Web Animation: Bonus Stage
"Three friends become the guinea pig of a brilliant inventor. The goal: to create the greatest webtoon of all time! They failed. Now witness the failure! BONUS STAGE!"Bonus Stage
) was an animated Flash action/adventure/comedy series filled with surreal humor, sarcasm, and pop culture references.
The cartoon was focused on Joel Dawson, action scientist
, and his roommate Phil Argus, a normal person with superpowers who is mostly frustrated and serious
. There's Elly Strife, who has a crush on Joel that goes unrequited
, aside from Phil's crush on her.
Rya Botkins is a robot created by Joel
to be Phil's girlfriend
; she is a Deadpan Snarker
who verbally (and literally) rips people (mostly Phil)
apart, and is not really Phil's girlfriend. Finally, Phil's mom, Jessica Argus, is middle-aged, but acts and looks like a 25-year-old babe
who just wants to fit in with the crew
All this started with High Score
, the original show before Bonus Stage
, which got started as an attempt to compete with Homestar Runner
. The cartoon only lasted 4 episodes and was canceled due to lack of interest from the creator.
Bonus Stage was created by Matt Wilson. Matt hated some of his fans, because they did not think or behave like normal rational human beings
and none of them were ever satisfied with anything he did
, making it impossible to adjust the writing. Regardless, his fans loved him anyway.
Matt also did nearly all the voices on the show
and used FL Studio to create his background music and theme song. He used Swift3D for CGI.Bonus Stage
ended in 2006 from financial issues and lack of interest from Matt Wilson. After years of waning interest and financial woes, Matt made the decision to end the series abruptly mid-arc with a Downer Ending
. The site itself went down in 2009, so the show can now be found here
(it will be necessary to constantly edit your URLS in the keenspot subdomain due to flash menus).
Matt has since started a new channel, Cartoon Drive Thru
, which features much of the same kind of humor.
This series provides examples of:
- Aborted Arc: The series ended one season short of its intended run, leaving several plot threads (including an arc involving the Cloaked Figure from episode 79) dangling.
- "This is stupid. Let's do a different plot!"
- Absurdly Youthful Mother: Jessica after being de-aged.
- Ad Break Double Take: Done in Episode 75, between parts 1 and 2. Lampshaded:
Stomach King: "But I don't think you'll be doing either."
Elly: "Wow. The Fraggles look a lot bigger in person."
Stomach King: "But I don't think you'll be doing either."
Elly: "You just said that!"
Andrew: "Eh, they're villians. Just humor them."
- And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Parodied/subverted at the end of episode 33, in which Emulation was briefly brought up:
Phil: "Hi. I'm Phil. And this is Joel. And we just wanted to make it clear that Bonus Stage does not condone any illegal downloading of copyrighted material of any kind.
Joel: "Yeah we do." (Turns to face the camera) "STEAL."
- Art Evolution: Big time.
Phil: "Hey, you guys got new designs. ...I hate them."
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Evil's monologue in Episode 78.
Evil: "The flesh of the innocent has gone for too long un-rended, blood unboiled, families unseperated, school field trips unchaperoned!"
- Artistic License – Geography: In Episode 76, Phil complains that people are ignoring the deaths being caused by Hurricane Katrina in the city of New Orleans "isn't part of America". When Joel points out that it is, Phil attempts to cover himself by claiming "New Orleans is one of my favorite states!"
- Bad Future: In Episode 24, the ending shows the year 2005 ravaged by nuclear war and controlled by Rya. In Episode 31, Joel calls Phil in 2006 on his Time-o-phone but their conversation is cut short by a nuclear explosion.
- Better Than a Bare Bulb
- Big Bad: In Seasons 1 and 2, It was Joel's future self. In Seasons 3 and 4, it was Evil. In Seasons 5 and 6 it was KOKOR And Stomach King. In Season 7 and 8, The Antagonist would have been Cassidy.
- Big NO: Joel has one in Episode 9, when he's forced to watch Time Squad for 24/7 in Hell, and Phil has one in a flashback in Episode 85, when Elly falls in love with Joel.
- Big Red Button: Joel presses the self-destruct button on Hydrox in an attempt to close the door.
- After the pair stop the Tandy Brothers from taking over the world, Joel instructs Phil to press "The world-saving button!".
Phil: "There's no such thing!"
*Joel points, camera zooms to a big red button labeled "End Doomsday Button, followed by silence"
- Birthday Episode: Episode 45 is Phil's, although more focus is put on the debut of his mother, Jessica.
- Bottle Episode: Called "Anti-Episodes" by the fans, due to often having little to do with the episode guide description.
- Season 1's bottle episode, "Recap", was a quick back-and-forth with credits and a quick bonus cartoon.
- Season 4 had "Cursive Written Script", which was turned into a bottle episode, with half the episode taking place in Phil's garage, due to difficulties writing the script.
- Season 5's "Five Minute Story Hour" was turned from "Fee Fi Fo", an Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever episode, into a story narrated by Joel.
- Season 6 had "Phil the WereDevil", which was originally a The Virus-style episode, turned into an episode about how they didn't make the episode.
- Season 7 had "Nerds and Geeks Are Not the Same", almost an abridged series precursor, dubbing Popeye, instead of an actual animated episode.
- Breast Attack: "I'm going to specifically punch you in the nipple!"
- Brick Joke: In Episode 50, Evil disables Rya in the middle of saying "which is why I have to kill you". Joel restarts her in Epiosde 51 after some modifactions...one of which was a Half-Life mod. When reactivated, she finishes her sentence of and incinerates Jessica with an energy blast.
- Choose Your Own Adventure: The episode "2 Fast" ended this way, with choices of "Normal Ending", "Creepy Ending" or "Sheep in the Big City Ending".
- Christmas Cake: Arguably Jessica, since she's technically middle-aged. Though whether or not she counts (she looks and acts like she's 25) is debatable.
- Christmas Episode: Two of them. They're somewhat less heartwarming than the usual fare for this trope.
- Clip Show: Subverted in Episode 8.
Phil: "Hey, remember that time we..."
Joel: "No!" *cue credits*
- Coincidental Broadcast: Lampshaded in episode 49 when the gang turns on the TV, only to have a news reporter say, "If you've just joined us..." and then compliment the viewer on their excellent timing.
- Con Man: Brad, originally (at the age of five, no less), and then Slim later on.
- Conspicuous CG: in some external shots.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: In Episode 9, Joel dies and goes to Hell, where his choices of punishment are to watch Time Squad for 24/7, watch Shrek 2 for 24/7, or eat Satan's mom's spaghetti.
- Cross Over: With Space Tree. And Waterman.
- Curse Cut Short: In episode 76, when Phil is plotting to fight Andrew over Elly:
"Phil, you're never going to fight Andrew. You know what you, Elly, and the animated version of Nermal from the Garfield and Friends
syndicated series have in common?"
Phil: "We're all androgynous?"
Joel: "No. You have something else in common."
(camera gets closer)
(cut to outside, Joel is violently flung out of the house)
Joel: "Ow. That's what I get for sitting in a catapult."
(the camera reveals the front door, which shows that a catapult was indeed set up)
Phil: "Now, see, I told you that was a bad idea."
Joel: "Well, you were right on the money."
- Cyberspace: The entire show takes place within Joel's simulated reality.
- "Prepare to encephalon dive... Oh wait, we can't do that."
- Deader Than Dead: Mr. Malice in episode 66. (He got better.)
- Deadpan Snarker: Rya, though most of the other characters indulge in their fair share of snark as well.
- Death Is Cheap: So much so that in later seasons, it's not uncommon for main characters to die repeatedly in the same episode.
- The Devil Is a Loser: Satan is a droning bore, ranting on and on about absolutely nothing. His idea of torture includes watching Time Squad 24/7 or eating his mom's spaghetti. Even Hitler couldn't handle that.
Joel: You are the worst. Satan. Ever.
- Didn't We Use This Joke Already?: In Episode 76, when Phil starts a fight with Andrew over Elly:
Elly: "Grow up, Phil. I chose to date this man, and I'm gonna do it. Although a relationship with Phil could be rewarding..."
Joel: "Wait a second! This is the exact same dialogue as episode 69!"
''*beat, look of shock from Phil/Elly/Andrew*
Narrator: EMERGENCY PLOT CHANGE!
- Discontinuity Nod: "Ahaha... We don't reference High Score anymore!"
- Disproportionate Retribution: In their initial visit to Hydrox, Joel slurs the local population by saying "If this place were a train station, it'd be called the Faggot Express". Though one of the natives says that they all are, in fact, gay, they are not outraged by Joel's display of homophobia but for "[informing] us of an antiquated form of transportation we don't have access to" and are sentenced to death.
- Don't Look at Me!: Done in an Episode 22 cutaway with R.D./D.G.
- Downer Ending: Made even worse by episode summaries for the canceled final season having already been written and the whole thing planned out, then suddenly snatched away and replaced with everyone dying and the show itself being erased from time.
- Which is then completely undone in episode 89, with Phil even questioning how he's still alive.
- Episode 79 what with Rya's death and all.
- Dramatic Unmask: Episode 50, when Evil is revealed to be Elly. Complete with a Split-Screen Reaction.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Mr. Malice is deliberately forgotten on Hydrox and blown up along with the rest of the planet. Not that anyone really missed him, though...
- The same could be said for the virtual environment created by Joel at the end of the old Episode 87... yeah, thanks a lot, Phil!
- Dynamic Entry: Episode 89, when Phil, Elly, and June somehow crash through the ceiling of a forest to rescue Joel.
- Earth All Along: Used by Joel in Episode 62:
Joel: "Actually, it was Earth alllll along."
Phil: "No, I distinctly remember crashing into several planets that did not remotely-"
Joel: "It was Earth alllll along."
Phil: "I...we clearly did not-"
Joel: "It was Earth alllll along."
Joel: (slowed down voice) "It was Earth alllll a- *beat* (chipmunk voice) -long."
- Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Hydrox is blown up due to Joel pushing red buttons.
- Emo Teen: Candace, in a flashback.
Phil: "Emo girlfriends. They kill you on the inside."
- Evil Tower of Ominousness: "Evil's Evil Lair Of Evility".
- Fate Worse Than Death
Cassidy: "We're going to die! Or worse!"
Phil: "How do you define 'worse'?"
Joel: "What if there were termites burrowing into your anus and destroying your intestines?"
Phil: "I don't think that scenario is ever going to play out."
KOKOR: "Release the termites!"
- Flat Character: Most of the extras.
Andrew: "Are you saying there are gimmicky, one-trick-pony characters in Bonus Stage?
Slim: "I'm a weasel."
- Fountain of Youth: Jessica is turned into a twenty-five year old thanks to Evil screwing around in Joel's lab.
- The Fundamentalist: Jessica prior to being de-aged.
- Future Me Scares Me / I Hate Past Me: Done both ways in the alternate version of Episode 88 (which starts as a reboot of Episode 25); future Phil thinks his past self is an asshole, and past Phil thinks his future self is a retard.
- Gainax Ending: The "Sheep in the Big City Ending" is a typical Sheep in the Big City scene, ending with a pun, that has nothing to do with the rest of "2 Fast".
- Gilligan Cut / Sarcasm Failure: How they got into space in the first place.
Joel: "Hey, let's do the show in space."
*cut to them in space*
Phil: "I guess I forgot that sarcasm holds no power over this show."
- Gross-Up Close-Up: Parodied. Two somewhat typical examples are used, and the third is just a title card reading "Horrifying Detail Shot #3", with a few hairs growing out of it.
- Harmless Villain: The Stomach King. He loses all credibility in his first appearance when all his plans turn out to be cheap knock-offs of comic books and video games. From there, his sporadic appearances only cement his loser status.
- JOEL'S #6 ENEMY.
- "Number six? What the f*ck?!"
- Evil arguably qualifies as well, though he/she is somewhat less harmless than the Stomach King.
- The Tandy Brothers, especially in their first couple of appearances. Even when they took over the world, they never really grew out of being harmless.
- I Have Many Names: Shipmaster
Greg Kevin Douglas Felix German Winslow.
- Its Pronounced Tropay: The fifth and sixth seasons were set on the "eShip": the "Spac" is silent.
- Halfway Plot Switch: This show does this in spades.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The Stomach King, thanks to not checking his watch, once blew himself up with his own self-destructing ray gun.
- House Amnesia: Joel, during a heated debate with Phil over Baby Ballface in Episode 82:
(Cut to Joel standing outside. The front door slams in his face.)
Joel: "Oh, yeah, right."
- I Take Offense to That Last One: Elly is called a "filthy slutbag", to which Andrew responds "Hey, she's not filthy!"
- Jerk Ass: Arguably most of the cast.
Elly: "So...what's your ex like? Can she do an optic blast?"
Joel: "She was great. My intellectual equal. She was a scientist, she helped raise my sister, she's...pretty much everything you're not. In fact, you're kind of the least possible candidate for girlfriend I have ever come across. You have no redeeming qualities that I can determine. The world would be better off if you never reproduced with anyone."
(Elly starts crying)
Joel: "...I made Elly cry. Awesome!"
Blakken White: "Congratulations! You're an asshole!"
- Jump the Shark: Joel invokes this in-universe by name at least twice for a gag.
Joel: Come quick, we're about to travel over Shark World
. I don't know why we haven't done this already.
Joel: No, no. There are some sharks I refuse to jump.
- Killed Off for Real: Mr. Malice, KOKOR, Rya.
- Love Dodecahedron: Phil loves Elly (and Word of God appeared to imply that had the series continued, the two of them would've become an item). Elly is stalking Joel and dating Andrew. Joel is dating Jessica, and is technically supposed to be June's boyfriend as well, though he doesn't seem to acknowledge her existence much. Rya and Cassidy are both pretty strongly implied to be in love with Phil; Rya was actually built to be Phil's girlfriend. Word of God actually states that Cassidy was so obsessed with Phil that she killed Rya, viewing her as a threat to their love. None of this plays that major a role in the series, though (save for a few episodes).
- Meaningful Name: The main villain in season 4's name is Evil.
- MST3K Mantra: Invoked brilliantly in Episode 81 when Phil asks a whole bunch of questions about the nature of the virtual world. In this instance, the mantra is a bowling ball and it's application is it being thrown at Phil's face.
- Negative Continuity
- Nice Hat: Cassidy wears a pink striped top hat, which she has apparently worn since grade school.
- No Fourth Wall: There have been episodes about why there isn't a plot-related episode today.
- Plus the characters are all fully aware that they are in a cartoon
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Arguably KOKOR. Yet another Harmless Villain in the early seasons, he was unceremoniously killed off in season five. Season six had him rebuilt, with an entire armada of aliens backing him up. He even managed to defeat the heroes for several episodes, before Joel blew up the whole planet.
- Orwellian Retcon: "2 Fast"'s "Creepy Ending" originally finished with Elly and a female Joel popping up in Phil's bed as he wakes up, but was apparently deemed too creepynote and changed to Elly and female Joel puppets being controlled by Rya and regular Joel.
- Overly Long Gag: "Oh, emo foreverrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr..."
- "Let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's blow our brains out! *BANG*
- Planet of Hats: Lampshaded
Phil: "Isn't it great that each planet is named after its purpose? I sure think so!"
- Politically Incorrect Hero: Joel is an unabashed bigot.
- Previously On: Episode 58 and Episode 84. The former is a dramatized but true recap, while the latter is a parody referencing other cartoons such as Harvey Birdman and screwed-up versions of earlier episodes of the series.
- Put on a Bus: Jessica in episode 84.
- Reference Overdosed: Lampshaded a few times.
"Hey, we're not tossing out random references here, okay?! We're not Megas
! *beat* Gunbound
- Replaced the Theme Tune / Rearrange the Song: The show had 4 different theme tunes across its eras, as characters were added and new seasons started, and each theme was remixed slightly for special episodes.
- Ridiculously Human Robot: Rya. Possibly June as well.
- Sanity Slippage: Jessica goes from one of the most capable characters in season five to a mentally unhinged lunatic in season six.
- Screw Yourself: Joel once made Phil a girlfriend who was his female clone. Phil is greatly disturbed once he finds out.
- Shout-Out: Numerous. It would probably just be easier to list what WASN'T given a Shout-Out or Take That.
Joel: Well, I guess that about covers our unnecessary '80s references for this week.
- Show Within a Show: Occurs a few times. Episode 77 has Joel and Phil optioned by G4 to create their own cartoon for the network. The show is unfortunately ruined by Phil's endless inane suggestions, including several tropes.
- "Dad And Son" is a regular part of the Bonus Stage universe. It was introduced in episode 42 as Joel's TV series.
- In Episode 22, there's mention of Fatty Brigade, Babe Revue 2000, or strangely enough High Score (all only mentioned by name) being cancelled.
- There's also Baby Ballface (episode 82) and Rya's World (episode 53).
- Single-Biome Planet: Hydrox (Water Planet).
- Skyward Scream: In "Morbid", Joel performs a drawn-out Big "NO!" this way, and then after getting tricked by Satan into thinking getting sent to Hell was a dream, screams, in the exact same way, "You douchebag!"
- Snap Back: Quite a few times, always played and often lampshaded for comic value. Borders on Negative Continuity.
- Stalker with a Crush: Elly, with Joel being the object of her desires. Word of God has stated that Cassidy is even worse, though she has a thing for Phil rather than Joel.
- Phil arguably counts as well. He writes Fan Fiction pairing him up with her, for God's sake!
- Hell, half the characters count. It's kind of implied that Andrew was stalking Elly as well.
- Something Only They Would Say: How Joel finds out Evil was Elly in episode 50:
Joel: "No, our house! All my Spin Doctors albums were in there!"
Evil: "Jeez, they only cost, like, two bucks."
Joel: "I don't have two bucks."
Evil: "What? Even I have two bucks."
Joel: "'A-HA! I knew it! I knew it was you! I lent two bucks to someone the other day. I can't believe it's you. I'd better be right about this, I don't wanna be embarrassed."
- Straight Man: Phil (less so in later episodes).
- Take That:
- The final episode(ish) was a long series of jabs at the Ctrl+Alt+Del webtoon, among others.
- In one episode, Jessica says something was intentionally drawn badly, and Joel shows Jessica what it'd look like if he were trying to draw badly. The close-up of the paper shows Zortic.
- The Stinger: Several episodes, especially in seasons 2-5, had a quip by one of the characters after the credits. Some later episodes had entire segments after the credits.
- To Be Continued: Used three times in Episode 85 to highlight a triple cliffhanger: Evil invading other Webtoons, Phil accidentally time traveling to 1776, and Craig getting ready to go to the store.
- Unbuilt Trope: Episode 80 resembled an Abridged Series for Popeye, at least a year before the first episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series.
- Little Kuriboh has actually stated himself that he didn't start the abridged series idea, he just gave it a name.
- Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000: Baby Ballface. Phil's attempts to put a stop to its influence kick off the events of Episode 82.
- Uncancelled: Came very close. After Matt Wilson announced that he was ending Bonus Stage a season early due to financial troubles, a fan offered to pay him $15,000 to continue the series. Nothing ever came of it.
- The Unintelligible: Mr. Malice speaks in music(not lyrics, actual music) such as the Mega Man (Classic) boss intro theme, or the opening to Ludwig van Beethoven's 5th symphony. He is apparently captioned in-universe as well as for the audience, as Phil can't believe he once subtitled "teh funneh".
- Vague Age: Phil doesn't even seem to know his own age, as shown in Episode 64:
Joel: "Well, this little five-year-old girl over here threw out the lucky nickel. Phil. You...girl."
Phil: "That has nothing to do with anything! And I'm not five, I'm twenty-something. Or...fourteen. Or...fifty. I don't really know."
- Viewers Are Morons: In Episode 60, while Joel explains why they're not doing a Bonus Stage episode that week.
Joel: "Now, as you folks know, our show is created by the INTERNET! But what you may not know is that our show is also powered by COMPUTERS!
Joel: "Good idea. The show is also done IN FLASH."
- Vocal Evolution: And how. Joel and Phil's voices in particular go through some changes (they even switch voices in Episode 19), Rya goes from having a Synthetic Voice Actor to just having a robotic voice, Elly's voice changes to become more feminine-sounding (as Matt got an actual female voice actor instead of just using his own pitched-up voice), and Craig speaks slightly less droningly in his final appearance in Episode 89.
- Wacky Fratboy Hijinks: Episode 40, in which a fraternity (played by the cast of Waterman) moves into the house next door.
- With Friends Like These...: Joel and Phil, both show little care for the other in most dangerous situations (except for the occasional rescuing), and even when they're working together, they're constantly hurling insults at each other.
- World of Weirdness: Charismaville. Or rather, everything within Joel's simulated universe. Justified since, well, it's a simulation, so it's all intentional. Except when it isn't.
- Your Head A Splode: One of the more frequent causes of death in the series.