The Tribe ran five seasons (1999-2003). It was a New Zealand-produced Cozy Catastrophe/Teen Soap Opera set Twenty Minutes into the Future, after an apocalyptic virus that wipes out the world's adult population, leaving the kids and teens to inherit an unnamed city that is rapidly degenerating into a post-apocalypticurban wasteland.The main characters are the Mall Rats, a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits who took up residence in an abandoned shopping mall. Over the series, the Mall Rats attempt to restore order to a chaotic world by reintroducing civilized functions like money and democratic elections. The Mall Rats face external and internal conflict with other tribes and between their own members, who don't always see eye to eye.The first series was notably darker in tone than later series, and more survivalist-oriented. The first season also had very few of the "fantastic" elements that came to dominate later seasons, such as virtual reality, religious cults, insanely well-disciplined and organized antagonist tribes, and mysticism. The show dealt with many of the typical elements of both a Teen Drama with a setting that was part Scavenger World and part Cozy Catastrophe, including problems like pregnancy and bulimia. It also mostly averted Dawson Casting.
And I Must Scream: The Technos don't kill some people, but give them a much worse fate and instead use them in human experiments by hooking them up to an endless, inescape virtual reality simulation for their boss's twisted enjoyment.
And Now You Must Marry Me: Ram takes an interest in Ebony when he finds out that she is his lieutenants Java and Siva's younger sister, both of whom he has already married. He tries to persuade her nicely at first by presenting her with gifts and noting how much power she would gain by it, but eventually gets fed up with her reluctance and pretty much gives Ebony an ultimatum to make up her mind. She chooses Ram's good-hearted Dragon Jay instead.
Anti-Hero: Lex, kinda - well he's more than willing to take the role of The Big Guyif he'd get something out of it.
Anti-Villain: The Guardian, Ram and Mega all have anti-villainous traits.
Apocalypse How: With a world where all the adults (and a largish portion of the children) have been wiped out by the genetically-engineered virus, this is a solid Class 1 catastrophe. The children still live relatively cozily in their tribes and scavenging/hunting (later also farming), and cobbling together some post-industrial tech (like water purifiers, and solar panels for lighting). And that's before the Technos got the city's power running again.
Back for the Dead: Fairly common. If someone returns unexpectedly in an episode near the beginning or end of a season after we haven't seen them for some time, you can almost expect they'll end up dead soon (often off-screen). Some examples are Bray, Tai-San, and Pride.
Badass Bookworm: Dal proves to be this during the tribe circus invasion of the mall.
Behind the Black: An episode has Jack running down a hallway before Ebony sees him, the second he goes off screen Ebony appears on screen, there is no way they didn't see the other.
Beware the Nice Ones: Ryan is one of the nicest people, ever, yet if you get him angry he will beat the crap out of you. Alice also counts.
Big Bad: In the beginning, it was the Locos led by Zoot, then the same tribe led by Ebony, then the Chosen led by the Guardian, then the Technos led first by Ram and later by Mega, and later the Zootists in the final season.
The Big Guy: Lex and Ryan are treated as such during the first season, Lex is a class one and Ryan a class two. Season two gives us Alice (class two), and Season three Pride (class three).
Canada Does Not Exist: Made in New Zealand, and starring an all-New Zealand cast with distinctive New Zealand accents ... but set in "The City", with absolutely no obvious landmarks anywhere. Not only that, but on the rare occasions early on in the show when old money from before the apocalypse was shown, it seemed to be British coinage.
In particular, Lex tossing a 50 pence piece, and Ryan hoarding thousands in £50 notes- both shown in the first series
Zoot's Police Car was a New Zealand/Australian model, but with blue insignia more typical of American police cars. They really went out of their way to avoid setting that show in a specific country.
Also, in one episode, Jack finds a tape with footage of the President (presumably of the United States, given his American accent and other clues in the footage); later, he simply refers to the character on that tape as "The President" (not "The American President" as we would expect a non-US native to call him). This actually implies that The City is in American territory, despite the kids' mostly New Zealand accents and speech idioms.
However, even though the actors all had fairly obvious NZ accents, it was put about on the (early '00s, now obsolete) Tribeworld Message board that Word of God stated that all of the actors were put through some kind of American accent training. Yes, they're still obviously from NZ, but when you look at some of the DVD extras, especially with some of the older actors, the NZ accent was somewhat toned down within the series' universe. Not a lot, but there's a definite if subtle difference.
Cartwright Curse: A variant on it - Lex's partners are fine unless they say "I do."
The Chosen, and in particular their Praetorian Guard, both of whom were of the Faceless Mooks in hooded robes variety. They were a religious cult that worshipped the slain Zoot as a God, and extolled the virtues of "power and chaos." They were led by a Sinister Minister, the Guardian, and his lieutenant.
In the final episode, members of another hooded, robed tribe were briefly shown; however, it was not established if the costume served a religious purpose, though it might have been meant to connect them visually to the distinctive outfits of the Chosen.
The City: The city where everything takes place is deliberately generic so that it could take place in any Anglophone country.
Child Soldiers: Lex and Ryan went through a Boot Camp Training from Hell before the last of the adults were wiped out in order to toughen them up so they could survive. This actually explains a lot of their behavior in Season 1.
Cosy Catastrophe: A genetically-engineered virus wipes out all the adults and quite a lot of the children in the world over some indeterminate timescale, but apart from some low-level fighting (the survivors are, after all, children), life continues. The children first scavenge what remains, and then return to farming to survive in small tribes dotted throughout the city and countryside.
Evil Cripple: Ram (the leader of the Technos) is confined to an advanced wheelchair he probably designed himself. He does, eventually, learn to walk again by the end of Series 5, so we get to see this slowly subverted. However as he learns to walk again, he also gradually turns to the side of good.
Facial Markings: It's after the collapse of civilization, food is in short supply, water is in short supply, it's a Crapsack World where scavenging is the only way to get anything, but everyone still has an unlimited supply of makeup and hair dye with which to cover themselves in tribal markings.
Fantastic Racism: The Technos, a powerful technologically advanced tribe, look down on anyone else who isn't them.
Fantastic Slur: The Technos call other people "Virts" (derived from "virtual") to show they don't think of them as real people.
Faux Affably Evil: Ram, while not really pleasant, maintains a humorous and playful demeanor while revelling in his own wickedness. For instance, he shoots one of his officers for a minor failure in front of the rest to set an example. When Siva walks in and screams in horror, Ram instantly changes tone and joyously asks her what her day was like.
The Fundamentalist: Tai-San started out as an extreme Granola Girl Fundamentalist (refusing even to help Amber and the other girls teach the young children science, though she compromised and help to teach them math, even though she believed math and science to be part of "the old ways"- SEE Science Is Bad below), but thankfully grew out of it and became a more benign sort of mystic.
Gang of Hats: The various teenage tribes are identifiable largely by costumes and color schemes (Locos wear red and black; Demon Dogs wear silver; Mozquitos are all female and dress like dominatrices with insect masks, etc.), except for the main tribe, the Mallrats, who all wear very individualistic costumes, being a Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits.
Gentle Giant: The slow-witted, but kind and compassionate Ryan. He started out much more thug-like, as he came to the mall with Lex originally, and was Lex's "muscle" for the first few episodes, but as he started associating more with the other Mallrats, he grew into this kind of character.
Karma Houdini: Ebony. A lot of the conflicts that prevailed throughout the series were either caused by her, or if she didn't cause them she helped to further them along. Yet she very rarely answered for any of her crimes, or when she was exposed she was usually in a high enough position of power that nobody could do anything to her.
Kick the Dog: For the first part of season 4, Ram has been mostly Faux Affably Evil, and while having his forces take over the city, he has been mostly conciliatory to Ebony and the inhabitants. The first sign that he’s a real villain comes when Ebony and Jay start making decisions without consulting him. He calls Ebony in first, drills it into her head that she's just The Quisling, derides her as a mere "Virt", and shoots a Techno mook who failed his programming duty in front of her.
Limited Wardrobe: During the first season only five people actually change their outfit, and of those only Zandra changes it more than once. The younger kids change their clothes in the second season but that's probably because the old ones didn't fit them. This is particularly egregious because in one episode we see Lex and Ryan have a wardrobe full of clothes and they live in a mall.
Load-Bearing Hero: Lex uses his body to hold open an airlock door while Bray, Amber, Dal, and the dog escape from a self-destructing virology lab on Hope Island.
Love Triangle: Salene, Bray and Trudy. Though it's a twist on it as the guy isn't interested in a relationship.
Also Jack, Ellie and Luke.
Jay, Trudy and Amber.
Amber, Pride and Bray.
Salene, Pride and May.
The Mall: Most of the lead characters live in a mall and many plots would be about them defending themselves and their knew home from rival tribes. The tribe's name who lived inside the mall? The Mall Rats, of course.
Nerf Arm: Baseball bats, chair legs, blunted staffs and occasionally crossbows were the weapons of choice until the Technos arrived with their zappers with stun settings. Due to the target demographic, on-screen deaths were usually "accidental," even those resulting from fights, such as Zoot's fall after his scuffle with Lex and the similar fate of several other characters.
Never Learned to Read: Lex is an arrogant, tough, streetwise character... who never learned to read or write beyond a very low grade school level. The series implied several times that he had Dyslexia. It's a major source of insecurity for him, and he does try to improve his skills more than once.
No Communities Were Harmed: The series was set in "The City" - not only did they refuse to give it a proper name, but they even went out of their way to avoid pinning down which country (or continent!) they were in. All the actors spoke with New Zealand accents, but a British 50p coin was seen in an early episode, and several times British banknotes were also shown. No other cities were ever mentioned, and the only landmark was Eagle Mountain, but there aren't any mountains by that name in either New Zealand or mainland Britain (though there is one in Northern Ireland, and several in the United States).
Noodle Incident: We never did see what happened at Lex and Zandra's wedding.
Not Quite Dead: The final episodes of season five reveal a bunch of the people who were thought to have died were really alive, and Word of God revealed at least one more who survived.
Off The Wagon: Lex became an alcoholic early in the series, and later on, Salene.
The super secret password protecting all research regarding the Virus is please. The resident genius over-thought and didn't think to try it himself.
On a related note, some episodes later, the tribe is at the lab they think might help them figure out the antidote - Jack and Dal try to get anything to happen with the computer system, but nothing does until Jack, again accidentally, discovers that the system is voice activated.
Polyamory: Ram made wives out of sisters Java and Siva, mostly to show off his own power. When he meets Ebony (the third sister) he want to marry her too, to "complete the set", and she seem receptive to this at first. When she falls in love with Jay instead he becomes heartbroken for her betrayal.
Ebony's militia were a small group of ex-Locos (chaotic evil post-apunkalyptic teenage street fighters) who were loyal to Ebony and still wore the old team colors. When Ebony left the mall, she took the militia with her.
Billy-Boy, leader of the Jackals, was often accompanied by his own Goon Squad in Season 2.
As was Moz of the Mozquitoes in Season 3. The Guardian, leader of the religious cult "The Chosen," had the elite Praetorian Guard.
Put on a Bus: many characters mysteriously "disappeared" during the later series, some it was heavily implied were killed, others (Amber and Jack being notable examples). So much so, the Chosen and Technos could have been rival bus companies.
Real Life Writes the Plot: Almost all of the mallrats deaths and disappearances were done because the cast members quit. Apart from the ones who were fired.
Resemblance Reveal: The reveal of Java and Siva, Ebony's sisters in Series 4. The sisters unmistakeably look like Ebony, with a similar figure, facial features, poise and long, thin braids (and are in fact related in real life). Prior to the reveal, they spent several episodes wearing robot-like masks.
Schizo Tech: The show became this when the Technos arrived with their zap guns and Virtual Reality games. (Yet still being run on CRT-era iMacs.)
Science Is Bad: Tai-Sain believes this, at least, initially. She may have grown out of it by the second series though, when she is the only person entrusted with the formula for the Antidote to the Virus.
Taken Up to Eleven in first season. The series takes place in a lawless, post-apocalyptic city, where civilization has entirely collapsed and people do terrible things to survive. Most characters- both male and female- have grown pragmatic and distrustful because of this, if not outright evil. And then there's Bray, who is introduced as Trudy's protector, refusing adamantly to abandon her and her unborn child. Even though the child isn't his. Even though the child is actually the son of his tyrannical younger brother. And said brother is hunting Trudy because of this, and Trudy is emotionally fragile at the best of times. Bray still stands up to the tribe of protagonists, saying 'If I join, so does she.' The ensuing flood of romantic attention and catfights nearly destroys the fledging tribe.
Later on, Bray exemplifies the other end of this trope. He tries to stay away from said romantic attention, focusing instead on scavenging and helping his tribe...and thus falls for Amber, the confident, responsible leader of said tribe who is strongly dedicated to helping others. She's a bit reluctant to return Bray's feelings, seeing him as The Casanova who spread discord among her tribe, but they eventually hook up and become the political version of a Battle Couple.
A gender-flipped version in Lex, a Jerkass. After dating Zandra and Alice, he realises that what he really wants in a partner is someone he can respect, someone who shares similar survival abilities and isn't afraid to disagree with him. He finds this in Tai-San.
Technology Marches On: Clearly the Virus struck in 1998, what with all the CD players instead of iPods being used and traded. Notably, the survival machines made by Jack and Dal in the first series were plausible.
Although CD players are easier to power than iPods, which need a computer to charge from. It cold be an ease of use thing.
Took a Level in Jerkass: Ebony to Amber after the fall of the Locos in season 1. When it's revealed that Amber survived the explosion, while everyone thought she died, only Ebony saw her alive. She then proceeds to make Amber believe that Bray was cheating on her with Ebony, and uses Amber's grave as a means of explaining nobody wants her. Amber believes her and then disappears. Nobody finds out she was really alive all along until season 3, and even then Ebony's role in her leaving is never mentioned.
Ebony further to Trudy in season 2. She arranges Trudy's kidnapping by the Chosen, and then pretends to not know anything about her kidnapping to Bray and the Mallrats. This at least is revealed in season 3 when Trudy returns (albeit evil now) and exposes Ebony's role in her capture by the Chosen.
Ebony again to Amber and Trudy in season 3. She arranges their kidnapping and imprisonment with Ned, frames the Chosen for it, and emotionally manipulates a very distraught Bray that he's not capable of leading the City. The end result finds Ned murdered by the Guardian, the Guardian free from captivity and running off to reform the Chosen, and Ebony in complete control of the city.
Ebony, again, to Bray and a pregnant Amber in the season 3 finale. Bray finds out too little too late of Ebony's manipulations as new leader of the city and calls her out on her misdeeds in front of everyone. Ebony responds with banishing Bray and Amber from the city entirely, even though Amber was close to giving birth.
Ebony to Java and Siva when they were with the Locos. Though the sisters had a volatile relationship even before the virus, they swore to start fresh and take care of each other after their family died. Java and Siva were uncomfortable being with the Locos because of their violent behavior and wanted to leave, but Ebony ratted out their intentions to Zoot and they were imprisoned with the intention of being executed. Even though they were later released, Ebony believed they'd died and barely batted an eyelash and continued on with her life as if they never existed. their appearance in season 4 and first confrontation with Ebony was on of the few times Ebony showed real fear at that point.
Ellie towards Jack in season 3, after the fall of the Chosen and Jack returns to the City after being enslaved. Ellie by this point had already moved on with Luke, who'd previously been the Guardian's second-in-command. When Jack tries to rekindle his relationship with her, Ellie is cold and cruel to him and never tells him why. He witnesses Ellie and Luke kissing and that's how he finds out about their relationship. He leaves, feeling the Mallrats betrayed him by not telling him about this relationship, but Chloe goads him into coming back. Upon his return, Ellie treats his return as an intrusion and is colder and meaner to him than ever.
True Companions: The Mall Rats have this sort of relationship. They are one big, dysfunctional family - complete with marriages, affairs, power-grabs, friendships, substitute parental figures and siblings both literal and metaphorical. They frequently had issues and disagreements in the group but would come together as a tribe when they needed to.
Turn Coat: Multiple characters on different occasions.
Unusual Euphemism: "Waste" and later, "Delete" for killing someone or making them disappear.
To "waste" someone was fairly common slang during the time of the show's run (it's still well-understood, just not as popular in 2010 as it was in the '90s).
Also "Virt" (how the Technos referred to other tribes, derived from "Virtual") ... as opposed to the Technos, who are "real" people, the "Virts" are considered second-class, as though they merely appear to be living.
Viking Funeral: During Season 1, Zoot, the psychotic leader of tribe Locos, gets a Viking-style sendoff as well. This is mainly because the local cemetary has been overrun by members of a hostile rival tribe, but also because (as his brother Bray explains) " Zoot thought of himself as a warrior chief."
Wetware CPU: The Technos are carrying out a secret project by kidnapping various people and hooking them up to an inescapable virtual reality environment for Ram's private enjoyment. The hordes of respawning mooks he fights off are created from those people's minds.
The Demon Dogs seemed to disappear after the Locos do, though they never were as large or as organized.
Many members of the Mall Rats disappear and are never seen again, some of whom are children: Paul, Charlie, Andy, Tally, Dee and Patch just disappear into thin air either between episodes or between seasons, while Bray, Cloe, Tai-San and Ved are "deleted" (which, depending on the source, either means executed or imprisoned).
What the Hell, Hero?: Lex calls Tai-San out about her treatment of him during early season one when she begins going off at him about his treatment of Alice.
Younger than They Look: Both Amber and Ebony are only 14 when the series starts; you wouldn't be able to tell by the way they act.
You Have Failed Me: Ram kills a Techno who completely failed his programming mission, mostly to show Ebony that he doesn’t shy away from killing people. He does it again in a later episode in front of the rest of his terrified mooks.