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Sweet Sheep

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"He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart." Isaiah 40:11
Sheep may safely graze and pasture
In a watchful Shepherd's sight.
Those who rule with wisdom guiding
Bring to hearts a peace abiding
Bless a land with joy made bright.
Johann Sebastian Bach, "Sheep may safely graze"
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When sheep appear in fiction, they tend to be very sweet and kind, with wool that makes them look cuddly and big round eyes. However, note that this does not always apply in real life: while real life sheep can be adorable when young, they tend to grow out of it when they get older and have some characteristics that people tend to find freaky, gross or otherwise not cute, such as their eyes (which have rectangular pupils) and dirty wool. And wild sheep, such as mouflon or their American counterparts the bighorn sheep, are...well, wild. They're not docile or compliant like domestic sheep are; those traits are the result of thousands of years' worth of selective breeding. Also, despite the reputation of both domestic and wild sheep as being unintelligent, they actually do have a measure of intelligence: they can remember faces, and figure out how to get past seemingly insurmountable barriers (whether that's the side of a mountain, or a fence.)

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See also Counting Sheep. See Savage Wolves for the Sweet Sheep's worst enemy. Contrast Gruesome Goat for a less pleasant portrayal of caprines.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

     Eastern Animation 
  • South Korean preschool series Katuri, has an episode called "Silly Shy Sheep". The episode involves four young pheasants encountering a flock of sheep. The sheep are scared of them and run away from the chicks. The chicks then encounter a guard dog who tells the flock that they aren't monsters. After winning trust between the sheep and the chicks, the sheep allow the pheasants to touch their wool.

    Card Games 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! most famously has Scapegoat, four fluffy, colorful Sheep Tokens that all look like they're sleeping peacefully. They aren't used for attacking directly, but rather to protect life points or as sacrifices for other monsters. There are plenty of duelists who use them, including Joey/Jonouchi. Later they would add another cute sheep in Fluffal Sheep.
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    Films — Animation 
  • Chirin, the star of the Ringing Bell starts out as a sheep who lives a happy and carefree life in the fields — until the story takes a dark turn.
  • Zootopia has Assistant Mayor Bellwether, who seems like an Adorkable, helpful friend to protagonist Judy Hopps. The keyword here is "seems".
    • Earlier in the film, we see Judy as a child protecting and defending a female lamb named Sharla who is getting bullied by Gideon Grey. Gareth, Sharla's brother, is later seen running up to Judy and Sharla after they witness Judy getting slashed by Gideon. Both Sharla and Gareth play this trope straight, since they are very innocent and very concerned and caring about Judy even after getting hurt.
  • Sheep in other Disney movies like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Hercules and Tangled play this straight even with some moments such as one eating a corner of a page in Belle's book, being tossed by Razoul or being sucked into the Tornado Titan.
  • The sheep in the Wallace & Gromit film A Close Shave and the spinoff Shaun the Sheep.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The sheep in Babe aren't the nicest sheep in fiction. Under Maa's guidance, they befriend Babe and become nicer to him. Some thieves come to try and steal the sheep, and one of the dogs kills Maa. The sheep are sent to another farm after the incident. However, Fly is lucky enough to learn a password that only they know, which they learned from Maa. This helps Babe win a sheepdog trial, where the sheep weren't minding Babe at all.
  • Danny, from Disney's early live action So Dear to My Heart, is a cute black sheep. He needed to be raised by the main character due to being abandoned by his mother. He deserves special mention, as when he turns animated he becomes one of the cutest animated animals in film.
  • In Walt Disney's 1964 film Mary Poppins, a trio of playful and upbeat lambs are seen singing with the other farm animals during the "Jolly Holiday" musical sequence with Mary and Bert.

     Pro Wrestling 

     Theater 
  • The 1959 musical Gypsy has a song called "Little Lamb" which is sung by Louise while holding her pet lamb. In older stage productions the lamb was originally a stuffed animal, but an actual sheep has been used in later years. A real lamb is also seen in the 1962 film and 1993 TV movie.

    Music 
  • In 1971, Paul McCartney and Wings made a song version of "Mary Had A Little Lamb", in a couple of music videos. The group can be seen singing and performing the song on a grassy field, with one of the members herding a flock of sheep. Another version has the group performing inside a farm, where a couple of lambs are seen interacting and playing.
  • The 1982 Christmas Song "Baa Baa Little Lamb" by Betsy Hernandez mainly focuses on The Nativity, since it refers to the birth of Jesus while also referencing Mary's lamb from "Mary Had A Little Lamb". The song is part of a 1982 Christmas album called 25 Songs Of Christmas.
  • The 1978 Christmas song "So My Sheep May Safely Graze" by Rod McKuen note  is about a flock of sheep and their peaceful lifestyle. The song is part of Rod McKuen's Christmas album "The Carols of Christmas".
  • Dutch lullaby and children's song "Slaap kindje, slaap" (Sleep Baby, Sleep) features a sheep (or lamb) drinking sweet milk. Another translation mentions a baby/child drinking the sheep's milk.
    "Slaap kindje slaap,"
    "daar buiten loopt een schaap."
    "Een schaap met witte voetjes, "
    "die drinkt zijn melk zo zoetjes."
    "Slaap kindje slaap,"
    "daar buiten loopt een schaap."

    Literature 
  • The 2017 children's book Go to Sleep by Marion Adams stars a cute female sheep named "Tansy" who has forgotten how to sleep and has to learn how to do it again.
  • Nancy Shaw has written a series of children's books starring a group of playful, curious, and kindhearted sheep. Her best known stories are Sheep Go to Sleep and Sheep Out to Eat.
  • The 1952 picture book Little Lamb's Hat by Mary G. Phillips is about a little lamb named Lambkin, who wishes overnight for her own hat after seeing two girls wearing bonnets. The next morning, she is seen wearing a red basket which she thinks is a hat. Near the end of the story, a little girl decides to give Lambkin a small bonnet that fits her. This book was part of the "Junior Elf Books" series and marketed around Easter.
  • Played with in Dark Lord of Derkholm. Derk's sheep are docile in the hands of his family, but due to a failed breeding experiment the entire flock is carnivorous and make for frightening attack dogs when needed.
  • Songs of Innocence and of Experience by William Blake; one poem in Songs of Innocence is "The Lamb", while "The Tyger" from Songs Of Experience at one point contrasts the fear-inducing tiger to the innocent lamb:
    "Did He smile, His work to see?
    Did He who made the lamb make thee?"
  • The Finnish children's book series Utelias Villami (Curious Woollamy) created by Marjukka Niemi stars a lamb named Villami. Introduced in 2015, Villami starts out as a sheep who wishes to become a wolf so the other sheep will fear and respect her. In 2016, a second book was called Villami löytää värit (Villami Finds Colors) was created, and the third in 2017 called Villami oivaltaa numerot (Villami realizes numbers). Both of the latter books involve her learning from colors and numbers with her parents. The latest book in the series from 2018, called Villami revontulten maassa (Villami in the country of the Northern Lights), has her spending time in Norway for the winter with her grandmother.
  • The 2012 Christian children's book The Best Thing About Christmas features sheep in a story about The Nativity, two sheep are seen putting a blanket on top of Baby Jesus.
  • The century old fable "The Wolf and The Lamb" is focused on a lamb and a wolf. Older versions had a moral about tyranny ("Tyrants need no excuse") with the lamb getting either getting killed or kidnapped. Later variations spare the lamb (making it a female) and have a new moral ("The gentle and weak can sometimes be cleverer than the fierce and strong"). She first encounters the wolf after wandering away from her flock. She tells the wolf "If you allow me to dance, the grass in my stomach will be digested faster", and "If you wait a while, I will taste much better." While dancing, she comes up with a new idea. The lamb tells the wolf that if he takes the bell from around her neck and rings it harder, it will allow her to dance faster. Ringing the bell causes the shepherd to send dogs which scare away the wolf. One version has the lamb asking the wolf to play his flute one last time before the dogs come to rescue her.
  • Subverted in the Orson Welles book Animal Farm where sheep are depicted in a negative and unfriendly manner. Sometimes to very creepy effect as seen in the 1954 animated film. Some of the farm animals (except pigs) don't like them at all.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Subverted on Drake & Josh. When Megan tricks the boys into taking care of a sheep she bought online with the promise of not pranking them for a long time, they first are in love with the sheep for being so cute and gentle. Then it proceeds to wreck their room, get lost in the house, and give birth on Josh's bed, making it much less endearing to them.
  • Sheep show up occasionally in Sesame Street, notably during the Bert and Ernie segments. In "Dance Myself to Sleep", the sheep are tap dancing; another segment has Ernie Counting Sheep complete with hand drawn sheep.
  • The sock puppet and ventriloquist character Lamb Chop, created by Shari Lewis, is a female lamb who's very playful and friendly while sometimes a bit snarky. Lamb Chop first appeared on television in the late 1950s and was featured in live shows performed by Shari and on the Shari Lewis Show. Lamb Chop also gained a new TV series in the early 1990s called Lamb Chop's Play-Along along, with a few direct to videos. During the 90s, Lamb Chop was featured in a lot of merchandise during the show's popularity up until Shari's death. The character is currently performed by Mallory Lewis, who is Shari's daughter.
  • On Good Eats, it's explained that the reason domestic sheep are docile and perceived as less intelligent was because of selective breeding.
  • The mid 1990s series Mother Goose Stories by Jim Henson Productions has two episodes starring innocent and kindhearted sheep. The first appearance of such a sheep is in "Baa Baa Black Sheep" where the titular black sheep learns that one resident needs lots of wool. The sheep decides to eat as much grass as he can in order to grow as much wool as it can to fill up the bag of sheep wool for the resident, much to the surprise of his Shepherd. While in "Mary Had A Little Lamb", Mary's lamb gets very curious about Mary's school due to following her everyday and wishes to be a student. At first, Mary is against this idea since her teacher forbids animals in class. But later, she decides to help the lamb disguise itself as a normal student fully dressed in clothing. The first day of class for the lamb was is actually a very exciting experience, since the lamb is extremely happy about the lessons the teacher's taught. The second day of class for the sheep doesn't turn out as well, due to the lamb laughing and bleating (much to the teacher's surprise) and the teacher finally realizing there has been a lamb attending class the whole time.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Sheep are very prominent in major religions such as Christianity and Catholicism. Sheep are the most mentioned animals in The Bible, such as "Parable of the Lost Lamb" and the "Nativity of Jesus". At churches, they are usually seen on glass windows and statues.
  • In the Books of Samuel, after King David uses his status as king to take advantage of Bathsheba, and then pulls a Uriah Gambit (the Trope Namer, in fact), a prophet by the name of Nathan comes to him, and tells him a story about a poor man who had only one little lamb that he loved dearly, keeping it as a pet (when most people would keep sheep as livestock, not pets), and that little lamb was coveted by a rich man who already had an enormous flock of sheep. The rich man stole the poor man's sheep, killed it, and ate it. David says that the man should be executed for his transgression, not understanding (until Nathan points it out) that he had effectively done the same thing.

    Nursery Rhymes 
  • Little Bo-Peep's sheep seem to wander off when she's around, but they seem loyal enough to return home in the end.
  • Mary's Lamb from Mary Had a Little Lamb fame follows her everywhere, even to school. The last verse of the full version is on how much the lamb loves Mary and Mary loves the lamb back.
  • The eponymous black sheep from Baa, Baa, Black Sheep gives its wool to its master, a woman, and a young boy. At least in the version most are familiar with.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Reynir, the mage who discovers his powers early in the story is a sheepherder by trade, resulting in his dreamscape safe area being idyllic sheep-populated hills. The worse thing any of the sheep is seen doing is munching on Reynir's hair, which he doesn't seem to mind much.
  • Vegan Art Book: Because the author is a militant vegan fundamentalist, any and all animals, including sheep, are portrayed as kind, innocent victims of the cruel omnivores.
  • The webcomic "Lost Nightmare" by Miyuli has the theme dreams. It involves a young nightmare named Ink who doesn't want to end up as the next Boogeyman. Ink travels to see the Sandman, who lives in a sandy castle. The Sandman's kingdom is entirely populated by friendly sheep residents who are very sensitive and gentle. It's later revealed that Ink and Jasper actually started out as sheep but turned humanoid as they got older. Nightmare versions of sheep are seen, but are also peaceful.

    Western Animation 
    Other 

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