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Western Animation / Seven Little Monsters

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Seven Little Monsters was a book by Maurice Sendak (of Where the Wild Things Are fame) that got a 3-seasons, 40-episodes Animated Adaptation from the Canadian animation studio Nelvana, with China's Hong Ying Animation and Philippine Animation Studio Inc. helping out with production as well.

The show is about a family of seven monster siblings (five boys and two girls), who despite the title, are actually much larger than the humans they share their neighborhood with. These seven siblings, known simply by their respective numbers going from oldest to youngest, live with a diminutive, Slavic-accented old lady who happens to be their mother. While their sizes and unusual abilities and appearances seem alarming at first glance, they are all Gentle Giants who mean well and do their best to do what's right. And even despite the trouble that their individual quirks and personalities can bring on their various adventures and misadventures, the seven little monsters can always count on the love and support they have from each other and their mother as a family.


Seven Little Monsters was a part of the PBS Kids Bookworm Bunch from 2000-2002 and also aired from 2003-2007 on its home country of Canada on YTV (and later Treehouse TV). While not as successful and recognizable as its fellow Nelvana-produced Maurice Sendak adaptation Little Bear, it has gained Cult Classic status among those who watched it on PBS as part of Bookworm Bunch and later as part of its dual slot with The Berenstain Bears. Part of this was due to the fact that like Little Bear, Maurice Sendak was involved in the show's production, and thus had more significant influence over the series' development than is typical for a cartoon adaptation of a kids' book. The theme song of the show was performed by Barenaked Ladies.

Interestingly, Nelvana's cartoon is not the first effort to adapt the book in animated form, as it had previously been adapted as an animated segment on Sesame Street that was animated by Fred Calvert.


Nelvana has made episodes available on Youtube through their Treehouse Direct channel. Check them out here!

This cartoon provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Diversity: In Sendak's original book, none of the monsters were visibly female, and only One, Two, and Seven had distinct gimmicks (unless you count Five's ability to drink entire oceans). In the cartoon, the others are given gimmicks as well, and Six is outright redesigned into a Girly Girl.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: The book's monsters were also a lot more mischievous (if not outright malevolent), and terrorize the humans for kicks. The story ends with said humans successfully capturing them.
  • An Aesop: Every episode has one, most of which involve family dynamics.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: Belinda. Most notably her fetching skills and her scent sniffing nose (like when the monsters thought their mom left them out of anger, and they were looking for her.)
  • Animation Bump: Season 3. Due to the switch from Hong Ying to Philippine Animation Studio Inc., the animation is much more fluid here.
  • Audience Surrogate: Mary.
  • Babysitting Episode: "Seven Monsters and a Baby".
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: One, Four, Five, and sometimes Three depending on his persona.
  • Big Little Brother: Five acts like the youngest but he is older than Six and Seven.
  • Bittersweet Ending Bang! Zoom! To the Moon! Four's rocket made of junk doesn't take them to the moon, or even off the ground for obvious reasons, but Astronaut Three tells him that he had a dream, just like the world did when they first wanted to go to the moon... and if he keeps dreaming, one day he might actually achieve his goal.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: The monsters look completely different to one another, despite being septuplets.
  • Casting Gag: One of Colin Mochrie's favorite things to mock about his Whose Line Is It Anyway? costar Ryan Stiles is his big nose. Here, he plays a character with a big nose.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "What are you supposed to be today, Three?"
    • "Tell me you didn't just say (number)."
    • "One of these days..."
  • Crying Wolf: In the episode, The Two Who Cried Ouch, Two lately is always second in everything (hence his name) and feels unappreciated. When he gets sick, he becomes the center of attention and is treated like a king. But after learning once he recovers that he will not receive this treatment anymore now that he is better, he starts faking injuries to keep getting his way. But after feeling guilty and going to confess, he actually gets hurt. But the others (as Four caught him jumping up and down when he was suppose to be hurt and told the rest of the monsters) don't believe him...
  • Cute Little Fangs: Four is the only Monster with them...but he never uses them to hurt.
  • Dark Reprise: After his siblings drive him crazy one day, Four sings a song about what the world would be like if he was an only child and four was the only number that mattered. When a wishing star based on Clarence the angel grants his wish and he finds that he misses his siblings, and four is not the only number that should be taken into consideration, he sings a somber version of said song.
  • Demonic Possession: Star Zero possesses Belinda the cow to talk with Four in "It's a Wonder-Four Life."
  • Descent into Addiction: Five's pie addiction in "You Are What You Eat."
  • Disappeared Dad: Their dad is mentioned once, but never seen. Likely dead.
  • Dom Com: A younger child version with monsters.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In the first episode, some people seem visibly afraid of the monsters in the grocery store, though this could be more due to their size and clumsiness than their appearance.
  • Edutainment Show: Like all of Bookworm Bunches shows.
  • Exact Words: In "It's a Wonder-Four Life", Four wishes he had no brothers or sisters. In the alternate universe this leads to, his siblings still exist, he's just not related to them.
  • Expy: Star Zero is pretty much a femaleized wish star version of Clarence from It's a Wonderful Life.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Star Zero is told to appear to Four in a way he'll understand, so she possesses Belinda the cow. Because a talking cow is totally less strange than a magic wishing star.
  • Friend to All Children: The monsters can often be found playing with human kids and offering them fun experiences due to their great sizes (and none of them seem slightly scared of them...)
  • From Bad to Worse: Inverted with One's reasons to tell on her sibling during the campout in the episode I'm Telling! At first, One has good reasons to tell on them, like Four planning to have Seven climb up an incredibly unstable stack of books to reach an ENORMOUS suitcase for Six to pack a bunch of clothes that she does not need at all for one night in the backyard and use Five as a safety landing, and then Four planning to pack everything in the fridge to take to eat on the campout. But then she starts telling on them for smaller and smaller things like Four not sharing the snacks, Seven yelling at her when she tries to help, and Six sticking her tongue out at her. Mom even lampshades this:
    Mom: (sighs) One..maybe these things are not all that serious being.
  • Furry Female Mane: Both One and Six have human-like hair despite being furry (although Six's face isn't). Three also has a mop of human-like hair, however, as do Two and Seven (though they don't look furry).
  • Gentle Giant: All of them quite literally.
  • Grocery Store Episode: The first episode, "Good Morning", begins with the monsters waking up to find they have no milk and deciding to take a trip to the store to buy some more. One is in charge of the others until they realize Six was left behind on the bus by accident, leading to Four being put in charge so that One and Three can go chase after the bus. While the others are causing chaos in the store, Seven loses his head, which ends up in the shopping kart of an old lady who thinks it's a watermelon.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Three and Four. Three wears an oversized long sleeve while Four sports a yellow t-shirt and purple top hat.
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: The monsters' mother is a human, so presumably their father is a monster - especially since their mother often points out that Two reminds her of him...
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Presumably the monsters' parents.
  • In Name Only: The monsters share the same names and basic designs from the original picture book by Maurice Sendak, but the series otherwise shares nothing in common with it.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Four's siblings in "It's a Wonder-Four Life." Five keeps him awake by playing loudly, One accidentally destroys his hat while vacuuming, Six wrecks a project he's working on by dancing too close, and Two uses up all the hot water in the tub. That night, he rashly wishes he didn't have any brothers or sisters...
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: Inverted in "It's A Wonder-Four Life". Four wishes he didn't have siblings, and is shown a world where he is an only child and everything is about him. After what should have been a perfect day for him, he winds up feeling lonely, which makes him appreciate his siblings more.
  • It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: In "You Are What You Eat" Five enters a pie-eating contest, so Four decides to help him prepare. The problem is, he decides that Five should only eat pie until the contest, while he eats all of Five's regular meals in addition to his own. This makes both of them horribly sick, and Five gets so hooked on pie that he can't stop eating it even if he wants to.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: All the monsters are this to some degree, but Four is the most prominent example.
  • Kaiju: All 7 monsters are pretty large.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In "April Fools," when Two and Seven are building the set for their play, Seven tells Two he will count the pieces of wood they have "for the benefit of anyone who might be watching." Within the context of the story, he means anyone watching the play they will later put on, but the audience could just as easily interpret it as anyone watching the show.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: Except they're monsters instead of anthropomorphic animals.
  • Literal-Minded: Several characters have moments of this. Two is especially prone to this- in "The Whole Tooth", he does it twice in the same scene.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: The titular seven monsters themselves.
  • Mistaken for Dying: Sam the turtle in "Losing Sam." He falls out the window onto the roof, but the monsters think he was sucked down the tub drain (Five was taking a bath and left the room for a moment).
  • Non-Indicative Name: Yes, there's seven of them. They are indeed monsters. Little? Yeah, no.
  • "Number of Objects" Title: Seven Little Monsters.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: This exchange in "Out of Sight":
    Six: (reading a sign) "Dr. See: Eye Care."
    Three: Well, I care too, Six. That's very nice of you.
    Two: No, Three, eye care. See? Eye care!
    Seven: Oh no, Two. The doctor's name is "See", not "Three."
    One: I don't care what his name is.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: They're roughly nine to ten foot monsters who look and sound full grown, but their lives are basically the same as those of normal children in a large family with most of the episodes dealing with family dynamics.
  • Parental Abandonment: The monsters think their mom has done this in "Runaway Mom." She hasn't, of course.
  • Plot Hole: At the end of It's a Wonder-Four Life, Chef Three and Seven bake Four his own batch of donuts, claiming it was to make up for the fact that he didn't have any the previous night. This never occurs onscreen, but likely occurred in a deleted scene that was cut for time.
  • Running Gag: The monsters often get stuck in doorways.
  • Serious Business: After a trip to the fire house, Seven becomes worried that a fire could start at any minute, and doesn't appreciate his siblings making light of it. He even invokes this word for word.
  • Shout-Out:
    Seven: You were there... and you... and you, and you were no help at all!
    • In "Bang! Zoom! To the Moon!" the scene where Four tosses his blueprints into the air is very reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
    • The monsters "Rutabaga pudding" song is set to the tune of "Swing low, sweet chariot".
  • Sick Episode: Doctor, Doctor! Two gets a cold and can't go see a new movie with his siblings, so the monsters led by Three who is a Groucho Marx/Jerry Lewis-esque doctor, try to cure him...but fail and end up getting sick themselves.
  • Skyward Scream: Five does one when Sammy the turtle goes missing.
  • Slice of Life: See Our Monsters Are Different.
  • Super Strength: They all posses this due to their size.
  • Tempting Fate: In the first episode, Seven accidentally swaps his head with a watermelon. Once he gets it back he declares, "That will never happen again." Spoiler alert: It does.
  • Title Theme Tune: Performed by Barenaked Ladies at that! The only other words in the song besides the title are "They cause trouble, there they go!"
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: One and Six respectively.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Four goes through one in "It's a Wonder-Four Life", leading him to wish he was an only child.
  • Two Shorts: The first two seasons had one half-hour story, while the third season used two 11-minute stories.
  • Unexplained Accent: Their mother is a Funny Foreigner, but the monsters speak clear English... Well, except Five.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Nobody bats an eyelid at a bunch of giagantic monsters running around.
  • Vengeful Vending Machine: Four tries his hardest to get a sheriff's badge from a prize machine, only for it to keep giving him princess crowns.
  • Very Special Episode: "Losing Sam." In this case, Sam wasn't even in danger of dying (unless he fell off the roof), the monsters just thought he was.
  • Villain Song: "How Fabulous it is to Be a Four" in "It's a Wonder-Four Life." Loose definition of "villain" here, but it's still a song about how he wishes his siblings didn't exist.
  • A Weighty Aesop: In "You Are What You Eat." Five gets very sick from eating nothing but pie, while Four suffers ill effects from overeating.
  • Who's on First?: Because their names are numbers, this happens rather frequently.
  • World of Chaos: In "Dinner for Breakfast."
  • Yellow Eyes of Sneakiness: Subverted. They all have yellow eyes but none of them are particularly sneaky.
  • You Are Number 6: The monsters are named from One to Seven.