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Western Animation / The Foxbusters

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The Foxbusters is a British animation series, very loosely based on the Dick King-Smith book The Fox Busters. It was made by Cosgrove Hall and consists of two 13-episode series, each episode running 11 minutes, made between 1999 and 2000. The show was co-written by the animation partnership of David Max Freedman and Alan Gilbey, and occasionally with Joel Jessup as a third writer. It was directed by Jon Doyle.

The show is primarily set on Foxearth Farm, a fictional farm based in the English countryside, which is dominated by a variety of animals, particularly the chickens. The Foxbusters are three chickens, Ransome, Sims and Jeffries, who have the unlikely ability to fly. Each has a different personality; Ransome is the best flyer, Sims is the smartest and Jeffries is the comic relief. The Foxbusters also have the ability to spit grit like machine guns, and drop hard-boiled eggs as if they were bombs—and these are used to effect among other methods to keep the hungry pack of foxes in Foxearth Forest at bay.

The arguments and conversations among the chickens makes an effective comedy. The foxes' attempts to get the better of the chickens are often unsuccessful, but they add a lot of humour to the show. The show itself is laden with gags and action, and is of a quality which led to its receiving two major awards in 2000. One was a BAFTA for 'Best Animated Series' and the other was from the British Animation Awards for 'Best Children's Series'.

Despite being a critical success, the show did not enjoy the same level of commercial success as some of its competitors. While not seeing much commercial success upon release, in more recent years the show has picked up a cult following, particularly in furry fandom.

Tropes include:

  • Accidental Hero: Todd becomes one to the foxes when he's snagged by a hang-glider and unwittingly knocks Ransome and Sims right out of the sky.
  • Action Girl: The Foxbusters themselves.
  • Actor Allusion: In "Peace", when Sims reluctantly gives Genghis back to the foxes, she asks them to encourage him to become a vegetarian. Her voice acterss, Joanna Lumley, is a vegetarian.
  • Affably Evil: While many of the foxes are portrayed with something of an attitude, they can be courteous to one another. This especially applies to Todd, who's generally well-going and friendly. Rotter the otter is also a villain, but is incredibly polite about it.
    Voracious: (To Icky) Good evening, my name is Voracious - King of the Foxes and you must be... aah, let me see... ah, yes, my midnight snack!
  • Affectionate Parody: Of The Dam Busters. The episodes "Ackluckalypse Now" and "The Not-so Great Escape" also count.
  • Amusing Injuries
  • Animal Talk
  • Attack Of The50ft Whatever: The episode "Big Trouble".
  • Badly Battered Babysitter: Voracious, Attila, Evita, Todd and Jeffries all suffer from being bitten by Voracious' son Ghengis at some point during "Three Hens And A Baby" when they babysit him.
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: Jeffries is the beauty, Sims is the brains, and Ransome is the brawn.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Jeffries does all kinds of things that wouldn't be possible to do. Even Sims points this out in one episode.
  • Big Bad: King Voracious
  • Big Eater: Jeffries has been referred to by the foxes as "The Fat One" at least once, and although she takes offence to this even she refers to herself as this at one point.
  • Black Sheep: Todd, who is the only fox who doesn't actually possess any malicious intent towards the chickens. He's also the Token Good Teammate among the foxes.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Jeffries does this a lot, and on occasion Todd.
  • Chekhov's Gag: The "Salad Squad", started as a gag about cucumbers based off Ransome's attempt to make a loyal army out of sheep, comes into play in the climax when Jeffries uses them to bombard Voracious.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Both Jeffries and Todd demonstrate this quality. The former's proposal for an escape plan from a trapped tunnel was to leave a message for "highly-advanced chicken archeologists" to uncover and rescue them.
  • Cunning Like a Fox: The antagonists, duh.
  • Cycle of Revenge/The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: Voracious has a nightmare to this effect in "Peace", wherein the foxes' pursuit of the Foxbusters leads to the Foxbusters pursuing and hunting them down, as Voracious tries to defend his son. He later cites this as his motivation for trying to establish a peaceful coexistence between the foxes and chickens. It sadly doesn't last.
  • Death Glare: Evita, Attila and even Todd give one to Rotter after him catching eggs from the chickens in "The Trojan Chicken", with Evita stating that everything in the forest belongs to them.
    • Ransome gives a brief one to Sims in "The Long Walk Home", after the latter admitting that she faked having her wing injured to force them to walk home during a night mission.
    • In "Three Hens And a Baby", Voracious' son, Genghis, wanders off the forest after being babysat by Todd and ends up in the Foxearth Farm, where the Foxbusters try to nurture him. Voracious, finding out about this, thinks the Foxbusters have kidnapped his son and are holding him hostage and proceeds to give them anything they want in exchange for his son. Ransome abuses this offer by making ridiculous demands, which the foxes carry out. But when she makes one demand too much, that being a kitten for Jeffries, Voracious loses his cool and is visibly angry, making Ransome to take back the request.
  • Disapproving Look: Sims can be often seen wearing a sour, unimpressed look on her face.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Dog the dog is the textbook example.
    • Farmer Farmer could be taken as a human example.
  • Doomsday Device: Sims' growth gun in "Big Trouble".
  • Downer Ending: "Peace" concludes with the chickens and foxes' meeting to declare a final truce turning into an outright war, when Sims and the elder fox drop a boulder onto them. Sims laments her part in setting off the conflict to confirm her suspicions. And the revelation that both sides had catapults, hidden and at the ready, pretty much shoots down any real chance of reconciliation and peaceful coexistence.
    • Of the Sudden Downer Ending variety, "In the Beak-ginning" concludes with the triumphant Foxbusters' origin story and the ugly duckling gaining confidence. He then walks off to try becoming a hero himself, and is devoured offscreen by a fox. Cue the protagonists' horrified reactions and iris in on Jeffries crying. End of episode.
  • The Dragon: Attila. A popular fan theory is that he will eventually replace Voracious as leader of the foxes.
    • Attila's sister Evita often fills the role as Co-Dragon.
  • Dub Name Change: The Finnish dub, including examples like;
    • The Foxbusters > Ketunkaatajat
    • Ransome > Ulla
    • Sims > Kaija
    • Jeffries > Tytti
    • Icky > Immu
    • King Voracious > Kuningas Ahmaton
  • Eats Babies: At the beginning of one episode a fox is seen trying to eat a chick (the chick is saved by the Foxbusters moments later). On the other hand, in "In The Beak-ginning", a duckling actually does get eaten by one of the foxes off screen.
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Sims talks like this, although it's largely due to her accent.
  • Enemy Mine: After both sides are manipulated by Rotter the Otter throughout "The Trojan Chicken", the Foxbusters and foxes team up to foil Rotter's scheme and bombard him with eggs.
  • Enfante Terrible: Genghis, especially in "Three Hens and a Baby".
  • Evil Laugh: Voracious gives one after being accidentally turned big by Sims' growth gun.
  • Feather Fingers: The Foxbusters.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: Between Ransome and the antagonistic rival Hunter in "Day of the Hunter". This turns out to have been an Invoked Trope, on the orders of Voracious for Hunter to take out the Foxbusters, in exchange for the freedom of his wife and child.
  • Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better: While the foxes are often seen standing on four legs, they can be also at times seen standing on two legs.
  • Heli-Critter: Unlike her sisters, Jeffries achieves flight by spinning her tail feathers in a helicopter motion.
  • Humans Are Morons: Farmer Farmer, amongst several others.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: Vlad, wanting to butter his mate up, tells Evita that he loves the idea of having kids. Attila, who was saddled with Genghis shortly before, passes him onto Evita to watch over. Seeing this, Vlad tells Evita he "has a badger on the grill" and bails (Evita is not too impressed).
  • Jerkass: Ransome and King Voracious.
  • Killer Rabbit: Voracious and Voracity's son Ghengis is a cute fox cub with a sadistic habit of biting anything and anyone.
  • Landslide Election: In "See the Dog, See the Dog Run", Dog the dog wins the farmyard leadership election with almost every single vote (Sims' and Ransom's only votes were from themselves). Dog however won by making promises he clearly could not deliver. It dramatically backfires on him later on.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Rotter the otter, especially in "The Trojan Chicken".
  • Meaningful Name: Voracious, Voracity and Rotter. Todd, too, in that it refers to an older word for "fox".
  • Misplaced Wildlife: A beaver appears briefly in a couple of episodes; although beavers are indiginous in Scotland, they are not found in England where the show is clearly set.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Jeffries assisted Dog the dog winning the farmyard election in "See the Dog, See the Dog Run", and it goes straight to Dog's head.
    Jeffries: Is it just me or have I created a monster?
    Ransome: Worse - it's a politician!
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: Of the three Foxbusters, Jeffries is nice (good-natured and sweet), Sims is mean (pompous and uptight) and Ransome is in-between (cocky and arrogant, yet also affable and jovial).
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: In the pilot trailer all of the Foxbusters had these, which were removed from the final designs.
  • Origins Episode: "In the Beak-ginning" has Sims telling an ugly duckling (and eventually the whole farm) about how she, Ransome, and Jeffries became heroines, saving the chickens from the foxes with their flight.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: In "Follow My Leader" Voracious disguises himself as a ram by wearing a wooly coat and a pair of handlebars. In "Passing The Buck" the foxes paint themselves pink to disguise themselves as "Pink Patagonian Tree Rats" and the chickens actually fall for it.
  • Poirot Speak: Maurice the mole is French, despite living in the English countryside.
  • Power Trio: Sims, Ransome, and Jeffries.
  • Psychotic Smirk: The foxes. Especially Voracious.
  • Quarter Hour Short
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Volpone, the original leader of the foxes, was a likeable and resourceful leader who treated his pack well, unlike his son and successor Voracious. The Foxbusters' dad also counts.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In an attempt to make Voracious and Voracity rekindle their love (and theoretically become distracted by it), the Foxbusters set up the Spaghetti Kiss and "Kiss the Girl" scenes from Lady and the Tramp and The Little Mermaid (1989).
    • When the sheep begin to follow Ransome around, Dog admits it's not as humiliating as that time they started following a talking pig.
    • "Day of the Hunter" ends with Ransome and Hunter recreating the end of Casablanca, with Ransome acting as Rick and recanting the famous "You'll regret it" speech.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Ransome and Sims often butt heads over tactics. In "Where Egos Dare", they exploit this by playing Attila and Evita against each other.
  • Sibling Team: The Foxbusters are sisters and foxes Attila and Evita often scheme together.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Atilla is volatile and temperamental, while Evita is patient and practical.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: In "One Paw In The Grave", Volpone is ridiculed by the younger foxes because he insists that a simple trap involved a stick propping up a crate with some grain underneath as bait will work against the Foxbusters rather than the more complicated and elaborate schemes the other foxes favour.
    • Ultimately however, Volpone is the one who is successful in defeating the Foxbusters, but chooses not to share his captives with the other foxes because he doesn't feel they deserve it.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Sims in "Hen Night", though that is not what she had in mind to begin with.
  • Slasher Smile: The foxes, excluding Todd.
    • Ransome also gives a brief one in "The Long Walk Home" while throwing the goat's food at a rooster dressed up as a fox during their practice. Similar thing happens at the end of the episode with the animation recycled.
    • Jeffries gives a brief one in "Follow My Leader", complete with dramatic thunder effects, when Ransome tells her and Sims about how the sheep do everything she wants after rescuing their lamb.
    Jeffries: Ooh! The power!
  • Tastes Like Chicken: One fox mentions this when he is unwittingly fed frog spawn by Todd.
  • Terrible Trio: Attila, Evita and Todd.
  • The Ditz: Jeffries and Todd.
  • They Called Me Mad!: Sims right at the beginning of "Big Trouble".
  • Too Clever by Half: Both the Foxbusters and the foxes suffer from this from time to time.
  • Toothy Bird
  • Trojan Horse: "The Trojan Chicken", which consists of Rotter manipulating the foxes into trying to infiltrate the farm by using a giant chicken restaurant mascot.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Attila, Evita and Todd.
  • Unexplained Accent: Ransome. She has an African-American accent cue her voice actress Whoopi Goldberg.
    • Todd's accent has also raised questions.
  • Villain Episode: Todd is the central character in "Winging It", and a number of other episodes revolve around Voracious.
  • Weather-Control Machine: Lampshaded in "Big Trouble".
  • We Need a Distraction: Played on Farmer Farmer in some episodes.
  • When I Was Your Age...: The Foxbusters' dad and Volpone the fox, respectively.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Voracious isn't above expressing violence towards the vixens in his pack such as Evita and even his own wife Voracity.
  • Yellow Eyes of Sneakiness: The foxes.