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Tracy Beaker Returns (2010-2012) is the sequel to The Story of Tracy Beaker which told the story of Tracy, a headstrong, imaginative girl who grew up in an orphanage after her mother left her there. That is until she met the writer Cam who was only supposed to write an article about the children but ended up fostering Tracy. Fast forward a few years and Tracy borrows Cam's credit card and uses a few thousand pounds to publish an autobiography. To pay back Cam's money, Tracy ends up working at her old home, the "Dumping Ground", and stays on given a chance to leave.

The show ran for 3 seasons with 39 episodes which ended with Tracy leaving the Dumping Ground again. A Spin-Off series entitled The Dumping Ground began airing in 2013 which follows the lives of the kids, both old and new, after Tracy leaves.

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Examples:

  • Cerebus Syndrome: Tracy Beaker Superstar has Tracy being arrested. The Burnywood Menace has Lily almost dying. Slow Burn/The Visitors has two fires at two care homes in quick succession and some new kids with major problems, with lots of screaming and an insensitive social worker.
    • Discussed with Gus and his "Falling List".
    • Series 3, in general, is pretty dark compared to the previous series with more moments of tension and suspense, plus more drama from families and all the kids.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Grandad is full of it.
    • The mention that Cam might foster - she fosters Lily two episodes later. And all the kids being moved to Burnywood at the Series 2 opener - Series 3 reverses this with Burnywood kids being moved to Elmtree.
  • Color-Coded Characters: The kids are all associated with their own colour seen in the clothes that they usually wear. This is also sometimes reflected in their room wallpapers or possessions. This is continued into Series 1 of The Dumping Ground, before being seemingly thrown out of the window from Series 2 onwards.
    • Carmen: Pink
    • Lily: Lilac
    • Johnny: Blue
    • Tee: Blue
    • Liam: Purple
    • Frank: Black
    • Toby: Orange and Green
    • Gus: Navy (with beige chinos)
    • Sapphire: Black
    • Elektra: Electric Blue
    • Tyler: Yellow
    • Rick: Red
    • Jody: Brown
  • Continuity Nod: Subverted in Shadows from Tracy Beaker Returns. In the original episode Time Capsule, a time capsule is buried. In Shadows, it's dug up and included footage of a younger Tracy from "Hollywood". However, the Time Capsule was buried in Stowey House and they moved to Cliffside in the next series before moving to Elm Tree House in Series 5, which is also where the new show takes place now.
    • Justine Littlewood Returns has a Call-Back to Jenny's clothes being stolen. Of course, Jenny's name isn't mentioned, Gina's standing right there (Jenny is actually mentioned one scene later, in relation to this incident). And eating a worm.
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  • Darker and Edgier: Especially when compared to The Story of Tracy Beaker. While the first show had its fair share of drama and serious moments, it was an overall lighthearted and comical show. Tracy Beaker Returns however has much more drama and touches on more serious issues and features more dramatic situations, especially later in the series.
  • Deconstruction: Denis deconstructs two ideas: An insensitive careworker who doesn't care about someone with Asperger's Syndrome, and someone who has an incredibly precious item with the idea of leaving all your things behind in a fire. When the two ideas cross, Gus almost dies. note 
  • Egg Sitting: One episode in series three, "Eggs", has this as a plot.
  • Expy: Quite a lot of characters to the original series.
    • Tracy to Nathan. (A young sometimes irresponsible worker that's often the butt of jokes)
    • Johnny and Tee to Lol and Bouncer. (pair of siblings with fostering problems who prefer to do things together and don't like being separated)
    • Liam to Tracy herself. (scammer and head of the Dumping Ground who tends to rebel against the care workers)
    • Johnny alone to Crash. (boy with temper problems)
    • Gus to Marco. (lonely boy with implied autism)
    • Harry to Maxie. (young boy with connection to...
    • Sapphire to Adele. (teenage girl who wants to move into a flat and considers herself more mature than the other kids)
    • Elektra to Amber. (trouble with a gang, stirs up trouble and tends to be a jerk to everyone)
    • The Kettles to the Wellards. (Sisters with massive problems regarding separate fostering, one sister ends up being split apart from the other two)
    • Gina to Jenny. (foreign Distaff Counterpart to Mike, tends to be stern but very reasonable and well-meaning)
    • Gina to Duke. (large friendly care-worker to act as a vaguely responsible adult)
    • Frank to Jackie. (best friends with the head of the Dumping Ground, grandad trouble, touching episode regarding said Grandad's death)
    • Carmen to Louise. (girly girl who wears lots of pink, goes through some Character Development that changes her character)
  • Extra-Long Episode: In each season, the opening two episodes would be broadcast together into an hour-long format and then split into two 30 minute episodes on later airings. Funnily enough, it is the compilation broadcasts that cut material, while the individual episodes are aired intact.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Council who are responsible for the recurring plots of budget cuts and attempted closures.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Tracy becomes a careworker but she's still a rulebreaker who will do what she thinks is best.
  • I Choose to Stay: In "Moving On", Tracy is offered a job on a newspaper in London, but decides to turn it down as she feels that the Dumping Ground is currently where she wants to be.
  • Jerkass: Lily, Johnny, and Elektra.
    • Lily later on the series tends to be meaner. Her attitude towards Tee in "Summer Holiday", was somewhat justified, but very horrible.
    • Johnny, whilst not the nicest, definitely took several levels in jerkass in the transition between Tracy Beaker Returns and The Dumping Ground.
    • Elektra is the closest you'll get to a Big Bad in this series, although she is more in the Jerk with a Heart of Gold territory, especially in The Dumping Ground.
  • Jerk Ass Ball: Most of the kids pick this up in "Family Values" with most of the kids ignoring Carmen and being rude or dismissive towards her.
    • Also happens in "Summer Holiday" with most of the kids acting this way towards Tee. They are very unforgiving to Tee, especially Lily.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: To varying levels; the cast gets fairly big at it's largest. It's not uncommon for a few kids to either just be in the background or completely absent for an episode.
  • Potty Emergency: Gus during "Anarchy in the DG", when Sapphire had moved the bathroom lock to be fixed onto her bedroom door. Instead, he forces himself to "go" inside Sapphire's bedroom, who trashes Gus's room in retaliation.
  • Put on a Bus: Downplayed - The Story of Tracy Beaker rotated kids a lot, but in Tracy Beaker Returns only 2 of the main kids have permanently left in the new show: Toby and Liam. Poppy and Rosie also leave in Series 1 and Tracy herself leaves at the end of the series.
  • Retcon: In episode two of Tracy Beaker Returns, "New Life's Eve", Tracy discovers a letter addressed to her from her birth mother in a filing cabinet within the Dumping Ground. It is revealed the letter was written in April 2004, six years earlier (soon after the events of "Tracy Beaker: Movie of Me"). Mike is revealed to have intercepted the letter, and Tracy was unaware of its existence until this moment. However, Mike was not working at the Dumping Ground during this time, as this would have taken place between the events of Series 3 and Series 4 of "The Story of Tracy Beaker". This episode also reveals that Tracy's birth mother never came to see her and Mike and Cam hid the truth from her, even though "Movie of Me" revolves around Tracy's birth mother suddenly turning up to the care home.
    • Throughout the series, Tracy claims and acts like she spent her whole time in care at Elm Tree House, however, in The Story of Tracy Beaker, the show mostly took place at Stowey House, before moving to Cliffside in Series 4. The show only took place at Elm Tree House during Series 5, in which Tracy was only there for half the series.
  • Revolving Door Cast: While this is played straight in both The Story of Tracy Beaker and The Dumping Ground, it's subverted here. A few of the kids do end up leaving, but most of the kids stay throughout the entire series, with the only ones leaving being Poppy, Rosie, Toby, Liam, and Tracy.
  • Shouldn't We Be in School Right Now?: While it was averted in The Story of Tracy Beaker, here it's played straight for Tracy Beaker Returns. The Dumping Ground is full of kids that are all of school age and none of them ever go to school nor is school ever mentioned. It's not even hand-waved by saying that they are all on the summer holiday; it is almost as if school doesn't exist in this universe.
  • Sixth Ranger: Elektra in Series 2. Tyler, Rick and, later, Jody, in Series 3.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: In Series 3, Liam leaves and is replaced with Rick Barber, who moves into his room. Like Liam, Rick knows all about scams and con artists, plays guitar and has a passion for music (something Liam later goes on to focus on). Moreover, his role in episodes such as "Justine Littlewood Returns" seems to have originally been written for Liam, as Rick acts closely to Tracy, despite barely knowing her at this point, and works out that Justine's fiance is a fraudster in a similar scenario to Liam's in "Out of Control".
  • The Bus Came Back: Justine Littlewood in "Justine Littlewood Returns" so Mike will be in her wedding.
  • Toilet Humour: There's a massive fart in Money. It's never stated who did it though, it's completely irrelevant to the plot, and at the time, it's ignored by the characters.
    • Out 160 episodes of the show (including the original and The Movie) currently aired, only four episodes have this - a dog poo in the old series, plastic poo in Slow Burn and the real poo in Drained.
  • Unexplained Accent: Johnny and Tee are siblings and grew up together, he has a Yorkshire accent and hers is RP.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Did Tracy repay Cam? We will never know.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: For quite some time, the show took place in the fictional "Pottiswood", which was ambiguously placed not too far South. The mishmash of accents all the kids have does not help matters. However, by The Dumping Ground Season 4, Pottiswood was revealed to be near Newcastle, where the series is filmed.
  • Zany Scheme: The kids involved in the main subplot usually are doing this. Appears frequently in the later seasons of The Dumping Ground.

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