Western Animation: Dino Riders

That is awesome.

The home planet of the Valorians, a peaceful race of somewhat Elven telepathic humans, has been conquered by an evil race of lizard-, frog-, bug-, and fish-men called the Rulons. Four hundred Valorian survivors use an experimental Time Travel device to go back in time and escape, but they inadvertently drag a Rulon ship back with them. Stuck in prehistoric times, they fight each other by strapping lasers and BFGs to dinosaurs.

Holy shit, that is awesome.

Best known today for being the benefactor of Memetic Mutation (see the sentence immediately above). The dinosaur toys were eventually recycled (stripped of their armor) as a series of straight, though articulated, dinosaur models. Compare Dinosaucers, Extreme Dinosaurs, and Dino Squad for more dumb fun with dinosaurs.

Tropes in this series:

  • Amplifier Artifact: The AMPs (Amplified Mental Projector), which the Dino-Riders use to communicate with and befriend the dinosaurs.
  • Art Evolution: Between the first two episodes by Hanho Heung-Up, the rest of the series by AKOM and the Ice Age special by Island Animation.
  • Artistic License Paleontology:
    • They had dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus rex and Diplodocus coexisting, which were separated by millions of years' time.
    • The line of toys included Dimetrodon and Placerias, which were not dinosaurs and the former was long extinct before the first dinosaurs came into being.
    • Also, Woolly mammoths, saber-toothed cats, and giant sloths are thrown into the mix. These were collected from the Ice Age and brought back via time travel. Yeah.
      • The lineup also featured an entelodont (referred to as "killer warthog"), which was already extinct before the Quaternary period let alone the Ice Age.
    • Brontosaurus. Never mind at that time it should be known as Apatosaurus, it was at the centre of a two-part storyline that had the Dino-Riders and Rulons battling over it because it was "the largest dinosaur in the world." A great idea in concept, and to an eight-year old it was an absolutely epic story, but considering the Dino-Riders made casual use of a Diplodocus, which was bigger than Brontosaurus to begin with, they really dropped the ball. Should've made it a Brachiosaurus.
      • As far as doing research goes, Diplodocus was lengthier than Brontosaurus but nowhere near as heavy.
    • The above mentioned Brontosaurus was not the only dinosaur depicted out of scale. For example, the Deinonychus was made larger and bulkier than the real one (who could hardly have carried a human on its back) but, amusingly, about the same size as the much-later-discovered Utahraptor. Kentrosaurus is also too big, about the same size as Stegosaurus. On the other end of the spectrum, the Dino Riders Ankylosaurus was tiny compared to its real life counterpart and Quetzalcoatlus is the same size as Pteranodon.
    • The greatest irony is that at the time they were released, the toys for the franchise were considered some of the best, most realistic depictions of dinosaurs available anywhere. Not so much these days... They were fully articulated, unlike most dinosaur toys, so that was cool.
      • Oddly, the distinctive-looking T. rex figure appears to have gained another very weird life as the inspiration for Rex in Toy Story!
  • Big Bad: Emperor Krulos
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: The Rulon dinosaurs, as a result of the Rulons using Brain Boxes to control them.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Dinosaurs are merely annoyed by laser beams. Even ones that can rip through their metal armor.
    • One episode features a Plesiosaurus swimming in lava. Seriously!
  • Disability Superpower: Mind-zei, who can "see" without eyesight.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs
  • Evil Sounds Raspy: With a name like Rasp, what do you expect?
  • Five-Man Band
  • Frickin' Laser Beams
    • Even two different types of them: The "thermo lasers", which could burn through metal, and the "impulse lasers", which were little more effective than rubber bullets.
  • Galactic Conqueror: Krulos in his own era, as emperor of the Rulon empire.
  • Healing Hands: Serena's specialty.
  • Human Aliens: The Valorians
  • It's Pronounced Tro-PAY: Fans of the toy line will never forget the commercial announcer's pronunciation of "dip-lo-DOE-cus".
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The stegosaurus carry many missile launchers.
  • MacGuffin: The STEP (Space Time Energy Projector) Crystal, which the Valorians used to travel through time, and which Krulos and the Rulons want.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The Brain Boxes, the mind control devices the Rulons used to control dinosaurs resembled metal masks.
  • Merchandise-Driven: One of the biggest examples of this — the reason for the production of the animated series was so that Tyco could launch a Dino-Riders toy line. Oddly, in some markets there was no animated series, or there was just a one-off special. Some markets (France in any case) had a comic book.
  • Mind Control: The villains used "Brain Boxes" to control their mounts, unlike the protagonists who simply befriended them... by projecting foreign thoughts into their brains.
    • The Dino-Riders respected dinosaurs as living creatures, at least. To the Rulons, they were only war machines.
  • Never Say "Die": Averted.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Whenever a Frickin' Laser Beam actually manages to wound someone.
  • Petting Zoo People: The Rulon Empire consists of several alien species, all of which resemble animals: Cobras, crocodiles, hammerhead sharks, manta rays, ants, locusts, and a toad.
  • Ptero Soarer: The Dino-Riders had Quetzalcoatlus (Yungstar's mount of choice), Pterodactylus, and several small Rhamphorhynchus which came with the Brontosaurus set. The Rulons had Pteranodon, and as late addition also a Quetzalcoatlus. A leopard-patterned one.
    • Serena flew a Pteranodon with a Quetzalcoatlus saddle.
  • Punny Name: Almost every Valorian character.
  • Raptor Attack: The Dino-Riders and the Rulons have Deinonychus among their forces. Until the introduction of a Rulon Quetzalcoatlus at a quite late point within the toy line's run, it was therefore the only species that was ridden by both factions. (If you only count the toys, and not the series or the comics.)
  • Remember the New Guy: Happened a lot with both Dino-Riders and Rulons as the toy line expanded to include more characters. Most notable example; the Commandos, who didn't appear at all in early episodes but were featured prominently in the last few and starred in the Ice Age special.
  • Rule of Cool: The entire premise!
  • Shark Man: Hammerhead, Mako and several unnamed Sharkmen are part of the Rulon empire.
  • Snake People: Rasp, Sidewinder and whole bunch of several unnamed snakemen.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: As the show's short run went on, episodes seemed to centre more and more around the GI Joe-style Commando team.
  • Spiritual Successor: For the toyline Imaginext Dinosaurs.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Serena is, in fact, not the only female Dino Rider. Just the only one you won't miss if you blink.
  • The Starscream: Rasp, and quite a few others. One episode's whole premise involved Krulos injured and near death and the three main Starscreams feuding amongst themselves to take over.
  • Stock Dinosaurs: Averted. While well-known genera such as Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops are present, there are plenty of Seldom-Seen Species like Kentrosaurus and Edmontonia.
  • Time Travel
  • Too Dumb to Live: Llahd (due to his constantly making dumb decisions that got him caught) and Yungstar (the previous AND his hot-headedness!).
  • Tyrannosaurus rex: Krulos' ride of choice, of course.
  • Weaponized Animal