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A popular format in which to present a cartoon show. The half hour, 22 minutes of program time, is used to show three six-minute short cartoons. The remaining time is used for short framing segments or one-minute gags.
Many shows follow an A-B-A form for this format, meaning one series has a short in the first slot and in the last. This "A" series is generally the one that gives the whole show its name. The middle slot is filled by a second "B" series, that may or may not get billing in the Title Sequence. The "B" series is often in the same universe as the "A" series, and the two can often Crossover, with the virtue that everyone who has seen the one will almost inevitably see the other. Hanna-Barbera likes this format for its Cartoon Network original shows, and many of its older productions.
This form has some advantages. The short episodes are easier to produce in parallel, since writing and animation tasks can be farmed out to a bigger staff, resulting in higher productivity. This, and carrying a comedic story for 22 minutes can be tricky. A six-minute short doesn't give the premise of a joke enough time to run out of steam.
This is different from an Animated Anthology, in that a specific two or three series are used, and both are made new for this format. Animated Anthologies have widely variable structures within a given episode, while Three Shorts shows are usually locked into the exact form.
Most series today use a Two Shorts form, with a pair of eleven-minute episodes. Originally very rare, it's practically the standard for comedy. Some half-hour animated shows have a few Two Shorts episodes made up, any half of which can be used as emergency schedule filler around odd-length specials or movies. (The Disney Channel likes these, there are three episodes of Kim Possible that follow Two Shorts form, and they crop up after any given movie airing.)
Sometimes, in between the shorts are super-short one-joke bits. Garfield and Friends called these "Quickies", and they were often adapted from a single Sunday strip.
Anime and Manga
- Some Anime air (in Japan) in a form like this, notably Risky Safety and Oruchuban Ebichu, although the series they aired with are less notable. More common are the half-length episodes (about 13 minutes) which air back to back in a half-hour timeslot. Final Approach and W Wish aired together in this manner.
- The anime version of Keroro Gunsou usually followed a Two Shorts format.
- Urusei Yatsura began as a Two Shorts format, sometimes leading to confusion about how many episodes there are since the shows from this period may be counted as either one or two.
- Azumanga Daioh was broadcast as one five-minute episode per weekday, which were then stitched together into a half-hour Five Shorts form on Saturday.
- Episodes two and onward of (Zoku) Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei follow this format.
- As does Goku (the OVA) and, so far, Zan (the third series).
- Galaxy Angel after its first season (26 thirteen-minute individual episodes) had a 2 shorts format.
- Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt, being a tribute to Western cartoons in many ways, follows this format.
- It sometimes deviates from it, like with the full-length episode 6.
- Shinryaku! Ika Musume
- Motto To Love Ru
- Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru anime adaption features two thematically linked chapters of the manga per episode.
- Shizuku-chan does two stories per episode.
- Sazae-san does the three shorts formant.
- The 2009 Tamagotchi anime has two stories per episode.
- Shin Chan usually runs the three episode format.
- Most of the Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu episodes were made up of two different stories.
- School Rumble is a subversion. While the episodes are divided into three shorter ones (each with their own title, except for the season finales), they are all linked together in one overarching plot.
- Jewelpet Sunshine uses the two stories format in some episodes.
- The 2012 Three Stooges movie follows this format, with three half hour shorts in the spirit of the original series.
- Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide has two 11-minute shorts per episode, with the second sometimes continuing where the first left off. Unless Nickelodeon only shows one to even out the time slots after running interstitials.
- Pucca uses the Three Shorts format for the TV series.
- Happy Tree Friends followed the Three Shorts structure when adapted for television.
- 2 Stupid Dogs: ABA structure, with new Secret Squirrel episodes in the middle.
- The Ren and Stimpy Show, though it was more loose with the structure sometimes.
- The Powerpuff Girls: Some special episodes filled the whole 22 minutes, but most were of the Two Shorts format.
- Except the fourth season, which had only 2 of 13 episodes in this format.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy was initially aired as Grim and Evil, sharing an ABA structure with Evil Con Carne before the latter was spun off and then cancelled. Both shows became two short format.
- Cow and Chicken shared an ABA format with I Am Weasel until, as above, the second-string short was spun off. Neither show lasted very long.
- Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines, ABA with Magnificent Muttley.
- Garfield and Friends, ABA with U.S. Acres. Originally aired in an hour-long form on Saturday morning, making it a Six Shorts format, but it was really two Three Shorts episodes grafted together.
- Dexters Laboratory, ABA with either Dial M for Monkey or The Justice Friends.
- Rugrats is generally Two Shorts. In fact, between the 1991 premiere of Rugrats and the 1998 premiere of The Wild Thornberrys, every Nickelodeon cartoon was generally Two Shorts (with the exeption of Ka Blam!!, which was an animated sketch comedy). These are still the majority.
- Animaniacs, ABA with a rotating cast of B's, most notably Pinky and The Brain.
- About a third of the episodes of the spinoff version of Pinky and The Brain used the Two Shorts format, occasionally with a quickie musical filler.
- The "Treehouse of Horror" episodes of The Simpsons.
- And the episode "Trilogy of Error," where the 3 seemingly irrelevant plots of Homer accidentally cutting a finger off, Lisa trying to get to a science fair, and Bart and Milhouse discovering a mafia's illegal fireworks ring are connected more and more throughout.
- And other "Treehouse"-style non-Hallowe'en episodes, such as "Tales From The Public Domain" and "Simpsons Tall Tales".
- The studio executives actually planned originally for all the episodes to be in this format, but thankfully they were eventually convinced otherwise.
- The original Birdman ran ABA with The Galaxy Trio, coming in on the heels of Space Ghost running ABA with Dino Boy.
- Hey Arnold generally did two 11-minute shorts, though some episodes did take up the whole 22 minutes (e.g. "Parent's Day" and "Helga on the Couch"), and "The Journal" took up two separate 22-minute blocks.
- Ruby Gloom uses an unusual format, where one full-length episode is framed by two super-short segments.
- Edgar and Ellen uses the Two Shorts format, with the addition of a closing super-short segment.
- Arthur uses the Two Shorts format, with short live-action fillers in between: "And now a word from us kids!"
- In some of the newer episodes, "A Word from Us Kids" was replaced by a "Postcards From Buster" skit.
- SpongeBob SquarePants generally uses the two 11-minutes shorts format. A few episodes, including the pilot, used the three shorts format, and 22-minute episodes are considered specials.
- Rocky and Bullwinkle followed the ABCA format. The "Rocky" segments took up the beginning and the end, the B would be "Mr. Peabody" and C would either be "Fractured Fairy Tales," "Aesop and Son," or "Dudley Do-Right."
- Another Jay Ward program, George of the Jungle, followed the ABC format, with the other two segments being "Tom Slick" and "Super Chicken."
- Fairly Oddparents does the Two Shorts format.
- Dragon Tales uses the ABA format, with the "B" slot taken by a Dragon Tales Tune.
- The Pink Panther. ABA, with the B being either an The Inspector short, or a less well-known De Patie Freleng cartoon like The Ant and the Aardvark or Crazylegs Crane.
- Tiny Toon Adventures often alternated between three shorts and full length episodes.
- Done only occasionally in the early seasons of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.
- The second season of Captain N: The Game Master ran an ABA format, despite Captain N not technically being a short, with a 22-minute Captain N episode being framed by 11-minute Super Mario Bros.. 3 episodes over the course of an hour. The last season was instead Two Shorts, with a Super Mario World cartoon and an 11-minute Captain N cartoon (usually one of the 22-minute episodes from the earlier seasons butchered into 11 minutes).
- Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi ran as three shorts.
- Phineas and Ferb uses a Two Shorts format for most episodes. However, there have been several full 22-minute episodes, an extended-length Christmas episode, and two occasions were the second short takes place within the same time as the first short, often to show different points of view.
- The "Anthology of Interest" episodes of Futurama, as well as the multi-holidays episode.
- Freakazoid used this format for its first season, but it wasn't really ABA, or ABC, more like ABZ, DFA, or WTF, but switched to full 22-minutes episodes for its second season.
- The original Alvin Show followed ABA, with the B being a short featuring Clyde Crashcup, a Bungling Inventor who invented things already in existence.
- Heathcliff and The Catillac Cats. The B was The Catillac Cats.
- The Beatles animated series was ABA, with A being the actual cartoons and B as a sing-a-long with two Beatles songs and introductions for each.
- Jimmy Two-Shoes follows the two short format.
- Spliced also follows the two short format.
- One Hundred and One Dalmatians: The Series used the Two Shorts format most of the time.
- The Weekenders used the two shorts format.
- Most of the early Hanna-Barbera comedy shows were ABC. The Huckleberry Hound Show, their first half-hour series, was the Trope Maker for the format.
- Family Guy did this with a Halloween special, wherein they recreated three Stephen King novels with the Family Guy characters. They did Stand by Me, Misery, and The Shawshank Redemption. The surrounding material involved Peter introducing them, and reminding us all that Stephen King is the greatest author of all time.
- Maryoku Yummy does the two stories formant.
- Recently Cartoon Network has aired a single Quarter Hour Short on the Monday-night block new episodes premiere on (even when it's not a new episode), then air them as Two Shorts for re-runs outside that block.
- Recess follows the two shorts format, with the exception of three episodes.
- Pepper Ann mostly uses two shorts, but there are some episodes (like "Ziterella" and "The Environmentals") where it's just one episode.
- Time Squad mostly had two shorts (much like most other original Cartoon Network programming under the "Cartoon Cartoons" brand, save for Cow and Chicken, which had an I Am Weasel cartoon in between two Cow and Chicken cartoons until I Am Weasel was spun off to its own show), but the seventh episode of season one had three shorts ("If It's Wright, It's Wrong," "The Time Squad Recruitment Ad," and "Killing Time.")
- My Little Pony and Friends aired in this format. First was My Little Pony, and then one of three other shows. My Little Pony was the only segment to get aired every week. The other properties, Glo Friends, Moondreamers, and The Potato Head Kids (yes, really) alternated each week.
- Every show aired on Kideo TV, which included The Get Along Gang, Rainbow Brite, Ulysses 31, Lady Lovely Locks, and Popples. When the shows were re-run on their own and/or released on video, they each became 2 stories.
- Popples is the only exception. Some tapes had up to six episodes!
- The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show uses the A-B-A format. The B portion features Droopy's adventures, with Slick Wolf as the antagonist and other Tex Avery characters in supporting roles.