An American cartoonist and writer, Theodor Seuss Geisel (March 2, 1904 September 24, 1991), more commonly known as Dr. Seuss (pronounced "soyss" like "voice," although he later accepted "sooss"), was famous for his 65 children's books.
Most of his work liberally uses rhyming schemes, illogical logic, fantastical buildings, nonsensical vocabulary, and very pretty illustrations. This, at the time, was fairly radical and the epitome of avant-garde, though not by today's standards. Seuss was a lifelong inhabitant of Springfield, Massachusetts, and drew inspiration from his surroundings; for instance, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street took place on a real life street. (The book's events occur on the intersection of Mulberry and Bliss Streets, which both exist. However, the real-world versions never cross.)
Besides his children's work, Seuss was a political cartoonist, most notably for the now-defunct magazine PM. He was a committed New Dealer and supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and liberal causes generally. On the less savory side, while he opposed anti-semitism and segregation, Seuss is also known for being quite racist towards Japanese in his WWII-era political cartoons (here's◊ an example). He later realized such work was inappropriate and felt horrible about it. He was against Jim Crow, even basing one book on getting over small differences (also dedicating Horton Hears a Who! to a Japanese friend). He would probably enjoy that hand-drawn, Animesque spoof in the 2008 Horton movie quite a lot!
Much of his work has been movie-fied, whether by animation or live-action. The only movie he himself made was The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T. He did collaborate with various directors (most famously, Chuck Jones) in adapting his stories for television, but again, those were TV specials, and not feature-length. When he passed away on September 24, 1991 due to oral cancer, the rights to all his stories and characters went to his widow, Audrey, and no adaptations could be made unless she approved it. After the dismal 2003 adaptation of The Cat in the Hat soured her for the casting of Mike Myers (whom she was strongly against) and the adult jokes that clashed with the family friendly nature of the books, she declared that any future film adaptations of Seuss books must be animated. Audrey herself died on December 19, 2018, at the age of 98.
There's also Seuss Landing, a portion of Universal's Islands of Adventure, which features rides, costumed characters and other attractions based on the books.
- And to Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937)
- The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins (1938)
- The King's Stilts (1939)
- The Seven Lady Godivas (1939)
- Horton Hatches the Egg (1940)
- McElligot's Pool (1947)
- Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose (1948)
- Bartholomew and the Oobleck (1949)
- If I Ran the Zoo (1950)
- Scrambled Eggs Super! (1953)
- Horton Hears a Who! (1954)
- On Beyond Zebra! (1955)
- If I Ran The Circus (1956)
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1957)
- The Cat in the Hat (1957)
- The Cat in the Hat Comes Back (1958)
- Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories (1958)
- Happy Birthday to You! (1959)
- One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (1959)
- Green Eggs and Ham (1960)
- The Sneetches and Other Stories (1961)
- Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book (1962)
- Dr. Seuss's ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book! (1963)
- Hop on Pop (1963)
- Fox in Socks (1965)
- I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew (1965)
- The Cat in the Hat Song Book (1967)
- The Foot Book (1968)
- I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today! and Other Stories (1969)
- My Book About ME (1970)
- I Can Draw It Myself (1970)
- Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?: Dr. Seuss's Book of Wonderful Noises! (1970)
- The Lorax (1971)
- Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! (1972)
- Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? (1973)
- The Shape of Me and Other Stuff (1973)
- There's a Wocket in My Pocket (1974)
- Great Day for Up! (1974)
- Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! (1975)
- The Cat's Quizzer (1976)
- I Can Read with My Eyes Shut! (1978)
- Oh Say Can You Say? (1979)
- Hunches in Bunches (1982)
- The Butter Battle Book (1984)
- You're Only Old Once! : A Book for Obsolete Children (1986)
- I Am NOT Going to Get Up Today! (1987)
- The Tough Coughs as he Ploughs the Dough (1987)
- Oh, the Places You'll Go! (1990)
- Ten Apples Up on Top! (1961)
- I Wish That I Had Duck Feet (1965)
- Come Over to My House (1966)
- The Eye Book (1968)
- I Can Write (1971)
- In a People House (1972)
- Wacky Wednesday (1974)
- The Many Mice of Mr. Brice a.k.a. The Pop-Up Mice of Mr. Brice (1974)
- Would You Rather Be a Bullfrog? (1975)
- Hooper Humperdink...? Not Him! (1976)
- Please Try to Remember the First of Octember! (1977)
- Maybe You Should Fly a Jet! Maybe You Should Be a Vet! (1980)
- The Tooth Book (1981)
- Because a Little Bug Went Ka-choo! (1975; this was the one written under the "Rosetta Stone" Pen Name)
- Private Snafu: Wrote for several of the shorts.
- Horton Hatches the Egg (1942): Merrie Melodies Adaptation Expansion of his story, directed by Bob Clampett.
- Gerald McBoing-Boing (1950): A short that he wrote for UPA productions.
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966): One of three animated special collaborations between Seuss and Chuck Jones.
- Horton Hears a Who (1970)
- The Cat in the Hat (1971)
- The Lorax (1972): Produced by Depatie-Freleng Enterprises.
- Dr. Seuss on the Loose (1973, included "The Sneetches," "The Zax," and "Green Eggs and Ham.")
- The Hoober Bloob Highway (1975)
- Halloween Is Grinch Night (1977)
- Pontoffel Pock, Where Are You? (1980)
- The Grinch Grinches The Cat In The Hat (1982)
- The Butter Battle Book (1989): Collaboration between Seuss and Ralph Bakshi. Seuss notably considered this the best adaptation of all his works.
- Our Job in Germany (1945)
- Your Job in Japan (1945)
- Design For Death (1947, an expansion of Your Job in Japan)(won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature)
- The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953; Seuss's only non-propaganda live-action film during his lifetime)
- In Search of Dr. Seuss (1994)
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (2000)
- The Cat in the Hat (2003)
- Seuss Landing at Universal's Islands of Adventure (1999)
Trope-based books include:
- I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham: The title is in the Trope Name, Sam-I-Am!
- Fantastic Racism: The Sneetches.
- Grass Is Greener: I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew.
- Green Aesop: The Lorax is a condemnation of short-sighted consumerism.
- The Grinch: How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Guess what's in the title here too?
- Silly Reason for War: The Butter Battle Book, a condemnation of the Cold War and Mutually-Assured Destruction.
- Sacred Hospitality / The Thing That Would Not Leave: Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose, in which the animals who take advantage of Thidwick's generous nature meet an unpleasant end.
Dr. Seuss and his books provide examples of:
- Adaptation Expansion: All of the feature films and most of the TV specials tend to add more material to the plot to keep from running too short.
- Animated Adaptation: There have been numerous animated works based on Seuss's books, including three feature films.
- Aerith and Bob: In The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins there is Bartholomew Cubbins, King Derwin, Mr. Snippets, Alrec and the Grand Duke Wilfred.
- An Aesop: Most books that aren't simple rhyming books contain one (notably The Lorax, The Butter Battle Book, Green Eggs and Ham, Oh, The Places You'll Go!, and Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?)
- Art Evolution: Illustrations of the earliest books, characters were not always originally depicted with "u" shaped pupils. In And to Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street, nearly every character, saved for a few non-humans, were, in fact, shown with Black Bead Eyes. They had sclerae in The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins but pupils were depicted round and normal. While certain characters had the u-shaped pupils early on, others still didn't. This, before finally settling on all characters depicted as such as would be the later known style.
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: The title characters of The Seven Lady Godivas are naked, but none of them are drawn with visible nipples or genitals.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Surprisingly, involving Horton in a long lost story, Horton And the Kwuggerbug, where a Kwuggerbug takes advantage of Horton's kindness, asking Horton to give him a lift to a beezelnut tree, with the promise of splitting half the nuts with him. The journey proves to be incredibly dangerous, and Horton is tempted to go back, but the Kwuggerbug reminds him that a deal's a deal and to keep going. When they finally get there, the Kwuggerbug ends up stiffing Horton by only giving him the shells, taking the good parts for himself. Enraged, Horton sneezes blowing the bug so far away, he's never able to return to the beezelnut tree again.
- Bittersweet Ending: A number of books, but The Sneetches is a prominent example. In the end, McBean successfully cons the sneetches out of all their money with his Star Machine gambit, leaving them penniless, but the experience teaches them how stupid and pointless racial discrimination is and learn to live as equals from that point on.
- Bowdlerise: In The Lorax, the Lorax's line, "I hear things are just as bad up in Lake Erie," was removed from the book in 1985 after two research associates from the Ohio Sea Grant Program wrote to Seuss about the clean-up of Lake Erie. However, the same line is still kept in the 1972 TV Animated Adaptation (it is spoken by one of the Humming Fish), even in the VHS and DVD releases.
- Cartoon Bug-Sprayer: An ad campaign drawn by Dr. Seuss for Flit brand insecticide featured people facing down improbable creatures with this style of sprayer, with one character always exclaiming the slogan, "Quick, Henry, the Flit!" The ads were wildly successful and doubtless contributed to the Flit-style bug sprayer persisting as a stock cartoon image long after the technology fell out of use in real life.
- Casts No Shadow: Harry Haddow in Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?He thinks that, perhaps, something's wrong with his Gizz,
and I think that, by golly, there probably is.
- Catchphrase: Horton the Elephant has two: "A person is a person, no matter how small." (Horton Hears A Who) and "I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful 100%." (Horton Hatches the Egg).
- Cerebus Syndrome: Sometime around the late '60s/early '70s, Seuss began writing darker stories like I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew and, eventually, The Lorax, which featured more abundantly heavy themes than his previous books and not always the happiest of endings. Not coincidentally, this began after his first wife committed suicide.
- Child Hater: Ironically for a children's author, he could not stand children himself. He never had any children and after his marriage to his second wife, she had her children sent off to boarding school so he wouldn't have to deal with them.
- Cool Old Guy: The fellow who the narrator of Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? meets in the Desert of Drize, who, well, tells him how lucky he is.
- Conjoined Twins: The Brothers Ba-zoo in Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? are conjoined by their hair.
- This concept appeared earlier in Dr. Seuss's work, as well.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Droon is forced to eat nothing but Nizzards at the end of The King's Stilts.
- Cosmic Horror Story: Bartholomew and the Oobleck, if you think about it. A greedy person bored with ordinary life orders his magicians to summon new weather, which results in the arrival of an ambiguous, borderline-unstoppable phenomenon of potentially apocalyptic proportions. The only thing holding it back is the presence of An Aesop about saying sorry, and even then the closing lines about the current weather being the only things that ever should be is subtly sinister.
- Creator Cameo: In There's a Wocket in My Pocket, the Bofa on the Sofa (who the narrator wishes wasn't there) looks very Ted Geisel-ish.
- Creator Provincialism: Seuss lived in Springfield, Massachusetts for the entirety of his youth and drew inspiration from his surroundings. Springfield is mentioned in several of his works (most notably Mulberry Street) and some of his illustrations are surreal versions of real places in town. Today the Springfield Museums have, in a courtyard behind the city's central library building, an outdoor shrine to him that includes statues of him and various characters, as well as a giant book statue containing the entire text of Oh, The Places You'll Go. There is also a Seuss museum, which is largely a childrens museum but has sections in the upper floors with his papers and other work... though not his World War Two cartoons.
- Darker and Edgier:
- The Lorax is this compared to the other books. It teaches about the consequences of not acknowledging natural resources until they are gone.
- Even more so, The Butter Battle Book is a parable about the nuclear arms race between the US and the USSR, represented by two tribes living on opposite sides of a wall analogous to the Berlin Wall, concluding with a Bolivian Army Ending as the two sides are about to drop their bombs.
- His work as a political cartoonist during World War Two was this, dealing with real world issues about supporting the Soviet Union against the Nazis and supporting Japanese internment. Seuss would later regret the latter.
- Dark Is Not Evil / Light Is Not Good: I Can Read With My Eyes Shut gives us Jake the Pillow Snake and Foo-Foo the Snoo. One is a snake and the other is named Foo-Foo. Guess which one looks friendly and which one looks menacing.
I speak for the trees! Let 'em grow, let 'em grow!
- Sam, who keeps trying to get his friend to try green eggs and ham after being rejected countless times.
- Horton is always faithful, one hundred percent.
- The Lorax gets a speech that illustrates this well in his book's 1970's Animated Adaptation.
But nobody listens too much, don't you know?
I speak for the trees, and I'll yell and I'll shout
For the fine things on Earth that are on their way out!
They say I'm old-fashioned, and live in the past,
But sometimes I think progress is progressing too fast!
They say I'm a fool to oppose things like these,
But I'm going to continue to speak for the trees!
- This Trope is portrayed negatively in "The Zax," from The Sneetches and Other Stories; both Zax are too stubborn to step aside and let the other pass, and simply stand there for years, refusing to budge, until an entire city is built around them!
- Didn't Think This Through: From Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?, there's poor Herbie Hart, who has taken his throm-dib-u-lator apart, and is trying to put it together.
- Downer Ending: The Lorax ends with the forest gone, the animals gone, and the Lorax gone. Only the Once-ler remains, who regrets his actions. However, there is one ray of hope: UNLESS. If the boy can regrow the forest and protect it, maybe the Lorax will come back.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Some of his earliest children's books, like The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins and The King's Stilts, were written in prose rather than in rhyme. (This was also true of the sequel to the former, Bartholomew and the Oobleck, although it was grandfathered in from its predecessor, since by the time the book was written, he had consistently switched to rhyme).
- Evil Chancellor: Droon of The King's Stilts. Well, more of a Jerkass Chancellor anyway.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Pants-Eating Plants from Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?
- Extreme Omnivore: Again, the Pants-Eating Plants.
- Fantastic Flora: Much of his visual work incorporates bizarre-looking trees and shrubs, many of them inspired by Real Life exotic botanical species grown at the San Diego Zoo. Seuss spent much of his time there after settling in La Jolla.
- Fantastic Racism: The Sneetches is a thinly disguised allegory on racism (or classism). It describes a conflict between two subgroups of the titular Sneetches, a race of bird-like humanoids. One group has stars on their bellies, and thinks themselves superior because of it, while the other group doesn't. The Aesop comes after a huckster with the unlikely name of "Sylvester McMonkey McBean" convinces those without stars to pay him to have stars added to their bodies. Then it's no longer so special, since everyone has stars, but McBean has a machine to remove them as well, for a modest consideration. The two groups proceed to repeatedly alter who has stars and who doesn't, along with which of the two conditions are more desirable. By the time McBean packs up his operation and leaves, they don't remember who had stars to begin with and who didn't, and thus abandon their prejudices as worthless.
- Get Out!:
"But it's MINE!" screamed the bird, when she heard the egg crack.
- This is shouted by Mayzie in "Horton Hatches the Egg" when, after allowing Horton to sit on her egg because she's too lazy for that responsibility, the egg of his starts hatching:
(The work was all done. Now she wanted it back.)
"It's MY egg!" she sputtered. "You stole it from me!
Get off of my nest and get out of my tree!"
- Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now! is an entire story telling the main character this.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Attempted. In his original draft of Hop on Pop, he tried to sneak "contraceptive" into the words the kid lists off that he's learning about. However, his editor caught it and made him change it.
- The Great Politics Mess-Up: The animated version of The Butter Battle Book, a Cold War allegory with a Berlin Wall expy, aired four days after the real Berlin Wall fell.
- Happy Birthday to You!: The Mandolin plays this briefly at the end of The Hoober-Bloob Highway.
- Hard Work Hardly Works: The old man in Did I Ever Tell You how Lucky You Are tells the kid about a lot of folks who work hard at crummy jobs. Ali Sard has to mow "quick-growing grass" in his stingy uncle's backyard, and paint flagpoles on Sundays to get by. Mr. Potter is an i-crosser-t-dotter who dots i's and crosses t's at an I and T factory. Then there's Professor DeBreeze who has spent 32 years trying to teach Irish ducks how to speak Jivanese. The worst example is probably the Hauch-Hauchers in Hauch-Hauch. One was told to watch a bee, but didn't do well, so another was told to watch him. Then he didn't do so well, so another Haucher had to watch him, and so on, until all of them were watching each other.
- History Repeats: Very subtly done in the title tale of Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories. After Yertle is dethroned and sent tumbling down into the swamp mud, the turtles that had previously made up his throne are swimming happily in the pond, with their eyes closed... Except for Mack (whom the other turtles are swimming towards), who is sitting on Yertle's old "throne" and looking upwards towards the sky. Considering Seuss's background as a political cartoonist (and that he admitted the story is an allegory for Hitler), the implication isn't difficult to spot...
- Honorable Elephant: Horton is always faithful, one hundred percent.
- Humans Are Cthulhu: The protagonist of "What was I Afraid of?" from The Sneeches and Other Stories doesn't look human, but it's the same idea. He keeps running into a ghostly pair of Pale Green Pants which he is terrified of... Until the end, when he discovers that the pants are even more terrified of him. (Unlike most examples of this Trope, the story has a happy ending, with the two of them coming to terms with the fears and becoming friends.)
- I Gave My Word: See Honorable Elephant above.
- Ignored Epiphany: The Once-ler does this twice in the 1972 Animated Adaptation of The Lorax. Once when the Bar-ba-Loots were sent away, and again when the Swomee Swans and Humming Fish leave. The latter instance segues into his rant from the climax of the book.
- Karma Houdini: The makers of the Horton Hears A Who film note in the commentary that he "wasn't in the comeuppance business." In fact, with the exception of Yertle the Turtle, the unwelcome guests in Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose and the Kwuggerbug in Horton and the Kwuggerbug, it's rare that any villain in any book gets what's coming to him or her. (Sylvester McMonkey McBean gets no comeuppance for conning the Sneeches. Of course, doing so would likely distract readers from the overall message.)
- Kneel, Push, Trip: In One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, a pair of fish do this to another fish while all three of them are underwater. The two doing the pushing are described as "very, very bad".
- The Movie: How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Cat In The Hat (twice), Horton Hears A Who!, The Lorax
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: Well, Yertle the Turtle clearly wasn't one (and he wasn't truly evil, he was just greedy), but as Seuss himself said in an interview, he was meant to be an allegorical stand-in for Hitler and those of similar philosophical bent.
- Non-Indicative Name: There's a Wocket in My Pocket does not contain any Wockets in the book proper. There is one right on the cover, though.
- No Pronunciation Guide: Averted in a poem one of Seuss's friends wrote about it (This is from Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel: A Biography)I think that you are a duce
And you certainly shouldn't rejoice
If you're pronouncing it "soose"
The doctor pronounces it "soice".
- Nothing Is Scarier: The vug under the rug from There's a Wocket in My Pocket. It is never shown, appearing only as a lump under a rug in a dark room, and the only detail the reader knows about it is that it's the only creature the narrator is afraid of. This character, along with the red under the bed, was scary enough to be scrapped from the 1996 reprint.
- Only Six Faces: Even though the good Doctor is very good at defining characters, some of his male protagonists look remarkably similar to each other and to other characters, such as Herman "Butch" Stroodel of Daisy-Head Mayzie to the protagonist of There's a Wocket in My Pocket.
- Mayzie herself looks similar to Sally from The Cat in the Hat.
- Parental Bonus: The entirety of You're Only Old Once!
- Perfectly Cromulent Word: Duh.
- Posthumous Collaboration: Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!, fleshed out by poet Jack Prelutsky and illustrator Lane Smith following Seuss's death.
- Rain of Something Unusual: In Bartholomew and the Oobleck, the king tires of only rain, sun, fog, and snow coming from the sky, so he orders his wizards to come up with something new. Unfortunately what they create is basically a rain of glue, which nearly destroys the kingdom.
- Rhymes on a Dime: This guy does it every time, and no way that is a crime!
- Rhyming with Itself: In Dr. Seuss' ABC:Painting pink pajamas.
Policeman in a pail.
Peter Pepper's puppy.
And now Papa's in the pail.
- Sdrawkcab Alias: One of Seuss's pen names is LeSieg, which is his real surname (Geisel) backwards. More than one child grew up grumbling about these other beginner books that didn't have cool Dr. Seuss artwork and to be shocked when they learned this when they were older.
- Snake Oil Salesman: Zigzagged with Sylvester McMonkey McBean in the Sneeches story. What he sells truly works and does exactly what he claims, but he cleverly uses his Star-On Machine and Star-Off Machine to milk the Sneeches for everything they've got, playing on their attitude towards those dumb stars.
- Sneeze of Doom: Because A Little Bug Went Ka-Choo!. The whole thing escalates up to an entire town in absolute chaos because of that bug.
- Supreme Chef: Assuming Peter T. Hooper, the protagonist of Scrambled Eggs Super, was telling his sister the truth, he was willing to go to the ends of the earth to get the eggs to make the best scrambled egg dish ever.
- Surprise Creepy: Thidwick ends in the unwanted guests being made into taxidermy.
- Thematic Series: His Dr. Seuss books are all linked thematically but aren't typically in any sort of continuity.
- Tulpa: The Glunk, in "The Glunk that got Thunk", a short story in I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today! And Other Stories. The Cat in the Hat's daughter uses her "Thinker-Upper" to bring a variety of usually cute and harmless thoughtforms into being temporarily. But one night ends up with a Glunk which promptly causes many problems such as racking up very large phone bills. She discovers that the Glunk cannot be UN-thunk by her alone and she and her brother have to cooperate to get rid of it.
- Unbroken Vigil: Horton Hatches the Egg. "I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful, one hundred percent."
- Utopia: The protagonist's destination in I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew is a paradise.
- Weird Weather: Bartholomew and the Oobleck centres around a king who demands a new kind of weather of a group of wizards loosely attached to his court. He gets a rain of big balls of viscous goop called "oobleck" that rapidly floods the kingdom, trapping citizens and wildlife in its stickiness, as his long-suffering page boy Bartholomew Cubbins attempts to convince him to admit it was a mistake.
- Your Cheating Heart: Had a long term affair with Audrey Stone Dimond while married to Helen Palmer. Palmer had suffered from a series of illnesses (including cancer) for 13 years and became depressed over her husband's affair with Dimond. Palmer eventually killed herself in 1967 because of it, writing about her love for her husband in her suicide note. Dr. Seuss married his mistress Dimond the next year in 1968.