Created by Matt Burnett and Ben Levin, who served as the head writers of Steven Universe for its first five seasons, Craig of the Creek is an American animated television series created for Cartoon Network. The series follows the adventures of the ever imaginative Craig and his two best friends Kelsey and J.P., as they explore the woods outside their small town of Herkleston and interact with a myriad of eccentric characters: from paintball players that use near-lethal ammunition to a tribe of kids that hoard lost toys in the sewers.
The pilot for the show was released on the Cartoon Network App/VOD in December 2017, while the series proper similarly premiered on these services on February 19, 2018; the show made its television debut on March 30, 2018.
Craig of the Creek provides examples of:
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: There's an entire society of kids hanging out in the sewers.
- Creator Cameo: Kid Caricatures of the crew (called Creeksonas) are sometimes seen as background characters
- Creator Provincialism: The town of Herkleston is a mid-Atlantic town that lies just off one of the auxiliary routes of Interstate 295, with the mention of cicadas in the episode "The Brood" narrowing it down to around Virginia.
- Crossover: The promotional picture for the Steven Universe episode "Reunited" features Kelsey and JP mocking Steven for tempting fate.
- Free-Range Children: The sheer number of kids able to explore the creek without adult supervision.
- Fun with Acronyms: In "The Kid From 3030", Craig asks Deltron if the future has anything like the Creek:Craig: I can't imagine life without the Creek. It's a beautiful place where we all can do what we want to do.
Deltron: Hm, I see. After searching my database, it seems like the closest we have to that in the future are what we call Post-Apocalyptic Recreation Centers: "P.A.R.C."s for short.
- Heh Heh, You Said "X": In "The Invitation", when J.P. and Boris are playing croquet:J.P.: Sorry for getting pushy with your tushy!
J.P.: You said the word that I said.
- Lethal Joke Character: Squeakers the Infected Rat is this in Bring Out Your Beast. The card deals -3 damage to its owner at the end of every turn, and who wants to use a character that only hurts you? Someone playing against a Beast Snare, tricking the opponent into snaring Squeakers and then the opponent faces the -3 damage penalty.
- Local Hangout: The titular creek.
- Mr. Imagination: Craig, Kelsey, and JP, but especially Craig.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Playing in a creek is made into a huge deal for the kids who do.
- Playing Doctor: In "Jextra Perrestrial" JP is convinced he's an alien so the trio resort to this to determine whether or not he is.
- Reality Ensues: The trio are launched high into the air - high enough that they can see the town - and land feet first into Craig's backyard. Then Kelsey falls over and Craig and JP buckle their knees, with Craig saying they jumped really far.
- Serious Business: The kids treat everything that involves hanging out at the creek this way. In "You're It", a game of Tag is treated like a curse that has been passed down to the kids in the neighborhood for generations.
- One of the posters in the Elders' hideout is a poster for Sadboy Pilotgeddon.
- Craig apparently has a book on MTG in his room.
- Steven Universe:
- One of the things in the junk pile seen in the pilot episode is a Steven Universe doll.
- In "Bring Out Your Beast", Craig sings the Lil Butler theme song while washing dishes.
- In The Invitation, the scene where Craig throws the axe at the Tea Timers cake is remarkably similar to the famous 1984 Apple commercial.
- In "Vulture's Nest", there's a poster in Bad Moves' garage that reads "Jeff Rose - In Stock". This is a shout-out to Jeff Rosenstock, who composes the music for the series and has toured with Bad Moves in real life.
- The same episode features a shout-out to the Silent Barn, a beloved but now-defunct music venue in Brooklyn, New York.
- Tiny Boxer from the titular game in "Power Punchers" is K.O. with an altered design.
- In "The Climb", Kelsey shouts Merry Christmas, you filthy animals!
- In "Dinner at the Creek", J.P. trying to take some acorns from inside a tree and then getting attacked by the squirrels is similar to the way Winnie-the-Pooh would do with honey bees. He even says "Smackeral" and "Oh, bother."
- To Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in "Deep Creek Salvage", when Craig finds a wrapper good for $50,000 and a tour of Moldy McGoldy's candy factory, which was located in Kentucky and closed down in 1964 for giving out too many winning candy bars.
- Shown Their Work: In "Itch to Explore", Craig refers to poison ivy by its scientific name Toxicodendron radicans.
- Skintone Sclerae: Seems to be a trait of the Paul family, given both JP and his sister have them.
- Slice of Life: The daily adventures of kids playing in a creek.
- Special Guest:
- The band Bad Moves appear as themselves in "Vulture's Nest".
- Del Tha Funkee Homosapien appears in "The Kid from 3030", as a kid who moved from the city to the suburbs and is pretending to be the titular robot from the future.
- Take That!:
- The whole premise of "Bring Out Your Beast" is to make fun of Yu-Gi-Oh! up to "playing with your heart."
- In "The Kid from 3030", one of the atrocities parents caused in the future is getting rid of net neutrality.
- Worthless Treasure Twist: In "Deep Creek Salvage", Craig sees something shiny in the creek, thinking it might be gold, with Craig, Kelsey and J.P. clearing the junk out of the swamp, only to discover that the gold bar is actually an ancient candy bar from a candy factory that went out of business over 50 years ago with an expired sweepstakes wrapper. Nevertheless, the Creek kids learn to appreciate the creek which is now cleared of pollution.