Otters are rather funny-looking animals, what with their long, slender bodies, cute faces, and the way they crack clamshells on their bellies. But what makes them even more adorable, is their playful demeanor. Otters often wrestle, slide and play with their food — actually, they mostly use those fun activities as a way to improve their survival tactics. But still, it's a fun way to do it!
When used in fiction, otter characters are usually Fun Personified. They are usually depicted as playful, energetic, kind-hearted, optimistic and laid-back, sometimes even mischievous. Otters spend a lot of time in water, so expect them to be good swimmers, who love to have fun in water. Sometimes this overlaps with Surfer Dude (but otters are usually much more clever, rarely The Ditz).
To recap, if an otter is portrayed in fiction with a joyous, playful or mischievous personality, it's this trope.
Examples of this trope:
- Episode 2 of the Kemono Friends anime gives us Small-clawed Otter, who employs this trope in full. She's an otter, she plays with everything she can get her hands on, tries to find the fun in everything they're doing, among other things that make her a full-blown otter.
- The 1969 film Ring of Bright Water features an executive (Bill Travers, of Born Free fame) whose life is transformed when he acquires a pet otter, Mij. This otter is rather mischievous and adventurous, which leads to many adventures.
- Finding Dory features a gang of otters at the Marine Life Institute and a pair which gets involved in Dory's plan to save her friends.
- When Mercer Mayer created the Little Critter Spin-Off LC and the Critter Kids, one of the critter kids was a Surfer Dude otter named Slick Rick (no, not that Rick).
- Every book in the Redwall series features several otters. Usually led by one named Skipper, they tend to dress and talk like local Seafaring People, and have a penchant for using ambushes and javelins. The Redwall wiki describes them as playful. The most playful one would probably be Cheek from Mattimeo.
- The Wind in the Willows: Otter is probably the Trope Codifier, always willing to lend a hand and always friendly except if you screw over his friends as a rabbit found out when he was braving the wildwood, the only other character to brave the wildwood is Badger.
- In the Winnie-the-Pooh book Return to the Hundred Acre Wood, the only new character is an otter named Lottie, who was described in a preview article as "feisty".
- The Treasure Tree is the name of a book showing the four personality distinctions of (roughly) Leader, Scientist, People Person, and Fun Guy. These are shown with the animals of, respectively, Lion, Beaver, Golden Retriever, and Otter.
- Ring of Bright Water again; the original autobiographical book by Gavin Maxwell, who also wrote a children's version called The Otter's Story. Incidentally, Mijbil turned out to be a previously unknown subspecies, now known as Maxwell's Smooth-Coated Otter, or Lutrogale perspicillata maxwelli.
- Mudge, the Loveable Rogue in the Spellsinger novels, and (in later books) his family. In one book it's mentioned that one otter can focus on something serious for a while, but two or more otters is a permanent party.
- In Hector Hugh Munroe (aka "Saki")'s short story, "Laura," the merry-hell-raising heroine is reincarnated as an otter, and continues to raise merry hell.
- The Mad House of Otter in The Book of the Dun Cow are careless, sloppy enemies of the fierce but courageous weasels.
- Otter of the Franklin books and Animated Adaptation is shown as being this.
- In the Norwegian children's book series Samson & Roberto, in which the cast is comprised of Funny Animals, one of the main characters is a female otter named Olli, who works as the resident repairwoman — at least when she's not fooling around and acting hyper and silly just for the hell of it. She is a supreme repairwoman, though.
- The absolutely adorable (and mischievous) fenlings of The Belgariad.
- In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Hermione learns her patronus takes this form when she manages to produce a corporeal one and it happily bounds around the room.
- The protagonists of Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas are of course, otters. Who are playful and kind-hearted folks, and sings really well to boot. The Jim Henson puppet adaptation is a Christmas special with a huge following.
- Pip and Pop, the rather playful otter duo from Bear in the Big Blue House.
- The uncut version of the MythBusters episode "Ping Pong Ball Flotation" featured a scene where the progression of the attempt to raise the sunken boat was slowed further when a nearby otter swam up into the boat and stole one of the ping pong balls.
- Linda Smith's A Brief History of Timewasting has urban otters colonizing London. Their natural cheekiness has developed into criminal behavior such as pickpocketing and blagging money by claiming to be a neighbor who was locked out of the house.
- Jak and Daxter has Daxter who was turned into an Ottsel (half otter, half weasel). He's a funny bumbling sidekick and a major Butt-Monkey whenever he gets a bit annoying.
- Oshawott, the water starter in Pokémon Black and White and the sequels. Although it does fight if attacked, it still has a playful side as well. Its evolutions, Dewott and Saumurott, avert it, because they're tougher and stronger and not playful.
- From the fourth generation, Buizel and Floatzel are also based on otters.
- Digital Media had a line of games starring an excitable young cartoon sea otter named Ozzie and a gang of other international critters. Their games were mainly used to teach children about foreign culture (the Ozzie's Travels line, but there were other games in the field as well, including a science one and an environment one.
- In Spyro: A Hero's Tail Spyro meets an otter Surfer Dude who needs his help to refill a drained pond with water so he can surf again.
- Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance has the Juggle Pup and R&R Seal Dream Eaters, who are a otter-seal mixture with gambling as their theme. They're always happy chaps who treat the battlefield as a game, and their Limit Break has them and Sora play a game of dice.
- Sylas in Armello is an inversion of the archetype. In a game that is already easy to describe as "Game of Thrones but with cartoon animals instead", Sylas the otter has by far the darkest backstory, which has left him as a hollow, hateful husk motivated solely by a desire to murder the one responsible for his cruel fate.
- Animalympics features among its athletes a Surfer Dude otter named Dean Wilson. Fer shyuuuure!
- The animated series version of Little Bear has a group of playful otters that shows up occasionally.
- Marlene from The Penguins of Madagascar, the spin-off TV series of the DreamWorks Animation Madagascar is The Chick to the four male penguins.
- In the South Park episode "Go God Go", various future timelines include hyperintelligent otters as one faction.
- The titular characters of PB&J Otter.