The stories recount a series of conflicts between the lazy, destructive Bottersnikes and good-natured, hardworking Gumbles. Inspiration for the series came from the emerging environmental movement. The two species were intended to represent opposing attitudes towards the environment; those who destroy the bush, and those who clean it up. These themes however are diffused by the series' humour, absurdity, playful language and its sense of the ridiculous.
Tropes associated with Bottersnikes and Gumbles:
- Aesop Amnesia: Parodied in "The Age Of Gumbletron". At the end of the episode, Tink declares that he should do less ordering and more listening, but Bounce is doubtful and so she proceeds to ask him what he's going to do with the nearby bushes that he wanted to water. He instantly relapses back into his usual behavior and goes on and on about his idea without considering Bounce's opinion, and as such she decides to leave.Tink: So yeah. Less ordering about, more listening.
Bounce: Hm, I'll believe that when I see it. So what are we gonna do about the grub-berry bushes? They still need waterin'.
(Tink gets a tink)
Tink: Wheels! We put the bushes on wheels and bring them to the moat.
Bounce: We can't just cut the bushes down, what about their roots?
Tink: Bounce! You know when Tink tinks an idea, it can't be untunk!
Tink: Go get me six- no, eight wheels!... Better make it ten!... And springs! I'll need lots of springs!... A large stone... And a rusty spoon...
Bounce: See you back at the bus.
Tink: ...And something stretchy about four and a half Gumbles long...
- All There in the Manual: The official website lists short bits of lore about the main characters and the environment, including those that are not directly mentioned or explained in the show.
- Animated Adaptation: Of an Australian children's book series of the same name.
- Bad is Good and Good is Bad: The Bottersnikes have a kind of variation of this. All prefer stink over good smells, ugliness over beauty, etc.
- Bad Boss: King Snike regularly takes advantage of his minions, but a couple of times he's also shown to treat the other Bottersnikes just a little nicely.
- Berserk Button: Bounce hates being told that she's clumsy.
- Broken Hero: Toot once went into Snike Hill by himself and attempted to make friends with the Bottersnikes, only for it to backfire horribly when the Snikes not only refused but proceeded to imprison him underground and, later on, have King Snike eat him alive. After escaping, Toot was left paranoid and scared of the Bottersnikes and now spends his days in the Gumbletree's lookout turret, with his hero story about his attempt at making peace - which refers to him as "the Unnamed Gumble" - stashed away in a container and never being recorded into the Gumbledex.
- Butt-Monkey: Of the few times a Snike tries or even manages to eat a Gumble on-screen, it's almost always Toot who is the victim.
- Card-Carrying Villain: The King of the Bottersnikes is this.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Float is the most innocent and imaginative of the Gumbles and also somewhat eccentric.
- Continuity Nod: In "Mangled!", when Tink and Bounce are trapped in one of the Bottersnikes' tin cans while also being stuck to each other, they mention the events that occurred in "Up, Up And Away" and "Happy Gumbleday To Bounce" when they were working together.
- Cowardly Lion: Although he's normally defined as very shy and apprehensive, Toot can and does muster the courage to go against his fears when the situation calls for it.
- Creepy Monotone: Toot of all people gets this, albeit at a milder degree. Namely, of the only actual dialogue he gets (in form of thoughts), some of it is nearly barren of emotion.
- Crying Wolf: "The Monster In The Moat" provides an inversion of sorts. Willi alerts the other Gumbles of a "monster" in the Gumbletree's moat that he thinks he sees twice, but both times it turns out to be another Gumble playing in the water and Willi gets laughed at. However, when Willi sees something genuinely suspicious in the moat at night, he thinks he'll get laughed at again and as such doesn't alert the other Gumbles - unaware it's actually Bottersnikes in a makeshift submarine.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Toot has one, in form of an exceptional incident with the Bottersnikes that left him absolutely terrified of them. An episode late in the series also subtly reveals that he was once a bold, daring Gumble who tried to befriend the Bottersnikes.
- The Ditz: The Bottersnikes are shown to be rather stupid. Chank appears to be just a little more intelligent than the rest.
- Down in the Dumps: The show takes place in an abandoned junkyard littered with derelict remains from the human civilization, which both the Bottersnikes and the Gumbles utilize in many different ways.
- Explosive Breeder: In "Eau De Gumble", Tink and Bounce eat all but two chili grubs which get left behind in a bucket after the two rescue Willi from Snike Hill. When they return later and reclaim the bucket, they discover that it's now full of chili grubs instead of having only the two from earlier, resulting in Willi (who is a child) getting confused and Bounce nervously telling him that she'll "explain later".
- Extreme Omnivore: The Bottersnikes, who are fond of eating garbage but dislike actual food. They most like to eat mattress stuffing, and they're also shown to be willing to eat the Gumbles (with Toot having once been a big-time victim).
- Face Your Fears: In "Toot On Duty", Toot has to overcome his phobia of Bottersnikes in order to get mattress stuffing to cure the other Gumbles of Snike Flu.
- Failed a Spot Check: Played for Laughs in "Boggle Boggle", where Happi apparently misses an obvious symptom of Boggle Twitches (which involves one's eyeballs becoming huge) and diagnoses it via something else.Happi: Hmm... Yes... Warm ears. Sure sign you've both got Boggle Twitches.(Merri and Jolli both groan)Jolli: Really, Happi? That was your first clue, not our enormous eyeballs?
- Five-Second Foreshadowing: In "The Return Of Sammi Whammi Gumble", when King Snike is questioning Snorg and Glob about who ate his mattress stuffing, Snorg says that they didn't know it was his, in a strangely unconvincing tone. Literally a moment later, Glob - like an idiot he is - blurts out that they did in fact know, quickly revealing that Snorg was indeed acting to appear innocent.
- In "Where's Willi?", Willi discovers old Gumbledex cards about a brave, unnamed Gumble who was imprisoned deep underground by the Bottersnikes when he attempted to make peace with them. During the sequence showing the cards in animated form, the Gumble in question resembles and later turns out to be the now fearful Toot.
- In "Gumble Rally", when all Gumbles playing the titular Gumble Rally game are unknowingly heading towards Bottersnikes, Happi exclaims that he and Toot have to warn them, only for Toot to hesitate to which Happi replies with "I know, Toot, I know". The episode after this one, "Toot On Duty", reveals not only Toot's strong fear of Bottersnikes but also the reason behind it.
- Formerly Fit: Downplayed. In "The Return of Sammi Whammi Gumble", the titular Gumble is shown to have once been a professional athlete before going out of shape (though not gaining much weight) due to not performing sport activities for a long time thanks to being in space (as well as eating one too many space grubs). It bites him in the rear when he's unable to catch up to Bottersnikes whisking away a kidnapped Happi.
- Fountain of Youth: "Happi Go Lucky" revolves around Happi consuming juice made out of aptly named "youngerberries" that makes him feel young again. Because it has made him more lively, Tink starts encouraging him to be extreme (i.e. reckless) and keep drinking the juice until Happi eventually regresses into a full-on toddler.
- Gasshole: The Bottersnikes are sometimes shown to be quite gassy. Becomes a plot point in some episodes, such as in "Up, Up and Away" where Bounce, Willi and Tink use their farts to create a hot air balloon.
- Getting Eaten Is Harmless: What helped Toot to survive when he found himself in King Snike's belly - justified because Gumbles are hard to digest. The episode "The Pied Tooter" has one Bottersnike suggest that a Gumble covered in grub saliva becomes digestible, ultimately negating the trope in that case.
- Gone Horribly Right: In "The Pied Tooter", when Toot gets a kazoo stuck in his throat, his toots become exceptionally good at attracting grubs, drawing out a very large batch from the underground. It winds up working too well, because it manages to also draw out gigantic grubs bent on eating the Gumbles.
- Good News, Bad News: A variation exists in "The Pied Tooter". When all the Gumbles (sans Toot) wind up in the mouths of giant grubs, Happi says the good news is that the grubs don't have teeth so they weren't going to be eaten, and then adds that they're being slowly dissolved as is instead. Tink is quick to object and Jolli quips that the "good news" sucked more than the giant grubs sucking on them, so Happi responds with the actual good news... that they have plenty of time to think of an escape plan.
- Grudging "Thank You": In "Gum Fu Gumble", Merri and Jolli manage to "reawaken" King Snike's body (long story short, he became so used to not moving that his body went limp) via random attempts of "Gum Fu". King Snike lets them know that he's thankful but still wants them seized.
- The Hermit: Toot is implied to be this due to generally spending more time on lookout for Bottersnikes rather than with the other Gumbles, especially considering Happi's comment in "Burples" as seen in the following exchange:
- Hulk Speak: As a way of demonstrating his (lack of) intelligence, Glob speaks in sentences with incomplete grammar and his name in place of "I" or "me".
- Human Knot: Chank ties Toot into a knot in "The King's Seat" as an attempt to coerce the Gumbles to hand over a "weapon".
- I Lied: In "Monster in the Moat", Gubbo promises Glob that he won't get a single drop of water on him. Later on, Gubbo gets him wet on purpose (as part of the Snikes' plan to kidnap the Gumbles) and tells him he lied.
- Incredible Shrinking Man: Bottersnikes shrink to the size of a Gumble when they come in contact with water.
- Informed Obscenity: In "King-Sized Calamity", when Toot happily responds to Happi declaring that he'll connect his musical invention to the propeller (by saying "toot"), the latter treats it as if the former said something vulgar.
- Inner Monologue: Toot, who normally only ever says "toot", has an episode dedicated to him monologuing in his mind.
- Innocent Blue Eyes: Float has blue eyes and is definitely innocent.
- Also, to a lesser extent, Tink and Happi; while they are aware of more things than Float is and make mistakes, both mean well.
- Intelligible Unintelligible: Toot can be understood by the other Gumbles despite being incapable of forming actual sentences. "Toot On Duty" also reveals that he has very coherent thoughts.
- It's All About Me: In "King-Sized Calamity", King Snike makes a demand that Weathersnike wake Smiggles up to get rid of a giant angry strawberry. When Weathersnike asks why she has to do it, the King straight up says it's because he's more important.
- Knotty Tentacles: A real possibility for Gumbles due to being stretchy by default. They can be tied or otherwise restrained with their own body parts either against their will or in an accident.
- Lazy Bum: The Bottersnikes are very lazy and will much rather have others do work for them, which is why they sometimes go after Gumbles to make them their slaves.
- Living Dream: Smiggles has the ability to have creatures from his dreams come to life when he's asleep. It's a major plot point in several episodes, such as "Burples" where he dreams of a giant baby Bottersnike that hatches from an equally giant egg and befriends the Gumbles.
- Lost Aesop: Combined with Script Wank; in "The King's Seat", Happi says he thinks there's a lesson for all the Gumbles to have learned after the events of the episode, but when he is asked what it is, he has no clue.
- Mismatched Eyes: Unlike the rest of the Gumbles, Toot has heterochromatic eyes - his left eye has a yellow iris and his right eye has a blue iris.
- Nice Guy: Smiggles is very carefree and sweet, especially for a Bottersnike, which sometimes gets him in trouble with King Snike.
- Also, the entire group of Gumbles counts.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
- A pre-episode example: in "Toot On Duty", prior to the events of the episode, Toot disposed of all mattress stuffing that was stored in the Gumbletree following an incident with the Bottersnikes because it reminded him of what he experienced during said incident. As it turns out, mattress stuffing just so happens to be the cure for Snike Flu and as a result the Gumbles are forced to get more from the Bottersnikes' mines.
- Sometimes, Tink does something that gets him and the other Gumbles into trouble, such as in "King Prisoner" where he tries to redeem King Snike (and fails).
- In "The Pied Tooter", Toot accidentally swallows a kazoo which causes his voice to summon a bunch of grubs to the surface, providing the Gumbles with a feast. Unfortunately, it also ends up summoning giant grubs that chase them down.
- In "Berry Grubfest", Willi manages to ruin the specific conditions of the furnace set up by Happi in an attempt to help out, causing the tiny flame to go out and putting the Gumbletree at risk of freezing and being attacked by Bottersnikes due to the moat freezing as well.
- In "Gumble Pie", Tink makes a dummy out of sack fabric to get out of lookout duty. The Snikes then kidnap the dummy with Bounce and Willi going after them, leading to them getting captured and forcing Tink to rescue them. Both Bounce and Willi are quite cross with him when they find out, especially after witnessing what they thought was Tink's "death" when they saw King Snike devour the dummy.
- No Name Given: Invoked with the unnamed Gumble in "Where's Willi?", complete with Willi asking why he does not have a name. Subverted as the unnamed Gumble does actually have a name - as a matter of fact, he's part of the main cast.
- Noodle Incident:
- In "Gumble Pie", King Snike briefly references the last time he tried to eat a Gumble without going into detail (only saying that "it didn't agree with him"). It becomes clear what happened if you know Toot's backstory.
- In "Rustbeard", the Bottersnikes briefly mention an unknown incident involving the Gumbles doing something to King Snike with a dustpan. Whatever it was, it made him hate dustpans with burning passion and grow a "beard" made out of dust.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
- In a typical episode, Toot's mood isn't limited to his fearful disposition as he's also shown to be stern, bold/brave and even happy. "Toot On Duty", however, reveals Toot's Inner Monologue that's devoid of (positive) emotions for the most part... and for good reason.
- In "Where's Willi?", Willi asks Toot about an unnamed Gumble who tried and failed to unite Bottersnikes and Gumbles as described in old, unregistered Gumbledex cards found in a tin, but Toot gets unusually nervous and refuses to have any discussion about it and quickly walks away afterwards, before Happi comes and also refuses to tell anything about the unnamed Gumble or the cards - which is suspicious considering Happi usually likes to share knowledge about famed Gumbles. Toot happens to be the unnamed Gumble, at least from the various hints dropped throughout the episode.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: A Gumble that eats a blue grub during the night of an orange moon transforms into a large, feral version of themself that actively hunts for Bottersnikes and resumes their normal form as soon as they're no longer exposed to the moon.
- Paper-Thin Disguise:
- In "Undercover Gumble", Tink disguises himself as a Bottersnike... using a poorly conceived suit made out of junk. With it even being described as a terrible design. The Bottersnikes fall for the disguise (with a bit of initial suspicion).
- In "Beyond Reasonable Drought", the Gumbles attempt to stop the Bottersnikes from finding out there's no water in the moat anymore by tossing whatever garbage they think would simulate water. Partway through however, they give up on that idea when Bounce mentions that it's not looking a lot like water and that even the dimwitted Bottersnikes are going to realize it's just junk.
- Pokémon Speak: Toot only ever speaks the word "toot". Justified because this trait manifested itself as a result of Toot's incident with the Bottersnikes (according to the website). The only time where he's heard "speaking" (read: his thoughts) is in "Toot On Duty", where he also recalls his incident.
- The Quiet One: Toot is pretty withdrawn, and when he does say something it's always in toots (which only the Gumbles understand).
- Reality Ensues:
- When Tink attempts to drive over Snike Hill at full speed to escape the Bottersnikes pursuing him and his friends (after stealing their magnet), Bounce is quick to warn him that they will either die or get seriously injured. Luckily, neither happens.
- In "Gumble Pie", Bounce and Willi see Tink getting "eaten" by King Snike (in reality, he ate a dummy made to look like Tink to skip lookout duty). Despite Toot having previously survived that himself, when Bounce and Willi learn Tink is alive and well (along with the fact he shirked work), Bounce's response quite vividly implies that getting eaten means being killed.Bounce: What kind of a whomping grubmuffin...? We thought you were dead!
- Repeating so the Audience Can Hear: Zigzagged. With Toot being a one-word talker that can only be understood by the Gumbles, the Gumbles sometimes indirectly repeat or at least allude to what Toot says and other times they just respond without reiterating.
- Rubber Man: The Gumbles' special trait is the ability to easily bend and stretch into any shape they like without being hurt. This has its limits however - stretching too much causes Gumbles to "spang", i.e. lose the ability to stretch.
- Same Language Dub: The show has two English dubs; the original one with British accents, and a re-dub with American actors.
- Sapient Eat Sapient:
- Although they don't do it as often, Bottersnikes are capable of easily devouring a Gumble in a single bite, as shown in "Toot On Duty" and "The King's Seat" (with Toot being the victim both times). A few times King Snike considers doing it and one time almost succeeds in eating a Gumble (Toot, to be exact) before being foiled.
- Quite surprisingly, the grubs which Gumbles eat all the time happen to be sapient as well, as shown in some episodes. It comes into play in "A Grubby Truce" where Bounce and Tink have to strike a deal with the grubs they were previously hunting for to escape from Snike Hill.
- Screamer Prank: "You Got Grubb'd" has an in-universe example. As part of pranking Toot, Merri and Jolli blow up a huge balloon that looks like King Snike and make it suddenly appear on Toot's telescope while he's using it to check nearby areas, complete with a preceding shot of a butterfly fluttering by and a loud roaring sound (provided by Jolli screaming through a traffic cone).
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: In "Where's Willi?", Willi attempts to rescue the "unnamed Gumble" who was imprisoned by the Bottersnikes and allegedly never escaped. He goes right into the mattress mines and winds up in the unnamed Gumble's cell (after getting captured himself), but the only thing Willi finds is drawings on the walls. As it had turned out, Willi went to rescue a Gumble that wasn't even there to begin with (and was in the Gumbletree the entire time, for that matter), rendering his entire rescue adventure pointless.
- Sick Episode: "Toot On Duty" deals with all known main characters catching Snike Flu at one point or another, starting with Smiggles who spreads it to Bounce, the rest of the Gumbles, and finally the other Bottersnikes.
- Sleeping Dummy: In "Gumble Pie", Tink sews a dummy look-alike to put in his place so that he could get out of look-out duty and eat green berries with the other Gumbles. The dummy is then kidnapped by Bottersnikes which Bounce and Willi go after thinking it's Tink, getting them captured in the process.
- Smurfing: The Gumbles regularly use their own slang, for example 'Grubmuffin'. The official website lists these and explains what they all mean akin to a dictionary.
- The Starscream: Chank, who is second in charge among the Bottersnikes, plots to overthrow King Snike and become king himself as he believes him to be incompetent and stupid. It's mostly dropped later on.
- Strong Family Resemblance: Sammi Whammi looks like an older Toot with Tinks head.
- Status Quo Is God:
- Defied and enforced in "King Prisoner". Tink shrinks King Snike down by getting him wet and tries all he can to make him "have fun" in a desperate attempt to get him to stop his mean behavior and get on better terms with the Gumbles, but all it does is piss him off.
- In "This Means Peace", Tink and Glob get stuck together and must cooperate to get free. At the end they decide to become friends after one of them says they don't remember why they're enemies, but their friendship is short-lived as they end up accidentally insulting each other which then escalates into a fight before the two part ways.
- Stuff Blowing Up: In "Gumble Grabba", Float goads Gubbo into going into the mines by breaking his Gumble-capturing contraption and tossing it inside, greatly infuriating him. Because the mines are filled with the Bottersnikes' farts and their ears get red hot when they're angry, it leads to a massive explosion shortly after Gubbo runs into the mines - complete with his ears sparking as he enters.
- Terrified of Germs: In "Toot On Duty", Toot is shown to be a germophobe to the point of wearing a suit and using a long spoon when trying to feed grubs to a few sick Gumbles.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Each side has one - the Bottersnikes' favorite is mattress stuffing, and the Gumbles like to eat grubs.
- Trauma Button: In both "Toot on Duty" and "The Pied Tooter", another character mentions something that, unbeknownst to them, pertains to Toot's unfortunate incident (mattress stuffing and a Bottersnike eating him, respectively). In both cases it causes Toot's memories of the event to resurface, and in the latter episode he also recoils in fear. The former episode also makes it clear that mattress stuffing is a horrible reminder for him.
- Weaksauce Weakness: The Bottersnikes are weak to water; when they get wet, they shrink.
- Wham Episode:
- "Toot On Duty" plays out like the show usually does, but with an unique addition not seen in any other episode: the opportunity to hear Toot's thoughts. Also unlike other episodes which rely on comedy and silliness, this one portrays the idea that Toot doesn't have an outlook on life that is as positive as those of the other Gumbles and also brings out a bleaker tone, revealing the reason behind his fearful disposition.Bounce: Hey, Toot!Toot: Toot. Toot.Bounce: Don't suppose you want to come out gumbling? I mean, you never do, but...Toot: Toot. Toot toot toot toot.Bounce: Aww, Toot. You don't know what you're missing!
- "Where's Willi?" revolves around Willi discovering old Gumbledex cards about a Gumble with supposedly no name and trying to find out more about him when he finds that some of the Gumbledex cards depicting him are missing. As a result, he goes to ask Happi about it, hoping to find out more about the unnamed Gumble since Happi is considered the wisest of the bunch and would probably be happy to tell all about it as he does with other famous Gumbles. However, a slightly more serious tone sets in when Happi refuses to say anything on the matter - and from there few if any further details are revealed, suggesting that everything about the unnamed Gumble is being intentionally obscured for unknown reasons.Willi: You know about the unnamed Gumble! Why hasn't he been rescued, and why doesn't he have a name? And who hid these cards?
Happi: There are reasons we don't talk about this. A grublit shouldn't pry, let sleeping Gumbles lie.
- "Toot On Duty" plays out like the show usually does, but with an unique addition not seen in any other episode: the opportunity to hear Toot's thoughts. Also unlike other episodes which rely on comedy and silliness, this one portrays the idea that Toot doesn't have an outlook on life that is as positive as those of the other Gumbles and also brings out a bleaker tone, revealing the reason behind his fearful disposition.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Toot is particularly afraid of the Bottersnikes, and has a strong aversion to mattress stuffing. As his thoughts reveal in "Toot On Duty", this is because he was once captured by the Bottersnikes and Swallowed Whole by King Snike and any mentions of either Bottersnikes or mattress stuffing reminded him of that.
- World of Funny Animals: The setting is populated by Bottersnikes and Gumbles (neither of which closely resembles any particular animal species), along with the occasional grubs and other various critters. There are no humans around but they do seem to exist outside of the show's scope, especially with the presence of man-made objects, and the closest it gets to featuring a human character is a talking doll shaped like one.