"It doesn't matter in Gladiator that Romans didn't use dogs on the battlefield, or that the dog disappears from the movie immediately afterward. It's a very simple equation: The good guys are whichever team the dog shows allegiance to, because the dog would never make that kind of mistake, especially if it's an
A tool often used by media makers to help make sure you empathize with the party that they want you to empathize with.
The surest way to show that a hero is undeniably a hero and an awesome guy, is to show him hanging out and totally loving his dog. It's his dog. Who ever heard of an awesome dude that doesn't love his dog?
Think of this trope as being the physical manifestation of Pet the Dog
. If a character has a dog which is around him constantly and whom he is always nice, respectful, and loving to
, then that means a scene literally cannot go by in which he does not Pet the Dog
. So of course he must be noble and good at heart. Villains who are cruel enough to mess with the dog
, on the other hand, can expect full-on retribution from the hero in question.
The dog in question is frequently a Canine Companion
, sometimes also a Post-Apocalyptic Dog
. See also Evil-Detecting Dog
, for some of the logic behind this.
Contrast Right-Hand Cat
and Right-Hand Attack Dog
, compare Kindhearted Cat Lover
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Anime and Manga
- One of the many early hints that Dark Magical Girl Fate of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha was a lot nicer than she first appeared to be was how much she dotes on her Canine Companion, Arf.
- Played with in Fullmetal Alchemist with Roy Mustang. He gives a famous speech about his love of dogs, but the reason he gives for this affection is that you can treat them like crap and they'll still be loyal to you.
- Played straighter with his Lancer, Riza Hawkeye. She's the owner of the puppy that inspired Mustang's speech about dogs.
- Keith Goodman/Sky High of Tiger & Bunny likes to spend his spare time walking his dog, John.
- Played with in Hayate X Blade with Mikado Akira. Immediately after she gives up her need for her father's approval, the root of her antagonistic actions, she is shown to have a dog.
- In Spider Man J, an anime adaptation of Spider-Man, gives Peter a pet dog named Par, along with cat named Leo and a bird named Don. Their names, when said together (as 'Leopardon') form a shoutout to an old Super Sentai show about Spidey.
- Anpanman has Cheese, Anpanman's pet dog. He found Cheese as a stray when he was a little boy, and was the first creature he gave part of his head to to eat.
- Nurse Angel Ririka SOS depicts dogs more positively than cats. After all, the heroine loves her pet dog Herb. Herb even helps her detect evil.
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing - Heero Yuy presents himself as an emotionless killer, but even he turns into a softy around animals, especially dogs. One scene involves him playing fetch with a pair of dogs on the beach and encouraging Quatre to join in, commenting on their ability to sense a person's true character.
- Inverted in Watchmen, where Rorschach clearly doesn't have a high opinion of dogs at all. When he discovers that two dogs owned by a kidnapper were fed the child's body as means of disposing of the evidence, he promptly kills them. Though calling Rorschach a hero is a bit of a stretch.
- Played straight with Nite Owl I's dog Phantom, which marks him as the most mentally stable person in the entire cast.
- Superboy/Superman and his dog companion Krypto.
- Tintin and his Canine Companion Snowy.
- Hawkeye got a dog in the first issue of his late 2012 ongoing after he saved him from being shot at by some thugs while he was unarmed (the dog took a liking to Barton because he gave him a slice of pizza) and ended up getting hit by a car because of it. The dog, while now severely banged up, is seen living with him by the second issue. For added points, the dog's called Arrow, but he thinks of changing that name.
- As pointed out in the Cracked article above, at the beginning of Gladiator, the German peasants are the Ragtag Bunch Of Misfit underdogs fighting against the all-powerful invading Romans in an attempt to protect their homeland. Problem is, the movie wants you to root for the Romans, because that's the side the protagonist, Maximus, and The Good King, are on. Solution? Give them a dog. Even if it doesn't make any sense.
- Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid. This is, in fact, the entire reason why we know he's Prince Charming in the beginning. The first thing we see him do is affectionately play with his dog, and hardly fifteen minutes later he nearly gets himself killed saving his dog's life.
- Mad Max is different from the other road warriors. Because he has a dog, and that makes him a good guy.
- Stanley and his dog Milo in The Mask.
- Robert Neville's last (living) companion in the 2007 film adaptation of I Am Legend is his trusty German Shepherd, Sam.
- In Shoot 'em Up, the hero Smith refuses to kill the Big Bad's dog, Duchess, claiming "I like dogs." He later adopts Duchess as his own.
- Carl ends up adopting Dug as he prepares to rescue Russell in Up. Or at least accepting that Dug has adopted him as his "Master".
- Chuck Norris's Lone Wolf McQuade.
- TRON: Legacy: Sam Flynn has a lot of anger issues, no actual day job, few social contacts, and no direction for his life. His stalwart companion is a "rescue" dog named Marv who gets rewarded with a cheeseburger for helping him prank his dad's company.
- Almost every Mel Gibson movie has his character either owning a dog or being on friendly terms with one.
- In Epic MK is clearly very fond of her dog; Ozzie.
- In Man of Steel, the Kents have a pet dog named Shelby when Clark is a child, and another dog named Dusty when Clark is an adult. Away from the Kent farm, Clark is shown petting dogs... in trailers.
- Chuck and Herc Hansen in Pacific Rim bring their dog Max with them to the Hong Kong Shatterdome. Mako is also seen being affectionate with Max.
- The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden has a rather large dog named Mouse who happens to be an Evil-Detecting Dog and a descendent of a Chinese guardian spirit.
- Subverted in George Eliot's Daniel Deronda. Grandcourt supposedly adores dogs. In reality, he torments them (mentally, not physically), in ways that tell us something about how he intends to treat his wife.
- The Silmarillion: Beren and Lúthien win the loyalty of of Huan, the hound of Valinor, even though he is their enemy's dog.
- Invoked with an entire family of heroes in A Song of Ice and Fire. In the first chapter, the five Stark children and their bastard brother find six orphaned direwolf pups, which will grow up into Big Badass Wolves. There are four males and two females, one of the males an albino outcast. Naturally, the bastard adopts the albino, the three Stark boys take the other males, and the two Stark girls take the females. The wolves become their closest companions, reflecting each child's personality, fate, and more.
- Played with less straightly, however, with Sandor Clegane, the Hound, who loves dogs far more than he likes people but who is by no means heroic.
- Played straight in Deerskin: The heroine's sighthound has been her only real friend for most of her life. (The evil king makes a point of kicking the poor beast right before crossing the Moral Event Horizon.) And the Wise Prince is more at home in the kennel than in the royal court.
- Gilbert Markham with his dog Sancho in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall — he even gives his girlfriend's young son one of his puppies. Anne Brontë loved to make use of this trope, as also seen in Agnes Grey.
- Haplo in The Death Gate Cycle. An unusual example because the dog is the literal manifestation of Haplo's soul.
- A Boy and His Dog: It's just him and his dog After the End. Oh, wait! There's a girl that also survived. Then again, this is Harlan Ellison writing, so the boy is hardly a hero.
Live Action TV
- In the Twilight Zone episode "The Hunt", a man is killed along with his dog while hunting and they wander the afterlife. Eventually they reach the gates of Heaven, but he is refused entry when the attending angel says he can't take this dog. He promptly refuses to go. Turns out that the Devil was trying to trick him into going to Hell, but by refusing to abandon the pooch he gets to take it into the real Heaven.
- Shorty and his crew in Pit Boss do, too, unsurprisingly.
- In Star Trek: Enterprise, Captain Jonathan Archer absolutely adores his pet beagle Porthos. In "A Night in Sickbay", he's willing to throw away humanity's burgeoning relations with the Kreetassans when Porthos becomes infected with a virus after visiting their planet. Admittedly, it's not a very good episode but it does illustrate how much he loves his dog.
- In Hannibal protagonist Will rescued and adopted 6 stray dogs at various points in his life. While he's anxious and unsociable around people, his interactions with the dogs bring out a kinder and more cheerful side to him.
- During the second season of Person of Interest, John and Finch pick up and start taking care of Bear, a Belgian military dog they stole from the terroristic "Aryan Nations," and regularly feature him in some of the more light-hearted semi-comedic moments of the show.
- K-9 from Doctor Who.
- Lance Romenel, Power of Records, in Nobilis has a Newfie dog named Fezzik of which he is very fond. He also serves as a Psychopomp for other people's dogs on a volunteer basis, despite his Estate having nothing to do with dogs.
- Zigzagged in Warhammer 40K. On the heroic side, you have the Space Wolves, where the hero is a seven-foot-tall Space Viking and his dog is a wolf the size of a rhino. On the villainous side, you have Flesh Hounds of Khorne, Hell Hounds that live to rip and slaughter, and Beasts of Nurgle, which is what happens when you take the personality of a Big Friendly Dog and put it in the body of a slug the size of a van that oozes acid.
- Good old Lucas and Boney in MOTHER 3.
- Galford, the All-American hero from Samurai Shodown has his loyal pet dog as a combat gimmick.
- The Bard's Tale has an Anti-Hero Jerk Ass protagonist, a compulsive liar and cheat, who however not only does he pick up a dog companion early in the game, but he sheds a genuine tear and vows revenge when the dog is killed by a monstrous minion of the apparent Big Bad.
- Subverted in Darkstalkers. B. B. Hood has a puppy she takes with her everywhere, even to Hell. Considering her personality, it's probably another thing meant to lull her enemies into a false sense of security long enough so that she can stab them, gut them, riddle them with bullets, and sell their body parts on the black market.
- Metal Gear Solid : Otacon loves dogs and Snake is known to keep a team of Huskies, as he dabbles as a musher. However, Snake is not above murdering dogs which get in his way, much to Otacon's horror. The villain Sniper Wolf also keeps a pack of wolf-dogs, referring to them as her family. Otacon indicates that this is an example that she is, in fact, a nice person, though Snake is very doubtful of this.
- In Fable II, you're given a dog that follows you around and alerts you to the presence of buried treasure. You can praise it, give it treats, and play catch with it. Of course, the same as with your general morality, whether you treat the dog with such kindness is wholly up to you.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, one of your possible companions is a strong Mabari warhound, and if you choose Human Noble origin, he's been with you for years. On the other hand, Well-Intentioned Extremist Teyrn Loghain also used to have a dog that he loved dearly, as he will reveal if you choose to recruit him near the end, and have him in your party with the dog.
- Ferelden culture in general loves the Mabari for their strength, courage, and intelligence (which is implied to be on the same level as humans). The capital city of Denerim is even compared to the Mabari and the term "Dog Lords" is used as a slur for Fereldens by other cultures.
- The Hawke family can have their own mabari warhound in Dragon Age II (if you get the Black Emporium DLC). Even your most moody party members can't help but like him, though Anders states that he's immune to his charms due to being a cat person.
- Shadow of Final Fantasy VI and Rinoa of Final Fantasy VIII both have dogs that assist them in combat, though Shadow is an Anti-Hero and Rinoa is a heroine.
- Sora, of Kingdom Hearts, pals around with Pluto (yes, that Pluto) in the first few hours of the game. In Kingdom Hearts II, his girlfriend Kairi spends an even longer time befriending the dog.
- We've got the crocadog in Jak II: Renegade, who's only loyal to Jak and his younger self. Of course, Jak is good with animals...
- Septerra Core. Grubb builds his own robot dog, Runner, his best friend. When Runner went missing, and was later found with Led, she and Grubb started bickering about which of them was his owner.
- Persona 3 Portable actually has a social link between the Female Protagonist and Team Pet Koromaru.
- Protagonist of Inazuma Eleven GO! Tenma has Sasuke, a dog he rescued when it was still a puppy.
- The wannabe hero Nightshade is, fittingly, a huge dog fan ("What a pretty woofums!"). Cats don't agree with him, though.
- Abel from Street Fighter IV. More than one of his post-fight quotes are about his wish to have a pet dog, him wondering if he can go buy a pup collar after the match, etc. In Super Street Fighter IV, he does adopt a cute little pup.
- It looks as if this trope will apply to the upcoming Call of Duty: Ghosts.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, dogs and cats naturally like Link, partially because he can turn into a wolf and communicate with them. To add extra awww they are the only living thing you can pick up without throwing.
- Bee and Puppycat has the title characters. Though it's debatable if Puppycat counts as his dog.
- This concept went into the planning of Avatar: The Last Airbender: The writers decided not to give Zuko a pet hawk as originally planned because anyone who has an animal companion can't be as damaged and evil...ish as Zuko.
- The sequel series, The Legend of Korra, applies though. Korra has a giant Polar Bear-Dog named Naga.
- In one episode of Sushi Pack, one of the superheroes on the Reality TV show, "The World's Mightiest Heroes" has a Canine Companion, who ends up winning the competition. Later, when that superhero gets married, the dog is his Best Man.
- Where would Mickey Mouse be without his beloved dog Pluto?
- The eponymous character of Jimmy Two-Shoes, the only nice guy in Miseryville, has a dog named Cerbee.
- The paladin Artix from AdventureQuest, DragonFable and AdventureQuest Worlds has the same cute Pomeranian dog as his real-life counterpart. Daimyo can be obtained as a mascot for player characters, too.
- Orel Puppington had a dog he named Bartholomew who he ended up loving . . . more than JESUS. When the adults found out, they put him down. Later Orel believes he hears Bartholomew while flatlining. During the Distant Finale, Orel and his family own a dog similar to Bartholomew.
- Motorcity: Although he doesn't own an actual dog, Mike's car (which is very important to him) is named Mutt and is very dog-like, including his bobblehead dog on the dashboard.
- Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Firestar/Angelica Jones has her adorable pet lap dog Ms Lion
- From Young Justice, Superboy has Wolf. Kid Flash and Artemis also have a dog post-Time Skip.
- It's never been seen in-show, but Noah from Total Drama Island has several times been mentioned to have a golden labrador.
- In G.I. Joe, Snake Eyes has Timber, a wolf whose life he saved and who then loyally followed him around afterward.