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Western Animation / Dink, the Little Dinosaur

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Clockwise from the left: Amber, Dink, Scat, Crusty, Shyler and Flapper.

One of the 1980s cartoon series that no one seems to remember, Dink the Little Dinosaur is the story of a young Apatosaurus named Dink and his friends Amber (a Corythosaurus), Scat (a Compsognathus... maybe), Shyler (an Edaphosaurus), and Flapper (a Pteranodon), who live in the peaceful Mesozoic paradise of Green Meadow and learn important life lessons from an old turtle — with hair — named Crusty. The series depicts the characters' childhood shenanigans and their scuffles with the evil carnivore Tyrannor.

Hey, wait a minute...!!


This series contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Anndi McAfee who plays Amber would end up playing another animated child dinosaur character as Cera in The Land Before Time sequels. Ironically the character of Cera is complete contrast because she is a more tomboyish and grumpy ceratopsian compared to Amber who is a more feminine and fun-loving hadrosaurid.
  • Androcles' Lion:
    • In “Dry River” Dink and his friends pull a thorn out of the foot of an Earthshaker (Supersaurus) in return he helps them clear rocks that are blocking the river that are so big only a creature of his size could move them.
    • This gets subverted with Tyrannor (and lampshaded by Dink at the end of the episode) in “Land of No Return”, Dink and his friends save Tyrannor from drowning in a swamp, however Tyrannor would still pursue them in later episodes, either not knowing or caring that they saved his life.
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  • Adults Are Useless: Considering that the show doesn’t say that Dink and friends are separated from their families and are under near constant attack from predators, where exactly are their parents?
  • Big Eater: Scat, despite his size, is near-constantly hungry and is always either eating or looking for food.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Shockingly averted in the fourth episode of the series, entitled White Beauty. A dinosaur that has been outcast from society gets into a fight with Tyrannor, and Amber runs off to get help. When the gang comes back to the scene of the battle, there's a trail of blood that they follow to where the dinosaur is hiding out.
  • Carnivore Confusion:
    • Interestingly, the main group features two carnivores: Flapper and Scat. Then again, Pteranodon are more piscivorous, and Scat is at the very least omnivorous as he is shown chasing some "honey fruit" in the first episode.
    • There's also an episode entitled "The Gentle Hunter", which could be renamed "Carnivore Confusion: the Dramatization" which seems to suggest that most carnivores are capable of talking but choose not to.
    • "Raiders of the Lost Nest" featured a trio of "egg-hunters" which are portrayed as resembling Acanthopholis, a herbivorous dinosaur, or Desmatosuchus, a relative of crocodiles that was also herbivorous.
  • Clear My Name: "Mystery of the Broken Claw" had Amber being accused of ruining Green Meadow's only watering hole with a rockslide, which was actually caused by a pack of Spinosaurus trying to lure the other dinosaurs into an ambush.
  • Cool Old Guy:
    • Crusty is very old, yet is more than happy to impart knowledge and share his life stories with the children.
    • A pair of elderly diplodocus named Tubble & Hubble, although they are a bit clumsy and forgetful they are still capable of fending off a watertooth.
  • Cool Uncle: Flapper's Uncle Longbeak.
  • Dumb Dinos: Averted, or at least zigzagged. All of the herbivores are portrayed as sapient, but with the carnivores, it varies; whilst Tyrannor is portrayed as a feral brute, the egg-hunters in "Raiders of the Lost Nest" are fully sapient and converse with the kids on several points — one of them even tricks Shyler into leading him to the nest by assuring him that he's given up on eating eggs. Until it turns out that the kids were luring the "egg-hunters" to a fake nest. In “The Gentle Hunter” it appears as though the hunters are capable of limited speech but mostly choose not to.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The whole premise of the show is Slice of Life with dinosaurs for a reason.
  • Evil Egg Eater: "Raiders of the Lost Nest" involves the kids trying to help protect an expectant mother sauropod whose nest is being stalked by a pack of egg-eaters (which resemble ankylosaurs or aetosaurs for some reason).
  • Fantastic Racism: According to Crusty, the dinosaurs have mocked and laughed at the appearance of the Landfish (Diplocaulus) for many years.
  • Fearless Fool: Flapper very rarely shows any fear. This usually leads to him getting very badly injured.
  • Hulk Speak: Scat has the most "simplistic" speech-manner of all the cast, although he tends to avoid the Third-Person Person aspect of it.
  • Imprinting:
    • "Crusty's Baby" had a baby Stegosaurus which imprinted on Crusty.
    • In a case of reverse imprinting, "Tricera-Scat" had a mother Triceratops which thought Scat was her son when he took a nap underneath an egg shell in her nest.
  • Informed Species: Scat is apparently a Compsognathus, but looks more like a lizard or really tiny crocodile. Maybe he is a Terrestrisuchus?
  • Interspecies Friendship: All the main character are different species, it also counts between the dinosaurs, Dink (Apatosaurus), Amber (Corythosaurus) and Scat (Compsognathus) and the non-dinosaurs, Flapper (Pteranodon), Crusty (Tortoise) and Shyler (Edaphosaurus).
  • Interspecies Romance: Implied between Dink and Amber, from time to time.
  • Minor Living Alone: With the exception of visiting Flapper's uncle Longbeak in one episode none of the main characters are shown to have any family or herds (although they are friends with some of the adult dinosaurs in Green Meadow) and seem to be surprisingly independent and mature for their age and appear to have formed their own Family of Choice, with Crusty being a parental figure who provides advise, knowledge and guidance that would otherwise come from their parents.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: In "Surprise", Dink gets chased by a Deinosuchus only to be rescued by a pair of dolphin-like Ichthyosaurus.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In the episode "Tar Troubles", despite Crusty's warning to leave it alone, Dink insists on trying to stop a tar flow in the valley. He and his friends inadvertently wind up setting half the valley on fire.
  • Ptero Soarer:
    • Flapper in spades; he has batlike wings, lives in a decidedly birdlike nest, is bipedal, has grasping talons and even folds his wings like a bird when he walks (something that would be impossible for a real life pterosaur of any species). At least he's toothless and has a short tail.
    • Additionally, the series often featured predatory, villainous pterosaurs referred to simply as "Scavengers" (despite the fact that they're always seen hunting the protagonists rather than actually scavenging) that look vaguely like Cearadactylus with stumpy crests like a female Pteranodon.
    • The episode "The Secret" featured "Big Wings", which are 80s-styled Quetzalcoatlus that hunt like eagles.
    • "Mystery of the Broken Claw" had a flock of Rhamphorhynchus which served as a bizarre Mesozoic stand-in for bats, namely living in a cave. A previous episode "Surprise" had a Sordes which was portrayed the same.
  • Punny Name: The often annoying Compsognathus is named "Scat" note . It's not like this is an obscure term for that either. Mind you, "Scat" is also a now-outdated slang term meaning "go away".
  • Rampage from a Nail: Dink and his friends once helped a really huge dinosaur with that problem.
  • Raptor Attack: Deinonychus ("Claw Foots") and Velociraptor appear sporadically in the series and both are featherless, as was believed at the time to be fair. The latter also walks in an outdated "kangaroo" stance like the large theropods in the show, although the former has the accurate horizontal stance. Brownie points however for being a case of pre-Jurassic Park dromaeosaurids.
  • Savage Spinosaurs: A pack of Spinosaurus are the main antagonists of "Mystery of the Broken Claw". The show aired in the 80s, so they are still depicted with allosaur-like heads instead of crocodile-like ones the real animals had.
  • Save the Villain: The kids push down a tree to save a drowning Tyrannor, after having lured him into a swamp to escape him in the first place - and book it the second he's safe.
  • Scavengers Are Scum: A weird example — among the enemies the group faced was a generic, predatory type of pterosaur referred to in-universe as "Scavengers". However, they're never shown scavenging, instead actively hunting the protagonists, sometimes persistently.
  • Shrinking Violet: Shyler.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: The main threat of "Day of the Snake''.
  • Stock Dinosaurs: Zig-zagged. All the well-known dinosaurs are present, but the show often averts this by adding lesser-known ones.
  • Stock Sound Effects: All the carnivores use the same stock tiger growls/roar sound effects.
  • Third-Person Person: Scat speaks this way all the time.
  • Toothy Bird: Averted with Flapper, his Uncle Longbeak, and the "Big Wings".
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Honey fruit for Scat.
  • Wise Old Turtle: The wizened old turtle Crusty serves as a mentor to Dink and his friends. A grandfatherly figure, he even has white sideburns that emphasize his years of experience.