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The Littles were the title characters of a series of children's novels by American author John Peterson, the first of which was published in 1967. Peterson's books were adapted into The Littles animated series by D.i.C Audio-Visuel and Tokyo Movie Shinsha (until season 3, when Studio Gallop, known mostly for Yu-Gi-Oh, took over. Mainly due to DiC lowering budgets and TMS going with Disney for their shows because of bigger budgets). In 1985, an animated feature film called Here Come the Littles was released, and the television show ran on ABC Saturday mornings from September 10, 1983, to November 2, 1985. It ran for three seasons, comprising 29 episodes.
Similar to Mary Norton's earlier novel The Borrowers, The Littles features a family of tiny but intelligent humanoid creatures with mouse-like features (the Littles) who live in a house owned by the Bigg family. The mouse-like features include a long, furry tail, long teeth and mouse-like ears. Their height is 4–6 inches.
This series provides examples of:
- All Just a Dream: Dinky's Doomsday Pizza.
- And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Until the 3rd season, each episode featured a how-to segment called "Little Ideas for Big People", which showed how to make small arts and crafts projects. It was later replaced by "A Little Known Fact" which featured various historical facts, sometimes related to the places they were visiting in the episode. The latter segment had a teaser before the commercial break that would ask a question about the "little known fact", the answer to which would be revealed at the end of the episode (before the credits).
- Played straight in the episode A Little Drunk, where it does not have a teaser before the commercial break, and at the end before the credits roll is a segment where the Littles make a contract that kids could make for their parents to sign promising not to drink and drive, and for kids to not ride with drunk drivers (though it still featured the "A Little Known Fact" title card and music).
- Animated Adaptation
- Animation Bump: In some episodes and Here Come the Littles.
- Author Avatar: Peterson (Dr. Hunter's assistant) may or may not be based on John Peterson, the original creator and author of the books.
- Babies Make Everything Better: Seen in Twins and The Little Babysitters.
- Cats Are Mean: The Littles have avoided many cat attacks, even in the opening sequence to the show's second season!
- Subverted in Here Come the Littles when the cat befriends Tom after getting a splinter out of its paw.
- The Eighties: Some 1980s cultures appear in this show (as it was produced during this time), such as the rock band in A Little Rock and Roll.
- "Everybody Laughs" Ending
- Everything's Worse with Bears: The bear in For the Birds.
- Subverted with the bear cub in The Little Scouts.
- Expository Theme Tune: The theme music to the show's second season (1984), though it doesn't fit with the continuity of the movie tie-in.
- Halloween Episode: The Littles' Halloween.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: B.J. Ward as Cousin Ashley, along with Ken Samson (Rabbit of Winnie the Pooh) as Dr. Hunter and Peterson, and additional voices during the first two seasons provided by Hal Smith, Frank Welker and Tress MacNeille.
- It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: Throughout the episode The Rats are Coming!
- Missing Mom/Disappeared Dad: They are lost on a trip to Africa during Here Come the Littles.
- Mouse World
- The Movie: Here Come the Littles, although the 2011 box set has the multi-part episode Liberty and the Littles featured as a second movie.
- Never Say "Die": Played straight most of the time, but averted at least once each in Here Come the Littles and Liberty and the Littles.
- Recycled Soundtrack: The episode The Wrong Stuff features some "space" background music from Heathcliff and The Catillac Cats.
- Rodents of Unusual Size: Rats are the size of horses to The Littles, as seen in The Rats are Coming! and The Littles Halloween.
- Secret Keeper: Henry Bigg, but only in the TV series.
- Stock Footage: A shot of Dinky's plane flying away uses this in Liberty and the Littles.
- Vanity Plate: All episodes ended with a customized "D.i.C." logo where Dinky dots the "i" with a button. The movies used the 1984 "Vortex" logo, and syndicated reruns from 2004-2007 replaced them with the Incredible World of Di C logo (however, the original "button i" logo is preserved on the DVDs).
- Very Special Episode: There were a few of them, most notably Prescription For Disaster (dealing about drug abuse), A Little Drunk (alcoholism) and The Little Girl Who Could (handicapped people).