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Western Animation / Dennis the Menace

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Ruff, Gina Gillotti, Jay Weldon, Dennis Mitchell, Margaret Wade and Joey McDonald

In 1986, Dennis the Menace (US) was adapted into a 65-Episode Cartoon for U.S. syndication by DiC Entertainment, later moving to Saturday Mornings on CBS.

The 1980s animated series provides examples of:

  • Acrofatic: Mr. Wilson.
  • Ad Bumpers: Each in the form of a single-panel comic strip and narrated by Dennis.
    "We'll be right back!" / "Hey, welcome back!"
    "Hey, gang, stay tuned!" / "And here we go again!"
    "We'll be back in a flash!" / (no narration for the last, followed by closing credits)
  • And a Diet Coke: Concerned over Mr. Wilson's health, his wife forces him to enter a gym. When Dennis' antics get him expelled from there, Mr. Wilson is grateful enough to give the kid a sundae. Mr. Wilson has one as well but, wanting to lose weight, gives Dennis his sundae's cherry.
  • Animal Athlete Loophole: There ain't no rule that says a dog can't play football! There is, however, a rule that PeeBee points out in the episode "Come Fly With Me", where plays cannot be made with a player's mouth, so sadly Ruff is disqualified.
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  • Animesque: Not so much the character designs, but the animation style is very Japanese. It's especially evident in the original intro sequence. The 1992 intro (commonly seen in syndication) and the 13-episode second season are much more Western in style.
  • Balloon-Bursting Bird:
    • A variation happened in one episode where Mr. Wilson parachutes from a plane, but a bird pecks at his parachute - leading to a long drop.
    • It happened again in another episode when Dennis gets accidentally caught up in a hot-air balloon race. A flock of birds burst one of the hot-air balloons.
  • Banister Slide: Dennis does this in the opening theme.
  • Canada, Eh?: However, this plays up to stereotypes.
    • The second season's animation was produced by Atkinson Film-Arts, one of the last projects they worked on before going bankrupt. Also, much of the second season cast was Canadian, including Phil Hartman's replacement, Maurice LaMarche.
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  • Canon Foreigner: Jay,note  Lars, Mr. Cavallini and Professor Mentalapse.
  • Compilation Movie: "Memory Mayhem" was this. The movie itself had wraparound segments involving Mr. Wilson getting amnesia with Dennis and friends trying to get him to recover his memory; they bring up past adventures, appearing in forms of various episodes from the series.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: In "Bicycle Mania", Dennis competes against a bully in a bike race. The bully stops to raise a drawbridge despite this only affecting Dennis who is in dead last. Averted when the bully wins anyway.
  • Diet Episode: Mrs. Wilson decides to put Mr. Wilson on a diet in one episode when he starts getting too big for his clothes despite his objections. Mr. Wilson tries multiple occasions to cheat on it until Mrs. Wilson gives up and decides to go out and buy some bigger clothes. By the end of the episode, however, their doctor informs them that they both need to lose some weight, and so the diet is back on.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The episode Trembly Assembly is notorious for this; not to mention the writing is oft criticised, and the plain Mind Screw situation.
  • Exact Words: Henry wants to watch a football game, but Dennis wants to play sports with him. Hilarity Ensues, and many of Dennis's balls keep flying into Mr. Wilson's yard. Finally, Mr. Wilson threatens Henry by saying that he would lock the next thing that came over the fence in his garage. Dennis's final mishap makes Henry himself fall into Mr. Wilson's yard. The cartoon ends with Dennis outside looking for Henry, while Henry sits contentedly inside Mr. Wilson's garage watching the football game.
  • Five-Token Band: Dennis, Joey, PeeBee, Jay and Gina. A semi-recurring character named Tommy was ironically the Sixth Ranger. Margaret sometimes fills the Sixth Ranger as well.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: Margaret often does this to "Dennis Mitchell!".note 
  • Headless Horseman: There was an episode where Dennis scared some people by pretending to be a headless horseman.
  • Invisible Streaker: Joey unexpectedly becomes this in "The Invisible Kid".
  • Kid Hero: When Dennis wasn't causing chaos for Mr. Wilson, he was often ruining the plans of everyone from human criminals to evil space aliens.
  • Lethal Chef: In one episode, Dennis and Joey try to make spaghetti for Henry and Mr. Wilson. Joey grabs a bar of soap, mistaking it for cheese, and shaves it into the dish. Upon trying it, Henry and Mr. Wilson begin hiccuping bubbles.
  • Marilyn Maneuver: In the "Wet n' Wild" segment, a blonde lady keeps her skirt in place as a draft from Dennis and Joey, riding on skateboards while carrying a raft, attempts to lift it.
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  • Not So Different: The episode "Henry the Menace" reveals that Henry Mitchell was every bit as rambunctious as a child.
  • Revival: 1993's All-New Dennis the Menace. Ran for 13 episodes.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: One episode has Joey mistaking a bar of "Saop" for cheese.
  • Second Place Is for Winners: Mr. Wilson enters a contest for a vacation. He wins first prize, but the vacation package is second prize. First prize is... a pet goose or duck.
  • Shout-Out: In one episode, Dennis hums the theme to Inspector Gadget.
  • Sliding Scale of Realistic vs. Fantastic: In contrast to the comic strip, comic books and live-action series. This series leaned to the Unusual on the scale, involving Dennis and friends meeting space aliens, travelling through time, encountering magic and visiting exotic locations. These fantastic plots though were limited to the context of that particular story and usually didn't carry over into other episodes or into the Dennis universe in general.
  • Stealth Pun: The original characters PeeBee and Jay. Think about that for a second.
  • Three Shorts: Wikipedia notes that 78 half-hour episodes were produced, with a total of 234 segments.
  • The Tonsillitis Episode: One episode had Dennis in the hospital for a "tonsil-neck-tummy".
  • Trauma Button Ending: In "The Time Bomb", Dennis and Joey have a rather harrowing adventure with a clock mistaken for a time bomb. At the end of the episode, hearing the sentence "don't you boys ever look at a clock?" distresses them so much that they flee, much to the speaker's confusion.


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