Western Animation / Histeria!

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Warner Bros' Histeria! was one of several shows created in part as a result of the FCC deciding in 1996 to start enforcing the 1990 Children's Television Act that required a certain percentage of "informative" and "educational" programs. It premiered on Kids' WB! in September 1998. But having come from the creators of Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs, this show, which centered on comedic sketches loosely based on historical events and topics, was actually pretty much the best show to come out of the CTA. Sadly, this went unnoticed in it's original run, which had the bad fortune to debut just as the Pokémon anime came to America and destroyed all competition.

One season (52 of the planned 65) of episodes were produced before the show was cancelled over budget concerns (i.e. being $10 million over it), then were repeated numerous times for the next three seasons before being taken off the network in 2001. Unlike its predecessors, Histeria! did not reappear in syndication on Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon. The show would've disappeared altogether if not for the fact that, in 2006, it reappeared as part of the initial lineup of Time Warner's In2TV channel until they were inexplicably removed in January 2009. After years of Keep Circulating the Tapes status, a MOD DVD set of the complete series was released in July 2016 on Amazon.com and Warner Bros.' online store. Tom Ruegger has expressed an interest in rebooting the show.


This show contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Cleopatra as played by The World's Oldest Woman.
  • Adam Westing: "Super Writers" features Ernest Hemingway voiced by the Trope Namer himself.
  • Anachronism Stew: Historical figures from different times tend to appear in other times, usually in crowd shots.
  • Animated Actors: In addition to the characters having to deal with censors and executives and treating the show like something they're acting in, some of the historical figures depicted on the show were portrayed by a member of the main cast. For example, the World's Oldest Woman has portrayed Cleopatra in "Tribute to Tyrants" and Big Fat Baby would sometimes play famous historical figures in their infancy.
  • Artistic License – History: Or what did you expect from an American kids' show helmed by Steven Spielberg?
  • Ax-Crazy: Lizzie Borden is portrayed this way. In one episode, she refers to herself as the "O.J. [Simpson] of 1892" (because she was acquitted of murder, even though it's heavily implied that she did it).
  • Bankruptcy Barrel:
    • In "Attack of the Vikings", Father Time ends up wearing a barrel after vikings run past him. Later, one of the vikings' victims remarks that they took everything but the shirt off his back, which results in the vikings stealing from him again and leaving him in nothing but a barrel.
    • "The Montezuma Show" has the Incan audience of a ball game end up in barrels after the Kid Chorus win the game and take their possessions in accordance with the game's rules.
    • Betsy Ross (portrayed by the World's Oldest Woman) is shown wearing a barrel after her bloomers are used to make the first American flag in "The Thomas Jefferson Program".
    • The musical number "People Wanted Pepper on Their Food" from the episode "Histeria Around the World I" depicted Adam and Eve (portrayed by Father Time and the World's Oldest Woman) wearing barrels.
    • Miss Information, Bill Straitman, and a recurring background character resembling the farmer from the painting American Gothic are seen wearing barrels during the sketch about the Great Depression in "Big Fat Baby Theater".
  • Beach Episode: "The Dawn of Time" ends with the cast hanging out at the beach.
  • Been There, Shaped History: This happens a lot to the kids, such as unintentionally inspiring Thomas Edison to invent the light bulb in "Inventors Hall of Fame, Part 1" and giving Rene Descartes the idea for his quote "I think, therefore I am" in "The Know-It-Alls".
  • Big Eater: Froggo.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: As expected from a WB comedy cartoon, and not just with Lydia Karaoke's harsh treatment whenever she complains about the show content.
    • A couple of episodes ended with the cast singing about how if they don't get enough viewers, Kids' WB will cut their pay out of spite.
    • At the end of the episode "Histeria Around the World II", Toast is unhappy about being a human sacrifice, but ends up accepting it when he is informed that the only other job available for him is to be a network executive for Kids' WB.
  • Bowdlerise: The retelling of the lives of Romulus and Remus in "A Blast from the Past" completely glosses over the fact that Romulus killed Remus. As a result, Remus just disappears from the story after Romulus becomes ruler of Rome.
  • Brainless Beauty: Miss Information is quite a looker, but, true to her name, often gets her facts about history wrong.
  • Butt Monkey: Pule Houser is frequently subjected to slapstick injuries. Lydia Karaoke on some occasions has abuse inflicted on her for trying to censor the show (justified in that she's a network censor).
  • Canada, Eh?: The episode "North America" began with a song about Canadian stereotypes sung to the tune of "O Canada".
  • Catch Phrases:
    • Charity Bazaar frequently states, "I'm not happy."
    • Loud Kiddington constantly describes someone by saying, "WHAT A _________!" (usually "grouch").
    • Lucky Bob frequently shouts out Ed McMahon's catch phrases.
    • Nostradamus would randomly insert "Shut up!" into his sentences.
  • Censor Box: Apparently LBJ has one heck of a hernia scar, but the network censor puts her clipboard in front of him at the right moment.
    "Yes well, thank you, Mr. President, but let's see if we can do without your more, ahem, personal views, shall we?..."
    • This is in reference to LBJ's habit of whipping it out in front of the press corp.
  • Cephalothorax: Big Fat Baby, due to being egg-shaped and having no neck.
  • The Chew Toy: Pule Houser.
  • Chummy Commies: Lenin and Trotsky oddly enough have a pretty favorable portrayal.
  • Credits Gag:
    • Much like its predecessors, the end credits often had hidden messages. For instance, "Really Oldies but Goodies" had "No cats were mummified in the making of this episode."
    • The episode "Super Writers" ended with credits that consisted solely of two group photos each of the writers, animators, voice actors, etc (one normal, and one where everyone made funny faces). These end credits also turned up at the end of "Big Fat Baby Theater", but were followed by normal credits.
  • Cut Short: Unlike with its Spielberg-produced predecessors, Histeria! had no Grand Finale other than the cast and crew singing "Auld Lang Syne" while pictures of them appear over the end credits of the last episode produced/aired ("Big Fat Baby Theater").
  • Depending on the Artist and Off Model: Happens quite a bit with the kids, especially Froggo. The artists couldn't decide whether he was supposed to be chubby or thin or somewhere in between.
  • Dirty Old Woman: World's Oldest Woman often hits on every man she meets.
  • The Ditz: Lucky Bob is a complete moron.
  • Does Not Like Men: Sappho.
  • Dumb Blonde: Miss Information has blonde hair and, true to her name, often gets her facts wrong, like claiming that George Washington was named after the Washington Monument when it's actually the other way around.
  • Eenie, Meenie, Miny Moai: Half a song about Easter Island makes that trope's quote page.
  • Emo Teen: Charity's younger than that, but she has the pessimistic attitude.
  • Everyone Hates Fruit Cakes: The "World War II" episode had a segment where the main cast helped Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Josef Stalin decide what to do after ending the war using foods to represent the other nations of the world and the defeated enemies. Fruit cake is used by Charity Bazaar to represent the Nazis, who does so because she claims no one likes fruit cake.
  • Fan Disservice: The World's Oldest Woman as Lady Godiva and Cleopatra in "A Tribute to Tyrants". When portraying the former, she is seen following the famous legend of Lady Godiva riding on horseback naked, while her portrayal of Cleopatra depicts her in the tub a couple of times while wanting Julius Caesar or Mark Antony to scrub her back.
    Loud Kiddington: See it. See it. DON'T SEE IT! DON'T SEE IT! And I don't wanna see it!
  • Fate Worse Than Death: In "A Tribute to Tyrants", Julius Caesar and Mark Antony are both so horrified by Cleopatra's affections towards them that they find being faced with their historic deaths to be more pleasant than Cleopatra flirting with them. Unfortunately, Cleopatra reunites with them in heaven after she dies.
  • Fictional Video Game: Froggo and Toast are shown playing a fighting game starring two Big Fat Babies in "Better Living Through Science".
  • Flat Character: Most of the cast, really. As opposed to Tiny Toons or Animaniacs, the leads on this show usually had only one side, one joke, one reaction to anything, though, for this show, it was more about making fun of history than developing characterization.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: Joan of Arc's fate after she gets burned at the stake
  • Friendly Tickle Torture: George Washington briefly does this to Martha Washington at the end of the first sketch in "The American Revolution".
  • Gender Flip: One promo proposed 'Hers'teria,' where Pepper Mill swaps various male-sounding suffixes with female ones, such as Thomas JefferDAUGHTER, the fronteersWOmen and viQUEENSnote .
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band: Toast decides to name his band Nasty Head Wound after Daniel Boone suffers an actual head wound.
  • Got Volunteered: The Mountie sketch, with Loud as the volunteer.
  • Gross-Out Show: Big Fat Baby's flatulence.
  • Guttural Growler: Froggo.
  • Hello, Nurse!: Miss Information.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Napoleon is run through a ringer in this one, to almost impossibly inaccurate levels.
  • Historical Hilarity: The entire premise of the show is comedic sketches loosely based on historical events and topics.
  • I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham: Loud Kiddington directly parodies this by asking George H.W. Bush to eat broccoli.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The show's full title is Warner Bros.' Histeria!
  • Idea Bulb: Played with in the sketch about Thomas Edison.
  • If It Tastes Bad, It Must Be Good for You: Somewhat parodied because George H.W. Bush was known for banning broccoli in the White House as a rather funny thing he did.
  • Incessant Music Madness: There's a Civil War skit accompanied by violin music - eventually the soldier starts complaining about the music and winds up eating his own head so he won't have to hear it.
  • Karmic Trickster: Loud Kiddington, particularly in the Mounties sketch.
    • Additionally, Bugs Bunny himself made a few cameos.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: One song which lists the plots of Shakespeare's 37 plays spoils the ending of most of them (particularly the ones in which everyone dies).
  • Left the Background Music On: See Incessant Music Madness above.
  • Little Miss Snarker: Charity Bazaar.
  • Long List: In an homage to the Cheese Shop sketch, a segment about the Boston Tea Party has an Englishman appear at the aforementioned "party" and ask for many, many different kinds of tea, only to be informed that they're "fresh out".
  • Monkeys on a Typewriter: In "Super Writers".
  • Moral Guardian: Lydia Karaoke, the network censor, who would often interrupt sketches to point out the objectionable material, such as criticizing the "sassy virgin talk" when Toast asks what a "vestal virgin" was, warning viewers about the gross-out humor in a sketch about a Roman vomitorium, objecting to the use of "damn" and "hell" in the phrases "Damn the torpedoes" and "War is hell," and using her clipboard to cover up Lyndon Baines Johnson about to take off his pants to show his hernia scar.
  • Narrator: Father Time and, on occasion, Miss Information.
  • The Napoleon: Napoleon himself.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Lots of historical figures are portrayed acting like celebrities; for instance, Julius Caesar and his murderers are Frank Sinatra and the other members of the Rat Pack. They also portray Martin Luther as being like William Shatner and Plato as a caricature of Fred Rodgers.
  • No Fourth Wall: It is frequently acknowledged by the characters that this is a cartoon, particularly with Lydia Karaoke's complaints about questionable material and futile pleas that they make things more appropriate for children.
  • No Indoor Voice: Loud Kiddington, who is less "Outdoor Voice" and more like "Halfway across Manhattan Voice." Unsurprisingly, he's the trope image (Western Animation division).
    • Pepper Mills, to a lesser extent. Nearly everything she says is followed by an enthusiastic scream.
  • No Name Given: Crooked Mouth Boy and Bow-Haired Girl. Storyboards for "When America Was Young", recently made available online, reveal that Crooked Mouth Boy's name is actually Chipper, though.
  • Note to Self: "Never again hire anyone from Cabin Crews R Us."
  • Opposites Attract: Miss Information and Mr. Smartypants hooked up in a Dating Game parody.
  • Overly Long Name: Sarah Coopersmith-Fitzwarren-Goldenheimer-Stein.
  • Parental Bonus: Jokes that didn't fall under Getting Crap Past the Radar (and a lot that were) tended to be these.
  • Parody Commercial: A common sketch, one example being an album parody commercial for the Greatest Hits of the 1860's.
  • Patter Song: "The Story That's Told By The Bard."
  • Punny Names: Pretty much every character on the show.
  • ReCut: There are two versions of the "Megalomaniacs!" episode that exist: one has a sketch in which the Histeria! kids think General Custer's Last Stand is a custard shop, another with the game show "Convert or Die," in which victims accused of heresy get to choose between converting to The Catholic Church or getting tortured to death during The Spanish Inquisition. The version that aired on television initially was the one with the "Convert or Die" sketch, but after complaints from The Catholic League rolled in, the reruns instead aired the "General Custard's Last Stand" version. When the short-lived video website In2TV aired the entire series of Histeria!, the "Megalomaniacs!" episode with the "Convert or Die" sketch was released. Conversely, the "General Custer's Last Stand" version is what's on the complete series DVD set.
  • Refuge in Audacity:
    • Much like Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs, this show once again pisses off the censors with as much radar-dodging crap as possible (some of which is pointed out by Lydia Karaoke). Added bonus for the fact that the censor character here is often treated like a Butt Monkey (read: ignored, injured, and overall defied).
    • Some of their sketches have the air of being on a sketch comedy show for adults (i.e., Saturday Night Live, Fridays, Monty Python, or MADtv), but is made all the more shocking by being in a sketch show for kids. Some examples include: "My Buddy Stalin" (a family-sitcom starring Joseph Stalin), "General Sherman's Campsite" (Pee-Wee's Playhouse set during the Civil War with General William Temeusch Sherman as Paul Reubens' hyper Man Child character Pee-Wee Herman, who is now obsessed with burning Atlanta, Georgia to the ground), and the banned sketch "Convert or Die" (a game show set during The Spanish Inquisition where contestants have to choose between converting to The Catholic Church or being tortured for being a heretic).
  • A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma: Parodied. Winston Churchill is shown saying the trope quote, and then we zoom out to reveal that he's behind the counter of a fast food restaurant.
  • Rule of Funny: While it did include more references to history than most edutainment cartoons in general, the writers didn't concern themselves too much with the fact they were billing the show as "informative" and "educational" programming... in, well, any situation where they thought accuracy would get in the way of humor.
    • Averted in the episode involving the Underground Railroad, which took it very seriously, despite the running gag of the kids thinking the Underground Railroad is a real railroad, and the episode that focused on the Civil Rights movement actually treated the subject matter with respect.
  • Running Gag:
    • Pepper constantly mistaking historical celebrities for pop cultural ones, never realizing her mistake until she's gotten their autograph. For instance, mistaking Vladimir Lenin for John Lennon.
    • Loud watching something and alternating between "See it, see it..." and "DON'T SEE IT!! DON'T SEE IT!!" depending on whether he sees it.
    • The last time the Big Fat Baby had his diaper changed. Whenever someone asked, a character would respond by asking, "Remember when [insert historical event here]?" The inquirer would respond affirmatively, the character would respond with "Before that."
    • In sketches where Loud and Fetch are running a business, Loud says that if he can't make a deal, Fetch will eat something disgusting, which said dog will get upset about.
  • Sassy Black Preteen Girl. Aka Pella.
  • Shout-Out: References to previous WB cartoons are sometimes made:
    • Big Fat Baby's jingle (the one where Father Time's chasing him in the desert) is based on the theme song from The Road Runner Show.
    • Froggo's room is decorated with merchandise for Batman: The Animated Series.
    • Froggo's regular outfit is much like the one of Wakko from Animaniacs. (Unlike Wakko, though, he actually wears pants.)
    • A song introducing a sketch about Alexander the Great is sung to the tune of the Animaniacs theme, and the sketch about Florence Nightingale as a Hospital Hottie ends with the boys shouting "Hello, Nurse!!" Also, the World's Oldest Woman's jingle is sung to the tune of Slappy Squirrel's theme.
    • The Pinky and the Brain theme music can be heard when Chit Chatterson mentions brain removal in a sketch about mummification.
      • As well as part of the background music for the introduction to Nikola Tesla's later life.
    • Clark Kent's appearance as William Clark, of course. Additionally, Superman made two other cameos as himself (one of which had his "S" emblem written as "F", which some have speculated is a nod to Freakazoid!!).
    • Fetch bears a bit of resemblance to Hunter from Road Rovers. This could just be a result the Kids' WB! "house style" though. Notably, though, the last episode contains a brief gag in which Fetch dashes onstage joined by dogs who appear to be of the same breeds as Blitz, Exile, and Shag.
      • Word of God did say Fetch's resemblance to Hunter was intentional!
    • The Revolutionary War episode had a segment where the action was "called" by parodies of the lead FOX NFL duo at the time of Pat Summerall and John Madden.
    • The sketch about the Boston Tea Party ends up being a homage to Monty Python's Cheese Shop sketch, replacing types of cheeses with types of tea (and even having John Cleese do a voice cameo)
    • One alternate opening credit is done exactly in the style of Saturday Night Live (in a mix of the 1978-1979 opening credits where the cast members are shown airbrushed and the 1988-1989 opening where the show's name is in a circular logo [which was used up until season 20])
    • A skit involving the Spice Islands involves, naturally enough, a Spice Girls parody. World's Oldest Woman is peeved that she's apparently "Old Spice".
    • Loud Kiddington's Expository Theme Tune bears a striking resemblance to the theme tune of Bat Masterson.
    • In "The Dawn of Time", a cow falls on Foghorn Leghorn.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: "The Story That's Told By The Bard," a Tom Lehrer-esque musical number which truncates The Bard's 37 plays into a single three-and-a-half minute song.
  • Shown Their Work: The series has its moments, it's an amusing show that is all about bringing a subject that is typically perceived as stuffy and irrelevant to younger people. Their sketch on the New Deal is a fairly well researched snapshot on FDR's programs. In particular the series does a good job on the Second World War, giving a basic (it is a kid's show after all) outline of the lead-up to Nazi Germany and doesn't particularly gloss over the less-mentioned parts of the war (i.e. alliance with the most assuredly non-democratic Soviet Union and the postwar Europe debacle) that often escape mention in other sources, though it does privilege the Western Front over the Eastern Front (where the majority of the war was fought and won by the Soviets).
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Superheroes Yin and Yang.
  • Snowball Fight: How they depicted the Cold War
  • Speech Impediment: Susanna Susquahanna and Lucky Bob both lisp.
  • Take That:
    • "Attack of the Vikings" features a dig at Regis and Kathie Lee by having vikings kidnap a woman who is a caricature of Kathie Lee from her husband, who is a caricature of Regis. The vikings eventually find that they can't stand their hostage, so they send her back to her husband, who promptly swims after the vikings and begs that they let him come with them.
    • A cat burps up Mickey Mouse's shorts in "Really Really Oldies but Goodies".
    • "Histeria Around the World (Part 2)" opens with Loud, Charity, Aka, and Toast parodying the Teletubbies (much to their chagrin).
  • Talking Animal: Loud's dog, Fetch.
  • Theme Song: Many, plus themes for segments featuring regulars like Loud or Pepper. The two main themes were a 30 second version and its extended version. Occasionally, a parody of another show's theme song was used, such as The Addams Family, The Simpsons, or Saturday Night Live, as mentioned above.
  • Theme Tune Roll Call: Both of the regular theme songs had it.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: "That's Mister Hannibal to you!"
  • Token Evil Teammate: The portrayal of Stalin in the "Freedom League" sketch about World War II:
    Loud Kiddington: What are we gonna do, Mr. Stalin?
    Stalin: Kill all my enemies using secret police and famine?
    FDR: [affectionately] Ha, ha, ha, you'll have plenty of time for that later, you murderous thug!
    Stalin: Okay, good.
  • Travel Montage: Hannibal's trip across the Alps.
  • Urine Trouble: The segment about Richard Nixon in the episode "20th Century Presidents" had a joke where Nixon remarked there was a leak in the White House after being told by the press that they heard Checkers wasn't paper-trained. We cut to inside the White House, where Checkers remarks "You got that right" while hiking his leg near a table.
  • Vague Age: The kids' ages are never given, but it is mentioned in one episode that they attend William Howard Taft Big Around the Middle School. However, Froggo is actually said to be ten in "The U.S. Civil War - Part 2".
  • Villain Song: "The Sound of Stalin" consists of Stalin listing his atrocities as things that make him happy.
  • Weirdness Search and Rescue: Miss Information would guide people through historic events and describe them, usually getting some details hilariously wrong and needing to be corrected.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Shown in one episode as Alexander the Great's relationship with his father Philip of Macedon, as Philip infuriates Alexander by always telling him that his feats are "pretty good but not great". Actually likely Truth in Television of the relationship between the two - there have long been rumors Alexander had something to do with his father's assassination.
  • Who's on First?: This pops up during Father Time's attempt to quiz Lucky Bob and Susanna about the Zhou Dynasty.
    • Also done in the Lewis and Clark sketch when Lewis asks Clark which way to turn on the river.
  • Writing Lines: In a parody of the intro to The Simpsons, Loud has to write "I do not need a megaphone!"

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/WesternAnimation/Histeria