of Sitting Ducks have underbellies that match the color of their skin. Their snouts are correctly shaped, however.