LEGO Ninjago is a franchise of LEGO products introduced in 2011. The premise seems founded almost entirely on Rule of Cool: A group of ninja with Elemental Powers are at war with an army of similarly elementally themed undead skeletons. Both fight using the martial art called "Spinjitzu", which involves spinning at high velocity to channel elemental powers. To support their effort, the Ninja tame powerful dragons matching their elements, while the skeletons command high-tech vehicles like tanks and motorcycles. Later on they battle against the Big Bad's son who unleashes five ancient races of snake people who were the original rulers of Ninjago.A made-for-TV movie, split into four pilot episodes, was shown on Cartoon Network to promote this theme, and it was apparently successful enough that a full 13-episode TV series was greenlit, with a second season released and a third one planned for 2014. From the information released, it seems to focus around robots. In the meantime, LEGO Battles: Ninjago has been released for the Nintendo DS, and an iPhone game called "Spinjitzu Scavenger Hunt" and its Mission Pack Sequel "Rise of the Snakes" are available from iTunes.Now has a Character Page and Recap Page.
Action Girl: Nya, most noticeably in one short where she single-handedly defeats Chopov, Wyplash, Krazi, and Bonezai before Jay can realize something is wrong. Adding to that, she has a samurai alter ego with a Mini Mecha.
Big "NO!": Zane in "Tick Tock" after he discovers he's a robot.
Skales in "The Day Ninjago Stood Still" when the Serpentine are sealed underground. Again.
Kai when the Ovelord's portal bridging the Island of Darkness to Ninjago closes.
The Overlord when he's defeated.
Bluff the Impostor: Sensei Wu tells the Bizarro-Ninja about how Lloyd must be having a good time at an amusement park, when Lloyd is at the boarding school.
Body Horror: A flashback of Sensei Wu's reveals that Garmadon looks like he does because, just before falling into the underworld, he got struck by lightning, which pretty much fried his skin and exposed his bones. Even in LEGO form, it's quite disturbing to see.
Garmadon being possessed by the Overlord and the resulting transformation.
Brought Down to Normal: After losing their Golden Weapons, the Ninja, while they still have Spinjitzu, have lost the majority of their elemental powers along with them.
Built with LEGO: Played straight, being a LEGO toy line— all the characters are LEGO minifigures. However, in some media it's subtler than in others. For instance, most of the scenery in the TV episodes is stylized heavily so there are no obvious LEGO elements.
LEGO Battles: Ninjago plays this straight as a tack.
The Cake Is a Lie: Cole laments this in "Double Trouble" after being lured to Darkling School.
Chekhov's Classroom: At the beginning of "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" Nya is giving a lecture theorizing that Fangpyre venom in a person's body can be counteracted by the victim increasing their heart rate, which is how Jay cures himself later on.
Chekhov's Gun: "Ninjaball Run" has two: first Nya puts a feature in the Ultra Sonic Raider that allows the cockpit to detach and become an airborne vehicle, which the ninja use to catch up to Lord Garmadon after he creates a fissure to stop them. The second is Jay's lucky piston which he attached to the front of the Raider and allowed them to technically pass the finish line before Garmadon.
Diving Save: Cole saves his father in episode "The Royal Blacksmiths", and also gains his true potential.
The Dragon: Samukai, King of the Underworld, to Lord Garmadon, Skales to Pythor, Lord Garmadon to the Overlord, and General Cryptor to Cyrus Borg.
Dragon Ascendant: After the death of Pythor and the Great Devourer Skales tried to become this and lead the Serpentine, but Lord Garmadon won them over before he did, leaving Skales with only the other generals.
Patchwork Map: Ninjago has a lot of adjacent locations with stark, unexplained contrasts.
Felony Misdemeanor: In "Home", when everyone's upset by their home being destroyed, Jay is fixated on the fact he's lost all his high scores.
Fighting a Shadow: While he was sealed in the Underworld, Lord Garmadon could project his shadow to the real world. The only way to fight it is with your own shadow, other wise it can hit you but not the other way around.
Flashback: After activating his Memory switch, Zane remembers his past and his father.
Forgot About His Powers: The Ninja don't use their True Potential (NRG) forms at all between "Darkness Shall Rise" and "The Last Hope".
For most of these episodes this makes sense, as they have lost their Golden Weapons, and with them most of their elemental powers, but even after they have regained their elemental powers from the four Elemental Blades, they don't think to enter these forms. And there are a lot of instances in "The Last Hope" when magic levitation would have really come in handy...
Friend or Idol Decision: Near the end of "The Green Ninja" when the Fire Temple is flooding with lava and about to erupt, Kai is forced to decide between saving Lloyd and saving the third Silver Fang Blade. Take a wild guess which one he picks.
Humongous Mecha: Nya has her Samurai X mech, and Lloyd also has a Golden Mech that belonged to the First Spinjitzu Master.
Idiot Ball: Sensei Wu sending the four ninja away so he can face Pythor alone, because "it's his destiny". Yeah, letting yourself be killed in front of your students and friends is kinda stupid.
Not to mention that all of them together against Pythor alone would've been a Curb-Stomp Battle, all but guaranteeing that the Great Devourer wouldn't be revived. Of course, his students then proceed to pick up the Idiot Ball themselves, by forgetting that they've got their own vehicles and a Humongous Mecha which can fly, instead waiting for Lloyd to show up with the airship several minutes later before chasing after Pythor and Wu.
Informed Ability: According to the product description for her spinner set, Nya has psychic powers. This is never even hinted at elsewhere— the closest suggestion is the official website's statement that her specialty is "intuition."
This was later shown, but only when she had turned evil. Just for fun, note that this is also the first time she ever uses Spinjitzu.
I Know Karate: In the episode "Snakebit", the lights turn off in the junkyard, leaving Jay's parents Ed and Edna in darkness. Feeling danger about, Ed musters up the courage to yell to the darkness: "Whoever you are, my son knows Spinjitzu!"
Meaningful Name: The theme name itself. The meaning of "Ninja GO!" is obvious, but it's also a portmanteau of Ninja and LEGO. The skeleton names also have fairly obvious meanings.
The Serpentine tribes all have names referencing their racial traits; Hypnobrai can hypnotize people, Fangpyre (portmanteau of "fang" and "vampire") can use their fangs to upgrade vehicles and transform people, Venomari can spit venom into people's eyes to make them hallucinate, Constrictai are, well, constrictors (though their main talent seems to be burrowing and Skalidor is the only one with a tail to constrict, so they may be the odd one out), and Anacondrai are the largest tribe just as anacondas are the largest species of snake in real life.
The Green Ninja, Lloyd, is also the least experienced of the ninjas - literally making him a 'green' ninja.
Cole. Sounds like "coal", which is both of his element (earth), and his color.
Later on Garmadon grows a second pair of arms so he can hold all four Golden Weapons at once. Unlike Samukai, he isn't destroyed by attempting to do so.
Mundane Utility: The first episode of the series has Kai using the Sword of Fire as a makeshift oven.
Mushroom Samba: Happens to victims of Venomari venom. When the combined forces of the Venomari and Constrictai are attacking the ninjas Kai sees them as angry elves and gingerbread men, and also becomes convinced there's a rope they can use to get to safety. Then an actual rope appears. Later on when they get back on the ship he sees Wu's beard moving.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: So Lord Garmadon, because Lloyd is your son, rather than kill him, you wanted to prevent him from reaching his full potential by killing his ninja bodyguards, and in trying to do so, you bring about a monster who only gets defeated by a method that...ends up having Lloyd reach his full potential fast. And he does so in an unwelcome method no less. You idiot, you better hope Earn Your Happy Ending happens.
No Pronunciation Guide: Is it pronounced Ninja Go or NinJAHgo? The designer videos tend to use the latter pronunciation, while every significant Title Drop uses the former. The animations, however, use both: Ninja Go before spinning, and NinJAHgo when referring to the location.
Not Now, Kiddo: When the ninjas were turned into children this constantly happened when trying to warn people about the beast on the loose.
Our Dragons Are Different: The elemental dragons that guard the weapons of Ninjago. Each of them can utilize a different element based on the weapon they guard. Later, they perform a fusion dance (off-screen) and become one four-headed dragon.
The golden dragon Lloyd summons.
The Overlord's true form.
Paper-Thin Disguise: In "The Snake King" Lloyd disguises himself as a Hypnobrai with a cap (which happens to look like the one on the Rattla figure), pair of glasses, fangs, and two maracas. Surprisingly it fools Skales, who was shown to be quite competent before, and his disguise isn't blown until he drops his maracas watching the Slither Pit match in Ouroboros.
The Serpentine during the talent show in "The Royal Blacksmiths".
Parental Favoritism: As Garmadon points out to Wu before he leaves the Underworld "You were always [their father's] favorite".
Pet the Dog: Lloyd can generally make Garmadon's original, non-evil self shine through for a while.
Reality Ensues: During the beginning of the second season when the ninja lose both their weapons and home to Garmadon, they have to live in a run down apartment, get part time jobs (that they quickly lose) and ride the bus.
Red Eyes, Take Warning: All the skeletons as well as Lord Garmadon have glowing red eyes, rather than the Black Bead Eyes typical of LEGO minifigures. The Hypnobrai tribe also have these.
Relegated Mentor: While he remains on hand to dispense advice, by the end of the first season Master Wu feels there's nothing more he can teach the boys about fighting. The focus shifts from Master Wu training the boys to the boys training Lloyd to become the green ninja.
Rule of Three: Kai, Zane, and Cole consecutively losing their jobs in "Darkness Shall Rise".
Samus Is a Girl: "Samurai X has come to help the ninjas fight off the evil snakes, but won’t reveal his identity." Of course, the official images of the set don't exactly do a good job hiding the character's identity. Here there be spoilers.
Scenery Porn: The land of Ninjago has plenty of amazing scenery, particularly the areas where the golden weapons are hidden.
Sealed Evil in a Can: Lord Garmadon was sealed in the Underworld, but manages to escape at the end of the film.
The Serpentine, who as pointed out were sealed away in rebellion against their rule of Ninjago.
Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: The ninjas are typically wrapped up head to toe, with Nya being the only protagonist with an even marginally revealing outfit (her arms are exposed). The skeletons usually have body armor, but other than that tend to wear nothing but a colored loincloth and maybe a hat (granted, they ARE skeletons). Garmadon, the Big Bad, seemingly has no clothing but a purple belt.
The Serpentine being snakes have little to nothing unless you count their weapons.
Ship Tease: When Jay learns that his team will be rescuing Nya, Kai's sister, his interest piques...
Jay: You never said anything about a girl! Is she hot?
Kai: She's my sister.
Jay: Hey, just wanted to know what we're getting ourselves into. Does she like blue?
It turns out that blue is her favorite color, and the website confirms that Jay is her favorite ninja. Whether this leads to anything remains to be seen, although being a toyline aimed at young boys anything beyond flirtation may be too much to hope for.
"Once Bitten, Twice Shy" ends up taking this a step futher by having the two go on a date, and also has Nya kissing Jay, with the two bordering on Official Couple by the end of the episode.
Shout-Out: The uniforms worn by the students in Lloyd's boarding school appear to be heavily based on the Hogwarts uniforms in the Harry Potter franchise. Namely, they look like the uniforms in the LEGO Harry Potter line recolored with a skull emblem printed on.
In "The Royal Blacksmiths" Cole mentions Clutch Powers, the main protagonist of a previously released LEGO film. This seems to imply that a lot of LEGO franchises are set in the same universe.
Instead of her regular outfit Nya has in the victory party scene at the end of "All of Nothing" the torso/leg design of the Willie Scott figure from LEGO's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom line.
In "The Last Hope", when the Ninja are trying out elemental one-liners (mostly puns), Zane tries "Ice to meet you!" on for size. One of the other ninja replies that he thinks he's heard that one before.
Cole moonwalks and dances just like the King of Pop in "Island of Darkness."
Sixth Ranger: Well, fifth in this case; in the 2012 storyline they introduce a ninja clad in green and the other ninjas assume that one of them will become him, when in actuality it's a whole new team member. And it's Lloyd. The Anacondrai count as the Evil Counterpart of this for the team.
Skales acts as a Starscream to three people; Slithraa (challenges him for control of the Hypnobrai and wins), Pythor (stands by as he screws himself over), and Garmadon (throws him into the ocean and becomes leader of all of the Serpentine).
Temporal Paradox: Garmadon uses his Mega Weapon to try and change time so that Lloyd doesn't become the Green Ninja. The Ninjas undo the changes brought about, both by his involvement and theirs, by sacrificing the Golden Weapons of that time period to destroy the Mega-Weapon. Now everything involving the Golden Weapons, including the Devourer's death, somehow still happened...
The episode strongly implies that by destroying the Mega-Weapon, the Ninja were able to stop the time-travel adventure from ever happening, and thus prevent the alternate timeline from even being created. It's still a paradox, but if you accept that this consequence is possible, it makes sense that the actions up until the time travel adventure (or as seen at the end of the episode, up until the morning before) would still have taken place.
Title Scream: The theme song The Weekend Whip uses the lyrics "Ninja GO!" in a song that otherwise has no obvious connection with ninjas. The Spinjitzu gameplay instructions included in the toys also instruct players to shout this as they spin their characters.
Tragic Villain: Garmadon revealed to be this over the course of the series. The Great Devourer corrupting him was his start to evil and he literally can't fight that side of him. Despite this, he does want to be a good father to Lloyd, which makes it all the more sadder that his own fate has been decided despite feelings towards his family, who he must fight in future.
Trailers Always Spoil: The teaser for episode 26 clearly depicts the Overlord having become a giant dragon and Lloyd's uniform having turned gold.
Unable to Cry: Surprisingly averted by Zane. Despite being a robot, he still shed a Single Tear when all his memory came back to him.
The Underworld: The base of operations for Lord Garmadon and the skeletons.
Vague Age: It's hard to place whether the ninjas are young adults or teenagers.
Zane's real age is even harder to figure out, due to the fact that he outlived his father and should be several decades old, judging by his creator's own age in the flashback.
It gets more difficult when you look at Lloyd. He starts out as a vague-aged kid, then gets aged up via Applied Phlebotinum to a vague-aged teenager.
Villain Decay: The Serpentine get hit with this hard after episode 14, partially justified since season 2 does not focus on them like season 1 did.
Villain Override: The Overlord takes control of Lord Garmadon's body near the climax of episode 25.
The Virus: The Fangpyre's venom can create snake-themed constructs or mutate organic lifeforms, though with the former it's instantaneous and with the latter it's extremely slow acting. They do this in episode 3 to Jay's parents and some of the vehicles and piles of junk his dad made, out of which is a wrecking ball (which also appears in one of the levels of Rise of the Snakes) and a giant ninja robot (which Ed claims he made in Jay's honor).
Later in "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" Jay becomes afflicted after getting his hand pricked on a fossilized Fangpyre skull. It's suggested that the time it takes for it to affect organic lifeforms depends on their complexity since shortly after Jay leaves a fly drinks the venom from the skull and instantly mutates.
Visual Pun: Zane getting butterflies in his stomach... literally.
Wham Episode: "Tick Tock". Luckily, in this case it's an awesome wham.