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Western Animation / The Kids from Room 402

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The Kids from Room 402 is a Canadian-American cartoon from Cin├ęGroupe and Saban Entertainment (both of whom had cooperated on other shows like Bad Dog and What's with Andy?). Created for Fox Family and Teletoon, the show is based on the children's book Gracie Graves and the Kids from Room 402, which was written by the mother-son team of Betty and Michael Paraskevas (the creators of Maggie and the Ferocious Beast and Marvin the Tap-Dancing Horse).

The Kids from Room 402 is about exactly what the title suggests - the problematic and mischievous elementary school students of Room 402, who are taught by Miss Gracie Graves. Quite possibly the only teacher in the entire school capable of controlling the eponymous children, Miss Graves serves as an interlocutor for the dozen or so kids she taught as they deal with various problems, conflicts, and injustices both internal and external.

The series ran for 2 seasons with 52 episodes debuting between 1999 and 2001. Unusually for a Canadian production, most of the voice cast was American. Also of interest is that every episode of the show was written together by 2 people: Lesa Kite and Cindy Begel.


  • The Ace: Penny Grant. She's a nice, smart girl who everyone wants as a friend, especially Nancy. In the opening of "Bing, Bing, Bing, and a Shot", she is covered in merit badges and has to have a badge she's won nineteen times already pinned to her sock.
  • All for Nothing: Freddie goes through a whole episode trying to change his clothes since it's a girl's shirt, Polly wears the same, and it's picture day. At the end Ms. Graves has him sit at the front and hold the plaque with the class number, which cover his shirt.
  • Alliterative Name: Gracie Graves.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Jesse's mom, without a doubt.
  • Anti-School Uniforms Plot: One episode involves the school begins requiring uniforms after they get offended by some female students jewelry. This is treated as negative thing.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: Polly does this in the episode called "The Election Show". Polly ends up being the only candidate in position running for school president. Just after her long and grueling debate which Ms. Graves finally steps in and declares over, in class in the next scene, Ms. Graves is about to announce the winner. Polly tells her to hurry up and announce the results because she can't take the patience anymore, and Ms. Graves responds with "What are you so nervous about? You're the only one running." With that as a fact, Polly still asks her "So, who won?", making Ms. Graves having to respond with "You".
  • Ate It All: Jesse eats most of the food that he and Nancy are selling at a school charity fair.
  • Attention Whore: Nancy. Almost every episode focuses on her is about her trying to impress her friends by bragging about something or trying to ape something popular, usually with hilariously embarrassing results.
    • Jesse probably also counts. When he's not cheating on schoolwork, he's telling Blatant Lies to everyone in and out of school to make himself look cool. He tends to fail even more miserably than Nancy.
  • Berserk Button: Do NOT insult Polly's spoons, breathe on them, or touch them without gloves unless you want to be endlessly screamed at.
  • Big Fancy House: Jordan's as revealed in "Mrs. McCoy's Baby Boy". Even her gardener's house is big enough to impress Nancy.
  • Black and Nerdy: Freddie.
  • Butt-Monkey: In a matter of speaking, Jesse McCoy and Vinnie Nasta could be considered examples, mainly because they always try to pull pranks that end up backfiring on them, often making them face worse consequences for it than what they tried to evade.
    • Nancy Francis could also be considered to be in similar ways, but more because of how much she always ends up falling victim to Polly McShane. Of course, anybody under Polly is.
    • In cases of clumsiness, incompetence, and being tormented on and having pranks pulled on him by the kids, Principal Mr. Besser is.
    • On occasion, even Ms. Graves could be considered to just slightly be one. Because she often deals with the same kind of hell to a more intense degree as Mr. Besser. But she most often is by how she is treated by and through obligation has to put up with annoying kids like Polly, or even Jesse or Vinnie through their pranks, and others who come to her with complaints.
  • Cash Lure: One episode starts with Mr. Besser falling victim to the classic dollar bill with a string prank. The prankster later places a coin with sellotape for another prank. At the end, someone drops a ten-dollar bill and Mr. Besser, wrongfully assuming it was another prank, doesn't try to pick it up.
  • Catchphrase: Jesse tends to say "Ay, chihuahua!" whenever he's surprised.
  • Clothing Switch: Freddie switches his sweater with another girl in "Pretty as a picture".
  • Control Freak: Polly McShane, who can (and will) manipulate the lives of everyone around her to fit her needs. She also manages to force the class nerd Freddie into doing a project about spoons by only screaming the word at him.
  • Dean Bitterman: MR. BESSER (although he is more naive than bitter).
    • The second-grade teacher, Mrs. Amy Bellanchof is also one. It should be noted that her daughter Melanie is one of the students of Room 402.
  • Distracted by the Luxury: When Nancy learns that her school Project partner Jordan is Secretly Wealthy, she's so impressed by Jordan's mansion and valuable objects she barely does anything regarding the project, which gives her an excuse to visit Jordan more times.
  • Double Entendre: In one episode, as a sly prank Vinnie tries to pull on Ms. Graves during art class, he draws a picture of "two mountain peaks" that we never see, but we hear that they are pink, and unlike anyone else especially Mr. Besser, Ms. Graves when first seeing them immediately gets the idea that the two pink mountain peaks are hinting other, inappropriate thing. Her patience gets less to the point of eventually taking action as it gets circulated even to the point of going in a picture frame and being hung in the school hall. Ms. Graves calls Vinnie's parents, and his mother punishes him for doing that picture. There is even one point while Vinnie gets sent to the principal's office for his drawing, and right in front of Ms. Graves who gets even more annoyed with him, he makes a remark about how he was thinking of also making a painting about a bakery called "two buns." For supposing to be a kids' show, the episode this happens in (which is "By Invitation Only") appears to be the only episode where there appears to be any Double Entendre jokes involved in the content.
    • There may only be an exception with a potential Double Entendre joke in the episode "Bing, Bing, Bing, and a Shot" where in the doctor's office, Jesse and Mrs. Myerson briefly interact and he misunderstands what she is telling him. Jesse was on his underwear, and uses a newspaper to cover himself where Mrs. Myerson enters the office, then she starts talking probably about something in the newspaper, but due to the way she points at Jesse, he thinks she was talking about a certain part of his body, in a way that could be considered Innocent Innuendo. (She was actually talking about a mole.)
  • Dresses the Same: Polly and Freddie wear the same sweater in "Pretty as a Picture Day" and Freddie is embarrassed. What's worse is that it's a picture day.
  • Election Day Episode: President of the school is elected in episode called "Election Day." She (it's Polly) is overthrown after a couple of day but no one else can agree on who should be in charge.
  • Epic Fail: Some of Vinnie's off-screen pranks.
    Sanje: The principal wants to see you for vandalizing his car.
    Vinnie: How does he know it's me?
    Sanje: He was in the car when you did it.
  • Everything's Spoonier With Spoons: Polly is an immigrant who is completely obsessed with spoons. She's got a spoon collection, and makes a spoon exhibition for the science fair. She once started a spoon hospital and a spoon school.
  • Exact Words:
    • Nancy promises not to tell anyone Jordan is wealthy. However, she doesn't promise not to tell that she (Nancy) has a wealthy friend.
    • Three girls decide to dress like a celebrity known for, among other things, wearing a bell as a pendant. Not liking that, Mr. Besser threatens to punish them if he ever hears any of those bells again. The girls then stuff their bells with socks so Mr. Besser won't "hear" them. The loophole works until one of the socks falls and he hears a bell. He then makes good on his threat, only that he makes all the students wear school uniforms.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Vinnie tries to enter a science fair with a project his brother Tony had previously entered in a previous fair and, unlike other times he tried to pass Tony's previous works as his own, he checked if Ms. Graves was Tony's teacher back then. As Vinnie learns when Ms. Graves reveals it, she was a judge at the previous fair and wrote "Good work, Tony" on the back of the project.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: See Plagiarism in Fiction below.
  • False Reassurance: Jesse's attempt to cheat in an eye exam backfires when he's forced to wear glasses. When he has enough of the troubles brought to him by wearing glasses he never needed, he confesses and expects Miss Graves to punish him. When she says it isn't up to her, he is relieved until she points out his mother will likely punish him.
    • In another episode, Polly is standing in for Mr. Besser and finds out a teacher isn't technically qualified for the job. When that teacher begs Polly not to tell Mr. Besser, Polly says there's no need to bother him. Polly fires the teacher by herself.
  • False Teeth Tomfoolery: Jesse's grandfather has them and shows them to Jesse.
  • Fat Idiot: Besser, some focus is brought up on his belly and he is usually an idiot.
  • Food as Bribe: When Mr. Besser asks Miss Graves to change Polly's grade from an A- to A+ (she lost points because her essay while good was full of random Lithuanian trivia) she notices that he is eating a cake that he claims is a Lithuanian's specialty.
  • Fowl-Mouthed Parrot: Averted. When Jesse and Vinnie teach insults to a parrot, Jesse suggests teaching curse words, but that's as close as the trope came to being played in the cartoon.
  • Funny Foreigner: Averted by Polly, the unpopular, spoon-obsessed, wannabe teacher's pet from Lithuania whose actions are considered annoying rather than funny.
  • Gold Digger: Mr. Besser and, as it seems, every other man who ever married Vinny's aunt, his (ex) wife.
  • High-School Hustler: Or Elementary School Hustler. Arthur will get you what you want for an (exorbitant) price and is way more cunning than your regular kid.
    Miss Graves: I'll choose a number between one and a hundred and the one who guess the number will have the job.
    Arthur (over all the other screaming students without raising his voice): 71.
    Miss Graves: He is good.
  • Innocent Bigot: Happens in the episode "Don't Know, Don't Care, Smells" when the kids have an assignment to write about a different culture and ask classmates to help. For example, Nancy, says "I'm so hungry that I would eat a cow" while having dinner with her classmate Sanjay's family who happens to be from India where eating beef is a religious taboo. Polly is even worse by saying China copied Lithuania and isn't worth talking about.
  • Innocent Innuendo: This may be the case with a scene where Mrs. Myerson encounters Jesse in the doctor's office wearing nothing but his briefs trying to cover himself with a newspaper. It appears that she was remarking on a picture in the newspaper he was covering himself with, while he thought she was pointing out something to do with him because of what state she catches him in. Nothing is ever clarified, though, with what she was talking about and what he thought she meant concerning what she sees and having a shot.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: It starts with a lullaby-like bell sound, then switches to an energetic melody that uses trumpets and electric guitar.
  • Karma Houdini: In one episode, Vinnie writes a paper titled "Mr. Besser the Coldhearted Liver Butcher", hoping Mr. Besser will never see it. Mr. Besser sees but fails to realize it was about him because Vinnie misspelled the surname as "Beeser".
    • Mrs. Bellanchof gets away with lying to a judge in order to get the custody of her daughter Melanie, winning an award by submitting Mrs. Graves' lesson plan as her own, and using her position as teacher to make Melanie win a cheerleading contest. Without any consequences (although Melanie dislikes and often criticizes her), with the closest thing she gets to consequences are her daughter deceiving her into thinking she gets invitations from her classmates in order to escape her mother's punishments, being rude to her and openly favoring her father over her, the last two leading to her mother throwing a fit.
  • Motor Mouth: Polly McShane.
  • No Fame, No Wealth, No Service: Nancy saves $200 to have a haircut at a fancy salon only to learn that, because she's not a celebrity, the salon's janitor will do the job.
  • No Indoor Voice: Polly's voice is very loud and very obnoxious.
  • Non-Specifically Foreign: Averted. Polly is Lithuanian despite her Irish surname.
  • Not in Front of the Parrot!: In "The Peep and the Sheep", Jesse and Vinnie teach a parrot to say rude things as part of a prank. Unfortunately, for them, the parrot hears them using their names while discussing ideas.
  • Oh Wait, This Is My Grocery List: Freddie once accidentally brought his mom's grocery list to school, rather than his permission slip, and didn't realize his mistake until Miss Graves started to read it out loud in front of the class. Thankfully, the slip was in his lunch which had been stolen by someone else.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Jesse trying to cheat on his eye exam gets brought up a few times, even by Ms. Graves.
  • Picture Day: In "Pretty as a Picture".
  • Phony Degree: In "It Takes Your Breath Away", Dr. Tenorio is not a real doctor and is arrested at the end of the episode.
  • Plagiarism in Fiction: Vinnie Nasta makes a habit of presenting his big brother Tony's reports as his own but the teacher always remembers having already evaluated them back when Tony was her student. One time included a contest entry, which Vinnie checked to be sure Tony wasn't her student back then.
    Ms. Graves: Shames it didn't also erased my good work Tony message at the back.
  • Rich Bitch: Jordan is afraid of being seen as one because of her wealth. Nancy ends up despised as one in the episode she brags about having a wealthy friend. The "bitch" part might be true.
  • Secretly Wealthy: In "Mrs. McCoy's Baby Boy", Nancy finds out Jordan is wealthy but doesn't let anybody know out of fear her friends would think she's a Rich Bitch if they knew.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Polly looks rather nice in her old-fashioned Lithuanian outfit to the point where Sanjay (who was forced by her mother to be her dancing partner at a school play) calls her "a vision of beauty" and develops a crush on her, right after the play ends he asks Polly to be his wife for once his parents arrange his marriage when he is eighteen but Polly rejects him, rudely critisizes his performance and leaves with Sanjay following after her.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In one episode, Jesse is forced to wear glasses that actually damage his eyesight (he had a cheat sheet but failed to notice the doctor asking him to read the second row of the eye chart instead of the first one). The episode is titled "Jesse Magoo".
    • Vinnie's password for Arthur's secret library is "call me Ishmael".
  • Snowed-In: Happens to Jesse when he is visiting his grandparents and there's a big snowstorm.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Jordan. She lives at a Big Fancy House (fancy enough to have a bowling lane and two pools - one inside and another one outside), has a butler but never shows off or belittles other people. In fact, she hides her wealth from her friends out of fear of how they'll react.
  • Stealing the Credit: In "Election Day", Jordan blames another classmate for using Jordan's idea.
  • Sudden School Uniform: Mr. Besser once made the students wear uniforms. The decision was short-lived because the uniforms prevented him from pinpointing culprits whenever somebody broke a rule.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Polly, especially when she wants Nancy to hang out with her.
  • Unwanted Glasses Plot: In "Jesse Magoo", Jesse is so afraid of needing to wear glasses that he decides to cheat on the school-sponsored eye exam by writing the letters of the eye chart on his hand. He ends up forced to wear thick glasses (his family's insurance wouldn't cover anything cooler) or, as the shop calls them, glasses "for the not so active". Not only is he constantly mocked by his peers, but the glasses damage his eyesight to the point where it becomes harder for him to run. Jesse eventually breaks the glasses and faces the consequences of cheating. In the end, Vinnie has to wear a similar pair of glasses (his family's insurance wouldn't cover anything cooler either) and, to Jesse's dismay, manages to look cool with them.
  • Very Special Episode: "It Takes Your Breath Away" deals with Nancy being diagnosed with asthma, and going with a non-professional doctor who gives her a "miracle cure" for it. This leads to Nancy having an asthma attack in front of all her classmates, and afterwards Nancy decides to deal with her asthma after some of the other kids from the class reveal they have also had medical problems, some worse than Nancy's. The doctor, by the way, is actually arrested at the end of the episode and just barely avoids being beaten up by Nancy's mother.
  • Wacky Homeroom: The primary setting of the show.
  • Would Hit a Girl: No one wants to throw a dodgeball at Penny because she is practically a saint, but when it's Polly's turn to play everyone, including the boys, hit her.