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Music / Alvin and the Chipmunks

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Dave Seville: Alright, you chipmunks! Ready to sing your song?
Simon: I'll say we are.
Theodore: Yeah, let's sing it now!
Dave: Okay, Simon?
Simon: Okay!
Dave: Okay, Theodore?
Theodore: O-kay!
Dave: Okay, Alvin? (no response) Alvin? (still no response; irritated) ALLLLVIIIN!!!
— The beginning of The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)

Alvin and the Chipmunks is an American animated music group created by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. for a novelty record in 1958. The group consists of three singing animated anthropomorphic chipmunks:

  • Alvin, the mischievous troublemaking lead vocal (and star) of the group.
  • Simon, the tall, bespectacled intellectual and backup vocal.
  • Theodore, the chubby, impressionable one as well as backup singer.
  • The trio is managed by their human adoptive father, David "Dave" Seville.

In reality, "David 'Dave' Seville" was Bagdasarian's stage name. He took the professional name after being stationed in Seville, Spain during World War II and liked the area (and also because Bagdasarian is a bit of a mouthful to pronounce). Bagdasarian named The Chipmunks after executives at Liberty Records, who released Seville's and the Chipmunks' original albums:

  • Alvin was named for company president Alvin Bennet,
  • Simon for company vice president and record producer Si Waronker
  • Theodore for recording engineer Ted Keep.

The characters became a success, and the singing Chipmunks and their manager were given life in several animated cartoon productions, using redrawn, anthropomorphic chipmunks, and eventually films.

The voices of the Chipmunks were sped up in the playback to create high-pitched voices. This oft-used process was not entirely new to Bagdasarian, who had also used it for two previous novelty songs, including a catchy little tune titled "Witch Doctor", but it was so unusual and well-executed it earned the record two Grammy Awards for engineering, mostly due to the simple but cute sound technique he used to render the voice of the Witch Doctor for the song's nonsensical refrain, "Ooh-eee-ooh-ah-ah ting-tang walla-walla bing-bang".

Bagdasarian decided to capitalize on this success by assigning the voice technique to a trio of singing chipmunks — brainy Simon, gluttonous Theodore and High-School Hustler Alvin — for the best-selling Christmas tune "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)", in which an increasingly annoyed David Seville's attempts to keep his chipmunk singers on-message served as a Framing Device, and led to Dave Seville's trademark Catchphrase, "Alvin? Alvin? ALLLLLLLVIN!"

In 1961, after releasing several albums as "Dave Seville and the Chipmunks", Bagdasarian was able to persuade Format Films and CBS to launch a prime-time cartoon, The Alvin Show, based on the exploits of the Chipmunks in addition to the misadventures of inventor Clyde Crashcup (who invents pretty much everything that already exists), which ran for only one season on CBS due to low ratings. (Competition from NBC juggernaut Wagon Train was a factor, but the main reason for the low ratings was production delays which were largely caused by disagreements between Bagdasarian and Format Films over acceptable character designs for The Chipmunks, which allowed enough time for an imitator, The Nutty Squirrels, to beat the Chipmunks to television by a full year. In addition, Bagdasarian insisted that The Alvin Show skip the addition of a laugh track, against the wishes of CBS.) A number of further Chipmunk albums were released, but interest eventually died down and Bagdasarian retired in the late '60s. The Alvin Show did get replayed on NBC at mid-season of the 1978-79 season (where TV listings billed it as Alvin and the Chipmunks) followed by a syndication run and another on Nickelodeon in the early 1990s.

After Bagdasarian suddenly passed away from a heart attack in 1972, his son, Ross Bagdasarian Jr. took on the mantle of Dave Seville in 1977 and revived the franchise. In 1981, an animated TV movie was made, based (loosely) around the original "Chipmunk Song", in which somewhat cuddlier Chipmunks helped an Inspirationally Disadvantaged boy perform alongside Alvin at Carnegie Hall.

This animated special formed the basis for the 1983-1990 Animated Series Alvin and the Chipmunks, and the 1987 animated movie. The series also introduced Distaff Counterparts to the Chipmunks, "The Chipettes": Jeanette, Brittany and Eleanor. In addition to the usual Sitcom and Animated Series plots common to the era, the show features a great deal of musical numbers, with the Chipmunks and their female counterparts covering popular eighties hits in musical sequences, which is why the series (save for the last season) will never EVER see the light of day on DVD. Although, with the success of the new live-action movies, some select episodes have been released by Paramount.

The show ultimately vanished from the airwaves in the 1990s, save for a couple of direct-to-video movies that downplayed the music angle in favor of generic Holiday plotlines. In the last couple of years however, a live-action adaptation with computer-generated (and realistically sized) chipmunks and Jason Lee as the new David Seville, has revived the characters somewhat. So much so, in fact, that it has spawned three sequels, at least one of which averts Sequelitis.

In the 2007 CGI/live-action movie adaptation and its 2009 sequel, they were voiced in dialogue by Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney. Bagdasarian, Jr. continues to provide the singing voice for Alvin and Karman for Theodore and the Chipettes, but Steve Vining does Simon's singing voice. The project has earned five Grammy awards, an American Music Award, a Golden Reel Award, and three Kids' Choice Awards, and has been nominated for three Emmy awards.

Then in 2009 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, the CGI-rendered Chipettes were voiced in dialogue by Christine Applegate, Anna Faris and Amy Poehler.

An animated series revival, titled "ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks", was announced on October 5, 2012. It began airing in August 2015 on Nickelodeon.

Works that are part of the franchise:

Tropes appearing for the whole franchise:

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    A to M 
  • Absent-Minded Professor: Jeanette is the queen of this trope. In fact, it had to be pointed out quite frequently throughout the series (untied shoelaces, holding a sign upside down, not watching where she's going), to point out she may be book-smart, but lacks common sense and general intelligence otherwise, since many people associated her glasses with her being The Smart Guy (it's simply because she has incredibly poor vision).
  • Adaptation Dye-Job
    • Throughout the franchise, beginning with The Alvin Show all the way up to the live-action ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks, Dave, the Chipmunks and the Chipettes went through different eye colors: Eleanornote went through two, Alvinnote , Simonnote , Theodorenote and Jeanettenote  went through three, Davenote went through four and Brittanynote is the only one who retained the same eye color thus far.
    • Simonnote  and Jeanette note  went through different glasses frame colors.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Alvin and the Chipmunks, as well as The Chipettes experience this with almost every new incarnation. While the characters have experienced some natural Character Development over the years (especially true of the 1980s cartoon series), they have also experienced complete changes in their personalities when it comes to the more recent live action/CGI movies. For example, Simon goes from being Deadpan Snarker with biting sarcasm to having a less cerebral sense of humor with a underlying perverted streak; Theodore's innocence and naivete not only becomes a thing of flanderization, but he also becomes more absent-minded (much like Jeanette usually is); and Brittany is hardly the Alpha Bitch diva that she's been known for in previous incarnations.
  • Age-Inappropriate Dress: The Chipettes are often accused of this, two particular occasions that stand out are the episode, "Goin' Down to Dixie," from the '80s series and The Chipmunk Adventure. In the former, The Chipettes entertain on a riverboat that's also a floating hotel, where they sing Creedence Clearwater Revival's, "Proud Mary," while wearing New Orleans-inspired dresses. This moment became the subject of controversy when the song surfaced on YouTube in 2007, with one troll's comments about The Chipettes being, "A pedophilic rape waiting to happen," sparking an entire internet article as to what exactly the motive behind The Chipettes are. In the latter, The Chipettes find themselves in Egypt, where the Prince wants to marry Brittany, and they are later dressed in harem attire for the rest of the movie; the fact that they also charmed snakes by singing a song called, "Gettin' Lucky," didn't help matters either.
  • Alliterative Name: Simon Seville
  • All Just a Dream: "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" musical segment for The Alvin Show in which the stage where Dave gets annoyed by the chipmunks goofing up the song doesn't happen for real. Dave wakes up in bed with his hand in the air at the end.
    • There were some other episodes in the '80s cartoon show like when Alvin had a fever or when Dave thought he'd shrunk where's he able to stand in someone's a palm.
  • Anthropomorphic Shift: The Chipmunks went from looking like actual chipmunks to only looking sorta like chipmunks (including the Chipettes) to looking like actual chipmunks again and NOW looking like some sort of weird genetic experiment that combines both designs.
  • Anthropomorphic Zig-Zag: Alvin, Simon, and Theodore all started out as actual chipmunks, but via their two cartoon series (The Alvin Show and Alvin and the Chipmunks) they looked less and less like chipmunks. However, in their first live action movie, they all started to look like chipmunks again, although not as much as they did on the original covers.
  • Armenia: Creator Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. and his son are both Americans of Armenian descent.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In the third verse of "Chipmunk Fun", Alvin sings about breaking dishes, getting into fights and pulling pigtails. When Simon and Theodore join in, Dave objects to the next thing they like to do: eating candy.
  • Art Evolution: Starting with the '80s cartoon series, the Ruby-Spears episodes have the characters go through several subtle design changes over the seasons, most notably Dave who becomes less cartoony-looking and more realistic as the seasons go on, but the Chipmunks and Chipettes also look markedly different in the fifth season compared to the first; they get a more rounded, cuter look, which would be further developed in The Chipmunk Adventure and the DiC/Mukarumi-Wolf-Swenson episodes.

    Ironically however, it seems more effort was put into the animation of the Ruby-Spears episodes, the supporting and one-shot characters look more human, and more detail was put into the backgrounds and layouts, while the Mukarumi-Wolf-Swenson and DiC episodes have a more effortless look to them. The character designs did improve with the MWS episodes, and the animation was pretty decent, but the backgrounds and layout were really simplistic; the DiC episodes are pretty awful... a lot of lazy Off-Model animations, the backgrounds continue to be simplistic, and unlike the Ruby-Spears episodes, the human characters have a less human, more cartoony look to them.

    Now compare them all to the original cartoon designs of the 1961 series, from Format Films (an L.A. studio started up by Herbert Klynn and Jules Engel and various other UPA expatriates). The Chuck Jones special, A Chipmunk Christmas is a very notable bridge between the two very different styles, which is lampshaded in the Alvin and the Chipmunks episode "Back to Alvin's Future", where the '80s Chipmunks return to their home circa The Alvin Show, where Simon comments, "Everything looks so flat," to which Alvin adds, "Yeah, who painted this place? The Flintstones?" They even comment on how '60s Dave doesn't look right.
  • Artist and the Band: The group was originally named David Seville And The Chipmunks. After the success of 1980s animated series, their current name appeared on the 1992 album Chipmunks in Low Places and remained since.
  • Ascended Extra / Demoted to Extra: This happens noticably with Jeanette and Eleanor, depending on the medium. In shifting from the series to various different movies, Jeanette is noticably reduced to minor roles (and she's been known to have A Day in the Limelight on the series on occasion). Conversely, Eleanor has a stronger presence in the movies (from rescuing the baby penguin and returning him home in The Chipmunk Adventure to pretty much being the unofficial female lead of Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman), as opposed to the series, where she had seriously been underused compared to the others.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Alvin and Brittany have these moments sometimes.
  • The Bet: Alvin and Brittany's egos make this a routine trope. Takes full effect in The Chipmunk Adventure.
  • Big Brother Instinct: In his own ways, Alvin will come to his brothers' defense, such as when a school bully kept picking on Theodore.
  • Big Eater: Theodore and Eleanor.
  • Birds of a Feather: The trope mostly describes the relationship between The Chipmunks and The Chipettes when paired with their individual Distaff Counterpart. Somewhat subverted with Alvin and Brittany, as their similarities make them clash more than they come to understand each other in their ever Belligerent Sexual Tension.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: "Uncle" Ian & "Uncle" Harry.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Simon and Jeanette.
  • Boy Band: Alvin and the Chipmunks are suggested by some to be the Ur-Example, both for the squeaky music and the "tween" target audience.
  • Brainy Brunette: Jeanette.
    • Simon, starting from the CGI films (brown fur) to the CG-animated series.
  • Brought To You By the Letter A: Alvin usually has a large 'A' on his sweater.
  • Breakout Character: After their first appearance in the '80s cartoon, the Chipettes have become so popular and get more and more screen time overtime in the series becoming regular characters. Now the Chipettes are integral part of the franchise and appear in all media.
  • Butt-Monkey / Chew Toy: Dave, Simon, Miss Miller, Miss Frumpington, Clyde Crashcup, about anybody . . .
    • Alvin's "Aw, nuts".
    • In the '60's version, it's Dave's "Why me?"
  • Chess: Simon is seen playing chess by himself in The Alvin Show episode "Squares" and at a couple of points in Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.
  • Character Development: The Chipettes were originally conceived as female mirrors of The Chipmunks, however, over time, they slowly began to develop more dimension and personality that distinguished them from their respective Chipmunk counterpart.
    • Brittany remained as egotistical as Alvin, though she (being a girl) was much more of a diva, who had to have everything her own way, from whatever Zany Scheme she and her sisters got into, to whatever ensemble she would be wearing.
    • Jeanette became considerably more shy and withdrawn compared to Simon, while she expressed an interest more towards literature than science.
    • Reversed for Eleanor, she became more outgoing and far more active than Theodore, playing just about any sport the school had to offer, while still maintaining a passion for culinary delights.
  • Characterization Marches On: Depending on the medium, and the portrayer, Dave could be rather strict, overbearing, and have a short fuse making him quick to losing his cool (Ross Bagdasarian, Sr.), to being more laid back, easy going, while still being easily flustered (Ross, Jr.), to seemingly like a very reluctant surrogate father-figure (Jason Lee).
  • Character Tic: Each of them seem to have one, but the most noticeable are
    • Simon, whenever conversing about something serious, will remove his glasses, wipe them with a handkerchief, then place them back on his face.
    • During the original incarnation, Theodore giggled at almost everything.
    • Jeanette winks a lot, usually at Simon.
  • Chick Magnet: Alvin.
  • Child Prodigy: Simon.
  • Chromatic Arrangement
    • The Chipmunks:
      • Alvin — Red
      • Simon — Blue
      • Theodore — Green
    • Also applies to The Chipettes, though with a more lighter/feminine shade of each — Brittany's pink, Jeanette's purple (with some blue), and Eleanor's turquoise respectively.
  • Clumsy Copyright Censorship: As of this writing, at least three episodes had their original respective songs replaced on DVD collections: The Clovers' "Love Potion No. 9" (From "Theodore and Juliet"), The Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA" (from "The Curse of Lontiki"), and The Beatles' "When I'm Sixty-Four" (from "The Picture of Health").
  • Color-Coded Characters: Guess.
  • Comic Trio:
    • Alvin = Moe
    • Theodore = Curly
    • Simon = Larry
  • Cool Big Sis: Don't mess with Jeanette or Eleanor, otherwise, Brittany will put the hurt on you!
  • Cover Version: When you get right down to it, the Chipmunks are basically a cover band. The fact that they're chipmunks who have some decent vocals is what gives them a pass, though.
  • Cute Bookworm: Jeanette
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Jeanette is a rare western example.
  • Dagwood Sandwich: Not uncommon at all to see Theodore making himself one of these; nor is it uncommon for those sandwiches to be as tall as him.
  • Deadpan Snarker
    • Alvin, all through the franchise.
    • Simon made subtle remarks in The Alvin Show. Then when the '80s show came along, not so much in the first two seasons, but as the show goes on his sarcasms become both more frequent and more biting. In the Star Trek parody, he literally becomes The Spock.
  • Distaff Counterpart: The Chipettes. Lampshaded by Ian in Chipwrecked. He refers to Theodore as "chubby one" and to Eleanor as "girl chubby one". This also becomes a case of Flanderization for Eleanor; although each of The Chipettes eventually developed their own traits to differentiate themselves from The Chipmunks, Eleanor went back and forth between being a mirror to Theodore, to being her own character, back to being a mirror to Theodore for the remainder of the series.
  • The Drag-Along: In The Alvin Show, Alvin dragged Simon and Theodore. Then comes the '80s show where Simon was occasionally dragged along and in all the movies, especially The Chipmunk Adventure.
  • Dragged into Drag: The 1982 album Chipmunk Rock had Simon and Theodore coax Alvin into dressing up like a girl to be the lead singer for "Leader of the Pack," with Theodore joking they could be "the Chipettes" (predating the actual Chipettes' debut by a year) in performing what Alvin refers to as "a girls' song". (Later releases of the song would cut out this intro.)
  • Edutainment: Believe it or not, some of the episodes veered into this territory. The episode Food For Thought is one example, being a good source to learn American history.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Alvin, although he can be a Jerkass, was even disgusted at the way Brittany was treating and blowing off Jeanette just to get in good with some popular snobby group. You'd think Simon would be more angry at Brittany for this, but surprisingly not the case.
  • Fandom-Specific Plot: Dear lord, they go through so many phases. Popular ones used in fanfiction over the years have included Miss Miller dying, resulting in The Chipettes being adopted by someone else (usually a much younger, and rather abusive foster mother); specific characters (mostly Jeanette) being kidnapped and sent somewhere far from home; one of the characters making a new best friend, who has a troubled past, or lives a sad and depressing life; Dave being a pedophile and secretly wanting Brittany (and it doesn't help there was moment from the show where he seems turned on by a new dress she is wearing). Don't even get the canon or the mixed shippers started on their opposing subjects, it's enough to start World War III.
  • First-Name Ultimatum:
    • The series' famous Running GagAAAAAALVIIIIIIN!!!
    • Theodore gets one in The Alvin Show episode "Theodore's Dog".
    • Then in Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, after both Chipmunks and Chipettes are stranded on the island, Alvin has to become the authority figure when Simon loses his personality, he tries to stop Simon from dancing with Jeanette:
      Brittany: Um Alvin, you're starting to sound like Dave.
      Alvin: Nnnooooooooooooooooo!
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • Choleric — Dave
    • Melancholic — Simon
    • Phlegmatic — Theodore
    • Sanguine — Alvin
  • Four-Fingered Hands
    • The Chipmunks and Chipettes in both cartoons and animated films.
    • Humans in The Alvin Show had four fingers.
    • Subverted for their CGI-rendered selves where all have five fingers.
  • Fur Is Skin:
    • In the two cartoons, the Chipmunks and the Chipettes are both peach colored, but the Chipettes look like they just have peach colored skin and have human-like head hair. The Chipmunks still look like they have fur, however. The subject matter has been debatable with fans, as it's never been exactly clear if The Chipettes have smooth skin (the more generally accepted idea), or if they have much, much shorter and lighter-colored fur than The Chipmunks (there's an odd number of people who will insist this).
    • Contrast that to the two live-action movies where they are less anthropomorphic and have fur and markings more like that of normal chipmunks.
  • Furry Confusion:
    • An early episode of the 1980s series featured Alvin switching places with a wild chipmunk, even dressing it in his clothes; since 1961 and The Alvin Show, the Chipmunks had been stylized into their anthropomorphic state, however, this wild chipmunk resembled Alvin in both appearance and size (roughly four feet, according to franchise co-owner Ross Bagdasarian, Jr.). Alvin is captured by a woodsman who doesn't seem to find it odd that a chipmunk can talk, while Dave, Simon, and Theodore are curious over Alvin's sudden animalistic behavior.
    • Even though The Chipettes are chipmunks as well, they are a lot more anatomically correct compared Alvin, Simon, and Theodore, possessing human-like hair on their heads, and smooth human-like skin; they are even depicted with these features (as well as breasts) during imagine spots where they are matured as adults. It should also be noted that these characters do not have tails... Alvin, Simon, and Theodore's biological mother on the other hand, Vinny, not only has human-like hair on her head, but also body fur, breasts AND a tail.
    • In a few episodes of The Alvin Show, Theodore had a pet parakeet named George. Also in another episode, Dave and the boys go on a camping trip, where Alvin encounters a non-anthropomorphic bear. Not to mention, that basset hound Theodore got.
    • That horse in the "Ragtime Cowboy Joe" musical number is a questionable one. He acted like a stubborn horse who didn't want Alvin, Simon and Theodore on him to him holding the cue cards...
    • In some cases, some animal characters appearing within the '80s cartoon are depicted as both anthropomorphic such as "Uncle" Harry, and non-anthropomorphic; in the latter case, The Chipmunks later adopted a puppy named Lily (this after a stray kitten they found and named Cookie Chomper III was hit by a car).
      • In one episode, Simon and Theodore get back at Alvin for playing pranks on them by having him believe Theodore is transforming into a weredog (after Alvin tricked Theodore into eating a dog biscuit); Theodore even goes so far as to crawl on his hands and knees. Later in the same episode, Simon has Alvin dress as a dog and recite an incantation to break the spell, only to be caught by the dog catcher, who is surprised, but somehow convinced that a dog can talk.
      • On that same token, in Alvin and The Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman, Theodore is bitten by their new neighbor, Mr. Talbot, who becomes a werewolf by night, causing Theodore to turn into a weremunk, but at any given moment; when consulting with a television psychic, she explains that being a chipmunk, Theodore is already naturally closer to animalistic behavior, to which Alvin asks Simon, "Do we resent that?"
    • It has also never been confirmed or denied that The Chipmunks are vegetarians. On The Alvin Show, Theodore orders hamburgers from hotel room service, but is later reminded by Dave that he doesn't eat meat in Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman. Throughout the '80s cartoon, Theodore has been seen at least once making a huge sandwich that appears to have lunch meat on it. However, Alvin has been seen eating a salad for lunch once.
  • Furry Female Mane: The Chipettes have human-like head hair, whereas Alvin and his brothers only have tufts of fur on their heads.
    • By the ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks series, the Chipmunks have now been given their own human-like hair. And they are technically darker shades of the Chipettes' own hair colors.

    N to Z 
  • Negative Continuity:
    • The Chipmunk Adventure went into production shortly after the first season of the 1980s cartoon series. It was here that the character of Miss Miller was developed, as a babysitter for The Chipmunks. Because production of the movie was so massive, it wasn't released until 1987, and by that time, Miss Miller had been introduced a year earlier on the cartoon, as The Chipettes' adoptive mother. So, as far as the movie's universe is concerned, The Chipettes are still living on their own, and Miss Miller hadn't adopted them yet.
    • So far, ALVINNN!!! and The Chipmunks has changed two previous aspects among the franchise's canon:
      • Alvin and Brittany are no longer the oldest of their respective litters, Simon and Jeanette are now. This further adds confusion to things when you realize that while loyal fans have known Alvin and Brittany to be the oldest, casual and infrequent observers of the franchise were more likely to assume that Simon and Jeanette were based on being taller, smarter, and more mature than their siblings.
      • The Chipettes are no longer triplets, they each have separate birthdays. This may or may not exactly explain why in Little Alvin and the Mini-Munks Brittany and Jeanette are toddlers, yet Eleanor is still an infant.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Some fans are a little too obsessive over Simon and Jeanette.
  • New Sound Album: On the music side, The Chipmunks Sing the Beatles Hits album in 1964 featured several turning points. It had the Chipmunks doing straight cover versions of contemporary pop songs, which would become their focus for the remainder of Ross Sr.'s life and under Ross Jr.'s tenure. It also marked the point where Ross Sr. stopped doing the singing for the Chipmunks. He still did their speaking voices, but session vocalists now handled the singing.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The name of the group would imply that Alvin is not a chipmunk himself. He is.
  • Non-Standard Prescription: The 1958 song titled "Witch Doctor", in which the Doctor "prescribes" Ooh Eeh Ooh Ah Aah Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: The Chipmunks have been singing their songs since the 1950's, but through numerous albums, several animated shows, and several movies, they don't seem to have aged a day.
  • Not So Above It All: Simon gets this a lot. Most of the time when he's criticizing whatever irresponsible thing they're about to do, he's eventually shown to have just as much fun doing it as Alvin and Theodore, especially in the movie (the Mexico scene in particular comes to mind). Also, more than a few episodes of the show have him criticizing Alvin and Theodore for getting scared of something, only to turn around and get just as scared a few moments later.
  • Person as Verb: Due to the franchise popularizing it, the act of speeding up/shifting audio to make it higher pitched is commonly called "chipmunking".
  • Pink Means Feminine: Besides Brittany wearing pink, the Chipettes have a lighter color scheme than their respective counterparts.
  • Power Trio: Both the Chipmunks and Chipettes.
    • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn — Brittany, Jeanette, and Eleanor.
    • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead — Eleanor, Jeanette, and Brittany.
      • Going by their fur in the CGI films and their CG-animated cartoon hair, now the Chipmunks count — Theodore (blond), Simon (brunet), and Alvin (redhead).
    • Freudian Trio: For the Chipmunks and Chipettes respectively.
    • Rock Trio: The Chipmunks, who were always more of a rock band. The Chipettes are a girl group.
  • Raised by Humans
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: In both bands.
    • Chipmunks: Alvin and Simon.
    • Chipettes: Brittany and Jeanette.
  • Revival: The late 1970s/early 1980s records, the 1980s Christmas Special and Saturday morning series, and the Live-Action Adaptations. A new animated series, ALVINNN!!! And The Chipmunks, was announced in October 2012, and began airing in 2015.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The chipmunks in the ALVINNN!!! revival, despite looking like the result of a weird genetic experiment in crossing chipmunk genomes with that of a human. One troper's response to seeing a picture of the new Alvin for the first time was to check Amazon UK for plushes.
  • Rock & Roll: While the Chipmunks covered famous songs and delved into many genres, they were mostly portrayed as a Rock band, usually with Alvin on guitar, Simon on keyboards and/or bass, and Theodore on drums.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: Played straight with. In addition to possessing human-like faces and ears, the Chipmunks and Chipettes were originally human-sized, making them more like chipmink-shaped humans. This became averted starting with the 2007 film, when they became the size of chipmunks in real life.
  • Say My Name
  • "Sesame Street" Cred: The Chipmunks seems to be able to get plenty of big-name artists to perform with them in their albums.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Alvin and Brittany.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: The Chipettes have gotten more and more screentime overtime, to the point where the last episode Ruby-Spears (the first showrunning company, followed by DiC) had produced for the series doesn't have Dave or the Chipmunks themselves in it.
    • Simon was overshadowed in The Alvin Show and a number of early episodes of the '80s cartoon (as reflected in fan mail), which devastated franchise co-owner Janice Karman (feeling like a mother neglecting the middle child), so she set out to remedy that, and soon, Simon became "Mr. Popular" among fans.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Title
    • ALVIN & the Chipmunks
    • Even worse in the original series, which was simply The ALVIN Show, not even giving Simon and Theodore the And the Rest treatment.
  • Sweater-Clad Hero: Alvin, Simon, and Theodore wear ankle-length sweaters most of the time during both cartoon series. Averted with their CGI render selves.
  • Talking in Your Sleep
    • Dave at one point in "Alvin's Harmonica" musical segment.
    • Alvin as Captain Chipmunk in the Valentines special.
  • Tamer and Chaster: The Chipettes started off as tame Distaff Counterparts to the main trio, but by the mid-80s they were (intentionally or not) much less tame than before. They often wore Age Inappropriate outfits and did risque dance moves for characters who were implied to be eight at least once. The Alvin and the Chipmunks live action film attempted to do away with their midriff baring outfits and short skirts. ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks portrays them in a similar fashion.
  • The Team: The standard Power Trio sees Alvin as the boisterous, conceited, off the wall Leader. Simon playing double duty as The Smart Guy and The Lancer who tries to stand up to Alvin by suggesting more rational and reasonable alternatives, either as a a Deadpan Snarker or nerd. Theodore rounds them out as the Big Eater Baby of the Bunch who may end up following either of the other two.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: In the live-action Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, the Chipettes have longer hair than the boys and eyelashes. They do wear clothes for the majority of the film, but their first scene has them arrive from the wild (no clothes) with no non-primate breasts or Hartman hips in sight. (And then later, they possess both features, which they shake during their big musical number.)
  • The Kiddie Ride: Alvin in a car, by EMT (the maker of the "famous" offensive Donald Duck ride).
  • Theme Tune Roll Call
    • Alvin, Simon, The-o-dore! Doot, doot, doo-doo-doo-doot...
    • It was used in The Alvin Show intro:
      You'll positively gonna love The Alvin Show
      There's Dave Seville
      And what is more
      Here's the boy who giggles known as Theodore
      Now you see
      On camera three
      The brother known as Simon on the family tree
      And here's the star of the show
      Alvin, Alvin!

      (musical interlude)
      (spoken) I am Clyde Crashcup
  • Totem Pole Trench
    • On an episode of The Alvin Show, the Chipmunks do this to try and get a radio station to play their new record, and they probably would have succeeded if Theodore hadn't poked his head out of the disguise and said, "You're very, very welcome!"
    • Done frequently by Alvin, Simon and Theodore on the Alvin and the Chipmunks cartoon series.
  • Tsundere: Brittany towards Alvin.
  • Tuckerization As noted above, each of The Chipmunks were named after executives at Liberty Records; Alvin named for Alvin "Al" Bennet, Simon after Si Waronker, and Theodore after Theodore "Ted" Keep.
  • Vague Age
    • For starters, both Chipmunks and Chipettes attend Thomas Edison Elementary School in the eighties cartoon series then attend middle school in Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman, but in The Squeakquel, they're in high school. (Then again, there's that "Children's Labor Law" that permitting child actors working for over a period of certain hours so they had to use older actors.)
    • Looking back in The Alvin Show, the Chipmunks aren't seen attending school (except in the "America the Beautiful" musical segment) or working on homework but they appear younger than elementary school if Dave has to tell them what to do when they're finished with a chore. An example is from episode "Haunted House":
      Simon: Hey Dave! I'm done with the dusting! Whaddaya want me to do next?
      Dave: Simon there are lots of things to do, I don't have to tell you what to do!
      Simon: OK Dave!
    • Throughout the franchise, it's been established the Chipmunks and the Chipettes are triplets. But in Little Alvin and the Mini-Munks, Alvin, Simon, Brittany and Jeanette are portrayed as preschoolers while Theodore is at least toddler age who hasn't started school yet and Eleanor is a baby!
  • Vocal Evolution: The Bagdasarians voiced the Chipmunks in a very slow and stiff manner for dialogue initially (likely due to issues timing according to the sped up audio), though throughout the eighties Animated Series onwards they slowly develop a more natural emotional range. This is particularly evident in cases such as Simon, whose better acting allowed for better use of his sarcasm and neuroses.
    • The overall squeakiness of the characters' voices have also changed somewhat throughout the years, and seemingly with each incarnation too. Throughout the '80s series, Simon's voice slowly deepened just about each season, however in more recent years, just about all of their voices seem to have deepened as well, as many fans have noticed; Theodore today, for example, sounds a lot like how Alvin used to sound, while it's rather difficult to tell the difference between Alvin and Simon's voices (listen to, "Ho Ho Ho"), and this combined with a more emphasized Valley Girl speech pattern makes Brittany sound more like a teenager.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Simon (who nevertheless gets a lot of Not So Above It All moments to remind us he's still a kid), and to a lesser extent all the Chipmunks and Chipettes except Theodore.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?
    • This happens to the Chipettes in the movie. This instance could be justified because snakes really do eat rodents, including chipmunks, except for the fact that these chipmunks are somewhere between the size of a housecat and the size of a human. Although the snakes are also absolutely humongous as well.
    • In the two live-action Alvin and the Chipmunks movies, where The Chipmunks and the Chipettes are normal-sized chipmunks, then their fear of snakes is perfectly justified.
    • Also justified in the episode of the '80s cartoon which shows how the Chipmunks came to live with Dave — they were babies, and much smaller, and Dave was torn to pieces when he thought they'd been eaten by a snake at the zoo.
    • In the 2009 live action/CGI movie, Theodore becomes afraid of eagles and Jeanette is for some reason scared of heights.
    • Inverted in The Alvin Show, in the episode "Stanley the Eagle", where The Chipmunks helps the title eagle fly. It's Stanley who's afraid of flying.
  • You Don't Look Like You
    • In the cartoon version, the chipmunks are Funny Animal played straight. The films, on the other hand, make them look more like real-world chipmunks.
    • Also true from series to series. The Alvin Show chipmunks look different than the '80s series Chipmunks (lampshaded in the episode "Back to Our Future") who look somewhat different from the "A Chipmunk Christmas" version. And well, ALVINNN!!!, where the design was changed to resemble some strange yet cute half-chipmunk-half-human hybrid.
    • Dave went through eleven face changes throughout the franchise.