Western Animation: Dragon Booster
(2004-2006) was a Canadian-created show that aired on the Toon Disney
network in the U.S. about a Farm Boy
named Artha Penn who becomes the legendary Dragon Booster, a hero who stopped a war between dragons and humans 3000 years before the present, and Artha must stop another from occurring by riding a dragon against other Dragon Riders
in a series of Twisted Metal
-style racing combat events. In the way of his quest is the evil Word Paynn, who seeks to cause a new dragon-human war, then dominate whatever happens to be left of the world afterwards.
The show was originally planned for five seasons, but did not get beyond the three that were commissioned due to no more being ordered (probably due to lack of viewership). The company that made this series went on to do the marginally more successful Storm Hawks
The show does have a surprisingly resilient fanbase although it helps that this was made by former Mainframe workers.
This show provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Word, who sends his son on dangerous missions (and lets his crew take the bad image generated by those missions that involve stealing gear/dragons or threatening people). He shows no regard to what happens to his loyal son during Writh Booster, or the "Return of Drakkus" two-parter where he attacked the Penn team only slightly more than Moordryd and Cain.
- Arguably Connor, since he abandoned his sons in the pilot, and was only found out during the Return of Drakkus to be Stealth Mentor-ing them through the guise of Mortis. One of his kids is ten, and as Mortis he knew what they were getting into. It seemed like a bit of the whole "sacrifices must be made for the greater good" thing.
- All There in the Manual: A lot of Word of God went into the forums when cancellation became imminent, but even before then a lot of stuff about the first war was told since it might not have made it in anyways:
- All the different colored crews were different empires 5000 years ago. The Black Empire started the war, but then turned around to help the Dragon Booster end it (Foreshadowing Moordryd's clear eventual Heel-Face Turn).
- Everything we know about Artha and Lance's mom and a bit about Zulay (Moordryd's mom) was in an un-aired flashback called "Episode Zero" by the creators.
- Anti-Villain: Moordryd Paynn
- Beam-O-War: What happens when two opposing mag streams meet.
- Broken Aesop: In the episode The Mouth that Roared, a blatant The Boy Who Cried Wolf story. Except the boy in question is Lance Penn, who aside from occasionally being immature, is probably one of the most moral characters in the whole series and has never shown a habit of lying. And he never lies in the episode either, he's telling people about a black-market gear dealer who in fact does exist—it's just that the guy is good at hiding and never shows up when Lance brings people to see (he's even smart enough to call the police the second he finds out!). So, in one episode we get Police Are Useless and People Over Ten Are Useless.
- How useless are they? Instead of scoping the area thoroughly for evidence, they just hunker down wherever Lance was hanging out and wait a few minutes. If the guy doesn't show up, the kid must have been lying! despite the fact that one of the racers is using gear that must have come off the black market and this kid says he saw a black market guy, he must be lying!
- Though the first big one of the series was in Pride of the Hero. It starts with Artha's ego yet again getting over-inflated. Then we see Fan-Favorite Anti-Villain Moordryd suddenly stopping Wraith Dragons after what looked like a fight with his Big Bad father. While we admit it seems a bit abrupt for a Heel-Face Turn, at least Artha's getting called out for the fact that the main reason he doesn't trust Moordryd is because he's jealous. In order to make a point, and possibly because he sense the good in him, Beau then lets Moordryd get on his back, shocking Artha into admitting that maybe there is good in Moordryd...only for Moordryd to whip out an Artifact of Doom and spill his whole evil plan.
- The Aesop gets slightly repaired when Artha gets through to Moordryd, with Artha admitting he was wrong and there is a hero inside Moordryd. The episode ends with Artha telling Moordryd "the dragon chose you too", hinting Moordryd may have a good side... that we don't see much of for another 8 episodes. What.
- By the Power of Grayskull!: "Release The Dragon!" for Artha Penn/Dragon Booster, "Unleash The Shadow!" for Moordryd Paynn/Shadow Booster.
- Cash Cow Franchise: Subverted. It was intended to be one, judging by how much merchandise was put up on the website. However, almost none of it was ever actually released, and the DS game was a commercial failure.
- But also Screwed by the Network, since after the thirteenth episode, Jetix never aired what was happening in newer ones in commercials outside of "new episode at day/time." It instead showed generic commercials that really didn't get across any of the show's plot points and seemed more oriented towards the 7-10 crowd, instead of the 11-15 who liked it. It didn't come across as a show with any sort of plot-arc form the commercials, many of which did not even feature Artha in-armor (making it seem like it was just a racing show).
- The Chosen One: Artha Penn
- After it is revealed that there are four more Boosters (Shadow, Energy, Power, and Fire), it seems that this extends to Moordryd, Lance (or some new guy if Lance was deemed "too young"), Parm, and Kitt. They're just...slightly less chosen than Artha. see We Are Team Cannon Fodder
- Conflict Ball: Typically avoided by the fact that the 12 Down-City crews are implied to have power struggles despite the governing body of The Council of Twelve. However, a lot of them seem weirdly eager to fight even when it's obviously a trap (the only time a semi-convincing argument was made was in Cain's Mutiny and even then it seemed weird that the Dragon Flares and Army of the Dragon joined the Shadow Booster within a one-minute speech).
- Defeat Means Friendship: Sort of. In the episode it happens, yeah, but some crews, especially the above mentioned Flares and Army, seem to forget it. This was especially jarring since Wulph made one hell of a speech about how his crew values teamwork above all else and Word clearly doesn't protect his own and therefore they cannot work together any more.
- This is later lampshaded by Kitt who notes that the Army switch sides all the time (no reason was given for the Dragon Flares, though).
- Played with in the final episode with Artha and Moordryd: Moordryd could beat Artha and was willing to, but his father's insistence on cheating against the already-injured Artha pushed Moordryd into saving Artha so they could tie the match instead.
- Dragon Rider: Not the winged flying kind- the racing kind.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Moordryd becomes a good poster-boy for this later. He's horrified by his father's plan in "Wraith Booster" once he see what it really does, gets mad at Arrmeggadonn for calling his best friend Cain a nobody, and while he was willing to take advanatge Artha's injuries to win at Drag Ball, he refused to let his father use a wraith dragon to cheat against him.
- Fantastic Racism: This crops up between humans and dragons sometimes, one episode even worked to reveal and remedy the human heroes' own racism towards dragons.
- Faux Action Girl: Kitt, touted as being the best racer in Dragon City, falls by the wayside as the series goes on.
- Pyyrah was never really touted as this, but as the first female crew leader viewers met, something was to be expected. She just was there as a convenient Heel-Face Revolving Door (mostly heel by the third season).
- Chute and Marianis only really avoided this because they were only important in one episode each and ignored after.
- Marianis showed up to fight in the background, and seemed to do a good job with it.
- Follow the Leader
- Foreshadowing: In ''The Horn of Libris" Beau draws Red, Blue, Green, and Black energy (aka the four empires that helped the original Dragon Booster end the first war) from Kitt, Lance, Parm, and Moordryd. As soon as people knew there was a Black amulet, the existence of extra Boosters was a given (even though the names were only confirmed later and only Moordryd became one pre-cancelation).
- "Freaky Friday" Flip: Happens to Artha and Beau in the episode "Changelings". Doubles as a Crowning Momentof Funny.
- Especially since Beau never talked as Artha, resulting in some great miming. Thought it might have been awesome, since Beau usually took every opportunity to embarrass Artha and could have really done some damage.
- Future Slang: A little. "Drac" mean cool and "scales" seemed to be a stand in for most swear words. Also, money was "drakkals" and distance was measured in "drakometers".
- Heel-Face Revolving Door: Pyyrah. She was introduced as nice and friendly (face) and was mind-controlled into being aggressive and mean (heel via Mind Control). While sometimes shown to be reasonable and support the protagonists, she still tricked Kitt to get the Furox (season 1), was always swayed by Word's promises, and in every major Conflict Ball fight within the Down City Council, she was always one the "wrong" side (thought by her last appearance in Cain's Mutiny she and the council all made nice...somehow).
- Horse of a different color: The dragons of the series though some are more raptor like and others are bull like.
- "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Moordryd has a successful one with a brainwashed Dragon Booster...despite not actually knowing who the Dragon Booster is. Bravo.
- Artha had two earlier ones with Beau when Beau was brainwashed.
- Idiot Ball / Idiot Plot: Sadly common, usually so Artha can look more heroic and less This Loser Is You. Memorable ones are Three Times a Hero (scheduling conflict), The Stand (taking free gear from a shady new corporation when your Big Bad is a gear maker), and The Mouth That Roared (was there seriously that little reason to trust Lance?)
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Moordryd, which is why he's the Ensemble Darkhorse...it's just that the heart of gold part only comes out when he doesn't need to be the episode's villain.
- Just a Kid: With Lance it's usually averted unless it's needed for the plot, despite the fact that in all the other episodes he's going around with the group. Ironically the best known use of this phrase in regards to Lance came from Moordryd.
- Lovable Coward: Cain flits between this and Dirty Coward. He's not very brave, but allows Moordryd to drag him into danger out of loyalty (by episode 27, it's confirmed that they are best friends, and both acknowledge it). He is often the last person to abandon Moordryd, and usually only does so in situations that show the entire crew outside of Moordryd running or for a gag.
- Made even funnier since he's the most physically intimidating member of the Dragon Eyes, especially in comparison to Moordryd, who almost pushes Waif-Fu when he fights.
- Mook Lieutenant: Cain (he answers to Moordyrd, who answers to Word).
- My God, What Have I Done?: While it did not happen in show due to cancellation, fans on the official forum all agreed that they explicitly did not want Moordryd's obviously-going-to-happen Heel-Face Turn to include a situation where he said "What have I done" in any way shape or form. Since the series was Screwed by the Network, we'll never know, but he seemed to be shaping up to be able to do without it.
- Ironically stated by Artha in the episode "Faster than Fear" when he succumbs to the Shadow Track's illusions.
- My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: Artha and Mordred are learning the mag claw techniques and use them to compete against each other
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: What are Artha's powers again?
- Winning, mainly.
- Gets lessened once Artha begins to release the human, training in mag claw.
- But then he and Moordryd are overpowered, and they just pull mag claw techniques out of nowhere instead or random ones.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Oh where do we even begin with Artha?
- Odd Name Out: Of the five main characters, we have Artha, Kitt, Parmon, Moordryd, and...Lance.
- It fits with the Theme Naming with Artha and Moordryd, but just the fact that it's spelled normal can be considered weird.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Beau. His real name is Beaucephalis.
- Our Dragons Are Different
- Out of Focus: Essentially everyone in the third season who isn't Artha or Moordryd.
- Parental Abandonment: Only Artha, Lance and Moordryd have on-screen parents, and Parm is the only other character who mentioned them. Kitt was apparently abandoned, though, according to Word of God.
- Not quite. The creator revealed that she sometimes sneaks out to see them, and that they really do love her.
- Plot Tailored to the Party: Thanks to Artha, this is required to make the other crew members plot-relevant.
- Was the most noticeable with Lance, who was relevant (but not the hero) of Wraith Booster because the rest of the team was Brainwashed/frozen, the "hero" of another episode ripped off of the "Boy Who Cried Wolf" (except he's telling the truth the whole time, and the rest of the time just insulted Artha. Since so much of the fanbase kept getting annoyed with Artha, the last was considered a good thing. Of course, he was just 10, so it was a bit justified (YMMV).
- Sealed Evil In Acan: Going by the end of Faster than Fear, it seems that Armageddon was sealed in the Shadow Track, most likely how his spirit is still around 5000 years later.
- Season Finale: The Return of Drakkus, which incidentally was the last episode of season 2 and the first of season 3 thanks to being a 2-parter.
- Secret Identity Apathy: Near the season 3 finale Artha and his racing rival Moordryd both discover each other's super identity as the Dragon Booster and Shadow Booster, respectively, but both agree to keep it a secret between them (and their respective companions, of course) since that knowledge could get them kicked out of a racing competition for the city's prestigious racing academy, and each of them have made enemies in their super identities.
- Sequel Hook: Not so much a hook as a blatant announcement in the last episode of a new series... which never eventuated.
- Shock and Awe: Dragons can control and generate mag energy. Humans can only wield it once they train in the old ways.
- The Smurfette Principle: Kitt, and probably most of the other female characters.
- Timm Style
- Tournament Arc: The whole third (and final) season was essentially a series of events to see who got into the prestigious racing academy.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Word Payyn plays with this:
- On the one hand, people buy gear from him, and clearly nothing has been successfully brought against him, since he's not in jail and has apparently never been arrested. Kwake trusted him simply because he had no PROOF of Word being evil, despite several people stating that he was.
- But on the other, a lot of Down City (or at least the people we see) distrust him, though some just seem to distrust him due to his son Moordryd heading the thieving Dragon Eyes (unaware that Word tells them to do a lot of that). Essentially, the Dragon Eyes take the PR fall so Word remains just trustworthy enough.
- And again, that's only Down and Mid City. We're unsure of how Sun City and most of the Academy view him. He might play the trope straight there.
- Wacky Racing
- Weapon of Choice: A lot of characters were known for using certain weapons or gear (and a lot of it comes in stock footage):
- Artha first used a Simple Staff but upgraded to his Jakk-Stick (which he mostly used as a Simple Staff anyways, since the hacking powers were used in a Plot Tailored to the Party)
- Moordryd's energy whip, sometimes traded for a Simple Staff
- Kitt using Red Acceleration Gear on her dragon in almost ever race
- Rivett used an odd little device on his wrist to shut down other electronics and it also had a built in Cloaking Device
- Lance started being seen with a Flash Stick
- Phistus' huge war-hammer
- We Are Team Cannon Fodder: Everyone on Penn Racing Team except Artha and Beau. In the third season, it extended to essentially all the racing crews as well, whose only roles were to be mind-controlled and be beaten up by Artha and Moordryd on the track.
- While the latter made sense with Wulph, as the Army of the Dragon crew was shown to work best in teamwork-oriented plans and fell apart when on their own, Khatah supposedly had graduated from the Academy (but of Fridge Logic as to why he'd want to go again) and built up as great (if stoic) and Phistus was the leader of the Down City Council (if a frequent Worf Effect sufferer).
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Moordryd, to the point where it's actually the main reason he's a villain—to please his Big Bad father.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Artha is called out rather often, but a lot of times it's subverted because he was actually right despite being so for the wrong reasons, such as in Pride of the Hero (he was right that Moordryd was tricking everyone, but he mostly thought that because he was jealous of Moordryd) and Misjudged (he was right that Word was using Kwake, but had previously proven himself to be bad at judging things to the same person).
- Played straight in Artha the Drac where he actually apologizes for his ego after it gets him in huge trouble.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The Furox/Samurox bonemarks, which not only cause the user and his/her dragon to become possessed by the spirits of ancient dragons, but can also draw certain people to them via Mind Control.
- The Worf Effect: Phistus: Leader of Down City Council. Big, hulking, muscly Badass-looking guy. Shown to be very intelligent and not just Dumb Muscle...and gets his butt handed too him ALL. THE. TIME.
- Extended to every non Penn-Crew racer not named Moordryd by the third season (except for spotlight episodes).