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Western Animation / The Shivering Truth

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Shivering is stranger than fiction.

"There's blood in the kitchen, there's blood in the hall.
There's blood in the parlor where my lady did fall.
O master, O master, don't lay blame on me.
'Twas the false nurse and Lankin that killed your lady."

The Shivering Truth is a 2018 stop-motion horror/comedy anthology/sketch series created for [adult swim] by PFFR, the minds behind The Heart, She Holler, Wonder Showzen and Xavier: Renegade Angel. If you've seen anything from PFFR, then you'll know exactly what to expect.

On June 26, 2022, Toonami co-creator Jason DeMarco revealed in a Twitter Q&A that the series has been either quietly canceled or in production limbo, after its Season 2 airing in 2020.

The Shivering Tropes:

  • Abnormal Ammo: After the cut on his arm comes to life, Benny Beekoh gains the ability to fire chili out of his nipples to lethal effect. Yes, indeed.
  • Abusive Parents: Sam and Iris Beekoh keep the romance in their marriage alive by, as the narrator puts it, "uniting against a common enemy" — their son, Benny. They subject him to all kinds of torture at every opportunity.
  • Animal Nemesis: Balinese culture is depicted as built on the suffering of butterflies, who retaliate by using their chaos manipulating wingflaps to raze the country with hurricanes.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: After a terrorist and a severed head form a comedy duo, during a set the head asks the following:
    “Why does your faith glorify hate?”
  • Artistic License – Biology: In "Nesslessness" a woman loses weight from eating nothing but celery, based on the real-life misconception that eating celery burns more calories than it contains.
  • Black Comedy: While the show is very disturbing, it usually incorporates plenty of this along the same time.
  • Body Horror: Everywhere!
    • A particularly memorable example happens in "Fowl Flow", where a man slowly sprouts two extra arms from his nipples.
  • Bottle Episode: Aside from the intro, "Tow and Shell" takes place entirely within a classroom.
  • Book Ends: Usually paired with a Brick Joke, this is how a majority of the series concludes.
  • Butterfly of Doom: Parodied in the pilot, in which butterfly's wingflaps really do cause improbable events to occur. A mad scientist discovers how to use precise adjustments to the wingflaps to make whatever he wants happen. The only limitation is it can't bring him love.
  • Central Theme: Some episodes have a recurring theme.
    • "Chaos Beknownst" is about the uncontrollable chaos of the universe.
    • "Nesslessness" has one on the act of being selfless.
    • "The Diff" is all about duality, and how each opposite side completes another.
  • Connected All Along: Each episode usually tells three-to-four stories that seemingly have no significance from one another. Then the last two minutes of the episode usually have these plots combine in some way. A particularly brilliant example is in "Nesslessness", where it was revealed that the woman from the Cold Opening, the mother's baby in the first story, and the woman trapped in the car wreckage in the last one, were all from the same person at different periods in her life.
  • Couch Gag: Often of the not so pleasant variety. Every episode (except for "Tow and Shell") has a variation of the title card in which something often happens to the mask that serves as the symbol of the series, ranging from turning into a cross-shaped steak to giving birth to a miniature version of itself. This even occurs at the end of the intro of "Nesslessness" where the pile of guts and gore that the girl finds herself buried under takes the form of the mask.
  • Deranged Animation: Goodness gracious, yes.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending:
    • In "Constadeath," Benny rejects the reincarnation contract offered to him in the face of his impending death and, poetically, gets to keep on living and puts the soul of the executed African slave from the intro to rest.
    • The second story in "Beast of Both Worlds" has a husband and wife's marriage being plagued by a machine that tells them whether or not they have true love for one another. In the end, rather than trying to force true love out of each other, they break the machine and lovingly embrace.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In season 2 a woman manages to get a demon to leave her alone by pretending to want to eat her baby.
  • Facial Horror: In "Fowl Flow", Violet becomes so beautiful, that her face is covered by beauty marks.
  • Foul Cafeteria Food: The pilot episode has the lunch lady use a blind girl's welt to make cafeteria food. May we remind you, this is the pilot.
  • Gainax Ending: Every episode ends on one.
  • Going Native: The butterflies that infiltrated Bali, disguised as a man, eventually fell in love with a local woman and grew to appreciate Balinese culture, which is centered around the suffering of butterflies.
  • Going Postal: Attempted by Dougie, but is told off by his boss for being too loud. He runs home, crying.
  • Grew a Spine: Benny by the end of "Constadeath".
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: A comedic and extremely weird example in "The Diff" when a geek is split in half vertically, one half being a macho alpha while the other retains his original meek demeanor, and the two go on to live their own lives, both utterly paranoid that the other half is having a better life. They eventually find peace within Eban's cross-eyed gaze that makes it look like they're together again in his vision.
  • Haunted Technology: "The Burn Earner Spits" features a television inexplicably haunted by the ghost of a girl who worriedly speaks in rhyme about her predicament.
  • Healthy in Heaven: Exaggerated in one story where people who die while in a new faith of worshipping a man's incredibly muscled body go to a heaven where they're all basically bodybuilders.
  • Horror Comedy: Balanced. Season 1 leans slightly more towards comedy while Season 2 leans slightly more towards horror.
  • Irony: The mad scientist is unable to manipulate the flap of a butterfly's wing to find true love, but the Butterfly Man (a hollowed-out corpse filled with butterflies) he creates for the butterflies to infiltrate Bali (stay with us here) finds true love with a woman who also turns out to be a hollowed-out corpse, filled with bees. The episode ends with the "moral" that "the true nature of the Universe is chaos, and is beautiful, and must never be defiled again."
  • Match Cut: Often used to link otherwise unrelated scenes together. A particularly horrific example happens in “The Nurple Rainbow”,where Dougie wakes from a dream where his mirror cracks, only for his face to be cracked in the exact same way.
  • Mental Affair: An army private makes mental contact with his drill sergeant and manipulates him into a make-out session where he mistreats him.
  • Messianic Archetype: Spoofed with a man who inexplicably develops amazing muscles and becomes the center of a new religion about literally worshipping his jacked body.
  • Mind Screw: Basically the entire show. When the opening scene of the first episode involves a man removing a giant hot dog, cutting it open, and revealing several ants, you know you're in for a wild ride.
  • Mood Whiplash: The pilot episode is far from the balls-to-the-wall horror insanity that are the episodes that follow it, but even in its own weird flux state of weirdness, its ending is surprisingly poignant. The culmination of the final skit is a confusingly heartwarming story of true love accompanied by a crescendoing orchestra. It's almost a invokedTear Jerker.
    Narrator: The true nature of the universe is chaos, and is beautiful, and must never be defiled again.
  • Mundane Utility: When it is discovered that prayer works, people the world over hold those who have faith hostage and force them to pray their demands into reality. Those demands are usually different types of sandwich orders, and the usage of the prayer as a flying taxi.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailer presents the series as straight horror, when in reality, it's more of a horror-comedy Mind Screw ...thing. It also made it look like there was some underlying plot to the whole thing (there isn't).
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: A woman trying to give a homeless woman a sandwich gets sent to Hell because it had mayo on it. Thankfully the woman is able to out-gambit the demon and gets out alive (but eventually at the cost of her child becoming a corn-on-a-cob as a result of her keeping up a charade of wanting to eat her child to keep the demon away).
  • Out-of-Character Moment: The narrator always speaks in a stoic tone, no matter how disturbing the stories get. However, even he was a bit shocked when Pauly's teacher got into a car accident in "Tow and Shell" because it comes out of nowhere.
    Narrator: "Now that he was rich, he was free to live life to the fullest possible... (teacher's car crashes off-screen) uh-oh. Oh."
  • Overly-Long Gag: In "Constadeath", A man has a condition in which he dies (and reincarnates with an animal's head) every few seconds. During a conversation with his wife, she demands to speak to her real husband. He obliges by forcefully reincarnating until he becomes human again. Unfornately, this isn't enough time, so he does it again and again, each bit of the conversation only a few seconds.
  • Painting the Medium: In “Fowl Flow”, whenever the Insecurities are on screen, the screen oscillates between a red filter and the normal image. This is until violet enters the frame near the end, unaffected by the filter.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Almost all the background music in the show is classical pieces from the Romantic Era. It just makes the whole thing even more unsettling, honestly. The show's title theme is itself an excerpt of "Suspension" by Lotic, while the ending theme uses variations on the ballad "Long Lankin".
  • Plague of Good Fortune: A man attempts to commit suicide, but a series of fortunate coincidences keeps him alive. It escalates to the point where the government personally requests him to continue his suicide attempts due to all the good it causes but, by that point, he's rediscovered his will to live.
  • Secret Test of Character: The aforementioned Mental Affair was part of a psychic training operation meant to prepare the drill sergeant for war… somehow.
  • Screw Yourself: Dougie has sex with his mirror reflection after being fired from his job. It's... bizarre to say the least.
  • Shout-Out: The mask seen at the beginning and end of each episode resembles a mask from the titular episode of The Twilight Zone (1959).
  • Sound-Only Death: In "Tow and Shell", Paulie's father was having an affair with, Mr. Darpi and the mother of a girl wearing a cat sweater all die in horrific ways that we can only hear through the seashell.
  • Spoof Aesop: Loads.
    "A doctor's sacred mission is to do everything in his power to not lose his job."
  • Suicide by Pills: A man repeatedly tries to kill himself and every attempt ends up not only as a Bungled Suicide, but also causes good things to happen. When he tries to off himself by ingesting multiple drugs, he ends up making himself healthier than ever and his blood becomes a potential component for a Cure for Cancer.
  • Surreal Horror: SWEET LORD ALMIGHTY.
    • In "The Magmafying Past," a boy gets his arm bitten by a flea, and he starts scratching it. As he scratches it more and more, a church made of flesh forms on his arm, eventually consuming him entirely.
  • Take Our Word for It: One episode involves the discovery of the 27th and 28th letters of the alphabet, but they're always conveniently obscured.
  • Uncanny Valley: The puppets that are used in the series have realistic looking-skin but cartoonish proportions otherwise and look quite creepy as a result. Considering what type of series this is, this is probably deliberate.
  • Weight Woe: The woman in "Nesslessness" is so insecure about her weight that she only ate celery and ended up weighing negative pounds. The reason for her weight insecurity is possibly because her mom was fattening her up to eat her as part of a deal with Satan
  • Why Won't You Die?: A suicide hotline worker tells the story of a man who begins writing a suicide note to end all suicide notes. This eventually gains the attention of the media and the man becomes an overnight sensation. Once the letter is finally written, he holds off on finally doing the deed until the reviews come in. While the note is a success, fans turn on him because he never fulfilled the promise of killing himself and the note becomes yet another book on the shelf. In retaliation, the man wills himself to never die.

"The true nature of the universe is chaos, and is beautiful, and must never be defiled again."