Follow TV Tropes


Furry Ear Dissonance

Go To

Often in animation, a cartoon mammal's pinnae (or outer ear) shape is drawn in such a way that looks unusual for its species in Real Life.

Common Cartoon Animal Ear Depictions:

  • Cat ears will often be drawn smaller and/or more pointed than they would look in Real Life, sometimes even looking vaguely like horses' ears. The only cats in Real Life that have really pointed ears like most cartoon housecats are caracals. Kittens' ears will usually be drawn small even though real kitten's ears are actually slightly large for their heads.
  • Mouse and rat ears will very often be drawn rounder and bigger (usually with a slight point) and with hair on the backs of them, when actual mouse and rat ears are smaller and look hairless.
  • Cartoon weasel and skunk ears are usually drawn to stick out a little more than that of their Real Life counterparts.
  • Wolf and coyote ears are often (or at least sometimes) drawn looking like rabbit ears, and dogs are often drawn with stylized ears if they are drop-eared or otherwise floppy. If a cartoon wolf's ears are not drawn looking like rabbit ears, they would still usually be drawn pointier and larger than in Real Life.
  • Lions, tigers, other big cats, and any other cat with round ears are often drawn with vaguely mouse-like or ratlike ears placed a little lower on the head than either rats and mice with a normal ear position or real big cats.

Sometimes, toons, especially old 1920s/1930s cartoon characters or characters based on them, will have very stylized ears that sometimes hardly look like real ears at all.

The point of this trope is that some animals that are clearly based on real species, whether Funny Animal or not, are drawn with an ear shape different from that of its Real Life counterpart for stylistic purposes (usually due to the rules of cool, cute and just for simplified visual identification), or because they simply didn't know what that animal's ears really look like. For example, cartoon rats and mice with hair on the backs of their ears are a case of artistic license, because in Real Life the backs of their ears look hairless. Additionally, setting "furry" aside, cartoon humans can also have ears which look unlike almost any human ear you've seen. Also, if the character has Expressive Ears, drawing them this way might help to enhance the level of expression.

Please only list examples that are clearly based on actual species. Funny Animals clearly based on actual species are allowed too. Aliens, monsters, and mythical beings can have Bizarre Alien Biology, so please do not list them.

Subtrope of Funny Animal Anatomy. See also Cartoony Tail for basically the same trope but with tails.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Kimba the White Lion has very large, rather rounded ears that end in a slight point. His ears look more like that of a cartoon mouse than that of an actual lion cub or even a cartoon lion cub, although this can be attributed more to Osamu Tezuka's style than anything else.
  • The hamsters from Hamtaro generally look like real hamsters, including having bare hamster tails, but they have large, round, furry ears when actual hamster ears are small, more elongated, and hairless.
  • Generally, humans in anime are often drawn with ears not in proportion to their faces, and as round, flat plates rather than the ears we actually have. Like all the rest of the entries here, it's probably because it's simpler to animate them like this.

  • Certain Australian rock art works can be dated by the manner and degree of ear stylization. For example, the Tharawal tribe from the area of Port Hacking used simple lines for ears from ~8500 to ~4500 years ago, triangles from ~4500 to ~3500 years ago, and rounded ears from ~3500 years ago until they were largely wiped out by European diseases around 1840.
  • In the Furry Fandom, anthropomorphized shark characters tend to be portrayed with having ear-like appendages on their heads, despite the fact that sharks don't actually have any in real life. This is typically regarded as an Acceptable Break from Reality, as having the ears helps avoid falling into the Unintentional Uncanny Valley. The only exceptions are shark characters explicitly designed without ears, either for realism purposes or just because the artist wanted to.

    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield has ears placed like those of squirrel.

    Films — Animation 
  • Over the Hedge:
    • Stella; even though her ears look more like real skunk ears than a lot of other cartoon skunks' ears look, her ears are drawn more pointed than would be for a real skunk (or even a cartoon skunk).
    • RJ the raccoon has ears that look more like rat ears than like real raccoon ears.
  • Little Brother, who is Mulan's dog, has ears more like that of a rabbit than that of a dog.
  • Mrs. Brisby in The Secret of NIMH has ears that are set on the back of the head and face forwards, like a squirrel's. Don Bluth was desperately trying to come up with a fresh mouse design, since Disney abused that species to death by that point. Teresa Brisby's ears, on the other hand, are never shown. They might be obscured by the bow on her head.
  • Fievel in An American Tail has huge ears for a mouse, making him look even more adorable. He and the other mice have ears that are placed lower on their heads than that of real mice.
  • The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland has ears placed like those of squirrels.
  • Annabelle and Belladonna the dogs from the All Dogs Go to Heaven movies and TV series don't have any ears.
  • In The Magic Riddle the Widow’s wolf costume has long floppy ears like a dog or rabbit which actual wolves don’t have.

  • All the bears, except for the pandas, in The Berenstain Bears have small ears placed on the sides of the heads, like human ears.
  • The pig characters in Olivia have ears shaped like that of rabbits.


    Video Games 
  • Sly Cooper's ears are look more like elf ears than like real raccoon ears.
  • Sonic The Hedgehog has numerous examples:
    • The hedgehogs (Sonic himself, Amy, Shadow and Silver) have triangular ears. Real hedgehog ears are smaller and more rounded.
    • Cream's rabbit ears are oddly wide (plus she can fly with them).
    • Blaze the Cat's ears are triangular like Sonic's, and about the same size. Real cat ears are bigger.
    • Big the Cat's ears are almost as long as he is tall (and he's exactly twice Sonic's height).
    • Bark the Polar Bear has round ears, like a teddy bear. A real polar bear has squarish ears.
    • Ray the Flying Squirrel has ears that are smaller and more pointed then a real flying squirrel.
  • Bangaa in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance are Lizard Folk with large floppy ears like a bunny!
  • While rare a few Kremlings in Donkey Kong Country such as Klinger have bizarre humanlike ears!
  • Bendy and the Ink Machine: Boris the wolf has rabbit-like ears, though this could be considered justified since he is a cartoon character.

    Web Animation 
  • Lumpy, Handy, Flaky, and Russell from Happy Tree Friends have no ears at all. Their respective species (moose, beaver, porcupine, and otter) have small ears, but they're there. note  Meanwhile, The Mole is depicted as having ears on the top of his head, whereas real-life moles have their ears on the sides of their heads and are small to the point of being invisible.

    Web Comics 
  • Played unusually in El Goonish Shive.
    • Grace's full squirrel form's ears have progressively gotten less pointy over time. While they're still more pointed than a real squirrel's (which are rounded), it could be argued that she has fur tufts or something similar. Her half-squirrel form, on the other hand, has ears more like an elf's than anything else.
    • While it's possible that Grace is mixing in some of her alien ancestry as well, the author's squirrel avatar also has pointy ears.

    Western Animation 
  • Mickey Mouse. They actually drew his ears (more) realistically at one point, but they went back to the "two big blobs" because realistic ears didn't look right on him. (His ears are never drawn in perspective either.)
    • Mickey's (and Minnie's) ear's not matching perspective is AVERTED in in Kingdom Hearts because it was too hard to do in 3D. They managed to pull it off in Epic Mickey.
    • They already pulled it off in the TV show, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
    • His ears were actually lampshaded in one of the cartoons, where he mentions that his ears are always circular, no matter which way he turns his head.
    • And at least in some translations some people call him "Ball-ears" as an insult.
  • Jerry of Tom and Jerry had ears that were both larger and rounder than they would be for a real mouse. Although unlike Mickey's ears, the appearance of Jerry's ears actually change depending on the angle he's being viewed at, they're still not real mouse ears.
  • Looney Tunes examples:
    • Wile E. Coyote and Ralph Wolf have long ears shaped like rabbit ears.
    • On a related note, Sylvester, Sylvester Jr., Penelope, and most other Looney Tunes cats have disproportionately small ears, sometimes even looking vaguely like horse ears.
    • Hippity Hopper the kangaroo has ears like that of a cartoon mouse.
    • Porky Pig has ears shaped like cartoon cat ears.
    • Pepé Le Pew has ears that stick out a little more than that of a real skunk.
    • Downplayed with Bugs Bunny. He is a rabbit, but his ears are longer than an average rabbit. Only hares have ears like his (and yes, there is a difference).
  • Calamity Coyote from Tiny Toon Adventures has ears that are a stylized version of Wile E.'s ears.
    • Like Pepe, Fifi La Fume's ears stick out a little more than that of a real skunk.
    • Dizzy Devil doesn't have any ears.
  • There are a few Animaniacs characters beside the Warners who have unusually shaped ears.
    • Pinky and the Brain have ears shaped like typical cartoon mouse ears, except a little more pointed, looking almost like actual cat ears.
      • Same with Romy, Larry, and Billie.
      • Mostly averted with Mousey Galore, who has ears like a real mouse, except with hair on the backs of them.
    • Minerva Mink has ears that stick out more than actual mink ears and look more like rat ears with fur covered backs.
    • Slappy and Skippy have ears that are rounder than that of Real Life squirrels.
      • Slappy's ears are even set on either side of her head.
  • Kanga and Roo from Winnie the Pooh have ears more like that of mice than like that of kangaroos. Justified because they are supposed to be stuffed animals.
  • Bonkers D. Bobcat has ears shaped like golf clubs in Raw Toonage, but has ears shaped like antennae in his own show. Neither of which look anything like actual bobcat's ears. The difference in ear styles between Raw Toonage and Bonkers is actually lampshaded in the first episode, where Bonkers is shown using hairspray to make his ears hold the golf-club shape.
  • Wolfy from Super Why! has ears like a rabbit.
  • The ears of most of The Simpsons' human characters are circular in shape and disproportionately small.
    • Scratchy and Snowball II are cats that have ears that are shaped like shark fins.
  • Many human characters in The Flintstones have small ears that are shaped like triangles.
  • Roxanne from A Goofy Movie has ears that look like human ears. Only her nose and muzzle keep her from being a full-on human.
  • The aardvarks from Arthur all sport rounded ears. In real life, an aardvark has floppy ears.
  • Goofy Jr., Max's prototype from the Classic Disney Shorts, and Peg from Goof Troop don't have any ears.
  • Bright Eyes from Pound Puppies (1980s) doesn't have any ears either. (They're hidden under her hair.)
  • Baby Jaguar from Go, Diego, Go! has unusually pointed ears for a jaguar.
  • Eek! The Cat has ears that are shaped like golf clubs.
  • In Disney's The Prince and the Pauper, Horace Horsecollar has ears rather like that of a cow.
  • The Dingo family in Blinky Bill have rather floppy ears, whereas real dingoes have pointed, more triangular ears.
  • Averted with Fitz and his family in 12 oz. Mouse, as they have ears like a real mouse.
  • Massimo the dog from Producing Parker has ears more like a rabbit than a dog.

    Real Life 
  • In an invoked inversion, breeders of fancy rats developed the "dumbo" variety in an effort to make pet rats cuter and offset these rodents' bad reputation. Dumbo rats' ears are positioned farther to the sides of the head, making them look more like cartoon rodents' ears.

Alternative Title(s): Cartoony Ears