Sliding Scale of Animal Cast
Many works of fiction have animal characters. They could be anywhere on the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism
, from Nearly Normal Animals
to Petting Zoo People
. They might be pets and companions to humans, simply coexist with them, be humans turned into animals
, or exist in a world where there are no humans at all. This page categorizes the works by the proportion and prominence of animals compared to humans in their cast.
Compare Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism
and Sliding Scale of Animal Communication
The levels of animal cast are the following.
1. All-Animal Cast With No Humans At All:
There are either explicitly no humans in the setting, or their existence is left ambiguous - there is simply no mention of them at all. A common variant is World of Funny Animals
, when animals (usually at the on the higher end of the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism
, at least on the Civilized Animal
level) take the roles that are normally taken by humans. Often the setting of a Xeno Fiction
or a Beast Fable
. Often shows up in an Anthropomorphic Animal Adaptation
2. Animal Cast With Humans As Living Props:
There are humans in the setting, but they are not personified and do not interact with the animals, apart from occasionally threatening them. Often they will be an inconceivable horror
in this kind of work. May take place in a Mouse World
. Even more common in Xeno Fiction
than the previous category.
3. Animal Cast With Humans As Minor Characters:
There are human characters (sometimes just one or two
, sometimes more) with actual personality and names, who may interact with the animals, but they are mostly secondary characters or Plot Device
and the animals are the real protagonists. These may also take place in a Mouse World
, and animals can still see humans as horrors
. A World of Funny Animals
with one or a few Token Humans
also belong to this level.
4. Animal Cast With Human Protagonist:
The protagonist is a human (often a Token Human
, but there may be a few other humans as well, resulting in Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!
), but the majority of the cast are still animals. May be a World of Funny Animals
with a Token Human
5. Equally Human and Animal Cast:
Cast is equally human and animal, and both are equally important and prominent. Protagonist can be either human, animal, or both. Can be a Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!
6. Human Cast With Animal Protagonist:
The inversion of 4; the cast consists mostly of humans, but the main character is an animal. May also overlap with Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!
7. Human Cast With Animals In Supporting Roles:
The inversion of 3: the main characters are humans, but there are supporting characters with proper personality who are animals. The animal is often a Non-Human Sidekick
to the humans.
8. All-Human Cast:
All important characters are humans, animals are only Living Props
, or are not mentioned / do not exist at all. As this is really common (and thus meaningless and doesn't work as a trope
), No Examples, Please
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1. All-Animal Cast, No Humans At All
2. Animal Cast With Humans As Living Props
- The book Bambi: A Life in the Woods by Felix Salten, and the more famous Walt Disney film based on it, focuses on the life of a young deer, with various other animals in supporting roles. Humans only appear as un-personified, faceless threat to animals.
- The book Watership Down by Richard Adams, and the animated film by Nepenthe Productions based on it. A group of rabbits flee their doomed warren, seeking refuge elsewhere. Humans Are Cthulhu in both the book and the film. The book subverts it for a single chapter near the end, which is written from farm girl Lucy's point of view, with the farmer and Doctor Adams also in talking roles), and one of Fiver's visions where he can talk to humans, which put the book closer to Level 3. These scenes do not appear in the film.
- The U.S. Acres comic strip by Jim Davis, and the segments of Garfield and Friends based on it, have a cast of farm animals. No humans appear, except for one Cross Over with the Garfield segments when Roy talks to Jon Arbuckle on the phone. The farmer is mentioned from time to time but is never seen.
- Flushed Away stars a pet rat, but his owners don't really appear. The majority of the movie takes place in a Mouse World inhabited by rodents and amphibians.
- Antz stars ants and other insects. Humans Are Cthulhu is in full action.
- El Perro Y El Gato is a World of Funny Animals, but the humans shown are Living Props who are usually seen shoulder down. In the few times human heads are seen, they are faceless. Unlike many other examples, the humans don't pose a threat to the animals.
- An American Tail is a Mouse World with cats and mice. Humans are Living Props shown only below the knee to the feet and don't interact with the animal characters.
- Similarly, The Great Mouse Detective has animals in a Mouse World and the humans (e.g. the silhouette of Sherlock Holmes) are Living Props who are only shown in a scene early in the movie.
- The Hungarian animated film Vuk The Little Fox. The protagonist is a fox, and the rest of the cast are various forest or farm animals. Humans Are Cthulhu, their face is never seen and the only actually active one is the antagonist.
- Humans are a driving force in the plot of Once Upon a Forest, being responsible for the gas leak that destroys the forest, but are regarded as Humans Are Cthulhu by the animals and never fully seen on screen. However some friendly humans appear near the end to clean up after the gas leak, in full Hazmat Suit, showing the animals that humans aren't all bad.
- Warrior Cats is about Clans of feral cats living in the woods. Humans mostly are viewed as threats, particularly their machines. It is accepted that not all of them are hostile, though - even friendly - though the cats still want nothing to do with them, and house cats ("kittypets") are scorned for their easy life. In some of the graphic novels, notably Sasha's trilogy, there's a few that are named and that speak, though the cats are unable to understand them.
3. Animal Cast With Humans As Minor Characters
- The first Ice Age movie, having a human baby as a central Plot Device. In the sequels the humans are not mentioned, so they are closer to Level 1.
- Animal Farm by George Orwell. There are named human characters (Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Mr. Pilkington, Mr. Frederick), but the majority of the cast are farm animals.
- Rio stars mostly birds, but some of them are pets with human owners who are also important.
- Finding Nemo: Humans Are Cthulhu for the fish, but there are named and personified human characters such as Dr. Sherman and his niece Darla.
- Rango takes place in a Mouse World or World of Funny Animals, but the titular chameleon is a pet for humans at the beginning of the film, and the Spirit of the West takes the form of Clint Eastwood.
- The Fantastic Mr. Fox (both the book and the film) stars a fox and has other animals as supporting characters, but the main antagonists are three human farmers.
- Sonic the Hedgehog takes place in a World of Funny Animals with a hedgehog as the protagonist. However, the main antagonist, Dr. Robotnik, is a human.
- Sponge Bob Square Pants has a cast of sea creatures, but also the minor human characters Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy.
- Babar takes place in a World of Funny Animals, but there are minor human characters such as the Old Lady / Madame (Babar's surrogate mother) and an evil Egomaniac Hunter.
- In Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, all of the Rangers are animals, and so are most secondary and background characters. Among the humans, there's one recurring villain (Doctor Nimnul), and many one-shot and background characters.
- Oliver & Company (an Anthropomorphic Animal Adaptation of Oliver Twist) stars Oliver the kitten, and most characters are dogs. However, Jenny, Fagin and Sykes are humans.
- Winnie the Pooh has a cast of animals, most of them being Living Toys. Christopher Robin, the owner of the toys, is the Token Human; although he is definitely The Leader, he's not the protagonist.
- Don Bluth's The Secret of NIMH is mostly mice and rats. However, Farmer Fitzgibbons plays a critical role in revealing to Mrs. Brisby that NIMH is coming to the farm to bulldoze the rats' rosebush.
- Tiny Toon Adventures has a cast of Funny Animals, but also has two Token Humans: Elmyra Duff and Montana Max.
- Humans exist in The World of Vicki Fox, but they don't appear often and have almost no bearing on the plot.
- In Zig And Sharko, most of the characters are animals, and humans only appear occasionally.
- Ginga Nagareboshi Gin has humans as the main characters for the first six episodes. But at the seventh episode, the rest of the episodes show dogs as the main characters.
4. Animal Cast With Human Protagonist
- The Mowgli stories in The Jungle Book (and the Disney film based on them) star a young human who was Raised by Wolves. The majority of the supporting cast are animals, although humans (such as Buldeo and Messua in the book or Shanti in the Disney film) also appear.
- The Ant Bully has a human boy as the main character, but most supporting characters are insects.
- The first act of Disney's Tarzan is like this. In the second act, the humans arrive, including Jane and Clayton, pushing the animal characters to the background and the film to Level 7. The midquel, Tarzan 2 is clearly Level 4.
- My Gym Partners A Monkey stars a human child enrolled in a school of Funny Animals.
- The first Planet of the Apes movie stars a human astronaut who lands on a planet inhabited by sentient apes. While there are other humans in the story (the astronaut's companions and the planet's non-sentient humans), they are relatively minor characters.
- In all the Animal Crossing games, the only human(s) is/are the Player Character(s), up to four per game.
- Spell Singer has a human who is summoned to a magical medieval fantasy world populated by Animals and Humans, though aside from a few main human characters. Almost all other humans (aside from one villain) are background characters. About 96% of the characters are animals.
5. Equally Human and Animal Cast
- The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under: The protagonists (Bernard and Bianca) are animals, but there are equally important human characters, both good (Penny and Cody) and villainous (Madame Medusa and Percival McLeach)
- Top Cat: Mr. Dibble the human character is as important a character as the cat characters are.
- Yogi Bear: Ranger Smith the human is just as important as Yogi and Boo Boo the bears.
- Any Looney Tunes cartoon that features Bugs Bunny and/or Daffy Duck against Elmer Fudd or Yosemite Sam is this.
- Pinocchio stars a humanoid wooden puppet, but has both animals (Jiminy Cricket, Honest John the fox, Gideon the cat, Monstro the whale) and humans (Gepetto, Stromboli, the Coachman) in its supporting cast.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch And the Wardrobe has human protagonists and a humanoid witch as the main antagonists, but also has a number of talking animals or animal-like mythical and fairytale creatures in its main cast, most prominently Aslan the lion.
- In Garfield, the titular cat and his human owner, Jon Arbuckle are equally central characters. The supporting cast has both animals (Odie, Nermal, Arlene) and humans (Lyman, Liz, Jon's family).
- In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the two protagonists are Roger, a toon rabbit and Eddie, a non-toon human. The rest of the cast includes both non-toon humans and toon humans and animals.
- The Wind in the Willows and its adaptations, including the Disney adaptation that is part of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, has Mr. Toad as the main protagonist, with both humans and animals as supporting characters.
- Chis Sweet Home has the titular kitten character as a protagonist. Supporting characters include both humans (Yohei and his parents) and animals (Cocchi, Blackie, and Alice, the cats and David the dog).
- The main cast of Regular Show is made up of Funny Animals and anthropomorphized objects. Background characters are mainly human.
6. Human Cast with Animal Protagonist
- Ratatouille has Remy the rat as protagonist and a few rats as supporting characters, but the deuteragonist Linguini is a human, along with the rest of the cast.
- King Kong has mostly human cast, but the main character is a giant, monstrous gorilla.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has the titular turtles and Master Splinter, a rat among its main characters, but the majority of the cast are humans.
- Pinky and the Brain stars two mice who try to Take Over the World. This world is mostly inhabited by humans.
- Wishbone runs on the idea that the titular dog plays the protagonist of classic literary works, while every other character is played by humans.
- In Hong Kong Phooey, the title character is an anthropomorphic dog and his sidekick Spot is a cat, but everyone else is a human.
- The Emperor's New Groove stars Kuzco the llama, although he's actually a human who fell victim of Baleful Polymorph. The rest of the cast are humans, except for Bucky the squirrel.
- The sequel and TV series would be at a Level 7 because it features a human cast and Bucky the Squirrel is a supporting or minor character with a proper personality rather than a Living Prop. Though Kuzco (or another character) would turn into a different animal every couple of episodes. This Running Gag was toned down in later episodes.
- Oggy and the Cockroaches. Oggy, his parents, Jack, Bob, Olivia and the three cockroaches are the only anthopomorfic animals, while everyone else is a human being.
- Calvin and Hobbes. Hobbes is a toy tiger who may or may not be really alive. Calvin and all other characters are human.
- Rocky and Bullwinkle are a squirrel and a moose, respectively, living among humans. The Peabody's Improbable History segments from the same show star Mr. Peabody, a dog, as the only animal character.
- Freefall is about the adventures of Florence Ambrose, a genetically-engineered talking wolf, Sam, her squidlike alien spaceship captain, and a whole host of humans and Ridiculously Human Robots.
- In The Houndcats, the titular heroes are the only funny animals in an otherwise all-human world. Nobody ever mentions this.
7. Human Cast With Animals In Supporting Roles
8. All-Human Cast: No Examples, Please