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Western Animation: Bravestarr

"It was the toughest of planets.
They needed a thousand lawmen.
They got one.
He was enough."

Bravestarr was a Space Western action cartoon produced by Filmation that aired in 1987 after the success of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983).

As the Expository Theme Tune explains, sometime in The Future, the planet New Texas is experiencing Days of Future Past with settlers coming to the planet to mine its deposits of "Kerium", an energy-bearing variety of Green Rocks. Unfortunately, the planet has to deal with the threat of Tex Hex, a mystically empowered outlaw who, with his gang, tries to steal as much Kerium as he can, and will overpower anyone in his way.

To keep law and order on the planet, The Federation sends Marshall Bravestarr. Bravestarr, thanks to his upbringing by the Magical Native American Shaman, is able to use the powers of spirit animals to gain super powers: "Eyes Of The Hawk", "Ears Of The Wolf", "Strength Of The Bear", and "Speed Of The Puma". With these powers, and the help of Thirty-Thirty (his Cool Horse who can become a humanoid BFG-toting Sidekick when he's not Bravestarr's mount), Bravestarr keeps the peace for both the settlers and the native "Prairie People".

More details are available at Wikipedia.

This series provides examples of the following:

  • Action Girl: Judge J. B., at least some of the time.
  • Action-Hogging Opening: and HOW!
  • Alien Sky: New Texas has several moons, and the sky is pinkish red.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: As with nearly all of Filmation's 1980s series. Even villain Outlaw Scuzz gets to deliver one.
  • Artistic License - Law: In "Bravestarr and the Law", Tex Hex's claim is fairly adjudicated in court, and this is as it should be. This said, he is a wanted criminal. Not an alleged one. He is minimally a person of interest in dozens of cases - one known to the judge since she was a kid - to be detained on much firmer ground than many people in real life are for much less. Even if his claim had been legit and judged in his favor, he should have been hearing about this victory while indictments flowed like prospectors to a kerium strike.
    • In "Tex But No Hex", Tex Hex almost gets acquitted at his trial by rigging the jury with one member who was supposed to vote "not guilty". In real life, this would not cause an acquittal but a hung jury, resulting in a retrial, and in the case of a criminal of the caliber of Tex Hex, most likely a guilty verdict.
  • The Atoner: Handlebar is a former criminal. An ex-Space Pirate, no less!
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Used in "Balance of Power". Stampede steals Shaman's staff and uses its magic to make a robot and later Thunderstick and Scuzz giants to fight Bravestarr.
  • Automaton Horses: Thirty-Thirty, somewhat literally.
  • Badass: A crapload, this being a Space Western, but Thirty-Thirty Most of all.
  • Badass Grandpa: The Shaman, when he needs to be.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Aliens:
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: A rare aversion in an eighties cartoon. The pilot episode actually shows the characters having to deal with decompression due to a hole getting knocked in their ship.
  • Big Bad: Stampede.
  • Big Good: The Shaman.
  • Binary Suns: New Texas' "sky of three suns".
  • Black Sheep: Outlaw Scuzz is this to both his cousin, Deputy Fuzz, and the rest of his species, the peaceful and mostly pacifist Praire People.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Thirty-Thirty.
  • Broken Aesop: The episode "Bravestarr and the Law", in which the And Knowing Is Half the Battle segment has Bravestarr talking about how one should always obey the law even if you don't agree with it. The episode, however, had him going against the law (which was going to evict Shaman) up until the true facts were revealed and Shaman's home was no longer endangered.
    • Not quite. He was ready and willing to quit his job as a lawman, but stopped short of (and anguished over) actually breaking the law.
    • Still, "Bravestarr and the Law" feels a lot like a Broken Aesop; at any rate, the message is brought across in a confusing way. Bravestarr goes back to his job not so much because of a respect for the law per se as because he realizes that without him as Marshal, not only Shaman but all of society is in danger from Tex Hex. Furthermore, there is a strong dissonance between the very explicit message at the end of the episode that we should obey the law even if we don't agree with it and the shaman's invitation to Bravestarr to consider for himself what he should do in the situation he was in, accompanied by the arguably confusing and morally ambiguous analogy of Bravestarr having had to ponder as a boy whether it was justified to rescue a bird by disturbing the sacred water it was drowning in. On the whole a rather difficult story to digest for an adult, let alone for a kid.
    • There's also one in the episode "Eye of the Beholder", where a blind girl manages to prove that there is something good even in Tex Hex, the main antagonist. The given aesop however, is that blind people don't need pity but can take care of themselves and even be useful to a community.
  • Broken Pedestal: "Fallen Idol".
  • Brought Down to Normal: In "Strength of the Bear", Bravestarr loses his animal-based super powers and has to go on a Vision Quest (without weapons or tools) to regain them—all while protecting himself and an elderly blind man from outlaws.
    • Secret Test of Character: The blind man turns out to be the embodiment of Bravestarr's spirit animals, making sure that the marshall is worthy of his powers.
      • Another example: In "Lost Mountain", the weird magnetic field that causes Bravestarr and Fuzz to crash their plane also interferes with Bravestarr's powers.
      • A villainous example: Stampede strips Tex Hex of his powers to teach him a lesson in "Tex But No Hex".
  • Cats Are Mean: Klawto, an evil, felinoid alien wizard, and the felinoid Krang warriors.
  • Cassandra Truth: Ursula asked Tex not to go to New Texas in search of Kerium, sensing that she would never see him again if he did. She was right.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Tex is not only a cackling, thieving killer, he's PROUD of it. When his rap sheet was read at his trial, he gleefully confessed to everything and more, and proclaimed he would do it all over again in a heartbeat. The rest of his gang is just as bad.
  • Character Title
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Tex and his men seem incapable of following through with any alliance they make with Bravestarr, regardless of how dire the situation is.
  • Citadel City: Fort Kerium, which can convert into "fortess mode" when necessary.
  • Clip Show: "The Disappearance of Thirty-Thirty" and "Tex's Terrible Night", which both use footage from The Movie.
  • Cool Horse: Thirty-Thirty, an indefatigable talking mount who carries Bravestarr on his back in travel and in battle is a ferocious humanoid warrior who watches Bravestarr's back.
  • Courtroom Episode: Used in "Tex But No Hex", where the people of Fort Kerium finally take Tex Hex to court for his crimes after Stampede strips him of his powers to teach him a lesson. Tex manages to get his minion Hawgtie onto the jury, which essentially guarantees a hung jury. Hawgtie votes him guilty after Bravestarr reminds him what a dick Tex is to him.
  • Dark Chick: Vipra, who is less action-oriented than male villains, her main ability being to hypnotize.
  • Days of Future Past: As with the other Space Western cartoons, clothing and architecture reminiscent of The Wild West and the Victorian era co-exists with futuristic technology. The spaceships look like sailing ships complete with rigging.
  • The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: Tex soon forgot the whole reason why he went to New Texas in the first place, and upon becoming Tex Hex, he quickly lost all semblance of his former self.
  • Death by Origin Story: Tex Hex in "Tex's Terrible Night," which went into more detail in "Bravestarr: The Movie," which told how Tex's freighter crashed with his body found by Stampede, who thought he could do with Tex at his side once brought back to life with Stampede's powers (though Tex first had to be turned to ashes, then restored in Evil Glory). Scuzz is also brought back when Tex tries his powers out consciously.
  • Disney Death: Deputy Fuzz in the movie pilot.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Wild Child. Also, as noted, the Prairie People and Hawgtie.
  • Downer Ending: "The Price".
  • The Dragon: Tex Hex. However, as with Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine, Hex gets a lot more screen time than his boss Stampede.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Again, "The Price".
    • Not to mention how Outlaw Scuzz is a heavy smoker who practically wheezes every time he talks.note 
  • Easily Forgiven: Vipra in "Who Am I?". She bullies Scuzz to get information on a magic book, uses the magic book to completely overthrow Tex Hex, establishes herself as the new leader of Tex Hex's gang, and even tries to talk directly to Stampede, but by the time the next episode rolls around, she's still in Tex's gang, taking orders as if nothing's happened.
  • Eccentric Mentor: The Shaman.
  • Episode Title Card
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Shaman, whose actual name is unrevealed.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Tex Hex and his gang berate Skuzz's smoking habits.
  • Evil Counterpart: Skuzz, to Fuzz. Also Stampede to the Shaman.
  • Evil Laugh: Tex Hex does this a lot, including in the Title Sequence.
  • Expository Theme Tune
  • Eye Beams: One of Tex Hex's powers. One episode even has him create a laser rope out of his eyes in order to strangle one of his henchmen for talking back to him.
  • Fat Bastard: Outlaw Scuzz, Hawgtie.
  • Fantastic Racism: In "Kerium Fever", the indigenous Prairie People find a kerium vein just when it seems that New Texas is tapped out, causing some of the human prospectors to resent them. Taking advantage of the tension, Tex Hex and his gang kidnap Judge J.B., frame the innocent Prairie People, then try to steal the kerium while everyone else is busy with the racial conflict.
  • Femme Fatalons: Vipra has them, as was usual for villainesses of the 80's cartoons.
  • Floating Island: In "Nomad Is an Island", Queen Singlish and her servants travel in a spaceship that looks like an island.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In the first episode, Bravestarr notices and becomes interested in J.B. the first time he sees her... which is while she's facing away from him and slightly bent over.
    • In "Big Thirty and Little Wimble", when Thirty-Thirty is teaching Wimble how to use his gun Sarah Jane, as he is saying "And this here is how you cock it", there is a big, cactus-like plant behind him that looks distinctly phallic.
    • A minor example, but in "Bravestarr and the Law", there is a calendar on the wall of the claims office with a picture in silhouette of, well, a mermaid.
    • In "Nomad is an Island", Queen Singlish character design looked every bit the stereotypical BDSM dominatrix.
  • G-Rated Drug: Subverted in "The Price".
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Queen Singlish from "Nomad Is an Island". Not only is she mean to her servants, she kidnaps Thirty-Thirty (because she wants a horse as a gift for her 1000th birthday) and some random Prairie People (because she wants slaves).
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Scuzz. He's seen smoking a really dirty-looking cigar at all times, can't speak more than a sentence without coughing, and at one point in The Movie, he actually lights his cigar with a stick of dynamite. None of the other villains look too favorably on his habit, though.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Bravestarr and Judge J. B., openly acknowledged in The Movie.
  • I Call It Vera: Sarah Jane, Thirty-Thirty's BFG.
  • I've Come Too Far: In Eye Of the Beholder, Aley asks Tex why he needs to steal Kerium so badly.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: In "Thoren the Slavemaster", the titular villain uses a "minisizer" to shrink Bravestarr and several other characters.
  • Just a Machine: The status of Mecha-Mooks varies from one episode to another, but series regulars Cactushead and Thunderstick are clearly considered people (albeit rotten ones).
  • Kick the Dog: Several of the villains have their Jerkass moments throughout the series, but special mention goes to the scene in "No Drums, No Trumpets" where Thunderstick and Outlaw Scuzz go out of their way to harass and berate a man in front of his young daughter just for carrying her baby dolls.
  • Last of His Kind: Thirty-Thirty.
  • Lawman Gone Bad: Jingles Morgan in "Fallen Idol".
  • Magical Native American: Bravestarr and his Shaman both qualify.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Bravestarr is brave...and a Native American...and wears a star.
    • Thirty-thirty wields the Ray Gun version of a Winchester 30-30 rifle.
    • The Magical Native American isn't just a shaman, he's named Shaman.
  • Mechanical Monster: Stampede's Bronco-Tank.
  • Mineral MacGuffin: Kerium, a highly energized red crystal that's used as a power source for pretty much everything and is described as "ten times more valuable than gold." It's a plot point in a lot of different ways, and a lot of parallels are drawn between it and gold.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Somewhat in "Nomad is an Island" despite the fact that Queen Singlish's "only two subjects" didn't really seem to respect her much to begin with, their superficial token groveling notwithstanding. Also, they seemed well aware of the fact that she needed them more than they needed her. It hardly come as any shock that at the end of the episode after her defeat, there's a slight change in how things are done aboard the island.
  • Morality Pet: Tex-Hex's ex-girlfriend Ursula is this for him; he sabotages his own mission once when it would endanger her.
  • Never Say "Die": Averted; the words die, death, and murder are used when appropriate, and the situations do come up, with "Fallen Idol" being one of the most prominent examples.
  • The Obi-Wan: The Shaman.
  • One Riot, One Ranger: This trope was the basic concept behind the show.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Stampede is a giant, magic-using cyborg dragon with a head shaped like a cow-skull—and, at least for the era when this show was produced, he is frigging terrifying.
  • Our Robots Are Weird: Cactushead has to be one of the weirdest-looking robots ever designed. He looks like a Joke Character, but he's actually one of Tex's more competent underlings. Then there's Thunderstick, who not only looks odd but speaks a sort of Robo Speak patois that causes him to repeat phrases in a herky-jerky manner.
  • Perfect Pacifist People: The Fooftas in "The Ballad of Sarah Jane".
  • Pet the Dog: A few times, for Tex Hex, usually regarding his ex-girlfriend Ursula or someone who reminds him of her.
  • Pig Man: Hawgtie from Tex's gang.
  • Pilot Movie: Bravestarr: The Movie, aka Bravestarr: The Legend. It was meant to be a theatrically released introduction to the series, but due to a botched distribution deal, it only had a few limited screenings and was rarely seen until its DVD release.
  • Planetville: New Texas.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: Arguably the most obvious example ever - the two-part "Sherlock Holmes in the 23rd Century" (in which Bravestarr himself is the only regular who appears - it's not even set on New Texas), which never became a Filmation series. The similar Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century was made by DIC several years later.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Proud Warrior Race Guys: The Krang, a race of cat guys.
  • The Power of Rock: Used in "New Texas Blues".
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "I! Never! Lose!" in "Fallen Idol" by Lawman Gone Bad Jingles Morgan.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: Tex Hex's henchbeings.
  • Sapient Steed
  • Scaled Up: In "The Vigilantes", Tex Hex turns himself into a giant dragon in Handlebar's saloon in order to attack Bravestarr. It doesn't go well for him.
  • Scare 'Em Straight: "The Price", which shows just what happens to people who use drugs.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Outlaw Scuzz tries to pull this a lot whenever the villains are losing, due to his ability to burrow underground. One episode even has him producing mechanical wings from behind his back and flying away the moment Bravestarr breaks into the villains' hideout.
  • Settling the Frontier: The main background of the story is the settlement of New Texas.
  • 65-Episode Cartoon
  • Snake People: Vipra
  • Sore Loser: "Fallen Idol" showed how the Pride of one made a Broken Pedestal: Jingles Morgan lost a fighting match and fell off a bridge into mud. People laughed at his defeat, even his victorious opponent (which seems too close to Unsportsmanlike Gloating). In a moment of Uncontrollable Rage, he grabbed his nearby disintegrator pistol and blasted the opponent with it, killing him.
  • Space Western
  • Spell My Name with an S:
    • The makers of the show couldn't decide whether Tex Hex's prairie person henchman is called Outlaw Skuzz or Outlaw Scuzz. An episode title uses the "Skuzz" spelling, but "Scuzz" appears on the merchandise.
    • The humanoid pig that's sometimes seen riding with Tex's gang is named Hawgtie, not Hogtie.
  • Start of Darkness: For Tex Hex.
  • Strawman Pacifist: The elder Fuufta, especially Omeesh in the episode "The Ballad of Sara Jane".
  • Stock Footage: Several extended sequences from the feature film were used routinely as stock footage (and padding) in the series: the space montage opening almost every episode; Bravestarr riding Thirty-Thirty through the desert; Fort Kerium going into Fortress Mode. Conversely, some shots from the series' Title Sequence were integrated into the film's action sequences (the two were produced simultaneously). The four stock sequences of Bravestarr summoning his animal powers were used regularly. Filmation's heavy use of stock and rotoscoped character motions may also qualify.
  • Super Senses: "Eyes of the hawk!" and "Ears of the wolf!"
  • Super Speed: "Speed of the puma!"
  • Super Strength: "Strength of the bear!"
  • This Cannot Be!: When Bravestarr sees the warrant For Jingles Morgan, his mentor at the Marshals' Academy in "Fallen Idol," he gets this reaction when he says this in disbelief. When Fuzz asks what Jingles is wanted for, Bravestarr can only say in a smaller disbelieving voice, "Murder."
  • Transformation Sequence: Seen when Thirty-Thirty converts from humanoid to robot horse form (and vice versa). The Stock Footage seen when Bravestarr uses his animal powers may also qualify.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: In "Night of the Bronco Tank", Stampede creates a mechanical monstrosity to destroy Bravestarr and finally take over New Texas. Once the Bronco Tank becomes powerful enough, it decides to go after Stampede as well and rule New Texas itself.
  • Verbal Tic: Half of the non-human cast seems to have one of these. Stampede punctuates his speech with bull-like snorts, Vipra hisses like a snake when she talks, Thunderstick repeats random words, Thirty-Thirty whinnies like a horse...
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Dingo Dan, one of the series regulars, is an anthropomorphic dingo who can magically disguise himself as a human.
  • Wham Episode: "The Price". You think you're in for another preachy Drugs Are Bad episode, but then the ending hits you like a nuclear blast of feels.
  • Was Once a Man: Tex Hex was once a normal man who was driven to madness by his greed for Kerium, and eventually transformed into a hideous undead magician by Stampede.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: The episode "Tex's Terrible Night."
  • You No Take Candle: The Prairie People, as well as half of Tex's gang, speak in broken English.
    • Exceptions: Skuzz speaks perfect English in several episodes ("The Witnesses" and "Who Am I?") as well as his anti-smoking And Knowing Is Half the Battle segment.

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