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Western Animation / Fraidy Cat

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"Every kitty has nine lives, but eight of mine went fast! Now there’s only one life left, and I want to make it last!"

Fraidy Cat is a 1975 children's cartoon that was aired on a syndication program named Uncle Croc's Block, which aired on ABC. It was produced by Filmation, and is one of their only original (original as in "not based off of an existing IP") cartoons that are known to exist. 18 episodes were commissioned for the network, but only 12 completed production.

The premise revolves around the titular Fraidy Cat, an anxiety-struck feline who has the ability to involuntarily release the ghosts of his past, who also happen to be his previous eight lives; past incarnations of himself he has already lived through from previous time periods. Every time a ghost is released, it tries to help Fraidy in a predicament, but it unknowingly hinders the troubled cat into making his situation worse than before.

While intoning all single digit numbers (or worse, homonyms or words in other languages that sound like said numbers) from "one" to "eight" summon a ghost, saying "nine" is a death wish to poor Fraidy, as it gives him Cloud Nine, who is hell-bent on electrocuting Fraidy with lightning.

During its original run on Uncle Croc's Block, it was heavily unpopular with critics, audiences, and even the producers themselves, and it, along with the rest of Croc's roster, nearly made Filmation shut down and lose money as ABC severed all ties with Filmation due to the show's bad performance. The segment, plus the rest of the UCB roster among other shows, was later re-syndicated on The Groovie Goolies and Friends in 1977.

Compare and contrast The 9th Life of Sherman Phelps, a show that shares extreme similarities with this series.

This is the one time I loved troping! Oops, I said one!:

  • A Dog Named "Dog": Dane, the Great Dane.
  • Abhorrent Admirer: "Love is a Many Feathered Thing" has Fraidy hiding from a dog in an exotic pet shop, where he's being romanced by a comically overweight cockatoo who won't stop hugging him. Fortunately for Fraidy, as soon as the dog makes its way in, the cockatoo finds a new object for her affections.
  • Art Evolution: The episodes "It's a Dog's Life" and "A Semi-Star is Born" are seen with slightly more expressive animation. Slightly.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: After getting crunched by Chuck, Fraidy's shrunken self gets turned into a towering giant after Kitty Wizard's wand malfunctions in "Cupid and the Cat"'s climax.
  • Attack Reflector: Cloud Nine's chase in "Magic Numbers" causes Fraidy to wield a conveniently placed mirror in a pile of junk. The mirror reflects the lightning and zaps Cloud Nine, because Mirrors Reflect Everything.
  • Balloon Belly: Fraidy's girth expands to cartoonish proportions after eating the contestants' food in "It's a Dog's Life".
    • In a storyboard panel for the scrapped "Fraidy Gone Fishin'" episode, Fraidy's stomach expands to show how hungry he is.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Seven of Fraidy's eight lives have costumes that apply to this trope: #2 Kitty Wizard; #3 Captain Kitt, a pirate; #4 Sir Walter Cat, a noble cat; #5 Billy the Kit, a cowboy; #6 Jasper Catdaver, an undertaker; #7 Captain Eddie Kittenbacker, a pilot; #8 Hep Cat, a cat in a zoot suit. The only one who doesn’t is #1, Elafunt, a caveman who isn’t dressed enough to count.
  • Berserk Button: Just the mere existence of Fraidy is sure to send Cloud Nine into an ongoing, homicidal rage.
  • Butt-Monkey: Take a guess as to who it is. Not only does Fraidy have to be wary of the ghosts of his past lives, but he also has to deal with being frequently chased by dogs, along with encountering other animals who always put him in life-threatening situations.
  • Cats Hate Water: In "Love is a Many Feathered Thing", Mary Tyler Too the cockatoo tries to soak Fraidy in the bird bath, but once Fraidy hears the word "bath", he flails and flies onto the top of the building, which attracts the attention of the savage dog..
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: The premise of the show. Fraidy is already nervous because he's on his final life, and it doesn't help that the ghosts of his eight previous incarnations keep appearing to him if he (even accidentally) intones their number or says a word that sounds like or rhymes with the numbers, even in another language. At least one of these ghosts, who was an undertaker in life, hopes to bring Fraidy over to the afterlife. The worst one is Cloud Nine, a psychotic storm cloud who tries to electrocute poor Fraidy.
  • Caught Up in a Robbery: Fraidy has the misfortune of turning in the Cat Burglars' money in "Feline Fortune," which leads to the trio of thieves chasing Fraidy until an encounter with Captain Kitt scares the thieves, so much so that they give up crime.
  • Character Catchphrase: Fraidy has two: "This kitten's splittin'!" when he decides it’s time to leave, and "Oops, I said [x]!" whenever he says a number and summons a previous life or Cloud Nine.
  • Chekhov's Gag: In the beginning of "Cupid and the Cat," Chuck can be seen crushing a car bound for the junkyard into a tiny, miniature version of itself. Later on, Fraidy gets crushed exactly like the car after Chuck catches Lulu flirting with Fraidy.
  • The Chew Toy: The show focuses on Fraidy always getting the short end of the stick in his troubled life. Try and find a single episode that doesn't have him suffering.
  • Contemporary Caveman: A rather downplayed example, as Fraidy's first life, a caveman named Elafunt, is only seen in the modern era when he is accidentally called forth by Fraidy.
  • Cowboy: Fraidy's fifth life, Billy the Kit, is a small, gruff, loud cowboy... er, cowcat.
  • Creepy Cemetery: An averted/downplayed example, since the only residents of the cemetery are a talking bat and crow, and the only ghosts seen roaming the cemetery are that of Fraidy's.
  • Cumulonemesis: The numbers from "one" to "eight" give Fraidy a ghost, but "nine" however summons an extremely short-tempered storm cloud in the shape of the number nine named Cloud Nine. Cloud Nine also has the ability to spit out lightning, and reform itself back into one if it itself is electrocuted.
  • Cupid's Arrow: This applies to Fraidy, Ant, and Chuck in “Cupid and the Cat”. Danny Cupid shoots his arrow at Fraidy at the beginning, and later has Fraidy falling in love with Lulu. Later, Cupid misfires and accidentally shoots a “double-whammy” at Ant and Chuck, causing them to fall in love, in which Cupid meant to strike Fraidy.
  • Depending Upon the Undependable: Despite the fact that Fraidy is desperately trying to leave a freight ship and is too cowardly to stay on, a gang of pirate birds make him gather up food for them in "Puss 'n' Boats".
  • Did Not Get the Girl: The end of "Cupid and the Cat" has Lulu rejecting Fraidy when he offers a kiss, apparently because he "shows off" (which in reality is the uncontrollable force that are his lives). That alone stings very badly, but to rub more salt in the wound, she goes back to Chuck, who is the bulky cat that Fraidy desperately fought to get Lulu.
  • Digital Destruction: This happens to be a more literal and deliberate example than others. All modern releases of Fraidy Cat are slightly sped up, with the reason being that in 1995, the card company Hallmark acquired Filmation, but only for the singular purpose of international distribution. Other than that, the company detested Filmation's work, and after the master negatives were converted from NTSC to PAL format, Hallmark disposed of the original negative masters, which explains why not just Fraidy Cat, but nearly ALL of Filmation's cartoons are not in their original formats.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: In "Love is a Many Feathered Thing", Fraidy has to not only go through the cockatoos constantly hugging him, but he also has to deal with his lives goofing things up, and a stray dog that's on his tail. In the end though, Fraidy takes a risk in letting the dog into the bird shop, in which it gets caught inside the cockatoos' cage, with the birds switching their affections over to it, and Fraidy reigns the victor.
  • Eek, a Mouse!!: Upon the sight of seeing one of Boss Mouse's cronies in "The Not-so-Nice Mice", Elafunt and Ant both get so frightened of him to the point that they disappear in a puff of smoke.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Tiny, the oversized, overall-bearing, helicopter beanie-wearing mouse.
  • Gangster Land: Mouse Town.
  • Ghost Pirate: Captain Kitt, the self proclaimed "buccaneer's buccaneer," has a tendency to steal anything of value, such as wallets, keys, and money, which is "worthless green printed parchment" to him.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: A somewhat more literal example of this trope in "It's a Dog's Life," after Fraidy wins the first prize trophy, the dog show contestants growl as they turn green with envy.
  • Identical Twin Mistake: In “A Semi-Star is Born”, Fraidy disguises himself as an exact lookalike named Boris the Cat in an effort to get food, and it unsurprisingly works. However, the real Boris visits the Animal Actors Retirement Home and all of the residents, including Kitty Wizard, mistake one for the other.
  • Impostor-Exposing Test: In “A Semi-Star is Born”, Lawrence the Lop-Sided Lion catches both Boris and Fraidy and has Cling-Clong test and see which one is real and fake. Both Boris and Fraidy are given food, and Boris, being the picky eater he is, puts his nose up to the food. Fraidy, however, gorges upon the dish, and he is literally kicked back to the city.
  • Inconsistent Coloring: A few of the characters sometimes have their body parts being painted incorrectly, most notoriously in "Meaner Than a Junkyard Cat", in which the fur surrounding Fraidy's mouth is sometimes colored white throughout the episode, whereas it's supposed to be colored brownish orange like the rest of his body.
  • Jerkass: While a majority of the characters Fraidy encounters are unpleasant at most, some of them outright harm or relentlessly bully Fraidy with little rhyme or reason. For example, nearly all of the dogs seen in the show are bent on chasing Fraidy with little to no remorse, and then you have Cloud Nine whose purpose is to electrocute Fraidy with no rhyme or reason, plus there's Fatty Catty and Long Tail who bully Fraidy into saying "nine", Chuck, and the gang of mice who threaten to kill Fraidy after he runs away from them.
  • Kafka Comedy: The show is centered around Fraidy's woes whenever his lives make things worse or when he gets tormented by his peers.
  • Limited Animation: Along with the signature moving mouths with stiff/nonexistent character animation, the animators cut costs by reusing many of the cels seen in the episodes.
    • Lulu the cat is the possibly one of, if not, the worst offender; her model’s pose changes only three times.
  • Lovable Coward: Fraidy.
  • Misplaced Retribution: In "A Scaredy Fraidy", the police horse Kojacki catches a hungry Fraidy tasting an oat-flavored lollipop, which leads to Kojacki going on a manhunt against Fraidy. The aforementioned horse somehow mistook Fraidy for a "Lollipop Burglar", who's implied to be on the loose.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Downplayed in "Cupid and the Cat", as Lulu meets Fraidy after he saves her from a dog, which eventually leads to Chuck walking in, thinking Fraidy is "messing around" with Lulu.
  • Nervous Wreck: Reasonably with the titular character. He's always having the expression of anxiety (this is better shown on the page's image above) and for how much everything always goes wrong for him.
  • Numerological Motif: Each of the eight lives of Fraidy (plus Cloud Nine) appear as numbers when they materialize and saying any of the numbers (minus zero or any number past "nine") causes the ghosts to appear and cause mischief towards poor Fraidy.
  • One-Shot Character: Every single character except for Fraidy and his lives, and Ant the dinosaur.
    • In fact, some one-shot characters get little to no dialogue all for the purpose of filler.
  • Pet Contest Episode: A hunt motivated by food leads Fraidy into a dog show in "It's a Dog's Life," and unsurprisingly, eats the contestants' food. The contestants are furious and chase the poor feline across the building, and right after paint splatters onto himself, Fraidy is mistaken as a Dalmatian by both the contestants and the judge, which in turn leads him into winning first prize.
  • Psycho Electro: Cloud Nine shows no remorse towards Fraidy, as he tends to eject strikes of electricity and always tries to zap poor Fraidy to a crisp.
  • Reaching Between the Lines: In "Feline Fortune," the lady working at the phone company informs Fraidy that his phone bill is past due. Right as Fraidy proclaims he’s broke, the lady’s arm, holding a pair of scissors, pops out of the phone, ready to cut his phone cord.
    • She makes a second appearance at the end of the episode, with Fraidy handing over his "small bills" over to her through the phone.
  • Remaster: All of the Fraidy Cat cartoons were eventually restored to pristine condition for the Frightfully Funny Volume Two DVD release in 2008.
  • Running Gag: Fraidy sometimes gets chased by dogs every now and then in an episode. In fact, one of them became a central part of the story in “Love is a Many Feathered Thing”.
  • Shout-Out: A handful of the jokes in the show are references to media that was popular during its original run.
    • “A Scaredy Fraidy” has Edgar Allen Crow, a poetic crow with a Punny Name based off of Edgar Allen Poe.
    • “Love is a Many Feathered Thing” is a reference to the movie “Love is a Many Splendored Thing”.
    • “Choo-Choo Fraidy” clearly references Looney Tunes. There's a coyote named Smiley Coyote (who has a voice similar to that of Harvey Korman), and he goes as far as saying that he "prefers roadrunners"; right as he mentions his preferences, a fat roadrunner jogs right beside him, to which he immediately gives chase, Road-Runner style.
      • Several other characters in the episode reference comedians and actors. Ruth Buzzard is to Ruth Buzzi; J. Edgar Cougar is to Colonel Sanders; and a prairie dog has a voiced modeled after a high-pitched Don Rickles.
    • In the final episode, “A Semi-Star is Born”, some of the animal actors are based off real-life animal icons (who are dated by today's standards). Boris the Cat is based off of Morris the Cat, Mister Fred is Mr. Ed, Laffy is Lassie (ironically enough Lassie had a series made by Filmation), Cling Clong is King Kong, Lawrence the Lop-Sided Lion is Clarence the Cross-Eyed Lion, and Gentle Babs is Gentle Ben.
  • Shrinking Violet: The titular character's name is a cat based pun based on this trope purely because of his sheer timidity.
  • Take That!: In "A Semi-Star is Born," a phony Pink Panther is shown being thrown out of the Animal Actors Retirement Home.
  • Talk Like a Pirate: Captain Kitt often sprinkles pirate vocabulary into his dialogue.
  • The Mafia: A gang of fedora-and-suit-wearing mice and their leader gang up on Fraidy and relentlessly trick him into releasing his past lives in "The Not-So-Nice Mice."
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: One of the few times Fraidy reigns victory in the end is seen in a storyboard panel in "Fraidy Gone Fishin'", one of the six scrapped episodes. Fraidy falls into a fish truck for unknown reasons and rightfully gloats to himself about his big score.
  • Undertaker: Jasper Catdaver, the sixth incarnation of Fraidy, is an undertaker who wishes to expedite Fraidy's passing into the Other Side. Justified, since he IS an undertaker, after all.
  • Visual Pun: Cloud Nine is a storm cloud shaped like a nine.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: A majority of the characters in most of the episodes disappear from the scene without any explanation.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Sometimes when an episode ends, Fraidy does end up getting his way in the end, but his moment of glee is often soured by either his lives or something else:
    • In "Over The Wall and Havin' a Ball," Fraidy falls onto a trash can after a bomb sends him soaring out of the animal shelter. Fraidy finds a nine-course meal, but right after Fraidy catches his tongue slipping, Cloud Nine sics itself onto Fraidy.
    • In "Feline Fortune," Fraidy gets his reward money back from the Cat Burglars, but after he vocalizes his accomplishment, it not only attracts the attention of a bunch of alley cats, but also Kitty Wizard who accidentally shrinks his money and leaves it that way.
    • In "A Semi-Star is Born," Fraidy gets kicked out of the Animal Actors Retirement Home and flies back into the city, but just when Fraidy thinks he's finally at peace, a dog pops into view and chases him.


Video Example(s):


Every Kitty Has Nine Lives...

The intro to "Fraidy Cat" has the titular feline tell the world his ode of how he got here.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / CatsHaveNineLives

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