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Ordinary animals in fiction have a significantly increased intelligence. Not necessarily the Talking Animals. Not the Funny Animals. Just the wild and domestic animals encountered in stories where humans are the main characters. Such animals can frequently clearly understand everything humans say, understand human emotions, read, figure out how to solve problems on their own, and so forth. This is also true for cases in which the animals can talk to each other [so the audience can hear them] but are common animals in the eyes of any humans in the film.

Beyond that, they will, if they belong to a human, also circumvent their natural instincts in order to aid or protect their humans.

See also Animal Talk, Friend to All Living Things, Timmy in a Well, and Most Writers Are Human. See Uplifted Animal, for when it's deliberately done in-universe. Not to be confused with Mysterious Animal Senses. Not to be confused with Tropey the Wonder Dog, which is about metaphorical dogs.

There is some Truth in Television. Parrots are intelligent enough to ask for their favourite foods. Parrots appearing in fiction vary from the "polly wanna cracker" level of intelligence, to being smart enough to carry on a full conversation. A certain African Grey parrot, Alex, was trained by Dr. Irene Pepperberg at Brandeis University to count up to six, correctly identify the type, color, material and shape of objects, and was showing a basic grasp of abstract concepts like "same" and "different" by the time he died.

Examples of Amplified Animal Aptitude include:


Anime

  • One could think Bebop's crew's dog Ein is an example, but he really is an Uplifted Animal. However, this trope is played straigh in the episode Mushroom Samba (Trope Namer of Mushroom Samba) with a cow whom Ein thanks (getting a "you're welcome" in return).
  • Osamu Tezuka runs on this trope: Kimba the White Lion is a prime example, though many of his works, like Phoenix and Black Jack, feature extraordinarily intelligent animals whose sapience is never explained or questioned.
  • The Gorilla from Cromartie High School shows questionable signs of intelligence. It is implied that he can use a computer and he is able to make his own sushi. The students at Cromartie even go as far as to say that the Gorilla is smarter than them.
  • Stratos 4 has Alice, an old cat who is the pet of Rin and Ran Mikuriya. Alice, who is also nicknamed "Admiral," definitely shows a comprehension of what's going on (especially as shown in her occasional captioned cat-noises), including watching the news, displaying emotion rather clearly, and trying to smuggle herself or stow away on a plane in order to fly to the skies herself (though it's a Running Gag that she keeps on being found and removed from said planes). She even has an encounter with several other cats that display a similar level of intelligent thought, including a kitten whom she adopts.
  • Despite the difficulty they have learning to say more than their own species name, most Pokemon in the Pokémon anime appear to understand human speech. Even a Pokemon that hasn't even been caught yet can recognize when one of their attacks are called.
    • Team Rocket's Meowth gained the ability to talk but lost the ability to learn the signature move Pay Day. This may not sound bad, but Pay Day literally makes money.
      • It's mentioned that he actually lost the ability to learn any new move ("I used up all my smarts learning to talk."), and doing so before he learned Pay Day was just an unfortunate lack of good timing.
  • The original Dirty Pair series had "Algernon", a mouse with enhanced intelligence and the ability to command other mice (a la Krosp from Girl Genius), developed as a security system. Algernon went rogue and took over the heroines' headquarters building before he was stopped by the Pair.


Comic Books

  • Krypto the Superdog and other super-pets showed up in, of course, the Superman-related comics.
  • The Pet Avengers! Subverted with Ms. Lion though, who while able to communicate with the others on the team is as dumb as a stack of hammers.
  • And then there's Rex The Wonder Dog. Despite being an ostensibly normal dog, Rex has had a job as a photographer, has driven cars, and once nuked a T-Rex.
  • Dr. Arthur Nagel, a supervillain from Marvel Comics, is supposed to have been abducted by a tribe of gorillas who stitched his head onto a gorilla's body. Considering that Dr. Nagel is still ambulatory, this may be the ultimate example of this trope.
  • Subverted with Snoopy from Peanuts who is above this level; Snoopy actually does have human smarts and the reason he can't speak isn't because he isn't smart enough. He's simply not smart enough to form the words.

Film

  • DreamWorks uses this trope liberally:
    • Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. Horses are extremely intelligent animals, but the idea of a horse playing dead in order to get humans to break his chains, and then successfully breaking the latches on a train, is taking things a bit far.
      • The directors even lampshade this in the commentary on that scene.
    • The first big DreamWorks movie, Mousehunt, did this too. Let's put it this way: secret agents are not as cunning as this mouse.
  • So does Bluth Studios:
    • All Dogs Go to Heaven
    • Pooka, Anya's dog in Anastasia
    • The Secret of Nimh: Unlike Jonathan, Mr. Ages, and the Rats; Mrs. Brisby intelligence was not boost by lab research yet she is able to read, escape a bird cage, and disable a tractor by cutting it's fuel line.
  • Disney Animated Canon is a huge proponent of this trope:
    • The Aristocats
    • Oliver and Company
    • Bolt
    • The Lion King to a much higher extent.
    • Nana from Peter Pan
    • All animals appearing in Lady and the Tramp. It might even be an accepted part of that world, considering how the dogs are talked to and that the two Italian chefs take so much time to prepare a meal and music for the titular characters.
    • Beauty and the Beast has an aversion: Phillipe tries to run from the wolves instead of defending Belle, and while she tries to talk to sheep, they clearly are more interested in eating her book than reading it.
    • Figaro and Cleo in Pinocchio.
    • Remy in particular from Ratatouille.
    • Abu and Rajah from Aladdin. Jasmine was also able to pet a goldfish. Iago the parrot is smart enough to carry on full conversations with Jafar.
      • Iago is a full fledged Talking Animal; he was only pretending to be a regular parrot when the sultan was around.
      • Some dialogue implies that Iago was enchanted by Jafar to gain human-level intelligence, so he's not a normal case.
      • Truth in Television - many species of parrot actually can learn enough English (or other human language) to carry on proper conversations, although they're not nearly so erudite as Iago.
    • The dogs from Up can talk (with technological assistance), cook, and even fly planes.
    • The dogs in One Hundred and One Dalmatians. They worked out a long-distance communication system among themselves!
    • Archimedes, Merlin's "highly educated" owl, in The Sword in the Stone. Sir Ector suspects that Merlin has him under a spell. Archimedes is insulted at the notion.
    • Pip from Enchanted. Justified since it is a parody of all of the above.
    • And, of course, Pluto, the one Mickey Mouse character who isn't a Funny Animal, but is still rather intelligent and can understand (if not speak) English.
    • And the tradition continues in the latest Disney movie Tangled, which features the emotive chameleon, Pascal, and the horse, Maximus, who happens to be more competent than his own rider the (presumable) captain of the guard. Over the course of the film, he is shown tracking his quarry by scent, locating secret passages, and even 'sword fighting', all of this in manner more competent than the humans who are supposed to be 'his' masters. It's no surprise then, that at the end of the film Maximus is made the actual leader of the kingdom's guards.
  • Rin Tin Tin
  • All the dogs from Balto. They talked to each other but humans heard only barking.
  • Won Ton Ton, an Affectionate Parody of Rin Tin Tin.
  • Milo, the Jack Russell terrier in The Mask.
  • The Buster Keaton short The Scarecrow features Luke the Dog (on loan from Fatty Arbuckle), who can walk up and down ladders.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
    • Jack. The monkey Jack.
    • Mr. Cotton's parrot is intelligent enough to sort of telepathically understand Mr. Cotton and spout an appropriate sea phrase in response so the humans know what his human is trying to say.
  • G-Force: The titular trained secret agent rodents are capable of complex hand coordination, bipedal movement, physical display of human emotions (which shouldn't be possible), and computer hacking skills (as in the case of the star-nosed mole, Speckles). While all these abilities are (partially) justified by government animal experimentation, it fails to explain why the ordinary pet store animals, such as guinea pig Hurley and Hamster Bucky, are just as capable of these feats of intelligence as the G-Force team.
    • Then towards the end of the movie, the unit's leader, scientist Ben, confesses that the team are not genetically enhanced animals as previously told, but ordinary ones Ben took in and trained for the team. WTF doesn't begin to describe it.
  • Any Instant Messenger Pigeon would probably also qualify for this trope, since while messenger birds existed they were rarely as good at it as some fictional versions. The owls in Harry Potter, particularly, would have to be much smarter than real owls to be able to deliver messages.
  • Suzanne in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
  • The animals in Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey are able to talk to each other, plan an escape out of a pound, and make pop-culture references.
  • Wolf in The Journey of Natty Gann demonstrates an implausible capacity for reason: not only does he recognize the part Natty played in his escape from a dogfighting ring (by opening a door for him), he repays her by presenting her with a freshly-killed rabbit when she's starving in the woods, and proceeds to follow her around warning her of impending danger and performing acts of altruism like defending a farmer's chicken coop from foxes for no apparent reason beyond repaying the farmer and his wife for helping Natty. At times, Wolf seems like the smartest character in the whole movie.
  • Trigger, the 'smartest horse in the west'.
  • The Mask: Stanley Ipkiss's dog, Milo, not only understands human speech, but reacts to what is happening in the plot as he appeared determined when directed to get a pair of keys quietly from a sleeping guard to Stanley's jail cell after Stanley was framed and put into prison. Lampshadeed by police detective and Hero Antagonist Lt. Mitch Kellaway when Stanely leaves him tied up along with Milo for his safety in his car, before the Jack Russel Terrier opens the car door with his teeth and joins the fray. Mitch: "Smart dog".
  • In Rio, Blu, while unable to fly, can turn on a computer, ride a skateboard, and open his own cage.
  • The titular dog in Beethoven.
  • The dogs in Hotel for Dogs.


Literature

  • The Dresden Files has a Justified Trope example. Harry's dog Mouse is a Half Dog Hybrid between a normal dog and a Fu Dog. He works the Big Friendly Dog schtick so as not to frighten the Muggles.
    • In Changes, the Leanansidhe briefly turns Harry and his companions into hounds. In this form, Mouse's "speech" can be clearly interpreted as English - and he gets into a quick, vicious argument with Lea over turning the team back to normal.
    • Mister, Harry's 30 pound pet cat appears to be somewhat more intelligent than most animals. Or that could just be cats. Though something could be made of the fact that he looks exactly the same as always under the Sight.
  • CS Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia series subverts the trope. Talking Animals are smart. Non-Talking Animals are not any smarter than animals on a mundane Earth. And really, even the talking ones aren't necessarily that smart....
  • Harry Potter
    • Hermione's cat, Crookshanks. Subverted as it's later revealed that it's half Kneazle, a magical creature.
    • The owls have the magical ability to find whomever the mail they carry is addressed to.
    • There's also the issue of how being a parselmouth works, if all snakes aren't intelligent.
    • Played with in one of the series' earliest scenes, when Mr. Dursley sees cat-McGonagall looking at a sign, and has to remind himself that cats can't read.
  • All animals in Tamora Pierce's The Immortals quartet of books can understand humans and each other, but they can't communicate with them in return. Because Daine has wild magic, and thus is the only person who can understand what the animals say, she spends a good portion of time acting as translator. The animals were said to be not all that bright unless they'd had heavy exposure to her, though it wasn't really shown. Daine was shocked when her wolf pack saw that humans and their tools were separate, and the alpha wolf was stressed and unhappy at all the new, human thoughts coming in, even if he were willing to think them.
  • Animal Farm plays this trope straight, where the animals (mostly the pigs) are shown to be highly intelligent when they speak English, devise battle plans, design windmills, form a complex government, etc.
  • While the titular rats in Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH are justifiably this trope, thanks to their lab-enhanced intellects, ordinary animals like crows, owls, and Mrs. Frisby herself (a common field mouse) also talk to one another.
  • Mercedes Lackey usually uses magic as an excuse for her intelligent animals. However, in the case of Shin'a'in warhorses, this is natural breeding, making them strong, smart, and mean.
  • Gaspode the Wonder Dog, later just Gaspode, who can talk (but nobody pays any attention, because dogs can't talk). Moving Pictures also gives us Laddie, who plays a superintelligent dog onscreen but whose Real Life conversation consists mostly of 'Good boy Laddie'.
    • Subverted in The Amazing Maurice And His Educated Rodents, in which even ordinary (non-Changeling) rats and cats are presumed to have languages of their own. The subversion is that Rat consists largely of body language (e.g. a submissive crouch for "sir"), while Cat is equipped mainly for swearing.
  • All the animal characters in Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown's Mrs. Murphy series.
  • The cats in the book (and movie) Felidae are shown to be able to read and understand how certain machines are used. It's pointed out that learning these things takes time, and that not all cats bother with the task, though just about all of them understand humans.

  Francis: I never thought I would ever see one of us, sitting in front of a computer... and actually knowing how to use it!

  • Doctor Dolittle is a textbook example - he learned how to speak with animals from his parrot, Polynesia, and pretty much every animal has a language.
  • The dinosaurs in Dinoverse all tend to display a lot of intelligence. It would be expected with the main characters, who after all are humans cast back in time and put into dinosaur bodies, but just about everything they encounter that doesn't just try to kill them is ridiculously bright. In the first two books they mostly just have keen senses of emotional intelligence and group dynamics, with understanding of things like jealousy, reconciliation, gratitude, and amicably ending a relationship. Leptoceratopsians are able to use mimicry. The next two books ramp it up. Hypsilophodons help a character collect material to build a raft and row and hit a predator with clubs, all just because they watched a human-in-a-Hypsilophodon-body do it. There is also the case of Hook/Junior, a Deinonychus who over the course of less than a week of watching, learns to make fire, splint injured limbs, and is able to, if not read, than at least has some understanding of the markings scratched into rock walls. He also fakes a limp on his own initiative. Hook/Junior, unlike all the others in the series, is noted to be unusually smart by the human characters. It's even implied that saving him and letting him rejoin Deinonychus society leads to dinosaurs surviving to modern times as an entire civilization, in an alternate universe.


Live Action TV

  • The titular kangaroo of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo not only showed a remarkable understanding of English, but would often imitate human behaviors like playing a piano or the drums.
  • Flipper understood the people he dealt with.
  • Spot, however, did not necessarily understand Data any better than a cat understands a normal human.
  • Lassie, naturally, can not only understand, but can also bark in some sort of code that humans understand to mean Timmy in a Well.
  • Wishbone.
  • Arnold from Green Acres was arguably smarter than all the humans.
  • Comet, the horse from The Adventures of Brisco County Jr, is a blatant parody of this trope. Not only does Brisco's steed perform some unlikely feats of intelligence on camera, but Bruce Campbell regularly refers to even less-plausible things Comet had been doing, before its rider whistled for it.
  • Due South: Diefenbaker, the deaf half-wolf was just as much Fraser's partner as Ray.
  • The Littlest Hobo: The doggy protagonist seems to understand human speech, as well as concepts like tape recorders.
    • An entire episode revolves around two scientists trying to get hold of him to find out just how smart he is; he has no interest in their work, and better things to do. In the end, the answer seems to be "smarter that the scientists."
  • Eddie, the Jack Russell in Frasier, ping-ponged across the line between realistically intelligent, as-unrealistically-bright-as-the-Rule of Funny-will-allow, Gromit-esque Silent Snarker, and occasionally so very stupid it seems like he's putting it on....
  • Tales of the Gold Monkey: Jack, the one eyed bull terrier. Barks once for no, twice for yes (and never been wrong) and understands at least three languages (English, Japanese, and Spanish.)


Video Games

  • Nancy Drew games:
    • Loulou the Parrot from The Curse of Blackmoor Manor is smart enough to play complex word games, translate Latin, and play pranks on Nancy Drew. Even for an octogenarian, that's shrewd.
    • Her grandaughter Coucou, from Ransom of the Seven Ships, continues the family tradition of genius. The game-playing monkeys on the island aren't slouches either.
    • Isis from The White Wolf of Icicle Creek.
    • Mickey Malone's dogs from Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake.
    • Yuri from Secret of The Old Clock.
    • Bob from The Secret of Shadow Ranch.
    • Iggy and Bernie from Legend of The Crystal Skull.
    • Casper from Warnings at Waverly Academy.
    • Inverted by Mr. Mingles, the Pomeranian from Resorting To Danger. It'd take a phenomenally stupid animal to get into half the predicaments -- trapped in a dumbwaiter, locked in a safe, sucked up a pneumatic delivery tube -- that pesky puffball manages to stumble into.
  • Koromaru the dog from Persona 3 can summon a Persona, fight using a knife held in his teeth, and understands human speech perfectly. That should be more than enough to qualify.
  • Repede from Tales of Vesperia. He's a dog who's perfectly capable of understanding human speech, and is an extremely capable fighter, being able to wield a sword held in his teeth, and being able to unleash artes that are just as flashy and deadly as those of the human characters.
  • Blanca from Shadow Hearts: Covenant, who is not only a domesticated wolf raised from a puppy, but is also a full party member enough to make combos with other allies.
  • Justified in Dragon Age: the Mabari War Hounds actually are as intelligent as humans. In fact, they're arguably smarter; after all, they know better than to speak, and "Dog," your party's war hound, is smart enough to easily understand human speech.
  • Missile from Ghost Trick appears to be nothing more than an ordinary dog prone to ordinary dog behavior (fiercely loyal to his master, barks incessantly at anything that moves or makes noise), but in ghost form, he's perfectly capable of thinking, reasoning, and communicating on a human level. It's also eventually revealed that the protagonist, Sissel, is actually a cat with a postmortem identity crisis: this is foreshadowed in subtle details, like his inability to read and unfamiliarity with basic concepts like guns. And in the end, Missile outdoes pretty much everyone when it turns out his ten-year-older self has been performing a "Ghost Trick" of his own on a grand scale in order to avert the death that set off the events of the game.
  • Roadkill from Comix Zone can be released to get by obstacles and hit the switches that turn them off, then return to Sketch. In the backstory mentioned, Sketch never specifically trained Roadkill to do anything at all.


Web Comics

  • Subverted in Girl Genius, where Krosp the talking cat is a mad scientist's creation, endowed not just with intelligence and speech but also the ability to command all other cats, creating an unseen army of spies, messengers and saboteurs wherever he goes. Emphasis on "mad": cats obey Krosp, but they're animals. They're not sapient, they can't reason, and if they understand their orders they have an attention span of seconds.
    • Well, it's not quite right to say he has the "ability" to command cats. That was his intended purpose, but the only problem that was solved by creating Krosp was the issue of communication. Cats can understand him and vice versa, but he still has to get their attention, get them interested enough to do what he's asking, and care enough to do it for long enough to actually finish the job. Seeing as they're cats, it was this last one especially that caused problems.
      • According to Krosp himself, he easily gets their attention and gets them interested -- he's apparently got epic-level charisma as far as cats are concerned -- but he can't always make them understand what he wants, and then the attention span causes them to forget about what he told them to do.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: Judy, Doctor McNinja's gorilla receptionist, can read and write, drive cars, and is in general treated like a human character. Yoshi the raptor mount is somewhat more animalistic, but is able to communicate with Judy and understand concepts like writing, even if he can't read. Later, when fully sapient dinosaurs take over the world, they try to make him intelligent, but even then he has rather limited linguistic abilities and is only capable of You No Take Candle-style speech.


Western Animation

  • Pal, the dog in Arthur.
  • Some of the variations on Garfield His 9 Lives.
  • All The Secret Saturdays' pets understand them.
  • Hanna-Barbera is also a huge proponent of this trope:
    • Blip the monkey understands Jan and Jayce.
    • The Herculoids all understand Zandor, Tara and Dorno.
      • Possible subversion: they're all alien animals(?), and we don't know if they are sapient and just unable to utter human speech.
    • Jonny Quest's dog Bandit understands Johnny and every human in the family.
    • Dino and Hoppy from The Flintstones understand their humans, and so do most of the animal-based appliances in that world.
    • Wonder Dog understands Wendy and Marvin.
    • Tom and Jerry as well as Butch the dog and any other animals appearing in their cartoons have easily human intelligence.
    • Hong Kong Phooey's cat Spot was actually smarter than the titular "hero".
    • Birdman's golden eagle Avenger understood Birdman well enough to follow commands.
    • And what of Yogi Bear, who's "smarter than the average bear"?
  • In Krypto the Superdog, Krypto understands all humans, and the only reason Kevin understands him is that there's a translator device.
  • Monkey in the Dial M for Monkey segment on Dexter's Laboratory.
  • Averted in The Animals of Farthing Wood being that they were all realistic animals, and while they all spoke to each other, they never understood humans and mistrusted them all equally except The Warden of White Deer Park, who was vouched for by the Park residents as being a man with the animals' safety first in mind.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has strange combo-animals that fall under this trope and/or behave like ordinary one-type animals.
    • Appa is a straight example: he flat-out seems to understand everyone.
    • Jun's mount didn't seem to understand humans.
    • The Giant Badger-Moles in "The Cave of Two Lovers" like music and apparently understood Sokka enough to allow him to ride them to safety.
    • Avatar Roku's dragon and the old Fire Lord Azulon's dragon seemed to understand them.
    • Momo is a deliberate subversion. When Katara and Sokka are incapacitated from illness, Katara asks Momo to bring water. Momo understands the "go get" part but spends the entire episode bringing back random objects, no matter how slowly Katara speaks and tries to communicate 'water'.
    • In an episode of Avatar, a messenger hawk is intercepted by a bigger hawk. The larger hawk was able to tie up the smaller hawk with a couple of ribbons, take the message, and fly it back to its owner.
      • The messenger hawk example is the only one that doesn't fit the usual pattern: animals with bending powers (sky bison, badger-moles, dragons, maybe lion-turtles) have human or near-human intelligence. Others are just animals.
  • On The Simpsons, like Maggie, both Santa's Little Helper and Snowball understand human speech, and the dog is occasionally smart enough to do Even the Dog Is Ashamed gags and understand why being married to a cat is a bad idea.
    • Bart also ordered a perfect dog from a catalogue who was extremely intelligent.
    • In the Elephant episode, he even managed to speak (before falling over).
    • The pony Homer gets Lisa in Lisa's Pony.
    • Mr. Pinchy, the lobster Homer gets in Lisa Gets an A.
    • The sheep at the petting zoo in Lisa the Vegetarian.
    • The elephant Bart gets, Stampy, in Bart Gets an Elephant.
    • Blinky in Homer's Odyssey.
    • Animals in general vary on The Simpsons, to super-intelligent talking monkeys and dolphins ("Pray for Mojo") to human (or Homer) level intelligent to even dumber than real animals.
  • Penny's dog Brain from Inspector Gadget is smarter than her uncle and saves his life several times per episode. This is not as true in The Movie, though.
    • Mad Cat (Doctor Claw's henchcat) also fits the mould, but For Great Evil. At times the not-so-good doctor has ordered Mad Cat to launch guided weapons. Cats Are Mean, I know, but missiles?
  • Rufus the naked mole rat from Kim Possible was able to understand and read English as well as go WAY out of the way to save his human, Ron, and managed to figure out which buttons to push to release the bonds holding the heroine and sidekick. In the episode 'Naked Genius', he became even smarter when he accidentally had Project Phoebus used on him, infusing him with the intelligence of the smartest men on the planet along with taking the villain of the day's (Doctor Drakken) intellect, making it so the blue madman was unable to do more than doodle at the level of a kindergartener. It was only for that episode, as the effects eventually wore off on all parties.
  • Tracy, in Filmation's live-action series The Ghost Busters and the later animated series Filmations Ghostbusters. The latter took this trope to insane levels.
  • Brian from Family Guy is a dog that speaks perfect English, walks on two legs, drinks alcohol, and is generally more intelligent than anyone else on the show. But he is one of only a handful of such animals shown, as most animals are shown to be just like regular ones. Two notable exceptions are the monkey in Chris's closet and the dog that replaced Brian in one episode when the Griffins believed Brian was getting too old.
    • Also Brian's gay cousin, but for some reason, not all of his other relatives.
  • Perry the Platypus in Phineas and Ferb. He can't speak and does nothing but stand around on all fours whenever the kids are around, but when he sneaks away he lives a double life as a secret agent, as do most of the other animals who work at the Agency.

 Major Monogram: Carl, remind me again why all our agents are animals?

  • Who can forget Gromit from Wallace and Gromit? Arguably he's more of a Funny Animal, but he's clearly more observant and more grounded in reality then his smart but spacey owner Wallace.
    • Gromit's a unique case here, though; other dogs, aside from understanding human speech, don't appear any brighter than a real dog. It may be the case that Gromit gained his intellect by being born an ordinary dog, and having to adapt to his owner.
    • The events of The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit also raises interesting questions. Perhaps a prototype version of the Mind Manipulation O'Matic was involved somehow?
  • This is apparently how animals work in the Total Drama Island universe. They can apparently understand humans and do things like combine into a Raccoon mech.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes: This trope makes animals even harder to spot since every character other than Jimmy and Heloise (maybe) is a monster. In Jimmy and the Big House it seemed the only difference between animals and people is if they could talk. Cerbee (explicitly called a dog despite looking nothing like one was intelligent enough to give an Aside Glance and such, while in one scene the others talked before Molotov reminded him he couldn't.
  • Sagwa the Chinese Siamese Cat and her siblings can read Chinese characters and write calligraphy using their tails
  • Justified in Pole Position. Through most of the series, Kuma's species was never identified (best guess would be some kind of lemur, maybe). In the last episode, we learn that Kuma is a genetically engineered life form bred by an eccentric scientist.
  • Owlowiscious, Twilight Sparkle's pet owl in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, is extremely intelligent and a capable assistant librarian, and manages to save Spike from a full grown dragon.
  • While Doug was one of the more realistic Nicktoons, Porkchop qualifies for this trope. Besides participating in Even the Dog Is Ashamed jokes, he could do things such as play Barnyard Chess, limbo dance, and fly a kite. Yet maybe only his owner can understand him, because in a court case no one else can decipher what he has to say.
  • In ThunderCats (2011) Team Pet Snarf (a cat-dragon creature) cannot speak, but clearly comprehends speech, and has a grasp of the events around him, enough to become frightened when an enemy proposes that his owner Lion-O Duel to the Death.
  • Lassie's Rescue Rangers is all over this. The eponymous Rangers include among others a skunk, a stork, a porcupine, a cougar, a hare, and of course Lassie herself; they lack dialogue, but otherwise are very intelligent, capable of complex planning and extremely high levels of cooperation.
  • Gary from SpongeBob SquarePants is smarter than his owner.
    • Also all the jellyfish in Bikini Bottom. The jellyfish in Jellyfish Hunter is actually more intelligent than SpongeBob.
    • Fluffy from the episode A Pal for Gary.
    • Mystery from My Pretty Seahorse.
    • Both the temporary pets SpongeBob gets in Dumped.


Real Life

  • A parrot saved the life of a baby by screaming, flapping his wings, and saying "mama baby" over and over until the babysitter realized the baby was choking.
  • Animal rights groups, even the less extreme ones, contend that many animals are more intelligent than we give them credit for, which is why they are against animal testing, whaling, and a number of other activities that harm animals by man's hand.
    • This is a huge generalisation. Many animal rights advocates believe that humans are far superior to animals in intelligence and self-awareness, but that this superiority does not give us carte blanche to imprison and slaughter them.
    • Most animals (or at least most vertebrates) are in fact much more intelligent then the majority of people give them credit for.
  • Animal Behavior researchers were complaining that every time they proved that crows, for instance, could pass one of the tests other scientists set for "true intelligence," like being able to anticipate another animal's actions, the rest of the scientific community moved the goalposts. It could be easier for even an invertebrate to evolve a kind of intelligence than for it to develop a bunch of inherent responses to preprogrammed stimuli.
    • On the other hand, sometimes they get desperate. The only "tool use" observed in gorillas, for instance, is hanging onto a tree while fishing in a river. That basically amounts to using the tree as a "tool" the same way that a squirrel does. Gorillas are intelligent, but not in the same way humans (or any other animal) are. Anthromorphization is more important to those people than proving genuine intelligence, these days.
    • Tool use is an interesting measure, that is actually far less clearly defined than you might think. For example, some apes have been observed using sticks to reach into small holes for bugs and other food or even as basic spears. Many animals can be trained or otherwise taught to use human made devices. But while these traits certainly point towards an intelligence (rather than pure instinct), they don't necessarily prove sentience (self-awareness).
      • However, some chimpanzees have been observed to break off branches, strip side branches from them, and chew points onto them to make spears. Pretty well the the only behaviour that has never been observed in non-humans is the use of tools to make tools.
    • Some philosophers have argued that the true measure of sentience is the ability to understand abstract concepts well enough to ask the question "why?". Of course, that means that barriers to communication may prevent us from being able to recognize true sentience in other creatures for now.
  • Koko The Gorilla is capable of communicating with emotional nuance in American Sign Language.
    • As well as use of the language in untaught, novel ways. For instance, she referred to a gorilla she strongly disliked as "bad toilet," among other names. She also invented terms for things, like "drink fruit" for watermelon. Scientists estimate Koko's IQ at around 70-95. If her IQ is 80, that makes her smarter than more than 9% of humans. They are intelligent, but not in a 100% "human" way. Tool use is just one thing that people like to fixate on.
      • It's important to realize, though, that concepts like IQ can't really apply to animals, since many animals are as smart or smarter than humans in certain very specific areas, but not others. Alex the parrot, mentioned above, is often misleading referenced as being "as smart as a five-year-old." Some things he could do, like answer questions such as "What's the same?" or "What's different?" are indeed tasks that even gifted human five-year-olds often struggle with. But there are other intellectual tasks any five-year-old could do that Alex couldn't (and, no doubt, probably things every parrot knows that no human does).
  • In an episode of the Reality Show It's Me Or The Dog, super-intelligent dogs were featured, hilariously stealing the peanut butter as their trainer watched through hidden cameras.
  • Goldfish -- you know, the ones with a "memory of three seconds" -- are social. Social animals generally evolve to be smarter than solitary animals. Goldfish can recognize faces and associate them and a few words ("Hi fishies!" for example) with food, post sentries when they have big enough schools in big enough tanks, and like watching TV. And they can learn tricks. It does take patience and they're not exactly bright, but they're not ambulatory plants by any means.
    • Myth Busters did a segment on the alleged three-second memory of goldfish. The fish were able to perform tricks and navigate mazes months after they were taught.
      • Being around Adam may have had a side-effect on his group, though. "My goldfish are eating their own poop."
  • Every time the matter of animal intelligence comes up, the first example that gets trotted out is parrots who learn enough English to carry on actual conversations. One report on such parrots even demonstrated that one such parrot could, in tests, understand that he was being asked to tell what was different about two shapes he was shown and could even suss out trick questions (asking "What's different?" about two identical shapes got a response of "None").
    • Then there's the kea, a mountain-dwelling parrot from New Zealand that is so smart that whole flocks of them have been known to happily take apart the cars of inattentive skiers.
  • Recently they reported that a certain species of Corvidae family actually made tools (a skill usually associated only with Great Apes).
    • For those who aren't Ornithologists, this family includes ravens, crows, jackdaws, jays, and magpies.
    • Among other things, adult ravens have been shown to be able to solve simple physics problems (they'd be great at Half-Life 2). They can also reason about whether other ravens saw them at what they know when hiding stuff.
      • They can also learn from each other. In one experiment, two ravens were given a hole with some food and a piece of wire each; one got a wire that had been bent into a hook, while the other got a useless straight wire. The one with the hook quickly figured out that he could use the wire to fish the food out of the hole, but the other one topped him when noticed that his hook was not a hook at all, and bent his wire into an identical tool before going after the food.
      • They're also pretty good at planning ahead. Studies show that when food is tied to a perch, other, less bright birds will try to fly away with it, while corvids will drop the food because they know they can come back later.
      • Ravens recruit other ravens to help them when they have found a good food source. When the discoverer returns to the roost (the one this troper studied in Newborough, Anglesey is one of the largest in Europe, 6000 birds at least.) in the evening, it will take part in displays and stunts with other birds (Ravens love to play and show off their aerobatic skills). He will have the energy to be more elaborate and longer-lasting than other birds, who will see this, recognise that he has fed well, and roost in the same tree as him, following him in the morning when he returns to the food. This way, he has a big mob of allies to protect the food source from competitors untill they have picked it clean.
  • Clever Hans makes this Older Than Television. Domestic animals can be incredibly empathetic with humans.
    • Note that current studies on animal cognition almost always involve extensive controls to avoid "the Clever Hans effect": for instance, tests are usually set up so that they receive as little cuing as possible (often the animal can't see or hear the examiner while they're figuring out the answer).
  • There was a documentary on canine intelligence on TV a while ago, which centered on a Jack Russell who could do math (as it turned out, it was the same situation as with Clever Hans, with the dog reading his owner's body language). There was also a bit about some researchers that were studying dog intelligence and one of the experiments involved a touch screen and a treat dispenser. Images would be shown on the screen in random combinations and positions, with one 'positive' and one 'negative'. If the dog nosed the 'positive' image it got a treat, if it nosed the negative one it got nothing. Not only did the dogs quickly memorize which was which, but also when a new image was shown on screen with an established 'negative' one, the dog was able to instantly work out that the new image was 'positive'. It might not sound that impressive, but it proves that dogs are capable of reasoning, and fast reasoning at that, which a lot of people think to be beyond them.
    • And yet my Shih Tzu consistently runs into the wall.
      • There's a trope for that: Absent-Minded Professor
      • Some breeds are smarter then others. Lap dogs such as Shih Tzus, pugs, etc. are notoriously dim, but then you have breeds like German Shepherds and Border Collies which are smarter then some humans.
      • That phrase "lap dogs" is the important one. Working breeds (anything named "shepherd", for instance) are smarter than breeds meant purely for companionship, because they were specifically bred to be smart enough to learn and follow commands; dumber breeds come from less selective programs that were usually focused on appearance rather than smarts.
      • Let's see working dogs have to work, typically in all weathers. Lap dogs lounge around being waited on hand-and-foot. Perhaps working dogs are bred only from those dogs dumb enough not to hide their intelligence once the "lap dog" opening came along.
  • For invertebrates, octopuses are pretty damn smart. The latest discovery in this area is of a species that carries coconut shells around to hide in.
  • Rats, for rodents, are very clever, being able to navigate mazes, (and how buttons and levers to get around them work), can learn by trial and error, and can be taught tricks. It's why they are often considered the ideal lab animal.
    • As noted on the subject of goldfish, part of this is because rats are highly social animals. This is also why they make such good pets; they can be litter trained, and learn to recognize humans as a food source and someone to play with. But they still need contact with other rats, so get two.
    • Squirrels are the chief rivals of rats for the title of "smartest rodent", as demonstrated by their phenomenal ability to outsmart the protections people use for their birdfeeders.
  • Crows in Japan and California have been seen using passing cars to crack walnuts. They even go to traffic crossings and only deposit and retrieve the nuts when it's safe.
  • Orangutans are notorious escape artists. They've discovered how to scale electric fences, how to pick locks, and (possibly most importantly) how to hide efforts at the previous two things from zookeepers. Give an orangutan a screwdriver, and it will hide it, then dismantle its cage with it once you're gone.
  • Reptiles. They may have smaller brains than mammals, but they're much more intelligent than we give them credit for. In the past, many attempts to gauge reptile intelligence came to the conclusion that they were incredibly stupid, but it turned out that this was only because reptiles see and evaluate the world differently from the way we mammals do. You can't train a snake to do something in the same way you can train a cat, because you need to understand how a snake's brain and senses make it perceive the world. More recent studies, reflecting on this idea, have shown that, among other things, corn snakes are able to navigate mazes, monitor lizards engage in play behavior and can distinguish numbers up to six, crocodiles learn faster than lab rats with little conditioning, and leopard geckos have distinct personalities. Smart, indeed.
    • In fact, many neurologists have begun to abandon the idea that brain size determines how intelligent an animal is. This should be obvious, because certain species of rodents have brain-to-body size ratios larger than that of humans.
      • This opens up even more possibilities for dinosaurs...
  • Cephalopods are geniuses. Octopuses can tell the difference between individual humans who interact with them, have hundreds of different moods and distinct personalities (which they reflect upon by changing their skin color) and can learn how to navigate mazes and open jars.
  • Sharks. Once thought of as mindless killing machines, they are now known to possess an intelligence close to that of the seals that they feed upon. Sharks will engage in play behavior and can eventually grow to recognize the humans who feed them.
  • Dolphins, anyone? A 2009 assessment of their cognitive ability has classified them as non-human people.
    • Not to mention that different pods of dolphins have their own dialects of echolocation communication, which serves as a limited language. Each pod has its own hunting strategies, which it passes down generation to generation by teaching their young how to do it. In particular, one famous pod of orcas near South America has learned how to catch sea lions by beaching themselves on the surf.
      • A study showed that dolphins have specific patterns of echolocation that are used to refer to individuals - in other words, they use names for each other.
  • How about elephants? They have developed their own morality, and perform acts of altruism simply because they think it's the right thing to do. They can also use tools with their trunk, which acts as a hand.
    • They can also get revenge. One elephant, who was angry at a group of humans for killing its mate, killed the cattle on the humans' farm. It knew that the humans liked the cattle. A less intelligent animal would just kill the humans. But this elephant decided to kill something that was close to the humans in the same way that they killed something that was close to it. Fridge Brilliance at its finest.
  • There have been studies showing that slime moulds can navigate mazes. Now, obviously, they don't have brains so they can't be intelligent in the way we understand it, but that just means it might be time to completely rethink our concept of intelligence.
  • Scientists have known for a long time that monkeys possess the ability to understand fairly complex games, and they've recently discovered that not only do some species of monkeys recognize when they're being cheated, they are not in the least bit happy about it.
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