A popular format in which to present a cartoon show. The half hour, 22 minutes of program time, is used to show three six-minute short cartoons. The remaining time is used for short framing segments or one-minute gags.
Many shows follow an A-B-A form for this format, meaning one series has a short in the first slot and in the last. This "A" series is generally the one that gives the whole show its name. The middle slot is filled by a second "B" series, that may or may not get billing in the Title Sequence
. The "B" series is often in the same universe as the "A" series, and the two can often Cross Over
, with the virtue that everyone who has seen the one will almost inevitably see the other. Hanna-Barbera
likes this format for its Cartoon Network original shows, and many of its older productions.
This form has some advantages. The short episodes are easier to produce in parallel, since writing and animation tasks can be farmed out to a bigger staff, resulting in higher productivity. This, and carrying a comedic story for 22 minutes can be tricky. A six-minute short doesn't give the premise of a joke enough time to run out of steam.
This is different from an Animated Anthology
, in that a specific two or three series are used, and both are made new for this format. Animated Anthologies have widely variable structures within a given episode, while Three Shorts
shows are usually locked into the exact form.
Most series today use a Two Shorts
form, with a pair of eleven-minute episodes. Originally very rare, it's practically the standard for comedy. Some half-hour animated shows have a few Two Shorts episodes made up, any half of which can be used as emergency schedule filler around odd-length specials or movies. (The Disney Channel likes these, there are three episodes of Kim Possible
that follow Two Shorts form, and they crop up after any given movie airing.)
Sometimes, in between the shorts are super-short one-joke bits. Garfield and Friends
called these "Quickies", and they were often adapted from a single Sunday strip.
The granddaddy of this trope, Western Animation
, has so many examples that it got its own page.
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Anime and Manga
- Some anime air (in Japan) in a form like this, notably Risky Safety and Oruchuban Ebichu, although the series they aired with are less notable. More common are the half-length episodes (about 13 minutes) which air back to back in a half-hour timeslot. Final Approach and W Wish aired together in this manner.
- The anime version of Keroro Gunsou usually followed a Two Shorts format.
- Urusei Yatsura began as a Two Shorts format, sometimes leading to confusion about how many episodes there are since the shows from this period may be counted as either one or two.
- Azumanga Daioh was broadcast as one five-minute episode per weekday, which were then stitched together into a half-hour Five Shorts form on Saturday.
- Episodes two and onward of (Zoku) Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei follow this format.
- As does Goku (the OVA) and, so far, Zan (the third series).
- Galaxy Angel after its first season (26 thirteen-minute individual episodes) had a 2 shorts format.
- Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, being a tribute to Western cartoons in many ways, follows this format.
- It sometimes deviates from it, like with the full-length episode 6.
- Shinryaku! Ika Musume
- Motto To Love-Ru
- Soredemo Machi Wa Mawatteiru anime adaption features two thematically linked chapters of the manga per episode.
- Shizuku Chan does two stories per episode.
- Sazae-san does the three shorts format.
- The 2009 Tamagotchi anime has two stories per episode.
- Shin Chan usually runs the three episode format.
- Most of the Full Metal Panic Fumoffu episodes were made up of two different stories.
- School Rumble is a subversion. While the episodes are divided into three shorter ones (each with their own title, except for the season finales), they are all linked together in one overarching plot.
- Jewelpet Sunshine uses the two stories format in some episodes.
- Anpanman follows the two story format in nearly every episode, with the exception of a few half-hour special episodes. Because of the amount of characters in the franchise, the episodes are simply created by pairing up two characters (or a defined group and a seperate character) and have them work off each other based on their personalities.
- The Three Stooges (2012 movie) follows this format, with three half hour shorts in the spirit of the original series.
- Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide has two 11-minute shorts per episode, with the second sometimes continuing where the first left off. Unless Nickelodeon only shows one to even out the time slots after running interstitials.
- Season 14 of Barney & Friends has two stories per episode. But really, it's two longer episodes from Seasons 10 and 11 shortened and strung together. A few episodes from a few years back followed this format, too.
- Early episodes of The Goon Show (none of which still exist) had three plots separated by musical interludes. Much later the show partly returned to the format with "The Million Pound Penny", in which the mystery set up in act one is solved during the musical break, with acts two and three forming the title story.
- Pucca uses the Three Shorts format for the TV series.
- Happy Tree Friends followed the Three Shorts structure when adapted for television.