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Series / The Secret World of Alex Mack

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The Secret World of Alex Mack was a live-action show which aired on Nickelodeon and told the story of Alex Mack (Larisa Oleynik), a young girl who lives with her parents and older sister in a planned community owned by a chemical plant, where her parents work. She has a bad first day at her new school, and to make matters worse, a truck from the plant crashes and drenches her in a top-secret chemical called GC-161.

The chemical gives her an... interesting variety of superhuman powers: telekinesis, the ability to zap electricity from her fingers, the ability to melt a la Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and glow when she senses danger or gets upset. Her best friend Ray Alvarado (Darris Love) and her older sister Annie (Meredith Bishop) learn soon after and try to keep it a secret from anyone else, including the show's other two regulars, Alex and Annie's parents, George (Michael Blakely) and Barbara (Dorian Lopinto). Unfortunately, Danielle Atron (Louan Gideon)—the head of the chemical plant that created GC-161—wants to see what effect the chemical has on human beings and has decided that finding the kid who was drenched and experimenting on him/her is a good way to go about this. She enlists the help of Vince Carter (John Marzilli), the head of plant security, to track her down. Vince is partnered up with Dave Watt (John Nielsen), the driver responsible for the accident, who may or may not (more likely the latter) be able to recognize the child.


This show provides examples of:

  • Accidental Art: Robyn's oral narrative "The Dogs Ate My Homework" gets a good grade, even though that really was the story of what happened.
  • Accidental Athlete: Alex is sprinting down the hallway of her school attempting to avoid being late to class and getting in trouble. She is still late for class, but instead of getting chastised she is recruited for the track team.
  • Adults Are Useless: Lampshaded in the finale when her parents wonder why she never told them about her powers in the first place.
  • An Aesop
  • All Just a Dream: The "Be Careful What You Wish For" wish turned out to be this at the end of the episode.
  • Alpha Bitch: Kelly. There was also a character named Libby who was like this and was intended to develop into a bigger character but pulled a Brother Chuck and her spot was taken by Kelly. Libby did appear in a dream sequence in the finale along with Kelly where everyone knew about her powers.
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  • Ambiguous Ending: We never find out whether or not Alex took the antidote to GC-161 and lost her powers. Although Larisa Oleynik maintains that she didn't.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Alex to Annie, although their relationship gradually improves over the series.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: "I wish I'd never been born at all." The All Just a Dream episode shows that, had Alex not been there to be doused by GC-161, well... Her mother Barbara would've been doused, then she'd be capured and used in experiments. With the side-effect of her father George not being able to ascend at work and her sister Annie being unable to develop her Tween Genius potential..
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Alex. She may be a sweetie normally but she has some a bunch of weird powers that could possibly kill a person. Also there is a Jekyll & Hyde plot episode which shows she has a dark side as well. Further, when her good and bad sides recombine she admits at the end it was kind of fun to be the bad girl.
  • Big Bad: Danielle Atron
  • Black Best Friend: Ray.
  • Blob Monster: Alex's most infamous power was turning into goo. Went from a jellyfish-looking thing to actual silvery goo.
  • Brainy Brunette: Annie.
  • Character Development: Alex goes through a surprising amount for a series of this nature. Throughout the series, she gradually becomes more confident, less whiny, more respectful of Annie and begins to accept and even embrace her powers rather than complain about them.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Libby Flanders ("The Test") who claims that she'll get back at Alex but is never heard from again save for a dream-sequence cameo in the series finale.
    • Alex's early rival Jessica, who vanishes for good after three Season 1 episodes. Her character is officially dropped in the beginning of Season 2 when it's mentioned that Jessica moved out of town.
    • Alex's friend Nicole, who is not seen at all in Season 4.
  • Clip Show: "The Storm", Season 3
  • Combo Platter Powers: Lightning generation and TK make a little bit of sense, but how either one fits with turning into what looks like quicksilver is puzzling to say the least.
  • Company Town: Nearly everyone in the town works for the chemical company that sprayed Alex.
  • Cool Big Sis: Annie to Alex.
  • Cool Loser: Alex and her group of friends aren't considered cool or popular, but Alex is on the school newspaper and generally considered to be a fun, nice person, and Ray is on the basketball team.
  • Correspondence Course: One plot has Dave taking a course in detective work and eventually discovering Alex's secret identity. This also led to him using Obfuscating Stupidity for the rest of the show to stop anyone from realizing he knew.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Danielle Atron
  • Cursed with Awesome: Essentially, the whole premise of the show.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: When Danielle Atron realized that GC-161 has too many side effects to be used as a weight loss product she decided to sell it as such anyway and leave the country with the money before the FDA would realize what happened. It never occurred to her that she would be able to make a lot more money (and not be an outlaw) if she would sell it to the army as a Super Serum.
  • The Dragon: Vince. Even after being fired he constantly tries to capture Alex as a way to convince Danielle to re-hire him.
  • Elemental Powers: Electricity and Water.
  • Enemy Without: In one episode, Alex got a duplicate, who among other things, nearly killed her by trapping her in the basement of a building scheduled for demolition and later by trapping her puddle form in some clogged plumbing and waiting for her to either suffocate or reform while still inside the pipes.
  • Evil Twin: In one episode, Alex got a duplicate, who among other things, nearly killed her by trapping her in the basement of a building scheduled for demolition and later by trapping her puddle form in some clogged plumbing and waiting for her to either suffocate or reform while still inside the pipes.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: That's how Dave learned Danielle's true colors.
  • Extreme Doormat: Robyn Russo, a friend of Alex who has extremely low self-esteem.
  • 15 Minutes of Fame: Alex and Louis across a kid trapped under a giant pipe. Louis tries to lift it and Alex uses her powers to make it seem like he does in order to save the kid. The kid turns out to be the governor's son, promptly putting the spotlight on Louis.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Alex and Annie respectively.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Alex switches bodies with her mom, but it was All Just a Dream.
  • Free the Frogs
  • Fun with Flushing: Alex travels through plumbing pipes in puddle form.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Annie and Alex, though the rivalry itself takes a back seat to Annie's fascination with Alex's powers and Alex's reliance on Annie's smarts when she gets in trouble.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Alex ends up naked after morphing the first time, though of course nothing graphic is shown. Also, in a later episode, her aunt talks of how she made a jackass out of herself at christmas.
  • Government Conspiracy: Paradise Valley seems to revolve around Danielle Atron and the Paradise Valley Chemical Plant.
  • Haunted House: In the Halloween episode.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Dave, when he finds out Danielle Atron wants to kill the child he contaminated with the GC-161.
  • Hero Antagonist: Dave qualifies without knowing it. While he actively helps Danielle and Vince, he honestly thought he'd be helping "the accident kid." When he realizes both of them are corrupt and have no intentions of helping the kid, he secretly plots against them for the rest of the series.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: During the first season (and some parts of the second season), she frequently complains about her powers and wishes she never had them. Despite the trouble they get her into and the people hunting her down because of them, she grows to enjoy her powers. She even keeps them at the end of the series when given a chance to be normal, at least according to the lead actress.
  • Imagine Spot: Alex has a bunch, especially in the early seasons.
  • Inspector Javert: Vince is obsessed with finding the kid from the GC-161 accident, even after he's fired as head of security.
  • Jerkass: Louis in his initial appearance. He gets better over the series and evolves into a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Karma Houdini: In "The Feud" Ray almost sells Alex out to the plant, just because he's miffed she didn't invite him to a concert. He's never properly called out on this. YMMV on this though, since Ray reveals that he had no intention of selling her out, and pulled a Batman Gambit on Vince instead.
    • Vince himself, who is easily as much of a villain as Danielle Atron, as it is unknown what happened to him after his last appearance in the episode where Annie left for college.
  • Lab Pet: The bunnies are named and are never killed or dissected, not surprising as it is a children's show.
  • Lampshade Hanging: When Hunter and Alex are discussing what a kid would do if he/she was doused with the chemical, Hunter says "you'd be stupid not to" tell your parents. It was never clear why Alex never told her parents about her powers.
  • Lethal Joke Item: According to George Mack, GC-161 was intended for a mundane usage. note  Guess they need to go back to the drawing board with that one.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Annie, who's regularly a supergenius, falls apart around her new cute lab partner.
  • Love Triangle: Alex with her initial crush Scott and his girlfriend Kelly. Later on in the series, Scott's true colors come out when he gets caught in a lie about some volunteer photography work Alex had done by claiming her teacher hated them when in actuality the teacher loved them.
    • Also a non-romantic platonic example occurs when Louis first moves to town and becomes such good friends with Ray that Alex begins to fear that her own friendship with Ray was in jeopardy.
  • Luminescent Blush: Alex, literally, as a side effect of the chemical.
  • Magical Girl
  • Masquerade
  • Mind over Matter: Telekinesis is probably Alex's most used power.
  • Naïve Everygirl: Alex relies on her sister to steer her in the realm of her new super-powered life because she's only familiar with everyday mundane life.
  • Never Bareheaded: You almost never see Alex without some sort of hat on her head. Lampshaded as sometimes others even mention her frequent hat usage. It was also made fun of in a promo for the show, which featured a song called "Alex Mack wears a hat."
  • New Transfer Student: Louis.
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Alex, she even says "I was just another average kid until an accident changed my life" in the opening credits. It's also worth noting that she wore a similar outfit to the one mentioned in the description of this trope on the day she was soaked with the chemicals that gave her superpowers.
  • Parental Obliviousness: Rather selective. The Mack parents often notice the problem of the episode that Alex and/or Annie is having, but didn't notice Alex's powers or Annie studying her for four years.
  • Parents as People
  • Phlebotinum Breakdown: Frequently, usually when Alex gets exposed to foreign chemicals. Even getting the common cold messes with her powers.
  • Phlebotinum Rebel
  • Pick on Someone Your Own Size: Alex Mack and Danielle Atron. Also, in a couple fourth season episodes, Alex and school bully Jo. Jo didn't have any idea she was Bullying a Dragon, not that Alex used her powers when dealing with Jo.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Alex and Ray, a rare example of a platonic friendship portrayed realistically. In one fourth-season episode, Ray gains a girlfriend, and Alex grows jealous because Ray spends more time with his girlfriend than with her now. Both Alex's parents call her out on this, saying that Alex is acting like a jilted ex and has never been romantically interested in Ray, so she should be happy for him instead. Alex and Ray's girlfriend eventually come to terms because the girlfriend admits that Ray cares about Alex more than anyone else. It definitely helped that she helped Alex out when Jo (mentioned above) tried to bully her again.
  • Power-Up Food: Whenever Alex eats curry, she'd gain Super Strength.
  • Properly Paranoid: Louie doesn't take it seriously when Ray told him not to discuss Alex's secret at a cell phone. That's how Danielle's spies learn the secret.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: Alex has a prophetic dream in the finale of everyone learning about her powers, just before her secret actually gets out. Note that precognition has never been part of Alex's powers before.
  • Required Secondary Powers: When Alex turns into an amorphous puddle, she also can turn things she touches (usually her clothes) amorphous as well, though this takes at least some effort—the first time she tries it, she ends up naked. Also, she can still see while amorphous, despite no longer having any visible eyes, and can speak, despite lack of a mouth.
  • Romantic False Lead: Three of 'em, in fact, though two were only one-shot characters.
  • Searching the Stalls: Alex Mack once avoided detection this way: when her stall was opened for examination, she had liquefied and hid in the toilet bowl.
  • Secret Keeper: Annie and Ray, and later Alex's boyfriend Hunter Reeves.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: And, unbeknownst to any of them until the finale, Dave, the driver responsible for the accident. Dave himself found out without much effort.
    Dave: [watching from a distance] Don't worry, Alex. Your secret is safe with me.
  • Serious Business: The student council election Ray takes part in. Big Time! His opponent even runs a series of unflattering negative ads against him.
  • Shorttank: Alex.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Louis.
  • Snapback: Due to episodes not being aired in production order, there is a moment that seems this way. In one episode, Ray provides the plant with false evidence as to the identity of the accident victim (in order to get the $250 reward), and accidentally convinces Vince that he himself is the kid. He nearly gets vivisected, but Alex helps him escape. In the next episode, in which all of the students in Alex's school get one-day jobs at the plant as part of a project, Ray is working with Atron herself and Vince doesn't seem to recognize him. Later episodes actually have Ray covering his face as he walks past Vince.
  • Spiritual Successor: The 1999 family film P.U.N.K.S. from Alex Mack producer/writer/director Sean McNamara also focused on kids who gain super powers thanks to a secret experiment by a greedy corporation. It even has Louan Gideon (Danielle Atron) and John Nielson (Dave) pretty much playing the exact same characters. Former Mack guest star Jessica Alba also stars as one of the kids.
  • Split-Personality Merge: In one episode, Alex got a duplicate, who among other things, nearly killed her by trapping her in the basement of a building scheduled for demolition and later by trapping her puddle form in some clogged plumbing and waiting for her to either suffocate or reform while still inside the pipes.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: In the third intro, there is a small glimpse of this happening to Alex as, in narration, she explains what the people at the chemical plant want to do with her.
  • Super Serum: GC-161
  • Super Strength: A temporary effect after eating curry.
  • Teen Genius: Annie, though with a lot less angst most of the time.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Alex and Danielle Atron give these to each other in the series finale when Alex calls Danielle out for being a greedy, selfish person, and Danielle points out that Alex would've been able to stop her a long time ago if she'd just told the truth.
  • They Would Cut You Up
  • Those Two Girls: Alex's other friends, Nicole and Robyn.
  • ¡Three Amigos!
  • Tomboyish Name: She prefers it to her real first name, "Alexandra."
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Scott, whom Alex had a crush on from the start of the series, did this by lying to Alex about his opinion on her photography. This would definitely make it clear as to why he would spend more time with Kelly.
  • Toxic Waste Can Do Anything: Alex gains her powers after being splashed with toxic waste.
  • Unflinching Walk: Danielle Atron when the chemical plant explodes in the series finale.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Danielle Atron, though considered a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing by anyone who has met her, works to maintain a good public image.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: The "shape" being an amorphous puddle, but whatever.
  • What If?: Ray has an All Just a Dream episode where a bolt of lightning causes Alex's powers to jump to him and Alex has two What If? episodes: one where she switches bodies with her mother (making her mom have Alex's powers) and one where Alex sees what the world would be like if she were never born, which also includes her mom being the victim of the chemical accident that led to Alex's powers.
  • Wonderful Life: See Be Careful What You Wish For.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: At first, Danielle was interested in keeping the GC-161 child alive as a test subject. However, once the development of the GC-161 reached a level where having the child would be of no use to further development, she wanted the child destroyed.
  • You Killed My Father: Hunter Reeves's motivation for taking down Danielle Atron.


Example of: