July 10, 2023

Why Paw Patrol is just the worst

I am a dad, and as a dad I watch a lot of kids TV. Some shows I think are actually pretty great (Hey Duggee, Bluey), and some shows are fine, not my thing, but inoffensive (Fireman Sam, Chuggington, Octonauts). There is, however, one show that I just really hate. Paw Patrol. It’s bad.


Before we dive into all the reasons Paw Patrol is the worst, I want to lay out a few caveats.

I haven’t watched every single episode of Paw Patrol, and those I have seen, I wasn’t watching very carefully, nor was I making notes. So maybe I’ve missed some nuance or subtlety of the show (lol no I haven’t).

I watched the British English version. Maybe it’s way better with the US English version, who knows?

On social media, I’ve seen people say things like “Paw Patrol is Copaganda” or “All dogs go to heaven, except the class traitors in Paw Patrol”, which are funny in their extremity, but honestly these don’t point to issues with the show that really bother me. Only Chase is even nominally a police dog, and he almost never does police-y type things. Pretty much everyone Paw Patrol interact with appear to be business owners, so yeah, of course they appear to be on the side of capital? There’s no workers in this bizarro village.

I was in the pub recently complaining about Paw Patrol with another parent, and she said her main issue with the show is that it’s unclear where Ryder gets his money from. Paw Patrol After Dark: digging into the shady conspiracy bankrolling the talking dog rescue service. Now, I’d watch that show.

Token girl

So let’s get down to all the things that I do actually hate about Paw Patrol. First up: the token girl. All the Paw Patrol dogs seem to have some clear type: there’s a police dog, a fireman dog, a recycling dog (?) etc etc and then there’s Skye, the pink dog whose type is… girl? She has a helicopter too for some frickin reason. It’s just so obviously an afterthought.


Paw Patrol are all so boringly, aggressively competent, and solving the problems they’re called to address only ever involves each of the individuals to perform their tasks separately. They never seem to have to work together, or really interact, to solve the problems. None of the characters have flaws or weaknesses where one character might have to cover for another or anything like that. Chuggington, for example, often involves stories where the trains have to work together too solve the problem. The characters have specific weaknesses that their friends cover for. And the trains come across as friends: they actually interact outside of the specific challenge set up for that episode.

Always an antagonist

Paw Patrol are always responding to some antagonist (the top hat mayor, the lady who steals shiny stuff) who is unambiguously in the wrong. The solution is always to foil the bad guy. I don’t think it’s a healthy message for kids to internalise: bad things happen only if there’s an antagonist responsible for causing the bad thing.

I’m not expecting complex moral dilemmas or characters who are all shades of grey, but like, could they not have to resolve an issue where two characters are at odds and they need to be encouraged to work together? Could they not have to respond to a natural disaster or something, even?


This relates to the above two I guess, but there’s never a lesson, nobody ever learns anything. I’m not expecting Aesop’s Fables or Charles Perrault levels of “everything has a moral”, but like, sometimes could they not have a story where it turns out teamwork is good, or every benefits from a compromise, or something?

Lots of kid’s shows manage to convey a message. For example: fire safety from Fireman Sam; sharing and cooperation from Bluey; listening to instructions from Chuggington; facts about fish from Octonauts etc etc.


It’s weird that there’s a police dog, a fireman dog, various other rescue-adjacent dog characters, but no medical dog. The fireman dog has a medical kit, but why don’t they have a doctor? It just seems such a weird oversight.

Once you’ve noticed there’s no medic, you notice that almost nobody in Paw Patrol ever injures themselves. Octonauts have a medic (a penguin, sure why not) and pretty much every episode he has to bandage a fish’s fin or a squids limb.

Voice acting

Every line of dialogue, every single line, is delivered in the same borderline shouting manner. I just find it incredibly grating. Again, this is the British English version, maybe the American one is better? I honestly don’t care enough to check. Special shout-out to the very forced “laughter” when one of the allegedly funny moments happens.


The whole show is just so relentlessly one-paced. Some sort of emergency is set up in the opening minute, and all of the rest of the episode is the irritating dogs responding to mild peril with individual competence. There’s rarely a B-story, but when there is, it involves the same level of child-friendly peril that is resolved before the credits roll. Could there not be a side story where one of the dogs who isn’t involved in the rescue is disappointed to be left out? Just anything else to modulate the pace of the show. Think about the way Fireman Sam has contrasts the exciting rescue story with something gentler – Elvis made a cottage pie, and needs to hide it from Norman or whatever – that’s what I mean.


Each dog is set up to have a specific set of skills and gadgets that they use in their rescues. Some dogs have a recognisable schtick that provides “comic” relief (the dalmatian is clumsy, the bulldog is always hungry), and that’s it as far as characterisation goes. Same for the human characters. The mayor is obsessed with her pet chicken. That’s her thing. Again, I’m not expecting nuance or subtlety from a kids show, but Paw Patrol feels especially lazy as regards characterisation.


The whole show just come across as totally devoid of charm or humour. The “comic” relief at the beginning or end of the episodes (oh look the friggin dalmatian has done something clumsy again, hilarious) is just so ham-fisted and unfunny. I’m not expecting world-class humour from a kids show, but look at Bluey or Hey Duggee: those are funny. Actual jokes. Actual effort.

Lots of kids shows have extremely weird things in (the ice cream making train in Chuggington, uuhh lots of Hey Duggee) and often I like that weird stuff, it adds something to my interest in the show. But even this feature in Paw Patrol is mishandled. I guess the mayor’s obsession with her pet chicken is supposed to be a sort of humorous aspect of her character, but it just comes across as annoying.

Transparent marketing exercise

Shock horror, a kid’s TV show is primarily a part of a strategy to sell toys and merchandise. All kid’s TV shows have merchandise, but Paw Patrol’s vast array of vehicles and gadgets just seem such a blatant attempt to expand the catalogue of toys they can sell.

Poor Patrol

For each of these criticisms, it’s probably true that at least some kids shows I don’t hate share that flaw. The problem is not that any one of these flaws is a deal-breaker, it’s that piling flaw on flaw, with no redeeming features, yields a genuinely miserable viewing experience.

This show sucks and I hate it. The end.

© Seamus Bradley 2021–3

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