All owls hoot, all big cats roar, all bears growl the same way, all rodents (and rodent-looking animals) squeak, all monkeys hoot and screech like chimpanzees, and all birds of prey scream like the red-tailed hawk (because a bald eagle's cry MUST be awesome.) Except, in real life, they don't.
Animals have a variety of noises and even relatively closely related animals can sound completely different from one another. This applies even to animals within the same species—certain tiny dog breeds have deep barks because they're either sized-down versions of large dogs or they were bred for their bark (for example, beagles).
This is often due to mixing up species. Animals who look similar or belong in the same general family are assumed to sound alike, when in reality they don't. Common examples include foxes sounding like dogs, wolves sounding like dogs, big cats all sounding like tigers, all birds of prey sounding like red-tailed hawks, and zebras sounding like horses. Special mention must go to the frog. Only one type of frog goes "ribbit". It lives in Hollywood. Go figure.
This trope is also often due to Reality Is Unrealistic. An animal's real cry might not sound "powerful enough", so they're replaced with a "cooler" or "more appropriate" sounding cry. This is why lions are often given tiger roars and bald eagles are often given the cries of red-tailed hawks, and giving them their correct respective cries may be jarring for those conditioned to hear the replacements.
Animals making the wrong noises isn't specific to fictional works. Even some educational documentaries will re-dub animals' voices or add in incorrect noises because viewers expect animals to sound a certain way.
Sub-Trope to Noisy Nature and Artistic License Biology. Comedic examples go under Silly Animal Sound. Compare Misplaced Wildlife, with which this often overlaps — not only is the animal making the wrong noise, but it's in the wrong place, as well — along with its subtrope Jungles Sound Like Kookaburras. Related to The Coconut Effect.
- In the "Green Sense" commercial, a starling's call is overdubbed with the far cuter, far less cacophonic robin's song.
- In one Axe hair gel commercial, a man (using a different hair gel) impales fish on his hair while cliff diving and is attacked by a seagull screeching like a hawk.
- Played for Laughs in an episode of One Piece. While trying to quietly get a key, a rooster steps in front of Usopp and it looks like it is about to crow. It makes a sound alright. A harmless little chirp. Usopp then lampshades the fact that isn't the sound a rooster makes.
Usopp: Rooster. Mr. rooster. Master Rooster, sir. I'm begging you, don't crow! Don't say a word! Just take some time to think it over. Please!
Usopp: ROOSTERS DON'T CHIRP! COME ON!
- The Lion King:
- The franchise as a whole almost never uses lion snarls. The lions use tiger snarls instead. Actual lion roars are only used as howls of pain.
- Hyenas in The Lion King often make dog noises, with the exception of the hooting laughter of the spotted hyena. Despite their physical resemblance to canines, hyenas are actually closer related to cats than dogs.
- Lion characters purr in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride. Lions can't purr. To boot, they used leopard snarls almost exclusively.
- The Magic Voyage. A shark who roars like a cougar is just icing on the WTF Cake that is this animated feature.
- The Rugrats Movie features a wolf whose growls sound more like some sort of big cat than a wolf.
- The mythical Golden Herons in Kubo and the Two Strings are voiced by the Common Loon.
- In Tarzan, the gorillas all make chimpanzee sounds. In reality, gorillas grunt, scream, belch and (oddly enough) purr, but they don't 'pant-hoot' like chimps. Granted, Kerchak does make gravely grunts, snorts and roars, which are at least semi-realistic.
- Alongside the cliched use of cougar sounds on leopards and jaguars and the real leopard snarls, Sabor also sounded off with tiger snarls.
- The Cossack cats in An American Tail snarl and growl like leopards. Justified because they are seen from the perspective of mice, to whom a domestic cat is as dangerous as a big cat would be to a human.
- Finding Nemo has a roaring barracuda and a screeching anglerfish. Given their respective scenes are particularly heavy on Nightmare Fuel, this is most likely a case of Rule of Scary. The giant squid from Finding Dory also utters a few guttural growls and snarls.
- Speaking of roaring barracudas, a barracuda seen briefly during Tip and Dash's song in The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea roars like a grizzly bear.
- The swan in Hot Fuzz honks like a goose. The common white swan is more properly known as the "Mute Swan"; it is capable of making some sounds, usually hissing at predators (or people who get too close), but not honking.
- King Kong (1933): Kong's roars are from lions and tigers rather than gorillas. Yes, while in other movies lions are overdubbed by tiger roars, in this movie a giant gorilla sounds like an actual lion.
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Harry, Ron, Neville, and Seamus eat magical sweets that cause them to make sounds. Ron eats a lion roar sweet, but instead makes a tiger roar. (Amusingly, this might be justified, at least in-universe - the manufacturers of the sweets put in tiger roars, as their customers would expect that sound rather than the real one.)
- The Chronicles of Narnia: Aslan the lion's roars are instead the throaty growls of a tiger and a leopard. It's downplayed seeing as there were a few lion roars and snarls occasionally edited in.
- The giant mutant ants in Them! are quite noisy for creatures without vocal cords. The sounds are actually Spring Peepers (small frogs found in the eastern USA).
- All fictional lizards (the cute ones, at least) seem to make the same weird nasal growling noise (which comes from, of all things, a baby jaguar). The trailer for Nim's Island featured an impossibly talkative bearded dragon. They only hiss — and they'll do that only if you try to give them a bath.
- A documentary on big cats gave a cheetah a fierce roar. When they fail to point out that cheetahs do not roar (they chirp!), one can turn off the TV and take refuge in the encyclopedia.
- The most hilarious recent example can be heard in this trailer for Oceans. Err, those aren't baby ducklings...
- The roaring shark comes from good old Jaws: The Revenge. It certainly doesn't help that the roar sounds suspiciously like Jerry's roar from a Tom and Jerry sketch either. Like Bruce IV's famous bellowing in Jaws: The Revenge, Brucette in Jaws 3D growled whenever she opened her mouth (it was a very deep watery sound that you might miss most of the time), and a soft echoing roar is heard when Bruce's decapitated body sinks into the abyss at the end of Jaws (though that's merely symbolic, and was the same roar from Spielberg's earlier film Duel). Sharknado 2: The Second One also had roaring sharks and was likely inspired by this.
- There's a roaring shark in Shark Attack 3: Megalodon too.
- Jurassic Park:
- Jurassic Park featured a herd of Brachiosaurus making some sort of honking noise. Just one problem, Brachiosaurus is thought to be a dinosaur that made relatively few vocal sounds.
- The predators are guilty of this; The Dilophosaurus shrieks at Nedry when hunting him, the T. rexes constantly roar throughout the films (as does the Spinosaurus in the third film), and the Velociraptors growl and shriek. This gets called out by the Rifftrax of the film, where they ask what kind of predator stops hunting every thirty seconds to shout at the top of its lungs.
- Caesar the chimpanzee is heard roaring like a lion in a trailer for Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Did they give him that ability as a test run at the lab, before giving him a human-level intellect?
- In Conan the Barbarian, the vulture that tries to eat Conan when he's nailed to the Tree of Woe sounds like some type of seagull, which is doubly wrong because Conan is biting its neck and it shouldn't be able to vocalize at all.
- The ferrets in The Beastmaster make some very un-ferret like sounds. Real ferrets make very little sound most of the time, but often hiss, grunt, and make a sort of chortling sound when playing.
- Kimble's ferret in Kindergarten Cop similarly makes lots of squeaking, chittering noises that ferrets don't really produce.
- A roaring giant squid in the adaptation of Peter Benchley's The Beast. The squid actually made a distorted shriek/screech, like a giant mechanical eagle (or red-tailed hawk).
- In the werewolf movie Howl, some of the attacking lycanthropes have the distinctive "yip-yip-auoooo!" cry of a coyote.
- In Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, Skippy's trademark 'tchk tchk tchk' noise was entirely fictional. Kangaroos make no such sounds.
- Flipper's famous chatter? That's a sped-up kookaburra.
- The Colbert Report has an opening sequence has a red, white, and blue bald eagle making a red-tailed hawk's cry. The show being what it is, it's either intentional or would be if they knew.
- Kamen Rider Zi-O: A T-Rex goes after Sougo when he walks out of Time Majin in the Mesozoic era and trumpets like an elephant. While we can't know what T-Rex sounded like, it definitely was not the sound of an angry pachyderm.
- Long-running soap opera The Archers frequently got caught out this way. It took the BBC a long time to realise that in a drama about farmers, they better had get the sound effects absolutely right. Merely ordering up "a sheep" or "a cow" from the BBC sound effects department wasn't going to cut it, not with a professionally aware audience. Farmers and shepherds would write in and complain - pointing out that if Dan Archer was out in the fields in February lambing a ewe, why then was the sheep he was tending to not making the distinctive noises of a ewe in labour? And for a supposedly newborn lamb, why was its bleating sounding like an eight-month old lamb in the fields? Oh, and that wasn't a cow Walter Gabriel was tending, you do realise you were playing a recording of a bull in heat just about to service a heifer? And them chickens what Clarrie Grundy was feeding, they weren't Rhode Island Reds at all, they was Belgian Red Wattles, completely distinctive clucks. The BBC gave in, and sent people out to farms with tape recorders to talk to thep professionals and to get some really accurate animal sounds.
- Averting this trope is discussed in Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego? (1997): The player can give Anne Tikwitee a bird whistle that corresponds to a bald eagle. What plays isn't the (incorrect) high pitched screech many people expect — it's actually the (correct) eagle chirp. Anne then says "Whoa! For a big bird that's one small call!"
- Early on in Deadly Premonition, a cutscene shows squirrels that sound like chimpanzees.
- Impressive Title has a giant manta ray boss known as the Monster Ray, which occasionally emits a loud cacophonous sound that many players have likened to a cow's "moo" note despite the fact that rays don't have vocal cords.
- A very strange example, as it swaps out an awesome-sounding call for a rather cuter one: in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Wolf Link gives coyote howls instead of wolf howls. This is probably because a coyote's howl sounds more musical for the Ocarina of Time-style howling melody sections.
- The Bloody Roar series is guilty as charged with most of the characters' animal forms, though the most glaring example would be Yugo, the roaring wolf.
- The Barn Owl (famous for being silent fliers) in Fly Like a Bird makes sound as its wings flap.
- During the dramatic opening of Final Fantasy IX, there's a close-up of a pigeon crying like a red-tailed hawk.
- In Ori and the Blind Forest, the owl Kuro uses the aforementioned red-tailed hawk call.
- In Fate/Grand Order, this is Played for Laughs by Tamamo Cat, who, despite her name, emits barking sounds like a dog in-between mangled Ice-Cream Koan and Pun-filled speech. Then again, her legend thinks she's a fox when she's actually a jackal, and she's a Ninja Pirate Robot Zombie variation of the more serious Tamamo-no-Mae in Fate EXTRA.
- A lion from The Wild Thornberrys got stuck in a thorn bush, and roared like a grizzly bear.
- The Sovereign from The Venture Bros. makes the typical Red Tailed Hawk call when he turns into an eagle. But then he's a nameless shapeshifter pretending to be David Bowie pretending to be an eagle...
- The bats that flutter across the screen at the start of the opening credits for Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! all chitter their little heads off. Disturbed bats generally book it without emitting cries that humans can hear, as they're too busy echolocating so they don't run into one another.
- An in-universe example in Batman: The Animated Series episode "On Leather Wings". Batman (as Bruce Wayne) brings a recording of bat-like sounds to Dr. March, an expert in bats, and claims that the sounds are coming from his chimney. Dr. March later calls and says that the sounds are from brown bats and starlings, probably fighting over a nest. Batman runs the combination through his computer, which states the sounds do not match either species and proving that Dr. March is lying about something.
- The Lion Guard:
- Unlike in the films, zebras make horse noises.
- Hyenas yelp like dogs.
- The episode "Britrock" from Jem features a fox that makes dog noises.
- The Family Guy episode "Road to Germany" shows Stewie playing with a European pull cord toy that identifies the animal the arrow lands on. Each animal gives off some weird noise, which Stewie calls into question more and more because that's not what they sound like. This serves as a Brick Joke, when Stewie is later able to identify that they're in Europe when he hears a cow.
- Played for Laughs in Tom and Jerry where Jerry was capable of making an absolutely horrifying guttural monster roar when he needed to frighten or intimidate Tom. Feast your ears. Hilariously, this same sound effect was apparently also used for the shark in Jaws: The Revenge, making a scene with a roaring shark even more Narmy because to many viewers it was a shark roaring like a cartoon character.