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Fox's Peter Pan & the Pirates (the full title) is a cartoon that ran for two seasons (1990-1991), being canceled less than two years after it started. It is a considerably Darker and Edgier, and heavily expanded, take on the classic story of Peter Pan. With a surprising amount of characterization and high quality storytelling for its time, this cartoon caught a lot of people off-guard, and pleasantly surprised those who actually did watch it. It is actually Truer To The Text than many other adaptations, especially in characterization; and its original elements remain true to the spirit of the original story.Every character in the Peter Pan mythos was fleshed out. Peter was portrayed as a more complex character, with severe character flaws such as cockiness and a casual disregard for safety and other's concerns, yet he genuinely cared about his friends (one dramatic scene in particular made this very clear). The Lost Boys were all given real personalities, and even the lives of the pirates were fleshed out and shown very often. Captain Hook was given a Freudian Excuse in one episode for turning out the way he did, but even with that, he is genuinely sympathetic at times, while being cold at others. The culture of the Indians was given much more screentime as well, and we even learned more about the mermaids and the fairies. Neverland was a much more detailed place than any of us imagined, and it felt more alive.But it was also a darker place as well. The world itself is quite violent and sometimes downright creepy. There are some very cruel villains, and a fair amount of Nightmare Fuel in this show. While the kids are often seen laughing and having fun at the beginning of an episode, it becomes difficult not to wonder how they could possibly enjoy living in a world with vengeful spirits, potentially world-destroying magic, fairies who are both good and evil (and the evil ones can cause a lot of trouble), and especially the events of the first season finale, in which the entire world itself begins to decay and turn inhospitable due to Peter's aging and disbelief in magic. Neverland may be an exciting, magical place, but it's also a very dangerous one.Characterization played a big role in some episodes, with the unique personalities of the characters sometimes causing temporary alliances, or instead causing characters to engage in cruel behavior. One of Hook's own pirates is about the same age as the older members of the Lost Boys, and is constantly trying to prove himself to Captain Hook. He befriends two of the Lost Boys who share some of his love of inventions, and helps them escape when captured at one point. Another time, a very superstitious member of Hook's crew is separated from the rest of the pirates, and briefly befriends one of the Lost Boys. Jealousy and petty anger, on the other hand, cause mischievous characters to do horrible things at times. Tinker Bell's tolerance/jealousy relationship with Wendy has resulted in her trying to cause trouble for her at times but saving her life at others. The characterization was surprisingly complex for a kids' show, and made for some fascinating stories.When shown during its second year, the network tended to focus on the sillier and Nightmare Fuel-free episodes in order to make the show Lighter and Softer, thus negating much of, but not all of, what made the show unique. Ultimately, the show was canceled only a few months into its second year.A video game adaptation was created for the NES which was, in many respects, rather faithful to the show.
Peter Pan & the Pirates provides examples of:
Adaptation Dye-Job: Unlike nearly every other incarnation of Hook, this one has white hair.
Adaptation Expansion: We see a lot more of Neverland than we ever did, and learn more about many of the characters.
A Day in the Limelight: "A Day At The Fair" stars Michael and Tinkerbell and absolutely no other heroes as they visit a fair, and outsmart the pirates in the process.
Anti-Villain: The Ice King, Kyros. In "The Coldest Cut Of All", he only freezes the entirety of Neverland (as well as Peter and his friends earlier on) because Peter continuously trespasses and steals crystals from his cave. Kyros is merely retaliating, rather than going out of his way to be malevolent. Peter even sets Kyros's cave on fire the second time the latter responds. Once Peter returns the crystal, Kyros returns Neverland to normal.
Berserk Button: Peter's seems to be harming any of his friends. In the Back Story episode that explains how Peter and Hook first met, Hook made Peter think his friends had been killed, and that was the motivation behind Peter cutting off Hook's hand.
Braids, Beads and Buckskins: Although they're still basically theme park Native Americans (which can be excused by being a child's imagined version), it is nevertheless a rather respectful portrayal, and miles better than the Disney movie.
Freudian Excuse: Captain Hook hates children, in part, because he misses his own childhood. A representation of it, in the form of a younger, more playful Hook as a child, is seen in one episode. Adult Hook chases desperately after him, but is separated yet again from his youth.
Grand Finale: While the final episode, "The Lost Memories of Pirate Pan", didn't conclude Peter's adventures with Wendy and the others, it did provide closure for the viewer and provided a glimpse at the future of Wendy, John, Michael, and Wendy's daughter, Jane.
Ignored Epiphany: In the Yet Another Christmas Carol episode Hook seems deeply shaken by the idea of not only being killed by Peter, but being completely forgotten too. This seems like the moment when he would repent... but instead Hook resolves to be much, much worse, so that Peter will never forget him. Also, one would think that Hook's Freudian Excuse would make him more sympathetic to Peter and the Lost Boys, but you'd be wrong.
I Was Quite a Looker: Old Crooked-Tail, a particularly ugly mermaid, used to be extremely beautiful, but conceited and haughty until a potion to enhance her beauty went horribly awry turning her into a green-skinned hag.
Joker Jury: In one episode, Peter Pan is put on trial by Captain Hook, with his pirates as the jury and Wendy as a defense lawyer. Surprisingly, she wins the case.
Though not without having to filch the keys to his cage.
Knight Templar: Peter, who cut off Captain Hook's hand when Peter believed that his friends had been killed by Captain Hook.
Load-Bearing Boss: Inverted with the hero Peter, who is this considering that if anything happens to him, all of Neverland will cease to exist.
Mondegreen: In-universe; Slightly and Peter trick Hook into thinking his mother wanted him to be a pilot, not a pirate.
Nerf Arm: Most of the time, the Lost Boys are armed with wooden swords.
Never Learned to Read: It was mentioned a few times that Peter was illiterate. It ended up causing him some trouble in one episode when he wasn't able to read a warning on a treasure map.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: When Peter Pan starts growing up and no longer believes in fairies, Tinker Bell is weakened and nearly dies. Later, Captain Hook comes across her, and she tricks him into saying that he believes in fairies, restoring enough of her power that she can continue searching for Peter in hopes of saving Neverland.
At one point in one episode, Tall Twin is identical to Short Twin, having light skin and red hair instead of his usual black hair and darker complexion.
In "River of Night", when Tiger Lily and Hard-To-Hit are in the canoe looking for Peter after he goes missing and Tiger Lily points out Peter's cape lain in the water to Hard-To-Hit, she isn't wearing pants.
Out-of-Character Moment: Probably the funniest in the entire series. After Neverland is restored and everyone returns to normal, Hook picks Peter up and hugs him. This is so unlike him that everyone stares at him, completely confused by his actions. It quickly ends and he's back to his normal self.
Pirate: The show, keeping with the Peter Pan story, features pirates in a prominent role.
Plummet Perspective: Subverted. In one episode Hook incapacitates Peter, attaches weights to him, and threatens to throw Peter into a legendary bottomless pit. He throws a torch into the pit to demonstrate, only to see that the pit is maybe 20-30 feet deep.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Often, whenever the pirates think they've lost Hook or Hook himself thinks otherwise, they decide to set sail for "The Spanish main" and leave behind Neverland. They never do, but...
Swiss Army Tears: In the end of the two-parter "Ages of Pan", Neverland is disappearing because Peter Pan has grown up to be an old man, doesn't believe in Neverland and has forgotten about Tinker Bell. Then Tinker Bell's one tear falls on old Peter and turns him young again — and Neverland is saved.
Take Our Word for It: In the episode "Hook's Mother's Picture", the eponymous portrait is seen by several characters, who all react with horror and disgust, but it is never shown to the audience.
Tsundere: The mermaids (except for Crooked Tail) are all type A while Tinkerbell is type B.
Victory Is Boring: The Christmas Carol episode shows Peter briefly having this after killing Hook, even considering leaving Neverland for good. Then it's subverted as Peter promptly forgets about Hook's existence shortly afterward.
We All Live in America: Typical Americanization abounds, with accents and termanology that J.M. Barrie probably didn't have in mind for the world as he scribed it. Memorably in the episode, "Ages of Pan", a fairy says that she should sue the twins for causing her distress!
Wicked Cultured: Captain Hook is very much this. Not only is he very intelligent and cunning, but he has great knowledge of Shakespeare, high society, and many other things, not to mention a massive and very fitting vocabulary.
Yet Another Christmas Carol: Inverted, despite a good section of the script being lifted verbatim from the original story. When the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come shows Hook that, after his death, he dies alone and forgotten even by Peter Pan, he gets the pirate crew together for a Christmas raid on the Lost Boys' hideout, swearing that he'll be ten times worse from now on so that Peter will never forget what a terrible pirate he was.
Your Mind Makes It Real: The first season finale, when Peter takes Hook's accusation that he never grows up because he can't as a dare, and his grown-up act soon becomes a rapidly-aging reality. This causes the gradual decay of Neverland, in one of the most riveting forms of Nightmare Fuel ever in a kids' cartoon.