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Western Animation / For Better or for Worse

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The newspaper comic strip For Better or for Worse (1979–2008; still existing in reprint form) by Canadian cartoonist Lynn Johnston was rather popular from the start, with its ongoing, real-time portrayal of family life as experienced by the Patterson family of Milborough, Ontario. In the 1980s and 1990s, animated adaptations of comic strips were commonplace. Naturally, that extended to FBORFW.

There are three "tiers" of FBORFW animations. The first was a one-off called The Bestest Present, aired on HBO on December 19, 1985. It tells an original Christmas story centered on the Pattersons. Lynn's own children, Aaron and Katie, provided the voices of Michael and Elizabeth, and Rod Johnston made a cameo appearance, providing the voice of a mailman.

Beginning in 1992, another Ottawa-based studio, Lacewood Productions, produced six more specials, also for CTV. In the United States, these were seen on the Disney Channel. According to Lynn Johnston, the set designs (for instance, for the Pattersons' house) required by these and subsequent TV programs led her to develop a much more sophisticated background style in the comic strips.


The six specials produced by Lacewood were:

  1. The Last Camping Trip (July 1992)
  2. The Christmas Angel (December 1992)
  3. The Good-for-Nothing (Halloween) (November 1992)
  4. A Valentine from the Heart (March 1993)
  5. The Babe Magnet (a.k.a. The Sweet Deal) (September 1993)
  6. A Storm in April (June 1997)

In 2000, Ottawa's Funbag Animation produced a new animated series for cable TV network Teletoon, which began airing on November 5, 2000, and ran until December 16, 2001. Featuring introductions by Lynn Johnston herself, the show looked at three related storylines from three different eras of the strip: the mid-1980s, the early 1990s, and the late 1990s.

The series consisted of two seasons with eight episodes each, with each episode centered around a ‘theme’.

This page contains examples from all three types.


These works contain examples of:

  • Adaptation Amalgamation: As Brian Enjo is cut out of the Teletoon shorts, Lawrence assumes his personality traits.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The Teletoon segment "A New Year" is this for New Year’s Eve 1997 (when Mike announced that he loved Deanna). In the strip, we never saw what the Pattersons were doing at home that New Year’s Eve, nor Tracey showing Deanna around her house.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: The Patterclan as a whole.
  • Adapted Out: Mike’s second girlfriend, Rhetta. Also applies to his friend Brian, although Brian’s sister Dawn does appear.
    • Surprisingly averted with April’s two friends, Becky and Duncan. They appear in one episode each.
    • Also averted with the Pattersons’ neighbors. Connie appears in five of the Teletoon segments, and Anne and Steve Nichols appear once.
    • Actually,Brian does make a brief appearance,but its briefness justifies his remaining under this entry.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Michael in the Teletoon segment "Jingle Jingle, Mrs. Dingle".
  • Ascended Extra: Minor strip character Allyson Creemore in the Lacewood specials. Michael’s girlfriend Martha also counts as this. A third example is Gordon’s wife, Tracey, who actually gets a bit of dialogue in her three appearances in the Teletoon shorts.
  • Babies Ever After: Although the Teletoon timeline doesn’t extend as far as showing Mike and Deanna’s children, Gordon and Tracey’s son Paul puts in an appearance - twice!
  • Call-Back: Although never directly seen, the death of Farley the dog is mentioned by Michael in the episode "Farley’s Day".
  • Cool Big Sis: Elizabeth Patterson is pretty much this in both the Lacewood and Teletoon cartoons.
  • The Cutie: April, in both the Lacewood specials and the Teletoon segments. Also Liz, to a lesser extent.
  • Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen: In the Teletoon show's episode segment 'A Tent's Situation', Michael, Gordon, and Lawrence go the campground Elly has taken Elizabeth and her friends to prank them. While waiting for the girls to return to their camp site after setting up parts of the prank, they head to the park lake for a swim, skinnydipping. Unfortunately for the guys, Michael leaves his initialed knife at the camp, alerting the girls to their presence. The girls steal their clothes from the beach and place them on a clothes line back at the camp. As the guys retrieve their clothes, the girls jump out with flashlights and suprise them, leading to the guys, covering themselves with their clothes, running off screaming with their bare butts facing the girls.
  • In-Series Nickname: Lizardbreath, for Liz.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Teletoon!Martha is implied to be this.
  • Meganekko: Elizabeth in the Lacewood specials and the "Growing Years" segments of the Teletoon shorts.
  • Noodle Incident: Farley’s death, the car accident after which Michael and Deanna reconnected, how Mike and Martha met, basically almost anything that actually received a storyline in the strip.
    • Averted with April’s birth,which received its own special.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Michael and Elizabeth, just as in the strip.
  • Twinkle Smile: April has one.
  • Vague Age: In the Teletoon segments, especially the Later Years.

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