"Thank you, scary leather man. I love you."
— A small girl
, upon getting her cat back from Midnighter
"Aw, look, he likes you.
An subtler version of Pet the Dog
, where an innocent creature like an animal or child shows affection towards someone commonly thought to be mean or a hardass. Said hardass doesn't always appreciate the attention.
Effective at deflating a character's pompous attitude. An ironic but overused trope is the character hating a certain kind of animal, then finding one who can't take the hint.
Some smaller children and babies instinctively feel safer when held by big, strong men. It is suspected that they pick up on pheromones that tell them about health and testosterone. It also has noted neurological effects on the men in question, softening certain responses and hardening others.
Sometimes this is introduced later in the plot as a Morality Pet
. Compare Evil-Detecting Dog
and Friend to All Living Things
. Contrast Animals Hate Him
. See Photo Op With The Dog
, where someone tries to invoke this trope via a picture.
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Anime & Manga
- Inuyasha: Rin ends up following Inuyasha's half-brother, Sesshomaru, who starts off the story a cold-blooded killer who develops compassion along the way. Rin is a cute little girl while Sesshoumaru is a very fierce, very large dog youkai.
- An entire episode of Saiyuki: Reload revolves around Sanzo's team finding a lost kitten. The kitten immediately takes to them... especially Sanzo, the most Bad Ass of them all, who claims to hate cats, is allergic to them, and mostly tries to ignore the cute little feline.
- Piccolo from Dragon Ball Z was considered pure evil by the main cast after nearly killing them all, but little Gohan doesn't understand why, and thinks he's a pretty cool dude. He even sings a song called "I Love Mr. Piccolo" for heaven's sake - and it is sickeningly cute.
- Majin Buu also gets licked by the dog, literally. He finds an injured puppy and heals it so that it'll be scared and run away from him, but it thinks of Buu as its new best friend. At one point, Mr. Satan convinces Buu that there are other things to do than kill and destroy, but then the dog gets shot...
- A bit before that, Buu encounters a blind kid, who isn't scared of Buu because he can't see him, so Buu heals his eyes. The kid is very grateful, and doesn't find Buu's appearance scary, or even not normal, because Buu is the first thing he ever saw and he doesn't know what a normal person looks like.
- And in the One Piece/Dragon Ball crossover, Chopper offers Vegeta cake. Awwww....
- In Wolf's Rain Tsume objects when Toboe starts licking his wounds. This is something of a subversion, since they're both talking canines, but it looks funny (peculiar and ha-ha) because they're both in human disguise at the time, also adding a level of Ho Yay to the whole thing.
- Kind of inverted in Digimon Adventure between Kari and Gatomon. One of the few times you'll see the cat "licked" by the human.
- Subverted in Azumanga Daioh. Sakaki is the school's Huge Schoolgirl, considered universally to be cool, intimidating, and very serious (even though she's far from it.) She'd be the perfect candidate for this treatment. Instead, every time she gets near a cat...
- Further, she desperately wishes she'd be licked, because she just loves those fluffy animals so. When Chiyo's dog, Tadakichi-san, actually allows her to pet him, she does so for hours.
- Sakaki finally recieves this treatment from a wildcat, who stows away, finds her and becomes her pet.
- In Fresh Pretty Cure!, Setsuna encounters a little boy and his dog two episodes after her Heel-Face Turn. Way back when she was evil, she had turned the dog into a monster and K-O'ed the kid. The kid doesn't recognize her, but the dog does and Setsuna fears it's reaction. To her surprise, it ends up licking her hand and then being more than willing to play with her, showing no hard feelings for what she did in the past.
- Prince of Tennis: Humans tend to be scared of Kaidou Kaoru. Puppies and kitties, however, like him.
- In chapter 422 of Bleach, Yammy's Arrancar puppy tries to comfort his dying master.
- In the Buggy's Crew After the Battle Side Story in One Piece Gaimon becomes good friends with Buggy the Clown, not knowing that he's on a mission to kill his old friend Luffy.
- In Wild Rose, Camille begins to trust Kiri because his Big Friendly Dog Tranquilo trusts him.
- Jessie's Lickitung in Pokémon. Justified, though-Team Rocket's Arbok and Weezing both state in an earlier episode (while they were still Ekans and Koffing, respectively) that it isn't the Pokemon that are evil, it's the trainers. While Jessie eventually adopts it, she wasn't pleased about the licking; it messed up her hair.
- A good amount of characters from Anpanman see Baikinman as a good guy, despite being told otherwise by more heroic characters...or by Baikinman himself. A lot of times, these come from seeing him do one good deed by mistake, and assume he's a good guy thanks to that. He has a tendency to become exasperated in their presence during episodes that star that character.
- Happens literally◊ to resident Jerk with a Heart of Gold Lovable Alpha Bitch Shinka Nibutani in Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai!.
- It has been established in DC Comics that Catwoman is liked by Superman's dog Krypto. It's probably a side effect from Catwoman's having a knack for animals of all sorts, but still...
- And yes, the dog does literally lick her face. It should be pointed out that even though he seems to love her, she isn't that fond of him—she really isn't a dog person!
- For some reason, kids like Wolverine. He doesn't get it, though he doesn't mind it either. He even has a sort of Big Brother Mentor role for both Jubilee and Shadowcat, young women who joined the X-Men before they even turned eighteen. In most cases this would be okay. But for this particular person, it's not only highly unusual; it's often either the result of or leads directly to some sort of screwed-up situation or another.
- It does get stretched a bit when he has an entire mini-series of him co-starring with the Power Pack.
- Also, Rogue in Ultimateverse.
- That role is currently filled by Armor from Astonishing X-Men.
- X-23 also fills this role, Wolverine even adopted her.
- Subverted in Lobo's Paramilitary Christmas Special. While discussing the details of the Easter Bunny's contract hit on Santa Claus, a fluffy little bunny hops up to Lobo and sniffs at his fingers. A camera cut and a horrible squelching noise later, the camera cuts back to Lobo flicking bloody chunks off his hand with a large red stain where the bunny used to be. Ouch.
- Subverted in Ex Machina by Brian K. Vaughn. Mitchell Hundred, aka The Great Machine, has the ability to talk to machines and tell them what to do. He notes in one issue that since he gained his power, animals no longer like him. In the same issue, his Arch-Enemy, Jack Pherson, is introduced. He has Mitchell's power, but instead of machines, he talks to animals.
- Similarly to Wolverine, Midnighter attracts small children like a magnet, gaining their trust and attention even when he's covered in (someone else's) blood and holding a weapon. Then again, he's the kind of person to call a two-mile high walking island "sweetheart" just because she's ten years old.
- Same thing with Batman. Children are less afraid of him than the adults and he doesn't mind too much.
- Both Dick Grayson and Alfred believe that Damian Wayne can outgrow his violent tendencies and live up to his father's legacy. And so far, they seem to be right, as Damian likes being Robin and finds that doing good is the best thing he has ever done with his life, even breaking away from his mother completely.
- Jason Todd to some extent, some kids like him, most are scared of him, but mostly because he hates when children are hurt.
- In Halcyon, Sabre is described as a 'homicidal vigilante' (by one of his teammates no less!), but his dog likes him so he can't be all bad.
- In RoboCop vs. Terminator, Robocop pets a dog at one point and the dog responds in a friendly fashion. Since dogs instinctively hate Terminators, Robocop's companion takes this as proof that, whatever Robocop is, he's no Terminator.
Films — Animation
- In Despicable Me, Agnes shows an instant affinity for Gru right after he adopts her sisters and her by attaching herself to his leg.
- Up uses a child and a dog to soften out its Grumpy Old Man protagonist.
Films — Live-Action
- Rather entertainingly subverted in There's Something About Mary. When one of Mary's suitors discovers she at least partially judges her suitors by her roomate's dog's reaction to them, he drugs the dog so it will be complacent...nearly killing it, and setting it on fire in a misguided attempt to revive it. The dog gets better. Later, when Mary's real love shows up, the dog has been drugged again and goes batshit and tries to eat her love.(Fortunately- sort of- the aforementioned roomate has also ingested the amphetamines planted for the dog and is in no state to notice.)
- About half the Shirley Temple movies ever made used this.
- The main character in The Chronicles of Riddick is a pretty bad mofo when it comes to other humanoids, but when he encounters a big, vicious, dangerous predator that could see in the dark and spent a lot of time in a cage they become instant friends, providing an example of this as well as "two of a kind" and a sense of kinship.
- During the transformation of the recently-resurrected Eric Draven into an unstoppable killing machine vigilante who makes Batman look like an actual pacifist, he pauses to scratch the cat that was left to fend for itself after he and his fiancee were murdered. The cat, in turn, licks his hand, apparently recognizing him even after he's been dead and buried for a year. (Cats have eyes, and cats have long-term memory, but Draven likely doesn't smell like he used to, besides having put on Harlequin-mask face paint.)
- During the Legally Blonde scene in which formerly-frosty Vivian Kensington begins to befriend Elle, she is also licked by Elle's dog Bruiser.
- Occurs in Who Am I when Jackie Chan's character stops during the middle of a chase scene to rescue a cute poodle from a falling piano. The dog licks his face and the onlooking spectators clap and go, "Awww".
- Subverted by Jack Nicholson's character in As Good As It Gets. It seems as if the dog even prefers Melvin to her real owner, Simon, but Melvin later reveals that the dog loves him so much because he carries a bag of bacon in his pocket. Double subverted in that when Simon tries to lure the dog over with some of the bacon, she won't come to him.
- The protagonist in Children of Men was deliberately depicted as having an involuntary affinity for animals—dogs naturally cotton to him.
- In Real Genius, the Jerk Ass professor Jerry Hathaway hates dogs (and popcorn), but is constantly shooing away a neighbor's dog that apparently likes him.
- Both in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, Batman is seen more favourably by children than by adults.
- While he is anything but evil, Edward Scissorhands is licked by a dog after he cuts off the hair covering its eyes, even after most of the neighborhood has rejected him.
- The Great Race - villainous Professor Fate takes the place of a lookalike prince - as one of the prince's pug dogs licks his face he quietly growls "I hate you."
- Assassins: Electra's cat taking a liking to Rath is one indication that he's at least a half-decent guy despite being a contract killer.
- In the Hurog duology, Ward's younger sister can't talk due to psychological issues. While she isn't quite as good as the evil-detecting baby (sometimes she doesn't get along with people who are more or less harmless), there are lots of moments where she serves as the metaphorical dog. People who are nice to her are usually trustworthy. Ward is impressed when he meets a woman who can understand his sister's body langauge and facial expressions, and "talk" to her in a way. He ends up getting together with that woman.
- Subversion: If the phrase "I get on well with animals, sir," doesn't send shivers running up and down your spine like angry weasels, you need to read more Discworld. Especially when you consider that Jonathan Teatime, a psycho even by the standards of the (gentlemanly) Assassins' Guild, also Nailed The Dog To The Ceiling.
- Granny Weatherwax, probably one of the oldest and most powerful witches in the Discworld, feared and respected by many ancient and warlike species, who has seen off a succession of Big Bads and should she turn evil would probably be bigger and badder than all of them put together, was given a cute little kitten in Wintersmith. She appeared to be rather offended by this and pretended to ignore the creature, but even the woman who once performed chiropractry on Death himself couldn't resist a friendly fluffy snuggly purry thing which liked her so much. (She wouldn't be able to harm a kitten or child anyway. She's nasty, but never evil.)
- Arguably something of a subversion, since there's some pretty strong hints (like You utterly traumatizing Greebo, the death that walks like a cat... and yes, the kitten's name is 'You'. As in, 'Hey You') that Granny and the kitten are kindred spirits; there is, after all, very little chance that Granny Weatherwax could tolerate a stupid animal. You, like her mistress, happens to other people.
- Xanth gives us Anathe Ma, who is an ugly crone who is the second person that Bubbles lets pet. Note that the other person is the one who saved her life.
- P. G. Wodehouse:
- In Firebird (Lackey), pretty much all the animals in the palace and on its ground like Ilya and are willing to help him and tell him secrets (once he can talk to them).
- Crookshanks the cat in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban seems awfully fond of Sirius, to the point of having a Go Through Me moment to protect him. It's kind of an early sign that Sirius is actually a good guy, but Harry's initial conclusion is that it must mean Crookshanks is bad.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, one of the first hints that the whoremongering Depraved Dwarf Tyrion was actually one of the only decent members of the Lannister family was an early breakfast scene where he was playing with, and adored by, his youngest niece and nephew.
- Daphne on Frasier comments "Canines have a very keen sense of who's a nice person and who isn't. Why, many's the time I've chosen a man based solely on the way my mum's springer spaniel took to them." In response, Niles secretly smears his neck with pate to make Eddie's puppies lick him.
- In the original pilot to Firefly, the young cute Kaylee, in what she thinks might be her last words, assures Mal that he and Simon are "good people" in spite of their own questionable actions up to that point.
- Mal is quite a hardass initially but Kaylee loves him so the audience can't help loving him, too.
- T'Pol on Star Trek: Enterprise. Porthos climbs up to be petted, sorta taking the wind out of her Vulcan superiority moment.
- Proving it's not because Spock is half human that the tribbles liked him. "Its trilling seems to have a tranquilizing effect on the human nervous system! Fortunately, I am immune to its effect..." (everybody looks at him stroking it, he puts it down and walks away real fast) Hah!
- The title character of House has a tendency to get licked by the dog:
- When House gets temporary custody of Wilson's dog Hector, Hector seems to like him quite a bit — by the end, Hector's walking with a limp, apparently because House trained him to. Apparently is the key word here: he slammed a door on his leg by accident (initially he wanted the dog to run away and get hit by a car). After an incident where Hector ate a bottle of his Vicodin, House decided he liked him. By the end of the episode, both are shown to have bonded over their mutual addiction.
- House is hugged by the Littlest Cancer Patient at the end of "Autopsy." Notably, House subverts this slightly by refusing to hug her back and looking extremely uncomfortable.
- In "Lines in the Sand" the autistic kid gives him his PSP. Given how....defensive some low-functioning autistic get with things, that is as Licked by the Dog as it gets.
- In "Fetal Position" he was doing an operation on a pregnant woman's tummy when the baby got his hand out and grabbed House's finger. Following that, he stopped referring to it as a fetus, and started calling it a baby. The baby's mother even names her son after House. Damn, he sure is prone to this trope!
- In LOST, newborn baby Aaron incessantly cries unless he's being held by Jerkass Sawyer. The reveal of Sawyer's tragic backstory had already started him on turning into a Jerk with a Heart of Gold but this episode seemed to cement that direction for him.
- I thought it was when Sawyer read to him, not when he held him.
- Likewise, when the O'Briens were away, their second child only stopped crying when he was held by Worf on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
- In Star Trek: The Next Generation he is the only person on the ship who doesn't have to go to Crusher after holding Data's cat (besides Data, of course).
- J.D towards Dr. Cox in Scrubs.
- "She like you..." When Dan Ashcroft gets a haircut in Nathan Barley, the barber's cat Elizabeth takes a shine to him shortly before Ashcroft accidentally stabs Elizabeth in the head with a pair of scissors.
- While Uncle Jesse on Full House falls into Cuteness Proximity around his nieces, he has...less fondness for animals. Naturally, every animal that ever walked through the door (from their dog Comet, to a warthog, to a donkey, to a monkey) took an instant liking to Jesse.
- At one point on The West Wing, President Bartlet hugs Toby with a schmoopy "awwww....c'mere". Fits this particular trope because at the time, Bartlet was completely stoned on painkillers and acting in a very innocent childlike manner.
- In the "Stargate:SG-1" episode "Singularity," the only member of the SG-1 team that the little girl Cassandra will approach is Scary Black Man Teal'c. Although, to be fair, the other team-members look kind of intimidating in their Haz-Mat suits. Still, this is one of Teal'c's first really gentle moment on the show. He is shown eventually to be a Friend to All Children.
- On Eureka, Taggart has a long running self-declared rivalry with Lowjack, a dog with a stated IQ over 100. There is an episode where he gets injured, and Taggart, being the best veterinarian in Eureka, is asked to treat him. As soon as he is alone with Lowjack, he starts going on about how he has the dog right where he wants him. Lowjack raises his head and licks Taggart's face. Taggart's response, "Alright, truce."
- Daryl Dixon of The Walking Dead is probably the biggest Badass in the whole crew. Largely remorseless, crossbow wielding, Walker killing machine. And he's the first person who can calm Lori's baby, who he affectionately dubs "Little Asskicker".
- A literal example with Shaw on Person of Interest, who is a self-admitted Sociopathic Hero, and is still liked by Team Machine's dog. She also really likes him. Its even become a Running Gag where she will either state she is only on the team for the dog, or other characters commenting that "only the dog likes you".
- Martin in basically every episode of Doc Martin. Some episodes almost use the dog as a link.
- In El Goonish Shive, the black-haired antisocial ultra-feminist, hard-ass girl Susan finds herself to be the unwilling target of the cat-hedgehog hybrid Jeremy's affection - and, according to a certain background image, the affection of cute and fuzzy animals in general. (Note: Character description is outdated. Now she's more of a normal-feminist Badass Deadpan Snarker.)
- Phobia in a recent GastroPhobia storyline gets a literal Licked by the Dog moment-the dog in question is Gastro's birthday present and Phobia's surly attitude is because instead of the big hunting breed she'd intended to get, the only puppy left was a tiny Pomeranian-looking thing.
- In Girl Genius, Tarvek is well-liked by the wasp eaters.
- In Tales of the Questor, Quentyn frolicks with the puppies in the monastery barn when their mother comes up. After inspecting him, she licks his face.
- Stone of the Global Guardians PBEM Universe is a superhero who can be summed up in the phrase "What if you gave a Hell's Angel super-strength and made him invulnerable". His middle name is "Intidimate the Hell Out Of You". And kids just love him. He puts on this "big tough scary guy" act, and the kids seem utterly immune to it. It mystifies him, but he does think its sort of cool.
- Basically, The Nostalgia Chick's dream is to be an Evil Overlord. However, Mignon (her puppy) will always lick her face out of love whatever the situation, and the Chick carries her around like a security stuffed animal.
- Early in his run, back before Doug figured out how to make him a proper Jerk with a Heart of Gold, The Nostalgia Critic had a few of these from Chester. In a nice progression, Critic ended up taking care of him and was the only one to give him money.
- Stupid Good Man Child Sparadrap is a frequent source of this, due to his tendency to give an equally friendly treatment to friend, foe and complete stranger. The two only people he doesn't like have respectively killed his much cared-about virtual pets and ended up breaking his guildmaster's heart in the long run. An element revealed in the comic and strongly hinted at in the movie is that one of the hostile enemy players he likes is a police inspector in real life.
- Golgotha has a Big Sister Instinct towards her childhood friend Gaea, despite Gaea being a Manipulative Bastard and a Dirty Coward during most of the story.
- Subverted in the Looney Tunes short "Bowery Bugs"; Bugs's opponent is sprawled on the street. A dog walks up, and licks him. Then it walks away, disgusted.
- In the He-Man and She-Ra Christmas special, Skeletor is licked by a dog-like creature that he suddenly becomes quite fond of. Skeletor learns the meaning of Christmas and is actually nice—but just for this episode.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Prince Zuko gets licked by Appa the giant sky bison when he shows up to convince the Gaang that he's actually a decent guy. Justified because he was the one who freed Appa from captivity by the Dai Li, giving Appa a good reason to like him; subverted when they don't believe him anyway.
- In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, when they are enlisted to help a planet that is 99.9% water, an unidentified little fish saves Kevin's life when his suit breaks and he can no longer breathe. The fish acts like a dog and spends the rest of the episode following Kevin around, much to his annoyance. At the end of the episode, Kevin convinces the fish (nicely) to stay on its home planet. Awww.
- In the TV show version of Clifford the Big Red Dog, Clifford seems fond of Rich Bitch Lovable Alpha Bitch Jetta and often licks her, which she usually finds disgusting. Given that he's...larger than the usual dogs, Jetta may have a point there.
- In an episode of Beetlejuice, the title character was once punished by being lowered into a pit of cloying sweetness, including unusually friendly kittens. He's not exactly a villain in the series, but he has little tolerance for anything like them.
- In a The Simpsons episode entitled "Dog of Death," Homer comes across as uncharacteristically heartless when he refuses to pay for a life-saving operation for the family dog (not wanting to give up his beer money). But after the dog adorably licks his hand, Homer groans and grudgingly agrees to the operation.
- Star Wars: Clone Wars has an alien child being the first to welcome back mutated villagers.
- In one episode of Teen Titans, a sentient talking dog-like alien really really likes Raven. The fact that he's sentient makes this example somewhat creepier than usual.
- In "Bird Bot of Alcatraz", after some time thinking he's a penguin, Bender rebooted back to human mode. A couple of penguins still waddle over and cuddle up to him.
- Invoked Trope with photo-ops of celebrities and politicians of all stripes taking pictures with adorable animals or children. Hitler (as seen above) and Stalin were particularly fond of doing this.