Series / RoboCop: The Series

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Robocop: The Series is a 1994 live-action series based on the 1987 film by Paul Verhoeven, and starring Richard Eden as the titular cyborg.

The show takes place in an Alternate Continuity (ignoring the events of Robocop 3), where Delta City (the project OCP is trying to complete in the films) is completed. Robocop/Alex Murphy (Eden) is still working for the Metro South police precinct, along with his partner, Lisa Madigan, and a new set of supporting characters, including precinct head Sgt. Stan Parks, technician Charlie Lippencott and an adopted orphan named Gadget. The pilot episode (which uses an early script for Robocop 2 as its basis) sees Robo running into several new enemies who would make appearances throughout the series, including "Pudface" Morgan, Dr. Cray Z. Mallardo and Corrupt Corporate Executive Chip Chayken.

Several other characters were seen in the series, including Murphy's wife Nancy and son Jimmy, as well as Diana Powers, an OCP executive who is murdered and has her brain uploaded into OCP's new Metronet computer system, thus allowing Murphy to access systems he wouldn't otherwise be able to get into.

21 episodes were made in total, with the pilot being a feature-length episode. The series is notable for featuring a more family-friendly storyline and toned-down violence — Robo would go out of his way to use non-lethal alternatives to capture criminals. More jarringly, OCP is now merely incompetent and naive; the Old Man of the film series being replaced by the greedy, but otherwise decent, Chairman.

The full series is available to watch via Amazon, and is free for Prime members.


RoboCop: The Series provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Abnormal Ammo: RoboCop's gun can now fire electronic tracking devices.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Due to rights issues, several characters outside of Murphy/RoboCop himself and his son Jimmy were renamed for the series. Anne Lewis became Lisa Madigan, Sgt. Reed became Sgt. Parks, the Old Man became the OCP Chairman, and Ellen Murphy became Nancy Murphy.
  • Adaptational Heroism: While still greedy, the OCP Chairman actually does have a conscience and cares for people, unlike the Old Man from the first two films. Even barring his Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome in RoboCop 2, the Old Man was apathetic towards people (his anger at the ED-209 screw up was more about the product malfunctioning, not the fact that said malfunction got an employee killed). In contrast, the Chairman does indeed care about people, willing to help them out and make things right when he finds out his company did something wrong.
  • Air Vent Escape: Gadget uses one to escape from the police station after she's been grounded. Thankfully they track her down as she's being targeted for kidnapping.
  • Alternate Continuity: The series assumes that the third film doesn't exist, and that OCP has already completed the Delta City project (which was one of the underlying threats of the original film) and is having to live with the consequences, while Robo is more directly tied to OCP interests and his immediate family.
  • Bondage Is Bad: One of the villains of "What Money Can't Buy" makes frequent mentions of bondage.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Madigan steals Robo's line when she wants to end a conversation about a woman she doesn't like but RoboCop feels is on the right track to being a decent human being.
  • Brain in a Jar: In the pilot episode, Diana is murdered to provide the brain needed for OCP's city managing supercomputer. Robo himself could also be considered this, as he is a brain with a human face and a few organs for life support. Diana, unlike Robo, doesn't keep any of her original body, instead becoming somehow a Projected Man.
  • California Doubling: Due to the fact that it was a Canadian production, locations in Toronto and the surrounding area act as doubles for Detroit.
  • Catch Phrase: Robo's customarily excuse for leaving is "I must go. Somewhere there is a crime happening." This is often Played for Laughs, but it's a constant reminder that he doesn't have true free will and the job is all he has.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In "The Human Factor", during a scene where Robo has to defuse a bomb, his father Russell (who is unaware that his son is RoboCop) teaches him to aim more steadily with his dataspike to press a deactivation switch. Several scenes later, when the bomber tries to detonate a nuclear device in the OCP building, Robo uses this same tactic to deactivate the device.
  • Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs: Commander Cash Super Flakes are described as being nothing but sugar, and it is believed that the advertising campaign is causing kids to go on a crime-spree. However, the cereal also has a psychotic compound that allows mind control.
  • Clear My Name: "Prime Suspect" sees Murphy having to do this after Bob Takker (a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Jim Bakker) was killed and Murphy's blamed for it.
  • Consummate Liar:
    • The mayor turns out to be so experienced in politics that anything he says, no matter how blatantly true or false it is, cannot be confirmed to be true or false under lie detector analysis. Even claiming to be Abraham Lincoln registers as having a 50% chance of being true, when he's subjected to a lie detector functionally identical to Robo's.
    • In the episode "RoboCop vs. Commander Cash", Robo has trouble arresting Rex Jones (an OCP researcher who's disguised as the titular cartoon character) because he claims that Robo "doesn't fight other superheroes" due to "cartoon law". Due to his overriding directives, Robo identifies Jones' statements as factual (and he turns out to be right).
    • The ex-lawyer baddie of "When Justice Fails". When he says something, Robo's lie detector simply gives up and says analysis is impossible.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In the first movie, Robo ends up bodily throwing people out of his way when trying to access the department archive computers for information. In here, whenever he turns up in that part of the station, everyone hurriedly gets out of his way.
    • The first film plays the Cobra Assault Cannon up as an anti-RoboCop weapon. In the pilot, Pudface finally shows what the gun can actually do to Robo.
  • Corporate-Sponsored Superhero: Commander Cash.
  • Crapsack World: While leagues above the world seen in the original film trilogy, the world in The Series isn't a picnic, either. It issaid in dialogue that a war in the Amazon is going on (though such a war was mentioned in the original trilogy, too), sections of Beverly Hills and Brooklyn have been walled off, and it's perfectly legal to market plushies that double as hand grenades and steroids (with the Family-Unfriendly Aesop that weaker kids deserve to get bullied, no less) to children. Also, speaking English in France can land you in jail, the Italian government has fallen, and the mayor and DA are corrupt and in league with other criminals (with the latter having a fake law degree and helped to frame someone for said phony degree).
  • Cyberspace: Diana solely inhabits one after having her brain scooped out and placed in-charge of Delta City. In "Heartbreakers", Charlie visits in an attempt to figure out what is going on with Robo, but instead ends up falling for Diana unaware that she's a disembodied brain running the city.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Several episodes hint at Madigan growing up in a broken home, which makes her decision to go on diet pills in one episode (ostensibly to lose weight, despite not appearing to need them at all) make a lot more sense in context.
  • Exact Words: In one episode, an escaping villain has his car computer guide him out of the city, avoiding all traffic jams and tollbooths. Diana has the computer guide him to a police roadblock.
    Diana: "This service has been brought to you by... RoboCop! Sucker!"
  • Embarrassing First Name: Gadget's first name turns out to be Gertrude. She and Jimmy don't like it.
  • Enhance Button:
    • The old "that last thing a person sees is still in their retina" idea pops up. Robo leans in and and zooms into the eyeball. He says, "It's not clear, but we can clear it up" before getting the computer system to fix the garbled image revealing the killer.
    • In "Illusions", Madigan is investigating a magician and comes across an old photo of him with his son. She presses the button and gets a 3D image; then she zooms into the throat and figures out the "boy" doesn't have an Adam's Apple thus figures out it's a woman (not a fool-proof method to figure out the gender of a person at any-rate) and who she is.
  • Expanded States of America: One of the MediaBreak segments in an episode mentioned a debate about Newfoundland becoming about the 53rd state. Ironically, despite being a staple in other uses of this trope, Puerto Rico isn't one of them, as another episode has a MediaBreak segment state the government sold it off to a company because they didn't have plans for it.
  • Evil Vegetarian: Dr. Cray Z. Mallardo, although being a vegetarian has little to do with him being a villain.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Robo still has his giant gun, but uses it mostly on objects, not people. He also has a whole new slew of less-lethal options.
  • Fakin' MacGuffin: "Heartbreakers" has RoboCop having to collect pieces of an advanced weapon in order to save his ex-wife. When he turns up with the final piece, it's revealed it's just an empty box.
  • Gratuitous Disco Sequence: In one episode, Diana is corrupted by a virus that causes her to transform herself and her workstation into a full disco club.
  • Groin Attack: Near the end of "Inside Crime", a clown-like gunman has Rochelle Carney (the OCP executive in charge of the "Inside Crime" television program) held hostage from within his custody. He then tells Robo and a few police officers to not do anything stupid. Rochelle decides that she's had enough and attacks the gunman herself, first with a back right elbow to his crotch, then a right kick to his groin before finally finishing him off with a hard right punch, to which she then jumps on top of him from upon the table and attempts to attack him much further before being pulled off by her fellow executives.
  • Hologram/Virtual Ghost: OCP secretary Diana, whose memory was uploaded to the OCP supercomputer after her death in the pilot episode.
  • Hospital Paradiso: In one episode, a doctor lost her job at a prestigious hospital and had to work in the slums due to her low success rate. It turns out that her former coworkers kept their rate up by deliberately denying service to patients they couldn't guarantee an easy recovery, whereas she tried to help everyone she could, hoping to at least save a few lives.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: In "Heartbreakers", Robo is forced to steal components for a prototype weapon (the said Heartbreaker) to secure the freedom of his ex-wife, putting him at odds with his programming and fellow officers.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Aside from extra ammunition (as referred to in the episode "Provision 22"), Robo carries several types of both non-lethal and lethal ordinance (mines, airbags), coolant and other devices/gadgets that would be used in any given episode, all stored in his left leg.
  • Ice Breaker: "When Justice Fails" is full of this, as it's centered around a cryonicatics/fuel company. First Robo's legs get frozen and he breaks it while attempting to pursue the criminal. Later, he gets completely frozen in about 3 seconds but thankfully uses a plug to warm himself up again. Then the criminal slips on the ice, falling right into a stream of liquid nitrogen, freezes solid instantly and breaks into pieces when something falls on him.
  • I Have Your Wife: A villain kidnaps Robo's wife from his old life. The item he is to steal is a ray gun that causes heart attacks, called the Heartbreaker. Initially, his built-in Restraining Bolt stops him, using Obstructive Code of Conduct three, "uphold the law". As soon as Robo pictures his wife in danger, directive two — "protect the innocent" — overrides this.
  • Innocent Innuendo: The pilot features a scene with two minor villains facing each other, bouncing up and down, and panting. Then the camera zooms out and rotates to reveal that they're working out on treadmills that are facing each other.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Why Robo hasn't revealed himself to his wife and son although his dad finds out eventually. This plot point means that the series disregards the second movie, which showed Murphy and his wife reuniting briefly, as well.
  • Just in Time: In "The Human Factor", Robo defuses the nuclear bomb with a single second left on the timer.
  • Law Enforcement, Inc.: Inverted; Robo often works against his employers to protect average citizens (including his wife and son).
  • Lighter and Softer: Following up on RoboCop 3, the series was dulled down to appeal to family audiences (and, indeed, it was shown in syndication in Canada on weekends at pre-watershed timeslots). RoboCop didn't kill (he used gadgets to incapacitate them), the humour was dulled down and the plots became cartoonish. It's pretty much the start of the Dork Age of RoboCop where the target audience are now grade school kids of fourth grade or older. Merchandise from the show even includes a RoboCop action figure that say Moral Guardian-approved lines ("Say No To Drugs!" among other things).
  • Living Lie Detector: Robo gains the ability to discern whether a person is lying or not through their vocal inflections. Unfortunately it is not infallible — see Consummate Liar.
  • Magic Countdown: The Sci-Fi Channel once ran a marathon of the series with a humorous voiceover. One episode had a bomb set for five minutes. The running commentary points out that it takes 7:04 for the bomb to eventually be shut off.
  • Meaningful Name: Recurring villain Dr. Cray Z. Mallardo. Or, as he appears in personnel files: Mallardo, Cray Z., Dr. He's a Mad Scientist.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Commander Cash! the cartoon character is nothing but an advertising campaign teaching kids the joys of consumerism in order to keep the economy healthy.
  • Mind-Control Device: One episode has a formula that renders people vulnerable to mind control if the formula is mixed with a simple calcium base (i.e. milk). It's added to a breakfast cereal.
  • Mood Whiplash: One moment that doubles as a Tear Jerker is when Robo sees his parents for the first time since he became a cyborg. He flashes back to when he took his first steps, with the two encouraging him. When the flashback ends, she sees him and panics, and her husband, Robo's father, tells him to go away.
  • My Little Panzer: The Commander Cash toys are deadly enough to kill and maim. The show, of course, uses this for comedic effect.
  • Nanomachines: In the appropriately-titled episode "Nano". It focuses on the villain using nanotechnology as a weapon, much to the annoyance of the kidnapped scientist that designed them. They infect Metronet to turn off all the alarms and make the governing computer (with a literal Ghost in the Machine) stop paying attention to running the city. By the end of the episode, they rescue the scientist and he uses the machines to help Madigan recover from a spinal cord injury (the result of an accident caused by the villain using the machines to hijack the bus as a distraction).
  • Never My Fault:
    • "Pudface" Morgan is a criminal (and Murphy's archenemy in the show) who was disfigured in an accident he caused. However, the minute he sees Robo, it's clear he blames Murphy for it and not himself.
    • A Corrupt Corporate Executive and Straw Feminist named Rochelle Carney is fired in the episode "Inside Crime" after being in league in the aforementioned Pudface as part of a ratings stunt for the episode's titular Show Within a Show. However, while her boss was indeed hitting on her, she chose to blame his behavior and her being a woman for the reason she was fired rather than what actually got her fired, which was being in league with a well-known criminal.
  • New Media Are Evil: In "Inside Crime", the glamorization (and merchandising) of criminals leads children to emulate Pudface to RoboCop's chagrin.
    RoboCop: "TV has a lot to answer for."
  • Nine out of Ten Doctors Agree: Nine out of ten doctors employed by a Mega Corp. recommend a drug produced by the very same company.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Recurring character Umberto Ortega is basically a stand-in for Geraldo Rivera.
    • "Prime Suspect" features Bob and Bambi Taker, parody versions of the then-recently divorced Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Messner, who launch a crusade against Robo. Murphy is framed for Bob's murder.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted when Robo is on the run after being accused of murder. The bullet in question could only have come from his one-of-a-kind gun, coded to his grip, and the targeting system used to aim the shot would be the one from his helmet. Later, when Robo is critically damaged, the kid sidekick shows him his prototype circuit board and lets him use it to make repairs. Then the scientist who designed the board realizes the prototypes of Murphy's gun and helmet are out there...
  • Non-Lethal Warfare: The series took advantage of the publicity given to NLW at the time to avoid having Robo kill anyone. Robo is instead armed with an array of non-lethal implements which he uses to capture the bad guys.
  • Not in the Face!: 'Pudface' Morgan repeatedly tells Robo not to hit him in the face whenever he's arrested, as a prior encounter between them resulted in his facial features becoming malformed, which Morgan blames him for. According to Sgt. Parks, it was the result of an accident that Morgan himself caused.
  • Organ Theft: "What Money Can't Buy" deals with this as Murphy goes against a black market organ ring when two people steal a pair of lungs meant to save a boy Murphy helped rescue in the prior episode ("Officer Down") after his body started to reject the lungs he was given in an earlier operation. The duo and their boss stole the lungs for a crime boss and the boy's earlier lungs came from the same criminal ring and were taken from someone who died from tuberculosis.
  • Out of the Inferno: Similar to the start of RoboCop 2, Murphy steps out of the wreckage of a destroyed police car without any damage at the start of the Pilot Movie after "Pudface" Morgan blows it up by firing a rocket at it.
  • Parody Commercial: One of the main comedic draws of the show, usually advertising deadly Commander Cash toys, but oftentimes other things as well.
  • PG Explosives: As you would expect from a kids show, all explosions do is knock people off their feet and maybe singe their clothing. Justified with RoboCop himself of course.
  • Police Brutality Gambit: In the pilot, during Robo's first attempt to arrest Cray Mallardo, the latter screams and bends over in a manner that makes it look like Robo is beating him from the perspective of the security camera in the corner. It wouldn't have held up in court against Robo's memory files, but Robo is shot by The Dragon with an enormous rifle the moment he left the building, rendering him unable to testify.
  • Projected Man: Diana, also a brain-in-a-box connected to a Magical Computer.
  • Rule Number One: Murphy's former partner had such a code of conduct. When he later found him brainwashed, Murphy restored his memory by asking him what rule number one was.
  • Secret Keeper:
    • Murphy becomes this for Diana. Apparently, revealing she exists would violate the public trust, his Rule #1.
    • Sgt. Parks becomes this when Sally Modesto tells him she is Gadget's biological mother.
    • Madigan is this whenever she's around Murphy's father, though she very nearly slips up on several occasions.
  • Shout-Out: When Robo boards a helicopter to get into the blocked-off OCP building in one episode, he asks the pilot to "Take me up, Scotty."
  • Show Within a Show:
    • Most episodes have a cartoon segment of Commander Cash; teaching us the virtues of credit cards and the positive side of pollution; basically the opposite of Captain Planet
    • "Inside Crime" focuses on the eponymous TV show that follows criminals around as they commit crime. In a ratings stunt, the producers team up with Pudface to get a showdown between him and Robo.
  • Straw Feminist: Two epsidoes ("Inside Crime" and "Sisters in Crime") feature a Corrupt Corporate Executive named Rochelle Carney, who outright said in her debut that she considered everything a gender issue, even blaming her getting fired when she returns on her being a woman and her boss, Aubrey Fox, being a louse who hit on her. While Fox did indeed try to hook up with her, she refused to acknowledge the real reason she got fired, which was because she was in league with the series' archenemy "Pudface" Morgan (who, among other things, tried to kill Robo repeatedly, took a retirement home's citizen hostage, led a siege on OCP heaquarters, and helped push a deinhibitor as a diet pill) as part of a ratings stunt.
  • Subliminal Advertising: Played with in "RoboCop Vs. Commander Cash", as they're very upfront about the hidden messages on the cereal boxes and cartoons/adverts. They can only be seen by wearing the special glasses enabling kids to see their special hidden messages just for them. Messages like "you need a Commander Cash Sleep Buddy". Of course the real trick is that they're drugging the cereal making the kids mindless obey these messages.
  • Superhero Origin: There’s a Show Within a Show cartoon character named Commander Cash. In one episode, someone dressed as him is instigating children to commit crimes. It turns out to be the creator of Commander Cash, Tex Jones, who was a researcher with OCP working on subliminal messaging. After another researcher working on brainwashing tried to kill him, Tex recuperated, trained, and became Commander Cash so he could lead RoboCop to the culprit.
  • Tagalong Kid: Gadget, a young orphan, turns up in the pilot and seemingly gets adopted by the police station, thus giving her a reason to stick around.
  • There Was a Door: Used in the opening credits. It's the same door from the original movie's drug factory raid.
  • Title: The Adaptation
  • Time Bomb: One episode involved Robo having to dispose a nuclear bomb in the OCP building. To defuse it, he had to align two triangle-shaped switches into an hourglass. This is accomplished with (you guessed it) one second to spare.
  • The Walls Are Closing In: Robo once ended up in a trash compactor in one episode. When the air pressure reached 2000 PSI, a flashback gave him inspiration, allowing him to push back the walls.
  • Wetware CPU: Metronet, the computer system that runs the whole city, is intended to be run by a device called Neurobrain. However, it turns out Neurobrain needs an actual human brain to operate. After rejecting the brains of a few elderly boozed-up homeless guys, the evil scientist gets the bright idea of using the brain of his young secretary to operate the system and it works.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Inverted. When Robo is critically damaged in the pilot episode, OCP refuses to pay his massive repair bill — until his partner mentions that he has evidence against Cray Mallardo (who the CEO has serious issues with) in his memory banks. Upon realizing that Robo is still useful, the CEO authorizes the repairs.

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