The Adventures of Pete and Pete

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Ellen: Nickelodeon presents The Adventures of Pete & Pete! Starring Pete, Pete's brother Pete, and me--Ellen--as Pete's girlfriend--
Older Pete: Look, you're a girl, and you're a friend...but you're not a girlfriend!


Older Pete: This is [person/place/thing]. And this is [something associated with it].

Left to right: Pete Wrigley, Pete Wrigley.

The Adventures of Pete & Pete was one of several sitcoms aired by Nickelodeon during the early 1990s, about two brothers and their oddball family/neighborhood/school/world in the town of Wellsville. Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi, two members of Nickelodeon's marketing department, created the series in 1988 as shorts meant to advertise Nickelodeon in a more roundabout way. The commercials took off, leading to half-hour specials being produced (five from 1991 to 1993), and eventually a full-series order with a three-season run. The plug was pulled in 1996.

The two titular brothers are named Pete Wrigley for reasons that are never explained within the series proper;[1] co-creator Will McRobb once noted that, should you feel the need to ask, you're probably watching the wrong show. This is, after all, the same show where underpants inspectors are guardian angels, a metal detector can find an entire car (still in good condition) buried at the beach, you can run to the Canadian border in four hours (or use a riding mower), and a mentally challenged man who speaks incoherent sentences and runs around in spandex pajamas is the personal superhero of the younger Pete Wrigley. Why two brothers have the same name should be the least of your issues.

The series was fairly successful on Nick when it aired, alongside other live-action shows such as Salute Your Shorts and Clarissa Explains It All. The first two seasons were also released to DVD as part of Nickelodeon's "Rewind" series, which showcased shows from that era. Pete and Pete in particular was also a hit with college-aged young adults—a demographic that Nick wouldn't attract again in such large numbers until Invader Zim in 2001—who enjoyed its quirkiness. Additionally, by being shot on location and eschewing a laugh track, it pioneered a format that became the preferred one for sitcoms by the time the 2000's came around.

This is The Adventures of Pete and Pete. And this is its recap page.

Hey, look! A character sheet! Pipe!

Tropes used in The Adventures of Pete and Pete include:
  • Acme Products: Everything from the Kreb* corporation.
  • Adult Child: A very rare case of a "good" adult child was Artie, who was the local super-hero, best friend to all children and a positive (yet very weird) role model to anyone who actually listened to him.
  • Adults Are Useless. Indeed, even the International Adult Conspiracy itself does little but gossip and moan over the phone.
    • Not all adults are useless though, some are quite wise and insightful like Mr. Slurm the shop teacher and the Janitor at Pete's school.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The metal plate grafted to Mrs. Wrigley's skull.
  • Beach Bury: Sort of, in a typically surreal and hilarious manner. The Wrigleys take a trip to the beach, and using his metal detector, Don finds a car buried in the sand. Then the family digs it out and drives home in it.
    • This is also the way that Dad finds Mom at the beach for the first time.
  • Berserk Button: In "Yellow Fever", Bus Driver Stu Benedict's is his and his ex-girlfriend's song - "If You're Happy and You Know It".
  • Bigger on the Inside: Another source of the show's quirky humor. Artie's residence looks like a normal Port-A-Potty, but apparently it's big enough to host a dinner party with a lot of people...?
    • Artie is a Time Lord? That actually makes a lot of sense.
  • Big Bad: Oh god, Endless Mike...
  • Big Damn Heroes: Little Pete saving Big Pete from the Pumpkin Eters in "Halloweenie".
  • The Cameo: One of the great joys of the show was the plethora of guest stars such as Steve Buscemi, Janeane Garafolo, Adam West, LL Cool J, and Bebe Neuwirth.
    • The show was also crawling with cameos from alternative rock musicians including Iggy Pop (who had a recurring role as Nona's dad pop), Kate Pierson of the B-52's, Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes, Marshall Crenshaw, Syd Straw, Michael Stipe of R.E.M., David Johansen of the New York Dolls, the rock band Luscious Jackson and Richard Edson (the original drummer for Sonic Youth)
  • Canada, Eh?: In "Grounded for Life", Little Pete attempts to run away from home by riding a riding mower to Canada. A mountie catches him at the border, hitches the mower to the back of his horse and drags him home that way.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin'
  • Catch Phrase: "I am Artie! The strongest the world!"
    • "International Adult Conspiracy"
    • "What, you didn't know that?"
    • "This is [person]. And this is [person's possession]."
  • Character as Himself: Mom's Plate, the metal plate in Ms. Wrigley's head; Petunia, Little Pete's tattoo.
  • Charlie Brown From Outta Town: Mr. Bear (Big Pete in disguise)
  • Cloudcuckooland: Wellsville, though the outside world doesn't seem any saner.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Downplayed—a group of boys trying to force Little Pete to reveal a secret take out black markers and draw all over Petunia.
  • Drive-In Theater: Used as a setting when older Pete and Ellen go on a date.
  • Darkest Hour:The Second part of "Farwell My Little Viking.". John Mcflemp is purging Artie's memory, has turned Artie into just another white collar guy in a suit, and Little Pete, who's normally The Determinator, is on the verge of giving up. But then Pete's dad has a Heel Realization and heads to find Artie, who goes back to his old ways while Little Pete stands up to Papercut on his own.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: Little Pete's "Petunia", a lounging woman in a Spanish-style dress; subverted in that Mrs. Wrigley is embarrassed by it.
  • Enemy Mine: In "Last Laugh", Pit Stain and Little Pete team up against Schwinger.
  • Escalating War Ellen's father and the Petes' father got into a huge prank war in the episode "Apocalypse Pete".
  • Five-Man Band:
The Hero - Little Pete
The Lancer - Clem
The Smart Guy - Monica
The Big Guy - Artie
The Chick - Nona
Sixth Ranger - Wayne, though he was also The Chick
  • Fleeting Passionate Hobbies: Basically Ellen's defining character trait.
  • Foot Focus: Happens in an episode in which Big Pete is trying to date Ellen. He calls her on the phone while she's barefoot and asks her random questions and asks her "try writing something with your foot." She holds the pencil with her toes and does just that, in close-up.
  • Funny Background Event: You can see Bus Driver Stu beating the crap straw out of a scarecrow through the bus window while Mike is talking Big Pete into pranking Bill on the bus in "Yellow Fever".
  • Garden Hose Squirt Surprise
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Several examples, most notably Endless Mike's dating advice in "Time Tunnel": "No fog, no fun!"

Dad (to Little Pete): Pete, we need to have a talk, as father to son.
Little Pete: Oh, don't worry, dad. Artie already had that talk with me.
*Mom faints*

    • And again in "Field of Pete":

Little Pete (pointing to a chart which the camera is behind and therefore the viewer cannot see): And that, my friend, is how you turn a colt into a gelding.

    • This quote from "Yellow Fever", where the bus has pulled over for its passengers to pee:

Della: It's hard for me to go with everyone thinking about me!
Bus Driver Stu: Nobody think about Della! {to random student} You! You're thinking about her. You disgust me!

The Kirk - Little Pete
The Spock - Monica
The McCoy - Nona
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Tons of recognizable cameos, including Iggy Pop, Steve Buscemi, Bebe Neuwirth and Chris Elliot.
  • I Uh You Too: Big Pete cannot spit it out to Ellen ("I...I"), to which Ellen responds "It's OK, I know" and smooches him in the middle of a packed high school stadium.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: The theme song, "Hey Sandy", is made of this, the most commonly misinterpreted lyric was "Don't you talk back" as "Does your dog bite?". The lyrics have since been published, except for the third line, which according to the DVD commentary will remain a mystery but according to the DVD subtitles is "Can you settle to shoot me?".
  • Interactive Narrator: Big Pete, who tells the story after the fact. Early on, the show was supposed to mimic the sort of long, rambling stories small children have a tendency to tell, but this angle on the narration was dropped during the series proper when Big Pete became too old for this to work.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Season 3's been on it's way since 2006. Don't hold your breath. (See Screwed by the Network below.)
  • Large Ham: Every guest star. And Artie, of course.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The main theme, "Hey Sandy," is a peppy alt-rock song that is widely rumored to be about the Kent State Massacre. (Naturally, however, it was a chore to get even most of the lyrics clarified—finding out the meaning is all but a lost cause. See Indecipherable Lyrics above.)
    • Little Pete's favorite song from one episode is "Summerbaby" (performed by Polaris, who also did the opening theme) which includes lines like "When I'm alone I do things nobody knows" and "Every drop of sex and every little mess I make".
      • Though the version sung in the episode was altered to "Every time I guess and every little mess I make".
  • Meaningful Name: Many of the bullies, such as Open Face (who loved his open-faced sammiches) and Papercut (who had an obsession with dealing out...well, paper cuts - and he always threw Paper during Rock-Paper-Scissors).
  • Metaphorgotten: "The Day Of The Dot"
  • Mundane Fantastic: Spandex-clad superheros, radio signals being picked up by skull plates, sound-proof burp chambers, black-market expired pudding and underwear-inspecting guardian angels are amongst the many bizarre and improbable things no one bats an eye at. Hell, the Wrigleys ones found a fully-functioning car under a beach with a metal detector and drove it home. Perfectly normal.
  • Noodle Incident: Little Pete has the ability to find out about these and unnerve people by making passing mention of them.
    • Little Pete has these too. He had a hand in causing a lake to dry and partly responsible for the collapse of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
    • And no one knows for certain how he got the tattoo...
  • Orphaned Punchline: We don't hear Bill's entire joke that causes Teddy to explode milk from his nose, other than the punchline of "So I'll put it OVER HERE!"
  • Parent Trap Plot: "Apocalypse Pete" to the extreme.
  • Pig Latin: "Ikay ankay ountkay onyay ooyay."
  • Planet Eris: As much as they could in a live-action show. I mean, the school's mascot was a squid in a bucket, Little Pete once caused an explosion by placing a humidifier and a dehumidifier next to each other, Big Pete was once visited by a space alien that was a fan of Johnny Unitas, and that's not even getting into Artie...
    • Let's not forget Rolling Thunder, a magical bowling ball with Power For Good... and Powers For Evil...
  • Platonic Life Partners: Played straight and with. By the writers' own admission on the DVD Commentary, they were unfamiliar with character arcs, so every episode was written enitrely self-contained, meaning Pete and Ellen's friendship was sometimes bent to fit the plot at hand. Most episodes played the trope straight, but several have one pining for the other, most notably "Day of the Dot", "The Big Quiet", "Time Tunnel", and "Crisis in the Love Zone". See also Relationship Reset Button below.
  • The Power of Rock: Younger Pete, in an attempt to fish out an Ear Worm, starts up a band and experiments with various chords, one of which has a disruptive effect on Artie.
  • Production Posse: Showrunners McRobb and Viscardi would cast Damian Young (Bus Driver Stu) in their Too Good to Last show The War Next Door, as well as the film Snow Day (which was proposed as a Pete & Pete movie.) Bob Mittenthal, who wrote a couple of episodes, would also go on to co-create KaBlam! with McRobb and Viscardi. By a startling coincidence, Rick Gomez (Endless Mike) was cast on another McRobb-Viscardi show -- KaBlam!—without any of the three knowing until production started.
    • Also, surprisingly, Scrubs. Several longtime members of Pete & Pete's production crew ended up working on the show, including P&P's director of photography Michael Spillman, who would direct over a dozen Scrubs episodes. The actor who played Teddy on P&P also had a couple of bit roles sprinkled throughout and when you consider how much of the show's style is eerily reminiscent of P&P (first-person narration with ending realization, absurdist humor and characters emphasis on music, etc.), it's almost an adult Spiritual Successor.
  • Put on a Bus: Poor, poor Artie. (In retrospect, all Toby Huss can remember of his reasons for leaving is that he did it "of his own accord", according to his commentary on the DVD.)
    • Perhaps lampshaded, as Little Pete thereafter kept regular company with Bus Driver Stu.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: There actually are a few, Mr. Slurm comes to mind, in fact the Aesop of the episode he's featured in is about Pete overcoming his prejudices about him and shop class in general.
  • Relationship Reset Button: Whether Pete & Ellen were friends or toying with being more than was irrelevant by the next episode. They had a series-finale-quality kiss in front of a high-school-stadium audience in episode 2, and nothing ever really came of it. By the writers' own admission on the commentary, "I think we just forgot about it."
  • Rock-Paper-Scissors: Papercut, who always threw paper.
  • Running Gag: "Sally left me. Again. Over nothing!"
  • Screwed by the Network: More specifically, by the parent company of the network. When Viacom shifted around some key executives at Nickelodeon, it eventually resulted in several "Rewind" DVD releases being postponed and eventually cancelled, leaving the third and final season unavailable on DVD (at least in the US).
  • Serious Business: "I created Orange Lazarus... for world peace..."
    • That, and just about everything else on the show - family trips, the school marching band, bedtimes, shop class, bowling balls, school tests, dodgeball, favorite songs, baseball, awkward silence, Daylight Saving Time, Halloween, underwear inspecting, fishing, field trips, good-luck charms, pool piss, pool hierarchy, spring fever, Varsity sports...and this troper may have forgotten a few.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: See the page quote.
    • They tried going on a date once, in the episode "Time Tunnel", but in true sitcom style, it was a disaster.
      • The night still ended well for them (by TV-Y standards anyway)
  • Ship Tease: Going hand-in-hand with the above trope. 2/3rds of the show played Pete and Ellen straight as Platonic Life Partners. The other third falls hard in this.
  • Skyward Scream: After Endless Mike has taken out the last of the wrestlers in Big Pete's weight class (who Little Pete was guarding):


  • Stock Footage: They only seem to have two X-rays of the plate in Mom's head...
  • Surreal Humour
  • Tranquillizer Dart: Subverted in the Christmas Episode; Little Pete shoots the Garbage Man with a tranq (actually hitting a major vein!), and it takes a couple minutes of real-time to start taking effect.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Even with no real current events or issues of the time being mentioned, the blatantly 90s fashions and soundtracks make the time period very obvious.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: The shorts, specials and "Day of the Dot" present Ellen as pining after Big Pete, with him having to remind her that she's "a girl, and a friend, but not my girlfriend." Season two episodes like "Yellow Fever" and "Time Tunnel" turn this around—Big Pete is starting to wonder if he has feelings for Ellen, but she no longer reciprocates.
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: Young Pete spends an entire episode daydreaming about and saving up for a jetpack sold in the back of a comic book. The jetpack turns out to be a leafblower.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome??: Wayne's new shoes.
  • What Might Have Been: Snow Day was originally supposed to be a Pete & Pete movie, but due to the script being shelved for 8 years after it was written, the show had already ended, and the actors were too old to do the roles by the time shooting began.
    • Another version of events was that the script was pitched as the series ended, and Nick figured the show would be forgotten by the time production wrapped up on the film so they asked for rewrites. Nevertheless, watching the film it's quite easy to figure out who was supposed to be each Pete character.
  • WHAT Series
  • Wondrous Ladies' Room: In the episode "All-nighter", Pete (the younger) and two of his friends (Wayne and Monica) end up locked in the school overnight by accident. Naturally, hijinks ensue as all three take the opportunity to do all the things they would otherwise never be allowed to do on school grounds. Monica decides to go and check out the BOYS room, since she has never been inside one in her life, apparently. Upon entering she is utterly astounded by the presence of urinals and completely baffled as to their purpose. The two boys (who happened to be in the exact same bathroom for some reason) decide to have some fun by telling her the urinal is "a foot washer".
  • World's Strongest Man: "Artie - the strongest man *Dramatic Pause* in the world!"
  1. the shorts mention their mom wanted their names to rhyme