The Beatles (animation)

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From left to right: John Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Paul McCartney. Just in case...

"Yeah yeah yeah!"


A cartoon series that ran from 1965 to 1969 following the wacky hijinks of The Beatles. Notable for being the first cartoon about actual people made for television.

The series followed a Two Shorts Format, with each short separated by two singalong segments. The singalongs would always start with either John Lennon, Paul McCartney or George Harrison trying to introduce the song and encourage the viewers to sing along, and Ringo Starr interrupting to try and "set up the proper mood" with props.

Although the series was a colossal success when it debuted, it faded quickly as the Beatles themselves evolved their music and personalities. Eventually, the show was quietly scooted out of the way to make room for Jonny Quest, as ABC's Saturday Morning lineup was being dominated by action/adventure shows at the time, while the cartoon was getting more surreal.

Produced by Al Brodax (who would later go on to produce Cool McCool and Yellow Submarine) for King Features, who produced a number of other cartoon series based on its own popular comic strips. Notable in that making the show was literally a world-wide effort, and an early example of farming out animation overseas to save money. A majority of the production was done in England, but episodes were also farmed out to studios in Australia, Canada, and Holland. This lends the show a bit of discontinuity when it comes to animation style; the Australian episodes are particularly prone to poor quality because Australia had a limited animation industry before the show arrived there and therefore fewer experienced professionals to draw from.

Many of the same people from the English studio who worked on the cartoon, as well as the American producers, went on to work on Yellow Submarine (including Lance Percival as Old Fred), one of the many reasons why the Beatles initially wanted nothing to do with the film.

YMMV page here.

Tropes used in The Beatles (animation) include:

John: "What a dream I just had!"
Ringo: "We know, we were there."

  • Animals Not to Scale - "I'll Get You" features the Beatles riding one tiny elephant.
  • Annoying Laugh - 'Uhuhuhuh Yeah'
  • Band Toon - The Trope Maker.
  • The Beatles - Obviously.
  • Beautiful All Along - The receptionist in "Thank You Girl".
  • Big Friendly Dog - Gunther from "Gib Mir Deine Hand".
  • Body Snatcher - In "I'm Looking Through You", Ringo's body is stolen by the ghost of an Egyptian pharaoh.
  • Bowdlerise - Certain episodes of the show never aired when the show was re-run on the Disney Channel in the 1980's, likely thanks to Values Dissonance, though a few of the, dated ones did make it through.
    • One of the sing-along intros was also edited, the one where George tells Ringo the song goes "like gangbusters" and Ringo returns with a machine gun to shoot up the stage; the edited version has George come out and say it's time for the sing-along, and then goes straight into the first song. This edit was probably due to Disney's heavy anti-violence status.
  • Boxing Kangaroo - John receives a black eye from one of these in a singalong intro.
  • Butt Monkey - Ringo.
  • Captain Obvious - The third opening constantly reminds us who the stars of the show are.
  • Celebrity Toons - Also the Trope Maker.
  • Cluster F-Bomb - John Lennon's opinion of the show before The Seventies.
  • Covered in Kisses - Paul (sans lipstick) in "Eight Days a Week".
  • Department of Redundancy Department - Paul would like you to know that Hollywood is fake and phony. And Robin Hood? He never happened.
  • Depending on the Writer - The quality of the writing, characterization and animation varies wildly from episode to episode.
  • Did Not Do the Research - Actually, going by the model sheets and the way Yellow Submarine turned out, they actually did do the research, something just got lost during production.
  • Disguised in Drag - George, in "What You're Doing", to get Ringo out of a Gypsy wedding. It backfires spectacularly.
  • Distress Ball
  • Damsel in Distress - Subverted. A woman in "Any Time at All" claims to be one of these but it turns out that she's an expert jewel thief.
  • The Door Slams You - "She Loves You".
  • Downer Ending - Some of the episodes end with injuries. And the first episode ends with them fainting at the sight of spooks.
  • Edutainment Show - Oddly enough. The show was actually praised by educators for helping teach kids to read via the Sing-Along segments.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending - All. The. Time.
  • Evil Laugh - John (Truth in Television, depending on whom you ask) at the end of "It Won't Be Long".
  • Executive Meddling - The Bat-Woman from "Baby's In Black" originally had a lot more...curves, but the higher-ups saw the pencil test and thought that that was a bit much for a kids' show, so the animators had to redraw her.
    • The knife-thrower in "She Loves You" used more conventional kitchen knives originally; the animators were asked to make the knives more fantastical so kids wouldn't be encouraged to try knife throwing at home.
  • The Faceless - Brian Epstein.
  • Facial Profiling - Their trips to Japan. Just...their trips to Japan.
    • Most of the Japan episodes were made by Australians, who at the time were none too fond of the Japanese because of what was done to them in World War II.
  • Fake Brit - Paul Frees as John and George.
  • Follow the Bouncing Ball - Averted.
  • Four-Fingered Hands - Much of the time, the characters have four fingers, but they often have five, and on one occasion, even six fingers.
  • Frogs and Toads - Ringo's pet frog Bartholomew.
  • The Ghost - The prop man during the Sing-Alongs.
  • Groupie Brigade
  • Hammerspace -Ringo's props in season 3.
  • Hiccup Hijinks - The Beatles employ these on Ringo when he...loses his voice.
  • Hilarity Ensues
  • Hurricane of Incredibly Lame Puns - One of the things that carried over to Yellow Submarine.
  • Institutional Apparel - A made-up looking variety from "Paperback Writer" that kind of look like pajamas.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man - John in "It Won't Be Long". The others think he's "some kind of new Beatles doll" and proceed to fight over him.
  • It Makes Just As Much Sense in Context
  • Jerkass - The Beatles' general reaction to seeing a friend in a potentially life threatening situation is to sing a song (or worse, stand back and laugh) and wait for the situation to resolve itself. The worst case of this occurs in "I'll Cry Instead". Through a series of coincidences, a black belt in training confuses George for a professional martial artist. Instead of easily clearing this up, the other Beatles force him to fight, even though George's hand is swollen from signing too many autographs.
    • Brian, despite only being onscreen once, gets in on the action, too. In one episode, he thinks the boys are getting too fat and decides the best solution is to lock them in their hotel room with no food.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes - Chances of this ever getting an official DVD release are slim to none.
  • Knife Outline - "She Loves You".
  • Limited Animation - Most of the Beatles' musical performances during the cartoons use the same shots over and over, and not just within the same cartoon. There seem to be several standard shots used in almost every episode (i.e. Paul, George, and John lined up with their guitars, Ringo shaking his head while drumming). It was pretty rare for an episode to have any outright new footage of the Beatles playing unless circumstances dictated otherwise during the song, such as if they were singing in a vehicle or performing while running from danger.
  • Limited Wardrobe - The Beatles were depicted in their Fab Four era matching outfits and hairstyles even after the Beatles no longer looked like that. This may be why the openings remind you who's supposed to be who.
  • Master of Disguise - Anyface from "No Reply".
  • Marie Antoinette - Ringo dreams he's having an affair with her in "Run For Your Life".
  • Mirror-Cracking Ugly - Ringo
  • Misblamed - Ringo Starr wasn't happy with his portrayal in the show and complained to Lance Percival. Lance kindly explained that he just did the voices and pointed Ringo in the direction of the writers.
  • Monumental Damage - The Beatles go to rehearse in the Coliseum and cause it to fall apart.
  • Normal Skinned Space Babe - One of these tries to "save the universe from The Beatles" by stranding them on a random planet in "Day Tripper".
  • No Swastikas - The Iron Cross option was used in "Paperback Writer", when John Lennon was fighting the Nazis.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent - Not with a Liverpudlian one, at least. The creators decided to use a generic British accent so the viewers could understand them more easily.
    • Lance Percival has said in interviews he gave Ringo a hint of a Birmingham accent.
    • For some reason Paul Frees plays George with a...completely indescribable accent. The closest one can come is that it's a bad Peter Lorre impression by way of Asia and Ireland.
  • Not Quite Starring
  • Off-Model - They're hardly ever on model. Paul is often the worst offender.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping - John, quite often. And George is a bizarre mix of Asian-Irish-Boo Berry.
  • Opposite Gender Clone - Each Beatle gets one in "I've Just Seen a Face". Notably, Paul is the most convincing and...vamp-y.
  • Parental Bonus - "I'm Down":

George: "I'll take care of the grapes." [grabs three French women]
Paul: "I don't think they're quite ripe yet." [points to a little girl standing nearby]

  • The Power of Rock - Can turn a Deliberately Monochrome orphanage into a psychedelic wonderland!
  • Pungeon Master - Ringo, especially in the singalong intros.
  • Real Song Theme Tune - "Can't Buy Me Love" for season 1, "Help!" for season 2 and "And Your Bird Can Sing" for season 3.
  • The Runt At the End - Ringo. Partial Truth in Television.
  • Shout-Out - "Don't Bother Me" uses the "Ringo sleeping on the wrong end of the bed" gag from Help!, and the second opening is a big shout out to James Bond films.
    • Ooh, and "James Blond" in "Penny Lane"!
      • On a related note, in the "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" episode, the evil competitors in the race are a Generic Archvillain and a very obvious Mook. He's the spitting image of Oddjob from Goldfinger.
    • Their performance in "I'm Down," makes a lot of references to their Shea Stadium performance.
    • The Beatles imagine themselves as The Three Musketeers in "Any Time at All".

"Athos!" "Porthos!" "Aramis!" "And Ringo!"

  • Simpleton Voice - Ringo.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance - The images they put to the songs are relevant to varying degrees.
    • "Eleanor Rigby" might be the worst offender. The second and third verses play but the actual animation completely diverges from the song's downer nature. In the stanza that describes her death and unattended funeral, she is alive and well, and a group of children decide to throw her a party...
      • And another, more literal than usual example from the same short - the boys play their two guitars and a bass when Paul sings the song, but the song itself has no guitars nor bass line.
  • Stock Audio Clip: Always, and for no reason other than to save money and time. It can get pretty awkward hearing Paul say "Rob'n Hood? Heneverhappened." about once a minute in "Taxman."
  • Stock Footage - Often used when the Beatles start playing.
  • Straw Fan - Of course.
  • Super-Deformed - Well, basically.
  • Talking to Himself - Paul and Ringo are voiced by Lance Percival; John and George are voiced by Paul Frees.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song - Employed to varying degrees of success.
  • Too Dumb to Live - Ringo, usually. George, sometimes. The boy can't even read!
    • Why Ringo never sued King Features is completely unknown to us. In comparison to his actual persona, the show's portrayal of him borders on libel.
  • Trope Maker/Ur Example - As mentioned above.
  • Überwald - The Beatles visit Transylvania in one episode.
  • What the Hell, Hero? - When Ringo reveals his hobby is catching "birds" (read: women) and putting them in cages in "Ticket to Ride", this is everyone's general reaction.