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Literature / The Littles

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From left to right: Dinky Little, Henry Bigg (top), Grandpa Little (bottom), Tom Little, Lucy Little.

"You can't stop the Littles, 'cause the Littles don't stop!"

The Littles were the title characters of a series of children's novels by American author John Peterson, the first of which was published in 1967. Peterson's books were adapted into The Littles animated series by D.i.C Audio-Visuelnote  and TMS Entertainment (until season 3, which was animated instead by Studio Gallop). In 1985, an animated feature film called Here Come the Littles was released, and the television show ran on ABC Saturday mornings from September 10, 1983, to November 2, 1985. It ran for three seasons, comprising 29 episodes.

Similar to Mary Norton's earlier novel The Borrowers, The Littles features a family of tiny but intelligent humanoid creatures with mouse-like features (the Littles) who live in a house owned by the Bigg family. The mouse-like features include a long, furry tail, long teeth and mouse-like ears. (In the books, only the tail is present, and there are no mouse-like features - mice are in fact deadly enemies of the Littles.) Their height is 46 inches.

This series provides examples of:

  • Agent Mulder: Dr. Hunter seems to be the only man on Earth that suspects the Littles exist (Petersen is a more arguable example because he seems to follow the Doctor out of Undying Loyalty) and he's made it his life's work to expose them. He has certainly applied a lot of undisclosed funds to purchase all of that gear.
  • All Just a Dream: Dinky's Doomsday Pizza.
  • Amateur Film-Making Plot: Seen in Lights, Camera, Littles: not being satisfied with watching movies in a human cinema, the Littles decide to make their own movie using an old Super-8 movie camera in the Bigg's attic. Lucy wants to film an adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, while Tom wants to do a sci-fi epic, but Grandpa flips a coin and Lucy's idea is chosen, much to Tom's dismay. Things get worse when the film makes Tom look bad, so he intentionally "loses" the film when giving it to Henry to be developed, and it falls into the hands of Dr. Hunter. Fortunately for the Littles, Dinky didn't do such a good job shooting their movie, so the film just came out all fuzzy and dark, so Dr. Hunter did not see the Littles and dismissed the film as just being someone's trash, just as he figured.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Until the 3rd season, each episode featured a how-to segment called "Little Ideas for Big People", which showed how to make small arts and crafts projects. It was later replaced by "A Little Known Fact" which featured various historical facts, sometimes related to the places they were visiting in the episode. The latter segment had a teaser before the commercial break that would ask a question about the "little known fact", the answer to which would be revealed at the end of the episode (before the credits).
    • Played straight in the episode "A Little Drunk", where it does not have a teaser before the commercial break, and at the end before the credits roll is a segment where the Littles make a contract that kids could make for their parents to sign promising not to drink and drive, and for kids to not ride with drunk drivers (though it still featured the "A Little Known Fact" title card and music).
  • Androcles' Lion: Tom befriends a cat by removing a splinter from its paw in Here Come the Littles.
  • Animated Adaptation
  • Animation Bump: In some episodes and Here Come the Littles.
  • Animesque: Like many early DiC shows, the overseas animation was done in Japan by TMS and Studio Gallop for the 3rd season leading to scenes that have quite a bit of anime influence. Comical Dinky scenes and scenes of the characters falling with anime-lines behind them are examples. The fact Dinky bares slight resemblance to Lupin the 3rd may also no be coincidence seeing as many of the staff worked on both.
  • Anti-Alcohol Aesop: Covered in "A Little Drunk", where Henry meets his favourite actor, who turns out to have an alcohol problem. Meanwhile Dinky, in an attempt to imitate him, drinks one of his alcoholic beverages, which leads him to get drunk and steal a remote control car; he ends up putting Grandpa's life in danger and nearly hits him with said car. As this is happening, the actor does a motorcycle stunt while drunk and sets the movie studio on fire, leading to Tom and Lucy having to save him.
  • Author Avatar: Peterson (Dr. Hunter's assistant) may or may not be based on John Peterson, the original creator and author of the books.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: A one-sided example - no matter how annoyed Grandpa gets with Dinky, he's always the first to try to help him if he gets into trouble, and in "The Little Girl Who Could", he's so relieved to see that Dinky is OK that he willingly gives him a big hug.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Seen in Twins and The Little Babysitters.
  • Bears Are Bad News: The bear in For the Birds.
  • Big Storm Episode: The Rats are Coming!
  • Bittersweet Ending: "Ben Dinky" - The Emperor has been defeated, and the Roman Littles are able to go to the surface again, but Dinky has to leave behind Cara, the girl he has fallen in love with.
  • Bound and Gagged: Grandpa in "Looking for Grandma Little".
  • Broken Pedestal: In "A Little Drunk," Henry and the Littles are big fans of the action movie star Kurt Corwin, but when they go meet him in Hollywood they are dismayed to find that Kurt is a raging alcoholic that doesn't do his own stunts and is rude to the crew (the latter because of the alcohol).
  • Canon Foreigner: Dr. Hunter, his assistant Peterson, and Cousin Ashley were all created just for the TV series.
  • Cardboard Prison: Dr. Hunter always seems to avoid jailtime for constant offenses not limited to destroying excavation sites, tampering with city property, and borderline trespassing on many occasions.
  • Cartoony Tail: The Littles' tails in the animated series resemble that of donkey tails.
  • Cats Are Mean: The Littles have avoided many cat attacks, even in the opening sequence to the show's second season!
    • Subverted in Here Come the Littles when the cat befriends Tom after he gets a splinter out of its paw.
    • In the novels, they were able to outright tame the cat with a bridle made out of yarn.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Dr. Hunter and Petersen do not appear in Season 3.
  • Composite Character: The TV series' character "Grandpa Little" looks and acts identically to the books' character, "Uncle Pete" (both are fat but extremely adventurous and energetic for their age, playing major roles in every story). However, the books DID have a "Grandpa Little", but he was skinny, weary, and did not play much of a role in the stories.
  • Conveyor Belt o' Doom: Seen in "Prescription for Disaster," when Dinky Little, under the influence of drugs, winds up in an automated bakery's cookie machine (he turned it on, thinking the start button was a police call alarm.) After several near-misses, Grandpa manages to stop the machine right before Dinky can be burned in the oven.
  • Creepy Stalker Van: Played With and overlapping with Spies In a Van in the animated series: Dr. Hunter and his assistant Petersen constantly drive around in a black van full of high-tech Little-detecting gear, and several times the heroes notice that the van is rolling or parked nearby and go Oh, Crap!.
  • The Cutie: Lucy Little
  • Darker and Edgier: Downplayed, while the series is generally bright, cheerful, light-hearten and cutesy there have been plenty of times where it can be surprisingly unwilling to pull its punches when it comes to serious scenes. One of the bigger cases is in Prescription for Disaster which delivers a rather realistic depiction of substance abuse with pills. And when one of those pills accidentally got into the pie Dinky was eating he ended up getting a lot of drug-induced hallucinations which were Played for Drama to nearly getting himself killed in a Conveyor Belt o' Doom. (In which this episode was actually cut when the series was rerun on Toon Disney years later.)
    • The next episode, The Little Scouts, depicts a pilot crash landing into the woods unconscious as the Littles try to save him. The pilot had a fully shown bloody wound that the Littles did treat. Also Grandpa Little & the Scouts were quite aware that the pilot would be in real danger from some of the animals if he stayed in the forest for too long (and so would they).
    • The books are remarkably edgy for the period; they take the ingenuity required to travel, build homes and hide from humans quite seriously, and no "big people" are aware of them at all.
  • Ding-Dong-Ditch Distraction: In "The Little Winner", Tom and Lucy Little are above the ceiling using Mr. Bigg's old fishing rod to retrieve a letter addressed to Dinky from the Biggs' kitchen counter. When Lucy spots Mrs. Bigg walking towards the kitchen, Tom rings the doorbell by pressing a button the Littles rigged to the wiring for the doorbell system above the ceiling. As she goes to answer the door, Tom and Lucy are able to finish reeling in the letter undetected.
  • The Ditz: Dinky Little, much to Grandpa's annoyance
  • Drugs Are Bad: Played straight in a surprisingly realistic manner in Prescription for Disaster.
  • The '80s: Some 1980s cultures appear in this show (as it was produced during this time), such as the rock band in A Little Rock and Roll.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: Happens pretty often. Dinky doing some bumbling antic is usually what triggers them.
  • Evil Uncle: Uncle Augustus in The Movie.
  • Evolving Credits / Music: Each of the three seasons had a different opening sequence and theme song. In fact, while the melody remained the same, there were lyric changes with every version, to the point where the season 3 version had nothing in common lyrically with season 1 other than the Title Drops occurring in the same spots. Averted with the closing credits, which retained the original theme music and the same animation throughout the run.
  • Exit Villain, Stage Left: Dr. Hunter in every episode he's in. Usually thinking he caught the Littles when it turns out to be something more mundane like a dog, a turtle, or a bunch of geese. Sometimes he's foiled by the Police, Henry's parents, etc.
  • Expository Theme Tune: The theme music to the show's second season (1984), though it doesn't fit with the continuity of the movie tie-in (except for Tom and Lucy falling into Henry's suitcase).
  • Faceless Masses: Crowd scenes at times are very sloppily done, featuring blobs that look like variations of the main characters or even less impressive. Very noticeable in "Dinky's Doomsday Pizza".
  • Forging the Will: Uncle Augustus in The Movie to cheat his nephew Henry out of Henry's parents' house.
  • For Want Of A Nail: Dinky's Doomsday Pizza has the Little society fully blown open and all Littles put in animal exhibits because Dinky tried to run a pizza service (in his own bumbling way) and left behind a bunch of pizzas right where Dr. Hunter could find them. Of course, it's All Just a Dream, but the Aesop Dinky learns is to try to be more cautious.
  • Gulliver Tie-Down: Used to restrain a runaway girl who'd fallen asleep in a barn in The Little Fairy Tale. She's able to break loose, but it delays her departure while the Littles prepare a ruse to convince her to return home.
  • Halloween Episode: The Littles' Halloween.
  • Heroic Fire Rescue: Tom and Lucy manage to pull this off in "A Little Drunk," saving a passed-out Kurt Corwin from a raging fire in a sound studio after Kurt attempted a motorcycle jump over molten lava while drunk. They tie Kurt Corwin to a cable that is then tied to a forklift Tom and Lucy drive out of the studio, saving Kurt at the last second before a burning wooden catwalk collapses on him.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Shown completely in "Dinky's Doomsday Pizza" when Dinky dreams The Littles are discovered and captured by Dr. Hunter leading to experiments and being caged at the zoo like animals. Even Henry betrays them for the fame.
  • Intoxication Ensues: In "Prescription for Disaster", Dinky accidentally ingests some of the contents of a prescription pill. Since not only was Dinky not supposed to be taking the medicine but he is much smaller than the woman who is meant to be taking the pills, he has a severe overdose reaction.
  • It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: Throughout the episode The Rats are Coming!
  • Junkie Parent: The central dramatic plot point of "Prescription For Disaster" is that the mother of the little girl of the week is addicted to pills.
  • Last-Name Basis: Dr. Hunter, and his assistant Peterson are only known by those names.
  • Lilliputians: The titular Littles are, as the name implies, six inch humanoids.
  • Limited Animation: While the 1st season opening usually as a fully colored and detailed background thoughout it, an opening that has an unfinished yellow background with limited details can be seen in the Toon Disney airings of "A Big Cure for A Little Illness" and this same opening is shown in the ABC Weekend Preview Special from '83 hosted by Dick Clark.
  • Lethal Negligence: Henry agrees to take a babysitting job, but then is invited to go play football in a field nearby with some of his friends. He decides to leave the infant in the care of his friends, the titular Littles. Grandpa Little tries to warn him that this is a very bad idea and that he needs to take responsibility. A fire starts in the house due to the baby pulling on an electrical cord to a game, and the child is only prevented from receiving serious harm by the quick thinking of the Little family.
  • Logo Joke: All episodes ended with a customized "D.i.C." logo where Dinky dots the "i" with a buttonnote . The movies used the 1984 "Vortex" logo, and syndicated reruns from 2004-2007 replaced them with the Incredible World of DiC logo (however, the original "button i" logo is preserved on the DVDs).
  • Metallicar Syndrome: Dr. Hunter's distinct black van seems to be the only van of its kind in the whole valley, and because of this every time one of our heroes sees it, they instantly recognize it.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Dinky talks up how great he is, how amazing his creations are, and/or how brave he is. Reality is less impressive.
  • Missing Mom/Disappeared Dad: They are lost on a trip to Africa during Here Come the Littles.
  • Monster Clown: When Dinky is under the influence of a drug in the Very Special Episode "Prescription for Disaster," as he attempts to blow up the balloon for his jet-propelled car, he hallucinates the balloon having an evil laughing clown face looming over him.
  • Motivation on a Stick: In Here Come the Littles The Littles rig up a system with Dinky as bait so they can ride and steer a cat.
  • Mouse World: With many things like rubber-powered vehicles and an intricate communications network made of drinking straws.
    • In the books, serious thought is given to how Tinies would engineer things and interact with their environment. They scrounge incessantly to survive. One ingenious invention is the "bottle submarine," made from a jar with two wooden-block arches at its top to keep it afloat, with room in the rest of the jar underwater to look about and store supplies.
  • The Movie: Here Come the Littles, although the 2011 box set has the multi-part episode Liberty and the Littles featured as a second movie.
  • Mushroom Samba: Dinky goes through this in "Prescription for Disaster" when he accidentally ingests some of the drug from a prescription pill that broke open near some pies Dinky was eating. And since Dinky is much smaller than a human adult, the drug affects Dinky worse than the woman who was taking the pills. He sees Grandpa Little as an abominable snowman and a pink gorilla, his balloon-powered car as a huge Monster Clown face, and more, to the point where he ends up on a Conveyor Belt o' Doom in an automated bakery and Grandpa has to save him.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Dinky in "A Little Drunk", when he thinks that he killed Grandpa Little with his drunk-driving (luckily, he just broke Grandpa's walking stick).
    • Tom and Lucy in "A Big Cure For a Little Illness", when they cause Helen to get poisoned by Dr. Hunter's chemical (they were playing somewhere they shouldn't have been, and she came to tell them to get out).
  • Near-Villain Victory: Dr. Hunter in Dinky's Doomsday Pizza. Because of a careless mistake by Dinky, the Littles's whole society is exposed and Dr. Hunter manages to capture all of them and put them in cages as curiosities. Even the Littles best friend Henry betrays them for all the fame and attention. Of course, it turns out to be All Just a Dream, but still.
  • Never Say "Die": Played straight most of the time, but averted at least once each in Here Come the Littles and Liberty and the Littles, and on occasion in some other episodes (Dinky saying "I think my nose just died and went to heaven!" in Prescription for Disaster, or Grandpa talking about the dangers of drinking and driving in A Little Drunk.)
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: Kurt Corwin in "A Little Drunk," but only when he is under the influence of alcohol. Even the movie crew doesn't like to work with him when he is drunk.
  • Playing Sick: In "A Big Cure for a Little Illness", Henry pretends to be ill to obtain the cure for Tom and Lucy's sick mother.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: All over the place.
    • The episode The Wrong Stuff features some "space" background music from Heathcliff & the Catillac Cats.
    • Additionally, the Catillac Cats episode A Camping We Will Go used the Copacetics' rock music from A Little Rock and Roll for the "Nasty Cats" band's music.
    • A music cue from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (also scored by Shuki Levy and Haim Saban) can be heard in a few episodes (such as in "Prescription for Disaster" during the second half of the Conveyor Belt o' Doom sequence, "The Little Babysitters" during part of the House Fire sequence, and "The Wrong Stuff" when the space shuttle attempts reentry and Dinky ends up saving the astronauts) and in the Here Come the Littles movie.
    • The suspense music usually played during Dr. Hunter scenes also can be heard in the Mister T animated series (although that show was created by Ruby-Spears, they also outsourced the music to Saban and Levy).
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: Rats are the size of horses to The Littles, as seen in The Rats are Coming! and The Littles Halloween.
  • Running on the Spot: Dinky in most episodes.
  • Secret-Keeper: Henry Bigg, but only in the TV series and tie-in films. The princess in "Deadly Jewels" also well swears to keep the secret of The Littles and the Mendoza's daughter in "The Little Amazon Queen".
    Henry: *first words in the season 1 opening* I have a very special secret; I'm the only one who knows about tiny people living in our walls, called the Littles.
  • Stock Footage: A shot of Dinky's plane flying away uses this in Liberty and the Littles.
  • Swarm of Rats: Happens in The Rats Are Coming!; such swarms of rats appearing throughout the town of Grand Valley on a dark and stormy night, looking for shelter from the rain and light flooding. This especially is a threat to the Littles, but Grandpa comes up with a great plan to get rid of the rats and save the Little population and the rest of Grand Valley.
  • Teenage Wasteland: The Reveal in Liberty and the Littles involving the Little society that lives within the Statue of Liberty is that they are a bunch of colonists that lost all of their elders early on in an accident and the oldest boy of the group appointed himself as the leader, eventually creating a full-blown tyrannical regime.
  • The Masquerade: The Littles hide their existence from the entire human population, even though they have entire mini-towns, highways, and communities in every Human building, drainpipe, and other urban structure.
  • The Men in Black: The Littles "Civil Defense Network" monitors and keeps secret their world from humans that may find out including Dr. Hunter. They have outposts all over Grand Valley including inside Stoplights, newspaper holders, and even football goalposts. Alarms, periscopes, and talky-tubes keep their tiny world safe somehow.
  • Theme Tune Roll Call: The first-season opening sequence has all the main characters' names spoken, but not as part of the theme song lyrics (basically an extended version of the closing credits theme), but through dialogue within the characters.
    Lucy: Hello, Henry Bigg!
    Henry: Hello, Lucy Little!
    Grandpa: *angry, chasing Dinky* Wait a second, Dinky Little!
    Dinky: *scared, running away* No time, Grandpa Little!
    Lucy: *catching Tom as he jumps towards her on Henry's hand* Watch out, Tom Little!
  • Very Special Episode: There were a few of them, most notably Prescription For Disaster (dealing about drug abuse), A Little Drunk (alcoholism) and The Little Girl Who Could (handicapped people). Every Little Vote Counts could also be considered one as it was to promote election season. (ABC ran a promo with the Littles urging kids to tell their parents to register and vote).
  • Vocal Evolution: Dinky sometimes talks just like Mr. Bigg, mainly because Robert David Hall voices both of them.
    • In the third and final season, Henry Bigg's voice is noticeably lower, due to the boy voicing him getting older.
  • Weird Science: Dr. Hunter's strange inventions....a fake lawn that detects and captures Littles, Ferret Cameras, and a Sub-Normal Heartbeat that even a thing??
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Grand Valley's location is never revealed. It seems to be a suburb of the Big City seen and mentioned in a few episodes.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Grandpa usually calls Dinky "airhead" or "birdbrain". In "Looking for Grandma Little", he calls Dinky by his name, which naturally surprises Dinky.
  • You Dirty Rat!: Any time a rat is seen, it's a negative portrayal, as rats are the size of a horse to the Littles and they attempt to attack them. This is especially prominent in The Rats are Coming!, featuring a Swarm of Rats, but this also applies to individual rats in episodes like The Little Winner and The Littles' Halloween.
    • This is drawn from the books, where mice are a deadly threat to Tinies, and the army of Trash Town is specifically organized to defend against them. The Biggs eventually get a cat, who becomes an occasional ally of the Littles.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Here Come The Littles



Wait, wouldn't a human medicine be far too strong for a Little?

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