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Series / MythQuest

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It's real in there.

Are you in there, Dad?... Because if you are, we're never gonna stop looking until we find you.
Cleo Bellows, "Red Wolf's Daughter"

MythQuest was a Canadian series that first aired on PBS and CBC in 2001, with the goal of teaching children and teens about the mythology of cultures throughout the world. It lasted for thirteen episodes before being prematurely cancelled.

Archeologist Matt Bellows is scanning artifacts into the Cyber Museum when he finds an object he calls the Gorgos stone. When he scans it in, the trickster god Gorgos is released into the system. That same night, Matt disappears without a trace...

Soon after his disappearance, his children, Cleo and Alex Bellows open up the Cyber Museum to find that it has undergone an unexpected upgrade. When one of them touches an artifact on the screen, they are instantly transported into a myth, taking the place of one of the heroes as the other sibling watches from the real world. They must now travel through the myths to find their father, all while avoiding the trickery of Gorgos.

The show was never released on DVD, but it is available on Netflix in some regions. The first three episodes, as well as the fifth, recieved novelizations by the writers of the episodes. They contain scene extensions and a more canonical account of the myths that the episodes were based on. They are available on Amazon.

This series provides examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel: Shows up in two seperate myths, and Gorgos hints that true invincibility is impossible because of this.
  • All Myths Are True: And the gods don't like it when other people mess with their myths.
  • Anachronism Stew: Happens a few times:
    • Orpheus plays "Greensleeves" for Hades
    • Blodeuwedd is given a modern trial, including a lawyer.
    • "Sir Caradoc at the Round Table" depicts Arthur as a Knight In Shining Armour
  • An Arm and a Leg: Cleo's hand gets cut off in "The Blessing"
  • Ancient Order of Protectors: There's a Chinese secret society that protects the Gorgos stone.
  • An Ice Person: Yuki-onna, a Japanese snow demon, appears in "Minokichi".
  • Animorphism: Some of the gods take animal form or force others to be animals as punishment.
  • Badass Bookworm: Scrawny archeologist Matt Bellows manages to take out two armed Egyptian guards in "Isis and Osiris".
  • Bad Liar: Cleo tries to get information about a myth from Max Asher, without revealing that Alex is caught inside or that they found the Gorgos stone. She fails from trying too hard.
  • Bad Samaritan: Gorgos frequently takes friendly disguises and pretends to help the teens, trying to get them to unwittingly destroy the myth.
  • Because Destiny Says So: First shows up in Norse Mythology with the concept of wyrd. Later on, when they discover that changing the myth means changing or damaging the real world, they enforce this trope on themselves.
  • Beneath the Earth: Alex has to journey far beneath the earth to get to Hades.
  • Big Bad: Gorgos, a trickster god/changeling.
  • Bolt of Divine Retribution: Thor, naturally
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Alex is extremely creeped out when Cleo matter-of-factly points out that this was extremely common across mythologies for married divine couples.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Alex and Cleo, of course. They search for their father in the mythworld.
  • Burial at Sea: Seth tries to get rid of Osiris' body by floating it down the Nile.
  • Cain and Abel: Seth and Osiris, in the two-parter. Alex even calls Seth the "worst brother since Cain".
  • Chivalric Romance: Alex persuades Cleo to let him visit Camelot, and it turns out to be grand and romantic, just as he had hoped.
  • Cool Sword: Alex is knighted with Excaliber.
  • Courtroom Episode: "Blodeuwedd"
  • Crash-Into Hello: How David and Cleo meet. Cleo causes him to drop his food.
  • Cut Short: After 13 episodes.
  • Death by Adaptation: Zigzagged with Lleu Llaw Gyffes. He is murdered and brought back by wizards, but his revival is only long enough to expose his killers and he even looks like a sentient corpse, implying they just reanimated him instead of actually bringing him back to life. In the original myths, not only was his resurrection a bit more permanent, with the story ending with him ascending the throne, he was implied to be Not Quite Dead to begin with, having been turned into an eagle instead of dying (confusingly, this part is even referenced in the episode).
  • Delinquent Hair: Max Asher evidently thinks this about Alex's Spiky Hair, since his reaction is to assume Alex got in a fight. Alex was actually just trying to make himself more attractive to a girl.
  • Disguised in Drag:
    • Ariadne gets Alex, as Theseus, to wear a dress so he can sneak past King Minos' guards and get advice from Daedalus.
    • Thor and Loki also do it to get close to the man who stole Thor's hammer.
  • Distracted by My Own Sexy: Some of the myth characters are very attractive. Naturally, Alex or Cleo will stare in the mirror quite often when they take the place of those characters.
  • Doing Research: Because they don't know what myth they'll be entering until they're in it, the sibling that stays behind has to do this on the fly to ensure they don't mess up the myth.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Wheelchair-bound Cleo sometimes acts this way, but most notably when she wins a ski trip in a raffle.
  • Doppelgänger: The name and topic of the seventh episode.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: Happens often, occasionally at the expense of another character.
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows: The bridge to Ásgarðr is a rainbow.
  • The Exile: Cleo is exiled in "The Blessing" because her character's brother convinces her in-laws that she's a witch
  • Fake Static: In the first episode, Matt is on a video call with his university collegue, who is angry at him for borrowing an archaeological artifact without permission. He claims he can't see or hear her, then hangs up. Her reaction indicates that he's done this before.
  • Fate Worse than Death:
    • Loki is chained to a rock with the entrails of his son underneath a venomous snake.
    • Later in the series, being part of a myth that the Gorgos stone is inhabiting becomes this, as its influence slowly causes the story and everyone in it to first change, then fade completely out of human memory and existence.
  • Fingerprinting Air: Averted. The kids' mother is called down to identify a man found in a stream, because the water makes fingerprinting impossible.
  • Flashback: Used in "Blodeuwedd" when the characters give testimony.
  • Flashback Effects: In "Blodeuwedd", all the flashbacks are sepia-toned and have a slight echo/reverb.
  • Forced Transformation: Cleo is transformed into an owl as punishment for the actions of her character/persona of the week.
  • Fourth-Wall Observer: In-universe, Alex and Cleo whenever they go into a myth. Also Gorgos. He's a god, like half the characters Alex and Cleo meet, but the difference is he knows he's in a myth.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Averted in "Hammer of the Gods". Cleo and Alex are both underage, yet Alex takes advantage of and encourages Thor's drinking and Cleo jokes about it. Alex himself doesn't seem to take part, though.
  • God-Emperor: Alex, when he becomes Osiris in episode 9.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: In "Red Wolf's Daughter", the spirits need someone to tell their stories or they will cease to exist.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: The brother in "The Blessed One" can't let his sister have anything because he's irresponsible and jealous of her success.
  • Honor Before Reason: Alex, when he decides not to get back to the real world after the Caradoc myth changes. Instead he asks to be beheaded by Eliavres instead of Arthur, on account of a promise he made a year earlier.
  • Human Sacrifice: Shows up in "Quetzalcoatl", when Alex travels to Aztec Mythology.
  • I Gave My Word: In his request to be beheaded by Eliavres instead of King Arthur, Alex uses this reason.
  • I Know Your True Name: Isis discovered the true name of Ra, which gives her power.
  • Interdimensional Travel Device: The Cyber Museum.
  • Intrepid Fictioneer: On at least one occasion, they pick a myth to travel into based on the (potential) story.
  • I Meant to Do That: In "Minokichi", Mosaku slips off an icy path and says, "I did that to prove how well I bounce".
  • It May Help You on Your Quest: The string that Alex is given in the first episode.
  • It's for a Book: Whenever Alex or Cleo need information about a myth from someone, they tell them that it's for a school assignment.
  • Keeping Secrets Sucks: Hiding the portal's existence almost causes Alex to lose Phil's friendship.
  • Last Request: Alex has one in episode six, when he asks that instead of being executed for treason, he keep his word and let the unknown knight behead him.
  • The Legend of Chekhov: Minokichi's mentor tells him the campfire story of Yuki-Onna. Guess who shows up later?
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: In episode six, Lancelot and Maleagant fight over Guinevere. During the scuffle, they both acquire an extra weapon (Maleagant an axe and Lancelot a sword). Lancelot points out that they're both honourable, and they return to fighting with matched swords.
  • Losing Your Head: The mysterious knight gets beheaded, then picks up his head and asks for his sword back.
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: Mirrors (or anything else reflective) show Alex or Cleo what they look like when they're inside the myth.
  • Mr. Exposition: Max Asher is a professor of either Egyptology or Archeology, but he can read Japanese and has information on almost anything the teens need.
  • Multi-Part Episode: Just has one. The 9th and 10th episode are entitled "Isis and Osiris Part 1" and "Isis and Osiris Part 2", respectively.
  • Multitasked Conversation: This shows up most notably in episode two, when Alex is talking to Thor in the myth world and Cleo in the real world, simultaneously. However, other characters in the myth will always hear what the teen in the myth says, so this is always present.
  • Mysterious Mist: Surrounds the spirit of the Lake in "Red Wolf's Daughter."
  • Narnia Time: Some of the myths last for days, while the outside sibling has only been watching for a few hours. In episode five, they mentioned that the myth could skip ahead, over irrelevant parts, but those are usually large jumps, and don't entirely explain the discrepency.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Gorgos says Alex's name and distracts him before he can change a myth, thereby saving the world from destruction.
  • Off with His Head!: In "Sir Caradoc at the Round Table", a mysterious knight offers to be beheaded in return for the privilege of beheading his beheader. This kind of story is actually known as "the beheading game", and is mentioned in the episode.
  • Our Minotaurs Are Different: The very first episode is about Theseus and the Minotaur.
  • Parents in Distress: Alex and Cleo searching for their disappeared father is the premise of the show.
  • Pensieve Flashback: In episode 2, when Thor shows Alex the adventures he had with Loki.
  • Prophecies Are Always Right: In "The Oracle", Cleo has visions of both the myth world and the real world. All of them come true.
  • Prophecy Twist: The Oracle tells a king that if he marches on Persia, "By your hands, a great army will fall." She doesn't specify who's army...
  • Pulling Themselves Together: The mysterious knight puts his head back on his body after being beheaded.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: Small variation in "Blodeuwedd". The same version of events is presented three times, but there is a different tone, mood, and intent behind each of the conversations that take place.
  • Recursive Reality: In "Doppelganger", Alex touches a mirror which is reflecting him through the plasma screen, to get into a myth. He has some trouble with that when it comes time to leave.
  • Releasing from the Promise: Eliavres releases Alex!Caradoc from his promise to be beheaded when he willingly offers his neck
  • Rescued from the Underworld: In "Orpheus", Alex recreates the rescue of Eurydice.
  • Revealing Hug: When Yuki hugs Alex, she has Supernatural Gold Eyes which reveal that she's An Ice Person.
  • Ripple Effect Indicator: Textbooks and storybooks, as well as people's memory, change if the myth changes.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Averted and played straight. If they change the outcome of a myth, the memories of people in the real world reflect that. However, the changes don't seem to affect the person that caused the change, so it's possible for them to change it back.
  • Save Both Worlds: Gorgos lives to change and destroy myths, thereby removing them entirely from human consciousness. Alex and Cleo go into the myths and attempt to prevent him from doing so.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Gorgos, until he's released in the first episode.
  • Separate Scene Storytelling: Brin, Gronw, and Lleu all give their testimony through a flashback in "Blodeuwedd"
  • Spiky Hair: Alex thinks this will impress his crush, Brittany.
  • Spit Take: When Queen Guinevere whispers to Lancelot, with whom she is infatuated, "May you find the hart you seek", Cleo spits her soda back into the can.
  • Spoiler Opening: The title sequence contains information about Gorgos delivered by a character that wouldn't be introduced until the fifth episode.
  • Spoonerism: Used to show that Thor is "darely brunk"
  • Status Quo Is God: The kids have to be extremely careful to not change the myths that they go into, as changing the story in the myth world changes it in the real world as well, and after a short amount of time, within memory as well. This tends to have ripple effects, one of which is to make escaping the myth world easier for Gorgos.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: Yuki, during her Revealing Hug with Alex.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Seth pours poison on Osiris's dates and feeds them to him at a ceremony.
  • Tempting Fate: In "Minokichi", Mosaku goes to bed in a frozen shack and says, "Wouldn't want this to be the last place I see."
  • Time-Compression Montage: A short one in "Doppelganger", as Alex makes an art model pose all night.
  • Title Sequence: There was a minute-long Title Montage, after which there was a commercial break and an Eye Catch.
  • To Hell and Back: Alex, when he takes the place of Orpheus.
  • Trapped in Another World:
    • The teens' father. The only way to get out of the mythworld is to touch the item that you touched to get in, but he touched the Gorgos stone, which is very difficult to find.
    • Alex and Cleo are also trapped inside until they find the object that they touched, but they do this deliberately. They're also constantly afraid that someone will come and turn off the computer when one of them is in the myth world, causing them to be trapped in the story permanently. This is partially why they usually have the other sibling keeping watch on the screen and preventing people from coming in the study.
  • Trespassing to Talk: Max Asher comes home to find an unknown Chinese businessman sitting in his living room, waiting to talk about their mutual enemy, Gorgos.
  • Trophy Wife: Blodeuwedd
  • The Underworld: Alex has to go into Hades at one point.
  • Vertigo Effect: Used in "Doppelganger".
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Cleo's mutual crush with David is a recurring subplot, until the fifth episode. He's never seen or mentioned again.
  • Wheelchair Antics: Cleo pops a wheelie when she gets back from the Swahili fairy tale, and the adaptive skier in that same episode also counts.
  • Who Needs Their Whole Body?: The mysterious knight gets back up after being beheaded in "Sir Caradoc at the Round Table."
  • The World as Myth: The later episodes hint that they aren't just going into the Cyber Museum, but into another world where the myth actually happened. Furthermore, changing the myth has disasterous consequences in other myths and the real world.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Cleo becomes this when she takes the place of Blodeuwedd. She rather likes it in the beginning, but as the myth continues, she becomes increasingly irritated by how shallow other peoples' perception of Blodeuwedd is, and how her role had simply been a Trophy Wife.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Merlin in episode six: "Never had much luck changing fate. You throw a rock in the river, and the water just moves around it."
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Matt Bellows can't get back unless he touches the Gorgos Stone. Unfortunately, it's not as easy to find as most of the artifacts the teens touch.
  • Your Door Was Open: Philthy walks in on Cleo multiple times, almost always when she's busy with a myth.