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The Secret World of Alex Mack was a live-action show which aired on Nickelodeon and told the story of Alex Mack (Larisa Oleynik), a young girl who lives with her parents and older sister in a planned community owned by a chemical plant, where her parents work. She has a bad first day at her new school, and to make matters worse, a truck from the plant crashes and drenches her in a top-secret chemical called GC-161.The chemical gives her an... interesting variety of superhuman powers: telekinesis, the ability to zap electricity from her fingers, the ability to melt a la Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and glow when she senses danger or gets upset. Her best friend Ray Alvarado (Darris Love) and her older sister Annie (Meredith Bishop) learn soon after and try to keep it a secret from anyone else. Unfortunately, Danielle Atron (Louan Gideon)—the head of the chemical plant that created GC-161—wants to see what effect the chemical has on human beings and has decided that finding the kid who was drenched and experimenting on him/her is a good way to go about this. She enlists the help of Vince Carter (John Marzilli), the head of plant security, to track her down. Vince is partnered up with Dave Watt (John Nielsen), the driver responsible for the accident, who may or may not (more likely the latter) be able to recognize the child.
This show provides examples of:
Accidental Art: Robyn's oral narrative "The Dogs Ate My Homework" gets a good grade, even though that really was the story of what happened.
Accidental Athlete: Alex is sprinting down the hallway of her school attempting to avoid being late to class and getting in trouble. She is still late for class, but instead of getting chastised she is recruited for the track team.
Alpha Bitch: Kelly. There was also a character named Libby who was like this and was intended to develop into a bigger character but pulled a Brother Chuck and her spot was taken by Kelly. Libby did appear in a dream sequence in the finale along with Kelly where everyone knew about her powers.
Character Development: Alex goes through a surprising amount for a series of this nature. Throughout the series, she gradually becomes more confident, less whiny, more respectful of Annie and begins to accept and even embrace her powers rather than complain about them.
Cool Loser: Alex and her group of friends aren't considered cool or popular, but Alex is on the school newspaper and generally considered to be a fun, nice person, and Ray is on the basketball team.
Correspondence Course: One plot has Dave taking a course in detective work and eventually discovering Alex's secret identity. This also led to him using Obfuscating Stupidity for the rest of the show to stop anyone from realizing he knew.
Cut Lex Luthor a Check: When Danielle Atron realized that GC-161 has too many side effects to be used as a weight loss product she decided to sell it as such anyway and leave the country with the money before the FDA would realize what happened. It never occurred to her that she would be able to make a lot more money (and not be an outlaw) if she would sell it to the army as a Super Serum.
The Dragon: Vince. Even after being fired he constantly tries to capture Alex as a way to convince Danielle to re-hire him.
Evil Twin: In one episode, Alex got a duplicate, who among other things, nearly killed her by trapping her in the basement of a building scheduled for demolition and later by trapping her puddle form in some clogged plumbing and waiting for her to either suffocate or reform while still inside the pipes.
Extreme Doormat: Robyn Russo, a friend of Alex who has extremely low self-esteem.
15 Minutes of Fame: Alex and Louis across a kid trapped under a giant pipe. Louis tries to lift it and Alex uses her powers to make it seem like he does in order to save the kid. The kid turns out to be the governor's son, promptly putting the spotlight on Louis.
The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Annie and Alex, though the rivalry itself takes a back seat to Annie's fascination with Alex's powers and Alex's reliance on Annie's smarts when she gets in trouble.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: Alex ends up naked after morphing the first time, though of course nothing graphic is shown. Also, in a later episode, her aunt talks of how she made a jackass out of herself at christmas.
Heel-Face Turn: Dave, when he finds out Danielle Atron wants to kill the child he contaminated with the GC-161.
Hero Antagonist: Dave qualifies without knowing it. While he actively helps Danielle and Vince, he honestly thought he'd be helping "the accident kid."
I Just Want to Be Normal: During the first season (and some parts of the second season), she frequently complains about her powers and wishes she never had them. Despite the trouble they get her into and the people hunting her down because of them, she grows to enjoy her powers. She even keeps them at the end of the series when given a chance to be normal, at least according to the lead actress.
Imagine Spot: Alex has a bunch, especially in the early seasons.
Inspector Javert: Vince is obsessed with finding the kid from the GC-161 accident, even after he's fired as head of security.
Karma Houdini: In "The Feud" Ray almost sells Alex out to the plant, just because he's miffed she didn't invite him to a concert. He's never properly called out on this. YMMV on this though, since Ray reveals that he had no intention of selling her out, and pulled a Batman Gambit on Vince instead.
Lab Pet: The bunnies are named and are never killed or dissected, not surprising as it is a children's show.
Lethal Joke Item: According to George Mack, GC-161 was intended for a mundane usage. note A dietary aid for weight loss. Guess they need to go back to the drawing board with that one.
Love Makes You Dumb: Annie, who's regularly a supergenius, falls apart around her new cute lab partner.
Love Triangle: Alex with her initial crush Scott and his girlfriend Kelly. Later on in the series, Scott's true colors come out when he gets caught in a lie about some volunteer photography work Alex had done by claiming her teacher hated them when in actuality the teacher loved them.
Also a non-romantic platonic example occurs when Louis first moves to town and becomes such good friends with Ray that Alex begins to fear that her own friendship with Ray was in jeopardy.
Never Bareheaded: You almost never see Alex without some sort of hat on her head. Lampshaded as sometimes others even mention her frequent hat usage. It was also made fun of in a promo for the show, which featured a song called "Alex Mack wears a hat."
Ordinary High-School Student: Alex, she even says "I was just another average kid until an accident changed my life" in the opening credits. It's also worth noting that she wore a similar outfit to the one mentioned in the description of this trope on the day she was soaked with the chemicals that gave her superpowers.
Parental Obliviousness: Rather selective. The Mack parents often notice the problem of the episode that Alex and/or Annie is having, but didn't notice Alex's powers or Annie studying her for four years.
Pick on Someone Your Own Size: Alex Mack and Danielle Atron. Also, in a couple fourth season episodes, Alex and school bully Jo. Jo didn't have any idea she was Bullying a Dragon, not that Alex used her powers when dealing with Jo.
Platonic Life Partners: Alex and Ray, a rare example of a platonic friendship portrayed realistically. In one fourth-season episode, Ray gains a girlfriend, and Alex grows jealous because Ray spends more time with his girlfriend than with her now. Both Alex's parents call her out on this, saying that Alex is acting like a jilted ex and has never been romantically interested in Ray, so she should be happy for him instead. Alex and Ray's girlfriend eventually come to terms because the girlfriend admits that Ray cares about Alex more than anyone else. It definitely helped that she helped Alex out when Jo (mentioned above) tried to bully her again.
Properly Paranoid: Louie doesn't take it seriously when Ray told him not to discuss Alex's secret at a cell phone. That's how Danielle's spies learn the secret.
Required Secondary Powers: When Alex turns into an amorphous puddle, she also can turn things she touches (usually her clothes) amorphous as well, though this takes at least some effort—the first time she tries it, she ends up naked. Also, she can still see while amorphous, despite no longer having any visible eyes, and can speak, despite lack of a mouth.
Snapback: Due to episodes not being aired in production order, there is a moment that seems this way. In one episode, Ray provides the plant with false evidence as to the identity of the accident victim (in order to get the $250 reward), and accidentally convinces Vince that he himself is the kid. He nearly gets vivisected, but Alex helps him escape. In the next episode, in which all of the students in Alex's school get one-day jobs at the plant as part of a project, Ray is working with Atron herself and Vince doesn't seem to recognize him. Later episodes actually have Ray covering his face as he walks past Vince.
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: At first, Danielle was interested in keeping the GC-161 child alive as a test subject. However, once the development of the GC-161 reached a level where having the child would be of no use to further development, she wanted the child destroyed.