Western Animation: The Backyardigans
"We've got the whole wide world in our yard to explore..."
— Opening theme
A Canadian-American 3D CGI-animated series broadcast all over the world, mostly at Nick Jr.
The series debuted in 2004 and ended in 2010.
The cast are all young Funny Animal
friends: Pablo the penguin, Tyrone the moose, Uniqua the... ladybug, we think
, Tasha the hippo, and Austin the kangaroo. All five live in what appears to be a suburban cul-de-sac with a large common backyard area.
We open on one or more of the characters in the backyard playing "pretend", setting up the scenario for the viewer in a song and dance which also reveals the episode's musical genre. Then things segue into a sort of holodeck-style
fantasy — whether in the kids' imaginations or literally isn't quite clear — in which the backyard is transformed into the setting of the story and the characters dressed in appropriate costumes. From here the quest is treated entirely as if it were real...albeit clearly based on a child's logic...and frequently interrupted by musical asides.
Many episodes feature typical kiddie fantasy scenarios — cowboys, superheroes, pirates, explorers — but some are more sophisticated, and in later seasons especially several are full-on parodies of adult action-adventure: Bond
, Star Trek
, Indiana Jones
etc. Further blurring the line between reality and imagination
, the setting they create doesn't always stay within their control. Characters who weren't seen initiating the fantasy frequently show up within it, occasionally operating completely unbeknownst to the others, and the different plotlines collide in unexpected ways. The only absolute requirement is that a story contain no more than five characters, since no other speaking parts appear (excepting a couple one-offs in specials).
There seem to be no space or time limits while the fantasy is in progress, but in reality it never lasts longer than an afternoon, since it's always dispelled by somebody's stomach conveniently rumbling just after the adventure ends.
They race home for snacks, giggling, the story setting disappearing behind them as they go. The only indication that anything out of the ordinary just happened is Tyrone's comment: "That was an excellent _________ adventure, don't you think?"
Notable for its heavy use of original music (overseen by Lounge Lizards founder Evan Lurie), in a different genre — and usually not the one you're expecting — in each episode. The photorealistic dance moves that have likewise become a series trademark are originated by live-action dancers performing as each character to that show's music; according to the creators, this process also gives the characters much of their individual personality.
For some, this general idea sounds familiar
. However, the excellent music alone
, an expertly affectionate tribute to the genres in question, makes this show a standalone winner. It has also managed to pick up a sizeable Periphery Demographic
as one of the few current children's programs to work on multiple demographic levels simultaneously, attracting preschoolers who just love to dance to the fun sounds, elementary-schoolers who want creative storylines and adults who can appreciate the details of the musical scores and genre parodies. Refusing to use Fake Interactivity
or otherwise try to hammer home a lesson
, the show effectively celebrates intelligence and creativity without preaching about either one.
Thanks to its genre-hopping nature, this show tends to run through a lot of standard Examples, often in a single episode:
open/close all folders
- A Boy and His X: Austin and Boy (a dinosaur) in "Caveman's Best Friend", Tyrone and Molasses (a burro) in "Horsing Around", Pablo and Mitty (a bath mit) in "Robin Hood the Clean", and Uniqua with Sea Squirt (a dolphin) in "The Great Dolphin Race".
- Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: Pablo only wears a cap and bowtie.
- Accidental Art: Tyrone splattering paint on the brand new canvas in "Who Goes There?" results in this.
- Air Guitar: Tyrone does this during the song "Gotta Get the Job Done" in the episode "Monster Detectives".
- Airplane Arms: Uniqua does this near the beginning of "Fly Girl".
- Aliens Speaking English: The aliens in "Mission to Mars", "News Flash", "Ranch Hands from Outer Space" and "Los Galacticos".
- All Animals Are Dogs: The angriest clam in "The Legend of the Volcano Sisters", and Boy in "Caveman's Best Friend" act like dogs. So does the nice dragon in "The Tale of the Not-So-Nice Dragon."
- All Bikers Are Hells Angels: Subverted to hell and back with "Special Delivery" and its "Do-Gooders".
- All-CGI Cartoon
- Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: OK, Tyrone and Pablo get a pass, and Uniqua's a special case, but what's up with Austin and Tasha?
- American Gothic Couple: In "News Flash", the first shot of Pablo and Tyrone at their farm resembles the American Gothic painting, intentional or not.
- Anachronism Stew: Tons.
- A particularly ridiculous example is "Break Out!": the story takes place at a tower in a high fantasy world... that happens to have a Laser Hallway, security cameras, an elevator, and guards with radio headsets.
- Ancient Egypt: In "The Secret of the Nile".
- Ancient Greece: In "Match on Mt.Olympus". "Sinbad Sails Alone", oddly enough since the title character is from an entirely different mythology, features Medusa and a Siren.
- Angry Mob Song: "The Customer Is Always Right" and "Awesomely Bad Time" in "Swamp Creature" may probably count. Probably, because the mob here is made of only two characters.
- An Ice Person: Tasha as the Ice Lady in "The Secret of Snow".
- Animals Not to Scale
- Appease The Volcano Goddesses: "The Legend of the Volcano Sisters"
- Apologetic Attacker: Austin (on a kid's level) in "The Two Musketeers".
- Arabian Nights Days: In "Movers of Arabia".
- Art Evolution: The character designs were retooled a bit for the second season to up the cuddliness level, especially for Tasha and Austin. Here's a proof.
- Aside Glance: A lot. Especially for Uniqua and Tyrone. The most noticeable one is in "Castaways" when Uniqua — realizing that Tyrone and Pablo seriously don't realise that it was Austin who helped them — turns to look straight at the camera and then shrugs her shoulders. Earlier in the same ep, after the coconuts roll in, Uniqua side-glances at the audience for a split second and then says "Maybe we're not alone here after all".
- Pablo shoots the camera an "I don't believe this" look after Tasha takes credit for finding the Yellow Lotus Flower in "The Key to the Nile."
- Asteroid Thicket: Tyrone, Uniqua, Pablo, and Tasha all drive through one in "Cops and Robots" and sing a song about it.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Parodied in "Attack of the 50 Foot Worman".
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Pablo in "Pirate Camp" keeps getting distracted by the very shiny red boot.
- Bag of Holding: Ohhh boy. The ultimate example would probably be Uniqua and Pablo's trunk in "To the Center of the Earth", which could hold several inventions, a telescope, a hammer, a thermos, a lasso, a ladder, a bucket, a net, an umbrella, a sponge mop, a hat stand, a lamp, a rake, poles, skiis, a feather duster, a bike horn, wooden spoons, a large tuba, string, marshmallows, a spring, helium-filled balloons... do I need to go on?
- Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Uniqua and Austin. Uniqua wears pink polka dot overalls an Austin wears a striped T-shirt and blue khaki shorts.
- Tyrone and Pablo would also have costumes that apply to this trope 1/3 of the time.
- Beach Episode: The whole point of episodes such as "Surf's Up" or "Legend of the Volcano Sisters".
- Bedsheet Ghost: Tyrone becomes one in "It's Great to be a Ghost".
- Berserk Button: In "Best Clowns in Town". Don't make Ringmaster Tyrone miss his train. Just don't. Especially if you're a clown.
- Big "NO!": Oh yeah. Bad bot Tasha does this in "Cops and Robots", when Uniqua flips Pablo's back switch, which turns him into a good Bot. Also Pablo in "Blazing Paddles" and Tyrone in "Who Goes There?", "The Magic Skateboard" when the eponymous Magic Skateboard falls down the hill and "Monster Detectives" when Uniqua is about to be turned into a soccer monster.
- Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: Pablo in "The Yeti", Tyrone in "Fly Girl" and Austin and Tyrone in "The Action Elves Save Christmas Eve".
- Big Red Button: In "Legend of the Volcano Sisters", the title characters threaten to cause the eruption of the volcano by pressing such a button. The doorbells in various episodes could also count, since they are always red.
- The Blind Leading the Blind: In "The Yeti", Tasha claims to be a Frozen North expert, but she, Uniqua, and Tyrone all get lost while searching for Yeti Pablo.
- Blow You Away: Pirate Pablo has wind powers in "Super Team Awesome!".
- Bokukko: Uniqua, due to her wearing overalls and having manly roles in some episodes.
- Bo Diddley Beat: "The Flipper!" has this as its music genre, with the first song set to the tune of "Bo Diddley".
- Booby Trap: In "Secret Mission", and "The Snow Fort".
- Bookcase Passage: In "It's Great to be a Ghost", "Whodunit?", and "The Masked Retriever".
- Bottomless Pits: In "Fly Girl".
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the framing scenes, also inside the fantasy if the main character is alone.
- Brick Joke: The horse appearing when Tyrone opens the door in "Who Goes There?".
- The Butler Did It: Tyrone in "Whodunit?", although this could be considered subverted since he actually had permission to 'steal' Lady Tasha's necklace, because it was really just a mystery game.
- Busby Berkeley Number: "I Get Whatever I Want" from "Robot Rampage".
- Call-and-Response Song: Pretty much any song involving more than one character is this.
- Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Pancakes are called 'zum-zum' by aliens Zuniqua and Zablo in "Ranch Hands from Outer Space".
- Canada, Eh?: Tyrone, the moose character. Indicated during "Secret Mission" , in which he carries around a bottle of Spy Maple Syrup with an unmistakeable little red maple leaf on the label.
- Also, in "Race to the Tower of Power", the tower looks remarkably like the CN Tower, a famous landmark in Toronto.
- In "The Masked Retriever", Uniqua mentions Lake Erie.
- Captain's Log: Tasha has one in "Garbage Trek".
- Cartoon Creature: Ah, Uniqua. Word of God says that she is "her own unique species".
- Catch Phrase: Various, particularly Tyrone's "That certainly is convenient" when a Deus ex Machina appears, and Tasha's "Oh, for goodness' sakes" when...well, pretty much constantly, actually. Also, "Pablo... Pablo?... PABLO!". In addition, each episode has a setting-specific phrase, featured in the opening song, which also doubles as the show's closing...
- The Cavalry: Austin in "International Super Spy".
- Ceiling Cling: Austin can walk on the ceiling in "The Tale of the Mighty Knights". Also Tasha and Pablo in "Cops and Robots".
- Chekhov's Gun: Tyrone's "spy maple syrup" in "Secret Mission".
- Also, the thermos box in "Chichen-Itza Pizza".
- Christmas Special: "The Secret of Snow" and "The Action Elves Save Christmas Eve" episodes.
- Clark Kenting: Parodied in "Front Page News". Also played straight in "Le Master of Disguise", in which the mystery hinges around Great Detective Austin not twigging that his prey is a little blue penguin who never bothers to conceal his face.
- Clock Tower / Race Against the Clock: In "International Super Spy", and "Blazing Paddles".
- Clown Car: The clown car in "Best Clowns in Town".
- Color-Coded Characters: When the not-so-nice dragon is converted to good, he changes from an angry orange color to a pleasant green.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: The Tickle Table in "International Super Spy".
- Cool Plane: Uniqua's propeller biplane in "Fly Girl". It's pink!
- Cool Shades: Austin wears some at one point in "Surf's Up!", and so do Pablo and Tyrone in "Elephant on the Run!". They're also present during the "You Can Do It" song sequence in "Garbage Trek".
- The Comically Serious: Mr. Spiffy in "What's Bugging You?".
- Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: Tyrone and Pablo in "The Two Musketeers".
- Cultural Translation: The UK dub has a lot of this, especially when the snack is offered at the end of the episode.
- Curiosity Is a Crapshoot: Uniqua opening the box in "Movers of Arabia".
- Cute 'em Up
- Cute Monster Girl: Uniqua in "Monster Detectives" and "Scared of You", although the latter counts more since she actually looks like a monster rather than looking like herself in a torn soccer shirt.
- Cute Witch: Uniqua again, in "Escape from Fairy Tale Village".
G and H
- Gainaxing: Before you get any ideas, Tyrone's ears. Particularly noticeable in the first-season opening credits.
- GASP!: A Running Gag in "Blazing Paddles".
- Gender Separated Ensemble Episode: It happens a lot. Pablo and Tyrone are best friends, and the same goes for Uniqua and Tasha. They practically spell it out for us in "Quest for the Flying Rock".
- Genie in a Bottle: Austin in "Movers of Arabia".
- Genki Girl: Uniqua most of the time, and Tasha during "A Giant Problem".
- Gentle Giant: Tasha, literally, in "A Giant Problem".
- Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Whenever Pablo has a panic attack — which was almost once an episode in the first season; much less often in the following three — one of his friends has to calm him down by calling "Pablo...Pablo?...PABLO!"
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Let us just say that the producers are aware that a lot sails over their preschool audiences' heads.
- Ghost Song: The songs in "It's Great to be a Ghost".
- Gilligan Cut: In "What's Bugging You?", when Uniqua and Tyrone are about to make cupcakes:
Tyrone: We just have to make sure that we don't make a mess.
(Cuts to the clean bowl. After a quick clock-spin, the bowl and then the entire room is shown as messy.)
Tyrone: I think we may have made a mess...
- Girl Group: The music genre in "Break Out!", along with Wall of Sound.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: During the song "Fill It Up With Ice", from "The Secret of Snow", one of Tasha's lines is "What the heck's the matter?"
- Also in their cover of the Black Eyed Peas song "I Gotta Feeling", the line "Like oh my God" is changed to "Like oh my gosh".
- Gospel Revival Number: "Now Would Be a Good Time to Whistle" from "Caveman's Best Friend".
- Gratuitous Spanish: In "The Masked Retriever" and "Los Galacticos".
- Gratuitous Russian: In "Catch That Train".
- Greasy Spoon: "The Big Dipper Diner" is a Recycled IN SPACE version.
- Great Detective: Pablo in "Whodunit?".
- Green Lantern Ring: In "Flower Power", Flower Girl's titular powers seem to drift into this territory at times. At one point she makes a cage out of flowers. Possibly a necessary evil, though, as otherwise her powers would probably wind up in heart territory.
- Green Rocks: The flying rock in "The Quest for the Flying Rock" and the Crystal of Power in "Pablor and the Acorns".
- Green Thumb / Petal Power: Uniqua as Flower Girl in "Flower Power".
- Growling Gut: The majority of adventures conclude with one of the character's stomachs growling.
- Recycled Soundtrack: In all but two instances of this, the sound byte is consistent. "Scared Of You" deliberately uses a different version, because it's more intimidating.
- Grumpy Bear: Queen Uniqua in "A Giant Problem", as well as Pablo, Tasha, and Tyrone in "Fly Girl".
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: When Uniqua and Austin (as palace guards) are tricked by Musketeer Tasha in "The Two Musketeers", and guards Tyrone and Pablo in "The Masked Retriever".
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Pablo and Tyrone.
- Hammerspace: Central to the concept... especially the fantasies that happen in interstellar space.
- Haunted Castle: In "It's Great to be a Ghost", and "Scared of You". Also, technically "Monster Detectives".
- Heel-Face Turn: A common ending for any character portrayed as a villain.
- Hero Secret Service: The secret headquarters in "International Super Spy".
- Heroic Dolphin:The dolphin mounts in "The Great Dolphin Race".
- Highly-Visible Ninja: A running gag in "Samurai Pie", wherein Pablo keeps losing his balance, eventually falling on a pie tin and giving himself and Uniqua away.
- The High Queen: Tasha in "Knights are Brave and Strong", and Uniqua in "A Giant Problem".
- Historical In-Joke: There are a surprising number of them. The art in "Who Goes There?" and Tyrone's combed hair in "To the Center of the Earth" are just a few examples. At one point, Empress Tasha even says "Let us eat cake."
- Heroic Sacrifice: Austin - on a kid's-TV level - in "The Secret of Snow". He uses the Ice Lady's (Tasha's) ice machine to save Uniqua, Pablo, and Tyrone, even though he knows that it will get him in big trouble with Tasha.
- Hilarity Ensues: It does!
- Horny Vikings: In "Viking Voyage", Uniqua, Pablo, and Tyrone wear the classic helmets. Although Tyrone's horns are his real antlers.
- Horse of a Different Color: Boy the pet dinosaur in "Caveman's Best Friend", and the racing dolphins in "The Great Dolphin Race".
- Horse Racing: In "Horsing Around". "The Great Dolphin Race" is an obvious spoof of Seabiscuit.
- House Inspection: In "What's Bugging You?", Tasha's house is being inspected by Mr. Spiffy (Pablo) so she can join the Spiffy Club. She calls Uniqua and Tyrone from Best Pest Control to get rid of the solitary worman spoiling the perfection. Unfortunately, everything they do seems to attract even more wormans. And then Mr. Spiffy arrives... cue the Fawlty Towers Plot.
- Hula and Luaus: "Legend of the Volcano Sisters". That is all... well, except that a different set of Hawaiian cliches are laid on thick in "Surf's Up", which features the search for legendary Tiki Beach.
- Hulking Out: Pablo in the Fourth Season episode "The Flipper". After getting doused in 'space ooze' he transforms into The Flipper whenever he gets overexcited. And this is Pablo we're talking about, so...
- Hulk Speak: Pablo when he transforms into The Flipper mentioned in the previous trope, which is itself a parody of the Hulk. Tasha also does this in "Super Team Awesome!".
- Humongous Mecha: The giant robot in "Front Page News".
- Hyperspeed Escape: In "Garbage Trek", Tyrone and Pablo use "Zip Speed".
I to L
- "I Am Becoming" Song: If there's Character Development in an episode, there will likely be a song about it.
- I Am Not Left-Handed: From "International Super Spy":
Pablo: There's something you should know, Lady in Pink.
Lady in Pink: Oh? And what's that?
Pablo: I'm not ticklish.
- "I Am" Song: Expect one of these when a character introduces themselves and the role they're playing.
- If My Calculations Are Correct: Pablo during "Mission to Mars" and "Secret Mission".
- I Have Your Boss: In "International Super Spy", this was done in the complete 1-7 sequence: 1. Boss (Tasha) is kidnapped. 2. Villain (Uniqua) calls up hero (Pablo) and says "I've got your boss". 3. Tasha yells "Don't worry about me! I can take it!" 4. Uniqua tells Pablo that if he doesn't obey orders, then she will tickle Tasha. 5. Pablo must deliver the secret containers. 6. Pablo succeeds in calling a friend (Austin), who in turn finds out what's going on and swings into action to help... sort of. 7. Eventually, Tasha is released... because Pablo isn't ticklish.
- Imagine Spot: In "Elephant on the Run", one of the songs takes place in and out of Uniqua's fantasy of having an elephant for a pet.
- Impossible Thief: Austin the "Grabbin' Goblin", in "The Tale of the Mighty Knights", was able to grab Uniqua and Tyrone's helmets, shields, and finally flashlights...while they were still using them!
- Incredible Shrinking Man: Austin, and later on, Pablo and Tyrone get shrunk in "Race to the Tower of Power". Tasha gets her turn in "The Big Dipper Diner".
- Inevitable Waterfall: Oh yeah. "Polka Palace Party", "Catch that Butterfly", "The Secret of Snow", "Chichen-Itza Pizza", and "The Tale of the Mighty Knights" are just a few examples.
- Insane Troll Logic: Standard and unapologetic — this being a show based around little kids playing pretend, after all. From "To the Center of the Earth":
Uniqua: Tyrone, your penny has fallen into your sandbox, here. (Pulls out a diagram of the Earth's inside and points to the Earth's crust.)
Pablo: And has fallen all the way to the center of the Earth, here. (Points to the Earth's core.)
- Insecurity Camera: In "International Super Spy".
- Inspector Javert: Inspector Austin of the Paris Police in "Le Master of Disguise".
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: In "The Tale of the Mighty Knights", its sequel "The Tale of the Not-So-Nice Dragon", and "Dragon Express".
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Mecha: The Giant Robot in "Front Page News".
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: In "Samurai Pie".
- Instant Costume Change: Tyrone and Pablo do this near the end of "Race to the Tower of Power", Uniqua in "The Masked Retriever", Tasha in "Front Page News", and Pablo again in "Le Master of Disguise".
- Intrepid Reporter: Tasha in "Front Page News", and Uniqua in "Newsflash".
- Introdump: During the opening song. "Hi, I'm Pablo." "My name's Tyrone..." And so on and so forth.
- Iris Out
- Ironic Echo Cut: An interesting not-quite-a-cut variant in "Break Out!":
Tasha: They'll never see us on the secret staircase.
(Camera zooms out, revealing that Tyrone is watching them on the security monitor)
Tyrone: I see them on the secret staircase!
- It Has Been an Honor: Pablo in "Who Goes There?".
- It's Always Spring: In the titular backyard. "The Secret of Snow" and "The Action Elves Save Christmas Eve" don't count, for obvious reasons.
- It's a Small World After All: In "Polka Palace Party", Tyrone, Uniqua, Pablo, and Austin meet up and then note how they all happen to be cowboys/cowgirls, they all happen to like the same kind of music, and that they all happen to be on their way to Cheyenne.
- It's Probably Nothing: Tyrone (as a guard) in "The Masked Retriever".
- "I Want" Song: Uniqua and Pablo have one in "The Great Dolphin Race".
- The Jeeves: Tyrone in "Whodunit?", he even has his hair specially combed like Jeeves' for that episode. Also Pablo in "Catch That Train" — so utterly utterly devoted to having everything Czar Tyrone needs three seconds before he wants it.
- The Juggernaut: In "Chichen-Itza Pizza", the boulder chasing Tasha and Uniqua.
- Jump, I'll Catch You!: In "Pirate Treasure", the other characters say this to Pablo as he hobbles across a log with his peg leg.
- Jump Physics: In "Pirate Camp", Uniqua and Pablo are launched into the air using only two planks and some crates.
- Jump the Shark: Spoofed in "Save the Day" when Tyrone jumps over a sea of sharks on a jet ski to save Tasha.
- Just Trying to Help: Pablo in "Sinbad Sails Alone".
- Kangaroos Represent Australia: Austin.
- Knighting: In "Knights are Brave and Strong".
- Knight in Shining Armor: Uniqua and Tyrone in "The Tale if the Mighty Knights", and "Knights are Brave and Strong".
- Lady in Red: Spoofed in "International Super Spy", with Uniqua as the Lady in Pink.
- Lame Rhyme Dodge: Austin in "The Two Musketeers" does several of these without the rhyme.
- Laser Hallway: In "Secret Mission" and "Break Out!".
- Lava Pit: In "The Tale of the Mighty Knights" and "The Legend of the Volcano Sisters".
- Leitmotif: In season one, Pablo had his own panic attack tune.
- Lightning Can Do Anything: In "Match on Mt. Olympus", Austin, the God of Laughter, can shoot lightning from his hands that makes his victim laugh uncontrollably.
- Lightning Reveal: In "Scared of You".
- Limited Wardrobe: Aside from the thematic costumes they wear during the fantasies, their outfits never change.
M to O
P to R
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Pablo, in The Master of Disguise. All he does is change his clothing, but to the other characters his disguise is perfect.
- Pantsless Males, Fully-Dressed Females: Tyrone and Pablo don't always wear pants, although Austin always does. Uniqua and Tasha are also fully dressed.
- Parental Bonus: Deliberate, and clever.
- "I don't make the weather. I just report it."
- Pilot Episode: "Fly Girl", if you mean literally. The actual pilot is "Pirate Treasure".
- Pirate: "Pirate Treasure" and "Pirate Camp". Pablo also played a rather grumpy pirate in "Fly Girl", and a not-so-grumpy superhero pirate in "Super Team Awesome".
- Pirate Booty: The diamond in "Pirate Treasure", and Captain Red Boots' boot (plus a pile of gold) in "Pirate Camp".
- Planet of Steves: During "Mission to Mars", the Couch Gag phrase is "Boinga", which can mean nearly anything. As does "Ugh" during "Cave Party".
- Plot Tailored to the Party: In "For the Love of Socks", every worker gets their moment to shine. It's easy to tell because their turns come in exactly the same order as they do in the assembly line. Except for Foreman Tasha; despite being at the beginning of the line, her moment's at the very end.
- Poke the Poodle: Enforced. The Moral Guardians aren't about to let preschool characters do anything genuinely evil.
- Police Are Useless: Officer Pablo justifies this in "Caveman's Best Friend".
- Poor Communication Kills: A handful of episode plots are driven by this. Examples include "The Snow Fort", "The Funnyman Boogeyman", and "The Big Dipper Diner".
- Power Glows: In "The Magic Skateboard," Tyrone finds the magic skateboard because it glows. The Crystal of Power in "Pablor and the Acorns" also glows.
- The Power of
Rock a lot of musical genres.
- The Quiet One: Once again, Austin.
- Recurring Character: The small martian from "Mission to Mars". One appears at the end of "News Flash", three appear at the end of "Los Galacticos" and two of them are major characters in "The Big Dipper Diner."
- Record Needle Scratch: In "Blazing Paddles". The exciting background music suddenly screeches to a halt when Pablo asks "Uh...when is high noon?".
- Red Herring: In "Whodunit?", Austin leaves the manor saying that he has to go "feed his cat", looking very guilty indeed.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Inverted with Pablo and Tyrone. Pablo is blue and panicked frequently in the first season. Tyrone is orange, but more level-headed and laidback.
- Rhymes on a Dime: Austin as the Greek poet Austicles in "Who Goes There?".
- Riddle of the Sphinx: In "The Secret of the Nile", Tasha has to give Sphinx Uniqua three gifts before Uniqua will tell her the secret of the Nile. Turns out it's just saying please and thank you.
- Robe and Wizard Hat: Tyrone and Pablo in "A Giant Problem".
- Robin Hood: Pablo, as the title character in "Robin Hood the Clean".
- Robinsonade: The episode "Castaways".
- Robot Buddy: Rover in "Mission to Mars", as well as all of the robots in "Robot Rampage" before they went haywire.
- Rule of Cute: Not at all overplayed, but there nonetheless (they do have plushies to sell, after all).
- Rule of Three: Nearly every episode.
- Running Gag: Pablo's panic attacks.
S and T
- Scout Out: The Acorn Scouts in "Pablor and the Acorns".
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: While on a pizza delivery in "Chichen-Itza Pizza," Tasha decides to quit the job after several Temple of Doom disasters, though she does so in true Backyardigans style - with a flashy college fight song.
- Sea Monster: A playful one appears in "The Amazing Splashinis".
- Sequel Episode: "Tale of the Not-So-Nice Dragon" is one for the season three special "Tale of the Mighty Knights".
- Sesame Street Cred: Alicia Keys, for voicing and singing the mama alien in "Mission to Mars", Cyndi Lauper for singing in "International Super Spy," and Adam Pascal for being a narrator and singer in "Tale of the Mighty Knights". Also, Conan O'Brian as Santa Claus in "The Action Elves Save Christmas Eve"!
- Shave And A Haircut: How Uniqua, Tyrone, and Pablo get Austin's attention in "Polka Palace Party". Austin drums out the "two bits" part himself.
- The Sheriff: Uniqua, in "Blazing Paddles".
- Shoe Phone: Pablo's hat-phone in "International Super Spy".
- Shown Their Work: You can tell that the "Caveman's Best Friend" episode takes place in the Triassic period because of the tar puddles and the fern plants.
- Shrinking Violet: Austin at first. He opens up later.
- Shrug Take: Mr. Spiffy's (Pablo) reaction to the wormans in "What's Bugging You?".
- Skyward Scream: CLOOOOOWNS! (Complete with echo)
- The Smart Guy: Austin, especially during "Race Around the World" and "Mission to Mars". Uniqua sometimes also fills this role, while Pablo is usually used to parody/subvert it.
- Smurfing: Almost everything on Mars is 'Boinga'. In case you hadn't heard.
- Sneeze of Doom: Uniqua (caused by dust while hiding from the Soccer Monster) in "Monster Detectives", and Austin (caused by flowers whlie hiding from Tyrone in a painting) in "Who Goes There?".
- Soft Glass: The skylight Tasha and Uniqua escape through in "Break Out!". It falls to pieces on contact, without even scratching their clothes.
- Space Police: Officer Uniqua and Sergeant Tyrone in "Cops and Robots", as well as Officers Tyrone and Tasha in "The Big Dipper Diner".
- Special Edition Title: Each double-length episode has one with the theme music in the style of the episode's genre.
- Special Effects Evolution: You only start to see difficult weather effects (like rain and hailstorms) in season three.
- Speech-Impaired Animal: The wormans in their first two appearances.
- Spin Attack: Pablo's "Bandit Slam It" move in "Blazing Paddles".
- Spin to Deflect Stuff: Uniqua does this in "Blazing Paddles" during the song "I Must Be Ready".
- Spit Take: Uniqua does this in "Catch that Butterfly", after they've fallen off a waterfall.
- Split-Screen Phone Call: Uniqua and Tyrone have this in "Movers of Arabia".
- Spiritual Successor: Is one to Muppet Babies and Rugrats, and arguably has one in Bubble Guppies, created by some of the same staff.
- The Stoic: Austin in the Star Trek parody episode "Garbage Trek". A clear instance of this is when the U.S.S. Collector is about to be sucked by the black hole; Uniqua and Tasha scream for their lives while he remains silent like he's deep in thought or something.
- Storybook Episode: "Knights are Brave and Strong", "A Giant Problem", "Tale of the Mighty Knights", and "Escape from Fairy Tale Village".
- Spooky Painting: Spoofed with Pablo in "It's Great to be a Ghost".
- Stealth Pun: Austin and Rover (namechecking the Austin Rover car) in "Mission to Mars", and the fact that purple Austin starts out as a Shrinking Violet.
- Stout Strength: Tasha, specifically from the second season onwards. An example is in "Swamp Creature", where she pulls Pablo out of the water by his snorkel with one hand. Just look at her arms; she's a muscular little thing.
- Straight Man: Usually played by Tyrone with Pablo as his comic foil.
- Strapped to an Operating Table: In "International Super Spy", Tyrone (accidentally), Tasha, Pablo, and Austin are strapped to a Tickle Table.
- Streaming Stars: Seen in "Cops and Robots" and "Garbage Trek".
- Super Cell Reception: In "Mission to Mars", a martian from Mars is able to phone Tyrone and Tasha using a cellphone.
- Superhero Episode: Four: "Race to the Tower of Power", "Front Page News", "Flower Power" and "Super Team Awesome".
- Superheroes Wear Capes: Tasha has one as Super Snap in "Front Page News" and Tyrone gets one in "Super Team Awesome!".
- Super Speed: Tasha as Super Snap in "Front Page News", Uniqua as The Pink Fury in "Blazing Paddles", and Pablo in "Legend of the Volcano Sisters".
- Super Strength: Tyrone in "The Legend of the Volcano Sisters"; Uniqua as Bug Girl in "Front Page News" and as Strong Blossom in "Super Team Awesome"; Pablo as Tarzan the Very Strong in "Heart of the Jungle".
- Swiper, No Swiping!: While you can't stop the Grabbin' Goblin from taking your stuff just by asking, he will generally give it back if you ask nicely... most of the time.
- Sword Fight: The first episode "Pirate Treasure", had Austin and Tyrone having a sword fight using their telescopes. In "The Two Musketeers", it gets better with Uniqua and Austin against Pablo, Tyrone, and Tasha with cool parring moves like a Blade Lock, and Sword over Head... though their swords are made of balloons.
- Take Over the World: Several episodes have characters wanting this, in particular "Race to the Tower of Power".
- Take Your Time: In "Sinbad Sails Alone", Tyrone's ship is about to literally fall off the edge of the world within a couple of seconds. Tyrone has gotten his foot caught on a rope, making Pablo their only hope. Pablo just has to turn the wheel which drops the anchor of the ship, but it takes a very long time for him to do this. It seemed like every time the camera cut to show how close the ship was to falling, the ship always seemed be at the same distance, even though it was moving.
- Talking Animal: All five of the characters, albeit this is almost never referenced (creating some rather odd visuals, as when Austin the kangaroo is shown running).
- Talking Pest: The wormans in "What's Bugging You?".
- Tarzan: In "The Heart of the Jungle".
- Temple of Doom: Several in "Chichen-Itza Pizza".
- Tempting Fate: In the episodes "Follow that Butterfly" and "Chichen-Itza Pizza", the question "How hard could it be?" gets asked just before things go to hell.
- Pablo has a bad habit of this in "For the Love of Socks". It gets lampshaded after the third time, and he defies it afterwards.
- Team Shot
- Ten Paces and Turn: Tasha, Uniqua, and Austin used this as a visual joke in "The Two Musketeers", when they are having, mind you, a politeness duel.
- Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Played very straight with Tasha's dress, Pablo's bowtie, Uniqua's piiiinkness — and, more subtly, Tyrone's antlers.
- Uniqua is a subversion: she wears overalls and also lacks eyelashes. Some viewers even mistook her for a boy. That is, until some of her girlier roles in the later seasons, and until those viewers realized she was pink.
- That Makes Me Feel Angry: From "Best Clowns in Town":
: I am so mad
! You made me miss my train
! I have a circus to lead tonight in Big City, but I can't be
there because of... CLOOOOOOOOOWNS
- That's No Moon!: In "A Giant Problem", Tyrone and Pablo rest on a large red boulder which happens to be Tasha's giant foot. Tyrone does this again in "Escape from Fairytale Village", this time to Pablo's foot.
- Thematic Theme Tune: The theme song gradually climbs an octave in pitch, while the titular characters switch from regular clothes to fantasy gear and back.
- Third-Person Person: Austin as the Grabbin' Goblin in "The Tale of the Mighty Knights".
- This Is no Time to Panic: Pablo's frantic chant during his panic attacks. Subverted to some degree in The Flipper! where, instead of panicking, he's actually excited.
- Tickle Torture: In "International Super Spy", this is the Lady in Pink's method of punishment.
- Title Drop: Most of the time there's a song where one of the lines (or even the title) is a Title Drop. Also, several episodes have the characters telling each other to stop "Horsing Around", the title of one of the Season 2 episodes.
- Traintop Chase: Austin and Pablo do this in "Le Master of Disguise", the chase ending with a train tunnel escape.
- Treasure Map: In "Pirate Treasure", naturally.
- Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: Austin during "The Festival of Dirt" games in "Robin Hood the Clean". He even admits it!
- Turncoat: Austin in "The Secret of Snow" may count.
- Turned to Stone: Pablo and Tyrone are petrified by Tasha as Medusa in "Sinbad Sails Alone" in a literal game of "freeze tag". Later in said game, Pablo tricks Tasha into petrifying herself.
- Twitchy Eye: Tyrone has one in "Best Clowns in Town" right after the clowns make him miss his train the second time, and Pablo gets one every time he's about to become the Flipper in "The Flipper".
- Two Girls to a Team: Tasha and Uniqua
U and V
- Unlimited Wardrobe: Although it could be argued that their fantasy wardrobes are purely imaginary...
- The Unmasking: Tasha in "Front Page News" does this.
- Unrealistic Black Hole: In "Garbage Trek".
- The Un-Reveal: In "The Masked Retriever", none of the other characters find out about Uniqua's alter ego, with Austin's question of "Have you ever heard of the Masked Retriever?" left unanswered by the end-of-story stomach rumble.
- Unusual Euphemism: In "The Great Dolphin Race", the characters exclaim "Jumping jellyfish!", "Leaping lobsters!" and "Holy cowfish!". During "International Super Spy", the Lady in Pink (Uniqua) uses "Oh, for evil's sake!". There's also the episode title "For the Love of Socks!".
- Vapor Wear: During the first two-parter, Uniqua, as the Lady in Pink, clearly wears nothing under her jacket. She does wear her overalls at the ski slope, though.
- Verbal Tic: Tyrone has a habit of saying "certainly" when stating his opinion or agreeing with another character, though this is reduced a bit after the first season.
- Villain Song: Expect any episode with a "good versus evil" thematic to have at least one. Notable ones include "Lady In Pink", "Me and my shadows", and "I am professor bug"
- The Voice: The mystery voices near the end of the episodes "Secret Mission", and "It's Great to be a Ghost" do not come from any of the main characters. They're rumored to have come from Evan Lurie, one of the show's composers. There are also announcer voices near the beginning of "Newsflash" and throughout "The Tale of the Mighty Knights". The announcer in Mighty Knights, is in fact, the dragon, guest voiced by Adam Pascal, the actor who played Roger in RENT. Total Parent Service.
- Santa Claus in "The Action Elves Save Christmas Eve" is heard over the phone, but never seen.
- Voice with an Internet Connection: Austin as the princesses' magic (compact) mirror in "Break Out".
- Voluntary Shape Shifting: Pablo could turn into a bat in "Scared of You".
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