Recap / Danny Phantom S 1 E 1 Mystery Meat

14-year-old Danny Fenton — son of professional ghost hunters, freshman at Casper High in the lovely suburban town of Amity Park — has gained ghost powers. He can fly, turn intangible, turn invisible, sense when a ghost is nearby, and who knows what else. The problem is he's still having trouble controlling them. And keeping his parents, nosy older sister Jazz, and everyone at school from finding out ("If somebody catches me, I go from geek to freak around here!"). To make matters worse, his best friend — the Goth and extreme Soap Box Sadie, Sam Manson — has convinced the school to switch to a vegetarian menu, something that both his other best friend — Extraverted Nerd and Gadgeteer Genius Tucker Foley — and the ghost of a lunch lady are not happy about. It's up to Danny to stop the ghost and save his school... while stopping his friends from fighting, staying under his parents' radar, dodging the persistent school bully Dash Baxter, and serving the punishments handed out by Vice-Principal Lancer for the all the trouble he gets blamed for. Having super powers is a great responsibility, all right.

This episode provides examples of:

  • Asleep for Days: Parodied.
    Danny: What happened?
    Tucker: You passed out. We took you home. You've been asleep for four days.
    Danny: Four days?!
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    Jazz: (to her parents) You've ambushed me, suffocated me with smoke, and worst — I was pulled away from Spike before he had his breakthrough!
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Fenton Thermos, which Danny retains for the rest of the series.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: After capturing the Lunch Lady, Danny decides, "I think I've finally figured out what these powers are for..." and begins his career as a ghost-fighting super hero.
  • Everyone Can See It: According to Dash, it seems to be common knowledge among the Casper High student body that Just Friends Danny and Sam are a couple.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Sam and Tucker put their feud aside and make up once they have more important things to deal with, like helping Danny fight a psychotic, obsessive-compulsive ghost.
  • Food Fight: Danny starts one to create a distraction.
  • Foreshadowing: "If my dad could invent something that accidentally made me half-ghost, why can't he invent something that turns me back to normal?"
  • Group Hug: Danny has Sam and Tucker do this to hide him while he transforms.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Danny is still getting the hang of flying, turning intangible, and even transforming, often falling out of the sky or phasing through walls without meaning to.
  • In Medias Res: There's no Super Hero Origin episode — the Freak Lab Accident that gave Danny his powers happened a month ago. The series begins with the first ghost he fights and his decision to use his powers to catch evil ghosts.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    Tucker: Thanks again for making us eat garbage, Sam!
    Sam: It's not garbage — it's recyclable organic matter.
    Tucker and Danny: It's garbage.
  • Masquerade: Danny struggles to keep his powers a secret because he doesn't want to look like a freak. He doesn't tell his parents because, like a typical teenager, he doesn't think they'd understand.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    Tucker: We've gotta find Sam. For some reason, I feel like I got her kidnapped...
    Danny: Maybe because you told the ghost she changed the menu? How about that?!
  • Parental Obliviousness: Jack and Maddie are professional ghost hunters but are completely oblivious to the fact that their son is now half-ghost. When one of their gadgets designed to detect ghosts actually tells them he's a ghost, they conclude, "That can't be right!" To their credit, they do eventually suspect one of their children is a ghost... their daughter Jazz.
  • Post-Victory Collapse: Danny's second battle with the Lunch Lady leaves him unconscious, something that will happen less and less as the series goes on.
  • Serious Business: The Lunch Lady is really pissed off when Sam changes the menu.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: This series-long Running Gag begins when Dash blames Danny's "girlfriend" for changing the menu.
    Danny: (surprised) She's not my girlfriend.
    Sam: (annoyed) I'm not his girlfriend!
  • Shout-Out: Danny's school is named after Casper the Friendly Ghost and his hometown after Amityville. Given that Butch Hartman pitched the show as "Ghostbusters meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer," the wealth of Shout Outs to The Real Ghostbusters in the first episode alone are hardly surprising:
    • The Fenton Thermos is a cylindrical Ghost Trap.
    • The Fenton Finder has a similar design and the exact same function as a PKE meter.
    • Just like their predecessors, Jack and Maddie became professional ghost hunters despite the fact that, prior to the events of this episode, they've never seen a ghost.
    • Sam and Tucker each respectively bear a strong resemblance (physically and in personality) to Extreme Ghostbusters Kylie Griffin and Roland Jackson.
    • Being turned half-ghost by an explosion also happened to Egon Spengler in the Real Ghostbusters episode "Egon's Ghost":
      Egon: It would seem that the energy backlash has completely destabilized my molecular structure.
      Peter: In other words... you're a ghost!
      Egon: Not technically, since I'm still alive, but for all practical purposes — yes.
    • For now, except for the ability to fly, Danny has the same powers Egon did. Intangibility and invisibility you'd expect; one power, however, stands out in particular.
      Egon: Put that away, Ray — you won't need it. I can sense where the ghost is.
    • The Lunch Lady does with meat what the ghost in the Real Ghostbusters episode "Station Identification" does with television sets — turns into a giant meat/electronics monster by surrounding themselves with the stuff, forming a giant battle suit. The materials swoop in around them in the exact same manner.
  • Split Personality: The Lunch Lady shifts between a calm, sweet old woman and a furious, hulking monster with flaming red eyes.
  • Starter Villain: The ecto-pusses and the Lunch Lady are challenging opponents for the newbie, all right, but they'll seem like child's play before the season is halfway through.
  • Supernatural Aid: The Fenton Thermos — Danny's able to defeat the monster once he obtains it (which he wouldn't have done if not for his courage and determination to fight).
  • Threshold Guardian: The Lunch Lady functions as this — once Danny figures out how to defeat her, he's able to assume his proper role and proceed on his journey of becoming a hero.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Dash is furious at Sam for changing the menu, but instead of going after her, he goes after the guy he thinks is her boyfriend.