Home Movies was an Animated Show that began on UPN, then moved to Adult Swim. The show was a spiritual successor to Dr. Katz, which used the same "SquiggleVision" (at least in the first season), the same "retroscripting" style of dialog, and much of the same cast. The main character was Brendon Small, and the series was created and written by Brendon Small. As you probably already guessed, it's more or less a highly fictionalized autobiography in cartoon format. Brendon is a young aspiring filmmaker, with his cast members usually being his friends Melissa and Jason, and occasionally his mom Paula who moonlights as a creative writing teacher at a local community college (in between firings from same said college). When not at home making films, the show centers around the three kids at school and their interactions with Brendon's homeroom teacher Mr. Lynch and Brendon's soccer coach, John "The Jerk" McGuirk.
This occasionally surrealist, most other times quite hilarious, Slice of Life Sitcom originally aired on UPN during midseason 1999 and was canceled after a limited airing. Adult Swim picked it up when said programming block was just starting, and its popularity there was enough to order a full three more seasons.
- Abhorrent Admirer: Fenton becomes one to Brendon.
- Abuse Is Okay When Its Female On Male: Brendon is trying to stop an older kid from beating him up, and gets him to turn placid and mellowed out. Melissa, who was harboring a crush on the guy, angrily beats up Brendon for changing him.
- Action Girl: Melissa in Brendon's movie about Susan B. Anthony. The B stands for Bitchin.'
- Adult Child: Coach McGuirk.
- The Alleged Car: McGuirk's Firebird.
- Ambiguously Gay: Walter and Perry
Walter: We're hugging and we don't care!
- Anachronism Stew: An in-universe example in their film Starboy. It's clear that Brendan needs to study history better.
- Another one is his Medieval Faire play "King Arthur and Robin Hood".
- "Moylin has a phone! Burn him!"
- Another one is his Medieval Faire play "King Arthur and Robin Hood".
- Arc Words: "It's time to pay the price."
- Art Evolution: The switch from Squigglevision to Flash animation.
- Berserk Button: Brendon hates to be called girls names.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Melissa is the moral center of the group but as seen in "Shore Leave", "Renaissance" and "Curses", she is not one to be crossed.
- Break the Cutie: A lot of fun is had with McGuirk yelling at Melissa to the point of tears. Usually written well enough that these exchanges are more funny than unpleasant.
- Brick Joke: While Brendon and the band were writing music for Starboy, the latter suggested that the Captain of Outer Space be his real brother, but Brendon. Fast forward three episodes later, where the movie actually debuts, and during a conversation between the two space heroes
Captain Of Outer Space: Right you are, my brother. *Beat* My actual brother.
- Catch Phrase: Brendon constantly clears his throat before speaking. Sometimes it's all he says before another character has a line.
- Channel Hop: From UPN to Adult Swim.
- Character Development: Fenton went from being a stereotypical, one-dimensional mean kid to a clueless, lonely Jerkass Woobie.
- Cheerful Child: Brendon's baby sister, Josie Small.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Melissa towards her Dad as she refuses to let him date and when he starts seeing a woman in his poetry writing class (well, making out in the back of a classroom because he doesn't want to stand up to Melissa, but same difference) Melissa's response to smelling this woman on him is to stay at Brendon's and ignore her father's attempts to reconcile until Brendon forges a diary entry for Eric.
- Comic Book Time: The main characters are eight years old for the entire four-year run.
- Control Freak: Brendon due to being a director. At one point Dwanye actually requested him to help make a musical based on Franz Kafka. You think Brendon would be honored by this, especially coming from the guy who does the music for his movies. Nope, Brendon at first dismissive of the whole idea since he didn't write it. He temporarily quits halfway through when he doesn't get his way. And even when done, he trying to convince Dwanye to use a very lame part of a movie he was making for the final cut.
- There's also "Your Cheating Heart" where everyone (Jason, Melissa, Coach Mcguirk, Brendon's Dad, Brendon's golf instructor, and Brendon's mom) tell him that just taking his film and making it run backwards is a bad idea, but he just ignore thems, and "Storm Warning" where Jason and Melissa eventually decide that they would rather make the movie within a movie in the mocukmentary their making. Brendon ends up finishing the film himself.
- Subverted with "Heart Smashers". While Jason and Melissa enjoy the changes to Brendon's film made by Fenton, whose changes involve taking out most of the script (despite the fact Fenton had read the script before taking the role and was permited to make any changes), and constantly puts the film behind schudule. It is only when Brendon turns production over to Melissa and Jason do they realize what Brendon had to deal with.
- Curse Cut Short:
Couch McGuirk: (accidentally broke his pencil) DA-- !!
- Cuteness Proximity: Mr. Lynch, if a cat is nearby. The time Lynch dressed up like a cat for Halloween, his fondness ventured increasingly into genuine oddness, as he began (apparently helplessly) acting more and more like a cat as the episode progressed; one suspects we'd have witnessed extreme creepiness if the show had lasted another five minutes.
- The Danza: All cast and characters except Jason, because Jon Benjamin already plays John McGuirk, with Paula becoming a later exception (her UPN run being voiced by Paula Poundstone, her Adult Swim run being voiced by Janine Ditullo).
- Demoted to Extra: Erik
- Department of Redundancy Department: When Paula tells Brendon to finish his oatmeal, Brendon asks why.
Paula: Well, oatmeal contains... oatmeal.
- Depraved Bisexual: Walter and Perry.
- Disappeared Dad: Brendon's father. In Brendon's Choice, Brendon comes to grips with the fact he never sees his father. However, his father calls after Brendon gets (briefly) mentioned on the news. The episode ends with Brendon picking up the phone after a long hesitation and saying, "Hello". Credits Roll.
- The Dividual: Walter and Perry have nearly identical personalities.
- Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Brendon's attempt at making an educational film telling kids not to put marbles in their nose predictably backfires.
- It backfires to such an epic degree that even Mr. Lynch, Jason and Paula all stick marbles up their nose.
- Downer Ending: See Tear Jerker.
- Early Installment Weirdness / Characterization Marches On: The UPN episodes had McGuirk as an occasional character(Even missing episode 4), Jason being basically a Gross Out Comedy generator, and Brendon as a more average every kid. But the worst of it is Paula, who is voiced by Paula Poundstone who portrays her as a more stereotypical single parent who's always on the phone with her friend, while later episodes establish she has no social life. But all of this changed by the time they got to Adult Swim.
- Fat Bastard: Jason, when he eats to much candy.
- Fix It in Post: Brendon says this often, but as Jason points out, they never fix anything in post. Brendon just uses the term to sound like a director.
- Fun with Acronyms: Paula's boss, Mr. Lindenson, made an alternative to ASAP: ACTASAP ("as close to as soon as possible"). He also made the acronym WSGAFM ("When she gets a free minute").
- Funny Background Event: While Paula and Brendon are talking to the veterinarian, a lot of foam is coming out of the cage where the rabid cat is in.
- Paula and Brendon are talking about fries in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant when a car drives up to the drive-thru window. Then a beam of light appears around the car and the car floats up.
- Garage Band: Duane's garage band [S-something: TV tropes has been having issues with Heavy Metal Umlaut and other accents]. They even do a rock opera based on Franz Kafka.
- Not to mention winning the battling of the bands.
- Hanging Judge: Brendon had been riding his bike on the wrong side of the road, and he was struck by a car, head-on, and then forced to go to court for said riding on the wrong side of the road. The judge showed no sympathy toward Brendon who was on trial over said accident, when Brendon was nearly killed.
- Happy Ending: According to the newspaper in Improving Your Life with Improv, Eddie, a sickly child from season 2, is revealed to have been cured in Season 3.
- Arguably for Brendon too, since the entire show is roughly autobiographical, and Brendon Small grew up to create two ridiculously popular shows as well as appear in many other shows for Adult Swim.
- The Heart: Melissa
- Heel Realization: Brendon is absolutely dumbfounded when he watches his film's dailies in Improving Your Life Through Improv and realizes what a jerk he was being behind the scenes.
HeterosexualLife Partners: Walter and Perry, although an episode where they wanted to see Fenton's naked mom made them come across more as straight, or at least bi.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Archer is Jason and McGuirk.
- Hidden Depths: Shannon is a lot more complex than most schoolyard bullies.
- Hypocritical Humor: Paula tells Brendon not to swear, because it will make his vocabulary "turn to shit". McGuirk takes it a step further, telling Brendon that cursing is a sign of ignorance, just before launching into an expletive-laden tirade at a referee.
- I Don't Like You and You Don't Like Me
- I'll Tell You When I've Had Enough!: Jason with candy.
- Informed Attractiveness: Any character who's called attractive, given the art style.
- Instrumental Theme Tune
- Intergenerational Friendship: McGuirk, despite his unpleasantness does actually consider Brendon to be his friend.
- It's the same with Melissa, depite his occasional Jerkass treatment of her. Though he barely knows Jason.
- Jerkass: McGuirk to a T.
- Fenton Muley, who later ventures into Jerkass Woobie territory.
- Brendon certainly has shades of this a good portion of the time.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: McGuirk Depending on the Writer, but generally he does care for Lynch, Paula, Brendon, Jason and Melissa from time to time.
- Kill'Em All: Subverted in the final episode. After putting together a powerful industrial sized grill, Coach McGuirk tries to get it started by turning the gas up to the point that is blowing at him with the force of an industrial strength fan. As the grill finally ignites, an explosion covers the screen and then fades to black. Then fades back in to everyone who was near the grill in a car with nothing more than a few burn marks. The scene then goes to the events listed under Tear Jerker
- Knock-Knock Joke: Perhaps the most epic knock-knock joke ever, while Linda gives birth to her baby:
Brendon: (shouting angrily) No, you know what?! Knock-knock!
- Large Ham: Brendon tells Jason to be this repeatedly in one of his movies. Jason becomes such a Ham that he yells incoherently & pulls some hair out of his wig.
- Also Brendon when he was faking being sick, and in that same episode, McGuirk when he got liquored up on his date with the school nurse.
- And the Blonde Waitress in Psyco Delicate, as well as Brendon's grandmother.
- Le Film Artistique: Some of Brendon's films try to invoke this.
- Little Professor Dialog
- Long Pants: Everyone.
- Meganekko: Josie
- My Beloved Smother: Paula's Mom, who refuses to let her pay for anything and re-folds her underwear. Really.
- My Eyes Are Up Here: When Melissa has balloons as Gag Boobs playing a starlet, Jason can't help staring.
Melissa: Jason, stop looking at my fake boobs!
- My Name Is Not Durwood: It's Brendon folks. BREEEEENNNNNNNNNNNNN. DOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNN.
- No Indoor Voice: Mr. Lindenson.
- Oh Crap: Lynch utters this when he realizes he left the intercom on in the 4th season premire.
- The Other Darrin: Paula. Played by Paula Poundstone in the first 5 episodes (the ones that aired on UPN). Then, when the show was Uncancelled and put on Cartoon Network, she was played by Janine Ditullio for the remainder of the series.
- Parental Abandonment: Josie's real parents.
- The Pig Pen: Jason.
- Though this was largely downplayed after season 1.
- Pointy-Haired Boss: Mr. Lindenson
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: Improving Your Life Thru Improv.
- And let us not forget, "Curses" where Paula sanitizes Brendon's raunchy sex comedy to an insane degree. Going so far as to telling him not to say 'Dam' even though he's referring to the actual Hoover Dam.
- Pungeon Master: The geography teacher in "Class Trip"
- Put on a Bus: Josie in Season 2 (though she had cameos in that season).
- Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Averted, as much of the voice acting was improvised.
- Scout Out: The Skunk Scouts.
- Signature Style: Season 3 reveals that Brendon ends all of his movies with the words, "it's time to pay the price." Subverted when it turns out that this was unintentional.
- Slice of Life
- Small Name, Big Ego: McGuirk
- Special Guest: One episode has the kids going to a performing arts camp, where their junior counsellors, Michael and Miguel, are voiced by two guys John.
- Mitch Hedberg was in several episodes, too, and helped write the ones he was in because he liked the show so much.
- Stepford Smiler: Melissa. Just watch the finale where she puts her ending to a movie they never finished.
- Stylistic Suck, specifically Bad Bad Acting (in-universe): Justified in that they're kids. Also applies to the show's animation style (see below)
- Squiggle Vision: One of the originals. Noticeably dropped after the first season.
- Take That: The animators' commentaries on the DVD sets called out various users on message boards who criticized the show.
- Talking to Himself:
- Brendon, Duane, and Walter (Brendon Small)
- Jason, McGuirk, and Perry (H. Jon Benjamin)
- Those Two Guys: Walter and Perry, who become increasingly creepy as the series progresses.
- Throw It In: The entire first episode was made up on the spot without any planning.
- Title Drop: Mr. Lynch in "Those Bitches Tried To Cheat Me" drops the episode title when he realizes that Junior, Walter and Perry tried to cheat on their test - using the wrong answers.
- Title-Only Opening: The show has no intro aside from "Home Movies" appearing on the Small's TV screen.
- Two first-season episodes did have a short intro, but it was abandoned in favor of this.
- Title Please
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Melissa in "The Adventures of Cho and Amy Lee" & "Curses".
- Top-Heavy Guy McGuirk. He later becomes obsessed with developing his pectorals. It gets pretty nasty
- And by pretty nasty we mean they deflate and resemble breasts. Ewwwwwwwwww.
- They already resembled breasts somewhat, to the point where Brendon mocked him constantly about it.
- Villain Song: Mr. Pants' theme
- Vocal Evolution: Paula's thick accent gets toned down pretty quickly.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Brendon shoots a Swords and Sorcery epic entitled "Landstander". He's not a wizard, or a warrior, he just stands, on land.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Brendon.