Exploring Anthropomorphism in Popular Movies


Anthropomorphism, the attribution of human characteristics to non-human entities, has been a part of human culture for thousands of years. From ancient gods and goddesses to modern-day children’s movies and books, the concept of anthropomorphism has fascinated and engaged people of all ages and backgrounds. In recent years, it has become increasingly popular in popular culture, as media companies and advertisers have found that anthropomorphic characters are relatable and appealing to audiences.

In this essay, we will explore the history and significance of anthropomorphism, and examine some of the ways it has been used in different forms of media over the years. Anthropomorphism can erase that fine line that distinguishes realism from fictional world.

History of Anthropomorphism

Anthropomorphism, the attribution of human characteristics to non-human entities, has existed in human culture throughout history. The ancient Egyptians, for example, portrayed their gods with human-like bodies and animal heads. At the same time, the Greeks and Romans had their anthropomorphic gods and goddesses, such as Zeus, Athena, and Mars. Anthropomorphism is a technique used in stories and folklore to impart moral lessons by giving animals human-like qualities.

In literature, anthropomorphism became popular during the Middle Ages, particularly in the bestiary tradition. Bestiaries were books that described various animals and often included moral or religious lessons. Animals were given human-like features and actions in these works and utilized as symbols to depict human virtues or vices. This tradition continued into the Renaissance and beyond, with works such as Aesop’s Fables and the tales of the Brothers Grimm featuring anthropomorphic animals.

Anthropomorphism also played a role in the development of modern science. During the Enlightenment, naturalists began to study animals and classify them based on their physical characteristics. However, they also often ascribed human-like behaviors and emotions to these animals, which helped to popularize the study of zoology and make it more accessible to the general public.

In the 20th century, anthropomorphism became popular in popular culture, particularly in animation and children’s literature. Walt Disney, for example, created numerous anthropomorphic characters, such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Winnie the Pooh, which became cultural icons.

Today, anthropomorphism continues to be used in various forms of media, from children’s books and movies to advertising and product design. It remains a powerful way to create engaging and relatable characters and to communicate complex ideas in a simple and accessible way.

Anthropomorphism in Different Movies

Anthropomorphism attributes human characteristics to non-human entities, such as animals or objects. It is a widespread technique used in movies to create relatable and engaging characters. Here are some examples of anthropomorphism in different movies:

Zootopia (2016)


This film takes place in a world where animals have evolved to live in a civilized society. The characters are anthropomorphized animals, such as rabbits, foxes, and lions, who work as police officers, criminals, and other occupations. They display human-like behavior, speech, and emotions.

Toy Story (1995)

Toy Story

In this movie, toys come to life and interact with each other when humans are not around. The toys have distinct personalities, emotions, and relationships that are similar to those of humans. The main characters are Woody, a cowboy doll, and Buzz Lightyear, a space ranger action figure.

The Lion King (1994)

The Lion King

The characters in this movie are anthropomorphized lions, zebras, meerkats, and other African animals. They have human-like relationships, emotions, and personalities. For example, Simba, the main character, goes through a coming-of-age story and learns important life lessons from his father and other animals.

Finding Nemo (2003)

Finding Nemo

The characters in this movie are anthropomorphized fish, such as Nemo, a young clownfish, and Dory, a regal blue tang fish. They have human-like personalities and interact with each other in a way that is relatable to humans. For example, they have conversations, show emotions, and form bonds.

WALL-E (2008)


The main character in this movie is a robot WALL-E, who lives alone on a post-apocalyptic Earth. Although he is a machine, WALL-E has a distinct personality and emotions. He falls in love with another robot named EVE and goes on a journey to save humanity.

These are just a few instances of how movies use anthropomorphism to create engaging characters and stories.


Anthropomorphism has a rich and varied history that spans cultures, religions, and artistic traditions. From ancient Egyptians and Greeks to current children’s tales and movies, Humans are drawn to non-humans with human traits and emotions. Anthropomorphism has taught moral and theological truths, popularized biology, and created interesting characters in literature, art, and popular culture. It is a powerful tool for communication, helping to make complex ideas more accessible and relatable to a broad audience. As such, it will likely remain a fixture of human culture for many years.

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