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Western Animation: The Itchy & Scratchy Show

"They fight! They bite!"

The Itchy & Scratchy Show is a Show Within a Show WITHIN a Show on The Simpsonsnote . It passes itself off as a cat and mouse chase, based on the old cartoon shorts of Tom and Jerry and Herman And Katnip (mostly the latter). The cartoons are usually aired during The Krusty the Klown Show.

The show was part of The Simpsons since the first season, and since Season 2 there have been episodes directly involving the company that makes the cartoons, establishing a rich history/backstory that starts in The Silent Age of Animation and hits many of the medium's high and low points in the West. They even got their own Video Game or two as well as a short comic book series (which crossed over with BartMan in the When Bongos Collide story).

This Show in a Show provides examples of:

  • Adolf Hitler: Makes a cameo in a 1940s style Wartime Cartoon.
    • steamrollers an immobile Scratchy in a King's Speech Parody.
  • Amusing Injuries: Especially to the people in "The Simpsons" universe. For us as viewers, the violence is horribly over-the-top and especially unfit for a children's audience.
  • Art Shift: The Itchy and Scratchy cartoon "Spherical on 34th Street" is animated differently.
    • The "Marge-approved" shorts aired during "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge" had a subtle art shift. Itchy and Scratchy's eyes are drawn with a noticeably "softer" feel.
    • The aforementioned wartime cartoon is animated in a style reminiscent of 1940s cartoons.
    • Itchy & Scratchy Meet Fritz the Cat has an R. Crumb-inspired look.
  • Ax-Crazy: Itchy. In fact, Itchy is a mixture of Ax Crazy and sociopath, sadistically killing Scratchy in various painful ways.
  • Asshole Victim: One Wartime Cartoon featuring them has them team up against Nazi Germany
  • Autocannibalism: In one short, Itchy (disguised as a restaurant employee) serves Scratchy his own belly. The unknowing Scratchy's attempt at eating it only results in the bits of it he swallows popping back out of a hole cut in it.
  • Black Comedy / Dead Baby Comedy
  • Bloody Hilarious
  • Butt Monkey: Scratchy.
  • Cat Stereotype: Scratchy plays the unlucky part of the black cat stereotype.
  • The Chew Toy: Scratchy
  • Comedic Sociopathy: In every episode, Itchy murders Scratchy in some horrible manner just for fun. Viewers in-story invariably find it hilarious.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Scratchy. Even the show's incarnation of God himself sides with Itchy killing him (and even sends him to burn in hell for the cream on top).
  • Creator's Pet: Poochie, In-Universe. After mountains of hype, his premiere episode is little more than a giant shill of why kids should like him.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Scratchy suffers one Once an Episode.
  • Darker and Edgier: In The Dark Age of Animation, I&S appeared in the adults-only animated feature Itchy & Scratchy Meet Fritz the Cat.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: There's often a Shout-Out to another film or cartoon series.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • In the show's history, early cartoons were fairly routine. In their first appearance in a Tracey Ullman-era short called "The Bart Simpson Show" Itchy places a firecracker in Scratchy's mouth; in their first series' appearance (Season 1's "There's No Disgrace Like Home"), the show is simply another "place a bomb in Itchy's mouth and watch the explosion" cartoon. Future cartoons would be more detailed.
    • Add to that in both cartoons, Scratchy actually started the feud chasing Itchy like a traditional cat and mouse cartoon. Episodes afterwards skipped the formalities and just started with Itchy brutalizing Scratchy for kicks.
    • In-universe, "Manhattan Madness", a cartoon created entirely by Chester J. Lampwick, only features Itchy and had him visiting Manhattan to attack people. "That Happy Cat", meanwhile, is a solo Scratchy effort by Roger Myers Sr. with no plot whatsoever. Then Myers stole Itchy and his formula and used them in "Steamboat Itchy", and the rest is history.
  • Enemy Mine: The duo brutalized Hitler in one war time cartoon (before Itchy double crossed Scratchy and decapitated him too). Another has them team up against an annoying blue haired squirrel berating their antics (see Take That).
  • Exposed Animal Bellybutton
  • Eye Scream: Often.
  • Fur and Loathing: Parodied. Itchy steals Scratchy's skin, fur and all. When Scratchy gets it back, and tries to put it back on, fur protesters beat him up for wearing his own fur.
  • Furry Female Mane: Many of the female Inexplicably Identical Individuals Itchies and Scratchies have this trait. All of the female Itchies ad Scratchies in "Downton Tabby" have human-style hair, but so do some of the male ones.
  • Game Show Appearance: Itchy and Scratchy appeared on an episode of The Springfield Squares.
  • Gorn
  • Hollywood Acid: Often employed. Always used to reduce Scratchy to a skeleton.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: A few episodes have Itchy actively cannibalizing Scratchy, whether by turning him into butter that Itchy puts on his toast, or by selling his internal organs to some hungry dogs.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: Many of the cartoons do this with both Itchy and Scratchy, including "Downton Tabby." The Inexplicably Identical Individuals of both can be either male or female.
  • Karma Houdini: Itchy, who never receives any punishment for his brutal and unprovoked attacks on Scratchy (except for one episode).
  • Lighter and Softer: After Marge's crusade to tone down the show's violence succeeded, the show went through a phase invoking this trope.
  • Moral Myopia: Itchy constantly abuses, torments, mutilates, and murders Scratchy and enjoys it all the while. But if someone else takes enjoyment out of watching Scratchy be in pain, he gets all up in arms.
  • The Movie: In-story, the show had a movie released in theaters and either had a sequel or rerelease at the start of The Simpsons Movie.
  • The Musical: In-story, the cartoon received a stage adaptation in the form of Stab-A-Lot, a parody of The Lion King.
  • Mr. Alt Disney: Itchy and Scratchy's inventornote , Roger Myers Sr, is a thinly disguised spoof of Walt Disney with his theme park and the urban legends surrounding his antisemitism and being cryogenically frozen after his death.
  • Nice Mice: Averted with Itchy.
  • Oh, Crap: Several shorts have Scratchy seeing his impending doom coming, and screaming in terror as he hopelessly tries to avoid it.
  • Older than Television: Older Than Radio, even. the Ur Example being honoured is George Herriman's newspaper cartoon dating from 1913, Krazy Kat, syndicated nationally and revolving around the titular Krazy, a cat who is forever on the receiving end of flying bricks from a sadistic mouse called Ignatz.
    • The concept may even be much, much, Older Than Steam: there are Egyptian drawings from 3,000 years ago showing mice enthroned as Pharoah receiving tribute from subservient cats. One drawing shows a mouse-Pharoah ordering the death of a cat-serf who has displeased him. Or her.
  • Overly-Long Tongue: Scratchy's isn't so much long as stretchy; at one point it gets tied to a rocket which reaches the moon before Scratchy even notices.
  • Pantsless Males, Fully-Dressed Females: In "Downton Tabby," the female Inexplicably Identical Individuals Scratchies are more fully dressed than the Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal male Scratchies. Inverted slightly with the Inexplicably Identical Individuals Itchies; both are fully dressed, but the female ones are barefoot while the male ones wear shoes.
  • Plagiarism: In "The Day The Violence Died" it turns out that the character Itchy wasn't thought up by Roger Myers Sr, but by Chester J. Lampwick.
  • Put on a Bus: Poochie. "I must go now, my planet needs me"
    • Bus Crash: "Poochie died on the way back to his home planet."
      • Though that doesn't stop him from showing up for Scratchy's funeral in another episode.
  • Remember the New Guy: Poochie. Didn't go without Lampshade Hanging, of course.
  • Re Tool: Into a Lighter and Softer show. It was changed back when Marge Simpson, who started the protests against the show's violence, had a wholly different opinion on Michelangelo's David (which was on a coast-to-coast tour of the United States at the time) from the rest of the protesters.
    • The first cartoon in 1928, "That Happy Cat" only showed Scratchy walking down the street and whistling. Unsurprisingly, it wasn't a success, and the series only caught on when Itchy and violence were added (read: stolen from Chester J. Lampwick).
  • Retraux: Itchy and Scratchy are obvious homages to the violent cartoons from The Golden Age of Animation like Tom and Jerry and Herman and Katnip.
  • Sadist: Itchy, who else?
  • Sadist Show
  • Screwy Squirrel: Oh, Itchy...
  • Shoo Out the New Guy: A character named "Poochie", voiced by Homer, was introduced, gelled horribly with the show, and was dumped hastily out of the show.
  • Shoot The Television: The short "Little Barbershop of Horrors", "written" by Abraham Simpson, ends with Scratchy's head (now just a skull) going through a ceiling and into Elvis Presley's television set. Elvis promptly produces a revolver and shoots Scratchy's skull through the TV.note 
    Elvis: Aww, this show ain't no good! *BANG!*
  • Shout-Out: Many, to various classic cartoons. A notable one is Itchy having the subtitle of The Lucky Mouse in his first, lost cartoon, referring of course to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
  • The Sociopath: Itchy.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Herman And Katnip, rather than Tom and Jerry.
  • Stock Sound Effects: At times during the early seasons, Scratchy's yells are very similar (if not outright exact) to Homer's.
  • Subverted Kids Show
  • Take That: In response to Marge Simpson's protests on the show, there was an episode featuring a squirrel with Marge's blue Beehive Hairdo trying to break off Itchy and Scratchy's fighting... only to get killed by them.
    • Also, the I&S cartoon at the beginning of The Simpsons Movie has Itchy nuking the moon with missiles; the most extreme option is listed as "accidental bombing", with "accidental" in quotation marks.
    • Roger Myers Sr is a very unflattering portrayal of Walt Disney. The backstory of the I&S studio is a mishmash of conspiracy theories about the Disney Company.
  • Team Rocket Wins: The 'lost' episode where Scrachy finally gets revenge on Itchy by running him down with a combine harvester.
    • A storyboarded episode had Itchy steal Scratchy's pie, so Scratchy threw him in a vat of acid. Unfortunately, this was during a massive censorship push, so if they went with Marge's suggestion, Itchy would have shared the pie. Which he stole.
    • "Burning Down The Mouse" is apparently the only aired episode where Scratchy wins, by blowing Itchy up with a large arsenal of explosives. Unfortunately, the viewers never get to see the end, because one of Homer's college roommates who are crashing at his house unplugs the TV and doesn't plug it back in until it's over, where the TV just turns back on in time to see a huge mushroom cloud and "The End" superimposed over the shot (followed by Krusty declaring that "They'll never let us air that again! Not in a million years!").
    • A Taste Of Defeat: Another episode still had Itchy kill Scratchy, but lost as well, having set up the prank for so long that when it's over the aged Itchy dies of a heart attack laughing too hard.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill
  • They Killed Kenny: Itchy brutally kills Scratchy in most episodes, but he's always back for the next one.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Scratchy.
  • Totally Radical: Parodied with Poochie, who is instantly reviled by Itchy & Scratchy fans.
  • Villain Protagonist: Itchy
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Scratchy continues to hang around with Itchy, regardless of the constant attacks.
  • Wartime Cartoon: In one episode, we see a clip of an untitled World War II-era short, where a very Tom and Jerry-esque Itchy and Scratchy team up to torment and kill Adolf Hitler. Immediately afterwards, Itchy turns on Scratchy and cuts his head off, joined by Franklin D. Roosevelt to kick the bodies.
    • Roger Myers, Sr.'s other wartime contribution, "Nazi Supermen are Our Superiors", was not as well received.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: An in-universe example.
  • White Gloves
  • William Telling: Itchy does it to Scratchy once. He hits the apple, but the arrow punctures a hole into the large tank of carbolic acid that Scratchy was standing right next to.
    • Doubles as another case of Hollywood Acid, since carbolic acid is a) solid at room temperature and b) not really all that acidic (it's technically an alcohol).

The SimpsonsWestern Animation of the 1990sSkeleton Warriors
The SimpsonsWesternAnimation/The SimpsonsThe Simpsons: Hit & Run
The SimpsonsWestern AnimationSit Down, Shut Up

alternative title(s): Itchy And Scratchy Show; The Itchy And Scratchy Show
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