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Literature / Curious George

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"This is George. He was a good little monkey and always very curious."
—How every book begins

Curious George is a series of books and a TV spin-off, plus a movie, based on the character by Margret and H.A. Rey. George is a monkey who is found overseas in Africa by "The Man With the Yellow Hat," a father-figure who takes the monkey home with him to his apartment in the city. Hilarity Ensues when the monkey is treated like a human child, rather than a pet. The books and series are marketed to the preschooler/early reader group and attempt to give children an early grasp on patterns and other bits of necessary information about life.

The character of Curious George first appeared in another children's book by H.A. Rey, Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys.


Curious George in print

The original books are as listed below. There have also been a number of pastiche works, most of them out of print for years.
  • Curious George (1941)
  • Curious George Takes a Job (1947)
  • Curious George Rides a Bike (1952)
  • Curious George Gets a Medal (1957)
  • Curious George Flies a Kite (1958)
  • Curious George Learns the Alphabet (1963)
  • Curious George Goes to the Hospital (1966)

Curious George at the movies

Curious George has been adapted into six films; one in theaters, three straight to DVD, and two straight to streaming through Peacock:
  • Curious George (2006)
  • Curious George 2: Follow That Monkey! (2010)
  • Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle (2015)
  • Curious George: Royal Monkey (2019)
  • Curious George: Go West, Go Wild (2020)
  • Curious George: Cape Ahoy (2021)


Curious George on television

Curious George was first adapted in to a series of animated shorts in 1980 that first played during the early morning hours on Nickelodeon, and later during the Disney Channel's Circle Time block. A Stop Motion animated special titled The Adventures of Curious George consisting of two segments adapting the original book and Goes to the Hospital respectively was later made in 1982. In 2006, an animated Edutainment Show adaptation debuted on PBS. The show depicts George using science, math, and engineering concepts to solve problems on a level consistent with preschool-age children. note 

The Curious George franchise includes examples of:

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    General Tropes applying to the books, TV show, and movies 
  • Absent Animal Companion: At the end of Curious George Flies a Kite, Bill gives one of his baby bunnies to George as a pet and the last page shows George feeding his new baby bunny a carrot. This baby bunny doesn't appear again or is mentioned in any of the other original books.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: In Curious George Goes to the Hospital, George wheels through the hospital in another patient's go cart. He loses control of the cart and crashes into a display of food, causing a huge mess in front of the mayor. George at first horrified at the destruction but then he discovers that the other children are laughing. The staff and the mayor join in on the laughter, and they together decide that George shouldn't be punished.
  • Advanced Tech 2000: The roller coaster is called the "Turbo Python 3000"
  • Adults Are Useless: The Man With the Yellow Hat often leaves George to his own devices. Let us repeat: George is a monkey.
  • Animated Adaptation: Nine of them; a theatrical film, five direct-to-video movies, an obscure television special and two television series for preschoolers.
  • Artistic License – Biology: George lacks a tail which would make him an ape. That said, he doesn't match any species of African ape either, being too small and brown and standing erect. It should be George was going to have a tail, but it was removed due to art complications.
  • Black Bead Eyes: In the books; also in the Imagine Spots in the television show.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "Don't get into trouble." (in the books and the 80s shorts)
    • "Be a good little monkey." (in the cartoon series)
  • Curious as a Monkey: Trope Namer
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Various times George's curiosity gets the better of him, resulting in him unintentionally committing something that, if a normal person did it, would be considered a crime. But considering he's a small monkey who doesn't always know better, his penalty is still undeserving.
    • George dialed random numbers on a telephone, and accidentally called the fire department. He was thrown in jail for it.
    • George looked at an ostrich, who literally grabbed a bugle from his hands, and nearly choked on it. George was subsequently kicked out of a circus act for it. (He was reinstated for a heroic act shortly afterwards).
    • George took an interest in painting, while watching some painters, and found himself painting a woman's apartment in a jungle theme. He practically had a whole mob of people, including painters, window washers, and the woman chase him down a fire escape, and in his attempt to escape, he jumped, and broke his leg in the process, having to be hospitalized. The mob's response: He deserved it.
  • Escaped Animal Rampage: A monkey escapes from a zoo and has wacky mischievous adventures.
  • Everyone Chasing You: The incident with the paint in the apartment in the second book leads to this.
  • Firehouse Dalmatian: The book, "Curious Geroge and the Firefighters", has a Dalmatian who accompanies the firefighters.
  • Great White Hunter: The Man with the Yellow Hat's role in the first book, where he captured George for an American zoo.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Averted with George and human characters, who have five fingers. Played straight with Jumpy the squirrel and other animals though.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Maggie.
  • Hot Teacher: Again, Maggie.
  • Inexplicably Tailless: George the monkey does not have a tail. One of the most notable instances of the Mandela effect besides the fact that it's spelled "Berenstain" and not "Berenstein" actually involves this, as most people misremember George having a tail.
  • Losing Horns: The 1980 series used three Type B variants whenever George gets into trouble: a three-note tuba, a four-note harmonica and a five-note trombone.
  • Mischief-Making Monkey: George is this, often unintentionally.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: In Curious George Learns the Alphabet it is stated that George had experience with jaguars, as he had lived in the jungle once just like jaguars do. However, other books clearly state that George came from an African jungle (and he does appear to be an African species). Jaguars are native to Central and South America.
  • Nice Hat: The Man With the Yellow Hat.
  • Nobody Poops: Monkeys and other primates cannot be housebroken and have to wear diapers to be kept as (sanitary) pets. Doesn't seem to be an issue with George.
  • No Name Given: The Man With the Yellow Hat, until the movie, which revealed his name to be Ted Shackleford.
  • Parents Know Their Children: Invoked by George in Flies a Kite; George accidentally loses a baby bunny which runs away and can't be found. George then uses the mother bunny to locate the missing baby.
  • Person with the Clothing: The Man with the Yellow Hat.
  • Stock Animal Diet: Three guesses what George likes to eat and the first two don't count.
  • Typical Cartoon Animal Colors: George is a brown monkey.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: George is often treated more like a young child than a monkey.
  • You Must Be This Tall to Ride: One book has George go to an amusement park but being too small ride on a roller coaster or play with bunnies in the petting zoo. He then has a dream that he grew to five times his previous size, only to find he's now too big to fit on the roller coaster and too large to play with the bunnies safely.

    The PBS TV Series 
  • Aerith and Bob: There are seven baby bunnies that belong to Bill. Their names are Fuzzy, Whitey, Brownie, Spotty, Black Ears, Cotton Tail... and Herbert Menninger.
    • Apparently the last one is named after a great-uncle whos famous in the town.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Bill calls George "city kid".
  • Always Someone Better: Steve is always saying he's some kind of genius and belittling Betsy's age because Betsy is some kind of musical prodigy and he feels the need to compensate for his little sister being better than he at something.
  • Apes in Space: Thanks to Professor Wiseman, George has gone on multiple space missions, one of them involving a spacewalk.
  • Baths Are Fun: George generally tries to avoid baths when possible, however, it's shown that he can be lured into the bathtub with his bath toys, which help to make bathing fun for him. He also likes bubbles, but particularly likes his toy frog, Sproingy.
  • Bizarre Beverage Use: In "Skunked", George is sprayed by a skunk, so Ted gives him several baths using tomato juice.
  • Canon: Depending on how you see it, the show can either be a direct continuation of the books or the movie (despite the man's name isn't Ted, though Word of God seems to heavily imply the books) since Curious George is a simple enough concept that doesn't have much continuity to begin with. "Monkey lives with human, gets into mischief"
  • Caretaker Reversal: Occurs in a few of the tv series episodes.
  • Catch-22 Dilemma: In "Bee is for Bear," a beekeeper says that she can't remove a beehive from a tree unless the tree branches are trimmed down first. So they call in a tree-trimmer, who would be happy to remove the branches, if something is first done about the bees. It all comes to moot when a baby bear arrives and knocks down the hive.
  • Characterization Marches On: George is consistently shown as being childishly innocent, but his behavior in early episodes is different compared to later episodes. Early episode tend to showcase more of George messing up due to him not being that familiar with city life. While he can still mess up a bit, later episodes tend to have the problems come to him with him being more thoughtful, and his messing up comes from not looking through all his possibilities.
  • Christmas Special: A Very Monkey Christmas.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Allie to some degree. When George first meets her, he finds her in a bin with several chickens, which she emerges from, saying that now she knows what it's like to be a chicken and she doesn't recommend it because it's very boring. The narrator even states that George had seen a lot of strange things in his life, but this was new to him.
  • Don't Try This at Home:
    • "George is a monkey, and he does things we can't do"; used with the twist that the only death-defying stunts George does are his monkey antics.
    • The "George can do things you can't do" warning got used less often as the series went on and George's adventures increasingly involved solving problems without his wreaking havoc. It doesn't seem to be at all present on the DVD releases, or the general broadcasts anymore for that matter.
  • Edutainment Show: It's PBS, so there's no surprise. Educational themes include a general focus on science and nature, as well as problem-solving and engineering.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: In "Ice Station Monkey," George and the Man with the Yellow Hat travel to Antarctica to find an entire colony of chinstrap penguins.
  • Free-Range Children and Monkeys: George often wanders through the city and countryside without the Man in the Yellow Hat's supervision despite the fact that George is a monkey. Not only that, but also all of the recurring children characters (Betsy and Steve in the city, Bill and Allie in the country) are generally left to their own devices without a responsible adult in sight.
  • Gender Flip + Race Lift + Age Lift: In the books, Prof. Wiseman was an old white guy. In the show, she's a 30-something black woman. See also Black and Nerdy.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: In the episode "Water to Ducks," the Man with the Yellow Hat sees George and Bill's runaway wading pool hurtling towards him and lets fly with an "Oh, my hat!"
  • Firehouse Dalmatian: The episode, "Where's the Firedog?", has a Dalmatian named Blaze who keeps escaping from the fire station, much to the agitation of firefighter Sam and the chagrin of the other firefighters. As it turns out, the reason for Blaze's constant escapes is so he can visit another dog named Sparky at the animal shelter, whom he has made friends with, so Sam decides to adopt Sparky so that Blaze won't run away ever again.
  • Halloween Episode: A Halloween Boo Fest.
  • Hiccup Hijinks: The episode "Doctor Monkey" saw George dealing with a high class lady who had hiccups for two weeks. At the end of the episode, she seems to get rid of them only to get them back again.
  • Hiroshima as a Unit of Measure: One episode is about George preparing the Man in the Yellow Hat's birthday party, but purchasing the wrong-sized cake, decorations, etc. While trying to prepare this stuff, George ends up taking a nap and has a dream where everybody uses George as their sole unit of measure.
  • Hollywood Darkness: When it is dark in the show, we can see perfectly well and is lit with a blue tint, despite the fact that the characters can't see at all in the dark.
  • Imagine Spot: A frequent occurrence, George's daydreams are usually depicted in thought balloons and involve an Art Shift in which characters are drawn in the style of the Curious George books. This isn't limited to just George - occasionally another character, such as Hundley the dog will have one too, with the accompanying Art Shift.
  • Insufferable Genius:
    • Especially in the earlier seasons, Bill would routinely insist that there is a "proper way" to perform just about anything from sailing toy boats to squeezing water out of mops.
      • He does own up to having holes in his knowledge base, such as when he had to learn how to dance and when he came up with an ill-advised plan to get rid of a beehive (involving mud, a catapult, and a wetsuit) that would have resulted in disaster had he been allowed to go through with it.
      • The biggest gap in Bill's knowledge is that he has yet to realize that George is a monkey and not a typical "city kid," which is how Bill thinks of him.
    • To a lesser degree, George's city friend Steve thinks that all of his own ideas and solutions are genius simply because of what he perceives to be his elevated status as a fifth grader.
  • Kangaroos Represent Australia: In "Monkey Down Under," George and the Man with the Yellow Hat go on an Australian outback safari. Yes, they see wallabies. Yes, they see koalas, emus, and dingoes. The bulk of the episode, however, deals with George's interactions with a kangaroo and her joey.
  • Large Ham: Chef Pisghetti. Not only does he employ an exaggerated Italian accent, but he also copes with most of his restaurant's problems by loudly and melodramatically proclaiming that he will never cook again.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: The typically capable, confident, and uncannily polymathic Man In The Yellow Hat (and George) spends a day with Prof. Wiseman in the park, frantically trying to prevent her from having to lift a finger, because she needs to relax. Due to what many viewers suspect is a serious crush on the Professor, the Man completely bumbles every attempt to pamper her, which she gleefully fixes each time.
  • Meaningful Echo: In "Curious George vs. the Turbo Python 3000," the Man with the Yellow Hat is revealed to have a fear of roller coasters. After overhearing Betsy yell, "My hat! I've lost my hat!" he remembers the last time he rode a roller coaster, in which his hat flew off and got destroyed by a dog, which leads him to realize that he's not afraid of roller coasters at all; he's afraid of losing his hat.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Professor Wiseman, whose scientific area of expertise appears to be everything.
    • George's country neighbor Clint Quint, who is a fishing enthusiast.
    • Also applies to the Quint family name (Mr. Quint and his four siblings are quintuplets) and to the first name of his sisters Sprint (a track runner) and Mint (a US Treasury official).
  • Mythology Gag: In one episode, Mr. Glass tells George "don't get into trouble".
  • Narrator: In the show.
  • Named Like My Name: Professor Wiseman's associate Professor Einstein, who noted in his first appearance that he's not that Einstein. Wiseman's other associate, Professor Pizza, likewise felt obligated to clarify that he's not that pizza and was not involved with its invention.
  • Neat Freak: Hundley the lobby dog likes things to be orderly and dignified. He is therefore regularly horrified by George's ability to mess things up without any effort.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: As "Vacuum Monkey," George vacuums up every loose object in sight, including rare stamps, Charkey's dog biscuit, birdseed, and a winning lottery ticket.
  • Ocular Gushers: A Running Gag involves George imagining Bill crying these due to being upset about some mischief that he caused.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: The Man with the Yellow Hat is a scientist in this series (which, considering that he's qualified to own a monkey, makes sense), but different episodes don't seem to agree what kind of scientist he is.
  • Once per Episode: George's curiosity would always get him in trouble. Then he would do something heroic, and all would be forgiven. Well, assuming anyone even finds out what he did to get in trouble before he's able to fix it.
  • Out Of Control Popcorn: In one episode, George makes too much popcorn at the movie theater.
  • Plucky Girl: Allie, who is spirited and almost as inquisitive as George. In her first appearance, Allie remains remarkably upbeat when she winds up stuck in a tree and has to depend on George to get her down.
  • Power Outage Plot: An episode is about a hotel switching to solar power after many people using their AC due to the hot weather causes several blackouts in a row.
  • Race Lift: Bill is Caucasian in the books, while in the cartoon he's Ambiguously Brown (possibly African-American).
    • His mother appears to be Caucasian, as does a distant great-uncle shown in the Halloween special, so he's probably mixed-race.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: In the episode, "Bill's Bunnies." Also other various animals like baby ducks and Gnocchi the cat.
  • Rube Goldberg Device: When George unwittingly ends up bidding $100 for a pair of mittens after getting into an auction war, the group begs the event organizers to let them re-auction the items, only to discover the other bidder has left, and the others scramble to find him before The Man gets yanked off stage. Instead, they could have just found the guy first and had him pay the $100 in exchange for them.
  • Russian Reversal: Most mornings, George goes out on the porch to find the paper. In the opening of "Curious George Rides a Bike," "the paper found George," when the paperboy accidentally hits him with it.
  • Scary Shadow Fakeout: George becomes scared of the dark until The Man with the Yellow Hat tells him that the monsters are just the same objects as they are in the light and gives him a nightlight.
  • Shirtless Scene: Only happened once in the episode Curious George Sees Stars, where the Man in the Yellow Hat is seen in his swim trunks.
  • Sound-Only Death: Toots the germ and his companions the Germettes, in their second and last appearance (Toot Toot Tootsie Goodbye). The last we see of them, they are stuck on Professor Wiseman's hand just as she starts washing with soap. And they're screaming.
  • Spoiler Title:
    • In "Curious George Takes a Job", guess what he does. And in "Curious George Takes Another Job", guess what he does again.
    • The title of Toots and the Germettes' second appearance, "Toot Toot Tootsie Goodbye," implies that it would be their last.
  • Stealth Pun: In "Doctor Monkey," the narrator comments that "George learned that the thing you need most in a doctor's waiting room... is patience."
  • Surprise Party: In "Surprise Quints," a surprise party is held for the Quints, who are quintuplets in their own home, and George has to keep them distracted from going there until it's ready.
  • Title Theme Tune: "And that is your reward, you're never bored, when you're curious, like Curious George!"
  • The Unintelligible: George only makes monkey noises rather than spoken language. Other characters usually understand him easily by observing his gestures, the tone of his monkey noises, and the situational context. And for the audience, the Narrator helpfully explains George's thoughts and motivations.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: The Quints seem to really like fish crackers ("Oooh, oooh, oooh!").
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Although one-shot characters sometimes remark, "Hey, it's a monkey!" upon seeing him, George doesn't seem to attract as much attention as one might expect from a freely roaming exotic animal in a Western society. Occasionally lampshaded by the city firefighters, who wonder why they never get any "normal" calls whenever they respond to a call that's George-related.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Mr. Auger the plumber knows the ins and outs of his business like he knows every pipe and valve ever conceived, and his powers of logical deduction are rather impressive. In spite of this, he lacks the foresight to predict the havoc that George would wreak upon learning a plumber's methods. This is lampshaded by Hundley in the same scene.
    Narrator: Hundley wasn't sure George should be taught things like this.
  • You Must Be This Tall to Ride: In "Curious George vs. the Turbo Python 3000," both George and a little boy are stymied by this. George tries various tactics such as wearing a tall hat and raising up his arms, but they don't work. Then he tries to get bigger, only for a strong-man to tell him that he'll be as big and strong as him if he follows his routine... in five years. Then he hears that sleeping helps you to grow and so he goes to sleep, and has a dream in which he grows huge, only to be told that he can't ride the Turbo Python 3000 because he's too big to fit in the seat. In the end, George wins because Captain Zany, the head of the park, already had a loophole built in. He knows that monkeys don't grow very big, and so he spins around the sign revealing the "monkey sign," which is how tall monkeys must be to ride.
  • Youthful Freckles: Allie is a spunky girl with red hair in a ponytail and freckles.


Video Example(s):


Curious George

Despite the huge mess he makes, George's antics with a go-cart prove to be actually quite entertaining to both the children and the adults in the hospital.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / ActuallyPrettyFunny

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