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Western Animation / Captain Planet and the Planeteers

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By your powers combined, I am Captain Planet!
"Our world is in peril. Gaia, the spirit of the Earth, can no longer stand the terrible destruction plaguing our planet. She sends five magic rings to five special young people: Kwame, from Africa, with the power of Earth... From North America — Wheeler, with the power of Fire... From the Soviet Unionnote  — Linka, with the power of Wind. From Asia — Gi, with the power of Water... and from South America — Ma-Ti, with the power of Heart. When the five powers combine, they summon Earth's greatest champion, Captain Planet."

The brainchild of Barbara Pyle and Ted Turner (though most of the actual development work on the show was done by DiC producers Phil Harnage and Nicholas Boxer, as well as Pyle herself), Captain Planet and the Planeteers was an attempt to provide a show which would entertain younger viewers, while simultaneously educating them about taking care of the environment.

The eponymous Planeteers are a Multinational Team of teenagers imbued with Elemental Powers to stop pollution using the power of... Aesops! When they are inevitably unable to deal with problems individually, they combine their powers into a single unstoppable entity: Captain Planet.

Captain Planet and the Planeteers (1990 to 1996) underwent several small revisions over the course of its run — it was renamed The New Adventures of Captain Planet during its 1993 to 1996 run, which coincided with a change in production companies (from DiC to Turner-owned Hanna-Barbera) — but the tone of the show always focused on the environment, often with a lesson about the environmentnote  near the close of each episode. Prevalent in the show's theme was the concept of personal responsibility: Captain Planet's Catchphrase was "The power is yours!"

The villains — who all had Obviously Evil names like Duke Nukem (not that one), Hoggish Greedly, and Looten Plunder — were cartoonish in every sense of the word, being evil representations of the various real human activities that threaten the environment. This was a sincere, if exceptionally hamfisted, way of avoiding offense: if the villains had been given grayer morality and more emphasis had been put on the systematic nature of environmental harm rather than the role of individuals, the showrunners feared that kids might have compared them to their parents or their parents' employers who, as they said, are only trying to do their jobs in an efficient manner. To avoid friction, the writers created villains who were intentionally exaggerated and made to represent the planet's environmental problemsnote  rather than the actions of individuals.

The show was quite popular, for not only its tacky and ham-fisted charm, but its messages about the environment and social issues. Probably it has a lot of to do with how much this show was promoted, since it was clearly Adored by the Network.

The Captain was also a unexpected Guest Fighter on the Mascot Fighter Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion. 2017 saw the Captain and Kwame making a guest appearance on Cartoon Network's OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes, with David Coburn and LeVar Burton reprising their roles.

The show's first season was finally released on DVD (in the US) on April 19th, 2011—just in time for Earth Day. The packaging was, unsurprisingly, made from 100% earth-friendly recycled paper. In July 2011, Cartoon Network announced that a live-action film adaptation of the show was in the works. In 2016 it was announced that Leonardo DiCaprio would produce and star, with Glen Powell also on board.

Oh, and Funny or Die made a series of spoof videos featuring Don Cheadle as Captain Planet in 2011 and 2012.

This series gives examples of:

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    Tropes: A-C 
  • Abusive Parents: Wheeler's father is an alcoholic with a nasty habit of belittling his son. In fact, he's the reason that Wheeler pretty much ran away from home (his father drove him to the breaking point by calling him a worthless loser for not being able to fulfill his demand for another bottle). Fortunately, he ultimately cleans up his act a bit, allowing them to reconcile.
  • The Ace: Captain Planet himself, which is kind of unusual for a Five-Man Band type show in that he himself is not technically part of said band.
  • Actor Allusion: Bambi Blight is voiced by Kath Soucie. In the episode wherein Bambi is involved with filming a movie, Dr. Blight swaps outfits with her and pretends to be her. Cue Bad "Bad Acting" and the director saying "We'll have Kath Soucie dub her lines in". Linka expresses her hopes that Kath Soucie is good - and Linka is also voiced by Kath Soucie.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: In the end credits, the part listing the voice actors for the Eco-Villains is labelled "Portraying Polluting Perpetrators".
  • Adopting the Abused: Before he received the Fire Ring, Wheeler has spent quite some time on the streets to avoid his abusive father. However, upon joining the team, he gained a Family of Choice - the other Planeteers became his surrogate siblings, while Gaia and Captain Planet serve as Parental Substitutes for all of them.
  • Alcoholic Parent: While it only comes up in a couple of episodes ("A Mine is a Terrible Thing to Waste" and "Talkin' Trash"), Wheeler's father is an alcoholic. His first appearance shows him berating his young son, who is trying and failing to get more drinking money for him. Wheeler spent a lot of time away from home to avoid him and ultimately chose to live on the streets rather than deal with the constant disparagement. Later, his mother calls him back to New York, saying his father's health is failing. Wheeler comments bitterly that it shouldn't be much of a surprise.
  • Alike and Antithetical Adversaries: The series uses Heterogeneous Heroes against Homogeneous Villains. The Planeteers are multicultural, while the Eco-Villains are pretty much all white Americans.
  • Allegorical Character: Each of the evo-villains represents a particular type of pollution - Hoggish Greedly is emissions and toxic waste, Sly Sludge is improper garbage disposal, Duke Nukem is radioactivity, Looten Plunder and the Slaughters are poaching, Verminous Skumm is urban decay, Doctor Blight is science gone wrong, Zarm is war and hatres, and Captain Pollution, appropriately, is the idea of pollution as a whole. More subtly, each of the Planeteers represents the effects of some type of pollution - Kwame is a victim of climate change, Wheeler of urban decay, Linka of nuclear meltdown, Gi of oceanic dumping, and Ma-Ti of deforestation. Gaia represents the environment as a whole, while Captain Planet represents what people can do when they work together.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Averted-ish. MAL, Dr. Blight's computer henchman, was originally a nice AI who liked to play games, but was reprogrammed by Blight into his current malicious incarnation. He was reverted to his original programming in one episode and then proceeded to help the Planeteers. He's also clearly in love with the bad doctor, and is very loyal to her.note 
  • All Just a Dream: Combined with social Aesops like overpopulation and homelessness, it's something of a Running Gag for Wheeler to end, up one way or another, entering a dream world or alternate universe to teach the day's lesson.
  • All Your Colors Combined: The net effect of summoning Captain Planet, since each of the rings has a different color associated with it. Also the Trope Namer.
  • Allergic to Evil: Captain Planet is hurt (as in harmed, not merely upset) by Adolf Hitler's hatred, which is here considered to be a form of emotional pollution.
  • Analogy Backfire: One episode dealt with the ethics of putting animals in zoos to preserve their population by having an alien race arrive and put the Planeteers and the extras of the week into a zoo for their own preservation. The aliens made the exact same excuses, such as "it's for your own good," that humans had made for doing so earlier. This episode has multiple failed analogies:
    • First, keeping a sapient person capable of logic and reasoning against their will is imprisonment. One could counter that animals are capable of their own respective logic and reason too, but even so, what the aliens do is much closer to how humans imprison each other than how animals are kept in zoos; zoo animals’ enclosures at least try to provide everything their habitat does in a confined space, whereas prisons along the lines of the one the Planeteers are confined in are meant to be punitive and unpleasant. The show acts as if preserving an endangered condor in a safe environment and kidnapping people and stripping them of basic human rights are morally equivalent, which does nothing but strawman the actual moral arguments against zoos.
    • Second, the villains of the episode—Dr. Blight and Hoggish Greedly—were putting animals in a zoo to make room for a golf course. As misguided as the aliens were, they at least weren't interfering with the Earth itself and actually cared about preserving humans. Meanwhile, Blight and Greedly were bulldozing an ecosystem for monetary gain and simply dropped the animals off at the zoo to feel better about it.
    • Third, an animal that is genuinely in danger of dying out while in its natural habitat, and preserving them by bringing them to zoos, is one thing - humans, regardless of how bad they are making the environment, are in no danger of dying out - if anything, the opposite.
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: In "The Unbearable Brightness of Being", Wheeler retorts to Gaia trying to explain that she's in Dr. Blight's body by snarking that he is Captain Pollution.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: The Planeteer Alert segments had Captain Planet and the Planeteers inform the audience of how they can take better care of the environment and dispose of garbage and other wastes responsibly.
  • And Then What?: The Planeteers sometimes reasoned with polluters by asking them what they intended to do after their actions have done their damage.
  • Animation Bump: For the show's fourth season, the production was shifted from DIC to Turner's own Hanna-Barbera, leading to a significant increase in the show's animation quality.
  • Animesque: As per the usual with DiC during this time, several of their episodes have a more anime-like quality to their artstyle. Averted completely with the switch to Hanna-Barbera, which uses a more westernized look.
  • Anti-Villain: Most people who collude with the villains are either desperate or don't know any better.
    • Surprisingly enough, Looten Plunder, in "Bitter Waters". He's interested in rescuing a Native American reservation from its poverty, striking a deal with the tribal chairman to build an irrigation facility that'll allow the natives to grow food crops for sale, as well as restoring the local economy, personally paying rent for all workers and giving bonuses to the chairman. However, the chairman doesn't know that the irrigation is actually poisoning the local water reserves; it's heavily implied that Looten, on the other hand, knew this full well.
  • Apocalypse How:
    • The episode "Planeteers Under Glass" has the Planeteers and a female scientist (Dr. Derek) enter a virtual planet where pollution is sickening the planet in centuries (sped up in minutes), starting from Class 0 up to Class 3. But then Dr. Blight traps them all in the rapidly wasting virtual planet, bringing the Apocalypse Class up to 4 and closer to Classes 5 and 6 before destroying them all (not even Captain Planet can save them)... or so Blight thinks. Fortunately, the team of Planeteers have a backup spot before they vanish so they can return safely to stop Blight.
    • The climax of the episode “If It’s Doomsday, This Must Be Belfast” has Gaia transporting everyone 10 years into the future to witness the destruction the potential nuclear race war will bring upon each location featured in the episode. Said destruction counts as either a Class 2 or 3A, as the post-apocalyptic ruins are shown to be completely desolate but it’s never explicitly clarified whether anyone else survived. A bit of Artistic License is at play though, since South Africa is depicted as in the throes of a nuclear winter—the exact scale of the war is never stated, but the possible nuclear winter from even a large scale nuclear conflict would have long since dissipated after 10 years.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: Captain Planet is damaged by crude oil, a completely natural material, yet is also healed by lava and magma, both far more dangerous than crude oil. Strangely, Hoggish Greedly calls the crude oil he fires "toxic waste", but it's a storyboard error as he fired some thick, shiny dark glop at Captain Planet, just like oil, as opposed to the colorful glop the show represents as toxic waste. (Admittedly, this example is from the first episode, so they likely hadn't worked everything out.)
  • Artistic License – Geography: If Darwinia from the episode "The Blue Car Line" is supposed to be a fictional representation of the Australian city Darwin, then there is a hell of a lot wrong with it. For starters, two decades on from the episode's creation, Darwin still has a minuscule population of less than 150,000 people, little to no high-rise development to speak of, and — the funniest error considering the episode revolves around alternative transport — there's no trains (save for one train line that runs to Adelaide and Alice Springs).
  • Artistic License – Nuclear Physics: Ted Turner does not like nukes, and Duke Nukem is the walking embodiment of why we should never use nuclear technology (even just for power) as a whole. Actual technical errors include having mushroom clouds form from any explosion of nuclear materials, including a bomb detonating in space, and a highly inaccurate portrayal of a nuclear power plant in one episode, which among other errors displayed radioactive smoke coming from a cooling tower after Duke Nukem blasted a hole in it.
  • Artistic License – Physics: "Two Futures Part Two" has Wheeler's inaction in helping the planet caused a ozone layer hole over Russia, which would not happen as the Ozone Hole can only be over Antarctica because it can only happen over super-cold areas, no other place on Earth can have that happen to it - not even the North Pole.
  • Artistic License – Religion: Sean, a Belfast Catholic, using the taunt "Fenian Prods!" in the episode "If It's Doomsday, This Must Be Belfast" makes one question how much the writers actually know about sectarian hate in Ireland. If you're wondering, Fenian is an insult referring to the (largely Catholic) Irish nationalists, while Prod was a term for the (largely Protestant) North Irish Unionists. Or, in other words, it's the derogatory equivalent of calling someone a "square circle". The episode's subtitles on the 2017 DVD re-release try to amend this to "Flaming Prods", which, unless "flaming" is specifically being used in the American sense, is even more nonsensical.
  • Author Avatar: Eco-conscious TV tycoon Fred Lerner in "Who's Running The Show?" Ted Turner
  • Ax-Crazy: It's pretty clear that Dr. Blight causes the problems she does for the sheer sick pleasure of it. As noted under Cut Lex Luthor a Check, below, she's devised all kinds of technology that could be used to fix any number of ecological problems (and this is what Gaia actually did when she became trapped in Blight's body during a "Freaky Friday" Flip) but causing pollution and wrecking the Earth is simply more fun.
  • Bad Future:
    • Wheeler goes here in "Two Futures, Part 2", where Hoggish Greedly and Rigger Take Over the World, and the other Planeteers live a very rough life, protecting what's left of the environment. And as for Gaia...
    • There was also a bad future wrecked by pollution where the future descendants of the current villains are all together, complete with Dr. Blight's descendant commenting on the irony of having created technology to recycle, followed by them attempting to ensure their future exists as it starts to unravel by killing the Planeteers in the present day.
    • The episode "Numbers Game" has Wheeler go to one where he and Linka have married and had 8 kids together, with the episode demonstrating that the Planeteers and thus the Earth's environment have collapsed as a result of large families' overconsumption.
    • In "If It's Doomsday, This Must Be Belfast", Gaia transports each pair of people with the nuclear detonators along with the Planeteers 10 years into a future where they pull the trigger and spark a nuclear race war that ends the world as they know it and wreaks massive environmental destruction from nuclear winter and fallout.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: In the episode "Whoo Gives a Hoot?", Looten Plunder gets away with his scheme to clear cut a forest where endangered species live. It ends with him laughing in the Planeteers' faces and daring them to try to stop him from doing it again.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Wheeler and Linka had plenty of this going on, and in the early seasons, not just because of gender.note 
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Do not anger Gi or Ma-Ti. Ever. It's hard to piss them off, but if someone does? note 
    • Also applies to Gaia. Motherly, patient, and generally friendly, but she can become a Mama Bear when the Planeteers are in danger...a Mama Bear armed with the entire power of nature.
  • Birthday Episode:
    • Wheeler's birthday is celebrated in the episode "Numbers Game".
    • While it's not Linka's birthday yet in "Last of Her Kind", the fact that it's approaching figures prominently in the plot.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • "Talkin' Trash": Yeah, Skumm's Evil Plan failed and Trish has been reformed, but Frankie is dead.
    • "Mind Pollution": Again, Skumm's Evil Plan failed, and Linka has found the willpower to face her addiction, but her cousin is dead.
    • "Radiant Amazon": Nukem and Sludge have been stopped from dumping their toxic waste in the rainforest near Ma-ti's village, but Ma-ti is still crying at the end because he knows his village will face further attacks before long.
  • Bound and Gagged: The Planeteers have this happen so often, it's a wonder they get anything accomplished. The guys get tied up as much as the girls. This happens to Bambi Blight in "Hollywaste."
    • Dr. Blight receives this treatment in "Frog Day Afternoon."
  • Bragging Ending Theme: Captain Planet, he's a hero / Gonna take pollution down to zero!
  • Braids, Beads and Buckskins: One episode contained a Native American who acted and dressed like any other person. But after one hike through nature later with the Planeteers had him letting loose his hair, tossing his glasses, and becoming one with nature.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Several examples exist.
    • In "Who's Running the Show", the network manager asks the Planeteers if they want to star in their own show called Captain Planet and the Planeteers.
    • In "Hog Tide", Captain Planet starts singing the show's own theme song.
  • Briar Patching: In "The Unbearable Brightness of Being", Gaia-in-Dr.-Blight's-body tricks Dr.-Blight-in-Gaia's-body into striking Captain Planet with lightning so he can power the machine needed to switch their minds back, by convincing her that lightning can destroy Captain Planet.
  • Broken Aesop: In the beginning of one episode, Wheeler bought an air conditioner to deal with a heat wave. As noted above, the episode later focused on the damage the chemicals of air conditioners cause to the environment, so in the end the Planeteers dumped it and started... playing with water and a garden hose to refresh themselves, implying that it's better to waste water than using an air conditioner.
  • Brought Down to Normal:
    • Summoning Captain Planet required the Planeteers to temporarily give up their rings' energy, so if Captain Planet got in trouble, they usually had to resort to old-fashioned brainpower and teamwork to save him.
    • In "No Place Like Home", Gaia gets reduced to a mortal by Dr. Blight. This also causes Captain Planet to not only lose his own powers, but it also prevented him from splitting off into the rings, which also robbed the Planeteers of their ring powers.
  • Button Mashing: In "Polluting by Computer", MAL was controlling the environmental agency's computer, and nobody could stop him. Until Wheeler saves the day by hitting lots of random keys on the keyboard, confusing MAL and losing his control.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: All the Planeteers have to invoke their rings in order to summon Captain Planet.
  • Call to Adventure: Given by Gaia at the start of the show. All five Jumped at the Call. One episode focused on Wheeler refusing it by time travel... biiig mistake.
  • Calling Your Attacks: The Planeteers had to name their element in order to activate their rings. Of course, this happened whether they actually wanted to use them or not, such as when Wheeler offhandedly said "fire" and a small fire broke out.
  • Canary in a Coal Mine: One episode shows the origins of the Planeteers in flashback. Linka's shows a group of miners escaping from a mine after the air goes bad. One of them, Linka's father, carries the now dead canary and laments that she will be devastated. She is.
  • Captain Superhero: The title character is a hero named Captain Planet.
  • Captivity Harmonica: In the episode "Jailhouse Flock", Captain Planet at one time sings, "Nobody knows all the pollutin' I've seen," and plays the harmonica while in prison.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Most of the villains would love to see the Earth covered in a pile of sludge out of the sheer joy of... covering the Earth in sludge, with Dr. Blight and Zarm being the worst contenders. Even if, for some of these characters, this would severely impact them as well. Two of the villains, being monsters that thrive off disease and radiation (Verminous Skumm and Duke Nukem, respectively), at least have some sort of benefit to turning the planet into a wasteland (since for them, it would be better), and Zarm is an Anthropomorphic Personification of destruction, so for them it makes sense.
  • Catchphrase: "The Power Is Yours!"
  • Chain of People: Kwame and Wheeler form one after Ma-Ti falls off the Capitol while being pursued by zombie drug addicts. It... makes sense in context.
  • Chick Magnet: Wheeler had this going for him, and Linka usually didn't approve of it.
  • Christianity is Catholic: The episode "Nothing's Sacred" implies that Linka is Catholic, by making her reference the Vatican. However, Eastern Orthodoxy was far more common among Christians in the Soviet Union, although there were Catholics, usually among specific ethnic groups (Lithuanians, Poles, Rusyns, and some of the Belorussians, Germans and Ukrainians for instance). Of course, another name for Eastern Orthodoxy is Orthodox Catholic and the relationship is... complicated, so a member may legitimately think of themselves as Catholic and not be an example at all.
    • Then again, the Vatican is strongly believed to be the place where St. Peter is buried. And it's worth noting that both Catholic and Orthodox Christianity are very fond of the Apostles.note  Plus, Linka is appalled after hearing that some stolen Orthodox icons are being sold as well.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Commander Clash was a minor recurring ally of the Planeteers introduced in the DiC Entertainment seasons. He's nowhere to be seen in the New Adventures of Captain Planet seasons produced by Hanna-Barbera.
    • Looten Plunder's henchman Argos Bleak is absent in the show's final season. He was replaced by a pair of dim-witted lumberjack thugs named Oakey and Dokey Pinehead.
  • Clear My Name: The episode "Jail House Flock" engages this when Captain Planet and the Planeteers are sent to jail. It's made more difficult when Greedly lets the Planeteers go, then frames them for "breaking out of jail", thus making them fugitives.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Linka is a Tsundere who always denies her crush on Wheeler, but openly shows jealousy and possessiveness when he has a Girl of the Week (such as Teresa, a homeless Mexican girl in "A Twist of Fate"). During one of these incidents, Kwame commented that Wheeler wasn't the only one who was acting stupidly, to which she snapped (unconvincingly) that he didn't know anything.
  • Clueless Aesop: The show provides quite a few examples, especially in its Very Special Episodes. Many have questioned whether it was really appropriate for a show about kids and their superhero buddy fighting supervillains and saving the world to tackle issues like gang violence, drug addiction, genocide, AIDS, and The Troubles in Northern Ireland.
    • The show tackled gang violence all throughout its run, with four episodes on the topic... "Utopia", "'Teers In the Hood", "Talkin' Trash", and "One of the Gang", and even in episodes where another social issue is raised, there are moments of gang violence in the story. Granted, gang violence tends to affect younger people the most, so its inclusion has some merit, but it’s still pretty jarring.
    • Ted Turner really wanted the show to cover the subject of overpopulation, which manifested in the episodes “Population Bomb” and “Numbers Game”, both of which greatly mishandled the subject, even going so far as to praise China’s then-current “one-child policy” and advocate its global adoption. This is a show for kids, mind you.
    • The producers of Captain Planet also brought in child psychologists to review some of the more controversial episodes. This includes the episodes "Mind Pollution" and "A Formula For Hate".
    • On the whole, the environmental messages don't translate very well to real life because of how reductive and simplistic they usually are in dealing with the subject, as though the energy production, manufacturing, and waste disposal industries cause environmental damage just for the sheer hell of it, not to mention that many of the issues it discusses are being caused in the show by singular supervillains rather than those large industries. Word of God is that this was a necessary evil, since making the villains too "real" would send the implication to the children of factory workers, loggers etc. that their parents were evil villains.
    • The aforementioned episode dealing with The Troubles along with other ethnic conflicts of the time, “If It’s Doomsday, This Must Be Belfast”, is among the most infamous examples found in the show; it sees Verminous Skumm and Duke Nukem plant nuclear bombs in then-present day Northern Ireland, Palestine, and Apartheid South Africa and giving one person from each “side” a detonator. Cue the Planeteers arriving and disarming the situations with a Prejudice Aesop.
  • Color-Coded Elements: Each ring is color-coded in a unique way.
    • The Earth ring is gold, has a green gem with globe symbol, and emits a green light;
    • The Fire ring is silver, has a red gem with a yellow flame accent, and emits a red light;
    • The Wind ring is gold, has a dark blue gem with white wisps, and emits a white light;
    • The Water ring is gold, has a light blue gem with a wave, and emits a blue light; and
    • The Heart ring is gold, has a yellow gem with a red heart, and emits a yellow light.
  • Combined Energy Attack: Captain Planet, down to his elements. The Planeteers themselves would frequently combine their powers in smaller form, for example, Linka and Wheeler creating a laser by combining Wind and Fire.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Marvel Comics published a comic book based on the cartoon that lasted 12 issues.
  • Commander Contrarian: Wheeler exists to say or do something stupid or jerkass and then be corrected by his wise non-American teammates. Oh, and to have his power of fire fail to get them out of the latest tight spot.
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Any viewpoint innocently contrary to the show is given to Wheeler. Even when he has a perfectly legitimate point, the show sets him up to be "proven" wrong, mainly because he has the wrong attitude or goes about things the wrong way.
    • In "Wheeler's Ark", the team is taking homeless endangered animals to Hope Island in an effort to protect them. Wheeler complains about this and rather than make the point that taking a cute but endangered species out of its habitat is bad, he's a heartless jerk. It then gets subverted by Gaia saying explicitly that all the animals must return to where they belong. Hilariously, though, the kids don't seem to get the idea... and when Wheeler changes his mind, he takes the Planeteers' original attitude to the extreme, adopting even a whale.
    • Inverted in "Mind Pollution," when Wheeler is the one who talks sense into Linka when she's high on Bliss.
      • And again in "'Teers In The Hood", when he talked Gi out of killing the guy who shot her friend.
    • Wheeler is also shown to be right in "Beast of the Temple", when he is the only Planeteer convinced from the beginning that the titular Beast isn't real.
    • "Hollywaste" inverts the trope, too. Upon meeting Dr. Blight's sister, four of the Planeteers (especially Linka) are immediately suspicious of her. Only Wheeler believes she's innocent – and ends up being Right for the Wrong Reasons.
    • "Ozone Hole", in which Wheeler is just trying to cool off the Planeteers during a heat wave. Naturally, the episode focused on the environmental dangers of AC chemicals. However, it does better than usual in that the others aren't exempt; all of them think it's a great idea initially, and even after the incident with Duke Nukem, Gi forgets the potential problems with AC units in her eagerness to return to the coolness.
  • Conditional Powers: In addition to outside factors, the Planeteers lose the ability to wield their rings if they lose hope ("Kwame's Crisis") or if they're too mentally addled ("Mind Pollution").
  • Conflict Ball: Wheeler didn't go too well with anything else.
  • Confusion Fu: In "Planeteers Under Glass", Dr. Blight's evil computer MAL takes over an environmental simulation and is able to block out the protagonists' attempts to regain control. Then Wheeler steps in to confuse MAL into submission by randomly inputting commands into the terminal, like he did earlier in the episode.
  • Continuity Nod: While Captain Pollution appears in only a few episodes, the heroes occasionally reference him later, for example in "The Unbearable Blightness of Being" in Season 4.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Looten Plunder and to a smaller extent Hoggish Greedly. Sly Sludge often had elements of this, but he wasn't nearly as rich or as powerful as Greedly or Plunder.
  • Creator Cameo: One of the H-B era episodes featured Blight, Nukem, Skumm and Greedly taking over a TV network, with the owner named Fred Lerner (a thinly-veiled parody of Ted Turner, who voices himself!)
  • Cruella to Animals: Rarely seen on the show, surprisingly.
  • Curious Qualms of Conscience: Rigger. Especially towards the end of the series, he would frequently be alarmed at his boss Greedly's actions and point out obvious environmental/ social impacts in an apparent hope that his boss will be concerned too. Unfortunately though, Greedly's response was never favourable, and Rigger didn't act on his conscience.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Why didn't the villains just sell their technology instead of using it against the Planeteers and being foiled?
    • Particularly mind-boggling when Dr. Blight switches bodies with Gaia for an episode. Gaia uses Blight's technology to effortlessly clean up oil spills, put out raging wildfires etc.; Dr. Blight is furious at the end of the episode. Just the oil spill technology would make her the world's first trillionaire if she shopped it around to oil companies, governments, the UN, Greenpeace...
    • Played straight in Sly Sludge's final appearance in the series, where he finally gets a clue that legit recycling is actually profitable and actually has a change of heart about pollution.

    Tropes: D-F 
  • Darker and Edgier: A few episodes were much darker than the rest of the series, with "Mind Pollution", "'Teers In The 'Hood", "Sea No Evil", "101 Mutations", and "Talkin' Trash" standing out the most.
  • Death Glare: From Adolf Hitler to Captain Planet. Planet actually feels pain from the hate Hitler projects.
  • Distressed Dudes: Ma-Ti and Wheeler have both been in situations where they were captured and needed to be rescued on several occasions.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Literally applied in "101 Mutations". Dr. Blight has a pair of guard dogs in the episode that she mistreats. Eventually, she finds herself at their mercy when the shock collars keeping them in line are removed.
  • Downer Ending:
    • "Whoo Gives a Hoot?" The Planeteers attempt to stop Looten Plunder with a court injunction against clear-cutting an old growth forest. They fail and the episode ends on that note, with Plunder taunting them to try and stop him again. Notable for being one of the only episodes where the Planeteers officially lose.
    • The episode "Mind Pollution" where Verminous Skumm hands out drugs to everyone and ends up killing Linka's cousin.
    • The episode "Utopia" ends with Kwame recoiling in shock as he hears that crime and gang violence are exploding nationwide, just after having a nightmare and reassuring himself that there could never be a world ruled by street gangs.
  • Drill Tank: Verminous Skumm and his minions operate a tank with a drill in "Rain of Terror".
  • Drugs Are Bad: "Mind Pollution". Skumm's drug Bliss is realistic, in that it does make people feel good for a while, but you must take more and more to get the same high. Though dragging down the gritty realism factor somewhat are its effects on its users (glowing red eyes, turning addicts into literal raving zombies), and how it is made and peddled exclusively by a malevolent human rat mutant.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In the first few episodes, Captain Planet doesn't wear boots.
  • Easter Egg: In "'Teers in the Hood", Shaggy and Velma are at their high school. At 2:18.
  • Easy Amnesia: The episode "A Twist of Fate" has Wheeler gain amnesia from getting hit on the head. He eventually recovers his memories after the homeless loan him a pair of shoes that remind him of what Gaia told him about better understanding how rough the homeless have it.
  • Element No. 5: Ma-Ti is empowered with Heart so that he can have his own elemental power while fire, earth, water, and wind are already taken.
  • Elemental Powers: "Earth! Fire! Wind! Water! Heart! GO PLANET!"
  • Empathic Weapon: The rings, which can't work while in heavy pollution.
    • Ma-Ti's Heart ring was unable to scan exactly what Hoggish Greedly was doing with Wheeler in a distant temple in one episode, because the very fact he was doing something evil blocked away anything else the ring could detect.
  • Ending Theme: Which is a mix of rock and rap.
  • Engineered Public Confession: In "Jail House Flock", Rigger is tricked by Gi into confessing that his boss Hoggish Greedly lied about his promise to replace the wetlands his construction project was going to destroy and that the two crooks had Captain Planet and the Planeteers arrested under false pretenses. Rigger's blabbing was especially undignified for him because he wasn't aware that every word he said was being heard in the courtroom from a speaker.
  • Eternal Hero: Captain Planet, as a heroic incarnation of Gaia, is arguably an example. Arguable because he's a modern-day hero and we might yet kill the planet for good.
  • "Eureka!" Moment:
    • "The Dead Seas": The Planeteers are stuck inside a sphere on a conveyor belt heading for some machinery. When Gi hits the side of the prison out of frustration with Greedly's scheme (which will hurt sea life), Linka criticizes her for making the sphere rock. That's when Wheeler realizes that if they rock the sphere hard enough, they can get it off the belt.
    • "Don't Drink the Water": Ma-Ti and Kwame go in search of clean water to wash off the Captain after he gets covered in polluted water. Frustrated at their failure, Ma-Ti knocks over several barrels, saying that there isn't a drop of water to be found. Then Kwame realizes that there's a dripping water pipe nearby.
    • "The Big Clam-Up": The Planteers get sent to San Francisco to investigate a series of mysterious food poisoning incidents and Ma-Ti, who's become fascinated by noir novels, tries his hand at detective work. After several false conclusions as to who was responsible for the poisonings, he manages to figure out something from all the clues he picked up from each mishap, realizing that they're all items that one gets from a seafood restaurant. He checks the matchbook for the restaurant's name and its address.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: In "Smog Hog", Hoggish Greedly mass-produces a smog-generating car and the added pollution eventually becomes harmful to his son, making him desperate enough to beg the Planeteers to summon Captain Planet.
  • Everybody Cries:
    • All five Planeteers break down crying in "Summit To Save Earth, Part 1" after Zarm transforms Gaia into a very old mortal woman who appears to be dead.
    • A group of villagers in "The Dream Machine" burst into tears upon seeing their once peaceful and prosperous community turned into an industrial wasteland by their greedy wishes for unnecessary technology.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Captain Planet is an environmentally-friendly and generally friendly super hero, but he had his fill of Zarm in the "Summit to Save Earth" two-parter after he caused a Bad Future of Earth being literally trashed all over.
    Captain Planet (at Zarm): You're trash, and this is one time I'm not recycling!
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Wheeler for Linka, and MAL for Dr. Blight.
  • Evil Colonialist: Hoggish Greedly and Looten Plunder. Both of them often go to foreign countries in search of more wealth and power at the expense of the natives. Sly Sludge also counts, since his garbage dumping operations are all over the planet.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • Captain Planet received one in the form of Captain Pollution. He was summoned with evil counterparts of the Planeteers' rings, worn by the Eco-villains: Super Radiation (Duke Nukem), Deforestation (Looten Plunder), Smog (Sly Sludge), Toxins (Verminous Skumm), and Hate (Dr. Blight).
    • Zarm is the evil counterpart to Gaia, and the most threatening villain of the series. Fittingly, he at one point tried to manipulate the Planeteers into using his rings to create a "Captain Conquest."
  • Evil Feels Good: "The Conqueror" has the Planeteers find enjoyment in being manipulated by Zarm.
  • Evil Redhead: Hoggish Greedly has red hair and is a wasteful glutton who loves causing harm to the environment.
  • Evil Twin: Captain Pollution was an evil version of Captain Planet who was summoned by the villains, could be defeated by beams of sunlight since he's all dirty and stuff, and talked like a surfer to contrast Captain Planet, who had a sense of humor, but sounded and acted like a wise mature adult.
  • Extinct in the Future: The episode "Gorillas Will Be Missed" starts in a future where gorillas are extinct.
  • Face Death with Dignity: In the episode "Population Bomb", Piebald is aware of his people's inevitable fate. He gives advice to Wheeler so that humanity might avoid suffering the same fate.
  • Faking the Dead: In "The Ghost of Porkaloin Past", it is eventually revealed that Hoggish Greedly's grandfather Don Porkaloin only faked his death as part of an attempt to persuade his grandson into abandoning his eco-unfriendly lifestyle.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: While some episodes showed the villains wielding lasers, this trope was actually averted in many episodes that depicted real firearms, mostly by minor thugs or soldiers not associated with any of the Eco-Villains.
    • Not only that, the Planeteers are threatened and shot at with those firearms.
    • Also subverted in "Wheeler's Ark", where Dr. Blight's new laser weaponry makes them even better killers, testing them on wolves to deadly and heartbreaking effect, kicking off the episode.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: "Mind Pollution" shows Linka's cousin Boris dying onscreen of a drug overdose, and "Utopia" shows a family being killed in a drive-by shooting, with a Dead-Hand Shot and the ground covered in blood.
  • "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: "An Inside Job", in which Kwame drinks water polluted from raw sewage, which Wheeler of course didn't boil or dispose of when he realized Sly Sludge was pumping out tons of effluent straight into the seemingly clear mountain water. Fortunately, the Planeteers and the Geocruiser were shrunk down in the water by Dr. Blight while Kwame was consuming it, allowing them to fight the parasites inside.
  • Fertile Feet: Gaia, in "No Place Like Home," turns a lifeless construction site into a thriving grassland full of flowers simply by walking through it.
  • Five-Token Band: Kwame (African), Wheeler (white American), Linka (Eastern European), Gi (Asian), and Ma-Ti (South American).
  • Flawless Token: Kwame, Gi, and Ma-Ti come off as this way. Primarily due to Linka and Wheeler being the only ones to suffer losses, or undergo Character Development. Wheeler also ends up being the only one who has any actual character flaws. Ma-Ti comes off as this way less so (see Truth in Television).
  • For the Evulz: The most common motivation when it comes to Captain Planet villains is to cause harm to the environment solely for the sake of doing so. While technically some of them were also ostensibly gaining money for it, they usually still ended up being more complicated than legitimate alternatives would be. In the episode where Dr. Blight tried to sell an atomic bomb to Hitler, one must wonder how she intended to profit on wiping out her own timeline, and presumably herself. Verminous Skumm technically wanted to ruin the world for humans so he and his rats could take over, but his methods tended to make little sense, and he often just tried to make life miserable for humans because he hated them, though given his hatred of humans his desire to harm them is at least explicable.
    • One episode had Plunder starting a war between two desert villages so he could sell weapons and tanks to both of them. One attacks the other while he's in the village, and eventually they're both so poor they can't purchase food or repair their farms.
    • For the most part, Hoggish Greedly and Looten Plunder cause destruction for profit, though their methods are more make profits in the moment and not for the future. Duke Nukem while typically falling into this absorbs radiation to stay alive, it's basically how he eats.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Gaia and Dr. Blight switch bodies in one episode, and end up switching powers too. Dr. Blight uses her powers over nature to cause all kinds of ecological chaos... which Gaia then starts fixing using Dr. Blight's technology.
  • Free-Range Children: Do any of their parents care that their children are fighting against evil doers about the world? Only Ma-Ti and Wheeler were explicitly explained as having no parents to speak of (Ma-Ti is Conveniently an Orphan; Wheeler ran away from home), so what about the others?
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: Despite the alleged desire to be topical, all the tanks and weapons are very sci-fi, and everything uses lasers or missiles.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Ma-Ti, from before getting his "lame" heart powers. Linka and Gi are also good with animals, though they specialize with a certain type (birds and water creatures, to be specific).
  • Fur and Loathing: Although it only shows up a couple of times with Looten Plunder, Hoggish Greedly, and Dr. Blight, and isn't given any real focus. Both surprising and refreshing for this show.

    Tropes: G-K 
  • Gaia's Lament: Though Captain Planet takes place in modern times, with mostly current technology and cultures combined with occasional super-science and high-technology, in "A Hero For Earth", Gaia finds out the world is in a terrible state, though still basically in the same condition as the real world, with polluted waters and skies, huge cities, and dying animals. The poor state of the environment is enough to make her take action.
  • Gag Dub: For Earth Day 2019, Cartoon Network made a dub centering around the Eco-Villains being annoyed by the show's theme song.
  • G-Rated Drug: In the episode "Mind Pollution", Verminous Skumm handed some drugs called Bliss to everyone. Of course, it doesn't turn out well for the users. It has some exceedingly nasty side effects; in addition to completely negating the ability to feel pain (to the point where potentially fatal injuries are flat-out ignored), it is quite toxic and, judging from the fact that all the victims are in a hospital afterwards, has a really unpleasant withdrawal.
  • Generation Xerox: The episode where the bad guys form a Legion of Doom-type setup (see below) also sees a second alternate timeline where a new generation of Planeteers drop in to make the save. Look close enough and you'll notice the future Wind user looks a lot like Wheeler and the future Fire user looks a lot like Linka. Wheeler even points this out, though Linka refuses to ruminate on it.
  • The Gods Must Be Lazy: Gaia could easily restore barren land with her Fertile Feet, but chooses not to because humans need to learn to take care of their own world (except when we can't and need magic). Fair enough. But why can't she just choose another fire ring user when Wheeler Refused the Call and went back in time to stop himself from accepting it? Okay, maybe the Planeteers are chosen by a higher power that even she can't change. It's a guess, but whatever. Now, explain why she decides to take a hundred-year nap in the middle of the goddamn industrial revolution, then relies entirely on five teenagers to fix a century of her neglect? What the hell, Earth Mother?
    • Addressed in "The Unbearable Blightness of Being," where Blight-as-Gaia's attempted radical ecological alterations (first on her list being to turn the Sahara into a garden) would ultimately end up being just as destructive as the stuff Blight usually does, addressing why Gaia didn't do that herself. Yet this creates another problem, because the Sahara Desert is a natural part of the environment and of course turning it into a garden would be bad (although there are a few theories that it was massively expanded by overgrazing in early history). But there's plenty of places ruined by man that she could be affecting that she just... doesn't. Like cleaning up Chernobyl, or putting out the coal fires in Centralia or refilling the Aral Sea or making countless nuclear or toxic waste sites safe again.
      • In the same episode, Gaia in Blight's body spends the episode fixing ecological problems with Blight's technology. It seems that while she could use her own power to fix the world, she'd much rather teach mankind to clean up after themselves instead, and being in Blight's body gave her the chance to show humanity it was possible. Which is better? Her fixing everything for humanity and them learning nothing, if anything making the problem worse by making humanity expect her to just clean up after them, or actually forcing mankind to take responsibility for the problems they created and learn to fix them themselves?
    • However, if Zarm interferes, being a rival god, Gaia WILL step in. When Zarm in "Future Shock" brings future eco-villains into the past to change the future, Gaia steps in and brings future Planeteers with a future Captain Planet to try and stop them.
  • Grand Theft Me: "The Unbearable Blightness Of Being" features Dr. Blight kidnapping and switching with Gaia's body. This backfires on her when Gaia spends the episode fixing ecological problems with Blight's technology.
  • Great White Hunter: In one episode, Hoggish Greedly captured animals for clients who wanted to experience hunting without the dangers real hunters face. A real hunter opposed him.
  • Green Aesop: Duh. The whole show is devoted to morals on taking better care of the environment and the consequences of pollution and improper waste disposal, with every episode even having a "Planeteer Alert" segment to drive the point home.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Pops up in "If It's Doomsday, This Must Be Belfast". Both parties in each ethnic conflict are portrayed as stubborn, angry, and having legitimate points. But they all agree that nuclear annihilation is not on the table.
  • Heal It with Water: Clean water is one of the things which can revive Cap if he's had his powers drained by pollution.
  • Healing Shiv: Molten rock and raging fires will roast just about anything that comes into contact with them, except Captain Planet. Since fires and magma flows are part of the Earth's natural ecosystem, Captain Planet can actually recharge himself by getting set on fire or swimming through molten rock. Lightning bolts are also shown to be capable of restoring Captain Planet's energy with no damage done to him (in fact, Gaia used this once to trick Dr. Blight into accidentally healing him when he was almost dead).
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: It is pointed out that Heart is the most useful power, even more than Fire. Really, if Ma-Ti weren't such a Nice Guy he would brainwash everyone. In an alternate timelime in which Wheeler Refused the Call and didn't take the Fire ring, he does just that. He did use it to convince businessmen to give him money, which he gave to needy families to buy food for their children. The Trope Namer, too.
  • Heart Light: The symbol on Captain Planet's chest. Captain Planet weakens whenever it gets dirtied by pollution and can only recover after the symbol has been cleaned with water.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Hoggish Greedly’s henchman Rigger goes straight after his environmentalist grandfather Don Porkaloin teaches him a lesson, as does Sly Sludge when he learns that he could profit from recycling. In a future timeline in "Dirty Politics", it's hinted that Dr. Blight will become reformed by her daughter, Betsi Blight. In addition, several one-time villains get reformed by the Planeteers in the series.
  • Humanity on Trial: "Twelve Angry Animals", where the Planeteers get held on trial by several extinct and endangered animals, representing the human race.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Pretty well averted. While those poor silly humans are always wrecking their planet with wanton disregard, nearly everyone the Planeteers meet (except the eco-villains, of course) can actually be reasoned with. The vast amount of secondary villains who redeem themselves make this clear.
  • Humongous Mecha: Hoggish Greedly and Rigger plan to obtain colossal amounts of crude oil in a very short amount of time with a mobile oil rig in the first episode, "A Hero For Earth". It towers over the trees and almost smashes a rabbit who is ant-sized in comparison, but it still proves to be no match for Captain Planet, and Greedly and Rigger move on to operate smaller yet still destructive machines with a pig-motif instead.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Captain Planet, in the heat of battle.
    • Captain Planet's pun humor was actually designed for the parents watching the show, a throwback to 1960's pop culture.
  • I Ate WHAT?!:
    • In "Horns Aplenty", Wheeler eats some authentic Chinese food, where Gi warns him that this isn't the kind of Chinese food he's used to.
      Wheeler: [eating] What do you mean? It's great!
      Gi: [looking at the food] Really? I didn't know you liked duck feet soup and squid in its own ink.
      Wheeler: [eyes bulge out and he begins to cough] Suddenly, I don't feel so good...
    • At the end of the episode, Wheeler tries some grub worm stew, believing that it's pasta. The other Planeteers decide not to disabuse him of the notion to prevent another such moment.
    • In "Going Bats, Man", Wheeler is chewing on a homegrown carrot when the owner says that she uses guano (bat poop) to fertilize her soil. Wheeler exclaims in disgust and spits out the carrot.
  • Identical Grandson: In "Future Shock", the antagonists are three villains descended from Dr. Blight, Looten Plunder, and Verminous Skumm who all bear a noticeable resemblance to their ancestors (though Skumm's descendant has a second head). The same episode features a future team of Planeteers recruited by Gaia from an alternate timeline, with the bearers of fire, wind, and heart resembling Wheeler, Linka, and Ma-Ti and the bearers of earth and water resembling gender-flipped versions of Kwame and Gi.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Although the "Heart" power is useless in a fight (unless it's used to Summon Bigger Fish or in other creative ways), it does come with immunity to the Idiot Ball, especially in Ma-Ti's character focus episodes.
    • Especially notable in "The Big Clam-Up", where Ma-Ti is the only one to spot the obvious trap that is the tip to go to a restaurant on Pier 13 at midnight, and is thus able to save the others, who were definitely carrying the Idiot Ball at that point (and also when they talked to a mime who was obviously Verminous Skumm and didn't figure it out).
    • Blight picks it up big time in "The Unbearable Blightness of Being": she creates a machine that allows her to switch bodies with Gaia, does so and starts using her powers to destroy the environment for the hell of it... yet apparently gave no thought whatsoever to the fact that after the switch, Gaia is now in her body. Not only is Gaia free to wander around her base, but Blight didn't even inform MAL of this. Naturally, not only does Gaia use Blight's gadgets to fight back with MAL's assistance, she even tricks him into continuing to do so after they switch back, claiming it's "all part of her plan".
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: In "'Teers in the 'Hood", Gi gets called out on this by Wheeler as she attempts to drown the gangster who shot one of her teachers. A fair example, as the Planeteers have never actually killed anybody.
  • I Have Your Wife: The villains sometimes try to manipulate the heroes with hostages. It never works for long.
    • In "Deadly Ransom", Dr. Blight and Duke Nukem first capture the Planeteers to lure Captain Planet, and then capture Captain Planet to force the team to deliver tons of nuclear waste.
    • In "Don't Drink the Water", the villains pull out the captive Wheeler when Captain Planet turns up to stop them, threatening to kill him if the hero doesn't back off and let them carry on.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: In "Hate Canal", Skumm complains that Captain Planet showing up is the worst thing that could possibly happen...only to contradict himself seconds later when he notices that the captain redirected the torpedos he shot at him so that they're coming back at Skumm's lair.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: Characters shrinking happens from time to time.
    • On the episode "An Inside Job", four of the Planeteers are shrunk by Dr. Blight. The episode becomes a "Fantastic Voyage" Plot when Kwame accidentally drinks them and they must fight parasites inside of him.
    • In "No Small Problem", Sly Sludge shrinks the Planeteers and leaves them in a dump.
    • Wheeler and Linka after getting hit by Blight's frog darts in "Frog Day Afternoon".
  • I Never Told You My Name: In "Domes of Doom", Ma-Ti becomes suspicious of Baron Giftus (actually Looten Plunder in disguise) when the latter addresses him by name despite their never having met before.
  • Ink-Suit Actor:
  • Invocation:
    • "Let our powers combine!" and "Go, Planet!"
    • It also has an occasional Dark Reprise in the two-parter where the villains summon Captain Pollution.
      Go, Pollution!
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: "Two Futures" has Wheeler learn what would happen if he never joined the Planeteers.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Wheeler is often less patient and more hotheaded than the other Planeteers, but he still cares about doing the right thing and comes to his friends' aid (and the aid of innocent bystanders) when they need it.
  • Joke of the Butt: In the episode "Greed is the Word", one of the actors starring on Babewatch is named Linda Bubblebutt.
  • Jumped at the Call: All of the Planeteers accepted their role in defending the Earth without hesitation.
  • Just a Kid: Ma-Ti often feels like he's The Load of the group, and one of the reasons is that he's just twelve years old, whereas the other Planeteers are all over the age of fifteen.
  • Karma Houdini: The villains seem to have received prison escape lessons from Lex Luthor and the Joker, as no matter how many times they get put away, they seem to be back the very next episode.
    • That's if they even get punished at all. There are plenty of times when a villain receives no punishment beyond having their scheme be thwarted. The loss may hurt them financially, but they tend to walk away from the experience without so much as a slap on the wrist.
    • The worst punishment any villain ever got was Verminous Skumm accidentally eating a dose of Bliss. Since he doesn't have any more and lost the formula, he got better, but he would have had to go through withdrawal, which is implied to be very unpleasant.
    • The Planeteers themselves, minus Ma-Ti, destroyed a military base while under Zarm's influence and never got prosecuted for it.
  • Kick the Dog: Many of the villains have moments where they do something cruel just because in case they weren't evil enough for you. One particularly heinous example is in the episode "Whoo Gives a Hoot?", where the ending has Looten Plunder rub it in the Planeteer's faces that they failed to prevent him from clear-cutting a forest where endangered species lived and dared them to stop him from doing so again.

    Tropes: L-O 
  • Large Ham:
    • All the villains, including "The Führer" himself in the infamous World War II episode.
    • Captain Planet rules this trope, in addition to being a fine example of how Incoming Ham is done.
  • Last-Name Basis: Wheeler's first name is James, and Dr. Blight's first name is Babs (presumably a short for Barbara).
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: The final season, which not only gives the Planeteers new outfits and designs, but also replaces its Opening Narration with a Theme Tune Rap.
  • Legion of Doom:
    • The "Summit to Save Earth" two-parter depicted an alternate timeline in the future after the regular Rogues Gallery formed a proper evil alliance and conquered the world.
    • There was also the two-part episode "Mission to Save Earth", where the Eco-Villains formed that alliance under Looten Plunder and created evil versions of the kids' rings, which enabled them to summon Captain Pollution.
  • Let's Meet the Meat: An interesting example. Despite its clear animal-rights agenda, Captain Planet never explicitly promotes vegetarianism nor does it condemn eating meat or hunting when it's done safely and smartly. In one episode, a man ate a bear's meat and wore its fur, but also honored its spirit. In another, a man chided Linka, as she was angry at him for hunting animals for sport, even though she herself was eating a lamb kebab.
    • Ted Turner owns Ted's Montana Grill, which serves, among other things, bison meat, but actively promotes the sustainability of bison herds and is notably aggressive about being environmentally-friendly in its practices. Between the restaurant and the show, the message of "eating meat is OK if done safely and sustainably" is a consistent one.
  • Licked by the Dog: Wheeler is the least enthusiastic about the group's mission and has the shortest temper in the lot. However, his heart of gold is hinted at given that Ma-Ti (whose powers render him completely immune to deception) enjoys his company and shows mild Big Brother Worship towards him.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Blight. Duke Nukem counts to a lesser extent.
  • Malaproper: Linka can fall victim to confusing her words at times. Also happened to Ma-Ti in "The Big Clam-Up".
  • Mama Bear: Gaia becomes enraged when the Planeteers were threatened by Zarm in "Summit to Save Earth, Part 1".
  • Master of Illusion: Zarm; Gaia to a degree.
  • May Contain Evil: This is pretty much the basis for the corporate ventures of Dr. Blight, Hoggish Greedly, and Looten Plunder, and also what goes on in Sly Sludge's waste management operations.
  • Meaningful Name:
  • Messy Pig: Hoggish Greedly proves this, being a pig-like man with poor table manners.
  • Misapplied Phlebotinum: None of the Planeteers ever used their rings to their full potential. If they did, Ma-Ti alone would be enough to end most crises without bothering to summon the mullet-wearing hero.
    • Keep in mind that Captain Planet represents the kids' powers combined and magnified. He wields the rings' powers to a higher extent than the rings themselves.
    • This was explored slightly in the episode where Wheeler time travels and has a Refusal of the Call moment: Ma-Ti was using his ring to brainwash people into doing what he felt was right.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The animals in "Planeteers Under Glass" were all hybrids. And did we mention that there is also a flying cyber-demon during the time that the Apocalypse Class is spiked up to Class 6?
  • Moniker As Enticement: In the theme song, it says that if the viewers help the environment, they can be Planeteers, too.
  • The Moral Substitute: It's an action cartoon, with an environmental message. On the old Captain Planet website, this was discussed as manifesting itself in numerous restrictions on the types of action that could be shown. For example, the Planeteers never punch or kick the eco-villains because it was felt physical, imitable violence ran counter to the ethic they wanted to promote.
  • Morality Pet: Hoggish Greedly's son, to a small degree, as well as Dr. Blight's daughter, who was supportive of the Planeteers from the very start.
  • Mother Nature: Gaia is the spirit of the Earth.
  • Multinational Team: The Planeteers are all from different continents, with Kwame being from Africa, Wheeler being from North America, Linka being from Eastern Europe, Gi being from Asia, and Ma-Ti being from South America.
  • Mundane Solution: In "Hate Canal", the Planeteers are covered in polluted water, causing their rings not to work. They then come across a hose linked to clean water and Gi tries to use her ring on it, but it doesn't work. She wonders how they can turn on the water, until Ma-Ti simply turns the valve to the water supply, embarrassing her.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: Ma-Ti's heart power can enable him to sense danger.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The villains have the kind of Meaningful Names that should trigger warning bells for any sane person. Would you invest in a company with a CEO named Looten Plunder? Or take environmental consulting from Sly Sludge? Would you let a man named Hoggish Greedly drill for oil and mine for coal by your home city? Or let a woman named Dr. Blight... within 50 feet of you?
  • Nebulous Evil Organization: The Eco-villains occasionally organize with each other, though they're more likely to appear alone. None of them are really nice to each other, though Sly Sludge usually uses Dr. Blight's technology. See also the "Legion of Doom," trope above.
  • Neglected Rez: One episode features an Indian reservation, highlighting some problems that a few reservations face like land not suitable for farming cash crops leading to low development and poverty. Looten Plunder tries to irrigate it, and does give the residents paying jobs, but didn't quite think it through, resulting in environmental damage. By the end of the episode, the natives go back to farming, but they farm crops that are native to the territory and set up wind turbines.
  • Never Learned to Read: "The Fine Print" had Looten Plunder trick a farm worker named Joe into spraying pesticides all over the farm he works at. The deception works because Joe is illiterate and can't read that he's actually spraying poison on the crops, but by the end of the episode he makes an effort to learn to read so he can't make the same mistakes again.
  • Never Say "Die": "101 Mutations" plays this straight by using the terms "destroy" and "put down" when referring to dogs being euthanized, though it's justified due to this being explained to a 10-year-old boy.
  • New Year Has Come: Right at the end of "Two Futures, Part 2". Linka brings out a small electronic keyboard and sings out "Auld Lang Syne", and in a few moments the Planeteers join in the song, in a Shout-Out to It's a Wonderful Life.
  • No Fourth Wall: "Hog Tide", in which Captain Planet sings a part of the show's theme song.
  • No Matter How Much I Beg: Gaia, while in Dr. Blight's body, eventually fools MAL into doing this to Dr. Blight once they are switched back.
  • No Swastikas: None are to be seen when they meet Adolf Hitler, and Hitler doesn't even look like the historical Hitler. Specifically, for some inscrutable reason, they changed his trademark mustache to something that wouldn't be out of place on Fu Manchu.
  • Nobody Poops: Somewhat averted. Ma-Ti mentions that manure is a good fertilizer in one Planeteer Alert. If it mentions a kind of mammal solid waste, it implies that humans void as well. Other episodes depict raw sewage.
  • Noir Episode: In "The Big Clam-Up", Ma-Ti becomes interested in reading 1940s detective novels, and imagines himself and his colleagues in sequences in shades of gray.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Suchi the monkey is Ma-Ti's sidekick.
  • Not So Extinct: One episode features an interplanetary space zoo that has allowed many species to escape extinction, including sabretooth cats, mammoths, mastodons, wooly rhinos, giant ground sloths, great auks, elephant birds, passenger pigeons and dodos.
  • Obviously Evil:
    • Played straight with Hoggish Greedly, Sly Sludge, Verminous Skumm, and Duke Nukem, who are all ugly, rude, and at times dirty. Other Eco-Villains looked better but still had obviously evil names.
    • The evil anti-Planet rings that summon Captain Pollution are all named for evil things. In order, from the summon chant: Super-radiation, Deforestation, Smog, Toxics, and Hate.
  • Oh, Crap!: Whenever Captain Planet's summoned, the villains know their plans are done for. When Greedly sees him for the first time, he immediately orders Rigger to get their mobile oil rig the heck outta dodge.
  • Oireland: The Belfast sequence in "If It's Doomsday, It Must Be Belfast" is probably the single most offensive take on this.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Dr. Blight. She's worked with Sly Sludge to make garbage-disposing machines, created the world's largest oil refinery and made incredibly powerful rocket fuel for the President of the United States, made several time-traveling devices, experimented on countless animals and plants, and she's even hacked governmental computers to change national parks into waste dumps. Since she can pretty much create anything, she's the subject villain of many episodes. The only villain seen more frequently than she is is Hoggish Greedly.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Played with. In "Bitter Waters", Linka actually is the one who questions if Looten Plunder is up to no good this time - because he went to an impoverished reservation and invested in the land specifically to give the people living there jobs and money to spend. However, prior to this, it's shown that Linka comes from a country with a lot of civil unrest.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Verminous Skumm ends up creating two plans that than involve corrupting humans into zombie like beings. The first time, he poisoned the water supply of a South American village with a fluid he manufactured called "Rat Rot". It turned the humans who got into contact with it into rat-humanoids like Verminous Skumm, but also made them feral and mindless. The other time, he produced a drug called "Bliss" and sold it on the streets of Washington D.C., which would give the user a high feeling and make their eyes glow red and eventually cause them to go insane with addiction.
  • Outside-Context Problem:
    • Captain Planet himself and the Planeteers. In the early episodes, it's obvious the villains didn't expect a bunch of kids with super-powered rings to interfere in their plans, and Captain Planet's even more of a surprise. It's best summed up by Rigger's reaction in the pilot:
      Rigger: Holy smokes, what the heck is that? Huh, huh?
    • Gaia herself's even more this trope, as only other god-like beings, like Zarm, could even hope to match her power levels.

    Tropes: P-Z 
  • Papa Wolf: Captain Planet. When Skumm gets Linka hooked on Bliss, Captain Planet tosses Skumm out of a helicopter and is sorely tempted to dose him with his own product.
  • Parental Substitutes: Gaia and Captain Planet serve as parental substitutes for the Planeteers.
  • Parental Abandonment: The kids live on Hope Island with Gaia as their Team Mom. Wheeler is the only one explicitly stated to have living parents but has run away from home, and Ma-Ti is specifically shown to be an orphan raised by his grandfather. Linka's brother appears in an episode, making the lack of parental mention that much more noticeable. Kwame also states in one episode that he never got to know his father — implying his father is dead.
  • Parental Bonus: The episode "I Just Want to Be Your Teddy Bear" has the Planeteers attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans. At one point, Wheeler offers some beads to Linka, who is offended. After Wheeler then tries offering the beads to Gi, Gi simply takes the beads from him and states "Wheeler, you're incorrigible. But thanks for the souvenir." Children just see Wheeler offering the girls a present in the hope they might go on a date; adults will be aware that it's a Mardi Gras tradition for women to show their breasts in exchange for beads.
  • Personality Powers: Each Planeteer receives control of an element related to their personal environmental passion and their personality.
  • Pig Man: Hoggish Greedly vaguely resembles a pig, what with his obesity, pointed ears, and pink skin.
  • Plague Master: Verminous Skumm is capable of creating illnesses. Duke Nukem counts, however, his motives are mostly focused on spreading around radiation and nuclear waste.
  • Playing Both Sides: Verminous Skumm and Duke Nukem in “If It’s Doomsday, This Must Be Belfast” do this by planting nuclear devices in various places of ethnic conflict around the world and giving the detonators to someone from either respective hostile group, so both will be led to believe the other was responsible, the resulting nuclear war being Nukem and Skumm’s goal in and of itself.
  • Politically Correct History:
    • The multi-racial American army unit depicted in "A Good Bomb Is Hard To Find" is actually a subversion; while the U.S. military was for the most part racially segregated during World War II (such as the 442nd Infantry Division, which was formed almost entirely out of second-generation Japanese and was one of the most heavily decorated units in the war), a number of units on the European front such as the 26th Infantry Division were informally desegregated against army policy by 1945, which is around when the infamous Hitler segment is set.
    • Averted in "OK at the Gunfight Corral", where only Wheeler and Linka are permitted to go into a shop, while the others have to stay outside.
    • Completely thrown out the window in "If It's Doomsday, This Must Be Belfast". The racial slur "kaffir" is even thrown in South Africa, though the slurs tossed around in the other theatres of conflict are… questionable in their accuracy to say the least.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The Eco-Villains would occasionally show signs of being bigoted, just in case it wasn't clear to the audience that they are the bad guys.
    • Hoggish Greedly in "OK at the Gunfight Corral". He hired a bunch of racist white men to attack the local "Injuns" so he could claim their land as his and sell it to Sly Sludge, but otherwise he never even commented on anybody's race or did anything remotely discriminatory.
    • Verminous Skumm harassed and lied about a boy who had HIV, and he gave nuclear detonators to people fighting in The Troubles, The Apartheid Era, and the Arab–Israeli Conflict, in an attempt to discredit the entire human race.
    • Looten Plunder in "Bitter Waters", using terms like 'chief', 'wampum', referring to the Native Americans as his "red brothers". When corrected by the chairman of the local tribal council, his henchman Argos Bleak angrily declares that he "doesn't care if he's the blinkin' medicine man".
  • Potty Failure: In "Numbers Game", when Wheeler goes on a grocery run with his eight children in the dream sequence, his youngest daughter keeps trying to explain that she has to go to the bathroom, only for Wheeler to keep saying "Not now". Eventually, the little girl states that she's wet herself.
  • The Power of Hate: The hate of the Adolf Hitler expy is so strong that it can affect and weaken Captain Planet. And this is while Cap is literally clinging on to a nuclear missile!
  • The Power of the Sun: When Captain Planet got covered in "pollution" it was up to the Planeteers to clean him with pure water, then expose him to sunlight to restore his power.
  • Prison Episode: The episode "Jail House Flock" has Captain Planet and the Planeteers arrested. The Planeteers manage to get away and have to find a way to prove that Hoggish Greedly had them arrested under false pretenses while Captain Planet chooses to stay behind in his cell at the police station until the confusion is sorted out.
  • Private Detective: In the episode "The Big Clam-Up", Ma-Ti gets engrossed by a book about a private eye and tends to match the Planeteers' actions to the story he reads.
  • The Psycho Rangers: Five of the show's major villains team up with evil versions of the Planeteers' rings.
    • Looten Plunder has a Deforestation Ring, evil version of Kwame's Earth Ring.
    • Duke Nukem has a Super Radiation Ring, evil version of Wheeler's Fire Ring.
    • Sly Sludge has a Smog Ring, evil version of Linka's Wind Ring.
    • Verminous Skumm has a Toxics Ring, evil version of Gi's Water Ring.
    • Dr. Blight has a Hate Ring, evil version of Ma-Ti's Heart Ring.
      • The rings even come with their own Evil Counterpart for Captain Planet, Captain Pollution.
  • Pungeon Master: Captain Planet, Wheeler, and most of the villains tend to make puns.
  • Punny Name: Pick any villain on the show, their name will qualify: NO EXCEPTIONS.
  • Radiation-Immune Mutants: Duke Nukem (no relation to Duke Nukem) loves radiation so much he routinely has "jacuzzi dips" in radioactive pools.
  • "Reading Is Cool" Aesop: The importance of reading is the moral of the episode "The Fine Print", where an illiterate worker named Joe is duped by Looten Plunder into spraying a pesticide all over the farm he works at, not knowing that he's really using poison because he can't read the labels on the barrels. The episode's Planeteer Alert has the Planeteers inform the audience how reading can teach them new ways to take care of the environment.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Averted in the time travel episode where Wheeler shows off his Gun Twirling skills with a revolver. Kwame worries that he might accidentally shoot himself, until Greedly's henchman accidentally spills the beans that the gun is empty.
    Wheeler tests out the gun provided to him.
    Ma-Ti: He is quite good!
    Kwame: I hope he does not shoot himself...
    Henchman: He can't. He ain't got no bullets. ... Ooops!
    Wheeler: Huh!? (loses his grip on the gun, which flies and conks Greedly on the head)
  • Recruit Teenagers with Attitude: We're briefly shown qualities in all the Planeteers showing why they were given the ring, but Gaia specifically looking for teens to recruit puts her policy square in this trope.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: In "The Conqueror", Zarm happens to do this a lot while prompting the Planeteers to take his Gauntlets of Conquest.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: The team could eliminate most pollution by simply releasing the technology they use in their own vehicles and equipment (since we're told it doesn't pollute at all).
  • Refusal of the Call: In a two-part episode ("Two Futures"), Wheeler decides he'd have been better off not being a Planeteer (in a Shout-Out to It's a Wonderful Life), so he goes back in time and convinces himself to refuse the Fire ring. This results in a hellish present where there are no Planeteers. Wheeler then has go to back and stop himself from stopping himself.
  • Relative Error: "Missing Linka", where Wheeler mistakes Linka's older brother for her boyfriend. His jaw drops when Linka finally decides to share that information at the end of the episode.
  • The Remnant: In "Mission to Save Earth", the Planeteers come to an island and stumble upon Commander Clash. This soldier had been assigned to guard the island and prepare for a possible invasion of America by the Soviets. After they manage to convince him that the Cold War has been over for a while, he goes into a Heroic BSoD when he realizes his superiors had long forgotten about him and he had been fighting for nothing. Clash eventually finds a new purpose in helping the Planeteers protect the Earth from pollution and such.
  • Ret-Gone: In the episode "Future Shock", three villains descended from Looten Plunder, Dr. Blight, and Verminous Skumm are assigned by Zarm to travel back in time and kill a girl that will grow up to be a prominent defender of the environment in order to prevent the future from being changed. In the end, the three fire at Ma-Ti by mistake and their failure to secure their future results in them ceasing to exist.
  • Ring of Power:
    • The Planeteers' five rings have the powers of Earth, Fire, Wind, Water and Heart, and able to call upon Captain Planet when they combine.
    • The evil duplicates created by Dr. Blight have the opposite powers – Deforestation, Super Radiation, Smog, Toxics and Hate, respectively – which create Captain Pollution when they combine.
  • Rogues Gallery: There's a regular stable of villains with only a handful of one-offs. Hoggish Greedly and Dr. Blight appear much more frequently than the other villains, because they represent resource abuse and technology gone wrong respectively, which are probably the two biggest problems for nature.
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • In "Deadly Ransom", when Captain Planet is taken prisoner, the Planeteers' one option is delivering the ransom (which is nuclear waste) and the other - letting Dr. Blight and Duke Nukem kill the Captain.
    • In "Summit to Save Earth, Part 1" Zarm makes Gaia choose to either stop him from wrecking the Earth Summit or save the Planeteers, whom he has just trapped in a polluted tornado.
  • Sailor Earth: A common fan-fiction concept is a sixth, Australian Planeteer, as it is the only inhabited continent not represented on the team. Even without the potential Planeteers with rings coming from Australia, Oceania, and Antarctica, the show does induct new Planeteers all the time. They're almost always kids who help in one episode, then never show up again, and they don't have any rings or powers (the only exception is Goki in "Gorillas Will Be Missed"). Given that there are about six or seven billion humans, almost all of whom could probably join the Planeteers in this capacity, you have an entire species of Sailor Earths!
  • Science Is Bad:
    • While played straight with the character of Dr. Blight by having her focus her scientific endeavors on finding new ways to destroy the environment, all the other scientists are good. In fact, the show promotes the use of science and technology in a good way.
    • Technology on Hope Island is perfect eco-technology from the future that lets a supersonic jet fly off solar power. However, the Planeteers don't share this technology with anyone else, nor do they go into how the mining for rare earth elements for solar power isn't actually sustainable.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Hoggish Greedly, Looten Plunder, and Sly Sludge are occasionally suggested to believe that they can avoid repercussions for their actions as long as they're rich.
  • Secret Test of Character: Greedly's grandfather, green industrialist Don Porkaloin, fakes his death in "The Ghost of Porkaloin Past" and leaves a bogus fortune to his grandson to test if Greedly could be taught to be environmentally conscious. Nope. Made even worse as Greedly was practically being hand led to what the right choice was for his benefit, but he just blatantly ignored the signs.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Ma-Ti and Wheeler.
  • Sentai: A western take on this genre.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: The eco-villain cast can be seen as such.
    • Duke Nukem takes Pride in his superpowers.
    • Looten Plunder is an embodiment of Greed.
    • Verminous Skumm is Lust due to his bloodlust for death, destruction, and chaos.
    • Dr. Blight is Envy, because she envies other scientists, her sister's accomplishments and even Gaia's powers, and seeks to destroy them.
    • Hoggish Greedly, despite his name, is Gluttony.
    • Zarm represents Wrath due to his need to start conflicts to get revenge on Gaia, and so do the poachers Mame and Stalker Slaughter.
    • Sly Sludge is the embodiment of Sloth with his lazy waste disposal schemes.
  • Series Fauxnale: "Heat Wave" from season one sees Doctor Blight locate and attack Hope Island, coming very close to killing Gaia and ending the Planeteers forever, the ending of the episode leaves it ambiguous also as to whether or not Blight survives a rip tide. Season two's 'Summit To Save Earth' sees all of the eco-villains team with Zarm to disrupt a crucial summit to better attempts at safeguarding the environment, leading to the near destruction of Gaia and the conquest of the Earth. Once the villains are defeated, the summit goes ahead and everyone agrees to take better care of the planet. This would have been a good spot for the DIC era to end on, seeing as it lasted one more series before taking a rest, followed by the HB era.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Captain Planet's design look similar to Colossus. His design also reportedly took some inspiration from DC's Captain Atom. Dr. Blight borrows some from Two-Face and Duke Nukem is clearly modeled after The Thing. Dr. Blight also seems heavily inspired by the villain Cesspool from G.I. Joe, who showed up in the later Di C season of the cartoon- a former businessman turned evil when toxic waste exposure left his face scarred, from a subset of the toy line that focused on environmental cleanup, debuting shortly before Captain Planet.
    • Wheeler does several shout-outs to certain shows and movies.
      Linka: How can you think about pizza with what is happening to those turtles!?
      Wheeler: I don't know. Turtles, pizza, must be something subliminal.
    • When Gaia tells the Planeteers that the time stream had been disrupted which caused the Grand Canyon to be turned into a dumping site, Wheeler makes a subtle comparison to Back to the Future.
    • Wheeler also makes a comment about Alien after hearing a researcher's plan to naturally kill off Skumm's mutated weevils by using wasps to lay their eggs in them and their young burst out of them.
      Wheeler: Cool! Just like in "Alien"!
    • The Planeteers dress in Flintstones attire in the episode "Who's Running The Show?".
    • One character from the future is playing a virtual reality game. He's wearing a green armor clearly modeled after Robocop.
    • During one episode, Wheeler calls Gi "little mermaid".
    • In the tie-in comics released by Marvel, Dr. Blight builds a large robot dragon that looks like Fin Fang Foom.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Bambi Blight actually cares about the environment unlike her sister, Babs Blight.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Linka and Wheeler, of course.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Don't use nuclear power or a man with yellow, rocky skin will attack you with radioactive blasts.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Ma-Ti's Heart power enables him to talk to animals.
  • Special Aesop Victim: In "Mind Pollution", Linka's cousin Boris becomes hooked on the Fantastic Drug Bliss and dies of an overdose near the end of the episode.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Wheeler might be considered a very mild version of this towards Linka in the first three seasons. However, Wheeler's behavior towards Linka never goes beyond suggestive dialogue, and is far more similar to sexual harassment than to stalking. note 
  • Status Quo Is God: Throughout the DiC seasons, characters never really changed or seemed to learn much. The villains remained villains and Hoggish Greedly didn't learn squat after his own son almost died because of his actions. The later Hanna-Barbera seasons changed things greatly, allowing Don Porkaloin, Rigger and Sly Sludge to wise up, turn good and Wheeler improved his attitude some.
  • Stock Audio Clip: "The Two Futures (Part 1)" has the punk who tried to kill Wheeler in the first episode voiced by Harvey Atkin via recycled audio of King Koopa from the Super Mario Bros. (DiC) cartoons.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In one episode, we saw Verminous Skumm working in his lab, humming "I've Been Working On The Railroad" to himself. Later in the same episode, Cap is singing his own version of the song -- while tearing apart Skumm's lab, no less!
  • Straw Character: Looten Plunder. In one episode in the future, he even promised tax-cuts for the rich while running for President, because "The more you have, the less you should share!". Hoggish Greedly is a Deep South style CEO who partially represents the damage caused by obtaining and using fossil fuels.
  • Strictly Formula: Nearly every episode follows a very specific formula. Occasionally, they might break the formula - the episode where Looten Plunder won, or the Special Episodes with no eco-villains, for example, but that was about it.
  • Stupid Evil: The villains often come across this way, as they apparently pollute stuff just to be assholes, even when it's actively detrimental to them (such as causing oil spills on purpose, considering how valuable oil is, this makes about as much sense as flushing diamond rings down the toilet).
  • Sunken City: Wheeler goes forward in time in "Two Futures", and the first thing he sees is New York underwater due to global warming.
  • Take That!:
    • A particularly bizarre one in "Who's Running The Show?" where one of the low-brow programs the Eco-Villains put on is a studio pro wrestling show akin to the ones Ted Turner relied on for viewership in the 80s and 90s. Given that Ted Turner at the time owned World Championship Wrestling and had repeatedly rebuffed efforts from Turner executives to remove pro wrestling, it's either tone-deaf or a rather subtle form of Self-Deprecation.
    • The same episode also launches an attack at Beavis And Butthead, which is one of the programs the Eco-villains produce a parody of during "Operation Sweeps Week." It's also the advertisement that causes Wheeler to comment that the programming has gone too far. Ted Turner infamously hated Beavis and Butthead, to the point of making a thinly-veiled rant against it in a 1995 speech to Congress.
  • Taking the Bullet: At the near end of the episode "Future Shock", one of the future villains tries to shoot a laser gun at a little girl to fix his future. Ma-Ti jumps in front of the girl and gets hit by the beam, which renders him unconscious. He gets better.
  • Thank Your Prey: In one episode a bear tells a Native American hunter that he may eat its meat and wear its fur but he must honor its spirit.
  • Thematic Rogues Gallery: The major villains are all polluters.
  • Theme Tune Roll Call: The show's opening begins with an introduction for all five Planeteers, explaining their names, where they come from, and what elemental power they get from their rings.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: One episode sent the characters back to World War II, where they met Hitler himself.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Wheeler jumps into a time portal and makes his past self refuse the call. This destroys the world. Wheeler travels back in time and stops his other self from stopping his past self. Then both of them are sucked back to the present, fusing together en route.
  • Tomboyish Name: Gi is actually a boy's name in Vietnamese.
  • Too Many Babies: In "Numbers Game", Linka is shown living in a deeply impoverished town in Hope Island with over half a dozen kids... all fathered by Wheeler.
  • Totally Radical:
    • Particularly noticeable in the gang violence episode, where the writers apparently invented their own street slang to make it sound edgier.
    • The season 6 opening rap song. "Mega Mac Daddy of Ecology" indeed.
  • Trauma Button Ending: "Hate Canal" consists of Skumm trying to ruin Venice with plague rats he infected with treated cheese. At the end, Wheeler asks one of the locals if he wants to join them for lunch; the boy quips that he's fine with it as long as it isn't grilled cheese.
  • Truth in Television:
  • Two Girls to a Team: Gi and Linka are the only two female Planeteers while the other three are male.
  • Unexpectedly Dark Episode: "Teers in the Hood" which dealt with gun violence, and "Mind Pollution" which deals with drug addictions and has Linka's cousin Boris overdose on the drug and die on-screen.
  • Unexplained Accent: Oddly enough, Gi and her lack of accent. All of the other Planeteers speak with accents based on where they are from, even American Wheeler speaks with a Brooklyn accent, but Gi, a native of East Asia, inexplicably speaks very clear Standard American English. note 
  • Unfinished, Untested, Used Anyway:
    • In the episode "Population Bomb", General Claw decides to use a sonic cannon — which has never been tested — and ends up starting an earthquake, which ultimately destroys the island.
    • Many of Dr. Blight's technologies may also qualify as well.
    • Dr. Georgina "Georgie" Carver's invention stolen and used by Dr. Blight counts, too.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Linka and Wheeler snipe continuously at each other, which is implied to result at least partly from difficulty in handling their feelings for each other.
  • Unusual Euphemism: A likely unintentional one occurs by the Planeteers themselves in the episode "Population Bomb" when Gi (who remember, is the Asian member) says that in some countries, the government "recommends" that families only have two children. "Recommend" might be an understatement in most cases. Hell while Gi's exact home country isn't revealed, she'd be very lucky if it turns out she's from a country like China.
  • Verbal Tic:
    • Hoggish Greedly snorts like a pig when he talks.
    • Also, Verminous Skumm hisses like the rat he is when he laughs.
  • Villainous Glutton: Hoggish Greedly constantly overeats. He even ate his own horse while in the middle of a desert in "No Horsing Around", because he really was that hungry. He's also meant to represent how acquiring vast amounts of natural resources damages the environment.
  • Villains Never Lie: An often parodied weakness of the show is that the supporting cast always seem to fall for the villains' deceptions, despite their conspicuous names and menacing appearances.
  • Villains Want Mercy: The usual recipe for this was that Doctor Blight's latest experiment has Gone Horribly Wrong.
    • Dr. Blight begs Captain Planet to save her from being trampled to death by a genetically altered steer (that she created) stating, "You have to save me! It's in your hero code!" Cap admits she's right and does save her.
    • Looten Plunder when the robotic wolf that Blight made for him malfunctions and goes crazy.
    • Hoggish Greedly when his son almost dies due to smog produced by Greedly's road hog cars.
    • Sly Sludge when the garbage eating monsters he released are getting out of control. It would have been perfect had Wheeler not thrown Sludge's briefcase of money to the garbage monster at the last minute.
    • Looten Plunder and Doctor Blight in "Send In the Clones". In perhaps the most extreme case of the experiment that had Gone Horribly Wrong in the whole series, which saw a boy being cloned thousands of times, even Blight wanted to see the cloning reversed. Plunder agreed in the end that it had gone too far, but he of all people took a surprisingly long time to realise it was no longer fun and games.
    • Sly Sludge's underling, Ooze, begged for Captain Planet's help when all the garbage they had shrunk and compacted started to grow back, threatening to bury them all alive.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: Doctor Blight, when she squeezes into a pair of her sister's shorts in an attempt to disguise herself as her sister in the episode "Hollywaste". As Blight sits down, she splits the shorts.
  • Weaksauce Weakness:
    • Captain Planet is weakened by the very thing he exists to fight: pollution. If he gets sludge or whatever on him, the Planeteers have to clean him off for him to be useful again. Not only that, but the definition of "pollution" is applied inconsistently throughout the show; he is harmed by crude oil despite the fact that it's produced in the earth as a natural byproduct of organic decay. However, he is healed by lava even though volcanoes pump out millions of tons of what can be termed as pollutants: toxic gas, carbon dioxide, ash particles, etc.
    • It's notable that in the first episode, Hoggish Greedley just has a backpack-mounted spray weapon loaded with toxic waste that lets him take down the hero who'd been unstoppable all episode long, before any of the eco villains even knew Captain Planet existed or what his weaknesses were.
    • Famously, in a time travel episode Captain Planet is briefly incapacitated by Hitler's hate. Yes, that's right, simply hating him hard enough can kill him. Though Hitler's hate is only enough to briefly stun Captain Planet, who notes that he simply wasn't expecting or prepared for the sheer amount of hatred and prejudice radiating from him, and in Captain Planet's own words, "prejudice and hate as toxic as any other pollutant".
    • Ma-Ti's Heart ring has similar problems: in one episode, he is unable to use its power to locate or gather information on Hoggish Greedly, because Greedly's doing something evil at the time, which thwarts his power.
    • On the other side of the coin, Evil Counterpart Captain Pollution is weakened by the very thing he exists to destroy: nature's pure elements. He can be taken down by getting buried in earth, burned by fire, blasted by wind, and splashed with water.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Despite the craziness of the villains... this is actually how they are in practice:
    • Sly Sludge's business is dealing with waste. Waste Disposal is a legitimate business and a legitimate concern. His main flaw is Cutting Corners.
    • Dr. Blight actually does get the idea to, in the "Freaky Friday" Flip episode, try and turn the Sahara desert into a beautiful lush garden, which actually isn't a bad goal by any means.
    • Looten Plunder in "Bitter Waters". Linka's the one who questions of he's actually doing bad this time because after seeing social unrest in former Soviet Countries (Truth in Television), seeing an investor actually try to provide jobs to a poverty-stricken area resonated a lot with her. Plunder even admits he was wrong that one time.
  • Went to the Great X in the Sky:
    • In the episode "Smog Hog", Wheeler threatens to send Hoggish Greedly's son Junior to the great pigsty in the sky after seeing him flirt with Linka.
    • "The Ghost of Porkaloin Past" also uses the euphemism of going to the great pigsty in the sky when Hoggish Greedly mentions his grandfather passing away.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Trope Namer. Ironically, Linkara pointed out in his review that Heart was actually more useful than the other elements, especially Fire, as it could allow reading of minds. It also worked as a communicator, and could control wild animals. It also gave Ma-Ti the chance to see through the illusions cast by the Master of Illusion Zarm. Basically, if Ma-Ti were evil or more ruthless in the use of his Ring, he could potentially brainwash almost anybody he wanted by manipulating the good in their hearts for his own agenda. Good thing (for us!) that Gaia was smart and picked a more innocent, younger Planeteer.
    • In the alternate future created by Wheeler not joining the Planeteers, Ma-Ti does exactly that – he uses the power of Heart to brainwash people passing by into giving their money to the less fortunate. Which, admittedly, is still wrong, but the end goal is nice in a Robin Hood sort of way.
    • It also works with Heart's opposite power: Hate. In a time travel episode, Adolf Hitler emanates so much Hate his mere presence harms Captain Planet the same way toxic substances do. No, this is not a joke. That happens.
    • Wheeler's fire ring would be incredibly deadly and useful to fight evil in the real world... but in a Saturday morning cartoon show, broadcast standards and practice forbid him from ever actually setting anything on fire for destructive purposes, only occasionally getting an accidental comedic singe. Even without that, it's much more useless than the other rings, since it can only be used to destroy and not much else, while wind, earth, and water had several diverse abilities and could also be used for offense.
  • Wicked Wastefulness: Being a show about environmentalism, there are a number of episodes that show the consequences that wastefulness has on the environment.
    • In general, Hoggish Greedly tends to be the most prominent villain in this regards, as he represents the dangers of overconsumption and waste. His plots usually involve destroying entire ecosystems via various destructive and wasteful practices such as dynamite fishing, strip-mining, and clear-cutting forests.
    • The episode "The Dream Machine" has Zarm using the titular machine to create various, unnecessary luxuries for a group of villagers, which results in their resources being exhausted due to said machine using them up to create the aforementioned luxuries. Being a War God, Zarm's purpose for doing this is to start a war by manipulating the villagers into invading another village for basic necessities such as clean water and grain.
  • Witch with a Capital "B":
    • The episode "Future Shock" at one point has Dr. Blight call her descendant a "witch".
    • Wheeler's cousin Joey disdainfully calls Dr. Blight a witch in "101 Mutations".
  • Would Hurt a Child: Unlike most kids' cartoons, where the villain simply wants to get the heroes out of the way of their plans, the villains here will try to not only murder the Planeteers, but even other children who stand up to them. And in "Future Shock", a child is the villains' target as her death would alter the future in their favor.
  • Wrench Wench: Gi has been seen fixing the Eco Vehicles a few times, even covered in grease.
  • You Monster!: In the two-part episode "Mission to Save Earth", Commander Clash calls the Eco-Villains monsters when explaining to the soldiers that siding with the Eco-Villains will result in the planet's destruction.
    Looten Plunder: Who are you calling "monsters"?
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Skumm tried to bring about two of these. The first he created with mutated rat people, the second with drug addicts.

Kwame: "Earth..."
Wheeler: "Fire..."
Linka: "Wind..."
Gi: "Water..."
Ma-Ti: "Heart..."
Planeteers: "GO, PLANET!"
Captain Planet: "By your powers combined, I am Captain Planet!"
Captain Planet, he's our hero!
Gonna take pollution down to a zero!
He's our powers magnified and he's fighting on the planet's side!
Captain Planet, he's our hero!
Gonna take pollution down to a zero!
Gonna help him put asunder...
Bad guys who like to loot and plunder!

Looten Plunder: "You'll pay for this, Captain Planet!"
Planeteers: "We're the Planeteers! You can be one, too
'Cause saving our planet is the thing to do!
Looting and polluting is not the way!
Hear what Captain Planet has to say...
Captain Planet: "The power... is yours!"
— The iconic Ending Theme

Alternative Title(s): Captain Planet, The New Adventures Of Captain Planet, Captain Planet And The Planeteers


"Captain Planet" credits

The credits song sums up the show's message

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / EarthSong

Media sources: