[[quoteright:340:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Electric_Company_2554.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:340:"We're gonna turn it on, we're gonna bring you the power!"]]

->''"[[PunctuatedForEmphasis Hey you GUUUUUUYYYYYYS!]]"''

EdutainmentShow that ran from 1971-77 on Creator/{{PBS}} (the last two seasons reran until 1985) from Children's Television Workshop, the company that previously brought the world ''Series/SesameStreet''. Its main purpose was to teach reading to reluctant readers by using SketchComedy, but its clever writing, memorable characters (such as Easy Reader, Fargo North Decoder, J. Arthur Crank, Jennifer of the Jungle, Paul the Gorilla), appearances by Franchise/SpiderMan, animated inserts with the superhero Letterman, and psychedelic Scanimation visuals made it a cult hit with all ages.

The cast was made up of a diverse group of performers such as Rita Moreno, who was already a well-known actress in her own right. Creator/BillCosby was a cast member in Season 1, and "The Adventures of Letterman" shorts featured the voices of GeneWilder, Zero Mostel, and Joan Rivers. But most notable was a young and then-unknown MorganFreeman, who played Easy Reader ([[OldShame and has been trying to live it down ever since]]). Other cast members included Skip Hinnant (best known as the voice of ''WesternAnimation/FritzTheCat''), Judy Graubart (a member of the improvisational comedy troupe ''The Second City''), Luis Avalos, Jim Boyd, Hattie Winston, and Lee Chamberlin. In addition to the adult cast, there was a FakeBand called the Short Circus, which consisted of 11- to 17-year-olds; [[TwoFirstNames June Angela]] was the only member of the Short Circus to stay the whole series' run. Other notable members included Irene Cara, later to become a hit-making solo artist; Todd Graff, brother of ''Mr. Belvedere'' actress Ilene Graff, and Denise Nickerson, at the time known for playing Violet Beauregarde in ''Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory''.
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In the 2009 ReTool, four [[KidHero teenagers]] use the power of the "Word Ball" to thwart the Pranksters, a group of small mayhem-loving teenagers. See the "Characters" link at the top of this page for tropes relating to each character.
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!!"tr" "opes" "tropes":
[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:1971-77 Version]]
* AffectionateParody: Of the historical figures who appeared in sketches, such as IsaacNewton and [[UsefulNotes/TheAmericanRevolution Paul Revere]]. Inverted in [[HarsherInHindsight the end]] [[HilariousInHindsight of a sketch]] featuring ChristopherColumbus (played by, [[HilariousInHindsight hilariously enough,]] MorganFreeman).
* ArsonMurderAndJaywalking: [[ScaryTeeth The Teeth,]] according to the newspaper, has eaten "New York, New Jersey, and a dozen jelly doughnuts!"
* AttackOfTheFiftyFootWhatever: Do not bother this tiny person. Or he will send his [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin big]] brother after you!
* TheBadGuyWins: Surprisingly for a children's show, sometimes Spider-Man would fail to defeat the [[VillainOfTheWeek Villain Of The Day]].
* BilingualBonus: Frequently occurred among characters played by native ''hispanoparlantes'' Luis Avalos and Rita Moreno. A good example were the "Pedro's Plant Place" sketches. (Another bonus: in that, Maurice the guard plant spoke a language of his own!)
* BreadEggsBreadedEggs: Here, it's an educational tool. Two silhouetted faces going "Ch." "Ew." "Chew." "Bl." "Ew." "Blew." And so on.
* ButtMonkey: J. Arthur Crank was usually this. Actually, many of Jim Boyd's characters were this too.
* CatchPhrase:
** If you came to this page, you know it: HEY... YOU... GUUUUUUUUUUUUUYS!
** [[WhoWritesThisCrap "Who's the dummy writing this show?"]]
* CelebrityParadox: In a "Spidey Super Stories" segment, Spider-Man sits in front of a TV to watch his favorite show: TheElectricCompany.
* ChainOfCorrections
* CheesyMoon: There is a sketch where Fargo North is an astronaut in space who receives orders to proceed to the moon. He protests that is impossible since the Moon is made of green cheese and his exasperated partner reminds him that he was told otherwise in training.
* ComedicSociopathy: The Corsican Twins
* ComicallyMissingThePoint: Frequently used in the skits to teach words.
* ComputerGeneratedImages: Scanimate, then a cutting-edge analog video synthesizer, was a constant treat. It allowed humans to interact with words doing all sorts of things for, with, ''and against'', the characters.
* {{Corpsing}}: A rare example happening off-screen. In a ballet sequence to illustrate the word "sun," the three dancers are joined by MorganFreeman (yes, in ballet costume too) with a letter "t," shoves himself in to create the word [[WeirdSun "stun."]] [[ThrowItIn The musicians off-screen audibly join in his chuckling until Joe Raposo calls them to attention with his baton.]]
* CrossOver: Big Bird, Grover and Oscar the Grouch from ''Series/SesameStreet'' all paid visits in separate episodes.
** The "Spidey Super Stories" comic.
** A primetime Creator/{{ABC}} special in 1974, ''Out to Lunch'', featured the ''Electric Company'' cast and the ''Sesame'' Muppets.
* CutASliceTakeTheRest: A staple. When it was used in a live segment, the character doing so remarked that he'd "learned this from the Spellbinder [Letterman's animated foe]."
* DagwoodSandwich: {{Deconstructed}} in that the ingredients are actually given for "our delicious '''and''' sandwich": "ham ''and'' cheese ''and'' tomato ''and'' bacon ''and'' lettuce ''and'' baloney ''and'' cream cheese ''and'' celery ''and'' chopped meat ''and'' soy sauce ''and'' coleslaw ''and'' meat loaf ''and'' pot roast ''and'' olives ''and'' tuna fish ''and'' turkey ''and'' shrimp ''and'' corned beef ''and'' peanut butter ''and'' liverwurst!" This is subverted when the customer, when told there is no salami, no longer wants it!
* DrivenToMadness: The "sweet rolls" sketch and its [[LiveActionAdaptation Live Action Adaptations]]
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: From the first season:
** A puppet chicken named Lorelai (voiced by Jim Boyd, who was mostly off-screen that season)
** In the earliest episodes, uncredited children were in some skits, a la SesameStreet.
** During Friday episodes – where the extended closing credits were played – aired during the first two months of the show's life, an extended version of the corporate credits theme (played every day) was used. The Dec. 31, 1971 show was the first to use a bright marching tune unique to the closing credits, and that theme would be used through the end of the 1972-1973 season.
** The episode number was written on a piece of paper, illuminated by a lit match.
** Bill Cosby as a full-fledged cast member. Some of his material would be re-used in later seasons, making him seem more like a recurring SpecialGuest. It's odd to see him in those first season ensemble pieces.
* EducationalSong: Using GenreRoulette
* EndOfSeriesAwareness: The last episode aired, #130B, ends with the entire cast (except Rita Moreno, who had left the show by that point), singing a song that ends, "''The show is done. We hate to run. We're sorry, but that's all.''"
* EverythingsBetterWithMonkeys: Paul the Gorilla.
* {{Fonts}}: Franklin Gothic was its stock in trade, perfect for the psychedelic [[ComputerGeneratedImages Scanimate sequences]].
* FracturedFairyTale: Two kinds. There was the feature "A Very Short Book." There were also several skits that were based on, and often {{deconstructed}} FairyTales, including ''Literature/SnowWhite'' and ''Literature/{{Cinderella}}.''
* FunnyForeigner: With his Anthony Quinn-like ability to do a plethora of accents, Luis Avalos frequently played this. Also, Skip Hinnant sometimes did mangled British accents.
* GeniusDitz: Fargo North is a skilled decoder (though it sometimes takes him a few wrong guesses to arrive at the correct answer), but is otherwise a complete space cadet. After helping Alison (Denise Nickerson) establish that the message "Your desk is on fire" should end with an exclamation point, his reaction to the news that the message is for him is to chuckle as he bids her farewell, then phone the fire department and engage in small talk for a while before finally divulging the reason he has called: "MY DESK IS ON FIRE!"
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: Check out Rita Moreno performing "Wild," complete with VictoriasSecretCompartment
* JunglePrincess: Jennifer of the Jungle.
* LargeHamRadio: Mel Mounds. "Sounds righteous, delight-eous and outta-sighteous!"
* {{Leitmotif}}: For the Fargo North, Decoder sketches.
* LiveActionAdaptation: Probably the UrExample for this trope relative to WesternAnimation, as it occasionally remade its own animated sequences into live-action skits, sometimes {{Lampshading}} and [[TheParody Parodying]] the original. Either way, HilarityEnsues.
* {{Malaproper}}s: The Giggle Goggle girls.
* MediumAwareness: One sketch starred both Dr. Doolots and Fargo North, Decoder, with the latter visiting the former to find the missing word ("is") in his "The doctor ___ in" sign. When the missing word is discovered (having been eaten by Paul the Gorilla), the closing theme from the Fargo North sketches plays, leading Dr. Doolots to ask what Fargo's theme music is doing in his office.
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: Fargo North appears to have been based on PeterSellers' Inspector Clouseau, although the voice is more of a rip-off of [[Series/GetSmart Maxwell Smart]]. (Skip Hinnant admitted this was on purpose in the PBS pledge drive special ''The Electric Company's Greatest Hits and Bits''.)
** The recurring character of Dr. Dolots was an amalgam of [[Creator/MarxBrothers Groucho and Harpo Marx]].
* NurseryRhyme: {{Deconstructed}} in "A Very Short Book" segments. In an animated segment, a Music/FatsDomino {{Expy}} cat [[CoverVersion does a jazzy soul take]] on "Hey Diddle Diddle," with [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin a cat playing the fiddle.]] And "Rub-a-Dub-Dub" was remade as:
-->Rinky-dink-dink
-->Three men in a sink
-->The butcher, the baker, and Freddy the fink
-->Fred gave a tug and pulled out the plug
-->And I think that sink will soon sink
* OnTheNext: Usually follows a format in which a clip from the next episode plays, and a cast member announces, "Tune in next time, when [character] says [a word or phrase appears onscreen, accompanied by one SoundEffectBleep for each syllable]."
** Episodes from the last four seasons recycle these as {{Precap}}s, with "Tune in next time" replaced with, "Today on ''The Electric Company''..."
** The first season didn't use these; instead, the final scene would be "And now, the last word", and would show a word next to a bare light bulb, which would then be turned off by a hand pulling its pull-chain. Usually, the word would be repeated out loud in the dark.
* OurGhostsAreDifferent: Such as in "Ga''ll''oping Sa''dd''le" sketch, a {{Western}} pastiche.
* ParentalBonus
* PoliceAreUseless: The show took this trope as far as was possible for a children's show. Police were portrayed many times as either incompetent, outsmarted by the criminals, or even crime victims themselves. When they actually apprehended anybody, the criminals were then the less competent ones.
* PrimaDonnaDirector: Otto, a real [[IncrediblyLamePun drama queen!]] Justified, apart from [[TheBully bullying the actors]] and terrorizing cue card holder [[BeleagueredAssistant Marcello]] (MorganFreeman), as she is [[SurroundedByIdiots surrounded by actors who constantly flub their lines.]]
* PunctuatedForEmphasis: HEY... YOU... GUUUUUUUUUUUUUYS!
* PunnyName: Fargo North, Decoder (Fargo, North Dakota); J. Arthur Crank (British film producer J. Arthur Rank); Dr. Dolots (''Literature/DoctorDolittle''); Julia Grownup (Julia Child, "The French Chef"); Morgan Freeman's Easy Reader (''Film/EasyRider''); Short Circus ([[MakesSenseInContext short circuit]]); Johnny Charge (JohnnyCash).
* ScaryTeeth: PlayedForLaughs as a couple experiences the terror of [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin The Teeth]]. Subverted as said Teeth proclaims, [[LukeYouAreMyFather "Look dad, no cavities!"]]
* ShoutOut: Whenever Letterman would come in to save the day, Joan Rivers would make a speech reminiscent of one used for ''Franchise/{{Superman}}''.
-->Faster than a rolling O! Stronger than silent E! Able to leap Capital T in a single bound! It's a word, it's a plan, it's Letterman!
** Every "Love of Chair" sketch would end with the narrator and a cast member asking random questions, the second-to-last of which was always, "What about Naomi?" referring to producer Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal, mother of [[JakeGyllenhaal Jake]] and [[MaggieGyllenhaal Maggie]].
** In a courtroom sketech, the participants rap a snippet of [[RowanAndMartinsLaughIn "Here Comes the Judge"]]
* SoapOpera: "Love of Chair," a {{parody}} of the Creator/{{CBS}} soap opera ''Love of Life'' that even used the same continuity announcer (Ken Roberts).
* TheSpeechless: Spider-Man, in the "Spidey Super Stories" live-action skits, speaks only with word balloons.
* {{Sting}}: The show had a cool collection of these to conclude skits. A few were specific to certain themes, such as Western ([[StockSoundEffects trumpet sounding like a horse whinny]]) or medieval parodies ({{Parody}} of BaroqueMusic, with concluding {{Rimshot}}-like bell). Even Fargo North Decoder had one that {{parodied}} the opening theme for the sketch.
* TheTelevisionTalksBack: In a skit taking place in a TV shop, not only did the TV talk back, ''it turned itself on'' - "when it wasn't plugged in!"
* TheUnintelligible: Maurice, the guard plant in Pedro's Plant Place. Yet he could make sounds that allowed him to take part in a "Soft Shoe Silhouette" routine. Yet he actually spoke in his first ever appearance (it was the voice of Jim Boyd doing a FunnyForeigner it) and never did so again.
* UnintentionalPeriodPiece: In illustrating the "fr" consonant blend, the word "A''fr''o" was sometimes used.
* VegetarianVampire: Morgan Freeman's Vincent the Vegetable Vampire, of course (though WordOfGod says that he was originally supposed to be {{Dracula}}).
* {{Visual Pun}}s: Made learning grammar fun!
* WhoWritesThisCrap: The CatchPhrase "Who's the dummy writing this show?"
* WhosOnFirst: Not with a person, but, true to the program, a word. MorganFreeman and Lee Chamberlin start an escalating exchange when he is offering the word '''"what."'''
* WithCatlikeTread: In "O-U (The Hound Song)", a hound sings very loudly about how he dare not make a sound.
* WordSaladHumor: As educational as it was silly!
* WordSaladLyrics: Often, the only thing the words had in common were similar sounds or consanant blends, such as this birthday song parody:
--> Happy birthday, Miss '''Jones''', you sure got nice '''bones!'''
* WordsCanBreakMyBones: Literally.
** In an animated ChickenLittle parody, the [[TheSkyIsFalling iconic phrase]] appears on the top of the screen and the wolf (wearing a suit) thinks he has dinner when the sentence ''falls'' on him, [[LaserGuidedKarma sending him to the ground.]]
** In a {{Western}} skit, a cowboy (Jim Boyd) was constantly annoyed by a ''sentence'' in the air, to the point of pushing him as it made slide whistle sounds. "My Name is Kathy" - a subverted BadassCreed [[BrickJoke named after a Short Circus song]] - taunted the cowboy into a fight. The sentence won as the cowboy merely vanished. After one last whoop from the victorious sentence came the cowboy's voice: [[AnAesop "Weeelll, you can't win'em all!"]]
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[[folder:2009- Version]]
* AesopAmnesia: Expect the Pranksters to forget any lesson they learn by the start of the next episode. The Electric Company is guilty of this, too - no matter how many times it's proved you can't trust a Prankster, one of them will get suckered in again.
* AliensSpeakingEnglish: Skeleckians.
* AmusingAlien: The Skeleckians, with all their bizarre customs.
* ArtShift: The "Prankster Planet" segments feature animated versions of Jessica, Marcus, the Pranksters, and Paul the Gorilla.
* TheArtifact: The soft-shoe phonetics routine ("Wuh! All! WALL!"), used with much less frequency.
** HEY YOU GUYS!
* CallBack: Keith and Marcus have the same reaction to their first word balls.
* TheCameo: Many celebrities pop up for a segment, including JimmyFallon and WhoopiGoldberg.
* ColourCodedForYourConvenience: Francine can throw wordballs as her power, but they're [[PaletteSwap PURPLE]].
* ComesGreatResponsibility: The whole pilot, especially [[ThePromise the pledge]].
* ContinuityReboot: Almost everything associated with the 1970s version has been thrown out the window, including the cast.
* DesignStudentsOrgasm: Just ''look'' at the [[http://www.5minutesforbooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/tec-new-logo.jpg logo.]]
* DisproportionateRetribution: Danny Rebus. He takes offense at a lot of things and retaliates harshly.
* EvilGloating: Lampshaded in "Prankster Holiday". Turns out, blurting out the evil plan is a really bad habit amongst the Pranksters.
* EvilIsPetty: Very, very petty.
* EvilIsHammy: The Pranksters. Special mention to Manny Spamboni.
* GrandTheftMe: Annie Scrambler stealing Lisa's body in "Scrambled Brains".
* HalloweenEpisode: [[OppositeDay "Unmuffins."]]
* ICantHearYou: "Count Vacula's a little loud!" "What?! I can't hear you. Count Vacula's a little loud!"
** Bonus point because it had a mute button the whole time.
* IncredibleShrinkingMan: The Electric Company, Francine and Lisa's friend Dax in the episode "Lost and Spaced".
** And again in the episode "The Flube Whisperer", this time with Keith and Manny.
* [[RockBottom It Can't Get Any Worse]]: Used by Hector in "Trouble Afoot".
* JumpedAtTheCall: Marcus ''can't wait'' to join the company.
* LastSecondWordSwap: Combined with GoshDangItToHeck in the season three premiere.
* LocalHangout: The Electric Diner is a rare example of one being used as home base.
* MadScientist: Manuel "Manny" Spamboni is a teenage version.
* MadeOfExplodium: "I'm special agent Jack Bowser. And this place is about to ''explode''!"
* MasterApprenticeChain: Hector → Keith → Marcus.
* MeaningfulName: Annie ''Scrambler'', Danny ''Rebus'' and Gilda "Flip", [[DontExplainTheJoke who uses a flip phone]].
* MythologyGag: "The Slide and Drop" music sequence is done in 1970s-style costumes reminiscent of the original series.
* {{Ninja}}: Silent "E" is called "the ninja of the alphabet".
* OnceAnEpisode: There will be a song in the main storyline, or possibly a rap. Usually tied to the moral of the day.
* PetTheDog: Annie and Danny have occasionally done some good deeds (and are literally both dog lovers). Manny and Francine have done it only if personal gain is involved.
* PhotographicMemory: Hector's superpower, in a more literal sense. He can actually call up any image he remembers, then manipulate it.
* PokeThePoodle: The Pranksters' deeds can only be considered evil ''in context''. If Creator/PBSKids took it any further than that, they'd be impressionable.
* RemakeCameo: June Angela had one, but did not say anything.
* ScienceFair: The premise of the episode "Lost and Spaced".
* SesameWorkshop: Produced this show.
* SpiritualSuccessor: Given the show's timeslot and premise, it can be hard not to think of ''Series/{{Ghostwriter}}'' if you grew up in the 1990s.
* StatusQuoIsGod: At the end of the Unmuffin story, Danny and Manny eat the unbuns to go back to being pranksters. Jessica says they don't have to, but Danny says they do (with no further explanation).
* SuperSpeedReading: Viewers at home are told to [[InvertedTrope take their time reading]], because a word or sentence might end differently than they expect.
* TheTeaser: Used to set up the conflict of the episode. One member of the company sees something going wrong and rallies the team with "HEY YOU GUYS!" This doubles as a CouchGag.
* {{Timeskip}}: Between seasons 2 and 3.
* TrueCompanions: The four main characters.
* {{Tsundere}}: Annie on occasion; a villainous version.
* ViewersAreMorons: Strangely averted, although some say this is a good thing. The 1970s version seemed to address short attention spans (no overarching stories; some segments lasted only three to five seconds), while this version uses a continuing story arc. If anything, attention spans ''decreased'' in the 32 years between that version's end and this version's beginni—[[AttentionDeficitOohShiny hey, a butterfly!]]
* VillainSong: There are many, trust us.
* WillNotTellALie: In the pilot, Hector explicitly states that the members of the Company do not lie. And yet, they tend to lie sometimes.
[[/folder]]
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