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, 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-heros will be a rat. One way to insult a mouse is to "mistake" him for a rat.

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

  • Alligators vs Crocodiles
  • Ants vs Termites
  • Apes vs Monkeys (though depending on the story, either can be the good or bad one)
  • Bees vs Wasps
  • Butterflies vs Moths
  • Cheetahs vs Leopards
  • Chimps vs Gorillas
  • Coyotes vs Jackals (though coyotes live in North America and jackals live in Africa and Western Asia)
  • Crickets vs Grasshoppers
  • Crickets vs Locusts
  • Dogs vs Cats
  • Dogs vs Wolves (though depending on the story, either can be the good or bad one)
  • Dolphins vs Sharks
  • Eagles vs Falcons and Hawks
  • Eagles vs Vultures
  • Elephants vs Rhinos
  • Fleas vs Ticks
  • Ferrets vs Weasels
  • Foxes vs Coyotes
  • Foxes vs Tanuki (though depending on the story, either can be the good or bad one)
  • Frogs vs Toads
  • Grasshoppers vs Locusts
  • Hippos vs Rhinos
  • Horses vs Donkeys and Mules
  • Lions vs Hyenas
  • Lizards vs Snakes
  • Mice vs Rats
  • Mongooses vs Weasels
  • Monkeys vs Baboons note 
  • Octopi vs Squid
  • Otters vs Weasels
  • Pigs vs Boars
  • Pigs vs Warthogs
  • Pythons vs Cobras
  • 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)
  • Sheep vs Goats
  • Snails vs Slugs
  • Squirrels vs Rats
  • Swans vs Ducks
  • Swans vs Geese
  • 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)
  • Certain breeds of dogs vs other breeds of dogs, such as Golden Retrievers or German Shepards vs Rottweilers or Pit Bulls.

However, a work need not have a direct face off to give off this vibe. Mistaking one 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.


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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).

    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 attacks them to 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.

  • 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.
  • In The Jungle Book, pythons are heroic while cobras are villainous.
  • In Literature/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."

    Video Games 
  • Done all the time in the Pokémon games: Caterpies vs Weedles, Pidgeys vs Spearows, Ledybas vs Spinaraks, and Skittys vs Glameows.

    Western Animation