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Typical Cartoon Animal Colors

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Many cartoon animals have coloration that's consistent across works, even by different animators, but which is not typical of them in Real Life. This has the effect of making identifying the animal as belonging to to a particular species easier for the audience: for instance, if a farmyard bird with webbed feet is white or grey, it's a goose; but if it's yellow, it's a duck. Likewise, if a small round-eared rodent sniffing around a pantry is white or brown, the audience knows that it's a mouse; if it's gray or black instead, it's a rat.

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This trope can also be the result of The Coconut Effect in action where realistic markings or colorings seem off to the viewer, but more often it's a case of Color-Coded for Your Convenience.

See Analysis.Typical Cartoon Animal Colors for more information. Compare and contrast Amazing Technicolor Wildlife, where animals are colored freely. White Bunny is a subtrope. Stock Object Colors is a Super Trope.


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Examples:

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    General examples 
Film

Literature

  • The picture book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? features a brown bear, a red bird, a yellow duck, a green frog, a white dog, a black sheep, and a goldfish.

Video Games

  • Minecraft:
    • The three color variants that cats appear in — orange tabby, black-and-white tuxedo and Siamese — are all very popular ways to depict cats in popular culture.
    • This is predominant for the "livestock" animals as well:
      • Pigs are the classic shiny bright pink.
      • Sheep have white wool and brown faces and feet, with brown, gray and black sheep appearing as rare color variants. The player is free to subvert this if they so desire, as white sheep can be permanently dyed with any and all in-game color dyes.
      • Cows have a quasi-Frisian brown-and-white splotched pattern.
      • Chickens are pristine white, with bright yellow beaks and feet and scarlet wattles.
      • Among the rabbits, brown and white are both common colors. So is black-and-white, despite these being theoretically wild animals instead of pets.
    • Foxes spawned in taigas are bright orange with white tail tips, while foxes spawned in snowy taigas are the uniform white of arctic foxes.
    • The five color variants for the parrots include a classic green parrot and others modeled on the hyacinth, blue-and-yellow and scarlet macaws. The fifth is based on the cockatiel, a species of small gray parrot very common as a pet.
    • Sea turtles are bright emerald green, despite the fact that few turtles, and certainly no sea turtles, are this color in real life.

Webcomics

  • The Order of the Stick: Blackwing the raven, Vaarsuvius's Familiar, has bright orange beak and legs that, while typical of cartoon corvids, make him resemble a male common blackbird more closely than anything else. Largely justified in this case — being all-black would make him less visually interesting and, especially in the comic's deliberately simplistic art style, make his expressions harder to read.
  • Sheldon: Although it's hard to see in the black-and-white weekly strips, the colored Sunday strips show that Arthur is a standard cartoon yellow duck.

Web Original

  • The Bird Watcher's General Store's web article Real Crows Don't Have Yellow Beaks talks about why yellow beaked and yellow footed cartoon crows are so prevalent in cartoons and comics and how the yellow beaks and feet became a typical cartoon animal color for crows and ravens.

Western Animation

  • Jungle Junction features a red crab (Taxicrab), a green toad (Toadhog), a pink pig (Zooter), and a green crocodile (Crocker).
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Tweety is yellow like a typical cartoon canary.
    • Bugs Bunny is mostly light grey, with a white belly, cheeks and "slippers".
  • WordWorld has a brown dog, a yellow duck, a pink pig, a green frog, a white sheep, and a brown bear.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Most cows are white with large black spots, in the manner of Holstein cattle that's typical of cartoon cattle. The rest are either white with large brown spots or solid brown.
    • Pigs are typically bright pink; when multiple pigs are present at once, some will be tan, black or tan with large black spots.
    • The rabbits are all solid white, brown, grey or black.
    • Almost all mice in the show are pure white, and occasionally light grey.
    • Harry the bear is dark brown, with a tan belly and muzzle.
    • Most chickens are a clean, solid white; when multiple chickens appear in the same scene, some will be brown or golden-brown instead, but always a solid, unmarked color. They all have bright red combs, and canary yellow chicks.
    • The ducks are the classic mallards, usually appearing in small family groups — a grey-bodied male with a bright green head, a solid brown female and three or four yellow ducklings. Both males and females are drawn with bright yellow bills, although only male mallards have these in real life.
    • The eagles are all uniformly bald eagles with gray bodies and white heads and tails.
    • Tortoises and turtles, including Tank, one of the main characters' pets, are either uniformly deep green or have green heads and limbs with gray-green or brown shells, although green is a very uncommon color for tortoises in real life. Unlike other cartoon tortoises, but like real life tortoises, their shells are almost always prominently patterned with either spots or hexagonal markings.
    • Gummy, a toothless baby alligator kept as a pet by Pinkie Pie, is a shade of emerald green much brighter than alligators ever get in real life. This discrepancy is especially obvious in a deliberate gag in "Pinkie Pride" when a scene cuts to Gummy as a real baby alligator in live-action, whose hide is a much duller hue.
    • Snakes are usually bright jade or emerald green, with lighter bellies. Sometimes they're dark yellow instead, but only when multiple snakes are present in a single shot. Cobras tend to be either black or a dark grayish-purple.
    • When frogs appear, they're colored a bright leaf green.

    Examples specific to certain works 
Film
  • Cinderella: The mice are all either tan or light brown-furred all over and have brick red noses, pink ears, and black, threadlike tails.
  • Disney: All the weasels in The Prince and the Pauper and the Disney adaptation of The Wind in the Willows are brown-furred with tan colored muzzles, either with or without tan colored chins. Some of them have tan fur on the undersides of their necks, some of them don't.
  • Ratatouille: The rats all have pink noses, ears, tails, and paws, bluish, grayish, grayish green, brownish, or reddish brown fur, and lighter colored bellies.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: The weasels have more variation in fur color, but they all have base colored fur (usually brown) with lighter colored muzzles with lighter colored chins (except Smartass, whose chin is left the base color of his fur), undersides of necks, chests, bellies, and soles of feet.
  • The Rescuers Down Under: Frank is green, unlike real frilled lizards which are brown.
  • Tarzan: All the elephants are red.
  • Home on the Range: All the pigs are pink, with black ears and darker pink backs.
  • Lilo & Stitch: In both in movies and in TV series, the ducks are all-white feathered with grey feathered areas around their eyes and yellow-orange bills and feet.

Literature

  • Geronimo Stilton: Most of the mice are grey, light grey, reddish brown, brown, light brown, or orange with white foot soles, muzzles, front sides of their necks, chests, and bellies. Some of them have human-style head hair.

Videogames

  • Pokémon: Somewhat unusually, there is a very strong tendency for frog-based Pokémon to be colored blue — almost all members of the Polywag, Croagunk, Tympole and Froakie lines are colored predominantly in some shade of dark blue, light blue or teal, with the chiefly green Politoed as the sole exception (and even then, Politoed's shiny form is also blue).
    • This is probably because Pokemon are often Color-Coded for Your Convenience - while there are a few exceptions, water-type Pokemon tend to be blue or have prominent blue markings.
    • For the same reason, other Pokemon often have colors reflecting their type rather than the species they are based on. Snake-based Pokemon are typically purple (poison-type), seal-based Pokemon are white or light blue (ice-type), and fire-types tend to be red or orange regardless of what animal they are based on.

Western Animation

  • Looney Tunes:
    • Most rabbits have base color (be it grey, cream, blue, pink, etc.) fur with white cheeks and muzzle, front sides of their necks, chests, bellies, undersides of their tails, and slipper-like hindfoot markings.
    • Also, most skunks have base color (often black) fur with a white facial "mask", front sides of their necks, chest, and belly as well as the characteristic white stripe on their back and tail (with or without a base colored stripe in the middle).
    • The mice in the Speedy Gonzales cartoons are all tan or light brown with black noses, black, tan, or light brown, threadlike tails, and black head hair. Some of them have light tan faces.
  • Disney:
  • Top Cat is yellow with a white muzzle and Benny the Ball is blue with a peach colored facial "mask", but most cats in Top Cat have unpatterned (that is, not tabby), base color (except black) fur with peach colored muzzles and nearly all of them have black noses.
  • Animaniacs: Squirrels are usually base colored (except black) with white or lighter colored white cheeks and muzzle, front sides of their necks, chest, belly, and undersides of their tails. Some of them have white or lighter colored areas around their eyes as well.
  • Pinky and the Brain: Most mice are all-white furred with red noses and pink feet and tails.
  • Phineas and Ferb: All platypi are teal-furred with orange bills, feet, and tails.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Ponies are Amazing Technicolor Wildlife with any one color for the base color, any one or few colors for the mane and tail, and cutie marks that they earn. Oddly enough, the two donkeys (and one mule) we see are both brown with black manes and lack cutie marks.

    Exceptions, subversions, and aversions 
Comics
  • Lucky Luke: The horses are of a wider variety than usual, and almost all colourations seen correspond to real colours. Jolly Jumper (white with yellow legs and mane) would be perlino, and the occasional black, white-maned individuals silver dapple blacks for instance.
  • Sonic the Comic: Tekno is a canary but she's not yellow. She's green, which is an actual canary color (though it looks more like yellow-green in real life).

Film

  • Kung Fu Panda: Subverted with the geese, pigs, and rabbits in that they come in at least a few colors other than white, or pink in the pigs' case.
  • The Little Mermaid: The lobster in "Under the Sea" is colored blue. Blue lobsters exist, though they're a darker blue than that cartoon lobster. It's a rare mutation.
  • Fritz the Cat: The crows have black beaks and legs.
  • The Lion King: Almost averted with the cubs. Early concept art shows them with the rosettes real-life lion cubs have, but in the final product they lack them except for newborn Simba.
  • Animal Farm: Most of the pigs in the animated adaptation are pink, but Napoleon is black with a lighter "saddle". In the book, he's a Berkshire (which are usually black with pink facial markings) and specifically stated to be the only pig of that breed on the farm.
  • Moana: Pua the pig is white with grey spots.

Video Games

Western Animation

  • Hanna-Barbera:
    • Huckleberry Hound is blue. According to Joe Barbera, the idea originated from an old folk song, "Ol' Blue, you good dog, you."
    • The Great Grape Ape is purple, instead of the brown of many cartoon gorillas. Then again, he is called the Great Grape Ape.
  • The Tiny Toon Adventures canary, Sweetie, subverts this by being pink feathered all over. Which was also Tweetie's color in very early cartoons.
  • Super Why!: The goose in one episode is gray-feathered all over instead of having the all-white plumage that most cartoon geese have.
  • In Staflik a Spagetka, there's a crow with a yellow beak, but this is subverted in that the crow is blue instead of black.
  • Looney Tunes: The two crows Jose and Miguel, from "The Crows From Tacos" and "Crows' Feat", have, in a bit of an odd case, black feet and yellow beaks.
  • Heckle and Jeckle: Magpies, save for the yellow billed magpie, usually have black beaks. Heck and Jeckle have yellow beaks.
  • The Simpsons: Santa's Little Helper is a light brown rather than grey that's usually given to greyhounds. In Real Life brown greyhounds are exceedingly rare and almost always have white on them, though other non-grey greyhound colors are quite common.
  • The Lion Guard: Kion has rosettes, which lion cubs in fiction usually lack. He's the only cub in the franchise to have these thus far.
  • Timon & Pumbaa: Boss Beaver has yellow teeth like a real-life beaver.
  • PAW Patrol has the standard-colored pups.
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