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Anthropomorphic Shift

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"I think when you get to the point where a car is holding and firing a pistol with his tire/hand, you have to ask yourself: Why are they even cars anymore?!?"
...of SCIENCE!

Book one of the Furry Woodland Critters series introduced a society of Civilized Animals, all living much like real animals do — squirrels eat acorns, bears are bigger than rabbits, and no one has the faintest clue what money is. The idea of predation may be hand waved, but other than that, all those Talking Animals are somewhat believable as, well, animals (only sapient ones).

A few years later, you're wandering through the bookstore, and spot book 20 in the series. Except... now everyone's wearing clothing, cranky old Mr. Rabbit runs a general-store, Mr. Wolf lives right next-door to him and Miss Mouse and Mrs. Cougar both wear the same dress size. What happened?

The series went through Anthropomorphic Shift, that's what.

Anthropomorphic Shift is what happens when animal and anthropomorphic characters in a work become progressively more human-like in appearance and behavior in later installments - faces get flatter, sizes even out, the rabbit burrow gains a TV and curtains, the female turtle gets breasts... until a few books/seasons/direct-to-DVD sequels down the line, you might as well be looking at a human society, where people just happen to have a few animal-like features. Think of it as Humanoid Female Animal except everyone is now.

Why? Because it's easier for us. Easier to write or draw, easier to deliver An Aesop, easier for the younger audience to understand and sympathize with the characters when they don't even have to think about Mr. Wolf being nearly color-blind (if they knew, maybe even you didn't until now) and just how Ms. Deer baked those cookies with those hooves (and nor should you really). Preschool children's series are especially prone to this, hence why we used all those naming conventions that you might find in a series like that. It reflects worse on us.

Can also be used in reference to when individual characters, rather than an entire setting, gradually become more like humans; see also Feather Fingers and Non-Mammal Mammaries. Compare Furries Are Easier to Draw. See also Furry Confusion. Compare and contrast Art Evolution, Most Writers Are Human, Anthropomorphic Transformation. When the character occasionally slips back to their animalistic behaviors, it could be an example of a Furry Reminder. When a character constantly shifts back and forth between animalistic animal and humanistic animal, its an Anthropomorphic Zig-Zag. If the characters become more anthropomorphic in-universe due to aging, that's Adults Are More Anthropomorphic.

Be careful with this trope; while it can be used to make the characters more relatable, some genres like Mons or pet raising simulators derive appeal from the creatures being pets and turning them into what is essentially small children might result in a Broken Base. If it is done as part of a retool it may also run into the same problems as the trope Younger and Hipper, especially if older audience members catch on.

Compare Bishounen Line for monsters and villains. Contrast Adaptational Nonsapience.


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  • The GEICO Gecko. In his early appearances, he was very gecko-like in movement, gripping onto the (full-size) microphone with all four feet to talk into it, walking on all fours, and doing the eyeball-lick maneuver geckos are famous for. By now, his mannerisms are a hundred percent human, despite legs that are too short for it, and the result really isn't that cute. This shift coincided with the change from complaining about the name similarity to straight shilling the company, as well as changing to a completely different accent. We can probably safely conclude that the anthro and non-anthro Geckos are actually different characters.
  • The Hippo and Duck from the Silentnight Mattress adverts. In the original 1980s advert, a relatively "real" looking hippo (apart from standing on his hind legs and wearing pyjamas) shares a mattress with a perfectly realistic looking duck, who - despite the voiceover referring to "your partner" - is apparently just there to demonstrate that it (it doesn't even seem appropriate to call it "she" at this point) doesn't roll towards him. By the 2000s, the adverts had switched to cartoons, and become this example of Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action.
  • The Charmin bears. In the original adverts, they were cartoon bears who lived in the wild and would use Charmin toilet paper, a pun on what bears do in the woods. Over time, the bears became CGI, switched from a semi-realistic pastel brown to red or blue to symbolize their Ultra Strong (red) or Ultra Soft (blue) variants, and the advertisements had them live in homes, talk like humans, and even go through airports.
  • When Bongo the chimp became the sole spokes-character for Danimals yogurt in the early 2000s, he went from a non-anthropomorphic Talking Animal to a Totally Radical fully-dressed funny animal who was now as big as a human. He has gotten even less animal-like since then as well, to the point that his current design now looks more like Peter's monkey form in Jumanji than a normal monkey.
  • Louie the Fly was designed as a realistic six-legged fly at first, albeit one with a slightly cartoony face. With his return, he was redesigned as a four-limbed, scarf wearing fly, his design getting more humanoid throughout redesigns.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Digimon
    • While this didn't happen to individual Digimon, it did happen with the design ethos of Digimon as a whole. In the initial birth of the franchise, humanoid Digimon were still given lots of unhuman traits to make sure the audience knew that they were still monsters. For instance, Angemon being The Faceless and possessing downy fur, and he was one of the most human ones. As the franchise progressed, new humanoid Digimon became more overtly humanoid and less monstrous: compare the fluffy and The Faceless enigmatic Angemon and Angewomon to Lucemon or Tinkermon (who are both essentially human children with wings and tattoos (and claws in the case of Tinkermon)), for example.
    • Traditional anthropomorphic shift can still be seen in a handful of Digimon species. For example, comparing the scaly and reptilian Agumon from the original Virtual Pet to the round, glove-wearing Agumon from Digimon Data Squad. Or comparing subspecies, like the more dinosauroid Greymon to the more human-proportioned Geo Greymon.
      • Even more commonly, this happens within a single Digimon line, as a Digimon digivolves to the Mega level. For example Metalgreymon to Wargreymon.
  • During the early years of the then new Sanrio character Cinnamoroll, Cinnamoroll would sometimes be seen sitting like an actual puppy rather then standing up on two feet most of the time. In an old Sanrio flash video made in 2002, Cinnamoroll (Then called "Baby Cinnamon")previously used to make Cinnamoroll making barking and howling noises (Similar to Chibimaru another non-talking Sanrio character). Sanrio later redesigned Cinnamoroll's body to look more human like in the mid 2000s and later made Cinnamoroll speak for the first time in the "Fluffy, Fluffy Cinnamoroll" manga series in 2005, and again in the 2007 anime film "Cinnamon The Movie".
  • In Puella Magi Kazumi Magica, a spinoff of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, the witches look more or less human-like, as opposed to the Eldritch Abominations they were in the original. Later justified when they are revealed to be human women who were turned into witches; once the "regular" witches show up, they look just as incomprehensible as in the original anime.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • It's very minor compared to other examples but Meowth has gotten less Pokemon-ish with time. In Kanto he had a more cat-like way of walking, instead of standing perfectly straight, he had more Furry Reminders, and he was rounder like a cat. He often forgets that he isn't human.
    • As for the franchise as a whole, the later generations (especially Generation 3 onwards) introduced more obviously humanoid Pokemon than those preceding. Even Series Mascot Pikachu has gained a slighter more humanoid appearance over time, instead of the more chunky, rodent-like appearance it had early on.
  • Inverted with Komasan in Yo-kai Watch: Shadowside. In the original series, he's a bipedal Komainu who looks more like a Cute Kitten than the animal he's supposed to be, but in Shadowside, he's quadrupedal and looks more realistic.

    Comic Books 
  • A minor example from the Swedish children's comic Bamse: As time went on character designs became more and more anthropomorphic (although they had always been very much so) as an example, quite a few of the early characters are stark naked (except for well, fur) while later characters tends to wear full human clothing.
  • An intentional example of this phenomenon is the Franco-Belgian comic Chick Bill, an animal cowboy in The Wild West. The artist, Gilbert Gascard aka "Tibet", wanted to draw his characters human, but Executive Meddling prevented him, so he started drawing them as furries and then gradually turned them human.
  • The Belgian comic Chlorophylle began with two adventuring mice, who spent several adventures before wandering into a miniature rodent society where they became Amateur Sleuth Intrepid Reporters. The comic later got a TV show from it (and a pretty good one too), but it instead goes straight into Furry Confusion... As it combines mostly anthropomorphic puppets with live animals. And there's no particular difference in intelligence either.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics):
      • Strangely inverted in the Archie Sonic comics with Drago Wolf; before, he was just as humanoid as the other prominent Mobian characters. In a later comic, though, he was redesigned to be more feral and werewolf-esque, complete with more animalistic eyes and digitigrade feet instead of plantigrade like he normally had.
      • Played straight in that issue with Lupe, who almost looked human in her detailed, muscular proportions. On the other hand, every other wolf in that issue were similar to their classic design, and Drago had received cybernetic implants, so it's possible those were just cosmetic modifications. When she returned post-reboot, her proportions were simplified to resemble those of the game characters.
      • A drastic version took place in the Archie comics after Worlds Collide and the resulting Cosmic Retcon: Muttski, Sonic's ordinary pet dog, was changed into a full-fledged anthropomorphic character. Similarly, the Egg Boss Akhlut went from a realistic orca with cybernetic parts to a bipedal, stylized one.
      • This happened to a lot of characters to varying degrees due to said Cosmic Retcon, likely due to Sega introducing a much more rigid style guide for characters for the franchise as a whole. In particular, Dulcy the Dragon (along with every other dragon in the comic) went from behind a slightly anthromorphised but still very much a typical dragon to a bipedal dragon. These changes were polarizing for the fans as well, some appreciated the greater visual consistency but also believed that the new style was way too rigid and makes every species look too similar, while some fans thought the old style was more interesting and made Sonic's world more diverse. Note that while the Archie series was ultimately cancelled and the comics were rebooted by IDW into something much, much closer to the games, the same criticisms regarding this trope from fans have largely carried over.
    • In Sonic the Comic, Sonic's allies Porker Lewis and Jonny Lightfoot start off as cute little animal critters like those busted out of Badniks in the games. They talk, but they're small, animal proportioned, without clothes and tend to go on all fours. Their shift, however, is anything but gradual: in issue #21 of the series, they are totally bipedal, human-proportioned and fully clothed (in biker jackets and jeans, to be precise). Within a few more issues, Porker's hooves became ordinary human hands. Further Art Evolution would also eventually make Jonny and Porker a good bit taller than the main cast. This also occurred to minor characters like Sally Acorn, who cameoed as a humanoid news reporter issues after being seen as a small squirrel.
  • In Robert Crumb's Fritz the Cat, Duke the Crow and Fritz crash a stolen car, and Duke flies Fritz onto the bridge before the car crashes into the river. In the movie, however, Duke grabs onto a railing because Ralph Bakshi disliked the idea of having anthropomorphic characters behave like animals to further the plot.
  • Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch was introduced as a normal cat Familiar to Sabrina. In the 1990s they ReTooled his character to make him a warlock who had turned into a cat, giving Salem the ability to talk and act more like a human than before.
  • Super Boy: In issue #131, The Space Canine Patrol Agents were quadrupedal and wore only collars. By the next issue, however, they shifted to walking on two legs and became Fully Dressed Cartoon Animals. Reversed in Krypto The Super Dog (in which they were renamed to The Dog Star Patrol) where they go back to being quadrupedal.

    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield still acts mostly like a cat but just look at his earliest strips (before 1982) and compare them to now. Once he learned to walk on his hind legs, all bets were off. Odie has retained his inability to talk (or... "think-talk"), but otherwise does not resemble the slobbering pooch from the comic's early days. He's still The Ditz, though.
  • Snoopy from Peanuts, after Charlie Brown taught him to walk upright in 1958. Oddly, the 1990s found him somewhat reverting to more dog-like behavior, occasionally departing only for an Imagine Spot as the World War I Flying Ace.
  • The title character of Pogo used to look much more like a real possum. Walt Kelly says that was a problem before Growing the Beard.
  • In the early years of the strip, the all-avian cast of Shoe was little more than talking birds, and Roz's Roost was little more than a bird feeder. The strip later evolved to make the birds more humanlike, with all of them wearing clothes and the females sporting Non-Mammal Mammaries.
  • Inverted in Calvin and Hobbes: While he still tended to walk upright, unless about to pounce Calvin, Hobbes became increasingly more cat-like as the strip progressed (Watterson himself even noted of it), and would often be seen doing typical cat things such as sleeping in front of the window, and scratching himself with his foot when left to his own devices.
  • Bill the Cat from Bloom County became considerably taller and somewhat more human-proportioned over time.
  • At least partly justified with Otto in Beetle Bailey — in between his being a regular dog who kind of looked like his master (Sergeant Snorkel), and his being a Barefoot Cartoon Animal dressed almost exactly like his master, there's one strip about an escalating "pets arms race" between Snorkel and another sergeant that culminates in Snorkel dressing Otto up as a human.
  • The animals from Mother Goose and Grimm are noticeably more humanoid now than they were when the strip began.

    Fan Works 
  • Inverted in a Warriors Fix Fic called Warriors Redux. The writer has several posts complaining that the cats are too anthropomorphic and too inaccurate. The AU changes a bunch of this and makes them less like "fur-coated people" (as the writer says) and more like actual cats. Warriors Redux is written more like Watership Down and less like Warriors.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Amazingly enough, Godzilla falls under this as well. During the 1960s-1970s he became less nuclear dinosaur hell-bent on destroying Japan and more kid-friendly dinosaur hero with a sense of humor. This is evident when you notice that Godzilla used pseudo-wrestling moves to defeat his enemies rather than his claws and teeth in later films. Heck, even Godzilla's LOOK became more anthropomorphic during the 1960s-1970s. Just compare how he looked in the original 1954 film to how he looked in 1974.
  • The Rock-Biter had this in The Neverending Story. In the first movie, he is a giant creature sitting in the mountains. In the third he is living with his family in a Sitcom-like household which even (somewhat undermining the series' message) has a TV.
  • Son of the Mask: Otis is normally a regular dog, but when he puts on the mask, he transforms into a more anthropomorphic dog that can switch from two-legged to four-legged stances.

  • Another children's book-and-TV series: Franklin. The eponymous turtle, in his earliest books written in the mid-80s, was much more to-scale in comparison with his friends Bear, Fox, and Otter. By the time the TV series aired, all animals were the same size and Franklin lost his more distinctly reptilian features such as his claws. At the very least, he's still recognizable as a turtle. In the early books, many of the characters (including Franklin's parents) walked on all fours. Rabbit and Fox still sometimes walked on all fours in the first season of the TV series, although in later seasons they walked on two legs.
  • The first book in the Redwall series involves elements such as a horse pulling a hay cart that's obviously proportioned for humans and describes a church with mice living in it as "abandoned"; the implication being it was abandoned by its builders [humans]. This coupled with one anomalous reference to "Portugal" makes it seem as though the mice and vermin characters are simply animals living at the margins of the real world. Later books Retcon these elements away to present a world populated solely by the animal characters.
  • While mild compared to many examples, in the Duncton Wood books, the shift in mole behavior between the first book and its extension to a trilogy, and especially between the first and second trilogies, is quite noticeable. They somehow cease to be, in the reader's mind, examples of the burrowing mammalian creature Talpa Europaea, and become hobbits in moleskin trousers. It might be to do with the evolved talpan society, organised religion, the power to write and create, and the pitiless religious wars.
  • Angelina Ballerina actually portrayed all of the mice as Civilized Animals in both the books and the first cartoon series, but they are fully anthropomorphized in the CGI cartoon series.
  • The mice in the film adaptation of The Tale of Despereaux are more anthropomorphized than the ones in the book.
  • In the One Stormy Night books the characters look like regular animals. The manga and film made them slightly more anthropomorphic but they're still very natural looking. The 2012 cartoon based off the books gave them more human-like expressions. For comparisons sake.
  • Played for Drama in Animal Farm. Initially, the pigs insist that Humans Are the Real Monsters — a murderous, exploitative ruling class that must be driven away for animals to thrive. By the end of the book, no one can tell the pigs from the humans.
  • Reversed in J.R.R. Tolkien's books. The Hobbit has a lot of talking animals, including giant wolves, birds and even wallets. There is also some anthropomorphism, for example Beorn's pets includes dogs that walk on their hind legs and carry trays and dishes on their forepaws. However, the more adult sequel, The Lord of the Rings, has no anthropomorphic animals, and only a few characters can actually speak to animals. But it does have anthropomorphic tree-like creatures.
  • In the French medieval novel Le Roman de Renart, the early tales depict the main protagonists as talking animals, just going they usual animal business (i.e. trying to catch some hens or breaking into the local farmer's cellar to steal some sausages). By the end of the series, Renart and the other animals act like human members of the medieval society; including donning armor and swords for fighting.
  • In the Toot & Puddle books, the pigs Toot, Puddle and Opal all appear much more porcine than they do on the television series based on the books. They even sometimes appear naked in the books, something that is never seen on the television show.
  • Behavior-wise, some of this occurs in Warrior Cats. In early books, males are noted as not being present in their children's lives. In later arcs, that would be deemed Parental Neglect or Parental Abandonment and is looked down upon.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Red Dwarf, the overtly catlike aspects of The Cat's personality became progressively less prominent (to the point of being vestigial) as the series progressed, essentially making him a regular character who happens to be selfish and obsessed with his appearance. A scrapped episode, acted out through storyboard drawings and narrated by Chris Barrie as a special feature on the Season 7 DVD, would have addressed this change in Cat's character. Essentially, spending so much time among humans/humanoids was revealed to have "domesticated" him, causing him to lose his catlike traits and instincts.
  • Happened a couple of times in Doctor Who:
    • The Silurians became dramatically more anthropomorphic and Hotter and Sexier in the new series compared to what they were like in the Classic series. For instance, the modern Silurians have Non-Mammal Mammaries and obviously female faces and voices, whereas the Matriarchy of the Classic Silurians was a big plot twist made possible by how all the female Silurians look quite masculine to human eyes.
    • Zig-zagged by the Cybermen. What made them so monstrous in their first appearance in "The Tenth Planet" was how humanlike they were in physical appearance, combined with how utterly alien they are psychologically and in mannerisms (having far less humanlike personalities even than the Daleks). Later encounters made them less humanlike physically, but more humanlike in terms of personality, experiencing human emotions like fear and rage that were beyond comprehension of them in their first appearance.
  • Moon Knight (2022): In ancient Egyptian mythology, Ammit, a deity part crocodile, lion and hippo who devoured the hearts of the diseased considered to be wicked after being judged, was portrayed as an animalistic being walking on four legs. In the series, she receives more humanoid features and is bipedal instead — more akin to some portrayals of Sobek — with her lion and hippo characteristics being toned down.

  • Played straight, then inverted with Alvin and the Chipmunks. On their first several albums, they looked more (or in the case of the very first album, almost entirely) like real chipmunks, then when The Alvin Show first premiered, they were redesigned to look more like kids, but still retained a few rodent-like features. Then when Alvin and the Chipmunks aired in the 80s they gradually began to look more like regular kids and less like rodents. Then when the movies came out, they went back to looking like real chipmunks, although not as much as on the old albums.

    Theme Parks 

  • The ponies in My Little Pony were originally Nearly Normal Animals who slept in stables. By the animated adaptation they had moved into sleeping in beds and had more human-like personalities and interests. This continued throughout G1 until ponies had multiple sets of clothes and had a human-like society. G2 pushed back on the anthropomorphism, however G3 embraced it fully, with the ponies frequently using their hooves as hands and overall seeming more like horse-shaped humans than actual horses. The current generation, G4, is far less anthropomorphic and has frequent Furry Reminders. It is more on-par with mid-to-late G1, though still slightly more anthropomorphic.
    • Some spinoffs have taken this particularly far. Starting in late G3, there have been a few "baby" pony toys that are essentially regular baby dolls with some pony traits. And before that, Hasbro allowed Takara to come up with their own version of My Little Pony - the resulting Takara ponies were bipedal and consistently clothed, and had mitten-like hands instead of hooves. Lastly, the G4 spinoff Equestria Girls takes this to its logical conclusion, and takes place in an alternate universe where the ponies are candy-colored humans who can, under certain circumstances, grow pony ears and Pegasus wings; on top of that, it takes place in a High School AU, and is connected to the pony world by a magic mirror that acts as a portal. Its connections to the regular pony world, right on down to the toys for both being occasionally sold alongside one another in sets, helped Equestria Girls be far more successful than the previous two experiments.
  • Many of the early Transformers toys were designed as piloted mecha from Japanese toylines like Diaclone. When they were imported to the US, the robots were sentient, and accompanying media and later toys redesigned them to be more humanlike. Ratchet and Ironhide are probably the most dramatic example, as a result of having originated as Mini-Mecha that lacked distinct heads.

    Video Games 
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Koopa Troopas in Super Mario Bros. were originally just turtles. Ever since Super Mario World, they've slowly been humanized game by game. That being said, in Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2, and for those games only, normal Koopa Troopas curiously reverted back to being just regular turtles (walking on all fours) while other species, like Magikoopas, remained anthropomorphic. Further games have continued to use the Koopa Troopas' bipedal designs.
    • Yoshi and Bowser also have begun to stand more and more upright as time goes on. Yoshi was also given larger, more human-like arms and a cuter face.
  • In Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Bowser is given a bestial design and stance. However, 4 brings his design in line with that of his home series and has him stand tall, transitioning from Mighty Glacier to Lightning Bruiser in the process. His Giga Bowser form retains the bestial stance and moves of the previous games, however, making for a much starker contrast between the forms. Yoshi also received a more upright stance in the fourth game; his default stance in 64 and Melee essentially looked like his default pose when Mario is riding on him, only standing a little bit taller in Brawl.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon in general are depicted as intellectual or nearly normal animals, but some may act more civilized. It greatly depends on what species they are,note  and which medium: for example, the main series games have them act like nearly normal animals, but the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series has them all talk and act civilized as humans are not physically present.
    • In the first generation, Pokémon in general were slightly more animal-like. They've since become more intelligent on average and better at emoting and understanding humans, which makes certain Pokédex entries come off as dated (such as Lapras' entries mentioning it's unusually smart because it can understand human speech). Whips were dropped from the series after the original Kanto games as a result.
    • Jessie, James, and Meowth from the Pokémon: The Series appear in Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!. Their roles are very similar to their anime counterparts, but this trope is inverted with Meowth. Meowth isn't a Talking Animal and can only speak in cries like a normal Meowth. This is because Pokémon don't speak human languages in the main-series games: the closest we get is Chatot, a parrot Pokémon which can mimic speechnote  and Calyrex, who can possess humans and communicate through them. The only game character who says that Pokémon talk is N, who Speaks Fluent Animal due to having grown up among them.
  • Although they're still nonhumanoid computers, both GLaDOS and the personality cores gained a lot of recognizable human body language between the first Portal and its sequel.
  • Inverted in Solatorobo. Tail Concerto featured character designs that were more or less animal heads and tails on slightly Super-Deformed human bodies. Solatorobo tends to diversify the body types quite a bit more, with cats getting incredibly slender, borderline digitigrade legs and dogs coming in a wider variety of breeds.
  • Final Fantasy:
  • Darkstalkers: Compare how Felicia looked in the first game to how she looks now.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Although the Sonic characters were always anthropomorphic, they have become more so over the years. Their proportions have changed a bit, and they've become more likely to wear clothing beyond the traditional shoes and gloves, with some characters who were introduced later on always being fully clothed. This also leans into Humanoid Female Animal, since it's mostly female characters who wear clothes. Even Sonic himself has acquired additional clothing on occasion - in some early concept art for Sonic Riders he was fully clothed, and in Sonic Boom he wears a scarf.
  • Frogger was given an anthropomorphic redesign in 2001 but occasionally switches to a non-anthropomorphic design for games such as My Frogger Time Trials, Frogger Returns, and Frogger 3D.
  • The Jump Start Edutainment game series:
    • Frankie the dog, though always anthropomorphic, used to be more doglike in earlier games (digging holes, liking chew toys, etc.). In fact, in some games (i.e. JumpStart Numbers, JumpStart Math for First Graders/JumpStart 1st Grade Math), he lived in a doghouse in someone's (we never find out whose) backyard. He gradually became less doglike in behavior and circumstances, and in the JumpStart MMOG there's hardly anything doggish about his behavior (though he still looks as doglike as ever).
    • In a few earlier games (most prominently in JumpStart 2nd Grade Math/JumpStart Math for Second Graders), C.J. Frog was depicted as eating insects. This seems to have been abandoned. The trait's most recent appearance was probably in 2001, in JumpStart Artist, when C.J. displays pleasure at the thought of eating a spider, and in JumpStart Animal Adventures, where he was shown in the opening cutscene to be "flying" (as opposed to fishing).
    • In the 1994 version of JumpStart Kindergarten, Bebop is a Talking Animal who wears no clothes; in the 1997 version, he wears clothes, becoming more of a Funny Animal, though he's still hamster-sized while Mr. Hopsalot the Funny Animal rabbit is human-sized. Roquefort and Jack are mice in that game who are also animal-sized Funny Animals. In the JumpStart Kindergarten Direct-to-Video cartoon, Bebop, Jack and Roquefort all become human-sized when scaled against Hopsalot.
  • Done off-screen in the backstory of Crash Bandicoot. Crash, and his sister Coco, were originally normal bandicoots until they were experimented on and became anthropomorphic.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • An in-universe example for the Splatoon series. The race of the player character, Inklings, evolved from squids and are cephalopod monsters for the first few years of their life. Once they reach adolescence, their skin tone turns fleshy and they become Little Bit Beastly, with their humanoid forms having Alien Hair made up of their tentacles (among other small details). They also gain the ability to morph into non-anthropomorphic squid forms. The same goes for their sister species, Octolings.
  • Mortal Kombat: Reptile is all over the map with this. In the initial 2D games, his human appearance was a facade for his true saurian form (implied in Mortal Kombat (1992), made explicit in Mortal Kombat II and 3). But when the games moved into 3D, the famous Palette Swap ninjas of the series were all made visually distinct from one another and Reptile was given a more animalistic appearance that changed in every game, sometimes having a fully-lizard head and snout, other times looking relatively humanoid. The developers of the Continuity Reboot Mortal Kombat 1 decided to Take a Third Option by eliminating the intermediate forms and giving him an in-story ability to shift between fully human (and surprisingly attractive) and fully lizard.

    Web Comics 
  • The webcomic Achewood employs the shift in the behavior, though not appearance, of the characters - when the strip started the Funny Animal characters were mostly inside the author's house, but eventually it was revealed that there was a complex shadow society complete with underground shopping centers, human suits for cats to drive cars in, and human landlords charging their stuffed animals rent. Some elements were inconsistently applied.
    • Achewood was originally about stuffed animals that can come to life. The original characters were Teodor (teddy bear), Cornelius (teddy bear), Phillipe (stuffed otter), and Lyle (stuffed tiger). All of the animals are "based on" real stuffed animals owned by the author; you can find pictures of their counterparts on the site. Later, the strip spread out to include the lives of various house cats around town. It seems to be these house cats who have developed the Achewood Underground, and the living stuffed animals are their friends but not necessarily residents of the Underground (they all still live in the author's house, and the author is even occasional character in the strip). However, most newcomers to the strip don't realize that Teodor is actually a teddy bear and not a housecat-sized bear. If you think about it too hard, the universe doesn't make any sense at all ... so, don't think about it.
  • Inverted in Digger. In the beginning, the main character had a slight bust to indicate that she was female. These were removed, and now she just looks like any other wombat to human eyes.
  • Most characters in The Beast Legion transform into beasts. Some examples can be found 1 2, 3.
  • In Star Warriors, Ezmeralda starts out Chapter 1 looking like a normal fox kit, but after her death and ascension into the Starwarriors she is transformed into an anthropomorphic form as a sort of test.
  • The fan-made continuation of Sonic the Comic, Sonic the Comic – Online!, had already anthropomorphic shifted characters gained further shifts. In Sally's cameo for the 250th issue, she had been revamped to look more like her Archie counterpart compared to her game counterpart. Oddly though, other characters based off Sonic's animal friends from the Genesis games still look like their game versions (though Joe Sushi is wearing a jacket like Rotor).

    Web Original 
  • Neopets:
    • The website started out as a virtual pet game where the Neopets acted just like domesticated pets and human owners were involved... fast forward over a decade, and current portrayals of characters now depict most Neopets standing bipedal and fully clothed- creatures acting just like humans but with fur- and nary a mention of Owners (or requiring any) in sight... except that unlike those humans, they all can go forever without food and drink. Oddly, this shift hit Cap'n Threelegs so hard that he no longer lives up to his name - originally a quadrupedal pirate with a wooden leg, he is now a biped who is missing a hand.
    • Some human or amorphous characters (e.g. Edna the Witch, the Island Mystic and at least two shopkeepers, Mrs. Worley) became Neopets, making the poor Tiki-Tack Man the Last of His Kind in Neopia.

    Western Animation 
  • Woody Woodpecker started off looking very avian like (and very deranged at that) but later switched to a more streamlined, Funny Animal like design.
  • My Little Pony Tales is easily the strangest example. The original My Little Pony 'n Friends series took place in a fantasy universe (so the few instances of what would have Furry Confusion were justified at least a little). The "Tales" series, on the other hand, had the Ponies acting exactly like humans, living in houses and involved in such exciting adventures as going to school and so forth. The thing is, the Ponies remained unclothed, quadrupedal equines. Ask yourself how a creature with hooves is supposed to manipulate (or even invent, since there was no mention at all of humans) an electric guitar. G3 and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic take a step back in comparison to this, but not all the way back: fantasy setting with no humans, but largely "human" paraphernalia, avoiding instances of the ponies using their hooves as if they were hands but only as far as it's not too inconvenient.
  • In his early cartoons, Droopy was a Civilized Animal who would switch between two-legged and four-legged stances, but in the later cartoons, he is a definite Funny Animal who would stay on two legs all or most of the time depending on the cartoon.
  • The Raccoons originally had the animal heroes and humans co-exist in the same world and even though the animals had furniture in their homes, they still lived in trees etc and in general tried to give an illusion of living as a part of nature. Beginning season 2, the humans completely disappeared, the amount of animal characters increased from a small group to a large community with stores and other services like broadcasting and rail transportation systems, the animals started to live in houses, the pet dog the humans had became the owner of a local pub and it became quite clear that the whole world was inhabited by animals who had a significant amount of technology and culture in their hands (paws).
    • But the Raccoons still lived in a tree. And to add further confusion, when Ralph's brother's family moved into the forest, they lived in a tree which looked like a normal house on the inside. And had a garage.
    • Hilariously, the human's dog who become anthropomorphic and owned a pub... had a dog of his own. Of the same species.
    • Even in the first season, Cyril Sneer (a pink aardvark) still lived in a palace and was plotting to raze the forest for profits.
  • Disney:
    • Mickey and Minnie Mouse were originally smaller and had more rodent-like features, but began a gradual shift to a more human-like appearance starting in the late 1930s.
    • Similarly, Goofy was more dog-like in his original design, and his original name was "Dippy Dawg". Though the character's species was clearly stated in the beginning, his "humanization" has resulted in much Furry Confusion over what exactly Goofy is supposed to be.
      • Goofy, for a short time, was known as "George Geef" and was completely, unambiguously human except for his head. Other characters in the comics and some other things particularly in Goofy's corner of the Disney universe (mainly Goof Troop, A Goofy Movie, and An Extremely Goofy Movie) have been designed like this too, except so human that at a minimum, the only canine features may be the nose, muzzle, and ears: see Dogfaces.
    • This has less to do with his appearance and more to do with the fact that one of his closest friends owns a non-anthro dog.
      • Non-anthro is subjective on that too. Pluto can talk (about as clearly as Scooby-Doo), has on rare occasion taken a few steps on two legs, is able to use tools, and during one recent short when he got a pair of magic gloves that gave him fingers, he even was playing video games and using the phone.
      • He was even portrayed as a Funny Animal in the black and white cartoon "Blue Rhythm."
      • Note that Pluto's Scooby-like talking was all in his first year on the screen (The Moose Hunt and Mickey Steps Out, both 1931). There's a later cartoon where he thinks in a growly voice (Mickey's Kangaroo [1935]), but that doesn't count. It clearly took a little time to determine exactly what Pluto could normally do, but once set, it was permanent.
    • Inverted: Pluto and Figaro (Canon Immigrant from Pinocchio) were already "non-anthro" to begin with, but in Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, they act almost like normal animals. Before that, they were a little more likely to stand bipedally and use their paws like human hands.
    • The only time Mickey and Minnie ever appeared as full-on rodents, right down to being smaller than their domestic surroundings, was in a cartoon that curiously came after having been anthropomorphic animals in a few other shorts (Plane Crazy, Steamboat Willie, etc.). This cartoon is When the Cat's Away (1929). For all the most obvious reasons, this interpretation was never seen again.
    • Similarly, Walt Disney's original cartoon star, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, was more rabbit-like in his earlier shorts. By 1928, however, the only thing that could distinguish him as a rabbit was his ears and tail. Until Walter Lantz obtained the rights to the character and gave him a design more rabbit-like than his 1927 appearance (which is most likely one of the reasons Oswald's popularity plummeted). Until Disney bought him in 2006 and gave him back his 1928 look.
    • Pete was originally a bear and since Steamboat Willie, is supposed to be a cat, thus why he has a rivalry with Mickey Mouse. However, you can only really tell in the first few shorts he's in, including Steamboat Willie. In more contemporary cartoons like Goof Troop, his design is such that many assumed him to be a dog or Dogface. House of Mouse actually had to take the time to remind us that Pete is, in fact, a feline through some Furry Reminder jokes.
    • Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar of the old Disney cartoon shorts and comics started out as actual four-legged non-anthropomorphic barnyard animals and alternated between anthro and non-anthro roles before becoming full-fledged Funny Animal characters alongside Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and the others.
    • Chip 'n Dale started out as Talking Animals in their debut, but became Partially Civilized Animals later on in the Classic Disney Shorts. They then became straight-up Civilized Animals in Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers and stayed that way ever since.
    • Inverted with Zeke The Big Bad Wolf at the end of The Three Little Pigs.
    • Disney's Electric Holiday short gives Mickey, Minnie, and Daisy tall, stylized bodies in the runway sequence (Goofy and the human characters Snow White, Cruella de Vil, and Tiana were given similarly stylized bodies as well). The roll call at the end features all the aforementioned characters drawn in their original character models, but still wearing the outfits they modeled.
  • Although subtle, by the third season of The Animals of Farthing Wood, the animals were more human in movement than at the beginning (especially the weasels).
  • Interesting example, Betty Boop was originally a poodle. Seriously. Soon after her first cartoon, her ears were remade into earrings and curly fur became flapper girl hair.
  • Brian in Family Guy follows the Rule of Funny; while usually unclothed except for his dog collar, he normally is a martini-drinking, Prius-driving (the only identifiable car in the series), bipedal urban sophisticate. When he exhibits canine behavior, it's played for laughs. He did, however, sit like a dog and generally acted more canine in the earliest episodes.
  • Scooby-Doo was suffering this by the mid-80s. He was seen walking on two legs all the time (it didn't help that his four legged design was not changed) and he was becoming somewhat less of a Speech-Impaired Animal. It seems to have been reversed beginning with A Pup Named Scooby-Doo where he became more of a quadruped again.
  • Tom of Tom and Jerry undergoes this. He looked like a real cat in the first short, but over time the change was striking. He began to walk upright more and more often. Other characters underwent a similar transformation, though Jerry himself changed very little over the course of the series, having always been somewhat anthropomorphic.
  • Heck, Bugs Bunny! Though never really acting consistently rabbit-ish (beyond the carrot addiction, which is actually just a myth that Bugs popularized—real rabbits can't even digest carrots), there's a striking difference between the way he's drawn and behaves in the black and white and in color. The early form has a rabbit shaped head whereas the current one's is more of an anime take on a Persian cat with Buck teeth and long ears. Early Bugs had a big behind and would hop around on all fours from time to time. Colored Bugs has hopped around a few times, though only to fool some idiot into thinking he was an innocent bunny.
  • In Daffy Duck's earliest appearances he was a regular-looking duck with some cartoony features. It wasn't until his third or fourth appearance that he began to act more human-like, and his wings gradually evolved into hands.
  • Porky Pig seemed more anthropomorphic in later Looney Tunes appearances and in Duck Dodgers than in earlier Looney Tunes appearances. While he always had ordinary Four-Fingered Hands, in his earliest appearances, his hooves looked like pig's hooves, but in later appearances, his hooves look like slippers. In Duck Dodgers, he is even plantigrade, but he reverts back to an unguligrade (hoof-walking) stance in The Looney Tunes Show.
  • Played with in an obscure one-shot Looney Tunes short featuring a small dog named Jeff in a war over a bone against a burly bulldog, with neither dog speaking in the cartoon. Only at the ending, after Jeff learns that it was All for Nothing he then addresses the audience:
    Jeff: If you think this little incident is going to upset me... YOU'RE RIGHT!! [goes crazy]
  • Inverted with Taz in The Looney Tunes Show: He is Bugs Bunny's pet and walks on four legs more, whereas in Looney Tunes, he isn't a pet and he usually walks on two legs.
    • Played straight more so in Taz-Mania. While Taz was originally anthropomorphic in the original shorts, he was something of a wild predator. In the TV show, he has a fully anthro family, and, while still The Unintelligible, he seems to have much more prominent uses of coherent English.
    • The Looney Tunes Show itself has a minor shift as Bugs and Daffy are consistently shown as Funny Animals (they live among humans without this being remarked as unusual) whereas in the shorts Daffy and especially Bugs were more often Civilized Animals (they had human-like implements in their homes, but lived in the wild and were pursued by predators and hunters).
  • Felix the Cat is shown, in his very earliest incarnation (as "Master Tom," in 1919's "Feline Follies") as being a regular housecat. By the 1920s, he walks upright and talks, even though he's still the pet of humans. In the handful of Felix cartoons made in the 1930s, he's shown living in a society of anthropomorphic animals, and actually keeps pets.
  • This sequence from the MGM short "Sheep Wrecked" demonstrates this trope in short bursts. The lamb starts out as a normal animal (not unlike the sheep that came before or since), but when the plunger the wolf fires catches it and starts dragging it away, it turns into a Funny Animal and wraps its arms around the fence. We cut to a shot of the wolf as he pulls off some of the lamb's wool, and when we cut back to the lamb, it has been anthropomorphized even further. "Now there's a right purdy leg of lamb."
  • Shaun and his flock in Wallace & Gromit: A Close Shave are Largely Normal Animals. In Shaun the Sheep, they're Speech Impaired Animals (or possibly Civilized Animals given that the only human in the series is also The Unintelligible). And in Timmy Time (same universe but different dynamic), Timmy and his mother are fully blown Funny Animals in a Funny Animal world where sheep, cats and owls go to nursery.
  • A large premise of TaleSpin, which places a few characters from The Jungle Book (1967) into a human-like civilization. In the film the animals were natural wild animals with their anthro traits more limited or utilized for humor value. Granted, it varies. For example, Baloo and Louie, a bear and an ape, are nearly identical to their Jungle Book forms outside being clothed, and in Baloo's case, he no longer has clawed hands. On the other hand, in Jungle Book Shere Khan was a four legged tiger who only made subtle use of his "hands" similar to the Lion King examples; in Tale Spin, he stands on his hind legs and is wears a business suit.
  • This happened between adaptations of Angelina Ballerina where the first animated adaptation stuck to the books' designs of a Mouse World with partially civilized animals inhabiting it. The later CGI series however showed them as Funny Animals within a much a more human analogous world as a result.
  • Back in 2003, there was going to be an animated series based on The Aristocats where the kittens Marie, Toulouse, and Berlioz were going to be teenagers and was supposed to be shifted to this judging by these pieces of concept art, since they were on all fours (outside of dancing during "Everybody Wants To Be A Cat" musical number) in the original film.
    • In the children's book series The Aristokittens, Marie and her brothers are bipedal and are seen carrying and holding objects with both hands.
  • The Lion Guard:
    • The Lion Guard has more anthropomorphic behaving animals than the previous The Lion King movie. The lions previously seemed to behave more like lions and the ruler of the Pridelands was mostly respected more than anything. In The Lion Guard we see Simba doing things and his son Kion is a Kid Hero who has to keep the Pridelanders safe and content.
    • In stark contrast to the realistic crocodiles in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, the crocodiles are cartoonish and can speak. This may have been a Call-Back to their portrayal in "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" from the original film.
  • Blue from Blue's Clues. In later seasons she has her own magical room where she could stand upright, and speak.
  • The original live-action Skippy the Bush Kangaroo was entirely non-anthropomorphic, since it was live action - Skippy has Timmy in a Well levels of intelligence but is mostly an actual kangaroo, the pet of the park ranger's son. The '90s Animated Adaptation Skippy: Adventures in Bushtown Skippy is the park ranger in a World of Funny Animals.
  • Joe Sushi received this when he was adapted into Rotor Walrus, in Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM).
  • Rare non-animal example: Originally, all of the mechanical characters from Thomas & Friends (such as locomotives) cannot move at all unless if there is a driver to operate them, but later depictions of said characters were actually all portrayed in a way that they can occasionally move all by themselves without the use of a driver.
  • On Powerbirds, the animal characters appear as normal non-anthropomorphic creatures at the start and end of every episode, but when the show enters the superhero sequences, they become more anthropomorphic in appearance to complement the mutual Art Shift.
  • In the Viva Pińata games, the piñatas mostly acted like animals. In the animated series, they can talk and most of the quadrupeds can stand on two legs.


Video Example(s):


For Trash

The protagonist takes out an armed thug with a trash can and an elderly bystander's cane.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / ImprovisedWeapon

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