HULK SMASH!!!The Incredible Hulk is a 1996-97 animated series based on the comic book series of the same name. It's the second Hulk animated series, following one in the 1980s. Compared to most Hulk adaptations, it is considered Darker and Edgier for an animated series for kids (and overall Marvel universe animated continuity that it belongs to). The series stars Neal McDonough as Bruce Banner and features Lou Ferrigno, the Hulk actor from The Incredible Hulk live action series, as a speaking role.
The show provides the examples of:
Abhorrent Admirer: In "Fantastic Fortitude," She-Hulk to Thing because Thing is hung-up on Alicia.
Actor Allusion: This is the second time John-Rhys Davies and Lou Ferrigno worked together in a Hulk production, as they appeared together in Trial of the Incredible Hulk. This time with John-Rhys Davies playing as Thor.
Adaptation Distillation: The show took bits and pieces from Hulk's then-35 year history and compressed them into an animated series. Everything is covered, from Bruce becoming the Hulk, to Bruce trying (and failing) to find a cure, Hulk being incredibly protective of Betty, and the origins of Leader, Sasquatch, and Wendigo. The Abomination's origin, however, wasn't covered, since we don't know whether or not he's Emil Blonsky, a random Mook, or a genetic creation of the Leader. Also Bruce's abusive father issue was never used. But we guess one Jerkass father was enough already. In this case, Betty's.
Ascended Extra: She-Hulk, who had appeared in Season 1's "Doomed" and "Fantastic Fortitude", becomes a regular in season 2.
Asshole Victim: There are a few. Luckily, since it's a kids' show, none of the asshole victims die at least.
Talbot is even more of an asshole victim, since 1. He interrupted Bruce's experiment using a rocket launcher in the pilot. 2. He used the gamma taser on Hulk just when Hulk was calming down (he ends up at the receiving end of Ghost Rider's Penance Stare), and 3. He interrupted the Nutrient Bath process, only for Betty, Doc Samson and Rick Jones to call him out on it.
Perhaps the greatest example of this is when he tied up General Ross and took the latest Hulkbuster suit to fight his alter-ego (when separated) and came extremely close to winning.
Badass Normal: When the model show was interrupted by Leader, She-Hulk, Betty, and 3 models managed to retake the building they were doing their show in.
Bash Brothers: Hulk rarely teams up with other superheroes due to the fact that he doesn't get along with them too well. He briefly teamed up with the Thing because they were fighting the Gamma Warriors (fighting alligators in the zoo didn't count). However, Hulk DID team up with Grey Hulk against the alien creature that possessed Bruce in "Mind Over Anti-Matter".
Because Destiny Says So: Leader would like Gargoyle (and annoyingly enough, the audience) to think that because he is responsible for Hulk's creation, he deserves his power. Who would like to call bullshit?
Bench Breaker: From time to time, Bruce gets tied to a chair and then Hulks out, breaking the chair more or less automatically.
Bittersweet Ending: The first season has A LOT of these. It isn't until season 2 that things get less serious.
Blood Knight: Abomination. Wendigo to an extent. Plus he had to get his ass kicked by a worthy opponent so he can be free from his curse, and as a result, learn humility.
Body Horror: For a kid's show, it shows what happens when one transforms into a gamma monster. The Leader's Gamma Warriors had this in effect. Although Jennifer Walters' transformation was kinder, since hers doesn't look as painful, because she rather... enjoys it.
Book Dumb: Even though he lacks Banner's intelligence, the Hulk can show a lot of cunning when he needs to. And for a supposedly mindless berserker, the Hulk can still come up with some fairly creative tactics when he's in a tight spot.
Break His Heart to Save Him: Bruce was dying from poison and his only chance to survive was to become angry enough to hulk out. Because fighting with Doctor Samson and Ghost Rider wasn't enough, Rick and Betty, the two closest people in Hulk's life, were forced to yell at him that they hate him, he destroyed their lives and he should have never been born. It worked. And hurt Hulk, hard. Ghost Rider even invokes the trope by name.
Ghost Rider: Break his heart in order to save him. I don't know if I would be able to do such a thing.
Bullying a Dragon: Yeah, Talbot. Leave the poor man alone. Seriously though, are people tired of living when Banner specifically says "Don't make me angry"?
The Cameo: Lou Ferrigno appears as himself in animated form, but with no lines.
Canon Foreigner: The Gamma Warriors (Minus Ogress), Allure, Hybrid and Scimitar.
Can't Live Without You: Betty finds out the hard way that Hulk and Bruce cannot live seperately, and they must rely on one another to continue to exist. Otherwise, they'll die.
Car Fu: Rarely, the Hulk uses cars as weapons. Not weaponized like boxing gloves mind you.
Catastrophic Countdown: In "Mind Over Anti-Matter", the alien creature that possessed Bruce attempts to launch nuclear missiles in an attempt to destroy humanity. After his defeat, Bruce manages to gain control of himself before the missile hits zero.
Catch Phrase: "HULK SMASH!!!" "HULK BASH!!!" "EAT GREEN!!!" "So says the Leader." The last line annoyed the hell out of Gargoyle.
Clip Show: Some portions use flashbacks for this reason.
Cursed with Awesome: As much as his Hulk condition has made Bruce's life a complete shambles as a fugitive, the only reason he survives his adventures is due to transforming into the Hulk in times of need.
Darker and Edgier: VERY much so. As mentioned above, the 2nd season got less serious.
"And to think, I left a disease-ridden deathbed for this?"
Jennifer Walters, pre and post-transformation.
The Thing, of course never disappoints on the snark factor:
Jennifer: Hey there: Tall, dark andcrusty. Thing: (coughs up fish) What is this? "Gamma Mutant Day" at the zoo?
Iron Man gets in some good lines, especially in his last exchange with Ross and Gabe.
"Oh and, gentlemen, do we submit the bill for damages to S.H.I.E.L.D. or the Pentagon?"
Demoted to Extra: Betty Ross, who had major focus in the first season, only appeared in certain episodes in season 2. Also, Doc Samson and Rick Jones were demoted even more after season 2's premiere.
Do Not Call Me Paul: The Hulk hates being called Bruce. Though, it's justified in that they actually are separate entities inhabiting the same body. Unless your name is Betty, he doesn't seem to mind for some reason.
Determinator: Hoo-boy. There's alot of determination in this show: Bruce is trying to cure himself of the Hulk, General Ross and Talbot are trying to kill the Hulk, Betty and Doc Samson are trying to create the Nutrient Bath to separate Bruce from Hulk, Leader wants Hulk alive so he can possess his strength, and Gargoyle just wants to be normal. Some of the determinations die off eventually.
Dumb Is Good: Usually. Many of the times Hulk clashes with the cameo Superheroes is due to some misunderstanding.
Dumb Muscle: Hulk and Abomination. Although Hulk's rage will sometimes redirect towards someone else (usually by Betty or She-Hulk, or someone who cares about him). Played completely straight with Abomination and the Gamma Warriors.
Freak Lab Accident: As it turns out, Samuel Sterns (Pre-gamma Leader) was responsible for Hulk's creation (he lampshades this), thus the cause of everything that transpires in the first place.
Genius Bruiser: Doc Samson, who's Betty's gamma research assistant, and can trade blows with The Hulk. Sasquatch as well. Jennifer was also training to be (and eventually became) a lawyer before she turned into a 7-foot green amazon.
Gentle Giant: Try to get to know the Hulk before you piss him off.
Grey Hulk isn't exactly gentle, but he's above killing Mooks.
Gone Horribly Wrong: The ENTIRE SHOW has this in the first season. Most of them are trying to reverse the effects of hulking out while someone, usually Talbot or another enemy, always has to fuck everything up to the point Bruce turns into the Hulk.
The second season's series finale involved a S.H.I.E.L.D. double-agent trying to recover experimental organisms, but she was caught and merged with the creatures she was supposed to steal. This gave her the ability to possess other organisms as a result, and, on the plus side, healing them as well.
Green Eyes: When Banner becomes the green Hulk. She-Hulk also has green eyes.
Hair-Trigger Temper: Hulk, obviously. General Ross as well, along with Abomination and Sasquatch.
Hellish Copter: Hulk, and anything else that tries, ALWAYS takes down a helicopter, usually unconventionally.
Heroic BSOD: Where. The. Hell. Do. I. Begin? In the season 1's finale, Bruce suffered an enormous BSOD when finding out Rick fell into the Nutrient Bath, followed by this line:
Bruce: Rick! No, not my friend... He doesn't deserve to be in that... That nightmare!!
It also brings out the original Grey Hulk as a result. Also, Betty has this after Bruce's, lamenting the fact that things will never return to normal, and seeing how changing fate was beyond their control.
Hulk Speak: The Trope Namer. Averted in Grey Hulk's case.
I Am a Monster: In "Man to Man, Beast to Beast", Walter Langkowski turns into the Sasquatch permanently, and during his fight with the Hulk, he realizes he has harmed the child Hulk had befriended. Realizing this, he decides to drift endlessly, believing he has become a monster.
I Was Beaten By A Girl: The Thing gets knocked about by gamma mutant Ogress. The Yancy Street Gang does not waste this opportunity to rub it in by using a flyer of the image of the Thing being manhandled across New York City:
Jerkass: Quite a lot with Glenn. Grey Hulk is one too.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Grey Hulk, once again, is this. After getting his ass handed to him by Crusher Creel, he's trying to snap Banner out of his senses to help him remember that Betty Ross is the only woman he loves, not Allure. It works.
Talbot seems to get better after Betty asks him to help save Banner's life.
Kid Sidekick: Rick Jones is technically a teenager, but he's loyal to Bruce after being saved by him when the gamma dome exploded. Since the incident, he goes around hoping to make sure Hulk's Berserk Button doesn't go overboard.
Lighter and Softer: Due to Executive Meddling, they chose to put the series in a lighter direction. Which ironically, led to the series' cancellation compared to the much darker season one.
Lightning Bruiser: Hulk is unusually fast for an 8-foot, muscle-bound gamma mutate. He also jumps pretty far. She-Hulk plays this straight. Averted with the Thing as he climbs the stairs inside the Statue of Liberty; he gets worn out by climbing said stairs.
To be fair, The Thing scaled all of the stairs of the Statue of Liberty (the equivalent of 20 stories) in a single sprint to reach the crown, in what seemed to be a few minutes. Considering the mass Ben has to work with, this is very impressive.
Ms. Fanservice: She-Hulk is this in-universe, even turning most of the male heads at her high school reunion in "Down Memory Lane."
Woman 1: Who's she trying to impress with that pathetic body paint?
Woman 2: Well, your husband, for one. (cut to said husband dancing with She-Hulk)
Murder the Hypotenuse: Talbot and Crusher Creel against Bruce. Talbot's wasn't a Yandere level thankfully, but Crusher Creel almost is. Luckily, Bruce doesn't have feelings towards Allure anymore thanks to Grey Hulk.
Mythology Gag: Grey Hulk's persona as "Joe Fixit" gets a nod, in the aptly named "They Call Me Mr. Fixit".
The Thing's guest star appearance features his enmity with the Yancy Street Gang.
The flashback to how Bruce became the Hulk: first, the Hulk was grey, before turning into the familiar green Hulk. The Grey Hulk appeared later in the series. This is how it was in the comics: The Hulk was originally grey, but became green after issue #3 after the publishers couldn't find a consistent grey tone. The Grey Hulk would later have his own run.
Nice Job Breaking It, Villain: General Ross played it straight... In season 1's finale he went mad to the point he caused Bruce's heart attack and unintentionally knocked Rick Jones into the nutrient bath that was meant to re-merge Hulk and Bruce, turning Rick into a Hulk himself. This, in turn, led to the emergence of the original Grey Hulk.
Oh Crap: The usual reaction by the Mooks in each episode when they are chasing Banner, and he turns into the Hulk.
The Other Darrin: Maurice LaMarche plays Doctor Strange in this series while John Vernon plays him on Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Likewise, Lisa Zane plays She-Hulk in season 1 while Cree Summer plays her in Season 2. Lou Ferrigno briefly plays as the transforming Grey Hulk in season 1's finale, while Michael Donovan takes over when Grey Hulk makes his later appearances. And finally, Genie Francis plays Betty Ross for most of Season 1 while Philece Sampler plays her later in Season 1 and in Season 2.
Role Reprisal: Robert Hays (Iron Man), Dorian Harewood (War Machine), Tom Kane (H.O.M.E.R.), Beau Weaver (Mister Fantastic), Chuck McCann (Thing), Simon Templeman (Doctor Doom), John Rhys-Davies (Thor) and Richard Grieco (Ghost Rider). Word of God admitted to bringing them back for guest spots to help create a continuity with the preceding Marvel shows.
Matt Frewer also first voiced the Leader in a one-off guest appearance on Iron Man. Production liked his performance and made sure to keep him on for this series.
Sanity Slippage: Eventually happens to General Ross in the Season 1 finale, "Darkness and Light, Part 3", after he gets more obsessive (than usual) in defeating the Hulk (who is now separated from Bruce). This leads to him shooting an anti-Hulk weapon at Talbot's vehicle, and aiming a gun at Banner's head during his daughter's wedding. He even causes Rick Jones to fall into a nutrient bath, transforming him into a Hulk himself. Only then does he realise he's gone too far.
Save the Princess: Notably in "Wendigo" when Betty gets kidnapped by Wendigo. It becomes Hulk and General Ross's motive to save her when they are forced to work together.
Series Fauxnale: "Mission: Incredible" doesn't provide complete closure, but it at least gets Ross out of that coma and sees him bury the hatchet with Bruce.
Shapeshifter Mode Lock: She-Hulk can apparently maintain her form whatever the circumstance, though Bruce didn't fully understand why. There was an episode where she was returning to normal Jennifer, but after experiencing the same stress Bruce usually felt before he hulked out, she became the She-Hulk again.
Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Betty would rather be with Bruce than with Talbot, whose Jerkass tendencies took a level of asshole from the comics. Although she also loves the Hulk and is even more understanding towards him.
Split Personality: Bruce has three personalities: himself, the original "savage" Hulk, and the sarcastic Grey Hulk.
Tempting Fate: In "Mortal Bounds", The Hulk is sealed in a special cage and seemingly captured. Agent Gabriel of SHIELD exclaims "Only the gods themselves could release him from that contraption". In comes Thor who uses his hammer to disable the army's tank and teleport The Hulk from Mount Rushmore to New York.
Arguably, Walter Langkowski as well, who decided to cure his blindness by exposing himself to form of gamma radiation, which turned him into "The Sasquatch". Couldn't he just have gotten laser eye surgery?
Unstoppable Rage: In "Darkness and Light Part 2", it's literally unstoppable. However, the Hulk's rage breaks to the point he remembers Betty, but it ends up also affecting Banner as well.
Villainous Breakdown: Mentioned above in regards to General Ross, due to his obsession with destroying the Hulk, and being responsible for Rick's unintentional transformation into a "Teen-Hulk".
What Have I Done: When Doc Samson goes to try to save the Hulk from being destroyed by S.H.I.E.L.D. after separating Bruce and Hulk with the Nutrient Bath, only to find him in a mindless rampage, and realizes what he has done.
Wrongly Accused: In Season 2's premiere, Bruce was charged with attempted murder (how they got this word in syndication is beyond us), when in fact, despite how much of a Jerkass Grey Hulk is, he was actually trying to save General Ross's life.
Yandere: Crusher Creel was dangerously close to it. He's willing to do everything Allure tells him, even kill the competition. He drives this further trying to kill Bruce in a warehouse explosion. Luckily, for Bruce and thanks to the Grey Hulk, he survives.
You Gotta Have Green Hair: Hulk technically has black hair with a green tinge to it. Doc Samson and She-Hulk have green hair (since Doc's gamma powered). Leader's Gamma Warriors have brown hair.