An action cartoon franchise from America; this entry covers the first series.Ben 10 revolves around the adventures of Ben Tennyson, a 10-year-old boy. While on summer vacation with his grandpa Max and cousin Gwen, he comes into the possession of a mysterious alien device - the Omnitrix - that allows him to change into a multitude of alien heroes. At first, there are only 10 aliens (hence the name "Ben 10"), but more forms were eventually discovered.Why isn't the device in more capable hands? Well, once it attached to Ben, it was stuck there. It won't come off.There's more to this show than meets the eye, however. For example, while this and most other American cartoons either Never Say "Die" or push the Thou Shalt Not KillAesop, "people" in this show get killed with reckless abandon with hardly anyone batting an eye. The show's also infamous for the Kissing Cousins vibe between Ben and Gwen. Plus, it has plenty of Nightmare Fuel.Currently, the Ben 10 franchise has four separate series: the original show, the Time Skipped sequel Ben 10: Alien Force, the sequel to Alien Force,Ben 10: Ultimate Alien and the sequel to Ultimate Alien, Ben 10: Omniverse. The foursome who created the original series, known as Man of Action, went on to create Generator Rex, and later work on Ultimate Spider-Man.Movie-wise, this (the original series) has three based on it. A Live-Action AdaptationBen 10: Race Against Time (Notable for starring Lee Majors as Grandpa Max), a regularly animated hour long flick Ben 10 Secret Of The Omnitrix, and an all CGI film called Ben 10: Destroy All Aliens.Not to be confused with the Bren Ten.
This show provides examples of:
Abusive Parents: Kevin's, who apparently threw him onto the street. Later Kevin himself, using his son Devlin to get his revenge on Ben.
It's hinted that it's not the case with Kevin: he either ran away on his own and was thus lying, or his parents threw him out for being freaking nuts and not because of his powers, but in Kevin's mind, his "freakish" powers were the reason.
All Myths Are True: On average, for every five or six that can be attributed to aliens, there's one that can't.
All There in the Manual: Pop-up commentary by the creators during a Ben 10 marathon revealed a lot of facts that aren't stated in the show, most notably an extensive backstory for Ghostfreak and even a true name for him: Zs'Skayr. They also spoke about certain characters that would appear in later series, like SevenSeven, older brother of SixSix.
Armor-Piercing Slap: Gwen smacks Ben-as-Four Arms on the arm after he accidently wrecks a town fooling around with a giant ball of rubber bands. Given Four Arms' size and strength, it's surprising that a ten year old girl could hurt him.
Artifact Title: From the moment Ben discovered the eleventh alien in the Omnitrix.
Artistic License - Biology: In an episode, some cows and a human were turned into mutant monstrosities due to exposure to an alien mutagen. Fortunately they were 'only briefly exposed', so the mutation reversed itself by the end of the episode!
Ben himself in the episode "Gwen 10" where Ben loses his powers, Ben still proves to be pretty badass, even using Grandpa Max's BFG with no problem.
In "Grudge Match", Ben manages to defeat an alien robot even after his Omnitrix times out. Admittedly, he already weakened it as Diamondhead, but it was still more than capable of killing him.
Be Careful What You Wish For: The beginning of an episode has Ben easily thwart a robbery. At the end of the preview, he outright states if there's anyone who can give him a challenge. Just so happens, it was the Negative 10 episode.
Berserk Button: Let's just say that if you ever hurt anyone Ben cares about, you're going to regret it. A LOT.
In the Ghostfreak two-parter, tries to do an Aesop about teamwork. Unfortunately, this fails when The Hero is armed with one of the most powerful artifacts in the universe; try as they might, Gwen and Max reallydon't compare. It's like Tien and Yamcha trying to teach teamwork to Super Saiyan Goku. Also, at the beginning of Part 2 ("Be Afraid of The Dark"), Gwen tells Ben "We don't need your help". Frankly, the story makes it seem like she's jealous of the Omnitrix, and having sidekick issues. Max has a lesser case, but, not being ten, he knows when to shut up and get on with things. At the end of the second episode, Ben ends up learning his aesop about teamwork after... he uses his Omnitrix to save Gwen and Max's asses as they plummet from space to Earth.
She is also guilty of a Broken Aesop in the opposite direction. The first season episode "Lucky Girl" revolves around her becoming a superhero based on a magical charm she finds. After losing it and finding out that the Big Bad of the episode possesses many similar charms to augment his magical power, she opts to destroy them rather than use them herself, justifying it as a decision to "just be me". Unfortunately, this Aesop is broken for two reasons. First, her stance on not relying on such power tends to be overshadowed when her cousin keeps using that Omnitrix thingy, especially since she benefits from it as much as everyone else. Second, what does she do in later episodes? She readopts the persona briefly after finding an even better charm. Then she learns that she is capable of using magic, and (with a few tools stolen from one villain) starts regularly using it herself. In fact, in the future-based episodes, she carries and uses the exact same charms that she destroyed in that first episode! It seems those powers are just too cool to pass up after all.
There's a shocking number of comic book characters in "Ready to Rumble" getting the treatment: Wolverine, Cyclops, Wonder Man, Killer Croc, even a gang boss based somewhat on Kingpin. The clincher? Wolverine and Killer Croc were adopted by Aunt May.
Fourarms actually switches to Goro's wardrobe later in Ultimate Alien.
Catch Phrase: "Goin' hero!" and variations, when Ben uses the Omnitrix; and "Oh, man!" when he does something stupid or realizes he did something stupid (the latter of which would carry over to his teenageyears).
Cerebus Syndrome: While the series never loses its humor side, it gets a lot more serious and dramatic in the second half. Last chapters? Fighting the Knight of Cerebus. First chapters? Fighting Mega-Whatts, a bugman, and a doctor who has a device that basically destroys any laws of biology through use.
Cute Monster Girl: In "My Big Fat Alien Wedding" the majority of the shapeshifting aliens are very ugly non-humanoid sludge monsters in their true form. The non-evil one (who's marrying a human) oddly looks like a fairly attractive purple-skinned woman in her true form. Despite being the daughter of the episode's villains.
Description Cut: Vilgax, in the first episode, prattles on about how no one in the universe can stop him. Then the scene cuts to Ben, in school, throwing a paper airplane at his teacher before the bell rings.
Also, JT and Cash seem to resemble Toji Suzuhara and Kensuke Aida from Neon Genesis Evangelion
Face Fault: Look hard enough, Gwen in Charmcaster's body in "A Change Of Face" has these.
Family-Unfriendly Death: Kevin 11 killing sentient robot Slix Vigma by impaling him on his Diamondhead arm, and almost give the same fate to Ben. Another example includes villain Ghostfreak, who was burnt to ashes. Twice.
Flanderization: Early on, the Omnittrix is fairly reliable, only transforming Ben into the wrong alien once every few episodes, and Ben is justifiably surprised when it happens. Fast forward to the Season 3 finale, and out of the four times Ben transformed in the first part, he only got the alien he wanted once, and he's reduced to frantically begging the Omnitrix to please cooperate with him this time...
Justified in that he totaled the controls a few episodes back to keep it from falling into the wrong hands.
Family-Friendly Firearms: Sometimes justified by the sci-fi setting, but really...where are ordinary gang members, mall cops, and other assorted armed Muggles getting their sci-fi firearms?
Foreshadowing: There are many hints that Max wasn't just a normal Plumber, such as knowing that Heatblast is not a monster but an alien, and mentions of Vilgax making him tense.
Hijacked by Ganon: Season 3 introduced in one episode an werewolf-like alien who was seemingly killed at the end of his episode, but was revealed to have built a machine as a Sequel Hook. A mummy-like alien is then introduced in a later episode. Both come back and are revealed to work for a new villain named Dr Vicktor in the first part of the season finale...and then it turns out Dr Vicktor himself was The Dragon to Ghostfreak/Zs'kayr, a villain who had been introduced in a previous season 2 episode.
Hurricane of Puns: Witty one-liners make up a good 75% of dialog, mainly when Ben is in alien form.
Hypocritical Humor: A bit of it in "Gwen 10", where Ben keeps telling off Gwen for doing things he knows perfectly well he did in the past.
I Am Not Left-Handed: A couple of occasions, but possibly the most awesome is in "Grudge Match", where Kevin 11 has Ben trapped, and boasts that he can handle any of Ben's 10 aliens, since he IS all those aliens combined. Ben then reveals that he's unlocked a new form since Kevin last saw him: Cannon Bolt. Kevin gets hammered.
A similar, if more subtle version comes from "Ben 10,000", when Vilgax makes the same boast about all TEN THOUSAND of Future Ben's aliens, except that Future Ben has one form Vilgax overlooked: human.
I Never Said It Was Poison: Max inadvertantly reveals that he wasn't a normal plumber when he tells Ben he doesn't want him fighting Vilgax - unfortunately, he mentions Vilgax's name before Ben tells him what it is.
Kid Hero All Grown Up: Every iteration of the series has featured at least an adventure with Ben meeting himself as an adult, usually going by "Ben Ten Thousand". Gwen as an adult is usually featured in such stories.
Fight Fire With Fire: Present in the very first episode, Ben accidentally starts a fire, Grandpa Max tells Ben that in order to stop it, he should start another one.
Knight of Cerebus: The series, at it's heart, is about a kid who does heroics and stupid things with his Omnitrix, but when Vilgax, Kevin and Zs'Skayr appear, the episode's gonna take itself fairly seriously.
Lamarck Was Right: Averted in "Ken 10"; Kenny needs his own Omnitrix to get his own powers.
Laughably Evil: Many secondary villains such as Dr. Animo, Charmcaster, or the Circus Freaks are this, contrasting to the more serious Big Bads.
Magic Misfire: Gwen, too. She even figured out how to use the misfire to her advantage. Sort of.
Magic Pants: ANYTHING that Ben was wearing before he goes alien - no matter how badly it was ripped during the transformation sequence - will be back, in perfect condition, when the Omnitrix runs out of juice.
The Man Behind the Curtain: In Secret of the Omnitrix Ben and company confront the creator of the Omnitrix, a giant alien with a booming voice. It turns out to be a biosuit. Azmuth is tiny.
Man Hug: When Max runs into his old plumber buddy Phil, the two greet each other with a hug.
Monster of the Week: The show lives on this. Considering the strange and varied varieties of trouble that tend to occur wherever Ben goes, one feels sorry for this kid's hometown if summer vacation ends.
Sometimes inverted in a few seasons, where the Monster Of The Week wasn't just what Ben faced, but what he became.
Mook Horror Show: Ben sometimes invokes this on criminals. This includes one time when he was fighting two robbers as Ripjaws. However, the most noteable time is when he literally scares Zombozo to death as Ghostfreak.
Motive Decay: In his debut appearance, Dr Animo wanted to get a price that was taken from him; all his next appearances in both the original series and the sequels has him either wanting to conquer or mutate the world.
There's also the live action movie Race Against Time. Now if only the guy who directed Men In Black directed this movie and Tommy Lee Jones played Grandpa Max, the movie would've been a thousand times cooler.
Multiform Balance: Theoretically, each of Ben's alien forms have powers applicable to specific situations. In practice, due to Ben's lack of tactical thinking and the Omnitrix's tendency to be uncooperative, whether an alien will be used in the appropriate role is never certain.
Negative Continuity: Later in the series, almost all the time, ranging from changes in height to more plot related problems (Stinkfly's sudden inability to swim in They Lurk Below, the event noted in the Ben 10 entry in "Freaky Friday" Flip, etc.)
The Night That Never Ends: Ghostfreak (to whom sunlight is fatal) tries covering the sunlit side of the earth with a shell of radioactive material in "Be Afraid of the Dark", so he can rule it as his domain. (The fact that this will mutate the entire population of the Earth is an unfortunate side effect to him.)
No Ontological Inertia: The episode "The Big Tick" features an Eldritch Abomination which completely ravages its surroundings for several hundred meters around. After it's destroyed, the local area returns to its former state immediately, despite there being nothing to suggest that the destruction was illusory! For some reason, the characters find this to be perfectly acceptable.
No Sense of Humor: Adult Ben, as seen in the episode "Ben 10,000". He gets better in the end and continuing into "Ken 10".
Oblivious Mockery: Early in the What If? episode "Gwen 10", Gwen gets the Omnitrix stuck on her wrist and turns into Heatblast. Ben, who remembers going through this before, warns her about the danger of using fiery powers in the middle of a forest. She immediately responds that only an idiot would set the forest on fire. Naturally, that's exactly what Ben did in the first episode.
Off Model: At the end of "Side Effects" Ben has Gwen's eyelashes.
Retroactive Precognition: Ben has this in "Gwen 10" when he gets mysteriously transported to the past, and remembers everything that happened over the past several months, but nobody else does. Gripping the Idiot Ball, it takes Max a while to believe Ben, despite the fact that Ben now knows about Vilgax, who only Max has met, and the Omnitrix, which is unknown to most people on Earth.
It seemed less like disbelief and more like denial.
Unfortunately for Ben, things have changed enough that his knowledge of future events is limited in its usefulness.
Not to mention the fact that, when the Big Bad finally absorbs this ultra-powerful energy source into his Powered Armor, the most he can think to do with it is use it to shoot rather mediocre eyebeams.
And in Ben 10,000, to unlock ten thousand alien forms in thirty years would require an average of one new alien form every single day for the entire time, though that would leave a bit of extra time.
Or once you unlock master control, a few thousand aliens come with it. Let's go with that.
Vilgax, tends to be put in a can of whatever sort between appearances, be it a healing chamber, a block of ice, or a pocket dimension. He's slightly unusual in that we see him out of the can first.
And in the same show, Ghostfreak/Zs'Skayr is an odd example of evil that got sealed in a can accidentally, his DNA sampled for the show's Clingy MacGuffin so that the wearer can turn into him, and the personalities of his species being encoded in their genes somehow. Eventually, he gets loose and becomes Ben's Enemy Without.
Self Guarding Phlebotinum: The Omnitrix generates a small field around itself when someone who is not the person who it is currently attached to tries to touch it. However, it should noted that the Omnitrix is neither Empathic nor Loyal and only tries to protect itself; in fact, one way you can obtain it is to kill the current user and then take it for yourself.
Silver Age: The show looks almost like a love letter to the Silver Age.
Snap Back: Ben never seems to learn from the Aesop in any episode and at the start of the next episode continues behaving like an idiot bent on doing things his way no matter what, despite his level of intelligence and understanding to the contrary.
This is actually lampshaded at the end of the CGI "Destroy All Aliens" film.
Tastes Like Friendship: Subverted. Feeding theobromine compounds to an extra-terrestrial may not be the best idea...
The Group: The Forever Knights' cover name is The Organization.
Theme Naming: Ben Tennyson is ten years old. Kevin E. Levin is eleven.
Ben gives his alien forms extremely marketable names based on their appearance or powers.
This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: In "The Big Tick", the episode where Ben first unlocks Cannonbolt, he initially hates the alien form for being unwieldy and uncontrollable, and refuses to use it again. Guess which alien turns out to be the only one capable of defeating the Eldritch Abomination threatening the Earth that episode?
XLR8 is exactly as fast as the plot calls for, and no faster. Sometimes it's literally too fast to see, most of the time not so much. Thus, aliens with nowhere near its speed can still hit it.
The Omnitrix's "ten minute" time limit is usually quite a bit shorter than that, to ensure that Ben can't beat the Monster of the Week too quickly.
From the moment when the Omnitrix starts beeping and flashing red, there is variable time until the moment Ben returns to his human form - sometimes it is almost instant, and sometimes... it takes a while.
Tree Cover: In "The Visitor", Ben eavesdrops on Max and Xylene by turning into Wildvine and merging with the tree.
The third time Kevin shows up (despite apparently being killed previously), his explanation of how he survived boils down to this, as well as a recap of what happened last time. He doesn't actually use the phrase, but it's implied.
At the end of Tough Luck, both Hex and Charmcaster's powers were sucked by the destruction of the Charm of Bezel. Yet, when we see them come back, they’re powers have come back without any clear explanation. Averted with Hex turning back into a child however, as it's specifically said that the Fountain of Youth's effect were temporary. Played straight in that we never see how Charmcaster retrieved her magic bag after the end of A Change of Face, though it's shown to have a level of sentience so it probably made its way back to her on its own.
Vengeful Vending Machine: In a short episode, Ben tries to get a candy bar from a vending machine, only for it to fall against the glass. Ever the Determinator, Ben decides to go Grey Matter to get the candy bar. The only problem is when the Omnitrix times out, leaving Ben's ENTIREBODY trapped in the machine.
Would Hurt a Child: Subverted in the sense that whenever Ben transforms and does battle, he gets beat up pretty graphically, which would look unsettling if it was happening in his human form. Played straight when he reverts back to Ben and his enemies don't hesitate to take advantage of his vulnerability.
Wrench Wench: Road Crew member Turbine is a villainous version.
You Must Be This Tall To Ride: In the episode "A Small Problem", Ben is told he's too short to go down a water slide, which he immediately decides to rectify by turning into Ripjaws. Maybe it's for the best that he ended up as the less-noticeable Grey Matter instead.