Anthropomorphic animals tend to be allegorical by default. After all, as conceptions of human beings, anthropomorphic animals are based off a human template, and tend to be metaphors for the human condition, political groups or even just individuals.
Some creators, however, go one step further and make the characters straight up not anthropomorphic animals at all, but human beings, visually portrayed as anthropomorphic animals. In this case, the characters are contextually human beings, but are portrayed as animals, often for symbolic or aesthetic reasons.
Can explain the Furry Confusion occurring in the work, because the anthropomorphic animals in the work turn out to be contextually human and the nonanthropomorphic animals are contextually their respective species of animal.
Sub-trope to Stylized for the Viewer and Ambiguously Human. Compare and contrast Furry Denial, which can invoke this, but it is (usually; see the Disney examples below) non-overlapping since it directly acknowledges that the characters are animals. Contrast World of Funny Animals, where the whole cast really are anthropomorphic animals. See also Beast Man, which is about taking an Earth animal and using it as inspiration for another species. Compare Musical World Hypothesis.
- Punpun and his family from Goodnight Punpun are depicted as sloppily drawn cartoon birds. Everyone else is a semi-realistic human. It's been shown that Punpun is also a human, and that "Punpun" probably isn't even his real name, however he resembles a bird to the reader. Punpun's form also changes when he becomes dark or depressed. Punpun's real face is never fully depicted, only bits and pieces of it are shown at a time. A character drew him once; however the eyes were marked out.
- Inverted in the manga Nyankees. The characters are street cats, but are drawn as human delinquents about 50% of the time.
- Uchitama!? Have You Seen My Tama? inverts this as well; the viewers see the cast as Little Bit Beastly humans, but they're really a bunch of dogs and cats.
- In Odd Taxi, the final episode reveals that all the characters are actually humans, but the main character Odokawa sees a World of Funny Animals, himself being a walrus, and thus so do we, because of his visual agnosia brain condition. For example, when he refers to one of the members of Mystery Kiss as the calico cat she's drawn as, his passenger asks him what the hell he's talking about.
- The Trope Namer is Circles, where the characters are drawn as various anthropomorphic animals, often fuzzy mammals, but stated by Word of God to be actually human beings seen through a "furry lens". Finally confirmed in the last "issue", which is actually an illustrated novel, where the narration pretty explicitly describes the characters as human... while the illustrations still show them as animals.
- Maus is an a biography of Art Spiegelman's father, in which various ethnic groups are visually portrayed as animal species (i.e. Jews as mice, Germans as cats, French as frogs, et cetera). Contextually, they are still human beings, and refer to themselves as such; they are not allegorical animals representing human groups.
- Humorously, the author does address the issues that arise when this trope meets Furry Confusion. At one point the Jewish protagonist— drawn as a mouse— visits a friend who owns several pet cats. In the comic, anthropomorphic cats represent Nazis, which leads Spiegelman to write "Can I mention this, or does it just louse up my metaphor?" At another point, the protagonist visits his therapist, and one panel shows a picture of a non-anthropomorphic cat; the picture has a label next to it saying, "Framed portrait of pet cat - really!"
- It can get a little odd when it comes to "mixed" marriages and the like. One scene also features a man in a concentration camp claiming to be a German World War I vet as a mouse in one panel and a cat in the next, representing his conflicting identities.
- Disney Mouse and Duck Comics generally do depict their characters as actual animals (albeit functionally human, for all intents and purposes). Not so much The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, where the characters are very explicitly human beings, depicted (often randomly) as either ducks or dogfaces. One issue has the Young Scrooge run into a herd of cows and the cattle-handlers reacts with suprise that Scrooge speaks in a Scottish accent, just like their boss, real-life cattle-baron and fellow Scotsman, Murdo MacKenzie.
- Zig-zagged with Usagi Yojimbo. On the one hand, no one's species is ever mentioned (Usagi is never described as a rabbit, just a "long eared samurai") and "human" is even said a few times. On the other, non-anthropomorphic animals are rarely seen beyond horses, birds, fish and tokage lizards.
- Acknowledged In-Universe in Catherine. Anyone entering the Nightmare will see themselves as human and everyone else as sheep.
- The characters of Lackadaisy are portrayed as anthropomorphic cats, but (at least in the canon strips) act exactly like prohibition-era humans. The non-canon strips have an occasional Furry Reminder, like Rocky claiming he had to shave Freckle's face to see his freckle, and the characters being confused what Tracy J. Butler's Author Avatar (depicted as a cartoony human) actually is. Tracy J. Butler also made drawings of how the characters would look like as humans - which is presumably their actual appearance.
- Precocious creator Christopher Paulson claims that he thinks of the characters as humans when writing the scripts. Though occasionally, a Furry Reminder might be used for a one-off joke.
- The furry writer's podcast "Fangs and Fonts" refers to this type of fiction as "zipperback", with the implication that the characters might as well be humans in fursuits.
- This was Walt Disney's intent with the Classic Disney Shorts characters. Early shorts clearly had them as animals; however, eventually he began to see them as humans who simply look like animals to the audience. This explains why many older shorts portray the characters living alongside humans. He banned any Furry Reminders, such as Mickey eating cheese. Since Walt's death, Disney has ignored this idea, and the idea that the characters were "actually" human (except for the dogfaces in some cases) was gradually discarded. Mickey Mouse and the others are repeatedly noted to be Funny Animals and Furry Reminders, while still rare, are not unheard-of.
- Averted in DuckTales (2017): The plot hinges on Della Duck not having seeing her sons since laying those three eggs, which hinges on the fact that they are ducks. Such a plot would never happen with human characters.
- Zig-zagged. The original books and the earlier seasons of the TV series state or at least imply that the characters are animals, albeit functionally human for all intents and purposes. However, as the TV series went on, most of these Furry Reminders were phased out. This is most obvious in the episode where Arthur and his friends watch the Self-Parody Andy and Co. and point out all the Fridge Logic inherent in a Funny Animal series. Historical figures and racial profiling (i.e The Brain is described as being African-American in-universe, even celebrating Kwanzaa, but he doesn't appear as such to the audience, being a bear) match those of the real world, further suggesting the characters see themselves as humans. Real-life celebrity guests are also drawn as anthropomorphic animals.
- The spinoff Postcards from Buster leans heavily on the "furry lens" interpretation, as all of the locations Buster visits are shown in live-action, with humans—presumably as they would appear to the audience if they were within the show.
- The Grand Finale seems to heavily imply this, as a grown-up Arthur (who is a cartoonist, behind the entire series) says he "just likes drawing animals".