Western Animation: Alvin and the Chipmunks
Left to right: Theodore, Alvin and Simon.Alvin and the Chipmunks
, later renamed The Chipmunks
, is an American animated television featuring The Chipmunks produced by Bagdasarian Productions (formally known as Bagdasarian Film Corporation) in association with Ruby Spears Enterprises
from 1983-1987 and DIC Entertainment
The show, airing on NBC
, lasted eight production seasons. It also introduces the Chipmunks' Distaff Counterparts
, The Chipettes:
- Brittany, who is vainer like Alvin.
- Jeanette, who is smart like Simon;
- and Eleanor, who is caring like Theodore
- Then in season four, their own human guardian, the myopic Miss Beatrice Miller, was introduced.
The outline of the 80s show closely paralleled its 1961 animated series
predecessor, The Alvin Show
, reflecting contemporary trends and popular culture; the Chipmunks sang recent hits, and wore contemporary clothing.
During the show's fifth season, The Chipmunks
first animated feature film, The Chipmunk Adventure
was released to theatres by The Samuel Goldwyn Company to theaters in 1987. Directed by Janice Karman, produced by Ross Bagdasarian Jr. and written by both, the movie features The Chipmunks
and The Chipettes
in a contest traveling around the world.
There were also three Bagdasarian Production produced direct-to-videos
:The first two, Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein
& Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman
were horror-themed films released under Universal Studios Home Entertainment
The third and (thus far) final direct-to-video film, Little Alvin and the Mini-Munks
was released under Paramount Home Entertainment
. This film has Ross Bagdasarian Jr. as the live action
Dave Seville and wife, Janice Karman as his friend, Lalu. It also features puppetry used for The Chipmunks
and The Chipettes
The series also had eight specials in all. It is also worth noting that the first special, A Chipmunk Christmas
drawn by Chuck Jones
came two years before the show, nine years after the passing of the Chipmunks
creator. The special formed the basis for the series.
The show was rebooted for the eighth season, which was called The Chipmunks go to the Movies
, which parodied movies, shows and such.
Also, in 1990, Alvin, Simon and Theodore starred in a drug abuse prevention
special with other popular Saturday morning showsnote
called Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue
The show ultimately vanished from the airwaves in the 1990s, though Cartoon Network
aired the 65-episode syndication package from 1993 to 2001 and Nickelodeon
aired the show from 1995 to 1997.
In the last couple of years however, a live-action adaptation
with computer-generated (and realistically sized) chipmunks and Jason Lee
as the new David Seville, has revived the characters somewhat. So much so, in fact, that it has spawned two sequels, at least one of which averts Sequelitis
.NOTE: Tropes under here are specifically for the '80s cartoon series
Alvin and the Chipmunks provides examples of the following tropes:
- The Abridged Series: The Chipmunks Parody Show.
- Accidental Misnaming:
- In the episode "Snow Job", Alvin wishes to enter John Colorado's Celebrity Ski Tournament; a Running Gag throughout the rest of the episode is Colorado not remembering Alvin's name, refering to him as Alfred, Irvin, Melvin, Elmo, and engraving his trophy with, "First Place to Marvin Seville".
- In "Cadet's Regrets," General Granite keeps calling Theodore "Cadillac," despite Theodore repeatedly reminding him it's "Seville."
- Adult Fear: In the episode "Help Wanted: Mommy", having siblings being split up into different foster houses is something a lot of parents don't want to happen.
- All Just a Dream: There were some episodes, like when Alvin had a fever or when Dave thought he'd shrunk where's he able to stand in someone's palm.
- Always Someone Better: Alvin encountered one of these in the person of a boy named Apollo Jones, who kept beating him at everything. It turned out that Apollo genuinely envied Alvin because Alvin had one thing he himself lacked — a family that could be bothered with him. Apollo's parents were rarely home and sent him extremely generic postcards from wherever they went.
- Art Evolution: For this specific show, as noted on the franchise page, it went through three different animation studios: Ruby-Spears Enterprises animated Seasons One through Five, Murakami-Wolf-Swenson (now Fred Wolf Films) animated the first eleven episodes of Season Six (which were produced specifically for the syndication package), and DiC Entertainment animated the rest of Season Six, as well as Seven and Eight. While the Ruby-Spears seasons have more detailed and consistent animation, the character designs started out rather simplistic with an almost Hanna-Barbera look (which makes sense, considering Ruby-Spears was both a spinoff of and a sister studio to Hanna-Barbera), though in their last two seasons, the characters designs improved greatly, as well as the color palette of the show was richer and more saturated. Both MWS and DiC kept with the slightly overhauled versions of the character designs (the original designs were by Corny Cole, while Sandra Berez later tweaked them for The Chipmunk Adventure), their animation was a lot more simplistic and off model; DiC was the worst offender of this, though the MWS episodes are pretty decent for the most part.
- Attack of the Political Ad: The episode "May the Best Chipmunk Win". at one point, Alvin rides around the playground in a wagon pulled by a donkey, while Simon and Theodore proclaim, "Don't be a donkey, vote for Alvin!" THEN, in comes Brittany, riding on the back of a elephant asking for votes.
- Auction: In one of the '80s episodes, Alvin gets in over his head bidding on expensive items to impress a rich girl he likes.
- Autobots, Rock Out!: The opening/closing themes of season 6.
- Beautiful All Along: Jeanette — She Cleans Up Nicely. Confirmed and done in the episode "My Fair Chipette", to the point that even Brittany was threatened.
Brittany: Jeanette looked beau-beau-
Brittany: I've got to find a real show stopper for the talent contest!
- Beware the Nice Ones: Averted with Theodore, who (surprisingly to some) is a big fan of soap operas and crime dramas.
- Be Yourself: The Aesop for aforementioned episode "My Fair Chipette."
- Bigger Than Jesus: One cartoon formatted as a documentary on the rise and popularity of the group shows one segment where Alvin shocks everyone at a press conference, including Simon and Theodore, by shouting, "We're bigger than Mickey Mouse!" People start destroying their Chipmunks merchandise as Alvin is forced to make an apology to the press soon after.
- Bruce Wayne Held Hostage: In the Batman parody episode.
- With Mr T! Both their cartoons premiered simultaneously and are made by the same production company.
- And the '80s chipmunks with their '60s' incarnation
- Celebrity Star: The '80s installment "Urban Chipmunk" has a guest appearance by Dolly Parton, unusual for Saturday morning cartoons of the time.
- Character Development: Very, very rare for an animated children's series. Simon, especially, is more of a well-rounded character as the series progresses.
- The City vs. the Country: Played with in both episodes featuring The Chipmunks' mother Vinny. "Vinny's Visit" especially puts this into perspective, as she still tries to carry on with her woodland lifestyle, despite being a guest at the Seville house.
- Class Trip
- Clip Show: The episodes "Chipmunkmania" and "Alvin in Analysis".
- Clumsy Copyright Censorship: As of this writing, at least three episodes had their original respective songs replaced on DVD collections: The Clovers' "Love Potion No. 9" (from "Theodore and Juliet"), The Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA" (from "The Curse of Lontiki"), and The Beatles' "When I'm Sixty-Four" (from "The Picture of Health").
- Conspicuous Consumption
- Courtroom Episode: "Tell it to the Judge" from Season Five, in which Alvin sues Brittany, claiming she totalled Dave's new bicycle; Brittany counter sues, claiming Alvin ruined her new pair of roller skates.
- Darker and Edgier: Some surprising moments...
- "Cookie Chomper III"
- A Halloween special in the mid-90s features a boy named Michael who has a deformity that other kids ridicule him for, but Theodore quickly becomes good friends with him and realizes he's really no different from other kids.
- Some episodes from the last season (The Chipmunks Go to the Movies) are only slightly more mature than the rest of the series, probably considering they did parody some more "grown-up" movies.
- One episode actually dealt with the Berlin Wall!
- Death by Newbery Medal: "Cookie Chomper III"
- Depth Deception: A bug mistaken for an alien.
- Don't Split Us Up: The first episode of season four that introduces Miss Miller did this with the Chipettes.
- Doorstop Baby: The Chipmunks, when left by their mother, Vinnie, in Dave's forest cabin.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Actually, it's more like Later Installment Weirdess. Since the DiC episodes (including The Chipmunks Go to the Movies) were not seen in reruns for a long period of time, and have had limited episodes released on DVD, it can be a rather disorienting experience for those who are most accustomed to the Ruby-Spears, and the Murakumi-Wolf-Swenson episodes. Also considering the storylines by the DiC era were becoming far more over-the-top cartoony and less believable ("Dear Diary" is a good example). The Chipmunks Go to the Movies especially are just Plain Weird Installment Weirdness.
- Election Day Episode: In "May the Best Chipmunk Win," Alvin is running for school president, with absolutely no competition whatsoever; that is, until The Chipettes enroll at their school, and Brittany decides to run against Alvin in an attempt to gain popularity. Things really get sticky when they're tied in the polls and it turns out Jeanette has the deciding vote.
- Evil Uncle: Charlatan "Uncle" Harry, who pretended to be the brother of their mother so he could scam them.
- "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: The episode "Inner Dave".
- Fiery Redhead: Brittany Miller qualifies.
- First Gray Hair: Alvin, Simon and Theodore once painted a small portion of Dave's hair white to give them an excuse to treat him like he was treating his Uncle Willie (a.k.a. Uncle Adventure). Namely, treating him like he couldn't do anything by himself.
- Fragile Flower: Something doesn't go Brittany's way, or the way she didn't want it to? Cue the tear flow!
- Get Back to the Future: "Back to Dave's Future"
- Girls' Night Out Episode: A handful of episodes during the 2nd half of the shows run focus exclusively on the Chipettes; most prominently the final Ruby-Spears produced episode.
- Girl Posse: Brittany tries to initiate herself in one in the episode "Sisters".
- The Grotesque: Michael in "Trick or Treason".
- Hair-Trigger Avalanche: In "Mind Over Matterhorn".
- Have a Gay Old Time: The TV show's theme contains quite a bit. The series's Totally Radical pretensions don't help matters. "We'll give you action and satisfaction" indeed...
- High School Hustler: Alvin. Though the proper term would be Elementary School Hustler.
- I'll Tell You When I've Had Enough!: Spoofed with Theodore drinking carrot juice at a bar.
- Imaginary Love Triangle:
- An episode had one involving a Girl of the Week, Simon, and a biker boy. Alvin convinced Simon to try out for a bike competition to impress the girl, only to find out that the biker was her cousin.
- Played with VERY briefly at one point where both Alvin and Simon try to impress a Girl of the Week (Alvin with his athletic abilities, Simon with his manners and chivalry).
- Impersonation Gambit:
- "The Price Isn't Right" has Simon goes on a trivia game show. When he gets sick with the flu, the follow up appearances call for Theodore and Alvin to stand in for him. Needless to say, Hilarity Ensues when Alvin-as-Simon misses the final question.
- "Sincerely Theodore" has Theodore and Alvin swapping roles of "dater" and "actor" when both brothers need to help the other out of a jam. The girl in the date is the daughter of a famous director, and in the end, the director, seeing Theodore's "acting" decides THEODORE, not Alvin, is the one he wants for a part Alvin coveted.
- Important Haircut: In "Cadet's Regrets" where Alvin enrolls the trio in an army-style summer camp, they are sent to the barbershop for induction haircuts. Seeing the boys going before them getting peeled prompts the Chipmunks to make feeble attempts to avoid the cut (qualifying this as a Traumatic Haircut as well), unsuccessful as they end up with their head fur in a high-and-tight style for the rest of the episode.
- Incredible Shrinking Man:
- The episode "Funny, We Shrunk the Adults", is one where Dave and Miss Miller are shrunken by Simon's "matter compacting" ray. At the same time, the Chipmunks and some neighbor kids who they are trying to impress are wrecking the house with their rowdy playing and bringing in things like a circus, including the animals. In fact, it was the rowdy playing that made the shrink ray turn on and zap Dave in the first place.
- Inverted in an earlier episode with Dave waking up from a dream about him shrinking.
- Inter Species Romance: The whole show was full of this, considering the Chipmunks (and Chipettes) interacted with humans. More so Alvin with his constant flirting. In one episode, Brittany wants to ask the most popular boy in school to the dance.
- It's a Wonderful Plot: "Dave's Wonderful Life".
- Long Runners: While most Saturday Morning cartoons lasted a season or two at best, this cartoon lasted for eight seasons, with over 100 episodes, and spawning a number of TV specials associated with it.
- Lots of Luggage: In the episode "Island Fever", Alvin struggles to move a luggage cart over flowing with pink suitcases, footlockers, trunks, and other pieces of luggage belonging to Brittany onto the cruise ship the Sevilles and Millers are entertaining on.
Brittany: Alvin, please be careful, I have some of my favorite things in there!
Alvin: Like what?
Eleanor: Like everything she didn't put in there...
- We then see Simon, Theodore, and Dave struggle to move another, even larger luggage cart, bearing even more trunks and cases belonging to Brittany. Brittany herself even lampshades this later when the lodging accommodations are less than commodious for the kids, and she remarks, "It's a good thing I packed light!"
- May the Farce Be with You
- Medium Awareness:
- "Quick! Cut to a commercial!" in the '80s cartoon episode "Food for Thought".
- The entire episode of "Back to our Future" was practically this trope personified, from the Chipmunks talking about the year they were created (not born, as in previous episodes) to them meeting their original designs, to the dramatic shift in animation, which both the '60s and '80s Dave notices. They even complain about how flat everything is in the '60s, a time when cartoon backgrounds were as simple as possible and things like proper perspective were not established as a standard.
- Meet Your Early Installment Weirdness: An episode that was a parody of Back to the Future called "Back to Alvin's Future" in which the '80s Chipmunks meet the '60s Chipmunks and try to stop them from quitting music and preventing the '80s Chipmunks from being created. It was complete with a Limited Animation Art Shift.
- Minor Living Alone: For the first three seasons, The Chipettes lived in a fully furnished tree house, with a living room, a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom, however, in the Season Four opener, school officials find out about this, and threaten to split them up and put them in foster care; Dave temporarily adopts them, however they and The Chipmunks start getting on each other's nerves, so Alvin talks Miss Miller into adopting them.in one episode.
- Missing Mom: The Chipmunks' mother, who they search for in a special episode.
- Mistaken Age
- Never Say "Die": Subverted rather often. One episode even has a frustrated Eleanor shout in anger, "I swear, if we don't get to New Orleans soon, I'm going to KILL her!" as she was sick of Brittany's constant whining. Eleanor of all people!
- New Transfer Student: When The Chipettes join the Chipmunks at their school in "May the Best Chipmunk Win".
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: When it was revealed that the Chippettes came from Australia, none of the girls spoke with an accent.
- One Steve Limit: Simon Seville, and The Chipmunks' record producer Sy Heaves.
- Orphanage of Fear: The Chipettes and their original human caretaker, Olivia, lived in one of these in Australia, as seen in their backstory episode.
- Pajama Clad Hero: In most of the DiC-produced episodes, Dave's signature outfit is a pajamas... or a sweatshirt and sweatpants that he not only wears in public but sleeps in as well.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: The episode "Ask Alvin".
- Parental Abandonment: Alvin felt this way when he wonders why their mother, Vinnie, left them with "a stranger". Vinnie revealed that during the great winter migration, there wasn't enough food to feed her children; she gave them up to David Seville, whom she knew was friendly to the animals. She later tried to come back for them, but she sees how happy they are with him. Alvin feels guilty for thinking otherwise.
- Parodies of Fire
- Periphery Demographic: In-universe, The Chipmunks appear to appeal mostly to kids their own age, up to adults who seem to be no older than their late twenties/early thirties; however, it turns out that one of Alvin's most loyal and dedicated fans is a senior citizen named Honey Ginger, she even identifies herself as his self-proclaimed, "Oldest fan."
- Precocious Crush: Both Alvin and Brittany are prone to this, however, one episode dealt exclusively with Alvin being smitten with his teacher, Miss Stone, who actually ends up dating Dave, which angers Alvin to the point that he challenges Dave to a sabre duel to see who should win Miss Stone's hand. Don't worry, Dave chooses water balloons as the weapons.
- Pretty in Mink:
- Given that the Chipmunks and Chipettes frequently try mingle with, or get into, high society, quite a few furs appear, usually by Socialites.
- The show This is Your Father in the episode "Some Entrancing Evening".
- Pro Wrestling Episode: "Mr. Fabulous" sees Theodore entered into a pro wrestling match to earn some money. His opponent is called Ivan the Terrible and is initially mistaken for a scrawny guy (courtesy of an incompletely hung poster). The real Ivan is a hulking brute and Hilarity Ensues when it's time for the match.
- "Rashomon"-Style: The episodes "Every Chipmunk Tells a Story" and "Once Upon a Crime".
- Reading Is Cool Aesop
- Rearrange the Song: Happens beginning with Season Six, in which a more rock-inspired remix of the theme song was introduced for the show's opening titles (meanwhile, the end titles featured a new closing theme altogether).
- The Renaissance Age of Animation
- Road Show
- Roger Rabbit Effect: The episode "Home Sweet Home".
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Theodore. Justified since he's voiced by Janice Karman....
- Separate Scene Storytelling: In an episode where Dave reads Treasure Island, the story is (loosely) shown this way.
- Series Continuity Error:
- The episode "Miss Miller's Big Gamble" established Miss Miller's first name as Beatrice, but the animated movie says her name was Rebecca.
- "A Dog's Best Friend Is His Chipmunk" shows that Dave is allergic to dogs, but in "Cookie Chomper III", he only starts developing an allergy to dogs once the Chipmunks brought Lilly in at the end.
- Dave's parents are established as farm people in "Grandpa and Grandma Seville", but "Back to Dave's Future" showed that they lived in the city when Dave was a kid, and his father was an accountant.
- Throughout the first season of the series, The Chipmunks are regarded as well-known celebrities who are almost instantly recognized by the public wherever they go. Afterwards, they are depicted as your average and ordinary school-aged kids who just happen to also be rockstars. In fact, some episodes have them, particularly Alvin, having trouble convincing someone that they are, indeed, celebrities.
- Shout-Out: See the main shout out page for the franchise.
- Show Accuracy/Toy Accuracy: In their debut episode, The Chipettes don matching pleated yellow dresses for concerts and public appearances. It was the only episode of the series to feature them in these dresses. However, when The Chipmunks Posable Play Pals line was released, figures of The Chipettes wearing the dresses were released.
- Show Within a Show:
- Sibling Seniority Squabble: It's mentioned a couple of times during the series (probably as a reminder to somewhat confused viewers) that Alvin and Brittany are the oldest of their litters. It's also confirmed that there's a five minute difference between Alvin, Simon, and Theodore; while not confirmed, the common idea is that the same applies to The Chipettes, except for a ten minute difference between Brittany and Jeanette, which makes the age order: Brittany, Alvin, Simon, Jeanette, Theodore, and Eleanor.
- Soap Opera Disease: Parodied in "Whatever's Happened to Dave Seville?"
- Something Completely Different
- Stalker with a Crush: Juliet to Alvin in the episode "Love Potion #9".
- Stand-In Parents: Played straight in the Season Four opener, where Brittany decided to pose as the mother parents day at school, to keep school officials from finding out the girls are orphans and live by themselves.
- Suspiciously Apropos Music: Happens very often. For example, the Chipettes sing "It's My Party" after Brittany gets upset at her birthday party.
- Syndication Title: The Chipmunks
- Take That: Elwy and the Tree Weasels, which was used in an episode of Ralph Bakshi's ''Mighty Mouse' show. Their manager/surrogate dad was Sandy Bottomfeeder.
- Time Travel: Though a couple of them were just a dream.
- A Very Special Episode:
- Both "A Chipmunk Valentine" and "A Chipmunk Reunion" were exactly this, though they were also produced specifically for inclusion with the series itself (and are therefore included in the syndication package, whereas other specials, like "Trick or Treason" or "Alvin's Thanksgiving Celebration" for example, are separate specials from the series).
- "Back to Alvin's Future" was intended to be the 100th episode of the series, but since a lot of networks have a tendency to broadcast episodes out of order, it ended up being the 92nd episode to be aired during the series' first run.
- Voice Actor:
- Wacky Frat Boy Hijinx: "From Here to Fraternity" has the Chipmunks mistakenly going to a frat house to deliver a singing telegram. Hilarity Ensues when the bored frat kids enlist the Chipmunks to pull pranks for them.
- We Want Our Jerk Back: Alvin ended up going through an identity crisis after having one really bad day, and began trying out different personas, from a Michael Jackson expy to a Rockefeller business man type. Dave, Simon and Theodore are only able to snap him out of it by acting the way he normally acts.
- Yet Another Christmas Carol: "Merry Christmas, Mr. Carroll".