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Invisible Anatomy

Edgar: Ah, you see, the poor dumb beasts have no thumbs, so I ask you... how are they holding their cards?
Raz: St—St—Sticky paws?
Edgar: It should be impossible, and yet somehow they go on... playing the game.

Many animated characters, especially Funny Animals, are missing certain anthropomorphic features- perhaps the art style is stylized to the point where hands lack fingers, some characters simply don't have arms, or nobody is of a species that has appendages.

This will not impact their functioning in any meaningful way—they interact with the world as any fully-abled human would, as though the missing elements were simply invisible. Salt shakers and boxing gloves will simply float in midair by their torso, dumpster lids will spring open in their presence, and they'll hover next to the pull-up bar.

Not to Be Confused with Barbie Doll Anatomy.

Compare Armless Biped, Anatomy Anomaly, Feather Fingers, Fourth Wall Portrait, Raymanian Limbs, Powerpuff Girl Hands

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Krillin of Dragon Ball fame was drawn without a nose, which was a plot point when he was in a fight with a large, hairy man who deliberately didn't bathe so no one would be able to stand being around him long enough to actually fight him. He suffered horribly from the odor during the fight, until Goku reminded Krillin that he didn't have a nose...
    • In the same arc (in the manga, at least), Krillin fights Jackie Chun and flicks boogers at him. Fans wrote in asking how it was possible if they'd just established that he doesn't have a nose and the author admitted he forgot about it when he wrote that scene.
    • Of course, next arc had him sniffing a jewel Bulma hid in her bikini bottom front because "it might smell bad". This was more Rule of Funny than lack of consistency.
  • In One Piece, Brook is a Devil-Fruit reincarnated skeleton, who nonetheless can see, hear, talk, move around, digest food, urinate and poop. (Luffy made sure to ask) Not only that, but his anatomy is also intangible, as he weighs so little that he can run on water. Also a case of Required Secondary Powers.
  • In Pani Poni Dash!, anthropomorphic rabbit Mesousa isn't drawn with hands, and is frequently depressed when reminded that he can't hold anything.
  • Got lampshaded at one point in a Pokémon episode, where Meowth is worried about his nose being damaged, and is then reminded by one of the other Team Rocket characters that the animators didn't give him a nose.

    Comics 
  • There's a Far Side cartoon somewhere with a bunch of snakes in a bar, all holding and reading newspapers despite their lack of arms. Larson himself pointed out the problem in one of the book collections.
    • It's also subverted in another strip, with a cowboy snake saying to another that they shouldn't duel, since it will just be another standoff.
    • And one where a bunch of snakes are having a party inside a house while another snake is outside looking in through the window. One of the snakes inside is standing at the door and saying "Hey, Bob wants in. Anyone know how to work this thing?"
  • Cathy has no nose, and yet she frequently talks about how good something smells.
  • Minor superhero Atmos of Xanthu is often drawn as having an invisible torso, with his costume outlining his shoulders and abdomen but everything in between missing.
  • In the children's magazine Cricket, Sluggo the snail is often seen carrying around a baseball bat, despite his lack of appendages to hold it with. George the earthworm isn't usually seen carrying items with him, but he often leaves things propped up outside his hole with no explanation for how (or if) he managed to move them there.
  • Doom Patrol villain Love Glove lost his arms after having a strange dream about a glove-laden tree, and has a single disembodied floating glove to manipulate his surroundings with. He can also retrieve gloves with special powers from the glove tree, such as the Shove Glove.
  • Rex The Wonder Dog — it makes sense for him to not have hands, since he's, you know, a dog... but they gave him a carbine.

    Films — Animation 
  • All the characters in Cars are... well, cars. With no hands. So how do they grip things like power tools or flags? There are foot (wheel?) pedals that they use to activate some things, and some of the cars have special attachments for holding things, but the question remains: how was all this stuff built?
  • Many Monsters in Monsters, Inc.. A lot of the stock monsters are shown without hands, feet, or are just toothy heads walking around on little nub limbs. So how do these monsters operate the machinery, let alone drive cars? In fact, how can Wazowski drive a car himself so effectively when he doesn't have binocular vision?
    • Possibly this could provide an answer of sorts.
      • There are people with only one eye who drive perfectly well. The real limiting factor is peripheral vision, and since Wazowski's mostly a giant eye…
  • Surf's Up: Justified with Chicken Joe because he can at least use his feather fingers to manipulate objects, but it becomes stranger when it shows the main character, Cody, somehow using a Shaka sign (which consists of extending the thumb and smallest finger while keeping the three middle fingers curled, and raising the hand as in salutation with the back of the hand facing the person that is being greeted) despite having flippers.

    Literature 
  • The shapes in Flatland.
  • The oysters in "The Walrus and the Carpenter" from Through the Looking Glass:
    Their shoes were clean and neat—
    And this was odd, because, you know,
    They hadn't any feet.
    • The Disney version shows this by having the oysters floating over disembodied shoes.
  • Mr. Sneeze from the Mr. Men series lacks visible arms, and his book mentions him doing things requiring arms, such as packing a suitcase. Also, many Mr. Men and Little Misses lack visible noses, and in The Mr. Men Show episodes "Books" and "Shoes", Mr. Messy and Little Miss Chatterbox (who lack visible noses) are seen smelling things.

    Live Action TV 
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 parodies this; Tom Servo's lack of arms doesn't prevent him from playing a bass for "Hike Up Your Pants"... nor does it stop him from actually twirling it around.
    • It's really more played with than done straight. Tom has arms and hands. They're just not functional.

    Video Games 
  • Rayman, being the Trope Namer for Raymanian Limbs, has visible hands and feet, but no arms, legs, or neck. And given his use of White Gloves, we can't even be sure he actually has anything besides his head. In moments of boredom, Rayman has a tendency to remove his torso and bounce it like a basketball.
    • Rayman: Raving Rabbids implies that he might have invisible legs. If he is wearing pants, you can clearly see knees.
  • In Spore, creatures without arms handle tools just fine, though the game suggests you get arms anyway (and, indeed, the Creature phase actually gets kind of hard without em).
    • Creature without arms in Spore wield tools with their mouths.
    • You actually get an achievement for finishing the creature stage without ever having given your creature legs. There's no similar achievement for arms, and you can add legs in the post-creature stage/pre-tribal stage final creature editor, because you get the achievement before that editor.
  • Many species in the Paper Mario games, such as Goombas and Bob-Ombs.
    • And in Mario Baseball, the same species can swing a baseball bat with no hands.
    • Goombella, introduced in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, especially stands out, as (to get information on the opponent you're facing in a battle) she frequently takes out a green book and turns the pages, despite her lack of visible arms. And despite the fact that a lot of tropes are lampshaded in the game, neither she nor anyone else comments on this.
  • The Mii characters built on Nintendo's Wii console have arms when created, but in Wii Sports, they don't have them. They just have floating sphere hands or boxing gloves. Any non-player Miis in the background will also lack legs. Most games that use them in gameplay just reproduce the head on a single style of body anyway, and ignore the user-defined height and weight sliders.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog, characters have been shown that, without shoes on (Or in Big and Tikal's case, with sandals on), they don't have toes. Oddly enough, they do have five fingers. Also note that this only applies to the anthropomorphic animal characters: as humans do have toes.
  • Even weirder in games like Half-Life 2, where the characters have arms and hands, and do use them to hold weapons, but when they do anything else (like push a button or lift a small object) their arm is not shown. As pointed out in Concerned, a small object just hovers in front of the character. Also, you can't see your feet.
    • This is only for the player character; everyone else uses their hands normally. The Half-Life series does allow you to see your hands (usually while holding a weapon), but not how they connect to your body.
    • Averted in Left 4 Dead , where your arms and legs are visible. Played straight in Left 4 Dead 2 with your legs.
  • FEAR nearly avoids the 'invisible third hand' and 'floating torso' phenomenon found in many shooters, arms and legs are required to climb ladders, swim and are seen flailing when the player is thrown though a window. Doors and buttons, however are used without physical contact.
  • The characters of Final Fantasy Tactics do not have noses on their faces. (Though sometimes in the PSP FM Vs if you're shown a profile you'll see a small bump between their mouth and eyes.) In fact, no noses is something of a recurring style in a lot of Akihiko Yoshida's work like the artwork for Final Fantasy III DS.
  • Yeta from Twilight Princess. Her arms are never visible at any point, but they are probably hidden under that blanket she's covered in.
  • Dizzy from the eponymous games is an egg with a face, and apparently unattached boxing gloves and boots.
  • Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas lets you pick up objects in front of you without putting them in your inventory. The effect is the same like in Half-Life 2, except since you can change the camera to a third person view, you can see the object is literally floating in front of your character while your arms can be holding something else or nothing at all.
  • Dragon Overlord Babylon in Makai Kingdom has no arms. He can still hold a pencil and write, and states that it's "none of your damn business" how he can do it.
  • Worms hold weapons in hands that mysteriously appear when they're not moving. Let's ignore for the moment that worms don't have hands, mouths, or eyes and can't jump or backflip. Said hands don't appear to be connected to their bodies in any physical way, just floating a set distance away.
  • The birds in Angry Birds have no visible wings or legs. Their anatomical lack became particularly noticeable when developers of the game were ask to design a mascot for the 2012 Ice Hockey World Championships, resulting in Hockeybird, a creature that can play ice hockey with no limbs at all.
  • In the Super Mario World Game Mod A Super Mario Thing, the main character, Demo, has invisible limbs. However, she can still lift shells and such just like Mario could. The prequel fixes this by having her balance the items with her leg.
  • In Stinkoman 20X6, 1-up, like his counterpart Homestar Runner, lacks visible arms, yet he can still climb ladders. So can Stinkoman, who has no fingers.
  • In the House of the Dead series, when the player(s) do something such as picking up an object, usually they don't even reach out for it. For example, in the first game: "This must be the security card." *card disappears*

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner lacks visible arms, as do Marzipan, the King of Town, and Homsar. Depictions of this vary between seeming like the characters have invisible arms (one time Homestar, wearing a long-sleeved coat, picked something up and the coat's arm moved as if there were something in it) or just having some sort of telekinetic power (another time, Homestar held four objects at once).
    • One humorous example is when Strong Bad and Pom Pom demonstrate their favourite ways of flipping the bird. When Homestar walks by, Strong Bad lifts up his hand (which lacks fingers, because his hands are boxing gloves). Homestar just smiles and says "Wight back atcha, Stwong Bad!" Strong Bad is taken aback, and exclaims, "He just gave me the bird!"
    • Most likely invisible arms. At the end of "8-Bit is Enough", you see him chained up as if he had arms.
      • And yet afterwards, Homestar walks away from the shackles without them having been unlocked...
    • And, of course, Strong Bad always types with no fingers. Always Lampshaded with the ridiculous number of emails he recieves asking "How do you type with boxing gloves on?" Addressed once when he taped random objects onto his boxing gloves as "fingers," which led to his inability to type correctly.
  • The characters in Zero Punctuation don't have arms. Lampshaded in the end credits to the Guitar Hero review, questioning how one character had a bind despite having no arms.
    • One review had to clarify when a character was supposed to be "crossing his arms."
  • How the hell is Handy the Beaver in Happy Tree Friends able to build so many things with handheld tools when he only has amputated stumps for hands? Granted this is only seen off-screen, but when he realizes his obvious predicament all his building expertise goes out the window. Ditto for Cro-Marmot whose entire body is encased in ice yet is still capable of performing various tasks.

    Web Comics 
  • In A Moment Of Peace, only gods have visible fingers.
  • Rice Boy, despite being the only character in his Verse with no obvious limbs, has comparatively little trouble picking up and carrying small objects.
  • The Monster in the Darkness of The Order of the Stick is always hidden in impenetrable shadows; when he interacts with his surroundings nothing of him is seen, leading to situations like a bucket of stew seemingly floating in midair when he is eating.
  • All characters in Com'c are drawn without eyes or ears, or anything below the head, for that matter. The lack of eyes is the title's origin.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, one of the many ways that Dr. Disaster completely disregarded realism in designing the scenario of his space battle simulation is the fact that the terrible Enigmarons are somehow able to build a Death Ray and tie people up (all off-screen) in spite of their lack of arms.
  • Bob and other beholders from Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic sometimes give off this effect, carrying or manipulating things despite a lack of prehensile appendage. Justified, though, since beholders are gifted with telekinesis.
  • The Beta Shlumpys from Vexxarr. This comic shows as much of their anatomy as apparently exists; a blob and three eyes on stalks, as Vexxarr explains that they can't take him away, because they have no hands. They are apparently surprised by this, but in the next comic they have rioted and destroyed their city.
    Vexxarr: Humph. Makes you ask the big questions...
    Minionbot 107: Such as...?
    Vexxarr: Hands! They don't have any hands! How can they riot and burn their cities if they don't have any hands!?
    Minionbot 107: True... even the Buddha has the one.
  • Does anyone in A Magical Roommate have fingers? Most of the time no one seems to have elbows!
  • Ghastly's Ghastly Comic:
    • One character has invisible...er...anatomy. He takes advantage of it for nefarious purposes.
    • Deconstructed with Chibi Sue, who is a 30-year-old woman stuck in a chibi body. With no fingers. And because all the males who have interest in her are either little kids or creepy paedophiles, that is a BIG problem.
  • This is one of the many, many running gags in the various MS Paint Adventures comics. Characters are often drawn armless unless they're actually using them, and almost always when they're first introduced. Their first instruction is with a few exceptions always "Retrieve arms from <x>".
  • This is how the two tooth characters, Lardee and ickle, from My Milk Toof are able to do anything like when they go fishing.
  • Wally the Whale and his fishy friends of Fruit Incest tend to just float and move objects without any limbs or even flippers. Lampshaded a couple of times, as even they don't seem to know how they do it.
  • In The Adventures Of Joe The Circle the three main characters are respectively a circle, triangle and pair of ovals, with no other features except faces. Word of God establishes that they're all telekinetic.

    Web Original 
  • Fuzzy, so much so that the creators made humanoid version of him to play sports. But then lampshaded it by letting him play basketball.
  • The Trapezoid Kids are a subversion - the tops of their heads double as arms for them. Their shorter-end corners serve as feet. But they DON'T HAVE FACES!
    • And it has yet to be explained how Cornert's bowtie stays on, or Polly's bow for that matter.
  • The Floating Hands series of web cartoons. Matt Gardner animates in Flash, you see, and it's just easier to have heads and hands as completely disembodied body parts that he can move around independently.

    Western Animation 
  • The Powerpuff Girls don't appear to have fingers, but this doesn't stop them from being able to pick up the phone. As with Homestar Runner, this has been lampshaded several times. Once when Buttercup switched bodies with the professor she found it weird that she had to use fingers and that things didn't just magically stick to her hand.
    • The titular girls also lack noses and ears for some reason, and yet are still able to smell and hear things. As with their hands, every other character in the show has a nose and ears. They also don't have feet in the same sense that other characters do- instead they have vaguely defined areas on the rounded ends of their legs that serve as feet and they somehow wear shoes on. They look rather bizarre when you think about it, which raises the question of why anyone in the PPG universe finds them cute.
      • The movie actually has a character point out how freakish the girls looked while the entire town tells them what an awful jobs they're doing.
  • Most of the characters from VeggieTales are sentient vegetables with no limbs, yet they frequently brandish devices or perform tasks that would require some form of manual dexterity to operate — some examples are driving, wearing, eating, and wear boxing gloves. Lampshaded for further comedic effect where Larry the cucumber says he can't play a guitar because he has no hands. He ends up playing the theme with a sousaphone.
    • On another occasion, Buzz-saw Louie, a living action figure character uttered the classic lines: "Alright! Everybody who's got hands, start tying!" And, after a pause, "That would be me."
    • In Josh And The Big Wall, there is thunderous applause for Jerry's BFG, which leads to Tom Grape looking around and then asking Pa Grape "How are we clapping?"
      • Even better, Pa's reply is, "I have no idea."
    • Also note that they can never actually manipulate objects when it matters most.
    • They started out avoiding any manipulation, then slowly warmed up to it. Early instances of the trope conveniently hide the fact that they are levitating the object.
      • Interesting fact: According to the DVD commentary for The Star of Christmas, they still have a strict rule that objects "held" by the characters should always be partly in front of or behind the character, and never "break the silhouette."
    • An ad for the series 3-2-1 Penguins!, made by the same studio, had Larry enter, look at one of the penguins, and yell offscreen, "Bob! They've got arms!"
      • Another episode has the Scottish Carrot character knocking on a door — and showing a human hand in the close-up. The carrot reacts with understandable shock. The same thing later happens with his feet while walking...
      • The Spin-Off series The Animated Adventures of Larry-Boy seemed to be deathly afraid of this trope. The title character had a Utility Belt that had hammerspace claws and other manipulating devices, and characters had levitating gloves, gauntlets, and sleeves at every opportunity.
    • Characters like Pa Grape and Mr. Lunt have no eyes, the former of whom sometimes wears glasses.
    • An audio-only Christmas special has Larry invite a one-shot character named Manuel to perform Feliz Navidad with him, playing the maracas "since he's got hands". We never learn what exactly Manuel is.
  • Phantom Limb on The Venture Bros.. Technically, his limbs were just rendered invisible (and dangerous to the touch), but he still looked like nothing more than a floating torso.
  • In Sponge Bob Square Pants, Patrick Star has neither ears nor a nose, which is Lampshaded on occasion. ("I cannot believe what I'm hearing!" "How can you hear it? You don't have any ears!") This is actually a plot point in at least one episode, where Pat doesn't realize SpongeBob has bad breath on account of his noselessness.
    • There's also an episode where Patrick get's a nose surgically grafted to his face and he begins to enjoy all the wonderful smells of the world (before the conflict rears it's ugly head). He later gets ears at the end of the episode (we never learn how that turns out).
  • The Penguins of Madagascar: Kawolski, the smart man of the group, is capable of building eye-popping inventions and machinery despite the fact he only has finglerless flippers for hands.
  • My Little Pony does this all the time. They are ponies—they are unquestionably quadrupedal and have no fingers to boot. Yet they cook, dress up, decorate, etc. Now, the actual toys have magnets in their hooves to help them manipulate stuff, so.....
    • A large part of the art direction in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is dedicated to averting this, with manipulation mostly occurring using their mouths, tails, and telekinesis for unicorns. There is the odd case of things mysteriously sticking to hooves, but they are the exception rather than the rule.
      • But that raises the issue of the tails - while horse tails do have a base called the dock which can be moved, it's very short and the rest of the tail is just pure hair. Said dock doesn't even appear in the show's character designs... and yet Applejack can grip and use a lasso with the end of her tail?
      • Commonly held Fanon says that being able to grip things with the tail and hooves is an integral part of Earth Pony magic. So, the items in question are literally "magically sticking in place."
      • The general rule for the series, for more than just this trope, is to keep everything as 'in character' for the setting as possible, but that this can be ignored whenever it's needed. For this trope, this manifests in the non-unicorn ponies almost always using their mouth for manipulation, but very occasionally using their hooves as per this trope when there simply is no other way to get the task done.
    • G1 was similar too. They made a point to have ponies use their mouths for everything, even the first two specials having them as being completely non-anthro, but on rare occasions they'll use their hands.
  • Most of the kids on South Park have no visible noses or ears. Sometimes played with, as when an apparently-noseless Kyle freaks out when his dad says he has the same (rather large) nose as his mother.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: Mandy is a member of The Noseless.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes: Heloise lacks wrists, but only when she's wearing her robe.
  • Starting in late 2013 AMC Theaters has had some AMC Amazing spots before the film featuring creepy red spherical characters usually without eyes or limbs, living in a gray world. They appear to hop around instead of walk and like in VeggieTales and Homestar Runner have what I call "Phantom Limb Psychokinesis", that is they can manipulate objects without touching them, but only within the reach and strength limitations of actual arms and hands. Creepiness aside, the spots are pretty entertaining, quality CGI with 1.85:1, Cinema Scope, and 3D versions, so I wish there were high quality versions available on-line instead of that low quality YouTube recording.

Invisible AliensInvisibility IndexInvisible Block
Inexplicably TaillessGraphical TropesKoosh Bomb
Impossible Hourglass FigureAnatomy TropesLimb-Sensation Fascination
Hands in PocketsLazy ArtistPowerpuff Girl Hands
Impossible Shadow PuppetsImageSource/InternetLiteral Cliffhanger

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