YMMV / The Berenstain Bears

  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: Trouble at School has the moral "It's never too late to correct a mistake." It's supposed to mean "even though you've put off correcting your errors, a new attempt to apologize and atone for them can still be appreciated", but it could instead be misread as "commit a crime and don't apologize for it until it's convenient, upon which all will be forgiven."
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Is Mama Bear really an example of "mother knows best" or does she come off as an arrogant jerkass who enjoys insulting and humiliating her husband?
  • Anvilicious: The entire reason for the series' existence is to impart moral lessons. The PBS Kids version seems to be a lot better about this.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Many people think that the "junk" food in ...and Too Much Junk Food looks so colorful and delicious, despite the Aesop of junk food being bad for you.
    • Quote from one Real Life child looking at the inside cover:
    "Mamma bear sad. Mamma Bear needs to eat some candy."
    • The sleepover party that got Sister Bear in trouble in one of the books (a chaotic mess where the cubs destroyed the house and that ended with the police being contacted) looks pretty awesome.
    • The Space Grizzlies toy line and movie from The Bad Dream that gives the kids nightmares, actually looked like a pretty cool franchise (sort of Monster in My Pocket meets Star Wars).
    • In ...Get the Gimmies, Brother and sister actually get some really cool knick knacks,
  • Ear Worm:
    • The 1980s animated series has one of the biggest ear worms period, incredibly catchy and amazingly country.
    • The PBS version certainly, which was performed by country music superstar Lee Ann Womack.
  • Epileptic Trees: There is a bizarre theory that those out there who recall the name as being "the Berenstein bears" are actually transplants from an alternate universe.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop:
    • The Bully really has a Family-Unfriendly Aesop if you think about it... Getting beaten up by a bully? Don't bother contacting the school authorities because Adults Are Useless. Get beaten up, and finally fight back? Then and only then will they get involved. Also, Sister gets off scot-free, only be given a slap on the wrist. How many kids in real life were just given a slap on the wrist for punching someone, even if it was in self-defense?
    • Bad Habit - Develop a bad habit, and your parents will bribe you with money to end it. May be the reason why the 2003 series adaption of this decided to avoid this.
    • The Aesop of The Berenstain Bears Clean House seems to be "if you have a bunch of old junk sitting around your house, stuff it in the attic and put off the cleaning until another day."
    • The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room, where the moral that not cleaning your room may cause your parents to throw out your toys seems to resonate more than the actual advantages Brother and Sister get from cleaning their room. Lampshaded by the opening poem: "When small bears forget to pick up, store and stash, some of their favorite things end up in the trash."
    • The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies also: The intended moral is that you can't always get what you want in life, and Brother and Sister spend the entire story selfishly screaming and fussing for treats and toys at every turn to the embarrassment of Mama and Papa. After they do this again to Gran and Gramps, they decide the best way to end the gimmies is to have the cubs decide ahead of time what treats they want before they go to the store. While they do also suggest that bad behavior means going home without treats, Brother and Sister still get what they want after an entire day of having embarrassed their parents.
    • Once again, the 2003 series turns the tables on this by instead showing how it is much better to give than to receive, with a story of how Papa once fussed over a toy truck as a boy only to give it to the son of a poor family when he saw how hard they had it. This helps Brother and Sister to get over their selfishness entirely.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: One episode of the 1980s cartoon involved Weasel McGreed creating a flower that traps bees in order to cut off the town's honey supply. This was before Colony Collapse Disorder became a major contemporary problem and the consequences are more disastrous than low honey supply.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The book version of The Slumber Party opens up with the story explaining that you never know who is on the phone until you answer it. Needless to say, that's no longer true with the rise of caller IDs. Though, then again, there's no guarantee that it's who the caller ID says it is...
  • I Am Not Shazam: The bears' surname is Bear, not Berenstain. And, despite the common mispronunciation, it's not "Bernstein", either. Or "Berenstein," for that matter.
  • Idiot Plot:
    • "The Berenstain Bears' Christmas Tree" could have lasted but a few minutes had Papa Bear gone to Gus instead of dragging Brother and Sister in search of the perfect tree.
    • "The Slumber Party" relies on every single parent in Bear Country being completely clueless for the sake of having a responsibility moral. Essentially, Lizzie hosts a sleepover and invites Sister alongside two of her friends, and that's supposed to be the plan before it quickly spirals out of control when the word of it spreads to all the other girls (and Too-Tall's gang) at school, which leads to a giant party full of uninvited guests. Considering how many other girls get involved, it's a bit of a stretch to think that not one of their parents would have bothered checking in with the Bruins about it (Yes, Mama and Papa acknowledge their mistake on this end, but that still leaves the issues with every single other parent too). On top of that, Lizzie's parents aren't even home for when it takes place; they just leave Lizzie with a babysitter and apparently had enough faith on her first sleepover that she would be perfectly safe and responsible, and that a babysitter would be all they would need to keep her under control. How were they even shocked it turned out as it did?
  • Jerkass Woobie:
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Mondegreen: "Horse T. Onion Fuck. I'm the mayor!" note 
  • Moral Event Horizon: Weasel McGreed crosses this in "Hot Air Election" where he straight-up tries to kill the Bear family by having them fall from a great height in a rigged hot-air balloon. Even Raffish Ralph thought his plan was too evil and refused to go along with it.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • Whenever the bears got angry in the books, their expressions could be quite unsettling.
    • When Mama Bear goes on a rampage, throwing the cubs' toys into a trash box, it's terrifying. Brother and Sister even start crying for help. It may be funny for some, however.
    • The lightning bolt Southern Star logo at the end of the 1980s credits. Many kids still recall how much of a Jump Scare that logo was.
    • The fact that a lighthearted series that's mainly about either simple Aesops like "don't lie" or goofy happenings that could happen in Real Life, has a book which starts out like a "be careful on the Internet" Aesop book, but somewhere in the middle is an actual bomb threat on one of the students' dad. Thankfully, the dad was okay, but still.
    • The animals in "The Christmas Tree", who attack Papa for attempting to cut down trees.
    • The Space Grizzlies toys from "Bad Dream". Also an In-Universe example, as they were enough to give Brother and Sister actual nightmares.
    • Sister's fear of strangers in "The Trouble With Strangers". The worst of it actually comes early in the episode of the 1988 series when Papa reads several newspaper articles to Sister regarding stranger danger. Among them is a headline reading Stranger Bothers Cub. Suddenly Bear Country doesn't look much safer than real life.
    • Two-Ton Grizzly. Now we know where Too-Tall gets it from, and the only thing that can actually scare him.
    • The bully Tuffy revealing to Sister after being hit that she has Abusive Parents and is terrified of what they'll do to her when they find out what she's been doing at school. Just the idea that anyone in Bear Country could be capable of bringing up their cubs this badly is an unsettling notion.
  • No Problem with Licensed Games: The Berenstain Bears Camping Adventure for the Sega Genesis stands out as a pretty solid and surprisingly well-designed and challenging Platform Game starring Brother and Sister Bear.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: The Game Boy Color game Extreme Sports With the Berenstain Bears. Lazy graphics, bad sound effects, and one-note and unmemorable sports minigames.
  • Strawman Has a Point:
    • The Berenstain Bears Show Some Respect has the cubs acting bratty by contradicting their parents and grandparents when the family is looking for a picnic spot. However, a lot of their comments are quite valid. For instance, Mama suggests a spot by the pond because that's where she and Papa had their first date. Brother responds with "That's was ages ago. It's full of mosquitoes now." He could have said it in a more polite manner but hsving picnics where there are lots of mosquitoes is dangerous.
    • In the animated special The Berenstain Bears' Easter Surprise, Boss Bunny retires from his role as the Easter Bunny. When he is confronted about it by his son Bill and Brother Bear, it's clear to see that he's too old and out of shape to continue the job. True all it takes to get him going is some fresh air but with everything he has to do to make Easter possible, it's still taxing.
  • The Scrappy: Lenny in the 2003 series. He often brags to Brother and Sister but has no problem pointing out the shortcomings of others.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • In "Lose A Friend", Sister's goldfish dies. It's really quite sad to see Sister so broken about its death.
    • In "Too Much Pressure", Mama becomes so overwhelmed with driving Brother and Sister to their activities that when the car stalls on their way to one, she breaks down and cries. Since Mama is generally the most level-headed of the family, this is very upsetting to see.
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