Theatre: The League of S.T.E.A.M.
The League of S.T.E.A.M. (Supernatural and Troublesome Ectoplasmic Apparition Management), a.k.a. the "Steampunk Ghostbusters", is a Southern Californian performance art troupe popular in the steampunk
community and specializing in live interactive themed entertainment.
The League is loosely modeled after the 1984 film Ghostbusters
, translating the idea of a "paranormal pest control service" into a neo-Victorian steampunk setting. The four main members of the League have created backpacks reminiscent of the Ghostbusters' backpacks, each allegedly performing some necessary paranormal investigative function. They are known for these and other creative steampunk "inventions" (functional props), and have also been written about and interviewed as leading examples of steampunk style.
They also produce a popular web series, The Adventures of the League of S.T.E.A.M.
, that has featured guest stars including MythBusters
' Grant Imahara, Doug Jones (Pans Labyrinth
, Fantastic Four 2
) and Phil LaMarr (Justice League Unlimited
, Samurai Jack
, Pulp Fiction
). The series chronicles the League on various comic adventures where they attempt to locate, capture or neutralize supernatural creatures.
The League of S.T.E.A.M. provides examples of the following tropes:
- ACME Products: Some of their devices are inspired by ACME, such as Crackitus Potts' expandable boxing glove, the potato cannon, the net gun and the plunger gun.
- Action Girl: Lady Potts, Katherine Blackmoore, The Russian.
- Affectionate Parody: Of Ghostbusters.
- Alien Blood: When the leprechaun in "Fool's Gold" is dispatched, he turns into a pile of green goo. Which then begins to reform, T-1000-style...
- All Trolls Are Different: The troll in "Big Trouble" is of the big, dumb, lumbering kind. Also rather blind.
- Artifact of Doom: In "Curses!", the team have a cursed artifact appraised, in a curio shop run by Grant Imahara that apparently specializes in Artifacts of Doom. When our heroes realise what they have they keep passing it to each other, greatly confusing the Mummy that's sneaking up on them with hands outstretched.
- Awesome Anachronistic Apparel
- Awesome Backpack: Several.
- Badass Crew
- Bald of Evil: The main villain introduced in the Season 1 finale and seen throughout Season 2. Lampshaded and lampooned in the Season 2 finale, "Dead End", when it's shown that he is a member of a league of bald villains, and their ultimate penalty for failure: being banished after having a wig glued onto his bald head.
- Bandaged Face: Dr. Griffin, at the end of "Now You See Me...".
- Batter Up: Zombie-slayer Katherine Blackmoore's primary weapon is a cricket bat. (Perhaps a shout-out to Shaun of the Dead.)
- Best Served Cold: In "Tall Tails", Thaddeus has his revenge... and literally serves it afterward.
- Big Damn Heroes: The rest of the League arrives to save Crackitus, the Baron, Thaddeus and Katherine Blackmoore at the end of the Season 2 finale, "Dead End".
- Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: "Hairy Hijinks"
- Black Cloak: Members of the league of evil villains opposed to the League all wear these.
- The Cavalry: See Big Damn Heroes.
- Chemistry Can Do Anything: Dr. Griffin was trying to create a new tooth whitener in "Now You See Me...", but it had unfortunate side-effects.
- Christmas Special: The episode, "The Fright Before Christmas".
- Clockwork Creature: Their clockwork zombie-hunting cyborg, R.O.S.E.
- Cool Airship: In "Dead End", the villain is seen traveling in one.
- Dashingly Dapper Derby:
- Worn by Baron von Fogel.
- Coyote also sports one.
- Demonic Possession: In "Dining with the Devil".
- Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Several members of the League smoke pipes.
- Electromagnetic Ghosts:
- Jay Are's backpack is a device for detecting Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVPs).
- The girls that stand in as "ghosts" during their live shows also have lights underneath their Victorian outfits to make them "glow".
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: The League sometimes has to deal with invisible ghost monkeys (such as in their short, "Monkey Business").
- Everything's Deader with Zombies: If you can't beat'em... employ them!
- Everything's Squishier with Cephalopods: The Kraken in "Tall Tails".
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Ghosts, Vampires, Leprechauns, Trolls, Werewolves, Zombies, Demons, Mummies, Kraken, Bigfoot... the steampunk world of the League sure isn't limited to one kind of monster.
- Fun with Acronyms:
- The League of S.T.E.A.M. (Supernatural and Troublesome Ectoplasmic Apparition Management);
- R.O.S.E. (Reanimate Optimized Search Engine);
- the H.U.G. (Hunting Utility Gun), a net gun;
- The Junior League W.A.T.C.H. (Worldwide Alliance for the Tracking of Creatures and Haunts).
- Gadgeteer Genius: Several, especially Crackitus Potts.
- Gentleman Adventurer: Thaddeus is actually a Gentleman's Gentleman adventurer.
- Goggles Do Nothing:
- Hey, it's steampunk, what did you expect?
- The goggles in "Big Trouble" do do something: they help the troll to see better.
- Gulliver Tie Down: The garden gnomes do this to Zed in "Bitter Gnomes and Gardens", with a garden hose.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: In at least three episodes, a bald villain, apparently the nemesis of the League, has been seen, but only from the back. (Although in one episode part of his face is seen, revealing that he has a goatee.) His face is finally seen in the Season 2 finale, "Dead End".
- Hey, That's My Line!: Crackitus Potts is the de facto leader of the team and usually introduces the episodes he appears in. When someone else will occasionally start the introduction, he'll usually run to the camera to interrupt them and take over the intro.
- Hollywood Darkness: The episode "Full Moon Fiasco", supposedly happening under a full moon.
- Hollywood Exorcism: In "Dining with the Devil".
- I Do Not Drink Wine: Alluded in "Two for Dinner", where Crackitus declines the (drugged) wine offered by his vampire guest with this line.
- Incessant Music Madness: In "The Tiki Room", the League deals with a tiki idol that emits a drumming sound and Will. Not. Shut. Up. Fortunately no-one actually goes mad, but it does make it difficult to conduct an interrogation.
- Interspecies Romance: Albeit briefly, in "Tall Tails": Thaddeus relates how he once supposedly fell in love with a mermaid... until she was taken away by the kraken. In "Now You See Me...", Thaddeus and his mermaid love are shown frolicking in a bathtub.
- Invisible Jerkass:
- The ghost monkeys in "Monkey Business".
- Dr. Griffin starts to become one in "Now You See Me..."
- Iris Out: The ending of most episodes, with an iris shaped like a cog.
- Jet Pack: Baron von Fogel's backpack is one.
- Kraken and Leviathan: A Kraken appears in the "Tall Tails" of Crackitus, Thaddeus and Jasper.
- Lady of Adventure: Lady Potts
- Leprechaun: In their award-winning webisode, "Fool's Gold", the League battles one.
- Music Soothes the Savage Beast: A clockwork singing Robot Girl is used to soothe the troll to sleep in "Big Trouble".
- Mad Scientist: Several in the League would probably qualify.
- The Matchmaker: Mrs. Potts tries to play this with Jay Are and The Russian in "Hairy Hijinks".
- Miles Gloriosus: In "Tall Tails", Crackitus, Thaddeus and Jasper sit around telling stories of personal encounters with the Kraken. Until it actually arrives...
- Nice Hat:
- Their zombie manservant Zedediah wears a fez.
- Baron von Fogel and Coyote wear Dashingly Dapper Derbies.
- Sir Conrad, Jasper Mooney, Professor Jager and Mrs. Potts wear top hats.
- Ellie Copperbottom wears a mini-tophat, and Thaddeus wears a boater.
- No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: In "Two for Dinner", the clueless Crackitus is invited to dinner at the home of a vampire. Fortunately he invites his friend, vampire hunter Sir Conrad, along.
- Not Using the Zed Word: Averted; their manservant is even named Zed.
- Old-Timey Bathing Suit: Fittingly for the setting; seen in a flashback of "Tall Tails".
- Our Ghosts Are Different: A trio of ghostly belles who are content with playfully messing with the living.
- Our Gnomes Are Weirder: In "Bitter Gnomes and Gardens", the gnomes are of the garden gnome variety, with the peculiar weakness that they can only move if not seen, similar to the Weeping Angels of Doctor Who (Lampshaded in a Shout-Out).
- Our Mermaids Are Different: The mermaid in "Tall Tails" and "Now You See Me..." is of the standard "beautiful woman with fishlike tail" variety.
- Our Zombies Are Different: The League has perfected (well, almost...) a technique for converting zombies into domestic servants.
- Power Trio: Originally, it was a Power Foursome, but with Professor Jager becoming inactive, the three main members of the team are Crackitus Potts, Baron von Fogel and Jay Are, but with an increasingly large support team.
- Punny Name: The leader of the League is named Crackitus Potts. Crackpot, get it? (Also an allusion to Caractacus Pott from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.)
- Red Shirt: Any Junior League W.A.T.C.H. member joining the team is given a red jacket... as seen in "Prehistoric Peril!", after one gets eaten by a T. rex.
- Robot Girl: R.O.S.E.
- Shout-Out: Plentiful.
- Slipping a Mickey: The vampire in "Two for Dinner" tries this with the classical ring containing powdered drug.
- Steampunk: Obviously.
- Steampunk Gadgeteers: Even more obviously.
- Tall Tale: In The Adventures of the League of S.T.E.A.M. episode "Tall Tails", three League members sit around telling stories of their encounter with a Kraken... some of them being a bit hard to swallow.
- Tasty Gold: Crackitus does it with a coin from the leprechaun's pot in "Fool's Gold", insuring his wrath.
- Troll Bridge: The troll in "Big Trouble" lives under one.
- The Team Benefactor: Albert Able, Esq.
- Who You Gonna Call?: The Ghostbusters TV ad from the film is even parodied in a short.
- You Have Failed Me:
- The bald villain does this to a henchman by way of Baleful Polymorph in "Jurassic Peril!"
- And then he crushes a garden gnome underfoot for the same reason in "Bitter Gnomes and Gardens".
- The fate of said villain from his peers in Season 2 finale, "Dead End".
- Zerg Rush: The League members are good enough to take care of a dozen zombies without any trouble. Several time this number? Not so much.