It's set in 1467 Florence, where young Leo is an apprentice artist, and spends his spare time designing fantastic machines and hanging out with Lovable Rogue Niccolo "Mac" Machiavelli and Lonely Rich Kid Lorenzo de' Medici. In the first episode they meet Tomaso, who also wants to be an artist.
However, a sinister society has discovered Leo's mechanical designs. This group tricks Tom into stealing Leo's notebooks, wanting to create war machines that will let them overthrow the Duke of Florence. Leo and his friends (including Tom, who turns out to be a girl called Lisa) have to stop them, unaware that they're led by Lorenzo's father.
A second season began in September 2012, in which Piero's schemes see Florence approach war with Milan.
This show contains examples of:
- Alliterative Title: The episode, "The Betrothal Ball".
- All Part of the Show: In "Diabolical Acts" Nazario tries this when Leo announces he's a thief on stage.
- Ambiguously Gay: Nazario, the strolling player in "Diabolical Acts", is very flamboyant, calls Leo "Sweetie", and is very enthusiatic about how good Leo would look in a dress. However, a lot of that seems put on because that's how an actor's supposed to behave.
- Anachronism Stew. Mostly Leo's ahead-of-their-time inventions, but also moments like Lorenzo wishing the strolling players in "Diabolical Acts" would put on a Pantomime, which just about works if you assume he means Commedia dell'Arte until he says "At a panto we can shout 'He's behind you!' and 'Oh no, it isn't!'", putting it firmly in the 19th century British tradition.
- Arranged Marriage: Lisa is escaping one. In "Something Wicked", moneylender Lucio Zengari is marrying a woman in exchange for not sending her father to debtor's prison. And in "The Betrothal Ball", as the title suggests, Lorenzo's engagement to the daughter of the Duke of Pisa is announced, much to his horror.
- Attractive Bent-Gender: In "It Must Be Love", Leo falls for Lorenzo's manipulative cousin Valentina. Valentina, while flirting with Leo out of habit, falls in love with "Tom", in part because her usual seduction techniques don't work.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: It's a Running Gag that Leo's fascination with everything means that he hardly ever finishes a painting.
- Batman Gambit: Piero seems fond of these. The final two episodes of the first season both have Leonardo believing Piero plans to kill the Duke, only to learn his real plan is more convoluted, and Leo's own actions have played into it. In the opening two-parter of the second season, he does the same with Lorenzo.
- Be My Valentine: T He Vamp, Lorenzo's cousin Valentina de' Medici, who says boys are "all gullible fools".
- Beneath Notice: In "Dogs of War", Tom discovers none of the apprentices are allowed in the workshop where the superweapon is being built. Lisa, however, can easily get in by carrying a mop and bucket.
- Berserk Button: Don't tell Leo you've sold the Mona Lisa when he thinks it's not finished.
- The Beard: In "Lost and Found", Lisa tries to convince her mother she's married to Mac.
- Big Bad: Piero de' Medici.
- Big Eater: Angelina, who goes to an expensive restaurant with Mac and basically orders the entire menu. This is at least partly to wind up Mac, who she knows has been paid to take her off Lorenzo's hands, and who will be cleaned out by the bill, but she does eat it all.
- Black Vikings
- Brick Joke: Halfway through "Hitched", the gang blag their way into a convent by pretending to be ratcatchers, and saying the nuns have to stay in the belltower until they're finished. In the final scene (which must be at least a day later) Leo asks Mac what the nuns said when he told them they could come down, and Mac replies "The nuns? Oh no..."
- Chase Scene: "Wing and a Prayer" has Mac on the run from a nobleman he sold a fake gold chain to. Instead of a Fruit Cart or Sheet of Glass, they get blocked by Leo and Lisa carrying Leo's glider wings.
- Clock Punk
- The Convenient Store Next Door: Justified in "Diabilical Acts", where Nazario has built the stage next to the bank specifically so he can tunnel underneath it.
- Cool Bike: Leo invents the bicycle in the first episode "Anything is Possible". In "It Must Be Love", he adds a gunpowder engine: the Boom Bike.
- The Conspiracy: The Luminari, or Il Illuminatum.
- The Dandy: Lorenzo.
- In "Angels and Cherubs", Michelangelo dresses in purple silk and is healded by the BGM playing Adam Ant's "Stand and Deliver".
- Dance Party Ending: The final episode of Season Two ends (more or less) with a huge street party being held to celebrate that Leo saved Florence.Verrocchio: I'm never going to hear the end of this...
- Dark Horse Victory: The painting contest in "Angels and Cherubs" presented as all about Leo and Michelangelo. The winner is "Tomaso".
- Death Equals Redemption: At the end of "The Fugitive" Placidi, battered to death by a mob and abandoned by Piero, decides to tell Leo everything before he dies. As it turns out in "Dogs of War" he's Only Mostly Dead, and manages to explain it all to Lorenzo as well. And by the end he's made a full recovery.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: In "Stupid Cupid", Angelina, who's spent the previous seven episodes alternating between demure and bitchy, suddenly turns out to be a Rebellious Princess in conversation with Mac. However, after "The Tortoise And The Hare", she realises being rebellious isn't going to do her any good, and freezes over again, before finally defrosting in "Hitched" but not enough to run off with Mac.Angelina: Get me out of this wedding! Get me out of this family!
- Ditzy Genius: Leo sometimes comes across as this.
- The Don: Mazzola in "Cat and Mouse".
- The Dragon: Caporaso was Piero's trusted bodyguard and enforcer in season one. In season two he's replaced by Placidi, head of security at the palace, and occasionally Lorenzo's babysitter.
- Dresses the Same: In "The Betrothal Ball", Lisa is wearing the same dress to the masked ball as Angelica.Lisa: Great minds, eh?
Angelica: (icy stare)
Lisa: ...We're wearing the same dress?
Angelica: Yours is a copy. And a cheap one at that.
- Engineered Public Confession: In "The Dogs of War" Leo gets Piero to admit to everything, unaware that Duke Rocco is hiding in the tank.
- Duel to the Death: In "By The Sword", Tom is outraged by a professional fencer's arrogance, and challenges him to a duel. She's taken a bit aback when he suddenly says that "to make it interesting", they'll use real swords, not practice ones.
- Eats Babies: One of the lies being spread about the Milanese in the run-up to the war.
- The Fagin: Mac is the "good" version, and not much older than the kids who work for him.
- Follow in My Footsteps: Lorenzo finds banking incredibly boring. On the one occasion he feigns interest in the Family Business, Piero says "Now you sound like a Medici!"
- For Science!: Leo creates for the sake of creating, and is enthusiastic about everything. When Piero makes his pitch for Leo to join him it's not We Can Rule Together, it's "Wouldn't you like to see your inventions in action?"
- In "Dogs of War", when Leo's superweapon fails to wipe out Leo and Mac, Leo stares at it and says "It didn't work!" An incredulous Mac asks "Are you disappointed?
- Frameup: The opening episode of Season 2, "Framed" has Piero frame Verocchio for murder to get revenge on Leo.
- Friend to All Living Things: As in real history, Leo is a vegetarian, and buys caged birds to release them into the wild.
- Friends All Along: Mac and Carlo Cazali in "The Lightning Box".
- Gilligan Cut:
Lorenzo: The most expensive bird in all of Florence, cost a fortune ... (notices Leo's Cheshire Cat Grin) Oh, no! Absolutely no way. I know what you're thinking and no way! He'd skin me alive! He'd feed me to the fishes! There's absolutely no way I'm doing it.Gilligan Cut to Lorenzo creeping into his father's study in the middle of the night.
- Leo needs a bird of prey to study. Lorenzo casually mentions that his dad has just got a falcon.
- At the end of "Cat and Mouse", Lorenzo suddenly realises his parents are due home, and Mac says there's no way he's helping to tidy the palace. Cut to...
- And again in "Hitched" when Mac says "No way. Never. Not in a million years" to dressing as a nun.
- Go Through Me: Tomas, Mac and Lorenzo all stand in front of Leo when Rocco has him declared a traitor and wants him shot.
- Gratuitous Italian: Only names and few phrases are in Italian
- Have You Told Anyone Else?:
- In "The Mask of Death" Leonardo tells the Medici family doctor that he suspects the Duke was poisoned, hoping for a post mortem. The doctor replies "And you've told no-one else of this? Good, keep it that way." And then, of course, we cut to him telling Piero "He'll find out I gave you the poison! We'll all be exposed!" Unfortunately for Dr Pentageli, Piero decides he's more disposable than Leo is.
- In "The Dogs of War" Leo deliberately invokes this as part of Bluffing the Murderer.
- Hard-Work Montage: Veruccio and Leonardo painting a fake cell wall with bent window bars in "Perspective".
- He-Man Woman Hater: Lorenzo is a bit like this, constantly having to amend his comments about girls not to include Lisa. In one episode he claims that making up excuses to avoid going on dates is his hobby.
- Historical Domain Character: All the main characters.
- Historical In-Joke: In "Something Wicked", Leo's Batman Gambit involves pretending that he creates copies of stolen paintings and sells them to people who think they're getting the original — exactly what happened when the Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: Piero de' Medici. Who pretty much did rule Florence in 1467.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Alberto, who's been inciting hatred against the Milanese in "The Fugitive", gets attacked by his own mob when Mac puts up some posters claiming he's a double agent.
- Honor Before Reason: Much to Piero's horror Rocco believes war with Milan is inevitable, but wants to lead the charge personally, armed with a sword. When Piero tries to explain that this will result in him, and most of the Florentine army, being killed, he replies it would be a glorious death.
- How We Got Here: "The Dogs of War" begins with Rocco having Piero arrested for treason. Then the action rewinds to the end of the previous episode. They do the rewind thing again halfway through to explain how Lorenzo knows his father's a villain. And again near the end to explain what Tom's been up to.
- Hypocritical Humour: In "Enter the Robot", a man comes running down the street screaming. Mac comments "Probably seen a three-legged dog. You know what these peasants are like; still living in the DarkAges." When Mac actualy sees the mechanical man the peasant was running from, his reaction is "Run! Run! It's a demon!"
- I Am One of Those, Too: When Lisa poses as a Neopolitan princess in "Hitched", she has a nasty moment when Signora de'Medici asks about her close friends in Naples. She gets out of it by saying she has no interest in mere countesses.
- I'd Tell You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You: Piero says this when he employs Lucio Zengari to buy weapons:Lucio:What do you want 'em for?Piero: I could tell you, but then I really would have to kill you.
- Improbable Weapon User: In a frenetic swordfight in "The Dogs of War", Mac is armed with ... a pewter tankard. And doesn't do badly with it.
- Ironic Echo Cut: In "Dragon Hunt"Leo: I have a friend. He knows I went off with Salvatori. He'll come. He will find us.cut to:Mac: We're never gonna find him. I give up, it's hopeless. Wherever Leo's got to, he's on his own.
- It Will Never Catch On: Leo's inventions.
- The Duke of Florence thinks Leo's painting of Lisa is "almost perfect, but there's something not right about the mouth".
- It Works Better with Bullets: In "Dogs of War", Piero aims the superweapon's cannon at Leo, Mac and Rocco, presses the trigger, and nothing happens. At which point Tom casually wanders up carrying the flint (the Renaissance equivalent of removing the firing pin).
- Jerk Jock: Michelangelo, with painting instead of sports. Represents the Opposing Art School in "Angels and Cherubs".Michelangelo: Have you heard the rumours? They're saying you're going to win. Everyone loves an underdog story. I find underdog stories incredibly tedious, so I've decided I'm going to win.
- Love Triangle: Mac loves Lisa, who loves Leo, who is Oblivious to Love. As of "Stupid Cupid", Mac and Angelina have feelings for each other. Which would be fine because Lorenzo doesn't even like her much, except for the political ramifications.
- Masquerade Ball: Season 2, episode 2 is "The Betrothal Ball".
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: "Time Waits" involved an incredibly accurate (but backwards) pocket watch that both Leo and Piero believe allows Time Travel. A scene near the end suggests they may be right.
- Mistaken Identity: In "The Betrothal Ball", Lisa and Angelina are wearing identical dresses and masks. Lorenzo has insisted he and Leo wear matching outfits, and at one point they swap masks. Every possible point of confusion is covered, first Played for Laughs (as Mac agonises to "Lorenzo" about how Lisa loves Leo, and Leo asks "Lisa" about it) and then Played for Drama (when Lisa gets kidnapped instead of Angelica.)
- Not So Different: In "Dogs of War":Piero: You and I, Leonardo, we're thinkers. Men of the future.
Leo: I am nothing like you!
Piero: (looking towards Leo's superweapon) Aren't you?
- Not so Fast, Bucko!: The Engineered Public Confession in "Dogs of War" takes place five minutes in, and the scene from the beginning of Piero being arrested is a couple of minutes later. Obviously, it can't be that simple...
- One-Word Title: Protagonist Title, first name, of Leonardo de Vinci.
- Parental Abandonment: Mac never talks about his parents. Leo's dad is still in Vinci, and is supposed to visit in one episode but doesn't.
- Leo's dad appears in the opening two parter of season 2, and turns out to be an Amoral Attorney. He cares for Leo, but doesn't understand him, and won't believe Piero is evil. Also, he's getting married, and never actually told his fiance he has a son.
- Pet the Dog: Several episodes show that however ruthless Piero may be in his desire to rule Florence, he does genuinely care about his son.
- Race Lift: Mac is black.
- Recursive Cross Dressing: When "Tomaso" considers auditioning for the play in "Diabolical Acts", Leo says not to try for a girl's part because "you can't be a girl playing a boy playing a girl, it's too confusing". In the end, she does, when they both take offence at Nazario's claim that Leo would make a better girl.
- Revealing Injury: In "The Lighning Box", Lorenzo tells Leo that someone tries to steal the titular "lightning box", but his father's guards put an arrow in the man's leg. Cut to Mac's old friend Carlo bandaging his leg.
- Right Behind Me: Lorenzo on Valentina:Lorenzo: All pretty and charming and tinkly laughter, but really she's spiteful and nasty and ... and she's behind me, isn't she?
- Rightful King Returns: At the end of "Stupid Cupid" the Duke's son Rocco returns from five years at sea ... right in the middle of Piero's Awesome Moment of Crowning.
- Runaway Bride: The Princess of Naples in "Hitched". Unsurprising, since she doesn't exist.
- Sadistic Choice: Piero gives Leo one in "The Dogs of War":
- Science Hero: Leo.
- Shout-Out: Obviously, the episode where the Luminari realise they can't read Leo's notebooks has to be called "Da Vinci's Code".
- A Simple Plan: Leo's plan to get Lorenzo out of his wedding. It starts simple enough: make Piero believe there's a better match to be had, and by the time he finds out otherwise the wedding will already be cancelled. Too bad it never occured to him Lorenzo's mother might want to meet the potential bride...
- Street Smart: Mac and Lisa. Lampshaded in "Dragon Hunt":Mac: You see, there are street smarts...Lisa: ...which we've got...Mac: ...and then there are Leo smarts...
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Scarpa, the assassin in "The Mask of Death", is fond of these.
- Stepford Smiler: Lorenzo's mother. Probably a Type B, but we haven't seen the mask crack sufficiently to be sure.
- Stern Teacher: Verrocchio, Leo's master. (The way the apprentice system works, he's closer to a teacher than a Benevolent Boss, but has elements of both.) He's shown to genuinely care about his apprentices, but he'd appreciate it if they didn't spend their time building ridiculous devices when they're supposed to be learning to paint.
- Sweet Polly Oliver: "Tom" is actually Lisa. As in "Mona..."
- Tank Goodness: Leo's superweapon: a heavily-armored, man-powered cart with a turret-mounted cannon.
- The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Piero has a clockpunk security system involving numbered levers ... and has it programmed with his birthday. And then changes it to Lorenzo's birthday. Amusingly, such devices are apparently common enough that Mac says "It's almost always that."
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Lisa/Tom (appropriately enough) and Angelina are becoming this, most obviously in "By The Sword".Lisa: Didn't it make you angry? Being told girls shouldn't fence!
Angelina: Well, they shouldn't really, should they? All that violence and aggression. It's not in our nature, is it?
Lisa: Might not be in yours...
- Translation Convention: Everyone speaks English, with occasional breaks into Gratuitous Italian, such as mi scusi and magnifico. In "The Fugitive", the Milanese accent is apparently Oop North.
- Treasure Map: In "Dragon Hunt", complete with cryptic clues and having to track down different bits of the map.
- The Vamp: Lorenzo's cousin Valentina de' Medici, who says boys are "all gullible fools".
- Verbed Title: Some episodes:
- Welcome Back, Traitor: In the final episode of the first season Lorenzo discovers his father's plans, but is convinced they're for the good of the city. He therefore turns agains Leo and his friends. In Season 2 after spending the opening two-parter alternately moping about and fantasising about killing his friends, he learns they were right, but also believes his father has reformed. He therefore wants everything to go back to how it was, which happens in the third episode.
- Wham Episode: At the end of "Dragon Hunt" Piero finally kills the Duke.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Leo can be this, especially in comparison with the Street Smart Mac.
- The Wise Prince: The Duke of Florence. His cousin Piero de' Medici would disagree.Piero: He's taken to walking through the streets, listening to his citizens and any old riff-raff! Imbecile! If that isn't asking to be assassinated, I don't know what is!
- Xanatos Gambit: While Piero is the master of the Batman Gambit, "Dogs of War" reveals that even if that goes wrong, he's still got a plan.Piero: Maybe we're not so alike after all. You make plans. I make plans within plans.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Happens to Professor Pico in "Da Vinci's Code", and to Dr Pentageli and Scarpa in "The Mask of Death". Scarpa's last words are to ask his killer how long it'll be before Piero decides he's outlived his usefulness too. Five episodes, as it turns out.
- You Have to Believe Me!: Leo at the end of "Fireball", when he tries to convince the Duke that Piero plans to assassinate him. And again in "Perspective" when he tries to tell his father.