Series / Beetleborgs

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Just three typical, average kids.

Beetleborgs was a live-action series produced by Saban Entertainment and aired on Fox Kids. Called Big Bad Beetleborgs in the first season and changed to Beetleborgs Metallix in the second. A Power Rangers-like Sentai show, it incorporated footage from a Japanese show (in this case, the Metal Heroes shows, Juukou B-Fighter and B-Fighter Kabuto) with new footage created in the United States. The show lasted from September 1996 to March 1998.

Unlike Power Rangers, this show made little attempt to be serious, being more light-hearted and comical (meaning that it makes even the early seasons of Power Rangers look like a Sam Peckinpah film). It also had a storyline completely different from its Japanese counterparts. It even aimed to a younger demographic, evidenced by the heroes being 9-10 years old.

It starred three typical all-American kids: Drew McCormick, his sister Jo, and their best friend Roland Williams, whose family owns the local comic shop, where they spend most of their time. On a dare from some bullies, they go inside the local "Haunted House." Once inside, they free Flabber, a wacky ghost with Elvis Presley's hair, Jay Leno's chin, Liberace's wardrobe, and all just generally filtered through The Joker, who had been imprisoned in the pipe organ. Flabber cannot thank the kids enough, so he offers to grant a wish for them. The three young comic book fans know what they want, and that is to be able to transform into their favorite superheroes, The Big Bad Beetleborgs. Flabber grants their wish, and the children are given the power to turn into the heroes, but now that the heroes exist in the real world, the villains from the comic book likewise come to life to spread chaos (via the Monster of the Week).

The three friends, with their new powers and a little help from Flabber, must stop them. This is complicated by the "House Monsters", comic relief monsters (Count Fangula, a vampire; Wolfgang, a werewolf; Mums, a mummy; Frankenbeans, a Frankenstein's Monster, and later Little Ghoul a... er, little ghoul), who often try to eat the kids, but generally have to settle for eating the screen-time and the scenery.

The second season had an exchange of villains and subsequently an exchange of costumes, with a new ally in the artist who created the comics and his evil brother working for the new bad guys. Slightly Darker and Edgier but nothing too shocking. The show remained relatively popular, but like Power Rangers the source footage eventually ran out. Unlike Rangers, there was no follow-up series to adapt (well technically there was, but it was drastically different from the previous B-Fighter shows and was somehow even more kid-friendly than Beetleborgs).

As of June 2011, the entire series (along with VR Troopers and Power Rangers) is available for streaming on Netflix.

This comes with a character sheet.


This show features examples of:

  • Advertising-Only Continuity: A commercial which claimed that the bad guys and the borgs were aliens from another planet, when they were actually kids who wished to become the comic book heroes, the Beetleborgs.
    • Another Big Bad Beetleborgs commercial had generic mutants represent their enemies.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Subverted. Both groups of villains easily and frequently enter Hillhurst as if they own the place already, but it never seems to occur to them that they can destroy the place without any effort due to this.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: The heroes are insect-themed.
  • Animorphism: In Metallix the kids gained the ability to turn into actual beetles.
  • Art Initiates Life: Monsters are created from comic books in the first season and Les' new drawings in the second. And, of course, most if not all upgrades to the Beetleborgs' gear are drawn by Art Fortunes, the creator of the comic.
  • Bayonet Ya: Sonic Laser Sabers, which each split into a Sonic Laser and a Pulsaber.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: On several occasions, the bad guys prove to be more than the Beetleborgs can handle.
  • Big Bad:
    • Vexor in the first season, Nukus in the second.
    • The trope's name itself is averted with the first season's title, Big Bad Beetleborgs ("Bad" as in "cool", not "evil"). None of the Beetleborgs would ever qualify as the primary villain, though Shadowborg is so far the only evil Beetleborg.
  • Big Good: Flabber is this in the overall series, as he is the one who supplies the Borgs with their powers and arsenal, while also supplying them with his occasional bouts of wisdom. Roboborg is this trope in the latter part of second season, since he is the most powerful being on the side of good, to the point that even the Big Bad Nukus is afraid of him.
  • Conspicuous CG: Noticeable when the Beetle A.V.'s show up in the first season- the US stock footage has them rendered in CGI, sized just a bit bigger than normal cars. The stock footage B-Fighter used had practical props that were far larger for its' footage.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: Beetle Blast!
    • In case of Blue Stinger becoming Mega Blue, it's Mega Blast!
    • Inverted with Back Blast!, causing the Beetleborgs to revert to their kid-appeal selves.
    • Bug out! transforms them into actual-sized beetles, also inverted with Bug back!
  • Cain and Abel: The Fortunes brothers, Art and Les.
  • Camp Gay: Never an overtly stated preference, but Flabber IS patterned partly on Liberace.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: The Beetleborgs version of vampirism is somewhere between this and a pyramid scheme.
  • Chest Blaster: Lightning Borg
  • Competitive Balance
  • Cool Old Lady: Roland's grandmother, Nano.
  • Cousin Oliver: Parodied. Drew and Jo have a cousin named Oliver who they, and the Magnavores, find incredibly annoying.
  • Christmas Episode: "Christmas Bells and Phasm's Spells."
  • Chromatic Arrangement: In the first season.
  • Continuity Cameo: Janperson (renamed "Karato") makes a cameo in "Convention Dimension" alongside his rival Gun Gibson (as "Silver Ray") and his nemesis Bill Goldy (as "Goldex"). Since Tokusou Robo Janperson was never adapted into an Americanized series, his cameo is treated as another fictional superhero who lives in his own universe, much like the Beetleborgs themselves.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Don't push Wolfie too far. He was the only monster to try to help the Beetleborgs when they were getting thrashed by Nukus. It didn't help much, but he was actually able to touch the guy, which the heroes couldn't.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Several, but most striking was when Nukus easily thrashed the Beetleborgs and destroyed their powers like it was nothing. Even after they get an upgrade, their first fight with him didn't go well.
  • Cute Bruiser: Jo. The youngest member of the trio, and the only girl, is the one with super-strength.
  • Cut Short: The Beetleborgs never got to defeat the Crustaceans due to the show running out of B-Fighter Kabuto footage.
  • Darker and Edgier: Though not by much, the Metallix season is a bit more serious compared to the first, since the villains are more competent and threatening, while the goofy comic book effects completely disappear from the battle scenes.
  • Daywalking Vampire: Count Fangula tends to wear sunglasses when he goes outside, and mentions that sunlight has a bad effect on his "complexion", but is otherwise all right. He appears to avoid long-term exposure to sunlight, but a few hours' worth do him no harm.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The theme song refers to the heroes as 'three typical average kids'.
    "Hey look, now they're superheroes, armed with super powers."
  • Evil Counterpart: The Magnavores, the villains of the first season, spring into existence from the same comic book that the Beetleborg powers originated from, to serve as a counter-balance to the kids having the powers of the book's heroes; whereas the Shadowborg is a direct counterpart to the Beetleborgs.
    • Inverted with Josh/the White Beetleborg - His powers were solely dependent on the existence of the Shadowborg, and faded shortly after the destruction of the Shadowborg.
    • In some ways, Les Fortunes is this to his brother.
    • Roboborg and Boron.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Vexor raided the home of the creator of the Beetleborgs and himself, Art Fortune, looking for a new minion powerful enough to defeat them. He finds a drawing of an unknown character named Nukus, who Art warns against bringing to life. Nukus was actually created by Art's brother Les, and is a much more sinister evil than Vexor, who Art created to be more harmless. Nukus proves to be the downfall of Vexor, and the Big Bad of the next season.
  • Expository Theme Tune: Both of them explain how the story began.
  • Eye Beams: Nukus has them.
  • Fish People:
    • A Monster of the Week in the episode Something Fishy is one of these. Initially believed to be the local legend "Charterville Charlie", a creature described as half-man, half-tuna, it turns out to be Swamp Scumoid, the latest monster from the Beetleborgs comics. (Unlike most monsters in the series, Swamp Scumoid didn't come from the source footage of Juukou B-Fighter; its suit was later used for the gigantic title character of the movie Kraa The Sea Monster.)
    • Vilor, one of the villains in the second season, is this.
  • First Episode Weirdness: The one of the two rich kids who is later established as "the Jock" boasts of becoming captain of the Chess Club. The Pipettes seem to be set up for a much more pivotal role. Mums also spends almost all his screen time unraveled to a Monster of the Week esque skeleton monster, able to generate red bolts of electricity, which he, of course, never did again.
  • Foreshadowing: Josh arrives in town, and promptly woos Drew's crush, and is generally well liked by everyone except Drew; at the same time an evil counterpart to the Beetleborgs appears & beats them at every opportunity.
  • Fourth Beetleborgs: Josh Baldwin in season 1, Astral Borgs in season 2.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Season 1, episode 44, "The Good, The Bad, and the Scary." The Borgs switch bodies (and powers) with the Magnavors.
  • For the Evulz: The primary motivation of the villains is to simply be evil. After all, they're kid grade comic book villains. This leads to such petty activities as stealing pirate books from the library so that the heroes will get bad grades in their classes, or stealing a train because seeing a model one makes them think it would be a good idea. They have a secondary motivation in trying to seal shut the portal to the comic book universe, but their 2-D counterparts aren't mentioned to have any such complex goals.
  • Fur Against Fang: Inverted; Wolfsbane and Fangula have been close friends for a long time.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In one episode, a "personal trainer" for the monsters looks more like an S&M leatherdaddy, complete with flail.
    • Fangula: "Are we paying extra for the abuse?"
  • Goofy Print Underwear: A recurring theme, occurring more than once in the first episode. Count Fangula's underwear has little bats.
  • Halloween Episode: Two of them, actually: "Bye Bye, Frankie" (Season 1) and "Halloween Haunted House of Horrors" (Season 2).
  • Headless Horseman: In "Headless Over Heels", the Headless Horseman had an encounter with Wolfgang in the old country and allergies to him is what made him lose his head. When he arrives in Charterville looking for his head, he thought Wolfgang had it and tried to claim it back (or take the head of the other Hillhurst monsters). It turns out that Little Ghoul had his head which she used for bowling and ended up giving it back. Bolts were attached to the head to keep it from falling off again.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Boron in the final episode.
  • Henshin Hero: Very much.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Weird example with Fangula. He has continually tried to eat the protagonists, but they've also been on the same side on a few occasions. Then, Vlad the Impaler shows up to get him in trouble for not working enough evil in the community. Maybe, if not for vampiric regulations, he would have had a Heel–Face Turn long ago? Either way, he has an undeniable BSOD.
  • Hit Flash: Of the Batman variety; justified in that the heroes are based on comic book characters. They were very prominent early in the first season, but gradually appeared less and less until completely disappearing in the second season.
  • Hello, Nurse!: Monsterella was created specifically to evoke this reaction in the monsters.
    • The Bride of Frankenbeans gets a similar reaction.
    • So does a date Wolfie gets through a computer dating service. The trope is used verbatim, although pronounced more like "Rerrooo Rurse".
  • Humongous Mecha: Gargantis is a non-humanoid example in the first season, as he is a giant Hercules beetle. Roboborg and his Evil Counterpart Boron are this in the second season, playing it more straight as they are humanoids.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Count Fangula hates fleas because they drink blood from unsuspecting victims. Apparently, only some parasites can pull that off.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The monsters, played for laughs. If it wasn't for "Blood Light", Fangula would probably starve to death.
  • The Incomprehensible: Wolfsbane only speaks wolf-language, which Fangula usually translates.
  • Japanese Beetle Brothers, rounded out by a ladybug
  • Jumped at the Call: The heroes actually wished to become superheroes, which is part of what kicked off the ongoing plot.
  • Kid Appeal Characters: The three typical average kids themselves.
  • Knight of Cerebus: When Nukus shows up the threat level increases tenfold. Vexor was a rather forgettable villain in general, Nukus swiftly manipulates the situation so that he had no challenger. Even still anyone who does fight him ends up on the bad end of a Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • Laughably Evil: Pretty much any evil thing the Hillhearst monsters do falls here.
  • Lawful Stupid: Any law enforcement agency in the series, which is why three children wind up enforcing so much of the peace and order.
  • Leitmotif: Each of the Stock Superpowers has an audio track to match.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to Saban's other live action works, such as Power Rangers and VR Troopers, this series simply embraces its silliness and keeps a very lighthearted tone.
  • Losing Your Head: There is one episode in Metallix where Roland, Drew, and Jo attempt to remove their heads. In the end of "Headless Over Heels", the Hillhurst Monsters sneeze their heads off their bodies thanks to sneezing powder.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Frankenbeans is one, and proud of it. (Although, he may well be the Only Sane Man among the characters with supernatural backgrounds.)
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: Used for a sight gag. Flabber hands Fangula a mirror, saying it will show what you see when you look up "obnoxious" in a dictionary. Fangula, of course, doesn't have a reflection, so the intended insult falls flat.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Creator of the Beetleborgs comic book, Art Fortunes, and his less successful, jailbird brother Les Fortunes.
    • Some of the villains have these. Examples are Horibelle and Vilor, who's names are obviously puns on the words horrible and vile.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: The Metallix armor in the second season. Technically not mid-season, but done for similar reasons.
  • Monster Mash: The House Monsters - comedic versions of Dracula, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein's Monster, and The Mummy.
  • Monster of the Week: Vexor summons them from Beetleborgs comics, making him dependent on whatever monster appears in the current issue. Nukus has Les Fortunes draw his monsters for him, after which he summons the monster from the drawing.
  • Monster Roommate: The heroes get their powers from a benign entity apparently confined to a house also populated by more hostile monsters.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: This show has a fair share of celebrity impressions. Notable examples are:
    • Flabber, who looks like a combination between Elvis Presley and Jay Leno, with the mannerisms of Jim Carrey.
    • One Monster of the Week disguises himself as the trainer Hurt-Ulese, who's Austrian accent and constantly quoting "I'll be back" betray he is based on Arnold Schwarzenegger. Fun thing to note is that Hercules is Arnolds first international role.
    • Hillhurst was also visited by I. M. Fine, the writer of the horror book series Fright Files. He is obviously based on Goosebumps writer R.L. Stine.
  • No Ending: Like VR Troopers before it, once the B-Fighter footage ran out, the show was over. Metallix ends with the heroes in charge of BOTH Humongous Mecha and holding effectively all the powerups and MacGuffins they were fighting over. Les Fortunes also quits working with Nukus. But, most notably, Nukus and his gang are never actually defeated.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Vlad the Impaler.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Apparently, in this universe vampires don't need blood to survive, since Count Fangula can survive many months without consuming a drop of blood and only treats it as a delicacy. However, vampires seem to be required to suck blood as some sort of job. Failing to reach a certain quota will result in punishment. Also, vampires seem to be immune to the effects of daylight, as Fangula and Vlad are seen walking outside of Hillhurst with only sunglasses.
  • Powered Armor: The Beetleborg suits.
  • Product Placement: The entire "Convention Dimension" takes place at San Diego Comic Con, with the only other costumed characters seen coming from either other shows on Fox Kids (The Tick, X-Men) or shows dubbed by Saban (Samurai Pizza Cats).
  • Psycho Rangers: The Mantrons. However, they are not this trope towards the main Beetleborgs, but rather towards their backup team; the Astral Borgs.
  • Puns: Too many to list, especially when Flabber is on the screen.
  • Put on a Bus: Josh loses his powers, and says he'll be around if the team ever needs him again... And he was never seen again.
  • Red Is Heroic: Averted, the blue Beetleborg is the leader, not red, who turned out to be The Smurfette Principle.
  • Scratch Damage: An unusual example if you think too hard about it. When Nukus appeared, the Beetleborgs stood no chance against him. Between their defeat and acquiring their Metallix powers, they learned a spell that let them turned into beetles, which they once used around Nukus. They had to distract him, so they bit his foot...making him yelp out in pain.
  • The Scully:
    • The monsters, in a certain episode of the first season, refuse to believe in the existence of the so-called "Charterville Charlie". This, despite the monsters consisting of a werewolf, a vampire, a mummy, a Frankenstein's monster, and whatever a "phasm" is, and living in a town regularly threatened by hybrid monsters from a comic book universe.
    • Jo says, "there's no such thing as the Boogerman"...to a vampire.
  • Self-Destructive Charge: At the conclusion of the Shadowborg arc, Vexxor comes down to deal with the Beetleborgs himself. At first he blasts them away, but they steel their resolve and charge at him, straight through his lighting blasts. They manage to impale him with their weapons, causing him to explode. The borgs are fine. Unfortunately, so is Vexxor.
  • Spiritual Successor: Originally Saban planned to adapt B-Fighter into a third season of VR Troopers, but they decided to start from scratch instead with a new Americanized adaptation of the Metal Heroes franchise.
  • So Last Season: The first fight of the Metallix season showcases this trope for the old Beetleborg suits, as Nukus easily wipes the floor with the kids, while nothing in the Borgs' arsenal is able to put as much as a scratch on him. To make matters worse, Nukus completely and utterly destroys their suits. For this reason, the Beetleborgs upgraded to the much more powerful Beetleborgs Metallix suits.
  • Stock Superpowers
  • Stupid Evil: The house monsters will take any opportunity to try to eat the kids, even when the kids have JUST saved them from some dire fate. Of course, the kids all have civilian powers that mean they can more than take care of themselves.
  • Sunnydale Syndrome: The Magnavores run down the street in broad daylight, committing havok and assaulting people, but nobody notices until they're being explicitly threatened. This isn't even counting the constant Monster of the Week battles, or the fact that the comic book superheroes everyone in town seems to love so much are constantly showing up to save the day.
  • Super Mode: Mega Blue, and later the Mega Spectra Beetleborgs
  • Super Robot: Roboborg and Boron.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Vexor in regards to the Magnavores.
  • Swiss Army Gun: Each Beetleborg in season 1 carried the Sonic Laser, a gun with a 10-key keypad that can fire different lasers and effects. In season 2, they carry the Data Lasers, which fires different ammo and effects depending on the Input Card inserted inside.
  • Terrible Trio: Noxic, Typhus, and Jara in season 1. The Crustaceans in season 2.
  • ˇThree Amigos!: Titular heroes.
  • Those Two Guys: Trip and Van, the rich bullies.
  • Title Theme Tune: One for each season.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Nano and Roland's mother, Abbie.
  • Transformation Sequence: Shows drawings of their armor becoming three dimensional.
  • Transformation Trinket: The Beetle Bonders first, then the Data Bonders after the Metallix upgrade. Both of the devices, would also be used to summon their vehicles — voice command in Season 1, and via Input Cards in Season 2.
  • True Companions: The Monsters are constantly trying to eat the kids, and the kids will prank them in self defense, but when there something that threatens one group or the other, they will do their best to protect each other. They have a strange friendship.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crime: A preteen Vampire Hunter who sets his sights on Count Fangula.
  • Vampire Vords: Fangula speaks with a strange combination of this and Not Even Bothering with the Accent.
    • When Van and Trip briefly become vampires in one episode, they start speaking the same way, possibly implying that a bad accent is a side effect of vampirism. Then again, they're children, and could just be playing the part as they've seen it.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: The kids still have to handle their civilian lives, in between monster attacks.
  • Whole Plot Reference: One episode had Flabber conjure himself a transporter booth... And then a fly got in.
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: In "Lights, Camera, Too Much Action," the movie director briefly ponders, making a movie about "kids who become superheroes and save the world." He then decides it's ridiculous.
  • Who You Gonna Call?: In one episode, Those Two Guys learn about Flabber, and enlist the help of a Ghostbuster type mad scientist. Too bad his ghost disintegrator only works on ghosts, and not on Magnavores...
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Metallix.

Alternative Title(s): Big Bad Beetleborgs, Beetleborgs Metallix

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/Beetleborgs