Western Animation: American Dragon Jake Long

"He's cool, he's hot, like a frozen sun
He's young, he's fast, he's the Chosen One
People, we're not braggin'
He's the American Dragon!"
Opening theme song

American Dragon: Jake Long (2005-2007) was a Disney Channel cartoon about a young teenager growing up in a world full of weird goings-on.

OK, so that's almost all Disney Channel cartoons. More specifically, Jake Long is the "American Dragon", a cocky, brash youngster with the power to shapeshift into his reptilian alter-ego, serving as a sort of superhero for the magical creatures that live in secret (Harry-Potter-style) in the human world.

Each episode is usually focused on completing a task brought on by his supernatural responsibility, and the conflict it brings with his personal life at school. His grandfather, who also has dragon powers, serves as his mentor and teacher. The series makes extensive use of fantasy and folklore creatures the world over, often with subtle twists for comedy purposes.

The biggest running plot lines are Jake's budding crush/romance with a girl named Rose, and his battles with a shadowy villain named The Huntsman and his sidekick Thorn Huntsgirl, leaders of The Huntsclan.

Other recurring antagonists include Professor Rotwood, a German PhD who was discredited as a scientist for believing in the supernatural, and was forced to become a junior high school teacher (who, ironically, sees many of the supernatural events that happen around Jake) and Eli Excelsior Pandarus, a celebrity wizard and mystical equivalent to a Corrupt Corporate Executive, and Dark Dragon, reportedly the only of his kind to ever go bad.

The show's second season comes with a major overhaul of the design and style of the series, spearheaded by producer Steve Loter (also of Kim Possible). As of the end of season one, Rose now knows Jake's identity, but her real loyalty is still a matter of debate. As of the end of season two, Rose and Jake share a kiss and Jake's father finds out the family secret.

The series was canceled in fall 2007 after a run of 52 episodes. A similar premise exists in the Cartoon Network show The Life and Times of Juniper Lee.

This show contains examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel: Sphinx Hair for dragons. Usually, it is only used to force dragons back into their human forms, but the episode "Bite Father, Bite Son" suggests that Sphinx Hair is far more dangerous than that, and might even be fatal if dragons are exposed to it for too long. Justified by the fact that the Sphinx Hair used before was merely a thin net and nowhere near the amount used in the episode.
  • An Aesop: "The Doppleganger Gang" highlights the importance of time management.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Haley. However, she does get a bit of character development. By the end of the second season, she and Jake are on more understanding terms.
  • Anti-Hero:
    • While being a good guy, Jake is by no means perfect. He's arrogant, self-conscious, goofs off, skives off training, does poorly in school, abuses his power every once in a while, sometimes directly endangers his family and friends, and generally half the crap that happens to him is entirely self-inflicted. He's also a thirteen-year-old boy saddled with power, enormous responsibility and peril that would crush most people. Furthermore, he has few adult mentors (the dragon powers skipped his mom's generation)) and his line of duty costs him most of his social life, as well as his girlfriend (three times, actually).
    • He purposely sabotages himself to have his dragon chi removed for a week to enjoy his middle school graduation. His over-achieving sister is stuck with the burden and she starts falling at the seams. She defends her brother's choice when Lao Shi finds out by listing the difficulties of being the American Dragon before delving into the personal problems it caused Jake (namely not able to relate to his dad that much and losing Rose twice. All in all, he's handling this job hell of a lot better than could realistically be expected.
  • Art Evolution: A permanent redesign of the characters and style starting in season 2, reminiscent of The Proud Family. Most of the characters shifted heights (Chang whose human form was miniature like Grandpa in the first season and human height in the second). Appearances got altered, possibly with character personalities in mind (The Oracle Twins, Pandarus, etc).
  • As Himself: Monty Hall voices himself in two episodes. See The Cameo below.
  • Asian Airhead: Jasmine is Jake's Soul Sucking Stealing Date in "Dragon Breath"
  • Asian and Nerdy: Subverted. Despite being half Chinese, Jake is obsessed with hip hop culture.
  • Baby Talk: Rose mocks Jake in this way in "Ski Trip".
    Rose: Aww, is the big, bad blizzard wind too much for your wittle dwagon fire?
  • Back from the Dead: One episode focuses on The Huntsman trying to resurrect Huntsclan soldiers that have passed away with a magical beetle. When Jake makes it so that The Huntsman can't finish the spell, the hunters die once again. Done again with Jake's blood resurrecting The Dark Dragon.
  • Badass Normal: Rose. Pretty much the entire Huntsclan, really, but when a fourteen-year-old girl built like a drinking straw is fighting huge firebreathing dragons to a standstill know you don't want to get on her bad side.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: "Being Human". Sure, Jake is safe and Chang and Bananas B get trapped in a cave, but they still succeed in their goal of resurrecting The Dark Dragon.
  • Berserk Button: The Strigoi pushed Mr. Long's when they hurt Jake in "Bite Father, Bite Son".
  • Beware of the Nice Ones: Jake's father and the Tooth Fairy. The first, when he sees his son in danger, gave a run for their money to the Strigoi and pushed the Jersey's Devil off a cliff, the second, in Hong Kong Knights, killed the Dark Dragon for ruining her dress by throwing i-beams at him with a crane.
  • Bloodless Carnage:
    • Averted in "Being Human" with a cut to Jake's arm and the blood also later appearing dripping from a hook because it was needed as a plot device.
    • Played completely straight in the series finale when Rose slices off the tip of The Dark Dragon's tail with her Huntsclan staff.
  • Bragging Theme Tune: Which also happens to contain a Boastful Rap in both versions.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Done by Fu Dog throughout the Christmas Episode.
    Fu Dog: Hey there, kids. If you haven't guessed by now, this is the American Dragon Hokey Holiday Special. Like all holiday specials, it's about family, togetherness—blah, blah, blah and all that other sappy garbage. Alright, let's get on with the main titles before I hurl egg nog all over the snow right here.
  • Brick Joke: At the beginning of "Bring It On", Professor Rotwood was escorting students through the museum when he accidentally broke a statue. He quickly told the students they saw nothing. Neither him nor the incident have been mentioned again until the end credits, when he phoned his mother for bail money because he was arrested for it.
  • Broken Ace: As shown in "Hong Kong Nights", Lao Shi was as brash and cocky as Jake in his youth, but had the skills to back it up. After battling against the Dark Dragon (and narrowly winning), he became more serious and stoic.
  • Broken Aesop: In "Siren Says," Jake takes part in a bachelor auction, rigging the bids so that he ends up with the beautiful captain of the school swimming team, Danika Hunnicut. Trixie justifiably chews Jake out for his shallow behaviour, accusing him of only caring about looks. Over the next couple of days, Jake keeps falling into magical trances whenever he's around Danika, causing him to stumble into dangerous situations. Trixie suspects Danika of foul play, believing she is manipulating Jake for her own amusement. However, it is revealed Danika is innocent, and that the true culprit is a siren named Vicky Fickling, who was also bidding for Jake at the auction, who framed Danika by giving her the magical necklace that caused Jake's trances. Once the matter is settled, Jake and his friends discuss what kind of lesson they were meant to take away from the experience, with Jake pointing out that if he hadn't chosen Danika for purely superficial reasons, he would have wound up with an evil, mind-controlling siren rather than a genuinely nice and sweet girl.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The photo of Jake and Rose at the school dance from the episode "Dragon Breath". In the series finale, it restores Rose's memories of her relationship with Jake and her life in the Huntsclan.
  • The Chosen Many: Jake is one of many dragons from all around the world, giving a new meaning to "American Dragon".
  • Christmas Episode: Jake has to thwart the potential rampage of a bunch of sasquatches tear-assing through New York City, when one of their babies is stranded on the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Rose's twin sister appeared as a baby in a flashback and was completely forgotten about by the time Rose found her parents.
  • City of Adventure: Most episodes stick to New York, but there are field trips.
  • Cliff Hanger: Quite a few:
    • Body Guard Duty: "You should keep that in mind when you find out the dark, awful truth about Rose".
    • The Rotwood Files: Rotwood tricks Jake into revealing himself as a dragon and vows to expose him one day.
    • Being Human: Chang's spell works and The Dark Dragon comes Back from the Dead.
  • Clip Show: A montage of clips from the past season is used over the end credits of the final episode.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: A crazy dogcatcher once captured Fu and tried to turn him and many other dogs into a cure for her allergies. When she was about to put Fu into her machine, Fu revealed to her that he could talk out of desperation, hoping she would let him live in order to try and make money off him. But because she's crazy she doesn't care that he can talk and just carries on with her original plan.
  • Darker and Edgier: The second season is arguably darker than the first, complete with child abduction and onscreen genocide, although it is pulled off in a more "family friendly" way.
  • Did Not Die That Way: in the second season, Rose was convinced by the Huntsman that her parents had died when she was a baby, but in the episode "Dreamscape", it was revealed that she was actually taken from them by the Huntsclan.
  • Dinosaurs Are Dragons: Jake's magic-hunting teacher Mr..(I mean Prof.) Rotwood had the theory that dragons were evolutions of the dinosaurs. Being the American Dragon, Jake knew this was a bunch of hooey.
  • Disney Villain Death: Maximinus from the episode "Supernatural Tuesday", although his body is shown after the fall.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: While the Grim Reaper looks terrifying when you first see him, he is shown to be a talented prankster and a fairly caring guy.
  • Education Through Pyrotechnics: Jake and Spud blow up the Huntsclan Academy lab while trying to brew a potion of dragon slaying.
  • Epic Fail: Episode 1 shows a series of Description Cuts of Jake getting his butt kicked by magical creatures. The last group? Pixies.
  • Evil Is Hammy: The Dark Dragon reveals what a Large Ham he is in the series finale. It helps that his Voice Actor is Clancy Brown.
    The Dark Dragon: You have no idea of MY DARK POWERS!
  • Evil Laugh: The Huntsman, The Dark Dragon and Eli Pardarus all have one. Pandarus' and The Dark Dragon's laughs are both lampshaded by Spud.
  • Faking the Dead: How Jake escapes the Huntsclan Academy after he is captured.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Huntsclan's hatred for dragons and other magical creatures. Likewise, The Dark Dragon and Chang's hatred for humans.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: The Huntsclan use energy-shooting melee weapons that are designed to not look anything like real weapons. (This aspect is reduced in the season two overhaul)
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Although the show abides by the law known as Never Say "Die", that doesn't mean that a magical creature's animated guts raining down on Jake and Haley after bursting is family friendly.
  • Food Chain of Evil: While dragons aren't any more evil than a human being, the series does have the Stragori, vampires that only feed on dragon blood.
  • Foreshadowing: Rose, to Jake: "You can't save me."
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip:
    • A Magic Mirror does this to Jake and his little sister Haley, in "Switcheroo." An Aesop follows.
    • At the end of a Season 1 episode, when the Nix had been defeated, Jake thinks all sucked spirits returned to their respective bodies but it is revealed that Trixie and Spud end up in each other's bodies. It's unclear how they return to their respective bodies, if they remember it or if they were the only ones to face a body swap back then.
  • Frozen Face: In the vampire episode, Spud tries his best to make the son of a prominent restaurant critic laugh while working at his mother's restaurant, and is horrified when the kid literally doesn't bat an eyelash at his antics. He finds out the next day that the kid had just come from the dentist and his facial muscles were numbed up so he couldn't smile, but he told his dad (the critic) that he had had "the best day ever", which got Spud's restaurant a glowing review.
  • Genius Ditz:
    • Jake's friend Spud is something of a computer savant, even though he acts more like The Stoner skate rat than a classic nerd.
    • Although Spud has gone on record to say he invokes this trope. An example is when Jake asked him to ace a test for him, he stopped goofing off, took Jake's test, answered EVERY question right then went back to goofing.
  • Hermetic Magic: Most types, but mostly Fu Dog's alchemy and the dragons' inherent gifts.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: The Huntsclan always hunt something, but episode "The Hunted" puts Jake and four other creatures as the quarry in a traditional clan hunting ceremony.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Even though he's lost Rose, at the end of "Homecoming", Jake is willing to move on because he knows that Rose is safe and happy.
    Jake: You too, Rose. Happy Homecoming.
  • Inconvenient Itch: From the Christmas Episode.
    Jake: Stun ray. Can't move. Nose itches.
  • Infant Immortality: While played straight with 88 and 89, yeah...about all of those kids at the Huntsclan Academy...
  • Jive Turkey: Jake's street lingo gets pretty thick in the first season, though it's toned down in the second.
    • As a nice touch, it gets thickest just when he's about to screw up because of his own overconfidence. When he starts taking things seriously and gets things done, his dialogue tones down accordingly.
    • This is supposedly a reference to first or second generation Asian Americans embracing US culture. His alternative is to act like Grandpa.
    • It also gets a Lampshade Hanging in "Switcheroo" when Haley calls it "unbearable hip-hop slang from five years ago".
  • Kick Me Prank: "Family Business" had Fu Dog try to pull this trick on Marty, only for it to fail and for him to notice that he had a sign on his back that read, "Kick Me Harder"
  • A Lady on Each Arm: Jake needed a date and Fu took him to Magus Bazaar to look for one. Guess what Jake had in mind when Fu introduced him to Sara and Kara.
  • Last Minute Hookup: Jake and Rose. They were together in Season 2 for a little while before Jake's Grandpa told Rose to break up with Jake if she really cares about him. They get back together in the finale.
  • Left Hanging: While The Huntsclan and The Dark Dragon are permanently defeated, it is obvious that "Hong Kong Longs" was not a planned finale. The fate of Jake and Rose's relationship is left ambiguous, Chang was spared so she could make a comeback, Rose's twin was never seen (a plot point specifically mentioned to have been planned for Season 3), and for pretty much every question that was answered by the end of the final episode, a new question only rose to take its place.
  • Let's Get Dangerous: Jake tends to tone down his Jive Turkey tendencies when he buckles down to the day, but only rarely does he get pissed off enough to drop it altogether.
  • Little Miss Badass: Hayley, being that young, can already tap into her dragon powers.
  • Love Potion: Cupid's arrows in "The Love Cruise".
  • Love Triangle: Spud, Nigel and Stacey in "Furious Jealousy" and Jake, Rose and Danika in "Being Human" and "The Hong Kong Longs".
  • Magic Pants: When dragons change into their dragon forms, their clothes disappear and reappear when they change back to human form.
    Jonathan: I have another question. Just bugging me; when they turn into dragons, what happens to their clothes?
  • Meaningful Name: Long = Dragon in Chinese. (It's his Anglo father's side of the family. Sure, he once claimed to also be of Chinese descent but, his basis for such a claim are questionable not only for the fact he doesn't look Asian)
    • Fred Nerk, the Australian Dragon. "Fred Nerk" is a placeholder name used by Australians just like "John Doe" is used by Americans.
  • Military Brat: Trixie. Her father is an air force officer stationed in Greenland.
  • Mix-and-Match Critter: The Krylock, half-serpent and half-scorpion.
    • Also the chimera, with three heads from different creatures.
  • The Mole: Chang while spying on the dragons for the Dark Dragon and Rose while spying on the Huntsclan for the dragons.
  • Multiple Head Case: The two-headed girl from "Something's Fishy this way Comes."
  • Never Say "Die": The Huntsclan is "destroyed" by a magic wish, with all members inexplicably rising into the air and disappearing.
    • Except for 88 and 89, who quit just in time to save themselves.
  • Noodle Incident: In "Jake Takes the Cake", the bride and actress Jasma Sancere mentions she was once kidnapped by Amazons.
  • Not Brainwashed: Stacy appears to be under the influence of a love spell, but it turns out that there was no spell and she actually likes Spud.
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: When Spud first saw a holographic image of a krylock, he tried to invoke the trope for them but, once the image tried to sting him, Spud said there were really evil.
  • Not So Different: It's revealed in the first season episode that Lao Chi was much like his grandson back in his younger years...this changes when he has an encounter with the Dark Dragon.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: 88 and 89 are smart enough to grow suspicious of Rose when she practically gives one of the skulls to Jake.
  • Prophecy Twist:
    • Two (actually more if you bother to keep count) prophecies are twisted in "Body Guard Duty". The first one stated Trixie and Spud will "tie the knot", much to Trixie's horror. The second is that Jake will be hit by a boulder and it doesn't help that the prophecy specifies how fast the boulder would be. At Ogre Bowl, an ogre throws a boulder that hits Jake at the specified speed, thus fulfilling the prophecy. However, Jake is flying at a slightly slower speed and it doesn't hurt him. At the end of the episode, Spud's shoe is untied and Trixie ties it, meaning the prediction about them tying the knot wasn't about marriage.
    • In a smaller scale, it is predicted to a nerd somebody will take the last pudding at the cafeteria from him (which doesn't surprise him). It is Jake who does it to offer the pudding to Rose. Also, it is predicted chocolate would be spilled at Spud's milk. Trying to defy the prophecy, he takes his milk outside the school, but a truckload of chocolate crashes nearby, spilling some of its contents into Spud's milk.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Chang and Jake's grandpa used to be an item, based on a horrifying photo of them from the age of disco.
  • Pungeon Master: Fu Dog is so fond of puns that in episodes like "The Egg" and "Dragon Summit", this is more or less all he does.
  • Swapped Roles: In "Being Human" Haley temporarily takes Jake's place as the American Dragon and finds out how stressful it is.
  • Taking You with Me: The Dark Dragon tries to do this to Jake and Rose in "The Hong Kong Longs" as he's being sucked into a magical portal.
  • Talking Animal: Fu Dog, a 600 year-old Shar Pei with a Jersey accent.
    • Also, Yan Yan, a one-shot villainess and Fu personal nemesis.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Using pink for Haley's dragon form.
  • The Power of Love: Jake and Rose. Jake wished that Rose was never taken by the Huntsclan, but then she remembers everything when she sees the photo of her and Jake from a dance. The reason is The Power of Love.
  • Toilet Humor: Prominence of fart jokes in the pilot. What most of complainers don't know is that Disney mandated them because of a spectacularly bad test episode (that wasn't even written by the series writers) which only drew laughs from said fart joke.
  • Wham Episode: "Dreamscape". Who would have thought that The Huntsman kidnapped Rose at birth?
  • Wainscot Society: The mythical creatures live among humans in separate societies, with occasional intermingling.
  • Wok Fu: In one episode, Jake and Haley in dragon form fight against a trio of demons released on Chinese New Year. One of the places they fight the demons is in a Chinese restaurant, albeit for only a few seconds.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: Rose's Secret Identity's name change from Thorn to Huntsgirl.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: After using the Aztec Guardian Serpent to track down Jake and one of the missing Aztec Skulls, The Huntsman kills it, telling its steaming body that its job is done.
  • Your Costume Needs Work: In "Halloween Bash". Also with Jake's photos of himself in "Professor Rotwood's Thesis".