A Cartoon Network
series created by Cow and Chicken
storyboard artist Greg Miller, Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones?
is a mix of affectionate homage and witty parody of late 1970s
and early 1980s
Set in an alternate history where robots have become a major part of society, the world's most technologically advanced robot (named "Robot Jones" obviously) is given the task to attend a human junior high school to understand humanity. Along the way he befriends a trio of outcasts named Socks, Mitch, and Cubey. He also develops a crush on a nerd named Shannon, due to her Braces of Orthodontic Overkill
and rather robotic-looking prosthetic leg. However, lurking in a secret base in the school air ducts, there are the Yogman Twins, two evil brothers that wish to steal Robot's brain and use it to control the minds of everyone in the school.
The show had little network support
and no commercial appeal. Aired from 2002 to 2003, with only 13 episodes. It should be noted it was one of the finalists in the the "Big Pick" event in 2002 where viewers were allowed to pick the next show. It lost out to The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy
(back when it was paired with the Evil Con Carne
cartoons and referred to as Grim and Evil
), which got picked and lasted longer than this show.
Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones? provides examples of:
- All Love Is Unrequited: Shannon does not return Robot Jones's affections. In fact, she doesn't even consider him a friend, but more of a pest.
- Alternate History: The series takes place in an alternate version of the 1980s, where robots have become commonplace.
- Ambiguously Gay: Mr. Workout, the gym teacher. as seen in "P.U. to P.E."
- Artificial Limbs, horribly inverted: The "cyborg" love interest has a metal prosthetic that seem like clockwork peg-leg and Braces of Orthodontic Overkill.
- An Aesop: Robot Jones gets these with his "Datalog Entries."
- Braces of Orthodontic Overkill: Shannon
- Dean Bitterman: Principal Madman, the principal of Polyneux Middle School.
- Deranged Animation: A mild example. The pilot episode looks like rough sketches turned into animation. The show itself looks like Schoolhouse Rock.
- Do-Anything Robot: The Jones family, despite their form following function, seem to be able to do whatever's the most convenient. Or awkward.
- Downer Ending: "Cube Wars" and "Jealousy".
- The Eighties: The series features red Devo hats, sunglasses with window blinds, and '80s Hair.
- Funny Afro: To a certain degree. It's actually his brain.
- Funny Robot
- Genre Throwback: See "Deranged Animation" above
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: It wasn't as packed with it as Time Squad was (which also aired at the same time as Robot Jones and got canceled in 2003), but it had its fair share of dubious moments:
- The way the episode "Scantron Love" plays out mirrors a husband (Robot) cheating on his wife (the Scantron).
- Robot Jones gets out his "downloading cable" in that episode.
- The episode "Growth Spurts" had a banner in the school gym that said, "Kick Ass". In the episodes where Robot Jones' voice was computer-generated, it wasn't cut. On the episodes where Robot Jones' voice is provided by a kid and altered to make it sound robotic, the "Ass" in "Kick Ass" was digitally removed.
- The gym teacher's line in "P.U. to P.E." after Robot Jones leaves the locker room without taking a shower: "For your own good, I am going to get you wet, Jones. One way or the other."
- The school's initials are P.M.S.
- "Vacuum Friend": During the montage of Robot Jones hanging with Dust Buddy the vacuum, Robot Jones gets caught passing a note to Dust Buddy by a female teacher. Dust Buddy sucks the teacher's dress clear off her body. Nothing was shown, though there was a hint of bra strap when the teacher yells, "ROBOT JONES!" and points to the detention room.
- The fact that Principal Madman looks EXACTLY like Adolf Hitler. If Lupin the 3rd couldn't get away with that in the Adult Swim banned episode "To Be or Nazi Be", then Principal Madman sure got away with that... it does not help that his hatred of technology and robots mirrors that of Hitler's hatred of the Jewish and other minorities.
- Graceful Ladies Like Purple: Shannon
- Jerkass: Lenny and Denny Yogman. Most of the human characters are this, too.
- Kids Are Cruel
- Karma Houdini: In "Cube Wars" the Yogman Twins cheat to win a competition and get away with it.
- The foreign exchange Austrian robot kid Finkman (yes this is how his name is spelled) was such a arrogant ass to Robot and even admit he is "stealing Robot's woman", his behavior tempted to make Robot defy his programming to fight another robot but before anything happens Finkman was for unknown reasons being sent back to Austria which leaves Robot confused and the other boys in class cheering for Robot for they too hated Finkman... not before successfully making Shannon hate Robot for thinking he's the reason why Finkman has to go back to Austria. The only lesson Robot learned for his data log entry is he hates Finkman!
- No Biological Sex: The episode "Gender" focuses on Robot's quest to discover what gender he is, exactly, since he has no sexual characteristics to speak of. (Despite fraternizing with boys and having a crush on a girl, it appears that Robot is not actually male-identified and only goes along with binary classifications for social reasons.)
- Only Sane Man: Compared to his less-advanced parents, Robot Jones is very stable.
- Orwellian Retcon: Robot Jones's second-season voice change was applied to the first season by redubbing the episodes, upsetting the fans that preferred his original voice. According to creator Greg Miller the Cartoon Network executives thought the voice sounded "too weird" and wanted to go more "Hollywood." He did robot dialogue for all eps but some of them were never properly mixed into the second season episode. The whole "lawsuit from Apple causing the voice change" explanation is just a myth.
- Putting on the Reich: Principal Madman's mustache looks like Adolf Hitler's and he's very tyrannical to his students, including Robot Jones, whom he personally wants expelled because he thinks just because Robot Jones isn't human means that he's a troublemaker.
- Rubik's Cube International Genius Symbol: Robot Jones' ability to quickly solve a Rubik's cube provides the main plot of "Cube Wars".
- Satellite Love Interest: Robot Jones appears to only like Shannon because she's partially made of metal.
- Tsundere: Shannon
- Wacky Parent, Serious Child: Robot Jones (serious child) to his parents.