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Western Animation / Caillou

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"Caillou, Caillou, I'm Caillou. That's me!"

Caillou is an animated series based on the books by author Christine L'Heureux and illustrator Hélène Desputeaux. The series originally premiered as a set of sixty-five shorts, each lasting 5 minutes. The idea is that the Caillou stories are actually from books a grandma was reading to her grandchildren. It's about a four-year old named Caillou.

In 2000, the series was picked up by PBS, and was revamped into half-hour episodes with three or four shorts strung together with puppet segments, a song and a "real kids" segment. Along the line, the grandma-reading-to-kids Framing Device was dropped.

However, when the fourth season rolled around, PBS made the decision to can the puppet segments. The fifth and final season aired in Canada in 2010 (March 2013 in the US). In 2016, WildBrain began releasing remade versions of the older episodes on YouTube; this series uses a different art style hewing closer to the illustrations of the original books, as well as a completely different voice cast (the only voice who has been positively identified to date is that of Caillou's dad, Mike Pollock, based on similarities to Pollock's well-known Dr. Eggman voice).


These newer episodes are presented in widescreen High Definition where available. (Segments from earlier installments are presented a letterbox format with a border of colorful stars.) As of 2020, the series is still releasing new material in the form of books and/or eBooks.

Because of the show's rather bad reputation online and with parents, you might want to be careful when talking about this series here.


The show provides examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: In "You're Not Miss Martin!", the substitute teacher at Caillou's playschool, Ms. Shelley, repeatedly calls him "Kyle". Caillou is at first irritated by this and a number of things about her, but Mommy helps him to relate to her by reminding him how he felt on his first day of playschool. The next time she calls him "Kyle", he decides to be patient and politely remind her that his name is "Caillou". The final time she calls him "Kyle", it's just to joke with him.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Caillou often forgets that it's not all about him.
  • Animated Adaptation: Based on the books by Christine L'Heureux and Hélène Desputeaux.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Averted or played straight as the plot demands it. Depending on the Writer, Rosie sometimes plays nice with Caillou; other times she irritates him to no end. Noticeably, she was more annoying in the earlier episodes but slowly mellowed out, probably due to parents complaining. It could also be that she's growing up and learning right from wrong as the show progresses each season...
  • April Fools' Plot: "Caillou's April Fool".
  • Are We There Yet?: In "Caillou Rides a Plane," Caillou asks this to Daddy shortly after they've taken off.
  • Argument of Contradictions: "Caillou's Quarrel" starts off with the narrator's grandson and granddaughter having one of these.
  • Art Evolution:
    • Caillou and Rosie in the original books look very little like their animated series counterparts.
    • The show had an art regression once it changed from traditional animation to ToonBoom and animation work is outsourced to an animation company in South Africa with only twenty five animators working on the project.
  • Art Shift: The show switches between Gilbert, Rexy and Teddy in the animated segments and puppets in the other segments.
  • Award-Bait Song: Every Day from the credits of Caillou's Holiday Movie. It was performed by a Canadian-French artist known as Marilou. While it has every single quality of an Award-Bait Song, it didn't even get nominated. The film's soundtrack album features an extended version. "One Wish" also has qualities of this, but it was only on the film's soundtrack.
  • Baby Talk: Earlier episodes depicted Rosie as speaking this way. However she grows out of it in later episodes.
  • Bald of Awesome: Caillou is bald and is the main protagonist.
  • Baths Are Fun and Hates Baths: There was one episode with Caillou not liking baths, but then Mommy put some bubbles and bath toys in and made it fun. This was later memorialized in a song for one of the show's music albums.
  • Beach Episode: "Beach Trip", "Caillou goes to the Beach" and "Rainy day at the Beach."
  • Because I Said So: Averted. Caillou's parents always have a good answer to Caillou's questions.
  • Berserk Button: Rexy does not like being teased about his speech impediment.
  • The Big Guy: Andre, literally, due to his large size and the fact that he's three years older than Caillou.
  • Black Bead Eyes: Rosie, Clementine, and her family all have these kind of eyes.
  • Black Best Friend: Clementine.
  • Bragging Theme Tune: Caillou praises himself in the Opening Song.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Zigzagged. At times Caillou acts very bratty. Depending on the Writer, Caillou can be quite the Cheerful Child.
  • The Bully: Leo started out as one, but was quickly forced through a Heel–Face Turn by Clementine, literally within minutes.
    • Also, Jim from "Caillou Makes a New Friend" started as one too by taking Caillou's things and not letting him play on the swings. He also went through a Heel–Face Turn and became Caillou's friend.
  • Call-Back: Caillou's Holiday Movie sees Caillou visiting a lot of people featured in past episodes of the show.
  • Camping Episode: "Camping with Grandpa" and "A-Camping We Will Go".
  • Character in the Logo: Most versions of the show's logo have Caillou himself in them.
  • Characterization Marches On: In Seasons 1 and 2, Caillou acts like a spoiled Bratty Half-Pint who whined and complained when he didn't get his way. In Season 3, he still acts like a brat but is nicer and more considerate of others. By Season 4, all the bad traits about Caillou are gone and he acts like a Cheerful Child and a Nice Guy with a big imagination and a big heart. Season 5 occasionally makes him Innocently Insensitive, and could sometimes be a bit self-absorbed, and became a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Charlie Brown Baldness: Taken to the next level — Caillou is actually totally bald.
  • Cheerful Child: Zigzagged with Caillou. He is sometimes a very cheerful and happy kid. Depending on the Writer, Caillou can also be quite the Bratty Half-Pint.
    • The other kids are definitely this as well.
  • Christmas Episode: "Holiday Wonders" and "Christmas."
  • Christmas Special: A direct-to-DVD movie - Caillou's Holiday Movie, which also mentions Hanukkah in passing.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The puppets, who disappear after Season 3.
    • Digital cable guides still mention the puppets in the descriptions of older Caillou episodes.
    • Julie also disappears after Season 3 without any explanation. Grandma and Grandpa take over her duties as a babysitter in Seasons 4 and 5 instead.
  • Clock Tampering: Done in "Caillou's April Fool" by Daddy as a practical joke on Mommy, moving the kitchen clock ahead an hour from 8:00 to 9:00 AM, to confuse her when she comes down in the morning for breakfast. After the prank successfully works, this leads to the parents explaining to Caillou what April Fools' Day is and inspires him to play a joke on Mommy as well.
  • Crossdressing Voices: Caillou is is always played by a female. Cookie Jar loves this trope.
  • Crossover: Did a tie-in with the Montreal Biodome in the early 2000s.
  • Death Fic: People love making these kinds of stories with Caillou.
  • Depending on the Writer: Caillou can be a tantrum-throwing brat or gentle boy due to this. It also determines whether Rosie is an angel or Bratty Half-Pint to Caillou.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The theme song is sung be Caillou himself.
  • Eek, a Mouse!!: In "Leo's Hamster," this happens when Leo's hamster, Buddy, whom Caillou is petsitting, gets loose.
    Caillou: Mommy, why are you standing on the chair?
    Mommy: Me? (giggles nervously) Oh, no reason.
  • Episode on a Plane: "Caillou Rides an Airplane."
  • Episode Tagline: The episode "Caillou's Cross Word" is all about the word "stupid" and how it's not a nice way to describe someone.
  • Exhausted Eye Bags: Both Rosie and Caillou get this in "Caillou's Puppet Show" when they're sick with the flu.
  • Forced into Their Sunday Best: Caillou is forced into his Sunday best for Christmas Eve dinner with Grandma and Grandpa; he doesn't understand why at first, because Grandpa and Grandma come over to visit all the time.
  • Framing Device: The earlier inceptions had Caillou's episodes beginning with a grandmother announcing today's story to her grandchildren, said story being the actual Caillou episode. It was later dropped, and it's cut altogether on PBS Kids airings.
  • Free Prize at the Bottom: In "No Tradebacks!" in the fifth season, Caillou gets a small toy shovel as a prize in a cereal box, but is upset because it's not the stickers that he wanted — ones like those that Rosie got when it was her turn to get the free prize. He trades it with a friend Jay for a set of the stickers and they agree to "no tradebacks," but then Caillou is upset that he traded it away when he sees that Jay attached it to his dump-truck, this being a feature of the shovel. He cajoles Jay so much that Jay finally agrees to a tradeback anyway, but when Caillou sees how upset Jay gets, he finally honors the original agreement.
  • Friendly Tickle Torture: In "Caillou's Leaf Pile," Daddy tells Caillou that "There's always a way to solve a problem. You just have to use your imagination... or your fingers," then tickles him playfully.
  • Halloween Episode: "Halloween" and "Caillou's Halloween Costume".
  • Hiccup Hijinks: In "Caillou's Hiccups" from the fifth season, Caillou gets the hiccups. At first, Caillou's parents tell him to be patient and they'll go away on their own, as patience is the theme of the episode in which this story is featured. But when Caillou keeps hiccuping, his parents start up with the various "cures," only for them to go away on their own, just as his parents first suggested. Then Daddy gets them.
  • Hollywood Genetics: Caillou's dad has brown hair, and in the books, his mom has black hair. His little sister... has red hair.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In "Caillou Joins The Circus", Caillou claims that he doesn't want to cut toast into duckies because "that's for babies", despite the fact that Caillou had thrown a tantrum moments before over not getting to go to the circus until the next day.
  • "I Am" Song: The theme song.
  • Ill Girl: Emma, who has Type 1 diabetes. Caillou is confused as to why she's allowed extra snacks in school and has to have the implications of diabetes explain for him.
  • Importation Expansion: The PBS version has new segments featuring puppets of Caillou's cat Gilbert, as well as his toys Teddy and Rexy, exploring the world around them that frame the actual program.
  • Injured Limb Episode: "Get Well Soon" and "Caillou The Patient." The former involves Leo hurting his foot and the latter involves Caillou hurting his knee.
  • Innocent Swearing: The banned episode "Caillou's Crossword" uses the word "stupid" to teach children about cursing. After Caillou and Leo hear an older boy use the word, they call Clementine stupid, and it upsets her. Caillou later uses it around Rosie, and she learns the word. Caillou's mom teaches him that it's a bad word and he apologizes to Clementine.
  • It's All About Me: Caillou. Somewhat justified, since an egocentric phase is a normal developmental stage for very small children. Averted in Season 4 but subverted in Season 5.
    • Rosie occasionally goes into this territory, but not as often as Caillou. You'd think that the younger sibling would be more self-centered, but it's actually Caillou who's more selfish than Rosie.
    • Except for a brief descent into this with the "Me Me Boy" song and a couple of other moments, Caillou seems almost angelic in Caillou's Holiday Movie. The effect is doubled with the additional songs on the film's album. One of them, "One Wish," even has Caillou expressing in song that his one special wish "is hoping you'll be as happy and lucky as me."
  • "I Want" Song: "Me Me Boy" from Caillou's Holiday Movie.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Caillou becomes this in Season 5.
  • Jerkass Ball: Caillou, often.
  • Just a Kid: This has been the reason why Caillou and Rosie can't do some things yet.
  • Karma Houdini: Caillou often goes without punishment for acting bratty.
  • Keep Away: Mommy does this for demonstration purposes when teaching Caillou to play ringette.
  • Kids Prefer Boxes: One episode has Cailou's parents buy him a computer he can play on; he ends up liking the box it came in better.
  • Large Ham: Mostly done by Caillou himself during a tantrum. These are only two examples:
    Caillou: I don't want to play families! I want to play DINOSAURS!!!
  • Licensed Games / Edutainment Games: About a dozen or so edutainment titles for the PC/Mac. There's also an iPhone audiobook app.
  • Long-Runner Tech Marches On: One of the early installments showed Caillou learning about the use of a bulky old model desktop computer. Flash-forward to 2020 and he is video-conferencing with his friends with Daddy's help in a book about the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic, but is still just a "kid who's 4."
  • Look Behind You: In "Caillou's Quarrel", Clementine suggests she and Caillou have a race, then uses the phrase to give herself a head start.
  • Lost Voice Plot: In "A Frog In Caillou's Throat", Caillou loses his voice due to strep throat.
  • Match Cut: Happens in one episode, when Callou's family needs their luggage onto a train.
  • Meaningful Name: Caillou actually means "pebble" in French. Or rather, the word is a Québécois slang term for bald-head.
    • There's also Andre, who is really big compared to the others.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Like many Animated Adaptations, it was originally created to sell the books but quickly spun out of control. Yeah, among tons of merchandise, there is even Caillou branded shampoo out there. For those who don't get it, Caillou is bald. But then again, he's been shown on the program getting a shampooing in the bath, despite his baldness. You can even see it here.
  • Mr. Imagination: Caillou developed into one in the fourth season, though these segments were discontinued in the fifth season. Despite this, these episodes retain the opening sequence that was created for the fourth season, even though it heavily features clips from these segments.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: In "Caillou's Halloween Costume", Rosie dresses as a princess, clown, and cat all in one.
  • No Antagonist: Well, Leo was an antagonist in the episode that introduced him... for two whole minutes. He's all friendly with Caillou after and for the rest of the series.
    • There was also a boy named Jim who was mean to Caillou, taking his toys and going out of his way to beat him to the swing but he also changed and became Caillou's friend just a few minutes later.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Caillou, if perhaps allowed to grow up a bit, experiences a very dragged-out childhood. In the earliest books from the 1990s, he is a baby. In the very early installments of the television series, he is 3. From then on, he is officially 4, as stated in the theme song, "I'm just a kid who's 4 / Each day I grow some more!" However, in later seasons he takes more steps into school and eventually starts attending playschool and mixing more with older kids. That's where things stand as of 2019.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Caillou and Rosie get this sometimes, especially in the first 3 seasons. The Caillou Wiki has a list of times that Mommy excused not being able to do things with Caillou or Rosie at the moment because she was "too busy".
  • One Steve Limit: Averted in that Caillou's imaginary friend is named George and he has a skating instructor who is also named George.
  • Only One Name: Caillou's family name is never revealed.
  • Picnic Episode: "Caillou's Picnic."
  • Potty Dance: Rosie does this in Caillou's Holiday Movie.
    Mommy: (trying to sit her in Santa's lap) What is it, sweetie?
    Rosie: Bafroom.
  • Potty Emergency:
    • The episode "Rainy Day" is centered around Caillou having one while his mother waits for him to leave somewhere. Unfortunately, due to many distractions, he keeps forgetting about his urge. He does make it at the end, though.
    • In "Caillou Goes Strawberry Picking'', Caillou has to use the bathroom before leaving to go strawberry picking.
    • In "A-Camping We Will Go", Caillou has one on their way to the campsite, so his mother pulls the car over by a rock for Caillou to relieve himself behind.
    • In "Fall Is In The Air", Caillou has to go during a school assembly.
    • Rosie has one when meeting Santa in Caillou's Holiday Movie.
  • Protagonist Title: Caillou is the protagonist, and the series is named for him.
  • Punny Name: The boy who bullies Caillou on the playground, refusing to share and wanting to be first to do everything, is named Jim.
  • Rail Enthusiast: Caillou comes by it honestly; his father and grandfather love trains.
  • Retool: The second season sees quite a few changes from the first; the stories are no longer introduced by the narrator preparing to read it to her grandkids, Caillou now wears a yellow shirt (instead of a gray one) and he is much more well-behaved and adventurous (most of the time).
  • Santa Claus: In Caillou's Holiday Movie, the song "Where Santa Has a Different Name" provides details on Christmas traditions around the world, including Denmark, Slovakia, and Greece. Lapsitting is also seen in this special, as well as in the story "Holiday Magic." Also, the song "Riding in Santa's Sleigh," which is only on the Caillou's Holiday Movie soundtrack album, features a sequence involving Santa inviting Caillou for a Christmas morning ride on his sleigh.
  • Screen Tap: In Caillou's Holiday Movie, Caillou throws a snowball toward Rosie and it hits the "camera."
  • Slice of Life: Yes, it's one of these shows.
  • Slumber Party: Caillou and Leo have sleepovers in the episodes "Sleepover at Leo's" and "Sleepover Guest." Caillou and Sarah also have one in the episode "A Surprise Sleepover".
  • So Proud of You: Caillou gets this from Mommy in "Caillou Goes Bowling" after trying bowling for the first time.
  • Spoiled Brat: Caillou himself in the earlier seasons. This is averted in Season 4 and subverted in Season 5.
  • Stock Animal Name: Clementine's pet goldfish is called Goldie. Big surprise.
  • Stock Sound Effects: Caillou's vocal effects in the first season, most notably his crying (including a big long "WAAAAAAH!", infamous for accompanying his tantrum in "Caillou Joins the Circus.")
  • Stop Copying Me: Subverted. In the episode "Copycat Clementine", Caillou thinks Clementine is being a copycat and doing it to annoy him. She copies his drum for music circle and Miss Martin gives her all the credit for making it. She also copies the road he makes in the sand when they're outside and nobody will play on his road. Because of this, he refuses to let Clementine sit with him at snack time. When he tells his mother about it, she says that Clementine probably isn't doing it to annoy him. The next day, Clementine copies a bird that Caillou makes and when she gets to talk about her bird, she says she got the idea from Caillou and compliments what he does.
  • Surprise Party
    • In "Blueberry Point" from the fifth season, one is given to Grandpa for his birthday. They put the finishing touches on the surprise party while Caillou is out with Grandpa on a trip to Blueberry Point.
    • In "A Surprise for Miss Martin", Caillou and his friends host a surprise birthday party for their playschool teacher, Miss Martin.
  • Tagalong Kid: Caillou can be this when he goes somewhere with the adults. Rosie can also be this if she plays with Caillou and his friends much to Caillou's annoyance sometimes.
  • Tagline: "Growing up is the greatest adventure of all!", sometimes shortened to simply "Growing up is the greatest adventure!"
  • Teachers out of School: When Caillou and his family go Christmas caroling, they visit Miss Martin's house, and she gives Caillou and Rosie cookies.
  • Thanksgiving Episode: "Thanksgiving", naturally.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: There was a song segment (featuring a kid group known as the "Caillettes") once in every episode when PBS Kids picked the show up, though these were ditched in the fifth season.
  • The Dreaded Pretend Tea Party: In "Caillou's Quarrel", Clementine decides to have a tea party with Caillou's teddy bear and bunny. She tries to get Caillou to sit down and play too, but he doesn't want to and instead yells at her.
  • Third-Person Person: Rosie, because she's only around 2-3 years old. Noticeably, this habit was dropped in later seasons, though it seems it zigzagged a bit.
  • This Is My Side: Caillou does this in a fifth season episode with his and Rosie's playroom when Rosie accidentally scratches his bike and he decides that she can't be trusted with any of his stuff.
  • Title Theme Tune: Caillou mentions his name six times in the theme tune.
  • Took a Level in Cheerfulness: Caillou gets more cheerful and more willing to do things and be friends with others as the series goes on.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: In Season 5, Caillou went from being a Nice Guy with a big heart to moving further into the Jerk with a Heart of Gold area.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Caillou gets nicer in each season, but it's really brought up in Season 4 where he acts like a complete angel. This is most likely due to viewer parents complaining about Caillou being a whiny brat.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Caillou, Leo, and Clementine are usually the three friends shown together.
  • Trope Breaker: The poor reception of the show in the United States killed off the Importation Expansion trope for foreign television programs.
  • Unnecessary Roughness: The majority of banned of the show episodes were banned because of harsh behavior on Caillou's part. He pinches Rosie in one episode, throwing a book at her and shoving her out of his room in another. In a further two episodes, he hurts Clementine with his words, yelling at her loudly in one episode and calling her "stupid" in the other.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Caillou and Rosie sometimes don't want help because they want to show their parents they can do things themselves.
  • Valentine's Day Episode: "Caillou's Secret Valentine" and "Caillou's Valentine."
  • Very Special Episode:
    • "Caillou is Getting Older". He finds a dead birdnote . Daddy tells him that the bird died because it got too old. That turned out to be a bad idea, as Caillou started getting paranoid that he would die at any minute. Unfortunately for him, there was Daddy's eyes getting bad (he told Caillou he might be getting old), and Sarah having a birthday and being one whole year older. A kid being paranoid about death is pretty dark for a kid cartoon.note 
    • One installment focuses on Caillou's friend Emma having diabetes, while another is about him meeting a boy named Alan who has Down's Syndrome. The diabetes episode was also released as a book with a special educational poster. Another installment, released only as a book, also with an educational poster, is called Caillou Meets Sophie and is about Caillou meeting an autistic girl named Sophie. Also, in April 2020, in the wake of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic, a title called Caillou: Everything Will Be Fine was released exclusively as an eBook. In the title, Caillou learns that his day care is being shut down indefinitely and thinks it like a vacation at first, but starts to miss his friends. The title also teaches about hand-washing.
  • Walk Into Camera Obstruction: With Caillou near the end of the opening theme when he runs to his grandparents.
  • Wedding Episode: "Caillou's First Wedding".
  • What Have We Ear?: Caillou takes an interest in magic after seeing this trick performed at Leo's birthday party.
  • Work Off the Debt: Joked about in "Caillou Becomes a Waiter." When Caillou and his babysitter Julie make a pretend restaurant, the cost for a macaroni meal is four cents, but Caillou tells her she doesn't have any money. She responds that if he can't pay for his meal, he'll have to do the dishes, but says she guesses she can make an exception. He replies that he wants to do the dishes. Afterwards, both he and Julie are at the sink.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Caillou pinches Rosie in "Big Brother Caillou", and also shoves her out of his room in "Rosie Bothers Caillou".
  • Youthful Freckles: Leo has these.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: It's hard to tell where the show is set. The characters celebrate American holidays such as Halloween and Thanksgiving, but no clues are given other than that.


Video Example(s):


Caillou Throws a Tantrum

Perhaps the most infamous moment of Caillou acting like this, all he thought the circus was that day! Plus a rare instance where's actually reprimanded for his bratty behavior.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / BrattyHalfPint

Media sources:

Main / BrattyHalfPint