So, we have an anthropomorphic animalwho acts just like a human. Stands on hind legs, talks, interacts with humans just like he's one of them, they treat him just like a human... it seems the only difference between him and a human is that he has fur and a tail. But then, when the audience has forgotten what he is... he does something that's actually animal-like! If he's a dog, he might suddenly stop what he's doing to chase a cat, if he's a cat, he might happily give someone a dead mouse.
This trope is most common with animals on the Civilized Animal, Funny Animal, or Petting Zoo People tiers. This can sometimes happen to animals on the Nearly Normal Animal, Talking Animal, or Partially Civilized Animal tiers, but animals of those tiers move around like their real life counterpart, tend not to be treated like or act like humans, and don't seem to be prone to Furry Denial or "purely aesthetic species" syndrome. If a Cat Girl or other Little Bit Beastly drops a furry reminder, it tends to get jarring as they look completely human aside from their animal ears and tail.
This trope doesn't necessarily involve an Anthropomorphic Shift, but can sometimes be applied after a shift has occurred to remind us that the character is still as much an animal as he was before.
There is a variant of this trope involving stuffed animals and toys, especially those that seem more like actual living things to viewers, that reminds viewers that the character or characters are in fact stuffed or toys. The most common example of this involves either an arm or leg getting ripped or ripped of or part of their body getting a rip in it.
If he's trying to hide the behavior, but it accidentally comes out, it's My Instincts Are Showing.
This is a furry reminder, reminding both the audience and the characters what species a character really is. Contrast Furry Denial. Compare Anthropomorphic Zig Zag. The toy and stuffed animal variant occurs most frequently on toys on Level 5 on the Sliding Scale of Living Toys.
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Anime and Manga
There is an Inuyasha episode where, at the start, Kagome gets Inuyasha to fetch a stick.
He'll also shake off like a dog when wet, or scratch his ear with his foot, in addition to his nose being always being damp, only drying out when he has a cold, he buried Kaede (he thought she was dead until he realized she was alive and left her head sticking out of the ground) in episode four with his foot, and when tracking a scent, he is down on all fours.
Jackie Chun in Dragon Ball defeats Man-Wolf in the Budokai by making him 'fetch' a bone thrown out of the ring.
Neko-sensei from Princess Tutu will occasionally wash himself like the cat he is,
The chimeras in Fullmetal Alchemist sometimes exhibit traits of the animals they've been fused with. Some inherit handy things like enhanced senses of smell, increased strength, the ability to climb vertical surfaces or an "animal instinct" which tells them when they should fight and when they should run away, some do things only vaguely related to the animal they're fused with like adhesive saliva projectiles and shooting spines but others just do funny things like pee standing on one leg, something Martel teases Dorchetto about.
The animal characters of Shirokuma Cafe exhibit this fairly often (for example, Panda eating bamboo).
It both occurs and is occasionally subverted in Hyper Police. Natsuki Sasahara, the protagonist, is a Cat Girl and sometimes acts in a typically catgirlish sort of way, except that it's not always a result of her nature but because she artificially tries to act that way; she seems to be obsessed with cats in a human sort of way, and sometimes when life is too hard or when she has too much responsibility, wishes she was just a cat.
This happened occasionally with Meowth in the early Pokémon episodes. Team Rocket distracted him at least once with a ball of yarn that he excitedly ran after and played with.
D. G. D. Davidson's My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfics (Fanfiction, Fimfiction) make a point of making it clear that the characters are horses who happen to think like humans, not humans who happen to have horse bodies. The characters' body parts are referred to in terms of equine anatomy ("pastern", "cannon", "frog" etc.), and other horse terminology is used too (such as calling one's parents "dam" and "sire"). Also, there are references to mares being in heat only in spring. The author, apparently, was surprised to find out that most bronies aren't experts on horsemanship and that the terminology would go over their heads.
In Sophistication And Betrayal, the protagonist gets Rarity some flowers when taking her out on a date, and is promptly surprised when she eats one for taste. The next time he slips a note in, reminding her not to eat them immediately.
Done in Up, in which the dogs are distracted by squirrels. This proves handy on a number of occasions.
The animals in Fantastic Mr. Fox do various animal-ish things throughout the film, but the real kicker is how they eat at the dinner table.
Puss in Boots is full of it, usually in relation to Puss himself, who acts like a ZorroExpy, until we see him drink milk (by rapidly lapping from the shot glass), purr, lick himself, make big kitty eyes (usually intentional), make cat noises when someone hits him with an object, chase a sunbeam, or bring an apparently dead animal to his adopted mother.
In Shrek, he gets a hairball. And does the big kitty eyes thing.
Dr. Doppler from Treasure Planet is an anthropomorphic dog who for some reason actually eats out of a dog dish. With a spoon.
Chicken Little shows various animals dropping furry reminders from time to time.
Several in the Kung Fu Panda films. It usually manifests as characters using their animal traits in combat, making realistic animal sounds, Running on All Fours, etc.
In Kung Fu Panda 2, Master Mantis references the fact that the female mantis bites the head off of the male in mating.
The Cars franchise shows a Sentient Vehicle equivalent of this trope to remind viewers that the characters are in fact still cars or other vehicles.
In the climax of Ted, the eponymous teddy bear rips in half.
You mean besides the fact that Eeyore's tail is attached with a tack? Also, keep in mind that only Pooh, Piglet, Kanga, Roo, Tigger, and Eeyore are toys; Owl, Rabbit, and Gopher are real animals who live in the Woods.
Live Action TV
The Cat of Red Dwarf may be humanoid, but don't get him wet or put him near a dog. In the first season, his behaviour is very reminiscent of a cat's; for instance, his tendency to spray everything and claim it as his own, his love of raw fish, and his Blue and Orange Morality. He becomes gradually less cat-like as the seasons go on.
Every once in a while, there's a Stuffed Animal Reminder when Hobbes is seen from the perspective of an adult. He then looks like a normal stuffed toy◊, not the anthromorphic tiger we usually see.
Pooch Café: Poncho (and all of the other dogs in the strip) can talk and think like humans, but their instincts will sometimes get the better of them and they'll do things like chase cars or eat garbage.
In Peanuts, Snoopy, despite a gradual Anthropomorphic Shift over the first couple of decades, still lives in a dog house and eats from his dog bowl.
Sam & Max: Freelance Police: Sam and Max are a dog and a rabbit. They very rarely actually exhibited animal-like behaviour, until The Devil's Playhouse, where Sam's doglike qualities were suddenly constantly exaggerated for comic effect. More specifically, he's shown to pant with his tongue out in hot places, growl and bark when angry, have trouble eating peanut butter (which is actually the solution to a puzzle), and wear a plastic cone when he gets injured. At one point, Max claims that one of Sam's worst fears is 'being put in a carrier to go to the vet's'.
Max's rabbity qualities are underplayed compared to Sam's other than his bounciness and fondness of gnawing on things, but there's still a few references in Season 3 - at one point, he mentions to Sam that he's constantly chased around by beautiful women. Sam promptly replies that they've been through this already and the women only want to test cosmetics on him.
From the comic book:
Sam: (beaten up and disraught) They kicked me — and punched me — and swatted my nose with a rolled-up magazine.
Sam's crying in Hit The Road sounds like dog 'crying', or whining, rather than like human tears. And his singing in the Telltale games sounds more like a dog howling along to music (but with words!) than it does human singing. His Big "NO!" in They Stole Max's Brain! is less of a human shout, and more of a dog's howl.
In the Hit The Road comic story, Sam attacks a hoodlum robbing a convenience store by biting his hand. He admits afterward that he's never done that before and it was embarrassing.
Combined with Fridge Horror for Black Comedy effect in Hit The Road, when Max cheerfully observes that as a rabbit, he can only expect to live to be five. note In all non Hit The Road continuities, Sam and Max age like normal humans; the Telltale games even flashback to when he was a kid several decades ago.
In the Sly Cooper games, one of the titular protagonist's idle animations has him using his cane to scratch his back, which results in one of his legs twitching like a dog's (even though he's a raccoon).
The birds in Hatoful Boyfriend are mostly an inch between Civilized Animals and Funny Animals, but Oko San, a fantail pigeon, is more birdlike than the others. He talks in coos which are translated, has a hyperactive, arrogant and extremely stupid personality, and his 'human' portrait is just a pigeon in a school uniform. He was based on the writer's real life pet bird, and serves mostly to remind the player that the cast really are birds.
At one point, San is made to wear a maid costume as part of a class fundraiser. Ryouta, a rock dove, tries to convince him he looks okay, and holds up a mirror to prove it. San, since he lacks the ability to pass the mirror test, can't tell that it's his reflection and starts trying to court it.
When the class all leave wishes on the tree for Tanabata, everyone leaves well-spoken messages except for Oko San, whose is covered in footprints and spots of ink (or possibly droppings).
When the game takes its Cerebus Syndrome shift on the Bad Boys Love route, it's revealed that the uplifting event which granted the birds their humanoid intelligence works faster on some species than others. San is an "older breed", which going by supplementary material doesn't appear to mean fantail pigeons in general. Maybe just throwbacks.
For most of both games the bird characters other than Okosan act largely like humans with feathers and the ability to fly who hold things with their wings, though now and then the word "hand" slips through. Still, a quail character once remarks that it's good he didn't see something scary, or he would have hit the ceiling - quails instinctively flee by flying straight up. And in Holiday Star, there's a single moment of purest bird behavior.
Sakuya sticks his beak in the air and coos irritatedly.
Dr. Shuu Iwamine, a Chukar Partridge, has an Evil Laugh. Which is actually the call of the Chukar Partridge.
The secondary protagonist of the Jak and Daxter series, Daxter, actually began the series as a human. However, after his transformation into an ottsel, he's picked up more animal-like habits. While he normally uses his hind legs for walking and running, he will occasionally drop to all fours, has been seen using one of his hind legs to scratch behind his ears, and likes to be petted and scratched.
A running gag in Let's Meow Meow is that the Little Bit Beastly cast members are, despite all appearances, still descended from their animal stock. Mikan, the Cat Girl main female, is easily distracted by feather dusters, can be mesmerized with foxtails, and purrs when happy. Likewise, dog-girl Shinju considers showing her belly (a sign of submission in canids) to be the most romantic thing she can do.
Florence, the "Bowman's Wolf" engineer in Freefall, acts very human (though she admits she has to fake some of her behavior for the benefit of the humans and human-programmed robots with which she interacts), but she'll run on all fours if she's in a hurry, and will happily chase a thrown ball.
Her catching instinct has sometimes caused her serious trouble, for example while being in a moving car, or seeing a fast-moving object on screen.
When she's not forcibly reminding herself otherwise, she has a habit of interpreting other peoples' behavior as though they were wolves. Her captain, who comes from a species of scavengers, is constantly doing things like stealing her half-finished lunch while she's distracted, leading her to assume he's behaving like an omega wolf for her benefit, which clashes with her notion of him being higher up the chain of command.
Krosp III, Emperor of All Cats from Girl Genius, was an ordinary cat uplifted through Mad Science, and given dominion over all cats... but that didn't work out so well (being cats and all.), so he ended up joining up with the eponymous female genius, Agatha, to avoid getting 'disposed of' as a failed experiment. He's highly intelligent and sophisticated, talks, and generally acts human... except for when he merrily bites the head off a live rat, or runs off chasing a piece of string. The last one was particularly noticeable, since it was Agatha specifically demonstrating to him that despite his advanced intellect, he was still a slave to his feline impulses.
While Lunar Exalted technically start out human and only become animal-themed shapeshifters after exaltation, Marena still demonstrates the trope nicely in thisKeychain of Creation strip.
Drugsand Kisses: In this strip a character is shown tearing up bread to feed to ducks, the camera moves and it is revealed the ducks are anthropomorphic beggars.
In No Rest for the Wicked,Perrault is a Funny Animal who lives in luxury with his "master," the Marquis. However, he still occasionally turns back into a "normal" cat to catch mice, and claims that no cat can resist actually hunting.
In Happy Tree Friends, Petunia and Disco Bear were on a date, and Disco Bear acts a bit too... forward... with her as they're in the parked car. Cut to a shot of Disco Bear getting sprayed while Petunia is off screen. Since she's a skunk, that probably wasn't Mace....
In the Universal Mary-Sue Litmus Test, one of the "De-Suifier" questions asks "If your character is a non-human, does he/she react in very non-human ways or in ways more appropriate to his/her species?" Hovering over the word "reacts" lists some examples, including "A wolf hybrid whose first instinct is to eat the roadkill" and "A half-cat who actually spits at people he/she finds threatening".
Black Betty, a superhero from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe who possesses animalistic "skunk powers", including a fairly impressive set of claws, fangs, and a nicely heightened sense of smell in addition to the first thing you thought of when you read the phrase "skunk powers". She's been known to make involuntary musk attacks when startled or surprised.
Likewise, the superheroine Felina (a Cat Girl) can be easily distracted by small, quick movements, and has been known to take naps on any random flat surface around her team's headquarters.
In Darwin's Soldiers, the writers often reference anatomy or behaviors of the nonhuman characters to reinforce the point that they are well, nonhuman. Canine, feline and equine characters often have their ears described as flattening or pivoting towards sounds and in response to various stimuli. Snake characters are always mentioned as slithering or having fangs or gulping down food whole. Avian characters are sometimes shown using their beaks as weapons.
The most extreme example was when Dr. Zanasiu reminds his girlfriend (who is a dhole) that he has forty six chromosomes while she has seventy eight. By the way, the chromosome counts are accurate.
Occasional references are made to his age (seven), and Peter also addressed the fact that Brian will only live a fraction of the time Peter will.
In the earlier episodes he used to sit similar to how a dog would. In recent episodes though he sits like any other normal human would.
He also lives in irrational terror of "Mr Hoover" and has an intense dislike of dog whistles.
One episode has him complaining about being given gray M&Ms. Naturally, we saw them as colorful.
In one scene in the pilot, he's seen peeing at a fire hydrant, but is standing the way a human male would urinate, even shaking off the excess once he was done.
Eek! The Cat is a Talking Animal / Funny Animal that often partakes in human activities, but is also a pet cat and cannot speak to his owners, although he appears to be able to speak to other human characters.
Spongebob Squarepants bragged that he could "reproduce by budding", and then proved it by sprouting multiple heads.
He also mentioned that his people were sedentary and filter-feed.
Mr. Krabs once acted embarrassed after shedding his shell.
There was also an episode where Sandy Cheeks shows her squirrel nature by preparing to hibernate for the winter.
Squidward is normally depicted with his tentacles arranged as if he were a biped, however from time to time he'll be seen in a decidedly more cephalopodian light, even secreting ink on Spongebob in the bathtubnote Not what it sounds like.
He also sporadically inks when he's temporarily turned into a giant.
Futurama - the Chicken-Lawyer, with a very Matlock-style bearing, is reassuring a little girl on the witness stand, then suddenly lunges at her with an alarming squawk.
The Simpsons - In the episode "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)", Homer encounters his spirit guide, a "Space Coyote" (talking coyote), who explains to Homer that he must go on a quest to find his soul mate. After about a minute, when the conversation begins to get serious and intellectual, the coyote unexpectedly begins aggressively gnawing on Homer's ankle. Homer kicks him off and says "Hey! Knock it off!" to which the coyote responds "Sorry, I am a coyote".
Played with in the next scene after Homer comes to, and is trying to make sense of his Mushroom Samba:
Homer: And that talking coyote was just a talking dog.
Dog: Hi, Homer! Find your soulmate!
Homer: Wait a minute. . .dogs can't talk.
(Dog barks normally).
Homer: Damn right!
In a Halloween special, Itchy & Scratchy escape from the TV into the real world with the intention to kill the Simpsons and find (to their likely surprise) that they aren't actually human-sized. Easily overpowered, Itchy is thrown into a hamster box (where he starts to run in the exercize wheel immediately) and Scratchy falls in love with Snowball II (prompting Marge to say that they should neuter him - and Scratchy shrieking in horror).
Seems to be averted, however, with many of the horse noises the ponies might at a first glance seem to make — they can even "whinny" with their mouths closednote At least seen with Twilight's Rearing Horse pose in "A Dog and Pony Show", and even otherwise, the mouths don't tend to move when the sound is heard. Since the attention to detail is there, this is unlikely to be an oversight. Instead, many of these noises (harder to tell with snorts, of course, and not all cases need to be the same) seem to be symbolic — same as the jet plane noises sometimes heard in conjunction with pegasuses flying or preparing to take off, or the "beep beep beep" when someonenote Specifically Spike in "Feeling Pinkie Keen" is walking backwards carrying a pile of stuff.
A number of reminders come up in the form of the ponies' diets. In one flashback, Rarity is designing costumes for a school pageant, and if you look carefully, it becomes clear that it's about the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, baked goods, hay, and flowers. In another instance, Pinkie Pie sings a song to try to smooth relations between ponies and buffalo: "We all eat hay and oats. Why be at each others' throats?" When Pinkie Pie's trying to be spooky about Zecora, she says, "I heard that Zecora... eats hay!" Twilight Sparkle points out they all eat hay. Twilight Sparkle also picked flower petals to try to figure out which one of her friends should go with her to the Grand Galloping Gala in "The Ticket Master"... then eats the petals right after. As well as the local restaurant serves grass sandwiches.
During Rarity's "Art of the Dress" song, she sings at one point about the parts of the body to be covered - and they're all horse parts: "Croup, dock, haunch/shoulders, hips". For bonus points, the patterns she cuts are appropriate for each part named.
At one point, Pinkie rolls around in the grass. You may think it's just her randomness, but real horses do that a lot.
In the episode "Over a Barrel" there's a saloon in Appleloosa called "The Salt Block" where ponies serve salt to customers. This may seem bizarre but if you're familiar with real horses then you would know that salt is an important source of nutrition for horses (usually served in a form of solid blocks of salt). It also helps them keep cool especially in hot areas (like the desert environment where Appleloosa is) through the minerals the salt they consume provides.
In "Baby Cakes", the Cake's foals are able to run around full-tilt at a month old. This is perfectly possible for real foals, since they can walk within a few hours of birth (and, in the wild, will be abandoned if they can't stand up within a few minutes). In that episode, the month old Pumpkin Cake is clearly teething. Guess when real ponies start to grow teeth. Yup, at about a month old.
In A Friend In Deed, Pinkie pays a compliment to a local florist, and the florist throws Pinkie a flower in thanks...which Pinkie catches in her mouth and swallows. The "florist" is actually a snack cart.
Equestria Girls, has a number of inversions with human Twilight, who makes a number of conspicuously equine gestures throughout the movie. Most notably, an odd little rearing motion when she's introducing herself to Fluttershy, and preparing to kick a vending machine as a horse would.
In fact, pawing at the ground as a threat display or a sign of nervousness actually happens a few times in the series. Twilight and Nightmare Moon both do it before charging each other in the second episode, and Twilight does it again, more playfully, whilst trying to catch Spike and clean his cheek in Secret of My Excess.
Eddie: Sleepy, I still can't believe you've done the essay! I mean, who can find the time?
Sleepy: I'm a bat, I'm up all night. (yawns) What else am I gonna do?
This becomes a Brick Joke later in the episode, when Sleepy mysteriously shows up in Eddie's bedroom:
Eddie: Sleepy! What are you doing here?! It's the middle of the night!
Sleepy: Eddie, I'm a bat! (Face Palm) We've been through all this!
In The Amazing World of Gumball Gumball once napped in a cat-like fashion on his neighbor's porch and when stranded in a forest remembered that he was a predator, tries to roar, but just ends up meowing. In "The Mystery" Darwin (a goldfish) states he doesn't know where he was earlier because he has incredibly little memory. In "The Apology", Miss Simian screeched like a monkey when she went berserk.
Defied in "The Game"; Gumball draws a card playing Dodge or Dare that says he has to bathe himself with his own tongue. Everyone is so disgusting by the idea that they let him pass even though their lives were on the line.
These happen a lot in Kaeloo, especially with Mr. Cat and Stumpy the squirrel. While Kaeloo herself does not displ Scratchy]] escape from the TV into the real world with the intention to kill the Simpsons and find (to their likely surprise) that they aren't actually human-sized. Easily overpowered, Itchy is thrown into a hamster box (where he starts to run in the exercize wheel immediately) and Scratchy falls in love with Snowball II (prompting Marge to say that they should neuter him - and Scratchy shrieking in horror).
In one episode, Daisy and Minnie toss a ball of yarn to Pete and he gets distracted by it for a while.
In another episode, Willie calls Mickey, Donald, and Goofy a mouse, a duck, and a dog respectively.
In Minnies Bow Toons, Clarabelle Cow is heard mooing as she slipped on water in the episode, ay many of these, she goes all out in Let's Play Simon Says, in which she snatches Stumpy's console from him with her tongue and later tells Mr. Cat that she was planning on buying herself a bowl and a little ladder.
Tuff Puppy has a lot of this, mostly from Dudley Puppy. Dudley often chews his own butt and uses his sense of smell to find clues.
Kitty drinks from the water fountain with her tongue and goes crazy for cat toys and catnip. At one point a villain even tricks into chasing a tiny wind-up mouse.
The Chameleon catches bugs with his tongue like a real chameleon.
SWAT Kats generally sees the populace lean towards the more human end of the scale, with the only reminders (aside from the lame cat-puns) being references to consumer goods such as "hairball eliminator," the apparent substitution of milk for alcohol, and the one time in the series that Razor gets a furball (which doesn't really make sense, as they are shown to have bathtubs and showers, which means they don't do the self-grooming that causes furballs to form).
Some of Disney's old "You And Your..." educational films with Jiminy Cricket point out that Jiminy is in fact a cricket, to point of being a Running Gag.
Bugs Bunny is always chewing on carrots and often lives underground.
But real bunnies don't love carrots and the only reason people think they do is because of Bugs.
Sylvester's reason for trying to eat Tweety is basically "I'm a cat".
Bitzer, the sheepdog in Shaun the Sheep, is a throuroughly anthropomorphised Beleaguered Assistant to the farmer. But throw a stick, and he reverts to a regular dog so completely that his wristwatch disappears.
In Adventure Time: Jake the dog scratches his ear with his foot in the episode "When Wedding Bells Thaw."
In "Don's Fountain of Youth" (1953), Donald Duck uses an alligator egg to convince his nephews that he's found the Fountain of Youth... and reverted to a pre-hatched state. One of the few, if not only, instances of Donald's avian nature being plot-relevant.
Very VERY rare occurrence in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In the original cartoon the Turtles only ever pull their heads into their shells ONCE (Possibly a case of Early-Installment Weirdness) and Mikey pulls his head into his shell during the first movie. In the 2003 series, the furry reminders are a bit more subtle: they never pull into their shells in this series, but Raphael is able to escape a boat he's trapped on by swimming to the shore even remarking "Good thing Turtles are amphibious!" and in the Garbageman episode, the Turtles just swim to Garbageman's island.
They also show them shivering and wrapped in blankets in one episode, with one of them lamenting the fact that turtles are cold blooded.