All Dogs Go to Heaven

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The Don Bluth film All Dogs Go to Heaven tells the story of a dog named Charlie B. Barkin, who ends up getting murdered by his gangster business partner, Carface Carruthers. He ends up in Heaven, but decides to return to life and take revenge upon Carface. After he returns to life, Charlie frees a young orphan girl, Anne-Marie, from captivity at the hands of Carface. At first, Charlie exploits Anne-Marie's ability to speak to animals, but he soon comes to like the little girl and eventually undergoes a change in character.

As perspective: the story of All Dogs Go to Heaven, an animated film about cute dogs, revolves around a dog who dies—and for some reason, people find this premise strange.

All Dogs landed in theaters on 17 November 1989; on the same day, Disney sent out The Little Mermaid, resulting in one of the worst cases of Dueling Movies in film history. At first, The Little Mermaid was decidedly more remembered and popular, but now, All Dogs Go to Heaven is remembered for standing out among movies of the time and even today. The film ended up selling well on home video despite its poor box office performance, and thanks to those numbers, the film received a sequel (par for the course for every animated film ever during that time) and a TV series adaptation. (As usual, Bluth had no involvement with either of those projects.)

Due to their loose following of canon and their Lighter and Softer tone, fans widely consider the sequels and the series as disappointing and inferior to the original film. Only three things stay consistent with the sequels and the series: the amount of time between the second film and the series (two years), David's age (ten years old), and Charlie's age (four, in human years).

Tropes used in All Dogs Go to Heaven include:

All Dogs Go to Heaven

  • Actor Allusion: When the heavenly whippet looks in Charlie's records, his mother and father are named "Loni" and "Burt", and look like canine versions of Loni Anderson and Burt Reynolds (who were together at the time.) Loni also appears in the film as one of Burt's "close friends".
  • Afraid of Blood: Killer, which may be why he prefers to "use the pliers".
  • Amazing Technicolor Puppies: The puppies Flo is looking after are all bright unnatural colors compared to all the other dogs who have more natural-looking fur colors.
  • Ambiguously Gay: King Gator and, to a lesser extent, Killer.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: The Gran Chawhee, about whom Itchy remarks, "I don't care if it's his...his bar mitzvah! That horse is a gluepot!"
  • Animal Talk: Used weirdly. Dogs can only communicate with other dogs. The orphan girl Anne-Marie is the only character who is able to speak to all animals. This is made explicit when it's revealed that Anne-Marie is being exploited by Carface, since she can inform him who will win in a race. It's held pretty consistently throughout the film... except when it isn't (e.g., King Gator and Charlie's Non Sequitur Scene.)
    • And even Anne-Marie can't always fully understand some creatures if they speak in a different 'language', as she stated to Charlie when King Gator's rat-minions, who she says "talk too funny", are carrying them to him in their cages. She probably only recognizes and understands English since most animal characters are interpreted/translated in her view as being English.
    • As well with the horses at the race track. The dogs don't understand what the horses are saying, but the horses understand when the dogs are insulting them.
    • It's plausible an animal can learn another language.
  • Author Allusion: Don Bluth's birthday is also September 13, 1937. This makes Charlie about 25 by the new conversion system laid down by scientists.
  • Ascended Meme: The Blu-Ray cover dedicates an awful lot of space to the big-lipped alligator.
  • Big Damn Heroes: King Gator pulls this at the end of the movie, showing up just in time to free Charlie and eat Carface.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The original film ends with Charlie saving Anne-Marie, at the cost of his own life. He shares one last goodbye with her before having to return to Heaven. And true to the title of the film, Big Bad Carface gets into Heaven as well.
  • Cowardly Sidekick: Itchy Itchiford, most of the time.
  • Death's Hourglass
  • Disappeared Dad: It's never explicitly said in the film, but you can bet those puppies are Charlie's.
    • Word of God says that Flo is just an orphan puppy caretaker.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Even when you already had an ending!
    • Belladonna makes a good case for it as well...
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Another bout of Executive Meddling turned Carface's Tommy Gun into "a RAAAAAAAY gun!" Apparently they thought the real gun was too scary. The official story is this: Midway through production there was an incident where a man attacked a school in LA with an automatic weapon. Many children died and the studio did not want to recall the episode, so the tommy gun was changed to something out of fantasy. The thing is, apparently guns are scarier than Hell.
    • See the Reality Subtext for an even better reason why they might not have wanted regular guns pointed at Anne-Marie. (The movie wasn't released until a year and a half after Judith Barsi's murder.)
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: Driven into the ground.
  • Five-Man Band: It's implied Charlie and Carface's friends were this
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: Also driven into the ground.
  • Food Porn: Those waffles look really good.
    • As does the pizza.
  • Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better: Two-legged Charlie, a German Shepherd/Collie mix, contrasts with Itchy Itchiford, who walks on all fours because of his Dachshund anatomy.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Averted - Charlie and several other dogs are shown drinking mugs of beer and clearly getting drunk. It appears that getting Charlie drunk was Carface's first phase of murdering him, as he becomes unable to suspect anything odd.
    • Almost played straight in the sequel. However, instead of water, the pink liquid is "root beer".
  • Gentle Giant: King Gator.
  • The Great Depression: The film is set in 1939.
  • Green Around the Gills: When Killer gets a whiff of the smoke from Carface's cigar, his entire body turns green.
  • Grotesque Gallery: Most of the character designs hover along the Ugly Cute border, but King Gator's character design is... a bit much. Also that one pink horse. Yeesh.
  • Heartwarming Orphan / Tastes Like Diabetes: Anne-Marie is intended to be the first. Some fans see her as the latter.
  • Hell of a Heaven: Heaven's nice and all, but Charlie isn't happy about staying there right yet as he misses things from his life.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: At the end of the film, Charlie decides to save Anne-Marie from the burning ship before he tries to retrieve his life watch. This results in him dying the second time, but he is then accepted into heaven due to this.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Itchy Itchiford - at least occasionally.
  • It Is Not Your Time: Quite averted for a story where characters returning from the dead is a theme. Charlie, however, lies to Itchy and tells him this is the case.
  • It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans
  • Jerkass: Charlie spends most of the movie as this before becoming a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Karma Houdini: All dogs are, simply by being dogs. Carface—murdering, kidnapping, horrible Carface—ends up in heaven.
  • Large Ham: "A number 3, Lame Dog."
  • Late to the Punchline: One that most American viewers completely missed: the horse named "The Grand Chawhee". Don't get it? Look into the political situations of Ireland (where Sullivan/Bluth studios was based) from around the time it was made. That is all we shall say.
  • Love Redeems
  • Manly Tears: Charlie sheds a manly tear at the end.
  • Minion with an F In Evil: Killer, who sometimes doesn't seem like he likes following Carface and carrying out his evil plans.
  • Mood Whiplash: About halfway through the movie, we get, one after another, the ultra-cheery sharing song, Anne-Marie's super-sad "I Want" Song, and Charlie's Hell dream. Good times.
  • Mook Face Turn: Probably applies to Killer, who loyally serves Carface throughout most of the film, but is the one to swim Anne-Marie to safety at the end.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Look how everyone looks happy.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: How Carface kills off Charlie. By getting him sloppy drunk, blindfolded and lining him up to be hit by a car on a pier. It wouldn't be enough to just lead him into a busy street or drown him, he does both to be one of the few animated villains to actually kill the protagonist early on and would've won had Charlie not scammed his way out of Heaven.
  • Orphan's Ordeal: Poor Anne-Marie, living in a junkyard and getting kidnapped by a gang of talking, gambling dogs to be exploited for her ability to communicate with animals. It's always so sad when that happens to orphans.
  • Parental Abandonment: Anne-Marie
  • Pet the Dog: A rare example where it is the dog which pets the human. Also, in the more literal sense -- particularly at the end.
  • Pounds Are Animal Prisons: The opening of the movie, complete with dramatic jailbreak.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Killer before his Mook Face Turn at the end of the movie.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Snow White probably looked just like Anne-Marie when she was little.
  • Reality Subtext: Read this message board post [dead link]. Now try to watch the film without cringing violently. (The link doesn't make it explicit, but Judith Barsi was also the voice of Anne-Marie.) This may explain the above-mentioned Family-Friendly Firearms.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Charlie is red, Itchy is blue.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Charlie dies after finally learning to care for someone besides himself.
    • Also kind of a variation while it costs Charlie his mortal life, the act saves his soul from Hell, thus it saved his afterlife.
  • Refusing Paradise - A non-heroic example. Charlie tricking his way out of Heaven sets the whole plot in motion.
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation
  • Revenge Before Reason: Charlie is willing to forever forsake his place in Heaven to get revenge on Carface for murdering him in the first place.
  • Right Behind Me: Near the end, Charlie says that he's only using Anne-Marie and only pretends to be her friend to Itchy, unaware that Anne-Marie is standing on the steps behind him.
  • Satan: A giant red dragon-like creature appears to Charlie in a nightmare of hell and appears outside Anne-Marie's house near the end of the movie, and is implied to be Satan.
  • Say My Name: It's astounding how many times people say Charlie's name in this movie-122 times total! This video counts almost all of those moments.
  • Series Continuity Error: The scene with a certain alligator violates the rules of the movie: animals can only speak to members of their own species, with Anne-Marie being the only being who can communicate with everyone. Yet the Gator and Charlie can share a cross-species musical number. This only adds to the sequence being completely out of place in the film.
    • Maybe it was the power of music that let them communicate?
      • Maybe they weren't communicating. Charlie only joins in at the end of the song, and only by echoing the one line. He didn't have to understand it for that. Plus, he spent most of the song looking terrified, so I wouldn't be surprised if he was unaware that King Gator had already declared that he wasn't to be eaten.
    • A horse also seems to respond to Itchy implying that it is stupid.
      • Not to say you can't, y'know, learn another language.
  • Shark Pool: Carface uses the piranha-filled version of this trope to dispose of Killer after he fails him twice. That is, until Killer mentions he has a gun.
  • Shopping Montage: Used to cheer the disillusioned Anne-Marie. We're not supposed to ask what the dogs were going to do with all the money otherwise.
    • They used it to get Charlie's casino off the ground.
      • Which raises even more questions, really.
  • Shout-Out: Anne-Marie's outfit and hair are much like Disney's Snow White's.
  • Sidekick Song: "LET'S MAKE MUSIC TOGETHER!" Also, "You Can't Keep a Good Dog Down," despite not being sung by the sidekicks.
  • Soul Jar: Charlie's watch.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Anne-Marie.
  • Subtext: "You're in love with the girl!"
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Carface ("MORONS! I'm surrounded by MORONS!!")
  • Through a Face Full of Fur: Killer becomes ill and his whole body turns green from the exposure to passive smoking, causing him to cough, after Carface blows it from his cigar towards him, twice.
  • Totem Pole Trench: With two dogs and a human. Amazingly, it works.
    • Even worse, the teller didn't seem to notice that the adult man making the purchase had the voice of a six-year-old girl.
  • Villain Protagonist: Charlie before his Character Development.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Itchy's rant to Charlie after Carface's thugs nearly kill him.
  • Wild Take: Killer springing in mid-air, his eyes bulging in and out, and screaming after he retrieves and puts back on his glasses when he sees Charlie and Itchy are out of prison clearly enough the second time.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Halfway through the movie, Carface is lowering Killer into a piranha tank, after discovering Charlie is still alive.

Carface: That's strike two, Killer. You're out.
Killer: No, boss! I get one more strike, I swear!


All Dogs Go to Heaven 2


Itchy: Well, what do you know, and I thought all dogs go to heaven.


The TV series and Christmas Special

  • Broad Strokes: To say that the series followed the films... loosely would be an understatement.
  • Equal Opportunity Evil: Belladonna describes "the other side" as an equal opportunity employer when she's trying to recruit Charlie to her side.
  • Heel Face Turn: Charlie's character growth could be considered this to some degree. He ultimately invokes this on Carface to turn him good so that Belladonna's plan could be stopped.
  • Mood Whiplash: Practically invoked in "Clean Up Your Act" in the Christmas Carol. It goes back and forth between visions of Heaven and of Hell. It works because its done by the Ghost Of Christmas Future (played by Charlie) and is showing both possible outcomes to Carface's future.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Happens with Carface in the Christmas Special, which is also the series finale. Applies because he was working as Belladonna's henchman at the time.
  • Recycled: the Series
  • Villain Protagonist: In one of the episodes of the series, "Sidekicked", Itchy and Killer get to sing a duet all about being sidekicks (Fast forward to 3:56).
  • Villain Song: Belladonna, Anabelle's demonic cousin gets one in both appearances. In the first one, it's Take The Easy Way Out, which is an attempt at luring Charlie to her side and it works...for a bit. In the Christmas Special, where she's the Big Bad, she sings I Always Get Emotional At Christmas Time, a song about how much she loves ruining Christmas.