An All-CGI Cartoon from Mainframe Entertainment, makers of ReBoot. Shadow Raiders (1998-1999) tells the story of a quartet of planets divided by war for generations as they band together to defend from The Beast. Princess Tekla, not just the last survivor of her kind but of her solar system, flees her doomed world to warn the people of planets Fire, Bone, Rock and Ice about the coming threat. Graveheart of planet Rock, King Cryos of Ice and Princess Tekla fight off her pursuers and band together. From there, the story chronicles the struggles to form an Alliance against the Beast; battling prejudice, hatred, and suicidal pigheadedness, and that is just among each other!The main cast includes:
Graveheart — "I'm just a miner." Not just a big hero, but also The Heart who keeps the warring temperaments of the Alliance to working together. Surprisingly humble, open, and level headed.
Jade — The Lancer to Graveheart, she is a proud warrior to Graveheart's humble miner. Distrustful and somewhat disdainful of others, she considers her first loyalty to be to Lord Mantle, Rock's ruler, and not the Alliance as a whole.
Prince Pyrus — "I'm the Prince, I get to do what I want"Hot-Blooded child prince of Fire, he chafed under the role of leader but was often assertive and responsible. Despite his quote, he was not so much a brat as unchained by "tradition", especially when it was xenophobic. His trust in Femur was one of the things that helped the latter be somewhat less contemptible.
Lady Zera — The spitfire Tagalong Kid, and haughty princess of planet Ice.
Zuma — A late addition, a psychic woolly being who is wise and contemplative.
With the enemy there are only three characters, which are technically (if not actually) part of The Beast Planet, a single organism.
General Blokk — Short tempered and violent. Prefers to deal with problems via brute force.
General Lampray— Manipulative and scheming. Takes a more subtle approach favouring deception and subterfuge.
General Voyd— The Voiceless. Casts the tiebreaking vote when Blokk and Lampray can't agree on a course of action.
Remarkable for having a solid continuity between episodes and a lot of Character Development. Though it follows most animated show conventions regarding onscreen violence (no one is seen to die, those killed go up in a burst of light without any blood) it started becoming increasingly dark in its second season, with the destruction of several planets. There was going to be a third season, that was going to give some of the Beast background, but the show ended up cancelled.There is a DOS game based on the toy line: 'War Planets: Age of Chaos'
This show provides examples of:
Abdicate the Throne: King Cryos does this at one point after becoming worried that he is letting personal priorities interfere with his duty. His successor later abdicates in favour of returning the throne to Cryos.
A Child Shall Lead Them: Prince Pyrus, the youngest of all the world leaders, is the most willing to abandon the ancient feuds and pointless hatreds that have divided the cluster for generations.
Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: One of the reasons Jade, as an offworlder, is immediately suspected in the murder-mystery seventh episode. "We of Fire never kill our own!"
Apocalypse How: The Beast Planet is a Planet Eater, and its combination of ability to travel between galaxies and actively seeking out "prey" could bump it to a Class X-2 threat.
Artistic License - Astronomy: Moving a planet any distance from its sun would cause catastrophic climate and gravitational changes; moving too far away would reduce them to icy, barren husks. None of the planets seem worse for wear when the planets flee the solar system, though. We do see some sort of atmosphere shield activate before the world engines engage, so there's probably that as a Hand Wave.
The Assimilator: The Beast absorbs and learns from everything it devours, and can even make copies of the originals. However, made of null matter, the fake worlds are extremely unstable and any evil intention on its part to use them as a weapon is liable to literally explode in its face.
Awesome Moment of Crowning: In the final episode of the second season, Jade passes the leadership trial and becomes the new monarch of Planet Rock.
Beware the Nice Ones: Graveheart. Usually the compassionate and mild-mannered leader of the Alliance, but keep in mind that this is also the same man who snapped like a twig and took out most of Fire's aerial fleet by himself after his brother was killed right in front of him.
BFG: The Sonic Cannons, which are industrial mining equipment.
Bittersweet Ending: The Prison Planet is used to teleport the Beast Planet and strand it in some far off section of the galaxy, Graveheart kills Blokk, and the planets are finally at peace. But the Beast itself is still active and is still preying upon other worlds. The last seconds of the final episode show the Beast preparing to devour Planet Reptizar....
Blind Obedience: Lord Mantle seems to believe everyone should act this way towards him.
Bloodless Carnage: The amount of killing happening on screen is surprising for a kid's show, but there are no gibs or blood. Usually when someone is killed it's in a big flash of light after getting blasted by one of the many Energy Weapons being used by both the heroes and the villains.
Break the Haughty: The clip show episode reveals that part of the reason why Graveheart is so humble is because his kid brother died in a raid on Planet Fire that Graveheart was leading.
Breather Episode: "Period of Adjustment". The remaining planets are able to keep ahead of the Beast Planet due to the world engines so they are out of danger for the moment. The focus of the episode is on the Alliance's food shortage problem, and Femur's inept efforts to get himself back into the Alliance's good graces.
Clip Show: The episode Graveheart has a crisis in his leadership role.
Daddy's Girl: Zera. So much so that her dad abdicates the throne because he realises that she will always come first, even over his duty.
Darker and Edgier: The Prison Planet arc. Though the series was already fairly dark and edgy by 90's Saturday morning standards, the arc was considerably much grittier than the episodes that preceded it.
Debut Queue: One character per episode for the first five or so.
Depraved Bisexual: Jewelia spends most of her screentime hitting on Graveheart (and arguably Cryos) in the creepiest manner she can, and then does it to Jade when they finally duke it out in "The Long Road Home":
Jewelia: Oh, you play rough. And here I thought you weren't my type...
Eldritch Abomination: The unstoppable Beast Planet and its demonic extensions. It does not spread madness, but no matter what happens, nothing can harm it.
Et Tu, Brute?: Jade gets mixed up in a particularly cruel case of betrayal, when the group's survival depends on a reluctant king. She ends up giving a valuable tool to the power hungry King of Rock to ensure his co-operation. Her position as his Captain of the Guard does not help, and when she chooses loyalty to her king, she ends up betraying her friends
Evil Chancellor: Subverted with the Vizier. Despite displaying outright contempt for the other members of the alliance, he admits that he does respect them. Played straight later on when an evil duplicate of him turns up.
Faceless Masses: Just about every soldier in the four planets, and they were the good guys!. Taken to its literal extreme by the Beast Planet, whose soldiers are actually called drones and are literally nothing but mindless extensions of the Beast Planet itself, and their models literally lack faces.
Fantastic Racism: All of the races hate all of the other races, mainly due to the history of mutual raiding. The people of Fire and Ice go so far as to (falsely) believe that physical contact between their species is fatal. This really causes trouble in the series, particularly when the people of Fire lose their planet and must emigrate to the moons of Rock.
Fantastic Slurs: "Rockhound" is the traditional slur for the people of Rock, Fire people are often called "hotheads" and "lavaheads", and Ice people have been referred to as "ice fleas" and "insects".
Bone: Italy, specifically Renaissance Italy in the time of the Borgias, what with its political system encouraging back-stabbing. Also has food items called cannolis and the main Bone character talks with an Italian-American accent.
Rock: Harder to pin down, but its thriving mining industry, arid climate and petulant, xenophobic warlord ruler give it the feel of a post-colonial African dictatorship. It helps that most of the Rock people aside from Graveheart are voiced by black actors.
Head-in-the-Sand Management: Lord Mantle of Planet Rock seems determined to blithely ignore anything that contradicts his view of Planet Rock as the ultimate power in the system. Show him a video of the Beast Planet effortlessly shrugging off a much bigger Wave Motion Gun than his Battle Moons have? He insists that Battle Moons can handle it and so Planet Rock doesn't need the Alliance and can stand on its own.
Interspecies Romance: Femur has a real thing for women who are not from his planet. He hits on Lamprey in his introductory episode (until she reveals her true nature as his enemy), and then flirts with the "reactivated" Tekla up until it is revealed she is being possessed by Lamprey. His steadiest "crush" is Jade, blunt-spoken warrior-woman of Rock, whom he flirts with through the entire series. His brother also seems attracted to her when they meet in the final episodes, and there seems to be something between Graveheart and Tekla throughout the series. And then there is Pyrus and Zera, despite the complications of a fire/ice romance...
Improbable Aiming Skills: The heroes have an amazing knack for hitting the tiny containment unit of the Beast Drones when not using the heavy sonic cannons.
Jerk Ass: Lord Mantle of Planet Rock. Absurdly stubborn and arrogant, he is the only ruler who refuses to see that the Alliance serves the best interests of all planets, and only joins the Alliance at the last moment because he sees himself as having a chance to take control of it. In the last episodes of the second season, he demands to be placed in charge of the Alliance when Graveheart is presumed lost on the Prison Planet, and eventually uses a stolen Command Data Crystal to paralyse Alliance ships in the face of attacking Beast Drones, resulting in multiple deaths before he finally gets his way. It's telling that basically nobody in the Alliance likes him; Graveheart is too polite to show it, and Jade is motivated by her loyalty, but none of the non-Rock characters make much effort to hide how little they think of Mantle. Even Femur is considered by the main characters to be more tolerable than Mantle is.
The Juggernaut: While the heroes destroy the Beast Drones by truckloads, the Beast itself shrugs off all attempt to stop it, including ramming a planet into it, detonating a planet turned into a bomb inside it, and teleporting it to unknown parts of the universe. The last one only forces it to shift targets.
Jumped at the Call: King Cryos. "You can count on Ice to be the first to stand at your side."
Karma Houdini: The Beast. The very last shot of the series is the Beast eating another planet, unimpeded and unopposed. This is justified because The Beast is indestructible.
Last of Her Kind: Princess Tekla, the sole survivor of Planet Tek (well, not counting Vox).
Market-Based Title: It was called "Shadow Raiders" in Canada because Canadian kid's TV shows can not have the word "war" in the title.
Mauve Shirt: Captain Feldspar, a Quarrior of Planet Rock, shows up numerous times throughout the series. He survives all the way to the final episode of the second season, where he is killed by Blokk.
Merchandise-Driven: Based on "War Planets", a toy line of planetoids with various gadgets that popped out.
Mighty Glacier: The Beast Planet is this on a planetary scale. It has some extremely powerful weaponry and every attempt to destroy it is ineffective; its lack of speed is the only reason it hasn't been able to wipe out the protagonists, and is also the reason for its drone army. If it wasn't for the drones' acts of sabotage or luring the heroes into battle, the Beast would have no chance of ever catching up to the other worlds once they figured out how to use their world engines.
Military Coup: Femur comes perilously close to this after he orders his fleet to flee the battle of Remora. Pelvis makes it clear that the military's patience with him is nearing its breaking point.
Pelvis: "They feel dishonoured, your voluminousness... and you do know what that means."
Guard: *Cracks his knuckles threateningly*
Moment Killer: Femur's bad timing almost gets him throttled by Jade.
Mooks: The Beast Planet can field a seemingly endless supply of drone soldiers. In stark contrast to the Beast Planet itself, the drones drop like flies when the heroes shoot the small containment units that keep their null matter bodies together. Also, Planet Rock's Battle Moons can rip through the Beast's largest ships like they were made of paper, though they can't harm the Beast Planet.
Moral Guardians: Well, kind of. Girls' Night Out was not shown in the U.K. by Sky, supposedly due to strobe lighting, but attention has been drawn to the fact that GNO saw a lot of sexual innuendo and featured the female characters trashing a bar in a brawl. The problem is that a lot of later events do not make sense if you have not watched a key scene in this episode.
Morality Pet: Pyrus seems to be something of this to Femur, as the otherwise amoral and treacherous ruler of Bone has a definite soft spot for the young prince of Fire. In a more literal fashion, the seedling of Planet Jungle that Femur is charged with tending could be seen this way.
Mugging the Monster: When Jade is walking the streets of Fire, one of the inhabitants bumps into her and tries to shove her down while screaming that she should get off "his" planet. Jade, in turn, knocks him down and explains that the only thing that is keeping her from killing him is Graveheart's hope for a planetary alliance.
Never Say "Die": Averted. "J'Accuse," seems devoted to doing nothing but saying variations on the words murder, kill, and the titular die as often as possible. Fitting, considering it is about a murder case.
Organic Technology: Planet Bone's ships and other things. Technically more "Cyborg Technology"- organic tech as a base, but supplemented with actual machines, like Femur's (ill-fitting) Powered Armour.
Papa Wolf: King Cryos to his daughter, Zira. "Blood Is Thicker" deconstructs this attitude: Blokk deliberately exploits Cryos' love for his daughter by kidnapping her and simultaneously sending a large force of Beast drones to attack the Ice Palace. Cryos chooses family over duty and goes to rescue Zira, but at the end decides to abdicate the throne because he felt that abandoning his people for what he saw as a selfish reason was dishonorable (though this ends up being temporary).
Pet the Dog: Femur with the last remaining growth of Planet Jungle.
Planar Shockwave: Shows up in "Embers of the Past". When the fake Planet Fire's core of null matter is destroyed, it causes a huge shockwave that wipes out the Beast armada, but the heroes are able to get out of its path as they are further away.
Planetville: Amazingly averted with planet Sand. When the Sun People representative encountered the Alliance representatives, the guy assumed the new people were from some other province instead of being aliens.
Precursors: The builders of the world engines. They seem to have been on every planet encountered by the main characters, and they might even have been more advanced than we believe with the teleportation engines of the prison planet, but who and what they are is still a mystery. Presumably the third season would have dealt with them, as it was intended to deal with the origin of the Beast, but now we will never know.
Pyrus is first introduced in "Born in Fire" practicing with a staff. His routine and the final pose he strikes are the same movements of the Codemaster in the ReBoot episode "High Code."
Proud Warrior Race Guy: While the Bones respect treacherous ambition and Femur himself is something of a coward, the people of Bone love a good a fight and consider it quite dishonorable to flee one. What prompts Femur to try and patch things up with the Alliance is the fact that his own people started trying to kill him for fleeing the fight against the Beast Planet.
Power of Trust: What ultimately helps the Alliance to stand up to the Beast, rather than being devoured one by one, as was the case in Tekla's system.
Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Miners, soldiers, royalty and refugees that do not like, trust or cooperate with each other.
Ramming Always Works: Vizier rams the entire Planet Fire into the Beast. Subverted, as it doesn't work.
Redemption Equals Death: Vizier, to a degree. While never being evil or doing anything overtly bad, he had maintained a hostile and suspicious attitude towards the alliance as a whole and its leaders in particular. After secretly watching them try and fail to save Planet Fire from the coming Beast and witnessing their distress upon realizing the hopelessness, he opts to remain on Planet Fire for its final moments while informing Pyrus that he had been wrong.
Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The reptilian representatives of the Alliance are treacherous, cowardly, disgusting, and contribute half the Token Evil Teammate quota. Their entire ruling class promotes backstabbing as a way of life. They even get a pretty vicious Take That, as the final victim of the the Beast is Planet Reptizar.
Though that being said, Bone's warriors at least are established as having a sense of honor; Femur's retreat from the battle of Remora causes a great deal of discontent within the ranks, enough so that they attempt to depose of Femur in the hopes of a more 'honorable' ruler taking his place.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: Of the main cast, the vast majority are royals, and to their credit they actually pull more than their weight. Unfortunately, this means that any away missions puts a significant portion of the Alliance leadership at risk. Justified in that most of the away missions are Alliance business, or specifically about keeping the Alliance together, or involve the Alliance war council, or...
Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Averted. The inhabitants of Planet Rock are the only ones who look even remotely like humans and even they look very different from humans, being made of rock and all.
Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: A lot. Distances, sizes, planetary population numbers and everything else are more akin to neighbouring countries than planets...and pretty small countries at that.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When the battle for Remora Planet goes awry, Femur orders his forces to retreat. Both his allies and his own forces are furious with him for.
Single-Biome Planet: Each of the planets are defined by a single geographical type (Usually whatever their name is): Ice - ice, Rock - rocks, Fire - volcanoes, Bone - swamps, Jungle- jungles, Sand - sand. This is one of the few justified examples, as virtually all of the planets seen are artificial.
Shout-Out: There are a number of scenes in the first season that heavily mirror sequences from Star Wars.
Show Accuracy/Toy Accuracy: There is very little in this cartoon that looks like stuff from the toyline it was based on, apart from some of the vehicles, including the aliens. The Ice people, for instance, were mantis-like rather than humanoid and the Bone people were basically green Giger Aliens with guns. What's strange is that some toy designs got used for completely different things. The Planet Rock toy became one of Rock's moons and Tek was used as the basis for Vox.
The Spook: The Beast. Neither the characters nor the audience ever learn it's origin or motivations. It simply exists and nothing can stop it.
Sudden Downer Ending: "Ragnarok" ends happily with the Alliance celebrating the destruction of Remora and the Beast forces decimated, with Blokk and Lamprey being taken off by Voyd to receive some punishment for their failure from the Beast... Except than the Beast itself arrives and destroys an entire moon with a single small laser blast. The episode ends with the entire Alliance having a Mass "Oh, Crap!" as they realize how screwed they are.
When Planet Fire's World Engines fail, and it falls so far behind the rest of the Cluster that it will be inevitably devoured by the Beast, the Grand Vizier orders it evacuated. Then he deliberately turns it around and rams the Beast with Planet Fire.
The self-destruct of Planet Jungle, since its World Engines were inoperative and it was going to be eaten anyway.
The Evil Prince: Femur had a brother whose throne he usurped and sent to the Prison Planet. Although he was Femur's exact opposite when we meet him (refined, noble, tall, and muscular), flashbacks indicate that he was having Femur disposed of but Femur managed to turn the tables.
Touch of Death: The minions of the Beast Planet are made of null matter, which will instantly disintegrate any organic being that touches it.
Blokk (to Lord Mantle): One touch is all it's going to take!
The episode Girls' Night Out has a whole plot and all kinds of character development, but much more importantly, introduces the anti-anti-matter device, allowing Jade to deliver a fist-to-face beatdown of several minions.
Token Evil Teammate: It's a tossup between Emperor Femur and Lord Mantle. Femur is cowardly, conniving and obnoxious, but is generally helpful towards the Alliance. Mantle, on the other hand, is disdainful, needlessly antagonistic, belligerent, and ultimately tries to seize control of the Alliance, murdering multiple soldiers in the process.
What Happened to the Mouse?: The show never clarified what happened to the Battle Moons and, more importantly, the remains of Planet Fire civilization after the assault on the Beast Planet in Death of a King.
Undying Loyalty: Both Cryos and Pyrus inspire this level of loyalty in their people.
Unstoppable Rage: Graveheart had an experience of this when his little brother was killed on planet Fire.
The Voiceless: General Voyd, who often acts as a tiebreaker between Generals Blokk and Lampray. Possibly the direct representation of the Beast's judgement.
Wave Motion Gun: In the episode where Tekla and Graveheart try to persuade Lord Mantle to join their alliance, Vox plays a recording of the last stand of planet Water from Tekla's home solar system. The inhabitants of Planet Water turned their entire world into a wave motion gun to try and destroy the Beast. The result was less than impressive.
Working Class Hero: As Graveheart often reminds us, he is just a miner, but he is a very capable leader. This instance of this trope is not used to cast any disparagement on upper-class or educated people, though, as royalty like Prince Pyrus and King Cryos are shown to be just as heroic.