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Western Animation / Freaky Stories

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Freaky Stories is a Canadian Animated Anthology series created by Decode Entertainment (now part of WildBrain) and Funbag Animation. The show is hosted by two animatronic puppets, a cockroach named Larry de Bug (voice of James Rankin), and his gooey sidekick, Maurice the maggot (voice of Dan Redican), the two of whom hang out at Ted's Diner - a 1940s-style Greasy Spoon staffed by a waitress named Rosie who is heard but never seen (voice of Jayne Eastwood).

Officially described as "a Twilight Zone for kids", the series centers around Urban Legends, specifically the kinds that are told as scary campfire or bedtime stories. Every episode would start Larry telling the audience, "This is a true story, and it happened to a friend of a friend of mine," and also end with Larry saying, "Just because they never happened doesn't mean they ain't true." But what made the series truly stand out however was that as an anthology series, the animation style and musical scoring of each half-hour episode varied between each of the stories being told. Furthermore, different narrators were brought on board with every story, with a wide variety of Canadian actors and voice artists appearing in the series to tell Larry and Maurice's myths and legends.

As the brainchild of Steve Schnier, the pilot to Freaky Stories debuted in English-speaking Canada as part of YTV's "Dark Night 3" Halloween block on October 28, 1995. Due to the positive reception it received, the full series was greenlit shortly afterwards and premiered as a one-hour special as part of "Dark Night 5" on October 24, 1997. The show proceeded to run for 35 episodes over 3 seasons (with each episode featuring 4 shorts for a total of 140 stories), with the final episode being shown on October 1, 2000. Outside of Canada, the show aired on Fox Family in the United States.

Unmarked spoilers ahead.

This is a true trope. It happened to a friend of a friend of mine:

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  • Acid Reflux Nightmare: The plot of "Sweet Dreams." It's brought about by a boy named Jordon eating macaroni and cheese, a chili burger loaded with onions, a strawberry float, and week old sweet and sour kimchi.
  • Age Without Youth: One story was about a cruel and wealthy businessman who wanted to live forever out of fear that his estate would be inherited by someone who'd squander it all. Not only did his immortality cost him his wealth (he hoped to build another fortune - never happened), but he forgot about this trope.
  • Alien Episode: There were several of these, most of them involving the Rigelians, a cycloptic race with big brains first introduced in "Fifi to Go."
  • Amnesia Episode: An amnesiac diver is found in a burnt out forest in "Deep Forest Diver." Maurice, and later Larry, also get amnesia in one live-action segment.
  • Art Shift: The show did not have a set animation style; instead, the stories cycled through a couple of different styles, some more cartoony than others depending on the story.
  • Babysitting Episode: "The Resurrection of Fluffy", "First Anniversary", and "The Babysitter."
  • Beware Of Hitch Hiking Ghosts: One episode (which was set 20 Minutes into the Future, complete with hover cars) had the driver discover that the teenaged hitchhiker was really a (non-evil) old hag when she returns his borrowed jacket to him.
  • Bowdlerise: Some of the shorts inspired by horror urban legends tone down the violence and have the main characters survive. Other shorts omit or tone down the adult themes from the original legends.
  • Buried Alive: One episode involved a man who was deathly afraid of being buried alive, a fact that his wife learned when he had a panic attack caused by the rice being thrown at their wedding. She promises him that if he died, she'd install a hot line phone that linked directly to the house, where she would wait for a year so that he can call her to get him out if he's still alive. The rest of the plot involves her actually going through with this promise after her husband dies suddenly. Her friends finally convince her to go out for the evening on the 365th day. Just after she leaves, the phone rings. The worst part is that the person who convinced her was the husband's sister, who caused his fear in the first place when they were kids.
  • The Calls Are Coming from Inside the House: A story involves a babysitter repeatedly getting mysterious calls from a voice that asks "Have you checked the children?" that she eventually traces and then freaks out to find are coming from a second line in the house. While the narration never confirms it, the visuals strongly imply that it is just the kids playing a prank.
  • Christmas Episode: "Mooching Roommate" takes place in the aftermath of Christmas while "The Lodger" has Santa Claus get sleigh-jacked by Jack the Ripper.
  • Circus Episode: A bully gets terrorized by a circus gorilla in "At the Circus."
  • Comically Inappropriate Funeral Urn: This was the twist in one episode. A family in a Ruritania village monthly received a package from a successful relative in the United States. One month they received a jar with some powder, but a goat ate the letter it came with. They guessed it was some kind of spice and cooked with it all the time. They ran out of the powder, but next month they received a new package which was an urn where said relative wanted his ashes put in... Ashes which were contained on the jar.
  • Cryptid Episode: A student hires two tour guides to help her search for the Loch Ness Monster in "Loch Ness Incident." One of the Larry and Maurice segments also involved Nessie, while another was about Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti.
  • Dead Pet Sketch: An airport crew went through a lot to find a replacement for a dog believed to have died during pre-flight loading, unaware that it was already dead.
  • Diet Episode: A nasty beauty queen starts taking black market diet pills in "Diet Pill." The pills turn out to actually be sponges, so when she drinks water...
  • Dream Episode: "Sweet Dreams" is about a boy's Acid Reflux Nightmare.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Every episode of Season One has a Title In and a Central Theme (like food, crime, fashion, animals, vehicles, etc.). The Larry and Maurice segments were also longer and more elaborate, and featured human characters like Rosie the Waitress (who was dropped after Season One).
  • Episode on a Plane: The pilots get locked out of the cockpit in "Locked Out at 20,000" and have to rely on an arrested lockpick and a nerdy boy's braces to get through the door and save everyone before the airplane crashes into a mountain range.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The protagonist of one story is only referred to as "Tuesday At Two", because the narrator is a hair stylist and he knows the protagonist because she comes in for an appointment every Tuesday, at 2.
  • Eyeless Face: Maurice.
  • Familial Cannibalism Surprise: One story involved a man who came to America to find his fortune, and upon doing so, would dote gifts to his relatives back in their native country village. Eventually, a jar with what was assumed to be a brown spice came, along with a letter that was, unfortunately, eaten by a stray goat before anyone could read it. The family and even the neighbors enjoyed the spice, until another package, containing an urn, explained that said relative died and wanted his remains to rest back in the family home. Needless to say, the village was both horrified and disgusted that they accidentally ate the remains of said beloved man.
  • Fishing Episode: A little girl somehow keeps outdoing her father when it comes to fishing in "Fishing Hole."
  • For Want of a Nail: "The Bookkeeper" involves a guy attempting to get a job as one, except he couldn't read or write, instead leading to a string of events where his decisions result in him earning more amounts of money than the last, until he ends up a wealthy tycoon owning all sorts of businesses. When discussing in an interview how he never learned to read or write, he concludes that if he had, he would have just ended up a bookkeeper in the first place.
  • Gasshole:
    • Maurice the Maggot was constantly farting. At one point he gets the "Maggot Flu", which is like the normal flu, except you also fart whenever you sneeze. That said, Larry the Cockroach was able to beat him at a fart-off.
    • One story revolves around a nerdy girl who scores herself a date, but is so busy arranging everything perfectly via her computer that she has nothing to eat but some nasty old chili left in the back of the fridge. Needless to say, the episode ends with her letting out a monstrously foul fart during a brief moment that her date was outside of the car... and discovering, too late, that he had brought along his parents to meet her, and that they were in the back of the car when she let it out.
    • Another story revolves around a polite young boy whose parents want him to be on his best behavior when visiting his great aunt so that they can inherit her fortune. The biggest problem comes when he has to keep eating baked beans, which were his least favorite food, with his great aunt constantly giving him more no matter how much he finishes or hides them. This ultimately causes him to let out a huge fart that he could no longer contain, but his great aunt was overjoyed because her late husband would fart as his way of thanking her for the food, and she took it as the biggest compliment that she had ever gotten. Giving him the entire fortune as his reward.
    • Yet another story had a boy who ate nothing but beans, with his flatulence being so bad that his family had to resort to wearing gas masks around him at all times.
  • Genre Mashup: The stories featuring Joe the Traveling Salesman are a mix of sci-fi, and noir drama.
  • Grocery Store Episode: A grocery store worker has to lug an old lady's massive grocery order home in "Mixed Nuts" while a dimwit gets conned by another old lady shopper in "Mama Mia."
  • Gross-Out Show: Some of the stories revolve around disgusting revelations, particularly of the I Ate WHAT?! variety. One comparatively tame example involves a delivery boy who eats all of the mixed nuts at an old woman's home and, when he apologizes, she waves it off, explaining that with her bad teeth all she can do is suck the chocolate off of them.
  • Harassing Phone Call: One story involves a babysitter constantly being called and asked "Have you checked the children?". She loses it when she finds out that the calls are coming from a second line in the house, but it's strongly implied that it was the children making the calls.
  • Hook Hand: The classic urban legend "The Hook" was done as a Musical Episode, and was also brought up in a few other stories like "Last Cab Fare", "Ouija Board", and "Wax Museum."
  • Horrible Camping Trip: A girl gets bitten by a possible vampire bat while on a school camping trip in "Bat Girl" while Boy Scouts encounter a possible Nuclear Mutant in "Puddle and the Glow Monster" and suspected Wicked Witches in "The Meal."
  • I Ate WHAT?!: Almost Once an Episode. Examples include a cheapskate siphoning from the wrong tank of an RV, a couple finding a corpse in their wine barrel, and an escaped convict blindly looting the contents of a fridge, which turned out to be storing things like medical waste. One story had a man visiting an elderly woman's house, and eating a jar of mixed nuts when she left the room; after he apologized, she responded with:
    "That's alright, with teeth like mine, all I can do is suck the chocolate off of them."
  • Immortality Seeker: A wealthy old man spends his entire fortune in the search for immortality He got it, but forgot to specify that he also wanted to stop aging.
  • Inflating Body Gag: One of the stories is about a pageant contestant who, in a desperate attempt to stay thin, takes black market diet pills. However, the pills come with a warning label saying not to drink anything with them. After going days or possibly even weeks without drinking a drop, she is obviously extremely thirsty. A fit of nervous hiccups forces her to take a small sip of water to try and remedy them, but since she's so thirsty, tasting that one sip makes her snap and start drinking all of the water that she can get her hands on. It's at that point that she finds out why the pill bottle told her not to drink anything: the pills are actually tiny sponges, which absorb all of the water that she drank and expand inside of her, making her swell up. Even her arms and legs swell up for some reason.
  • Knows a Guy Who Knows a Guy: Every episode started with "This is a true story. It happened to a friend of a friend of mine". (Except for the Musical Episode where, for reasons of rhyme and scansion, it happened "to a friend of a friend of a friend".) Occasionally the relationship between the narrator and the subject is a bit more direct (a barber telling a story about one of their customers, or a teacher telling a story about one of their students), but the stories will still start this way before the narrator clarifies.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Occasionally happens either to the subject of a story or someone else in the story.
  • Lemony Narrator: Some narrators are more snarky than others. Usually, the adult narrators are more prone to this trope (especially if they've interacted with the story's protagonist), while child or teenage narrators tend to speak without sarcasm.
  • Lonely Funeral: One episode featured a wealthy man who wasn't on speaking terms with any friend or relative and made a will leaving his fortune to anyone who bothered to attend the funeral. The only person to do it was an old woman who didn't even know him. She simply needed a bathroom and crashing the funeral was the only option.
  • Messy Maggots:
    • One of the hosts of the show is Maurice the maggot. He's constantly dripping slime and is ridiculously gassy.
    • One episode features a new girl taking a shine to the biggest loser in the school, happily trading her candy bars for his disgusting lunches. Eventually, he starts giving her random scraps of garbage instead, which she still accepts for the candy bars. In reality, she has been harvesting the trash to use as a breeding ground for maggots, the main ingredient for her experimental candy bars. The epilogue shows that his way of getting even after they married was to do all the cooking himself, secretly using things like cat food.
  • Missing Floor: One story has an obsessive man trying to figure out the secret of a building's 13th floor. When he finally gets to it, he finds out that the door to the 13th floor locks from the inside, trapping him with everyone else who had discovered it.
  • Musical Episode: Has quite a few, such as "The Hook", "Pirates", and "The Getaway".

  • Never Trust a Hair Tonic: One story involves a boy inventing a hair tonic that, while capable of growing hair on any surface, doesn't seem to work on him. After dousing himself with it in a panic, he realize all too late that it takes longer for the tonic to grow hair on a human, and it turns him into a wolfman.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: In three seasons (longer than the lifespan of virtually all flies), Maurice the Maggot never pupates.
  • Now Do It Again, Backwards: A kid fond of making silly faces catches a trick wind which causes his face to be stuck like that. The only cure is to dangle him from a helicopter and fly it backwards hoping to catch the same wind in reverse.
  • Once an Episode: "This is a true story. It happened to a friend of a friend of mine."
  • On One Condition: See Lonely Funeral above.
  • Organ Theft: Although they moved it into the future to slightly reduce the Squick factor. Basically, the victim's heads are attached to machines that keep them alive.
  • Pest Episode:
    • "Murray and the Rats" is about a cheapskate landlord whose building is infested with rats. One of the tenants is a salesman who discovers that the crappy perfume that he is supposed to sell makes an excellent rat repellent, and after being brushed off by the landlord, he sells all of the perfume directly to his neighbors. The perfume ends up driving the rats into the landlord's own apartment, the one place in the building that was not fumigated, and they proceed to eat all of his possessions, including his money.
    • "Mouse in the House" has a construction worker try to get rid of a mouse for an old woman. He destroys her house in the process, and builds her an elaborate new one, free of charge, to make it up to her. As soon as the new house is finished, the woman sells it for an exorbitant price as it is revealed that she and the mouse were in cahoots.
  • Potty Emergency: This is what causes the woman attending the Lonely Funeral to be there at all.
  • Potty Failure: One story had a small kid in Boy Scouts who would wet himself from nearly anything, including making him laugh too hard, scaring him, or hurting his feelings. Which is why his fellow scouts nicknamed him "Puddle".
  • Prison Episode: There were three—"Prison Break", "Court in the Act", and "So Long Sing Sing"—all of them involving botched escapes.
  • Rules of the Road: One of the episodes involves an incredibly picky police officer who expects everyone to follow traffic laws EXACTLY. Naturally, once he acquires a Speed Gun, he begins pulling people over for even going 1 Km/h faster/slower than the posted speed limit.
  • Stereo Fibbing: A pair of troublemaking students oversleep and miss their final exam. They make up an excuse about getting a flat tire, so the teacher allows them to take a make-up exam that involves them in separate rooms with only one question to answer: "Which tire was flat?"
  • Sewer Gator: An episode is about a young boy whose parents flush his pet baby alligator down the toilet. As an adult, he encounters the now-grown alligator while he is working in the sewers.
  • The Voice: Rosie the waitress, though what might have been an animated version of her appeared in "Free Gas."
  • Spared By Adaptation: Tends to happen in the case of adaptations of horror urban legends, where the main characters usually die, while here they survive.
  • Speaking Simlish: Rare for an animated cartoon, often when characters are talking to each other, they aren't actually speaking English, just muttering to each other in gibberish. It's only when the narrator is quoting them directly that they actually speak coherently.
  • Treasure Hunt Episode: "Pirates" (a musical tale in which backstabbing pirates find a map to buried treasure) and "Mouse Trap" (a tomb robber finds a lost tomb full of innumerable golden statues of people, which she joins when the tomb's guardian turns her into gold).
  • Twin Desynch: One story ends with bitter rival twin sisters eventually patching things up and dying their hair different colors.
  • Twin Switch: One story involves twin brothers who use this to live as a single person, combining their completely different interests and talents to come off as the perfect person. On said "perfect person's" wedding day, the two of them were calmly talking to each other until they remembered that at least one of them should show up. When they do, they see their bride marrying their long-lost brother. They were triplets after all.
    • The story that ends with Twin Desynch above was the result of the sisters trying to win the affections of the same guy, who has to put up with their attempts to sabotage the other through this trope. He decides to go with them both to the school dance, but it's ultimately revealed that he and his own twin had also pulled this off to make it look like a disaster for them.
  • Urban Legends: Forms the entire premise of the show to the point where several shorts are straight up retellings of classic urban legends.
  • Vampire Episode: "The Vampire" (a boy suspects that his neighbor is a vampire) and "Bat Girl" (a girl who was bit by a bat starts to believe that she is turning into a vampire).
  • Vandalism Backfire: One story featured an overly jealous man whose wife was constantly receiving a male visitor who even once took her for a car ride. The husband one day covered the car with concrete. The visitor was a car salesman and the woman had just bought the car for her husband's birthday.
  • Weight Loss Horror: A woman buys a new mysterious diet pill in preparation for a beauty contest, on the condition that she must not drink water for the duration of the diet. The diet pills were actually several tiny sponges, and when she breaks and drinks gallons of water, they cause her to bloat uncontrollably.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Pretty much every featured character is this, with Joe the Travelling Salesman probably being the biggest example, as he got the most shorts out of any character, at three ("The Suspect", "The Vanishing", and "Femme Fatale").