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Bluey grows up in ‘Surprise!’ For some parents, seeing her change hits home.

In Entertainment
April 25, 2024

Spoiler alert: This article contains details about the “Surprise!” episode of Bluey.

An unexpected new episode of Bluey — aptly titled “Surprise!” — dropped on Sunday, and the reveal of a grown-up Bluey and much older Bandit and Chilli, as well as a mysterious supposed grandchild, has parents feeling some complicated emotions.

Following the presumed Season 3 finale “The Sign,” the unannounced April 21 installment was already a shocker for viewers. (The only other episode to be aired without a prior announcement was Season 3’s “Cricket.”)

The touching episode has many viewers speculating not only about what it means for the future of Bluey, but also what the passage of time will look like in their own journeys as parents.

The fiftieth — and truly final — episode of Season 3 opens with Bluey asking mom Chilli (Melanie Zanetti) whether she’ll have kids when she grows up, and what it’s like having children. Chilli struggles to find the words, saying it’s hard to explain. “It’s lovely, but it’s also…” she tries to answer, until being interrupted by Bluey and Bingo’s hijinks.

However, Chilli later finds just the right way to explain when dad Bandit (Dave McCormack) tumbles to the kitchen floor after struggling to play two different games with the girls, all while trying to sneak in some alone time. “That’s what having kids is like!” she says, pointing down at Dad’s crumpled body.

After a poignant exchange between Bluey and her exhausted dad, wherein Bluey puts aside her game to help Dad play with Bingo, the episode flashes forward in time. The Heeler house, no longer on the market as it was in “The Sign,” looks the same from the outside, though it’s now surrounded by taller trees, futuristic-looking buildings and delivery drones.

Inside the living room, within a digital frame on the wall, we see an older Bluey wearing a graduation cap and holding a diploma, surrounded by her family. The doorbell rings, and an aged Chilli — now with glasses and a pale orange coat — answers it, revealing a grown-up Bluey at the door, whose fur is now streaked with the same gray hairs her parents have sported since Season 1. The two embrace and are soon joined by a grayer, fluffier Bandit. They reminisce about the time Bandit “almost sold the house,” then exit to join Bingo in the backyard.

But Bandit is held back by another ring at the doorbell. He answers it, at first seeing no one, until the shot reveals a child crouched hiding beside the door. Armed with a ball-blasting toy just like Bluey’s (though more technologically advanced), the pup bears a striking resemblance to the titular character, though with darker fur and one floppy ear.

“Oh no,” says Bandit. The moment, mirroring Bandit and Bluey’s relationship and the games they’ve played together, hints at Bandit’s role now as a grandfather, and the ever-turning wheel of life.

For many parents, Bluey (which debuted in the U.S. in 2019) has acted as a mile marker for their own children’s growth. Unlike many other shows, in which the main characters never age, viewers have watched as Bluey aged from 6 to 8, and Bingo from 4 to 6.

Seeing Bluey as a full-grown adult has inspired some complicated feelings for parent viewers — many of whom have taken to Reddit to discuss their thoughts.

“There is a genie that you can’t necessarily put back in the bottle, which is that Bluey has grown up …” one Reddit user wrote in a post about the episode on the r/Bluey subreddit, which has over 180,000 members. “Bluey putting down her game to let her dad rest and help support Bingo’s play without really engaging in it, really hits home that there is growth in this character that you can’t undo.”

Other parents weighed in on how the episode reminded them how quickly time passes and children grow up.

“There’s a moment towards the end of ‘Surprise’ where Bluey … looked and acted more like a Big Kid than we’ve ever seen her before. It was so bittersweet and also made me realize my own kids are growing up and will never go back to being little,” wrote one user.

“Gosh, I already cry too much about my own children growing too fast — now I’m crying about my fictional dog children growing too fast too!” commented another. “I honestly hadn’t paid that much attention to Bluey and Bingo growing older, but … they are and the show has been showing us this in really clever and subtle ways.”

Becky Norris Kuhn, who is a mom of two, told Yahoo Entertainment that it’s bittersweet seeing the Heelers’s future in “Surprise!”

“As soon as I saw older Chilli, I let out an audible gasp,” said Kuhn. “My 6-year-old laughed at me and said, ‘Oh no, mommy’s going to cry about Bluey again.'”

For Kuhn, Bluey came into her life at a special time. “I was a stay-at-home mom with a newborn and an almost 2-year-old. I had two girls, two years apart, just like this family of cartoon dogs. It’s been a frequent favorite in our house over the last four-and-a-half years. … I’m so grateful [Bluey] showed up when it did.”

Ripley Hyde explained that the show means as much to her as it does her daughter.

Bluey feels like a love letter to parents, hidden in a kids show,” she told Yahoo Entertainment. “I’ve learned how to slow down and listen to my daughter better. How important imaginary play is for growth and coping (and how fun it is). The list goes on. These new games really let me connect with my daughter and understand her and see life through her eyes.”

Megan Rice also believes the show has transformed her life. “[Bluey] has been a lifesaver in so many ways. It makes me a better parent. I often use what I’ve learned from episodes to parent.”

For parents worrying that “Surprise!” could be the final episode of Bluey, producer Sam Moor assured viewers there’s more to come.

“It is not the end for Bluey,” Moor told BBC on April 12. “I’m sure we have many more surprises in store for you. … We are thinking what would be next.”

It’s not yet known when the show will return, or in what form.

“We are just going to get our heads on a bit,” Bluey executive producer Daley Pearson told Australia’s Courier Mail. “We are just coming to the end of Season 3 and trying to think about what’s the best way to make it better.”

Until more is known about the future of Bluey, parents are left to enjoy the lessons that 154 episodes have brought them.

“I am so happy that I can go back and hit play on Episode 1, Season 1,” said Megan.

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