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Literature / Pigeon Series

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The Pigeon series is a set of children's picture books by writer/illustrator Mo Willems (some of you might recognize him as creator of the Cartoon Network series Sheep in the Big City). The first book in the series, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, was released in 2003. In it, a bus driver who has to take a break asks the reader to watch the Pigeon, who then tries to finagle the reader into letting him drive the bus. Its runaway success spurred the release of other books, videos, and merchandise. There is even a musicaltour called simply "Pigeon", followed by the year of the tour (2013, 2014...), based on the book.


  • Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
  • Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!
  • The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!
  • The Pigeon Wants a Puppy!
  • The Duckling Gets a Cookie?
  • Don't Let the Pigeon Finish This Activity Book!
  • Don't Let the Pigeon Run This App!
  • The Pigeon Needs a Bath!
  • The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!

The Pigeon also makes cameos in many works by Mo Willems, most notably the Elephant & Piggie series.

This series demonstrates the following tropes:

  • Adaptation Distillation: "The Pigeon Needs a Bath Book" is "The Pigeon Needs a Bath" reissued as a soft bath book that can be taken into the bathtub without being damaged. It cuts much of the story, including the bus driver saying that the Pigeon is filthy, as well as the scene in which the flies won't go near the Pigeon.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The animated version of The Duckling Gets a Cookie?! from Scholastic and Weston Woods has an added scene at the end. In it, The Pigeon sees the Duckling with the second cookie, without nuts, that he got after asking politely for it. He gets angry that the Duckling got another cookie and thinks that the Duckling's cookie, without nuts, looks tastier than the one with nuts that the Duckling gave him.
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  • Angrish: The pigeon throws an all out temper tantrum upon learning that his name isn't in the title of "The Duckling gets a Cookie?!"
    Pigeon: (sobbing) I..I just wanna be in the title. Is THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?! HUH?! IS IT?!! WHY THE-ASGFJFFEGJHEEJH
  • Bad Liar: The Pigeon, full stop.
  • Baths Are Fun: In "The Pigeon Needs a Bath!," the Pigeon is very dirty and smelly and needs a bath, but doesn't want to have one at first. Once he finally comes around, however, he finds that he loves it and stays in it for at least ten hours.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The pigeon wants a puppy!
  • Big "NO!": The audience's expected response to the Pigeon in "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!" and "Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!" The Pigeon himself does this in "The Duckling Gets a Cookie?"
  • Big Word Shout: The Pigeon gets one in every book, inevitably filling up a two-page spread while doing so.
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  • Bird Child: The Pigeon, who throws temper tantrums when he doesn't get what he wants.
  • Blatant Lies: The Pigeon would try all kinds of shenanigans to convince the reader to let him do what he wants, from telling them that "their moms would let him do it" to outright bribing the reader with 5 bucks.
    • The Pigeon's claim to not be tired as he yawns and forces himself to stay awake.
    • The Pigeon's claim in The Pigeon Needs a Bath! that he doesn't need one, even though he has obvious visible stink lines and even flies are avoiding him.
  • Call-Back: As part of his rant during "The Duckling Gets a Cookie?", the Pigeon brings up being told "No!" during the events of past books.
  • The Cameo: Duckling and Knuffle Bunny make cameos as bath toys in "The Pigeon needs a Bath!"
  • The Determinator: As Mo Willems notes in an interview available on the DVD of the animated version of "Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!", this is the Pigeon's defining characteristic and something that he shares in common with real-life pigeons.
  • Didn't Think This Through: The pigeon thinks puppies are adorable and wants one for himself. Evidently he's only ever seen them in pictures because he's totally unprepared for the size of a puppy compared to a small bird. He doesn't learn his lesson, either, as by the end he's decided he doesn't want a puppy after all. He wants a walrus.
  • Fake Interactivity: The answer to the Pigeon is always "No!"
  • Fish Eyes: In "The Duckling Gets a Cookie", the Pigeon has these when he directly faces the viewer during his rant when he talks about asking for a French Fry Robot.
  • Foil: The Duckling is this to the Pigeon in a sense.
    • Subverted by the Mad Cow from "Don't Let the Pigeon Finish This Activity Book!"
  • Food Porn: Done with a hot dog in "The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!"
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: The Pigeon is prone to this.
  • I'll Be Your Best Friend: This is one of the Pigeon's tactics.
  • It's All About Me: This sort of thinking is possibly the Pigeon's most defining characteristic and generally what drives his behavior, especially things such as complaining about not appearing in the title of The Duckling Gets a Cookie? and slipping himself into the Elephant & Piggie titles.
  • Medium Awareness: On the title page of The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!, the Pigeon urges readers "WAIT! Don't read that title!" and is seen dropping his head and stating "Too late. Rats..." at the start of the story.
  • My New Gift Is Lame: Played with in "The Duckling Gets a Cookie?" The Duckling gets a nuts-and-chocolate cookie from the reader. The Pigeon becomes jealously enraged, only to be genuinely surprised when the Duckling gives it to him. After the Pigeon leaves, the Duckling asks for a cookie without nuts.
  • Noodle Incident: In "The Duckling Gets a Cookie?", the Pigeon refers to being repeatedly turned down when he asks for a French Fry Robot or his own personal iceberg. No story so far has shown either of these happening, or what'd he'd even do with those.
  • No Fourth Wall: The reader is encouraged to talk back to the characters, especially in yelling "No!" to the Pigeon.
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: The Mad Cow.
  • Overly Long Gag: The cartoon adaptation for "Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!" has the Pigeon yawn for a whopping 50 seconds.
  • The Pig-Pen: Pigeon becomes one in "The Pigeon Needs a Bath!" The smell becomes so bad, not even the flies would go near him!
  • Tastes Like Chicken: What the Duckling wonders a hot dog tastes like.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Despite what he says, the Pigeon sometimes gets what he wants...though in one instance, he quickly backpedals on it (see Wanting Is Better Than Having below.) "The Duckling Gets A Cookie?" plays this straight by having the Duckling give the Pigeon the cookie.
  • Visible Odor: In The Pigeon Needs a Bath, one of the ways you can tell is the visible stink lines depicted on him on the pages where he insists he doesn't have a smell.
    Pigeon: What smell? (sniffing himself) I don't smell anything! And if I do— it' s very normal smell. For a pigeon.
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: Happens when the Pigeon obsesses about getting a puppy, only to discover it's a lot bigger and messier than he had expected.
  • Won't Take "Yes" for an Answer: In The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?, the Pigeon goes on a rant after learning that the Duckling got a cookie, finally shouting "WHY DID YOU GET THAT COOKIE!?!" When the Duckling replies "So I could give it to you," he thrusts one of his wings at him and shouts "AND ANOTHER THING—" before finally what the Duckling just said hits him. "Hubba-Whaa?!?"


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Dont Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus


The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?

In the announcement trailer for the book "The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?," the Pigeon has a full-on angrish tantrum upon learning that he's not in the title of the book.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / Angrish

Media sources:

Main / Angrish