The first was titled Captain Sturdy: Back in Action and aired in 2001 as part of the What A Cartoon! Show. The pilot had Captain Roy Sturdy having to come out of retirement because his pension has been cancelled due to the retirement age for superheroes being lifted to 70. To his dismay, he finds that today's heroes have lost sight of what being a hero truly means right when the city is being endangered by his old enemy Moid.
The second pilot was titled Captain Sturdy: The Originals and aired in 2003 on [adult swim]. This time, Captain Sturdy regrouped with several of his retired teammates to take on his old enemy Dr. Destructo.
Both pilots can be viewed on Adult Swim's website.
Tropes found in these pilots include:
- Ambiguous Gender: Implied with Policially Correct Person.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In The Originals, it is stated that Dr. Destructo's nefarious inventions include the zombie ray, the hyper quantum annihilator, and new age music.
- Art Evolution: Ultra Boy's appearance is drastically different in The Originals when compared to how he appeared in Back in Action. He's no longer balding, his face lacks stubble, and his face is redesigned to be more simplified and easier on the eyes.
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: Moid's death ray is shown obliterating a Cartoon Network satellite in Back in Action, complete with a Fourth Wall Psych involving We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties.
- Captain Ersatz: There are many superhero parodies.
- The title character himself is a clear Superman Substitute. The Originals even shows that he keeps the shrunken city of Maldor in his refrigerator, a nod to Superman holding onto the shrunken city of Kandor.
- Cyber Master is a blatant pastiche of RoboCop.
- Velocity Man is an ersatz of The Flash, being a superhero with super speed who wears a red costume decorated in yellow lightning bolt-shaped elements.
- Captain Superhero: The title character is a superhero whose codename starts with "Captain".
- Cyclops: The villain Moid has one eye.
- Easy Sex Change: Commander Guts in The Originals is established as having gone through a sex change and now goes by Brianna.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: In The Originals, the now retired Dr. Destructo states that he genuinely loves his daughter, son-in-law, and grandson.
- Eyes Always Shut: Downplayed. Roy doesn't always has his eyes shut.
- Failure Hero: In "Back In Action", the new age of superheroes is shown to be rather ineffective against fighting crime. The introduction shows Cyber Master needing to be rebooted, therefore unable to help Sergeant Nitro stopping the thieves stealing the truck. Meanwhile, Politically Correct Person goes on about how the education failed these men and need to be sent to trade school, distracting Sergeant Nitro and letting them escape. When Moid arrives, instead of going to stop him as Captain Sturdy decides to, everyone else has a meeting to discuss how to negotiate with him and come to a non-violent solution. Unsurprisingly, Moid disregards their offer and fires his blaster.
- False Reassurance: In The Originals, Dr. Destructo gets beat up by Captain Sturdy's sidekick Ultra Boy and his teammates the Originals because of a misunderstanding. When Dr. Destructo appears to take it in stride and say that the attack has made him realize how miserable retirement life has been for him, Captain Sturdy commends his old foe's positive outlook before the villain boasts that now he's returning to being evil and that he'll dedicate the remainder of his life to destroying Captain Sturdy and all other superheroes.
- Fat Idiot: Captain Sturdy's sidekick Ultra Boy is obese and dumb as a pile of rocks.
- Grade Skipper: In Back in Action, it is mentioned by Cyber Master that Cerebro skipped a few grades because of his advanced intelligence.
- Kid Hero All Grown-Up: Captain Sturdy's sidekick Ultra Boy is still active as a grown man.
- My Brain Is Big: The hero Cerebro is highly intelligent and has an enormous brain.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In The Originals, the now retired Dr. Destructo gets assaulted by Ultra Boy, Velocity Man, Elastic Man, Brianna, and Chronos, Master of Time and Space because of a misunderstanding. This ends up causing Dr. Destructo to decide that he's done with retirement and will now focus his efforts on destroying Captain Sturdy and every other superhero.
- Noodle Incident: In Back in Action, it is mentioned that Captain Sturdy is deeply haunted by an incident where many lives were lost because of a pair of size super small underwear being mysteriously labeled size extra large.
- No Social Skills: In Back in Action, Cerebro curtly says to Captain Sturdy "You're old". Cyber Master explains that the lack of social skills is because he skipped a few grades.
- Old Superhero: The title character of both shorts is a superhero who is elderly.
- Political Overcorrectness: The basis of the hero Politically Correct Person, whose obsession with things being politically correct prevents him from being an effectual crime-fighter. Back in Action begins with him failing to help two other heroes stop some criminals because he wastes time rambling on how the education system has failed the criminals. Later, he scolds a superhero during a training exercise for saying "Drop your weapon and put your hands up" without considering that he could be saying that to a bank robber who didn't have arms.
- Purple Is Powerful: Dr. Destructo wore a purple costume during his heyday.
- Rubber Man: Elastic Man, one of Captain Sturdy's contemporaries introduced in The Originals, is a hero with stretching powers.
- Redhead In Green: Captain Sturdy's sidekick Ultra Boy has red hair and wears a green costume.
- Same Content, Different Rating: The first short on the main Cartoon Network block, but the second short aired on the Adult Swim block. This is most likely due to Commander Guts having a sex change. Both shorts were later part of Adult Swim after they released the shorts online.
- Steven Ulysses Perhero: Captain Sturdy's real name is Roy Sturdy.
- Unions Suck: In the original short, Captain Sturdy is forced to come out of retirement because the superhero union raised the retirement age. The union is too busy building expensive new facilities to properly train their superheroes, making them lackluster crimefighters.