Western Animation / Dog City

Or is that Eliot Shag's Dog City?

Bruno: How'd a loser like you create a great character like Bugsy?
Eliot: Well, sometimes it's just staring you in the face.

Dog City was an animated/Muppet series based on a half-hour segment in The Jim Henson Hour. The original "Dog City" was about an anthropomorphic German Shepherd named Ace Yu, facing bulldog gangster Bugsy Them (the Dogfather) in a film noir environment, and in 2010 was released on DVD from Lionsgate, excluding the Jim Henson Hour part. The episode was popular enough to become a full-fledged series on Fox Kids with Nelvana providing the animation.

In the series, Ace became private eye Ace Hart, and Bugsy became Bugsy Vile. They also became cartoon characters, with the original puppet versions becoming Eliot Shag, the cartoonist, and Bruno, the super of his apartment building. Other characters from the special were transplanted similarly; the character appeared in the cartoon, and the puppet appeared as someone in Eliot's building, supposedly inspiring him to create the animated version. Ace and Eliot would also have conversations with each other about the progress of the stories and how Eliot uses what he draws in the cartoon to solve problems in his real life.

Dog City included examples of:


  • Argument of Contradictions: "Oh, he will alright." "But, what if he doesn't?"
  • Binocular Shot: Parodied. From the POV of villain Bugsy Them, we see the two leads through two overlapping circles. Then the camera cuts to a wide shot to reveal that Bugsy isn't looking through binoculars — he's just holding up a piece of cardboard with two overlapping holes and looking through it.
  • Brick Joke: Colleen being raised by accountants; a brief gag as she talks about her history with Ace, and mentioned again at the very end.
  • The Cameo: Rowlf the Dog plays piano at the bar.
    • Sprocket is the dog who gets thrown out for not having any cash.
  • Dogs Are Dumb: Mostly averted. The only exception is Bugsy's hired muscle, Mad Dog, whose two- I mean, fourteen years of obedience school have done nothing for his thinking ability.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Averted, big time.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar
    • Colleen Barker's musical number:
      Colleen: (singing)
      "Don't care if he's a big dog.
      I don't care if he's rich.
      He'll be my ever-lovin' puppy,
      and I'll just be hisó"
    • Also Miss Belle says she's seen Colleen before:
      Miss Belle: Always lookin' down her snout at ya, like she's somethin' special! I've seen her doin' tricks on street corners! "Jump through a hoop for a quarter, sir? Catch a frisbee for a dime?"
    • At the end of a car chase soon after, Ace's car almost drives off of a dock, coming to a halt just after the two front wheels go over the edge. Colleen remarks that they almost got wet, to which Ace replies, "What do you mean, almost?"
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Bugsy's defeated by Ace getting him to chase his own beloved tail.
  • Narcissist: As mentioned above, Bugsy takes great pride in his tail, getting Miss Belle to brush it and recite a speech about its greatness in their first appearance.
  • Overly Long Gag: "Bugsy will hear about this!" "But what if he doesn't?" "Oh, he will alright!" "But what if he doesn't?" "Oh he will..."
  • Punny Name: Rowlf even Lampshades the names of Ace Yu and Bugsy Them as 'Cheap joke names'.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: When Ace arrives for the first time in the Doghouse, he tries to pull something (actually his act of property) out of his jacket. This causes every customer around to raise a gun, and the following exchange follows:
    Ace: "Eeeeeh, come on! Do I look dumb enough to pull out a gun in a place like this?" (The customers look at each others for a few seconds, then all nod) Alright, alright! Ask a stupid question...
  • Running Gag:
    • Amounts of time being translated into dog years
    • Ace's plans for a halfway/quarterway/eighthway/fifteen-sixteenthsway house for orphans
  • Sting
  • Who's on First?: With names like Ace Yu and Bugsy Them, this is a given. Rowlf lampshades this.
    Rowlf: That's Ace Yu. Get it? Boy, if that isn't the setup for a gag, I don't know what is.
    Ace (to the bartender): "I am Yu."
    Bartender: "You are me?"
    Ace: "No, Yu! Y-U." (The Bartender looks confused) "Look, it's simple: Yu is me!"
    Bartender: "Yu is you?"
    Ace: "Right."
    Bartender: "So who is me?"
    Ace: "Oh! Hu is you? Pleased to meet you, Hu!"
    Bartender: "Now I am confused..."
    Ace: "But you used to be Hu!"
    Bartender: "What?"
    Ace: "... Call me Ace."
  • You Killed My Father

The series:

  • The Ace: Deconstructed in an episode where a sleepy Elliot dreamily inserts himself into the cartoon. The animated version of Elliot then promptly goes on to solve the case, beat the bad guys, and scores points with Rosie without any effort. This ultimately just pisses Ace Hart off and drives a wedge between he and his friend and creator.
  • Actually Not a Vampire: "The Bloodhound" is a two-fer. Elliot gets spooked by a new neighbor in a cape that whisks Colleen away to a secluded spot. The ending reveals the guy is just an eccentric voice teacher. Over in the cartoon, someone is dressing up in a cape and going around biting dogs at night. Many (including Eddie) believe he's a real vampire, but Ace remains skeptical of that and only pursues the case as a matter of public safety. Ultimately, Ace figures out that the supposed vampire is actually the city's mailman; the guy wanted revenge for getting bitten by every dog every day.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Ace Yu/Hart and Bugsy Them/Vile
  • Adults Dressed as Children:
    • In one episode, Bugsy hired a gangster who looked like a puppy named Puppyface Halfnelson to help with a bank heist.
    • In another, Ace goes undercover at an obedience school, in shorts and a schoolboy cap.
  • And You Were There: Almost; the animated characters are counterparts to the Muppet characters, but have different voice actors)
  • Animated Actors: The Duck Amuck version.
  • Aroused by Their Voice: After being smitten by his new Love Interest Terri Springer, Eliot flip-flops Rosie's characterization. When she isn't a far more critical by-the-book cop, she's outright trying to seduce Ace with a noticeably huskier tone. This is naturally lampshaded.
    Ace: Make up your mind, will ya! Is Rosie gonna be screamy or dreamy?
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: All over the place.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: What happened during the episodes when Bugsy Vile and Miss Kitty worked together.
  • Captain Oblivious: Steve stops Yves' attempts to steal the McGuffin of the Week by sheer luck and isn't even aware of them. Steve has yet to show if he knows or not about Yves' existence.
  • Catch-Phrase: Bugsy's "senselessly violent", Frisky's "crazy", Chief Rosie's "by the books" and Eddie's "It's a well known fact that...".
  • Cats Are Mean: The only cat character in Dog City is Kitty, Bugsy's gun moll. And in the real world, Elliot's landlord.
    • One episode featured a criminal cat who was Bugsy's rival not only for the underworld but also for Kitty.
    • Yves, the bad guy from the "Yves and Steve" stories is a cat.
  • Darker and Edgier/Knight of Cerebus: In-verse Executive Meddling presses Eliot to retool Dog City by creating a new, far more evil antagonist. Displeased, Eliot deconstructs both tropes with the creation of Meat the Butcher, an Ax-Crazy criminal very ill-suited to the setting of the show, and ultimately defeated through humiliating means.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ace, in spades.
  • Delusions of Eloquence: Bugsy Vile, no doubt as filler for the family-friendly mafia parody.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: In one episode, Bugsy enters a series of games and has his henchmen get rid of his adversaries so he'll win by default. When one henchman points out that the adversaries are too unfit to challenge him anyway, he explains that he doesn't want to sweat. Ace foils the plan by entering the competition.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Elliot insists that this has to be the case for all lone wolf Film Noir detective characters, though it doesn't stop Ace from trying to avert this trope.
  • Dirty Communists: "Rocketship K-9" features a Catyslvanian communist planning to steal a rocket for their sinister operations.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Eliot doesn't, which means that in-story Ace isn't supposed to either, relying on his wits. In practice, when Executive Meddling forces Eliot to provide the bad guys with tommy-guns, Ace would prefer a level playing field.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Pun not intended, but Elliot counts as he an never seem to hook up with the attractive Girl Next Door.
  • Dogs Are Dumb: Played straight with Bruiser; averted with Mad Dog, who is shown to be intelligent and articulate, quoting the Bard and Mark Twain... but only after being clocked over the head. Usually, though, he plays The Unintelligible.)
    • It's only through sheer luck Steve keeps anything he guards safe from Yves.
  • Dumb Muscle: Bugsy's nephew, Bruiser.
  • Dueling Works: In-Universe, the episode "Sick as a Dog" reveals that the show-within-a-show is in a ratings battle with Cat City, later replaced by Rabbits in the Hood. Brief clips from both shows are shown, featuring feline/lapine versions of Ace and Rosie parroting the "Feed the hungry, not my ego" line from the first episode.
  • Eviler Than Thou: Bugsy and Baron von Rotweiller.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Baron von Rotweiller again, complete with a cameo of his mutter.
  • Executive Meddling: Done in-universe, especially in "Ya Gotta Have Hart." First, Elliot's boss wants the show to be retooled from a Film Noir detective series to a stylish "Beverly Hills cop" show. Later in that same episode, he tries making an Ace Hart film for a French director who turns it into a surreal fantasy, and then attempts a comic book, only for the execs to turn Ace into a superhero.
  • Fair Cop: Rosie O'Gravy
  • Fantastic Ghetto: Tabbytown is Dog City's cat district.
  • The Family for the Whole Family
  • Female Feline, Male Mutt: Bugsy and Miss Kitty
  • Femme Fatale: Miss Kitty
  • Forklift Fu: Eddie once attempts to rescue Ace in this manner. It does not end well.
  • Fully Dressed Cartoon Animal
  • Funny Animal
  • Furry Reminder: All over the place. Fire hydrants, full moons, squeaky toys, treats, drooling. Yep!
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: After falling head over heels for Terri, Eliot starts getting rather...excited with Rosie's characterization. As a result, she shifts between criticizing and trying to seduce Ace, much to the private eye's chagrin. Ace declares that Eliot needs "a little cooling off" and, by slamming a hammer in the cartoon world, knocks a glass of ice water onto Eliot's crotch. Works like a charm.
  • Gratuitous German: Baron Von Rottweiler, full stop.
  • Growing Muscles Sequence: Ya Gotta Have Hart, where in-universe Executive Meddling wanted Ace to become a superhero named "Wonder Dog", complete with super strength, speed and leap tall obstacles. Ace disapproved of the meddling, but the idea of being dogly muscular didn't seem like a completely bad idea, judging by his reaction when Eliot pops his suit with a pencil.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Mad Dog wears only a vest, fedora, spats, and a collar with a rope leash (!)
  • How We Got Here: Discussed in the episode, "Of Mutts and Mayors", which starts off with Ace and Rosie on the run. Ace has no idea how they wound up in this predicament, which prompts Eliot to explain that they would be starting off near the end, where things are really bad, and then they'd show everyone how they got there.
  • Hurricane of Puns: YES.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Periodically, such as Bugsy Vile yelling "Enough! With! The violence!" as he's smacking the crap out of Frisky with a rolled-up newspaper
    • Eliot frequently reprimands Ace for suggesting violent actions on the grounds that he hates violence. This is coming from the animator who often subjects Ace to violent slapstick.
  • Innocent Bystander: Or innocent pups, as it were, complete with a playpen and a giant sign saying "Innocent Bystanders" at the worst possible moments. Ace calls this out already the second time it happens.
  • Internal Reveal: In episode Old Dogs, New Tricks, the cartoonists Eliot Shag and Scratch McCollie fight on whether or not to use this trope. As it pertains to a Show Within a Show, it's a bit late to cover up that plot point from the audience.
  • Limited Wardrobe
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Are Ace and Eliot actually having fourth-wall breaking conversations, or is it entirely in Eliot's head? On one hand, Eliot is the only one Ace is ever shown talking to. On the other, you have cases like the Getting Crap Past the Radar example above, where Ace is somehow able to shake the desk despite being a two-dimensional character outside the show's real world.
  • McGuffin: The "Yves and Steve" segments were about a literal cat burglar (Yves) trying to steal Mc Guffins guarded by a literal guard dog (Steve).
  • Meaningful Name: Bugsy Vile.
  • Metafiction/Postmodernism: Dog City openly explores the storytelling process through Eliot and Ace's fourth wall-breaking conversations. The plots themselves are generally kicked off by discussions over the animation, and the episodes acknowledge, parody, and lampshade all sorts of multiple tropes.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Oh yes, Eddie. Do tell the "well known facts" that aid in Bugsy Vile's crimes. Do tell.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The usual suspects.
  • Politicians Kiss Babies: In an episode, Dogfather Bugsy Vile rigs a mayoral election and wins with just five votes. Among his duties are kissing babies and christening a ship with champagne bottle. Hilarity ensues when he gets the two just a little mixed up....
  • Polka-Dot Paint: Whenever something is drawn, it's done this way.
  • Private Eye Monologue
  • Punny Name: Puppyface Halfnelson was named after real life bank robber George "Babyface" Nelson. Terri Springer was named after... guess.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot. Both in-universe (Shag's domestic life often is fodder for Ace's adventures) and the series in general, when some of the failed ideas seen in "You Gotta Have Hart"—fairy-tale segments, a Frankenstein monster dog—showed up later in season three.
  • Rivals Team Up: One episode forced Ace and Bugsy to work together against Meat the Butcher.
  • Rogues Gallery: A small one. Bugsy Vile and his gang, Miss Kitty, Baron von Rottweiler and Leon, and Meat the Butcher.
  • Rubber-Band History: Baron goes back to the time the pilgrims purchased the new world from the natives and made a better offer: squeak toys. This created a Bad Future where he rules. Somehow, Ace and Eddie had Ripple Effect-Proof Memory and, after visiting a timeline where Eddie ruled, went back to the past and made an even better offer: a technologically advanced (even for present time standards) fire hydrant the heroes took from the Eddie-ruled timeline.
  • Say My Name: One Running Gag involves Ace screaming Eliot's name whenever Eliot animates him into a predicament.
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: "Comedy of Horrors", featuring blink-and-you'll-miss-them cameos of other characters, up until Ace and Baron von Rottweiler crash.
    Baron Von Rottweiler: "Ja, it's not something I'd want mamma to see."
    • And then before the above exchange.
  • The Scrappy: Eddie the newspup got turned into one in-universe for one episode, and then he was literally Rescued from the Scrappy Heap. Whether he actually was a scrappy for the audience is a different story.
  • Self Insert: Elliot did this once. He then made his character an even better detective than Ace who even attracted attention from Rosie. Ace was not amused.
  • Sexophone: Given that the animated segments are parodies of classic detective stories and Film Noir, one would occasionally play for Rosie O'Gravy (specifically whenever Ace would think of her in his narrations).
  • Show Within a Show
    • Soap Within a Show (Within A Show): One episode had Ace visit the studio of the radio soap It's A Dog's Life.
  • Shout-Out: Way too many to name, but here's one example.
    Bowser (just smashed a hole in the wall as the door is blocked by a panicking Eliot, Bruno and Artie): "Here's Bowser! And I brought the tools."
    • One live-action segment has a crew member wear a shirt with a "The Mutts Take Manhattan" logo.
    • The first episode is called "The Big Squeak", and ends with Eliot proposing an episode called "The Great Dane Curse" (which would actually be used in Season 2).
    • "Who Watches the Watchdog?" is full of superhero tropes; the title is a reference to Watchmen, and the Watchdog is a Batman spoof created by Fob Canine (a watch/dog pun on Bob Kane). The Watchdog also announces himself with "I am the precious sands in the hourglass of society! I am the time that wounds all heels! I am ... the Watchdog!" a lot like Darkwing Duck's "terror who flaps in the night!".
    • In "Rocketship K9", one of the sci-fi scenes Ace objects to is an alien invasion in a town called Rover's Mill.
  • Speech-Impaired Animal: Mad Dog; subverted by being in a world full of Talking Animals.
  • Species Surname (most characters apart from Ace and Bugsy had vaguely dog [or cat] related names)
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute (Terri Springer replaced Colleen as Eliot's love interest. Suprisingly, she was voiced by the same actress, the writers just thought she'd be a more interesting character)
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Baron von Rottweiller gives off this vibe in "Old Dogs, New Tricks" as he plots to detonate a hydrogen bomb over Dog City and emerge the leader of a "superior doggy race".
  • Toilet Humor: Bound of happen with hydrant jokes. Also:
    Bruno {in a panic}: It's all over the papers!
    Eliot: Well, better there than- {Is interrupted by Bruno's raving}
  • Will They or Won't They?: Eliot and Colleen/Terri, Ace and Chief Rosie O'Gravy.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Screwy Louie. After suffering from a lifetime of screw-related accidents, he was finally Driven to Madness and set about getting rid of all screws in the city.
  • Write Who You Know: In-universe. All the various characters in the cartoon world appear to based on the dogs Elliot knows in real life. Rosie is the pretty Girl Next Door he crushes on, Bugsy Vile is his obnoxious superintendent, Kitty is his landlady, and so on.