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Literature / Flanimals

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Flanimals is a series of children's books by Ricky Gervais and illustrated by Rob Steen. It depicts a world filled with bizarre, inadequate, or just plain useless creatures known as Flanimals and their behavior, accompanied by humor of all kinds, strange terminology, and one hell of a Lemony Narrator.

The series consists of four books. The first two, aptly titled Flanimals and More Flanimals, describe most of the life on the planet. The third, Flanimals of the Deep, details the aquatic life on the world. The final book, Day of the Bletchling, depicts the emergence of the titular creature and takes the series in a very different direction...


Tropes applicable to the series as a whole.

  • Author Tract: Since this was written by Gervais, it's not hard to see where all the comments about "Grob" being a dusty older superstition come from.
  • Black Comedy: A lot of the humor comes from the horrible lives that the creatures lead, while the narrator is happy to inform us that it's nothing to worry about. After all, they're going to die anyway.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Gervais manages to find entirely new terms to describe the same body parts over and over.
  • Crapsack World: The Flanimals almost all lead horrible lives in various ways.
  • Lemony Narrator: Up to Eleven. The narrator is incredibly snarky, goes off on insane tangents, waxing philosophically, and has a talent for Comically Missing the Point.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: Enough to rival a Dr. Seuss book and usually involving the names of the flanimals. Some examples include the Puddloflaj, the Mernimbler, and the Fleming Bunt-himmler.
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  • Remember the New Guy?: Random new Flanimals that were never described or foreshadowed appear throughout the books and the narrator treats them as if they've always been around.
  • Series Mascot: The Grundit, the dimwitted blue brute with yellow lumps all over its head.
  • Surreal Humor: The series is about the Black Comedy ridden lives of the Too Dumb to Live Flanimals, all with perfectly cromulent names.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The vast majority of Flanimals, really.

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  • All for Nothing: The Bimble Spernt runs around wildly, always managing to avoid its destination. It dies of exhausting in the exact place it started.
  • Big Eater: The Adult Mernimbler is a vicious predator that eats everything it sees, then dies of chronic indigestion.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The Print spends its day leaping off of tall rocks and landing on its head with no problem. If it sprains its ankle, it dies.
  • Bizarre Alien Locomotion: The Plamglotis is born without legs, so it swallows its hands to walk on them. This means it can't eat anything.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: The Hemel Sprot's eyes are oriented backward so it can only see where it's been, never where it's going.
  • Blob Monster: The Coddleflop. Because its soft top is vulnerable, it's developed a defense mechanism. Namely, flipping over and revealing its equally soft bottom.
    • The Puddloflaj is a subversion. It looks like a fat blob, but's almost 100% water, like a balloon.
    • The Splunge is a goo bag filled with nerves. It's so terrified of everything that it Splunges at birth, causing both parents to do the same. Splunges who try to avoid this fail because they've already done it.
  • Body Horror: The Offledermis is born inside-out. It lives like this to avoid its own smell.
  • Bystander Syndrome: The Glonk stands around doing absolutely nothing. Then it dies.
  • Cuddle Bug: The Clunge Ambler goes around trying to cuddle things. Since he's weird, sweaty, and smells funny, he usually gets beaten up and buried. He never learns his lesson.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first book is quite different from the rest, lacking the lemony narration and is comparatively light on the Black Comedy.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Honk is a creature that, well, honks. By honking, we mean it makes the loudest noise on the planet for absolutely no reason.
    • The Sprot Guzzlor eats sprots.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Underblenge has suckers so powerful that they are impossible to pry off, which is useful for suffocating prey. Too bad it can't move from the rock it was born on.
  • Jerkass: The Grundit goes around trying to ride Puddloflaj, uses their babies as water bombs, kicks and eats Gum Spudlets, uses Coddleflops as frisbees, and sometimes dips Gum Spudlets into Coddleflop brain juice. It actually improves the flavor.
  • Let's Meet the Meat: The Gum Spudlet is simply described as "Grundit food." It's not happy about this, but there's nothing it can do about it.
  • Love at First Sight: The Munty Flumple wanders around and falls in love with any Flanimal it sees. It'll stand there for days on end until whatever it's staring at moves.
  • Metamorphosis Monster: The Mernimbler starts out as a cute little puffball that feeds on honey water and the softer bits of clouds. The adult is a vicious hulking predator with crooked horns, Creepily Long Arms, and an absurdly large mouth.
  • Oculothorax: The Wobboid Mump is an eyeball in jelly. Its only function is to look around and find a purpose for its existence, but it can't due to ironically being blind.
  • Only Sane Man: The Blunging has the most normal lifestyle of the Flanimals
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The Flemping Bunt-Himmler looks like a squashed baby Mernimbler, which he feeds on. He's completely exposed when they all turn into adults.
  • Sleepyhead: When the Honk isn't honking, it's sleeping.

     More Flanimals 
  • And I Must Scream: The Plappavom, lacking any mouth parts, digests its own body slowly to power its sole bodily function: looking around to see how pointless its existence is.
  • Bizarre Alien Locomotion: Parodied with the Horosi Horasi and Edgor. The Horasi is one of the fastest Flanimals on the planet thanks to its unique attribute: five legs that go absolutely mental, propelling it forward at top speeds of fifty miles per hours in short bursts. The Edgor, meanwhile, is shaped like a giant blue hand and has a top speed of one mile per day. At its slowest speed, it actually moves slower than some Flanimals that don't move at all.
  • Death Seeker: The Mung Ungler has large "rear milky puddings" that weight it down, so other Flanimals come to suckle on them against its will. Internally it screams "Roll on death."
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Much like the Sprot Guzzlor, its cousin the Sprot Tumbler likes to likes to roll the Sprots around. The Sprot Oggler just likes to watch them. The Sprot Mungler mimics the Oggler until the last minute, then the Sprot is mungled senseless.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: The Skwunt has eyes inside its mouth, which Flanimals come to poke for a laugh. It closes its mouth to stop them, but it's also afraid of the dark and opens up screaming. This leads to Flanimals coming from all around to poke its eyes for a laugh.
  • Insistent Terminology: The "P" in the Verminal Psquirm and Hordery Psquirm's names aren't silent. They're really pronounced "Psquirm."
  • Living Gasbag: The Pong Flibber is a massive sack of gas. When it danger, it expels its gaseous insides to escape. The predator just has to follow the smell to find the creature completely deflated.
  • Metamorphosis: Parodied twofold.
    • The Grommomulunt is the larval stage of the Munt Fly. With no mouth, ears, nose, legs or internal organs to speak of, the creature looks forward to its transformation. However, the only change it undergoes is that it loses its eyes. Then it sheds its skin, but since it lacks any skin underneath, its inside just leak into the ground.
    • After running around wishing it could fly, the Dweezle Muzzbug sheds its legs to get some rest. Since legs falling off is one of the most painful things ever, it completes its transformation into a "screamy death-thing."
  • Surprise Creepy: The first book showed the Baby Mernimbler as soft, cute, and adorable. This one has an image of a skinned one and...yeesh.
  • Unstoppable Rage: The Squat is the angriest creature in the universe. Whenever it meets another Flanimal, it completely slaughters and eviscerates them in seconds. Enraged that it can't keep destroying them, it ends up destroying the next Flanimal it meets even quicker.
  • We Are as Mayflies: Yet another Parodied Trope. The Gronglet feeds by snorggling up micro-flugs, creatures so small that they can't be seen. Since this is insubstantial, it starves shortly after it's born. Its cousin, the Spleg, has slightly greater snorggling abilities, meaning it doesn't starve until the day after it's born.

     Flanimals of the Deep 
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The Spryflajer has flippers that look like tennis rackets.
  • Born as an Adult: Apparently all Blamps are slow and old. Even the young ones.
  • Crying Wolf: After the narrator goes off on another tangent, he brings up the story about the Groy who cried Molf.
  • Death Seeker: Much like its land-based relative, the Ungler Water Mungler wishes for death. Having adapted to live in the ocean, its rear milky pudding have become float baps. This makes it turn upside down in water and drown, finally putting it out of its misery.
  • Dem Bones: The Brones give off this look, being skeletally thin with large jagged teeth. The Skrolls are so thin that each of their ribs is visible.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: Parodied. The narrator points out that, since Clumbs and Splungi can't move, they really don't need eyes. All they can use them for is to see the thing that's going to eat them.
  • Flat Character: Literally with the Flambol, according to the narrator. Not only is it a flat, floating shape, but it's a shallow, self-centered vegetable with no personality.
  • Friend to All Living Things: The Mulon, easily the most intelligent being on the planet, cares about all living beings and would never intentionally hurt another Flanimal. They enjoy coming up to the surface to watch life on land.
  • Hollywood Acid: The Plumph secretes a corrosive acid sloop to protect itself from predators. Unfortunately, when it retracts its eyes, they come into contact with the sloop and it blinds itself painfully.
  • Kaiju: The Skrakalor, an ancestor of the Mernimbler, was a massive behemoth that preyed on Plugons, the ancestors of Mulons.
  • Mind Screw The Spryflajer uses this to confuse its prey. Just when the prey thinks they can't be confused anymore, it just swims away.
  • Nightmare Fuel: In-universe, the narrator is horrified of Skrolls, but prefers not to get into it.
  • Sequel Hook: The book ends with the egg and adult diagram of a Bletchling, the most terrifying Flanimal that has ever existed.
  • Worldbuilding: This book goes into the greatest detail about the Flanimal world and the evolution of life.

     Flanimals: Day of the Bletchling 
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Bletchlings are described as evil down to the cellular level. So much so that consuming the brain of one would turn another Flanimal evil. If you took a Bletchling brain, ground it up, and injected it into a Glonk, the Glonk would smash your face in.
  • Apocalypse How: A Class 4 at least. The only life left on the planet by the end is the microscopic sploon.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Bletchlings are like huge, bloated green flies with human-ish mouths, long pointed tongues, and take to the sky every thousand years, swarming in the millions and killing anything in their path.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The Bletchlings kill off all other Flanimals. However, they've also doomed themselves to extinction.
  • Big Eater: The Bleak is a giant creature that can consume anything, but lacks any digestive fluids. The Flanimals it eats apparently love it inside.
  • Bittersweet Ending/"Ray of Hope" Ending: On one hand, all complex life on the planet is dead. On the other, the microscopic Sploon is still around and the narrator speculates it could gradually evolve to repopulate the world with brand new life, this time without the threat of the Bletchlings.
  • Blind Mistake: The Hord Shuffler is a blind creature that likes to scuttle around in dark places, but is usually found in bright open spaces. They've got no idea where they are.
  • Cerebus Retcon: All the previous books described the Flanimals in present tense. Day of the Bletchling reveals they've all been extinct for some time now.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: No mention is made of any of the aquatic Flanimals, but it's safe to assume they were also wiped out by the Bletchlings.
  • Darker and Edgier: Without a doubt the darkest installment in the series, depicting an Always Chaotic Evil species, the ensuing war against them, and the extinction of all complex life on the planet. The narration is far more somber and serious as well.
  • Enemy Mine: Flanimals that have long been enemies, or just jerks to each other, come together to fight the Bletchlings.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Hapless Prey is a type of sprot. It really just exists to be prey, drawing attention to itself by sweating at the first sign of danger.
  • Final Battle: The Flanimals of the world unite to take on the Bletchlings. Tragically, it's not enough.
  • From Bad to Worse: The Flanimals start gaining the upper hand against the Bletchlings...only for millions more to arise, thanks to a particularly large number of their eggs surviving over the last thousand years.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Parodied. The Monk Worm has the ability to regenerate if it's cut in half. Unfortunately, both halves grow new tail ends, so the head just watches the blind, double-bottomed sprute sack wiggle around until it starves. Then the head starves and dies.
  • The Hero: Parodied. A Loan Figger, one of the most populous creatures inside the Bleak, steps out to combat the Bletchings. With all the Flanimals watching, he picks up a rock and hurls it at an approaching Bletching...only for the rock to bounce back and hit him in the face. Followed by the Bletching squirting him with acidic goo. Still, the act encourages the other Flanimals of the world to unite against the Bletchlings.
  • Hollywood Acid: Bletchlings shoot a sort of goo or webbing from their abdomens, which coats their prey and then melts them into a puddle.
  • Kill 'Em All: The Bletchlings' modus operandi. They go around slaughtering and destroying every living thing they can find once every thousand years. By the end, they succeed in destroying the world.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe/The Anti-Nihilist: The narrator switches between these two modes throughout the story. Not surprising, really. By the end, he's mourning the loss of the Flanimals and admits that he liked all of them. However, when the Sploon is revealed to still be around, he has hope that there will come another day when Flanimals return.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The Bletchlings succeed in killing off all other Flanimals, but they've also guaranteed that there will be nothing to sustain their next generation, which will leave the planet basically empty, aside from the Sploon
  • Together in Death: A Grundit and Puddloflaj die holding hands.