Unpleasant Animal Counterpart


When the Beauty Equals Goodness, What Measure Is a Non-Cute? and Evil Twin tropes are applied to animals that are similar but not quite the same.

For example, mice are stereotyped as mischievous critters who are capable of being cute and lovable. Rats, due to being bigger and significantly less cuddly looking (even if in Real Life, cuddlier than mice), are rarely given as much leeway. Calling someone "mousey" lacks a harsh cannotation, it just means they're quiet and easily startled; calling someone "ratty" or a "rat" implies they're dirty and disgusting. If the hero is a mouse, one of the villains or anti-heroes will be a rat. One way to insult a mouse is to "mistake" him for a rat.

Keep in mind that there is no Truth in Television here and the only reason this trope came to be were the many different perspectives of uneducated people who have yet to study all of these animals.

Some examples of animal stereotyped as "good" vs. animal stereotyped as "bad":

  • African Wild Dogs vs Spotted Hyenas
  • African Wild Dogs vs Jackals
  • Alligators vs Crocodiles
  • Ants vs Termites
  • Apes vs Monkeys (though depending on the story, either can be the good or bad one)
  • Bees vs Hornets and Wasps
  • Boas vs Anacondas
  • Boas vs Vipers
  • Butterflies vs Moths
  • Ceratopsians vs Tyrannosaurs
  • Cheetahs vs Leopards
  • Chickens vs Foxes
  • Chickens vs Weasels
  • Chimpanzees vs Gorillas (though in Real Life, the gorillas are the gentle ones and the chimps are the aggressive ones)
  • Coyotes vs Jackals (though coyotes live in North America, while jackals live in Africa and Western Asia)
  • Crickets vs Grasshoppers
  • Crickets vs Locusts
  • Dogs vs Cats (though depending on the story, either can be the good or bad one; traditionally the cat more the bad one unless it is a kitten and the dog was more the good one unless it is a bulldog)
  • Dogs vs Wolves (though depending on the story, either can be the good or bad one)
  • Dogs and Mice vs Cats
  • Dolphins vs Orcas note 
  • Dolphins vs Sharks
  • Ducks vs Geese
  • Eagles vs Falcons and/or Hawks
  • Eagles and/or Hawks vs Falcons
  • Eagles, Hawks, and/or Falcons vs Vultures (though in Real Life, the vultures would be the friendly ones and the eagles, hawks, and falcons would be the aggressive ones)
  • Elephants vs Rhinoceroses
  • Fleas vs Ticks
  • Ferrets vs Weasels note 
  • Foxes vs Coyotes
  • Foxes vs Tanuki (though depending on the story, either can be the good or bad one)
  • Frilled Lizards vs Goannas
  • Frogs vs Toads
  • Garter Snakes vs Rattlesnakes
  • Geckos vs Monitor Lizards
  • Ground Sloths vs Saber-toothed Cats
  • Gorillas vs Leopards
  • Grasshoppers vs Locusts
  • Hadrosaurs vs Tyrannosaurs
  • Hippopotamuses vs Crocodiles (though in Real Life, the crocs would be the good-natured ones and the hippos would be the aggressive ones, and the crocs would give the hippos a wide berth for precisely this reason)
  • Hippopotamuses vs Rhinoceroses
  • Homo sapiens vs Neanderthals (though depending on the story, either can be the good or bad one)
  • Honey Badgers vs Cobras
  • Horses vs Donkeys and Mules
  • Iguanas vs Monitor Lizards
  • Leopards vs Tigers (though depending on the story, either can be the good or bad one)
  • Lions vs Hyenas (though depending on the story, either can be the good or bad one. Traditionally, the former animal was more often the good one and the latter animal was more often the bad one)
  • Lions vs Leopards (though depending on the story, either can be the good or bad one)
  • Lions vs Tigers (though depending on the story, either can be the good or bad one)
  • Lizards vs Snakes
  • Mammoths vs Saber-toothed Cats
  • Mice vs Cats (seeing as cats stalk, chase, and eat mice, the cats are the bad ones and the mice are the good ones; this is sometimes inverted by having the cat be the good one and the mouse being the bad one)
  • Mice vs Owls
  • Mice vs Rats
  • Mongooses vs Snakes, especially Cobras
  • Mongooses vs Weasels
  • Monkeys vs Baboons note 
  • Octopuses vs Squids
  • Orangutans vs Gorillas (though orangutans live in Southeast Asia and gorillas live in Africa)
  • Orcas vs Sharks
  • Otters vs Weasels
  • Penguins vs Leopard Seals
  • Penguins vs Orcas
  • Pigs vs Boars
  • Pigs vs Warthogs
  • Plesiosaurs vs Mosasaurs
  • Plesiosaurs vs Pliosaurs
  • Pterosaurs vs Marine Reptiles
  • Pythons vs Cobras
  • Rabbits vs Foxes
  • Rabbits vs Hares
  • Ravens vs Crows (though depending on the story, either can be the good or bad one)
  • Rhino Beetles vs Stag Beetles (though depending on the story, either can be the good or bad one)
  • Sauropods vs Carnosaurs and Tyrannosaurs
  • Seals and Sea Lions vs Walruses (though depending on the story, either can be the good or bad one)
  • Sheep vs Goats
  • Snails vs Slugs
  • Squirrels vs Rats
  • Stegosaurs vs Carnosaurs and Ceratosaurs
  • Swans vs Ducks
  • Swans vs Geese
  • Troodonts vs Dromaeosaurs
  • Tyrannosaurus rex vs Dromaeosaurs
  • Whales vs Orcas
  • Whales vs Sharks
  • Wolves vs Coyotes
  • Wolves vs Foxes (though depending on the story, either can be the good or bad one. Traditionally, the latter animal was more often the good one and the former animal was more often the bad one)
  • Wolves vs Jackals
  • Zebras vs Hyenas
  • Zebras vs Lions
  • Certain breeds of dogs vs other breeds of dogs, such as Golden Retrievers or German Shepards vs Rottweilers or Pit Bulls.

However, a work does not need have a direct face off to give off this vibe. Mistaking one animal for the other and having said animal correct you with distaste ("Oh heavens no, I'm not a toad, I'm a frog!") gives off the implication that one is somehow an inferior version of the other.

See I Am Not Weasel if being mistaken becomes a running gag (the mistake need not actually be considered offensive to the animal, just incredibly exasperating), Elves vs. Dwarves for a magical equivalent, Slobs vs. Snobs, which is often used to justify this Fantastic Racism, and Always Chaotic Evil if the animal's prejudices are justified. See also Nice Mice and You Dirty Rat!. This trope usually follows Animal Stereotypes.

The "pleasant" and "unpleasant" animals can either be related, similar, or both.

Related to Good Animals, Evil Animals and Animal Jingoism.


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     Anime and Manga  
  • Purposely invoked in Pokémon. The Chick of the season, May, catches a Wurmple. The Dark Chick, Jessie, also manages to catch a Wurmple. Now Wurmples can either evolve into a sweet looking little butterfly (Bug/Flying) or an obnoxiously colorful moth (Bug/Poison). Guess which girl gets which? This is a subversion though, as both Pokémon are actually quite bad, arguably the former being the worst. Dustox make messes when they eat, leaving trees barren whenever they swarm into an area and scatter noxious dust as a defense mechanism. Beautifly are actually quite savage despite their appearance, being very aggressive when provoked or disturbed and attacking by stabling opponents with their proboscis to drain their "fluids". The anime does not, however, bring up Beautifly's more unpleasant traits, and largely plays this trope straight (although the extent of Dustox's villainy is its association with Team Rocket).
  • The season 1 finale of Squid Girl introduces the octopus-like Kozue Tanabe, who is kind and gentle in contrast to the titular squid-like character.
  • In Dinosaur King, the good guys' first dinosaur is a Triceratops while the bad guys' is a Tyrannosaurus rex.

    Films — Animated 
  • While all the good characters in The Great Mouse Detective are mice, the Big Bad, Professor Ratigan, is a rat. Just don't call him that to his face.
  • The Lion King:
    • Inverted with Pumbaa. He's a warthog, and being called a "pig" is his Berserk Button. Normally, you'd consider a warthog to be the Unpleasant Animal Counterpart to a pig.
    • The Lion King also depicts lions as noble, majestic and mostly good guys and hyenas as dirty, stupid and cowardly bad guys. Deconstructed in The Lion Guard, where hyenas turn out to be mostly good.
  • In the Shrek movies Donkey wants very much to be a horse.
  • In Finding Nemo, sharks can't stand dolphins because, according to them, they're show-offs (and liked by humans).
  • In Shark Tale, dolphins appear to be one of the few animals that sharks don't mess with (basically their equals). When a "vegetarian" Shark decides to live amongst fish, he disguises himself as a dolphin (even though dolphins also eat fish).
  • Averted in Ratatouille where rats get to be the heroes for once (though no mice appear), though considering the title is a play on words, it's rather necessary.
  • Antz depicts ants and termites as mortal enemies. The ants are highly anthropomorphic (as are a few other insects), while the termites are The Horde. Ultimately, this is played with in that the termites are implicitly Non Malicious Monsters, while the actual villain is an ant general who needlessly provokes them to kill the soldiers not loyal to him.
  • Played with in The Secret Of NIMH. The heroine is a mouse, and Auntie Shrew thinks rats are brutes, but the rats of NIMH turn out to be benevolent, with the exception of Big Bad Jenner, although Brutus is still pretty menacing.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the first Stuart Little movie, a bully of George's gets punched in the face when he states "You're right, he's [Stuart] not a stupid mouse, he's a stupid RAT."
  • In Inglourious Basterds, Hans Landa muses on the differences and similarities between rats and squirrels.
  • In the Planet of the Apes (2001) one gorilla was very offended when Mark Wahlberg's character called him a monkey.
  • Jurassic Park started the trend of raptors being the main "evil" dinosaur, while former dinosaur Big Bad Tyrannosaurus began to be put in a heroic light. Deconstructed in Jurassic World where raptors are portrayed more sympathetically albeit still dangerous, and eventually the last surviving member of the pack Blue teams up with T. rex Rexy in bringing down the Indominus rex.

  • In The Bible goats represent evil people and sinners, whereas sheep represent good people and the faithful.
  • In the Redwall series, mice are good whilst rats are evil, and otters and badgers are good while stoats, ferrets, weasels, martens and wolverines are evil.
  • In Kim Newman's The Hound of the D'Urbervilles, Professor Moriarty breeds wasps, this apparently being the evil equivalent of Sherlock Holmes becoming a beekeeper.
  • In Garry Kilworth's House Of Tribes, the protagonists are all mice, while one of the antagonists is a mean dirty old murderous rat.
  • In 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, baleen whales vs cachalots (called sperm whales in modern times). Nemo is adamant against killing baleen whales for sport, but has no problem with killing cachalots — described as "cruel, mischievous creatures".
  • In Discworld, calling the orangutan Librarian a "monkey" is an invitation to a painful lesson in Taxonomic Term Confusion, administered by red-furred arms strong enough to hold someone upside-down by the ankles and bounce their noggin on the floor.
  • The Jungle Book:
    • Pythons are heroic, while cobras are antagonistic. Kaa the python also considers the venomous snakes as cowards.
    • Wolves are noble while jackals and red dogs (dholes) are both cruel and cowardly.
    • The story "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" has a mongoose as the hero protecting his adoptive human family, whereas cobras are villains trying to kill said human family so they can have room for their children to grow.
  • In Babar, the elephants are gentle, civilized, and live in a kingdom ruled by The Good King, whereas the rhinos are boisterous and violent, and led by a selfish dictator. The conflict between the two species is particularly played up in the Animated Adaptation by Nelvana.

    Live-Action Television 
  • When Kermit the Frog is called a toad on The Muppet Show, he explains that "frogs are handsome, debonair and charming, while toads are ugly and give you warts."
  • Inverted in Dinosaurs. B.P. Richfield (a Triceratops) is the most unpleasant character in the show, while Roy Hess (a Tyrannosaurus rex) is the nicest.

    Video Games 
  • Done all the time in the Pokémon games: Caterpies vs Weedles, Pidgeys vs Spearows, Ledybas vs Spinaraks, and Skittys vs Glameows.
  • Inverted in Jurassic Park: The Game. Troodon are even worse than the Velociraptor, to the point the latter flee when they sense the former's presence.

    Western Animation 
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: Fleas are heroic and sympathetic while ticks are evil and one is the Big Bad and Corrupt Corporate Executive in "Flea for Your Life."
  • Inverted in Ovide and the Gang. Cy Sly the python is the main villain, while his Egyptian cobra cousin is a good guy. Played straight with Polo vs. Cy; the lizard being one of the heroes in contrast with the snake.
  • The Lion Guard:
    • Both "The Rise of Makuu" and "Beshte and the Hippo Lanes" have crocodiles being the main antagonists to the good hippopotamuses. Deconstructed in Season 2, where the Pridelander crocs become good guys with banished individuals being evil.
    • In "The Imaginary Okapi", Makucha the leopard is the villain of the episode, in stark contrast to heroic cheetah Fuli as well as the noble lions of the Pride Lands. Subverted later in "The Trouble with Galagos" where we meet the good leopard Badili (although the episode's antagonist is also a leopard).
    • "Ono's Idol" introduces good eagle Hadithi, a contrast to the evil vulture Mzingo.
    • The cobra (Ushari) is antagonistic, while pythons are somewhat portrayed in a positive light.
    • Geckos, chameleons, and agamas are good, while villainous lizards have been skinks and a monitor lizard.
    • Downplayed with baboons. While they are prone to be more antagonistic than other monkeys, they are mostly good.
    • However, there has been instances where the show averts this. Particularly, rhinoceroses are just as good guys as the elephants and hippopotamuses, and gorillas are no less friendly than the chimpanzees and monkeys.
  • Inverted in the Kenny the Shark episode "Whalin' on Kenny" where the titular character gets menaced by a ruthless orca, in contrast to the usual portrayal of sharks being the unpleasant counterpart to orcas (and dolphins in general).