Bionic Six was an animated television series from the 1980s produced by TMS Entertainment and distributed by MCA TV (a part of, and later renamed, Universal Television).
The main character, 'Bionic-1', was a vigilante who was enhanced with bionic technology, much like The Six Million Dollar Man, and used his abilities to fight the evil forces of Mad Scientist Dr. Scarab. One day, during a vacation in the Himalayas, Bionic-1 (in his civilian identity of Jack Bennett) and his (large and multi-ethnic) family were testing out some new ski equipment when they were suddenly attacked by aliens that had landed in the area (and Scarab's Mecha-Mooks). During the battle, Jack revealed his abilities to his children for the first time.
Soon afterward, there was an avalanche and the Bennetts were all buried alive under radioactive snow. All of them were thrown into paralytic comas, except Jack (whose bionics made him immune to the radioactivity), Unsure how to save them, Bionic-1 brings the family to the lab of Professor Amadeus Sharp, his mentor and Mission Control. Sharp deduces that giving everyone the bionic treatment would cure them of the radioactivity, too.
The treatment was a success: each family member received a unique bionic power in the process which they could activate by saying "Bionics, on!", and they all immediately agree to fight alongside Jack as a team — the Bionic Six.
The members of the team and the Bennett family are:
- Jack Bennett (Bionic-1) was a test pilot who enjoyed cooking. His powers included super sight and enhanced hearing, along with optic beams. John Stephenson provided his voice.
- Helen Bennett (Mother-1) was Jack's wife, and the mother of the rest of the team. She possessed Psychic Powersnote , and could also create optical illusions using holograms. She was voiced by Carol Bilger.
- Eric Bennett (Sport-1) was Jack and Helen's blond, athletic natural son. His power was electromagnetics: He could attract or repel metallic objects with tremendous force, or even rip them apart. This force was directional and — by varying the shape of his hands, or by using one or both arms — Sport-1 could adjust the strength of attraction/repulsion. He frequently used a baseball bat to return attacks to their source. At local Albert Einstein High School, Eric was in the 11th grade and captain of the baseball team. Moreover, he often worked various baseball expressions into everyday conversation. He was voiced by Hal Rayle.
- Meg Bennett (Rock-1), Jack and Helen's natural daughter and youngest child, was an excitable and somewhat ditzy girl who loved music... and who said "So-LAR!" (another word for "awesome") a lot. She also made frequent use of the prefixes "Mega-!" (as befitting her first name) and, less frequently, "Ultra-!" As her codename Rock-1 (as in "rock and roll") implied, she could shoot sonic beams from blaster units mounted on her shoulders. (The blaster units were visible only while she was in "Bionic Mode.") She could also run at incredible speeds (even faster than the rest of the team). At AEHS, Meg was in the ninth grade. Meg was voiced by Bobbi Block.
- JD Bennett (IQ) was Jack and Helen's super-intelligent adopted African-American son. He enjoyed boxing. He had Super Strength and super-intelligence — a ''textbook'' Genius Bruiser. (JD was the only member with a codename that didn't include the number 1.) At AEHS, JD was in the 12th grade. What his initials stood for was never clarified. He was voiced by Norman Bernard.
- Bunji (Karate-1) was the last Bennett on the team, Jack and Helen's foster son. He was placed under their guardianship after his own father disappeared. Bunji (short for Bunjiro) was a cute, but troublemaking, Asian-American karate enthusiast. He had martial arts skills, made more formidable with his bionics (some sources claim his enhancement was even stronger legs). At AEHS, Bunji was in the 11th grade. He was voiced by Brian Tochi, of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Space Academy fame.
- F.L.U.F.F.I., a gorilla-like robot made by Professor Sharp, who lived with the Bennetts. He looked and acted a little dumb, but was quite helpful to the Bionic Six...whether he was helping the Bennett kids with their homework, or assisting the adults with a perilous scientific experiment. Unfortunately, FLUFFI had one serious weakness: a craving for aluminum. If he wasn't fed regularly, he'd think nothing of eating the Bennetts' pots and pans. As with JD, what FLUFFI's initials stood for was only speculated on, never revealed throughout the series, and the official merchandise included a comment that Professor Sharp couldn't remember what the acronym meant.
- Professor Amadeus Sharp was the genius scientist who infused the Bionic Six with bionics. All of his research was supported by the government. He lived alone in his private museum; which beneath held his secret laboratory, the hidden base of the Bionic Six. Amadeus is also Dr. Scarab's younger brother. He was voiced by Alan Oppenheimer.
Like any great superheroes, the Bionic Six had an archenemy in the form of Dr. Scarab (real name: Dr. Wilmer Sharp, Amadeus Sharp's older brother), a large, evil and occasionally comical man who yearned for the secret to eternal life. He was voiced by Jim MacGeorge. During the Himalayas incident, Scarab assembled a rag-tag team of ex-convicts and psychiatric patients and gave them bio-mechanical powers, turning them into his Quirky Miniboss Squad, described below:
- Glove - Named for his blaster glove. He always schemed to replace Dr. Scarab. He was voiced by Frank Welker.
- Madame-O - A blue-skinned Femme Fatale who wore a full face mask and used a "harp" weapon to fire sonic blasts. Often the rival to Meg aka Rock-1, and preferred classical music to her rock. Not surprising, since she was a senior citizen before Dr. Scarab transformed her. In one episode, Madame O is seen without her mask, and though appearing elderly, is still quite a looker. She was voiced by Jennifer Darling.
- Mechanic - A dimwitted, brutish Psychopathic Manchild who used various mechanical tools as weapons. He was voiced by Frank Welker.
- Chopper - A chain-wielding thug who always sounded as though he were revving up a motorcycle. He was voiced by Frank Welker.
- Klunk - An inarticulate monstrosity that appeared to be made of living glue. He was voiced by John Stephenson.
In addition, Scarab and his minions were capable of holographically disguising themselves. Whenever Scarab and his team felt ready to remove their disguises, they slammed their fists to their chest insignias, exclaiming "Hail Scarab!" (Scarab, however, exclaimed, "Hail me!"). Doing so also served another purpose—the activation of a temporary strength enhancement.
In addition to his henchmen, Scarab also used Cyphrons in his fight against the Bionic Six.
Bionic Six contains examples of the following tropes:
- Action-Hogging Opening: So much so, a scene from the opening became the trope image.
- Action Mom: Mother-1.
- Animation Bump: In episode 65, the animation sometimes goes into what TMS did with Warner Bros later in the 1990s, as the episode was done by Telecom Animation Film, the unit of TMS that headed the Warner Bros. shows in the 1990s.
- The opening, as expected from an action-filled opening.
- Badass Family: The Bionic Six.
- Barrier Warrior: Rivet Rick of the Bandroids can create Forcefields.
- Batman Gambit: The villains pulled these fairly regularly.
- Been There, Shaped History: In the two-part Bionic Six episode "Back to the Past", the protagonists are sent back to find out what killed the dinosaurs. Naturally, they end up getting involved with it. The dinosaurs died from the radiation that leaked from the weapon taken to the past by villains sent there to obtain the power that killed them.
- Big Fancy House: The Bennett's mansion is huge. From a bird's eye, it looks like a shopping mall with a swimming pool.
- Break Out the Museum Piece: The episode "Spin Out" involves the Six helping an elderly airplane enthusiast by having an airshow with World War One and Two-era planes. Ultimately they end up getting into a dogfight of sorts with one of Scarab's ships. Since Bionic Six takes place in the 2070's, it's a bit like breaking out Civil War weaponry would be today.
- Brainwashed/Brainwashed and Crazy: Happened on quite a few occasions, although ironically never to Rock-1, who tended to be the only one not brainwashed and would therefore be the heroine who saves them all.
- The biggest example is the two-part "I, Scarab" as Scarab uses a "modifier" blasting a signal across the globe that makes everyone on Earth accept Scarab as their absolute ruler.
- By the Power of Grayskull!: "Bionics, on!"
- Captain Ersatz: American martial artist Chuck Forrest.
- Clark Kenting: All of the Bennett family look exactly the same before and after they invoke their Transformation Sequence. This is particularly jarring in "Bionics On! The First Adventure" Origins Episode. Despite watching the heroics of Bionic-1 (who was the only existing Bionic at the time) on TV news, young Bennets completely fail to recognize that it's their own father — and act genuinely shocked when he transforms on their own eyes later.
- Comm Links: The "wristcomms" the team had hardwired into them, which also served as part of their Transformation Trinket.
- Dated History: The episode "Extra Innings" mentions that Hank Aaron's home run record went unbroken until the mid-21st Century, roughly 2047. In the real world, Barry Bonds broke it 40 years earlier than that. That said, it's possible that the BALCO scandal may have ultimately invalidated Bonds's record.
- Disability Superpower: The blind superhero The Perceptor.
Perceptor: Why is that people who can see think the world disappears when they close their eyes?
- When Scarab takes over the world, he has the Bionic Six trapped in various ways. Mother-1 is inside a vat of water with lasers charging it to over 500 degrees and her barely able to use her powers to shield her. Perceptor breaks into the lab, senses the situation and then uses the visor of his helmet to deflect the lasers to blast off Mother-1's bonds with ease.
- Episode Title Card: As typical of Saturday morning cartoon shows at the time.
- Evil Laugh: Doctor Scarab invokes this trope to the point of self-parody.
- Expository Theme Tune: And a very catchy one, at that.
- Faked Rip Van Winkle: When Sport-1 is knocked unconscious, the villains trick him into thinking it took him 30 years to wake up. He was then tricked into think Dr. Scarab and his gang reformed and went separate ways (each one was looking older) and that he and his family didn't look any older because they were bionic. He was also tricked into thinking the other Bionic Five became villains. In the end, Eric told his real family he had figured out it was all a lie because the baseball glove he had with him before being rendered unconscious looked just as new as before.
- Fashionable Asymmetry: On several of the characters.
- "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: "Brain Food" featured a formula boosting the drinker's intelligence tenfold, also inexplicably granting them knowledge they should not possibly have (such as teaching a monkey to write). The effect only lasts a couple of minutes and provides a moment of Fridge Logic when Scarab's projects which he completed under the effect of the formula stops dead at the instant he loses his knowledge. You can't even blame this failure on forgetting how to operate complex maneuvers to keep it functioning because he's just staring at it when this happens.
- Genki Girl: Rock-1.
- Gonk: Doctor Scarab, complete with ridiculously thick lips.
- Gone Horribly Right: Scarab decides to give a far better AI for two of his Cyphrons, making them sentient and highly intelligent. Guess what happens next?
- Hive Mind: "The Hive."
- Identity Amnesia: Scarab had his whole memory and identity wiped out because of Glove's tampering with a device. Professor Sharp takes advantage of this to reeducate his brother for goodness. Unfortunately, Scarab learned the Bionic Six's secret identities and wants to become the leader of his old gang. This lead Professor Sharp to restore his brother's memory, who in turn forgot the heroes' secret identities.
- Lethal Chef: Jack, since the family doesn't like his cooking.
- Merchandise-Driven: The show tied in with a toy line from the infamous LJN Toys, which was owned by MCA/Universal at the time.
- My Future Self and Me: Scarab teams up with himself as a senior citizen and a child in "Triple Cross."
- Near-Villain Victory: Dr. Scarab has mind controlled everyone on the planet, captured the Bionic Six and killed Professor Sharp. If only he had the Bionic Six executed immediately and checked for his brother's body, he would still be ruling the world.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Jim MacGeorge's voice for Dr. Scarab is a letter-perfect imitation of George C. Scott.
- No New Fashions in the Future: Fashion doesn't seem to have changed too much, though tunic-type long shirts seem to be pretty popular, as well as jackets and visor-type glasses.
- No-Sell: When facing Perceptor, Mother-1 creates an illusion of a huge monster. To her surprise, Perceptor doesn't even pause but runs right through it. This is a clue to IQ that Perceptor literally couldn't see the illusion as he's blind.
- Origins Episode: Episode 10 "Bionics On! The First Adventure" which explains — via flashback — how Bennet family members were turned into Bionics, how Doctor Scarab created his henchmen, and how the first clash between two groups looked like.
- The Power of Rock: Meg, and also the bionic robot rock group The Bandroids.
- Psychic Powers: Mother-1.
- The Psycho Rangers: Dr. Scarab's henchmen. Ironically, he created them before the rest of the Bennett family was transformed.
- Recruiting the Criminal: When Scarab uses a "modifer" to mentally take over the world, he quickly captures the Six. Sharp manages to recruit a small team to rescue them comprising of the Bandroids, Perceptor and Kaledisoscope, who hates Scarab himself and willing to work with Sharp to set the world back to rights.
Kaleidoscope: Who better to break you out of prison then a criminal?
- Bionic One is being held in Alcatraz when one of the guards drops his holographic disguise to reveal himself as Kaleidoscope.
- Rule 63: Scarab accidentally does this when his plan to clone a mate results in a gender swapped version of himself called Scarabina. She later returns and uses one of Scarab's experiments to create gender swapped versions of his henchmen.
- Secret Identity: All of the Bennett family.
- Secret Project Refugee Family: Double Subverted.
- Sherlock Holmes: "The Case of the Baker Street Bionics" is an episode-length Shout-Out.
- Shout-Out: In "Mrs. Scarab," Madame-O steals the identity of a female detective named Samantha Spade.
- Show Within a Show: There's two. One of them, a Tokusatsu-based mecha series, serves as part of the plot in one episode.
- 65-Episode Cartoon: That's about as long as it lasted, before it faded away completely into obscurity.
- Stable Time Loop: Dr. Scarab sent henchmen to the past to find and steal the radiation that killed all the dinosaurs. In the end, it's implied the radiation came from a weapon the villains left in the past.
- Take Over the World: One of Doctor Scarab's goals.
- The Starscream: Glove is frequently plotting to overthrow Doctor Scarab and replace him as team leader. True to the Trope Namer, sometimes he even manages to succeed in that goal, but never for long.
- Stealth Parody: One major difference between this other superhero shows is that it has its tongue firmly in cheek, at times reveling it its own absurdity.
- Super Family Team: Naturally. Interestingly, they were a family before they became a super-hero team, with the exception of Jack, who'd been working solo for years.
- Super Mode: The Six are just ordinary humans until they activate their bionics.
- Supervillain Lair: Scarab's lair is an Underwater Base.
- Team Title: "Bionic Six," about six people who are bionic.
- Time Travel: "Back to the Past"
- Transformation Sequence: Every time they activated their bionics, complete with the Catchphrase "Bionics — ON!!"
- Transformation Trinket: A two-piece one, a ring with the Bionic Six emblem, which would be slammed into their "wristcomms" and would activate the team's technology.
- 20 Minutes into the Future: Context indicates that the series takes place around 2077. There are a few sapient robots around, such as F.L.U.F.F.I, along with other pieces of advanced technology, but the setting is still pretty close to 80's Earth.
- Villain Exclusivity Clause: Dr. Scarab is the only major villain faced by Bionics in the series.
- Villain World: Both inverted and played straight. During one episode, the Six found themselves in a world composed entirely of superheroes, who were jonesing for someone to fight. Eventually, a portal gets opened to a world composed of villains and everyone lives happily ever after.
- Wild Teen Party: The kids throw one in "House Rules". Things get out of control when uninvited teens crash in their Big Fancy House. Then, things get a lot worse when Scarab show up and suspect some of the teens are Bionics.
- Karma Houdini: The parents are about to ground the kids for their party when they're all summoned for another assignment.