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Creator / Richard Scarry

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Scarry and his best Busytown characters ever.

"I'm not interested in creating a book that is read once and then placed on the shelf and forgotten. I am very happy when people have worn out my books, or that they're held together by Scotch tape."
Richard Scarry on his books

Richard McClure Scarry (June 5, 1919 – April 30, 1994) was an American children's author and illustrator known for his anthropomorphic animals, particularly those of the "Busytown" books, which were later adapted by Cinar (now Cookie Jar) into an animated series, The Busy World of Richard Scarry (1994–1997). It was aired on Showtime and Nickelodeon as part of the Nick Jr. block. Before that, there was a series of educational Direct to Video releases made by Jumbo Pictures and distributed by Random House Home Video in the late 1980s-early 1990s. The videos were:

  • Best ABC Video Ever! (1989)
  • Best Counting Video Ever! (1989)
  • Best Busy People Video Ever! (1993)
  • Best Learning Songs Video Ever! (1993)
  • Best Silly Stories and Songs Video Ever! (1994)
  • Best Sing-Along Mother Goose Video Ever! (1994)

The most recent adaptation of the characters is Busytown Mysteries (also known as Hurray For Huckle in some regions), also by Cookie Jar; it aired on Cookie Jar TV and PBS Kids Sprout.

The Busytown characters were also adapted into educational video games, most notably Richard Scarry's Busytown in 1993 for DOS and Apple Macintosh, which was ported to the Sega Genesis in 1994 and given an enhanced remake for Microsoft Windowsnote  and "Classic" Mac OSnote  that update the graphics, animation, and voice acting to resemble The Busy World of Richard Scarry series.

Before creating the Busytown series, he made a Little Golden Book adaptation of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in 1958. This version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer later received an audio adaptation that was released by Disneyland Records in 1976. Scarry's adaptation is based on the song but uses elements from the original 1939 story and the 1948 cartoon by Max Fleischer.

Works by Richard Scarry provide examples of:

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  • Alliterative Name: There's a handful of them, such as Hilda Hippo and Fixit Fox.
  • Animated Adaptation: In addition to The Busy World of Richard Scarry, Busytown Mysteries and the Random House videos, in 1985-1986 Golden Book Video produced three videos that were adapted from Richard Scarry's books utilizing limited "Picturemation" techniqeus (mainly from "Richard Scarry's Animal Nursery Tales," but illustrations from "Best Word Book Ever," "Storybook Dictionary," "Busy Busy World" and "Cars and Trucks and Things That Go" have been used as well).
  • Art Evolution: In his early books, Scarry used painting and illustrated detailed and realistic art. However, later on, he switched to his Signature Style of simple ink and watercolor drawings.
  • Ascended Extra: Sally is promoted as one of the main characters in "Huckle's Busytown Mysteries" compared to her roles in the books and the first animated series.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Everyone except Lowly Worm, the one member of the cast who doesn't have feetbut wears a shoe anyway.
  • Beary Friendly: Most bear characters, most notably Miss Honey, the primary school teacher.
  • Braids, Beads and Buckskins: The early books have Native American background characters (usually bisons or raccoons) who dress like this. Later editions remove them because of the Unfortunate Implications.
  • Busman's Holiday: One story in Richard Scarry's Busy, Busy World is about a Russian bear dentist who loves his job and spends his holiday in the museum checking out a whale's teeth.
  • Carnivore Confusion: The characters are often shown eating meat, but where the meat comes from is usually ignored. In fact one can find a family of jolly pigs at the supermarket checking out the butcher's selection, which includes bacon, pork and ham. A few illustrations show regular, non-anthropomorphic farm animals, which are apparently non-sapient and can be killed for meat.
  • Creator Provincialism: Much of the art in his books features European-style architecture (such as narrow streets and A-frame houses) and clothing (Huckle himself usually wears lederhosen over a yellow shirt). Originally from Boston, Scarry bought a chalet in Gstaad, Switzerland in 1972 and set up his studio there.
  • Cute Kitten: Huckle, an anthropomorphic kitten, and especially his little sister Sally.
  • The Dinnermobile: Scarry is arguably the king of this trope, as his illustrations are full of whimsical vehicle designs, many of which are based on food items. While his books hold too many examples to list individually, the most iconic of these is probably Lowly Worm's apple-shaped car (that can fly like a helicopter, no less), followed by Bananas Gorilla's banana-shaped ride.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: Hilda, an anthropomorphic hippo child, accidentally rips a door off its hinges when she is told to open the door so the students can go out to play. Later, when the door is fixed, she rips out the door along with part of the wall when she attempts the same thing.
  • Exposed Animal Bellybutton: Huckle has one in the last pagenote  of Best Little Word Book Ever.
  • Flying Car: Lowly apparently drives an apple-shaped car that also serves as a helicopter since its "leaves" actually function as the helicopter's blades. Except how the heck is he able to drive it if he doesn't have any arms?
    • In ''Cars and Trucks and Things that Go," the AVE Mizar (a Real Life example of this trope, which made headlines around the time the book was written) makes a cameo. It's labeled as an "auto-plane".
  • Funny Background Event: Scarry likes to add humorous little details on the book illustrations that are completely irrelevant to the plot.
  • Furry Confusion: All over the place. Most of the characters are Funny Animals; however, there are non-anthropomorphic animals that are kept at farms, zoos or circuses. So Farmer Pig and Farmer Alfalfa Goat can keep pigs and goats at their farm, and when Hilda Hippo, Bananas Gorilla or Miss Honey visit the zoo, they'll see realistic hippos, gorillas and bears there. The most confusing one is on the circus picture in Best Word Book Ever: a non-anthropomorphic horse, lion, seal and an elephant balancing on one leg while wearing a tutu are surrounded by an anthropomorphic, fully-clothed tiger ringmaster and bear acrobats. If the elephant stood slighly more upright and had more hand-like front legs, she'd pass as a person in this setting.
  • Gender Equals Breed: Averted. Recurring character Huckle is a male calico cat (Calico cats in real life are almost Always Female).
  • Hates Baths: The piglets in the Pig Family do not like bathing, as seen in the 1966 Storybook Dictionary. One memorable illustration has them hiding in a hamper in the bathroom as Mother Pig looks for them.
  • Honorable Elephant: Polite Elephant.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: Huckle's yellow shirt and red/green overalls.
  • Improvised Lockpick: In Best Christmas Book Ever!, Lowly Worm uses his foot (technically the tip of his tail) to pick a lock.
  • Informed Species: Lowly Worm looks more like a snake than a worm because of his head and size. It doesn't help that in one episode, he breaks his bones, which worms don't have, but snakes do.
  • It's the Best Whatever, Ever!: Many of his books have titles like this, most notably Best Word Book Ever.
  • Messy Pig: A lot of the pig residents, although not all of them are messy.
  • Mr. Fixit: The character Mr. Fixit Fox is the Trope Namer.
  • National Animal Stereotypes: The book Richard Scarry's Busy, Busy World, which is tells stories about the countries of the world, uses a lot of these. Needless to say, not all of them have aged well.
    • In England, the Queen is a lioness and the Tower is guarded by ravens
    • Scotland is inhabited by kilt-wearing, bagpipe-playing Scottish Terriers.
    • The story in Switzerland stars mountain goats.
    • The Russian story's main character is a bear dentist.
    • The Sami are portrayed as reindeer-herding arctic foxes.
    • The Canadian story is about a raccoon ranger defeating two bullies, a grizzly bear and a timber wolf.
    • South Americans are portrayed as various wildlife native to the continent, including jaguars, toucans, armadillos, anteaters and constrictor snakes.
    • In the story that takes place in India, a tiger is the main character, while cobras and elephants appear as background characters.
    • The story taking place in China stars pandas.
    • Zebras are portrayed as spear-wielding African natives.
  • Right Way/Wrong Way Pair: Pig Will and Pig Won't.
  • Running Gag: Whenever Mr. Frumble appears, he is almost always seen chasing his hat.
  • Shown Their Work: Scarry was rather fond of drawing vehicles, be they cars, boats, or aircraft. Many of the vehicles that appear in his illustrations (the ones that aren't obviously imaginary, that is) are real types, often obscure ones like the Hughes XH-17 and the Volkswagen Schwimmwagen.
  • Shaped Like What It Sells: Many shops, and particularly, cars in Busy World are like this.
  • Species Surname: Huckle Cat, Lowly Worm, Hilda Hippo and many more. Some characters avert this though, in favor of a different Meaningful Name, such as Mr. Frumble (who tends to fumble), or just regular human names, like Sergeant Murphy.
  • Steam Never Dies: A number of locomotives in his books are of the steam variety. However, diesel locomotives also show up in such books as The Best Word Book Ever and What Do People Do All Day?; in most cases they are usually fashioned off European locomotives (especially the diesels.)
  • Stock Animal Diet: Bananas Gorilla has... well, bananas as his Trademark Favorite Food. In fact he's rarely seen eating anything else.
  • There Was a Door: Happens in What Do People Do All Day? when Smokey the firefighter chops open the door to the playroom of Huckle's burning house to save Huckle from a fire; Lowly lampshades this later by asking Smokey why he didn't just open the door instead.
  • Unnamed Parents: Huckle and Sally's, who are only ever called Mom / Mother, Dad / Father, or Mr. and Mrs. Cat. Averted in the Busy World animated series where they are named John and Fiona.
  • Vague Age: Lowly Worm and Bananas Gorilla are both sometimes presented as children (attending the same class as Huckle Cat) and sometimes adults (driving apple-and banana-shaped cars respectively).
  • Video Game Remake: The 1993 MS-DOS CD-ROM kids' game Richard Scarry's Busytown had a remake made and released in 1999 for Windows and Macintosh computers, featuring improved graphics and animation better resembling The Busy World of Richard Scarry animated series and better voice-acting resembling the voices in the same series (as the original game had one man providing all the character voices). While the gameplay is mostly the same and the original vocal songs are included, the "Bananas Gorilla" activity was removed from the remake, along with the "Junior Seesaw" activity (as it was already made redundant by the regular "Seesaw" activity.)
  • World of Funny Animals: Every character in the setting is either an anthropomorphic Funny Animal or, less often, a Nearly Normal Animal.

    Picture Books 
  • Class Clown: Town clown rather in Busy, Busy World; Schtoompah, the funny Austrian as his story calls him, is a messy tuba player. He puts everything in the closet, rides his bicycle backward, and carries his tuba by balancing it on his head. The townsfolk, however, find him endearing and wonder how he will make them laugh.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Dingo is portrayed like this in the picture dictionary. Nearly every entry with him has the narrator chiding Dingo. His ending page is putting a horse head on his car and using it in a makeshift chariot.
  • Deadpan Snarker: You can count on Lowly to have some snark in any book when he appears. Case in point when he demonstrates the different types of "pests" that exist in the world.
  • Fishing for Sole: In Busy, Busy World Uncle Oscar and Olaf go out to fish for dinner during "Two Norwegian Fisherman". Oscar keeps catching boots, tires, and other garbage.
  • Giftedly Bad: Poor Office Angus in Busy, Busy World. He is so terrible on the bagpipes that the whole town cries for him to stop. Angus finally does stop...because the bag explodes.
  • Karmic Jackpot: Mario the Venetian Gondolier dreams of saving up enough for a gondola. He helps rescue a wedding party— Princess Tina, her husband Toni, and Tina's father— when their little gondola sinks in the water. As thanks, he's allowed to attend the wedding as a guest and Tina's father buys him a gondola. Mario keeps the watermelon boat for special occasions, so that he can take out Tina and Toni, along with their kids.
  • Master of Disguise: In Busy, Busy World, Couscous the Algiers detective can convincingly pose as a dancer named Fatima to infiltrate a gang den.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In Animal Nursery Rhymes, Little Red outruns the wolf when he attempts to eat her. Then the woodcutter comes in time to help her and get her grandmother out of the wolf's stomach.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: In Busy, Busy World, giant boat constrictor named Noah helps keep a plane together when it splits apart, by wrapping himself around the metal rip. That allows everyone to fly to a Rio de Janeiro carnival.

    The Best Ever direct-to-video releases (1989–1994) 
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: In The Best ABC Video Ever, all of the students names begin with the letter they're holding (e.g.: Freddie Fox has the letter F, Huckle Cat has the letter H, etc.)
    • The comments of the teacher also match the letter — "Congratulations, Christine", "Very interesting, Iris", and so on. She bends the rule with the X, though — "eXcellent, Xavier" — and we do not get to hear her comments on some letters, such as R or Z.
  • Art Evolution: The first two videos, The Best ABC Video Ever and The Best Counting Video Ever, are produced by a small New York City-based animation studio, so they were done with blazing amounts of Limited Animation; but in the Jumbo Pictures videos that follow them, the animation has gotten a lot better and much more fluid and colorful than its predecessors.
  • Banana Peel / Epic Fail: After Freddie finishes his song about numbers in The Best Learning Songs Video Ever, he slips on a banana peel and grabs onto the curtain, accidentally pulling it down and ruining the stage. This results in him and some of the other kids getting buried under the curtain.
    Huckle: Ladies and gentlemen, we seem to be having a little trouble. Please be patient; we will go on with our show in a few minutes. Thank you.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Libby Leopard in The Best ABC Video Ever mistakenly jumps over Kathy's turn with the letter L after the letter J was finished. Miss Honey tells her that L doesn't come after J.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot:
    • A Running Gag in "The Best ABC Video Ever" is Sergeant Murphy chasing down Bananas Gorilla, with Huckle and Lowly's help, because Bananas stole a bag of bananas from a mail truck, and Murphy's police car to boot. Just as they catch up to him, Huckle finds the address tag: it was meant to be sent to Bananas Gorilla all along. Huckle and Lowly run to catch up with Murphy and explain the misunderstanding.
    • In "Best Sing-Along Mother Goose Video Ever!" Huckle is worried that Lowly hasn't come to bed, and dreams about searching for him in Mother Goose land. He wakes up from his dream, and his mother tells him Lowly was hiding in the kitchen, making a pie as a surprise for the family. There was nothing at all to worry about, while Huckle's mother says they can eat it tomorrow. The video ends with the pie opening, and birds flying out, as they did in Mother Goose land...
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Happens frequently in some videos, such as The Best Learning Songs Video Ever.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Downplayed, but being the first. "The Best ABC Video Ever" has several prototypical elements such as several realistic-looking characters, and Lowly being more of a loyal assistant to Huckle, rather than a Civilized Animal.
  • Edutainment Show
  • Fake Interactivity: After Miss Honey tells Libby that L doesn't come after J:
    Miss Honey: Do you know what letter comes after J? (Beat) That's right! It's the letter K.
  • Go-to-Sleep Ending:
    • "The Best ABC Video Ever" ends with Lowly sleeping in bed.
    • "The Best Counting Video Ever" ends with Lily sleeping in bed.
    • "The Best Sing-Along Mother Goose Video Ever" ends with Huckle and Lowly falling asleep as Huckle's mother sings "Sleep Baby Sleep".
  • Or Was It a Dream?: "Best Sing-Along Mother Goose Video Ever!" seems to be a dream that Huckle has, about looking for Lowly in Mother Goose land. He misses Lowly in King Cole's kitchen, who coats himself in flour and starts rolling out dough. He wakes up and his mother tells him Lowly was in the house kitchen, baking a pie as a surprise. After everyone goes to sleep, the pie opens, and birds come out the way they did for King Cole in "Sing A Song Of Sixpence".
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: King Cole is a man who makes merry and invites all guests to dance and play with him. When Huckle sadly says that no one has been able to help him find Lowly, King Cole teaches him how to call Mother Goose and ask for her help. If anyone knows where Lowly is in Mother Goose land, it's Mother Goose herself. King Cole gives them both a loud goodbye as Huckle flies on her back.
  • Running Gag: In The Best Learning Songs Video Ever, Bananas Gorilla always comes up seeing a banana, says "Banana!" and takes the banana.
  • Scenery Porn: The videos made after The Best Counting Video Ever have some colorful animation and backgrounds.
  • Sleepyhead: Quincy in The Best ABC Video Ever.
  • Variety Show: Premise of The Best Learning Songs Video Ever.
  • The Voiceless: Unlike most other Richard Scarry media, Lowly Worm does not speak in these videos, instead acting as a Cute Mute.
  • Wrap-Up Song:
    • "The Best ABC Video Ever" ends with Huckle singing "The Alphabet Song".
    • "The Best Counting Video Ever" ends with Lily's mother singing "Tomorrow You Can Count Again".
    • "The Best Busy People Video Ever" has Miss Honey and her students singing "You Can Be Anything You Want to Be" towards the end.
    • "The Best Learning Songs Video Ever" ends with Huckle and all his friends singing a closing song to end their show that goes "Singing and dancing and laughing and growing..."
    • "The Best Sing-Along Mother Goose Video Ever" ends with Huckle's mother singing "Sleep Baby Sleep".

    The Busy World of Richard Scarry (1994–1997) 
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Not exactly a "hero" per se, but Bananas Gorilla is more of a good guy in the series than he is in the books, where he's something of a banana thief. He still loves bananas, but he generally won't steal them. In fact, the one time Sergeant Murphy tried to apprehend him for banana theft, he was actually mistaken, and quickly apologized when he realized what was really going on.
    • Played somewhat straight with "Sleeping Car Adventure." It's based off the book "Hilda Needs Help!" where Hilda is also going to the seaside on the same train the Cat family is for their vacation. But in "Sleeping Car Adventure," the Cat family invites Hilda along on their vacation to look after Huckle, Sally and Lowly while the parents relax. But as the trip goes on, one calamity after another happens with Hilda (as in the book), and the parents wonder if bringing Hilda along was such a good idea. But at the beach, when Hilda saves Huckle and Lowly from a huge tidal wave, it turns out bringing her along was a great idea after all.
  • Adaptational Job Change: In the original books, Father Cat was a grocer. This series changes Father Cat's occupation to travel agent. note 
  • Age Lift: Bridget, Sergeant Murphy's daughter in this series. In the book What Do People Do All Day, she is implied to be a baby, seen in a cradle being bottle-fed by her father. In this series, she walks around, talks and is closer to Sally's age.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: The "Play it Safe" song segments, in-between the second and third episodes of a show. Also between the first and second episodes are the "Imagine That" song segments which teach about how certain things work.
  • Animal Gender-Bender: The Queen of England, a lioness, has a mane in her first appearance. Averted in her later appearances, where she is maneless.
  • Animation Bump: The animation gets a little smoother, fluid and brighter starting with the second season, due to the switch from Hanho Heung-Up to Wang Film Productions.
  • Artistic Age:
    • Bananas Gorilla in this series; he's implied to be an adult and drives a car, yet he's shown attending Miss Honey's class along with Huckle, Hilda, Lowly, etc.
    • Hilda, on the other hand, is supposed to be a child around the same age or slightly older than Huckle, going to Miss Honey's class, but she lives by herself and is sometimes treated like an adult.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: The "Imagine That" segment featuring dinosaurs show Jurassic and Cretaceous dinosaurs living at the same time, and a Protoceratops alongside North American genera. Also, Brachiosaurus is depicted as a swamp-dweller not unlike in outdated portrayals (although Apatosaurus is correctly shown as a land-dweller).
  • Artistic License – Space: "A Trip to the Moon" takes creative liberties about space. It shows some objects floating away in zero gravity from the surface of the Moon, and also the characters are able to light a candle, despite the lack of atmosphere.
  • Babysitting Episode: "The Best Babysitter Ever" where Hilda was babysitting Pig Will and Pig Won't.
    • "Sleeping Car Adventure" also has the Cat family invite Hilda Hippo on their vacation to the seaside to look after Huckle, Sally and Lowly while the parents relax.
  • Balloonacy: The opening of "Mr. Raccoon's Different Day" has Mr. Frumble accidentally floating into the sky with several helium balloons. All of the balloons burst without provocation and Mr. Frumble falls to the ground but lands safely.
  • Birthday Episode:
    • "The Best Birthday Present Ever" for Fiona Cat (Huckle's mother)
    • "The Best Birthday Party Ever" for Kenny and Lynnie.
  • Bizarre Alien Locomotion: Lowly Worm stands upright on one shoe. In animated adaptations, his boneless body contorts in several ways to move about, depending on circumstances and the artists' preferences: sending ripples down his length, coiling up to bounce like a spring, or folding bow- or zigzag-fashion and then extending to launch himself into the air.
  • Bones Do Not Belong There: One episode has Lowly Worm breaking his bones and having to be put in a cast. Worms are invertebrates (meaning they have no bones at all).
  • A Boy, a Girl, and a Baby Family: In "The Best Christmas Present Ever", the Cat family welcomes their new baby girl named Babykins.
    • Babykins was never seen again in future episodes after that episode.
  • Bully Bulldog: Defied with Billy Dog. When he joins the class, everyone expects him to be this trope and avoid him. When someone finally talks to him he's revealed to be a pretty nice guy.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Mr. Fixit: "VOI-LA!"
    • Bananas Gorilla: "Yeow!"
  • Christmas Episode: "The Best Christmas Present Ever / Abe and Babe's Christmas Lesson / Sally Cat's Christmas Dream" were this, all involving Christmas stories.
    • "The Big Apple Christmas Caper" & "Santa Needs Help", two Christmas episodes in the last season.
  • Clock Tower: The "Daylight Savings Time" episode involves Mr. Tick-Tock attempting to reset the Town Hall clock tower for Daylight Savings in the spring.
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong: The brothers Pig Will and Pig Won't, who somehow manage to embody this Aesop using only two people. As their names suggest, one agrees to every request or offer, and the other refuses every offer. No matter what their giggly hippo babysitter asks them to do, Pig Won't's refusal ends up making him miserable... somehow. Even when it's a simple preference not to play a certain game. One wonders how, exactly, Pig Will would cope with being so "agreeable"/mentally pliable in the outside world, without the protection of a benign authority figure.
    • In the original book Pig Won't would always say "I won't", without even thinking about it. So one day when their father asks who wants to go with him to visit the fire station, Pig Won't declares "I won't". At the fire station, Pig Will gets to play with the dalmatian, wear a fire suit, play with the fire hose (with adult supervision), and it all ends with an all-you-can-eat hot fudge sundae party! When Pig Won't sees all the fun Pig Will had, he immediately becomes Pig Me Too. The moral's supposed to be: "Don't just blindly disobey your folks, because you might miss out on some pretty cool stuff!", but reeks more of the Broken Aesop "Obey all orders without question, and you'll get a treat! You know, a treat, like a dog gets for not shitting on the carpet!". When Pig Me Too enters the real world and stops getting treats for obeying, he's going to feel a little silly.
  • The Danza: John Stocker voices John Cat, Huckle's father.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The first and third segments of the show focused on Huckle and his family (Lowly included). Sometimes, these segments would feature one of the other Busytown characters like Bananas Gorilla, Sergeant Murphy, Pig Will and Pig Won't, etc.
  • Disguised in Drag/Hiding in a Hijab: Couscous, the (male) Algerian detective, often crossdresses as part of trying to capture Pepe the Gangster and his dirty rats. In his first adventure (adapted from the book Richard Scarry's Busy, Busy World), he disguises himself as a female Belly Dancer, covering his face with a Niqab, to infiltrate Pepe's hideout.
    • Detectives Sam and Dudley have done this a couple of times. In "The Great Pie Robbery," the two gumshoes don a Totem Pole Trench disguise as a female hippopotamus person, with Dudley on top (and his pig eyes and nose visible in the hippo mask's mouth) and Sam on bottom (with his arms showing below the hippo's waist, armed to catch the crooks). Then in "The Supermarket Mystery," Dudley dresses up in drag as a housewife going grocery shopping, with Sam as a sack of potatoes in his shopping cart, and in the same story, the robber Shifty-Fingers Wolf (Blackfinger Wolf in the book) disguises as a mother bunny to rob the supermarket, stuffing the stolen groceries into a baby bunny doll.
  • Edited for Syndication: DVD releases as well as reruns of the show on This TV and Qubo edit out the "A CINAR Presentation" text on the in-credits opening logo so that it now reads "A COOKIE JAR Presentation" due to Cinar rebranding as Cookie Jar and possibly wanting to edit out all references to the former company due to the scandals that brought them down.
  • Edutainment Show: Just like the book it is based on, the show combines educational content with cute animal characters and comedy. Each episode consists of three stories (two in Busytown, one elsewhere in the world) and two short educational segments.
  • Everything Is Big in Texas: This show featured a parody of the story about a nameless Dutch boy who plugged a hole in a dike with his finger, which first appeared as "The Hero of Haarlem," a story being read aloud within Mary Mapes Dodge's 1865 novel, Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates. There was a fat tourist from Texas waltzing about, taking pictures of windmills and tulips, while making comments about how everything was bigger in Texas. When the hole in the dike turned out to be too big to be filled with just Hans' finger, he and his friends save the day by stuffing said tourist into the hole.
  • Exact Words: In "A Big Operation," Huckle Cat is dreading his tonsilectomy until he is told by Sprout Goat that, afterwards, he can get "all the ice cream he can eat". As it turns out, his throat is so sore from the operation he can barely eat any.
  • Face of a Thug: Billy Dog looks like a stereotypical Bully Bulldog, and initially all his classmates are scared of him. Once they actually talk to him, he's revealed to be a rather friendly guy.
  • Gender Flip: In the adaptation of "Pip Pip Goes to London", Pip Pip is female, whereas she was male in the original story.
  • Geographic Flexibility: The Cat family's house in Busytown. Some episodes show it as a corner house, at least one episode shows the house as having no neighboring houses and yet another episode implies the house is right next to home of Pig Will and Pig Won't.
  • Gratuitous German: Rudolf Von Flugel is prone to this sort of thing.
  • Halloween Episode: "The First Halloween Ever"
  • Happily Adopted: Lowly lives with the Cat family in this series.
  • Illness Blanket:
    • In "Grouchy Mr. Gronkle", Mr. Gronkle is wrapped in a blanket and given a Foot Bath Treatment after being pulled out of the frozen lake.
    • In "Be My Valentine", both Lowly and Hilda are wrapped in blankets and given both Foot Bath Treatments and hot cocoa after being pulled out of an icy pond.
    • In "The Biggest Storm Ever", Mr. Gronkle and the beggars are wrapped in blankets and given hot cocoa (and a Foot Bath Treatment in Mr. Gronkle's case) after being rescued from the flood.
  • The Kiddie Ride: Lowly Worm in his apple car and Bananas Gorilla in his Bananamobile, both from Jolly Roger.
  • King of Beasts: Royal figures are often portrayed as lions.
  • Logo Joke/Match Cut: The Paramount logo morphs into a mountain in Busytown which the Applecopter promptly flies out from behind, again via a fade.
  • Married to the Job: Sergeant Murphy as demonstrated in "Sergeant Murphy's Day Off", where he tries to have a day off, only to be involved in helping the residents of Busytown as he would any other day he would be on duty, in addition to his supposed day off turning into a Take Your Kid To Work Day for his daughter. The episode ended with the Busytown residents throwing him a BBQ in appreciation of his service, and apology for his not so day off.
  • Minor Living Alone: Hilda Hippo is shown living in a house in this series but with no sign of parents or any other family in that house too. This is supported by her having a friend watching her house while she's off on a trip in one episode and having her pet bird watched over by Huckle and Lowly in another.
  • Oddly Small Organization: With the exception of a rookie officer in "Sergeant Murphy's Deputy", Murphy is the only active officer shown for Busytown's police force. This was avoided in the book What Do People Do All Day? where a police chief, a dispatcher and a night shift officer are seen.
  • Officer O'Hara: Sergeant Murphy has an Irish accent in this series (Murphy already being a common Irish name).
  • Pink Means Feminine: Sally used to wear a dark pink and purple dress. In the latest animated series, she wears a red and yellow dress similar to her brother Huckle.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: A number of episodes were taken directly from Richard Scarry's books, albeit with some changes here and there.
  • Real Men Hate Affection: In "Hilda's Romantic Tea Party", Huckle and Lowly react this way when they see Miss Honey and Bruno kissing. They act with disgust and cover their eyes.
  • Sherlock Homage: Detective Sam wears a deerstalker hat as an obvious nod to Sherlock Holmes.
  • Shipper on Deck: Hilda Hippo for...pretty much anyone who looks like they might make a viable couple.
  • Shout-Out: During "A Big Operation", a female voice on the P.A. announces, "Paging Dr. Bailey", a reference to the show's character designer and director Greg Bailey.
    • According to "Sergeant Murphy's Day Off", his wife is named Patsy. Her name is based on Richard Scarry's real-life wife Patsy Murphy Scarry.
  • 65-Episode Cartoon: Ran for that length on cable and syndication.
  • The Smart Guy: In the series, Lowly Worm is usually the brains of the team, and the one hosting the segments that take place in a historical event or another part of the world.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Lowly Worm, who is a mute background character in the early books, talks in this series.
  • Slice of Life: Most stories are about pretty mundane, everyday problems that children face.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Sally wears a pink dress and bow.
  • The Tonsillitis Episode: Played straight in the episode "A Big Operation". Huckle even got his ice cream, although he couldn't eat it.
  • Three Shorts: Each episode has three segments, the first and last ones would focus on the denizens of Busytown, while the middle segment would be a sort of anthology with stories that are set in different countries around the world or a great moment in history with Lowly as our tour guide, in-between the main segments would be songs about how things work ("Imagine That!") and safety ("Play it Safe!") respectively.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Hilda Hippo, but just slightly. She can be pushy and rude without meaning to be.
  • Totem Pole Trench: A humorous version occurs in "The Great Pie Robbery," when detectives Sam and Dudley disguise as a female hippopotamus person, with Dudley on top (and his pig eyes and nose visible in the hippo mask's mouth) and Sam on bottom (with his arms showing below the hippo's waist, armed to catch the crooks). Sam complains when they first put the disguise on that Dudley got to be the head the previous time.
  • Valentine's Day Episodes: "Be My Valentine"
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song: "The Busy Ol' Witch Of Busytown" comes the closest to this.
  • Very Special Episode: The episode "Little Fixit" has Huckle and Sally learning about pregnancy since Mr Fixit and his wife are preparing for having a baby later named Little Fixit.
  • Vocal Evolution: Stuart Stone was one of a few young voice actors for the series. He voiced Kenny, Manuel, Pig Will and Pig Won't. Their voices break by the end of the series. However, Pig Will had a new voice actor, so as not to confuse them.
    • In season 5, Bananas' voice, although consistent, gets into a deeper register.

    Busytown Mysteries (2007–2010) 
  • Advertised Extra: Hilda Hippo can be seen in both the opening as well as the mystery montages that air Once an Episode but only appears sometimes in the actual episodes in this series.
  • Artistic License – Cars:
    • Huckle is 8 years old in this series, Sally is 6, and they drive motor vehicles around town; Huckle has a car, Sally rides a scooter and the pigs have a pickle car. Does Busytown give driver licenses to children?
    • It goes back further to the 1993 Richard Scarry's Busytown game (and its 1999 PC CD-ROM remake), where one activity involves having Huckle drive a delivery truck around Busytown.
  • Art Shift: This series is animated with Flash in contrast to The Busy World of Richard Scarry, which was animated traditionally.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Huckle's sister Sally has a bigger role in the series and even becomes a main character along with her brother.
    • Pig Will and Pig Won't count too as they had more limited roles in the previous series.
    • Inverted with Hilda Hippo. She only sometimes joins Huckle and friends on their mystery solving, relegated more to a Sixth Ranger role in contrast to the Busy World series.
  • Balloonacy: Happens to Pig Won't in one mystery.
  • Butt-Monkey: Pig Will and Pig Won't, the former to a lesser extent.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Usually whatever or whoever is the mystery's solution shows up early on in the episode.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: Frequently happens after Huckle and friends solve a mystery. Bonus points if it's because of Pig Will and/or Pig Won't.
  • Free-Range Children: Huckle and Sally are young children yet drive all over town solving mysteries.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All episodes normally have the word "Mystery" somewhere in the title, usually the ending.
  • Kids Driving Cars: Huckle drives around in a car, his sister Sally rides around on a motor scooter and Pig Will & Pig Won't drive a pickle car.
  • Market-Based Title: Known as Hurray for Huckle in some regions.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Just like the original series and books, Sally wears a dress and bow. However, they're red and yellow in this series (which resembles Huckle's clothes a bit).
  • Suddenly Voiced: Lowly Worm speaks here as well.
  • Walking Swimsuit Scene: Some episodes where Huckle, Sally and friends are at the pool or the beach have them also traveling around Busytown while still in their swimwear. Unlike other examples of this trope, it is not played for Fanservice, being a children's show.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Both of Huckle and Sally's parents in this series after being prominent in the previous adaptation.
    • Mother Cat plays this straight as she is mentioned but never appears in any episodes.
    • Downplayed with Father Cat; once more, he is depicted as a grocer but only appears in a few episodes.

Alternative Title(s): The Busy World Of Richard Scarry, Busytown Mysteries, Busytown, Richard Scarrys Busytown


Busy World of Richard Scarry

The opening to The Busy World of Richard Scarry.

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