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"Covered with towels? Ack! My instincts are showing. I just buried a Tupperware bowl."

A non-human character tries to live amongst humans. Or maybe a human character is made half-non-human. They do a good job of hiding their non-humanness, but occasionally their species's normal (and non-human) behavior comes out.

Whatever the reason for a transformation may be, this is almost guaranteed to happen during or after shapeshifting. This may include food preferences unusual for their current form or other stereotypical behavior.

In cases of shapeshifting, it's similar to The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body. For non-shapeshifting cases, it's similar to Fee Fi Faux Pas. Compare also with Furry Reminder.

Humans are not completely exempt, no matter how much we'd like to think otherwise, though these occasions are often solely limited to life-or-death situations where the pressure regresses the mental state to a fight-or-flight mindset; focus on surviving, and survive at any cost.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Very common in the Beastars universe. From the benign (tails wagging when happy) to the dangerous (carnivorous urges), a significant part of the plot revolves around dealing with all these animal instincts in a "civilized" world.
  • Doraemon: Nobita's Secret Gadget Museum have Doraemon's prized collar bell being stolen early in the film, which he is adament to retrieve no matter what. As it turns out, without the bell Doraemon will regress to a cat-like state, licking himself and hopping around on all fours, much to the confusion of Nobita and the rest of the gang.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Greed's chimeras are subject to this, most notably Martel, the snake girl. One of the funnier moments involving them has Martel comment that Dolcetto, who's part dog, lifts up one leg to pee.
    • Later, when Heinkel (a lion chimera) is fighting Pride, Pride notes that Heinkel isn't even hesitating to attack someone who looks like a little boy. Heinkel says that his animal instincts are screaming at him to kill the "boy" before he gets killed first.
  • This occasionally happens to the title character of Inuyasha, a half-demon with dog-like features. He'll occasionally scratch behind his ear with one of his feet while sitting down, and one of the movies features him fetching a stick.
  • Snow and Night of Jiu Jiu are a pair of half-human, half-demon shapeshifters/ werewolves who have the intelligence of humans, but the lifespan and mannerisms of canines. While they might look like normal teenagers when they're in their human forms, they're still dogs at heart. Since puppyhood they've been cared for by Takamichi of the Hachioji demon hunting clan, and they consider protecting and serving her to be their sole purpose in life. They like to sleep curled up in Takamichi's bed, they go crazy at the idea of going on a walk or playing frisbee, and they're apt to bite anyone or anything that threatens their "mistress."
  • Satsuki, the werewolf in Millennium Snow, actually fetches a stick thrown by another character.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: When Kobiashi is inadvertently turned into a Cat Girl as a side effect of magic cold medicine that Torho got for her when she was sick, she ended up spending the afternoon chasing a cat toy that Kanna waved around.
  • One member of the Superhero School's faculty in My Hero Academia is Ryo Inui, or Hound Dog, a scary-looking Beast Man with a dog-related Quirk that leads to him occasionally descending into fits of angry barking and growling. And he's the school's guidance counselor, which can sometimes lead to some awkward therapy sessions. That being said, he's actually competent at his job and genuinely cares about the students, he can just come off as very intimidating at first glance.
  • In Pokémon: The Series, Meowth of Team Rocket sometimes reverts to regular feline behavior. Though he's a Gadgeteer Genius who taught himself how to speak human language and walk bipedally, he can't resist a chasing a ball of yarn on all-fours or chowing down on a bowl of clams. This was more common in the early seasons; in the later ones it almost never happens.
  • Animals turned human or humanoid in Princess Tutu usually act like humans, but almost all of them have at least one tell. For the protagonist, it's a tendency to waddle when she walks. Mr. Cat is the best example of this though. His cat nature usually emerges directly after threatening his female students with marriage.
  • In Ranma ½, Maomolin is a giant ghost cat that's looking for a human bride. He can be troublesome due to his ghostly powers (and that the main protagonist is afraid of cats). But he's also easily distracted by things that would attract a real cat. This particularly applies in his second anime appearance, where he possesses Ryōga but continually does cat-like things, such as batting at Genma's wagging panda-form tail, purring, curling up in the sun to nap, and going to the toilet out in the garden...
  • In chapter 30 of Ratman, Unchain gets a variant. He has the power to absorb the DNA of things he consumes, which have mostly been normal and genetically engineered animals. When fighting Ratman, every single cell in his body screams that he can't possibly win, that Ratman is about a hundred steps higher on the food chain than him. Considering that he considered himself the top of the food chain (which is probably also where his name comes from), it's something of an ironic defeat.
  • In Tokyo Mew Mew, Ichigo gets infused with feline DNA and suddenly finds herself snatching fish in her teeth. She also takes cat naps, much to her distress, especially when it happens in class.
  • Happens a few times to Chao/Katy (renamed "Chloe" in Unico: Awakening) one of Unico's friends in The Fantastic Adventures of Unico when she gets turned into a human girl, leading to her trying to chase bugs or wash herself with the back of her hand. Unico has to constatly remind Chao/Katy to behave and act like a human when her cat intincts are showing, notably when he witnesses her chasing after a mouse and preparing to eat it in her human form.

  • Beast Fables: The bleed-in effect is a phenomenon where physical or mental traits from one's werebeast form carry over into their human form. For example, were-beavers hate the sound of running water.

    Comic Books 
  • Avengers: Back to Basics: After being turned into a frog, Thor pauses a dramatic speech to snap up a passing fly.
    Thor: You did not see that. Nobody saw that.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Before 2012, Rocket Raccoon was prone to this, often mentioning raccoon-like habits (such as his hackles raising when he thinks there's danger around or his tail frizzing) and having a severe hatred for Cosmo, a not-as-anthropomorphic talking dog.
  • Nero: In "Allemaal Beestjes" Nero is transformed into a lion and sent to Africa, where he apparently ate a tourist. All the others are horrified about this, but he claims: "Well, I was hungry."
  • Sam & Max: One comic story has Sam (a dog) incapacitate a crook by biting his arm. It works, but afterwards Sam says to the audience that he's never done that before, and he's really embarrassed.

    Fan Works 
  • Miraculous Ladybug fanfiction frequently depicts Miraculous wielders picking up traits from their respective animals — mainly, Adrien behaving like a cat when out of costume (everything from purring when scratched or petted to playing with yarn, getting in boxes and chasing laser pointers). The purring at least is canon — he purrs in Prime Queen when Ladybug is thrown against him. As for Marinette, being more affected by cold weather (ladybugs hibernate).
    • The story Obsession and its sequels are a standout example, as is One Thing After Another.
    • Hero Chat has this happen with all Miraculous wielders. In general, hibernating animals get sleepy in the winter, and furry animals develop a 'winter coat'. Chloe also gets overly fascinated with flowers, Alya gets the urge to parkour around the city (but isn't sure if that's from the Fox miraculous or just habit from her hero outings), and don't talk to Marinette about aphids (ladybugs' primary food source).
    • Cheshire (Miraculous Ladybug): Marinette shows some feline tendencies due her bond with Plagg, much to the kwami's surprise — it means that Plagg really trusts Marinette. Later, she began to show some fox-like tendencies.
    • In Predator Instincts, a thief steals Rose's bag and Marinette rushes to stop him. However, her means matches more of a hunter going after her prey, and she is horrified at the look of fear of the robber. When the two are alone, Tikki confirms that the Miraculous will enhance all of her traits, including her predatory nature from both her Ladybug and human instincts.
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Inverted in this Godzilla: King of the Monsters fanfiction. Vivienne Graham has been reborn as a Titan, yet she sometimes instinctually forget how inhuman her body now is, and Word of God notes it'll be a while before she gets used to feeding on radiation instead of steering clear of it.
  • In Flame's Shade, Ruby has to learn how to deal with this after she begins dating Blake. Blake is a predator Faunus and more specifically is a cat Faunus. Despite her humanoid looks, Faunus are not identical to humans. One hurdle is Ruby's discomfort with how predatory Blake can seem when they're being intimate. Blake's eyes often slit like a cat's when she's lusty, which Ruby is uncomfortable with due to how inhuman it is.
  • White Sheep (RWBY):
    • It's mentioned a few times that Faunus don't really have instincts much different from humans'. At least not anything like the ridiculous "mating cycles" humans believe they have. That being said, Blake, a cat Faunus, is the only person to have a problem with Ruby and Yang's corgi.
    • Faunus themselves believe these stereotypes to some extent. Nora is able to convince the White Fang that Ren's calm demeanor in the face of danger is a result of being a sloth Faunus. Ren is not actually a Faunus at all, but this still manages to convince everyone, all the way up to High Leader Sienna Khan herself.
    • Then there are the Grimm, including half-Grimm like Jaune. They are deeply affected by the negative emotions of humans, and will eventually fly into a blind rage if they're not careful. Jaune spent his entire life isolated, so he's not used to this. Several major fights happen because he happens to be in Grimm form when humans are terrified, and suddenly everything gets worse. On the other hand, when Adam cuts off Yang's arm, Jaune starts thinking entirely like a Grimm while remaining perfectly rational; he identifies Yang as his mate and nuzzles her, then turns on the enemy and attacks while holding nothing back.
  • Linked in Life and Love:
    • Deconstructed. Faunus do in fact have a lot of animal instincts, all the way up to mating cycles. But since they're victims of Fantastic Racism just for mild things like having animal ears, they do everything they can to hide these instincts from humans. At the start of the story, Blake nearly freezes to death in the shower because she's gone into heat and refuses to explain the problem to her teammates.
    • That being said, it's not quite as simple as "every Faunus has the instincts of the animal they are based on." Yes Blake is a cat Faunus who hates dogs and loves fish, but those are just personal preferences. And while many Faunus (including Blake) assume poly relationships are normal for cat Faunus, Blake's parents mention that they can't recall anyone in either of their families who has been in such a relationship before.
  • Innate Instincts is about Rimuru Tempest dealing with the various instincts of his slime body. The first chapter is about the slimes tendancies to copy the "leader" of their group, which for Rimuru occurs when he is lost in thought and his body copies the actions of nearby authority figures. The second chapter is when Rimuru's body releases a potent scent to ward off Shion's terrible cooking.
  • The Seventh Player: Machaira, just like non-sapient big cats, has heat and hunting cycles, and she often purrs and growls in response to certain emotional situations like a cat would. By extension, all other tabaxi share these qualities, and presumably all other Beast Folk races are similar in this, albeit respective to their unintelligent counterparts. This is also deconstructed, however, as their animal qualities, in addition to their animalistic appearances, often result in them being subjected to Fantastic Racism by more "human" humanoids. Additionally, Machaira reveals that modern tabaxi culture actually teaches its youth that "primitive" behaviors and qualities are ahborrent, and has them actively suppress and hide them beneath a veil of superficial charm and beauty in order to deflect suspicion from themselves, which has a role to play in Machaira's Dark and Troubled Past and her general disassociation from tabaxi society as a whole.
  • Voyages of the Wild Sea Horse: Miriam has a bad habit of gnawing on or even eating inedible objects when distracted, contemplative or bored, which she blames on her having the aspect of a tiger shark, a species of shark notorious for its Extreme Omnivore tendencies.
  • In the Undertale fan webcomic Inverted Fate, Dohj is a very serious and duty-bound canine guard in Waterfall who resents Snowdin's royal guards for indulging in such submissive doggy-like behaviors as this trope would describe. Unfortunately for her, Frisk and Papyrus decide to indulge in some petting and the throwing of objects for her to fetch during their first battle. By the end of it, and after struggling more and more to resist her doggy temptations, she finally snaps (and to add insult to injury, Sans gets the moment on camera for the Undernet to see):
    Dohj: (with an incredibly embarrassed expression) PLAY! PETS! TAKE ME ON WALKSIES!

    Films — Animated 
  • In The Black Cauldron, Fflewddur Fflam keeps getting turn into a frog and back again by witches. Moments after he's turned back to normal for good, he catches a fly with his tongue and eats it.
  • In Finding Nemo, Bruce and his friends are sharks who want to stop eating fish and instead start making friends with them. However, when Bruce smells a droplet of blood from Dory, his primal instincts take over, and he immediately reverts to his feral carnivorous behavior and tries to eat her and Marlin.
  • After Tiana is turned into a frog in The Princess and the Frog, she starts reflexively lashing her tongue out at passing insects, much to her horror and disgust. The same thing happens to Naveen, but he just runs with it and starts deliberately hunting bugs for his dinner.
    Frog!Tiana: No, no, no, no! There is no way I am kissing a frog and eating a bug on the same day!
  • In Zootopia, the fear of this serves as the underlying foundation for many events, including the central conflict. Most visually present with the wolves, who are physically unable to resist joining a "howl".
  • April and the Extraordinary World: Darwin is a well-educated cat, who enjoys reading philosophy books, knows geography and apparently tutored April for most of her youth. Show him a mouse, however, and he won't hesitate a second before pouncing on it and lethally biting it in the neck, no matter if it was somehow transmitting a message from April's long-lost father.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In An American Werewolf in London, before David turns into a werewolf he starts having dreams of hunting, killing and eating a deer in the forest.
  • In the Cat People remake, the first time Irena comes close to transforming, she strips off and hunts a rabbit in the bayou. Earlier, when frightened, she leaps to the top of a wall. Her brother Paul often climbs trees and after a transformation, will eat the leftover skin clinging to his body.
  • Catwoman has the titular character start doing stereotypical cat things like going crazy for catnip, hissing at dogs, and eating several cans of tuna.
  • In Gremlins 2: The New Batch, one Gremlin drinks a brain hormone solution and becomes extremely intelligent. However, he is still as sociopathic as his fellows, even shooting another gremlin in the face just to make a point about civilization.
  • Werewolf by Night: Jack has a few wolf-like traits while he's in his human form. When he goes to sit down next to Elsa, he moves in a circle around the spot first. Later on, he scratches behind his ear like a dog while he's confessing that he's not entirely human.
  • Jack Nicholson's character in Wolf (Mike Nichols) is gradually turning into a wolf showing certain behaviors like peeing in his enemies' shoes, walking around a fence like a caged wolf and hunting animals in the night.

  • Aesop's Fables:
    • "The Cat-Maiden" involves this. The gods Jupiter and Venus have a bet as to how much people can change themselves. They turn a cat into a human woman, and set her up to marry. Venus proves her point that "nature will out" by causing a mouse to run through the wedding ceremony, causing the cat-bride to embarrass herself when she tries to chase and eat it.
    • In Aesopus Emendatus, Ambrose Bierce does his usual piss-take on it by having the cat-turned woman not try to chase it, but rather to scream and carry on so much that the human she was falling in love with gets fed up.
  • Werewolves in Discworld, being somewhere in-between human and wolf, act a lot like dogs sometimes. They tend to wince at the word B.A.T.H., for instance (and Vimes able to troll them by name-dropping Vetinari as often as possible because it sounds like veterinarian). Angua is the only one who tries to suppress these instincts. Vimes invokes this at the end of The Fifth Elephant to kill Wolfgang, by throwing a flare and counting on Wolfgang (who isn't in the best of mental states anyway) to catch it.
    • Some Vampires have almost as much trouble, particularly with the reversed-names thing.
    • Played horrifyingly straight in Witches Abroad with the Big Bad Wolf. Lilith tried to "enhance" a wolf so that it would think and speak like a person... which left the beast a tortured mess torn between human logic and animal instincts.
  • Animorphs:
    • The series operates on The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body, so this trope comes into play with the series' Token Non Humans, Ax and Tobias. The former is an alien who becomes a Sense Freak when he is given a mouth, while the latter is a human who, for complicated reasons, spends most of his time as a red-tailed hawk. He often notes that he's lost touch with how to behave like a normal person, and his short times as a human have him lamenting his weaker senses and forgetting to make facial expressions. The first time it happened (when he was transformed by the Ellimist) he even got startled and began flapping his arms to fly away.
    • Meanwhile, animal morphs come with the animal's instincts, which can cause problems that are played either for laughs or drama.
      • Jake morphed an anole lizard, then chased and ate a spider before he could control the morph. Similarly, the first time they all morphed wolves he kept stopping against trees.
      Rachel: Jake? Did you have too much soda before we left?
      • Tobias complains that he's losing any cred in the bird-of-prey community anytime the group morphs seagulls, because they spend the entire flight looking at and getting excited over discarded junk food.
      • The group morphs ants and get completely lost in the Hive Mind. Cassie similarly becomes nearly lost to a termite Hive Mind and angsts a lot over killing the colony's queen to snap out of it.
  • Inverted in the Belgariad. A sorcerer who takes the form of an animal will find that they start to acquire that animal's instincts and some of its behaviour. This gets worse the longer you spend in that form, and as Belgarath notes when the time comes to change back to your natural form you might not want to. However, as a side benefit you instantly acquire the language of the species you change into and retain it when you change back, because all animal languages are the result of brain patterns not culture.
  • Appears regularly in David Brin's Uplift novels. Almost all Galactics - alien species that were genetically engineered by older species to give them sapience - have their own, unique forms of what they call "stress atavism." Great psychological stress causes these creatures to partially or totally revert to the instinctual behavior of their non-engineered ancestry. It's also seen among humanity's own "client species": the dolphins in Startide Rising suffer this fate to varying degrees and in varying forms, and it's a lesser plot point among the chimps in The Uplift War.
    • It's worth noting that humanity, whom all the Galactics are convinced was abandoned by their patrons halfway through their uplift, since everyone knows that the notion of a species evolving to sapience on their own is utterly ridiculous,note  does not exhibit stress atavism.
  • In Seraphina dragons are prohibited from eating meat in human form so their carnivore instincts don’t lead to unfortunate consequences for the humans around the table...
  • In A Wolf in the Soul, as his werewolf transformation gets worse and worse Greg starts doing insane things like eating raw meat right in front of his family.
  • Blacknail the goblin from The Iron Teeth web serial is taken in by human bandits. He acts and thinks like a human, until he doesn't.
  • InCryptid: Even in human form, Istas the waheela tends to express her emotions through growling. She's actually much more restrained than most of her kind.
  • In the Deverry series, some dweomer masters can shapeshift into birds. "My instincts are showing" is something they don't want to happen; it's usually a sign they've been shifting too often, staying in animal form too long, or both.
    • When Jill has been regularly patrolling in her falcon form, she starts to dive-attack Dallandra's linnet(ish) form before pulling herself back.
    • When Salamander spends too much time in magpie form, he starts thinking about stealing and hiding shiny objects. It's not helped by his magic being occasionally unstable due to a relatively recent recovery from insanity.
    • Laz Moj spends so much time in raven form, he starts using bird mannerisms in human form. Dallandra is extremely worried when Sidro tells her how often Laz Moj changes, and how he'll fly for days at a time.
  • In The Golden Hamster Saga, Sir William the cat prizes himself on being civilized, but sometimes his less-civilized reflexes get the better of him. For example, when he meets Karen the rat in Freddy in Peril, he arches his back at her before he regains control of himself and apologizes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • All the transgenics from Dark Angel are subject to this occasionally. Dog-based Joshua growls, snuffles interesting things, and acts like an excited dog around food; cat-based Max and Alec show varying feline behaviors like distrusting dogs, fastidiously bathing, acting predatory around prey animals, picking the people who least want to see them at the moment and sitting right next to them...
  • In Sanctuary, Henry can't help his pupils dilating when asked how he'd feel if he would smell the blood of a wounded animal in the woods, even if he answers he'd feel sad.
  • In Being Human (US): When Josh and Nora are "being together", Josh abruptly abandons ship after he accidentally growls.
  • In Faerie Tale Theatre's telling of "The Frog Prince", at the end the fully human prince is standing for a family portrait when a fly comes buzzing around. Cue his eyes tracking it and his tongue flicking out.
  • Bud in Grimm is an Eisbiber (a beaver-like Wesen) and he mentions once that without supervision his children will chew the furniture. Of course, most animal-based Wesen have similar behaviors of that of the animals they represent (the Melifers live in close communities with a Queen, the Mauzhertz are cowards, the Seelengut have a flock mentality and all predatory wesen are agressive to at least some level).
  • In the Halloween episode of That's So Raven, Raven and Chelsea inflict a spell that accidentally causes them to slowly turn into cows. At the party they display multiple behaviors of a cow despite being mostly human. This includes Chelsea eating straw and book pages, drinking with her face instead of a cup, Raven chewing cud, and both of them mooing a lot.
  • A Saturday Night Live sketch (in an episode hosted by Amy Adams) has three lounge singers who try to flirt with some men in an effort to get the men to feed them garbage. Turns out the lounge singers are raccoons who wished to be singers for Christmas.

  • BBC sketch show Son of Cliché had a scene where a literary editor is taking a client out to lunch to discuss how well the biography is going. The client is a young man who for most of his life was raised by wolves. Whilst the agent orders agneau a la maison, the wolf-boy asks for his lamb to be "very very rare, please. In fact, still alive." This raises a little consternation among other diners. Then the waiter asks if everything is alright, as sir has vanished under the table. Wolf-boy says he'll be done in a moment. Could you bring me some dead leaves, please? Wolf-boy also pays attention to an attractive female diner a table or two away...

  • In the rebooted Furtopia RP of Darwin's Soldiers, Captain Kayle Storm (an unspecified lupine soldier) Lampshades, subverts and plays this trope straight. When his rifle jams, he clubs a terrorist with it and latches his jaws onto the terrorist's face and proceeds to maul him. Subverted in the fact that he spends a few seconds vomiting after he does so.
    Capt. Storm: Instinct. What a love-hate relationship.

    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS calls this Stress Atavism. Most templates for uplifted animals have it.
  • In Eclipse Phase Atavism is a mental disorder that uplifts can take, sufferers are viewed with horror by others of their species. There's also a specific atavism for neo-octopi, autophagy (eating own limbs).
  • This is common in Changeling: The Lost, as shown in the Curses for changelings of the Beast and Elemental Seemings. Beasts spent so long as wild animals that thinking non-instinctively is hard for them, resulting in a penalty of rolls requiring Intelligence. Elementals, likewise, spent so long as a primal force that interacting socially with other humans is a rough affair.
  • In a Dragon Magazine expansion to the Dungeons & Dragons setting of Mystara, the Rakasta were given a mythological origin that was taken straight out of the Cat-Maiden above under mythology. This being AD&D, the mother-goddess of the Rakasta actually went on to become Bastet on Earth until Christianity wiped out her worshipers and she returned to Mystara in a snit. She created the Rakasta by turning the Cat-Maiden and her fiance into the first of the race when it was pointed out to her than robbing the man of his wife after her catlike behavior was unfair to both of them.
  • In the Old World of Darkness, the Midnight Circus has McTargart the Dog-Faced Detective amongst its freakshow. Despite his appearance, with a grotesquely canine snout in lieu of a face, he's pure human. He just has a very grotesque birth-defect. Despite this, he still has a tendency to act like a dog in times of stress.
  • Meanwhile, in the New World of Darkness, this is a drawback amongst skinthieves so common that it actually has its own aspect dedicated to it; the Strong Instincts aspect. Strangely, it's not an entirely negative trait.
  • Artwork in the rulebook for Traveller:The New Era showed a flying car full of Vargr (canine humanoids), all sticking their faces out into the slipstream like dogs in a present day car.

  • Cerise Hood from Ever After High is the daughter of Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. She sometimes shows her heritage by growling when mad, really liking meat, and trying to attack a deer.

  • Nick Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream is an especially funny example. He isn't aware that he's got an ass's head, he just knows that he's in the mood for oats, dried peas and a bottle of hay.
  • In the first act of Prince Ivan by Alexander Ostrovsky, one of the heroes wonders aloud why does he always want to meow when he feels sad. A stray cat hears him, turns into a human-sized bipedal cat woman and tells him that she is his mother, who lost him some 20 years ago. Later she turns out to be a cursed Oriental sorceress princess.

    Video Games 
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, members of the Beast Races, Argonians and Khajiit, include hisses and growls in their combat vocalizations.
  • In the Black Velvetopia level of Psychonauts, Raz gets the bulldog painter to help by asking "Who wants to go for a walk?" The painter struggles against, but gives in to his "stupid dog brain."
  • A brief example from the October 1st Nintendo Direct trailer for Super Mario 3D World (about 0:49 of the video): Mario, in his Cat Suit, is shown sneaking up on birds and trying to pounce on them.
  • Keaton from Fire Emblem Fates is a werewolf who frequently tries to hide his more dog-like habits when he's in his human form. The most common example is him trying to deny the fact that his tail wags when he's happy, but Keaton also does things like state that he guesses he "doesn't mind" when Corrin brushes his fur in a somewhat tsundere manner (if invited to Corrin's castle quarters).
  • Discussed in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp by K.K. Slider, the anthropomorphic dog:
    "Last guy who threw me a stick... I'll admit, I chased it, but it debased us both. Don't do that to us."

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • In the volume 1 episode "Black and White," the rest of the team finally realizes that Blake is a cat Faunus. Ruby whispers "She does like tuna a lot."
    • In the volume 2 episode "Burning the Candle", Blake, despite her annoyance, can't resist following Yang's laser pointer. A few episodes later, she's the only member of Team RWBY to dislike the corgi Ruby and Yang's father sent.
    • In the volume 3 episode "Round One," when Team RWBY are getting some food, everyone gets a huge bowl of noodles except Blake, who instead gets a huge bowl of fish. And when Weiss's card is declined, she is not happy about having it taken away and immediately dives on Pyrrha's offer to pay for it.
    • In RWBY Chibi Blake is shown to be terrified of vacuum cleaners. But then, Chibi is explicitly not canon.
    • Blake's mother Kali, likewise a cat Faunus, at one point drags an unconscious White Fang assassin into the room like a housecat presenting its kill.
    • Blake's father Ghira roars when angry, not to mention his animalistic fighting style. Most Faunus are perfectly content to use weapons, but Ghira fights with his claws.
    • Sun, a monkey Faunus, has a fondness for bananas and climbing.
    • It's mentioned that there's an entire nocturnal quarter in Menagerie's capital for Faunus who prefer to sleep during the day.
    • Ace-Ops team member Marrow, a dog Faunus, can't help wagging his tail when excited, even if he's trying to appear stoic.

  • Myan from Cat Nine still acts like a cat whatever form she takes. It's doesn't matter much if she transforms into something similar (like tigers) or if she transforms to a human/Cat Girl, but she's having trouble with her owl form.
  • Freddy Fox: In one strip, Damien the Dingo gets distracted from teaching the squirrels about crocodiles by a ball that Kody the kangaroo was tossing. He naturally isn't too happy about this.
  • All over the place in Freefall, the Trope Namer.
    • Florence the wolf is the main target.
    • Sam is prone to falling back on his scavenger-instincts too, claiming that "Food tastes better when you steal it from a predator", among other things (though often he does this deliberately).
    • Now, watch Sam and Florence's instincts crash into one another. What Florence the social predator sees as cowardly behavior from a lower-ranking pack member is considered to be nigh-heroic alpha male behavior by Sam's species (provided you do it to your enemies. Sam got chased off his homeworld when a stunt like this got out of hand and ended up seriously inconveniencing his own royal family).
    • Even the robots might be subject to this. They will believe transponder identification over visual identification, and in a throwaway gag, one robot says he has an urge to get an oil change every 5000 km.
    • More recently, a character from the long-scrapped uplifted chimpanzee project was introduced. Despite his enhanced intellect, he's still hyper-aggressive, throws or hits things when upset, and considers eye contact threatening behavior, leaving him completely unable to read most other sapients' social cues and/or interact safely with society.
      Dr. Bowman: At some point, I'm going to throw the data pad. I don't have control over this. If my arm goes back, get out of the way.
  • From Girl Genius comes Krosp I, Emperor of All Cats — basically, a cat with human-level intelligence, speech, thumbs, and the ability to walk erect. He'd like to claim that his "cat-instincts" have no hold over him, but Agatha rather enjoys proving otherwise. Using a piece of string. In the main comic, a young minion earns Krosp's respect by bringing him dead rats.
  • Eerie Cuties is on a gleeful rampage with this.
  • Grrl Power: Frix is a humanoid furry alien, so when his fur get wet his natural reflex is to shake himself like a dog.
    Frix: [after getting everybody soaking wet] Sorry, that's an incredibly difficult urge to resist. I fought it as long as I could.
  • Homestuck:
    • After Jack Noir is affected by Becquerel's prototyping, he gets annoyed by his new dog instincts, especially the craving for dog treats.
    • Later on, Jade also gets affected by Becquerel's prototyping and can't keep from barking at, and chasing, a cat, even while her human side protests.
    • As much as Meenah would like to be friends with Feferi, her instincts as a Hive Queen as per the troll's insectoid biology keep telling her to kill the other fuchsia-blooded princess before she becomes a threat to her rule.
  • Even after gaining a genius-level intellect, Scratch Fury, Destroyer of Worlds still succumbs to his feline instincts on occasion.
  • Head Trip once discussed the missing (and rather inconvenient) side of Catwoman.
  • Played for cuteness in But I'm a Cat Person. The Cat will curl up in your lap for petting; the Raven has a hard time managing legs.
  • The Whiteboard: In this and following strip, feline Pirta pounces a rodent customer, her instincts getting the better of her.
  • Kat, the Cat Girl of Sequential Art has moments of this, such as going to the grocery store and insisting on buying 18 quarts of cream. (Scarlet's instincts show up too, but she's a squirrel, so most of her instances fall more under Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!)
  • From the webcomic Tanktop, Texas: "I am a dog, should I pretend to be something I'm not?". Subverted in that the animals in this strip are quite the Intellectual Animals and he turned into his feral self deliberately, just to prove a point.
  • Seen in Tails the douche, when Tails, after freeing the cute chickens from the Mystic Cave boss capsule, starts eating one alive.
  • Marena of Keychain of Creation is a Lunar Exalt, and has vulpine (and occasionally canine) instincts, which Misho sometimes takes advantage of.
  • Whither has a crow (who sometimes shapeshifts into human) as a speaking character. He digs in the trash for snacks. Also has trouble understanding when Celia is being sarcastic.
  • In Housepets! Keene is a ferret who happens to be wealthier than some countries, but take him to a golf course and...
  • Schlock Mercenary: When Captain Kerchak (an uplifted gorilla) has to go naked for a bit, he quickly finds himself very comfortable with it, which he credits to his ancestry.
    Jaksmouth: Captain Kerchak, suit up. We've got some soldiering to prep for.
    Kerchak: I'm pretty comfy here, Colonel. The naked-time did me in. Forty thousand years of gorilla instincts took over.
    Jaksmouth: ON YOUR FEET, SOLDIER! IT DON'T MATTER THAT YO' MAMA WAS A MONKEY, 'CAUSE MAMA'S BOY IS A MARINE NOW! [suddenly calm] Basic training trumps instinct every time. Am I right, Captain?
    Kerchak: [up and standing at attention] Sir, yes sir!

    Western Animation 
  • Animal Behaviour is about a group therapy session for Civilized Animals who are having trouble with issues that, to an ordinary animal, would be normal behavior. To name a few examples, Todd the pig is a compulsive overeater, Jeffery the cuckoo-bird has repressed trauma from tossing his baby brother out of the nest, Victor the gorilla has anger management issues, and the therapist is a dog named Dr. Clement who admits to struggling with a butt-sniffing habit, acts like an angry attack dog when he gets in an altercation with Victor, and nearly gets killed jumping out a window trying to fetch a stick.
  • Bluey: In the climax of "The Adventure", the Greedy Queen (played by Chloe) can't help but chase the artifact (represented by a tennis ball) that the Princess (played by Bluey) threw at her to distract her, like it's a dog's game of fetch.
  • Cat from CatDog will usually advert this, more so than his brother, Dog. However there have been moments where he's fallen prey to his instincts as a cat. Most notably when he spends an entire episode chasing and trying to eat Winslow, right after stating that he's civilized and can control those instinctive urges.
  • Brian from Family Guy lives this. His family members even occasionally invoke the trope to distract and/or humiliate him. For example, he will chase balls, is attracted to the sound of dog food in a bag, and is terrified of the vacuum. He also has a tendency to bark at strangers, especially black strangers (subconscious racism due to his father, something he is very ashamed of). He will sometimes fail to recognize himself in a mirror, thinking it is another dog (though this only occurred in a gag, followed by Peter doing a similar thing).
    • Probably best represented in an early episode where Brian goes off to see the world. We see him digging for fossils (with a trowel), uncovering a bone and being proud of his discovery. Then he immediately re-buries it (with his hands/paws) and sits on the spot, looking around to make sure nobody tries to take it.
    • Every now and again Stewie gets a "baby reminder" (being unable to see Peter when he covers his face with his hands, for example), just to point out that he's still technically an infant.
      Stewie: Where the devil did he go?
      Peter: [uncovering his face] Peekaboo!
      Stewie: AAAAH!
  • On Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends Mr. Herriman, a rabbit, has an addiction to carrots that he's ashamed of. Not to mention his fear of dogs, which is so strong that he calls his assistant "Frankie" instead of his usual "Ms. Francis."
  • Harley Quinn (2019): King Shark is normally a cheerful computer expert but if he gets a whiff of blood he'll go feral to attack the source to eat it. This seems to go even beyond the regular standards of the shark kingdom as King Sharks' most shameful memory is him devouring his younger brother after he got a scratch, to the absolute horror of their father.
  • A common gag in T.U.F.F. Puppy. Most often in the form of Dudley chewing his own butt. Kitty acts on her instincts much less often than Dudley, but give her a cat toy and...
    • The Chameleon often blows his cover because whenever he sees a bug he has to eat it.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Spike, while normally The Heart and The Reliable One of the team, is still a young dragon and instinctively gathers up goods to make a "hoard". Going too far in this can literally turn him into a monster.
    • Thorax, a changeling who would rather hang out than drain the love of others still can't help but hiss and flick his tongue when faced with an abundance of love or affection. The way he quickly apologizes and even trembles and sweats as he does it is very reminiscent of a recovering alcoholic or drug addict.
    • The My Little Pony: Equestria Girls spin-off series has this occur for ponies who enter the human world, with Twilight Sparkle trying to run about on all fours when she's first turned into a human, and attempting to eat and write without aid of her hands even on her second visit, with Starlight Glimmer similarly struggling when she jumps dimensions in the special Mirror Magic. Even Sunset Shimmer, who has lived in the human world for so long that she's gone native, can still be seen casually holding her hands in fists as though they're hooves on a few occasions.
  • Regular Show: Rigby the raccoon has an addiction to eating out of the trash, which Mordecai calls him out on. Whilst Rigby can stand up and walk, he usually runs on all fours. Rigby also becomes roadkill in an early episode, but survives, due to his soul being outside his body (which was then possessed) at the time.
  • The Simpsons: In "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer" Homer meets his Spirit Advisor who is a coyote. He offers Homer advice to search for his soulmate. While Homer overthinks this, the animal starts biting Homer's leg. Homer pushes him away, whereupon the coyote apologizes and defends himself: "I AM a coyote".
  • In Gravity Falls, a cat-creature serving as judge in Mabel's fantasy land in Weirdmageddon Part 2 starts out being distracted by a hanging ribbon, and subsequently permits something in the courtroom on the grounds that "cats are famously curious".
  • In the 1963 Bugs Bunny short Mad as a Mars Hare, Bugs gets lured out of a spaceship he rode to Mars by having him fetch a carrot. And then pulling the egress ladder away so he'd have to explore.
    Bugs: Darn it. Betrayed by my baser reflexes again.
  • In The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show, Sherman tries to bring in a cat to deal with a rodent problem. While he desperately tries to fight them, Mr. Peabody's canine instincts trigger so hard that he ultimately transforms into a feral dog and gives chase.
  • In The Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo Show, Shaggy and Scooby switch bodies in one episode. In Shaggy's body, Scooby still a bad driver, and despite very much wanting to switch back is easily distracted by a cat.
  • In Infinity Train, the corgis of the corgi car are intelligent and can speak English, but still act like dogs. Atticus doesn't like being picked up, likes belly rubs, and so forth.
  • The cast of Kaeloo, who are animals but behave like humans, sometimes have things like this happen to them. For example, in one episode, Mr. Cat pounces on a ball and plays with it like a real cat.
  • In Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero, a mission involved Penn's genes being spliced with an alien dog's. As a result, he begins acting like the creature. He chases bugs, begs for treats and (arguably) barks by saying the words "Flurgle Burgle". Needless to say, it was not an easy mission.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Catra, a Cat Girl, tends to act like a cat when surprised. Adora mentions in the first episode that she jumps at the sight of mice ("That only happened once!"), her tail is an excellent indicator of her mood, and in a fifth season episode Netossa casually demonstrates that her weakness is water.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: Like many Caitians, Dr. T'Ana toys with her animal side, speaking in a raspy growl and daydreaming about getting her "coital hooks" into Shaxs. But wait for her yearly heat, or force her to get a medical exam, and she suddenly becomes full-on cat.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts:
    • Kipo, once she begins using her powers more, starts indulging in more instinctual jaguar behaviors. It's also why she tries to avoid transforming completely into a Mega-Jaguar- doing so before she can reliably rein in her dangerous tendencies risks her permanently losing her mind.
    • Scarlemagne also indulges in this, howling and screeching like a monkey when excited. This serves as foreshadowing that he was a normal animal transformed into a Mute, rather than a born Mute, as none of the other primates engage in such behavior.



Cheezborger tries to tell a knock knock joke. Emphasis on "tries".

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Main / MyInstinctsAreShowing

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