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Series / The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

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Before the world discovered Indiana, Indiana discovered the world.

A television series featuring the adventures of the silver-screen archaeologist Indiana Jones in his childhood and teen years, wherein he had a remarkable tendency to keep encountering famous people and events. The series was conceived and produced by the films' co-creator George Lucas, who drafted a 70-item timeline of interesting moments in Indy's young life for writers to take story ideas from. The concept was inspired by the first act of the popular Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which depicted Indiana as a teenager.

It originally aired from 1992 to 1993, taking the form of hour-long episodes, as The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. The series principally showcased Indy at the ages of 9-10 (as played by Corey Carrier) and 16-up (as played by Sean Patrick Flanery). The Carrier episodes focus on Indy touring the globe alongside his parents as part of a world lecture tour given by his father, a noted medieval scholar. The Flanery episodes primarily deal with Indy's service in World War I, in just about every theater you can think of. In each episode, Indy would meet some famous person from the early 20th century, and learn some sort of moral lesson. Yes, Lucas very openly envisioned the series as edutainment.

Notably, the show aired in an extremely Anachronic Order, with Carrier's and Flanery's episodes often alternating. This may have hurt the series in the long run. The writers produced scripts for three seasons' worth of episodes, including some stories that would introduce more characters from the films. However, the show was cancelled after its second season, before those episodes could be shot. Nonetheless, four additional TV movies were later broadcast from 1994 to 1996, which incorporated some material from the various unproduced scripts (though not from the ones which featured more of the films' characters, sadly).

George Lucas prided Young Indy on managing a film-level quality production on a television budget, helped by revolutions in digital technology, and he has said that the show was partly a test to see how far he could take the later Star Wars prequels. Also like Star Wars, the series was subject to subsequent furious re-editing by Lucas, the new cuts first showing up during re-airings in the late 90s.

This re-cut version, with new footage added and other parts removed, is the only one currently available on DVD: it's known as The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones. The Adventures combines the original Chronicles episodes into two-hour tele-movies, two shows per film (often in a quite different, and much more strictly chronological, order than in the original airings). Again, some of the newly shot material was based on the unfilmed Chronicles scripts. In keeping with the show's semi-educational nature the DVDs also feature numerous well-researched half-hour documentaries, which place the historical personages and events of the various episodes in context.

A notable proportion of Indy fans, regardless of their opinions of the series as a whole, refuse to accept the Chronicles Framing Device, which depicts Indy as a one-eyed, possibly-senile nonagenarian (played by George Hall), pottering around suburbia and boring people with reminisces of his Glory Days. It may or may not be significant that the Old Indy sequences were the first thing to be thrown out of the Adventures release, although his hand can be glimpsed closing Indy's diary at the end of the closing titles. One special feature-length broadcast of the original series, however, featured Harrison Ford playing a late middle-aged Indy in its framing device; this scene is itself problematic as it contradicts some of what was seen more than a decade later when Ford next played the role in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil:
    • Manfred von Richthofen was very much so in "Attack of the Hawkmen". After shooting down the plane Indy was riding in and taking him prisoner, Richtofen invites him to have a nice lunch together.
    • Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck was also quite affable in "Phantom Train of Doom". Even while actively trying to evade capture by the Allied forces, Lettow calmly discusses military tactics with Indy; and even after finally being defeated, he gifts Indy with a compass to show no hard feelings.
  • Anachronic Order: The episodes were initially broadcast in anachronic order. For the home video release, they were re-edited and put in chronological order.
  • Artistic License – Geography:
    • The plot of "The Phantom Train of Doom" is kicked off when Indy and Rémy accidentally board a train to Moshi, Tanzania while trying to travel from Mombasa to Lake Victoria, and end up hopelessly lost in the middle of the savanna. In reality, Moshi and Lake Victoria are both west of Mombasa, and Moshi is about halfway between Mombasa and Lake Victoria — so a train from Mombasa to Moshi would travel in roughly the same direction as a train from Mombasa to Lake Victoria, and their initial mistake shouldn't have gotten them that lost. They also somehow end up passing Mount Kilimanjaro on the way to Moshi, even though Moshi and Mount Kilimanjaro are roughly the same distance from Mombasa.note 
    • In the first episode, Indy and Miss Seymour visit the pyramids of Giza and wind up stranded in the Sahara after their guides abandon them. But Giza isn't a remote area in the middle of the Sahara—it's a heavily populated suburb of Cairo. "Stranding" someone in Giza is akin to stranding someone in Long Island.
  • Artistic License – History: During the "Peking, March 1910" episode, Miss Seymour mistakenly pronounces the Qin Dynasty (pronounced "Chin") as the "Quin Dynasty", to which a Chinese guide promptly corrects her. This scene would imply that Miss Seymour was mispronouncing the Pinyin transcription of the name; in actuality, the Pinyin transcription of Chinese was not developed until the 1950s, and even then it took a few more decades before it became the universally accepted transcription in the west. At the time of the episode, the Wade-Giles transcription was the most commonly used romanization of Chinese, and transcribed the Chinese name of the first imperial dynasty as "Ch'in"; thus, Miss Seymour would have had no trouble pronouncing its name.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: Contrary to what "Peking, March 1910" suggests, acupuncture is near-universally recognized as a pseudoscience, and has never been proven effective as a treatment for illness. The idea that acupuncture could cure typhoid fever is questionable at best.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In "Florence, 1908", Giacomo Puccini tries to convince Anna to leave her husband for him, and tells her to meet him at the train station so that they can run away together. Then at the end of the episode, Anna shows up at the train station where Puccini is waiting for her; it turns out that she's there to greet Henry, who's returning from his lecture.
  • Bandito: "Mexico, March 1916"
  • Been There, Shaped History: Drinking with Pablo Picasso, losing his virginity to Mata Hari, inspiring the Red Baron to paint his plane red, helping Lawrence of Arabia take Jerusalem, killing Dracula, competing for a girl's affections with Ernest Hemingway and hunting Al Capone are just some of the less extreme contrivances in young Indy's life. If someone's famous in the 20th century, chances are Indy has befriended, antagonized or slept with them. Well, it was a historical edutainment show...
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: In "Benares, January 1910", Miss Seymour discovers (much to her frustration) that she can't convince Annie Besant that Charles Webster Leadbeater's psychic visions are fraudulent, even after she discovers an early version of his prophecies that proves it. Leadbeater smugly allows her to take his book of prophecies out of his office because he knows that no amount of evidence will convince Annie to question her beliefs.
  • Bittersweet Ending: A very common thing in this series. Indiana Jones isn't able to change the course of WW1 or human history in general. Very often, Indy Did Not Get the Girl or isn't able to save some of his friends.
  • Breather Episode: "Barcelona: May 1917", in which Indy meets a bunch of bumbling international spies (led by Monty Python's Terry Jones) and "Prague: August 1917", in which Indy embarks on a quest to install a telephone in his room...and meets Franz Kafka. The two are combined in the Adventures version as "Espionage Escapades".
  • Cassandra Gambit: "Palestine, October 1917": Indy and his Arab cohort stage an elaborate con in Ottoman-occupied Beersheba whereby they "reveal" that 50,000 Allied troops are about to attack, which the German liaison officer, Schiller, scornfully dismisses as an elaborate illusion; consequently, the Turks are less than fully prepared when said 50,000 men crash into their defenses. Lampshaded by the more savvy Turkish commander, Colonel Bey:
    Bey: An old proverb came to mind: "A skillful liar will tell his enemy the truth, and convince him it's a lie."
  • Character Development:
    • Watch the Young Indy series and see him slowly grow more and more cynical and wily, especially during his activities during WWI. The first time he shoots someone ever (during the Mexican Revolution) he actually apologizes afterward.
    • Young Indy has to learn his famous Indy Ploy the hard way, as when he does try to plan things out they never go as he intends.
    • In "The Treasure of the Peacock's Eye", the originally warm and joyful Rémy becomes chilly and unpleasant as he becomes progressively more obsessed with finding the titular treasure. Indy, meanwhile, gradually comes to realize that he cares more about learning about the past than about looking for treasure. This finally leads to the two friends breaking up, and Indy deciding to return home.
  • Continuity Nod: The Peacock's Eye is the diamond which Indiana Jones is seeking in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It adds a bit more to his treasure hunting that not only was he seeking something he'd been after for decades but lost two friends over.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • Some WWI episodes such as "Trenches of Hell" and "Demons of Deception", despite the Bloodless Carnage, still show a gritty picture of trench warfare.
    • "Oganga, the Giver and Taker of Life". While Indy and Rémy travel with an army unit from the Belgian Congo across the African frontier, many of their men become extremely ill and die, including Barthelemy.
  • A Day in the Limelight: One episode focusing on Indy and his father (Travels With Father, especially the second half), and two focusing on Indy and his mother (the second halves of both Perils of Cupid and Journey of Radience).
  • Deadly Gas: Indy witnesses poison gas attacks while serving in France. In at least one instance, the terror is amplified when flamethrower teams emerge from the gas cloud.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • In "Tangiers, 1908", the Jones family and Ms. Seymour arrive in Morocco, where chattel slavery is still legal. They have a debate with a local nobleman regarding the morality of slavery.
    • In "Princeton, 1919" and "Chicago, 1920", Indy encounters some racist hostility for being a white guy trying to befriend black people.
    • In "Hollywood Follies" while visiting a movie stage, Indy witnesses a snow scene being filmed, in which they blow powdered asbestos as snow to the face of the actress.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Zyke, the one-eyed thief from "Treasure of the Peacock's Eye", is initially implied to be the story's primary antagonist. He abruptly dies at the halfway point after being betrayed by one of his accomplices.
  • Downer Ending: A few episodes end on a less-than-high-note:
    • "Love's Sweet Song" ends with Indy's girlfriend rejecting his marriage proposal, and even failing to talk again just before Indy is sent to the front lines of World War I.
    • "Adventures in the Secret Service" ends with Indy failing to warn his Bolshevik friend activists that the Cossack army is waiting for them with guns ready, as a result one of his friends is killed.
    • "Mystery of the Blues" ends with the corrupt police chief burning the evidence that incriminates Capone and warning Indy not to meddle, a depressed Indy then starts playing the Blues.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Most of the first episode with teenage Indy is in Spanish with English subtitles, both from the Mexican characters and Indy himself. This is a severe contrast to later episodes where Translation Convention and Just a Stupid Accent is the norm, with foreign dialogue only present when the script strictly called for it (e.g. Indy showing his knowledge of the German language when he volunteers for intelligence gathering in the Western Front).
  • Edutainment Show: The time period of the show permitted many historical figures and events to appear, although significant liberties were also taken.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: In "The Phantom Train of Doom", the titular train is hidden in a tunnel inside a mountain, the entrance to which is disguised as a dead-end siding, with the tunnel door itself heavily camouflaged. The tunnel also contains living quarters for the train's crew and its detachment of soldiers, as well as a telegraph system to maintain contact with headquarters.
  • Establishing Shot: A given in a show like this.
  • Expanded Universe: The Chronicles spawned a 12-issue comic book series in 1992-3 from Dark Horse. These comics were more-or-less faithful adaptations of eight early Chronicles episodes, including the two-hour pilot. They even included the Old Indy bookend narration segments (although unlike his TV counterpart, the Old Indy of the comics doesn't wear an eyepatch, still having both eyes intact). There was one comic not based on an episode: Mid-Atlantic, April 1916 (placed chronologically between Mexico and Ireland).
  • Eyepatch of Power: Senior-citizen-Indy sported one of these over his right eye, complete with a nasty facial scar trailing out from beneath. Because of the large time gap between the present-day (well, 1990s) Chronicles framing segments and the 1930s period films, this is also an Eyepatch After Time Skip.
  • Genre Shift:
    • Taking an action film franchise and using it to create an edutainment series rankled a few people.
    • "Treasure of the Peacock's Eye" is an adventure story for its first two thirds, but takes a markedly dramatic turn toward in its last third. After tangling with double-crossing thieves and a gang of Chinese pirates, Indy and Rémy ultimately spend the last act contemplating life and philosophy with Bronisław Malinowski while living with a group of Trobriand Islanders. It culminates in a Bittersweet Ending when they realize that the Macguffin was just a stone, leading to the two of them parting ways.
  • Girl of the Week: To the point where he ends up dating three girls at once, and gets his face shoved in a cake for his troubles. Another episode sees him in a relationship with none other than Mata Hari.
  • Grail in the Garbage: "Young Indiana Jones and the Phantom Train of Doom" depicts German troops in Africa using their old documents as field expedient toilet paper, which the British exploit to gain valuable intelligence. Zigzagged, however, as the Germans are well aware of their "toilet paper's" usefulness to enemy spies, this is simply a convenient means of disposal that also alleviates a supply problem.
  • Great White Hunter: Theodore Roosevelt is portrayed this way in an episode set in Kenya in 1909. He kills dozens of rare animals in order to have them shipped back to America so that they can be displayed in museums, where ordinary people can come to be educated about them. Indiana eventually gets him to see the contradiction of someone who has such high regard for animals shooting so many of them.
  • Green Aesop: "British East Africa, September 1909", where Indy learns the importance of sustainable hunting after meeting former President Theodore Roosevelt, who's trying to find a rare fringe-eared oryx so that he can shoot it and display its taxidermized body in a museum. While Indy is unable to dissuade Roosevelt from killing the oryx, he convinces him to leave most of its herd alive so that the local population will be able to repopulate. He also proves that the oryx only became a rare animal because it depends on a local plant that was nearly wiped out by human development—demonstrating that all living things are connected.
  • Halloween Episode: Though not aired during the initial series run, "Transylvania, January 1918" seems to have been intended as one with its bookends of Old Indy with trick-or-treaters, supernatural plot, and the villain of the episode being a reincarnated Vlad Dracula.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Indy and Rémy.
  • Historical Domain Character: Indy meets many people who were already famous during his lifetime or would be become more famous in later decades.
  • Hotter and Sexier: The Mata Hari episode has a lot of bed scenes with her and Indy, and has her belly-dancing for his pleasure.
  • How Unscientific!: The Transylvania episode.
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: The... Eye... of the Peacock! THE EYE... OF THE PEACOCK!! Subverted, however, in that Indy and Rémy have to find the map on the guy's corpse rather than him giving it to them.
  • I Know Karate: Indy himself briefly, Northern-Style Kung-Fu to be exact, on the South-China seas.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Selous destroying an entire train in East Africa, with a single shot, from about a mile away!
  • Indy Ploy: We find out where Indy learned it from.
  • In the Past, Everyone Will Be Famous: Indiana Jones meets countless celebrities of his day. Some people who were already famous around the time he met him, others would become celebrities in later decades. Among them T. E. Lawrence, Winston Churchill, Joseph Joffre, Albert Schweitzer, Karl I of Austria, Charles de Gaulle, Mata Hari, Pablo Picasso, Sidney Bechet, Thomas Edison, Vladimir Lenin, George Gershwin, Princess Sophie of Austria-Hungary, Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Franz Ferdinand of Austria, Franz Kafka, Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, Sean O'Casey, Norman Rockwell, Krishnamurti, Annie Besant, Mustafa Ataturk, Giacomo Puccini, Erich von Stroheim, John Ford, Manfred von Richthofen (aka Red Baron), Anthony Fokker and Leo Tolstoy. Even that 6-year-old boy he saved from a smallpox-stricken village in Africa! note 
  • Irony:
    • The series' original airings ended with a Paramount Television logo that had a jingle that sounded like the theme to fellow Lucasfilm property Star Wars. It's actually a re-arrangement of "Paramount on Parade". During the time this series aired, Paramount owned the rights to Star Trek. All episodes of Star Trek series aired between 1987-2005 ended with a logo that used this jingle.
    • At the end of "Treasure of the Peacock's Eye", Indy and Rémy decide to part ways after Indy decides that he doesn't want to waste his life on a fruitless quest for the titular diamond, while Rémy refuses to give up looking for it. This is incredibly ironic if you know that Indy is the one who ultimately finds the diamond: the Peacock's Eye is the diamond from the opening of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  • Lighter and Softer: Almost any episode involving Kid Indy (played by Corey Carrier), which usually lack the violence found in episodes about Teen / Young Adult Indy (Sean Patrick Flanery).
  • Line-of-Sight Alias: When joining the Belgian Army underage under an assumed name ("Henri Défense", from "Défense de Fumer/No Smoking"). Rémy points out how dumb this is and explains that he didn't even have to do it in the first place as the Belgian army at the time accepted almost any able-bodied volunteer regardless of age or nationality.
  • Love Triangle: Between Indy, a young Ernest Hemingway, and a beautiful Italian girl. In the end the girl marries her childhood friend.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Probably not originally intended that way, but with as often as Sean Patrick Flanery takes his shirt off...
  • Ms. Fanservice:
  • Multinational Team: The 25th Royal Fusiliers in "The Phantom Train of Doom" include the British big game hunter Frederick Selous, the British spy Donald Parks, the Texan cowboy Bill "Big Mac" Macmillan, the Australian sailor Birdy Soles, the Kenyan tracker Mr. Golo, and the Hungarian circus performer Zoltan—plus Indy, a hapless American teenager serving in the Belgian Army.
  • Musical Episode: Both "Mystery of the Blues" and "The Scandal of 1920".
  • New Job as the Plot Demands: Done in the name of Rule of Cool, and to allow for a greater variety of stories. Indy's service in World War I sees him fighting in the Western Front, the Eastern Front, the African theatre, and the Palestine Campaign—and he serves as a soldier, a motorcycle courier, a fighter pilot, and a spy (in that order). There weren't many real World War I veterans who served in that many roles.
  • Noodle Incident: The history of the eyepatch.
  • Nostalgic Narrator: Senior-citizen-Indy. And, in "Mystery of the Blues", MOVIE Indy.
  • Oireland: The episode featuring the Easter Rising. Humorously, the first half or so of the episode consists of Sean O'Casey and Sean Lemass complaining about the stereotypical "Oirish" portrayal of their nation, then drops straight into the same stereotypes that were lambasted earlier.
  • Old Soldier: Four soldiers still fighting on the Allies' side in Africa in The Phantom Train of Doom movie.
  • Omniglot: Following the advice of T.E. Lawrence, 9-year-old Indy takes care of learning the local language of every country the family visits during their world tour. At 16 he engages in a duel of languages with the daughter of a diplomat, but loses because he can't speak Welsh. Later in the series he has a similar exchange with an American Intelligence officer, and forces a draw by using sign language.
  • Once per Episode: If you're watching one of the Corey Carrier episodes, Indy will almost certainly sneak away from his family at some point to go exploring (most likely while he's supposed to be studying).
  • Paranormal Episode: "Transylvania, January 1918" involves Indy and a team of spies visiting an apparently haunted Transylvanian castle and trying to find a rogue Romanian general, who is heavily implied to be some kind of Dracula-style vampire.
  • Parents as People: The series isn't shy about portraying Indy's parents as three-dimensional human beings with their fair share of virtues and flaws. Henry is a frequently grumpy and humorless man with a bit of a temper, and Anna (briefly) contemplates having an affair.
  • Phony Psychic: Charles Webster Leadbeater, the leader of the Theosophical Society, is strongly implied to be one in "Benares, January 1910". Miss Seymour attempts to expose him after discovering that he heavily edited his "prophecies" to make his benefactors happy.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The team of Allied spies Indy meets in "Barcelona: May 1917" are initially operating this way - they tell Indy that it's easier to hang out in the same bar and get drunk with the city's German agents instead of faffing around with a bunch of cloak-and-dagger nonsense. Naturally, Indy's arrival causes some espionage hijinks to ensue.
  • Planning with Props:
    • One of the WWI episodes used this to explain the complicated tangle of alliances and old grudges that set off the war. One notable segment had Austria (salt shaker) threatening Serbia (plate of meatballs) depicted by salting and eating the meatballs.
    • In another episode Indy and his Bolshevik friends illustrate the differences on the distribution of wealth between Feudalism, Capitalism, Socialism and Communism by cutting Indy's birthday cake in different sized slices... and then one guy illustrates Anarchism by grabbing the entire cake.
  • Pocket Protector: In "Oganga, the Giver and Taker of Life", courtesy of the locket that Indy got from Princess Sophie as a child. It leads his native Askari soldiers to believe that he has supernatural powers.
  • Posthumous Character: It's established in "Peking, March 1910" that Indy had a younger sister named Susie who died at a young age (presumably of illness) before the events of the series. When Indy catches typhoid, he worries that he's going to die young "like Susie".
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The Germans (in this case Imperial Germany) reprise their original films' role as antagonists. Justified, as the stories are set during World War I where the Germans fought against the Allies.
  • Puppy Love: Eight year old Indy and Princess Sophie of Austria-Hungary.
  • Rank Up: Indy starts out in the Belgian Army as a corporal, but he and Rémy are both promoted to lieutenant as a perk after being transferred to East Africa, and Indy is later promoted to captain after helping capture a German machine gun nest in a battle in Kenya.
  • Re-Cut: In the original Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, each show began and ended with short scenes featuring a 93-year-old Indy (with an Eyepatch of Power) circa 1992. He'd narrate adventures from his youth—the titular "Young Indy" stories, here told in flashback—to basically anyone who'd bother to listen (and some who didn't). However, in the later Adventures re-edits, the Old Indy segments were edited out entirely. Instead, newly (and often, poorly) shot linking footage, starring the other original members of the Young Indy cast (that is to say, the characters from the around-WWI era) was used to bridge the gaps. The recut also removed Old Indy's daughter and grandchildren, leaving their canonical existence uncertain (especially in the light of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which gives Indy a son but as yet no daughter).
  • Red Right Hand: By the time Indy meets Demetrios again in Mexico, he has lost a hand and is nicknamed "Claw".
  • Refuge in Audacity: Selous' plan to "infiltrate" the German camp in The Phantom Train of Doom pretend to be drunk, and brazenly swagger into the camp drunkenly singing "O Tannenbaum". It never occurs to the Germans to check to make sure he and his companions are actually on their side.
  • Ruthless Modern Pirates: In "The Treasure of the Peacock's Eye", while Indy and his friend Rémy are traveling on a cruise ship through Southeast Asia in 1919, the ship gets attacked and robbed by Chinese pirates. The pirates' leader is a woman who was disguised as a singer, entertaining the passengers (and took a liking into Rémy) until her men boarded the ship.
  • Scenery Porn: The series loves to linger nostalgically on famous landmarks as establishing shots for the country of the week Indy is adventuring in. The series was intended to be semi-educational. Notably, though: since the showrunners still had to work with a small fraction of the budget that the films had, many of the establishing shots are clearly stock footage.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: In "The Treasure of the Peacock's Eye", the local barfly Lily tells off a wealthy (crooked) man that "money doesn't excuse bad manners" and walks off in anger.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!:
    • In the first part of "Demons of Deception", Indy purposely crashes his motorcycle that's carrying a message to an army commander with orders to start an attack that intelligence knows it's going to be useless and will result in hundreds of allied casualties.
    • In "Oganga the Giver and Taker of Life", Indy refuses to leave behind a child who's the sole survivor of a plague-ravaged village, and defies his superior officer for it.
    • A smaller one, but in the second half of "Journey of Radiance", Anna gives money to the man the Chinese family they are staying with is in debt to. She's told not to at first, but insists on repaying them for housing her and her son when Indy was gravely ill.
  • Shout-Out:
    • When Indy and a couple other men have escaped from the Austrian secret police by hiding in the sewer, one of them remarks "What an incredible new smell you've discovered!"
    • There's a throwaway gag in "Attack of the Hawkmen" where Indy, after being captured, has been invited to dinner by Baron von Richthofen:
      Von Richthofen: [snaps fingers] Sergeant! Pepper!
    • Part of the "Prague, August 1917" episode involves Indy (who's just trying to get a phone installed so he can take an urgent call) struggling with insane bureaucracy and even being arrested, tried and jailed for no very good reason. note This is a massive Shout-Out to Franz Kafka's The Trial - not surprising, since Kafka later turns up as a character - but very much Played for Laughs, as is the entire episode.
    • In the same episode Indy's espionage contact is an incompetent buffoon with a strange accent... who's named Clouseau.
    • Indiana Jones' best friend during his days in the military is a Belgian named Rémy. This could be a shout-out to Tintin creator Hergé, whose real name was Georges Remi. Steven Spielberg became a fan of Tintin after people told him Raiders of the Lost Ark had the same atmosphere as the Tintin comics. He had never heard of it, bought an album and was immediately hooked.
    • The first half of the Congo storyline (aka Oganga, The Giver And Taker Of Life) has a lot of parallels both to Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Apocalypse Now, with Indy's regiment going through a long trek through the jungle and down the Congo river that increasingly threatens everyone's sanity. Both films draw heavily from Heart of Darkness, which was also set in Africa.
    • "Treasure of the Peacock's Eye" was pretty clearly inspired (at least in part) by The Maltese Falcon. The titular Macguffin was supposedly once part of a priceless gold statue of a bird with diamond eyes, and the villains plan to sell it to a mysterious figure referred to as "The Fat Man". And just like in that film, it ultimately turns out that the Macguffin wasn't really the priceless treasure that the characters thought it was.
  • Sick Episode: "Peking, March 1910" (included in the film Journey of Radiance), where Indy catches typhoid fever in China.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Rajendra Singh, the treasonous Indian soldier in "Treasure of the Peacock's Eye". He's killed in the first few minutes of the story, but the entire plot is kicked off when Indy and Rémy find the map to the titular diamond in his pocket.
  • Spinoff Babies: Of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, showing young Indy and his father. Had the third season been filmed, we'd also have been treated to a younger Belloq and the first onscreen apparition of Abner Ravenwood.
  • Start My Own: In The Phantom Train of Doom, one of the Old Soldiers tells Indy they formed their own unit since all the conventional army units considered them too old to fight.
  • Stock Footage: Noticeable in battle scenes, which often feature shots inserted from war films. There is also the occasional recycled footage from the series itself (in one episode with teenage Indy in Paris, you can see briefly see Indy's father and childhood nanny on a carriage from the time they visited it during the World Tour).
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Despite taking place in the same universe as the Indiana Jones films, the TV series take a much more grounded approach to history for the most part. There's only one episode which involves the supernatural (Masks of Evil), and sometimes Indy doesn't save the day or achieve a decisive victory.
    • Indy's attempts to join the war and heroically fight against German aggression prove to be pointless. The conflict is a Gray-and-Gray Morality battle that ends indecisively.
    • In Adventures in the Secret Service, Indy spies on his Russian communist friends, as per orders from the French secret service. They find out about this and want nothing to do with him anymore, even when his position allows him to know about an upcoming massacre of a communist demonstration by Cossack soldiers. It ends badly.
    • In The Treasure of the Peacock's Eye, Indy believes he can track down the titular gemstone that belonged to Alexander the Great. Indy might be an intelligent Adventurer Archaeologist in training, but the Peacock's Eye is an immensely valuable relic that was looted by treasure hunters centuries ago, and has traveled far ever since. Indy could spend the rest of his life following up leads and never find it. It also sours his friendship with Rémy, who invested his fortune backing Indy's hunch. Made more poignant when you realize the intent is that it is the diamond in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom that Indiana went to elaborate lengths (including losing a friend) for, only to fail to recover the item again.
    • Indy tries to reign in Erich Von Stroheim in Hollywood Follies, but finds the film crew turning against him, and the director fully capable of leaving him in the dust. The fact he just walks in and tries to order people around works about as well as you'd expect.
  • Tactful Translation: While fighting in the Mexican Revolution, Indy is tasked with translating the Title Cards of captured American silent films and newsreels. When the reel turns to the revolution from an American perspective, Indy attempts to play off the footage as respectful to Pancho Villa, but fails: the revolutionaries shoot up the theater.
    Title Card: To the Halls of Montezuma! US troops sweep into Mexico.
    Indy: US troops ... pay a courtesy visit to Canada.
    Card: General Pershing: "We shall soon have that cowardly bandit Pancho Villa on the run."
    Indy: It says General Pancho Villa ... is a great man.
  • The Team: The 25th Royal Fusiliers in "The Phantom Train of Doom" are a special group of volunteer soldiers who all have their own unique specialties and areas of expertise. There's Selous (The Leader), Parks (strategist and second-in-command), Birdy (naval expert), Zoltan (knife expert), Golo (expert tracker), Big Mac (Demolitions Expert), and Indy (translator and train expert).
  • Translation Convention: For simplicity's sake, most of the episodes set in Europe during World War I feature the actors speaking English, but with the characters clearly meant to be speaking French or German. For example: when Indy meets Charles de Gaulle in "Germany, Mid-August 1916", De Gaulle initially suspects him of being a German spy because he doesn't speak French well enough to be a native speaker.
  • Timeshifted Actor: Corey Carrier as Very Young Indy, Sean Patrick Flanery as Young Indy, George Hall as Old Indy. And, for one episode only, Harrison Ford as No Longer Young But Still Not Old Indy.
  • Toilet Paper Substitute: In "The Phantom Train of Doom", German troops use old memos and other documents, actual toilet paper being virtually impossible to acquire in World War I East Africa.note  Knowing this, Indy and his comrades raid a German latrine for intelligence.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Both Indy and his father take this opinion of Indy's mother after her death. Notable because one episode is all about showing her as a regular person who is tried and tempted (notably, with cheating on Henry Sr. with Giacomo Puccini) and makes mistakes like anyone else.
  • Tuckerization: Rajendra Singh, the treasonous Indian soldier from "Treasure of the Peacock's Eye" (the guy who Indy and Remy find carrying the map to the titular diamond), may have been named after Raj Singh, the child actor who played the Maharajah in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
  • Two-Timer Date: Actually three-timer in "The Scandal of 1920"
  • Überwald: "Transylvania, January 1918"
  • Vampire Episode: "Transylvania, January 1918" has Indy traveling to the eponymous region and facing off against a rogue Romanian general/nobleman named Mattias Targo, who believes himself to be the reincarnation of Vlad the Impaler, but it turns out he's an authentic vampire (probably the real Vlad Tepes himself). An uncommon episode, considering that it's the only one of the entire TV series to have supernatural elements (despite the fact that magic is known to exist in the Indiana Jones universe).
  • Vast Bureaucracy: In "Prague, August 1917" Indy encounters these in Austro-Hungarian Bohemia, and is driven mad with frustration (Franz Kafka has a small role there). Although the bureaucrat in charge of dealing with bureuacratic errors is actually quite helpful — his department even issues simpler forms.
  • War Is Hell: In "Spring Break Adventure" Indy writes to Ned about how he wishes he could be in the war and it's mentioned that Ned wants to see action. The series shatters Indy and Ned's idea that War Is Glorious throughout the series by showing the horrors of the trenches, machine guns, artillery, chemical weapons, and disease culminating in "Winds of Change" where it's shown how badly the war has broken and changed Indy and Ned.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Just like in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy has a strained relationship with his father; In his early years his father was a stern but loving family man if a little emotionally distant, but after Indy's mother died his father in grief shut himself in his work. More poignant in the episode when after being away for several years fighting in WWI Indy returns home and is received by his father as if he just left the last week.
  • Wham Episode: "Treasure of the Peacock's Eye" features both the death of Miss Seymour and Indy and Rémy's friendship ending. Indy is never quite the same after either event.
  • Where's the Kaboom?: Happens twice in "The Phantom Train of Doom": first when the bombs' timers fail (forcing the team to hijack the titular train in order to blow it up), then when the bomb attached to the train's cannon fails to explode thanks to Indy carelessly letting Big Mac's detonator caps get wet. Selous is forced to improvise a Plan B, and manages to blow up the train by shooting the rigged bomb from a distance with his hunting rifle.
  • White Man's Burden: Discussed in "Oganga, the Giver and Taker of Life". Indy, serving as an officer in the colonial Belgian Army, is honestly convinced that European rule can benefit Africa. But one of his Congolese troops, Sgt. Barthelemy, knows better and points out that the war is nothing more than competition between European empires for control of African land, and regardless of who wins, African people will get the short end of the stick.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: This series reveals how idealistic Indiana Jones was in his youth, often to the point of naivety.
    • As a preteen kid, he was too innocent and frequently wandered off on his own to explore the amazing world around him, often being oblivious to the potential dangers waiting for him.
    • As a teenager, he decided to volunteer as a soldier and spy in World War I, acting under the belief that he was doing something very heroic by fighting on the Allied side. But some traumatic experiences gradually erode his prior beliefs, especially in realizing that the conflict was far from being as black-and-white as he thought it was.
  • Won the War, Lost the Peace: How the first act of "Winds of Change" ends.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: Played with in "Young Indiana Jones and the Phantom Train of Doom". Indy is decidedly nonplussed when ordered to risk his life behind enemy lines for "toilet paper"... until he learns that lacking real toilet paper, the Germans have resorted to using old documents from which he and his companions can gain valuable intelligence.
  • Worthy Opponent: Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck in the East Africa episodes.
  • You Are in Command Now: In "Trenches of Hell" Indy ends up being in command of his unit as all superior officers are dead.
  • Young Future Famous People: A few of the historical figures in the show are introduced before they were famous. For example: Charles de Gaulle is introduced as a common French soldier, T. E. Lawrence first shows up as a young assistant on an archaeological dig in Egypt, Ernest Hemingway shows up as a Red Cross ambulance driver in Italy who competes with Indy for a girl's affections, and Ho Chi Minh is a waiter.

Alternative Title(s): The Adventures Of Young Indiana Jones, Young Indiana Jones