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Western Animation / Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot

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What would you get if Optimus Prime was the hero and mentor of Astro Boy? We're not sure, but this series evokes that question. Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot (1999-2000) was an animated television series produced by Sony Pictures Television for Fox Kids, based on the comic book. The Big Guy was the old warhorse robot superhero who was to be replaced by an all-American Rusty; however, Rusty's inexperience forced the Big Guy back out of retirement to serve as Rusty's mentor and partner. Complicating matters was the fact that the Big Guy, Rusty's hero and role model... wasn't actually a robot. Unable to develop a working AI in time, the government secretly converted it into a Powered Armor, piloted by Lieutenant Dwayne Hunter, who poses as the Big Guy's mechanic to the outside world. The secret has to be kept from Rusty, as well, for fear of what the shock might do to his mind.

The series was based off a 1995 comic book mini-series written by Frank Millar and illustrated by Geof Darrow. As the mini-series was only two issues long, the show expanded quite a bit on the lore and characters.

Tropes in this work.

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: For the most part if the robot doesn't have an emotion grid like Rusty they turn out to be evil. And even when they do, there's a pretty good chance they're less than stable, as with Number Six.
    • Big Guy started out this way. Apparently his AI software was never completed to satisfaction, but the hardware it ran on was left intact. This becomes a problem on occasion.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Zigzagged. Some don't, like the Squidillians which ironically have a Starfish Language. Some do like the Mechanical Lifeforms which accidentally make Rusty more "human," including being able to feel pain when "repairing" him, and their enemies who hunt them (which Big Guy and Rusty later fight), and notably Po, the Obliterator.
  • American Robot: Big Guy wears this on his sleeve, despite having an almost completely white paint job. It's not clear whether Lt. Hunter's plays up the Eagle Land aspect on his own or under orders, but the trope comes out in Big Guy's speech as well.
    • Same with Rusty, who has the Red and White going for him. Doesn't quite have the speech down pat yet, though.
  • Adaptational Badass: Rusty. In the comic, he existed only to get stomped flat by monsters and annoy Big Guy. While he still does that in the cartoon, he manages to become a genuinely effective (and likeable) character.
  • Animation Bump: "The Lower Depths" possesses much higher quality animation than most of the other episodes.
  • Artistic License Ė History: Multiple in "Patriot Games."
    • George Washington is prominently featured, even though he did not become involved in the American Revolution until months after Lexington and Concord, and even so, he was at his home in Mount Vernon at the time.
    • British!Slate explains that "Iron Jack" led the British to victory at Lexington and Concord, then Fort Ticonderoga, before exploding at Bunker Hill. Assuming that the British and American campaigns were unchanged despite Iron Jack's presence, the Battle of Bunker Hill occurred two months after Lexington, and the Siege of Ticonderoga was in 1777, two years after Bunker Hill.
    • Rusty is shown cracking the Liberty Bell by accidentally flying into it. While played for laughs, the bell was in Philadelphia, nearly three hundred miles away from Lexington.
    • Paul Revere's famous ride and the engagements at Lexington and Concord, which occurred the following evening, seem to take place within a few hours of each other in the same night.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Rusty, surprisingly enough. Yes, the boy robot is a huge fan of the Big Guy, and overjoyed to be working with him. Even though he was designed as a replacement.
  • Astro Clone: Rusty is a young Robot Kid inspired by Astro, albeit with a red color scheme.
  • Badass Adorable: Rusty. No surprise, considering whom he is an Expy of.
    • Also subverted, as Rusty is in no way intimidating. Whereas Big Guy can shut down a problem just by showing up, Rusty can open fire and still not get taken seriously. Rusty even brings it up:
      Rusty: "I need to look tough."
      Dr. Slate: "Looks aren't everything"
      Donovan: "Maybe, but they're half the fun." Reveals a large scary-looking robot
  • Badass Boast: "Fact: the only thing more piping hot than Mom's fresh baked apple pie is the sting of my anti-lowlife-terrorist mag popper. Want a slice?" He didn't.
    • Rusty: "I may be small, BUT I WILL MAKE HIM PAY!"
  • Badass Normal: Lt. Dwayne Hunter, when not in the Big Guy suit. His pit crew aren't slouches either.
  • Bald of Evil: Legion Ex Machina bots. Unless they need to go undercover, as with Number Six.
  • Big Bad Friend: In the episode Hard Drive, the titular Evil Counterpart of Big Guy turns out to be a Powered Armor piloted by Griffin, Dwayne Hunter's old friend.
  • Blob Monster: Two: one is a jealous cleaning product and the other is a Grey Goo.
  • Bowel-Breaking Bricks: The Big Guy, at the opening of one episode, terrifies a villain in a less impressive suit of Power Armor into ejecting and surrendering in fear (unlike the Big Guy's this fool's armor didn't have anything to cover the pilot). Naturally, ejection occurs out of the back end of the mech.
    • Goes Double with Po, the Obliterator. Not only does he leave his power armor out the back, when he literally gets stomped by Big Guy, his armor breaks apart, butt first, and Po cowers in "crash position."
  • Brain Food: Dr. Neugog and later Pierre after accidentally using the same device that turned Dr. Neugog into a monster.
  • Brain Monster: Dr. Neugog transforms into a giant spider monster with an exposed brain, that drains other people's intelligence to make himself smarter.
  • Brand X: Averted with references to products such as a Sony PlayStation being blatantly mentioned (probably because the show was produced by Sony's Australia-based animation division).
  • Butt-Monkey: Donovan.
  • Camp: The theme song and Big Guy's American catch phrases.
  • Cassandra Truth: Dr. Neugog tells Rusty straight out that Big Guy isn't a robot, but a pilot in Powered Armor. Rusty's response? To laugh in his face.
  • Catchphrase: 'For the love of Mike...'
    • In another episode, where Ericka had to pilot the Big Guy, the catchphrase changed to "For the love of Mary...".
    • Don't forget Rusty's 'no pain receptors'
      • Rusty actually has several: "Comin' at ya!", "Sure as shootin'", "Blast-off!", "The Big Guy signal!" and "Ready and rarin' to go!"
      • Due to Rusty being shown as unable to stop himself from uttering those phrases, it may be supposed they're firmware coded, much like the boot chime of a laptop. Wherever Rusty is going to attack, fly away, acknowledge Big Guy's call or simply get himself ready for action, he notifies Dr. Slate.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: Despite being just a Mini-Mecha, the world believes Big Guy to be an actual sentient Super Robot, because its creators didn't want to admit failing to produce a real artificial intelligence. For good reason too, due to the expense of the Big Guy project its failure would have led to massive public outcry.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Quite a few antagonists qualify. Edie, Dr. Neugog, and even Pierre. The crown has to go to Po, The Obliterator. His hat is going to populated planets, force their mightiest champion to fight him in an "honorable" duel, or he simply destroys the planet "for laughs." Once the fight begins, he just keeps trolling his opponent by playing one dirty trick after another until his opponent's worn down, and then renders him unconscious to take as a trophy to constantly mock in People Jars. When Big Guy had the opportunity for a rematch, which many of Po's other victims did not get, he showed Po exactly how it feels on the receiving end. He was even prepared in case Po decided not to honor the terms of the agreement and leave quietly.
  • Combining Mecha: Rusty and Big Guy, being made by the same company, apparently use similar/standard connection points and can share parts with some adjustment. Rusty can use Big Guy's weapons by grafting them on (the Mag Popper comes to mind), and more to the spirit of the trope, Big Guy attaches Rusty onto his arm to aim for him in the first episode.
    Big Guy: "Thank Ford for interchangeable parts!"
  • Convection, Schmonvection: When a volcano erupts from under New Tronic City, there is a noticeable lack of people and buildings bursting into flame over the lava.
  • Continuity Nod: In episode 7 Rusty is traveling through the internet and visits his favorite Online Game 'Magitek Warriors' in an attempt to escape Number 4 of the Legion Ex Machina. Episode 8 shows Rusty playing the same game before being called to a mission with Big Guy.
  • Cut Short: "Double Time Part 2" reveals that there's a #7 in the Legion Ex Machina. It's also the final episode of the series, meaning the heroes never get to permanently defeat the Legion Ex Machina.
  • Cyanide Pill: Each member of Legion Ex Machina has a Self-Destruct Mechanism built within to prevent someone from accessing their data and memory.
    • Averted with Number Four, who gets captured in Rusty's body, and therefore has no opportunity to self-destruct.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Big Guy or rather his pilot Lieutenant Dwayne Hunter certainly has his moments.
    • The Legion ex Machina has a few as well.
  • Death by Irony: A Legion Big Guy duplicate who tries to use the powerful chest cannon that the model Dwayne uses doesn't have, due to it being taken out so he could pilot it, ends up having the gun blocked off, resulting in its destruction.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Rumble in the Jungle makes mention of an in-universe film titled "Jungle Boy of the Jungle." No, really.
  • Did You Get a New Haircut?: Asked by Jenny after Pierre uses the telepathy dynamo. Justified by the fact the increase to his head makes him look like he has less hair. Also discussed, for full parody effect, by Lt Hunter when he sees Rusty in a bigger body.
  • Epic Fail: Every time Donovan's R-G-B robots make an appearance, they're bound to do this. They have corrupt code in every system, so even the simplest commands are too much for them. As a prime example, when Donovan cries out "Flee" they hear "flea" and drop the bus they were carrying (with Donovan in it) to start grooming a giant two-headed ape, by plucking off all its fleas, and that's the most benevolent example. Usually, trying to follow orders causes them to trash each other.
  • Evil Is Petty: Most, if not all, of the story's villains fall into this. The most glaring examples are Po, the Obliterator, who has a massive Napoleon complex, and Dr. Neugog who became a hybrid man-spider brain eater because he ran an experiment Donnovan did not approve of, and rather than accept responsibility, he, like Dr. Doom blames Reed Richards, blames Donnovan for its failure.
    Po:"Po has never lost before. Please forgive Po for not taking it well."
  • Evil Knockoff: The Legion Ex Machina's first robot, Argo is one of Big Guy, being around the same size and displaying similar weapons, but also has Rusty's weapons, which allowed him to defeat Big Guy in both his confrontations with him. They later built one meant to impersonate Big Guy, but ran into problems when they realize Big Guy was piloted by a human. Lastly, the Legion seizes control of Donovan's mass produced Rusty clones.
  • Evil Twin: One episode featured an evil robot version of Big Guy.
    • Rusty had tons of evil knockoffs running amok in another.
    • Dwane gets his own not too long after the evil Big Guy is destroyed.
    • Even Dr. Slate and Donovan receive evil counterparts, created by prehistoric "jellyfish".
  • Feel No Pain: Rusty is proud to claim that he has "no pain receptors".
  • First Injury Reaction: In "World of Pain," Rusty is upgraded with alien technology that allows him to actually feel human senses instead of just detecting things. The next time he enters battle and takes damage, he starts to say, "No pain receptor--" then cries out in agony. He becomes terrified of getting hurt until he finds a way to rid himself of the alien tech.
  • Flawed Prototype: EP-327, aka Earl to Rusty, bordering over the Psycho Prototype trope. While Earl is not strictly evil, his underdeveloped Emotional Grid makes him little more than a toy soldier. While Earl is fully compliant to every order issued by a recognized authority figure, he snarls and snaps towards whoever isn't, including his teammates Rusty and Big Guy, he follows unflinchingly every order in the most literal way and freezes and stutters while faced with tasks beyond his understanding. A casual instruction to go wait in the corner (while in a round room with no corners) is enough to Logic Bomb him.
    • The worst case of this was when an alien presumed to be a threat was just trying to get back home, EP-327 determined Big Guy as an enemy for "defending the enemy" and shot his head off.
    • Another example is the Nanotech Upgrade and Repair Droid System (NURDS). They are programmed to repair and upgrade any damaged or flawed technology (such as Big Guyís original AI), but are unable to tell when said technology no longer needs repairs. They are also unbiased on the technology they repair, as they revive one of the Legionís destroyed robots.
  • Foreshadowing: In "Double Time Part 1", the Legion Ex Machina create an almost perfect replica of Big Guy, but with completed AI without any of the flaws the real one was bound to have, and with a Wave-Motion Gun inside of its chest that was, according to the replica, from the original schematics. It turns out that the Legion Ex Machina were created by the same person who created Big Guy, and had ready access to those schematics, via accessing his brain.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Rusty and Number Four do this towards the end of "The Bicameral Mind". They avert How Do I Shot Web? as soon as they recover and keep their voices, but Rusty recovers first and uses his knowledge of himself to quickly disable his original body.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Rusty, briefly, in "The Bicameral Mind". Turns out his nucleo-protonic blasters work pretty well as arc welders too.
  • Giant Spider: Dr. Neugog gets turned into one, with the added bonus of still having a human face, and the ability to suck out people's brains.
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck!: Almost constantly. Unsurprisingly, Big Guy is the biggest offender.
    Big Guy: Thank Ford for interchangeable parts. (Sees a fuel tanker being telekinetically thrown at him) SWEET HENRY FORD!
  • Grey Goo: The focus of one episode. However, instead of eating everything, they're out to improve everything... While this works pretty well at first, they do so at the expense of operational lifespan, so everything improved that way hits their end-of-life malfunctions within hours. The old phrase "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" comes into play...
  • Helicopter Blender: At one point a robot duplicate of Lt. Hunter gets thrown into the blades of Donovon's helicopter while it is preparing to take off from the roof of Quark Industries. The damaged robot is then flung off the building, where Donovon at the mangled helicopter blades, before the robot lands on his car down below.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Rusty is an expert at getting the villains to do this. Lt. Hunter didn't do too badly against Po either.
  • Humanity Ensues: Rusty doesn't want to become human. When a chance encounter with alien technology starts turning him into a living being, he's very excited by the new sensations, but as the change progresses, very quickly decides it's not a good trade and gets himself switched back. Considering his tagline is 'no pain receptors' can see why. However, he is fairly proud of his emotion grid, the one thing that does set him apart from other robots (who are more or less mindless drones or amoral villains) and does allow him to have a more human perspective on situations.
  • Humongous Mecha: Argo II turned out to be an absolutely colossal robot, having legs taller than Quark Tower. This was necessary as he was tasked with stealing a whole fusion generator and protect it while he disappeared into the sea (very slowly). Due to the huge size, his armor plating is stronger than normal and has an internal repair system. Of all the Legion Ex Machina robots, he came the closest to accomplishing his goal, since it was only because he was incomplete that he was destroyed (they got a hold of his left hand, which held a vortex cannon).
  • Hypocrite: Despite the Legion Ex Machina boasting the superiority of machine over man, they use their creator, Dr. Poindexter, as their own personal computer, in essence relying on a human for a majority of their plans.
    • Dr. Murtz, the main antagonist of the jungle episode, also counts. He insists that humans are monsters, and that mutating them was the only way to save them from extinction. Yet after he Ďsavesí the animals, he installs mind-controlling devices on them so they can serve as his attack dogs. He also abducts and innocent chimpanzee and attempts to drain her of her bodily fluids so he can maintain his ape form, even admitting that heís doing it because heís selfish.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Rusty is an astonishingly terrible shot, unless he takes a second to aim, often with both hands and one eye closed. This can be confirmed in the opening sequence where his shots, while clearly quite powerful, don't hit unless he aims. The first episode even has Big Guy attach Rusty to his own arm, just to make the shot. Thankfully, as time passes, his aim improves to the point where it's not a liability.
    • Given that Number Four was taking very careful aim at close range (during his and Rusty's Body Swap), it might be a problem innate to the weaponry or Rusty's body.
      • When Rusty orders to the defective Earl to "help [him] fight", Earl grabs him and points his lasers towards their enemies, claiming that he was "Helping by compensating for your inferior targeting". Thus, Rusty may be lacking in hardware or firmware.
    • Turns out that whoever designed Rusty's frame, and made the weapons choice failed to take into account Newton's laws of motion, specifically, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The problem with Rusty's aim has little to nothing to do with his targeting computer, or software, but has everything to do with the fact that his light, the streamlined frame simply can not handle the recoil, even going so far as to blast him backwards the very first time he fires. Not only can Rusty hit targets with fists, improvised weapons (like an I-beam) or by throwing projectiles, not to mention getting routine diagnostics that shows nothing wrong with the system itself, when he temporarily gets his head attached to a bigger, and therefore heavier body, his accuracy with the nucleo-protonic gun improves tremendously. Likewise, Earl's superior accuracy is due to the fact, that even though he's the same size, he's heavier than Rusty due to a bigger focus on armor and weapons than speed and agility.
    • Big Guy suffers from this when he can't immediately end a fight with his guns. At times he can be firing his machine guns at an opponent at point blank range and still run out of ammo, with nary a single shot landed. For Big Guy, it is briefly explained, and easily missed, that his targeting system is designed for siege-weapon gun-mounts due to the sheer size of his weapons. As such, when Big Guy can stand still, his accuracy is incredibly acute. But when he's on the move, Lt. Hunter has to manually adjust his aim, and the accuracy plummets.
  • Irrational Hatred: Rusty is Quark Industries' most successful product, the first true, benevolent, AI. One would think Donovan would do his best to praise Rusty and be proud of Dr. Slate's accomplishment on his payroll. Nope. He wants Rusty reduced to scrap-metal, badly. He outright cheered when Rusty was presumably lost in a kamikazee charge upon Argo II.
  • Irony: Gryffin left the BGY-11 project because he didn't approve the idea of Big Guy being an artificial intelligence instead of a Powered Armor. Because he left, he didn't learn they failed to develop a working intelligence for Big Guy and made it a Powered Armor to hide the truth. Griffin eventually created his own Powered Armor to compete against Big Guy and his defeat made him change his beliefs.
    • Berated for a whole mission because everyone thought his childish emotions could hamper the efforts of the military, in the end Rusty is proven right. When Big Guy apologizes to him, Rusty calmly forgives him, stating that he couldn't understand what's like having human emotions, because his AI was meant to be just too archaic to have a functional emotional grid, but he still admires him.
  • It Amused Me: Po the Obliterator.
    Oh, one last thing: before Po leaves, he will destroy your planet. Just for laughs.
  • Jerkass: Donovan and Jenny, his talking monkey.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Rare, but it does happen. Donovan can occasionally be found correct about certain things. Dr. Neugog wouldn't be a man-spider if he heeded Donovan's warnings about the telepathy experiment,(considering Donovan's absolute loathing for safety protocols, this should have triggered a huge, red warning flag for Dr. Neugog), and had Dr. Slate told him that their mainframe was under cyber-attack by the Legion Ex Machina instead of merely stating that Rusty's in trouble (one robot vs the entire obligations of Quark Enterprises) Donovan might not have been so quick to try to start a reboot.
    • Another example is during the Birthday Bash episode. While he was initially eager to capitalize on the alien device, he quickly changes his mind after he sees what it does to two of his scientists, and has it locked under tight security. Given what the device does to Dwanye's sister later on (mercifully, the effects are reversible), heís right to conclude that itís too dangerous for anyone to use.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Zig-Zagged with the Legion Ex Machina. While Season 2 has a number of episodes where the Legion Ex Machina's plans border on bizarre or kind of lame, the organization is taken much more seriously than most of the one-off threats, and generally get very close to murdering the heroes.
  • Large Ham: Big Guy is just choc full of corny catchphrases.
  • Left Hanging: All of the Legion Ex Machina are destroyed, or so they thought, until it was revealed that there was a final member still at large.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: Number Five gets frozen solid when a tank at a cryogenic tank farm ruptures. Rusty then proceeds to shatter him.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: Number Four has one in the episode "Donovan's Braniac" as he builds himself a new body.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: The biomechanoid Neo-Cateri.
  • Mini-Mecha: The dirty little secret of the BGY Committee is that the Big Guy is really just a piloted suit instead of a full AI-driven robot because they simply couldn't get the original AI to work after its designer went missing.
  • Monster of the Week:
  • Morality Chip: Rusty's human emotion grid acts as one of these for supercomputer Edie.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: It's not exactly clear what Donovan is a doctor of, but whatever it is he's terrible at it.
  • More Dakka: Big Guy has four often used heavy machine guns folded in his elbows, plus two seldom-used missile dispensers next to them. He also has a number of recurring weapons like a forehead laser, retractable wrist cannons, a shoulder mounted gatling gun, and a couple of minor one-off weapons.
    • Rusty may actually have more firepower than the Big Guy. While the Big Guy relies on an assortment of missiles and machine guns Rusty uses what looks like nuclear powered plasma bolts that seem to do more damage (when he hits the target).
      • This was actually brought up in one episode. Rusty's built in weapons are significantly more powerful than anything Big Guy is armed with, which was proven as early as the pilot when they could take down the giant monster when Big guy threw everything he had at it and could barely slow it down, but which is more intimidating: a child robot pointing his finger at you, or a thirty foot tall metal superman unfolding his arm into dual chainguns?
    • When Big Guy's Evil Twin is introduced, it's revealed that in order to make room for the pilot, a giant cannon the size of Big Guy's torso had to be removed!
  • Motherly Scientist: Dr. Erika Slate, Rusty's creator, treats the boy robot as her own son throughout the series. This is lampshaded more than once. It's not just to Rusty either. She's been shown to have exceptional maternal instincts. When she was forced to pilot Big Guy, due to Lt. Hunter coming down with an alien illness, she subdues the alien carrier which is the size of Godzilla, not by tranquilizing it, or beating it to submission, but by realizing that it's a toddler with a cold, and treating it accordingly, to Lt, Hunter's chagrin when he sees the news footage later.
  • My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: According to an evil AI Lt. Dwayne Hunter and Dr. Erika Slate have to fight, wherever Erika is close to Dwayne or merely speaks of him her body temperature rises slightly, a thing the AI claims may be the byproduct of a crush, or a secret plot of the two of them against the AI itself. Actually, it's both.
  • Mythology Gag: In "Sickout", General Thornton says that the Frank Miller space center was contaminated, Frank Miller being one of the creators of the comic.
    • The aircraft carrier The Big Guy operates from is identified in one episode as the U.S.S. Dark Horse, from the publisher of the comics.
  • The Nth Doctor: Big Guy and Dwayne are voiced by two separate actors.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The way Donovan runs his company, it's a wonder Quark Industries is still in business, since he, when given a choice, completely skips safety testing any new product. This comes back to bite him, repeatedly.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Semi-averted. Dr. Slate may be productive inventor, but she is strictly and explicitly a roboticist and computer scientist, though she seems to brush against other disciplines at times, as well. Played straight in that she seems to do most of her inventing single-handedly, even though a creation like (for example) Rusty would require knowledge of everything from software programming to human psychology to nuclear physics to construct.
  • The Paralyzer: A biological-only one gets used on Big Guy, and succeeds in paralyzing Lt. Hunter, forcing Rusty to deal with the Legion robot on his own. (Luckily it wears off fairly quickly, and they're able to pass it off as a core shutdown to Rusty.)
  • Parental Substitute: Big Guy is viewed as a father figure to Rusty, which is mentioned a couple of times during the series. Near the end Rusty sees Dr. Slate as his mother, and the head scientist of the Big Guy project as his grandfather.
  • Photoprotoneutron Torpedo: Rusty is powered by nucleoprotons, which he can also fire at his enemies as an energy weapon.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: Rusty is actually more powerful than the Big Guy; he just doesn't yet have the skill and training he needs to be effective, and gradually improves over the course of the show.
  • Psycho Prototype: Rusty's older brother Earl, due to an incomplete, unstable AI.
    • The Squeaky Gleam robogel is a minor example, as they are exact clones of the original, sharing the same attraction to Dr. Slate and get incredibly jealous of anyone that gets close to her. Other than that, they still appear to have a friendly disposition.
  • Psychotic Manchild: Number Six has shades of this. When he has Donovan at his mercy, he takes pleasure of it like a schoolyard bully. After the failed assassination attempt, he is reprimanded by the Legion for jeopardizing his position as a mole while trying to justify his actions in the manner of a student being sent to the principalís office. His impulsiveness shows when he decides to return to eliminate Donovan instead of following the Legionís orders not to. And during his Villainous Breakdown, he throws a tantrum and attacks Dr. Slate, no longer caring that he has blown his cover as the Legionís mole.
  • Race Lift: The entire Quark Industries. While in the original comic book series Rusty is at first a Japanese-based Astro Boy expy, in the series Rusty becomes a fully American creation, meant to be the dynamic, more advanced next-generation of robotics. As such, the generic, Japanese background scientist with a talking monkey in the background became Dr. Axel Donovan, the corrupt, greedy and cowardly president of Quark Industries (and a thinly disguised metaphor of the stereotypical "capitalist dude"), and the whole Q-Industries became an American megacorporation.
  • Reading Lips: Subverted. In "The Inside Scoop," Rusty watches as Dr. Spade and Lt. Hunter talk about the Big Guy being an exosuit and tries to read their lips. However, he actually can't understand what they're saying.
  • Retro Universe: The series takes place in a world with complex robot AI and holographic recording devices, but there's retro-futuristic styling to the computers and microphones. The cars tend towards "classic," and the military seems to be structured as it was before the Air Force split off from the Army.
  • Robot Kid: Rusty is just a child, which probably explains why he is so inexperienced. Dr. Slate, his inventor, even acts as his mother. This is because Dr. Slate realized that the Human Emotion Grid needs to develop on its own rather than be programmed "fully formed". We later see what happens if a robot is just fitted with an Emotion Grid without any kind of nurturing: Dr Gilder. He ends up having childish tamper tantrums and later completely snaps after being told to "act his age" one too many times.
  • Rocket Punch: Big Guy's hands can be fired off and remotely detonated. Since this leaves him down a hand, he carries spares.
  • Rocket Ride: Rusty pulls one off in "The Inside Out", trying to protect an immobilized Big Guy from a missile. Amazingly, he's able to redirect it back at the Legion robot that fired it, destroying it in one hit.
  • Running Gag: No pain receptors.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Rusty's creator in one episode.
    • In the same episode she is also visibly impressed at seeing Lt. Hunter in a suit.
  • Shipper on Deck: Rusty, and quite a few others, really want Lt. Hunter and Dr. Slate to hook up.
  • Shaped Like Itself: "It glimmers like a... glimmering thing."
  • Shout-Out: The Big Guy's home base was the converted aircraft carrier S.S. Dark Horse.
    • The alien squid-monsters known as the Squillachi were supposedly named for producer Frank Squillace.
    • To Star Wars in the episode The Lower Depths.
      Dr. Slate (via hologram recording): Help us, Big Guy. You're our only hope!
    • To Star Wars again in "5000 Fingers Of Rusty" as he uses the Vader voice to exclaim "I am your father!"
    • Another couple to Dr. Strangelove when Big Guy's repaired AI starts malfunctioning, making it paranoid:
      Big Guy: The work's never done, so long as They crave our precious bodily metals.
    • In Moon Madness, Both Big Guy and Stanly ride missiles/nuclear weapons rodeo style.
    • The Ubik chip desired by Edie is a reference to Philip K. Dick's Ubik.
  • Skewed Priorities: The Legion is not happy with Number Six for attacking Donovan, as the whole reason for him to be within Quark is to be a mole, not an assassin. Number Six obviously doesnít learn from this mistake, as he decides to go back to his assassination attempts not too long after the Legion ordered him not to.
  • Spoiled Brat: Pierre.
  • Stealth Pun: In "The Reluctant Assassin", a stand-off between Big Guy and lowlife Big Rig ends with Big Rig falling out the rear-end of his mech after being threatened by the Big Guy. The presentation shows that Big Rig just "pooped himself" out of his mech.
  • Strong as They Need to Be: Rusty, depending on whether or not the plot needs Big Guy to defeat the enemy. With Ep-327, he managed to defeat him after he took Big Guy down in a single shot, but against Big Guy's Evil Twin built by the Legion, he only managed to some cosmetic damage.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Decommissioning Big Guy in favor of Rusty, who hadn't even had any basic training, quickly proves a mistake since the more advanced, but inexperienced robot gets beaten in his first outing. By the same token, Rusty shows that he was expected to replace Big Guy for reason given his greater firepower and working with Big Guy does allow to prove his worth.
    • After being damaged by Argo, Rusty fears that he will be scrapped. Despite Donovan's dislike for him, Rusty's damage was nothing that couldn't be fixed, so he would not be scrapped.
    • Sibling Mine has Rusty reluctant to fight an alien, leading to his prototype Earl being sent out as a replacement, who appears to be a better sidekick. That proves a mistake as the alien was Good All Along, and when Big Guy attempts to give new orders, Earl sees him an enemy for "defending the enemy" and blasts his head off, showing why he was just a prototype and why he was dismantled and put in storage.
    • The Legion X Machina build a replica of Big Guy in Double Time. Since they didn't know Big Guy was really Powered Armor, not to mention their disdain for human emotions, their imposter quickly gets noticed.
    • When Big Guy welds one of his weapons to replace Rustyís severed arm, we see why he never receives any larger weapons. While heís strong enough to still fly with temporary gun arm, the recoil from just one shot is too much for his small body to handle.
    • Donovan tends to rush projects into mass production without careful testing to see if there are any flaws that need to be fixed. Best example is with the NURDS, which he thinks a proper testing equates to fixing a vending machine. Had he listened to Dr. Slateís advice, he wouldíve found out that the NURDS will continue to fix technology until it results in accelerated wear and tear.
  • Talking Animal: Dr. Donovan's sidekick Jenny. While none of the characters in the show seemed to think it was unusual, except for one Monster of the Week villain who questioned her on the origins of her abilities. Thanks to Big Guy she never got to explain.
  • Telescoping Robot: You could maybe, maybe realistically fit all the weapons that come out of Big Guy in there, but not if you still want to have space for working motors and such. Or maybe more than a couple of rounds of ammunition.
    • This is lampshaded (kinda) by a Legion Ex Machina version of Big Guy, who, after learning the big secret, notes that the inclusion of a cockpit means the Big Guy doesn't have a Wave-Motion Gun built in the he does.
  • Three Laws-Compliant: Averted with most of the robots and A.I.s unless they have Human Emotion Grid which seems to act as a Morality Chip. This is even subverted with the Legion Ex Machina whose unstable emotion grids cause at least two members to have complete psychotic breakdowns.
  • Timeline-Altering MacGuffin: When BGY-11 was accidentally sent to the past, it was found by English soldiers who learned how to control it. They renamed it "Iron Jack" and used it to stop The American Revolution. Because nobody knew everything needed for its maintenance, it eventually blew up but the damage was done. As a result of this, nobody developed BGY-11 or anything else that could have stopped the alien invasion BGY-11 did at the beginning of the series in the original timeline. Dwayne Hunter and Rusty then had to travel back in time to recover it and set history right.
  • Time Travel: The basis of the plot in one episode.
  • Twice Shy: Slate and Lt. Hunter
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Rusty actually has more power and toughness than Big Guy but lacks the skill to use his arsenal well.
  • Villain Has a Point: Given that AI are established as having no rights in this world (one episode has a more primitive, but still clearly intelligent, robot being casually scrapped), it's somewhat hard to not feel a bit of sympathy for the Legion Ex Machina.
  • Villains Want Mercy: Some antagonists play it straight, like Po, the Obliterator, while others like Dr. Neugog subvert it by pretending to surrender so they can backstab their opponents.
  • Visual Pun: In "Double Time: Part Two", Rusty says "Looks like Number Two hit the fan, as Legion Ex Machina's Number Two is shredded alive by a ventilation fan.
  • Wham Line: In the finale of the series, the creator of the Legion Ex Machina and Big Guy, Poindexter, is told that all six members of the Legion are defeated. His response:
    "But... I created seven."
  • You Are Number 6: The robots of the Legion Ex Machina are only known by numbers.
    • Technically all the robots have model number names (e.g. BGY-11, EP-327, ARG-12) but are typically referred to by their nicknames (Big Guy, Earl, Argo, respectively).
  • Your Brain Won't Be Much of a Meal: About Donovan after Pierre uses the telepathy dynamo:
    I'm hungry...very hungry... but I crave nutrition, not empty calories.
    • This was pointed out when Neugog was going to feed on Donovan as well but he planned on doing anyway simply because he didn't like him

Alternative Title(s): The Big Guy And Rusty The Boy Robot