Owls are, to put it bluntly, adorable. They just are. There is something about those perfectly round shapes, those big eyes, and their beautiful fluffy plumage that immediately appeal to us. Not to mention the rather silly features like their Abnormal Limb Rotation Range, or their cute little hoots which have served so many "Who's on First?" jokes that it should seriously be considered its own Sub-Trope someday.
There are two kinds of Cute Owls that mostly coincide with the two real-life families of owls:
- The Tytonidae a.k.a. barn-owl variety is mostly represented cute in an elegant way because of its softer features and lighter colors and is as such depicted almost always female in fiction. It doesn't necessarily forbids her to be Badass Adorable and she could still have Silk Hiding Steel.
- The Strigidae (the "eared" varietynote ) is often depicted as an adorkable nerd, coupling this trope with The Owl-Knowing One, the most common Animal Stereotype associated with owls. Expect this Cute Bookworm to have scruffy feathers, wear Nerd Glasses (the big circles around its eyes being a natural inspiration of this), bowties and other geeky accessories. For a long time, this variety was almost Always Male — leading to a common misconception that the two varieties are from the same family with Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism — but the growing representation of female geeks in media is slowly discrediting this cliché.
The Ur-Example of the trope could be considered the Owl of Athena, who is also and mainly the Ur-Example of The Owl-Knowing One trope. If the ancient Greeks didn't particularly praise the animal for his cuteness (although it was attached to a beautiful and clever warrior goddess), the actual city of Athens (and by extension the rest of Greece) embraced the animal as their Animal Motif ; the symbol was printed on some of their money (even the current euros) and is very popular with tourists.
- The children's comic series Owly by Andy Runton is all about the adventures of an incredibly cute (and non-carnivorous!) owl.
- In Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, while most owls are badass, the owlets, particularly Soren's little sister Eglantine, are ridiculously cute. Gylfie the elf owl and Soren himself manage to be Badass Adorable.
- Eva the Russian snowy owl in Penguins of Madagascar. Despite her rather stoic face, Kowalski is deeply in love with her.
- Merlin's talking owl Archimedes in The Sword In The Stone.
- There is an owl among the Woodland Creatures in Disney's Sleeping Beauty.
- Harry Potter:
- There are comments from female students on Ron's owl Pigwidgeon being cute in The Goblet of Fire. Ron thinks he's a stupid little feathery git.
- Little Owl's Night: The main character Little Owl.
- Feh from Fire Emblem Heroes is an adorable tiny white owl who delivers you items throughout the game.
- Blathers from the Animal Crossing series can be considered cute in an adorkable kind of way. His little sister Celeste however is completely cute with her Black Bead Eyes, Blush Stickers and pink bow. You can even tease Celeste about her being cute.
- Cedric the Owl in King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder! is your standard Wise Old Owl / Exposition Fairy, but his monocle and jacket definitively makes him cuter. His voice and role in the game however didn't please everybody.
- Pokémon Sun and Moon introduces the Grass starter Rowlet, a bowtied Mon so round that it can almost be considered a Waddling Head. Its later evolutions are more Adorkable as Dartrix is a Neat Freak who tends to bungle things up and only makes things worse while Decidueye acts all cool until someone gets the drop on it which then it panics.
- Back in Gold and Silver, Hoothoot could arguably be described as Creepy Cute with its round shape, its big red eyes, and crazy eyebrows and "eyeliner". Its evolution Noctowl however completely drops the cute act for a more imposing stature. Note that Hoothoot line is based on the Strigidae while the Rowlet line is based on the Tytonidae.
- The Togepi line, particularly Togekiss, may also be partially based on owls.
- The mascot of the Edutainment Game Duolingo is Duo, a small green owl.
- The classic Merrie Melodies short I Love to Singa features a little owl singing jazz in a radio contest.
- In the second season of Bojack Horseman, BoJack starts dating a cute female owl named Wanda Pierce, although it is less her cuteness and more the fact that she has no idea of all the gossip surrounding him, having just awakened from a 30-year coma, that made him fall in love with her.
- Owlicious from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Everybody immediately falls in love with the cute bird, Rarity even giving him a gems-encrusted bowtie at one point, except for Spike who is jealous of the owl getting so much attention. Through his eyes, everything he does is ominous.
Spike: Whoa! Dude, that's creepy.
- Adventure Time:
- The Cosmic Owl was presented as a mysterious and all powerful deity that everyone fears and respects as he appears in Prophetic Dreams. When he is formally introduced in the show, it turns out that he is a nerdy and awkward guy who just wants to play Tabletop Games with friends.
- Subverted with the bird woman (who is some kind of squirrel-owl mixup) from the episode "Hoots". When the Cosmic Owl sees her in while visiting dreams, he immediately falls for her and starts dating her, but it is eventually revealed that she is an avatar of Gunter a.k.a. Orgalorg manipulating him to appear in Princess Bubblegum's dream and turn it into a prophetic nightmare.
- Puffin Rock has Otto and his younger siblings Pip and Pop.