Dinosaurs

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Just your average dinosaur family.

Dinosaurs was a show created by Jim Henson (or at least his production company, since he died when the show was still in pre-production) that aired on ABC in the early '90s. Basically it's The Flintstones meets The Simpsons, and yeah, they're dinosaurs! It followed the adventures of the Sinclair family: Earl, the not-too-bright blue collar dad; his wife, long-suffering Fran; and their three kids, typical teenager Robbie; naive middle daughter Charlene; and catch-phrase spouting Baby. Many of the episodes parodied modern society and issues, like the environment and family problems.

If you were looking for the animals, see Stock Dinosaurs.


Tropes used in Dinosaurs include:
  • Adam and Eve Plot - A cute but delicious species of furry animal has been reduced to a single breeding pair.
  • All Animals Are Dogs - In at least two episodes, the family has one or more cavemen as their pets. Guess how they act.
  • And I Must Scream - The episode "If You Were A Tree".
  • Bad Boss: Richfield.
  • Berserk Button: Never use the E-word ("efficient") in front of Mr. Richfield.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall - In the "How to Pick Up Girls" episode, Earl and Baby are watching a puppet show on TV. Fran wonders why they're watching a "kids show." Earl defends his choice of entertainment by citing the concept of Parental Bonus, doing an Aside Glance at the camera while doing so.
  • Break the Cutie: Robbie in "Career Opportunities." While getting a feel as a tree pusher, he incurs the wrath of Richfield, and is shown the entire time to be paralyzed in fear. Unlike most instances of the trope, it's Played for Laughs.
  • Bumbling Dad - Earl.
  • Carnivore Confusion - Mr. Richfield is a ceratopsian (horned dinosaur) that eats meat (specifically the two mammals mentioned above, and his daughter's boyfriends). Possibly Hilarious in Hindsight with the new discoveries that Triceratops may have been omnivorous.
  • Casanova Wannabe - Sexual Harris.
  • Catch Phrase - The Baby's "Gotta Love Me!" and "Not The Mama", among others.
    • An odd instance - "We're going to need another Timmy!" was only used in 3 episodes, yet it sticks out in people's minds.
    • Earl Sinclair: Honey, I'm home! I'm hungry!
    • B.P. Richfield: SINCLAIR! IN HERE NOW!!!
  • Celebrity Is Overrated
  • Censorship by Spelling

Fran: I don't want to argue in front of the B-A-B-Y.
Earl: Well I'm not changing another D-A-I..no wait..D-I-A...

    • As for the baby's reaction... just see the related trope's page image.
  • Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs: Known as "Sugar Frosted Boo-boo Bears".
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong - Earl, even in the episodes where his complaints seemed to have a certain degree of validity, was always proved 100% wrong by the coda.
  • Construction Catcalls: While on break, Roy begins leering at a young dino lady with a fully-developed tail.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive - Mr. Richfield.
  • Crappy Carnival: Wesaysoland in the episode "Variations on a Theme Park", which was created in a single day to take advantage of Pangaea's newly-instituted vacation time "through imagination, ingenuity, and a relaxed attitude towards building codes". Unfortunately, the rides are unfinished, the concessions are expensive, and the hotel rooms are decorated in an unflattering cow-themed design (to go along with its corporate mascot, Moola the Cash Cow).
  • Crapsack World - It's a world where the biggest, strongest, or oldest are the only ones that get a say in matters, and the decisions made are usually terrible. Not to mention the fact that, If you are not the absolute apex predator, you always have to watch your back from being eaten by aforementioned biggest and strongest. And don't get us started on what life is like for small mammals.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Robbie uncontrollably doing the mating dance in "Dirty Dancin'", even by himself.
  • Deadpan Snarker - Ethyl definitely counts.

Earl: It doesn't take a genius to figure that out.
Ethyl: Then you're the guy for the job.

    • Or upon learning that Earl will be challenged to a duel to the death.

Ethyl: (to Fran) Congratulations. You're a widow.

  • Deal with the Devil: Earl once traded his soul for a mug with a devil.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything? - Multiple, including Robbie's stint with vegetarianism being treated like homosexuality, Robbie bulking up on "Thornoids," Charlene's tail being an analogy for a girl's breasts, the Green Card episode refers to anti-immigration sentiment, and blue-furred mammals standing in for black-skinned musicians.
    • Also a "war-time" episode, where the four-legged dinos waged war with the two-legged over pistachio nuts.
    • And there was the episode The Greatest Story Ever Sold, which covered philosophy and organized religion, particularly the use of religion as a pacifier for the masses.
    • There was also an episode where the dinosaurs purchased a huge amount of land from cavemen for a fistful of glass pearls...
    • Charlene's muse accidentally giving her the round-earth theory instead of a great brownies recipe, sparking a science versus religion debate.
  • Downer Ending - A series of environmental crises brings on the Ice Age, and everybody dies. No, really.
  • Economy Cast - One shot characters are played by the same seven or eight puppets every episode, known as "Unisaurs". That meant a character could be male in one episode and female in another. This got a little awkward when the puppets usually used as Earl's coworkers played females. In one disturbing episode, the usually-male puppets are used as not just females, but exotic dancers.
  • End of an Age (the last episode)
  • Escalating War - the two-parter Nuts To War miniseries, made in response to the Persian Gulf War, where a petty territorial dispute over the rights to pistachio trees escalates into a full-blown war between the two-legged dinosaurs and the four-legged ones. In the end, there was only one two-legged casualty, but it turns out Robbie is okay.
  • Exact Words - Turns out Earl's Meteor insurance is no good because his house was hit by a meteorite.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin - The show's title.
  • Exploding Calendar: Made fun of in one episode where Earl frantically tries to stick the previous day back on.
  • Expy - The Simpsons as lampshaded in one episode in which Bart is watching a Springfield version of Dinosaurs and he remarks that its just like someone watched their family and copied it.
  • Fantastic Racism - A few episodes dealt with tensions between two-legged and four-legged dinosaurs.
  • Foregone Conclusion - ...it's about dinosaurs. What did you think would happen?
    • That it would be canned by the network before it ever stepped out of the typical early-90s TGIF sitcom Status Quo Is God mindset?
      • Dinosaurs ruled the world for 190 million years. WHY does a light comedy have to take place on the very cusp of their extinction?
      • The show makes it pretty obvious that the dinosaurs were going to wipe themselves out due to their ignorance and negligence of the environment. The shock came from the fact that nobody thought the show would actually have the balls to show it.
  • Foreshadowing: In the first episode, Robbie notes that Pangea's dating system goes in reverse, and wonders what they're supposed to be counting down to.
  • Free the Frogs - When Robbie's class are called on to dissect cavepeople, Robbie smuggles his out of the class, takes it home as a pet, and eventually releases it into the wild.
  • Frying Pan of Doom - The Baby's weapon of choice.
  • Full Name Ultimatum - "Earl Snead Sinclair!"
  • Fun with Acronyms: The most obvious being the Antediluvian Broadcasting Company. There's also We Are Right and We Are Rong.
  • Fun with Flushing: The Very Special Episode where baby learned to use the toilet had some of this.
  • Fur and Loathing - The episode "Slave to Fashion".
  • Furry Confusion - Taken to its logical conclusion. If the animals are stand-ins for humans, wouldn't it make sense for the humans to stand-in for animals?
    • Well in one episode it shows that the "new two rare cavemen" have been added to a zoo in the hopes that they'll breed (mirroring the Chinese panda) the newsman said as much as "We can't get them to breed, which means one is sterile." though it's actually two men who are trapped in the cage.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar - Several times.
    • One of the greatest example is in "The Howling" when Ethel informs us that male dinosaurs tend to get cranky around the time of a full moon because of Pre-Howling Syndrome... PHS.

Charlene: I'm so happy I'm a girl.

    • The News Anchorsaur Howard Handupme.
      • Are you sure his name isn't Howard Handupme because, I don't know, he's a puppet?
    • The mating dance, anyone? There's also a mating dance instructor Earl visits called "Mel Luster".
    • And, of course, "Sexual" Harris, the subject of the episode "What Sexual Harris Meant".
    • After Charlene, Earl, and Roy perform at the war in "Nuts to War: Part 2", Charlene says "I was born to give pleasure to whole groups of boys!".
  • Gilligan Cut - Lots and lots of times with Earl.
  • Glamorous Wartime Singer - When the dinosaurs went to war over pistachios, Charlene, Earl, and Roy (all in dresses) performed for the soldiers, as it was the only way to get to the front lines and bring Robbie home.
  • Green Aesop - The above-mentioned environmental crisis, and many earlier episodes.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal - Most of the males wear everything but pants.
    • Lampshaded in the "smoo" episode, when censorship goes amuck, Earl shows that, as part of the push for censorship, the pants that he suddenly is forced to wear, to Fran's horror.
    • It's not just the men. Fran and Charlene might wear a dress if they were going to sleep, otherwise the female characters all are pantsless.
  • Improbable Species Compatibility - Earl is a megalosaurus. Fran is, according to Word of God, an Allosaur. What their children are is anyone's guess.
    • On the behind the scenes feature for the DVD, the creators admit that the kids' designs aren't based on any real dinosaurs and are pretty much made up.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters - Or rather, animals who act like humans are bastards.
  • Impossible Insurance: In one episode, the Sinclair's house (and TV) gets struck by a falling meteor. Earl actually had bought meteor insurance but is denied coverage since he's only covered for meteors and once a meteor passes through the atmosphere it becomes a meteorite. When the insurance company employee told Earl he'd only get coverage if his house had been floating in space when the meteor hit the TV, Earl claimed it was and that the neighbors would confirm it.
  • Image Song: The irritatingly catchy "I'm The Baby" is the best known because it had a music video that aired after an episode, but there was actually a full album of these. Even the food in the Sinclairs' refrigerator got its own song.
  • Informed Obscenity - In one episode, a great controversy erupted over the word "smoo".
    • And thanks the the publicity, the same channel then started showing "The Flark Show"
  • Innocent Swearing: Baby learns one such word, "smoo". (In the dinosaur lingo, this is a dirty word because it describes debris that accumulates on the sole of a dinosaur's foot.)
  • It Came From the Fridge: And they even help you get hard-to-find items, too!
  • Ironic Echo - At the very end of the first episode, Earl tells Baby while standing at the window that he and his brother and sister were born dinosaurs, "and dinosaurs rule the world... and we're gonna rule the world forever." In the final episode, he admits to Baby that he's screwed up the world to the point where there isn't much of a world left for his children. He also says desperately, "And hey, I'm sure it will all turn out OK. After all, dinosaurs have been on this earth for 150 million years. It's not like we're going to just... disappear." One of the final scenes is Earl at the same window, watching the encroaching Ice Age that will doom the dinosaurs.
  • Judgment of Solomon: In one episode where the baby was believed to have gotten switched with a green clone of himself from another family, he was literally cut in half and then put together in a weird cross between this trope and Vegas-style stage magic.
  • Kent Brockman News: Howard Handupme of DNN News.
  • Kill the Poor:
    • When the bipeds declared war against 4-Leggers, the biped President announced the young and the poor would be drafted.
    • In a debate on whether rich people should eat poor people, the proposition's supporters claimed being food was the only thing poor people were useful for and those opposed claimed the poor could contaminate whoever ate them.
  • Knight Templar Parent: Richfield. He's eaten every ex-boyfriend his daughter has dated after they broke her heart. Naturally, this raises problems for the Sinclair family once Robbie starts dating her.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: During the "Sexual" Harris Hearings on TV, Monica gets called a prostitute by one of the workers. Ethyl complains about the language used on TV these days and how it's bad for kids. Fran argues that it makes them think, with Ethyl saying that she doesn't want kids to think, and instead would rather have them watch "safe little situational comedies with time-tested repetitive storylines".

"You might think that because they're puppets, the show seems to have a children's aesthetic. (Aside Glance) Yet the dialogue is unquestionable sharp-edged, witty, and thematically skewed to adults."

  • Let's Meet the Meat - The furry little mammals often stored and used as food. They may not be entirely happy about their ultimate fate, but oftentimes treat being eaten as a matter of course, and go along with it dutifully.
  • Limited Wardrobe
  • Literal Genie - The house gets hit by a meteorite. Earl says it's okay, since they have meteor insurance. Guess what the insurance guy says?
  • MacGuffin - Parodied. (Of course.) In the episode "Scent of a Reptile", Charlene gets her "scent", which will attract one male dinosaur, who will be her mate for life. Because her destined mate is a slobbish janitor, her grandmother tells her the only way to change her scent is with a very rare flower found on the other side of the world - the MacGuffin Lily.
  • Meaningful Name: The episode "Family Challenge" had the Sinclairs competing on a game show against the Nielson family, who have an extensive knowledge of television.
  • Mega Corp: The Wesayso Corporation.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Parodied with "Captain Action Figure", which blatantly plugs its toys in the show, causing impressionable viewers like Baby to demand it.
  • Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds - Earl in the last episode.
  • Mood Whiplash: The final episode.
  • My Friends and Zoidberg - "Hello family! ... And Ethyl."
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Earl as he was made VP of communications to help clear up the vines that were plaguing the dinosaurs (due to WESAYSO building a wax factory over the bugs that ate them and kept them at bay). Robbie and Charlene both tried to get him to use alternate, less damaging methods but he wouldn't listen and when came time for the final volcano exploding plan. When he had the opportunity to object it and save his species, he caved. In the end, the plan formed a new Ice Age which will no doubt kill off the dinosaur civilization.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Ethyl to Earl.
  • Only Six Faces - Because of how elaborate and complex the (remote-operated) faces were, expect to see the same few used for the one-shot, unnamed, and background dinosaur characters.
  • Out of Order: Even though Charlene grew a bigger tail in "Charlene's Tale", certain episodes filmed prior showing her shorter tail such as "Employee of the Month" and "Unmarried... With Children" aired after it. There's also the seven episodes filmed prior to the series finale that were shown afterwards when the show moved to syndication.
  • Parental Bonus - As with every other Trope, hilariously lampshaded.
    • Complete with Aside Glance directly at the camera.
    • Also done in a Take That to Scientology, where "Dino-Netics" is advertised on TV.
  • People in Rubber Suits - Sorry if this shocking revelation has just shattered anyone's illusions here. No Virginia, there is no Sinclair family. This is also mixed with hand-operated puppets.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero - Earl is a Licensed Sexist, much like his co-workers at Wesayso.
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud- "And let me conclude by saying Foreman Harris is a great guy. Monica's been a troublemaker as long as I've known her and I'm pretty sure she cheats on her taxes. Stop here, look up, smile."
  • Refuge in Vulgarity

Baby: "I just had a big poop!"

  • Rule of Funny - The only reason dinosaurs are involved at all.
  • Running Gag - Several.
  • Self-Deprecation: One episode where Earl was a TV executive had him see a pilot episode of Dr. Kirk Marcus, M.D. which featured a minor character called "Baby Cuddlebunny", who is essentially a parody of Baby Sinclair himself. Earl liked him and demanded that he be the doctor, changing the name to Baby Cuddlebunny, M.D.. He later spouts his catch phrase ("Not the pajamas!"), wears T-shirts of his likeness, and the execs even make a talking pullstring doll (similar to the real doll made of Baby Sinclair).
  • Show Within a Show - Several, most notably Mr. Lizard ("We're going to need another Timmy!").
  • Shout-Out - the Sinclair family's name comes from the Sinclair gas station, which has a green dinosaur for a mascot. Earl is name after Earl Holding, the company's owner. Earl also wears a shirt of the Sinclair clan's tartan.
    • Earl's boss, B.P. Richfield, is named after both British Petroleum (BP) and the Richfield Oil Company (which coincidentally absorbed the Sinclair chain in the late 1960s, and both companies were later absorbed by BP many years later!).
    • In "Charlene's Flat World", after being convicted of heresy for thinking the Earth wasn't flat, Charlene requests her sentence be death by being thrown off the earth. She and Robbie return from the other side...80 days later.
    • Robbie has a poster in his room of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Cavemen. Also a bit of Fridge Brilliance in that Jim Henson's Creature Shop, who designed the costumes and puppets for Dinosaurs, also designed the Ninja Turtles in the live-action films.
  • Soap Punishment: Used when Baby learns rude words off the television. When Fran washes his mouth out, every time a bubble from his mouth pops it echoes the word.
  • Spikes of Villainy: B.P. Richfield has a lot of horns on his frill.
  • Strawman Political - In the election episode, Earl's already-strawmanned evil big-business boss became a Republican-expy strawman, who among other things described trickle-down economics as stuffing the pockets of rich people so full of money that the change would fall out and roll downhill to poor people.
  • Strong Family Resemblance
  • Sudden Downer Ending - Earl accidentally brings about the extinction of the dinosaurs.
  • Switched At Birth: There's an episode literally called this trope where the Sinclair family finds out that Baby's egg got switched with the egg of the Molehill family.
  • Take That: See Leaning on the Fourth Wall towards those who complain about the show itself being "bad for kids".
  • Terra Deforming: In the last episode, Earl ends up destroying all plant life on the planet to get rid of these vines that were growing everywhere as a result of the bugs that would normally eat them having gone extinct (Wesayso built a wax fruit factory on their breeding grounds, thus killing all the bugs).
  • That Old Time Prescription: Baby gets seriously ill and the family spends lots of money on fancy new medicines. When those fail, they go to a healer who lives in the woods, who cures the baby with moldy bread.
  • Theme Naming - The names of the main characters are based on oil and/or gas companies (Sinclair, Roy Hess, Ethyl Phillips, B.P. Richfield). Petroleum is a fossil fuel. Since dinosaurs are the best-known fossil animals, they have become associated with oil.
    • Earl also sounds like "oil".
  • They Killed Kenny - "We're gonna need another Timmy!"
  • Tinkle in the Eye - Subverted; Baby Sinclair used a squirt gun.
  • Too Dumb to Live - Each and every Timmy. Well, maybe not at first, when the experiments weren't as obviously deadly, but after how many Timmies bit the dust, and after Mr. Lizard started hiding behind lead shielding before Timmy did what he did, this was clearly in effect.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Earl and Fran suffered so much from their experiences with their two oldest kids while they are two, that they had blocked out the entire year.
  • Tyrannosaurus Rex - Roy.
  • Very Special Episode - Spoofed in an early episode, then played straight with nearly every other episode.
    • The particular episode which spoofed this was "A New Leaf" where the "happy plant" is like a drug. At the end of the episode, Robbie implores the viewing audience to not do drugs so that an end can be put to "preachy [TV] sitcom endings".
  • Wasn't That Fun?: Turned into a Running Gag. Whenever Baby endured any kind of physical punishment, ranging from being hit to being thrown across the room, and one time, even falling out of a tree, one of the first words out of his mouth was an enthusiastic, "Again!"
  • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: In the episode where Earl becomes a TV executive and creates programming that makes most of Pangaea's population stupid, the cameraman in the newsroom fails to focus on Howard Handupme's anchoring, bringing up a "PLEEZE STAND BIE" card.
  • When I Was Your Age

Earl: "When I was your age we didn't have lawn mowers, we didn't have scissors, we had to get down on all fours and graze like a cow."