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Brainy Pig

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"I told you pigs are smart."
Gussy, Charlotte's Web

Pigs are smart. It's one of the Stock Animal Facts. Biologists have speculated that the average pig is slightly more intelligent than the average dog. Fiction has latched onto this and exaggerated it, leading to the Animal Stereotype of the Brainy Pig.

If the pig is anthropomorphic or can talk, expect them to be scientifically-minded, philosophical, or a combination. If they're just a normal pig, they might show an understanding of human languages, or be able to do amazing tricks.

Usually, the Brainy Pig will be portrayed sympathetically, though they may be a deceptive schemer or an Insufferable Genius. The Brainy Pig is less likely than less intelligent pigs to be a Messy Pig or Gluttonous Pig, though it can happen. See Full-Boar Action for another trope about pigs and Cunning Like a Fox, Clever Crows, and The Owl-Knowing One for other animals stereotyped as intelligent.



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  • An advertisement for Lloyds Bank had a talking pig with an exaggeratedly refined accent and a talent for raconteuring (though it still found itself in need of the bank's financial advice).

    Comic Books 
  • In IDW Publishing's Transformers Beast Wars comics, Razorbeast the wild boar was the primary leader of the Maximal forces that opposed Magmatron, depicted as being tenacious and resourceful. Over the course of the comic, he's shown to be a cunning leader and a skilled fighter who defeats opponents stronger than he is through use of clever tactics.
  • In the Italian comic Lupo Alberto, Alcide the pig is the McKenzie Farm's resident philosopher and most intelligent resident, and is often the Only Sane Man due having more common sense than most other characters, hence Moses, the dog and farm's leader, leaving him in charge whenever he has to leave for some commission. Sadly, this says more about the other residents than about him, often getting involved in the others' antics.

    Comic Strips 
  • In a Pearls Before Swine strip, Rat attempts to invoke this trope when a butcher tries to charge him for Pig, claiming he's a "thinking pig", not an "eating pig". It doesn't work.
  • Orson from U.S. Acres is portrayed as a smart pig who loves to read. He is also very helpful to his friends and often gives advice to them.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Lion King has Pumbaa, the warthog. He can be a little naive (and perhaps a tad gullible, as well) from time to time, but make no mistake, he's much smarter than he seems.note 
    • Case in point: When wondering about the identity of the stars, after Timon gives the totally bogus explanation of their being fireflies that somehow got stuck in the sky, Pumbaa states, "I always thought they were balls of gas burning billions of miles away." And, as anyone with at least a passing knowledge of astronomy knows, he's spot on.
    • Also, in the "Find Out Why" short films from Disney's "One Saturday Morning" block, Timon and Pumbaa answer science-related questions. Timon, of course, comes up with some absolutely ridiculous answers (e.g., lightning coming from the clouds taking flash photography, pandas not living in the desert because they're scared of cacti, or sneezing being the result of the eruption of miniature volcanoes in people's nostrils), but Pumbaa provides the correct information.
  • Hamm from the Toy Story films isn't an example himself, but when Andy is playing with him he is portrayed as a Mad Scientist named "Dr. Porkchop."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Babe, just as in the original book, a piglet learns to round up sheep like a sheepdog.
  • Discussed in Charlotte's Web (2006). Gussy the goose says that pigs are smart, but one of the cows says that they aren't. Later, when Wilbur tricks the farmers, Gussy says to her mate, Golly, "I told you pigs are smart". Wilbur himself doesn't ever seem particularly smart, but he's not dumb either.
  • Zigzagged in the sequel to Nanny McPhee. The piglets do synchronized swimming and climb trees, but that was because McPhee put a spell on them. The guy who buys them claims that he knew a pig who could play Scrabble and another who could count to ten in French. He turns out to be joking for the last one, but he admits that pigs are clever animals.

  • A tourist stays the night at a farm and notices a pig hobbling on three legs. He asks the farmer about it, who says "Well, that's about the smartest hog I've ever seen! Why, just a few weeks back, the barn caught fire while we were all sleeping. This pig broke out of his pen, got all the livestock outside, and then came to wake me up, even bringing me the phone so I could call the firemen!" The tourist says it's amazing, considering the pig had lost a leg in that fire. The farmer says "Oh no, none of the animals were harmed at all. But a pig that smart, well, you can't just eat it all at once!"

  • Ace: The Very Important Pig features Babe's descendant Ace, who can understand human speech, watches television (choosing the best programs personally), and ends up becoming a TV star himself.
  • Animal Farm features a decidedly dark take on this trope. The pigs, as the most intelligent animals on the farm, declare themselves to be the new government after kicking out their former human masters. Over the course of the story, however, one particular pig named Napoleon (a stand-in for Josef Stalin) becomes a power-hungry dictator who rules the farm with an iron fist.
  • A Philip K. Dick story, Beyond Lies The Wub has the titular creature, a Martian animal that looks like a very fat pig, sold to starving astronauts by the "natives". The Wub is sapient, and has Psychic Powers that allow it to talk to humans (or anyone else) and engage in scholarly discourse by tapping into the collective unconscious of its interlocutors. These powers also allow it to take over the body of the captain, who eats it, with the implication that this is their secret defense mechanism against predation.
  • A Bunch of Munsch: In "Pigs", the titular pigs can dance, sing, and read. In fact, the whole moral is that pigs are smarter than they seem.
  • In Clever Duck, there are six pigs: the sows Mrs. Chubby, Mrs. Tubby, Mrs. Stout, Mrs. Portly, Mrs. O'Bese, and the boar. They're very smart, but unfortunately they're also pompous, viewing the other farm animals as "ignoramuses".
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: In "The Long Haul", the Heffleys accidentally winding up adopting a piglet. The piglet turns out to be very smart; he can use a potty, and in the next book, "Old School", he even learns to walk on his hind legs, use the TV remote, and communicate with Manny's See-n-Say.
  • The Roald Dahl book Dirty Beasts has a pig who becomes intelligent enough to learn why he's being bred at a farm; to be cooked and eaten. He decides to eat the farmer before that can happen.
  • Freddy the Pig was the main character in a series of books by Walter R. Brooks. Although all the animals on the farm can speak, Freddy is quite intellectual and successfully tries his hand at a number of different jobs including detective, politician, pilot, newspaper editor, stage magician, and poet.
  • In Lady Lollipop, a Spoiled Brat princess wants a pig for her birthday, and she gets one, named Lollipop. Lollipop is a very clever pig; she can do tricks like a dog, she learns commands very quickly, and she even has her own code; doing a deep grunt for "no", a high grunt for "yes", etc.
  • Martins Mice: The pig is the one animal on the farm who Martin goes to for advice, and he's very intellectual and knowledgeable.
  • Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle features Lester, a bipedal pig trained in etiquette used to serve as an example for children with poor table manners.
  • Oryx and Crake has "pigoons", human-pig chimeras developed for organ transplants, as one of several genetically engineered animals that went feral after the apocalypse. After observing a herd of them Snowman is downright terrified of them and speculates that they have human brain cells. The third book confirms that they're basically sapient, and Gardeners and Crakers form an alliance with them.
  • In the Robert Munsch book Pigs, Megan's father warns her not to keep the pigs' gate open because "pigs are smarter than you think". Not believing this, Megan opens the gate and learns the hard way that he was right; the pigs run around and cause havoc. The Spoof Aesop is indeed "pigs are smarter than you think".
  • The Sheep-Pig features Babe, a pig who is raised by a sheepdog and becomes even more skilled at herding the sheep than her.
  • The Tale of Mucky Mable: In it, the pig is smart enough to be able to use utensils and respond to human commands, which leads to it being mistaken for Mable by her clueless parents.
  • The Three Little Pigs: Averted for the pigs who make their houses out of straw and sticks, and some adaptations will have them be straight-up stupid, inverting the trope. The pig who builds the brick house is definitely the most sensible, so he's at least a downplayed example, but some adaptations play it straight and have him be smart and strategic.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Green Acres: Arnold Ziffel is possibly the Trope Codifier. A Chester White pig adopted by the childless Fred and Doris Ziffel, Arnold displays human intelligence and is treated as an upstanding citizen of Hooterville. He understands English and watches the CBS Evening News to keep up with the issues, attends the local grade school (and is an outstanding student), and can beat anyone in town at checkers. Arnold is also artistically talented: he is working on a novel, he plays the piano, and he is an accomplished abstract painter, whose piece titled "Nude at a Filling Station" wins first prize out of two thousand entries in a student art contest.

    Video Games 
  • Donkey Kong Country: Professor Chops, debuting in Donkey Kong Country Returns, is an anthropomorphic pig with Nerd Glasses that assists the Kongs by explaining the game mechanics and marking the checkpoints. He is also seemingly one of the only animals alongside the Kongs who are immune to the Tiki Tribe’s mind control.
  • Inverted in The Legend of Zelda games, where recurring Big Bad Ganondorf is a cunning Sorcerous Overlord, but his beast form Ganon is almost always a raging, primal giant boar or Pig Man who relies solely on brute strength (in the The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games, this was because the ritual required for his resurrection had been botched).
  • Mother 3 features Einswine, an enemy consisting of a pig with a cybernetically-enhanced brain. Tying in with the series' use of psychic powers in lieu of magic, Einswines primarily focus on PSI attacks, with comparatively low physical strength and HP.
  • Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire introduces Spoink and Grumpig, two highly-intelligent Psychic-type pig Pokemon who are themed around the proverb about "casting pearls before swine"— turning said pearls into literal pearls of wisdom carried around by the Pokemon.

    Western Animation 
  • Downplayed for Ben from Third And Bird. He's not particularly intelligent, but he speaks in a refined, eloquent way.
  • Arthur: In "Sue Ellen Vegges Out", Sue Ellen befriends a pig named Sally, who can do tricks, jump through hoops, and take a bow. Sue Ellen winds up enjoying her time with Sally so much that it leads her to become vegetarian.
  • Pig from The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales is the Only Sane Man who serves as the voice of reason, but is ignored by his dimwitted friends Duck and Rabbit.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog: Played with in "Heads Of Beef." Courage is terrified by Jean Bon, a massive pig who runs a hamburger diner and appears to serve up his customers as meals. In the end, it turns out Jean and his wife (also a pig) create edible meat sculptures inspired by people they meet; one "victim" even offers to buy his.
  • Played with in Disenchantment, where Prince Merkimer swaps bodies with a pig as the result of a spell gone wrong. On the one hand, Merkimer retains his intelligence while in pig form, which doesn't help him too much as he was already a royal dunce back when he was still human. On the other hand, the pig whose mind ended up in his body turns out to be an evil mastermind who successfully steals Merkimer's identity and overthrows his royal parents.
  • In the Gravity Falls episode "Little Gift Shop of Horrors", the segment "Abaconings" invokes this trope. Waddles the pig eats a substance that causes him to become very intelligent, to the point in which he even gains the ability to build inventions. However, at the end of the story he realizes that he'd rather spend time with his friend/owner Mabel, and decides to reverse the effects of the substance.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: Downplayed. Pig mutes are unable to speak, and thus Wolf initially considers them food, but are capable of understanding words and orders. Mandu in particular is shown to be fairly intelligent, if a bit simplistic.
  • Looney Tunes: Porky Pig is often shown as a little more intelligent and sensible than most other characters and so is usually portrayed as the Straight Man, particularly when he's paired with Daffy Duck.
  • Downplayed in The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh with Piglet. Piglet isn't inherently smarter than any of the other characters but often he tends to be overshadowed whenever he tries to come up with an idea or thought. Sometimes though, Piglet is the one to recognize details the other characters overlook, especially whenever his fear doesn't get the better of him.
  • Peppa Pig: The main characters are anthropomorphic pigs that are usually of average intelligence, however:
  • The Simpsons: Plopper, although heavily downplayed does still have slightly above average intelligence for pigs,possibly justified since his secret identities are Spider-pig (Spider-Man) and Harry Plopper (Harry Potter)


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