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AstroChuck's avatar

From Fred Flintstone to Homer Simpson to SpongeBob Squarepants- Why do most cartoon characters only have four fingers on each hand??

Asked by AstroChuck (37461points) May 23rd, 2010 from iPhone

Makes it kinda hard for a pissed-off cartoon to give somebody the finger.

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13 Answers

Silhouette's avatar

That’s why! If they ran around flipping each other off the moms wouldn’t let their children watch. I wonder how many times Barney wanted to give Fred the finger?

ucme's avatar

Yeah there’s thumbthing missing allright.

filmfann's avatar

fingers are hard to draw. Even in South Park, which is computerized, the characters often don’t show fingers displayed.

chyna's avatar

Mickey Mouse has 3 fingers and a thumb. Strange. What I think it is, is
removed by CIA.

rangerr's avatar

Like @filmfann said, it’s easier to draw.
The more fingers, the harder it is to replicate them later especially without having unlimited time to do the drawing.

Jeruba's avatar

I noticed that about the Disney characters (and also their white gloves) when I was a little kid and counting fingers was still something to do. I thought then that it’s because they weren’t human. Up to now I haven’t come up with a better answer.

The gloves, I presume, are to spare us the disturbing sight of the disfigured claws, paws, wings, and fins that are functioning as hands.

HungryGuy's avatar

I have a book on cartooning. The answer is that five fingers are just too much detail to draw in a small space, unless you draw the hand really big or use really fine lines which won’t show up in newsprint or on film. That’s probably not as true as it once was, but it’s traditional now.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

Western animators discovered early on that five fingers were hard to draw and animate. Try it yourself sometime; it’s hard to simplify hands with four fingers and a thumb without making the palms look too wide or the fingers too small to animate easily (minus in close-ups). If you’re making your characters look round and simplified, three fingers is the way to go. Since then, I think it’s just become kind of tradition.

Of course, if you look at Disney feature films, the number of fingers on the character seems to have to do with what sort of “look” they were going for. In Snow White you’ll notice that Snow White has 5 fingers, but the dwarfs have four. That’s probably because Snow White was more of a graceful, beautiful character that was meant to look very human, whereas the dwarfs were more for comedic relief. Similarly, in Cinderella, Cinderella has five fingers and the mice have four. As @Jeruba noted, most non-human characters have four fingers.

In Japanese animation, early anime followed Western examples and gave their characters simplified forms, large eyes and four fingers. Astro Boy, which came out in the early 50’s, was originally drawn with three fingers or sometimes even one big mitten. However, by the 60’s it became most common to have him depicted with five fingers, although he does seem to have much larger hands with all five.

Since the mid 70’s, it’s become standard for anime characters to have five fingers, although you will sill find contemporary children’s anime like Anpanman with three (or, in this case, no) fingers.

Hope this explains some for you. :)

zenele's avatar

Is this General or can I ask a silly question? Did they ever make a cartoon version of the Princess Bride? Cuz then there’d be the Man with 6 fingers.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

@zenele I don’t know if there’s an animated film, but there is a computer game of Princess Bride that is animated. I wonder what the 6-fingered guy looks like in there! Kinda makes me want to get it, haha.

oreo45's avatar

I always thought it was because some people cant draw a hand very well. :/

janbb's avatar

Sillies – everybody knows that Toons doen’t have opposable thumbs!

Bastion's avatar

Animating 5 fingers is a real beast is all.

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