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Never Work with Children or Animals

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"There is a tangible sense in every scene of the cast trying to act casual throughout stilted line readings, undercut by the fact that a real-life mauling happens every other minute—it makes you feel like the crazy one for worrying about their safety."
Charlie Schmidlin, about the film Roar, filmed with untamed lions

Sometimes, those little monkeys just don't behave the way that you were hoping for. The same applies to animals. Sometimes Hilarity Ensues. (Or Hilarity in Zoos.)

A common type of Hilarious Outtakes. If you're really, really lucky, can become Throw It In. The unpredictability of real life wild animals is one reason the Terrifying Pet Store Rat trope exists, since a tamed and socialized animal is less likely to cause this.note  This doesn't just apply to live-action either; see Children Voicing Children for one situation where this is common.

See also Not Allowed to Grow Up for the trouble in keeping a child actor looking like a child over the years.


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  • In a scene from North By Northwest, Thornhill (Cary Grant) is shot in the Mount Rushmore visitor center. After the scene was filmed, one could see that a little boy had put his hands on his ears before the gunfire. Alfred Hitchcock proclaimed that after this, he'd just work with people who were either adult or deaf.
  • The aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind were played by young girls, who were hyperactive and incredibly difficult to control. In Bob Balaban's production diary, he said that Steven Spielberg often began takes by yelling "Girls, stop disco-dancing!".
  • A consequence of the Harry Potter films hiring child actors who grew up with the franchise:
    • There are two moments in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone where one of the kids is silently mouthing the lines of a speaking co-star. During the jinxed broom sequence in the Quidditch match, Rupert Grint is mouthing "He's jinxing the broom!" when Emma Watson says the line, and when the kids are going to Hagrid's hut during the day towards the third act of the movie, Watson is mouthing all of Daniel Radcliffe's exposition as they walk side-by-side.
    • A minor example at the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Hermione was down in the script to hug Harry and Ron, but Emma Watson was too embarrassed to hug both boys in front of a set full of people (it's in the Great Hall). They came up with the compromise that she would only hug Harry and give Ron an awkward handshake. In post-production, they even had to slow down the film when Hermione is hugging Harry - because Emma kept breaking it too quickly.
    • In 2009, Chris Columbus, who directed them at their youngest during the first two films, commented on their progress:
      "My biggest pride is seeing the pictures now, and watching the three of them from a distance, and seeing them do an entire scene in one shot. Seriously, I know that sounds funny, but in the old days — and, you know, the old days meaning eight years ago — and in that first picture in particular, it's filled with cuts because they couldn't really get beyond the first line without either looking into the camera, laughing, or looking at the lights."
    • In the Return to Hogwarts reunion special, Tom Felton, Matthew Lewis, and Alfred Enoch talk about how difficult it must have been for Columbus and the crew to wrangle so many children at once — for any given group scene, maybe three would be doing the right thing, and five would be goofing off.
    • Of course, in Columbus' case, he got the director's role because he has plenty of experience directing young children.
  • The 1994 version of Little Women had a two-fer for a scene in which the fourteen-year-old Claire Danes had to hold a crying baby. The baby was screaming quite loudly, and Claire has admitted she was so freaked out by the noise she nearly burst into tears as well. Thankfully that worked for the context of the scene (Beth getting ill from the Hummels' young baby).
  • Several examples in A Series of Unfortunate Events:
    • Filming was often delayed by having to calm down the twin babies who played Sunny, as they often burst out crying at inopportune times. One funny outtake also has one of the babies fall asleep during a take, much to the amusement of the rest of the cast, who try to gently wake her up.
    • Also, Liam Aiken (Klaus) started filming the film shorter than Emily Browning (Violet), but hit a growth spurt, finishing the film taller than her. They had to keep filming with Browning standing on boxes.
  • During the production of Monsters, Inc., the crew was having difficulty getting Boo's toddler voice actress to sit still in a booth and read her lines. They ended up just following her around the studio with a boom mike and working with what they got.
  • Mamoru Oshii's crew just couldn't get the performance they wanted out of the child actress who played the ghost in Avalon. They ended up faking it by morphing several of her performances together.
  • The Dead End Kids terrorized the set of Angels with Dirty Faces. They threw other actors off with their ad-libbing, and once cornered Humphrey Bogart and stole his trousers. They didn't figure on James Cagney's street-bred toughness, however. The first time Leo Gorcey pulled an ad-lib on Cagney, the star stiff-armed the young actor right above the nose. From then on the gang behaved.
  • In Maleficent, the scene that kicked off the title character's Heel–Face Turn was when 2-year-old Aurora approached Maleficient in the woods and wasn't afraid, as the child's innocence still saw the good in her. Unfortunately, the toddler actresses they tested were too frightened by Angelina Jolie's costume to go near her. They found the perfect solution by getting Jolie's daughter Vivienne to play the part, since she still recognized her mother and they were able to practice at home.
  • Most of the child actors from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory were well-behaved. That is, except for Paris Themmen (Mike Teevee) who was an absolute nightmare while filming. Themmen opened a glass dome containing the wasp colony for the inventing room scene, which led to the set having to be evacuated and him getting stung multiple times. Even Gene Wilder (Willy Wonka), noted for his exceptional kindness to the children, had his patience tested by him.
    Interviewer: How are you getting along with the child actors?
    Gene Wilder: Oh, four of them are great, and one of them I'm gonna shoot in the head tomorrow.
  • The opening scene of The Santa Clause 2 had to be reshot several times because the actors playing the elves kept pinching and hitting each other. Eventually, Tim Allen lost his temper and let out a Precision F-Strike, shocking the kids.
  • In the final scene of Back to the Future Part III, one of the child actors playing one of Doc's sons standing behind him is making pained faces, looks like he's about to cry and is subtly pointing at his crotch, indicating he really needs to pee.
  • In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, there was supposed to be a scene where Sulu meets a child who turns out to be his ancestor. But the child actor's mother, whom William Shatner described in Star Trek Movie Memories as being the worst Stage Mom he had ever seen, got the poor kid so worked up that he couldn't do the scene, resulting in it being dropped.

Live Action Television

  • Stephen Colbert interviewing the oil industry on The Daily Show - it agreed to speak only if it could be represented by an eight-year-old girl. The girl was Madeleine Colbert, his daughter, and the outtakes are adorable.
  • In an example that made it into the show proper, infants Winnie and Nelson on The Cosby Show would frequently look at the studio lights, boom mike, or other overhead machinery. Bill Cosby (as Cliff Huxtable) would look in the same direction and ask what was so interesting about the ceiling.
    • Similarly, the child actor playing Rudy's friend Peter froze up when he first appeared on camera. Cosby played it off as the kid being The Silent Bob, which ended up becoming a trait of the character.
  • Project Runway occasionally has challenges featuring children.
    • One season the designers had to make complementary mom-and-child outfits, and in another designers had to make outfits based on paintings from students at Harlem School of the Arts. The designers' reactions are often just as fascinating as the kids', as even the designers with really temperamental and drama-prone personalities tend to be on their nicest behavior.
    • And episode 11 of season 10 forces the designers to take care of baby dolls that cry (a variation of Egg Sitting) while working on their garments to simulate taking care of an actual child (not to mention being a fairly obvious Ratings Stunt) but the actual babies are more cooperative, minus Dmitry's, who falls asleep and has to be carried by his mom while "walking" the runway.
  • Top Chef has had kids on as well. Though the kids are usually well-behaved and happy to taste the food, several contestants had trouble coming up with dishes that the kids and the professional chef judges will all like. They either make their dishes too complicated, or they assume kids don't eat anything but chicken nuggets and make a dish the adults hate. Season 1's Tiffany in particular was adamant about her dislike of cooking for children.
  • Dick & Dom in da Bungalow ran on getting a bunch of kids to play silly games and throw gunge over each other, live. It's not surprising they sometimes got a bit overexcited. One boy, Raja, almost broke the hosts — he wouldn't stop running round and hitting them. Dom stopped being an Excited Kids' Show Host and started just telling him off and asking the producers what to do next; they even got him on the Clip Show Da Dick And Dom Diaries, four years later, to explain himself. ("I'm a really nice guy when you get to know me".)
  • The little girl of perhaps ten or eleven (Melissa Wilkes, who went on to play Jackie Wright in Grange Hill), on a Saturday morning zoo show, who was innocent of the subtleties of French pronunciation. Given a link to do concerning the afternoon's sporting attractions, she read off the autocue:
    And this afternoon at two, we go to Murray Walker who will commentate on the Grand Pricks of South Africa..
    (Producer): I think you'll find it's pronounced "Grond Pree"...
    (Little Girl, after a second's consideration): Well, it says "Grand Pricks" here!
  • On an episode of the kids' game show Family Challenge, host Ray Combs learned the hard way something that Bob Barker once told him: "never let the contestant hold the microphone." He handed the mic to a five-year-old contestant who socked him in the head with it hard enough to make him bleed. He had to get stitches during the next break and spent the rest of the episode with a band-aid on his head.
  • Good Morning America:
    • Even the act of a baby tearing up a cake is too much: one segment had a competition to see what baby would make the biggest mess, with cakes provided by Buddy Valastro. The babies were evidently distracted by the cheering crowd and camera/lighting equipment and barely touched the cakes.
    • There also have been several times when they had babies involved in viral videos on the show to repeat what they did in the video, like for example the arguing twin babies, who would either start crying or look around confused.
  • It's not always a bad thing. While filming one scene of the Breaking Bad episode "Ozymandias", the baby who was playing Walt's daughter Holly started crying for her mother (who was standing just off-camera). In context — Walt had gone on the run after a vicious fight with Skyler and had kidnapped the baby as he left, and the script called for him to spend a few moments with her before deciding to give her back — it worked brilliantly, and a bit of reactive improvisation from Bryan Cranston allowed them to Throw It In.
  • According to Robert Singer, the director of the Supernatural episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part One" (S02, Ep21), getting blood into the baby's mouth was the most difficult special effect in the whole episode. The baby was evidently having a bad day and started crying even before they started trying to drip fake blood into the baby's mouth.
  • Several examples in the Star Trek series:
    • For the episode "If Wishes Were Horses" on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Hana Hatae, playing Molly O'Brien, had to run in the room and exclaim to her parents that Rumpelstiltskin was in the room (It Makes Sense in Context). On the day that was supposed to be shot, Hana had a cold and was being uncooperative. The director begged her and eventually promised her one of her character's toys if she performed (disregarding whether they could be given away). Hana ended up performing the scene well, which impressed the camera man so much he screwed up the take. To paraphrase the book Deep Space Nine Companion, "the shot was completed in 6-7 takes... and 6-7 toys."
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation had a problem in "Q Who": the baby playing the baby Borg kept chewing on its cable. While some crew thought it was cute, the director kept at it until he got a take where the baby left it alone.
    • Other than the previous examples, Star Trek usually averts this trend despite children making several appearances across the franchise (although Rick Berman once joked to Adam Nimoy, director of the kid-centric "Rascals", that the TNG producers owe him an episode with just adults). In short, the only problems are following child labor laws when using them. (In TNG's "Disaster", the baby playing newborn Molly O'Brien was specifically not allowed to be covered in strawberry jelly because of allergies she may have had. The filmmakers had to use cherry.)
  • Sesame Street
    • One early segment on was supposed to involve Kermit the Frog and a young girl named Joey singing the Alphabet Song, but when Joey starts singing, she keeps shouting "Cookie Monster" at random parts and laughing. Jim Henson stays in character, and decides to run with it by having Kermit react and try to correct her. The result ends up being very funny and adorable at the same time.
    • Another one featured Ernie and Bert with Shola, also a young girl. In one short, talk about the size of different toy balls. Ernie has the "smallest ball," which he depicts by pinching his fingers. Bert mentions he can't see it, so Ernie tosses it to him. They all hear a crashing sound, causing Ernie and Bert to give an Aside Glance of Oh, Crap!. Then Shola grins and says, "I heard that noise," having realized it was an effect and not an actual crash. Frank Oz covers up Bert by saying, "Me too" and the short ends before Shola can give the game away.
    • It’s noted by a few performers that it’s not uncommon for younger kids to be terrified of Big Bird and Snuffy if they aren’t prepared for it.
  • On Modern Family, the twins playing baby Lily became increasingly difficult to work with as they became toddlers. In Season Three they were replaced by four-year-old Aubrey Anderson-Emmons in a minor case of Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome.
  • Stranger Things creators have spoken that a lot of things they'd take for granted working with adult actors are out the window when working with child and preteen actors. Millie Bobby Brown showed up to set one day covered head to toe in glitter, casually saying "I have no idea how this happened" - requiring a forty-five minute delay to clean the glitter off.
  • Friends:
    • Cole Sprouse was quite a difficult child on set when doing the episode where Ben learns pranks from Rachel. As he was so in awe of Jennifer Aniston's beauty he was often left speechless.
    • In-universe example in an episode where Joey is playing a dying man and they can't get the child actor playing his son to cry. Joey is suffering from a hernia, so Chandler has him show it to the child - who bursts into tears immediately and they roll the cameras.
  • In the Pee-wee's Playhouse episode The Gang's All Here, when Pee-Wee tells off the Playhouse Gang for their rough-housing, the anger he expressed at them was indeed genuine, as the child actors playing the gang actually were being disruptive on the set, not helping the fact that this episode, along with the other episodes in the show's first season, was shot on a schedule that consisted of long shooting days (accommodating for child labor laws), never mind in an ill-equipped warehouse in New York City. In fact, Paul Reubens was so upset with the child actors, that when shooting on that episode wrapped up, he had them fired from the show, which is one of the reasons why a different set of children play the Playhouse Gang in later episodes (though that didn't stop the original Playhouse Gang from making one last appearance in the next and final season one episode).
  • In the segments of Inai Inai Baa! where Wan Wan and the oneesan interact with babies, this trope is surprisingly common. Most of the babies don't seem to follow the directions of the activity they're supposed to do, and instead run around the set or sit on the floor. It's justified, as some of these activites could be difficult to do for people that age.
  • The X-Files used costumed children to depict The Greys. The casting would eventually use only girls as it turned out boys would start punching other and break the costumes.
    • One of the Hilarious Outtakes from season 9 is a blooper from a dramatic scene in which Scully chases an intruder from William's room. Scully is supposed to be distraught, checking him over and yelling after the intruder, demanding to know what they did to the baby. The baby playing William is startled by the yelling and bursts into tears. Cue both Gillian Anderson and Annabeth Gish breaking character to comfort him.
  • On Bones, Christine was meant to be Booth and Brennan's flower girl in their wedding, but the toddler twins playing her got scared and wouldn't cooperate. They decided to swap the toddler twins in the next season for an older child actress who could at least take direction, causing some Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome.

Video Games

  • In-universe example in Ni no Kuni: When Oliver at first refuses to come and save Drippy's world, Drippy grouses that this why they say never work with children.

Web Original

  • According to this article for Cracked.
    • One child actress was confused by the other actor's line being "where's your mother?" and kept pointing to her real mother instead of the actress playing her mother. She was confused when her mother said "pretend that lady is your mommy for now", so they solved it by placing the real mother just off camera - so that when the girl pointed, it would seem like she was pointing at her co-star.
    • A classically trained method actor who was more used to being in dramas struggled to react to a cartoon that hadn't been animated yet for a commercial. He was literally unable to laugh like a normal child (something his co-star had no trouble with).
    • Thankfully subverted in the story of a pilot that never got picked up. It was about a monster who befriends children, so of course on set the children had to act opposite a green blob. They told the child actors the following:
    'Jody told the girl, "This is a nice man pretending to be a big kitty, but we haven't put the rest of him on yet ... He doesn't feel good about himself for not looking like the others. Can you make him feel better when you see him?" The girl ran to the homunculus, hugged him, and said, "You're pretty to me." The show never got picked up, but that take was gold.'
  • The Nutters:
    • The first film has a scene where a child intimidates Eoin as soon as he arrives. Jordan Lennon jokes that they knocked on a bunch of doors to find a child to do the scene, and bribed him with sweets to say yes. The child struggled to do the simple stunt of walking up to Eoin and kicking his suitcase, but his mother then suggested he just run off with the bag instead. That was the take they used.
    • For the Christmas Special, Greg Young's nine-year-old sister was going to be featured in the scene where Eoin Facetimes Jake. Presumably for this reason, it was changed to his dad instead.
    • And of course, the fact that the film was made by a group of fifteen and sixteen-year-olds is an example of the trope. The boys have since described it as a Movie-Making Mess - as they had barely any script and admitted some of the plot made no sense.

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons:
    • In-Universe example: In the first episode "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", Bart intentionally sings the wrong lyrics to "Jingle Bells" at the school Christmas show and is promptly (and literally) yanked from the stage.
    • Taken to the extreme in "Bart Gets Famous", in which he has to perform in a Krusty the Clown show skit. He trips and brings down much of the set, and when he innocently declares "I didn't do it", the audience loves it. For a few weeks, the "'I Didn't Do It' Boy" is a regular on the show and a national phenomenon.
  • Rugrats:
    • An In-Universe example: Ms. Carol always comes up with a new fun phrase for a child to repeat as part of her popular children's show. Angelica sneaks backstage and overhears Carol exclaim that she thinks all children are little...(Discretion Shot). Angelica gleefully concludes that it's some sort of secret fun phrase and that she'll definitely be rewarded when Ms Carol asks her the question because she's the only one that knows the answer. Needless to say, Hilarity Ensues and Ms. Carol is ruined.
    • Another In-Universe example occurs in a season one episode where Phil and Lil recall how they appeared in a diaper commercial. Problems first arise when Phil doesn't do what the director wants, then Lil wanders off onto the scaffolding chasing after her toy car when the Best Boy was supposed to be watching her. The set ends up getting wrecked by the both of them. Oddly enough, the camera was recording everything, and the producers loved the footage that they saw. Even so, Betty, understandably, refused to let her kids do another commercial despite the director's plea.
  • Bluey: An in universe example in "Bumpy and The Wise Old Wolfhound" with Bluey's younger cousins Muffin and Socks, during the Heelers' rather amateurish home movie:
    • Muffin as The Baker Lady keeps calling Bluey by her real name instead of her character’s name, frequently bungles her lines, and accidentally breaks Chilli's good vase in her enthusiasm.
    • Socks as Bumpy is initially in a bad mood and has to bribed with a biscuit for Bluey to hug her in one scene. She also growls and shrieks while Bluey delivers her lines and bites Bandit’s leg while he's saying how gentle and mild she is. Aside from nearly pooping onscreen, she gets better after that.
Real Life
  • The Balloon Boy. When asked by his father why he didn't come out of his hiding place when everyone was looking for him, he replied: "You guys said that, um, we did this for the show." On national television.
  • Then there was the magician doing card tricks, who triumphantly showed his audience that a card had changed value before their very eyes. The little boy sitting next to him was unimpressed and pointed out that there were actually two cards stuck together...
    • Most magicians in general don't like performing for children unless they specialize in it. Magic acts relies heavily on tricking and deceiving the audience in a way that they won't realize that they're being tricked, and kids are much harder in this regard as they will simply not pick up on the same cues that would fool an adult and/or not be willing to play along and pretend to be tricked to keep the show going.



  • There is a reason you never see hyenas (such as Harley Quinn's pets Bud and Lou) in scripted live action: they are notoriously difficult to tame (and their bite force, powerful enough to crack bone, is higher than a lion's). Birds of Prey managed to get around this by using a CGI hyena (and only one due to budget constraints) played by a German shepherd via Motion Capture. In Margot Robbie's own words:
    "If this hyena touches anything, it considers it to be his. So we're like, 'Ok can he sit on a couch?' and they're like 'Yes, but then it's his couch. He will eat it and if someone tries to take him away from it, then he'll eat you.' Yikes. Ok, no a real hyena is a no-go - especially if this is how a TRAINED one operates on set. Talk about a diva. So then what?"
  • Tim Conway did so many films for Disney back in the day that he learned to take it in stride. In one of the special features on the The Apple Dumpling Gang DVD (in which he and Don Knotts worked with a donkey), he goes off on a tangent about a "man-eating Bengal tiger" that he'd worked with in a previous film and which had tried to eat his character's pork pie hat while he was filming a scene with the tiger inside a car. He shared his conclusion that whenever you work for Disney, you show up on set, get your costume, and meet your animal - in that order and without exception.


  • Several in Indiana Jones
    • The beaded dress worn by Kate Capshaw in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was eaten by an elephant. You can almost see it in the campfire at night scene note . The good news? It was covered by insurance (Spielberg notes that all he could write on the insurance claim for "cause" was "dress eaten by elephant" and hope he was believed). The bad news? It was a dress made of genuine vintage crystal beads.
    • During the climax of the film, American alligators were used on set to portray the crocodiles that were in the water below, due to crocodiles being far more aggressive than alligators.
    • Also shown in a documentary reel about the making of Raiders of the Lost Ark were Spielberg's problems with the snakes. During one scene, Spielberg had set up a ring of torches to keep the snakes away, but being cold-blooded reptiles, they are naturally drawn to sources of heat and kept slithering nearer. At one point, he just grabs one by the 'neck' and stares it in the eyes, yelling:
    "Why do you like fire!? You're supposed to hate fire! You are ruining my movie!"
    • The two lions that were used to portray the lion a young Indiana Jones fought in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade became nervous due to the lights flickering and constant rocking motions during their brief scene in the film.
    • One scene had Henry Jones Sr. scare some seagulls into striking a German plane. These were meant to be played by actual seagulls, but they would not fly, so the seagulls were instead played by doves.
  • Sword and Sandal films set in the era of Christianity under persecution (such as Quo Vadis) usually had to resort to clever camera angles in order to show the martyrs being "eaten" (i.e.: playfully pounced upon) by vicious wild lions (i.e. fairly tame circus lions).
  • In The Wizard of Oz, a large bird walked on to the set during the filming of one of the scenes, and at one point, it's clearly visible extending its wing. However, it was a silhouette, and it was hard to tell it was a bird as opposed to, say... the hanging corpse of a Munchkin. This gave birth to the famous, yet totally bogus, "Munchkin Suicide" urban legend.
    • That large bird is a crane, and can in fact be seen prominentely earlier in the scene where Dorothy and Scarecrow first meet the Tinman, so its appearance is likely intentional. Other exotic birds are used as props in other scenes as well, so that crane probably didn't just walk on set and be allowed to roam around in the background.
  • Airplane!. When Dr. Rumack is removing eggs from the woman's mouth and cracks one open to release a bird, the bird nearly hits a passenger in the face as it flies off.
  • An In-Universe example in Willow, as Willow's disappearing pig trick goes awry when the piglet he'd made vanish runs out from beneath the table he was using to display it.
  • The crows playing Huginn and Muninn in Thor: The Dark World often landed in the wrong spot, among other things. One of them even tried to nibble Chris Hemsworth's costume.
  • This is most likely the reason the Librarian is totally absent from the TV Movie adaptation of Hogfather. One imagines it's much easier to write about orangutans playing pipe organs than to film them doing so.
  • During the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, the director and cast commentaries often point out that Jack the Monkey was often hard to work with and wasn't nearly as friendly or cooperative as the movie makes it seem, since we're just seeing the best bits.
  • There are a few stories regarding Cheetah during the production of the old MGM Tarzan movies. One is that Johnny Weissmuller was advised to keep a sock full of quarters handy when dealing with the chimp, just in case it tried to attack him. Sure enough, Cheetah attacked him and Johnny hit him with the quarters and legend has it from that day on Johnny and Cheetah were the best of pals. However, Cheetah wasn't at all a fan of Maureen O'Sullivan, and often had to wear a leg shackle around the actress.
  • Some scenes in Road to Morocco feature a live camel, the presence of which led to an unplanned gag when the animal spit in Bob Hope's face.
  • James Bond:
    • Dr. No would have adapted a scene from the original book where crabs attacked Honey Ryder, but the crabs were kept cold during their shipping and were very inactive on set, necessitating their removal from the film.
    • The cat portraying Blofeld's Right-Hand Cat in You Only Live Twice was freaked out by all of the pyrotechnics during the Volcano Lair attack and spent several days missing before having to be coaxed out of the studio rafters by the crew. The cat can be seen trying to claw out of Donald Pleasence's grip after the first explosion goes off in the finished film.
  • Arachnophobia was filmed entirely using real spiders and you can imagine the problems that would cause given how active of a role the little guys played in the film. The DVD commentary points out the patience required on the cast members' parts to get scenes right, and points out the one scene where the spider rushes the cat only for it to be lifted out of harm's way by its owner took 47 takes before the spider decided to run toward the cat.
  • Near the end of Caged, a kitten accidentally gets killed in a scuffle at the prison. The kitten clearly moves its mouth even while dead.
  • Doctor Dolittle saw its budget balloon massively from this, and it's seen as a major reason it became a Box Office Bomb. Whole books have been written about the horror stories of over 1200 animals refusing to obey directions, including ducks forgetting how to swim and needing to be rescued, a goat that ate a script, a parrot yelling "Cut!", a squirrel that refused to sit still until it was rendered drunk and a piglet that had to be replaced multiple times due to outgrowing its own role.
  • Quite famously the film adaptation of Cujo experienced some major difficulties with working with its St. Bernard actors. Namely, the dogs (St. Bernards are basically the Trope Codifier for Big Friendly Dog) were, in perhaps the ultimate extreme of Mean Character, Nice Actor, unable to behave aggressively to the human actors no matter how they were coerced. For many scenes, a cunningly disguised Rottweiler had to be used. A few scenes were ruined because the dogs would stop to lick the rabid blood and drool goop (in reality cream and egg white with red food dye) off their faces. For other shots "Cujo's" tail had to be taped down or kept out of frame because the dog kept happily wagging it whenever they saw the actors or their trainer.
  • Another Stephen King adaptation, the 2019 remake of Pet Sematary, ran into this problem with the Maine Coon cats playing Church during the scenes when he's meant to be undead and viciously aggressive. Unfortunately, the cats became attached to Jason Clarke and refused to act frightening (Clarke can be spotted visibly corpsing in some of his scenes where Church is "menacing" him), to the point the effects crew decided to replace them with computer-generated cats for some of the more intense scenes.
  • During the filming of The Elusive Avengers, the crew had a lot of trouble making the horses stand still for the Land in the Saddle scene. In the end, they just smeared some sugar syrup on the walls in front of them.
  • Roar is largely known for this, being a film focused on big cats with some very reckless production. Most of the cats (including around 150 lions) involved weren't actually trained. It's estimated that over seventy people were injured on-set, and some of the actors claim that this was lowballing it. One of the main problems was that the film heavily involved people being scared of and running away from big cats, but ultimately learning that the cats aren't dangerous... but the thing is, acting terrified of a predatory animal and running away from it is a good way to make it interpret you as prey. The kicker? Tippi Hedren adopted most of the animals used in the shoot!
  • Tippi Hedren had experienced this in The Birds for the famous sequence in which Melanie is attacked in the attic. Lied to by the director that they'd be using mechanical birds, she arrived on set to find that she'd be getting live ones thrown at her. When that didn't work, they tied them to her costume. She became so distressed by the end of that week, the studio doctor overruled Alfred Hitchcock and gave her a week's bed rest.
    • There was one particular raven named Archie who seemed to hate Rod Taylor and would constantly attack him even when the cameras weren't rolling.
  • Rebecca Mader tells the story at conventions about a horror film she once did - not mentioning the title (though possibly she meant Mimic 3) - which was filmed near a dog shelter. As a result most of the audio was filled with the sounds of dogs barking, so she had to ADR all her lines. Or as she puts it "three weeks of screaming in six hours".
  • For the scene in The Wolf of Wall Street where Jonah Hill has to eat a goldfish, PETA were on set with about four goldfish wranglers to make sure he only had the fish in his mouth for four seconds apiece. Despite this, a fish urinated in his mouth.
  • The giant octopus Oodako in King Kong vs. Godzilla was at times played by live octopi on a miniature set. But according to the assistant special effects director in an interview many years later, it took forever to get the cephalopods to actually crawl around. They didn't move when poked with sticks and cigarettes, splashed with water, or getting air blown on them, but eventually they figured out that aiming a beam of light at them got the animals moving.
  • The 1964 film Giant Horde Beast Nezura was canceled because the untrained sewer rats Daiei used for the titular monsters were spreading disease and parasites among the filming crew and there were worries they would escape into nearby towns. But not giving up on making a kaiju movie, they opted for suit approach in their next production about a certain fire-breathing flying turtle... and the rest is history.
  • Noted animal trainer, Mel Hurtig, noted an aversion of this trope when dealing with an incontinent duck during the shooting of one film. One male lead complained loudly about it and resisted working with it, but the female lead insisted on having the duck with her near-constantly during shooting, messy business and all. The male lead was eager to let her do that, until a crew worker explained why she did that: by playing with a cute duck, that leading lady drew more attention by the camera crew and editors and thus had more screen time for herself for the film. Obviously, being able to hog the spotlight was worth dealing with the mess.
  • The 'horse of a different colour' in The Wizard of Oz kept licking the dye turning its coat different colors in between takes (which was jello powder).
  • The cat playing Claude in Black Christmas (1974) proved difficult for the scene where he jumps on Clare's corpse in the rocking chair and licks her face. After trying to coax the cat multiple times, director Bob Clark physically threw him onto Lynne Griffin. They also sprayed her face with catnip so the cat would lick her.
  • In The Mummy (1999), according to the DVD Commentary, the struggle that Beni is having with his camel towards the end wasn't planned—the camel itself decided not to move and that wasn't the only time they had trouble with the camels, which are generally notorious for being hard to work with.
  • Baby Burlesks: In the short, Kid in Africa, Shirley Temple was supposed to ride in an ostrich-drawn cart, but the bird bolted and Temple was almost crushed.
  • Captain Marvel (2019): Brie Larson is allergic to cats, so scenes where she appeared with Goose required CGI, puppets, and/or editing tricks.
  • The VVitch: Charlie the goat gave the production crew about as hard a time off-set as his character Black Philip gave the other characters, even ramming into Ralph Ineson and injuring him.
  • In the airport X-ray scene in Total Recall, one of the passengers passing through the X-ray scanner is a blind man with a seeing-eye dog. During what was considered the best take, the dog chose that very moment to relieve itself. Thankfully, since the X-ray imagery on the scanner was going to be computer-generated anyway, the incident could be easily excised. The director in fact considered animating the dog peeing behind the scanner for a comedic effect, but ultimately decided it'd be too distracting.source 
  • In-Universe, this is a major theme in Nope. It's shown several times in the film that getting animals to cooperate on a camera is difficult, and can result in chaos and destruction when mistreated or disrespected.
    • Near the start of the film, the Haywoods are hired to loan their horse Lucky for a TV commercial. The film crew ignores the Haywoods' instructions on how to properly handle Lucky and end up agitating him until he kicks a stage light, resulting in the Haywoods being unceremoniously fired while Lucky is replaced with a CGI horse.
    • Jupe's backstory involves the cast and crew of a sitcom he starred in as a child getting brutally mauled by their chimpanzee costar (who, in a meta example, is played by a human through Motion Capture for this exact reason). By the present, he's trying to use a predatory alien as part of his show, but ends up victim to it himself.

Live Action Television

  • The Untamed: Downplayed; in the scenes where Fairy chases Wei Wuxian, the crew got a hard time getting the dog to chase Xiao Zhan unless they baited it with sausages.
  • This is part of how Clint Eastwood got his whispering directing style. When on Rawhide, the director would yell "Action!" and cause the horses to bolt every time. So when he directs, he whispers "All right, go ahead" instead of Action, and "That's enough of that" instead of Cut.
  • Blue Peter: An elephant defecated on camera and walked out of the studio, stepping on John Noakes' foot in the process.
  • One of the most memorable bloopers from The Ellen DeGeneres Show was an anaconda wrapping its tail around a rather intimate part of Ellen's anatomy.
  • In The Incredible Hulk (1977), a scene where the Hulk fights a bear was complicated by the fact that the bear found the gelatin mix that was used to color Lou Ferrigno green was delicious and was more interested in licking it off than properly imitate fighting the actor.
  • Late Night with Conan O'Brien once did a sketch that briefly involved a duck. The duck did several unexpected things, most notably pooping on the studio floor and then eating it. Conan reacted with genuine shock, including an unusual instance of swearing that had to be bleeped (even though the show isn't aired live, he usually avoids certain words). "We've got a sh**-eating duck out here!" They capitalized on this incident in several follow-up sketches, in which the duck became known as "Quackers, The Sh**-Eating Duck."
  • The Red Dwarf Smeg-Ups had two instances of animal trouble:
    • Lister's cat in "The End", which slipped out twice before Craig Charles could catch her. In the actual show, Craig has a wardrobe malfunction with his shorts and the cat is still trying to get away - and that was the best take.
    • The Series VI Smeg-Ups devoted an entire bunch of clips to "moving the chicken" from "Emohawk Polymorph II".
  • Stephen Colbert had several instances of this:
    Stephen: I also work with children.
    • The white pony on The Daily Show during the Napoleon sketch. Confused pony plus inexperienced horseman adds up to Hilarious Outtakes.
    • In another episode of The Colbert Report, Stephen tried to get a cat to pick out why the Egyptians revolted. The cat just sat there despite the food, toys on a string, and even a laser. The cat didn't even react when Stephen threw food near him.
  • The characters on Lost had to stop hunting boar because the boars were so hard to manage.
  • Dirty Jobs: Mike Rowe demonstrates why this is true with a pig in a series of outtakes from a TV spot. In the show itself this happens a lot as well, such as in this montage of the most memorable animal moments.
  • The Tony Danza Show. Tony for a time had this parrot named "Rocky" on the show and he would constantly try to get it to do tricks and it never cooperated with him.
  • Gerald Durrell had no choice but to work with animals for a few TV shows. There are probably retired TV station employees still walking a little funny after Delilah the porcupine.
  • Likely to occur on Mythbusters whenever animals are involved.
    • Jamie's immortal line: "Quack, damn you." They needed to get a duck to quack for testing if a duck's quack echoes, but their ducks were very silent. Luckily, they eventually figured out the formula: make two ducks face each other and they start quacking like mad.
    • During a segment in the Shop Till You Drop special, Jamie jokingly brings up this trope while talking about animal suppliers at the same time as he is struggling to hold a huge varan lizard that clearly does not want to be there. This scene is later shown in an extended form during Mythbusters Revealed where this trope is also invoked.
    • The Build Team tried to make the famous fainting goats faint but they failed. The goats did faint in reaction to everything else from a passing car to the nearby cameraman.
    • They also once attempted to test the theory that running in a zig-zag will help you dodge a crocodile... but couldn't get the crocodiles to actually chase them or the rig they built carrying a chicken carcass as bait. At one point the crocodile (regularly fed by the sanctuary where the episode was being filmed, mind you) looked at the chicken as if to consider it for a moment, and then seemed to go "nah, not worth it" and ignored it. Incidentally, this helped bust the myth since crocodiles are ambush predators and don't tend to chase their prey much beyond the water, and the myth was busted not because it didn't work, but because it wasn't necessary. (Of course, if the croc/gator hasn't eaten awhile or it's mating season, when the males get territorial... there's a reason the show's motto is Do Not Try This at Home.)
    • One of the earlier episodes had Adam and Jamie trying to test out cures for skunk spray. They had everything figured out, except for how to get the skunks to actually spray them. Eventually they bought some in a bottle, and subsequently used a room that the skunk had sprayed for testing.
    • Their attempt at herding cats also went exactly like you'd expect, and even the sheepdog they brought in had no luck. Adam eventually resorted to picking them up and manually placing them in the corral, and even that didn't work as the cats just ran out again.
    • Averted in the "Bird Balance" myth; Kari says that despite what they say about working with animals, the birds were all very cooperative.
    • To their surprise, real actual bulls busted that bulls in a China shop would prove disastrous for the shopowner: they were all smart enough to recognize that it was probably not a good idea to approach displays the Mythbusters built in their pen and agile enough to trot around them. The crew also commented on how nimble and careful the bulls were even when moving fast. (The most destructive creature during the episode? Tory, whose bumbling, both accidental and deliberate, broke several items.)
    • One more gruesome example occurred when testing a myth about whether the cereal box is more nutritious than the cereal. One group of mice were given cereal to eat, another group of mice were given cardboard to eat... but the mice given cardboard instead ate each other. Understandably, this particular myth ended up unaired.
  • Alvin Hall once found out that ostriches are not very cooperative when trying to film.
  • On Welsh language TV, the magazine show presenter who was talking to the man from Pobsaes Twlldyn who kept ferrets and had bought a couple to the studio. The presenter, who had been petting a ferret, suddenly discovered it had clamped razor-sharp teeth over his nose and would not let go....
  • In one instance of Jack Hanna being on David Letterman's show, a pair of armadillos ended up demonstrating the species'... ''embodiment''.
  • The Muppet Show:
    • In one episode, Gonzo tried to do a dancing chicken act and got a real-live hen on stage. The chicken didn't dance, much to his annoyance, but it did do an okay split at the end.
    • George Burns once related to Rowlf the time he did this vaudeville act of holding a dog in his arms while singing a song. The dog bit him halfway through.
  • David Attenborough recalled in a preface to some of his Zoo Quest books the 1950 weekly BBC TV programme of the same name with George Cansdale of London Zoo. Cansdale would bring an animal, put it on the desk and talk about it. Since film was expensive, all broadcasts were live, and misbehaving animals were part of the programme's charm. Most troubles involved either an animal relieving itself on the table or Cansdale's trousers, or less often trying to escape or biting. However, taking photos of animals seems to be the least of Attenborough's problems in the Zoo Quest books.
  • Shadow and Bone featured an adorable goat named Milo in its first season. According to Kit Young (Jesper), who interacted the most with Milo, the goats that played Milo constantly screamed and pooped, and at one point practically headbutted him into a wall.
  • On one episode of 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, Jimmy Carr attempted to distract the panel by bringing out two baskets of kittens. This went south quickly when he had trouble corralling them and they kept escaping the baskets.
  • Edmonton weatherman Mike Sobel learned this the hard way while trying to do a live forecast featuring a dog named Ripple from the local animal shelter. The dog promptly chewed through its leash and proceeded to playfully jump all over him. Corpsing ensued.
  • One television reporter learned the hard way why it's a very bad idea to get up close and personal with a dog who doesn't know you (especially one who, in this case, had been through a very traumatic event where it had to be rescued from a frozen lake only the day before).
  • Some outtakes shown at the beginning of "Ludlow Laughs" from Reading Rainbow show that LeVar Burton had some very painful / embarrassing episodes involving animals in making the show. But, at least, looking back, he can laugh about them.
  • The reason that the family dog, Tiger, was written out of The Brady Bunch was because the original dog was killed when he was hit by a car and the replacement dog was too unpredictable, so he was phased out by the show's second season.
  • During the London run of Serena Blandish, Constance Collier had to make a dramatic entrance with two colossal greyhounds. Perhaps unwisely, Miss Collier and the dogs waited to make their entrance immediately behind the doors through which they were going to enter. When their cue came, the doors were flung open and the hounds, accustomed to starting races in this manner, tore off across the stage (dragging their holder behind them) and out through the fireplace, allowing Collier only a split second to duck to avoid decapitation!
  • RuPaul's Drag Race: In the Season 10 finale, finalists Asia O'Hara and Kameron Michaels were in a lipsynch battle, and Asia intended to dramatically release live butterflies from her outfit. However, the air-conditioning in the theater made them sluggish. When they didn't take flight, she tried shaking them out, which only made them fall on the floor and at least one got stepped on. The embarrassing blunder got her eliminated and fans have dubbed her "The Butterfly Queen" (which she has since had fun with).
  • I've Got a Secret had two such instances.
    • September 12, 1956: A cow-milking demonstration went wrong when the cow they brought in made pies all over the stage instead.
    • The first contestants on October 5, 1964 were dogs Suzie (star of the Folies Bergère) and Suzie Jr. (her understudy), who proved to be a bit troublesome. Suzie got scared by the buzzer and kept barking for about a minute (the judge whistled instead for the rest of the round) and Suzie Jr. had to leave near the end to do some "business":
      Steve Allen: That's what I love about live television!
  • Bob McGrath recalled an instance on Sesame Street where he was introducing Kermit the Frog to an actual bullfrog. During the scene, the frog ended up peeing on Jim Henson's head, but the crew didn't seem to notice so no one called cut, and they had to keep going as Jim dealt with frog urine on the top of his head. When the scene finally ended, he and Bob both burst out laughing.
  • Coronation Street had an episode where Roy Cropper was nearly killed while bat watching. This trope is the reason they opted for really bad CGI ones.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch required about four different cats to double for Salem when they weren't using the puppet. Melissa Joan Hart says that things like tuna and cat food would have to be hidden all over the set to coax the cats to move when they needed to, and the whole place smelled awful because of it.
  • To Tell the Truth: One game involved an armadillo trainer with Garry Moore bringing one onstage to introduce the segment. Unfortunately, the armadillo chose to relieve itself on Moore just before the panelists could be introduced. None of them would shake Moore's hand as custom while they came on stage, choosing to stay as far away from him as possible.
    Moore: Does anybody in the audience want an empty armadillo?
  • The Price Is Right: During the Cullen era, the daytime show did a promotion with the Barnum & Bailey Circus. An elephant was brought out on stage... and dropped off a surprise.
    Bill: Tune in on Monday, when we give equal time to the Democratic Party!
  • For a one TV news report about the successful Chinese efforts to regrown the panda population, the crew had some difficulty with the young pandas being so cuddly and rambunctious with them. However, since they were pandas and being absolutely adorable doing that, no one really minded.
  • One Saturday Night Live skit involving a "dog court" had Cecily Strong valiantly trying to avoid Corpsing while the pug she was desperately trying to hold onto crawled all over her face, almost knocking off her glasses and wig.
  • An In-Universe example occurs in an episode of Reno 911! The Reno sheriff's department is to be the subject of a local children's show, Reading Ron, but none of the content is at all appropriate for young audiences, until finally they get the idea to take one of Weigel's cats and place it on the roof of a house and stage a rescue. As Junior is trying to handle the cat, however, it refuses to cooperate, and eventually claws him, causing him to drop it into the AC unit below. It wasn't pretty.
  • Two outtakes from the Barney & Friends video "Sing and Dance with Barney" showed this trope. One outtake for "Down on Grandpa's Farm" had the pig running away (with David Joyner, Barney's suit actor, breaking character and trying to catch it to no avail), while an outtake for "B-I-N-G-O" had the animal actor playing the titular dog refusing to cooperate.
  • The first episode of Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge featured an equestrian as a guest, so naturally Alan brings a strange horse into an unsuitable environment and asks his guest to jump some obstacles he'd haphazardly set up. While she explains why this is a bad idea, the horse takes a dump on the studio floor.
  • The X-Files in a couple of animal-focused episodes:
    • "Teso dos Bichos" infamously climaxes with Mulder and Scully being attacked in a sewer by a swarm of vicious stray cats. This scene failed for a couple of reasons: one, because the cats were extremely lazy and refused to take direction or do anything to menace the actors. Second, because Gillian Anderson was allergic to cats, which made it impossible to shoot close-ups and resulted in the decidedly-unscary sight of cat puppets being shoved in Anderson's face.
    • "Alpha" ran into difficulties casting its shapeshifting cryptid dog, the wanshang dhole. This time, the animals were less to blame than the trainers Fox approached, who ran the gamut from eccentric to flagrantly irresponsible. When the producers found what they thought was a suitable animal, the trainer mentioned that the dog had a habit of biting actors and suggested that they wear electrified clothing. Eventually, Chris Carter contacted a dog breeder who suggested using wolf-malamute crossbreeds, who were menacing in appearance but well-trained.
  • Frasier generally averted this with Moose, the dog that played Eddie, who by almost all accounts was very well trained. That said, according to Kelsey Grammer, it did not get along with John Mahoney and would repeatedly snap at and try to bite him. There's also a blooper reel where David Hyde Pierce keeps trying to deliver his line ("Do you remember the year...") only to be constantly interrupted by Moose whimpering and growling.
  • The monkey that played Mr. Nilsson in the classic Swedish TV version of Pippi Longstocking had to be tied to Pippi to cooperate and frequently bit and scratched people and relieved himself on the set. The child actress who played Pippi was understandably scared of him, and he was written out of the series after the first episodes.
  • Animorphs: A major problem, given the premise of the series. First of all, they couldn't get most of the animals from the books, hence why the characters spend so much time as humans, or morph "easy" animals like dogs and horses (and why, for example, Rachel's "battle morph" is a lion instead of a bear or elephant). And it turns out that the most important animal—Tobias' hawk form—was very difficult to work with, as you can see by the fact that it rarely looks in the direction that it should be.
  • The cast of Friends have made no secret of how much they hated working the monkeys that played Ross' pet Marcel in the first season. The monkeys frequently slowed down production by ignoring their trainer's commands. The character had only been included due to Executive Meddling, and once the show become a major hit the writers immediately had Marcel Put on a Bus so they wouldn't have to deal with the monkeys any more.


  • Once again with the Barney & Friends team: the photography for the book Barney & BJ Go to the Zoo ran into this trope. The book was set to feature rhinoceroses, however the rhinoceroses at the zoo the photo shoot was done at turned out to be terrified of the dinosaur costumes, so as a result the rhinoceroses were photoshopped in for the page featuring them.


  • In-Universe: "The Mississippi Squirrel Revival", by Ray Stevens, is a song of a kid who catches a squirrel. The squirrel is expected to stay in a box. It doesn't, wreaking havoc in a church.
  • OK Go features animals in several of their videos:
    • Mostly averted in their video for "White Knuckles", where the dogs for the most part behaved and even got so excited that they would begin to outpace the video. There was also a goat who would often drag Andy Ross across the set, so they scrapped the idea that it would be on a treadmill as a Call-Back to one of the band's earlier videos. Outtakes also show that the human and animal actors tended to botch their scenes in about equal proportions.
    • The video for "End Love" also featured several geese that wander in and out of the shots at various times, and one in particularly named Maria (which is actually a male goose) was initially hostile to them but eventually seemed to adopt them over the course of a few days, and follows them through a large part of the video.
  • P!nk swore off allowing animals in her music videos after "Just Like a Pill" when she saw how distressed an elephant became having to get down on its knees repeatedly for different takes.
  • Similar to the above, the Red Hot Chili Peppers never had animals in their videos after seeing the chimpanzee for their "Soul To Squeeze" video get abused by its trainer during production.
  • At the 1980 Drum Corps Associates finals, the Westshoremen decided to release live doves at the end of their closer "The Impossible Dream", during which a giant American flag was to be unfurled. Unfortunately, the birds had been cooped up in dark drum cases and would not fly away. Most of them did leave their confines, but congregated on the field and refused to leave. The Chief Judge scared some of them away by firing his timing pistol at them. Corps members had to return to the field and pick up the doves that they couldn't shoo away, often resulting in soiled uniforms. They were able to remove the birds before the next corps (the Sunrisers) took the field note .
  • Brazilian singer Paula Fernandes opened a concert that would be recorded for a DVD by entering the stage on horseback. In-between songs, she notes the horse is nervous at being surrounded and "decorating" the stage.

Newspaper Comics

  • Cartoonist Bud Grace, creator of the comic strip Ernie/Piranha Club, had a photoshoot for the jacket of his second paperback collection that depicted him with a dozen monkeys in various clothes, which was a reference to one of the storylines collected in the book. Problem was, the monkey they used for the shoot wasn't too keen on cooperating, and not only made it almost impossible to take the pictures, but also bit his trainer, the photographer, and Grace himself.

Professional Wrestling

  • Professional wrestlers have been taking on animals in the ring since the 1930s. In North America, the animal was traditionally a bear, whom would used to sell a "bear handler gimmick" of a wrestler who would sometimes get his opponents to wrestle the animal in his place. Ginger was one of the first bears, "Terrible" Ted was the most famous, and Smokey was the most dangerous. In Asia, the animal was usually a crocodile, where two wrestlers would have a match and the loser would then have to wrestle the animal, as Big Japan Pro Wrestling continued to do well after everyone else started phasing this gimmick match out. No one actually liked doing this for anything other than the pay check. Either the animal was borderline diseased and hard to get anything out of, like "Terrible Ted", or it wasn't and thus was extremely dangerous like Smokey, who actually managed to maul someone to death. A bear can at least be pinned for three seconds, even if a more docile one doesn't realize a match is going on, or that the match is over in the more hostile specimens. It's never easy but pinning a crocodile is a lot trickier (and you'd be hard pressed to find a "docile" crocodile).
  • Lou Thesz famously refused to be on any card that featured a match involving what the called "zoo animals" while he was World Heavyweight Champion. Eventually he convinced National Wrestling Alliance board of directors to ban the mixing of "zoo animals" and world title belts on cards altogether, as he felt they more than anything else damaged professional wrestling's legitimacy.
  • Ada Ash mixed things up by being a crocodile handler. And by handler we mean she carried the things around in public. Not sure being crazy was just a "gimmick" there. The "smaller" specimens would often "behave" without muzzles, but the larger individuals she and husband Al Szasz wrestled could still get out of hand and require leashing to protect the audience.
  • WWE has tried to work with animals on a few occasions. It has never worked out.
    • During the early 90s, the British Bulldogs were given a mascot in an actual bulldog named Matilda. Bulldogs are normally very placid and safe for using even on live television, but Afa the Wild Samoan had gotten her a big drink just before the British Bulldogs match. Matilda took a gigantic pee in the ring, infuriating the wrestlers who had to work on the urine-soaked mat, and getting WWF banned from Boston for several years.
    • Vince McMahon once had to chase a chicken in a training scene for a match with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Problem was it was cold and snowy out. The chicken wasn't having any of it, and refused to do anything at all. Vince actually belly-flopped into the snow and flailed around trying to make the chicken run from him, to no avail. Eventually he and Shane just picked the poor chicken up and laughed about the whole thing not working.
    • In the execrable Kennel from Hell match (from the 1999 Unforgiven pay-per-view), the gimmick was that it was a cage match with two cages (a normal cage around the ring, and the larger, roofed Hell in a Cell cage), but that there would be several ferocious rottweilers in the area between them. The problem was that the dogs weren't remotely ferocious. They urinated and defecated at ringside, mated, tried to get petted by the fans, and generally acted like overgrown puppies. On the rare occasions in which the dogs barked or acted aggressively, it was directed towards each other instead of the wrestlers, which defeated the entire point of the match. The main reason why this happened was because the company didn't bother trying to find trained attack dogs (Vince Russo has claimed that the company tried to borrow dogs from the local police department, but the request was denied.) and they instead just contacted random rottweiler owners they found through the nearby veterinarian clinic, and only one of the dogs had any sort of obedience training.
    • Triple H and Ric Flair did a commercial for WrestleMania 21 parodying Braveheart. Flair was supposed to ride a mule in, but the mule refused to move with him on, so they settled for him leading it in.
  • WCW:
    • They booked a match between Sting and Jake "The Snake" Roberts where the finish was for Jake to sic a (real, but devenomised) cobra on Sting, only to have it turn on him. But Jake couldn't get the snake to bite him, so he ended up holding it to his face while it flailed stupidly.
    • You'd think they'd have learned what a bad idea this was from Jake's run in the WWF, specifically the time where he'd sicced his cobra on Randy Savage while the Macho Man was tied up in the ring ropes. That time it had worked too well, as the (devenomised) snake sank its fangs into Savage's arm and wouldn't let go, forcing Jake to desperately try and dislodge the annoyed reptile from Savage while doing his best to preserve Kayfabe. The cobra later died after biting Savage.
    • While they weren't exactly "working" with the animal since it wasn't supposed to do anything but be there, the (WrestleCrap-worthy) match between Terry Funk and Chris Candido almost went horribly wrong when the WCW staff thought there was no problem having the two men brawl their way into a stable which contained a real live 400-pound horse. Funk had insisted the horse be tranquilised to make sure it was calm, but it wasn't enough, and when Funk gave Candido a piledriver in the stable right next to the animal (which wasn't even tied up) the horse got spooked and kicked Funk in the arm. Candido panicked, stopped selling the piledriver and scrambled out of the stable, but Funk just shouted "You fucking horse! I'll kick your ass!" and went on to finish beating Candido down for the win, despite the fact that if the horse had aimed about six inches higher it might have ripped his head off! Funk even later stated that if the horse hadn't already been tranquilised the kick might actually have killed him.
  • Lisa Marie Varon introduced a pet tarantula called Poison when she showed up in TNA as Tara, but wisely kept her locked in a cage that she just brought with her to the ring and gave to a stage hand during the match. She did however occasionally let her out of the cage to crawl on her opponents. Perhaps for this reason, Poison was phased out after she'd been there about a year. Additionally, TNA were legally obligated to provide a handler at ringside whenever the spider was used. According to Lisa, the handler was paid "more than the wrestlers".


  • Acknowledged in the play The Lieutenant of Inishmore by Martin McDonagh, which has two alternative closing lines depending on whether a cat on stage eats food offered to it or not.
  • Two Gentlemen of Verona contains a comedy character named Launce, whose shtick is that he's constantly dragging his dog Crab around and delivering amusing monologues about it. Two Gentlemen was one of Shakespeare's earliest works and his plot-writing abilities weren't what they ended up becoming, so Launce and his dog, notorious scene-stealers, are regarded by pretty much everyone as the highlight of the play. However, Shakespeare never included a dog in a major role again, and scholars speculate that he learned this trope the hard way.
  • Belle's cart horse Philippe and Aladdin's monkey friend Abu were left out of the Broadway adaptations of Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, respectively, both for logistical reasons.
  • In one of Howie Mandel's stage shows, a dog was supposed to come out and bark like Lassie, and Howie would interpret the barking as "Robert Goulet is in the lobby and trapped under a boulder". The dog didn't bark, so Gilbert Gottfried, who was on stage as part of a previous sketch comes over and says "woof".
  • In a production of Aida (Verdi) the famous tenor Lauritz Melcior was supposed to come on stage riding in a chariot drawn by two horses. However at the first rehearsal the horses stampeded, and he barely managed to stop them from dragging him and the chariot into the orchestral pit.

Web Original

  • During Kickassia there were multiple issues with the neighbors' dogs, who would often bark in the background of scenes and force them to reshoot. There's also one point on the blooper reel where Doug Walker is giving his big dramatic speech with his back to the camera (meaning that he can say whatever and just redub it later) and starts going into a rant about how annoying those dogs are and how he's going to shoot them.
  • While filming his The Christmas Shoes review, The Necro Critic had a pillow set on his couch for him to scream into during one of the scenes. However, his cat kept jumping on top of the pillow and he kept trying to move her to film the scene. Eventually, he got fed up and just screamed into the cat instead. This has since become one of his more famous running gags.
  • If a Let's Player has a pet that could make noise or disturb them, they will at one point do so. In an example of Tropes Are Not Bad, viewers tend to love the moments when a pet appears, for obvious reasons.
    • While Cry's cat doesn't work per se, it does interrupt his recordings at times, distracting Cry from narrating.
    "There is a cat on my lap."
    • Markiplier has two puppies of his own. Mind you, those puppies are big labradors or golden retrievers. Whenever he ends up filming since getting them, there is a real chance that he will pause at some point to tell Chica that she's not supposed to be stealing his socks, licking his legs or messing with his chair.
    • A whole episode of SeaNanners was about how he and the other players had a great time being amused by Hutch's dog barking and whining in the background. Also the episode where Miles the cat decided to use his 5 seconds of fame to purr loudly into the microphone.
  • Revscarecrow of Vinesauce has a cat named Herman that has been known to interrupt streams. At one point while streaming Yakuza 0 Herman walked on the keyboard and Alt+Tab'd out of the game. Limes also has ferrets that have been known to interrupt streams.
  • Jontron, who often includes his pet parrot Jacques in his videos, naturally has come upon this problem more than once. So far, the incidents we know about have been:
    • Trying to bite Jon's lips and ears (usually just a Funny Background Event, but there's at least one time it kept the video from continuing).
    • Crapping on the floor while Jon was trying to explain something.
    • Taking suicide leaps off Jon's desk while he's trying to explain the same thing.
    • Trying to clean Jon's teeth, which rather resembled doing the head-in-lion's-mouth circus trick.
    • Shrieking while Jon's trying to explain something (a different thing this time), interrupting him three times in a row.
    Jontron: *during the latter incident* ...are you fucking serious?
    • This trope is also why he no longer appears as often. Jon stated that they are rarely able to get usable footage of him to be used after fans began to fear the worst. Jacques returned in "Jacques Exposed," explaining he's retired.
    • His other bird, Cinnamon, is apparently even worse, as even if she doesn't show up often she's acquired a tendency to chew on Jon's face, leaving gashes that require makeup to cover up later.
  • In one episode of Best of the Worst, the cast decided to destroy the worst movie (Python II) in homage to the "best" movie (Beaks: The Movie) by covering the VHS tape in birdseed and letting a bunch of seagulls attack it. They quickly discovered seagulls don't eat birdseed, and in fact flew away when Mike scattered seed near them.
  • A few videos of Tucker Budzyn, show Tucker and/or other dogs not following the "script" of the food reviews, which Linda edits as them being sassy:
    • One prank backfires on Linda and results on Tucker burping to her face.
    • On the Kissing Booth video, Tucker exits the video, saying that he's going "far away from her".
      Linda: Wait...! Where you going? I haven't gotten my smooches yet!
    • On the second video with Flutter, the fist thing she does is getting out of the bathtub.
      Linda: Okay Flutter, you're ready for a taste test?
      Flutter: Nope. Am out.
    • On the third video with Pearl, she keeps climbing on to the table during the taste test.
  • Gold Standard had problems filming the scene of Liam calling at Amber's house - because the dog in the house would keep barking hysterically whenever the doorbell rang.
  • R Slash, who reads Reddit posts, ended up including a segment in his videos called "Puppy Bloopers", compiling all the times his dog Yugo ruins a take by yapping. They don't happen as often anymore, but still pop up from time to time.
  • A significant amount of Caddicarus outtakes involve his dog Stan ruining the shoot, either by walking into the shot (either aimlessly wandering in front of the camera or deliberately going up to Caddicarus because he wants attention or to play), or by making noise (barking, whining, growling, or howling) while Caddicarus is trying to film.

Western Animation

  • The DVD of Barbie & The Diamond Castle includes a set of Hilarious Outtakes, 90% of which are the puppies ruining the shot by dancing. The Barbie in A Christmas Carol DVD supposedly had a deleted scene from Barbie & The Diamond Castle, but it was just another outtake of the puppies and a pegasus painting the titular castle.
  • An in-universe example happens in the Producing Parker episode "Dog Dee Afternoon" on the Doggy Divinity segement on The Dee Show, Parker's dog Massimo (who she didn't want on the show in the first place) does a mime routine, leading to Dee kicking him in anger (she thought he was going to pee on her) and getting the show boycotted by the dog-loving audience.
  • In-universe example in the Pepper Ann episode "Cat Scan". Pepper Ann's cat Steve becomes "Lotto Cat" for the local TV station after running away. He ends up thrown out of the studio after chewing the wires of the camera and knocking the lotto balls everywhere.
  • In-Universe, the TV show "Pet Search" in Garfield Goes Hollywood, which is a talent show competition for people's pets, suffers from this problem. Most of the animals Garfield is competing against either can't or won't perform: the talking parrot refuses to talk, the tap-dancing pigeons simply fly away when the curtain goes up, the roller-skating bear panics and flees the studio, etc. Garfield and Odie basically win their local contest by default because they're the only ones to successfully finish their act. Averted with the national competition, where all of the animals are far, far better trained.
  • The South Park episodes "Pandemic" and "Pandemic 2: The Startling" feature an attack by giant killer guinea pigs, portrayed by real guinea pigs. The footage was incredibly difficult to pull off, as guinea pigs' "fight, flee, or freeze" instinct defaults to "freeze", meaning the animals, especially those who were forced into costumes, spent most of their time on-camera completely motionless instead of giving any good footage.

Real Life

  • At a Chinese zoo in 2023, a ceremony commemorating the transition from the Year of the Tiger to the Year of the Rabbit went shockingly awry when the tiger cub held by one of the zookeepers seized and attempted to eat the large white rabbit held by another. The rabbit was frightened but uninjured, and the ceremony resumed with the keepers standing significantly farther apart.



  • One of the Hilarious Outtakes from Cheaper by the Dozen (2003) is of one of the child actors freaking out as the frog he's supposed to be holding attempts to escape.
  • In a making-of special for Labyrinth, Jim Henson states that he'd been told never to work with children, animals, or puppets. Labyrinth contains all three, and apparently it was a challenge getting everything to work out properly. Going by the special, the puppets were relatively the easiest to deal with (not surprisingly considering Jim Henson's earlier work), followed by the baby, with the animals being the hardest, with the special showing Jim Henson having trouble with the chickens in an early maze scene.
    • The baby actually peed on David Bowie's lap the first time they filmed a scene together. Additionally, he was originally supposed to be called Freddie but baby Toby Froud would only respond to his own name.
  • Emma Thompson's diary during the filming of Sense and Sensibility relates difficulties with both animals and babies:
    • The sheep gave such trouble that Ang Lee at one point declared, "No more sheeps. Never again sheeps." (Except ten years later he did Brokeback Mountain, where apparently the sheep were even more of a headache.) The babies presented an unusual problem: the scene called for a crying baby, and none of them would cry.
    • She also mentions one day when the horse she was on had an audibly bad case of gas, and a shot involving a dog that was fascinated by the camera and kept staring directly into the lens. The people who were offscreen in each shot had to all wave dog treats at it to distract it.
  • An In-Universe example occurs in Space Jam, where Daffy, after escaping Michael Jordan's dog with the help of his children, quips "This is the last time I'm working with dogs or children!"
  • Jason Isaacs (Hook/Mr.Darling) says "Never work with children or animals or animal like children" on a behind the scenes of Peter Pan when the kids are mucking around, seen here.
  • Roger Ebert cited this trope in his review of Picture Perfect.
    Ebert: It was W. C. Fields who hated to appear in the same scene with a child, a dog, or a plunging neckline—because nobody in the audience would be looking at you. Jennifer Aniston has the same problem in this movie even when she's in scenes all by herself.
  • Zig-zagged in-universe in Willow. The first time Willow performs his "disappearing pig" trick, the pig escapes, revealing that the trick was mere slight-of-hand. Everybody laughs, and Willow is shamed. In the climax, Willow performs a "disappearing baby" trick with the much more immobile Elora Danan, and Queen Bavmorda falls for it.

Live Action Television

  • This trope is exploited in-universe on Quantum Leap. Al was supposed to appear in the form of a hologram that only Sam could see and hear, but since animal and child actors couldn't just be asked to ignore him, they actually made it a plot point that they had special neurological features that made Al visible and audible to them. Al even made use of this trope to save lives, such as when he warns a black children's choir in the 1960s that Klansmen were approaching to burn down the church and to get the adults to leave with them.
  • The Worst Witch (1998 series) was about a girls' school for witches, where each student gets her own pet cat. So it was a cast full of child actresses and one cat for each of them:
    • Felicity Jones talks about the difficulties of working with cats on the show. It was incredibly difficult to make it look like the cats weren't trying to claw the actresses' faces off.
    • Thankfully this wasn't a problem in scenes with Mildred's cat Tabby - who is meant to be difficult and afraid of flying. Still it's telling that whenever the witches were shown flying, the books' tradition of having the cats ride on the back of the brooms wasn't kept. In the one scene where it was (adapting The Worst Witch All At Sea) it was a plot point that the girls just had the cat baskets hanging off the brooms (as Mildred is trying to hide Tabby).
    • In the first episode it's quite obviously a blue-screened tarantula crawling over Mildred's hands. Presumably to spare thirteen-year-old Georgina Sherrington having to hold a live spider - as Mildred is meant to love them.
    • Mildred's pet bats are mostly shown sleeping upside down, allowing the show to use dummies with bat sounds dubbed in. The one time the bats are shown in flight, it's obvious CGI.


  • Noël Coward once attended a play featuring an irritating child actor, in which a horse also defecated onstage. Supposedly, he quipped, "If they had shoved the child's head up the horse's arse, they'd have solved two problems at once."
  • This is discussed in William Shatner's book Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship With a Remarkable Man. He was talking with Steve Guttenberg about the play Three Men and a Baby and asked him if the adage among actors that the hardest thing to do was to work with animals and babies was true. Guttenberg smiled, shook his head, and told him "That's not true at all. The hardest thing is not working."

    Genre Savvy 
There have been some who have heeded this advice. They include:


  • Natalie Wood was known for being very easy to work with on set, and was so good at remembering her lines that they nicknamed her "One Take Natalie".
  • Bringing Up Baby was quite an achievement in film, considering it was a 1930s comedy with a live leopard on set. There was only one incident involving the (tame!) animal; Katharine Hepburn wore a skirt with lots of metal rings to make it swing beautifully, and at one point she twirled too quickly and the leopard lunged at her (saved by the trainer's whip however). Overall, Katharine Hepburn was quite fearless around the leopard while Cary Grant was less so - requiring doubles for lots of scenes where David interacts with Baby.
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, is at least knowledgeable about it, as they have Quark do VERY little in the show. Though, at least one episode includes quite a lot of reaction shots from him...
  • In Gorillas in the Mist, Dian Fossey described one of her early attempts that resulted in her then-best photos. When she approached a group of sunbathing gorillas, they hid in bushes. She decided to climb a nearby tree to get a better view. Since she had little experience climbing trees, wasn't in her best shape and was encumbered with cameras and other stuff, it took her a lot of time, and the process has been quite noisy. She expected the noise to scare the gorillas away, but instead "I was amazed to look around and find that the entire group had returned and were sitting like front-row spectators at a sideshow. All that was needed to make the image complete were a few gorilla-sized bags of popcorn and some cotton candy!" She quickly learned to use the apes' curiosity to overcome their fear and keep them where they are best visible.

Live Action Television

  • A Loud House Christmas and The Really Loud House: In The Loud House, the titular Louds have a dog, cat, bird, and hamster, in addition to the large abundance of pets resident Animal Lover Lana has. The jump to live-action means that most of the animals have been axed out for pragmatic reasons. Some of them get off-screen appearances or allusions, like Charles the dog having a leash as a background prop and the Christmas movie having a scene where Lincoln scoops dog poop, or Cliff the cat being an off-screen character in the Really Loud House episode "Heart and Soul". The animals that do appear, however, are usually easy to work with (like Lana's frog Hops), plushes (like a raccoon that attacks Lynn Sr. in "The Princess and the Everlasting Emerald"), or CGI characters (like Lana's snake El Diablo).


Video Example(s):


This Bird Is Insane

In "Joe Schmo 2," host "Derek Newcastle" (Ralph Garman) describes the struggles of working with Montecore, a trained falcon who delivers the "Falcon Twists" on the fake reality program "Last Chance for Love."

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / NeverWorkWithChildrenOrAnimals

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