Literature / Little Bear

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/littleber_6131.gif
From left to right: Duck, Emily, Little Bear, Owl, Cat, Hen, Mother Bear, Father Bear
Little Bear, a series of books written by Elsie Minarik and illustrated by Where the Wild Things Are creator Maurice Sendak. It had a 65-Episode Cartoon adaptation by Nelvana. It follows the stories of a...well, little bear, his friends Hen, Owl, Cat, Duck, and Emily, who's human. Later, they are joined by Mitzi, a monkey. The series was created by Else Minarik and the books were illustrated by Maurice Sendak. It currently runs in syndication on Nick Jr..

In Christmas of 2000, a film based on the animated series was released in theaters, and later to video in 2001. It revolves around Little Bear meeting a mysterious bear around his age named Cub, and trying to reunite him with his parents upon learning that they had been separated.

A character sheet is in the works. At this time, most of the details are listed, but more work is needed particularly on the adult characters of the franchise. Please add character-specific tropes to the character sheet when possible.

These works provide examples of:

  • Animal Talk: Cat, duck, snake, etc.
  • Baths Are Fun: "Family Bath Time," in which Little Bear and his parents all enjoy a warm bubble bath together in a metal washtub in the living room. It was originally just Father Bear's bath, but then Little Bear jumped in. Later, they both pulled in Mama Bear, still in her clothes.
  • Berserk Button: Cub from The Movie didn't appreciate being called a "wild bear". When Little Bear asked him if he was one, Cub tackled him to the ground and demanded that he take it back.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Season 1's "Your Friend, Little Bear" ends with Emily leaving, but Little Bear writing to her. Although sources vary on whether it or "Falling Leaves" is the last segment of the episode, or even if it's the last episode of the season.
  • Brutal Honesty: The close-captioning on "Little Bear's Band". It describes their music as being "off key and offbeat", later says "they resume playing, still awful", although it does say they play well at the end.
  • Carnivore Confusion:
    • Little Bear is a bear, but is friends with a cat, a hen and a duck, all of which can be prey animals to a bear. The only meat he is seen eating is fish, and this is mostly because No Cartoon Fish is in appliance.
    • There are also Cat and Owl. They are said to hunt at night and when Little Bear meats a mouse, he knows that he has to hide it from them.
  • Cats Are Snarkers
  • Classical Music: The music cues of the show are very classical-sounding.
  • Crossdressing Voices: Little Bear was voiced by Kristin Fairle, who later went on to voice Bridget in Total Drama Island.
  • Cool Old Lady: Little Bear and Emily's grandmas.
  • The Ditz: Duck. Also counts as a Genius Ditz
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Almost all of the characters are named after what they are, except Tutu the Dog, Mitzi the Monkey, and Nofeet the Snake.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Nofeet the snake (No feet).
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Food Porn:
    • Considering how far back the show is, one of the things that the characters do for pleasure is eating. With titles like "Father's Flying Flapjacks", "Applesauce", and "Little Bear's Sweet Tooth", you can tell it's pretty much a trademark of the show.
    • Averted in "Little Bear and the Cupcakes". See Lethal Chef.
  • Friendly Tickle Torture: Occurs with startling frequency, with the Little Bear almost always involved as either the tickler or ticklee. All the characters shown in the opening end up getting tickled at least once.
  • Funny Animal: Little Bear and his family.
  • Furry Confusion:
    • Tutu the dog speaks French. The other animals speak Animal Talk, yet Little Bear is a Funny Animal.
    • The Movie is even more confusing. For one Little Bear is shown drinking from a river like a regular bear, right after putting a carton down. A mountain lion appears, and he is shown in a manner that emphasizes the fact he's a predator. Also, Little Bear meets Cub, who has been living wild, though don't call him that. He's astounded that Little Bear eats cooked food and lives in a house, also he feels that Little Bear has a lot to learn about stuff like mountain lions.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: "Family Bath Time" is pretty much this entirely; an episode featuring parents and children bathing together would be less likely to fly nowadays.
  • Good Parents: Little Bear's parents definitely apply.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Although all of Little Bear's relatives are fully clothed he and his other animal friends are naked.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The TV show was initially advertised as "Maurice Sendak's Little Bear." However, this is peculiar, as Maurice Sendak only illustrated the Little Bear books—Else Minarik was the author. In fact, this is so prevalent that even certain Little Bear books written by Minarik but illustrated by somebody other than Sendak still carry the "Maurice Sendak's Little Bear" logo.
  • Informed Species: Mitzi lacks a tail, making her resemble a gibbon more than a monkey.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: A very gentle theme tune, fitting nicely with the nature of the series. It did include sound effects of the characters, usually, though in at least a couple installments, these were absent. There were two versions (in the U.S. and Canada) that both qualify as the description above; the first is actually Franz Shubert's "Allegro Vivace" is used in Canada, whereas the U.S. got an original piece of music.
  • Lethal Chef: In the episode where Little Bear and Emily make cupcakes, they go so far as to put a fish in the batter. And that's the least of those cupcakes' problems...
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Very much so with many of Little Bear's magical adventures, such as when he pretends to crawl under his covers to visit a Chinese princess, who gives him chopsticks to take to Mother Bear. It seems like his other games to get out of bedtime are just that, but the last shot shows there really are chopsticks on the bed.
  • Never Say "Die":
    • Averted in the episode "Lucy's Okay" where Duck sat on Lucy (Emily's doll), where Emily said point-blank that Lucy is dead. The word is used several times throughout the episode. They even held a mock-funeral for Lucy (who obviously isn't dead and isn't even damaged; Emily was just trying to teach Duck a lesson).
    • Averted again in "Applesauce" where an apple falls on a toad - the word "dead" is used twice. The toad was okay, though.
  • No Cartoon Fish: Fish are essentially the only animals that don't talk, or at least show some level of sapience. One episode even had a talking moth. Probably a good thing, as two of the primary cast are animals well-known for eating fish... There's even a scene where we see Owl grab a fish, which was clearly alive and jumping, in his beak and subsequently eating it.
  • Not So Above It All: In one episode, Frog was caught up in a wild race between Little Bear and his friends and tries to teach them that winning isn't everything. Eventually, everyone ended up hitching a ride on Moose to the front of Little Bear's house, upon which Little Bear decides that everyone wins. However, Frog takes advantage of the fact that they aren't technically at the house yet and hops onto the front doorstep, proudly declaring his victory. When questioned, he confirms that while winning isn't everything, it does feel good.
  • Old-Timey Bathing Suit: Surprisingly averted. In one episode where Emily was shown in a bathing suit during a swimming scene, she wore a swimsuit that wouldn't look out of place in the time the series was made (the 1990s) but definitely would during the time the series is set (1910s or 1920s).
  • One Mario Limit: Averted. Despite the great popularity of this series, a number of other authors have released picture books featuring a main character named simply "Little Bear."
  • Only Child Syndrome
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: One character Little Bear befriends is a teal-haired mermaid. This being a children's show, she is modestly dressed (wearing a loose tank top instead of a Seashell Bra or Godiva Hair), and she is consistently a sweet, kind Proper Lady, as opposed to the more typical Tsundere and Yandere mermaids.
  • Parental Abandonment: None of the other animal kids appear to have parents.
  • Partially Civilized Animal: Unlike Little Bear, many of his animal friends have dwellings and mannerisms one would expect from their species.
  • Running on All Fours: Little Bear
  • Shout-Out: One episode had Little Bear wearing a troll mask that looked an awful lot like a Where the Wild Things Are monster, alluding to Maurice Sendak.
  • Sixth Ranger: While Little Bear met Emily during the series, she was introduced in the first season, so it's debatable whether or not she counts. However, Nofeet the snake and Mitzi the monkey definitely do.
  • Smelly Skunk: Mr. and Mrs. Skunk.
  • Story Arc:
    • Sort of. In the first season, it's known that Emily will be leaving in the fall to go to school, and it occurs in the season finale. Later in the second season, she returns permanently.
    • The episode "The Painting/The Kiss/The Wedding" forms a storyarc. It's actually based on the book "A Kiss For Little Bear".
  • Sweet Tooth: The basis of an episode in the third season.
  • Talking Animal: Every character except for Emily, Granny and Tutu.
  • That Poor Cat: Cat had this in early episodes.
  • Token Human: Emily
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Mitzi and Emily. To a lesser degree, clumsy, loud Duck and Proper Lady Hen.
  • Walk Into Camera Obstruction: Near the beginning of the intro with Owl, where he flies into the screen.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Clever Cricket never appears after his one appearence.
  • When Trees Attack: The Laughing Tree
  • Younger Than She Looks: Emily. She looks about 10 or 11, but doesn't even turn 7 until halfway through the series. Somewhat justified, seeing as she looks much younger in the book illustrations.


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