Harold Lloyd versus Snarf: Old Plots in New(er) Settings

thundercats poster

“So, you know that episode of Thundercats I was finishing?” my husband asked one morning.

“Urnghuh? Um…sure,” I answered, my foggy tones conveying that no, I hadn’t had my morning coffee yet. I wrestled my hair into order with a scrunci and tried to look awake.

“It had the same plot as that Harold Lloyd movie we watched yesterday.”

harold lloyd

That got my attention. “What?”

“Grandma’s Boy, the Harold Lloyd movie? It was the same as the Thundercats episode.”

For those of you not familiar with these two entities, Harold Lloyd was a famous comedic actor, known for a shy persona juxtaposed against daredevil stunts.

Harrold lloyd
CGI? What’s CGI?

His career stretched from the silent films in the 19teens all the way into the ‘talkie’ era.

IMDB sums up Grandma’s Boy:

“Always the mama’s boy, or in this case a grandma’s boy, Sonny joins a posse after a tramp accused of robbery and murder. He is unable to conquer his cowardice until Grandma tells him of his grandfather, also a coward, who overcame his fears with the help of a magic amulet. With new courage (and the charm), Sonny captures the fugitive and becomes the hero of the day.”

While I don’t imagine that the 1922 film was the first to use the idea of ‘the lucky charm that gives courage,’ it certainly wasn’t the last.

Enter a 1987 cartoon, in which a cat-lizard creature on Third Earth needs to save his more physically capable friends. He lacks courage until…you guessed it…he gains a ‘magical’ talisman. Which doesn’t end up being magical at all. Just like in Harold Lloyd’s film…

snarf
Don’t mess with Snarf!

Of course the two stories are different. Different setting, characters, medium of presentation…but the bones of the story are the same.

The question, I think, is whether this is a failing in the stories.

I’d say, no. (Edited to: Not always.)

Is it any surprise that ideas get reused? After all, in the wisdom literature of the Bible’s Old Testament the author acknowledges,

What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

This was, oh, about 2,500 years ago…

I asked my husband the obvious question. “Which was better?”

He thought for a moment. “Thundercats.” *

Huh.

Writers, I find this encouraging. If your story idea isn’t exactly original, it doesn’t mean that it is unusable. A new voice might breathe new, exciting life into an old story.

Cat-lizards don’t seem to hurt either.

 

My conclusion: If you use an old theme, make sure you do it well!

thundercats
It would’ve been better if we were the stars, Wily Kat!

Has anyone else seen this same basic plot used elsewhere?

*My husband just gave me a hard time about ‘lying to my readers,’ so here is a disclaimer. All conversations are approximated. “Baby brain” ensures that I don’t actually remember things like words people say to me anymore. If I actually remember having a conversation pre-coffee, I count that as a win. 🙂

 

 

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8 Replies to “Harold Lloyd versus Snarf: Old Plots in New(er) Settings”

  1. Oh, it’s a frustration of mine — so many of the same stories have been told in so many of the same settings… the trick really is how to put a new twist on it, whether it be a different character, different setting, whatever. Or, you know, mash-up previously unmixed genres!

    See also: http://tvtropes.org/ But be careful — you will go down the rabbit hole and never, ever return.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol. Yes, “frustrating” is the word when it’s not done WELL.
      I have a hard time with most of the ‘big’ movies because it feels like they recycle the same plots over and over. Most of which are based on Shakespeare or Jane Austen. And if you’re going to see one of their stories anyway, why not go for the real thing?
      Recently we’ve gotten some bizarre animes from a friend- one thing about those, you have NO idea what’s going to happen…
      Thanks for the link. I likes me a good rabbit hole. 🙂

      Like

  2. What a curious repeat! I’m afraid my brain rare catches such things; I was just so proud of myself for scrunching my face at that bomb THE ISLAND and saying, “Hey, that’s THE CLONUS HORROR!” And sure enough–I think they even got sued!
    Lovely read! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jean 🙂 Yes, the hubby is much better at noticing things like that than I am. Never saw THE ISLAND, but PARTS: THE CLONUS HORROR was a great MST3K episode, wasn’t it? 🙂
      Thanks for reading, friend.

      Liked by 1 person

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