Western Animation / Rescue Heroes

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Rescue Heroes began as a toy series by Fisher-Price. It was turned into a Merchandise-Driven children's show on Teletoon and CBSnote  that taught kids about safety and a couple of other issues starting back at 1999.

The Rescue Heroes Global Response Team is a team of emergency rescue specialists (firefighters, police, mountain climbers, divers, spelunkers, etc.) who are on call at a moment's notice to travel to the sight of big emergencies anywhere in the world and deal with them, usually employing a variety of high-tech vehicles and equipment. All this is directed by astronaut Roger Houston, who watches over the world from a space station. Conceptually very similar to the classic series Thunderbirds, but set in the Present Day.

Oh, and absolutely every recurring character has a Meaningful, Punny Name, whether he/she is based on a toy or not.


This animated series provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: All the female members of the Rescue Heroes.
  • Adult Fear: All of the numerous ways kids are put at risk and/or injured. One particularly scary one involves three kids going off-trail on their bikes; one of them gets injured and snake bit and the only one who has any idea where they went is her little brother.
    • The Missing Episode "Lava Alarm" features a family with five kids who all go off for the day right before the local volcano erupts. The two oldest get stuck on the ocean in their raft, the twins get trapped in a pit that's rapidly dissolving and the youngest, Katie's presence is only mentioned to the Rescue Heroes when they think they've completed their mission.
  • An Aesop: Besides the obvious safety tips, most episodes have some kind of lesson about interpersonal relationships and teamwork.
  • Alliterative Family: Jack and Jill Hammer.
  • Alliterative Name: Billy Blazes, Wendy and Warren Waters, Gil Gripper, Jake Justice, Bill Barker, Bob Buoy, Matt Medic, Pat Pending, Rip Rockefeller, Sam Sparks and Sergeant Siren.
  • Alternate Timeline: "Quake Me When it's Over" is an episode that centers on Wendy's dream of being in 1906 during the Great Earthquake, except she is unable to use any of the modern conveniences they have in the regular timeline.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: All of the Rescue Creatures; they appear to understand commands given by any human, not just their handlers and these commands can be full sentences. They're also able to determine what is needed in any given situation and react when insulted. This includes animals such as Claude the mountain lion and Radar the bat, creatures that are not normally known for being highly trainable.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle/Catch Phrase: "Think like a Rescue Hero. Think safe."
  • Art Evolution: Season 1 is different design wise from Seasons 2 and 3. This is due to switching from Wang Film Productions (credited as Hong Gaung) to AKOM.
  • Awesome Aussie: Sandy Beach. Besides his rescue work, he once was attacked by a shark and came out with no injuries save a broken surfboard.
  • Badass: Everybody.
    • Even some of the civilians get this. Alfredo the towel/water boy for Rocky's old high school basketball team knew exactly what to do when the team's bus crashed and their coach got knocked out and even assisted in rescuing a teammate who went back into the bus after their championship trophy and ended up in the river. He even gets to help save Rocky when Rocky gets pulled under.
  • Big Brother Instinct: All the Rescue Heroes towards the kids they rescue but Rocky gets bonus points for mentoring the current members of his old high school basketball team and training the towel/water boy in basic emergency response, the latter of which ends up saving the entire team after their bus crashes on a bridge in mid-winter.
    • Billy and Jack get this towards their biological younger siblings and Jake was part of a Big Brothers Big Sisters program and remained close to the boys he mentored, even offering to let them stay in Headquarters when their house burns down in "Four Alarm Fire And Brimstone"
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Rescue Heroes.
  • Big Eater: Rocky.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Jack spouts it a lot, driving the more serious Jake crazy. Unusually for this trope, Jake eventually learns that Jack uses the humor to defuse tense situations, a handy tool for Emergency Services who rescue people who might begin panicking and put themselves and others in more danger.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: When a contestant cheats at the race in "Race to the Finish", his "shortcut" across the ice ends up stranding him and his dog and he doesn't even get to finish the race.
  • Christmas Episode: "All Alone for the Holidays."
  • Comically Missing the Point: From "Ultimate Ride":
    Jack: Hey buddy, where were you?
    Jake: Saw a movie.
    Billy: (runs over to the computer to check out an alert) Earthquake in Tokyo!
    Jake: No, I saw that last week.
  • Cool Big Sis: Ariel and Wendy to Rocky; they also are frequently this to the kids they're rescuing.
  • Cool Bike: Jake Justice's.
  • Cool Pet: Not pets exactly but the Rescue Creatures are very cool.
  • Demoted to Extra: Roger after Season 1.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Rocky's real name is Richmond as mentioned in "Cave In".
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Jack's is Percy as mentioned in "Sibling Blowout".
  • Emergency Services: The whole show is built around them.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: In an episode involving a series of tornadoes striking near a beach, a boat is struck, knocking its passengers into the water. Gil rescues them and then asks "Were six of you in one boat?" The girl he's speaking to is still a bit groggy as she answers "Actually there were...seven. Angus! Angus isn't here!" Gil ends up having to dive after the now-drowning Angus, who had been the only person on-board the boat without a life vest.
  • Family Theme Naming: Jack Hammer and his sister Jill's names come from the old nursery rhyme about how "Jack and Jill went up a hill".
  • Foreshadowing: In "Storm of the Century", Wendy mentions they're traveling to Billy's hometown, which Billy immediately snaps at her by saying "Wendy, we never let our emotions get in the way of our work!" Guess what happens later in the episode?
  • Good Parents: Both the parents of the Rescue Heroes that we're shown and the Rescue Heroes who are shown to be parents themselves. We also see this in civilians such as the mother in "When It Rains, It Pours" who got trapped in her house, forced her kids to evacuate to the roof and immediately asks Jake if her kids are all right when he comes in to rescue her.
  • Hypocrite: Jake realizes he's being one in "Four Alarm Fire And Brimstone" when he begins the process of holding a grudge against his "little brother" Nick for coming along on a rescue and putting himself and his little brother in danger when he had tried to get Nick to forgive the neighborhood boy who accidentally burned down Nick's house with fireworks earlier in the episode. Jake's quick to acknowledge this and apologize once he figures it out.
  • I Am Not My Father: "Storm of the Century" reveals Billy's father was a construction worker along with all of his ancestors, and expected Billy to follow the same path. When Billy and his brother chose to be firefighters instead, he became frustrated and slowly lost contact with the two over the years. It becomes a major point of contention when they meet up again after years of silence between each other.
    • Gentle case with Wendy and Warren Waters in "Meteor". When Warren signs Wendy up for space training, she eventually has to tell him that his world is up in the Station but hers is "down there (Earth)".
  • Idiot Ball: Any time someone deliberately ignores safety guidelines.
  • Imagine Spotting: When Jack tells the story of how he became a Rescue Hero in "Flashback to Danger", his Imagine Spot opens with him walking while carrying a huge stack of metal beams at a construction site, to which Rocky asks "How many beams were you carrying!?" Jack admits he was stretching the truth and the Imagine Spot then restarts with him carrying a lunchbox.
  • Informed Judaism: The Waters family doesn't even get this in dialogue; just showing a menorah in their house when Wendy is worrying about Rocky in "All Alone for the Holidays".
  • It's All My Fault: Rocky is hit with this in the movie when it's revealed that his behavior in an earlier rescue resulted in Billy contracting a potentially fatal poisoning.
  • Jerkass: Avery Ator in "Up, Up and Uh Oh".
  • Like Father Like Daughter: In "Meteor", after Wendy reveals she wants to go back to Earth and has left, Roger asks Warren if he's okay with it. Warren replies "You know Wendy; she's stubborn, bull-headed and..." Roger interrupts "A chip off the old block, Sir?" Warren pauses before chuckling and admitting "I guess so."
  • Mama Bear: You can bet that if a woman has or knows of a child in danger, she'll be this trope. This includes a random civilian in "When It Rains, It Pours" who deliberately tells her rescuers that they can't leave because she and her boyfriend saw some Boy Scouts on a hike that have not returned; she's quite insistent the Rescue Heroes go after them.
  • Meaningful Name: Every single character's name has to do with their job.
  • Merchandise-Driven
  • The Movie: All in CG. Also to provide a very long commercial to promote their new toy.
  • Multi-Part Episode: "Storm of the Century" is a two-part episode; since it was in the first season which entirely consisted of full thirty minute episodes, this means it's the only episode that totals to an hour. The Global Response Team era (the second and third seasons) used the Two Shorts format (two 15-minute episodes per half hour) and had some double-length episodes itself, such as "Heroes" and "Flashback to Danger".
  • Not So Different: Rocky realizes this is true about him and the hot-dogging snowboarder the team is trying to rescue in "Peril on the Peaks"; their deviation from the plan puts them and others at risk. Rocky learns his lesson; the snowboarder not so much.
  • Papa Wolf: Mild case with Warren Waters who insists his daughter Wendy stay with him at the Space Station while she recovers from the injuries she suffered during a mountain rescue. Strong case with any father who has a child in danger or go missing during a disaster.
  • The Pollyanna: Gordy in "Race to the Finish". He's always chipper and friendly and is enthusiastic about just finishing the race because that means he raised lots of money for an orphanage; for this reason, he's a favorite of the Rescue Heroes supervising the race, despite having to rescue him every year.
  • The Power of Trust: What helps Wendy in overcoming her fear of water in "Tidal Wave"; she knows she can trust Gil to watch her back so she is able to do her job.
  • Promoted to Opening Titles: Jack starting in Season 2.
  • Punny Name: Rocky Canyon, Ariel Flyer, Jack Hammer, and many more. This even can apply to non-Rescue Heroes such as Avery Ator, Ariel's main rival in aviation.
    • Particularly egregious is movie-exclusive Maureen Biologist (mentioned in dialogue and heard but not seen). Three guess what her job is.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Averted. Rocky almost quits the Rescue Heroes in "Flashback to Danger" when he makes a mistake during a rescue. Billy convinces Rocky to stay after telling him the story about the only other Rescue Heroes to quit. Turns out that the Rescue Heroes who quit was Billy himself. He ultimately decided to stay with the team after watching an audition tape Rocky had sent in two years prior to events of the episode.
    • Straight examples show up in civilians who decide that they don't want any part of their companions' boneheaded plans.
  • Shout-Out: A few of the episode titles are this. "When it Rains, it Pours" is a reference to Morton Salt's slogan and "Going With the Wind" is a pun on Gone with the Wind.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: In "When It Rains, It Pours", Ariel, after rescuing a hiker during a forest fire, accept a job to become a spokesperson for the National Safety Council in order to teach kids about safety. After a while, she starts to miss being a Rescue Hero. Ultimately, she rejoins the team and decide to create a website to teach kids about safety. Out of all the other Rescue Heroes, Rocky was the one who was not happy about Ariel leaving.
  • Theme Tune Cameo:
    • In all the episodes of seasons 2-3, the theme tune usually plays when the group is gearing up for a rescue.
    • Bizarrely, and perhaps in an unintentional example, the theme tune from the first season shows up at the beginning of "Going With the Wind" (which was a third season episode; the second and third seasons had a completely different title theme from the first). This likely was the result of the fact that the music library didn't change from the design styles, but it can still be jarring if you knew the show long enough.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: In "A Bridge Too Far", Rocky calls in Bob Buoy for a bridge rescue and puts Ariel on the ground instead of in her chopper, to his teammates' puzzlement. As it turns out, Ariel's Spanish skills make her more useful in communicating with the Spanish-speaking locals and Bob ends up being vital in rescuing passengers who got trapped in a train car that fell into the river and two passengers who get swept away by said river.
  • Tomboy: Ariel.
  • Tragic Keepsake: A hot rod Rocky and his father refurbished serves this role in "Twister". It's unfortunately destroyed by the end.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: The location of the accident in each episode seems to never be a detriment to how quickly the team arrives, despite how widely they can vary from episode to episode. This even applies to the space station.
  • True Companions: The Rescue Heroes team. Highlighted in the Missing Episode "Lava Alarm" where Billy is gently scolded for putting himself at risk to save a parrot.
  • Two Shorts: The second and third seasons followed this format; the first season averts it.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: Revealed to be why Rocky's rival in "Twister" is so antagonistic towards him; he had this kind of relationship with his own dad and envied the wonderful relationship Rocky and Mr. Canyon had.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: While the locations of each disaster are always written in text and sometimes even directly stated, the exact location of the command center is never revealed or hinted at.
  • Whole Episode Flashback
  • Why Did It Have To Be Water Rescues?: Wendy is uncomfortable with water rescues due to a near drowning incident in her past. In "Tidal Wave", she ends up putting her fears aside to do her job, partly due to how much she trusts her partner for the job, Gil Gripper.
    • Several rescues feature civilians who are afraid of one thing or another, often something that complicates the rescue such as an acrophobe who needs to be airlifted or an aquaphobe during a water rescue. The Rescue Heroes typically are able to convince the civilians in question to put aside their fears long enough to be rescued and have occasionally been able to help them get cured entirely.

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