A Spin-Off of Doctor Who (set, of course, in the Whoniverse), made for CBBC. It starred Elisabeth "Lis" Sladen, reprising her role of Sarah Jane Smith, investigative reporter and former companion of the Doctor (in his Third and Fourth incarnations) in the classic series. The series lasted from 2007 to 2011, when Sladen passed away.This was the second attempt to produce a Sarah Jane-centric Spin-Off, the first being 1981's K-9 and Company; only a pilot episode of that was produced, though. After a guest appearance in 1983's Doctor Who anniversary episode "The Five Doctors", and the charity special "Dimensions in Time", Sarah Jane wasn't seen on TV again until her return in the 2006 episode "School Reunion". Following the exceptionally good reception of that story, The Sarah Jane Adventures kicked off with a one-hour-long "pseudo-pilot"note So-called because, while a full series had been commissioned, production actually didn't begin until after the "pseudo-pilot" aired; presumably, had it bombed in the ratings production of the remainder of Series 1 could have been cancelled. special which aired on New Year's Day 2007, followed by a full series of ten episodes later that year.Sarah Jane appeared to be a bit of an eccentric recluse at first, but it turned out she was really an expert on aliens and their technology. She was joined by local kids Maria and Clyde, as well as her adopted (and Artificial Human) son, Luke, as they battle aliens on Earth... well, in Ealing anyway. Later episodes introduce Rani, Clyde and Luke's schoolmate, and Sky, Sarah Jane's adopted alien daughter (a character introduced late in the series as a replacement for Luke).SJA is sort of the opposite of the other Whoniverse spinoff, Torchwood. Where Torchwood is Darker and Edgier, The Sarah Jane Adventures is (ostensibly) Lighter, Fluffier, and For Kids. Like Torchwood, the series occasionally crosses over with Doctor Who proper, where Sarah Jane and Jack eventually meet and become friends. The Doctor also occasionally pops up in SJA, in his tenth and eleventh incarnations.Not to be confused with the earlier Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama series Sarah Jane Smith, which used a similar setup, but is much darker and realistic in tone, as par for the Doctor Who Expanded Universe. Also not to be confused with Downtime, a semi-fanmade direct-to-video production about Sarah Jane.The series was cancelled following Sladen's death, but three out of the six planned two-parters for Series 5 were already completed and aired posthumously in October 2011. Although UK media reported that the BBC was considering continuing the series in some fashion, common sense prevailed and the series was retired. Russell T Davies and Phil Ford swiftly created a replacement series, Wizardsvs Aliens, which allowed most of the production team (though not the cast) of SJA to keep their jobs. At least one episode of Wv A ("The Thirteenth Floor") was adapted from one of the episodes planned for SJA's fifth season but never filmed due to Sladen's death.Now with its own recap page. Please feel free to contribute.And the story goes on...
This show provides examples of:
Aborted Arc: Due to Sladen's death midway through production of Series 5, several arcs ended up being abandoned or never resolved. These include the mystery of the Shopkeeper (a character introduced in Series 4 who was to have returned in the second half of Series 5); Rani and Clyde's relationship; and the fate of Sarah Jane's adopted alien daughter, Sky (who according to Doctor Who Magazine was only intended to appear on the series for one season, with her storyline resolved at its end). It was also going to be confirmed (again per DWM) that Luke was gay, following a few subtle dialogue hints in earlier episodes.
This was also suggested as a third option in The Vault of Secrets. Fortunately they figured out a fourth one.
Adult Fear: One of the only things that can truly terrify Sarah Jane Smith is the prospect of losing her son.
Adults Are Useless: Mostly averted, due to it being sister series toshows with few-to-none cast as young as 14. Generally speaking, only a handful of teens (including Clyde, Rani, Maria and Luke) are fit to fight aliens.
Adventure Rebuff: Sarah Jane's initial attitude towards Maria, then Clyde, then Rani.
Always Save Luke: Sarah Jane, particularly explicitly in "The Gift" where she essentially declares, "Screw the world. I'm saving my son."
Amicably Divorced: Maria's parents. Chrissie drops by to visit them frequently. During a potential apocalypse in The Lost Boy, Chrissie calls her ex-husband, saying that she wants to be with him and their daughter.
Arbitrary Skepticism: Sarah Jane, despite meeting all kinds of aliens, flatly refuses to consider the possibility that the events in The Eternity Trap are caused by ghosts, or even by aliens with similar properties.
In The Mad Woman in the Attic Ship claims that it is "rather...improbable" that there is a robot dog hovering in an alternate dimension keeping a black hole from sucking up the Earth. This despite the fact that it is an Artificial Intelligence belonging to an orphaned alien with the ability to alter time and control and read minds and that it runs on black holes.
In "Death of the Doctor" Sarah Jane initially didn't buy the existence of the Shansheeth, a vulture-like alien race that claimed to be the undertakers of the universe. This was at least in part due to her refusal to believe the Shansheeth's report that the Doctor was dead. Turns out the race actually does existnote these are a rogue faction but the Doctor is very much alive!
Artifact of Doom: The pendant in Mark of the Berserker is addictive, with mind control powers.
Art Initiates Life: The Mona Lisa, which is painted from minerals originating in a space rock.
Astrologer: Martin Trueman, the villain of "Secrets of the Stars".
Beware the Nice Ones: Sarah-Jane frequently. She's an ex-companion of The Doctor, do not tick her off.
It's actually scary to wonder who the Doctor is more pissed off at; the Shansheeth for stealing his TARDIS, Screwdriver and faking his death, Jo for thinking she's stupid, or himself for allowing her to think she was dumb.
Luke gets a few in Series 4; his speech to the nightmare man and the look on his face when he returns at the end of Series 4.
Casual Danger Dialogue: Luke informs Sarah Jane that he might be eligible to start university a year early. Sarah Jane suggests it might not be the ideal moment for the conversation, seeing as how they're currently handcuffed to a large alien bomb.
A 2010 episode revealed that 60s Doctor Who companions Barbara (Wright) Chesterton and Ben Jackson were both still alive, despite the actors who played them having died in the 1990s. (By contrast, the character of Harry Sullivan, whose actor died in the 1980s, was referenced in the past tense enough to indicate that he's deceased.)
Sarah Jane Smith herself is still alive, despite the death of Elisabeth Sladen. The last episode of the series ends with the words "And the story goes on...forever."
The expanded Whoniverse (novels, etc.) had previously established that Sarah Jane lives beyond 2011 (the year Sladen died).
Chekhov's Skill: Alan's skateboarding past, which was mentioned at the beginning of one story and came in very handy in the climax. This trope's even been nicknamed "Chekhov's Skateboard" on Outpost Gallifrey.
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: All the main characters wear a denim jacket at least once. Luke's is always on top of his school uniform. Also all the full-time companions from Doctor Who wear one at least once as well.
Comic Book Adaptation: Surprisingly averted. While the parent series has had a comic strip based on it since the 1960s, and even the more adult-oriented Torchwood garnered a comic strip, with the sole exception of a couple of narrated web comics, SJA - a series marketed as a more child-friendly entry in the franchise - never got a chance to have its own comic adaptation.
Continuity Cavalcade: Death of the Doctor is just one big Cavalcade of Jo Grant's (and to a lesser extent, Sarah Jane's) previous travels with the Doctor, as well as Clyde and Rani's encounter with him in The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith. There's even a token reference to Maria from series 1 and 2. At the end of the episode, Sarah Jane mentions looking up various Doctor Who companions of yore on the Internet, including Harry, Ben and Polly, Ian and Barbara, Ace and Tegan.
Continuity Lockout: The occasional throwaway reference aside, the series manages to avoid this with its younger viewers, even in the continuity-heavy Death of the Doctor. That said, some level of lockout is unavoidable for viewers who have never seen Doctor Who.
Oddly, The Sarah Jane Adventures seems to reference the classic Who episodes more often than Doctor Who itself does. Photos of the Brigadier and other UNIT personnel were seen in the first episode, the Sontarans were referenced in "The Eye of the Gorgon" before they appeared in "The Sontaran Stratagem" and in "The Mad Woman in the Attic" we see flashbacks to Sarah Jane's days with the Third and Fourth Doctors. The same episode also heavily implies that Eve's people were killed in the Time War. And Sarah Jane lives on Bannerman Road.
The Doctor himself gets mentioned a number of times throughout the series, sometimes accompanied with flashbacks, sometimes not. Notably, his removal from time is an eventual goal of the Trickster.
Part of the plot of "Death of the Doctor" revolves around Clyde's absorption of TARDIS energy in the previous series' "The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith".
Cool Old Guy: the Brigadier, who returns in Enemy of the Bane.
And don't forget the 900+-year-old Time Lord called The Doctor.
Cool Old Lady: What did you expect? Older than she looks, Sarah Jane spends her time being generally awesome.
As does Jo Jones (aka Jo Grant) in Death of the Doctor.
Cousin Oliver: The addition of Sky in the fifth season threatened to be this, but ultimately ended up averting the trope because the character ending up not being annoying and she never really got to replace any cast member in the long term because the series ended only six episodes after she joined. (Not her fault, either.)
Covered in Gunge: At least once a series (up until series 4), an alien will explode messily when at least one of the regulars is standing too close to them. On one such occasion, Clyde laments that it always happens to him. In series 4, he lampshades that he got through the series without being gunged... and then Ruby White's stomach gunges him.
Mr. Smith, the older Sarah Jane Smith, the K-9 from this series (one of several) and Luke have appeared in Doctor Who proper.
The Tenth Doctor appeared in a substantial role in The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith.
The recurring villain the Trickster has also gotten mentioned, but did not appear, in the parent series, as well as Torchwood.
Although the Trickster's Brigade appeared in both.
Death of the Doctor saw a substantial guest appearance from the Eleventh Doctor and former Third Doctor companion Jo Grant.
Originally, Martha Jones was supposed to appear in the finale of the second series (she was replaced with The Brigadier.) Had this went through, she would have been the first and only character to appear on all three shows other than the American newscaster Trinity Wells and the unnamed French newscaster.
Had the series continued beyond 2011 after Elisabeth Sladen's passing, the Doctor would have made another appearance, but not the David's Doctor or Matt's: Tom Baker, the Fourth Doctor himself, would have returned to see 'his Sarah Jane' once more.
Disappeared Dad: Clyde's dad ran off with Clyde's aunt Melba some time before the events of Revenge of the Slitheen. He briefly visits him, but returns to his new family at the end of The Mark of the Berserker.
Dramatic Drop: In The Lost Boy, Maria drops the plate she's holding when she sees a news report about a missing boy who looks exactly like Luke.
Dropped After the Pilot: The show had Maria and Sarah Jane's loud-mouthed neighbor Kelsy, who is set up as Maria's friend and possibly a member of Sarah Jane's newly formed alien hunting squad (despite outright denying the extraterrestrial things she witnessed). Kelsy is never mentioned again after the pilot, and her role as the "cool one" is given to Clyde, who ends up sticking around the whole series and providing the Opening Narration.
Future Me Scares Me: Rani in The Mad Woman in the Attic. Fortunately, that future changes to a more pleasant one.
Gender-Equal Ensemble: Until The Nightmare Man at the beginning of series 4 — two boys (Luke and Clyde), and two girls (Maria and Sarah Jane, later Rani and Sarah Jane).
In fact, it's believed that part of the reason that Kelsey was written out after the pilot and replaced with Clyde was so create a gender-balanced ensemble (and possibly because Kelsey's actress just wasn't working out.)
Kaagh in Enemy of the Bane, prompting Sarah Jane to observe "The universe is an amazing place. It's got so many surprises for us, but one thing I never expected to see was the universe being saved by a Sontaran!"
Anyone the Trickster manipulates against Sarah Jane in his effort to allow chaos into the world will end up making one of these. This includes Andrea Yates, Sarah Jane's parents, and Peter Dalton.
Heroic Willpower: Subverted, then played straight when Sarah Jane is possessed by Androvax.
Subverted in Secrets of the Stars; Sarah Jane thinks this is why Clyde couldn't kill her, but it turns out that it was Luke touching him, since Luke has no birthday and thus no star signs and acts like a circuit breaker to those affected by the Ancient Lights.
Later used straight with Clyde's dad in Mark of The Beserker.
Subverted in Prisoner of The Judoon part 2 where Luke tries to do this with a possessed Sarah Jane and is tricked into thinking it worked when she starts speaking with her regular voice. It didn't.
I'm Mr. Future Pop Culture Reference: In "The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith", when Sarah Jane and Luke head back in time to 1951 and meet her parents on the day they die, they use the names Victoria and David Beckham.
Incredibly Lame Pun: "Or they'll find relations with Santiago will get a little Chile." Even Clyde's ashamed of himself for making the joke.
Infant Immortality: Averted; what with the back story of the Slitheen, at some point before the show, two 12-year-old boys must have been killed and skinned for a disguise for the young Slitheen. This isn't shown on-screen, however.
Also averted with thirteen-year-old Andrea Yates in Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?.
Interspecies Romance: At the end of The Mad Woman In The Attic it is revealed that Eve and Sam, alien and human teenagers we meet in the episodes have a child.
It's Personal: In The Gift, it gets personal for Sarah Jane after Luke gets infected by the Rakweed. This happens every time Luke gets hurt. Also happened to Luke once or twice, most notably in Mona Lisa's Revenge when Sarah Jane got trapped in a painting.
I Was Quite a Looker: Mrs Randall claims this in Eye of the Gorgon. Rani notes this about Harry in The Mad Woman in the Attic.
Large Ham: The Headmaster in Revenge of the Slitheen, probably because he was a Slitheen. Martin Trueman in Secrets of the Stars and Erasmus Darkening in The Eternity Trap. Sarah Jane (inhabited by the Androvax) in Prisoner of the Judoon.
The largest ham in has got to be the Nightmare Man. "Youuuur dreams are just beauuuuutiful!"
Laser Hallway: The Pharos Institute, in The Lost Boy, has a dramatic but impractical outdoor laser grid. Which, even apart from the fact that Sarah Jane just zaps it with her sonic lipstick, completely fails to make up for the fact that there's apparently no security systems installed inside.
Left the Background Music On: Though first referenced on Doctor Who, it's later established in this series that Mr Smith's fanfare is under his control: when Luke asks him to turn on "quickly and quietly", in "The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith", he does. Mr. Smith's fanfare is intended as a parody of the Windows startup music. The fact that his fanfare can be heard by the other characters was originally going to be brought up in series one, but the scene was cut, so it ended up on Doctor Who's fourth series instead.
In "Sky", he opened up slower than usual and with no fanfare, apparently because he was scared of the title character's power to short out electronics.
Lethal Chef: While there's no indication that her cooking's particularly bad, Sarah Jane has been known to set the kitchen on fire while making scrambled eggs.
Line-of-Sight Name: In The Curse of Clyde Langer, when Clyde's name is cursed and he has to give a fake name, he looks at an Enrico's pizza box and gives the name Enrico Box.
Look Behind You: Performed on a Sontaran, allegedly one of the finest soldiers in the galaxy. He claims he falls for it because he knows where they are going to run and it saves him from having to force them there. Whatever helps you sleep at night, bud.
Lost In Transmission: In Revenge of the Slitheen, as the Slitheen begin to drain London of power, Mr. Smith informs our heroes that the Slitheen are "notoriously hypersensitive to *fzzt*", and they're left to figure out the end of the sentence from the information they already have.
Luke is very quick to call Sarah Jane "Mum", but she asks him not to because she's new to the whole parenting thing and isn't quite ready for that level of closeness. They get over it by the end of the second serial and she's "Mum" to Luke for the rest of the series.
In the serial "The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith", before Luke meets Peter Dalton (Sarah Jane's boyfriend) for the first time, he wonders if he is going to call Peter "dad". We never see what he decides to call Peter. Because, well...
No Antagonist: Happens a few times where it looks like Sarah Jane or her crew are going up against a villain, only to find out there isn't one. One of the most notable is the story "The Mad Woman in the Attic".
No Celebrities Were Harmed: Joseph Serf in "The Man Who Never Was" bears a certain similarity to the late Steve Jobs, and his company to Apple. It was commonly said that Jobs had a "reality distortion field" that made audiences love his products; Serf accomplishes this with actual hypnotic powers.
No Endor Holocaust: This series is guilty of it. All power going out all over the world, even those with its own power source? The Moon being pulled towards Earth and pushed back? Just about everyone in a trance because of their zodiac signs? No deaths?
Not What I Signed Up For: In Prisoner of the Judoon, Captain Tybo threatens the security guards at Genetec for obstruction. They quickly flee.
No-one said anything about flaming aliens in the contract.
Novelization: All of Series 1 and 2 and several stories from later seasons were adapted as young adult novels, the first such books of their kind to be published as part of the Doctor Who franchise since the 1990s.
Parental Bonus: The continuity nods to classic Who. And in Revenge of The Slitheen Maria's divorced mother asks her ex-husband if she can have the double bed size duvet as he won't need it having a single bed. Her mannerisms and delivery of this line is enough to make older viewers think she's making fun of his sex life. Also, in Mona Lisa's Revenge, Mr. Smith is reading out a vanished woman's profile on a dating site:
Mr Smith: She says she is 'open-minded' and 'willing to try anyth-'
It is revealed that Sarah Jane's parents died when she was only three months old, and she was raised by her Aunt Lavinia. Exactly how much of a mother figure Lavinia was is somewhat debatable, as Sarah Jane once described her as "always so busy, never in one place long enough to lick a stamp." It can be argued, of course, that that doesn't necessarily mean that she was uncaring or uninvolved. In fact, the pilot for the failed spin-off series K9 & Company gives us a small glimpse into their relationship, and they do generally seem to care about one another.
There's no denying that Maria and her mother love each other dearly, but Chrissie is, to put it bluntly, a massive flake. Sarah Jane winds up picking up the slack and becomes the mother-figure Maria needs.
Parent Service: All the teen characters' dads are remarkably hot. Rani has her male fans. Chrissie and Gita sometimes wear low-cut tops. Then there's Sarah Janeherself. There have also been more than a few guest stars who also fall into this trope.
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Sarah Jane's a reporter, but since she's dedicated to keeping her adventures secret, she can't report on any of the adventures we see on screen. We've also never seen her actually sit down and write a story (although several stories do begin with her stumbling upon intrigue during legitimate journalism work - which was how Sarah Jane came to meet the Doctor in the first place). Nine times out of ten, the reporter thing is used as an excuse to have adventures, even in-universe. She's constantly escaping Maria's dad (and later, Rani's mum) by using an "I have to go file a story" excuse, when she's really heading off to fight an alien.
Quietly Performing Sister Show: Being perceived and promoted as a kids' show puts a dampener on the way some critics and fans view the show, however well it's produced. But it gets the viewers. The negative attitude was inverted somewhat after the death of Sladen brought increased attention to the final episodes, though even before this the two guest appearances by the Doctor led to increased profile for the series, with Death of the Doctor even being rebroadcast on the main BBC One network.
Sealed Good in a Can: The Tenth Doctor implies that he dropped Sarah-Jane on Earth because she didn't need him anymore. Given how many Alien threats she's managed to defeat on her own, he's probably right.
Superman Stays Out of Gotham: The Doctor has crossed-over twice, but it really doesn't bear worth thinking why he leaves saving the world in all the other episodes up to a bunch of kids and a old woman.
Torchwood is also absent, as is any references to the earth-shattering events it takes part in (i.e. Children of Earth - although Luke, Rani, Clyde and Maria are pubescent and thus weren't affected).
Suspiciously Apropos Music: "Always Something There to Remind Me" randomly comes up on the stereo at a particularly appropriate juncture in Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane? (and it's doubly appropriate, because the event she's trying to forget about happened in the year the song hit #1).
Clyde Langer for Kelsey Hooper. Clyde appears to be a male, less annoying, and much less whiny version of Kelsey. He finds aliens exciting and interesting, whereas she was in a state of determined denial. She was dropped from the show; according to rumor this was to even up the gender ratio of the characters (three females and one male became two of each), however other reasons have been reported.
Also, the computer Mr. Smith is a substitute for K9, resulting in an amusing mutual dislike between the two when K9 returns for good in The Mad Woman in the Attic.
Series 2, among other things, subs out Maria for Rani.
Luke has a nightmare about Sarah Jane substituting him when he goes to university in The Nightmare Man.
Invoked by Ruby White, who is actually an alien planning to take over Sarah Jane's life.
They Would Cut You Up: Sarah Jane believes that UNIT and other organisations would take in Luke for tests if they knew what he was.
In Death of the Doctor Clyde, realising he's got Artron energy flowing through him in the middle of a UNIT base fears the same might happen.
Thirteen Is Unlucky: Sarah Jane lives at 13 Bannerman Road, but is not really that unlucky. Her life is just weird.
Token Trio: Maria, Clyde and Luke, later Luke, Clyde and Rani.
Sarah Jane becomes the Token White when Luke leaves and it actually helps Rani and Clyde's development.
The Trap Parents: In "The Lost Boy", Sarah Jane learns that Luke is not an Artificial Human after all, but a human boy who was kidnapped by the Bane and whose real parents miss him terribly and want him back. ...or is he?
Undying Loyalty: It doesn't matter what you do to try to turn Luke against Sarah Jane - Mrs Wormwood! - his loyalty will always be with his mother, and hers with him (and, second, with The Doctor). The gang's loyalty to each other also counts.
UST: Clyde and Rani, since first meeting, but more noticeable in series 4.
Verb This!: Clyde to a group of atom-disassembling nanoforms.
Visit by Divorced Dad: Clyde's dad in The Mark of the Berserker. Chrissie's visits to Alan and Maria's house are a bit too frequent to count as this trope.
Wedding Deadline: The "I do" variant, but on a cosmic scale, in The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith.
Weirdness Magnet: Since Sarah Jane is no longer the passenger of a TARDIS to take her to see aliens, they seem to have agreed to come straight to her home instead.
In Invasion of the Bane, an alien is indeed seen visiting Sarah Jane outside 13 Bannerman Road.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Shansheeth faked the Doctor's death so they could lure him to them and steal his TARDIS in order to prevent all death in the universe. A truly noble, if misguided, goal indeed... at least until they started trying to kill people.
Inverted in The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith in which Sarah Jane suggests she may never see the Doctor again. (As it happens, she does.)
Where Are They Now: A variation, where Sarah Jane reveals that she had followed the whereabouts of some of the Doctor's former companions online:
Sarah Jane: There's a woman called Tegan in Australia, fighting for Aboriginal rights. There's Ben and Polly, in India, running an orphanage there. There was Harry... oh, I loved Harry. He was a doctor, he did such good work with vaccines. He saved thousands of lives. There was a Dorothy something. She runs that company, A Charitable Earth. She's raised billions. And this couple in Cambridge. Both professors. Ian and Barbara Chesterton. Rumour has it, they've never aged. Not since the sixties. I wonder... echoes of the Doctor, all over the world. With friends like us, he’s never going to die, is he?
Younger and Hipper: Ruby White in "Goodbye, Sarah Jane" is a younger, hipper, and (initially) ruder version of Sarah Jane. It's a deliberate similarity; Ruby is an alien and part of her Evil Plan includes taking over for Sarah Jane.