Western Animation / Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child
An animated series that originally aired on HBO
and ran for three seasons over 1995-2000. The episodes take different traditional fairy tales and set them in a variety of cultures from all around the world, with an appropriate Race Lift
applied to the characters. In Season Three, all the stories have female lead characters, which depending on the source material may or may not be the result of a Gender Flip
. Each episode is narrated by Robert Guillaume, with a recurring cast of guest stars including Sinbad, Rosie Perez, and B.D. Wong. And yes, every story ends with the characters living Happily Ever After
Not to be confused with the Filmation
movie Happily Ever After
Compare and contrast Faerie Tale Theatre
, another cable series that retold fairy tales with an All-Star Cast
. (Twenty-four stories were dramatized by both shows.)
This cartoon has examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Sometimes. The wicked stepmothers in Cinderella and Snow White, naturally. Madame Zenobia of Rapunzel is more of an abusive guardian. King Midas of the fairy tale of the same name is not classically abusive to his daughter Goldina, but is certainly neglectful of her in favor of gold. And Scofflaw, pauper Zoe's father in The Princess and the Pauper, is definitely an abusive dad. He even tries to force his daughter to steal even when she says she doesn't want to.
- Action Girl: Breadcrumb of The Three Little Pigs and Goldie from The Steadfast Tin Soldier. Imani, the human star of that same story, arguably becomes this. Vanna of Rip Van Winkle becomes this as well.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Madame Zenobia is the QUEEN of this.
- Adipose Rex: The Emperor in "The Emperor's new clothes", as well as a few other kings in the series.
- Adult Fear: Seeing as this is a fairy tale-based show, this is a given, really. Just the whole idea of having children in danger of being kidnapped or worse runs through out several episodes of the show.
- Adults Are More Anthropomorphic: In Three Little Pigs, a baby pig in an Imagine Spot is just a normal pig with hair. The adults are mostly bipedal and they wear clothes.
- All There in the Script: Cinderella's wicked stepsisters are named Margarita and Esmeralda in the credits, though are not identified in the episode.
- Big Eater:
- The two iguanas in the Cinderella episode—they even have a song dedicated to it. Susana the witch from Hansel and Gretel also counts.
- Then there's Rip, who wants Vanna to be his "little miracle baker," generally seems to be scarfing down something, and complains quite vocally about his hunger (ironically enough, he doesn't know how to use a microwave).
- Bilingual Bonus: The Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, and Cinderella episodes make particular use of this. They all have a Latin-American flavor and thus, Spanish words are liberally mixed in with the English tales.
- For the "Hansel and Gretel" episode, if you pay attention to the beans' song, they are actually trying to warn the children that the witch is going to eat them in Spanish.
- Bittersweet Ending: The Happy Prince and Pied Piper of Hamlin both have this.
- Break the Haughty: Happens too many times to count.
- Carnivore Confusion: Likely played for Black Comedy Cannibalism in the "Three Little Pigs" episode. For example, one pig character's father makes a fortune off of pork bellies.
- Dating What Mommy Hates: In "The Princess and the Pea", the Queen disproves of her son falling for the 12th girl who arrived late. She even faints when she turned out to be a true princess.
- Deadpan Snarker: Sharp Flint from the Snow White adaptation is one.
- Disney Acid Sequence: Many of the song sequences go into this, especially The Three Bears' Song in Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and the Blues Fairy and Dream Diva's song in Pinocchio and King Midas, respectively (though understandable seeing as how they're both magical). Vanna's "I Am" Song has some, too, as does Rip's.
- Disneyfication: Every adaptation...except for The Happy Prince.
- Earn Your Happy Ending
- Even the Girls Want Her: Check out the maidens' reactions during Sly Fox's "You Are" Song.
- Expy: In the Thumbelina episode Mrs. Leaperman looks, sounds and acts strangely like Bev Bighead.
- Deli Porkchop of The Three Little Pigs is supposedly an Expy of Dolly Parton.
- The Fair Folk: Rumpelstiltskin fits this trope to a T.
- The Dream Diva from King Midas might be an inversion. She doesn't mean for her spell to be evil, but the negative consequences sure feel that way.
- Fairy Tale Motifs and Fairy Tale Tropes in general.
- Faux Affably Evil: Many of the classic fairy tale villains, including the Witch in Hansel and Gretel
- Fractured Fairy Tale: Most notable in the Aesop's Fables episode.
- Fur Is Skin: This is used in the Three Little Pigs episode. White pigs have pink fur, black pigs have brown fur, and Asian piga have light brown-ish fur.
- Gender Flip: "Three Little Pigs", "The Prince and the Pauper", "Robin Hood", "The Nightingale", "The Steadfast Tin Soldier", and "The Bremen Town Musicians" get this treatment, and few of the characters from Aesop's Fables in the last episode.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Vanna's "Hippy, Dippy, a Little Bit Trippy" ballad from the Rip Van Winkle episode counts. In "The Steadfast Tin Soldier," we have the teddy bear warning the clown not to "do anything illegal, like the last time!"
- Sly Fox's Magic Mirror in Snow White makes a reference to Sly Fox's "little backside" and powwow dancers "shaking their feathers" in response to her beauty.
- In "The Princess and the Pea", while observing the visiting princesses, the Queen said that one of them is "a man". The King caught this.
- In Snow White, the mirror tells stepmother character Sly Fox that White Snow is fairest of all and that compared to her, Sly Fox looks like...well. Doubles as a Last-Second Word Swap.
- Handicapped Badass: Goldie from "The Steadfast Tin Soldier".
- "I Am" Song: Rip and Vanna each get one in Rip Van Winkle. There's one in The Princess and the Pauper, and one for White Snow's stepmother Sly Fox in "Snow White," though that's more of a You Are Song. The detective and hare get one in Aesop's Fables, and arguably, so do the ants. The miners in Snow White have a "We Are" song as introduction.
- I Just Want My Beloved to Be Happy: The fisherman's final wish in "The Fisherman and his Wife".
- Ink-Suit Actor: Not as common as you'd think, but why else would the Rooster from The Bremen Town Musicians (voiced by George Clinton) have his comb tied up like that?◦ Also very prevalent in the "Henny Penny" episode.
- Mother Goose, played by Whoopi Goldberg does look a lot like her character.
- Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Thankfully averted by Goldie and Imani.
- Interactive Narrator: Usually averted, but a few of the more tongue-in-cheek stories have the narrator getting in on the act, such as becoming a golf announcer in "The Frog Princess," and having Henny Penny treat him like the reporter back at the studio.
- "Rip Van Winkle" features a female co-narrator.
- Karma Houdini:
- The Tailors in The Emperor's New Clothes, though this is a rare example.
- Cinderella's stepsisters, also, because the story takes the route of letting Cinderella forgive those who have wronged her. Subverted in that the iguanas will likely punish them for her. And half the cast of Aesop's Fables gets one when the mouse suggests that all be forgiven when they steal the book to make the fables end in their favor.
- Love Redeems: Happens in "Beauty and the Beast" and to the king in "Rumpelstiltskin".
- Meaningful Name: All the "little men" in the Snow White adaptation are given Native American names that reflect obvious traits. The exception appears to be Bright Silver.
- Scofflaw of The Princess and the Pauper, as in, he scoffs at the law.
- My Beloved Smother: The Queen in "The Princess and the Pea".
- Madame Zenobia is a very dark example.
- One-Winged Angel: The Queen in "Snow White" shapeshifts into a bear as a last resort when she's found out for attempting to kill the heroine. However, in order to use such magic she has to go into the spirit world via her mirror. So before she can get back and hurt anyone, the dwarfs trap her there forever by breaking the mirror.
- Parental Bonus:
- The Rip Van Winkle episode, heavily based on the '60s and feminism, has a whole cast's worth with the Women of Thunder Mountain and Vanna's Fairy God-Mentor.
- Both the King Midas adaptation and the Rumpelstiltskin one have references to M.C. Hammer's "Can't Touch This."
- The Power of Love: Is often used to save the day.
- Race Lift: Nearly all the stories have predominantly African-American/Hispanic/Asian casts, depending on the setting. The Asian "Aladdin" episode technically averts this, as the story is supposed to be set in China to begin with.
- Also averted with Rip Van Winkle—Rip and Vanna are not only white, but blonde. Presumably, this is because of the tale's focus on women as a minority, not just racial issues.
- The "Ali Baba" episode in an interesting case. There is clearly an Arabic setting...but the entire cast is African-American, so it is unclear what race the characters are meant to be.
- The Snow Queen is an odd case. Though the setting is an Inuit one, nearly all of the voice actors are African-American.
- Rhymes on a Dime: The daily speech of the citizens of Mother Gooseburg Land is like this, though they start to lose this after her decision to retire.
- The Runt at the End: One of the princess in "The Princess and the Pea".
- Savage Wolves: The Three Little Pigs episode has an educational film about avoiding these.
- Setting Update: Or sometimes setback - "The Shoemaker's Elves" takes place in Aztec Mexico.
- Snake Oil Sales Man: The tailors in "The Emperor's New Clothes".
- Stay in the Kitchen: Rip Winkle's entire personality turns on this, to the point that his song lyrics include a reference to it.
- Theme Naming:
- The Native American retelling of "Snow White" names the seven dwarfs after minerals and metals, appropriate for a bunch of miners.
- In "Beauty and the Beast", Beauty's siblings also have meaningful names — her sister is named Precious and her brother Tree. Precious is sweet and loved but narcissistic, and Tree is strong but also lazy (i.e., "rooted to one spot"). Beauty, who is pretty but also has a kind and lovely spirit, lives up to her name in all the best ways by comparison.
- The Trickster: Rumpelstiltskin, Puss in Boots, The Pied Piper, and the beggar in "The Golden Goose" just to name a few.
- Twice-Told Tale
- Vegetarian Carnivore: The Wolf in "Three Little Pigs" claims to be one. It's a Blatant Lies.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: In The Little Mermaid, we see Mija the mermaid trade her voice to the Sea Witch for legs, then the Sea Witch takes the voice for her own, laughs menacingly...and we never see her again. There was no hint of whether she planned to use the voice for her own misdeeds, but that one scene certainly implied it and since Mija wins the Prince's love and her voice back anyway, we'll never know.
- Of course, the sea witch's "own misdeeds" were a Disney addition in the first place. Her entire business in the tale was limited to shady deals, and she even explained all the catches in advance. The temple girl, Lady Michiko, is notably a separate character, as she was originally.
- Your Normal Is Our Taboo: The Three Little Pigs—in pig-world, it's considered horrific to be thin or clean, which leads to the Camp Piggywood motto of, "You can never be too fat or too dirty." This is also used as justification for why Barbie-Que Pepper's career is suffering at the story's outset.