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This is like a standard Anthropomorphic Shift, except the shift is geared to the role or co-star a character is in a work, movie, short, cartoon, or episode. For example, an animal character appears as an Nearly-Normal Animal in one cartoon or episode, but appears as a Funny Animal in another.

This trope also includes examples that shift roles back and forth in a single work or shift back and forth depending on their mood. There are also a lot of characters do this intentionally to live a double life, going from walking on two legs to Running on All Fours depending on the company. The shift can either be intentional or unintentional.

The difference between a Anthropomorphic Shift and an Anthropomorphic Zig-Zag is that the former is what happens when animal and anthropomorphic characters in a work become progressively more human-like in appearance and behavior in later installments. The latter is a shift dependent either on the role or co-star the character has in a work or roles he/she has in a single work or his or her mood, or to live a double life.

This trope is by no means restricted to animals.

Furry Reminder is a related trope, as is Furry Denial.



  • In Madagascar, the animals would constantly go back and forth between walking on four legs and walking on two legs.
  • Remy and the other rats from Ratatouille can switch between walking on two legs and walking on four legs too.
    • Remy walks on two legs to keep his forepaws clean.
  • This is also true with the Pizza Planet truck from Toy Story, which was later seen in anthropomorphic form in the Pixar film Cars.
    • The three paintings, one of Lightning McQueen, one of Doc Hudson, and one of Flo and Ramone, make those four Cars characters look non-anthropomorphic and a little more realistic than usual.
    • And the toys from that movie themselves, who only come to life if no one's around. The only time they ever break that rule is if someone actually treated that toy very badly.
  • Any work where animals will communicate in human language whenever left alone, but communicate in animal language when with humans.
  • The electrical appliances from The Brave Little Toaster (except Radio, who doesn't have a face), who can actually make their faces disappear whenever they've been spotted by humans.
  • The gargoyles from Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame actually only come to life whenever Quasimodo's around. If Esmeralda/Phoebus/Frollo/etc. is with Quasimodo, then the gargoyles will all still stay put.
    • And yes, like the Toy Story example above, they too have exceptions: Except it's not the three gargoyles we're accustomed to who break their own rules, but rather an unnamed fourth gargoyle who comes to life to finish off Frollo at the end of the film.
  • The lawn ornaments from Gnomeo and Juliet.
  • In Mannequin, Roxie (a mannequin which comes to life apparently because of a time travel experiment) can only be seen in her animated form by the man who built her. If someone else enters the room, peeks into the window, etc., she's instantly frozen until they go away.
  • Naked Fievel.

Live Action TV

  • The titular sifaka lemur of the PBS children's show Zoboomafoo is always anthropomorphosized at the very beginning of each episode by being fed a different snack. However, at the end of each episode, Zoboo actually loses his anthropomorphism due to the effects of said snack wearing off.

Newspaper Comics


  • Mother 3: Boney has to impersonate a kid to get into Club Titiboo, so Lucas dresses him up with a shirt and cap and he walks on hind legs for the remainder of the chapter (but quickly switching back to all-fours when they're in the wilderness again).
  • In the Super Mario Bros. series of games, Koopas were originally depicted as quadrupedal turtles. As the series continued, they've been redesigned to walk on only two legs, and by the time of Paper Mario, they were completely anthropomorphized. However, in Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2, they've reverted back into being quadrupeds.
    • Before that, there were quadrupedal electrical enemy Koopas in Super Mario Sunshine.
    • However, Bowser and his son, Bowser Jr., both being Koopas, are completely immune to this even in these two games.
    • Also, Hammer Bros. and their ilk have always been bipedal, even in the original.


  • Justified in Freefall with Florence, who can run on all fours, but usually doesn't because it gets her hands dirty.
  • Mind you, this trope has nothing to do with the webcomic known as Sabrina Online, which is a furry webcomic with a main character named Zig Zag, 3/4ths skunk.

Western Animation