Western Animation / Fantastic Four

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No need to fear, they're here!
"Reed Richards is elastic,
Sue can fade from sight,
Johnny is the Human Torch
The Thing just loves to fight!
Just call the Four! Fantastic Four!"
—From the opening theme

Fantastic Four (1994-1996) was a 1990s Animated Adaptation of Marvel Universe Super Hero team the Fantastic Four. Shown as part of the syndicated "Marvel Action Hour" along with Iron Man, it was retooled between the first and second seasons, gaining more complex writing, improved animation, and an Affably Evil Doctor Doom voiced by Simon Templeman.

Like the comics themselves, the Four in this cartoon would run into other Marvel superheroes. One episode saw the Four joining forces with Daredevil, Thor appears twice, and another episode saw them having to fight The Incredible Hulk, who was deceived by Dr. Doom (true to form). They also appeared in episodes of Spider-Man: The Animated Series (the three-part "Secret Wars" arc) and The Hulk's own cartoon (well, just the Thing; the three others went on vacation).


Tropes:

  • Action-Hogging Opening: Both seasons have this. Like everything else, it was improved in the second season.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: It appears that the anomaly that gave the Fantastic Four their powers was caused by the Silver Surfer. Heroes Reborn did the same with that version of the Fantastic Four's origin.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: The eponymous Sentry of Episode 25 ("The Sentry Sinister"), which was not so much villainous as blindly loyal. This alien robot waited for ages on a lonely island, guarding the crashed starship of its dead builders in the absence of further directives. Then, when humans discovered the island, it fought the Fantastic Four to defend its charge. They blew up the island in a volcanic eruption, causing both starship and Sentry to sink helplessly into a sea of lava, leaving it with these final reflections:
    Sentry: For the first time in all history, a Sentry has failed. Though I have not heard from my Kree masters for untold ages, I remain at my post, as a Sentry must, until the end. This is Sentry 4-5-9, making his final report... [Cessation of Existence]
  • All There in the Manual: The show generally assumes that the viewer has a knowledge of the comics, as the writers sometimes introduce bits of Marvel lore without really bothering to adequately explain them. Probably the best example is Ghost Rider's appearance in "When Calls Galactus," as he shows up out of nowhere with no buildup or real explanation as to who he is, and then immediately leaves after beating Galactus.
  • Animation Bump: Season two, done by Philippine Animation Studio Inc, went over a MASSIVE bump when compared to season one, it almost looks like the show was made during two different decades between seasons.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: In "Super Skrull", Lavina Forbes dismisses Sue's statement of the roof being destroyed during the Four's fight with Galactus by "I don't have time for fairy tales". Keep in mind that she's saying this to a quartet consisting of a man who can stretch himself, a woman who can turn invisible, her younger brother who can fly and project flames around his body, and an orange man made of rock.
  • Art Shift: Many of the characters were also more or less radically redesigned between the seasons. For one example, the Super-Skrull was made to look rather slender, more like he did in his very first comic appearances, whereas the first season depicted him more like he had since come to look in the comics, with rather more of a Heroic Build.
  • Batman Cold Open: In the Season 2 premiere, "And A Blind Man Shall Lead Them".
  • Bittersweet Ending: "When Calls Galactus". It's bitter because Johnny's new love interest Frankie has become Galactus's herald and they can never be together again - but it's sweet because Galactus is so grateful that the Four would save his life rather than leave him to die that he willingly renews his vow to spare the Earth (having previously forced them to cancel it in exchange for his help in battling Ego the Living Planet).
  • Blatant Lies: When Ben is revealed to have survived his beating at the hands of the Hulk, Johnny says (through audible tears) that he knew Ben was fine the whole time. Sure, Johnny.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The Russian dubbers apparently did not realise Wakanda was a fictional country and thought it was a mangled name of some real-life African nation. And so Black Panther became king of Uganda.
  • Bloodless Carnage: In a surprising aversion of Family-Friendly Firearms, Klaw kills T'Chaka with a real gun (though we only see the Reaction Shot from witnesses) instead of a laser pistol or something like that. Despite that, when T'Chaka's corpse is seen, there's no blood or bullet wounds.
  • Bluffing the Advance Scout: Reed tricks the Skrulls into thinking the Earth would be too dangerous to conquer by showing them clips from Ben's old monster movies.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Happened to the Thing (twice!) and to the Invisible Woman, adopting the identity "Malice".
  • Brick Joke: Done with the show's original theme song. During the opening titles, a voice remarks "That's ungrammatical" in response to another declaring "Ain't no more". With the ending credits version, the voice declares "Now that's grammatical" in response to "That's all. No more".
  • The Cameo: Stan Lee (voiced by himself), Dick Clark (voiced by himself) and President Clinton (voiced by Jim Cummings), to name a few.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Lavina Forbes doesn't appear in Season 2.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The epic of the Fantastic Four's first journey to the Skrull galaxy was told in multiple issues of the original comic, whereas here it is compressed to a single second-season episode (that also added a big robot battle scene). The result was that a lot of the characterization of the Skrull villains had to be cut, and generally the story feels rather rushed.
  • Continuity Cameo: On the superhero side of things, the X-Men, the Avengers and even the Scarlet Spider appear during Season 2. There's a shot of Juggernaut's hand emerging from the Hudson River in the Hulk episode (possibly after Gladiator threw him in there), and we get brief glimpses of Speedball, Darkhawk and Namorita as the Silver Surfer flies around in the opening of "Doomsday". Jim Hammond, the Golden Age Human Torch, also makes a cameo in "When Calls Galactus."
  • Crazy-Prepared: Black Panther takes out three of the four heroes by using specially crafted plans to either exploit their weaknesses or negate their superpowered advantages.
  • Crossover: The Fantastic Four appeared in the Incredible Hulk episode, "Fantastic Fortitude," though only the Thing has a major role. Doctor Doom (with Simon Templeman returning) appeared in "Doomed" and "Hollywood Rocks."
    • Iron Man makes a voiceless cameo in "To Battle the Living Planet." This is the only time the leads of the "Marvel Action Hour" shows had any interaction on-screen.
    • The team later appeared in Spider-Man: The Animated Series during the "Secret Wars" arc.
  • Damsel in Distress: The Cold Open of "And A Blind Man Shall Lead Them."
    Sue: This is pretty uninspired. The big, bad Doctor Doom kidnapping me to lure the Fantastic Four to your wretched little island?
    Doctor Doom: Yes, I'm so sorry to involve you in the time-worn damsel-in-distress cliche, Mrs Richards. I fear the only thing missing is the onrushing train. However, sometimes expediency outweighs originality.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Doom in season 2 was a fan of Wicked Cultured snark while in a winning position. The Damsel in Distress quote is an example. Also, when he leaves Thing in a state of And I Must Scream in Central Park during the series finale, he quips, "Do watch out for pigeons."
    • Ben and Johnny.
    • Daredevil proved to be a Deadpan Snarker of Spidey-levels in his brief team-up.
  • Deus ex Machina: When Galactus looks to feed on Earth in a desperate attempt to survive, the Fantastic Four fight him along with Thor (who met Galactus earlier) and are clearly losing. Suddenly, Ghost Rider shows up out of nowhere with no foreshadowing, brings Galactus down with his Penance Stare, and then leaves just as quickly. Even Thing lampshades how random the whole thing is.
  • Disappeared Dad: Well, step-dad, actually. The Puppet Master and Alicia got into a brief fight when he was about to crown a puppet version of himself to become king of the world. He was accidentally thrown out the window the same time the crown fell off the puppet. By the time the Fantastic Four came to her rescue, the Puppet Master "seemed to have wiped off the face of the earth."
    • Sue and Johnny's own father. The elder Storm was involved in an altercation that led to another man's death. It wasn't cold-blooded murder, but he went into hiding out of fear. He only returned to perform life-saving surgery on Sue, but subsequently was arrested by the police who anticipated he would come out of hiding when he learned his daughter is injured. He was later killed as part of a Skrull plot.
  • Dimension Lord: Psycho-Man, if only in the sense that his is the only known world in the subatomic universe he rules. Either Annihilus or Blaastar would count, once their battle for the Negative Zone is resolved.
  • Disney Death:
    • The Thing turns out to survive his beating at the hands of the Hulk in "Nightmare in Green."
    • Lady Dorma is stabbed in the chest in "Now Comes the Sub-Mariner". Reed manages to revive her using his molecular resuscitator.
    • Doctor Doom appears to be killed in "Doomsday," but was revealed to be alive in The Incredible Hulk in the episode "Doomed."
  • Distant Reaction Shot: Of Johnny's supernova attack in "Doomsday", which can be seen from the upper atmosphere.
  • Enemy Mine: To stop Ego the Living Planet, Reed and Thor go to the guy who attached his rockets to him in the first place - Galactus.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Annihilus vs Blaastar in "Behold The Negative Zone".
  • Expository Theme Tune / Theme Tune Roll Call: The first season features a relentlessly cheerful theme song with lyrics that explains our heroes' origins and their powers.
    • The theme in closing credits added the lyrics "that's all, no more".
  • Faux Affably Evil: Psycho-Man.
  • For the Evulz: Mr. Fantastic accuses Psycho-Man of using his science to oppress his people through psychological torture. Psycho-Man just shrugs it off and responds, "Call it a hobby".
  • Gender Bender: The shapeshifting Skrulls, since just as in the comic their first-appearance episode was based on, a male Skrull impersonates Sue. No emphasis is put on his crossdressing, however.
  • Godzilla Threshold: For most of Season 2, Attilan is trapped behind the Negative Barrier. While viewers see Reed constantly working on a way to free the Inhumans, "The Sinister Sentry" shows their side of the problem and how hopeless it is. With the air supply running out, Black Bolt does what he always resisted: he speaks.
  • Gone Horribly Right: After the Silver Surfer turned on him, Galactus sought a herald with no sense of morality. He selected Terrax, a vicious warlord who ultimately tries to poison him.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Namor rips off his human face, the camera shifts angles, showing his back and the horrified reactions of the onlookers in front of him.
  • Grand Finale: "Doomsday." Doctor Doom again steals the powers of the Silver Surfer and the Fantastic Four struggle to take him down.
  • How We Got Here: The Four discuss their origins at a fund-raiser held by Dick Clark in the two-part premiere "The Origin of the Fantastic Four".
  • Ignore the Fanservice: In "The Sentry Sinister" Reed and Sue are finally enjoying a vacation on a remote, romantic Pacific island. Even alone together on the beach, however, Reed can't keep his mind off work — To Sue's great annoyance.
    Reed: Just think of the technological marvels that ancient space probe might hold, darling!
    Sue: (Sighs) I guess a bikini doesn't stand a chance with you, honey?
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: Season two uses a heroic, and awesome orchestral theme.
  • Karma Houdini: Super-Skrull got away scott free despite his involvement in Franklin Storm's death.
  • Landlady: Ms. Lavina Forbes in Season 1.
  • More Than Mind Control: It's heavily implied that Psycho-Man took hold of Sue Richards/The Invisible Woman by using his science to exploit the already existing insecurities in her as a member of the team, and especially her fears about how her husband views her. Malice is therefore not entirely a creation of Psycho-Man, but Sue's darker side brought to the surface. See That Man Is Dead.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Susan Storm, obviously.
  • Mugging the Monster: A couple of guys swipe Alicia's purse in the Hulk episode, apparently not noticing the giant orange guy in the trenchcoat sitting next to her.
  • Mythology Gag: The second season intro features references to the cover of Fantastic Four #1, their first battle with Doctor Doom, their adventure in Attilan: the hidden city of the Inhumans, and their battle against the Super-Adaptoid.
  • Never Recycle Your Schemes: Averted - the Grand Finale involves Doom recycling his "steal the Silver Surfer's power" plot from season one, although he makes sure that Galactus is a long way away this time.
  • Off-Model: The first season was done by Wang Film Productions and Kennedy Cartoons, neither studio known for producing action based cartoons outside of The Disney Afternoon or Hanna-Barberanote .
    • The Thing in particular fared worse than the others, looking more like a character from Tiny Toon Adventures (Which both companies also worked on) and gaining a fifth finger in some shots.
  • Putting on the Reich: Both the Skrull and the Sub-Mariner military officers use a variant of the "Heil Hitler!" fascist salute.
  • Recap Episode: "Hopelessly Impossible", which features Impossible Man fleeing from the Super-Skrull, sees the former learn about what the Four have been through so far in the second and final season.
  • Rushmore Refacement: Near the end of the first intro, the faces on the mountain switch to the team's heads.
  • Shockwave Clap: Hulk vs Torch.
  • Shout-Out: In "Worlds Within Worlds", Ben can be seen reading a Biker Mice from Mars comic book.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Super-Skrull for the rest of Season 1 in the end of his debut in the titular episode, after he was thrown and sealed in a volcano.
  • That Man Is Dead: Malice, who is really a Brainwashed and Crazy Invisible Woman:
    Reed, Ben and Johnny: (together) Sue!
    Malice: The name's Malice. Susan Richards was a pathetic creature. Ignored at worst, patronized at best - someone who was frustrated at every turn.
  • The Starscream: Warlord Krang to Namor. Terrax to Galactus.
  • The Notable Numeral
  • This Cannot Be!: Doom's reaction to Ben overcoming his gravity-increaser.
  • Title Drop: The episode "Nightmare in Green" has a news report refer to the Hulk as a "nightmare in green".
  • Truer to the Text: As the first cartoon since 1967 to star all four members of the Fantastic Four, this show managed to restore several comic elements lost in The Fantastic Four (1978) (which replaced the Human Torch with a robot named H.E.R.B.I.E. because of rights issues with Universal attempting to make a TV movie about the former) and the Thing segments from Fred and Barney Meet the Thing (which focused solely on the Thing and didn't even acknowledge the other three members of the team).
  • Two of Your Earth Minutes: When Annihilus faces off with Blastaar.
  • Ungrateful Bitch: Lavina Forbes continues being an ungrateful grouch to the Fantastic Four regardless of how often they save the day.
  • Unstoppable Rage: The Thing to Doctor Doom in "And A Blind Man Shall Lead Them" (see Tearjerker above for why). Doom hits him with a device that magnifies gravity's effect on him - and is genuinely terrified when Ben gets right back up and keeps attacking. He even crushes Doom's hands, which are shown to be in bandages in his next appearance half a season later.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: In the episode "Behold, A Distant Star", Susan and Johnny's long-lost father Franklin Storm was killed by a Skrull plot. They both want to avenge him by attacking the Skrulls (or to kill the Skrull responsible). By the end of the episode, after the Skrull Emperor gives the team a pardon for saving his daughter from a crossfire between Skrull groups, they asked for the one who killed Franklin. The Emperor sadly points to Morrat, her daughter's lover, who tried to overthrow the Emperor. The team leaves for home, feeling much worse.
  • Villainous Crush:
    • The pretty Skrull officer Commander Lyja was very impressed with Mr. Fantastic, flirting with him and even giving him a ritual medallion to show her affection. Though of course, she believed him to be a fellow Skrull, and was quite annoyed later, when she learned the truth.
    • Doctor Doom seems to have one on Sue, especially in the three-parter that introduces him. Aided by the fact that she spends the better part of at least one of those episodes blatantly flirting with him—Albeit only to keep him distracted while the other team members escape from his dungeons.
    • And of course, Namor and Sue. She even hints that she might reciprocate the feeling a little... Though that might just be to annoy Reed.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: The Thing and the Human Torch, as always, are friends who tend to get into arguments and quarrels for the hell of it.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In "Behold, A Distant Star", a woman was shocked that the Invisible Woman prevented her teammates from hitting her father. A man pointed out the reason why.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Netflix lists its streaming of The Marvel Action Hour under Iron Man's name.
  • You Killed My Father:
    • Ulysses Klaw killed T'Challa's father when he was young.
    • Morrat had Susan and Johnny's father killed in a Skrull plot.

See Fantastic Four for a list of all the other works with this title.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/WesternAnimation/FantasticFour