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Western Animation / The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper

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The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper was an Animated Series that ran from 1996 to 1998, created by Universal Cartoon Studios, and aired on Fox Kids as a modern update of Casper the Friendly Ghost. It was a Sequel Series to the earlier Casper feature film.

The Spooktacular New Adventures focused on the mishaps of Casper as he haunted Whipstaff Manor with his uncles, The Ghostly Trio of Stretch, Stinky and Fatso; attended the local Ghost School alongside Spooky and "Poil" (Pearl), and shared his home with two living humans; ghost psychologist Dr. Harvey and his young daughter Kat.

The series followed a Three Shorts format, where two longer stories would be separated by a shorter comedic oneshot, often a musical or focusing on secondary characters.

This series features examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Casper's three uncles would treat him terribly.
  • Adaptation Personality Change:
    • Casper is noticably different in this incarnation; where the classic Casper wants to be Friend to All Living Things but scares them off with his ghostly appearance, this Casper is a lot more sarcastic, temperamental and devious, he's prone to fits of envy and jealousy, and while he's still the friendliest ghost on the show he's less of an out-and-out Nice Guy and can even border on Jerk with a Heart of Gold at times. This is even Lampshaded in the episode Casper VS The Ultimate Fan Boy, where the titular Fan Boy comes to the conclusion that Casper "was nicer in the old cartoons."
    • Kat is also different from her movie incarnation; she's gone through a bit of Flanderization, her Little Miss Snarker traits taken up to eleven to the point where her default mood is "annoyed and snarky," and her relationship with Casper has shades of Vitriolic Best Buds, with lots of Snark-to-Snark Combat.
  • American Accents: "Poil" speaks with a very heavy one; her name is actually her accented pronounciation of "Pearl".
  • Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: Done by Stretch and Fatso in one episode, as a deliberate Shout-Out to Pinky and the Brain, which was airing at the same time. To really hammer in what they're parodying, Fatso takes on the facial features of a bucktoothed mouse, tries (not very successfully) to affect a British accent, and adds "Narf" at the end of his reply.
    Stretch: Heeey — are you thinkin' what I'm thinkin'?
    Fatso: I think so, Stretch, but where can we find a melon tree and a guy named Bob at this hour? Narf!
  • Argument of Contradictions: The episode "Is So Too" is built up around one between Kat and Casper, as they spend the episode arguing over whether her study session with Vic is a date or not. Kat insists that it's not a date, while Casper insists just as stubbornly that it is. They spend much of the episode going "Is so not!" — "Is so too!" back and forth at each other. At the end of the episode, Vic calls the study session "our first date," leading to this exchange between Kat and Casper:
    Kat: Say one word, and you're history!
    Casper: How 'bout I give you five: Was so too a date!
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: After watching several episodes, you can tell that the makers really don't care about this supposed Fourth Wall.
  • Butt-Monkey: Casper is often portrayed as one, especially in the song segments.
  • Call a Human a "Meatbag": Ghosts derisively refer to living people as "fleshies" and "bonebags".
  • The Cameo: At the end of "Legend of Duh Bigfoot" the supposed "Bigfoot" turns out to be Baby Huey.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • Poil is the biggest example; nobody ever knows what goes on in her mind.
    • Fatso's a milder example; a Running Gag on the show would have Stretch and Stinkie complain about something only to have Fatso jump in with a vaguely related but completely off-the-wall comment or snippet of a song:
    Stretch: Eww! I'm close to wasting away here!
    Stinkie: Eww! I'm close to running on empty over here!
    Fatso: Oooh! Oooh, ooh, oooh, I'm close to you!
  • Continuity Snarl: Despite the few nods to the movie, there are many things that don't fit.
    • Kat's loss of interest in boys. She seemed pretty excited about the thought of a date in the movie, but in the cartoons, she agrees with her dad that she's too young. However, this could have been because of what Vic did in the movie. Let's not get into the fact that Kat and Vic go on a date in one episode.
    • Kat and Casper's relationship seems more snarky than it was in the movie.
    • Everything about the Halloween episode. Not only has everyone at school seemingly forgotten about the incident in the movie (most noticeably Amber, who claims there's no such thing as ghosts despite having seen three herself), but the Trio claim that they can't scare on Halloween because of union rules. Yet they scared Vic and Amber on Halloween in the movie.
    • This was also an issue in the series proper. One episode showed that the Ghostly Trio had always been ghosts (they were ghosts when they were schoolchildren); another episode showed that they were alive during the Civil War.
    • In "Elusive Exclusive" and "Spooks, Lies and Videotapes", ghosts couldn't be captured on film and be on TV because they can't reflect light. In later episodes, not only are they able to appear on TV; but they also had their own channels.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Both Kat and Casper, who is a lot more sarcastic and snarky in this series than he is in most other incarnations.
  • Disco Sucks: Getting four hundred ghosts into a building was needed for some tax purposes, by recruiting stereotypical ravers. Clearing them out was a bit of a problem, solved by disco.
  • Downer Ending: It's generally Played for Laughs, but couple of the shorts have a rather downbeat and pessimistic ending for Casper. Notable is the song "Good Morning, Dr. Harvey" (a Suspiciously Similar Song parody of "Gee, Officer Krupke" from West Side Story), where Casper tries to tell Dr. Harvey his troubles with his uncles — only to find out that Dr. Harvey wasn't even there and it was Stretch in disguise all along. The song ends with the Ghostly Trio tormenting him further, waving around the now-empty Dr. Harvey disguise and singing a cheery showtune about how he's stuck with them, there's nothing he can do and nobody to help him.
    Don't call Doctor Harvey,
    The doctor's not in!
    You can dump your therapist,
    But not your own kin!
    You're stuck with us, Casper,
    On this we're agreed:
    Haunt, or a doctor's what you'll need!
  • Enemy Mine: They're not your typical enemies, but in the episode "Don't Bank On It", Casper and the Ghostly Trio team up in order to scare an evil banker who was going to repossess Whipstaff.
  • Everyone Hates Fruit Cakes: Even ghosts don't like the stuff. Subverted in that Dr. Harvey loves it.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: Outside the episode "Hat Sick," where Dr. Harvey treated Spooky in "Hat Sick" when he lost his "doiby" to Poil in a silly bet, Kat and Dr. Harvey never interacted with Poil or Spooky. note 
    • Dr. Harvey also had a couple of interactions with Ms. Banshee, though they were very brief. She was once quite smitten with him.
  • Gasshole: Stinky, of course.
  • Genius Ditz:
    • Poil isn't very bright, but can display surprising moments — one episode has her claim the "Best Scarer" prize because she paid attention to the earlier lecture that a "spooker must uncover the deepest fears of the one they wish to spook".
    • Fatso also qualifies; he often goes off on tangents about pop culure, has encyclopedic knowledge about largely useless trivia, and even impresses Ms. Banshee with his love of art and music.
  • Grave Humor: During the credit sequence, the camera shows off numerous graves, with the tombstones featuring puns. Sometimes they varied things with jokes like a tombstone reading "I'm with stupid" next to another tombstone reading, "I'm stupid".
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: What Casper's relationship with his uncles is like. They treat him terribly, but it's strictly played for laughs.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Spooky is the most clear example; he's a devious prankster who idolizes the Ghostly Trio, though he does have a friendlier side. Casper can occasionally come across as one too, though his jerkishness is far less pronounced and usually comes from him being annoyed with something.
    • The Ghostly Trio can also be this on occasion.
  • Lustful Melt: Casper experiences this in "Poil Jammed", as a result of Poil flirting with him.
  • Meaningful Name: The Ghostly Trio. Fatso is a Big Eater and the biggest of the ghosts, Stretch is Lean and Meannote  and an expert shapeshifter, and Stinky is a foul-smelling Gass Hole.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Ghosts were portrayed in this series as having great difficulty in escaping from a vacuum cleaner, a reference to a scene from the movie.
    • In one episode, the Ghostly Trio plot to murder Kat and Dr. Harvey after they [the ghosts] prove unable to scare them out, telling Casper it's "what they should have done in the movie".
    • In one episode, the Ghostly Trio would be turned into angels for not having unfinished business. They were allowed to remain as ghosts when Casper told the ghost judge (who was scared of Casper's friendliness) they had yet to teach him to be scary instead of friendly.
    • Casper sometimes takes the form of his Harveytoons incarnation, which invariably freaks out whoever sees him; even Kat, who is quite indifferent to ghosts usually, takes one look at him and runs away screaming when he assumes this form.
  • Never My Fault: The uncles rarely take responsibility for their actions, but this is especially highlighted in "3 Boos and a Babe," when they're trying to woo over Ms. Banshee. Despite their own shortcomings, they all blame Casper for their failures at wooing her.
  • Nice Guy: Casper, though less so than his classic incarnation — he has his Jerk with a Heart of Gold moments, he'll plot revenge if slighted, and on a rare occasion he even gets into this entire "scaring" business. That said, he's still basically friendly and his first instinct is usually to be polite and treat people (and ghosts) with kindness.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Parodies of real-world celebrities, dead and alive, showed up all the time.
  • No Fourth Wall: Several episodes have characters acknowledging they're in a cartoon.
  • Pet the Dog: The Ghostly Trio, as is par for the course with them, have just enough moments like this to avoid becoming too despicable. On a very rare occasion they could even act downright heroic... only to go back to being nuisances and Abusive Parents to Casper.
  • The Real Spoofbusters: A pair of faux Ghostbusters to do the "Who you gonna call? ...someone else" bit from the movie.
  • Recognition Failure: In "Rebel Without a Date" Casper is visited by the ghost of James Dean, but initially thinks he's Jimmy Dean.
  • Shout-Out: Par for the course in a 90s cartoon. Lampshaded like crazy, too.
  • Sibling Rivalry: In "All About "C"" it is revealed that Miss Banshee has a younger sister, Miss "C", with whom she is very competitive.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: The Ghostly Trio gained increasing prominence during the show's run, even over Casper.
    Doctor Harvey: Sorry, Casper, you're not in this episode.
    Casper: Then why is the show called "Casper?"
    Stretch: Merchandising.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: In an In-Universe case, finding out in one episode that Stretch can't go to his haunting school reunion because he was unfairly flunked due to his "ghostlexia" has the entire household crying over it. An incredulous Stretch actually tells Dr. Harvey that he seems to be taking it harder than Stretch is.
  • Take That!/Self-Deprecation: The show doesn't shy away from making fun of the old Casper shorts. The first episode alone has Casper conjuring up a scare by reverting back to his 1940s self.
  • Threat Backfire: In "Is So Too"
    Kat: You're a dead man!
    Casper: No duh.
  • Token Good Teammate: Oddly enough, Fatso is usually made out to be more sympathetic than his brothers. Since he's also the Cloudcuckoolander of the trio, this may be a case of Dumb Is Good or Obfuscating Stupidity (he does seem to have a knowledge of pop culture and a passion for the arts that his more worldly and cynical brothers lack).
  • Vocal Evolution Casper's voice is deeper than in most of his other iterations, including the 1995 movie, due to Malachi Pearson hitting puberty in the year between the movie's release and the show's debut.