The Berenstain Bears is a long-running children's book series created by Stan and Jan Berenstain in 1962. It centers on a family of bears composed of Mama and Papa Bear, and their children, Brother (formerly Small), Sister, and Honey Bear. Yes, those are their real names. It started out as series of simple picture books in the line of Dr. Seuss, but soon evolved into a series of story picture books for children. Starting in 1993, the Berenstains (that's the authors) began writing Big Chapter Books, which put the characters into more serious situations in much longer (but still kid-oriented) books. The picture books have also taken several formats as well, ranging from small hardcovers written in rhyme, to square picture books. Almost all of the books take the title "The Berenstain Bears and __________"
Note the spelling of the name, by the way. It's a common error.
There were also several animated adaptations over time: Christmas Tree, Meet Bigpaw, Easter Surprise, Valentine Special and Little Leaguer, all of which aired on NBC. A TV series aired on CBS between 1985 and 1986, and a second began in 2003 on PBS Kids. The PBS series was produced by Nelvana.
- Adaptation Expansion: The cartoon adaptations of the storybooks would often add in scenes that weren't in the original stories. For example, the cartoon version of The Truth has Brother and Sister play a bit of soccer outside before they eventually go back inside and break Mama's lamp.
- While the book version of Get the Gimmies simply dealt with the cubs' greed and tantrums, the cartoon inserted a "let's think of others in need" variation that changed the whole moral.
- The cartoon version of The Sitter actually shows Mama & Papa Bear at the community meeting - apparently, their whole reason for going in the first place was because Papa was frustrated with the fact that the gas stations no longer served free coffee & donuts.
- Exclusively Evil: The weasels in the Bear Scouts books and the cartoon are absolutely always evil, with no exceptions.
- An Aesop: Most every book tries to teach a lesson. Some of the Big Chapter ones are particularly hamfisted in doing so (such as No Guns Allowed, where Too-Tall gets busted for using a squirt gun).
- Animated Adaptation: See above.
- Author Tract: There are Christian Berenstain Bear books. This is not a joke.
- Bearfoot Cartoon Animals: Most of the characters in Bear Country. Professor Actual Factual wears spats over his feet while Bigpaw goes au naturale.
- Big Guy: Too-Tall.
- The Boxing Episode: A portion of The Berenstain Bears and the Bully is Brother Bear teaching Sister Bear to box so that she can defend herself from a bully at school. Sister is a natural at it, from what the pictures let us see.
- A Boy, a Girl, and a Baby Family: With the addition of Honey Bear.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: The ending line of the Animated Adaptation's theme:
"You may think that this starts our show / Well, it does!"
- To the tune of John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever," by the way.
- Bumbling Dad: Papa Bear, though he is the voice of reason in Messy Room.
- Canon Immigrant: Raffish Ralph (later renamed Ralph Ripoff) and Weasel McGreed from the 1980s cartoon.
- Catch Phrase: "I don't know if I can stand the excitement." The 1980s cartoon version of Brother often said this in Sarcasm Mode.
- Character Name and the Noun Phrase
- Christmas Episode
- Clueless Aesop: See here for the 8 most awkward titles.
- Cool Old Guy: The Week at Grandma's has Brother and Sister find this out about their grandparents.
- Compressed Vice: The plot point of several books, among them: eating too much junk food, watching too much television, throwing tantrums, and forgetting their manners.
- Darker and Edgier: Many of the Big Chapter Books.
- Deadpan Snarker: Mama, in Too Much Television. When Papa complains that he won't be able to check the weather if he can't catch the TV weather report, Mama fires back with "Try this. It's called sticking your hand out the window to see if it's raining."
- Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Many people think that the junk food in ...and Too Much Junk Food looks so colorful and delicious, despite the Aesop of junk food being bad for you.
- Everyone Calls Him Brother: Everyone refers to members of the Bear family by their role in the family. Keep in mind that everyone outside the Bear family has a proper name.
- Of note is the fact that, before Sister Bear was born, Brother Bear was originally called Small Bear.
- In the German translation (at least of the TV series), Brother and Sister are renamed Bastel and Suse.
- Fictional Counterpart: "Bearbie" dolls, present in the books and cartoon. Also Beary Bubbies.
- Gender Equal Ensemble: For the longest time, The Bear family consisted of Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Brother Bear and Sister Bear. This balance was undone with the introduction of Honey Bear in 2000.
- Hanna-Barbera: Producers of the 1980's series.
- Hypocritical Humor: Papa Bear, repeatedly. When Brother and Sister whine about not being allowed to watch TV for a week in Too Much Television, Papa lectures them about being good sports - and then finishes with "Now, if you'll excuse me, there's a sports show I want to watch."
- Implausible Deniability: Papa Bear: I told you, I never get sick! *sneezes*
- In Medias Res: The fourth book, Moving Day, explained how the family moved into their tree house.
- I Was Quite a Fashion Victim
- Lampshade Hanging: In the Too Much TV episode of the PBS series, Brother Bear comments that he could learn just as much from a nature show on PBS than from a book.
- Licensed Game: One for the Sega Genesis, one for the Sega Pico, and one for the Game Boy Color. And a few for the PC/Mac.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Very many secondary characters.
- Long Runner
- Loophole Abuse: In one of the novels, a new principal establishes a school dress code, and the students hate both. So they decide to study the rules and on the very first day, decide to piss off the principal by doing just this, and intentionally declaring that they are not breaking any rules. "The rules say there are no blue jeans allowed...Mine are green", and "It says no Superman capes...this is a batman cape." This prompts the principal to blow his top and put in an Obvious Rule Patch mid-day.
- Magic Feather: In The Bad Dream, Sister Bear goes to the local movie house to see the romantic comedy The Magic Toeshoes, which is premised entirely on this trope. (Brother opts instead to catch the infinitely cooler Space Grizzlies!)
- Mama Bear: Well, that's her name, anyway....
- Parental Hypocrisy: A mild version involving a school dress code. The kids adopt obnoxious new fashions, and due to an escalating power struggle between the acting principal who keeps making new rules and the kids using Loophole Abuse, it looks like the school will be going to uniforms... until Grandma Bear defuses the situation by hauling out photos of Papa and Mama Bear in their ludicrous Seventies attire.
- Pet Baby Wild Animal: In one of the PBS Kids TV stories, Sister Bear adopts a baby chipmunk.
- Recursive Adaptation: Some episodes of the TV series were eventually turned into books themselves - twice. Some were rewritten as Berenstain Bear Scouts chapter books, which of course led to some Adaptation Expansion.
- Species Surname
- Steam Never Dies: Sister and Brother Berenstain may eat too much modern junk food, watch too much TV and do their homework on a computer, but when the time comes to take the train to visit Aunt Tilly, suddenly it's 1899 all over again. The Grizzly Express comes complete with steam engine, caboose, coal car, coal tender, dining car, and engineers wearing blue coveralls and funny hats.
- Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Sister's bow
- In The Berenstain Bears Go to the Doctor, though, Brother and Sister strip down for their checkup and reveal that they are wearing matching undergarments (white tank tops with matching boxer-briefs).
- This Is My Side: Done with Brother and Sister's tree house in ...Get in a Fight.
- Too Smart for Strangers: A comparatively realistic and intelligent handling of the subject.
- Wicked Weasel: In the Bear Scouts series, an underground society of Exclusively Evil weasels led by Weasel McGreed serve as recurring villains.
- Moreover, each book begins with a simple four-line rhyme explaning it