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All Dogs Go to Heaven is a Don Bluth film released in 1989, being very loosely inspired by the obscure 1943 book by Beth Brown.

The film tells the story of a German shepherd named Charlie B. Barkin (voice by Burt Reynolds), a roguish German shepherd con man "with the heart of a marshmallow." After breaking out of the local dog pound, Charlie confronts his business partner, an unscrupulous gangster named Carface Carruthers (voice by Vic Tayback in his second-to-last role) to work out an agreement that'll let the two of them split their profits 50/50 so Charlie can start his own business without giving Carface's a bad name. Carface, who got Charlie sent to the pound in the first place and is looking to do away with him permanently, takes him out for a celebration, gets him drunk and murders him via vehicular manslaughter (dog-slaughter?).

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Despite showing no real morality in life, Charlie arrives at the Pearly Gates and learns that all dogs go to Heaven because, unlike humans, dogs are naturally loyal and kind. Quickly tiring of paradise (and desperate to get his revenge on Carface), Charlie steals back the gold pocket watch which contains his lifeline and returns to Earth. He soon discovers that Carface has been able to keep the casino afloat with a special asset, a young orphan girl named Anne-Marie (voiced by Judith Barsi in her final role) who has the ability to speak to all animals. Along with his friend Itchy (voiced by Dom De Luise), Charlie steals the girl and uses her to bet on horse races, using the money to build his own casino.

Charlie starts to grow attached to the little girl, who desperately wants a family, and undergoes a slow change of heart. Meanwhile, Carface has learned that Charlie is still alive and is plotting to kill him again. Charlie also has to ensure that nothing happens to his watch, as winding it again has cost him his "get into Heaven free" card and he'll be sent to Hell if it stops.

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If the movie is remembered for much else, it's the fact that it was released on the same day as (and financially massacred by) Disney's The Little Mermaid. Disney reclaiming their spot as top dog in the animation business after years of being shown up by Bluth's independent features effectively ended their rivalry and Bluth would spend the following decade producing a string of flops until semi-retiring in 2000.

Dogs, meanwhile, went on to have a healthy shelf life, becoming the highest-grossing VHS release of 1990. Seven years later, it received a sequel, All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 (par for the course for every animated film ever during that time), and a TV series adaptation, neither of which Bluth had any involvement with.


This animated film and its related works provide examples of the following tropes:

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    The 1989 Original 
  • Afraid of Blood: Killer, which may be why he prefers to "use the pliers".
  • All Dogs Are Purebred: According to one song, Charlie is about as mixed as they come, yet he looks like a German shepherd through and through. Itchy identifies himself as a "wiener dog" and Charlie calls Itchy a dachshund during a particular song. Carface appears to be an English bulldog, (although according to the DVD back cover, Carface is a pit bull). The angel dog is a whippet, pointed out by Charlie. Apart from that, a number of minor dog characters look ambiguous enough that they might be mutts, but it's a bit tricky to tell with the art style.
  • Amazing Technicolor Puppies: The puppies Flo is looking after are all bright, unnatural colors compared to all the other dogs, who have more muted colors.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Itchy. He has a distinctly New York Jewish accent, mentions bar mitzvahs, and sure can kvetch.
  • AM/FM Characterization: When Charlie meets up with Carface after escaping from the pound, Charlie turns on the radio so he can listen to some jazz while they talk, while Carface turns it off so they can just talk business. They go back and forth until Carface has enough and pulls out the knob to turn off the radio for good.
  • Anachronism Stew: Killer calls his gun a "Flash Gordon atomic ray gun". Forgetting for a moment that ray guns have yet to become a reality in the 21st century, where did he manage to acquire an atomic ray gun in the year 1939?
  • Animal Talk: A variation: animals can only talk to others of their own species, while the orphan girl Anne-Marie is the only character who is able to speak to all animals. This is made explicit when it's revealed that Anne-Marie is being exploited by Carface, since she can inform him who will win in a race. It's mostly adhered to throughout, but has a handful of subversions, such as King Gator and Charlie's musical number and the horses understanding the dog's insults despite the dogs not understanding them. There's also the never-fully-explained language barrier when Anne-Marie says she can't understand the rat minions because the "talk too funny," implying that the sounds they're making are a language, just not English.
  • Arc Words:
    • "You can never go back," said by the heavenly whippet to Charlie when he winds his watch to go back to Earth, letting him know that he's no longer guaranteed a place in Heaven just for being a dog and that he'll go to Hell if he dies again. During his nightmare, the Hellhound bellows at Charlie "You can never go back!"
    • "Surprise". It's first uttered by Carface when he's talking to Killer about murdering Charlie in cold blood. "A big surprise" The scene after he dies, Charlie sings the number Let Me Be Surprised.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Happens to Charlie twice. The first time is his first death, but instead of feeling at peace, he returns to take revenge on Carface. After he dies for the second time, he averts the trope. But since he sacrificed himself, he plays the trope straight again. And just as the title says, this happens to all dogs when they die. Then again with a title like that, you'd probably expect this trope to show up one way or another.
  • Ascended Meme: The Blu-Ray cover dedicates an awful lot of space to the literal big-lipped alligator.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Downplayed. Charlie manages to go back to Earth and give Carface his just deserts, but in the end, he's still dead from when Carface murdered him.
  • Back from the Dead: Charlie comes back to life the moment he winds his life watch back up, but this forsakes his place in Heaven.
  • Big Damn Heroes: King Gator pulls this at the end of the movie, showing up just in time to free Charlie and eat Carface.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Charlie dies while saving Anne-Marie, but in the process, redeems himself, earns his way back into Heaven and gets to say goodbye to her one last time.
  • Black Comedy: Inevitable in this movie as it revolves around a dog that dies and comes back to life.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Charlie has a couple with Anne Marie. First, she tries to walk out on him when he spends more time on his casino than helping to find parents for her and not using any of it to help the poor like he promised. He quickly assuages her by taking her to bring some pizza to Flo's puppies. They have a more serious one later when she overhears him telling Itchy that he doesn't care about her and runs off in tears, but they make peace just before Charlie ascends to Heaven.
  • But Now I Must Go: Charlie dies and must return to the afterlife, but he gets to say goodbye to Anne-Marie, telling her "Goodbyes aren't forever."
  • Catch Your Death of Cold: Anne Marie (apparently) catches pneumonia after being in cold water.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Charlie's high-pitched howl. It's first introduced when he uses it to let his presence be known upon returning to Carface's casino. Later, it convinces King Gator not to eat him because he thinks Charlie is singing and loves his voice and signals him during the climax when he's needed.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: A somewhat tragic version of this, Itchy begs Charlie at the beginning not to go through with this harebrained revenge scheme and start fresh somewhere else. He brings it up again when Carface tracks him down, tries to kill him and burns down their new casino.
  • Hell of a Heaven: The afterlife is perfectly nice, but Charlie declares it too clean and bland for his liking and misses the unpredictability of life. Carface obviously hates it as well, and breaks out at the end. Charlie, for his part, appears to warm to the place at the end, when he realizes it has hot soul music.
  • The Hero Dies: Unusually, Charlie dies at the beginning of the movie, only to cheat his way back to life. He dies for good at the end while saving Anne-Marie.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Torn between the choice of saving his own Soul Jar vs. rescuing Anne-Marie from drowning, Charlie picks the latter. It ultimately costs him his life, but also earns his redemption.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Charlie and Itchy, as portrayed by actual heterosexual life partners Burt Reynolds and Dom De Luise. In a surprisingly tragic take on this concept, Itchy's What the Hell, Hero? moment is all about how his love for his best friend is the only reason he goes through with Charlie's crazy schemes which ultimately kills Charlie and almost kills him.
  • Hollywood Natives: The sewer rats, and their leader/god King Gator have bones stuck in their noses. The rats act a lot like the natives from King Kong.
  • Holy Burns Evil: After Charlie's Heroic Sacrifice, Annabelle appears as a small glowing ball of light and either banishes or destroys the giant devil hound that had come to take Charlie to Hell.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Itchy. The guy draws up the blueprints for and builds Charlie's casino by himself!
  • Ink-Suit Actor
    • Charlie is designed with Burt Reynold's thick, expressive eyebrows, as well as a little fluff on his muzzle to resemble Reynolds' mustache.
    • Killer, meanwhile, sports Charles Nelson Riley's comically oversized spectacles and trademark "disgusted" look.
  • It Is Not Your Time: Quite averted for a story where characters returning from the dead is a theme. Charlie, however, lies to Itchy and tells him this is the case.
  • Ironic Echo: Annabelle says to Charlie as he is expelled from Heaven, "You can never come back!" Later, in his nightmare of being dragged into Hell, the devil growls to Charlie, "You can never go back."
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Charlie is a selfish, greedy con artist, but he cares about his friends and is implied to be a Benevolent Boss to the patrons of his casino. One DVD release described him as having "the roguish charm of a con man and the heart of a marshmallow."
  • Karma Houdini: Plot relevant! As the heavenly whippet says, all dogs go to Heaven because, unlike humans, they're naturally good, loyal and kind. She can't find a single redeeming quality about him while looking over his life. Even Carface—murdering, kidnapping, horrible Carface—ends up there at the end. However, there's a catch: if you try to go back to Earth, you don't get back in to Heaven automatically.note 
  • Mood Whiplash: A couple.
    • Halfway through the movie, a happy sharing song, a sad "I Want" Song, and a nightmare all occur one after the other in the span of about ten minutes.
    • After Charlie's ghost says one last goodbye to Anne-Marie and ascends to Heaven, a heavenly chorus sings in the credits right before Charlie demands something a little livelier.
  • Mook–Face Turn: Probably applies to Killer, who loyally serves Carface throughout most of the film, but is the one to swim Anne-Marie to safety at the end. Though it may have more to do with the fact that his boss was just eaten by an alligator.
  • Never My Fault:
    • Carface almost tosses Killer into the Shark Pool for Charlie escaping from the dog pound and surviving being run over by the car, even though both instances were his own doing.
    • Carface's memetic "I'M SURROUNDED BY MORONS!" comes after Killer lost control of his Ray Gun, even though it happened because Carface shoved him.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Despite what they say, this is not a lighthearted comedy.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Two of them.
    • First, Charlie has that ever-so-lovely dream about going to Hell.
    • Second, towards the beginning, after Charlie’s first death, Itchy has a nightmare that Carface is strangling him, but then hears Charlie's voice telling him, "Itchy, it's okay! It's okay, little buddy! It's me, Charlie!" and wakes up to discover Charlie, alive and well, shaking him awake.
  • No Name Given: The heavenly whippet. She's named Annabelle in the sequel.
  • Orphan's Ordeal: Anne-Marie lives in a junkyard and gets kidnapped by a gang of gambling dogs to be exploited for her ability to communicate with animals.
  • Pet the Dog: A rare example where it is the dog which pets the human. Charlie gets this literally when he says goodbye to Anne-Marie.
    • The devil has one when he allows Charlie to do the above before dragging him to Hell.
  • Pounds Are Animal Prisons: The opening of the movie, complete with dramatic jailbreak.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Killer before his Mook–Face Turn at the end of the movie.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Anne Marie. She has been compared to Snow White.
  • Recognizable by Sound: King Gator has Charlie between his jaws when Charlie howls in terror. The sound is so melodious to the alligator that he set Charlie free. Later in the story, the evil Carface has captured Charlie, and has caused Charlie to howl in pain. Miles away, the Big-Lipped Alligator hears this cry, and comes to Charlie's rescue in a Big Damn Heroes moment.
  • Redemption Equals Death: A variation. Charlie dies while saving Anne Marie, but because he proved that he can care for someone besides himself, he saves his soul from Hell, thus saving his afterlife.
  • Reflective Eyes: Charlie and Anne-Marie at the end when they're saying good-bye.
  • Refusing Paradise: A non-heroic example. Charlie tricking his way out of Heaven sets the whole plot in motion.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Charlie is willing to forever forsake his place in Heaven to get revenge on Carface for murdering him in the first place.
  • Right Behind Me: Near the end, Charlie says that he's only using Anne-Marie and only pretends to be her friend to Itchy, unaware that Anne-Marie is standing on the steps behind him.
  • Ring of Fire: Though it doesn't happen IN one, the final fight between Charlie and Carface happens above one, during which Carface falls into it and is eaten by King Gator. Charlie then has to rescue an unconscious Anne-Marie from the burning ring.
  • Sapient Eat Sapient: King Gator only decides not to eat Charlie and Anne-Marie due to Charlie's singing voice, never mind the fact he can apparently communicate with both of them.
  • Satan: A giant red dragon-like creature appears to Charlie in a nightmare of Hell and appears outside Anne-Marie's house near the end of the movie, and is implied to be Satan.
  • Say My Name: It's astounding how many times people say Charlie's name in this movie - 122 times total!
  • Second Face Smoke: Carface does this to a rat and Killer.
  • Sewer Gator: King Gator, who is worshiped by the sewer rats living with him in the sewers of New Orleans.
  • Shark Pool: Carface uses the piranha-filled version of this trope to dispose of Killer after he fails him twice. That is, until Killer mentions he has a gun.
  • Shopping Montage: Used to cheer the disillusioned Anne-Marie.
  • Shout-Out
    • Anne-Marie's outfit and hair are modeled after Disney's version of Snow White. She also owns a Piglet doll.
    • The sequence with King Gator at least starts as an homage to King Kong, up to and including the beast falling for his captive, before completely going off the rails.
    • It's a Buck Rogers ray gun!
  • Significant Reference Date: Charlie's birthday is September 13th, 1937, Don Bluth's birthday.
  • Slasher Smile: Carface breaks into a twisted one after learning that Killer has "a ray gun" stashed away.
  • Soul Jar: Charlie's watch. When it stops ticking, that's the end of his borrowed time... but as long as it remains undamaged, he's immortal.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: How Carface kills off Charlie. By getting him sloppy drunk, blindfolded and lining him up to be hit by a car on a pier. It wouldn't be enough to just lead him into a busy street or drown him, he does both to be one of the few animated villains to actually kill the protagonist early on.
  • Through a Face Full of Fur: Killer turns a sickly shade of green whenever Carface blows from his cigar into his face.
  • Title Drop: Courtesy of the heavenly whippet who also tells us why all dogs go to Heaven: "Unlike humans, dogs are naturally good and loyal and kind."
  • Totem Pole Trench: With two dogs and a human. Amazingly, it works.
  • Undying Loyalty: Itchy to Charlie, to the point of pleading Charlie dump Anna-Marie because she's really testing his loyalty to Charlie.
    Itchy: (tearful and angry) I say we should lose the girl, get outta town, Charlie, you and me and call it even!
  • Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey: Carface, a menacing pit bull crime lord, has the myopic, neurotic poodle Killer for a minion.
  • Visual Pun: Charlie's Soul Jar is a watch. He's living on "borrowed time."
  • Vocal Dissonance: The Heavenly Whippet speaks in a high-pitched, soft voice... which is Melba Moore, who has a naturally deep voice, as shown when she goes to her normal voice when the Whippet either screams, or sings Gospel ("Honey, you know it!")
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: The tribe of sewer rats that captures Charlie and Anne-Marie.
  • Watching Troy Burn: Itchy returns to the monastery to chew Charlie out for wasting too much time with the girl (and nearly getting him killed), just in time for both of them to look over the junkyard and see their new casino go up in flames.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Itchy's rant to Charlie after Carface's thugs nearly kill him. Shortly thereafter, Anne Marie hears Charlie telling Itchy that he's going to use her to get all their money back, then dump her in an orphanage, and she bursts into tears while yelling at him that he's a bad dog.
  • Wild Take
    • Killer springing in mid-air, his eyes bulging in and out, and screaming, after he retrieves and puts back on his glasses, when he sees Charlie and Itchy are out of prison clearly enough the second time.
    • Carface gets two. The first is when Charlie is freed from the anchor. The second is when he sees King Gator swimming towards him.
  • Wingding Eyes: Charlie demonstrates the "dollar sign" version when planning to make a killing using Anne-Marie's talent for talking to animals.
  • You Have Failed Me: Halfway through the movie, Carface is lowering Killer into a piranha tank, after discovering Charlie is still alive.
    Carface: Charlie's alive, and I know he's got the girl. Killer, this is strike two. You're out.
    Killer: No, wait boss, boss! I get one more strike boss, honest!
    Carface: Lower him. Nothing personal, Killer. Business.

    The TV series and Christmas Special 
  • Art Evolution: While the first film boasted Don Bluth's trademark lush, classical animation, with the sequel being lower budget but still reasonably fluid, the TV series simplified the characters to be more youthful and easier to animate until they resembled Filmation levels of Limited Animation. Compare this to this, and you'd almost think these were two different characters.
    • It's especially noticeable since the opening titles consist near entirely of clips from the second movienote .
  • Big Word Shout: Carface screams, "STOOOOPPPPPPPPP!" when Timmy, under the control of Belladonna's dog whistle steals a present and goes out the dog door.
  • Broad Strokes: To say that the series followed the films... loosely would be an understatement.
  • Denser and Wackier: The show really amps up the cartoon antics. Carface, Killer and even Belladonna act more like pantomime villains, and Charlie and Itchy go through ten times more slapstick abuse that what killed them in the two movies.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Belladonna describes "the other side" as an equal opportunity employer when she's trying to recruit Charlie to her side.
  • Evil Counterpart: Belladonna to Annabelle.
  • Grand Finale: "An All Dogs Christmas Carol", a feature length Christmas Special which culminates in Carface undergoing a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Invoked with Carface in the Christmas Special, where Charlie's plot is to turn him good so that Belladonna's plan could be stopped.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: The show can't decide if Charlie is a reformed con artist, a beleaguered servant to Annabelle or an outright petty criminal.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Belladonna, who's episodes are always far more serious in nature and she's considerably more powerful and dangerous than Carface in every way, if still very hammy.
  • Mood Whiplash: Practically invoked in "Clean Up Your Act" in the Christmas Carol. It goes back and forth between visions of Heaven and of Hell. It works because its done by the Ghost Of Christmas Future (played by Charlie) and is showing both possible outcomes to Carface's future.
  • Off-Model: The show was very obviously made on a much smaller budget than the movie, and it shows. Proportions changes from shot to shot, the anthro characters' anatomy flip-flops between canine and humanoid, certain shots are animated with very obvious Ring Around the Collar while others just move the cels up and down and there are a handful of shots where background characters are completely static. To say nothing of the frequent perspective wonks done to make the animation easier. The Christmas Special amends much of this, as it was given a slightly bigger budget.
  • Origins Episode: "When Harry met Silly", detailing how Charlie & Itchy met and became friends.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Happens with Carface in the Christmas Special, which is also the series finale. Applies because he was working as Belladonna's henchman at the time.
  • The Rashomon: "He Barked, She Barked" combines this with a Courtroom Episode where Belladonna accuses Charlie of abusing his miracle dog tag for selfish gain to take a canine widow's steaks while leaving her to presumably die in a sewer pit as it collapsed. Carface's testimony portrays Charlie as a thug more like his pre-Character Development self and himself as a goody two-shoes. Itchy's testimony makes Charlie into an overly heroic figure (complete with a Stetson) and Carface as a Dastardly Whiplash villain. Killer's testimony portrays Carface as his lackey and Charlie as dropping the widow when the "rescue failed". And Charlie's own testimony portrays him as trying to save the widow but dropping her when the miracle dog tag fails to levitate her. The truth is that Belladonna was the widow dog and it was all an obvious scheme to get Charlie's angelic status revoked. And miracle dog tags don't work on hellish beings like her.
  • Recycled In Space: Touched by an Angel WITH DOGS!
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Subverted with Belladonna and Annabelle. The syllables are reversed, not the letters.
  • Terrible Trio: Belladonna usually plays this alongside Carface and Killer whenever she appears.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Cousins Annabelle and Belladonna could easily pass for sisters. It doesn't help that they're played by the same actress.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Belladonna, being quite willing to kill others and ruin their lives For the Evulz. Taken Up to Eleven in the Christmas Special.
    • Colonel Dijon from the episode Free Nelly is arguably an even darker Knight of Cerebus as he's one of the few human villains in the franchise and is shown to be abusing an elephant, threatening to starve her if she can't do her act right.
  • Villain Decay: Played with, compared to his more sinister and murderous mob boss characterisation in the first film, Carface here plays a buffoonish lackey to Belladonna, with Killer even tamer than he was before. Being equipped with her tactics and powers beyond mortal capabilities however makes some of their plans more dangerous and higher scale.
  • Villain Pedigree: Continuing the trend of the sequel, Belladonna is the Big Bad after she shows up and is another demon, with Carface Demoted to Dragon and seen as a far lesser threat than she is.
  • Villainous Crush: At times, it seems Belladonna's interest in Charlie is a bit more than just getting him to 'play for her side' (including shaking her rear at him rather seductively in her Villain Song). Though this doesn't stop her from flying into a psychotic rage when she's foiled.
  • Villain Song: Belladonna, Anabelle's demonic cousin gets one in both appearences. In the first one, it's Take The Easy Way Out, which is an attempt at luring Charlie to her side and it works...for a bit. In the Christmas Special, where she's the Big Bad, she sings I Always Get Emotional At Christmas Time, a song about how much she loves ruining Christmas.
  • Vocal Evolution: Taken Up to Eleven with Charlie, who's on his third voice actor (Steven Webber) by the time of the TV series. While Charlie Sheen's voice for him in All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 had at least a similar low-key smarminess to Burt Reynolds' in the original, Webber plays him much louder and high-pitched.
    • Similarly Carface and Annabelle's replacement actors (Ernest Borgnine and Bebe Neuwirth respectively) while making a halfway attempt to sound like their original voices in the sequel, now play fun on Large Ham mode.


Alternative Title(s): All Dogs Go To Heaven The Series, An All Dogs Christmas Carol

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