Follow TV Tropes


Series / Tower Prep

Go To

Cartoon Network's second hour-long Live Action show, created by Paul Dini.

Tower Prep is the story of Ian Archer, a teenager who has an ability known as Preflex, which allows him to see things before they happen. He has a tendency to get into trouble at school and one day, after a fight with a bully which sees him suspended, he finds himself in a mysterious preparatory school that no one knows the whereabouts of and is surrounded by many secrets such as the creatures that guard the school's off limits areas in the night. He befriends CJ Ward, Gabe Forrest, and Suki Sato. Together, they try to escape the school while also trying to discover the secrets of Tower Prep.

Part of Cartoon Network's attempt to combat Nickelodeon live-action shows alongside Unnatural History. It only lasted one season and was cancelled due to low ratings. Compared to most other contemporary live-action shows on Cartoon Network, however, it was relatively well-received.

This show contains examples of:

  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Headmaster taught Coach how to fight, so naturally he can kick ass if need be.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis. C.J.'s power, which allows her to analyze body language and handwriting to determine mood.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Gabe's hypersuasion. In theory it would be a very useful power to have... except almost everyone is somehow immune or resistant to it. It's likely that it doesn't work as long as the target is focused on ignoring it.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Ian, Suki, and CJ showing up to save Gabe from the Rooks in the finale.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Do not show Headmaster drawings of vintage vacuum tubes. Especially if they're pieces of the insane supercomputer that resides beneath the school.
    • DO NOT insult Gabe's friends.
  • Brought Down to Normal: The plot of "Election" is about a disease that causes this.
  • Brown Note: The one thing in common with every student's story of how they came to Tower Prep is hearing a peculiar noise followed by waking up at the school. In "Dreams", the source of the sound is revealed, as is the fact that the sound itself is what wipes their memory.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Suki to her father: "If my family built this school... Then I have no family. You are not my father."
  • Companion Cube: Senor Guapo to Gabe, to the point that Gabe says the toy monkey actually has spoken to him before.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Tower Prep is apparently run by an entire board of them.
  • Cosmetic Horror: In the "Book Report" episode, Ian encounters students that correspond with monsters from Classical Mythology. The student that corresponds to the hideous Medusa is a girl wearing a green facial mask and curlers in her hair.
    Ian: Have you ever seen a girl like that before? I mean, it was terrifying.
  • Doppelgänger Spin: Suki's brother, Shinji, can create at least one duplicate of himself by spinning.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Ian, full stop. Ray also seems to have a growing fanbase of girls, if the Tower Prep Wiki is any indication.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Rook leader in episode 5 is basically an evil Ian, complete with "preflex" as his power.
  • Evil Plan: Headmaster seems to be running one with Ian, since he's perfectly aware that Ian is trying to escape and doesn't see it as too much of a threat to his plans for Ian.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Ross, the girl who is Emily's campaign manager. What's even worse is that the end of the episode has shades of Operation Paperclip as Headmaster and Nurse decide to co-opt her ability to weaponize and upgrade Chemica Desin.
  • Fanservice: Ian. Can you tell the actor is a model?
  • Fictional Video Game: Treasure Bandits; the game that Ian was playing before waking up in Tower Prep. It uses in-game footage taken from FusionFall: Cartoon Networks' concurrent MMO at the time.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Due to overwhelming and persistent misuse, GCPTR is on-page examples only until 01 June 2021. If you are reading this in the future, please check the trope page to make sure your example fits the current definition.
  • Give Geeks a Chance: Norman and Penny Stosic, the former being a full-on geek.
    • "My hero."
  • The Game Plays You: Whisper 23 has Ian play a game which involves guiding a man through a pacman-like maze. For every life lost by the skulls acting as ghosts in the maze, Whisper 23 would shock one of his friends.
  • The Hero's Journey: Discussed in the sixth episode, "Book Report", specifically in regard to its relation with The Odyssey.
  • Ironic Nickname: Flash McNulty, the speed reader who does everything else very slowly. Mentioned by Ian.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Adverted nicely in some natural variety in the uniforms found at Tower Prep.
  • Mind Screw: The episode "Dreams" where people slip from dreams to reality frequently and nothing is as it seems.
  • Missing Time: None of the students have any idea of how they got to Tower Prep. CJ remembers literally nothing of her life before Tower. Possibly justified for CJ. It turns out she is Headmaster's daughter and hasn't seen her mom in years. This means she has probably been at Tower for the majority of her childhood.
    • This could also be a technological issue: either she's a lab rat for the mind-wipes, and an early version knocked out her memory, or she's just the victim of a technological glitch at some point (perhaps a trip to West Campus?).
  • Non-Action Guy: Gabe does not fare so well in a combat situation. Mostly he tries to use his ability to talk his way out or someone else defends him. The closest he's come is jumping on an opponent's back and holding him as someone else hits him. Ironic, given his actor is trained in martial arts.
    • Neither CJ nor Suki ever really shows any real fighting skill aside from the occasional blindside after Ian does most of the work.
  • Shout-Out: In episode 6, CJ describes the plot of the first Twilight novel when going on about vampires, followed by Suki referencing the second with werewolves. And, later in the episode, CJ reads something called Vampire's Last Gleaming.
    • In the season finale, Ian has the last Gnome in the group beaten into a daze. He then proceeds to FINISH HIM!!
  • Show Some Leg: The "sirens" in "Book Report" are three very hot chicks who can make men do whatever they want. This may be their actual power. Lampshaded when Ian calls on them to deal with a stubborn guard who Gabe can't hypersuade into obedience.
    Gabe: How come their hypersuasion works and mine doesn't?
    Ian: I don't think they're using hypersuasion. [continues staring at them until snapped out of it]
  • Slave Mooks: The Gnomes are implied to be this, since they are former students, though some students, such as Cal Rice, choose to become Gnomes.
  • Super-Senses: In several varieties:
    • Enhanced sight: Howard Gilmore (beyond visible spectrum) and Emerson Poencet (microscopic vision).
    • Enhanced smell: Hubert Kovalev.
    • Enhanced taste: Noelle.
    • Enhanced hearing: Cal Rice.
  • Super-Strength: Ray's ability. Comes with the Required Secondary Powers of enhanced toughness and resistance to pain.
  • Tagline: "Getting in is the easy part."
  • Vagueness Is Coming: In the last episode, the Headmaster reveals to the kids they are being trained for something. As the kids make their escape, Ian tells the Headmaster they will deal with whatever is coming, on their own terms.