Western Animation: Space Ghost

This Hanna-Barbera series, produced in 1966 for CBS, started that studio's superhero adventure cycle. South Dakota's own Gary Owens performed the voice of the spacefaring crimefighter, whose belt and wristbands conferred various offensive and defensive powers. Space Ghost's most impressive (and consistent) power, however, was invisibility. His wards, Jan and Jace, and their pet monkey, Blip, also could fly, survive in space and become invisible at will, though they lacked the offensive punch of Space Ghost's power bands. Its companion series was Dinoboy In The Lost Valley, which focused on the adventures of a young 20th century boy, his cave man protector Ugg and their pet dinosaur Bronty, as they tried to survive in a mysterious jungle area.

Space Ghost and his companions had all new adventures in the early 1980s on NBC's Animated Anthology Space Stars. In 1994, Cartoon Network gave Space Ghost a 15-minute evening talk show, Space Ghost Coast to Coast; the creators of that show later helped launch [adult swim]. There was also a 2005 comic book limited series that gave him a very much Darker and Edgier backstory.

Moltar, one of the show's villains, was also the very first host of Toonami. In fact, Toonami can trace its roots back to Space Ghost, since it was a More Popular Spin-off of Space Ghost Coast to Coast, which itself was a spinoff of Space Ghost. This show was even a part of Toonami's very early lineup, via the Cartoon Roulette.

Tropes

  • Action Series
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Jan and Jace infiltrate an enemy base this way in "The Space Piranhas". Lampshaded when the Big Bad says "As usual, the intruders have taken refuge in the ventilating system."
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version has this.
  • Animated Series
  • Apocalyptic Log: The classic episode "The Energy Monster" features a posthumous recording by the scientist who created it.
  • Artistic License – Astronomy: "The Heat Thing" shows Jupiter as having a solid surface with a normal atmosphere instead being a gas giant.
  • Aside Comment
    • "The Cyclopeds". At the end of the episode, Cyclo runs into his own Maze of Terror.
      Space Ghost: He forgot his own creation, the Cyclo Terror, was in there. Things have a strange way of evening up, [looks at the camera] especially for poor misguided creatures like Cyclo.
    • "Space Sargasso". After Blip retrieves Space Ghost's power bands and returns them to him, Jace says (while facing the camera), "Space Ghost has his power bands again!"
    • The title character, Zorgat, does this in "Ruler of the Rock Robots".
      Zorgat: They have seen the empty cruiser. <turns his head to face the camera> Step two of my plan is working.
  • Aside Glance
    • Blip the monkey gives the audience one at the end of the episodes "The Drone", "Glasstor" and "The Sorcerer".
    • In "The Lizard Slavers", while Jace is telling Jan about the title creatures one of them turns its head and smiles at the camera as if it's pleased that Jan is talking about it.
  • Attack Reflector
    • In a bumper (short piece of animation between episodes), a spaceship fires at Space Ghost and he uses an energy field around himself that reflects the beam at the ship and causes an explosion and fire.
    • The Meeting. When Metallus fires an energy pistol at Space Ghost, the hero reflects the beam with his hands and hits a device behind Metallus, causing Metallus' base to explode.
  • Auction of Evil: In the episode "Space Sargasso", Lurker plans to auction Space Ghost off to his enemies.
  • Audible Gleam: Happens plenty when Space Ghost does his trustworthy superhero smile. His teeth gleam. He even has a gleam-off competition with Donny Osmond.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Space Ghost, Jan, Jace and Blip can all breathe in space with no explanation. So can most of the alien opponents they encounter.
  • Brainwashed: Jan and Jace in "The Sandman" were ordered to capture Space Ghost.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Jace actually falls victim to this twice. He gets this in one of the 1980s episodes, "Devilship", as well as in the aforementioned "Sandman".
  • Bumbling Sidekicks/The Load: Jan and Jace. Blip is more helpful than they are!
  • Captain Space, Defender of Earth!: Played completely straight.
  • Catch Your Death of Cold: Blip at the end of "The Iceman".
  • Clothes Make the Superman
  • Cool Ship: The Phantom Cruiser
  • Crossover: With The Herculoids, the Mighty Mightor, Shazzan, and Moby Dick, who appear in the five-part "The Council of Doom" arc. Space Ghost also crosses over with Teen Force.
    • Later, with Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
    • There is some sort of connection between Space Ghost and Dino-Boy; one of the bumpers for the latter show features Space Ghost, Jan, Jace and Blip using the Phantom Cruiser to save Dino Boy and Ugg from "vulture-dactyls". (The shows are connected to the same level of Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles.)
  • Damsel in Distress: Jan.
  • Death Trap: "The Final Encounter". After the Council of Doom captures Space Ghost they put him in a tube that leads to the center of their planet. They plan to have an electrode draw all of the planet's cosmic energy up through the shaft, which will destroy Space Ghost.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Tarko the Viking in "The Time Machine".
  • Deployable Cover: Brak's Impregnashield in "The Looters".
  • Disintegrator Ray
    • "The Web". As a man escapes from the lair of the Black Widow he fires a weapon at a giant Insectoid Alien that reduces it to dust.
    • "Attack of the Saucer Crab". The title device has a weapon that it uses to annihilate a building and destroy the occupant. Jan specifically calls it a "disintegrator ray".
  • Everybody Laughs Ending: The protagonists often do this, usually at Blip's antics.
    • "Ruler of the Rock Robots". Space Ghost, Jan and Jace laugh at Blip for posing on one of the robots and wanting his picture taken.
    • "The Drone". Space Ghost, Jan and Jace laugh at Blip for fooling around with and activating an alien device.
    • "The Energy Monster". Jan and Jace laugh at Blip when he fools around with the heat gun and turns it into an improvised pogo stick.
    • "Space Sargasso". During the episode the Sorcerer turns Jan and Jace into giant versions of the monkey Blip. At the end Jace says "He certainly made monkeys out of us." and Jan agrees with him. Blip takes offense at the insult and Jan apologizes, after which Jan, Jace and Blip all laugh.
    • "The Time Machine". At the end Blip the monkey tries to use the machine to go back 3 million years. Jace says that everyone was living in trees then and Jan suggests Blip was trying to find a girlfriend. Jan and Jace then laugh at Blip.
    • "Transor - The Matter Mover". At the end, Transor gives an Evil Laugh before escaping, and Space Ghost reveals that Transor will be captured by the Galactic Patrol. Jace says, "He who laughs last gets caught" and Jan, Jace and Blip all laugh.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Blip.
  • Evil Laugh: Almost all of the villains had one.
  • Evil Twin: Space Spectre
  • Expo Label
    • "The Space Ark". Inside the title ship there's a control to activate the Force Shield, with a label that says "Force Shield".
    • "Two Faces of Doom". The Force Beam control switch in Brak's ship is labeled "Force Beam".
  • Expy: Space Ghost's costume has unintentional similarities to the appearance of Batman, but the two are day and night in personality and aptitude.
  • Eye Beams
    • "The Space Ark". One of the Creature King's monsters is a giant bat that can fire energy beams from its eyes.
    • "The Jungle Planet". The Big Bad has eye beams that allow him to steal the mind of anyone at whom he fires them.
  • Fed to the Beast: "Clutches of the Creature King". After the title villain captures Space Ghost he puts him in an arena and forces him to fight all of the Creature King's creatures without his power bands.
  • Five-Bad Band: The Council of Doom.
  • Freeze Ray
    • Space Ghost fires one from his Power Bands in "Lokar - King of the Killer Locusts" against Lokar's metal-eating locusts. He does it again against a giant ant/spider hybrid Insectoid Alien in "The Web".
    • In "The Heat Thing", Jan and Jace use the Phantom Cruiser's "cold units" ray to seal the title monster into a lava pit.
    • "The Iceman". The title villain has an Ice-Ray Projector that can be used to create a wall of ice between the Ghost Planet and its sun, as well as encasing Space Ghost in ice.
    • "The Meeting". Metallus' Freeze Robots fire beams of cold that cover the Phantom Cruiser in ice.
  • Fungus Humongous: "Hi-Jackers". The planet where the title criminals make their base is covered with giant mushrooms several times larger than a human being.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: "Attack of the Saucer Crab". A flying saucer invades our galaxy and starts destroying buildings and killing people with a Disintegrator Ray. It can deploy 6 legs like a crab's to walk around on and can extend a huge claw to capture opponents.
  • Giant Robot: "The Challenge". Zorak creates a giant robot that has powerful beam weapons and a force field and challenges Space Ghost to fight it.
  • Hammered into the Ground: "The Challenge". Zorak's Giant Robot, Titanor, smashes Space Ghost into the ground with his fist.
  • Hand Blast: Space Ghost uses his power bands to fire stun rays, heat rays and so on.
  • Harmless Freezing: Happens to Space Ghost in "The Iceman".
  • Human Hammer Throw: Episode "The Lizard Slavers". While fighting with the title opponents Space Ghost grabs one of them by the tail, swings him around several times and throws him at a group of them, knocking them down.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: Used on Space Ghost and friends by "The Evil Collector" and in the 1980s short "Time of the Giants".
  • Insectoid Aliens
    • Zorak was a giant praying mantis. He had unintelligent insect servants called mosquitoids in "Zorak".
    • Lokar was a large locust. He had unintelligent insect servants (giant metal-eating locusts) in "Lokar - King of the Killer Locusts".
    • Giant ant/spider hybrids were minions of the Spider Woman in "The Web".
  • Invisibility: Invisibility is one of Space Ghost's main powers. His sidekicks Jan, Jace and Blip can also use "Inviso Power" (as it's called In-Universe).
  • Irisless Eye Mask Of Mystery: Space Ghost as well as Jan and Jace wear masks that have this effect. Though Space Ghost was never shown unmasked on-screen, artwork by Alex Toth shows what he looked like without his cowl.
  • Jet Pack
    • Jan, Jace and Blip used them to fly through space. In the episode "The Drone" Space Ghost called them "rocket packs".
    • In "Brago" a young boy used one to go for help against the title bandit.
    • At the beginning of "The Web" a man uses one to escape the lair of the Black Widow.
  • Kid Sidekicks: Jan and Jace
  • Knockout Gas: In the episode "The Looters", Brak uses a sleep gas missile on a ship.
  • Legion of Doom: The Council of Doom
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: Episode "The Sandman". A number of people (including two French Foreign Legion members) have mysteriously disappeared in the same area. When Space Ghost, Jan, Jace and Blip arrive, Space Ghost tells the others to "spread out". This leads to Jan, Jace and Blip being captured by the enemy.
  • Luckily My Powers Will Protect Me
  • Metamorphosis Monster: In one 1980s episode, Jan and Jace adopt a cute little creature called a starfly, unaware that it's the larval form of a giant glowing Kaiju called a star beast. It grows up fast and seems threatening, but in the end, it remembers Jan and Jace and refuses to hurt them.
  • Monster of the Week
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Space Ghost tended to use a small set of powers to solve most problems, but sometimes he'd pull some completely new kind of ray out of his power bands just to deal with this week's menace.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Blip.
  • Now Do It Again Backwards: Space Ghost in "Clutches of the Creature King".
  • Our Gargoyles Rock: "The Gargoyloids".
  • Plant Aliens
    • "The Gargoyloids". The title monsters control ambulatory plant life, which they use to entwine and capture Space Ghost, Jan, Jace and Blip.
    • "Two Faces of Doom". Spider Woman uses seeds to create "giant spider plants", intending for them to kill Space Ghost and his sidekicks.
  • Pronoun Trouble: Jan and Jace must have been allergic to the word "he" when referring to Space Ghost.
  • Science Fiction
  • Seize Them!
    • "Revenge of the Spider Woman''. After Space Ghost breaks out of the cell he's in Spider Woman orders her guards to seize Jan and Jace.
    • "Homing Device". After Metallus' robots discover the Tracking Device on Blip's collar, Metallus orders them to seize him.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism
    • "The Drone". At the end of the episode, after the title robot was captured, it blew itself up with (as Space Ghost put it) a "destruct mechanism".
    • "Homing Device". Before leaving Metallus' headquarters Space Ghost activates the HQ's destruct mechanism, causing it to blow up.
  • Shout-Out: The comic book series had numerous shout-outs to Space Ghost Coast to Coast; including Space Ghost's real name being Thaddeus "Tad" Bach.
  • Shrink Ray: Episode "The Evil Collector". The title villain uses a "minibeam" on Space Ghost, Jan and Jace to reduce them to six inches high.
  • Single-Biome Planet: The episode "Jungle Planet" takes place on one. It's covered with the standard trees, hanging lianas, thick undergrowth and so on.
  • Strapped to a Bomb: The episode "Zorak". The title villain ties Jan and Jace to the seats of his Flying Time Bomb (a spaceship with a Time Bomb inside) and sends it away. Space Ghost rescues them Just in Time.
  • Superhero
  • Superheroes In Space: He was a superhero who fought crime in outer space and had a group of teen sidekicks.
  • Super Strength: Space Ghost demonstrates this in one episode, without benefit of his devices.
  • Super Wrist Gadget: Space Ghost's power bands.
  • Tap on the Head: "The Space Piranhas", "Space Sargasso" and "The Time Machine".
  • Tempting Fate: A boy in "Brago", a ship pilot in "The Looters" and the Big Bad Tansit in "Hi-Jackers".
  • Threatening Shark: "Revenge of the Spider Woman''. One of the title villain's monsters is a three-headed Hydro Shark that tries to eat Space Ghost. Unfortunately, Space Ghost's Hammer Ray fails to stop it.
  • Timmy in a Well: Blip.
  • Tracking Device: "Homing Device". Before the episode starts, Jace puts the title device on Blip's collar so he and Jan can always find him. Blip stows away on the Phantom Cruiser when Space Ghost goes to surrender to Metallus, allowing Jan and Jace to follow them.
  • Translator Microbes: Not just the aliens, but several time travel episodes as well.
  • A Villain Named Zrg: Space Ghost's arch-nemesis Zorak.
  • Wait Here: "The Final Encounter''. Before Space Ghost enters the Council of Doom's planet for their final confrontation, he orders Jan and Jace to to stay outside. After they hear explosions inside the planet, Jace decides they should go inside and help Space Ghost.
  • We Will Meet Again: In "The Web", Black Widow uses that exact phrase to Space Ghost after he defeats her champion and she has to flee.

Mini-series (DC Comics)

  • Aliens Speaking English: Zig-zagged with Zorak and the Zorathians. They don't know English and don't use it, until they link a worm-like translator organism to Temple. Otherwise played straight.
    • Oddly enough Thaddeus' wife Eula is the only other character who seems to have trouble with the language, see below.
  • Darker and Edgier
  • Death Faked for You: There's a reason why he's called the Space Ghost - because he was thought killed and left to die by his fellow Wraiths.
  • Death by Origin Story: Thaddeus's wife, Elua, and their unborn child were killed by Temple and his corrupt peacekeepers.
  • Dirty Cop: The "Wrath" special ops team Thaddeus joins has odd quirks like killing informants and looting their figurative corpses. Not to mention what they did when Thaddeus was about to inform on them.
  • The Dreaded: During the first few issues, rumors about "the Bugs" destroying colonies are laughed off as soon as they're mentioned; of course, it turns out that Zorak is all too real.
    • Thaddeus styles himself as this when he begins his Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Jan and Jace even mention that he's remarkably similar to a scary story parents tell to misbehaving children.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: For all the seriousness of the story at the beginning, Thaddeus is the one and only Space Ghost by the end, complete with devoted sidekicks/children and the traditional behavior one would expect from an iconic superhero of The Sixties.
  • Happily Adopted: Jan and Jace lose their parents to the Zorathians. Space Ghost adopts them in the end, after having warmed up to them.
  • Hive Mind: Zorak and his kind, the Zorathians. Also a reason why Zorak keeps coming back from the dead; if "Zorak" is killed, another bug then becomes "Zorak". Another nod to Coast to Coast, where SG frequently blasts him to no permanent effect.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Thaddeus; a nod to Space Ghost Coast to Coast.
  • Last of His Kind: Salomon. By consequence of being a very brilliant engineer monk, his technology was used by his people to kill everyone, and only he was left standing.
  • Mentor: Salomon, the alien living on Ghost Planet who gave Space Ghost his equipment.
  • Mythology Gag: To Space Ghost: Coast to Coast. Including SG's true name to be Thaddeus Bach (ā la Thaddeus "Tad" Ghostal); Thaddeus' wife resembled Björk (whom SG interviewed and later married).
  • Origin Story
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Space Ghost originally tried hunting down the members of the squad that killed his family. He eventually becomes more idealistic after realizing that's not what Elua wanted.
  • Space Police: Thaddeus was an interplanetary peacekeeper who was promoted to their Elite division, and then promoted again to the Wrath.
  • You No Take Candle: Thaddeus' wife speaks this way, oddly enough. She is apparently not native to his home planet.