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Western Animation / Stanley

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It's Stanley!

Stanley (2001-2004) was a show about animals.

And that's pretty much what it was about, it was about animals, not that it didn't try to teach lessons just like many other shows of this type.


The titular character was a six-year-old first-grader named Stanley. His pets are a goldfish named Dennis, a cat named Elsie, and a dog named Harry. He also has an older brother named Lionel and many adventures also involved his friends/classmates from school. He would use his Great Big Book of Everything to learn about the animals, or occasionally the Internet.

The show was seen for several years as part of the lineup of the Playhouse Disney block on Disney Channel and later the 24/7 Disney Junior network, but it eventually got pulled off that schedule, too.


Contains examples of the following tropes:

  • All Animals Are Dogs: The fox acted like a dog in "Watch Out for Lionels". It barked at the armadillo furiously.
  • Animal Gender-Bender: The companion book & CD-ROM Bird-Bonkers Stanley has a peacock with male plumage and feminine Tertiary Sexual Characteristics.
  • Animated Adaptation: The TV series is actually based on a property of books and CD-ROM games by Griff, whose name was lent as the family name for Stanley and his family.
  • Animorphism: Occasionally, Stanley would become the animal of the day inside the book. In the beaver and hummingbird episodes, for instance, his friends join in on the transformation.
  • Be the Ball: In "Watch Out for Lionels", the armadillo rolled up into a ball after the fox barked at it.
  • Berserk Button: The "Great Big Book of Everything" song is more or less this to Dennis.
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  • Big Brother Bully: Lionel is this to Stanley in earlier episodes, like in the episode "Watch Out for Lionels".
  • Big Brother Mentor: Lionel was this to Stanley in later episodes, like "A Little Squirrel Music".
  • Blind Without Them: Mr. Griff states that he can't see a thing without his glasses.
  • Cassandra Truth: Happens with Stanley on those occasions when he excuses his actions regarding something Great Big Book related by simply telling the truth. "I have to go chase after a snake." (Beat) "Oh, Stanley, don't joke with me like that. You know I hate snakes."
  • Character Title: It's Stanley, Stanley Griff, lover of animals.
  • Charlie Brown Baldness: Both Stanley and his best friend Lester have only a few strands of hair and that's it.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: "Kangaroo Clean-Up" has Stanley's parents telling him to clean up his room or he'll lose dessert.
  • Edutainment Show: When not specifically teaching information about animals, it was of the pro-social values and good behaviors type.
  • Elephants Never Forget: In "Remembering With Elephants", Stanley has a tough time remembering where his other sneaker is so that once he finds it, he can go to the supermarket with his mother. He says that he wishes he were an elephant because elephants never forget, so he and Dennis go into the Great Big Book of Everything to find out if the saying is true. He soon learns that the reason behind this saying is because elephants always retrace their steps to the watering holes they visit. This helps Stanley retrace his steps to where he last left his other sneaker.
  • Embarrassingly Painful Sunburn: "Sunburn Stanley" has Stanley getting one during a trip to the beach after ignoring his parents' advice to put on sunscreen. He goes as red as a lobster over a large part of his body and ends up learning about lobsters from The Great Big Book of Everything.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: One episode was about the Tyrannosaurus rex, while the TV movie has Brachiosaurus as the main dinosaur of focus.
  • Every Episode Ending: Almost every episode ends with Stanley going to bed and telling Dennis what he learned in the episode.
  • Fake Interactivity: Dennis, as the designated Fourth-Wall Observer, uses this to quiz viewers on animal facts and occasionally at other times.
  • Great Big Book of Everything: Trope Namer. Given to him by his Grandma Griff. A very special book — not only does it contain an A-Z of animals, but it also contains magic properties. Stanley and others can "skidoo" inside it, and the animals can escape from the book. However, even though the book in the show is referred to by its title, we only learn what it contains about animals.
  • Green Aesop: The Earth Day story "Save the Bluebird," complete with an "Every Day is Earth Day" song performed by just about the entire cast, including Stanley's pets. Additionally, "The Way of the Buffalo" has a fairly big one about conservation, enough so for Disney Junior to choose it for their Earth Day 2013 airing, despite the Earth Day song in "Save the Bluebird." Occasionally shows up at other times as well, given that it is a show about animals, some of which are threatened or endangered.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Stanley's close with all three of his pets, but it's implied Dennis may have been his first pet, and therefore the one he is the closest to.
  • Hold Up Your Score: "Caterpillar Countdown" opens with Stanley tossing Harry a Frisbee, which he catches. Elsie holds up a 9, then impatiently urges Dennis to hold up his score. Harry whines about her 9, saying that he always gets 10s and Elsie suggests his best years are behind him, that he's missing the puppy-like spring he used to have. "Let's show them," suggests Harry. Stanley tosses the Frisbee again and Harry makes a stylish catch, resulting this time in a 10 from both Elsie and Dennis.
  • Hollywood Chameleons: Defied in "The Color of Stanley"; Stanley becomes a chameleon, thinking it'll be cool to change colors at will. He soon learns that a chameleon's color changes are actually dictated by their moods.
  • Invisible to Normals / Narnia Time: Either or both may be responsible for why nobody ever seems to notice the absence of Stanley and his friends when they go inside The Great Big Book of Everything.
  • Leitmotif: In "A Boy's Best Friend is His Fish," the pet store owner, Mr. Finn, speaks with an Irish accent and every time he talks an Irish-sounding tune plays in the background.
  • Once per Episode: Stanley looks something up in the Great Big Book and Harry & Elsie perform their "Great Big Book of Everything" song, much to Dennis's dismay. Except in rare cases that Stanley goes online to look something up, in which case Harry and Elsie have an "online" variation of the song that they perform.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Harry and Elsie always appear to sing the song about the Big Book to annoy Dennis. In some cases though, they literally appear out of nowhere (a pool restroom, a beach, an aquarium, etc.). Even Dennis lampshades it.
    Dennis: Don't you think it's rather fishy how they pop up everywhere?!
  • Ostrich Head Hiding: In "Honest Ostrich", Stanley feels he let Marci down when he can't find a soccer ball she let him borrow for a big game, and he wishes that he could hide his head in the sand like an ostrich and forget the whole day. Dennis points out to him that ostriches don't really hide their heads in the sand, and after finding out the truth in the Great Big Book of Everything, he finds out that ostriches really duck their heads in the grass to avoid being spotted by predators. This isn't true either: ostriches don't hide their heads in the grass either to hide from predators. As the description says, they run.
  • Playground Song: In "Stanley's Dinosaur Round-up," Stanley and his friends perform "The Song That Gets on Everybody's Nerves."
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Again, the pets are all close, but Harry and Elsie appear to be each other's best friends too.
  • Record Needle Scratch: This is sometimes, but not always, used to introduce "The Great Big Book of Everything" song, or its second verse.
  • Red Is Heroic: Stanley, the main character, wears a red shirt.
  • Sanity Slippage: Elsie experiences one when she grows tired of waiting for the butterfly to emerge from its chrysalis in "Caterpillar Countdown."
  • Shout-Out:
    • There are several related to horses. In "Horsepower," both when Stanley first looks up horses in The Great Big Book of Everything and when one comes out of it, a bit of the theme from Green Acres is played. Additionally, Harry and Elsie reference the lyrics from the theme of Mister Ed when they perform the "Great Big Book of Everything" song. And in ''Stanley's Dinosaur Round-Up," when Stanley asks what kind of animals are at the dude ranch, Mr. Griff states "they have horses, of courses."
    • When Dennis performs the "Good as Gold" song because he fears he's being replaced with another pet, the shades that he wears and general stylings are definitely reminiscent of Elton John. This seems to be have been confirmed officially in a comment by one of the show's storyboard artists.
  • Sick Episode: "Sick Day Stanley" - Stanley has a cold and can't go out to play baseball. He learns about the importance of rest when you're sick.
  • Smelly Skunk: The episode "PU Pup" focuses on them. Interestingly in that, while Harry does get skunked, the episode explains that the skunk was just defending itself and they don't stink 24/7.
  • Status Quo Is God: In "Sheep and a Haircut," Mrs. Griff gets a new hairstyle, which Stanley has to get used to, the Aesop being that change can be good. In the next episode, however, her hairstyle is right back to the one seen on her throughout the series.
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: When Harry and Elsie are joking around, Elsie often plays the straight cat to Harry's wise dog.
  • Surprise Party: In "Dolphin Talk," it is Harry's birthday, and Stanley, Mimi, and Marci, Dennis, and Elsie are all throwing him a surprise party, but he keeps popping up at inopportune moments when they're trying to get the party together. Thus, they go into The Great Big Book of Everything to learn about dolphin communication and settle on using hand signals to indicate to each other if Harry is about to show up. In the end, things work out great and Harry is very surprised as he had forgotten that it was his birthday.
  • Talking Animal: But only his pets, who only talk to him, his Grandma Griff and his immediate circle of friends
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: At one point in the TV movie, Dennis falsely believes that he won't have to hear The Great Book of Everything's annoying song when Harry and Elsie are otherwise occupied. Unfortunately for him, despite not knowing exactly what Stanley is going to look up, they make a pre-recorded message and succeed in reminding Dennis to never get his hopes up when it comes to their dedication to the song.
  • Tempting Fate: Dennis, every time that he decides that it's okay to say "The Great Big Book of Everything" because Harry and Elsie are A.) sleeping or B.) not around. He seems to wise up a bit as the series continues, but doesn't seem to realize that Harry and Elsie are also clever enough to show up even when someone doesn't say the name out loud, but simply references the book.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: In "Stanley's Great Dinosaur Round-Up," Stanley's Uncle Stew says this word-for-word before performing "Believe in Your Dreams."
  • Title Theme Tune: Performed by the Bahamian group Baha Men.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Marci and Mimi.
  • Weirdness Censor: On the rare occasions that anyone who is not Stanley, Grandma Griff, or one of Stanley's friends sees any weirdness associated with The Great Big Book (animals that have come out, etc.) or something like Harry & Elsie singing/talking, they will dismiss it as their eyes playing tricks on them or some sort of hallucination. One of the most blatant examples is in "A Boy's Best Friend Is His Fish" when Stanley and Mrs. Griff use a computer at the pet store to research goldfish and Mrs. Griff watches Harry and Elsie perform the online version of the The Great Big Book of Everything song, only to comment that that looked just like Harry and Elsie, but it couldn't be. Elsie then winks directly at Stanley from the monitor.
  • You Can Say That Again: Stanley says this after Elsie tells him "Boy, do you have a problem" in "Kangaroo Cleanup," so Elsie does so. Harry then enters the room— "Hey, Stanley, did you hear? You have a problem."
    Stanley: ALRIGHT, ALREADY!


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