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Series / Fantasy Island

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"Smiles, everyone! Smiles!"

"Da plane! Da plane!"

One of Aaron Spelling's biggest hits, the original Fantasy Island was introduced to viewers via two made-for-TV Pilot Movies in 1977. Those went on to spawn a highly popular series that ran on ABC from 1978 to 1984. Ricardo Montalbán starred as Mr. Roarke, the mysterious, charming, white-suited figure who ran the eponymous island. Assisting Mr. Roarke was his earnest, vertically (and verbally) challenged sidekick, Tattoo (played by Hervé Villechaize, also famous for playing Nick Nack), who kicked off every episode by running up to the island's bell tower, ringing the bell and loudly exclaiming "Da plane! Da plane!"

The plane he was talking about, of course, was the one that was delivering new arrivals to the island, each of whom had lain down a sizable sum of money to have his or her personal fantasies fulfilled. Mr. Roarke would take it upon himself to greet every guest as they stepped onto the island and then describe to Tattoo in an As You Know fashion, the nature of their fantasy request. Of course, being a supernaturally-powered Trickster Mentor, Mr. Roarke very rarely allowed his guests' fantasies to play out in the way they expected them to. And quite often the fantasies themselves were used to teach each guest An Aesop about some problem in their life — or simply to Be Careful What You Wish For. But rather often, everybody just had a good time, even if it wasn't what they were expecting.

The source of Mr. Roarke's strange powers and the reason behind his island's existence are never really revealed, although it is implied that he is a supernatural force for Good. (Perhaps even one of the Powers That Be. At one point, he battles The Devil, played to creepy perfection by Roddy McDowall, who is portrayed as a dapper foil for Mr. Roarke himself, dressed like a photographic negative of Roarke.)

In 1998, ABC hosted a Fantasy Island revival series that put Malcolm McDowell into the role of Mr. Roarke. McDowell's take on the character was a bit darker, as was the tone of the series. Gone were Tattoo and his antics. Instead, Mr. Roarke had a team of assistants, most of whom were compelled to serve on the island as a form of metaphysical punishment for their past sins. One of the assistants was a beautiful shape-shifting woman named Ariel (a Shout-Out to a character of the same name in The Tempest.) She was Mr. Roarke's right-hand woman and a source for much of the series' Fanservice. Mr. Roarke also employed an elderly couple as travel agents, who would book the fantasies at the beginning of each show. As mentioned before, McDowell's take on the Mr. Roarke character was a bit on the dark side, and he seemed to take more delight in watching the guests squirm under his treatment, but he was basically a decent fellow/omnipotent Trickster Being, and most guests came away better for their experiences. Of course, it was canceled after only half a season. This version is a little tricky to find, Syfy Channel reran it a bit before it was seemingly lost to the ether. Luckily you can now catch this version in its entirety on Tubi.

A horror movie based on the series was released February 14, 2020, with Michael Peña playing Mr. Roarke.

A revival/sequel series with family members of the original leads as main characters started airing on FOX on August 10, 2021.

This series provides examples of:

  • Absent-Minded Professor: In "The Inventor", an AMP and his lab assistant (Arte Johnson and Marcia Wallace) arrive on the island to perfect a formula .... which has already blown up eight separate labs.
  • Actor Allusion: Mr. Roarke is named after Montalban's most famous American film rolenote , Jose O'Rourke in Neptune's Daughter.
  • An Aesop: The guests typically get one apiece.
  • And You Thought It Was a Game: Countless times, someone finds themselves in what they think is an elaborate game from WWII to Camelot and more...only to realize they really have gone back in time and/or surrounded by real thugs with real deadly weapons. Yet so often, just when it looks like they're meeting their doom, Roarke whisks them back to the present and brushes off their "was it real?" questions with a simple "What do you believe?"
  • As Himself: Tattoo arranges for Don Ho to sing at Mr. Roarke's wedding, and a sixth season episode finds Mickey Gilley playing himself pre fame looking for stardom and getting his real-life club Gilley's.
    • During the second season, a post-Raiders Freddy Weller – by now a big country star – performed his then-current single – what else – "Fantasy Island." His was just a performance appearance rather than a story built around him.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: A great one when Tattoo discovers a guest is a supposedly dead rock star (Paul Williams) who's on the run after witnessing a mob murder.
    Tattoo: Does he have a fantasy, Boss?
    Roarke: Does he have a...The man wishes to stay alive, Tattoo!
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Employed many times throughout the series.
  • Benevolent Mage Ruler: Played with. Mr. Roarke is the Chief Magistrate of the island (aka Chief Justice) but several episodes show an ordinary police force under him. Some episodes mention an elected island council. Once there's an election for the position of Honorary Lord Mayor, which Mr. Roarke wins in a unanimous vote against Tattoo. In spite of Mr. Roarke's powers (or maybe because of them), the various permanent residents seem to live in a free and democratic country.
  • Berserk Button: While he could be calm most of the time, Roarke could hit his limit with some guests.
    • "A Genie Named Joe" has a genie fulfilling his owner's complaint on it being too warm by covering the entire island in snow. Roarke even slaps his desk while ranting about guests complaining about suffering frostbite.
    • Woe to anyone who can't pay the island's hotel/fantasy bill.
    • Sometimes subverted as it appears as if Roarke is going wild but really part of his scheme to help the guest out.
  • Bland-Name Product: An actress lists among her credits a movie called The Towering Disaster.
  • The Boxing Episode: In an episode titled "The Boxer", a boxer (Ben Murphy) arrives on Fantasy Island to clobber an opponent who beat him in the past.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "Smiles, everyone! Smiles!" "The plane, the plane!"
    • Dunkin' Donuts once had a commercial where Tattoo runs into a donut shop and exclaims "The plain, the plain! Nonono, the chocolate, the chocolate! Nonono, the Boston cream..."
  • Crossover: Apparently among Mr. Roarke's magical, mystical abilities is the power to Cross Over with other Aaron Spelling series.
  • Denser and Wackier: The first season is rather grounded, with simple fantasies that a rich man like Roarke could pull off with actors and special effect trickery. Starting with the second, it's more obvious these people are truly being thrown back in time or having some other fantastic experience. By the later years, the writers don't even bother hiding that Roarke is some sort of magical being who is a peer to other magical beings (mermaids, genies, angels, even the Devil himself), and no one blinks at all the blatantly supernatural shenanigans.
  • Dramatic Irony: Happens a few times as the customer realizes their fantasy has the complete opposite effect they thought it would.
    • The revival has a man trying to read his wife's mind to see if she's a gold-digger and mistakes her thoughts on a murder mystery book she's thinking up as a plot to kill him. She's outraged to learn what he did and leaves him.
    Roarke: Ironic, isn't it? In trying to prove your wife's love for you, you simply lost it.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Invoked in the 1998 revival by Roarke told a man's fantasy is to be able to read his wife's mind.
    Roarke: I've been in the fantasy business for quite a few years and some requests still make my skin crawl.
  • Every Episode Ending: Every episode ends with the guests returning home, with their fantasies fulfilled.
  • Evil Twin: In "Look Alikes", a guest (Ken Berry) wishes to meet his non-related twin (also Ken Berry).
  • Exact Words: More than one guest discovers that Roarke has a unique way of interpreting their wishes...
    • A man wanted to live in the "Real West," meaning the romanticized Old West of movies and TV shows. He's thrown to find himself in a modern setting as Roarke points out this is the "real" West.
    • The revival series has a man given his wish to fully understand what women are being turned into one.
    • A somewhat darker example in the 1998 revival as a guy whose entire life is whining Never My Fault rants on how he just wants a life without any Roarke regresses him into an infant with a sardonic "better luck this time."
  • Faking the Dead: The first Pilot movie has a businesswoman curious about what would happen to her company if she were to perish. Roarke puts out the story she died in a plane crash while the woman watches her funeral disguised as a mute maid. It doesn't take the woman long to realize just what all her "friends" really thought about her...
  • Fanservice: Lots and lots of hot guys and pretty girls, all in swimwear/skimpy clothing. Also, Mr. Roarke had a couple of shirtless scenes. Believe it or not, Ricardo Montalbán was seriously built in Real Life. Remember Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan? Yeah. That was allll him, baby!
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Many guests are sent back in time — and sometimes figures such as King Arthur, Don Juan and Jack the Ripper ended up in the 70s.
  • A Fool for a Client: "Innocent" featured this in the 1998 revival: A lawyer wished to represent "one innocent client" rather than his usual criminal scumbag. He's arrested promptly for the murder of one of his guilty clients and made to represent himself. Played with that he doesn't entirely represent himself, he has Roarke acting as co-council. But Roarke plays the role of a laughably incompetent attorney, as he's sandbagging the case to teach Sam a lesson. (Sam had previously failed to properly defend another innocent client and Roarke wanted him to own up to his mistake.)
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Original series, season 7, episode 2 "The Big Switch" finds a bickering couple (Vic Tayback and Katherine Helmond) swapping bodies for the weekend. In the 2021 series, season 1, episode 2 "His and Hers", a couple (Dave and Odette Annable)looking for an adventure to rekindle their romance have their bodies swapped.
  • Functional Magic: After a few episodes that tried to play the fantasies straight as elaborate set-pieces and full-immersion games run somewhere on the island, the writers just gave up and made everything magical.
  • The Gambling Addict: One episode of the original show had one of these visiting the island, appropriately enough after winning his plane ticket in a lucky streak. His fantasy, of course, is to never lose any bet and he spends his trip as the world's luckiest man. Normally you'd expect his lesson to be Victory Is Boring, but he openly relishes his unstoppable winning streak. Eventually his son comes to visit the island, and lesson turns out to be that his gambling addiction has destroyed his relationship with his family, and he needs to walk away if he wants to repair it.
  • Gender Bender: Original series, season 7, episode 2 "The Big Switch" finds a bickering couple (Vic Tayback and Katherine Helmond) swapping bodies for the weekend. In the 1998 series, episode 6 "Estrogen", Stan wants more insight into women, so Rourke transforms him into one. In the 2021 series, season 1, episode 2 "His and Hers", a couple (Dave and Odette Annable), are looking for an adventure to rekindle their romance, and their bodies are swapped.
  • Genie in a Bottle: "A Genie Named Joe" has a woman searching for the perfect man accidentally freeing a genie from his bottle he's been stuck in for 2000 years ("that thing was filled with 150 proof mead! I was drunk for the first five hundred years and had a hangover for the next two hundred!") Her first two wishes for riches and fame don't go well with the genie at her side, doing his best to help out. Naturally, the woman realizes he's the perfect man for her and uses her last wish to make him mortal so they can be together.
  • Genre Anthology: A hybrid of the anthology and ongoing series formats: most stories were solely about the guest stars, with Roarke mostly just appearing to grant their wish and provide exposition, though he and Tattoo would occasionally have their own stories.
  • Guile Hero: Mr. Roarke, and how.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Whenever Roddy McDowell drops in as the Devil, he and Ricardo Montalban clearly have a blast playing off each other.
  • Hand Wave: The explanation for just about anything that Roarke does.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: "Voodoo" shows a crafty Caribbean man, surrounded by lit candles, using a rope to control a snake. He makes the snake menace a white woman who might inherit the island. Actual Vodou practitioners often view snakes as benevolent protectors,[1] and venerate the snake spirit Damballa.
  • Humanity Ensues "The Mermaid Returns" has Princess Nyah granted the fantasy to become human in an attempt to understand love. From getting used to legs to walking around naked is one thing but given her selfish attitude (and the entire "luring men to their deaths" part), it's little wonder she elects to return to the sea.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game:
    • In the Pilot episode, believe it or not, the guest's fantasy is to engage in this. Naturally, Roarke makes him regret this fantasy.
    • Another episode has a guest trying to hunt Roarke himself.
  • I Choose to Stay: Occasionally guests would wind up so enlightened by their fantasies that their past lives appeared empty or vapid by comparison, and in these cases Mr. Roarke would allow them to become "permanent residents of Fantasy Island." One episode in Season 3 actually focused entirely on the after-effects of one such case; a lawyer whose client and best friend had chosen to stay on Fantasy Island after falling in love with the damsel in his Errol-Flynn-type Swashbuckling fantasy. The lawyer spent some time in 17th Century London trying to convince him to change his mind, but eventually returned after seeing his best friend was content.
  • Inexplicably Awesome: Mr. Roarke was very much this, at least at first. As the series went on more hints were dropped about how he got his powers, and while the audience never gets a complete picture, it's clear he's more than just a wealthy guy in a white suit.
  • Island of Mystery: Well, it's not Fantasy Peninsula. But the basic premise is a mysterious tropical island exists where a strange man can magically carry out any fantasy he deigns to.
  • Kids Shouldn't Watch Horror Films: In "Instant Fastasy", Two kids were watching a horror movie on TV while Laurie left for the beach.
  • Knew It All Along: Scores of guests think they're hiding the real purpose of their fantasy or a secret but of course, Rourke knew before they even stepped off the plane and tailored the fantasy for them.
  • Ladykiller in Love: While there were a few female guests on the island who would flirt with Roarke (who would only respond with a polite smile whilst ignoring their advances), it becomes a massive surprise when in "The Strongest Man Alive", he falls in love with a widowed guest for real. Whenever he's not dealing with the other guests, he spends all his free time with her, and bonding with the lady's son. They even go as far as wanting to remain together, but all falls apart when her humanitarian work in India forces her to leave the island. Roarke spends the final moments of the episode angsting over her departure. She returns in "The Wedding" so she and Roarke can get married shortly before she dies of cancer.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: In early seasons it was just about people fulfilling their fantasies, albeit with some Fridge Logic about how Mr. Roarke managed to pull some of it off. By the final season the show was dropping some pretty heavy hints that Roarke was a Fallen Angel cast out of Heaven for his pride and that the island was a kind of purgatory.
  • Limited Wardrobe: In the original series, Mr. Roarke never deviated from his white suit, nor did Tattoo when he was on duty. The revival series tried to distance itself from its predecessor and emphasize its Darker and Edgier nature by putting Mr. Roarke in a black suit. He also orders all his white suits burned.
  • Little People Are Surreal: Averted with Tattoo. While Mr. Roarke was mysterious and hinted to be magical, Tattoo was the more straightforward and relatably human character.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • A classic episode has a woman selling her soul to the Devil to save her dying husband. The Devil says he'll let it go if she can find a very rare living flower on the island. She does so and brings it to him...only for it to wilt in his hands as he smirks "nothing lives when I'm around."
    • In a showdown, Roarke offers the souls of himself, the woman and her husband, three souls total with the Devil agreeing. But then Roarke asks "what about the soul of her unborn child," the Devil realizes that by the terms of the agreement, taking an extra soul violates rules even he dare not cross and thus forced to let all three go.
    • The Devil shows up again and tricks Julie into selling her soul to him so he can get Roarke to offer his in return. It looks like Roarke will let Julie go...until it turns out she signed her soul to Roarke. And that contract is legally signed and notarized so each owns half her soul. Roarke offers his own soul in exchange for the Devil to give up his claim on Julie and make Roarke run Fantasy Island for people to indulge in sin. At which point, Julie reveals Roarke sold his soul to her and too late, the Devil realizes the time limit for claiming either soul is passed.
    • A pickpocket is about to be arrested by an NYC detective and his daughter sent to foster care. But Roarke tells the cop that the local magistrate has ruled the guy has to stay on the "parole" on the farm area the two had been hiding at. At first upset, the detective realizes this is just what the pair want to do with their lives and just smiles before leaving.
  • The Matchmaker: Often enough, one of Mr. Roarke's goal in setting up a fantasy seems to have been to allow a man and a woman to find true love. Leads to a Happily Ever After as a man and woman go off on "da plane" together.
  • Meta Casting: Susan Lucci as a Soap Opera actress in "Queen of the Soap Operas", Gene Rayburn as Game Show host Bob Barkley who wants a chance to be a contestant in "The Quiz-Masters", and Barbi Benton as a Centerfold for Rooster Magazine who wants to treat men like sex objects in "Playgirl".
  • Mr. Exposition: Mr Roarke, explaining the guests' backstories to Tattoo.
  • Mister Seahorse: In the 1990s revival series, the episode "Heroes" revolves around a man and his wife coming to the island; the man has three daughters and dearly wants a son... but he finds to his shock and horror that it's his wife who paid for the island, so her fantasy is the one that's granted, and he gets made pregnant, complete with giving birth at the episode's end — for added irony, to a fourth daughter. As per usual for the series' moral tone, the whole episode is mostly about the man learning to better respect and appreciate his wife for what she went through during pregnancy, as shown by how he is perfectly content with his final daughter... but it also takes the unusual step of teaching the woman a moral lesson, namely that it's not exactly a picnic being the "expectant father" either, even if it's not as physically stressful as carrying the baby.
  • Murderous Mannequin: The fantasy at the core of "House of Dolls" belongs to the window dresser Francis Elkins. He fancies the mannequin Courtney and wants her to be alive. Roarke invokes the myth of Pygmalion and gives Francis a talisman of Aphrodite to channel the goddess's life-granting power. Courtney's love matches Francis's, but she is woefully naive of the human experience. Among others, she tells other guests that she was born at Bloomingdale's, that she's six years old, and makes it sound like she has a disconcertingly active sex life. At a fashion show on the island, she finds three friends of hers on display: Mindy, Sally, and Sybil. Courtney uses the talisman to bring her friends to life too. Francis takes care of the lot of them, earning their affection when he promises he'll take them to his next job and not let them be thrown out in favor of the new, faceless models. Soon enough, the weekend ends and the mannequins revert to a lifeless state. Francis is happy to have had even a short time with Courtney, and he's even happier when Roarke introduces him to Ms. Wilson, ostensibly the woman Courtney's form was modeled after.
  • My Grandson, Myself: A woman who wants to do a biography of a legendary silent movie star goes to a mansion on the island to run into the man's grandson, who's the spitting image of him. She falls in love with him...unaware he is the silent movie star who made a pact with the god Pan to be eternally young while his portrait ages like Dorian Gray. He also turns out to be a selfish monster who's ready to sacrifice her to ensure the magic continues. In the end Roarke saves the woman by burning the portrait, causing the man to instantly take on its ancient appearance before dying.
  • Mysterious Past: Roarke's full past was never revealed, but we know he's several centuries old, counts Camelot's Merlin as 'a dear old friend', that he can be killed if he willingly suspends his powers, and that The Devil wants his soul very badly. Fan theories are that he's either an angel or a man granted powers by a God to help people by granting their wishes.
  • Never Suicide: "The Seance" has a woman who wants to contact her twin brother, who threw himself off a bridge. He was actually the victim of an Inheritance Murder by their cousin.
  • Noodle Incident: Often, during the Julie episodes, she'll pop up to explain Tattoo is busy with a "minor" issue with another fantasy (such as how the "horse" from a Cinderella themed one, turned back to mice and got loose).
    • It can be flipped with Tattoo noting Julie having her own issues and, say, a half-invisible figure will walk by.
  • Nostalgia Filter: A regular occurrence as a guest wants to live in a period they've romanticized only to find what the "good old days" were like.
    • Several would-be soldiers quickly learn the "glory of combat" is offset by the horrors of war.
    • A couple wants to live in a "better" America where morality and a simple life dominated. Roarke lets them live out in 17th century Salem, where they find themselves hunted by a mob for daring to speak out on ultra-puritan ways.
    Husband: We found nothing but ignorance and intolerance.
    Wife: A monstrous man who traded on fear to rule the people.
    Roarke: Really? My, my. How much that sounds like our present world. How much that sounds like any century in which man has ever lived.
  • Notary Nonsense: The Devil tricks Julie into selling him her soul as a gambit to get Roarke's soul. Then it turns out she signed her soul to Roarke. The contract is legally signed and notarized, so each owns half of her soul.
  • Our Genies Are Different: There were subtle hints that Ariel from the 1990s revival was a genie. In particular, when a guest wishes to experience owning a genie, Roarke turns to her, and she is horrified, complaining that he "knows how she feels about bottles". She spends the episode as a Jackass Genie, pretending to be a Literal Genie for the guest's first two wishes in order to manipulate him into using his final wish to become a genie himself.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: Michelle Phillips as Mermaid Princess Naya in three separate episodes.
  • Pity the Kidnapper: In "Cornelius and Alphonse," the titular criminals kidnap Tattoo, planning to ransom him for ownership of Fantasy Island. Taking inspiration from "The Ransom of Red Chief," Tattoo torments his kidnappers so much that they end up paying Mr. Roarke $10,000 to rescue him.
  • Princess for a Day: Wishes to temporarily be royalty were fairly common on the island.
    • One particular request was for the owner of a small Plumbing business to be a king for the day. It turns out his fantasy is an elaborate ploy by Roarke to replace a recently-deceased king he happens to resemble to avoid that country falling into the hands of a cruel tyrant. The plumber winds up doing a much better job than the man he's replacing, who it turns out was a vapid and spoiled aristocrat, by applying the lessons he learned in the business world to politics. He also fixes the plumbing in his bungalo at Tattoo's request.
    • Another episode in Season 1 is the inverse; a prince about to be crowned king that wants to live the life of a commoner for the day. He's convinced he needs to understand the plight of the common man in order to be a just ruler, so he intentionally asks Roarke for an exhausting job on a fishing ship and to be treated like a nobody. He gets past the job without a single gripe or complaint, but takes some time to cope with the loss of social status.
  • Race Lift: Mr. Roarke (played famously by Ricardo Montalbán) was Mexican in the original series, while the 1998 reboot cast the English Malcolm McDowell in the role.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: While he tried to be nice and understanding, a few times, Roarke finally gets fed up and lets a guest have it on how some bad thing in their life is their own fault.
    • A roller derby star wants to be a high-class lady to impress the rich family her daughter is marrying into. At the reception party, the fiancee's mother reveals she's known all along about the woman's past, playing a video of her beating up people on the track and even bringing in the woman's arch-rival for a brawl. She smugly talks about "how dare she think she's good enough for us." Roarke tears into her on how that skater was widowed at a young age, struggled to make sure her daughter got a college education, the numerous injuries she's suffered and how she's had to work hard all her life while this woman just married into wealth. Even the woman's own husband and son call her out on her elitist attitude and happily welcome the skater as herself.
    • The revival series has Roarke pulling no punches openly berating guests as a "wakeup call."
    • A few times, the guests get this themselves from either a family member or someone in the fantasy setting them straight.
  • Recognition Failure: One episode featured a fictional starlet who had the fantasy of being somewhere where nobody knew who she was. She was sent to the wilds of [Africa/South America], where she fell in love with an explorer who didn't know who she was. Subverted though in that it turns out he did know, he just didn't care about her celebrity.
  • Red-plica Baron: Richthofen was featured the episode "The Red Baron", in which a patron of the island wished to save the Baron from his doom.
  • Second Place Is for Winners: One episode had Tattoo spend a lot of money trying to win second prize in a jingle contest (a fur coat; not to wear but to give to a pretty lady of his choosing). Unfortunately, he won the much grander first prize…a trip to Fantasy Island.
  • Secret Test of Character: This is what most of the Fantasies granted actually were; the customers learned an important lesson whether they wanted it or not.
  • Shakespeare in Fiction: In the episode "Room and Bard" William Shakespeare (Robert Reed) is brought to the 70s to write a play for a horror film star wanting to become a serious actress.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: A regular occurrence is a woman coming to the island as a "plain Jane", a tomboy or just uncouth and unstylish only to be transformed into a stunning beauty. Nine times out of ten, they choose to go back to their "old" persona as being more themselves but did enjoy showing off for a bit.
    • It could happen to a male guest with a nerd soon becoming a hunk.
    • One episode has Paul Williams as a rock star on the run after witnessing a murder. He's first seen with long hair and beard, looking rather unkempt. As part of his cover as a butler, he's given a haircut and shave to look suaver.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Country music star Freddy Weller – formerly the lead guitarist for Paul Revere and the Raiders – released a single called "Fantasy Island," a tribute to the series, and was a top 25 hit on the country charts in the winter of 1979. That spring, Weller made a guest appearance on the show ("The Comic/The Golden Hour"), where he performed "Fantasy Island."
    • In one episode three secretaries want to be their favorite detectives - Charlie's Angels (Both shows were produced by Aaron Spelling).
    • In the 1998 series, one guy's fantasy wife complained about him almost breaking her Ricardo Montalbán plate.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: The 1998 revival becomes this. A mysterious magical island; a shape-changing aide named Ariel; a brutish aide called Cal (as in Caliban); a daughter named Miranda. Add it up and it's obvious this Roarke is meant to be Prospero from The Tempest.
  • Sidekick: Tattoo in the early seasons. He was joined later on by Mr. Roarke's goddaughter, Julie, and later replaced by Lawrence the Butler.
  • Spin-Off: For a few weeks ABC tried a Children's version of "Fantasy Island" aired in the 'Family Hour' of Sunday @ 7pm Est time slot. The only differences between it and the 'Saturday @ 10pm' version were that kids had requested the fantasies, and they arrived and departed via Hot Air balloon instead of De Plane. These episodes were syndicated with the parent show.
  • Springtime for Hitler: "Spending Spree" has two women going on a quest to spend half a million dollars with rules that include only spending for one kind of each item and have to be penniless by the end of 48 hours to get a special prize. They soon realize spending that much isn't easy as they both invest in a seemingly worthless field only for it to strike oil and give them more, forcing them to give up the last to buy some farm lands before the deadline.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Nicely subverted in a revival episode. A woman wants to experience what combat was like in WWII and figures she'll be using the classic "woman disguised as a man" trick. Instead, Roarke puts her into a combat situation where all the soldiers on both sides are female.
  • Take That!: The pilot for the revival had two to the original show - first Mr. Roarke demanded his white suits be burnt on account of their "getting a little dated"; then when Cal shouted "The plane! The plane!" Mr. Roarke told him never to do that again. (P.S.: The revival only lasted half a season compared to the original's 7 full seasons...)
  • This Is What the Building Will Look Like: One character plans to build a network of hospitals staffed entirely by computers, with only a handful of human doctors who would travel between the hospitals as needed. He shows off his models and blueprints.
  • Third Line, Some Waiting: The 1998 revival had this approach, with two fantasy plots that (like in the original) typically had nothing to do with each other. The third plot was usually to show what one or more of Roarke's assistants were up in the meantime, though the first episode instead had a third fantasy plot.
  • Time Travel: Often, guests would think it was a simulation, but learn they had traveled back in time for real. Sometimes they even found themselves taking over the role of a famous historical figure (which could be a real bad thing if that figure was, oh, say, Marie Antoinette or - for totally different reasons - Lady Godiva).
  • Trickster Mentor: Mr. Roarke
  • Tropical Island Adventure: The main setting of the series.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: In "Photographs," a woman remembers watching her eleven-year-old son riding around a field on horseback before being thrown off and killed.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The hour-long episodes followed the exploits of two separate Guests. Most of the time, the A story and the B story had nothing to do with one another; in fact, the two plot threads were usually written by two different scriptwriters (as was also the case with The Love Boat, except there it was three).
  • Unwinnable by Design: A few times, it becomes clear the fantasies were never going to work out as they should have by Roarke's own plans to teach a lesson.
    • The Gambling Addict is about to escape by boat despite the pleas of his daughter. Roarke makes him a bet that if the boat starts on the first try, he'll stay. It doesn't and, bound by his own code of honor, the guy agrees to stay with his daughter. After they head off, Tattoo dryly notes that the boats are always emptied of fuel every night with Roarke waving off "details."
  • Wedding Episode: The aptly titled "The Wedding" has Roarke marry one of the guest stars from the previous season. She dies of cancer shortly afterwards.
  • Wham Line: A few occasions.
    • A shy woman wants to be a singer and Roarke sends her to an Old West town. It turns out there's a "rule" set up by the local big-shot who, heartbroken when the singer he loved ran off, banned anyone else from singing on stage. The woman is ready to go ahead...until she learns the big shot is the infamous "Hanging Judge" Roy Bean.
    • How many times has a guest learned a supposed "magical" item was just something mundane?
    • The revival has a woman desperate to know what it's like to be a real soldier. After she shockingly dies, Roarke notes how the woman had terminal cancer and wanted to go out in a blaze of glory.
  • Wham Shot: Often happens, usually a guest realizing they really have gone back in time.
    • The revival series has a germaphobe living his fantasy of an enclosed bubble...only to be interrupted by a woman living out an Indiana Jones-style adventure. In the course of it, the man not only breaks out of his phobia but falls in love with the woman. When he comes to see her once the fantasy ends, he's stunned to discover that she's in a wheelchair.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • During the Tattoo/Julie year we see Julie see the plane and run off to greet it. While some of the episodes with Tattoo give a short mention that Julie is busy with another fantasy, others show her leave to greet the plane, then disappear completely from that episode without explanation.
    • We never find out why Julie and Tattoo leave before the Lawrence episodes.
  • The Wild West:
    • Happened a few times on the show; in Season 1, Mr. Roarke even said it was among their most popular fantasies.
    • Subverted in an episode late in the show's run where a guest is expecting to be sent to this period (being convinced he was Born in the Wrong Century), only to find himself in modern-day Texas working as a hired hand on a struggling ranch. Mr. Roarke explains that his fantasy was to be sent to the "real" west, not the "old" west, and that the values of hard work and determination are hardly restricted to one period of history. Beyond that, a lot of Wild West tropes were played straight with a modern sheen, such as a runaway horse being replaced with a truck with faulty breaks, and the banditos on horseback being replaced with a motorcycle gang.
  • Wish-Fulfillment and Wishing Tropes: Virtually every trope in these categories formed the basis of each of the stories seen on this show.
  • Woobie of the Week: New guests are brought in every week to learn some sort of lesson.


Video Example(s):


Tattoo as Sherlock

Tattoo cosplays as Sherlock Holmes.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / Cosplay

Media sources: