Useful Notes: Furry Fandom

aka: Furries

"Gadget was in many ways the perfect character for me in this pre-sexual phase. The clear social expectation that Id eventually have to date and find a wife (a process that, in 4th grade, I treated as an upcoming errand, not entirely dissimilar to emptying the dishwasher) was made easier by the knowledge that there were people in the world like Gadget — hyper-intelligent female mice — that I could marry."

A furry is, at its base, a fan of anthropomorphic animal characters (whom are frequently and somewhat ironically abbreviated to simply anthros). Exactly where on the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism these characters are doesn't matter, but most of them fall under Petting Zoo People and Funny Animals, and they're not on either extreme end. The characters may in some instances also be shapeshifters, transforming from fully human form to some kind of animal.

The majority of the fandom consists of people who enjoy fiction and art centered around anthropomorphic animal characters, ranging from being in the form of text stories, art, and comic books, to more elaborate and mainstream forms of media such as Dreamworks Animation's popularly and financially successful film franchise Kung Fu Panda, among other widely-known works based around anthropomorphic animal characters such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Star Fox and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to name a few. Furries may simply take part in what others create, or they may be creators themselves. Many, but not all, also have a fursona note , which is a furry character representing the individual who created it.

On the deeper end of the fandom, there lies those with literal anthropomorphic animal fetishes, including an even smaller subset of erotic cosplayers and other individuals who take their fetishes well beyond the computer screen. Despite the small size of this group and the fact that people with anthropomorphic animal fetishes are not part of the furry fandom per se, with the existence of people with those fetishes being much older and more widespread than the fandom that we know today, they have gathered the most attention in the fandom. The stereotype is often considered by furries themselves to originate with the 1999 MTV film Furries and Plushies, which would later inspire the stereotypical furry in the media we know such as the one in CSI, ER, MTV, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Vanity Fair, Maxim, Something Awful, Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule, and numerous other programs. With this media exposure, the broader public repeats thinking it 'knows' what a furry is - that is, a vaguely comedic pervert in some kind of cartoonish way, despite the fact that even those with anthropomorphic animal fetishes can not fulfill the quota due to the fact that plenty of the sexual acts are deadly since a fursuit can cause heat exhaustion and dehydratation to the one who wears it for a long time unless there are safety measures implemented. This crude 'all the same' fallacy has left many furry fans distrustful of the media, and for several years, the fandom went so far as to ban members of the press from certain conventions to avoid being subjected to a two-minute 'smear job' on the news, although you also have a livejournal entry devoted to showing off the portrayal of furries in media to see how much media access they can give on the other side of the spectrum. In the past few years, media coverage has been increasingly positive (NBC News was granted a unprecedented level of access during Anthrocon 2014, something that probably wouldn't have happened 5 years ago). This isn't necessarily because the media have become more tolerant - many attribute the decrease in negative media attention to the rise of other fandoms making furries look less strange in comparison to some other subcultures. The change in public perception, however, has been slow at best, as evidenced by the news coverage over an attack on Midwest Fur Fest in December, 2014, when chlorine gas was used to injure 19 people. Considering that the negative stigma still remained at large, the news organizations tended to get sidetracked by the oddity of furries instead of concentrating on the attackers, and in correlation with that, some people on the internet decidedly supported the attackers rather than treated the attackers' actions as having crossed the line of what the victims might have actually deserved from a moral standpoint. Likewise, sites like The Mary Sue.com instead treated the attack seriously

Another subsection of the fandom that is often confused with the fandom as a whole would be Otherkin. Those who declare themselves to be one of these believe that they are, in real life, not actually fully human. It may be that they claim to have the soul of an animal, which may or may not be that of a real animal (therians limit themselves to real animals). Some go so far as to disown the human species entirely, and claim they've been born as the wrong species. Of course, even other furries will often mock Otherkin, just to give some context as to where Otherkin lie on the social ladder.

There is a significant stigma to identifying oneself as a furry,note  mainly because on the internet, they are often the butt of many jokes. For this reason, there are many who might clearly fall under the definition of a furry, but wouldn't identify as one. On the other hand, someone might be generalized as a furry simply for liking one or more works with anthropomorphic animal characters in them, which would technically be wrong since the reasons are rarely due to the anthropomorphic nature of the characters themselves. However, what exactly defines a furry is up for debate, and the only people you can be certain of are the ones who identify themselves as such.

Also, meet Dr. Kathy Gerbasi, social psychologist to the furs.

This poem, which was made by an actual furry, is often considered by many furries themselves to be a fair representation of the furry fandom at large.

NOTE: There should be absolutely NO links to NSFW content.

This fandom contains examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: Inevitable; since everyone's fursona isn't part of the same storyline, and there isn't even a real consensus on why furries would come to exist, there certainly won't be a consensus on what their names should sound like. At a furry con, you might see four furs standing right next to each other named Joe, PierogiWolf, Jalloway the Alchemist, and Redpiranhawolfdragonyellowbelliedsapsuckertalontoenailblade Darkreavercrownslayersmashmunchstompdicepureeblendreapersong the Eructative. It's compounded by the fact that most furs that have been in the fandom since the 80s don't have a fursona and go by their mundane names all the time, which really sticks out these days.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Blue markings are particularly popular. Tattoos that are somehow visible on top of the fur are also popular.
  • Animal Stereotypes: Interestingly, the stereotype for a particular species in the furry fandom often will be different from what it traditionally is.
  • Animation Age Ghetto: Inverted. Given the fandom's reputation, a lot of people refuse to believe that there's anything in it that isn't weird-ass fetish porn.
  • Anthropomorphic Shift
  • Artistic License Biology: Often used to point out common anatomical failures (rabbits with paw pads, male kangaroos with pouches) or more "human" traits, like Non-Mammal Mammaries, or humanoid feet (see below). Most people often justify it by saying "It's fiction" or "It's a toon" and pointing out that most anthros wouldn't exist in real life anyways.
    • Some reptiles tend to have smooth hair-less skin instead of scales, often justified by scales being too time-consuming to draw.
    • Plantigrade vs. digitigrade feet is a popular flame topic. While some expect anthropomorphic canines, felines and ungulates to walk on their toes, others point out that those feet wouldn't hold the weight of a human-sized biped or would have problems with balance. Some artists just give everybody humanoid feet.
  • Berserk Button: Just try to suggest that the furry fandom is a beastiality cult. You will never hear the end of it.
    • Try getting a character's species wrong. Even if the person you're talking to is a nice fellow, try not to.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: People who hate the fandom for its sexual side tend to cite this as their reason more often than not. Of course, the vast majority of the fandom prefers anthropomorphism to feral (four-legged, non-anthro) creatures, and generally considers bestiality to be depraved as well. Furries do NOT like it when animals are abused or victimized. In general it is pointed out that only 2%-9% have a sexual orientation other than hetero, homo or bi, so one has to wonder how much people in general heve a different sexual orientation.
  • Butt Monkey: The fandom is often the target of various online communities, which was commented on in this strip of xkcd.
  • Cat Girl: The war-torn border of furrydom and often a very big target for haters, depending on the amount of cat features on the person (or the other way around).
  • Cowboy Bebop at His Computer: Almost every mention/article about furries in the media will suffer from this to some degree, even if the article is written by a furry (since not all furries are in agreement as to what the fandom is about). Making things more difficult is that furries have become very hesitant to appear on the news.
  • Creator Provincialism: Very prominent among furry fandom. Since many creators write about what they know, this is very common to see a fursona with the same nationality and aspects and personalities as its creator. Even weirder is, many of the side characters could have some same aspects as their creators!
  • Darker and Edgier, Hotter and Sexier: The fandom as we know it basically kicked off with a bunch of independent writers and artists and their fans giving the finger to the Animation Age Ghetto. The fact that one of the, if not the very first adult animated film, The Tale Of The Fox, featured furries helps explain why.
  • Day Dream Believer: Otherkin and Therians fall into this category, sometimes even refusing to be called by their "human names".
  • Deconstruction: The fiction I Wish I Was Furry and the The Problems With Cross-Breeding comics.
  • Dead Horse Trope: "All furries are wolves, foxes and cats". There's a lot of furry art featuring other species out there, even the "squicky" ones like spiders, sharks, and snakes.
  • Even Nerds Have Standards: Furries tend to be a punchline for most non-furries, even ones that are indifferent or friendly to them.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: There are guys who admit they're straight and have no interest in human males, but find themselves fascinated with male furries, and even enjoy watching furry yaoi.
  • Everyone Is Bi: A common conception. In fact, there is a saying: "By and large, most furries are bi, and large." A number of surveys have been done and tend to indicate that anywhere from 35 to 54% of the fandom are bi.
    • Needs More Gay theorized that, while not necessarily everyone who's furry is automatically Gay or bisexual, LGBT people might see the fandom as haven for "otherness."
    Rantasmo: "I imagine the mindset is something like 'Y'know, I'm already denigrated and oppressed because of who I love, I may as well also wear a wolf suit'."
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: Present in some fiction and roleplaying. More common in some parts of the fandom than others.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: The SPARKLEDOGS! It is impossible to tell just how seriously they take those things.
  • Exotic Equipment: Present in some erotic and/or particularly detailed art. Usually justified in that the characters are not humans.
  • Fandom Rivalry: Putting furries and bronies in the same room is a bad idea, despite (sometimes because) of the overlap between the two fandoms. Many furries see bronies as being "in the closet" (as claimed by the flamewar-inducing FurAffinity banner My Little Furry: Denial Is Magic), or get angry at furry image sites being flooded with pony pictures. Meanwhile, bronies tend to subscribe to the furry stereotypesnote  and want to disassociate their own fandom with them.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Some roleplays tend to be like this.
  • Freaky Is Cool: Obviously quite common in the fandom.
  • Funny Animals and Civilized Animals: They walk on two legs and often wear clothes, but unlike Petting Zoo People, they keep the basic shape and proportions of their respective species.
  • Fun Size: The aforementioned Funny Animals, when depicted alongside humans or Petting Zoo People, are usually portrayed as being half their height at most, even if they're based on a species that's rather large in real life.
  • Furries Are Easier to Draw: Or maybe just more fun. Many an artist has straight-up admitted one or the other.
  • Furry Comic: Well, duh.
  • Furry Confusion: Often mocked. Some people run with this, their fursona is "feral" (as opposed to centauroid or anthropomorph), a normal-looking animal, just able to talk, and sometimes sports a hairstyle.
  • Gateway Series: The fandom has a number of gateway shows/books. A list on the linked page has a good start.
  • Guy-on-Guy Is Hot: In the fandom, furry yaoi is much more popular than furry yuri.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Present in almost every single furry fiction that has humans as a major race. There are aversions where the one human character was a visitor from another dimension or the last of his species.
  • Humans Are Ugly: Stated by a huge number of furs with varying degrees of seriousness which other furs inevitably fail to notice. By definition, though, you have to at least think there's some appeal to the idea of not being completely human.
    • The fandom has made some attempts to move away from this mindset, going so far as to include "Primate: Human" on a list of browsable species categories on FurAffinity.
  • Hypocritical Fandom: Most trolling done to the Furry Fandom is done by other furries. Also, as this is the Internet, perfectly nice people are turned into perpetually angry sociopaths because they don't suffer consequences.
  • I Am Not Shazam: If you get into technical aspects, "furries" refer to characters with fur (e.g., mammals). For reptilian characters, those are "scalies", as for the birds, "avians". The list goes on. However, a commonly accepted blanket term for a member of the fandom is "furry".
  • Image Boards: Fchan, Ychan, "The Goddamned Furry Board", Paws and many more not listed here. Some of these boards, not being monitored closely, host truly frightening and squicky art, so Google at your own risk.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Most furry artists depict "themselves" as furry characters, known as "fursonas", either due to the awkwardness of inserting human characters into a furry universe or just because they want to. Some are deliberately drawn to strongly resemble their creators.
  • Internet Backlash: Openly identifying as a furry is loaded. Although acceptance seems to be (very slowly) spreading, and even Something Awful tolerates open furries if they're civil, i.e. not an Attention Whore or complete nutcase, those are banned once they stop being entertaining. However, a good deal of the more civil sites seem to accept or ignore furries these days. It seems it's fairly safe to be a furry nowadays so long as you don't walk into the lion's den.
    • In other words, think of the internet as a workplace. Unless you're on a website devoted to that sort of thing, people don't want to hear about your fetishes or unconventional lifestyle.
  • Interspecies Romance: Very common due to the wide variety of species used as "fursonas" or in furry media.
  • Male-to-Female Universal Adaptor: Sometimes played straight in porn with animals that should work differently. Yes, this can and does proceed to its [il]logical conclusions, in the form of Interspecies Romances and Mix-and-Match Critters. It seems that "species" of furries are more like human racial groups than actual biological species. This leads to the question of why there even are still distinct species in this fictitious 'verse.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Some furries just can't make up their damn minds. Convoluted family trees and Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action are usually used as a Hand Wave.
  • Money, Dear Boy: Even if you don't really identify with the fandom, there's a pretty good amount of money to be made if you're a remotely talented artist willing to draw other people's fursonas. The more you're willing and able to contribute to draw naughty stuff, the more money to be made.
  • Most Writers Are Human: Probably how the whole Furry Fandom got created was because of this fact.
  • Mr. Fanservice and Ms. Fanservice: A large number of characters, including numerous artists' own fursonas. Sometimes invoked deliberately for titillation, sometimes just a consequence of the freedom to visualize yourself in whatever form you like (so why not be good-looking?)
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: Usually played to the ground, often a bit of a Base Breaker given how people point out that anatomically, it would be especially painful on avians (and by extension, gryphons) considering what mammaries are actually for.
  • No True Scotsman: As mentioned before, nobody can agree on what the furry fandom actually is, and this has inevitably led to plenty of furs accusing one another of sullying whatever it is they believe it stands for.
  • Older Than They Think: The modern form of the fandom as we know it today was first established in the early 80s, but there were people who could easily be called "furry" in the 60s and perhaps even in 12th-13th century. However, if you consider the mere liking of something not human "furry", then you can go as far back as ancient times. The animal-headed Egyptians gods are the usual reference.
  • Our Centaurs Are Different: Often generalized as "taurs" to differentiate between the traditional exclusively-equine version. Usually have the lower body of a normal animal and the upper body of a human or more conventional furry.note  An example: "Equitaurs" have the lower body of a non-anthro horse, and the upper body of an anthro horse, differentiating them from the half-human Centaurs.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Dragons are often associated with inflated egos and/or uncreativity. Not everyone falls in that category, but don't be surprised that even within its own little fandom there's severe conflict.
  • Our Souls Are Different: Some furries will claim this.
  • Pantomime Animal: An actor playing an animal character in live-action media.
  • Petting Zoo People: The Trope Codifier. It has become the de facto standard form for characters created by the fandom's artists.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Many animals have sexual traits, anatomy, and abilities that humans don't have. Some furries like to make anthropomorphic animals have sex. You do the math. Or don't.
  • Reclusive Artist: There are a few artists in the fandom who're sometimes notoriously hard to get a hold of because of all the drama that they've gotten into. These particular artists may be hesitant to interact with others.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Assumed for some species (Aquatics, Avians, Dragons, etc), depending on where on the Sliding Scale of Realistic Versus Fantastic a particular character or world is.
  • Rule of Cute
  • Rule of Personification Conservation: Generally, a character or a cast of characters should only be animals if the plot requires it to (unless the author happens to be a furry, of course).
  • Rule 34: Although the fandom has shifted heavily away from being an actual fandom of existing works and towards being a community of creators who are also fans of each other, this is still plenty common.
  • Schmuck Bait: How do I tell my parents I'm furry? note 
  • Seldom Seen Species: People are known to pick these as their fursonas just to dodge the many Animal Stereotypes, or to stand out in a sea of foxes/wolves/etc.
  • Serious Business: Reposting someone's art without crediting the artist. Outright stealing is worse.
  • Silent Majority: It's rather telling that the less salacious media articles come from writers who went undercover in accordance with conventions' anti-press policies.
  • Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism: Most furries are Petting Zoo People, simply augmenting a normal human frame with fur, ears, paws, muzzle, and other animal characteristics. Other roleplayers are "non-anthro", or simply animals with human personalities.
  • Snake People: Nagas are surprisingly popular, though they're most popular in the deeper end of the fandom.
  • Special Snowflake Syndrome: Once the fandom took off, it seems like everyone's fursona has to stand out in some way—wings, tentacles, more wings, obscure species, cross-breeds, bright colours, blue jay-patterned angel wings, etc. Lately, having your character be a mundane, common species is what stands out.
  • Species Surname: Many furries will use a screen name that includes the species of their fursona, like "JohnnyCat" or "MartyMouse" or the like.
  • Stock Dinosaurs: Mostly because they're the most well-known ones. You'll see some lesser known ones every now and then but most commonly people pick Raptors because they're naturally bipedal.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: For every furry acting outrageously and/or inappropriately, you can be sure that there are perhaps a dozen that Face Palm (Face Paw?) to the extent that a number of furries keep their 'furriness' a complete secret, for fear of comparison. What one furry does affects all the others. See Vocal Minority below.
  • Stripperiffic: Frequently, though far from universally. Sometimes justified though that some designs wouldn't allow for some clothing anyway. And after all, most furries would have to shave their bodies to actually show "skin". But hey, there's a fetish for that too.
  • Tabletop Games: Ironclaw, Furry Pirates, Lands Of Luste, and Albedo. Not to mention that houseruled furry races are fairly common in Dungeons & Dragons.
  • Talking Animals, Speech Impaired Animals, Partially Civilized Animals, and Nearly Normal Animals: They are called "ferals" or "quads" by the fandom.
  • Transformation Comic: You see some that get rather adult; but there are plenty of G-rated ones. You just never hear about them.
  • Troll: To levels WAY past extreme. The trolling of the furry fandom on common web-sites has gone beyond Acceptable Targets into Memetic Mutation. Look at videos in YouTube featuring furries in any way, positive or not—the amount of trolling you get is astounding. Some of them are rather tame (by trolling standards), some are rather extreme. In some cases, anyone simply having a non adult rated furry avatar on a forum or any other site will bound to get trolled just for the furry avatar alone.
  • Uncanny Valley: This can happen to some people, although a lot of the more "toony" or stylized art doesn't tend to be that Uncanny. Realistic Art can be rather uncanny, but the most Uncanny art are photomorphs, especially because most people don't seem to realize that you can't just slap random animal features on humans to make 'em look like a furry and hope it looks decent.
  • Unusual Euphemism: All over the place, in both the traditional "awkward topics" sense and in more innocent things. Hands will be referred to as paws, feet will be footpaws, spouses will be mates, and some furries even prefer sillier euphemisms like "headfur" for hair. Usually done in a tongue-in-cheek manner.
  • Values Dissonance: The perception of the furry fandom worldwide is different between countries:
    • While in the English speaking countries and a few others people with a central interest in anthropomorphic animals easily get labeled with the term "furry" that would hardly be a reason to consider you a "furry" in places such as Japan, Latin America, the BENELUX and France. This is mainly due to the fact that the subculture shares way too much resemblance to other and older subcultures there (such as scouts in youth movements who in general have an anthropomorphic character named after them) and that it would take a lot of work to differentiate them from actual "furries". The fact that the countries do have lots of animal motives does help. note 
    • While media outlets about the fandom are rare in foreign countries they do have a tendency to differ from the US line of thinking, to the point that some would give them positive attributes. An instance of this was a Dutch show on TMF that ran from 2007-2008 called Valerio Duikt Onder, which portrayed furries positively. Something the fandom in that place was very thankful for.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: The reason why there's so many foxes, wolves and cats in the first place. They're cute! It's also why birds, insects, spiders, Fish People, and whole lot of reptiles are rare in the first place.
  • Why Fandom Can't Have Nice Things: Usually cited word for word whenever the Vocal Minority speaks up.
    • Some artists have actually left the fandom because their work started popping up on sites without their permission. There were several cases of people even selling prints of artists' work without their consent.
      • Some artists also leave the fandom because of the attitude of other furs, from mass idiocy to crass rudeness as reasons, dropping out of public and no longer showing up anywhere furry related. They will still keep furry friends, they just won't interact with the larger part of the fandom anymore. Other reasons could include not wanting to be associated with the fandom, for fear of being ridiculed or ostracized by people outside the fandom. The validity of this reasoning varies from situation to situation.
    • There's also quite a few artists (especially in the realm of webcomics) that clearly do furry work but deny it and and refer to themselves and simply cartoonists and fantasy artists to avoid being associated with the fandom.
  • The Wiki Rule: WikiFur is a main resource for information about furry cons and gatherings, although it usually trails off into stubs and vanity pages about anything else. Still, it's one of the few sites to start out hosted on Wikia and gain enough supportnote  to get its own server.
  • You Sexy Beast: Furries have done this with anthropomorphic wolves and Werewolves, usually ones on the more sane-when-transformed side of Our Werewolves Are Different.
  • Yiff: The Trope Namer. Basically a furry-specific word that refers to sex, either as a verb ("Yiffing") or as an adjective ("yiffy").

All done! Now don't you just have a warm, fuzzy feeling?

Alternative Title(s):

Hollywood Furry, Furry, Furries