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"Dashing and daring, courageous and caring,
Faithful and friendly with stories to share,
All through the forest they sing out in chorus,
Marching along as their song fills the air..."
Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears is a truly groundbreaking series by Walt Disney. Although The Wuzzles was Disney's first original animated TV series, that was really a trial run for this series, which almost immediately made the company a dominant force in television animation. Lasting from September, 1985 to February, 1991. A total of 94 episodes.
The show was actually a major gamble for Disney, as it was a very new idea. Disney reasoned that the costs of a high-quality animated show could be recovered in syndication. The gamble worked, and a new era of unprecedented quality in western television animation was born.
The series takes place in The Theme Park Version of medieval time, centuries after the Great Gummis fled across the sea while a small caretaker colony stayed behind in Gummi Glen in the Kingdom of Dunwyn to maintain the civilization's extremely sophisticated infrastructure on the off-chance the Gummis could return to live with humans in peace.
Unfortunately, when the story begins, the Glen Gummis have declined to only six descendants who have forgotten their past skills. Fortunately, they meet a friendly human boy named Cavin who has a Gummi Medallion that unlocks their library's Great Book of Gummi, the essential book of their culture's knowledge. Inspired, the colony decide to rediscover their heritage and help the boy whose kingdom is under dire threat.
That threat comes in the form of Duke Igthorn of Drekmore and his army of really dumb ogres. He is out to conquer Dunwyn and upon discovering that the supposedly mythological Gummi Bears exist, he will stop at nothing to exploit their secrets, like their powerful magic and technology, for his own use. Furthermore, he is but the most frequent of a whole host of enemies that the Gummi Bears and their human allies must oppose.
At the most uncharitable, you could call this series T Ms's (late) answer to The Littl' Bits (as The Littl Bits came out in 1980, this did not came out until 1985), but it's more accurate to call it Disney's/TMS's attempt to show how to do the premise right (as The Littl Bits does have its fans). Apart from obviously lavish animation, the series addressed the major complaints of Tatsunoko's series and the basic ideology of the 1980s; for instance, individuality is celebrated in proper proportion to the value of cooperation and the primary characters are far more nuanced with carefully considered flaws and strengths. Furthermore, the female characters avoid The Smurfette Principle, with multiple characters with strong well-defined personalities who bow to no one.
If you're wondering how they came up with a premise for, of all things, Gummi Bears, as the story goes, Michael Eisner was inspired when his son requested them. True story, straight from That Other Wiki.
Gummi Bears includes examples of:
- Affably Evil: Duke Igthorn.
- An Ice Person: Chillbeard the frost giant.
- Badass and Badass Longcoat: In the episode "For a Few Sovereigns More", Igthorn hires Flint Shrubwood, the best Bounty Hunter in the land, to capture a Gummi Bear. Now, you wouldn't expect a hired gun in a Disney 80's cartoon to be intimidating or even particularly capable, would you? Think again. Flint, frequently referred to as "Stoneface", uses Precision Guided Boomerangs to frightening effect, effortlessly catching Cubbi. When Igthorn attempts to withhold his payment, he is subdued and imprisoned just as easily and ends up buying his own life with the gold. (Flint: "Go ahead. Take my pay.") Seriously, with a more reliable sponsor, this man would become a Hero-Killer.
- Badass Princess: Calla is definitely working on this.
- Badbutt: Gruffi.
- Barefoot Cartoon Animals: Zummi, Gruffi and Grammi.
- Berserk Button/Insistent Terminology/Embarrassing Nickname: Duke Igthorn hates being called "Dukey" by his ogres. They call him "Dukey" nearly constantly.
- His brother, Sir Victor Igthorn, also has a Berserk Button: Never insult his horse.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: In an episode with a wishing stone, a young boy wished to be bigger, he ended up turning into a giant.
- Beware the Nice Ones: All of the gummi bears had their moments of this.
- Blind and the Beast: Tummi befriends a blind human woman.
- Blind Without'Em: Zummi
- Bluff the Eavesdropper: In one episode, the king tries to find out a famous chef's secret recipe by listening at the door, which the chef thwarts by reciting absolute nonsense instead of his ingredients. However, this does not thwart Cubbi, Sunni, and Tummi, who are hiding in the kitchen and can write down the actual steps he's taking.
- Bumbling Sidekick: Toadwart (aka "Toadie")
- Butt Monkey: Toadwart, the smallest ogre, took the most pain out of any character in the series.
- The Cameo: Two Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck wodden figurines can be seen briefly during one of the first episodes.
- Chained Heat: An episode with Igthorn and Cubbi.
- Chekhov's Volcano: Accompanied by Convection, Schmonvection in "My Gummi Lies Over the Ocean".
- The Chew Toy: Toadie.
- City of Adventure: Dunwyn.
- Clothes Make the Superman: In one episode, Toadie gets a suit of armor that makes him invincible in battle.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Gusto. Of course, let's see you spend twelve years on a Deserted Island with only a toucan for company, and see how sane you are when you finally escape.
- Cool Big Sis: Calla to Sunni in a surrogate way.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Tummi.
- Daddy's Girl: Sunni seems to have this relationship to Gruffi.
- Deadpan Snarker: Gruffi in particular, Grammi tends to repay him in kind.
- Diet Episode: In "The Oracle", Tummi Gummi gets put on a diet after sneaking a midnight snack.
- Disney Princess: Calla isn't officially considered one by Disney, due to their conceit that they should not be promoting their past TV cartoons, but she is a princess in a Disney cartoon. She even dresses like Snow White sometimes.
- Princess Marie is also "a princess in a Disney cartoon".
- Duck: In a scene where a fish goes flying through the air, one of the characters yells "Duck!", and another character remarks, "That's not a duck, it's a fish." either before or after getting it in the face.
- Dumb Muscle: The Ogres definitely fall under this category.
- Elaborate Underground Base: Gummi Glen has an unusually realistic take on such a habitat and the various tasks necessary to maintain it and the consequences of neglecting it is a source of story material.
- Embarrassing First Name: Duke Sigmund Igthorn.
- Everyone Loves Blondes: Cavin for Calla.
- Also Grady for Ursa.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Calla.
- Evil Twin: Actually Igthorn is the evil twin, and a source of deep shame to his heroic knightly brother (whom Cavin idolizes).
- Expository Theme Tune: Quoted above.
- Fantastic Racism: Due to an unfortunately high number of humans being bastards, Cavin often suffers unfairly at the hands of gummis who don't know him.
- Feathered Fiend: Carpies
- Five-Man Band:
- Fountain of Youth: Gummiberry juice mixed with baby powder ends up turning Igthorn's Ogre army into babies.
- Gang of Critters
- Gone Behind the Bend: "A Gummi A Day Keeps The Doctor Away" had a scene where Gruffi and Tummi get chased by ogres while saving a kindly doctor from Duke Igthorn. The chase scene then leads to the two Gummis and the ogres running around the top part of the castle, until only the ogres are seen running around.
- Gone Horribly Right
- Grand Finale: "King Igthorn"... and how!
- Great Big Book of Everything: The Great Book of Gummi.
- Hot Amazon: Ursa.
- Hot Witch: Lady Bane.
- Also Marzipan, until you see her true form.
- Humans Are Bastards: The Gummis were forced into hiding because of humans abusing their technology, the Barbic Bears lost their ancestral home because of humans, the principal antagonist is human -- and if the average human on the street isn't intentionally malicious, they still tend to cause problems just the same. There definitely are good humans, but their poor reputation amongst many of the gummis isn't entirely without cause.
- I Want You to Meet An Old Friend of Mine: In season 1, Gruffi was voiced by the late Bill Scott who voiced Bullwinkle in Rocky and Bullwinkle. Grammi was voiced by June Foray who voiced Rocky in that same series.
- I Was Beaten by a Girl: Calla, going undercover, defeats the squires in "Girl's Knight Out".
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Gruffi.
- Large Ham: The Igthorn brothers.
- Lethal Chef: Grammi's cooking.
- Also Sunni's various attempts to make Gummi Berry Juice, at least until she finally gets it right. (Poorly made Gummi Berry Juice is extremely unstable and explodes like nitroglicerine.)
- Lost Technology: By the wagonload. Even the Gummis don't know what half of it does.
- Love Potion: One causes Tummi to fall for Lady Bane and Lady Bane to fall for Toadie.
- Mama Bear: Grammi.
- Meaningful Name: Sunni is the Cheerful Child (with yellow fur), Cubbi the Tagalong Kid, Tummi the Big Eater, Grammi the Apron Matron, Gruffi is a Grumpy Bear where Gusto is Hot-Blooded and Zummi... um... we'll get back to you on that. It may have something to do with his Spoonerism tendencies, or to emphasize his "wizard-like" nature given that a lot of sound effect depictions have the letter Z, like Zap or Kazaam.
- In the Russian dub he's renamed "Spellcaster," which still rhymes with the other Russified names the same way as it does in the original Klingon.
- And, of course, Toadie.
- Medieval Stasis: Would instantly have been dispelled if humanity at large could have gotten their hands on Gummi technology.
- The Middle Ages: A very romanticized depiction.
- Missing Mom: Princess Calla's mom is never mentioned in the series.
- Mobile Suit Human: In "A Hard Dazed Knight", Gruffi uses one (in the form of an armored knight) to infiltrate Duke Igthorn's castle.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Igthorn on occasion, particularly in the finale.
- One-Note Cook: The only thing that Granni can prepare correctly is Gummi Berry Juice.
- Older Sidekick: Tummi for Cubbi's "Crimson Avenger".
- Our Dragons Are Different: Both the Medieval and Chinese kind appear.
- Our Giants Are Bigger: They've appear on multiple occasions.
- Our Gnomes Are Weirder
- Our Gryphons Are Different: They're pink.
- Our Mermaids Are Different: Standard fantasy version appears in "Water Way to Go".
- The One Who Wears Shoes: Slightly more than normal for the trope, but Sunni, Tummi and Gusto.
- The Other Darrin: After Bill Scott passed away, Corey Burton voiced Gruffi for the rest of the series. Also, Paul Winchell left the series after season 5, so Jim Cummings took over as the voice of Zummi.
- Papa Wolf: Gruffi.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Calla occasionally wears one.
- Power-Up Food: Gummi Berry juice. For Gummis it makes them bouncy, agile and jump large distances. For humans, it gives them a few seconds of super strength, but just once a day. Ogres gets super strength too, but unlike humans, it lasts longer and can be renewed by drinking more juice.
- Precocious Crush: Sunni for Gusto, who is either oblivious or politely uninterested.
- Princesses Prefer Pink: Calla and Marie both wore pink dresses.
- Puppy Love: It's hinted at times that Cavin and Calla nurse crushes on one another.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: King Gregor.
- Rebellious Princess: Princess Calla is a rough and tumble adventurer of the first order.
- Remembered Too Late: Gruffi does this with the fact that Gummi berry juice only works on humans once a day.
- The Renaissance Age of Animation: The Disney cartoon that finally introduced quality animation to made-for-TV cartoons, playing a big role in getting rid of lingering legacies from The Dark Age of Animation.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Gruffi, the no-nonsense conservative blue oni, is often at odds with red onis Grammi, who is far more progressive, and Gusto, who is out to lunch.
- The Rival: Marie to Calla.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Princess Calla and King Gregor count for this in spades.
- Scooby-Dooby Doors
- Secret Keeper: Cavin and, later, Calla.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Calla proves this on several occasions.
- She Is All Grown Up: Happens to Sunni in the space of one episode, due to a semi-Rapid Aging Phlebotinum. Unfortunately, the aging doesn't stop at "filled out"...
- Shout-Out: One episode has a dimwitted thief saying "I taw I taw a Gummy Bear".
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Sir Victor fights for good while his brother Duke Igthorn fights for evil.
- Sixty Five Episode Cartoon
- Smooch of Victory: Cavin gets one from Calla at the end of "Ogre For A Day".
- Spoiled Brat: Marie.
- Spoonerism: Zummi megularly rakes these. Bit of a problem when he needs to use magic with Exact Wording.
- Sugar Bowl: Somewhat less than you'd think for a show named after a candy.
- Superhero: Cubbi's stories as the Crimson Avenger.
- Super Serum: Gummiberry Juice which makes the Gummis bounce and gives humans and ogres a moment of Super Strength. Not to mention it's also good as motor fuel for Gummi machines.
- Tickle Torture: Igthorn does it to Grammi in one episode.
- Title Theme Tune: Although it's a milder example than subsequent Disney animated shows.
- Took a Level In Badass: Cubbi when he becomes the Crimson Avenger.
- Too Many Cooks Spoil the Soup
- Vanishing Village: "The Knights of Gummadoon".
- Wave Motion Gun: The Gummiscopes. Although its real purpose is as a giant solar powered messaging machine, it can be used as as a massive energy cannon if there is enough solar energy to power it.
- By contrast, the Great Horn of Ursalia is definitely a Weapon of Mass Destruction.
- Wham! Episode: The final saga was entirely made of this: Just in the first part, Igthorn leaves the kingdom and after months of not showing any signs of life, Zummi sends a message to the Great Gummis, anouncing that the kingdom is finally safe and ready for their return. Then Igthorn suddenly returns, more terrible than ever, and quickly succeds at completely destroying Gummi Glen, capturing the Gummis and stealing the secret of the Gummi Berry Juice from them, and immediately leading his army of super powerful ogres against Dunwin castle, demolishing its defenses, completely defeating everyone and crowning himself as the new king. (Remember, all of this is just ONE episode.) The final episodes included Igthorn himself attacking the Great Gummis, followed by Zummi's (apparent) death and even after the union of Gummis, Barbics and Humans manage to defeat Igthorn for once and all, the existence of Gummi Bears is revealed to everyone and Gummi Glen is lost forever.
- When Trees Attack
- Whole Costume Reference: In one episode, Cala wears a dress identical to Snow White's.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Zummi is deathly afraid of heights.
- You Don't Want to Catch This: Gummioleosis, when Cubbi and Gusto are captured by the Ogres.