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Ghostly Animals

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Oh! So it's the ghosts of all the sea creatures that make space an ocean!
Listen young friends, for what I say is true
You must treat your pet hamster as you would have him treat you
Or fear that one day you'll hear a ghostly voice exclaim
"wooo... someone forgot to clean my cage..."
Ghost Ghost Ghost Ghost Ghost Ghost Hamster

Just because it's predominantly humans who appear as ghosts in fiction does not necessarily mean that animals can not appear as ghosts, too. Ghost animals are ghosts that appear, manifest, or materialize as animals. However, this can also occur when an animal is stated to have died and become a ghost.

These specters usually appear as sidekicks to other ghosts in Ghost Fiction, although they can appear on their own as well. They may be used for world-building purposes or, in fiction which depict ghosts as malevolent entities, to provide an extra threat to the heroes. After all, a vicious-looking animalistic spirit can be more ferocious than a normal human. Often, they may also show up as a pet animal (often a cat or a dog), either seeking revenge or otherwise acting as a companion. To make it clear, for this trope to apply, the creature in question must be no higher than Talking Animal on the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism. May occur as a result of an Astral Projection.

See Raising the Steaks for the zombified variant. More malicious examples of this may fall in Animalistic Abomination. A sub-trope to Our Ghosts Are Different. For other forms of undead non-human life forms, see Non-Human Undead and Dracolich. For a more mythical take on the concept, see Asian Fox Spirit and Bakeneko and Nekomata.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Beasts of Burden has ghost animals turn up from time to time.
    • "Stray" has a doghouse that turns out to be haunted by the ghost of a dog who was buried in the yard.
    • "Lost" features the ghosts of tons of animals, wild and domesticated alike, who were killed by a serial killer of animals.
    • "The View from the Hill" features a herd of ghost sheep and their sheepdog who turn out to have died in a barn fire.
  • Ghostbusters: A couple ghost animals have been encountered in the comic:
    • Issue 14 and 15 of the original comic had the Ghost Smashers take on a Goast (a ghostly goat).
    • In the first issue of Ghostbusters International, a cursed statue in the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park in Florida began to manifest ghostly alligators.
    • In the fifth issue of Ghostbusters International, the team faces off against a herd of ghostly buffalo, who had been summoned by the presence of buffalo hunter Edward Quinn.
  • In Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose, Jon the Skeleton Man is perpetually accompanied by his loyal ghost dog Wraith, who resembles a ghostly canine skeleton.
  • In Zombies Christmas Carol, zombified, ghostly horses are seen on the stairs to Scrooge's bedroom, and as a young man Scrooge contracted the Hungry Death from an infected horse.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Fable of Joyful Wing, the main character is rescued by the ghosts of the loyal guard dogs of a monastery that the villain's nephew had burned down. They're completely harmless to mortals, but since the villain is a spirit himself...

    Films — Animation 
  • Brother Bear: When people die, their spirits take the form of their totem animals; Sitka's spirit, for example, takes the form of a bald eagle. Some of the spirits are also shown to be of deceased animals (Koda notes that his grandparents are spirits during the "Night on the Mammoths" sequence and at the end of the movie, Koda briefly reunites with the spirit of his dead mother before she leaves for the spirit plains.
  • Fantasia has the ghost of a skeleton horse still used as a mount by its equally skeletal rider.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas has the ghost dog Zero (pictured above), although he more resembles a handkerchief than an actual dog.
  • ParaNorman: In addition to human ghosts, Norman can see the ghosts of animals, including a raccoon and a dog, the horse of a Civil War soldier, and a flying bird ghost.

    Films — Live Action 
  • 13 Ghosts: One of the baker's dozen of specters in the original movie is a ghost lion.
  • Ghostbusters:
    • Ghostbusters II: When the slime floods into the city, the spirits of the minks in a lady's fur coat manifest as ghosts. They remain bound together and attack the woman until she gets the coat off, and then run away.
    • Ghostbusters (2016): A swarm of ghost rats emerges from a subway entrance, scampering on air. Sightings of a ghost polar bear provide one of the waypoints by which the Ghostbusters Connect the Deaths.
  • The film Ghost Cat is about a widower and his teen daughter becoming haunted by the cat of their home's previous owner.
  • Ghost Shark is about a shark's ghost haunting a nearby town to where it died and was laid to rest. The shark is able to manifest in any source of water, no matter how small (including things like a bucket and a slip and slide).
  • The Haunting (1963): There's a ghostly dog sneaking around the house, although its backstory — like a lot of the ghosts' — is never completely clear. There's a statue of a dog in the conservatory, but Markway says he was unaware of any dog featuring into the house's history.

  • According to local legend, Pond Lane, Charing Cross, London, where Sir Francis Bacon experimented with packing a chicken with snow to see if it would act as a preservative, only to catch a chill and die, is haunted not by the ghost of Sir Francis, but that of the half-plucked chicken.
  • English folklore has numerous stories of ghostly hounds, typically haunting graveyards or moorlands. In many cases, this is due to a superstition that the first burial in a graveyard must stay and guard the other graves forever. To avoid this happening to any humans, they would bury a dog.
  • In Japanese folklore, suppon no yurei are the angry ghosts of softshell turtles that come back to haunt the people who killed and/or ate them, while bakekujira are ghostly whales that manifest as enormous whale skeletons that float just above the surface of the sea.

  • Deptford Mice: The second book ends with the vengeful spirit of the cat Jupiter being released into the other side. Additionally, in the third book, to help him complete his bid for eternal Winter, he creates an army of ghosts. Although most of them are rats, some of them, such as Kempe and Piccadilly, are mice.
  • Discworld:
    • In Wyrd Sisters, the new ghost King Verence makes the mistake of visiting the kitchens where he sees the ghosts of all the animals whose meat had ever been prepared and cooked there:
      One day he'd given in...and had followed the smells of cooking into the big, hot, high domed cavern that served the castle as kitchen and abattoir. Funny thing, that. He'd never been down there since his childhood. Somehow kings and kitchens didn't go well together.
      It was full of ghosts.
      But they weren't human. They weren't even proto-human.
      They were stags. They were bullocks. They were rabbits, and pheasants, and partridges, and sheep, and pigs. There were even some round blobby things that looked unpleasantly like the ghosts of oysters. They were packed so tightly that in fact they merged and mingled, turning the kitchen into a silent, jostling nightmare of teeth and fur and horns, half-seen and misty. Several noticed him, and there was a weird blarting of noises that sounded far-off, tinny and unpleasantly out of register. Through them all the cook and his assistants wandered quite unconcernedly, making vegetarian sausages.
      Verence had stared for half a minute and then fled, wishing that he still had a real stomach so that he could stick his fingers down his throat for forty years and bring up everything he'd eaten.
    • The spirits of rats appear in Hogfather, Small Gods and Maskerade, being escorted to wherever rats think they go by the Grim Squeaker. Small Gods also has the ghosts of dolphins accompanying the ghostly ship.
    • The Tiffany Aching books occasionally feature the spirit sheepdogs of Granny Aching, Thunder and Lightning. Any scene where they appear is likely to be a moment of supreme awesome.
  • Goosebumps HorrorLand: The Scream of the Haunted Mask sees Carly-Beth Caldwell visiting a farm rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of a herd of horses. Her kindness towards them later results in the ghost horses helping her remove the titular Haunted Mask again.
  • The book Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse involves a ghostly mouse named Ishmael.
  • Harry Potter: Among the ghosts that reside in Hogwarts, various ones ride ghost horses.
  • Haunted Animals (by Allan Zullo): An anthology of nine alleged real cases of people who encounter animal ghosts, usually their pets. These include a cat who becomes ill and dies during surgery that could have saved his life, only to return and comfort his owner when she blames herself for his death; a great dane who worked as a service dog to a girl with seizures and returned from the grave to help her one more time; and a bulldog whose spirit haunted his neglectful owners (with said neglect ultimately resulting in his death) until they learned their lesson.
  • In The Hound of the Baskervilles, the eponymous hound is said to be a large black ghost dog haunting the moors. It is actually just a "Scooby-Doo" Hoax by the real murderer to cover up his murders as supernatural, painting an actual dog with phosphorus to make it glow in the dark.
  • InCryptid: Most ghosts in the series are human, but the Bidi-taurabo-haza, an extremely venomous snake, also leaves a ghost when it's killed. Mary (a human ghost) unleashes it on the person who released it in the first place.
  • Phantom Rider (by Janni Lee Simner): This three-book series revolves around Callie, a girl whose family has recently moved to Arizona. There, Callie discovers a ghost horse is haunting the neighborhood, and must help Star reunite with the spirit of his owner.
  • Quite a few examples show up in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, almost one for each volume. Some noteworthy examples include "The White Wolf" (Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark), "The Little Black Dog" (More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark), and "The Black Dog" (Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones).
  • In World of the Five Gods, the stories The Hallowed Hunt and "Penric and the Shaman" have ghost animals. These spirits of dead animals do not exist independently of the shamans and spirit-warriors who have taken them up, however, except at the very end when the shaman or spirit-warrior dies. At that point the animal spirit needs to be separated from the human ghost, or else both are Barred from the Afterlife.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ghosts (UK): After its death at the hands of a dog in the episode Moonah Ston, the pigeon who lives in Button House becomes one of these. It has intangibility and is Invisible to Normals like the human ghosts living there, although it is currently unknown whether it has any special ability like they do.
  • Legends of Tomorrow: When the death totem conjures ghosts, one of them is the ghost of Mick's recently deceased pet rat.
  • Medium "Bite Me" reveals that animals (in this case, a tarantula) can become ghosts and even have Ghostly Goals.
  • When the vampires of What We Do In The Shadows summon their own ghosts and attempt to finish the business left over from their human lives, Nandor's ghost reunites with the ghost of his beloved horse, Jahan (aka "John"). In life, Nandor had been forced to eat Jahan and felt guilty because the horse was actually quite tasty.

  • Parry Gripp:
    • "Ghost Hamster" is about a ghostly hamster with a ghostly cage, wailing about having a neglectful owner in life.
    • "Ghost Slug" is about...a creepy ghost slug who just slithers around in the night being spooky.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • "Ghost" was a template in 3.5 edition that normally couldn't be applied to animals since most lacked the charisma score necessary to become a ghost. There were a few exceptions, however, mostly Dire Beasts and Legendary Animals. There was also a Ghost Brute template added in another book that was specifically there to create ghostly animals and other low-charisma creatures. Note that there is still one group of animals that can never become ghosts — insects and the like, as they are classified as Vermin instead of Animal, and neither Ghost nor Ghost Brute can be applied to Vermin.
    • Forgotten Realms: Rashemen has telthors, spirits of particular animals that were exemplary examples of their species in life, and appear as ghostly versions of themselves.
  • Pathfinder: A variant Familiar is the "Old Friend," the ghost of a beloved pet that decided to remain by their master's side even after death. It does note that they're less likely to be evil-aligned than other undead familiars.
  • Wraith: The Oblivion makes it clear that animals don't leave ghosts; however, the weird, churning tides of the Shadowlands occasionally yield up memories of animal-like beings. The Equitaes, black stallions that graze along the River of Death, are especially prized by the Legions of Stygia. And then there's the Kraken...

    Video Games 
  • Donkey Kong:
    • In Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, the vulture boss Krow comes back as a ghost called "Kreepy Krow" after the Kongs defeat him in the first world, Gangplank Galleon. The game also features skeletal ghost Kremlings named Kackles.
    • Parodied in Donkey Kong 64 with the "ghosts", which are actually just Kremlings dressed in bedsheets.
    • Wrinkly Kong passed away some time before the events of Donkey Kong 64, but she appears as a ghost when she shows up for the rest of the series.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the Dragonborn can complete the optional side quest "Kyne's Trials," in which they must fight with the ghostly spirits of a number of animals, including a bear and a giant mudcrab. These ghosts are not malevolent in and of themselves, however, as they will not attack nor even appear to anyone who is not actively attempting Kyne's Trials. They merely serve Kyne, who is one of the Old Gods of the game setting, in testing the mettle of someone seeking her favor.
  • Ghost Trick: The main character encounters the ghost of a dog named Missile, and can save it. It is also revealed later on that Sissel, the ghost who is the protagonist and was searching for his identity, was actually a cat..
  • Haunt the House Terrortown:
    • Invoked with the Diver ghost. Although he starts out as a human diver, as a ghost, his eyes peeking out from an old-fashioned diver helmet, and his tentacle-like ghost trails, make him resemble an octopus.
    • Played straight with the Pharaoh ghost, who initially seems to be human, but turns out to have been a cat in life. Their head as a ghost still resembles a pharaoh's death mask more than an animal, though.
  • The plot of the video game Gravity Ghost is to reunite animal spirits with their bones so that they can rest in peace. The main character’s best friend, to be more specific, is a ghostly fox.
  • Luigi's Mansion:
    • One of the portrait ghosts which Luigi has to beat in the first game is Spooky, who is a big Bulldog Ghost.
    • Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon introduces the Polterpup, which resembles a ghostly dog. One of them annoys Luigi throughout the game before becoming his pet at the end.
    • Luigi's Mansion 3: Aside from the Polterpup from the second game reappearing as Luigi's pet, the game introduces the Polterkitty, a ghost cat who appears as Hellen's pet and who is fought as a recurring boss. Additionally, on floor 12, the Spectral Catch, is Captain Fishook. He is a shark ghost dressed in pirate garb who attacks by possessing his boat and making parts of the floor into a mouth he tries to eat Luigi with.
  • Mo' Creatures: If a tamed horse or big cat dies, there is also a chance for it to respawn as a ghost.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer takes place mainly in Rashemen, where telthors, the powerful spirits of exemplary animals, often stick around after the animal dies due to their bonds to the land. These can be eaten by the PC's Spirit-Eater curse: the Knight-Captain eats a direwolf telthor while escaping the previous Spirit-Eater's tomb, provoking the bear telthor Okku to lead an army of spirits after them. If defeated and spared, Okku becomes a party member.
  • Pokémon: There are several Ghost-type mons that fit the bill:
    • In addition to its Alolan form, who is a Ghost-type, a Marowak (who is based on dinosaurs) appears as a ghost in Lavender Tower in Gen I and its remakes.
    • Frillish and Jellicent are Ghost-types that resemble jellyfish and have a habit of dragging prey to their doom underwater.
    • Decidueye is a Ghost-type based on owls. Interestingly, it evolves from Rowlet and Dartrix, both of whom are Grass/Flying.
    • Sensu Style Oricorio is a Ghost-type based on Hawaiian honeycreepers. Oricorio's other three forms are not Ghost-types, however.
    • Lunala is a Legendary Ghost-type based on bats.
    • Spectrier is a Ghost-type based on horses.
    • In Pokémon Legends: Arceus, Basculin (a fish-like Pokémon) can evolve into the Water/Ghost type Basculegion. There's also the fox-like Vengeful Spirits of Hisuian Zorua and Zoroark.
    • Pokémon Scarlet and Violet introduces Greavard and its evolution Houndstone, Ghost-types based on sheepdogs.
  • Pokémon Insurgence: Several Pokémon lines which don't normally fall into this trope become these thanks to the existence of their delta variants:
    • The cat-like Purrloin line becomes a Ghost/Fairy type.
    • The monkey-like Aipom line becomes Ghost/Normal.
    • The fish-like Feebas and serpentine Milotic becomes pure Ghost-type.
    • The anglerfish-like Chinchou line becomes Ghost/Fire type.
  • In The Secret of Monkey Island, the ghost pirates' ship contains ghost chickens and ghost pigs, which, like the human pirates, resemble glowing blue skeletons with outlines of their former bodies. They behave as they did in life, with Guybrush being disgusted by the view of the slop moving through the pigs' translucent bodies. They also produce items that are needed to proceed (a feather and lard, respectively).
  • While not traditional ghosts, The Predators in Them's Fightin' Herds haven't quite escaped their prison realm after their banishment by non-carnivores, and they can only manifest themselves into the real world as ghostly shadow-like versions of themselves since they're kind of trapped between worlds.
  • The Sims: As with humans, it is possible for cats, dogs, and horses to die and leave a translucent version of themselves.
  • In Warcraft III, World of Warcraft and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Shamans can summon Spirit Wolves. In WoW, Beast Mastery Hunters can tame Exotic Beasts, including some spectral animals, and the pet battle system also has a few animal ghosts too.
    • In World of Warcraft Shadowlands, animals end up in the afterlife (the Shadowlands) after death just like the humanoid races of Azeroth. In one particular case, a NPC horse, Old Blanchy (who had recurring appearances from the original game to Wrath of the Lich King then was murdered along with her owners in Cataclysm) ended up in Revendreth, the Shadowlands corner for sinners. Her exact "sins" aren't expanded upon (supposedly she was a jealous and gluttonous horse), but her red and misty ghostly form can be obtained as a mount by players, after tending to her for six days with various objects.

    Web Animation 
  • SEALOOK has 000, a deceased seal that has taken the form of a ghost. In its debut short, a fish that is able to see 000 becomes one as well after being eaten by another seal, with 000 eating it immediately afterwards.

  • Housepets!: Teoxihuitl is a ghost Jaguar, presumably not allowed into Heaven, as opposed to Rufus and Breel who are angels visiting Earth. They come with the telltale signs to distinguish, Teoxihuitl with Monochromatic Eyes and translucent blue skin, and Rufus and Breel with a golden aura and halos.
  • Loving Reaper being a comic that raises awareness of animal abuse, frequently has ghostly animals, including a duck, a turtle, and a swan.
  • Paranatural: A fly drowns in a glass of water and shows up on the next page as a ghost, which is promptly eaten by a spirit.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation entry "The White Dog". The ghost of a white dog constantly protects the ghost of his master, who was hanged from a tree and constantly suffers the pain of the hanging. The closer the dog is to his master, the more the master appears to suffer, but the proximity of living humans alleviates that suffering.
  • Buzzfeed has a video on how to pet animals. Under "ghost dogs", it simply says, "You can't touch ghosts, dummy!".

    Web Videos 
  • Markiplier: A short video features "Ghost Dog", which is a (supposedly) ghostly version of Mark's dog Chica floating through a graveyard.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time has this in droves. One episode even centers around a ghost mosquito.
  • Back at the Barnyard: In "The Haunting", Otis builds a fun shack over a pet burial ground, disturbing the grave of Winky, a rabbit who lived on the farm 100 years ago. As retribution, Winky's ghost possesses Pig's body, then Winky summons the ghosts of his animal friends to take over the farm. Otis and Bessy have to team up to save their friends and capture the ghostly animals.
  • The Casagrandes: "Bad Cluck" focuses on the ghost of a chicken named Alfredo haunting the eponymous family (plus the Santiagos, who live with them) due to holding a grudge against their pet parrot Sergio (who's still alive).
  • Casper the Friendly Ghost: The short There's Good Boos Tonight ends with the death of a fox that Casper befriends called Ferdie. Casper is initially upset, until Ferdie comes back as a ghost, much to Casper's joy.
  • The Cat Came Back ends with the death of the cat at the hands of Mr. Johnson. Afterwards, nine cat spirits emerge from the body and begin tormenting Johnson's spirit.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: In "Operation: G.H.O.S.T.", Kuki's favorite hamster Chubbo dies. During the night, the spirits of all the deceased hamsters that once served the KND drag Kuki into their afterlife, where she gets reunited with Chubbo and is given the choice to stay. Because she denies the offer, the spirits start haunting the outside world until some currently alive hamsters stop them.
  • Danny Phantom has featured a few ghostly animals:
    • "Shades of Grey" introduces a cute ghost dog called Cujo, who is capable of turning into a monstrous form and was in life a guard dog for Axiom Industries.
    • Three minor recurring antagonists are the Ghost Vultures, a trio of talking ghost vultures working under Vlad Masters who possess super-speed and enhanced strength. Every animal that appears as a trophy on his hunting lodge wall is also a ghost animal under his thrall.
    • Youngblood has a ghost sidekick which could morph into an animal of its choice to fit whatever costume was being used by Youngblood at the time (for example, switching into a parrot for the pirate costume and a horse for the cowboy costume).
  • Dexter's Laboratory: "Filet of Soul" is about Dexter and Dee Dee being haunted by the ghost of their dead pet goldfish. Later, the other animal spirits hold Dee Dee hostage until the fish (and its soul) is properly flushed.
  • Filmation's Ghostbusters: One of the villains (Sir Trancelot) has a ghostly horse called the Frightmare that he uses as a steed.
  • The Funky Phantom: The titular character had a mischievous pet cat called Boo, who had been trapped in the grandfather clock along with her master.
  • Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids:
    • "An Elephant Never Forgets" ends with a shot of an elephant family. The baby elephant (which had been the source of an elephant's foot utilised in the episode and had been briefly revived) is shown to be transparent, signifying that it is dead. Doubles as a Tearjerker.
    • Another episode ends with Spindleshanks (a spider) being killed and reappearing as a ghost, much to Uncle Grizzly's delight. Thankfully for the spider, he's OK by the next episode.
  • Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby have died and become ghosts a couple times in the series, although they themselves are too anthropomorphic to really count for this trope. In "Blind Trust", however, Mordecai, Rigby, and a blinded Benson accidentally wander on a sacred animal burial ground where the animals actively try to kill them until the trio makes it to the edge of a cliff where the animals will let them go if they survive the drop.
  • The Real Ghostbusters:
    • The Rollerghoster is a group of ghostly circus animals who takes ten people hostage and can animate an amusement ride. It consists of an elephant, a horse, a bear, a snake, a monkey, and a gorilla.
    • Another episode has Simon Quegg's cruelty manifest as a powerful horse spectre and buggy bonded to him.
  • The Simpsons: "Flanders' Ladder": Among the ghosts which visit Bart are those of the deceased family cats Snowball II, Snowball III, and Snowball IV/Coltrane.

    Real Life 
  • Urban legends and reports exist of the Ghost Cat of the Capitol Building. The reports claim sightings of a supernatural feline in the United States Capitol Building, and that it can vanish or change its size at will. Legend claims that it is a bad omen.
  • Gef was an alleged talking mongoose ghost that haunted the farm of the Irving family on the Isle of Man in the 1930s. He got some tabloid coverage for a while but was probably a hoax. Lemon Demon's song "8th Wonder" is based on his story.