Literature: What-a-Mess

He's an Afghan Hound, but it's not apparent through all the mess

What-a-Mess is a series of children's books that was eventually adapted into an Animated Series by DiC Entertainment. Both series focus on the eponymous Afghan Hound, What-a-Mess, and his interactions with humans and other pets. The show, in particular, had a pretty catchy opening song.

The late Frank Muir, author of the original books, was an English comedy writer also known for his work on BBC radio.

Provides examples of:

  • Animal Talk: All the animal characters can understand each other.
  • Author Avatar: The elderly English Sheepdog, Frank, is voiced by creator Frank Muir himself.
  • Balloon Belly: In "Home Alone, Almost," WAM's family gets him an automatic food dispenser meant to keep him occupied for several days. He eats it all in seconds, resulting in one of these.
  • Big Eater: What-A-Mess
  • Canon Immigrant: Trash didn't appear in the original books.
  • Cats Are Mean: Felicia the cat is self-centered and occasionally malicious.
  • Crossdressing Voices: Averted with What-A-Mess, as he was voiced by (at the time) child voice actor Ryan O'Donohue.
  • Denser and Wackier: The DiC series compared to the books.
  • Dogs Are Dumb: Well, not "dumb" per se, but a lot of the chaos What-A-Mess causes his family is the result of him not knowing any better.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first episode is presented with a framing device of Frank telling the stories of What-A-Mess from his front porch, but isn't used in any other episodes.
  • The Faceless: An odd trope in this kind of series. The faces of human characters are always deliberately obscured by things like camera angles or objects and no human faces are ever seen.
    • What-A-Mess's mother was this in the books. She becomes a more active character in the series.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Funny Background Event: The DiC series had random little people running about in the frame doing funny things like playing poker on the staircase or going swimming in the sink.
  • Growling Gut: A frequent source of contempt for the title character, due to his huge appetite. Occasionally used as a gag, such as when the inside of his stomach is shown to have a little wolf howling and banging on a dinner table furiously.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely: In a subversion version of this trope, the male What-a-Mess is bathed and groomed on rare occasions and actually looks like a pedigree Afghan Hound rather than his usual scruffy self.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Trash, who acts like a street-smart tough guy most of the time, but can be quite nice when push comes to shove.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: What-a-Mess's real name is actually Prince Amir of Kinjan, but in practice he is rarely called this. Even his mother calls him What-a-Mess most of the time.
    • Trash's birth name? Francis.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Trash's voice is based on Jack Nicholson.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Inverted. Well-groomed Afghan Hounds naturally have long hair on their heads, and long hair that tends to make them look like they're wearing fancy clothes. Despite all that, What-a-Mess is a male dog. Played straight with the cat, Felicia. She has long eyelashes and a bow.
  • Truth in Television: Afghan Hounds have notoriously high-maintenance coats. Any owner of an Afghan Hound who grooms their dog anything less than constantly will end up with a dog looking something like What-a-Mess. Frank Muir owned several Afghan Hounds when he wrote the series, which was probably an influence.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The narrator often says the exact opposite of what is really going on.
  • Verbal Tic: Ramona has a habit of saying "basically" a lot. She's played by Candi Milo, who used the same voice and tic for Cow and Chicken's teacher.

Alternative Title(s):

What A Mess