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Film / Spy Kids

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"My parents can't be spies; they're not cool enough!"
Carmen Cortez

A movie franchise, written and directed by Robert Rodriguez (yes, that Robert Rodriguez), which is about kid spies.

An original trilogy was created from 2001 to 2003, focusing on Carmen and Juni Cortez, a Brother-Sister Team of Preteen Superspies, whose adventures came to resemble spying less and less as the series went along. In the first movie, they discover their seemingly normal parents are actually retired spies and set out to rescue them from a Mad Scientist who moonlights as the host of Juni's favorite TV show.

Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams introduces a rival team of kid spies, whose dad ends up being the Big Bad, and featured a plot taking place on a tropical island with a mysterious power. The third installment, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, was a 3-D Movie set inside a video game created by a madman to Take Over the World.


Eight years later in 2011, Rodriguez saw fit to continue the series with Spy Kids: All The Time in the World. The story this time focuses on a new pair of siblings whose step-mother is a retired spy for the OSS. When she gets into trouble, the kids find out her secret and set out to save her with some assistance from a now grown-up Carmen and Juni. While ATTITW rehashed the first movie's plot, it does so in a way that brings everything around full circle. Nonetheless, the film suffered from inevitable sequelitis; critics trashed the film once it hit the box office with an aggregated Rotten Tomatoes score of 23%, even less than the third movie.

The character of Machete originated in this series, and a spoof of what he'd look like as a B-movie action hero later appeared in one of the Grindhouse trailers. That trailer was eventually made into Machetenote , a full-length exploitation flick parody. Although Rodriguez planned Machete starring Trejo long before Spy Kids started production, the project sat stagnant for years. In the meantime, Rodriguez decided to insert a more family-friendly version of the character in the Spy Kids movies. Which means that, yes, Machete and Spy Kids share a universe. Try watching these films the same way again.


A CGI television series, entitled Spy Kids: Mission Critical, was produced Rodriguez and Mainframe Studios and was released on April 20, 2018 on Netflix. A trailer was released.

Tropes include:

  • Absentee Actor: It can be seen, in the first movie, that only Isador "Machete" Cortez attends Gregorio and Ingrid's wedding; there's no sign of their sister Marissa. This, out of universe, is because she wasn't cast yet - or even written into the Franchise - but in universe it is unknown as to why she did not attend their wedding.
    • Devlin doesn't appear in the second film, as a new director for OSS is chosen to replace him, and is in fact, never even mentioned. In the third film he reappears as the president of the United States. While in the film it's explained that after retiring from his position in the OSS, he ran for president as he wanted to be in a position of power that was public instead of the secret one he previously held, the real life reasoning is that Rodriguez couldn't afford to have George Clooney on screen for more than three minutes of screentime.
  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: In the fourth film, Cecil is constantly called SAY-sil (which comes out sounding like see-saw) except by the British dog, which pronounces it more correctly as say-SIL, even if it should be seh-SIL.
  • The Ace: Subverted in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over. An overly heroic super messiah comes in at the last minute, gives a rousing speech on how everyone should work together to win the game and singlehandedly bursts through the giant gates. He is instantly shot in the chest and loses all of his 99 lives. Made even funnier by the fact that he's played by Elijah Wood, and instead of having an actual name, he's simply known as "The Guy."
  • Action Mom: Ingrid Cortez and Marissa Wilson.
  • Adrenaline Makeover: The kids undergo this in the first film when they succeed in escaping Ms. Gradenko and her minions, by purchasing new outfits from a clothing store and donning sunglasses.
  • Adult Fear: The first film is loaded with this:
    • Gregorio tells Ingrid firmly that they aren't telling the kids the truth because they don't want Carmen and Juni to have nightmares about enemies coming after them. Which enemies eventually do, but that's not the point.
    • Juni's getting bullied, he's made up friends so that his parents won't worry, and he doesn't meet Gregorio's approval because he likes Floop's show.
    • Carmen has been skipping school, and she still wears diapers.
    • Before the two get captured, Ingrid wants to call the kids from the submarine car. Gregorio barely convinces her not to.
    • Floop threatens to turn the children into Fooglies during his dinner with Gregorio and Ingrid. Gregorio nearly charges at Floop, if not for the Thumb-Thumb guards.
    • In the span of a few minutes, just before they're about to go on a normal school day, Carmen and Juni find out that Felix isn't their uncle, that their parents are spies who have been captured, and that something in their house was worth raiding.
    • Carmen freaks out at the thought of her parents being turned into Fooglies, hence why she wants the Third Brain to enact a Hostage for MacGuffin scenario. Overcoming that is part of her Character Development.
    • Floop's actually Minion's plan: replace all the world leaders' children with robot clones and infiltrate accordingly for a Corrupt Corporate Executive. Which means dozens of real children would be disposed of . . .
  • Advertised Extra: Watch a commercial for an upcoming airing of Spy Kids 3-D on Disney Channel. Disney advertises it as "featuring" Emily Osment, since she has become more well known thanks to Hannah Montana after the movie came out, but she only appears in a brief conversation at the beginning and another brief appearance in the ending.
    • Which is a bit ridiculous considering there were quite a few bigger name actors to invoke Billing Displacement for.
  • Agents Dating: The first movie starts with their mother telling the story of the two spies who fell in love, with several dates... in which they are some distance from each other since they're on opposing sides.
  • A Head at Each End: A sea serpent-like critter from the second film.
  • Alliterative Name: Gary and Gertie Giggles
    • Not just those two. Carmen Cortez, anyone?
    • Wilbur Wilson, too.
    • And Danger D'Amo.
  • And I Must Scream: In the fourth film, when the Big Bad was young, he got in the way of an experiment which caused him to be frozen in time. No matter how hard the scientists tried, they could only leave him in that state. By the time he was freed, he'd been in that state long enough to watch the people around him, including his father, grow more feeble and eventually die. And because of it, his ambition was to go back in time just to relive that time period.
  • Antagonist Title: The other meaning of the title of the first film, referring to the robotic children that Floop constructed.
  • The Anticipator: When the Cortezes escape their imprisonment and start roaming Floop's lair, they fall through a trap door which leads to where Floop is waiting for them, dinner spread out, and was timing how long it took them to escape. He thought it would be a little sooner.
  • Ascended Extra: Donogan, one of the agents transformed into Fooglie's in the original, is upgraded to Big Bad of the second film.
  • Arc Words: "The third brain lives" in the first film.
  • Artistic License – Engineering: As part of a gag in the second film, the protagonists receive a pair of wristwatches that can do anything except tell time. "Anything" in this context includes the ability to access the Internet. The fact that it can access the Internet means it is a computer, and as anyone that knows anything about computers can tell you, it's impossible to have a functional computer without a clock.
    • Though he may have meant that he had added so many user interface tools that he no longer had room to add a visible clock. Like having too many desktop icons on your computer leaving no room for the task bar.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: To the point of being a Central Theme in the second film. The aforementioned wristwatches are premiere Gadget Watches but are so loaded with the necessary and required crap that there's no more room for a clock. Gary and Gerti also have watches, which can tell time, but are so huge they cover their entire forearms. Donnagon Giggle's office as the new head of the OSS is so huge that he has to hopscotch across precarious pillars over what is presumably a bottomless pit just to get to his desk, which is hugely contrasted to Gregorio's office, which is as simple an office as you can get.
  • Back for the Finale: Every major character from the first two movies come back for the "big fight" at the end of the third one.
    • And some minor characters as well, like Dinky Winks and his son.
  • Badass Boast: Floop gets a surprisingly good one when introducing Ingrid and Gregorio to his Thumb Thumb robots.
    Careful, I snap my fingers, and my fingers snap you.
    • Only marred by one of the robots tripping over clumsily.
  • Badass Family: The Cortezes - we're talking about a family where the dad is Antonio Banderas, the uncle is Danny Trejo, and Grandpa is Ricardo Montalban! And the aunt is Jessica Alba who is active throughout her pregnancy including while in labor.
  • Badass Grandpa: Again, Grandpa is Ricardo Montalban - what did you expect?
  • Badass Mustache: When Antonio Banderas is in "spy" mode, he wears a (fake) mustache. When he's in "dad" mode, he has no mustache. Fake Uncle Felix does things the other way round.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Apparently, this is how Floop's "Fooglies" are created.
  • Bar Slide: How Gregorio proposes to Ingrid - sliding the ring along the railing of the Eiffel Tower
  • Bare Your Midriff: Carmen wears an outfit that does such at the beginning of the second movie, up to and including the dinner scene. She also does this in the credits.
  • Battle Discretion Shot: From the first movie: "Carmen? Juni? Close your eyes. We don't want you to see this." *mass of punching and kicking off camera*
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Ms. Gradenko in the first film. She's introduced as the parents' liason when they go to find Floop, and as the agent who shows up to debrief the kids at the safehouse. When Juni realizes she came with Thumb-Thumbs however, which sink the sub, her mask fades away rather quickly.
  • Blatant Lies: In the second film, Romero says that the mixing the species was an accident. The accompanying flashback shows him holding two vials and having a look that just screams "For Science!"
  • Bowdlerise: Airings on Freeform (formerly ABC Family) omit the references to Halo and Metroid.
  • Brick Joke: After getting captured, Ingrid snarks that only one of the kids is in diapers. Later on, Juni calls Carmen "Diaper Lady" while they're bickering, as he had threatened to do earlier.
  • Brother-Sister Team: Carmen and Juni.
  • Call a Pegasus a "Hippogriff": At one point Juni refers to the half gorilla, half tarantula creature that's been following him as a centaur. Its actual name seems to be a "spider monkey".
  • Call-Back: Several in the fourth film.
    • For example, when Rebecca and Cecil find out Marissa works for the OSS...
    Rebecca: Impossible... she's not cool enough.
    • And when the Wilsons and Carmen are surrounded by enemy agents at the hideout...
  • Censor Box: The president, Devlin, has one that he physically puts over his eyes during video transmissions, which he can take off and move around using only his hands.
  • Changeling Fantasy - Played with: The kids are raised by their real parents, but don't know they're spies until the first film. An "uncle" does turn out to be an agent assigned to protect their family, though.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The kids' daily exercises at a home jungle gym makes them physically adept when they have to enter a mission for real.
    • Juni's love of Floop's show. His Broken Pedestal speech to Floop convinces the latter to make a Heel–Face Turn.
    • Juni's Fooglie drawing, sort of. Minion forcibly transforms Gregorio into it, which lasts for all of 5 minutes.
    • Electric bubblegum.
    • Machete Elastic Wonder in the second film.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Machete, Gregorio's "best man" at the wedding. He turns out to be the kids' uncle and a Gadgeteer Genius.
  • Chekhov's Lecture: Ms. Gradenko when gaining the kids' trust in the safehouse shows them that Fooglies can communicate if you play their Black Speech backwards. This allows Juni to communicate with them later.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Juni's ability to mimic voices distracts Minion long enough for his parents to incapacitate the Big Bad.
  • Child Hater: "It's good to be back, Alex. Let's never have children."
  • Chickification: Carmen in the third film.
  • The Chosen Zero: Third movie. "The Guy" - Juni has this kind of doubt...then later one guy shows up thinking he's the chosen one...and takes five steps and dies.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Alexander Minion
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The Timekeeper steps out of the frame after disabling the Armageddon device and is never seen again.
  • Clark Kenting: The dad, hilariously, simply puts on a moustache for his spy disguise. Averted with the mom in the flashback, who dons several wigs and can change her outfits in a matter of minutes.
  • Close on Title: The title card for the fourth movie appears before the final scene.
  • Closer to Earth: The female members of the Giggles family are good; the male ones are evil.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Gregorio thinks that Juni is this in the first film, but Floop is a bit closer, in that he only realizes that he's not a bad guy when Minion turns on him and he's more focused on his show than on impressing Mr. Lisp.
  • Collapsed Mid-Speech: An entire mob of grown-ups pass out during a speech.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Happens to Floop at least once.
    Minion: You're spending too much time on this program, when you should be more concerned with our grand, diabolical plan
    Floop: Syndication?
  • Consulting a Convicted Killer: The kids call Floop and Minion in the second film to ask about dirty OSS agents.
  • Cool Car: In the first film, the Cortez parents own an SUV which has a lot of hidden gadgets and can turn into a submarine.
  • Conspicuous CG: All over the place.
    • The third movie has a really bad case of "Conspicuous 3D". Basically, they were banking on shoving 3D CGI in your face to sell the movie. You could make a Drinking Game out of watching the movie in 2D and taking a shot every time every time a blurry foreground object, clearly meant to be rendered in 3D, blocks half the screen.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Spies have to be this way. Ingrid in the flashback to her spy days wore two wigs to change disguises while tracking down Gregorio.
  • Crossover: Danny Trejo has stated that the Machete Cortez in Machete is what the Machete Cortez from Spy Kids does when he's not taking care of the kids. As Robert Rodriguez intended to make a Machete movie years before he was able to, he inserted a more family-friendly version of the character into Spy Kids in the meantime, so this is technically canonical.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Juni in the first film. His father thinks he's a Cloud Cuckoo Lander, his sister thinks he's an Annoying Younger Sibling, but he's very observant, remembers Chekhov's Lecture from Ms. Gradenko, and gets cool ideas.
  • Dangerous Device Disposal Debacle: Before Mr. Cortez was a spy, he also worked in research and development making an AI computer referred to as the Third Brain. He was told to destroy it but admits he didn't want to and is shown switching it with a walnut and smashing that while putting the real brain in his pocket. "The Third Brain Still Lives" is a key plot point because Floop got ahold of it and used it to build his Spy Kids robots.
    • He's briefly seen working on another brain in the third film, but dramatically smashes his entire lab table when his family calls him for help.
  • Dating Catwoman: Ingrid and Gregorio met when they were assigned to take each other out as rival spies. Instead, Love at First Sight, covert dates, and a wedding ensued.
  • Deadpan Snarker: In this franchise, try and find one kid that isn't this. Good luck with that.
  • Death by Cameo: What Elijah Wood's role in the third movie effectively amounts to.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Carmen goes through a somewhat low-key version of this in the first film.
  • Demoted to Extra: Everyone, minus Carmen and Juni in the third film; they themselves take a back seat to the new Spy Kids introduced in the fourth film.
  • Description Cut: Early in 3, Juni receives miniature sharks as a present from Romero. While he dangles his fingers in their fish bowl, he comes to the part of the letter where Romero says to not do anything foolish like dangle your fingers in a fish bowl full of sharks. Cue him yanking them out just as they leap to snap at his fingers.
  • Depraved Kids' Show Host: Floop before his Heel–Face Turn
  • Dirty Cop: More like Dirty OSS Agents, that are a running theme in the franchise. Ms. Gradenko is one in the first film, serving as a Double Agent for Floop actually Minion. In the second film Donagan and Felix are this, which breaks Juni's faith in the OSS.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Floop's songs. Anything that happens in Floop's Virtual Reality Room, really.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over was originally planned as a stand-alone movie about children going inside a video game.
  • Double Agent:
    • Ms. Gradenko in the first film. She drops the act rather quickly.
    • Danger D'Amo, head of the OSS in Spy Kids 4D.
  • Dragon Ascendant: Alexander Minion, following Floop's Heel–Face Turn.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Minion turns out to be this in the first film. See The Man Behind the Man.
  • Dull Surprise: Prevalent through the third film.
  • Easily Forgiven: All of the villains (Excluding Lisp and Ms. Gredenko) are almost instantly forgiven despite their part in schemes that likely would've thrown the whole world into disarray. Particularly noteworthy is Grandpa's forgiveness of the Toymaker, right after discussing all the things he missed in life due to the injury he caused him. They've got nothing on Donnagon though, who is still allowed to work for the OSS under the watch of his wife even after his betrayal and attempted murder of the Cortezes in the second film.
  • Embarrassing Password: The password to the base the kids find in the first movie turns out to be their names. Unfortunately...
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Mr. Lisp has a son; Floop uses a robot double of "Johnny" to demonstrate the power of the "spy kids".
    • Donagan loves his children, and is afraid of his wife .
  • Even Evil Has Standards: "You hesitated.", "I had to - he's my son."
  • Everybody Owns a Ford: Isuzus in the first movie, particularly glaring because the company's passenger line at that point had dwindled to nothing but mid-size SUVs
  • Fate Worse than Death: Floop trapped in The Virtual Room, a case of And I Must Scream as he's projected on the screens. He says that you can't get out unless someone turns it off from the outside, which means Minion wanted to trap him there for possibly an eternity.
  • Five-Man Band: Juni leads one in the third film.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the first film, Mr. Lisp hesitates to attack a robot double that matches his son to a tee, which ends up costing him. Later on, Ingrid and Gregori do a Double Take when they see Carmen and Juni's robot doubles, with similar results.
    • Minion during the demonstration to Lisp gives a lot of cues to Floop. When he gets the Third Brain, he uses the spy kids to depose Floop and trap him in The Virtual Room.
    • From the second film: courtesy of Felix, "I said I'm not your uncle!"
  • Funbag Airbag: Briefly averted in a gag about being given a lift by the pilot of a flying backpack... you face AWAY from the pilot....
  • Funny Background Event: Tick Tock yelling at his agents after Baby Spy accosts him with unexpected crop dusting.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Gerti Giggles has these, which operate as Helicopter Hair.
  • The Glasses Come Off: In the first film Minion takes off his glasses when he reveals his true nature.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: The evil robot kids from the first film
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: Third movie finale, which brought back nearly every character in the series.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The OSS, which in Real Life is a defunct organization that existed in the early 1940s. (That OSS is a precursor to the CIA.)
  • Hannibal Lecture: Carmen's robot double delivers one to Juni after receiving the third brain upgrade, about how he's "weak and useless". The real Carmen, incapacitated by Juni's double, delivers the inversion, You Are Better Than You Think You Are.
  • Happily Married: Gregorio and Ingrid, Grandpa and Grandma Cortez, and Wilbur and Marissa Wilson.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Donnagon. In the first movie he's a minor good guy (who spends most of the time as a Fooglie), in the second he's the Big Bad, and in the third he's back to being a good guy again. It's mentioned this is a recurring thing for him.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Floop, a relatively unexpected twist in the first movie.
    • Donnogan Giggles has done this by the beginning of the third movie, as has The Toymaker by the end of the third and The Timekeeper by the end of the fourth. Also, Minion shows up on the kids' side at the end when they called everyone...
    • In fact, the only villains to not end up on the good side are Mr. Lisp, Ms. Gradenko, and Tick Tock. Given the High-Heel–Face Turn trope, it's unusual because out of all the villains in the series, the only female is one of the three who don't get redeemed.
  • Heel Realization: Floop gets this when Minion turns on him and locks him in the virtual room.
  • Held Gaze: Wilbur and Marissa Wilson have two between them, one right before The Big Damn Kiss at the end.
  • Herald: "Uncle" Felix in the first movie
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Floop gets locked in the Virtual Room by Minion, which was his invention.
    • Minion gets trapped in his own Baleful Polymorph machine at the climax of the first movie. He goes ahead and activates it anyway.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: Ms. Gradenko while searching for the Third Brain at the safehouse suggests that the Third Brain could be exchanged for the Cortez parents's safety; even after Ms. Gradenko turns out to be working for Floop Carmen likes the idea. She only abandons it in favor of Juni's idea— destroying the Brain— when their robot doubles come to steal the brain from them.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Go on, make a Drinking Game out of taking a shot each time someone says something time-related in the fourth movie, and stay alive by the end of the film. We dare you.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Minion in the first film. Turns out he's The Man Behind the Man.
  • I Can Change My Beloved: Carmen has a crush on the rival bad boy spy and at one point insists she could change him. She appears to get over it by the end of the movie.
  • I Fell for Hours: In Island of Lost Dreams, Carmen and Juni reach the titular island's volcano, apparently bubbling with lava a long way down, and slip and fall into the volcano. Their fall is long enough that Juni is able to pull out a candy bar and start eating it, and the two eventually assume relaxed poses in midair.
  • I Have Your Wife: Minion suggests to Floop to capture Carmen and Juni for this reason, so they can be used against the parents. Carmen and Juni aren't easy to capture, however.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Carmen and Juni when confronting Ms. Gradenko in the safehouse. Carmen realizes two gadgets the two are holding are quite heavy, and use them as throwing weights while making her way towards the jetpacks. Juni, who had handcuffed himself to a metal lunchbox earlier, uses the lunchbox and to knock out at least one henchman.
  • Inappropriate Hunger: In Island of Lost Dreams, Carmen and Juni reach the titular island's volcano, apparently bubbling with lava a long way down. They slip and fall into the volcano and fall for an extremely long time, long enough for Juni to pull out a candy bar and start eating it while still falling.
    Carmen: "How could you be eating at a time like this?!"
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Occasionally; a particularly painful one by Donnagon in the second film: "This should be pain...and simple."
  • Indulgent Fantasy Segue: Gregorio has one in the first film in wanting to protect his son from a bully.
  • In Love with the Mark: Gregorio and Ingrid.
  • Insistent Terminology: Cecil and Rebecca are not Marissa's kids. They are her stepkids.
  • Ironic Echo: In the first film, when Carmen complains about having to look out for Juni.
    Carmen: I even have to share a room with him because he's so afraid of being alone. Take care of Juni, watch out for Juni, make sure Juni knows right from wrong. I should be responsible for nobody but me.
    • She ends up eating those words when confronting her uncle Machete on his refusal to save his own brother.
    Machete: You think I wanna babysit my brother the rest of my life? Take care of Gregorio, watch out for Gregorio, make sure Gregorio knows right from wrong. Not anymore! Machete ain't responsible for nobody but Machete.
    Carmen: But that's not what family is.
    • Suffice to say, losing her parents and nearly Juni throughout the day has opened her eyes on what she has been pushing away.
  • I Work Alone: Juni in the fourth film. For seven years. He eventually admits he did this because he felt it would be "uncool" to always keep working with his sister, so he struck out on his own, but ended up striking out instead.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Machete
  • Jet Pack: Carmen flies one to retrieve the Third Brain from Floop's minions.
  • Just a Kid: Rebecca and Cecil are instructed to stay behind with Argonaut and Spy-Baby as the rest of the OSS infiltrates The Timekeeper's hideout. They understandably mistake it for being grounded.
  • Justified Title:
    • "Spy Kids" is the name of the child robots Floop creates in the first film.
    • In the second film, the Spy Kids are the new OSS Division.
    • Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over takes place in a video game called Game Over.
  • Karma Houdini: Agent Donnagan for attempting to murder all the Cortezes, in that he only gets fired from being President of the OSS. Though he does have to answer to his wife for what he did.
    • Not only that, but in the same movie it's implied that he's tried to take over the world more that once. And he's allowed to stay with the OSS.
  • Kick the Dog: Or at least Squash the Bug.... in the second film.
  • Kid Hero
  • Kirk Summation: Used by Valentin in the third movie when he forgives the Toymaker for putting him in a wheelchair and by Rebecca and Cecil in the fourth movie when they convince The Timekeeper that his plans to travel back in time are only wreaking havoc on all the time in the world.
  • Large Ham:
    • Sylvester Stallone as the Toymaker in the third movie
    • Floop definitely deserves a mention.
    • Really, all of the adults in all of the movies. They're clearly having an immense amount of fun, which is a big part of what makes the movie so entertaining.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Gregorio shows little to no respect for Juni's interests and drawings, calling him a Cloud Cuckoo Lander and taking offense at his art. Minion later temporarily transforms him into one of Juni's drawings, when Gregorio offered it up jokingly as a weapon.
    • Carmen when she encounters Juni's robot double the first time gets grabbed by him. She then says "I've always wanted to do this" — that is punch Juni— and tries to do so to his double. It turns out that the robot doubles are literally Made of Iron, however.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: "Oh shi...take mushrooms."
  • Lethal Lava Land: Lampshaded in the third film.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared with the other films directed by Robert Rodriguez (Well, excluding The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl and Shorts...)
  • Literal Surveillance Bug: Ralph is a small robot bug who's primary function serves as a spy.
  • The Load: Carmen held the impression that Juni is this in the first film, but it gets subverted in many ways. First, he realizes before she does that Ms. Gradenko is a Dirty Cop working for Floop, that The Third Brain has to be destroyed, how to talk to the Fooglies, and convinces Floop to do a Heel–Face Turn. Carmen eventually realizes this and tells Juni You Are Better Than You Think You Are.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Machete in the first film reveals to the kids that he's their uncle after they come to his shop, and their "real uncle' since Felix is a fake, as Juni points out.
  • Machete Mayhem: Machete.
  • Mad Scientist: Two of them - Floop and Romero.
  • The Man Behind the Man: In the first film, Minion reveals himself to be this, having manipulated Floop as his Hypercompetent Sidekick.
  • Manchild: The apparent Big Bad of the first film, Floop.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Subverted. Carmen is attracted to Gary Giggles in the second movie, insisting that she could "change him", and her giving up on this is played as Character Development. Needless to say, shipping ensued anyway. Doesn't help that Gary immediately rushes to save her from a giant monkey robot in the third film.
  • Master of Disguise: Ingrid at the beginning of the first film describes how spies were this, and in the flashback she's shown to be changing wigs several times. Carmen and Juni manage to purchase new clothes while on the run, undergo an Adrenaline Makeover and hide from the villains for a while.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The Thumb-Thumb robots that serve Floop. Same goes for the robot children in the first film.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Romero's animals in the second film.
  • The Mole: Ms. Gradenko and, later on, Felix, though he was an unwilling case of it.
  • Mundane Solution: The Machete Elastic Wonder (a rubber band) in the second film.
    • Most of the second movie, since none of their normal gadgets worked.
  • Never Say "Die": Noticeably invoked in Ingrid's bedtime story in the first film; they use euphemisms such as "destroy", "take him out", and a finger gesture across the throat in place of the words "kill," or "die".
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Subverted in the third film; Valentin deliberately releases the Toymaker from his virtual prison just so he could personally forgive him for paralyzing him.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Ms. Gradenko shows the kids how to communicate with the Fooglies by playing their audio backwards; guess what Juni uses later.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Happens to the parents in the first movie.
  • Noodle Incident: In the third film, it's never explained why the OSS imprisoned the Toymaker in cyberspace (when Juni asks him, Donnagon just says, "who knows, it was years ago") or how he crippled Grandpa.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Seems to be a running theme at the OSS; the office belonging to the head of the agency being a desk sitting atop a high-rise platform which is only reachable by moving steps, all within the center of a large chasm.
    • The OSS lab in the third film is equally egregious, with dozens of "cubicles" jutting out from the walls for several stories upward with zero room to move or any practical way to get down. Even worse, they're not enclosed.
  • Not Disabled In VR: Grandpa Cortez - an elderly, retired spy using a wheelchair - joins Juni Cortez on the adventure in the virtual world, and they immediately come across a powerup that lets him stand on his feet for the first time in years. Unfortunately, he has to go back to using the wheelchair when their mission is over...
  • Numbered Sequels
  • Overly Long Spanish Name: Carmen's full name is Carmen Elizabeth Juanita Echo Sky Brava Cortez, and Juni's is Juni Rocket Racer Rebel Cortez. Both of which are significant jokes:
    • Rocket, Racer, and Rebel are the names of three of Rodriguez's sons.
    • Carmen's full name is the password to their parents' safe house.
  • Parents in Distress: The premise of the first movie.
  • Parent Service: The casting of the parents.
  • Pet the Dog: In the first film's flashback, Ingrid was prepared to take out Gregorio, while they were still rival spies, only he confronted her in the elevator, revealing without words that she was his target in turn. He then placed the photographs together, pressed the elevator button, and let her go. This led to their romance.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Alexandra wears a pink sweater and then a pink dress.
  • The Poorly Chosen One: In Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, a group of Beta-testers believe that Juni is "The Guy", a player believed to be the one to lead them to the prize. Just as they begin to have doubts about this, The Real Guy appears and takes the lead. Right after he opens the doorway to the fifth and final level, The Real Guy is struck by lightning which One-Hit Kills him instantly (in-spite of his 100 lives). Juni is then reinstated as The Guy shortly after.
  • Precision F-Strike: Subverted by a Last-Second Word Swap, once in each of the first two movies. Done again by Carmen in the fourth film when she, Marissa, Rebecca, Cecil, and Spy-Baby are cornered by Tick Tock's agents.
    Carmen: Oh, shit...take mushrooms.
  • Pregnant Badass: Marissa, in the beginning of the fourth film, big time. She keeps fighting the bad guys, even after she starts feeling contractions.
  • Properly Paranoid: The Cortezes force their kids to work out in a jungle gym each morning before school. This gives them the stamina to endure the first movie's events, which involve a lot of physical activities.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: When the Carmen and Juni robots first show up in the first movie, Carmen repeatedly tries to beat up the solid metal robot Juni with her bare hands. This does not end well. Robot-Juni eventually writes her off and walks away in disinterest after she knocks herself out with an attempted head-butt.
  • Quicksand Sucks: Marissa, Carmen, and Juni would've been smothered in The Timekeeper's special hourglass sands had Carmen not had her atomic lipstick on hand.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Invoked by Juni in the second film when he claims to know ballet to impress Alexandria at the President's ball. Hilarity Ensues when the two start dancing.
  • Relationship-Salvaging Disaster: While the Cortez family is a Quirky Household, they aren't necessarily on the best terms with each other: Gregorio thinks Juni is a disappointment, Carmen finds her little brother annoying, Juni takes refuge in Floop's show, and Carmen thinks her parents aren't cool and keeps skipping school. Not to mention that Machete is estranged from Gregorio and the kids by default. Due to the events of the first film, they call come to agree that family is the most important thing. Nearly getting killed by child robots will do that.
  • Reverse Polarity: The evil robot kids are turned good by inverting their binary code.
    • In the second film, Gerti disables the amusement park ride in the opening by reversing the polarity, justifying it by saying that the ride works using electromagnets.
  • Robot Buddy: Ralph, the Literal Spy Bug.
  • Sadistic Choice: Minion gets one near the end of the first movie, when he gets strapped in the Fooglie-creator; either he can activate it and wind up horribly disfigured, or he can not activate it and remain stuck in the basement, with no guarantee anyone will come back to help him. After he's left alone in the room, he laughs and activates it...because being a Fooglie doesn't actually incapacitate him in any way.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Demetra in the third film.
    • She's also not real.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Toymaker in the third movie.
  • Shoe Phone: The second movie includes an advanced watch that does everything except tell time, since "there was no room left for the clock". Needless to say, The Rival has a more advanced version of the same device, with a clock.
  • Sigil Spam: Most prominent in the second movie
  • Ship Tease: Especially in the second film. Carmen with Gary and Juni with Alexandra.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Juni starts to chant the One Ring poem when he reaches for a cursed necklace in the second movie.
    • In the outtakes, at one point he pulls it out, strokes it, and says, "My Precious."
    • Antonio Banderas fixing Juni's hair at the beginning of the second movie is probably a shout-out to him doing the same exact thing to his son in the film Four Rooms.
    • In the third film, after Juni asks why every game has lava in it. Francis corrects him, telling him that "there's no lava in Halo or Metroid it's molten magma."
    • Miss Gradenko is named after a song by The Police.
    • Juni's wrist countdown timer in Game Over greatly resembles the one Snake Plissken had in Escape from New York.
  • Spanner in the Works: Great job tossing your brother's tag in the trash, Carmen. You just single-handedly saved the world from the Armageddon device.
  • Spot the Thread: Juni is suspicious in the second movie when a party attendant offers him alcohol. He's underage, and obviously so. The alcohol turns out to be drugged.
  • The Stinger: The first movie has a very odd one; just a near-random panning shot of one of the hallways in Floop's castle. It's as though they wanted to put something there, but couldn't.
  • Stop Copying Me: Juni uses this twice, with voices to match.
  • Super Family Team
  • Teen Superspy: Or in this case, preteen superspies.
    • Though Carmen is a Teen by the third film.
  • Thermal Dissonance
  • Third Is 3D: Game Over.
  • Unfortunate Names: Gary and Gerti Giggles? Even those poor kids who were named after the ESPN network would point and laugh.
  • Unperson: Carmen considers her brother to be this at first in the fourth film. When he finally does show up, we find out exactly why... and it's not what you expect (i.e. he didn't pull a Face–Heel Turn; rather, it's a simple case of I Work Alone that never quite worked out for him).
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The citizens of San Diablo in the first film are just a little too nonchalant about two kids being chased around by masked, inhuman mooks around their heads, who them proceed to wreak havoc upon outside traffic. And that's to say nothing of their robotic doubles assaulting the two of them right in front of an entire park. One kid does scream that he wants the doubles' rocket shoes, but no one pays attention to him.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The Timekeeper to Tick Tock.
  • Villain Song: Floop gets one in the first film, written by Danny Elfman in his signature style. Subverted when it turns out he's not a villain at all.
  • Wacky Racing: Included in the third film.
  • Wedding Smashers: The parents' wedding as seen in a Flashback from the first movie.
  • Wham Line: In 3-D:
    Carmen: Juni, the Toymaker is the one who put Grandpa in a wheelchair.
  • White and Grey Morality: Almost none of the villains in the series stay evil.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Timekeeper.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Gary when Carmen turns on him
  • Writers Cannot do Math: In the third movie, the accident which caused Grandpa's paralysis is said to have happened 30 years ago. When talking to the Toy Maker, Grandpa says that his condition made him miss his daughter's birth. Even assuming Ingrid had her first child at 18, that places Carmen at 12 — far younger than she actually is.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: One he gets the Third Brain, Minion turns on a doubting Floop, who points out that none of his plans have worked. Minion then orders the Carmen and Juni doubles to lock Floop into the virtual room.

Alternative Title(s): Spy Kids 3 D Game Over