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"When casting a picture with "good guys" and "bad guys", these are important considerations. The "good guys" have to be small, ineffectual, cute, and associated with nonviolence. It doesn't matter if the real animal is that way or not. You are playing off the images in the viewers' subconscious, and if people grew up thinking a certain way that is where you must start. To have a mean and cruel kitten terrorizing a family of nervous, flighty bears is an uphill fight for everybody."—The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation
There is a tendency, especially in animated works involving animal characters, often Funny Animals or Talking Animals, to cast characters of a certain species as bad guys and characters of a different species as the good guys.
This trope is invoked whenever a work attempts to inform the audience who the good guys and who the bad guys are based solely on their species.
This is different from Animal Jingoism in that here, there may or may not be a natural hatred, and that one side is definitely evil and the other side is definitely good.
Keep in mind that not every animal character in a work is necessarily going to align with the alignment most associated with their species. Aversions do occur and is completely up to the discretion of the individual creator. The following list is not meant to pass judgement on the value of the species listed, but simply to associate the species with the alignment most often associated them when species coding is involved. Not every work will employ species coding and thus alignment of the characters will remain independent of the character's species, leaving the species of each character to be an aesthetic choice rather than a visual cue towards their alignment. These works are not examples and should not be listed.
- Alligators and especially Crocodiles (May double as Predators Are Mean)
- Birds in some cases, more specifically ducks, Ravens and Crows, vultures, and parrots (though parrots are often portrayed as either good as well as nice, Good Is Not Nice, or Jerks With A Heart Of Gold as well)
- Cats (though they can be good as well as nice, Good Is Not Nice, or Jerks With A Heart Of Gold as well)
- Ducks (though they can be either good and nice, Good Is Not Nice, Jerks With A Heart Of Gold as well, not just evil, mean, or bad)
- Humans (Like it or not, we're nearly always the villains, though children are often exceptions)
- Many Predators
- Ravens and Crows (though ravens are Guile Heroes in Pacific Northwest Native American folklore).
- Reptiles, especially Snakes
- Weasels (ferrets aren't portrayed so negatively though)
- Mice especially when paired with villainous felines.
- Most Herbivores
- Skunks (Usually as Comic Relief)
- Woodland Creatures
Either/Or (It all depends on the writer):
- Good Bees
- Bad Bees
- Rabbits and Hares
- Humans, cats, parrots, and ducks, as noted above, can be either/or as well.
See also Color Coded for Your Convenience and Dress-Coded for Your Convenience for when you want to do this with Non-Non-Humans. See What Measure Is a Non-Cute?. Whenever you expect the above codes to hold true, but they don't, you may be dealing with a Killer Rabbit
- Maus: Very much like the below example, the cats (Nazis) were bad, mice (Jews) were good. There were good and bad Polish pigs.
- All Germans were cats, Nazi or otherwise. The nice German lady married to a Jewish mouse is still a striped cat (and their children are mice with tiger-stripes).
Film -- Animated
- An American Tail: The mice were the good guys, the cats were the bad guys.
- Not ALL the cats. There were a few good ones.
- In The Lion King, Hyenas are the bad guys, and lions (With the exception of Scar) are the good guys.
- Somewhat sympathetic Mooks, however, as much of the hyena's villany appeared to be due to the fact that they hated the lions and Mufasa's advisor since the pride was keeping them from good hunting grounds, and the hyenas were starving.
- A Bugs Life: Ants are good, grasshoppers (actually locusts) are bad.
- Played with in Kung Fu Panda, with villainous wolves and crocodiles in an Imagine Spot and rabbits, pigs and ducks for civilians... actually, any species that doesn't have more than two specimens is destined to stand out, for better or worse. The villain, however, is a snow leopard.
- Rock-a-Doodle: Owls are evil, all other animals are good.
- The Secret of NIMH and its source novel, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, averted this for the most part; rats were both good and bad guys, the owl was terrifying but also wise and helpful if you dared to approach him, and the crow is not at all evil. However, Dragon is a prime example of Cats Are Mean.
- Cat City: Mice are good, Cats Are Mean, rats are mean but clumsy. Subverted with the bats, who are first menacing, but become friends with one of the protagonists.
Film -- Live Action
- Cats and Dogs: A movie in which cats were evil and try to Take Over the World and dogs were good trying to save the world. In the sequel, however, some of the cats are actually good, but the villain is still a cat.
- The first Chronicles of Narnia movie had the armies of Aslan and the Witch pretty much divided among these lines. In the second movie, however, nearly all of the non-humans of Narnia (minus a Hag, Werewolf, and Black Dwarf) fight together, and a minotaur sacrifices himself to save the monarchs.
- Science Fiction variation: in Men in Black 3 Big Bad Boris the Animal and his (otherwise unseen) race, the Boglodites, are Always Chaotic Evil Omnicidal Maniacs. This is so the audience doesn't feel too bad when the entire species ends up extinct.
- Redwall played this to a T. The few exceptions were Gingivere and his descendant Julian, who were both good cats, and Veil, who was possibly slightly maybe good. A couple of birds of prey who would normally eat mice and other small rodents had their turn on the side of good, too. But apart from the few notable exceptions, even Deyna in Taggerung, who was raised to be evil's champion, wound up being good because he was an otter.
- There were a couple other exceptions, such as the searat who reformed in The Bellmaker and the traitor shrew in Marlfox. But for the most part, yeah, it was Good Species/ Evil Species.
- The Deptford Mice books fall under this, too. Mice are good, rats are evil; squirrels are good, bats are good, and the main villain is a cat. There are exceptions, rats that are sort-of good and nasty mice, but for the most part, convention is followed.
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe split talking beasts more or less along the standard lines between those on the side of the Witch and those on the side of Aslan. This didn't show up so much in the rest of the series when Narnia was united, but "evil" animals didn't show up much at all then.
- Garfield the Cat vs. The either evil or spotlight stealing dogs.
- The villains of the Pokémon series games primarily use Poison and Dark-type Pokemon during battles.
- Angry Birds: Pigs are evil, birds are good.
- Donkey Kong Country: Crocodiles are evil, monkeys are good.
- Tom and Jerry: With Tom being the occasionally antagonistic cat, and Jerry being the allegedly lovable hero.
- Ace again, this time in Batman the Brave And The Bold.
- In Biker Mice From Mars, the Martian mice are always good (with the exception of one traitor), while the Plutarkian Fish People from the original series and the Catalonian cats from the Revival are always evil.
- Non-animal example: In the Transformers continuities, most of the Autobots turn into ground vehicles, while most of the Decepticons turn into aircraft.
- Beast Wars brings it back around to this; the Maximals all turn into either mammals or birds (until Dinobot and Blackarachnia become Maximals themselves), while the Predacons all turn into either reptiles or arthropods.
- The Battle Beasts in Transformers Headmasters followed a similar idea with reptiles, amphibians and sealife as evil, and warm-blooded species as good. Most (yet not all) the Transformers of that same era followed a pattern of vehicular Autobots and beast Decepticons.