Creator / Richard Scarry
Scarry and his best Busytown characters ever.

Richard Scarry (June 5, 1919 - April 30, 1994) was an American children's author and illustrator known for his anthropomorphic animals, particularly those of the "Busytown" books, which were later adapted by Cinar (now Cookie Jar) into an animated series, The Busy World of Richard Scarry. It was aired on Nick Jr. on Nickelodeon. Additionally there was a series of educational Direct-to-Video releases made by Jumbo Pictures. The direct-to-videos are:

The most recent adaptation of the characters is Busytown Mysteries (also known as "Hurray For Huckle" in some regions), also by Cookie Jar; it currently airs on Cookie Jar TV and PBS Kids Sprout.

Works by Richard Scarry provide examples of:

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  • Ascended Extra: Sally is demoted as one of the main characters in "Huckle's Busytown Mysteries" compared to her roles in the books and the first animated series.
  • Alliterative Name (but not with every character)
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Everyone except Lowly Worm, the one member of the cast who doesn't have feetbut wears a shoe anyway.
  • Beary Friendly: Most bear characters, most notably Miss Honey, the primary school teacher.
  • Carnivore Confusion: The problem of who eats who is ignored. In fact one can find a family of jolly pigs at the supermarket checking out the butcher's selection. Yes, they are selling bacon, pork and ham.
  • Creator Provincialism: Much of the art in his books features European-style architecture (such as narrow streets and A-frame houses) and clothing (Huckle himself usually wears lederhosen over a yellow shirt). Originally from Boston, Scarry bought a chalet in Gstaad, Switzerland in 1972 and set up his studio there.
  • Cute Kitten: Huckle, an anthropomorphic kitten, and especially his little sister Sally.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: Hilda, an anthropomorphic hippo child, accidentally rips a door off its hinges when she is told to open the door so the students can go out to play. Later, when the door is fixed, she rips out the door along with part of the wall when she attempts the same thing.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In some of the earlier books (such as the 1966 Storybook Dictionary), Huckle is a bear.
  • Exposed Animal Bellybutton: Huckle has one in the last pagenote  of Best Little Word Book Ever.
  • Flying Car: Lowly apparently drives an apple-shaped car that also serves as a helicopter since its "leaves" actually function as the helicopter's blades. Except how the heck is he able to drive it if he doesn't have any arms?
  • Funny Animal
  • Furry Confusion: Most of the characters are Funny Animals; however, there are non-anthropomorphic animals that are kept at farms, zoos or circuses. So Farmer Pig and Farmer Goat can keep pigs and goats at their farm, and when Hilda Hippo, Bananas Gorilla or Miss Honey visit the zoo, they'll see realistic hippos, gorillas and bears there. The most confusing one is on the circus picture in Best Word Book Ever: a non-anthropomorphic horse, lion, seal and an elephant balancing on one leg while wearing a tutu are surrounded by an anthropomorphic, fully-clothed tiger ringmaster and bear acrobats. If the elephant stood slighly more upright and had more hand-like front legs, she'd pass as a person in this setting.
  • Hates Baths: The piglets in the Pig Family do not like bathing, as seen in the 1966 Storybook Dictionary. One memorable illustration has them hiding in a hamper in the bathroom as Mother Pig looks for them.
  • Honorable Elephant: Polite Elephant.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: Huckle's yellow shirt and red/green overalls.
  • It's the Best Whatever, Ever!: Many of his books have titles like this, most notably Best Word Book Ever.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • Messy Pig: A lot of the pig residents, although not all of them are messy.
  • Mr Fix It: The character Mr. Fixit Fox is the trope.
  • National Animal Stereotypes: The book Richard Scarry's Busy, Busy World, which is tells stories about the countries of the world, uses a lot of these.
    • In England, the Queen is a lioness and the Tower is guarded by ravens
    • Scotland is inhabited by kilt-wearing, bagpipe-playing Scottish Terriers.
    • The story in Switzerland stars mountain goats.
    • The Russian story's main character is a bear dentist.
    • The Sami are portrayed as reindeer-herding arctic foxes.
    • The Canadian story is about a raccoon ranger defeating two bullies, a grizzly bear and a timber wolf.
    • South Americans are portrayed as various wildlife native to the continent, including jaguars, toucans, armadillos, anteaters and constrictor snakes.
    • In the story that takes place in India, a tiger is the main character, while cobras and elephants appear as background characters.
    • The story taking place in China stars pandas.
    • Zebras are portrayed as spear-wielding African natives.
  • Right Way/Wrong Way Pair: Pig Will and Pig Won't.
  • Running Gag: Whenever Mr. Frumble appears, he is almost always seen chasing his hat.
  • Shaped Like What It Sells: Many shops, and particularly, cars in Busy World are like this.
  • Species Surname (but not with every character)
  • Steam Never Dies: A number of locomotives in his books are of the steam variety: they even co-exist with diesel locomotives in such books as The Best Word Book Ever and What Do People Do All Day?; in most cases they are usually fashioned off European locomotives (especially the diesels.)
  • Stock Animal Diet: Bananas Gorilla has... well, bananas as his Trademark Favorite Food. In fact he's rarely seen eating anything else.
  • Unnamed Parents: Huckle and Sally's, who are only ever called Mom / Mother, Dad / Father, or Mr. and Mrs. Cat.
  • World of Funny Animals

    The Busy World of Richard Scarry 
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: The "Imagine That" and "Play it Safe" song segments, in-between the second and third episodes of a show.
  • Animation Bump: The animation gets a little smoother, fluid and brighter starting with the second season, due to the switch from Hanho Heung-Up to Wang Film Productions.
  • Artistic Age: Bananas Gorilla in this series; he's implied to be an adult and drives a car, yet he's shown attending Miss Honey's class along with Huckle, Hilda, Lowly, etc.
  • Artistic License Biology: One episode has Lowly Worm breaking his bones and having to be put in a cast. Worms are invertebrates (meaning they have no bones at all).
  • Bizarre Alien Locomotion: Lowly Worm stands upright on one shoe. In animated adaptations, his boneless body contorts in several ways to move about, depending on circumstances and the artists' preferences: sending ripples down his length, coiling up to bounce like a spring, or folding bow- or zigzag-fashion and then extending to launch himself into the air.
  • Bully Bulldog: Defied with Billy Dog. When he joins the class, everyone expects him to be this trope and avoid him. When someone finally talks to him he's revealed to be a pretty nice guy.
  • Clock Tower: The "Daylight Savings Time" episode involves Mr. Tick-Tock attempting to reset the Town Hall clock tower for Daylight Savings in the spring.
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong: The brothers Pig Will and Pig Won't, who somehow manage to embody this Aesop using only two people. As their names suggest, one agrees to every request or offer, and the other refuses every offer. No matter what their giggly hippo babysitter asks them to do, Pig Won't's refusal ends up making him miserable... somehow. Even when it's a simple preference not to play a certain game. One wonders how, exactly, Pig Will would cope with being so "agreeable"/mentally pliable in the outside world, without the protection of a benign authority figure.
    • In the original book Pig Won't would always say "I won't", without even thinking about it. So one day when their father asks who wants to go with him to visit the fire station, Pig Won't declares "I won't". At the fire station, Pig Will gets to play with the dalmatian, wear a fire suit, play with the fire hose (with adult supervision), and it all ends with an all-you-can-eat hot fudge sundae party! When Pig Won't sees all the fun Pig Will had, he immediately becomes Pig Me Too. The moral's supposed to be: "Don't just blindly disobey your folks, because you might miss out on some pretty cool stuff!", but reeks more of the Broken Aesop "Obey all orders without question, and you'll get a treat! You know, a treat, like a dog gets for not shitting on the carpet!". When Pig Me Too enters the real world and stops getting treats for obeying, he's going to feel a little silly.
  • Crossdressing Voices: Huckle Cat was voiced by Sonja Ball.
  • Disguised in Drag / Hiding in a Hijab: Couscous, the (male) Algerian detective, often crossdresses as part of trying to capture Pepe the Gangster and his dirty rats. In his first adventure (adapted from the book Richard Scarry's Busy, Busy World), he disguises himself as a female Belly Dancer, covering his face with a Niqab, to infiltrate Pepe's hideout.
  • Edutainment Show
  • Everything Is Big in Texas: This show featured a parody of the story about a nameless Dutch boy who plugged a hole in a dike with his finger, which first appeared as "The Hero of Haarlem," a story being read aloud within Mary Mapes Dodge's 1865 novel, Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates. There was a fat tourist from Texas waltzing about, taking pictures of windmills and tulips, while making comments about how everything was bigger in Texas. When the hole in the dike turned out to be too big to be filled with just Hans' finger, he and his friends save the day by stuffing said tourist into the hole.
  • Exact Words: In "A Big Operation," Huckle Cat is dreading his tonsilectomy until he is told by Sprout Goat that, afterwards, he can get "all the ice cream he can eat". As it turns out, his throat is so sore from the operation he can barely eat any.
  • Gratuitous German: Rudolf Von Flugel is prone to this sort of thing.
  • Happily Adopted: Lowly lives with the Cat family in this series.
  • The Kiddie Ride: Lowly Worm in his apple car and Bananas Gorilla in his Bananamobile, both from Jolly Roger.
  • King of Beasts: The Queen of England is portrayed as a lioness with a mane.
  • Logo Joke / Match Cut: The Paramount logo morphs into a mountain in Busytown which the Applecopter promptly flies out from behind, again via a fade.
  • Minor Living Alone: Hilda Hippo is shown living in a house in this series but with no sign of parents or any other family in that house too. This is supported by her having a friend watching her house while she's off on a trip in one episode and having her pet bird watched over by Huckle and Lowly in another.
  • Officer O'Hara: Sergeant Murphy has an Irish accent in this series.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Sally used to wear a dark pink and purple dress. In the latest animated series, she wears a red and yellow dress similar to her brother Huckle.
  • Shipper on Deck: Hilda Hippo for...pretty much anyone who looks like they might make a viable couple.
  • Shout-Out: During "A Big Operation", a female voice on the P.A. announces, "Paging Dr. Bailey", a reference to the show's character designer and director Greg Bailey.
  • Shown Their Work: Scarry was rather fond of drawing vehicles, be they cars, boats, or aircraft, and nearly always depicted them with a high degree of accuracy and detail.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Lowly Worm talks in this series.
  • Slice of Life: Most stories are about pretty mundane, everyday problems that children face.
  • The Tonsillitis Episode: Played straight in the episode "A Big Operation". Huckle even got his ice cream, although he couldn't eat it.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Hilda Hippo, but just slightly. She can be pushy and rude without meaning to be.

    Busy Town Mysteries 
  • Artistic License Cars/Artistic License Law: Huckle is 8 years old in this series, Sally is 6, and they drive motor vehicles around town - Huckle has a car, Sally rides a scooter and the pigs have a pickle car! Does Busytown give driver licenses to children?
  • Art Shift: This series is animated with Flash in contrast to the Busy World of Richard Scarry, which was animated traditionally.
  • Ascended Extra: Huckle's sister Sally has a bigger role in the series and even becomes a main character along with her brother.
    • Pig Will and Pig Won't count too as they had more limited roles in the previous series.
  • Balloonacy: Happens to Pig Won't in one mystery.
  • Butt Monkey: Pig Will and Pig Won't, the former to a lesser extent.
  • Everybody Laughs Ending: Frequently happens after Huckle and friends solve a mystery. Bonus points if it's because of Pig Will and/or Pig Won't.
  • Free-Range Children: Huckle and Sally are young children yet drive all over town solving mysteries.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Sally in "Busy town Mysteries" wears a red bow and a yellow and red dress which resembles Huckle's clothes and looks a bit older than she was previously seen in the books and previous animated incarnation
  • Short Runner: Ran from 2007 - 2009
  • Suddenly Voiced: Lowly Worm speaks here as well.

    The direct-to-videos 
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: In The Best ABC Video Ever, all of the students names begin with the letter they're holding (e.g.: Freddie Fox has the letter F, Huckle Cat has the letter H, etc.)
    • The comments of the teacher also match the letter — "Congratulations, Christine", "Very interesting, Iris", and so on. She bends the rule with the X, though — "eXcellent, Xavier" — and we do not get to hear her comments on some letters, such as Q or Z.
  • Art Evolution: The first two videos, The Best ABC Video Ever and The Best Counting Video Ever, are produced by a small New York City-based animation studio, so they were done with rather Limited Animation; but in the Jumbo Pictures videos that follow them, the animation has gotten a lot better and much more fluid than its predecessors.
  • Banana Peel / Epic Fail: After Freddie finishes his song about numbers in The Best Learning Songs Video Ever, he slips on a banana peel and grabs onto the curtain, accidentally pulling it down and ruining the stage. This results in him and some of the other kids getting buried under the curtain.
    Huckle: Ladies and gentlemen, we seem to be having a little trouble. Please be patient; we will go on with our show in a few minutes. Thank you.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Libby Leopard in The Best ABC Video Ever mistakenly jumps over Kathy's turn with the letter L after the letter J was finished. Miss Honey tells her that L doesn't come after J.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Happens frequently in some videos, such as The Best Learning Songs Video Ever.
  • Edutainment Show
  • Fake Interactivity: After Miss Honey tells Libby that L doesn't come after J:
    Miss Honey: Do you know what letter comes after J? (beat) That's right! It's the letter K.
  • Running Gag: In The Best Learning Songs Video Ever, Bananas Gorilla always comes up seeing a banana, says "Banana!" and takes the banana.
  • Scenery Porn: The videos made after The Best Counting Video Ever. Just look at the colorful animation and backgrounds!
  • Sleepyhead: Quincy in The Best ABC Video Ever.
  • Variety Show: Premise of The Best Learning Songs Video Ever.

Alternative Title(s): The Busy World Of Richard Scarry