The bears were Hair Bear (Daws Butler), so called because of his big orange afro; Bubi Bear (Paul Winchell), who speaks in gibberish quite often, and Square Bear (Bill Callaway), a clumsy lumberer with a big appetite, and the strange ability to ride a non-existent motorcycle.
The show was created by Joe Ruby and Ken Spears (who scripted the debut episode). It was developed as "The Yo-Yo Bears" and was renamed some two months before it hit the air on CBS September 11, 1971. It ran one year, was shelved, then returned in replays in September 1973. It ran Sunday mornings then was moved to Saturdays in February 1974 after CBS revamped its Saturday line-up. It was canceled that fall and remained dormant until 1984 when USA Network ran it on its Cartoon Express block. Cartoon Network and its sister channel, Boomerang, have also run the series.
This series provides examples of:
- Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: Just about every denizen of the zoo wears an article of clothing.
- Acronym and Abbreviation Overload: Bananas the Gorilla is disguised as a doctor treating Square Bear (feigning an injury to get three hots and a cot from zookeeper Peevly). He identifies himself as Dr. Rudolph Von Faker—M.D., Ph. D., A.B. and P.D.Q.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: "Raffle Ruckus," Hair Bear is so weary from being the zoo owner (which he won through a raffle he staged) that Bubi suggests he beg Mr. Peevly (the zoo's actual keeper) to take it back. "No one makes Hair Bear beg!" he states firmly. But when the phone rings with another possible complaint from the animals, Hair starts crawling out the cave on his knees to Peevly's office.
- A Lizard Named "Liz": Features denizens of Wonderland Zoo with names like Stretch the Giraffe, Stripes the Zebra, Furface the Lion, Giggles the Hyena and Pipsqueak the Mouse.
- All There in the Manual: Among the other animals in the zoo, there's a hyena. While never mentioned on the show, the model sheets reveal his name is Giggles.
- Ambulance Cut: In "Love Bug Bungle," two policeman radio for an ambulance after Botch tells them that he and Peevly were chasing three bears on an invisible motorcycle.
- And a Diet Coke: In "Ark Lark," all the zoo animals are in the royal suite of a resort hotel. Hair Bear calls room service and orders a laundry list of the animals' usual staples and tops it off with "a finger bowl."
- Animal Athlete Loophole: Averted when Bananas the Gorilla enters a wrestling contest. He wins but is later disqualified for being a gorilla.
- Answer Cut: In the episode "Whatever Happened To Goldilocks and the Three Bears?" has a movie director asking who would be dumb enough to play a chew toy of an evil prince in his revisionist version of the fairy tale (with the Bunch as the three bears). Right on cue:Peevly: They're around here somewhere, and I'm gonna find 'em!
- Are You Sure You Can Drive This Thing?: Bubi Bear seems to think he can drive a taxi in "No Space Like Home." He can't, so Hair Bear yanks him in the backseat, leaving the taxi the bears are in moving with no driver (Square Bear: "How 'bout that...relax and leave the driving to nobody!")
- Art Shift: In preliminary models, Hair Bear was given a jutting chin, similar to Scooby-Doo. It was later refined, but this preliminary version was briefly seen in the debut episode, "Keep Your Keeper", as well as throughout its comic book adaptation, "Zoo's Who" (Gold Key #1, February 1972).
- In the comics, Bubi's tank top is given more stripes as of issue #7. Also, Square Bear's hat is sideways, showing the wrinkles on his nose as where on the show his wrinkles are hidden with his hat turned to the front. Also, the superintendent in the comics looks nothing like the superintendent on the cartoon.
- A Taste of Defeat: The Bunch usually got the best of zookeeper Mr. Peevly. In the debut episode "Keep Your Keeper," Peevly actually wins. (Peevly is no antagonist or villain, he's simply a Punch Clock Butt-Monkey saddled with a zoo full of animals that don't take him seriously.)
- Awful Wedded Life: Almost happens to Peevly in "Bridal Boo Boo." The bears send his name to a singles club, and his bride-to-be is a plus-sized gung ho battleaxe:Peevly: Uh, Bertha, can't we talk about this marriage thing before we...?
Bertha: The only marriage talk I want out of you is "I do!"
- Balloon Belly: Square Bear in "The Diet Caper".
- Banana Peel: "The Bear Who Came to Dinner" has Square Bear slipping on a banana peel dropped by zookeeper Peevly and landing on his back. Hair Bear gets Square to fake a serious injury so he can threaten Peevly with an animal negligence suit if he doesn't nurse Square back to health. At the episode's climax, Botch slips on a banana peel Peevly errantly tosses, and Hair runs the threat again—this time in lieu of a promotion for Botch.
- Basso Profundo: In courtesy of John Stephenson, who voiced Mr. Peevly and The Superintendent.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: The bears will pull this once in a while. In "Ark Lark," they're disguised as tree surgeons wheeling an allegedly sick tree to the hospital as a ruse to escape. In "Gobs Of Gobaloons," they're interior decorators who give Peevly complimentary service so they can dig into the floor for a buried treasure. And in "Panda Pandemonium," they're, well, conducting a fire drill as an escape ruse.
- Big Eater: Square Bear. His appetite is put to the test after zookeeper Peevly puts the bears on a harsh diet in "The Diet Caper."
- Big Guy, Little Guy: Square Bear is the Big Guy and Bubi Bear is the Little Guy.
- Bitch Alert: Twinkles Sunshine, who has the role of Goldilocks in a movie made of the fairy tale, starts out as bitch from the first frame in which she appears in the episode "Whatever Happened to Goldilocks and the Three Bears."Director: Now, Twinkles...
Twinkles: (testily) The name is Miss Sunshine!
- Brawn Hilda: Bertha from the episode "Bridal Boo Boo" fits the bill. She's huge and extremely militant in that she takes over running the zoo upon her arrival. A clone of her appears in the finale "King Klong vs. The Masked Marvel" as a housewife who cuckolds her mousy husband into the wrestling ring to face the Marvel.
- Caffeine Failure: The episode "The Bear Who Came To Dinner" centers on Square Bear who is faking an injury that zookeeper Peevly is on the hook for. Square is in a body cast, so to ensure that he doesn't move from bed, Peevly tells Botch to watch him 24 hours a day. "And don't let me catch you asleep on the job, you hear?!" he charges. Botch eventually does fall asleep...with his eyes open, giving the bears the chance to sneak out to a drive-in movie.
- The Cameo: The Hair Bear Bunch appeared in live action costume forms in episodes of The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family. A robotic Hair Bear appeared in an episode of Dexter's Laboratory as part of a kids restaurant mechanical band.
- Cannot Keep a Secret: Mr. Peevly gives Bananas the Gorilla a bunch of bananas for being a loyal friend of The Hair Bear Bunch, and that he'd never tell the keepers to where they've escaped ("Panda Pandemonium"). Bananas concurs, "I'd never tell anyone that they've escaped to the carnival!"
- Can't You Read the Sign?: In "Raffle Ruckus", Hair Bear, having won the zoo in a raffle and now taking on a zookeeper's responsibilities, admonishes some visitors about not reading a "Do Not Feed The Animals" sign after Fumbo the elephant gets his trunk tied up in a fence post reaching for a visitor's peanut.
- Catchphrase: Mr. Peevly's "I'll get you for this, Hair!" Also, Botch's "There goes my promotion" whenever he goofs on something.
- Celebration Miscalculation: The bears sneak back into the zoo after a night out in town and fake being asleep when the keepers arrive at their cave. Peevly asks Hair where he got the party hat on his head, to which Hair says that they were celebrating Peevly's birthday.Peevly: My birthday isn't for six months!
Hair Bear: Nothing like getting a head start, sir.
- Chubby Chaser: Inversion; the episode "Bridal Boo Boo" has a plus-size "glamorous battle-axe" responding to head zookeeper Peevly's submission to a loving hearts club (the bears actually submitted it), and she ends up practically running the zoo.
- Circus Episode: The third act of the episode "Unbearable Peevly" takes place at a circus. Mr. Peevly and Botch had donned bear costumes so they could infiltrate the bunch and learn their escape routes out of the zoo. The bears lead them to a clearing where two circus trainers mistake the keepers as two of the circus' escaped dancing bears. Once at the circus, the Hair Bear Bunch strike a deal with Peevly to get him and Botch out of the circus.
- Claiming Via Flag: The zoo animals have escaped in an ark and gone ashore on what they think is undiscovered land. Hair Bear stakes claim to it and plants a flag—right onto Square Bear's foot.
- Coconut Meets Cranium: The bears discover Mr. Peevly's scheme to spy on them with closed-circuit TV when one of the cameras falls from one of the zoo's palm trees and plunks Square Bear on the head.
- Cold Opening:
- On the CBS run, only the first episode had a cold open—the 15 other episodes had the regular theme song opening and the pre-episode title teaser. Upon returning in 1984 to USA (and later CN and Boomerang), all the 15 other episodes were reformatted with cold opens.
- The DVD set has episodes seven through sixteen as CBS originally ran them—opening title, teaser, episode title and episode. The first six episodes are formatted with cold open teasers. All episodes have the "we'll be right back" bumpers as well.
- Color Failure: In the adaptation of the TV episode "Raffle Ruckus" (issue #4, Nov. 1972), Botch observes that Peevly always turns chameleon green whenever the superintendent calls.
- Comic-Book Adaptation: Nine issues from Gold Key Comics (February 1972–February 1974) and an appearance in issue #13 of Hanna-Barbera Fun-In (August 1974). All stories were drawn by H-B layout artist Jack Manning. Issues #1 through #4 and the first story of issue #5 were either truncated or very loose adaptations of TV episodes. Those stories:
- #1 - "Zoo's Who" (from "Keep Your Keeper").
- #2 - "No Space Like Home."
- #3 - "Love Bug Bungle."
- #4 - "Keepers Creepers" (very loosely from "Raffle Ruckus").
- #5 - "The Bogus Bears" (very loosely from "Rare Bear Bungle").
- Original stories:
- #5 - "The Hyp Grad": Hair uses hypnotism on Peevly and Botch.
- #6 - "Mission Fantastical": The bears are recruited to be secret agents; "The Striped Reindeer": Said ruminant steals the bears' thunder at the zoo.
- #7 - "Wild Wild West Wingding": After escaping from the keepers' wagon, the bears become sheriffs of a Western town; "The Great Switcheroo": The bears trick Peevly and Botch into searching for them outside the zoo so they can run the zoo themselves.
- #8 - "The Weirdo Map": Peevly issues the bears weekend passes into town where they find a map that is part of a plot to rob a bank; "The Hibernation Bit": Peevly brings in Hustle Bear who loves to keep busy.
- #9 - "The Vanishing Zoo Heroes": The statues of the zoo founders are disappearing and Peevly holds the bears responsible; "The Zoo Food Phantom": A masked thief is stealing the animals' food. (Bubi's name is misspelled as Bubbi in this story.)
- Fun-In #13 - "One Bunch Too Many": Peevly and Botch attend a masquerade party dressed like the Hair Bear Bunch; "The Sultan's Scimitar": A scimitar delivered to the zoo accidentally leads to an adventure in a foreign country for the bears.
- Counting to Potato: Towards the end of "Bridal Boo Boo," when Peevly discovers the bears sent his name to a singles club which led to him nearly getting married to a battleaxe, he sets about tripling, fourfling and fifthling Hair's demerits.
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: Botch suspects The Hair Bear Bunch is using a variety show in their cave as a ruse for them to escape (episode "Closed Circuit TV"), but Peevly, watching on his closed circuit monitor, is entertained by the proceedings. Turns out Botch was right — the bears are seen parachuting over the wall for a night on the town.
- Cut Phone Lines: In "The Bear Who Came To Dinner," Peevly is calling a doctor to give Square Bear a check-up so as to see if he's faking an injury. The call is intercepted atop a phone pole by Hair Bear, who is using Gabby the Parrot to impersonate the doctor's secretary.
- Dagwood Sandwich: In "I'll Zoo You Later," the bears enter the hideout of two bank robbers and raid their refrigerator. While Hair Bear makes himself a triple-triple-triple decker sandwich, he makes modest chicken dinners for Square and Bubi. Square makes a wish with the wishbone from the chicken ("I wish I had Hair Bear's sandwich!").
- Dating Service Disaster: The episode "Bridal Boo Boo" has the bears secretly sending Peevly's name to a lonely hearts club. A plus-sized battleaxe answers and not only wants to marry Peevly right away but also run the zoo.
- Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: In "Closed Circuit TV", the bears, putting on a show as Three Bear Night, get Mr. Peevly to do impressions and goad him into impersonating the zoo superintendent. He does so, unaware that the superintendent is watching in the office on Peevly's closed circuit monitor.
- Didn't Think This Through: In "Raffle Ruckus", Hair rigs a raffle so he'll win the zoo which was the prize. The bears think they have it easy as the zoo owners until the animals come to them with maintenance issues. They soon find out what Peevly goes through on a daily basis.
- Disguised in Drag: At the beginning of "I'll Zoo You Later", the bears try to sneak back into the zoo with Hair dressed as a mother (Bubi and Square are in a baby carriage hidden under a blanket).
- Later in the series, Hair Bear is dressed up as Mama Bear when the bears try out for a revisionist movie of the "Goldilocks" story. Botch dresses up as Goldilocks at the conclusion.
- Disqualification-Induced Victory: Botch wins a wrestling contest when the adversary who defeated him is disqualified for being a gorilla.
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The theme song is performed by the voice actors of the bears — Daws Butler (Hair Bear), Paul Winchell (Bubi), and Bill Calloway (Square).
- Don't Explain the Joke: In "Closed Circuit TV," the animals are staging a show in the bears' cave which Peevly and Botch are watching on their monitor in the office. Hair Bear cracks a joke:Hair: Did you hear the one about the zookeeper who was so weird looking the people fed him peanuts?
Botch: (laughing) Hey, that was a good one!
Peevly: (slow-burning the whole time) Yeah? Well, I didn't think it was so funny.
Botch: Did you get it, chief? The zookeeper was so weird—
Peevly: (angrily) I got it! I got it!
- Dream Reality Check: The episode "Raffle Ruckus" has Hair Bear winning the zoo in a raffle only to take on the same keeper responsibilities Peevly usually does. He's about to call it a night when the phone rings.Hair Bear: Oh no! Tell me I'm dreaming! (after Bubi fields the call) It's no dream... it's a nightmare!
- Drive-In Theater: The Hair Bear Bunch sneak off to a drive-in movie in "The Bear Who Came to Dinner" (about Square Bear faking an injury). Botch secretly tags along and calls Peevly to squeal on them.
- Dumbass Has a Point: The episode "Rare Bear Bungle" dealt with the bears sending a new inmate to their cave, Rare Bear, out into town as they think he's a mole planted by zookeeper Peevly. But when they learn Rare Bear is worth $50,000, they escape to retrieve him but are followed by Peevly and Botch. The bears are subsequently caught and Peevly plans to send them back to the forest when Rare Bear turns up with the zoo superintendent. Peevly is about to tell the superintendent why he's about to send the Hair Bear Bunch to the forest when Botch (the dum-dum) tells him not to as the super would find out Rare Bear escaped as well.
- Escape Artist: The Hair Bear Bunch finds different ways of escaping from Wonderland Zoo for a night on the town.
- The Evil Prince: The Bunch audition for the roles of the bears in a filming of "Goldilocks And The Three Bears." The film's uppity star, Twinkles Sunshine, rewrites it to include an evil prince, a role that zookeeper Peevly winds up getting.
- Expository Theme Tune: "In the Wonderland Zoo / There are certain bears who / Stay at home every night..."
- A loose expy of Hogan's Heroes, except with a zoo instead of a German P.O.W. camp. Peevly is the show's Col. Klink and Botch its Sgt. Schultz.
- Following this line of thought, Hair would be the show's Hogan, Bubi its Carter, and Square its LeBeau (in his cooking prowess). Other animals such as Slicks the fox and Stretch the Giraffe could be fill-ins for Newkirk and Kinchloe. The zoo superintendent is the equivalent of General Burkhalter.
- The show is similar to Wally Gator in that the bears were often in a battle of wits with the head zookeeper.
- And to Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales in that as Tennessee and Chumley escape from their zoo to seek advice from Mr. Whoopee, the bears escape for a night on the town.
- Extendo Boxing Glove: In the comic story "The Weirdo Map" (#8 Gold Key, Nov. 1973), Peevly and Botch inspect some packages the bears are expecting, suspecting they contain means of escape. They open one and get knocked out by a pair of spring-loaded boxing gloves.
- Eye-Obscuring Hat: Square Bear has a hat that covers his eyes.
- Face Doodling: The Hair Bear Bunch pulls this on zookeeper Mr. Peevly in the debut episode "Keep Your Keeper." Hair makes Peevly think he's suffering an ailment only zookeepers get called "zoolirium." While Peevly sleeps, Hair dresses up as a doctor while Square and Bubi paint his face green with red polka dots and fit him with a long beard.
- Fat and Skinny: Botch and Mr. Peevly.
- Fictional Currency: "Gobs Of Gabaloons" had the bears searching for a buried treasure. They find it and take them to a coin specialist who tells them the coins are Gabaloons, the treasure of the kingdom of Ptomania. Priceless as they are, they were stolen by a pirate rendering them unspendable, even in Ptomania.
- Food Fight: The episode "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" had the bears and Mr. Peevly appearing in a modernized filming of the fairy tale. A flubbed line results in bowls of porridge hurled at one another.
- Foot Bath Treatment: Non-cold variant: the episode "Unbearable Peevly" has zookeeper Peevly soaking his feet in hot water after all the dancing he did at a circus (long story).
- Forgiven, but Not Forgotten: The debut episode involved the bears making keeper Peevly think he had a disease that affects zookeepers and he had to take a six-month vacation. This leads to misadventures and a chase with Botch and fill-in keeper Grunch, but after all is settled, Peevly is welcomed back by his animal charges.Hair: So you're not sore at us for pulling that phony doctor bit, Mr. Peevly?
Peevly: [chuckles] A Peevly always forgives... [angrily] but he never forgets!!
- Forgotten Birthday: Zig-zagged at the end of "The Diet Caper." Hair's alibi for raiding Peevly's refrigerator is that the animals were celebrating Botch's birthday, which Peevly grudgingly buys. While left to clean up, Hair confesses he made up the alibi and that Botch couldn't blow the whistle because Botch himself doesn't remember when his birthday is, either.
- Four-Fingered Hands: All the animals have this, but it gets subverted in "Unbearable Peevly" when Hair develops a fifth digit doing some quick basic math.
- Friend or Foe?: In "King Klong Vs. The Masked Marvel", Botch asks the drivers of an arriving truck if they are friend or foe. They're from a rug cleaning company, so Botch lets them pass as friend.
- Genial Giraffe: Stretch the giraffe and his buddies come in handy for sliding down in an escape by the bears.
- Gilligan Cut: In "King Klong vs. the Masked Marvel," Mr. Peevly assigns the bears outside their cave to act like bears entertain the people:Bubi: We have to [go out there] and act like bears??Square: I don't believe it. (Sudden cut to outside where Square and Bubi are on their backs tossing a ball back and forth with their feet) I believe it!
- Got Volunteered: "Keep Your Keeper" has zookeeper Peevly taking a six-month vacation, and his replacement is a bruiser named Grunch.Grunch: I need three volunteers for the clean-up duty. (Points to Bubi and Square) You, you, (to Hair) and especially you!
- Had the Silly Thing in Reverse: Square Bear's invisible motorcycle goes in reverse after he says "Geronimo!" backwards.
- Hammerspace: The bears' cave. When the keepers aren't around, the bears' cave transforms into a luxury den with a fully stocked kitchen. Another part of the cave conceals Bubi's laboratory, which he employs to create a perfume for Arnie the lovesick gorilla in "Love Bug Bungle".
- Hearing Voices: Mischievous non-verbal example: in "Keep Your Keeper," the bears make zookeeper Mr. Peevly think he has a mental ailment first by making him think there's a ten-foot rabbit in one of the cages (there's not but the other animals are in on the gag) and then making him think he's hearing bells (Square Bear rings one).
- Henpecked Husband:
- The episode "King Klong vs. the Masked Marvel" has an obese battleaxe in the sports arena audience who volunteers her milquetoast husband Herbert into fighting the Masked Marvel.Wife: Herbert, I need a new fur coat. So get up there and win that money!
Herbert: But, poopsie...
Wife: Don't "poopsie" me, you spineless wonder! [to ring announcer] Hey, hold it! Here's somebody to fight that big tub of lard!
Announcer: You're big enough, madam, but it's against the rules for women to wrestle ag—
Wife: Not me, dum-dum! [holds up Herbert] Him!
- It nearly happens to Mr. Peevly in "Bridal Boo Boo". The bears send his name into a singles club and a similarly obese battleaxe named Bertha shows up. She henpecks Peevly, Botch, and all the other zoo animals as well, going so far as to make Hair Bear keep his afro combed straight and neat.
- The episode "King Klong vs. the Masked Marvel" has an obese battleaxe in the sports arena audience who volunteers her milquetoast husband Herbert into fighting the Masked Marvel.
- Hilarity in Zoos: The whole premise of the show is zoo animals and the crazy things they do.
- Honorable Elephant: Fumbo the mighty jumbo is among the friends (and accomplices) of The Hair Bear Bunch.
- How Did You Know? I Didn't: In "The Diet Caper," Hair's alibi for the animals raiding Peevly's refrigerator is because it was Botch's birthday. Peevly grudgingly buys it and orders the bears to clean up the kitchen.Bubi: Boy, it's a good thing you remembered Botch's birthday, Hair. That was a real [unintelligible]. You saved our necks.
Hair: Who remembered? I made it up.
Square: You're joshin'!
Bubi: Yeah, but Botch didn't blow the whistle on you.
Hair: How could he blow the whistle? He doesn't remember when his birthday is either!
- I Can't Believe I'm Saying This: Zig-zagged in the episode "Raffle Ruckus", after Hair Bear has all the zoo animals secluded from the zoo prior to the superintendent's pending visit:Peevly: Oh, I hate myself for doing this but... [kisses Hair's hand] You've got to help me get the animals back before the superintendent arrives!
- I Kiss Your Hand: Mr. Peevly kisses Hair Bear's hand but only as a bargaining chip to have him help find the missing zoo animals before the superintendent's visit in the episode "Raffle Ruckus."
- I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You!: Mr. Peevly gives Bananas the Gorilla a stalk of bananas for his friendship to the Bunch (episode "Panda Pandemonium"), assured that he'd never tell the keepers to where the bears escaped.Bananas: No sirree, Bob! I'd never tell anyone they escaped to the carnival!
- I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Done in "Love Bug Bungle." The bears are out of control on an air-filled inflatable toy horse (using jet-propulsion to go). Whe Square asks how to control it, Hair says, "I'm a bear, not a cowboy!" Then in "I'll Zoo You Later," the bears make a getaway on a helium tank using the same jet-propulsion principle.Square: Hey, Hair...can't you steer this thing?Hair: Look, I'm a bear, not an astronaut!
- I'm Not a Doctor, but I Play One on TV: In "Keep Your Keeper," Hair Bear dresses up as a doctor as a means to fool zookeeper Peevly that he has an ailment that affects only zookeepers and that he should take a six-month vacation.
- I'm Not a Hero, I'm...: In "I'll Zoo You Later," the superintendent praises Peevly as a hero for corraling two bank robbers and the runaway Bunch. Peevly says it's simply "all in a day's work."
- Improbable Food Budget: The conclusion of the episode "King Klong Vs. The Masked Marvel" had the superintendent ordering Peevly and Botch to give the bears anything they wanted as a reward for helping Peevly win $500 at a wrestling match. The bears order virtually every edible thing they can think of, and the keepers run back and forth delivering the stuff out of nowhere.
- Inane Blabbering: Bubi Bear uses this simply as his Verbal Tic.Botch: I didn't understand a word he said!
- Incredibly Obvious Bug: An episode has the zookeeper Mr. Peevly order video cameras hidden throughout the zoo to keep tabs on the titular bunch. The Bears found the cameras easily. Justified in that the one who actually hid the cameras, Lionel J. Botch, isn't a very bright person.
- Induced Hypochondria: In an episode, the bears convinced the zookeeper, Mr. Peevly, that he had "zoo-lirium" and had to take a vacation from the Wonderland Zoo.
- Inkblot Test: In "Love Bug Bungle," Arnie the lovesick gorilla is getting checked by a psychiatrist who applies the inkblot test on him. Arnie turns the sheet around and says he sees Gloria, a gorilla at the zoo with whom he's in love.
- Involuntary Charity Donation: The bears corner Mr. Peevly who had just won $500 at a wrestling contest (where Botch filled in for an ill star grappler) when the superintendent arrives. The bears tell the super that Peevly is donating the $500 to the society for orphaned zoo animals.
- It Runs on Nonsensoleum: Exactly how Square Bear is able to summon an invisible motorcycle whenever the three need transportation or a quick escape. Hair Bear even questioned it at one point put ultimately accepted it was just a skill of his.
- I've Heard of That — What Is It?: Botch in the episode "Panda Pandemonium" after he and Peevly discover Percy, a baby panda who was displaced from his transport to the St. Louis Zoo:Botch: A panda? Gosh! A panda! A real live panda!... What's a panda?
- I Was Born Ready: Variant: the Bunch are auditioning for roles in a revisionist film adaptation of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears." Twinkles Sunshine, the uppity diva playing Goldilocks has doubts about the bears' credibility.Twinkles Sunshine: You guys don't look like actors to me. You sure you've been on the stage before?
Hair Bear: (mockingly) Have we been on the stage before? Lady, we were born in a trunk!
- Just Got Out of Jail: Issue #6 (Gold Key, May 1973) had the bears recruited by a Mission: Impossible expy to escort an amnesiac robber who had just been released from prison so they can re-create his crime and locate the whereabouts of the stolen money.
- King Kong Copy: The Bunch enters Bananas, the zoo gorilla, in a wrestling contest offering a $500 prize. His ring name is King Klong.
- Kneel Before Frodo: In "Raffle Ruckus", Peevly kneels and kisses Hair Bear's hand, pleading him to find the missing zoo animals (which the bears arranged as part of a bargaining chip).
- Kneel Before Zod: The Bunch kneel to zookeeper Peevly and beg him to not put Arnie the lovesick gorilla in their cave with them in "Love Bug Bungle."
- Laugh Track: An H-B–created laugh track was used starting with episode four ("Bridal Boo Boo"). It was removed when it returned on USA in 1984 and has been absent during its Cartoon Network and Boomerang broadcasts.
- Language Barrier: Bubi Bear happens to speak Tarulian, the tongue of the inhabitants of a planet on which the bears and keepers Peevly and Botch land in a rocket ship (episode "No Space Like Home"). The dialogue starts off appointing Hair Bear as the planet's new ruler, but Bubi's ensuing dialogue tells the Tarulians that Peevly is their Earth leader. Hair is ejected as ruler in favor of Peevly.
- Long List: The Bunch discover a missing treasure which they offer to give to Peevly in exchange for a laundry list of demands, which Hair Bear unravels on a long roll. The exchange is so that the city doesn't know of Peevly's windfall.
- Lover, Not a Fighter: When Hair Bear tells Arnie the Lovesick Gorilla that the perfume the bears are concocting for him will make him a lady killer, Arnie replies "I'm not a killer. I'm a lover."
- Matter of Life and Death: In the episode "The Bear who Came to Dinner," Peevly is calling a vet to examine Square Bear who is faking an injury so the bears can use his cottage at the zoo for three hots and a cot. Hair Bear has tapped the phone line and gets Gabby the parrot on the other end to be the receptionist:Gabby: (to Peevly) Is it urgent?
Peevly: Yes, and tell the doctor that it's a matter of life and death...mine.
- Misspelling Out Loud: In the episode "No Space Like Home," the bears and Mr. Peevly and Botch have escaped a metallic planet in their rocket ship (on which a scientist sent them to start with) back for Earth.Botch: Which button do I press now, Mr. Peevly?
Peevly: Earth button. What else?
Botch: Oh, yeah. Earth. (sees the "destruct" button and fingers each letter) Let's see now...D-E-S-T-R-U-C-T. "Earth"!
- Mistaken for Thief: #9 (Gold Key): The issue's second story, "The Zoo Food Phantom," had Square Bear accusing Bubi of raiding the bears' refrigerator overnight when a masked figure, whom Bubi tried to stop, did.
- Mondegreen Gag: In the comic adaptation, the characters escape to a western town ("Wild Wild West Wingding", issue #7, Gold Key) where the townspeople live in fear of an outlaw named Sandy Claws. The bears mistake it as Santa Claus and start festooning the town with Christmas decorations.
- Mythology Gag: In "The Diet Caper", the bears find themselves in what appears to be a haunted house (actually the haunted house of an amusement park). Background music from Scooby-Doo is used.
- The aforementioned tweaked version of the "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" story. The actress playing Goldilocks, Twinkles Sunshine, is built up as a lovable sweetheart, but she turns out to be an Alpha Bitch.
- In "Love Bug Bungle," Hair pulls a ventriloquist act to fool Peevly, using Bubi as his ventriloquist dummy. Bubi's voice actor, Paul Winchell, was a prolific ventriloquist.
- At the end of "I'll Zoo You Later," the bears are watching Yogi Bear on their TV.
- In the comic book story "Mission Fantastical" (Gold Key #6, May 1973), the bears (having been recruited as special secret agents) take a newly-released-from-prison amnesiac thief to an abandoned movie studio to re-enact his bank robbery crime and learn the whereabouts of the missing money. The studio: Hanna-Barbera.
- The Neidermeyer: Any respect the zoo animals give Mr. Peevly is purely tongue-in-cheek.
- Nice Character, Mean Actor: Twinkles Sunshine, the child actress in the episode "Whatever Happened To Goldilocks And The Three Bears?", is built up in the press as "ever-lovable." Tell her co-stars that. She's an absolute bitchy prima donna.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: John Stephenson was cast as Peevly because he sounded like Joe Flynn from McHale's Navy. Flynn himself auditioned at Stephenson's suggestion, but Joe Barbera didn't think Flynn sounded right.
- Nothing Can Stop Us Now!: The Bunch stage a show in their cave where they coax Mr. Peevly into doing impersonations of the zoo superintendent, not knowing that the super is watching on a closed circuit TV monitor. Botch tries to stop Peevly.Peevly: Can't you see, Botch? I'm going all the way to the top! Nothing's gonna stop me!
Superintendent: (angrily storming in) Well, I'm gonna stop you!!
- The Noun Who Verbed: "The Bear Who Came To Dinner."
- Obnoxious Entitled Housewife: Bertha, Peevly's would-be bride from "Bridal Boo Boo" certainly qualifies as a Karen with her ceaseless demands and expectations, as does the battleaxe from "King Klong vs. the Masked Marvel" who cuckolds her mousy husband into facing the Marvel so she can get a fur coat with the prize money.
- Omniglot: Bubi. He's able to communicate to inhabitants of another planet ("No Space Like Home").
- Operation: [Blank]: In "The Bear Who Came to Dinner," Hair throws a party in Peevly's house as Square Bear convalesces with a fake injury. Peevly and Botch are consigned to sleeping in the bears' cave but when he hears music coming from the house, he leads a charge to crash the party. Einstein the Owl sounds an alert, prompting Hair to stop the party and initiate "Operation: Spic and Span."
- In "Keep Your Keeper," Hair puts Operation: Vacation into effect in a ploy to make Peevly think he needs some extended downtime.
- Operation: Trojan Horse (at the start of "The Bear Who Came to Dinner") had the bears giving a wooden pony to a visiting little boy then smuggling themselves inside the pony so they could escape. The plan is rent asunder when the boy squeals to Peevly that the bears are inside the pony.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Averted. Whenever Mr. Peevly and Botch wear disguises to get back at the bears, the bears always see through them thanks to Botch's below-mentioned Verbal Tic.
- Parasol Parachute: The Bunch are in town on their invisible motorcycle with Peevly and Botch chasing them. The keepers crash out their jeep into a street vendor hot dog stand. Peevly is jettisoned up into the air and floats to Earth using the stand's umbrella. From the missing scenes from the episode "Rare Bear Bungle."Square Bear: Look...it's Mary Poppins!
- Parrot Exposition: Botch had a propensity of repeating orders to the animals that Peevly had just given.
- Passed-Over Promotion: The life story of Wonderland Zoo assistant keeper Lionel J. Botch.
- The Patient Has Left the Building: In "Love Bug Bungle", keepers Peevly and Botch are committed to a padded room at a hospital after Botch tells two traffic officers they were chasing three bears on an invisible motorcycle and said bears and a gorilla were under their examination table. The keepers use bed springs to bounce and crash out of their room to pursue the animals. The officers see them.1st Cop: Same two kooks still chasing bears.
2nd Cop: Well...I didn't see it if you didn't.
1st Cop: I didn't see nothin'.
- Perp Sweating: The Hair Bear Bunch put the interrogation light on new cavemate Rare Bear in "Rare Bear Bungle", thinking he's either a mole planted by Peevly or a human spy in a bear suit. (In the comic book adaptation it's Botch in a bear suit.)
- Pie in the Face: In "Whatever Happened To Goldilocks And The Three Bears," The bears and Mr. Peevly are starring in a revisionist filming of the fairy tale. When Hair Bear steps on Twinkles Sunshine's (Goldilocks) line, she throws a bowl of porridge at him. It hits Peevly, leading to an on-set porridge fight.
- Pink Elephants: In "Ark Lark," the bears are staging a Bavarian Fire Drill to sneak out of the zoo, posing as tree surgeons carting a tree to the hospital. Bubi diagnoses the tree's ailment as Delirium Tremens.
- Planet of Hats: The Tarulians in the episode "No Space Like Home" have an unorthodox custom. They select a new leader each day and lock the previous leader in a glass cage. Guess what happens when Peevly, Botch and the bears land on it.
- Playing Sick:
- In "Rare Bear Bungle," Bubi feigns an illness so Peevly will tend to him while Hair and Square disguise Bananas the Gorilla as Rare Bear (a critter that costs the city $50,000 and was tricked by the bears into going into town).
- "The Bear Who Came To Dinner" has Square Bear faking an injury after slipping on a banana peel Peevly dropped. Hair threatens Peevly with an animal negligence suit if Square isn't cared for.
- Promotion, Not Punishment: The episode "Bridal Boo Boo" has Hair Bear concocting a plan to rid Mr. Peevly of the battleaxe that wants to marry him. Peevly assures Hair that if the plan works, he'll wipe off all Hair's demerits. But if it fails, he'll double—nay, triple them. Needless to say, thanks to Bananas the Gorilla, the plan fails.Hair Bear: Triple demerits?!! Sheesh!
- The Promised Land: "Ark Lark" has the zoo animals rehearsing for a re-enactment of the story of Noah and the ark (of which has been built on zoo grounds. After Peevly calls for a morning rehearsal:Hair: By morning we'll be gone. I'm gonna put wheels on this ark and take us to the Promised Land.
Square:. Where's that?
Hair: I dunno, but I promise you...it'll be a long ways away from Peevly and Botch!
- Pro Wrestling Episode: "King Klong vs. the Masked Marvel". Bananas the Gorilla was King Klong and Botch was the Masked Marvel, but neither was aware of them being opponents. (Of note, the episode title card errantly says "Kling Klong.")
- Recycled Premise: It is basically an ursine Hogan's Heroes that takes place in a zoo instead of a German prison camp.
- Repeating So the Audience Can Hear: Averted in "The Bear Who Came To Dinner." Botch calls Peevly from a payphone at a drive-in theater to snitch on the bears, and the conversation switches scenes between the two callers.
Peevly: Yes sir, that new bear arrived today...I'm to give him extra special care...(surprised shock) He costs the city how much???...$50,000??!...Yes sir, I'll give him extra special attention!!
- Otherwise played straight with this conversation between Peevly and the zoo superintendent:
- Reused Character Design: Mr. Peevly bears a striking resemblance to Pertwee from Where's Huddles?.
- Rule of Pool: The comic story "The Weirdo Map," the bears are trying to get away from a thief called the Gecko (they're in town but it's okay—Peevly granted them weekend passes). On top of a building's ceiling, they climb in the moonroof and land in a gymnasium's swimming pool.
- Rummage Sale Reject: In "No Space Like Home," the bears are outfitted with turn-of-the-century swimsuits (all part of an escape plan). Bubi describes the outfits as "early rummage sale."
- Ruritania: Ptomania was the country of original of the title treasure in "Gobs Of Gobaloons." The bears discover the treasure but they can't spend it because it was stolen from the country's treasury.
- Saw It in a Movie Once: The Bunch is rehearsing for a scene in a revisionist version of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears". Twinkles Sunshine, the movie's star and revisionist of the script gives the bears instructions when the evil prince arrives.Twinkles: When the three bears see the evil prince, they grab him and throw him out of the window.
Square Bear: I saw that on television wrestlin' last night!
- Scooby Snacks: Botch's promotion. Averted in that he never achieved it.
Botch: If I help, do I get my promotion?Peevly: (hysterically) Yes! Yes!!(Botch tweaks the branch and Peevly flies out, landing on the ground)Peevly: (slow-burning) I promote you from a third-class dolt to a first-class nincompoop!!Botch: (actually pleased) Gee, thanks!
- Zig-zagged in the missing scenes from "I'll Zoo You Later": When Peevly accosts a wild bear and sees it's not the Bunch, he panicly runs for it and gets his belt loop caught in a tree branch.
- Short-Lived Leadership: In "No Space Like Home," the bears and the zookeepers land the metal planet Taluria where Peevly becomes leader. It is short-lived as the inhabitants choose a new ruler each day and lock the previous leader in a glass cage.
- Shout-Out: The bears put on a scam on Peevly through role-playing, calling themselves Hair's Mighty Art Players (in "Rare Bear Bungle") or The Mighty Hair Bear Performers ("I'll Zoo You Later"). This is a nod to the Mighty Carson Art Players from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.
- The Show Must Go Wrong: In "(Whatever Happened to) Goldilocks and the Three Bears," a filming of the fairy tale is being shot on location at Wonderland Zoo. It degenerates into a food fight with everyone throwing bowls of porridge at each other.
- Sick Episode: "Keep Your Keeper" had the bears fooling head zookeeper Mr. Peevly that he had a disorder called "zoolirium" and that he had to take a six-month vacation.
- Sleeping Dummy: The Bunch escape with Bananas to a wrestling contest. When Botch goes in their cave for a spot check and asks if they're sleeping, the three figures under the blanket reply "yes." Botch buys it. The three figures turn out to be the zoo ostrich, Fur-face the lion and Hercules Hippo.
- Sleeps with Both Eyes Open: In "The Bear Who Came To Dinner," Peevly is consigned to nursing Square Bear back to health in his own bed following an incident with a banana peel. Sensing Square is faking his injury, Peevly orders Botch to watch Square 24/7 for so much as a twitch. Botch is sleeping with his eyes open, given away when Hair whispers to him "Your shoes are on fire!"
- Standardized Leader: Hair Bear. He even calls himself as the bunch's "beloved and trusted leader," and the other zoo animals are willing to help him and the bears with their crazy schemes.
- Starfish Language: The strange dialect Bubi Bear has proves useful in "No Space Like Home" as he uses it to talk with the inhabitants of an alien planet.
- Super Multipurpose Room: The bears' cave is this.
- Surrounded by Idiots: Whenever Mr. Peevly wasn't annoyed by the antics of the bears, he was frustrated by the incompetence of his oafish assistant, Botch.
- Talking Animal: The bears. As well as all the other inhabitants of the zoo.
- Tasty Gold: The bears discover a treasure of Gobaloons under Peevly's office, but instead of being rich, they learn that the gobaloons were stolen by a pirate and anyone trying to confiscate and spend it will be locked up in jail for theft. While bemoaning their situation, Square is eating some of the coins.Hair: Of all the rotten luck. A million in gold coins and it all has to go back to the kingdom of Ptomania.
Square: A pity. They're delicious.
- Taxman Takes the Winnings: Zig-zag: in "Ark Lark," the bears and the other zoo inhabitants are holed up in a resort island hotel room. They enter Stripes the Zebra in a horse race held on the resort (using shoe polish to disguise him as a horse) and win the $50,000 cash prize—which is immediately seized by the hotel manager for the royal suite, room service, and damages.
- Team Rocket Wins:
- Mr. Peevly wins at the end of the debut episode, "Keep Your Keeper." But deep inside, Peevly's not a villain per se, he's saddled with the job of tending to a zoo full of animals who don't take him or his assistant seriously. In other words, he's a punch clock butt monkey.
- At the conclusion "I'll Zoo You Later," the superintendent lauds Peevly as a hero for not only corralling his runaway bears but also capturing two bank robbers. Suddenly subverted when Hair tells the superintendent that Peevly will use the reward for recovering the bank money to buy a new color TV for the bears' cave and a pizza station that Peevly mans himself (not of his choice).
- The Teaser: "Keep Your Keeper" was the only ep to use a cold open during its CBS run. All sixteen episodes were re-edited for cable/satellite to have cold opens.
- Tell Me Again: In "Bridal Boo Boo," Hair has an idea to get rid of the battleaxe that wants to marry Peevly and take control of the zoo.Peevly: Quick, Hair. Tell me again before she gets back!
Hair: Of course, sir. As you know, a truck is leaving this afternoon taking some empty cages to the Alaska zoo...now, if the future Mrs. Peevly..
Peevly: (nervously) Er, don't say that!
Hair: As you wish, sir. If she were to hear that some animals were trying to escape in that truck, she'd try to stop them. Right?
Peevly: Yes? Yes?
Hair: Now, if by sheer accident, mind you, she happens to get locked in that truck...
Peevly: Say no more. Pull this off and I'll wipe off all your demerits. But if you fail, I'll double them. Even triple them!
Hair: It's a pleasure doing business with a man of your intelligence, sir!
- Terrible Trio: To Mr. Eustace P. Peevly, The Hair Bear Bunch could be considered this.
- Think Nothing of It: In "I'll Zoo You Later," the zoo superintendent fetes Peevly as a hero for not only corralling the runaway bears but also two bank robbers. Peevly tells him "all in a day's work."
- This Page Will Self-Destruct: The Bunch is recruited to be special agents for Mission: Fantastical (issue #6, May 1973). This happens twice—once in the bears' cave with a recording tape and again in a taxi radio.
- Title Scream: HELP! IT'S THE HAIR BEAR BUNCH!
- Treasure Hunt Episode: The Bunch go on a treasure hunt in "Gobs of Gobaloons" after they find a treasure map. The problem at hand is that the treasure is buried under the office of zookeeper Mr. Peevly.
- Treasure Map: "Gobs Of Gobaloons" has the bears finding the map to a hidden treasure. The problem: it's buried under zookeeper Peevly's office. The bears find it, but a coin specialist tells them the treasure was stolen from the country of Ptomania with imprisonment to anyone who tries to take it for themselves.Hair Bear: Look, even if we go to Ptomania we're broke.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: The bears trick Peevly into taking a long vacation, thinking the zoo will be unsupervised during his absence. Unfortunately, Peevely is replaced by the efficient and intimidating Mr. Grunch, who cracks down on any shenanigans. Naturally, the bears try to get Peevly back.
- Verbal Tic: Botch's "Ooh! Ooh!," which was Joe E. Ross' verbal tic. Because he does it all the time, the bears can easily see through his disguises.
- Versus Title: "King Klong Vs. The Masked Marvel."
- Villainy-Free Villain: Mr. Peevly is a punch clock Butt-Monkey who is consigned to watching after a zoo full of animals who don't take him or his assistant seriously.
- We Will Meet Again: At the end of episodes where Peevly comes up on the short end, he'd grumble "I'll get you for this, Hair!"
- Went to the Great X in the Sky: Subverted in "The Bear Who Came To Dinner": Square Bear is faking an injury and Peevly is forced to take care of him. Peevly tries to prove Square is faking when the superintendent arrives and wants to know why Square is in Peevly's bed. Hair Bear tells him that Peevly helped pull Square back "from that big bear cave in the sky."
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Many of the bears' zoo pals that were on the TV show appeared in the first four issues of the comic book. From then on, they were replaced by more generic beasts.
- What's In It For Me?: The Bunch asks this to Professor Rockabuilt in "No Space Like Home," after being proposed the plan of landing a spaceship in Mars.
- Where Is Your X Now?: A coloring book had Peevly railing on the bears to shape up or ship out. Hair presents an animal Bill of Rights, which Peevly takes and tears up.Peevly: Now where is your Bill of Rights?
- Who Is Driving?: Square Bear is able to conjure up an invisible motorcycle when the situation calls for it. Hair Bear has commented on Square Bear's unusual ability, but generally accepts it as convenient.
- Who Needs Enemies?: "No Space Like Home" has Hair saying this about Bubi. Hair is made ruler of the planet Tarulia, but then Bubi—who speaks Tarulian (and any gobbledygook language) tells the natives that Peevly is their Earth leader. Hair is usurped for Peevly.
- Who Would Be Stupid Enough?: "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" has spoiled actress Twinkles Sunshine re-writing the fairy tale (with the Bunch in the movie) to accommodate an evil prince as a chew toy. The director asks where he can find somebody dumb enough for the part. Enter zookeeper Peevly.
- With Due Respect: The Bunch hits it big as rock band Three Bear Night (episode "Closed Circuit TV") and Peevly wants to be their manager. But Peevly's spur-of-the-moment contract gives him 75% of the bears' take, which he then ups to 90%.Hair: With all due respect, sir...we'd rather not sign that.
Peevly: Oh, yeah? You'd better sign or you'll give your next performance in the north woods!
Hair: Okay, okay! We'll sign!
- With Friends Like These...: In the episode "No Space Like Home," Bubi tells the inhabitants of the planet Taluria that Hair Bear is their leader so the inhabitants make him their leader. But when Bubi tells them that Mr. Peevly is their Earth leader, the Talurians usurp Hair and make Peevly their leader.Hair: With you as a friend, Bubi, who needs enemies?
- Worthless Treasure Twist: "Gobs of Gabaloons" has the eponymous three bears palm off on zookeeper Peevly a supposed treasure map, which turns out to reveal the location of a horde of gold coins. Unfortunately for Peevly, the coins are Ptomainian Gabaloons, which due to a treaty between America and Ptomania cannot be spent in the USA and must be returned to Ptomania, unspent, but Peevly doesn't discover this before running up a huge debt against the treasure. He comes badly unstuck when the Ptomanian ambassador arrives expecting to collect it.
- Wrong Line of Work: The movie director in "(Whatever Happend To) Goldilocks and the Three Bears" has to deal with quitting actors and a tempermental star who tells him to find three new actors as the bears or he's fired.Director: I should've been a plumber like my mother wanted.
- You Didn't See That: "Love Bug Bungle" had the zookeepers Peevly and Botch committed to a hospital padded room after Botch tells two police officers that they were chasing three bears on an invisible motorcycle. The keepers break out and pursue the bears. The two officers see them.1st Cop: Same two kooks still chasing bears.
2nd Cop: Well, I didn't see it if you didn't.
1st Cop: I didn't see nothin'.
- Zebras Are Just Striped Horses: The Bunch uses shoe polish to disguise Stripes the Zebra as a horse and enter him in a horse race in the episode "Ark Lark."