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"I cannot imagine mice as the embodiment of evil. Mice are such charming little creatures, and it is not by accident that Mickey Mouse became an absolutely universal hero."
Andrey Konchalovskiy on why he changed the Mouse King to the Rat King in his adaptation of The Nutcracker

Unlike rats, mice are often portrayed as nice and heroic even though they are common household pests.

Very small and cute, yet wild, the mouse is an animal often used as a metaphor for someone easily underestimated. Thus, mouse characters and humanoid mouse races tend to be heroic and really good people, yet easily underestimated. In many works, this last trait is something they have grown to resent deeply. It's hard to demand respect from someone when you can't even reach his knees and your voice is very squeaky — no matter how brave you are.

These mice characters are designed to be likable one way or another. Some are heroic, some are nice, and some are both.

Fictional mice of this sort will typically be white, tan or light gray, and are also often drawn with deliberately cute, chubby or fluffy designs, generally tending towards large eyes and short, round snouts, something particularly apparent when mice appear in the same works as rats.

Contrast You Dirty Rat! for rodents, specifically rats, who are portrayed as disgusting.


Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • In Art Spiegelman's Maus, a narrative of the author's father's struggle to survive the Holocaust, the Jews are drawn as mice. Nazis are drawn as cats, and the Allied troops (particularly Americans) are drawn as dogs.
  • Mouse Guard, naturally. Though rogue mice feature as villains in the first story arc, none of them are as bad as Cats or Weasels.
  • The Powerpuff Girls #67: "Monkey Business" has Mojo Jojo giving up his life of crime to become a restaurateur. The girls don't believe him and they try to prove it when they find rats in the kitchen. Mojo angrily explains that the rats are expert chefs he brought over from France. (Actually one of the rats tells Bubbles in rat-speak and she translates.)
  • In Sunnyville Stories, the Eftirmatur family is a family of Scandinavian mice that runs the local bakery.

    Film — Animation 
  • The mice in Cinderella are not just nice, they are ultimately responsible for helping Cinderella's dream come true.
  • The mice in The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under are so nice they form a society to rescue children in need.
  • Timothy from Dumbo is one of the few nice characters in the film.
  • Same with most of the mice from The Great Mouse Detective. The villain, Ratigan, in contrast, appears to be a rat, even though he vehemently denies being one (he was definitely a mouse in the books). The exception to this trope being Ratigan's mooks who are thuggish criminals. Basil himself may not be nice, but he's still good.
  • Averted with Mrs. Fieldmouse in Thumbelina, who is most definitely not nice.
  • Fievel and the mice from the An American Tail movies are all nice. They're also stand-ins for poor oppressed minorities in the human world. The villains from the third movie are also mice, however.
  • Subverted with the mice in ''The Nutcracker Prince" as despite many of the mice are more sillier than both the Mouse King and his mother, they are still loyal to their king and try to attack the toys.
  • Played straight in The Secret Of Nimh, where the main character Mrs Brisby and her children are your standard animated mice, though somewhat fearful and skittish due to their small size and large number of natural enemies. Unfortunately, the majority of the Mice of NIMH were killed during the escape from the research facility, leaving only Mr Aegis and Jonathan, Mrs Brisby's husband. The movie also averts You Dirty Rat! however, as all the rats in the movie, aside from the main villain, are benevolent uplifted creatures.
  • Drastically subverted in Epic, in which Mary Katherine's expectations about this trope nearly get her killed. Only her leafman companion's quick reflexes save her from discovering that, to creatures the size of insects, an ordinary field mouse is a predator.

    Film — Live Action 
  • MouseHunt's mouse counts, but it's a more blurred example due to Alternative Character Interpretation. Obviously the audience is supposed to feel sorry for him, being hunted so ruthlessly by two humans, but he outsmarts them so often that it's clear he's not an ordinary mouse. So, if he's capable of understanding that, perhaps he's capable of understanding what a nuisance he is to two humans who consider the house their property.
  • The protagonist of Stuart Little is a sweet and friendly mouse child who is adopted by humans.

    Folklore 
  • In Latin America there's no tooth fairy; instead, the one taking the children's teeth and replacing them with coins is a friendly tooth mouse or ratón de los dientes.

    Literature 
  • The mouse in Aesop's fable The Lion and the Mouse makes this trope Older Than Feudalism.
  • In The Chronicles of Narnia:
    • Mice are the most badass race, and the only race that gets a racial storyline of its own. All other races of talking animals are given speech as a divine gift at the dawn of time. The mice, however, are so small and insignificant that they are overlooked by Aslan himself. However...
    • Moving on to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the mice earn their rank among the ascended animals by making a heroic attempt at Save Your Deity. In that story, mice chew off the ropes that bind the corpse of Aslan. As a result, mice are promoted to the rank of talking animal, and many years latter the mice are considered among the most brave and honorable of all the animals.
    • In Prince Caspian the mouse militia fearlessly go up against far larger enemies, routinely taking them out by being ignored in the fray and chopping them from underneath. Culminating in the Heroic Sacrifice of their commander Reepicheep and his army's quite special way of dealing with that situation.
    • In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Reepicheep is one of the main charactes, and arguably the bravest of them all. Lucy works quite hard to resist her urge of cuddling him, since she understand that such behavior from her would hurt his pride. The local Jerkass human taunts him for his size, but he quickly teaches the far larger human to fear him. Also, while the other heroes just happen to be on that journey for miscellaneous reasons, Reepicheep is the one doing the journey as a holy quest. It's worthy of note that when the voyage reaches the borders of Aslan's Country, Reepicheep sails on while the others turn back, making him the only Narnian as far as we know to bodily enter heaven, and probably the only mortal anywhere since Elijah.
  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, mice are revealed to be highly intelligent pan-dimensional beings; the little furry squeaky things we see are just their avatars in this dimension. Millions of years ago, they built the Super Computer Deep Thought as a means of discovering the Answer to the Great Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. They succeeded. Somewhat subverted though in that they act like assholes, treating Arthur as if he's nothing, and suggesting that they could just take his brain, dice and it up and replace it with a computerized one and nobody would know the difference.
  • Redwall uses this a lot.
  • Mice are the heroes of Robin Jarvis' Deptford Mice trilogy. They do battle against evil sewer rats and the God of Evil they worship.
  • Averted by most of the mice in The Tale of Despereaux, who sentence the title character to be eaten by rats just because he is different, but Played Straight by Despereaux himself. (rats are bad, except for Chiarascuro, who is ultimately redeemed).
  • In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz fieldmice rescue Dorothy, Lion, and Toto from the poppy field by dragging them away. (In the film The Wizard of Oz Glinda makes it snow to rescue them.)
  • Defied in-Verse in Moving Pictures by Definitely Not Squeak, a mouse who began talking under the influence of Holy Wood cinemagic. Told of this trope, he was outraged that humans consider his kind sweet and delicate, as he was the most badass mouse in the house and proud of it.
  • The Wee Widow Mouse and her family in The Book of the Dun Cow, including her deceased Badass Adorable husband, who actively defied Cockatrice before his death.
  • The Title character in Mus Of Kerbridge.
  • The mouse featured in some of Beatrix Potter's books such as Miss Tiddlemouse and the mice featured in The Tailorof Gloucester are this. With the exception of the male and female mice from The Tale Of Two Naughty Mice who are trouble makers.
  • The mouse in The Gruffalo by ''Julia Donaldson is an "easily underestimated" example - he's little, cute and a lot weaker than the predators he meets, but he convinces them all that he's the scariest creature in this wood.
  • Los cuentos de mi tía Panchita (think Costa Rica's version of the Mother Goose) has a short Nursery Rhyme titled La cucarachita Mandinga [Mandinga the Little Cockroach]. The eponymous insect ends marrying a mouse named Ratón Pérez because of his sweet and tender voice.
  • Timothy is a friendly mouse in Cat Pack that the cats agree not to eat in gratitude for his help.

    Live Action TV 
  • Mimoso in Odisea Burbujas is a tender and innocent baby mouse.
  • The concept behind the international franchise of Topo Gigio is that he is a friendly nice mouse.

    Music 
  • Kids Praise: The anthropomorphic variety of this appears in the fourth album: there are a few churchmice forming a church's choir, and Charity Churchmouse becomes a recurring character.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Mice were said to be associated with Apollon, the greek god of light, and he even has an epiphet related to this, Smintheus ("of the mice"). That said, Apollon was also associated with destruction, so his association with mice was as much due to their cuddliness as much as the fact that they're pests and plague-carriers.
  • Among the Haida people of British Columbia, there is the spirit known as Mouse Woman, a diminutive grandmother figure who acts as a teacher and a nurturer, keeping peace between humans and spirits through trickery.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • Pokémon:
    • Plusle and Minun are always there to cheer their trainer and the other Pokemon in the party on (and cry when they lose).
    • Pikachu is somewhat of a subversion in that it can be moody, but otherwise plays the trope straight (Ash's Pikachu in particular) as the franchise's beloved Mascot Mook.
  • In Prince of Persia, the Princess has a cute pet mouse that she loves very much. She sends him out to check on the Prince, and later he rescues the Prince in one level by opening a gate he gets trapped behind.
  • The late 90s Reader Rabbit titles has Mattie the Mouse, who is of course a sweet and soft-spoken creature.
  • D.I.J., a mouse hinted at throughout Resident Evil – Code: Veronica and then named and described when you find his diary in the Battle Game.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Pinky and the Brain: Pinky is nice, if completely cracked. The Brain — not so much, but he's a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Tom and Jerry: A lot of Jerry's nastiness is in provoked self-defense from Tom, but some of it is just tormenting Tom for the hell of it. When it comes to other animals, though, Jerry is pretty universally nice. He's nice to canaries, baby woodpeckers, baby ducks, baby seals, escaped lions, circus Elephants (on more than one occasion even). Despite the occasional moral ambivalence, he is usually the more good-natured in his feud with Tom as well, and the most likely to at least attempt a truce or relent when their war goes a step too far (he once saved Tom after he almost drowned trying to chase after him for example).
  • Surprisingly subverted (considering it's a '30s cartoon) in the Fleischer short Fresh Vegetable Mystery where the mice are the bad guys.
  • Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse: Both are nice. Hands down. Subverted with Mickey's unscrupulous rival Mortimer Mouse, though.
  • Hanna-Barbera: In Pixie, Dixie and Mr. Jinks, Dixie and Pixie were usually only acting in defense from Mr. Jinks, and only did the stealing of the cheese to survive.
    • Sometimes it would switch around where Jinks was the hero of the episode and Pixie and Dixie would get their comeuppance in the end.
    • The Cattanooga Cats: Motormouse was usually Autocat's antagonist as it was Autocat's job to get rid of him from the Spin Your Wheels Garage. Once in awhile, though, Motormouse would help out Autocat and on occasion give him a lift home from work.
  • Looney Tunes: Speedy Gonzales is a mouse who pretty much only steals cheese to help his compadres. Sniffles is well-meaning, if annoying.
    • Averted in the early Looney Tunes cartoon, "The Night Watchman." Not only are the mice shady antagonists, the kitten is a protagonist.
    • Also averted in Scaredy Cat and Claws for Alarm, when the mice (seen in the first and implied in the second) overtly try to kill Porky with poor Sylvester the only one aware of the danger.
    • Sylvester is also victim to a Screwy Squirrel rodent trying to starve him to death in "Canned Feud".
    • Chuck Jones' Hubie and Bertie were subversions, as they tended to mind-screw the hapless Claude. Two examples; in "The Aristo-Cat", they convinced Claude that he was they mouse and Hubie and Bertie were cats, and in "Roughly Squeaking" they convinced Claude that he was a lion, and the bulldog in the yard was either a moose, a gazelle or a pelican.
    • Also subverted in Bob Clampett's "We the Animals Squeak", in which a band of mobster mice kidnap the son of champion mouser Kansas City Kitty, in an effort to blackmail her into letting the mice run rampant.
  • The mice from Capitol Critters were nice.
  • Hannah from the animated series adaptation of Watership Down.
  • Biker Mice from Mars is about Badass Biker alien mice who protect Earth from evil.
  • Garfield once railed against this trope, noting that mice were disease-spreading vermin.

    Real Life 
  • As mentioned under You Dirty Rat!, the common stereotypes are inverted with pet rodents. While rats can be well-trained, friendly, loving, and compassionate, even trained mice will sometimes bite their owner for no obvious reason. Mice also tend to escape if given half the chance, unlike the more loyal domestic rats, which usually return to their cage after exploring a bit. Mice often have less desire to keep themselves clean than rats do. Finally, male mice housed together usually end up killing one another, unlike male rats which can co-habit peacefully.
  • Also inverted with wild mice, which love the taste of blood and if they can get to an incapacitated living creature (like, say, a sleeping human) have even been known to drink their body weight in blood if they can get away with it.

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