Nonhumans Lack Attributes
Anatomically correct for a fish.
(discussing a Londo Mollari doll being sold on the station) Londo:
It's a mockery. It doesn't even have any — ahem, attributes. Sheridan: Attributes? Londo:
Do I have to spell it out
One of the common decency standards in comics, television, and other media is that aliens, monsters and other nonhuman creatures are never depicted with visible genitals, anuses, or nipples, even in scenes where such things should be plainly visible
. This is helpful in conserving decency when the plot requires otherwise, but can serves to do the exact opposite
if the nude in question is sufficiently humanoid, such as with anthropomorphic animals
or mutants, especially if they also possess certain other features like Non-Mammal Mammaries
(which tend to come in the suggestion of breasts instead of actual ones) and/or are normally expected to wear clothes. Even when Censor Steam
or dark shadows are present to preserve decency, a silhouette or outline of the character may reveal that there is... something missing
In most cases, this concession of realism is a subtle form of censorship — not necessarily at the insistence of meddling managers
or Moral Guardians
, but also because not every artist wants to actually think about such anatomical details themselves, nudity taboo or otherwise. (It's too easy to joke about what could be misheard from the art department: "Bill, do these balls look right to you?
" "Yeah, they're fine. Stop playing with them and work on the legs.
It's also a function of the Law of Conservation of Detail
, especially in literature where it is merely left to the reader's imagination instead of being explicitly pointed out by the narrator; indeed, it's rare to see anyone actually address the subject onscreen
. If this subject is addressed, there are a few stock explanations that are used to explain it. The most common assumption is that the details are logically present, but are obscured beneath a layer of body fur or other Bizarre Alien Biology
or, more usually, is simply not important to the situation/storyline/characters/audience (delete as applicable).
The nipples variant involves a Civilized Animal
, Funny Animal
, or Petting Zoo Person
who has at least some definition to her chest, but who doesn't have any visible nipples. They have either a subtle or distinct "puffing" to the chest, a suggestion of breasts, or flat-out breasts. This is justified by saying that the nipples are hidden under the fur. For female animals, this is used as a form of censorship as well as for Law of Conservation of Detail
. For male animals however, this is just used as form of Law of Conservation of Detail
because male nipples are not seen as taboo.
A subtrope of Anatomy Anomaly
. Compare Animals Lack Attributes
for anatomy (genital, anus, and nipple) censorship as it applies to (otherwise normal
, real-life) animals in fiction, and Barbie Doll Anatomy
for the censorship of humans. See also Funny Animal Anatomy
and Exposed Extraterrestrials
Fur Is Clothing
, Removable Shell
, and Eggshell Clothing
(these usually being Played for Laughs
) are a few ways it can be averted.
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Anime & Manga
- Dragon Ball Z: the Namekians. Dragon Ball Z Abridged lampshades this. Repeatedly. At length.
- Many of the humanoid animals that appear through the entire series.
- Frieza and Cell both count too.
- Surprisingly, when Oolong turns his arms in wings to reach Pilaf before he wishes to Shenron, his clothes disappear (despite that most of his body is still the same) and he does have genitals.
- Naturally, Rule34 tends to avert this.
- Digimon meanwhile tend to vary. There are some seal, dog and wolf-like Digimons that play this trope straight. Then we have evolved ones, who are anthropomorphic in build, that wear pants or shirt to cover their area (Angewomon, Leomon, WereGarurumon, LadyDevimon, etc.). And then there are some that are biped yet play this trope straight (Zudomon, Renamon, etc.)
- Averted in an instructional video about using the toilet where Shimajiro the tiger cub is actually drawn with visible genitalia when his pants are removed.
- Vision of Escaflowne: Various non-humans are shown naked and/or pantsless. No attributes.
- Averted near the end of My Neighbor Totoro where the Catbus is actually revealed to be extremely anatomically correct (and male) during the scene where he is shown running on top of several telephone lines while helping Satsuki and the three Totoros find her younger sister Mei. Played straight with the Totoros themselves however.
- Justified within the universe of Attack on Titan and coupled with Barbie Doll Anatomy for the less deformed individuals. The Titans are noted to lack any sexual organs, and have no lower digestive tract. In keeping with this, they notably also do not have navels. It brings about some serious Uncanny Valley vibes, since they otherwise look like giant, naked humanoids with various deformities.
- Played very straight with the Bone cousins from Bone, who never wear pants.
- Averted with Roque Ja the giant lion, who when seen from behind has a very prominent scrotum.
- Played also ridiculously straight with the Rat Creatures. Writer Jeff Smith even said "I never bothered to look under their fur to find out."
- Angels in Lucifer
- All angels in the Vertigo universe including Sandman and Hellblazer, notably) are generally depicted as genderless.
- They are, however, still apparently capable of intercourse. The closest we get to an explanion of this is someone who has experienced this whispering in someone else's ear and her looking shocked.
- The Silver Surfer, despite looking like a shiny human, displays no genitalia whatsoever. Presumably covered or removed as part of his transformation into the Silver Surfer. Other natives of Zenn-La apparently have the same attributes as humans, which they cover in similar ways.
- A Twisted Toyfare Theater parody has the Thing refusing to talk to the Surfer until he puts on some pants. So the Surfer dons blue jeans. Returning thus clad to Galactus, his master says, "Pants? I didn't remove your genitals so you could wear pants!"
- Averted in Planetary, where a naked alien Green Lantern Expy falls on Earth. He has a very disturbing mangina.
- Lampshaded with The Vision in West Coast Avengers. U.S. Agent demands that he "show some decency" and put some clothing on, but Vision points out that clothing would be pointless since as an android, he doesn't have nipples or visible genitals.
- The preservers in ElfQuest have androgynous bodies without genitals or nipples. Justified, as they're apparently asexual and sexless.
- Bloom County: "No dice! Comic strip animals aren't anatomically correct!"
- The title characters of ''Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" probably get a pass for being reptiles, but Splinter plays it dead straight.
- This is sometimes averted in Eastern Animation, where common farm animals (dogs, chickens), when seen from behind, may have a tiny dot drawn that represents the anus.
- Completely averted in one episode The Little Mole, where a girl rabbit becomes pregnant and gives birth... on screen.
Films — Animation
- Particularly noticeable with Gus in Cinderella, because his shirt is so teeny-tiny on him.
- Fievel in An American Tail is usually fully clothed, as are the other mice in the series, but in the brief nude scenes in which he's taking a bath he follows this trope.
- Edmond in Rock-A-Doodle gasps and covers himself up after being turned into a kitten and realizing he's naked, despite not really having anything to cover up. He then "covers up" with a big shirt that still leaves his furry but otherwise featureless bottom half exposed.
- Justified in Flushed Away during the Toad's Start of Darkness where the Toad actually does not have genitalia at all due to him being an amphibian.
- Although Po from Kung Fu Panda is always portrayed as wearing only pants and nothing else, as seen in the flashbacks in the sequel, his baby form actually fits this trope.
- This is actually a plot point in Badly Drawn Roy in which the main character is a cartoon in a live-action setting. He and his girlfriend broke up because they, uh, couldn't take their relationship to the next level (though they remained friends).
- Averted in the films based on Richard Adams' books Watership Down and The Plague Dogs. While the bunnies in Watership Down don't have any visible genitals (which is Truth in Television, as rabbit genitals aren't easily visible in real life), the dogs in both films have visible testicles and penile sheaths.
- Fritz the Cat doesn't show any genitals either–unless a sex scene comes up. Female characters always have visible nipples and genitals, but they usually cover them with clothes whereas Fritz is a Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal.
Films — Live-Action
- Averted in Neil Gaiman's Troll Bridge, where the Troll's penis is described not because it is any way relevant, but because it stood out to the narrator.
- Averted in Michael Chabon's Summerland, where after Ethan tells Cutbelly the werefox to get off his stomach (so he could breathe properly), the fox flips backwards off the boy, temporarily exposing his equipment, to Ethan's shock and dismay.
- Averted in Wildcards with The Walrus, an alien undercover agent who looks very much like an anthropomorphic walrus. It is mentioned that it has quite peculiar genitalia (although not really described) and is a hermaphrodite.
- This trope comes into play In-Universe in the Magic: The Gathering story "Dragon's Paw" by Edward Bolme. Urza magically creates a dragon to aid him in his experiments, but doesn't bother to give it a gender. The dragon talks him into making it stronger and bigger and eventually wants to be given a gender. When Urza admits that he's not sure how, the dragon convinces him to let it do the work - and uses this newfound control to sever the link between dragon and mage and flies off into the world.
- In a fantasy/comedic novel from L. Sprague de Camp, the main characters summon a demon who's clearly devoid of genitals despite being otherwise human-like. When he's asked about the mating, he explains that the members of his race "grows" genitals in the right season.
- A villainous character in the Well World novels passes through the Well and is sent to a hex populated by frog-like creatures. Transformed into one of them by the Well, he's perplexed by his new body's lack of external genitalia; one of his first questions, upon meeting the hex's natives, is how they have sex.
- When the Alien Autopsy was presented on Fox, they pixilated the part of the "body" where the genitals would be, if it had any. (And truthfully, it looked like it was lacking.)
- The Asgard from Stargate SG-1. Justified, as they don't reproduce. When we see precloning Asgard popsicles, the relevant area is hidden behind the frost.
- Naboo the Enigma from The Mighty Boosh is an alien, and reveals this about himself at Howard's birthday party.
- Played with in the Farscape episode "The Flax." A male alien drops his pants to show the crew murals on his legs from being in prison. The crew lampshades this trope with Zhaan even saying "For an anthropoid biped, there seems to be something missing." This is later hilariously explained when the alien is revealed to be the female of her species and in love with D'Argo.
- In addition to the page quote above, Londo Mollari also averts this trope by using his... *ahem* "attributes" to cheat in a poker game. Hilarity Ensues when one of the other players accidentally puts a glass of ice water down on the appendage in question.
- Averted in the tokusatsu Lion Maru where Lion Maru's costume has a visible penis.
- Played straight in Devil's Dare, where the assorted green-skinned demons are completely naked but sport no genitalia or nipples at all.
- Similarly, the merwomen of Barracora wear nothing and show nothing, even on their Non-Mammal Mammaries.
- In an early Dragon Magazine article, "The Psychology of the Doppleganger", a captive doppleganger's lack of genitalia or nipples in its natural form was openly discussed, as it provided its human captors with evidence (confirmed via interrogation) that such Dungeons & Dragons monsters had no true gender, and bred by changing into a gendered creature's shape and mating outside their own species.
- In Warhammer 40,000 the asexual Orks reproduce through spores rather than sex. Nothing's actually been confirmed, mind you, but we're pretty sure any genitalia is vestigial at best (they seem as vulnerable to Groin Attacks as anyone else due to Rule of Funny).
- In Werewolf: The Apocalypse one of the physical features of the Crinos form is "vulnerable features like genitalia withdrawn".
- Possibly Vortigaunts in Half-Life. Totally alien so anything goes, but a featureless crotch is good for the censors.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, Rakghouls aren't shown with genitalia, despite being hairless and shiny. This is never addressed within the story, even though rakghouls are humans transformed by The Virus. At one point, humans transform into Rakghouls in front of your eyes — their genitalia appear to have instantly disappeared (along with the eyes, and the fifth finger, and... A lot, really).
- One of the few things that you can't give your Spore creatures is genitalia, although you can place body parts designed for other purposes where they should be.
- The Sonic the Hedgehog franchise primarily features animals without clothing (or very little anyway, as they usually at least wear shoes and White Gloves), except in case of the females (and Charmy Bee, who wears an orange vest and a flight helmet). None of the male characters are shown to have genitals, thankfully. Even Charmy.
- Twelve from Street Fighter III.
- Very, very much averted with Satan in Dante's Inferno, where the attention to detail is far from subtle, probably to conform to some popular depictions of the character. (Oddly, in the pre-rendered cutscenes these critical areas are consistently obscured by shadows. Go figure.)
- Played straight in both Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario 3D Land where the Tanuki Suit, unlike many traditional depictions of the Tanuki, is very anatomically incorrect. Justified since both games are supposed to be appropriate for kids.
- Averted for several monsters in the God of War series. The gorgons and harpies have boobs, and in God of War 3 the centaurs have barely noticeable sheaths.
- Aliens in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Then again, they are genetically engineered clones cannon fodder grown in vats, so genitalia would be a superfluous trait at best, a weak point at worst, so why bother leaving them with genitalia?
- Sally Acorn in Sonic the Hedgehog comics (and the Sonic Sat AM cartoon) can be either fully nude save for boots, or wear only an open vest. Either way, she has obvious breasts without nipples.
- Averted with Commander Vachir from Kung Fu Panda, who is a rhinoceros with visible nipples on his bare chest.
- Moto Moto the hippo from Madagascar: Escape to Africa has this.
- Played with for laughs in Ice Age III. Scrat is a saber-toothed squirrel...thing, and is presented with neither visible genitals or nipples. Until a patch of fur gets ripped off his chest, revealing two nipples on the skin underneath. The female Scratte plays this straighter, with the impression of having breasts, but once again no visible nipples.
- The merwomen of Barracora have breasts but no nipples visible.
- Amy, created by the creator of Sabrina Online prior to the latter and its titular character, had defined breasts without nipples.
- Subverted in Sonichu. While some of the characters do appear topless with seemingly featureless breasts, issue #8 explains that the females of the Sonichu species have retractable nipples.
- The female reindeer in Robbie the Reindeer have plainly defined breasts without nipples.
- A little bit of it is present on the females in Father of the Pride.
- Also averted with the female pig in the "Donkey" episode; she has eight nipples showing. Not only is she an aversion, she is a very rare female aversion and the show is rated TV 14 rather than TV MA.
- The female chimp that appeared in one episode of The Penguins of Madagascar doesn't have any nipples showing, but averted with Phil and Mason the male chimps; they still have their nipples showing.
- Also averted and Bada and Bing the gorillas.
- Averted with the male and female animals in Almost Naked Animals. Unlike with the male animals in the same show, they’re all wearing bras except the cows, which have udders instead.
- Averted with the titular character from Chowder.
- Averted with Richard Watterson from The Amazing World of Gumball.
- Humphrey and many of the other bears his cartoons in the Classic Disney Shorts have Wrong Type Of Mammal Mammaries and their nipples don’t show, but since they’re male, this is a notable example of Law of Conservation of Detail.
- Averted with Porky Pig in Duck Dodgers and The Looney Tunes Show.
- Sometimes averted on The Ren & Stimpy Show, especially when the title characters gain muscular bodies.
- Flavio and Marita, the Hip Hippos from Animaniacs have this.
- Averted with Skips the gorilla from Regular Show.
- Surprisingly averted with Walt Disney's Fantasia. The centaurette from the Pastoral Symphony sequence bathe topless and visible nipples are shown. The harpies in the Night on Bald Mountain sequence are also topless, with nipples.
- Averted with Coverton in the Monsters vs. Aliens TV series. He has six breasts that each have nipples showing when he is naked.
- Averted in the 'Family Guy'' episode, "The Book of Joe." Brian is shown to have ten nipples on his chest. Truth in Television as actual dogs have ten nipples.