Meat is animal flesh often eaten for protein (or convenience if there's nothing else hanging around), though most kinds of meat hold textures and traits that make it rather unnecessarily complicated and ambiguous.
This is where the "Cartoon" part comes to the spotlight.
Depictions of meat in comics and animation are often stylized and simplified, both for the convenience of the artist and ease of recognition for the audience. These simplified versions tend to follow specific trends:
- Manga meat, or ano niku (Japanese for "that meat"): Generic meat from an unspecified source, portrayed as a roughly cylindrical slab still attached to the bone, with said bone sticking out both ends to serve as a convenient handle while eating. The meat itself is very chewy, sometimes even stretchy. In spite of the name, this version does pop up in western works, too—sometimes with just one bone, so it looks more like a giant drumstick.
- Poultry is either drumsticks or a whole roasted bird. Drumsticks may be simplified to the point that they look like a meat popsicle. Breasts are rarely seen, despite being among the most common cuts in real life; wings haven't appeared until recently, and are often depicted as smaller drumsticks.
- Turkey is usually drawn as an oversized wholly roasted bird, but wearing identifying paper frills on the drumsticks. Much like other portrayed poultry, the part which is most commonly depicted is the drumsticks.
- Beef can show up as steak or hamburger patties:
- Steaks are either ribeye or T-bone, because apparently steak isn't steak without some sort of bone in the middle. The meat may be colored bright red, even if it's supposed to be fully cooked.
- Hamburger patties are usually dark brown, regardless of whether they're cooked rare or well-done.
- Pork has the most variety and can appear in several forms:
- Ham will usually be drawn as a giant drumstick cut in half, with the insides a bright pink.
- Bacon is almost always depicted as side bacon (aka streaky bacon), since it can be simplified to alternating stripes of red (meat) and white (fat).
- Sausages are usually less than 6 inches in length, linked, and colored gray, brown, red, or any combo thereof.
- Hotdogs are slightly longer and are usually colored pink or red.
- Or a whole roasted suckling pig with an apple in its mouth.
- Ribs (pork or beef, or possibly something more exotic) are a slab of brown meat, either flat or an exaggerated curve, with bones sticking out every few inches.
- Fish and seafood:
- Fish can be depicted as a cooked whole fish, half-fish filets, or in slices. Whole fish may be drawn in much more realistic detail than the rest of a series. Tuna and salmon are the most common, and the meat is usually pink (salmon pink, naturally).
- Fish skeletons—sometimes with the the head and tail fins attached to a spine that's been otherwise picked clean—are a popular meal for cats, raccoons, or anyone who has to dumpster-dive for food.
- Lobsters and shrimp are often drawn bright red, even before they're cooked.
Bones that stick-out from Cartoon Meat are most likely to look like Stock Femur Bones, unless the meat is fish or ribs, where they're more likely to be rib bones. Compare with Cartoon Cheese, which is its counterpart for, well, cheese. In video games, this often goes hand-in-hand with Hyperactive Metabolism and Inexplicably Preserved Dungeon Meat. For extremely detailed depictions of meat, see Food Porn.
- Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: A golden trophy shaped like manga meat appears in Happy Happy Bang! Bang! episode 28.
- The independent game studio Boneloaf has a cylinder-of-meat-on-a-bone as their logo. Their sole game to date, Gang Beasts, features that logo several times inside the game — for example, painted in the center of a wrestling ring.
- In Boku To Wanko, one of the items you can set out for your dogs to play with is a hunk of meat-on-the-bone.
- Bonk: Bonk eats cylindrical bone-attached chunks of meat to gain more powerful forms. The bigger chunks instantly push him into his strongest form.
- Capcom: Commonly seen in Capcom's Beat 'em Up games as a powerup for the players:
- Cadillacs and Dinosaurs has more variety in food you can find, ranging from manga meats to Food Porn dishes.
- Final Fight is the Trope Codifier. Beating diverse objects during the game reveals manga meats among other snacks that can raise your energy bar.
- Some Hack and Slash games based on High Fantasy, like Knights of the Round, both Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara games and Red Earth, also have manga meats as powerups.
- Don't Starve: The ham bat is a weapon that looks like at drumstick chopped with pink in the middle. The weapon is held by the bone and swung around hitting things with the meat end of it.
- A Hat in Time: Mafia Town has a gigantic meat cylinder with two bones, rolling up and down the street as a stage hazard.
- The Legend of Zelda:
- In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, the Goron delicacy "Rock Sirloin" takes the manga meat shape, only made of rock instead of meat.
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games have both a Goron steak, and a minigame on Tokay island that involves manga meat.
- The item reappears in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, where they're called "Rock Roasts", and this time you have to heat them up before you can eat them.
- When you hunt in Little Dragons Cafe, the prey poofs away and pieces of brown Cartoon Meat appear. This is simply for the overworld, as the ingredients are properly identified and more realistic looking.
- Minecraft has a drumstick-like icon for the hunger symbol.
- Rocket Knight Adventures: In Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2, the full health restore power-up takes the shape of a hunk of meat with a bone sticking out of both ends.
- In Shovel Knight, one of the health-restoring items is a rather cartoonish turkey.
- Spyro: Year of the Dragon: In the Sunny Villa level, there are many Rhynoc Giant Mooks that wield giant chicken drumsticks; they all look the same. Near the end of the level, there's a cutscene of one of said mooks chasing a giant chicken, and when you get to where they run off to, said giant Rhynoc is already wielding a drumstick.
- Super Mario Bros.:
- Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story: During the game's "Fantastic Voyage" Plot, one of the areas the Mario brothers end up in is the Flab Zone, implied to be the rather heavyset Bowser's overlarge deposits of fat. The most common low-level enemies there are the tenderlings, which resemble cylindrical joints of meat with the head of a Stock Femur Bone sticking out at either end, in addition to eyes and feet.
- Super Paper Mario has the Power Steak and Bone-In Cut items, which are cartoonish depictions of a steak and a piece of meat on a bone, respectively, with the latter being drawn in the came's characteristic Retraux blocky style.
- WarioWare: Smooth Moves features the microgame "BYOM", in which the player rotates the Wii Remote in order to roast a joint of Manga Meat for cavemen.
- Team Fortress 2: Don't Starve's ham bat was ported to TF 2 under the name "The Ham Shank", with Genuine quality ones being awarded to those who preordered the source material. It's very much the same design, only 3D modeled.
- In the Strong Bad Email "island", a starving Strong Bad imagines Homestar becoming a big, red, T-bone steak in the classic style.
- In the The Order of the Stick prequel On the Origin of PCs, Elan wears a "ceremonial meat costume" shaped like a big stereotypical T-bone steak.
- The official unicode emojis include a brown chicken leg with a bone sticking out, red-and-white striped bacon, a bright red slab of steak (either a T-bone or ribeye, depending on the operating system), and a cylindrical hunk of meat with bones sticking out of both sides.
- Voltron: Legendary Defender: The "Health Plate" item ordered by Pidge in Season 6 Episode 3 takes the form of a lumpy brown tube with cartoony bones poking out of each end.