Western Animation / All Dogs Go to Heaven

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All Dogs Go to Heaven is a Don Bluth film released in 1989, being very loosely inspired by the obscure 1943 book by Beth Brown.

The film tells the story of a German shepherd named Charlie B. Barkin (voice by Burt Reynolds), a roguish German shepherd con man "with the heart of a marshmallow." After breaking out of the local dog pound, Charlie confronts his business partner, an unscrupulous gangster named Carface Carruthers (voice by Vic Tayback in his second-to-last role) to work out an agreement that'll let the two of them split their profits 50/50 so Charlie can start his own business without giving Carface's a bad name. Carface, who got Charlie sent to the pound in the first place and is looking to do away with him permanently, takes him out for a celebration, gets him drunk and murders him via vehicular manslaughter (dog-slaughter?).

Charlie ends up in Heaven, where he learns that all dogs go to heaven because, unlike humans, dogs are naturally loyal and kind. Uninterested with the boredom of paradise and desperate to get his revenge on Carface, Charlie steals back the gold pocket watch which contains his lifeline (and that Careface gave to him during their "celebration") and returns to Earth. He soon discovers that Carface has been able to keep the casino afloat without him with a special asset, a young orphan girl named Anne-Marie (voiced by Judith Barsi in her final role) who has the ability to speak to all animals. Along with his friend Itchy (voiced by Dom De Luise), Charlie steals the girl and uses her to bet on horse races, using the money to build his own casino.

Soon, Charlie starts to grow attached to the little girl, who desperately wants a family, and undergoes a change of heart. Meanwhile, Carface has learned that Charlie is still alive and is plotting to kill him again. Charlie also has to ensure that nothing happens to his watch, as winding it back to return to earth has cost him in "get into heaven free" card and he'll be sent to hell if it stops.

If the movie is remembered for much else, it's the fact that it was released on the same day as (and financially massacred by) Disney's The Little Mermaid. Disney reclaiming their spot as top dog in the animation business after years of being shown up by Bluth's independent features effectively ended their rivalry and Bluth would spend the following decade producing a string of flops until semi-retiring in 2000.

Dogs, meanwhile, went on to have a healthy shelf life, becoming the highest-grossing VHS release of 1990. Seven years later, it received a sequel, All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 (par for the course for every animated film ever during that time), and a TV series adaptation, neither of which Bluth had any involvement with.


This animated film and its related works provide examples of the following tropes:

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    The 1989 Original 
  • Afraid of Blood: Killer, which may be why he prefers to "use the pliers".
  • All Dogs Are Purebred: According to one song, Charlie is about as mixed as they come, yet he looks like a German shepherd through and through. Itchy identifies himself as a "wiener dog" and Charlie calls Itchy a dachshund during a particular song. Carface appears to be an English bulldog. The angel dog is a whippet, pointed out by Charlie. Apart from that, a number of minor dog characters look ambiguous enough that they might be mutts, but it's a bit tricky to tell with the art style.
    • According to the DVD back cover, Carface is a pit bull.
  • Amazing Technicolor Puppies: The puppies Flo is looking after are all bright, unnatural colors compared to all the other dogs, who have more muted colors.
  • Ambiguously Gay: King Gator and, to a lesser extent, Killer.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Itchy. He has a distinctly New York Jewish accent, mentions bar mitzvahs, and sure can kvetch.
  • AM/FM Characterization: When Charlie meets up with Carface after escaping from the pound, Charlie turns on the radio so he can listen to some jazz while they talk, while Carface turns it off so they can just talk business. They go back and forth until Carface has enough and pulls out the knob to turn off the radio for good.
  • Anachronism Stew: Killer calls his gun a "Flash Gordon atomic ray gun". Forgetting for a moment that ray guns have yet to become a reality in the 21st century, where did he manage to acquire an atomic ray gun in the year 1939?
  • Animal Talk: A variation: animals can only talk to others of their own species, while the orphan girl Anne-Marie is the only character who is able to speak to all animals. This is made explicit when it's revealed that Anne-Marie is being exploited by Carface, since she can inform him who will win in a race. It's mostly adhered to throughout, but has a handful of subversions, such as King Gator and Charlie's musical number and the horses understanding the dog's insults despite the dogs not understanding them. There's also the never-fully-explained language barrier when Anne-Marie says she can't understand the rat minions because the "talk too funny," implying that the sounds they're making are a language, just not English.
  • Arc Words: "You can never go back," said by the heavenly whippet to Charlie when he winds his watch to go back to Earth, letting him know that he's no longer guaranteed a place in heaven just for being a dog and that he'll go to hell if he dies again. During his nightmare, the hell hound bellows at Charlie "You can never go back!"
  • Ascended Meme: The Blu-Ray cover dedicates an awful lot of space to the literal big-lipped alligator.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Downplayed. Charlie manages to go back to Earth and give Carface his just deserts, but in the end, he's still dead from when Carface murdered him.
  • Big Damn Heroes: King Gator pulls this at the end of the movie, showing up just in time to free Charlie and eat Carface.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Charlie dies while saving Anne-Marie, but in the process, redeems himself, earns his way back into heaven and gets to say goodbye to her one last time.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Charlie has a couple with Anne Marie. First, she tries to walk out on him when he spends more time on his casino than helping to find parents for her and not using any of it to help the poor like he promised. He quickly assuages her by taking her to bring some pizza to Flo's puppies. They have a more serious one later when she overhears him telling Itchy that he doesn't care about her and runs off in tears, but they make peace just before Charlie ascends to heaven.
  • But Now I Must Go: Charlie dies and must return to the afterlife, but he gets to say goodbye to Anne-Marie, telling her "Goodbyes aren't forever."
  • Chekhov's Gun: Charlie's high-pitched howl. It's first introduced when he uses it to let his presence be known upon returning to Carface's casino. Later, it convinces King Gator not to eat him because he thinks Charlie is singing and loves his voice and signals him during the climax when he's needed.
  • Could Have Avoided This Plot: A somewhat tragic version of this, Itchy begs Charlie at the beginning not to go through with this harebrained revenge scheme and start fresh somewhere else. He brings it up again when Carface tracks him down, tries to kill him and burns down their new casino.
  • Cowardly Sidekick: Itchy, most of the time.
  • Crapsack World: Charlie insists on indulging the many vices of the casino business he once shared with Carface, which leads to all manner of betrayal, gluttony, corruption, greed, and murder. His fondness for this kind of life is what eventually leads to the demise of both himself and Carface, and the destruction of their competing enterprises.
  • Deal with the Devil
    • It's implied that Charlie had struck a bargain with the Hellhound so that can see Anne-Marie one last time and say goodbye to her.
    • A figurative one, Carface makes Charlie a bargain. If they split up all of the meats, then Charlie will go into business for himself and possibly hiding. Unfortunately, he only makes the deal so that he can dispose of and kill him.
  • Death's Hourglass: Charlie's pocket watch. When it stops, so does his life.
  • Defector From Paradise: Charlie Barkin immediately decides to defect from Heaven upon explanation of its lack of thrill, complete predictability, and cushy lifestyle. It's best described in his song, "Let Me Be Surprised". Carface tries to do this in The Stinger, but the archangel whippet chases him down before he gets the chance.
  • Deus ex Machina: Moments away from being swallowed by a massive gator, Charlie lets out a high-pitched howl, convincing the gator to let him go because he thinks Charlie has a beautiful singing voice. Whew, that was close!
  • Disney Villain Death: Subverted. Carface survives a high fall from a high platform into the bayou, and is promptly chased after (and implied to have been eaten) by King Gator.
  • Dragons Are Demonic: One appears at the end in the form of a billowing, blood-read cloud to take Charlie to Hell. Thankfully, the angel shows up, drives the dragon away, and tells Charlie his place in Heaven has been restored due to his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Earn Your Bittersweet Ending: At the end of the day, Charlie is still dead, but at least he saved Anne-Marie, found her a good home and is allowed to ascend to heaven after his Heroic Sacrifice earns him his place there.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even before his Character Development kicks in and Charlie truly grows to care for Anne-Marie, he is utterly indignant when she compares his treatment of her to Carface. Furthermore, many of Carface and Charlie's employees and customers at their casino remark that Charlie treats them better than Carface does.
  • Every Proper Lady Should Curtsy: Anne Marie curtsies to Charlie's friends after being introduced.
  • Exit Pursued By An Alligator: Carface's ultimate fate.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Carface's raygun, not without reason: a highly publicized school shooting in LA and the murder of Judith Barsi, who played Anne-Marie, both occurred midway through production.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: Driven into the ground.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: Driven to the moon and back.
  • Food Porn: The waffles and the pizza.
  • Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better: Two-legged Charlie, a German Shepherd/Collie mix, contrasts with Itchy Itchiford, who walks on all fours because of his Dachshund anatomy.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Pausing on Charlie's record in Heaven not only lets the viewer see the names of his parents and a rather cute baby picture, but some very readable text. Apparently, Charlie is "mostly German Shepherd, but also part Collie, part Great Dane, and part whatever." It even mentions that Charlie is "a good dog."
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Averted. Carface's plot to murder Charlie relies entirely on getting him too drunk to be suspicious.
  • Gentle Giant: King Gator.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: "Let Me Be Surprised" has a couple lines passively mentioning singles bars and "love from a stranger." Not vulgar, per se, but not child-friendly either.
  • Good Is Boring: The reason Charlie rejects Heaven.
  • The Great Depression: The film's time period.
  • Grotesque Gallery: Most of the character designs hover along the Ugly Cute border, but King Gator's character design is... a bit much. As well as a pink horse.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Anne-Marie.
  • Hell of a Heaven: The afterlife is nice, but Charlie isn't happy about staying there right yet as he misses things from his life. Carface obviously hates it as well, and breaks out at the end.
  • The Hero Dies: Unusually, Charlie dies at the beginning of the movie, only to cheat his way back to life. He dies for good at the end while saving Anne-Marie.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Torn between the choice of saving his own Soul Jar vs. rescuing Anne-Marie from drowning, Charlie picks the latter. It ultimately costs him his life, but also earns his redemption.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Charlie and Itchy, as portrayed by actual heterosexual life partners Burt Reynolds and Dom De Luise. In a surprisingly tragic take on this concept, Itchy's What the Hell, Hero? moment is all about how his love for his best friend is the only reason he goes through with Charlie's crazy schemes which ultimately kills Charlie and almost kills him.
  • Hollywood Natives: The sewer rats, and their leader/god King Gator have bones stuck in their noses. The rats act a lot like the natives from King Kong.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Itchy. The guy draws up the blueprints for and builds Charlie's casino by himself!
  • Ink-Suit Actor
    • Charlie is designed with Burt Reynold's thick, expressive eyebrows, as well as a little fluff on his muzzle to resemble Reynolds' mustache.
    • Killer, meanwhile, sports Charles Nelson Riley's comically oversized spectacles and trademark "disgusted" look.
  • It Is Not Your Time: Quite averted for a story where characters returning from the dead is a theme. Charlie, however, lies to Itchy and tells him this is the case.
  • It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans
  • Ironic Echo: Annabelle says to Charlie as he is expelled from heaven, "You can never come back!" Later, in his nightmare of being dragged into hell, the devil growls to Charlie, "You can never go back."
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Charlie is a selfish, greedy con artist, but he cares about his friends and is implied to be a Benevolent Boss to the patrons of his casino. One DVD release described him as having "the roguish charm of a con man and the heart of a marshmallow."
  • Karma Houdini: Plot relevant! As the heavenly whippet says, all dogs go to heaven because, unlike humans, they're naturally good, loyal and kind. She can't find a single redeeming quality about him while looking over his life. Even Carface—murdering, kidnapping, horrible Carface—ends up there at the end. However, there's a catch: if you try to go back to Earth, you don't get back in to heaven automatically.note 
  • Large Ham: "A number 3, Lame Dog."
  • Last Chorus Slow-Down: "Hey! I know we're dead up here, but so's the music!"
  • Love Redeems
  • Manly Tears: Charlie sheds a single tear at the end. And Itchy sheds his share whilechewing out Charlie.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Killer.
  • Mood Whiplash: A couple.
    • Halfway through the movie, a happy sharing song, a sad "I Want" Song, and a nightmare all occur one after the other in the span of about ten minutes.
    • After Charlie's ghost says one last goodbye to Anne-Marie and ascends to heaven, a heavenly chorus sings in the credits right before Charlie demands something a little livelier.
  • Mook–Face Turn: Probably applies to Killer, who loyally serves Carface throughout most of the film, but is the one to swim Anne-Marie to safety at the end. Though it may have more to do with the fact that his boss was just eaten by an alligator.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Despite what they say, this is not a lighthearted comedy.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Two of them.
    • First, Charlie has that ever-so-lovely dream about going to Hell.
    • Second, towards the beginning, after Charlie dies, Itchy has a nightmare that Carface is strangling him, but then hears Charlie's voice telling him, "Itchy, it's okay! It's okay, little buddy! It's me, Charlie!" and wakes up to discover Charlie, alive and well, shaking him awake.
  • No Name Given: The heavenly whippet. She's named Annabelle in the sequel.
  • Orphan's Ordeal: Anne-Marie lives in a junkyard and gets kidnapped by a gang of gambling dogs to be exploited for her ability to communicate with animals.
  • Parental Abandonment: Anne-Marie
  • Pet the Dog: A rare example where it is the dog which pets the human. Charlie gets this literally when he says goodbye to Anne-Marie.
  • Pounds Are Animal Prisons: The opening of the movie, complete with dramatic jailbreak.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Killer before his Mook–Face Turn at the end of the movie.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Anne Marie. She has been compared to Snow White.
  • Recognizable by Sound: King Gator has Charlie between his jaws when Charlie howls in terror. The sound is so melodious to the alligator that he set Charlie free. Later in the story, the evil Carface has captured Charlie, and has caused Charlie to howl in pain. Miles away, the Big-Lipped Alligator hears this cry, and comes to Charlie's rescue in a Big Damn Heroes moment.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Charlie is red, Itchy is blue
  • Redemption Equals Death: A variation. Charlie dies while saving Anne Marie, but because he proved that he can care for someone besides himself, he saves his soul from Hell, thus saving his afterlife.
  • Reflective Eyes: Charlie and Anne-Marie at the end when they're saying good-bye.
  • Refusing Paradise: A non-heroic example. Charlie tricking his way out of Heaven sets the whole plot in motion.
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation
  • Revenge Before Reason: Charlie is willing to forever forsake his place in Heaven to get revenge on Carface for murdering him in the first place.
  • Right Behind Me: Near the end, Charlie says that he's only using Anne-Marie and only pretends to be her friend to Itchy, unaware that Anne-Marie is standing on the steps behind him.
  • Ring of Fire: Though it doesn't happen IN one, the final fight between Charlie and Carface happens above one, during which Carface falls into it and is eaten by King Gator. Charlie then has to rescue an unconscious Anne-Marie from the burning ring.
  • Sapient Eat Sapient: King Gator only decides not to eat Charlie and Anne-Marie due to Charlie's singing voice, never mind the fact he can apparently communicate with both of them.
  • Satan: A giant red dragon-like creature appears to Charlie in a nightmare of Hell and appears outside Anne-Marie's house near the end of the movie, and is implied to be Satan.
  • Say My Name: It's astounding how many times people say Charlie's name in this movie - 122 times total!
  • Second Face Smoke: Carface does this to a rat and Killer.
  • Sewer Gator: King Gator, aka the big-lipped alligator, who is worshiped by the sewer rats living with him in the sewers of New Orleans.
  • Shark Pool: Carface uses the piranha-filled version of this trope to dispose of Killer after he fails him twice. That is, until Killer mentions he has a gun.
  • Shopping Montage: Used to cheer the disillusioned Anne-Marie.
  • Shout-Out
    • Anne-Marie's outfit and hair are modeled after Disney's version of Snow White.
    • The trope-naming Big-Lipped Alligator Moment at least starts as an homage to King Kong, up to and including the beast falling for his captive, before completely going off the rails.
    • It's a Buck Rogers ray gun!
  • Sidekick Song: "LET'S MAKE MUSIC TOGETHER!"
  • Slasher Smile: Carface breaks into a twisted one after learning that Killer has "a ray gun" stashed away.
  • Soul Jar: Charlie's watch. When it stops ticking, that's the end of his borrowed time... but as long as it remains undamaged, he's immortal.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Anne-Marie.
  • Subtext: "You're in love with the girl!"
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Carface ("MORONS! I'm surrounded by MORONS!!!")
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: How Carface kills off Charlie. By getting him sloppy drunk, blindfolded and lining him up to be hit by a car on a pier. It wouldn't be enough to just lead him into a busy street or drown him, he does both to be one of the few animated villains to actually kill the protagonist early on.
  • Through a Face Full of Fur: Killer turns a sickly shade of green whenever Carface blows from his cigar into his face.
  • Title Drop: Courtesy of the heavenly whippet who also tells us why all dogs go to heaven: "Unlike humans, dogs are naturally good and loyal and kind."
  • Totem Pole Trench: With two dogs and a human. Amazingly, it works.
  • Undying Loyalty: Itchy and Charlie. They are dogs, after all.
  • Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey: Carface, a menacing pit bull crime lord, has the myopic, neurotic poodle Killer for a minion.
  • Villain Protagonist: Charlie, before his Character Development.
  • Visual Pun: Charlie's Soul Jar is a watch. He's living on "borrowed time."
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: The tribe of sewer rats that captures Charlie and Anne-Marie.
  • Watching Troy Burn: Itchy returns to the monastery to chew Charlie out for wasting too much time with the girl (and nearly getting him killed), just in time for both of them to look over the junkyard and see their new casino go up in flames.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Itchy's rant to Charlie after Carface's thugs nearly kill him. Shortly thereafter, Anne Marie hears Charlie telling Itchy that he's going to use her to get all their money back, then dump her in an orphanage, and she bursts into tears while yelling at him that he's a bad dog.
  • Wild Take
    • Killer springing in mid-air, his eyes bulging in and out, and screaming, after he retrieves and puts back on his glasses, when he sees Charlie and Itchy are out of prison clearly enough the second time.
    • Carface gets two. The first is when Charlie is freed from the anchor. The second is when he sees King Gator swimming towards him.
  • Wingding Eyes: Charlie demonstrates the "dollar sign" version when planning to make a killing using Anne-Marie's talent for talking to animals.
  • You Have Failed Me: Halfway through the movie, Carface is lowering Killer into a piranha tank, after discovering Charlie is still alive.
    Carface: Charlie's alive, and I know he's got the girl. Killer, this is strike two. You're out.
    Killer: No, wait boss, boss! I get one more strike boss, honest!
    Carface: Lower him. Nothing personal, Killer. Business.

    The TV series and Christmas Special 
  • Art Evolution: While the first film boasted Don Bluth's trademark lush, classical animation, the sequel and TV series simplified the characters to be more youthful and easier to animate until they resembled Filmation levels of Limited Animation. Compare this to this, and you'd almost think these were two different characters.
  • Big Word Shout: Carface screams, "STOOOOPPPPPPPPP!" when Timmy, under the control of Belladonna's dog whistle steals a present and goes out the dog door.
  • Broad Strokes: To say that the series followed the films... loosely would be an understatement.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Belladonna describes "the other side" as an equal opportunity employer when she's trying to recruit Charlie to her side.
  • Evil Counterpart: Belladonna to Annabelle.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    Killer (to Itchy, Disguised in Drag): "Hey baby, y'like wrestlin'?"
    Itchy: "Sure! I'm wrestlin' with these panty hose right now."
  • Heel–Face Turn: Invoked with Carface in the Christmas Special, where Charlie's plot is to turn him good so that Belladonna's plan could be stopped.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: The show can't decide if Charlie is a reformed con artist, a beleaguered servant to Annabelle or an outright petty criminal.
  • Mood Whiplash: Practically invoked in "Clean Up Your Act" in the Christmas Carol. It goes back and forth between visions of Heaven and of Hell. It works because its done by the Ghost Of Christmas Future (played by Charlie) and is showing both possible outcomes to Carface's future.
  • Off-Model: The show was very obviously made on a much smaller budget than the movie, and it shows. Proportions changes from shot to shot, the anthro characters' anatomy flip-flops between canine and humanoid, certain shots are animated with very obvious Ring Around the Collar while others just move the cels up and down and there are a handful of shots where background characters are completely static. To say nothing of the frequent perspective wonks done to make the animation easier. The Christmas Special amends much of this, as it was given a slightly bigger budget.
  • Origins Episode: "When Harry met Silly", detailing how Charlie & Itchy met and became friends.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Happens with Carface in the Christmas Special, which is also the series finale. Applies because he was working as Belladonna's henchman at the time.
  • The Rashomon: "He Barked, She Barked" combines this with a Courtroom Episode where Belladonna accuses Charlie of abusing his miracle dog tag for selfish gain to take a canine widow's steaks while leaving her to presumably die in a sewer pit as it collapsed. Carface's testimony portrays Charlie as a thug more like his pre-Character Development self and himself as a goody two-shoes. Itchy's testimony makes Charlie into an overly heroic figure (complete with a Stetson) and Carface as a Dastardly Whiplash villain. Killer's testimony portrays Carface as his lackey and Charlie as dropping the widow when the "rescue failed". And Charlie's own testimony portrays him as trying to save the widow but dropping her when the miracle dog tag fails to levitate her. The truth is that Belladonna was the widow dog and it was all an obvious scheme to get Charlie's angelic status revoked. And miracle dog tags don't work on hellish beings like her.
  • Recycled In Space: Touched by an Angel WITH DOGS!
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Subverted with Belladonna and Annabelle. The syllables are reversed, not the letters.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Cousins Annabelle and Belladonna could easily pass for sisters. It doesn't help that they're played by the same actress.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Belladonna. Taken Up to Eleven in the Christmas Special.
  • Villain Decay: In the first movie, Carface is intelligent and dangerous. Here, he's a cowardly, bumbling Fat Idiot.
  • Villain Song: Belladonna, Anabelle's demonic cousin gets one in both appearences. In the first one, it's Take The Easy Way Out, which is an attempt at luring Charlie to her side and it works...for a bit. In the Christmas Special, where she's the Big Bad, she sings I Always Get Emotional At Christmas Time, a song about how much she loves ruining Christmas.
  • Villainous Crush: At times, it seems Belladonna's interest in Charlie is a bit more than just getting him to 'play for her side' (including shaking her rear at him rather seductively in her Villain Song). Though this doesn't stop her from flying into a psychotic rage when she's foiled.
  • Vocal Evolution: Taken Up to Eleven with Charlie, who's on his third voice actor (Steven Webber) by the time of the TV series. While Charlie Sheen's voice for him in All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 had at least a similar low-key smarminess to Burt Reynolds' in the original, Webber plays him much louder and high-pitched.


Alternative Title(s): All Dogs Go To Heaven, All Dogs Go To Heaven The Series, An All Dogs Christmas Carol

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/WesternAnimation/AllDogsGoToHeaven?from=Film.AllDogsGoToHeaven