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"You are welcomed to Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids, a series of cautionary tales for lovers of squeam!"
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Based on a children's book series of the same name by Jamie Rix, Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids is a British Nightmare Fuelled Space Whale Aesop animated series, narrated by the host Nigel Planer (best known for starring in The Young Ones). The series began in 1999 and ended in 2006 but was later revived briefly in 2010 for two seasons. Think Tales from the Crypt for CITV.

Planer stars as Uncle Grizzly, the caretaker of a rundown cinema (the Squeam Screen) which serves insects for refreshments. He screens short movies into the theatre of stories about children that are punished for their behaviour. The kids in question are usually greedy, naughty, rude, obnoxious, and selfish, and are usually taught a "grizzly" lesson by the end of the tale — often ending with them being killed, mutilated, shape-shifting or, if they're lucky, learning the error of their ways and changing for the better.

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In between these stories, Uncle Grizzly will talk to the children watching about the lessons that they'll learn from the movie he's about to broadcast, often with a pet spider called Spindleshanks, that he often enjoys pranking or abusing as the spider acts confused or acts accordingly. These segments later disappeared as the show progressed, most likely because the Art Shift from the stop-motion intros to the 2D animated movies were expensive and time-consuming to deal with.

When a new series (albeit In Name Only) returned after a three-year hiatus (retitled Grizzly Tales — Cautionary Tales for Lovers of Squeam), the introductions were relocated to the HotHell, a 3D CGI hotel that implied links to the underworld. Although Planer remained as the host, the storyteller was now Uncle Grizzly's half-brother, The Night Night Porter, and the stories were still 2D animated but in an updated art style. For some long-time viewers, this new update wasn't received well, which might have contributed to the show's abrupt end.

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Tropes

  • The Ace: Much of these characters are usually arrogant and are either the rival to the main character or the Villain Protagonist, who are never spared.
  • An Aesop: Too many to fit on this page.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Ginger in "Knock Down Ginger" was described as a large, overweight boy with Charlie Brown Baldness red hair as pale as his skin; Eliza even says he looks like a ghost. The character model in the cartoon has none of these problems, showing that he's pretty athletic with thick, curly hair.
    • In "The Giant Who Grew Too Big For His Boots", Huge Hugh was originally written with a face covered in warts, but the cartoon changes this to remove his facial warts, only keeping his tongue warts.
    • Downplayed with Johnny Bullneck, who was a Fat Bastard that bullied other kids in "Fat Boy with a Trumpet", but in the cartoon, he looks more like an early bloomer, albeit an unfortunate-looking early bloomer.
  • Adaptational Name Change:
    • The P. E. kit in "Tag" belonged to A. Phantom in the original, instead of the cartoon's phantom judge Jim Spectre.
    • The short tale of "The Dumb Clucks" is renamed as "The Dumb Klutzes" in the cartoon.
    • "A Lesson in History" was renamed "The History Lesson".
    • "The Death Rattle" was renamed "The Spelling Bee".
    • Nebuchadnezzar from "The Kingdom of Wax" was renamed Nathaniel.
    • Tom and Jerry (no, not those guys) from "The Nuclear Wart" were renamed Jim and Terry.
  • Adaptational Karma: Interestingly, a lot of the examples are inverted versions.
    • Stinker getting shot in "The Chipper Chums Go Scrumping" is revealed in the cartoon to not be fatal, managing to escape with an injured leg. In the book, it's not so lucky.
    • In "The Upset Stomach", the stomach's revenge for its ill-treatment is the same, but in the book, Ethel gets a bit of redemption when the stomach explodes from eating too much, but the acid damages her taste buds and she could never eat plates upon plates of dinner because everything tastes the same. Meanwhile, there's no such Hope Spot in the cartoon.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Ollie's rival Anthony in "Athlete's Foot" is seen at home in the original story, furious that he's now got competition, but the episode cuts to the next year when the race is about to start. There's also the passages about Ollie helping his mentor with his dinner to repay for the mentor helping him, which is also cut and compressed.
    • In the original "Knock Down Ginger", Ginger's friend Milo had a younger sister called Eliza, who had a conspicuous lisp, giving her the nickname "Lizzy the Lizard".
    • Timothy in "The Spaghetti Man" avenged his mother by turning on the bathwater to make the house flood. In the book, he did this too, as well as break lightbulbs and throw all the food in the house into a bin bag to stuff behind his parents' bed. Also, he tried to get rid of his toast by throwing it in the bin in trying to get it mailed away.
    • The story of "The Cat Burglar" in the original story went further into Fedora's greediness, including her antics at school, such as forcing girls to pay to use the toilets and using mirrors to cheat in exams. The episode in the animated series cuts out schooltime (most likely taking place during the school break) and only gives an example of her making money from people licking mints (the price differs from the original story, however).
    • We are told in "It's Only a Game, Sport!" that Bruce and Kitty's parents were once a popular athletic power couple in the Australian sporting world and hoped that their children could carry on their legacy, so if you only saw the cartoon version where this backstory isn't included, Bruce has a very understandable reason to be bad-tempered about sports!
    • The original version of "Death by Chocolate" began with a board meeting in a chocolate factory, in which the CEOs and their partners go from celebrating their sales to hunting a fly infiltrating their Easter chocolate floor. The TV series shows the chocolate factory but the fly lays eggs and sneaks away before anyone notices.
    • "The Chipper Chums Go Scrumping" features more characters in the original story: Ginger and Alice's mother, Sam's mother, Aunt Fanny (who is mentioned in passing in the show), her husband Uncle Herbert, Dick Stick and his mother (both appear in the episode but are footnotes in the story).
    • Several stories from the books (like "The Black Knight" and "The Matchstick Girl") were never adapted into episodes.
    • In the original version of "The Kingdom of Wax", Nathaniel (there named Nebuchadnezzar) has a little sister named Ruthie. In the TV adaptation, he's an only child.
    • The TV series version of "Doctor Moribundus" leaves Loralilee's treatment out of the story. This is most likely because her fate in the book would be too graphic and frightening for the cartoon's target audience.
  • Adults Are Useless: One reason that the kids need such an extreme and often deadly punishment, is because their parents don't even try to discipline them, and when they do, they make a very poor job of it. Special mention goes to Araminta's parents in "Superstitious Nonsense", as they blatantly fall for pretty much every fake superstition she tells them (even though she lies the way most kids her age would - very badly)
  • All There in the Manual: Since the episodes are based on short stories from books, many stories are compressed or characters are pushed aside. Some unnamed characters that have bigger parts in the books are occasionally seen interacting with the main characters with no introduction.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • The fate of Thomas Ratchet in the episode "Sweets." He gets turned into a paper mache statue at the end of the episode. He can only move his eyes.
    • Even more suited to the fate of the ever-talkative Jack in "Jack In The Box", who — at the end of his tale — is turned by a magician/ventriloquist into a dummy ... with a zipped-shut mouth.
    • The Spaghetti Man kidnaps children who don't eat their dinner and turns them into spaghetti-based recipes, such as pasta, noodles, and lasagne.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Much of the kids.
    • There are aversions however for both the asshole and the victim part.
      • In "The Wooden Hill", a boy named Jack learns to overcome his childhood fears.
      • The Chipper Chums are by far the biggest aversion. Ironically, they get the darkest fate out of all the show's victims, just for stealing a few apples.
      • And some kids even learn their lesson. Terry the thief is covered in tags that cannot get taken off, but when he returns the stolen gym bag, the tags vanish and he never steals again.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • Benjamin in "The Top Hat" steals a magician's top hat, which can grant wishes, and he soon abuses its power to get everything he wants, but when he's cornered by the magician and his parents he wishes that he "wasn't here" ... so a hand pulls him into the hat, and he vanishes inside it (but is hinted to still be in there, somewhere).
    • "Kiss and Make Up" is about a girl who wants to look older so a fairy godmother gives her makeup but she doesn't know how to put it on, scaring people in the street. After being duped, she ends up with a face that looked worse than her makeup-covered one.
  • Big Brother Bully:
    • Monty in "Monty's Python", who buys a snake that he makes eat his sister's pets.
    • Serena in "The Chocolate Fly", especially when she blackmails her sister.
    • Dorothy May in "The Piranha Sisters", when it comes to her pranking.
    • Bruce in "It's Only a Game, Sport!" becomes this when he knows that his sister isn't powerful enough to beat him at sports.
  • Black Comedy: Although it gave kids nightmares, the presentation of the show is clearly to make the audience laugh at the ludicrous stories. Sometimes Nigel Planer's Large Ham delivery is so exaggerated, you can't help but be amused.
  • The Butcher: "The Butcher Boy". It turns out that the three generations are the same person!
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • Uncle Grizzly, who was created for the show. Ironically, the Night-Night Porter existed in the books created after the first cartoon series began (most likely to emulate the format of the show so that it wouldn't alienate fans).
    • In the original version of "The Urban Fox", Lord and Lady Blunderbuss had been a couple and were the ones who chased Elvis the fox throughout the city, only to be hunted by the police for property damage. In the adaptation, they were Demoted to Extra and given two kids, Pierce and Tamara, who committed the crimes.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': "The Chipper Chums Go Scrumping" makes it explicitly clear that the Chipper Chums are overall nice kids, but when they decide to steal a few apples, the farmer shoots their dog (we are led to believe he killed him, but the closing moments of the story show that the dog has just ended up lame as a result of a shot to the leg) and then crushes their bodies into his cider-making machine after they die from insecticide poisoning.
  • The Chew Toy: Uncle Grizzly's spider Spindleshanks would usually be abused and mistreated in the stop-motion segments.
  • Couch Gag: Not necessarily a gag, though. The boy in the opening titles that goes to the Squeam Screen is given a popcorn bag, but each season changes the contents, usually filled with insects that the boy unsuspectingly bites into in a Gory Discretion Shot of his eyes widening in alarm at the wiggly creature he'd put in his mouth.
  • Dead All Along: The twist ending to both "Grandmother's Footsteps" and "Athlete's Foot".
  • Deadpan Snarker: Uncle Grizzly, particularly in the stories.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • In the original version of "The Upset Stomach", Ethel's stomach exploded after eating her, but because it left a bad smell in her nose, she's unable to enjoy the taste of food. The TV adaptation simply ends with the stomach eating Ethel.
    • In the original version of "The Kingdom of Wax", Nathaniel (there named Nebuchadnezzer) saved himself by using a fire to melt the sculptures before they reached him, but later got melted by the candles on his birthday cake on his fourteenth birthday. In the TV adaptation, he melted along with the sculptures and the museum.
  • Death by Gluttony:
    • "Jamie's School Dinner" has the title character done in by this, albeit an odd example. He is gluttonous yes, and refuses to eat anything that's even slightly good for him. However, it comes because he ate a transmitter that allowed a witch to control his body while asleep, who then had him walk to her lair where she force feed him like a goose until he explodes.
    • "Death By Chocolate" is technically true: Serena, a greedy chocaholic, blackmails her sister into being her slave. Serena decides to eat the chocolate that was gifted to her sister, and even eats one with a maggot in it, ignoring her sister's squirms of disgust. Days later, Serena has turned into a chocolate fly and tries to intimidate her sister, but her sister kills her with a slap of the fly-swatter.
  • Death by Irony: A few of the horrible children meet their fate like this.
    • "It's Only a Game, Sport!" is about Bruce, a sore loser that throws tantrums when he doesn't get his own way. When his sister is beating him at Snakes and Ladders, he decides to change the rules: instead of climbing up ladders and sliding down snakes, they would now fall down ladders and crawl up snakes. When he eventually decides to cheat and storms off in a huff, he falls down the ladder of their house and is gobbled up by a snake.
    • Some of the fates are warned in an unintentional Cassandra Truth.
      • In an attempt to scare him into not being lazy anymore, Trueman's desperate parents in "The Clothes Pigs" tell him that hungry piglets will come after him. It doesn't work, and Trueman even debunks it, pointing out that pigs would be immediately spotted.
      • Garth's father in "Wolf Child" warns that if he keeps acting like a baby to get attention, the wolves will come for his sister.
    • "The Watermelon Babies" is about two sisters that enjoy wasting water during a nationwide drought. They tease their class during Show and Tell by showing off their freshly-grown watermelon and eat them gleefully in front of the crying children. The next day, they discovered that they'd turned into watermelons and are consequently sliced up and eaten by their thirsty classmates.
    • The best example is the fate of Dorothy May from "The Piranha Sisters", whose three pranks backfire horribly. Her first is pretending to be a statue (and then almost ends up getting stabbed by a falling one), her second is scaring a retirement home dressed as The Grim Reaper (and she is then visited by the real one!), and the third is pretending a swimming pool is full of piranhas (and piranhas end up in her bath). After the final outcome, her parents assume that she's pranking them again and throw her remains away.
    • "Well'ard Willard" acted like a bully to save his skin. He is roasted alive after he steals the Sun, although the irony is thicker in the original book.
  • Death of a Child: The series as a whole is infamous for explicitly featuring this trope on the most frequent basis and often in some of the most violent ways of perhaps any actual "children's" series in animation.
  • Depraved Kids' Show Host: Uncle Grizzly.
  • Disproportionate Retribution
  • Double Entendre: One episode shows the cover of a magazine about camping holidays. The magazine is called "Got Wood".
  • Eaten Alive: The fate of various kids at the end of various episodes. Some such as Nobby in "Nobby's Nightmare" are clearly shown to be Swallowed Whole.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Gilbert in "The Butcher Boy" is first seen in the story pretending to be kidnapped so that his parents would pay him a large ransom. He did this because they refused to pay him more pocket money.
    • Sam in "The Chipper Chums Go Scrumping" can pick up a bail of hay that a tractor could carry and punched Dick Stick hard enough to knock him across the field to his house.
    • Dorothy May in "The Piranha Sisters" is visited by a skeleton spirit who warns her to stop her pranking. She doesn't believe it for a second, insults it, and throws a pillow at it. She's soon spooked out when the pillow goes straight through, but still doesn't believe its omen.
  • Eye Scream
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling:
    • Sort of interchangeable with Dorothy May and Petey in "The Piranha Sisters". Although Petey is gullible, she is the nicest and sensible one, whereas Dorothy May knows how to trick her sister but is too conceited to listen to anyone else. Not even ghostly skeleton spirits.
    • Monty to his little sister in "Monty's Python", once Monty spends too much time bullying his sister with his pet instead of feeding it.
  • Foreshadowing: Several episodes will tend to have a recurring shot, which lasts for only a second or so, which foreshadows the final fate of the kid in today's story.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Spider: Spindleshanks, which makes his abuse much more harrowing.
  • Funny Background Event: There are a few moments (not included in the original stories) that either establish characters or make the audience laugh.
    • Alice in "The Chipper Chums Go Scrumping" stops to say Grace at the picnic, but everyone ignores her and starts eating; there's nothing left when she's done and even Stinker has taken the last bone that probably had a bit of meat left.
    • In "The Butcher Boy", Gilbert pushes the butcher's son out of the way as he rides down the street on a skateboard.
  • The Gambling Addict: In "The Soul Stealer", an old lady is confirmed to have a gambling addiction since it's mentioned that she's going to counseling for it.
  • Ghibli Hills: One bit of Stock Footage is a pan through many hills, before a dissolve cut to the Establishing Shot or the main character.
  • Hell Hotel: The HotHell Darkness, which was the Storyteller's setting in the later episodes.
  • Homage: "The Chipper Chums Go Scrumping" is a dark parody of Enid Blyton's works. See Shout-Out for more details.
  • The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: "The City Fox" is about a rich family moves into a working-class suburb and discover that their neighbours have a fox as a pet. The son and daughter of the family decided to gather their old friends from the country together and hunt the fox, but the fox manages to outsmart them and the police are called. The gang of rich kids sneak into the sewers to wait out the police stick-up and are still down there to this day.
  • Infant Immortality: Regularly, notoriously averted with numerous school-age kids, but notably played straight with a literal infant in Prince Noman; nothing bad happens to him at the end due to him not being the Anti-Role Model subject of the episode's ostensible moral at all, and in fact, the mutilation that ultimately does befall the story's decidedly adult Asshole Victims is what ends up curing Noman's ailment.
  • Jerkass: Most of the kids.
  • Kids Are Cruel: It's justification for having them eaten by trolls, being trapped inside a photo or turning them into a gold statue, or even turning into a Chocolate-fly.
  • Karma Houdini: Adults who enact Disproportionate Retribution on kids tend to get away scot-free.
  • Karmic Transformation: Whether it's being turned into a fly for being greedy, being turned into a mannequin for being rude, or turning into a bug for being lazy, these kids deserve it.
  • Large Ham: Uncle Grizzly isn't afraid to emphasise foreshadowing words or throw in an Evil Laugh at the end of scenes.
  • Living Shadow: The Spaghetti Man, who goes after children that refuse to eat their dinners.
  • Man of a Thousand Voices: Nigel Planer voices all of the characters. Even the women.
  • Mood Whiplash: "The Chipper Chums Go Scrumping" was intended to be based on stories from the early 20th century about Freerange Children on vacation in the countryside, but once the children decide to look for some apples to snack on, they've messed with the wrong orchard.
  • National Stereotypes:
    • Although set in Kent, "The Chipper Chums Go Scrumping" has Farmer Tregowan, a Cornish stereotype of a bloodthirsty farmer.
    • What we see of Wales in "The Giant Who Grew Too Big For His Boots" is villages and farmland, whereas England and other places are well-built cities.
    • Downplayed with Australia in "It's Only a Game, Sport!" Although there are no Awesome Aussie stereotypes, Bruce's family live in the middle of the outback surrounded by snakes, kangaroos, and other animals. His mother's named Sheila, too.
  • Nightmare Fuel:invoked Intentional.
  • No Sympathy: Most of the kids are so full of themselves, they don't care about anyone else.
    • Trueman "Truffle" Snuffle from "The Clothes Pigs" is lazy and relies on his parents for everything. When his mother trips over his mess, falls down the stairs, breaking her leg, Truffle demands that she gets up and makes him dinner. His mother begs for him to call an ambulance, he ignores her and goes to the fish and chip shop to get his dinner there instead.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: "Doctor Moribundus;" whatever it was he did to Lorelei Lee to cure her of "No-School-itis."note 
    "Long into the night, Doctor Moribundus performed a surgical procedure so revolutionary, so secret, and so like eating a soft-boiled egg that I can't possibly tell you what it was..."
  • The Pigpen: Dirty Bertie, who's so dirty, he attracts a 900-year-old alien.
  • The Prankster: Many children are this, particularly prank callers.
    • Dorothy May is a darker version of this, a borderline gaslighter towards her little sister, ruining Petey's life so much, a spirit has to warn her about her behaviour.
  • Replaced the Theme Tune: The orchestral theme from the original series has a noticeable change once the claymation segments end. Every episode in the final season has a had a completely different theme from before; compare the opening from a season one episode to one from season six.
  • Scare 'em Straight: The point of the show. Viewers were known to have nightmares after watching the series.
  • Shout-Out: There is a considerable amount of Parental Bonus references.
    • The episode about a barber that knows how to deal with rude children is called "The Barber of Civil".
    • "The Chipper Chums Go Scrumping" is a Whole Plot Reference of this, especially if one's familiar with Enid Blyton's work.
      • Stinker the dog = Scamper from The Secret Seven.
      • Sam is introduced as "the girl with a boy's name", which is a reference to George from The Famous Five, who was also a tomboy (Georgina) "with a boy's name". The two of them also hate whenever their gender is brought up as a negative. There's also Algae the adventure-seeker, who is clearly based on Dick from the same series, as well as Col having an Aunt Fanny (who doesn't appear) like the three siblings.
      • There is something telling about the names of two other characters mentioned: Col's aunt Fanny and Sam's bully Dick Stick. Dick and Fanny (although names of many characters in Blyton's works) were two notorious characters from The Faraway Tree whose names had to later be bowdlerised for later editions because of the modern sexual connotations. Only one of them appears (although mentioned in passing): Dick Stick, who Sam beats up for viciously teasing her.
      • The group dynamic of four children and a dog, which is subverted when Ginger's sister Alice wants to join them. Her insistence may also be a reference to The Secret Seven, which was a group of six children and a dog but one of the boys' little sister wanted to join in, much to her brother's embarrassment.
    • A boy named Monty buys a snake to bully his sister. The name of the episode? "Monty's Python".
    • A Stage Dad hopes to make his daughter the most famous person in the world, but "The Childhood Snatcher" delivers harsh consequences.
  • Space Whale Aesop: All of the stories are this. Apparently, if you're mouthy in school, a hairdresser will cut your tongue; if you don't eat fruit, you'll turn into a bat; and if you pressure your child into the adult world prematurely, they'll turn into a pensioner.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • In the original version of "The Chipper Chums Go Scrumping", Stinker the dog is gunned down by Farmer Tregowan. In the adaptation, he's revealed to be still alive (but lame).
    • In the original version of "Frank Einstein's Monster", Frank's monster switches places with him and places him on the rocket. In the adaptation, someone catches on before Frank is put on the rocket, and he's set free.
  • Stock Footage: Frequently the show would repeat the same chunks of animation in a story, and other times whole backgrounds and settings would be lifted from other episodes.
  • Stop Motion: The introduction and ending segments featuring Uncle Grizzly are animated in stop-motion whereas the stories themselves are in 2D animation. In later episodes, the stop-motion segments were cut shorter before being scrapped altogether.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Elizabeth in "The History Lesson" is a notable one, especially if she asked a ghost to help her with her exam. She's first seen trying to work out which monarchs have the same name as her.
  • Unfortunate Names: Some names of the characters skirt this. Trueman Snuffle only got this when the starving piglets heard his nickname "Truffle" (a portmanteau of his first and last name) and they assumed that he was a truffle (most likely, truffle chocolate).
  • Universal-Adaptor Cast: Every episode is guaranteed to have the same character models from another episode. Since the stories are set in different places, these recognisable faces in the background aren't playing the same people, but viewers have fun pointing out what other stories they've seen certain extras star in.
  • Villain Protagonist: Many of the kids and those are the ones who generally become Asshole Victims.
  • Widget Series: Pretty much a wabbit.
  • Would Hurt a Child: In "The Chipper Chums Go Scrumping", the titular characters are outrignt murdered by an angry farmer
  • Workaholic: Many of the parents are. Often, when their children go missing or die, they don't notice.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: "Goblin Mountain" ends with the ordeal being All Just a Dream ... only for the boy to turn into a tree after all when he wakes up.

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