Western Animation: Caillou

"Caillou, Caillou, I'm Caillou. That's me!"

Caillou is an animated series based on the books by author Christine L'Heureux and illustrator Hélène Desputeaux. The series originally premiered as a set of 65 five-minute shorts in which the premise is that the Caillou stories are actually a story from books a grandma was reading to her grandchildren. In 2000, the series was picked up by PBS, and was revamped into half-hour episodes with three or four shorts strung together with puppet segments, a song and a "real kids" segment. Along the line, the grandma-reading-to-kids Framing Device was dropped. However, when the fourth season rolled around, PBS made the decision to can the puppet segments. After new episodes of the program came to an end in 2010, a fifth season was slated to follow in 2011; the new episodes instead began airing in March 2013. These newer episodes are presented in widescreen High Definition where available. (Segments from earlier installments are presented a letterbox format with a border of colorful stars.)

The show provides examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: In "You're Not Miss Martin!," the substitute teacher at Caillou's playschool, Ms. Shelley, repeatedly calls him "Kyle." Caillou is at first irritated by this and a number of things about her, but Mommy helps him to relate to her by reminding him how he felt on his first day of playschool. The next time she calls him "Kyle," he decides to be patient and politely remind her that his name is "Caillou." The final time she calls him "Kyle," it's just to joke with him.
  • Animated Adaptation: Based on the books by Christine L'Heureux and Hélène Desputeaux.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Averted or played straight as the plot demands it. Depending on the Writer, Rosie sometimes plays nice with Caillou; other times she irritates him to no end. Noticeably, she was more annoying in the earlier episodes but slowly mellowed out, probably due to parents complaining. Or it could be that she's growing up and learning right from wrong as the show progressed each season...
  • Art Shift: The show switches between Gilbert, Rexy and Teddy in the animated segments and puppets in the other segments.
  • Art Evolution:
    • Caillou and Rosie in the original books look very little like their animated series counterparts.
    • The show had an art de-evolution once it changed from traditional animation to ToonBoom and animation work is outsourced to an animation company in South Africa with only 5 animators working on the project.
  • Award Bait Song: Everyday from the credits of Caillou's Holiday Movie. It was performed by a Canadian-French artist known as Marilou. While it has every single quality of an Award Bait Song, it didn't even get nominated. The film's soundtrack album features an extended version. "One Wish" also has qualities of this, but it was only on the film's soundtrack.
  • Baths Are Fun and Hates Baths: There was one episode with Caillou not liking baths, but then Mommy put some bubbles and bath toys in and made it fun. This was later memorialized in a song for one of the show's music albums.
  • Because I Said So: Averted. Caillou's parents always have a good answer to Caillou's questions.
  • Black Best Friend: Clementine.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Subverted. At times Caillou be act very bratty. Depending on the Writer, Caillou can be quite the Cheerful Child.
    • The other kids can be this sometimes in the early seasons.
  • Berserk Button: Do NOT, under any circumstances, tease Rexy about the way he speaks. It. Won't. Be. Pretty.
  • The Bully: Leo started out as one, but was quickly forced through a Heel-Face Turn by Clementine literally within minutes.
    • Also, Jim from "Caillou Makes a New Friend" started as one too by taking Caillou's things and not letting him play on the swings. He also went through a Heel-Face Turn and became Caillou's friend.
  • Call Back: Caillou's Holiday Movie sees Caillou visiting a lot of people featured in past episodes of the show.
  • The Big Guy: Andre, literally, due to his large size and the fact that he's three years older than Caillou.
  • Charlie Brown Baldness: Taken to the next level — Caillou is actually totally bald.
  • Cheerful Child: Subverted. He is sometimes a very cheerful and happy kid. Depending on the Writer, Caillou can be quite the Bratty Half-Pint.
    • The other kids are definitely this as well.
  • Christmas Special: A direct-to-DVD movie - Caillou's Holiday Movie. Which also mentions Hanukkah and Kwanzaa in passing.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The puppets.
  • Crossdressing Voices: Caillou's voice is always played by a female. Cookie Jar loves this trope.
  • Cross Over: Did a tie-in with the Montreal Biodome in the early 2000s.
  • Death Fic: People love making these kind of stories with Caillou.
  • Depending on the Writer: Caillou can be a tantrum-throwing brat or gentle boy due to this. Also determines whether Rosie is an angel or Bratty Half-Pint to Caillou.
  • Free Prize at the Bottom: In "No Tradebacks!" in the fifth season, Caillou gets a small toy shovel as a prize in a cereal box, but is upset because it's not the stickers that he wanted— ones like those that Rosie got when it was her turn to get the free prize. He trades it with a friend Jay for a set of the stickers and they agree to "no tradebacks," but then Caillou is upset that he traded it away when he sees that Jay attached it to his dump-truck, this being a feature of the shovel. He cajoles Jay so much that Jay finally agrees to a tradeback anyway, but when Caillou sees how upset Jay gets, he finally honours the original agreement.
  • Go to Your Room: Averted. Caillou is never sent to his room.
  • Hiccup Hijinks: In "Caillou's Hiccups" from the fifth season, Caillou gets the hiccups. At first, Caillou's parents tell him to be patient and they'll go away on their own, as patience is the theme of the episode in which this story is featured. But when Caillou keeps hiccuping, his parents start up with the various "cures," only for them to go away on their own, just as his parents first suggested. Then Daddy gets them.
  • "I Am" Song: The theme song.
  • Innocent Swearing: The banned episode "Caillou's Crossword" uses the word stupid to teach children about cursing. After Caillou and Leo hear an older boy use the word, they call Clementine it ad it upsets her. Caillou later uses it around Rosie and she learns the word. Caillou's mom teaches him that it's a bad word and he apologizes to Clementine.
  • Just a Kid: This has been the reason why Caillou can't do things yet
  • Keep Away: Mommy does this for demonstration purposes when teaching Caillou to play ringette.
  • Kids Prefer Boxes: One episode has Cailou's parents buy him a computer he can play on; he ends up liking the box it came in better.
  • Large Ham: Mostly done by Caillou himself during a tantrum. These are only two examples:
    Caillou: I don't want to play families! I want to play DINOSAURS!!!
    Caillou: No! No, I don't want to!
  • Licensed Games / Edutainment Games / iOS Games: About a dozen or so edutainment titles for the PC/Mac. There's also an iPhone audiobook app.
  • Match Cut: Happens in one episode, when Callou's family needs their luggage onto a train.
  • Meaningful Name: Caillou actually means "pebble" in French. Or rather, the word is a Québécois slang term for bald-head.
    • There's also Andre, who is really big compared to the others.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Like many Animated Adaptations, it was originally created to sell the books but quickly spun out of control. Yeah, among tons of merchandise, there is even Caillou branded shampoo out there. For those who don't get it, Caillou is bald. But then again, he's been shown on the program getting a shampooing in the bath, despite his baldness. You can even see it here.
  • Mr. Imagination: Caillou developed into one in the fourth season, though these segments were discontinued in the fifth season. Despite this, these episodes retain the opening sequence that was created for the fourth season, even though it heavily features clips from these segments.
  • No Antagonist: Well, Leo was an antagonist in the episode that introduced him... for two whole minutes. He's all friendly with Caillou after and for the rest of the series.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Caillou and Rosie get this sometimes especially in the first 3 seasons. The Caillou Wiki has a list of times that Mommy excused not being able to do things with Caillou or Rosie at the moment because she was "too busy."
  • One Steve Limit: Averted in that Caillou's imaginary friend is named George and he has a skating instructor who is also named George.
  • Potty Dance: Rosie does this in "Caillou's Holiday Movie".
    Mommy: (trying to sit her in Santa's lap) What is it, sweetie?
    Rosie: Bafroom.
  • Rail Enthusiast: Calliou comes by it honestly; his father and grandfather love trains.
  • Santa Claus: In Caillou's Holiday Movie, the "Where Santa Has a Different Name" song provides details on Christmas traditions around the world, including Denmark, Slovakia and Greece.
  • Screen Tap: In Caillou's Holiday Movie, Caillou throws a snowball at Rosie and it hits the "camera."
  • Slice of Life: Yes, it's one of these shows.
  • So Proud of You: Caillou gets this from Mommy in "Caillou Goes Bowling" after trying bowling for the first time.
  • Spoiled Brat: Caillou himself in the earlier seasons.
  • Stop Copying Me: Subverted. In the episode "Copycat Clementine", Caillou thinks Clementine is being a copycat and doing it to annoy him. She copies his drum for music circle and Miss Martin gives her all the credit for making it. She also copies the road he makes in the sand when they're outside. When he tells his mother about it, she says that probably isn't doing it to annoy him. The next day, Clementine copies a bird that Caillou makes and when she gets to talk about her bird, she says she got the idea from Caillou and compliments what he does.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Gilbert, Teddy and Rexy in the puppet segments.
  • Surprise Party
    • In "Blueberry Point" from the fifth season, one is given to Grandpa for his birthday. They put the finishing touches on the surprise party while Caillou is out with Grandpa on a trip to Blueberry Point.
    • In another installment, Caillou and his friends host a surprise party for their playschool teacher, Miss Martin's, birthday.
  • Tagalong Kid: Caillou can be this when he goes somewhere with the adults. Rosie can also be this if she plays with Caillou and his friends much to Caillou's annoyance sometimes.
  • Tagline: "Growing up is the greatest adventure of all!", sometimes shortened to simply "Growing up is the greatest adventure!"
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: There was a song segment (featuring a kid group known as the "Caillettes") once in every episode when PBS Kids picked the show up, though these were ditched in the fifth season.
  • Third-Person Person: Rosie, because she's only around 2-3 years old. Noticeably, this habit was dropped in later seasons, though it seems to be zigzagging a bit.
  • This Is My Side: Caillou does this in a fifth season episode with his and Rosie's playroom, when Rosie accidentally scratches his bike and he decides that she can't be trusted with any of his stuff.
  • Title Theme Tune: Caillou mentions his name six times in the theme tune.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Caillou, Leo, and Clementine are usually the three friends shown together.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Caillou and Rosie sometimes don't want help because they want to show their parents they can do things themselves.
  • Walk Into Camera Obstruction: With Caillou near the end of the opening theme when he runs to his grandparents.
  • Wedding Day: "Caillou's First Wedding".
  • Youthful Freckles: Leo has these.