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Series / The Adventures of Pete & Pete

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Left to right: Pete Wrigley, Pete Wrigley.

Ellen: Nickelodeon presents The Adventures of Pete & Pete! Starring Pete, Pete's brother Pete, and me—Ellen—as Pete's girlfriend—
Older Pete: Look, you're a girl, and you're a friend... but you're not a girlfriend!

Older Pete: This is [person/place/thing]. And this is [something associated with it].

The Adventures of Pete & Pete, one of several sitcoms aired by Nickelodeon during the early 1990s, followed the misadventures of two brothers named Pete and their oddball family, neighborhood, school, and town in general. Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi, two members of Nickelodeon's marketing department, created the series in 1988 as shorts meant to advertise Nickelodeon in a more roundabout way. The commercials became a smash hit with viewers, which led to the production of five half-hour specials from 1991 to 1993. Nickelodeon eventually gave the show a full-series order; it ran for three seasons, ending in 1996.

The two titular brothers are named Pete Wrigley for reasons never explained within the series propernote ; Will McRobb once noted that, should you feel the need to ask, you are probably watching the wrong show. This is, after all, the same show where underpants inspectors are guardian angels, a metal detector can find an entire car (still in good condition!) buried at the beach, you can run to the Canadian border in four hours (or use a riding mower), and a mentally challenged man who speaks incoherent sentences and runs around in spandex pajamas is the personal superhero of the younger Pete Wrigley. Two brothers having the same name is arguably the least weird thing going on in the town of Wellsville.


Pete and Pete earned a devoted audience while airing alongside other live-action successes such as Salute Your Shorts and Clarissa Explains It All; it also garnered a Periphery Demographic in college-aged young adults—a demographic that Nickelodeon would not attract again in such large numbers until Invader Zim in 2001—who enjoyed the show's oddball quirkiness. It also helped pioneer a new style of sitcoms shot both on location and without a laugh track, which would become a common practice in the 21st century.


This is a TV Tropes page. And this is a list of tropes associated with The Adventures of Pete and Pete:

  • The Ace: Inspector 34 is perfect at everything—except at having fun. Being scrutinized for bringing a fork, knife, and napkin to a messy outdoor barbeque is what causes him to finally break his "everything must be perfect" attitude.
  • Acme Products: Everything from the Krebstar corporation counts.
  • Actor Allusion: Mr. Mecklenberg has several of these in various episodes, including the Meaningful Nickname "Pop" Nona employs rather than "Dad".
    • In his first episode, he refers to "Endless" Mike as a "stooge".
    • Syd Straw is an indie musician; she gets to sing and play bass in one episode. Not The Cast Showoff because she's in an ensemble lead by Little Pete.
  • Adults Are Useless:
    • The International Adult Conspiracy does little more than gossip and complain to each other over the phone.
    • Subverted with Artie, the Strongest Man in the World. While he may be One of the Kids, he's still an adult man, and he helps resolve the plotline of many an episode. Being the World's Strongest Man has a lot to do with it.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: It's probably unintetional, but near the beginning of "Tool And Die" Endless Mike says "You need a tool? You come to me." Which makes it sound like he's saying he's a tool (in the slang sense of "a jerk or idiot").
  • Animated Tattoo: Spoofed. Little Pete can flex his arm muscles to make Petunia "dance", which has a hypnotizing effect on whoever watches, making them forget what they were talking about.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The metal plate grafted to Mrs. Wrigley's skull usually gets used for something sooner or later, and she never seems to catch on (though she usually does feel a "ping" when it happens). Examples include being used as a magnet, getting struck by lightning, using it as a radio antennae to pick up a radio station from halfway across the world, and reflecting the signal from a garage door opener off in order to close it. Dad hooked up with her in the first place thanks to his using a metal detector at the beach and pinging it off of her skull.
  • April Fools' Plot: In "The Last Laugh", Little Pete concocts a simple prank against his principal that has an elaborate strategy of subterfuge and unusual alliances in order to get it past the principal, who is Properly Paranoid.
  • Artifact of Doom: "Rolling Thunder", the Wrigley family bowling ball, has been passed down from generation to generation. It cannot be destroyed or sent away. It even managed to defeat Artie.
  • Baseball Episode: "Field of Pete"
  • Bowdlerise: Little Pete is fond of calling people "blowhole" as an insult—presumably because the show's writers wanted to use a family-friendly substitute for a certain other kind of "hole".
  • Beachcombing:
    • This happens in the surreal and hilarious way that defines the show's humor. During a family trip to the beach, Dad's metal detector finds a car buried in the sand. The Wrigleys then dig it out and drive home in it.
    • This is also the way that Don met Joyce for the first time when they were younger, all thanks to the metal plate in her head.
  • Berserk Button: In "Yellow Fever", Bus Driver Stu Benedict's is his and his ex-girlfriend's song - "If You're Happy and You Know It".
  • Bigger on the Inside: This is another source of the show's quirky humor. Artie's residence looks like a normal Port-A-Potty, but apparently it is big enough to host a dinner party with a lot of people.
  • Big Bad: Oh god, "Endless" Mike...
  • Big Damn Heroes: Little Pete saving Big Pete from the Pumpkin Eters in "Halloweenie".
  • Book Ends: In "Nightcrawlers", Mrs. Wrigley interrupts a game of flashlight tag he is having with his friends near the beginning. At the end, she plays flashlight tag with Pete to keep him on track to break the world record after all of his friends had dropped out.
  • Brand X: Most Krebstar products are thinly veiled parodies of existing brands, including Kreben-Up soda (7-Up), Kreb of the Loom underwear (Fruit of the Loom), Kreb Newtons (Fig Newtons), Krebbin Donuts (Dunkin Donuts), and Kreb Duds (Milk Duds).
  • Buccaneer Broadcaster: WART Radio is a pirate radio station managed by Little Pete—and it is a little bit (in)famous amongst the neighbors.
  • Call-Back: In "Time Tunnel", Big Pete calls back to the Opening Narration from the original shorts when he thinks about Ellen—she is a girl and a friend, but is she a girlfriend?
  • The Cameo:
  • Canada, Eh?: In "Grounded for Life", Little Pete attempts to run away from home by driving a riding lawnmower to Canada. A Mountie catches him at the border, hitches the mower to the back of his horse, and drags Little Pete home.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Pretty much anything and everything that either Pete tries to pull off ends up biting them on the butt later on.
  • Catchphrase: "I am Artie! The strongest man..." [Dramatic Pause] " the world!"
    • "Pipe!"
    • "The International Adult Conspiracy!"
    • Teddy: "What, you didn't know that?" and "¡Excelente!"
    • Big Pete's narration: "This is [person/place/thing]. And this is [something associated with it]."
      • Mike Maronna apparently did not pick up on this. He once autographed a photo with, "If I had a catch-phrase I'd write it here."
    • Wayne: "Super genius!"
  • Chalk Outline: When Gary the lizard dies, Monica draws a chalk outline before giving his body to Little Pete.
  • Character as Himself: Mom's Plate, the metal plate in Mrs. Wrigley's head; Petunia, Little Pete's tattoo.
  • Character Aged with the Actor:
    • Time in the show, from the shorts to the series proper, progressed almost the same as in real life. Both Michael Maronna and Danny Tamberelli were kids when the first short was aired—11-12 and 7 years old, respectively—and at the end, they were in High School and Middle School.
    • Compare Big Pete's voice-over in the "Valentine's Day Massacre" special to his voice during the actual acting scenes.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Since the show never explains how Artie became "the strongest man in the world", this is the best explanation we have.
  • Charlie Brown from Outta Town: "Mr. Bear" is Big Pete in disguise.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Given the changes between the shorts and specials to the series proper, expect this to happen with some characters—especially, and notoriously, with the bullies before the introductions of "Endless" Mike and Pit Strain for the respective older and younger Petes. A sad case, however, and much more present in the series proper is the sudden disappearance of Nona in Season Three, especially after being promoted in the opening credits.
  • Cloud Cuckooland: Wellsville qualifies, though the outside world does not seem any saner.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: One of the shorts credits at least some of Artie's powers to his outfit, which is a 60/40 blend—60% titanium, 40% cotton.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Downplayed—a group of boys who want to learn a secret from Little Pete take out black markers and draw all over Petunia.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: Played for laughs. Dad attempts to use CPR to revive his lawn. It doesn't work. Because it's a lawn.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The main focus of "X = Why?" is Ellen and her father (Steve Buscemi), with Big Pete playing a supporting character to her instead of the other way around.
  • Drive-In Theater: This is used as a setting when Big Pete and Ellen go on a date.
  • Darkest Hour: In the second part of "Farewell My Little Viking", John McFlemp has purged Artie's memory and turned him into just another white collar guy in a suit. Little Pete, who is normally The Determinator, is on the verge of giving up. Then Mr. Wrigley has a Heel Realization and finds Artie, who goes back to his old ways just in time to see Little Pete stand up for himself against Papercut.
  • The Determinator: Little Pete rarely gives up on anything. In a world filled with people for whom adult swim—no, not that one—is treated like the oppression of free speech, Little Pete is the king doing insane things solely on principle. Once Little Pete stands up to his archnemesis Papercut and revives Artie out of being a boring middle-aged white-collar worker, Artie sees that he is no longer needed and leaves Wellsville to find another young kid in need of a personal superhero.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: This is played with in "Grounded for Life". The episode's basic arc is that Dad has been in a lawn war with an obnoxious neighbor for the past several summers. The man with the best lawn gets to watch the loser mow both lawns for the remainder of summer. Dad always loses, but this year, he is counting on his sweet Kentucky bluegrass to give him the edge. When one of Little Pete's science experiments leaves a scorch mark on the lawn, Dad forces him to replant the grass one seed at a time, makes him into a human sprinkler, and forces him to give the grass a Swedish massage. Pete retaliates by stealing Dad's lawn mower and driving it all the way to the Canadian border. Dad's punishment—grounding Pete for a month—could be seen as Disproportionate Retribution only if you consider how Pete would miss the 4th of July fireworks, which is his favorite part of summer. This being Pete and Pete, the show treats it as Serious Business, as it does with the Fourth of July itself. Eventually, Dad decides to free Pete on the night of the 4th, only to discover he tunneled out. He starts to ground him again, but they end up watching the fireworks together and making up.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • In the original shorts, Hardy Rawls does not take the role of Dad until so much later; another actor played him in the first few shorts.
    • Little Pete does not wear his iconic hat as much in the shorts as he does in the TV series. This is more evident in "New Year's Pete".
    • Petunia counts as well. Though the tattoo's design remains the same throughout the series, the position changed—it was originally on Little Pete's left arm. Danny Tamberelli is left-handed, so assuming that this made the design harder to maintain clean or perfect during shots (since it needed to be redrawn or recolored), and taking into account that he was going to school at the time, it was later changed during the filming of the show's proper first season.
    • The use of other bullies, the shorts had Hat Head; and in "Valentine's Day Massacre" we have Open Face, and they were never used or seen again.
    • The early special "Space, Geeks and Johnny Unitas" ends with the revelation that Joe Jones, a classmate of Big Pete and Ellen's, is in fact an actual space alien visiting from another planet. This is quite the shift from a show that despite very strange and surreal never had any type of supernatural or otherwordly elements outside of this, unless you count Artie's supposed superpowers.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo:
    • Played straight in that Little Pete has a tattoo on his arm of "Petunia", a lounging woman in a Spanish-style dressnote . Subverted in that Mrs. Wrigley is the one embarrassed by it.
    • Little Pete also has an enormous tattoo of a ship on his back. Unlike Petunia, it is never even acknowledged or referenced and only appears on a few episodes when Little Pete has a Shirtless Scene.
  • Enemy Mine: In "Last Laugh", Pit Stain and Little Pete team up against Schwinger.
  • Enfant Terrible: Downplayed but present with Little Pete, who is capable of pulling some extraordinarily nasty acts against those who wrong him (or when he is Drunk with Power), but is rarely motivated to do so of his own volition. The events described in the Noodle Incident section also suggests that he is a borderline supervillain.
  • Escalating War: Ellen's father and Mr. Wrigley get into a huge prank war in the episode "Apocalypse Pete".
  • Exact Words: Little Pete and two other unruly students take Principal Schwinger up on his order to stay in the office until he gets back - And the plot of "All Nighter" is thus set off, because he forgot to let them out of school overnight.
  • Fleeting Passionate Hobbies: This is basically Ellen's defining character trait.
  • Forgotten Aesop: In "Tool and Die", Big Pete learns that Slurm isn't the monster that he thought he was but rather a human being who cares about his job. On top of that, Slurm gave Pete a chance to earn a good grade instead of failing him like he should have. When Slurm returns in "Road Warrior", Pete goes back thinking of Slurm as his nemesis and ends up re-learning the exact same lesson all over again.
  • From Special To Series: The show started out as a few shorts that would air during commercial breaks, followed by a few TV specials before becoming a series.
  • Funny Background Event: You can see Bus Driver Stu beating the straw out of a scarecrow through the bus window while Mike is talking Big Pete into pranking Bill on the bus in "Yellow Fever".
  • Garden-Hose Squirt Surprise: It happens while Artie is trying to water the lawn, getting sprayed in the face with water. He then promptly vows to destroy the "foul green rope", getting into a wrestling match with it.
  • Geek Physiques: The show largely avoids this trope, but Joe Jones from "Space, Geeks, and Johnny Unitas" plays it painfully straight—although he does prove to be both a football and UFO nerd. And an alien.
  • G-Rated Drug: Anyone who consumes an extra-frosty Orange Lazarus too fast can suffer a brain freeze of such intensity that the victim starts tripping.
  • Growing Up Sucks: A recurring theme of the show is that Big Pete grapples with having to grow up and take on more responsibility while Little Pete wants him to keep being a kid.
  • Guardian Angel: Inspector 34.
  • Handy Feet: This happens in "Time Tunnel", in which Big Pete is trying to date Ellen. He calls her on the phone while she is barefoot and meanwhile he asks her random questions, he also asks her "try writing something with your foot." She holds the pencil with her toes and does just that.
  • Heat Wave:
    • In "How We Spent Our Summer Vacation", Mr. Tastee leaves Wellsville. The town's kids thus suffer from the heat of summer without something to help relieve them from it. At one point, the arm fat of one of the adult neighbors hypnotizes them.
    • In "The Call", the phone-ringing "curse" worked in tandem with the hottest summer day that everyone had ever experienced to turn Wellsville even crazier than usual.
  • Human Alien: Joe Jones
  • Iconic Outfit:
    • Little Pete wears a red flannel cap almost everywhere he goes. This gets lampshaded when he is wearing it in the middle of summer. He also wears long-sleeved shirts, even in the middle of the summer, to hide Petunia—a decision mandated by his mother. Oh, and he seems to wear boots all the time.
    • Artie's red-and-blue striped shirt and red pants.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: The theme song, "Hey Sandy", is made of this. The most commonly misinterpreted lyric was "Don't you talk back" as "Does your dog bite?". The lyrics have long since been published...except for the third line, which, according to the DVD commentary, will remain a mystery. The 2020 vinyl release of Music from The Adventures of Pete & Pete has the third line smudged out, as though a printing error occurred.
    • According to the DVD subtitles, the third line is "Can you settle to shoot me?", which fits in with the long-standing rumors that the song is about the Kent State Massacre.
  • Interactive Narrator: Big Pete fills this role and always tells the story after the fact. The narration used in the shorts and the specials were supposed to mimic the kind of long, rambling stories that small children have a tendency to tell; this angle on the narration was dropped during the series proper when Big Pete became too old for that gimmick to work.
  • I "Uh" You, Too: Big Pete cannot say those three words to Ellen, to which Ellen responds, "It's okay, I know." Then she kisses him in the middle of a packed high school stadium.
  • Live-Action Cartoon: The show’s VERY surreal nature lends itself to feeling akin to a cartoon. Besides the obvious example of Artie we have things like “Endless” Mike Hellstrom getting a kid SUCKED into a Hand-drier. In general the show used a lot of weirdness most shows of its ilk had never attempted for the time.
  • Kids Versus Adults: The International Adult Conspiracy qualifies. Any adult might be completely evil—McFlemp, for example, conspired with the adult neighbors to get rid off of Artie—but not every adult is necessarily evil. They just live with the rules that adults need to live with.
  • Kids Play Matchmaker: "Apocalypse Pete" to the extreme.
  • Large Ham: Artie, who loves to announce that he is "the strongest man... in the world!" every chance he gets. He also constantly makes things more dramatic, strikes silly poses, and generally contributes to the strangeness of the show with Cloud Cuckoolander tendencies. No one else is the show comes off as remotely hammy in comparison.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The main theme, "Hey Sandy," is a peppy alt-rock song...that is widely rumored to be about the Kent State Massacre. Naturally, however, it was a chore to get even most of the lyrics clarified—finding out the meaning is all but a lost cause. (See Indecipherable Lyrics above.)
    • Little Pete's favorite song from one episode is "Summerbaby" (performed by Polaris, who also performed the opening theme), which includes lines like "When I'm alone I do things nobody knows" and "Every drop of sex and every little mess I make".
      • Though the version sung in the episode was altered to "Every time I guess and every little mess I make".
    • At this point, almost all of the Pete and Pete music that is authored by Polaris and Mark Mulcahy falls under this trope thanks to their lyrics. Not even the creators are sure about what the songs specifically talk about, save for—maybe—Mulcahy himself.
  • Meaningful Name: This was applied to many of the bullies. Examples include Open Face (who loved his open-faced sammiches), Papercut (who had an obsession with dealing out papercuts and always threw "paper" during Rock-Paper-Scissors), and Pit Stain (whose problem happened to be glandular...and Little Pete's problem happened to be his fist).
    • The only villain to whom this trope does not apply is "Endless" Mike. The nickname is never elaborated upon, although fans have speculated that it refers to either his hatred for Big Pete or his tenure in high school.
    • In a non-bully example, there's Slushmaster Bob Oppenheimer, who even makes his own spin on J. Robert Oppenheimer's famous quote: "I have become Slushmaster, destroyer of brains!"
      • This reaches an even weirder pitch later in the episode when the Slushmaster remarks of his invention: "I wanted to create world peace." J. Robert Oppenheimer prayed that world peace might come about in the years after the second World War. Of course, this Oppenheimer is talking about a slushie-machine, not revolutionary nuclear power, which makes everyone think he is going a bit too far with his Serious Business.
    • In "On Golden Pete", wherein Dad goes on an obsessive quest to catch an elusive striped bass, his HAM radio nickname is revealed to be Ahab.
  • Metaphorgotten: "The Day Of The Dot"
  • Mundane Fantastic: Spandex-clad superheroes, radio signals being picked up by skull plates, sound-proof burp chambers, black-market expired pudding, and underwear-inspecting guardian angels are amongst the many bizarre and improbable events, places, people, and things that no one in Wellsville takes as anything but normal.
    • The Wrigleys once found a fully-functioning car buried in the sand at the beach with a metal detector and drove it home. No one else on the beach appeared to care that much.
    • Artie once pushed an entire house an inch to the left, jumped across all of town at once, and skipped a rock on Neptune. No one seemed to find any of this odd.
  • Noodle Incident: Little Pete has the uncanny ability to find out about these and unnerve people by making a passing mention of them.
    • Of course, Little Pete has his own incidents too:
      • He had a hand in causing a lake to dry.
      • He is partly responsible for the collapse of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
      • His first footsteps were on the ceiling of the porch. You look up above the front door and you see painted black footsteps walking across it.
      • He once freeze-dried Cuba, but Big Pete found it more worthwhile to talk about his prank on his school's principal.
      • He once caused an explosion by putting a humidifier and a dehumidifier next to each other.
      • And no one really knows for certain how he got the tattoo...
    • "Field of Pete" goes wild with this when Little Pete goes from using his epic trash talking skills to using an endless amount of blackmail material he has on the other baseball teams, all of which he implies with only a few words.
    • All we know about how Mom got the plate in her head is it involved a childhood accident.
  • Not So Crazy Anymore: Invoked by Ellen when she describes being a vending machine mechanic as her job of the future:
    "Laugh if you want to, but pretty soon all our needs and dreams will be met by the modern miracle of vending."
  • One of the Kids: A very rare case of a "good" adult child was Artie, the local "superhero", friend to all children, and a positive (albeit weird) role model to anyone who actually listened to him.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: All the school bullies; Openface, Milk Mustache, Ink Stain, Outie, Gravy Breath, Butt Stripe, Endless Mike, Papercut, Pit Stain, Hair Net, and Drawstring.
  • Orphaned Punchline: We never hear Bill's entire joke that causes Teddy to explode milk from his nose, other than the punchline of "So I'll put it over here!"
  • Perfection Is Impossible: Inspector 34 is perfect at everything, including managing to eat barbecue ribs without getting any sauce on his clothes or hands. However, Little Pete points out that he still isn't perfect because he didn't make the barbecue fun, bringing the whole party down with his perfectionist attitude. In that way, he actually made things quite imperfect, which Inspector 34 reacts to as if he's been told a Logic Bomb.
  • Pig Latin: "Ikay ankay ountkay onyay ooyay."
  • Platonic Life-Partners: This is both played straight and played with. By their own admission on the DVD Commentary, the writers were unfamiliar with character arcs, so every episode was written as enitrely self-contained. This meant that Pete and Ellen's friendship was sometimes bent in purpose to fit the plot at hand. Most episodes played the trope straight, but several have one pining for the other, most notably "Day of the Dot", "The Big Quiet", "Time Tunnel", and "Crisis in the Love Zone". (See also: Relationship Reset Button below.)
  • The Power of Rock: Little Pete, in an attempt to fish out an Ear Worm, starts up a band and experiments with various chords, one of which has a disruptive effect on Artie.
  • Put on a Bus: Artie left the show in "Farewell, My Little Viking" after Little Pete learned to stand up for himself and be his own man, feeling like Little Pete no longer needed a personal hero anymore. The real-life explanation of why Artie left is because actor Toby Huss was having medical issues that prevented him from continuing, including ones that affected his memory. Huss has said that all he can remember of his reasons for leaving the show is that he did it "of his own accord" and apparently amicably, according to his commentary on a DVD collection of the show.
  • Reality-Breaking Paradox: Little Pete once caused an explosion by putting a humidifier and a dehumidifier next to each other.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: There actually are a few, Mr. Slurm comes to mind, in fact the Aesop of the episode he's featured in is about Pete overcoming his prejudices about him and his shop class, in general.
  • Relationship Reset Button: Whether Big Pete and Ellen were friends or toying with being more than that was often rendered irrelevant by the next episode. They had a series-finale-quality kiss in front of a high-school-stadium audience in the second episode and nothing ever really came of it. The writers admitted as much on the DVD commentary: "I think we just forgot about it."
  • Rock–Paper–Scissors: Papercut always threw paper.
  • Running Gag: "Sally left me. Again. Over nothing!"
  • Scout-Out: Combined with Brand X, we get the Kreb Scouts that Little Pete's friend Monica is a member of.
  • Serious Business: This is pretty much the point of the show.
    • The school marching band, bedtimes, shop class, bowling balls, school tests, dodgeball, favorite songs, baseball, awkward silence, Daylight Savings Time, Halloween, underwear inspecting, fishing, field trips, good-luck charms, pool piss, pool hierarchy, spring fever, Varsity sports, how fast your electricity meter is spinning...
      • And that is only a very partial list. In every episode, at least one concept, activity, or physical object receives the Serious Business treatment; it often has one for Big Pete and one for Little Pete. Side characters also commonly demonstrate their own serious businesses without following up on their plot. The show's final episode, "Saturday", follows a half-dozen characters and their big reactions to little things.
    • "I created Orange Lazarus...for world peace..." The Orange Lazarus is a slushy drink. This is the only time in the entire series that people think someone is going overboard on how serious they take things—and even then, that is only limited to the "world peace" bit. Everyone else "merely" treats the drink like a Gargle Blaster with nigh-occult powers.
    • How high a family can stack their luggage on top of their car during a family trip is directly related to how men rate other men as the head of a household. When Dad sees another car with an even higher luggage stack than his, he feel threatened and loses confidence in himself—until the rest of the family comes to his aid.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: See the page quote.
    • Big Pete and Ellen tried going on a date once, in the episode "Time Tunnel". In true sitcom style, it was a disaster, but the night still ended well for them (by TV-Y standards).
  • Ship Tease: Two-thirds of the show played Big Pete and Ellen straight as Platonic Life-Partners. The other third falls hard into this trope.
  • Shout-Out: In "Tool and Die", when Pete sneaks around Mr. Slurm's classroom and is caught, the shot of Pete on his back with Mr. Slurm standing over him, both pointing flashlights at each other, is a direct shout out to Reservoir Dogs and its iconic image of Mr. White and Mr. Pink in a standoff. In "X = Why?", there are movie posters in a theater promoting Reservoir Pups and Pup Fiction; that episode also features Steve Buscemi, who appeared in both of the referenced Quentin Tarantino movies.
  • Significant Name Overlap: The main protagonists are a pair of brothers who are both named Pete, because (according ot the shorts), their mother wanted their names to rhyme.
  • Skyward Scream: After Endless Mike has taken out the last of the wrestlers in Big Pete's weight class (who Little Pete was guarding):
    Little Pete: CURSE YOU, ENDLESS MIKE!!
  • Sleep Aesop: In one episode, Little Pete and his friends stay up all night for several nights in order to protest the seemingly-arbitrary rule of bedtimes. This spirals out of control, because the adults treat it as a disciplinary issue, which just makes the kids angrier. The episode has two morals: that sleep is important and that adults sometimes need to explain to kids why rules exist rather than expecting them to follow them without question.
  • Stock Footage: They only seem to have two X-rays of the plate in Mom's head...
  • Surreal Humour: One of the show's better traits was the use of humor in ways nobody would expect, including heavy use of the Funny Background Event, the Noodle Incident, and flat-out weirdness that nobody in the show either notices or cares about.
  • Taking a Third Option: When it comes to Papercut playing Rock–Paper–Scissors, you have two options: choose paper and lose, or be too afraid to choose rock because he will beat you up anyway. Little Pete and his friends finally stand up to Papercut's bullying by creating new hand signs to represent forces of nature (e.g., volcanoes, meteors) that paper cannot defeat.
  • Tattooed Crook: Downplayed but present with Little Pete. He is not an outright crook but he is capable of acting the part, especially if you keep in mind the aforementioned events in the Noodle Incident section or the downright mobster-like behaviour and connections he displays over the course of the show. The fact that he is a tattooed preteen helps the sense of roguishness he exudes.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: There are surprisingly very few scenes featuring just Big Pete and his mother, even though Little Pete gets ample alone time with each parent throughout the series.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: The climax of "Farewell, My Little Viking". Papercut throws paper in Rock, Paper, Scissors, daring Little Pete to throw scissors and defy him. Artie starts to move in to stop Papercut's wrath, but backs off when he sees that Little Pete is capable of handling this on his own. Which he does, by throwing suborbital meteor. This convinces Artie that Little Pete no longer needs a personal superhero, and leaves Wellsville in search of another kid who does.
  • Tranquillizer Dart: Subverted in the Christmas Episode—Little Pete shoots the Garbage Man with one (actually hitting a major vein!), and it takes a couple minutes of real-time to start taking effect.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: As lampshaded in the page quote, above.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: A bulk of the show's episodes are formatted this way. Big Pete's plot revolves around stories relatable to teenagers (e.g., dating, sports, jobs), while Little Pete's plot focuses on more adolescent adventures and Aesops with little, if any, intersection between the two. Any episodes that had both Petes together in the same plot were usually family-related.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: The shorts, specials, and "Day of the Dot" present Ellen as pining after Big Pete, with him having to remind her that she's "a girl, and a friend, but not my girlfriend". Several Season Two episodes, including "Yellow Fever" and "Time Tunnel", turn this around—Big Pete wonders if he has feelings for Ellen, but she no longer reciprocates.
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: Little Pete spends the entire "New Year's Pete" special daydreaming about and saving up for a jetpack sold in the back of a comic book. The jetpack turns out to be a leafblower.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Where The Hell Is Wellsville?: Wellsville, USA is four hours away from Canada if you run (or use a riding lawnmower) and is located in a forested-yet-flat section of the country that is close to the beach.note  While a few episodes apparently stated they were in Michigan, they filmed in New Jersey, and there is a real town of Wellsville, New York. It appears to be east of the Mississippi River, as the call letters for Wellsville radio stations begin with "W" and call letters for radio stations west of the Mississippi start with a "K". According to "Time Tunnel", Wellsville is in the Eastern Time Zone and within bike riding distance of the Central Time Zone.
    • The state nickname is "The Sideburn State". That does not help solve this mystery, but it is worth noting.
  • Wondrous Ladies Room: In the episode "All-Nighter", Little Pete and two of his friends, Wayne and Monica, end up locked in the school overnight by accident. Hijinks naturally ensue as all three take the opportunity to do all the things they would otherwise never be allowed to do on school grounds. Monica decides to check out the boys bathroom, since she has apparently never been inside one in her life. Upon entering, she is astounded by the presence of urinals—and baffled as to their purpose. The two boys, who happened to be in the exact same bathroom for some reason, decide to have some fun by telling her the urinal is "a foot washer".
  • World of Weirdness: Wellsville is this trope. (See also: Mundane Fantastic, Serious Business.)
  • World's Strongest Man: "I am Artie—the strongest man..." [Dramatic Pause] " the world!"
    • His on-camera feats include hitting a golf ball 300,003 yards, pushing a house to the left an inch (he wanted to knock it over, but he had strained a muscle earlier while lifting a brassiere emporium), rolling a bowling ball from Wellsville to Canada, skipping a stone on Neptune, leaving the Wrigley family's gutters clean and spotless by blowing through the drainage pipe (albeit at the cost of said gunk going flying all over the neighborhood), and leaping across the city in a single jump.