My ancestors sent a little lizard
to help me? Mushu:
! Not lizard. I don't do that tongue thing. (does that tongue thing)
A Talking Animal
(or at least someone who looks like one) is constantly mistaken for another species as a Running Gag
. Often, it can be their Berserk Button
, particularly if they consider it a Fantastic Slur
. This trope often leads to Insistent Terminology
or Have I Mentioned I Am a Dwarf Today?
The Trope Namer
is Cow and Chicken
spinoff I Am Weasel
. Not to be confused with I Am Not Shazam
. Contrast this trope with its inversion
, Ass in a Lion Skin
, for when an animal wants
to be taken for another species.
See Mistaken Nationality
when it is happening with humans for ethnicities or nationalities, or Accidental Misnaming
when dealing with proper names, or I Am Not Spock
when dealing with actors and their characters. If it's the viewers that are confusing a character's species, then that's Viewer Species Confusion
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- In the episode "The Mysterious, Lecherous Monk" , Inuyasha and Miroku persist in referring to a weasel demon as a "raccoon dog" (tanuki) even when he tries to remind them that "I'm a weasel, dang it!" This despite the fact that one of Miroku's oldest friends (and frequent accomplices) is a tanuki, so you'd think he'd know the difference.
- It's also a Running Gag that Shippo is constantly mistaken for a tanuki, leading to him saying "I'm a kitsune!" (i.e. a fox).
- From a different episode:
Villagers: Are you in league with that cat demon? [they mean Kirara]
Inuyasha: Who're you calling a cat demon?!
- In another episode, the gang have to fight a tribe of panther demons. Much to them, and their more human like leaders' anger, the main characters often call them cat demons.
Shippo: It's the cat demons from the west!
Tora: Huh? cat demons? My friend and I are panther demons. Don't lump us with ordinary cats or you'll make us angry.
- Zafira of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, gets this every so often, even from his long-time allies.
Vita: I'm jealous of Zafira, it's so convenient being a dog...
Zafira: ... I'm a wolf.
- Technically, he takes the form of a small dog while on Earth, having been convinced by Arf that it's less intimidating than his wolf form.
- He also prefers to be called a "guardian beast" rather than a "familiar" (an even finer distinction, which Fate's wolf familiar Arf claims to be different only in terminology).
- Yuuno often appears in weasel form, and is occasionally taken for a familiar. In reality, he's a shapeshifting mage.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!
- Half-Dog Demon Kotarô usually prefers to call himself a lone wolf.
- Chamo, from the same series, is an ermine. Negima!? combines this trope with Running Gag and Insistent Terminology when the girls of class 3-A refer to him as a rat.
- One Piece's Tony Tony Chopper is frequently mistaken for a tanuki/raccoon-dog in his hybrid form and a yeti(at least once) in human form. His real form is that of a reindeer. Franky has also referred to him as a "Gorilla" and even "Gorilla-Deer" when he realized he was a Devil Fruit user.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Neo Spacian Aqua Dolphin is called a fish by Judai, and replies that he is a mammal.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Xiao May is thought to be a cat by everyone in Amestris, but she's really a tiny panda bear. Note that the Chinese word for panda literally means "bear-cat".
- Shadows of Spawn — a manga adaptation of Todd McFarlen's Spawn. Ken Kurosawa (who is the series' Spawn) encounters an intelligent wolf spawn named Mangler, whom he often mistakes for a dog.
- A running gag in Doraemon: when someone first meets him, they think he's a tanuki. This makes Doraemon really mad since he's a robotic cat without ears.
- Fritz the Bitter Goblin in the Duel Masters dub gets very upset when he's called a squirrel.
- Happens to Misty in the dub of Pokémon's first season, when a kid raised by Kangaskhan mistakes her for a Pokemon, much to her chagrin (in the Japanese version, he asked about her breasts).
- Like Zafira above, Val of Otogi Juushi Akazukin would like to remind us that he's a wolf, not a dog.
- Even if the domestic dog is still genetically a clear canis lupus, that is, a wolf.
- Belbel in There, Beyond the Beyond is a magician who looks suspiciously like a rabbit, and gets mad when compared to one.
- In Digimon Savers, Masaru's little sister calls Gaomon a dog, prompting him to point out "Would a dog wear boxing gloves?"
- Space Dandy's Meow is very insistent on being called a Betelgeusian, and not a space cat. His catlike mannerisms don't exactly help his case.
- Onegai My Melody, Baku the tapir is constantly mistaken for an eggplant, since he's purple.
- B'dg in the Green Lantern comics is often called a talking squirrel. To be fair, that is exactly what he looks like.
- Old Lace of the Runaways is often called a raptor. She's actually a deinonychus.
- Even though it's in his name, do not refer to Rocket Raccoon as a raccoon - doing so will make him show you his gun collection...the bad way.
Films — Animation
- Zigzagged. Ratigan from The Great Mouse Detective is a "big mouse", but call him a rat and you're dead meat.
- In Rise of the Guardians, Jack Frost insults the Easter Rabbit by calling him "the Easter kangaroo". (Bit of a Lampshade Hanging here, since Bunnymund is played by Hugh Jackman, who amps up the Australian accent.)
- Over the Hedge features a turtle who corrects anyone who call him an amphibian. It also features a pest exterminator with a freakishly strong sense of smell:
Pest exterminator: (sniff) raccoon, squirrel, two opossums, skunk, amphibian—
Vern: (under his breath) — reptile.
Pest exterminator: (sniffs again) No... reptile.
- There is some confusion when Mulan meets Mushu for the first time, hence the page quote. He's just not the size you'd expect for a dragon.
- Mushu himself calls Mulan's horse a cow until the Darkest Hour, where he accuses him of really being a sheep.
- Call Pumbaa from The Lion King a pig only if you're in a real hurry to die. Simba and Timon can get away with it, though.
- In Tangled, Flynn keeps referring to Rapunzel's chameleon sidekick Pascal as a frog.
- At one point in Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase, Fred attempts to bullfight a lion. At first he shouts, "Toro, toro!" which causes the lion to look around in confusion, as if to say "Bull? Where?". Fred thinks for a moment, then shouts, "Leo, leo!"note
- Elsa the Pterodactyl from Were Back A Dinosaurs Story apparently hates being referred to as a bat but she's okay with being referred to as a dinosaur.
- Lampwick from Pinocchio refers to Jiminy Cricket as a beetle just right before he turns into a donkey.
"You mean to tell me you take orders from a grasshopper?"
- In Toy Story of Terror, on the manager's board of toys to sell, Mr. Pricklepants, a hedgehog, is labeled as a "German beaver." Trixie, a Triceratops, is labeled as a "Stegosaurus."
Films — Live-Action
- The Lord of the Rings: Never call an Ent a "tree". Mocked by the Rifftrax of The Two Towers movie.
"TreeBeard some call me."
"Well then, why did you get so upset when we called you by half your name?!"
- Though this is only the case in the movie; it never comes up in the book. Still, it probably makes sense — most shepards wouldn't like being called "sheep", even if their name is Mr. Sheep-Herd.
- From the MST3K take on Eegah!:
Roxy: I didn't say it was a monster! It's a giant!
Crow: There's a big difference!
- Planet of the Apes:
Krull: Monkeys are further down the evolutionary ladder... just above humans!
- Obviously played for laughs in Caddyshack when the gopher steals Rodney Dangerfield's golfball as he's trying to sink a putt.
Al: That kangaroo stole my ball!
- In 1968, the band Canned Heat teamed up with Alvin and the Chipmunks to do a version of the Chipmunk Song ("Christmas Don't Be Late"). The intro to the song was Bob "The Bear" Hite barging into the Chipmunks' recording session as it was Canned Heat's turn to use the studio, and asking somebody to "get those mice out of here", drawing protests from the insulted chipmunks.
- Flanders and Swann's The Gnu Song has two references to g-nus (that's the way they say it in the song) objecting to being confused with "similar" animals like bison, okapis and hartebeests. One even threatens to sue.
- Extremely common on eBay, where anything with spots will half the time be labeled as "tiger pattern", and vice versa.
- In the ZBS Foundation series Ruby: Adventures of a Galactic Gumshoe, rat-faced alien Rodant Kapoor has to constantly correct pronunciation of his name. ("Not rodent, Rodant!")
- Upon creating a Holy Dragon in Disgaea 3, it'll take a moment to inform your other characters, that despite looking like a dog, it's indeed a dragon, after which it says "woof".
- Buzz Buzz, an insect of indeterminate species who provides much of the exposition early on in EarthBound, introduces himself thus: "A bee I am... not..." Shortly afterward, Lardna Minch mistakes him for a dung beetle and squishes him.
- In Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, it's common knowledge that nobody ever should call a Bangaa (the reptilian humanoid race of Ivalice) a lizard; that is, common knowledge to everyone but the protagonist, who crashlanded in the world almost immediately before. Said innocent confusion instead leads to Marche almost getting, one would expect, killed. Likewise, upon their first prolonged meeting, Marche confuses Montblanc, a Moogle, for a stuffed animal...
- The sequel has a Shout-Out where Montblanc manages to prevent Luso from making the same mistake. (Luso knew they were Bangaa, but he didn't know how far his insult would hit.)
- Jak and Daxter: Daxter has been referred to as everything from a muse (sparky yellow cat-things) to a muskrat, though he asserts he is, in fact, an ottsel. In an inversion of the trope name, though, he is, in the most literal sense, a weasel: an ottsel is an otter/weasel hybrid, which are both members of the family Mustelidae.
Clank: Did that... weasel... creature just call me a "sidekick?"
Daxter: WEASEL CREATURE?
Jak: Maybe it's time someone taught you some manners! (Daxter hands Jak his gun, as Ratchet draws his Omniwrench)
- Max of Jays Journey refers to Atolla, a man turned into a lion, as a "talking kitty" throughout the game. Mind, Max has his own issues, but an NPC makes the same mistake, referring to Atolla as a "calico", to Jay's utter bewilderment.
- The Wind Fish in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening reminds you that it is neither wind nor fish when you finally meet it.
- In The Lost Vikings II, the vikings are joined by a werewolf, Fang; it's a Running Gag after he joins the group to have the vikings mistake his species (or at least make horrible animal puns in his presence).
- Lunar: Eternal Blue has Ruby, a cat-like Non-Human Sidekick who never passes up a chance to inform people that she's a baby Red Dragon.
Ruby: Hel-lo! Time for your eye exam! I am not a cat!
- In the predecessor, Lunar: The Silver Star, Nall, another creature who appears to be a flying-cat, reacts badly when anyone refers to him as such, although he is at a loss as to what he is until almost the end of the game.
- In Sonic and the Secret Rings, the Djinn Erazor repeatedly calls Sonic a "blue rat", even when he was sucked back inside of his lamp for the rest of eternity. And each time he did, Sonic repeatedly reminded him that he was a hedgehog, and not a rat. Sonic got the last word in that argument.
- In the Nintendo DS RPG The World Ends with You, Shiki sewed herself a stuffed cat named "Mr. Mew", and she gets extremely angry when Neku (repeatedly) mistakes it for a pig. "Go, Mr. Mew!" "Get 'em, piggy!"
- In Sam & Max Hit the Road a fisherman catches a giant fish:
Fisherman: Holy mackerel!
Fish: I'm a trout, stupid! note
Fisherman: Holy trout!
- In Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, the main characters are accompanied by a Centurion (a spirit-creature) named Tenebrae, who has a vaguely lupine appearence. When the party runs into Collette, a hero of the previous game, she promptly starts referring to Tenebrae as a "doggie", much to his annoyance. When he requests a name more appropriate of his power and dignity, he is instead titled "Mr. Doggie."
- Yuuki Terumi of BlazBlue fame is prone to doing this as per his politically incorrect nature. In some instances, he calls the wolflike Valkenhayn house-dog names (Fido and Old Yeller, for example), and at the end of her CS Arcade run he calls Makoto a chipmunk. This is just the tip of his Fantastic Racism, mind you...
- The species of Exploitation Now's Ralph is a Running Gag in the strip. Whatever people guess, he denies with indignation. (He looks most like a no-name-brand Moogle.)
- In Fletcher Apts, the main character Bob, a hamster who is rather ambiguous-looking, is mistaken for different rodents (a squirrel here and a rat here) and produces a rant about it, which no-one pays attention to.
- George Fennec, from Kevin & Kell, is often thought to be a rabbit. (A fennec is a type of fox with huge ears.)
- In Freefall, Florence Ambrose, a red wolf, get almost invariably mistaken for a dog on first contact.
- In Schlock Mercenary, the title character is often mistaken for a pile of dung.
- In We Are Our Avatars, Kyon once mistook Silver for, of all things, a parrot. Later Hohenheim mistakes him for a parakeet. And mind reading Pikadevil revealed that he believes that he is a hen. His being mistaken for a bird has become a Running Gag. And then the Lost Vikings came along, and mistook him for a platypus, a duck, a swallow, a goat, a cow, and an elephant of all things and later on, he learns that he's 1/16th bird.
- Klonoa's a Phantomillian; he's not a Mobian, he's not a rabbit, and not a nekomata.
- In a Retsupurae video in which Chip Cheezum tackles an LP of Ōkami, the kid starts calling Amaterasu a...bunny. Chip then rages that Ammy is not a bunny, she's a dog. The original description read "IT'S A DOOOOOOOOG", but later "SHUT UP IT'S A WOLF" was added.
- Adventure Time:
- Flame Princess mistakes Finn for a water elemental when she notices tears coming from his eyes.
- Happens again in "Up a Tree", when a chipmunk mistakes him for a squirrel.
- I Am Weasel
- Not even I.M. Weasel himself is exempt from this, with other characters, particularly the Red Guy, referring to him as a squirrel and other such animals.
- I.R. Baboon has the same problem, being called a monkey and a lowland gorilla, among other things. Note that technically, Baboons are monkeys. So, it's probably a case of being too generic since "monkey" can apply to any species of tailed primates not including the prosimians (e.g. lemurs).
- Looney Tunes has some examples:
- Some of the myriad Looney Tunes shorts featured Henery Hawk, an angry chicken-hawk who would violently react whenever anyone called him otherwise.
- The black-and-white cat that Pepe LePew would always "romance". He constantly thinks she is a skunk.
- In The Looney Tunes Show, Daffy thinks Speedy Gonzales is a rat.
- In the same show, Mac and Tosh occasionally get mistaken for squirrels, to which they respond in deadpan unison, "We're gophers."
- In "Year of the Duck", Lola thought that Daffy was a crow and thought ducks were beavers and thought Porky was a seal.
- Dr. Qwark, of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, is constantly being mistaken for a duck, despite being human. "I'm not a duck!"
- The Angry Beavers are constantly mistaken for weasels. Or, more commonly, for "pointy bird things". It's not surprising at all — even for a kid's show, they don't look remotely like beavers except their tails.
- In the Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers episode "Out of Scale", "Ratso" Ratskiwatski sends his two thugs out for squirrels for his daughter. They pick up Chip and Dale. None of the humans can tell the difference, and call them squirrels throughout, each time corrected with a "[We're] chipmunks!" from one or both of them. Not that they ever pick up on this...
- Fang from Dave the Barbarian is always being mistaken for a monkey. She even is delighted that when she meets her idol, he calls her a human. (Even after him doubting for a second.)
- Possibly the example to beat all others goes to Rufus of Kim Possible, a naked mole rat. Various characters assume him to be a gerbil, bald mouse, nude rat, and mutant vermin. And in one case, an alien genetic experiment.
- Doctor Hamsterviel of Lilo & Stitch: The Series is frequently mistaken for a gerbil or other small rodent, insisting that he is, in fact "hamster-like". Though he really does look considerably more like a gerbil/rabbit hybrid than a hamster.
- Mighty Max:
- Virgil is constantly referred to as a chicken. ("Fowl, actually.") Which makes it even more confusing since Virgil has revealed more than once that his race is in fact the next evolutionary stage of mankind. So somehow humans managed to evolve from bipedal primates into a class whose fossil record indicates they should have evolved from therapod dinosaurs? Eh, my brain hurts.
- There was also an episode with Beetle Brow with a running gag of "Bug." "Beetle." "Whatever!"
- Pinky and the Brain are mice, not rats.
- Rocko's Modern Life:
- Rocko is typically mistaken for a beaver. He was also mistaken for a dog once. As he's explained many times, he's a wallaby — "Like a kangaroo, only smaller."
- On the same show, Heffer was often referred to as a cow, and would have to correct people that he was technically a steer. This is justified in that a "cow" is a female bovine, while a "steer" is a male that was neutered as a calf. It's very much like calling a eunuch a "girl" or "woman". Some people tend to get mad when you refer to them as the wrong gender. His saying that he's a steer, rather than a bull, raises some Unfortunate Implications.
- The Simpsons:
- In one episode, Bart and Lisa are rescued by a clan of hillbillies. The patriarch claims that he married a bear and started a family with it after wandering away from a school excursion. His (human) wife keeps loudly insisting that "I ain't a bear!" He's so convinced that he responds to everything she says with "Raar raar raar! No one understands you, she-bear!"
- Grampa Simpson misidentifies family dog Santa's Litte Helper, walking across the room wearing a cone collar, as the lamp trying to escape
Grampa: [chasing SLH in another episode] That raccoon stole my lamb chop!''
- Not quite animal, but Larry the Cucumber of Veggie Tales is often mistaken for a pickle, which bothers him.
- In the first episode of Xiaolin Showdown, Raimundo refers to Dojo (who is a small dragon) as a gecko. Dojo is... not pleased, and shapeshifts into his larger form to intimidate him. This may be a reference to the Mulan example.
- Done with much humor in one of the episodes of Disney's The Legend of Tarzan, where a greedy scientist catches a supernatural silver gorilla with healing abilities. Much to his annoyance he repeatedly has to remind his henchman that it is an ape, and not a "giant monkey".
- Spongebob Squarepants. This has happened to Sandy Cheeks a few times, especially in the episode "Someone's in the Kitchen with Sandy", where townsfolk mistake a naked Sandy for a ferret and even a goat among other things.
- Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. Ickis is rather insistent that he is not a bunny.
- The Ren & Stimpy Show:
- Ren is constantly referred to as other animals like a rat, a weasel, and even, most commonly, a mosquito and he angrily corrects then that he's a chihuahua.
Ren: I'm an Asthma-Hound Chihuahua!
- Also, Stimpy himself is mistaken for a dog by his two-episode-lasting owner George Liquor. Even after Stimpy corrects him, he still insists otherwise.
Stimpy: I'm a cat.
George Liquor: Atta boy, Rex.
- A Kids' WB! promo for Channel Umptee-3 had Jim Cummings mistakenly identifying Ogden the Ostrich as a chicken.
Ogden: [points to Chicken Boo]
See? Chicken! [points to himself]
Not a chicken! Cummings:
Well, ya do look
like a chicken... Ogden:
- Another not-animal but not human so it probably counts: Fairly Oddparents Faries don't like being confused with Pixies and vice-versa.
- Lawn gnomes also hate being confused for Pixies, to the point where they wrote a rap about it.
- A running gag in the original Spider-Man cartoon involved the bad guy of the week refer to Spider-Man as an insect, at which point Spidey angrily yells, "Spiders are not insects! They're arachnids!!!"
- In one episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), an irate New Yorker named Vic tries to make money from a video he took of the turtles fighting, and throughout the episode he kept referring to them as "Kung-Fu Frogs".
- In Tiny Toon Adventures, animal lover Elmyra Duff mistook Dizzy Devil (a tasmanian devil) for a dog and Fifi La Fume (a skunk) for a cat. The latter even had to remind her otherwise (though in the latter's case, Elmyra knew she was a skunk, but thought "skunk" meant "stinky kitty").
- Heckle and Jeckle, billed on screen as "the talking magpies," are often mistaken to be crows.
- In The Tick, Arthur's white moth costume, complete with long thick antennae, is confused for a rabbit.
- Just about any small mammal will be commonly referred to as a rodent, even when it's not.
- Weasels themselves have often been mistaken for giant rodents throughout history because of their prominent front teeth. In fact, their Latin name, Mustela, is loosely translated as "spear-shaped mouse."
- Beavers and otters are sometimes misidentified because they are both aquatic mammals and look similar from a distance. Beavers are rodents. Otters are mustelids.
- Opossums are sometimes mistaken for rats because of the tails. They're actually marsupials, not rodents.
- Glass lizards and other legless lizards are often called snakes. While snakes evolved from proto-reptiles that lost their legs (instead of lizards being snakes that grew legs, as people sometimes think), glass lizards are still much closer in anatomy to lizards than they are to true snakes.
- Sea sponges and most Tunicates are sessile marine filter feeders that often look superficially similar. Sea sponges are very primitive invertebrate animals that do not have nervous, digestive, or circulatory systems. Tunicates have all three. Tunicate larva also look like primitive tadpoles and have a notochord (making them Chordates). Tunicates are more closely related to vertebrates than they are to sea sponges.
- Nearly every prehistoric animal has been called a dinosaur at some point or another.