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Western Animation / The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants

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So George and Harold make comic books
(We're cool!) (Me, too!) Season 4
But they had a mean old principal Season 3
Who told them what to— Season 3 S 4(Blah, blah, blah, blah!)
So they got a Hypno Ring Season 3
And first they made him dance Season 4
Then accidentally, kinda on purpose
Turned him into Captain Underpants (Tra-la-laaaa!) Season 4
With a snap, he's the Captain
Not the brightest man Season 3 Season 4
And don’t forget when he gets wet
You’re back where you began! Season 3 (Blah, blah, blah!)
Put it all together
What could possibly go wrong?
Now this is the end of the Captain Underpants Season 4 song!
(By George Beard and Harold Hutchins.)
Tra-la-LA! Season 3 S 4

The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants is a DreamWorks Animation show based on the Captain Underpants novels by Dav Pilkey. Developed by Peter Hastings with narration from Sean Astin, this show follows the new adventures of Captain Underpants, a superhero who is actually a hypnotized elementary school principal Mr. Krupp (voiced by Nat Faxon) created by comic-book-writers, pranksters, and best friends George Beard and Harold Hutchins (Ramone Hamilton and Jay Gragnani). There's also tattletale genius Melvin Sneedly (Jorge Diaz), The Ace Erica Wang (Erica Luttrell), Alpha Bitch Jessica Gordon (Dayci Brookshire), and Steve "Gooch" Yamaguchi (Evan Kishiyama).

The first few episodes tend to center on George and Harold creating a comic book whose main villain would inadvertently become the Monster of the Week. However, as season 1 progresses, an overarching plot becomes evident, which leads to this formula being mostly abandoned (at least, the comics and the villains aren't quite as connected as they were previously).

Premiered on the Netflix streaming service on July 13, 2018. Season 2 premiered February 8, 2019, while season 3 premiered on July 19, 2019. Season 4 is called The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants in Space! and was released on July 11th, 2020.

The Epic Tropes of Captain Underpants:

  • Abusive Parents: Krupp's mom, Bernice. She calls him a disappointment, and when he did badly in his fourth grade talent show, she passed out rotten fruits and vegetables to the other kids to throw at him! Mother of the Year, everybody…
  • Actor Allusion: Right before fighting Captain Underpants, Splotch claims "There can be only one!" This is a reference to Clancy Brown's previous role in Highlander.
  • Academic Alpha Bitch: Melvin is a male example, always obsessing over his grades and looking down on others. Erica is a downplayed example, she thinks she is superior to her classmates but is mostly nice to them.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Bo doesn't mind that he was portrayed as a villain in one of George and Harold's comics.
  • Adaptational Diversity: The regular students have much more female characters than there were in the books.
  • Adapted Out: Edith the Lunch Lady from the film (not to be confused with Miss Edith Anthrope, Mr. Krupp's secretary), is notably absent, since the series is based on the original books rather than the film.
  • Advanced Tech 2000:
    • All of Melvin's inventions, just like in the books, follow the naming template of Somethingotron (or -ator, or etc) 2000.
    • Subverted in the interactive episode with Mr. Krupp's Autospoon 1000, which is pretty shoddy and underwhelming.
  • Affectionate Nickname: George and Harold have "Cap" for Captain Underpants and "Sarge" for Sergeant Boxers, both heroes of their own creation.
  • Agitated Item Stomping: To show Mr. Krupp how mad he is, Mr. Meaner begins jumping up and down on his cap and continues doing this while Mr. Krupp demonstrates how mad he is by shaking a metal cabinet and yelling at the top of his lungs.
  • Alpha Bitch: Jessica is a downplayed example, obsessing over her appearance (specifically her "haar") and mistreating her friend (Other Sophie). Mr. Krupp calls her "the mean girl with the hair" in episode 12 of the 2nd season.
  • Alternate Continuity: Some plot points and lines of dialogue suggest that the events of the books have still occurred in some manner within the series, but Mr. Krupp still turning into Captain Underpants as well as George and Harold continuing to make Captain Underpants comics implies that the events of the final two books never happened.
  • Alternate Identity Amnesia: Mr. Krupp doesn't remember what goes on when Captain Underpants is in charge and vice versa, though they do seem to share some memories and feelings since Cap recognizes Krupp's phone as his own and references things that only happened in Krupp's life and not his own fictional back story given by George and Harold.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Why and how Erica remembers the timeline where Mr. Krupp became a Corrupt Corporate Executive, even keeping an item from it, is left unexplained.
    • It's implied in the Season 2 finale that she's been receiving guidance from her future self who was able to time travel back to ensure their successful future.
    • Whenever Captain Underpants turns back into Krupp, the other kids are unfazed. Though it’s never explicitly stated if they know he's the same person or not.
  • Animate Inanimate Matter: One Monster of the Week, Claylossus, is a giant, hulking behemoth made entirely of lumpy clay.
  • Anticlimax: Season 1's finale ends with George, Harold, and Mr. Krupp kicked out of Jerome Horwitz Elementary, seemingly setting up Nothing Is the Same Anymore...And when season 2 starts, George and Harold's expulsion is reverted as their expulsion was deemed unlawful and Mr. Krupp quickly got rehired, albeit as vice principal.
  • Arc Villain: Melvin arguably falls into this throughout Season 1, as almost every catastrophic event, along with several of the villains of the week, can be traced back to his inventions, his selfish desires, or both.
    • In Season 2, he continues this role alongside his future self, Melvinborg, in the hopes of getting admitted into Eliteanati Academy at the expense of everyone else's education and happiness. But he does end up pulling a Heel–Face Turn in the season 2 finale.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In episode 5, Mr. Ree explains what T.E.R.D.S. is; a giant toilet created by the government to get rid of dangerous threats to mankind, such as poisonous chemicals, weapons of mass destruction… and envelopes.
    George: Envelopes?
    Mr. Ree: Ever gotten a paper cut from one of those bad boys?
    • Mr. Ree also pulled this off earlier, in the same episode:
    Mr. Ree: The whole jug?!!? You've doomed us all! That stuff's experimental, unpredictable, and kinda pricey!
  • Artistic License – History: Everything with Ripticus.
  • Art Shift: In ep 10 at camp, each character continuing the epic potato story has their part animated in a different style.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: This happens twice in the Season 2 finale, courtesy of Melvinborg’s nanobots. First it’s Melvin near the end of Part 1, then it’s Captain Underpants in Part 2, with a bit of Brainwashed and Crazy on top of it.
    • In the Hack-O-Ween special, Melvin creates a machine that transforms the giant inflatable Hack-O-Ween balloons (Doctorca, Scorponion, Frobra) into living monsters.
    • The Construction-fu robot in the interactive special.
  • Bait-and-Switch: George and Harold become worried when it looks like Erica is going to turn into a "vimpire" like they'd portrayed her in their comic book. Turns out that Jessica is the one who becomes a "vimpire"; all the symptoms Erica was displaying were faked as part of her revenge scheme against them.
  • Basilisk and Cockatrice: Season 3 introduces a "Barfsilisk"; a giant, mutated chicken from George and Harold's comics that can make anyone who stares at it's eyes barf rainbows.
  • Being Evil Sucks: Laserlightmare, despite what it was created for, it always showed more interest in entertaining than actually containing the campers (rhyme completely intended). It even flat-out admitted to Melvin that being a living prison wasn’t the job it wanted.
  • Big Eater: Mr. Krupp/Captain Underpants, with Mr. Krupp being a compulsive overeater who even hides in the bathroom to consume large amounts of food and will eat food that's rotten and makes him immediately sick because he just can't hep himself.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Harold, George, and Melvin respectively.
  • Breaking Old Trends: Compared to previous season finales, Season 3 doesn't end on a Cliff Hanger Ending instead ending with the boys and Krupp enjoying themselves in a luxurious fashion.
  • Bright Is Not Good: Laserlightmare and Sugamechanger, two monsters of the week from season 3 feature bright colors (Played literally in the former's case, as it is made of pure light).
  • Breaking Old Trends: Unlike any other Captain Underpants media, the titles of the episodes aren't always completely alliterative, instead being acronym based, such as "The Terrifying Perilous Misfortune of the T.P. Mummy".
  • Broken Aesop: Unfortunately, it ends up happening a few times.
    • "The Soggy Salvation of the Swirling Sweatnami" was meant to have a message that there's some good in everyone, but considering the events, it actually ended up doing just the opposite.
    • In "The Blah Beat of the Blah Borelock", the message may have been meant to be that advertisement isn't always right, all until the end.
  • The Bus Came Back: In the fourth book, Mr. Fyde has a nervous breakdown and quits his job to go live in a rest home. Episode 6 depicts his return to the school and ultimately becoming the Monster of the Week.
    • In the Season 2 Finale, a majority of the villains/monsters that appeared in seasons 1 and 2 show up preparing to face off against George and Harold. Subverted when it's revealed that they're all just holograms meant to stall the boys from passing the test.
    • For the Season 3 Finale, Sargent Boxers, Plungerina, and several other heroes and villains make an appearance for the camp talent show.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • As usual, Mr. Krupp and Melvin have their moments, but one could just chalk it up to karma.
    • If Melvin’s not in this role in an episode, usually it’s Gooch or Other Sophie.
    • Jerry Citizen. Pretty much nothing goes right for him, which does no favors for his already cripplingly low self-esteem.
    • For the Halloween Special we get Creepy Rattlechains who suffers a lot of misfortune as the boys fight against Melvin and Krupp's ban on Halloween.
  • But Thou Must!: The Epic Choice-O-Rama won't allow you to take certain paths and will bring you back to the selection screen if you try to attempt them.
  • Call-Back: With this being an adaptation of the book series, various plot elements take references from the books.
    • In "The Terrifying Perilous Misfortune of the T.P. Mummy", George’s plan to get rid of their French teacher Ms. Yewh is to make a comic that embarrasses her so much, that she quits. Harold responds, “It’s worked before! Well, by accident.” This is a reference to Book 3, where the boys’ comic about the school lunch ladies is the final straw for them, and they quit.
    • Melvin's Future self being part cyborg who takes over the school is a reference to Book 6 with the plot point of how he initially planned to turn himself into a cyborg to gain more respect and credibility at Jerome Horwitz.
    • In Season 2 "The Bombastic Blathering of Brainy Blabulous", the boys transfer to a Bizarro version of their school where the school is in better quality and the teachers actually care about the students, much like the Purple Potty universe in Book 8. Also, based on Book 12, the main antagonist is an alternate version of Meaner who is gifted with super intelligence.
    • In The Movie, the driving conflict was Krupp threatening to place George and Harold in separate classes. In the season 2 finale, a similar conflict plays out where they discover at the last minute that they'll be going to separate summer camps. And in the season 3 premiere, it's revealed that Krupp was behind their separation.
    • In Episode 3 Season 3, we get a cameo of Piqua's space program aka P.O.O.P.S.I.E. from Book 7.
    • In the Epic Choice-O-Rama, Krupp is shown to pack sandwiches made of unconventional and junk-related ingredients. This is an ironic reference to Book 3 as Krupp was grossed out by the junk-filled sandwiches the boys prepared.
  • Camping Episode: Exaggerated. Season 3 is an entire camping season.
  • Canon Foreigner:
  • Catchphrase:
    • So good.
    • Captain Underpants has several:
      • Of course, the iconic TRA-LA-LAAAAA! And it's variations.
      • I'm mad X, yo!
      • If you say so. ( Shared with Krupp.)
  • Christmas Episode: "Captain Underpants: Mega Blissmas."
  • Cliffhanger:
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Captain Underpants, naturally, is kinda out of touch with reality, being an Idiot Hero and all.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: George and Harold have to keep an eye on Captain Underpants and instruct him in battle as he is easily distracted and not very good at comprehending situations on his own.
  • Cold Open: Each episode opens with the narrator introducing George and Harold, and distinguishing them.
  • Comically Oversized Butt: In "The Frenzy Farts Of Flabby Flabulous", a character named Flabby Flabulous, an unflattering caricature of Mr. Meaner, who has an oversized butt. His butt got stuck on Melvin's machine which makes his butt absurdly big and becomes Flabby Flabulous. Mr. Meaner becomes offended by that character and goes to find George and Harold.
  • Comic Books Are Real: Teachers and Students of Jerome Horwitz were always turned into the Monster of the Week as inspired by the two boys' comic books.
    Harold: This is a lot like the comic!
    George: We're good that way!
  • Continuity Nod: Season 3 makes more references to the previous seasons.
    • For starters, the creepy ventriloquist dummy that resembles Krupp is shown in the first episode.
    • Episode 2 references the Advancimals including George and Harold creating their own versions of the Advancimals to defeat the out of control animals.
    • The "Krupp Brain Council" makes multiple appearances as well as introducing more members to the group.
    • In Episode 4, Captain Underpants mentions having a "Super Stomach" which he had as a superpower in the comic in "The Harmful Horrors of the Harrowing Hiveschool."
    • In Episode 5, Diddly's Pizzeria is shown to now sell merchandise as Krupp uses a piggy bank with the same dinosaur theme. Krupp is also shown pulling out Cap's rainbow unicorn pen and his pet shark from previous episodes when emptying his pocket.
    • In Episode 6, George and Harold mention having met Mr. Krupp's mom. Jessica also displays her knowledge of sailing after her whale saving adventure in Season 1. Also also, the announcer of the regatta race advertises the T.P. Teepee.
    • And in Episode 9, Krupp yells out his "I Am a Mountain" prep phrase from season 1.
    • In the first episode of Season 4, we learn that Krupp’s high school was named after Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, who was mentioned all the way back in “The Dreadful Debacle of DJ Drowsy Drawers“.
  • Cool Big Sister: Erica is one to the other kids in the "Krupp becomes a Corrupt Corporate Executive" timeline. She also has moments of this towards George and Harold throughout the series.
  • Couch Gag: George and Harold switching the letters around on the Netflix Original card.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Parodied. Back sometime in the late 90's, Mr. Ree and his T.E.R.D.S. team attempted to flush a pile of envelopes down a gigantic toilet...only for the toilet to clog and overflow, resulting in the injury (and potential deaths) of almost everyone involved. In the present, Mr. Ree blames himself for not being able to stop it.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Almost everyone in the show has their moments of this, but special mention goes to both Erica and Mr. Ree.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Even after seeing Ms. Yewh’s been turned into a toilet paper monster, Mr. Krupp still treats the situation casually and calmly. Even after she describes her plans to take all the TP and make everyone bow before her, he still remains unfazed.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: in one episode Captain Underpants tosses a golf club straight into space out of frustration, prompting concerned looks from George and Harold.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: No one likes the comic George and Harold use to mock Erica.
    • George and Harold themselves have this reaction to Diddlysaurus’s idea for a prank; slipping laxatives to the entire school faculty, then locking all the bathroom doors so they couldn’t get in to use the toilet.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: This is what causes Smartsy Fartsy to turn on George and Harold in episode 12.
  • Early Installment Character-Design Difference: Some of the children have rosy cheeks in the first few episodes.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In the season 2 finale Melvin is horrifed when his future counterpart attempts to leave George and Harold behind in the nanobots husk.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Yes, Krupp asked Melvin to find a way to keep the other kids afraid of Bo Hweemuth in the Claylossus episode, but even he thought Melvin turning Bo into an actual monster was going a bit too far. He only wanted to ruin Bo's reputation, not make him destroy the city.
    Mr. Krupp: When I said "make him a monster", I didn't mean make him a monster!
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows: Subverted in season 3 with the Barfilisk, a giant chicken-like monster that causes anyone that stares into its eyes to barf rainbows.
  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear: Melvin and Melvin-Borg suffer this at the end of "The Harmful Horrors of the Harrowing Hiveschool."
  • Expository Theme Tune: It even changes in the third season to fit the camp setting.
  • Expy: The symbiotic cloak of alien origin that ultimately takes the form of Captain Underpants is a shout-out to Marvel's own Venom.
    • Plungerina is an expy of Wolverine, even calling people "bub". Additionally, the villains whom she fights against, Cloggernaut and Clogneta, are based on X-Men villains Juggernaut and Magneto respectively.
    • With his cloaking abilities and paintball-based “hunting” skills, Camoflush could very well be a kid-friendly version of Predator.
  • F--:
    • Ms. Ribble gives a H grade, meaning "horrendous", to George and Harold for their homework assignments.
    • Later in the same episode, as part of the Homework Hydra, she gives Jessica a T grade, standing for "atrocious".
    Jessica: But atrocious begins with A!!
  • Fake-Hair Drama: Mr. Krupp not only has a toupee, he also has a whole set of wigs.
  • Franchise Zombie: Discussed In-Universe at the end of season 3. George and Harold wonder if the show is going to become one since the season ended on a high note and could easily be a series finale, then react positively to the idea of becoming this trope when they learn they're getting another season. The following season then makes a pastiche of this trope by invoking Recycled In SPACE as its premise.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • In episode 5, T.E.R.D.S. stands for Toilet Eliminator of Really Dangerous Stuff. George and Harold seem to like this acronym.
    • In episode 8, Judge J.O.R.T.S.’s name stands for Justice Order Righteousness Tenacity Shorts.
    • In episode 2 of season 2, the boys unite their friends to form the M.I.S.F.A.R.T.S. which stands for Mega Incredible Search Force Adventure Rescue Team Squad.
    • For Season 3, Krupp frequently mentions the F.U.N.C. which stands for Federation of United National Camps.
  • Future Me Scares Me: Melvin at first likes his future half-robot self, but eventually came to saw him as incompetent and created as many problems as he solved, opting to erase him from existence by changing the timeline.
  • Gainax Ending: The ending of In Space! is one. The kids arrive back on Earth to discover it's become a Melvin-themed Shout-Out to the ending of Planet of the Apes (1968). George and Harold use the Time Toad to fix it (with the implication that the events of the entire previous season were undone), and then a future version of Captain Underpants (with versions of George and Harold attached to his biceps) shows up, claiming that the future's in danger. Roll credits.
  • Gentle Giant: Bo Hweemuth. He towers over his classmates, and there are several rumors about him being a monster. But in reality, he’s a shy, sweet, lonely, talented sculptor who wouldn’t hurt a fly.
  • Giant Foot of Stomping: A brainwashed Captain Underpants attempts to do this to George, Harold, and the Melvins in "The Taxing Trauma of the Treacherous Tattle Trials Part 2".
  • Gilligan Cut: In Episode 5 of Season 2, the boys travel back in time to pick up a dinosaur for extra credit thinking that the task will be easy. It takes less than a minute for them to realize that the dinosaur they tried to pick was a dangerous carnivore.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The show prohibits any intense violence, so they can only be seen through safer sketches.
  • Grossout Show: At times.
  • Halloween Episode/Halloween Special: “The Spooky Tale of Captain Underpants: Hack-A-Ween”.
  • Hard-Work Montage: Exploited in Episode 6 of Season 3 where the boys and their friends make a boat out of trash, complete with music.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Captain Underpants has two of these, with bone puns in the Halloween Special and hand puns in Season 4's "Hangry Hypnosinger".
  • Hypocritical Humor: In episode 6, Mr. Krupp, who is known for his Hair-Trigger Temper, calls Mr. Fyde a “ticking time bomb”.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Keeping in touch with the books, each of the episode's titles have alliterative naming, and the name of the villain that episode was centered on, as taken from George and Harold's comic books, usually to create the overly long structure Captain Underpants and the [alliterative noun here] of the [alliteratively-named villain here].
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Implied with Captain Underpants, who in one episode says he has "no friends or obligations" and tries to get George and Harold to go on a hike with him, despite other episodes having them referring to themselves as his friends and even saying they love him.
  • I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You!: In the comic book of episode 12, Smartsy Fartsy tell Captain Underpants that he'll never find his fart bomb on top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. The Captain takes an hour to figure it out.
  • Improvised Clothes: In the books, Captain Underpants has no trouble finding a red-dotted fabric to make his cape out of (Usually the curtains in Krupp's office). In the series however Captain Underpants will just make do with any red material that happens to be nearby, including a red shirt, a tablecloth, or even a welcome mat.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: This exchange in "The Bizarre Bout of the Beastly Barfilisk":
    Melvin: Be my guest! Your stomach won’t last 10 seconds.
    Captain Underpants: Wrong! My super stomach can handle anything! Except spicy food, dairy, meat, fruit, nuts, grains, and vegetables. Oh! And liquid.
    Melvin: What does that leave?
    Captain Underpants: Marshmallows!
  • Ironic Echo: We were given one that was two seasons apart.
    • In Season 1, Mr. Krupp has been counting George and Harold's trips to his office over the course of the season, as 500 visits would warrant an immediate expulsion. George and Harold try to steal Krupp's school rulebook, as he had been constantly rewriting rules for his own benefit, so they could give it to the Superintendent and have him fired. But once they do, they have a change of heart as they realize that while they'll always have each other no matter what, being Principal is all Mr. Krupp has. So, they return the rulebook to him, which marks visit 500, but once they apologize and accept the consequences, Mr. Krupp has a Heel Realization.
      Mr. Krupp: Wha…? …No. N-No… no… no… no… NOOOOOOOOOOOO! You can't do this to me! Not now! I was so close! But then you were nice! You even APOLOGIZED!
    • In the Season 3 finale, after Mr. Krupp tricked them into signing up for Summer Camp next year, only to turn around and tell them he's turning it into a salt mine, George and Harold plan to put on an epic play to impress Cash Networth so he can buy the camp and fire Krupp as Headmaster. And just when it all seems to fall into place for them, George and Harold have their own moral dilemma when Krupp gives them an Armor-Piercing Response.
      Mr. Krupp: George, Harold, you're not gonna let him get rid of me, are you?
      George: Are you insane?! Yes! We did this!
      Harold: So you never ruin another summer!
      Mr. Krupp: "Ruin"?! I just gave you the best summer of your lives! You need me. I'm the balloon to your air!
      Harold: He… he's right.
      George: No… NO! You can't do this to us! Not now! We were so close! But then you made sense!
  • Jerkass Ball: In "Captain Underpants and the Strange Strife of the Smelly Socktopus" Erica tricks George and Harold into getting suspended... for the sake of a prank. Unfortunately, it comes off as more cruel than funny since the suspension was played completely seriously, and (as Erica puts it) it is not fun.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: In the second half of the Season 2 finale, George, Harold and the Melvins travel inside Captain Underpants' brain to save him from out of control nanobots that are corrupting his mind for their nefarious purposes.
  • Kick the Dog: Melvin does it in the Claylossus episode. As if feeding the bad rumors about kind, lonely sculptor Bo wasn't enough, when George and Harold help show the other kids that he isn't that scary, he uses a machine to turn Bo into a monster against his will so that the school will still fear him. All so Mr. Krupp can give a letter of recommendation to the school of his choice.
  • The Killjoy: Mr. Krupp is deliberately this in regards to school dances. While there are laws preventing him from outright cancelling them, there's no rule saying he can't make them as dull as possible, with the aid of the noise-hating music teacher Ms. Hurd as the DJ. That is until George and Harold decide to liven things up a little with their antics.
  • Kraken and Leviathan: In “The Monstrous Mayhem of the Massive Melviathan”, the gang is pulled into a dimension where George and Harold’s dreams become reality, therefor allowing Melvin to trick the two of them into bringing Harold's worst nightmare to life: the titular Melviathan, an aquatic behemoth with a head resembling Melvin's. Thing is, it actually bears more similarities to the kraken than the monster it’s named after.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Tons. This show seems to love this trope.
  • Lame Rhyme Dodge: In "Preposterous Pulverizing of the Pestering Poopacabra" When Melvin and Melvin-Borg force Mr. Krupp to carry a huge heavy box into the school, then hammers a huge panel on the hallway wall.
    Melvin-Borg: Manual labor suits you vice Principal Krupp. By that, I mean you have opposable thumbs and a beating heart!
    Krupp: (growls) I swear, one day I will destroy you.
    Melvin-Borg: WHAT WAS THAT?!
    Krupp: Um, I said, uh... "Hi, there! Fun day. Why fill my toy shoe?”
    Melvin-Borg: Did you just replace the words you just said that you didn't want me to hear with random gibberish words that rhyme with those words?
    Krupp: No! No... Snow. Snow! (chuckles nervously)
  • Left the Background Music On: A Running Gag in "The Worrisome Wedge of the Water Warmongerers" has Dressy provide the background music for dramatic scenes.
    Dressy: Sorry, I just love songs about betrayal. Betrayal!
  • Lemony Narrator: The show has two of them: One used for the regular episodes and one used for George and Harold's comics. The regular narrator tends to be straightforward if a bit snarky at times, while the comic narrator is a Cloudcuckoolander who tends to go on bizarre tangents.
  • Life Imitates Art: In-Universe; almost every Monster of the Week is based on a villain from George and Harold's comics, much to their enjoyment.
  • Logo Joke: George and Harold draw the DreamWorks logo with Captain Underpants on it. He flies away, but his underwear is caught.
  • Made of Explodium: In the Cold Opening of "The Vexing Villainy of the Vile Vimpire", George and Harold create a comic where everything around Captain Underpants explodes.
  • Meaningful Name: Not only does Superintendent Vil Endenemys's name sound like "villain and enemies", it's also a Significant Anagram; rearrange the letters and they spell "Melvin Sneedly".
  • Medium Blending: Stop-motion animation is often used, mainly "Captain Underpants and the Costly Conundrum of the Calamitous Claylossus".
    • Usually, each O-Rama would rely on this trope.
    • The series also uses puppets of various types.
  • Monster of the Week: Runs on this formula, with various villains based on George and Harold's comics coming to life.
  • Mood Whiplash: The ending of the Season 1 finale. What starts out as a very heartwarming moment as the boys give Mr. Krupp his rule book back, causing him to have what could be the start of a Heel–Face Turn as he seriously considers not expelling them... takes a hard left turn as it’s revealed that Melvin went behind George and Harold’s backs, still gets Mr. Krupp fired (and the boys expelled on top of it), and takes over the school with his cyborg future self, ending the season on a Cliffhanger.
    • The same thing happens in the Season 2 finale. The boys finally succeed in defeating Melvinborg and are able to go to summer camp like they always wanted! There's just one problem. They're actually going to separate summer camps. The finale ends with the two boys sitting in separate buses while sad music plays in the background, leaving them along with the audience to wonder how they're going to resolve this problem.
  • Most Writers Are Male: In-Universe, Erica complains that George and Harold's comics need more female characters, preferably "strong" ones. Finding the task too daunting, the two vent their frustrations by writing a Captain Underpants story in which an evil vampire (based on Erica) sucks the fun out of everything. Understandably, not only does Erica hate it, so does the rest of the school.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Mr. Krupp says it nearly word for word after making Laserlightmare destroy the camp.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Mr. Krupp's mother had no name in the books, while here her name is Bernice.note 
  • Nanomachines: Season 2 episode 12 and 13 has them play a major part in the story. The first of which where Melvinborg injects his child self with them in order for the latter to win the Tattle Trials, which eventually cause him to grow into a gigantic version of himself after the machines are turned all the way up. In the next episode, the nanobots take over the doom dome, and eventually cause the same to happen with Captain Underpants, and brainwashing him, as the icing on the cake.
  • Nice Mean And In Between: A recurring theme between the students of Jerome Hortwitz, particularly the canon foreigners.
    • The three main girls introduced the series (excluding the Sophies) tend to fall into this, with Dressy, who's a kind, cheerful, and polite being the nice one, and Jessica as the mean one, being entitled, self-absorbed, and egocentric. Erica stays in-between, who, while good-hearted, is considerably more assertive and snarky than Dressy.
    • Jessica's girl posse also plays out like this. Other Sophie being the submissive doormat to Jessica, who recycles her role as the mean. Leaving Sophie One, the favorited Sophie, mediating between the two.
    • The male kids most primarily focused on in the series aside from George and Harold also come out like this.
  • No Budget: Parodied with the claymation sequence in "The Costly Conundrum of the Calamitous Claylossus". As the claymation battle went on, the studio lost more money and the animation got cheaper, to the extent that, by the end, all the characters were just misshapen blobs being waved around by visible human hands, and then, even the HANDS become too expensive to use.
  • No Fourth Wall: They are constantly acknowledging that they're in a TV show and can even hear and communicate with the narrator.
  • No Inside Voice: No matter the situation, Captain Underpants always shouts when he talks.
  • No Sense of Humor: Subverted with Melvin. Unlike in the movie, he does have somewhat of a sense of humor… it’s just that it’s incredibly dull. According to him, videos of rotting food are "can't miss comedy".
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Subverted. Season 1's finale ends with George, Harold, and Mr. Krupp kicked out of Jerome Horwitz Elementary, seemingly making season 2 take place outside of the school...And when season 2 starts, George and Harold's expulsion is reverted as their expulsion was deemed unlawful and Mr. Krupp quickly got rehired, albeit as vice principal.
  • Overly Long Gag: Several of the jokes and scenes in an episode end up running longer than preferred.
  • Painful Rhyme: The opening of the first two seasons rhymes "too" and "to" and both sound the same as they're homophones. The third season uses "too" to rhyme with "too" in its theme song as well.
  • Paint Ball Episode: Season 3’ “The Cunning Combat of the Covert Camoflush” revolves Mr. Ree’s younger brother Major Messy coming to camp for a free paintball game, and eventually becoming the Monster of the Week and turning the campers into his rebellious, rule-hating minions.
  • Papa Wolf: Don't mess with George and Harold, unless you wanna be ambushed by a dim-witted underwear superhero.
  • Parental Sexuality Squick: In the Halloween special, Harold spots the implications of Mr. Meaner becoming his mom's artistic muse and promptly goes into a Heroic BSoD.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": In the episode 5, George and Harold guess the code to enter the T.E.R.D.S Headquarters: 12. Sure, these numbers have another meaning, but how could Mr. Ree forget this?
  • Planet of Steves: Jessica calls her two best friends, the Sophies.
  • Plot Hole: In-Universe; To explain why he hates rich people so much, Mr. Krupp tells the kids a story about how he was a lonely orphan whose hopes for adoption were raised and then dashed by a rich person. George and Harold quickly point out that they've met Krupp's mom before.
  • Punny Name: As usual, especially among the teachers. Also, the new characters teaching at Jerome Horwitz, such as Ms. Yewh being a play on the French way to say "mister", "Monsieur" (as well as “miss you”), Bo Hweemuth being a play on the word "behemoth", Señor Citizen being a pun on "senior citizen", Mr. Ree being a pun on "mystery" (with his full name being a pun on 'toiletry,) Miss Anthrope's name being a pun on the term "misanthrope," Lee Dingman being a pun on "leading man" and Superintendent Vil Endenemys being a pun on Villain and Enemies.
  • Severely Specialized Store: "The Squishy Predicament of Stanley Peet's Stinky Pits" introduces the Avocadepot, a store that only sells avocados, while "The Terrifying Perilous Misfortune of the T.P. Mummy" involves the T.P. Teepee, which only sells toilet paper.
  • Race Lift:
    • Jessica Gordon was a minor character mentioned in Book 6, who was drawn as white and more closely resembled Harold's sister Heidi. Here, she's black and looks completely different.
    • Just like in the movie, Miss Anthrope and Mr. Fyde, who were both drawn as white in the books, are also now black.
  • Rapid Hair Growth:
    • Jessica’s "haar" gets zapped by one of Melvin’s inventions near the end of the first episode, making her already ridiculously huge hairdo even bigger.
    • In episode 12, George and Harold’s impending expulsion actually causes Mr. Krupp’s hair to start growing back. He winds up with a full head of hair in a matter of days.
  • Recycled In Space: Season 4, or as it’s known by its official title on Netflix, "The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants in Space".
  • Reused Character Design: Played for Laughs and exploited in each season.
    • In season 1 episode 3, the boys travel back to an Ancient Egyptian classroom and discover that the students look exactly like their friends only in Egyptian attire. Harold comments on the similarities while George states that the show doesn't have the budget for new character designs.
    • In season 2 episode 8, the boys are transferred to Herome Jorwitz where everyone, both student and faculty, is the same except they wear glasses and their names are Spoonerisms of their normal counterparts.
    • In season 3 episode 2, we're introduced to Mr. Meaner's twin sister Misty Meaner who is identical to her brother in both appearance and voice. Erica even lampshades how the artist must have taken Mr. Meaner's main design and added a ponytail.
    • In season 3 episode 6, the kids compete in a regatta race against a group of friendly rich kids who look exactly like George, Harold, Bo, Dressy and Melvin but richer.
    • In season 4 episode 4, the boys go to an alien town dubbed Utopiqua, where all of the characters have blue skin and Significant Anagrams as names.
  • The Reveal:
    • In the Season 1 finale, it’s revealed that Superintendent Vil Endenemys is in fact Melvin Sneedly’s future self. Oh, and he’s also a Cyborg.
    • The Season 2 finale reveals that the new Superintendent, Grace Wain, is Erica Wang’s future self, and President of the entire Earth.
  • Running Gag: Ms. Anthrope coming in to Mr. Krupp's office, though the principal doesn't want anything from her.
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: Used in the first episode when Mr. Meaner chases George and Harold around the school.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: George has a habit of doing this every now and then.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Mr. Krupp would arbitrarily write rules in the school rule book just so he can get George and Harold in trouble.
  • Self-Deprecating Humor: There are moments where the show acknowledges how it's cheap humor and average writing isn't something to be admired.
    • In the season 3 finale, George states that the show isn't going to win any awards with fart jokes.
    • In the Hack-O-Ween Special, while discussing how Advancimals ended up cancelled, Erica brings up several reasons that feel painfully similar to the Captain Underpants cartoon and the books.
    Erica: To be fair, with all the puns, toilet humor, and lazy writing, they had it coming.
    • In one of the space episodes, Mr Krupp dismissively says 'Any show set in space is a waste of time!' Cue everyone on screen turning to stare knowingly out of the fourth wall for a couple of seconds.
  • Series Fauxnale: The season 3 finale ends with George and Harold talking about how the season ended happily and wondering if the show is going to become a Franchise Zombie. A plane then flies by with a banner proclaiming that more episodes will be coming soon, which they respond happily to.
  • Shout-Out: This show is chock-full of them! It's so full that they had to make a whole page for it!
  • The Show of the Books: The show has been styled like the books.
  • Sickly Green Glow: After the nanobots made their way into Captain Underpants' brain, his eyes obtained a green glow.
  • Sleep Cute: Pretty much all the kids in the series have this custom, looking adorable as they snooze away.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: Invoked and lampshaded. The students and faculty of Herome Jorwitz, a Bizarro Universe of Jerome Horwitz, all wear glasses and Harold proclaims that all of them must be smart because of this trope.
  • Smell Phone: In the first episode, when the Monster of the Week Flabby Flabulous farts on our heroes, the Lemony Narrator tells the viewers to "turn down the smell on their TVs."
  • Smug Smiler: Erica Wang. While not an Insufferable Genius like Melvin and portrayed as either a good or neutral party in most episodes, she will often pop out of nowhere to smugly tell the boys she knows what they're up to or help them with their latest scheme.
  • Sour Outside, Sad Inside: A handful of episodes, particularly the Halloween special heavily hint Melvin to be this, as a flashback reveals that his hatred of the titular holiday originates from him never being invited to go trick-or-treating with them.
  • Springtime for Hitler: In the second episode, George and Harold play the prank of the episode in the hope of getting expelled from the boring dance. But they don't get more than their usual visit to Krupp's office.
  • Status Quo Is God: In general, due to the show's Negative Continuity and liberal use of a Snap Back, nothing ever tends to change, for the most part.
    • No matter how many times Melvin Sneedly has a Heel Realization, becomes popular, or allies with George and Harold, it doesn't stick at all, even in the big damn movies. Even if he has a change of heart, he'll go back to being a Jerkass by the next episode.
    • No matter how many times Mr. Krupp and George and Harold come to some sort of truce or ceasefire, by the next episode they're back to their usual pranks and punishment routine.
  • Story Branching: The "Captain Underpants Epic Choice-O-Rama" allows the viewer to change the direction of the storyline by providing them choices at certain parts of the episode.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Erica does this quite a few times. George and Harold even compare her to Batman in one episode.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Pointed out In-Universe in the Halloween Special. After Halloween has been banned in Piqua, Erica explains that the reason that most of the adults in Piqua don't like celebrating Halloween is because of all the work they have to do. From buying candy, setting up decorations, carving pumpkins, making/buying costumes, giving away free candy and having to deal with property damages due to unknown pranksters. For kids, Halloween is one of the greatest days in the year. But for adults, it's just another busy day for them with no proper payoff.
  • Strictly Formula: Most episodes go like this: George and Harold have an encounter with a teacher, they get sent to the principal's office, they make a comic about said teacher, the teacher somehow turns into the Monster of the Week, Krupp turns into Captain Underpants, the fight scene is presented in Flip-O-Rama, the teacher turns back to normal, Captain Underpants turns back into Krupp and gets distracted before he can realize what's happened, the episode ends.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • At the end of Episode 9, George and Harold are successful in getting themselves suspended on purpose. Unfortunately for them, their parents aren't as thrilled and they punish the boys by having them mow the lawn with their hands. As Erica tells them, suspension is terrible.
    • When George and Harold get expelled by Future Melvin, it's repealed almost immediately by the school superintendent because many of the rules the boys broke were rules Krupp added himself, which he didn't have the authority to do.
    • In "Captain Underpants and the Disturbing Dilemma of the Dysfunctional Doppelgängers", George and Harold try to get Livmen, Melvin's alien counterpart, to build something that can help in stopping their own alien counterparts. Because Livmen has been stuck in a coffee shop for a long time, thus not having any materials to work with on top of likely being rusty when it comes to inventing, only comes up with a new cappuccino flavor.
  • Take That!:
    • Zig-Zagged. While the majority of the kids in the show (including George and Harold) like Advancimals, the kids also know that the show was created to sell merchandise and suffers from lackluster writing.
    Announcer: Advancimals! This show was destined to fail!
    • In the interactive episode, Harold and George lament the cancellation of their favorite show Gorilla Lawyer, leading to this exchange:
    Harold: I just hope that we live long enough to see it get a reboot.
    George: ...So, in like a year?
  • Tears of Joy: Melvin sheds these upon George, Harold, and the other students taking a stand aganist the Ted Turdsley cycle.
  • Tempting Fate: In the TP Mummy episode:
    Narrator: This is Mr. Ree, the school janitor. He's a dedicated employee and definitely doesn't have a secret past...Ooh, I've said too much.
  • Time Machine: Melvin uses a "Time Toad", on which can be powered using peanut butter. The boys would end up using his machine throughout the series with varying results.
  • Toilet Humour: "The Terrifying Perilous Misfortune of the T.P. Mummy", in spades. For example, the thing that ends up saving the day is an oversized toilet called T.U.R.D.S.
  • Toilet Paper Prank: In "The Terrifying Perilous Misfortune of the T.P. Mummy", George and Harold cross the line by putting toilet paper everywhere. Mr. Krupp had them banned from the toilet paper store after the incident.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Jessica and the student body during the Butt-erfly invasion. Under Jessica's orders, they willingly throw George, Harold and Melvin out of the cafeteria to allow them to be eaten after they learn that they were responsible for the butt-erflies' creation. None of them face any repercussions afterwards.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Most of the Jerome Horwitz Elementary staff, if you can believe it. Yes, they still have their Jerkass moments (especially if they’re the Monster of the Week for that episode), and of course have low tolerance for George and Harold’s shenanigans, but they are nowhere near as cruel as they were in the books. They're honestly more hilariously incompetent than all-out Sadist Teachers.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Episode 6 shows us that Krupp has a rather... bizarre one; guacamole. It’s to the point that he can't help himself if it’s placed in front of him... even if it’s clearly spoiled.
  • Trash the Set: In Episode 11 of season 3, Krupp programs Melvin's security system, Laser Lightmare, to ruin everyone's fun which results in the complete annihilation of the summer camp.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Mr. Krupp used to nice and kind until after his failed dancing talent, he became a bit cold-hearted and it also explains why he's a mean principal.
  • Unexpected Kindness: The big twist of "The Costly Conundrum of the Calamitous Claylossus" is that George and Harold expect Bo to be a monstrous bully, and he does initially seem that way, but once they actually come face-to-face to him, he turns out to be a big sweetheart.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Erica at the end of Season 1. She is the one who suggests to George and Harold that they go to Superintendent Vil Endenemys to try to get Mr. Krupp fired before he can expel them, not knowing that Vil Endenemys is actually Melvin Sneedly’s future self, who not only fires Krupp, but expels George and Harold and takes over the school with Melvin.
  • Verbal Tic:
    • Mr Meaner's variations on 'Yep yep yep yep yep'.
    • Dressy's habit of singing some of her dialogue might count.
  • Villainous Crush: Melvin has one on Erica. But given his reputation, it's unlikely that she reciprocates it.
  • Vocal Evolution: Harold's voice gets a tad lower-pitched in later seasons.
  • Vomit Chain Reaction: "The Bizarre Bout of the Beastly Barfilisk" ends with Mr. Krupp and the kids all spewing arches of colors one by one due to the effect the titular beast's rainbow barf powers.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot:
    • Mr. Krupp vomited behind his desk after eating George and Harold's guacamole for their prank.
    • Another episode has George and Harold vomiting in their wigs.
    • Melvin hurls under the screen after getting a whiff of skunk-sprayed George and Harold.
    • At the end of the Hack-O-Ween special, Melvin eats a piece of candy and he hurls under the screen.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: In episode 2, Ms. Hurd has an Imagine Spot of a werewolf throwing up.
  • Wham Episode: The Season 1 finale, specifically the ending. George and Harold change their minds about giving Mr. Krupp’s rule book to the Superintendent to get him fired, so they enter Krupp’s office to give it back, but this marks office visit 500, so they’re gonna be expelled. Mr. Krupp is naturally elated... that is, until the boys give him back his rule book, apologize, and are willing to accept their fate. Mr. Krupp is so emotionally torn by this, that he has a minor Heel–Face Turn and is about to change his mind about expelling them. So everything’s okay now, right? WRONG! Turns out, Melvin, knowing that George and Harold wouldn’t have the hearts to actually go through with it, went behind their backs, switched the rule book with his mother’s cookbook, and gave the real rule book to the Superintendent, so Krupp still gets fired. And if that weren’t enough, the Superintendent goes around and expels George and Harold, too! Why would he do this? Because Superintendent Vil Endenemys is none other than Melvin Sneedly, specifically his future self. Oh, and he’s a Cyborg. Mr. Krupp, George, and Harold are then booted out of the school, and can only watch in horror as Melvin and Future Cyborg!Melvin take over.
  • Wham Line: At the end of Season 1, when George and Harold give Krupp his rule book back to him and apologize, Krupp is so touched by this that he can’t bring himself to expel them and pulls a Heel–Face Turn, until he opens the book and finds something very odd…
    Krupp: Wait a minute, this isn’t the rule book, (shows the pages, revealing that…) it’s a cookbook! A COOKBOOK!!
    • Then, there’s the end of Season 2. George and Harold end up with passing grades, securing them both spots to Lake Summer Camp note , until they see something very strange and find out a devastating revelation…
      Harold: Huh? Wait, why are there two buses?
      (The boys check over their camp paperwork; George's says "Camp Lake Summer Camp"… and Harold's says "Lake Summer Camp Camp")
      George and Harold: Two different camps!
    • And finally, Season 3 does too, except that it’s in the episode before the finale. In the episode, it seems like Mr. Krupp has pulled a Heel–Face Turn and made a camp a better place, and after the parents see this and sign the kids up to come back for next summer, George and Harold seemingly get the dream camp they wanted, and Krupp gets to keep his job as the camp director, Harold says it’s a win-win, but then Krupp says…
      Krupp: Actually, it’s just win… for me. Melvin was right. This is a hoax. All this great new stuff, the wavezoomers, the laser tag arena, the taco bar… gone. The moment your parents leave.
  • Wham Shot: In the Season 1 finale, after he fires Krupp and expels George and Harold, Superintendent Vil Endenemys decides to humor the boys a bit by playing to their love of rearranging letters on signs, and asks them to rearrange his name. After a few tries, they finally rearrange the letters to reveal his true name to not only them, but the audience; MELVIN SNEEDLY. Even Melvin himself was shocked by this revelation!
    • In the end of the Season 2 finale, when George and Harold are excited to be finally going to Lake Summer Camp, they get confused when they see two buses, then look at their papers… and see that they’re both going to two different camps!
    • At the end of the penultimate Season 3 episode, when Harold mentions how he and George get to come back to Lake Summer Camp next summer, and Krupp gets to keep his job as camp director, if you look up a bit, you can see Krupp pull a Slasher Smile before saying his Wham Line.
  • With Friends Like These...: Jessica Gordon treats Other Sophie more like a slave than a friend. In a flashback in Season 3, we see that while Jessica was the only one to show up at Other Sophie’s birthday party, she almost immediately leaves, and steals all of Other Sophie’s birthday presents while she’s at it!
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Playfully parodied in "The Frantic Fury of the Fearsome Furculees". George and Harold recruited their friends (Erica, Bo, Gooch, Dressy, Jessica and the Sophies) based on a specific talent that they contribute to the search for Mr. Krupp. Once they've displayed their talent to help them, they immediately leave the search to have fun at the resort.


Epic Tales of Captain Underpan

The opening theme to "The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants".

How well does it match the trope?

4.75 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / ExpositoryThemeTune

Media sources: