Radio / Adventures in Odyssey

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Your typical half-hour after-school dramatic comedy show about life in a small town. Except that it promotes Christian values and Biblical messages. Oh, and it's a radio show.

Adventures in Odyssey (1987-present) is set in the fictional town of Odyssey (in an unnamed State, but likely the Midwestern USA—the original version of the show, Family Portraits, identifies it as being in Ohio). The centerpiece of the town is the kids' discovery emporium and ice cream shop, Whit's End, run by John Avery Whittaker ("Whit"), who acts as a wise old grandfather to every kid who walks through the door. Whit is a devoted Christian, the rich owner of an encyclopedia company, former consultant for the National Security Agency, and a somewhat wacky inventor. Most of his inventions are permanent starring attractions in Whit's End. The most famous (and frequently used as a plot device) is the Imagination Station — in simplest terms, a virtual reality time machine. Whit's End is also home to a fair number of mysterious rooms such as: the secret hidden room in the attic that held clues to a treasure hunt, the secret hidden room in the basement where a murder occurred, and Whit's secret computer room with wall-to-wall TV screens and the master computer that runs every invention in the shop — and talks.

Some of the most recurring characters are the employees at Whit's End. Over the years, this has included: rebellious teen-turned-convert Connie Kendall; super-techno-genius Eugene Meltsner; his distant cousin and professional window-washer, Bernard Walton; Eugene's wife, a substitute teacher named Katrina; part-time spy and Whit's son Jason; and Whit's friend and local antique dealer, Jack Allen. The show has also had various casts of kids of varying eras. The first included chronic troublemaker Curt Stevens; budding journalist Lucy Cunningham-Schultz; sisters Robin and Melanie Jacobs; all-American siblings Donna and Jimmy Barclay, the boy and a girl of the Barclay's eventual A Boy, a Girl, and a Baby Family set-up. The next era included young writer and resident sweetheart Mandy Straussberg, her brother David, and her best friend Liz Horton; cousins Alex Jefferson and Cal Jordan; another rebellious teen-turned-convert, Aubrey Shepherd; Jared DeWhite, who moved away when his father was put into the Witness Protection Program (money-laundering issues involved with a Take Over the World plot) and his younger brother Trent; Marvin and Tamika Washington; and Grady McKay. The most recent era (dubbed "the relaunch" by fans) includes the Parker siblings, Olivia, Matthew, and Camilla; junior detective Emily Jones and her older brother Barrett; Barrett's rival Jay Smouse; reformed troublemaker Buck Oliver; and Connie's half-sister Jules.

Aside from the individual half-hour segments, the show has featured two major long-running, (more mature) arcs. The first dealt with the plots of Dr. Regis Blackgaard to take over Whit's End to gain access to a rare mineral in the Underground Railroad tunnels below the building that was the crucial ingredient to creating a deadly, invincible virus to use as a bio-terrorism weapon. (Whit was, unfortunately, away on a secret archaeological expedition in the Middle East during the finale.) The second arc dealt with a plot by the communications company Novacom and a computer program they created that would brainwash the entire world, in which Eugene was a major, if completely absent, player. A third, shorter but sequential 12-part serial "The Green Ring Conspiracy", concerning a counterfeit ring, has been also been released, notable again for its level of maturity in storytelling.

The series is created by the American Christian advocacy group Focus on the Family and is the flagship program of FOTF Radio Theater. It currently airs on numerous radio stations in the US and Canada, and is available in compact disc and cassette albums. Episodes are also rotated daily on the official website, about five at a time. An Animated Adaption airs on some Christian broadcasting stations.

Tropes:

  • Adorkable: Eugene falls into this sometimes.
  • Adam and Eve Plot: At least two:
    • The first (and the more iconic) is in "A Bite of Applesauce", where Whit tells Connie and Eugene not to touch Applesauce, the shop's computer program, and they do anyway ( and are summarily fired for it).
    • The second is in "Red Herring", where Alex and Cal, at AREM's prompting, snoop around in the college's computer system.
  • Adult Fear: Quite a few for what is supposed to be a children's show:
    • Danny Schmidt believing that he is responsible for his mother's miscarriage in "Forever, Amen".
    • Jenny Roberts, a middle school girl, being kidnapped in "The Perfect Witness".
    • The terrorist ring from "A Name, Not A Number", Red Scorpion, working to wage chemical warfare by contaminating the Swiss water supply with a deadly virus.
    • Armitage Shanks dying from what appeared to be an unusual inoperable brain tumor, recounted in "Plan B, Part I", especially since it was later revealed that it was actually an assassination.
    • Mitch appearing to be killed in "Plan B, Part 2", which wasn't alleviated that much by the reveal that he was, for all intents and purposes, kidnapped and placed in the Federal Witness Protection Program.
      • Even more frightening is that Steven DeWhite's discovery of Andromeda's money-laundering scheme and then later finding a hidden camera in his office leads to him and his wife and two sons being placed in the WPP.
    • "Exit" has Bennett Charles threaten Connie Kendall's life in order to keep Whit away from stopping the worldwide launch of Novacom's technology.
    • "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" has Mitch get kidnapped and nearly taken out of the country by a revenge-driven Bennett Charles.
    • Eugene's father Leonard's backstory: he was an archaeologist working in Africa who, along with his wife, was kidnapped and enslaved by his rival for twenty years, with his wife dying in captivity and his two sons believed to be dead.
    • Whit explains in "Blood, Sweat, and Fears" that he has a fear of giving blood because he was once injured in combat and woke up to find a nurse taking his blood by mistake.
    • "The Other Side of the Glass" features people being persuaded to emigrate to America, only to be blackmailed by the people who brought them there into working as cheap labor for a glass factory or being outed as illegal aliens. When Whit, Bernard, and Wooton stake out the factory, they discover that even young children are being forced to work midnight shifts.
    • In "Accidental Dilemma", The Whisperer, a terrorist whom Jason arrested while working for the NSA, discovers his identity, kidnaps him in exchange for Applesauce, and holds Grady McKay, an elementary-school-age boy, hostage in order for Jason to cooperate. With the exception of Grady's kidnapping, this was actually an elaborate Batman Gambit on Whit and Jason's part in response to the Whisperer escaping prison, but the concept and its execution are still pretty intense.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Whit and Leonard Meltsner, in a slight subversion, they are trained modern archeologists and conduct realistic archeological practices... until villains drive them into adventuring at gunpoint.
  • Adventures in the Bible: Happens frequently though usually it's Virtual Reality.
    • They have done so many of these that they've literally ran out of Bible stories to adapt (A quick skim through the Bible will tell you why the stories they have not adapted will never be adapted). The show now tend to focuses on reenacting events in church history.
  • Affectionate Parody: "Hidden in My Heart" is based around three: Rescue 119, Laffy the Wonder Dog, and Star Trip (starring William Shattered).
  • All Up to You: Tom Riley in the conclusion of the Novacom arc.
  • Ambulance Chaser: Howard J. Wiezel ("That's Wie-ZEL"), the Rathbones' lawyer in "A Victim of Circumstance", just happens to show up at the hospital after Rodney was admitted for his injuries after falling through a skylight while snooping around on the roof of Whit's End and convinces the Rathbones to sue Jason for the damages.
  • And Starring: Between circa Albums 44-50, Chris, the show host, would list off the actors and then the actor who played the "major character" featured in the episode. (However, even if Whit was involved, Will Ryan was always credited as either Eugene or whatever character he played if he had a role that wasn't Eugene.) Since the relaunch, however, Chris always credits the actors along with their characters.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Jimmy Barclay to Donna, Tamika Washington to Marvin, Bethany Shepard to Aubrey, Camilla Parker to Olivia.
  • The Atoner: Richard Maxwell, Monica Stone (although slightly subverted, since neither wished to become Christians and were not pressured afterwards).
  • Bald of Evil: Bennett Charles in the Novacom arc.
  • Back from the Dead: Dr. Blackgaard programmed his personality into a virus and planted it in the Imagination Station. It almost tried to possess Aubrey before Whit destroyed it.
  • Banana in the Tailpipe: Invoked in "Accidental Dilemma".
  • Being Watched: Jason, Tasha, and Mitch, respectively, all observe this in "A Name, Not A Number", "The Search for Whit", and "Exit", among others.
  • Big Labyrinthine Building/Building of Adventure: Whit's End. Even Whit indicates in some episodes that there are places in it that he doesn't know about.
  • Big Red Button: Used to start up the Imagination Station, though the newest model (introduced in album 50) doesn't have it.
  • Black Box: Novacom's technology, literally called a "Black Box" when it's first released.
    • As well as the parts of the Imagination Station that Novacom stole.
  • Blackmail Backfire: In "The One About Trust", Whit doesn't mind Bart revealing the information that he pays Eugene more than he pays Connie because he'd rather have that revealed than endorse Bart for mayor.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    Jimmy Barclay: I'd tell you more, Dad, but this is a family show.
    • Also in the episode "Truth Be Told", Wooton says he'd go over the details of something that happened in his superhero story, but "this is a kid's program."
    • In "A Cheater Cheated", Bart imitates Whit by reciting Whit's opening monologue from the show's theme.
    • In "Life, in the Third Person, Part 1", Mandy, who has been internally monologuing about her current situation, has a flat tire on her bike, and remarks that it's hard to fly away when your wing has a flat.
      Mandy: Okay, I know it's a mixed metaphor, but what do you want?
  • Breakout Character: Mailman Wooton Bassett in the more recent episodes.
  • Canon Immigrant: The main characters didn't have fixed character designs initially, but the ones that the Animated Adaptation gave the characters were eventually adopted as their official character designs (with a few slight alterations) for years until they were changed slightly starting with the 51st album "Take It From The Top".
  • Cast as a Mask: Bob Lutrell plays AREM while Steve Burns plays AREM's secret identity, Robert Mitchell.
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster: The series, for the most part, stays as the mostly down-to-earth slice-of-life program it's known to be...but over the series' run, we've had Regis Blackgaard, the Novacom Saga, and some extremely dramatic episodes such as "The Mortal Coil", "A Name, Not A Number", "The Top Floor", and "Life, in the Third Person".
    • Not even the somewhat goofier animated series is exempt from this. Some of the wilder episodes like Electric Christmas, Star Quest, and Flight To the Finish share shelf space with The Knight Travellersnote  and A Twist In Time and its starkly grim Bad Futurenote .
  • Chalk Outline: Played for Laughs in "Opportunity Knocks", where Connie publicly apologizes for Harlow Doyle after he mistakenly draws them on a family's driveway.
  • Character Outlives Actor: Whit's first actor, Hal Smith, died in 1994 and was not replaced for over 2 years, and Whit was temporarily sent on an archaeological expedition in the Middle East while Focus found a replacement. When he came back, he was voiced by Paul Herlinger for 12 years until he died, and Andre Stojka has since taken up the roll.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In an episode about the underground railroad, a priest at the church that would one day become Whit's End mentions a mineral in the tunnels under the building. This mineral turns out to be key in a compound to drastically increase the deadliness of the Ruku virus and was Blackgaard's main goal when he took over Whit's End.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Most of the child voice actors (and consequently their families, Dr. Morton being an exception) tend to get quietly dropped from the show around the time their voice changes.
    • There have been exceptions, including Jimmy Barclay, Jared DeWhite, and Marvin Washington, though Jimmy is the most notable since it was primarily the first era of AIO kids who were shown becoming adolescents and going from elementary and middle school to high school.
    • Many of those characters had cameos during Album 50, and four notable ones (Jack, Lucy, Jimmy, and Curt) had an entire two-parter dedicated to them and their various unwitting love triangle shenanigans.
  • Christmas Episode: They used to introduce at least one new Christmas episode a year, and as Christmas approaches, the schedule has them play previous Christmas episodes. Given the show has been going on for about two decades, this leads to around a month of Christmas episodes.
  • Circus of Fear: Uncle Archie's carnival, a G-rated version, appears in The Green Ring Conspiracy.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Harlow Doyle (Private Eye!) and to a slightly lesser extent, Wooton Bassett.
  • Clueless Aesop: Averted in an episode that teaches An Aesop about cursing. Though it would seem impossible to teach such a moral in a Christian children's radio show, where you obviously aren't supposed to use curse words, it manages to pull it off by having some kids thinking that a certain word is a curse word and using it in such a way, leading to a moral about using words wisely, not saying things that you don't understand just because it sounds cool, and speaking to others in ways that encourage them rather than insult them. It's a bit odd, but it actually works pretty well.
  • Clueless Detective: Harlow Doyle, Private Eye.
  • Co-Dragons: When Dr. Blackaard attempts to take over Odyssey, Professor Bovril, Jellyfish, and Philip Glossman assist him with brains, brawn, and public appearance, respectively.
  • Collapsing Lair: Richard Maxwell somehow programs Blackgaard's computer to blow up his business in "The Battle, Part 2". Blackgaard wants Maxwell to hack into the Imagination Station, but instead the code causes a power surge that sets the building on fire.
  • Concealing Canvas: A safe hidden behind a picture of a safe in the episode "Hold Up!". Mr. Whittaker has a weird sense of humor.
  • Continuity Nod: All over the place. Even when they aren't doing clear-cut story arcs of one kind or another, continuity is remarkably strong, even if there are some snarls here and there.
  • Cool Old Guy: Whit is the normal, down-to-Earth variety. Usually.
    • Also Jack Allen (rational and calm advice-giver) and Tom Riley (snarky and practical farmer).
  • Couch Gag: The 1987-1991 version of the introduction had Whit introduce himself and explain he was working on his latest invention before saying "Hey, let's see if this thing works." Normally, it didn't (to which Whit would comment that it needed more work, but that's the exciting part because you never know what you'll discover along the way), although a few episodes depicted the invention working properly.
  • Courtroom Episode: "The Scales of Justice" (Eugene is the judge and Connie the bailiff in a dispute between Rodney Rathbone and Isaac Morton over who owns a bag full of money), "Blind Justice" (Eugene and Bernard are both serving jury duty for a case in which only Eugene believes that the defendant is not guilty), "Broken Window" (Connie is the judge for a case in which Alex, Sarah, and Rodney are all accused of breaking a window at Whit's End), "Exactly As Planned" (Tom is accused of and put on trial for blowing up the Novacom tower on his land).
  • Crack Fic: Bethany's Flood. The Ark is a wet dry vac, Shem, Ham, and Japheth are really Sam, Hamlet and Jefferson, and Christopher Colombo caused the flood!
  • Credit Card Plot: "A Little Credit, Please"
  • Crossover: Jason Whittaker appeared in a story in radio episodes of The Last Chance Detectives, also produced by Focus on the Family.
  • Dating Catwoman: Jason and Monica
  • Deadpan Snarker: Bernard Walton.
    • Also Connie, though she tends to swing between this and Large Ham quite regularly.
    • Jason, too.
  • Denser and Wackier: The animated series in some episodes, particularly Flight to the Finish and Electric Christmas.
  • Destruction Equals Off-Switch: The conclusion of the Novacom arc.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Dr. Blackgaard — he even had a cat!
  • Did You Die?: Tamika Washington asks this when Bernard tells her a story from his childhood in "The Girl In The Sink."
  • Disability Immunity: In the episode "The Perfect Witness," Jenny Roberts is taken hostage by thieves who supposed that because she can't see, she won't know where they're going with her and thus can't tell the police where their hideout is. Jenny, once returned to her friends, is able to nail the criminals by using her other senses to narrow down their location (sounds play a large part in this).
  • Double Aesop: Kids frequently went on an adventure in the Imagination Station and learned an Aesop from the Aesop the characters in the adventure learned.
  • Downer Ending: Although usually upbeat, the show will occasionally throw a curve-ball and produce an episode without any definite happy ending.
    • One episode involved a character's model train getting stolen and a girl with a history of delinquency being the prime suspect. She denied it and Whit acted as the strongest voice in her defense. It turns out she did throw it away out of spite and was completely unrepentant when caught. Whit was very shaken up and forced to face the fact that treating someone with kindness does not mean they will accept it.
  • The Dragon: Mr. Charles to The Chairman's Big Bad.
  • Easy Evangelism: Zig-Zagged. In some cases, 5 minutes and a commercial break is all that's required to get a conversion. In other cases, especially those involving main characters, it can take years after they're introduced before they convert, and some simply don't for whatever reason. And you can be sure that recurring characters still have lessons to learn.
  • Eccentric Townsfolk
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Jellyfish, a small-time hood in the Blackgaard saga. Notably his first name (and only name given) is the equally embarrassing Myron.
  • Everyone Can See It: Eugene and Connie in earlier episodes. At one point, a man who was in the middle of trying to rob Whit's End says that they were made for each other.
  • Everything Is Online: Justified for Whit, as he is a legitimate computer wiz and a retired NSA technical analyst.
  • Evil Twin: Inverted; Dr. Blackgaard has a good twin, Edwin, who runs the local theater. After his initial episodes, he was used mostly as comic relief — completely independent from his brother's story-lines.
  • Face Death with Dignity: In fact Whit was so dignified and calm that it unnerved the would-be-killer into running away.
  • Face Your Fears: "Blood, Sweat, and Fears", centering around a blood drive, requires Whit (who fears giving blood as a result of having it accidentally taken instead of given to him after a combat injury) and Eugene (who has a fear of needles) to give blood, and for Trent (who has been shown in the past to have a morbid fear of public speaking) to give live interviews to promote the drive.
  • Faking the Dead:
    • In "A Name, Not A Number," Dr. Blackgaard pretends to be injected with a strain of a deadly virus so that he can orchestrate his plans discreetly before showing up in Odyssey alive and well. Granted, the only person in town who thought he was dead was Jason, but him showing up in the last few minutes of the "Name, Not A Number" two-parter was still a bit of a shock, considering that the audience last heard what sounded like his death throes.
    • Mitch is placed in the Witness Protection Program during the Novacom fiasco.
    • Jason Whittaker, who fakes his death so his enemies from his spy days won't go after him. This lasts for the next two albums before he shows up in "The Green Ring Conspiracy".
    • Leonard Meltsner staged and pretended to be killed in a cave-in to escape from slavery in Africa, then returns to Odyssey disguised as a homeless man called "Joel".
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell/Fluffy Cloud Heaven: One episode has Whit attempting to explore the concept of the afterlife using the Imagination Station. Unfortunately the program succeeds a bit too well, as Whit ends up addicted to the Edenic garden and the presence of his dead wife and son, and Eugene finds himself in hell (while Eugene is an atheist at this point, he has internalized more Christian theology than he realizes; the writers were presenting Christian theology as is, that nonbelievers end up in hell, rather than making any judgments on Eugene's character in itself).
  • Five-Bad Band: Two of note from the Blackgaard and Novacom sagas:
  • Flash Forward: "The Present Long Ago" begins with an elderly Mandy Straussberg telling a story about an event that happened in current!Odyssey to her grandson, culminating in the reveal that she eventually marries Trent DeWhite, whose journal entries she was using to tell the story.
  • For Inconvenience, Press "1": The episode "Breaking Point" sees Nick Mulligan run into this trope when calling customer service about what to do if someone washes his hair with their product.
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: In "A Victim of Circumstance", the Rathbones file suit against Jason after Rodney falls through the skylight at Whit's End, claiming that it's Jason's fault for not having a clear "no trespassing" sign (even though as Jason exasperatedly observes, common sense should tell a person not to go crawling around on a roof). They actually win, but the jury only awards them a dollar in damages, which promptly goes to pay for lawyer's fees.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Whit, Eugene, and Matthew Parker. Jason has displayed some limited skills as well.
  • Gambit Pileup: "A Name, Not a Number"
  • Geographic Flexibility: For a supposed Midwestern small town, Odyssey has multiple malls, a community college, a water park, multiple high schools, a TV/radio station, an airport, and (if the animated series can be believed) multiple skyscrapers. Originally, the writers hewed very closely to the idea of Odyssey being a one-street town, but different buildings and areas got added as the plot required over the years.
  • "Get out of Jail Free" Card: Subverted; Richard Maxwell serves his time for arson and other crimes before coming back to town to make peace.
  • The Ghost: The Chairman of Novacom, up until the arc's Grand Finale.
  • Golden Moment: Usually executed quite well. This never stops Chris.
  • Halloween Episode: They had a "please-don't-celebrate-Halloween" episode called What Are We Gonna Do About Halloween?
  • Happily Married: Eugene and Katrina, Jack and Joanne.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: During "A Class Reenactment," Mandy Straussberg spends almost all of her time insisting that she and Trent are not a couple, although ironically they actually will end up married in the future and have at least two grandchildren, a fact that was revealed six albums beforehand.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Dr. Blackgaard's hacker lackey Richard Maxwell; Novacom's mercenary Monica Stone.
  • Hidden Agenda Villain: Dr. Blackgaard.
  • Hobbes Was Right: Discussed and believed by most of the main characters, and actually the point of an episode where Connie and Eugene debate this (Connie taking Hobbes's stance, Eugene taking Rousseau's); a stranger then comes in, robs them, and even mentions that he personally agrees with Eugene that he really is a good person held captive by his greed.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Leonard Meltsner, who was held prisoner for years, watched his wife die while they were in captivity, and thought that both of his sons had been killed in accidents (though it turned out one was actually kidnapped by his hated rival and raised by him for several years); as a result, he has a rather sympathetic grudge against God. However, he is presented as nothing but an honorable man.
  • Homage: The members of the Barclay family are named George, Mary, Jimmy, Donna, and Stewart Reed. They even star in a Christmas episode based entirely on the plot of "It's a Wonderful Life".
    • One episode was a quite blatant homage to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, with the Cross of Cortez replacing the Grail.
    • The episode "It Happened at Four Corners" seems to be a partial retelling of the novel McTeague by Frank Norris. Both narratives revolves around two men fighting over an accidentally stumbled upon stash of gold in a desolate locale, with one managing to kill the other, but not before he handcuffs his killer to his soon-to-be corpse. But considering how obscure the source material is, this might be unintentional.
      • The bigger inspiration for this episode was It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. The opening scene of "The Smiler" ripping the map in half was taken directly from the start of the film nearly verbatim.
  • Hostage Situation: Usually with Connie as the hostage, although Whit, Eugene, Jason, Mitch, Tasha Forbes, and Grady McKay have also played that role.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Between Eugene and Katrina in "A Book By Its Cover".
  • I Have Your Son: "Cover of Darkness" reveals that Dalton Kearn intended to kidnap a seven-year-old Eugene, who was supposed to be going to see his father Leonard in Africa by train, in order to force Leonard into working for him on an archaeological dig; Eugene wasn't on the train, which crashed, leaving no survivors, and so Dalton took Leonard and his wife Thelma by force.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Katrina explains to Eugene in "The Right Choice, Part 2" that Brandon Teller, who wants to marry her, has still been advocating for Eugene and sticking up for him, because while Eugene is running around on a jet-lagged, paranoid brain and making assumptions all over the place, Brandon wants Katrina to be happy regardless of who she marries.
  • If My Calculations Are Correct: Eugene.
  • Informed Obscenity: "Millijoit," from the episode "War of the Words" (actually a mangling of the word "maladroit", which some kids heard Eugene call Connie.
  • Insufferable Genius: Eugene, to the extreme; he softens up a bit after a while, and some of his behaviors have less to do with arrogance and more to do with social awkwardness.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Not a direct example, but what are the chances that Whit would have two high school valedictorians (Eugene and Connie) working for him simultaneously? (And sacking them simultaneously.)
    • Also somewhat averted as both characters winds up attending the perfectly serviceable community college in Odyssey, although Eugene does mention at one point that he could have easily left Odyssey and continued his studies at an Ivy.
      • It's never explained what a genius like Eugene is doing in Odyssey and working part time in a ice cream parlor when he could have had his pick of the universities. One episode tells us that he was framed for plagiarism at Stanford was was blackballed by academia, but the entire thing was made up for a mystery dinner.
  • Keet: Lawrence Hodges.
  • Kid Detective: Emily Jones and Matthew Parker are shown working together in several episodes as the "Jones and Parker Detective Agency", and Jack Davis has been known to pretend to be a hard-boiled private eye.
  • Knight of Cerebus: A good rule of thumb while going through the first 15 years of the series' run, if Dr Regis Blackgaard shows up, things are about to get serious.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Several times:
    • Bernard Walton once told a new kid, "Whether you meant to or not, you played out a Bible teaching in what you did today." Simon thought it was weird, but Bernard assured him, "Happens all the time around here."
    • Whenever a voice actor was unavailable for recording (i.e. Hal Smith, since he died), their character would be represented by a message on a very choppy, staticky answering machine message made of clips from previous episodes. Jason once commented to Eugene while he was fixing one, "Am I the only one who's noticed how often these glitch up around here?"
    • In one episode Katrina mentions to Connie that she hasn't changed since she last saw her (5 years ago from the listener's point of view). Connie then says that she never changes, a reference to the fact she's the show's perpetual young adult.
      • "Feels like I've been sixteen FOREVER."
  • Large Ham: Connie whenever she really gets excited or irritated.
    • The character of Edwin Blackgaard (played to Shakespearean perfection by Tony Jay soundalike Earl Boen) was created largely for this very purpose, serving largely in stark contrast to his more quietly menacing twin brother Regis.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Averted in the series itself. What do you expect? It's a radio program. Played straight in the official artwork, though.
  • Long Runners: 23 years and counting, though if you count the series that eventually became Adventures In Odyssey, Family Portraits, then it has been around for at least 25.
  • Lopsided Dichotomy: Two separate instances in "Plan B, Part I: Missing in Action", both courtesy of Connie.
    Whit: It's been ransacked!
    Connie: Or his sense of housekeeping has really gone down the tubes.

    Whit: Eugene must have been in a hurry to get away.
    Connie: Or else he was robbed by a vest-lover.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Jason Whittaker once modified the Imagination Station to allow disabled children to experience life without their disability. The final scene of the episode finds Jason having a Heroic B.S.O.D. surrounded by handicapped children desperately pleading for an extra moment in the Station.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Dalton Kearn.
  • Magical Computer: The one that ran Whit's End is close enough.
  • Married in the Future: "The Present Long Ago" reveals that Mandy Straussberg will eventually marry Trent DeWhite.
  • Meganekko: Katrina Shanks and Lucy Cunningham-Schultz.
  • Meaningful Name: Edwin and Regis Blackgaard.
  • The Mole: Mr. Glossman, Monica.
  • Mr. Imagination: Lawrence Hodges (specializing in fantasy and scifi), Jared DeWhite (more into conspiracy theories), and Jared's brother Trent (who dreams up wild, off-the-wall scenarios and has even held conversations with characters that exist in his head).
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: "Eugene Meltsner here, inviting you to join today's assemblage of characters (and myself)..."
  • My Own Private "I Do": Eugene and Katrina have the "Elope first, plan later" variety; they elope at her father's deathbed before they're forced to flee from Andromeda in "Plan B, Part I: Missing in Action", and then in "For Better or For Worse", they've returned to Odyssey and decide to have a ceremony for all their friends.
  • Mythology Gag: In the Novacom saga, the Imagination Station is stolen and used to transmit Novacom's mind-controlling technology around the world via satellite; this is a similar plot to the first animated episode, "The Knight Travellers", wherein the Imagination Station was stolen and used as a means of mind control.
  • Narrator: Chris, who was visible to the characters on certain occasions (again, usually in earlier episodes).
  • Nested Story Reveal: In "It Happened at Four Corners", the entire episode (using Eugene and Bernard to represent a younger and older man, respectively) is revealed to have been a story told by Bernard to show Eugene how proper storytelling is done.
  • No Indoor Voice: Connie whenever she gets excited.
    • Local disc jockey "Cryin' Bryan" Dern is, naturally, quite loud even when not on-air.
  • No Name Given: "The Chairman" of Novacom.
  • Noodle Implements: During Whit, Monty, Tom Riley, and Eugene's expedition to go ice fishing in the episode of the same title, Tom fails to get a campfire going rubbing two sticks together. Eugene offers some unknown item to get it lit, which Tom mocks. Eugene tries to use it... and it explodes.
  • Noodle Incident: Apparently, the last time Ed used scissors, he was making snowflakes and...
    • From Episode 616, "The Other Side Of The Glass":
    Wooton: I don't do pranks! Ever since that incident with my cousin's whiffle ball bat - that backfired BIG-TIME, let me tell you!
    Bernard: No, don't.
    Wooton (singsong): It required surgery...
    Bernard: I don't wanna know!
    • Eugene and Katrina have apparently had numerous misadventures in at least Zimbabwe, Madagascar, and Portugal, according to "For Better or For Worse".
  • Noir Episode: "Heatwave"
  • No Denomination Given: While all the Christians on the show are all vaguely Evangelical, no specific denomination has ever been named and all of the theology and Aesops presented are kept firmly in ecumenical territory. The closest they've ever gotten to acknowledging theological differences is a throwaway mention that the Catholic concept of sainthood carries more baggage than the Protestant one.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Played straight for much of the show, where Connie Kendall is the perpetual teenager. Averted with everyone else, leading to Connie still being a teenager even though kids from 20 years ago have grown up. Eventually, Connie graduates from high school, and so in later episodes she just ages very slowly.
    • Also seems to have occurred in Rodney Rathbone, since he's been a middle school bully for about fifteen years and has shown no signs of age.
    • Whit, on the other hand, is Not Allowed to Grow Old; his official portrait has not changed over the past twenty years, and he maintains the activity level of a 60-year-old man despite the fact that he should be in his late 80s by now, as he fought in WWII (that is, if the show functions in real time).
  • Not Disabled In VR: Played with in the two parter "A Touch of Healing", where Jason Whittaker modifies the Imagination Station so that disabled users can experience life without their disability. When he tests it on Zachary Sellars, who became lame through an accident, he can walk, but when he tests it on Jenny Roberts, a girl born blind, it does not make her see. Jason thinks that it works for Zachary because he knows what it is like to walk, but not for Jenny because she was born blind.
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: A frequent complaint by younger characters, usually used either to indicate that an intriguing mystery is about to happen or to set up that the character needs to learn to make their own excitement and have fun on their own.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Millie Shanks plays this role in "For Better or For Worse", although as she's trying to force the wedding to be "traditional", she causes much more trouble for Connie and Katrina than she ever did to Eugene.
  • Official Couple: Eugene and Katrina (got married), Connie and Mitch (broke up), Penny and Wooton (are engaged), Jack and Lucy ( got engaged), and Trent and Mandy ( eventually marry).
  • Off to See the Wizard: The 2-part episode "The Great Wishy Woz", in which Mandy Straussberg writes and stars in a Kids Radio story based on The Wizard of Oz.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: On the part of Chris. If something very serious or sad occurs in an episode directly before a break or when a Downer Ending, Bittersweet Ending, or a very well earned happy ending occurs, Chris typically sounds calm at best, solemn at worst, and generally less bubbly than usual. In the former case, she may not even announce the break at all. Tropes Are Not Bad, as it avoids Mood Whiplash. (Would Chris sounding light and cheerful directly after, say, someone witnessing the crucifixion of Jesus sound right to you?)
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: Theatre critic Duncan Banquo's "I thought the [radio] play was the best I've ever seen you do" in "A Class Reenactment", directed at Edwin Blackgaard.
  • Papa Wolf: Carson McKay in "Accidental Dilemma"—his son Grady is kidnapped by a terrorist whose cane is a disguised cattle prod; unaware of this, Carson, finally coming face-to-face with the man, promptly punches him in the face.
  • Parting Words Regret: Connie experiences this in "Plan B: Resistance" after her boyfriend Mitch is seemingly murdered and Eugene and Katrina flee Odyssey to keep Eugene's research safe from Andromeda, worrying that they didn't know how much she truly cared about them. When she later talks about this with Whit at Mitch's funeral he tells her that they just have to trust that God "fills in the blanks for all the things we should have said"; Connie agrees, but counters that they "shouldn't expect Him to" before telling Whit that she loves him.
  • The Patient Has Left the Building: The Green Ring Conspiracy arc has Monty Whittaker (Whit's grandson, now a Secret Service agent) slip out to find out who betrayed him (working undercover) after being in a plane crash attempting to track down counterfeiters.
  • Pet the Dog: Dalton Kearn: kidnapper, trafficker of archeological artifacts, instigator of a minor genocide, kind and caring father. Subverted; his "son", Everett, is actually Leonard Meltsner's, whom he kidnapped out of the belief that because Leonard sired Everett with Thelma, Dalton's old girlfriend, Everett should have been Dalton's son instead. He does grow to legitimately love the boy, and Everett clearly loves him back, but that doesn't change the fact that he raised him on a lie.
  • Phrase Catcher: When Eugene lapses into his overly complex way of explaining something, he is frequently met with cries of some variation of, "In English, Eugene!"
  • Poor Communication Kills: In "Two Friends And A Truck", Bernard tasks Eugene with watching his old run-down pick-up truck as he looks into buying a new one. Whit points out that the truck has several technical quirks, but doesn't actually say what any of them are until Eugene parks the truck at the top of a hill...and the truck goes rolling down it anyways and crashes. It's only then that Whit points out that the parking brakes have long since quit working.
  • Power Trio:
    • Back in the good ol' days:
      • Id: Connie
      • Superego: Eugene
      • Ego: Whit
  • Prayer Is a Last Resort: The show did the "Atheist in the Foxhole" storyline twice, in one case with Cryin' Brian Dern (who gave in and prayed for his life) and once with Leonard Meltsner (who didn't). Interestingly, the writers were much more critical of Dern for his moral cowardice than Meltsner.
  • Put on a Bus: Eugene, after his voice actor left the show, supposedly due to "creative differences." The actor and character have since returned.
    • Jared DeWhite, which actually turned out to be a plot device in the Novacom Saga. The Bus Came Back.
    • Also, minor villain and CorruptPolitician Philip Glossman was written out as having been forced to resign due to a scandal involving a racial slur targeting the Japanese. The decision came after Glossman's voice, frequent Odyssey writer Paul McCusker, leaving for a job in London. TheBusCameBack, though, as Glossman managed to turn up at the state Department of Transportation and finally as part of a crew with the Environmental Detection Agency, before leaving for good when his character was arrested at the end of the Blackgaard/Darkness Before Dawn saga. He was last heard from in a cameo role in "A Capsule Comes to Town", sneering at Odyssey's small town values.
  • Readings Are Off the Scale: Whenever something went wrong with the Imagination Station, which always happens when someone is in it.
  • Rearrange the Song: The theme has had several revampings, the most significant being in 1992 (when the original theme was revised to dial down the synthesizers and was based on the video series theme). Other major revisions took place in 1998, 2003 and when the series returned from hiatus in 2010.
  • Recycled In Space: "Passages, Part I & II" and the novel spinoffs. Children from Odyssey are transported to a parallel Earth, where biblical history from our world is repeating itself against a different setting (kind of like Narnia without the mythological creatures).
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Connie's red, Eugene's blue.
  • Renaissance Man: Whit—soldier, NSA consultant, businessman, resident theologian, archeologist, encyclopedia publisher, computer, neurology, and engineering (and whatever other subjects are required to build a working Imagination Station) genius, and the maker of the best sundaes in the county.
    • Barry Muntz explicitly identifies himself this way in "Breaking Point" and lists off his many skills to a bemused Whit ( though whether or not he actually is good at any of those things or just portraying himself that way to lie his way into the Imagination Station's blueprints is debatable).
  • Repetitive Name: "I'm Digger. Digger Digwillow." "Digger Digger Digwillow?"
  • Retired Badass: Whit and Jason.
  • Road Trip Plot: With Bernard and Eugene, in Album 21: Wish You Were Here; Bernard travels to San Diego to buy a new truck, and Eugene is on a journey to find himself. The trip was a product of Real Life Writes the Plot, as the actor who voiced Whit suddenly died and the arc was created to give the writers and directors enough time to retool the show.
    • Later, a road trip plot arc was given to Connie and Joanne, as both were going to Washington, D.C.—Connie to see Mitch, Joanne to have a compass appraised.
  • Running Gag: Connie's complaints about being the last person to learn of something big happening in Odyssey.
    • In an early episode, Whit ran out of letters for his menu-board and decided to abbreviate some of the menu items, leading to someone asking for a "Wod-Fam-Choc-Sod" (aka. a "World Famous Chocolate Soda"). This wouldn't be the last time someone asked for one.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Alex's grandparents in "Relatively Annoying".
    • Also, Mrs. Kramer, from the relaunch, who crosses from "grouchy elder with a heart of gold" to "flaming misanthrope".
  • Script Wank
  • Seekers: Everybody more or less, given the Christian atmosphere, but most obviously Connie, Eugene and Aubrey.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: Used on the Imagination Station in the Novacom Saga finale, It Makes Sense in Context as the machine was the key to their global mind-control plan.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Eugene; his Catch Phrase used to be ending sentences that use slang and idioms with "... to borrow the colloquialism."
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: The subject of the episode "Sixties-Something", which was a harsh criticism of the romanticization of the 1960s that not only observed that the decade was a mess of riots and tragedies, but also pointed out that the "if it feels good, do it" line of thought has fed directly into problems of substance abuse and self-entitled avoidance of consequences that people deal with today.
  • Ship Sinking: The Eugene/Connie pairing is sunk when Eugene dates and marries Katrina.
  • Shout-Out: The original art for the 25th album, "Darkness Before Dawn", bears a suspicious resemblance to the famous painting "Wanderer above the Sea of Fog".
    • The posters Erica Clark hangs up about bike safety in "Rewards in Full" include one containing a reference to the infamous "This is Your Brain on Drugs" PSA.
    • The three characters Trent comes up with are fictionalized versions of actor Arnold Schwarzenegger (Arnold Schwarzenbanger), comedian Bill Cosby (Bill Crosby), and fictional detective Columbo (Detective Colimbo).
    • The 2006 Christmas Episode "The Undeniable Truth" has a sequence where Eugene (whose foundation "Hand Up" was supposed to be sending Christmas packages to Africa but was falsely accused of failing to deliver and of stealing money from the foundation) demands to know why his father Leonard had signed those packages Gordon Shumway.
    • Resident Shakespeare nut Edwin Blackgaard's rival in "The Taming of the Two" is named Malcolm Lear.
    • The theatre critic that Edwin is desperate to impress in "A Class Reenactment" is named Duncan Banquo.
  • Show Within a Show: KYDS radio and BTV.
  • Story Arc: Innumerable ones, both large-scale and small, have been spread throughout the show's almost-thirty years.
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: Jimmy Barclay (Straight Man) and Lawrence Hodges (Wise Guy).
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Harlow Doyle for Officer Harley, after parents complained that a bumbling police officer as a supporting character would give kids the impression that officers of the law are a joke.
    • Jack Allen for Whit; lampshaded in his introductory episode, where Connie, who was the most affected by Whit leaving, accuses Jack point-blank of trying to replace Whit.
  • Take Over the World: This turns out to be Novacom's ultimate goal, intending to use their devices to brainwash everyone via a cell phone tower just outside of Odyssey and the Imagination Station. Fortunately, they don't succeed. Ironically, Regis Blackgaard usually only wanted to take over the town, although Darkness Before Dawn reveals that he too has more megalomaniacal motives.
  • Those Two Guys: Odyssey's resident Large Ham Edwin Blackgaard and assistant Walter Shakespeare (also an example of Fat and Skinny). The episode Odyssey Sings is the only episode where Shakespeare appears without Edwin.
  • Time Machine: The Imagination Station VR, but close enough.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Boy genius Nicolas Adamsworth. His first two appearances showed him to be a honest albeit nervous kid who (in his first appearance) blew the whistle on Richard Maxwell (before his Heel–Face Turn), who was forcing him to change grades at the local college. In "The Power", however, he apparently threw all of that out the window and suddenly became a bully who used his knowledge of computers to torment the other kids and was unrepentant when caught. Even Whit was surprised.
  • Took a Level in Kindness:
    • Liz Horton, after her first couple of appearances. She became a much nicer girl after starting off as a nasty little brat who tormented a young girl named Wendy at camp and nearly drove Connie to quitting her job at the Timothy Center.
    • Likewise, Richard Maxwell after his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Trash of the Titans: Billy and Sam find the Bones' hideout to be filled with this in "Checkmate".
  • Truncated Theme Tune: Sometimes, especially in the later albums, there are no dialogue clips played during the credits, and that entire musical interlude is cut.
    • Later episodes simply had Chris introduce the episode with "And now, Adventures in Odyssey!" and the show's Leitmotif played using instrumentals that fit the opening scene.
    • Also in album versions, the theme song is cut entirely, especially if it's the beginning of a multi-parter.
    • Other times, there are too many clips to include any introduction by Chris or another character (as in the album version of "Plan B, Part 1"), so the intro is removed and the clips run in its place.
  • Tuxedo and Martini: Averted in most cases for Mitch (FBI) and Jason/Whit (NSA), although Jason is quite good at doing Bond-y one liners and even sarcastically identifies himself at one point as "Bond—James Bond".
  • Unusual Euphemism: The 2003 episode "Black Clouds" takes place mainly at a roadside diner where the owner uses the names of past American Presidents as exclamations of surprise where some would use profanity.
  • Vehicular Sabotage: In "The Final Conflict", Bernard siphons all of the gas out of the tank of Professor Bovril's getaway van. Carson McKay does the Banana in the Tailpipe version in "Accidental Dilemma, Part 2".
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: In the episode "Waylaid in the Windy City, Part 2", Whit gives a speech to Richard Maxwell about the futility of revenge, focusing on how how pursuing it will harm Richard more than help him. Keep in mind that this is while Richard has Regis Blackgaard, the man who ruined his life, at gunpoint.
    "Don't you understand that when you go out for revenge, you've got to dig two graves—one for the person you're after and one for yourself! Richard, there's no such thing as revenge, not really. It never replaces what you lost. It never restores. It doesn't even satisfy. You're out of the detention center now. You've got your whole life ahead of you! Now please, give me the gun!"
    • Slightly subverted; in reality, Richard was holding a very realistic-looking water gun, and just wanted to feed Regis a slice of humble pie by making him beg for his life. He even points out to Whit and Connie that he's already out of jail and he isn't going to waste his second chance at freedom on killing Blackgaard.
  • Villain Episode: Rodney Rathbone once starred in and narrated his own episode.
  • Virtual Ghost: Dr. Blackgaard as a rogue Imagination station program.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Eugene's father Leonard.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Monica Stone is wanted by the FBI and does several illegal jobs for Novacom, including infiltrating the Missions Board to steal a disk from Jason, mentally seducing him and threatening to kill his friend in the process—all because she bought the story that the Novacom technology was going to be used to help the handicapped, like her brother. She fully answers for her crimes, even rejecting a plea bargain when she testifies against Novacom, and accepts that she's going to go to prison for what she's done.
  • We Will Meet Again: Dr. Blackgaard and his mole, city councilman Mr. Glossman, in "The Nemesis".
  • Where the Heck is Odyssey: It's probably somewhere in the eastern Midwest area (it's east of Iowa, west of Chicago, and north of the Mason-Dixon line), but the clues don't get any more specific.
  • White Collar Crime: Ernie Myers was imprisoned for it, resulting in a significant amount of drama for his family in "Where's Your Daddy", "Like Father, Like Son", and "Forgive Us as We Forgive".
  • Whole Plot Reference: "Blind Justice" to 12 Angry Men.
  • Why Waste a Wedding?: When it looks like Eugene and Katrina will be late to their own ceremony in "For Better or For Worse", Tom and Agnes Riley take the opportunity to renew their vows instead.
  • You Are Not Ready: Whit to Connie and Eugene in "A Bite of Applesauce", with full Adam and Eve and Forbidden Fruit analogy.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: Most of the Imagination Station adventures fall into this trope (anyone inside can go through large periods of time in history, but leave with little time having passed outside).
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The Imagination Station, the Room Of Consequences, and the Transmuter. They all run according the rule that governs the Star Trek holodeck: it is perfectly safe until it isn't.
    • The Inspiration Station falls under this as well.

Alternative Title(s): Adventures In Odyssey

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Radio/AdventuresInOdyssey