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Western Animation / What A Cartoon! Show

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The What A Cartoon! Show (originally known as World Premiere Toons, and later renamed The Cartoon Cartoon Show) was an anthology show on Cartoon Network running from 1995 to 1997, with a few scattered shorts airing towards the end of The '90s. Created by then-president of Hanna-Barbera Fred Seibert as a throwback to theatrical studio cartoons from The Golden Age of Animation, it was described as "48 chances to succeed or fail" at potential original programming. The premiere of the project was on a special hosted by Space Ghost.

True to Seibert's word, 48 cartoons were produced by a generous handful of creators (mostly Hanna-Barbera staff), each reflecting the artist's individual style and sensibilities. Five of the shorts — Dexter's Laboratory, Cow and Chicken, Johnny Bravo, The Powerpuff Girls and The Chicken from Outer Space (which became Courage the Cowardly Dog) — would go on to be the network's first original shows, or Cartoon Cartoons. One wound up being the prototype for a much more popular toon later on (Larry & Steve would serve as one of the inspirations for Family Guy). Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera themselves got back in the director's chair to create "Hard Luck Duck" and two shorts featuring Dino of The Flintstones, respectively. Others, such as Yoink of the Yukon, Pfish & Chip, Yuckie Duck, and Shake & Flick, were not as successful, but have gained a strong cult following from classic CN fans.

After the show's initial 1995-97 run, Fred Seibert would leave Hanna-Barbera to produce a counterpart series for Nickelodeon at his own production company, Frederator Studios. In the meantime, CN would retool the series into The Cartoon Cartoon Show, with then-vice president of Cartoon Network Sam Register now serving as producer. The rebranded anthology series now showcased new episodes and reruns of the network's full-series cartoons in addition to premieres of new pilot episodes. Three new shorts were made in 1998 and 1999, those being Kenny and the Chimp, Mike, Lu & Og, and King Crab: Space Crustacean; the second of these would be greenlit into a series. In 2000 and 2001, Cartoon Network would take a more direct approach with "The Big Pick", in which viewers got to vote for brand-new series from that summer's collection of ten pilots. The winner of the 2001 "Big Pick" was The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, with runner-up Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones? also getting picked up.note  In the summer of 2002, the winner would be Codename: Kids Next Door, with runner-up short Lowbrow also getting the greenlight to become Megas XLR.

In the late 2000s, a spiritual successor was being produced in the form of Cartoonstitute, and was to be headed by Craig McCracken and Rob Renzetti, both of whom got their start on WAC. It never came to be due to both financial issues and the channel's live-action push at the time, although of the shorts that were completed, two of them (Regular Show and Uncle Grandpa) went on to be successful series in their own right. In the years since the failure of Cartoonstitute, while Cartoon Network continues to publicly showcase new pilots online (under the name Cartoon Network Minis) in order to gauge viewer response in a similar way as all these prior shows, they no longer are packaged into an anthology series of any kind.

On April 15, 2021, Cartoon Network announced that they will be creating a brand new anthology series of shorts titled, ''Cartoon Cartoons'' (Named after the network's original brand name for its animated shows).

List of shorts featured:

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    What A Cartoon! Shorts 

    Cartoon Cartoon shorts 

Tropes featured:

  • 555: In the title card for "Lost Cat", the lost cat sign has the phone number 555-1234 written on it. In the episode proper, the phone number is 555-9603.
  • All-CGI Cartoon: "Strange Things" was the only short featured on this programming block that was made entirely using computer animation.
  • All for Nothing: In Pizza Boy in "No Tip", the titular character is tasked with delivering a pizza to the North Pole in 5 minutes of less to be guaranteed a big tip. He managed to pull this off after a series of insane mishaps and injury, but gets no tip because of the damage to the pizza and ignored the "no anchovy" request. He loses it.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Melvin from Malcom and Melvin suffers this in spades. No one in the city cares for him, and many consider him either annoying or perverted. The only one who is even remotely worried about him is his own mother. And all this before Malcom the Cockroach comes to sympathize for him.
  • Animation Bump:
  • Artistic License – History: This is acknowledged in Gramps when the grandkids keep pointing out the errors in Gramps' story about how he actually lived his life. For example, when he mentions meeting the President, who's depicted as a statuesque woman, they point out that America never had a female President.note  He then begs them to let this part remain unchanged, which they reluctantly do.
  • Banana Peel: Holds the title of "The Most Dangerous Thing on Earth", according to Strange Things. The chief of security explains it's what the scientists at the institute he works at had come up with at the time, yet they continue to look for something more lethal.
  • Batty Lip Burbling: The king in the "Swamp and Tad: Mission Imfrogable" has lip burbling as part of his name, which is mostly a sequence of sound effects and a dance for unexplained reasons.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: The short Captain Sturdy: Back in Action shows a Cartoon Network satellite being obliterated by Moid's death ray.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: In "Commander Cork" we see some flashbacks of bad experiences in the past: Him getting mocked for bathing in underwear at the communal showers; him eating fish, with her mother saying they can't revive the fish; and him trying to revive a fish at the communal showers.
  • Butt-Monkey: Yuckie Duck's shorts both have him get the short end of the stick in the end, being made into duck soup for messing up a customer's order in "Short Orders" and his stint as a paramedic ending with him requiring medical attention himself in "I'm On My Way".
  • The Cameo: The Jetsons have a brief cameo in Wind-Up Wolf.
  • Captivity Harmonica: In Pizza Boy in No Tip, after getting sent to prison for assaulting the Eskimo couple for not giving him a tip, Pizza Boy is seen playing the harmonica after relating his tale of woe to the prison parson.
  • Cassandra Truth: In Gramps. Despite what details Gramps changed, it seems he really did save the world from an alien invasion as the alien leader testifies to his own grandchildren.
  • The Cast Show Off: Most of the shorts were created by Hanna-Barbera staff, given free range to create whatever they wanted.
  • The Chew Toy: Poor, poor Shake from Shake & Flick is a quite literal example. Nothing saves him from Flick abusing him and chewing him up.
  • Cranium Chase: Happens to the dog in Sledgehammer O'Possum: Out and About and Wind-Up Wolf.
  • Christmas Episode: George and Junior's Christmas Spectacular had George and Junior tasked with delivering a Christmas present on Santa Claus' behalf as punishment for delivering the letter asking for it late.
  • Creator Cameo: The superhero in the "Malcolm and Melvin" shorts was voiced by Ralph Bakshi, who created the shorts and disowned both of them after they aired.
  • Deranged Animation: Anything directed by Pat Ventura: Yuckie Duck, Sledgehammer O'Possum, and George and Junior. Also Buy One, Get One Free, which has visual influences from The Ren & Stimpy Show (not hurt by a few staff members who worked on that show).
    • Also the two Ralph Bakshi shorts Babe! He Calls Me and Malcom and Melvin, and Tales of Worm Paranoia, directed by Eddie Fitzgerald.
  • Domestic-Only Cartoon: Being a Cartoon Network program, most of the shorts were made by either Hanna-Barbera or Cartoon Network Studios and animated overseas, but there have been exceptions.
    • "Help?", which was produced in Italy.
    • "Babe, He Calls Me" and "Malcom and Melvin", which were produced by Bakshi ZooToons in New York.
    • "Strange Things", which was made by Sensible Shoes Productions in the U.S.
    • "O Ratz: Ratz in a Hot Tin Can", which was made by Perennial Pictures Film Corporation in Indianapolis.
    • "The Chicken From Outer Space", by Stretch Films in the U.S.
    • "The Adventures of Captain Buzz Cheeply: A Clean Getaway", produced by Buzz Image Group in Canada.
    • "Journey to Sector 5-G", which was made by Cuppa Coffee Productions in Canada.
  • Doom Magnet: "Awfully Lucky" has a con artist taking a pearl that an old man tosses away so he can sell it to a museum for a large sum of money. Hilarity Ensues and a series of bad luck forces him to abandon this and toss away the pearl himself..
  • Downer Ending: "Tales Of Worm Paranoia" ends with Johnny losing his mind after getting trampled by the human again.
  • Dropped in the Toilet: In "Lost Control", Godfrey and Zeek accidentally flush their TV remote in the toilet, forcing them to tour the sewage treatment plant to get it back. However, they get so bored with what's on TV that they deliberately flush the remote again so they can go back to the sewage plant to find it again.
  • Either/Or Title: "Kenny and the Chimp in: Disease-y Does It or Chimp-n-Pox"
  • Expy: The superhero seen in the "Malcolm and Melvin" shorts vaguely resembles Batman.
    • Hard Luck Duck from the short of the same name is an almost exact clone of the earlier Hanna-Barbera creation Yakky Doodle. Both are naive ducklings who have to be protected from being eaten by a hungry fox.
  • The Faceless: The President in Fat Cats in Drip Dry Drips.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Averted in Captain Buzz Cheaply: A Clean Getaway. The titular protagonist bribes an alien into sparing his life by offering him beer and we later see a whole bunch of signs that read "beer".
  • Fur Is Clothing: At one point in "Shake & Flick in: Raw Deal in Rome", the fur covering the lower half of Shake's body falls down like pants to reveal boxer shorts.
  • Girls Like Musicians: All Malcolm in "Malcolm and Melvin" has to do is play a few notes on his trumpet for girls to fall for him. His female neighbor breaks down his door admitting she's in love with whoever playing it and runs along to put on a cheerleader outfit for him when Melvin says it was him. When Malcolm starts playing again in the end dozens of women run towards the source.
  • Groin Attack: Fat Cats in Drip Dry Drips features a scene where Louie accidentally hits the President in the grapes when he was doing his measurements.
    Louie: Oops, sorry Mr. President.
    President: (high-pitched voice) No problem!
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: Johnny's acid-scalded face in "Tales of Worm Paranoia". As if once wasn't bad enough, they cut to it three times!
  • Here We Go Again!:
    • In "Awfully Lucky", after all the suffering due to the curse, the main character decides to throw the cursed pearl into the sea, but actually falls in a fisherman's boat, who immediately fishes a treasure chest, followed by apparently being crushed by a large falling object.
    • The ending of Godfrey and Zeek. After all the trouble the two go through to retrieve the TV remote from the sewage plant, the two get bored with what's on television and Godfrey decides to flush the remote down the toilet so they can get the remote back again.
    • "Swamp and Tad: Mission Imfrogable" had the titular characters retrieve a package from Earth for their king that turned out to be a pizza. The duo is then told that they have to go back to Earth to retrieve more pizzas, much to Tad's dismay.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: Tales of Worm Paranoia is about a worm named Johnny being terrified of a human that obliviously injures him constantly. Unlike most other examples, it's a straight up Cosmic Horror Story.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: Both theme songs (the heavy metal WAC theme and the sillier Cartoon Cartoon Show theme) were lyric-less.
  • Interrupted Suicide: In "Malcolm and Melvin", Melvin tries to off himself by jumping from the window ledge, but he changes his mind when he hears Malcolm's trumpet-playing.
  • Jerkass:
    • Luther from "Awfully Lucky". The very beginning of the short has him steal a man's sandwich, tease a dog with the last bite before eating it in front of the pooch, and steal a baby's milk bottle to wash it down. It is clear they wanted to make him as unsympathetic as possible when the curse of the Paradox Pearl continuously gives him good luck only to follow with bad luck so that his misfortunes wouldn't seem unfair.
  • Kid Hero All Grown-Up: Captain Sturdy: Back in Action has Captain Sturdy's grown-up sidekick Ultra Boy.
  • Kid with the Leash: Mina and The Count.
  • Laughing Mad: The Mad Bomber in the first Pfish & Chip short.
  • Line Boil: The characters in The Kitchen Casanova squiggle slightly.
  • Mad Bomber: Pfish & Chip's stock in trade is to catch these guys. The villain of the first short is actually named Mad Bomber.
  • Mime and Music-Only Cartoon:
    • Help?, which has no dialog aside from Jof's "Help!"
    • "Shake & Flick in: Raw Deal in Rome", which has no dialog aside from a few screams.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: Jof in Help?, who runs to the hospital after he pricks his finger while sewing.
  • Nightmare Face: The titular Podunk Possum can apparently deploy a monstrous one of these at will, scaring an entire alien fleet away from Earth.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Podunk Possum featured the psychotic ghost of a Colonel who owned his own chicken restaurant who is clearly based on Kentucky Fried Chicken's founder Colonel Harlan Sanders.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Parodied in Strange Things. The short is set at the "Institute of Dangerous Research", where scientists specialise in discovering, isolating and categorising "The Most Dangerous Thing on Earth".
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Whatever happened to Grandma in Gramps. According to Gramps' grandchildren, it was a result of their refusing to listen to one of his stories. "SHE WAS DEAD WHEN I GOT THERE!!"
    • In Kenny and the Chimp, Prof. Triple-Extra-Large warns Kenny that he doesn't want a repeat of what happened last time they visited his lab, and Kenny tries to defend himself by saying "But Chimpy was the one who put the sardines in the..." before the professor cuts him off.
  • Obliviously Evil: The truth regarding the human in "Tales Of Worm Paranoia". Johnny himself thinks the human is being intentionally evil, but as the title suggests this is his paranoia getting the best of him: the audience is shown the human is a perfectly friendly guy who is just dopey at worst and simply doesn’t notice Johnny.
  • Old Superhero: The premise of "Captain Sturdy: Back in Action", where the titular superhero has to go out of retirement after learning that the official retirement age for superheroes has been changed and as a result his pension has been cancelled.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: In "Larry and Steve" they get into a store and meet a employee that is always smiling and never loses her cheerful personality, except when Larry proposes putting a super-powerful light bulb on a normal lamp, foreshadowing what a bad idea this is.
  • Peek A Bangs: The granddaughter in Gramps.
  • Post-Script Season: Sort of. 48 cartoons were contracted for 1995-97, but more were made after that including Mike, Lu & Og, Kenny And The Chimp, King Crab: Space Crustacean, and the Big Pick shorts from 2000-02.
  • Psycho Poodle: Subverted in No Smoking. Cerberus, a hellhound who is The Dragon and pet of the Red Guy, has the body and one head of a poodle. However, he shows hardly any malice, and seems like a Punch-Clock Villain more than anything else.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: The opening theme. "WHAT! A! CARTOOOOOOOOON!"
  • Rampage from a Nail: The lion in the second Yuckie Duck short "I'm On My Way" gets a tack stuck in his rear end.
  • Sadist Teacher: Mr. Fitzgibbon in the short "Trevor in Journey to Sector 5-G". He deliberately tries to stump his students by coming up with extremely hard math problems and even withholds recess until they answer correctly.
  • Say My Name: From "Dry Dry Drips": "EEELLLMOOOOOO!"
  • Skewed Priorities: Captain Buzzy Cheaply puts getting his laundry done over rescuing his robot sidekick and repairing his ship.
  • Slasher Smile:
    • The aforementioned psychotic Colonel Sanders Ghost from "Podunk Possum" wears a perpetual one while smashing eggs and delivering completely nonsensical catchphrases. Chickens are terrified of him for good reason.
    • Johnny from "Tales Of Worm Paranoia" manages an impressively demented and huge grin after his first Sanity Slippage.
  • Southern-Fried Genius: In "Hillbilly Blue", Eustace talks and acts just like any other of the hillbilly characters, but he normally cannot stand stupidity, and apparently likes to talk about physics in his spare time.
  • The Speechless: Shake & Flik. Though Shake often screams a lot. Even the opening doesn't have either of them saying "What! A! Cartoon!", instead has Flick's roar ("What!"), Shake's scream ("A!"), and Flick's belch ("Cartoon!").
  • Spin-Off: Famously, Dexter's Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls, Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, and Courage the Cowardly Dog (and, to a lesser extent, Family Guy and Codename: Kids Next Door) are all series derived from shorts on this programming block..
  • Tastes Better Than It Looks: In "The Kitchen Casanova", a man attempts to cook a lovely dinner for his visiting girlfriend; however, a series of different comical mishaps in the kitchen result in every dish he tries to prepare getting ruined. Even attempting a salad ends in failure. Finally, he presents her with a gross-looking mound of mush consisting of various different animal parts (and presumably human as well). The man finally has an emotional breakdown, so the woman samples the dish out of sympathy, but she finds it to be tasty, much to his surprise. The more they eat, the more animalistic they become. They finish the dish and eat up the plates, silverware, and even the table.
  • Theme Tune: There were two of them. The first was a heavy metal piece. Reruns of the show used the Cartoon Cartoon Fridays theme.
  • Thick-Line Animation: Some of the cartoons utilized this design style, such as Boid n Woim, Sledgehammer O Possum, Pizza Boy in No Tip, Godfrey and Zeek, The Powerpuff Girls, and Dexter's Laboratory.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: The Colonel Sanders-expy ghost in "Podunk Possum" who keeps bothering the title character by trying to serve him fried chicken, scaring Podunk's chickens, and smash their eggs.
  • Threatening Shark: Completely averted by Pfish in the Pfish and Chip shorts. He's a shark, but he's a friendly, clueless, eccentric who has feet and is somehow able to live on land.
  • To Serve Man: Gramps lampshaded this when a character runs to Gramps with a book reading "To Serve Man" and exclaiming that it's a cookbook before he is hit with a golf club by Gramps, exclaiming, "It's been done!"
  • Troll: The titular character of Sledgehammer O'Possum spends both of his shorts messing with someone for no good reason. He torments a dog trying to enjoy a drive in "Out and About" and he screws with a postal worker named Ethel for trying to evict him from a mailbox in "What's Goin' On Back There?"
  • Urine Trouble: In "Swamp and Tad: Mission Imfrogable", Tad tries to spy on a dog by disguising himself as a fire hydrant. The plan backfires when the dog starts sniffing him and then raises his hind leg.
  • Visual Pun: In "Larry and Steve", Larry gets distracted while driving and Steve notices a sign saying "Fork Ahead", when he sees the road, there are two lanes to follow, and a giant fork between them.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: O. Ratz and Dave D. Fly
  • We Are Not Going Through That Again: In "Help?", after injuring his finger while doing a needlepoint, Jof goes through medical hell in an attempt to get treatment. At the end of the short, he's doing another needlepoint, only to end up injuring his finger again. But this time he outright refuses to even yell of pain, deciding to just remain home.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Yoink, even though he doesn't die.
  • With This Herring: In "Gramps", a grandfather tells his grandchildren a tale of how he supposedly saved the world from an alien invasion. The President asked for his help and told him to choose between door number 1 or door number 2. Had he chosen door number one, he'd have received several big weapons but he chose door number 2 and received his mule.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): What A Cartoon


The Uncuttable Steak

Yucky Duck serves a woman a steak that refuses to be cut.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / SurprisinglySuperToughThing

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