As part of a new wave of television shows that debut during the early summer, Kyle XY
is a modern-day sci-fi show built around the title character of Kyle that aired 2006-2009. In the first episode, Kyle is a mute, naked, wide-eyed teenager with no memory and no belly button found wandering out of the woods and into the Puget Sound area of Washington state. After a short stay at a juvenile delinquent center, social worker and psychiatrist Nicole Trager sees a benign personality in Kyle that doesn't belong there, so she obtains permission to provide a type of foster care with her own family.
Her family is hesitant at having a stranger around, but Kyle shows a certain affection for them and his simple honesty despite not saying a word wins them over. At the end of the first episode, Kyle says his first words to his surrogate family and their story begins, but not without him having strange traits like preferring to sleep in the bathtub.
The rest of his new family consists of patriarch Stephen Trager, a brother in Josh Trager who is convinced Kyle is an alien, and Lori as a big sister who shows him the nuances of teenage life. Kyle quickly gains a crush in the literal Girl Next Door
Amanda and a best friend in Declan, who has an on/off relationship with Lori. Also included is a shadowy stalker Tom Foss who knows where Kyle is from.
Over time, Kyle gathers an array of impressive abilities that no human should have. It appears that all of these abilities are a result of using far more of his mind then anyone else.
He learns entire languages and memorizes the encyclopedia in minutes. He is capable of instantaneously solving graduate level calculus. He jumped off a roof without any harm and recreated a .jpeg image after briefly seeing the base computer code.
While it doesn't take too long for the mystery to be solved, there are other problems surrounding it, not the least being that there is someone else exactly like him.
Airing on the ABC Family
network, part of the success of the show comes from the impressive advertising campaign, including viral marketing and several obvious sponsors. Critical reception has been very warm, with a lot of praise going out to actor Matt Dallas for a tone-perfect performance as the title character.
The series concluded with its third season, leaving a myriad of questions unanswered
, in true Kyle XY
style. Word of God
did, however, say a few things about where the story would have gone had it continued for a couple more seasons.
This show provides examples of:
- 90% of Your Brain : Specifically, Kyle (and later Jessi) uses around 50% of his brain, which is why he is so gifted and intelligent.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Declan and Lori.
- Almost Kiss: Kyle is FINALLY about to kiss Amanda at the dance when Jessie blows a fuse... Literally!! The ensuing light show throws them off their first kiss at the very last nanosecond. Audience's heads asplode.
- An Odd Place to Sleep: Kyle prefered the family bathtub over a bed.
- Artistic License – Biology: Played with. Kyle, drunk out of his head, instantly sobers up after violently puking, then explains that "I reversed the polarity of my liver to return my body to homeostasis!" This is implied to be a joke, though, in response to Josh suggesting that he do something like that earlier in the episode—which begs the question of how he actually sobered up so quickly.
- Awesomeness by Analysis
- Become a Real Boy: A great deal of the first season's most poignant moments deal with Kyle expressing his desire to fit in with the rest of humanity, and more specifically, be a real son to the Tragers.
- Belly Buttonless: Kyle, one of the first clue to others that he's not quite normal.
- Betty and Veronica: Kyle (Betty) and Charlie (Veronica) for Amanda, Lori (Betty) and Jessi (Veronica) for Declan, Mark (Betty) and Declan (Veronica) for Lori, and Amanda (Betty) and Jessi (Veronica) for Kyle.
- Bilingual Bonus
- Birds of a Feather: Lori and Mark, Kyle and Jessi, Josh and Andy.
- Buffy Speak: Lori: "I could see the sparkage in your eyes."
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : Josh smokes pot only a couple of times and his parents come down on him. Hard. Even more bizarrely, the pot he was smoking belonged to his parents.
- Changeling Fantasy
- Characterization Marches On: Hilary was an outstanding example of this. When we first meet her in Season One, she starts out as an unlikeable an Alpha Bitch, but as time goes on, she gradually evolves into a much better person, genuinely repentant for her past misdeeds, and actually becoming one of the most likable characters by the time of the final season.
- Similarly, Declan, who went from being a jealous jock with a dislike for Kyle to his best friend and confidant.
- Circumcision Angst: Kyle averts this, even though Lori has an issue with it.
- Cloning Blues: Kyle being a clone has been Jossed in the third season finale, when a character claims that they share a common mother. Cloning is mentioned in the same episode, but Kyle and Jessi respond as if it's never been done before.
- Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Most of the Big Bads, since the series' primary antagonist was a Mega Corp.. Miss Thatcher from Season 1 and Mr. Ballantine from Season 2 are prime examples.
- Cute Bruiser: Amanda, actually, though it's double subverted. She hits Nathan with a vase, smashing it over his head. Jessi tells her that he'll wake up soon, "because you don't hit hard enough." This time she punches him out much harder.
- Darker and Edgier: The series got progressively darker as it went along, but Season 3 marked a definite shift.
- Distaff Counterpart: Kyle gets one in Season 2.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Jessi.
- Evil Brit: Michael Cassidy in Season 3.
- Evil Mentor: It seemed that Foss was this to Kyle, until it turned out to be Taylor... who then becomes the Evil Mentor to Jessi.
- Five-Man Band: various potential candidates for the roles, and various configurations for the team concept...
- The Leader: Kyle obviously, as the lead character. Doesn't actually become this until Season 2, with Mr. & Mrs. Trager surprised that he's become the ringleader.
- The Lancer: Declan to Kyle. Foss to Baylin and/or Hillary to Lori.
- The Smart Guy: Big shoes to fill with someone like Kyle around, but Josh is closest to filling The Trickster version of this trope, and is usually Kyle's go-to source of sneaky guile for pulling off teenage shenanigans.
- The Big Guy: Foss, with his military training, experience, and protective nature. Jessi becomes this after her Face-Heel Turn, as she is also scarily protective of those few that she considers family.
- The Chick: Lori and/or Amanda.
- Token Evil Teammate: Jessi, until her (gradual) Face-Heel Turn. Still viewed as a Sixth Ranger even afterwards.
- Follow the Leader: Has a rather similar premise to John Doe, another TV series about someone who wakes up naked in Seattle with no memory of his past, who possesses a vast amount of knowledge and who is being watched by a mysterious Mega Corp.. The crucial difference is that Kyle simply assimilates information at an incredible rate, while John started off knowing everything, Kyle was a 16-year old science experiment while John was a ressurected dead man, and Kyle had No Social Skills while John was a fairly average man. Of course, the premise itself is not original.
- Foreshadowing: The brief advert for MadaCorp in the second episode of Season One.
- Gamer Chick: Andy, full on. Her goodbye party is playing G-Force and eating junk food. This is one of the reasons Josh falls for her.
- Gender-Blender Name: Andy (short for Andromeda), which in classic tradition causes some identity mix-up. Josh didn't know she was a girl until she told him her screen name, which left him with his jaw hanging open because she'd been the one kicking his ass online.
- Genius Bruiser: Jessi is as smart as Kyle, but has a more of a tendency to get violent - and enjoys it.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Amanda and Jessi sure have a lot of tension concerning Kyle once Jessi's programmed into developing feelings for him.
- Happily Married: Stephen and Nicole
- Has Two Mommies: Andy.
- Also counts as Suddenly Sexuality, since this was only mentioned in an episode concerning homosexuality (although later referenced again in later episodes).
- I Am Spartacus: Kyle leads the basketball team on this in episode 7 of season 1.
- Important Haircut: Lori cuts Jessi's hair near the end of season 2 when Sarah, who has shorter hair, comes and Jessi leaves her "father", Brian Taylor. Lori even utters the line, "Once we do this, there's no turning back."
- Innocuously Important Episode: Since the series was a mystery drama, many episodes fell under this.
- Invincible Hero: Kyle became one of these after Season 1.
- Jerk Jock: At first it seems that Declan is this trope, but he ends up becoming one of the most awesome characters on the show, and a great friend and confidante to Kyle (and love interest to Lori). Whereas Charlie, Amanda's boyfriend, starts off as a subversion of this but by Season 2 he's taken to cheating and eventually they break up. Also, he turns out to be highly homophobic - ironic considering the role his actor would land later on in a highly LGBT-friendly environment.
- Ladykiller in Love: Declan for Lori.
- Left Hanging: And how! If anything, the series finale raised more questions than it answered.
- Literal-Minded: Kyle, though he gradually gets better.
- Living Lie Detector: Kyle.
- Lovable Alpha Bitch: Hillary.
- Love Triangle: Kyle/Amanda/Charlie, Lori/Declan/Jessi, Declan/Lori/Mark, and Amanda/Kyle/Jessi.
- Magic Floppy Disk
- Making a Splash: Kyle develops hydrokinesis in "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades."
- Mentors: Several...
- Mid-Season Twist: In season 1, Kyle sees Foss in his dreams, which have begun to show flashes of memory.
- Misplaced Wildlife: The Other Rainforest doesn't have rattlesnakes.
- Muggle Foster Parents
- Naïve Newcomer: And how. Much of the first season's comedy was derived from Kyle's attempts to understand various social mores and ideas.
- Naked on Arrival: Kyle and Jessi.
- No Social Skills: Kyle was not raised by anyone and so is not familiar with any social norms.
- Not Wearing Tights
- Not What It Looks Like: (Also, Not What It Sounds Like) Variously played straight and subverted.
- The Obi-Wan: Adam Baylin serves this role very closely.
- After the series was cancelled, co-creator Julie Pleck revealed that had the show gone on, eventually Declan would have assumed this type of role by the end.
- Omniscient Council of Vagueness: Latnok.
- Photographic Memory: Kyle goes one step further, having a holographic memory, reliving events in three-dimensional space.
- The Plan: Kyle and Jessi hatch one to ensnare Cassidy at the end of Season 3.
- Porn Stash: Josh keeps one (of course). It's the source of much hilarity, especially in Season 1. Arguably the best moment being when he doesn't want to play the Ouija Board, because that's where the magazines are hidden.
- Portmanteau Couple Name: Many, a surprising amount of which are actually in-universe: Leclan (Lorri and Declan), Keclan (Kyle and Declan), Kylanda (Kyle and Amanda) and Kessi (Kyle and Jessi).
- Power Incontinence: Kyle and Jessi use their Psychic Powers unintentionally when they feel distressed.
- Product Placement: Kyle's Trademark Favorite Food for most of the first season was, quite specifically, Sour Patch Kids.
- This is a VERY rare case where Product Placement was actually done in an endearing way, as Kyle's absolute love for Sour Patch Kids candy became a fun quirk of the character.
- Prom Is for Straight Kids: Happens as one of the principal's Kick the Dog moments; forgetting that in a public school, having a straight-only prom is not actually legal (not that this stops many schools in real life).
- Psychic Nosebleed: Happens to Kyle and Jessi when they strain or over-use their powers.
- Refuge in Audacity: Apparently in the past Adam Baylin's girlfriend/counterpart Sarah wrote all the answers to a college test on the ceiling of a classroom. The professors, while angry, were far too impressed and shocked to expel her.
- Rule of Pool: Averted. In the first episode, Kyle has a fight with a Police Officer by a swimming pool, yet no one ends up getting thrown into it.
- Sarcasm-Blind: But Kyle learns fast.
- A Shared Suffering: Kyle and Jessi
- Shirtless Scene: Kyle in "Grounded." It also overlaps with Innocent Fanservice Guy, because of the context:
Amanda: I know you're one of those guys who'll give the shirt off his back to help, but...(Kyle takes off his shirt
) I didn't mean it literally.
- Sleep Cute: The above scene eventually culminates in this.
- Spock Speak: Kyle, especially the way he describes normal human activity in his narration.
- Supernatural Soap Opera
- Team Dad: Stephen Trager
- Team Mom: Nicole Trager
- There Is Another: Jessi and Adam Baylin's female counterpart Sarah.
- Think Unsexy Thoughts: Suggested by Josh to Kyle so he can avoid embarrassing public erections, in addition to A Date with Rosie Palms (for which Josh lends Kyle one of his girly magazines.)
- Title Drop: "I'm Kyle XY!" - said by a very drunk Kyle in Season 3.
- Two First Names: Brian Taylor.
- Two-Person Pool Party: Josh gets one in "Diving In." Not that it goes anywhere...
- Well Done Daughter Girl: Jessi, to Taylor and later Sarah.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The fate of Miss Thatcher and the Head of Security at Zzyzx is never revealed, although it is implied that they were killed when Foss firebombed the facility. Similarly, many minor characters appear in only one episode and never show up again, and even main antagonists can simply drop off without a word. After MadaCorp is defeated in Season 2, the corporation - and the newly-promoted Emily Hollander - are seen in one further episode, and are then never mentioned again. In Season 2 alone, there were three separate Big Bads, all of which pretty much went unmentioned after they were defeated.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Jessi
- Wrong Guy First: Amanda with Charlie, who ends up cheating on her.
- X Called; They Want Their Y Back: "Hilary Duff called, she wants her shirt back."
- Yandere: Jessi. Not quite Ax-Crazy, but she does have a very strong tendency to force out the competition, emotional instability, and very strong protective instincts toward anyone she considers family. She even threatens Cassidy with death if he touches the Tragers.