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Western Animation / Bobby's World

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A big-headed boy with a big imagination.

Bobby's World is notable for being the inaugural cartoon series of Fox's then-new Saturday morning block, Fox Kids in 1990. It would eventually become the longest-running program on the block, airing until early 1998. It was created by Canada-born comedian Howie Mandel as a co-production between him, Fox and Film Roman.

It was about an imaginative young 4 year-old boy named Bobby Generic, pronounced GEN-er-ick, who goes through life as a normal child while often misinterpreting and daydreaming about things that were said to him. He often carries around his stuffed spider named Webbly and is a huge fan of Captain Squash, who, more often than not, appears in his daydreams. Bobby is voiced by Mandel, in the child-like voice he used during some of his stand-up shows around the same time, while Captain Squash is voiced by Gary Owens, in his over-the-top superhero voiced first used in the original Space Ghost.

He lives with his family, consisting of:

Outside of the regular family members, there were also several recurring characters throughout the show's run, including:

  • Aunt Ruth, Bobby's aunt and Martha and Ted's older sister who's prone to smothering Bobby. Introduced in the first episode, she starts to appear more often starting in season three to help out during Martha's pregnancy. (Voiced by Susan Tolsky note )
  • Jackie Bodine, Bobby's neighbor and best friend introduced in the second season who, despite being more mature than Bobby, is in love with him and often kisses him. (Voiced by Debi Derryberry note )
  • Meeker and Snerd, A seemingly versatile duo who often take on different jobs at the Generic family's conveinence.
  • Jake and Al, Bobby's younger twin brothers, who were supposedly conceived sometime between the first two seasons and born late into the third season.

For a television show that ran for over seven years, it's not as well-remembered when compared to later shows that aired on the block. On top of the lack of televised reruns after its conclusion and having less of an impact compared to other shows that followed, it was clearly a show made for children around Bobby's age. That didn't stop it from letting a bunch of subtle adult jokes make their way into the scripts every once in a while. It was still popular enough to warrant Kids' Meal Toy sets from McDonald's, Subway, Dairy Queen, Hardee's, and Wendy's.

The rights to the series were snatched up by Splash Entertainment (formerly known as Mike Young Productions), which has aired the series on its video-on-demand service, Kabillion since its inception. A month later, the character surprisingly made a brief return on Deal or No Deal when one contestant admitted to being a fan of the series, and the Banker actually brought out Bobby to tempt them to take the deal.

Kabillion has since made all seven seasons available on its official YouTube channel.

Tropes featured in this show include:

  • Christmas Episode: In "Miracle of 34th St and Rural Route 1", the family and unknown relatives go to Bobby's grandfather's house to celebrate Christmas. Lots of arguing ensues until a fire destroys most of the presents, and Bobby gives his obnoxious cousin the present they both wanted most.
  • Curse Cut Short: According to Howie, when Roger gets shown his leash (since he associates it with being taken to the vet), he disappears " a bat out of— A steeple."
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: In "The Music" Abe the crossing guard passes away, and when a different crossing guard tries to tell Bobby Abe's dead, and Bobby says "When will he be back?" and "Will he be back soon?"
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In early episodes, when Howie Mandel interacted with Bobby in the opening scenes, Bobby would call him "Dad," and Howie would transform himself into Howard Generic to transition into the episode's plot. But later on, this was dropped; Bobby started calling Howie by his first name and it was made clear that Howie and Howard were different people.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Strangely, only Bobby has two four-fingered hands while the rest of his family, as well as most of the other characters, have five.
  • Friend-or-Idol Decision: In "The Best One of the Mall", Bobby is trying to get a weedwhacker for Howard for his birthday, and eventually partakes in a raffle drawing. He wins it and is given the choice of either a weedwhacker or a Captain Squash video game. He is torn between these two prizes, with a devil trying to convince him to choose the video game, and Captain Squash trying to convince him to choose the weedwhacker. Bobby chooses the weedwhacker, not wanting to let his family down.
  • Halloween Episode: "The Night of the Living Pumpkin" takes place during Halloween. Bobby is too young to go out trick-or-treating; while most everyone else gets to go out, he and Ted turn the house into "a spook house", with Ted charging kids money to enter and Bobby charging candy, using Kelly's beauty treatments to portray her as a scary monster. It quickly becomes so popular that the entire neighborhood becomes gridlocked and the police have to set up traffic control.
  • I Know Karate: Howie takes Bobby to karate class after Bobby got picked on by a kid at school. It later backfires when Bobby lets it go to his head, almost uses his skills on the same bully before, the sandbox kid, and the kid who had cookies.
  • Imagine Spot: The show is built off this as Bobby would often misinterpret or try to solve things through his imagination.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Howard Generic looks just like Howie Mandell. In early episode openings, Howie even turns into Howard.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Bobby's parents become mad at Derek when he tells Bobby that your tonsils don't fall out, they're surgically removed. While he does describe this in an unnecessarily creepy way, his description is basically accurate.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kelly, despite considering Bobby an annoying younger sibling who makes her life a living hell, still loves him and is (occasionally) willing to stick up for him.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Derek is never seen getting any punishment for anything he does to Bobby (e.g. ditching him, saying false things to scare him, insulting him, etc).
    • In "Misery Loves Company", Bobby is invited into a sleepover with a friend named Gordon who claims he is Bobby's "number one fan". Throughout the entire episode he blames Bobby for things he didn't do, and he is never seen getting caught for what he does. Subverted when Uncle Ted picks up Bobby bringing Rodger with him and making a dirty mess in Gordon's house. Also when Gordon wanted to plan to have a sleepover at Bobby's house, Bobby's reaction implies that he's getting back at him.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: During gift shopping with his mother in "Promises, Promises", Bobby spots a man step dancing on a musical pad playing the show's theme song.
  • Lemonade Stand Plot: "Bobby's Last Stand" has Bobby trying to earn enough money to purchase a new squirt gun advertised on TV. He and Jackie eventually decide to open up a lemonade stand during a heat wave, only for Jackie to point out that they have no lemons to make lemonade. She then gets the idea for them to make prune juice from dried plums from a nearby plum tree, which actually succeeds in getting them many customers from the elderly crowd. However, things go awry when they accidentally lose all the money they made in a sewer grate and the parents take over their business. It all gets so out of hand that Bobby and Jackie decide to forget about their goal and to just go play inside while the adults continue to fight amongst each other and drive away all their customers.
  • Literal-Minded: Bobby.
  • Medium Blending: When Howie Mandel interacted with Bobby before and after the episodes.
  • Mondegreen Gag: In "Bobby's Girl", when an octopus version of Jackie uses her tentacles to attack a submarine, Bobby says "I thought only boys had tentacles!"
  • Mr. Imagination: Bobby.
  • My Life Flashed Before My Eyes: After Derek saves Bobby from drowning, Bobby says he saw his life before his eyes but, because of his youth, he still had time to come up with a song to show how much he appreciates Derek for saving him.
  • New Baby Episode: "Baby Brother Blues" is about Bobby's new twin baby brothers being born, and Bobby being upset that he's not getting attention because of them.
  • Nice Mean And In Between: Of the three Generic siblings, Bobby is the nicest one, being a playful child and somewhat naive. Derek is the mean one, being the jerk who often picks on Bobby and calls him names. Kelly is in-between, as she is much nicer to Bobby and the most mature, but can also be somewhat of a Bratty Teenage Daughter at times.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: In "Clubhouse Bobby", a child version of Rodney Dangerfield appears as a kid who wasn't invited to Bobby's club just because none of Bobby's friends liked him. After feeling sorry for him, Bobby decides to give him a test to see if he can fix a wagon, only for everyone to realize how funny he is.
  • Nobody Likes a Tattletale: In "The Smell of a Tattletale", Bobby starts carpooling with the mothers of his classmates. When he tells them the wrong things the other kids are doing, they are so impressed that make him the official carpool monitor. This results in his classmates turning against him. When Bobby explains the situation to Uncle Ted, he comes to the conclusion that he's a tattletale. When Bobby is invited to Rodney's birthday party at their mothers' insistence, he learns the right and wrong times to tell the adults if someone is doing something wrong, such as when he catches two of his classmates playing with knives.
  • Panicky Expectant Father: Howard behaves this way throughout the episode where Martha gives birth to the twins, repeatedly calling the hospital, overreacting to any disturbance from Bobby, and saying the baby will be born "any second," even before Martha goes into labor. At the hospital, another dad is also shown with a 5 o'clock shadow, sweating and pacing around the waiting room.
  • Parental Bonus:
    • In "I Want My Mommy", Uncle Ted tries to explain the concept of adoption to Bobby.
    Uncle Ted: You see, a lot of times when a guy and his wife—
    Martha: Uh, Ted, Ted.
    • Ted was well known for the Parental Bonus. In one episode, he even used the word "hell", which was kind of taboo at the time for a kid's show. Martha corrected him after he said it, though.
    • In one of Bobby's Imagine Spots, triggered by his Uncle Ted being the "Walk it off" type, The Elephant Man is the last character that Ted tells to "Walk it off" after delivering the memetic line of "I am not an animal! I am a human being!"... while looking like an actual elephant.
  • Parody: Mrs. Noogiefire is a parody of Mrs. Doubtfire: Uncle Ted wants to babysit Bobby and his siblings while their parents go out of town, but Martha wants a woman to take care of them, so he disguises himself as a woman named Mrs. Noogiefire to get the job.
  • Picked Last: In "The Smell of a Tattletale", Bobby is made the official carpool monitor by the moms of his classmates for telling them the wrong things his classmates were doing, giving himself a reputation as a tattletale, as his classmates turn on him. At one point, when they play a game of dodgeball, one team chooses Betty, a girl with a broken arm, instead of Bobby.
  • Thanksgiving Episode: "Generics and Indians".
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted in "Psycho Bobby". Bobby decided to build a statue of Martha for her birthday, thinking it'd be the best way to honor how great he thinks she is. However, he keeps his plans a secret from the rest of the family which causes everyone to think he's behaving very strangely (collecting macaroni, wearing his mom's clothes, etc.) and worry something's wrong with him. Bobby's taken to a psychiatrist and explains to her what he was doing (and that he didn't understand that his family was worried about him) and the psychiatrist realizes Bobby has an active imagination and there's nothing wrong with him. She also agrees to keep his statue plans a secret so Martha's birthday surprise isn't ruined.
  • Those Two Guys: Meeker and Snurd, a Big Guy, Little Guy duo seen working at various jobs around town.
  • The Tonsillitis Episode: In "Bobby's Big Boo Boo," Bobby needs his tonsils removed.
  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: Used in the opening credits; for 1990 standards, it's surprising how well it meshes with the 2D animation.
  • Valentine's Day Episode: "Bobby's Girl".
  • Valley Girl: Kelly.
  • Vocal Evolution: As the show progressed Derek's voice was changing from high pitched to low, eventually his voice actor was replaced by Pamela Segall during the sixth season.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The episode "Mrs. Noogiefire," where Uncle Ted disguises himself as a woman to babysit Bobby and his siblings, is obviously based on Mrs. Doubtfire.