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Empathy Pet

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Just try calling her a cat.

A cute little pet sidekick whose emotions and reactions are closely synchronized with their keeper. The pet serves the function of the traditional zany from the Commedia dell'Arte, aping their human's reactions, and frequently revealing attitudes that the main character may be keeping hidden.

When alone, the character could also talk with this pet, treating them as a separate person with the knowledge that would make the pet an extension of the owner's personality.

Related to Expressive Accessory, which is the garment version of this trope. Not to be confused with a Morality Pet, which is a character that redeems a villain or dark anti-hero. Compare Loyal Animal Companion who may lack this empathy despite their devotion to their owner. Mons may act in this role, especially the main character's.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • 07-Ghost takes this trope to a whole new level: Not only is Burupya Teito's certified empathy pet as he is also Mikage's incarnation. Thus making this cuter than cute dragon a mix of pet and best friend, bonus points for the Heroic Sacrifice involved.
  • Maya from Azumanga Daioh, though he shows up much later in the series than most (→ Sakaki)
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • As shown in the page image, panda Xiao-Mei is this for Mei Chang, to the point that Xiao-Mei even mimics the girl's movements. For added fun, Xiao-Mei literally translates to "Little Mei" in Mandarin Chinese.
    • Riza Hawkeye's dog Black Hayate. Like his master, he is quiet, cute, and has a whole lot of persistence and courage packed into a small frame (witness his attack on Gluttony when the latter has Riza cornered).
  • Boogie-kun from Karin (→ Anju) clearly reflects his master's thoughts, even the ones she resents having.
  • The alien creature Guvava from Macross 7 (→ Mylene)
  • One Piece: Chimney's Bunny/Cat thing Gonbe. He's probably the most literal example being a second Chimney in every way. He mimics her movements, facial expressions, and even his growls/mews/whatever-the-hell sound he makes are the same number of syllables as every one of Chimney's statements.
  • Happens in Pokémon: The Series a fair deal, but the Mime Jr. species is particularly notable - its very nature means it exactly duplicates the gestures and expressions of its owner. The fact that James, a member of the Team Rocket trio, happens to own one helps show this.
  • Yumekichi the monkey (→ Keiji) in Sengoku Basara often mimics his master's actions and serves to reflect his true emotions when he enters Stepford Smiler mode.
  • Q-chan, a holograph resembling a floating blob, from Vandread (→ Misty Cornwell)
  • Melpo in Yes! Pretty Cure 5 GO!GO!. (→ Syrup)
  • Puu from YuYu Hakusho (→ Yusuke). Justified because he is a representation of Yusuke's soul or 'inner self'. Yusuke is a delinquent and Puu is an affectionate stuffed animal.

    Comic Books 
  • Green Lantern: Hal Jordan had a pet alien starfish named Itty in his space trucker days.
  • Tank in My Little Pony Micro Series Issue #2, even just holding his flag to cheer on Rainbow when the rest of town has given up hope.
  • Old Lace from Runaways is telepathically bonded to Gert and after her death to Chase.
  • Bob the Insecticon serves as this in IDW's Transformers comics for Sunstreaker. This leads to a moment when Sunstreaker is feeling rejected and sad and Bob curls up next to Sunstreaker and comforts him.
  • X-Men:
    • Kitty Pryde's dragon Lockheed.
    • Doctor Nemesis of X-Club gets stuck with one after a telepathic starfish bonds to his head. Said starfish broadcasts his thoughts, which he first discovered when the starfish revealed that Nemesis often admires his co-worker Doctor Rao's "shapely behind" (while Doctor Rao is standing right next to him). The starfish later reveals that Nemesis is jealous of Cyclops' cool costume. It also reveals that while Nemesis doesn't think too highly of his co-worker Jeffries' scientific methodology, he does crave his friendship. Nemesis understandably wants said starfish gone as soon as possible. At the end of the series he keeps it because he "[gets] lonely without it."

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney Animated Canon examples:
    • Aladdin:
      • Abu → Aladdin for the thieving and points out his Love at First Sight with Jasmine.
      • Rajah → Jasmine. Watch her reaction to the Sultan talking about the betrothal.
    • Pegasus from Hercules was given to Hercules at birth and then accompanied him during all his adventures. It's expected he would know the boy better than he knows himself.
    • Djali from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, who was from the original book (→ Esmeralda). With the gypsy 'magic' and the timely rescue at the gallows, one could be forgiven for thinking the goat was her familiar.
    • Pocahontas:
      • Meeko and Flit (→ Pocahontas) act out her "I Want" Song while she sings it.
      • The villain, Ratcliffe, also has one, a pug named Percy, who does a Heel–Face Turn and joins the good guys. Percy, while he is meant to be an Empathy Pet, doesn't exactly share much in personality with Ratcliffe. All they really have in common is a preference for the finer things in life.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Maleficent, Diaval can be considered this, especially in the scene where he tells Maleficent about the christening. She doesn't show emotion, while he displays the emotion she ought to feel.
  • Salacious Crumb from Return of the Jedi (→ Jabba; for those who don't recognize the name, he's the little "Oh, OHH hohohohohoho!" guy)
  • The dog and cat from Swing Time (→ the Watsons)

  • Although it would be in the worst taste to label them as "pets", Dæmons (animal avatars of a person's soul) in the His Dark Materials trilogy often serve this purpose to their person. Will is disturbed by the idea that someone could learn so much about him just by looking at the animal that follows him around but Lyra, who is used to this sort of thing, says that means his daemon would be an animal that looks like another animal.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The direwolves belonging to the Stark children seem to be capable of feeling the same emotions as their owners. Normally they are capable of discerning whether or not a character is to be trusted but there have been a few instances where the wolves acted aggressively towards a character their owner had been angry at, even if they were trustworthy.
    • Daenerys's dragons seem to be empathic as well.
  • Dairine from the Young Wizards series has a telepathic link with her sentient laptop, so it makes some sense that he reflects her moods. Exactly how Spot can do this without a face is a bit of a mystery, but he manages.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The concept of Familiars from Dungeons & Dragons. They are bonded animals that share their partners' adventures and trials, etc.
  • Muses from Eclipse Phase can fulfill this function. They are AIs given to transhumans at an early age which remain with them for the rest of their lives. They are designed to help people navigate the ocean of data that is integral to transhuman society, as well as be a confidant, companion, personal assistant, therapist, technical support, researcher, translator, and whatever else the individual may need.

    Video Games 

  • Chester in College Roomies from Hell!!! (→ Dave). Of course, he does have half of Dave's soul, making it a Justified Trope.
  • In their definitions Ryuu-Nekos from Dreamkeepers are described as having this as an attribute when they bond with or are tamed by their owners in addition to the personality quirks already present in their breed.
  • "Little Nase", the fairy doll of Nanase (and later herself) that Susan can summon in El Goonish Shive. While Susan is generally very reserved, she seems to quite like having some outlet for her emotions that her friends can pick up on. (Although, when she first realised what the doll was doing, it reflected her emotions by trying to hide.)
  • The cat on Ian's head in Mac Hall.
  • Lita, Zii's cat in Ménage à 3.
  • In Sluggy Freelance during the Anima arc, the gang gets stuck in a dimension where the souls of all sapient life manifest a symbolic creature called an "anima" representing their current feelings. This makes deception impossible for most people, with the exception of the bedeviled, who possess corrupted animas. As a result, it is one of the friendliest and most peaceful dimensions that gang has ever visited, at least when it comes to sapient folk interactions (the wild natural fauna on the other hand included deadly giant monsters).

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: "The Origins" two-parter reveals that Darwin was originally this to Gumball (mimicking his mannerisms when they first met) before The Power of Love granted him more intelligence, speech, and working lungs and legs.
  • Horseland: Each of the horses tend to reflect the personality of their rider.
  • An episode of King of the Hill revolves around Hank's dog Ladybird being uncharacteristically aggressive to a black repairman, causing everyone to believe that Hank must be racist and that Ladybird picked up on it, despite Hank's protests. Eventually, even Hank gets concerned he might subconsciously be racist without knowing it. Then Ladybird acts just as aggressive to a white repairman and Hank finally realizes that he's not racist after all, he just hates repairmen.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Rarity's cat Opalescence is shown hissing and growling at a set of ugly dresses Rarity made, even as Rarity herself tries to pretend that they are fine.

    Real Life 
  • The concept is Truth in Television; some animals react very markedly to the emotions of their keeper and sometimes others. Though like everything else, fiction obviously exaggerates the effects.


Video Example(s):



When Catra meets Melog, it forms a bond with her, after which it begins reflecting Catra's emotional state... and betraying her feelings for Adora.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / EmpathyPet

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