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YMMV / Schoolhouse Rock!

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  • Awesome Music: Many people who grew up watching the shorts consider many of the songs to be this. So much so that quite a number of them have been covered by popular artists and bands (for example, De La Soul sampled "Three Is The Magic Number" for their song "The Magic Number" off their 1989 album, Three Feet High And Rising). A tribute album was released in 1996, Schoolhouse Rock Rocks, which featured 15 cover tracks (plus the original intro) by artists such as Ween, Blind Melon, Moby, Better Than Ezra, Biz Markie, and The Lemonheads.
  • Dork Age:
    • Depending on who you ask, any Schoolhouse Rock songs made in 1993 or later can count as part of this. However, there's a fairly strong contingent of fans for whom the only tolerable Money Rock song is either "Dollars and Sense" or "Tyrannosaurus Debt", and "A Tiny Urban Zoo" for Schoolhouse Rock! Earth.
    • The 1987 Golden Book/ABC Kidavision videos with Cloris Leachman can be classified under this.
    • The amount of people who even remember the short-lived Computer Rock series (4 episodes between 1982 and 1984, one of which is not even available to watch on home video or streaming) featuring Scooter Computer and Mr. Chips is miniscule compared to the rest of the series. The amount of people who enjoy these songs even less so, since they can come off as a poorly-concieved and even more poorly-aged attempt to stay relevant as personal computers started becoming more common.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • In "Unpack Your Adjectives", the bulky guy proves he's the brainy one by rattling off a definite integral, a type of formula you don't even see until after several weeks of calculus. It's completely accurate, and even gets simplified. Doubles as a Freeze-Frame Bonus and an aversion of E = MC Hammer. Even better in that it's an advanced math concept in a Grammar Rock song.
    • Although the 13 colonies are added in random order in "The Preamble", the following states are added in the right order. (Except for West Virginia, which is never part of Virginia in the map, probably because Virginia would look weird if its shape changed.)
    • The July 3rd premiere of "Fireworks". The Second Continental Congress approved the Lee Resolution on July 2, 1776, officially declaring independence while the formal document was approved on July 4, 1776. July 3rd split the difference between the 200th anniversary of the “true” Independence Day and “official” Independence Day.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • "Tyrannosaurus Debt", which gets harder and harder to listen to as the national debt rises year after year.
    • "Three-Ring Government" becomes this when you realize the main character's dream is to one day own a circus. Today, big names like Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey have gone out of business and the industry itself has come under intensified criticism for its longtime treatment of animals, all pointing towards a rather uncertain future for circuses as a whole.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • One of the characters in "Walking on Wall Street", the kid selling newspapers, with his orange hoodie, round face, and wild red hair looks like a younger version of Wreck-It Ralph.
    • There is also the image of the kid in "Verb: That's What's Happenin'" going to see an African American-led Super Hero movie with a big crowd. This short was made in 1974, years before Superman: The Movie starring Christopher Reeve became a breakthrough smash hit and decades before the superhero genre — including the uber-popular Black Panther (2018) — became a dominant one for theatrical films.
    • From "Interjections": "Darn! You just lost the game!"
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "DARN! You just lost the game!"
    • Some of the songs, such as "I'm Just a Bill" and "Conjuction Junction", have been popular sources for parody.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • "Figure Eight" can also come off as depressing and cold (as per the winter setting of the short).
      • "If you skate/Upon thin ice/You'd be wise/If you thought twice/Before you made another single move..." Those lines are accompanied by a boy skating a figure eight on thin ice, falling through and jumping back out nearly frozen to death.
      • The song as a whole has a very downer tone to it, which combined with the (mostly) fun and colorful imagery makes for some serious Soundtrack Dissonance.
    • The aliens and space setting in "Little Twelvetoes". In fact, the song itself was rarely shown due to how unsettling kids found it.
    • The girl in "A Noun Is a Person, Place, or Thing" is almost always smiling, falling into Uncanny Valley due to how big her smile is on her head.
    • "Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla". Something about those bizarre body proportions and Slasher Smile...
      • The idea of his sister and an aardvark being in love is a bit squicky.
    • "The Great American Melting Pot" has a lot of unintentionally cannibalistic imagery. Of particular note are the children diving into the melting pot as though it were a swimming pool, and the fact that Lady Liberty clearly has a cookbook.
    • "Them Not-So-Dry Bones" has the skeleton of one of the singers jump out of his body, leaving his skin a pile of apparently lifeless mush. That same skin is then tried on by a newer, taller skeleton. Who knew Schoolhouse Rock was capable of such borderline macabre imagery?
    • Some may find the artstyle of "Three Ring Government" unnerving due to how often people look absolutely inhuman. For example, the Legislative jugglers, the one member of the Supreme Court whose face resembles a skull, and...
      • The five criminals depicted as the "wrongs" of society to be balanced out: a mafioso, a thug with a scar and blunt weapon, a man wearing a trenchcoat and wide-brimmed hat, a long-nosed blue-skinned man in a suit, and a horrifyingly burned thing with pointed ears, a gruesome grimace, and a lit stick of dynamite.
  • Periphery Demographic: While the show is primarily intended for elementary school students, some of the things taught in the show are also things you’d find in middle and high school settings, such as Three Ring Government, talking about the three branches of the government. The catchy songs, in the same vein as Animaniacs, have also been memorized by many students of all ages across the US.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Lynn Ahrens wrote and sang some songs for this show decades before becoming the lyricist of Ragtime, Once On This Island, Seussical, and Anastasia.
  • Signature Song: By each season...
    • Multiplication Rock: "Three Is a Magic Number", "My Hero, Zero", "Lucky Seven Sampson", or "Figure Eight"
    • Grammar Rock: "Verb: That's What Happening", "Conjunction Junction", "Interjections!", or "Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here"
    • America Rock: "The Preamble", "I'm Just a Bill", or "The Great American Melting Pot"
    • Science Rock: "A Victim of Gravity", "Interplanet Janet", or "Electricity, Electricity"
    • Computer Rock: "Number Cruncher"
    • Money Rock: "Dollars and Sense" or "Tyrannosaurus Debt"
    • Earth Rock: "A Tiny Urban Zoo"
      • Overall: "Conjunction Junction" and "I'm Just a Bill" take the top spot, with honorable mentions being "Three Is a Magic Number", "Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here", "The Preamble", "Interplanet Janet", and "Electricity, Electricity".
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: "Interplanet Janet" seems almost identical in composition to Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now". What makes this all the more bizarre is, for one, the fact that both songs use the analogy of intergalactic rocket travel, and two, while "Interplanet Janet" was released on October 7th, 1978, "Don't Stop Me Now", and by extension the rest of Jazz, was released a month later on November 10th, 1978. It's also rather unlikely that either song was directly inspired by the other, as "Don't Stop Me Now" was only released as a single a year after Jazz.
  • Unfortunate Character Design: The mailman in "Check's in the Mail". His nose casts a very dark shadow on his face, which apart from being highly unnecessary also makes him look like Hitler.
  • Unintentional Period Piece:
    • "Money Rock" has a few:
      • One song was about interest. A viewer in the present day might be confused at how small the interest rates on Becky Sue's loan is; the song says "For every dollar you borrow you gotta pay the bank a dollar and a dime", suggesting an interest rate of 10%. Banks may actually charge higher interest rates than that today — especially if it's a student loan.
      • "$7.50 once a week" due to inflation—one amusing bit to a modern viewer would probably be how the narrator talks about spending a lot of money ($2.00) on Chicken Enchilada—only to find that he could have saved $1.50 if he went across the street. In the present day, $2.00 for a restaurant meal is almost unheard of (unless it's one of those cheap, fast-food places, but even then, it wouldn't cost you just $2.00).
    • "The Check's in the Mail" has a lot of people using pay phones.
      • The concept of the song itself is becoming dated. Most people prefer to give checks directly these days rather than deposit in the mail. And checking in particular is being handled more and more by debit cards.
    • "I Got Six" also has an inflation example; the menu for the downtown restaurant has no item more than $9.00. You would not find an item for less than that amount today.
    • And of course there's "Interplanet Janet", where Pluto is still referred to as a planet. Fast forward to 2006, and it was subsequently reclassified as a dwarf planet; not that everybody has acknowledged this controversial decision, though. Some productions of Schoolhouse Rock Live!, which include the song, even take note of this when the lyric is sung, with the characters asking the audience for their opinion on the situation.
    • "The Great American Melting Pot" covered the migration into America that took place between the mid-19th and the early 20th centuries with a heavy emphasis on European immigrants. The stanza with "Go on and ask your grandma" applied to many second or third generation Americans whose ancestors emigrated during that period.
  • Values Dissonance: Some ideas about American history and culture that were popular around the Bicentennial have since fallen out of favor and/or have been picked apart by political correctness. In particular:
    • "Elbow Room" is likely to leave a bad taste in peoples' mouths these days as the song is about the Manifest Destiny. It's incredibly oversimplified in that fails to mention any of the... let's just say questionable aspects of that time period.
      elizestr: Genocide never sounded so catchy.
    • "The Great American Melting Pot": The recipe book lists various individual countries (and at least one US commonwealth), but only lists "Africans" for Africa.
    • In "Mother Necessity", the first invention shown is Eli Whitney's cotton gin. It depicted white workers working it, although in reality black slaves mostly worked the machines.
    • In "The Body Machine", the description of the digestive process begins with the line "First the saliva/kind of like a driver", followed by an actual bus driver character announcing "Move to the rear of the mouth!" While a reasonable analogy for the chewing process, the depiction of it is problematic today. The main character is an African-American girl and the bus driver is white.
    • "A Victim of Gravity" explains Newton's law of gravity by having the unnamed main character attempting to forcibly make-out with his girlfriend Mary-Jean without her consent. Granted, she manages to break free and ditch him, but modern viewers can't help but wonder who the real victim is....?
  • Values Resonance:
    • The pleas for conserving natural resources in "The Energy Blues" are as relevant now in the 21st century as they were in the 1970s (possibly because the need to do so hasn't faded from the public consciousness).
      • The rhetoric is somewhat dated, though, as the short was made during an energy crisis, whereas today's problem may not be solved so easily.
    • The "Tyrannosaurus Debt" song isn't that dated, considering concern about the economy and the U.S. owing money to other nations (with China being the biggest). Although the debt being listed in the song as "only" $5 trillion can make people wish it was that low now.
    • Pearl being the one to propose to Mr. Morton in "The Tale of Mr. Morton", while being a heartwarming moment in its own right, serves as a timeless testament to how women's rights have evolved, and even subtly, at that, compared to the likes of "Sufferin' Till Suffrage".
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: "Where The Money Goes" and "The Tale of Mr. Morton" have white Jack Sheldon voice African-American fathers, though the latter at least only gives him two lines. It feels especially jarring compared to "I Got Six" and "Verb: That's What's Happening!", which authentically cast Grady Tate and Zachary Sanders as African-American characters.
  • The Woobie: That "sad scrap of paper", the Bill in "I'm Just a Bill". One suspects that Congress passed him and the president signed him just to Throw the Dog a Bone.