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Prickly Porcupine

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As you walk along the street
A porcupine you meet
How do you shake his hand when he says hi?
Carefully ... carefully .... careful L-Y
Tom Lehrer, "L-Y"
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Porcupine characters show up in nearly every form of media. It seems that porcupines tend to fall under two distinct personality types: They're either A) the Grumpy Bear, Jerkass, or Ax-Crazy Sadists, malevolent and bloodthirsty monsters who enjoy their malices, or B) The Woobie, shy and lonely because no one wants to go near them.

Many works of media (particularly in Video Games where porcupines are often portrayed as villainous henchmen) portray porcupines as being able to shoot their quills as projectiles, even though this isn't true in Real Life (North American porcupines swing their tails at predators to dislodge the quills in their faces, while Old World porcupines tend to charge backwards at their enemies instead). Those on the receiving end of one tend to become a Human Pincushion (or Animal Pincushion) or in worst cases Cruel and Unusual Death. If the result is Pain to the Ass, it may lead into a Pain-Powered Leap.

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If the porcupines are villains, expect them to have Spikes of Villainy. While a single porcupine can be considered threatening at worst, a bunch of these can form Spikes of Doom. In extreme cases, the porcupines may be portrayed as meat-eating predators who feeds on nothing but flesh (despite the fact many porcupines are herbivores; though the Indian crested porcupines do scavenge on occasions). If the porcupine in question is a giant porcupine, prepare to be afraid.

Also includes hedgehogs, though hedgehogs are more likely to be portrayed in a positive light than porcupines who are more likely to be outright malevolent and evil.

NOTE: This is NOT a list of all porcupines or similarly-spiny mammals in media. This is a list of such mammals being stereotypes related to their spines, as having "prickly", grumpy or outright malevolent personalities.

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Subtrope of Animal Stereotypes. Compare Painful Pointy Pufferfish and Sea Hurtchin for stereotypical depictions of another spiny animal.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Although no actual hedgehogs appear, Neon Genesis Evangelion has an episode titled "The Hedgehog's Dilemma", based on a fable about a group of hedgehogs who want to cuddle together for warmth, but are afraid of doing so because of their quills. Metaphorically, the "hedgehog" in question is protagonist Shinji Ikari, who is unconfident and afraid to socialize.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side: Among others, one strip has a group of porcupines all staring at their bald friend, who is saying "Yeah, I had them all removed, and it's great!"
  • Porky Pine from Pogo is the grumpy variety.

    Fan Works 
  • A Diplomatic Visit: In chapter 20, the wolf Far-Tracker tells the story of how he ran afoul of one of these while hunting, and how he's pretty sure it was cursing him out afterward.
  • In the Emergency! fic "Punctuated", John Gage is nailed by a female porcupine being vied for by two suitors while pulling a hurt child from a storm drain. The author is good with accuracy: It's mentioned they can't shoot quills, John (as well as Morton, poked when removing the quills and Chet, poked trying to look at a quill) needs lots of antibiotics to kill the germs on the quills, and John's breathing moves quills toward his lung, nearly puncturing one.

    Films — Animation 
  • The midquel of Bambi II. Bambi gets pricked in the rear by a grumpy old porcupine (not too dissimilar to Ereth from the Tales from Dimwood Forest series listed below) when he and his friends walk on top of the log he was sleeping in. He also appears later at the climax, where Bambi uses his wits to catapult him towards one of the hunting dogs pursuing him, injuring and scaring it away.
  • In Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie, the van in which Bob the Tomato and others were riding gets its tires punctured by the quills shot at them by an angry mother porcupine that was crossing the road with her babies.
  • Over the Hedge featured Lou and Penny, a porcupine couple with three children named Bucky, Quillo and Spike.
  • Ash in Sing is sarcastic and abrasive for much of the film. And her boyfriend is a "total super-jerk dinkleschplatt!" On the other hand, they're also said to be teenagers.
  • Mr. Pricklepants from Toy Story 3, who is a stiff-lipped stuffed hedgehog toy who constantly quotes Shakespeare. He also seems to employ Method Acting when it comes to his role as the toy of an imaginative little girl (when she takes a break to use the bathroom he refuses to "break character" and come alive like the others).
  • An African crested porcupine appears as a background character in Zootopia, but no mention is made of her quills. In a tie-in comic, however, a bunch of porcupines try to crash a parade, with one of them shooting a hole in a parade balloon with one of her quills (by plucking it from her back and throwing it like a dart).

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • In the Discworld books, a Bawdy Song much beloved by Nanny Ogg is the Hedgehog Song. Or, by its non-euphemistic title, The Hedgehog Can Never Be Buggered At All.
  • A Porcupine Named Fluffy It's about a porcupine named Fluffy who befriends a rhinoceros named Hippo.
  • Redwall:
    • Subverted for the most part by hedgehogs, who are universally friendly and down-to-earth (even the more violent ones are Boisterous Bruiser than Axe-Crazy). Their spikes cause Intertial Impalement for quite a few villains, including the Rasputinian Death of Baliss the Slayer who had several quills break off in his face, leaving festering wounds.
    • Played straight by Blodd Apis, a legitimately terrifying (and insane) hedgehog who kept several beehives, made very strong mead and used ant pheromones to sic her bees on anyone she deemed an intruder. She ended up Hoist by Her Own Petard when one of the Redwallers held his drink better than the others and stumbled into her, splashing her with the ant pheromones.
    • Another lunatic was Triggut Frapp, who kidnapped several Redwallers to make them build him a house by threatening to throw the youngest to the pikes. He ended up tied to a tree and left to his fate.
  • In The Second Jungle Book, Ikki the porcupine has a brief cameo where he's a Deadpan Snarker - i.e., prickly. Pamela Jekel takes this a bit farther in her posthumous sequel The Third Jungle Book, where there's a story about Mowgli and Ikki playing pranks on each other, until Mowgli gets into real trouble and Ikki is the only one who can fetch help.
  • One of the characters from Tales from Dimwood Forest was a cantankerous, old porcupine named Ereth (short for Erethizon Dorsatum, which is also the scientific name for his species, the North American Porcupine) who proved a valuable ally throughout the series. In Poppy, the titular little mouse even uses one of his discarded quills to gain an edge against an owl who had earlier threatened her life and was the killer of her fiancé, Ragweed. Ereth even gets a book dedicated to him in "Ereth's Birthday", where he's forced to care for a litter of fox kits against a vicious fisher that wants to hunt him (also Truth in Television as fishers are one of the few animals capable of hunting porcupines successfully by flipping them over their backs to avoid their quills.) From then on, he continues making major appearances in Poppy's Return and Poppy and Ereth.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In many Tokusatsu works such as Kamen Rider and Super Sentai, porcupines are often used as Monsters of the Week. They mostly fit the Jerkass or Ax-Crazy varieties rather than Grumpy Bear varieties, given their Card-Carrying Villain nature.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus - in a documentary on organized crime, a companion of gang boss Dinsdale Piranha confides that he was convinced he was being watched by an enormous hedgehog he called 'Spiny Norman', who could be anywhere from 12 feet to 800 yards long, depending on Dinsdale's mental state. Over the end credits we see Norman, animated by Terry Gilliam, looming over London rooftops, balefully calling "Dinsdale!"

    Music 
  • The Hedgehog Song.

    Radio 

    Video Games 
  • The PC Beat 'em Up game, Chipmonk has porcupines as Giant Mook-variety enemies which assault your chipmunk heroes.
  • Donkey Kong Country 2 features Spinies, enemy porcupines. 3 has the hedgehogs Bristles.
  • The The Jungle Book Licensed Game has porcupine enemies who attack Mowgli by shooting their quills at him in certain levels.
  • Needle Man's stage in Mega Man 3 has Hari Harries, robotic porcupines that shoot their spines at you. They can also curl up into Spike Balls of Doom and use a Rolling Attack against you, during which they are Immune to Bullets.
  • Monster Hunter: World has Nergigante, an extremely aggressive Elder Dragon which preys on any other monster and especially Elder Dragons, though its Ruiner variant is more of a Grumpy Bear when it comes to hunters. Its body grows thick defensive "thorns" when injured which can also be shot out during attacks for extra damage. When the thorns are fully grown across its body it very much resembles a porcupine.
  • Land forme Shaymin from Pokémon is an Olympus Mons example, but more of a Shrinking Violet than a Jerkass God. Cyndaquil also has some hedgehog/echidna traits, as does Chespin.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog averts this trope as he is outgoing, happy, and friendly, with tons of friends and allies. Knuckles and Shadow are more of Anti-Hero examples, being spiny mammals with grumpy personalities. Sonic's Evil Knockoff, Metal Sonic, is the straightest example being a Killer Robot hedgehog villain (a rare case of a villainous hedgehog).
  • Porcupo from Super Mario Bros. 2. It acts as The Spiny of the game, preventing them from being jumped on picked up. Thankfully, they move slowly and aren't aggressive.
  • In Urban Rivals, one of the factions is made of zoo animals turned antropomorphic by a freak accident. One of them is a porcupine who uses his quills as blowgun darts and picks himself bald over the course of levelling up.
  • The Corehogs in The World Ends with You.

    Web Animation 
  • Flaky in Happy Tree Friends is Type B as she is very shy, but she isn't shunned for her quills which normally don't get in the way unless death is involved.

    Web Comics 
  • Zelda in Nip and Tuck, who finds it highly inconvenient.
  • Downplayed with Ida from Furry Fight Chronicles at her debut. She's a hedgehog who acts cold to Cookie at worst and teasing at best since the squirrel destroyed her dream of becoming a Combagal because her quills would make it impossible to wrestle without hurting her opponent. However, Ida is a sweetheart to Muko and Kalita, has a passion for fashion, and still respects Cookie as a manager despite their disagreements.

    Web Original 
  • One Darwin Awards urban legend mentions a man admitted to the hospital with a bunch of porcupine quills stuck in his crotch...
  • TierZoo had an episode on Rodents and considered the Porcupine to be an S-ranked animal, thanks to its quills ability causing Damage Over Time and giving an advantage against even the most powerful predators.

    Western Animation 
  • Taken to the extreme in Avatar: The Last Airbender with a porcupine mixed with a wild boar, one of the many Mix-and-Match Critters in the series.
  • Ben 10: Alien Force has two examples in the form of Kevin's backstabbing little friend Argit, and one of the Plumber's Kids- Helen's brother Pierce.
  • In one episode of the 1985 cartoon adaptation of The Berenstain Bears, the Bear enlist help from some porcupines to thwart a raid by Weasel McGreed and his gang. In another episode, Sister claims that porcupines shoot their quills at their enemies, only for Teacher Jane to explain to her that porcupines don't really do such a thing.
  • One of Stitch's cousins from Lilo & Stitch: The Series was Spike (Experiment 319), a blue porcupine-like experiment who could fire his spines like darts. Anyone hit by them had their intelligence reduced, becoming goofy and silly for up to 48 hours.
  • In The Lion Guard, Mama Binturong's henchmen are evil, villainous porcupines.
  • In the Little Bear episode "How to Love a Porcupine," Little Bear and Duck meet a female porcupine who seems abrasive at first, but soon reveals herself to be sad inside because no one loves her. Little Bear and Duck try to be her friends, but all the games she wants to play require them to touch her quills. In the end, though, she meets another porcupine for the first time and they become fast friends.
  • Spiney, a member of the Philosophical Society on Mike, Lu & Og.
  • The aptly named Porcupine from My Friends Tigger and Pooh.
  • One of the animals Gus the raincloud made in Partly Cloudy is a porcupine. The porcupine isn't inherently dangerous, except to the Peck, who's supposed to deliver it and the stork has to handle the bundle really carefully.

 
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Alternative Title(s): Prickly Hedgehog

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When your PMS turns you all, ahem, angry and PRICKLY.

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