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Bunnicula is the name of a series of children's books written by Deborah and James Howe about a "vampire bunny" who is adopted by the Monroe family, who give him the name "Bunnicula" when they find him on a seat in the theater while going to see the movie Dracula. The story centers on the family's pets, Harold, an old, good-natured mongrel, who is the narrator of the story, Chester the cat, who has a vivid imagination and suspects Bunnicula of being a vampire, and the eponymous bunny, who never displays any overt vampiric traits despite constant accusations by Chester.

The series is something of an Affectionate Parody of the horror genre, with equal parts mystery and comedy as well. The first book, simply titled Bunnicula, was written together with Howe's late wife Deborah.

In 1982, the first novel was adapted into a half-hour animated adaptation for the ABC Weekend Special by Ruby-Spears. However, the special had many differences from the novels.

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In 2016, Warner Bros. Animation produced a Bunnicula animated series, adapted fairly loosely from the original novels, which premiered on Cartoon Network's Saturday morning block.

Books in the series:

  • Bunnicula (1979)
  • Howliday Inn (1982)
  • The Celery Stalks At Midnight (1983)
  • Nighty-Nightmare (1987)
  • Return to Howliday Inn (1992)
  • Bunnicula Strikes Again! (1999)
  • Bunnicula Meets Edgar Allan Crow! (2006)

There is also the spin-off series Tales From The House of Bunnicula:

  • It Came From Beneath the Bed!
  • Invasion of the Mind Swappers from Asteroid 6!
  • Howie Monroe and the Doghouse of Doom
  • Screaming Mummies of the Pharaoh's Tomb II
  • Bud Barkin, Private Eye
  • The Odorous Adventures of Stinky Dog

There is also a series of Bunnicula books for very young readers:

  • The Vampire Bunny
  • Hot Fudge
  • Scared Silly
  • Rabbit-Cadabra
  • The Fright Before Christmas
  • Advertisement:
  • Creepy Crawly Birthday
  • Bunnicula Escapes!: A Pop-up Adventure

As well as several non-fiction books:

  • Bunnicula's Wickedly Wacky Word Games: a Book for Word Lovers & Their Pencils!
  • Bunnicula's Frightfully Fabulous Factoids: a Book to Entertain Your Brain!
  • Bunnicula's Pleasantly Perplexing Puzzlers: A Book of Puzzles, Mazes, & Whatzits!
  • Bunnicula's Long-lasting Laugh-alouds: a Book of Jokes & Riddles to Tickle Your Bunny-Bone!

The main series provides examples of:

  • Absentee Actor: Bunnicula is physically absent from three of the books - he's staying with their neighbor Professor Mickelwhite in Howliday Inn, and with Pete's friend Kyle in Nighty-Nightmare and Return to Howliday Inn. Justified, since in all three cases, the family is away on vacation and can't readily take a rabbit with them.
  • Agent Mulder: Chester, who sees the supernatural in pretty much everything.
  • Affectionate Parody: Both series are a parody of horror novels. Also, the Fleshcrawler books Howie reads are clearly parodies of R.L. Stine's Goosebumps.
  • Amateur Sleuth: Chester fancies himself one.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Harold's favorite food is chocolate cupcakes, even though a lot of chocolate can be dangerous to dogs. Whether this is artistic license on the part of the character or the author is debatable. It's specifically pointed out in both Bunnicula Strikes Again! and Hot Fudge that you should never give your dog chocolate in real life. It is also noted that some dogs can eat chocolate just fine, and Harold happens to (thankfully) be one of these. See also Breaking the Fourth Wall.
  • The Baby of the Bunch: Howie. Justified in that he is a puppy and the youngest of the four animals. He's also the runt of his siblings.
  • Big, Friendly Dog: Harold is a more laid-back version, but definitely qualifies. Especially when the Monroe kids have junk food.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In Bunnicula Strikes Again!, Harold reminds the audience that he, like the books he writes, is a work of fiction.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Harold the dog makes a lot of obscure references, and can even read Carpathian. He would just rather eat the books instead of read them.
  • The Bus Came Back: Max the bulldog and his friend Georgette, introduced in Howliday Inn, make return appearances in The Celery Stalks at Midnight and Return to Howliday Inn, respectively. The dog pair Bob and Linda, and the cats Felony and Miss Demeanor, all make their debut in Return to Howliday Inn and reappear in Bunnicula Strikes Again!.
  • Call-Back:
    • The Celery Stalks at Midnight mentions the time Chester tried to drive a steak through Bunnicula's heart from book 1. Pete brings it up when he's telling someone else about how odd their pets are in Bunnicula Meets Edgar Allen Crow.
    • Return to Howliday Inn features multiple references to their previous visit in Howliday Inn.
  • Captain Obvious: According to a sign in The Celery Stalks at Midnight, Centerville is "The Place That People Who Live Here Call Home".
  • Cats Are Mean: Chester manages to both subvert this trope and play it straight, particularly in the first book. He makes numerous attempts to subdue and/or kill Bunnicula and can come off as rather cruel in some of his methods, but on the other hand he was acting out of a desire to protect his family and the world, thinking Bunnicula was truly evil.
  • The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: In Howliday Inn, Chester determinedly thinks something horrible is going to happen, and is proven right when Louise goes missing, believing it to be foul play. While not murder, the poodle did not vanish of her own will.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Oh, Chester.
  • Covers Always Lie:
    • Some editions show Chester as being much larger and fluffier than he is in-story.
    • One edition of The Celery Stalks at Midnight has Harold, Chester and Howie looking up at a gigantic celery stalk. In the book, the only celery to appear is normal-sized.
  • Creepy Crows: Horror writer M.T. Graves has a bird who he calls Edgar Allan Crow. Chester, of course, thinks that both of them are up to no good. However, it ultimately turns out to be a subversion; Edgar Allan Crow is just an ordinary crow and not at all scary (except in Chester's runaway imagination).
  • Cute Little Fangs: Bunnicula, both in-story and in all the artwork.
  • Darker and Edgier: While still very much a children's book, Howliday Inn does qualify somewhat when compared to its predecessor. Whereas Bunnicula merely dealt with Chester's madcap theories regarding the titular rabbit, Howliday Inn features an honest to goodness mystery involving petnapping and the implied - but false - death of one of the characters.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Or nicknamed, at least. In Nighty-Nightmare, Harold, Chester and Howie spend much of the book accompanied by a dog whose real name is Teufel, but everyone calls him Dawg.
  • Dogs Are Dumb: Chester certainly thinks so. However, he's quite prone to underestimating Harold's intelligence.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Near the end of the first book, the Monroes conclude that Chester's behavior was rooted in a sibling rivalry he allegedly has with Bunnicula.
  • Fainting: Chester passes out when he finds little Howie is going to become part of the family at the end of Howliday Inn.
  • Fantastic Racism: Chester, in the "Vampires = Always Chaotic Evil" sense.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Bunnicula only vampirizes vegetables by sucking out their juices.
  • Fundraiser Carnival: There's a carnival being held at Pete and Toby's school in The Celery Stalks At Midnight, which Harold, Chester and Howie proceed to crash when they think Bunnicula's out causing trouble.
  • Fun with Homophones: During book 1, Chester mistakes "driving a stake through a vampire's heart" with a steak, and winds up pounding some meat on Bunnicula's chest while the rabbit sleeps.
  • Get Rich Quick Scheme: Early in Howliday Inn, Harrison mentions that he wants to retire at 21 after making a million bucks. He decides to do so by kidnapping Howard and Heather, a pair of purebred wire-haired dachshunds, and their seven newly born puppies, and selling them all for a lot of money.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • In Bunnicula, when Chester mentions how vampires bite their victims on the neck, Harold says "Wait a minute. I saw Mrs. Monroe bite Mr. Monroe on the neck once." But Chester says that Mrs. Monroe is not a vampire. She's a lawyer.
    • In Howliday Inn, Louise calls Georgette "Hester Prynne". It's an obscure reference that hardly any kid would get, but she's essentially calling Georgette a slut.
  • Hair-Raising Hare. Possibly. Chester assumes Bunnicula is an evil, vampiric bunny who will take over / destroy the world given enough time. To anyone else, he's not really terrifying.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Chester is an unusual example, as his loyalties never really change at least until Bunnicula Strikes Again, where he becomes Bunnicula's protector once-and-for-all. However, his sheer paranoia can make him either a hero or a villain depending on the situation.
  • Hell Hotel: Chateau Bow-Wow in Howliday Inn and Return To Howliday Inn
  • Heroic Dog:
    • Harold is single-handedly responsible for thwarting Chester's attempt to starve Bunnicula.
    • Played with in Howliday Inn, in which an incident is recalled where Harold thought Mr. Monroe was being attacked by an oversized bumblebee. Only after he'd grabbed it and thrown it in the toilet did he learn it was actually an electric razor.
    • Played with again in The Celery Stalks at Midnight; Harold tries to save Mr. Monroe from drowning, but it turns out he's misinterpreted the situation - Mr. Monroe was participating in a dunking booth and was never in any actual danger.
  • Hollywood Mid-Life Crisis: In Nighty-Nightmare, Mr. Monroe gets contemplative about turning forty. He decides to try something new and exciting, by having the family go on an overnight camping trip in the woods for a while instead of staying in their lakeside cabin.
  • I Do Not Drink Wine: Chester's story in Nighty-Nightmare has Dr. Emil Alphonse Diabolicus, a vampire, declare that "I don't drink... milk." Subverted with Bud, a normal human who also says that "I don't drink milk." In his case though, it's just a matter of personal preference.
  • Interspecies Adoption: Howie, a young wire-haired dachshund, adopts Chester, a cat, as his father figure. Chester is not amused, but reluctantly accepts the responsibility.
  • Irony: Harold, a dog, hates the sound of barking.
  • It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: Played straight in the first chapter, "The Arrival", in the first book. Inverted in The Celery Stalks at Midnight:
    "IT WAS NOT a dark and stormy night. Indeed, there was nothing in the elements to foreshadow the events that lay ahead."
  • Karma Houdini: Harrison, from Howliday Inn. For trying to steal and sell some of the guests, he loses his job at Chateau Bow-Wow, but he's basically given a slap on the wrist by the judge, who sentences him to a year of college, paid for by working at a zoo. And in Return to Howliday Inn, it's mentioned he's now running his own comic book business.
  • Killer Rabbit: Bunnicula is a vampire-like rabbit that Chester assumes is a killer rabbit, hiding his malevolent nature behind a cute exterior, but there's no evidence that he ever actually does any harm whatsoever besides draining vegetables.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Pete trying to explain to his family that the white vegetables are caused by "vegetables that aren't organic".
  • Lame Pun Reaction: In "Bunnicula Strikes Back" Howie cracks that "You're no bunny until some bunny loves you" and Harold narration notes that he could hear Chester grind his teeth.
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis: The prologue claims that Howe is merely the literary agent for Harold the dog.
  • Mad Scientist: Parodied (and ultimately subverted) with Dr. Greenbriar. Jill could even be seen as his beautiful daughter, and Harrison as his Igor.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Bunnicula may or may not be a blood-sucking fiend, though it becomes less debatable as the series goes on. Much of the humor in the series comes from Chester's belief that Bunnicula's eating habits mean that the world around them follows horror tropes.
  • Meaningful Name: Harold mentions that Chester was named after G. K. Chesterton.
  • Metaphorgotten: Chester in Bunnicula Strikes Again:
    "You can lead a horse of a different color to water but it's still a horse."
  • The Nicknamer: Daisy, the new girl at Chateau Bow-Wow in Return to Howliday Inn, for some of the animals at least. She calls Howie "Dickens" and the Weasel "Little Darling".
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: M.T. Graves is an Affectionate Parody of Stephen King and R. L. Stine.
  • Noodle Incident: In Howliday Inn, Chester remarks that he read the other animal's personal files while being held hostage. On the subject of Lyle (another cat who's more than a little off-kilter), he'll only say Lyle has "had a rough life".
  • Not So Above It All: Despite being the Only Sane Man, Harold usually begins to get sucked into Chester's delusions toward the end of each book, when confronted with weirder and weirder goings-on with no ready prosaic explanation.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Bud and Spud, who come across as dumb hicks, but are actually well educated. Of course, most of the obfuscation comes from Chester's overactive imagination.
  • Only Sane Man: Harold, the viewpoint character and in-universe narrator. While not very well-read, he certainly has a better grip on reality than Chester, and tries to keep the cat's wild notions in line- emphasis on "tries". Chester, meanwhile, thinks he's one of these, but his imagination and cynicism tends to stir things up.
  • Papa Dog: Harold goes to great lengths to protect Bunnicula against Chester whenever he has a "Kill the wab-bit" attack.
  • Pounds Are Animal Prisons: ...So are the kennels in Howliday Inn.
  • Predator Turned Protector: Chester, who spends much of the series seeing himself as the Van Helsing to Bunnicula's Dracula, ultimately saves him from the wreckage of a building once he finally accepts that Bunnicula isn't dangerous. Harold later comments on his new friendliness towards Bunnicula; Chester chooses to spin it as protecting the rabbit against his own dark nature.
  • Puns: Howie enjoys making punny remarks, much to Chester's exasperation.
  • Pun-Based Title: One of the chapters in the later books is titled "Gruel and Unusual Punishment", a reference to the phrase "cruel and unusual punishment". It receives a title drop from Howie.
  • Punny Name:
    • Edgar Allan Crow, who was named after horror writer Edgar Allan Poe.
    • Pete's favorite horror writer, M.T. Graves, has another pun for a pseudonym ("empty graves").
  • Reminder of Impossibility: Harold the dog is fond of eating chocolate, cheese, and fudge. He is reminded in some books that these foods are poisonous to dogs, but he remarks that he is a fictional dog and thus can eat anything he wants.
  • Roman à Clef: In-universe, Harold has changed his family's actual surname to "Monroe" for his books.
  • The Runt at the End: Howie, the smallest of four boys and three girls in his litter.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: Most of the paranormal shenanigans are attributable to either this or Chester's paranoia, though there's a significant amount of Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane where Bunnicula is concerned.
  • Shout-Out: M.T. Graves and the Fleshcrawlers series are clearly a reference to R.L. Stine and Goosebumps.
  • Show Within a Show:
    • The FleshCrawlers series, which has at least 61 books (titles include #18 - Night of the Living Gargoyles; #19 - The Potato Has a Thousand Eyes; #24 - My Parents Are Aliens from the Planet Zorg; #28 - Screaming Mummies of the Pharaoh's Tomb; #33 - My Sister the Pickled Brain; #52 - Don't Go in the Yard; and #61 - The House That Dripped Eyeballs).
    • The Tales From the House of Bunnicula are in-universe fictional books written by Howie and his friend Delilah, and include entries from his writing journal.
  • Sliding Scale of Vampire Friendliness: Half-rabbit, half-vampire, all terror! He sucks the juice out of carrots. Or so Chester, the extremely high-strung family cat, believes. Harold the dog, who is The Watson to Chester's Holmes, is less convinced of the bunny's vampirism, though he admits that it has an odd way of feeding.
  • Smelly Skunk:
    • In Nighty-Nightmare, Bud and Spud have been secretly trying to capture a wild baby skunk for their mother as an early mother's day present. She's delighted with the gift, but points out that they'll have to get him descented.
    • In Bunnicula Strikes Again!, the pets have a run-in with one (which they initially mistake for Bunnicula's mother due to its coloration), and Harold and Howie get sprayed by it. Chester, fortunately, gets out of range in time.
  • Southern-Fried Genius: In Nighty-Nightmare, Bud and Spud come across as dumb hicks, but are later revealed to have graduated cum laude from college - Bud (real name Buford) is an architect, and Spud (real name Spalding) practices law.
    Bud: "And one of these days, he'll get it right!"
    Spud: (whacks him)
  • Stealth Pun: The Latin word for rabbit is "cuniculus" and the scientific name for the European rabbit is Oryctolagus cuniculus; stick a feminine ending on it and it's "cunicula".
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In Bunnicula Strikes Again!, Chester talks to Harold and Howie when they're wrapped up in towels, and at one point says "Why do I feel like I'm addressing the Roman Senate?", comparing their towels to togas. Mr. Monroe comes in a few minutes later and voices that "Chester, you look like you're addressing the Roman Senate."
    Chester: "Uncanny."
  • Take That!: To daytime TV in Howliday Inn - two days of exposure to it has an unfortunate effect on Louise's mind.
  • Ten Little Murder Victims: Parodied in Howliday Inn.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: Chester's story in Nighty-Nightmare includes a mob of peasants with these, targeting a vampire in their village and prompting his escape with the other members of his household. They still have them when they catch up to him in London.
  • Vampires Hate Garlic: Chester succeeds at keeping the titular vampire wabbit away from the Monroes' vegetables by using garlic. Of course, this gets him in trouble the next morning when Mrs. Monroe catches him and gives the irate cat a bath. Later on, he uses a garlic necklace and blocks Bunnicula's way so he can't get at the vegetables. This subtler approach does not alert the Monroes and it's only thanks to Harold that Bunnicula survives.
  • Vegetarian Vampire: Literally! Bunnicula doesn't feed on blood at all. Instead, he sucks vegetables of all their juices.
  • The Voiceless: Bunnicula himself never says a word, despite all other animals (cats, dogs, one weasel and a parrot) being able to talk just fine. It's hypothesized something terrible happened to him in his childhood and rendered him mute, and even after they find out what's causing his vampirism, he never talks.
  • The Watson: Harold to Chester, though he still manages to get sucked into Chester's fantasies in every book.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Chester. Does Bunnicula suck the juice out of vegetables? Yes, but that's the most nefarious thing he ever gets up to. Chester goes to incredible lengths to prove Bunnicula's vampirism and get rid of the "dangerous" rabbit, assuming that eventually the bunny will try to take over the world.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: In the book Howliday Inn, Harold is introduced to a member of the kennel's staff. Cue the following lines:
    Harold (thinking): Harrison... what a weird name for a person.
    Harrison (out loud): "Harold... what a weird name for a dog."
  • Who's on First?: In Howliday Inn, Taxi the dog explains that his original owners lived in New York City and decided it would be cute to call "Taxi!" to get him to come to them when they were out walking, except he didn't realize they meant him (and real taxis thought they were being called, getting mad when they realized the mixup) for the longest time. About the time he figured it out, they got tired of having a dog and gave him to a cousin in another town.
  • Wooden Stake: In book 1, Chester reads that one way to dispose of a vampire is to pound a sharp stake through their heart. Fortunately for Bunnicula, the cat misunderstands and winds up trying to pound a sirloin steak through his heart instead (and Harold offers to taste it and see if it's sharp). Later, in book 3, Chester and the dogs use toothpicks and twigs to impale the vegetables that Bunnicula had drained during his nightly wanderings.
  • Wrong Assumption: Chester sees himself as Van Helsing to Bunnicula's Dracula, when the truth is a lot more benign.


The Tales From The House of Bunnicula series provides examples of:

  • Affectionate Parody: Howie is a parody of fanfiction writers, and The Doghouse of Doom is mistakenly seen as a parody of Harry Potter by Howie's editor.
  • Aliens Speaking English: The Mindswappers From Asteroid 6™ speak English. "Justified" in that Howie is the author and he wants them to.
  • Animal Superhero: Howie is a wire-haired dachshund puppy (and Dean is a sparrow) so Stinky Dog and Little D are an animal superhero and an animal sidekick.
  • Author Avatar: Howie's books star himself and his friend Delilah.
  • Award Snub: invokedHow Howie views his failure to win a Newboney award for his fourth book.
  • Death by Newbery Medal: Howie tries to make Tales #4 more tragic in order to win a Medal. It doesn't work.
  • Depending on the Writer: Used in-universe as the quality, direction, focus, and title vary depending on if Howie or Delilah is writing Tales From The House of Bunnicula.
  • The Power of Love: It's only when Stinky Dog starts thinking about how much he loves Delilah that Bathman is destroyed.
  • Product Placement: Howie likes to promote his previous books, though he claims to be simply giving helpful references to the reader.
  • Purple Prose: Lots in Howie's books. Even Harold tells him that he's going overboard, especially with self-description.
  • They Do: After several books of being good (if argumentative) friends, Howie and Delilah make the change to Official Couple at the end of The Odorous Adventures of Stinky Dog.
  • Title Drop: "Mindswappers From Asteroid 6™" is always emphasized and trademarked.


Tropes specific to the 1982 Ruby-Spears animated special:

  • Adaptational Heroism: Chester, in a characterization different than how he was depicted in the novels, actually helps Harold defend Bunnicula from the angry mob.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: In the climax, just when it seems that Bunnicula was about to get attacked by the wolves, Bunnicula is suddenly able to use vampire powers which trap the wolves in a vat at the plant.
  • Expy: Harold appears to bear a resemblance to that of Colonel from Disney's 101 Dalmatians. In addition to that, one of the Monroe sons wears clothes similar to that of Fred Jones.
  • Narrator: Much like the novels, Harold narrated the special.
  • Oh, Crap!: This was Harold and Chester's reaction upon discovering the wolf pack in the plant.
  • Savage Wolves: The climax of the special had Harold, Chester, and Bunnicula getting chased by a pack of wolves that were roaming around the vegetable processing plant.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: A lot of the neighbors suspect Bunnicula of being the culprit of draining all of the vegetables in the neighborhood as well as the accidents at the plant, despite not actually having torches and pitchforks.

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