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"All that remained of his herd was his mother, grandmother and his grandfather. He knew them by sight, by scent, and by their love."

The Land Before Time is a 1988 animated film directed by Don Bluth, and his second collaboration with executive producer Steven Spielberg (following An American Tail). George Lucas was also one of the executive producers.note 

In the original film, a group of dinosaurs leave their disasters-stricken home lands for the Great Valley, a place of promise and opportunity. Along the way, a young brontosaurus ("Long Neck") named Littlefoot becomes separated from his group and watches his mother die to protect him from a Tyrannosaurus Rex ("Sharptooth"). Littlefoot meets up with other young dinosaurs of different species as they try to get back to their families.

The first film, made at the dawn of The Renaissance Age of Animation, is well remembered for its excellent character animation (a hallmark of Don Bluth films), surprisingly complex plotting, and groundbreaking soundtrack by James Horner. It was also the first major dinosaur film made after the Dinosaur Renaissance reached popular culture, and features the refined image of dinosaurs since then (see Shown Their Work below).

The film released its first sequel in 1994, and Universal Cartoon Studios ended up making a sequel almost every year up to 2007, for a grand total of twelve. These sequels took a much Lighter and Softer tone than the original film, a move that alienated them from many of the first movie's fans. Still, others embrace these sequels into the canon of the series and see them as enjoyable, harmless, and frequently heartwarming kids' films that contain unexpectedly deep, complex themes and moral lessons. The series also had a short-running TV show in 2008 that lasted for one season. When this show ended, the series seemed to be headed towards a hard-earned retirement. But on February 2nd, 2016, a fourteenth movie was finally released, and it is the last installment for the series to date. With so many sequels, it would be an unorthodox way to teach kids Roman numerals, alongside some other franchises.

The sequels are:

These movies provide examples of:

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    Original Movie 
  • Acrophobic Bird: Petrie the Acrophobic Pterosaur. He spends the movie on the ground, afraid to fly.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: Given the variety of species from different times that appear in this movie, exactly when it's supposed to take place is anyone's guess. The sequels make it even more ambiguous, if that's possible.
    • If the first film is analyzed on its own, one could assume it takes place shortly after the K-Pg impact (since dinosaurs continued to exist for a few thousand years after the meteor struck) which would explain the near apocalyptic events the world is experiencing even before the earthquake. Considering Don Bluth never intended to make any sequels, this is the most likely scenario.
  • Anachronistic Animal: The series has a plethora of animals from various time periods in the Mesozoic era living together, as well as a few animals that lived before or after the Mesozoic such as the Dimetrodon (Permian) from the first film and the horned gophers (Miocene-Pliocene) from one episode of the TV series.
  • An Aesop:
    • Follow your heart. Littlefoot followed his mother's advice, and reached the Great Valley.
    • The right way is not always the easiest one. As a result of taking an alternate path, Cera put herself and the rest of the group in harm's way simply to prove her worth to her father.
  • Aquatic Hadrosaurs: Ducky is supposed to be some kind of hadrosaur, and she's the swimmer one among the five main heroes. "Swimmer" appears to be the term dinosaurs use for a hadrosaur in the sequels, reinforcing this stereotype. That said, Ducky herself doesn't spend much time in the water.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology:
    • While the opening narration gets "Before the mammoth and the mastodon" right, that's the extent of accuracy in this regard. While most of the species in the film are from the Late Cretaceous of North America, Littlefoot (an Apatosaurus) and Spike (a Stegosaurus) are both Jurassic. While Littlefoot and family could be Alamosaurus, a sauropod from the proper time and place, there's no excuse for Spike's appearance. Plus, an even older Dimetrodon is encountered halfway through the film. To put in perspective just how out of place a Dimetrodon is, it would be much less inaccurate to put a human in the film, at least if one judges purely by temporal proximity. The last Dimetrodons died out more than 200 million years before the late Cretaceous.
    • Said Dimetrodon in the film has a snake-like tongue and a wrongly-shaped sail. Apparently, it was meant to be a fin-backed lizard. Which could actually solve the anachronism issue, all things considered, since while Dimetrodon itself never coexisted with any dinosaurs, there's no reason to think a large fin-backed lizard didn't.
    • The dinosaurs have some more mammalian behaviors that dinosaurs likely didn't have, such as when Littlefoot's mother licks him after he hatches.
    • Every dinosaur has small, external ears like mammals, when dinosaurs most likely had simple bird-like ears (a pair of holes).
    • Sauropods in real life laid their eggs in large clutches and left them to fend for themselves, with very few hatchlings surviving to adulthood, meaning Littlefoot would never have met his mother to begin with.
  • Avian Flute: Shortly after Littlefoot is left on his own, there's a small interlude where a flock of small pterosaurs begin fighting over a small fruit. While not actually birds, they flutter about and chirp like modern birds, and their actions are scored by light-hearted flutes.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: Inverted. Lucas and Spielberg were turned off by certain scenes in the original cut because they were too scary for children. 11 minutes of footage were deleted to ensure a G rating instead of PG.
  • Award-Bait Song: "If We Hold On Together". It actually was never nominated but did hit the top 30 on the U.S. song charts.
  • Backing into Danger: Ducky walks backward right into an angry Sharptooth.
  • Behemoth Battle: Littlefoot's mother vs. Sharptooth, two of the biggest and most powerful dinosaurs in the franchise.
  • Big Bad: Sharptooth, who spends the movie pursuing the group with hostile intentions.
  • Big Damn Heroes: After earlier separating from the group, Cera shows up at the last fight with Sharptooth and provides the extra leverage Littlefoot and Spike need to tip the rock and Sharptooth into the water.
  • Big Shadow, Little Creature: Played for Drama, when Littlefoot mistakes his own shadow for his mother's.
  • Blatant Lies: Cera tells the group her own version of her encounter with Sharptooth in the underground, one where she attacked Sharptooth when he was awake and hunting for her. In actuality, she did the triceratops equivalent of poking a dead body. As soon as it turned out he was alive (and awake), she ran off terrified out of her mind like anyone would expect. Her lie is so blatant to Littlefoot that it makes him disbelieve her whole story, including the part where Sharptooth survived.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Littlefoot borrows Ducky's "Nope nope nope" at one point when he's annoyed with Petrie.
  • Break the Cutie: Littlefoot, when his mother dies from her wounds. His idealistic personality wouldn't recover until Ducky relates to him of her own lost family.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Between Littlefoot and the gang; after his fight with Cera, they abandon him and go with her, but they soon get in life threatening situations and are only saved when Litlefoot returns for them, thus restoring their faith in him.
  • Bullying a Dragon: When Cera sees the Sharptooth and thinks it's dead, she rams it several times and taunts it, only for it to awaken and start chasing her.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": The dinosaurs refer to themselves by descriptive names, such as long-necks, three-horns, spike-tails, etc. Oddly enough, they still refer themselves collectively as dinosaurs.
  • Call of the Wild Blue Yonder: Petrie tries hard to fly, but succeeds only in falling. During the Final Battle with Sharptooth, he finally manages to in order to save Duckie.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Nearly all the dinosaurs talk, except for the villainous carnivores which simply roar and growls. Petrie, a Pteranodon, is technically carnivorous, but the sequels show him as a plant-eater.
  • Cassandra Truth: Played with. Littlefoot doesn't believe Cera when she claims she saw Sharptooth is still alive, but then again, she filled her story with so many Blatant Lies that it's hard to blame him.
  • Chasing a Butterfly: Littlefoot and Cera chase a frog before their first encounter with Sharptooth. Ducky also chases after a bug when she first hatches.
  • Clean, Pretty Childbirth: The film has the baby dinosaurs hatching clean. Nobody knows for sure about dinosaurs, but modern reptiles and birds are usually wet and have some residue from being in the egg, until they're able to dry off.
  • Companion Food: Littlefoot, a young herbivorous Long-Neck carries around a tree-star, large (to a young child) star-shape green leaf on his back for 2/3rds of the movie as a Security Blanket and Tragic Keepsake of his deceased mother who gave it to him shortly before dying to a T-Rex attack. This is especially notable because the whole movie takes place during a wide-spread drought/famine which sets the course of the plot of whole dinosaur herds migrating in search of the Green Valley, a rumored paradise of food and peace. The leaf remains in largely great condition for the whole movie, in spite of it being worn on top of Littlefoot's back like a cloak as he travels across the land (including through an active volcano!) and used as a blanket by the whole protagonist group at one point... up until the climatic final encounter with the T-Rex where it gets stomped under its foot and torn to shreds in the process of Littlefoot and his companions panicking upon waking up and finding out they're in danger.
  • Crapsack World: The world outside the great valley is extremely forbidding, stark, lonely and dangerous.
  • Daddy's Girl: Cera's shown to be closer to her dad, even when her mom was still in the movie.
  • Disney Death: Petrie when it looks like he was crushed under the same boulder used to kill Sharptooth, but survives.
  • Disney Villain Death: Averted; Sharptooth appears to suffer from this early in the film, plummeting down a canyon during the earthquake, yet not only do we see his body later, but he turns out to be Not Quite Dead.
  • Dumb Dinos: Averted in the case of the main characters, who are sapient and can talk while Sharptooth can't. The sequels clarify the situation as less Sharpteeth being stupid and more that they have a separate language - Chomper, a sympathetic Sharptooth, is bilingual.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Besides having a very lavish art style and being fully animated, this film is much darker and more somber in tone than the 13 sequels, which are all lighthearted children's musicals.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Though a favorite trope of Bluth's, this movie takes it to a very high level for an animated film. First and foremost, Littlefoot loses his mother and is devastated over her death, which should make him alone a big enough victim of this trope. Both Ducky and Cera, and presumably Petrie as well, are separated from their families in an earthquake, and Spike appears to have been orphaned before he was even born. Later the group faces massive bouts of starvation during their journey, and have to avoid the ever looming threat of the Sharptooth, as Littlefoot tries to keep everyone together while trying to find the Great Valley. Fortunately, they do find it, and all of them get their families back, with Spike even ending up Happily Adopted by Ducky's family.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • In the scene where Cera is born, she is shown chasing her sisters while still mostly in her egg, followed by headbutting her father, showing her fierce and fearless nature.
    • On the other hand, when Ducky first hatches she happily chases after a fly and peeks into a snapping turtle's mouth, showing the friendliness, curiosity, and innocence that leads her to befriend Littlefoot.
    • When Spike hatches from his egg, the first thing he does is eat the tall grass that was surrounding his egg, establishing that he's got a big appetite.
  • Evil Egg Eater: In the prologue, a sinister-looking Ornithomimus attempts to steal Littlefoot's egg, but he gets stopped by Mama Longneck. However, it's implied the Ornithomimus had better luck in the past given that the other eggs were broken and Littlefoot is described as being the only baby left in the sauropod herd.
  • Eye Awaken: The scene where Cera charges at Sharptooth's face, only to have Sharptooth's menacing eye open and stare at her.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death:
    • Littlefoot's mother's death; You can see the Sharptooth tearing at her back in the shadow, and her wound as she continues to fight. Originally, this was shown full-on, but it was so scary that it was re-done to be seen only in shadows.
    • Sharptooth; A giant boulder falls on him and knocks him into a lake, whereupon he drowns.
  • Fantastic Racism: Between the dinosaur species, who prefer to stick to their own kind, and most prominent in Cera's family.
  • Giant Footprint Reveal: Littlefoot and his friends fall asleep in what turns out to be one of Sharptooth's footprints. This is made clear in the morning when Sharptooth appears and goes after the young dinos, placing his foot right on the print.
  • Gigantic Adults, Tiny Babies: True of all the youngsters except Petrie, who is much closer to his parent's size than the others. Especially notacable with Littlefoot, who is the same size as Cera and Spike despite his species, Apatosaur, being significantly larger than either triceratops or stegosaurus as adults. However, this is actually Truth in Television as even the largest of the long-necked herbivores were no bigger than puppies upon hatching.
  • Growling Gut: Happens to Ducky just before they meet Petrie. She says her stomach is talking.
  • Happily Adopted: Spike, by Ducky's family.
  • Happily Married: Littlefoot's grandparents, who definitely adore each other after many years of marriage.
  • Headbutting Pachy: A group of Pachycephalosaurus are seen ramming their heads together and into the ground; all in an attempt to attack Cera, without any injury.
  • Herbivores Are Friendly: The main characters are heroic herbivores (except for Petrie — Pteranodons ate fish). Averted with the vicious pachycephalosaurs that try to kill Cera.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Littlefoot's mother, who took the fatal wound from Sharptooth aimed at her son (though the subsequent earthquake also fueled her death).
  • Historical Badass Upgrade: While real life Tyrannosauruses were undoubtedly some of the most badass animals that ever existed, there was no way they'd be able to survive falling thousands of feet into a giant canyon, smash large boulders with their heads, or friggin' jump high enough to land on an Apatosaur's back!
  • The Homeward Journey: Albeit, they are heading toward a new home.
  • Human Ladder: The kids do this a couple times in the movie (except for Cera). The main example is the group standing on top of each other to reach leaves too high for any of them to reach alone.
  • I Warned You: Cera makes sure to rub it in Littlefoot's face after Sharptooth finally reappears before them.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While Cera's whole story about her encounter with Sharptooth was riddled with lies, the part about him still being alive was true. When Littlefoot blows off her warnings of the Tyrannosaur's coming mere moments before he attacks, it ends up hurting his credibility with the rest of the team, which causes them to start leaning more towards Cera's leadership.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Sharptooth, the antagonistic Tyrannosaurus, is extremely durable and agile for his size, able to shrug off multiple tail whips from Littlefoot's mother and respond by leaping through the air and landing on her back!
  • Mama Bear: Or rather, Mama Bronto. Littlefoot's mother provides one of the definitive examples in animation, using her massive, whip-like tail in an epic battle with an enraged T. rex, in defense of her son.
  • Monster-Shaped Mountain: "The rock that looks like a Longneck" is one of the landmarks that Littlefoot's mother teaches him to look for on the way to the Great Valley.
  • Mood Whiplash: We go from a heartwarming scene of Littlefoot, Cera, Ducky, Petrie, and Spike sleeping together at night to Cera waking up the next morning to discover that the Sharptooth is here, leading to the youngsters running for their lives and narrowly escaping through a hole in a canyon wall.
  • Motivation on a Stick: In the first scene after Spike has joined the group, Ducky is seen using some berries on a branch to lure Spike into following her and Littlefoot.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Any child, human or dinosaur, could immediately tell you the danger posed by a creature named "Sharptooth", the main villain.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • When Sharptooth has the herd cornered against a cliff, the cliff has a hole that goes through to the other side, but is too small for anyone to fit through. Cue Sharptooth violently headbutting the cliff while trying to bite down at the dinosaurs, and widening the hole into a conveniently sized doorway.
    • Later on, it is the Sharptooth's breath shooting up from its nose that gives Petrie the added push he needed, so that he can learn to fly. He then becomes instrumental in distracting the Sharptooth so the others can push the boulder down on it.
  • Non-Mammalian Hair: In a downplayed example, some of the dinosaur characters have eyelashes.
  • Off with Her Head!: Thankfully averted, a newborn Ducky jumps directly into the mouth of a giant snapping turtle. Thankfully, her mother manages to grab her in time.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Littlefoot's tree star, the only thing he has left in the world from before his mother was killed.
  • Parental Abandonment: Par for the course, as it's a Don Bluth film. All of the children are separated from their parents, Littlefoot by his mother's death and the great earthshake cutting him off from his grandparents, and Cera, Ducky and Petrie likewise split off from their families by the same earthshake. Spike, meanwhile, is separated from his family before he even hatches.
  • Prehistoria: Creatures portrayed range from Permian Dimetrodon to Cretaceous T-Rexes, and then there is the volcano/tar pit thing.
  • The Promised Land: The Great Valley. Played on the idealistic side.
  • Quicksand Sucks: Tar, actually. Averted, since while everyone but Cera falls in, they escape relatively easily and glue themselves together to prank her.
  • Recycled INSPACE: The film has gotten a reputation of being called "a prehistoric Bambi".
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Littlefoot, Cera, Ducky, Petrie and Spike. If you don't think the five of them are cute you may not have a pulse.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The novelization of the film shows that the reason why Sharptooth is so bent on killing the kids is because, when Littlefoot and Cera tried to escape from him, the thorns cut Sharptooth's eye.
  • Scenery Porn: The animation is just beautiful.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Petrie screeches at the sight of anything daunting throughout the movie. A particularly chilling Played for Drama case occurs during the climax however when he is dragged down a cliff with Sharptooth to his seeming death.
  • Security Blanket: As mentioned above in Companion Food, Littlefoot's treasured tree-star behaves as this for him. Littlefoot briefly expresses anger toward the remorseful Petrie who attempts to bite into it, not knowing the immense sentimental value Littlefoot has for it.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: The fight between Littlefoot's Mother and Sharptooth has an instance where, after putting him down briefly, she tries to get Littlefoot and Cera to safety. Sharptooth then viciously flings himself through the air at her, and the film cuts to the horrified reactions of the youngsters. In spite of this, the shadows of the struggle can still be seen, showing Sharptooth biting and tearing a huge lump of flesh out of her back (the wound that leads to her death).
  • Shown Their Work: For the time, and remember it was 1988 and the complete remains of some of the featured species (especially Tyrannosaurus) hadn't been found yet, this was the most accurate dinosaur movie ever made (ignoring the Anachronism Stew and Talking Animal issues). Even today, the care put into the film is impressive.
  • Sky Face: Littlefoot sees his mother's silhouette in the clouds when he's wandering around alone.
  • Slasher Smile: Cera grins pretty mischievously when she discovers the Sharptooth's (not quite dead) corpse, when deciding to use him for ramming practice. The way she licks her lips when she catches up to that beetle she was chasing at the beginning also deserves mention.
  • Sleep Cute: The five young dinosaurs all spend the night huddled together on the way to the Great Valley.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Mostly on the idealistic end with a heavy, HEAVY dose of Earn Your Happy Ending.
  • Species Surname: A variation, in that the dinosaurs' words for each other are usually derived from their scientific names. For example, Triceratops = Three Horn.
  • Stock Sound Effect: While not pertaining to the film itself, Frank Welker's vocals for the Sharptooth would be recycled for numerous monsters and creatures not only for several of the sequels, but for other media too.
  • Strange-Syntax Speaker: Petrie uses "me" in place of "I".
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Sharptooth is actually behaving exactly how a predator behaves in this dire situation. In the lack of significant food sources, a lone predator will often pursue individual targets for several days until he either finds easier food elsewhere, or is injured or killed. And a group of infants without a herd to protect them, in real life, would be an extremely easy meal. Luckily, our protagonists are smarter than their real life counterparts. Also, he stops chasing the young dinosaurs and runs for his life when the earthquake comes (although he still takes a chomp at them as they are clinging on a cliff right above him). The novelization further justifies it: even by Sharptooth standards, he's far more psychotic and openly sadistic than most and is pursuing them both for food and for bruising his ego.
  • Taunting the Unconscious: Subverted. Cera finds Sharptooth apparently either dead or unconscious after being knocked into a crevasse by Littlefoot's mother Mama Longneck. After a moment of fearful hiding, she decides to prove she's not afraid of him by sticking her tongue out right in front of him and headbutting him. Then he immediately wakes up, and the terrified Cera high-tails it out of there.
  • Temperceratops: Cera is a Triceratops and by far the most belligerent, short-tempered, and unpleasant member of the group. By all appearances, she got it from her father.
  • "They've Come So Far" Song: 'If We Hold On Together,' with its line "You've come so far, don't throw it away..."
  • Too Dumb to Live: Cera encounters a knocked-out Sharptooth, and after he doesn't react to her screaming in terror, she assumes he's dead and decides to taunt his alleged corpse and ram it.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Rambunctious, rough-edged Cera and gentle, compassionate Ducky.
  • Tongue-Out Insult: Cera sticks out her tongue at the knocked out Sharptooth before waking him up.
  • True Companions: "There had never been such a herd before." And the original final line of the film, from Littlefoot, "Now we'll always be together."
  • Tsundere: Cera. She has her nice moments but when she gets angry, look out.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Averted. Littlefoot's plan to get rid of Sharptooth once and for all doesn't go quite as seamlessly as expected, but still works even though he explained it all in detail.
  • Unusual Animal Alliance: The narrator points out that, "There had never been such a herd before."
  • Verbal Tic: Ducky. Yup, yup, yup. note 
  • The Voiceless:
    • Spike, although he can be heard saying "Food" in a foreign version and speaks twice in the sequels.
    • Sharptooth as well, except roaring viciously. The sequels establish that most carnivores speak a different language from herbivores, which the latter only comprehends as growling noises.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Cera's mother and siblings are never seen in the valley, nor is there any sign of them in the many sequels. Topps eventually gets a new love interest and the way this is handled suggests they're still alive, but that's the only clue we get as to what happened to them. Ducky also had a father present in her family in this film. However, he was removed for the sequels out of respect for the real life tragedy (Ducky's voice actor Judith Barsi was murdered by her father not long before the film came out (All Dogs Go to Heaven, in which she was the speaking voice of Anne-Marie, was also released after Barsi's murder)).
  • Why Are You Looking at Me Like That?: Ducky has this reaction to the idea of her being used as Sharptooth bait.
  • The Window or the Stairs: Cera and the other dinosaurs refuse to follow Littlefoot's instructions on where to go to find the Great Valley, instead taking an easier path. Their "easier path" winds up getting Petrie stuck in tar and almost drowning in it, Ducky and Spike getting trapped and nearly killed in a deadly lava flow, and Cera coming within seconds of being killed by a pack of aggressive pachycephalosaurus.
  • Xenophobic Herbivore: The different species of herbivores seem to have quite a bit of Fantastic Racism toward each other; as Cera puts it, "three-horns don't play with longnecks". The most extreme examples are the cave-dwelling pachycephalosaurs that Cera encounters, who try to outright kill her by ramming her with their domed heads.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: When Petrie tries to join Littlefoot after the others go with Cera, but is unable to follow solely because of how unstable the surface he's climbing on is. And he can't fly.

    Sequels — General 
  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: From Movie VI on, particularly in X: The Great Longneck Migration, as MarzGurl points out. Most likely because Wang Film Productions had a sister company that specialized in CG (Sony Imageworks did the CG for film VI however).
  • A Lizard Named "Liz": A hypsolophodon named Hyp, a Pteranodon named Pterano, a Muttaburrasaurus named Mutt, an Opthalmosaurus named Mo (a more subtle example, look at the seventh and eighth letters), a Brontosaurus (technically Apatosaurus) named Bron, a Supersaurus named Sue and a Nodosaurus named Nod. Good grief.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: It becomes a staple personality trait of Spike. Even Ali does it to Petrie! And Petrie blushes when she does so, implying this is the dinosaur way of kissing. One wonders what this mean when applied to the other examples...
  • Animated Musical: Unlike the original, all of the sequels are musicals.
  • Art Evolution: Starting with The Stone of Cold Fire, Wang Film Productions replaces AKOM as overseas studio, in addition to ditching the hand-painted cel method in favor of digital ink and paint.
  • Artifact Title: The film's Brazilian title was "Em Busca do Vale Encantado" (In Search of the Enchanted Valley). As it was already found in the first film, the title made no sense at the sequels.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: While it's still debatable how broad Pteranodon's diet might have been (e.g. just fish, or fish plus other sea critters), there's no question that leaves were not on its menu. Vegetation takes so long to digest, and has to be consumed in such quantities due to its low nutrient content, that an herbivorous Pteranodon would be too loaded down by its food to fly. Petrie's diet is never mentioned in the original film, and the idea of him being an herbivore is purely a sequel invention.
  • Big Good: Grandpa Longneck is this for the Great Valley, with Topsy as his Number Two. They’re the leaders for the most part and the most protective/willing to fight.
  • Bloodless Carnage: In a few films like 2, 3, 4, 6, 10, and 11. Inverted in 5, which has visible blood at least twice. Even the first movie, which is by far the most violent, didn't have a single drop of blood shown.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Ducky's father appeared at the end of the original movie, and is seen in a few early sequels, but is never seen nor mentioned from the sixth movie onward.
    • Cera's mother and siblings disappear in the sequels without mention. Which is especially odd because she's stated to be an aunt in Secret of Saurus Rock...
  • Continuity Drift:
    • Only a handful of the sequels remember that the dinosaurs migrated to the Great Valley. Most of them act as if the dinosaurs have been living there for generations, with Mr. Thicknose being the most biggest example since he claims he's never been outside the Great Valley. Likewise, the idea of the Mysterious Beyond makes no sense since it was where everyone lived before they found the Great Valley.
    • In the original film, "Sharptooth" was the name of the film's Big Bad. In the sequels, it becomes a general term for carnivorous dinosaurs.
  • Cousin Oliver: Cera's niece and nephew, Dinah and Dana, as well as Cera's half-sister, Tricia.
  • Evil Egg Eater: The ornithomimids in this film series are referred as "Egg Stealers" and are not the pleasant bunch.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend:
    • Littlefoot mourns for his mom a good deal of the first film, but only mentions her a grand total of three times during the following twelve sequels, one of which is just a passing reference about not leaving him any siblings. Presumably the writers were uncomfortable about bringing up such a dark topic in a kid's series.
    • In the song "Always There" from The Land Before Time V, Littlefoot quotes from her.
    • She also got a big mention in The Great Longneck Migration when Littlefoot met his father, and appears in a flashback.
    • The opening prologue of Journey of the Brave recounts that "the perils of this world claimed Littlefoot's mother", and how Littlefoot's family was torn apart.
  • Genre Shift: Executive Meddling aside the first film was still pretty dark and serious. The sequels are lighter musicals-comedies, particularly The Wisdom of Friends, which fans tend to pretend never existed. Thankfully, Journey of the Brave returns to a somewhat bearable quality.
  • Help, I'm Stuck!: Spike is a frequent victim of this.
  • Imagine Spot: "Imaginary Friends", "Big Water", "Adventuring". It's quite uncanny.
  • Informed Species: Guido is a Microraptor but has a toothless parrot-like beak instead of a dromeosaur head and lacks the signature wing-like legs of his species. Also, he’s blue even though evidence shows his species was black.
  • The Lancer: Topsy is this to Grandpa Longneck, though on many occasions they seem to be equal in power.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the original film. The lightness tends to go up and down depending on which sequel you're watching. In general, films 2-10 are the darker ones, with 2, 4, 5, 7, and 10 being the darkest of those. Films 11-13 are much more light-hearted, featuring an almost sitcom tone about them. Film 14 goes back to the tone of the older sequels more or less, although not quite as dark as the darkest of them.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: The franchise has many species of dinosaurs which lived millions of years apart all living in the same period.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Extremely apparent by the point that the intended demographic has already grown up.
    • While the changes in Ducky and Cera character's voice actors could be seen (by someone who did not know of the change in cast) as their voices aging, Littlefoot's voice actor has had to change seven times because the voice actors kept reaching puberty.
  • Off-Model: An unfortunate side effect from outsourcing to South Korea and Taiwan. However, the later films by Wang do see a (slight) uptick in quality as the series goes on as opposed to AKOM's, which go the opposite direction.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted in the case of the term "Sharptooth". Not only is it the name of the Big Bad of the original movie, the term is also used to specifically describe Tyrannosaurus Rexes, and is a general term for carnivores, meaning the following is a valid sentence: "Sharptooth is a Sharptooth, which makes him a Sharptooth." note 
  • Papa Wolf and Mama Bear: The parents of the five main characters, but also Chomper's parents. They were willing to enter the Great Valley to search for their child (whom Littlefoot and his friends accidentally brought in when trying to rescue another egg that Ozzy and Strut stole), and when they saw Chomper in danger, they made absolute certain that whoever harmed them paid in full, even doing so to members of their own kind.
  • Playing the Heart Strings: Both "Always There" and "We Will Always Be Your Friends" are moving songs that use string instruments to some degree.
  • Raptor Attack: The third, seventh, and eleventh films feature scaly raptors.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: In every sequel but 11 (and technically 9 where it was just on their way to saving themselves) they broke the rule of staying in The Great Valley to save someone.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Grandpa Longneck and Cera's father. The former is friendly, soft-spoken and nurturing, while the latter is tough, aggressive and short-tempered. They become foils in the third film where they clash over parenting methods and how to handle a crisis.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Sure they may not be living in the right place or the right time, nor do they look very realistic, but the variety (and obscurity) of some of the dinosaurs featured is quite astounding. It may be the most redeeming feature of the sequels.
    • Feathered dinosaurs appear from time to time, though they're not quite feathered enough.
    • Despite being an Oviraptor, Ruby doesn't have that dinosaur's Stock Animal Diet of eggs. She prefers to much on plants (and, in one episode, clams), making her an omnivore like her species was in real life.
    • The Triceratops all have reasonably accurate skin covering, with crocodile-like scales on their bellies and thick armored scales on their backs.
  • Slice of Life: While it keeps to the natural prehistoric environment of the original film, the sequels feature much more of this.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: The only way to tell the females apart from the males is their color schemes, eye lashes, and voices. Although even the eye lashes aren't always consistent; occasionally male characters, most notably Littlefoot, have them too.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: Part of the sequels' Lighter and Softer nature. Though most of the segues into songs are rather well done for children's movies, and at least they make the songs fit in with the story. Except for that bit in "Journey To Big Water" when Ducky comments that they should sing to pass the time. Cue an inferior rendition of "Big Water", a song from the fifth film.
  • Vegetarian Carnivore: Pteranodon ate fish in real life, but Petrie, his family, and every other Pteranodon seen in the franchise are portrayed as herbivores in the sequels.
  • Villain Decay: The majority of the Sharpteeth in the sequels aren't close to the threat the original was. Justified as the original was implied to be abnormally dangerous even by Sharptooth standards and according to the novel was actively malevolent and psychopathic whereas most of the others are simply trying to eat and thus more likely to back off if the heroes put up too much of a fight.
  • Villainous Badland, Heroic Arcadia: This is largely played straight in the first few movies, where the peaceful herbivores live in the lush and idyllic Great Valley, seemingly the only hospitable land left in the world, while the outside lands where the villainous carnivores live are wastelands of rock, deserts and tar pits. This falls by the wayside by later movies, however, as the outside lands come to be green, lush and with their own populations of peaceful dinosaurs, with the only inhospitable part remaining being the continuing presence of predators.
  • Vocal Evolution: Petrie infamously going through his “reverse puberty” in the third or fourth sequel Jeff Bennet voices him. Littlefoot’s voice also gets a bit deeper in the last movie where Thomas Dekker voices him, in this case due to Dekker going through actual puberty.

    TV Show 
  • Adults Are Useless:
    • Hoo boy. One episode has Spike trapped in a hole, so Mister Thicknose and Topps come to help. They spend so long arguing that the kids get Spike out themselves, then the two begin arguing over whose method would have gotten Spike out faster if they hadn't been arguing.
    • An episode where the gang eat a bunch of sweet fruits that were keeping the valley safe could have been avoided if the adults had shown the children where the trees were and said "These fruits smell bad to predators, they may look tasty but if we ate them predators could get in." Instead the adults look shocked that the children ate these amazingly important fruits... that they didn't know existed more than a few days ago.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: From "March of the Sand-Creepers", after Cera finally blows up at Scuttle for asking the Gang one favor too many.
    Cera: You have to go to the Great Valley!
    Scuttle: Why should I?
    Cera: Because without the other sand-creepers, WHO'S GONNA LISTEN TO YOUR DUMB STORIES?!
    Scuttle: (taken back) Well, you got me.
  • Continuity Nod: One of the strongest points about the show is that it's willing to bring up characters and events from previous films, showing that these characters and events did matter.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: The episode "The Canyon of Shiny Stones" is made of this trope (although they do, at least, remember that volcanoes produce choking smoke).
  • Doing In the Wizard: In one episode, the gang and Mr. Thicknose go off looking for a legendary dinosaur called "Hidden Runner", thought to be a super fast, carnivorous dinosaur that can instantly turn itself invisible. At the end of the episode, we learn that Hidden Runner is fast, but not super fast and his "invisibility" is actually his cryptically colored skin allowing him to camouflage himself. He kind of looks like a featherless Troodon.
  • Evil Egg Eater: Defied. Despite being an Oviraptor, Ruby is depicted as one of the protagonists with an omnivore diet and her species referred as a "Fast Runner" rather than an "Egg Stealer".
  • God Guise: Happens to Spike in "Stranger From the Mysterious Above", where a colony of horned gophers believe him to be the "Big Wise One" from their legends.
  • Gone Horribly Right: In one episode, to stop Ali's friend Rhett from boasting, the kids stage a plan to make Chomper look extremely dangerous and fierce. While Rhett does get scared off, this leads his and Ali's herd to try and drive Chomper out of the Great Valley.
  • I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham: The episode where Chomper loses his tooth has a subplot where Tria takes Cera and some of the other kids to her secret mud pool. Cera is at first very unenthusiastic about sitting in mud all day, but when Tria urges her to give it a try, and she discovers that the mud is warm, she ends up liking it just as much as the others.
  • Informed Ability: Red Claw is stated to be the biggest and most dangerous Sharptooth around. Considering his accomplishments so far, including retreating from having fruit thrown at him, as well as the tone of the TV series, this is a status he will never live up to.
  • Jerkass Ball: Ducky in "Search for the Sky Color Stones". Especially jarring since she never acts this way before or after.
  • Lighter and Softer: More so than the sequels, being a series aimed at pre-school aged children.
  • Malicious Misnaming: With a bit of Accidental Misnaming, when Rhett confronts Littlefoot for questioning his bravery.
    Rhett: Oh, yeah, Littleneck?
    Littlefoot: My name is Littlefoot.
  • Musicalis Interruptus: In "Return to Hanging Rock", Ruby gets interrupted before she finishes singing "Feel So Happy".
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The episode "The Hidden Canyon" has the kids finding a canyon filled with delicious tree sweets that they scarf down. It's only after they eat a lot of tree sweets that they discover that the smell of them is rancid to Sharpteeth, and their eating the sweets is lessening the potency of the smell, thus making it easier for the Sharpteeth to enter the Great Valley...
  • Noodle Incident: How exactly the gang met Ruby and the Great Valley accepted Chomper is never shown.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: In "Search for the Sky Color Stones", Ducky uncharacteristically acts like a greedy hoarder when she finds many geodes to the point she no longer trusts her friends, who are clearly disturbed by this.
  • Outliving One's Offspring:
    • Littlefoot's grandparents outlive their daughter, who famously suffers a fatal injury protecting her son from a Tyrannosaurus Rex. In the sequels we see them filling the void by lovingly raising their grandson.
    • Heavily implied to be the case with Cera's father. Cera's clutch included three other hatchlings, and after the Great Earthshake, Cera makes a point of not needing the other children because she's going to find her sisters again. While Cera is reunited with her father at the end of the movie, Cera's mother and clutchmates are nowhere to be seen, and they never show up in the sequels.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Cera, upon reaching her Rage-Breaking Point from receiving one request from Scuttle too many, gives one to the crustacean who counters that with one of his own.
    Cera: That DOES it! Of all the mean and nasty, low-down creepy-crawlers!
    Scuttle: And you, lady! Your tongue is sharp as your horn and your heart twice as hard!
  • Remember the New Guy?: Ruby wasn't in any of the movies made prior to the series, and yet the others treat her like a long-time friend. Justified since the series take place after the movies prior, which gave the gang plenty of time to meet and know her.
  • Suddenly Speaking: The TV episode "Through the Eyes of a Spiketail" has it so the audience can hear what Spike's thinking.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: Often, and it rarely goes deeper than sad, mad, or glad. Considering the original movie's handling of boundless joy and crippling grief, this is a little jarring.
  • To the Tune of...: Several songs in the show reuse the melodies of previous songs, whether from the movies or from the show.
  • Translation Convention: Averted in the episode where Chomper and one of the Fast Biters get trapped together. They both speak the Sharptooth language to each other, and there are subtitles at the bottom of the screen.
  • Would Hurt a Child: At one point, Ali's herd corners Chomper and make it very clear that they intend to kill him. He speaks up to say "please don't hurt me", they're stunned by this...and then they decide to kill him anyway.
  • You Can Talk?:
    • Ali's herd reaction to Chomper saying "Please don't hurt me."
    • This is also the gang's reaction to Scuttle being able to speak their language, unlike the other crabs.

Alternative Title(s): Land Before Time



Littlefoot's mother passes after sustaining injuries against Sharptooth. Distraught, Littlefoot tries to call her to no avail.

How well does it match the trope?

4.87 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / PleaseWakeUp

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