Franchise / LEGO

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Occupying children's hands and imaginations and bedeviling parents' feet since 1949.

"Just imagine."
The LEGO Group's motto in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The LEGO Group, founded in 1932 in Denmark, is world-famous for its connecting plastic bricks. The company's name comes from the Danish phrase "leg godt", which translates into English as "play well". While not an influence on the name, the fact that "LEGO" can also mean "I build" in Latin has been embraced by the LEGO Group. The product is legally identified as LEGO bricks, not "LEGOs", and the fandom will be unfailingly quick to remind you of that fact. Experts on children have called them the ideal toy — they're easy to use, are infinitely expandable and foster creativity. And by infinitely expandable, they mean infinitely expandable — even the earliest bricks made in the 1960s, when they first started their construction toy business, are 100% compatible with bricks manufactured today. They are also (nearly) infinite permutations on how you can combine them, with only 6 of the basic 2 by 4 bricks being able to be combined 915 million different ways!

Over the decades, in addition to selling basic boxes of bricks, LEGO has produced a vast array of "themes", collections of related playsets devoted to a general setting and concept (and occasionally, an overarching story), exploring a diverse range of time periods, places, jobs, characters, genres and even styles of building. See LEGO Themes for an index of trope pages for these themes.

Since 1997, LEGO has given the licence to make Video Games based on various themes to innumerable game developers, and as such there is a very sizable array of LEGO-based games. These include:

The LEGO Group has also released a feature-length DVD movie, LEGO: The Adventures of Clutch Powers.

The LEGO Group started a ninja-themed Ninjago set in 2011. A four episode pilot was created and Cartoon Network greenlit two 13-episode TV seasons based on the set. In 2013, after the conclusion of the Ninjago series, an anthropomorphic animal-themed Legends of Chima set and corresponding cartoon were introduced, followed by another season of Ninjago premiering in 2014. Mixels, a set and corresponding short series, began the same year. Some don't realize that it has anything to do with a LEGO toy line, at all, though.

Phil Lord and Chris Miller (the 21 Jump Street movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Clone High) penned and directed the first live-action/animated theatrical LEGO movie, called The LEGO Movie, released in 2014. And, as the first trailer reveals, the movie itself takes from both classic LEGO characters as well as its newer licensed success; Batman is a main character (with cameos from Superman, Wonder Woman, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and others) along side one of the generic Builder dudes. Here's the first trailer. And Universal picked up the rights to produce the first movie based on Hero Factory, the Spiritual Successor to BIONICLE.

Prior to 1999, the LEGO Group avoided adapting licensed properties, reasoning (logically), that LEGO was its own very successful property. In 1999, that changed, with the LEGO Star Wars line, which was insanely successful. The LEGO Group now has a myriad of licenses. (It's almost easier to list the ones they don't include: those owned by other toy companies (e.g., Transformers, Halo), those not age-appropriate (e.g., James Bond), and Star Trek, which is thoroughly locked up by Hasbro.)

Here (to be representative) are some of their big licenses, and some of their small(er) ones:

In addition to those, there are many, many others.

To say it's popular is an understatement. Now if only one could afford those high, high prices...


LEGO itself provides examples of:

  • Actual Pacifist: The creator of LEGO, Ole Kirk Christiansen, having lived through WWII, was one. It is for this reason that LEGO does not make military sets, and even the first gun pieces for pirates and the like in the 1990s were controversial within the company. This is also why LEGO bricks initially came in bright primary colors that didn't include green or brown; Christiansen didn't want kids to make realistic military vehicles and gear out of them (not that it actually stopped them. . .).
    • The company today is more of a Technical Pacifist that allows for Family-Friendly Firearms and stylized depictions of real weapons. Depictions of medieval or futuristic warfare are apparently fine (consider the Castle, Pirates and Star Wars sets). It's just the modern and World Wars era that LEGO firmly refuses to cover. There have been a handful of exceptions through the years, though, including a series of collector's models featuring a Sopwith Camel and a Fokker Triplane, two World War I fighter planes, as well as a handful of Indiana Jones sets featuring the Pilatus P-2 (which admittedly never saw combat, being intended as a "trainer" aircraft) plus another World War I fighter in the Albatros D.III. Furthermore, the F-86 Sabre and Mark VIII heavy tank both have official designs depicted in Lego Indiana Jones 2, but these were never released into physical sets. The Wonder Woman sets also depict World War I-era fighter planes.
    • It should be noted that this policy only extends to the weapons themselves, and there is technically nothing stopping soldiers of these periods from being depicted, Those Wacky Nazis featured in the Indiana Jones theme (albeit with No Swastikas) being the stand-out example. Likewise, the "Green Army Men" from the Toy Story line are a hand and head swap away from becoming 50s American GIs, who likewise have counterparts in the Soviet soldiers who also hail from the Indiana Jones sets.
  • Agony of the Feet: Let's just say it's a good thing LEGO and carpet manufacturers seldom use the same colors...
  • Amusement Park of Doom: Two in the DC line; a small funhouse featuring attractions for Joker, Harley Quinn, and the Riddler, and a much larger park with rides for Joker, Harley, Poison Ivy, and the Penguin. Both sets have several traps for Batman and Robin (and Beast Boy and Starfire) to face.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Since its very easy to lose the manuals for sets over time, Lego has posted the instructions for thousands of the sets online to read free of charge. You can see them here.
    • They came out with a Brick Seperator as a handy way of pulling apart particularly stubborn bricks without risking harm to you or damage to the bricks. As an added bonus, it can be used as an actual Lego piece in of itself.
    • The (sadly long discontinued) Lego Brick Vac, a hand operated gadget that lets you roll up Lego pieces quickly into one bin to save you the trouble of picking them all up while saving your feet from a world of pain as a welcome bonus.
    • In leiu of the Brick Vac, Lego has released official Lego Slippers to help protect users feet from the bricks.
    • If you break a brick or a certain part of a set or simply misplace part of it (very common with small parts like Studs) you can buy replacement pieces (over 11,000 to choose from) from the Lego website. In general, the fact that Lego sets largely consist of common parts, almost all of which are modular to begin with, makes it fairly easy to replace certain bricks with ones taken from other Lego sets.
  • Built with LEGO: Naturally, and especially at a convention by fans. Rule of thumb; if it exists, you can make a Lego of it.
  • Call-Back: The Scooby-Doo sets feature stickers that depict Johnny Thunder and the Prospector (from Minifigures Series 12) on them.
  • Darker and Edgier: Some of the monster designs in the Monster Fighters theme are merely more serious and played-straight versions of figures from the Minifigures line, like Lord Vampyre, the Crazy Scientist, his Monster, and the Mummy.
  • Design-It-Yourself Equipment: The only limits to what you can make with Lego are the number of bricks you own and your imagination. And for those who can't afford the sets, theres always the free Lego Digital Designer program, which allows you to build virtually any Lego set you desire.
  • Disney Owns This Trope: Averted. The patent for the bricks expired long ago, and Lego has so far been unsuccessful in their efforts to trademark their iconic 2x4 brick, hence why you'll find very similar brands of construction sets like Mega Blocks on the market. Hasn't stopped Lego from trying to take legal action against them time and time again, though.
  • Double-Meaning Title: See above.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The earliest Lego products weren't even construction bricks but wooden toys. They didn't even start making plastic toys until 1947, and it took another couple years before they even made their first precursor to a Lego brick, the Automatic Binding Brick.
    • And even then, the brick in its iconic form wasn't finalized until 1958, and the bricks before that had limited interlocking and a less modular design.
    • The bricks from 1949 to 1957 were also made of cellulose acetate, while the bricks from 1958 and on are madr with ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) polymer.
    • Minifigs weren't introduced until 1975, and the earliest ones prior to 1978 had no faces, arms or movable legs.
  • Epic Fail: The DC Super Heroes line introduced the Super Jumper, a stand for mini-figures that worked like a jumping frog toy; push the tab on the back, and the release force flips the stand and mini-figure into the air. However, soon after the sets' release, fans noticed that the locking system the stand used (studs to stand the figure, combined with an insert between the legs, and two inserts that snap into the back of the legs) actually damaged the plastic of the mini-figure legs. Due to the intense force necessary to attach and remove the figure, the plastic inserts scraped, warped, and occasionally cracked the plastic. Many are upset and sending complaints. Apparently, the jumper is supposed to be bent backward to insert the figure more smoothly without damage, but there are no instructions for using them.
  • Fun Size: The mini versions of their Star Wars sets, which are so small that they can fit in the palm of your hand. Some of them don't even come with boxes, but in plastic bags instead.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: See under Actual Pacifist. This was the company's stance for a long time, and to some extent it still is today. For example, you still won't see any LEGO models representing realistic military vehicles (with the exception of two collector's models featuring a Sopwith Camel and a Fokker Triplane). They aren't quite as strict about it as they used to be, though; since they were first introduced with the Pirate theme in the 1990s, stylized minifig-scale guns have appeared in the Adventurers,, Batman, Indiana Jones and Wonder Woman themes.
  • Fun with Acronyms: AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO), TFOL (Teen Fan of LEGO), MOC (My Own Creation), SNOT (Studs Not on Top), and lots more! Others include BURP (Big Ugly Rock Piece) and POOP (Piece Out of Other Pieces).
  • Impossible Hourglass Figure: Pretty much every female minifigure is printed with one, though the shape of the minifigure mold make it stand out a bit less.
  • Monster Clown: In the DC line, Joker counts, but so does the clown-face archway on Jokerland.
  • Mukokuseki: LEGO have yellow skin for this reason. There are minifigures with more realistic skin colors—usually if the figure in question is adapted from another property where the character they are based on is of a specific race to begin with.
  • No Backwards Compatibility in the Future:
    • Averted. Save for specialized parts (i.e. the Technic or Galidor line) Lego bricks are designed to be modular and universally adaptatable. A Lego brick from 1958 will absolutely work with a Lego brick from 2017.
    • Sadly, this doesn't apply to the Lego bricks made from 1949 to 1957, which have limited locking ability and lack of versatility compared to the bricks from 1958 and on.
  • Off-Model: Lego doesn't always get the accuracy of their sets right when adapting a licensed property. Their AT-ST sets after the first one are particularly bad in this regard.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: LEGO have produced a number of dragons over the years; single 'big fig' figures in the 1980s and 1990s in the same vein as LEGO horses, more advanced ones with additional articulation in the 2000s, and block-based dragons with large articulation in the 2010s Elves and Ninjago line. Almost all are quadrupedal with two additional wing limbs. The Elves line feature friendly magical dragons varying in size from a small car to a building, while previous sets - typically the Castle line - feature traditional knights and dragon slaying.
  • Serial Escalation: Lego bricks have been mathematically proven to be the most modular toy ever made, and a major factor in why theyre so popular and considered a legitimate creative tool. With only six off the shelf 2x4 bricks, there are a whopping 915,103,765 different combinations you can make out of those alone. Adding more bricks beyond that escalates the possible brick combinations into the billions and billions territory.
  • Stealth Pun: Some of their tongue-in-cheek humor counts as this. In the Brick Bank set, for example, the criminals smuggle stolen money out of the building via a hidden door in one of the washing machines ( in the neighboring shop), which leads to an empty air vent. In other words, they're money launderers.
  • Super-Deformed: The aesthetic of the Super Heroes Mighty Micros minifigures, using short legs and having simple yet exaggerated cartoon designs.
  • The Tetris Effect: Possibly the oldest living example.
  • Theme Naming: All of the Modular Buildings' names are exactly two words.
  • Tonka Tough: Lego bricks are notoriously resilient and will stand up to many years of use before they start showing any sign of wear.
  • Units Not to Scale: Particularly the Star Wars sets, where only the fighters (i.e. X-Wing) are roughly 1:1 minifig scale; other sets like the Imperial Star Destroyer or Tantive IV have major scale changes, usually with only an interior area built to minifig scale. This is to maintain sanity, because a to-scale Star Destroyer would be the size of an Olympic swimming pool.
  • Unreliable Canon: Trying to decipher the canon (outside of its more story-oriented themes such as BIONICLE) can be a real mess, though it hasn't stopped many from trying. Perhaps the greatest unreliability is the LEGO timeline and universe.
    • Some sources state that each theme takes place in its respective era. For example, LEGO Pirates takes place in the 1700s during the Golden Age of Piracy. LEGOLAND, the first LEGO Racers, and LEGO Time Cruisers LEGO Mania comics apply Time Travel as a Hand Wave for crossovers.
    • On the other hand, there are so many crossovers between LEGO themes (such as LEGO Island 2, LEGO Universe, Soccer Mania, and countless LEGO magazine comics) without the Time Travel Hand Wave that it would seem that most LEGO themes take place concurrently. For example, this means LEGO Pirates would take place in 1989, simultaneously with LEGO Space Police.
    • Other sources (such as LEGO Universe, LEGO: The Adventures of Clutch Powers, and one UFO/Fright Knights commercial) imply that all themes take place concurrently, but each on their own separate planet. For example, the 2007 LEGO Castle theme would take place in 2007 but on the castle-themed planet Ashlar.
    • The LEGO Time Cruisers comics from World Club Magazine which interprets the many LEGO themes as The Multiverse, but even within certain universes there are unexpected crossovers. For example, there's one universe which has UFO and Fright Knights interacting on Castle Planet (tying into the previously-mentioned commercial), and another universe which has Wild West, Extreme Team, Res-Q, and Adventurers all taking place simultaneously.
    • The LEGO Movie depicts all themes as taking place concurrently. They are all part of the same planet but were separated into separate theme-based zones under the rule of President Business, who dislikes crossovers. The setting of Classic LEGO Space, for example literally being a brick wall away from the settings of the Wild West and LEGO Castle themes. In reality, the entire LEGO world is the basement of "The Man Upstairs", with each zone represented by a different table. This may imply that LEGO's canon is all based on how each LEGO builder perceives it, and thus its inherent subjectivity explains why the canon is so unreliable.
    • When Everyone Is Related, things become even more unreliable. For instance, Evil Ogel is the great-great-great-great-great-grandson of Lord Vladek, implying that the two themes take place seven generations apart. But wait, there's more! The Evil Knight served under both Lord Vladek and Cedric the Bull, who has interacted with the casts of LEGO Island and Soccer Mania, both of which had a crossover with Alpha Team in one of the LEGO Magazine comics... which would imply that Alpha Team and the second Knights' Kingdom themes take place around the same time, not seven generations apart. And let's not get started on Johnny Thunder's family tree...
  • Updated Re-release: They frequently do this with their sets, most noticably with their Star Wars sets if its based on a common vehicle from the movies like the X-Wing. The original Toa from Bionicle also got rereleased like this just near the end of the original series run.
  • Under Crank: LEGO commercials use this technique—whenever the set is being thrown together in the commercial, it's actually the model being taken apart in reverse so it looks smoother and faster when played forward at faster speed.
  • You Don't Look Like You: The clown archway in Jokerland only shares the green hair, white skin, and red lips with the character who owns it. The archway has a red nose, two tufts of green hair, and a bowler hat.

Appearances in fiction:

  • In a MythBusters "viral" episode (read: they got all their ideas from highly-watched YouTube videos), they tested the plausibility of a LEGO ball the size and rough shape of the boulder seen Raiders of the Lost Ark. Didn't work, because they could not easily transport the thing, getting all the bricks was nearly impossible, they only needed a fifth of the LEGO bricks mentioned by the myth, and it broke up when it rolled. They way it bounced in the video they watched was no way near plausible for how the real ball acted.
  • One of the minor mons in the Digimon franchise is ToyAgumon. I think you can guess the toy from which it appears to be made. It also has a few Palette Swaps. Similarly, there's Omekamon, a Digimon resembling a LEGO minifigure who's drawn on himself to try cosplaying as Omegamon.
  • The card Blockman in Yu-Gi-Oh! is pretty clearly made out of LEGO bricks.
  • In Time Bandits, at least part of Evil's Fortress of Ultimate Darkness is clearly shown to be made up of giant LEGO blocks. This is one of many times that Kevin's toys appear in his adventure through time.
  • Blocken from Shaman King is a disfigured man who hides his appearance in a suit that looks like a LEGO figure and manipulates LEGO-looking blocks (which are really the spiritual energy of many rats) into various deadly shapes.
  • The bonus stages in the obscure Amiga puzzle-platformer P. P. Hammer and His Pneumatic Weapon are made of LEGO-like blocks.
  • When LEGO sculptor Nathan Sawaya appeared on The Colbert Report, he presented Stephen a lifesize LEGO Colbert. LEGO is also a popular medium for entries in the perennial Stephen Colbert Video Challenges.
  • The "free to play" MMORPG MapleStory has Ludibrium, a world made of plastic bricks and whose residents have that vaguely LEGO/Duplo/whatever-esque look.
  • The demolition derby scene in the third Futurama movie had some LEGO participants. Much as you'd imagine, their vehicle fell apart when it was destroyed.
  • Corner Gas had one episode with Hank building a model of Dog River out of LEGO, and a Dream Sequence with a LEGO Corner Gas.
  • The first question Sophie's World, a mystery novel about philosophy, asks is: Why are the LEGO bricks the best toy in the world?
  • The seventh, eighth and ninth levels of the Tom and Jerry game for Super NES is a Toy Time world where the foreground is made entirely of LEGO bricks.
  • The children's book Adventures in LEGOLAND is about a kid who visits a LEGO-themed theme park which comes to life at night and saves the day. Lucky kid.
  • In the episode "To the Lighthouse" of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, John Henry is seen building a mountain out of LEGO bricks. However, he talks about Solek on Voya Nui, when it's supposed to be Karda Nui, and the Toa protecting the Mask of Life, when they were actually trying to claim it before the Makuta do. Since John Henry is a robot with Internet access (and in fact commented that there are no ducklings on Voya Nui in that episode), it/he should know better.
  • The Viridian City Gym in Pokémon Gold and Silver looks like its walls were made of giant LEGO bricks. Sadly, the remakes HeartGold and SoulSilver don't keep this.
  • EVE Online features a building material and loot item called "Construction Bricks", with an icon resembling LEGO pieces in a small pile.
  • Block Town, the first world in Pac-Mania, is made up of LEGO blocks.
  • In the Family Guy episode "The Tan Aquatic with Steve Zissou", Man Child Peter envies a kid's LEGO collection:
    Peter: Aw, sweet! You got LEGOs, aw sweet. Lois only buys me Mega Bloks."
    Lois: They're the same, Peter.
    Peter: You know what, Lois? They are not the same. And the sooner you get that through your thick skull, the sooner we can get this marriage back on track.
  • In the old Amiga Populous game, one world your worshippers could conquer was made of LEGO. (Others included a lava world and France.)
  • In February 2010, Kingdom of Loathing added an item that let you summon BRICKO bricks, which could be used to build equipment or monsters to fight. (In a nod towards the trademark naming, the game says they should actually be called a "BRICKO™ Brand Funucational Construction System Core Unit", but nobody calls them that)
  • In Kira Is Justice, Near seems to like LEGO bricks.
  • The Servbots from Mega Man Legends resemble LEGO Minifigs.
  • The Simpsons has a fictional theme park called Blockoland, being a parody of LEGOLAND. Of course, now the series is getting its own LEGO sets. The episode "Brick Like Me" features a LEGO version of Springfield.
  • Some parts of Zoetopia in Monster Tale seem to be made of LEGO blocks. Justified in that the area also features lots of other toys, such as jacks, dominoes, and wind-up windmills, and Zoe generally follows a toys theme in her presentation.
  • In a Norwegian family TV series, based on the Danish Olsen Banden, the protagonists build a LEGO robot to climb a set of stairs and open a lock.
  • In a One Piece colourspread, the Strawhats are building a small castle out of bricks that can easily be identified as LEGO.
  • A pair of minifigures actually serve as the flight attendants of the backpack in which Barbie and Ken arrive in the Toy Story short "Hawaiian Vacation." A LEGO rabbit also appears in Toy Story of Terror!. Notably, it's able to use the bricks it's made up of to shapeshift into objects the characters need, like a stairwell,
  • Robot Chicken has several sketches wringing Black Comedy from such aspects of the LEGO world as the minifigures' Perpetual Smiler expressions, combining sets from different themes, LEGO's forays into movie licenses, minifigures' rebuildable nature, and Shoddy Knockoff Products flooding the market.
  • In Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, the last stage in the Mario Zone is made of N&B Blocks, Nintendo's own long-forgotten knockoff brand of LEGO, made back when Nintendo was a toy company.
  • One of the entities contained by the SCP Foundation is SCP-387, aka "Living Lego", self-replicating LEGO bricks that animate whatever is constructed with them (such as self-propelled cars and sentient people) and have a violent, undisclosed reaction to MegaBlocks.
  • In Ultimate Comics All New Spider-Man Miles Morales best friend Ganke Lee loves building LEGO toys.
  • The Brazilian blog and webcomic Irmãos Brain is starred by Ego, Superego and Id, three LEGO minifigures who are brothers.

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