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Series / Atlantis

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A BBC1 series that began 28 September 2013 as a replacement for Merlin, created by Howard Overman of Misfits fame, and sharing some of the same production team from both.

Jason, a young man from the 21st century goes deep-sea diving in a submarines, trying to find out about his missing father, when he abruptly vanishes and re-emerges in a pre-sinking Atlantis in Ancient Greece. Quickly making friends with Pythagoras and Hercules through a series of events, they decide to become soldiers for hire to survive in the world Jason now finds himself in. Jason meanwhile, is told by an oracle that he is destined for greatness, and he is to save the city of Atlantis from threats in the future.

The series only lasted two seasons due to poor ratings, leaving the show on a cliffhanger.

This series contains examples of:

  • Accidental Hero: Jason killed the Minotaur because he had his sword out and the Minotaur charged at him, impaling itself on the blade.
  • Accidental Murder: Pythagoras accidentally killed his father by pushing him back, resulting in him cracking his head when he attacked his mother in a drunken rage, which his younger brother Arcas finds out in "The Furies", having previously believed him to be murdered.
  • Acrofatic: When Hercules flees from the Cult of Dionysus in the forest we see that for a man of his bulk he can run pretty damn fast!
    • Not to mention, he can leap improbably high when there's a bull charging at him.
  • Admiring the Abomination: The "Brazen Bull", which slow roasts people to death whilst converting their dying screams into the sound of a bellowing bull, is admired as a great technical piece of engineering by Pythagoras before he realises just exactly who they were planning to execute in it.
  • All Monks Know Kung-Fu: Well, all priestesses do, anyway. The Cult of Dionysus have some pretty sweet combat moves.
  • Alternate History Wank: Where to begin? Pythagoras, Hercules and Jason of the Argonauts all end up in Atlantis together. The labyrinth is just down the road, as are the Hours and Oedipus, for a start. Basically taking all of actual Greek History and any part of Classical Mythology you like and stuffing it all into Atlantis.
  • Annoying Arrows: Jason gets shot in the shoulder, casually pulls it out, and is still able to pull himself through a window by his arms. Downplayed in that he passes out from blood loss later.
    • Averted in all other cases, from Atlanta mowing down dozens of Scythians with her bow to Jason getting shot and being near fatally wounded in the Season Two Premier.
  • Arranged Marriage: Pasiphae has organised one between Ariadne and Heptarian. Ariadne, of course, isn't very happy about it.
  • Artifact of Doom: Pandora's Box, it whispers to people to open it. When they do, they get a face full of curse.
  • Artistic License – Sports: The episode "The Rules of Engagement" centers around a pankration competition, which is described as a fight between two men over one knife with no rules. Pankration was actually the Ancient Greek equivalent of mixed martial arts, combining boxing and wrestling.
  • Atlantis: The setting, obviously.
  • Bad Ass Boast: Jason to the High Priestess of Dionysus:
    Jason:You should fear me as they [Satyrs] do! I am Jason, slayer of the minotaur. ... I will slay you as I did the Earth Bull. I will tear down your temple and I will scatter your followers to the four winds!
  • Bad Ass Bookworm: Pythagoras. He is the one to rescue Jason from falling, and is the one who goes and grabs a sword to try to rescue him.
  • Balancing Death's Books: This is what the cure for Medusa would involve. Someone has to die to lift it.
  • Bald Mystic: Cassandra, the new oracle who informs the protagonists of their fate through visions, is a young bald woman.
  • Big Bad: Pasiphae
  • Bloodless Carnage: A man is seen run down by a bull, we cut to a Gory Discretion Shot, then cut back to his limp but otherwise fine body being loaded onto a stretcher instead of a red smear.
    • Averted in "A New Dawn". The battle's not covered in blood, but those injured bleed a lot.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Hercules is very much a bombastic drunk.
  • Broke Episode: "Hunger Pangs", where the shortage of cash also leads to stealing food and a werewolf curse.
  • Camping a Crapper: When planning to assassinate the queen Hercules suggest this as a plan, Jason doesn't go for it.
  • Cassandra Truth: Subverted. They have a Cassandra, but her words are taken very seriously.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Jason, when Circe invades his dreams to remind him of their bargain.
  • City Guards: Jason's first real encounter with the citizens of Atlantis is with them and they shoot him in the arm with an arrow. To be fair to them, Jason had just stolen some clothes and accidentally trashed a street market when he knocks over the Disaster Dominoes. That was still no excuse for knocking over Pythagoras's table and chairs just to show who was boss though.
  • The Chosen One: Jason is this, according to the Oracle. Just what he is chosen for she is rather vague on though.
  • Classical Mythology: Just as Merlin took a pick and mix approach to Arthurian mythology, Atlantis is taking the same approach to Classical Mythology and history.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: In series 1 Ariadne has a brother who was heir to the throne before his stepmother had him exiled. Come series 2, Ariadne is The High Queen without any sign or mention of her brother, who technically came first in the succession.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Several characters pull off multiple betrayals at the drop of a hat.
    • Before the series even began, Pasiphae betrayed Circe by scarring her face and ruining her life. She betrayed Aeson by helping Minos usurp the throne. She betrayed Prince Therus and Minos by framing Therus for trying to usurp the throne, and she betrayed Minos again by poisoning him.
    • Cilix betrayed Aeson by helping Pasiphae and Minos usurp the throne. Then he betrays Ariadne by acting as Paisphae's mole. When Pasiphae starts to lose allies, Cilix immediately makes plans to seize power for himself, putting these plans into action before he's even had word of Pasiphae's death.
    • The guards of Atlantis react to the constantly changing rulers by taking orders from whoever appears to be in charge, even if that person was attacking Atlantis only a few episodes ago or has no real claim to the throne. This comes to a climax in the series finale, where the guards switch allegiance from Pasiphae, to Cilix, to Jason, to Pasiphae again within the span of just a couple days.
  • Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears: In episode 11 of series 1, Hercules covers Pythagoras's eyes when Jason comes into the house naked.
  • Creepy Crows: Crows are apparently the messengers of the underworld, and in "Pandora's Box" their crowing is the signal for Pythagoras to resuscitate Jason and Hercules (who had gone to the Underworld to retrieve the titular artifact)
  • Crossing the Desert: The gang are hired to provide bodyguard duties on a trip to Helios, a city across the desert, plenty of howling wind, desert bandits, and sand everywhere were all in evidence. Also present were vengeance seeking dust devils.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: What Pasiphae had in mind for Ariadne in the season one finale, shoved inside a metal bull, then the metal heated to slowly roast her alive.
  • Curse: It is a Foregone Conclusion that Medusa will end up with one of these, it turns out that it is The Punishment for opening Pandora's Box.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: The second season ends with Pasiphae finally defeated, and Jason and Ariadne about to rule as King and Queen of Atlantis, when suddenly Pasiphae comes Back from the Dead, reconquers Atlantis immediately, and our heroes are once again forced to flee for their lives and find a new way to defeat Pasiphae. Made worse by the fact that the show was cancelled after this Cliffhanger.
  • Disappeared Dad: Jason's dad vanished in a freak underwater surveying accident. Trying to discover what happened is what kicked off the plot.
  • Doing Research: Pythagoras' duty in most episodes. His research montage is practically a stock trope in the show.
  • Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud: The Furies appear as dust devils in the desert, but as long as you don't get caught in the funnel you'll survive. Hercules even manages to survive getting sucked in, albeit barely.
  • Dramatic Thunder: At the end of "Pandora's Box" when Jason challenges the Gods to "Do your worst", the thunder is there to basically say "challenge accepted".
  • Drinking on Duty: How Hercules manages to let the warehouse full of Frankincense get stolen while he was performing guard duty.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: After being unable to cure Medusa, Hercules basically retreats inside a flagon of ale. Until Jason gets turned into a Werewolf that is, then He's Back!.
  • Easily Forgiven: Only an episode after Hercules used a Love Potion on Medusa which almost killed her, she forgives him after seeing his better qualities tending to an injured Jason.
  • Enemy Mine: Jason and Medea end up having to team up when both end up stuck in the Necropolis together
  • Exact Eavesdropping: How Hercules finds out that Pythagoras actually does have a cure for Medusa, when Pythagoras explains to Atalanta exactly how fatal the cure would be to Hercules himself.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: The series playing loose with real history and Classical Mythology is justified as being set in an Alternate Universe, with events and details bleeding through into "our" world as half-remembered myths.
  • Fat and Skinny: The co-stars Pythagoras and Hercules. Pythagoras is the skinny brainy one and Hercules is the fat boisterous one.
  • Flirty Step Siblings: Jason and Ariadne, since Pasiphae, who is married to Ariadne's father Minos, is Jason's mother, though they don't know it yet.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Due to the Oracle claiming that Atlantis exists as half-remembered myths in "our" world, it's implied that the final fate of the city will be to end up under the waves.
    • In Episode 2, Medusa ends up being cursed after saving Jason. Though the effects have yet to become apparent, the Oracle admits to Jason that her fate is inescapable. This does indeed come to pass in Episode 9.
    • In Episode 4, they rescue a baby foretold to kill his father and marry his mother. He's later dubbed Oedipus.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    Pythagoras: You shall stay with us.
    Jason: But what about Hercules?
    Pythagoras: He's usually so drunk when he returns from the tavern, he won't even notice you're there.
    cut to:
    Hercules: I don't wish to be rude, but what in the name of the gods is he still doing here?
  • Good Princess, Evil Queen: In the first season, it's Ariadne (the strong-willed heiress to the Atlantean throne) vs. her Wicked Stepmother, the Vain Sorceress Pasiphae. Inverted in season 2, when Ariadne is crowned Queen, Pasiphae is deposed, and her antagonistic new apprentice is Medea, the princess of Colchis.
  • Gorgeous Gorgon: After being transformed, Medusa gains snake hair and the ability to turn people into stone, but her face and body remain pretty much the same.
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear: At one point Jason is forced to use a handy chicken to preserve his modesty, or in other words he ran around with his cock out.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: In the third episode, this is Palos's response when Cyrus mentions he has seen Elpis stealing a lock of Jason's hair. Needless to say, the conversation doesn't end well for Cyrus.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Ramos, the King's bodyguard, helps Jason and the guys rescue Ariadne in the finale. He stays behind to cover their escape, managing to kill several guards and still stand after being wounded, but is ultimately killed by Heptarian.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Pythagoras and Hercules were this before Jason came along.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: After the Pankration when Ariadne visits Jason, Hercules says that he and Pythagoras need to go fetch some bees in order to leave them alone. As they're walking off, Pythagoras immediately asks him why bees, and he admits it was the only thing he could think of
  • Instant Expert: Jason at Le Parkour, but not at swordfighting. This leads to the logical conclusion.
  • Internal Reveal: Hercules learns that Pasiphae is Jason's mother in the season 2 premiere, but the Oracle swears him to secrecy.
  • In the Past, Everyone Will Be Famous: In the pilot episode, Jason randomly falls through a roof into a house. Whose house is it? Why, Hercules and Pythagoras, who else would it be?
  • It Has Been an Honor: When they believe facing certain death Hercules tells Pythagoras he was a true friend. Pythagoras tells Hercules that he was an awful friend, but that he'd rather die beside him than with anyone else. Then Pythagoras hugs him tightly.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Hercules. When push comes to shove, he will step up and save lives even if he's risking his own. However he is also a womanising, selfish, drunk who is just as happy to drop his friends in petty trouble to save his own skin too.
  • Killed Off for Real: Ramos is killed by Heptarian in the finale, sacrificing himself to cover Ariadne's escape. Heptarian is later killed by Jason in a showdown.
  • Kissing Cousins: Jason and Medea, by virtue of Pasiphae being Jason's mother and Medea's aunt.
  • Le Parkour: Jason.
  • Let Them Die Happy: Demetria's dying father asks if his daughter is happy and is told that she has gone to another city to marry her true love. Sadly it isn't true, she drank poison and killed herself due to being part of cult.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Hercules and Pythagoras tend to bicker back and forth like this.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Jason about Ariadne. Pythagoras and Hercules call him out on it.
  • Love Potion: Hercules is so insecure in his relationship with Medusa that he resorts to one of these. It turns out to be more a poison potion though thanks to some liberal mis-interpretation of his wish.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: "Touched by the Gods Part 2" introduces Jason's father, who knows Pasiphae. He reveals to her that Jason is her son, though Jason himself is unaware of this as of the series' end.
    • She reveals this to Jason in "The Gorgon's Gaze", when the latter is about to kill her.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Jason
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Having planned for Ariadne to marry Heptarian, Pasiphae is very eager to see Jason out of the way due to Ariadne's obvious interest in him.
  • Mysterious Animal Senses: In "Hunger Pangs" Jason gains these, heightened aggression, smell, and hearing.
  • Naked on Arrival: How Jason finds himself on arrival in Atlantis.
  • Nature Hero: Atalanta, who was abandoned in the forest as a child and apparently raised by the goddess Artemis.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: After fighting their way through a band of soldiers, the trio let an unarmed, obviously frightened man escape. The man later comes back and shoots Jason near fatally. Hercules does not make the same mistake twice.
    • The heroes see a young man attacked by bandits and come to his rescue. The man turns out to be a mole sent by Pasiphae to kill Ariadne.
    • Jason's kindness to Medea, including saving her life from the undead, stopping the others killing her and freeing her after she proved to be telling the truth resulted in Medea stabbing Ariadne the moment she was free.
    • Jason agrees to show mercy to soldiers who carried out Pasiphae's acts of brutality on the grounds that they were Just Following Orders. When Pasiphae returns, the palace guards ally with her again and put her back in power.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • In the episode "The Price of Hope" Pythagoras mentions the time Hercules set fire to his bed, and the time he dangled him head first off the balcony.
    • In "Hunger Pangs" When Jason says he woke up naked in a goat pen, all Hercules can say is "it happens". Pythagoras is then surprised that it's never happened to Jason before, at which even Hercules looks at him oddly.
    • in the penultimate episode, Hercules begins to tell a funny story as to how he stole the table the trio have in their common room, but all he says is that it used to be owned by a man who loved sheep more than any other person Hercules had ever met before he decides it isn't the right time.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Priests and curse victims of Hecate get turned into wolves during the night, as Jason finds out when he steals food from her shrine. The cure is some sort of silver solution. According to Pythagoras they are also vulnerable to wolfsbane, mountain ash and huge carved timber beams being dropped on them.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: They must be stabbed through the heart to kill them, as opposed to the usual decapitation. They also require the spell that rose them to physically exist (have symbols written down or carved in stone) and will all die if that's destroyed.
  • Plucky Girl: Medusa is an older version. When we meet her, she's been keeping up a facade of being brainwashed for weeks, and manages to save Hercules' life through some quick thinking. As you'd expect, this goes downhill when she becomes a gorgon.
  • Related Differently in the Adaptation: In the original myths, Pasiphae was Ariadne's mother rather than her stepmother. By making Pasiphae the mother of Jason, who is the Theseus stand-in here, the series also switches which out of Ariadne and Theseus she is the mother to and which the mother-in-law.
  • Religion of Evil: The Cult of Dionysus is this. They kidnap potential followers, brainwash them with lots of Ominous Greek Chanting, and then indulge in some Human Sacrifice to "Satyrs" which are basically Trolls by another name.
  • The Queen's Latin: Everyone in the ancient world has a distinct UK accent. Particularly odd when you consider that Jason is from modern times and presumably did not go around conversing in ancient Greek before being lost in mythology world. His behavior is considered odd, but never his accent.
  • Shirtless Scene: Jason and another slave in "A Boy of No Consequence" always face the bulls without a shirt on.
  • The Smart Guy: Pythagoras. The jury is out as to whether he is the Pythagoras, but he is a mathematician and a scholar.
  • Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter: The end of "Pandora's Box" has Jason cursing out the Oracle and the Gods, telling them to "Do your worst". Cue ominous thunder.
  • Tap on the Head: After Jason fails to convince Demetria to come with them and break her brainwashing, Hercules whacks her on the head with a Frying Pan of Doom and carries her off.
  • Taken for Granite: After Medusa's curse from episode 2 is activated the gang wonder why there are so many statues in the street, then Jason realises what has happened.
  • Tempting Fate: In 'Pandora's Box', just before Medusa flees from Kyros and his goons, Hercules assures her that they will never be parted again. Then Medusa finds Pandora's Box back at the house...
  • Time Skip: Between the end of "Pandora's Box" and "The Price of Hope" several months seem to have passed. Medusa has managed to disappear completely, and Pythagoras has done a lot of serious (although sadly futile) research.
  • To Hell and Back: In "Pandora's Box" Jason and Hercules must travel into the depths of Hades and Tartarus to obtain the Box in question. They even get help from a friend who had died previously.
  • Tone Shift: Series two has had a rather drastic retool in terms of its tone. It has become a lot darker, moved to arc-based plots, and rather more gruesome in its injuries dispensed.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: Jason's impulsive decision to steal meat off an altar (in a verse where he knows the Gods are real, and vengeful) leads to him suffering a werewolf curse.
  • Translation Convention: For convenience's sake, everyone in this ancient world of mythology speaks perfect English.
  • Trapped in Another World: Jason has lived in our world his entire life, and is now in Atlantis, brought by unknown means. Although, according to the Oracle, he was born in Atlantis. Also, the fact that our world exists is never plot-relevant after the pilot and is hardly ever mentioned, merely serving as a reason for Jason to be a Naïve Newcomer.
  • True Companions: Jason, Hercules and Pythagoras. Pythagoras goes as far as saying they are like family and he loves them.
  • Unrelated in the Adaptation: The Minotaur was Pasiphae's son and Ariadne's maternal half-brother in the original myths, whereas here he's an unrelated cursed man.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: The soothsayer gives some very vague and cryptic warnings of doom and oncoming evil.
    • Lampshaded by Hercules in "Touched by the Gods pt2.
    Hercules:"That's the trouble with Oracles, they only ever tell you half the story".
  • We Help the Helpless: Jason, Hercules, and Pythagoras are pretty much heroes for hire after defeating the minotaur.
  • We Need a Distraction: In "Hunger Pangs" Pythagoras and Hercules need a distractions for the guards so they can talk with Princess Ariadne. The solution? Pythagoras runs around with his cloak on fire and yelling for help.
  • Wham Episode: The climax of "Pandora's Box" has Medusa opening the titular box which turns her into the monster she's destined to become, which Jason knows from myth.
    • The Series 1 finale, "Touched by the Gods Part 2", not only introduces Jason's father but also reveals that Pasiphae is Jason's mother.
      • Wham Line: From the season one finale Aeson the Leper to Pasiphae, who is gloating over Jason's unconscious body, "He is our son". Cue everything crashing to a halt and Pasiphae having a mental blue screen moment as she tries to process it.
  • Who Would Be Stupid Enough?: On breaking into the cult of Dionysus temple:
    Jason: I can't see any guards.
    Pythagoras: They don't need guards because no one would be stupid enough to go in there.
    Hercules: Speak for yourself! [Charges in].
  • Wolves Always Howl at the Moon: When Jason is turned into a werewolf in "Hunger Pangs" he indulges in some of this. Using a rooftop instead of a cliff.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Both Jason and Hercules have no qualms about punching, stabbing, or bashing a woman on the head with Frying Pan of Doom when they go up against a cult of evil priestesses.
  • Zombie Infectee: Eurydice gets bitten on the arm by one of the zombies that Pasiphae raised and tries to conceal it from the rest.