Hippos (or, by their full name, Hippopotamuses, which is Greek for horse of the river) are usually considered as heavy, lazy, dim-witted, yet charming creatures, while in Real Life, they are actually very dangerous. Many people think that when hippos open their mouths really wide, they're yawning, when they're actually showing off their fangs to warn off other animals. They kill more people in Africa than crocodiles or lions. In fiction, however, they are hardly ever depicted as dangerous. They are usually Ugly Cute Gentle Giants, who may be Big Eaters and/or Fat Idiots. And since they are very graceful underwater, they are often portrayed as Fat Girl or Big Beautiful Woman, making them almost Always Female. Fictional hippos can also be Big Fun.
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Anime & Manga
- Played With in Gash Bell. When Kanchome asks Folgore what his favorite animal is, he says it's the hippo; Kanchome however thinks hippos are lame and that lions are way cooler. During a later fight, Kanchome goes Drunk with Power and terrorizes his enemies (who admittedly had it coming); however, he takes it to the point where even his own allies become afraid of him. Folgore then explains that he was once a "lion man" who would viciously attack wrongdoers but would also scare off his friends with his abrasiveness, to the point where even his own family disowned him. He then saw footage of a hippo with birds playing in its mouth, and decided that that was the kind of man he wanted to be, one who could be a clown that cynical people would laugh at but could still be loved. When Kanchome rejects this and tries to attack him, Folgore holds back his monstrous form with his bare hands, continuing that if they need to, a hippo can overpower even a lion, which serves as the complete analogy for Folgore's character: a man who would act like a fool, but be able to defend things that are important. He then asks Kanchome if he thinks he's lame because he's like a hippo, causing Kanchome to break down in tears and revert to his normal form.
- In Nu, Pogodi!, the hippo is a Gentle Giant recurring extra. Though he often causes the wolf pain, it is usually through obliviousness (such as mistaking him for a member of his building crew and loading some bricks onto his back.)
- One episode of Kérem a következőt! revolves around a Big Eater hippo.
Film - Animated
- Gloria from Madagascar is actually depicted as more Closer to Earth than Alex, Marty, and Melman.
- Hyacinth Hippo and her retinue from Fantasia. Quite graceful despite their weight, though her taking a flying leap into her lover's arms doesn't quite work.
- Tilly from Cats Don't Dance is a giggly Genki Girl who Doesnt Know Her Own Strength.
- The hippos in Disney's Tarzan only make brief appearances, but are depicted as gentle, slow and docile, quite different from their normal aggressive behavior. Hippos are depicted as more aggressive in The Legend of Tarzan, however.
- Averted on The Prince of Egypt, which briefly shows two hippos fighting each other, nearly crushing baby Moses in his basket.
Film - Live-Action
- Congo is one of the rare examples where hippos are portrayed as dangerous, attacking the protagonists on the river.
- Hilda Hippo from Richard Scarry's Busy World is a typical Fat Girl.
- In the Discworld, hippos are the heraldic animal representing Ankh-Morpork. (Big, slow, ungainly, generate a lot of shit, and wallow in filthy water). The city keeps two elderly arthritic hippos, and mythology says disaster will befall if they die or leave. Roderick and Keith are said to have an amicable arrangement of their own. Hippos appear in heraldic art - the Brass Bridge is lined with carved wooden hippos - they appear on the city's coat of arms, and now feature on currency notes and stamps.
- The title character of the classic children's book Veronica is a hippo who longs to be both conspicuous and famous, so she travels to the city where her wish comes true.
- Madame Pavlova Modesté Nijinska, the hippo ballerina in The Lion's Cavalcade by Alan Aldridge, Harry Willock and Ted Walker (the second sequel to The Butterfly Ball).
- "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas."
Don't want a doll, no dinky Tinker ToyI want a hippopotamus to play with and enjoy
- The hippos are referenced in the Flanders and Swann song Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud
- As with the movie, Congo depicts hippos as dangerous and ferocious, showing them with mouths wide open and fangs bared.
Religion and Mythology
- Hippopotas of Pokémon fits the bill, being a gentle and cute hippo-like Pokemon. However, its evolution, Hippowdon, is aggressive and menacing.
- The Hippopressor of Mega Man X: Command Mission is a rare menacing example, being the Warm-Up Boss. It attacks via a large missile on its back and a Wave Motion Gun after its head is broken.
- The title character of Hanna-Barbera's The Peter Potamus Show is a hippo who travels around the world in a hot air balloon with his monkey sidekick, So-So.
- The Hip Hippos from Animaniacs are a hippo couple who like to enjoy the finer things in life.
- When The Simpsons go to Africa they're attacked by a hippo. Homer says that hippos are afraid of water so they get into a convinent canoe. Lisa points out that hippos are actually very good with water (they're "river horses"); but then the hippo they're running from turns out to be afraid of water after all.
- One episode of The Wild Thornberrys had Eliza trying to save a hippo from some Evil Poachers. A later episode realistically depicts hippos as extremely violent and aggressive.
- Lampshaded in one episode of The Cleveland Show. While playing a game of "Hungry Hungry Hippos", Tim wonders why hippos are portrayed in a positive light when they are very dangerous in reality. He also mentions they get their appetites right.
- Gladys the Hippo Lady from Rocko's Modern Life