Western Animation / Rainbow Brite

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Rainbow Brite started life as a greeting card character and was soon licensed by DiC Entertainment for a series of animated adventures. Rainbow Brite, whose real name is Wisp, is a young girl who helps to bring color to the world, accompanied by the seven Color Kids, Twink the sprite, and her horse Starlite.

Rainbow Brite and her allies frequently have to deal with the schemes of Murky Dismal, a short, mustachioed villain who, along with his oafish henchman Lurky, tries to make all of Rainbowland as dark and gloomy as his lair in The Pits. Other villains include the Dark Princess, the main antagonist of the movie and the final TV episode, and the King of Shadows, who ruled Rainbowland before Wisp arrived.

The franchise was initially adapted as a series of 5 TV specials that aired during a syndication week. This was followed by a feature-length film, Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer, which in turn was followed by a 13-episode TV series.

Reboots of the franchise were attempted in 1996 and 2005, but never caught on. A reboot miniseries was released in November 2014, consisting of three episodes. Afterwards, the original 1983 series was continued with Original Flavor picture books and merchandise from Hallmark, which as of 2018 is still being produced.

The 1986 cartoon contains examples of:

  • All Your Colors Combined: Rainbow's power is control of the rainbow, making her much more powerful than the Color Kids.
  • Amplifier Artifact: In the movie, the Dark Princess has a crystal that's the source of her powers. When Rainbow Brite and Krys destroy it, she's left without magic. The last episode of the show had her traveling to Rainbowland to find a new power source.
  • And I Must Scream: The Dark Princess threatens Rainbow with this in the last episode of the show.
    I'm going to turn you into a diamond and wear you around my neck!
  • Animesque: For a 1984 definition of the word. It wasn't intentional but the character designs combined with it being animated by a Japanese studio caused it to look very Japanese.
  • Anti-Magic: The Pits are so dark and evil they cancel out Rainbow's powers.
  • Audience Surrogate: Brian is a normal human who gets pulled into the strange world of Rainbowland.
  • Big Bad: Murky in the 80's cartoon overall, the King of Shadows in the Origin Story episode, the Dark Princess in the movie, the final episode of the cartoon, and overall in the reboot.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: The Dark Princess acts like this. When she's told that stealing Spectra will destroy the universe, she throws a tantrum and orders the Sprite taken away.
    I don't wanna talk to you anymore!
  • Catchphrase: "We have to try!", "Oh no!", and "Rainbow! Help!" show up a lot.
  • Children Are Innocent: Played straight with Rainbow Brite and her friends, as well as Brian.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: In "The Beginning of Rainbow Land" Wisp tells Twink "You can make it if you believe you can. Believe Twink! Try and believe!"
  • Companion Cube: The Dark Princess has a lifeless pet gemstone that she leads around on a leash and talks to as if it's alive. She's protective of it throughout the movie, until she needs fuel for her spaceship and tosses it in without a second thought.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Wisp, alias Rainbow Brite.
  • Cool Horse:
    • Starlite certainly thinks he is, calling himself the Most Magnificent Horse in the Universe.
    • Also Orin's (later, Krys') horse On-X and Stormy's horse Skydancer in The Movie.
  • Cosmic Keystone:
    • The Sphere of Light, as it turned into Rainbow Brite's main weapon, her color belt.
    • Spectra, the diamond planet in the movie, since all light that comes to earth must pass through it.
  • Crapsack World: Rainbow Land was a dark, polluted place before Wisp arrived.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • After the Cold Opening, The Movie starts with a nice and cheerful song about spring and waking up and being energetic and the first 15 minutes or so go on just like any other Rainbow Brite episode... and then On-X the robot horse arrives and the cheerfulness goes right out the window, not to be seen until the very end.
    • There's also "The Beginning of Rainbowland Part 1 and 2" which shows that Rainbow Land had been a Death World before Wisp brought color into it.
  • Dark Is Evil: The King of Shadows is as evil as his name suggests, and he controls the power of darkness.
  • Death by Despair: A late spring results in mass depression for the Earth in The Movie.
  • Depending on the Artist: The episode "Rainbow Night" has a completely different version of the entrance to The Pits compared to other episodes and the movie.
  • Digital Destruction: In November of 2017, the series was finally released on Region 1 DVD. However, all 13 episodes were taken from the UK home video release, and as a result, they suffer from the PAL speed up problem that plagues many of Filmation's productions as well as washed-out colors.
  • Dragon Ascendant: The pilot had a dark, sinister, magical villain called The King of Shadows. It wasn't established whether he was a demon or simply a Sorcerous Overlord, but either way, he had a bumbling minion named Murky Dismal. The pilot ended with The King defeated, so Murky filled the Big Bad slot for the remainder of the series.
  • Dumb Muscle: Lurky's stupidity is virtually unsurpassed in all of fiction, but given his size, he's reasonably strong physically.
  • The '80s: The era when this cartoon was created.
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows: Practically the premise of the show is that everything is, indeed, better with more color to it, and a lack of color ruins everything.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Inverted in The Movie. The Dark Princess is a spoiled brat sorceress who wants to shanghai Spectra, a star-sized diamond without which the cosmos will wither and die. Oh, and she also uses her (lifeless) pet gemstone as ship fuel when things don't go her way.
  • Evil Knockoff: Murky creates one of Rainbow Brite herself in "Chasing Rainbows", down to a duplicate of her belt.
  • Freudian Excuse: It is revealed in the episode "Mom" that, when Murky was an infant, he loved colors, and he expressed this by coloring on the walls. This angered his mother, who told him, "You're going to get rid of every bit of that color if it takes you all day, if takes you the rest of your life."
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: Brian implies he'll do this by mentioning his dad is a lawyer if Rainbow Brite can't get the colors off of him.
  • From Special To Series: The cartoon began as a series of specials, then a movie, and then a series, which the specials became a part of.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: The King of Shadows from the pilot, who is never identified in any fashion. A case could be made for the Princess from the movie; we never find out what she's the princess of, her name, or what her motivations are besides pure selfishness.
  • Girliness Upgrade: The 2000s doll series.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Patty O'Green (with two braids), Indigo (with low pigtails), and Tickled Pink (with high pigtails).
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Wisp, the girl who would become Rainbow Brite.
  • It Is Pronounced Tropay: The Mechanical Horse from the movie is named "On-X", which is pronounced like "onyx".
  • It's All About Me: The Dark Princess only cares about what she wants, even at the expense of the entire universe.
  • Kaleidoscope Hair: In the movie, the Dark Princess's hair was red, but in the series it's orange-red with yellow streaks.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: "Rainbow Brite: San Diego Zoo Adventure"
  • Magical Girl: Rainbow Brite and to a lesser extent the Color Kids. Indeed, the Japanese dubbed version is called "Mahou Shoujo Rainbow Brite".
  • Magic Skirt: Justified in that the girls on the show are just kids.
  • The Magnificent: Starlite is the most magnificent horse in the universe. And if you ever forget, he'll be sure to remind you.
  • Meganekko: Shy Violet.
  • Merchandise-Driven: The show was made to sell toys, so new toys often got their own episodes.
  • Mini Dress Of Power
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Lurky. He thinks colors are pretty and doesn't have any idea what to do half the time.
  • Mordor: The Pits. Rainbow Brite's powers don't work there.
  • The Movie: Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer.
  • Never Say "Die": Averted in the movie when Rainbow explains why she has to go to Spectra:
    "Don't you understand? Spring will never come again if something happens to Spectra. I've never been there, but it's part of me. It's part of the colors and the joy that we bring, and if Spectra dies, happiness everywhere will die. Without the light of life, we'll all... all of us will die."
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: In the movie, Murky's bumbling attempt to ally with the Dark Princess results in his spaceship crashing through her throne room and distracting her, allowing Rainbow to defeat her.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Murky has his moments, such as when he captured and tortured Moonglow with light. In the same episode he nearly killed Rainbow by pushing her into a pit, and in the TV specials he worked for the King of Shadows.
  • Not Quite Dead: The Princess's ship hurtles out of control and then violently explodes into dust in the movie. Come the series, she shows up intact and just as nasty.
  • Not Quite Flight: Starlite can gallop on rainbows as if on solid ground, but he still needs Rainbow to create them for him. Inverted in the movie with ON-X, a robot horse who can actually fly.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The Dark Princess wants to steal Spectra even though it will cause everyone else in the universe to die. Later she tries to destroy it since she can't have it.
  • Painting the Frost on Windows: Rainbow Brite and her friends bring colors to the entire world, helping people be happy.
  • Parental Bonus: The name of Color Kid Red Butler, Murky mixing a potion in a cocktail shaker and pouring it into a martini glass, etc. Double as Late to the Punchline moments for some viewers.
  • Pet the Dog: In the movie, the Dark Princess comforts her pet gemstone and promises she won't let Rainbow Brite or Krys hurt it. This goes out the window when she needs it for fuel, though.
  • Plucky Girl: Wisp. Before she had any powers or allies at all, she went into a Death World with the intent of saving it.
  • Premiseville: The franchise is set in Rainbow Land, with the movie involving Spectra the diamond planet.
  • Rainbow Motif: The Color Kids are all named and themes after the colors of the rainbow, led by Rainbow Brite who has all of their colors.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Stormy, and Tickled Pink show up in the movie, while Moonglow first appears in episode 4, both with absolutely no explanation. In the same episode, Starlite looks at Murky's Paper-Thin Disguise and muses, "I thought I knew all the Color Kids."
  • Really 700 Years Old: According to an offhand remark in an early episode, possibly everyone in Rainbow Land, and definitely Murky at least.
  • Running Gag: Murky calling Lurky [insult] brain, although he does call him by his name sometimes. Also overlaps with Mad Libs Dialogue.note 
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Monstromurk. It probably would have gone better for Murky if he hadn't made a habit of taunting him every night before bed...
  • Show Accuracy/Toy Accuracy: Sunriser's box says she's Tickled Pink's horse, but in her only appearance in the show, she had no rider. The 2010s picture books, set in the universe of the 1980s show, finally explain the discrepancy by having Tickled Pink befriend the horse.
  • Shrinking Violet: Shy Violet lives up to her name.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": It's officially "Moonglow," "Krys," and "On-X," but you'll find "Moonglo" (which appeared on exactly one official source once), "Kris/Chris" and "Onyx" around.
  • Spock Speak: Shy Violet does this occasionally.
  • Spoiled Brat: The Dark Princess expects everyone to do as she says, throwing tantrums if things go wrong.
  • Spring Is Late: In both Star Stealer and the "Rainbow Brite Saves Spring" book and record set.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • Besides being a literal flying horse, On-X is also a literal "iron" horse. There's also the aforementioned Red Butler, though it's obvious to adults, just not to kids.
    • The Dark Princess has a Companion Cube in the shape of a cut green gem. Considering the colloquial term for them, she literally has a pet rock.
  • Sugar Bowl: Which does not preclude the occasional threat of a Sugar Apocalypse.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Murky and Lurky.
  • Token Minority: Indigo is East Indian.
  • Tsundere: Stormy, arguably.
  • Unexplained Recovery: The Dark Princess shows up in the last episode of the show with no explanation as to how she survived her ship exploding.
  • Vain Sorceress: The Dark Princess is proud of her looks, her castle, and her magic gemstone.
  • Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey:
    • It's often hard to take Murky Dismal seriously, even if he is Rainbow Brite's nemesis through the series. In the premiere, he was working for an evil sorcerer named the King of Shadows, and while this setup lasted, Murky and the King had this dynamic.
    • After The King's death and Murky's promotion to Big Bad status, Murky's idiotic assistant Lurky is even harder to take seriously than Murky, so he ends up creating this dynamic with him.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: The Dark Princess wants to steal Spectra for herself even though it will kill everyone else in the universe. Later, when she is defeated, she tries to ram her ship into Spectra and destroy it.
  • Villain Exclusivity Clause: Murky and Lurky in the original. Averted in the reboot as the story has an arc.
  • Villain Team-Up: In the movie and final episode of the TV series, Murky allies with the Dark Princess to help her destroy Rainbow Brite.
  • Wave Motion Gun: When focused, color sprinkles can act as this to color things and to be used as a weapon.
  • Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: While Rainbow Brite isn't a princess, her and Krys' initial relationship bordered on this in The Movie, with Rainbow as a Tsundere and Krys as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: There's an episode where one of Murky's creations, the Monstromurk, is said to frighten Murky. Lurky, in an uncharacteristic display of intelligence, asks Murky why he doesn't destroy the Monstromurk if it scares him. Justified in that Murky thinks he can still find a use for the Monstromurk's abilities.
  • World-Healing Wave: In the movie, once Spectra is restored all of the colors come back to earth.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Most of the cast, Rainbow Brite and Red Butler being exceptions.

1996 Tropes:

  • Adapted Out: Everybody but Rainbow Brite and Indigo is replaced with new characters in this toy line. It's a large part of why it was considered to be In-Name-Only and so poorly received.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Instead of being a human child who ascended to whatever she is now, this Rainbow Brite is the child of two of these, the sun and the rainbow.
  • Badass Creed: "Bright, brighter, brightest!" is treated like it's supposed to be this.
  • Bioluminescence Is Cool: The Color Crew, instead of using Star Sprinkles to bring color to the Earth, uses glow-in-the-dark paint. The dolls came with tiny containers of washable glowing paint, plus paintbrushes, so you could paint on their clothes.
  • Five-Token Band: Rainbow Brite is the mostly-blonde white girl, and the Color Kids are replaced by the Color Crew, comprised of East Asian Cerise, still-South Asian Indigo, black Ebony, and Ambiguously Brown Amber. Tickled Pink appears to have a counterpart in Sparkle Brite, who is black, but there's no indication of where she's from.
  • Multicoloured Hair: Rainbow Brite's hair is, well, rainbow, and nearly everyone else had this as well.
  • Multinational Team: Rainbow Brite is from space, but the Color Crew are normal Earth humans from different countries, inverting the original setup.
  • Nonindicative Name: All of the Colour Crew have Colorful Theme Naming, but their character designs don't actually reflect those colors. Indigo's theme is orange for some reason.

2005 Tropes

  • Cut Short: This version only had a short 5-minute promo video and little else.

2014 Tropes:

  • Actionized Adaptation: It has more action scenes and explicit comedy than the original series.
  • Adaptational Badass: Rainbow Brite, Stormy, and the other Color Kids have definitely more active control of their powers, and they show it.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Twink is now named "Mister Glitters".
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the original series, Stormy was a friend and ally of Rainbow Brite. In the reboot, while she and Rainbow were friends once, they've apparently had some kind of falling out, with Stormy joining up with the Dark Princess. She eventually has a Heel–Face Turn, though.
  • Age Lift: Krys. He was a kid in the original, but here, he's Brian's dad.
  • Because Destiny Says So: In the reboot, Rainbow believes that Brian came to Rainbowland for a reason. Her belief is later validated when she correctly pieces together that Brian is the son of the Spectra Warrior Krys, and in turn is a Sentinel of Light like herself and Stormy.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Brian saving and restoring Rainbow's color in the first episode of the reboot after Stormy drained it and was about to zap her with lightning.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The Star Sprinkle Rainbow Brite gives Brian early on in "Cloudy with a Chance of Gloom" is what ends up allowing Brian to save himself and later on her later in the episode.
    • When Lurky picks up Brian's hamster, something falls off his head. It turns out to be the Ring of Hallow Light that the bad guys had come to Earth for.
  • Composite Character: The Dark Princess is a combination of the original Dark Princess and the King of Shadows. Like the King, she's the Arc Villain and Murky and Lurky start out as her minions, but she has the name and design of the Princess along with her selfishness.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: The first series had its share of sparkles but this cranks it to 9.
  • Evil Former Friend: Stormy takes this role here, likely inspired by how the Pits were always associated with thunderstorms in the original.
  • Easily Forgiven: Rainbow Brite is quick to offer a chance for Stormy to make up with her in the reboot, since she still considers Stormy a friend. Everyone else, however...
  • Face–Heel Turn: Stormy in the past until she pulls a Heel–Face Turn back again.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: Almost as bad as DBZ.
  • Furry Reminder: Starlite (who acts far more human than his original incarnation) struggles to open a door with his hooves, only to remember that he's a horse and kick it open instead.
  • Genki Girl: Rainbow Brite is definitely this here.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Brian is the son, Krys, a warrior of Spectra.
  • Hand Blast: Most of the characters that fight do this, including Rainbow Brite when she isn't fighting. Brian, too, when he puts on the Ring of Hallow Light and becomes the Sentinel of Light Unseen.
  • Henshin Hero: Brian as the Sentinel of Light Unseen.
  • Invisible to Normals: It's made explicitly clear that normal humans aren't able to see Rainbow, yet Brian is somehow able to see her. In the original, this was because she'd already accidentally exposed her existence, but in the reboot, it's Rainbow's first clue that Brian is half Spectran on his father's side.
  • Legacy Character: Brian as the Sentinel of Light Unseen for his father, Krys.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Rainbow Brite hums the original theme song to herself.
    • Brian's sleep shirt has an 11 on it, like his original shirt.
    • The motorcycle Brian's given resembles On-X, i.e., black with red trim.
  • Not Quite Flight: Rainbow and Stormy ride on discs of rainbows and clouds, respectively.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: In the reboot, after two episodes of being the Dark Princess's lackey, Murky rewires the Color Cannon into a Mind-Control Device and nearly takes control of Rainbowland himself.
  • Parental Bonus: Knowledge of optics and meteorology can help viewers to understand the setting and some of the jokes. This causes some Fridge Brilliance, as light is just part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • Race Lift: Played with; Shy Violet has an epicanthic eyefold and general character styles make Indigo Ambiguously Brown instead of (East) Indian.
  • Ring of Power: The Ring of Hallow Light.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Rainbow uses "kittens" as her password, which Lurky somehow managed to figure out.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Murky and Lurky are this under the Dark Princess here.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Several characters.
  • Totally Radical: They seemed to think Rainbow would appeal to newer audiences if she talked "street" sometimes.
  • Transformation Trinket: The Ring of Hallow Light, which allows Brian to transform into the Sentinel of Light Unseen, complete with cool space armor with high-tech helmet.
  • Steam Punk: The Color Castle and Console, though its mainframe and central pillar are still Crystal Spires and Togas.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Stormy in the reboot ends up being manipulated into serving the Dark Princess.
  • The Starscream: Murky tries to rewire the Color Cannon and turn it into a Mind-Control Device in order to take control of Rainbow Land himself, but fails.
  • Wave Motion Gun: The Color Cannon.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Averted.
    Murky and Lurky grabbing gadgets.
    Dark Princess: Eh, no funny stuff. Just grab him.
    Lurky: Drops gadgets on top of Murky Awww.

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