"George is a monkey, and he does things we can't do."
—the PBS Kids show
Curious George is a series of books and a TV spin-off, plus a movie, based on the character by Margret and H.A. Rey. George is a monkey who is found overseas in Africa by "The Man With the Yellow Hat," a father-figure who takes the monkey home with him to his apartment in the city. Hilarity Ensues when the monkey is treated like a human child, rather than a pet. The books and series are marketed to the preschooler/early reader group and attempt to give children an early grasp on patterns and other bits of necessary information about life.
Curious George in print
The original books are as listed below. There have also been a number of pastiche works, most of them out of print for years.
Curious George (1941).
Curious George Takes a Job (1947).
Curious George Rides a Bike (1952).
Curious George Gets a Medal (1957).
Curious George Flies a Kite (1958).
Curious George Learns the Alphabet (1963).
Curious George Goes to the Hospital (1966).
Curious George at the movies
Curious George has been adapted into two feature films:
Curious George (2006)
Curious George 2: Follow That Monkey! (2010)
Curious George on television
Curious George is an Edutainment Show adaptation that debuted on PBS in 2006. The show depicts George using science, math, and engineering concepts to solve problems on a level consistent with preschool-age children. note The page quote arose from the TV show in a conscious attempt to discourage preschoolers from causing trouble or endangering themselves by imitating George's monkey shenanigans.
The Curious George franchise includes examples of:
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General Tropes applying to the books, TV show, and movies
Adults Are Useless: The Man With the Yellow Hat often leaves George to his own devices. Let us repeat: George is amonkey.
You Must Be This Tall To Ride: One book has George go to an amusement park but being too small ride on a roller coaster or play with bunnies in the petting zoo. He then has a dream that he grew to five times his previous size, only to find he's now too big to fit on the roller coaster and too large to play with the bunnies safely.
The TV Series
Aerith and Bob: There are seven baby bunnies that belong to Bill. Their names are Fuzzy, Whitey, Brownie, Spotty, Black Ears, Cotton Tail... and Herbert Nenninger.
Apes in Space: Thanks to Professor Wiseman, George has gone on multiple space missions, one of them involving a spacewalk.
Canon: Depending on how you see it, the show can either be a direct continuation of the books or the movie (despite the man's name isn't Ted, though Word of God seems to heavily imply the books) since Curious George is a simple enough concept that doesn't have much continuity to begin with. "Monkey lives with human, gets into mischief"
Don't Try This at Home: See the above page quote; used with the twist that the only death-defying stunts George does are his monkey antics.
The "George can do things you can't do" warning got used less often as the series went on and George's adventures increasingly involved solving problems without his wreaking havoc.
Everything's Better with Penguins: In "Ice Station Monkey," George and the Man with the Yellow Hat travel to Antarctica to find an entire colony of chinstrap penguins.
Free-Range Children and Monkeys: George often wanders through the city and countryside without the Man in the Yellow Hat's supervision despite the fact that George is a monkey. Not only that, but also all of the recurring children characters (Betsy and Steve in the city, Bill and Allie in the country) are generally left to their own devices without a responsible adult in sight.
Especially in the earlier seasons, Bill would routinely insist that there is a "proper way" to perform just about anything from sailing toy boats to squeezing water out of mops.
He does own up to having holes in his knowledge base, such as when he had to learn how to dance and when he came up with an ill-advised plan to get rid of a beehive (involving mud, a catapult, and a wetsuit) that would have resulted in disaster had he been allowed to go through with it.
The biggest gap in Bill's knowledge is that he has yet to realize that George is a monkey and not a typical "city kid," which is how Bill thinks of him.
To a lesser degree, George's city friend Steve thinks that all of his own ideas and solutions are genius simply because of what he perceives to be his elevated status as a fifth grader.
Kangaroos Represent Australia: In "Monkey Down Under," George and the Man with the Yellow Hat go on an Australian outback safari. Yes, they see wallabies. Yes, they see koalas, emus, and dingoes. The bulk of the episode, however, deals with George's interactions with a kangaroo and her joey.
Large Ham: Chef Pisghetti. Not only does he employ an exaggerated Italian accent, but he also copes with most of his restaurant's problems by loudly and melodramatically proclaiming that he will never cook again.
Love Makes You Dumb: The typically capable, confident, and uncannily polymathic Man In The Yellow Hat (and George, natch) spends a day with Prof. Wiseman in the park, frantically trying to prevent her from having to lift a finger, because she needs to relax. Due to what many viewers suspect is a serious crush on the Professor, the Man completely bumbles every attempt to pamper her, which she gleefully fixes each time.
Also applies to the Quint family name (Mr. Quint and his four siblings are quintuplets) and to the first name of his sisters Sprint (a track runner) and Mint (a US Treasury official).
Named Like My Name: Professor Wiseman's associate Professor Einstein, who noted in his first appearance that he's not thatEinstein. Wiseman's other associate, Professor Pizza, likewise felt obligated to clarify that he's not that pizza and was not involved with its invention.
Plucky Girl: Allie, who is spirited and almost as inquisitive as George. In her first appearance, Allie remains remarkably upbeat when she winds up stuck in a tree and has to depend on George to get her down.
Rube Goldberg Device: When George unwittingly ends up bidding $100 for a pair of mittens after getting into an auction war, the group begs the event organizers to let them re-auction the items, only to discover the other bidder has left, and the others scramble to find him before The Man gets yanked off stage. Instead, they could have just found the guy first and had him pay the $100 in exchange for them.
Scary Shadow Fakeout: George becomes scared of the dark until The Man with the Yellow Hat tells him that the monsters are just the same objects as they are in the light and gives him a nightlight.
Shirtless Scene: Only happened once in the episode Curious George Sees Stars, where the Man in the Yellow Hat is seen in his swim trunks.
Spoiler Title: In "Curious George Takes a Job", guess what he does. And in "Curious George Takes Another Job", guess what he does again.
Other characters usually understand him easily by observing his gestures, the tone of his monkey noises, and the situational context.
For the audience, the Narrator helpfully explains George's thoughts and motivations.
Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Although one-shot characters sometimes remark, "Hey, it's a monkey!" upon seeing him, George doesn't seem to attract as much attention as one might expect from a freely roaming exotic animal in a Western society.
Occasionally lampshaded by the city firefighters, who wonder why they never get any "normal" calls whenever they respond to a call that's George-related.
Super Cell Reception: Ted's phone go off in the depths of Africa and he comments about the "strong signal" before answering it. Then again, the movie seems to enjoy lampshading and breaking the fourth wall every so often.