"One thing most furries agree on is this: They aren't sex freaks."
—Melissa Meinzer, "Animal Passions"
A furry is, at the base, a fan of anthropomorphic animal characters (frequently and somewhat ironically abbreviated as simply anthro). Exactly where on the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism these characters are doesn't matter, but most of them fall under Petting Zoo People and Funny Animals, and they're not on either extreme end. The characters may in some instances also be shapeshifters, transforming from fully human form to some kind of animal.
The majority of the fandom consists of people who enjoy fiction and art centered around furry characters. They may simply take part in what others create, or they may be creators themselves. Many, but not all, also have a fursona, which is a furry character representing the individual.
On the deeper end of the fandom, which is a minority, there are people with anthropomorphic animal fetishes, and a minority of them are erotic cosplayers. Despite the small size of this group, they have gathered the most attention in the fandom, much thanks to CSI, ER, MTV, American Dad, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Vanity Fair, Maxim and Something Awful.
Another subculture of the fandom is Otherkin. These are people who believe they are, in real life, not actually fully human. It may be that they claim to have an animal spirit, which may or may not be a real animal (Therians limit themselves to real animals). Some go so far as to disown the human race entirely, and claim they've been born as the wrong species. Even Otherkin, who're mocked by other furries, mock these people, to give some context to where they are on the social ladder.
There is a significant stigma to identifying yourself as a furry, mainly because on The Internet, they are often the butt of many jokes. For this reason, there are a lot of people who have the same interests, but don't identify as furries. On the other hand, if someone does like works with furry characters, some people are inclined to label them a furry. They may like the works for the furry characters, but they may also like them for simply being great stories. Who exactly is a furry is up for debate, but the only people you can be certain of are the ones who identify themselves as such.
Also, meet Dr. Kathy Gerbasi, social psychologist to the furs.
- Aerith and Bob: Inevitable; since everyone's fursona isn't part of the same storyline, and there isn't even a real consensus on why furries would come to exist, there certainly won't be a consensus on what their names should sound like. At a furry con, you might see 4 furs standing right next to each other named Joe, PierogiWolf, Jalloway the Alchemist, and Redpiranhawolfdragonyellowbelliedsapsuckertalontoenailblade Darkreavercrownslayersmashmunchstompdicepureeblendreapersong the Eructative. It's compounded by the fact that most furs that have been in the fandom since the 80s don't have a fursona and go by their mundane names all the time, which really sticks out these days.
- Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Blue markings are particularly popular. Tattoos that are somehow visible on top of the fur are also popular.
- Animal Stereotypes: Interestingly, the stereotype for a particular species in the furry fandom often will be different from what it traditionally is.
- Animation Age Ghetto: Inverted. Given the fandom's reputation, a lot of people refuse to believe that there's anything in it that isn't weird-ass fetish porn...
- Anthropomorphic Shift
- Artistic License: Biology: Often used to point out common anatomical failures (rabbits with paw pads, male kangaroos with pouches) or more "human" traits (Non-Mammal Mammaries, feet on unugulates). Most people often justify it by saying "It's fiction" or "It's a toon" and pointing out that most anthros wouldn't exist in real life anyways.
- Some reptiles tend to have smooth hair-less skin instead of scales, often justified by scales being too time-consuming to draw.
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: Male characters are often drawn without visible nipples, with the conceit that "the fur covers them" or "The reptilians/avians don't have them". Even in art with visible nudity "below the belt", including porn. However, the same is rarely true of females, except on sites where nudity is against the rules and it's used as a loophole. That being said, females with Barbie Doll Anatomy were a big trend on Yerf, a site that sought to be The Moral Substitute for art gallery sites that allowed adult art like the VCL. Ironically, a piece with Godiva Hair was once deleted by Yerf's admins because of the "implied nudity".
- But You Screw One Goat!: People who hate the fandom for its sexual side tend to have this as their reason more often than not.
- Catgirl: The war-torn border of furrydom and often a very big target for haters, depending on the amount of cat features on the person (or the other way around).
- Media Research Failure: Almost every mention/article about furries in the media will suffer from this to some degree, even if the article is written by a furry (since not all furries are in agreement as to what the fandom is about). Making things more difficult is that furries have become very hesitant to appear on the news.
- Darker and Edgier, Hotter and Sexier: The fandom as we know it basically kicked off with a bunch of independent writers and artists and their fans giving the finger to the Animation Age Ghetto.
- Daydream Believer: Otherkin and Therians fall into this category, sometimes even refusing to be called by their human names. Some even go as far as to claim all Humans Are Bastards. It's not easy to have a normal conversation with those few.
- Deconstruction: The fiction I Wish I Was Furry (link is text-NSFW) and the The Problems With Cross-Breeding comics.
- Dead Horse Trope: "All furries are wolves, foxes and cats". There's a lot of furry art featuring other species out there, even the "squicky" ones like spiders, sharks, and snakes.
- Did Not Do the Research: Some people believe that the more perverted elements of the fandom are a new development, whereas in reality, decades ago furry porn was being published in Underground Comics with names like "Bizarre Sex". For that matter, most people who assume sex is the focal point of the fandom have clearly never been on ArtSpots or Yerf.
- Esoteric Happy Ending: In many transformation comics and fiction.
- Even Nerds Have Standards: Furries tend to be a punchline for most non-furries, even ones that are indifferent or friendly to them. Among furries, things start getting weird.
- Everybody Has Lots of Sex: Present in some fiction and roleplaying. More common in some parts of the fandom than others.
- Everything's Better with Sparkles: The SPARKLEDOGS! It is impossible to tell just how seriously they take those things.
- Exotic Equipment: Present in some erotic and/or particularly detailed art. Usually justified in that the characters are not humans.
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Some roleplays tend to be like this.
- Follow the Leader: Since many fursonas seem to start as glorified fancharacters (very few will admit this), it may be possible to predict the trends of the fandom by the latest anthro-animal related media coming out.
- That includes webcomics. An awful lot of succubi and incubi came out after Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures.
- The Sonic the Hedgehog series is may be single-handedly responsible for a very large portion of the furry fandom. The Lion King and Star Fox are also cited as major influences.
- The mock essay "How to Be a Furry" had a lot of fun with this, pointing out who allegedly set the stage for various character-design trends.
- Ever since the debut and popularity surge of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, a high number of furries have created alternate pony characters for themselves.
- Freaky Is Cool: Obviously quite common in the fandom.
- Funny Animals and Civilized Animals: They walk on two legs and often wear clothes, but unlike Petting Zoo People, they keep the basic shape and proportions of their respective species.
- Furries Are Easier to Draw: Or maybe just more fun. Many an artist has straight-up admitted one or the other.
- Furry Comic: Well, duh.
- Furry Confusion: Often mocked. Some people run with this, their fursona is "feral" (as opposed to centauroid or anthropomorph), a normal-looking animal, just able to talk, and sometimes sports a hairstyle.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Duh.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: Present in almost every single furry fiction that has humans as a major race. There are aversions where the one human character was a visitor from another dimension or the last of his species.
- Humans Are Ugly: Stated by a huge number of furs with varying degrees of seriousness which other furs inevitably fail to notice. By definition, though, you have to at least think there's some appeal to the idea of not being completely human.
- Hypocritical Fandom: Most trolling done to the Furry Fandom is done by other furries. Also, as this is the Internet, perfectly nice people are turned into perpetually angry sociopaths because they don't suffer consequences.
- I Am Not Shazam: If you get into technical aspects, "furries" refer to characters with fur (e.g., mammals). For reptilian characters, those are "scalies", as for the birds, "avians". The list goes on. However, a commonly accepted blanket term for a member of the fandom is "furry".
- I Just Want to Be Normal: "I am new to the fandom. How can I tell my parents about being a furry?" Answer: you don't.
- Image Boards: Fchan, Ychan, The Goddamned Furry Board, Paws and many more not listed here. Some of these host frightening art, so Google at your own risk.
- A lot of the Furry Fandom hate can be traced back to a favorite "pastime" of a certain imageboard whose name is best not uttered in such a sensitive article.
- Ink Suit Actor: Most furry artists depict "themselves" as furry characters, known as "fursonas", either due to the awkwardness of inserting human characters into a furry universe or just because they want to. Some are deliberately drawn to strongly resemble their creators.
- Internet Backlash: Openly identifying as a furry is loaded. Although acceptance seems to be spreading, and even Something Awful tolerates open furries if they're civil, i.e. not an Attention Whore or complete nutcase, those are banned once they stop being entertaining. However, a good deal of the more civil sites seem to accept or ignore furries these days. It seems it's fairly safe to be a furry nowadays so long as you don't walk into the lion's den.
- Male-to-Female Universal Adaptor: Sometimes played straight in porn with animals that should work differently. Yes, this can and does proceed to its [il]logical conclusions, in the form of Interspecies Romances and Biological Mash Ups. It seems that "species" of furries are more like human racial groups than actual biological species. This leads to the question of why there even are still distinct species in this fictitious 'verse.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: Some furries just can't make up their damn minds. Convoluted family trees and Improbable Species Compatibility are usually used as a Hand Wave.
- Money, Dear Boy: Even if you don't really identify with the fandom there's a pretty good amount of money to be made if you're a remotely talented artist willing to draw other people's fursonas. The more you're willing and able to contribute to draw naughty stuff, the more money to be made.
- The Moral Substitute: There are communities of Christian furries.
- Most Writers Are Human: Probably how the whole Furry Fandom got created was because of this fact.
- Mr. Fanservice and Ms. Fanservice: A godly number of characters, including numerous artists' own fursonas.
- Non-Mammal Mammaries: Usually played to the ground, often a bit of a Base Breaker given how people point out that anatomically, it would be especially painful on avians (and by extension, gryphons) considering what mammaries are actually for...
- Older Than They Think: The modern form of the fandom as we know it today was first established in the early 80s, but there were people who could easily be called "furry" in the 60s. However, if you consider the mere liking of something not human "furry", then you can go as far back as ancient times. The animal-headed Egyptians gods are the usual reference.
- Original Character: Or as they call them, "fursonas." Pretty much everyone has one.
- Our Centaurs Are Different: Often generalized as "taurs" to differentiate between the traditional exclusively-equine version. Usually have the lower body of a normal animal and the upper body of a human or more conventional furry.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Associated with inflated egos and/or uncreativity. However, not everyone falls in the category, but don't be surprised that even within its own little fandom there's severe conflict.
- Our Souls Are Different: Some furries will claim this.
- Pantomime Animal: An actor playing an animal character in live-action media.
- Petting Zoo People: The Trope Codifier. It has be come the de facto standard form for characters created by the fandom's artists.
- Power Perversion Potential: Many animals have traits and abilities humans don't have. Some furries like to make anthropomorphic animals have sex. You do the math.
- Required Secondary Powers: Assumed for some species (Aquatics, Avians, Dragons, etc), depending on where on the Sliding Scale of Realistic Versus Fantastic a particular character or world is.
- Rule of Cute
- Rule of Personification Conservation: Generally, a character or a cast of characters should only be animals if the plot requires it to (unless the author happens to be a furry, of course).
- Rule 34: Although the fandom has shifted heavily away from being an actual fandom of existing works and towards being a community of creators who are also fans of each other, this is still plenty common.
- Seldom-Seen Species: People are known to pick these as their fursonas just to dodge the many Animal Stereotypes.
- Silent Majority: It's rather telling that the less salacious media articles come from writers who had to go undercover in accordance with conventions' anti-press policies.
- Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism: Most furries are Petting Zoo People, simply augmenting a normal human with fur, ears, paws, muzzle, and other animal characteristics. Other roleplayers are "non-anthro", or simply animals with human personalities.
- Snake People: Nagas are surprisingly popular, though they're most popular in the deeper end of the fandom.
- Special Snowflake Syndrome: Once the fandom took off, it seems like everyone's fursona has to stand out in some way- wings,tentacles, more wings, obscure species, cross-breeds, bright colours, beautiful Blue Jay-patterned Angel wings, etc. Lately, having your character be a mundane, common species is what stands out.
- Species Surname: Most furries will use a screen name with the species of their fursona.
- Stock Dinosaurs: Mostly because they're the most well-known ones. You'll see some lesser known ones every now and then but most commonly people pick Raptors because they're naturally bipedal.
- Stop Being Stereotypical: For every furry acting outrageously and/or inappropriately, you can be sure that there are perhaps a dozen that Face Palm (Face Paw?) to the extent that a number of furries keep their 'furriness' a complete secret, for fear of comparison. See Vocal Minority below.
- Stripperiffic: Frequently, though far from universally. Sometimes Justified though that some designs wouldn't allow for some clothing anyway.
- Tabletop Games: Ironclaw, Furry Pirates, Lands Of Luste, and Albedo. Not to mention that houseruled furry races are fairly common in D&D.
- Talking Animals, Speech Impaired Animals, Partially Civilized Animals, and Nearly Normal Animals: They are called "ferals" or "quads" by the fandom.
- Transformation Comic: You see some that get rather adult; but there are plenty of G-rated ones. You just never hear about them.
- Troll: To an extreme. The trolling of the furry fandom on common web-sites has gone well beyond Acceptable Targets into rather horrific Memetic Mutation. Look at any video in YouTube featuring furries in any way—the amount of trolling you get is simply astounding Some of them are rather normal (in trolling standards), the others are rather extreme.
- Uncanny Valley: This can happen to some people, although a lot of the more "toony" or stylized art doesn't tend to be that Uncanny. Realistic Art can be rather uncanny, but the most Uncanny art are photomorphs, especially because most people don't seem to realize that you can't just slap random animal features on humans to make 'em look like a furry and hope it looks decent.
- Unusual Euphemism: All over the place, in both the traditional "awkward topics" sense and in more innocent things. Hands will be paws, feet will be footpaws, spouses will be mates, and some furries even prefer sillier euphemisms like "headfur" for hair.
- Vocal Minority: The reason as to why the Furry Fandom has a bad image in the first place.
- What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: The reason why there's so many foxes, wolves and cats in the first place. It's also why birds, insects, spiders, Fish People, and whole lot of reptiles are rare in the first place.
- The Wiki Rule: WikiFur is basically the resource for information about furry cons and gatherings, although it usually trails off into stubs and vanity pages about anything else. Still, it's one of the growing number of sites to start out hosted on Wikia and gain enough support to get its own server.
- You Sexy Beast: Furries have done this with anthropomorphic wolves and Werewolves, usually ones on the more sane-when-transformed side of Our Werewolves Are Different.
- Yiff: The Trope Namer.
- short for Furry Persona
- read: Wikia drove them off with their advertisement barrage and domain takeovers