Series / Zorro
"Beware, Commander! My sword is a flame to right every wrong, so heed well my name!"

"Out of the night, when the full moon is bright, comes a horseman known as Zorro. This bold renegade carves a Z with his blade, a Z that stands for Zorro. Zorro, the fox so cunning and free. Zorro, who makes the sign of the Z. Zorro! Zorro! Zorro!"

A 1957-1959 television series featuring Guy Williams as Zorro. It is not the only TV series featuring the character, but it is certainly the most well known.

Don Diego de la Vega, son of rancher Alejandro de la Vega, lives in California, at the time it was a Spanish colony. He returns from Spain at the beginning of the series, and notices that the people is being oppressed by the military commander Enrique Monasterio. Diego, who had become a master swordsman, decides to act as a mild intellectual, and secretly creates a new Secret Identity to fight against evil: the Zorro! He is helped by his servant Bernardo, who also has a secret: he's mute, and pretends to be both deaf and mute. This allows Bernardo to stay in places where others talk their secrets freely.

He helps Ignacio Torres against the political persecution of Monasterio, who is eventually removed from the military. Diego thinks that, with new military authorities, there won't be any further need for Zorro, but he's forced to continue when he discovers the conspiracies of "The Eagle", a figure that is plotting the secession of California.

Zorro provides examples of:

  • Alternate History: The failed revolt by "The Eagle" is, of course, not based on any actual historical events. Still, California had briefly attempted to be an independent nation for a short time, and their flag used an animal (a bear, not an eagle).
  • Because I Said So: García tells Ana Campillo that she must return to Spain, because the interim commander says so. Not a hard guessing, who is the interim commander?
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Corporal Reyes
  • "Be Quiet!" Nudge: Sergeant García and Corporal Reyes once exchange shut-up kicks with each other when either of them is about to let slip to Don Alexandro that they know what happened to Don Diego (whom they knocked out and sequestrated to save him from fighting in a duel).
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Everybody else is amazed of how the Zorro always knows about everything.
  • Big Eater: Sergeant García
  • Cover-Blowing Superpower: Once, having no time to slip away and get into the Zorro outfit, Don Diego must enter a swordfight without blowing up his Rich Idiot with No Day Job cover before Commander Monasterio, thus pretending to be a clumsy swordsman but still blocking every of the villain's attacks. He then, for Monasterio, tries to pass off his success as sheer luck. Keep in mind the villain is considered the best swordsman in the province. The final "move" he pulls in the fight is as follows: Don Diego goes in for a clumsy but powerful thrust which is easily parried by the villain, causing Diego to "jam" his own sword into a rock crevice. As Diego is pretending to desperately try to yank the sword out, the villain gloats a little and goes for the fatal blow. At that precise moment Diego summons all his strength and "finally" pulls his weapon free, causing him to stagger backwards and "flail" his sword, knocking his unsuspecting opponent's weapon out of his hand and over the side of the cliff, winning the fight.
  • Doomed by Canon: "The Eagle" and his separatist revolt don't last for more than a few hours. It has to; Spanish California will secede from Spain to be part of Mexico, not an independent nation.
  • Everybody Knew Already: Except for Bernardo, nobody knew Diego's secret, not even his father... or so he thought. The government fills the city with advertisements proposing Zorro to receive a pardon if he shows up in the plaza at a certain hour and unmasks himself. And Diego, who's in love, is tempted to do so. Alejandro ambushes Diego and keeps him captive, to prevent him from committing a grave mistake... yes, he knows his secret, since a long time ago.
  • Face Palm: In the very first episode, Commander Monasterio (while stuck inside a prison cell) facepalms as he watches Zorro utterly humiliates Sergeant García and the rest of his soldiers for the first time (but certainly not the last).
  • Fat Idiot: Sergeant García
  • Flynning: Happens in all episodes. And if the enemy is supposed to be a master swordsman as well, it takes a longer time. This is made less obvious by using fencing drill (Guy Williams was a champion fencer) rather than a lot of wider swings.
  • General Ripper: Monasterio. Anything can be done, no matter how evil, if it helps to capture that dammed Zorro!
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Played completely straight, with characters peppering otherwise English dialog with common Spanish words and phrases.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: Zorro may make many feats, but the best one was the wanderer Cleim. He fought against a swordsman with just a knife... and won.
  • Killed to Uphold the Masquerade: Basilio finally attacks Zorro by surprise, at De la Vega's ranch. He takes out his mask, and realizes it is Diego. He wears the mask and the costume, that he took from him, as a mark of his final victory. And so, he leaves the room and calls the soldiers. "It's Zorro!! Kill him!!" And not with swords this time!! Basilio dies before revealing Diego's secret (who wakes up and gets dressed).
  • Kirk's Rock: Probably one of the earliest use in television, and before they were called that. In the episode "The Missing Father", Zorro pursues a mysterious masked figure over the Rocks.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: The plots of the chapters of the series (not just the general theme) is an adaption of comic books of Zorro published by Disney. Disney also created a novelization entitled Walt Disney's Zorro, published by Whitman in 1958.
  • Never Bring a Gun to a Knife Fight: There are guns in the setting, and Zorro eludes a shot now and then; but most of the time, when Zorro is in the scene, everybody tries to best him in a sword fight (and, of course, loses).
  • Obfuscating Disability: Diego's servant Bernardo is mute, but pretends to be deaf as well, to better eavesdrop to rumors and conversations.
  • Police Are Useless: The military is completely useless, either to capture a mere man dressed in black, or to deal with any other threat, which is always stopped by Zorro.
  • Sadistic Choice: Basilio sends a rancher to trial for having English items, when it is forbidden to have anything that is not Spanish (but it is a long-forgotten rule, that nobody actually follows). As he captured him, García would receive the ranch... and must give testimony that the rancher has violated the law. If he does not say so, he will be hanged for allowing such widespread violation of the law. Everybody despise him, thinking that he will send the rancher to his death to get his ranch, and this includes Zorro. If García says that the rancher violated the law, Zorro would mark a Z on him... a lot deeper. And then, the day of the trial is here. García must say something. Captain Mendoza shows him a gallows toy, to remind him of the deal, and Bernardo plays with a mirror that reflects a Z in the wall, to remind him of the other deal.
  • Scarecrow Solution: Trying to catch an unjustly accused man, who's taken sanctuary in the church of a monastery, Commander Monasterio invades the place with his soldiers under the fake threat of an Indian attack. The monastery is so well-guarded that Zorro almost gets caught trying to reach the prisoner. So, Don Diego spreads the rumor of the ghost of a mad monk roaming the grounds by talking to the impressionable Sergeant García. Later that night, Zorro disguises as the ghost and scares all the soldiers into fleeing, leaving Monasterio alone.
  • Shoot the Rope: In an episode, Zorro saves an old friend of Don Diego from hanging by shooting the rope with a flaming arrow. He does so before the trapdoor is opened, though, leaving time enough for the fire to burn the rope. He also pins the executor's sleeve to the gallows by firing another arrow to prevent him from interfering.
  • Stout Strength: Sure, Sergeant García is not that fast considering his bulk, nor the most skilled swordsman... but if a bandido gets into his grasp, he's not getting away.
  • Timmy in a Well: This is how Don Diego meets with Phantom (his second steed after Tornado). The horse shows up alone and tempts Diego into pursuit, but too fast to be caught, to finally lead him to his wounded former master, Lieutenant Lopez, who was mugged and left for dead. Before dying, he begs Diego to take care of Phantom.
  • White Stallion: Zorro usually favors a black stallion, Tornado, to better vanish into the night. However, during a time he's away from his usual base of Los Angeles, he acquires from a dying man a white stallion, Phantom, who proves to be just as speedy and as intelligent as Tornado.