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Western Animation / Numberjacks

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The Numberjacks are on their way!

Numberjacks is a British children's television series that originally aired on BBC2 in the United Kingdom between October 2006 and 2009; re-runs of the episodes are still shown regularly on CBeebies (when it was on BBC2, it was only on occasionally, and when it first appeared, it was only on for a week). It was produced by Open Mind Productions for the BBC and featured a mixture of computer-generated animation and live-action.

The Numberjacks were animated characters (the numbers 0 to 9) who live in an ordinary sofa and solve problems outside; each episode has the same structure. At the beginning of the episode, some of the Numberjacks would be engaged in an activity, that would have relevance to the problem that was later discovered - then, an "agent" (who was a live-action child) would call in and describe the problem that is occurring. One (or two) of the Numberjacks would go out into the real world to solve the problem while the remaining Numberjacks stayed in the sofa and watched their progress on a screen. As soon as the problem was understood, Five would imagine what else could go wrong if it wasn't solved (often wondering what would happen to the Dancing Cow, who never actually made any physical appearance in the real world).

Once outside, the Numberjacks were shown in a live-action setting (although themselves still animated); they diagnosed their problems by examination and with additional ideas from the agents, who called into the base. The problem could be caused either by one of the Meanies, a group of five villains who enjoy causing issues for people, or by one of the younger Numberjacks (Zero, One or Two) escaping from the sofa and inadvertently making things go wrong. The Numberjacks solved their problems by using "Brain Gain," a magical force of power activated by a machine in the sofa and transferred to the Numberjack.

Once the problem was solved, the Numberjacks would return to their base, replay the preceding events on a screen and then challenge the viewer to think about a related problem and "call the Numberjacks"; the problems encountered were all based upon simple mathematical concepts, and the programme was intended to stimulate young children's interest in mathematics. On satellite, digital, and cable TV, a link to Numberjacks often appeared in the corner of the screen and sometimes on (for example) gardening programmes as a way of helping people with basic numeracy.

While this is a show for preschoolers, older people have been known to watch the show on occasion because of its ridiculously adorable protagonists and their evolving personalities.

"Things may be all be going wrong, but you can bet it's not for long, the Troperjacks are on their way!":

  • Annoyingly Repetitive Child: In "Going Wrong, Going Long", Three (who's three years old since a Numberjack's number equals their age) claims that she can sing forever. Four is less than enthused and sticks his head in a box to drown out the sound.
  • Anthropomorphic Typography: The main characters are anthropomorphic numbers that can talk.
  • Art Evolution: The 3D animation becomes smoother in later episodes, particularly with the Numberjacks' facial expressions. In Season 2, the 2D animation in Five's imagination becomes cleaner and more detailed.
  • Badass in Distress:
    • Everyone (except Zero) gets hit with this in "Zero The Hero"
    • The Puzzler has trapped Three, Five, Seven, Eight and Nine in puzzle bubbles on separate occasions, and Three's mouth was forced shut as well. Five was also stuck in quicksand one time.
    • Five's eyes were forced shut in "Time Trouble" by Spooky Spoon and she almost had a nasty fall.
    • Three and Four were almost sucked up by the Numbertaker on separate occasions.
    • Five and Six were messed around with the Problem Blob on separate occasions.
    • Six was stuck in a box during "Boxing Day".
  • Big Brother Instinct: Four, Five and Six are like this with Three, sometimes a little overprotective as she just wants to help on a mission, but was often deemed "too small a number" in the earlier episodes. That being said, they do become less overprotective of her later in the series, once she begins to go out on solo missions more regularly.
    • Three is this to Zero, One and Two.
    • Seven, Eight and Nine, as the most mature Numberjacks, are this to all the other numbers.
  • Bittersweet Ending: "The Trouble with Nothing" ends with Zero and One very tired, but Four's headache gone and the main problem solved. Similarly, at the end of "Stop and Go", the problem is solved, but Three is tired and goes to take a nap.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Done at the end of every episode when the Numberjacks ask the viewers to try some math-based problems based on the one they figured out in the episode.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Obviously, all the Numberjacks have unique bodies and colours, but this also applies to the Agents; none of them look remotely similar.
  • Character Catchphrase:
    • Three commonly says "Me, me, me!" when she wants to do something, mostly go out on a mission.
    • Six is often heard saying "Did the trick" when the Numberjacks accomplish something.
    • Whenever Five imagines something, she usually says "If [meanie/little Numberjack keeps causing the problem], anything could happen."
    • In some episodes, Four says "I'm not sure" when he's nervous about going on a mission or sometimes doing advanced jumps in the gym.
  • Cats Are Mean: Averted with Jasper, who is always a good sport about letting the Numberjacks launch.
  • Color-Coded Characters:
    • Zero: Chartreuse
    • One: Purple
    • Two: Orange
    • Three: Pink
    • Four: Royal blue
    • Five: Cyan
    • Six: Yellow
    • Seven: Red
    • Eight: Sky blue
    • Nine: Green
  • Cool Big Sis: Seven, Eight, and Nine are looked up to by the younger Numberjacks and sometimes babysit them. Occasionally, Six and Five will babysit them too.
  • Digital Destruction: For whatever reason, various episodes have worse audio quality on the YouTube uploads.
  • Ding-Dong-Ditch Distraction: When someone is sitting on the sofa at launching time, one of the Numberjacks will ring the doorbell to make the person go away. That is, unless it's Jasper, who they're fine with being seen by.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • In the first episode, the countdown could not be heard when a numberjack gets sent to the real world. This is fixed in later episodes.
    • In her first two appearances, Shape Japer's laughter could be heard during her song, but this does not happen in her later appearances.
  • Edutainment Show: This show teaches small children basic math, including numbers (duh), shapes, and patterns.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode:
    • "Counting Down to Christmas" is a lot longer than most episodes and involves several of the antagonists instead of one.
    • "Seaside Adventure" is also a lot longer and features multiple antagonists. Additionally, it begins in the control room (most episodes start off in the Cosy Room or the gym), four of the Numberjacks are on vacation, three agents get blobbed by the Problem Blob (usually, on the rare occasions an agent got affected by a "meanie", it was only one per episode), and instead of a recap of the episode, the episode ends with a song.
    • In "Zero the Hero", instead of a villain causing the problem on purpose, or one of the baby Numberjacks causing the problem naively, the problem is caused by the launcher glitching out and causing the Numberjacks (except Zero) to freeze in place and move objects to people.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Five is Phlegmatic and Four is Melancholic. As for Three and Six... well, it really depends on the episode, but typically Three is Sanguine and Six is Choleric.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: Zigzagged. The Numberjacks themselves have the odd numbers as girls and the even numbers as boys, but the "meanies" have two girls and three boys. Agents can vary.
  • Genki Girl: Three is the most enthusiastic of the Numberjacks. Six is a close second, being a Genki Boy. Two is pretty active, but also quite moody, and he's a boy. Five and Seven are enthusiastic too, but not as much as Three.
  • Grid Puzzle: In the episode "In, Out and Shake it All About", Three and Five are sent to crack a Sudoku so they can clear and exit the puzzle bubble.
  • Imagine Spot: Five has one of these at least Once an Episode where she wonders what might happen should the problem persist.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Zero, Three, Six, and Nine all have blue eyes, and they're all heroes.
  • I've Heard of That What Is It?: In "Slide and Turn", Four has a line like this regarding a moving mat that Six uses to move a car.
    Four: "Wow, that looks good. It's great! Fantastic! ...Um, what is it?"
  • Job Song: The theme song is about the Numberjacks' job solving problems.
  • Medium Blending: The Numberjacks themselves, as well as the meanies (barring the Numbertaker) and the interior of the sofa are animated in CGI. The Numbertaker, the Agents, and all other locations are filmed in live-action.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: In several episodes, Three wants to go out on a mission, but seems to never get her chance. She does get it eventually, with Five on three missions and Six on one. She was going to go out with Four as well but the launcher broke, making the episode in question her first ever solo mission. She eventually goes out by herself a few times.
  • Mood-Swinger: Due to his young age, Two often flips his moods and changes his mind.
  • Mr. Fixit: Four does the repair work.
  • Ms. Imagination: Five is always the one who imagines the worst-case scenario if the problem persists.
  • No Name Given: The family who lives in the house with the Numberjacks' sofa, consisting of a man, a woman, and their (presumed) daughter have no names initially. However, there is one episode where the daughter's name is revealed. It's Holly.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Three is the pink girl and Four is the blue boy. Downplayed with Seven and Eight, who are red and light blue respectively.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: The Puzzler speaks in rhyme.
  • Rhyming Title: Several of the episodes.
    • "Going Wrong, Going Long"
    • "Brain Drain"
    • "The Container Drainer"
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: The animated Numberjacks often appeared in live-action settings.
  • Rogues Gallery: The five Meanies.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The Numbertaker usually takes off running when defeated.
  • Secret Squatter: The eponymous talking numbers, and their pets the Buddy Blocks, live inside a couch in a house belonging to a couple and their daughter Holly, without the family's knowledge. Unlike most Secret Squatters, the Numberjacks are on the side of good and solve problems caused by the show's antagonists (known as the "meanies").
  • Shock-and-Switch Ending:
    • In "Boxing Day", a mess-up with the technology results in several people and things being trapped in boxes. At the end of the episode, Three is in a box, making it seem like the troubles aren't over, but then it turns out that she got into the box on purpose to scare Four, Five, and Six as a prank.
    • In "The Dreaded Lurgi", Four and Six, and later Three all get the eponymous disease, with one of the symptoms being sleepiness. At the end of the episode, everyone has recovered, but Zero falls asleep. Four is worried that Zero has the lurgi but Five confirms that Zero is just being his usual Sleepyhead self.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One episode is titled "May The Fours Be With You".
    • "The Dreaded Lurgi" takes its name from a fictional disease first coined by Spike Milligan for a 1954 episode of The Goon Show entitled "Lurgi Strikes Britain".note 
  • Sick Episode: "The Dreaded Lurgi" has Four and Six get a disease called "lurgi" which makes them lethargic, unwell, and unable to do their jobs. Later, Three catches the lurgi, but Four and Six recover. They believe that Zero has also caught the lurgi, but he's actually just being his normal Sleepy Head self.
  • Sleepyhead: Zero falls asleep a lot, which is probably because he is a baby.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: The Spooky Spoon thinks she's superior to everyone else, but is just a plastic spoon.
  • Smug Snake: The Spooky Spoon is very arrogant and is one of the villains.
  • Sticky Fingers: The Numbertaker likes to steal numbers and objects.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: The Numberjacks live in a city populated nearly entirely by people who often forget kindergarten-level maths and often don't notice when these talking numbers or any of their crazy villains are about.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Downplayed. The female Numberjacks have long eyelashes, but then, all the Numberjacks have eyelashes.
    • Played straight with Spooky Spoon, who has a pink body, a gold necklace and teal eyeshadow. note 
  • Title, Please!: Most episodes do not display/state the title.
  • Unnamed Parent: The girl's name is revealed to be Holly, but her parents are still unnamed.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: In the episode "Almost Human", the human victim's girlfriend doesn't seem bothered that her boyfriend has been replaced with an anthropomorphic number 4, while the only response other humans give the "Numberjack Man" is a confused look.
  • Villain Song: Each of the Meanies has one that plays when their presence is announced.
  • Vocal Evolution: As the series progressed, Four's voice kept getting deeper and deeper, and by the series finale, his voice was almost as deep as Eight's.
  • The Voiceless: The Numbertaker doesn't speak.
  • Who's on First?: In "Stop and Go", Six sees Spooky Spoon and says, "It's Spooky!". Three thinks he means that the situation is spooky.
  • You Are Number 6: All the numbers are named after the number they represent (the 3 is named Three, etc).


Three and Four

Three counts out three objects, but Four calls out "Three", as in her name, before she can say "Three", as in the third object.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / AstonishinglyAppropriateInterruption

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