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Remember when you were taught their names from a picture book?
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Woodland Creatures are a group of animals commonly associated with the forest. They are commonly used to symbolize the presence of Mother Nature. Expect to find them in a clearing in The Lost Woods.

Although they are often several separate species, they will show great affection for each other and will rarely act or appear separately; in point of fact, it's common for species that would normally be predators and prey to appear side by side. A human being accepted into the group is almost always a sign of them being a Friend to All Living Things. The animals tend to be very shy and easily startled, but if a character is pure at heart, she will be allowed among them and they will even come to her aid. If they decide to take matters in their own hands then it will inevitably lead to a Gaia's Vengeance.

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They usually appear to have to some degree a shared consciousness, or may be a part of the forest's soul itself.

The Egomaniac Hunter and the Corrupt Corporate Executive will constantly be on their tail and try to chase them away from their home. It will be required that a sympathetic human (usually a plucky kid, a female green activist and/or an initially cynical but ultimately friendly adult male) helps them.

How the Carnivore Confusion is treated depends on the story: sometimes the two groups will make a truce against the common enemy; sometimes the carnivores are shown to be mindlessly aggressive brutes, in which case playing them against the humans will be the best option; oftentimes, meat-eaters and plant-eaters simply appear side-by-side with no tension and no mention of what anybody eats.

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If they are the focus of the story, they might be Talking Animals (with the suggestion that they are using an "animal language" that each of them can understand), and they may form an Unusual Animal Alliance.

Even if they have no acting role, they will make an appearance in stories with a Green Aesop.

If this trope is subverted, they will become the Disney Creatures of the Farce.

The group will almost always contain the following animals:

  • A deer
  • One or two rabbits
  • A flock of small birds
  • A bunch of mice, squirrels or chipmunks (cute but often mischievous)

with the additional talent of:

Rarer members of these ensembles include ferrets/polecats, waterbirds (mostly ducks or geese), moles, opossums, frogs, snakes and the occasional friendly bear. Insects such as Pretty Butterflies, ladybugs and ants may also join the company. They are occasionally antagonized by Savage Wolves, a Wicked Weasel or a Kidnapping Bird of Prey (unless they are in the crew too).

See also: Animal Stereotypes.


Examples:

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     Anime & Manga 

     Eastern European Animation 
  • The Little Mole: The bulk of the cast consists of these. Beside the eponymous mole, there's a mouse, a hare and a hedgehog as his closest friends, a wise old owl who serves as a mentor, and a broad range of birds, frogs, insects and other animals as minor or background characters.

     Film — Animated 
  • Disney makes notorious use of this. Snow White and Sleeping Beauty both feature their pure-hearted princesses gaily frolicking with assorted woodland animals — rabbits, birds, fawns and so on — while Bambi focuses on the woodland critters themselves, chiefly the titular deer and his rabbit and skunk friends.
  • In The Last Unicorn, these inhabit the unicorn's forest at the beginning of the film.
  • Once Upon a Forest features a trio of woodland creatures (a woodmouse, a hedgehog and a mole) trying to find the cure for their young badger friend (a rare cute badger) after a truck carrying toxic gas crashes and poisons the forest.
  • Over the Hedge: The main cast consists entirely of such creatures, counting a raccoon, a turtle, a squirrel, a skunk, an opossum father and daughter and a family of porcupines, who live together and interact amicably in a North American woodland.

     Literature 
  • Redwall: The protagonists of the books are invariably this sort of creatures, albeit anthropomorphic — mice are the most common and the archetypal heroes, but squirrels, voles, rabbits, hares, shrews, otters, badgers and the like all appear quite often, as do numerous types of birds, all acting in accordance to the usual Animal Stereotypes. In contrast, rats and most other mustelids make up the bulk of the villains.
  • Wyrd Sisters: At one point in the book, Lancre Forest's wildlife comes to pay Granny Weatherwax a visit — in this case with the predators in tow. They appear again at the end of the book, where they finish off the Duchess. "Even the rabbits."
    "I don't know what this spell is," [Granny Weatherwax] said. "But I'll tell you this for nothing — when it wears off, some of you little buggers had better get moving."
  • Winnie-the-Pooh: While most main characters are Living Toys (plus a Token Human child), Rabbit, Owl and the minor characters referred to as "Rabbit's Friends and Relations" (including other rabbits, mice, a hedgehog, a squirrel, a newt and a handful of bugs) are living animals who qualify for this trope. The Disney adaptations leave the Friends and Relations out, but introduce the new character Gopher.

     Music 
  • "All God's Critters got a place in the choir, some sing low and some sing higher..."

     Newspaper Comics 
  • The Far Side: In one strip, two people come across a large crowd of woodland critters... who in this case seem a bit too happy.
  • Rose is Rose:
    • These creatures accompany Pasquale and his grandmother on a nature walk.
    • After Pasquale thinks his echo must be lonely when he's gone, we see the echo surrounded by creatures and rainbows and other "good emotions" bits.

     Video Games 
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice: In the fifth case, Queen Amara summons a deer, birds, a chipmunk, and a tiger before giving testimony.
  • Shadow of the Colossus: When Mono wakes up in the end credits, numerous wild animals appear and visit her.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • The early installments revolved around Sonic stopping Dr. Robotnik from using woodland creatures to power his 'badniks'. These "Animal Friends" as they're called were Demoted to Extra as the games developed larger plots.
    • In fact, most of the cast are woodland animals, with exceptions being Knuckles the Echidna, Blaze the Cat, Espio the Chameleon, and Vector the Crocodile.

     Western Animation 
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  • The Animals of Farthing Wood, as the title implies, follows the adventures of a band comprising most of the small wildlife common in British woods — a fox, a badger, a pair of hedgehogs, a pair of newts, assorted birds and rodents, and an adder. The series, however, goes with the Nature Is Not Nice interpretation and is full of Family-Unfriendly Violence.
  • The Bluffers: The heroes are a squirrel, a mouse, an owl, a fox, a bear, a snake, a porcupine, an eagle (though he looks more like a buzzard), and for some reason a goose. There are also two rabbits who get billing in the credits, but almost never show up in the actual show.
  • In Christopher The Christmas Tree, a group of woodland creatures take up residence in Christopher, making him feel not so bad about not being picked to be a Christmas tree. They include a deer, a raccoon, a rabbit, a squirrel, a chipmunk, a couple of mice, a couple of birds, a beaver, and yes, a flirty skunk. (And an owl, but he was there first.)
  • Drawn Together joyfully slaughtered Clara's Woodland Creature crew.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: A bunch of woodland critters shows up during a musical number in one episode.
  • Kissyfur: The animals live in a swamp rather than a forest, but are otherwise a fairly standard mix of bears, boars, rabbits, beavers, mice and chickens.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Fluttershy's talent and passion is caring for animals, and she lives in a house full of her animal friends — squirrels, white mice, rabbits, ferrets, ducks and colorful songbirds are the most commonly seen, but goats, tropical birds, chipmunks, hedgehogs, raccoons, owls, skunks and Harry the bear have all shown up. Notably, Fluttershy's woodland critter collection also include some creatures which don't appear in this category terribly often — there's at least one spider among them, and snakes and bats appear with some regularity. More exotic animals like the occasional monkey also appear.
    • The ponies in general, with their whole "custodians of nature" schtick, deal with woodland creatures on a regular basis, especially when it's time to change the seasons (for example, they tell the animals when to hibernate and when to wake up). This is actually related to one of the things that scares the ponies about the Everfree Forest; forget the fact that it's home to dangerous mythological beasts, perfectly ordinary woodland creatures go about their woodland business without the ponies telling them to! It ain't right!
  • Peace on Earth: Woodland creatures inherit the Earth once humans kill themselves off, building a far kinder society.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: Parodied when one of the woodland critters accidentally becomes Bullet the Powerpuff Squirrel.
  • The Raccoons: Deconstructed. At first it seems to be like this but in reality the tone of the series was more like a sitcom setting with some dramatic overtones.
  • Screwball Squirrel seems like it's going to follow this trope at first with chirping birds and a cute squirrel collecting nuts in a basket, until Screwy appears on the scene and beats up the cute squirrel.
  • South Park:Subverted in the episode "Woodland Critter Christmas", where the woodland critters are trying to raise the Antichrist. As characters in a story made up by Cartman, they show up again in the Imagination Land episodes, where they rape and kill things.
  • Tex Avery, who was definitely not a fan of this trope, plays with it in the short Little Tinker, about a skunk looking for a mate and being constantly rejected.
  • Van Beuren Studios: The bird protagonists of A Little Bird Told Me, who live in a forest village.
  • Winnie-the-Pooh: In the series, the "Living Toys" idea is much more ambiguous than in the books and movies, and Pooh and his friends largely appear as a mix of talking animals living and having adventures in an idyllic wood.
  • The World of David the Gnome: Many episodes revolve around David helping local woodland creatures.

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