Western Animation: Adventures of the Gummi Bears
"Dashing and daring, courageous and caring, Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears
Faithful and friendly with stories to share,
All through the forest they sing out in chorus,
Marching along as their song fills the air..."
is a truly groundbreaking series by Walt Disney Television Animation
and Tokyo Movie Shinsha (now known as TMS Entertainment
, which produced the animation for the show's first four seasons, switching to Walt Disney Animation Japan for the rest of the show's run). Although The Wuzzles
was Disney's first original animated TV series, that was really a trial run for this series, which almost immediately made the company a dominant force in television animation. This series lasted from September 1985 to February 1991, with a total of 94 episodes.
The show was actually a major gamble for Disney, as it was a very new idea. Disney reasoned that the costs of a high-quality animated show could be recovered in syndication. The gamble worked, and a new era of unprecedented quality in western television animation was born with Disney's competitors eventually being forced to raise their production standards and budgets to avoid unfavorable comparisons.
The series takes place in The Theme Park Version
of medieval time, centuries after the Great Gummis fled across the sea while a small caretaker colony stayed behind in Gummi Glen in the Kingdom of Dunwyn to maintain the civilization's extremely sophisticated infrastructure on the off-chance the Gummis could return to live with humans in peace.
Unfortunately, when the story begins, the Glen Gummis have declined to only six descendants who have forgotten their past skills. Fortunately, they meet a friendly human boy named Cavin who has a Gummi Medallion that unlocks their library's Great Book of Gummi, the essential book of their culture's knowledge. Inspired, the colony decide to rediscover their heritage and help the boy whose kingdom is under dire threat.
That threat comes in the form of Duke Igthorn of Drekmore and his army of really dumb ogres. He is out to conquer Dunwyn and upon discovering that the supposedly mythological Gummi Bears exist, he will stop at nothing
to exploit their secrets, like their powerful magic and technology, for his own use. Furthermore, he is but the most frequent of a whole host of enemies that the Gummi Bears and their human allies must oppose.
Individuality is celebrated in proper proportion to the value of cooperation for each character and the primary characters have carefully considered flaws and strengths. Furthermore, the female characters avoid The Smurfette Principle
, with multiple characters with strong well-defined personalities.
If you're wondering how they came up with this show's premise, as the story goes, Michael Eisner was inspired when he was snacking on gummy bears
. True story, straight from That Other Wiki
This show includes examples of:
- Affably Evil: Duke Igthorn.
- An Ice Person: Chillbeard the frost giant.
- And Your Little Dog Too: The witch Marzipan says this to Calla in "Eye of the Beholder," after being exposed - except it's a pig, not a dog, and the pig is actually a disguised Sunni.
- Badass Adorable:
- Cubbi is extremely cute, but he's usually very capable in their adventures, even though he's just a little bear cub. His badassery is exponentially enlarged when he takes on his "Crimson Avenger" secret identity.
- All the bears are this to an extent. Would you really expect something so cute and small to be able to open up such a can of whoopass?
- Badass Longcoat: Flint Shrubwood, the Bounty Hunter Igthorn hires in "For A Few Sovereigns More" to capture a Gummi Bear. Unlike most minor villains in Disney cartoons, he's actually capable. He effortlessly captures Cubbi and subdues the Duke when he refuses to pay up. With a more reliable sponsor, this man would be a Hero Killer. (Fortunately, he's clearly Only in It for the Money.)
- Badass Princess: Calla has saved her kingdom and her castle several times.
- Badbutt: Gruffi.
- Bag of Kidnapping: Seen when Igthorn kidnaps "Calla" (really Sunni in disguise) in "A Gummi by Any Other Name".
- Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Zummi, Gruffi and Grammi do not wear shoes.
- Bears Are Bad News: Inverted, as you'd expect. Unless you're Duke Igthorn.
- Beary Friendly
- Berserk Button: Gruffi has a magical one in "Sweet and Sour Gruffi." The word "thanks" makes him evil.
- Be Careful What You Wish For:
- In "When You Wish Upon A Stone" a young boy wishing to be bigger turned into giant.
- Sunni takes to singing in "A Gummi In A Gilded Cage" and hopes she can sing in front of kings one day. Seconds after saying so, she's carried off by Carpies (giant vultures) who were ordered by their king to find a new "songbird". Sunni is not pleased.
- Better The Devil You Know: In "Just a Tad Smarter", when the ogres kick Igthorn out and Toadwart's cousin Tadpole takes over, he treats them even worse than Igthorn did. Not only does he mistreat them the same way, he makes them take baths! After the ogres call a truce with the Gummis, who help them find Igthorn again, all the Duke has to do is promise there'll be no more baths, and he's back in charge.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Gummi Bears are friendly, helpful, and loyal, but assuming they're weak is a big mistake.
- Big Eater: Tummi. Gets him in trouble in at least one episode.
- Blind and the Beast: Tummi befriends a blind human woman in one episode.
- Blind Without 'Em: Zummi.
- Bluff the Eavesdropper: In one episode, the King tries to find out a famous chef's secret recipe by listening at the door, which the chef thwarts by reciting absolute nonsense instead of his ingredients. However, this does not thwart Cubbi, Sunni, and Tummi, who are hiding in the kitchen and can write down the actual steps he's taking.
- Bouncing Battler: Gummiberry Juice makes Gummi Bears incredibly bouncy and quick. They usually save it for battles or emergency situations.
- Bumbling Sidekick: Toadwart for Duke Igthorn.
- Butt Monkey: Toadie. Even his fellow ogres pick on him.
- Chained Heat: Cubbi and Igthorn in "For A Few Sovereigns More," after Igthorn tries to double-cross a bounty hunter he hired to capture Cubbi.
- Chekhov's Volcano: Accompanied by Convection Schmonvection in "My Gummi Lies Over the Ocean".
- The Chew Toy: Toadie.
- City of Adventure: Dunwyn.
- Clothes Make the Superman: In one episode, Toadwart gets a suit of armor that makes him invincible in battle.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Gusto. Spending twelve years on an island with only a talking toucan for company can do things to a guy.
- The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Averted in that Gruffi complains a lot, but his practical nature means his call on things is often right and the other Gummis respect him for it.
- Conspicuously Light Patch: The various "secret doors" in particular almost always exhibit this.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: The Deluxe Torture Plan:
Toadwart: You'll be forced to listen to a medley of popular folk tunes sung by Gad and Zook.
- Cool Big Sis: Calla is a surrogate one to Sunni.
- Could Have Avoided This Plot: "Duel of the Wizards".
Zummi: If you had just accepted our help when we first offered it, we could have avoided all this trouble.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Tummi.
- Daddy's Girl: Sunni seems to have this relationship with Gruffi.
- Deadpan Snarker:
- Grammi tends to repay him in kind.
- Diet Episode: In "The Oracle", Tummi Gummi gets put on a diet.
- Disability Immunity: Being stupid is actually a benefit for Igthorn's ogres sometimes. In one episode, Igthorn's plan involves using magical bagpipes that hypnotize people, which only work on intelligent creatures. (That leaves his men out.) In another episode, it's implied that a slumber sprite's spell might put Gruffi to sleep forever, but it only works on the ogres for about a minute, because as the sprite says, "they're so dumb!"
- The Ditherer: Tummi in "The Fence Sitter".
- Duck!: Someone shouts this when a fish goes flying through the air. Another character remarks, "That's not a duck, it's a fish," before getting hit in the face.
- Dumb Muscle: The Ogres.
- Elaborate Underground Base: Gummi Glen has an unusually realistic take on such a habitat and the various tasks necessary to maintain it and the consequences of neglecting it is a source of story material.
- Embarrassing First Name: Duke Sigmund Igthorn.
- Enemy Mine:
- In the episode "Just A Tad Smarter", Toadwart's cousin Tadpole takes over Castle Drekmore, kicks Duke Igthorn out, and orders the ogres to destroy all the Gummiberry bushes. Neither Igthorn nor the Gummis want the bushes destroyed, so they reluctantly team up to get rid of Tadpole. (Not to mention that he makes the ogres take baths, something they really hate to do!)
- In "For A Few Sovereigns More", Duke Igthorn hires a bounty hunter to catch a Gummi Bear. When the hunter returns with Cubbi and Igthorn refuses to pay, he and Cubbi are tossed into a dungeon cell and have to work together to escape.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Princess Calla.
- Evil Twin: Inverted. Igthorn is a twin, but he's the evil one. His heroic knightly brother Sir Victor (whom Cavin idolizes) is deeply ashamed.
- Eviler Than Thou: Flint Shrubwood is this to Duke Igthorn. If you don't give him his gold, you've got a bad thing coming. Heck, he took out an entire squad of ogres.
- Expository Theme Tune: Quoted above.
- Expy: Cavin and Calla bear more than a passing resemblance to Taran and Elionwy, in both physical appearance and role in the story.
- Likewise, Toadie is a short, green, Sycophantic Servant who serves as second-in-command to the antagonist and is kicked around by larger minions. Just like Creeper
- The scene in "A Gummi In A Gilded Cage" where Tummi is trying to stop two Carpies from carrying Sunni off brings to mind Taran trying to stop the dragons from taking Hen Wen. Especially since in both instances, the flying monsters are kidnapping something their king wants.
- Fantastic Racism: Part of the reason Gummi Bears are now the stuff of fairy tales is they were all so mistreated by humans that they either sailed away or went into hiding as their numbers dwindled. Not surprisingly, many Gummis still distrust humans. Cavin often suffers for this.
- Fantasy Helmet Enforcement: Sort of. When Tummi builds a boat in "My Gummi Lies Over the Ocean," he and Gruffi are wearing what appear to be life jackets.
- Fate Worse Than Death: In the Season Six episode "Thornberry To The Rescue", an evil spider called the Spinster kidnaps Gummi Bears but they are rescued by Sir Thornberry and Cavin. To make sure that The Spinster never bothers them again, they leave her tied up in an underground cave, the entrance to which is later boarded up by Gruffi. It is also implied in the episode that the Spinster might be immortal as she was originally imprisoned by the ancient Great Gummis, which makes her fate even worse.
- Feathered Fiend: Carpies
- Five-Man Band:
- Floating Continent: Aerial Isle.
- Food as Bribe: Igthorn tries to bribe Tummi with food to find the location of Gummi Glen.
- For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: The Gummis go without costume into Dunwyn on Folly Day.
- Fountain of Youth: Gummiberry juice mixed with baby powder ends up turning Igthorn's ogre army into babies.
- Full-Circle Revolution: In "Just a Tad Smarter," the ogres replace Igthorn with Tadpole in the belief that a fellow ogre will be kinder to them, but once he's in power Tadpole is just as bad as or worse than Igthorn.
- Gang of Critters
- Gone Behind the Bend: "A Gummi A Day Keeps The Doctor Away" has a scene where Gruffi and Tummi get chased by ogres while saving a kindly doctor from Duke Igthorn. The chase scene then leads to the two Gummis and the ogres running around the top part of the castle, until only the ogres are seen running around.
- Grand Finale: "King Igthorn."
- Grand Theft Me: Igthorn steals Tummi's body in "If I Were You."
- Great Big Book of Everything: The Great Book of Gummi. The Gummi Bears are only able to read it and use the great knowledge inside because because they met Cavin, whose medallion unlocks it.
- Grumpy Bear: A literal example with Gruffi.
- Hot Witch: Lady Bane.
- Also Marzipan, until you see her true form.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: The ancient Gummis were forced into hiding because of greedy humans who wanted to take their magic and technology for themselves.
- If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Cubbi's reason for rescuing Igthorn in "For a Few Sovereigns More." Cubbi makes a promise to Igthorn to rescue him, and only someone as treacherous as Igthorn would go back on a promise.
- I Lied: Igthorn tries this on Flint Shrubwood, the bounty hunter, in "For a Few Sovereigns More". Big mistake.
- I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: In Season One, Gruffi was voiced by the late Bill Scott, who voiced Bullwinkle in Rocky and Bullwinkle. Grammi was voiced by June Foray who voiced Rocky in that same series.
- I Was Beaten by a Girl: Calla, going undercover, defeats the squires in "Girl's Knight Out."
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Gruffi.
- Karma Houdini: The villain in "The Sinister Sculptor" really doesn't receive any punishment for heaven knows how long his cruelty to animals has been going on. He loses his magic dust (ensuring he can't continue doing it) and he's attacked by said animals while escaping after Gruffi and Grammi break the spell, but he does escape, and when you think about it he probably got away with most of his ill-gotten gained money.
- Large Ham: Igthorn.
- Last of His Kind: The Gummi Glen Gummis believe they are the last remaining Gummis. They're wrong, but not by much.
- Most of the Gummi Bears set off in ships to find new land where they wouldn't be persecuted by humans. A small number remained in Gummi Glen, to watch and wait for the day it was safe for the other Gummis to return. Five hundred years later, there are six left. However, by the end of Season One it's made clear that there's a thriving Gummi society across the ocean.
- On a slightly smaller scale, in Season Two the group come across another Gummi Bear called Chummi, who's really desperate to find other bears. The small bits he mentions about his past indicate he was from another warren that stayed behind but, like Gummi Glen, their numbers dwindled until there was only him.
- Sir Thornberry seems to be the last of the guards left behind at the ancient Gummi city of Ursalia.
- Latex Perfection: Featured in "Never Give a Gummi an Even Break"; first Cubbi Gummi scares Grammi with an ogre mask as a prank, and then an elf named Carney disguises himself as a Gummi Bear as a sideshow exhibit wearing a particularly convincing rubber mask that manages to fool Grammi and take him in. But once she figures out the trick, she allows Carney to capture them for the sideshow, where an accident causes Grammi's mask to fall off and reveal a human woman underneath (that looks suspiciously like her voice actress June Foray), but once the coast is clear and the Gummis are safe, Grammi removes the old woman mask to reveal her true self once again.
- Lethal Chef:
- Grammi's cooking. (Tummi likes it, however.)
- Also Sunni's various attempts to make Gummi Berry Juice before she gets it right. It's literally explosive.
- Lost Technology: By the wagonload. Even the Gummis don't know what half of it does.
- Love Potion: One causes Tummi to fall for Lady Bane and Lady Bane to fall for Toadie.
- Mama Bear: Grammi. Literally.
- Meaningful Name:
- Sunni is the Cheerful Child and has yellow fur.
- Cubbi the cute Tagalong Kid and the youngest in the group.
- Tummi the Big Eater
- Grammi the Apron Matron
- Gruffi is a Grumpy Bear
- Gusto is Hot-Blooded and energetic.
- Zummi is...um... is... we'll get back to you on that.
- It may have something to do with his spoonerism tendencies, or to emphasize his "wizard-like" nature given that a lot of sound effect depictions have the letter Z, like Zap or Kazaam.
- In the Russian dub he's renamed "Spellcaster," which still rhymes with the other Russified names the same way as it does in the original.
- On the villains' side, Toadie is the Sycophantic Servant.
- Medieval Stasis: Would instantly have been dispelled if humanity at large could have gotten their hands on Gummi technology.
- The Middle Ages: A soft, light depiction.
- Miles Gloriosus: Zigzagged with Sir Tuxford. He's like this most of the time, but he can be somewhat brave if the situation warrants it; he's just slowing down in his old age.
- Missing Mom: Princess Calla's mom is never mentioned in the series.
- Mobile-Suit Human: In "A Hard Dazed Knight," Gruffi uses one (in the form of an armored knight) to infiltrate Duke Igthorn's castle.
- The Munchausen: Sir Tuxford and King Gregor are like this in one episode, teaming up to tell tall-tales about their past exploits. (Subverted, however, because they knew no one believed them.)
- The Nicknamer: Gusto has a handful of affectionate nicknames for nearly every member of the cast.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Igthorn on occasion, particularly in the finale.
- Odd Name Out: See Meaningful Name above.
- One-Note Cook: The only thing that Grammi can prepare correctly is Gummiberry Juice.
- Older Sidekick: Tummi for Cubbi's "Crimson Avenger."
- Our Dragons Are Different: Both the Medieval and Chinese kind appear.
- Our Giants Are Bigger: They appear on multiple occasions.
- Our Gryphons Are Different: They're pink.
- Our Mermaids Are Different: Standard fantasy version appears in "Water Way to Go."
- Our Ogres Are Hungrier
- The One Who Wears Shoes: Slightly more than normal for the trope, but Sunni, Tummi and Gusto.
- Papa Wolf: Gruffi.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Calla occasionally wears one.
- Plot Hole: The first time the Carpies encounter the Gummis is when they kidnap Sunni to be the King Carpie's "songbird." He's rather obsessed with having a singer. The next time the King encounters Sunni, he doesn't recognize her at all.
- Power-Up Food: Gummiberry juice. For Gummis it makes them bouncy and agile. For humans, it gives them a few minutes of super strength, but only works once a day. Ogres gets super strength too, but unlike humans, it lasts longer and can be renewed by drinking more juice. Fortunately for the world at large, the berries must be prepared in a very specific way to create an effective juice, and only the Gummis have the secret.
- Precocious Crush: Sunni has one for Gusto, who is either oblivious or politely uninterested.
- Princesses Prefer Pink: Calla and Marie both wear pink dresses.
- Puppy Love: It's clear Cavin and Calla have a mutual crush on each other.
- Ragnarok-Proofing: Averted in that many of the Great Gummi artifacts found often have to be refueled, reconditioned or otherwise have just decayed to uselessness.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: King Gregor. This extends into his personal life when he eventually discovers, and quickly learns to be pleased, at how powerful a warrior his daughter has become.
- Rebellious Princess: Princess Calla to a T.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Gruffi, the no-nonsense conservative, is often at odds with Grammi, who is far more progressive, and Gusto, who is out to lunch.
- Remembered Too Late: Zummi does this with the fact that Gummi berry juice only works on humans once a day.
- The Renaissance Age of Animation: The Disney cartoon that finally introduced quality animation to made-for-TV cartoons, playing a big role in getting rid of lingering legacy of The Dark Age of Animation.
- The Rival: Princess Marie to Princess Calla.
- Rope Bridge:
- Seen in "Zummi Makes it Hot," when the heroes eventually set it on fire to evade pursuit.
- Also shows up in "A Bridge On the River Gummi" when Gruffi attempts to build a much nicer bridge over the former Rope Bridge after it collapses.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Princess Calla and King Gregor count for this in spades. In the grand finale of the series, it is Gregor who actually kicks Igthorn's butt.
- Scooby-Dooby Doors
- Secret Keeper: Cavin and, later, Calla.
- Still later, we also get Cavin's grandfather, Sir Gowan (from whom Cavin received the Gummi medallion).
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Calla proves this on several occasions.
- She Is All Grown Up: Happens to Sunni in the space of one episode, due to a Rapid Aging Phlebotinum. Unfortunately, the aging doesn't stop at "filled out"...
- Shorter Means Smarter: The Gummis are both considerably smaller and considerably smarter than most of their opponents (though not their human friends and allies).
- Toadwart, who is extremely short for an ogre, also happens to be the smartest of them. Mind you, that isn't saying much.
- Shout-Out: The show has a lot of references to other Disney works.
- You can see a Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck statue on one of the sculptor's shelves in "The Sinister Sculptor."
- Princess Calla wears a dress very similar to Snow White's.
- In "Queen Of The Carpies" the Carpie King says "you bet your bear necessities."
- In "Sweet and Sour Gruffi", Grammi sarcastically calls Gruffi "Mr. Know-it-All" and later on exclaims "Hokey Smoke!". Since this is one of the episodes where Bill Scott voices Gruffi, this doubles as a Casting Gag.
- One episode has a dimwitted thief saying "I taw I taw a Gummi Bear".
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Sir Victor fights for good while his brother Duke Igthorn fights for evil.
- Sixth Ranger: Well, seventh: Gusto.
- Smooch of Victory: Cavin gets one from Calla at the end of "Ogre For A Day."
- Spiritual Successor: To The Black Cauldron (the Disney film, not the book).
- Spoiled Brat: Princess Marie.
- Spoonerism: Zummi megularly rakes these. Bit of a problem when he needs to use magic with Exact Wording.
- Sugar Bowl: Somewhat less than you'd think for a show named after a candy.
- Super Hero Episode: Cubbi's stories as the Crimson Avenger.
- Super Serum: Gummiberry Juice which makes the Gummis bounce and gives humans and ogres a few minutes of super strength. Not to mention it's also good as motor fuel for Gummi machines.
- Swan Boats: Our gummi bears had a roller coaster-like transportation system with cars that normally were shaped like birds of prey. However, when they journey to a lost city, the cars there are shaped like swans.
- Taken for Granite: The unnamed villain in "The Sinister Sculptor" poses as a sculptor selling his art, but actually has no talent whatsoever, using magic dust that he stole from a wizard to turn forest animals (and the Gummis) to stone.
- Those Two Bad Guys: Gad and Zook.
- Tickle Torture: Igthorn does it to Grammi in one episode.
- Title Theme Tune: Although it's a milder example than subsequent Disney animated shows.
- Token Human: Cavin and Calla.
- Took a Level in Badass:
- Cubbi when he becomes the Crimson Avenger.
- Anyone who drinks Gummiberry juice.
- Too Dumb to Live:
- Sir Thornberry on the Gummi Bears' side.
- Gusto, sometimes.
- All the ogres, except Toadie.
- Actually, Toadie too, sometimes, like the time he stole a whole keg of Gummiberry Juice and then drank the whole keg at once, with rather explosive results.
- Unwanted Assistance: A blind woman to Toadie and two ogres; she does it on purpose.
- Vanishing Village: Castle Gummadoon. Gummadoon's wizards cast a spell over the whole castle to stop humans from capturing it and taking Gummi technology for themselves. To everyone outside, it's vanished and only reappears for one day every hundred years; to everyone inside, one night has passed. Presumably they'll lift the spell when they think humans have changed.
- Wave Motion Gun:
- The Gummiscope. Although its real purpose is as a giant solar powered messaging machine, it can be used as as a massive energy cannon if there is enough solar energy to power it.
- By contrast, the Great Horn of Ursalia is definitely a Weapon of Mass Destruction.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: While the Barbics' hatred and distrust of humanity is far from unjustified, their desire to destroy all of it puts them at odds with the Glen Gummis in "Return to Ursalia."
- Wham Episode: The final two parter; Igthorn leaves the kingdom and after months of nothing happening, Zummi sends a message to the Great Gummis, announcing that the kingdom is finally safe and ready for their return. Then Igthorn suddenly returns, more terrible than ever, and quickly succeeds at completely destroying Gummi Glen, capturing the Gummis and stealing the secret of the Gummi Berry Juice from them, and immediately leading his army of super powerful ogres against Dunwyn castle, demolishing its defenses and crowning himself as the new king. All of this is just one episode. Sure, everything turns out all right in the end, but still.
- When Trees Attack
- Whole Costume Reference: In one episode, Calla wears a dress identical to Snow White's iconic dress.
- Whole Plot Reference: "Bridge On the River Gummi"
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Zummi is deathly afraid of heights.
- You Don't Want to Catch This: Gummioleosis, when Cubbi and Gusto are captured by the ogres.