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Western Animation: Visionaries
Fan art of the main cast by Leanne Hannah.

Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light is an Animated Series from 1987 co-produced by Hasbro, Sunbow Entertainment and TMS Entertainment. Originally conceived as as an action figure toy-line, the series had both a cartoon and a comic book line to help promote it. Unfortunately due to low sales, the show only lasted thirteen episodes and the comic was cut off mid-storyline.

Set on the planet of Prysmos, where its three blazing suns have recently gone into convergence - signalling the rebirth of the Age of Magic. As all their previous technology has now gone dead, its people quickly revert into a feudalistic medieval lifestyle. Shortly thereafter the wizard Merklynn announces a challenge; all those who can reach his shrine will be granted powers of transformation and other magical powers. The show follows the fourteen successful characters; the good Spectral Knights and the evil Darkling Lords.


Tropes:

  • Above Good and Evil: Merklynn's only desire is to see magic restored to its former prominence. As such, he doesn't care one way or the other about whether or not his agents are good or evil, so long as they perform the tasks he gives them. At the start of the series, he would also bail out whichever side needed his aid, in order to keep his agents in play (setting captured Darkling Lords free, for example). However, after one too many attempts by Darkstorm to steal his power, Merklynn decided to start letting the Darkling Lords get themselves out of trouble. He also became friendlier to the Spectral Knights over time, and took action against legitimately evil sorcerers.
  • Action-Hogging Opening
  • Alien Sky: Prysmos' three suns.
  • An Axe to Grind: Darkstorm's weapon of choice.
  • Animal Motifs: All the characters (both Spectral Knights and Darkling Lords) have an animal symbol (called a "totem") that grants them their powers. They also represent the emotions of the users.
    • Additionally, the staves had dual-image holograms (one image unique to each staff representing its power and the other representing the owner's affiliation). The Spectral Knights' staves had a unicorn, while those of the Darkling Lords had a dragon.
  • Animation Bump: Compared to either The Transformers or My Little Pony And Friends (both also Sunbow produced); or any action cartoon at that timenote . It still holds up fairly well too.
  • Animorphism
  • Arch-Nemesis: Cryotek and Cindarr. Galadria and Virulina. Ectar and Reekon. They all knew each other before joining their respective factions.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: The Darkling Lords all have totems based on creatures that, In-Universe, seem to have unpleasant symbolism at best (in addition the array of predators and scavengers, there's The Brute with a Killer Gorilla form, the Yes-Man who becomes an innocuous skittering beetle, and a cowardly figure whose form is vaguely armadillo-like). Beyond that, their power staffs consist of three based on Destruction, Decay and Fear, and Lexor's power of Invulnerability, which is implied to have been granted based on his cowardice.
    • Good Powers Good People: In comparison, the Spectral Knights have noble animal totems and far more benevolent-themed power staffs: Knowledge, Wisdom, Might and Speed.
  • Barrier Warrior: Lexor's power staff allowed him to erect an impenetrable protective barrier.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Cryotek's totem.
  • Beard of Evil: Each of the male Darkling Lords has one, whereas Leoric is the only Spectral Knight to have any kind of facial hair.
  • Berserk Button: For Cravex, pretty much everything.
    • Also Mortredd may seem like a cowardly sycophant, but do not insult his boss.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Cryotek
  • Brought Down to Normal: The vehicles have compartments which can remove (or restore) a visionary's totem.
  • Butt Monkey: Mortdredd just couldn't catch a break. Even his totem sucks.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: The characters used two-sentence rhymes to cast their staff or shield spells.
  • Carry a Big Stick: Cindarr's trusty mace.
  • Colour Coded Armies: You can tell the character's alignments just by looking at their armor. Bright primaries for the Spectral Knights, and variations on black, red and purple for the Darkling Lords.
    • Additionally, the totem animal images on their chests; the Spectral Knights had blue images, the Darkling Lords had green.
    • The Spectral Knights' weapons and staves are silver and the Darkling Lords' ones are gold.
  • Continuity Nod/Running Gag: The Botanical Garden Committee. Other lesser examples include the barracks zoning problems and the farmers from "Quest for the Dragon's Eye" being accused of "unfair competition".
  • Cryptic Conversation: How Leoric's Staff of Wisdom imparts its knowledge. It is, of course, damn near useless.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: What Prysmos looked like during the Age of Science.
  • Cunning Like a Fox: Ectar's cleverness earns him the fox's totem.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Darkstorm has proven to be quite cunning and probably wrote a page or two of the Evil Overlord List. For example, he is perfectly willing to help others, as long as it furthers his goals, such as saving the other Darkling Lords in the first episode in exchange for their servitude. He even chastises Virulina for her selfish attitudes regarding others.
    Virulina:"I, for one, would never try to rescue one of my friends.
    Darkstorm: "That, my dear, is why you have no friends".
  • Designated Girl Fight: Galadria, the female Spectral Knight, is able to turn into a dolphin. The only member of the Darkling Lords she can fight happens to be Virulina, the woman who turns into a shark. Oddly averted with Virulina herself, who got into a few fights with the male Visionaries and did fairly well for herself.
  • Dirty Coward: Lexor.
  • Dumb Muscle: Cindarr.
  • Enemy Mine: The Sun Imps represent such a dangerous and chaotic force that the Spectral Knights and Darkling Lords are forced to team up to subdue them.
  • Epic Flail: Cryotek's signature weapon.
  • Everything's Even Worse with Sharks: Virulina's totem.
  • Evil Overlord: Darkstorm.
  • Expository Theme Tune
  • Feudal Future: What Prysmos looks like during the Age of Magic.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Cindarr stops fighting to rescue a cat buried from a pile of rubble and refuses to kill a unicorn to take its horn.
    • Arzon is also reluctant to kill animals.
  • Fusion Dance: Cryotek ends up absorbing Cravex's totem along with his own in one episode. Bad things happen.
  • Gentle Giant: Cindarr.
  • Good Powers, Bad People: Erecting a protective barrier might normally be a good power, but it was typically wielded by the sniveling coward Lexor, who used it to protect himself more than anyone else.
  • Human Chess
  • Hypocritical Humour: In Lion Hunt, Leoric is Mode Locked in lion form (with a Palette Swap so he looks like a different magical lion) and is being hunted by his own friends because the commoners complain that there's a lion terrorising them. After the truth has been revealed, the commoners call their powers "witchcraft" and the Knights tell them not to jump to conclusions without learning what's actually going on. Leoric gives a rather sarcastic growl.
  • Inferred Holocaust: Technology stopped working. We see a plane crash and 10 years later the huge (technically still habitable) cities are abandoned despite the fact that there is no way that the villages has enough room for all the people who used to live in them. Clearly there is no longer any need to provide housing for millions of people.
  • Jerkass: Merklyn is a complete and total asshole. The first episode ends with him making the people he just empowered leave via mudslide, while he points and laughs, for no reason other than his amusement. At one point he threatens to blight the good guy's kingdoms if they don't obey him.
  • Magical Incantation: The staves are activated with a rhyming couplet.
  • Magic Knight: Almost all the major characters except for Merklynn.
  • Man-Eating Plant: The Meatius Chompitii from the episode "Honor Among Thieves".
  • Maniac Monkeys: Cindarr's totem.
  • The Magic Comes Back: The premise of the show. Every 1000 years Prysmos enters an Age of Magic/Age of Science.
  • Merchandise-Driven
  • Mistaken for Own Murderer: Leoric gets ModeLocked as a lion, and his fellow Spectral Knights who know he shapeshifts into a lion assume this other lion killed him.
  • Monochrome Casting: The entirety of the cast is made up of Caucasians — the only people of any other race are seen in background group shots. Even the cancelled second set of toys features exclusively white guys.
  • Mystical Plague: The Magical Plague in Horn of Unicorn, Claw of Dragon only affects magic users.
  • Never Say "Die": While "destroy" is used, "slay" is also fairly common. Very averted, however, in "The Lion Hunt", in which every Spectral Knight says "Dead?!" unbelievingly, as the presumed fate of Leoric. Darkstorm even tells his allies to kill the villagers!
  • Only in It for the Money: Lexor only served Darkstorm because Darkstorm paid him. At one point, he even mutters to himself that he'd willingly serve Leoric if the Spectral Knights made him a better offer.
  • The Owl-Knowing One: Leoric's Staff of Wisdom.
  • Psycho for Hire: Cravex.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Leoric (Prince of New Valarak), Cryotek (King of Northelia) and Arzon (Crown Prince of Regalia). On the Darkling Lords side we have Darkstorm (Baron of Blackdak, Lord of the Veldt, Satrap of Zangora), who usually takes a personal hand in trying to defeat the Spectral Knights.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Sun Imps. Though sealed chaos in a can might be slightly more accurate.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: Happens to Leoric in "Lion Hunt", in which he becomes trapped in his animal form.
  • Smug Snake: Darkstorm.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Galadria and Virulina. They're also the only two who have aquatic animal forms. That said, they sometimes did fight the male cast members, and didn't do a half bad job.
  • Sycophantic Servant: Mortredd to Darkstorm.
  • Technopath: If a Visionary didn't have a staff, he or she gained the power to use certain magical vehicles instead.
  • Toyless Toyline Character: Again, Galadria and Virulina. They weren't even included in the canceled second series of action figures.
    • Merklynn didn't get a figure either, although at least Hasbro planned to include a holographic image of him in the unproduced Iron Mountain playset.
  • Transformation Conventions: Justified. Merklynn gave each knight their animal totems based on the abilities and personality traits they displayed during his quest.
  • 24-Hour Armor
  • Vancian Magic: The Visionaries' magical staves each only have one fairly limited function, and may only be used once before needing to be recharged in Merklynn's magical pool.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Of all the totems Merklynn could have chosen for Galadria and Virulina - they get stuck with aquatic animals. They also end up with neither Staffs (until the comic book series), nor Vehicle-based powers.
    • Also invoked in-show by Ectar when he compared Leoric's Staff of Knowledge to Cindarr's Staff of Destruction.
    • In the comics, Galadria and Virulina received, after a few issues, magical shields with the powers of healing and sickness respectively.
  • Whip It Good: Leoric's weapon of choice.
  • Wizard Beard: Merklynn sports a particularly fine example.
  • Wizards Live Longer: Merklynn. He was a prominent figure during the first Age of Magic...which was over a thousand years ago as the series begins.
  • Yes-Man: Mortredd.

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alternative title(s): Visionaries
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