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Creepy Hairless Animal

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Image by Pamela Contreras. Used with permission.

What was wrong with its fur?
The creature had none. Cat-shaped, it was as hairless as a newborn kitten. At first, wildly, Pouncequick thought it must have been some kind of monstrous infant— its eyes were sealed shut, as were eyes of the Folk when they emerged from the womb. The thing turned toward Pouncequick, huge nostrils dilating. Then, in a high, whispering voice, it spoke.

There can be something uncanny about an animal that probably should be hairy but isn't. Mammals are generally supposed to have fur, but for whatever reason this animal does not.

Some species of mammals, such as cetaceans, pangolins, walruses, rhinos (except for the extinct wooly rhinos), elephants, hippos, manatees, armadillos, swine, and humans have little or no fur or hair by default.note  In real life, many domestic animals are bred not to have fur. This is usually either for aesthetic value or because the animal lives in a warm-weather environment. When it comes to pets (except pet pigs), hairless breeds tend to cost more and are usually more expensive to maintain due to their special needs.

Some wild mammals, like foxes and coyotes can be hairless due to having mange. Chimps can also sometimes be hairless.

Featherless birds are often played to be creepy as well, in fact, more so than hairless mammals. We typically think that vultures and turkeys appear creepy because their heads and necks are featherless. This trope's prevalence is why songbird chicks and parrot chicks are usually portrayed as (inaccurately) having downy feathers like chicken chicks, penguin chicks, and ducklings.

This trope is largely why the Sphynx and other hairless cat breeds are stereotyped as villainous and evil in fiction. Because they're so expensive to buy, they also get hit with a bunch of negative "rich people" stereotypes.

Compare to Bald of Evil for a human equivalent. Compare and contrast Furry Baldness for mostly furless animals that appear to be bald or have balding crowns, whether they are creepy or not. Contrast Goofy Feathered Dinosaur, when giving a featherless animal fluffy plumage makes it seem less scary.


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    Comic Books 
  • In Hack/Slash, the dog-shaped demon "lowbeast" Pooch looks like a deformed hairless dog with lips permanently drawn back over his teeth and jaws. He starts off as an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain and makes a rapid Heel–Face Turn as soon as some humans show him kindness.
  • Hellblazer: During the Royal Blood arc, one of the activities the depraved rich people engage in is sticking two shaved, starved cats in a glass jar so they'll fight. The art makes them look skinned rather than shaved.

    Film — Animation 
  • The Oviraptor and Velociraptor in Dinosaur are a product of Science Marches On, but their featherlessness fits this trope: the Oviraptor look like wrinkly plucked turkeys, while the Velociraptor, unlike the Jurassic Park raptors, are thin and gangly and more accurately modeled on Velociraptor mongoliensis than the JP ones based on Deinonychus.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In the Austin Powers films, Dr. Evil has a Right-Hand Cat named Mr. Bigglesworth, who loses all of his hair during a cryogenics accident. Before the accident he's played by a white Persian cat, after it he's played by a Sphynx.
  • Cats & Dogs:
    • The first thing Diggs tells Peke (a Chinese Crested) is that she's "been playing fetch with the ugly stick". Peke, is, however, a heroic character. The villain is an extremely furry white Persian can.
    • The sequel, Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, introduces good cats to the series, but this time the villain is a Sphinx.note  Her hairlessness does not go unnoticed by others, who poke fun of it.
  • Mewtwo and Mew have been canonically hairless for years, but most fans didn't know this or, when learning of it, deliberately ignored it due to this trope. So when Pokémon Detective Pikachu portrayed Mewtwo as hairless and had online images of Mew as such as well, some fans were genuinely shocked. It's one thing to make Pikachu fluffy instead of smooth-haired, it's another to reveal that a good-looking Pokemon is actually supposed to look quite creepy and humanlike (as well as sphynx/fetus-like).
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Rocket, The Bully chimpanzee who sics his gang on Caeser when he's brought to the ape shelter, is distinctively identified from all the other chimps by his baldness. However, Rocket doesn't stay a bad guy forever, eventually reneging to Caeser's command and ultimately becoming one of his most trusted allies.

  • In Cal Leandros, Robin ends up with a living but mummified and hairless cat named Salome who wanders about murdering things much larger and more dangerous than any cat has any right to. and he can never quite tell if it's a threat or not.
  • In Nancy A. Collins's Golgotham Trilogy, the feline Familiar Scratch appears as a winged Sphynx cat in his Sleep-Mode Size. Sure, at least one character still considers him Ugly Cute (while she's high as a kite, at least); still, not only are familiars explicitly demons (albeit not Always Chaotic Evil) in the setting, but his battle form is a sort of mash-up of dragon and smilodon.
  • The Toothguard in Tailchaser's Song are an Always Chaotic Evil race of cats who work for the villain, Grizraz Hearteater. They're blind, furless cats with bags of skin where their eyes should be. Pouncequick compares them to deformed newborns. The Toothguard also all seem to speak in a Creepy High-Pitched Voice and have a Verbal Tic of slithering their words like snakes.
  • In the third Warrior Cats arc, the character Rock is introduced: an incredibly ugly, hairless cat with bulging, sightless eyes. He's pretty creepy from the start - he haunts the tunnels where Fallen Leaves died in ancient times and has been around since then - and is eventually revealed to be a spirit around since the dawn of time, able to see every prophecy but powerless to change things.
  • Word of Mouse has Lucifer, a hairless Sphynx Cat who always tries to eat Isaiah any time he appears.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In chapter VII of the Call of Cthulhu supplement The Fungi from Yuggoth, "By the Bay Part II", the Investigators can find some mice that have been subjected to bizarre experiments by a Mad Scientist. The mice are disgustingly pink, hairless and misshapen.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • Inverted in Catsing Call. Larry, a sphynx cat (a breed that is naturally hairless) is shy but very well-meaning. Osiris, a very fluffy ragdoll cat, is the most antagonistic character.
  • In one TheOdd1sOut video, James discusses this by wondering why people find hairless animals ugly and hairy animals cute. He jokingly says that humans find animals cuter the hairier they are "and that's why I'm a furry", but that backfired on him when people thought he was being serious.

    Western Animation 
  • Kid vs. Kat: The titular Kat is this, which along with his black sclera and white pupils indicate he is no ordinary cat in the pilot episode. His whole race is this too, being a race of advanced cat-like aliens who desire to conquer and enslave Earth. Many characters frequently comment how ugly Kat looks, with one person even somehow mistaking him for an iguana.
  • Kim Possible: Ron Stoppable's pet Rufus is a naked mole rat. Ron and Kim are used to him, but others tend to be grossed out, to the point the refrain of his Image Song is "What is that — that freaky thing?!" Audiences aren't likely to agree, considering his character design lacks the less attractive details of the real animal. Oddly, Rufus looked creepier as a baby, because of bulging eyes and visible veins showing through his skin.

    Real Life 
  • Hairless and near-hairless dogs usually win the World's Ugliest Dog Competition. Almost every winner has been a Chinese Crested or a Chinese Crested mix. The hairlessness tends to emphasize any warts, moles, or cases of acne said dogs have, which doesn't help.
  • Most of the opposition to depictions of feathered dinosaurs in popular culture essentially boils down to this, the idea being that featherless T. rex and Velociraptor are more intimidating than feathered versions, which supposedly just look silly.
  • In 2009, a German zoo made news for its bears all getting an affliction where they lost almost all their fur. Usually, furry animals end up looking silly when you remove all the hair. Bears, on the other hand, look like something that belongs in a Dungeons & Dragons monster manual.