Western Animation: Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers
"In 2086, two peaceful aliens journeyed to Earth, seeking our help. In return, they gave us the plans for our first hyperdrive, allowing mankind to open the doors to the stars. We have assembled a team of unique individuals to protect Earth and our allies. Courageous pioneers committed to the highest ideals of justice and dedicated to preserving law and order across the new frontier. These are the Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers!"
Absentee Actor: Atypically for cartoons from The Eighties, there are several episodes in which one or more of the Rangers don't appear—and at least one ("Mothmoose") in which none of them appear. Sometimes used for dramatic tension, like in "Mistwalker" where a different Ranger's skills would have been better suited to the job, but the one(s) present need to get creative. Most of the time, this was deliberate.
Accidental Misnaming: Doc's Cybersteed, Voyager, is a Cloudcuckoolander who constantly calls him "Wilbur" instead of "Walter". This is a Shout-Out to the old 1960s sitcom, Mister Ed, in which the eponymous talking horse has a human owner he has conversations with named Wilbur.
Action Girl: Niko, and several of the other female characters as well.
Amplifier Artifact: The Series 5 implants don't give the Rangers their abilities; they just crank what they already have to insane levels. Likewise, star stones crank up the abilities of magic users like the Queen and Mogul.
Animation Bump: Mandell cleverly exploited this Trope. He had access to three TMS animation teams: the expensive and high-quality "A" team note Telecom Animation Film, which spent most of their time with Disney and on Little Nemo during this period, the "B" team that balanced price and quality note AIC of Tenchi Muyo! fame, under TMS's contract, and the "C" team that was cheapest at the expense of quality note Mizo Planning in Korea, as this and the DuckTales episode "Catch As Cash Can Part 3" were some of the first things that TMS shipped off to Korea under their contract. Mandell handed out the Drama Bombs and Myth Arc-critical episodes to the "A" team, the moderate quality episodes to the "B" team, and the episodes of questionable merit to the "C" team.
"Sundancer" has some of the best animation in the series, despite not focusing on the Rangers.
Animesque: Somewhat, as the show is done in Japan. Although some of the character designs are western (in both senses of the word).
Bittersweet Ending: The writers loved this one. About one in five episodes had the Rangers' "victory" as getting out with their shirts and souls intact...and not much else.
"Phoenix" - Zachary, Zozo, Waldo, and the Foxx children get away, but the Queen still has dozens of humans (including Eliza) hostage. Zach was injured so badly that over half his body had to be replaced with cyberware. And the League is now at war with an extremely nasty galactic tyrant.
"New Frontier" - Yay, most of the humans were freed! But Eliza's trapped. The episode ends with a Meaningful Funeral.
"Psychocrypt" - The harmonic factor allowing the Queen to Mind Rape Zachary and his wife on a nightly basis has been disabled. But Eliza's still trapped, and there seems to be little (if any) hope she'll ever be rescued, despite Zach's vow.
"Supertroopers" - the plot of the Supertrooper renegades to unleash a biological weapon has been thwarted, but most of them managed to escape. Whiner will get away with his continued crooked dealings, and Goose will always be considered a traitor by his fellow troopers and less than human by the Earth government.
"Galaxy Stranger" - Goose is in love with Darkstar, but she's in love with Stingray. He walks away and lets them go, but she can't understand why. It's also unknown if he would face any fallout on Earth over it.
"Renegade Rangers" - Yay, the Rangers got most of the Black Hole Gang and their stolen battleship. But Daisy O'Mega got away, and lost her chance to make a Heel-Face Turn.
"Magnificent Kiwi" - the Queen's been chased off, but the last remnants of the Gherkin people must abandon their homes and go into hiding again.
"Gift of Life"/"Sundancer" - Yay, the kid and his horse won the race! Yay, the kid keeps the horse. But the kid is also an orphan now, the kid's father was considered a traitor (and the charges may or may not have been true), and he will be heading for a planet he's never seen before and he's unable to return to where he used to call home.
Character Focus: Atypically for the era, the show made a habit of it. "Phoenix" centers on Zachary, and only introduces the other three Rangers with a single line of dialogue each at the end. "Galaxy Stranger" is a love letter to Clint Eastwood movies, focused exclusively on Shane. "Ariel" delves into Niko's background. The final episode, "Heartbeat", is a prolonged Awesome Moment for Doc.
Clear My Name: Shane has to do this after Ryker Kilbane impersonates him in "Mindnet".
Deflector Shields: The Kirwin planetary shield. Also, Niko sometimes whips up a small one with her Psychic Powers, and Waldo carries a personal forcefield projector.
Determined Homesteader: Very commonly encountered on the planets the Rangers went to. In "Fire and Iron," it's one of these who called the Rangers there to stop sabotage to the monorail (railroad). In "Galaxy Stranger," a Cattle Baron is trying to force them from their land. Recurring Character Annie O. stands for this Trope on the planet Ozark.
The episode "Psychocrypt" demonstrates the details. After having their soul torn out painfully, those tossed in the device are fully aware of what's happened, their Life Energy is used to make a construct the Queen (the person who put them there) can see and hear through, forced to do her bidding. Making it worse is that she is forced to serve her husband's Arch-Enemy, with everything she knows fashioned into a weapon against him. Oh, and then we get into the Queen cheerfully committing telepathic rape of both her and her husband on a nightly basis for at least a week and possibly longer...
It is generally avoided in context with agriculture, though. Gengineered cattle or crops are a fact of life, and the two times problems occur, they stem from unexpected interactions with the conditions on a planet other than the one the organism was developed on.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: The writing staff was extremely clever at giving just enough hints about some Back Story elements (such as mass genocide) to induce Fridge Horror. It also pulled a subtle, but striking hint that Shane... "took one for the team" to distract the lovely Daisy O'Mega in "Renegade Rangers." Go here for more examples.
Green Rocks: Starstones. They're even used in the Series Five devices.
Hack Your Enemy: Doc was capable of doing this with his tweakers, as seen in "Tower of Combat" where he reprogrammed The General's robot mooks into destroying each other with antics out of The Three Stooges. The fact he did not use it against the Queen's mooks was one of several hints they weren'tMecha-Mooks.
Shane's not the only one with a thing for redheads. Eliza was also auburn-haired.
More likely Niko is probably meant to be a brunette with the occasional red headed shading being a gaff - most of the advertising and promotional material portrays her as a brunette and in one episode when Niko, jealous over blonde Princess Maia flirting with Goose, asks him if he could ever really love a woman like that, Goose teases Niko by replying "I like brunettes."
Humans Are Warriors: The Andorians are mathematicians and scientists, Kiwi are more farmers than fighters. And while Kirwin defends itself with a planetary defense shield, Earth is shown to be armed to the teeth. Even with Loads and Loads of Characters, virtually all the military were humans.
Humans Are White: Doc and two one-shot villains seem to be the only non-white humans in the galaxy.
I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Shane couldn't admit his feelings for his fellow Supertrooper, Darkstar. Instead, she runs off with Jerkass Stingray and becomes a criminal while Shane is conscripted into the Rangers with orders to hunt them down. When he finds them, Darkstar makes it clear she's staying with Stingray. After defeating Stingray, Shane walks away from them both. Darkstar is unable to understand why.
Medium Blending: Robert Mandell was one of the first Western animators to invoke this, as early as 1983's Thunderbirds 2086, but went further with it in this series. The CGI is Justified, since it's used on computer screens and as the avatars of AI units.
Meaningful Funeral: Eliza being put in stasis at the end of "New Frontier". She's not dead, but the effect is the same.
The Andorians, who have no relation to the blue guys from Star Trek.
The Kiwis are neither a hairy-skinned fruit, a funny-looking bird, nor are they from New Zealand.
Megamind (the villain of "Ariel") is no relation to, well, Megamind.
Never Say "Die": Very averted. The very first episode shows us people getting cut down by G.I. Joe lasers, and Zachary is mercilessly gunned down and paralyzed. Characters fear for their lives and openly acknowledge corpses, and the early plot involves mashing humans down into Life Energy.
Non-Uniform Uniform: Each Ranger customizes their outfit in some way. At one point Goose even adopts an all-black outfit.
Obliviously Evil: A few of the "villains" turned out to be well-intentioned, but going about things in a destructive way without realizing it. Their Green Aesop episodes, more often than not, were running on this.
Off Model: See the Animation Bump entry for more information.
Outlaw Town: Blackwater asteroid. It was thought to be an Urban Legend by the law enforcement, but a delerious Cody Carson (a shady quasi-ally to the Rangers) proved it wasn't by all but kidnapping Doc and Niko and taking them there.
Plot Tailored to the Party: They loved this one. Most of the time, there were ways for the team to show off their skills; computers to hack, something to be scanned psychically, something to hit, and the captain to keep things coordinated. Of course, they subverted it just as often with their fondness for Absentee Actor, when the remaining crew would find the situation more complicated due to their fellow Ranger being out of the picture.
Power of Friendship: implied to be why the Mental Fusion tactic can be done, and played up in several episodes, especially "Mindnet" and "Psychocrypt."
The Power of Rock: The soundtrack, in all of its prog-rock glory, is one of the most memorable aspects. John van Tonregen and Peter Wetzler were behind it, and included singers Myles Hunter and Steve Overland. In-Universe, "Battle of the Bandits" used it.
Psychic Powers: Niko has them, as do most residents of Xanadu and the Mesa natives.
R-Rated Opening: "Phoenix" and "Gift of Life" - in the first, there's about two or three minutes of exposition before the Crown Destroyer lands on Kirwin and colonists are brutally gunned down. In the second, it's an action-packed opening as the Rangers fight off a criminal gang to arrest a rogue scientist, only to find that the woman inside the house is dead, the scientist is wounded and dying, and their child is nowhere to be seen.
Shout-Out: Too many to list, but here's a prominent one: Shane Gooseman is presumably named after the main character of Shane. Also, Walter "Doc" Hartford's talking (mechanical) horse calls him "Wilbur."
Training from Hell: Wolf Den. A bunch of Artificial HumanTykebombs, designed for the purpose of killing any aliens that come across Earth. Involved things like being shot at by giant mechas with live ammo, the Morally Ambiguous Doctorates using them as test subjects for experimental combat drugs, and one's "fellow" Troopers were more than happy to weed the "weak" from the ranks themselves. Oh, and they didn't much care about little things like "casualties." This was before Senator Whiner dosed the lot with Psycho Serum.
World of Snark: It was the 80's, almost every character got a zinger in at one point. However, Doc made an art form of it. At least three quarters of his lines are delivered in Sarcasm Mode, something that sadly didn't translate well in the German dub.