"I cannot imagine mice as the embodiment of evil. Mice are such charming little creatures, and it is not by accident that Mickey Mouse became an absolutely universal hero."
, mice are often portrayed as nice and heroic even though they are common household pests. Historically, mice are known to be a metaphor of the Jews
, so this is a trope they love or even maybe created
Being very small and cute, yet traditionally wild, the mouse is an animal often used as a metaphor for someone easily underestimated. Thus, mouse characters and humanoid mouse races tend to be heroic and really good people, yet easily underestimated. In many works, this last trait is something they have grown to deeply resent. It's hard to demand respect from someone when you can't even reach his knees and your voice is very squeaky - no matter how brave you are.
These mice characters are designed to be likable one way or another. Some are heroic, some are nice, and some are both.
Contrast You Dirty Rat
for rodents, specifically rats, who are portrayed as disgusting: and Nutty Squirrel
for a third view of the genus Rodentia.
Film — Animated
- In Art Spiegelman's Maus, a narrative of the author's father's struggle to survive the Holocaust, the Jews are drawn as mice. Nazis are drawn as cats, and the Allied troops (particularly Americans) are drawn as dogs.
- Mouse Guard, naturally. Though rogue mice feature as villains in the first story arc, none of them are as bad as Cats or Weasels.
- The Powerpuff Girls #67: "Monkey Business" has Mojo Jojo giving up his life of crime to become a restaurateur. The girls don't believe him and they try to prove it when they find rats in the kitchen. Mojo angrily explains that the rats are expert chefs he brought over from France. (Actually one of the rats tells Bubbles in rat-speak and she translates.)
- In Sunnyville Stories, the Eftirmatur family is a family of Scandinavian mice that runs the local bakery.
Film — Live Action
- The mice in Cinderella are not just nice, they are ultimately responsible for helping Cinderella's dream come true.
- Roquefort from The Aristocats
- The mice in The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under are nice.
- Timothy from Dumbo is one of the few nice characters in the film.
- Same with most of the mice from The Great Mouse Detective. The villain, Ratigan, was definitely a mouse in the books, however. But this is somewhat more dubious in the movie, though he vehemently denies being a rat. The exception to this trope being Ratigan's mooks who are thuggish criminals.
- Averted with Mrs. Fieldmouse in Thumbelina, who is most definitely not nice.
- Fievel and the mice from the An American Tail movies are all nice. They're also stand-ins for poor oppressed minorities in the human world.
- The villains from the third movie are also mice, however.
- Subverted with the mice in ''The Nutcracker Prince" as despite many of the mice are more sillier than both the Mouse King and his mother, they are still loyal to their king and try to attack the toys.
- Played straight in The Secret Of NIMH, where the main character Mrs Brisby and her children are your standard animated mice, though somewhat fearful and skittish due to their small size and large amount of natural enemies. Unfortunatly, the majority of the Mice of NIMH were killed during the escape from the research facility, leaving only Mr Aegis and Jonathan, Mrs Brisby's husband. The movie also averts You Dirty Rat however, as all the rats in the movie, aside from the main villain, are benevolent uplifted creatures.
- MouseHunt's mouse counts, but it's a more blurred example due to Alternative Character Interpretation. Obviously the audience is supposed to feel sorry for him, being hunted so ruthlessly by two humans, but he outsmarts them so often that it's clear he's not an ordinary mouse. So, if he's capable of understanding that, perhaps he's capable of understanding what a nuisance he is to two humans who consider the house their property.
- The mouse in Aesop's fable The Lion and the Mouse makes this trope Older Than Feudalism.
- In The Chronicles of Narnia:
- Mice are the most badass race, and the only race that gets a racial storyline of its own. All other races of talking animals are given speech as a divine gift at the dawn of time. The mice, however, are so small and insignificant that they are overlooked by Aslan himself. However...
- Moving on to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the mice earn their rank among the ascended animals by making a heroic attempt at Save Your Deity. In that story, mice chew off the ropes that bind the corpse of Aslan. As a result, mice are promoted to that rank of talking animal, and many years latter the mice are considered among the most brave and honorable of all the animals.
- In Prince Caspian the mouse militia fearlessly go up against far larger enemies, routinely taking them out by being ignored in the fray and chopping them from underneath. Culminating in the Heroic Sacrifice of their commander Reepicheep and his army's quite special way of dealing with that situation.
- In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Reepicheep is one of the main charactes, and arguably the bravest of them all. Lucy works quite hard to resist her urge of cuddling him, since she understand that such behavior from her would hurt his pride. The local Jerkass human taunts him for his size, but he quickly teaches the far larger human to fear him. Also, while the other heroes just happen to be on that journey for miscellaneous reasons, Reepicheep is the one doing the journey as a holy quest.
- In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, mice are revealed to be highly intelligent pan-dimensional beings; the little furry squeaky things we see are just their avatars in this dimension. Millions of years ago, they built the Super Computer Deep Thought as a means of discovering the Answer to the Great Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. They succeeded.
- Redwall uses this a lot.
- Despereaux and the other mice in The Tale of Despereaux (rats are bad, except for Chiarascuro, who is ultimately redeemed).
- In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz fieldmice rescue Dorothy, Lion, and Toto from the poppy field by dragging them away. (In the film The Wizard of Oz Glinda makes it snow to rescue them.)
- Subverted in Moving Pictures with Definitely Not Squeak, a mouse who began talking under the influence of Holy Wood cinemagic. Told of this trope, he was outraged that humans consider his kind sweet and delicate, as he was the most Badass mouse in the house and proud of it.
- The Wee Widow Mouse and her family in The Book of the Dun Cow, including her deceased Badass Adorable husband, who actively defied Cockatrice before his death.
- The Title character in Mus Of Kerbridge.
Film — Live Television
- Mice were said to be associated with Apollon, the greek god of light, and he even has an epiphet related to this, Smintheus ("of the mice"). That said, Apollon was also associated with destruction, so his association with mice was as much due to their cuddliness as much as the fact that they're pests and plague-carriers.
- The Mauzherz in Grimm are a classic example.
- Pipsy Mouse from Diddy Kong Racing.
- In Pokémon, Plusle and Minun are always there to cheer their trainer and the other Pokemon in the party on (and cry when they lose)
- Pikachu is somewhat of a subversion in that it can be moody, but otherwise plays the trope straight (Ash's Pikachu in particular.)
- In Prince of Persia, the Princess's mouse rescues the Prince in one level by opening a gate he gets trapped behind.
- The late 90s Reader Rabbit titles has Mattie the Mouse, who is of course a sweet and soft-spoken creature.
- Pinky and the Brain: Pinky is nice, if completely cracked. The Brain — not so much, but he's a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
- Tom and Jerry: a lot of Jerry's nastiness is in provoked self-defense from Tom, but some of it is just tormenting Tom for the hell of it. When it comes to other animals, though, Jerry is pretty universally nice. He's nice to canaries, baby woodpeckers, baby ducks, baby seals, escaped lions, circus Elephants (on more than one occasion even). Despite the occasional moral ambivalence, he is usually the more good-natured in his feud with Tom as well, and the most likely to at least attempt a truce or relent when their war goes a step too far (he once saved Tom after he almost drowned trying to chase after him for example).
- Surprisingly subverted (considering it's a '30s cartoon) in the Fleischer short Fresh Vegetable Mystery where the mice are the bad guys.
- Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse: Both are nice. Hands down.
- Subverted with Mortimer Mouse though.
- Hanna-Barbera: Dixie and Pixie were usually only acting in defense from Mr. Jinks, and only did the stealing of the cheese to survive, if memory serves.
- Sometimes it would switch around where Jinks was the hero of the episode and Pixie and Dixie would get their comeuppance in the end.
- Motormouse was usually Autocat's antagonist as it was Autocat's job to get rid of him from the Spin Your Wheels Garage. Once in awhile, though, Motormouse would help out Autocat and on occasion give him a lift home from work.
- Looney Tunes: Speedy Gonzales is a mouse who pretty much only steals cheese to help his compadres. Sniffles is well-meaning, if annoying.
- Averted in the early Looney Tunes cartoon, "The Night Watchman." Not only are the mice shady antagonists, the kitten is a protagonist.
- Also averted in Scaredy Cat and Claws for Alarm, when the mice (seen in the first and implied in the second) overtly try to kill Porky with poor Sylvester the only one aware of the danger.
- Sylvester is also victim to a Screwy Squirrel rodent trying to starve him to death in Canned Feud.
- Chuck Jones' Hubie and Bertie were subversions, as they tended to mind-screw the hapless Claude. Two examples; in "The Aristo-Cat", they convinced Claude that he was they mouse and Hubie and Bertie were cats, and in "Roughly Squeaking" they convinced Claude that he was a lion, and the bulldog in the yard was either a moose, a gazelle or a pelican.
- Also subverted in Bob Clampett's "We the Animals Squeak", in which a band of mobster mice kidnap the son of champion mouser Kansas City Kitty, in an effort to blackmail her into letting the mice run rampant.
- The mice from Capitol Critters were nice.
- Biker Mice from Mars is about Badass Biker alien mice who protect Earth from evil.
- Rastamouse. Irie, man.
- Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: Of the animals with a larger sample size than one-offs or the main characters, mice are generally the most consistently nice of the animal which appear, with a rare handful of villainous examples. Of the main cast, Monterey Jack is a Boisterous Bruiser always ready for a brawl, but is otherwise kind-hearted and friendly. Gadget is nice quite literally to a fault, and on two or three occasions this comes back on her hard. And when she's pushed too far...
- Mighty Mouse was a superhero who more often than not rescued persecuted mice from villainous cats.
- Subverted in The Simpsons Show Within a Show, The Itchy & Scratchy Show character, Itchy the mouse, who is a cheerful murderous psycho who plots to kill his friend Scratchy the cat For the Evulz.
- The Mr. Bogus episode "Totally Bogus Video" featured a trio of mice who were being menaced by Ratty and his rottweiler accomplice.
- As mentioned under You Dirty Rat, the common stereotypes are inverted. While Rats can be well-trained, friendly, loving, and compassionate, even trained mice will bite their owner anyway and will escape if given half the chance (unlike rats, who have loyalty to their owner), they also tend to have less desire to clean than rats do. Wild mice also love the taste of blood and if they can get to an incapacitated living creature (like, say, a sleeping human) have even been known to drink their body weight in blood if they can get away with it.