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Western Animation / Elinor Wonders Why

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Left to right: Ari, Olive and Elinor.

Elinor Wonders Why is an animated preschool-children's show co-created by Jorge Cham (creator of webcomic series, PHD) airing on PBS Kids. It is about a young rabbit-girl named Elinor who has a lot of questions about the world around her. It has been picked up for 37 episodes, as well as a special, and began airing on Labor Day 2020. However, PBSKids also advance-released the premiere episode of the series, "Ms. Mole's Glasses / Elinor Stops the Squish" to YouTube, as well as to its online video / app service in July 2020. It has also released a number of other episodes of the series freely to YouTube since the show's premiere.

The series is presented in widescreen HD and is animated by Pipeline Studios and produced by Shoe Ink.


Elinor Wonders Why contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Animal Stereotypes: Played straight in many cases, averted in others. For example, Mr. Cat does indeed hate getting wet, but Elinor (her dad as well) is an only child (meaning her parents have not "multiplied like rabbits").
  • Appropriate Animal Attire: Zig-zagged and Discussed.
    • "The Science of Staying Warm" focuses on the fact that some characters (especially the ones that have fur) would simply wear winter-appropriate accessory alongside their normal clothing during winter, whereas non-furred ones, like Olive, have to wear a full set of winter clothing.
    • Despite being a bat, Ari apparently has no problems wearing clothes with normal sleeves (it is possible, however, that they are modified to fit his wings).
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Elinor and her friends are all normally barefoot. Their teacher Ms. Mole, however, wears purple shoes.
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  • Big Eater: Ari is regularly snacking on something. In "Ms. Mole's Glasses," when Ms. Mole calls him out for reaching for food without waiting for the others to sit down first, Elinor and Olive wonder just what sense she used to know that he was doing it, given that she was looking in the other direction at the time. She points out that it's a matter of simple deduction that Ari is always hungry.
  • Black Bead Eyes: Everyone has this eye style.
  • Catchphrase:
    • After Elinor, Olive and Ari have explored something a bit, Elinor likes to declare "We need more observations!"
    • After learning something cool, Elinor comments "That is so interesting!"
  • Character Action Title: Elinor Wonders Why certain things happen in nature and the world around her.
  • Childish Pillow Fight: In "The House That Ants Built," Elinor, Olive and Ari all struggle over a bunch of pillows that they each want to try to build a castle. Ari tells them they shouldn't fight over pillows, then ends up getting buried in a bunch of them. Then, instead of fighting over the pillows, they have a pillow fight with them.
  • Chromatic Arrangement: The main trio has a two chromatic arrangements: Elinor with a red dress with magenta lines, Ari with green shirt and yellow shorts and Olive with blue skirt and cyan shirt.
  • Constantly Curious: If anyone didn't figure it out from the title, Elinor is very curious about the world around her and wants to learn as much about it as possible.
  • Cute Little Fangs: Elinor's friend Ari is a bat-person and therefore sports these.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune and Title Theme Tune: Elinor herself sings every part except for the title, which is sung several times throughout by a group of kids.
  • Disembodied Eyebrows: Certain characters, such as the teacher Ms. Mole, have these when shown in profile.
  • Edutainment Show: Airing on PBSKids, the show has stated educational goals of encouraging children's curiosity, helping them learn more about community and the exploration of nature.
  • Exhausted Eye Bags: Elinor's father has these in "Bird Song" after being woken up early by a bird loudly singing outside the window.
  • Expressive Ears:
    • In "Colorful and Tasty," Ari's ears droop when Elinor tells him that he can't have a cupcake because they're supposed to be selling them to their friends.
    • Discussed in "No Need to Shout," upon hearing that Elinor has lost her voice from practicing a song too much, Mr Dog's ears droop. Olive points it out, asking if he's sad for Elinor. He says that his ears do show how he's feeling and that he doesn't feel sad, but he does understand how he feels because dogs are very empathetic. Olive says that everyone knows how he's feeling because they see his tail and his ears.
  • Eyes Always Shut:
    • Or squinted, it's hard to tell, but Ms. Mole always has her eyes closed, even with her glasses.
    • Koa's eyes are usually shut due to his excessive fur. Sometimes he opens them. For some reason, in "The Seed of An Idea", his eyes are open the whole time like everyone else.
  • Everyone Laughs Ending: "Ms. Mole's Glasses" ends with everyone laughing over Ms. Mole's comment about not needing use her senses to know that Ari is always hungry.
  • Furry Female Mane: Elinor herself and a few female characters have this.
  • Furry Reminder: Olive trumpets with her trunk, to show that she's an elephant.
  • Hates Baths: Downplayed in "Bath Time." Ari doesn't seem to actively hate baths, but he does consider them a waste of his time that can be better spent on playtime. After his parents allow him to go several days without bathing, apparently believing in Tough Love, he gets very muddy and itchy. While there's no particular indication of him coming to believe that Baths Are Fun, he does realize that they are at least necessary.
  • Identical Twin ID Tag: In "One of These Goats," there is a substitute teacher, Mr. Hamster, teaching Elinor's class. He explains to Elinor and her friends how he can quickly remember the students that he meets by identifying what makes them different. It seems, however, that he may at first have trouble telling apart the goat twins Mary and Lizzie, who are identical. Mary usually wears a green dress and Lizzie a blue dress, but today they're both wearing blue dresses. Elinor, Olive and Ari, however, make careful observations of the two during playtime and discover several other subtle differences between the two, such as the slightly differing lengths of their horns and their differently-patterned hair accessories.
  • Limited Wardrobe: The characters all have standard clothing that they normally wear. Elinor normally wears a red dress with a purple stripe around the waist and purple sleeves. Ari wears a green t-shirt and yellow shorts. Olive wears a dark-blue hair bow, a light blue skirt, a t-shirt with a dark-blue heart and dark-blue fringe, and light blue under-shorts. Ms. Mole wears a skirt and vest in varying shades of purple and dark purple shoes.
  • Lost Voice Plot: The episode "No Need to Shout" revolves around Elinor's lost voice.
  • Nice Guy: Elinor is a very sweet, helpful, and kind bunny rabbit. Her friends are all good-hearted kids as well.
  • Off-Model: "The Seed of An Idea" has very strange animations. Elinor can be seen smiling wider than she usually does. When she grins, her mouth shows full teeth instead of mostly lineless. Elinor also has pink paw pads on her feet, which she usually doesn't. Olive's skirt uses the pre-release design shown in posters (it has an additional cyan stripe). Ari's shirt is referred to as a "sweater". His mouth is also sometimes filled in completely white when he's talking. Koa's eyes are styled like the rest of the cast, being simple dots instead of being closed like his normal design. Camilla has two humps unlike her final design which only has one and her mouth seems to be wider. Ms. Mole's voice is slightly different in some scenes.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: In "Burrowing Owl Girl," Bibi calls Elinor's father her favorite son upon his, Ranger Rabbit and Elinor's arrival. He points out he's her only son.
  • Owls Ask "Who?": "Owl Girl" has Elinor waking up to someone keep saying "who" from outside. She and her mom would later find out that it was an owl who has been making that sound, the same owl Elinor has seen sleeping at day, and so she learns of its nocturnal nature.
  • Preschool Show: The characters are very young children and the stated target audience is children of ages 3-5.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: In the theme song:
    El! In! Or! Wonders why!
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: PBS has made a series of shorts based on the show called "That's So Interesting", where Elinor and her friends, still in cartoon form, interact with Jorge Cham in real life and talk about science.
  • Species Surname: This goes for the entire cast. Elinor and her friends' teacher is named Ms. Mole. Elinor's last name is Rabbit, since her mom is Ranger Rabbit.
  • Stock Animal Diet:
    • In "No Need to Shout," Elinor, her father and mother all each have a single large carrot on their plates at dinner-time. To drive home the point further, before going to bed, Elinor puts on a pink shirt with a picture of a carrot and purple pants with a carrot pattern.
    • In "Backyard Soup," Elinor and her family make a soup from several of the vegetables in their backyard, including carrots. When they visit her grandparents in Desert Town, they find that they can't make the soup using the same vegetables because they don't grow in the desert. Despite this, the train station where Elinor and her family meet their grandparents is next to what appears to be a cafe with an emblem of three carrots and a giant carrot mounted on two pitchforks on the roof.
    • In "Colorful and Tasty," Elinor and her friends Olive and Ari, with the help of Elinor's father, bake carrot cupcakes to sell at the local park.
    • In "Pirate Treasure," Elinor's pirate cap has two crossed carrots in place of the Jolly Roger.
  • Talking in Your Sleep:
    • Elinor's father tweets in his sleep in "Bird Song" after falling asleep at the table during breakfast because he was woken up early by a bird singing outside the window.
    • In "Light the Way," Elinor's father falls asleep after eating marshmallows. After being disturbed by Olive trumpeting after accidentally stepping on a stick, he murmurs "Uh, more marshmallows? Why yes, please." Later in the episode, after being disturbed again, he says "That's the biggest marshmallow I've ever seen."
  • Teachers out of School:
    • In the premiere episode, "Ms. Mole's Glasses," Ari is astonished when the class's teacher, Ms. Mole, says that she's going shopping, and later admits he thought teachers lived inside the school. Elinor thinks this is goofy, asking where Ms. Mole would sleep if she lived inside the school.
      Ari: You mean teachers sleep, too?! Mind blowing!
    • In the story that immediately follows the above, "Elinor Stops the Squish," when told that it's Ms. Mole's birthday tomorrow, Ari expresses surprise that teachers have birthdays.
  • Tuckerization: Jorge Cham stated that Elinor was inspired by his own daughter, whose name is also Elinor.
  • Tuft of Head Fur: Ari has a spiky tuft as hair.
  • Two Girls and a Guy: Elinor and Olive are girls, while Ari is a boy.
  • White Bunny: Elinor is one. By extension, her parents and other extended family members as well.
  • World of Funny Animals: All of the characters are animal-people of some sort. Elinor is a rabbit-person, while her best friends Ari and Olive are a bat-person and elephant-person respectively. Their teacher is a mole-person.


Video Example(s):


Elinor Wonders Why - Shopping

Elinor's friend Ari is surprised when their teacher Ms. Mole says that she's going shopping, as he thought that teachers lived at school. Elinor thinks this is goofy, because if that were the case, where would they sleep? Ari's mind is blown that teachers sleep.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / TeachersOutOfSchool

Media sources:

Main / TeachersOutOfSchool