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Animal Stereotypes

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"I know what you're afraid of: it's not pain or solitude, it's indignity. You're a little bit like a cat that way."
Dr. Bloom, Hannibal

Want an easy way to show that your character is loyal and tough? Make him a canine! Want to come off as graceful while a bit of a loner? Make her a feline! Want them to be tricky, cunning, or confident, or just knockout gorgeous? Choose a fox! And while the stereotypes themselves vary from culture to culture, animals are one of the most popular forms of symbolism in fiction.

When used as a characterization shortcut, the work compares the character to an animal for which the audience's culture projects certain personality traits. This can be done subtly with symbolism or Theme Naming, or more blatantly by giving the character physical traits or mannerisms of the animal, or even by making the animal itself the character.

NOTE: For a general list, see Analysis.Animal Stereotypes for more information. As cultural stereotypes for animals vary from place to place and some cultures have multiple stereotypes for certain animals, make sure that your example lists the character(s), the animal, the cultural stereotypes that animal is representing, and how the character(s) reflect those traits.


Animal-specific stereotypes:


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The cursed Souma family in Fruits Basket - in this case each of the Soumas' personalities follow the character traits specific to their Zodiac sign, e.g. Yuki the Rat is an intelligent leader, Rin the Horse is fiercely independent, etc.
  • Inuyasha, from the series of the same name, is half dog-demon. So he exhibits some traits of a dog, like loyalty and, uh, doggedness. He even antagonizes foxes. Shippo, the fox demon is small but clever and brave. The wolf demon Kouga is direct, competitive, and likes running. Sesshoumaru, Inuyasha's pure-blooded brother, shares Inuyasha's dog-like traits of being possessive, territorial, and aggressive, and gradually exhibits the stereotypes of a good dog as well including loyalty and being extremely good with children.
  • The Funny Animal Familiars in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. Of the two canine familiars, Arf is loyal to a fault to her master Fate like a faithful dog, while Zafira is the strong and silent type like a majestic wolf. Meanwhile, the Lieze Cat Girl sisters showed both cat aspects, being playful towards Chrono and Yuuno on one hand while absolutely breaking Hayate on the other.
  • Bakarasu, a Speech-Impaired Animal showed up in one Mazinger Z episode and was a semi-recurrent secondary character in Great Mazinger, "helped" the heroes every so often, and he fit quite well with the traits of the heroic corvid: he was cunning, mischievous and trickster, and he enjoyed tweaking the messages he was supposed to deliver and getting Boss in trouble.
  • Naruto: Naruto is possessed by a what is essentially a kitsune and is played as a trickster early on and has fox like physical traits; subverted when we actually meet the fox himself... He'd sooner rip your face off than play pranks.
  • Kotaro Inugami of Negima! Magister Negi Magi swears he's a lone wolf, cold and proud with no need for others (namely, girls), but his friend Negi more closely associates him with a Dog (it is his demon species after all...) And as wolves are very social pack hunters, a lone wolf is often hungry and also lonely. The "lone wolf" idiom is actually quite clever.
  • One Piece:
    • There's "Cat Burglar Nami" — which is everyone who knows Nami comparing her to a cat that's ultimately kind when it suits her but mostly selfish. This is played up a lot at first and then dropped as the story goes on.
    • The Mink Tribe being a tribe of Funny Animals, they naturally have a lot of classic animal behaviours. Canine Minks like Wanda and Dogstorm love licking people they like and chewing on bones (Much to Brook's dismay), Carrot the rabbit Mink often nibbles on people and loves her namesake, Rody the bull Mink is distracted by a piece of fluttery cloth, etc.
  • Mostly played straight in Princess Tutu. The main character is a duck disguised as a girl, and she's shown as being clumsy and loud with a hidden grace. Both the Magical Girl she turns into and the Prince she's trying to save are represented by swans, appropriate since both are graceful dancers who are greatly defined by their love for others. Crows and ravens are the main villains, and the Dark Magical Girl is both referred to as a crow and a black swan, referencing Swan Lake and referring to the fact that she herself is a loving person who's been twisted by evil. The trope carries over to most of the cast in some ways, with some exceptions.

    Comic Books 
  • In Blacksad all of the characters are anthropomorphic animals whose roles and personalities are mostly reflected on their animal traits (ex: nearly all the policemen are canid).
  • In Grendel, vampires are each capable of shape-shifting into a specific animal that reflects their personality. For example, the sneaky, sadistic, cultured Tujiro turns into a white Persian cat, while the ruthless and savage, but courageous and sociable Pellon Cross turns into a wolf.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: When Circe is feeling particularly whimsical she has her magic transform her victims turned slaves into creatures based on their "animal within", such as a particularly stubborn man turning into a bull headed man. Maj. Griggs, who is respectful but unquestionably a horndog, ends up turned into a goat-like monster that looks like a satyr.

    Eastern European Animation 

    Films — Animation 
  • Az Erdő Kapitánya: All around. For example, Kapitány the dog and Ede the mouse are heroic policemen, Zéró is an evil cat with a snake, toad and magpie as henchmen. There is also a canary opera singer and a parrot professor of linguistics. Subverted by Góliát and Dini, a heroic flea and bat and Pimpike, a friendly and gentle wolf.
  • The Bad Guys (2022) deconstructs this trope by showing how anthropomorphic animals would react to living in a world where they are treated by each species' stereotype:
    • The titular gang is comprised of predatory animals that are well aware of and grew up being feared because of these stereotypes (Savage Wolves, Snakes Are Sinister, Spiders Are Scary, Threatening Shark, and Piranha Problem), and not seeing a future where they could be anything else, they became the very monsters society saw them as. Mr. Wolf makes it clear to Diane during their private conversation that even if he and his friends did reform, no one would believe them anyway.
    • Governor Diane Foxington appears to subvert the Foul Fox stereotype at first, and thanks to this is a beloved leader. In truth, she's a former criminal who, just like the Bad Guys, gave in to stereotypes about her species and was the greatest theif in the world before getting sick of perpetuating fox stereotypes.
    • Professor Marmalade appears to reflect stereotypes of guinea pigs being sweet, innocent and adorable. In contrast to the gang being feared criminals, he's a beloved philanthropist. He's not only Evil All Along, he's far more evil than the Bad Guys and takes advantage of the public's stereotypes to get away with his crimes.
  • In The Elm-Chanted Forest Buddy Bear is lazy and fun-loving but fierce if he needs to be, Fifi Fox is very seductive, and J. Edgar Beaver is wise and hardworking.
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox have most of the stereotypes associated with the animals: Fox is clever and cunning, Mole is shy, Badger is aggressive (as a lawyer should be), Weasel is sneaky, to name a few.
  • Kung Fu Panda:
    • Each of the martial artists, being animals who each practice a style specifically designed after their species. But no-one associates a cute and cuddly species like a Giant Panda with aggression, and yet lead character Po learns to be exactly that. This is emphasized even more by the name the writers chose to give the panda: Po's surname "Ping" means "peace" in Chinese.
    • In addition, while the "slow-as-molasses" turtle stereotype is played laughingly straight in the candle-blowing scene, in flashback Master Oogway hands Tai Lung his family jewels with an amazingly rapid-fire, complex, awe-inspiring pattern of nerve strikes: classic Old Master material.
    • The villagers of the Valley of Peace are dainty little rabbits, ducks, geese and pigs, whereas the guards of Chorh-Gom Prison are brutish, boisterous rhinos (who only get beaten up by Tai Lung to show how powerful he is).
    • The peacocks, wolves and gorillas in Kung Fu Panda 2 are also played straight, with the peacocks being the noble rulers of Gongmen City and the Big Bad being a disgraced prince, while the wolves are savage brutes who show clear pack behavior, and the gorillas are incredibly strong and brutish Giant Mooks.
    • The Soothsayer is a goat with an appetite for non-edible things.
  • The Lion King: The lions rule the Pride Lands as a monarchy, even being accepted as the leaders by the animals they prey upon. The "lion as noble king of the animals" stereotype is found in too many cultures and Fairy Tales to list all of them, some African cultures and Western cultures for example. Hyenas are all portrayed as stupid and evil, also in too many cultures to list, (this is ironic, because in real life hyenas are comparable to apes in intelligence). The Lion Guard still uses hyenas as the main antagonists, but establishes that most hyenas are good.
  • Madagascar subverts several of these tropes. Alex the Lion is hardly brave or powerful (proud on the other hand...) Marty, the Zebra is the farthest thing from elegant, noble, and hard-working (although he is really stereotypically black). Gloria is far from a lazy, slobby hippo. The Penguins are the farthest thing you'll ever get from clumsy. And they don't even like cold weather. In the TV show, the elephant comes across as rather dense, the gorillas are somewhat thuggish, and Phil and Mason (chimps) are rather reserved and dignified.
  • Robin Hood (1973): Foxes are thought to be smart and astute, as Robin Hood should be. Little John is rough and big but good-hearted, which people generally associate with bears. Lions are associated with power so both King Richard and his brother Prince John are represented by lions. Roosters are associated with singing like the minstrel Alan-a-Dale. Snakes are with sly and sneaky like Sir Hiss, wolves are cruel like the Sheriff of Nottingham, and chickens are associated with care and maternity like Lady Kluck. Early on in the development of the film, it was intended to play with this a little more by making the Sheriff of Nottingham a goat instead of a wolf, but this was rejected because it was didn't look convincingly evil enough.
  • The Deconstruction of this trope is one the main themes of Zootopia. Animals are stereotyped and shunned due to the expected characteristics of their species. Rabbits have to be timid and dainty, foxes have to be sly and crafty, and don't get us started on sloths. Further deconstructed by the two protagonists: Judy, a bunny who wants to become a cop, and Nick, a fox who wanted to be honorable and kind, but was bullied by other animals.

  • Probably the Ur-Example are Aesop's Fables, that created many of the modern European animal stereotypes we know. Wolves for example universally play the role of a merciless predator.
  • Charlotte's Web showcases how the deceptive female spider's archetype can use her guile for good: manipulating humans with "miraculous" spider webs to spare the life of Some Pig.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The Animagus and Patronus forms are generally reflective of the personality of the character. Rita Skeeter, the reporter becomes a bug on the wall, listening into conversations. Sirius who stays loyal, even in Azkaban, is a dog. Peter who betrays a secret with deadly price is a rat. Then there is the "noble, but vain braggart" stereotype is very much played straight with James Potter's Animagus form, a stag.
    • All the houses have associated animals:
      • Gryffindor, the house of the brave has the lion.
      • Hufflepuff, the friendly, loyal and down to earth house has the badger.
      • Slytherins, the house of cunning and slyness has the snake, exemplified in Voldemort who lacks a nose, and can speak the language of the snakes.
      • Ravenclaw, house of the intelligent and wise has the eagle for some reason. Possibly because the raven was much too obvious a choice, or because they want you to ask "But why?"
  • Neverwhere:
    • Croup and Vandemar are human (or rather, humanoid - what they actually are isn't specified), but Richard finds they give him a very clear impression of "a fox and a wolf", respectively. Croup is short, redhaired, sneaky, and talkative, while Vandemar is hulking, greyhaired, menacing, ostentatiously carnivorous, and can produce a very wolf-like howl.
    • Similarly, Hunter is frequently compared to a lioness (sleek, tawny, and deadly).
  • The picture book The Rabbit Listened is about a young boy named Taylor who is devastated when a murder of crows knocks over an amazing block tower that he built. He then is approached by a number of animals who behave in stereotypical ways. Among them is bear who encourages him to growl and shout, an elephant who suggests he remember everything exactly the way it was and an ostrich who says they should hide and pretend it never happened. The rabbit of the title fits into the innocent and cuddly type in that it nuzzles up against Taylor and just sits there and listens as the title suggests.
  • Brian Jacques' Redwall series takes this trope and runs with it, as most animal stereotypes are based on British stereotypes.
    • Hares are all Royal Air Force pilots, brave and resolute, while rabbits are fussy middle-class whiners.
    • Shrews are waterfaring warriors based on Liverpool dockworkers.
    • Moles and their famously semi-comprehensible accents are jovial Somerset types. They are designated Tunnel Kings, or expert diggers.
    • Mice tend to be peaceful creatures, but produced some of the series' greatest heroes.
    • Vermin are almost Always Chaotic Evil. What are vermin? Pretty much every mustelid (ferrets, weasels, stoats, pine martens, and even a wolverine once), foxes, and of course rats. For the most part, they're vicious and cowardly, only attack in hordes, and willing to backstab each other without provocation, with only the occasional leader having real skill in single combat without running (see: wolverine). Very few have a Heel–Face Turn to help the heroes.
    • The only exception to the above are otters, who are always Chaotic Good (even when raised by vermin), and badgers, who are the epitome of heroic warriors (with berserker tendencies).
    • Foxes are always cunning by nature and rely on trickery. They won't hesitate at the opportunity to betray or even kill their own kin if it means reaping the benefits for themselves.
    • Squirrels excel in forest warfare, some living as hermits but ready to defend their homes against vermin. They are also expert climbers.
    • Birds tend to be evil opportunists, ravens and crows in particular. Seabirds appear as madbeasts who can't even talk. Falcons and eagles get the Noble Bird of Prey treatment (and are Scottish).
    • Owls actually subvert their fictional wisdom trait.
    • Toads are monstrous swamp-dwelling cannibals (both among themselves and other creatures).
    • Pike are basically freshwater sharks, posing a threat to both heroes and villains.
    • Cats Are Mean (as in, one was A Nazi by Any Other Name) with the exception of a single character.
    • Reptiles Are Abhorrent is played in full force. All snakes are evil monsters who relish murdering their prey with poison or suffocation.
  • Older Than Print is Reynard, a red fox used in Dutch, German, English and French lore to represent a cunning and astute character. One of the most well known of his fables is The Robber Bridegroom by The Brothers Grimm.
  • Tortall Universe
    • In the Song of the Lioness, Alanna eventually starts to be called The Lioness. She is brave, powerful, and prideful - and the King chooses her as his Champion. Given the male lion/royalty association and the whole thing where lionesses do most of the hunting, it's an interesting bit of symbolism.
    • This is invoked all over the place in Beka Cooper. The Provost's Guard are nicknamed "Dogs" as an insult, but take pride in the nickname for the positive aspects—loyal, fierce, able to sniff out crimes and hunt down prey for their master the King. The protagonist, Beka, is nicknamed Terrier, Bloodhound, and Mastiff over the course of her career. Bizarrely, the cover art of at least one addition of Mastiff depicts an animal which is clearly a wolf, which provides very different symbolism.
  • Whateley Universe: One of the superhero classifications is "Avatar", meaning someone who can absorb a spirit and keep it alive, gaining its powers in exchange. These spirits are often (but not always) animal totems/kami of some kind or another, and animal Avatars tend to take on the behavior characteristics of their spirit(s), sometimes physically as well. Aquerna (Middle English for 'squirrel') has the power of the SQUIRREL! She's curious, persistent, family-oriented, and sees herself as insignificant. At Super Hero School Whateley Academy, she's thought of as one of the school losers. She's still better off than the unnamed girl who has the spirit of the hamster, and has grown fur and cheek pouches too. Mongoose has the spirit of the mongoose, and as a result is playful, adventurous, and always looking for new things. There are lots more examples.
  • The Wind in the Willows plays this trope straight. Every character has a personality connected with its animal: Mole is shy and introverted, Rat is relaxed and cunning, Badger is gruff and solitary, Toad is noisy and outgoing, and the Weasels and Stoats are mischievous and tricksters.
  • Both played straight and subverted in the Dragaera novels, where Dragaerans conform to some of the Animal Stereotypes of their respective Houses: Orca are aggressive and predatory, Yendi (snakes) are sneaky and treacherous, Teckla (mice) are timid and victimized, etc.
  • Dog Soldiers in Black Dogs are exceptionally loyal and trustworthy, while the anthropomorphic giant ground sloth is slow and patient and the weasel/ferret character is bloodthirsty and cunning.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has witch Amy turn herself into a rat and remain that way for about three years. When she becomes human again in Season 6, she has a craving for cheese. In Season 8, which takes place a few years later, she still has a constant craving for cheese.
  • As mentioned in the Literature section, the noble families in Game of Thrones trully represent the animal of their houses;
    • Starks have a direwolf, wolves have a pack mentality and live in the wild under very harsh conditions, the Starks are deeply loyal to their family and live in one of the most inhospitable parts of Westeros.
    • Lannisters have a lion, lions are generally associated with intelligence and predatory skills as with power and ambition, characteristics that very well describe the Lannisters.
    • Targaryen have a dragon, Eastern Dragons represent fertility, sexuality and regeneration, things that can be easily associated with the Targaryens, especially Daenerys, whilst Western Dragons are associated with greed and chaos, also something that can be link to the Targaryens, especially those in Westeros like the Mad King.
  • Hannibal invokes this both through protagonist Will Graham and antagonist Hannibal Lecter.
    • Graham not only rescues several stray dogs, but his dog-like blind loyalty and trust is what causes Jack Crawford to push him too far and allows Lecter to get inside his head and control him for his own ends.
    • Lecter, on the other hand, frequently acts with calculating malice, maintains an air of class and sophistication yet remains extremely proud and reserved; not only does this make him very cat-like, but it's even noted:
    Dr. Bloom: I know what you’re afraid of: it’s not pain or solitude, it’s indignity. You’re a little bit like a cat that way.
  • Sylar from Heroes had an overwhelming cockroach theme around him, likely to signify his ambition to evolve, and, as revealed in season 1 finale, to survive, as seen by the very final shot of the first volume, which showed a trail of blood leading from where his corpse was last seen into the sewer, with a cockroach wriggling his antennae to the camera.
  • Most of the characters on Lyra's world in His Dark Materials are this to some extent, what with having their soul (daemon) appear in the shape of an animal at all times. This is most prevalent with Mrs. Coulter, who snarls and fights like her Golden Monkey, and Lord Asriel, who has a quiet intensity like his snow leopard, Stelmaria.
  • It's a Big Big World does a variation on the "slow sloth" stereotype with Snook. Instead of a Lazy Bum, he's an easygoing, laid-back, almost hippie or sufer dude-ish Nice Guy.
  • Snakes on Merlin were always evil. An early villain had a shield with three magical snakes on it, and after Morgana's Face–Heel Turn she often wore a snake necklace, used a small snake for torturing purposes, and had a small hydra-like creature that she used in brainwashing spells. There was also Lamia, a snake-like Vamp.
  • Angela from The Office is fussy, small and prudent. So fittingly, she has a bunch of pet cats, and dresses up as one for Halloween.

  • Tim Minchin's Lament of the Three Toed Sloth is a song about a sloth being unhappy with being so darn slow.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Br'er Rabbit is a Trickster Rabbit of African origin. Going even further, his character originates in folkloric African stories told way before colonial time. Of course, he used to be a spider (viz. Anansi), not a bunny.
  • Coyote and Raven are the Trickster spirits in the lore of some Native American nations.
  • Older Than Dirt: To the Ancient Egyptians vultures, cows, and female hippos were seen as nurturing and motherly, hawks and lions as warlike, bulls and rams as symbols of male virility, and a whole slew of animals (antelope, donkeys, male hippos, pigs, tortoises) as evil. These symbolic meanings were part of the associations between gods and animals, and of depicting gods in animal or animal-headed forms.
  • Ancient British and Medieval Welsh saw night birds like the owls as symbols of evil. The unfaithful Blodeuedd is transformed into an owl for arranging the murder of her husband, Lleu Llaw; the wronged Lleu turns into an eagle when stabbed and flies away. Songbirds meanwhile represent good and the Otherworld - a starling carries Branwen's cry for help to Wales, and later the enchanted Birds of Rhiannon sing to the surviving rescuers to help them forget that they failed.
    • Although the raven, in all Celtic myth, is the personification of the Dark Goddess of war, death, insanity and nightmare. In Irish mythology, she is the Morrigan, triple goddess of death, war and dark dream. As a Raven, she perched over the stone pillar where the hero Cuchullain fought his last battle and died.
    • Cuckoos were a bad omen, associated with grief and loss because their mournful "coo, coo" sounds like "Cw, cw?", Old Welsh for "Where, where?"
  • In Classical Mythology :
    • Athena, goddess of wisdom, was associated with owls, and owls show up on ancient Athenian currency (Athena being the patron goddess of Athens).
    • Ares, god of war and the ravages of war, was associated with serpents and vultures.
    • Poseidon, god of the sea, with horses. (It's because breaking waves look like horses.)
    • Aphrodite, goddess of love, with doves.
    • Artemis, goddess of nature, with deer.
    • Zeus, king of gods, with eagles.
    • Hera, wife of Zeus, with peacocks.
  • Norse Mythology:
    • Most of the Gods and Goddesses in Norse Mythology have a carriage that are drawn by specific animals. These animals have connections to the God/dess's personalities. Cats draw Freya's as a Goddess of War and Love; boars draw Freyr's as a God of Fertility. Goats draw Thor's as a God known for being aggressive and stubborn; he can eat them without killing them, too.
    • Ravens are one of Odin's symbols as a God of Death and Wisdom (ravens were already known for their intelligence).
  • Hyenas have quite a few negative stereotypes associated with them, based mostly on legends and beliefs from North Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Near East that reached the Romans and were written down by Pliny the Elder before being faithfully copied by Christian bestiaries during the Medieval Period.
    • Evil: Being nocturnal scavengers, especially with their ability to completely devour a body and leave not even bones behind, hyenas have long been seen as wicked and vile. Medieval Bestiaries use them as a symbol for the untrustworthy, the two-faced, the greedy and the lustful. This belief still influences Western cultures, and even in their native lands, hyenas are often seen as vile creatures — the Korè cult in Mali symbolically become and emulate hyenas specifically to put on elaborate morality plays.
    • Supernatural: Hyenas have often been associated with dark magic, with many regions claiming that they were mimics who imitated human voices to lure humans to their deaths. Several regions also have their own beliefs in were-hyenas. The former Bornu Empire used to believe in the bultungin, men who turned into hyenas. Ethiopia still believes in the tradition of the bouda, a shapeshifting, corpse-eating, blacksmithing wizard or witch who assumes a hyena form at night. In Western Sudan, stories were told of evil wizards with a prediliction for human flesh, especially that of lovers, turning into nightmarish half-man half-hyena creatures. Persians once told stories of the child-slaughtering were-hyenas known as Kaftars. There's also the belief in Arabian folklore that hyenas were blood-drinking vampires with mind-controlling powers, and Greeks believed that slain werewolves would return as vampiric hyenas up until the 19th century.
    • Sexuality and Perversion: Spotted hyenas were originally believed to be Sex Shifters, routinely switching between male and female to mate and give birth, because of the female's infamous pseudo-penis. Meanwhile, the striped hyena's association has long led it being hunted down in Africa to make talismans from its vulva and anus, which are traditionally believed to be powerful magical tools for attracting sexual partners. It's so prevalent that there is a saying in some parts of Africa to this day; "to have the anus of a hyena" is used to refer to someone who easily gets sex.
  • All animals of the Chinese Zodiac have characteristics associated with the animal that are suppose to affect people born that year, like for example Dogs are loyal, Rats are cunning, and so on. The Western Zodiac also have something similar, as for example the people under the Leo sign are suppose to be very dominant, the people under Scorpio to be very sly and vengeful, people under Aries to be very impulsive and stubborn, etc., Of course not all signs in the Western Zodiac are animals so the trope is only partial.
  • In historical alegorical representations of the Seven Deadly Sins of Catholic and orthodox Christain doctrine certain animals show up time and again representing each of the seven. Pride (Superbia) is depicted as a peacock or less commonly a horse, Greed (Avaritia) is generally represented by a toad or fox, Wrath (Ira) is represented by a lion, bull, or wolf, Envy (Invidia) is most commonly tied to snakes, Lust (Luxuria) is usually depicted as a goat though bulls and cocks also make appearances, Gluttony (Gula) is a pig, or a dog with more bones than it can fit in its mouth, and Sloth (Acedia) is usually depiced as a snail, bear or donkey.

  • Done all over the place in Police Force:
    • The main protagonists are a lion and a leopard (powerful and majestic).
    • The backup policemen are a rhinoceros and two dogs (one incompetent cop and two loyal ones).
    • The main villains are a rat, a shark, a weasel, and a crocodile (animals with various unsavory traits).
    • The Big Bad is a Tyrannosaurus rex (badass top of the foodchain).
    • One of the civilians is a fox vixen wearing a fur coat (sexy and confident).
    • A model in a fashion store is a peacock (vain and pompous).
    • The candidate in a political billboard is a bald eagle (patriotic).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Deadlands: Magical Native Americans come with their Guardian Spirits. The personalities of these spirits are described in terms of actual Native American/First Nations Animal Stereotypes, and if the canon shamans are any indication, the spirits are drawn to humans who have personalities similar to their own, making for easy Animal Motifs in Player Characters.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The spells which boost an ability score are all named after an animal: Bull's Strength (Strength), Cat's Grace (Dexterity), Bear's Endurance (Constitution), Fox's Cunning (Intelligence), Owl's Wisdom (Wisdom) and Eagle's Splendor (Charisma).
    • Becoming a lycanthrope changes the victim's Character Alignment to match the way their animal form is commonly perceived (actual animals are always True Neutral): werewolves and wererats become Chaotic Evil, werebears become Lawful Good, and wereboars and weretigers become True Neutral. It's mentioned that "sinister animals" like wolves and snakes tend to produce evil lycanthropes, while "noble animals" like eagles and lions tend towards good. However, the Forgotten Realms setting also has the Lythari, a separate lineage of elf werewolves who reproduce through voluntary rituals and are Chaotic Good like most elves.
    • Forgotten Realms: Drizzt Do'Urden has Guenwyvar, his magic panther. Both are stealthy, graceful, and noble but deadly. They're also both black — Drizzt has a drow's coal-black skin, Guenwyvar is specifically a black panther.
    • Planescape: Characters who spend too much time in the Beastlands tend to develop animalistic traits along these lines — for instance, strong warriors may grow bear or gorilla fur, a wily rogue may grow mouse or rabbit whiskers or snake scales, a wise priest may sprout owl feathers, and a flamboyant bard may grow a peacock's tail.
    • Ravenloft: Lampshaded in the Wildlands domain. It's Africa populated with Talking Animals, and the description notes that the different animals' personalities match the human stereotypes associated with them.
  • Ironclaw: As the players are anthropomorphic animals, there is a long list of stereotypes for each species. Some of these are unique to the setting, such as gray foxes being inbred aristocrats.
  • World Tree (RPG): Most species play fairly directly into their associated animals' stereotypes — the dogfolk are social, loyal, community-minded and obsessed with pedigree, the otterfolk are playful, fun-loving and fond of water, the bearfolk are gruff and fierce but honorable, the talking panthers are cunning, amoral and fond of hunting, and so on. This holds among the non-primes as well, with savage hyena-centaurs, hyperactive ferret people and the like.

  • Each of the Purr-Tenders] disguised themselves as an animal that somehow matched their personality. Hop-purr, for instance, was generically cute and cuddly, but smart enough to come up with the whole deception in the first place. Romp-purr was a playful, sport-loving Tomboy, and pretended to be a dog, while Shrinking Violet Scamp-purr chose to be a mouse. Perhaps the oddest of the lot was Flop-purr, whose disguise and personality seemed to be based on Daffy Duck.

    Video Games 
  • Hatoful Boyfriend:
    • The three white fantails, a fancy breed, in the game are all stuck-up and narcissistic to varying degrees - Sakuya is a racist aristocrat, Yuuya is an overconfident Tuxedo and Martini spy and Oko San acts like a slightly spoiled pet bird who hits you if he doesn't like what you're saying.
    • The feral pigeon, Ryouta, has to take what he can get in terms of jobs, is sickly and comes from a rough background, but does okay due to his opportunistic and go-getting nature.
    • The mourning dove, Nageki, is depressed, lonely and a ghost.
    • Anghel the Luzon bleeding-heart, a bird appearing to have a huge wound on its chest surrounded by legends of being marked by Jesus's blood, is a melodramatic Large Ham with a massive love of religious Faux Symbolism.
    • The Chukar Partridge, Shuu, is a creepy doctor, since the bird has red-rimmed eyes that look like glasses and a call that (after the 'chu-KAR' which gave it its name) sounds like a creepy 'ho ho ho' chuckle. Also, in Punjabi legend, the Chukar is a symbol of eternal, unrequited love due to belief that it constantly gazes at the Moon. Shuu's motivation in the BBL route is his unrequited love for the rock dove, Ryuuji, which leads him to planning to make humans extinct.
  • Metal Gear Solid is more subtle, but deserves note for using snakes as a symbol of rebirth (think ouroboros) rather than evil.
  • Potionomics has Luna, a moth-human woman that's addicted to her phone and loves the bustle of the city...or in other words, a bug attracted to bright lights.
  • Solatorobo has the Caninu and Felineko races. Caninu are described as loyal, friendly, good at physical labor, and like eating hard foods. Felineko are described as fiercely independent, quite aggressive, moody, calculating, and agile. One stereotype that only applies in-universe is the Caninu's proficiency for technology contrasted by the Felineko's proficiency for magic.
  • Star Fox, as Furries IN SPACE!, naturally has many characters fitting these stereotypes. Fox McCloud is cunning, Andross (a monkey) is the Big Bad (several of his henchmen are monkeys as well), Wolf is the evil rival, and so on.
  • Touhou Project games, with their abundance of Youkai, hit a few.
    • Shou in UFO is a tiger youkai, and a perfect Tiger archetype: very proud, a natural leader, and very powerful.
    • Shou's subordinate Nazrin is a mouse youkai, and fits the more gentle rodent type: a tiny, tiny, clever commander, cute, trustworthy, and good at finding treasure.
    • Utsuho, the Final Boss of Subterranean Animism, is a raven, but while menacing and dangerous thanks to her new powers, she's not particularly clever.
    • Rin, a cat youkai (kasha), doesn't really fit the cat archetype. She follows the player through three stages, but she's not malicious so much as she is just doing her job (thereby avoiding the lazy and self-centered archetypes).
    • Yamame is a spider youkai (tsuchigumo)... and is pretty much the opposite of the spider archetype. She's a generous, fun-loving socialite who refuses to use her plague-inducing powers on others.
    • The goddess Kanako, the Final Boss of Mountain of Faith, uses snakes as her symbol, but again, she's not so much malicious as she is Chaotic Neutral and secretive about her activities. She uses the wisdom and rebirth associations of the snake as much as she does the predatory aspect.
    • The crow tengu Aya (Phantasmagoria of Flower View, Shoot the Bullet, Mountain of Faith, and Double Spoiler) and her rival Hatate (Double Spoiler) are often portrayed to be clever, but not particularly menacing (unless it involves blackmail).
    • The wolf tengu Momiji (Mountain of Faith, Double Spoiler) was originally portrayed by fandom as a puppy-dog archetype, but her appearances in Double Spoiler paint her more as a lone wolf.
    • Reisen in Imperishable Night is a Moon Rabbit, but probably fits the hare archetype best: her escape from the moon war (flight), her alliance with the exiled Lunarians at Eientei (cleverness), and her insanity-inducing gaze (mystery).
    • Tewi/Tei, a normal rabbit youkai, is cute, lucky, and a Bugs Bunny-esque trickster, perfectly fitting a more normal rabbit archetype.
    • Mystia, a sparrow youkai, is cute, upbeat, prone to bragging about skills she doesn't have, and clever, matching the sparrow stereotype.
    • Ran in Perfect Cherry Blossom isn't canonly shown to fulfill any of the fox stereotypes, though this can be explained by her servitude to Yukari. Fanonly, she has a streaking habit, which can be sexy and a sign of confidence.
    • Chen is a curious, cute Cat Girl.
    • Fanonly, Sakuya Izayoi from Embodiment of Scarlet Devil is associated with dogs due to her loyalty and ferocity. Unusual here in that Sakuya is a human.
    • Kana Anaberal from the PC-98 exclusive Phantasmagoria of Dim.Dream is a Cute Ghost Girl with a faint bird motif, and is tragic, fitting the "bird with broken wings" aspect.
    • Genji the turtle, Reimu's trusty steed in the PC-98 games, is old, wise, and a tad snarky. He's also flight-capable.
  • Warcraft III: The Night Elf druids, who could switch between Elf and animal form, showed the stereotypes of their animal form even as elves. The Druids of the Claw, who could turn into bears, seemed slow paced, fond of long naps, but very dangerous when angered. The Druids of the Talon, who could turn into crows, were mysterious, slick and silent. The snake worshipping Druids of the Fang are of course pure evil. White Wolf's tabletop RPG claims there are good druids of the fang and the ones encountered ingame are a freak incident but in World of Warcraft they didn't start calling themselves druids of the fang until after they turned evil.

  • The Dawn Chapel features a short story, The Apex Predator, wherein a proud lion is presented with a series of affronts to his dignity, none of which are handled gracefully.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: Kat draws cats on a few of her machines. Antimony carries a wolf doll at almost all times. Reynardine is a fox demon who seems to be undergoing a Heel–Face Turn since possessing said wolf doll. Ysengrin, on the other hand, fits the evil wolf stereotype, with the twist that he's less a wolf than he used to be. Coyote is Coyote.
    • Later on Ysegrin has been shown to be sagely and wise. He just doesn't like humans at all. He's simply pretending to be a dumb brute.
    • Kat also has enough of a connection to pigeons that during one chapter Zimmy sees one on her head spouting out all her thoughts.
  • Homestuck features twelve characters, the trolls, all of which have a theme animal. When the troll is a match for their theme animal, it's usually played straight, as with the eternally angry Karkat, whose theme animal is a crab; but on the other hand, Tavros is a general subversion of his bull, being shy, slow-tempered, and generally harmless, as opposed to bold, easily-angered, and intimidating.
  • Outside Interference has a rabbit named Hollie, who's apparently quite hung up on... what rabbits are famous for.
  • There is a spell some magic users in Roommates know, that animates the target's shadow in the shape of an animal that fits his/her darker nature. The main cast got: owl (the Monster Roommate, Jareth), wolf (Inspector Javert), panther (the Trap Master Mad Artist, Erik) and eagle (the Token Good Teammate, James). The most interesting and to date unexplained is Jareth's father who has human for some reason.

    Web Animation 
  • Sheriff Hayseed contains an interesting inversion of this trope. The titular character, Todd Hayseed, is a fox, and his deputy, Shawn, is a donkey. However, despite the stereotype that foxes are clever and donkeys are stupid, Shawn is easily the smarter of the pair.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Beast Wars: It's both averted and utilized, depending on the character. Some, like Rattrap, Cheetor, Silverbolt (wolf/eagle hybrid), Inferno, Tarantulas and Blackarachnia fit their animal's stereotypes exactly. Others, like Tigatron, Rhinox and Optimus (a gorilla) don't have the kind of personalities their animal implies. For instance, Tigatron (a tiger) is a pacifist, Rhinox (a rhino) is the smartest and calmest member of the Maximals and Optimus (a gorilla) is the most serious member.
  • BoJack Horseman is the king of this trope. It's set in a world where every single animal and insect is half human, along with regular humans, and every animal joke you can think of with that setup is there. It's also used for surprisingly rich characterisation colour:
    • BoJack is a horse. He is proud, affectionate, stubborn and capable, but also skittish, submissive, impulsive, and prone to running away from his problems. Running, in particular, is a motif for his character, showing up to indicate freedom or that he's 'running in circles'.
    • Cat Princess Carolyn is smart, predatory and good at solving problems - "Princess Carolyn always lands on her feet!"
    • Dog Mr Peanutbutter is an open-hearted, perpetually optimistic goofball who is full of excitement about the most trivial things, and deeply loyal. He also has no common sense at all.
    • Dolphin Sextina Aquafina summarises her personality - "I'm a dolphin, we have sex for plea-sure".
  • Classic Disney Shorts:
  • Codename: Kids Next Door featured an episode where all the kids were turned into animals. Japanese Numbuh 3 turns into a crane, fat Numbuh 2 into a hippopotamus, and Australian Numbuh 4 into a koala. The highlight, however, is the bossy and belligerent Numbuh 86 turning into an Irish Setter. A female Irish Setter.
    Numbuh 44 Twin 1: Well, THAT figures.
  • Darkwing Duck: An episode that has Bushroot creating and wanting to marry the vampire potato also has a weasel trucker pick up the heroes and give them some intelligent advice. He looks evil, but was very amiable.
  • As well as being the source of a Punny Name, the use of dogs in Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds reinforces the Musketeers' virtue of loyalty. The villain Milady, a cat, exhibits feline cunning.
  • Elinor Wonders Why: Played straight in many cases, averted in others. For example, Mr. Cat does indeed hate getting wet, but Elinor (her dad as well) is an only child (meaning her parents have not "multiplied like rabbits").
  • Get Muggsy! plays raccoon, opossum and beaver straight, but averts most of the spider stereotypes.
  • Hip-Hip and Hurra has plenty of jokes based upon stereotypes of various animals. Some are however averted.
  • Some of the characters from Kaeloo. Mr. Cat is Smileyland's resident jerk, Stumpy the squirrel is hyperactive and rather stupid, Kaeloo the frog is cheerful and smotheringly "friendly", albeit somewhat weird and Eugly the rabbit is a very nice person. Subverted with Quack-Quack the duck, Pretty the rabbit, Olaf the penguin and Bad Kaeloo the toad as Quack-Quack is a talented genius who is also a Nice Guy, Pretty is an Alpha Bitch who is far from sweet, Olaf is not exactly "cheerful" and Bad Kaeloo is a monstrous she-toad with little obvious intelligence and a horrific mean streak.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: The timbercats live in a town of trees carved into giant cat trees, swing across these trees on giant yarn balls, are easily distracted by small moving objects, and are facing a major crisis because their leader got stuck in a tree while chasing a giant butterfly.
  • Let's Go Luna!: Julien the snail from "C'est La Vie A Paris" speaks very slowly, fitting how snails are known to be slow, and also the relaxing, easygoing nature of Paris.
  • Looney Tunes both uses and inverts the trope for irony's sake. Bugs Bunny is the ultimate in "tricky" rabbits (the most famous Karmic Trickster) and Pepe Le Pew's smells 24/7, while Porky Pig is an uptight neat freak and Sylvester is an uncommonly stupid and ungraceful cat.
  • 1986 French animated series Moi Renart, as the name indicates, takes the general myth of "Tale of the Fox" and turn it in an animated show with anthropomorphic animals (basically humans bodies with animal heads) living in a mundane modern environment and situations, long before BoJack Horseman.
  • Shaun the Sheep: The farm animals have about human-level intelligence, but the sheep are dim and easily led, Bitzer regards his master with appropriately doglike devotion, the pigs are greedy and superior, the cat is evil, etc.
  • Skunk Fu! subverts Rabbit, Tiger, and Mantis, while Skunk, Fox, the Monkeys, and Turtle are played straight.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): Tiger Claw and Bradford discuss how Xever thought the two of them wouldn't get along, just because Tiger Claw is a cat and Bradford is a dog. Both of them agree that it's ridiculous to hate each other for such a silly reason. Tiger Claw then admits that he wants to eat Xever because he's a fish. Bradford wants to eat Xever too, but only to shut him up.
  • ThunderCats (2011): This is frequently Played With with Third Earth's many varieties of Beast Man, with accompanying Intelligent Gerbil characterization. Cats can be mean, magic or superior, Lions are the King of Beasts, Lizards are abhorrent and so on. Elephants, while very wise, notably subvert the classic trope that Elephants Never Forget by collectively having incredibly poor memories, for which they are apparently infamous.

Alternative Title(s): Animal Stereotype