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Series / Unnatural History

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From the left: Maggie Winnock, Henry Griffin, and Jasper Bartlett.

Part of Cartoon Network's attempt to combat Nickelodeon's live-action shows along with Tower Prep. A 2010 live action show on Cartoon Network about a globe-trotting teen named Henry Griffin who must now adjust to living in Washington, D.C.. and attend Smithson High School, which is connected to a museum. Along with his cousin Jasper and their schoolfriend Maggie, they solve history's mysteries. Unlike many of Cartoon Network's live-action series, it was reasonably well-received, but this unfortunately did not translate into high ratings—it only lasted one season and was cancelled due to low ratings.

This show contains examples of:

  • Academy of Adventure: Smithson High is one especially since the "DOUM Room" has many undocumented artifacts of the National Museum Complex.
  • Bound and Gagged: The Villains Of The Week in this show employ this relatively often, one example being in "Maximum Insecurity" when Jasper is tied to a chair and gagged with his own sock while being held hostage.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: In "Curse of the Rolling Stone," Hunter gets a hold of the allegedly cursed ruby that Henry and Jasper are looking for. Hunter willingly gives it back to them, saying that no one would believe all of the bad luck he's had in just the short time he's had possession of it. As Hunter walks away down the hall, we see that the back of his jeans are torn, partially revealing his tighty-whities to everyone he passes in the hall, who all laugh at his exposed underwear. We're left to assume that the bad luck from the ruby caused him to somehow rip his jeans.
  • Counterfeit Cash: The money found at the end of "Public School Enemies" is counterfeit.
  • Edutainment Show: Sometimes, such as in "Griffin Gang" and "Sleeper in the Box," which were based on the Pony express and Sputnik, respectively. Other episodes... not so much.
  • Elaborate University High: Surprisingly averted. Smithson High is reasonably sized, considering the fact that it's connected to a museum.
  • Fanservice: Seeing Maggie wearing an old west showgirl dress in "The Griffin Gang". Until Jasper makes her show those ugly teeth dentures...
    • The show seems to find any excuse it can to get Henry shirtless. Even when he's not shirtless, we still get plenty of glimpses of tummy due to the fact that pretty much every acrobatic move Henry does culminates in his shirt riding up - usually quite a bit higher than the move would normally result in, but hey, I don't hear anyone complaining.
  • Female Gaze: After it's mentioned in a roundabout way that Henry goes commando ("It's a formal dance Henry, so wear underwear!"), the camera follows his bum as it walks upstairs for a little longer than necessary.
  • Fish out of Water: Henry lived in pretty much everywhere on Earth except in urban society.
  • Green-Eyed Epiphany: Jasper spends most of one episode in a jealous sulking when he suspects that Henry's taking Maggie to the eclipse viewing. What happens is much worse.
  • Lampshade Hanging: "Henry, please tell me you've been in the exact same situation before and have some kind of astounding escape plan." He does.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Anyone who's ever been to Washington, D.C.. knows that it's not the National Museum Complex but the Smithsonian or the National Mall.
  • Le Parkour:
    • Part of Henry's basic skillset. This does beg the question of how he knows it if he's never really lived in a city, but let's chalk it up to Rule of Cool.
    • It's more of a case of All There in the Manual. On the website it explains that Henry learned parkour in Paris, probably only visiting.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • An Adventurer Archaeologist named Henry. Where have I heard of this before... Also, Smithson High is named after the founder of the Smithsonian Institution, which, as every good Indy fanboy knows, keeps the dangerous magical artifacts out of the hands of the crazies. In real life, the Smithsonian is simply the largest museum in America; pious skeptic Ales Hrdlicka's been dead longer than most people here have been alive.
    • There's Sven Erickson who studied the impact of vikings on American history. Considering the most well known viking is Leif Ericson...
  • Mighty Whitey: Henry has apparently lived with members of every African and Asian culture and excelled at all their skills, though we don't know how good he was in comparison to the natives. Of course, this does leave him with problems being a standard North American teenage boy. It's not clear if this is supposed to be a Deconstructed Trope or not.
  • Nobody Here but Us Birds: Played straight to lure the bad guys around the museum in "Maximum Insecurity". Well, they thought it would work, till Jasper fails to do so. Played straight later in the climax.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Jasper's known Maggie almost all his life. When he asks her out, she just stares at him and walks away.
  • The Unreveal: "Maximum Insecurity" started off with Jasper and Henry making a deal that whoever got the better exam scores would plan their weekend. After an offer from Mr. Bartlett to excuse them from taking the test so they could fit in both plans, Henry refuses because he'd already studied so hard. We never see how the boys do. Most assume Henry got the better score.
  • Wham Line: From "Now You See Me", after E.W. leaves:
    Matt: Huh, weird. Houdini's real name was Erik Weisz.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Henry is scared of driving after crashing a jeep in his childhood. He gets over it.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Henry has absolutely no problem with hitting the first episode's villain. It helps that she has, by this point, tried to kill him multiple times.
  • You Wouldn't Believe Me If I Told You: Said word-for-word by Henry to Dean Bartlett after the outbreak is cured in "The Griffin Gang."