Western Animation / Peter Pan & the Pirates

Even the logo is Darker and Edgier...

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. He also forms a truce with another lost boy in order to save his father-figure (another pirate). 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.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Bill Jukes in the novel was a lot older with a lot of tatoos. However Billy in the show is much younger without any tattoos.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Many characters get one. One such example is "A Day At The Fair"; where it stars Michael and Tinkerbell and absolutely no other heroes as they visit a fair, and outsmart the pirates in the process.
  • Alternate Universe: An ancient Egypt-themed one.
  • Always Second Best: Slightly felt this way about Nibs.
  • Always Someone Better: Nibs in regards to Slightly.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Billy Jukes.
  • Animation Bump: The TMS Entertainment animated episodes.
  • Anti-Villain: The Ice King, Kyros. In "The Coldest Cut Of All", he may pose a danger to Neverland, but the whole mess is Peter's fault, because he won't stop trespassing in Kyros's home in the Ice Caves and stealing its crystals. Once Peter makes amends by giving back the crystal, Kyros returns Neverland to normal.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism. Hook does not believe in ghosts... despite having faced at least two in his adventures (one the ghost of his own departed brother) and living in a world where magic is quite real, inhabited by fairies, trolls, and giants, and even having a text on alchemy in his personal library.
  • Badass Adorable: All of the heroes, but Michael especially qualifies.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The plot of "Three Wishes".
  • Beauty is Bad: The mermaids, except Crooked Tail qualify for this.
  • Berserk Button: Played for laughs, but Captain Hook hates seeing anyone mangling Shakespeare. He finds the Lost Boys' efforts to put on a play so painful to listen to that he storms out of hiding to act the part himself and show how it should be done.
  • Bound and Gagged: Pretty much every character at some point or another.
  • 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.
  • Break the Cutie: Most of the heroes eventually experience this.
  • Break the Haughty: Crooked Tail's backstory covers this.
  • Canon Foreigner: A few, such as the Girl Who Lives in the Moon, the fairy king and queen, and Captain Hook's brother, Jasper "Captain Patch" Hook.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: The mermaids and Tinker Bell both get very jealous when Peter spends time with any other female, sometimes to the point where they act very nasty.
  • Cowardly Lion: Tootles.
  • The Dandy: Gentleman Starkey, here a foppish Englishman with a cape.
  • Darker and Edgier: This is definitely not Disney! The first season finale is one of the darkest things seen in children's animation in that time.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Hook keeps a portrait of his mother in his cabin, and in "Hook the Faithful Son," is tricked into believing his mother wished for him to be a pilot, not a pirate.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Captain Hook writes a fake treasure map to lure Peter into an ambush, and sends it via a cannonball shot into the middle of the Indians' camp, as that's where Peter happened to be at the time. Robert Mullins asks why they didn't just blow the whole place up if Peter's in range, and Hook snaps that the village is full of innocent women and children.
  • Eviler Than Thou: Captain Hook is hardly a saint himself, but his dead brother, Captain Patch, is an even more terrifying figure, especially since Hook's a mortal but Patch, at the time of the show, is a powerful undead pirate who wants to lead a crew of ghosts and ghouls to prey upon the mortal seas for all eternity.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: It's a show about Peter Pan and Pirates.
  • Eye Scream: Hook gouged out his brother's eye.
  • The Faceless: The show makes a big point of Captain Hook having a portrait of his mother in his cabin. It makes just as big a point of never letting the viewer see it.
  • Faking the Dead: Hook does this in "The Demise of Hook", then acts as his own vengeful spirit.
  • Fisher King: Ages of Pan, wherein Peter magically grows up and begins to stop believing in Neverland, shows that as Peter's belief in the land fades, the land itself turns drab, dreary, and unlivable.
  • Fisher Kingdom: From The Neverscroll: "Peter Pan is Neverland, and Neverland is Peter Pan."
  • Five-Man Band: While the Lost Boys had more than five members, Peter rarely adventured with them all at once (most likely to save on animation costs due to how expensive TMS is). Usually he hangs out with a few at a time, mixing and matching them to form either a Five-Man Band or a Power Trio. Still, each Lost Boy had a role to play:
  • Five-Bad Band: Once again, there were more than five Pirates, but they still fit the pattern:
  • 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.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Only Tim Curry can say "Damnation" on children's television. And due to Hook's habit of speaking in Archaic Language, he gets plenty of other things past the radar. Such as his line about "molesting clouds".
    • Although "molesting" isn't necessarily always in the sense of what one may be thinking, but rather molesting as in bothering or pestering.
    • Tinker Bell's teasing of Peter, per the book, was kept in.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Happens when Peter tells John the story of how he cut off Hook's hand. All that's shown is Peter (furious because he thinks Hook killed Nibs and Tootles) grabbing Hook's sword and swinging it. It quickly cuts away, but Hook screaming out in pain can be heard clear across Neverland.
  • 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.
  • Hook Hand: You have one guess.
  • 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.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: In one episode Wendy is turned into a mermaid.
  • 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.
  • Large Ham: As in many other versions of Peter Pan, Captain Hook is a large, loud, and domineering presence ready to chew the scenery at the drop of his magnificent hat.
  • 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.
  • Lying Finger Cross: Done by Captain Hook of all people. After giving his word and then breaking it, Wendy calls him out on it, saying that "You swore an oath as a gentleman!" Hook then calmly states that while he swore his oath as a gentleman, he had his fingers crossed as a pirate.
  • 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 Breaking It, Hero!: "The Coldest Cut of All" is pretty much built on showing how much of a self-centered Jerk Ass that Peter Pan can be. While showing off a gemstone that he braggingly admits he stole after breaking into the Ice Caves, home of the winter spirit King Kyros, Peter unwittingly summons Kyros by speaking his name. Kyros promptly takes back his property and orders Peter not to go messing around in Kyros' house or stealing his stuff again. Peter responds to this by leading the Lost Boys to go and do just that, hoping to impress Wendy with an even bigger crystal. Of course, Kyros suspected Peter would do just that, so he enchanted the gem, and it encases the entire underground lair and all the Lost Boys in ice. Luckily, Tinkerbell thaws herself out and then revives Pan, who does the same to the rest of the kids... and then leads them to try and melt down Kyros' home. Outraged, Kyros creates an icy doppleganger of Peter Pan to duel the King of the Lost Boys, which overpowers Peter and forces the children to run. Ice Pan then freezes over the entire island, demanding Peter return the stolen crystal.
  • 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.
  • Off Model: Due to being animated by several animation studios note , the show has this:
    • 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.
    • The two episodes animated by Red Apple Group "The Plucking Of Short Tom" and "Evicted" have the most off model moments including bulging eyeballs, Fish Eyes, stretchy and rubbery limbs and necks, and generally looking very primitive compared to the other studios.
  • Oireland: Smee is a walking Irish stereotype.
  • 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.
  • Panthera Awesome: The pirates' cannon "Long Tom" is shaped like a tiger.
  • Pet the Dog: Robert Mullins was second only to Hook in terms of viciousness, but he had a soft spot for Billy Jukes and was the only pirate to not bully him when he was brought on board the Jolly Roger.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Wendy and Tinkerbell both qualify.
  • 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... of course, it's also full of jagged stalagmites, so being thrown in isn't a good thing.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The crocodile, of course - this time there isn't anything the least bit funny about her. She still serves an important purpose in Neverland, though.
  • 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...
  • Shout-Out:
  • 65-Episode Cartoon: With the last two episodes being a two-part Grand Finale.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The Ice King's caves.
  • The Starscream: Robert Mullins.
  • Stealth Insult: In "A Day At The Fair" Hook's men have all gone ashore and he has to resort to having Cookson row him there. Cookson takes so long that when they finally do reach the shores of Neverland, Hook quips they must have landed in Australia. Hook is English and England is at the opposite side of the Earth to Australia. He just implied his cook was so slow it would take them an equal amount of time to row round the world.
  • 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.
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation
  • Time Travel: In "The Lost Memories of Pirate Pan". Apparently Peter can do this without consciously trying to.
  • Token Good Teammate: Billy Jukes.
  • Trapped in TV Land: The episode "Peter in Wonderland", in which everyone is trapped inside a copy of Alice in Wonderland.
  • 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.
  • The World Is Always Doomed: A lot of things seem to be "the end of Neverland" if they happen.
  • 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.