Western Animation: Dexter's Laboratory aka: Dial M For Monkey
Enter at your own peril, past the bolted door Where impossible things may happen That the world's never seen before!
One of Cartoon Network's earliest original series, Dexter's Laboratory originated as one of the World Premiere Toons, a series of short cartoons solicited through a contest for nonprofessional animators. (The Powerpuff Girls was also brought in through this contest, and note that the two shows seem to take place in the same universe, and seem to share similar styles. Craig McCracken and Genndy Tartakovsky collaborated on both shows.)Dexter is a very young scientist with a Central European accent, thick-rimmed glasses and a gigantic laboratory in his bedroom. For all his genius, Dexter is never able to keep his sister, Dee Dee, out of his lab.Do NOT confuse with that other Dexter; much tragedy will come of it. Well, some◊ tragedy.This show follows a fairly standard "Three Shorts" format, with a Dexter cartoon at the start and end, and another series in between. Throughout its run, this slot was filled by spinoff series Dial M for Monkey and Justice Friends, both of these Super Hero parodies. Dial M For Monkey followed Dexter's eponymous pet monkey, who fought aliens and monsters behind Dexter's back. The Justice Friends provided a domestic sitcom take on The Avengers, exploring the apartment life shared by three superheroes who fight crime better than they get along as roommates. Outside the US the filler shows were sometimes dropped and the Dexter cartoons shown in a different order.There's a Wiki.
Dexter's Laboratory provides examples of:
Abhorrent Admirer: Mandark to Dee Dee; the giant eyed girl from "Aye Eye Eyes" to Dexter.
Absentee Actor: Dexter doesn't appear in "Paper Route Bout", which is instead focused on Dee Dee.
Absurdly Youthful Mother: While Dexter's mom is never implied to be old, in "Chess Mom" we discover that she won the "Spirit of '83" award. Assuming she won this as a senior in high school, and Dexter is 10 when the show started in 1996, this would mean that mom had Dexter when she was 21. And this was her 2nd child.
Abusive Parents: Mandark's parents. While they're not the worst examples of the trope, they aren't very supportive of Mandark's love for science, and they gave him a name ( Susan) that would subject him to a lot of ridicule from other kids.
Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: At least with respect to US pronunciation. "Dee Dee, get out of my laBORatory!" True to his crazy accent, however, that is how "laboratory" is pronounced in most places outside the US.
Accidental Athlete: "Sports a Poppin" has Dexter's dad trying to teach Dexter to be more athletic. While Dexter fails at traditional sports he demonstrates great athleticism at the end of the episode when fighting a giant monster outside his Dad's field of view.
Their parents would also get episodes like this entitled, appropriately enough A Dad Cartoon and A Mom Cartoon. They also get similar treatment in episodes like "Dad is Disturbed" and "World's Greatest Mom".
Mandark gets an episode like this in "Sun, Surf and Science", in which he competes in a surfing contest to impress Dee Dee, using science to create his own surfboard and to sabotage the contest with mines and robotic sharks. Dexter, incidentally, does not appear in this episode at all.
Adult Fear: "Misplaced in Space" has Dexter trapped in an alien prison where nobody speaks his language and he has no idea how to get home.
All Work vs. All Play: Played with with Dexter and Dee Dee (respectively All Work and All Play), where there would be episodes where Dexter would be more relaxed like DeeDee, or DeeDee more work-minded like Dexter only to turn back at the end. Status Quo Is God or an Aesop of being yourself?
Sometimes averted in certain episodes, as Dexter frequently worries about normal things for a boy his age, such as his favorite television heroes, and being liked by the neighborhood kids.
Almighty Janitor: "Yohnny the Yanitor" from the episode "Trapped With a Vengeance".
Animesque: The girl in "Aye Eye Eye" has enormous anime-style eyes, there's an entire tribute to mechs, kaiju, and other anime tropes when Dexter goes to Japan and accidentally unleashes a giant monster, and in the newer seasons, there's a villain drawn in an anime style... while everyone else remains the same-looking.
Art Evolution: The art style changed some over the course of the series (early episodes and later episodes have different model designs) but once Genndy's involvement with the series ended, the series took a very dramatic stylistic change, with far cleaner lines, for starters. (just compare this◊ with this◊)
Dee-Dee had thicker eyebrowes and seemed to lack a chin in the first few episodes.
Artistic License: The episode where Dexter travels to Mars, where Dee-Dee gets covered in Martial soil to no ill effect. And can breathe in space.
The B Grade: Not a B, but an A minus in "Sister Mom". Dee Dee was furious since Dexter turns into mom so she wouldn't know about it and Dexter and the teacher made a big deal out of this. Though Dexter tells her he wouldn't even bother if Dee Dee would stop bothering him while doing homework.
Badass Adorable: Monkey, who is considered to be one of the Dexterverse top superheroes.
Action Hank. Noted in one episode where Dexter creates a synthetic beard to make himself look more "rugged", and is confused for Action Hank (despite looking nothing like him) because of the beard. They later team up to fight beard-themed villains. "It's not the beard on the outside that counts, but the beard on the INSIDE."
Badass Family: Dexter may have a pretty screwed up family at times, but when they work together, they're the definition of Bad Ass. Case in point, the army and all the world's superheroes (including Monkey) were completely powerless against Badaxtra. Dexter's family united, got a Combining Mecha, flew to Japan, and managed to kill him. They've even got a theme song!.
One of the reboot episodes dealt with the entire family being kidnapped by a massive Alien who wanted to steal Dexters scientific knowledge. The family ends up breaking out of imprisonment, take down the aliens minions and save Dexter.
Bad Future: The main conflict in Ego Trip. Mandark takes over the world using one of Dexter's inventions and hordes all knowledge and science for himself, deliberately forcing the populace to live in indigent, primitive poverty and stupidity. Dexter and his various future selves put a stop to it, ultimately constructing a gloriously Zee Rust techno-paradise. At first, the various Dexters try to prevent it from ever happening, but they end up creating a Stable Time Loop ensuring that it's going to happen again and again.
Oh, and why did the Stable Time Loop happen? Because Dee Dee was actually the one to put a stop to it, and their egos just couldn't let that go.
And God help you if you make Dee Dee seriously angry.
Bigger on the Inside: Dexter has a humongous lab so big that there are some parts of it Dexter has forgotten about, yet it is somehow able to fit in the closed-off space of his relatively small house. Sometimes this is Hand Waved as the lab being underground, but this doesn't make a whole lot of sense either, since Dexter often walks directly into it from his second-floor bedroom.
The Musical Episode "Lab-Ret-O" implies that Dexters lab may be located in some sort of pocket dimension located behind a certain wall of the house.
Parodied in an episode where Dexter shrinks the house to observe it inside his lab, leaving Dexter's lab of normal size on the inside, but a disembodied door on the outside.
Also parodied in an episode where Dexter draws a map of the house. Guess which is the smallest room.
Big "NO!": Dexter, numerous times. Including the scene where he's surrounded by cooties.
In "Jeepers Creepers, Where is Peepers," the transforming Peepers yells this when he sees Dexter and Koosalagoopagoop being attacked by Hokochu (or rather Hookocho) before breaking out of his container.
The Ice Cream Man, after Dexter asks if he's got change for a hundred. This is after the Ice Cream Man explains that he hates Dexter for paying in pennies.
Broken Aesop: In "Star Spangled Sidekicks" Dee Dee is chosen over Dexter to be Major Glory's sidekick despite the latter having better combat skills and weaponry. The lesson is supposed to be that it takes more than skills to be a superhero;it also takes heart. However when Major Glory's actual arch nemesis show up for a fight, it is only thanks to Dexter looking out for his sister that they were able to win, otherwise she would have easily been destroyed. And Dee Dee ends up taking all the credit anyway.
Though in a Karmic twist Dexter's selfless actions indirectly make Dee Dee pass up the position which ends up being given to the Heroic Wannabe "Fat Boy" who perhaps showed heart as well.
Call Back: Like the name implies, "Dee Dee's Rival" at least starts out as a scene-for-scene remake of "Dexter's Rival," appropriate considering the latter introduced the show's default Big Bad Mandark and the former introduces his sister.
In addition to his Giant Robot, the Giant Dexo-Robo, showing up prominently in several eps, his power frame (first called the "Dextransformer" then later the "Exerjock 4000") from the early first season dodgeball episode reappears in three late season 2 eps, the first one ("Gooey Aliens That Control Your Mind") specifically mentioning the "dodgeball incident" (and including a sweep pan over a room of previous episodes' inventions).
Dexter brings back his "Dex-Star" identity from "Sidekicks Assemble" to fight alongside Blue Falcon and Dynomutt.
A meta-example in that the second act of "Last But Not Beast" features Monkey and the Justice Friends fighting the kaiju, just as they were the second cartoon short in the first season.
Calling Your Attacks: When Deedee and Dexter get turned into monsters, they both call their attacks when fighting each other.
The Chew Toy: Dexter, sometimes. Though he has nothing on the ice-cream man in "Ice Cream". Turns out ever since Dexter bought ice cream from him, and paid him in pennies, a series of unfortunate events had happened to him since, including chipping his tooth while trying to put them in the safe due to tripping on his laces after counting them, dumped by his girlfriend, having his car towed away, getting kicked out of his apartment and being forced to live under a highway because of this one act.
And to add insult to injury, once the Ice Cream Man forgives Dexter and allows him to purchase ice cream, Dexter pays the Ice Cream Man with a 100 dollar bill.
Clown Car: One episode shows a single, comically tall clown coming out of a comically undersized clown car, eventually biting Dexter.
Cluster F-Bomb: "Rude Removal", the episode made as a joke by the staff and not seen outside of event panels until Adult Swim briefly put the episode on its YouTube channel and web site. The episode consisted of Dee Dee and Dexter creating evil twins of themselves, after Dexter makes a "Rude Removal" device. The episode consists of their twins cursing.
Depending on the Writer: Sometimes Dee Dee is an insufferable Scrappy who causes nothing but deliberate pain for Dexter, while other times she's a sweet girl who cares for her brother and either helps him or is innocently unaware of the trouble she causes him.
That said, this is quite justified, as anyone with brothers or sisters will tell you. Even in the show, Dexter would be overly spiteful towards Dee Dee, or be just plain petty for little to no reason at all. However, there was also a few times where he'd show compassion towards Dee Dee and right any wrongs that happened to her. Yeah, that's sibling rivalry for you.
To show you just how valid the above two points are, watch the "Down in the dumps" episode. It did a pretty good job of showing Dex's and Dee Dee's positive and negative personality traits.
Mandark can either be a hammy and morally ambiguous rival to Dexter, or genuinely villainous.
Distracted by the Sexy: At one point, Dexter gets so fed up with Dee Dee, he holds interviews to get a replacement. He winds up hiring a vixen who he can't do any work around.
Digital Piracy Is Evil: Played for laughs on "Bad Cable Manners", where Dexter managed to steal satellite TV, since his dad couldn't do it. Turned Up to Eleven when the "Satellite Swat", aware of the situation, came out to arrest Dexter's Dad.
"Mr. Dexter's Dad. We're well aware of your current situation. piracy of our satellite broadcast is a felony. This is your last warning. Legal action will be taken".
Disappointed In Myself: Present-day Dexter with Young Adult Dexter in "Ego Trip". Not only would he be working in a cubicle at an office run by Mandark, but he would also be a complete wimp. Upon meeting him, Dexter voices how upset he is to discover what he would become and that his future self denies his high intelligence and brilliance in revolutionary inventions. This is explained through Hero Dexter who reveals that Mandark used his plans to build himself up and ruin Dexter's credibility.
Genius Ditz: There are rare moments when Dee Dee shows a surprising level of insight.
Ditzy Genius: Dexter fits the bill, hands down. He can create time machines, sentient robots, and interdimensional portals, but in "Maternal Combat," he is utterly incapable of taking care of himself for a single day while his mom is sick. He doesn't know how to cook (having never heard of flour), and is is amazed at the sight of dust. Let's not forget that he's also gullible, and in the episode where he gets chicken pox, he literally has no idea what chicken pox is.
In "Sister Mom", Dexter and "Mom" (a disguised Dee Dee) attend a conference with the school principal. When the principal's secretary calls them into the office, "Mom" joyously dances around singing "Dexter is in trouble!"; Dex shoots the secretary a sideways glance and says "Don't ask!" in a flat, annoyed tone of voice.
In "Dexter's Debt", Dexter's Dad asks the mailman about his day. The mailman tells Dexter's Dad not to ask and Dexter's Dad says it's too late because he already did.
Downer Ending: In one episode Dexter and Mandark fail to stop an asteroid from destroying the world due their refusal to work together. The two fail to notice this, still bickering inside their mechs in outer space. Thankfully, that doesn't mean much here.
The ending of "The Way of Dee-Dee" is pretty sad as well, with Dee-Dee's attempt to get Dexter to enjoy himself end with Dexter wrecking his own lab, and Dee-Dee apologizing to him for trying to change him, and running to her room in tears. The last scene is Dexter noticing the destruction he caused and quietly working to repair his lab. It's one of the few genuine Tear Jerkers in the show.
"The Big Cheese" ends with Dexter, possibly permanently, only able to say "Omlette du fromage," locked out of his lab, which is then blown up completely while Dee-Dee mocks him.
Possibly the ultimate example of this is "Ewww, That's Growth". Dexter, having grown himself grotesquely tall in order to ride a roller coaster, approaches a tunnel. He proclaims that this is the greatest day of his entire life. His head hits the tunnel, quick cut to black, the end. Implication being that Dexter actually died.
The interdimensional beast "Jojo" in "Mandarker". He apparently helped Mandark write the book The Magic of Science by Mandark and Jojo, but when Mandark summons him as part of a science fair project, he goes berserk and tries to eat Dee Dee.
Enfant Terrible: Dexter's dad, apparently, when he and Dexter's mom turned into toddlers. During that time, Dexter's dad took pleasure at beating up Dexter's mom as a baby. Using Dexter's inventions to torture her.
Epic Fail: In the Justice Friends episode "Bee Ware", the Justice Friends get defeated and scared out of their apartment by a bumblebee.
Everything's Worse with Bees: The basis of the episode "Bee Ware", where a Bumblebee flies into the Justice Friends apartment, and they try and fail to get it out. The bee itself doesn't even do much harm, but Major Glory is terrified of it, and Kronk gets mad at it when he tries to catch it in his hands and it stings him.
Evil Chef: In the episode where Dexter ended up teamed up with Action Hank, one of these was the main villain.
Evil Twin: Parodied in "Dollhouse Drama", which is also a parody of the Soap Opera concept in general.
Fantastic Time Management: There's an episode where Dexter has only 1 minute before the school bus arrives and he hasn't done his homework yet, so he use a time extending helmet to make it 30 minutes for him get everything done. ...it turns out to be a snow day.
Fartillery: This happens in Episode 25/Part 1: "Critical Gas"
FiveThree Token Band: Dee Dee (white) and her posse, Mee-Mee (black) and Lee-Lee (Asian)
Fetish-Fuel Future: The second future in "Ego Trip" shows a world where a CEO has a harem in his office and strips his employees to their underwear for a whipping when they're not productive.
Flanderization: Mandark in the post-finale seasons was pretty much defined by his hamminess and crush on Dee-Dee.
"Freaky Friday" Flip: Played with in "The Old Switcharooms", where Dad forces Dexter and Dee Dee to switch places.
Friction Burn: When Dexter gives himself Super Speed to go through his whole daily routine in 1 minute he accidentally lights his homework on fire from the friction.
The Fundamentalist: Let's just say that both the Darbie doll fans and Star Check fans in episode "Star Check Unconventional" are really, REALLY into their hobby. And whatever you do, do NOT remove a classic figure from its box.
Gag Haircut: Dee Dee attempts to cut a stray strand of hair and ends up chopping off one of her pigtails. Dexter gives her a serum to grow the hair back but she uses too much and her hair ends up taking over the house.
Gainax Ending: Some of the cartoons just stop as soon as the writers ran out of jokes... leaving the characters stuck in some terrible predicament when 'The End' appears on the screen. Luckily, Status Quo Is God.
Generation Xerox: Just... look at the first scene between Mom and Dad in the Muffin episode.
For that matter, Dexter's grandpa and old Dexter himself from the movie look nearly identical.
Genius Ditz: Dee Dee, for all of her goofiness, can break through any security measure Dexter comes up with. Also, when she's not wrecking them, can use Dexter's inventions with instant mastery, like a hovercraft Dexter himself crashed or an incredibly complicated giant mech.
In "Dexter's Assistant," Dexter needed an assistant to help him in his newest invention for a science fair. So he took Dee Dee and replaced her brain (which was the size of chewing gum) and replaced it with a new one that made her smarter. Now Dee Dee is much smarter than Dexter was, and knew more about his invention than he did, later when she left Dexter, she won the science fair with her own invention.
In "The Way of the Dee-Dee," Dee Dee spends the entire episode teaching Dexter to loosen up and have fun, which ends with him going on a destructive rampage in his own lab with psychotic glee. She runs out of the lab crying after apologizing to Dexter.
In the Dynomutt Dog Wondercrossover "Dyno-Might", Dexter becomes convinced that Dynomutt is too much of a goofy idiot sidekick to be any help to Blue Falcon, so he decides to design a new "Dynomutt X-90" to replace him. Unfortunately, Dynomutt X-90 believes that All Crimes Are Equal and uses lethal force to deal with even minor crimes such as littering and jaywalking, forcing Dexter to team up with Blue Falcon and the real Dynomutt to take him down.
Gosh Dangit To Heck: In "Book ′Em," Dexter has a nightmare where he's being judged by the Devil for not returning his library book on time:
"Welcome... to library... HECK!"
Grand Finale / Series Fauxnale: Two, actually; "Last But Not Beast" is the final episode of the series (or was intended to be) and wraps up the running plot about Dexter trying to hide his lab. "Ego Trip," meanwhile, is a film and definitively wraps up the Dexter/Mandark rivalry.
Hanna-Barbera: During the first two seasons, Cartoon Network Studios was a subsidiary of Hanna-Barbera, but when they resumed production on the third season in 2001, by then CN Studios was no longer a part of Hanna-Barbera (the latter had been absorbed into Warner Bros. Animation.)
Hartman Hips: Dexter's mom and the Touchy-Feely Neighbor Lady from "Nuclear Confusion" have the biggest butts in the whole series.
Hurricane of Puns: This match at Flushing Meadows is just whizzing by! But you're in luck, there will be no commercial breaks. The tension is swelling, no relief in sight. He's in the lead now, but will. He. Hold. It?
Hypocrite: Dee Dee once got on Dexter's case for experimenting on one of her dolls. Ignoring her own frequent(ly destructive) visits to his lab.
Pretty much anytime Dee Dee meets someone of her own clingy and destructive level she finds them intolerable and inconsiderate. Ironically subverted one time Dexter loses it and completely destroys her room and all her personal belongings. Her response?
Dexter himself occasionally shows No Sense of Personal Space and can be equally intrusive and annoying. His father has to trick him into leaving when his badgering interupts a golf game for example.
Idiot Hero: He can time travel and build an underground lab miles long but will go through hell and back to buy and ice cream that he could easily make at home.
I'll Pretend I Didn't Hear That: A variation occurs in "The Old Switcharooms": Dexter tries to sneak into his lab from Dee Dee's room to ensure that she isn't trashing it. Dexter's dad, who is somehow aware that Dexter is doing this even without looking at him, casually whips out (in a very stern tone) this:
"No son of mine had better try to escape his punishment...or else that certain son will find himself in an even worse punishment."
Inconvenient Itch: Dexter at one point gets the chicken pox and is told not to scratch the pox, or he'll turn into a chicken. He tries ways of keeping from scratching, even restraining himself completely, but nothing works and he eventually goes on a scratching spree... after which he indeed turns into a chicken.
Innocently Insensitive: Dee Dee is usually just a playful Genki Girl who wants to play with her little brother. However her notions of fun include playing around with his pretty looking (and somewhat delicate) toys, and no amount of ranting at her to leave him alone ever seems to faze her.
Instant Awesome, Just Add Mecha: Dexter's default response to almost any physical threat is to build a mech and go shoot the danger to bits. Eventually he ends up with a hangar full of mecha, which he walks through, pondering which one to use for playing dodgeball.
It Runs in the Family: Dexter believes that his grandfather's dinky lab is just child's play, but Dexter doesn't see his grandfather create free energy with it - the one thing Dexter himself couldn't achieve.
Scenes of Dexter's mother cooking show her using the same scientific precision and unbridled glee as Dexter in the throes of creation.
Likewise, his father acts much the same as Dee Dee does when disturbing Mom in the kitchen. She even ends up shouting at him in much the same way.
It's Personal: After Dexter had Dee Dee destroy Mandark's lab, only then did Mandark swear revenge on Dexter, and they have been rivals ever since.
Kaiju: Several. More memorable ones involve an extra-dimensional horror with many eyes and tentacles (that's start of a stable time loop) and iconic Dexter "oops". Another episode involved Dexter and Dee Dee becoming giant monsters by drinking a mutation-causing formula and having an all out battle (complete with Calling Your Attacks). Finally, there's Badaxtra, the monster of the original Finale who nearly destroyed the world.
Karma Houdini: Dee Dee never seems to get any comeuppance for some of her more intentional destruction of Dexter's work.
Subverted in "Sdrawkcab" where she did end up with a deserving comeuppance.
Limited Wardrobe: Dexter is shown at one point to have his closet filled with nothing but the same labcoats and boots he always wears.
Be fair, he did also have a suit to wear for the first day of school. Now Dee Dee, she has a limited wardrobe.
Literal Genie: One episode ended with Dexter telling Computer to make him a sandwich. And she did.
Literal Metaphor: Dexter once held a garage sale. Like what happened in the Kim Possible example, two aliens showed up saying "[they] will take his light converters." Once he said how much he was charging for each pair, they repeated that they will TAKE the light converters and he understood.
Lots of Luggage: The titular character decides to cope with being away from his electronics for a family fishing trip by bringing along an inflatable laboratory. Though being inflatable, none of the buttons actually work.
Mundangerous: In the episode "Sports a Poppin", Dexter is completely incompetent in sports, and despite his best efforts lets his father down who was trying to teach him to be good at sports. Then at the end of the episode, as his dad goes back inside, a monster let loose by Dee-Dee attacks Dexter. he proceeds to fight it, using skills that obviously should have made him be more capable at the sports than he was.
Negative Continuity: Used, but not consistently. Dexter's Lab is destroyed in every other episode, but when Mandark's is destroyed in his first appearance, it actually stays that way until the next time we see the character.
Kid: Mandark ain't got nothing on y- Dexter: Do not say that name! Kid: What, Mandark? Dexter: hisses
Never Trust a Hair Tonic: Dexter makes a hair tonic for Dee-dee after she accidentally cuts off one of her pigtails. Despite repeated warnings to use only one drop, Dee-Dee uses the entire bottle. Three guesses what happens next.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Dexter is the cause of a lot of bad stuff that happens. However, bonus points go to Last But Not Beast. Dexter got one when he accidentally awakens the incredibly powerful Badaxtra trying to impress his new friends. Then Mandark gets it later when he actually tries to stop Bedaxtra as well and instead makes him grow.
Non-Standard Character Design: Dexter travels back in time to the discovery of fire in one episode. The caveman he meets and brings back is drawn in the semi-realistic style that some Hanna-Barbara cartoons used to use. (Think Jonny Quest or The Herculoids, not The Flintstones) Another episode guest-stars Dynomutt and the Blue Falcon, but their character designs actually fit in pretty well with everyone else.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: In 'Ego Trip', Mandark goes from simply antagonizing Dexter to conquering and stupidifying the entire world.
Notzilla: An entire short revolves around Dexter being transformed into a Godzilla parody while fleeing from Dee Dee who has transformed into a giant spider-monster.
Offscreen Teleportation: Dee-Dee, to ridiculous extremes. This gets a lampshade in "Dexter Is Dirty", where she actually teleports from the hallway to Dexter's laboratory with a visible twinkle just because she wore a pink towel like a genie's turban.
One Steve Limit: Averted. There are two Timmys that ever appeared in this show. One is Dexter's pet termite who can eat metal, the other is a boy who freaks out when giant George Washington and giant Abraham Lincoln pass by.
Out-of-Genre Experience: "Cracked" feels more like an episode of a slice-of-life show. It's also dialogue-heavy, and Dexter's eponymous lab isn't even mentioned.
"Filet of Soul" is a supernatural horror story about Dexter and Dee-Dee being haunted by the ghost of their dead pet goldfish.
Parental Neglect: Most of the time, Mom and Dad are actually genuinely loving towards their kids. Like a lot of parents on TV, however, they have their share of moments.
On Dexter's birthday they go to the store to buy gifts, while Dexter follows using an invisibility invetion. To his disappointment, they start filling the cart with baseballs and baby toys like plastic rings. When Dexter tries sneaking the action figure he wanted into the cart, Mom angrily picks it up and tosses it away saying he doesn't need junk - then puts another baby toy in the cart. While not true neglect, they appear oblivious to their son's age and interests.
One of the pilot shorts, Old Man Dexter, starts with Dexter wanting nothing more than to be a part of the family and feeling rejected by an arbitrary bedtime that is earlier for him than for his sister. We're treated to an oddly long sequence of him slinking away from the family (who are enjoying themselves and laughing) and looking on dejectedly.
There's another example that closes the episode "Repairanoid". Although the electrician's $40,000 bill shocks Dexter's mom at first, she quickly shifts to an agreeable tone and takes out her purse to pay — by withdrawing coins one at a time and counting them. The electrician doesn't protest.
Perspective Reversal: Dee Dee crushes a bunch of ants, because she thinks they're filthy. Dexter, who find ants interesting, shrinks them both down to ant size so Dee Dee can get a better idea of their society. After some adventures, they return to normal size, at which point Dee Dee happily thanks Dexter for showing her just how cool ants really are - while Dexter is squashing them.
Photo Doodle Recognition: One episode has Dee-Dee showing Dexter that he is a were-clown by taking a newspaper picture of the clown and drawing Dexter's glasses, hair, lab coat and boots over it.
Retcon: So many of the backstories and continuity of the characters were changed when she show was renewed, including how Dexter's parents met, and even changing Mandark's history (and how he and Dexter met) entirely. Fans usually treat these episodes as a different show entirely.
Road Runner vs. Coyote: One episode they paid homage to Road Runner and Wile. E. Coyote when Dexter tried to catch a rollerskating Dee Dee with his new bike (plus various upgrades).
Sanity Slippage: This happens a few times to Dexter. One episode memorably had him thinking he was a "little piggy" and reverted to babyhood.
What about his dad? When he's insane, he's really insane.
Those muffins that your mother bakes...
Mom too for that matter, on the occasions when her cleaning obsession and fear of germs come to the front. Most notable is one episode where Dad takes her trademark dish gloves while she's asleep, and then wont let her clean the house next day, since its Mothers Day, and the family will take care of the housework for the day. Unfortunatly, its such a messy disaster, that Mom basically has a nervous breakdown and begins to have disturbing hallucinations. It ends well though, as her Mothers Day gift is a brand new pair of gloves.
Say My Name / Rocky Roll Call: The climax of "Mandarker" slips into this, with Dexter, Dee Dee and Mandark all shouting each other's names in place of complete sentences as Dexter and Mandark work together to save Dee Dee.
Scaled Up: Toward the end of "Jeepers Creepers, Where is Peepers?", Peepers turns into a dragon and crushes the villain underfoot.
Scenery Censor: On occasions where Dexter is shown naked from the front, his naughty bits are covered by a floating leaf.
Science Hero: Dexter, though he causes at least as many problems as he solves. Or more.
Second Person Attack: Subverted in "Beard To Be Feared". Action Hank is about to punch an enemy through the POV of that enemy, and just when he's throwing the punch, it cuts to a TV showing the episode of Action Hank that Dexter was watching. Dexter is then shown wincing at the punch.
Selective Obliviousness: In 'Mock 5' Dexter's dad mentions Dexter's sister, 'Racer D' dying in a tragic soap box derby racing accident...when she's sitting right next to him, alive and well, trying to get his attention.
In "Sports a Poppin'" Dad was trying to teach Dexter how to golf, but in the later episode "Tee Party" Dad is a Small Name, Big Ego who acts like he's a pro but doesn't even know the basics. He insisted on a do-over because "the ball almost fell into this little hole".
Gets even worse, if you remember from "Sassy Come Home", he actually managed to shoot a spinning out of control Dexter right out of the air with a well-placed shot from a golf-ball.
Also, in the episode "Figure Not Included", Dexter asks for a Major Glory action figure from his mom. She tells him he she'll get him one for his birthday. However, in the episode "Surprise", when a Major Glory "somehow" manages to make it's way into Dexter's mom's cart when she goes birthday shopping for him, she takes it out, claiming that "Dexter doesn't need this junk". Though considering she and dad were filling the cart with baby toys this may have just been neglect.
Snapback: Dexter's lab and house have been destroyed many, many times.
In one episode, it was implied he actually died.
And don't forget when the earth was destroyed by meteors.
Soap Punishment: In the Missing Episode "Rude Removal", Dexter accidentally creates evil versions of himself and Dee-Dee who spout Cluster F Bombs in front of their mom. When the regular versions trap them and feel like all's well, they spot Mom with a large bar of soap waiting to wash their mouths out.
Stable Time Loop: In Ego-Trip, the robots that invaded from the future were actually created by Dexter at the end of the film with the help of the later versions of himself to destroy Dee Dee in retaliation for her being the one to (unwittingly, as usual) defeat Mandark.
It's in the outtro: "... In Dexter's Laboratory, lives the smartest boy you've ever seen, but Dee Dee blows his experiments to smithereens! There is gloom and doom while things go boom, in Dexter's lab!!!!"
Toilet Humor: When Dee-Dee and Dexter get their hands on labeling devices to mark their property, Dexter marks a gallon of apple juice as his own and drinks it all... then gets to the bathroom, only to find Dee-Dee's marked it for herself.
Mom: "Why is the carpet all wet?"
Took a Level in Badass: Dexter's dad goes from average middle class guy and sports enthusiast to daredevil stuntman in one episode of the later seasons.
In the Dynomutt Dog Wondercrossover "Dyno-Might," the original Dynomutt confronts the out-of-control Dynomutt X-90 Dexter created to replace him, but X-90 dismisses him, declaring that the "Dynomutt prototype" is no threat. Dynomutt quickly proves him wrong.
The episode "Robo-Dexo 3000" has Dexter replace his Humongous Mecha Robo-Dexo 2000 with the new-and-improved Robo-Dexo 3000. However, when the RD 3000 dismisses Dexter's plan to deal with an alien energy thief and ejects him, Dexter takes back the RD 2000. It's ultimately an Defied Trope, however: by the time Dexter arrives on the scene, the energy thief has sucked the Robo-Dexo 3000 dry.
Villain Protagonist: Dexter could get rather villainous sometimes (such as in Game For A Game and Used Ink)
Villain Episode: "Sun, Surf, And Science" is focused on Mandark, and he's portayed in a more sympathetic light than usual.
Voice Changeling: Dexter adopted this ability. Some kind of machine enabled him to copy the exact voices of others. This was in the babysitting episode, where he used the voices of the babysitter and her boyfriend to sever their relationship, so that he could move in himself.
Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Dexter can acquire whatever parts he needs to build whatever he wants without even having any suspicious shipments of mail arrive at his house. Sometimes he gets robots to assemble everything for him.
Whole Plot Reference: "Trapped with a Vengeance" is pretty much a kid-friendly version of Die Hard. "Kid-friendly" in that it takes place in a school and feature no shooting. It's still about a psychotic man trapping a small child in his school late at night an torturing him.
William Telling: Subverted when Dexter and Dee Dee go on a sibling vs. sibling game show. Dexter's just there for the prize, and starts one of the challenges before the host finishes explaining the rules, knocking an apple off of Dee Dee's head with a cream puff. He loses, as the host reveals that the challenge was to hit your sibling without making the apple fall.
You Must Be This Tall To Ride: The episode "Ewww That's Growth" is about Dexter being upset about his pint-sized height; one of the ways his stature makes his life harder is that he's denied going on a rollercoaster with his family. After he makes himself very tall with an invention of his, he is allowed onto the ride (during which he crashes painfully into a wall.)
Getting Crap Past the Radar: One episode contained a montage that included such romantic scenes as Monkey and Honeydew on a picnic, flying kites, drinking an ice cream soda and Honeydew picking fleas and ticks off Monkey's back. All well and good except in that last one Honeydew is clad only in a ''towel''.
In "Barbequor", if you look closely, Agent Honeydew was about to eat a whole hotdog, while a fellow agent stares with glee.
That whole episode was banned for gay stereotyping and a pseudo-drunk Krunk. It can still be found occasionally on Cartoon Network Video, though, and is pretty damned funny.
There is so much radar stuff going on in that episode.
Sacrificial Planet: Rasslor, the universe's greatest wrestler goes searching for worthy opponents on inhabited planets. If no one can beat him he destroys the planet.
"And so my quest has brought me to this timid little planet you call Earth, so, terrestrial heroes, can one of you quench my thirst for the divine conflict, the supreme struggle? Or will your planet be doomed to the same fate, that has befallen so many."
The short is a spoof of Marvel Two-In-One Annual #7, where the Champion of the Universe makes the very same threat to Earth's heroes.
Secret Identity: "I'm afraid you'll never be anything more than a mere monkey."
Improbable Weapon User: Val Hallen fittingly used a guitar (or as he referred to it, his "Mighty Axe") as his weapon, and it was also the source of his powers; without it he becomes physically ill and reverts from a Viking-esque god of Rock to a scrawny, short-haired nerdy-looking guy, presumably his true form.
Mundane Made Awesome: The entire series is built on this. The opening theme shows just how epic changing a lightbulb can be, and at least once they give Death Note a run for its money in the chip-eating stakes.
"Krunk stop Kat's reign of terror! Here kitty-kitty-kitty!"
Roommate Com: A spoof. Three superheroes - Major Glory, Valhallen and the Infraggable Krunk - live together in an apartment, engaging in typical sitcom hijinks in between crime fighting. The shorts even employ the same vapid laugh track that disfigured so many seventies sitcoms...
The Tooth Hurts: One episode of the Justice Friends has them trying to avoid the dentist from fear of this. It's subverted: Krunk, the Hulk Captain Ersatz, only got a tortilla chip in his tooth — which just needed a simple, painless extraction — compared to all the idiotic stuff Major Glory tries to do to his tooth. The Aesop: Go to the dentist, or it'll hurt MORE.
Valhallen: Right, Major Glory? Major Glory:(getting his teeth cleaned with a scrapper) YE-E-E-E-E-ESSS!!