Series / The Thundermans

The Thundermans is a live-action comedy based on a suburban family of super humans. The series was created by Jed Spingarn. It debuted on October 14, 2013 on the Nickelodeon network.

The show focuses on a 14 year old set of twins named Phoebe and Max, the former a super heroine (in training) and the latter a super villain (so he says). Together, they learn to get through life with their superhero parents Barb and Hank and three younger siblings Nora, Billy, and Chloe.

It now crosses over with network sister show The Haunted Hathaways.

Tropes found in this series include:

  • Academy of Evil: Max hopes to go to a school for supervillains.
  • Aesop Amnesia : Every single time that Max and Phoebe showed how much they cared about each other, they acted like it was the first time it had ever happened.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Gender inverted that Max has fallen for a bad girl who happens to be the sister of the boy Phoebe is crushing on.
  • All Women Love Shoes: Barb is known to regularly spend over $400 on a single pair of shoes. Phoebe berates Max when his failed plan to revert the mutant plant to normal ruins her "favorite pair of flats."
  • And Starring: "With Chris Tallman and Rosa Blasi."
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Billy and Nora.
  • Artistic License - Mathematics: In "Report Card," the students are asked to solve an equation written on a card. But the equation on the card was simply the quadratic formula. There was nothing to solve. There were no values to plug into the formula. Tyler claims to know the answer (even though no answer exists), but is conveniently unable to elaborate because Max uses his telekinesis to prevent Tyler from speaking.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: At the end of "A hero is Born", Barb lists the three things that happened in the plot that she missed in this order: "So Max turned Dr. Colosso back to a human, Phoebe told Cherry our family secret, and Nora has been banned from the baby store?
  • Ask a Stupid Question... :
    • In "Weekend Guest," when the giant mutated plant tries to drag Billy into Max's lair, Phoebe asks Max :
      Phoebe: [Pulling Billy away from the lair] Is this Trevor?
      Max: [Rolling his eyes] No, it's my OTHER monster plant!
    • In "Parents Just Don't Thunderstand," Phoebe and Max need to find a way to get Hank and Barb to kiss each other.
      Phoebe: Don't you have some kind of, like, love potion, or something?
      Max: Why ask me? Ask all my girlfriends - Of course I don't have a love potion, that's why I'm in a band!
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: King Crab is very easily distracted, even in a battle, by bubbles as seen in "A Hero is Born".
  • Bad Future: Glimpsed in "Winter Thunderland," when Hank and Barb are Drunk on the Dark Side, Phoebe becomes an Alpha Bitch who literally rules her high school with an iron fist, Billy goes From Nobody to Nightmare (and turns Max into a Talking Animal who he forces to live in a cage and starves, after he takes over his lair), and Nora straddles the fence between being a Crazy Homeless Person and a Homeless Hero (living in the family's old home with only beans to eat, and dolls with her family's faces) because she refused to turn evil like the others.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Dr. Colosso was a notorious supervillain who Thunderman turned into a rabbit. Now why does that seem familiar?
  • Big Damn Heroes: Just when Colosso is facing certain doom and the twins have given him up for dead, Hank arrives to save him.
  • Big Red Button: The Max 10 missile had a nice, big, shiny, red launch button.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family
  • Black Sheep: Max is an aspiring supervillain in a family of superheroes.
  • Blondes Are Evil: Most of the mean girls are blondes.
  • Brand X: In "This Looks Like A Job For," Phoebe and Max want to buy the new Me Phone. Phoebe and her friends use the social networking site Chirper.
  • Breath Weapon: Phoebe and Max have ice and heat breath.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Darcy Wong threatens Nora and would have been on the receiving end of a literal Death Glare if Phoebe hadn't intervened to stop her sister.
  • Call Back: Just before Nora lands on Billy after coming down the slide in "Ditch Day," he says "Not again," a reference to this happening previously in "Adventures in Supersitting."
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • In "Cheer and Present Danger," Phoebe warns Cherry that the cheerleading squad is planning to pull a humiliating prank on her, but Cherry thinks that Phoebe is just jealous that Cherry made the squad and Phoebe didn't. Phoebe is jealous, but she's also telling the truth. Also, Max wins a month of free pizza from Mrs. Wong by correctly guessing the number of pepperoni slices in a jar, but Mrs. Wong, Max's family, and even Dr. Colosso won't believe him when he says he didn't cheat.
    • In "Change of Art," Phoebe surprises everybody when she presents a beautiful vase as her art project, after showing herself to have no talent for art (both in this episode and earlier in "Report Card"). When Barb asks Max if he helped Phoebe with her sculpture, he casually tells her that the vase was actually stolen from an art museum. Naturally, Barb assumes that Max is kidding. He's not.
  • Clark Kenting: Played with, in that Hank's hero code-name is "Thunderman," and his last name is... Somehow, very few people make the connection.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Hank is outnumbered at least three to one by supervillains. Despite their leader mocking him for "letting himself go," he shows them that retirement has not weakened him in the slightest by defeating them all in less then two minutes.
  • Cutting the Knot:
    • When Phoebe activates the self-destruct in Max's lair, trapping them inside with metal plates impervious to their superpowers and attempting to shut down the countdown via computer command only decreases the time until detonation, Phoebe's solution is to smash the computer controlling the countdown with a sledgehammer.
    • When Phoebe and Max try to tell their father the password required to open the locked door to the League of Evil Headquarters, he simply punches a hole in the wall next to it.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Phoebe and Max have a technique called Double Freeze Breath which can freeze even the most powerful of enemies. But if the freezing blasts should happen to touch when they do this, an entire city will be frozen solid as a result. If their heat breath also works this way, that would not be very good.
  • Death Glare: Barb is an expert at this technique. When she uses it on Hank, he backpedals fast!
  • Deface of the Moon: Max "babysits" his younger siblings by getting them to help carve his initials in the moon. It is revealed at the end of the episode what was actually written is "Nora Rules."
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune
  • Dumb Blonde: Phoebe's best friend Cherry is one of these.
  • Disguised in Drag: Billy in "Crime After Crime." Apparently, the alternate disguise was a baby, which Nora ended up with.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: In "Winter Thunderland," Barb calls Max by his full name - Maximus Octavius Thunderman. When Hank and Barb demand that Max apologize to Nora for giving her an empty box as a Christmas present, Max replies, "Only if you apologize for my middle name!" To Max's surprise, his parents actually do say they're sorry, although he then still refuses to apologize to Nora.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Despite being a self-proclaimed supervillain, Max will react quite aggressively to anyone who puts any member of his family in danger. Family loyalty is very important to him.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Max goes into this a lot.
  • Evil Twin: Max is this to Phoebe.
  • Expy: Dr. Colosso is one of Salem.
  • Expository Theme Tune
  • Express Delivery: In "A Hero is Born," it is revealed that superhero pregnancies are very quick, about a day.
  • Extracurricular Enthusiast: In "Report Card," it is established that Phoebe loves going to school, and considers it to be her equivalent of Max's lair. She even goes to school when she doesn't need to ("Ditch Day" and "On The Straight and Arrow"). Her afterschool activities have included competing in the Math Bowl ("Report Card"), taking care of a teacher's rare plant ("Weekend Guest"), student government ("You Stole My Thunder, Man"), science fairs ("Weird Science Fair"), charity bake sales and volunteering at a library ("Phoebe's A Clone Now"), choir ("Pretty Little Choirs"), cheerleading ("Cheer and Present Danger"), ballet ("You've Got Fail"), organizing school dances ("The Amazing Rat Race"), writing for the student newspaper ("Call of Lunch Duty"), and probably others as well.
  • Eye Beams: Nora's power.
  • Flying Brick: Thunderman's superpower set.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Dr. Colosso is a combination of number eight and nine (and if you go with the Alternate Character Interpretation that Hank took Colosso in to protect him instead of throwing him into jail, one and three apply as well). Seriously, allowing your son to room with a former supervillain who actually has the means to leave at will, if he chooses, but sticks around and actually cares about the boy? Hank and Barb want to keep the rabbit close at hand for some reason...
  • Forced Meme: Nick tried to promote the show by making image macros about the show and putting them in their commercials.
  • Forgot About His Powers: Any television show depicting characters with superpowers (or magical powers, or anything of that sort) is bound to run into this eventually.
    • "Phoebe's A Clone Now" - Max is utterly terrified of the large, angry man he encounters in the library, and acts completely helpless in his grasp. Max seems to have forgotten that not only is he telekinetic, but also skilled in hand-to-hand combat. The twins have shown in various episodes that they can use their telekinesis in subtle enough ways to avoid detection in public, and in any case, a lot of people know martial arts, so it wasn't as if using those skills in public would make anybody suspect that Max was a superhero.
    • In the same episode, when Phoebe and Max are chasing the cloned Phoebe, neither seems to realize that telekinetically tripping the clone would be a good way to slow her down and buy time to catch up to her. Also, when Phoebe is struggling with the clone under the table, she fails to realize that a single blast of freezing breath would be a far more effective way to stop the clone than trying to physically overpower her.
    • "Max's Minions" - Just a little applied telekinesis would have gone a long way toward foiling Lionel, Jake, and Tom's prank on Max. Also, one has to wonder why Phoebe would go to the trouble of using a vacuum cleaner on a single cobweb that she could easily clear out with her telekinesis.
    • "The Amazing Rat Race" - If Phoebe and Max were willing to do something as risky as using the Animalyzer on Billy in order to win the race ... then why not just use a little telekinesis to "hurry" Max's real rat along the race track instead? That would have been a far less dangerous plan, after all.
    • "Thundersense" - Phoebe and Max's danger-detecting sixth sense never appears again after this episode. It certainly would have been useful when, for example, Max was attacked from behind in "Exit Stage Theft."
    • "The Haunted Thundermans" - When Max battled the Green Ghoul (who had taken possession of Phoebe), neither combatant used his powers anywhere near as effectively as he could have:
      • Max tried to take down the Ghoul using martial arts, which is a dubious strategy at best when your opponent is telekinetic. Apart from one blast of heat breath, Max made no attempt to use his powers to fight the Ghoul.
      • The Ghoul used Phoebe's telekinetic powers to great effect, but made little use of her heat or ice breath. More importantly, he did not use any of his own ghosting powers. The Ghoul would likely have defeated Max very easily if he had used just a little of the magic that ghosts are routinely seen using on The Haunted Hathaways.
      • At one point, Max and the Ghoul were in hand-to-hand combat. Neither seemed to notice that, with his opponent right in front of him, just one quick blast of freezing breath could have ended the battle.
      • At the end of the episode, Hank and Barb, for some reason, make no attempt to aid Ray, Max, and Phoebe in capturing the Ghoul.
    • Discussed by Nora in "Call of Lunch Duty" when she and Billy think Mrs Wong is an alien and are hiding from her. Nora reminds Billy that they are superheroes and comes up with a plan using their powers.
  • Funny Background Event: "Crime After Crime" has many of these as a running gag. The kitchen blackboard has "Welcome to the upside down episode" written on it which you can only read if you rotate the image to be the correct way up. During the episode, many background props are briefly inverted.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Delivered by Dr. Colosso to Max in "Max's Minions" - along with an Armor-Piercing Slap - when Max whines about his former minions getting the better of him. And it is beautiful to witness.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Happens in the The Haunted Hathaways crossover when the Green Ghoul possesses Chad and then Phoebe. Nora's eyes will also glow as she prepares to use her superpower.
  • Harmless Freezing: Phoebe and Max possess this power, and it's a Running Gag in the series. In both the first and the fourteenth episode it's a plot point.
  • How We Got Here: The episode "A Hero is Born" starts with Max trying to save Dr Colosso with his telekinesis, but fails. The voice over, in Dr Colosso's voice, then transitions the episode to when it all began. The scene that started the episode comes at the very end.
  • Humble Hero: When a dedicated fan of Electress drives home the point that the twins don't know anything about their mother's superhuman adventures, Barb explains that her normal life as a mother is more important to her then what she did in the past.
  • Hypocrite:
    • In "The Amazing Rat Race," Phoebe sees Max and his band holding their pet rats, and she teasingly congratulates the boys for finding "dates" for the school dance. Nobody seems to notice the irony that one of the band members is Oyster, who Phoebe dated in the earlier episode "Pheebs Will Rock You."
    • In "It's Not What You Link," Phoebe disparages Live Action Role-Playing (LARP) Gamers as "giant nerds," even though Phoebe herself has traits that some would consider "nerdy," such as enjoying school, to the point where she goes to school even when she doesn't have to ("Ditch Day" and "On the Straight and Arrow"), participating in academic competitions (the Math Bowl in "Report Card"), being an Extracurricular Enthusiast (several different episodes), and, for that matter, gaming ("Doppel-Gamers").
    • Phoebe has often stated that a superhero always keeps her word. But lying, breaking rules, committing crimes (such as breaking and entering, vandalism, and theft), impersonating a doctor, cheating (in an academic competition, tennis tournament, rat race, or archery class), joyriding in a van, and wiping out people's memories are apparently all acceptable - provided, of course, that she never promised that she wouldn't.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: In "Doppel-Gamers," Max declares, "No one humiliates Max's brother and sister except Max!"
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • When Phoebe's phone keeps alerting her to Instant Messages (alert tone: chirping bird), Max's comment is "Can I not hear a dying bird while I enjoy my turkey leg?"
    • Phoebe has told Cherry that her family are really superheroes and says "lying is never the answer" and doesn't even pause for breath before saying "You have to lie to everyone about our superpowers.
    • In "Going Wonkers," Dr. Colosso is seen uploading videos of Max's dancing, and he says, "Two million hits! Take that, stupid talking animals! Ha, ha! ... Wait a minute ..."
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Phoebe sometimes sees her family's powers as a hindrance and wishes she did not have them.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Max would rather be the world's best supervillain than second best superhero to his sister.
  • "I Know You Are in There Somewhere" Fight: Phoebe (and sometimes Hank and Barb) say this to Max as he used to be nicer.
  • Impact Silhouette: When Phoebe tells her younger siblings not to say "science fair" while Max is in the house, they shout it out at the top of their lungs. Upon hearing this, Max comes running only to slip on the freshly washed floor and leave his mark through the wall.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Max's relationship with Phoebe is definitely adversarial, but he genuinely cares about her happiness as he occasionally makes self-sacrificing gestures for her benefit. We also see this in "The Haunted Thundermans", when he talks Taylor up to her boyfriend after almost causing their breakup.
  • Kid Has a Point: In the climax of "Up, Up, and Vacay," the feud between the male and female members of the family becomes exceptionally childish, with Hank and Max taking their spaghetti sauce to the garage and Barb and Phoebe eating their spaghetti plain. Ironically, it is the two actual children in the family, Billy and Nora, who recognize how absurd this is.
  • Large Ham: Hank Thunderman is still hamming it up in retirement. As time goes on it becomes clear this is more or less the standard method of all the superheroes and supervillains in existence. Even Max and Phoebe have the moments (quite memorably while trying save her brother from some actual villains, Phoebe resorts to an unnecessarily complicated method of entrance, and then complains when she realises the villains weren't present to see it).
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: At the end of "Phoebe vs. Max: The Sequel," Hank looks into the camera and says that his guess was right regarding what Chloe's superpower was going to be. Lampshaded by Phoebe and Max wondering what he is looking at.
  • Lethal Chef: Barb is one of these. To the extent that her children come up with ways to pretend they are eating her cuisine when they are really throwing it into the garbage and sometimes secretly destroying the cooking appliances when her culinary skills fail more then is normal for this trope.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: In "Exit Stage Theft," Billy tells Nora he is going to his friend's house after she and Chloe forgot about him during their hide and seek game. Nora doesn't believe him and asks which friend. Billy sees a jar of Luigi's pasta sauce and announces "Luigi. Luigi Marinara."
  • Magic Pants:
    • Averted in "The Amazing Rat Race." Max and Phoebe turn Billy into a rat but his clothes do not change with him. It isn't shown when they turn him back, but it can be assumed all of his siblings were there.
    • This is averted with Doctor Colosso, as not only does his temporary transformation back to human has him appear fully clothed, his cape enlarges to fit and the ring marking around his left eye is shown to be a monocle.
  • Man-Eating Plant: Max mutates Phoebe's plant from school into this.
  • The Masquerade: Implied (in The Haunted Thundermans) that superheroes are part of keeping the secret of ghosts, which includes policing them in the human (physical?) world. The Hero League is in charge of catching dangerous ghosts, and Phoebe and Max are aware of the numerical system of ranking ghosts' power levels.
  • Mathematician's Answer: In "Change of Art" Nora is trying to keep her mother from knowing where her siblings are:
    Barb: Where's Max?
    Nora: With Phoebe.
    Barb: Where's Phoebe?
    Nora: With Billy.
    Barb: Where's Billy?
    Nora: Hey look, they're starting.
  • Mean Boss: Mrs. Wong is one of these when Phoebe and Max are hired to work at her pizza parlor.
  • Mind over Matter: Both Max and Phoebe's most common power.
  • Mundane Utility: The opening of the pilot revolves around all the kids using their powers to set the table for dinner. This is a common theme throughout the series.
  • OOC Is Serious Business" In "Winter Thunderland." Max is dressed up as an elf and is trying to spread Christmas joy to his family. His family is leery and very suspicious of him, but he genuinely wants to make them happy.
  • Paranoia Gambit: Max pulls a successful one on Phoebe, following her responding to their escalating prank war. However it ends up backfiring, as Phoebe gets so Paranoid she tries to end the war by pranking herself and ends up causing Max's lab to start the self-destruct countdown and locking them both in it.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: The only traits Phoebe and Max share are their powers.
  • Reset Button: It would almost be easier to list the episodes that didn't have the Reset Button pushed afterward.
    • Every single time that Phoebe did something selfish or irresponsible, which was a fairly frequent occurrence, it was completely forgotten by the next episode, and she was again being doted on as if she could do no wrong.
    • Every single time that Max showed his fundamental decency, which was also fairly frequent, it was similarly forgotten by the next episode, and he was once again being viewed as the guy who never did anything nice or good.
    • Every single time that Phoebe and Max showed how much they cared about each other, which was fairly frequent as well, it was ... Well, you get the idea.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Link has absolutely no function in the show other than being Phoebe's boyfriend. He has only appeared in episodes that are about him and his relationship with Phoebe. Otherwise, his name is never even mentioned.
  • Secret Keeper: Cherry becomes one for the Thundermans in "A Hero is Born."
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: Max's evil lair has one.
  • Shock and Awe: Barb's power.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sibling Rivalry: Max and Phoebe's feuding is the most obvious, but all four have some form of rivalry between them.
  • Spandex, Latex, or Leather:
    • The superhero costumes are mainly of the campy spandex variety.
    • Max often wears a leather jacket as part of his regular street clothes.
  • Spider-Sense: The Thundersense works this way/
  • Stalking Is Funny If It Is Female After Male: Sarah's obsessive crush on Max is played entirely for laughs. In "Change of Art," Hank refers to Sarah as "the girl I keep telling to stay out of my yard," and this is presented as funny.
  • Sticky Situation: Hank and Billy get themselves stuck to the flypaper they laid down to catch their newspaper thief.
  • Superhero School: Phoebe is preparing for Superhero University.
  • Super Speed: Billy's power.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: In "Cheer and Present Danger," Nora and Billy take some of the pizza and fish heads to feed the stray cat, Roscoe, which their parents had forbidden them to do.
    Nora: Come on Billy, let's take some pizza boxes out to the trash!
    Billy: Yes, to throw them out! No CAT is involved in what I just said!
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Chloe's superpower is teleportation.
  • Terrible Artist: Phoebe is one of these, but believes she is artistically gifted, in spite of a low grade in art (which came as a shock!) and her friends telling her she is not.
  • Tinfoil Hat: When Nora and Billy fear Mrs Wong is an alien in "Call od Lunch Duty", they don foil hats (Nora's with a foil bow).
  • Token Evil Teammate: Max.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The previews for "Report Card" show Dr.Colosso as the paper thief, even though finding the thief is an episode long side plot.
  • True Companions: In "Blue Detective," we see that Max and Dr. Colosso truly care about one another. The rest of the Thundermans find this deeply disturbing.
  • The Unfavorite: Max is clearly the least favorite child in the house. This seems to be a contributor to why he wants to be a villain. Max implies Phoebe has been doted on by the superhero community as the future greatest superhero ever. This is also a reason for his rebellious actions.
  • The Cape: Once superheroes get a certain accomplishment they get a cape.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: Shaping up like this, but as they're technically trainee superheroes, it's more save whatever they've caused to go wrong.
  • Wax On, Wax Off: Subverted In "Max's Minions" when Phoebe convinces Nora and Billy that doing certain tasks (her chores-she doesn't tell them) are parts of her special superhero training tasks for Nora and Billy.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: A great deal of Max's insecurities (and probably the reason why he's doing the whole supervillain phase) is simply to get attention from his parents, who obviously favor Phoebe over him.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: The plot of "Winter Thunderland" where the three Christmas spirits show what would happen if he tried to ruin Christmas for Nora.
  • You Are Not Alone: What Max tells Dr. Colosso to cheer him up in "Blue Detective," after he confesses to his blue-coloring prank to drive Max and his latest love interest apart.