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Furry Confusion

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"The classic Disney cartoon universe has traditionally hosted two types of animals. The first type includes human-like animals such as Goofy and Mickey Mouse who wear clothes, pay taxes, and speak in some kind of coherent human language. The other type more closely resembles actual animals — Pluto, for example, runs around naked, eats whatever he happens to find laying on the floor, and sniffs the crotches of random strangers, just like your average real-world dog (Goofy, on the other hand, only pulls that shit in fanfic)."

In many cartoon or comic settings one will often find that the characters are anthropomorphic animals. The audience tends to accept this without question — until animals that don't look or sound humanlike appear in the same continuity. Fortunately the audience doesn't usually have a big problem with this.

Things get unquestionably weird when non-humanlike specimens of the same species of animals the main characters are based upon are shown existing in the setting alongside them.

Some Furry Fiction Hand Waves this by explaining that their very humanoid characters have a science-fiction basis. They may be Uplifted Animals, animals that were given Anthropomorphic Transformations, aliens that happen to look like animals or something else. Alternatively, they might be established as a separate species from their non-anthropomorphic counterparts, meaning any non-anthros would be their equivalent of non-human apes. If no such explanation is given, though, the Fridge Horror is bound to set in eventually.


Fantasy settings may explain their Beast Men in other ways. They may be cursed or infested (Werewolf) humans; in this case the trope can be averted for drama. A wizard or god may polymorph himself or other people in a form that is more useful for the current task or simply magically create them from nothing. Or they simply exist in the setting (nobody can disprove that dragons and unicorns can or can't talk because they don't exist in Real Life).

The explanation that the anthropomorphic and non-anthropomorphic specimens (and humans) are completely separate species that simply bear some resemblance to each other appears surprisingly rarely.

The Furry Lens trope can explain this trope occurring in the work by having the anthropomorphic animals in the work turn out to be contextually human and the nonanthropomorphic animals are contextually their respective species of animal.


One way to avoid this trope is if certain species are anthropomorphized, their species' original niche is replaced with a Fantastic Fauna Counterpart.

Very often crosses over with Carnivore Confusion, Furry Denial, and occasionally with What Measure Is a Non-Cute? and No Cartoon Fish. Adults Are More Anthropomorphic and Humanoid Female Animal can sometimes overlap with this trope. World of Mammals is a variant in which all the anthropomorphic animals are mammals. See also Anthropomorphic Shift, Feather Fingers, and Let's Meet the Meat. See Animal Gender-Bender and Ass in a Lion Skin for a whole new level of confusion. Very often happens because Most Writers Are Human and Furries Are Easier to Draw.

Not to Be Confused with Viewer Species Confusion.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • Early McDonaldland featured a meat version of this, with several characters being living Hamburgers (such as Officer Big Mac), but many of the plots revolving around villains like the Hamburglar trying to steal regular Hamburgers for the express purpose of eating them. The Hamburger characters were quietly retired in later iterations.
  • The M&M mascots take this to another level when they talk about getting eaten, and in at least one commercial eat one of their own kind.
  • This goes especially for Charlie of StarKist Tuna. For years, he had been trying to essentially get killed, chopped up, packed in a can, and eaten.
  • Korean chicken restaurants often have cartoon chickens on their signage and it's not unheard of for those cartoon chickens to be happily holding plates of cooked chicken limbs.
  • Chick-Fil-A actually averts this by doing a series of ads with sapient cows shilling the restaurant... because they want people to eat more chicken and less beef.
  • Chips Ahoy: Modern ads featuring the new mascot, Chip, an anthropomorphic cookie, have shown him next to non-anthropomorphic cookies and bathing with a non-anthropomorphic Hershey.
  • Then there's the infamous "Miss Piggy advertising a bacon breakfast at Denny's". Watch it here.

  • Minotaurs are especially prone to weirdness (see also Non-Mammal Mammaries and the World of Warcraft examples below). The Kystonia line of collectible figures has two characters named Moplos and Mos. Moplos is a Minotaur-like creature. Mos is his "pack animal" who looks eerily like a non-anthro bovine. Now, the literature assures us that they are very different species — but they look darn near identical except for the fact that one of them walks like a man and the other is on all fours.
  • Enjoy a new level of Furry Confusion with this collection of all-animal Nativity sets. The very sight of Moose-Jesus is a good indication of why Brian Jaques ignores this issue entirely.
    • This has to have something to do with Christian Furries, who probably warrant a mention on this page anyway.
  • Here is one to mull over — iconic cute mascot Hello Kitty has a pet cat named Charmmy Kitty. It doesn't help that if it weren't for her tufts of fur and non-anthro body, she would look exactly like her owner.
    • Sanrio execs, preparing for the big Hello Kitty exhibition in Los Angeles, cat-egorically stated that Hello Kitty is ''not a cat''. As you can see from the comments and tweets, fans aren't buying it. That said, they later clarified she's not a human either.

    Fan Works 
  • In Turnabout Storm, Rarity gets quite puzzled when Phoenix tells her that the ponies in his world are not as nearly as talkative, intelligent and not-stinky as the ones in Equestria. Welp, there goes Rarity and her new trans-dimensional clients.
  • In the same vein, Becoming Ponies inevitably has people turned ponies meeting actual horses. The incidents are... weird, to say the least.
  • Also in the same vein, Anthropology has Lyra, a unicorn-turned-human meeting actual horses at a ranch when she first enters Earth. She understandably feels confused as to why the horses don't answer to her, seeing as she's lived all her life among talking horses.
  • And then we get, in The Audience, a human has come to Equestria and various human items are too. Celestia has established a McDonald's. He is initially hesitant, knowing that in Equestria cows are people and chickens and pigs are pet animals (there is actually a cow working at the register!), but then Celestia reveals that the burgers are made of a meat substitute that passed through the portal. When he orders a milkshake, one of the ponies says that it's empty and then asks the cow to go to the milking machine. He is understandably Squicked out by this, as he isn't used to the idea of a sapient creature providing the milk. Also, there are "My Little Human" toys in the happy meals.
  • In this crossover ficlet Nick and Judy have recently arrested one of Muggshot's guards for interrogation, but fail to realize it's a bulldog guard. Carmelita Montoya Fox tries to explain the difference between a dog like the guard dog and dog like Muggshot but they are unable to grasp that concept.
  • This pops up as a minor plot point in the Sonic the Hedgehog fic Descent into Darkness. Gerald Robotnik is interested in the differences between dokan and normal animals. It's unknown if they're akin to humans and non-human apes or if they're examples of convergent evolution and are actually unrelated.
  • In Speed and Purpose, most Mobians are Funny Animals, but there are also Civilized Animal Mobians called "Old Mobians". Unlike other Mobians, they can walk on all fours, fly, and still have paws, flippers, or wings. They also don't wear clothes. The two types of Mobian evolved differently thousands of years ago, but they're considered equal nevertheless.
  • In Kemono Friends lore, animals are transformed into moe girl forms, but retain quite a bit of their normal behaviors. So of course, Man's Best Furenzu has the main character trying to help out Domestic Dog-Chan with her depression... and feeling conflicted when she holds out a leash to go for a walk, for instance.

  • This Music Video.
  • K-9 Corp's Dog Talk uses the aforementioned Goofy confusion in a seriously squicky way.
  • Rathergood tends to use anthro cats as performers in their music videos. So in "When I Had a Cold" the anthro cat performer sings that he "snotted and snotted all over my cat", which is illustrated as an ordinary, non-anthro kitten.
  • The video for Goldfrapp's Strict Machine has men with dog heads pasted over their heads. At the end of the video, they are shown walking normal dogs.

  • Quest In Show has a scene where Tristan Lambert (a sheep-like Beast Man) investigates a wool farm, which is naturally filled with normal sheep. Tristan’s player explicitly compares the dynamic to that of humans and monkeys.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ironclaw and sister game Jadeclaw try to sidestep the issue by invoking Reptiles Are Abhorrent. The setting is full of anthropomorphic animal races. So what do the noble horse knights ride? Giant lizards. What are those animals people eat like chickens? Uh... winged lizards.
  • Averted in World Tree RPG, due to the conspicuous absence of any "real" animals matching the Prime races.
  • The leonin Ajani Goldmane of Magic: The Gathering is vexed in Alara Unbroken when he visits Bant and sees the leotau the knights use as their steeds. They look a lot like his own race, but they're non-sentient.
  • Addressed in the rules for Toon: The Cartoon RPG; the game makes a distinction between "real" animals and Toons who happen to be Funny Animals.
  • In Hc Svnt Dracones both genetically engineered Half Human Hybrids called "Vectors" and normal animals exist in the post-humanity solar system. And Vectors with the "Lateral" mutation can pose as normal animals.

  • Monster High:
    • Torelai Stripe, a werecat, has a normal cat as a pet.
    • A plant example. Venus Mc Flttrap's pet is a plant that isn't humanoid, but is clearly not a normal plant either.
    • Rochelle Roux, a humanoid gargoyle, also has a more typical gargoyle as a pet.
  • Sylvanian Families is a franchise consisting of Funny Animals. They go to school, get jobs as doctors, drive old-fashioned motorcycles and... run farms. As well, they can go show-jumping, drive horse-driven carts, and dress up as other animals. They also have teddy bears.
  • My Little Pony ponies are anthropomorphic but not to Funny Animal levels. In G1 some ponies had non-talking animals as pets, such as Peachy with her cat Twinkles. Despite this the various non-pony "Pony Friends", including Kingley the lion, could all talk and were equals to the ponies. Even stranger is whatever was going on with the (baby) dragons, such as Spike - they were portrayed as being able to talk, but were usually either treated as servants of princesses or even pets to ponies.

    Web Animation 
  • Chikn Nuggit: Cofi the sheep is anthropomorphic like the other characters, but her debut episode also featured regular (albeit pink) sheep that stand on four legs.


Video Example(s):


Donald's reaction to normal Ducks (Fantasia 2000)

It surely is confusing, right Donald?

How well does it match the trope?

4.93 (41 votes)

Example of:

Main / FurryConfusion

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