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Literature / Max and Ruby

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Max and Ruby, Ruby and Max!

Max and Ruby is a series of children's books, written by Rosemary Wells. It has been adapted by Nelvana into a Canadian children's cartoon/Kid Com (helmed by Wells), which aired on Treehouse TV and Nick Jr. from its 2002 debut to 2019. Production of new episodes stopped for a while around 2007, but the continued popularity of the series led to revived production of new episodes, with seven official seasons of the program to date and a revived merchandise line.

Max and Ruby are a pair of young sibling rabbits who live in a fairly normal suburb. Their parents are seemingly nonexistent, so it usually falls to older Ruby to look after the younger Max. Young Max, however, is a rambunctious troublemaker with a hugely one-track mind — such to the point that in every episode, his dialogue typically consists of only one word, repeated with a variety of different inflections. In over her head, the somewhat controlling Ruby often tries to bend him to her will. And typically fails. Sometimes, she even goes so far as to drag Max into her Zany Scheme of the day. It typically works out all right in the end, however, and Max's meddling desire to get what he wants is often strangely beneficial to Ruby's scheming.

In 2016, the series underwent its second and most significant Retool. The parents are no longer nonexistent, but instead are seen occasionally on-screen in each episode, though Max and Ruby still mostly solve their problems themselves. Max's dialogue now also includes complete sentences and the character begins attending preschool. The characters having visible parents was later propagated to the books as well, with an newer title even adding baby twin siblings for the characters. The biggest change is Max and Ruby's maturity, when Ruby abandons her Big Sister Bully ways and becomes a supportive older sibling towards Max and also doesn't shun him out anymore, while Max is old enough to solve his own problems and is used as a sub-plot in each episode of the second retool.

This is the second series based on Rosemary Wells's characters with the first being Timothy Goes to School from 2000, which was also produced by Nelvana.

Episodes can be found on the show's official YouTube channel, courtesy of Nelvana.


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  • 20 Minutes into the Past: While the book series started in the 70s and the cartoon started in 2002, the setting of the franchise would sometimes be a mix between the 1940s and late 70s since the characters still use old-fashioned radio to listen to music and a radio show. But the characters are never seen owning any televisions. Which is odd since in one of the later books and a couple of episodes of the animated series would sometimes show a character owning a handheld video game called the Game Bunny.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Ruby was a Deadpan Snarker in the original books, but became more of a Cheerful Child in the animated series.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In the second retool of the series in 2016, where Max can finally speak sentences, Ruby abandons her bossy attitude and becomes a kinder big sister to Max, especially in "Max's Preschool" when she encourages him to be himself.
  • Annoyingly Repetitive Child: In each episode, Max the young rabbit hyperfixates on a subject and says the same single word (or a short phrase) throughout it, which is an inconvenience to his older sister Ruby, as she wants him to follow what she's focusing on.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Max makes this his bread and butter. Of course, he considers Ruby to be an annoying older sibling in kind.
  • Appeal to Authority: Ruby to Max in the "Max, Where Are You?" song from the Bunny Party stage show. "I'm the big sister, you're the little brother. You know I'm gonna find you, one way or the other."
  • Art Evolution: The character animation has improved when the show returned in 2009. The characters move less stiff than they did in the previous episodes.
  • Aside Glance: Max would do this mostly when he does his devious smile. He also does this in the original covers of some of the original Max and Ruby stories.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Max is often naked, but he has no genitals (and all rabbits have their butt covered by the tail). That doesn't stop Ruby from painting a penis (much more discreetly) on her reproduction of the Pablo Picasso painting in "Ruby's Art Stand".
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: With the exception of some of the adult female bunnies such as Max and Ruby's grandmother and Bunnyscout Leader.
  • Birthday Episode:
    • "Max's Birthday" for Max
    • "Bunny Cakes"/"Bunny Party"/"Bunny Money" for Grandma, a 3 part episode where all three episodes take place on Grandma's Birthday.
    • "Ruby's Surprise Party" for Louise
    • "Surprise Ruby"/"Ruby's Birthday Party"/"Ruby's Birthday Present" for Ruby, a 3 part episode where all three episodes take place on Ruby's Birthday.
  • British Royal Guard: There's an episode in which Max and Ruby visit "Bunningham Palace" and Max attempts to get a smile out of one of these, or their bunny counterpart anyway.
  • Bunnies for Cuteness: Definitely a big part of the show's appeal.

  • Christmas Episode: There are at least four Christmas episodes.
  • Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are: Ruby to Max in the "Max, Where Are You?" song in Bunny Party. Her tone of voice indicates that it's Serious Business — she's not in the mood for Max's games.
  • Competence Zone: Strangely, only the Bunny Scouts seem to be fully within it! Grandma is allowed a few, though.
  • Control Freak: Ruby has shades of this, as she is sometimes downright obsessed with making Max do things her way.
  • Convenience Store Gift Shopping: In one episode, Ruby wants to buy Grandma Bunny a birthday present, and tries to talk Max out of buying her something he would want — like candy vampire fangs. However, it's subverted when we find out that Grandma has a sense of humor and likes candy vampire fangs as well as thoughtfully chosen presents.
  • Crying Wolf: In "The Bunny Who Cried Lobster," Ruby tells Max the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf, with Max cast a boy minding toy chicks against wolf attack, after he claims that his toy lobster somehow got out of the cupboard, swiped a piece of her upside-down cake, and went back into the cupboard. (Not that actually says as much directly, he just says "lobster" when she points out what happened to her cake.) As it turns out, it's a Broken Aesop from the beginning, as Max is telling the truth, as Ruby finds out when she concludes the story, summarizes the moral, and then watches the lobster do the exact same thing after she hears Max shout "Lobster!" again. Additionally, in Ruby's version of the story, the villagers actually tell the boy point-blank after the second time that they won't believe him if he calls out a third time, which means they're being actively stupid, as they've now directly surrendered responsibility to someone they've admitted they won't come for when he calls.
  • Dance Party Ending: "Grandma's Dance" ends with Grandma tap-dancing for her guests during her birthday party with Max and Ruby joining in.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sometimes Max has those moments in the times where he does talk.
    • Ruby was also like this in the original books. Especially in the original version of "Max's Chocolate Chicken", where Ruby told Max "Max, you'd have trouble finding your own ears if they weren't attached to your head." this line was removed in the animated series but was kept in the 1991 and 1995 Animated Adaptation which was released on VHS. She did become this in the newer episodes whenever Max gets caught doing something.
  • Death Glare: Max often gives Ruby one when she tries to boss him around.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: The theme song often turns up on the in-show radios and speakers.
  • Disappearing Box: With Max as the volunteer and Ruby as the magician.
  • Don't Wake the Sleeper:
    • In "Quiet Max", Max and Ruby are asked to watch the Huffingtons' house while Baby Huffington is napping, and Ruby tries to get Max to be quiet, but Max wants to listen to the radio. In the end once Max is finally quiet, Ruby attempts to help him play with her lifelike doll Little Miss Miracle, but she presses the wrong button which causes it to make a very loud noise, and that wakes up Baby Huffington.
    • In "Max's Cuckoo Clock", Ruby is to help Baby Huffington with his naptime while Mrs. Huffington is out back at her garden party. Max would rather play with the Huffingtons' cuckoo clock, and Ruby is worried that would wake the baby; however, it isn't until Max actually activates the clock that finally puts Baby Huffington to sleep.
  • The Dreaded Pretend Tea-Party: "Ruby's Tea Party" involves Ruby trying to involve Max in a tea party with her dollies when Max wants to play pirate.

  • End-of-Series Awareness: "Max and Ruby's Big Finish"
  • Every Episode Ending: Either Ruby gets her happy ending because Max ignores her and gets involved, or Max gets his when he turns Ruby's plan against her. He literally has the last word.
  • Expressive Ears: They are most likely to be seen on Max.
  • Fairy Tale: A few episodes made in the new season did a Lighter and Softer retelling of classic fairy tale stories such as Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, and The Frog Prince.
  • Fantasy Landmark Equivalent: In one episode, the rabbit siblings go with their grandma to London on vacation, with one location they see being a Big Ben counterpart called "Big Bun".
  • Fictional Counterpart: The "Game Bunny."
  • Funny Animal: Max, Ruby, and all of the other rabbits.
  • Furry Reminder: One episode in the newer seasons had Max and Ruby hopping on all fours.
  • Genki Girl: Martha especially in the episodes centered around the Bunny Scouts well at least in the first few seasons. Starting in Season 4, Martha's excited personality has been toned down.
  • Grand Finale: The final episode of the original series before the second Retool in 2016, "Max and Ruby's Big Finish", had Max, Ruby, Louise, and Valerie performing a musical number for the neighborhood as a salute for their hard work.
  • Halloween Episode: At least three of them.
  • Happy Dance: Max loves doing this.
  • Hates Baths: Max doesn't like baths in the book Max's Bath and its animated version; he struggles when Ruby tries to bathe him. Hilarity Ensues when Max takes his orange sherbet and grape juice with him into the tub.
  • Hiccup Hijinks: In "Ruby's Hiccups" , Ruby gets hiccups when she and Louise are preparing for an important piano performance. She tries all kinds of methods while having to simultaneously keep Max from distracting her. She's eventually cured when seeing her grandmother with a monster mask. Then Max gets hiccups.
  • Historical Domain Character: In the book version of "Bunny Money". The book would have an In-Universe version of money. Which include bunny versions of famous figures such as Mahatma Gandhi and Julia Child.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Some of Ruby's plans to get Max to behave end up turning on her. For example, in "Max's Bath" after Max finally gets clean in the shower, Max notices Ruby got food smudges on her dress, and in "Ruby's Jewelry Box", Max uses the keep out sign on Ruby's door to keep Ruby out instead of him, basically because the sign doesn't explicitly state who has to stay out.
    • Most noticeable in "Louise's Secret". Ruby is trying to hear a secret Louise has for her over the phone, but Max keeps making noise with his toys. Ruby decides to go listen to Louise on the upstairs phone and asks Max to hold the receiver until she picks up. However, Max ends up hearing Louise's secret himself and hangs up early, causing the call to end and Ruby never finds out.
  • Home Nudist: Max is frequently naked inside (and outside) the house, and Ruby doesn't mind. But Max prefers not to see Ruby's nudity, as seen in "Max's Dragon Shirt", where he notices that Ruby is going to change and immediately fixes his eyes on his own image in the mirror.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode sums up what the plot is about and features either Max or Ruby's name in it, or both on occasion. There are a few exceptions to this.
  • Invisible Parents: If Max and Ruby have any, they go largely unseen. However, their grandmother is a recurring character. Lampshaded in a song titled "Where Are The Parents?" featured in a Max & Ruby stage show. Yes, this song is a big Parental Bonus.
    • It appears as though they have parents as family photos in the backdrop reveal this. However they are never present. (According to the song, "They're on the sundeck just to relax / Not too far from Ruby and Max.")
    • In one of the Baby Max And Ruby books, we do see their mother, but only her body and hands are visible.
    • Finally averted when the parents appear in the newest episodes starting with "Max's Preschool"
  • I Taste Delicious: Happens in one episode, where Max decides that his guacamole facial mask is tastier than being pretty.
  • Jerkass: Ruby can be this in a few episodes towards Max, much to his annoyance. In the second half of the first series, Ruby becomes an even bigger jerk to Max. Rebecca Peters gives a fantastic performance when Ruby gets really angry, making Ruby sound like the Alpha Bitch at school, enough for Max to give a angry glare right back.
  • Just a Kid: Max. He's about four and constantly outwits or outmaneuvers his sister and others; the impression given is that he's often far more clever than he acts.
  • Loophole Abuse: Some of Ruby's plans to get Max to behave tend to turn on her; specifically in "Ruby's Jewelry Box" when she tries to keep Max out of her room with a "NO! This means you!" sign on the door. It doesn't specifically say who can't go into the room, so when Max sneaks into the room at the end, he uses the sign on Ruby and shuts her out instead.

  • Karma Houdini: Max is this in episodes where Ruby doesn't bother him, given how he screws up her plans and gets away with it.
  • Loose Tooth Episode: In "Ruby's Loose Tooth", Ruby literally loses a tooth. Eventually, she discovers that the tooth was in a very crunchy muffin.
  • Multi-Part Episode: Played straight in a few episodes for example, "Surprise Ruby"/"Ruby's Birthday Party"/"Ruby's Birthday Present". It would have been funnier if they had the words "To Be Continued..." at the end of the first two.
  • The Musical: Max and Ruby had a few musical stage shows in the past.
    • Max And Ruby even had their own stage show at Sesame Place a few years ago.
  • Mythology Gag: Ruby's dress in the newer seasons closely resembles her original dress from the original book version of "Max's Chocolate Chicken."
  • Name and Name
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Max gets this from Ruby quite often.
  • Not This One, That One: In "Max's Rocket Run," Max and Ruby go out sledding. They first observe Rocket Run, which Max is thrilled at the idea of. Then, Ruby shows him "where little bunnies go. You'll love it."
    Ruby: This is Bunny Hill, Max. This is the hill you're going to go down. Won't it be fun, Max?
    Max: (looks annoyed, pulls sled away, points towards Rocket Run) Faster!
  • The One Who Wears Shoes: Max and Ruby's Grandmother and there Bunnyscout Leader are one of the most notable characters to be seen wearing shoes.
  • One-Word Vocabulary: Max often says nothing but a single word throughout an episode, with multiple inflections to reflect his emotions. This becomes averted in the newest episodes that have Max speaking in full sentences.
  • Pandora's Box: This was covered in one of the book releases, Max and Ruby's First Greek Myth: Pandora's Box.
  • Parental Abandonment: Max and Ruby's parents would apparently rather be sunbathing than looking after their own kids.
  • Parental Substitute: Ruby often is this to Max.
  • The Quiet One: Max, Roger, Martha, Morris, and Baby Huffington.
  • Rail Enthusiast: Grandma's purchase of a toy train for Max kicks off a four-story train arc.
  • Raised by Grandparents: While never stated, Grandma Bunny does seem to be the only visible adult authority figure in Max and Ruby's lives. This becomes averted when Max and Ruby's parents finally appear in the newest episodes starting with "Max's Preschool."
  • Rascally Rabbit: Max is an innocent example. He's a scheming tot who regularly gets into mischief, much to his sister's dismay.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Grandma often plays this role to Ruby.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: While no live-action shots are ever seen in the animated series or the actual books. This was only present in the spin-off books called "Baby Max And Ruby" which combines real life objects with the characters.

  • Santa Claus: Max's continuous questions of "Why?", "When?", "How?", etc. regarding Santa Claus are the subject of the story "Max's Christmas," eventually leading Ruby to resort to simply "Because!" Especially since he keeps sneaking out of bed to try to see Santa Claus, even though she tells him Santa won't show if they're not sleeping. When Santa eventually does show...
    Santa: (pulling Max's Santa hat over his eyes) Don't look, Max.
    Max: Why?
    Santa: Nobody is supposed to see me.
    Max: Why?
  • Scout-Out: Ruby and her friends are members of the Bunny Scouts. Yes, they have Merit Badges for Everything.
  • Screen-to-Stage Adaptation: A musical stage show was played in a few states.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Word of God is that the show is supposed to be about the universal nature of sibling relationships, good and bad. While Max and Ruby are often at odds, they generally pull through each other in the end.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Ruby being the smarter, if more controlling, one; Max is the wildfire.
  • Signature Laugh: Played straight with Ruby and Louise (Sometimes joined by Valerie and Martha) in almost all of the episodes that feature them on the show. Try getting that out of your head.
  • Silent Snarker: Max usually toward Ruby depending on the moment.
  • A Simple Plan: Leave it to Max to muck it up. Especially if he's the target of it!
  • Sliding Scale of Animal Communication: Level 1 — only rabbits can talk.
  • Spin-Off Babies: Wells made a couple books titled "Baby Max And Ruby" which shows Max as a newborn baby while Ruby is a young child.
  • Tagalong Kid: Often Max, though at least half the time he'd actually rather not, as he's not interested in whatever girly activities Ruby and her friends are doing.
  • Taking the Bullet: By Ruby at a party in "Max Play Catch", when she leaps in front of a cake or flan — whatever it is to save it from a baseball. Extra points for silent Big "NO!".
  • Those Two Girls: Get used to seeing Ruby and Louise, because they have a lot of scenes in the show.
  • Three Shorts: Every episode consists of three 7-minute short stories. As of Season 6, this was changed to the traditional two 11-minute shorts.
  • Title Theme Tune: In fact, the theme song is mostly just the series title repeated.
  • The Unreveal: Whatever was the secret Louise had in "Louise's Secret"?
  • Vocal Evolution: In the earlier episodes, Ruby's voice sounded high pitched compared to newer episodes where she sounded more mature and older due to recasting. This is most notable when she laughs, while in the older episodes she had a cute laugh while in the newer ones she gives a deep chuckle.
    • Max also got a new voice actor, and he sounds more older compared to his previous voice. Since Max was voiced by an actual child.
    • For unknown reasons, Roger sounds younger in the newer episodes when he sounded older in his earlier appearances.
    • Martha sounds more mature and calm compared to her earlier episodes when she actually talked. She previously had a very high pitch voice.
  • Zany Scheme: Ruby has plenty of them, from making fruit-based beauty products to making haunted houses.

Statler: Say, Waldorf. Why does Max always get bossed around by his sister?
Waldorf: I don't know. Maybe it's because he won the award for "Worst Sibling of The Year".
Both Do-ho-ho-ho-hoh!


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Max And Ruby


No! This means you!

Ruby asks Max to read the keep-out sign on her door after she catches him messing with her jewelry box again. Since the sign is rather vague, Max takes advantage of this and decides "you" means Ruby.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / LoopholeAbuse

Media sources: