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Clockwise from top: J.P., Kelsey (with Mortimor), Craig.

"The creek is a place where we can all be whatever we want!"
Craig, Pilot
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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 Herkleton 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. On January 19, 2022, the series was renewed for a fifth season and a movie was announced.

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A spinoff series tentatively titled Jessica's Big Little World, starring Craig's little sister, was announced on February 17, 2021, to be in development for Cartoon Network's Cartoonito preschool block.


Craig of the Creek provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: There's an entire society of kids hanging out in the sewers.
  • Art Evolution: Character designs in some early episodes dipped into Off-Model territory in a few scenes. In the later episodes, the animation is more smoother and vibrant, and characters make more cartoony face expressions.
  • Animesque: Anime references and elements tend to be spotted throughout the show. Especially when the Elders (who are avid otakus who like stuff like Sadboy Pilotgeddon), the Ninja Kids (who are clearly inspired by Naruto) or Sparkle Cadet the local Magical Girl are around.
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  • Beyond the Impossible: After getting fed up by the rules of the "PAY UP" board game, Jessica starts placing game piece houses around the house to claim them as her own. Nicole comments that she managed to put a house piece inside a bottle of orange juice without breaking the freshness seal.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In Season 4, Eileen's grandmother is introduced and she only speaks Bisaya (Cebuano). Her Bisaya sentences have no subtitles. She remarks "Huh.... Maayo ra na sila sa sunod nga salida" ("Huh.... But they're gonna make up in the sequel anyway") in response to a Cliffhanger in the film she's watching. She also says that Craig is handsome and asks if he's Eileen's boyfriend.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The series occasionally acknowledges itself as a cartoon.
    • In "Jpony", during JP's dance "Do The JP", he calls out to the kids watching at home to join in and dance.
    • While playing Hide & Seek inside the Wilson household in "Snow Place Like Home", Craig looks for a hiding spot and notices a white space on the 4th wall near the front door. Craig comments that they never use this room on the show.
    • When Bernard, Craig, and Jessica get locked out of their house in "Locked Out Cold", Craig comments how they already did this plot in an earlier episode.
    • JP is aware that he has a Non-Standard Character Design compared to the other kids, such as Skintone Sclerae, and while not directly breaking the fourth wall, often leans against it to point out meta details in the animation.
    • In "King of Camping", Duane shows off his hatchet by claiming that it can cut off heads... of cabbages, lettuces, and other "TV-Y7 vegetables".
    • In "Adventures in Baby Casino," Craig tells the watchers that this is where they come in before playing Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe with Big Baby.
  • Casting Gag:
    • The Horse Girls are all voiced by members of the improv group "Wild Horses".
    • David, one of the Elders of the Creek, is a nerdy otaku voiced by Zachary Steel. Sounds a bit like Ronaldo.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The game of Capture the Flag. The kids' investigation into the history of the creek kids who played there before them revealed Apocalyptic Logs of a great game of Capture the Flag that was used to settle disputes between the various factions of the creek. After King Xavier took over the Creek, the Creek Kids regained their independence through a game of Capture the Flag.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: The kids of the creek all pretend their fantasies are real and make them extremely gullible to anything that should be impossible. To the audience, these fantasies are shown to be real enough, but at times, the curtain gets pulled back and we see that they're all pretending to see these fantasies and are simply messing around (not that they'll ever admit that they're using their imagination).
  • Clip Show: On HBO Max, the 2019 shorts are edited together (with the opening theme, end credits, and new title cards) and made into an episode under season 3 titled "Creek Shorts."
  • Continuity Creep: Beginning with the episodes "Under the Overpass" and "Jessica Trail," the show developed an overarching plot concerning a conflict with The Other Side of the Creek.
  • Covers Always Lie: In "Dog Decider," Craig recalls when he was chosen to choose a movie for movie night with his grandparents on a weekend. He chose the movie "Burning Justice" over "Rhino Racers" because the first sounded and looked better (it had a dismembered, melting face showing the skull). As it turned out, it was a boring courtroom movie.
    Bernard: You have ruined this weekend and tamales.
  • Creator Cameo: Kid Caricatures of the crew (called Creeksonas) are sometimes seen as background characters
  • Creator Provincialism: The town of Herkleton lies just off one of the auxiliary routes of Maryland's Interstate 295.
  • Crossover: The promotional picture for the Steven Universe episode "Reunited" (drawn by Matt Burnett) features Kelsey and JP mocking Steven for tempting fate.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: Season four introduces a series of puzzle cubes that are said to lead to a treasure called the Heart of the Forest once fully assembled. J.P. lampshades this by mentioning that it would probably take the rest of the season to find them all, or at least a few weekends.
  • Dope Slap: In "Big Pinchy", when J.P. meets a group of sapling trees and tells Kelsey she must be so tall to chill, she punches J.P. in the chest.
  • Denser and Wackier: By season 4, the characters tend to have much more cartoony and over-the-top reactions, and there's much more fourth wall breaking.
  • Driving Question: In Season 2 "Ancients of the Creek", the Stump Trio discovers that the ancient kids of the creek played a game of Capture the Flag that escalated into a war across the creek that would drive them all to become indoor kids. The Trio is trying to figure out what happened back then so it won't repeat again. The game proves to be the last resort for the Creek Kids to regain their independence after King Xavier successfully takes over.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Title cards from the first to mid-second season mimicked kids' drawings to reflect an adventure. Starting in "Craig and the Kids' Table" onwards, the title cards are painted, and more vibrant and colored as a result.
    • As their voice actors hadn't hit puberty yet, Craig and Jason's voices were much higher-pitched in early season 1 then they are in the rest of the series. Kelsey, meanwhile, had a completely different voice actor, and thus a completely different voice, in the first few episodes.
    • Season 1 is the only completed season that doesn't have any double-length episodes.
  • "Everyone Is Gone" Episode: In "The Last Kid In The Creek", after refusing to eat hot cabbage and clam chips that JP offered him, Craig declares that he'd rather be alone than surrounded by "weird snack-loving kids", then shouts "YOU HEAR THAT, UNIVERSE!?". Some days later, he finds he's the only kid left in the creek after everyone else got sick (because Kit refused to take a sick day from running the Trading Tree).
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling:
    • Between the Williams kids, Craig enjoys playing and goofing off and hates chores and responsibility, while Bernard is stern, straightlaced, and takes work very seriously. Naturally, they don’t get along very well. Jessica is an oddball, as she fluctuates between being more and less responsible than Craig.
    • Between the Mercer kids, JP is an utter Cloudcuckoolander who often gets himself into precarious situations, which Laura is quick to call him out on. She's still more willing to take it easy than Bernard, however.
  • Free-Range Children: The sheer number of kids able to explore the creek without adult supervision. The adults are aware that the creek is the playground that kids go to, and the kids are well aware that any problem that happens must be solved by themselves, because letting adults know about what they do would get them banned.
  • 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.
  • The Ghost: Tony Mozafari is often mentioned among the Creek Kids. He started the water balloon fight in "Escape from Family Dinner", was reported to have a lizard the size of a car in "Sour Candy Trials" (though this was Big Red making things up), kids took refuge in his tree house in "The Ground Is Lava", and claimed he knows and booked a famous musical band (which he actually did) for "Creek Talent Extravaganza." He's never actually been seen or heard at any point in the show.
  • 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!
    Boris: Tushy.
    J.P.: You said the word that I said.
  • Hiroshima as a Unit of Measure: The kids use backyards as a unit of measuring distance, which doesn't make sense because backyards are different sizes and have different lengths and widths.
  • How Is That Even Possible?:
    • In "The Takeout Mission", the trio can't turn the stove to boil brown rice because they've been told not to. The stove suddenly turns on by itself. Only JP is disturbed by this event.
    • Jessica starts placing "Pay Up!" house pieces around the house to claim them as her own. Nicole is amazed that she put one inside a bottle of orange juice without breaking the freshness seal.
  • Inner Thoughts, Outsider Puzzlement: Kelsey is prone to doing Inner Monologues and striking heroic poses while doing so. In at least one case, it was shown that this isn't just in her mind and people observe her actions with bemusement.
  • 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: All the neighborhood's kids hang out at the eponymous Creek almost every single day.
  • Loose Tooth Episode: "Jessica Shorts" has one of the shorts be Jessica trying to lose the tooth.
  • Malicious Misnaming: In "The Other Side of the Creek: the Tournament", Maya consistently call the Honeysuckle Rangers, the "Honey-suckers".
  • Missing Mom: Kelsey’s mother passed away a few years prior to the beginning of the series. It’s shown in "Takeout Mission" that Kelsey got her love of fantasy from her.
  • Mr. Imagination: Craig, Kelsey, and JP, but especially Craig. Their vivid imaginations turn ordinary playtime into epic quests. Really, all the kids of the creek fit, but they usually stick to their own cliques for what they imagine.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Playing in a creek is made into a huge deal for the kids who do. Some of the kids and events that happen suggest that not everything is grounded in reality. Wildernessa's dog, Cheesesticks, can roar loud enough to physically push Craig, Kelsey, and JP from the middle of a thick algae pond onto the shore, and blowing their souls out of their bodies in the process.
  • Order Versus Chaos: The series develops an ongoing storyline involving Craig's desire to map out the Creek, which becomes a key MacGuffin that the King of the Other Side of the Creek needs in order to expand his empire. The kids of the Creek all form their own cliques and rules for playing, but ultimately get along with each other. The kids from the Other Side of the Creek have to submit to the King's rules. By the end of "The Tournament", The King has taken detailed pictures of Craig's map. By the end of season 3, King Xavier has been dethroned after briefly ruling the entire Creek.
  • Otaku: Hang out with the Elders and the Ninja Kids for a while to find out.
    • The Elders of the Creek take interest in playing video games and tabletop roleplaying games in their hideout, but embody the typical western geek gamer.
    • The Ninja Kids are all about Japanese Manga. Craig manages to entice one of them for a deal by offering a Two Piece blind box.
  • 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.
  • Potty Emergency: The B Plot of "Alone Quest" is Craig needing to poop, though he gets the alert while he's far away from a bathroom and deals with multiple obstacles keeping him from reaching one.
  • Scaling the Summit: In "The Climb" Craig attempts to get an aerial view of the creek by strapping his phone to a series of balloons. In the process the phone ends up stuck in Mt. Sycamore, the tallest tree in the creek. Craig and his friends then spend the rest of the episode climbing the mountain to retrieve the phone.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In "Jessica the Intern", the Stump Trio comes back to the Trading Tree and sees Kit and Jessica being surrounded by crazy zombie kids wanting "sticker chips" that ran out of stickers, they decide not to help and go the other way. At the end, Craig comes back to try to help the girls out, except they had already solved their problem and chew him out for running away.
  • Series Fauxnale: The Capture The Flag five episode special event at the end of season 3 neatly wraps up the overarching conflict between the Kids of the Creek and the Creek Kingdom. It answers the mystery of what the Capture the Flag War from the ancient kids of the Creek was even for, features the sudden return of various allies and antagonists such as Deltron and Paloma, sees King Xavier dethroned by Craig and his kingdom toppled, and the entire other half of the creek is now available to explore. The event had all the makings of a final episode and could have ended right there with most mysteries wrapped up and a few threads for some characters left intentionally hanging, but the series was renewed for a season 4 and the adventure continues on.
  • Serious Business: The kids treat everything that involves hanging out at the creek this way. Pretty much everything is taken seriously until the dinner alarm at the end of the day snaps everyone back to reality.
    • 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.
    • In "The Ground is Lava!", everyone in the creek pretends the ground is, well, lava, though Craig plays it for drama after getting into an argument with Jessica and he wishes to find her before she succumbs to the lava. The thing is, she's not playing the game, so the kids' imagination of her doesn't work...until she's accidentally coaxed into playing it, that is.
    • If someone pretends to handcuff you, you have to pretend to be restrained.
    • Cardboard apparently has a lot of neat appliances when really going to the extremes.
    • Moving away from the creek equals the kid in question is dead to everyone. (At least they arrange a funeral.)
    • The kids of the creek are all generally ignorant of the time during sunset that they absolutely need one of them (Beth the Timekeeper) to remind them (and therefore snap them out of their fantasies) loudly to go home for dinner at 6 o'clock.
    • Adults aren't safe from being serious on their own stuff. Duane takes his camping skills very seriously that fishing out a salamander instead of a fish still means it has to be eaten to survive.
  • Ship Tease:
    • A few of these happen between Craig and Kit in "The Shortcut", most notably when Kit's Grandma whispers to Kit that she shouldn't trade Craig anything for her heart, causing Kit to be embarrassed.
    • Wildernessa has this with Craig. In her debut episode, as she describes the dangers of the creek, her imaginary depiction of Craig is exaggeratedly handsome. It's made very explicit that she has a crush on him in "Breaking the Ice". Cartoon Network even teased them in their social media platform accounts during the 2021 Valentine's Day with "Vote for Your Fav Ship Name", where they called them "Crildernessa", and "Your Relationship Based on Your Sign", where they use couples to represent the Western Zodiac, with them representing Taurus. What's interesting to note is on the latter post, they used Official Couples for each signs (granted, two of the couples broke upnote  and one's with a Companion Cubenote ), so it's ambiguous if they'll go down that route with them. Then, the day before Valentine's Day 2022, they were teased even further in "All the Adorable Couples", which included married couples like Nicole & Duane and Jojo & Earl, couples officially dating like Courtney & Tabitha and Bernard & Alexis, and couples who are official in all but name like Kelsey & Stacks, J.P. & Maney, and Shawn & Raj.
  • Shout-Out: The show is filled with references to popular media. See the page for more details.
  • Shown Their Work: In "Itch to Explore", Craig refers to poison ivy by its scientific name Toxicodendron radicans.
  • Show Within a Show: There are several franchises enjoyed by the main characters. Among the most prominently featured are "Ythrith of Scriggth," a fantasy book series Kelsey is a fan of, "Slide the Ferret" a shout-out to Sonic the Hedgehog that Craig is a fan of, and "Power Punchers," a fighting game Craig plays with his dad.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Kenneth seems to be a saint compared to Xavier.
  • Skewed Priorities: In "Elders of the Creek", it goes both ways when the elders are trapped under their rock and livestream their Sanity Slippage for viewership, so the kids watching don't want to get them out for that same reason. That is, until Craig warns them all that their parents will come and find out the dangerous stuff the kids do at the creek. Cue the instant cavalry.
  • Skintone Sclerae: Seems to be a trait of the Mercer family, given both JP and his sister have them.
  • Slapstick Knows No Gender: Kelsey is subjected to physical slapstick more than some of the boys in the show. Other girls aren't exempt either, such as Sparkle Cadet, MacKenzie, and Wren.
  • 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. His character is named Deltron, in a nod to his project with Dan the Automator, Deltron 3030. Deltron returns in "Capture the Flag Part 5: The Game", but Del himself doesn't, as Deltron has no speaking lines and performs the preexisting Deltron 3030 song "Positive Contact".
    • Keith David is Craig's narrator voice in "Craig and the Kids' Table".
  • Spiritual Successor: To Recess, a similar show about kids having their own little "world" outside their home lives and taking it very seriously.
  • Strong Family Resemblance:
    • Craig gets his bean-like head shape from his grandpa.
    • Kelsey inherited her father's thick eyebrows and J.P. has the same skin and hair color like his mom and sister.
  • Sudden Eye Colour: This usually applies to certain characters with standard black pupils.
    • For example, Kelsey has black pupils as her standard design but there are certain moments where she’s revealed to have brown eyes.
    • Another example is from the “Better Than You” episode where despite having black pupils, The Squashinator is revealed to have blue eyes.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • 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.
    • In "The Climb" Kelsey sends her pet parakeet Mortimer to fly up a massive tree to retrieve Craig's phone. Mortimor tires out after flying just a fraction of the way up. Mortimor may be a bird, but he's also a very small and domesticated animal that probably doesn't fly to great heights often.
  • Take That!:
    • In "The Kid from 3030", one of the atrocities parents caused in the future is getting rid of net neutrality.
    • In "Kelsey the Elder", Barry annoying Craig and JP by bringing up old Cartoon Network shows (and shows that reran there) can be a jab at older fans who only bring up "black and white" cartoons and push it onto younger fans.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Commercials advertising new episodes in March of 2022 instantly revealed that Maya would be returning to the Creek after running away at the end of the Capture the Flag special.
  • Unconventional Food Usage: When fighting Maya, the king of the other side of the creek's best-friend-cum-royal-guard, JP throws his sandwich (which he had been brandishing like a weapon all episode). Initially subverted when Maya eats said sandwich, but doubly so when JP reveals the sandwich was in his underwear, making the whole thing a chemical/psychological warfare ploy.
  • Vocal Evolution: Philip Solomon was 14 when he began voicing nine-year-old Craig Williams. Fast-forward a few years, and Solomon is an adult, while Craig has only aged a year. Consequently, Craig's voice sounds deeper and much more affected.
  • Whole Plot Reference: "The Evolution Of Craig" is one to Pokémon, as it features Craig trying to evolve his frog, much like one would evolve a Pokemon.
  • 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.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Craig almost did this to a girl on the other side of the creek after overhearing a bad comment she made about his map to the Honeysuckle Rangers. JP, however, stops him from beating her up due to not wanting their cover to be blown since they are on a mission to get the map back from the Honeysuckle Rangers undetected.

Just like I described it.
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David & Barry to Mark

After Elder Mark ends his friendship with Kenneth just because he doesn't have anime figurines or their friendship necklace anymore, Elder David calls him out on his toxic behavior before leaving. Elder Barry follows suit.

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