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Western Animation / Bubble Guppies

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Clockwise from the top: Nonny, Oona, Gil, Molly, Deema, and Goby.
"Hi! I'm Molly, and it's time for..."

Bubble Guppies is an animated musical preschool sketch comedy (fantasy comedy in Season 5 onwards) show created by Jonny Belt and Robert Scull (who would later create Butterbean's Cafe together). The series premiered on Nickelodeon's Nick Jr. block on January 24, 2011.

Each episode follows the adventures of a group of mer-children and the lessons they learn at their underwater preschool. Along the way, they sing, dance, and have imaginary adventures while exploring concepts of the episode's theme, such as pet care, the solar system, or how to run a restaurant.

"I wanna eat in a- RESTAURANT! I wanna be in a- RESTAURANT! I wanna go down to a restaurant."

The show initially wrapped in 2016 after four seasons. Production ended, and the show's creators moved on to make a new series titled Butterbean's Café. It was rebooted in June 2019, and a new character, Zooli, joined. The fifth season, which premiered on September 27, also switched to a new format where the story segment takes up a majority of the episode. The Gil and Molly sketches, dance songs and field trips are removed, and the lunch jokes are incorporated into the narrative.


Let's think about what tropes are used on the show:

  • Actor Allusion: In one episode, a female character voiced by Ru Paul, a famous Drag Queen, says something along the lines of "it's a drag", with emphasis on the word "drag".
  • Art Evolution: The CGI became a bit smoother and more shaded after the Halloween Episode. The Adobe Flash facial features also became more expressive.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The white whale in "X Marks the Spot" spends his screen time shown on land (and air), never in water. Whales need to be in water to live.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: Invoked in one episode when the Guppies introduce a story about cavemen and dinosaurs. Nonny tells us cavemen and dinosaurs didn't really live at the same time. One of the others replies, "We know. But this just a story we made up."
  • Advertisement:
  • Audience Participation: Constantly asking the audience for help and hints.
  • Blind Without 'Em: The scuba mask Nonny wears is the underwater equivalent of glasses. When he breaks them in "Come To Your Senses", it causes his vision to be blurry and spends the majority of the episode without them until they're fixed in the end.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: In "Fishketball!" the characters list an assortment of balls, such as baseballs, soccer balls, and eyeballs.
  • Broken Record: Bub-bub-bubble, gup-gup-guppies, bubble bubble bubble, guppy guppy guppies...
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Bubble Puppy, bar the intro and related routine sequences, is noticeably absent from nearly every subsequent episode. He's still shown in group shots, though.
  • Cool Teacher: Mr. Grouper buys his students their dog, and lets them build a badass doghouse for it by themselves. He also takes them to a hospital, lets them start a band, and open a restaurant.
  • Couch Gag: Molly trying to say the show title, and Gil interrupting her in some way.
  • Cowardly Lion: Gil. He's scared of planes, chickens, ducks, T. rex, tubas, ghosts, caterpillars, gorillas, the planet Jupiter... He's even scared of his own dog.
  • Darker and Edgier: "Haunted House Party!", mainly in the toned-down color scheme - very accurately giving it it a creepy, Halloween-y feel. Although, all the characters do wear Excessive Evil Eyeshadow...
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • In the first season, the dance song comes before the story segment; in later seasons, these were switched around.
    • Season 1 was the only season where multiple Guppies each took turns as the shop owners and giving the food jokes. Starting in Season 2, Deema is the usual shop owner (with Goby sometimes filling in), while Nonny is the usual food joke giver.
  • Emotionless Boy: Nonny. He rarely emotes, having a straight face most often, and even speaks this way as well. The others don't mind though.
  • Evolving Credits: To go with the new animation as of Season 2, the theme was reanimated. It was slightly updated in Season 5 to include new Guppy Zooli.
  • Fake Interactivity: Like many preschool shows, the characters ask the viewer questions and pause for an answer.
  • Fantasy Helmet Enforcement: A rather humorous example - even though Avi was wearing his helmet, he still broke his tail.
  • Five-Token Band: Or six-tokens: Molly is possibly Hispanic, Deema is blonde, Oona is Asian, Goby is Black, Nonny is ginger, and Gil is white.
  • Foreshadowing: In the story segments, upon close inspection at the monster creature that pursues the Guppies, you can see they are looking worried and needing for attention, which hints they're not as scary as they think.
  • Free-Range Children: Never addressed directly, but the guppies walk to school by themselves, although sometimes another guppy may join them. They also tend to go on very improbable field trips for preschoolers, including some random kid's house for a sleepover, camping in the woods, and the mall. Who's signing these permission slips?
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: During the "Big Warm Friendly Smile" song in "A Tooth On The Looth", you can see Molly react with worry whenever she sees Nonny's usual straight face.
  • Furry Confusion: During "I Want a Pet Today", while Molly is singing about pets Nonny is seen with a pet fish in a bowl. This being a Disney Acid Sequence, no one notices.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: Prior to Zooli's introduction, there were three male and three female Guppies.
  • Good All Along: A common twist in the story segments features the presumed monster or scary creature chasing the Guppies revealed to be nice all along and was trying to get their help. However, there are some exceptions, like the alligator from "A Tooth on the Looth" who did intend to eat Gil and Molly.
  • "I Want" Song: Several of the songs e.g. "I Want A Pet Today", "The Restaurant", and "I Wanna Be A Cowgirl/Cowboy" just to name 3.
  • Later Installment Weirdness: The fifth season introduced a new format for its first couple of episodes that is vastly different than the original run. The introduction is shortened, Molly and Gil's sketches are excluded, the Guppies aren't shown going to school in the beginning, there is no shop segment, dance song or field trip, and the outside segment comes after the pop song and lasts the majority of the episode. After the story, as the Guppies go back in, Mr. Grouper waves goodbye to the viewer before the reprise of the theme.
  • Library Episode: The episode "Check it Out!" is themed around the library.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: Only six merpeople (seven after Zooli's arrival) live in Bubbletucky, and co-exist with various sea creatures.
  • Loose Tooth Episode: "A Tooth on the Looth!" centers on Deema having a wiggly tooth. She goes to the dentist to get it out. She is later given a coin by the tooth fairy (actually Oona).
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Molly and Goby are named for small fish similar to guppies, while Gil is named for an important part of fish anatomy.
    • "The Police Cop-etition" features Officer Miranda, as in the Miranda warning (you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law, etc).
  • Medium Blending: The characters themselves have CGI bodies and Flash animated facial features. The show also has segments with Flash characters and backdrops.
  • Mind Screw: The characters are all either mermaids or aquatic life, implying that the series would take place underwater. However, the majority of the settings consist of above-water like aspects such as trees and grass. It could be Justified by the fact that bubbles are often seen rising around them, however in some of the Story sketches the characters are blatantly above water (etc. there is running water in the background, or on the moon) and there are still bubbles rising. Added to this that in the episode "The Moon Rocks!", the spaceship they travel in appears to be rising out of somewhere in Canada.
    • In the camping episode, they build a bonfire. Underwater.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The Gorilla-Gator.
  • Never Say "Die": In "Haunted House Party", they constantly dance around just what a zombie is, calling them 'spooky monsters' whose breath is the worst, yet their very best feature
  • New Baby Episode: The episode "Bubble Baby!" focuses on Molly becoming a big sister to a baby.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: The guppies themselves are typical mermaids, but we also have mer-dogs, mer-cows, mer-horses... basically all land animals are mer-creatures in this show.
  • Potty Emergency: A croc wasn't chasing anyone to hurt them. He needed directions to the bathroom.
  • Retool: From the traditional sketch comedy of the first four seasons to the fantasy/storybook format of Season 5 onward.
  • Rule of Cool: In "Have a Cow!", Goby and Gil are having their carrots stolen by a giant robot rabbit. To get it to leave, they use a giant, rocket, robot carrot. This is lampshaded by Oona;
    "Makes sense to me!"
  • Sky Pirate: The pirate who pilots a wooden plane in "Gup, Gup, and Away!"
  • Sneeze of Doom: Played with: Nonny's sneeze shakes enough dirt loose to reveal an entire dinosaur skeleton.
  • Stock Dinosaurs: T. rex, Apatosaurus, and Triceratops are the only dinosaurs mentioned in "Can You Dig It?"
  • The Stoic: Nonny, who smiles noticeably less than the others.
  • Strictly Formula:
    • Molly and Gil host a Cold Open where Gil keeps interrupting Molly with whatever is the subject of the episode. Cue theme song. One of the kids goes to school and encounters some sort of situation. Everyone gathers for school, the featured character tells the situation going on, and they think about it. Cue a song. The kids play store, have lunch where the third makes a food joke, followed by another Molly/Gil sketch. The kids play, they think more, then they go outside and play pretend, followed by coming back inside for a dance. Cue a third Molly/Gil sketch. The kids go on a field trip which resolves the situation as seen in the beginning, and the show concludes with the last Molly/Gil sketch and a reprise of the theme song.
    • For the story sequences: Two or three of the characters are doing some sort of activity, but are followed by something seemingly dangerous. They cater to two major obstacles before whatever was following them appears and reveals they were Good All Along and needed help. So they help that character, and they live Happily Ever After.
  • Super-Deformed: All chibi all the time, just like Handy Manny and Super Why.
  • Talk Like a Pirate: Almost every stock pirate phrase is used in X Marks the Spot.
  • Team Pet: Bubble Puppy as a mascot of sorts.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Averted with the snails, lobsters, crabs, and fish, where there's no physical way to differentiate between the males and females (some females will have hair, however.)
  • Theme Tune Roll Call:
    • Originally the call went: "I'm Molly!" "I'm Gil!" "I'm Goby!" "I'm Deema!" "I'm Oona!" "I'm Nonny!" (bark, bark) "Bubble Puppy!"
    • As of Season 5: "I'm Molly!" "I'm Gil!" "I'm Goby!" "I'm Deema!" "Oona!" "Nonny!" "Zooli!" (bark, bark) "Bubble Puppy!"
  • Token Human: The six Bubble Guppies are the only mer-people seen on the show thus far, the rest of the population consisting of entirelly sea creatures. It's subverted in the fourth season when we see Molly's sister and a pop star named Stylee, both mer-people, and in the fifth season which features new Guppy Zooli. This is even lampshaded in this song.
  • True Companions: The Guppies all care for each other and like to help each other out.
  • Vague Age: The guppies attend some sort of preschool or kindergarten, which puts them somewhere from 5 to 7.
  • Visual Pun: The mailperson from "Happy Clam Day!" is, of course, a snail.
  • Voluntary Shape Shifting: The Flutter Guppies and the Snowy Guppy in "The Puppy and the Ring" can become swarms of butterflies and a polar bear respectively. This leads to a hilarious moment where The Snowy Guppy in his polar bear form answers his phone just as is about to attack Molly, Gil, and the Flutter Guppies.
  • Water Is Air: Hoo boy. There are cars and trucks that make normal engine sounds. There are trees. There are things in the "air" that pretty much stand in for clouds (very non-puffy, but easily mistaken for being clouds that look this way due to the animation style, and if not clouds, what the halibut are they? The background turns colors the sky can be but water should never be. Characters do swim, but mostly hovering over the ground at the exact height they'd be standing if they had legs. It's to the point that when you see someone swim upward or otherwise move as if they are under water, you will say "wait, what?!" Amusingly, though, the Disney Acid Sequences do have them more believably underwater.
  • Weird Moon: In several shots featuring the moon it appears to be hovering in the water. This is most evident in the beginning of "The Moon Rocks!"
  • When He Smiles: Although Nonny is rarely expressive and doesn't smile so much, when he does, it's pretty adorable.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: At the end of the movie, Bubble Puppy has been changed back. The end, right? Turns out the witch escaped at the last minute. When Gil and Molly point out that she can't change anyone into frogs, the witch says she still has her original Mean Green Bubble Potion. Cue Oh, Crap! from the main cast.
    Crab: Awww.