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Western Animation / Beat Bugs

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Beat Bugs is a 2016 CGI animated series. Created by Josh Wakely for Netflix, the series features insects that sing songs by The Beatles. The entire world (an untamed backyard garden) is built around the lyrics to the numerous songs used and mentioned throughout the series. Wakely took years getting the rights to the music and the staff around him to create the show. The show aims to teach young children life lessons in a gentle manner while using the music of The Beatles.

The series currently has three seasons, the third having premiered in November 2018. Netflix also released a 48-minute special, Beat Bugs: All Together Now on November 21, 2017, featuring "Here Comes the Sun," and also including the songs "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "All Together Now" and "Ticket to Ride." A stage show based on the program, Beat Bugs: A Musical Adventure, began playing in theaters in October 2018. A film, Beat Bugs: The Movie, is currently in development. It's unknown if the show will be renewed for a fourth season.

The success of the series led to another program, on Netflix, Motown Magic, by the same creator. While not set in the same universe, it features a similar concept, in that each installment is themed around a particular song, in this case, Motown music.

Beat Bugs features examples of the following:

  • An Aesop: Most installments aim to teach one of some sort, Be Yourself is a common one because, after all, "Nothing you can do, but you can learn how to be you in time / It's easy!"
  • Agony of the Feet: This happens to Kumi in "Tomorrow Never Knows" when she tries to kick the rainbow brooch as a means of moving it. It happens again in "Hello Goodbye" when she kicks a phone, frustrating at not being able to figure out what it does. It happens to start ringing at that moment, leading her to think at first that it's a kickstarted music machine, at least until she starts hearing a voice on it. Later, when she brings the other bugs to see it, she kicks it again, this time with no results except hurting her foot.
  • Anachronic Order: "Hey Bulldog," in which the characters meet Bulldog, is one of the last installments. Earlier episodes, however, already show Bulldog as an established character, one that the Beat Bugs have met and can even directly talk to using a device that Crick invented. "Hey Bulldog" also shows the invention of this device, the Crickterpreter.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Crick's inventions have odd power sources, from stinkbug power for a Ferris wheel and a hovercraft fueled by sap to a sound-powered bricklaying machine.
  • Appropriate Animal Attire: Most of the bugs fall into Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal, though Buzz is a Fully-Dressed Cartoon Animal, Millie and Blackbird are Accessory Wearing Cartoon Animals, and Walter just lacks clothing by default.
  • Are We There Yet?: In "Michelle," Buzz asks this as Michelle (actually Kumi in a French disguise) supposedly leads the group to her castle, though because she's young and hasn't mastered the English language yet, it comes out "Is we there yet?"
  • Attending Your Own Funeral: In "It Won't be Long," after Buzz and Morgs rescue themselves from being trapped in a hole without the other Beat Bugs realizing it, they approach them from behind, finding them in the middle of delivering a heartfelt eulogy.
  • Balloonacy: This is tried in "Blackbird" as a method to help Blackbird to fly again when she has a broken wing, but it fails because she pops the balloons with her working wing.
  • Bindle Stick: Jay ties up one of these and takes off with his stuff in it when he runs away in "Get Back."
  • Birthday Episode: "Birthday," naturally, for Crick and Jay (who share a birthday), but also Kumi in "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away." Also, "In My Life" has Katter's birthday.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: In All Together Now, the Queen Bee is initially shown to be nice, but then as the special goes on, she starts showing her true colors.
  • Bizarre Alien Locomotion: Walter, being a slug, moves with one "foot" that takes up his entire lower half.
  • Bowdlerization: Some of the songs are changed to make them more child-appropriate. For example, in the song "In My Life," all references to stuff like "friends and lovers" and "Some are dead and some are living" are removed, such that you get "But of all these friends, la la la." On the other hand, "Get high with a little help from my friends" from "With a Little Help from My Friends" survives perfectly intact. See also Curse Cut Short below.
  • Chirping Crickets: This is the answer Walter gets several times when he first starts speaking to "Betsy" in "Got to Get You Into My Life." Betsy is a ball, which Walter later paints with a face.
    Buzz: But that's just a ball.
    Walter: [whispering] Don't hurt Betsy's feelings.
  • Christmas Episode: "Christmas Time Is Here Again," of course, featuring a storyline in which Buzz's Christmas wish is to meet this show's world's equivalent of Santa Claus, the Christmas Beetle.
  • The Cover Changes the Meaning: Even without Bowdlerization, the show derives the most innocent possible interpretations of songs that are well known to have more illicit meanings. Notably "Why Don't We Do It In The Road?" is well accepted to be about soliciting public sex but is used in the show to ask why the bugs can't play with their toy car in a dangerous driveway. "Doctor Robert" is generally acknowledged to be about a Dr. Feelgood, but is played on the show as being about a genuine and honest medical doctor. Also, the line "get high with a little help from my friends" from "With a Little Help from My Friends" is left intact, and is shown simply as one of the bugs hovering a little in the air to quite literally "get high."
  • Crying Wolf: This is the subject of "Anytime at All." After Buzz is terrorized by the local cat, Mee-Yow, the Beat Bugs set up an alarm system, the Crickto-call-me, which she's supposed to use "anytime at all" that she needs help. Buzz, however, uses it one too many times for trivial stuff and so when Mee-Yow shows up again while everyone else is off playing, she sounds the alarm and they ignore it, forcing her to solve the problem herself.
  • Curse Cut Short: Many references to substance use are taken out. When Jay turns "old" in "When I'm 64," he trips over a rock and cuts short the line, "Will you still be sending me a valentine/birthday greetings— bottle of wine".
  • Cute Gigant: Julia, the youngest of the family that lives in the Big House, likes the bugs, even arguing for keeping the garden in "Across the Universe."
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: "I love dress-up! You can be anything you, um, think up."
  • Edutainment Show: The purpose is to gently introduce children to music, particularly that of The Beatles, but within that, it's mainly concerned with teaching pro-social values and Aesops.
  • Electronic Speech Impediment: Doctor Robot malfunctions when the bugs all press their call buttons at the same time, leading to some very nonsensical singing in "Getting Better."
  • Embarrassingly Painful Sunburn: Walter gets one in "And Your Bird Can Sing" after laying out next to an empty glass bottle.
  • The Face of the Sun: Mr. Sun and Mr. Moonlight are always overhead, and talk directly to the bugs.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Buzz sports these along with a general cute child look.
  • Happy Birthday to You!: Any concerns about the right to use this were not an issue when you have the right to use "Birthday" by The Beatles on your show.
  • Harmless Electrocution: One bug in "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" has this as his act.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All episodes are named after the song featured in the plot.
  • I Don't Think That's Such a Good Idea: Crick in "Help!" and everybody but Jay in "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?"
  • Insomnia Episode:
    • In "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," Buzz, after hearing a Ghost Story about a Bug Zapper, can't go to sleep.
    • In "I'm So Tired," Jay can't get to sleep because of the loud noise coming from a neighbor bug who's trying to add-on to his house at night due to his family multiplying as insects often will do. The neighbor constructs at night because there's the sweeping, working, washing, etc. to keep up with during the day. Jay's loud activities to keep himself distracted create a chain reaction keeping the other Beat Bugs awake. They decide to try to solve the problem by working themselves during the day to construct the add-on, but Buzz keeps falling asleep on the spot while they're trying to work, Crick is driving a crane tired, and Kumi can barely stay awake either.
  • Large Ham Announcers: Geoff the Cockroach and Alex the Stinkbug handle this role during the Bug Games.
  • Living Statue: Geoff sneaks inside a lawn gnome to trick the bugs into giving him some free food in "The Fool on the Hill," but they eventually find him out.
  • Longest Pregnancy Ever: Mrs. Mudwasp.
  • Long-Lost Relative: In All Together Now, Walter is revealed to have a long lost sister named Freda. When they were little, Freda flew away, and Walter feels guilty about what happened. They do reunite in the special, though.
  • Malaproper: Buzz, sometimes. In "Let it Be," for example, she meets a firefly called Mother Mary that she calls her "cardigan angel."
  • The Man in the Moon: Mr. Sun and Mr. Moonlight are always overhead, and talk directly to the bugs.
  • Matryoshka Object: In "Lady Madonna," the Beat Bugs help Lady Madonna, who is one of these. Her children are the dolls inside her, but one of them, Pasha, has gone missing.
  • Meaningful Name: Buzz gets her name in part because she is always buzzing with enthusiasm, and she tends to be up for just about anything.
  • "Metaphor" Is My Middle Name: In "Yesterday," when the group hears a teddy bear crying in a trash heap at night, Crick says that they can't just go charging off into the dark without a plan. Jay replies that "charging off into the dark" is his middle name, to which Walter replies that Jay doesn't even have a last name.
  • Never Say "Die": "Eleanor Rigby" avoids the line mentioning that she died in a church and was buried along with her name, but since in this context Eleanor Rigby is a ghost, it's still implied. Also, the full version released for the show's music album includes the line.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In "You're Gonna Carry That Weight," Crick devises a plan to remove a tricycle from the ant hill. It doesn't go well.
  • Not Quite Forever: In "Strawberry Fields Forever," Jay wonders, perhaps not unreasonably, why they should refrain from eating too many strawberries if, according to Crick's cricktulations the strawberry fields truly go on forever. Crick warns that if they eat too many, then maybe they won't go on forever.
  • Once an Episode: The bugs sing a Beatles song every episode.
  • Photo Montage: "And Your Bird Can Sing" ends with one of these, as Blackbird takes Jay around the Big House.
  • Pretending to Be One's Own Relative: In "Michelle", Kumi disguises herself as her (nonexistent) cousin Michelle.
  • Pseudolympics: In "There's a Place," the bugs compete in the Bug Games.
  • Quarter Hour Short: The third season somehow listed the episode segments as separate increments, instead of showing them in full like the first two.
  • Record Needle Scratch: This is a common effect used throughout the series, for the normal reasons that this would be used.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: In "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," the Beat Bugs and other bugs in the backyard village are all hit with a "rhyming curse" which makes it so that they can only speak in rhyme.
  • Sentient Vehicle: The remote control toy car in "Drive My Car," Deestructor (or "Dee" for short because he feels "Deestructor" sounds mean) is sentient and shouts to the Beat Bugs for help when he's driven nearly out of control by his kid. This often happens, and he's disturbed because he doesn't know who's controlling him.
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: The bugs' singing voices sound nothing like their usual speaking voices, especially Jay's.
  • Shout-Out: "Eleanor Rigby" has two bugs searching for Eleanor Rigby named "Skölly" and "Mildew," which Buzz corrupts as "Skilldoo" and "Molly."
  • Sleep Mask: Katter wears one in "In My Life" while in her chrysalis, changing into a butterfly. Unlike a normal caterpillar changing into a butterfly, the chrysalis covers everything but her head, which is left outside of it.
  • Spoonerism: Buzz, being the youngest bug, tends to make these out of bigger words.
  • Story Arc: Blackbird's story is told through multiple episodes, with the bird being injured, recovering, and leaving but checking back every now and then in her last appearance.
  • Surprise Party: "Birthday" involves the throwing of one for both Crick and Buzz. "Follow the Sun" involves the throwing of one for Blackbird to say farewell to her for her migration, though finding out about it also causes Kumi to find about the migration, as Blackbird kept putting off telling her, knowing she'd be upset.
  • Talking in Your Sleep: In "Christmas Time Is Here Again," Buzz's wish is to meet the Christmas Beetle. She spends most of the story sleeping and occasionally muttering "Christmas Beetle" in her sleep, while the other bugs try to wake her up.
  • Tell Him I'm Not Speaking to Him: Walter and Jay put Buzz through this in "I Call Your Name." It doesn't last long because Crick and Kumi observe what is happening and devise a plan to try to get them back together.
  • Third-Person Person: It zigzags very heavily, but Buzz, as the youngest bug, sometimes speaks of herself in the third person.
  • Toilet Humor: In "Michelle," Michelle (secretly Kumi in disguise) tells the other Beat Bugs to come with her, oui, oui. Buzz tells her "thanks, but I already went."
  • Trampoline Tummy: In "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," Walter lets Buzz try to sleep on his "squish;" she ends up bouncing on it until she gets "seasick."
  • Trapped in Containment: In "Help," Jay is crick-tapulted into a jam jar that begins to fill with water.
  • Travel Montage: While Jay tries to get to the Big House all by himself, the other bugs see the other six wonders of the garden.
  • Two Shorts: The format of the series. The third season lists them as separate increments, however.
  • Vague Age: The characters have their own homes and manage their own affairs like adults, yet still exhibit child-like behavior, especially with Buzz who is clearly intended to be more of an Audience Surrogate in terms of the show's target age group. Show creator Josh Wakely has stated that the lack of parents is very much intentional and intended to set the show apart from others by making it so that the characters have to solve their problems themselves because there aren't parents there to fix things.
  • Verbal Crick: Crick changes most of his too-big-for-kids vocabulary to something with "crick" in it. Crick-tapult, crickto-calculations, crick-riffic...
    • Similarly, Walter's exclamations include a reference to his "squish," including "belly-licious" and "Belli-lissimo!"
    • Buzz seems to think that just about everything is "awesome!"
  • Waving Signs Around: "Strawberry Fields Forever" becomes a sort of protest cry as the Beat Bugs carry and wave signs with drawings of strawberries as they try to chase away the myna birds that are wrecking the strawberry fields.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Basically every episode, from "Help!" to "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" in the episode released first to the last to currently be released, "Please Mr. Postman" and "Across the Universe." The plots mirror at least parts of the song's lyrics.


Video Example(s):


All You Need Is Love

The theme of "Beat Bugs," an animated children's series that bases its stories around Beatles songs, is "All You Need Is Love" from the Beatles, performed by the cast.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / RealSongThemeTune

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