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Nearly Normal Animal

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"But it's true. Cats are smarter than dogs, and more attractive... and we don't drink from the toilet!"

Ever notice in fictional works aimed at children, animals tend to have much more (or at least a little more) intelligence than they should? Well, in some cases, this can be done without having the creature speak when no humans are around. This is when an animal isn't any smarter than you would expect it to be, yet still is.

Nearly Normal Animals don't talk (though Largely Normal Animals can have some sort of Animal Talk) and are usually quadrupedal if they are that way in real life. They are very much animals, particularly when it comes to instincts, priorities and motivations and they very rarely, if ever, wear clothes. Like many Speech Impaired Animals and Talking Animals, Nearly Normal Animals lack hands and walk on all fours, negating the possibility of performing many human tasks and behaviors.


Nearly Normal Animals come in three types, largely normal, mostly normal, and almost normal.

Largely Normal Animals (LNAs) clearly have thought processes and often human-level intelligence but don't talk freely with humans. These animal characters may talk to each other, essentially having their own language, but humans won't understand them. That is, unless they can talk to animals or if the language is able to be learned. Their thought processes and personality is still very much like that of whatever animal they are. Many of them are able to make human-like arm and hand gestures and some can even grasp objects as if they have opposable thumbs. A few LNAs can sometimes act like the more anthropomorphic Civilized Animal or Funny Animal when required by a joke.

Mostly Normal Animals (MNAs) have clear thought processes as well as a few human and/or some or several doglike characteristics (greater frequency of uttering sounds, human-like expressions) that still don't detract from their animality. Unlike LNAs, they don't talk Animal Talk between species, only within their species. Their thought processes and personality is still very much like that of whatever animal they are. These animals usually don't go beyond being able to make human-like hand or arm gestures sometimes. They stay on all four legs if they are four-legged animals.


Almost Normal Animals (ANAs) have very few human and/or a few doglike characteristics (e.g., greater frequency of uttering sounds, human-like expressions) that don't detract from their animality, but they allow an audience not well versed in the way of animal behavior to understand what's going on in the animals' minds. Can be an honest mistake or completely intended. They don't make human-like arm or hand gestures and they stay on all four legs if they're four-legged animals.

This is the low end of the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism. The next step up is Partially Civilized Animal. Below this is truly normal animals, which are not a trope.

Related to Amplified Animal Aptitude. LNAs are often but not always Intellectual Animals.

See Speech-Impaired Animal and Talking Animal for LNAs that can talk freely with humans.

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Largely Normal Animal:

    Anime and Manga 
  • Ein from Cowboy Bebop. He is smart enough to read, play chess, figure out stuff Spike and Jet can't and even hacking. Problem is, he's otherwise a totally normal dog — he just has human-like intelligence — and thus he can't speak, only bark and point out stuff.
  • The majority of animals in One Piece.

    Comic Books 
  • Hot Dog of Archie Comics would act like this in his own title, where he was revealed to have a high-tech super-structure underneath his common dog house. The series didn't last long.
  • Bom-Bom the tawal in The Great Power of Chninkel. Though he can't speak, he picks up language easily and by the end of the book he's able to communicate the story of J'on to his descendants through simple sounds and hand gestures.
  • Snowy in Tintin. He's clever enough to trick human beings, hide when his master's attacked and either sneak in to free him or run off to fetch help as needed, and occasionally understand rather specific instructions. He also has a fondness for booze, and occasionally thinks to himself in intelligible sentences.

    Comic Strips 
  • The four-legged Garfield in the earlier comic strips.
  • The four-legged Snoopy from the earlier Peanuts comic strips.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • The cast of Watership Down, both books, film, and TV series.
  • In The Golden Hamster Saga, mammals can talk to each other and understand human speech. Freddy also knows how to read and type, but he is the only animal who can do so.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Lassie can not only understand, but also bark in some sort of code that humans understand to mean Timmy in a Well.
  • The titular kangaroo of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo not only shows a remarkable understanding of English, but often imitates human behaviors like playing a piano or the drums.

    Music Videos 
  • In the Preschool Popstars music video for "I Didn't Mean to Burp", a cat is seen sitting on its haunches, but with its front legs in the air and holding a slice of pizza.

    Video Games 
  • Mabari war hounds of the Dragon Age series are said to be smart enough to talk, wise enough not to. They're certainly able to understand what people say and Hawke's mabari was able to learn to play cards. Dwarven enchanter Sandal even seems to have figured out how to speak "mabari speak."
  • The Duck Hunt Dog in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U / 3DS. He seems to be smart enough to use the same items as the rest of the cast can and stands up in his hind legs to use them, but aside from some attacks and taunts, he spends most of the fight in four legs and only does dog sounds, and when not in use, he carries the items in his mouth. It's not clear to what degree he can communicate with his duck partner, but they seem to work in good synchrony.
  • Koromaru from Persona 3. He usually acts like a normal dog, but he's a playable character with the ability to summon a Persona and fights by holding a knife in his mouth. It's clear that he understands a lot of what the humans are saying, and Aigis often "translates" his barking.


    Western Animation 

Mostly Normal Animal:

    Anime and Manga 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The penguins in Mr. Popper's Penguins
  • Azreal in The Smurfs. He bangs his head on a table (in a way that only a human could) in one scene, and aside from that looks like a normal cat (to the point where he looks like motion capture of a real cat in the CGI scenes).

  • In A Dog's Life, the dogs are not depicted as talking, however it's implied that dogs can talk to each other. Squirrel acts like a dog and doesn't completely understand how humans think.
  • A Dog's Purpose: Dogs cannot talk to each other beyond normal dog body language and barking. The protagonist can understand humans to a degree. He understands the words they say but not the meaning of most words, and thus his brain drowns out anything he doesn't get and tries to pick up what he wants to hear (such as his name or the word "biscuit"). The protagonist acts, and is treated like, a completely like a normal dog. He's also shown to be more scent-oriented than visually-oriented.
  • A Dog's Way Home is a Spiritual Successor to A Dog's Purpose and is written by the same author. It follows the same conventions, with dogs being unable to hear each other's thoughts or communicate beyond body language (which creates some confusion between Bella and others) and the protagonist Bella largely being a normal dog with a very inhuman way of thinking.
  • Dragon the cat from Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.

    Western Animation 

Almost Normal Animal:

    Anime and Manga 
  • All the animals besides the cats in Chi's Sweet Home.
  • Hashie the blue shoebill from Classicaloid is a realistic representation of the species, save for his unlikely colour. His stoic behaviour combined with his naturally bizarre appearance and the absurd situations he gets in makes for a rather amusing sight. The only times when he exhibits human-like reactions is for occasional throwaway gags.
  • Erika's dog Zach from Ginga e Kickoff!! is a mean soccer player.

    Comic Books 
  • In Violine, Klaas, Violine's pet mouse.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The otherwise completely normal moth that Gargamel saw in The Smurfs is able to carry out his order to send a swarm of moths. His order backfires and the moth sent a swarm of flies instead, but still.

  • Semi and Miranda in Dr. Franklin's Island are unusual examples, since they started off human and became a fish and a bird, respectively. But The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body, and they have animal-selves which are intelligent but disinterested in human things, and which threaten to take over.
  • In the book Indian Paint, the horses were almost normal, and completely unable to talk. This is particularly interesting because part of the book was told from the point of view of one of them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Our Miss Brooks Mrs. Davis' cat Minerva and Mr. Boynton's frog McDougall were much smarter than your average cat or frog.

  • Kwang from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues acts like a normal squirrel but is somewhat capable of understanding the world around him, a little moreso than most animals would be. He's helped along by Hyeon's guidance.

    Video Game 
  • Another Sight has Hodge, a rare playable version of this. Various characters remark he 'knows his way around' the strange game world, and he is incredibly helpful to Kit, but he doesn't ever demonstrate anything beyond being a remarkably intelligent cat. Even travelling the dream realm while separated from Kit and jumping through a portal to save her doesn't quite put him as anything beyond this, as that realm is almost certainly a side effect of the Node. Then again, he's implied (and confirmed in the prequel game) to use the portals regularly in order to get around... although whether he makes them or just knows where they are is up in the air.
  • Feed The Cat: The cats mainly behave like real-life cats, but they sit with their back legs out in front of them and their front legs at their sides. They also like having money catapulted into their mouths for reasons unknown.

    Western Animation 
  • Most of the non-anthro animals in Arthur including Pal and Nemo.
  • Appa and Momo in Avatar: The Last Airbender albeit fantasy animals, they act like animals. Of them both Appa is more intelligent than Momo as he does understand human language whilst Momo can't understand the meaning of the word water.
  • The animals beside the monkey in Chuggington.
  • On Little Princess, Little Princess's cat looks like a cat, pretty much behaves like a cat and can't talk or anything. However, he sometimes reacts as if he understands stuff that the humans are saying or doing.
  • Infinity Train has lots of talking or Civilized Animals, but then there's the deer whom our season two protagonists dub "Alan Dracula." In terms of behavior his only odd trait seems to be how friendly and unafraid he is of other creatures, willingly following MT and Jesse on their journey; however, he also has a random and ever-growing set of superpowers. Given his limited intelligence, however, this makes him as much a hindrance as a help with the Train's various tasks.
  • The animals in Krypto the Superdog except Mechanicat, who is a cyborg Funny Animal cat. The animal characters sometimes lean toward the Civilized Animal trope at times.
  • Greg's Frog in Over the Garden Wall act like a normal frog but seem to be capable of understand him and understand to some extend what's going on. Of course until The Reveal that he's the narrator.
  • The sandpipers and hermit crabs from Piper look, sound and behave mostly like their Real Life counterparts, although their face is slightly more expressive and are apparently capable of between-species communication.
  • Laddie from The Simpsons episode "The Canine Mutiny". Santa's Little Helper and Snowball II are usually just normal animals, but rise to this level occasionally as the Rule of Funny dictates.
  • In SpongeBob SquarePants, Gary is revealed to be this in "Sleepy Time". After the episode SpongeBob always interprets Gary's noises as effeminate babbles.

Alternative Title(s): Largely Normal Animal, Mostly Normal Animal, Almost Normal Animal


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