We're always here to mess up any day.
When we're around, every camper gets thinner.
'Cause if we get the chance,
we will taaaaake, your food away.
Ants are able to carry several times their own body weight. In fiction, especially in cartoons, this is exaggerated for fun, making them able to carry a whole pie/banana/chicken/watermelon/whatever. Often, they'll steal some picknickers' food.
This sometimes applies to giant ants, in blatant defiance of the Square-Cube Law that itself is responsible for the fact that normal-sized ants have such good lifting abilities. Essentially, Hollywood Logic goes, "If normal ants can carry big loads despite their small size, huge ants can carry enormous loads!", whereas Real Life Logic goes, "Ants can carry relatively big loads because of their small size."
- There's a Hard Yakka ad that features ants chanting the name as they carry away large food items.
- In a Toyota commercial, a procession of ants carrying food items come to a highway. The sergeant-type leader spots an approaching car, but determines that it's "only" a Corolla (commonly considered to be Boring, but Practical) and that they should just keep on marching. Little did they realize that the Corolla now had an upgraded engine!
- McDonald's has a super-strong ant as part of its "Funky Farm" character lineup.
- The Chimera Ants from Hunter × Hunter. The Chimera Ant Queen eats other animals and crosses their DNA to born Mix And Match Critters. The Chimera Ants introduced in the series are human sized and the queen ate humans as well, so most Chimera Ants who appear in the story are humanoid animals who don't look like ants at all. Not only they have the traits of (strong) animals, they also gained the ability to control Nen, thanks to the human DNA, that makes them the most dangerous beings in the world. The queen's son, the Chimera Ant King, is the most powerful being ever until he's killed by a cruel, toxic, atom bomb-like bomb, The Poor Man's Rose: Miniature Rose.
- Arachnid has a few ant-themed characters as dangerous antagonists.
- Sara Kurokawa represents Army Ant queens. She is harmless on her own, but turns the entire student body of her school into mindless zombies for her to command. Her minions form barriers and chains to fight, and spread their condition by raping people.
- Dinoponera, named after the largest ant species, is a cute Genki Girl who wants friends. She's also a psychotic Lightning Bruiser of a Child Soldier who sees no value in anyone she deems weak and really enjoys torturing people with her poisonous stings and armored fists.
- Paraponera, named after the ants with stings that deal massive 24 hour-long pain, was a infamous mercenary who only lived for the sake of killing people in times of war. His upbringing of war orphan Dinoponera turned out oddly well, all things considered.
- One The Far Side comic had an army of ants carry off a baby. Then get berated by their leader for bringing back something that won't fit down the anthill. Originally it was supposed to be an adult man, but his editor didn't allow it.
- Garfield was about to take a nap when some ants appeared and he feared they'd carry him away. One of the ants said they'd need heavy machinery.
- The heroic black ants in Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants spend the first half of the movie carrying a large box of sugar cubes to their anthill. Once the box is rendered unusable after crashing into some rocks, one of them carries a comically disproportionate amount of cubes (six, while the others have one each).
- Happens in a horrifying manner in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, where a horde of carnivorous ants carries an unfortunate Soviet soldier into their nest. While colonies of ants are known to carry large prey back home, an entire human being getting dragged head-first into an ant nest is a bit much.
- Mark Twain once wrote in a story that although ants are very strong, they're also very stupid.
- The Animorphs once turn into ants to steal a tiny component of Yeerk tech for Ax. It is unpleasant.
- The series also acknowledges the Square-Cube Law when three of the gang are shrunk to ant-size by the minuscule alien race of Helmacrons. They find that they can now lift relatively huge objects (Tobias, now a hawk their size, believes he might be able to carry one of them).
- Mentioned during one clip on World's Dumbest... — when a man in a nightclub lifts a much larger woman, Brad wonders out loud if the man's partially a carpenter ant.
- On My Name Is Earl, Randy muses about ants being able to lift things, and how they must be so ripped and get laid a lot. This inspires Earl, who is temporarily broke after being let out of prison and married to Billie, and needs to get Joy's trailer up after he tipped it over on a bender. He enlists the help of other people in Camden, who would never have done anything like that for him before he did The List.
- Fifth-gen Pokémon include Durant, which is quite powerful, quite durable, and also a Steel-type, so pretty much the only thing that works against it at all is fire. Naturally, there's a fire-spewing anteater Pokémon in the same dungeon (Heatmor, for those keeping track) which, according to the Pokédex, does indeed feed on Durant.
- Gravity Antonion from Mega Man X8. Besides being a Gravity Master, he can also create large metal boxes that are about 4-5 times his size, pick them up from below, and throw them at the player!
- In the game Anthill you can have your ants bring gems back to the anthill, something that's probably too heavy for real ants to pick up.
- Normally in many early cartoons ants are portrayed as a single-file line that has a "Determinator" quality. They have two versions, the first being that they don't stop for anything and pick up anything that happens to be in their way. The second being food hunters that won't stop until their desired target is obtained. They both are usually unstoppable, are a plot driving force, and defy physics by marching up perfectly flat surfaces or carrying objects MORE than 10 times their size. Occasionally a colony may also be portrayed as an army, with a commander and everything.
- Some Donald Duck cartoons have this trope, including one in which a whole colony of ants comes and picks up a sleeping Donald and carries him away.
- Launchpad McQuack of DuckTales (1987) and Darkwing Duck fame isn't impressed by this: "Who cares? Anybody could lift 10 times an ant's weight."
- The Ant and the Aardvark, by the makers of The Pink Panther cartoon series.
- Taken to extremes with The Atom Ant Show.
- Sesame Street:
- An animated insert had a woman laying out a picnic of "p" foods (pumpkin, pot roast, etc.). Unknown to her, ants carried the foods away as she took them out of the basket. At the end, a group of ants carry the woman away.
- In another Sesame Street sketch, the Count counted the ants that invaded his picnic and took his food away.
- Ant of WordWorld is very strong.
- Discussed in The Venture Bros. by Dr. Entmann.
Dr. Entmann: And let me tell you somethin' about ants! You know that whole "Ants can lift a hundred times their own weight" thing? It's a myth! Think about it. What's an ant weigh? Like, nothin'. What's nothin' times a hundred? ...It's nothin'!
- On The Flintstones episode "The Snorkasaurus Hunter", Wilma and Betty had a picnic which was invaded by ants. The ants march to the tune of the Colonel Bogey March as they abscond with all the food except for one olive.
- In the Looney Tunes short Ballot Box Bunny, Bugs tries to woo voters by hosting a picnic. His opponent, Yosemite Sam, releases a package of "Assorted Picnic Ants" to spoil it.
- More relevant to this trope, the foods are carried off by groups of ants— except for a watermelon being held by a single determined ant.
- Friz Freleng liked this trope: it shows up not only in Ballot Box Bunny but also 1947's The Gay Anties.
- Three Tom and Jerry shorts (Cat Napping, Pup on a Picnic and Barbecue Brawl) have ants who are not only strong but whose synchronized marching can set up destructive vibrations.
- Referenced in Antz, where the protagonist Z mentions he's one of the weakest ants, as he's barely able to lift 10 times his weight.