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Literature / Horrid Henry

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"Nah nah nee nah nah!"

Horrid Henry is a long-running book series by the American-born British author Francesca Simon that began in 1994 and still continues to this day.note 

Each book contains four stories that gave the reader an insight into the life of a mischievous and rowdy primary school student called Henry and his antics in school and at home. There are occasional Day in the Limelight chapters in which a story is told about another character; this was usually about Henry's younger brother Perfect Peter, who is the complete opposite of him and implied to be the favourite child of their parents.


The book series became really popular in the Turn of the Millennium and spawned an animated TV series in 2006 (which continues today) that mostly adapted some of the short stories into ten-minute episodes, before making episodes of its own in The New '10s after they ran out of stories to adapt.

This was then followed by a live-action 2011 movie adaption named Horrid Henry: The Movie in which it was up to Henry and his friends to save the school from being in the hands of a cruel private school principal.

You can catch up on the new Horrid Henry projects on the official website. Not to be confused with Horrible Harry.

    Current Books 
  • Horrid Henry (1994)
  • Horrid Henry and the Secret Club (1995)
  • Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy (1996)
  • Horrid Henry's Nits (1997)
  • Horrid Henry Gets Rich Quick (1998)
  • Horrid Henry's Haunted House (1999)
  • Horrid Henry and the Mummy's Curse (2000)
  • Horrid Henry's Revenge (2001)
  • Horrid Henry and the Bogey Babysitter (2002)
  • Horrid Henry's Stinkbomb (2002)
  • Horrid Henry's Underpants (2003)
  • Horrid Henry Meets The Queen (2004)
  • Horrid Henry and the Mega-Mean Time Machine (2005)
  • Horrid Henry and the Football Fiend (2006)
  • Horrid Henry's Christmas Cracker (2006)
  • Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman (2007)
  • Horrid Henry Robs The Bank (2008)
  • Horrid Henry Wakes the Dead (2009)
  • Horrid Henry Rocks (2010)
  • Horrid Henry and the Zombie Vampire (2011)
  • Horrid Henry's Monster Movie (2012)
  • Horrid Henry's Nightmare (2013)
  • Horrid Henry's Krazy Ketchup (2014)
  • Horrid Henry's Cannibal Curse (2015)
  • Horrid Henry: Up, Up and Away (2019)


Horrid Henry contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: In a way, Henry's parents are this towards Henry, showing obvious favoritism with Peter.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Henry's Great Aunt Greta calls him Henrietta, as she thinks he's a girl due to her senility.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Some cases are the result of Depending on the Artist.
    • Henry's jumper was sometimes coloured as yellow with a light-blue stripe across the abdomen. Weirdly, it occured in special omnibus books with coloured pictures, despite the front cover showing his jumper as light-blue with a yellow stripe across the abdomen. Since the official books have no coloured illustrations, the latter design choice is the most known and is carried through the franchise.
    • Margaret's hair colour occasionally went from brunette to dark magenta on official artwork. The franchise chose the latter as her definitive hair colour.
  • Adaptational Nationality: Miss Battle-Axe is constantly given a Scottish accent in audiobooks of the series, which even crossed-over to the cartoon, but her nationality is never mentioned in the books.
  • Adaptation Personality Change:
    • In the books, Sour Susan was more miserable and apathetic, and a Deadpan Snarker to Margaret and other people's antics, which is completely different to other adaptations, which turn her into The Dragon to Margaret's Big Bad, repeating her insults like a parrot.
    • For much of the stories, Henry has Ralph as his closest and only friend, whereas everyone else in the class flitted between acquaintances or enemies. Yet other adaptations added more to their two-man team, mostly boys Henry originally wouldn't want to share a room with (noted in the story where Henry struggled to chose who should come to his birthday party) like Beefy Bert and Aerobic Al.
  • Adapted Out: A lot of Henry's named classmates don't appear outside the books. One can infer it's because the ones who do have distinct personalities similar to archetypes that frequently appear in children's media (Beefy Bert, Aerobic Al, Weepy William, Moody Margaret and Sour Susan, Brainy Brian, to name a few), whereas the rest are either similar (notably Tough Toby and Kung-Fu Kate)note  or harder to define (i.e. is "Inky" Ian always covered in ink, and if so, how much?).
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Everyone's nickname; Horrid Henry, Sour Susan, Perfect Peter, etc.
  • Adults Are Useless:
    • Henry is the scapegoat of the family (even if he is being rightfully punished), which leads to him acting out in vengeance.
    • The head-teacher of Henry and Peter's school is named Ms Oddbod, so she may have questionable tendencies.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Subverted in Horrid Henry, Horrid Headmaster, when he becomes the headmaster of Ashton Primary.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Peter's teacher Miss Lovely has no clear ethnicity in the books or cartoon, though her actor in the live-action film is of Indian descent.
  • Ambiguously Gay: There is a theory that Stuck-Up Steve and Bossy Bill in the books might be homosexual due to their friendship being rather affectionate.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Perfect Peter.
  • Anti-Hero/Anti Rolemodel: Horrid Henry.
    • Perfect Peter is a bit of an Anti Rolemodel himself. He's well behaved, but is so obnoxious about it that in real life very few people would want to interact with him.
  • Babysitter from Hell: Rabid Rebecca, to the point where Henry is warned about her by everyone in his class before she steps on his doorstep.
  • Big Bad: It's either Moody Margaret or Perfect Peter, depending on the story.
  • Big Eater:
    • Greedy Graham for definite.
    • Greasy Greta: the Demon Dinner Lady, who eats food that isn't considered healthy from kids' lunchboxes.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Perfect Peter enjoys seeing Henry get into trouble, and tries to provoke him into bullying him when Henry's trying to behave himself.
  • Book Dumb: Henry is as horrid as he illiterate.
  • Brainless Beauty: Gorgeous Gurinder, though the brainless part is somewhat downplayed.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Horrid Henry and Moody Margaret.
  • Big Brother Bully: Henry, to Peter.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Henry has his moments of this towards Peter, despite the above. He once saved him from a falling bookcase, and has taken the blame for him at times.
  • Cain and Abel: Henry is the Cain to Peter's Abel but is the Abel to cousin Steve's Cain.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Beefy Bert's "I dunno."
    • From the Happy Hippos TV show, there was, "We're happy, we're clappy, we're the Happy Hippos."
    • Gross Class Zero TV show had, "Snot, bogies, fart, poo! We're all sick and so are you!"
    • Horrid Henry's "It's not fair!" or "Nah-nah-nee-nah-nah!"
  • Chaotic Car Ride: Horrid Henry's Car Journey, where Henry's family head to see Prissy Polly and both Henry and Peter cause trouble along the way such as arguing to what they want to listen to, being sick all over Mum and Dad, and the occasional Are We There Yet?
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Rabid Rebecca. Henry's warned by all his friends about her horrible antics before she even sets foot on his street.
  • The Dreaded "Thank You" Letter: In one book, it's revealed that Henry hates writing thank you letters because he's both lazy and selfish. When he realises other children also hate writing thank you letters, he decides to make money out of writing their thank you letters for them. However, Henry can't be bothered writing individual letters, so he just types one letter with delete-as-appropriate phrases, none of which are particularly special or polite, including starting the letter with "Dear Sir or Madam", then copies it. This gets all the kids in trouble, including Henry himself, who used the same letter.
  • Dysfunctional Family: Henry is a horrible brat, but his family is pretty messed up too.
    • Perfect Peter is a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who likes to get Henry in trouble for every little thing and expects praise for even the most minor things such as using a fork or “being normal.”
    • Henry’s parents are so ashamed of Henry, that they try to stay as far away from him as possible when they go out in public, pretend he isn’t their son, and even argue over who’s turn it is to take care of him.
    • Henry seems to have gotten some of his horridness from his father, Silly Simon, and Peter has gotten his whinging from their Fussy Uncle Francis. It doesn’t help that Simon sometimes agrees with or helps Henry with his brilliant plans.
    • Henry’s mother always blames Henry when something bad happens, even if Peter literally confesses to doing it.
    • There’s also Rich Aunt Ruby and Stuck-Up Steven, who always feel the need to gloat about their wealth and put their relatives down because of it.
    • Great Aunt Greta is very senile and as a result, always mistakes Henry for a little three-year-old girl named “Henrietta”, and Peter for a teenager, no matter how many times they tell her otherwise. Whenever she sends presents, Peter gets banknotes that he either saves or never uses, and Henry gets pink baby clothes.
    • Prissy Polly and Pimply Paul have a very rocky and complicated marriage. Polly is a bossy nag who expects everything to be her way, never thinking about how others might feel and Paul is an honest and hardworking guy, but he is a frequent victim of oppression from everyone (even his own wife). It doesn’t help that Henry deliberately ruined their wedding.
    • Paul once bought a power-drill to give Polly as a Christmas present, despite her heavily implying she didn't know what to do with it nor that she ever wanted it. He then added he'll going to buy her the attachments for her next birthday.
    • Vomitting Vera barfs constantly and not always because of something she ate.
    • Henry’s grandparents seem to be the Token Good Teammates in the family.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first book opens with a conversational tone, often addressing the reader when introducing them to Henry and his family. This framing device has never been used again throughout the series run.
  • Eyes Always Shut: In "Horrid Henry Reads a Book", Henry decides to make up various "Happy Nappy" stories for the competition to write the most book reports, saying that Miss Battle-Axe can't have read all the books in the world. He makes up stories about Happy Nappies in various places around the world such as Happy Nappies in Germany, Paris, New York, Japan, Australia, and Canada. The Japanese Happy Nappy just happens to have closed eyes.
  • The Finicky One: Henry and Peter's older cousin Prissy Polly.
  • Game Show Appearance:
    • In one story, Henry and Ralph appeared on a wacky kids' game show, provided they brought Peter along, much to their annoyance.
    • Fake game show 2Cool4School features in the film version, which also appears in two episodes of Series 3 of the TV series. Strangely, only the opening sequence is shown on both occasions.
  • Gasshole: Rude Ralph, in some cases, who is implied to sometimes do it on purpose.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: Henry and his friends collected Gizmos once, with the Gold Gizmo being the most prized. The Gizmo is the focus of a book story, a TV episode, and an online game, Horrid Henry 2, where Henry has to take all 30 of Peter's Gizmos.
  • Go to Your Room!: Henry often gets this punishment.
  • Gray-and-Grey Morality
  • Hypocritical Humor: In one of the joke books, Henry states that it isn't fair that Margaret is doing "Snowman" related jokes instead of "Moody" ones. Later on, towards the end of the book, Henry is doing "Pirate" jokes rather than "Horrid" ones.
  • Imagine Spot: Henry often gets one, usually involving him turning into a predatory animal and harassing Peter.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Gorgeous Gurinder.
  • Injection Plot: In "Horrid Henry's Injection", Henry and his class (and Peter) get their injections.
  • In Name Only: Moody Margaret is arrogant, bitter and spiteful, despite "moody" implying she should embrace most of the Sadness Tropes.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Zig-zagged with Henry, who mostly got caught due to his arrogance.
    • Margaret got away with misbehaviour a lot, especially if she was feuding with Henry.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Don't mess with most of the kids in Henry's class. It mightn't end well.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Horrid Henry's Hobby from the Haunted House book featured Henry destroying a display of Sweet Treats cereal boxes to look for the Golden Gizmo for a competition. He doesn't find out until the very end that the family had been banned from the supermarket and forced to buy every box in compensation, and none of them had the Golden Gizmo inside.
    • In the story "Horrid Henry's Revenge", Henry convinces Peter that there were fairies living in the garden that only came out at night. When Peter is distracted, Henry sneaks inside and locks him out, pretending to be asleep in his bed as Peter cried for Mum and Dad, failing to convince them that he'd been tricked by his brother. Unfortunately for Henry, he hadn't realised he was covered in leaves and twigs, but in the morning when Mum went to do laundry, she noticed...
  • Long-Running Book Series: Been running since 1994, currently 20 books with a 21st coming soon.
  • Loose Tooth Episode: In "Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy", Henry feels left out because the only one in his class who hasn't lost any teeth yet, so he unsuccessfully tries to fool the tooth fairy into thinking he's lost a tooth. At the end, his mother hands him an apple and he swallows one of his teeth by accident.
  • Lovable Rogue: Henry may have horrid in his name, but he also has the charm (and luck that his enemies are as repulsive as him) to be sympathetic and entertaining to follow.
  • Meaningful Name: Hear a character's nickname and you know what they're about.
  • Momma's Boy: Perfect Peter.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Miss Battle-Axe.
  • Naughty Is Good: Occasionally plays in Henry's favor.
  • No Fourth Wall: The animated series just completely throws the fourth wall away, with Henry and the other characters constantly addressing and explaining things to the audience. Also broken in the movie, but not as much as the series.
  • Nosy Neighbour: Moody Margaret can't keep her big nose out of other people's business. Especially Henry's.
  • Parental Favoritism: Perfect Peter, especially to his mother.
  • Parental Hypocrisy: Played for Laughs when it comes to Henry's parents, who sometimes aren't above their own little immature feuds with their siblings, as well as their own parents.
  • Parrot Exposition: Sometimes, Sour Susan repeats every deadpan snark that Moody Margaret gives to Henry and his friends. It's more so in the TV series, though.
  • Phrase Catcher: His parents commonly use, "Don't be Horrid, Henry!"
  • Prone to Tears: Weeping William, who sobs at the drop of a hat.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Refuge in Audacity: The stories can go to this point.
    • Whenever Vera vomits. It's never the result of what she's eaten.
    • In protest of sharing a bath together, Peter and Henry's tampering with the bathwater ends with them flooding the house.
    • When Mum's boss and his wife had dinner at Henry's house, Henry sneaks down the stairs and catches Peter playing the cello for the adults when he'd been sent to bed early, so he gate-crashes and attempts to show off too, demonstrating what he'd been learning in karate class by attacking Mum's guests.
    • Henry's class had to do a presentation for Elizabeth II when she visited the school involving them stomping in basins of mud. A bored Henry picks fights with everyone in the class, sending a tidal wave of mud that covers the Queen, Miss Battle-Axe and Ms. Oddbod like gunge. All the Queen can say is, "How lovely."
    • When the family went on vacation to France, they travel with the car by ferry. Peter and Henry spend most of the journey across the English Channel either ordering room service or being hyperactive and then they vomit on their parents when they get seasick.
  • Remake Cameo: Elizabeth Waterworth-Santo, who voices Henry in the animated series, has a non-speaking cameo in the movie as Nitty Nora the nit nurse.
  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: Whenever Henry doubts himself, he reminds himself of all his other adventures from the other stories in which he was victorious. This also doubles as a Call-Back.
  • Rich Bitch:
    • Henry's cousin Stuck-Up Steve, who is also a male Alpha Bitch.
    • Moody Margaret can be this too, even though she lives in the same working-class neighborhood as Henry.
    • Dad's manager's son, Bossy Bill, who Henry meets on Take Your Child to Work Day at Dad's office job.
    • Henry's best friend Rude Ralph is also rich, but it's not the reason he's rude.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang
  • Speech Impediment: Lisping Lily.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Rabid Rebecca.
  • The Unfavorite: Horrid Henry can be seen as this sometimes.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Vomiting Vera's whole gimmick.
  • Walk, Don't Swim: Henry attempts this in Horrid Henry's Swimming Lesson to trick Soggy Sid into thinking he's swum 5 metres. It doesn't work.
  • Where the Hell is Ashton?: There are several towns called Ashton in England.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Horrid Henry and the Mighty Mission is one to Monty Python and the Holy Grail.