Western Animation / Visionaries

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Fan art of the main cast by Leanne Hannah.

"It is a time where magic is more powerful than science, and only those who control the magic control destiny. They are the Visionaries."

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.

December 2015 saw Hasbro and Paramount Pictures announcing a shared Hasbro movie-verse (with the recent G.I. Joe movies as the start), which will include reimagined versions of this show, M.A.S.K., the Micronauts and ROM.


Tropes of the Magical Light:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: Feryl briefly leaves the Spectral Knights in "Feryl Steps Out".
  • 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 Figure File Card: The toys had them.
  • Action-Hogging Opening
  • Alien Sky: Prysmos' three suns.
  • An Aesop: Quite a few:
    • We are stronger together as a team than on our own.
    • Slavery is wrong.
    • Aging isn't bad and gives you wisdom.
    • You are not worthless despite what you think.
    • Not all Magic Users are bad.
    • Help others, show kindness and they will help you.
    • Be Yourself.
    • Good and Evil must put aside their differences to battle Greater Evil (or Greater Chaos).
  • An Axe to Grind: Weapon of Choice for Darkstorm, Cravex and Virulina.
  • Androcles' Lion: Arzon and Witterquick are tasked to find a dragon's claw, which Merklynn needs to cure the Magical Plague which threatens to wipe the Visionaries out. When a Winged Dragon is injured, Arzon stitches its wounds rather than killing it, much to Witterquick's protests. The Winged Dragon then helps the duo finds a dragon's claw and fly them to Merklynn's Shrine.
  • 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 'n Friends (both also Sunbow produced); or any action cartoon at that timenote . It still holds up fairly well too.
  • Animorphism: While the staves had limited charges (and could only be recharged by Merklynn directly, usually in return for doing a quest for him), the Knights and Lords seemed to have unlimited use of the ability to transform into their totem animal. The animal they turn into is the same color as the totem itself (blue for the Spectral Knights, green for the Darkling Lords).
  • Anti-Villain: Cindarr has many traits of anti-villainy. He refuses to kill small animals and thinks it's wrong to break a promise. When Darkstorm wants to reward him with superior intelligence and slaves, a genius!Cindarr says that slavery is morally wrong and free slaves are more productive. He only serve Darkstorm because of the oath of loyalty he was forced to make.
  • Arch-Nemesis: Cryotek and Cindarr. Galadria and Virulina. Ectar and Reekon. They all knew each other before joining their respective factions.
  • Aside Glance: In the Series Finale, the Hair Imp makes an OK gesture with his fingers toward the camera. He then open the tomb where his fellow Imps are imprisoned. Merklynn close tomb's door and lock it. He then turn to the camera, makes an OK gesture with his fingers and wink.
  • Bad Boss: Darkstorm mistreats and yells at his underlings. He even refused to share the spoils of war after taking over the Spectral Knights. Mortdredd, his most loyal servant, receive most of the abuse. However, in one episode, Darkstorm has the ultimate power and wants to reward his most loyal subjects: Mortdredd with servants, Cindarr with superior intelligence and serenity to Cravex. Of course, that didn't stop him from punishing Virulina, Reekon and Lexor just because they think Darkstorm hasn't compensating them enough.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: The Darkling Lords all have totems based on creatures that, In-Universe, seem to have unpleasant symbolism at best (their leader becomes a slimy giant mollusk, and the others can transform into a treacherous lizard, a servile beetle, an alien flying scavenger, a simple-minded Killer Gorilla, a cowardly armadillo, and a predatory shark). 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 (their leader is a wise lion, and other animals include an idealistic wolf, a quick-witted fox, a paternal bear, a clever eagle, a speedy cheetah, and a playful dolphin), 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.
  • Batman Gambit: Double-subversion. After Darkstorm said he wouldn't share the loot with the rest of the Darkling Lords, Lexor tried to arouse Cravex's anger so he'll attack Darkstorm for him. However, Cravex saw right through Lexor's scheme and attacked him... and then everybody else, including Darkstorm.
  • 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 Mortdredd may seem like a cowardly sycophant, but do not insult his boss.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Cryotek
  • Brought Down to Normal: One of the Darkling Lords' vehicles has compartments which can remove (or restore) a visionary's totem.
  • Butt Monkey: Mortdredd just couldn't catch a break. Even his totem sucks.
    • Lexor as well. When he isn't running away, he never won a fight and his weapon (a double-hook) is lame. None of his schemes ever worked and always backfired.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: The characters used two-sentence rhymes to cast their staff or shield spells.
  • Carry a Big Stick: Cindarr is using a huge mace and Arzon some sort of flanged 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.
  • 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 Is Easy: Invoked by Darkstorm in the first episode.
  • Evil Overlord: Darkstorm.
  • Expository Theme Tune
  • Feudal Future: What Prysmos looks like during the Age of Magic.
  • Forgot About His Powers: In one episode, the Spectral Knights are racing to a fountain of youth before the Darkling Lords destroy it. All this could have been resolve quickly if Witterquick just used his power staff which is Lightspeed.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In a flashback, you can see Virulina working as a newscaster and Cindarr as a construction worker.
  • 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.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Darkstorm's guards are terribly bad. They fail to recognize the Spectral Knights as escaped prisoners until it was too late. The Spectral Knights's guards aren't any better however. None of them were present when the Darkling Lords made their escape. Twice. And if that wasn't enough, they were seen playing cards while on duty and fail to recognize Ectar, their boss mind you, in his fox shape.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Played with. Most of the characters on both sides spend as much time with their helmets on as with them off. However, all the Spectral Knights except for Witterquick have open-faced helmets while the Darkling Lords all have face-concealing ones.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Downplayed. Of all the seven Spectral Knights, only Galadria use a sword. The other character carrying a sword is Reekon and he's a Darkling Lord.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Leoric and Feryl, most noticeably in "Feryl Steps Out" and "The Power of the Wise".
  • Honor Before Reason: Arzon. He turn himself in to Darkstorm and get enslaved so his fellow knights wouldn't be sent to the mines.
  • 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.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: Several dragons: a mechanical one, four-legged one, a winged one and a two-headed one.
  • Instant Illness: The Magical Plague from "Horn of Unicorn, Claw of Dragon". In the first few minutes of the episode, three Spectral Knights collapse from it, despite appearing completely healthy just moments before:

    Leoric (to Galadria): Did he [Cryotek] seem ill before he fell?
    Galadria: No, he was fine. Then he toppled over.
  • 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.
  • King of Beasts: Leoric's lion form represents his role as leader of the Knights.
  • 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.
  • Multiple Head Case: There's a two-headed dragon in one episode.
  • Mystical Plague: The Magical Plague in "Horn of Unicorn, Claw of Dragon" only affects magic users.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Darkstorm. Mortdredd sounds like a combination of Mort (which is French for "Dead") and Dread.
  • Nature Spirit: The Wood Nymphs that protect the unicorns from harm.
  • Never Say "Die": While "destroy" is used, "slay" is also fairly common. Very averted, however, in "Lion Hunt", in which every Spectral Knight says "Dead?!" unbelievingly, after being told of Leoric's supposed death.
  • No-One Could Survive That: In "The Power of the Wise", Leoric and Feryl fall off the edge of a cliff. They survive by catching hold of a conveniently placed ledge, but Cravex, having seen the two Spectral Knights fall, automatically assumes they're dead and later takes a sadistic delight in telling their comrades:
    Don't feel too bad. Leoric and Feryl took a little dive off the edge of the mountain. I've got a feeling neither one of them will ever be thirsty again!
  • Only in It for the Money: Reekon only serves Darkstorm because Darkstorm pays 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.
  • Reset Button: When Darkstorm overthrow Merklynn and steal his magic orb, he unleashed a doomsday spell that will destroy the planet with earthquakes, rain of fire, monsters, tsunamis and eternal darkness. Darkstorm then race to free Merklynn so he can undo all the damage, as the planet is being ravaged by the plagues. Merklynn reveals there is no plague of eternal darkness. The doomsday spell was failsafe designed to fool someone into bringing him the orb, in case he steals it from Merklynn. He then undo all the plagues and everything goes back to normal.
  • Reverse Polarity: When Cryotek is captured, he is thrown in the Magic Dungeon to have his magic totem removed. Before the process is completed, Crytoek pulled Cravex in the dungeon. Darkstorm orders Reekon to "Reverse polarity!"
  • 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.
  • Spoiler Title: Quite a few.
  • Stealth Insult: Merklynn and the Visionaries are discussing how to get rid of the Sun Imps. Then we get this exchange:
    Merklynn: Without the sun, they will quickly become powerless.
    Cindarr: They are Sun Imps. So they need the sun.
    Cravex: You're very quick Cindarr. Very quick.
  • 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.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Darkstorm doesn't know how to swim. Virulina saved him once from drowning by swallowing him in shark form. In another instance, he panicked while in the water, but Mortdredd pointed him out that the depth of the water was just waist-height.
  • Super Senses: Feryl's "amazing tracking skills".
  • Super Speed: Witterquick's power staff is Lightspeed.
  • Sycophantic Servant: Mortdredd to Darkstorm.
  • Taken for Granite: Darkstorm favorite spell after he take over Merklynn's orb. He used it on the Spectral Knights and his less loyal knights: Virulina, Reekon and Lexor.
  • Technopath: If a Visionary didn't have a staff, he or she gained the power to use certain magical vehicles instead.
  • Tempting Fate: The Darkling Lords made it to the prison where Merklynn is being held. Mortdredd congratulate his master: "Thanks to you Lord Darkstorm, we made it." Cue giant tidalwave swallow them whole.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Lexor asking Cindarr to unleash the power of Destruction, while he and the Darkling Lords are still inside Darkstorm's castle.
  • 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
  • Unicorns Are Sacred: In one episode, Lexor and Cindarr are hunting for a unicorn's horn. The component is to be used for a cure against a plague that affect Magic Users. The Wood Nymphs that protect the unicorns hinger the duo's efforts. However, after they witnessed Cindarr sparing a baby unicorn and saying they aren't hunting for sport, but to save lives, the Wood Nymphs gave him a horn of an unicorn that has already passed away.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Poor Cindarr. Because of his low intelligence, he's the constant victim of people's Batman Gambit, Lexor in particular.
  • 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.
  • Villain Episode: "The Overthrow of Merklynn" centers mostly on Darkstorm and his quest to take over Merklynn's power.
  • 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 and a well-deserved dressing-down of Merklynn for shortchanging them, magical shields with the powers of healing and sickness respectively.
  • Whip It Good: Leoric's weapon of choice.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: When Cryotek accidentally get two totems, his bear form and Cravex's phylot form, he goes Ax-Crazy.
  • 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 7000 years ago as the series begins.
  • Worthy Opponent: Ectar and Reekon see each other was worthy adversary, the greatest policeman and the greatest thief on the planet respectively. Their rivalry dated all the back in the Age of Science. In one episode, they believe their fight ended in a draw so Reekon let Ectar leave unscathed.
  • Yes-Man: Mortdredd.

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