Surrender will win the fight
This girl's walked through fire and ice
But I come out on the other side
The focus of the show is on Fiona "Fi" Phillips (Cara de Lizia), who is obsessed with all things supernatural and seems to encounter them everywhere. As the story goes, the Phillips-Kane Band, consisting of Fi's parents Rick and Molly Phillips (the latter portrayed by Mackenzie Phillips of One Day at a Time) was at the height of their popularity in the late 1980s when the band unexpectedly dissolved after the suspicious and untimely death of front-man Rick, who, as it happens, was also an amateur parapsychologist.
We join the main story some ten years later, several months after Molly has come out of retirement and gone on tour as a soloist. Along with her are her children Jack and Fi, Molly's faithful roadie Ned (Dave "Squatch" Ward), his wife Irene (who is also Molly's manager), and their sons Clu and Carey.
While fairly obscure, So Weird was notable for being darker than any other Disney series, even to date (which isn't saying much, it still had the mood and camp of a 90s Disney Channel series) The first two seasons built a Myth Arc around Fiona's quest to understand the mysterious circumstances her father was involved in before his death by following in his footsteps and the tension this caused with her concerned brother and mother, ending when Cara de Lizia left the cast after the second season. For the final season, Alexz Johnson joined the cast as Annie Thelan, a friend of the family. A new arc was developed around her own mysterious childhood involving a spirit panther who followed her from town to town.
The series was complemented by a number of suspiciously apropos musical performances by Mackenzie Phillips and Alexz Johnson, such as "Another World" and "In the Darkness" (which also served as the show's theme song).
The show is notorious for languishing for numerous years without any sort of home media release, despite having a cult following and a decently strong fandom. Thankfully, after almost 16 years of being in limbo, it was announced in 2019 it would be on Disney's streaming service Disney+.
This series provides examples of:
- Aborted Arc: With the departure of Cara deLizia in the third season, Fi's plot arc about her father in the afterlife and her brother living a past life as a knight (which Rebecca, the immortal girl, knows about since she lived long enough to see him) came to an end. For some reason, the individual arcs of all the other characters were dropped as well.
- Agent Mulder: Fi and Annie are quick to come to supernatural conclusions. They're always right.
- Agent Scully: Jack never ever accepts supernatural conclusions. Even when Bricriu possessed him he didn't believe it.
- All There in the Manual: The soweird.com tie-in website had transcripts of discussions between Bricriu and his boss. People who knew about these found out about plot information before it was revealed in the show.
- Ambiguously Human: In "Beeing There", there's a town of people who act like bees. It's never explained if they're bees who turned human or humans with bee-like mannerisms due to a genetic experiment. They just sell honey, buzz around, and entomb people in wax when they get agitated.
- Armor-Piercing Response: To get Bricriu out of Jack, Fi uses a computer to determine his true name. He tries to get her to shut off the machine by warning her of the Greater-Scope Villain, but she stands firm, so he makes a final bargain. It ultimately doesn't work, but her resolve sure takes a hit.Bricriu: Turn off your machine, and I'll let you speak to your father.
- Astral Projection: "Escape" features a girl who leaves her body to avoid overbearing parents.
- Badass Normal: Fi a teenage girl who regularly squares off against ghosts, demons, fae and monsters with nothing but her brains and sheer AUDACITY, and always comes out on top.
- Beware the Silly Ones: Bricriu enjoys hamming it up, but he is powerful, crafty, and dangerous.
- Big Damn Heroes: Astrid's final question in "Troll" is a very specific one about geography, and Fi has no idea what to say. All of a sudden, her laptop starts doing an online search for the answer and then the cellphones that belonged to Astrid's previous victims start flashing it, allowing Fi to say it and win. In the last scene, she receives an email and realizes it was her father doing this.
- Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: Fi runs into a friendly Bigfoot in "Sacrifice".
- Call-Back: Fi would often be seen getting advice about her case of the week by chatting online with various people we had met before, including friends from her home in Colorado, relatives, and people she had previously helped.
- The troll in the episode "Troll" says "my stars and garters".
- Bricriu calls Fi "little duck".
- Cliffhanger: "Will o' the Wisp" ends with Fi saving Jack, but also with new questions about what became of their father and Bricriu vowing to return.
- Clip Show: "Encore" has Molly sing songs with clips playing over the top of them. It's also an excuse to show off the music that was written and previously was used only in small sections.
- Covers Always Lie: Disney+ uses apparently the least scary publicity stills they could find as the thumbnailnote and the banner.
- Empty Shell: James Garr, after losing his soul, is just a body walking around without anything personal essence inside it. That's why he speaks in the third person.
- Enigmatic Minion: Bricriu is in league with "the powers of darkness," but is more or less and extremely selfish and amoral True Neutral - all he cares about is having fun. He claims that he tends to get bored with team evil since they're constantly all about "conquer and subjugate" without any real originality, so he doesn't care what Fiona does. In fact, every time he appears he cryptically tells Fiona information about the deeper mysteries she is investigating and claims to be willing to help her, but then doesn't really care about leaving her to die one way or the other and more or less comes off as scheming.
- Enthralling Siren: "Siren", of course, stars a singer who uses her power to further her career. Said siren is played by Jewel Staite.
- Exact Words: To beat Astrid the troll, Fi must answer seven questions in a row correctly. The penultimate question asks who lost the Republican nomination to Dwight D. Eisenhower. With no clue of the candidate's name, Fi sheepishly responds with "Another Republican?" A frustrated Astrid admits that's technically correct, due to how the question was worded. As such, the final question has no such loophole.
- The Fair Folk: Bricriu is a textbook example - apathetic about humanity and caring only about the plans of the other spirits and, of course, his own enjoyment.
- Girl of the Week: Two aversions:
- Though Jack's Girl of the Week is seen only once, he repeatedly mentions corresponding with her, and his absence in several episodes is explained by visits to her.
- Fi was often seen chatting online with Ryan, as well as other people she had previously helped.
- Great Gazoo: Bricriu, who is a Will-o'-the-Wisp, and both knowledgable and powerful.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Bricriu hints that Fi's father was messing with some beings from the spirit world and they were the ones that killed him.
- The Greys: Most of the aliens seen throughout the show are of this variety; short and grey and the strange fingers etc.
- Guile Hero: Fi's greatest weapon against the supernatural baddies she encounters is her wits.
- In Bricriu's first two appearances she outsmarts him. In the first she figured out his name and in the second, Fiona figures out he's up to something worse than he claims partway through the episode, but also realizes she can't figure out what he's planning and instead resolves to try to counter it at the right moment.
- Fiona's battle with the troll in the episode "Troll" was a Battle of Wits and knowledge.
- Halloween Episode: "Boo" from Season 2. The group spends the night in Rhiannon, where the spirits of the town's ancestors rise up every Halloween and roam about. Worse, they always take at least one living person back to the spirit world for a year, which is why any living locals either skip town or hole up in a special sanctuary. Fergus McGarrity already did his time, and he intends for Fi and the others to take his place.
- HeelFace Turn: Jordan in "Avatar" and the video game inventor in "Banglebye". Molly and Annie are able to talk them around to the good side.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: In "Pen Pal", Annie's alternate timeline evil twin describes Washington D.C. as "dank", meaning boring and uncool. A decade and a half later, and that word became slang for the exact opposite.
- Human Aliens: The aliens in "Earth 101" that want to investigate the significance of Thanksgiving.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Rebecca suffers from this, as she feels that her family's unnatural longevity is a curse
- I Know Your True Name: Bricriu can be banished by those who know his name. He can become exempt from this by convincing a person to let him stay for a fixed period of time.
- It Amused Me: Bricriu, particularly in his first appearance, does what he does for shits and giggles.
- Karma Houdini: A lot of the villains were never really punished.
- Large Ham: Bricriu loves overacting. He needed Fi to teach him how to pretend to be Jack because his natural energy was a contrast to the boy's dry apathy.
- Lower-Deck Episode: "Avatar" has Fi in only a couple scenes. The rest focuses on Molly, Jack, and Carey.
- Magically Binding Contract: The Fair Folk are subject to these, which Fiona exploits to get rid of Bricriu.
- Manipulative Bastard: Via Exact Words and Blatant Lies, Bricriu pulls this in his second appearance. He possesses Molly and then convinces Fiona that Molly is in danger of dying and that only Bricriu's presence can save her, convincing Fiona to allow him to stay in Molly's body for 24 hours. This is technically correct. He doesn't tell her that the real reason he's possessing Molly is to keep Fiona from talking to a man who knows a small fragment of the truth about how her father died, whom the spirits plan to kill (which Bricriu needs Molly's body to do) - thus keeping Molly and Fiona away from the danger, technically. Thanks to his own actions, Fiona meets the guy anyway and the climax results with Molly, Fiona, and the man trapped in a warehouse Bricriu has set on fire. After realizing that fire is dangerous to mortals, Bricriu notes that he technically kept Molly out of danger for as long as he said he would (he only said the danger should be over in 24 hours) and splits, only taking the time to lampshade the whole thing as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy and give Fiona some cryptic information.
- Mental Time Travel: The Christmas Episode "Fountain" has a mysteriously kind soda jerk, "Nick", serve Fi a hot chocolate that allows her to relive past Christmases, including one in which a baby Fi dances with her father.
- Myth Arc
- The first one centered around Fiona and her investigation of her father's death.
- The second was about Annie, her childhood, and her spirit panther Guardian Entity.
- No Antagonist: This was the case in many episodes, though there were plenty of others where it wasn't (villains were more common in Season 2).
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Phillips-Kane Band is rather conspicuously based on The Mamas & the Papas and Wilson Phillips, right down to their name and Mackenzie Phillips playing the mom.
- Our Banshees Are Louder: In the 2nd-season episode Banshee, Fi fears a banshee is calling for her Grandfather's death.
- Our Vampires Are Different: They were, in fact, a nationwide student tutoring group.
- Put on a Bus:
- Fiona leaves the main cast to live with other family members, It's ironic, since the cast was on a bus throughout the series.
- Clu was also put on a bus when he left for college in the second season, but in his case The Bus Came Back for the third season.
- Really 700 Years Old: The episode "Rebecca" dealt with Molly meeting a girl that looks exactly like her best friend when she was a teenager despite years passing by. The girl claims to be the daughter of Molly's friend. Turns out, it's the same girl. She says it takes her and her family a hundred years to age one year. Her family has to move around every few years to keep people from noticing, which is why Rebecca abandoned Molly. To twist the knife further? The flashback shows that the day Rebecca left was what Molly believed was her 13th birthday and made her a birthday cake and everything to surprise her. Cue her entering the house...and it's empty.
- Sadistic Choice: When facing Bricriu the first time, Fi is faced with this at the last moment. She can either drive him out to save Jack or talk to her father.
- Science Is Bad: "Simplicity" stars a town inhabited by tiny elves that believe this trope. They shut down any and all forms of electrical machinery within their territory, including cars passing through. The Phillips escape by pretending to agree with them long enough to get out.
- Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: In "Shelter", the Mad Scientist had Fi who was turned into a dog drink the antidote without reminding her she doesn't have clothes on. She eventually transforms back... naked. (The camera showed only her head and shoulders, but it was still pretty daring for a Disney show.)
- Something Completely Different: "Encore" is an entire episode devoted to a Molly Phillips concert.
- The Soulless: James Garr, a man cryogenically frozen, has his soul leave him while frozen. When he wakes up, he's an Empty Shell.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Annie for Fiona; a teenage girl that has a great interest in the supernatural and in protecting Muggles from the nastier elements in them.
- Spirit Advisor: Annie's panther follows her around, providing her guidance and protection.
- These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Implied by Bricriu to be why Fi and Jack's father died. He went looking into things that beings in the spirit world wanted left alone.
- Third-Person Person: James Garr, a man who continues to live after his soul leaves him, refers to himself as his full designation, not really being a person anymore.
- Truly Single Parent: In one episode Fi meets a boy who is a clone of his scientist father.
- Town with a Dark Secret: The show is fond of this one.
- "Memory" plays with this idea, by presenting a town with everyone guarded and fearful—but it turns out that no one knows what's going on and everyone's been zapped by alien Laser-Guided Amnesia.
- "Listen" involves a town where everyone develops Psychic Powers and covers up alien visitation.
- "Boo" has a town where the dead rise and steal people away to the spirit world.
- "Beeing There" has a town where everyone acts like bees and entomb people in wax when agitated.
- The ending of "Werewolf" suggests that this is what a town will become to help a young werewolf lead a comfortable life.
- Tulpa: Monster of the Week in the episode "PK (or Tulpa)". Fi meets a little boy who has created a tulpa that he believes to be an imaginary friend. Though invisible to everyone else, it is still capable of affecting others, becoming violent and injuring people around him.
- We Will Meet Again: "Will o' the Wisp" ends with Bricriu telling Fi that he will be back.
- Weirdness Magnet: It is eventually revealed that Fi, her father before her, and later Annie, act as "lightning rods" for the supernatural.