Western Animation / Bounty Hamster

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"Meanwhile, on the other side of the universe..."

Bounty Hamster (2003-2004) is a British animated science fiction comedy series.

Teenaged girl Cassie and her father were separated when their space ship was attacked by space pirates; she made it to an escape pod, he didn't. Now, she's off to find him again, with the assistance of the biggest, meanest bounty hunter money can hire — but the biggest, meanest bounty hunter her money can hire is a small, blue-grey, hamster-like critter called Marion, who has enough attitude for several regular-sized bounty hunters but not a lot to back it up with. He does, however, have two special advantages: he has all kinds of useful stuff stashed in his cheek pouches (now, if only he could find what he needed when he needed it...), and he goes into an Unstoppable Rage whenever someone calls him "cute".

Each episode is packed with homages and shout outs to earlier works of animation, science fiction, and comedy — for instance, the episode where Applied Phlebotinum creates seven Marions, one happy, one bashful, one grumpy, and so on.

This series contains examples of:

  • Aliens of London: Pretty much all the aliens speak British English, including several with regional accents (such as the very Scottish Professor Notgerman).
  • All Just a Dream: In the season finale "School's Out" it turns out the whole series is just a comic Cassie is drawing in class... or is it?
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "You stand accused of breaking the Prime Directive, 5000 speed limits, and a really nice vase!"
  • Autocannibalism: In one episode, Marion discovers his Bag of Holding cheeks are actually a portal between dimensions so, in order escape the dimension they're trapped in, he eats Cassie then himself.
  • Badass Adorable: Yes, Marion is played for laughs and he's a cute little hamster like creature. He's also capable of kicking some serious butt when he needs to.
  • Badly Battered Babysitter: In "Bringing Up Baby", Marion gets badly battered while looking after an alien baby that keeps randomly changing ages.
  • Bag of Holding: Marion's cheek pouches have an apparently infinite carrying capacity and contain all kinds of useful objects.
  • Balloon Belly: Cassie gains one for a short time in "Chin Raiders" after eating lots of pancakes.
  • Bar Brawl: The first episode has a PA system announcing a "spontaneous bar-room brawl in three minutes."
  • Berserk Button: Never call Marion "cute". This even includes any word that has "cute" in it (eg. "acute").
  • Bluff the Impostor: In "Twin Cheeks" Cassie realises Alt!Marion isn't the real one when she calls him cute and he doesn't flip out.
  • Bouncer: There is one as a supporting character in "Fashion Victim", who goes Sweet on Polly Oliver.
  • Bounty Hunter: Several appear as recurring characters, including Marion himself and the Horse With No Name. "Night Of The Hunters" features a large number of bounty hunters who mistake Cassie's ads seeking information about her father for wanted posters.
  • Brick Joke: Lampshaded in "The Good, the Bad, and the Adorable". A group of cute critters accidentally take off on a huge rocket engine and fly around the entire planet returning just in time to run over the Big Bad at the crucial moment, whereupon Marion pops up and says, "Bet you forgot about those guys, huh?"
  • Catch Phrase: "Don't... call... me... CUTE!"
  • Captain Ersatz: A silver C-3PO sometimes shows up out of nowhere to point out their odds of surviving, with Marion beating him up in response. On at least one occasion Cassie wonders who he is.
  • Clip Show: In "The Trial", the last episode produced, Marion has to face a bounty hunter licensing tribunal in a trial heavily illustrated with clips from other episodes. Even the frame story makes heavy use of recycled and redubbed footage.
  • Conspicuous CG: Cel-shaded CGI is used for spaceships and other detailed objects which are required to move very fast.
  • Crowd Song: "The Good, the Bad, and the Adorable" is set on a planet of crowd-singing creatures.
  • Cuckoo Nest: In "School's Out", Cassie is just an ordinary schoolgirl on Earth, daydreaming about space adventures with a roguish hamster — or is she?
  • Cute Critters Act Childlike: The adorable critters in "The Good, the Bad, and the Adorable" are cute, innocent and helpless.
  • Disguised in Drag: In "Fashion Victim", Marion disguises himself in drag in an attempt to rescue Cassie from a deranged fashion designer.
  • Don't Try This at Home: In one episode featuring the Galaxy of a Million Suns, Marion escapes using an electric fan that he switches to "turbo". A message then pops up saying: "Never try to escape the Galaxy of a Million Suns with an electric fan, it is dangerous and stupid".
  • Evil Laugh: In "Lonely Planet" Cassie and Marion laugh evilly while shining flashlights in their faces.
    Cassie: I have no idea why we did that.
  • Evil Twin: Alt!Marion in "Twin Cheeks". Alt!Cassie looks evil, but she's more of a Jerk Ass.
  • Eyepatch of Power:
    • Marion, one of several shout-outs to True Grit.
    • Alt!Cassie from "Twin Cheeks" also has one.
  • Fartillery:
    • In "Somewhere That's Green" when they're eaten by a man-eating plant, Cassie gets Marion to pull her finger, causing her to fart and the plant to spit them out.
      Cassie: If we ever do find my dad, don't you dare tell him that I did that!
    • She tries it again later without Marion's help, but it doesn't work.
      Cassie: Why doesn't it work when you pull your own finger?
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • From "Somewhere that's Green":
      Marion: Let's go skinny dipping!
    • "Beached" has Cassie say "What the... fog?"
    • After Marion reveals that he is a man to the security guard attracted to him at the end of "Fashion Victim", he says he doesn't mind. Marion reacts appropriately.
  • Grand Theft Me: "Trading Spaces" is an entire episode full of body-swaps. A criminal steals a body-swapping device and uses it to go joy riding in other people's bodies. Highlights of the episode are Cassie stuck in the body of a humanoid rhino, a body-swap conga line with over half a dozen body-swaps in a row and the criminal, Cassie and Marion all being stuck together in the same body, where they try to beat each other up. The insanity ends with the criminal's mind trapped inside of a cactus.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Cassie always does the right thing and gets angry with Marion when he doesn't. She was also able to ask a question of the All-Seeing Chin, that only answers those pure of heart, and it does.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • In "Save the Whale", Marion got married to a Space Whale, who broke it off and hooked up with a defrosted, eloquent saber-tooth cat.
    • In "Just Deserts", Marion gambled Cassie away while trying to flirt with an alien like a multi-eyed, four-legged bird-woman.
  • I Will Find You: The Opening Narration has Dad shouting "I'll come back for you!" as Casey drifts off in an Escape Pod. A Gilligan Cut then has Cassie saying "But he didn't...so I went looking."
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Marion is a homage to the character played in the 1969 film True Grit by John Wayne, whose real name was Marion Michael Morrison.
    • Cassie is short for Cassiopeia, named after the constellation. Her surname is Harrison, after Harrison Ford.
  • Mirror Universe: In "Twin Cheeks", Marion and Cassie meet their counterparts from an alternate universe where Cassie is a hardened bounty hunter and Marion is a criminal she's pursuing.
  • Missing Mom: Cassie's mother does not appear, even in Cassie's fantasy in "Wish You Were Here" where she's reunited with her father. According to Word of God, Cassie's mother is dead, and the Lotus-Eater Machine chose not to bring back someone Cassie knew was dead in order to maintain the illusion that it was real.
  • The Napoleon: Marion is very short and hot-tempered, though he's less touchy about his height per se than about being considered cute.
  • No Name Given: Cassie and Marion are being pursued by another bounty hunter (a horse with a poncho and Clint Eastwood mannerisms) who calls himself "The Horse With No Name". Cassie points out that if he's called "The Horse With No Name" then that is his name.
  • Opening Narration: Each episode opens with a narration from Cassie recapping the fact that she is looking for her father with Marion's help.
  • Opening Shout-Out: In "Twin Cheeks", when Alt!Cassie gives her backstory, it's done in the style of Cassie's opening narration.
  • Parental Bonus: The series includes a lot of pop culture references the presumptive audience would be too young to recognize.
  • Parents for a Day: In "Bringing Up Baby", when an alien mother asks Cassie and Marion to look after her baby for a while.
  • Raised by Wolves: In "Wish You Were Here", when Cassie and Marion are (apparently) reunited with their respective families, it's revealed that Marion was raised by an actual pack of wolves. (Or talking wolf-like aliens, anyway.)
  • Recap By Audit: In "The Trial", the final episode to be produced, Marion has to face a licensing tribunal when he's accused of conduct unbecoming his bounty hunter license. Cue Clip Show. (In the end, the tribunal does strip him of his license — and awards one to Cassie, having concluded that she's done more to earn one over the course of the series than Marion has.)
  • Rummage Fail: Commonly happens when Marion attempts to retrieve something from his cheek pouches.
  • Shout-Out: Tons, especially in "Lonely Planet".
  • Small Universe After All: As per the opening narration, the series is set "on the other side of the universe".
  • Space Is an Ocean: Complete with Space Whales, in some episodes, and space cruise liners in others.
  • Space Western: "Just Deserts" is set on a desert planet with lots of Western tropes. Cassie gets abducted by the outlaw Abnormality Jane.
  • Temporary Bulk Change: Cassie in "Fashion Victim", while being fed up by an alien that's planning to eat her.
  • This Ain't Rocket Surgery: In "Off to Work", the split Marions set out to earn some money for needed repairs on Marion's ship. Dopey Marion is seen cheerfully remarking "It isn't brain surgery!" while performing brain surgery. At another point in the episode, the same thing happens with rocket science.
  • Too Dumb to Live: In "Somewhere That's Green", while Marion is trying to hang up a banner he accidentally steps on a button that ejects all their food supply. When Cassie asks him, he demonstrates by pushing the button again and ejects all their water supply.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: Parodied in "The Good, the Bad, and the Adorable".
  • Turned Against Their Masters: In "Mutiny on the Bounty Hamster", Cassie and Marion are trapped on a space liner where the robot staff have revolted.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Marion's reaction to being called cute.
  • Up to Eleven: During the Body Swap episode, when the villain (in Cassie's body) complains about Marion's ship going too slow, he takes out a marker and writes "12" on the speed controls. It actually works.

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