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Stylistic Self-Parody

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Cartoon characters, even human ones, aren't always drawn to the exact specifications of real life. This is done to give the characters a unique look, or for the sake of simplicity. A common form of Lampshade Hanging in animated cartoons is characters pointing out such oddities in their own designs, or the designs of other characters. This usually means Breaking the Fourth Wall, though it's possible for an example to merely lean on it.

Fourth-Wall Portrait is a Sub-Trope.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • In an early chapter of Dr. Slump, someone points out that Arale has no nostrils, and Senbei protests "Neither do I! This is a manga, for crying out loud!"
  • A similar gag occurs during the first Tournament Arc in Dragon Ball. Krillin battles an unwashed bruiser named Bacterian, and is nearly overcome by the brute's body odor. Then Goku points out that Krillin doesn't have a nose, and Krillin somehow becomes immune to the smell. This is then later ignored, as Krillin gains nostrils for flinging boogers then sniffing a diamond that came out of Bulma's panties (don't ask).
  • Katekyō Hitman Reborn!'s I-Pin suffers from terrible nearsightedness. When asked why she doesn't wear glasses, she points out that she doesn't have any ears.
    • She does have ears ten years later.
  • In Pani Poni Dash!, there are several gags about how Mesousa has trouble doing things because he has no fingers.
  • In one episode of Pokémon, Team Rocket gets sprayed by the foul-smelling spores produced by a Gloom, and Meowth realizes he shouldn't be affected because "The cartoonists never gave me a nose!" His Team Rocket teammates aren't so lucky.
  • After causing a Cosmetic Catastrophe to herself with some lipstick, Squid Girl mentions having a hard time telling where lips start or end—a good question consider the show's art style doesn't normally draw lips.

    Comic Books 
  • A short gag of The Smurfs has a Smurf sad due to having a big nose. Another Smurf points out that his nose is just like any other Smurf's nose. The sad Smurf only says "precisely", which causes the other Smurf to get sad too.
  • In Monica's Gang, Smudge once "revealed" that he wears a pantyhose colored just like his skin, and that's why he doesn't appear to have any toes.

  • In Fat Albert, Dumb Donald tells another character that he can't take off his hat, which he wears as if it were a ski mask, because the animators never drew his whole face.

    Live-Action TV 

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In one Speed Bump strip (by Dave Coverly), a man in a doctor's office learns why he has vision issues- it's because his eyes are just little spots!
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
  • In one Peanuts strip Lucy asks Charlie Brown if she has beautiful eyes, and he replies "I think you have very nice eyes. They sort of look like two round dots of India ink."
  • In this FoxTrot strip, Peter tells Jason his snowman looks weird because the nose is in the wrong place. Jason moves the carrot so that it is sticking out of the side of the snowman's head, level with his eyes - in keeping with Bill Amend's drawing style for the human cast of the strip.

    Video Games 
  • Video game (actually, a video game Strategy Guide) example: The official Nintendo strategy guide for Super Paper Mario, upon finishing its explanation of Peach's (who, in the game, has no visible nose) abilities, says the following;
    "All in all, Peach is quite a handy girl to have around - despite the fact that she has no nose."
  • A character in Metal Gear Solid 4 has a Mohawk that looks like an exclamation point from behind. When he is first seen from behind, the series trademark ! sound plays.
    • Snake's "MGS1" FaceCamo is a mask that looks like Snake from Metal Gear Solid. By which we mean pixels, low poly count, and all.
    • While it's not art related, characters often comment on the limitations of the game, like Snake mentioning in Metal Gear Solid that he can't walk slowly and Big Boss telling The Boss in Metal Gear Solid 3 that he has no sense of smell.
  • Fantasy World Dizzy has the "KNOCK AND ENTER!" "That's easier said than done when you're wearing boxing gloves" gag. Which, of course means you have to find a door knocker somewhere...
  • Minecraft: Story Mode: The game has several nods to the fact that it's set within the world of Minecraft, from the name of "Boom Town" being written using L33t L1ng0 to the in-universe term for "criminal" being "griefer" to blocks floating in mid-air.
    • When the Sky City is abandoned in Episode 5, Jesse advises the inhabitants to start punching trees as the first thing they should do.
  • In LEGO Dimensions, the black-suited version of Batman from The LEGO Movie alludes to the fact that the characters from that world retain their stop motion style movement from the film while every other character moves their limbs freely thanks to being in 3D.

    Web Animation 
  • Done too many times to count in Homestar Runner. Strong Bad has received countless e-mails asking "How do you type with boxing gloves on?", and there have been a few jokes about how some characters (like Homestar, Marzipan, and the King of Town) have no visible arms, yet are still able to manipulate objects.
    • It doesn't hurt that this is done so perplexingly and Lamp Shaded so often that The Homestar Runner Wiki has a running list of evidence for/against said characters having arms/legs or not that rivals your average JFK conspiracy list.
    • One of the most awesome examples has to be sbemail "the bird," which is about various characters flipping each other off. Zero of the characters involved have visible fingers.
  • DSBT InsaniT: This is what most of the Self Deprecation jokes amount to.


    Western Animation 
  • Many cartoon characters are drawn with only three fingers and a thumb on each hand, both as a timesaving measure and because drawing and animating a five-fingered hand is difficult for many animators. In series where human characters live side-by-side with "toons", the humans are typically drawn with five fingers and the toons with four.
  • The Simpsons:
    Bart: There's your answer, fishbulb.
  • Futurama also referenced Groening's Signature Style with Bender, where his (non-visible) overbite once caught on his neck hole when he was sinking down into his torso.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy:
    • In one episode, Mandy complains about the stench produced by a stink-bomb Billy made, and Billy retorts "How can you tell? You don't even have a nose!" In another episode, a "Nasalmancer" steals Billy's nose; when Billy discovers vicariously that his nose is fairly grotesque in its habits, Mandy pointedly remarks that this is why she does not have one.
    • Not to mention the episode with the talking Taking Tree, where he countered Mandy's insulting observations with "Well, why don't you have a nose?", with her lampshading the scenario with her retort: "Yeah, like I've never heard that one before."
    • And lampshading its Art Evolution, a flashback to the pilot episode is criticized by Grim as, "That didn't even look like us!"
  • The Powerpuff Girls are normally drawn without fingers. In the Freaky Friday episode "Criss Cross Crisis", Buttercup, now in Professor Utonium's body, has difficulty picking up the hotline phone's receiver, apparently thinking it would just stick to her hand as usual, and she exclaims "Professor! Your hand doesn't work!"
    • Cartoon Network used to have a Cartoon Cartoon Fridays block, in which various characters from the shows would introduce the cartoons. In one of these segments, Mojo Jojo starts berating the Powerpuff Girls for not having fingers. "What are they beating me with? Flippers?" In another, Blossom ends her spiel by saying "I'll keep my fingers crossed!... if I had fingers."
    • The comic book story "Amoeba Las Vegas" (issue #23) involves the girls playing rock-paper-scissors with the Amoeba Boys. After revealing their moves, Blossom points out that Bubbles is showing rock, with the response "I am? I am!" (The Amoeba Boys played scissors, by spitting out an actual pair of scissors onto the table.) Whether Bubbles had "rock" or not is up for debate but the Amoeba Boys were stupid enough to buy it.
  • In an episode of Family Guy, Peter removes his own chin and sticks it in his pants after mistaking it for his testicles. In another episode the FCC, who have now begun censoring Real Life, consider censoring Peter's chin because it "kind of looks like balls."
  • SpongeBob SquarePants has a hard time deciding whether or not Patrick has a nose. Or ears, for that matter. Or fingernails. It also becomes a plot point in one episode, where Patrick gets a nose through plastic surgery and after discovering everything stinks he becomes obsessed with cleaning the world.
  • One episode of the Earthworm Jim cartoon series had Jim and Peter Puppy traveling to a planet of reeking beasts. As Jim comments on the creatures' powerful odor, Peter wails, "You think you've got it bad, you don't even have a nose!"
  • Rocko's Modern Life episode where Bev gets a nose in a plastic surgery mishap and realizes her husband, Ed, stinks.
  • South Park does this a few times.
    • When the boys joined a cult that made them shave their heads and wear the same outfit, they couldn't tell each other apart (except for Cartman because of his extra weight). Stan actually switched sides in the middle of an argument because he started to think he was Kyle. Another set of episodes uses this to keep Mysterion's identity secret to the audience even though his full face is revealed.
    • A stranger example happens with Terrence and Phillip. They have a weird art style, but since they're from a Show Within a Show it originally seemed to just be a case of Stylistic Suck. Later, however, the creators decided this actually was because they're Canadian, and afterward other Canadian characters are drawn the same way (and Ike, who was already drawn that way, was revealed to be Canadian-American).
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy frequently pokes fun at its own art direction, with the implication that the characters are not stylized, but really are supposed to look exactly the way they're drawn. A prime example coming from Ed figuring out that Eddy's head in profile is the basis for a treasure map, with the little indented "x" on Eddy's ear marking the spot where the treasure is buried.
  • Zorak once did a rap number on Cartoon Planet hanging a lampshade on the fact that he frequently switches shades of green as a result of his artwork being recycled from the original Space Ghost show:
    "I'm green; I'm olive; I'm chartreuse; I'd like to stay one color, but what's the use?"
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • The show has made more than a few jokes about Candace's absurdly long neck, such as her being the only one that can wear a dress with a very high collar and a "Fantastic Voyage" Plot taking longer to get through that particular area.
    • Then there's Perry grabbing Doofensmirtz's nose to pop the bubble they were trapped in to which Doofenshmirtz asks, "Is my nose really that pointy?"
    • There's also Doofenshmirtz questioning how Major Monogram's sunglasses manage to sit perfectly on one side of his face (the side facing the camera), and yet are perfectly normal when removed.
  • The characters of VeggieTales have no arms or hands, but are still able to function as if they did. Lampshaded at least once: Everyone bursts into applause, and then someone looks around, puzzled "How are we clapping?"
  • Littlest Pet Shop (2012) frequently lampshades the characters' abnormally large heads.
  • In one episode of Breadwinners, Buhdeuce denies looking like a frog, referencing viewers' claims that the main characters look more like frogs than ducks.
  • There have been multiple jokes in The Fairly OddParents! that Mr. Crocker's ears are apparently on his neck. In his origin episode they're even depicted moving from his head to his neck as part of his transformation into the hunchbacked nutjob everyone loathes. In one episode where he's briefly cured of his fairy obsession his ear moves back to his head, then to his neck again when Timmy turns him back to normal.
    • Cosmo's hair once got caught in Wanda's hair swirl, to his consternation.
  • Steven Universe:
    • In "Historical Friction," an actor portraying Pearl wore a pointed birthday cone-hat over his face to represent Pearl's oversized triangular nose.
    • When Steven makes himself look older in "Steven's Birthday", Amethyst points out that he finally has a visible neck.
  • Kaeloo:
    • In Episode 55, Stumpy and Quack Quack try to attack Olaf with smelly gas. It doesn't work, since Olaf doesn't have a nose to smell it with.
    • In the episode "Let's Play Guess Who", Quack Quack squashes his head into a bizarre, bean-like shape and makes his eyes bug out from the side of his head while imitating Stumpy.
    • In another episode, when the gang are playing Truth or Dare, Stumpy asks Pretty the rabbit why one of her ears is shorter than the other one as a "truth" question.
    • In Episode 108, Kaeloo informs the others that disturbing news "has reached [her] ears, even though [she doesn't] have ears".
  • In the 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) cartoon, Raphael complains that sitting around "with our thumbs up our noses" isn't getting anything done. Michaelangelo looks at his blocky, enormous thumbs compared with his apparent total lack of nostrils and says, "...I don't think they'd fit."


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