A difficult decision, a quandary,
Ask yourself, "What would Edgar and Ellen do?"
And do exactly the contrary.
A series of children's books by Charles Ogdennote that was adapted into an animated series. The title characters, a pair of 12-year-old twins, are notorious pranksters who cause mischief and mayhem in the town of Nod's Limbs. The two of them live in a thirteen-story house on the edge of town with their pet (named 'Pet'), a strange creature that vaguely resembles a one-eyed, hairy mop head. Their groundskeeper, Heimertz, lives in a shack near the house, never says a word, and wears a perpetual Slasher Smile. There is also a junkyard near the house where the twins get parts for the many unlikely contraptions that they build. Nod's Limbs itself is an overly cheerful town run by the inept Mayor Knightleigh. His daughter, Stephanie Knightleigh, is Edgar and Ellen's main rival in their quest for amusement.
The books and the animated series start with similar setups, but soon diverge. While the book series moves into an overarching plot, the animated series focuses on day-to-day hijinks.
The books in the series are:
- Rare Beasts (2003)
- Tourist Trap (2004)
- Under Town (2004)
- Pet's Revenge (2006)
- High Wire (2006)
- Nod's Limbs (2007)
- Hot Air (2008)
- Frost Bites (2008)
- Split Ends (2009)
Additional material includes: Mischief Manual, Hair 'Em Scare 'Em (a pop-up book), and Graphic Novelty (a comic collection).
Character page here, but beware of book spoilers.
The books and TV series provide examples of:
- 13 Is Unlucky: The twins' house has thirteen floors, and their mere presence is certainly bad luck for the rest of town. In a sort-of aversion, though, only eleven of those stories are above ground; the other two are basement levels.
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Explained in the books. First, they're the storm drain variety of sewer, not the sewage kind. Second, they were originally built so that people could take leisurely, well-lit strolls in them, but gradually fell into disrepair and had the lighting grates paved over.
- Alliterative Title: "Edgar & Ellen"
- Anti-Hero / Villain Protagonist: In the books, the twins are Villain Protagonists in the first book and Anti Heroes in the rest. In the cartoon, it varies from episode to episode.
- Black Sheep: Miles is sometimes shown as one of these within his family, such as when he's the only one to take interest in Ellen's carnivorous plant.
- Black and Gray Morality: Edgar and Ellen are not nice people; the people they target, however, are typically even worse.
- Brother-Sister Team: Edgar and Ellen, when they're not busy pranking each other.
- Drunk with Power: Both the books and cartoon have examples of this; see below for details.
- Extremely Dusty Home: The Tower Mansion. The twins never clean, so everything is covered with inches of dust and cobwebs.
- Fat Idiot: The Mayor, at least by our standards. By Nod's Limbs standards, he's perfectly average.
- The prologues of High Wire and Nod's Limbs.
- In the animated series, the "Heimertz Family Album" segments serve to reveal bits of Heimertz's past this way.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Both of the twins to some extent, but especially Edgar. Exaggerated in the animated series, where they build much more elaborate contraptions.
- Girl Posse: Stephanie has one in Cassidy Kingfisher and Pepper Poshi, mostly in the TV series due to the books' lack of school scenes. The books mention a couple of others too, but these two seem to be at the top of the pecking order.
- Half-Identical Twins: Apart from their hairstyles, the twins look and dress exactly the same.
- Karmic Trickster: The twins are a combination of this trope and Screwy Squirrel.
- Limited Wardrobe: The twins wear the same striped footie pajamas all the time.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Whilst "heart of gold" might be pushing it, the twins are actually pretty friendly at times.
- Mad Scientist: Edgar. Ellen could qualify as a mad botanist, given the way she dotes over her carnivorous plant.
- Man-Eating Plant: Ellen has one (named Berenice), but it's not big enough to actually eat anyone. It's subverted in the books; Ellen eventually reveals that that species of plant is incapable of digesting a human. No, not even the plants that actually are big enough to swallow people. In the books, Ellen gets a new plant from Berenice's seeds, which she names Morella.
- Name and Name: The title. Edgar and Ellen are the main characters.
- Our Founder: A statue of the town's founder, Augustus Nod, sits in the middle of the park.
- Parental Abandonment: The twins' parents apparently left years ago on an around-the-world holiday, and haven't been heard from since. The twins never really questioned this, oddly enough.
- The Pig Pen: The twins don't really bother much with hygiene.
- Shadowland: Nod's Limbs has Smelterburg in the TV series, and Lach Lufless in the books.
- School Uniforms Are the New Black: Stephanie's (and Miles') everyday outfits resemble school uniforms, despite their school not having a dress code.
- Shout-Out Theme Naming: The twins' names, to Edgar Allan Poe. They even have a bust of him in their home.
- Sugar Bowl: Nod's Limbs, though it's not as extreme as most examples. Also Frøsthaven and Cougar Falls (both from the books).
- Too Clever by Half: The twins usually overdo it and their schemes backfire as a result.
- Badass Crew: Augustus Nod, Edgar, Ellen, Madame Dahlia, Pet and The Midway Irregulars.
- Bittersweet Ending:
- Frost Bites, as the twins are forced to separate at the end.
- Under Town—the one thing that keeps it from being a total Downer Ending is the seed that's beginning to sprout.
- Broken Pedestal: Ormond the Impossible, to Edgar.
- The Chase: The Nodyssey books are all about this.
- Cut Short: As it stands, it looks unlikely that the series will continue, with a number of storylines and plots still unresolved.
- Dating What Daddy Hates: Agatha Nod. She married the son of Nod's rival.
- Defector from Decadence: Miles Knightleigh.
- The Determinator: Stephanie, whose Determinator side shines full-force in the Nodyssey books.
- Downer Ending:
- Under Town. The twins fail to protect the Gadget Graveyard and it gets demolished, killing Ellen's pet plant Berenice. There is one ray of hope left though, noted above under Bittersweet Ending.
- High Wire. Ormond gets away. Ronan and Dahlia are wrongfully arrested by the Heimertzes. The Midway Irregulars turn their backs on the twins. Pet is still dying. And to top it all off, the twins lose ownership of their home.
- Drunk with Power:
- Edgar in Split Ends.
- Balm apparently has this effect on people; the condition is known as Mad Duke's Disease.
- Family Business: The Heimertz Family Circus.
- Family of Choice: Edgar, Ellen, Pet, Nod, Heimertz and Madame Dahlia eventually became this.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: Uta Glögg, in her madness, leaping and falling to a fiery death, though it's not actually "seen" as Ellen looks away at the last minute.
- Fingore: The books repeatedly mention a Noodle Incident involving Stephanie, Ellen and a claw hammer; Ellen has a missing pinky nail as a result, which hasn't grown back.
- Gold Fever: The town eventually succumbs to this in Nod's Limbs, after many days of working on the treasure hunt together finally wear down their spirits.
- Humiliation Conga: Rare Beasts. Not only was the twins' scheme a complete failure, they get blasted with hoses and left lying in the mud, while all the kids they wronged get some payback as they walk past by insulting them, kicking mud at them, pulling their hair, etc. Oh, and a jar of fire ants from earlier broke, so they're swarming all over the twins and biting them. You can't say they didn't deserve it, though...
- Idiot Ball: Edgar in Split Ends. He goes a bit unhinged in his isolation and ends up derailing his plans for some needlessly complicated personal vengeance, which both fails and lands him in deeper trouble.
- Immortality Inducer: Regularly consuming balm will grant immortality. This is how Augustus Nod survived underground for 200 years.
- Kubrick Stare: The Mayor in an illustration in Nod's Limbs.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Rare Beasts puts the twins through a Humiliation Conga at the end, and Tourist Trap—despite the twins having far more sympathetic goals this time around—ends with them getting caught in a rain of pigeon poop.
- In "Rare Beasts" the twins cause untold misery when they steal all the pets in town. In "Nod's Limbs" they are desperately trying to save their own.
- Lawful Stupid: Everyone in Lach Lufless. They have regulations for everything, even if that doesn't make sense.
- Malaproper: Augustus Nod frequently uses these. This can attributed to him being a Fish out of Temporal Water.
- Plot Device: Balm. Eventually, everything comes back to balm.
- Rhymes on a Dime: The twins sometimes spontaneously break out into rhyming song that describes what they're up to in the moment.
- Riding into the Sunset: Hot Air ends with the twins leaving Nod's Limbs in a hot-air balloon as the sun rises.
- Samus Is a Girl: The Mason, aka Eugenia Smithy. The twins assume she's male up until her face is revealed.
- Saving the World: The plot of the Nodyssey books.
- The Scapegoat: The mayor makes Bob the intern wear a disguise and pretend to be the Mason so he can arrest him.
- Something Only They Would Say: How the twins test each other when they reunite in Split Ends.
- Standalone Episode: Rare Beasts is unique in that it has no direct ties to the rest of the series. It basically serves as an introduction to the life of the twins.
- Story Arc: The first story arc ended with Nod's Limbs. The Nodyssey books are the start of another.
- Talking to Themself: Edgar in Split Ends.
- Wham Line: The following line from the prologue of High Wire, which reveals the previously unnamed man's identity and the fact that the Heimertz family has been involved with the Tower Mansion for generations:The man gave a smile so wide and eerie that both Pierre and Robbins recoiled. "My name," he said, "is Sigmund Heimertz."
- Alternate Continuity: Not explicitly, but there are some important differences between books and show which clearly set each apart as its own thing. Pet's lethargy is not carried over from the books. And the show cannot be set after Pet was cured of it, because by that point in the books, Ellen's pet plant Berenice was dead.
- Bee Afraid: In "Manners Marathon," the twins present Stephanie with an exploding pot of honey, drenching her in the sticky stuff and attracting a nearby swarm of bees that chase her away. She's badly stung in the next scene.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Cassidy, Pepper and Stephanie.
- Crazy-Prepared: Edgar's bag of pranks. In one instances even had a giant inflatable female spider just in case they went up against a giant spider.
- Depending on the Writer: Whether the twins are Anti Heroes or Villain Protagonists, or whether Stephanie is a Lovable Alpha Bitch or just a straight one.
- Drunk with Power: Ellen in the episode "Commander in Stripes".
- Everyone Has Standards: In "Nuggets of Stupidity", Edgar and Ellen find gold on their property and become even bigger jerkasses than they already were. They use the money to buy things other people want or need so that the other people can't have them, pay to have the town reconstructed in a way nobody likes it except them, and cruelly mock the other townspeople for being poor. Even Stephanie is horrified by the way they're acting.Stephanie: I knew you were selfish and heartless, but I didn't think you'd sink this far!
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: In Trickery Dickory Clock, after the twins finish doing a bunch of dances which are traditionally performed by couples, they lovingly gaze at each other while holding hands before realizing just how wrong that is. They then decide to never speak about it again.
- The Great Whodini: Edgar's stage magician persona is "The Amazing Edgarini."
- Guilt by Association Gag: In Commander in Stripes, Ellen becomes the class president, gets Drunk with Power and starts mistreating all her classmates. Stephanie and Edgar work together to oust her from her position. In the end, Ellen is punished for her actions... and so is Edgar, by virtue of being her twin brother.
- Hypocritical Heartwarming: The twins enjoy playing sadistic pranks on each other, but neither of them will let anyone else hurt the other one.Edgar: (to a Jerk Jock asking him to publicly humiliate Ellen) Thats my sister you want me to humiliate for your entertainment! And when I humiliate my sister, its for my entertainment only!)
- The Jinx: The black cat named Gwendoline (dubbed Miss Fortune by Ellen), who causes disasters just by walking by.
- Less Embarrassing Term: Edgar's purse— um, "temporary satchel substitute."
- He also refers to the dolls of himself and Ellen as Action Figures.
- Lighter and Softer: Due to the lack of an overarching plot, the stakes are much lower.
- Lovable Alpha Bitch: Highly rare, but Stephanie has moments of this, which is more than can be said for her sociopathic book counterpart.
- New-Age Retro Hippie: Ms. Moon Violet, leader of the hippies who camp out in the twin's yard in one episode. They do a lot of spiritual chanting.
- Our Mermaids Are Different: One of the many viewer-suggested shorts shows a teenaged Heimertz having a crush on one of his family circus' most unusual acts, a reverse mermaid.
- Something Else Also Rises: In one of the "Heimertz Family Album" shorts, one of the young Heimertz's suspenders pops open after he receives a kiss on the cheek from a woman he just saved.
- Two Shorts: Each episode consists of two 11-minute shorts, plus a shorter short.