Western Animation: Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot aka: The Big Guy And Rusty The Boy Robot
The Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot (1999-2000) was an animated television series, based on the The Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot comic. The Big Guy was the old warhorse robot superhero who was to be replaced by an all-American Rusty; however, Rusty's inexperience forced the Big Guy back out of retirement to serve as Rusty's mentor and partner. Complicating matters was the fact that the Big Guy, Rusty's hero and role model... wasn't actually a robot. Unable to develop a working AI in time, the government secretly converted it into a Powered Armor, piloted by Lieutenant Dwayne Hunter, who poses as the Big Guy's mechanic to the outside world. The secret has to be kept from Rusty, as well, for fear of what the shock might do to his mind.You can watch all of the episodes now, on Youtube. Unless you're in the USA, ironically.
Tropes in this work.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: For the most part if the robot doesn't have an emotion grid like Rusty they turn out to be evil. And even when they do, there's a pretty good chance they're less than stable, as with Number Six.
Big Guy started out this way. Apparently his AI software was never completed to satisfaction, but the hardware it ran on was left intact. This becomes a problem on occasion.
American Robot: Big Guy wears this on his sleeve, despite having an almost completely white paint job. It's not clear whether Lt. Hunter's plays up the Eagle Land aspect on his own or under orders, but the trope comes out in Big Guy's speech as well.
Same with Rusty, who has the Red and White going for him. Doesn't quite have the speech down pat yet, though.
Animation Bump: "The Lower Depths" possesses much higher quality animation than most of the other episodes.
Ascended Fanboy: Rusty, surprisingly enough. Yes, the boy robot is a huge fan of the Big Guy, and overjoyed to be working with him. Even though he was designed as a replacement.
Become a Real Boy: Averted. Rusty doesn't want to become human. When a chance encounter with alien technology starts turning him into a living being, he's very excited by the new sensations, but as the change progresses, very quickly decides it's not a good trade and gets himself switched back.
Considering his tagline is 'no pain receptors'...you can see why.
Body Swap: Rusty and Number Four do this towards the end of "The Bicameral Mind". They avert How Do I Shot Web? as soon as they recover and keep their voicesnote Justified by the previous episode, which shows that Rusty and the Legion members are software occupying hardware, but Rusty recovers first and uses his knowledge of himself to quickly disable his original body.
Bowel Breaking Bricks: The Big Guy, at the opening of one episode, terrifies a villain in an less impressive suit of Power Armor into ejecting and surrendering in fear (unlike the Big Guy's this fool's armor didn't have anything to cover the pilot). Naturally, ejection occurs out of the back end of the mech.
Brain Food: Dr. Neugog and later Pierre after accidentally using the same device that turned Dr. Neugog into a monster.
Brand X / No Celebrities Were Harmed: Averted with references to such celebrities as Jerry Seinfeld and product such as a Sony Playstation being blatantly mentioned (probably because the show was produced by Sony's Australia-based animation division, and they distribute Seinfeld for syndication).
In another episode, where Ericka had to pilot the Big Guy, the catchphrase changed to "For the love of Mary...".
Don't forget Rusty's 'no pain receptors'
Rusty actually has several: "Comin' at ya!", "Sure as shootin'", "Blast-off!", "The Big Guy signal!" and "Ready and rarin' to go!"
Due to Rusty being shown as unable to stop himself from uttering those phrases, it may be supposed they're firmware coded, much like the boot chime of a laptop. Wherever Rusty is going to attack, fly away, aknowledge Big Guy's call or simply get himself reading for action, he notifies Dr. Slate.
Clothes Make the Superman: Despite being just a Mini-Mecha, the world believes Big Guy to be an actual sentient super robot, because its creators didn't want to admit failing to produce a real artificial intelligence. For good reason too, due to the expense of the Big Guy project it's failure would have led to massive public outcry.
Combining Mecha: Rusty and Big Guy, being made by the same company, apparently use similar/standard connection points and can share parts with some adjustment. Rusty can use Big Guy's weapons by grafting them on (the Mag Popper comes to mind), and more to the spirit of the trope, Big Guy attaches Rusty onto his arm to aim for him in the first episode.
Convection Schmonvection: When a volcano erupts from under New Tronic City, there is a noticeable lack of people and buildings bursting into flame over the lava.
Continuity Nod: In episode 7 Rusty is traveling through the internet and visits his favorite Online Game 'Magitek Warriors' in attempt to escape Number 4 of the Legion Ex Machina. Episode 8 shows Rusty playing the same game before being called to a mission with Big Guy.
Flawed Prototype: EP-327, aka Earl to Rusty, bordering over the Psycho Prototype trope. While Earl is not strictly evil, his underdeveloped Emotional Grid makes him little more than a toy soldier. While Earl is fully compliant to every order issued by a recognized autority figure, he snarls and snaps towards whoever isn't, including his teammates Rusty and Big Guy, he follows unflinchingly every order in the most literal way and freezes and stutters while faced with tasks beyond his understanding. A casual instruction to go wait in the corner (while in a round room with no corners) is enough to Logic Bomb him.
Four-Star Badass: Lieutenant Dwayne Hunter definitely counts, even when he's not piloting Big Guy.
Gadgeteer Genius: Rusty, briefly, in "The Bicameral Mind". Turns out his nucleo-protonic blasters work pretty well as arc welders too.
Giant Spider: Dr. Neugog gets turned into one, with the added bonus of still having a human face, and the ability to suck out people's brains.
Grey Goo: The focus of one episode. However, instead of eating everything, they're out to improve everything... While this works pretty well at first, they do so at the expense of operational lifespan, so everything improved that way hits their end-of-life malfunctions within hours. The old phrase "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" comes into play...
Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Rusty is an astonishingly terrible shot, unless he takes a second to aim, often with both hands and one eye closed. This can be confirmed in the opening sequence where his shots, while clearly quite powerful, don't hit unless he aims. The first episode even has Big Guy attach Rusty to his own arm, just to make the shot. Thankfully, as time passes, his aim improves to the point where it's not a liability.
Given that Number Four was taking very careful aim at close range (during his and Rusty's Body Swap), it might be a problem innate to the weaponry or Rusty's body.
When Rusty orders to the defective Earl to "help him fighting", Earl grabs him and points his lasers towards their enemies, claiming that he was "Helping by compensating for your inferior targeting". Thus, Rusty may be lacking in hardware or firmware.
Oh, one last thing: before Po leaves, he will destroy your planet. Just for laughs.
Irony: Gryffin left the BGY-11 project because he didn't approve the idea of Big Guy being an artificial intelligence instead of a Powered Armor. Because he left, he didn't learn they failed to develop a working intelligence for Big Guy and made it a Powered Armor to hide the truth. Griffin eventually created his own Powered Armor to compete against Big Guy and his defeat made him change his beliefs. Is there any troper not wishing he knew the truth just so they could see his reaction?
Berated for a whole mission because everyone thought his childish emotions could hamper the efforts of the military, in the end Rusty is proven right. When Big Guy apologizes to him, Rusty calmly forgives him, stating that he couldn't understand what's like having human emotions, because his AI was meant to be just too archaic to have a functional emotional grid, but he still admires him.
Mini-Mecha: The dirty little secret of the BGY Committee is that the Big Guy is really just a piloted suit instead of a full AI-driven robot because they simply couldn't get the original AI to work after it's designer went missing.
Rusty may actually have more firepower than the Big Guy. While the Big Guy relies on an assortment of missiles and machine guns Rusty uses what looks like nuclear powered plasma bolts that seem to do more damage (when he hits the target).
This was actually brought up in one episode. Rusty's built in weapons are significantly more powerful than anything Big Guy is armed with, but which is more intimidating: a child robot pointing his finger at you, or a thirty foot tall metal superman unfolding his arm into dual chainguns?
When Big Guy's Evil Twin is introduced, it's revealed that in order to make room for the pilot, a giant cannon the size of Big Guy's torso had to be removed!
Motherly Scientist: Dr. Erika Slate, Rusty's creator, treats the boy robot as her own son throughout the series. This is lampshaded more than once.
My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: According to an evil AI Lt. Dwayne Hunter and Dr. Erika Slate have to fight, wherever Erika is close to Dwayne or merely speaks of him her body temperature rises slightly, a thing the AI claims may be the byproduct of a crush, or a secret plot of the two of them against the AI itself. Actually, it's both.
Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Semi-averted. Dr. Slate may be productive inventor, but she is strictly and explicitly a roboticist and computer scientist, though she seems to brush against other disciplines at times, as well. Played straight in that she seems to do most of her inventing single-handedly, even though a creation like (for example) Rusty would require knowledge of everything from software programming to human psychology to nuclear physics to construct.
The Paralyzer: A biological-only one gets used on Big Guy, and succeeds in paralyzing Lt. Hunter, forcing Rusty to deal with the Legion robot on his own. (Luckily it wears off fairly quickly, and they're able to pass it off as a core shutdown to Rusty.)
Pintsized Powerhouse: Rusty is actually more powerful than the Big Guy; he just doesn't yet have the skill and training he needs to be effective, and gradually improves over the course of the show.
Psycho Prototype: Rusty's older brother Earl, due to an incomplete, unstable AI.
Race Lift: The entire Quark Industries. While in the original comic book series Rusty is at first a Japanese-based Astro Boy expy, in the series Rusty becomes a fully American creation, meant to be the dynamic, more advanced next-generation of robotics. As such, the generic, japanese background scientist with a talking monkey in the background became Dr. Axel Donovan, the corrupt, greedy and cowardly president of Quark Industries (and a thinly disguised metaphor of the sterotypical "capitalist dude"), and the whole Q-Industries became an American megacorporation.
Rocket Ride: Rusty pulls one off in "The Inside Out", trying to protect an immobilized Big Guy from a missile. Amazingly, he's able to redirect it back at the Legion robot that fired it, destroying it in one hit.
Screwed by the Network: One of the victims of Fox Kids' "Digi Wars", where they tried to beat Pokemon in the ratings by dumping every other show, including this one, for airings of Digimon and Monster Rancher.
Telescoping Robot: You could maybe, maybe realistically fit all the weapons that come out of Big Guy in there, but not if you still want to have space for working motors and such. Or maybe more than a couple of rounds of ammunition.
This is lampshaded (Kinda) by a Legion Ex Machina version of Big Guy, who, after learning the big secret, notes that the inclusion of a cockpit means the Big Guy doesn't have a Wave Motion Gun built in the chest...like he does.
Timeline-Altering MacGuffin: When BGY-11 was accidentally sent to the past, it was found by English soldiers who learned how to control it. They renamed it "Iron Jack" and used it to stop The American Revolution. Because nobody knew everything needed for its maintenance, it eventually blew up but the damage was done. As a result of this, nobody developed BGY-11 or anything else that could have stopped the alien invasion BGY-11 did at the beginning of the series in the original timeline. Dwayne Hunter and Rusty then had to travel back in time to recover it and set history right.