http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/lt/max2.jpg
-->''"This is Edison Carter, coming to you very much live and direct on Network 23."''

Back in the 1980s, it looked like computers were going to be able to do just about anything. It also looked like [[JapanTakesOverTheWorld Japanese businessmen were going to economically conquer the world]]. And it looked like corporate greed was going to grow and grow until the average citizen was a virtual slave to the mega-corporations who would happily destroy the environment, culture, history, and basic human liberty all in the name of profit. [[HarsherInHindsight Come to think of it, not much has changed and those things look more likely to happen now than back in the 1980s]] (only with [[ChinaTakesOverTheWorld China]] instead of Japan).

Max Headroom, a plastic-coated stammering faux-CGI host full of sardonic wit played by the frankly underrated Canadian actor Matt Frewer, made his debut in April of 1985 in a British one hour pilot entitled ''Max Headroom: Twenty Minutes Into The Future''.

Though Max was the star of the show, he was really a very minor character. The story followed intrepid reporter Edison Carter (also Frewer) and his [[MissionControl "controller"]] (i.e. director) Theora (Amanda Pays, who later played fanfic-favorite Phoebe Green on ''Series/TheXFiles'') as he attempted to uncover a conspiracy revolving around the {{Blipvert}}, a highly compressed advertisement his station had recently adopted, which had the unfortunate side effect of causing some viewers to explode. In his daring escape from security with orders to kill, he is gravely injured when he crashes his motorcycle into a gatepost.

A totally unlikable TeenGenius generates an AI copy of Carter's mind to cover up his disappearance, but the copy is somewhat unstable and has a bad stammer. He takes his name from [[LineOfSightName the last thing Edison had seen]] before his injury: a sign on the gatepost reading "MAX HEADROOM: 2.3 METERS".

The pilot wasn't picked up, but the rights to the Max Headroom character were sold to the makers of a music-video program on British television, on which Max appeared later in 1985. The Max Headroom show was the first to play with the music-video format, with Max frequently talking over lousy videos and making jokes, or cutting the video off partway through, a technique later picked up by BeavisAndButthead and other satirical video shows. The character was later picked up by Coca-Cola, for a series of TV spots for New Coke and appeared on T-shirts and mer-'''''*BZZZZZZZZZZT*'''''

''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWdgAMYjYSs That does it! He's a freakin nerd *giggles* ...yeah im better than Chuck Swirsky, frikin liberallllllllll--l-l--ll-l-l]]''

'''''*BZZZZZZZZZT*''''' Er, [[DoNotAdjustYourSet we apologize about]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Headroom_broadcast_signal_intrusion_incident that]]. Moving on. Max Headroom was a huge hit, especially in the UK. But it was in the US that the pilot was picked up. Sort of. It was remade by Lorimar in 1987 as the first episode of the ''Series/MaxHeadroom'' TV series, keeping only Frewer, Pays, and Morgan Sheppard (Blank Reg) from the original cast, and substantially rewriting the second half of the movie (but using all the video effects so the money budgeted to effects could be used elsewhere). The TeenGenius was changed from a villain to an unwitting patsy, and Max's role was greatly increased; in the original, Max and Edison never met, and Max spent the rest of the movie as a VJ for a pirate TV station. In the series, he and Edison became partners, breaking the Blipvert story together.

''Series/MaxHeadroom'' strayed back and forth between BlackComedy and (mostly) serious CyberPunk for two half-seasons before being cancelled and largely forgotten. Many believe the network intentionally killed it, scheduling it opposite two hugely popular shows, ''{{Dallas}}'' and ''MiamiVice'' (where, ironically, Matt Frewer played a villain in a two-parter shortly after his show was cancelled).

The world presented by the show was strange and unwieldy, full of corporate greed, corrupt politics (elections to all political offices were decided by TV ratings: each network backed a candidate, and the highest rated network at the close of polling got their man installed), and a legal system that could not possibly have worked (it was illegal to turn a television off, books were banned in order to disenfranchise those who couldn't afford pay-per-view educational TV, bloodsports were mainstream, and trials for all but the rich and powerful were carried out in game show format). Also, everything had [[WeWillUseWikiWordsInTheFuture silly sci-fi names]]: "Blipverts", "Baby Grobags", "Credit Tubes", "Neurostim", etc.

The character was resurrected in 2008 as part of Creator/ChannelFour 's marketing for the digital switchover, in a [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRtjEfw-mSE number of (full-length) adverts]]. In 2010, [[http://www.amazon.com/Max-Headroom-Complete-Lenticular-Cover/dp/B00005JNU5/ref=pd_bxgy_d_text_b it was announced that the US series would be getting a DVD release in August of that year, with an amusing lenticular cover.]] The DVD set includes a bonus disc with behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Episode recaps can be seen [[{{Recap/MaxHeadroom}} here]].
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!!''Series/MaxHeadroom'' is the TropeNamer for:
* {{Blipvert}}
* TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture

!!''Series/MaxHeadroom'' provides examples of:
* AdBumpers: As was common in one-hour primetime TV shows at the time:
-->'''Max''': And I'll-I'll-I'll be back in a few moments with more from Network 23.
* AdvertOverloadedFuture: The very premise of the series.
* AlmostKiss: At the end of ''Blanks.''
* ArsonMurderAndJaywalking: In the world of Corporate control, there's one crime you better dare not commit:
-->'''Cheviot:''' "Credit fraud?! My God, that's worse than murder!"
* BigBrotherIsWatching: Insofar as the Networks have effectively become the government, Edison could often use the threat of his camera on uncooperative leads.
** The protagonists often exploit ubiquitous surveillance to learn things their [[CorruptCorporateExecutive superiors]] want to remain hidden.
* BlackComedy: Throughout the series.
-->'''Breughel:''' I love babies. They're very sweet...[[BlackComedy especially with pickles.]]
* {{Blipvert}}: TropeNamer
* BrainUploading: How Max was created. The process was less than perfect, and Bryce only allocated enough of 23's system memory to simulate the head and shoulders. Max stutters because the 23 mainframe's video memory bus wasn't QUITE fast enough to generate the 3D image frames of Max in real time ("it takes a moment to read out the frame store"). In later episodes the "Max Headroom process" is brought up as a potential method of saving the life of a terminally ill billionaire as well as letting those visiting graves talk to their departed loved ones via a "Max" type image in the headstone.
* ComputerizedJudicialSystem: With floppy disks!
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: Ned Grossberg. Many of the other network executives have their moments as well.
* CrapsackWorld: Let's put it this way: Instead of foodstamps, the government gives the needy free TV sets.
** [[UpToEleven And only because]] the TV is used mainly for [[MoreThanMindControl population control.]]
* CyberPunk: One of the first television shows to apply this trope.
* DitzyGenius: Bryce Lynch. The most prominent example being when Grossberg says (over Carter's unconscious body) that they need to know how much Carter knows about the adverse effects of Blipverts; Bryce suggests they ask him when he wakes up.
** Also when Grossberg mentions that it would be unfortunate if the public discovered that the Blipverts were making people explode, Bryce suggests they don't tell them.
* EngagingConversation: Notable in that it's the woman who pulls out the "marry me!" gag.
* EvenEvilHasStandards: Grossberg, on stealing babies: "Carter, you've got to believe me. What you speak of is even beyond ''me!''"
* EverythingIsOnline: The way the internet in this show was shown to work, one could very well hack into a tree if they wanted.
* {{Flanderization}}: A vague-but-important UK-Japan business deal in the original TV movie balloons into JapanTakesOverTheWorld in the TV series.
* GladiatorGames: In "Rakers" Carter investigates the rise of the violent sport of raking, which involves skateboard riders with weapons fighting each other.
* HollywoodHacking: Complete with RapidFireTyping and a ShoutOut to WilliamGibson with the term "ICE" (Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics).
* HotLibrarian: Theora.
* HumanResources: Breughel and Mahler's primary source of income is disposing of corpses for other criminals by selling them to body banks, which harvest the organs for use as transplants.
* ICantBelieveItsNotHeroin: The episodes "Whakets" and "Neurostim" feature a game show that broadcasts an addictive subliminal signal and a bracelet that implants images of a perfect life (and the urge to buy everything to make that perfect life a reality) into wearers' heads, respectively.
* InstantAIJustAddWater: Insufficient resources are mentioned in the episode "Deities" to be the reason that the Vu-Age Church's BrainUploading process only created an "idiot version" of the deceased that could only respond to people in a pre-programmed manner; whereas the system resources of Network 23's mainframe made Max Headroom, a complete artificial intelligence, possible.
* {{Irony}}: It's made clear in one episode that Edison doesn't know what Chernobyl was. This is rather shocking since one of the basic foundations of journalism is a good grasp of history. (This is even stranger since Max knows, and Edison doesn't!)
** Not ''that'' strange, as it was clear that Max could learn things for himself, either observing through cameras and microphones or investigating online sources of information ("I wonder where this wire goes...?").
*** FridgeBrilliance in effect: the networks have censored it, but Max was created in the very computers that would still have access to this information.
* LanternJawOfJustice: Both Edison and Max, but the "of justice" part usually only applies to Edison, since Max generally prefers snark and mischief over heroism.
* LineOfSightName
* LostForever: The original footage for the series didn't survive, making it impossible to remaster the TV series for DVD. Hence the [=DVDs=] were made from video tape transfers.
* MaxTrope: Max Headroom. Duh. (Also doubles as a PunnyName.)
* MissionControl: Theora, and occasionally Murray.
* MythologyGag: In the TV series, as Blank Reg is watching Max's telecast he notes: "What I could do with one of him." In the original movie, Max ended up at Big Time Television.
* OnlyInItForTheMoney: Breughel and Mahler are more than willing to turn on their employers if someone else makes them a better offer.
* PercussiveMaintenance: On a coffee maker, no less!
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: As president of Network 23, Ben Cheviot's top priorities are always increasing ratings and trying not to antagonize Zik Zak, their biggest sponsor. However, he does have a moral compass, and he's a tough but fair boss to Edison and Murray, which is a vast improvement over his predecessor, CorruptCorporateExecutive Ned Grossberg.
* [[ThePiratesWhoDontDoAnything Terrorists Who Don't Do Anything]]: Deconstructed in the episode "War" where the organization White Brigade has struck a deal with a news reporter: they blow up abandoned buildings, and tell the reporter beforehand. The terrorists get publicity for their cause, and the reporter can break the news about the "terrorist strikes" before the competition without anyone actually dying. Everyone wins. Subverted in the end, as the White Brigade decides to start targeting populated places after all.
* SchizoTech: TropeNamer for TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture- but the cars were all from TheFifties.
** And whenever a computer keyboard was shown, it was actually the keyboard from an antique manual typewriter.
* ScrewedByTheNetwork: LifeImitatesArt.
** Or rather, [[InvertedTrope he screwed with the network.]]
* SecondhandStorytelling: In "Body Banks", Edison mentions a long conversation he had with Max the night before, wherein Max asks him many questions concerning his memories and what they mean. Script-writer Steve Roberts mentions that the one thing they were unable to do in the show was actually have a real-time conversation between Max and Edison, with the two reacting to each other. (Every time someone talked to Max, they were talking to an empty screen or pre-recorded footage, unlike the video phone conversations where the actor was actually talking to another actor on another set in real-time.) Matt Frewer on his part has told in an interview how the separately filmed Max Headroom scenes had to be choreographed to match the other actors: Say the line, stay quiet while "listening", look left towards one person, look right towards another...
* {{Soul Fragment}}: Edison's relation to Max.
* SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute: Rick Ducommun wasn't able to reprise his role as Mahler for the second season, so the writers replaced him with another character, justifying the swap by having Breughel [[BusCrash kill the original Mahler offscreen]] during a slow business night, selling his corpse off, and naming his new partner "Mahler" as a mocking tribute.
* TeenGenius: Bryce
** In the TV series, Bryce is an unusually likeable example of this trope in large part because of the fact that he was depicted as a normal 15-year-old boy in terms of his personality, maturity and sense of humour who happened to be a genius. The TV movie Bryce, on the other hand, is more irritating than Wesley Crusher and Adric combined. And, you know, evil.
* ThoseTwoBadGuys: Breughel and Mahler
* TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture: TropeNamer -- appears onscreen at the start of the movie and every TV episode.
** In the TV series, Bryce Lynch was born in 1988, and Chris Young was 16 when he played him, so the setting can be pinned down to the year 2004.
*** Give or take a couple of years. Bryce's age is never mentioned on the show, and characters aren't necessarily the same age as the actors who play them.
* VideoPhone: Featured several times on the show. It ''is'' TheFuture, after all.
* VirtualCelebrity: Take a wild guess.
* VoiceWithAnInternetConnection: Probably the TropeCodifier in its "with Internet" form. When the show was made, AOL was brand new, CompuServe was hip and hot, college students were just starting to get email addresses, and the Web was still years away. Nevertheless, Theora and the other controllers clearly are accessing something Internet-like and providing the info to Edison et al. This was terribly prescient at the time, but now suffers from SeinfeldIsUnfunny.
* WeWillNotUsePhotoshopInTheFuture: Thoroughly averted. A central theme in the series is the disparity between reality and what is depicted in the media. And whether the image provided by the media is actually more real to the masses than the "real" reality. Just think about it for a while...
* WeWillUseWikiWordsInTheFuture
* WhatIsThisThingYouCallLove: How Max is able to get Security Systems' A-7 computer to [[HeelFaceTurn turn against the corporation and help Edison]].
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman: "For God's sake, treat A-7 with some respect-spect! She's not just a machiiiiiiine...!"
* WickedCultured: Breughel has a predilection for quoting classical literature.
-->Physician, heal thyself! (While looking at the corpse of a dead doctor).
* {{Yakuza}}: Revealed to be the owners of the omnipresent [=ZikZak=] Corporation
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