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Literature / Clifford the Big Red Dog

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Clifford needed Emily,
So she chose him for her own
And her love made Clifford grow so big,
That the Howards had to leave their home

Clifford's a best friend anyone could know
He's the greatest dog ever; I really think so
Clifford's so loyal, he's there when you call
I love Clifford the Big Red Dog!
Jason Michael, "Clifford the Big Red Dog"

Clifford the Big Red Dog. If you're from North America, you've most probably heard of this series of picture books, although you probably didn't know that the first book was originally published in 1963. Since then, many, many more books have been published, as well as more than one animated adaptation.

The books, which were written by Norman Bridwell, star the adventures of the eponymous Clifford, a giant of a dog, and his owner, Emily Elizabeth Howard. Clifford originally started out as the runt of the litter, but Emily Elizabeth's love made him grow—and grow, and grow, and grow, ad infinitum. Well, not quite — he stopped growing once he was about twenty-five feet high, although his height isn't set in stone; it varies, depending on the story. He was way too big for the Howards to properly take care of Clifford in the city at this point, so they moved to the country (Birdwell Island in the TV adaptation) where he could have more room to move around.

In the 80s, Nelvana picked up the rights to the series and spun off six half-hour direct to video specials with it. Starring Alyson Court opposite Brent Titcomb, each special featured a typical slice-of-life storyline peppered with two songs, and was animated with No Fourth Wall, allowing Emily and Clifford (as a Talking Animal) to "converse" directly with the viewers, but strangely Emily and Clifford could never converse among themselves in English, as to leverage on Scholastic's then-recent study that children learned better through participation rather than through repetition. After that, the franchise reverted to books (unless you count in the discontinuity that is "Clifford's Sing Along Adventure", the live-action mixed footage direct to video special by Warner Home Video that was released in 1986).

This went on until the year 2000. Scholastic wanted to do another animated adaptation. Throwing away the old format and rebooting the continuity, it now featured Grey DeLisle as Emily Elizabeth, opposite John Ritter as Clifford, with two new characters added to the leading cast, these being timid bulldog T-Bone (Kel Mitchell) and hyperactive poodle Cleo (Cree Summer). The new version was such a phenomenal success that it ran for two seasons, spun off a movie, and even resulted in a licensed kiddie ride. Things weren't so rosy after the movie, however. John Ritter passed away shortly after of an aortic dissection on the set of 8 Simple Rules (at that point called 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter). While no new episodes of the original series were planned and a spin-off was in the works, the death of Mr. Ritter cemented the decision to end the original show. The spin-off was titled Clifford's Puppy Days. Two seasons were made before Scholastic decided to take a break from making a series out of the franchise again, while maintaining the series franchise. The books are still being printed, along with merchandise.

In May 2012, it was announced that Universal and Illumination Entertainment were working together to create a new Clifford movie, which would be based on the original book, but wouldn't have anything to do with the television series. However, the film went into Development Hell and Universal ended up moving on to other projects, causing the rights to expire. The rights were then picked up by Paramount, and Justin Malen (who penned the Baywatch movie) was attached as screenwriter. Watch the teaser here. The film was released on November 10, 2021 in theaters and on Paramount+.

Norman Bridwell passed away in December of 2014. Two more books were released after his death, but it seemed that the series has come to a final end following that.

...until a reboot was released in December 2019, produced and distributed by 9 Story Media Group for Prime Video, with episodes also being broadcast jointly on PBS Kids (which, for its purposes, labels it as "Season 3" on its video app). Further information revealed that the series shows Clifford and Emily Elizabeth talking directly to each other, that a massive new book launch in association with the series is planned, and that the Paramount film was still in the works at that time. Among the staff of the remake is Jennifer Oxley, known for series such as Peg + Cat and Wonder Pets!. Books featuring the new design and continuity began releasing in June 2019.

Clifford the Big Red Dog contains examples of:

  • 65-Episode Cartoon: The 2000 series. 40 episodes in season one, 25 episodes in season two, for a total of 130 segments. The show would've averted this trope with a third and final season, but John Ritter's unfortunate heart attack forced Scholastic to can the final season.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Cleo, T-Bone, Mac, and anyone else in the 2000's show except for Clifford and the Howards do not show up for the 2019 series, despite PBS claiming it to be a third season.
    • Emily Elizabeth's father is left out of the 2021 movie adaptation.
  • Adaptational Nice Girl: Mrs. Bleakman was a female version of Mr. Bleakman for the book couple they're based on. In the show, she serves as a nice counterpart to her grouchier husband.
  • Aesop Amnesia: You'd think all the lessons Jetta learns about friendship would start to sink in at some point.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Many of the animals have nonstandard fur color like bright red and purple, mainly the first part. Some, like T-Bone's yellow and Mac's blue, can be interpreted as exaggerations of colors like blonde and grey, but then there are ones like Cleo, the purple poodle.
    • The eponymous dog from the Speckle stories is yellow, whereas his friend Luna is an orange raccoon, and his other friend Ravi is a partially blue panda.
  • An Aesop: Each episode has its own lesson to teach, but recurring, broader morals are found in the “Clifford’s Big Idea” segments, such as “playing fair”, “working together”, and “believing in yourself”.
  • Animal Jingoism: Subverted in “The Difference Between Cats and Dogs”, where the moral is judging people on an individual basis and not based on an arbitrary group that they’re a part of. Clifford, T-Bone, and Cleo try to chase two cats out of T-Bone’s backyard because they believe that’s what they are supposed to do as dogs. They rely on stereotypes of cats to come up with plans that backfire and only amuse the cats, who, much to the dogs’ shock, do not adhere to these cliches.
  • Animal Talk:
    • In the 2000 Scholastic series, Clifford and his animal friends can talk to each other, but humans can not understand them; whenever a human is around, all that comes out is barking.
      • The dogs’ ability to communicate with other animals is a bit inconsistent. Monkeys, cats, and elephants are capable of speech, while rabbits, whales, squirrels, skunks, frogs, seals, crabs, and birds seem to be completely speechless. The prequel series introduce Daffodil and Norville, who can talk and are respectively a rabbit and a bird, making things more confusing.
    • In the 2019 series, Clifford and his animal friends talk both to each other and to the humans, though only Emily Elizabeth can understand them.
    • And let's not forget in the Really Big Movie, there's a talking chihuahua and dachshund, along with a talking ferret and cow, to the side and for luck.
  • Animated Adaptation: Three television series, a series of videos from The '80s, and one movie.
  • Art Evolution:
    • Also, there's a major art shift between the 80s specials (which were much more faithful to Norman Bridwell's illustrations) and the 2000s TV series.
    • The 2019 series has an entirely new look that doesn't look quite like anything before (though Clifford's appearance is more faithful to that from the books) and most closely resembles the style of Peg + Cat, which was designed by the same people.
  • Artistic License – Law: One episode has Mr. Bleakman convincing Sheriff Lewis to ban people from bringing their dogs to the park all because he was fed up that they had disrupted the peace and quiet he desired while watching the birds. It seems highly unlikely that such a radical measure would be enacted on the protests of a single citizen over such petty circumstances, and it would almost certainly take more than the town sheriff to actually approve it.
  • Attention Whore: Jetta, especially in "And Baby Makes Four", when she spends the entire episode trying to get attention away from her new baby brother at his arrival party.
  • Babysitting Episode: There are a few:
    • “Babysitter Blues”: Mr. Bleakman babysits Clifford and tries to paint his “masterpiece” (which went from a self-portrait, to a tree, to the ocean, to a sailboat) while putting up with Clifford’s shenanigans. He ends up painting himself and Clifford having fun at the beach.
    • ”Then Came Bob”: Vaz babysits Bob, a dog Dr. Dihn got from the dog pound, whose troublesome behaviour proves problematic, especially when Clifford is blamed for his actions.
    • ”A Job Well Read”: Jetta babysits her baby brother while her mother prepares a party. Charley and Emily Elizabeth end up helping her out.
  • Baffled by Own Biology: In "Tummy Trouble", Clifford, T-Bone, and Cleo have no idea why their bellies hurt after they eat too many treats.
  • Balloon Belly:
    • Clifford, T-Bone, and Cleo after eating a lot of dog treats in "Tummy Trouble".
    • Frankie the chihuahua in "Little Big Pup".
    Frankie: Oh sure, I feel bigger, in my tummy.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • In “Dog for a Day", Charley envies the lives of the dogs so much and wishes he were a dog so that he didn't have all the responsibilities of a human. He gets his wish, only to find that he can't enjoy the things he does as a kid. It all turns out to be just a dream, with Charley now appreciating what he is.
    • In “The Dog Park”, Mr. Bleakman becomes so fed up with the dogs interfering with his birdwatching in the park that he actually convinces the sheriff to ban all dogs from the park just so he can finally have some peace and quiet. Instead nobody comes to the park because they can't enjoy the company of their dogs. This forces Mr. Bleakman to realize that he had been selfish in his actions.
  • Be Yourself: A common Aesop, such as in “Tough Enough”, “T-Bone, Dog About Town”, “Clifford’s Charm House”, and “Guess Who’s Coming to Birdwell”.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Clifford of course - extra emphasis on big. He may not be the Trope Namer but he is certainly one of the strongest examples of this trope. He is literally as big as a house and is a such a lovable sweetheart.
  • Birthday Episode: “Clifford’s Big Surprise”, “The Best Party Ever” and “The Best Gift”, which are respectively about Clifford, Emily Elizabeth, and Caroline’s (Emily’s mom) birthdays.
  • Black Bead Eyes: Everyone except for Clifford, who is the only character to have normal eyes; this trope is played straight with his puppy counterpart. Averted with the character designs in Clifford's Really Big Movie.
  • Blatant Lies: Cleo lies about having a bruised paw in “That’s Snow Lie”, and her lack of honesty becomes increasingly sloppier when she keeps picking a new paw to act as the bruised one, which she blames on the injuries “spreading”.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Clifford uses new dog Arty’s “Am I right, or am I right?” after convincing him to play the way he and his friends play at the end of “Led Astray”.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: In two different episodes, Mr. Bleakman and the other characters teach each other something. In "Party Pooper", everyone throwing the party at Emily Elizabeths' home teach Mr. Bleakman that trying new things can be a good thing, as it opens up one to new experiences. In another episode "Lights Out", Mr. Bleakman also finds his stride when he teaches everybody on Birdwell Island to make due without their usual technology using old-fashioned means.
  • Bull Seeing Red: In one of the original books, Clifford's Family, Clifford's sister Bonnie is a farm dog who herds sheep into their pen and Clifford wants to help by herding cows into the farm. One of them is a bull and nearly charges at Clifford due to him being red; Clifford avoids it by jumping over the barn.
  • Camping Episode: “Camping It Up”. The Howards go camping and Emily’s friends tag along, but Jetta spends the episode trying to import her way of life into the wilderness, to the point of bringing stuff like a microwave, a kiddie pool, portable video games, a TV with a VCR, and a computer.
  • Canine Confusion: Enforced for Clifford, who's deliberately written as being unrealistically large (said to be the result of Emily Elizabeth's love for him) and red, while no real-life dogs are red.
  • Canis Major: Again, when they say "big", they aren't kidding.
  • Canon Foreigner: All the characters except Emily, Clifford, and Emily's parents were created specifically for the three shows.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: T-Bone when he tries to impress Mimi in "T-Bone, Dog About Town".
  • Cardiovascular Love: The second T-Bone sees Mimi in “T-Bone, Dog About Town”, his eyes turn into hearts. It happens again when he spots her on the binoculars in “Big-Hearted T-Bone”.
  • Casting Gag:
    • Having T-Bone's friend Hamburger being specifically voiced by Kenan Thompson. Also, their fast-food-inspired names are a Shout-Out to the Good Burger sketches seen on All That.
    • In the 2019 reboot, Alyson Court serves as the voice director for the show. She was Emily Elizabeth in the 1988 direct-to-video specials and also hosted Get Set For Life, the programming block that aired the 2000 animated series in Canada.
  • Catchphrase: Cleo's "Have I ever steered you wrong?"
  • Central Theme: Accepting how different we all are.
  • Character Narrator: All of the books are narrated by Emily Elizabeth.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Mac cheats against T-Bone in order to win a race against him in return for his collar, putting forth the challenge almost purely to spite T-Bone. He wins, only to feel guilty over his actions and insist that T-Bone keep his collar, promising to beat him fair and square next time.
  • Circus Episode: Clifford’s favorite circus troupe visits Birdwell Island to perform in “Circus Stars”, and he, T-Bone, and Cleo become part of the show after learning that Gordo the elephant has a cold.
  • Clueless Aesop: "A New Friend" introduces KC, a three-legged dog who Cleo fears at first but eventually grows to like. The intended Aesop was to be nice to disabled people, but a 2008 study found that Cleo's fear caused children to take the moral literally, saying that it was about being kind to three-legged dogs. On the contrary, an edited version where Cleo's fear was removed tested better with children, as they understood the moral. It's likely that the 11-minute runtime and usage of a dog in lieu of a disabled human made the execution wonky.
  • Compressed Vice: In “Jane and the Beanstalk” Clifford is randomly a bit of a crybaby who won’t stop crying when Emily and the others are rehearsing a sad scene during a play, as if he believes it’s real. It’s just about the only time we ever see him cry in the original series.
  • Cone of Shame: Cleo got to wear one in the episode "Cleo Gets A Cone" because she was itching a spot behind her ear too much. At the end of the episode, Mac starts itching, and Cleo tells him that he'd look good in a cone.
  • Continuity Reboot: Between the Nelvana videos and the Scholastic self-produced TV series. The former made no mention of Birdwell Island and/or any of Clifford's or Emily's friends that the latter is much more commonly known for.
    • There is also one between the two PBS shows. The only things from the 2000 original that survived the transition to the 2019 reboot are the setting of Birdwell Island and Emily Elizabeth’s surname being Howard.
  • Cool Teacher: The kids in Ms. Carrington’s class consider her to be one, as shown by their collective disappointment when she announces she is moving to the mainland in “Wedding Bell Blues”.
  • Cool Toy: Cybo in “Cyber Puppy Problems” is waterproof, has a built-in lamp, can fly by spinning his tail around, and is exceedingly obedient.
  • Coordinated Clothes:
    • Sheriff Lewis and T-Bone, and later T-Bone and Mac, in “Clothes Don’t Make the Dog”.
    • In “The Best Gift”, Jetta tries to convince Emily Elizabeth that the best gift for a mother from her daughter is a set of outfits that match. Not only does Clifford have an Imagine Spot where Emily and Caroline both wear Emily’s usual attire, but when Emily tries out various outfits at a store, she ends up dressing up exactly like Jetta, ponytail and all, and of course, this outfit ends up being Jetta’s favorite.
  • Couch Gag: A subtle example with the 2000 show, as one can discern whether a given episode is going to focus primarily on Emily Elizabeth and the other human characters or Clifford and the other dogs based on who reads the title on the Episode Title Card: If Emily Elizabeth narrates the title of the episode, it'll most likely be a human-focused episode and the dogs will talk very little (if at all). Conversely, if Cleo narrates it, the viewer can expect an episode focused on the dogs, with the humans being relegated to a B-plot or otherwise having a minimized role in the episode.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover of the Warner Home Video release Clifford's Sing-Along Adventure had a black girl hugging Clifford. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but fans are used to seeing Emily Elizabeth hugging Clifford and not some random kid. Hence said fans were understandably worried that Warner had given Emily Elizabeth a Race Lift.
  • Crush Blush: T-Bone blushes when Cleo mockingly sings about his crush on Mimi in “Mimi’s Back in Town”.
  • Crying Wolf: "The Dog Who Cried Woof" has Cleo repeatedly telling the others a ghost skunk named Wiffy, who she'd told ghost stories about, was after her as a prank and they finally get fed up with it and leave after Clifford sees she's playing another trick. When she gets her bow stuck on a bush, she calls for help, but they are too far away to hear her. Then a real skunk appears and sprays her. Meanwhile, Clifford and T-Bone hear that Cleo still hasn't arrived home, so they return to the woods to look for her, and they smell that she got sprayed. Cleo apologizes to Clifford and T-Bone for her cruel pranks and promises never to do it again. The next day, after receiving several baths in a row to get rid of the smell, a now complimentary-odored Cleo exits the vet's office where Clifford and T-Bone are waiting outside.
    Cleo: Don't worry, you guys. I've learned my lesson. The stinky way!
  • Cultural Translation: In the U.K., the show was redubbed with British actors. (Tom Eastwood being the voice of Clifford, Ben Small voicing T-Bone, Regine Candler as Cleo, and Joanna Ruiz as Emily Elizabeth, for example)
  • Cut Short: The show had a third and final season in the production phase in 2003, which would have concluded with Clifford getting married and having babies. Unfortunately, that same year also saw the death of John Ritter, who suffered a fatal aortic dissection on the set of 8 Simple Rules. This resulted in the show's third season being canned.
  • Cute Kitten: Billy and Betty, which Clifford lampshades in “The Trouble with Kittens”.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: In-universe, Clifford and T-Bone call out Cleo for Crying Wolf and claiming Wiffy the skunk got her; they were actually worried both times. She doesn't listen, only for karma to hit in the form of a real skunk and being trapped in the woods.
  • Cute Giant: Clifford himself, of course, to the point that he provides the page image.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Betty and Billy, two kittens introduced in “The Difference Between Cats and Dogs”, return in “A Big Help” and “The Trouble with Kittens”, which are appropriately two segments of the same episode.
  • Detective Animal: K.C., Clifford, T-Bone, and Cleo in “Doggie Detectives”.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: Very much so for the animated series, so much in fact, that almost any in-universe sing-song is sung to the tune of the theme song, such as Emily Elizabeth's father's song about raking leaves, or Cleo's mocking love-song about T-Bone and Mimi.
  • Dude, Where's My Reward?: When the dogs start getting treats for delivering newspapers in “The Big Fetch”, they start feeling entitled to the rewards, especially Cleo. So, they take the recycled newspapers and dump piles of them in front of every house in the neighborhood. They are surprised when people are upset, and Cleo in particular is even more shocked when Emily cleans up the dogs’ mess without expecting anything in return.
  • Easily Forgiven: Mac cheats against T-Bone in order to win a race against him. When he confesses, his friends take the news just a tad too well.
  • Edutainment Show: Of the moral/life lessons variety, especially in the “Clifford’s Big Idea” segments.
  • Embarrassment Plot:
    • ”Embarrassing Moments”: After Vaz rips his pants and embarrasses himself, his friends share their most embarrassing moments to make him feel better.
    • The recurring theme in “That’s Snow Lie” is the fear of embarrassing yourself at something you’ve never done before, which prompts Cleo to lie about having a bruised paw.
  • Ensemble Cast: Although Clifford is officially the main character, the 2000 series focuses on the other main and supporting characters almost, if not as often as the red canine himself. Emily, T-Bone, Cleo, Jetta, Mac, Charley, and even Vaz and Mr. Bleakman get multiple episodes that focus on them specifically, with Clifford either sharing a main role or becoming a supporting character.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: Happens frequently.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The books and cartoon are about a dog named Clifford who is big and red.
  • Exact Words:
    • Becomes a plot point in "Doggie Garden"; the kids state that "almost anything grows on Birdwell Island", and Cleo takes the "anything" part a bit too literally, opting to grow a garden full of dog toys. Needless to say, it doesn't work out.
    • Another good example is when Clifford volunteers to watch T-Bone's pile of leaves while he's away from the group, intending to jump on them later. Clifford however gives into temptation and takes the jump without T-Bone's permission, resulting in his entire pile being blown away. Clifford resolves to collect every single leaf he can from the pile, as in the exact same leaves that have now been blown all across the island, even rejecting every other leaf he can sense was not from T-Bone's pile. Naturally, Cleo thinks he's being ridiculous, and yet somehow he manages to pull it off all before T-Bone gets back.
    • The prohibition sign in “Stinky Friends” shows a human silhouette, so Cleo assumes that dogs are still allowed to play in the bushy fields.
  • Expository Theme Tune: The 2000 series’ theme song:
    Clifford needed Emily,
    So, she chose him for her own,
    And her love made Clifford grow so big,
    That the Howards had to leave their home.
    So, they packed up the family car,
    And the Howards left the city
    They moved to Birdwell Island,
    and found many new friends,
    There to greet Clifford and Emily!
  • Face Your Fears: Clifford and Cleo spend the entirety of “The Ears Have It” trying to help T-Bone overcome his fear of loud noises.
  • Fainting: Jetta when she meets Courtney Amber in “Fan Mail”.
  • Fantasy Sequence: When the dogs roleplay in “Flood of Imagination”, whatever that pops up in their imagination is visually represented.
  • Feigning Healthiness: Played with in "An Itchy Patch". Clifford's not really sick, but he has a very itchy rash on his back and refuses to go to the vet, so he tries his hardest not to scratch himself in front of Emily Elizabeth. Eventually, the jig is up when he gets caught rubbing his back on a bridge.
  • Feud Episode: “Who Moved My Bone?”. Cleo and T-Bone fight after the former accuses the latter of stealing her bone, and they “end” their friendship, forcing Clifford to help them make up.
  • Fictional Holiday: The people of Birdwell Island seem to have the most random traditions, such as “Silly Sports Day”, “Topsy Turvy Day,” the “Kite Flying Festival”, and yearly parades and model-building contests that kids can participate in.
  • The Film of the Book: The live-action/animated movie qualifies as one.
  • Firehouse Dalmatian:
    • Clifford's brother from the book, "Clifford the Firehouse Dog".
    • Tucker from the 2019 series is a Dalmatian puppy who belongs to Fire Chief Franklin and resides in the fire station.
  • Fishing Episode: “Fishing Lessons”, although it’s more about Charley not teaching Emily how to fish despite his promise rather than fishing itself.
  • Five-Token Band: Both the main groups of dogs and kids count:
    • Among the dogs, there is:
      • Clifford, a big red Labrador Retriever.
      • T-Bone, a yellow and orange bulldog.
      • Cleo, a purple poodle.
      • Mac, a blue greyhound.
    • The kids consist of:
      • Emily Elizabeth, who is from the city and naturally stands out due to her pet.
      • Charley, who is of Jamaican descent.
      • Jetta, who is rich and seems to have been born and raised on Birdwell Island.
      • Vaz, who is of Spanish descent.
    • Both groups have a disabled friend that occasionally hangs out with them: the dogs have K.C., who’s three-legged, and the kids have Mary, who’s in a wheelchair.
  • Flashback: The books are told by Emily Elizabeth as a flashback to a past event.
  • Fluffy Dry Cat: Clifford, T-Bone, and Cleo’s fur poofs up after the townspeople give them baths in “Stinky Friends”.
  • Food as Bribe: Mac can and will put his pride aside to do anything if he gets a treat in return.
  • For Want Of A Nail: When Mr. Bleakman bans dogs from the park, he's confused when the park is empty the next morning, save for him and his wife. Mrs. Bleakman goes into a long explanation about how everyone's reason for being there is because of the dogs.
  • Forgiveness: The entire point of “Forgive and Forget”.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: All the humans have four digits on each hand, and the pets have the animal equivalent in three digits.
  • Free-Range Pets: The dogs all walk around town on their own, even Clifford despite the fact he's a hazard.
  • A Friend in Need: This trope shares its name with an episode where Jetta insists on doing tasks on her own, and stubbornly refuses to admit that she needs her friends’ help until the episode’s ending, way after Emily and Charley helped her out due to their friendship.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Emily Elizabeth, even if you ignore the fact that her bond with her dog is so strong, he turned into a giant. “Little Clifford” establishes that she is passionate about dogs in general, but she also takes care of a baby bird in “And Birdy Makes 3”, and in “Islander of the Year”, she nominates Dr. Dihn because she always helps animals out, including baby whales. She’s even capable of having fun with wild seals. Her only negative on-screen interaction with an animal is a crab pinching her finger. In “When I Grow Up”, she shockingly reveals that she wants to become a veterinarian when she grows up.
  • Fun Personified: T-Bone learns that brightening people’s day is what makes him special in “Special T-Bone”.
  • Gentle Giant: Clifford, emphasis on giant.
  • Gigantic Adults, Tiny Babies: It's because he was so tiny as a pup that Emily Elizabeth wished he would grow bigger.
  • A Girl and Her X: Emily and Clifford are a girl and her big red dog. Emily is the recipient of morals from the stories, and grows from her interactions with Clifford. The TV series expanded more on Clifford's point of view as a dog and what he learns as well.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: T-Bone in “Big Hearted T-Bone”, when he has to choose between properly taking care of Kiki and playing with Mimi.
  • Good Luck Charm: Turns out that Emily has a “lucky stone” that affects her confidence, as seen in “Lucky Charm”.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Emily Elizabeth: young, blonde, with enough love to overcome basic biology.
  • Halloween Episode: "Boo!" The town watches a spooky movie at the beach. Jetta continually boasts about how brave she is.
  • Handicapped Badass: K.C. is a dog with only three legs, but he is perfectly capable of doing sports and fun things despite this.
  • Hates Baths: Cleo is not fond of going to the groomers, even though as a poodle she needs a regular trim. “No Baths for Cleo” is all about her disdain for cleanliness.
  • Haughty "Hmph":
    • Jetta and Mac have done this quite a few times, especially in the earlier episodes.
    • Both Emily Elizabeth and Charley are guilty of this in “Clifford on Parade” when they disagree on what float to make for the Birdwell Island parade.
    Charley: Pirate costumes would be more fun.
    Emily Elizabeth: Well, I think basketball uniforms are better, and I like this float. (points to Clifford wearing the basketball-themed accessories)
    Charley: What was wrong with my float?
    Emily Elizabeth: Nothing! Mine is just better!
    Charley: Well, I think mine is better.
    Emily Elizabeth: Then why don’t you go ahead and do yours alone and I’ll do mine alone?
    Charley: Fine!
    Emily Elizabeth: Fine!
    Charley: I’ll do mine.
    Emily Elizabeth: And I’ll do mine.
    Charley: Fine!
    Emily Elizabeth: Fine!
    (They turn back and cross their arms. Clifford starts whimpering, and is comforted by Emily and Charley)
    Emily Elizabeth: It’s okay Clifford, we just can’t agree on what to do together.
    Charley: So, we’re each going to do a float alone.
    (They look at each other, turn back, cross their arms again, and go “hmph”)
  • Heel–Face Turn: Madison from the movie, despite her earlier slasher smile and encouragement in her father's plans, suddenly pressures her dad into letting Emily take Clifford back.
  • Height Angst:
    • T-Bone is the smallest the main dogs, and occasionally feels self-conscious about it.
    • When the In-Universe best basketball player Skyscraper Jackson pays a visit to the Howards in “Short-Changed” and starts spending a lot of time with Clifford, Emily Elizabeth starts feeling insecure about her height and her ability to effectively take care of Clifford.
    • Frankie from “Little Big Pup” develops a complex regarding his size after meeting Clifford, and expresses a desire to become bigger. He gets over it by the end of the episode.
  • Hiccup Hijinks: “Clifford’s Hiccups”. Said hiccups prove to be quite problematic; not only are they loud, but they literally make things jump.
  • Humans Are Special: The general message of “Special T-Bone”, and a philosophy Emily subscribes to according to Clifford. Because of the episode’s focus on T-Bone, “humans” might as well include any sentient being.
  • Imagine Spot: These very frequently take place, courtesy of Clifford most of the time.
  • In Defence Of Storytelling: “Flood of Imagination” shows how the dogs entertained themselves by acting out a story on the spot. It is also established many times, most obviously during the Speckle segments, that Emily reading stories to Clifford is one of the activities that strengthens their bond the most.
  • Infant Sibling Jealousy: Jetta in “Baby Makes Four”, whose attempts at drawing the attention away from her newborn baby brother grow more desperate as the episode goes on.
  • In-Series Nickname: Clifford, Mac, and especially Cleo tend to simply call T-Bone “T”.
  • Insistent Terminology: The dogs always call their owners “their humans”. Justified since the dogs are semi-anthropomorphized, and as a result, owner-pet relationships do not seem be to very hierarchical.
    • In “Jetta’s Sneak Peek”, Emily and Jetta always call their diaries “journals”.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: In “Little Big Pup”, Cleo and T-Bone comment on how small Frankie is despite the huge billboard he appears in. Frankie then says that it’s impossible for a dog to be as big as the billboard, and of course, as soon as he says that, Clifford shows up.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: “He’s Wonderful Mr. Bleakman” is a variation. Emily Elizabeth expresses her occasional frustrations with Mr. Bleakman, and admits that she sometimes wishes he wasn’t her neighbor, but nothing supernatural happens and Mr. Bleakman doesn’t disappear. She and Charley simply think of the good things Mr. Bleakman has done and conclude that life wouldn’t be as good without him.
  • It's All Junk: Mac’s thoughts on Clifford’s miscellaneous hoarded objects in “Clifford Cleans His Doghouse”…at least until Clifford finds something that makes him think of Mac, which makes the greyhound change his mind.
  • Jaw Drop: Jetta's jaw drops in "A Friend in Need" after she arrives back at the park and sees how Emily Elizabeth and the others finished cleaning it up for her, despite her insistence that she didn't need help.
  • Jealous Pet:
    • When Mrs. Diller babysits her sister’s puppy, Susie, in “Who Me, Jealous?”, Cleo becomes jealous of the attention the puppy is receiving from her owner, especially when everyone, including Clifford and T-Bone, starts calling Susie “cute”.
    • In “Clothes Don’t Make the Dog”, once Birdwell Islanders start calling T-Bone adorable and giving him treats because of his new sweater, Mac becomes jealous of the attention T-Bone is getting and convinces him to ditch the shirt by telling him that “adorable” means “silly” when referring to dogs.
    • Mac becomes one again in “Cyber Puppy Problems”, when Jetta’s new birthday gift (a toy robotic dog) gets all of her attention, much to his dismay and disbelief. He even starts thinking that Jetta might prefer her new toy over him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Mr. Bleakman. Heck, this trope is basically the premise of “He’s Wonderful Mr. Bleakman”.
      • Mr. Bleakman’s heart of gold especially shines in “Fan Mail”, where he not only politely tells Clifford to do his digging somewhere else instead of grouchily shouting at him, but arranges a meeting between the kids and his niece (who happens to be a singer they like) once he finds out about Emily Elizabeth’s letter.
    • Jetta, Mac, and Cleo have bigger egos than the other characters and have their moments of selfishness, but they ultimately care for their friends.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Mr. Bleakman is presented as a grumpy old man who easily gets annoyed at Clifford some of the time, with his mere presence being a pet peeve. However, considering some of the stuff Clifford does (trespassing into his neighbors property and/or making a mess to it, licking the man and making him take a hard fall, etc.), it can be hard not to see he`s in the right for some points of the series.
  • Jerkass Realization: Cleo goes through this in “Fluffed Up Cleo” after realizing that her bragging about her fluffy fur and victory in a contest is boring from Clifford and T-Bone’s perspective after being similarly bored to death by Mac’s own bragging.
  • Kaiju: Clifford himself is approx 25 feet tall, about as tall as a Tyrannosaurus rex, which qualifies him as a (friendly) kaiju. It's become aninternet joke.
  • Karma Houdini: In "False Friends", Cleo gets a new playground assembled in her backyard and Mac insists on being the first to play on it, spending the episode conning his way onto it at the expense of T-Bone and Clifford. Eventually Cleo sprains her paw while playing and Mac doesn't care enough to help her inside or stay by her side, leaving her to fend for herself. Cleo realizes his deceit, but Mac is never forced to answer for it in any meaningful way. We can only assume she never let him access her playground again, but we never get to see that on-screen.
  • The Kiddie Ride: The infamous Clifford ride made by Jolly Rogers of the UK. They're actually pretty common worldwide, you may have seen one at your local mall.
  • The Killjoy: Mr. Bleakman, although his fun side occasionally pops up, such as in “Babysitter Blues”, “Potlucker Party Pooper”, and “Fan Mail”.
    • Clifford is indirectly labelled as one by Arty after standing up to the latter in “Led Astray”, although Arty changes his mind not even a minute later.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Cleo and Mac in "Cleo Gets a Cone". While they don't say it to her face, they do talk about how "ridiculous" a dog wearing a cone looks, completely unsympathetic that the dog's wearing the cone to heal from something. By the end of the episode, both are soon forced to wear one themselves. Clifford and T-Bone, who don't make such remarks, are completely fine.
    • Jetta in “Promises, Promises”. She cancels her plans with Emily Elizabeth at the last minute because an older girl invited her to go somewhere, only for that older girl to cancel her plans with Jetta at the last minute for the same reasons Jetta canceled her plans with Emily.
    • A positive example in “Welcome to the Doghouse”. How does Clifford get his trademark huge doghouse? The people of Birdwell Island build it for him as a reward for the countless times he helped them with their problems.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Everyone in the show wears the exact same outfit on a daily basis.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: The Paramount film is one, with Clifford himself being rendered as a CGI animated character not unlike Sonic in Sonic the Hedgehog (2020).
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Jetta might be a snotty Rich Bitch in training, but she's still part of the group (and Clifford likes her). Mac is a rare male example.
  • Loved by All: Pretty much everyone on Birdwell Island loves Clifford. Even the Bleakmans have moments where they admit they care about Clifford and like him. There's even an episode called "Everyone Loves Clifford." The 80s theme song even lampshades this.
    Here comes Clifford, everyone loves Clifford...
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The Really Big Tribute CD. Jody Gray loves this trope. They got Jody Gray to write the score and lyrics to the CD. Cue Emily singing about how great Clifford is- to a tune that sounded bitter. This also happens to some extent in the movie, who's music and lyrics are, unsurprisingly, scored and written by Jody Gray. Although the movie leans towards Mood Whiplash instead.
  • May It Never Happen Again:
  • Meaningful Name: Subverted in “Wedding Bell Blues”. The kids assume their new teacher will be grouchy and crabby because her name is Mrs. Grumbly, but she turns out to be friendly and enthusiastic about her profession, being able to guess who Charley, Jetta, and Emily Elizabeth are just by interacting with them for less than a minute and with the brief descriptions Ms. Carrington provided.
    • Played straight with Mr. Bleakman, though; he can be quite cynical.
  • Merchandise-Driven: To some degree with the 2000 television series. Not so far with the 2019 series, which doesn't yet have any known merchandise to date, other than tie-in books.
  • Mistakes Are Not the End of the World: Probably one of the most consistent messages in the entire series. So many stories, both in the books and in the cartoons, have major goof ups on one or many characters’ part, and no matter how humiliating and frustrating the consequences are, the characters are forgiven because everyone makes mistakes.
  • Mood Whiplash: The music from the movie. For something that's supposed to be fun, they have extremely depressing songs about how you gotta hit the lows before you can find the highs.
  • Motor Mouth: One of the other dogs on the island Al, who likes to broadcast their beach ball games while he himself also happens to be playing. This often leads to him being caught unprepared when the ball heads his way.
  • The Moving Experience: The entire plot of “Goodbye T-Bone” consists of Clifford and Cleo trying to make sure that T-Bone has the best time possible on what they think is his last day on Birdwell Island.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: A rather literal example. In “Special Delivery”, Clifford is delivering a present that is meant to be mailed to Emily Elizabeth's cousin for her birthday. When he runs into Cleo and T-Bone at the post office, Cleo's first instinct is to take the package and open it to find out what it is, even though it's not hers to play with. It turns out to be a rubber ball that automatically self-inflates, and when they can't get it to deflate Clifford sits on the ball to force it in the box. It ends about as well as you'd expect.
    • The conflict in “Screaming for Ice Cream” is caused by Samuel’s ice cream machine going haywire, and all of Charley’s attempts at fixing the machine only making it pour even more ice cream than before.
  • Nice Guy: Clifford is so sweet, helpful, and lovable its hard to not fall in love with him. Even though he is large and can cause trouble because of this...admit it, you wish you had a dog as wonderful as Clifford
  • Nice Girl: Emily Elizabeth is a very kind and sweet little girl who is very responsible of Clifford and loves him oh so deeply.
  • The Nicknamer: Arty from “Led Astray” gives the main dogs nicknames, such as “Red” for Clifford, and “Curly” for Cleo. He drops the nicknames once he starts properly bonding with them at the end of the episode.
  • No Antagonist:
    • Jetta Handover is perhaps the closest thing to a recurring antagonist, but her worst crimes usually just center around her need for attention and occasional annoyance with Clifford.
    • Mr. Bleakman is the grouchy next door neighbor of the Howard family as he happens to get impatient and has a strong on-and-off dislike towards Clifford and other dogs (a kind of love-hate relationship), and he doesn't allow anyone on his property unless he invites them, but sometimes shows sympathy for his neighbors.
  • No Name Given: In the books, Emily Elizabeth’s parents are just that, her parents, and are referred to as such. In the 2000 series, they are given the names “Mark” and “Caroline”.
  • Nobody Poops: If you google "Where does Clifford poop?" you'll get some highly disturbing results. That said, the very idea pretty much cements this trope...
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Clifford is the only character without Black Bead Eyes until the movie. Or Clifford's Puppy Days, if you count that.
  • Obsessive Hobby Episode: “Vaz Goes Down the Tube” is all about Vaz getting a new satellite dish and watching TV at the expense of his friends, other hobbies, and school projects.
  • Ode to Family: In a non-musical example, Emily Elizabeth’s gift for her mother in “The Best Gift” is a poem about her and how much Emily appreciates their time spent together.
  • Only Known by Initials: It’s unknown if K.C. stands for something or if that’s actually the dog’s full name.
  • Only One Name:
    • The dogs, obviously.
    • Emily Elizabeth in the books. She only got the surname “Howard” in the 2000 series.
    • Charley, Vaz, Mary, and their respective relatives’ surnames are never revealed. In an inversion, the given names of several adults, such as Sheriff Lewis and Mrs. Diller, are never revealed.
  • Opaque Nerd Glasses: Mr. Bleakman doesn't have pupils from his glasses, though averted in the movie when he's given the same eyes as everyone.
  • Our Founder: Birdwell Island was discovered by, and named after, Captain Birdwell, as revealed in “Captain Birdwell’s Treasure”.
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: The inciting incident in “Goodbye T-Bone” is triggered by Cleo overhearing a conversation between Sheriff Lewis and Pedro about Sheriff Lewis moving…meaning that T-Bone is also moving. What Cleo didn’t hear was Sheriff Lewis saying that they were only moving a couple of blocks away from their current home.
  • Out Sick: In one book, Clifford subs for a circus elephant (even dressing up as an elephant) because the elephant has "a cold in his nose".
  • Overly Long Name: The main character of the book Emily reads to Cosmo in “A Job Well Read” is called “Fisherman Phineas Flounder’s One and Only Amazing Abalone Seashell Boy from the Lost Lagoon”. It’s a name that will take him far.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: When Jetta lies about owning a giant pet parrot in “Jetta’s Tall Tale”, she “proves” that her parrot exists by strapping a giant fake beak and a bunch of fake feathers onto Clifford. All the other kids, including Emily Elizabeth, fall for it.
  • Parody Name: Clifford, Cleo, T-Bone, and Mac form a band in “Doghouse Rock” and call themselves the "Backstreet Dogs".
  • Passionate Sports Girl: Emily Elizabeth obviously loves sports. She is on the Birdwell Island soccer team, has expressed an interest in basketball, and is considered to be the best at rollerblading out of everyone on Birdwell Island.
  • Performance Anxiety:
    • Cleo suffers from this in “Limelight Fright”, and is unable to do her dancing number during the group’s first show, but overcomes it with Clifford and T-Bone’s help, and gets so over her stage fright that she continues dancing long after the show has ended.
    • Jetta suffers from a milder case in “Clifford and the Beanstalk”. She gets stressed out when the show starts because she didn’t practice her lines, which forces her to give the Jane role to Emily, who also auditioned and unlike Jetta, memorized the lines.
    • Mary didn't want to do her piano performance in "Stage Struck" as she is afraid of doing it in front of people. Emily Elizabeth tells that she would perform with her, but this was changed as she was stuck in a magic box when Vaz was trying to find the key. Mary was afraid of doing it by herself, but Emily encourages her that she can do it, and just reminds her that she can by just imagining that there's only Clifford. She gets over it when she gets more confidence.
  • Photo Montage: In “Another Fine Mess”, the kids’ time spent at the pond is mostly told through a montage of photographs taken by Vaz.
    • ”What Makes Me Special” starts with a compilation of pictures in Emily’s photo album.
  • Phrase Catcher:
    • If the human characters hear barking, loud footsteps, and everything around them starts tumbling down, you can expect them to say “Here comes Clifford!”.
    • A fair amount of episodes end with Emily affectionately hugging Clifford after someone praises him, and saying “He’s Clifford, my big red dog!” or a variation depending on the episode, such as “Clifford, my tie-dyed dog” in “Tie-Dye Clifford”.
  • Picture Day: There’s not an episode about it, but Emily recounts an embarrassing picture day where she had to take her picture without her bangs after she got gum stuck in them in “Embarrassing Moments”.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Sheriff Lewis doesn't seem to do any police work. It would seem that Birdwell Island is a peaceful, law-abiding place and there are no crooks or crime. There's even an empty jail cell.
  • Platonic Valentine:
    • "Clifford’s Big Heart" is Valentine’s Day-themed, but doesn’t really involve romance, notwithstanding the brief scene with the Bleakmans. Instead, it focuses on the bond between a pet and its owner (Clifford and Emily Elizabeth).
    • ”Cleo’s Valentine Surprise” also focuses on platonic relationships, but this time it’s specifically about the dogs’ friendship.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The eponymous sweater in “Jetta’s Sweater” is a gift to Jetta from her grandma, who is visiting Birdwell Island. Turns out that this is the same sweater Jetta just gave Emily Elizabeth. Instead of being upfront about it, Jetta spends the episode trying to trick Emily into giving her the sweater back, which leads to her grandma seeing Emily with the sweater when they meet, much to Jetta’s dismay.
  • The Power of Love: The franchise’s entire premise essentially amounts to this, with Emily Elizabeth loving her dog to the point where he went from the runt of the litter to a behemoth and all.
  • Power Outage Plot: The entire island’s power goes out in “Lights Out” after the townspeople collectively use too much electricity. Although most characters are initially dismayed, they find ways to adjust to the lack of electricity.
  • Pseudolympics: In “Nobody’s Perfect”, Emily Elizabeth’s class participates in the annual “Silly Sports Day” which includes juggling “jiggly bags” that contain green slime, and doing a long jump into whipped cream.
  • Public Domain Stories: In “Clifford the Pirate King”, the kids read Treasure Island and throw a party based on the book, although the party ends up being more about pirate cliches in general. Justified since that book introduced most of what people think of when pirates are brought up to begin with.
  • Red Is Heroic: Clifford has red fur and is a nice dog.
  • Retcon: The intro implies T-Bone and Cleo both met Clifford when he arrived on Birdwell Island, but six episodes into the series shows Cleo moved to the island after Clifford.
  • The Runaway: A non-human example in “Come Back, Mac”, when Mac runs away from home out of shame and fear after tearing apart Jetta’s sweater. Jetta tells Mac, when they find him, that she cares more about him than about a sweater because she doesn't want her dog to be hurt.
  • The Scapegoat: Clifford takes the fall for the actions of younger animals in “Then Came Bob” and “The Trouble With Kittens”.
    • Jetta accuses Emily of stealing her medal and mirror in “To Catch a Bird”, when the culprit was actually a seagull.
    • Cleo accuses T-Bone of stealing her bone in “Who Took My Bone?” when Mac is the one that actually took it.
  • School Play: “Clifford and the Beanstalk” is about, as the title implies, a stage adaptation of “Jack and the Beanstalk” called “Jane and the Beanstalk” performed by Emily Elizabeth’s class. They notably forget to make a beanstalk when building the set, forcing them to improvise by painting Clifford’s tail green and using it as the beanstalk.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • Although “New Dog in Town” shows that T-Bone had already grown when he met Clifford, “Friends Forever” reveals that when he was as a puppy, T-Bone’s friend Hamburger moved away, and on that same day, Clifford and the Howards moved to Birdwell Island. “Getting to Know You” is another episode about how T-Bone and Clifford became friends that shows T-Bone with his current appearance, despite airing after “Friends Forever”.
    • The premise of “Wedding Bell Blues” is Ms. Carrington moving away due to her marriage and being replaced by a new teacher called Mrs. Grumbly. Just a few episodes later, in “Stage Struck”, Ms. Carrington is the one organizing the kids’ talent show, and Mrs. Grumbly is nowhere to be seen. Even more baffling, Ms. Carrington’s significant other is seen in the audience.
    • A flashback episode has Clifford's doghouse being built so that he can have somewhere to live, and a construction crew even helped build him one. An earlier episode has the Howards introducing themselves to the townsfolf and neighbors, and when Emily calls for Clifford, he literally comes running out of his doghouse.
  • Shaking the Rump: The dogs seem especially fond of this whenever everybody's dancing.
  • Sick Episode: “Get Well”. Emily’s the one stuck with a cold, and Clifford, T-Bone, and Cleo spend the episode trying to get gifts for her so she can feel better.
  • Significant Anagram: The "Birdwell" from Birdwell Island is a simple and obvious anagram of the last name of Clifford creator Norman Bridwell.
  • Slice of Life: Although the series is about a red dog of ginormous proportions whose size is both a product of his owner’s love for him and a potential recipe for disaster, especially when combined with his playful nature, the stories are mostly about the characters’ everyday lives, and everyone, humans and animals alike, deals with relatable problems, such as keeping up with how much a loved one’s changed, adjusting to life with a new sibling, feeling insecure about a relationship with a loved one, and not having one’s privacy respected.
  • Small Name, Big Ego:
    • Jetta Handover, who is constantly seeking to be the center of attention. Prominent examples include when she initially tried to hog the spotlight at her baby brother's own arrival party and when she nominated herself for Islander of the Year, for something she mostly managed to do with Clifford’s help at that. Suffice to say, her efforts usually leave her humbled in some way.
    • Her conceitedness seems to have rubbed off onto Mac, who is similarly smug and early on was not above showing off even to his closest friends, much to their chagrin; He does get better as the series goes on, though.
    • Cleo has her moments of this as well. Though in one episode when she brags about her latest dog show win to her friends, she has enough sense to realize later why this wasn't fair to them and apologizes for getting carried away.
  • Smelly Skunk: "The Dog Who Cried Woof" had Cleo taunting the other dogs with ghost stories about a giant ghost skunk named Wiffy. She kept pranking them by saying he was after her, and they finally got fed up with it. Then a real skunk shows up and she scares it. The others, while out looking for her, smell that she got sprayed.
    Cleo: Aww, man! P.U.!!! That is definitely not a ghost skunk! That is the real thing!
  • Spinoff Babies: Clifford's Puppy Days.
  • Spoiler: In “Magic in the Air”, there’s a Running Gag where Jetta tries to “help” her friends finish the most recent book in the series they’re reading by spoiling the ending, prompting them to cover their ears and tell her to be quiet.
  • Stealth Pun: Mac's name is short for "Machiavelli". Often, he has skewered or misguided morality, such as when he cheated in "The Great Race", or wrongfully assumed Emily Elizabeth really did steal Jetta's spelling bee medal. But often, Machiavelli is wrong.
  • Storybook Opening: How the Episode Title Card was handled both in the 2000 show and Puppy Days. They also closed every episode on the same book segue as well.
  • Stock Femur Bone: Any of the bones the dogs play with.
  • Supporting Protagonist: For being the main character, Clifford isn't the focus a ton in the 2000 animated series.
  • Surprise Party: The eponymous “Clifford’s Big Surprise”, organized by most of the cast for Clifford’s birthday. To prevent Clifford from ruining the surprise for himself, everyone, from Emily Elizabeth to his fellow dogs, declines his offers to play and insists that they’re busy.
  • Swapped Roles: Jetta and Emily Elizabeth take care of each other’s dogs in “Topsy Turvy Day”. Emily proves herself to be very adaptable when spending time with Mac. Jetta when she's with Clifford...not so much.
  • Switching P.O.V.: The eponymous “Basketball Stories” are retellings of the basketball game Charley couldn’t attend from Vaz, Emily, and Jetta’s perspectives, which are all explored in the episode.
  • Take a Third Option: When Emily Elizabeth and Charley can’t pick between a sports float or an ocean float in “Clifford on Parade”, they opt for a hotdog-themed float, with Clifford being the “big red hotdog”.
  • Talking Animal: The dogs, but only among themselves, since humans only hear barks.
  • Talking in Your Sleep: In "Paw Print Picasso" from Clifford's Puppy Days, after Clifford gets paint paw prints all over Emily Elizabeth's painting and his friends suggest he tell her the next day, Daffodil discovers him alone the next morning on Emily Elizabeth's bed, tossing and turning in his sleep and muttering "It's my fault, it's my fault..."
  • Team Spirit: This trope shares its name with an episode where Jetta and Vaz learn about their individual worth as members of Birdwell Island’s soccer team.
  • Thick-Line Animation: This is the standard for both Clifford the Big Red Dog and Clifford's Puppy Days - thick black lines with generally bright coloring inside.
  • Third-Person Person: Cleo’s niece Kiki talks like this.
  • Three Shorts: The animated series ran like this on PBS with two 11 minuted shorts divided by a story segment featuring Emily and Clifford.
  • Title Theme Tune:
    • The 2000 animated series has this: "Clifford's so much fun, he's a friend to us all! I love Clifford the Big Red Dog! (woof!)"
    • The 2019 animated series goes with this as well: "Singing 'hey, it's a big red day / nothing in our way / So come and play with Clifford the Big Red Dog'!"
  • Tomboy: Cleo is the only girl of the dogs and while she may look girly she actually hates getting her fur done and jumps in the mud immediately after it's over. She also gets along great with Clifford and his other friends.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Arty to Clifford in “Led Astray”. Clifford is peer pressured by Arty into doing things he knows isn’t right, such as taking Cleo’s pet hedgehog without her permission and “finding” it behind a tree once playtime is over, and digging at the construction site, releasing a bunch of muddy water in the process.
  • Tsundere: Mr. Bleakman towards Clifford, especially in “Babysitter Blues”.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Clifford was a subversion when he first came to Birdwell Island, but became a straight up example after most of the island’s residents got used to him.
    • The dogs’ shenanigans are played straight. Some of the things they do indicate that they just might be more intelligent than they let on and yet, the human characters treat their actions as if they were perfectly normal.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Cleo, usually due to her overconfidence. Often lampshaded when she utters her catchphrase "Have I ever steered you wrong?", to which Clifford and T-Bone will often say yes.
  • Valentine's Day Episode: “Clifford’s Valentines Day Special”, which combines two Valentines-themed segments that previously aired in different episodes:
    • “Clifford’s Big Heart”: After watching Charley, Jetta, and Emily Elizabeth make Valentine’s Day gifts in his doghouse, Clifford decides to make his own gift for Emily, with T-Bone and Cleo’s help.
    • ”Cleo’s Valentine Surprise”: Cleo spends the episode making a giant heart shaped pile of bones for Clifford and T-Bone, with K.C.’s help.
  • Visible Odor: Clifford, T-Bone, and Cleo in “Stinky Friends”.
  • We Are Not Going Through That Again: Jetta's trip to Titanic Tower in the city results in this after she and her mother spent the entire day just trying to get to the darned thing......only for their view of the city to be ruined by clouds and smog. After having earlier rubbed it in Emily's face that she couldn't join them for the trip, Jetta comes back home to Emily (who thanks to Clifford had a much better afternoon) to suggest that next time they could go see the tower together. Her mother immediately shoots down the very idea, saying next time they'd just go to the zoo instead.
  • What You Are in the Dark:
    • In "The Great Race", Mac pulls all sorts of dirty tricks in order to slow T-Bone down and win the race. And ultimately, he does win. But when T-Bone so graciously offers up his collar as part of the agreement, the only thing that keeps Mac from taking the spoils is his guilty conscience. At everyone's insistence he won fair and square, he comes clean and admits he cheated.
    • In "The Best Party ever", Clifford lets Charley and Emily in on Jenna's secret (she isn't going to a big party and is bored out of her skull, but is too proud to admit it). Rather than call her out on her lie, Emily offers Jenna an out in the form of coming to a "better" party, courtesy of Clifford acting as the water slide.
  • When I Was Your Age...: In “Lights Out”, Mr. Bleakman laments that Birdwell Islanders are too dependent on electricity, and constantly compares what he did as a boy to what people do nowadays (the sun vs. dryers to dry clothes, signs vs. traffic lights, books vs. computers to learn, self-made shows vs. TV for entertainment, playing board/card games vs. playing video games)
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The location of Birdwell Island is never revealed.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: There are several:
    • ”Little Clifford” and “Welcome to Birdwell Island” (two segments of the same half-hour package) explain the Howards’ backstory in further detail. The former is a flashback to Emily getting Clifford for her birthday and the dog’s overwhelming growth, told through Emily’s “favorite memory” assignment, and the latter is a flashback to the Howards’ first day on Birdwell Island, when Clifford proved himself to the locals by helping them put out a forest fire, told through a conversation between Emily and Charley as they are getting a ride home from school, courtesy of Clifford.
    • ”Cleo Comes to Town” is a flashback to Cleo moving to Birdwell Island and T-Bone’s initial reluctance to accept her as part of his friend group, told through Clifford and T-Bone nostalgically thinking of their first few days with Cleo while waiting for her to come back from vacation.
    • ”New Dog in Town” is a flashback to T-Bone getting over his initial fear of Clifford’s size after bonding with the big red dog, told through T-Bone reminiscing about his first encounters with Clifford after the latter accidentally scares a squirrel away.
    • ”Welcome to the Doghouse”: As Emily Elizabeth goes through her photo album with Clifford, she recalls the challenges her family had to face when taking care of Clifford when they first moved to Birdwell Island, specifically what doghouse Clifford would live in.
    • “He’s Wonderful Mr. Bleakman”: When Mr. Bleakman snaps at Clifford for messing up his garden, Emily Elizabeth admits that she sometimes wishes he wasn’t her neighbor. As she spends time with Charley and Clifford in the latter’s doghouse, they think of the good things Mr. Bleakman has done, which are told through flashbacks, including one to “Babysitter Blues”.
    • ”Clifford Grows Up” is a flashback to a post-growth spurt Clifford’s time in the city and what he could (not) do because of his size, told by Emily Elizabeth as a final bedtime story.
    • ”Friends Forever” is mostly a flashback to T-Bone’s time spent as a puppy with his first friend, Hamburger, and how they dealt with Hamburger and his owner moving away. T-Bone tells the story to Clifford and Cleo as he is waiting at the dock for Hamburger to arrive in the ferry. Turns out that Hamburger moved away the same day Clifford and the Howards moved to Birdwell Island.
    • The 2000 series’ last episode, “Getting to Know You”, is a flashback to the earlier parts of Clifford and T-Bone’s friendship and how they learned to adapt to each other’s traits.
  • Wild Goose Chase: “The Kibble Crook” has T-Bone eat Cleo’s tasty dog food behind her back and make his friends search for the culprit while being completely aware of the truth.
  • Your Size May Vary: Clifford's size widely fluctuates, especially in the tv series. Sometimes Cleo and T-bone are about knee height to clifford, sometimes they only come up to his paw. Sometimes Clifford is smaller than the house, sometimes he's bigger. Sometimes hes a bit bigger than the nearby trees, sometimes he's twice as big and the ground can shake as he walks by


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Clifford The Big Red Dog



After the opening, the title card is part of a book.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

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