"When casting a picture with 'good guys' and 'bad guys', these are important considerations. The 'good guys' have to be small, ineffectual, cute, and associated with nonviolence. It doesn't matter if the real animal is that way or not. You are playing off the images in the viewers' subconscious, and if people grew up thinking a certain way that is where you must start. To have a mean and cruel kitten terrorizing a family of nervous, flighty bears is an uphill fight for everybody."Similar to Animal Jingoism. Also see Animal Stereotypes. There is a tendency, especially in animated works involving animal characters, often Funny Animals or Talking Animals, to cast characters of a certain species as bad guys and characters of a different species as the good guys. Some animals, like butterflies, dolphins, elephants, deer, otters, pandas, penguins, mice, and turtles (except for maybe snapping turtles), are usually portrayed as good, friendly, or nice. Some animals, like sharks, snakes, spiders, bats, crows, vultures, weasels, and rats, are usually just portrayed as bad, mean, or evil. Some animals, like cats, dogs, ducks, parrots, dinosaurs, crocodilians, wolves, big cats (lions, tigers, etc.), bears, bees, lizards, pigs, rabbits and hares, monkeys, foxes, owls, and birds of prey (hawks, eagles, and falcons), can just as easily be either/or in stories. This trope is invoked whenever a work attempts to inform the audience who the good guys and who the bad guys are based solely on their species. When Species Coding is used as a metaphor for racism, it becomes Fantastic Racism. This is different from Animal Jingoism in that here, there may or may not be a natural hatred, and that one side is definitely evil and the other side is definitely good. Keep in mind that not every animal character in a work is necessarily going to align with the alignment most associated with their species. Aversions do occur and is completely up to the discretion of the individual creator. The following list is not meant to pass judgement on the value of the species listed, but simply to associate the species with the alignment most often associated them when species coding is involved. Not every work will employ species coding and thus alignment of the characters will remain independent of the character's species, leaving the species of each character to be an aesthetic choice rather than a visual cue towards their alignment. These works are not examples and should not be listed. See also Good Colors, Evil Colors and Dress-Coded for Your Convenience for when you want to do this with Non-Non-Humans. See What Measure Is a Non-Cute?, where the "goodness" of an animal is correlated with its cuteness, and Unpleasant Animal Counterpart, when the "good" and "evil" animals are paired up against each other. Whenever you expect the above codes to hold true, but they don't, you may be dealing with a Killer Rabbit. For the circumstances that could have led to this trope, see Good Taming, Evil Taming. For sub-tropes dealing with specific animals, look at the Pleasant Animals Index and the Scary Animals Index.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Beast Saga, being the Spiritual Successor to Battle Beasts/Beastformers (mentioned below) features the good Land Tribe and the evil Sea Tribe. The Land Tribe primarily consists of noble big cats and savanna-dwelling herbivores (there's an elephant, a zebra, etc), while the Sea Tribe is mostly sharks, other threatening fish like a piranha and a manta ray, and a few aquatic mammals and reptiles
- There are some notable subversions in both tribes, like the good snake and the evil dolphin.
- The neutral Sky Tribe seems to exist for comedy reasons; its members are mostly cute or non-threatening birds like ducks, parrots, and pigeons.
- Played With the humanoid bird characters in Doraemon: Nobita and the Winged Braves. The heroes and civilians are all species usually portrayed as good (eagles, owls, ducks, ostriches, penguins, pelicans, cranes, etc.) while the antagonists are ones commonly stereotyped as evil (a vulture, a falcon, and crows). Downplayed in that said antagonists are more of Well-Intentioned Extremists that believe humans are a menace to birds, and the vulture receives some sympathy for being shot in the wing and rendered flightless.
- Fortitude from Raphael Sanzio's Cardinal and Theological Virtues is casually petting her lion companion, one of the few animals brave and noble enough to sit beside courage personified.
- Maus: The cats (Nazis) are bad, and the mice (Jews) are good. There are good and bad Polish pigs. Americans are portrayed as dogs. Other animals appear with varying attributes (British appear as fish, Swedes as reindeer, and a gypsy as a moth). Subverted somewhat, however, in that all Germans are cats, Nazi or otherwise. The nice German lady married to a Jewish mouse is still a striped cat (and their children are mice with tiger-like stripes).
- The German versus non-German distinction notably breaks down in this panel◊, where the protagonist mentions how the Nazis tormented other Germans, with a character portrayed simultaneously as both cat and mouse.
- The comic adaptation of the Thundercats follow the same alignment: felines are good; reptiles, canines, primates and birds are evil.
Film — Animated
- An American Tail: The mice are the good guys, and the cats are mostly bad guys.
- Inverted with The Lion King. The Big Bad is a lion, but his species is generally presented as good. Hyenas, meanwhile, are ostensibly bad guys, but it's because they're being starved to death. Individual hyenas come across as Laughably Evil.
- A Bug's Life: Ants are good. Grasshoppers are bad. A bunch of other insects, such as flies, a ladybug, a mosquito, etc, appear and have their traits used for gags.
- Played with in Kung Fu Panda, with villainous wolves and crocodiles in an Imagine Spot and rabbits, pigs and ducks for civilians... actually, any species that doesn't have more than two specimens is destined to stand out, for better or worse. The villain, however, is a snow leopard. His motivation is borne out of psychological resentment rather than anything to do with species, and animals tend to pretty much get along.
- Rock-A-Doodle: Owls are evil to the point of having vampiric weakness to sunlight. All other animals are good. Some of them have obnoxious tenancies, though.
- The Secret of NIMH and its source novel, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, averted this for the most part. Rats were both good and bad guys, the owl was terrifying but also wise and helpful if you dared to approach him, and the crow is not at all evil. However, Dragon is a prime example of Cats Are Mean.
- Cat City: Mice are good, Cats Are Mean, rats are mean but clumsy. Subverted with the bats, who are first menacing, but become friends with one of the protagonists.
- In films such as The Pebble and the Penguin and Happy Feet, penguins are usually good guys while leopard seals and skuas, their natural predators, are Always Chaotic Evil.
- Hilariously inverted in the Soviet-era Russian series Leopold the Cat. A kind, peaceful and artsy Leopold is harassed by two mice bullies, who set traps and perform brutal practical jokes on him. In most cases, they're just a petty nuisance, given that Leopold is several times larger, older and wiser. Having a Jesus level in forgiveness, Leopold occasionally even saves the mice.
- In the wizard duel scene of The Sword in the Stone, Madam Mim turns mostly into traditionally evil animals like a crocodile, a cat, a fox, a rhinoceros, a snake and a dragon (although an elephant and a chicken are also thrown in the mix). Merlin turns into traditionally good ones like a tortoise, a mouse, a rabbit, a caterpillar and a walrus (the only forms that actually have weapons are a crab and a goat).
- In the animated soccer match sequence of Bedknobs and Broomsticks, the yellow team consists of stereotypically mean animals (a lion, a rhino, a warthog, a hyena, a crocodile and a gorilla), while the blue team consists of stereotypically nice ones (a cheetah, an ostrich, a hippo, a kangaroo and an elephant).
- In The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Rats, Moles, Badgers and Toads are good and Weasels and Stoats are bad.
- Robin Hood has foxes, hens, rabbits, owls, mice, cats, dogs and turtles to be good, whilst Prince John is served by wolves, vultures, boars, rhinoceroses, a crocodile and a snake. Lions don't follow the pattern, with King Richard presented as good and Prince John as evil, because they are royalty and so are operating under a different trope.
- Over the Hedge centers around a group of woodland friends that mixes species usually seen in a more negative light (porcupines, possums, a raccoon, and a skunk) and more positive light (a turtle and a squirrel) together. Pets are also shown sympathetically. The only animal that's intimidating or anything is a big black bear that's got every reason to be pissed off (somebody broke into his home, woke him up, and tried to steal his food).
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit is an interesting case. While weasels are portrayed as uniformly evil and serve the malicious Big Bad, all other animals are presented as basically good (although some cases very mischievous, but then it's to be expected in a film running on Rule of Funny). An important factor is that all of them in this movie, except for two ancillary real animals (a real horse in the background of the scene where Eddie and Dolores are outside talking and a real dog being walked by a person that are both seen for a few seconds), are animated and supposed to be toons in-universe.
- Zootopia takes traditional animal stereotypes and plays around with them in a way that subverts them as often as plays them straight. Wolves are threatening but have a crippling obsession with howling, sloths are slow but rather clever, and so on. This turns out to be the whole point of the movie, with attitudes among sentient animals being a stand-in for social bias and prejudice. For the most part, the various characters are flawed but fundamentally good (or, at least, morally grey) and the main story-line involves a situation where predator animals are reverting to their primitive, savage ways. Some exceptions are a particularly trashy weasel (Disney really seems to want to hold on to this stereotype), a vicious, crime lord shrew and a gang of criminal sheep (from the Big Bad on down being motivated by lust for power rather than species).
Film — Live Action
- Cats & Dogs: A movie in which cats were evil and try to Take Over the World and dogs were good trying to save the world. In the sequel, however, some of the cats are actually good, but the villain is still a cat.
- The first Narnia movie has the armies of Aslan and the Witch pretty much divided among these lines. There are dwarves on both sides, but they are visually different depending on which side they were on (mostly by hair color). In the second movie, however, nearly all of the non-humans of Narnia (minus a Hag, Werewolf, and Black Dwarf) fight together, and a minotaur sacrifices himself to save the monarchs.
- Kobitos Zukan Stormy Blackwings and Saintly Redwings are heavily implied to be good/evil versions of each other.
- Redwall played this to a T. The few exceptions were Gingivere and his descendant Julian, who were both good cats, and Veil, who was possibly slightly maybe good. A couple of birds of prey who would normally eat mice and other small rodents had their turn on the side of good, too. But apart from the few notable exceptions, even Deyna in Taggerung, who was raised to be evil's champion, wound up being good because he was an otter.
- There were a couple other exceptions, such as the searat who reformed in The Bellmaker and the traitor shrew in Marlfox. But for the most part, yeah, it was Good Species versus Evil Species.
- The Deptford Mice books fall under this, too. Mice are good, rats are evil; squirrels are good, bats are good, and the main villain is a cat. There are exceptions, rats that are sort-of good and nasty mice, but for the most part, convention is followed.
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe split talking beasts more or less along the standard lines between those on the side of the Witch and those on the side of Aslan. This didn't show up so much in the rest of the series when Narnia was united, but "evil" animals didn't show up much at all then.
- The Wind in the Willows: Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger are good guys, as the rabbits, whilst Weasels and Stoars are evil.
- In The Bad Guys series, wolves, sharks, snakes, and piranhas are blatantly categorized as “bad animals” in this world. This is their cause to become good, thanks to this stereotype.
- Star Trek: Enterprise the antagonists of the third season, Xindi, who plot to destroy humanity with mini-Death Stars because trans-dimensional beings told them humans will destroy their future home world, are split into five species, the Reptillians and Insectoids the much more benevolent Primates and Aboreals (who side with humans near the end of the season after being told they've been lied to by the trans-dimensonal beings) and the neutral Aquatics. There also exist Avians but they went extinct before the series began.
- The Wesens in Grimm also tend to be like this; Mauzherz (mice), Genio innocuo (tortoise), Seelengut (sheeps) and Fuchsbau (foxes) been generally good or peaceful while Klaustreich (cats), Königschlange (snakes) and Gelumcaedus (alligators) to name a few are evil (or at least generally violent). Nevertheless other like Blutbad (wolves) and Bauerschwein (pigs) have both good and bad individuals in a more balanced level.
- Garfield the Cat vs. The either evil or spotlight stealing dogs.
- The binoculars in Far Cry 3 identify whether an animal is a herbivore or a predator, the distinction being whether or not they'll attack (e.g. a buffalo normally eats grass and is a herbivore, but is marked as a predator because it attacks those provoking it.)
- Subverted in the Pokémon games. While many of the villains used Dark-Type and/or Poison-Type Pokémon, the Pokémon themselves are not actually evil. They're just essentially doing what their trainers are telling them to do.
- The Anime features an episode where Ash's Pokémon and Team Rocket's Pokémon are both stranded on a tropical island. It's revealed that Ekans and Koffing are actually quite friendly when they're not busy trying to capture Pikachu and were just trying to make their trainers happy. In fact, it's only Meowth that's willingly evil (although he's sometimes a jerk with sympathetic qualities rather than an outright antagonist, particularly since he's usually Laughably Evil).
- The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games play this straight with most villainous teams having at least one Poison-Type member.
- Angry Birds: Pigs are evil, while birds are good.
- Donkey Kong Country: Crocodiles are evil, while primates are good.
- Rocket Knight Adventures: Depending on the game, Pigs (Original), Lizards (Genesis Sequel), and Wolves (SNES Game) are evil, while the possums (with the exception of the villainous Axel Gear) are good.
- Star Fox Adventures, formerly Dinosaur Planet, has the antagonistic Sharpclaws, a race of anthropomorphic theropods, led by General Scales, an anthropomorphic allosaur despot. Other hazards include non-anthropomorphic tyrannosaurs and Galdon, a bizarre insectoid dinosaurian thing that also appeared to be some kind of carnosaur hybrid. The only really evil mammal is Andross. Fox's allies are pterosaurs, ceratopsians, and other herbivorous dinosaurs. And the odd mammoth or two.
- In Conker's Bad Fur Day, the Bees are pacifists and would rather tickle people than sting them, but the Wasps play the Bee Afraid trope straight.
- Tom and Jerry: With Tom being the antagonistic cat, and Jerry being the lovable hero or the other way round.
- Ace again, this time in Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
- In Biker Mice from Mars, the Martian mice are always good (with the exception of their government and one traitor), while the Plutarkian Fish People from the original series and the Catalonian cats from the Revival are almost always evil.
- Non-animal example: In the Transformers continuities, most of the Autobots turn into ground vehicles, while most of the Decepticons turn into aircraft. A few more specific vehicle types are almost always affiliated with a certain faction; Autobots are more likely to turn into emergency response vehicles like police cars and ambulances, while Decepticons are more likely to turn into purpose-built war machines like bombers and artillery guns.
- G1 also had several instances of Autobot teams vs Decepticon teams where the Autobots turned into vehicles while their Decepticon counterparts turned into animals. The most prominent examples was probably the Headmasters: Autobots included Highbrow, a futuristic helicopter, Hosehead, a fire truck, and Chromedome, a car, while Decepticons included Weirdwolf, a wolf, Mindwipe, a giant vampire bat, and Skullcruncher, a crocodile.
- Beast Wars brings it back around to this; the Maximals all turn into either mammals or birds (with the exceptions of Dinobot and Blackarachnia, who both started out as Predacons before doing a Heel–Face Turn), while the Predacons all turn into either reptiles or arthropods. There are a few fish on both sides, though, and at least one mammalian Predacon in Ravage. The theme was especially notable in regards to the Fuzors, who had Mix-and-Match Critters for beast modes — Maximal Fuzors included Torca (orca/elephant), Bantor (tiger/mandrill), and Silverbolt (wolf/eagle), whereas Predacon Fuzors were guys like Terrorgator (crocodile/turtle), Skyshadow (dragonfly/lizard) and Quickstrike (cobra/scorpion).
- Beast Wars II and Beast Machines had it both ways, with the good-guy team of animals fighting a bad-guy group of vehicles. Although note that "animals vs machines" means that normally "evil" animals were on the good guys' side, as seen with the Maximal cobra Night Viper and the Cybertron weevil Drill Nuts. The bad guys of II received a Mid-Season Upgrade, receiving their own beast modes. They were: A T-Rex, a raptor, a shark, a wasp, and a wolf. Even this was still in keeping with the "animals vs machines" premise — the good guy Cybertrons had organic beast modes, whereas the Destrons were cyborg in appearance.
- Beast Wars Neo featured mostly-mammalian Cybertrons and evil dinosaur Destrons.
- Beast Wars Shattered Glass features a small group of Autobots taking beast modes, including a lion, an eagle, and an elephant, opposing a group of Decepticons mostly made up of the Seacons (a sub-group that includes a shark, a snapping turtle, and a squid).
- The Battle Beasts in Transformers Headmasters followed a similar idea with reptiles, amphibians and sealife as evil, and warm-blooded species as good. There were a handful of mammalian-or-avian Decepticon Beastformers, though. Most (yet not all) the Transformers of that same era followed a pattern of vehicular Autobots and beast Decepticons.
- Transformers Animated kept with the vehicular version, but made it narrower — its main Autobots are all non-combat vehicles (even Bulkhead, a military transport), whereas its Decepticons are mostly heavy-hitting war machines. The "Autobots drive, Decepticons fly" thing was also enforced and pointed out; until Jetstorm and Jetfire, flying Autobots didn't exist (unless you counted the Omega Sentinels), whereas four of the five main Decepticons are planes or helicopters. Contrast Optimus Prime's ever-present "Autobots, Transform and Roll Out!" with Megatron's new Evil Counterpart, "Decepticons, Transform and Rise Up!".
- Transformers: Robots in Disguise flips the "animals vs machines" concept — virtually every evil Decepticon has animal features in robot mode (so they don't actually turn into animals, for the most part), while the heroic Autobots, excepting Grimlock, are just your standard car robots
- The series Krypto the Superdog featured primarily "Heroic dogs VS evil cats" for their good guys and bad guys. One noteable exception was Streaky, a heroic cat that acted as Krypto's partner for many episodes. There was also Ignatious, Lex Luthor's pet iguana. However, he was more of a Jerk Ass than actually evil.
- The short-lived Sectaurs cartoon. comic, and toyline was an interesting variation on this; the heroes and the villains are all humanoid insects or arachnids. However, the heroes are based on harmless, cool-looking bugs, like beetles and dragonflies, where the villains were based on venomous or frightening ones like wasps and spiders.
- ThunderCats (1985) features heroes based on big cats, with the bad guy's main Mooks being an ape-man, a jackal-man, a vulture-man, and a nasty lizard-man. The Big Bad Mumm-Ra gets his power from the Ancient Spirits of Evil, deities which resemble a hog, a crocodile, a bull and a vulture. In contrast, his counterpart on the side of good Mumm-Rana gets her power from the Ancient Spirits of Goodness, deities which resemble a horse, an otter, a goat and an ibis.
- The ThunderCats (2011) reboot gave them more dept. The "bad" animals like dogs and lizards are not evil per se, but victims of the circumstances and the felines are not entirely good either.
- In The Raccoons raccoons, dogs, birds (except for birds of prey) and cats are good whilst aardvarks, pigs, rhinoceroses and bears are bad (with the exception of aardvarks Cedric and Sophia, the Token Heroic Orcs of the series).
- Babar elephants are good and peaceful as they are traditionally portrayed and rhinoceros are bad and violent, also as traditionally portrayed. Although the rhinoceros might be an aversion considering that they are ruled by a dictator so not all of them are really evil, and the dictator himself is more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
- TaleSpin plays with this trope. In a world of anthropomorphic animals naturally all the different species would have good and bad individuals, nevertheless the main heroes and villains do play the trope straight. For example the main heroes are bears, orangutans and a lion, whilst the most recurrent villains are a tiger, a band of wolf pirates, a gangster crocodile and his two goons a rhino and a gorilla, and the boar-like Thembrians.
- In The Lion Guard, generally you can tell by the species who's going to be an antagonist. There are some exceptions, such as Jasiri and her family being good hyenas, the old crocodile leader Pua being wise and kind, and Makuu pulling a Heel–Face Turn in Season 2. But in general if the animal is stereotyped as evil in real life it will cause trouble for the Lion Guard, while animals that get stereotyped as good or either will be on the Guard's side.