Western Animation / Blue's Clues
We gotta find the next pawprint,
And that's our second clue!
Then we put it in our notebook—
'Cuz they're whose clues?
is a famous, long-running
, and incredibly
influential children's television show, produced by, and previously shown on, Nickelodeon
. If you grew up in the United States, the UK, or Brazil during the 1990s or early 2000s, the odds are good that this show will be familiar to you (under different hosts and names respectively).
Set in a vibrant
, candy-colored world
of animated characters combined with a human host,
the show features the escapades of Blue, a blue-colored dog
(voiced by Traci Paige Johnson, one of the show's creators). Once an Episode
, Blue will want to do something—be it read a book, have a snack, or make some kind of craft. However, Blue seems to be the only creature in her world who can't talk
, so the only way she can communicate with her human owner is by playing Blue's Clues
- a game in which she will tag 3 objects around the house (or backyard) with her blue pawprint, labeling them a "clue." It's up to her owner—along with all the kids at home—to figure out what she wants to do by piecing together these clues.
First introduced in 1996, the show is notable for pioneering
the kid's show version of an Interactive Narrator
—one who talks "to" the camera, seemingly at the children watching. Blue's Clues
was so successful, this went on to become the norm for most kid's show hosts today— especially those directed at the "Under 6" age bracket. It also originally ran under the notion that children learn through repetition—so the same episode of the show would run for a full week. (The show no longer practices this.) It was hugely
successful, leading to several direct-to-video movies, an eventual Spin-Off
called Blue's Room
, and, of course, heaps and heaps of merchandise.
The show was originally hosted by Steven Burns as "Steve
", but he left the show after six years note
His replacement was "Joe"
(Donovan Patton), his TV younger brother, who ran the show, and its spinoff Blue's Room,
until 2006, when production came to a halt. Reruns are now seen on the Nick Jr.
channel, and DVDs still exist.
On March 6, 2018, it was announced that Nickelodeon will make a CGI reboot of the franchise. It will still have a live-action host, though, and to that end, Nick has put out an open casting call. Auditions will take place in several locations throughout the US starting with their Burbank, CA studio in April 2018, with filming set to begin in the summer.
This show provides examples of:
- Absentee Actor: Sidetable Drawer was missing from "Blue's Big Car Trip," and Mailbox was missing from "Blue's Big Car Trip," "The Legend of the Blue Puppy," "Skidoo Adventure" and "The Fairy Tale Ball."
- Adorkable: Steve. Also applies to the real-life Steve Burns.
- Adobe Flash: Until Blue's Room, all the animated parts were animated this way. Thus, it is the first Nick show to use Flash. (At least on the whole network. KaBlam! was the first show to use Adobe Flash on the regular Nick schedule).
- Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Blue is the current trope picture. Not only that, but she is probably the Trope Codifier too, and just in case you're totally color-blind, most colorful animals tend to be named after their color as well.
- Animate Inanimate Object: Basically the entire main cast aside from Blue, Steve and Joe.
- Heck, there's even a computer mouse cursor that talks in one episode!
- Anthropomorphic Food: Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper, their children Paprika and Cinnamon, and numerous other characters.
- A minor example with the monster cake.
- Argument of Contradictions: In "Blue Goes to the Beach," Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper have an argument over whether a straw will sink or float in water. Mr. Salt thinks it will sink, Mrs. Pepper is convinced it will float. Mrs. Pepper is right, as is found out when Steve reasonably suggests that they just try it and see what happens.
- Art Evolution: In the book releases. Take a look at the earlier ones and you'll find that Blue's face is a bit chubby and the blue coloring is rather dark. Then take a look at the later book releases - the coloring is lighter and Blue's face has been thinned out. This generally holds true for the other characters as well and there are other, more subtle changes to the appearance of the art.
- Lady Looks Like a Dude: Steve generally believes Green Puppy (a bulldog) to be male.
- Lampshade Hanging: In one episode, one of the clues was a cloud. Right before drawing it down, Steve wonders how Blue could put her paw-print on it.
- Licensed Games / Edutainment Games: One for the PlayStation. Also, one for the V-Tech V-Smile console. Apart from that, nearly a dozen edutainment titles for the PC/Mac (many of them by Humongous Entertainment—a demo version of Blue's ABC Time Activites can be downloaded from Infogrames). Many of them were surprisingly good.
- Limited Wardrobe: Steve wore nothing but green striped shirts and khaki pants. All of Joe's shirts are different colors, but they have the same square pattern.
- Matryoshka Object: One episode has Steve opening a present with an increasingly smaller present inside each one.
- Merchandise-Driven: All types, from shampoo to plush toys (some, such as the Shovel and Pail Eden plush, are very rare) to model Thinking Chairs. There were also dry-erase Handy Dandy Notebooks, of which the non-dry-erase replicas are easy to find on eBay.
- The Movie: Blue's Big Musical Movie, the only direct-to-video movie for the show.
- Nerd Glasses: Magenta gets these near the end of the third season.
- No Fourth Wall: The people on the show would often query the "audience" on the answer to the show's questions and puzzles. Not to mention Blue pawprints the screen in the beginning of an episode.
- One interesting example: One time after Steve greets the viewer, he asks how they "got" there. The conclusion he reaches? "Oh, by television. (knocks on the screen) Cool!".
- Not Allowed to Grow Up: Averted with Paprika and Cinnamon. They both started out as babies who couldn't talk (having been born during the series), but over time, they started acting more like little kids instead of babies. By the end of the series, Paprika was speaking full sentences like the rest of the cast, and Cinnamon knew some words.
- Once an Episode: Tons. Getting mail, sitting in the Thinking Chair, the "Skidoo..."
- ...and other than mail, this...
- #mail time...Mail time...Mail time! Mail time!! MAIL TIIIIIIIIIIIIME!!!#
- Pink Girl, Blue Boy: A notable subversion as Blue and Magenta are both girls.
- Portal Picture: Blue, Steve, and Joe can all "Skidoo" into pretty much any picture around and interact with the residents. Actually, that's pretty awesome...
- Put on a Bus: Steve (literally).
- Real Time: The show gave every appearance of taking place in real time. Viewers follow host Steve or Joe (or Kevin in the U.K.) through events in the Blue's Clues house and backyard, or into skidoo, without cutting away or any indication of additional time passing. In one installment, viewers even sat with Steve for one minute as a clock appeared on-screen counting down one minute as an exercise in patience. Another installment with Joe, "Patience," was all about finding ways to be patient to pass the time until an egg hatched at the end of the episode. There was even a song to go with it— "Wait. Wait. Wait. What can we do while we wait?"
- Re Tool: From the beginning, the Blue's Room spin-off never really caught on. So when they made it into a full series, they made several changes. The biggest was adding Blue's new baby brother Sprinkles as a regular member of the cast. Joe was also given a more prominent role and the sets were expanded. It still didn't work and the program ended once its episode order was up and has rarely been seen in repeats since.
- Rule of Three: The viewer is always expected to find three clues.
- There are also three pink snails hidden in the background of every episode for older viewers to find.
- Running Gag: In "What is Blue Afraid Of?," Steve and Blue skidoo into a mansion with a ghost, Boo, who's afraid of his own name. Whenever Steve says it, the ghost gets frightened. Steve eventually catches onto this and starts getting quite a kick out of saying the name and watching the ghost jump in fright.
- Selective Localisation: UK viewers of Blue's Clues might be puzzled to hear Steve mentioned constantly - this is because in the UK imported version of the show, a different actor known as "Kevin" was used on and interacted with the same animated backgrounds that were used in the United States version. Kevin and his stripy green shirt are just as fondly remembered in the UK as Steve is in the United States.
- Slippery Soap: Literally, there is a character with this name. And he just happens to be a sentient bar of soap who slips around alot with the catchphrase "Woooaaah!"
- Something Completely Different: In "Meet Polka Dots," Blue opened the door to the Blue's Clues house and there were several segments in which time was spent with just Blue or Blue and her friends rather than Joe, while Joe attended to his stuffed duck Boris, who was having a nap. Perhaps most unusually, viewers got to actually watch as Blue placed her pawprint on each clue, something which had always been done firmly off-screen before.
- Spin-Off: Blue's Room, which swaps out most of the main cast save Blue and Joe for puppets. Oh, and Blue can talk now. Some older fans are not pleased with it.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Sidetable Drawer (somewhat).
- Stock Sound Effect: Baby Kate Cry: Variant in the 4th part of the story in Season 4 "The Baby's Here!", there were some babies crying at the Baby Hospital, and one of them was crying like this.
- The Oggy Cry was also used as well.
- Suddenly Voiced: Blue in the Blue's Room spin-off series. Additionally, in the book releases, Blue was suddenly voiced before Blue's Room even started. Seriously, pick up any of the more recent numbered Blue's Clues book releases not set within the world of Blue's Room and you'll find that Blue actually talks out loud to Joe, Green Puppy, Magenta and everyone else. This was true even in some of the Steve books.
- Of course, astute viewers might note that Blue always could talk. Seriously, some of those barks were so specific that she pretty much was talking if you were clever enough to figure out what she was saying.
- The clues, beginning in "Blue's Neighborhood Festival" were no longer drawn by Joe but seemingly drew themselves as if by magic, then talked and sung a little song.
- Surprise Party: "Joe's Surprise Party," in which the viewers are asked to keep Joe distracted while Blue and the cast finish putting together a surprise birthday party for him. It works out very well.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Steve's replacement, Joe.
- Take Your Time: Blue wants a snack, but won't tell us what that specific snack is. We have to waste god-only-knows how much time playing Blue's Clues to find out what snack she wants. (She must not have been that hungry). What are we going to do today? We have to play Blues Clues to find out we're going to the beach! (Wouldn't that time have been better spent actually DRIVING there?)
- In fairness, all episodes seem to take place in Real Time, so we can be sure that things will be resolved in less than 20 minutes, which isn't that long. And besides, Blue's Clues is a really great game.
- Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: The show actually makes a concentrated effort to avoid this. Almost all of the characters have non-gender-specific features, and all of them speak with the wholly androgynous voices of small children. It's actually more likely for random characters to be female.
- That Cloud Looks Like...:
- This is the answer to Blue's Clues in "Nature!", that Blue wants to do this as a game.
- In the book release Blue's Backyard Mystery, Blue and her friends Magenta and Periwinkle play the "Cloud Game" at Blue's suggestion. Blue sees a boat, Magenta sees a dinosaur and Periwinkle sees a banana.
- That Makes Me Feel Angry: This is often used and is often combined with the show's particular brand of Fake Interactivity. There were also at least a couple of episodes specifically about feelings and, of course, this trope was right at the fore. A typical example of how this might go...
Joe: So, tell me, do you think Felt Friend Sam is feeling happy, or sad? ... ...
Kid's Voice: Sad!
Joe: That's right! Sam is sad because Anna wouldn't share with him.
- Throw The Dog's Human Companion A Bone: In Blue's Big Musical, Steve suddenly realizes that he's never found a clue on his own without the help of the kids. He's sorely depressed about this fact until he looks inside of a box (that the camera can't see in) and realizes—there's a clue in there! He found it himself!
- Title, Please!: In the earlier episodes, the episode titles didn't appear within the episodes themselves. Averted once the show started using "Another Blue's Clues Day"; near the end, Mr. Salt and his family would appear holding a banner with the episode's title, and Mr. Salt would read the title to the audience.
- Title Theme Tune: "Another Blue's Clues Day." They didn't start using it until after Joe became host, though. Up until then, a simple instrumental theme was used to lead into the program.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Blue and Magenta.
- Trademark Favorite Food:
- Sandwiches and milk for Blue.
- Milk and orange juice for Paprika.
- Trailers Always Spoil: At least one promo for an episode actually gave enough information for especially astute viewers to figure out the answer to Blue's Clues before the episode had even started.
- True Blue Femininity: Blue is a girl.
- Universal Driver's License: In "Away Great Playdate" on Blue's Room, Joe conducts a train, drives a taxi and pilots a plane.
- Unwanted Glasses Plot: Inverted in "Magenta Gets Glasses," which was also released as one of the books.
- Vague Age: The brothers, mostly Joe. Acted by men but they behave like boys but apparently live alone. Steven goes off to college so he's an adult, and likely Joe is, too.
- Variable Mix: When the clues are reviewed using the notebook, each clue is accompanied by music. Each clue is accompanied by its own melodic line when mentioned, and together, they harmonize.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: Later episodes often covered topics that had been dealt with before, but rather than just being some rehash, they introduced new material. For example, the "Colors Everywhere" episode covered the familiar topic of mixing colors, but took it the new level of showing how the mixed colors could then be mixed with each other to create even more new colors. "Chartreuse, a color I had not seen, looks to me like a yellowish-green. ... Mix blue and yellow and they're suddenly green. Then blue and green makes aquamarine."
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Why exactly was there a sock in a bakery?