[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/spiral_zone_dvd_7817.jpg]]
[[quoteright:350:~~WesternAnimation AdventureSeries, ScienceFiction~~]]

A syndicated SixtyFiveEpisodeCartoon from 1987, ''Spiral Zone'' has an unusually dark storyline for an 80s MerchandiseDriven action cartoon, complete with nods to the AfterTheEnd and ZombieApocalypse genres.

ExtyYearsFromNow (specifically, the far-flung future of 2007), a MadScientist/DiabolicalMastermind code-named Overlord covers much of the planet with his Spiral Zone, a dense, fog-like atmosphere which envelops about half the Earth in a spiral pattern. Inside the Zone, any unprotected person becomes a yellow-eyed, disfigured "Zoner" with no free will. Overlord and his enforcers, a motley crew of hardened criminals called the Black Widows, effectively [[MindControl control the minds]] of millions of Zoners, and they won't stop until they've enslaved the entire world.

The heroes of this bleak future are the Zone Riders, an elite team of "Earth's most powerful soldiers" led by Colonel Dirk Courage. The Zone Riders travel the world, engaging Overlord and the Black Widows in battle, destroying their existing Zone Generators (thus automatically freeing every Zoner in the vicinity), and trying to prevent them from conquering any more territory. However, both sides are waging a desperate war of attrition, with no end in sight.

Most notable nowadays for having a theme song that ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCpMl8UK1SY freakin' kicks.]]''

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!!Tropes:

* SixtyFiveEpisodeCartoon
* TheAhnold: "Tank" Schmidt of the Zone Riders is an {{Expy}} of Creator/ArnoldSchwarzenegger.
* AllThereInTheManual: Parts of Overlord's past and FreudianExcuse are only revealed in the ComicBookAdaptation.
* AnimationBump: By Creator/{{AKOM}} of all companies as per WordOfGod (aka Peter [=DeCelles=])
* {{Animesque}}: A borderline example, because the show originated with the Americanized version of a Japanese action figure line.
* AssimilationPlot: Overlord's high concept behind the Spiral Zone.
* ATeamFiring: Partially justified since the Zoners (the zombies produced by the Zone Generators) are mainly civilians armed with military-grade weapons by the Black Widows, who regard them as CannonFodder.
** Occasionally Zoners who are trained combatants appear, usually displaying competent fighting abilities. Particularly, in "The Best Fighting Men in the World", Overlord zones a Green Berets base, forcing the Zone Riders to fight on his own terms.
* AppliedPhlebotinum: The Zone Riders and the Black Widows use differing methods to protect themselves from the Spiral Zone's MindControl effect.
* AwesomeAussie: Ned Tucker of the Zone Riders.
* BadFuture: By now, it's AlternateHistory.
* BadassBookworm[=/=]NerdActionHero: Creator/BenjaminFranklin Davis of the Zone Riders.
* CatchPhrase: Two: Dirk Courage's "Zone Riders, hit it!" and Overlord's "Black Widows, withdraw!", much to his consternation.
* UsefulNotes/{{Chicago}}: The home of Max Jones of the Zone Riders, and setting of "Zone with Big Shoulders".
* ClipShow: Five of them.
* ComicBookAdaptation: It was published by Creator/DCComics while the show was still in production.
** Long Island publisher A-10 Comics [[http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150884490001813&set=a.10150884055051813.401717.363854976812&type=1&theater announced]] a new ''Spiral Zone'' comic for October 2012, but as of January 2014 it hasn't been published yet.
* CoolBike: The Zone Rider, a OneWheeledWonder motorcycle used by [[CaptainObvious the Zone Riders]].
** MonowheelMayhem: The Rimfire Cannon, Dirk Courage's custom ride.
* CrazyCulturalComparison: One of the Black Widows is captured but appears to be organizing his fellow inmates. The Zone Riders plan to send someone undercover to learn what he's up to, and Katarina volunteers. Dirk appreciates her enthusiasm but has to gently explain to her that American prisons aren't coed.
* DarkerAndEdgier: This show wasn't afraid to be scary. A couple episodes mentioned that some people would rather enter the zone and lose their free will rather than starve or some such.
* DragonLady: The title gangster in "Lair of the Jade Scorpion".
* {{EMP}}: The Black Widows use one to disable the Zone Riders' equipment in "Back to the Stone Age."
** RockBeatsLaser: The Zone Riders still save the day, thanks to a group of Australian aborigines who teach them how to use primitive weaponry.
*** Although they ended up doing so with a fresh allotment of working weapons and vehicles.
* EmperorScientist: Overlord.
* EspeciallyZoidberg: Used in "Small Packages".
* ExpositoryThemeTune: The series begins InMediasRes with no proper introduction to the setting, so the entire premise is laid out in the show's theme song; the terrorist attack which resulted in the creation of the titular "Spiral Zone" and led to the events of the cartoon isn't depicted until ''54 episodes into the series'', shortly before the end.
* EvilBrit: Duchess Dire.
* ExtyYearsFromNow
* FakeBrit: Creator/MonaMarshall as Duchess Dire and Creator/FrankWelker as Dr. Lawrence.
* FrenchJerk: Crook of the Black Widows.
* GadgeteerGenius: Dr. Lawrence, the British inventor who provides the Zone Riders' equipment.
* TheGreatPoliticsMessUp: It's the early 21st century, but the [[SovietRussiaUkraineAndSoOn Soviet Union]] still exists. However, they're working with the Western powers in an EnemyMine setup to destroy the Spiral Zone.
* HelicopterPack: The Kopterpack.
* HotScientist: Katerina Anastasia of the Zone Riders.
* HumbleHero: In the ClipShow episode "Profiles in Courage", a reporter tries to get each of the Zone Riders to describe his/her own heroism. Instead, they praise their teammates and the brave civilians who have helped them out. {{Lampshaded}} when the frustrated reporter asks Dirk "Don't you people ever talk about yourselves?"; Dirk's response is a LittleNo.
* ItsPersonal: Two of the Zone Riders, Max and Tank, have family trapped in the Zone. Also, several episodes feature friends and relatives of both the Zone Riders and the Black Widows getting caught up in the conflict.
* Creator/JMichaelStraczynski: He wrote the pilot episode, "Mission Into Evil", then left the show after a dispute with the producers. "Mission Into Evil" was credited to the pseudonym "Fettes Gray".
* KnifeNut: Razorback of the Black Widows.
* LandDownUnder: The Australian outback is the setting of "Back to the Stone Age", and homeland of Ned Tucker of the Zone Riders.
* LawyerFriendlyCameo: Promotional material strongly implies that the Black Widow "Bandit" is actually notorious terrorist [[Literature/TheDayOfTheJackal Carlos]] [[Film/TheJackal the Jackal]]. In 1987, Carlos was believed to be a criminal mastermind; when he was finally arrested in 1994, he turned out to be just a poser.
* LimitedAnimation: The majority of the series falls into this. Largely due to poor outsourcing.
* MasterOfDisguise: Bandit of the Black Widows.
* MerchandiseDriven
* MindControl: The entire premise of the series.
* MirroredConfrontationShot: On the cover of the DC comic's fourth issue. Later reused for the DVD cover shown above.
* MultinationalTeam: Both the Zone Riders and the Black Widows.
* NeverSayDie
* UsefulNotes/NewYorkCity: The Black Widows' headquarters are in the Chrysler Building.
* NoOntologicalInertia: Once a Zoner is removed from the Spiral Zone, s/he quickly returns to normal with no lasting effects.
* NonLethalWarfare: A JustifiedTrope because the Zone Riders don't want to hurt the victimized Zoners, and the Black Widows need LifeEnergy to power their Zone Generators.
* UsefulNotes/{{Philadelphia}}: Setting of "Overlord's Mystery Woman".
* PowerAtAPrice: The Black Widows' "Widow Maker" device immunizes them from the Spiral Zone's MindControl effect--at the cost of leaving them hideously disfigured.
* PowerPincers: The Black Widows' Snapper Claws backpack has them.
* ProductPlacement: Besides the obvious MerchandiseDriven element, in one episode Tank gives a hospitalized girl a ''[[WesternAnimation/PoundPuppies1980s Pound Puppies]]'' doll. At the time, both the ''Spiral Zone'' and ''Pound Puppies'' toy lines were made by Tonka.
* QuirkyMinibossSquad: While the Black Widows are serious villains, it's amusing to watch them continually betray each other as they curry Overlord's favor.
* UsefulNotes/StLouis: Setting of "Island in the Zone".
* SixthRanger: Ned Tucker and Ben Davis for the Zone Riders, Crook and Rawmeat for the Black Widows.
* TheSmurfettePrinciple: The Zone Riders and the Black Widows have one female member each. Naturally, the heroic Zone Rider, Katerina Anastasia, is a Russian hottie (with a science degree to boot) because BeautyEqualsGoodness. Meanwhile, evil Black Widow Duchess Dire is grotesquely disfigured by a patch of red chitinous carapace covering half her skull (and sports an ominous "zoner" yellow eye as well), although her male teammates are equally ugly.
* TheSquad: The Zone Riders.
* TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture: The show still looks like this, even though its setting is now in the recent past.
* {{Unobtainium}}: Neutron-90, the rare material that the Zone Riders' uniforms are made from; it protects the soldiers from the Spiral Zone's MindControl effect.
* VillainProtagonist: The show occasionally attempts to depict Overlord as a sympathetic villain who only wants to rule the world so he can bring peace and order to it, but he's such a horrible villain that this isn't pulled off very well.
* WellIntentionedExtremist: Colonel Conrad in "Zone of Darkness".
* YouCantMakeAnOmelette: Ned uses this exact phrase in "Oversight".
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