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Screwball Squirrel

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Rodents are the most common mammals on Earth, with some notable species having their own Animal Stereotypes. Rats are dirty and disgusting, mice are cute and nice, porcupines are grumpy and prickly, beavers are hard-working, and so forth.
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Squirrels (and their close relatives, chipmunks) are, however, mostly seen as hyperactive animals who either love to play pranks and mess around with people, are just off-the-walls crazy, or—in extreme cases— downright sadists. They will run around stealing nuts from people — and then drop these nuts on people's heads, driving them nuts. They also have the bad habit of crawling into people's clothing, and are among the arch-enemies of dogs, often because the dogs are fed up with their antics. The fact that they have a reputation for breaking into bird feeders and eating the seed inside doesn't help either.

Bonus points if they have very short attention spans, too, even in a Sadistic way. Truly evil squirrels are rare in fiction, but they are consistently depicted as troublemakers whose antics are annoying at best and infuriating at worst. Basically, they're seen as the trolls of the animal kingdom, causing chaos for its own sake and existing only to annoy others.

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It's easy to see why these furry critters have such traits associated with them: squirrels and chipmunks are very jittery, skittish animals in real life, moving about in short, twitching movements and taking off to the nearest tree at the slightest sign of danger. Their signature chattering gives the impression of manic cackling, as if they just pulled another prank on some hapless bloke, and they tend to cache food before completely forgetting about it, which fuels the "short attention span" stereotype.

If the squirrel in question is a giant squirrel, prepare to be very afraid.

Note: Just because a character is a squirrel or chipmunk, it does not mean they automatically qualify for this trope. The example also needs to describe how the character is a troublemaker, a cloudcuckoolander and/or a sadist.

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Subtrope of Animal Stereotypes. Compare Rascally Rabbit, another small, furry animal that's often a trickster and prankster, but tends to be shown in a more positive light. For other animals often seen as tricksters, see Rascally Raccoon and Maniac Monkeys. The Trope Namer is the Tex Avery cartoon Screwball Squirrel. The trope formerly known as "Screwy Squirrel", about crazy, malicious prankster characters that are usually not squirrels, is now split between The Gadfly, Troll, The Prankster and Cloudcuckoolander.


Examples:

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    Advertising 

  • The infamous PSP commercial with the deranged-looking squirrels. There are a few other ones involving different animals, but the squirrels are the one most people remember.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Pokémon: Dawn's Pachirisu, an Electric-type Pokemon based on a squirrel, has a very playful and hyperactive personality, running around with boundless energy. Dawn had a difficult time controlling it at first.

    Comic Strips 
  • Mutts: Bip and Bop are a duo of mischief-making squirrels who enjoy bonking people in the head with acorns.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • Borgel: Inverted in one of Uncle Borgel's fables, "The Tale of the Moose and Squirrel". The fable features mischievous animals, but the story pulls a Stereotype Flip between this trope and Moose Are Idiots, thus the moose is The Trickster who tries to steal the squirrel's acorns, while the squirrel is a simple-minded Straight Man who doesn't want any trouble.

    Live-Action TV 

    Music 
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: The chipmunks often act like mischievous children, getting on the nerves of their manager / surrogate father Dave Seville. Alvin is their trouble-making leader, whereas the nerdy Simon and naïve Theodore usually only make trouble by following Alvin. In their original music act, they mess up the recording at the end by demanding to do the song again and quarreling with Dave and making a mess. The characterization is carried over to the various animated and live-action adaptations.

    Myths and Legends 

    Video Games 
  • The Battle Cats has the mooks resembling squirrels. Of course they are Always Chaotic Evil even in the viewpoint of the Cats.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day: Conker himself zigzags this trope. He's alcoholic, greedy and violent, but he's also the Only Sane Man in his own game, which kinda downplays the notion that his troublesome personality comes from the fact that's he's a squirrel (instead of a natural result of dealing with a Crapsack World).
  • Pokémon
    • If Emolga's Pokédex in Pokémon Sun and Moon is to be believed, they tend to cause trouble when fighting with other Flying-type Pokémon for food, making this a flying squirrel version of this trope.
    • Pokémon Sword and Shield: Skwovet and Greedent are a line of greedy squirrels who make trouble by stealing and hoarding food and berries. There's a minor sidequest in the game with a Skwovet making trouble in a hotel.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 

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