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Amplified Animal Aptitude

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Ordinary animals in fiction have a significantly increased intelligence, and often physical ability as well. Not necessarily the Talking Animals. Not the Civilized Animals and Funny Animals. Just the wild and domestic animals encountered in stories where humans are the main characters. Such animals can frequently clearly understand everything humans say, understand human emotions, read, figure out how to solve problems on their own, and so forth. Often they can use tools with great dexterity as well, using paws or mouths. This is also true for cases in which the animals can talk to each other (so the audience can hear them) but are common animals in the eyes of any humans in the film.

Beyond that, they will, if they belong to a human, also circumvent their natural instincts in order to aid or protect their humans.

This trope is often associated with Nearly Normal Animal characters; in fact, how “nearly normal” an animal is can be measured by how much “amplified aptitude” it has. See also Animal Talk, Friend to All Living Things, Timmy in a Well, Action Pet, and Most Writers Are Human. See Uplifted Animal, for when it's deliberately done in-universe. Not to be confused with Mysterious Animal Senses. Not to be confused with Tropey the Wonder Dog, which is about metaphorical dogs.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Cowboy Bebop: One could think Bebop's crew's dog Ein is an example, but he really is an Uplifted Animal. However, this trope is played straight in the episode "Mushroom Samba" (Trope Namer of Mushroom Samba) with a cow whom Ein thanks (getting a "you're welcome" in return).
  • The Gorilla from Cromartie High School shows questionable signs of intelligence. It is implied that he can use a computer and he is able to make his own sushi. The students at Cromartie even go as far as to say that the Gorilla is smarter than them.
  • The original Dirty Pair series had "Algernon", a mouse with enhanced intelligence and the ability to command other mice (a la Krosp from Girl Genius), developed as a security system. Algernon went rogue and took over the heroines' headquarters building before he was stopped by the Pair.
  • While most of the characters' pets in Hetalia: Axis Powers can't speak (Iceland's pet puffin is an exception), they are clearly capable of thinking and have the ability to understand what people are saying.
  • An established rule in the universe of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is that gaining a Stand grants intelligence and sapience to the animal that gains it. This has applied to an orangutan, a Boston terrier, a hawk, a rat (actually two of them), a flower with a cat's mind, and a colony of zooplankton.
  • Osamu Tezuka runs on this trope: Kimba the White Lion is a prime example, though many of his works, like Phoenix and Black Jack, feature extraordinarily intelligent animals whose sapience is never explained or questioned. One Black Jack story revolves around a bird who collects money to pay a boy's medical bills. No, really. But it's not smart enough to realize when the debt's been completely paid off.
  • In Mobile Fighter G Gundam, Fuunsaiki (Master Asia's horse) can pilot a Mobile Fighter, put on a Mobile Trace System, and operate an outboard motor.
  • Any and all summoned animals in Naruto have this, from Kakashi's mostly-normal talking dogs to Jiraiya's extemely powerful and ancient toads. Partner animals, like Akamaru, Tonton, and Kuromaru, are a bit less so, but still impressive. Kakashi's pug Pakkun is noted as being exceptional even for ninja animals, being able to speak Kakashi's name when he was four months old. Outside of the toads and Akamaru, he gets the most screentime too.
  • Despite the difficulty they have learning to say more than their own species name, most Pokemon in the anime appear to understand human speech. Even a Pokemon that hasn't even been caught yet can recognize when one of their attacks are called. Team Rocket's Meowth gained the ability to talk but lost the ability to learn the signature move Pay Day. This may not sound bad, but Pay Day literally makes money. It's mentioned that he actually lost the ability to learn any new move ("I used up all my smarts learning to talk."), and doing so before he learned Pay Day was just an unfortunate lack of good timing.
  • Stratos 4 has Alice, an old cat who is the pet of Rin and Ran Mikuriya. Alice, who is also nicknamed "Admiral," definitely shows a comprehension of what's going on (especially as shown in her occasional captioned cat-noises), including watching the news, displaying emotion rather clearly, and trying to smuggle herself or stow away on a plane in order to fly to the skies herself (though it's a Running Gag that she keeps on being found and removed from said planes). She even has an encounter with several other cats that display a similar level of intelligent thought, including a kitten whom she adopts. This is parodied in the short "Stratos 4.1".

    Comic Books 
  • Astro City: One issue revolves entirely around a cat with superpowers, much to her owners' nigh-total obliviousness. One of them is convinced she's smarter than she looks, the other isn't.
  • Hero Cats Of Stellar City: The protagonists are intelligent even by human standards and possess complex skills (Rocket is a tech wiz, Cassie is literate to the point of understanding the teachings of The Art of War, and Belle has the gift of telepathy, among others), and are dedicated to protecting the city against any threats. Note that there is so far no indication of them being 'uplifted' in any way, and very few humans suspect them of being anything other than normal cats.
  • Superman:
    • "The Super Dog from Krypton": When Superboy runs into Krypto for the first time, Clark notes that mysterious dog seems strangely intelligent for a dog, being able to understand everything humans say and do.
    • "Supergirl's Super Pet": Even before gaining powers, Supergirl's cat Streaky is able to have complex and even introspective thoughts.
    • Also true for the Dog Stars, who are not only different dog breeds, but from different planets. Translation Convention is at play for some of that, but they do pilot their own spacecraft.
  • Dr. Arthur Nagan, a supervillain from Marvel Comics, is supposed to have been abducted by a tribe of gorillas who stitched his head onto a gorilla's body. Considering that Dr. Nagan is still ambulatory, this may be the ultimate example of this trope.
  • The Pet Avengers! Subverted with Ms. Lion though, who while able to communicate with the others on the team is as dumb as a stack of hammers.
  • And then there's Rex the Wonder Dog. Despite being an ostensibly normal dog, Rex had a job as a photographer, drove cars, and once nuked a T-Rex. Rex has since been officially recognized both in and out of story as being a very remarkable individual and nothing even close to a normal dog.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Mirage): Even before he mutated, Splinter was remarkably intelligent for a rat, mimicking Yoshi's movements to the level that he became just as good a martial artist as him after mutating.
  • An easily-missed example: any hero who communicates with a particular kind of animal (like Aquaman with fish, Hawkman with birds, or Ant-Man with ants) relies on this trope. In real life, that power would be almost useless — most animals aren't just unable to share complex thoughts, they lack the intelligence to form them in the first place. Wonder Woman (Rebirth) even points this out, when Diana tells Steve Trevor she can talk to animals, but they don't have much to say back (eagles just talk about hunting and food).

    Fan Works 
  • The backstory of Blofeld given on Ask Ernst Stavro Blofeld has an example of this: Blofeld's cat Volcano managed to seek out his master's right-hand woman Irma Bunt and lead her back to the abandoned factory where Blofeld was trapped, just so Bunt could rescue him. It would be a stretch to have a dog do this, but a cat?!?
  • Merle, Ruby's pet crow in Of Red Petals and Black Feathers, shows far more emotion than Ruby, is able to wear a foam finger on its arm, take offense to people forgetting to mention it when introducing people to Ruby, and is generally as intelligent as a human. There is a reason for this: After having merged with Fiddlesticks when she was young, part of Ruby's spirit had to be split off to make room. Merle isn't Ruby's pet, it is part of Ruby, specifically the part of Ruby that was split off, which is why it shows far more emotion than her: because it is made up of the majority of her emotions.
  • In the Naruto fanfiction Sugar Plums the main character get's a cat she named Danny who is clearly smarter than a normal cat as he's able to find her when she's captured. It's clearly stated a few times that he isn't a summons because when he takes damage he doesn't disappear into smoke. It's implied he's a nin-neko, though never confirmed in story.

    Film — Animated 
  • The dogs in 101 Dalmatians. They worked out a long-distance communication system among themselves!
  • Aladdin:
    • Unlike most fictional parrots, Iago talks in the first person. It's implied in the movie that Jafar actually used magic to make him smarter.
    • Abu clearly understands what Aladdin says and his chatter is semi-intelligible. However, he does not understand the concept of personal property, stealing from everyone.
  • All Dogs Go to Heaven, obviously all the characters, especially the dog who fears going to hell.
  • The Aristocats are cats that can paint, play music, and apparently can legally inherit.
  • All the dogs from Balto. They talk to each other but humans hear only barking. They also understand that it is their duty to deliver the medicine to sick people, and seem to be aware of the consequences of their potential failure.
  • Beauty and the Beast has an aversion: Phillipe runs from the wolves instead of defending Belle (which, while sensible, is not how a Loyal Animal Companion normally behaves in fiction), and while she tries to talk to sheep, they clearly are more interested in eating her book than reading it.
  • Bolt: the eponymous dog understands that he's considered a hero with superpowers. However, he actually believes he has these powers and does not understand that he's just playing in a television series.
  • Chuy the pig from The Book of Life, reacts like a human to the Rodriguezes' song attempts, and drops consecutively larger pots and plants on them.
  • Happy Feet is about a colony of Emperor Penguins that have a tradition of pairing up by singing. Not uncommon in the animal kingdom, and though they instinctually know pop songs, that can be hand waved by Translation Convention. What can't be explained away is Mumble's talent for tap dancing, a talent he successfully teaches the others to try and communicate with humans the impact overfishing is having on them. Needless to say, this is a major plot point that a montage shows becomes a major conversation in the global community. The sequel ups the ante by having some human researchers and Lovelace interact where he grooves to their guitar riffs.
  • How to Train Your Dragon: Toothless is strikingly intelligent for a dragon: he understands Hiccup's gestures and spoken commands, he can create art (even if it's just a jumble of lines), and he's a pretty good Silent Snarker. Perhaps most impressive of all, he understands the concept of forgiveness, sparing those who chose to spare him even if they had tried to kill him before.
  • Incredibles 2 has Rocky the Raccoon, a raccoon scavenging the Parr family's garbage. Jack-Jack mistakes him for a criminal and starts a fight, and Rocky puts up a better show against him than Syndrome did in the original movie. He also shows the ability to plan and use the environment to his advantage, like turning over a barbecue to make a smoke bomb.
  • All animals appearing in Lady and the Tramp. It might even be an accepted part of that world, considering how the dogs are talked to and that the two Italian chefs take so much time to prepare a meal and music for the title characters.
  • Pretty much every hero's animal companion in a Disney Animated Canon film is an example of this, though the comedic scale ranges with them. This is completely inverted, however, in the case of Moana's Heihei, an idiotic rooster that provides no character for Moana to really interact with.
  • Oliver & Company: cats and dogs are both depicted as very intelligent. Georgette, for example, understands that she's a high-class dog, and is able to put on make-up and groom her fur all by herself.
  • Nana from Peter Pan is a dog intelligent enough to babysit a trio of human children.
  • The Rabbis Cat makes a plot point of this trope. A cat inexplicably gains the power to think and speak, and starts to debate faith with his owner. This isn't all to the cat's benefit, as the boost in intellect changes his dreams from typical cat stuff to nightmares of his owner's beloved daughter dying of illness.
  • The rats in Ratatouille are generally more intelligent than real-life rats. Remy is an exceptionally smart one who can understand human speech, read, and cook.
  • In Rio, Blu, while unable to fly, can turn on a computer, ride a skateboard, and open his own cage. The rest of the birds can sing, dance and play samba music on simple musical instruments. Monkeys are smart enough to distract tourist with tricks while the other monkeys pick their pockets.
  • The Secret of NIMH: Unlike Jonathan, Mr. Ages, and the rats, Mrs. Brisby's intelligence was not boosted by lab research yet she is able to read, escape a bird cage, and disable a tractor by cutting its fuel line.
  • Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. Horses are extremely intelligent animals, but the idea of a horse playing dead in order to get humans to break his chains, and then successfully breaking the latches on a train, is taking things a bit far. The directors even lampshade this in the commentary on that scene.
  • Archimedes, Merlin's "highly educated" owl, in The Sword in the Stone. Sir Ector suspects that Merlin has him under a spell. Archimedes is insulted at the notion.
  • Tangled features Pascal, an emotive chameleon, and Maximus, a horse who happens to be more competent than his own rider, the (presumable) captain of the guard. Over the course of the film, Maximus is shown tracking his quarry by scent, locating secret passages, and even 'sword fighting', all of this more competently than the humans who are supposed to be 'his' masters. It's no surprise then, that at the end of the film Maximus is made the actual leader of the kingdom's guards.
  • The dogs from Up can talk (with technological assistance), cook, and even fly planes.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Back to the Future Part III, Doc's 1955 dog Copernicus seems to be at an almost human level of intelligence at times. For starters, after Doc finishes reading the letter that his future self wrote to Marty, Copernicus seems to be rather sad about Doc being Trapped in the Past. In addition, Copernicus is the one who discovers Doc's tombstone, and he seems to realize what it says.
  • Rin Tin Tin, hero of many a movie throughout the silent film era, was portrayed as this. In Clash of the Wolves, he often seems nearly sapient. He makes the tactical decision to separate away from the wolf pack to lure the wolf-killing posse after him, thus saving the rest. He is later clever enough to decoy the posse after him, thus leading them to his master, who is wounded and needs help. He is tasked with delivering a message from the hero to the hero's girlfriend, but when he sees the bad guy the desire for "revenge" overtakes him and he attacks the bad guy instead. For a while he trots around in some weird dog booties, but when he finds himself unable to ascend a slide, he is smart enough to rip the dog booties off, after which he makes it up a slide. He also knows how canteens work, as shown when he dips a canteen in a pond to fill it up, then brings it to his master to give him a drink.
  • Albert, Trey's pet pig from College Road Trip can play chess, solve a Rubik's cube, turn on the bathtub, beg and even knows how to use a toilet.
  • Pip from Enchanted. Justified since it is a parody of the Disney Animated Canon.
  • G-Force: The eponymous trained secret agent rodents are capable of complex hand coordination, bipedal movement, physical display of human emotions (which shouldn't be possible), and computer hacking skills (as in the case of the star-nosed mole, Speckles). While all these abilities are (partially) justified by government animal experimentation, it fails to explain why the ordinary pet store animals, such as guinea pig Hurley and Hamster Bucky, are just as capable of these feats of intelligence as the G-Force team. Then towards the end of the movie, the unit's leader, scientist Ben, confesses that the team are not genetically enhanced animals as previously told, but ordinary ones Ben took in and trained for the team. WTF doesn't begin to describe it.
  • The owls in Harry Potter are either much smarter than normal owls to be able to serve as messengers, finding the intended recipient no mater where they are; or magical. Magical is probably the better bet.
  • The animals in Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey are able to talk to each other, plan an escape out of a pound, and make pop-culture references.
  • Subverted in The Jerk, where a stray dog wakes up Navin Johnson, who asks what's wrong, and believes the dog is trying to tell him to motel is on fire. As Johnson wakes everyone else up, he's say he'll call the dog "Lifesaver." When it turns out to be a false alarm, one of the other guests tells him to call the dog ""$#!thead". The dog gets that name for the rest of the movie.
  • Wolf in The Journey of Natty Gann demonstrates an implausible capacity for reason: not only does he recognize the part Natty played in his escape from a dogfighting ring (by opening a door for him), he repays her by presenting her with a freshly-killed rabbit when she's starving in the woods, and proceeds to follow her around warning her of impending danger and performing acts of altruism like defending a farmer's chicken coop from foxes for no apparent reason beyond repaying the farmer and his wife for helping Natty. At times, Wolf seems like the smartest character in the whole movie.
  • Mousehunt. Let's put it this way: secret agents are not as cunning as this mouse.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • Jack the monkey is intelligent enough to understand that the medallion is important, and use his own size, speed, and skill to retrieve it when his human crewmates can't.
    • Mr. Cotton's parrot is intelligent enough to sort of telepathically understand Mr. Cotton and spout an appropriate sea phrase in response so the humans know what his human is trying to say. Lampshaded by Mr. Gibbs: "He trained the parrot to speak for him. *beat* Nobody's quite figured how."
  • The titular rodents in Rats: Night of Terror are smart enough to bite through the bikers' tires to keep them from getting away. They also seem to know how to team up and attack (or set traps) as a group.
  • Roy Rogers: Trigger, the 'smartest horse in the west'. He could sit in a chair, sign his name "X" with a pencil, and lie down for a nap and cover himself with a blanket.
  • The Buster Keaton short The Scarecrow features Luke the Dog (on loan from Fatty Arbuckle), who can walk up and down ladders.

  • Animal Farm plays this trope straight, where the animals (mostly the pigs) are shown to be highly intelligent when they speak English, devise battle plans, design windmills, form a complex government, carry out purges, etc.
  • Every dinosaur the humans-in-dino-bodies encounter in Dinoverse that doesn't just try to kill them is ridiculously bright. In the first two books they mostly just have keen emotional intelligence and group dynamics, with understanding of things like jealousy, reconciliation, gratitude, and amicably ending a relationship. Leptoceratopsians are also able to use mimicry. Still, they clearly don't understand everything the humans are doing or telling them.
    • The next two books ramp it up. Hypsilophodons help a human-in-a-Hypsilophodon-body collect material to build a raft and row and hit a predator with clubs, all from watching him, wanting to help, and copying him. A family of Acrocanthosaurs rescues one member mired in mud by forming a dinosaur chain and pulling her out together. There is also the case of Hook/Junior, a Deinonychus who over the course of less than a week of watching, learns to make fire, splint injured limbs, and is even able to, if not read, than at least has some understanding of the markings scratched into rock walls. He also fakes a limp on his own initiative. Hook/Junior, unlike all the others in the series, is noted to be unusually smart by the human characters. It's even implied that saving him and letting him rejoin Deinonychus society leads to dinosaurs surviving to modern times as an entire civilization, in an alternate universe.
  • Discworld:
    • Gaspode the Wonder Dog (later just Gaspode), who can talk (but nobody pays any attention, because dogs can't talk). Moving Pictures also gives us Laddie, who plays a superintelligent dog onscreen but whose Real Life conversation consists mostly of 'Good boy Laddie'. And Men at Arms establishes that the regular street dogs of Ankh-Morpork (who are not stated to have enhanced intelligence) have their own Guild, with scary but depressingly familiar politics. Gaspode's human speech, however, gives him the edge over them because he can say "Sit!" and "Bad dog!".
    • Subverted in The Amazing Maurice And His Educated Rodents, in which even ordinary (non-Changeling) rats and cats are presumed to have languages of their own. The subversion is that Rat consists largely of body language (e.g. a submissive crouch for "sir"), while Cat is equipped mainly for swearing. It is also limited to actual rat social behavior, which while quite complex isn't any good for abstract ideas (and according to the Author's Note is somewhat toned down from reality to stay believable).
  • Doctor Dolittle learned how to speak with animals from his parrot, Polynesia, and pretty much every animal has a language.
  • The protagonist of Dogsbody is a sentient star in the form of a dog, so it's not surprising that he's as smart as a human and takes a month or so of observation to learn to understand human speech. 'Normal' dogs and cats can talk to each other in depth. Most of them can't understand more than a few words of human language and several dogs mostly say "Hallo!" a lot and can't understand the significance of some of them looking similar to each other, but there's a dog descended from a hound of The Wild Hunt who can comprehend English when it's spoken slowly and can also make plans for the future.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Harry's dog Mouse is a Temple Dog, scion of a magical Foo Dog and a normal dog. It's been heavily implied that he's both more intelligent and considerably more powerful than his (Wizard) owner. The short story "Christmas Eve" in particular shows this pretty well: Mouse has to help Harry assemble a bike when Harry can't interpret the instructions, understands Harry's reference to A Christmas Carol and receives considerable respect from the Faerie Queen Mab. However, he is still a dog. He can't speak, although he understands (and apparently reads) perfectly well, he works the Big Friendly Dog schtick so as not to frighten the Muggles, and his idea of a perfect afternoon involves a ride in the car, a long belly-rub and plenty of treats.
    • Mister, Harry's 30 pound pet cat appears to be at least be on the high end of animal intelligence. However nothing has ever indicated he is magical or supernaturally intelligent, though something could be made of the fact that he is the only creature Dresden has ever found who looks identical to normal under his Wizard Sight.
  • The cats in the book (and movie) Felidae are shown to be able to read and understand how certain machines are used. It's pointed out that learning these things takes time, and that not all cats bother with the task, though just about all of them understand humans.
    Francis: I never thought I would ever see one of us, sitting in front of a computer... and actually knowing how to use it!
  • In the Franny K. Stein book series, Franny's dog Igor has intelligence comparable to a monkey or an ape.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Hermione's cat, Crookshanks. Subverted as it's later revealed that it's half Kneazle, a magical creature.
    • The owls seem like ordinary owls but they have the magical ability to find whomever the mail they carry is addressed to.
    • There's also the issue of how being a parselmouth works, if all snakes aren't intelligent.
    • Played with in one of the series' earliest scenes, when Mr. Dursley sees cat-McGonagall looking at a sign, and has to remind himself that cats can't read.
  • Heralds of Valdemar: Mercedes Lackey usually uses magic as an excuse for her intelligent animals. Companions are actually angels in horse form, for example, and kyree are Uplifted Animals; both are fully as smart as humans and notable for having large heads and broad foreheads.
    • Tayledras bondbirds and Shin'a'in warhorses are closer to normal animals. The product of very long breeding programs with magic used to nudge them along the way, they are not people like Companions or kyree. Bondbirds are larger than normal corvids and birds of prey, smarter and quite social, forming tight emotional bonds with their human partners, to whom they can speak telepathically. The smartest ones speak in full sentences, understand deception and can make real plans. The warhorses meanwhile are big, ugly brutes with incredible stamina and intelligence that's changed their behavior so they're less like horses and more like smart dogs, which are exhaustively trained on a wide array of commands and can use their own judgement. Meanwhile, regular Shin'a'in horses are also special but in ways more feasible for smart horses, and seem to be purely the product of long breeding projects.
  • A Hole in the Fence: Grisón's adoptive parents' rooster is supposed to be a completely normal fowl. However, rather than crowing loudly at daybreak because of his biological rhythm, he seems to consider it his duty to awaken his owners at dawn, and gets terribly upset when he fails to stir Grisón up (which happens routinely).
  • Les Voyageurs Sans Souci: All animals are able to communicate among themselves and have human-level intelligence which let them perform complex tasks. An eagle-owl is able to figure out how to lock one door despite obviously lacking hands to turn the key. And Timoleón (a dog) runs his owner Captain Albatros' store in the absence while he is away.
  • The Messenger Series: Favour is all-but-stated to have human-level intellect and reasoning ability, which is required for his role as an immortal being who chooses the heroes who will help him eradicate evil and misery. He appears to be able to manipulate a person's spatial awareness, senses, dreams, even the technology they're using to communicate, and sometimes Rose wonders if the thoughts in her head are her own or Favour communicating with her. In his original life, he was still portrayed as an unnaturally intelligent horse who was able to figure out what danger was coming to the villages and save them with some help from a thirteen year old boy. He, rather than the boy, was the one celebrated by the villages as the hero.
  • Molly Moon has her pet pug, Petula saving the day quite a few times.
  • While the title rats in Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH are justifiably this trope, thanks to their lab-enhanced intellects, ordinary animals like crows, owls, and Mrs. Frisby herself (a common field mouse) also talk to one another.
  • All the animal characters in Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown's Mrs. Murphy Mysteries series.
  • Downplayed in The One and Only Ivan. Ivan is a gorilla who grew up in a human house before being put in a small cage in a circus-themed mall for over a quarter century. His best friend is an old elephant who was with a circus for much of her life before ending up in the same mall. Long-lived and intelligent animals, they can more or less understand English even if they don't quite understand humans, and can speak to each other. When a new baby elephant, Ruby, is brought to join them she doesn't seem to understand most of what humans say, though she picks up on her name easily enough. There's also a year-old dog who also understands English and has less justification for it. Ivan's big moment of un-gorilla-like aptitude is his attempt to save Ruby with his art - having heard about zoos and seen them in commercials, he tries to paint a collage of a zoo with Ruby in it and laboriously figures out and copies the letters H O M E. It's still very hard for humans to figure out that this was done with intention, since to most of them his art is fully abstract.
  • The Novelization of Revenge of the Sith makes this explicit of the dragonmount that Obi-Wan rides on Utapau. He can sense her intelligence through the Force, and throughout the battle he banters with her and gives her orders that she follows without any problems.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has notoriously clever ravens; some ravens are capable of vocalization and most ravens can be and are trained to carry messages between castles. Also, direwolves are considerably bigger than their extinct real-life counterparts and have tangential intelligence related to their owner's capacity to Warg.
  • Tolerably justified example in Spirit Animals. The titular spirit animals are a fair bit more intelligent than regular animals due to their supernatural nature, able to understand the requests of their human partners and react appropriately. The fifteen Great Beasts are still more intelligent, able to talk and sometimes teaching humans things.
  • The Stormlight Archive features Ryshadium. They are bigger, stronger, faster, and smarter than any other kind of horse by far. They even choose their own riders and are apparently very picky. They can't speak, but do understand speech to some extent. Their increased intelligence and size seems to come from a bond with Spren, something that exists in a few other places around the planet. Khriss, something of an in-universe researcher/scientist even speculates that they might be sapient.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium: J. R. R. Tolkien uses this in his Middle-earth stories. While the most prominent such creatures — the giant Eagles, Wargs, and Huan — are special cases and probably not mundane animals, it's hinted in various stories that ordinary mammals and birds are intelligent and may talk to each other. Some characters learn the speech of birds or of all animals (though, granted, Legolas in The Lord of the Rings can "hear" the "speech" of rocks and plants). Very well-bred horses are often depicted as understanding what their riders say, especially when ridden by elves. Then there are the talking crows in The Hobbit and the "Lay of Leithien," Beorn's Partially Civilized Animal servants/friends, and the inner monologue of the fox (good grief, travelling hobbits!) in The Fellowship of the Ring. Just how seriously we're supposed to take all this is never spelled out, though we never see Carnivore Confusion even in the Blessed Realm.
  • Shows up in Tamora Pierce's Tortall Universe, in part thanks to "wild magic" that gives humans a gift with (usually) a particular variety of critter.
    • Daine, the protagonist of The Immortals has wild magic with all animals. Through her, we learn that Tortallan animals can understand humans to an extent but can't communicate with them, and in some cases could communicate with each other—but (since it's not played totally straight) they never get that kind of idea until they meet Daine. Prolonged exposure to Daine increases their intelligence to sentience, but it's often a stressful and unhappy experience for them. Her pony Cloud is completely sentient, as is the leader of a wolf pack that took Daine in after her mother's death. Daine is troubled when talking to the wolf later and discovering that he understands tool use, even if his lack of thumbs means the applications are limited.
    • In Protector of the Small, Daine is a secondary character and lives at the palace. Consequently, all animals in and around the palace, from horses to sparrows, get smarter. The flock of sparrows that Kel feeds recognizes her as their benefactor; they defend her from enemies and can understand basic instructions. Her horse Peachblossom is basically sentient, and even a stray like Jump has given himself a name. In Lady Knight, Daine alters all the animals in the refugee camp so they can communicate through body language/signals to make up for the camp being critically understaffed, which unsettles almost everyone, especially when they learn what palace animals are like.
      "Just the animals here are unnatural. What if you return to find the horses have decided not to work for men and the dogs are running the courts of law?"

    Live-Action TV 
  • Comet, the horse from The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., is a blatant parody of this trope. Not only does Brisco's steed perform some unlikely feats of intelligence on camera, but Bruce Campbell regularly refers to even less-plausible things Comet had been doing, before its rider whistled for it.
  • Both played straight and parodied by Cheddar of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the adorable pet corgi of Captain Holt. He has been trained to retrieve unusual objects, but is often treated by the cast like some kind of mastermind when he is in fact merely a cute corgi, highlighted in the episode named after him.
  • Due South: Diefenbaker, the deaf half-wolf was just as much Fraser's partner as Ray.
  • Flipper understood the people he dealt with.
  • Eddie, the Jack Russell in Frasier, ping-ponged across the line between realistically intelligent, as-unrealistically-bright-as-the-Rule of Funny-will-allow, Gromit-esque Silent Snarker, and occasionally so very stupid it seems like he's putting it on....
  • Rex in Inspector Rex was highly intelligent for a dog and seemed capable of understanding whatever was said to him and, though he was a trained police dog, seemed capable of following complex instructions with no training whatsoever. He was also capable of outsmarting humans when the situation called for it, particularly when ham rolls were on the line.
  • A junkyard cat called "Jack Bauer the Cat" in an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It seemed to be street-smarts personified, albeit a totally normal cat otherwise.
  • Lassie, naturally, can not only understand human speech, but can also bark in some sort of code that humans understand to mean Timmy in a Well.
  • The Littlest Hobo:
    • The doggy protagonist seems to understand human speech, as well as concepts like tape recorders.
    • An entire episode revolves around two scientists trying to get hold of him to find out just how smart he is; he has no interest in their work, and better things to do. In the end, the answer seems to be "smarter that the scientists."
  • Our Miss Brooks: Sometimes, the animals understand perfectly what is going on in the human world. This usually happens on the radio (i.e. "The Frog" (where a tomcat calls for Mrs. Davis' pet cat Minerva via telephone), "Selling the House Next Door" (Miss Brooks babysits a dog, a cat, a frog and an actual baby), and "Minerva's Kittens" ("Minerva's husband" faints when he's told he's a father). It occasionally happens on television too, such as in "Blue Goldfish" where Mr. Boynton greets his pet frog Macdougall and the amphibian gives his typical "glug" in return. Or in "The Magic Christmas Tree" and "Citizen's League" where Minerva reacts to talk of fish or mice.
  • The eponymous kangaroo of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo not only showed a remarkable understanding of English, but would often imitate human behaviors like playing a piano or the drums.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Spot, however, did not necessarily understand Data any better than a cat understands a normal human.
  • Tales of the Gold Monkey: Jack, the one eyed bull terrier. Barks once for no, twice for yes (and never been wrong) and understands at least three languages (English, Japanese, and Spanish.)
  • Almost every animal in Thunderstone is far smarter than it has any right to be. Arushka's horse Moshi "knows what you're gonna do, even before you do it" and understands any verbal command. Dolly the sheepdog can track her puppies across a vast desert without help. Prince the hawk brings Arushka a rock of thunderstone to show her that a huge deposit is nearby, and leads Chip, Kwan and Geneva to Arushka and Sundance when they're trapped in a cave.

    Video Games 
  • Adiboo: Magical Playland: All the animal characters display human-like intelligence. One of the birds even blows you a kiss if you've been feeding them a lot.
  • Roadkill from Comix Zone can be released to get by obstacles and hit the switches that turn them off, then return to Sketch. In the backstory mentioned, Sketch never specifically trained Roadkill to do anything at all.
  • Justified in Dragon Age: Origins: the Mabari War Hounds actually are as intelligent as humans, having been originally bred by Telvinter magisters. In fact, they're often said to be smarter; after all, they know better than to speak, and "Dog," your party's war hound, is smart enough to easily understand human speech. A few characters have full conversations with him, and the player character seems to understand his barks as well. In Dragon Age II, the Hawke family Mabari learns to play cards.
  • Fallout's Dogmeat is a downplayed example. In most areas he's just a well-trained guard dog, but he also recognizes guns, medicine and ammunition well enough to fetch them when asked. While it's not impossible that he's been professionally trained, given the state of the world it's unlikely.
  • Justified in Ghost Trick: In the ghost world animals can perfectly communicate with humans since human and animal souls are no different to each other, and since there's no language barrier in the world of the deadnote . The only "barriers" between humans and animals is the latter's lack of understanding of more human concepts. For example: Missile, a small Pomeranian, is perfectly able to communicate with Sissel in the ghost world, all while maintaining his ordinary dog behavior like loudness, upbeat oblivious attitude, and fierce loyalty to his owner.
  • It's possible to use the telepathy in the Golden Sun games on animals, whose thoughts are always at least as comprehensible as human ones, and often show the animals as more insightful than the people. Golden Sun: The Lost Age has an extensive trade quest based on what can be uncovered of the wants of a group of animals (some of whom even deliberately use the telepathy to be conversational).
  • Boney from Mother 3. Unlike Ness's dog King, Lucas's dog is extremely competent. He's fast, is strong enough to cause damage to metal, and is even capable of using items on battle (Hell, he's using a Saltwater Gun effectively even though he has no hands). In Chapter 4, he's able to normally walk as a human for long periods and fooling the guards into thinking he's human. It is also implied that Boney understands human speech.
  • Nancy Drew games:
    • Loulou the Parrot from The Curse of Blackmoor Manor is smart enough to play complex word games, translate Latin, and play pranks on Nancy Drew. Even for an octogenarian, that's shrewd.
    • Her granddaughter Coucou, from Ransom of the Seven Ships, continues the family tradition of genius. The game-playing monkeys on the island aren't slouches either.
    • Inverted by Mr. Mingles, the Pomeranian from Resorting To Danger. It'd take a phenomenally stupid animal to get into half the predicaments — trapped in a dumbwaiter, locked in a safe, sucked up a pneumatic delivery tube — that pesky puffball manages to stumble into.
  • The title character of Ollo in The Sunny Valley Fair may just be a ball of clay, but lives in a house and helps his friends.
  • Overcooked! has Kevin the dog. Kevin can only say "Bark," but he's clearly understood by the Onion King, and he knows how to fly a helicopter.
  • Persona:
    • Koromaru the dog from Persona 3 can summon a Persona, fight using a knife held in his teeth, and understands human speech perfectly. That should be more than enough to qualify.
    • The fox in Persona 4 can apparently read the emas left at the shrine where it lives and cares about the upkeep of the shrine. To the point where it issues side quests to the protagonist to grant the wishes written on the emas and bring in more offerings.
  • Jep the monkey from Return to Mysterious Island can open panels with a screwdriver, take clay impressions of engraved inscriptions, fly a kite, air-surf on a steampunk hover pad, and secure rope ladders and bridges with sturdy knots. At no time is Mina shown actually training him to do any of these things.
  • Blanca from Shadow Hearts: Covenant, who is not only a domesticated wolf raised from a puppy, but is also a full party member enough to make combos with other allies. He also can use items, cast magic, and hide from guards by standing on his hind legs.
  • Stray (2022): Even if one assumes their Robot Buddy B-12 is translating everything into some sort of cat speech, the Cat is incredibly intelligent, able to understand complex plans and tasks and having at least a rudimentary understanding of technology.
  • Repede from Tales of Vesperia. He's a dog who's perfectly capable of understanding human speech, and is an extremely capable fighter, being able to wield a sword held in his teeth, and being able to unleash artes that are just as flashy and deadly as those of the human characters.
  • Some animals in the Uncle Albert games exhibit higher intelligence than their real life counterpart.
    • Uncle Albert's Magical Album has a racing mini-game where all animals can participate like humans.
    • In Uncle Albert's Magical Album, the snails know where the player must dig in the cellar to access the basement. If the player brings a snail to the cellar, it will use its drool to indicate where to use the jackhammer.
    • Uncle Albert's Fabulous Voyage has flies knowing Morse code.
    • Uncle Albert's Fabulous Voyage has a frog that knows the combination of a puzzle where you must points arrows in specific directions. The frog croaks whenever an arrow point the right way.
    • Le Temple Perdu de l'Oncle Ernest has a crab, a spider and a scorpion who can play basketball.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 

  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: Judy, Doctor McNinja's gorilla receptionist, can read and write, drive cars, and is in general treated like a human character. Yoshi the raptor mount is somewhat more animalistic, but is able to communicate with Judy and understand concepts like writing, even if he can't read. Later, when fully sapient dinosaurs take over the world in a Bad Future alternate timeline, they try to make him intelligent, but even then he has rather limited linguistic abilities and is only capable of You No Take Candle-style speech.
  • Subverted in Girl Genius, where Krosp the talking cat is a mad scientist's creation, endowed not just with intelligence and speech but also the ability to command all other cats, creating an unseen army of spies, messengers and saboteurs wherever he goes. Emphasis on "mad": cats obey Krosp, but they're animals. They're not sapient, they can't reason, and if they understand their orders they have an attention span of seconds.
    • Well, it's not quite right to say he has the "ability" to command cats. That was his intended purpose, but the only problem that was solved by creating Krosp was the issue of communication. Cats can understand him and vice versa, but he still has to get their attention, get them interested enough to do what he's asking, and care enough to do it for long enough to actually finish the job. Seeing as they're cats, it was this last one especially that caused problems.
      • According to Krosp himself, he easily gets their attention and gets them interested — he's apparently got epic-level charisma as far as cats are concerned — but he can't always make them understand what he wants, and then the attention span causes them to forget about what he told them to do.
  • Scratch Fury (Destroyer of Worlds) is a hyperintelligent cat in PvP. PvP is not a "funny animal" strip, and Scratch is the only animal to be depicted this way. (There's a recurring basset character that ranges in intelligence between "real basset hound" and "human moron", depending on whichever would be funnier.)
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Cats are an essential element in fighting Plague Zombie monsters, and are classified into three categories: Grade C cats that are basically the ordinary cats, Grade B cats that are Grade Cs that underwent special training, and Grade A cats, that are both bred and trained for their desirable qualities. In Chapter 1, a Grade A cat is seen gesturing to humans to be quiet while their boat is going through a Plague Zombie ridden area (the comic is titled after the in-universe Rule #1 on what to do to avoid attracting the attention of a closeby Plague Zombie).

    Western Animation 
  • Averted in The Animals of Farthing Wood being that they were all realistic animals, and while they all spoke to each other, they never understood humans and mistrusted them all equally except The Warden of White Deer Park, who was vouched for by the Park residents as being a man with the animals' safety first in mind.
  • Pal, the dog in Arthur.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has strange combo-animals that fall under this trope and/or behave like ordinary one-type animals.
    • Appa is a straight example: he flat-out seems to understand everyone.
    • Jun's mount didn't seem to understand humans.
    • The Giant Badger-Moles in "The Cave of Two Lovers" like music and apparently understood Sokka enough to allow him to ride them to safety.
    • Avatar Roku's dragon and the old Fire Lord Azulon's dragon seemed to understand them.
    • Momo is a deliberate subversion. When Katara and Sokka are incapacitated from illness, Katara asks Momo to bring water. Momo understands the "go get" part but spends the entire episode bringing back random objects, no matter how slowly Katara speaks and tries to communicate 'water'.
    • In an episode of Avatar, a messenger hawk is intercepted by a bigger hawk. The larger hawk was able to tie up the smaller hawk with a couple of ribbons, take the message, and fly it back to its owner.
      • The messenger hawk example is the only one that doesn't fit the usual pattern: animals with bending powers (sky bison, badger-moles, dragons, maybe lion-turtles) have human or near-human intelligence. Others are just animals - however, companion animals like Momo are consistently able to tell human friends from neutral humans from enemy humans, with an appreciation for when someone changes categories, and react to them accordingly. Most animals vocalize if spoken to, as if responding. Momo clearly understands some things... just not everything.
      • "The Tales of Ba Sing Se" is a shining example of this trope; go to the recap page for the details.
  • Birdman's golden eagle Avenger understood Birdman well enough to follow commands.
  • Boo Boom! The Long Way Home: all five animals accompanying Boo-Boom (a cat, a dog, a horse, a rooster and a bee) are clearly more intelligent than their real life counterparts, being able to understand what humans say and willingly helping Boo-Boom to find his parents, as well as protecting him form harm, since they know he won't make it on his own.
  • Monkey in the Dial M for Monkey segment on Dexter's Laboratory.
  • While Doug was one of the more realistic Nicktoons, Porkchop qualifies for this trope. Besides participating in Even the Dog Is Ashamed jokes, he could do things such as play Barnyard Chess, limbo dance, and fly a kite. Yet maybe only his owner can understand him, because in a court case no one else can decipher what he has to say.
  • Brian from Family Guy is a dog that speaks perfect English, walks on two legs, drinks alcohol, and is generally more intelligent than anyone else on the show. He might well be a parody, as he not only talks, but also interacts with other people the way normal humans would, and this is never pointed out by anyone. And, if his instincts don't get the best of him, he usually takes the role of Only Sane Man in the show. But he is one of only a handful of such animals shown, as most animals are shown to be just like regular ones. Two notable exceptions are the monkey in Chris's closet and the dog that replaced Brian in one episode when the Griffins believed Brian was getting too old. Also Brian's gay cousin, Jasper, but for some reason, not all of his other relatives.
  • Tracy, in Filmation's live-action series The Ghost Busters and the later animated series Filmation's Ghostbusters. The latter took this trope to insane levels.
  • Dino and Hoppy from The Flintstones understand their humans, and so do most of the animal-based appliances in that world.
  • Some of the variations on Garfield: His 9 Lives.
  • Downplayed in Gargoyles in regards to Bronx. He is bright and can follow simple commands but he is still in essence like a dog. In the episode "City of Stone" for example, while he's wary of Demona and guards the stonified Elisa, all Demona has to do is scratch him behind his ears to get him to not attack her. Bronx was otherwise content to stay where he was while Demona sabotages Xanatos's plan and monologues out loud about it because Bronx didn't understand what she was saying or doing.
  • In Gawayn, the quester's horse Griselda is shown at times to be able to understand what the characters around her are saying by her reactions. Sometimes, she is even seen doing things such as reading a newspaper.
  • The Herculoids all understand Zandor, Tara and Dorno. Possible subversion: they're all alien animals(?), and we don't know if they are sapient and just unable to utter human speech.
  • Hit-Monkey: The entire premise of the series is a Japanese macaque with an uncanny talent for assassination.
  • Hong Kong Phooey's cat Spot was actually smarter than the title "hero".
  • Inspector Gadget:
    • Penny's dog Brain is smarter than her uncle and saves his life several times per episode. This is not as true in the movie, though.
    • Mad Cat (Doctor Claw's henchcat) also fits the mould, but For Great Evil. At times the not-so-good doctor has ordered Mad Cat to launch guided weapons. Cats Are Mean, but missiles?
  • In an episode of Invader Zim, a pig is somewhat able to ride a motorcycle.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes: This trope makes animals even harder to spot since every character other than Jimmy and Heloise (maybe) is a monster. In Jimmy and the Big House it seemed the only difference between animals and people is if they could talk. Cerbee (explicitly called a dog despite looking nothing like one was intelligent enough to give an Aside Glance and such, while in one scene the others talked before Molotov reminded him he couldn't.
  • Jonny Quest's dog Bandit understands Johnny and every human in the family.
  • Jorel's Brother: The dog Tosh is able to speak normally, is wise and can often be the Only Sane Man. The three ducks Gesonel, Danúbio and Fabrício are also very intelligent for their species and speak like people, though in their case, it's justified since they were revealed to actually be aliens, not regular Earth ducks.
  • Rufus the naked mole rat from Kim Possible was able to understand and read English as well as go WAY out of the way to save his human, Ron, and managed to figure out which buttons to push to release the bonds holding the heroine and sidekick. In the episode 'Naked Genius', he became even smarter when he accidentally had Project Phoebus used on him, infusing him with the intelligence of the smartest men on the planet along with taking the villain of the day's (Doctor Drakken) intellect, making it so the blue madman was unable to do more than doodle at the level of a kindergartener. It was only for that episode, as the effects eventually wore off on all parties.
  • In Krypto the Superdog, Krypto understands all humans, and the only reason Kevin understands him is that there's a translator device.
    • Also capable of understanding humans and each other despite breed and species differences: Ace the Bat Hound, Streaky the Super Cat, and the pets of Batman's villains.
    • Lastly, the Dog Stars not only communicate through breed differences, but each hails from a different planet. On top of that they pilot their own spacecraft.
  • Lassies Rescue Rangers is all over this. The eponymous Rangers include among others a skunk, a stork, a porcupine, a cougar, a hare, and of course Lassie herself; they lack dialogue, but otherwise are very intelligent, capable of complex planning and extremely high levels of cooperation.
  • And, of course, Pluto, the one Mickey Mouse character who isn't a Funny Animal, but is still rather intelligent and can understand (if not speak) English.
  • Molly of Denali: In "The Whole Mitten Kaboodle," a mouse uses Molly's mitten first as cover to sneak past a sleeping fox, then as a sled to make its trip downhill quicker.
  • Owlowiscious, Twilight Sparkle's pet owl in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, is extremely intelligent and a capable assistant librarian, and manages to save Spike from a full grown dragon. Practically all animals on the show are fully sapient and may exhibit civilized traits, even the ones who cannot talk. Fluttershy can communicate with them and treats them just like people.
  • Perry the Platypus in Phineas and Ferb. He can't speak and does nothing but stand around on all fours whenever the kids are around, but when he sneaks away he lives a double life as a secret agent, as do most of the other animals who work at the Agency.
    Major Monogram: Carl, remind me again why all our agents are animals?
  • Justified in Pole Position. Through most of the series, Kuma's species was never identified (best guess would be some kind of lemur, maybe). In the last episode, we learn that Kuma is a genetically engineered life form bred by an eccentric scientist.
  • Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat and her siblings can read Chinese characters and write calligraphy using their tails.
  • All The Secret Saturdays' pets understand them. Justified, because Fisk, Zon and Komodo are all cryptids who look like ordinary animals, but aren't.
  • The title character of Scooby-Doo talks at human level, albeit in Third-Person Person, and like Quacker, in an animal-like voice.
  • Most of the animals in The Simpsons are completely normal, except for Laddie the dog, the turtle from Terrapin Wax, and Itchy & Scratchy (though they're justified since they're cartoons within a cartoon).
  • Blip the monkey in Space Ghost understands Jan and Jayce.
  • Superfriends:
    • Wonder Dog understands Wendy and Marvin.
    • And Gleek the Monkey understands Zan and Jayna.
  • The Thing: "The Thing Goes To The Dogs" features a supposedly-normal dog who, at one point, stands on her hind legs to play charades with the main characters.
  • In Thunder Cats 2011, Team Pet Snarf (a cat-dragon creature) cannot speak, but clearly comprehends speech, and has a grasp of the events around him, enough to become frightened when an enemy proposes that his owner Lion-O Duel to the Death.
  • Tom and Jerry as well as Butch the dog and any other animals appearing in their cartoons have easily human intelligence.
  • In Total Drama, some animals—especially squirrels—can understand humans. During the safari challenge, raccoons combine into a Raccoon mecha that shoots raccoons at people. These unusual abilities are invariably Played for Laughs.
  • Gromit from Wallace & Gromit. He's clearly more observant and grounded in reality then his smart but spacey owner Wallace.
  • Winx Club: Blooms pet rabbit Kiko is shown to completely understand her, despite not being able to speak himself.


Video Example(s):


What About Mimi?

Elaine's animals are so well trained that they can be entrusted to carry out complex tasks, including helping a cat escape prison.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / AmplifiedAnimalAptitude

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