Recess was an American animated television series that was created by Paul Germain and Joe Ansolabehere (who worked on Rugrats until the show was originally supposed to end in 1994), and produced by Walt Disney Television Animation. It ran from September 13, 1997 to November 5, 2001 simultaneously on ABC (Saturday mornings) and UPN (Sunday mornings and weekday afternoons, beginning in 1999). Recess focused on six elementary school students and their interaction with other classmates and teachers. In many respects, it serves as an animated knock-off of prisoner-of-war movies such as The Great Escape... combined with a generally positive depiction of the elementary school experience.The main characters were:
Many plots would deal with the kids' Serious Business attitude about simple grade school life, mostly, among other aspects, recess. This includes having a designated 'King', nicknames for each other based on their main 'quality' (Swinger Girl, The Diggers, Pale Kids etc.) and the concept of popular fads quickly taking over playground demographics. The series was also well known for its large Periphery Demographic, due to every episode having at least one Parental Bonus.The series was notably the only show to premiere in the initial season of Disney's One Saturday Morning that would last the entirety of the block's run, going on well into the first two years of ABC Kids. It was also rerun the most out of all the shows on One Saturday Morning, pretty much being on all of Disney Channel's affiliates at one point or another. It was one of the few older shows to air on Disney XD after Toon Disney shut down. Yes, it was that good folks.In 2001, Recess: School's Out was released in theaters to positive reception. Please put all tropes relating to the movie there. In 2003, the film (and the show itself) was followed up with a Direct-to-Video sequel and finale, Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade.
This animated series provides examples of:
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Absentee Actor: Gus wasn't in "The Great Jungle Gym Standoff", though he made his debut a few episodes prior. (He was edited into the picture book adaptation, though.) Although someone with a good eye can see that he's actually drawn in the background in a few shots, likely as an animation goof.
The episode "Here Comes Mr. Perfect" introduces a new student named Jared. He comes up with better plans than T.J., he's stronger than Spinelli, a better poet than Mikey, smarter than Gretchen, has been to more schools than Gus, he's faster than Vince, can burp louder than Tubby so loud it shakes windows, and is a government agent. But it turns out he's a Broken Ace- He eventually explains that he doesn't have any friends, because people think he's a show-off or get jealous.
Achilles in His Tent: In "Dodgeball City", Gus refuses to take sides in a dodgeball fight, despite being a dodgeball virtuoso at one of his older schools* He was so feared, he got the nickname El Diablo. Upon seeing a younger student (a.k.a. a kindergarten kid who he was keeping an eye on) getting clobbered, however, he enters rage mode and proceeds to wipe out the opposing team single-handedly.
Adorkable: Gus, Gretchen, Mikey, Miss Grotke, and the Pale Kids. T.J. himself has his moments. And even, out of all characters, Spinelli when she devotes a cult revolving around Swinger Girl.
Adults Are Useless: Adults are often the antagonist, although they are mostly a recurring obstacle with some exceptions. When they aren't, they're worthless — Ms. Finster doesn't seem to be interested in Gus being bullied every single day despite telling the bully not to do it again. Subverted in The Movie, where all of the teachers show up to help fight the bad guy and his Mooks. There were some exceptions to this, notable the single-episode teachers Mr. E and Mr. Dude.
Adults Dressed as Children: The episode "The Spy who Came into the Playground" involved said spy disguising as a 10-year-old to get into the school.
An Aesop: Mostly in the earlier episodes, and then sometimes after the first season. Season six cranked them Up to Eleven.
Animation Bump: The Movie has better animation than the cartoon, but then again it had a much larger budget and didn't have the deadlines as the animated series has. You can spot some Animation Goofs in the series, such as Gus apparently showing up in a crowd before he actually transferred to school, and Gretchen vanishing in mid-air.
Any episode by Grimsaem also falls into this trope. Out of all five animation studios working on the series note Sunwoo Entertainment, Plus One Animation, Toon City, Anivision, and Grimsaem (The latter two are currently divisions of Sunwoo), their episodes were noticeably the most fluid and well animated. Most of their notable episodes were made during season one, such as the show's first episode. They also did the title sequence.
And the Rest: In "Lawson and his Crew" when King Bob is giving the gang medals and addressing them with nicknames that describe their defining traits, after giving Gretchen her medal and calling her Smart Girl, he gets to Gus and calls him Friend of Smart Girl.
April Fools' Plot: "The Big Prank" and its' sequel, "The Madness of King Bob", though they didn't take place on April Fools' Day. "The Big Prank" was about T.J. having to prank King Bob in order to become Prankster Prince, and the second episode was about King Bob trying to prank T.J. for revenge. Both episodes were often aired on Toon Disney on April Fools' Day.
Originally, the main six characters were given more realistic designs. When the show premiered, they had a more "cutesy" design.
In season three onwards, some episodes were made with digital coloring instead of the hand-painted cels. This was odd considering that it would go back and forth between digital and hand-painted, ending with "Bonkey Fever", the final episode to use digital coloring until the movie.
And T.J. lost the slight puppy-dog sparkle in his eyes after season one. There wasn't much explanation why, but it could've been because he was the only character with it and it looked odd compared to the others. He was also a bit chubbier as well.
Gus and T.J. are a bit taller in the later episodes, showing that the kids are getting a little older.
The colors got a lot more vibrant in season two.
Sunwoo Entertainment easily fell under this trope regarding the series. Their first episode, "Jinxed" was very off-model (As with the rest of their season one episodes). Their episodes from season three onwards (As they were absent during season two's production due to being busy with The Rugrats Movie) became more consistant, to the point where they were regarded as one of the best animation departments working on the show. Same with their job on Recess: School's Out also stood out.
Art Shift: One episode had the kids become part of a government experiment to see if getting rid of recess would improve standardized test scores. As everyone lost time to blow off steam, the color palate of the animation becomes more drab. At the end of the episode, the government allows the school to have recess again, and everything becomes vibrant as the children play outside in the sun.
As Himself / The Cameo: Twice. The late Dick Clark in "Yes, Mikey, Santa Does Shave", and Buzz Aldrin in "Space Cadet".
Asleep in Class: Gretchen in "This Brain for Hire", after staying up all night doing everyone's homework, and T.J. in "Good Ole T.J.", after staying up all night trying to revise his and Gretchen's project to give her the A grade she deserved.
Assumed Win: In "Principal For A Day." When the faculty draws a student's name out of a box to be principal for a day Randall stands up thinking he won (because he stuffed the box). The actual winner is TJ though only because the teachers rigged it so he would win.
Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: After fearing that he's going to grow up to a giant height, Mikey has a nightmare where he's a giant destroying a city in "Big Ol' Mikey".
Badass Adorable: The main kids, especially in the movie, but mainly Spinelli (For already being a Cute Bruiser), Gus (Thanks to his identity as El Diablo when it comes to dodgeball, and for being one of the cutest kids in the gang) and T.J. (For being the team leader).
Badass Teacher: Mr E. He's so awesome, no-one can even know what the E stands for. Also counts as a very Stern Teacher. There were rumors going around with the kids that he physically tore down the Berlin Wall, and even made a kid repeat the fifth grade for stammering during a book report.
Bad Bad Acting: Whenever the kids have to act, it's usually very bad. This is mainly seen in "I Will Kick No More Forever".
Beauty, Brains and Brawn: The two main girls and Cornchip Girl: Gretchen (Brains), Cornchip Girl (Beauty), and Spinelli (Brawn).
Beauty Contest: The Ashleys enter Spinelli in the Little Miss Blush beauty pageant as a joke in "The Beauty Contest". She wins.
Beef Bandage: T.J. uses one on his black eye at the beginning of "The Shiner".
Deconstructed in Randall's Friends, Randall's father tells him it's good that he spends his free time spying and tattling on the other kids rather than helping them, because that is being true to himself,
Begone Bribe: In one episode, Mikey imagines himself as a bard/minstrel when he's older. He serenades a couple, making the lady swoon and prompting her date to pay him to move on.
Mikey (the tall, fat kid who's into poetry and art) does have a nasty streak when provoked (as seen in the episode where he fakes a rumor stating that he beat up a boy and shoved him into the girls' bathroom, or the one where Mikey is picked to be a soccer goalie and his friends think he can't do it).
Gus brutally knocked out an entire fifth grade class with dodgeballs on his own.
Big Brother Bully: Cornchip Girl has one who isn't seen, but is mentioned in "The Break In", when she says that he calls her "some dumb kid".
Big Whomping Movie: The plot of the movie revolves around the kids and faculty uniting to stop a madman from plunging the Earth into an eternal winter and thus eliminating summer vacation. The series, meanwhile, focuses on mostly playground antics.
Bittersweet Ending: The ending of "To Finster, With Love", Miss Finster and Hank break up, but they get back to all the work they had missed doing when they were together and bring the school back to order.
The scene in "I Will Kick No More Forever" when Ashley Q. kicks the kickball all the way to Communist China was changed so that she kicked it in a nearby Dumpster (which was recycled footage from earlier when Vince kicked the ball all the way to the Dumpster) when it aired in some overseas versions (except for the U.S. and the U.K.).
In "Parents' Night", when Spinelli's dad (her real father, not the biker she hired to be her dad) is showing the other five kids pictures of her as a baby, he says, "Look at her on the rug with her fanny in the air". The "fanny in the air" part was cut in the U.K. (as "fanny" in the U.K. does NOT mean someone's butt like it does in America) and when ABC reran the episode (but not when Toon Disney aired it) as it got complaints for being too sexually suggestive.
Breakout Character: Gus, who ended up being the most prominent on certain promotional materials and had the second most episodes centered on him. Mikey and Spinelli also became this overtime, as did the main three teachers (Especially Miss Finster and Principal Prickly).
Brick Joke: When Spinelli calls Miss Grotke "Mama" by mistake the gang come up with several crazy schemes to help her out such as playing subliminal messages over the PA system. This is forgotten about until the end of the episode when Gretchen says "I wonder why the subliminal messages didn't work" and it cuts to Prickly and Miss Finster calling each other "Mama" and "Daddy" without thinking.
Briefer Than They Think: The show ran for four years and six seasons (1997-2001), with two Direct-to-Video movies in 2003. Because Disney never acknowledged the series ending, and due to them advertising the show after it ended as if it was still making new episodes, many people believed it ran longer.
Brilliant, but Lazy: T.J. is an absolute genius when it comes to devising schemes on the playground. Though he's got a lazy side when it comes to schoolwork. Usually T.J.'s content with a C or D grade, though he can work hard when motivated (as in "Good Old T.J.").
Broken Bird: Kurst the Worst may or may not fall under this trope: she's considered one of, if not the meanest girl at school, yet seems genuinely unhappy when people call her by her nickname and never seems to take that much pride in her mean acts, unlike most of the other bad kids at 3rd Street.
Broken Glass Penalty: At the beginning of "Principal for a Day", T.J. accidentally breaks the window to Principal Prickly's office after kicking a kickball too hard, and thus is sent to the office for punishment.
Broken Smile: T.J. wears one for most of "The Box" after going insane from the isolation of said punishment.
Broken Streak: Vince's winning streak in kickball is broken by Ashley Q. in "I Will Kick No More Forever".
Owl appears briefly in "Bachelor Gus". What makes it obvious that it's him is from his markings and design.
Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : In "Me No Know", Vince immediately gets caught by his parents and grounded when he lies to them and goes to see a movie that they forbade him from seeing...because his parents conveniently also decided to go to the movies at the exact moment that he walked out...and walked in on him quoting said movie to everyone in earshot.
With the exception of the Diggers (who aren't even related) and a bunch of nameless background characters, all named characters have unique designs.
Catapult Nightmare: T.J. when he wakes up from his nightmare of the entire town flooding during a week of non-stop rain.
The Cat Came Back: In "The Kid Came Back", the gang meet a younger boy on the playground who seems to cause bad luck to happen to the gang whenever he's around. Every time they try to abandon him, he comes back.
Chained Heat: Gretchen puts handcuffs on her and Geoffrey, to make him second think about wanting to be "by her side forever", by draging him everywhere she goes, including her science club meetings after school and skipping lunch to perform science experiments.
The Christmas special released on video. All but one of the episodes featured had nothing to do with Christmas at all, although one admittedly was about Thanksgiving.
Same with "All Growed Down", except for the last segment, which was most likely an unaired episode.
Cloudcuckoolander: Mikey and Miss Grotke have their moments. And Dottie who owns the "Yard of no return" everyone was afraid was a psychopath who kidnaps kids. Despite she actually was insane (She has conversations with her lawngnomes) she is completely harmless and very friendly.
Code Name: The gang almost always use codenames during their schemes.
In one episode Mikey rips his pants while bending, and the others try to hide him from Miss Finster, knowing that she will take him into an office to sew his pants back together. They are afraid that the knowledge Miss Finster saw his underwear will cause the rest of the school to mercilessly tease Mikey. In the end, T.J., Vince, and Gus decide to have their pants ripped as well. All four boys end up in their underwear while Miss Finster sews their pants. King Bob who understands what the other boys did for Mikey recognizes the selfless nature of it, and insists no one mock them for it.
T.J. himself is seen in his boxers in a few episodes.
Comic Book Adaptation: A few comics based on the show appeared in Disney Adventures from 1997 to 2001. "Gus's Journal" was later made into a digital comic on ABC's official website for the show, and "The Trouble with Shorts" was included as a digital and optional read-along comic (Narrated by Ashley Johnson, the voice of Gretchen) for the DVD release of Recess: School's Out. One story, "The Long Hot Recess", from 1999, was loosely adapted into "The Coolest Heatwave Ever" for season five.
Comic Book Time: Actually averted, as it's been established that while the show aired from 1997 to 2001, the show is taking place over the course of Fall 1997 and Spring/Summer 1998 (with Taking the Fifth Grade taking place in Fall 1998)
Competence Zone: Kindergarteners are portrayed as wild savages, and adults frequently can't comprehend their children's problems.
Compilation Movie: Recess: All Growed Down. Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street could count too, but while Disney advertises it as a "movie", most Recess fans consider it a "special" and not in the movie count, while All Growed Down is the third movie.
The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Nicely deconstructed in "Good Ol' T.J." In the episode, Gretchen becomes frustrated with T.J.'s ability to charm his way out of any kind of punishment from teachers. It only gets worse when they're paired together for an assignment on ancient Mesopotamia. While Gretchen does a huge amount of research, T.J. goofs around and comes up with the idea to build a ziggurat out of sugar cubes and put an army man inside. Gretchen voices her complaints to her friends, and they tell her she's wrong about T.J., and should just relax and let him handle all the work. When the project goes bad, Miss Grotke gives them a "barely passing" grade; T.J.'s fine with it, but Gretchen is devastated. This is when the subversion comes in—T.J. realizes that Gretchen, unlike his other friends, cares a lot about academics, and that he was wrong to not take that into consideration. He stays up all night and puts together a new project, presenting in the next day with Gretchen's help. It's another sign that the main characters weren't just a group of friends—they had individual personalities, and sometimes, they were right to complain about each other.
Concert Kiss: The episode "The Experiment" has T.J. and Spinelli kiss, as an experiment, in front of all their friends and all the kids in the playground, despite T.J. and Spinelli's request in not wanting to kiss in public in the first place, thanks to their friends inability to keep a secret about it.
Contest Winner Cameo: Morgan, the kid who only appears in "The Rules", was actually a winner from a contest Disney and McDonald's sponsored in 1998 when the Recess toys were out, where the winner got to appear in animated form in an episode and also win a trip to Disneyland.
In "Weekend at Muriel's", when the gang are explaining to Spinelli about how she gets through hard times, Gretchen brings up the time Spinelli called Miss Grotke "mama" in "Mama's Girl".
In "No Strings Attached", Vince brings up Spinelli winning the beauty pageant in "The Beauty Contest", and then the Ashleys bring up the time they briefly befriended Gretchen in "Outcast Ashley" when she (pretends to) join their group.
Contrived Coincidence: All four main Ashleys have little sisters named Brittany and little brothers named Tyler.
Cool Loser: The Recess Gang subverts this at times. Most of the kids have reasons to be considered "losers": Gus is shy and somewhat dweeby, Gretchen is nerdy, Mikey can come across as too nice and an Extreme Doormat, Spinelli is too aggressive to be friends with anyone, and while T.J. is considered the most popular kid in school (unless you're Gordy, who doesn't like him), he's also Book Dumb (very much) and chubby, which most kids consider "loser" traits. Vince is the only one who doesn't have any loser-esque qualities. Despite this, they're the most popular kids on the playground.
Franklin "The Dude" Dudikoff. Known as a legendary student of Third Street School who was the prankster prince, the king of the playground before he became a sixth grader, and an all around badass wanted to become a teacher because he thinks science is interesting.
Miss Grotke's a pretty cool teacher herself.
Courtroom Episode: "The Trial", "The Story of Whomps", and "The Biggest Trouble Ever"
Some sources claim that the show was created by Klasky-Csupo. Yes, the creators did work on Rugrats, but no, it was not created by them.
Creator Cameo: Paul Germain and Joe Ansolabehere appear in both "The Great Jungle Gym Standoff" and "Gretchen and the Secret of Yo".
Creepy Monotone: All the students after being sucked into the Ajimbo craze in "The Game".
Dagwood Sandwich: Mikey makes one of these in the main titles, swallows it whole, and burps from inside his belly.
Dance of Romance: Miss Finster and Hank do this in the cafeteria in "To Finster With Love"
Darker and Edgier: Season three and four had three episodes that crossed over into that territory- "The Barnaby Boys", "Prickly is Leaving" and "The Biggest Trouble Ever". Recess: School's Out also qualifies. Also if you count the Halloween special (Which may be a homage to The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror") One of the three stories involves Mikey's Bike coming to life and stalking him, then all the other vehicles in the city, and no... it does not imply a happy ending.
Death Is a Sad Thing: In "Speedy, We Hardly Knew Ye", when the kids have a funeral on the playground for Speedy, the class hamster, when he passed away during the weekend.
Decided By One Vote: Gretchen won the election against Vince this way; Vince was the last person to vote for her. Which, considering that it was stated that the class had an equal amount of boys and girls, would actually be winning by two votes.
Delinquents: The "bad kids" - Kurst the Worst, Mundy, Skeens, Sue Bob Murphy, and Lazy Kid.
Chucko was only a major character for one episode, then he started to fade into the background until disappearing altogether.
In Recess: School's Out, Lawson only appears once to give a thumbs up (after being sprayed with silly string) to someone preparing to save T.J. with the other kids. He's still listed in the credits, however. He was probably going to have a bigger role, and then his scenes were cut. At least he had it better than Cornchip Girl or Swinger Girl, who don't show up at all in the movie.
In Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade, Miss Grotke only gets two lines in the entire movie and doesn't show up after that. Justified, as the main kids all moved up to fifth grade and weren't in her class anymore.
Denser and Wackier: Inverted- season one was more fast-paced and cartoony compared to the rest of the show.
A Dog Ate My Homework: The beginning of "This Brain for Hire", which involves Spinelli saying that her dog ate her homework, T.J. ripping up his homework with his mouth and then saying his dog ate it (he still had a scrap of paper on his lip, however), and Vince said that his brother ate it.
Doppelgänger: In an episode where the gang goes to a school for a kickball game (due to a bet of their principals as they're also brothers), the rival school is a near copy of the group's school with their opponents being copies of the gang themselves.
Dork Horse Candidate: In "The Candidates", where Gretchen competes against Vince for fourth grade president. Gretchen wins by one vote. Unlike most other examples, Gretchen and Vince are actually really good friends.
The Dragon: While there is no real main antagonist to the series (since the role is often shared by Principal Prickly, Lawson, and Ms. Finster), there is an obvious dragon amongst several of them. The Dragon to Prickly is either Ms. Finster or Menlo, while Ms. Finster's dragon is Randall.
Dreadful Musician: Spinelli, according to Mikey in "The Voice". Could also be an Informed Flaw, since in the episodes which show the gang singing, she's not really that bad.
Drowning My Sorrows: Vince does this with root beer and donuts in "I Will Kick No More Forever".
Drunk with Power: Gus in "King Gus" after becoming temporary king while King Bob is out with tonsilitis.
Dude, Not Funny!: In-universe. The gang and Cornchip Girl react this way when Randall starts making mean jokes about Mikey.
Dumb Blonde: Mikey sometimes, though he's more naive than dumb. Gus also has his moments, but it's more out of naivety and gullibility than stupidity. And while T.J., who's a bit ditzy, is a brunette, some early drawings gave him blonde hair.
Dutch Angle: Used once in "The Legend of Big Kid" with the kindergarteners.
Early-Bird Cameo: Ashley T. appears briefly in the background at the beginning of "The New Kid" before being formally introduced with the rest of the Ashleys in "Jinxed".
Early Installment Weirdness: Season one might fall under this. Both Miss Finster and Principal Prickly were more sadistic, Miss Grotke wasn't as sympathetic, and everyone's voice was higher, as well as T.J. being played by a completely different kid. It was much more Off Model as well. Not to mention that the main six were more of anti-heroes, Vince was more of a Sour Supporter, and the show was a bit more cartoony.
Eat The Camera: Spinelli in "Mama's Girl", when the camera zooms into her mouth as she's screaming.
Edutainment Show: Not really, but with some morals given out at the end of some episodes, as well as various science/history facts usually given out by Gretchen, makes some airings give it an E/I (a notice put on free-to-air in the corner of the screen.
Elaborate University High: The playground has elements of this. It inlcludes a jungle gym, a kickball/baseball field, the blacktop, a wooded area, a handball wall, the Ashley's club house, a sandbox, and a basketball court. Larger and more busy than the average elementary school playground.
There are also two jungle gyms. There is "Old Rusty" which is a sheltered design and a flat top design that King Bob has his throne on.
Ending Theme: Usually, it's a shortened version of the theme song, though in "Yes, Mikey, Santa Does Shave", the ending theme was a Jingle Bells re-endition by Mikey.
Elementary School Hustler: T.J. definitely has his moments, among them being able to provide a convincing forged prescription for chewing gum. Hustler Kid is also a prime candidate, but mostly he just provides the goods while the main gang does the planning and executing, Although in First Name Ashley we see him selling phony documents and committing, what is essentially, multiple cases of identity fraud.
Ensemble Cast: The creators wanted to make sure each member of the main six got equal screentime, so they could keep it from turning into "The T.J. Show", "The Gus Show", "The Spinelli Show", etc. Though being the leader of the gang, T.J. got the most episodes focused on him, and was the main protagonist for Recess: School's Out.
Establishing Character Moment: The opening theme tells us all we need to know about the main characters. Everyone looking at TJ, who nods at them before they set off. Gus getting gum splattered over his face, tripping, and getting a ball stuck to his head. Vince kicking a ball up into the air. Spinelli threatening Randall for snitching. Gretchen working on an experiment. Mikey eating a whole sandwich in one gulp.
Et Tu, Brute?: Gretchen has this reaction in the "When Bikes Attack!" segment of "The Terrifying Tales of Recess" when her bike, Red Rocket, turns on her.
Even Evil Has Standards: There are some punishments that even Miss Finster thinks go too far, like in "The Biggest Trouble Ever" when the Mayor planned to separate the gang to six different schools.
In "The Fuss Over Finster" T.J. calls all the kids out for taking advantage of the injured Miss Finster and they all feel bad, including Lawson.
Randall Weemes was a snitch who rats on his fellow students for Mrs. Finster, however, the one group he isn't willing to snitch on are higher authority figures such as King Bob. This is also shown in the movie, when, after one of Phillium Benedict's followers tried to pin the blame on Benedict for everything and desperately bargaining that he'll "offer evidence for the state trial", Randall remarks in disgust "Jeez, what a squealer."
Everything's Better with Plushies: The main six all got stuffed dolls of them released towards the end of the '90s going into the early 2000s, at The Disney Store and Toys "R" Us. T.J., Gretchen, and Gus were released first, with Vince, Spinelli, and Mikey released later.
Pamala Adlon, Spinelli's voice actress, mentioned how she couldn't believe that there was a Gus doll before Spinelli.
Everything's Better with Monkeys: The gang's favorite cartoon character, Beanie McChimp. He even has a video game, live-action series, and tie-in chewing gum, "Beanie McGum".
Evil Redhead: Randall, Lawson, Gelman, Ashley Q., and Kurst the Worst.
Evolving Credits: A minor example. When the show began it's third season, "Created by Paul and Joe" was added to the bottom of the Recess logo at the beginning of the intro.
On the episode where Ms. Finster babysits Spinelli for the weekend, Ms. Finster arranges a luau after overhearing Spinelli talk about how boring Ms. Finster is outside of school, featuring the elderly and hunched Ms. Finster and the under-aged Spinelli in coconut bras and hula skirts. This is even lampshaded:
"The Big Prank" gives us a scene of chubby, under-aged T.J. in nothing but his boxers.
Fantasy Twist: The gang find a $100 bill and all fantasize about what they'll do with their share of the money. Each of their fantasies end with them owning and flying a jetpack, except even in his own fantasy Gus can't control his.
T.J. and Vince are often paired like this, same with Mikey and Gus.
Also Miss Finster and Miss Grotke
Felony Misdemeanor: In "Me No Know", Vince ends up grounded for a week after he goes to see a popular new movie that his parents forbade him from seeing. They forbade him from seeing it because it's (gasp!) a brainless screwball comedy. For effect, the writers invent a fictional movie rating (NK-11, as in "No Kid Under 11"), just so Vince is actually too young to see the movie.
Feud Episode: Subverted in "The Break-up". The members of the gang are mad at T.J., but T.J. isn't mad at them back.
"The A.V. Kid", between T.J. and Vince.
Final Season Casting: More like "Epilogue Direct-to-DVD casting". For the 2003 Direct-to-DVD finale, Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade, Myles Jeffery replaced Andy Lawrence (who replaced Ross Malinger earlier on) as the voice of T.J., due to the latter's voice changing.
Food as Bribe: In "Officer Mikey", Spinelli tries to bribe Brittney A. with candy so she can give back Ashley A.'s diary. It doesn't work.
In "The C Note", after finding out that T.J. found a hundred-dollar bill (Which he was planning to return to the rightful owner), the Ashleys bribe T.J. with candy so he can ditch the Recess Gang and become their friend. It (almost) works.
Forced into Their Sunday Best: In "One Stayed Clean", the gang resent having to dress formal for picture day. T.J., Vince, Spinelli, and Gretchen in their picture day getup supply the page's image.
Forced to Watch: After the Ashleys make Spinelli join their clique after it's revealed that she herself is an Ashley, there's one instance where they tape her eyes open and force her to watch a My Little PonyExpy called My Fuzzy Unicorn.
Forged Letter: In "Omega Kids," T.J. and the gang are the only ones attending school for a number of days after the rest of the students fall ill from eating tuna fish tacos, which slowly starts to drive them crazy, to the point that Gus tries to pull a stunt by handing Miss Grotke a note, which T.J. snatches from him and reads for himself.
T.J.: (Reading the note) "Dear Miss Grotke, please our son Gus from school, he is so sick he should probably stay home until all the other kids are better. Signed, 'My Mom' "? Vince: That's pathetic.
Fountain of Youth: Somewhat, one episode has Principal Prickly mentally regress into a nine year old.
Fun-Hating Confiscating Adult: Subverted when Gus kicks a ball into a yard near the playground where nobody had dared recover a ball from before (complete with a legend about a kid who disappeared after trying to do so). After actually trying, they find out that the owner's a Cool Old Lady who lets them take the entire lawn-ful of balls that had built up over the years.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: The Halloween episode which is non-canon, does a parody of both Christine and Maximum Overdrive, adult horror novels. The episode is presented quite well in a very creepy atmosphere, while the ending shows everyone cramming into a bus (In a story where the vehicles come to life and are trying to kill everyone) the driverless bus drives off with everyone trapped inside. And just ends there. It never said what happened next, but it's obviously implied that everyone is going to be killed offscreen. This is a DISNEY cartoon right?
The Ghost: Spinelli's older brothers, Joey and Vito. T.J.'s sister, Becky, was this until Recess: School's Out when she finally made a physical appearance.
Girliness Upgrade: To an extent, Spinelli in the Disney Channel promos for the show. The advertisements only included her, and she spoke like a borderline Valley Girl. This happened to be around the same time Disney Channel was going through their own girliness upgrade.
Girls Need Role Models: Gretchen and Spinelli, the "smartest" and "toughest" girl in school, respectively. While they exel in traditionally male fields, such as science and wrestling, this isn't made a big deal of. They are valuable, complex characters in their own right, and neither of them really fit the "chick" role in the Six Man Band.
Girls' Night Out Episode: "More Like Gretchen" puts the male members of the Recess Gang to the side and focuses on Gretchen and Spinelli.
Go Look at the Distraction: In "The Madness of King Bob", T.J. tells Mikey that they're giving out free snacks in one area of the cafeteria, in order for him to get up from the lunch table and activate a prank the gang were going to pull on Randall.
Go Mad from the Isolation: In the episode "The Box", T.J. is sent to the box (A punishment which is just a square painted on the blacktop), and being isolated, he begins to go insane.
Good Eyes, Evil Eyes: The protagonists usually have wider and slightly larger eyes than the antagonists.
Gratuitous English: Some of the foreign dubs leave the characters' catchphrases in English (But dubbed with their regular voice actor for the respective dubs)
Green Rooming: After Menlo's first appearance in "Officer Mikey", he doesn't show up for the rest of the first season (Minus a few unnamed and unspeaking cameos). He doesn't appear again until "The Girl Was Trouble", and then becomes a recurring character for the rest of the show.
Growing Up Sucks: The fear of growing up is a common one amongst the main six. This is mainly the subject of "The Legend of Big Kid" (With T.J.) and "Bonky Fever" (With Mikey).
Happy Dance: T.J. does this in "The Break In", "The Box", and "Bachelor Gus".
Hard Work Montage: In "Good Ole T.J." when T.J. is pulling an all-nighter to revise his and Gretchen's project.
Also, Prickly and Finster (and all the others) in the 1960s flashback in The Movie.
Hollywood Healing: In "Prince Randall", T.J. gets a black eye. The scene after he announces that he has a plan to get King Bob back to his position as king after Randall ursurps his position, his black eye is completely healed. This is a sharp contrast to "The Shiner", which aired almost a year earlier, where T.J. gets a black eye and has it over the course of a few days.
Hollywood Nerd: Gretchen and the Pale Kids (Miss Grotke is one to a certain extent, appearance-wise) are type 1, while Gus is type 2.
Hyper-Destructive Bouncing Ball: Glorp (A substance similar to Flubber), which Gretchen accidentally invented when she was trying to invent something to replace liquid soap. It could bounce to extremely high amounts, even with the slightest tap to it. In "I Will Kick No More Forever", the gang decide to mold the glorp into a kickball, so it will go high enough when Vince kicks it after losing his confidence. However, After Vince kicked it (And gaining his confidence back), it was revealed that Gus lost the glorpball, and Vince kicked the real ball. But right as the gang begin celebrating, they wonder what happened to it. Cut to Miss Finster putting it in the ball shed, it dropping, causing her to get trapped in a ball storm.
Hypno Fool: In one episode Principal Prickly thinks he's six years old.
I Am Spartacus: Used twice for Spinelli. In one episode, the Ashleys find out what her first name is and makes her join them. Her friends get everyone to change their name to Ashley, even the boys. (They do forget that Ashley was originally a boy's name.) In another episode, Spinelli gets made fun of for accidentally calling a teacher "Mama". Her friends start calling the teacher "Mama" to take the heat off her.
If You Can Read This: Some of the graffiti on the side of the school in "Gus and Misdemeanors" reads "Geoffrey and Gretchen", a refrence to "The Pest".
I Have This Friend: Gus says this when asking T.J. for advice after stealing gum for the "bad kids".
Randall:(popping out fron a nearby trash can) I am not!
I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: After the rest of the Recess Gang refuse to bow down to Randall during his brief tenure as prince of the playground, he sends T.J. to the dodgeball wall for extra punishement.
If I Were a Rich Man: After T.J. finds a hundred dollar bill on the ground, each member of the gang has a fantasy about what they would do with it. Each one involves a jetpack.
Imagine Spot: In "Teachers Lounge", Gretchen, Spinelli, and Mikey have one on what the teachers do in the teachers' lounge.
In "The C Note", each member of the gang has one about what they'd buy with the $100 bill they found, all of them including the character with the imagine spot riding a jetpack.
In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: An interesting case. The show was going to always have "Disney's" in front of it's name. However, the creators instead wished for their names to be credited, as they told the executives at Walt Disney Television that Walt Disney didn't create the show (they don't believe in crediting people for work they didn't do). So official merchandise (and the show from season three onwards) has "Created by Paul and Joe" underneath the title logo.
Though like Cars or Brave, the official copyrighted name is "Disney's Recess", as you can't put a copyright on "Recess".
In My Language That Sounds Like: Spinelli literally means "spliffs" in Italian. And it wasn't changed in the Italian dub. Awkward moments with parents ensued.
Informed Attribute: In the episode "Spinelli's Masterpiece", Ashley A. tells Ashley B. that Spinelli's drawing brings out the pink in her sweater. Ashley B.'s sweater is yellow.
Informed Obscenity: In one episode, T.J. is brought to court for use of his Catch Phrase "This whomps". The judge decided that "whomps" was not dirty in and of itself, and that only a dirty-minded person would think it was.
Ink-Suit Actor: This wasn't intended at all, but...saying Andy Lawrence looked like T.J. is like saying fish enjoy water.
Also, Spinelli looks slightly like a nine-year-old Pamela Adlon.
Possibly the straightest example would be Ms. Grotke, who looks almost exactly like Allyce Beasley (minus the glasses).
Intergenerational Friendship: Spinelli, who's nine, and Miss Grotke, who's most likely in her early-to-mid 30s. She also has this with Miss Finster later on, who's implied to be in her sixties somewhere.
Interquel: Aside from the kindergarten flashback, Recess: All Growed Down is one, taking place sometime during the series and before Recess: School's Out.
It Kind Of Looks Like A Face: T.J. is granted a corn chip in the shape of Lincoln's head for a perceived act of heroism due to his shiner. He hallucinates that the chip is talking to him and Honest Abe is saying he should tell the truth about how he got his black eye.
Jerkass: Randall, despite (or possibly in part due to) what some might see as his personal crowning moment of funny: the Mikey refrigerator spelling joke ("O-I-C-U-R-M-T"). And while he does a I Just Want to Be You rant on T.J., he kicks the dog on him as well. Only this can come from Randall.
Randall: You're fat, you're ugly, you wear that stupid jacket, but everyone wants to play with you!
Spinelli's mom has Jerkass moments; She's constantly trying to make Spinelli "more feminine", forces Spinelli to go to school when she's being bullied in "Mama's Girl" and she's outright mean to her in "More Like Gretchen".
King Bob sometimes slips into this(I.E. "The Rules" "Pharaoh Bob")
It's the Only Way: Ashley A.'s reason why she decided that Spinelli has to join the rest of the Ashleys and become like them, in fear that due to sharing the same name as them (And being completely different), she'll tarnish their name up into high school.
Judgment of Solomon: Parodied in "King Gus", when two first graders are fighting over a doll. Gus suggests that they cut the doll in half as a solution. One girl says it's okay, and the other begins crying, saying she'd rather have the doll given to the first girl than see it be cut in half. Gus gave it to the first girl because of this.
Kick Me Prank: Former student and school legend Frank "The Dude" Dudicoff once stuck a sign on Miss Finster's back which read "Pony rides for $1.00". When he comes back as a student teacher, he does it again when no one's looking, this time reading, "Point at me and whisper!".
Kids Are Cruel: Averted completely with the main six, but sometimes the student body can show shades of this trope, such as in "Mama's Girl".
Laughing Mad: T.J. in "The Box" after going insane from being isolated in the titular punishment.
Leitmotif: A few characters have one, notably Butch, the Ashleys, the Diggers, the kindergarteners, Cornchip Girl, Randall, Hustler Kid, and King Bob. T.J. originally had two leitmotifs- one played when he came up with an idea, and another played when once of his plans went into action. By the time the first season ended, only his second leitmotif was used. The rest of the gang had leitmotifs, but most of them didn't show up often, aside from Spinelli's.
Live-Action Adaptation: Rumors of one started appearing on the internet in 2006, though they were quickly debunked, as a live action adaptation was never planned to be (And isn't in the near future) developed.
Locked in a Freezer: "No Strings Attatched" had this happen as the end result. When Spinelli was given tickets to a wrestling match by the bratty Ashley group, she and her friends were naturally suspicious, except for Mikey and Gus. After many attempts to learn what the trick was, Spinelli, T.J, Vince, and Gretchen finally broke into the Ashleys' clubhouse where they discovered that the tickets were genuine. Unfortunately, the clubhouse's security system locked down, resulting in them trapped while Gus and Mikey went to the fight.
Long Runners: Averted, as the show had a normal run for a Disney cartoon (1997 to 2001 with 65 episodes and three movies), but Disney's refusal to stop rerunning the show (which they did end up doing in July 2010) made it seem like it ran longer.
Luminescent Blush: T.J. gets this for a split-second in "Some Friend" during Menlo's birthday party when Menlo's mom kisses him on the cheek.
Madness Mantra: In "The Box", T.J. singing This Old Man when he's in the box and repeatedly saying he'll be a good boy.
Magical Negro: In "Yes, Mikey, Santa Does Shave", the black man who helps Mikey find his Christmas spirit is revealed in the ending to be Santa Claus.
The Mall: The Townsedge Mall, which the gang visit in "Yes, Mikey, Santa Does Shave" and appears again in "Gus's Fortune"
Man Child: Principal Prickly clearly went into the right line of work. He's an absolute kid at heart.
Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: TJ and Spinelli on occasion. TJ is characterized by loyalty and sensitivity while Spinelli is violent and aggressive. The most obvious example is during 'The Experiment' when they both say goodbye to their childhood: TJ gives his old cuddly toy a hug while Spinelli uses hers to trash the room.
Medals for Everyone: Unlike most examples, this happens at the beginning of an episode. At the start of "Lawson and His Crew", T.J. and the gang are all awarded medals from King Bob after they stop a plan for the school having to issue uniforms.
Meganekko: Gretchen and Miss Grotke. Gus is a rare male example.
The Merch: T-shirts, coffee mugs, toys, backpacks, and various other pieces of merchandise. Most of it was only sold at The Disney Store.
One episode reveals that Theresa "Cornchip Girl" LaMaize's father is in the Navy.
Mind Rape: Being isolated in Miss Finster's "Box" caused T.J to snap and turn into a whimpering vegetable/obedient slave.
Also Miss Finster's intentions when the entire school was kept inside during recess from the rain. She intended to turn the entire student body into her mindless zombie slaves through pure boredom. Butch even Lampshades this when the same situation happened before "They were called the Zombie Class of 89' they were mindless, they had no free will" (Miss Finster cuts in) "They were mine!" *Cue evil laugh*
Moral Guardians: Not in real life, but used as a plot point: the Unusual Euphemism described below is taken by some of the adults to be profanity, and things escalate until T.J. is in a courtroom defending himself. A good chunk of the trial goes along without anyone willing to utter the word in question... until T.J. finally does. Upon realizing this whole thing is over the word "whomps", the judge promptly laughs the Moral Guardians out of the courtroom for wasting his time.
A real-life example: When the show was on the air, some parents complained that the show was portraying teachers as being bad. The creators responded with the fact that the adults are portrayed as antagonists to the point of view of the kids in the show. They're just doing their jobs.
The Movie: One theatrical movie and three direct-to-video episode compilations with linking material, one of which was notably made from unaired episodes.
The Moving Experience: The episode "Bachelor Gus" has Gus getting afraid of having to move again after overhearing a conversation with his parents. It turns out they were only moving his bedroom to his dad's map room.
Multiple Demographic Appeal: Children could identify with the show due to it being about elementary school life, and adults loved the historical and political refrences, as well as humor that not only would the kids laugh at it, the adults would, too.
Mustache Vandalism: One episode has Principal Prickly do this to his own picture while subject to Hypno Fool (and thinking he's an 8 year old child). At the end of the episode he gets distracted by it (thinking he looks pretty good with a goatee) and forgets to punish the cast.
Principal Slicer was a shockingly unsubtle example. There was even one part where Randall says he's going to have the jungle gym torn down and replaced with a guard tower. And that old cannon outside the school? He wants it to work. His resemblance to Heinrich Himmler doesn't help.
The Fun Police in the episode "The Rules". In order for the old, previously lost rules of King Mortimer to be enforced, King Bob employed Fun Police, who even had red armbands with "Fun" on them. There were also higher-up Secret Fun Police.
Nepharious Pharaoh: King Bob briefly becomes one of these in one episode, when he changes his title to Pharaoh Bob and makes the other kids work like slaves to build a mud-brick pyramid in his honor.
Averted twice in "Yes, Mikey, Santa Does Shave" when the deaths of St. Nicholas and Elvis are mentioned.
Averted again in Taking the Fifth Grade in which Prickly saves T.J from falling off his roof and tells him he could have been killed by doing something so reckless.
Lampshaded / mocked in "Speedy, We Hardly Knew Ye": The episode is about the death of the class' hamster; the word "death" is tossed around freely by the children, but Ms. Grotke always says it in a hushed whisper because she's afraid the kids couldn't handle the concept.
In "Rainy Days", T.J. has one about the never-ending rain during the week flooding the town.
In "The Pest", Gretchen has one about being married to Jeffrey in the future.
In "The Lost Ball", Gus has one about the fact that he accidentally lost one of the school's balls by kicking it over the fence being obstacles in his future.
Vince has one in "Copycat Kid" about Mikey taking over his life after trying to become exactly like him.
In "A Career to Remember", Spinelli has one about growing up without a job, and seeing her friends be very sucessful in life while she's homeless.
Mikey has one in "Big Ol' Mikey", about him growing up to be a giant and destroying a city.
The Nineties: While the show premiered in the nineties (1997 to be exact) and ended in 2001 (2003 counting the DTV movies), it's been established that the show only takes place from 1997 to 1998, even if the show is continuing into the next century.
Now Which One Was That Voice?: Only the cast for the main six and the three main teachers (most of the time — the writers can't make up their minds on whether Miss Grotke's a main or supporting character) are credited for which character they played. Everyone else is listed as "additional voices", with only the names of the voice actors/actresses and not their characters. Averted with the movie.
Novelization: "The New Kid", "The Experiment" and Recess: School's Out all got novels based off of them, and "The Great Jungle Gym Standoff" was made into a picture book. "The Break In" and "The Box" also had novelizations as part of One Saturday Morning novelization compilation.
Object Ceiling Cling: In "The Girl Was Trouble", Gretchen helps Mundy with trying to get paper towels to cling to the ceiling.
Off Model: As a whole, the show was more inconsistant in season one. The first episodes animated by Sunwoo Entertainment (Such as "Jinxed" and "To Finster, With Love") and Plus One Animation (Such as "The Break-up" and "Mama's Girl") were very off model, but both of them improved afterwards. Toon City, who began work on the show in 1999, was easily considered the worst department to work on the show, as all of their episodes were extremely inconsistant and had downright ugly animation. They didn't touch another episode after 2000.
The animation qualities of each animation studio made it somewhat easy for certain fans to know who did what:
Grimsaem (A Sunwoo division; they did most of season one including the Title Sequence) was slick and consistent.
Sunwoo Entertainment (Did other episodes of season one, season three-onwards and Recess: School's Out) was very off-model when they started out, but eventually became one of the best animation departments for the show (Especially seen in the movie).
Plus One Animation (All of season two (Sans "Dance Lessons"), other episodes onwards, and the Direct-to-Video movies) had stiffer, more limited animation, and were prone to going off model a lot.
Toon City (One episode ("Dance Lessons") of season two and other episodes afterward, only from 1999 to 2000) were extremely inconsistent and animated the show in a bouncy, fluid style which made the show look more deranged than usual.
Finally, Anivision (Another Sunwoo division) only did one episode ("Recess is Cancelled"), but was pretty consistent for the most part.
Older Than They Look: From one episode, "The Spy Who Came In From the Playground", James Stone, a boy who befriends the gang but is revealed to be a 42-year-old spy for the Board of Education who is bald and shaves.
One of Us: In-Universe example: One episode has the kids discovering that Principal Prickly is a huge fan of the series' Captain ErsatzSuperman, Señor Fusion.
One-Shot Character: There have been a number of kids who have appeared in one episode and no others:
Johnny "Baby Tooth" V. ("That Stinking Feeling")
Becky Benson ("A Science Fair to Remember")
Jared Smith ("Here Comes Mr. Perfect")
Brock the A.V. Kid and Lance the Pants ("The A.V. Kid")
Yope Halberson ("Yope from Norway")
Chad LaSalle ("Big Brother Chad", though he does appear very briefly in Vince's Imagine Spot in "Copycat Kid")
Peanut Butter Kid, or Sandwich Boy ("The Kid Came Back")
Only One Name: While most of the characters have first and last names, some characters lack a last name, such as King Bob, Francis (Hustler Kid), Butch, Jordan, Jerome, Sam, Dave, and almost all the kindergarteners (Sans the Brittneys).
On Patrol Montage: In "Lawson and his Crew", Lawson and his new crew have one of these.
On the Next: Episodes from 1999 onwards had an "On the next episode of Recess" voiceover playing over the credits, even if the next week's episode was a repeat. Once One Saturday Morning switched to ABC Kids, these voiceovers were dropped.
Orphaned Punchline: The ending of "Teachers' Lounge" had Principal Prickly delivering the punchline, "...and so I said, 'That's no kindergartner, that's my wife!'," to great reception among his peers. The second short of the episode, "Randall's Reform", has his opposite number, T.J., delivering the same punchline to his own peers and getting a similar reception. Not So Different indeed.
Paste Eater: Discussed and parodied in "Outcast Ashley" when Gus tells the gang that Gretchen and Ashley A. were walking to school together. The rest of the gang don't believe him, and Vince tells him that eating paste is bad for him.
Perfectly Cromulent Word: "Whomp" (used in the same context as "stinks", "sucks", or "blows" to describe an unfair or unpleasant situation or person).
Personality Swap: Briefly in "Copycat Kid". After Vince is fed up with Mikey acting and dressing exactly like him, he decides to show Mikey how stupid the idea was, by acting and dressing exactly like him.
Picked Last: Explored at least a couple times. Played with a bit by having the second-to-last pick actually be the worst sports player (e.g. a random kid with a broken leg and crutches, or Gus), but the one picked last is being socially snubbed.
"Partners in Crime" takes this trope to its logical extreme when neither Randall nor Menlo are picked at all for a game of tag.
Pie in the Face: Gus gets pied in "The Madness of King Bob" (It was meant for T.J.) and not just on his face- all over his body, actually. The "Animation Camp" bonus feature on the DVD of Recess: School's Out has a part where one of the show's artists teaches the audience how to animate a scene of Spinelli getting a pie in the face.
Pilot: "The Break-In", which was made in 1996 to get the show on the air. It was re-made into the first episode in 1997, though changing the character designs from the pilot to the ones in the series proper.
Planet of Steves: The four Ashleys (five actually, Spinelli's first name is Ashley, too). And their little brothers are all named Tyler. Especially used in First Name Ashley where the whole playground changes its name to Ashley.
In another episode, there are the Megans, a thinly veiled Expy of the Ashleys, whose catchphrase is "LUDICROUS!"
The Ashleys also have little sisters named the Brittanys, who are all Kindergartners.
Playground Song: Being a show that takes place at an elementary school, expect these to pop up every now and again.
Playing Sick: Used in "Omega Kids" where Gretchen looks up an illness to keep the gang out of school by drawing green dots on everyone with marker and having them lick blue lollypops so that their tounges looked blue. It worked too well, as Gretchen mixed up the colors and they ended up looking like they had an even more serious disease.
Politicians Kiss Babies: Parodied in "The Candidates"- when Gretchen and Vince are running against each other for class president, they have to kiss the pets of the other students, including fish. The boys tries to discredit Gretchen (who's running against Vince for class president on a platform of "Girls for Gretchen", although she genuinely wants to do a good job) by having her asked to kiss a pet lizard. She gets out of it by claiming to have a cold.
Positive Discrimination: Subverted in "The Candidates". Spinelli tries to use girl power to get Gretchen votes, but Gretchen says herself that being a girl is immaterial to being president. In the end, Gretchen wins partly because of the girl vote, but also because Vince voted for her.
Potty Dance: Mikey, after T.J. makes him drink water from a hosepipe.
Produce Pelting: Randall is hit with the rest of the student body's lunch contents in "Stand Up Randall" after he tattles on another kid at the beginning.
Protest Song: In "The Great Jungle Gym Standoff", the kids (And later their parents and some of the teachers) sing "We Shall Not Be Moved" on Old Rusty to prevent it from being torn down. The song was later included on the audio cassette, The Music of One Saturday Morning along with the show's theme song.
Punishment Box: it's just a square drawn on the playground floor. T.J. at first laughs it off, but eventually it breaks him.
Punny Name: Guy McMahon, the representative of Kiddie Cosmetics.
Putting on the Reich: The anti-germ movement in "Germ Warfare". Seriously, the banners and the speech are almost identical to the Nuremberg rallies.
"Rashomon"-Style: In "The Trial", where the kids hold a trial to see if Spinelli was guilty of throwing a rock at Randall during a dirt clod war. Randall claimed that Spinelli was ruthlessly attacking all the kids in the dirt clod war and then threw a rock at him, and Mikey claimed that Spinelli was looking out for the good of the rest of the kids when Randall hit her during a "time out" when she was making sure someone was okay, causing her to throw a rock at him in anger. After persuasion from T.J., Spinelli tells her story: She was about to throw a dirt clod at Randall, until she heard a cat from up in a tree and rescued it. It turns out that it was Miss Finster's cat, and Finster complimented her for finding her cat. Randall then adds that he threw the rock at his head all along out of jealousy that Finster complimented Spinelli.
The Lilo & Stitch: The Series crossover. By that point, Recess had ended its run and the cast had come back to reprise their roles... at least most of them. T.J., Mikey, and Gus were all replaced.
Lloyd in Space, which was made by the same creators, counts in a way. Pretty much every voice actor from Recess came to do voices on the show, including Ross Malinger, who only played T.J. for season one and two episodes of season two.
Implied to be Ms. Finster, although she's only seen grading in one episode; she mostly seems to just be in charge of Recess. The DTV "epilogue", Taking The Fifth Grade, shows her to be the fifth grade teacher, something never hinted at anywhere in the rest of the series.
Dr. Slicer is definetly this, put emphasis on the sadist part.
Same Clothes, Different Year: Usually any flashback of the gang (Not counting kindergarten) will have them wearing their outfit in the series proper.
Saturday Morning Cartoon: Seasons one to three, and then five, airing on ABC's One Saturday Morning. Season four (Produced at the same time as season three) and season six (Which consisted of leftover episodes that hadn't aired yet) aired on weekday afternoons on UPN and in synidication for Disney's One Too.
School Play: The Holiday pageant in the Christmas special.
Science Fair: The premise of "A Science Fair to Remember". It establishes that everyone except Gretchen only does volcano models. However, Gretchen's project ended up being stollen by Becky Benson, resulting in Gretchen being automatically disqualified.
Cornchip Girl could be in either 1st or 2nd grade, but in "One Stayed Clean" she's nowhere to be seen when those grades are getting their picture taken and she seems to be in kindergarten since she spends most of her screentime with them, even though other episodes have shown that all kindergartners dress and act like savages and she's never been shown in kindergarten before.
Gus is shown to be a new kid in school in grade 4, yet All Growed Down shows him in Kindergarten. The Great Jungle Gym Standoff also apparently takes place before Gus transferred to school yet he appears in a few shots (probably an animation goof — happens all the time). They explain Gus being the new kid again in fourth grade by the very canon fact he transferred many times over the past four years. The fact that he went to 3rd Street for a few days then transferred out fits his backstory well. Nobody (except Finster) remembered him because everybody who would actually have a reason to remember him was too young to remember. His friends think Gus made the whole thing up mostly because he helps over half of them become who they are today.
And on a similar note, despite that it was established that Old Rusty had fallen down and replaced with what T.J. christened "New Rusty", the jungle gym is still referred to as "Old Rusty".
Menlo is revealed to have been T.J's best friend in the past, except for some reason another episode shows him speaking about him like he just heard about him.
The Great Can Drive episode shows The Ashleys being in a separate class from Mikey and the gang, yet other episodes show all four being in Ms. Grotke's class.
Series Fauxnale: "Lawson and his Crew" was intended to be the final episode to air on TV, and The Movie was supposed to be the true finale. However, the show was so popular that it was renewed for another season note which was actually made up of unfinished episodes in between seasons three and five...and, thanks to Disney's sixty-five episode limit, didn't last long. There were the DTV movies, however * which were also made from unfinished episodes.
Serious Business: Recess itself is like this, as is everything else — and who honestly didn't have this happen when they went to elementary school? The Monstickers and Ajimbo game especially take the cake.
In "Spinelli's Masterpiece", when Spinelli creates an elaborate work of art with colored chalk on the blacktop, the gang are so impressed with her creation that they do everything they can to prevent anyone else from destroying her creation, bringing all the other kids up to the jungle gym for the best vantage point to see her drawing, even convincing Miss Finster and Principal Prickly that the drawing must be preserved. Subverted at the end when Spinelli scoffs, "It's just a stupid chalk drawing."
Satellite Love Interest: Johnny V. was this for Spinelli in "That Stinking Feeling". Due to him not appearing after the episode, it's pretty much confirmed that he only existed as a temporary love interest.
Shaggy Dog Story: "The Break In". The gang go to drastic measures trying to get T.J. out of detention. As soon as they get all the other kids to help them and their plan is almost a sucess...T.J. breaks himself out. This is even taken Up to Eleven when he breaks out at the very end of recess.
"Officer Mikey": The gang go through a huge Chain of Deals to get Brad to make Mikey a safety ranger...which he gives up by the end of the episode.
Ashley Spinelli's last name is a reference to Maniac Magee novelist Jerry Spinelli.
Mikey's last name, Blumberg, is named after Barry Blumberg, a producer at Disney Television Animation who convinced the company to give the series the greenlight. Not to mention, he also appears to have a Great Uncle Merry.
Ever notice that Upside-Down Girl looks and dresses an awful lot like a certain someone? She even has the same voice actress, who plays several characters on the show, but specifically uses her Helga voice for Upside-Down Girl.
Also, King Bob may be a reference to another character from Hey Arnold!: Big Bob Pataki, The Beeper King. They have similar appearances: unibrow, dark hair, perpetual scowl, and are both bossy and don't like being distracted from whatever has their attention.
The "Terrifying Tales of Recess" segment with Mikey's living bike starts out as a parody of Stephen King's Christine and later when the other kids' bikes come to life it turns into a parody of Maximum Overdrive.
The series is literally littered with shout outs to Hogan's Heroes, but one episode takes the cake with a senior citizen that TJ is visiting recalling the POW camp he was in during the war to be filled with Expies of the cast of Hogan's Heroes. The flashback ends with the Kommandant yelling, "ROOOOOGAN!"
Matter of fact, this entire series is pretty much an Expy of Hogan's Heroes: T.J. and the gang are expies of Hogan and his men; Principal Prickley is an expy of Kommandant Klink; Miss Finster is a more competent expy of Sergeant Schultz; in fact, the Third Street School playground looks almost like a compound of a prison camp.
The prequel-movie All Growed Down is named after the Rugrats movie All Growed Up and, as one may expect from the name, has an inverted premise. All Growed Up was a sort of look-ahead to the future of the Rugrats characters' lives, while All Growed Down shows us the Recess gang when they were in kindergarten. The main difference is that Rugrats turned it into a full spinoff, while Recess did not. This is also funny when you remember that the creators of Recess worked on Rugrats before the show was supposed to end in 1994.
In "The Story of the Whomp", Miss Grotke is seen reading "Hillary Poffer" (complete with matching font), though it looks disguised as a romance novel.
In "First Name Ashley", Spinelli is forced to watch pony movies with her eyelids held up, an obvious reference to A Clockwork Orange.
Shown Their Work: In the episode where Prickly is hypnotized into thinking he's 6 years old, when the kids tell him he's not really a child and has to go back to being a grown-up he gets upset, climbs up Old Rusty and strips down to his underwear for seemingly no reason. It's typical for 6-year-olds to take off their clothes when upset.
Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Lawson, to both TJ and Vince. He is often described as the arch-rival of TJ, but he doesn't really seem to single him out; however, we frequently see him butting heads specifically with Vince.
Six-Token Band: The Recess Gang, though not as huge as other examples. We have T.J. (White, chubby, and Ambiguously Jewish), Vince (Black), Spinelli (Italian), Gretchen (White, wears glasses), Mikey (White, overweight), and Gus (White, wears glasses).
So Unfunny It's Funny: Some of the jokes from the joke book Randall tells in "Stand Up Randall" come off as this.
Almost everything Lawson says
Spaghetti Kiss: Parodied with Mikey and Kurst the Worst in "Kurst the Not So Bad"
Speaking Like Totally Teen: In "Kids in the Mist", Dr. Quilty tries talking like this to the kids in an effort to "communicate" with them.
Special Edition Title: In "Lawson and His Crew", when the show returned from the commercial break, a different version of the theme was shown- this time replacing the Recess Gang with Lawson and his crew. The theme song is also shortened for time (Though ABC did briefly use a shortened version of the theme to play when the show returned from a commercial break, which they did for the other shows on the One Saturday Morning block as well if running a Two Shorts format).
Spell My Name with an "S": Gus's last name is sometimes spelled as "Griswold", in the episodes "The New Kid", "Gus's Last Stand", and "Gus's Fortune". The official spelling is Griswald, as seen on official merchandise.
T.J.'s last name is spelt "Detweiler", though some sites spell it as "Detwhiler"
Menlo's name has been spelt as "Menlow" at times.
Miss Grotke has about five spellings of her last name.
Fillmore! could also be considered one, as it's another Disney show where everything in school is Serious Business and Mundane Made Awesome. Spinelli even makes a cameo in one episode. Even further, it actually replaced the timeslot for Recess on ABC Kids, though both shows were in repeats by then.
Also Lloyd in Space, which was made by the same creators and features almost all of the same voice actors. Most notably is Lloyd, who shares the same voice as Gus (Courtland Mead).
The show's been considered one to Peanuts, ever since it started airing.
Stock Audio Clip: The Ashleys' catchphrase, "Scandalous!", as well as Gus's scream.
Stock Sound Effects: The school bell (Already a stock sound effect on its' own), which is used at the beginning of the theme song and in almost every episode ("The Story of Whomps" uses a different bell sound effect, though).
Strong Family Resemblance: T.J. looks like his mom, Vince looks like his dad, Spinelli doesn't really look like any of her parents but looks a bit more like her mom, Gretchen looks like both of her parents, Mikey looks like his mom (and has the same hair color as his dad), Gus looks like a smaller, less rugged version of his dad (and has his mom's eyes and glasses), the Ashleys all look like their moms, and Hustler Kid looks like his dad.
Randall looks like a minature version of his father, only with more hair (and no pencil mustache).
One episode involved Spinelli having to stay over at Ms. Finster's house for the weekend, discovering Finster was a close friend of her grandmother.
Another episode had the main six follow Ms. Grotke after school and discovered she had a secret double life performing.
The movie Recess: School's Out showed that the teachers were just as pleased to have summer vacation as the kids were. Principal Prickly stated his intention to spend summer on a golf course, and at the same time T.J. expressed interest in T Ping the exact same golf course.
Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: The show subverts the usual cartoony way of giving all the girls eyelashes and none of the boys- neither are drawn with them. Though most of the girls of the show are drawn with fuller lips than the male characters, with the exceptions of Cornchip Girl, and actually, any female character under nine.
The only characters with eyelashes, actually, are Miss Grotke, Becky, and the main sixs' moms. They probably wear mascara.
Test Kiss: The whole plot of the episode "The Experiment".
Theme Tune Extended: There's a slightly longer version of the theme song than the one used in the show. It's never been released on an official soundtrack, but it's availiblle as sheet music. It's also played in Recess: School's Out
Throwing Out The Script: Invoked. Mikey starts overly structuring his life and loses his knack for poetry. So his friends write on his schedule to tear up the horrible bit he had written to be performed (though not in those words). And in his anxiety, he starts winging it, winning the competition.
Truth in Television: Probably what made the made the humor in the series resonate so well with different age groups. The "unwritten code" note Don't be a snitch, kids speculating what the teacher's lounge is like, claiming different areas of the playground as clubhouses, having to dress up ridiculously nice for Picture Day, and the Serious Business of kickball? All common things of Elementary School.
Unintentional Period Piece: The earlier episodes came off as this at times, but for the most part, it was downplayed. The creators didn't want the show to be dated, which is why the kids aren't drawn with "cool" hairstyles or clothes. Though the only real dated aspects are technology refernces.
Unnamed Parent: All the parents of the kids, sans Spinelli's parents (Bob and Flo).
Vocal Evolution: Because the kids in the show are all voiced by real kids, their voices ended up getting lower throught the show's run. Vince's voice broke half-way through the first season, Mikey's voice got a little lower in season five (and then completely broke in the 2003 DTV movies), Gus, Randall, and Digger Dave all had lower voices in the DTV movies, and Digger Sam's voice broke in the DTV movie Taking the Fifth Grade (due to this, we never hear him speak in All Growed Down). It was lampshaded at the end of the movie:
Digger Sam:: My voice! What happened to my voice?
Gus also had a slight lisp in some of the early episodes, as Courtland Mead had one at the time.
Averted with T.J., unlike the other male characters. Because the creators wanted his voice to always sound cute and youthful, he was replaced three times.
Miss Finster was less sinister sounding in the early episodes of season one.
When T.J.'s mom first appeared in "Parents Night", she had a higher voice (Similar to the one April Winchell uses for Peg Pete or Lydia Pearson). For the rest of the series (And movies), April Winchell used her natural voice for her.
Walk Through The Camera: Mikey in "The Voice" when he's trying to show the rest of the gang that Miss Salamone, the music teacher he developed a crush on, liked him back. He comes in as soon as she accepts her fiance's proposal.
The Walls Are Closing In: In "The Box", when T.J. is going insane after being sent to the said punishement (a square drawn on the blacktop), he imagines it going underground and having the walls begin to close in on him.
Wanting Is Better Than Having: One episode had the kids build a cool fort to hang out in, only to have it promptly stolen from them by bullies. After spending the whole episode trying to win it back, afterwards they realize that it was more fun trying to take back the fort than actually hanging out in it. They promptly call up the bullies to try and take it back from them.
Welcome Episode: "The New Kid", for Gus, and as a rare example, aired as episode 1B (first episode; second story after the commercial break).
Wham Episode: "The Biggest Trouble Ever", where the gang accidentally breaks a priceless statue and become town scapegoats, to the point where the Smug Snake of a Mayor plans to break them up and send them to six different schools. Sure, you know it'll be resolved and nothing will change, but it's easily the most dramatic story Recess ever did.
Flo Spinelli: ...And you must be B.J.- he's the one our little honey-bunny [Spinelli] has the crush on!
What Happened to the Mouse?: Johnny V. is never seen again after the events of "That Stinking Feeling". Neither is Becky Benson from "A Science Fair to Remember", nor is Lance the Pants from "The A.V. Kid". Most of the one-shot kids usually move away after their debut, but it's unknown what happened to these three.
With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Gus in "King Gus" and "Hustler's Apprentice", and TJ in "Principal For A Day" and "Economics Of Recess". And "Pharaoh Bob" to an extent but he already had great power, he just overdid the ego.
Wolverine Publicity: Being the highest rated and most popular show on One Saturday Morning (And Disney's One Too), T.J. and the gang were always front and center and the most prominant on every advertisement, print or on TV, for the blocks. To the point where it continued even after Recess had aired its' final episode.
Spinelli and Gus got this type of publicity during Recess promos on Toon Disney, overshadowing Mikey, Vince, Gretchen, and even T.J.. Though this is somewhat justified as Spinelli and Gus were only second behind T.J. as the most popular and iconic characters of the series (The three were the most prominant on every promotional item released since the 1990s), and it woudld've been too difficult for T.J. to get new dialogue written for the promos due to Andrew Lawrence's voice breaking (And possibly Myles Jeffrey's depending on when they were recorded), and it was easier with Gus and Spinelli because Courtland Mead's voice hadn't had broke yet for Gus, and Pamela Adlon was already an adult when she began voicing Spinelli so her voice would never have broken. Once Courtland Mead's voice broke, Spinelli took front-and-center on almost every promo for the show until Toon Disney's demise in 2009.
Wrong Genre Savvy: "No Strings Attached". Basically, the Ashleys give Spinelli six tickets to a wrestling match. Knowing what the Ashleys are like, Spinelli and the others become suspicious, and when Mikey and Gus decide that the tickets are real, the rest of the gang dismiss the idea as naïve. By the time they find out that Mikey and Gus were right all along, they end up locked inside the Ashley's clubhouse....
You Are Grounded: Vince towards the end of "Me No Know" after seeing a movie his parents forbid him from seeing.
You Are Too Late: By the time the gang arrived in the cafeteria to break T.J. out of detention in "The Break In", T.J. broke himself out, and shortly after, recess ended.
You Meddling Kids: In the Barnaby boys episode, the janitor that the gang follows turns out to be a criminal and responds with "I would have gotten away with it too if it weren't for you meddling kids" after Spinelli shows up with the police.