Jem was a 1980s 65-Episode Cartoon (eventually) about the adventures of a rock star, Jem, and her band, the Holograms. Jem (not to be confused with the real pop star of the same name), the pink-haired, outrageous but kind-hearted rock star, was in reality Jerrica Benton, a young career woman. Jerrica is in charge of Starlight Music, a music label; the Starlight Foundation, a charitable organization; and Starlight House, a home for orphaned and foster girls that the foundation provides funding for, all founded by her deceased parents.Jerrica learns that shortly before her father's death, he created a computer system called "Synergy", which has the power to create Holograms and other illusions. Jerrica uses Synergy and a pair of hologramprojectingearrings to turn into Jem. The only other people who know Jerrica and Jem are the same person are the members of her band, the Holograms, which consists of her younger sister, Kimber (keyboards), and their two adopted sisters Aja (lead guitar) and Shana (originally drums, then bass guitar). Later, the band gains a new member, Raya, who took over for Shana on drums.Most of the trouble the group faces comes in the form of Eric Raymond, a power-hungry Corrupt Corporate Executive who was Mr. Benton's former partner in the record company. His "discovery", a band called the Misfits (not to be confused with the real band) consisting of Pizzazz (guitar/vocals), Roxy (bass) and Stormer (keytar), is a group of self-described "bad girls from the wrong side of the tracks," who are constantly causing trouble to get attention and/or trying to ruin Jem. Reacting to the publicity that the Holograms get from adding Raya, they also pick up a new member, Jetta (saxophone). (Ironically, the Misfits were better received by Real Life critics than the Holograms.)The third season switched things up by adding a new rival band, The Stingers. This band consisted of charismatic Riot (vocals), conniving Rapture (bass), and the seductive Minx (synthesizer). Riot was the only male lead singer, and his interest in Jem (and only Jem) led to even more drama for the Holograms, as did Minx's insistence on chasing Rio. Pizzazz of the Misfits was interested in him too, but his lack of reciprocating deepened their rivalry with the Holograms as well.Originally, the series was created for a line of dolls made byHasbro. The series combined music, adventure, fashion, and Soap Opera-esque drama which gave the show its own appeal. The show originally premiered as a serial of minisodes roughly ten minutes in length that told the origin of the show and ran during a block of other short shows with a male-oriented audience. The ratings were high enough that the show was picked up as a full half-hour series in its own right and the original serial was reworked into a four-part pilot. Though the doll line was pretty much shut out by the competing Barbie toyline, the series was popular enough that it was allowed to finish its 65 episode run even after the toyline was cancelled. The cartoon frequently reran in syndication, most notably on the USA Cartoon Express throughout the early 90s. The Hub has started to play episodes of this series as of May 28, 2011, and the show has been released twice on DVD in the US (once by Rhino, who didn't finish, and later a complete series by Shout Factory).Compare Kidd Video, another show centered on 80s music; Hannah Montana, another show based on a pop star with a secret identity; and Christina Aguilera, who would come along many years after the show and look eerily like Jem.
This show provides examples of:
'80s Hair: Pretty much everyone. Most of the main characters have hair larger than their own heads. Notably the Misfits, Jem, and most of the Holograms.
Adaptation Dye-Job: For some reason, the Jem doll always had blond hair even when other similar looking characters had pink hair. The realistic-style promotional art (such as this◊) gave her pink hair with blonde bangs.
Pizzazz was always depicted in doll and animated form with bright green hair and accessories. However, in the R1 DVD release by Rhino, the original masters were used - which had not been properly color timed and depicted Pizzazz with a dull olive brown instead. To cover this, promotional art with the character for the DVD release also recolored the greens to browns. The Shout Factory release (and the Hub broadcasts) used the broadcast masters, which had already been correctly color timed.
Alliterative Name: The record company The Misfits belong to, owned by Harvey Gabor: Initially named Misfits Music, Eric buys it from Harvey with the intention of renaming it Raymond Records. In order to secure The Stingers, however, he gives them half the company, which is now named Stingers Sound.
Aloha Hawaii: The episode "Hot Time in Hawaii", where for some reason Jem and the Holograms and The Misfits are in some sort of rock band decathlon.
An Aesop: Practically any episode centered on the Starlight Girls, but Jem and the Holograms themselves also occasionally learned lessons.
Black Shirt: Clash, the obsessive Misfits groupie that dreams of becoming a Misfit herself. Since she can't sing or perform, the Misfits just keep her around to cause havoc.
Blatant Lies: After Jetta's lies about being British royalty are found out, she makes up ANOTHER lie about being the twin sister of a British lord and they were separated at birth. Pizzazz promptly tells her to shut up.
Blond Guys Are Evil / Blondes are Evil: The Stingers, Riot in particular. Rapture and Minx have their moments of humanity and are driven by ambition and fame, but Riot is clearly all about scheming and trying to make money. That is, until we learn his past...
Breaking the Fourth Wall: A non-comedic example. Done by several characters in "The Day the Music Died", the only episode in the entire series to do this. At one point Jem asks Riot who was he talking to.
Break the Haughty: In Straight From The Heart, the Holograms are introduced to a young new designer, Regine Cesaire. She's a nice girl, and talented, but the problem is that she's young, emotional, and inexperienced at working with other professionals. She designs some new clothes for an upcoming concert, but the Holograms tell her that, while they do like it, they don't feel as if they're appropriate for the concert. Regine, of course, feels insulted, and believes that Shana is actually jealous of her talent. Countess DuVoisin even explains to her that "sometimes our favorite designs are not always appropriate". The Stingers convince Regine to design for them, but once her "novelty" wears off they decide to keep her around just to screw with her head. Regine returns to the Holograms in tears, but they show no hard feelings towards her, and wear the outfits she designed in a show dedicated to her style.
Brother Chuck: The initial few episodes featured Mrs. Bailey, an older woman who seemed to help maintain Starlight House for Jerrica, but almost immediately she vanishes completely without mention, or warning, and the Holograms are shown to be running the place completely alone.
Butt Monkey: Stormer to the Misfits. Any time she says or does something that does not agree with Pizzazz, Roxy, or Jetta, they'll act like they just swallowed poison.
By the Power of Grayskull!: Jerrica's catchphrase, "Showtime, Synergy!" is the command to turn her into Jem. She reverts back to Jerrica by saying "Show's over, Synergy."
Cassandra Truth: In "The Princess and the Singer", Jem attempts to reveal Regent Lexa's kidnapping plot by exposing her in public. The Regent simply laughs at her and nobody believes her.
Call Back: Ba Nee gets into trouble by slipping into a bear enclosure in "The Jem Jam part 1", forcing a rescue by drummer Randy James, who Ba Nee believes is her father. She then gets kidnapped in "A Father Should Be..." by Andy Martin (who Ba Nee also thinks is her father) and is locked away in a cage in an abandoned zoo. She's rescued here by Martin O'Carolan, who this time is her real father. Apparently Ba Nee, zoos, and people whom she think are her father don't seem to mix.
Catch Phrase: "Showtime Synergy!" for Jerrica, "Outrageous!" for Kimber.
The Celebrity Lie: Jetta, who is British and from a poor family, is constantly lying about being aristocratic and knowing the Queen.
Chinese Girl: Aja has some of these characteristics, but her background is rarely mentioned since she's clearly American born.
Though it is mentioned in one episode that she knows Mandarin.
Clark Kenting: Eric and the Misfits' failed attempts at trying to find out who Jem really is despite the fact she clearly looks and sounds like Jerrica. Of course, Jerrica can pull this off because Synergy can (and does) show Jem and Jerrica in the same place at the same time.
Commercial Break Cliffhanger: A holdover from the show's original format of ten minute segments sandwiched in between boys shows, these types of cliffhangers were intended to make sure boys didn't flip the channel over when the "girly" show started.
Con Man: Or rather, woman, as is the case with Rapture.
Convection Schmonvection: the episode where they go to Hawaii, Kimber gets tied up and left in an erupting volcano by Zipper, being that close to lava, falling in would be the least of her worries, not to mention rescuing her would have been next to impossible without specialized heat suits.
Corrupt Corporate Executive: Eric Raymond can pretty much buy his way out of anything - something he flat out says after he avoids jail time during the pilot for some of the blatantly illegal acts he commits.
"It's amazing what lawyers can do...when you pay them enough."
Counterpoint Duet: There are a few between Jem and the Holograms and The Misfits, like "Click Clash", "It's Workin' Out/It's Doin' Me In", and "Bad Influence". "Believe/Don't Believe" is one between Jem and the Holograms and The Stingers.
Crossing the Burnt Bridge: In the Starbright episodes, Jem and the Holograms have ultimately had too much of Eric's abuse while working on they movie, so they quit. Then they learn that Ba Nee, one of the foster girls at Starlight House needs an experimental laser surgery procedure costing $250,000 to avoid becoming blind, so they have no choice but to come back. Eric even got Jerrica to agree to becoming his assistant as a condition to let Jem and the Holograms back.
Cut Lex Luthor a Check: It's repeatedly shown that the Misfits are genuinely popular and successful musicians in their own right. If they weren't so fixated on one-upping Jem and the Holograms, they'd save themselves endless frustration and humiliation and would really have nothing to complain about.
Daddy's Girl: Pizzazz... sort of. Her father substitutes money for genuine affection. He eventually cuts her off.
Dark Reprise: Take It Or Leave It, when first used in The Stingers Hit Town, is meant to demonstrate that the Stingers have no problem being callous and selfish. When used in Riot's Hope, it's to show that Riot's father is unashamedly disappointed in him despite his success, and that he'll probably never accept him for who he is.
Jem and the Holograms record a song called "There's A Melody Playing", which not only is a Silly Love Song in and of itself, but actually describes the trope a bit. The Misfits steal the master tape and rerecord the music track with their own vocals and lyrics into "There Ain't Nobody Better", which is about Pizzazz boasting about how awesome she is.
Downer Ending: "Video Wars"; Clash has a chance at a new life when she pretends to be a different person in order to make an embarrassing tour video of Jem, in hopes of getting made a full-on member of the Misfits. The plot fails and the Misfits reject her. Despite being pissed off at her, Jem offers to give Clash a second chance by pointing out how the Misfits don't care about her and only let her hang around them so she can do their dirty work. Clash rejects Jem's olive branch and denounces Jem/proclaims that the Misfits ARE her friends. Only to find the Misfits are in their van and driving away, with Pizzazz outright telling her to get lost when she begs her to stop so that she can leave with them. Add to the fact that this is the last (speaking) appearance of Clash in the series, creates a mega downer ending for the character (basically rejected by her idols and having purposely re-burnt her bridges with Jem after Jem stuck her neck out and forgave her).
"Father's Day" and "A Change of Heart" are also depressing episodes, especially when you consider that Pizzazz and Minx are both screwed over by the Holograms and their self-righteousness and, whether deserved or not, it's pretty sad.
Dramatic Irony: Regarding Video and Clash. Video has mentioned that maintaining her career as a filmmaker is difficult work, and that she has to make each film top the other. Clash refuses to believe the Misfits don't care about her and performed a Heel Face Door Slam of her own doing in Video Wars. The one person Video has to outdo is herself, and Clash is her own worst enemy. Despite their bickering, they're Not So Different.
Dreadful Musician: Clash, one of the reasons Pizzazz won't actually let her in The Misfits. She is found out as Jem's impersonator in "One Jem Too Many" when she tries to sing "I Believe In Happy Endings" and is terrible at it. The Limp Lizards are, as well, demonstrated in their song "Broken Glass". This only seems to extend to their lead vocalist, however, as they seem to have a following, and are quite competent when backing up Kimber and Stormer on instruments.
Eiffel Tower Effect: Whenever Jem and the Holograms visit another country. The very first thing pointed out in "Adventure in China" is The Great Wall, the Eiffel Tower itself in "Kimber's Rebellion" when they shoot "Twilight in Paris" in, well, Paris, and Big Ben in the episode "Britrock" and song "Between Me and You".
Establishing Character Moment: When Pizzazz and the rest of the Misfits ride into Eric's office and launch into "Outta My Way", you know that she will do just about anything to get what she wants.
Even Bad Girls Love Their Daddies: Pizzazz's attention grabbing is usually an attempt to get affection from her father. After her mother abandoned her, her dad didn't know how to give her the love she needed, so he spoiled her, and is sadly aware that he's somewhat responsible for the way she is now. And Clash is genuinely adored by her father, and vice versa, although he's almost as big a jerk as she is (to other people). Pizzazz originally believed that "no dad adores their kid", until she saw Clash and her dad together and was visibly shocked.
Even Evil Has Standards: Eric Raymond usually comes up with nefarious schemes that puts Jem and the Holograms' lives in danger. But in The Princess and the Singer, when he finds out the plot to assassinate Princess Adriana (with Jem and the Holograms being collateral damage) he and the Misfits rush to the scene to try and stop it.
In Last Resorts, Jem and the Holograms were doing a concert to raise money to save a resort from foreclosure and Eric Raymond wanted to buy it. Eric might have no qualms about scaring people from staying in the resort but his reaction when he learned the banker would go as far as gravely injure the Holograms suggests he doesn't approve this.
Evil Gloating: The Misfits' song "Trapped" is definitely this trope.
When Jem and Riot get shipwrecked in "The Day the Music Died", their respective bands can no longer play properly. Pizzazz absorbs the rest of the members of The Holograms and The Stingers, turning The Misfits into a supergroup of sorts. They then sing "Top Of The Charts", with Pizzazz actually saying the line "Pardon me while I gloat!"
Fake Band: The Holograms, the Misfits and, later, the Stingers.
Fashion Dissonance: Let's just say that there is no way for anyone to not know this show was made in the 80s. On the upside, since the show was actually set in the music industry at the height of MTV's popularity, it's actually frighteningly accurate for the type of characters it portrays.
Femme Fatalons: Both the Misfits and Holograms, as well as a few other characters.
Finagle's Law: The theme for the Jem and the Holograms song "One Of Those Days", where everything that could go wrong on their concert tour does.
Five-Episode Pilot: "Totally Outrageous", though the original airing began as fifteen five-minute segments that were sandwiched between five-minute segments of several other action-oriented "boys" cartoons, all on a show called "Super Sunday" (or "Super Saturday" depending on the station/market). Amazingly, the show caught on. Christy Marx was then asked to add short bits of material to the five-minute segments in order to expand three segments at a time into half-hour shows. The original fifteen five-minute segments were turned into the five-part opening episodes of the 65 half-hour series.
Flower in Her Hair: The song Flowers in My Hair. Also, this serves as a minor plot point - Jetta hires thugs to trash Raya's family's greenhouse, so that Raya would accept Eric's bribe for finding out Jem's secret identity. Jetta wears the flower one of the goons took back as proof, and when Raya recognizes it she backs out of the deal just in time.
Foil: Kimber and Stormer, Clash and Video, Rapture and Astral.
For the Evulz: The Stingers demonstrate moments where they screw around with someone's head just for their own amusement. The most blatant examples of this is how Rapture strung Pizzazz along into thinking she was helping her win Riot, and Rapture scaring one of the Starlight Girls into thinking she's a werewolf for no apparent reason other than it amused her.
Pizzazz gets hold of a laser gun from Techrat. This terrifies Eric Raymond, and rightly so, as because of her shooting at the billboard on top of Starlight Music it smashes into Jerrica's office.
Synergy isn't capable of Hard Light, but interference from one of Techrat's devices show that her special effects lasers are actually quite dangerous at full power.
From Bad to Worse: After Jem, the Holograms, and most of the production staff quit the "Starbright" movie because of Eric Raymond and the Misfits. The Misfits decide to have the entire movie redone so it's all about them, while the Holograms start filming the original "Starbright" script. Then MORE staff members quit due to Pizzazz's whining and constant demands, until numerous union heads have the production shut down because of Eric's multiple violations. The Misfits decide to stop anyway, tired of all the work, and claim that "they have enough scenes". When the movie is released it's, naturally, a total bomb, while "Starbright" is a smash hit.
Gadgeteer Genius: Emmett Benton, Jerrica and Kimber's father, is Synergy's inventor. Techrat is one too, and has created an antigravity flying platform and a Time Machine among others.
Gaslighting: An unintentional example in-universe. The Misfits get paid by a rich fan of Jem to find out who she is, so they get a bunch of actresses to pass themselves off as Jem's friends and family in order to get her to admit who she really is. The whole experience completely disorients Jem, especially when she's presented with video footage of her supposed "childhood" (that is, as Jem, not Jerrica Benton). The stress of seeing all her friends act like they don't really know her, pestering her to tell them who she really is, and then actually seeing Jerrica Benton (an actress who was late) almost causes Jem to have a total breakdown.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: The writers of a cartoon meant to promote a line of dolls snuck in a band called "The Limp Lizards". That took balls.
"Who is he kissing? Is it me? Or is he making love to a fantasy?" Granted, they could have been using the older version of the phrase, and Rio and Jerrica do nothing beyond French kissing on screen- but by the 80s, the phrase had acquired the current meaning!
Good Is Not Nice: Certain episodes appear to demonstrate that Jem and the rest of the Holograms could be annoyingly self-righteous and smug, but never get called on it. Whether this was intentional or not, it provided a contrast to the moments where the Misfits and the Stingers broke apart from their stereotypical cartoon villain behavior and demonstrated moments of humanity. Based on this idea, this would serve to prove that rather than being two-dimensional heroes, the Holograms are just good people who have their flaws like anyone else.
Green-Eyed Monster: Pizzazz, so much. Her jealousy drives her to enact countless plots to sabotage Jem. Interestingly, Jerrica is jealous of Jem, despite them being the same person, because of Rio's feelings for Jem. And, of course, the song "Jealousy" itself.
Hair Colors: Again, it was the Eighties. Though rather strangely, the pastel hair colors of Aja and Shana seem to be natural since they already have blue and purple hair (respectively) when the Bentons adopted them as children. Stormer's might be natural too: her brother has the same hair color as she does.
Hard Work Hardly Works: Averted with The Stingers; the episode "Riot's Hope" showed that they began with almost nothing, from busking in the streets to becoming one of the biggest bands in the world. The song "It's a hard, hard Life" showcases this. For Jem and the Holograms, it's subverted: while Emmett Benton left them everything they needed to become successful, they had to keep working at it to stay on top. The episode "Glitter 'N Gold" shows that without constant work, The Misfits are able to get a leg up on Jem and the Holograms.
The Heart: Played with. In regards to the Misfits, there is no clear-cut example of a Heart. Every time a band member has left (The Bands Break Up, Roxy Rumbles, The Stingers Hit Town) the Misfits aren't able to perform properly.
In regards to the Holograms, Jem or Kimber could be considered the Heart. In The Bands Break Up, the group learns that they depended on Kimber a lot more than they thought, as she provided a number of cues the girls needed. In The Day The Music Died, we aren't able to see how the Holograms could perform without Jem, as they were immediately folded into the Misfits.
Heartwarming Foster Girls: The Starlight Girls, so much so that the final episode focuses on Ba Nee finding her father at last and closes with a farewell party where the Stingers and even the Misfits show up to see them off.
Honest John's Dealership: Near the end of "Roxy Rumbles", a potential buyer decided to read the contract before buying the car. It was a wise decision as, while he was reading it, the car blew up.
Hot Scoop: Lindsey Pierce, a.k.a Lin-Z, is a reporter whom has frequent dealings with the Holograms and the Misfits. Despite appearing to be neutral she usually sides with the Holograms because the Misfits never control themselves on her show. Pizzazz actually slapped Lindsey after they barged in on her show and she kicked them out.
House Fire: In the pilot episode (in both the Super Sunday and regular series versions), Eric's henchman Zipper breaks into the Starlight House; the fire starts after the Holograms confront him. Everyone evacuates safely, but the house burns to the ground.
How We Got Here: The pilot starts with an already famous Jem being well-received by her fans and then it flashbacks to the graveyard scene with Jem's father being buried.
Hymn To Music: "Music is Magic", "When it's only Me and the Music", and "Music and Danse".
I Am Great Song: The Misfits have quite a few, like "Universal Appeal", "I Am A Giant", and "There Ain't Nobody Better". Jem and the Holograms have a Verb This! one with "Beat This".
I Have No Son: What Riot's father tells him when he's dishonorably discharged from the Army for going AWOL to pursue his music career.
Ill Girl: In the three-part "Starbright" storyline, the Holograms keep on going with a movie shoot the Misfits have bought themselves into because they need money for an operation to save Starlight Girl Ba Nee's sight. Ultimately the production splits into rival films, and when the Holograms' is a hit, the money is raised and Ba Nee's sight is saved.
Incredibly Long Note: Britta Phillips (the singing voice of Jem) pulls off an awesome long high B-flat at the end of "Music is Magic".
Intimidating Revenue Service: Roxy once won one million dollars thanks to a Lottery Ticket she found. She lost half to the IRS. An agent actually showed up with a briefcase, scooped her cash into it, and walked off again.
"I Want" Song: "Gimme Gimme Gimme" captures Pizzazz's hunger for fame quite well.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Stormer of the Misfits is an aversion (or at least she averts the "Jerk" part), because she was never really a jerk in the first place, unlike her bandmates. Roxy, however, plays it straight.
Just Eat Gilligan: 99% of Jerrica's problems would be over if she'd just do the sensible thing and press charges against the Misfits for theft, vandalism, and recklessly endangering the lives of the Holograms and the Starlight Girls. The show addressed this a grand total of once, in which Eric implied that lawyers can do anything if you're rich. Nonetheless, this would only work for so long and isn't really going to be much good at, say, getting you off forthe attempted murder of your rivals. Pizzazz's father is also wealthy, but the show also established early on that he pretty much cut her off for being out of control.
And on the flipside, the Misfits (who are just as popular and successful as Jem and the Holograms) would probably be better off if they would just ignore Jem and stop trying to upstage their rivals. Multiple episodes show them as being insanely popular, respected as musicians, and widely regarded in the industry as just as good as Jem and the Holograms, even beating them for a major industry award. Feuding with Jem just leads to more frustration and humiliation.
Just Plane Wrong: Apparently Harvey Gabor is wealthy and influential enough to borrow a privately owned Concorde and arrange a landing at a small-town airstrip, despite Concorde being banned from the U.S. except for select airports.
Karmic Jackpot: Stormer's status as the "good Misfit" often allowed her to escape whatever karmic justice the other Misfits endured. She was the only one to get a genuine love interest, and towards the end of the series, the Holograms began to see her as a friend.
Kayfabe Music: Jem is a holographic projection protecting Jerrica's identity.
Keep Circulating the Tapes: This show went in and out of print during the 80s, 90s, and even 00s. A brief release in the early 00s got up to two and a half seasons on DVD before Rhino lost the rights and they were swallowed up by Sony, leaving the entire third series out of print. However, in 2011, the series began airing on The Hub and a new complete series DVD release finally got a release date in October of 2011.
The original five minute "mini-episodes" that were later expanded to five full length episodes are believed to have been lost or destroyed.
Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Many famous singers appear under different names. Like Lena Lerner (Tina Tuner) and Luna Dark (Cyndi Lauper.) However, it's also averted as some like Madonna are mentioned by name.
The Law of Conservation of Detail: A lot of the first season episodes play out like there are only two bands in the entire world. If there's a contest and The Holograms lose, The Misfits win by default.
Limited Animation: The animation here is dreadful, with stiff movements, a garish color palette, and incredibly bland and/or hilarious character designs.
Oddly enough, the opening sequence animation is far better, in addition to some of the music videos.
A Little Something We Call "Rock and Roll": Actually inverted in "Journey Through Time"; Jem and the Holograms get taught by musicians such as Mozart, and they gain the inspiration they needed to write new material.
Lonely Rich Kid: Pizzazz is what happens when this kid grows up very wrong.
Long-Lost Uncle Aesop: "Alone Again" introduced Laura Holloway as a new Starlight Girl that played the guitar and got into drugs. Notably, Laura was not based on any of the dolls in the toy line. So it should come as little surprise that she never appeared outside that single episode.
While this is true, it's also Justified because when the social worker brings Laura to Starlight Mansion, she tells Jerrica that Laura's placement there would be temporary as she was waiting for an opening at a more appropriate facility.
Love Dodecahedron: All the more complicated because two of the members are the same person.
Rio dates Jerrica and waffles with affection for Jem because he doesn't know they're the same person.
Or as the Agony Booth puts it, Rio "says goodbye to his girlfriend, already planning to cheat on her with his second girlfriend, who by the way is his girlfriend. I'm sorry, I'll never get over that."
Riot from the third season likes Jem and not Jerrica and has no idea why Jem keeps blowing him off.
Love Triangle: Aside from the Jem/Jerrica/Rio one, there's another with Kimber and her boyfriends, stuntman Jeff Wright and English teen idol Sean Harrison.
Lying Finger Cross: Techrat did it while telling the Misfits how "safe" his gimmick in "The Jem Jam - Part 2" was.
Magical Girl: A literal magician. Maeve Eldritch, a.k.a. Astral, a professional magician and psychic investigator whose teacher studied under Harry Houdini. She appears in That Old Houdini Magic as part of a charity event, and helps the Holograms expose Rapture's latest con at pretending to channel the spirit of Harry Houdini.
Mirrored Confrontation Shot: Jem and the Holograms have a couple of videos with them: with The Misfits in "Bad Influence", and with The Stingers in "Believe/Don't Believe".
Minion with an F in Evil: Stormer from The Misfits is always the first to stop her friends from being truly evil, the first to tip off the good guys, and the first to make friends with the good guys. She's mainly in the Misfits because she's a total pushover.
Missing Mom: The only mothers we see on this show are Raya's, Jetta's, and Jerrica/Kimber's. Out of all of those only Jerrica and Kimber's mom is actually kind and supportive. We only see her in flashbacks, unfortunately.
Pizzazz's mother abandoned her when she(Pizzazz) was a small kid.
Money Song: Quite a few of them from the Misfits, including "Takin' It All" and "Congratulations". Jem and the Holograms have one with "Glitter N' Gold".
Morality Pet: Three of them, all parents. Pizzazz and Clash both have one in their respective fathers, and Riot has his mother.
Mustache Vandalism: A mustache is drawn on Pizzazz's digital face in "Gimme A Gimmick", Minx paints mustaches on Raya and Chrissy in "Take It Or Leave It", and Pizzazz burns a mustache on Jem's billboard with a laser gun.
Naοve Everygirl: Carmen "Raya" Alonso plays this role when she shows up later in the series.
Name's the Same: The "Misfits" is the name of a real life rock band (albeit punk rock, completely different from the show, plus they're an all-male group) formerly led by Glenn Danzig (that spot belongs to Jerry Only now). One of the Misfits' (show) songs "Welcome to the Jungle", is also an example (and this was about a year before Appetite For Destruction was released).
Lyn-Z shares her name with the bassist for the band Mindless Self Indulgence.
An early band of Riot's (shown in flashbacks) is called Nirvana.
Non-Action Guy: Eric Raymond. Sure, he was good at scheming - but he could not go toe-to-toe with an angry, protective Rio Pacheco or Craig Phillips.
Non-Singing Voice: Jem / Jerrica had a speaking voice provided by Samantha Newark, who is a singer, but the singing voice is provided by Britta Philips.
Rival Pizzazz was voiced by Patricia Albrecht when speaking, and Ellen Bernfeld (aka disco singer Menage) when singing.
Ellen Bernfeld also did backing vocals for The Holograms and The Misfits, and was the singing voice of Roxy in her only solo song. Roxy's speaking voice actress was Bobbie Block.
Riot of The Stingers spoke with the voice of Townsend Coleman and sang with the voice of Gordon Grody (who went on to become Lady Gaga's voice coach).
The other two Stingers were also dubbed for singing. When speaking, Minx was Kath Soucie and Rapture was Ellen Gerstell. For singing, both of them were usually dubbed by Diva Grey, but for Rapture's two solo lines in the song "Destiny", she was dubbed by Vicki Sue Robinson, the disco singer of "Turn the Beat Around" fame!
When Kimber and Stormer sang a duet, they were dubbed over by Florence Warner and Lani Grover respectively, though Cathianne Blore and Susan Blu perform their speaking lines. Interestingly enough, their singing voices don't match their speaking voices at all.
Not Me This Time: Eric claims this when a pirate broadcast is done supposedly by the Misfits. It turns out 'anotherCorrupt Corporate Executive tricked them into think they just doing a normal broadcast for him. Jerica believes him immediately:
Jerrica: Not even you are dumb enough to do a pirate broadcast.
Not Now, Kiddo: Jerrica towards Starlight Girl Deirdre in The Music Awards. When Deirdre gets the same treatment from Jem, this leads Deirdre to become:
Another episode, Hot Time in Hawaii has Jem doing this to a fan who she thought was hounding her for an autograph. Jem only stops to listen when the little girl tells her that Kimber had been kidnapped.
Once an Episode: The show breaks into song three times per episode and segues into a faux music video, even giving the name of the song and the band (or singer) performing it. Sometimes awkward when there's a character singing who is not actually in a band or is a singer.
Only Six Faces: The girls pretty much have the same face save for differences in hair and makeup, though sometimes this is more related to Off Model issues.
Off Model: There is an instant disappearing Kimber in the video for the Misfits' "Takin' It All".
Pet the Dog: Riot's Hope is one gigantic PTD for both Riot and the Stingers. It explains Riot's relationship with his parents and how his decision to become a musician led to a falling out between him and his father, who wanted him to join the military. It also shows that, unlike both the Holograms and the Misfits, the Stingers had no money when they began and had to work from the ground up, starting off with street shows and touring Europe until they became famous enough to head to America. As Riot is explaining his life story to Jem, not once does he try to hit on her or make a move, demonstrating that his mother's ailing health was more important.
Plot Hole: Two episodes, Father's Day and Out of the Past, involve Jerrica and Kimber reminiscing about their parents thanks to certain belongings they find in the attic of Starlight House, such as old home movies and their dad's journal. Then you remember that the original Starlight House burned down in the Five-Episode Pilot.
Purple Eyes: In her Jem form, Jerrica's eyes are either colored this way or as deep blue.
Positive Discrimination: When Christy Marx was told that they'd be adding a new Misfit, she asked to have a black misfit in order to have some diversity, but that was rejected for being offensive. She was told that American, British or Australian white villains were acceptable, hence Jetta becoming British. It wasn't an issue when she wrote bad-girl Minx as being of German origin.
The Power of Rock: There is nothing that cannot be solved by singing. Except an overcomplicated love life.
Pragmatic Villainy: Eric Raymond prefers schemes that hurt peoples pockets not the people as he's in it for profit (nonetheless, the people end up getting hurt, anyway...) This could be a case of Even Evil Has Standards, but it's more likely he just doesn't want to be sued.
Prince and Pauper: The plot of "The Princess and the Singer", in which Kimber and Princess Adriana of Morvania are dead ringers and get switched during an attempt to assassinate Adriana.
Projected Woman: Synergy, the AI of the hologram computer, is herself a projected holographic AI.
Recycled Soundtrack: By the time the second (technically thirdnote Despite the Wikipedia and Shout! Factory DVD listings, the Five-Episode Pilot makes up the entirety of the first season, while everything after that up to "Glitter and Gold" is the second season.) season starts, the show starts reusing songs with new music videos, to the point where there are entire episodes without a single new song.
Reformed, but Rejected: Minx in "A Change of Heart"; after nearly drowning, Minx decides to renounce her evil self-absorbed ways and be a good girl. Needless to say, despite her best efforts, Jem and the Holograms and Rio pretty much reject her and drive her back to her selfish ways.
Removing the Rival: Many of the episodes are about the schemes Eric and The Misfits concoct in order to eliminate Jem and the Holograms from one competition or another.
Rhyming with Itself: "Come On In, The Water's Fine" rhymes "happen" with itself, and then again with "common" in the second verse.
Rich Bitch: Deconstructed with Pizzazz; while she is insanely rich, she hid it from her bandmates until the "Starbright" three-parter, when her past was revealed and Pizzazz is quite open with the fact that (thanks to her Freudian Excuse) that she is more obsessed with being famous and adored by the masses than she does care about being rich.
Rose-Haired Girl: Jerrica in her Jem identity. Lampshaded in one episode by Pizzazz in her usual mean-spirited style.
Pizzazz: Well, well. If it isn't little miss pink-hair and the singalongs!
Robinsonade: "Island of Deception" has Jem and the Holograms and The Misfits work together to survive, punctuated by The Misfits' catchy number "It Takes Alot".
Ruritania: Morvania in "The Princess and the Singer".
Sassy Black Woman: Refreshingly averted with Shana, who was very shy and sympathetic.
Scary Musician, Harmless Music: The Misfits definitely looked the part of glam-punkers, but their sound was more new wave. Riot of the Stingers also, as he was made to look like a metal singer.
Screwed by Hasbro: Hasbro pulled the plug on the series in 1988, despite the fact that Jem was one of the most popular cartoons airing in syndication. The reason? Because of poor sales on the dolls.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Jem and the Holograms quit the "Starbright" movie twice because of Eric Raymond and the Misfits. They came back after they quit the first time because they needed the money for Ba Nee's operation, and even after Jem almost lost her life performing a stunt on her own she wouldn't quit. It was after Kimber was nearly killed thanks to Roxy and Clash messing with the special effects did the Holograms quit for good. The second time, they were joined by Rio and most of the production staff, fed up with Raymond and the Misfits.
Secret Diary: Kimber's diary that gets leaked to a tabloid called "Cool Trash".
Secret Identity Identity: Jerrica goes through this a lot. Synergy doesn't help either a rather Broken Aesop episode had Jerrica take on a third identity through Synergy's subtle manipulation, in order to prove to her that Rio loves her because he fell in love with her again when she had presented herself as a third identity. While the point was "Rio loves Jerrica's personality and that's why he fell for Jem", the episode also gives the impression Rio really doesn't care that much about being loyal to Jerrica since he'll fall into the arms of any woman that's close enough to her.
Secret Keeper: A couple of high-profile people know that Jem is really Jerrica, like Princess Adrianna of Morvania and the President of the United States.
Sore Loser: In "Glitter and Gold", the Holograms and The Misfits compete in a record sales competition and The Holograms win by one record. Despite the fact that, as Stormer points out, The Misfits sold half a million records, Pizzazz still throws a major tantrum over losing to The Holograms.
Then again, several of those records were bought by people paid by Eric to buy them so, Stormer's statement wasn't much of good news as it'd seem.
An irate Eric slaps Jerrica in the face when The Misfits lose to Jem and the Holograms in the Battle of the Bands, and he loses control of his half of Starlight Music.
Spring Coil: Zipper brings in special shoes and poles with these on them so The Misfits can cheat in the pole vault and high jump events.
Start My Own: After Eric Raymond lost his half of Starlight Music, the Misfits needed another music company to promote their albums so Pizzazz asked her father to start one.
In "KJEM", Jem took over a radio station so the previous owner wouldn't lose it to a former employee who had started his own radio station for not liking how his former boss ran things.
Kimber (from Jem and the Holograms) and Stormer (from the Misfits) were feeling underappreciated and temporarily became a duo.
Status Quo Is God: "The Bands Break up" and "A Change of Heart", to name a few, though subtle shifts occur when Raya and Jetta join the Holograms and the Misfits (respectively) and when the Misfits are slowly written out of the show in series 3. Otherwise, this trope is averted most of the time.
Story Arc: The movie contract the Five-Episode Pilot mentions as one of the prizes in the Battle of the Bands competition is the basis for one. The three-parter "Starbright", the first post-pilot episodes, chronicles the film's making and release. The "Hollywood Jem" two-parter that closes "season two" (by The Other Wiki's listing) picks it up again when Jem is nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. There's also a running subplot in the latter two stories about Kimber being romanced by two men. Another running storyline is Ba Nee's search for her father.
Swiss Cheese Security: Nobody in this show is capable of keeping anything secure. The Misfits can pretty much waltz into anything to cause mayhem.
Time Travel: In "Journey Through Time". Part of the episode involves Jem and the Holograms appearing in a concert in the middle of the London Blitz as themselves only with period clothing, and seem unconcerned with hiding their identities. However, not that many people saw that particular performance, and probably only one or two people are still alive who would wonder why the exact same people in 1942 and 1987 seem not to have aged.
Title Theme Tune: Which pretty much any girl from the 80s will sing to you on cue.
Team Rocket Wins: "The Day the Music Died" has Pizzazz and the Misfits co-opting the Holograms and the Stingers after Riot and Jem leave for an island vacation. It doesn't stick, but for awhile the Misfits are at the top of the charts.
Tear Jerker: In-universe example in "Broadway Magic": Broadway producer Bob Merrit and Stormer are brought to tears by Jem and the Holograms' performance of "Can't Get My Love Together". Even Pizzazz and Roxy are somewhat subdued.
There Are No Therapists: Ba Nee probably wouldn't have been so willing to label the next person she sees who closely resembles her father (based on the few details she knows) if she had someone to talk to. She's one of the few Starlight Girls who has not become accepted to the fact that she's an orphan, which actually plays out for the better when the Holograms find her actual dad.
Averted in Alone Again when Laura is brought to a support group of similarly-aged drug addicts.
Averted again when Danse talks to Jerrica about funding for the runaway shelter she volunteers at, explaining that there are counselors there that the kids can talk to about their problems.
Played straight with Jetta, who could be considered more evil than the other Misfits. She actually tried to con Pizzazz out of millions of her dad's money in the episode Britrock.
Token Minority Couple: No sooner does Shana see a black man at a party than the other girls immediately shove her into talking to him. Surely enough, they become a recurring couple. Happens to Raya in a Mexico-themed episode as well.
Subverted with Aja and Craig (but they both have blue hair), and possibly Jem and Rio.
Travelling Salesman Montage: The Misfits, wanting to start their own fashion book in "The Rock Fashion Book", take their photos to several publishers, who all reject their photos for being too amateur. At one point one of them actually throws their briefcase of pictures out the door.
Troubled Production: In-universe, this is what the three-parter "Starbright" is all about. Pizzazz gets her father to buy the studio making the Jem movie, and her unreasonable demands make their movie a flop, while Jem's own becomes a success.
Uncle Pennybags: Jerrica is one of these. She actually gives the proceeds from Jem's lucrative career to the Starlight Foundation, hence she doesn't have much money to her own name. Howard Sands is a minor character with the same bent. The same goes for the Countess Danielle DuVoisin, who would often help out Jem and the Holograms with the use of things like her private yacht and villa.
The Unfavorite: Something of a Broken Aesop in the show is that Pizzazz's father spoiled her because he was incapable of showing affection, and Pizzazz's nasty personality is partially related to her acting out to get genuine affection out of him. By the time he's ready for this, he can't stand the self-centered Prima Donna he's created and instead treats Kimber as a surrogate daughter.
The Unfair Sex: The show takes a very lopsided approach to cheating. In one episode, "Midsummer Night Madness", Jem, in addition to having a relationship with Rio in both her Jem and Jerrica persona, creates a new identity to test him. He fails when he shows interest in "Jamie", causing her to doubt his faithfulness - though she's later convinced to be okay with it because he only keeps falling for her personalities. However, in later episodes "Riot's Hope", for example Jem flirts with and nearly kisses Riot.
Universe Bible: There is, in fact, a "Jem Bible" that Christy Marx used to distribute to fans until a copyright complaint stopped her. Excerpts from it were included on the first DVD release.
Unintentional Period Piece: The show's focus on then-current popular music, media, and fashion leads to the show feeling extremely dated several decades after its 1985 release.
Unlimited Wardrobe: This is a Merchandise-Driven show, after all, though many characters have "trademark" outfits they wear regularly. By the third season, it's actually pretty rare to spot the Misfits or Holograms wearing their usual getups they wore all the time in the first season. The only character seen wearing the same thing virtually the entire time is Eric Raymond.
Villain Song: Most of the songs the Misfits sing can be considered this, as they're usually inflating Pizzazz's ego, such as I Am A Giant, Universal Appeal, or Designing Woman, or about her being a bitch, such as I Love A Scandal. Makin' Mischief as well, since it seems to be the Misfits' purpose in life, and its instrumental chorus plays whenever there's something bad about to happen.
I Am A Giant can be taken as a female empowerment song (in spite of the video) and I'm Gonna Change and It Takes A Lot outright avoid the usual cliche of singing about how great they are.
Vitriolic Best Buds: The Misfits can be seen this way. They may act like jerks to one another (or in Stormer's case, act likes jerks to her), but whenever a member leaves, the band isn't able to function properly. Their skills complement one another, as evidenced when Stormer and Roxy left the group at certain points. Although how they came back differed greatly.
Roxy left because Pizzazz and Jetta made fun of her, and they only reason she came back was because Eric reminded her that she was under contract.
Stormer left because she was tired of the others' never taking her thoughts into consideration. She's probably under contract with them as well, but the reason Eric hadn't brought this up was because she signed another contract with Kimber to produce an album. He was hoping the two wouldn't come through on their end of the bargain, and he would be able to acquire a share of Starlight Music. When the album came out and was a hit, the Misfits finally admitted that they needed Stormer without trying to bribe her. She agreed to come back, on the condition that they remember she is an equal member of the group and her thoughts would be taken into better consideration.
The other Misfits were all shocked that Pizzazz chose being with Riot over them, and all showed concern when they realized Rapture was screwing her over.
While You Were in Diapers: One episode invokes this trope with Bobby Bailey's criticism of Jem and the Holograms' version of a song he did back in the The Fifties. He told Kimber he did it while her father was in diapers.
Aja, Stormer, Stormer's brother, and Regine. This isn't even an anime!
Raya's hair is pink, and flashbacks seem to indicate that it's been that way since childhood. So either she's been dying her hair since she was 7, or pink is a natural hair color in the Jemverse.
Rio has purple hair, and Jerrica has a lovely purple hat that compliments it perfectly.
Shana also has lavender hair and Pizzazz has green hair, both that show up in childhood flashbacks.
Astral had blue and purple hair.
Danse has multicolored hair. Or possibly she grows ribbons out of her head. It's not clear.
You Just Ruined the Shot: Jem and the Holograms keep running into film sets for the video of "Show Me The Way", chased all the while by an irate director. This happens because The Misfits switched around their instructions for which set to go to while filming the Starbright movie.