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.
- Doctor Slump:
- In an early chapter, someone points out that Arale has no nostrils, and Senbei protests "Neither do I! This is a manga, for crying out loud!"
- In a different chapter, as one female character disguises herself as another, the narrative captions lament that the plan is foolproof because Akira Toriyama can only draw one female face.
- 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).
- In Pani Poni Dash!, there are several gags about how Mesousa has trouble doing things because he has no fingers.
- In the Pokémon episode "Pokemon Scent-sation!", 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.
- Reborn! (2004)'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.
- After causing a Cosmetic Catastrophe to herself with some lipstick, Squid Girl's title character mentions having a hard time telling where lips start or end — a good question considering the show's art style doesn't normally draw lips.
- The characters in Happy Heroes have noticeably simplified mouth movements, a stylistic trait that's lampshaded in Season 8 episode 9 when Little M. attempts to lip-read what Happy S. and Smart S. are saying and comes to the incorrect conclusion that they're referring to their non-biological father Doctor H. since they seem to be saying "papa" over and over. Big M. berates him over this, telling him that "Every cartoon character moves his mouth like that!"
- 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 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:
- Hobbes asks Calvin why he doesn't wear shorts in hot weather. Because Calvin is drawn with such short legs, he angrily answers, "Short pants touch my feet, okay?!"
- In an in-universe example, Calvin turns into one of his own drawings and wonders out loud whether he has feet or wheels.
- 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 one 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Order of the Stick:
- The comic occasionally makes reference to the characters not having noses, including one police sketch artist being fired for including noses in a more realistic picture of two characters.
- Also, in this comic Elan mentioned the art upgrade, while Haley tells him "We're supposed to pretend we were always drawn this way."
- Also, drawing X eyes with eyeliner to feign death.
- Another strip has a Shadow Dancer need to have it explained to him that stick figure comics have no shadows.
- Subverted a few pages later when an explosion casts dramatic lighting on the scene... "Look! Shadows!"
- Roy once mentioned that he always forgets whether the "big boot" (i.e. the one closest to the audience's P.O.V.) goes on the left or the right.
- Similarly, Celia once mentioned that she can't draw people well because she always draws their eyes the same size (the one closest to the audience appears bigger).
- It has been mentioned that Haley always has a stray hair on the side of her face facing the audience.
- Haley also once mentioned that after paying her father's ransom she planned to give herself a "three-finger discount".
- In the attack on Azure City, Redcloak creates Xykon decoys to confuse the defenders. When the Monster in the Darkness asks how he got them to look exactly like Xykon, he bluntly says he didn't. "They're human skeletons. I put a blue robe on them and called it a night." The only one that's at all visually distinct from the real Xykon is the Eye of Fear and Flame, which has a constant wide-eyed fear expression.
- It's Walky!:
- In Schlock Mercenary, one character asked the doctor if her breasts were real, to which she replied that they were just the product of the cartoonist's puerile imagination.
Narrator: She's not really a 38-Triple-D. She's just drawn that way.
- An xkcd strip featuring one of the stick figures talking to A. Square from Flatland has the Alt Text refer to "the time I entered your world and everyone freaked about the lesbian orgy overseen by a priest" (in Flatland, women are lines and priests are circles).
- Characters' standing pose in MS Paint Adventures have no visible arms. Commanding them to 'retrieve arms' from the environment is a Running Gag.
- In Awkward Zombie, Roy tries to help Captain Falcon remember who he is after being gone so long.
- Housepets!: King once used this to prove that Marion the squirrel is a Baleful Polymorph:
King: Marion, can you hold up five fingers for me?
[Marion holds up one, four-fingered, hand before stopping and staring at it]
- This Cyanide & Happiness strip mocks itself for being hand-drawn.
- A Patreon bonus comic for Dumbing of Age has Joyce showing off her freshly painted nails. Given that characters aren't drawn with fingernails, the audience is forced to take her word for it.
Sarah: They're a nice color.Joyce: Thank you!
- 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:
- When Homer's father dates Marge's mother, he thinks them marrying would make him and Marge brother and sister and their children would be "horrible freaks, with pink skin, no overbites, and five fingers on each hand". This scenario is even illustrated (as a part of Homer's imagination), to Homer's horror.
- Another episode has Lisa show Bart a magazine that hypothesizes that humans will eventually evolve a fifth finger. Bart reacts to this idea with disgust.
- Lenny: "Hey? Why is it called a 'high five' when we only have four fingers?"
- Sideshow Bob is shown in prison with the words "LUV" and "HĀT" tattooed on his knuckles, the diacritical mark on the Ā (a macron) making the latter an ingenious homophone of "hate".
- God always has 5 fingers when appearing on the show.
- Homer once used Bart and Lisa's hair to scratch himself.
- In one episode Bart, Lisa and Maggie notice that they can't tell where their hairline is. They take it badly.
- The subplot of "In Marge We Trust" is Homer trying to find out why there's a Japanese dish-washing detergent mascot named "Mr. Sparkle" that looks identical to him. The company sends him a video explaining Mr. Sparkle's look comes from putting a cartoon fish face on a light bulb◊ because they're a joint venture of two companies that deal with those products.
Bart: There's your answer, fishbulb.
- In an early season, when questioned why he was taking so long in the shower (it was to freshen up for a date), Bart replied with "Look, sometimes a guy's skin has got to look its yellowest."
- In the Family Guy crossover, Peter remarked that everyone in Springfield looked like they had hepatitis.
- 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:
- The 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.
- 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.
Kyle: Stan's got blue eyes and I've got a sharper nose, but I mean, they kinda look like us.
- 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.
- "The Coon" introduces a superhero named Mysterion, and Cartman spends the whole episode trying to figure out which of the other kids it could be. At the end, Mysterion publicly unmasks, but only reveals his face. Everyone gasps and marvels at the fact that that character was Mysterion the whole time, while the viewers, of course, can't tell who it is.
- 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).
- "A Very Crappy Christmas" has Butters make little paper cutout versions of the other characters. Of course, they look exactly like them in miniature.
- 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:
Zorak: 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.
- 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."
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Master Shake has yellow hands even though the rest of his body isn't yellow. In the Grand Finale, Meatwad informs Carl that Shake is dead, having died via a Heroic Sacrifice. When Carl asks for proof, Meatwad holds up a dishwashing glove, revealing that Shake was wearing yellow dishwashing gloves the whole time.
Meatwad: I guess we'll never know why he wore these. Some people never do the damn dishes.
- Family Guy:
- There have been a few jokes about Peter's chin looking like a pair of testicles, including one incident where the FCC considered censoring them.
- In "Running Mates", Peter mocks Lois by holding half a sandwich to his face in reference to her large nose.
- In "The Juice is Loose", O.J. Simpson holds Stewie by his football-shaped head and tosses him to Chris.
- In the Star Wars-themed movies, Chris-as-Luke is hanging upside down in the ice cave and unable to reach his lightsaber while complaining "damn these short stubby arms!"
- House of Mouse: In "Clarabelle's Big Secret", Mickey reveals that he starches his ears to make sure they always stay round no matter which way his head turns.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic pokes fun at how most characters strut around mostly naked with nothing to see on several occasions. Once, Rarity won't let Spike into the dressing room with the women because "it's inappropriate," but concedes the point when Applejack points out that they don't normally wear clothes anyways. Another time, Rainbow Dash pulls the covers off of a sleeping Fluttershy who inexplicably covers her bare chest. It happens a third time when Rarity gets her clothes pulled off by a vacuum cleaner and embarrassedly covers both her chest and crotch.