Often in animation, a cartoon mammal's pinnae (or outer ear) shape is drawn in such a way that looks unusual for its species in Real Life
Common Cartoon Animal Ear Depictions:
- Cat ears will often be drawn smaller and/or more pointed than they would look in Real Life, sometimes even looking vaguely like horse's ears. The only cats in Real Life that have really pointed ears like most cartoon housecats are caracals. Kitten's ears will usually be drawn small even though real kitten's ears are actually slightly large for their heads.
- Mouse and rat ears will very often be drawn rounder (usually with a slight point) and with hair on the backs of them, when actual mouse and rat ears look hairless.
- Cartoon weasel and skunk ears are usually drawn to stick out a little more than that of their Real Life counterparts.
- Wolf and coyote ears are often (or at least sometimes) drawn looking like rabbit ears, and dogs are often drawn with stylized ears if they are drop-eared or otherwise floppy. If a cartoon wolf's ears are not drawn looking like rabbit ears, they would still usually be drawn pointier and larger than in Real Life.
- Lions, tigers, other big cats, and any other cat with round ears are often drawn with vaguely mouse-like or ratlike ears placed a little lower on the head than either rats and mice with a normal ear position or real big cats.
Sometimes, toons, especially old 1920s/1930s cartoon characters or characters based on them, will have very stylized ears that sometimes hardly look like real ears at all.
The point of this trope is that some animals that are clearly based on real species, whether Funny Animal
or not, are drawn with an ear shape not like that of its Real Life
counterpart out of stylistic purposes or because they simply didn't know what that animal's ears really look like. For example, cartoon rats and mice with hair on the backs of their ears are a case of artistic license because in Real Life
, the backs of their ears look hairless.
Please only list examples that are clearly based on actual species. Funny Animals
clearly based on actual species are allowed too. Aliens, monsters, and mythical beings can have Bizarre Alien Biology
, so please do not list them.
Subtrope of Funny Animal Anatomy
. See also Cartoony Tail
for basically the same trope but with tails.
Anime and Manga
- Kimba the White Lion also had very large, rather rounded ears that end in a slight point. His ears look more like that of a cartoon mouse than that of an actual lion cub or even a cartoon lion cub, although this can be attributed to Osamu Tezuka's style then anything else.
- The hamsters from Hamtaro generally look like real hamsters, including having bare hamster tails, but they have large, round, furry ears when actual hamster ears are small, more elongated, and hairless.
- Generally, humans in anime are often drawn with ears not in proportion to their faces, and as round, flat plates rather than the ears we actually have. Like all the rest of the entries here, it's probably because it's simpler to animate them like this.
- Stella from Over the Hedge; even though her ears look more like real skunk ears than a lot of other cartoon skunks' ears look, her ears are drawn more pointed than would be for a real skunk (or even a cartoon skunk).
- RJ the raccoon has ears that look more like rat ears than like real raccoon ears.
- Little Brother, who is Mulan's dog, has ears more like that of a rabbit than that of a dog.
- Mrs. Brisby in The Secret Of NIMH has ears that are set on the back of the head and face forwards, like a squirrel's. Don Bluth was desperately trying to come up with a fresh mouse design, since Disney abused that species to death by that point. Teresa Brisby's ears, on the other hand, are never shown. They might be obscured by the bow on her head.
- Fievel in An American Tail has huge ears for a mouse, but it adds to his cloying, saccharine cuteness. He and the other mice have ears that are placed lower on their heads than that of real mice.
- The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland has ears placed like those of squirrels.
- Annabelle and Belladonna the dogs from the All Dogs Go to Heaven movies and TV series don't have any ears.
- The pig characters in Olivia have ears shaped like that of rabbits.
- Garfield has ears placed like those of squirrel.
- Sly Cooper's ears are look more like elf ears than like real raccoon ears.
- The Sonic the Hedgehog series has numerous examples:
- The hedgehogs (Sonic himself, Amy, Shadow and Silver) have triangular ears. Real hedgehog ears are smaller and more rounded.
- Tails has large ears for a fox.
- Cream's rabbit ears are oddly wide (plus she can fly with them).
- Knuckles' ears are presumably covered by dreadlocks, like a real echidna's are covered by its spines.
- Blaze the Cat's ears are triangular like Sonic's, and about the same size. Real cat ears are bigger.
- Bark the Polar Bear has round ears, like a teddy bear. A real polar bear has squarish ears.
- Ray the Flying Squirrel has ears that are smaller and more pointed then a real flying squirrel.
- Wartortle from Pokemon Red And Blue resembles a medium-sized blue tortoise with large, floppy ears. In real life, turtles like every other reptile, actually do not have external ears. This is also true with its final evolution Blastoise, but thankfully averted with its pre-evolution, Squirtle.
- There are also several mammalian Pokémon that for some reason, unlike the animal they're based on, actually do not have any ears at all! (The only mammals in real life that do not have external ears are "true" seals, cetaceans, and sirenians due to all of them being fully-aquatic animals; the reason why they don't have external ears is that they would actually slow them down in the water, and that sound actually travels faster in water than in air, meaning that they don't need as much help to hear as a terrestrial mammal.)
- Also, Serperior, which resembles a large green snake with floppy yellow ears. Again, in real life reptiles don't have external ears.
- Russell the otter from Happy Tree Friends has no ears at all. Otters have small ears, but they're there.
- Mickey Mouse. They actually drew his ears (more) realistically at one point, but they went back to the "two big blobs" because realistic ears didn't look right on him. (His ears are never drawn in perspective either.)
- Mickey's (and Minnie's) ear's not matching perspective is AVERTED in in Kingdom Hearts because it was too hard to do in 3D. They managed to pull it off in the new Epic Mickey game though.
- His ears were actually lampshaded in one of the cartoons, where he mentions that his ears are always circular, no matter which way he turns his head.
- And at least in some translations some people call him "Ball-ears" as an insult.
- Jerry of Tom and Jerry had ears that were both larger and rounder then it would be for a mouse. But unlike Mickey's his ear's appearance actually change depending on the angle he's being viewed at, but still they're not real mouse ears.
- Wile E. Coyote and Ralph Wolf from Looney Tunes has ears shaped like rabbit ears.
- On a related note, Sylvester, Sylvester jr., Penelope, and most other Looney Tunes cats have disproportionately small ears, sometimes even looking vaguely like horse ears.
- Hippity Hopper the kangaroo has ears like that of a cartoon mouse.
- Porky Pig has ears shaped like cartoon cat ears.
- Pepe Le Pew has ears that stick out a little more than that of a real skunk.
- Calamity Coyote from Tiny Toon Adventures has ears that are a stylized version of Wile E.'s ears.
- Like Pepe, Fifi La Fume's ears stick out a little more than that of a real skunk.
- Dizzy Devil doesn't have any ears.
- There are a few Animaniacs characters beside the Warners who have unusually shaped ears.
- Pinky and the Brain have ears shaped like typical cartoon mouse ears, except a little more pointed, looking almost like actual cat ears.
- Same with Romy, Larry, and Billie.
- Mostly averted with Mousey Galore, who has ears like a real mouse, except with hair on the backs of them.
- Minerva Mink has ears that stick out more than actual mink ears and look more like rat ears with fur covered backs.
- Slappy and Skippy have ears that are rounder than that of Real Life squirrels.
- Slappy's ears are even set on either side of her head.
- Kanga and Roo from Winnie the Pooh have ears more like that of mice than like that of kangaroos.
- Justified because they are supposed to be stuffed animals.
- Bonkers D. Bobcat has ears shaped like golf clubs in Raw Toonage, but has ears shaped like antennae in his own show. Neither of which look anything like actual bobcat's ears. The difference in ear styles between Raw Toonage and Bonkers is actually lampshaded in the first episode, where Bonkers is shown using hairspray to make his ears hold the golf-club shape.
- Wolfy from Super Why! has ears like a rabbit.
- The ears of most of The Simpsons' human characters are circular in shape and disproportionately small.
- Scratchy and Snowball II are cats that have ears that are shaped like shark fins.
- Many human characters in The Flintstones have small ears that are shaped like triangles.
- Roxanne from A Goofy Movie has ears that look like human ears. Then again only her nose and muzzle keeps her from being a full-on human.
- The aardvarks from Arthur all sport rounded ears. In real life, an aardvark has floppy ears.
- Goofy Jr., Max's prototype from the Classic Disney Shorts and Peg from Goof Troop don't have any ears.
- Bright Eyes from Pound Puppies (1980s) doesn't have any ears either. (They're hidden under her hair.)
- Baby Jaguar from Go, Diego, Go! has unusually pointed ears for a jaguar.
- Eek The Cat has ears that are shaped like golf clubs.
- In Disney's The Prince and the Pauper, Horace Horsecollar has ears rather like that of a cow.
- In an invoked inversion, breeders of fancy rats developed the "dumbo" variety in an effort to make pet rats cuter and offset these rodents' bad reputation. Dumbo rats' ears are positioned farther to the sides of the head, making them look more like cartoon rodents' ears.