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We pretend in the darkness, we pretend the night won't steal our youth...

"What is gen:LOCK, if not the next step in humanity's evolution? And you can be the first to see where it takes us."
Dr. Rufus Weller
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gen:Lock (stylized as gen:LOCK) is a Mecha web series from Rooster Teeth that premiered on the 26th of January, 2019. Unlike their other two flagship series, while the first episode is free for anyone to watch, the rest of the episodes are exclusive to FIRST members.

As a summary puts it: On the losing side of a global culture war, an Experimental Science Unit is pushed to identify a team of young pilots who can control a variety of prototype, next-generation mecha—giant, robotic, weaponized bodies. The recruits will find, however, that their newfound abilities come at no small cost.

The confirmed cast is as follows:

In addition to the actual show, DC Comics will be releasing a comic book series for gen:LOCK (as well as a series for RWBY) as part of a partnership with Rooster Teeth.

The series provides examples of:

  • Ace Custom: Every gen:Lock candidate begins with a "stock" Holon, seen when Cammie, Kazu and Valentina are starting out. After getting accustomed to using their Holons however, they are outfitted with color-differentiated armor sets, then are further customized to accommodate the candidates fighting styles. They're later completely overhauled by Cammie, once the attack on the Anvil forces the team to relocate to RTASA. Also true of Strider pilots, as Leon, Miranda and Jodie each have specific loadouts and paintjobs for their mechs, I.E Leon's single right shoulder rocket pod and Ace decal to the right of his cockpit, Miranda arm-mount double cannons and shoulder launchers and pile of kill marks, and Jodie's rocketpod arms and rotating shoulder turrets.
    • Chase is a former airforce pilot and functions better in their air, so his Holon is outfitted with wings courtesy of Migas and wields a custom machine rifle. Later his Holon outfitted with a more aerodynamic version of his first Vanguard Armor and is given an improved version of his winged jetpack as well as wrist-mounted rocket lauchers and missile pods on the wings for combat.
    • Yasamin's functions better in close quarters combat, with a propensity for dual-wielding firearms, so her Holon is given wrist mounted lasers. Later she also receives wings, and adds lasers to her eyes as well.
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    • Cammie has little experience with firearms and has a lower center of gravity compared to the others, so her Holon is given remote controlled drones with automatic aim assist. It also has hardware that lets her remotely hack enemy technology, befitting her hacking expertise. Later she adds shorter lagomorphic legs and rabbit ears, allowing her to jump higher and seemingly providing better control over her drones respectively (on top of the obvious aesthetic purposes) and also wields two machine pistols, grenades, and remote-controlled detonators.
    • Kazu functions best in melee combat, with a propensity for using whatever he can find as a weapon, so his Holon is first given a pair of short katanas. Later his Holon is outfitted with heavy-duty armor, designed like his (but more importantly Cammie's) favorite manga character RoboShogun, as well as a katana-esque BFS and shotgun.
    • Valentina functions best as reconnaissance and sniping, so her Holon is given increased optical sensors for long-distance scouting and sniping. Later she receives very light armor, stealth tech, and grappling hooks for quick relocation, as well as a long dagger for close combat.
    • Sinclair receives a dark blue Holon, but as a result of his kidnapping, he never gets to use it. Leon later pilots this Holon to buy time for the team, and as such the only customisation he possesses is the colour scheme on his Vanguard Armour and wields a standard machine rifle during the season finale.
  • Achilles' Heel:
    • The cyberbrains of the Holons, as they contain the actual minds of the pilots, are the only non-replaceable parts of the mech. Or rather, Dr. Weller chooses not to replace them. A backup copy of a pilot's mind can be created when they upload by using a spare cyberbrain, but when Chase and his Holon were captured on a mission during the Time Skip, he was forced to replace Chase with the copy. Dr. Weller decides to stop the practice out of ethics.
    • Due to limitations in range because of uptime, Holons have to be deployed on-site for a mission rather than traveling, meaning the pilots' bodies are vulnerable if they are not properly protected while uploaded. This comes up in Episode 6 when the gen:LOCK team is forced to abandon their defense of the Anvil because their physical bodies were in danger. Nemesis also attempts this tactic in Episode 8.
  • And I Must Scream: Weller is very concerned about making sure the Holon pilots never exceed uptime as it would trap the pilot's mind, preventing them from ever being able to return to their biological bodies. The Nemesis pilot is strongly implied to be trapped inside the mech, unable to return to their original body. After an experimental Holon mission went wrong, Chase was captured by the Union, his mind forever denied a route back to its biological body. The ESU kept a backup of Chase's mind and downloaded the backup into Chase's body. Meanwhile, the version of Chase who pilots Nemesis is a trapped and tortured soul, driven mad from being trapped in his Holon for years, what the Union did to him, and the feedback from the other pilots when uploaded, driven to try and kill Chase in the desperate hope that killing the copy will allow him to return to his real body. Unfortunately for him, Weller confirms that gen:LOCK technology just doesn't work that way.
    Nemesis: Why am I still here? Why are there new voices in my head!? Want out!
  • Augmented Reality: Referred to as mixed reality (MR) in-universe. Holograms and projected digital displays are commonplace to the point of replacing most everyday electronics such as tablets and televisions, several characters have Electronic Eyes that give them a personal HUD and translator, and the internet has been replaced with a virtual world known as the Ether, which is accessed with VR headsets.
  • Batman Gambit: When Weller is taken hostage by a Union agent, there is very little anyone can do to turn the situation around because the agent is able to use nanotech to keep everyone off his back. Weller is the one who realises he can use his situation to his advantage and overcome the Union agent. "Sinclair" tries to use Weller to obtain access to a Holon. Even though it'll leave his body behind, he'll still be able to get the Holon to the Union so that they can reverse-engineer it. However, Weller takes his abduction as an opportunity to establish that "Sinclair" wasn't the person he recruited to the program, but a replacement. As a result, this man is not gen:LOCK compatible. He therefore instructs everyone to allow "Sinclair" to get into a Holon because he's the only one who is familiar with the consequences of gen:LOCK incompatibility. Instead of stealing the technology, "Sinclair" ends up dying in agony.
  • Big Applesauce: Julian is from Brooklyn, and the first episode has NYC being attacked by The Union.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • In Episode 3, Madrani refers to her Holon as "Huma". In Iranian mythology, the Huma is a bird that is commonly theorized to be similar to a phoenix.
    • While being held hostage, Weller cheerfully addresses Yasamin as "Yaz-e man". Rather than a mispronunciation of her name, it's actually Farsi for "my Yaz".
    • When Cammie is learning how to walk in her Holon body she tentatively takes her first steps while singing "Happy Birthday" in Gaelic.
    • Much of the cast offers this - Cammie frequently peppers her dialogue with Gaelic, Valentina and Col. Marin have slipped in Russian and Spanish phrases, respectively, and in an unusual inversion, the Japanese-speaking Kazu exclaims "Woaaaah, Yes!", first when he crashes through a security wall and then when Chase's newly wing-suited Holon launches from a cliff right in front of him.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: Though Kazu speaks only in Japanese, it appears he can both understand and be understood by the rest of the cast, who speak English. This is done through Universal Translator AR technology.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Despite both Union and Vanguard troops being shot at, with some guns very capable of turning a normal person into glue, the only blood seen so far when "Sinclair" tries to steal the Holon technology and is killed in a particularly gruesome manner to illustrate the consequences of being gen:LOCK incompatible. This seems to only apply to gunfire, however – Valentina's knives create visible blood spatter when she throws them into a Union soldier.
  • Body Horror: During the Battle of New York, several Polity pilots are lost to the Union attack. The only one shown afterwards has suffered debilitating injuries. The Experimental Science Unit recovered Chase's body after his plane crashed because finding experienced pilots who are gen:LOCK compatible is too rare to dismiss. While Chase is alive, he's lost his entire lower body and right arm. He's confined to a life support tank, and the only way he can move around is by either mixing or uploading his brain to his Holon. Dr. Weller isn't certain whether Polity science will ever advance enough to help Chase fully recover, partly because of some nasty side-effects the Union nanotech caused when it ate away at his body.
  • Book-Ends: The first season begins and ends with Chase making a Heroic Sacrifice to buy his team mates more time
  • Brain Uploading: The goal of Project gen:LOCK: digitize a human consciousness and upload it into a computer brain inside a Humongous Mecha. Chase was the first subject to successfully undergo the process, Yasamin was the second.
  • Brutal Honesty: When the new recruits comment on Dr. Weller's excitable personality upon first meeting them, Yaz bluntly informs them that they're Weller's new "lab rats". Left behind with the new bemused recruits, Chase indicates that this isa normal part of Yaz's personality.
    Julian: It's cool. Once you get to know her, she's ... nah, she's pretty much the same.
  • The Cameo: In the first episode, Julian hides his jet between two buildings, and sees an old man in a wheelchair. Burnie Burns stated "that's my cameo", given the elder is an aged caricature of himself (in the 2068 that is the setting, Burnie would be 95).
  • Child Soldier: Discussed. Dr. Weller explains that gen:LOCK pilots must be below a certain age because human neuroplasticity decreases with age. Past a certain age, even gen:LOCK compatible pilots cannot safely use the technology. However, to make use of the technology, pilots need a certain level of combat and pilot training which means they won't be the teenagers that are common to most mecha anime. Of the core team, Chase and Yaz came into the program as fully trained pilots; the remaining recruits are all military trained, and old enough to drink. Cammie is the exception; as then youngest member of the group, she is only 17 and therefore underagenote . While she has no combat experience, she is a hacker and very skilled with technology. When Colonel Marin refers to the recruits as children, Dr. Weller is offended and objects to that description.
  • Color-Coded Characters: As seen on the official poster and the image at the top of the page, all of the confirmed gen:LOCK pilots are associated with a colour - specifically, the dominant colour of their mecha armour, as well as the colour they prefer to wear. Julian's colour is cyan, Yasamin's is gold, Cameron's is teal, Kazu's is red, Valentina's is purple, while Rob's is dark blue. This also extends to the two commanders; Colonel Marin's hair and uniform are both grey, while Dr. Weller chiefly wears brown.
  • Comically Missing the Point: During a mission briefing in Episode 4, Cammie's swearing causes Weller to complain about her language. She decides to ignore the point of his complaint in favour of a cheerfully sarcastic retort.
    Weller: Cammie! We have GOT to work on your cursing!
    Cammie: Why? I curse pretty well already.
  • Cranial Processing Unit: Averted but discussed. The cyberbrain is the most vulnerable part of the Holon technology. There are no back-ups for a pilot's mind, so if the cyberbrain is damaged, the pilot is doomed. The brain unit is not stored in a Holon's head, but inside a module that's placed in the centre of the chest behind an armoured entry panel. The Union initially appears to believe that the head is where that brain is located, but it quickly becomes clear they know exactly where the chest module is located. The fact they have somehow obtained this knowledge concerns both Chase and Weller. When the Nemesis mech first makes its appearance, it goes straight for Cammie's head, ripping it from her shoulders. It then pins the body to the ground and goes straight for the chest module. If it hadn't wasted time blinding Cammie by beheading her before going for the chest module, Chase would never have arrived in time to save Cammie's life. As it is, Nemesis still manages to rip open the entry panel before Chase arrives.
  • Creative Sterility: According to Holcroft, the Union is incapable of innovation, resorting instead to stealing technology developed by others. The fact that the regime targets "intellectuals" might have something to do with it.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: An incompatible subject attempting to undergo gen:LOCK, as stated by Weller, "might as well put [their] brain in a microwave." A Union spy who attempts to steal a Holon discovers this the hard way.
  • Cyberspace: The Ether, a virtual world that has evolved from the internet. Individuals access it with VR headsets, have customizable avatars, navigate it like a giant city, and use pop-up menus to interact with it.
  • Dark Is Evil: The Union is depicted with a dark colour scheme. Their signature weapon is "smoke", nanotech that manifests as a black cloud. Their technology is dark, so even when there are red or yellow accents, they're dull colours, combined with metal that is so dark it's either charcoal grey or black. By contrast, the Polity forces use paler coloured metal and more pastel-toned colours.
  • Drone of Dread: The signature musical score that accompanies Union attacks and technology is a menacing, discordant, electronic drone.
  • Electronic Telepathy: With enough practice, Holon pilots can learn to communicate with each other instinctively as a result of how the Cyberbrain they're all using works. Unfortunately, Nemesis is also able to communicate with the Holon pilots because he is Chase's original mind, captured while on an early Holon mission, and therefore running permanently on the GL network. It means he can track any of the other Holons whenever someone is uploaded.
  • EMP: The Polity's main defence against Union technology is an EMP weapon known as the Electronic Signal Disruption (ESD). In the show's opening battle, it is deployed to shut down the nanite swarm and a massive Union walker, while having a much more mild impact on the Polity's traditional military. However, the Union has learned how to detect the build-up of an ESD, and can intercept them before they detonate.
  • Evolving Credits: The opening sequence briefly flashes from Chase to Chase's actual body before the "Created by" credit.That is, until Episode 6, where instead it's a Chase clad in black and red, foreshadowing the reveal that Nemesis is equally powered by Chase's mind. And by season finale, it is the eventual holographic form Nemesis has in the episode.
  • Explosive Overclocking: The Holon pilots can take advantage of their Holon's cyberbrains to enhance their reaction times, but doing so uses uptime significantly faster as a cost.
  • Exty Years from Now: The story begins in the year 2068, almost exactly fifty years after the show's release (in the first month of 2019). Subverted midway through the first episode, which has a four-year time skip to the year 2072.
  • Flawed Prototype: Gen:LOCK technology was being developed to advance humanity, but the Polity insisted on weaponising it while it was still only experimental. Dr. Weller was forced to a single model design that was based on idealised ratios and therefore isn't guaranteed to suit individual pilots. Very few people are compatible with the technology; those who aren't will die, and even those who are will eventually age out of compatibility due to their brains no longer producing the neurotransmitters needed for the technology to work. Uploading to the cyberbrain is only safe for a short period of time (approximately 33 minutes), after which a brain is no longer neurologically compatible with the body it was uploaded from; pilots must physically travel to the combat zone to avoid wasting uptime on the commute. Overclocking to boost performance burns through uptime very fast, as does pilots modifying their own mental parameters to convey temporary stat boosts. Great emotional stress can also burn through uptime.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When the team and Dr. Weller are meeting for the first time, Valentina gently corrects people when they try to shorten her name to "Val." Later, it comes out that "Val" is the name Valentina goes by when they are male—hence, "Val" is their (current) deadname.
    • In various episodes of Weller's lab, a scribbled note saying 'Ship of Theseus?' can be seen. After Weller's presentation at the start of Episode 2, various Vanguard members can be overheard wondering whether Chase's holographic avatar is an AI based off him or the real Chase mixing in from elsewhere. Nemesis' appearance reveals that Chase was once captured by the Union during an early Holon mission. His original mind was captured and now pilots Nemesis while Chase's real body was reunited with a back-up copy of his mind that Weller had been keeping. Weller's 'Ship of Theseus?' scribble suggests he's been struggling with the concept of what makes a person really them while Miranda openly asks the question: who is the real Chase?
    • The title sequence lists David Tennant's name over a shot of Dr. Weller elbowing Caliban to catch the robot's attention. The seventh episode reveals that Caliban is also voiced by Tennant.
    • When Sinclair breaks into the gen:LOCK lab and sees Chase's inert body, he says "I know someone who who'd love to meet you." foreshadowing Nemesis and it's true identity.
    • Nemesis starts to show up whenever the team goes on a mission. Episode 7 reveals that he can use the mindshare network to track them when they upload.
    • When Cammie and Valentina mindshare so Cammie can spot for Val's sniper rifle through the smoke, Cammie uses a Russian epithet. When Valentina and Kazu mindshare, Valentina gets Kazu's memories of learning to play the guitar.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Colonel Marin receives a report on a possible intruder situation, the report she receives describes the incident that has flagged up the concern. It mentions how one SPC R. Sinclair failed to report for the gen:LOCK program. It sets up the reveal that Sinclair is actually a Union impostor sent to steal a Holon.
  • Gilligan Cut: In "Second Birthday", Weller resents Colonel Marin referring to the recruits as children. Cut to Caliban having to hold Cammie in place as she demands that they let her out.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: While the show is by no means averse to showing people being killed by nanobots, the camera usually cuts away before their bodies are completely dissolved.
  • Grey Goo: The Union's signature weapon, nicknamed "smoke" in-universe.
  • Hologram: Referred to as "mixing" in-universe, individuals can project a 3D digital image of themselves into an area, sometimes over great distances, and can see, hear, & speak through it. Since Julian was crippled in New York and is confined to his Holon tank, this is mainly how he interacts with the world.
  • Hot-Blooded: Kazu has a knack for disobeying orders, and talking back to his superiors. It got him demoted down to kitchen staff before he was recruited by the ESU. Colonel Marin even suggests this is likely why his unit is so supportive of transferring him.
  • Hour of Power: The pilots can only maintain gen:LOCK for a certain amount of time before it becomes too dangerous for them and they have to be downloaded back into their bodies. Overclocking the Holons or extreme emotional stress can eat into their time even faster. Once this limit is reached, the Holons will forcibly download the pilots back into their bodies, leaving the mechs useless.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: The suits the Gen:LOCK team wear boost strength, speed, and confer a number of other abilities as well as protecting the wearer from small arms fire. Kazu doesn't know that when he tries to take down a Union agent, and ends up speed-boosting right past his target to make an undignified face-plant into the wall behind him. Cammie also has trouble walking in her Holon at first because its proportions and centre of gravity are significantly different from her real body.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: A number of the characters appear to be physically modeled after their actors, most notably Cammie (Maisie Williams), Yasmin (Golshifteh Farahani), and Dr. Weller (David Tennant).
  • Invaded States of America: The first episode shows the Union launching a full-scale invasion of the continental US in 2068, with New York being one of the first cities to fall. The rest of the show occurs after a four-year Time Skip, where they've managed to claim about a third of the country, from the east coast to the 88th meridian.
  • Kill and Replace: When a Union spy posing as a Vanguard operative takes Dr. Weller hostage, Weller speculates that the only way this was possible is if the Union agent killed the real operative and replaced him. Sinclair is recruited to the gen:LOCK project, but the man who arrives at the Anvil is not Sinclair. After being discovered rather quickly, he takes Weller hostage in order to obtain Holon technology. While the spy becomes visibly annoyed by Weller's assessment of him, he neither confirms nor denies that he killed the real Sinclair. The Stinger to Season 1 reveals that Sinclair is still alive and has managed to escape captivity, but he's currently Trapped Behind Enemy Lines.
  • Made of Iron: The Vanguard's Hornbill Dropships, seriously. They've been shown to take pretty much anything the Union can dish out, short of Nemesis, and still fly, fight, and drop off their embarked troops. It's entirely likely the Hornbill design itself is a large part of why the Vanguard's managed to hold the line as long as it has. Pretty much the definition of Awesome Personnel Carrier.
  • Madness Mantra: Nemesis has two. "Want out" and "Kill the copy".
  • Mecha: Miranda is introduced piloting a "Strider" mech which wouldn't look out of place in BattleTech, whereas the gen:LOCK pilots upload their minds into Humongous Mecha which are fully humanoid in design. And then there's the Spider Tanks driven by the Union...
  • Mechanical Monster: The Union's "motherships", A.K.A., The Behemoths. They're the size of skyscrapers, can shield themselves and have turrets that will attack anything that gets too close. In addition, they also serve as carriers for tanks, drones, troops, and are the primary delivery system of the Union's nanotech swarms. Did we also mention that they will automatically target anything that's charging an EMP? They're also capable of quantum cloaking, making them impossible to detect, with one of them managing to get right up to the Statue of Liberty before being spotted. And, as a final kicker, they will release their nanotech swarms if crippled.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: The gen:LOCK recruits are introduced to their Holons when they're fresh off the assembly line and therefore haven't been customised. Although the Holons are given armour for their missions, they don't begin to receive customisations until after they encounter the Union mech, Nemesis, in the middle of the season. Only after the Union destroys the Anvil, forcing the gen:LOCK team to flee to the secret RTASA R&D base, are they given the full customizations that appear in the opening credits.
  • Missed the Call: The level of neuroplasticity required to pilot a Holon means that the pilots could end up having to leave the program after a certain age because the level of neuroplasticity decreases with age. Leon is gen:LOCK compatible, but Weller didn't recruit him because he's above the safe age-range. Subverted at the end of season 1, when Leon temporarily uploads himself into Sinclair's Holon and manages to save the team. Unfortunately, as predicted, this has dire consequences when Leon downloads back into his body, causing severe brain damage, a coma, and very nearly his death.
  • Mo Cap Mecha: Considering the pilots are controlling the Holons through Brain Uploading while wearing a body suit that moulds itself to their bodies, the mechs essentially operate as if the pilot is wearing mo-cap clothing. It enables the mechs to smoothly run, jump, and otherwise function like the human body.
  • Multi National Team: The main heroes and their commanders consist of members from many different nations: Julian and Rob are both American (Brooklyn and Kentucky, respectively), Yasamin is Iranian, Kazu is Japanese, Valentina is Ukrainian, Colonel Marin is Puerto Rican, and Cammie and Dr. Weller are both British (Scottish and English, respectively).
  • Mundane Utility: The team is shown to use their state of the art gen:LOCK pods as beds while on the run from the Union.
  • Musical Spoiler: The presence of the Union on screen is usually accompanied by a trademark drone. When the drone makes a slow, menancing crescendo, it's a hint that the Union is about to do something unusual. It heralds the first appearance of the Nemesis, a mech capable of fighting the gen:LOCK team.
  • Mythology Gag: A few jokes about Rooster Teeth and their work occasionally appear in the show.
    • The global map in a preview shows the United States without Florida, in a nod to the Red vs. Blue show. Also, both "ever wonder why we're here?" and "it's one of life's great mysteries", referring to the very first scene of that show, have appeared as lines of dialogue.
    • When Cammie drags the team into the Ether for some VR gaming, she tries to encourage them to apply theme skins to the group's avatars. When she suggests a 'fantasy warrior' theme, she clothes the team in costumes found within the RWBY show. Also, the extras in the background are recycled from the Mercs trilogy from Red vs. Blue: Season 14.
    • The research base RTASA has its logo written in the exact font used by the RTX convention; this is exactly the same 'worm' font used by NASA, which is the organisation RTASA appears to be based on.
  • Nanomachines: The Union uses nanotech swarms that can be controlled by individuals or used on a much grander scale. While used in either manner, the swarms will consume any non-allied organic matter they come in contact with.
  • No-Sell: Being autonomous units with no external input, Holons are immune to the Union's standard form of drone-subverter hacking.
  • Not the Intended Use: Dr. Weller repeatedly points out that gen:LOCK technology was never meant to be militarized, and that he had a number of other intended uses for it related to communication and helping humanity advance. However, the Polity stepped in and forced him to weaponize it in order to better fight the Union.
  • Obligatory War-Crime Scene: The Union has been shown to attack civilians without hesitation. Even shooting down retreating aircraft mainly containing civilians.
  • One Head Taller: Of the six heroes, five are roughly at the same height - and then there's Cammie, who's at least a foot shorter than them.
  • Phlebotinum-Handling Requirements: Very few people are compatible with the experimental titular gen:LOCK technology. Those who are not compatible will die painfully if they try to use it. As a result of the rarity, the Polity is stuck with the people it can find who are compatible, hence the undesirable group of individuals that have been brought together to pilot the Holons. All the early trailers involves Colonel Marin complaining about the science division's choice of pilots.
    Dr. Weller: Each of these recruits is one in a million!
    Colonel Marin: If you could improve gen:LOCK compatibility, we wouldn't have to rely on such sorry candidates!
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The Union's tactics are designed to eliminate enemies, but leave infrastructure relatively undamaged so they can use it themselves.
  • Race Against the Clock: The Polity's best estimates give Colonel Marin only 6 months before the Union completely pushes them out of North America, but the gen:LOCK programme is so experimental that only a few compatible subjects have been found to pilot the Holons, and none of them are desirable to the colonel. As a result, the ESU has recruited a Union defector, a disillusioned ex-spy, a teenage hacker, a rebellious cook, and a Vanguard pilot whose injuries are so extensive that he's required to live inside a life-support tank full-time.
  • Recruiting the Criminal:
    • Dr. Weller tells the Colonel that Yasamin Madrani is a top potential pilot, but she has to be signed to his custody from the Mesa Detention Center. The Colonel is not amused.
    • Happens again when Rufus identifies Cameron MacCloud and Iida Kazu as the next two recruits. Despite Madrani proving to be invaluable to their program, Colonel Marin is less impressed than before and flat out calls the pair "a hacker and a cook".
  • Sarcastic Confession: Leon orders Team gL to report to a debriefing session, and when Kazu bristles at the idea, sarcastically asks if he's expecting a party with confetti and the team's names on a banner. The "debriefing" is, in fact, a party celebrating the team's new callsigns, complete with banners and confetti.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Several characters are named in reference to Shakespeare's The Tempest. The only female in her Strider squad, Miranda is named after Prospero's daughter, the only female in the The Tempest; her call-sign is "Tempest". Dr. Weller's robotic assistant is named Caliban, named after Prospero's slave.
    • In Episode 2, Doctor Weller is annoyed at Chase jumping ahead in his presentation, reprimanding him for 'spoilers'.
    • An irked Weller threatens to re-write ABLE to speak only in Gilbert and Sullivan lyrics. He makes good on it, too; ABLE later informs the Colonel in sing-song about a "message from a modern major general."
    • Cammie is prone to making pop culture references. She accuses Weller of wanting the gen:LOCK recruits to "Luke Skywalker the war" for them and compares Holcroft to the 'Great and Powerful Oz' when he rattles off the history of each recruit when he first meets them.
    • In the Ether, one of the games is themed around 'fantasy warriors' and monster hunting; the outfits the team manifest when this setting is activated are from the fantasy, monster-hunting show by Rooster Teeth called RWBY.
    • Cammie's rabbit-theme carries over to her Holon, which is given the callsign Trixx.
    • When listening to Nemesis in episode 7, Chase tells it "Man, I'd pay real money if you'd just shut up".
  • Skunk Stripe:
    • Julian's black hair contains a few small, light blue streaks in his hair, mostly on the left-hand side.
    • Colonel Marin has steel-grey hair, but has white highlights coloured into the hair to give her hair a striped appearance.
  • Spider Tank: Seem to be one of the main weapons of the Union. The end of the official trailer shows a gigantic one as well. Refreshingly, the regular-sized tanks lack the "pointy ballerina feet" common in most examples of this trope.
  • Spoiler Opening: The Season 1 opening gives away a few plot points and appearance reveals. For example, the team discovering the Holons is customisable is treated as a reveal in the show, but the customised Holons are shown in the opening credits. Nemesis is also visible in the opening, but comes out of the blue for the characters in-universe. Sinclair is not shown as one of the core five pilots, but separated from the others; the shot of him is shown while the opening theme sings about a "lesser evil". In the show, he's the sixth pilot recruited to the gen:LOCK program, but is quickly revealed to be a Union spy who dies after a botched attempt to steal a Holon.
  • Stealth Pun: Cammie's Holon deploys drones to augment her targeting system, making it easier for her to shoot on target. She's literally a hacker using aimbots.
  • Stop, or I Shoot Myself!: Dr. Weller refuses to relocate to the safety of the Anvil until the Colonel approves his candidates' transfers, effectively holding himself hostage. Colonel Marin is utterly flabbergasted at this, and has no choice but to accept the new recruits in spite of their...unique backgrounds.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Caliban follows orders in absolute silence and gives no sign that it can talk until the seventh episode, when it suddenly starts to speak. The gen:LOCK team learn that Dr. Weller has been keeping it on a mute setting until that point. Caliban is one of Weller's earliest gen:LOCK brains and contains a sliver of Dr. Weller's mind. When it speaks, it sounds like Dr. Weller. Its attempts to mimic Weller's sense of humour is the reason why Weller activated the mute setting.
  • Super Robot Genre: While the regular military is firmly set in the Real Robot Genre, with conventional uniforms and fairly realistic "Strider" walkers, the Holons are superpowered machines piloted by a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits in sentai-colored uniforms, because the latter are the only people who can fit the gen:LOCK system. Though they are shown in episode 4 and on as having a "Camo" mode to at least make them somewhat less visible, and Val/entina's seems to have some form of giant "Active Camo Cloak" for her upgraded Holon to wear, befitting her role as the team's Recon specialist and sniper.
  • Switch to English: Averted; Kazu speaks only in Japanese. The rest of the cast is able to understand him because their cybernetics provide subtitling.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Justified. Since the Gen:Lock pilots communicate using direct mindsharing, they're essentially exchanging thoughts instantaneously. This allows for seemingly drawn out arguments and strategic deliberation in the middle of a fight.
  • Theseus' Ship Paradox: In Episode 6, this is written on one of Dr. Weller's whiteboards. This is likely because of Dr. Weller copying Chase's mind and wondering if backing up and duplicating a human consciousness means that he is creating an entirely new person, or if it is still Chase.
    • This becomes a stress point for Chase by the end, when he has given up returning to his body by staying in his Holon too long. He is now a digital backup of Chase's brain, no longer living in Chase's body, about to merge minds with four other people. How much of Chase will be left?
  • Time Skip: The show starts in 2068, when Chase and Worth are both 21. After the events of the first episode, there is a four year skip to 2072, which is when the majority of the rest of the show takes place.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Chase is actually a consciousness backup uploaded to the original's body after the original Chase was captured by the Union.
  • Toppled Statue: The pilot sees the Union launch an attack on New York. When a Union Behemoth walks into New York Harbor, it cements its threat by toppling the Statue of Liberty as it walks by.
  • Transhuman: Under all the mecha action, the series takes a shot at all the various sci-fi tropes of how humans can enhanced or modified and what make a person themselves.
  • Visual Pun: Cammie's signature colour is green. She's also the youngest member of the team with literally no combat or military training at all prior to being recruited by Weller. In military slang, "green" (short for greenhorn) is a term for a raw recruit with no combat or military training at all.
  • Voice of the Legion: The team speaks in perfect unison during their five-way mindshare against Nemesis, giving this effect.
    Team gen:LOCK: You have something we need.
  • Wave Motion Gun: The Anvil's command tower contains two massive, airliner-sized railguns called HAMMERs. It can two-shot kill a Behemoth in TEST mode! It can also fire ordinance over transcontinental distances.
  • Wham Shot: The post-credits scene to the Season 1 finale shows a Union soldier fleeing his patrol. He removes his helmet, revealing a badly-beaten Sinclair, having survived his Union abduction.
  • World War Whatever: The world is currently engulfed in a global war, and the preview mentions that the enemy, the Union, is gaining more territory, and the Vanguard has been reassigned to running defense only.

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