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Some animals (or certain groups of animals) have a tendency to be depicted in media always doing a certain activity. Cheetahs are always running, humpback whales are always breaching, and roosters are always crowing at dawn
. Can be justified when it's to highlight the most prominent characteristic of the animal, or if the animal really does spend a considerable portion of its time engaging in its stock behavior. Oftentimes, however, it leaves the impression that the species spends all
of its time engaging in its stock activity and overshadows its other behaviors. See Somewhere This Index Is Crying
if the animal doesn't actually engage in its stock behavior in Real Life
, or only does so rarely.
Subtropes include Rhino Rampage
, Playful Otter
, and Cock-a-Doodle Dawn
. Killer Rabbit
is often a subversion. Can overlap with Stock Animal Diet
if feeding is a stock behavior of an animal.
: As this trope is based on its ubiquity, the only works that should be listed are aversions, subversions, lampshaded examples, in-universe examples, and other variants.
open/close all folders
- Octopuses are always spraying ink.
- Spiders are always sitting around in the middle of their webs.
- Crabs and lobsters are always pinching people.
- Ants are always marching, while carrying absurdly large things.
- Leaf-cutter ants in particular are always carrying leaves.
- Bees are always collecting pollen or swarming intruders.
- Dung beetles are always rolling balls of dung.
- Antlion larvae are always waiting at the bottom of their pits. You never see the adult form.
- Mosquitoes are always sucking blood. Somewhere, an Entomologist Is Crying if the mosquito depicted isn't a female.
- Lampreys are always clinging onto their hosts.
- Thresher sharks are always slapping prey with their tails.
- Hammerhead sharks are always getting their asses kicked by dolphins.
- Every shark is always blood thirsty and tracks down their victims for miles if they want too, because apparently they're such monsters that all they want to do is swallow you in one big bite. All sharks will invariably be based on big great white sharks.
- Archerfish are always shooting down insects.
- Salmon are always leaping up waterfalls.
- African lungfish are always aestivating.
- Moray eels are always poking their heads out of crevices with their mouths open.
- Anglerfish are always drawing in prey with their lures.
- Horned frogs are always swallowing something (usually mice). In Real Life they appear to always be sitting around half-buried in substrate.
- Crocodiles are always lying lazily either on a river bank, or floating lazily with only their eyes and nostrils above the water (Sometimes the whole snout is above the water, for audience clarity).
- When they fight, crocodillians always employ a death roll/barrel roll, and it's frequently mentioned they have a powerful tail.
- Their back scales are always said to be extremely durable.
- Alligator snapping turtles are always luring fish with their tongues. In Real Life they tend to be lying motionless on the bottom of a pond.
Snakes, lizards, and kin
- Cobras are always reared up in a threat display.
- Basilisk lizards are always running on water.
- Frilled lizards are always running around with their frills wide open.
- Chameleons are always changing color and catching insects with their long tongues.
- Most rattlesnakes are always coiled up with their tails rattling, ready to strike.
- Sidewinders are always moving across the desert by sidewinding.
- Hog-nosed snakes are always either playing dead or swallowing toads.
- Blue-tongued skinks are always sticking their tongues out.
- Anacondas are always squeezing caimans to death.
- Constrictor snakes in general are always squeezing something to death.
- Dinosaurs during the K-Pg extinction are always shown either in mass panic or staring at the asteroid as it hurtles toward Earth.
- Pachycephalosaurs are always shown charging at and butting each other in the flank or head (depending on which hypothesis the artist wants to depict).
- Maiasaura is always shown taking care of its young.
- Oviraptor was always shown stealing eggs from Protoceratops. Now that Science has Marched On, it's always shown brooding its own nest.
- Recently, Troodon seems to have taken its place as the main nest-raider.
- Many a large predatory theropod has been shown either eating a dead specimen of its prey (usually a hadrosaur or a sauropod, depending on the time period), roaring in triumph after making a kill or just standing majestically over a carcass.
- They also have a (recent) history of being shown running and roaring randomly across the landscape. Even when hunting.
- Deinonychus is always shown bringing down Tenontosaurus in a deadly pack.
- Played even straighter by Tenontosaurus, which is always being killed by Deinonychus. Always. Even in the extraordinarily rare event it isn't, expect a Lampshade Hanging.
- Ceratopsids, ankylosaurs, and stegosaurs are always shown facing off against theropods.
- When in a group, ceratopsids tend to do so by forming a protective ring around their young, despite that there's no solid evidence for this behavior.
- Sauropods used to always be depicted standing around in swamps. Far less prevalent now that science has marched on. Nowadays, they're usually seen eating leaves from trees and migrating in herds.
- As a tribute to Charles Knight's "Leaping Laelaps" piece, Dryptosaurus is always portrayed (when it is portrayed at all) fighting each other with one individual leaping into the air.
- Protoceratops is always either defending its nest from Oviraptor (mostly in older works) or fighting Velociraptor.
- Ornitholestes was always shown hunting flying animals, usually the early bird Archaeopteryx (even though the two aren't known to have been contemporaries), but sometimes also pterosaurs or flying insects. This meme appears to have largely died out though.
- Mei is always shown sleeping. Not helped by the fact that two specimens have actually been found preserved in sleeping position.
- Baryonyx is always fishing or eating fish.
- Eustreptospondylus is always swimming between islands.
- In older portraits, Iguanodon was often shown squaring off with Megalosaurus. No longer prevalent in recent times (probably because these two did not live at the same time).
- Ornithomimids are always running or (especially in older works) raiding nests.
- Pterosaurs of all kinds are always shown soaring around catching fish. We now know their lifestyles were probably far more varied than that.
- Thanks to recent research and art done by pterosaur researcher Mark Witton, azhdarchid pterosaurs these days are always shown stalking on the ground eating baby sauropods.
- Small-to-medium sized ichthyosaurs, if not just casually swimming, are always jumping out of the water dolphin-style.
- There was a very common early paleoart trope, which is nowadays rarely seen, that any picture of a plesiosauroid and a pliosauroid or an ichthyosaur must show one of the latter two biting through the neck of the former.
- Peregrine falcons are always shown diving through the air at top speed.
- Hummingbirds are always hovering around in the air and sipping nectar. Justified in that they do spend most of their time feeding due to their high metabolism.
- Most owls are always sitting around in trees and tree hollows staring at stuff, at least when they're not swooping down on some prey item, usually mice.
- Birds of prey in general are always flying around with their talons outstretched to catch something.
- Robins are always pulling earthworms from the ground.
- Woodpecker finches are always using cactus spines to spear insects in bark.
- Penguins on land are always sliding around on their bellies or rearing young. (And they're always emperor penguins.)
- Wild geese are always migrating.
- Wild galliforms of all kinds are always in courtship display.
- In less realistic works, ostriches will always be burying their heads in the sand. They also (more realistically) eat everything they can swallow. More realistic works tend to show them running.
- Great blue herons are always standing around in the water, usually in marshes.
- Egyptian vultures are always throwing stones at ostrich eggs. Other types of vultures tend to always be gathering around carcasses.
- Chickens are always walking around pecking at food. Hens in particular are always sitting on their eggs. Roosters will be standing on top of a fence and only crow when the rising sun appears behind them.
- Gastornis is always chasing and eating small horse-like ungulates, usually Hyracotherium. Science Marches On, since Gastornis now turned out to be a herbivore.
- Mesozoic mammals are always shown crawling out of dinosaur skulls just after the K-Pg extinction.
- Any mammal with a prehensile tail will always be hanging around in trees.
- Koalas are always in the eucalyptus trees feasting on leaves.
- Kangaroos always carry joeys and hop around everywhere. They're always boxing as well.
- Opossums are always hanging upside down (and are always Virginia opossums). This one is actually not true in Real Life: while opossums, especially young ones, can support their weight using only their tails for a short amount of time, they can't do this for the extended periods of time they're often shown in (and certainly don't sleep in this position).
- They also play dead a lot.
- Musk ox herds are always forming a circle to fend off wolves.
- Similar to pachycephalosaurs, rams and bighorn sheep engage in butting heads as well.
- Hippos are always lounging about in the water. You'll never see the part about how they come onto land to graze at night.
- Deer and antelope are always grazing peacefully before a predator bursts out and makes them scatter.
- Wildebeest are always doing river crossings and getting attacked by crocodiles.
- Cattle are always stampeding or chewing cud.
- Humpback whales are always either singing or breaching.
- Sperm whales are always fighting giant squid.
- Orcas are always beaching themselves to catch pinnipeds.
- Cheetahs are always shown chasing down prey.
- Meerkats are always standing up on lookout while the rest of their colony does... whatever it is they do.
- Indian gray mongooses are always fighting cobras.
- Brown bears are always waiting for salmon on the waterfall.
- River otters are always playing (often by sliding down mud slides), while sea otters are always floating on their backs using a rock to crack shellfish.
- Spotted skunks are always doing handstands.
- Skunks in general are always spraying predators.
- Wolves are always howling at the moon or hunting some large herbivore in packs.
- "Seals" (actually sea lions most of the time) are always balancing balls on their nose, barking, and clapping their flippers.
- Leopards (and sometimes other big cats) are always lounging about in trees. They'll often pounce on prey that passes by from underneath.
- Polar bears are always waiting for seals at their breathing holes.
- Bull elephant seals are always fighting.
- Lone dogs are peeing on fire hydrants.
- Raccoons are always foraging or washing their food at bodies of water, or raiding garbage cans.
- Lions, tigers, and other big cats are always roaring.
- Saber-toothed cats are often depicted attacking mammoths, giant ground sloths, or early humans.
- Prairie dogs are always standing up on lookout while the rest of their colony does... whatever it is they do.
- Beavers on land are always chewing on trees.
- Gophers are always tunneling.
- Aye-ayes are always searching for insects in tree bark.
- Sifakas are always hopping around.
- Gibbons are always brachiating (unless they are siamangs).
- Howler monkeys and siamangs are always vocalizing.
- Armadillos, hedgehogs, and pangolins are always curling into balls.
- Anteaters are always feeding on ants or termites.
- Sloths are always hanging upside down.
- In the case of ground sloths, they are usually eating from trees or confronting saber-toothed cats.
- Repenomamus is always eating baby Psittacosaurus.
- Moles are always bursting out of the ground with only their head and forelimbs showing, or tunneling underground.
- Vampire bats are always drinking blood or hanging in caves.
- Rabbits are always breeding.
- Mammoths are always stuck in tarpits being threatened by saber-toothed cats.
Exceptions, Subversions, Aversions, and Notable Examples in Media:
- In-universe example: in Peanuts Snoopy was prone to doing these in his imitations.
- Vulture: lurking on a tree branch
- Lion: stalking & pouncing
- Kangaroo: hopping
- Boa Constrictor: squeezing
- All Yesterdays sets out specifically to avert this (among other paleoart memes).
- The Mega Man X series gives the animal Mavericks attacks based off these stock behaviors, despite the Mavericks in question being robots. For example, Chill Penguin's slides around the floor, Armored Armadillo curls into a ball, Storm Owl swoops down to grab the player, etc. Apparently they were manufactured to have behaviors like these in.
- Greatly averted here.
- Several aversions with lampshades hanging here, most of which are entirely speculative and somewhat tongue in cheek. These illustrations were later used in All Yesterdays.