Dennis the Menace (TV series)

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"Hey, Misssssssssster Willllllllllllllsonnnnnnnn!"
Dennis Mitchell, calling his 'best friend' Mr George/John Wilson, who generally mutters "Oh, no..." to himself in response.

Dennis the Menace was a US television series based on the Hank Ketcham comic strip of the same name. The show aired from 1959 to 1963 on CBS and stars Jay North as Dennis Mitchell; Herbert Anderson as his father, Henry; Gloria Henry as his mother, Alice; Joseph Kearns as George Wilson, Gale Gordon as John Wilson, and Sylvia Field as Martha Wilson.


Tropes used in Dennis the Menace (TV series) include:
  • Adaptation Distillation: Dennis does not own Ruff the dog in the television version, while George Wilson aquires a terrier named Fremont.
  • Animated Credits Opening: Featuring Dennis as an abstract tornado, knocking over paint cans and literally shaking the neighborhood houses.
  • As Himself: Spring Byington and Sandy Koufax
  • Baseball Episode: With Special Guest Star Sandy Koufax As Himself.
  • Billing Displacement: For the first three years the credits featured Jay North by himself, and then one screen with three credits in the order of Herbert Anderson (Henry), Gloria Henry (Alice), and Joseph Kerns (Mr Wilson). When Gale Gordon joined the cast, he became the second person to be credited, followed by Anderson and Henry.
  • Catch Phrase: For Dennis: "Heyyyyyy, Misssssster Willllllllllllson!", "Good ol' Mr Wilson" "Jeepers!" "I was only trying to help!". For Mr Wilson: "Oh, Great Scott!"
    • Lampshaded at the end of one episode

Mr Wilson: I'm sorry, Alice, I was only trying to help.
Dennis: Jeepers, Mr Wilson! You sound just like me!"
Mr Wilson: I do?!?! Jeepers!
Dennis: Great Scott!

  • Cool Old Guy: George Wilson, in Dennis's eyes at least.
  • Cranky Neighbor: George Wilson, in everyone else's eyes.
  • Crossover: Jay North made a guest appearence in an episode of The Donna Reed Show as Dennis. Apparently the Mitchells and the Stones live in the same neighborhood.
    • Spring Byington appears in one episode as herself visiting her niece, the mother of one of Dennis's friends. Although playing herself, Dennis refers to her by the name of her character from December Bride. (Which is somewhat ironic, as Jay North would grow up to resent the fact that everyone thought of him as Dennis, making it next to impossible to find post Dennis acting work.)
  • Free-Range Children
  • Genre Savvy: George Wilson. In one episode Wilson and the Mitchells decide how to approach Dennis to solve that week's problem. After they reach a solution Alice asks Wilson what he's thinking about and George says he's just trying to figure out how this solution will eventually backfire.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Ron Howard played one of Dennis's friends in a few episodes.
  • Inept Aptitude Test: Dennis takes a standardized IQ test in school which reveals him to be a genius; but it turns out a wad of gum he left on the underside of the paper screwed up the scoring.
  • Just Eat Dennis
  • Limited Wardrobe: Jay North always wore a striped shirt and overalls like comic strip Dennis for the first three seasons. For the fourth he was allowed to wear regular pants, but they were the same color as the overalls and he still wore the striped shirts.
  • Lucky Rabbit's Foot: An episode called "The Lucky Rabbit's Foot". In it, Dennis has what he thinks is a lucky rabbit's foot. With recent bad luck Mr. Wilson has been having, Dennis offers to let him borrow the foot. Mr. Wilson, however, doesn't believe in such superstition and doesn't take the foot. Immediately thereafter, his bad luck continues when something jams his lawnmower, and he runs over his garden hose with the mower.
  • Maintain the Lie: In one episode John Wilson fears a glamourous movie star will feel he is too old to write her life story, so he inlists Henry Mitchell to meet with her as him instead. Cue the hilarity when both Alice and Eloise come home early.
  • Menace Decay: Like the comic strip, the first few episodes had Dennis being more of an actual menace then the innocent naive boy "just trying to help" that later episodes turned him into.
  • Noodle Incident: When Mr Wilson's TV turns itself on (via Dennis' rented remote from his window) he thinks Mrs Wilson's behind it.

Mr Wilson: I was taking my nap and the tv came on and started running wild! I even thought you were hiding in the closet, changing channels on me.
Mrs Wilson: Oh, I'd never do that to you, Dear."
Mr Wilson: Oh, yea? What about that time in Atlantic City?

  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: After four years, Jay North was starting to look a bit out-of-place as a five-year-old.
  • Not Now, Kiddo
  • Parent Ex Machina
  • Road Sign Reversal: Dennis mistakenly believes the street sign at the corner is reversed, so he turns it, whereupon a swimming pool company goes to the wrong house and basically destroys Mr. Wilson's backyard.
  • The Simpsons: An episode entitled "Two Bad Neighbors" parodied the show with former President George H. W. Bush moving into the neighborhood, complete with Bart at one point greeting him with "Heyyyyyy Misssssssterrrrrrr Buuuuuuuuuussssssh!"
    • In another episode Bart refers to himself as "This generation's Dennis The Menace".
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Gale Gordon replaced Joseph Kerns as George Wilson's brother John for the final season after Kerns passed away. Oddly enough, Gordon resembles the newspaper image of George Wilson much more than Kerns did.
    • Although to be fair, John wasn't completly a clone of George. Being slightly younger he was still working and not the cranky retiree that George was. John seemed to accept Dennis more as an equal, and even conspired with him in a few episodes. The characterizations of Martha and Eloise Wilson on the other hand were indistiguishable.
    • The two episodes filmed between Kern's last episode and Gordon's first were obviously rewritten with two SSSs: Grocer Mr Quigley coaches Dennis's Little League Team, and Uncle Ned - who previously was a health nut who drove George crazy with excersise and fitness - now is in such bad health that he suddenly gets exhaused as he prepares his flower garden for a neighborhood contest.
  • Third Person Person: Opie the Fix-it Man in "Dennis and the TV Set".