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Western Animation / Heathcliff & the Catillac Cats

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Heathcliff is a streetwise orange house cat with thin black stripes. The Catillac Cats are a gang of alley cats run by Riff Raff. Together, they prowl the streets of Westfinster and get in trouble. (Though other than in the closing credits, Heathcliff and Riff Raff never actually meet...)

This was a syndicated cartoon series of The '80s based on the Heathcliff comic strip. It ran in a two shorts format. Hilarity Ensues in every short.

The show is actually called simply Heathcliff. The expanded title is used probably to distinguish it from the previous (and lesser known) Ruby-Spears version from 1980. Additionally, "The Catillac Cats" (an original DIC Entertainment creation) are officially known as "Cats & Co." (They're referred to as such in the closing credits).


  • The '80s: Cleo's legwarmers are a betrayal of the time period in which this show was made.
  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: Almost all the furry characters.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Iggy, Heathcliff's young human owner, was significantly redesigned from his appearances in the comic strip and the 80s Saturday Morning cartoon; the most noticeable change was from curly blond hair under a hat, to straight brown hair.
  • Ad Bumpers: Done in character using both Heathcliff and Riff-Raff:
    "Just wait'll you see what I do next (laughs)!" / "This is the part I've been waitin' for."
    "Stick with me, gang. I'm just getting warmed up!" / "(laughs) Now back to Heathcliff!"
    "Don't move or nothin', the best part's coming up." / "Now watch what I do."
    "Don't leave me, I need a minute to figure this out!" / "We're back. Are you ready?"
    "Don't go away, I may need your help." / "Back to Heathcliff and me, Riff-Raff."
    "Wait right there, I need to take a break from this." / "I've been waitin' for ya, let's go!"
  • Adaptation Expansion: Quite a lot more characters were added in comparison to the strip's small cast.
  • Affectionate Parody: "Monstro vs. the Wolf Hound" sends up 1930s horror movies, complete with Riff Raff as a Mad Scientist, Wordsworth as The Igor, Mungo as Frankenstein's Monster and Leroy as the Wolf Man.
  • All Just a Dream: The endings of "Monstro vs. the Wolf Hound" and "Prehysteric Riff Raff".
    • Or Was It a Dream?: The ending of "Prehysteric Riff Raff" where Riff Raff somehow finds a fossil display of himself.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Each episode ended with Heathcliff giving a pet care tip, sometimes assisted by Spike.
  • Animesque: The show was mostly animated in Japan (the first season primarily by TMS Entertainment), so that's a given. The second season seemed even more animesque than the first. And this was before anime was even a blip on U.S's radar.
  • Arab Oil Sheikh: The prince in "Harem Cat".
  • Atlantis: Parodied by "In Search of Catlantis".
  • Bait-and-Switch: In "The Other Woman", Cleo informs Riff Raff and the gang that her country cousin Lindsay was coming for a visit. The bus arrives and an attractive female cat is revealed, getting the guys' attention. Except that wasn't Lindsay, and the real Lindsay was a fat unattractive country cat that the guys were horrified at seeing.
  • Battle Couple: Riff Raff and Cleo, especially in "Cruisin' for a Bruisin'" where the two fight against a snobby poodle couple.
  • Big Ball of Violence: Once every episode. One example is in "Heathcliff's Double", when Heathcliff beats up Spike in front of his owner and grabs him by the ears when he tries to get out.
  • Bragging Theme Tune: "So join in the jubilee / The cats are great, they'll all agree / Find in each calamity / the cats' superiority!"
  • Buffoonish Tomcat: Riff Raff when his screwups occur and Mungo, the Dumb Muscle Kindhearted Simpleton.
  • Cats Are Mean: All the cats have their moments, but Heathcliff especially.
  • Cat Stereotype: Heathcliff (an orange male cat) and Sonya (an all-white female cat).
  • Christmas Episode:
    • "Christmas Memories", a Whole Episode Flashback detailing how the Catillac Cats met.
    • Heathcliff had his own Christmas Episode: "North Pole Cat".
  • Civilized Animal:
    • Most of the cats and dogs shown in the series were at this level.
    • Most of the plots with heavy human involvement were used in Heathcliff's side of the series, often through the device of Iggy and the Nutmegs, his owners.
  • Clingy Jealous Cat: Heathcliff, Sonja, Riff Raff and Cleo all had a tendency to get horribly jealous whenever their significant other showed interest in someone else. One of the fastest ways to earn Heathcliff's ire was to flirt with Sonja, and she in turn was never pleased if Heathy even alluded to another female feline.
  • Company Cross References: The show has had numerous references to Inspector Gadget, another DiC Entertainment animated series from around the same time. Notable examples include Riff-Raff wearing Dr. Claw's spiked gloves in his mad scientist dream in "Monstro Vs. the Wolf Hound", with Hector as a detective wearing Inspector Gadget's gray trenchcoat and hat in the same dream, along with Dr. Mousetus in his self-titled episode using a cat laser device resembling M.A.D. Cat. Sometimes Gadget himself would appear on a TV or in a crowd scene. The second season of Inspector Gadget would contain numerous references to Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats as well.
  • Cool Car: The Catillacs are named after their main ride, a red and white Cadillac convertible that can somehow transform into several other vehicles, like a boat or a RV camper.
  • Crossdresser: All the Catillac Cats cross-dress in "Debutante Ball", including Cleo in a powder blue tux. And gag glasses.
    • Heathcliff's father had done this once to hide from the police after escaping from jail.
  • Crossover: Heathcliff and Riff Raff never actually meet, aside from the closing credits in which the latter takes back his hat from the former. However, Heathcliff has bumped into Hector, Wordsworth, and Mungo a few times. They never really got along when that happened. He did, however, team up with the trio a couple times to tackle common foes or deal with a mutual problem. Plus there's this exchange from the Heathcliff segment "Soap Box Derby":
    Wordsworth: Hey, but we can't play 'cause Riff-Raff's away.
  • Desires Prison Life: Heathcliff's dad Pop loves his life in prison. In "A Piece of the Rock", when he's taken back there, he contently calls it home, and when Heathcliff says he's going to break him out of there, Pop shoots this suggestion down.
  • Diet Episode: "Lard Times".
  • Divide and Conquer: "Divide and Clobber" sees Leroy turning the cats against each other during one of his not so harmless moments. (Ted Ziegler played Leroy and Mungo, so guess which one of the cats he mimicked first...?)
  • Dogs Are Dumb:
    • Leroy, the watchdog who guarded the junkyard where the Catillac Cats lived, was hopelessly outmatched when he tried to stand in the gang's way.
    • Bush, the sheepdog who guarded the music store where Cleo lived, Butt-Monkey to Riff Raff.
    • Several episodes feature the Catillacs defeating one-shot canine opponents.
    • Spike is the most notable, having the honor of being Heathcliff's main victim.
  • This exchange between Riff Raff and Cleo regarding her dog companion, Bush, in "Carnival Capers":
    Riff Raff: (whistles seductively as he walks up to Cleo)
    Cleo: (posing in the mirror) You like what you see?
    Riff Raff: You're the best looking thing on four legs, baby!
    Cleo: (turns to the side, sees Bush wake up.) Uh-oh. It's Bush!
    Riff Raff: Things are gonna get hairy... for Bush.
  • Early Installment Character-Design Difference: The pilot episode, "May the Best Cat Win" has Iggy, Marcy, and Sonja sporting different designs from the rest of the series, with Sonja resembling more closely to her comics design.
  • Enemy Mine: Sometimes Leroy helped the Catillac Cats defeat that episode's rivals. Particularly in the episodes involving sports.
    • Heathcliff once teamed up with a pet bird of a mansion to stop a pair of burglars, after the fat dog whom the bird supported fell down a flight of stairs. A similar truce happened after Heathcliff joined up with a parrot in a supermarket when he outsmarted the security.
  • Expy: Sealand in "Sealand Mania" is a clear ripoff of Sea World.
  • The Family for the Whole Family: Hector runs afoul of them while managing Heathcliff's wrestling career, when they want to ensure Heathcliff loses to Boom Boom Pussini.
  • Furry Confusion:
    • Just in case the issue wasn't confused enough by some animals being the same height as the humans and all the non-anthro cats, dogs and other animals running around, a Flashback in "Debutante Ball" shows Cleo and her friend Muffy as non-anthro kittens... with Cleo still sporting a full head of blonde hair.
    • Frequently showed up in the Pet Care tips. Well-intentioned or not, there's something rather disturbing about Heathcliff cheerily explaining how to care for a pregnant cat...
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Wordsworth.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Any furry character who wears clothes at all.
  • "Harmful to Pets" Reminder: There were a series of PSA announcements at the end of the episodes regarding pet care, including making sure that your pets didn't eat human food that could be bad for them.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: "A Better Mousetrap" for the Catillac Cats. They built the mousetrap that caught THEMSELVES instead of the mice (who knew how to set it off so the Cats fell into it).
    Mungo: Riff Raff! Look at what you've done!
    Riff Raff: Hey, we did it, didn't we? We built the better mousetrap.
    Leroy: Yup! And the world has beat a path to my door! (Mice scurry to the cheese Leroy's leaning on.)
  • Humanoid Female Animal: Interestingly, while Cleo was a straight example of this, most of the other cats and dogs were at the exact same level. Aside from Riff Raff, all of the shorter cats who were treated more like cats were found in Heathcliff's cartoon — including his girlfriend, Sonja.
    • Roxy from "Kitten Around" is another straight example.
  • Humiliation Conga: Spike does this to a reformed Heathcliff in "Spike's Slave."
  • I Am Big Boned: In "Lard Times" when Sonja hints at Heathcliff's belly, he insists it's all muscle. Grandpa had apparently been saying the same thing to Grandma and Iggy until his doctor told him he needed to go on a diet.
  • Instant Wristwatch: Does so in Heathcliff Pumps Iron.
  • Ironic Name: Riff Raff's cousin, Lucky, a black cat who is not only incredibly unlucky, but his bad luck spreads to anyone within his proximity... anyone, that is, except for Riff Raff.
  • I Want My Jetpack: Played with in the episode "House of the Future", an unofficial remake of a MGM short. When are we going to get an animatronic kitchen where a meal is automatically prepared for us with just pressing a button?
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Heathcliff and Riff Raff.
  • Junkyard Technology: The Catillac Cats thrived on this trope.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: In one episode, Riff Raff mentions that Cleo moving in would mean less time spent chasing her for "inte... lligent conversation".
  • Like Father, Like Son: The episode "Pop on Parole" shows that Heathcliff's father is a hardened bank robber doing time in an animal prison. He's even craftier than his son, and just as tough.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Riff Raff and Hector both fell into this from time to time; Hector was more likely to be proven a Dirty Coward.
  • Mock Millionaire: Riff Raff does this to impress his mother in "Riff Raff's Mom".
  • Moment Killer: Whenever Riff Raff and Cleo tried to get some alone time or go on vacation together, Hector, Wordsworth, and Mungo would try to tag along and interrupt.
  • The Movie: Though it's more like a Clip Show. To be exact, it's an "anthology film".
  • Never Say "Die": The show commonly used "pulverize" and "mertilize" as threats. Averted once in "The Merry Pranksters" when Cleo yells, "I'm gonna kill you!" to Leroy's pranking assistant.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Cleo's cousin Lindsay is an Abhorrent Admirer for Riff Raff, much to his horror. She sneaks into his pad for some "quality time", but Riff Raff tries to force her out. Unfortunately, Cleo walks in on them and makes the very wrong assumption that Riff Raff was cheating on her (which made absolutely no sense). Riff Raff then comes up with a plan to not only get rid of Lindsay, but also to teach Cleo a lesson by putting her in this trope to make her understand how it feels to be accused of something without getting the facts straight.
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: In the episode, Cat Balloon, Cleo complains loudly about this whenever she got bored of the junkyard, wheedling Riff Raff into taking her on vacation.
  • "Pan Up to the Sky" Ending: The final shot of the Catillac Cats episode "Life Saver".
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": "Leroy's a jerk."
  • Pie in the Face: During the closing credits, Mungo gets smacked with one while trying to sing.
  • Quarter Hour Short: Aired in two segments: a Heathcliff cartoon followed by a Catillac Cats cartoon.
  • Radish Cure: A second season episode series involved a (court-ordered) attempt to get Heathcliff to stop stealing fish from the fish store using this method (otherwise, he would have to go to jail). It ends up working too well...
    Grandpa Nutmeg: Heathcliff not only doesn't want to eat fish, he can't even stand to hear the word fish.
  • Readings Blew Up the Scale: In "Lard Times", after being in denial about being fat, Heathcliff finally accepts his weight problem when he steps on the bathroom scale, and it explodes.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Amateur poet Wordsworth speaks almost exclusively in short rhyming couplets. For example, when Mungo knocks him and Hector over with a pipe in "Kitty Kat Kennels", he mutters, "Now I'm lying in the dirt, and think my body's hurt!", and when Mungo then drops the pipe on their heads, he adds, "Lots of things I do for fun, but getting squashed by pipes ain't one!"
  • Scare Dare: In "Scaredy Cats", The Catillac Cats are dared into spending the night at a Haunted House.
  • Shout-Out: Inspector Gadget is frequently referenced.
  • Spanner in the Works: "A Better Mousetrap" has the Mice realize they and Leroy have an Enemy Mine in the Catillac Cats — and it leads to them setting the Cats up for a sprung trap of their own making.
  • Sphere Eyes: Heathcliff and Sonja have large, round eyes.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: Hector in "Dr. Mousetus".
  • Suddenly Speaking: Continuing from the Ruby-Spears series, Heathcliff, Sonja, and Spike are all given voices in the show despite neither speaking in the comics.
  • Symbolic Blood: In one episode, Hector wearing a radiator as a suit of armor gets stabbed in a way that makes it leak coolant.
  • The Starscream: Several episodes revolved around Hector trying to lead or take over the Catillac Cats. And failing. Miserably.
  • Through a Face Full of Fur:
    • In the segment "May the Best Cat Win," Heathcliff keeps goading and taunting Spike, who turns a bright red all over from bottom to top with anger.
    • Heathcliff himself also turns red with anger all over in "Revenge of The Kitty", after some construction workers keep picking at him.
    • In the Catillacs segment "Kitten Around," Riff-Raff and Roxie turn entirely pale blue after they're given white vinegar to drink instead of water. Also, Mungo's face turns red briefly from heat after sampling tabasco sauce.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Riff Raff and Cleo. She's nearly twice his height.
  • Title Theme Tune: As with most Western animated productions. However, one alternate version of the theme song references "Cats & Co." instead.
  • Walk Into Camera Obstruction: "Heathcliff Surprise" with Heathcliff as he is angrily walking inside his house to his bed.
  • Walk This Way: Wordsworth (as The Igor) keeps saying this in "Monstro vs. the Wolf Hound", but no one takes him up on it.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: "Scaredy Cats" has Mungo being separated from the rest of the Catillac Cats in Farthing Hall. Hector and Wordsworth contemplate leaving, only to be stopped by Riff Raff who says they need to find Mungo before they can do so.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Just like in the comic strip, Westfinster's location is left unknown. All we know is that it might be in Maine, as evidenced by the presence of a fishing industry and the fact it snows in the winter.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Invoked in the episode "Terrible Tammy": Tammy, a female cat who's trying to bully Heathcliff and take over his territory, uses a conniving ploy on him, so he can't hit Tammy because his honor would be tarnished. In the end, he turns the tables on Tammy, and firmly states that he will not fight her, but he won't back down from Tammy, either. His girlfriend, Sonja, however, doesn't have any qualms about giving Tammy a full-scale ass-kicking, the kind that Heathcliff would usually dish out upon Spike the bulldog! The Irony? Hector, Wordsworth, Mungo, and Spike actually cheered on Heathcliff for standing his ground and Sonja dishing out the well-deserved ass-kicking to Tammy, because they were bullied by Tammy, too!

Alternative Title(s): Heathcliff