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Western Animation / WordWorld

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Welcome to our world!

WordWorld is a very odd preschool show that centers on Funny Animals and a non-anthro dog—who are all living words. They can build new "WordThings" out of letters. Whether you need a house, pie, or rocket, just line up the appropriate letters and spell it into being.

The series premiered on PBS on September 3, 2007, and was produced by WTTW Chicago. The show ended on January 24, 2011 and only produced three seasons, but it could still be seen in reruns on PBS Kids affiliates, particularly the 24/7 kids channel, until October 2022. As of 2022, it is still available on the PBS Kids streaming app and even sometimes featured.

In 2021, the 2D-animated series Planeta Palavra premiered, which adapts the premise of WordWorld to Brazilian Portuguese.

It's time to build a trope, let's build it, let's build it now! T-R-O-P-E (KIDS: Trope!) Yeah, we just built a trope, we built it, we built it!:

  • Action Girl: Sheep can be seen as this when she's playing sports, as seen in the episodes "There's An Ant In Every Giant" and "Play Ball".
  • Alphabet Architecture: Since everything in the show's world is a word, the buildings are shaped like their constituent letters.
  • Amicable Ants: Ant is one of the many WordFriends of the titular setting. He is best buddies with Pig and with other insect WordFriends like Bee, Fly and Bug, and is always willing to help out the other WordFriends in a pinch.
  • Artistic License – Arachnids: Spider not only has a mere six legs, but also insectoid antennae.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Either there are two main cats, one a blue Siamese cat and one a purple cat with a white muzzle, facial blaze, and white paws, or Cat changes color depending on her job in the episode. Also, why are Sheep's limbs and Pig's hooves are lavender instead of black.
  • Anthropomorphic Typography: The animals in this show are made of letters.
  • Berserk Button: Pig tends to get upset when his stuff is messed with, as Frog learned in the episode "Waterlogged" when he had to stay over at the barn for the night.
  • Big Eater: Pig loves to eat, and is prone to scarfing down whatever he just cooked. Ant has to remind him to restrain himself and share the food with others.
  • Big "NO!": Frog does this when Pig eats Dog's birthday cake in the episode "Happy Birthday, Dog".
  • The Big Race: In "The Race to Mystery Island", Pig and Frog challenge each other to a race to Mystery Island.
  • Bottle Episode: For all the episodes where characters go from setpiece to setpiece, building new words, some others are very limited in their scope. "Bed Bugs" takes place entirely in an empty side room of Frog's log, and involves the bugs trying to make Frog's bed, forgetting how to tell the letters b and d apart.
  • Camping Episode: "Dog's Camping Adventure". Pig and Frog take Dog on his first camping trip, and hijinks ensue with tent-pitching and a scary campfire story that comes true.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Shark coexists with the likes of Pig and Sheep.
  • Chaste Toons: Pig has three lowercase nephews, and no children of his own.
  • Chirping Crickets: Parodied in "A Star is Born". Duck is nervous to sing to the other Word Friends at a live performance, and a cricket is heard chirping when he doesn't start his act. It then turns out that the character Cricket is sitting in the audience, and they apologize.
  • Christmas Episode:
    • "The Christmas Star": Duck tries to catch a shooting star to top Frog's Christmas tree.
    • "A Christmas Present for Dog": When Dog's Christmas present is missing a letter, Bear learns the True Meaning of Christmas and sacrifices a letter from her own gift.
  • Clueless Aesop: In "Fire Fighters to the Rescue", Duck and Fly try to become firefighters, and get upset when there are no fires to put out. They never realize that's a good thing; they just keep hoping for an emergency to happen so that they can personally benefit from it. When Pig's marshmallows do catch on fire, the show fails to explicitly mention the possibility of it spreading across the forest. And, oddly, the episode ends with the new firefighters building a fire. The intended message could have been made much clearer by adding and tweaking a few lines.
  • Creation Sequence: The resolution of every episode has the characters sing the "Build a Word" song, creating whatever they need to solve the problem.
  • Dance Party Ending: "Duck's Family Reunion" ends with the characters resuming the silly dance from earlier in the episode. Frog gets over his grouchiness from having his gardening interrupted, and joins in.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Duck can be this at times.
  • Depth Deception: The models for some of the buildings have a view of the interior painted onto the doorway. This is most visible with Bear's cave.
  • Disembodied Eyebrows: All of the characters' eyebrows float above their heads.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": And a sheep, and a bear, and a duck, and a frog... Their bodies are actually made of their name.
  • Empathic Shapeshifter: The WordThings themselves behave like this, since words mean different things to different people. This is demonstrated in "One Hat Fits All", where the same letters H-A-T become a magician's hat, chef's hat, and propeller hat depending on who spells it.
  • Episode Title Card: At the beginning of every episode, its title appears in a shot of the sky while it's read aloud by the same offscreen children that read aloud the words that are built throught the episode. The camera then pans back down to WordWorld.
  • The Everyman: Bear has a less animated personality than the other characters, mainly distinguished by her love of sports like skateboarding and sledding. Some of her focal episodes treat her as an Audience Surrogate, having her learn perseverance or overcome her fear of the dark.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Every WordThing in the show literally spells out what it is.
  • Female Feline, Male Mutt: Cat is a girl and Dog is a boy.
  • Feud Episode: Pig and Ant have an argument on whose turn it is to make a word and call each other names in "Shuffleword". Sheep suggested that they shouldn't be mad and apologize but they refuse to apologize and think each other should apologize. They decided they should play without each other. Only when they realize that they can't make a word because they don't have all the letters, Sheep does a competition so they can work to make a word and apologize.
  • Fictional Sport: "Race to the Spaceship" introduces spaceship tag.
  • File Mixup: In "Mail Mix Up", Duck is delivering three letters—of the alphabet—and forgets whose mail is whose. Chaos ensues when his friends build the wrong words.
  • First Day of School Episode: In "Shark's First Day of School", Shark overcomes his worries about going to school.
  • Four-Legged Insect:
    • Inverted with Cricket and averted with the other insects.
    • Cricket has eight legs like an arachnid and Spider has six legs (and two antennae) like an insect.
  • Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better: Some animals (not counting the birds) walk on two legs and some walk on all fours.
  • Funny Animal: All of the animal characters except Dog and Cow can talk, and many of them stand up on two legs.
  • Furry Confusion:
    • Cow and Dog rarely talk, though it's often that Dog's barks can sound close to words. There are even realistic sea creatures.
    • Dog can't talk, but he actually owns a house, whereas Pig lives in a barn, Bear lives in a cave, Sheep lives in hay, Frog lives in a log, and Duck has a nest.
    • Fish lives in a fishbowl and cannot say much, while Shark walks on his tailfin on land and is very talkative.
  • Gluttonous Pig: Pig is a chef who hosts his own cooking show, but he also likes eating everything in sight. He is working on sharing, though.
  • Graceful in Their Element: Shark is a great dancer underwater, but is, of course, a Fish out of Water on land.
  • Green Aesop: In "The Rainbow Birthday Cake", Pig stresses the importance of recycling used cans—which they do by reusing them in other words, like candle and canoe.
  • Halloween Episode:
    • "A Kooky Spooky Halloween": A sleepwalking Pig is mistaken for a ghost.
    • "Sheep's Halloween Costume": The WordFriends are getting ready for a Halloween costume party.
  • Height Angst: "There's an Ant in Every Giant" features both sorts. Ant gets tired of being small and turns himself into a giant. He then learns the disadvantages of being so tall and changes back.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Pig and Ant, Duck and Frog, and Bear and Sheep.
  • Hiccup Hijinks: Duck gets the hiccups in the episode "Duck's Hiccups".
  • Honesty Aesop: Used in "The Lost Letter L". Duck breaks Frog's lamp, and it's hammered in that he should just come clean to Frog; his attempts to fix things himself only result in an ever-bigger mess.
  • I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham: In “Mmm-Mmm-Milk”, Ant refuses to drink milk when having milk and cookies with Pig because he says he doesn’t like it, even though he hasn’t tried it before. After running into Duck and Shark who are having a new-food picnic where they try new things, this convinces him to go back to Pig’s Barn to finally try some milk. In the end, after taking a sip, he decides he LOVES milk.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: In "Dog's Having a Party", Pig is shown eating a hot dog. Although the jury's out on whether WordThings are vegan, being made of letters and not meat.
  • Interactive Narrator: The narrator often talks with the characters, usually at the beginning of a story. He often offers advice, acting as The Conscience. Cutting the other way, in "Tick Tock Space Clock", Duck and Robot need it quiet and have to remind the narrator to speak more softly.
  • I Work Alone: In "Superhero Sheep", Sheep adopts this attitude, claiming that she doesn't need a sidekick—until she herself needs saving.
  • The Last Straw: In the "Pig's Perfect Pizza" song, Pig makes a pizza with toppings that all start with the letter P. He stacks the pizza up with "toppings" ranging from popcorn to pickles, creating a tower of various foods. Finally, he adds a single peanut, causing the entire tower to fall and the pizza to break apart.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: In the season 3 episode "X Marks the Spot," the letter "X" keeps announcing itself. No other letter ever did this.
  • Literal Metaphor: In the episode "Snug as a Bug":
    Bug: Hiya, Frog! What's up?
    Frog: I am! I can't fall asleep.
  • Literal-Minded: Robot takes instructions literally, natch. While learning how to run the bases in "Play Ball!", he stops to build a playground slide when encouraged to "slide" for home plate.
  • Living Prop: Cow doesn't do much, often just appearing in the background.
  • Loose Tooth Episode: In the episode "Shark's First Loose Tooth", Shark loses a tooth for the first time. Duck tries to help him fall asleep so the tooth fairy can come.
  • Loud Sleeper Gag: In "Waterlogged", Frog is forced to move into Pig's house when his log home ends up sinking and needs rebuilding by Ant and his friends. One of the many things that Frog does as a rude houseguest is snoring loudly enough to keep Pig up. Realizing that he won't get any sleep, Pig decides to visit Ant and the others to see how the reconstruction of Frog's home is coming along. Unfortunately, they don't listen to him when he tells them that the letters they pull up (G, O, and L) are the right letters but are in the wrong order, and he is forced to go back home and put up with more of Frog's antics.
  • Medium Awareness: Downplayed. All of the characters can not only hear the Narrator, but they even call him Mr. Narrator when they talk to him. However, no one seems to be aware that they are characters in a television show. They also don't seem to notice the offscreen children that read aloud the built words.
  • Message in a Bottle: In "Pirate Ship", a message in a bottle has a clue that leads the WordFriends to treasure.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: In the episode "Achoo" where Pig is sneezing, Sheep builds an ambulance. Granted, Pig is having an allergic reaction, but he tells Sheep that he doesn't need to go to the hospital.
  • Mistaken for Related: In "Duck's Family Reunion", Duck takes Sheep's new yellow truck for a long-lost relative.
  • Mystery Episode: "The Mystery of the Disappearing Pie", naturally. The WordFriends have to find the culprit letter by letter.
  • Namedworld and Namedland: WordWorld, the world where everything is made of words!
  • Nature Is Not Nice: Downplayed in "Castles in the Sea", where the tide washes away Duck and Shark's sandcastle every night, to their dismay and confusion.
  • New Ability Addiction: In "Robots to the Rescue", Frog learns how to make words plural and starts adding the letter S to things all over WordWorld, not yet realizing the chaos the multiplication is causing. He puts the knowledge to good use by pluralizing Robot to clean up the mess.
  • No Cartoon Fish: Only a few cartoony fish have been seen.
  • Noisy Duck: Duck has No Indoor Voice and quacks in the middle of sentences.
  • Not-So-Forgotten Birthday: In "Happy Birthday, Dog!", Dog believes everyone has forgotten his birthday, but they're planning a surprise party.
  • Once an Episode: "It's time to build a word! Let's build it, let's build it now!"
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. There are apparently two cats, one purple and one blue.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: Monster, who is a tall, red creature. Despite being a monster in name, he only scares people by accident.
  • Partially Civilized Animal: Any four-legged character (Tiger, Elephant, Turtle, Monkey, Dog, Cat, and Goat).
  • Percussive Maintenance: Duck pantomimes this in "Tick Tock Space Clock", tapping a balled wing against Robot's chest when he notices it making the sound of a clock.
    Duck: [knocking] Is everything screwed on alright in there?
  • Performance Anxiety: Duck gets stage fright in "A Star is Born", unable to remember his line and blurting out the first thing he sees.
  • Pirate Episode: "Pirate Ship" sees the characters following a Message in a Bottle to a hidden treasure chest.
  • Pokémon Speak: The letter X in "X Marks the Spot" keeps saying its own name.
  • Present Peeking: In "Pig's Present", Pig's attempts to peek at his nephews' present cause them to lose the letters, briefly souring his own birthday party. After Pig thinks about his actions and resolves to be patient, the nephews realize they can rebuild the gift.
  • Quacking Up: Duck seems to be the youngest of the main cast. He is often naive and careless in his actions, but he loves to have fun and crack jokes. He acts as an Audience Surrogate to the young viewers, as he is still learning his letters.
  • Rain, Rain, Go Away: "Get Your Coat" is this for Frog, who retreats into his log because he hates the rain. Eventually he finds a way to keep playing outside before the weather passes.
  • Repeating So the Audience Can Hear: Because Dog only barks, the other characters end up repeating what he was trying to say.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Most of the characters and objects in the series are shaped like their own words.
  • Share Phrase: "We still have all the letters, so all we have to do is… build a word!"
  • Shorter Means Smarter: Ant is unsurprisingly the smallest of his friends, yet he is one of the smartest people in WordWorld, as said by Pig.
  • Shout-Out: In "The Race to Mystery Island", Frog holds up a sign saying "Help!" while riding his runaway wagon towards the haystack, referencing Wile E. Coyote.
  • Single-Minded Twins: Pig's three lowercase nephews are always on the same page and act as one.
  • Stealth Pun: Sounding a word out is a very literal incantation that helps create anything the WordFriends want. Talk about a magic spell!
  • Team Spirit:
    • In "Shuffleword", Pig and Ant can't play the titular game without working together, and reluctantly teaming up again leads to them ending their feud.
    • In "Superhero Sheep", Sheep accepts Duck's help as a sidekick after he gets her down from a roof.
    • In "The Race to Mystery Island", Pig and Frog go to lengths to outdo each other, but find that the only way to finish their race is to work together.
  • The Smart Guy: Frog is usually the brainiac of the friends. Except when his Large Ham qualities turn him into a Know-Nothing Know-It-All.
  • Steam Never Dies: The train is a large blue steam locomotive shaped like the word "TRAIN" that is, for some reason fueled by letters, couldn't decide whether it should have a 2-2-2 or a 4-2-0 wheel arrangement, and doesn't have anyone driving it.
  • Strong Ants: Ant is renowned for his strength.
  • Tagline: "Where words come alive".
  • Tailfin Walking: Shark walks on his tailfin.
  • That Cloud Looks Like...: At the beginning of "Tick Tock Space Clock", Duck is cloudwatching. The clouds are actually made of letters that merge into cloud WordThings, like the shape of a fish and a dinosaur. He then mistakes a rocket that's about to land on him for another cloud.
  • Threatening Shark: Averted with Shark, who's very friendly, but the WordFriends take a while to realize it in his debut episode.
  • Title Theme Tune: Welcome to our world! WordWorld!
  • Valentine's Day Episode: Notably, each focusing on valentines of the same gender:
    • "My Fuzzy Valentine": Sheep tries to write a special Valentine's Day song for "[her] friend, Bear."
    • "Love, Bug": Frog teaches Bug how to sign a Valentine's Day card, and turns out to be the recipient.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: In "Totally Terrific Duck", Duck wants to wear a tutu to a group photo with his friends. Sheep helps him build one, and no one bats an eye or considers it unusual.
  • WPUN: The local radio station's call letters are WORD.
  • Written Sound Effect: Spelled-out sound effects take physical form, with word-shaped splashes and dust clouds spelling "POOF", for example.



just in case for emergency.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

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