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Amicable Ants

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Friendly formicids? Ant go wrong with that!

Ants, at least when they are anthropomorphic, tend to be depicted as some of the friendlier bugs. This is likely because the way ant colonies are organized in real life evokes many parallels to human society, with division of labor between workers, different castes that each possess their own duties, and nests designed in a way that could be compared to human cities. Ants will even form symbiotic relationships with other bugs like aphids that resemble the way humans care for livestock. Their devotion to communal life may also be seen as a noble trait that leads to ants being portrayed as sympathetic Working Class Heroes.

Other traits that may make ants relatable to humans include their intelligence — ants are capable of using scent trails, landmarks, and the position of the sun to find their way back to the nest from long distances even by human standards — and their strength, a trait often associated with heroic characters. Since they usually lack wings they aren't considered as much of a nuisance either.

This can also include fictional species based on ants and characters with ants as an Animal Motif.

Subtrope of Animal Stereotypes. Compare Virtuous Bees, another social arthropod that is often depicted as friendly for many of the same reasons, and Pretty Butterflies, an insect that may have some different personality traits, but is still depicted as benevolent. Termites and wasps are often seen as the Unpleasant Animal Counterpart to ants if the work features both. Contrast Ant Assault for a less positive depiction of ants (and one that is far more likely when they are depicted as non-anthropomorphic). Notably, whether ants are portrayed as friendly or not, it's not unlikely to see them depicted as knowing how to put up a good fight when the situation calls for it.


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  • In a skit of a commercial campaign for De Lijn, a group of ants is carrying food for the colony when their leader notices that an aardvark is sucking the last in line. He calls their companions and they join their friend in danger to form a ball that covers the aardvark's nose, making it faint in suffocation.

    Comic Books 

    Fairy Tales 
  • In the Grimm's fairy tale The Queen Bee, Simpleton, the youngest of three brothers, protects an anthill from being destroyed by his elder brothers. Later, the three brothers find a castle with a little gray man inside, who tells them they must fulfill three tasks. The first one is to find the missing pearls from a necklace, which are spread in the forest. The ants from the anthill help Simpleton in fulfilling the task.
  • In Italian literary fairy tale Lo Turzo D'Oro ("The Golden Root") - a variant of Cupid And Psyche - , after she loses her husband, heroine Parmetella meets her in-laws: a family of ogresses and their ogress mother. The ogress mother submits Parmetella to a series of tasks: the first, to sort a heap of mixed grains. Her husband, Tuone-e-Lampe (Thunder-And-Lightning) summons a colony of ants to help her.
  • In an Indonesian (Tomtenboan) tale, a human princess marries a celestial prince and goes with him to his celestial realm. Once there, his mother, the queen, orders the princess to gather mustard seeds, which she does with the help of ants under her husband's command.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Ant Bully: Hova is a motherly, kind female ant that takes upon herself the responsibility of teaching Lucas the ant's way. There's also the Queen, that gave him a chance of redeeming himself and gives him an ant name after Lucas helps save the colony from being poisoned by Stan Beals. Zigzagged with the other ants, who had good reasons to distrust Lucas because he mistreated them when he was at his normal size, but become friendlier to him after he becomes a better person.
  • Z from Antz, who saves the whole colony from a treacherous ant soldier who plans to overthrow the queen and wipe out the worker ants.
  • In A Bug's Life, the ants are depicted as hard-working and loyal, collecting food for both themselves and the grasshoppers who order them about. One of them, Flik, is an inventor who tries to speed up the process but inadvertently kick-starts the film's plot when his invention accidentally causes the colony's food supply to sink into the river. As punishment for getting them in trouble with the grasshoppers, Flik is sent to find warrior bugs to defend them from the grasshoppers, with the Queen and Princess Atta hoping that Flik will never come back. Flik does come back with the Circus Bugs, having mistaken them for warrior bugs, and together, they, with the help of the rest of the colony, work together to build a trojan bird to scare the grasshoppers away.
  • Gallavants is about a peaceful, benevolent colony of ants called Gallavants. The Gallavants are very hard-working. Each one has a specific job, and they place great importance on knowing one's place in the colony. The protagonist Shando is lazy and wants to become a musician without having to do any lessons. He ends up going on an adventure and earning his dream job.
  • Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants: Zigzagged. The black ants are the first ones to treat the ladybug with kindness after he gets lost from his family. On the other turn, the red ants are bad guys who want to kill them to get the sugar.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In the kids book An Ant Sat on the Railroad Track, the ant is portrayed as an innocent character in need of rescue, and when Jack (a human) saves him from being hit by a train, they eat lunch together.
  • In the Japanese medieval tale of Amewakahiko no zoshi, Amewakahiko is a dragon king who comes to Earth in serpent form and marries a human maiden. When the maiden betrays his trust, he departs to his celestial realm and she goes after him. Once there, she meets her father-in-law, an Oni, who forces her on impossible tasks, one of which is to carry 1,000 koku of rice from one granary to another. With the help of her husband's magical sleeve, she summons countless ants to fulfill the task for her.
  • In Barankin, Be a Man! by Valery Medvedev, the main characters' Character Development from laziness to industriousness culminates when they turn themselves into black ants (after spending a short while as sparrows and then as butterflies). Not only do they take part in the ants' work, but they bravely defend the anthill from a red ant invasion.
  • Chrysalis (RinoZ): Anthony is reincarnated as an ant monster, and once he finds his way back to the Colony, he quickly decides that they're a better family than humans ever were; wholeheartedly supportive and caring and trusting. As the ants expand throughout the Dungeon and come into contact with a variety of other species, it becomes clear that despite being monsters, they're better behaved than most of the surface races, with no politics nor selfishness, and Anthony can never quite comprehend why the whole world isn't thrilled to see them. The "Travelling Tolly" snippets give a glimpse of approximately ten years in the future, with a highly integrated society of humans and ants.
  • The Grasshopper and the Ants: Zig-zagged. The ants are portrayed as virtuous and diligent because they work hard to prepare their colony for the winter, in contrast to the lazy grasshopper who mocks them for working all the time. However, when the Grasshopper begs them for shelter in the winter, the ants turn him away, leaving him to die. It is understandable why they would refuse to help the one who showed no kindness to them, but it is still rather cold and uncaring on their part. Because of this, some versions use an alternate ending where the ants do let the grasshopper in, saving his life and changing his heart.
  • In How the Little Ant Rushed Home by Vitaly Bianki, the little ant is a friendly and curious kid, and his fellow ants are likewise a good family for him: their refusal to let anyone inside the anthill after sunset is clearly shown to be a safety measure rather than jerkassery.
  • In Menotti Del Picchia's book In The Ants Land, two boys, João Peralta (Naughty Jack) and Pé de Moleque (Peanut Brittle), sneak into the hut of an old, Afro-Brazilian sorcerer. Out of curiosity, they drink a magic potion that makes them shrink (but they keep their clothes), but they can't turn back to normal because now its antidote is out of reach. They are helped by some friendly animals, including two ants that become very grateful to Pé de Moleque after he saves one of them from a bird, with his slingshot. Out of gratitude, the colony helps them not only to get the antidote but also to find a treasure that'll keep João Peralta's father from being evicted.
  • In The Mutant, a short story by Kir Bulychev, the main character is a black ant who has become sapient due to a mysterious mutation. He is friendly and kind, longing for ants and people to live in peace should more mutations like his own ever occur.
  • In The Wonderful Adventures of Karik and Valya by Yan Larri, Karik and Valya view the black ants sympathetically as they watch them at work, and rush to defend them from a red ants' attack. However, when Karik says that once he gets back to his normal height, he'll destroy any red ants he encounters, Professor Yenotov is quick to stop such Protagonist-Centered Morality ideas, pointing out that black and red ants alike are incredibly useful to the biosphere.

  • The popular children's song "The Ants Go Marching" by Robert D. Singleton is about a colony of ants marching somewhere. There is a little ant that always stops to do something else, like sucking his thumb or tying his shoe. The ants always have to go down to the ground to get out of the rain. Overall, the song presents ants as cute and sympathetic.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • The Book of Proverbs in The Bible contains the quote "Lazybones, go to the ant; study its ways and learn." — effectively imploring one to emulate ants in their industriousness.
  • In the Graeco-Roman myth of Cupid And Psyche, after she loses her husband and goes to Venus for penance, as her first task, Venus forces the girl to separate a heap of mixed grains and cereals. A colony of ants take pity on her and help her separate the grains.

    Video Games 
  • Bug Fables: While all ants in the game are NPCs, nearly all of them are friendly with Team Snakemouth, with the only real exceptions being the Optional Boss Monsieur Scarlet and the Zombiants in Snakemouth Den. The Ant Kingdom serves as both the game's First Town and Hub Level, and the ant queen, Elizant, is the Big Good who commandeers the explorers' quest to find the Everlasting Sapling and save Bugaria. Other friendly ants include Gen and Eri, a pair of sisters who assist the main characters on some of their missions, and Amber, the NPC who provides the game's item storage service.
  • Cuphead: Played with. The Moonshine Mob in The Delicious Last Course is a group of creepy crawlies (plus an anteater) who dress like gangsters from The Roaring '20s. They are opposed by a team of police officer ants who take shots at them throughout the fight. The Moonshine Mob acts very villainous, while the police ants seem more noble. The problem is that the ants' attacks can also hurt the player, so you have to watch out for them in addition to fighting the mob.
  • King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder!: Early in his journey, Graham has to save a bunch of ants from being harassed by a dog. The ant king thanks Graham and offers their services, in which they march to help him not long later.
  • Mother 3: An unnamed ant NPC in Osohe Castle gives the player helpful advice about the game's rhythm battle mechanics.
  • Super Mario 3D World: Downplayed. While the Ant Troopers are mooks who deal Collision Damage like all other enemies, they are shown to have warm smiles and don't go out of their way to hurt the player, instead moving in predictable patterns as a unit.
  • Webbed: The ants seen in the game, in addition to being technologically advanced enough to build machinery such as fuel pumps and furnaces, are friendly towards the spider protagonist and promise to help her save her boyfriend in exchange for help with fixing some of their machines.

     Web Animation 
  • In the heartwarming short Hide, a butterfly is helped by her friends to make new wings. Among them, there are three very amicable ants.

    Web Comics 
  • Huckleberry has the Banana Ant, a good-natured Talking Animal who follows the protagonist around, gives him advice, and provides exposition.
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! has Stretch Web-Ant, an anthropomorphic ant from a lost civilization who has Rubber Man powers, can fly, and spin webs, who spends his time fighting alien invaders. He knows he's completely ridiculous and enjoys every minute of it, coming across as a Fun Personified type.

    Western Animation 
  • The Ant and the Aardvark: Charlie Ant is the hero, constantly evading the Aardvark's attempts to eat him. In the original cartoons, he has the demeanor of a snarky but laid-back Cool Old Guy. In Pink Panther and Pals, he's Younger and Hipper, becoming more of a party animal who gets along great with most of the other jungle denizens.
  • The Atom Ant Show: Atom is an ant superhero who vigilantly protects the world from monsters and madmen.
  • One episode of Tales From The Cryptkeeper titled "Nature" tells the story of two brothers named Rick and Teddy who are turned really small while on a picnic with their family. One scene has them assisted by a colony of ants which they had tormented earlier in the episode.
  • Tom and Jerry Tales: In "Little Big Mouse", Tom gives a cube of ice to a little ant who is nearly dying with the heat. Minutes later, Jerry takes advantage of the nap Tom and his owner are taking in front of the open fridge to snatch all the food for a picnic outside, causing Tom to be unfairly kicked out of the house. The little ant reappears to ask for some of the food Jerry has stolen, but he refuses to share. She proceeds on stealing the food from under Jerry's nose until the humiliated mouse is forced to toss the towel. Then she shares it with Tom.
  • WordWorld: Ant is one of the many Word Friends of the titular setting. He is best buddies with Pig and with other insect Word Friends like Bee, Fly, and Bug, and is always willing to help out the other Word Friends in a pinch.