Series / The Zack Files

"[...] You attract the paranormal like dogs attract fleas."
The Zack Files was a Canadian live-action paranormal show that aired in the early Noughties that was based off of a willfully strange and off-the wall children's book series. The show revolved around Zack Greenburg and his friends Cameron, Spencer, and Gwen as they experience various paranormal hijinks thanks to Zack essentially having a literal Weirdness Magnet-gene. Spencer chronicles these adventures, which he dubs "The Zack Files" in his hopes of studying and proving the existence of the paranormal.

Coincidentally, this show has pretty much the same cast as Black Hole High, and a number of the actors wound up on Degrassi.

The series provides examples of:

  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: In "Quiet Please, I'm Reading Your Mind", Zack becomes telepathic. Cam wants to use it to make his fortune.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Gwen is very dismissive of the paranormal and often tries to convince Spence and Zack to forget about it.
  • Alien Invasion: The Zugottian Empire try to invade Earth in "Total Rewind" but they're not very good at it.
  • Arch-Enemy: Vernon is Zack's arch-enemy. Cam and Spence hate him too - as does Gwen to a lesser extent - but Vernon doesn't hate Cam and Spence nearly as much as he hates Zack.
  • Adults Are Useless: Zack's father Dan qualifies. He means well!
  • Alone with the Psycho
  • Bad Future: In "It's a Wonderful School", Zack is sent to a future in which Vernon is the school president and has completely taken over Horace Hyde-White.
  • Childhood Friends: Zack, Spence and Cam have all been best friends for years by the time that the series begins.
  • Class Trip: Comes up fairly often.
  • Clip Show: The penultimate episode, "Who Did You Say I Was?", Zack gets amnesia and the others have to remind him of his adventures.
  • Cultural Translation: The book series took place in New York City; the TV show, being made in Canada, moved the setting to Toronto.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: In "The Switch", Zack switches bodies with Vernon and later his manservant Charles.
  • Gender Bender: In one episode, Zack turns into a girl after trying some girls' deodorant.
    • Gender-Bender Friendship: In a slight twist on the usual trope, he spends his time trying to set Gwen up with Cameron, not with himself.
  • High School Hustler: Cam.
  • Hot Teacher: Zack has a huge crush on Ms. Arlington in Season Two. It's obvious to everyone in spite of what Zack thinks.
  • Imagine the Audience Naked: Subverted. Zack is told to imagine himself in his underwear (his friend getting the advice wrong), which causes his pants, and any subsequent pants he tries to put on to disappear until he can confront his fear of not only giving a speech, but doing it in his underwear, too.
  • Instructional Title: The book series has a book entitled How To Speak Dolphin in Three Easy Lessons.
  • I've Never Seen Anything Like This Before: Spencer's Catch Phrase.
  • Just Friends: Cam and Gwen frequently insist that they are this but Zack and Spence don't believe them.
  • Kiss of Life: One episode had Spencer attempt this on Zack. Zack is NOT amused.
  • Least Rhymable Word
  • "Not Wearing Pants" Dream: In "Exit, Stage Fright", Zack has one which bleeds into the real world, leaving him, Cam and Spence without pants.
  • One-Gender School: The main characters all attend Horace White High School for Boys. Gwen is the only girl at the school, because her father is the principal.
  • Overprotective Dad: Dan has shades of this.
  • Painful Transformation: Zack transforms into a tree at the end of one episode.
  • Picture Day: In "Photo Double", Zack's soul is trapped in his student ID card.
  • Power Trio: Zack, Cam and Spence.
  • School Idol: Cam, at least in his own mind.
  • School Play: In the series finale "Zackeo and Juliet", Horace Hyde-White stages Romeo and Juliet with Zack and Gwen as the title characters, Cam as Tybalt and Spence as the Monk.
  • School Uniforms Are the New Black: Horace Hyde-White has one.
  • Stern Teacher: Mr. Munk.
  • Student Council President: Zack in "It's a Wonderful Plot" and Vernon in the Bad Future in the same episode. Cam and Gwen run for the position in "Zack and White".
  • Truman Show Plot: One season two episode involves Zack's life being broadcast as a reality show on an alien planet.
  • Two-Teacher School: In Season One, there is Mr. Killerby and Mrs. Coleman-Levin. In Season Two, there is Ms. Arlington and Mr. Munk.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Pretty much the whole premise.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Gwen and Cameron.
  • Wondrous Ladies Room: Inverted! Gwen bursts in to the Boys' Room to yell at Zack, and has no idea what the urinals are. He tells her they are planters. For vegetables. She believes it.