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Western Animation / The Trap Door

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Don't you open that Trap Door! note 

"Somewhere in the dark and nasty regions — where nobody goes — stands an ancient castle. Deep within this dank and uninviting place lives Berk ('ullo!), overworked servant of the Thing Upstairs. (BEEEERK! FEED ME!) But that's nothing compared to the horrors that lurk... beneath the Trap Door. For there is always something down there, in the dark, waiting to come out..."

Don't you open that Trap Door — you're a fool if you dare! Stay away from that Trap Door, 'cause there's something down there!
The intro

The Trap Door was a British Claymation show that first aired in 1984. The show is set in a Haunted Castle owned by an unseen creature known only as the Thing Upstairs. The main character is this creature's servant, a blue blob named Berk, who lives in the castle's lower floors and does his master's bidding, such as tidying up and cooking his various disgusting meals. Living with Berk is his pet spider-like bug named Drutt, and a snarky talking skull named Boni who is constantly annoyed, mostly due to being unable to move on his own power.

The titular trapdoor is a big wooden trap door in the castle's lower floors leading to a massive underground cave system full of monsters. At least once an episode the trap door opens up and releases a monster for Berk and his friends to deal with as it causes chaos around the castle. Typically they manage to get rid of the monster by the end of the episode, but they have befriended one, a big dim-witted red monster named Rogg, who regularly pops out of the trap door to visit. All the characters — except Drutt, who is instead voiced by Nick Shipley — are voiced by comedian Willie Rushton.

The show's creators, CMTB Animation and Queensgate Productions, later made Stoppit and Tidyup and Bump.

"Don't you open that trope door!":

  • All Just a Dream: 'Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite' and 'Moany Boni'
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: In episode 6, Boni tries to warn Berk that what to the audience is obviously a giant spider just crawled out of The Trap Door, but Berk things he's "just 'avin [him] on."
  • Art Shift: The Stop Motion animation is occasionally briefly replaced by such hand drawn images as Berk's blinking eyes in the title sequence, and a lightning-lit shot of the lower body of The Thing Upstairs.
  • Battle Discretion Shot: More often than not, violence occurs in another room, complete with Screen Shake.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: Berk gets haunted by loads of these in 'Boo!'
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Although Rogg is generally considered to be one of the nicest and most easygoing characters, he can descend into this if pushed far enough, as seen in 'Junk Food':
    Berk: As for you, Turnip-Bonce...
    Rogg: Hello!
    Berk: landed me right in the Worm Stew! You and me are going back downstairs. (starts pushing Rog, as he looks on confusedly without budging) Come on! Back down the Trap... (slaps his stomach) ...DOOR!
    Rogg: That... hurt.
    (Rogg turns and gives a Death Glare to Berk, before backhanding him with enough force to send him flying out of a nearby open window)
    • Amusingly in this case though, it was also subverted in a way: given that immediately afterwards, Rogg stops being angry, wanders over and cheerily waves to Berk from the window, and then speaks to the audience about how much he likes him.
    Rogg: Hmmm... (walks over to the window and waves down to Berk) yoo hoo!
    Berk: Don't you "yoo hoo" me, you overgrown puce pea-brain! Look at the state of me...! (cut off by Rog speaking, but he can still be faintly heard ranting in the background)
    Rogg: (turns to the camera) I like Berk. He's my friend!
    Berk: -I HATE YOU!
    • Played more straight when Rogg helps deal with any of the monsters from the trap door. Especially so in "Scunge", where he uses the same trick on Bubo after he starts heckling them:
    Rogg: Berk doesn't like you... (nonchalantly smacks Bubo into the open trap door) ...That was fun.
  • Big Eater: 'Im Upstairs can really pack it away. In "The Splund", he eats so much food that his pajamas split.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The last episode of the series has the Big Red Thing, one of the nastiest creatures to come through the trap door, jump out and attack Berk and his friends only for the show to cut out.
  • Bond One-Liner: Berk drops a good one when he deals with The Splund in his self-named episode, via a giant sewing needle he brought with him from having just finished repairing 'Im Upstairs' torn pyjamas.
    The Splund: Just call me... The Splund!
    Berk: (turns to the audience and points at him) 'Ere, The Splund! Well, call me...
    (Berk jabs The Splund with the needle, causing him to burst loudly like a balloon)
    Berk: The Splund Popper!
  • Bottle Episode: Almost every episode takes place fully in the castle of The Thing Upstairs, mostly within Berk's kitchen, where the trap door resides — ironically, only a couple actually show what's inside it.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: At the end of the episode "Don't Open That Trap Door", Berk wonders if they'll play the song they heard on the radio (the show's theme song) again. Cue the end credits, which plays that exact song.
  • British Brevity: There are only two seasons, both with fewer than thirty episodes, and each episode is under five minutes.
  • By the Lights of Their Eyes: This was often used for when the characters were in a dark place — like Berk hiding in the room with the mirror to get away from the Big Red Angry Thing in 'Breakfast Time'. It also features heavily in the credits, where it's all we can see of the trap door denizens (and one of them has three). In fact the title animation is actually called "Eyes in the Dark" in the closing credits.
  • Catchphrase:
  • Chew Toy: Boni, thanks to his stuffy attitude and how easily he can be picked up, tends to be on the receiving end of most of the show's physical comedy. Berk gets it pretty bad at times as well.
  • Combat Tentacles: Some of the monsters, like whatever's attached to those orange ones in the first episode. Fortunately for those ones at least, they prove susceptible to bonking.
  • The Comically Serious: Boni, though usually much more level headed (no pun intended) than Berk, is very neurotic and occasionally prone to bursts of childish excitement.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Berk often cooks with such ingredients as live worms, bugs, eyeballs and other gross things. Justified, since he's cooking for a monster. Taken to extremes in the first episode when a yellow monster emerges from the trap door and eats Berk's carefully prepared dinner. Berk improvises and serves Yellow Monster Surprisenote  instead. The thing congratulated him on the texture.
  • Cousin Oliver: Drutt had babies that became regular characters.
  • Covered in Gunge: Several of the monsters would either throw handfuls of the stuff around, or explode in showers of yellow goo.
  • Creepy Basement: The trope the series is built around. Whatever is below the trap door is seriously creepy and it is full of monsters.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: A good few of the monsters actually find out the hard way not to mess with Berk. Rogg also deals with some rather swiftly. In "The Midnight Snack" he actually wins a four-on-one fight. Pretty impressive.
  • Cute Creature, Creepy Mouth: The small orange monster Berk fishes out of the trap door while trying to rescue Drutt. It looks and sounds incredibly cute. Then it opens its mouth and reveals a large, sharp set of gnashers.
  • Dark Reprise: a slower, sadder version of the theme song plays in the season finales.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Boni. Berk, too, at times.
  • Defanged Horrors: Some monsters, like Rogg, can be quite nice.
  • The Ditz: Berk has moments of inspiration, but is a fairly careless guy.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: In "Junk Food" Rogg gets into the Thing Upstairs' room. 'Im Upstairs was already upset about it ("BERK, WHAT'S THIS?! IT'S NOT EVEN COOKED PROPERLY!"), but Rogg's unthinking comments made the situation worse;
    Rogg: Hello? You're ugly.
    Thing Upstairs: GET OUT! GET OUT! (Chucks Rogg from his room)
    Rogg: (looks at the audience) Hm. Don't like 'im.
  • The Dreaded: Berk's master, the Thing Upstairs. While the opening narration claims he's nothing compared to what's lurking under the Trap Door, the end of "Don't You Open That Trap Door" shows all the aforementioned things fleeing when 'Im Upstairs bellows about the noise.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: A few monsters, such as The Splund, cameo in the episode "Don't Open That Trap Door", before getting their own spotlight episode.
  • Eye Spy: The Thing's eyes still function when they're detached.
    Berk: Oh, globbits. I hates eyeballs.
  • Extreme Omnivore: One monster that came out of the trap door was a brown one with nothing but a trumpet mouth for a head. It swallowed Boni (who Berk rescued by bonking the thing) and then swallowed another monster that was all eyes (and roughly the same size). Berk used it to clear the drain he was trying to unblock.
  • Eye Beams: In "The Thingy", the monster can shoot a beam from its eyes that causes random transformations in its targets.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: At the end of the first season Berk decides he's finally had it with monsters always escaping into his kitchen and 'Im Upstairs yelling at him all the time and leaves. But then the credits finish and he's back.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The Splund. He cheerfully threatens to eat Boni and Drut and laughs maniacally as they become increasingly frightened from him doing so and teleporting around the kitchen.
  • Forbidden Zone: The area would seem to be one, being out "somewhere in the dark and nasty reaches, where nobody goes," and for good reason.
  • Forced Transformation: In "The Thingy", the monster starts randomly transforming the characters into various bizarre forms for its own entertainment.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Spider: Drutt, Berk and Boni's pet spider. Besides one time where they morphed into a frightening Giant Spider that nearly ate Berk in "Nasty Stuff", they generally gets on well with their companions.
  • Giant Spider:
    • The monster in "Creepy Crawlies" is a huge black spider bigger than Berk.
    • In "The Thingy", the monster briefly turns Berk's pet spider gigantic.
  • Grotesque Cute: A cute little monster opens his mouth to reveal rows of jagged fangs.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Rogg, in the final episode. He gets better.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: In "The Thingy" Berk nails a board over the Trap Door, and tells Boni that this way he'll never have to deal with strange things escaping and bothering him. Just as he's finished talking, the Monster of the Week bursts out.
  • Invisible Monsters: The creature that comes out from the trapdoor in "Gourmet's Delight" is invisible, and can only be tracked by its footprints until Berk splats food all over it and thus renders it visible.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: One episode's titular "Nasty stuff" unleashes the three main characters' Evil Twin.
  • Jerkass: Bubo, one of the few recurring monsters in the series, is this; revelling in causing chaos and taunting everyone when they unsuccessfully try to stop him. It's a wonder Berk never tried feeding him to 'Im upstairs.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Berk, for as much as he complains and snarks at them while trying to do his job, does legitimately care about Boni, Drutt and Rogg.
  • Kindhearted Simpleton: Rogg is one of the friendlier creatures to come out of the trap door. It may come from the fact he is a complete ditz.
  • Leaking Can of Evil: The Trap Door is all that stands between the castle and an underground cavern of weird monsters. A trap door that is never locked, mind you.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: At the end of the episode "Don't You Open That Trap Door", in which Berk finds a radio that plays the theme tune, he wonders if they'll play it again. Cue the end credits.
  • Low Culture, High Tech: Berk lives in an actual stone castle, and addresses Him Upstairs in terms that imply the latter is actual Feudal Nobility. And yet, in one episode Berk comes across a radio while digging through the cupboard (while Berk doesn't know what it is at first, Boni explains it to him in terms that suggest it's a normal, if uncommon and recently developed, household item rather than some sort of "artifact from the future").
  • Meaningful Name: Berk is British slang for a stupid, often easy to manipulate person.
  • Musical Episode: An entire episode was dedicated to an extended version of the theme tune. Aptly named Don't You Open That Trap Door, which is the first lyric of the theme song.
  • Music Soothes the Savage Beast: Subverted in 'Don't You Open That Trap Door,' Berk turns on the radio, leading nearly every monster from the series to pop up and run rampant in the kitchen. They scurry back in when I'm Upstairs bellows about the noise.
  • New Media Are Evil: Downplayed. In one episode Berk comes across a radio, and doesn't know what it is at first. Boni explains it to him, but comments that he thinks radios are "horrible, noisy things," which doesn't suggest he holds any sort of ethical objection to radios, but does suggest a personal distaste for such newfangled devices.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: A few times, it's Berk who opens the Trap Door and forgets to shut it.
  • No Fourth Wall: Berk often addresses the kids directly. Boni sometimes explains what's going on at an episode's beginning, 'Allo 'Allo! style.
  • Once per Episode: The Trap Door unleashes a fearsome monster or several once in every episode. Lampshaded in "The Dose":
    Boni: Guess what's going to happen next.
    (The Trap Door opens and a green monster slithers out.)
    Boni: (smugly) What did I say?
  • Pardon My Klingon: "Globbits!" "Great Grumfuttoks Tusks!"
  • Recurring Character: Besides the main trio of Berk, Boni and Drutt; Rogg, Bubo, and the Big Red Thing are the most notable recurring monsters that appear.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: In "Food for Thort", a swarm of hornet-like monsters get into the castle. One gives Berk a sting, leaving a yellow welt, and he feeds them to Thort, a plant monster from the Thing Upstairs's garden.
  • Schizo Tech: Berk lives in an actual stone castle under what is implied to be an actual feudal noble, and yet said castle contains a fully functional radio, which is treated as a normal, if uncommon and recently developed, household object.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Drutt. More commonly spelled Drut. Turd.
  • Sense Freak: When a monster from the trap door transforms Boni into a goat-like creature, Boni spends the remainder of the episode running around in his new body and trying to show it off to Berk and Drutt.
  • Shout-Out: The Thing, after eating his breakfast in "Breakfast Time", declares "Parts of that were excellent!" This is a reference to the Curate's Egg cartoon from Punch!.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Drutt... maybe. Although they had a litter of baby spiders, they are often referred to as "he", so it's pretty unclear what Drutt actually is.
  • Spoof Aesop:
    • "If you've got a problem, stuff a worm in it."
    • "The moral of this story is 'don't mess with Berk and don't sing like Boni'".
  • The Stinger: In both season finales to undo any changes they have done.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: In "Food for Thorp", after figuring out that the eponymous carnivorous plant likes eating the flying insects that came out of the trapdoor, Berk simply pushes it to the kitchen and waits until it's snatched and eaten them all.
  • Summon Magic: In "Ghoulies", while rummaging around an old room, Berk finds a book of spells and incautiously decides to read one at random, summoning the titular monsters.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: Rogg is prone to this when pushed too far. As seen in the last episode, when The Big Angry Red Thing comes and causes mayhem:
    Rogg: (without changing his tone of voice) I'm angry. Really cross.
  • Tempting Fate: "The Thingy" has the titular monster zap zap Berk and Drutt, changing their sizes and shapes. Boni expresses relief it hasn't zapped him yet. Guess what happens next.
  • Theme Tune Extended: As revealed in "Don't Open That Trap Door", there are two additional verses to the theme after the one in the closing credits.
  • This Is Going to Suck: Boni can tell instantly there will be trouble whenever the Trap Door is left open.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Some of the horrors Berk and the others meet are treated in a light-hearted manner. Though granted they do deal with them on a very regular basis.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Berk and Boni. Berk also ends up one to the obliviously friendly Rogg, though seems to lighten up by Season Two.
    • Point in case:
      Rogg: (to the audience) I like Berk. He's my friend.
      Berk: I hate you!
    • To be fair, Rogg had just knocked Berk out of a window. Well above the ground floor.
  • The Voice: 'Im Upstairs, who is never seen on-screen, but is always present with his loud, booming voice. A few episodes hint at what he looks like — including a giant eyeball, the sound of wings beating as he returns home from a trip, and most notably a briefly-illuminated sickly yellow mass that's either a bunch of amorphous tentacles or VERY lumpy skin in "The Little Thing". His eyes appear to be detachable, and on separate occasions we get to see both a tooth and an eye of his, both of which are about the size of Berk himself. We're also told that he has Extra Eyes, multiple heads, and "various nostrils".
  • Your Tomcat Is Pregnant: Drutt has babies. They still refer to them with male pronouns.