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Four-Legged Insect

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One convention animators made with insect characters was to draw them with only four legs, not the six legs they characteristically have. For example, the insect's front legs are hands and its hind legs are feet. One of the main reasons is that four legs are easier to animate than six legs and Law of Conservation of Detail comes into play. Another reason is that in a world of four-limbed mammals including humans, you'll want something for the audience to relate to in your characters and insects with their several limbs have a tendency to squick people out so you'll give them four limbs or instead double up some limbs so at least they function as quadripeds or bipeds.

One variant of this trope is to give decapods (ten-legged crustaceans) six or eight legs instead of the ten legs (including claws) that real world decapods have. Again, fewer legs mean less animation time. Another, less common variant that was more common in cartoons of the 1930s and 1940s was to draw spiders with six legs instead of eight. Scorpions, however, are still often drawn with six legs, perhaps because their pincers are easily mistaken for the fourth pair. In reality scorpions' pincers are not legs at all, but modified mouthparts called pedipalps. Strangely, octopuses are rarely drawn with less than their usual eight arms.

Sometimes this trope is inverted in which insects are depicted with eight legs and arachnids with ten legs.

Compare Four-Fingered Hands, which is based on the same principle. Contrast Vertebrate with Extra Limbs.

Insect Examples

    open/close all folders 

  • Buzz the bee from the Honey Nut Cheerios commericals.
  • The bee on the Bumblebee tuna cans.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Ham: Ant-Ant, the Bee-Yonder, and the X-Bugs. Averted for Ant-Ant in the Aporkalypse Now miniseries, in which he has two sets of arms (although the Bee-Yonder doesn't).

    Eastern European Animation 
  • In Vízipók-Csodapók, most insect characters, such as the beetles, bees, and ants, are portrayed with two arms and two legs.

    Fan Works 



    Live-Action TV 
  • Though the exact nature of El Chapulín Colorado (The Red Grasshopper) is never explained, his antennae are shown to be part of his body and he feels pain when they are damage, so is not clear if he is using a uniform or he is a mix between human and grasshopper. In one episode he talks about his family mentioning several insect names, so if he is a humanoid insect, then he has four limps.
  • Pistachón Zigzag in Odisea Burbujas is a giant Bumblebee with two arms and two legs.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Bible: "But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you" (Lev 11:23). This seems to be a semantic issue: the Bible mentions creeping things with four feet...and then describes how locusts have four feet, plus those two extra ones, which is partly how you tell they're kosher. There are a fair number of bugs with two legs different than the others, which the ancient Hebrews apparently counted as "leg-like appendages which are not technically legs."
    • For extra confusion, that word for "creeping thing/insect" can also just be translated "winged creature," meaning it's sometimes badly translated as "bird."

    Video Games 
  • Scuttlebugs from Super Mario 64.
  • The bees from Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2.
  • Bug and his family from Bug! being Funny Animals. Oddly enough, many of the insect enemies in the game have the correct amount of six, but some of them still have four.
  • Bug Fables simultaneously plays this trope straight and averts it. Almost every single major character or NPC stands on two legs while the enemies have the proper number of appendages.
  • Most of the anthropomorphic bugs from Hollow Knight have fewer body members than in real life due to the game's aesthetic and art style, with the insects having four legs while the arachnids have six. There are some exceptions, however, such as the Last Stag and Willoh, a rhinoceros beetle and a giraffe weevil with somewhat more realistic designs, accurately having six legs.
  • Most Bug-type Pokémon. See the arachnid section for more.
  • Charmy Bee from Sonic the Hedgehog has only two arms and two legs.
  • Princess Apoidea from Nefarious.
  • The viceroy and monarch butterflies in Drunk on Nectar exhibit this in reference to their real life counterparts.
  • Metroid II: Return of Samus: Most arthropod looking creatures have one less set of legs than the Earth variety. Justified because SR388 is not Earth.

    Web Animation 
  • One Minute Fly: Every fly seen in the series has just two arms and two legs; the first installment implies that this is because they're part of a prehistoric species that predates the formation of modern six-legged insects.

  • The characters in Gulyk look like ants with four limbs until you notice the tiny, tiny arms drawn on their hips.
  • The Trolls in Homestuck are born looking like insect larvae, with 6 limbs, but grow up to be Human Aliens.

    Western Animation 
  • Bounce the bedbug from Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends has only two legs. (All the other insects and arachnids in the series, however, have the proper number of limbs, making Bounce a very peculiar exception.)
  • The eponymous Atom Ant from the Hanna-Barbera cartoon The Atom Ant Show.
  • The bee that stings James in the Thomas & Friends episode "Buzz Buzz". Curiously enough, the exact same bee was drawn with six legs in a storybook based on this episode (blame ease of animation), and that the bees in the later episodes were drawn with six legs.
  • Zipper the fly from Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers.
  • Spike the bee and Wilbur the grasshopper from the Classic Disney Shorts
    • Also, the fly from the Mickey Mouse cartoon, The Worm Turns who is Mickey's test subject for a spritzer to make prey animals attack their predators.
    • The 1935 short Mickey's Garden features a lot of them as well. Except that one of them for some reason has eight legs.
    • Bucky Bug from the Silly Symphony Bugs in Love and ten gazillion Disney comics.
  • The Flea family from Tiny Toon Adventures.
  • The Looney Tunes short "To Itch His Own" features a blue, four-legged flea.
    • Just about every Warners cartoon with insects and bugs as the star gives them four legs. Examples include "The Fighting 69-1/2th," "Of Thee I Sting," "A Hop, Skip and a Chump" (with Hopalong Casserole the grasshopper) and "Joe Glow, The Firefly." Notable exceptions include the spider in "Meatless Flyday" who is given six legs instead of eight.
  • The Uncle Ant plush in The Simpsons episode "Itchy and Scratchy Land" has four legs.
  • Chief Herbert Dumbrowski (a flea) from T.U.F.F. Puppy
  • Inverted: Cricket, a very minor character from WordWorld, has eight legs instead of six, despite him being an insect rather than an arachnid.
  • Flecko the fly, a reoccurring character in Rocko's Modern Life.
  • The cockroaches from Oggy and the Cockroaches. They gain the extra pair when they become realistic roaches in the episode "For Real".
  • Maya the Bee. Bees have two hands and two legs. But Flip has four hands and it's even lampshaded in one episode of the new 3D cartoon.
  • Inverted in an episode of Garfield and Friends, where a cricket with eight limbs (six legs and two arms) appear. Unless his maxillary palps are what look like human arms.
  • All of the bugs in Erky Perky are depicted with four limbs—two arms, two legs—although a few also have a set of wings.

  • Victorian tobacco pipes have been found, as seen in Time Team, with clay tobacco beetles imprinted for decoration but alas, only four limbs.
  • The mascot of the Fresno Bee newspaper is a four-legged bee.
  • The mascot of the New Orleans (formerly Charlotte) Hornets is a four-legged wasp.
  • The mascot of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets has two arms (sometimes with or without two legs).

    Real Life 
  • Members of the family Nymphalidae of butterflies, while having six legs, only use four of their legs. The other two are vestigial.
  • Praying mantids, while they have six legs, stand on only four of them. Unlike the Nymphalid butterflies, however, they do still use their third pair of legs, which are frequently compared to/depicted as arms.

Decapod Examples

    Animated Film 
  • The shrimp in Shark Tale have six legs.
  • Sebastian from The Little Mermaid has six legs and two claws.
  • Tamatoa from Moana is portrayed with eight limbs: two large claws in the front, four legs for walking (although one of those is partly missing) and two smaller claws in the back. Granted, the hindmost limbs of real life coconut crabs are greatly reduced and are hidden under their carapaces, which makes Tamatoa's statement in his Villain Song about being a decapod despite only having eight functional limbs justified.

    Eastern European Animation 

    Video Games 
  • The crab enemies from Bug!! have six legs and two claws. Just two legs shy of a proper crab.
  • Pokémon: In addition to claws, Dwebble has two legs, Krabby, Kingler, Crawdaunt, and Clauncher have four legs, Corphish and Crustle have six, and Clawitzer has none.
  • Crabs in World of Warcraft have only four legs plus two claws.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Coconut crabs (on which Tamatoa from Moana is based) have five pairs of legs like any decapod, but their hindmost pair of limbs are vestigial and usually hidden under their carapace.

Arachnid Examples

  • Lamput: The spider in "Lamput & The Spider" has six legs instead of the eight that real-life arachnids have.
  • In Vízipók-Csodapók, the protagonist, a water spider, and the deuteragonist, a diadem spider, are both portrayed with two arms and four legs.

    Comic Strips 
  • Spiders in Garfield frequently have only six legs, although they have appeared with eight in older strips.

  • BIONICLE: the Visorak swarm (barring a few types of Kahgaraks) and Fenrakk have 4 legs. Some of the before-mentioned Kahgaraks have 6 legs, as well as Fenrakk Spawn Spiders. Strangely justified in-universe because they were made that way by their creators the Brotherhood of Makuta.

    Video Games 
  • Bendy and the Ink Machine has Edgar, who seems to have 4 legs on the "The Butcher Gang" poster (though a third pair of his legs might of been obscured by Charly and poster damage), and had six legs in the actual cartoons, if the character doodles made by Time-the-Hobo (who is the official 2D animator/Cartoonist for the game) are to be believed. Striker, the Mook based on an anthropomorphic version of Edgar, has two legs and four arms, though his left arms have been mangled and mechanically fused into one, allowing for him to attack Henry with a Megaton Punch.
  • Doom: the Spider Mastermind and her Arachnotrons all have two vestigial arms and four mechanical legs. (Granted, they're just demons with "spider" in their name.) Doom 64 plays it straighter, giving them another pair of mechanical legs while removing their vestigial arms.
  • The Giant Spider from Limbo only has four legs.
  • The Pokémon Ariados and Galvantula are Giant Spiders with four legs each. Galvantula's unevolved form is a four-legged tick (still an arachnid). Ariados evolve from Spinarak, which have six legs - two shy of an actual spider. (The two it loses in evolving migrate to Ariados' back.) Dewpider and Araquanid both have six legs as well. Skorupi and Drapion are four-legged scorpions. Tarountula and Spidops, on the other hand, are the only arachnoid Pokemon to have all eight legs, though Spidops' are grouped into four sets of two legs each.
  • In Scooby-Doo! First Frights and its sequel Scooby-Doo! and the Spooky Swamp, spiders only have six legs.
  • Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 also featured spider enemies with four legs. Interestingly enough, one boss from the first game, Tarantox, has six legs.
  • Most arthropods in Temtem have the same number of limbs as their inspirations, but Akranox (a scorpion) has four legs and two pincers.
  • The spiders in the Mickey Mouse game World of Illusion have six legs instead of eight.

    Web Original 
  • Cake Wrecks occasionally gets cake creations supposed to resemble spiders, usually around Halloween. One of the worst examples they received were cookies, supposed to be iced to look like spiders on webs, but each had only four legs and the overall result was deemed to look more like "squashed ants on target boards".

    Web Animation 
  • Basically every spider character, including Yellow Spider, in Challenge to Win has four legs, whereas spiders in real life only have eight.
  • Same goes for El Nudelo Spider from Object Terror.

    Western Animation 
  • Ocho from The Amazing World of Gumball has only six legs, though it is justified because he is 8-bit, so it is easier to animate him with less legs. Ironically his name is Spanish for "eight".
  • The six-legged spider from the Mickey Mouse cartoon, The Worm Turns, who gets attacked by the test subject four-legged fly.
  • Spider from WordWorld has six legs and two antennae.
  • Sumu the scorpion in The Lion Guard has six legs plus two pincers.

Other Examples

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man: One comic had a kid point out that Doctor Octopus's name is inaccurate because he only has six arms (four of which are mechanical tentacles). Ock points out that he's counting his legs too.
    • When he upgrades to eight mechanical tentacles (before the Ends of the Earth storyline, as his body is degenerating), Spider-Man asks whether he should call Ock "Dr. Squid", among other less-flattering names.

    Eastern European Animation 

  • Tuck and Roll, the isopods [pillbugs] from A Bug's Life, have eight legs. Isopods are supposed to have 14.
  • Justified in Finding Dory. Animators found it hard to give Hank the octopus all eight limbs, so they gave him seven and a backstory about losing the eighth.
  • Ursula, from The Little Mermaid (1989), has only six tentacles. However, if one counts her two humanoid arms, then she does have eight limbs. Her sister Morgana, who appears in The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea is animated with eight tentacles plus two arms for a total of ten, which, along with her skinnier physique, makes her look more like a squid than an octopus.
  • Dave the Octopus and his hench-octopi from Penguins of Madagascar are most of the time animated with six tentacles instead of eight. Interestingly, in one brief gag where Classified counts Dave's tentacles, he is animated with eight of them.

    Video Games 
  • Pokémon's Scolipede is simplified from the centipede's myriad of legs to just four that it stands on and a dozen shorter ones that it doesn't.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Silithids — an insectoid sapient species — all have four legs, or four legs and wings. Crabs also only have four legs. Oddly, many lizard type critters have six, moving in triangular two on one side, one on the other.
    • The Nerubians are all over the place: they're supposed to be spider-men, but have six limbs arranged in centaur fashion (four legs supporting the abdomen, two arms from the torso). The Crypt Lord is supposed to be a mummified Nerubian, but looks like a massive armored beetle with the same limb distribution. It can summon smaller bugs called carrion beetles, which only have four legs and two massive mandibles. Then you have the Makrura, giant six-limbed lobsters. And to top it all off, the game contains normal crabs and spiders (well, "normal"... the smallest is the size of a dog, and the biggest the size of a building) which have... eight limbs.
  • Pikmin: Most arthropods have four or fewer legs. Arachnodes, spider-like enemies with a full eight legs, are explicitly noted in-universe as unusual, and this and its hermaphroditism have led to in-universe speculation that it's actually two four-legged arthropods, one male and one female, joined together.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Tektites don't seem to fit any one particular type of arthropod, having the legs connected to a single body structure, but otherwise, they always have four legs — two less than insects, four less than arachnids.

    Western Animation 
  • Squidward of SpongeBob SquarePants has six limbs when he should have eight as an octopus. Furthermore, his four legs work in pairs, so he walks as if on two legs.
  • Gargoyles has example applied to a mythological creature rather than a real one: Sleipnir's most distinguished trait is being a horse with eight legs, but the show depicts it as simply having four like a regular horse, because it was decided an eight-legged horse would be too difficult to animate.
  • The circus octopuses from the Classic Disney Short "Merbabies" have six tentacles instead of eight. (They move like elephants in a parade, using one tentacle as a trunk, one as a tail, and the other four as legs.)