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Series / Deadly Games

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A short-lived hour long action show about a video game coming to life that aired on fledgling network UPN in 1995. Most notable for the involvement of Leonard Nimoy as an executive producer and Christopher Lloyd as the series' Big Bad, Jackal.

Recently-divorced physicist Gus Lloyd decides to take his mind off things by creating a video game in his spare time. In it, he is the hero "The Cold-Steel Kid"—a commando-type vigilante hero. Along with Love Interest "The Girl" (based off his ex-wife Lauren), he fights the forces of the evil Jackal, who are all based off people from Gus's life who have upset him.

Somehow, Gus's latest experiment causes the characters from the game to come to life, and they're planning on carrying out the schemes from the game. Now Gus, along with his best friend Peter and the reluctant Lauren (since "her" character is important to the game), have to find and stop his characters before they can carry out their missions.


  • Achilles' Heel: The villains are basically impervious to everything except a few, sometimes very specific, items, usually based on specific ways Gus felt wronged by the person the game villain's based on.
  • Big Bad: Jackal
  • Butt-Monkey: Gus, apparently, based off the sheer number of people Gus feels have wronged him in his life. Shots of his game notes and several scenes of the show reveal there were several dozen villains—a whole army—in his game that never got episodes because the show got cancelled.
    • Even more than that, consider that Gus made the game as a power fantasy for himself. But he's so insecure, he still made most of his tormentors invincible except for one or two specific ways they could be hurt. Plus, in most of the game footage we see, the Cold Steel Kid's losing.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Subverted. Jackal wears all white. Lampshaded when Gus mentions he was subverting the black-clad bad guy trope when designing Jackal. In the final level when Gus and Lauren are sucked into the computer game itself along with Jackal, his clothing turns red—indicating Gus meant for him to represent The Devil Himself.
  • The Danza: A bit of a reversed version, seeing as Christopher Lloyd plays Jordan Kenneth Lloyd as well.
  • Distressed Damsel: Lauren's video game alter-ego "The Girl". Not Lauren herself, though.
  • Enemy Mine: Gus and Jackal work together to defeat the villain Gus's practical joker friend Danny created.
  • Final Boss: The Jackal. It's openly stated that no matter what the heroes do to him, the Jackal is unstoppable until they can defeat all his minions.
  • The Game Come to Life: Another series about the video game that ceased to be... just a video game.
  • Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue": This show would be a perfect example of this trope if it wasn't so obscure. The whole concept of the show is the main character created a video game where he's the hero, his ex-wife is the love interest, and the villains are all people he knows and who he thinks wronged him.
  • Inspector Javert: A P.I. hired by Lauren's fiance after she disappears spends a few episodes following Gus around thinking he's up to something.
  • Kill It with Water: The very first bad-guy henchman "Killshot" had an aversion to water as his real-life model wasn't much of a swimmer. He's burned by it and even "dies" when falling into the ocean.
  • Mean Boss: One of the enemies, Metcalf (played by LeVar Burton) parodies one Gus had once. He fires (as in, literally incinerates) people for minor infractions at their jobs.
  • Monster of the Week: Every week there was a different henchman (played by a guest star).
  • Ms. Fanservice: Kathy Ireland's character, both in Gus's game and on the show.
  • New Media Are Evil: It was a TV show about a video game that came to life and killed people.
  • Noodle Incident: An early episode shows Jackal teaming up with a game villain who's apparently a sushi chef. We don't find out what Gus's problem with him was (the episode's about Gus and Peter figuring out how to just delete the game villains without having to go through all the rigamarole from their levels), but it must've been something strange.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: Gus, who has a PhD, in one episode has to point this out. In physics—particularly the study of Anti-Matter. Gus makes the point that simply because he has such a doctorate, does not mean he makes a lot of money. In fact, in his own words, "The university practically charges me to work there". Gus own father is a physicist—an especially successful one.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: The reason Jackal gives for saving Gus from a villain that isn't one of his—"The Practical Joker," who was created by Gus' friend as a gag.
  • Opening Narration: In every episode (except for the first one), we see a clip of the pilot where Gus explains the nature of the game and the dire situation that has developed.
  • Pac Man Fever: All the "game footage" shown is actually regular live-action footage. By comparison, what video games actually looked like in the mid '90s.
  • Practical Joke: One Villain of the Week (played by Brent Spiner) has this as his theme, complete with a killer joy buzzer.
  • Red Shirt: Every episode begins with a character (usually a level-headed voice of reason) getting killed by the henchman-of-the week. You know... just to set the mood.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: Lauren's new fiance'—goes by the name of Harry. As well as another boyfriend by the name of Chip.
  • Save The Girl Screw The World: When Lauren is accidentally dragged into the game, Gus recreates the accident that brought the characters to life. He rescues Lauren, but this also means bringing Jackal back to life.
  • Save the Princess: Part of the game viewers see includes "The Girl" in a dungeon wondering where the hero is. Her exact words as she's being held captive—"Kid, where are you?"
  • Shiny New Australia: Jackal offers Lauren a chance to rule New York when he takes over if she'll stop helping Gus. Characters wondering whether he meant the city or the state becomes a Running Gag in the episode.
  • The End... Or Is It?: After the bad-guy henchmen have are completely erased, Gus defeats The Jackal and the game is over. The computer screen in the empty lab then types away by itself, apparently opening a new program. Jackal is within the system operating the computer from within. We hear him utter "Tough luck kid..." and then cut to credits.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Shown off no sooner than the first scene, of the first episode. Gus is playing the game and manages to rescue the girl, but has a victory makeout session before they've actually gotten away. This means they're still in range when the villain throws an exploding football and blows them up. Peter even points out Gus had plenty of time to escape and maybe the kiss can wait until they're somewhere safe, which prompts Gus to tell him "You just don't get this game." Even though Peter's right and Gus dies a second time for the exact same reason right after.
  • The Trope Kid: The character is a boy-wonder military hero named "The Cold-Steel Kid." He's referred to by the characters of the video game as such. We see Gus himself got the moniker of "The Kid" from his own father.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Each of the near-invulnerable villains have key Kryponite-like weaknesses like water, sugar, ink, dirt, rubber, paint and soap.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: As mentioned below; Gus bases the Game Antagonists off those who he feels have wronged him in real life (such as his Mother-In-Law being portrayed as a literal Ice-Witch). In numerous Episodes, when the others learn who the inspiration behind each Antagonist is, they are quick to call Gus out for his pettiness.
    Lauren: I'm not the immature neurotic who took every halfway negative experience I ever had and turned it into snow bolt-throwing Godzilla movies!
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Jackal spends an awful lot of time talking to Gus and not killing him, especially since he's the only one who knows about Jackal's unusual nature and how to stop him and his minions. Maybe he's just not programmed that way.
  • Write Who You Know: invoked Every villain is based on someone who traumatized Gus in real life. Including Jackal. Gus based him on his father, whose initials are J.K.L.—on the Jackal's license plate and that of Gus' father, Jordan Kenneth Lloyd.