Western Animation / Sheep in the Big City

Ewe with us?note 
Created by illustrator Mo Willams, Sheep in the Big City (2000-2002) was one of the last shows aired as part of Cartoon Network's Cartoon Cartoons.

The titular Sheep fled to the titular Big City in order to escape the sinister Secret Military Organization, who were seeking him to use in their sheep-powered ray gun. The various episodes revolved around Sheep adjusting to life in the Big City while trying to win over his love interest, Swanky the Poodle, and dodging such foes as General Specific (leader of the secret Military Organization still trying to track Sheep down) and Lady Richington (Swanky's ill-tempered, sheep-hating owner with a stainless steel wig).

The show was structured as a sort of Rocky and Bullwinkle for the new millennium, featuring humorous fake advertisements and variety sections before and after real commercial breaks, often being strange non-sequiturs and generally weird.

This series provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: When Lady Richington and her dog moved into a building where sheep aren't welcome, Sheep used a magical disguise to get in and Lady Richington started chasing him like Pepe Le Pew chases Penelope.
  • All Just a Dream: One entire episode focuses on several bizarre plots that turn out to be dreams that the characters are having. This infuriates the Narrator… though it turns out that the entire episode is all just a dream of his. When he wakes up, however, he finds himself in the exact position he was in at the end of the dream.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: General Public, Private Public's father. He even carries around embarrassing baby photos of his son.
  • Animated Actors: The whole final episode happens behind the scenes, though the actors' names and real personalities are exactly the same.
  • Art Evolution: Season 2's animation is more vibrant and colorful, with slightly thicker lines than in Season 1.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: One of the Oxymoron segments shows a trailer for a movie called Attack Of The 50 Foot Creature, a giant monster consisting of 50 evil feet. Released in Europe as The Approximately 17 Metre Creature That Amusingly Enough Happens To be Made Entirely Out Of Feet Movie. Yeah, it's that kind of show.
    • A season 2 episode that used pretty much every Disaster Movie trope humanly possible has Sheep enlarged and attacking the Big City (well, not so much as attacking, but accidentally tripping over buildings).
  • Bad Boss: While he doesn't kill his employees when they fail him like most examples of this trope, General Specific is both incredibly demanding and childishly petty, willing to fire or dispose of his employees at the drop of a hat, preferably by hidden hatches throughout the base, even when they succeed in their tasks, and rarely calls the Angry Scientist by the right name.
  • Berserk Button: The Angry Scientist does not like to be called mad.
  • Blatant Lies: Most of Oxymoron's products DO work as promised; they're just incredibly poorly conceived. One however is blatant false advertising, the Super Cool Fresh Rocket Ball, which the spokesman promises bounces twice as high as a regular ball, despite being a rusty metal cube. When the customer he's trying to sell it to demands a demonstration, the spokesman sputters off, then cues the slogan again.
  • Better Than a Bare Bulb: When the show is following Sheep's plotline, the main one, you'd be lucky to find a span of three minutes that doesn't hang a huge lampshade on itself. A crowning example - a robot named "The Plot Device," just for starters.
  • Big Bad: General Specific.
  • Big "NO!": One episode has General Specific capturing Sheep when Sheep returns to the farm for a barbecue reunion with his old friends. When Farmer John, who's in the middle of a fight with Specific's soldiers, notices this, he immediately throws everyone off him, while yelling a Big "NO!".
  • Butt-Monkey: Sheep, General Specific, the Angry Scientist, anyone in the Oxymoron commercials
  • Captain Obvious: Among others, there is a short man named Jay, whose entire role is to read aloud various signs that are on screen at the time and occasionally comment on fonts.
  • Catch-Phrase: In (nearly) every episode, one of the commercials will proclaim the item sold does whatever it does "With the power of an OX!"
    • Sheep being, well, a sheep, can only communicate in bleats, but has two distinct ones, a sardonic "Baah...", and a startled "BAAH!"
    • "Hubba-whah?" for everyone.
  • The Chew Toy: Sheep receives a fair amount of physical abuse per episode.
  • Clear My Name: One episode revolves around Sheep being framed for a crime wave happening in the city that targets the rich and gives the proceeds to the poor. It was actually Swanky, trying to help Sheep's reputation with the general population of The City.
  • Couch Gag:
    • Every episode (except for the pilot) starts with Sheep watching something random on TV and changing the channel halfway through.
    • The Ranting Swede's bit at the end of every episode.
  • Covert Group with Mundane Front: In one story, General Specific and his soldiers disguise their so-called "Top Secret Military Base" as a bakery.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The Completely Powerful Guy once claimed that his belt has the gadget for pretty much everything. This turned out to be a lie, however. All it contains is his brain, who told him to trick the villain into surrendering.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Narrator.
    • Sheep himself also qualifies despite only speaking in bleats.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The narrator uses redundant language. "Meanwhile, concurrently, at the same time..."
  • Designated Hero: In-universe with Completely Powerful Guy, a Superman expy who is The Big City's resident superhero, but who is a sniveling coward who does anything he can to weasel out of potential crime fighting, and blatantly ignores his own hero signal.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Here's a sheep named Sheep. It helps that the big city has only one sheep.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The pilot lacked many of the commercials that the series loved to milk for all they're worth, and the Ranting Swede. Private Public wasn't as much of an Only Sane Man as he would be in the show, the Angry Scientist's speech pattern is more normal than it would be in the show, and Swanky, Lisa Rentel, and the Plot Device were nowhere to be found. It was also animated in a very primitive form of Adobe AfterEffects (which is why everything appears to float), whereas the series proper was traditionally animated.
  • Easy Amnesia: Parodied in the penultimate episode of the series, where Sheep gets a light hit on the head and spends the majority of the episode walking around in a daze and acting as different animals and objects, since he can't remember who he is. Towards the end of the episode, Private Public, General Specific and Farmer John all end up giving each other easy amnesia, and Ben Plotz does it to himself.
  • Enfant Terrible: Lisa Rentel.
  • Enemy Mine: The Wool is Not Enough had General Specific and Sheep teaming to stop a crazed new scientist, Doctor Oh No No No, who planned to conquer the globe by using an elephant to power the Sheep Ray Gun.
  • Eye Scream: One episode revolves Sheep bonding with Private Public's father. When they're at a baseball game, Sheep gets hit in the face with a baseball, causing one of his eyes to fall off his face.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The sheep-powered raygun is a raygun powered by sheep, the plot device is a device to move along the plot and the Ranting Swede is a Swedish Man who rants about things.
  • Fantastic Racism: For some odd reason, the Big City seems to be prejudiced against sheep specifically, until the current mayor imposes several pro-sheep laws in the second season.
    • Lady Richington especially. The narrator even referred to her as a "sheep-hater extraordinaire".
  • Fish out of Water: Only one Sheep lives in the Big City. Sheep has already adjusted, and the Big City is now its familiar home.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Parodied with each episode's narrated commercial break cliffhanger, where it's made clear that the characters are just doing their best to stay still while the Narrator talks over the scene.
  • Funny Foreigner:
    • The Ranting Swede.
    • The Angry Scientist. His grasp of English grammar is extremely limited.
      Angry Scientist: Why are you not my Englishness be understanding? All the timing with that.
  • Gag Series: Oh, Hell yes.
  • Gargle Blaster: A rare non-alcoholic version - Shrimpola Cola. It combines the taste of cola and 12-week old sun-dried shrimp and will burn your brain, as advertised by its rapping shrimp mascot Shrimpy.
  • General Failure: Well, gee, General Specific is trying to catch one sheep in a place where a sheep would stick out like a sore thumb, and people aren't all too fond of sheep, but as easy as it sounds, he keeps messing up.
  • Genre Savvy: The Narrator, at times, flying into a rage during an episode that was merely a series of dreams, and again when Sheep gets amnesia.
  • His Name Really Is "Barkeep": Far Mer John.
  • Honest John's Dealership: The Oxymoron guy, Victor, qualifies.
  • Hot Scientist: Dr Cliche, a volcano "expert" who doesn't know anything about volcanoes. She refers to magma as "red, hot melty stuff".
  • Hurricane of Puns: The entire show is a nonstop strong gust of puns, but occasionally it can go full-on hurricane. Often to the narrator's dismay.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All chapter titles contain some sheep-related pun, except for the one ironically named "Some Pun on the word Sheep".
  • Improbable Weapon User: Lady Richington wears a wig made of solid stainless steel, which she likes to use as a blunt weapon on Sheep.
  • Incompetence, Inc.: The Oxymoron Corporation, whose products are featured in the episodes themselves, and advertised between segments. Among their products and services are "Shrimpola Cola", a cola with 12 week old sun dried shrimp inside that causes severe brain burns, Oxymoron Batteries which are pretty powerful but drains your life force as a power source, their incredibly poorly managed Oxymoron Airlines where the staff has its human decency literally sucked out of their souls to ensure an unpleasant experience and the "Super Cool Fresh Rocket Ball", which is, in fact, a metal cube, that somehow requires 97 batteries to work.
  • Insistent Terminology: The Angry Scientist would get especially angry if anyone referred to him as a Mad Scientist. "Angrrrrry! I am an ANGRRRRRRRY scientist!"
  • Interspecies Romance: Sheep and his girlfriend Swanky, a poodle.
  • Iron Butt Monkey: Sheep is subject to enormous amounts of physical abuse in almost every episode. However it takes a LOT to actually keep him down.
  • It Runs on Nonsensoleum:
    • There's actually had a robot called "the plot device", leading to conversations like:
      Woman: How did you get here so fast?
      Major Minor: I used a Plot Device!
      Plot Device: (sticks head into view) Hello.
    • And then there's the sheep-powered ray gun, for which the Secret Military Organization needs Sheep, despite the fact that the farm he escaped from was a sheep farm with at least 50 more. We don't know why, but the ray gun only works with one sheep and only if he's alive.
  • Kangaroo Court: In one episode Sheep is assured that he'll "be found guilty in a completely fair trial." The judge declares him guilty after his opening statement. In the form of song and dance.
  • Kent Brockman News: The resident newscasters Hank and Betsy.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The show is practically fueled by Lampshade Hanging. It's one of the most common types of humor in the series, after puns and sight gags.
    • It is regularly acknowledged that making a ray gun that uses a more practical power source than sheep would be less trouble than hunting Sheep down. And don't you dare asking General Specific why he simply doesn't pick any sheep and have the ray gun compatible to it.
    • In another instance, Private Public asks the Angry Scientist why he can't make a ray gun that works without a sheep after he just invented a time machine. His response basically amounts to "I'm the scientist here."
  • Large Ham: With the exception of Farmer John and Private Public, almost every recurring human male character in the show was a Large Ham at some point. Including one that was actually a ham sandwich.
  • Lemony Narrator: The Narrator more often than not will end up complaining about the script he's reading and the patent silliness of some situations. He is also essentially treated as a character both in the show and in the Show Within a Show.
  • Letting the Air Out of the Band: In every episode, and every five minutes; sometimes, even seconds.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Used for most of the main characters, such as Ben Plotz's sweater vest/dress shirt, The Angry Scientist's lab coat, Lisa Rentel's pink dress, and the military uniform of General Specific and Private Public. On the few occasions that they wear different clothes, it's usually a disguise, sometimes worn on top of their regular clothes.
  • Mad Scientist: He's not mad, he's an Angry Scientist!
  • Meaningful Name: To say nothing of everyone else, the Plot Device is a robot that serves exactly that purpose.
    Gen. Specific: How do you know that?
    Pri. Public: The Plot Device told us!
    Plot Device: Hello!
  • Mega Corp.: Almost all of the products in the fake commercials are sold by Oxymoron.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Hilariously lampooned by the live-action trailer.
    General: We're not here to count sheep, soldier. We're not here to count sheep.
  • Niche Network: The Watching Paint Dry Channel.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: At the end credits of the pilot:
    No sheep were injured during the filming of this special.
    The next day, however, Sheep walked into a wall and stubbed his toe.
  • Non Sequitur: Another frequent source of jokes, especially prevalent in the Oxymoron commercials.
    Do you have a paper towel absorbent enough to clean up this stain?
    Of course not! Its a bucket of mud and volcanic ash!!
    Well neither do I, but I do have this extra mint chewing gum!
  • Obviously Evil: A recurring minor character named Greedy McGreedgreed. In the episode where Sheep runs for mayor, Farmer John, as Sheep's campaign manager, still accepts campaign contributions from him
    Reporter: You accepted campaign funds from a man named Greedy McGreedgreed?!
  • Obvious Stunt Double: In the pilot, Sheep finds himself cornered on a rooftop by Far Mer John and General Specific, though while Far Mer John and General Specific argue over the General's penmanship (or lack thereof) on the cue cards, Sheep uses this opportunity to escape: he unravels his wool, creating a rope for him to swing over to the roof of the building across the street. Cut to a shot of a man wearing a Sheep costume swinging from a rope to the other building, only crash against the facade, and tumbled down to the street below (all in slow motion, and with added film grain), before cutting back to Sheep, who is now lying on the cracked sidewalk in a daze.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Happens quite frequently.
  • Only Sane Man: Private Public, the more savvy sidekick of General Specific.
  • Overly Long Name:
    • Mrs. Smythe Robertson Johnson Weathermocker Von Herbertson-Berski-Jackson-Greengrove, the woman in the Oxymoron commercials.
    • "I call it, the portable sightness-reducing vision obscuring tactical cloth optics impairer." "Isn't that just a blindfold?" "Yes, but with a fancier name."
    • Oxymoron Guaranteed Plastic Sealing Bag-type Containers. It also has a supercomputer-powered, laser-equipped robot attached to protect the freshness.
    • Operation Kidnap The Sheep That We Need For The Ray Gun And Make Sure He Doesn't Get Away Again Storm (or if that's too long for you, you can just use the acronym: Operation KTSTWNFTRGAMSHDGAAS.)
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: Dinky - the superest turtle in the universe. He's slightly faster than a normal turtle. And he has a bitching cape.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: All the time. Sheep usually just wears a hat or a fake moustache, while General Specific and his men usually just puts their disguises on top of their uniforms.
  • Parody Commercial: A frequent gag on the show.
  • Parrot Expo-what?: A plot twist (both Sheep and General Specific lose the mayoral election to a talking ham sandwich) leads to a long chain of characters going "Hubba-whah?"
  • Punny Name:
    • General Specific, Major Minor, Private Public, Private Public's father - General Public.
    • Can't forget Far Mer John, Lady Richington, Ben Plotz, Lisa Rentel, and of course, Sheep himself.
    • But wait, there's more! Major Appliance, Major Pain, Major Panic, Major Exclamation, Major Disaster, Major Doofus, Major Television Event, Major Minor, General Lee Outrageous, General Foods, General Hospital, General Motors, General Assembly, General Anesthesia, General Interest, General Whatever, General Electric, General Dentistry, General Practice, Private Party, Major League Ball, Corporal Ethereal, General Lee Speaking, Major Embarrassment, Private Thoughts, Private Lessons and Major Historical Figure.
    • You already said Major Minor, twice...
    • Count To Ten. Okay - one, two, three, four...
  • Put on a Bus: Lampshaded with the X-agent. "You're needed in Toledo... and no, this is not a convenient excuse to get you off the show."
  • Rattling Off Legal" One Oxymoron sketch had a fake contest and... well the contest rules and details weren't so much as rattling off so much as rambling. Look for yourself
  • Retcon: In the pilot episode, it is revealed that Farmer John was named Farmer because he loved farming so much - other character even acknowledge throughout the rest of the pilot how odd it is that Farmer would be someone's name. In a skit in the actual series, however, we see Mr. and Mrs. John giving his first name as Far (because Mrs. John wanted him to go far in life) and his middle name as Mer (because Mr. John wanted to name him after his beloved Aunt Mer) - to wit: Far Mer John.
  • Running Gag:
    • "Great Scott!" "Yes?" Subverted only once when he was sick.
    • "We used the Plot Device." "Hello."
    • "HOLD THE PHONE!" *cut to Lisa Rentel holding a phone*
  • Short Runner: This show seemed to suffer the same fate as Mike, Lu & Og - despite being popular with viewers, it apparently wasn't popular enough to merit any further seasons after two, when most cable cartoons last for at least four.
  • Shout-Out: When Lisa Rentel finally gets Sheep as a pet, she treats him like a dog. An obligatory reference to Snoopy is made with Sheep's new doghouse.
    • He's not mad, he's an ANGRY scientist!
    • The pilot ends with the anticlimax of General Specific, Private Public, and Farmer John getting arrested just before they are about to capture Sheep for beating up the seemingly inconsequential Little Bo Peep character, similar to the end of Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the main cast are all arrested just before the final battle for killing the seemingly inconsequential Historian character.
    • "What's this? Some kind of Planet of the Sheep? Oh no! It's Earth! In the future! Oh, darn you! Darn you all to heck!"
    • In the first episode, the sheep-tracking device blows up, and a man one degree away from actually being Scotty is seen working on it.
    Guy: "I'm workin' as fast as I can, but I needs more dilithium crystals ta stabilize the barrier ion field mechanism!"
    Gen. Specific: "You don't know what you're doing, do you?"
    Guy: (stares, then slumps sadly) "...no."
  • Something Completely Different: Every episode ends with a rant from the Ranting Swede, except one that didn't. "Due to a scheduling conflict, we now present The Ranting Norwegian..."
  • Soul-Powered Engine: Oxymoron Batteries, that suck the energy right out of the users soul, leaving them as zombie-like dried husks. Their flashlights shine very brightly though.
  • Spinoff Babies: Parodied in a fake commercial for Secret Military Organization Babies, a fictional spin off wherein General Specific, Private Public, and the Angry Scientist were babies.
  • Status Quo Is God: In the one episode where the secret military organization actually succeeds in kidnapping Sheep, General Specific declares that he will fire the entire group after installing Sheep into the ray gun the next day. In order to keep their jobs, Private Public, Angry Scientist, and the Plot Device break Sheep out that night. The next morning, General Specific thinks Sheep escaped on his own and things are back as they were.
  • Strictly Formula: Every episode has the same plot: General Specific gets another chance to capture Sheep. Chase Scenes occur as the secret military organization tries to grab Sheep. They succeed for a moment, but Sheep always escapes, and by the end of each episode, Sheep is always out of danger.
  • Superpowers For A Day: For one episode, General Specific acquires superpowers and becomes General Specificman.
  • Theme Naming: Nearly every single character's name is either a pun or an oxymoron.
  • They Just Dont Get It: General Specific, frequently.
  • Those Two Guys: The actors, the newscasters, the Sombrero Brothers...
  • Time Travel: One episode revolves around a time travel exercise bike. Poked fun at in the initial test run, where General Specific time traveled 5 seconds into the future...by just riding the bike for 5 seconds.
  • Timmy in a Well:
    "Are you trying to say that Timmy fell down a well?"
    "Sorry, wrong script..."
  • The Unintelligible:
    • Sheep can speak entire sentences in a single bleat.
    • Same with the X-agent, which makes his reports to the general somewhat problematic. Actually, this goes for all animal characters, who are shown as intelligent, but unable to talk, unlike most cartoons do. Parodied in one of the Oxymoron commercials where the mascot for a dog food brand is a normal dog, and thus can't say the brand's slogan, much to the annoyance of the spokesman.
  • Unmoving Plaid: General Lee Outrageous's gold outfit and Private Party's silver outfit.
  • Visual Pun: Far, far too many to list.
  • Wannabe Line: General Specific and his soldiers cannot get in the clubs his cousin enters. When Sheep got in, General Specific asked his cousin to held a party at his base to attract Sheep and told his cousin to tell the bouncers to let his friends in. However, the bouncer was told to let "General Specific's friends" but wasn't told to let "General Specific" in.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Completely Powerful Guy has a virtual laundry list of things he claims are his weaknesses, ranging from dynamite to pollen. Though it's implied he's just making it up to avoid having actually fight any crime.
  • We Care: "Bio-Technical Corporate Concern Limited Company. We have no idea what we sell."
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: General Specific wonders exactly this about Farmer John when he and Private Public meet him as they are looking for Sheep in the pilot.
  • Who Writes This Crap?!:
    • The Narrator has both wondered "Who writes this stuff?" and apologized for the writer not feeling well and doing a worse job than usual.
    • Whenever the writer is actually shown, he's a buffoon at a typewriter.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: One episode has Sheep missing his old friends from the farm, leading to him accepting an invitation to a reunion party there. When he returns, he finds that his old friends aren't as... charming as he remembers.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: General Specific threatens to fire the entire secret military organization once he activates the ray gun, now that they captured Sheep. It confirms that Sheep's capture is the sole purpose of the organization's existence.
  • You Mean "Xmas": Played with with Clearance Day. Its origins are clearly shown to be different from Christmas — a calendar loving shopkeeper founded it when he noticed a single week in the year that didn't have any holidays associated with it, implying that Christmas exists as a separate holiday - but it seems to have taken on all of Christmas' trappings in the public mind.