Western Animation: Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers aka: 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!"
This critically acclaimed 1986 series was the first of three animated Space Westerns to air in America during the late 1980s.To elaborate on the Opening Narration: The peaceful aliens represent several planets who are endangered by The Crown Empire, an interplanetary dictatorship headed by thetyrannical Queen of the Crown. Thanks to the hyperdrive, Earth begins to interact with alien worlds and colonize distant planets, which leads to a culture that resembles a futuristic version of The Wild West. Unfortunately, it also leads to danger from spacegoing outlaws, as well as The Crown Empire, which wants to enslave every race it encounters—especially the human race. The crimefighting organization BETA (the Bureau of Extra-Terrestrial Affairs) is formed to protect Earth from these threats. BETA's best-known agents are the Galaxy Rangers, four fearless "space cowboys" (well, one of them's a cowgirl) who each have different powers provided by Series Five brain implants. The Rangers are cyborg team leader Zachary Foxx, shapeshifting Cowboy CopShane Gooseman, psychicAction GirlNiko, and wisecrackingTechno WizardWalter "Doc" Hartford. More information about the Rangers, and their friends and enemies, is available at the character sheet.For a kid-oriented Animated Series from The Eighties that had a breakdancing robot in it, Galaxy Rangers has earned a surprising amount of respect from adult fans. The show was sophisticated for an American Animated Series of its time, and between the involvement of TMS Entertainment and the epic storylines, it had an Animesque feel that few of its competitors could match. Even now, it still has a solid fanbase.Series creator Robert Mandell also went on to do Princess Gwenevere And The Jewel Riders in the 90's.Not to be confused with Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, or with the original western name of Kyouryuu Sentai Zyuranger, which would become the original Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers have their own wiki here.Note to tropers: Please add all character-based tropes at the character sheet, not here.
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.
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 (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 (AIC of Tenchi Muyo! fame, under TMS's contract), and the "C" team that was cheapest at the expense of quality (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. 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.
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.
Master Computer: The Heart of Tarkon. Atypically for the trope, the device is benevolent; it runs the planet's defenses.
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.
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."
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.