Spike has a big appetite, and constantly eats plants that are in his sight. When Spike was still unhatched, his parents had left his egg in a nest surrounded by grass. After he hatched, he quickly consumed the grass. Often, food serves as a motivation for Spike, such as in The Land Before Time VI: The Secret of Saurus Rock, when the main characters are crossing the canyon by means of hopping on the rocky pillars. Spike is afraid to do so, until he notices some ample bushes on the other side, upon which he vigorously hops across and delves into them. Later, in The Land Before Time VIII: The Big Freeze, Spike sniffs out the patch of greenfood the other main characters and Mr. Thicknose have discovered in the Mysterious Beyond, and leads the starving herd of Spike Tails down to it.
Often, the other characters are put in tight situations because of Spike's eating. In The Land Before Time V: The Mysterious Island, while the children are paddling on a log to get from the island back to the mainland, Spike finds some leaves on a branch on the log, and struggles to reach them, despite Littlefoot's warnings that this is causing the log to turn around. Also, in The Land Before Time VII: The Stone of Cold Fire, while the children are crossing the vines over the canyon, Spike takes interest in a yellow flower growing out of the vine, and chomps on it; incidentally biting through the vine and causing the children to swing into a cave in the middle of the cliffs.
In The Land Before Time V: The Mysterious Island, when Spike and the others arrive at the Big Water (ocean), he swallows some seawater which enters his mouth despite the salty flavor of seawater. He drinks seawater twice again in The Land Before Time IX: Journey to Big Water.
Spike's most notable characteristic is being the "mute" among the main characters, as he almost never speaks. However, as his foster sister, Ducky says in The Land Before Time IV: Journey through the Mists he can indeed speak when he feels like doing so. In the TV episode "Through the Eyes of a Spiketail", in which many of the events are seen through Spike's perspective, and Spike's thoughts are heard out loud, it is revealed that Spike chooses to be silent in order to hear the "singing" of the greenfood before deciding what he wants to eat; he comments that his friends do not hear these "songs" because they are always talking. He also prefers not to talk because he dislikes the excessive arguing his friends often get into. However, in times of great importance or peril, he finds that his silence can be a hindrance, although it is not given why he does not choose to speak in these circumstances.
The only times that Spike has truly spoken in the series are in The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure when Littlefoot and his friends find out what to play, Spike said "I don't Know"! and The Land Before Time IV: Journey Through the Mists, when Ducky is nearly eaten by Dil, and he shouts her name ("Duh...duh...DUCKY!") and in The Land Before Time VIII: The Big Freeze; when he shouts "Mama!" while drowning in the hot water. He has articulated in other ways on other occasions. In The Land Before Time XI: Invasion of the Tinysauruses, he mutters to Petrie while he and Ducky are telling Littlefoot that they aren't sure why they're mad at him; what he says sounds like "Yeah. Uh-huh." Furthermore, in the Finnish version of the original movie, when he and the others are exhausted from climbing up a hill of rocks, he says a single word; "ruokaa", which translates into English as "food".
Spike is generally very laid-back and relaxed. Despite never talking, he is generally connected with what his friends are doing. Along with explaining his silence, Spike reveals in his thoughts that he is just as intelligent as his friends, and that he is quite observant; noticing the traits of everyone and everything around him almost immediately. He is also very confident and brave, although he admits to preferring a sedentary lifestyle; staying home and eating, over adventuring with the others, as he views most of their adventures as being too dangerous, but out of loyalty he follows his friends nonetheless. He also cares deeply for them, pushing himself to go into dangerous situations to save their lives. Don Bluth has described him as "a pure soul, simple, accommodating, and eager to please".
When Spike was still in his egg, he was separated from his biological parents. He was adopted as a brother by Ducky, and readily accepted by her parents and siblings as part of the family, despite the fact that most of the characters tended to show prejudice towards others not part of their species. As his father is rarely seen, and has never had a speaking role, his exact relationship with him is uncertain, but his mother, a prominent recurring character, is shown to be very devoted to him. She is shown to treat him equally with her biological children, while still bearing in mind that he is a spike tail, and thus has many different needs from swimmers.
Spike seems to get along well with his siblings, but he remains closest to Ducky. Their relationship was briefly rifted, however, in The Land Before Time VIII: The Big Freeze, after his snoring (referred to as "Sleep Rumbling" by the characters) kept Ducky awake at night, and after he ate the lunch their mother had packed specifically for her. Ducky consulted Cera on how to express her anger, and gave Spike the cold shoulder. Spike felt depressed over this, until he met Tippy, a boy from the wandering Spike Tail herd who had entered the Great Valley. After Spike spent more and more time with Tippy and the herd, and eventually migrated away from the valley during the cold times with them, Ducky saw what her actions had done, and went out after Spike. At the end of the film, when they were reunited, Ducky claimed never to let Spike's snoring get in the way of their relationship again.
Spike often expresses concern for Ducky when she is unhappy, such as in The Land Before Time VII: The Stone of Cold Fire, when Ducky feels pity for Petrie after Cera insulted him, Spike inquires if Ducky is hungry, before she explains what is actually bothering her. He also gives her gifts out of brotherly kindness; an example being in "Search for the Sky Color Stones", when he is the first to find a sky color stone, and offers it to Ducky (though she mistakes him to be trying to eat it).
Other main characters
Cera often gets irritated by Spike's eating habits, and the problems they often cause, as in The Land Before Time VII: The Stone of Cold Fire, when Spike eats a flower on the vine the gang is using to cross the canyon, and bites through the vine, sending them swinging into a cave. Cera angrily tells him not to do such a thing again. Cera notes with disdain upon Spike's eating when singing in the song "Family" from The Land Before Time VIII: The Big Freeze, and in the television episode "The Canyon of Shiny Stones"; when Cera wants to make up for losing Tria's shiny stone, and Petrie suggests bringing her tonnes of treesweets, she remarks that Spike will eat them all before they get to her. Spike is shown to occasionally be neutral towards Cera's opinions, or upset by them, as in the aforementioned instance from the seventh film, he calmly shrugs her order off, and in the aforementioned episode, he blithely nods in response to Cera's statement, but frowns upon realizing that it was a biting remark.
Cera is also shown to be annoyed by Spike's habit of going off-course on their adventures in the episode "Through the Eyes of a Spiketail". At the same time, each of them is shown to be concerned for each other in times of trouble, as when Spike is nearly carried off by the current in the episode "The Star Day Celebration", and the vine the others use to pull him to safety snaps, Cera hastily fetches a long stick to perform the task with. Spike has helped Cera on other occasions, as in The Land Before Time V: The Mysterious Island, when Cera is flung off the log by the swimming sharptooth, and swims back, Spike and Littlefoot help her up again. The two have collaborated on tasks as well, such as in The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure, when the two of them pushed a rock onto Papa Sharptooth's head while he and his wife were attacking the Great Valley in search of Chomper.
Spike and Petrie seem to get along well together, and Petrie usually tries to help or encourage Spike whenever he is in trouble or reluctant to do something. In The Land Before Time VI: The Secret of Saurus Rock, when Spike is afraid to jump on the pillars in the canyon, Petrie urges him on, telling him it will be alright. Later, when Spike gets stuck in the hole in the hollow tree trunk over the same canyon, and the Allosaurus which had been pursuing the children begins to near them, Petrie and Littlefoot together try to help him get free in time.
Spike seems to be on good terms with Littlefoot, Ruby and Chomper. Ruby seems to understand Spike almost as well as Ducky does, stating at the end of the episode "Through the Eyes of a Spiketail" that she sometimes wishes she were more like him. Chomper voluntarily teaches Spike to use his "sniffer" (Chomper's affectionate term for his nose) for tracking things down, like he does with his own, in the episode "The Lonely Journey". Littlefoot seemed the most sorry, next to Ducky, that Spike was departing in The Land Before Time VIII: The Big Freeze, and explained to the others with Mama Swimmer's help that Spike was still family to them because of their strong friendship with him, regardless of his differences.
Spike quickly befriended Tippy, a young Spiketail boy from a wandering herd, when the herd arrived in the Great Valley in The Land Before Time VIII: The Big Freeze. Tippy's mother invited Spike to meet the rest of the herd, and upon doing so, Spike immediately fitted in with them, and began spending most of his time with them. When the herd had to leave the Great Valley, due to a food shortage brought on by the cold times (winter), the herd invited Spike to join them, though he only accepted when Ducky angrily told him to.
In the TV episode "The Forbidden Friendship", when Tippy and his herd return to the Great Valley, the leader of the herd gets into an argument with Mr. Threehorn, and each side is estranged from each other, but Spike and Tippy continue to play together in secret.
The character of Spike was inspired by Don Bluth's pet Chowhound, Cubby. Although Bluth mentioned in an interview in 1990 that he did not really care for the film, which he thought had been too slow-paced, he has said that he likes the character Spike; describing him as "a pure soul, simple, accommodating, and eager to please."
In Template:Film, Spike's design was modified; he no longer had any small spikes on his tail and has less developed ridges along his back. This is presumably to make him easier for the animators to draw, but, compared to the character Cera's modification, Spike's isn't as drastic.
In the TV series he was modified again to not have horizontal lines across his belly in many scenes. This is again presumably to make him easier for the animators to draw, as TV series are usually lower budget than movies. A part from a slight color change, Spike's like the most of characters in the series drawn less detailed and takes a drastic change in his face, with his snout be slimmer and yet longer (though there are scenes where he is drawn with his designs from the movies).
In the original Land Before Time, Spike laughs on one occasion; it was provided by John Ranft. Although with little dialogue, Spike has been voiced by Rob Paulsen from Template:Film to present, with the exception of Template:Film in which the character's voice is credited as being provided by Jeff Bennett. In the Land Before Time episode "Through the Eyes of a Spiketail", Paulsen uses a deep voice when speaking the character's thoughts.
Hal Hinson of The Washington Post described Spike as "blobby and lethargic" in his review on The Land Before Time. British journalist MJ Simpson, in his review on The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure, considered the character to be "the dinosaur equivalent of the 'fat kid'". In her review on the fourth movie, The Land Before Time IV: Journey through the Mists, Bonnie Sayers of Epinion.com said she was pleased with the scene in which Spike unexpectedly calls for Ducky when she is nearly eaten by Dil. On Digitally Obsessed.com, Dale Dobson said the plot in The Land Before Time VIII: The Big Freeze revolving around Spike choosing between his family and the wandering Stegasaurus herd was genuinely emotional, and made such issues surrounding family and diversity easy for viewing children to understand. Brian Webster of Apollo Movie Guide said on that plot in The Big Freeze that he was alright with Spike effectively "having his cake and eating it too", as he did not approve of the idea of having cartoon characters teaching young children about the more difficult life lessons, namely those regarding family break-up, cross-cultural adoption and blended families. Nor did he believe that most parents would.
Although considerably popular with critics and fans of the series, the character Spike has not had a very noticeable influence on culture. At the same time, fans often use the nickname given to Spike on the official Land Before Time website, "Gentle Giant Spike", when referencing the character.
The character's most notable impact is in merchandise. To promote The Land Before Time when it first hit the theatres in 1988, Amblin Entertainment, in an alliance with Pizza Hut, issued handpuppets of Spike, along with Littlefoot, Cera, Ducky, and Petrie. Many toys and other merchandise related to the character, including plush dolls, beanbags, action figures, and others have since been issued.
Spike is the main figure on the front cover of the DVD Through the Eyes of a Spiketail, due to the DVD containing the episode of the same name, among others.
References in media
- The original main characters (Littlefoot, Cera, Ducky, Petrie, and Spike) are altogether referenced in question 43 of "Test 6: Animation", in Test-Prep Your IQ with the Essentials of Film, in which the question concerns which character is not a dinosaur.
- They are referenced together again in the "Throwback Trivia" in The Good Book for Great Times by Connor Pritchard and Dominic Russo.
- Spike has so far appeared in all of the films, and all but one of the episodes of the television series. He does not appear in "The Great Egg Adventure", because he is at the mud pools, together with Cera and Ruby. The mud pools play no part in the story.
- Spike was incorrectly referred to as an Ankylosaurus in the 1989 book Geolog, by the Geological Association of Canada. This is most likely due to the main characters being made up of a majority of Cretaceous dinosaurs from North America, however this principal might not be the case since Littlefoot had been referred to as a Brachiosaurus, rather than a Alamosaurus, which closely resembles an Apatosaurus.
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