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Analysis / Furry Denial

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General Examples of This Trope:

Furry Denial is usually caused by an animal being unaware of its respective species. Here are a list of common furry denials.

  • A nonhuman character being referred to as a human or man.
  • A nonhuman character referring to him or herself as a human or man (for example, saying, "I'm only human.")
  • An animal character denies that he or she is an animal.
  • A nonhuman character replying, "Where?" or "character's species where?" after another character spots them and calls them by their species. This example is very often, but not always, an example of Furry Denial.
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  • A nonhuman character forgets what species they are and performs actions that would be more appropriate for a human to do.
  • A nonhuman character performs actions that would be more appropriate for a human to do with no question, comment, or lampshade whatsoever.
  • A nonhuman, especially animal, character reacts to his/her nudity or partial nudity in the same way a human would.

Human Surrogate Animal Character:

A human surrogate animal character is a Funny Animal, or even Civilized Animal character that is basically a human character whose species is treated as simply cosmetic. They hardly drop a single Furry Reminder, are nearly always unaware that they are animals or their respective species, and never act like the species they are. Because they are treated as basically human, they are especially prone to dropping a Furry Denial. They usually perform actions that would be more appropriate for a human than their own species to do with no question, comment, or lampshade whatsoever. Their stories would be exactly the same if both of these characters were actually human. As far as the setting and creator is concerned they're "human" no matter what species they are.


This phenomenon is called either "human surrogate animal character", "purely aesthetic species", "humans represented by animals", "purely aesthetic animal form", "human in animal costume syndrome", "superfluous animal form syndrome" or "zipperback stories".

This phenomenon is more forgivable or at least less jarring in Beast Men than in Funny Animals or Civilized Animals as the former are more humans with animal traits (zoomorphism) than animals with human traits (anthropomorphism). Granted, the viewer is going to expect them to act more like humans in animal costumes as well. The latter two however are supposed to be like animals doing things that animals would not usually do, while still having at least a few of the basic characteristics of their real-world counterpart. They're basically normal animals (body-shapewise), usually with opposable thumbs and often the ability to speak as well as to walk on their hind legs.


Note that not every Civilized Animal, Funny Animal, or even Beast Man falls into this trope.

The difference between the Furry Lens and the purely aesthetic species is that although both behave and are treated the same way as human characters, the former’s species visual depiction is metaphorical whereas that of the latter is literal, albeit purely aesthetic.

Often leads to Furry Denial and Furry Confusion. See also and contrast Rule of Personification Conservation. Not to be confused with Informed Species.

Examples of Human Surrogate Animal Characters:


  • In Maus, anthropomorphic mice, cats, dogs, pigs, frogs, reindeer, fish, and Gypsy moths represent various different ethnic and religious groups and nationalities, but they act nothing like the species they are. Justified as the various species' shape is metaphorical (at one point, characters in disguise as another nationality wear cheap masks of that animal to represent it).


  • The Berenstain Bears fit this to a T. The characters' last names may be bear-related words and puns, but they don't really behave like bears.
  • Gaspard and Lisa and their family members don't behave even slightly like dogs and they interact with other dogs the way humans interact with dogs.

Live-Action TV

  • In Tomorrows Pioneers, co-hosts, althought dressed as funny animals, don't show any animal traits, are human-sized, refer to themselves as humans, and even have fully human parents.

New Media



  • The cast of Ruby Quest could have been swapped out for humans and it would have had absolutely zero impact on the story. However, Weaver choose to have anthropomorphic animals like rabbits and foxes because they're easier to distinguish in his art style.

Western Animation

  • Various "anthro" Classic Disney Shorts characters including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pete, Goofy, Clarabelle Cow, Horace Horsecollar, and even Donald Duck, are either "purely aesthetic species" or dangerously close to falling into the "purely aesthetic species" trope.
    • Goofy is the worst offender; in all his appearances (save for his earliest appearances as Dippy Dawg) is basically treated as a human character, with his species, a dog, being treated as purely aesthetic. He almost never drops a Furry Reminder and not only is he never treated as a dog, he's nearly always referred to as a man (unlike the mice and ducks who were at least referred to by their species). This is especially pronounced in his shorts as George G. Geef, Goof Troop, and A Goofy Movie and its sequel.
      • Same applies to Goofy's son, Max, and virtually any Dogface for that matter.
    • Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Mortimer Mouse, and other giant mice in their universe, while not as bad as Goofy and his kin, are very close to falling into the "purely aesthetic species" trope. Unlike Goofy, Max, and other Dogfaces, they (Mickey at least) get a few Furry Reminders, however very few there may be. The Furry Reminders have increased in frequency slightly since House of Mouse.
    • Pete was pretty much a "purely aesthetic species" (even when he was a bear in the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons and when he was a cat with tail in the earliest Mickey Mouse cartoons) until House of Mouse. Since then, he's received a few Furry Reminders.
    • Similar to the Pete example above, Clarabelle Cow has only received a few Furry Reminders since House of Mouse. From the mid thirties to before House of Mouse, she was just as bad an example of "purely aesthetic species" as Pete was.
    • Donald, Huey, Dewey, and Louie have the distinction of having a voice spoken as a duck's quack and wearing a shirt without pants as their normal attire, but they and other ducks in the Classic Disney Shorts, the Disney Ducks Comic Universe, DuckTales (1987), Darkwing Duck, Quack Pack, and other related universes live in a human environment, never fly (save for Donald in The Three Caballeros), always live in a suburban, urban, rural household environment, and even swim in the same way that a human does.
      • The only time Donald ever swims like a duck is when he is riding in a canoe with his feet sticking out of the bottom in one cartoon. Donald also is sometimes shown to attempt to fly, almost always without success.
  • Some Hanna-Barbera animal characters, like Huckleberry Hound, Secret Squirrel and Morocco Mole, Quick Draw McGraw and Baba Looey, Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy, and Snooper and Blabber, are fall into this trope (though the latter is one of the few cat & mouse cartoon duos who actually work together as a mutually-cooperative team rather than the usual chase-each-other-violently-as-natural-enemies pair).
    • Huckleberry Hound. Sure he's a dog, but he really didn't do anything doglike. In fact there were several shorts where he was pitted against a non anthropomorphic dog—such as a mailman, or a fireman trying to rescue a cat from a tree—from a dog. He always reacted towards the dog in a humanlike manner so the dog always treated him like a human.
    • Secret Squirrel and Morocco Mole were basically a secret agent and his sidekick in animal suits. None of them acted like the animals they were. The main reason they were drawn as animals in the first place was the idea that having the heroes be animals would be funnier.
  • Like Secret Squirrel and Morocco Mole, Danger Mouse and Penfold never acted like the animals they were. The main reason they were drawn as animals in the first place was the idea that having the heroes be animals would be funnier.
  • Most Looney Tunes animals avoid this trope, but Porky can sometimes fall afoul of this trope.
    • While he is never seen wallowing in mud or rooting around in the dirt for truffles, there are references in his earlier cartoons to overeating.
      • By about 1945 however, Porky could've been human. In fact, in some cartoons, he's directly treated as if he were human. For example, in Dog Collared, he's honoring Be Kind To Animals Week, clearly forgetting that he himself is technically an animal!
      • In The Looney Tunes Show, however, Porky gets some Furry Reminders, especially in relation to pork, sausage, and pepperoni.
  • The anthropomorphic animal characters in Arthur follow this trope to a T.
  • The Tex Avery wolf, Wolfie doesn't really behave anything like a real wolf aside from attempting to catch lamb in one Droopy cartoon. There were a few cartoons that alluded to his wolfiness, like the Droopy cartoon homage to The Three Little Pigs, but for the most part, he is either the womanizer of The '40s cartoons or the Southerner of The '50s cartoons.
  • Many of the supporting cast of The Amazing World of Gumball have their non-human nature represented in some aspect of their behavior—Idaho the potato absorbs nutrients from soil instead of eating food, Carrie the ghost can't eat unless she's possessing a solid body, Alan the balloon is in constant danger of being popped, etc. For the Watterson family, any reference to them being cats or rabbits is limited to very scarce Furry Reminders as one-off jokes, and the show's creator has stated he prefers to think of the title character as a human. Darwin, a goldfish who used to be their pet, is somewhat farther away from this trope, as he's frequently called a fish, sleeps in a fish bowl, and sometimes eats fish food.
  • The Backyardigans are all this trope. Granted Uniqua's a special case, but the rest are human-sized, talk like humans, live in human society, walk on two legs, and never, ever drop a Furry Reminder.
  • Mordecai and Rigby from Regular Show. Mordecai is functionally completely human rather than a blue jay; the show's creator even described him as "a dude in a bird's body". Rigby follows this to a slightly less degree: he sometimes walks on four legs and him being a raccoon is sometimes relevant, but most of the time it only matters because it makes him much smaller than a human.