Western Animation: The Jetsons
The modern Space Age family.
series demonstrates that even in comedy animation, Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale
. The first series broadcast in color by ABC
, The Jetsons
was essentially The Flintstonesnote
transferred to an idealized vision (even for the time) of the 21st century, with flying cars, conveyor-belt sidewalks and fancy (or rather, fancier
) appliances. George Jetson and his family live in an ultra-high-rise apartment complex
with their dog, Astro, and their robot maid, Rosie.
After its prime-time run, the original 1962 series was rebroadcast on Saturday mornings on other networks, as well as in syndication. The plots have been compared to those in the Blondie
comic strip and movies — not surprising, since Penny Singleton (who played Blondie in the films) was the voice of Jane Jetson. New Jetsons episodes were produced
for syndication in 1985 and 1987, and in 1987-88, there were two feature-length Made For TV Movies
. One of those movies, The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones
, served as a natural crossover
between the two animated families.
Universal released an animated Jetsons
feature film in 1990, complete with Conspicuous CG
, a Green Aesop
played out with a Gang of Critters
, and reuniting nearly all of the original cast members save for '80s pop starlet Tiffany voicing Judy Jetson thanks to Executive Meddling
and Patric Zimmerman taking over for the late Daws Butler
as Elroy. The film also marked the last performance ever of noted voice artist Mel Blanc
(Mr. Spacely), who was still recording while in the hospital (as he had years before then), as well as George O' Hanlon (George), who by that point had to have the lines read and acted to him before recording (both passed away before completing the film and sound-alike Jeff Bergman filled in the few remaining scenes). The film was dedicated in memory of both men. This was also Penny Singleton's last film role, even though she would live another thirteen years.
A prospective Live-Action Adaptation
, with Robin Williams
as George Jetson, was apparently axed in favor of the fourth Spy Kids
film, but seems to be back on track for an eventual release, with creative director Kanye West
(yes, that Kanye) and Warner Bros. looking for a director.
This series provides examples of:
- Actually That's My Assistant: One episode features a company named Contempo Computers. Spacely and his rival Cosgwell want to do business with that company and all they know about their CEO is that he's a young and innovative man. At the company's headquarters, they meet a young man and a boy. The boy is the CEO of Contempo Computers.
- Aliens Speaking English
- Alliterative Name:
- Jane and Judy Jetson. And George.
- The company where he works (Spacely [Space] Sprockets) and said company's rival (Cogswell ['s Cosmic] Cogs).
- Anti-Gravity Clothing: The rings around some outfits.
- Art Evolution: Look at one of the earlier episodes of the first season, and look at one of the episodes of the last seasonnote which has an almost digital art-like quality. This is really impressive considering they were still using cels to make the show at the time.
- Ascended Extra: RUDI. He briefly appears during the 60s episodes looking completely different than his later incarnation. In the 80s revival he's not only George's computer but also his best friend on the job.
- Bad Boss: Mr. Spacely. See George Jetson Job Security.
- Bad News in a Good Way: One episode has a variation on this:
Mr. Spacely: Jetson! Thank goodness you're still here! I've got some good news and some bad news...
George Jetson: What's the bad news, Mr. Spacely?
Mr. Spacely: We've discovered a very dangerous computer virus that you have to stop right away!
George: But that could take months! By the way... what's the good news?
Mr. Spacely: The good news is, I don't have to do it! Bye now!
- Bare Your Midriff Judy's default outfit does this.
- Big Friendly Dog: Astro.
- Black Bead Eyes: Elroy.
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: Judy, except when she isn't being bratty.
- Bumbling Dad: George, definitely.
- Catch Phrase:
- Celebrity Paradox: In an early episode The Flintstones is shown to be a TV show in their universe, and a movie in a flashback but they meet them in The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Mr. Spacely was originally an implied one, but mostly showed signs of it in the '80s series and was played straight in the 1990 movie. Spacely's business rival, Mr Cogswell, is just as bad if not worse.
- Cowboy Episode: "Dude Planet" (60s episode) and "High Moon" (80s episode).
- Cut a Slice, Take the Rest:
- In the opening, George takes a few bills out of his wallet for Jane, but Jane takes the entire wallet instead.
- Spoofed on Family Guy where George yells at Jane for taking all his money and ends up throwing her out of the air car, killing her.
- In the episode "Future Tense," George wins a pile of money at a horse race, at the end the 'interplanetary revenue service' takes the pile, hands him a stack out of the pile, and keeps the rest for themselves.
- Also used in this Jetson's sponsor's tag for Saran Wrap.
- Deus Exit Machina: In similar fashion to the outro gag for The Flintstones, George's screams to "stop this crazy thing" are never replied in the original ending credits. Family Guy took another swipe at the show with this.
George: *haggard and livid* DID YOU NOT HEAR ME BACK THERE?!?
- Dinner with the Boss: Mr. Spacely does this in the pilot episode.
- Disguised in Drag: George passing himself off as "Georgina Jetstream" in "Solar Snoops."
- Disney Acid Sequence: The song Eep Opp Ork Ah-Ah from A Date With Jet Screamer.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Both Mr. Spacely and Sgt. Uniblab fill this trope in "G.I. Jetson".
- Exty Years from Now: The show started in 1962. Naturally, it was set in 2062.
- Food Pills: Yet oddly Jane managed to mess them up somehow.
- Forgotten Birthday: Happens to Judy in "Judy's Birthday Surprise".
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: George (sanguine), Jane (melancholic), Elroy (phlegmatic), and Mr. Spacely (choleric).
- Futuristic Superhighway: George had to deal with traffic jams even with a flying car.
- Future Slang: Tons, most memorably "Eep, op, ork, ah-ah! And that means I love you!"
- George Jetson Job Security: Trope Namer. Has anyone ever actually tried to count all the times George gets fired throughout the series?
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The "cheeky" French Maid robot in the episode that introduces Rosienote . Considering the original episodes were produced when they didn't allow female navels on TV (as in I Dream of Jeannie), it's fun to imagine that Judy's navel is "really" exposed throughout the series, but just not drawn due to the simplified art style.
- Grade School CEO: One episode features a company headed by a boy around Elroy's age.
- Happily Married: George and Jane.
- Height Angst: Cosmo G. Spacely is barely one-third of George Jetson's height, which adds to the triggers for Spacely to fire Jetson once per episode.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Jane, mostly. George, definitely.
- Hold Your Hippogriffs: Plenty of proverbs Recycled In Space: "That's the way the satellite spins."
- Hollywood Genetics: Why are Elroy and Judy blondes when their parents are both redheads?
- Humans Are White: There are no black people in The Jetsons. You know, just like every other TV show created in the early '60s. They did add some more diversity in the 80s episodes, though.
- Jerk Ass: Cogswell. Spacely also qualifies, even if he DOES have a few Pet the Dog moments.
- Mean Boss: Mr. Spacely's no doubt one of animation's biggest examples of this. And again, Mr. Cogswell.
- The Napoleon: Mr. Spacely
- No OSHA Compliance: Noting that these buildings are thousands of feet in the air, the parking lots don't have any barriers, and there are even suspended conveyor belts without railingsnote in public places. Far worse when you think hovercraft accidents may leave the occupants hurtling through the glass domes, and down thousands of feet.
- Overprotective Dad: As boy-crazed as Judy is, George has every reason to be this.
- Pet the Dog: Spacely will have a moment or two that shows he's not such a bad guy.
- Raygun Gothic: The show is pretty much a perfect example of the era's sci-fi aesthetic.
- Recycled In Space: The Jetsons are The Flintstones IN THE FUTURE!
- Redheaded Heroes: George and Jane.
- Repetitive Audio Glitch: In "Uniblab", the titular robot gets stuck repeating "Spacely's a stupe" (one of the things it recorded George Jetson saying) while Spacely was showing off the robot to a few businessmen.
- Ridiculous Future Sequelisation: In one episode George watches a clip from Rocky 912.
- Ridiculously Human Robots
- The Rival:
- Mr. Cogswell/Cogswell Cogs to Mr. Spacely/Spacely Sprockets
- One episode revealed that there's no real practical difference between sprockets or cogs, in such a way as to suggest that this is some sort of dirty secret which could prove ruinous to one or both companies should it ever be made public.
- One episode reveals the rivalry came from when they were kids. They attended the same school; graduated the same day; Spacely Sprockets and Cogswell Cogs were founded practically at the same time. Making his millionth cog before Spacely made his millionth sprocket meant so much for Cogswell he didn't mind going to prison for what he did to sabotage Spacely.
- Robot Antennae: Rosie has two of them; one on either side of her head.
- Robot Maid: Rosie.
- Same Character, but Different: RUDI in the 1980's episodes looks absolutely nothing like his 1962 appearance, although it was apparently the same character (in both versions he was voice by Don Messick)
- Society Marches On:
- So, why didn't Jane learn to drive (pilot?) in High School? Because she was pregnant with Judy at the time (see below). The above is averted in The Eighties revival, where Jane and Judy do indeed drive.
- Hanna-Barbera had also done "women can't drive" jokes in other 60's cartoons, like Space Ghost and The Flintstones.
- Also, why would Jane be a housewife in a society with robot maids, automated kitchens and self-cleaning houses? They didn't always have a robot maid. Either way, Rule of Funny still applies. Maybe it just sounds better than "unemployed".
- Speech-Impaired Animal: Astro, actually pre-dating Hanna-Barbera's more famous canine example of this.
- Taxman Takes The Winnings: An episode has Jane and George making it big on betting in races (using a pair of glasses that can see a few minutes into the future) and running away from a pair of men that they think belongs to The Mafia... only to find out that the men belongs to the Intergalactic Revenue Service and that the government's cut of their winnings leaves them with only one (space) dollar.
- Theme Tune Cameo: The Jetsons' doorbell chimes four notes of the theme song.
- Theme Tune Roll Call: Meet George Jetson, his boy Elroy, daughter Judy, Jane, his wife.
- Through a Face Full of Fur: Common with Orbitty, as he has the special ability to change into various colors, depending on his mood.
- Tin-Can Robot: Rosie
- Title Sequence Replacement:
- The '80s series used the same intro animation from the original, but the theme tune was re-recorded with (electronic) Simmons Drums, electric bass and some other changes (some de-jazzification?) in an attempt to make it sound more modern. But this new recording was also applied to subsequent re-issues of the original series in some weird attempt at revisionism.
- The '60s series also gained the 1985 title cards, end credits sequence, and the laugh track was removed to put it in line with the then-new season. Compare this to this. This was an attempt to "seamlessly" fit the 1962-3 and 1985/1987 seasons into the one syndication package, as if no one would notice the the difference between them (e.g. the voice actors ageing by a couple of decades, and real-life technological advances during the gap leading to the '80s seasons focusing more on computer than mechanical technology). The 2004 DVDs (and newer re-issues to broadcasters) have restored all of the above to the originals except for the title cards, with the original Cold Openings still missing.
- The 1990 movie has a completely remade version of the intro animation, which features some Conspicuous CG. Notably, Jane kisses George instead of taking his wallet.
- Unplanned Crossdressing: The automatic grooming device(s) would occasionally dress George in Jane's clothes and/or give him her hairstyle.
- It also happened to Judy when the device accidentally dressed her in George's tuxedo. Bizarrely, it actually fit her better than you'd expect.
- Used Future:
- Rosie's often stated to be a long-obsolete (by the Jetsons' era's standards) robot model, with more advanced robots available.
- There's also the Jetsons' futuristic tech sometimes breaking down or malfunctioning.
- In "Private Property", when George Jetson and Mr. Spacely saw a building being erected next to the headquarters of Spacely Sprockets, the two of them agreed that it's not like in the "old" days when it took a "whole week" to erect a building.
- Video Phone: Fitting with the cartoon's Raygun Gothic aesthetic. Taken to ridiculous ends all the times Mr Spacely is able to reach through the screen and physically throttle George.
- In some episodes Jane can be seen shopping and the kids doing schoolwork on it, which pushes it slightly more towards the desktop PCs of the actual future than the dedicated-hardware videophone of pure zeerust.
- Visual Pun: "Let me put on my face" is usually a euphemism for putting on makeup. In the cartoon, Jane and a friend of hers actually put on faces over their bed heads.
- We Will All Fly in the Future: When we're not using moving sidewalks, everyone gets around with flying cars or jetpacks.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Orbitty, the Jetsons' alien pet that was added in the second season, doesn't appear in the third season (aside from one cameo) or any of the movies.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: Jane is thirty-three and Judy is sixteen. One expects Hanna-Barbera didn't intend for Jane to have become a mother at the age of seventeen...
- Zeerust: To the point where the Smithsonian's Paleofuture blog is running an episode-by-episode analysis of the original 1962 series and the effect it had on people's perceptions of the future.
The 1990 film provides examples of:
- 2-D Space: Even in a future with flying cars there are still roads and traffic jams.
- The Ace: Apollo Blue and Teddy-2.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: George refers to Mr. Spacely as the company's "penny-pinching peaheaded president" in one scene.
- Alliterative Name: Jane and Judy Jetson. Also Furgie Furbalow.
- Ambiguous Gender: If Furgie's dad didn't says she was a girl, most people would have never known she wasnote . Astro, of all characters, reaffirms viewers that Furgie is a girl at the end, when the Furbalow parents are bidding the Jetsons farewell and then ask where Furgie is, after which Astro hands her back to her parents and says, "Here she is!"
- Lampshaded at one point, where when Bertie explains that Furgie is a girl Rosie turns to Jane and says "how can ya tell?"
- Animation Bump: Watch an earlier episode of the first season of the show, then look at this movie and see how much the animation quality improved.
- Big Damn Movie: The original show = basically The Flintstones in space. The Movie = taking down a corrupt corporation from within, with the survival of an entire species hanging in the balance.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: George uses a blow-up traffic cop to get through a traffic jam.
- Calling the Old Man Out: George criticizing Mr. Spacely for endangering the cute little critters.
- Chew Toy: George really takes a lot of damage in this movie, yet it's mainly for laughs.
- Conspicuous CG: Pretty early example, predating the famous ballroom scene from Beauty and the Beast.
- Disney Acid Sequence: Judy and Apollo's song, "You and Me". Justified in that it was in a simulation room.note
- Disney Death: Elroy, sort of.
- Gang of Critters
- Gentle Giant: The Furbalows.
- High Turnover Rate: The vice-president position.
- Logo Joke: The Hanna-Barbera Swirling Star appears at the end of the movie, albeit with its "swirling" sound effects replaced with a majestic-sounding rendition of four notes from the Jetsons theme song.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: The Grungies. Also Furgie.
- The Rival: Teddy-2 for Elroy, at first.
- Soap Within a Show: Jane, Rosie and Astro are watching "All My Androids". All three are in tears as "Galaxina threatens to pull the plug on her romance", with jane having to tell Rosie to stop in case she rusts again.
- Strong Family Resemblance: Teddy-2 looks just like his father. Also Furgie looks a lot like a smaller version of her dad.
- Stock Audio Clip: Judy cheering "Yay Daddy!"note
- Tagalong Kid: Furgie Furbalow.
- Today X, Tomorrow the World!: A variation: Mr. Spacely says, "Today, Spacely Sprockets, tomorrow, the universe!"
- Unexplained Recovery: Mr. Spacely rips out Rudy 2's wires, disabling him. He's seen at the end of the film functioning just fine, and no mention is made of it.
- We Could Have Avoided All This: Mr. Spacely reveals towards the end that he knew about the Grungies living under his factory the entire time. Let that sink in now.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The Grungies.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Apollo Blue and the Furbalow family.
- Zeerust Canon: Being made in 1990, this movie is loaded with 1980's pop culture, from music to hairstyles, yet it's still set in the same 1960's Raygun Gothic future, which sometimes gives a weird combination.