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Western Animation / The Land Before Time

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"All that remained of his herd were his mother, grandmother and his grandfather. He knew them by sight, by sound, 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 homes for the Great Valley, a place of promise and opportunity. Along the way, a sauropod ("Long Neck") named Littlefoot becomes separated from his group and watches his mother die to protect him from a Tyrannosaurus ("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 amazing 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. The series also had a short running TV show in 2008 that lasted for one season; when this ended the series seemed to be headed towards a hard earned retirement.

Or was it? After almost nine years since the last one, a fourteenth movie was finally released on February 2nd, 2016.

The sequels are:

  • The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure (1994): The gang find a mysterious egg just outside the Great Valley, and hatch it, finding that it's a Sharptooth egg.
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  • The Land Before Time III: The Time of the Great Giving (1995): A drought hits the Great Valley, and the dinosaurs within begin to crack under the strain.
  • The Land Before Time IV: Journey Through the Mists (1996): Grandpa Longneck gets sick with a deadly illness. With the help of fellow Longneck Ali, Littlefoot and his friends journey to find the flowers that are the cure.
  • The Land Before Time V: The Mysterious Island (1997): When locusts consume all the green food in the Great Valley, the herds leave to find more food, but Littlefoot and his friends get stuck on a strange island populated by Sharptooths... and their old friend Chomper!
  • The Land Before Time VI: The Secret of Saurus Rock (1998): Littlefoot meets a dinosaur he assumes is "The Lone Dinosaur," and accidentally damaged a very important stone, bringing bad luck to the Valley.
  • The Land Before Time VII: The Stone of Cold Fire (2000): The gang, in addition to two mysterious outsiders, must race Peitre's uncle Pterano to find a magical meteor.
  • The Land Before Time VIII: The Big Freeze (2001): The Valley is once again put in danger, this time by a massive cold spell, while Spike meets members of his own kind.
  • The Land Before Time IX: Journey to Big Water (2002): When the Valley floods, Littlefoot meets a swimming creature called Mo and helps him get back to the Ocean (the titular "Big Water").
  • The Land Before Time X: The Great Longneck Migration (2003): Littlefoot and his grandparents, following instinct, leave the valley to find The Great Circle, Littlefoot's friends following along. In addition, Littlefoot meets his father, Bron.
  • The Land Before Time XI: Invasion of the Tinysauruses (2004): After accidentally getting rid of the fruits of a certain tree, Littlefoot blames a colony of tiny Longnecks. Meanwhile, Cera's father gets together with his old girlfriend, Tria.
  • The Land Before Time XII: The Great Day of the Flyers (2006): Tria and Cera's father are getting ready to bring a new hatchling into the world. Petrie is having trouble with a precision flying exhibition the flyers are putting on, and the gang helps a microraptor named Guido, who doesn't know what he is.
  • The Land Before Time XIII: The Wisdom of Friends (2007): Littlefoot and friends help two dinosaurs to the distant Berry Valley.
  • The Land Before Time XIV: Journey of the Brave (2016): After learning that his dad is in trouble, Littlefoot sets off on a rescue mission to find him. Features Chomper's third film appearance, Bron's second and Ruby's first. Takes place after the TV series. Currently the most recent film released.

Time to teach the kids Roman numerals! Oh, wait...

These movies provide examples of:

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    Original Movie 
  • Acrophobic Bird: Petrie the Acrophobic Pterosaur.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Your child wanders off in the middle of the night to play, and nearly gets eaten by a vicious predator.
    • The earthquake invokes this in spades, since most of the kids got separated from their parents this way. And the earthquake happened at the break of dawn, so most of the dinosaurs woke up to a terrible natural disaster that killed off and divided their families, and most of them were helpless as their kids were killed, lost, or separated by the moving ground.
    Narrator: In this time of the clashing continents, a great earthquake split the land. Herds were divided. Families were cut in two. Littlefoot was separated from his grandparents. Cera was on one side of the divide. Her parents were on the other.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • The dinosaurs have some more mammalian behaviors that dinosaurs likely didn't have, such as when Littlefoot's mother licks him after he hatches.
  • Award-Bait Song: "If We Hold On Together".
  • Berserk Button:
    • Aside from the bout of depression he experiences in the first part of the film, the only time the normally level-headed Littlefoot loses it is when Cera insults his mother.
    • Also, trying to hurt Littlefoot when his mother is around. Even if you do happen to be a T. rex.
  • Big Damn Heroes: a small but notable one for Cera, who shows up at the last fight with Sharptooth and provides the extra leverage Littlefoot and Spike needed to tip the rock and Sharptooth into the water.
  • Big Shadow, Little Creature: Played for Drama in the first film, when Littlefoot mistakes his own shadow for his mother's.
  • Blatant Lies: Cera tells her own version of her encounter with Sharptooth in the underground to the group. A version where she attacked Sharptooth when he was awake and hunting for her. What actually happened, is that 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 was so blatant to Littlefoot, that he disbelieved all of her story, including the part where Sharptooth survived.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Littlefoot borrow's Ducky's "Nope nope nope" at one point when he's annoyed with Petrie.
  • Break the Cutie: Littlefoot, when his mother dies.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Between Littlefoot and the gang, after his fight with Cera.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": The dinosaurs are referred to by descriptive names, such as long-necks, three-horns, spike-tails, etc. This is actually a bit of Fridge Brilliance as the dinosaurs would not have known the names humans would give them, so the various dinosaur species are named based on what they looked like.
    • However, in the sequels, it seems that at least some dinosaurs somehow know the names they are given by humans. An example is shown when Ozzie mentions his species name Struthiomimus.
    • This is also a great Author's Saving Throw for the time period issues stated above. Sure, Littlefoot and family LOOK like Brontosauruses (which did not exist in the time period the film is supposedly set in), but they are never called that, so you can just look up a similar looking sauropod from the late Cretaceous and say that's what they are.
    • This could also have something to do with the fact that many of the scientific names dinosaurs have been given are not that easy to pronounce. For example, “long-neck” is somewhat easier to say than “Apatosaurus.”
  • 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: Using the "Carnivores Are Mean" subtrope.
  • Cassandra Truth: Played with. Littlefoot doesn't believe Cera when she claims she met Sharptooth, but then she filled her story with so many Blatant Lies that it's hard to blame him.
    • And, again, it can be hard to blame Littlefoot for not believing that Sharptooth really could have survived the deep fall from earlier regardless of Cera's story. Unlike most instigators of this trope, he at least has the decency to apologise when ignoring her warnings nearly leaves the team an open target.
  • Central Theme:
  • 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.
  • Cherubic Choir
  • Clean, Pretty Childbirth: The film has the baby dinosaurs hatching totally 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.
  • Crapsack World: The world outside the great valley is extremely forbidding, stark, lonely and dangerous. At least in the earlier films...
  • 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: Sharptooth, who gets crushed under a boulder and drowns.
  • 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, the first film is much darker and more somber in tone than the 13 sequels, which are lighthearted childrens 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 entire 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.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Tar Monster that seems like it's going to eat Cera only to be revealed that it's just Littlefoot and the others stuck together with tar.
  • 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:
    • The death of Sharptooth. Not to mention Petrie being pulled down with him. Petrie gets better, thankfully.
    • 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 so it was seen only in the shadow.
  • Fantastic Racism: Between the dinosaur species, most prominent in Cera's family.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Gigantic Adults, Tiny Babies: True of all the youngsters except Petrie, who is much closer to his parent's size than the others.
  • Gory Discretion Shot/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).
  • Growling Gut: Happens to Ducky just before they meet Petrie.
  • Happily Adopted: Spike, by Ducky's family.
  • Happily Married: Littlefoot's grandparents, who definitely adore each other after many years of marriage.
  • Herbivores Are Friendly: The main characters are heroic herbivores (except for Petrie — pterosaurs ate fish).
  • 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, or smash large boulders with their heads.
  • The Homeward Journey: Albeit, they are heading toward a new home.
  • Human Ladder: The Five-Man Band does this a couple times in the movie (except for Cera).
  • Humiliation Conga: Cera gets this after going the wrong way.
  • I Warned You: Cera makes sure to rub it in Littlefoot's face after Sharptooth finally reappears before them.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Cera.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Want to know if they make it to the great valley or not? Don't watch the sequels, then.
  • Mad Eye: Littlefoot accidentally injures Sharptooth's right eye—thus, the few times it's open, it looks swollen and has visible veins.
    • Look closely and you'll see his eye was already shut before being struck in the thorn-bush. It was probably already wounded beforehand.
    • Oddly, when Cera awakens Sharptooth, his eye is yellow with a cat-like pupil.
  • 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.
  • Melodrama: Very much.
  • 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.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Without context it might be a response to her Humiliation Conga, but the narrator makes clear her realization of her wrongdoing despite her pride preventing her from admitting it; after nearly getting her friends killed in a lava flow and narrowly escaping death herself from a pack of predators, Cera skulks off on her own before breaking down into sobbing.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: It's 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.
    • Earlier in the movie, 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.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Littlefoot's tree star.
  • Parental Abandonment: Par for the course, as it's a Don Bluth film.
  • Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Spike is shown being born in a patch of grass in the middle of the movie, by which time the rest of the main cast has gotten a chance to become kids. Cue an exterior shot of the patch of grass, which Spike comes out of the same size as the biggest of his friends, twice as big as he was a few seconds ago.
  • Prehistoria: Creatures portrayed come 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.
  • Real Is Brown: The best known animated feature to apply this trope. It is to the point where no two promotional items agreed exactly what Petrie's real color scheme was.
  • Recycled INSPACE: The original 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 novel version 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
  • 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.
  • Shorttank: Cera.
  • Shown Their Work: For the time, and remember it was thirty-odd years ago 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. Not quite the same symbolism, as she's just been killed and her grieving son is seeing her shape in rocks and shadows too.
  • Slasher Smile: Cera grins pretty mischievously when she discovers the Sharptooth's (not quite dead) corpse, when deciding to use him as ramming practice. The way she licks her lips when she catches up to that beetle she was chasing at the beginning also deserves mention.
  • 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 Dinosaurs: An Apatosaurus for the obligatory sauropod (more anatomically accurate than most other movie "brontos" (the non-aquaticness and raised tails!), but still called Brontosaurus in releases), Triceratops, Pteranodon, Stegosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus all play major roles in the film. And then we have the mammal-relative Dimetrodon with a snake-tongue. Struthiomimus, Parasaurolophus, Diplodocus, and what appears to be a Compsognathus make brief appearances as well. There are some aversions though: the hadrosaur of the gang belong to the relatively obscure Saurolophus (Parasaurolophus according to the producers); the armoured dinosaur Rooter is an old-fashioned Scolosaurus and not the usual Ankylosaurus; a bale of the sea turtle Archelon are seen in the opening; a flock of the pterosaur Sordes (with pycnofibres) witness Littlefoot's birth; what appears to be a hypsilophodontid and a Dimorphodon are seen along with the animals fleeing from the earthquake; and this is perhaps the first time that the bone-headed Pachycephalosaurus appeared in a notable popular work, portrayed as a vicious pack of racist bullies. The only stock dinosaur from the today Five Man Band which is missing is Velociraptor, but only because the film is older than Jurassic Park (surprisingly, raptors do appear in the first sequel made after Spielberg's film).
  • 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: Ducky and Petrie.
  • 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.
  • "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.
  • True Companions: "There had never been such a herd before." and the original final line "We'll always be together."
  • Tsundere: Cera.
  • Ungrateful Bitch: Cera insults Littlefoot's mother at one point, the same dinosaur who died saving her life.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Averted; the plan doesn't go quite as seamlessly as expected but still works even though Littlefoot explained it all in detail.
  • Unusual Animal Alliance: The narrator points out that the world 'has never seen a herd like this before'.
  • Vegetarian Carnivore: Pteranodon ate fish in real life, but Petrie, his family, and every other Pteranodon seen in the franchise are herbivores.
  • Verbal Tic: Ducky. Yup, yup, yup. The words were actually placed on Judith Barsi's gravestone (she was murdered before the movie's premiere by her father).
  • The Voiceless: Spike, although he can be heard saying "Food" in a foreign version and speaks twice in the sequels.
    • Sharptooth as well, exepct roaring viciously. It's unknown if he can talk but he simply chooses to not doing it or perhaps in carnivores can't talk like the rest of the dinosaurs.
  • 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 first 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 after the film came out).
  • Why Are You Looking at Me Like That?: Littlefoot uses Ducky 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 trapping them all in a deadly lava flow.
  • 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.

  • Adults Are Useless:
    • In Journey Through the Mists, all the adult dinosaurs are concerned about the health of Littlefoot's grandpa, but none are brave enough to risk personal safety to find the flowers that have the cure. The old one does say "There is safety in numbers", yet doesn't act on it in terms of retrieving the flower.
    • Possibly lampshaded in The Stone of Cold Fire, when Grandma Longneck states that the children have gone off on their own, and Ducky's mother comments "Of course they did! They saw us all just standing around arguing here..!"
    • Averted in The Great Valley Adventure, when the adults kick some serious ass fighting off the sharpteeth. In fact, learning to accept that adults are stronger and more experienced is something of a theme in the movie.
    • Zigzagged in Journey of the Brave. Aside from the main plot being about the kids deliberately setting out to save an adult, none of the other adults seem to be willing to do anything to help. Grandpa and Mr Threehorn do follow after the kids to make sure they're alright, but even then, they catch up literally seconds after the kids have already done all the work rescuing Bron.
  • Adult Fear:
    • A constant fear that plays in the adult dinosaurs' minds is losing their children and grandchildren. They either worry about them being killed and eaten by predators, dying from natural disasters, and other ways possible.
    • Invoked particularly hard with Littlefoot's grandparents, who've lost their only daughter. In the second movie, while lecturing Littlefoot on the importance of being careful, they flat out tell him "you are all we have."
  • 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: In the second movie, Chomper licks Littlefoot's face on more than one occasion. It also 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...
  • 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.
  • Big "NO!": Littlefoot gets one of these in The Land Before Time IX: Journey to Big Water, as he watches Mo lead the swimming sharptooth away.
  • Big Shadow, Little Creature: Chomper in the fifth movie. Also in the second movie. In fact, this actually saved his friends from Ozzy and Strut. They eventually wised up, although by that point they were too late as Chomper's parents were still in the Great Valley. It was also used earlier in the second film when Strut saw the main charactes' shadows and thought they were full grown adults. "Very Big."
  • Bioluminescence Is Cool: In the fourth film, the plants that Littlefoot and company are searching for illuminate at when the night falls.
  • Bloodless Carnage: In a few films like 2, 3, 4, 6, 10, and 11. Inverted in 5 which has visible blood at least twice.
  • Breakout Character: Chomper was originally just a guest character brought in for the second film. Then he was brought back for the fifth film, and then he became a main character for the TV series, almost to the point where he became a Spotlight Hog.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Ozzie in II, where he mentions he's a Struthiomimus. First, this breaks the series' tradition of using dinosaur euphemisms. Second, he should not even know his scientific name since it was given by humans ages later.
  • Broken Pedestal: For Petrie towards Pterano in 7.
  • 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.
  • Conspicuous CG: 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).
  • Continuity Drift: In the original film, Ducky was designated as a Bigmouth. In the sequels, she was instead called a Swimmer.
    • Swimmer was more of an interchangeable term that wasn't really the species "name". The new term they use is Duckbill, which makes less sense considering the naming schemes of the other species (and the fact they can't know what a duck is) but the name change might have come from "Bigmouth" sounding like an insult? Especially with the sequels seemingly aimed at progressively younger audiences.
      • "Swimmer" is also a case of Science Marches On as the dinosaur renaissance showed hadrosaurs were not actually well adapted for swimming.
    • In the first film, Littlefoot's mother refers to Ducky's species as a Swimmer as well (she specifically lists the four species that Littlefoot would later travel with, and says Swimmer instead of Bigmouth).
    • 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 Mysterious Beyond makes no sense since it was where everyone lived before they found the Great Valley.
  • Continuity Porn: As the first film in almost a decade, Valley of the Brave recaps the general plot of the first film and that of The Great Longneck Migration, as it revolves around rescuing Bron, who debuted in that film.
  • Convection Schmonvection: The animated series episode "The Canyon of Shiny Stones" is made of this trope (although they do, at least, remember that volcanoes produce choking smoke).
    • In VII Littlefoot and his friends escape the storm by entering the base of a volcano. What's worse is that they actually SLEEP in said volcano, and then get on a makeshift elevator that gets them to the top when the volcano erupts!
  • Cousin Oliver: Done fairly well with Chomper and Cera's half-sister, Tricia, and not so well with her niece and nephew.
  • Darker and Edgier: Stone of Cold Fire is somewhat darker in tone than the other sequels, including a horrific flashback revealing that a herd of dinosaurs who followed Pterano were killed and eaten by raptors, and as such, Pterano is a much more personal foe to the adults than any villain faced before. The film also deals with the question of existence, the universe, and the unknown in a rather adult way.
    • The Mysterious Island is the first movie to actually show blood during a fight scene. Also the debate about whether Chomper will eventually turn on the main gang is treated very seriously and never really given a satisfactory outcome, with Littlefoot concluding that they simply live in "different worlds". Of course this particular point eventually gets overridden by the tv series...
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Chomper's parents in The Mysterious Island are gigantic carnivores, but it's shown they are perfectly sentient, reasonable people when it comes down to it.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Bron explains to Littlefoot that he tried to look for a new home for his wife and unhatched son, but when he returned, the earth shake had come and his wife had died, and Littlefoot was nowhere to be found. After several days of searching with no success, Bron came across other abandoned young longnecks. So he raised them as his own. And soon more longnecks joined Bron, making him the leader of the longneck herd.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: From XII: "Many changes had occurred on this day of changes.", as pointed out by MarzGurl.
  • Dirty Coward: Subverted. It seems that Rinkus is this but it's revealed he just played on along with Pterano's plans for his own ambitions.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Pterano's 5 year punishment for...daring to lead a group away from the pack and dissagreeing, as well as kidnapping a child. However, he did what he could to save said child, up to saving her life in one situation, and aside from the death of his pack (which allegedly wasn't his fault) hadn't done anything wrong.
  • *Drool* Hello: In the sixth film, although Cera's companions see the Sharptooth coming, she doesn't notice it (thinking it's a gag) until it starts to drool on her.
    Cera: (screams) Sharptooth drool!
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: People's first reaction to finding out Tippy from VIII is male was "So many Fan Fics suddenly got much, much gayer."
    • Rinkus's gender is never explicitly stated except for one very easy to miss use of 'mister' by Pterano when he's introduced and his name is pretty gender neutral, but for what it's worth, he's voiced by Rob Paulsen.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Mama and Papa Sharptooth especially in the second film.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Pterano, see above.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The first sequel was released in 1994 presumably to cash in on the success of Jurassic Park, which was released the previous year, also included dinosaurs and also contained the creative influence of Steven Spielberg. It all went downhill from there.
  • Everybody Cries: In Invasion of the Tinysauruses, Ducky, Petrie, and Spike all cry Tears of Remorse in shunning Littlefoot.
  • Evil Uncle: Petrie's Uncle Pterano in The Stone of Cold Fire complete with eyebags, long fingers, and an English Accent. Except for the killing bit, but he does kidnap Ducky... and then saves her in the end, so he's not evil. He's got his regrets.
  • The Famine: In the V, happens in the Great Valley after "swarming leaf-gobblers" devoured all the edible plant matter there.
  • Find the Cure!: When Grandpa Longneck is overcome with illness, this is what Littlefoot and company set out to do.
  • 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 so starting with The Wisdom of Friends, which fans tend to pretend never existed. Thankfully, with Journey of the Brave the sequels seem to be returning to somewhat bearable quality.
  • Hand Gagging: The egg-stealers do this to Littlefoot in the first sequel, briefly.
  • Help, I'm Stuck!: Spike is a frequent victim of this.
    • And in the second movie, Littlefoot gets his foot stuck in a tree trunk.
  • Imagine Spot: "Imaginary Friends", "Big Water", "Adventuring". It's quite uncanny.
  • Invited as Dinner: In the fifth film, the main characters are invited to dinner by their friend Chomper, a Sharptooth they befriended back in the second film. Chomper actually did mean the invitation to be a friendly get-together, but the main cast is understandably a little freaked out. A song ensues.
    Chomper: Friends for dinner, I'm gonna have friends for dinner...
  • Irony: In movie 6, Grandpa Longneck is thankful that "Sharpteeth aren't very smart". In real life, Sauropods (longnecks) are by far the dumbest dinosaurs and Theropods (sharpteeth) are by far the smartest.
  • Jerkass Ball: Nearly everyone gets this in Movie 11, particularly Cera (teases Littlefoot for his small size which leads to him accidentally knocking down the tree-sweets in the first place and later threatens her friends due to being angry about her father finding a new love).
  • Lame Pun Reaction: When they arrive at the Great Valley after a long trek, one of the egg-stealing dinos in the second film says that he's just "egg-xausted". His partner kicks him in the face in response.
  • The Lancer: Topsy is this to Grandpa Longneck, though on many occasions they seem to be equal in power.
  • Large Ham: Pterano, all the way! You can really tell Michael York had a great time voicing him.
  • Lighter and Softer: There are times when this trope works, and then there's this. 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. The TV series is by far the lightest of the series, being aimed at pre-school aged children.
  • Lowered Monster Difficulty: 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.
  • Lying Finger Cross: In IV, after Littlefoot leaves with Ali to the Land of Mists, Littlefoot's grandparents warn Cera and the others not to follow. Cera and the others do this gesture while saying that they won't go; Cera and Spike do it with their hind feet, while Ducky and Petrie play it straight.
  • Music for Courage: After being stranded on an island, the main cast sings 'Always There', a song about their families, for comfort.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Chomper (see Carnivore Confusion above).
  • The Napoleon: Big Daddy the leader of the Tinysauruses—with the deep booming voice of Michael Clarke Duncan!
  • Never My Fault: Discussed when the adults reveal Pterano's backstory. When his followers are massacred by raptors, Pterano, being a pterosaur, is the only one who escapes the slaughter, and when he returns to the main herd, he repeatedly states that it wasn't his fault. This is less to do with his ego and more with his Survivor's Guilt and being traumatized, though. When Petrie points out that Pterano couldn't have known about the raptors, Grandma Longneck points out that a good leader has to accept the blame during bad times just as much as he deserves credit during good times.
  • Never Say "Die": Usually employed, but Journey of the Brave has the cast mention possibly being killed outright a few times. The opening poignantly makes mention of how "the perils of this world claimed [Littlefoot's mother]."
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The promo for The Land Before Time II makes you think the Sharptooth in the sequel is the Sharptooth from the original film.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Lampshaded by Mr. Thicknose in 8. He thanked a sharptooth for an adrenaline rush.
  • 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.
  • 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. Notably, 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.
  • Pet the Dog: Done by Chomper's parents in films 2 and 5.
  • 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: Done in the third, seventh, and eleventh film.
  • Reality Ensues: Littlefoot, upon learning that Bron is his father, runs away crying. There might have been mitigating circumstances, but the fact of the matter is that from Littlefoot's point of view, he was basically abandoned after his mom died, so this longneck saying that "You remember all the trouble you went through in the first nine films? I could have helped you with that, but I didn't." He feels abandoned and betrayed, and it takes a while before he warms up to Bron.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Invasion of The Tinysauruses:
      • After Littlefoot had no choice but to own up to his lies that led up to the events below, he is given this by his friends sans Cera:
      Ducky: You messed up the tree-sweets tree, so I did not get any tree-sweets and neither did anybody else!
      (Spike grunts in agreement)
      Petrie: You make friends with tiny ones, but you make everybody mad at them, so they unhappy now, too! So, why you make friends with them in the firstest place?
      (Spike grunts in agreement again)
      Ducky: You made the grown-ups so mad, that they knocked rocks down on the tiny little longnecks, so they're now covered up with rocks and I do not think that is fair, either!
      Petrie: Plus, Spike eated all the bestest tree-stars me found this morning!
      (Spike grunts in agreement once more.)
      Littlefoot: I didn't do that, Spike did.
      • After this, they proceed to turn their backs on Littlefoot, having him walk away with a "Fine!" But after he leaves, the three start giving this to each other:
      Petrie: Me no believe you talk to Littlefoot like that! You so, so mean!
      Ducky: (scoffs in disgust) You were the one who made him the saddest! Yep, yep, yep!
      (Spike grunts in agreement once again)
    • At the beginning of The Great Day of the Flyers, Petrie accidentally messes up during practice for the titular event and later that night he is given this from his angry siblings:
    Petrie's sibling 1: Petrie, you'll never get it right!
    Petrie's sibling 2: Yeah, you don't pay attention!
    Petrie's sibling 3: You flap your wings at the wrong time!
    Petrie's sibling 1: You go up when we go down, and you go down when we go up!
    All siblings: You're hopeless!
  • 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.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: The sequels, unlike the original movie, don't confine themselves to Stock Dinosaurs. Even relatively obscure species like Nothronychus and Yutyrannus get time in the limelight.
  • "Setting Off" Song: "Adventuring".
  • Sequel Hook: The fourth movie ends with the narrator stating that Littlefoot would definitely meet Ali again, but that was "another story". However director Roy Allen Smith left the series after that and Charles Grosvenor took over for the fifth movie. Whatever plans Smith might have had for Ali were never realized, and she wasn't seen or mentioned again until ten years later in the TV series.
  • 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.
    • Rather than sitting on Tricia's egg, Cera's parents incubate it by covering it with grass. It's theorized that this is exactly what certain dinosaurs did in real life (the fermenting vegetation would have warmed the eggs, not to mention the fact that a Triceratops would likely be heavy enough to crush its eggs if it tried to sit on them.)
    • 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 Triceratopses all have nearly accurate skin covering (the word "nearly" is in there due to the lack of quills), with crocodile-like scales on their bellies and thick armored scales on their backs.
    • An odd case; at one point in the seventh film, Sierra makes a paddling motion with one foot while carrying Ducky in the other. While this was definitely not something pterosaurs could do, it is behavior displayed by modern birds of prey when they're carrying particularly heavy loads in their talons.
    • The Liopleurodon is very accurately depicted, especially for the time the movie came out in (though it is closer in size to a Kronosaurus). Most dinosaurs in the series, including sharpteeth, have a stylized, cartoony look about them. The Liopleurodon does not, and looks like a real animal. The effect makes for a fairly threatening villain, even if it never gets to cause any real damage.
  • Sickening Sweethearts: Tria and Topps were apparently young and sappy together. Upon reuniting years later, they pick up immediately where they left off. There's giggling involved.
  • Slice of Life: While it keeps to the natural prehistoric environment of the original film, the sequels are much more of this. The sequels after 10 are especially guilty of this.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Spike in an episode of the TV series. Well, it's not so much actual talking as it is us hearing what he's thinking. And it only lasts for the one episode. In an earlier sequel, he yells Ducky's name... then never speaks again.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics
  • 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.
  • Threatening Shark: The shark in Part V. Which results in one of the best action scenes of the sequels (better then that film's climax, actually).
  • True Companions: Constantly. Well summarized with the line, "We're a family and you're one of us now!" They change their tune pretty quickly when Chomper bites Cera's tail immediately after said song, but it's still a nice moment while it lasts...if you can get past the singing, that is.
  • The Starscream: Pterano's two lackies, Sierra and Rinkus, decide that Pterano has much too high of an opinion of himself and they don't like his more moral goals, so they intend to take the Stone of Cold Fire for themselves.
  • Vegetarian Carnivore: Chomper becomes one.
  • Villain Song: "Eggs" in the second, "When You're Big" and "Tough" in the third, "Who Needs You?" in the fourth and "Very Important Creature" in the seventh (Though the last one is more about how the villain sees himself as right and not a villain at all).
  • Visible Boom Mic: In the fourth film there is a visible microphone on a pole when Cera and Ali sing in the song, "It Takes All Sorts."
  • Vocal Dissonance: Spike finally talks in IV...but he sounds like the Aflac Duck, which, considering his appearance...isn't what you'd expect. Mercifully, he goes back to not talking at all aside from the occasional grunt. From a more charitable point of view, one could consider his voice to sound raw from disuse. When he talks again in VIII, his voice is sounding much more appropriate for him.
  • Was Too Hard on Him:
    • Time of the Great Giving has Topps realizing he has been this to Cera after watching how Hyp's father treats his own son.
    • In Invasion of the Tinysauruses, Petrie, Ducky, and Spike feel this way after giving Littlefoot both a "The Reason You Suck" Speech and the cold shoulder for lying to them. Cera then shows up and alleviates this by suggesting they apologize to him.
  • Wham Line:
    • From Journey Through the Mists:
    Spike: Du... Duck... DUCKY!!!
    • From The Stone of Cold Fire:
    Rinkus: (to Sierra about Pterano) Just be patient! Let him lead us to the stone...
    • From The Great Long Neck Migration:
    Grandpa Longneck: Littlefoot, [Bron] is your father!
    (Cue Littlefoot running away in tears)
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In Invasion of the Tinysauruses, after Littlefoot admits that he lied about the Tinysauruses destroying the tree-sweets, his friends (minus Cera) tear into him by giving him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Afterwards, said friends proceed to call each other out for the way they treated Littlefoot, right before their moment of regret.

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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, that is a status he will never live up to.
    • Some fans believe Red Claw is the original Sharptooth, somehow survived and given a scar from the boulder and dunking. If that was true, oh how the mighty have fallen. There's also the "biggest, meanest, most ferocious Sharptooth ever" from Secret of Saurus Rock, who showed his big mean ferocity by getting whipped by Doc.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • "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.
  • 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.