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Doofy Dodo

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I have no fear of anyone
I'm dumb and wild and free
I am a flightless bird
And there'll be no more after me.
the Mountain Goats, "Deuteronomy 2:10"

Many creatures have become extinct throughout Earth's history (it is estimated that 99% of all life that has ever existed on Earth is currently extinct). But while different kinds of dinosaurs are usually selected for prehistoric settings, there are a variety of other species of extinct animals that come to mind when thinking of the past. One of these creatures is the dodo, which is kind of the poster-child when someone thinks of an extinct species.

The dodo was a flightless bird that lived on Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar that wasn't discovered until 1507. It is placed in the same family of birds as pigeons and doves (Columbidae). If you look at a baby pigeon and depictions of the dodo side by side, you might discover some similarities. Due to their isolation, they were naive towards predators and were wiped out within a few decades of their discovery, so quick in fact they were believed to have been mythical for a time. However, their images were recorded in various books about animals and various tissue and bone fragments have been discovered on Mauritius in modern times.

With their rather goofy-looking appearance, they eventually became a popular animal choice for jokes, leading to portrayals of them as silly in one way or another. One way of portraying comedic dodos is by featuring them as dim bulbs whose inability to fly leads to jokes at their expense. They can sometimes also act as Cloudcuckoolanders or The Fool.

A case of Historical Downgrade, as recent research has deduced that dodos are actually smarter than they're stereotyped, presumed to have around the same average IQ as a pigeon and their main cause for extinction had nothing to do with them being Too Dumb to Live.note  Their surviving distant relatives from the same island, the Pink Pigeon, offer some insight on the dichotomy between dodo brainpower and their reputation: these birds have a reputation in breeding programs as Ditzy Geniuses, clever in terms of general intelligence measures, but absolutely rubbish at basic bird tasks like nest building thanks to spending millennia in evolutionary easy mode.

If a comedic dodo's silliness comes from a lack of intelligence, it can overlap with Dumb Dinos as dodos, being birds, are dinosaurs. See Unwise Owl for another portrayal of unwise birds, Dogs Are Dumb and Moose Are Idiots for other animals portrayed with low intelligence. Compare The Dinosaurs Had It Coming for another self-inflicted extinction.


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    Comic Books 
  • Dodo Man, a one-shot Batman villain from the bronze age, had a fixation on natural history as his idiosyncrazy.
  • Dodo from Animal Crackers is temperamental and too stubborn to realize he's flightless.
  • The Dodo and the Frog was a 1940s and 1950s DC Comics series that featured a dull-witted dodo bird and a frog who continually tried and failed to take advantage of him. The duo originally ran as a feature in DC's Golden Age Funny Animal humor title Funny Stuff, eventually taking over the title. Dunbar Dodo and Fenimore Frog eventually returned in the 1980s Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!. Dunbar's employed as a cruise ship captain, while Fenimore (still nursing a grudge) occasionally becomes the monstrous giant Frogzilla.
  • In Lil i Put shepherd Świętopełk tends to an entire flock of clueless dodo birds who do nothing but walk around, making goofy "dod" sounds.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side: The idea of Dodos as stupid is flipped in one strip. They are presented as an Older and Wiser Perfect Pacifist People who spend their time on philosophical and intellectual pursuits. Unfortunately, they are wiped out by savage, barbaric humans.
  • Safe Havens:
    • Samantha successfully cloned two dodos, Paul and Mary, who turned out to be paragons of stupid, self-destructive behavior. Fortunately, their descendants seem to be more levelheaded, considering the grandchildren see Paul and Mary as 'failed prototypes' and successfully negotiated to keep them out of the dodo sanctuary, to the point of filing restraining orders. After Mars is terraformed, Paul and Mary decide to make their home there, raising two more chicks (With a third on the way). Mars, for its part, regards them as pets.
      • That said, Paul and Mary do have some signs of intelligence: they are smart enough to count cards while gambling, have come up with some creative schemes, and when they knew they were approaching the end of their life cycle, turned themselves into cyborgs to live forever, but it's implied they're held back by their greed and lack of impulse control.
    • When life starts evolving on Mars, there was enough merfolk DNA left there to allow merfolk to appear again...except they start appearing as half-fish, half-dodo. (Samantha theorizes that merfolk's top halves evolve to reflect the dominant species of the time, hence these creatures, the half-human creature of Earth, and the plesiosaurs of the time of the dinosaurs.)

  • Prehistoric Park Reimagined has a small group of dodos amongst the animals rescued for the titular zoo. And while not by any means stupid, they are portrayed as an avian species of Fearless Fool who are so utterly lacking in any understanding of the concept of danger that they are perfectly willing to try to challenge animals visibly larger than themselves to battle against them. And as a result, they are one of two animals at the park that manage to serve as a fairly consistent source of comic relief.

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney's Alice in Wonderland has The Dodo, who is a Composite Character of the original Dodo, and another character named Pat. Despite his British gentleman demeanor, he's not too bright, as his first suggestion as to how to get the "monster" (a giant-sized Alice) out of the White Rabbit's house is to attempt to set the place on fire and "smoke the monster out".
  • Ice Age has a group of dodos that are preparing for the Ice Age. However, at the point they're introduced they've only gathered three melons, one of which the main trio needs to feed the human baby. They end up wiping out their flock right then and there just trying to defend the melons, starting with the flock's last female killing herself and the rest falling to their deaths.
  • The "Yellow Bellies" (Beipiaosaurus) from The Land Before Time XIII: The Wisdom of Friends resemble dodos and look nothing like the dinosaurs they're supposed to represent.
  • The Lonely Dodo (short) The titular lonely Dodo as more of tragic character because he is alone.

  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is widely cited as having launched dodos back into modern popular culture. Lewis Carroll, whose real name was Charles Dodgson, had a stammer, and often inadvertently referred to himself as "Do-Do-Dodgson". As such, and as a fan of the London Natural History Museum, which includes a dodo skeleton in its collection, he began referring to himself as "Dodo" and thus inserted a dodo into his book as an Author Avatar. While not as dumb as subsequent appearances, Carroll's Dodo does encourage Alice and other birds (all of whom are expies of friends of Alice's inspiration, Alice Liddell) to run a "caucus race" in which anyone can run in any direction and everybody wins. This was a deliberate Take That! to the political caucus system, which Carroll saw as unclear and indecisive.
  • A dodo appears in The Peacock Party, a sequel to The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast, in the poem "The Dodo's Dream", which portrays it as weird. The illustration shows the dodo bursting through an elephant-shaped teapot (legs through the bottom, head through the spout/trunk) while surrounded by surreal dream imagery.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Goodies: In "Dodonuts", Bill buys the world's last dodo from a pet shop and then attempts to teach it to defend itself against Tim and Graeme. However, he quickly learns that the bird has no survival instincts whatsoever.
  • "Ansatsu-chan", the Dodo Magia from Kamen Rider Zero-One is an inversion of this trope. Despite his dodo motif, he can evolve to be stronger enough through learning and managed to put up a good fight against the heroic Riders.
  • A comical dodo appears in the Anne Murray episode of The Muppet Show swapping bird puns with her while she's trying to sing "Snowbird".
  • The Dodo family in Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird are entirely clueless, both in general (Daddy Dodo can't operate a lawnmower, the two kids have literally no imagination whatsoever) and specifically in being unable to realise Big Bird isn't happy living with them. They also exhibit Fantastic Racism to non-avians.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The "Dinosaur" edition from Pachimon somehow contains a dodo kaiju as one of the monsters.

  • Beanie Babies: Averted with Dinky the Dodo, who's not framed as being dumb or goofy at all. Their poem instead emphasizes their small stature and how they show confidence despite it. Granted Dinky also doesn't look much like a dodo bird, instead more strongly resembling a duck.

    Video Games 
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons: The island's airport is run by two dodos, Orville and Wilbur; the joke being that flightless birds are the ones flying the plane. They're competent, but a little ditzy with one of them obsessed with military lingo and the other forgetting to lock or even close the door while they're still setting up.
  • ARK: Survival Evolved has dodos among the many extinct animals wandering the game's Island of Mystery. They're prey for all the game's carnivores, completely defenseless, and very, very slow. They can be trivially beaten to death by a brand new character wielding only their fists. Their dossier page states that they're possibly the dumbest creature the author has ever seen and that the only reason they survive is by adapting to reproduce incredibly quickly, hence why they are so common despite constantly being eaten by dinosaurs and humans. The only thing that will cause normal dodos to become aggressive is taking their eggs, and they'll still run if you hit them after this. That being said, the zomdodos introduced in the Fear Evolved event and the Dodorex avert this - these things are extremely aggressive and can take a bucketload of hard to craft ammunition to kill them.
  • Subverted in Evil Genius 2. The dodo bird you steal as part of a loot quest is actually very smart and can help train your minions to become scientists.
  • Dodos appear as enemies in Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, although they are more threatening than their comical roles in the first film.
  • Jurassic Park mobile games created by Ludia which aren't canon to the movies have some examples:
    • Jurassic Park Builder: Inverted. As a limited-time creature in the Glacier Park, it's not dumb and is actually one of the best fighters in the game. However, it can somehow fly and make funny noises. It's probably meant to be a Lethal Joke Character.
    • Jurassic World: The Game: The Dodo appears as a non-playable food item that is eaten by the Cenozoic predators in the island's biodome. Also on April 1st and Thanksgiving Day it appears as a herbivore World Event boss fight, dubbed 'Death Dodo'. Most likely intended as a Lethal Joke Character. 'Beating' it will award the player with a statue of itself, which can be used as a decoration (humorously, the words 'Like a Boss' are written on it). A statue of a normal dodo also appears on Easter Day, again as an unlockable decoration.
  • Monster Hunter: World introduces the Kulu Ya-Ku, a comical bird wyvern with the head of a dodo and described to be not-so bright. Unlike other bird wyverns, the Kulu Ya-Ku prefers to run than fight, only retaliating when cornered. It has a fondness for monster eggs, spending most of its time raiding nests even when angry parents are around. Perhaps in reference to the dodo bird's lack of fear for humans, the Kulu Ya-Ku's docile nature allows the hunter to get up close to the monster without provoking it. This does not apply in Monster Hunter: Rise, where it's just as hostile as the other monsters there.
  • Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time has a Dodo guard, that attacks by swinging its beak, throwing rocks, and rolling eggs.
  • In the Distant Marsh stage from Soulcalibur IV, you can spot dodos roaming around.
  • The second Zoo Tycoon game has dodo birds as one of the adoptable species when the Extinct Animals expansion pack has been installed. They aren't dumb per se, but they are very cheap and easy to exhibit.


    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: In "The Void", it's shown that dodos didn't actually go extinct in this universe, but rather were trapped in the titular void because the Universe itself regretted creating such stupid creatures.
  • American Dad!: In "Steve and Snot's Test-Tubular Adventure", Stan brings home Daren, a dodo cloned by the CIA that has to be repeatedly saved from killing itself. The first time Stan introduces Daren, it coats itself in oil, breads itself, and sits in a pan on the stove after lighting the burner.
  • Birdz: In one episode, when Eddie laments his friend Tommy (a domestic turkey) being flightless, his father assures him there are plenty of good flightless birds and cites the dodo as an example, only for his wife to remind him that dodos are extinct.
  • In an episode of The Fairly OddParents! that takes place at Niagara Falls, when Timmy is falling over the falls, Cosmo turns him into a loon, as he believes it's Canada's national bird. note  He proceeds to turn himself and Wanda into dodos, as he believes it's Canada's national extinct flightless bird. Wanda immediately recognizes the danger of being turned into a flightless bird while falling down a waterfall and demands that Cosmo does something. He decides to give them both mustaches.
  • The Flintstones: The series frequently mentions dodo eggs, most notably in "The Twitch", where an allergic reaction to them leads to the titular Accidental Dance Craze.
  • Kim Possible: In "The Twin Factor", Drakken uses a mind-control chip on Shego to replace her usual insolent attitude with placid obedience. At one point, he amuses himself by sending her to look for a dodo bird.
  • Looney Tunes has Yoyo Dodo in one of their most famous cartoons, "Porky in Wackyland", who looked nothing like the real thing (being green with a little red/pink umbrella on his head), and is a Reality Warper of the highest order. Gogo Dodo, his counterpart in Tiny Toon Adventures is very similar, and also pops out of the Acme Looniversity clock for Cuckoo Clock Gags.
  • An episode of The Penguins of Madagascar has the penguins accidentally clone a dodo bird which turns out to be a Fearless Fool and repeatedly gets himself killed, forcing the penguins to clone him over and over. Which is actually Truth in Television (and mentioned on the show), as part of the reason dodos went extinct is that there were next to no predators on their island, and therefore they evolved no defenses and were oblivious to how dangerous humans were when they first showed up.
  • Viva Piñata: Obviously metaphorical, but Pester does call the Ruffians "Dodo-brained dunderpates" in "All Spun Out".
  • Discussed in the Wild Kratts episode "Back in Creature Time: Day of the Dodo": Chris mentions how dodos being unafraid of humans led to many people believing they were stupid when they were really rather intelligent.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Dumb Dodo Bird


Ice Age Dodos

The page image comes from the movie Ice Age which has a group of dodos that are preparing for the Ice Age. However, at the point they're introduced they've only gathered three melons, one of which the main trio needs to feed the human baby. They end up wiping out their entire flock right then and there just trying to defend the melons, starting with the flock's last female killing herself and the rest falling to their deaths.

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