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Ear Fins

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Clockwise from upper-left: Demon, Mermaid, Fishman, and Fish.

A common physical feature for mermaids, Fish People and other aquatic characters — a set of fins on each side of the head, where the ears would be on a human. If they are explained, they will often be some form of external gills. If merfolk are not entirely human above the waist, they often have a few minor "fishy" traits, such as ear fins, arm fins or scattered scales on the skin.

If used on an otherwise human looking character, this can be the aquatic equivalent of Little Bit Beastly. It also makes them look like they have a complete fish for a head so audiences can make the connection more easily, and helps show their aquatic traits even in closeups of the head.

These have been occasionally used on non-aquatic characters too, such as monsters or aliens, generally to emphasize their other-ness, because it's such an unusual and distinctly non-mammalian trait.

A Sub-Trope of Pointy Ears and Unusual Ears.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Cardcaptor Sakura: The Watery card takes the form of mermaid, and has large blue fins for ears.
  • Digimon Frontier: Ranamon, Legendary Warrior of Water, has fins for ears.
  • Councilman Mazoura from Doraemon: Nobita's Drifts in the Universe is a huge fish-alien with rows of fins in place of ears.
  • Emperor Daibazaal from Golion is an alien who has purple ear fins (this also applies to his Voltron counterpart King Zarkon).
  • Mermaids and their subspecies relatives from Monster Musume has fin-like ears colored like their tails. The tropical mermaids seems to have smaller ears compare to the others.
  • My Hero Academia: Sirius otherwise looks like a human woman but has the Quirk "Good Ear", which manifests as large, blue, spiked finlike ears protruding from the side of her head. It gives her Super-Hearing. In keeping with the aquatic theme, she is the sidekick to the seal humanoid hero Selkie aboard his ship the Oki Mariner, and wears a sailor outfit.
  • Laura from Tropical-Rouge! Pretty Cure is a mermaid with blue ear fins, which match her tail and other fins, rather than her skin color.
  • In YuYu Hakusho Juri, one of the Cute Monster Girl announcers from the Dark Tournament, has a few features that are somewhere between a fish and an aquatic dragon. This includes having fin-like ears. At one point Yusuke even calls her "fish ears."

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes:
    • Fish Monster has a fin on each side of his head where ears would normally be.
    • The sea monster in episode 24 has fins on the sides of its head.

    Comic Books 
  • The Incredible Hulk: The Abomination has fins in place of his ears.
  • Despite being a demon rather than an aquatic creature, Etrigan has ear fins.
  • The DC Comics teen hero Lagoon Boy is a fish man whose design is heavily inspired by the Creature from the Black Lagoon. His fishlike appearance, which includes green finlike ears from the sides of his head, indicates that he is an Atlantean from the outskirts of the underwater kingdoms, and is a point of contrast against the more human-like Atlanteans like Aquaman.
  • In Saga, Intrepid Reporters/Paparazzi Doff and Upsher have these, as they are from the Ocean Planet Jetsam.
  • Black Catfish, the Spider-Ham counterpart of Black Cat, has ear fins. And catfish whiskers.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Ronno (a mer-boy) has ear fins rather than pointed humanoid ones, especially as drawn in the out of continuity Impossible Tales.

    Fan Works 
  • Star Trek: Phoenix: In human form, the Sirens retain a number of fishlike traits such as rayed fins instead of ears.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon: The titular creature has fins in place for ears.
  • Downplayed in The Shape of Water: The Amphibian Man has fins on the sides or his head where ears would be, but they're smaller and don't stick out as much as most examples, since it is a realistic-looking live-action film.


    Live-Action TV 
  • The Ultra Series have it's fair share of fish-based monsters, many whose fins are located on where the ears should be.
    • The Ragons from Ultra Q are a race of fish-humanoid, again loosely based on the Lagoon Creature, with fins in place of their ears.
    • Muruchi, a kaiju based on salmon, from Return of Ultraman has various fin protrusions on it's body, including fins for horns and two smaller ones for ears. It's subsequent reappearances as Zoa Muruchi in Ultraman Mebius a few decades later will have the ear-fins appearing more distinct.
    • Boze and King Paradai from Ultraman Leo, both monsters being based on aquatic life, have fins for ears. The former having a row of fins on the sides of its head starting from the ears, while the latter with two fin-like protrusions on the sides of it's head where ears would usually be, both which got ripped off by Leo during the fight.
    • An episode of Ultraman Dyna had the GUTS' underwater base being assaulted by a group of Digons, fish-based water-dwelling humanoids controlled by a much more powerful entity. Much like Ragon above, sure enough they too have fins for ears.
    • Lafreshion from Ultraman Neos is a water-dwelling monster based on a seahorse, with distinct large fins substituting for ears.
    • Jelga from Ultraman Cosmos, a marine monster which is a mix between a sea dragon and a clam, where the former aspect can be seen in it's head design, complete with fins in place of ears.
    • Ultraman Ace: Dreamgillas, a monster that usually dwells in a lake and created from combining seahorses, turtles and amphibian DNA, has large aquatic fins for ears. Those ears have supersonic hearing abilities as well, allowing the monster to detect airplanes from miles away.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • 1st Edition AD&D Monster Manual. The picture of the locathah (an undersea humanoid being) has fin-like ears.
    • In later editions of D&D, tritons (an aquatic humanoid race) are often depicted with fin ears.
    • Sahuagin are a species of Shark Man that are often drawn as having ears shaped like fins. And also short snouts fins like a catfish. In short they really don't look like sharks.
  • In the first edition of Blue Rose, the sea folk were sometimes depicted with fin-like ears in the artwork. There is no mention in the text of them having unusual ears, though, and the second edition art shows them with regular ears, so the canonicity of it is a bit uncertain.

    Video Games 
  • The Elder Scrolls: Among the many crests, horns, and ridges which the Lizard Folk known as Argonians can choose in lieu of hair are a few variations of fins along the side of the head. These can even be pierced like mammalian ears. Argonians are strong swimmers, from the rainforests and swampland of Black Marsh, and can have fishlike or crocodilian scale patterns as well.
  • Darkstalkers: Rikuo Aubath, a Fishman character which is a pretty blatant Expy of the Lagoon Creature, has fins for ears.
  • Dept. Heaven: Undines sport fin-like ears.
  • Divine Divinity: The cosmetic options for Lizards include fanlike sets of fins where a human, elf, or dwarf would have ears. Not all Lizards have them, however; some may have spikes, horns, plates, flexible combs, or nothing at all.
  • Freedom Planet: According to Word of God, Lilac, a half-breed water dragon, has ears reminiscent of fish fins hidden beneath her earpieces, which actually serve as hearing aids, as her half-breed nature results in her suffering from genetic defect that renders her near-deaf. Merga, a pure-blooded water dragon and the Big Bad of Freedom Planet 2, has non-obscured large fins seen in place of ears.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Pokémon: The Water-type Vaporeon has fins on the sides of its head where ears would be on its fellow Eeveelutions, and is often mistaken for a mermaid in-universe.
  • Puyo Puyo: Serilly the mermaid has fish fins in place of ears.
  • Spore: One of the sensory organs the player can add to their creature is an "alien ear" designed to resemble a fish fin, called Batboy. Alternately, one can invoke the ear fin appearance by putting actual fish fin creature parts in places where one would expect ears.
  • Spyro: A Hero's Tail: The Mer-Gnorcs have webbed fins instead of the regular Gnorcs' usual ears.
  • Trillion: God of Destruction: The Fallen One Levia sports a pair of these, most likely to better resemble her namesake, the Leviathan.
  • Touhou Project: Wakasagihime, a mermaid/ningyo, has fins where her ears would be if she were human.
  • Twisted Wonderland: Jade and Floyd, being merfolk who live on land in human forms, have pointy earfins in their real forms. Artistic License – Marine Biology is in play as they're partially moray eels, which don't have pointy fins.
  • Undyne from Undertale is a Fish Person with legs, but has blue skin and earfins.
  • A common optional feature in mermaid-themed dress-up games, for example this one and this one both include ear fins as an addable feature.

    Visual Novels 
  • Lovestruck Shorts: Arianna the mermaid from My Siren Crush has fins where a human would have ears.

    Web Animation 
  • In RWBY, the Faunus are a race of human-like people with an animal trait such as ears or a tail. Some of the fish-based Faunus seen in Menagerie have fins in place of normal ears.

  • Aurora: The Sekrai, a type of human adapted to live underwater have fins on the side of their heads.
  • Homestuck: Trolls aren't drawn with ears, but the talksprites for seadwellers have their gills placed right where their ears would be.
  • My Impossible Soulmate: Nereids, like Verity, are a Fish People with teal skin and fins for ears.
  • This page of Silent Sillies portrays a mermaid who is entirely human above the waist, except for having fins for ears.

    Western Animation 

     Real Life 
  • Axolotl have external gills which resemble this trope, although they are not actually fins.
  • Seahorses do have actual fins on the sides of their heads, which they use as their primary form of propulsion.