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"Who" is Carmen Sandiego?

"I realized that stealing isn't a game. It does harm people... especially when you're willing to steal lives."
Carmen Sandiego
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Carmen Sandiego is a Continuity Reboot of the long-running educational game and TV show franchise, with a big twist to the formula: this time Carmen (Gina Rodriguez) is the hero, turning against V.I.L.E. after growing disillusioned with their willingness to hurt or kill people, and attempting to beat them to any artifacts they plan to steal. Assisting her as always is The Player (Finn Wolfhard) who acts as Mission Control from his computer.

You can watch the trailer here.


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Carmen Sandiego provides examples of:

  • Absentee Actor:
    • Neither Zack nor Ivy are seen in "The Chasing Paper Caper" and Ivy isn't seen in "The Lucky Cat Caper".
    • On VILE's side, El Toppo (who is always seen with El Chevre) is nowhere to be seen in "The Chasing Paper Caper".
    • On the law enforcement side, Chase Devineaux and Julia Argent aren’t around in “The Opera in the Outback Caper”.
  • The Ace: Carmen is one of the best students at V.I.L.E.'s school... which makes her the perfect person to take them down.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: While he holds her at gunpoint, Carmen and Gray laugh over their first encounter at V.I.L.E. Academy, where she intimidated him for trying to call her Lambkins.
  • Adaptational Dumbass:
    • Chase Devineaux in the game Word Detective was one of Carmen's former partners, and whom she considers a Worthy Opponent as he gives you instructions to rescue your fellow agents. Here, despite having a perfect opportunity to nab Carmen, he grabs the Idiot Ball more than once, and she easily outruns him. Also, she pickpockets him more than once, stealing both his Interpol ID in the intro and later his ACME ID card.
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    • Zack and Ivy, though not as bad as Chase, also suffer from this a bit. In the Where on Earth series the two were some of ACME's best agents and were really the only ones capable of keeping up with Carmen's intelligence. In this series they act more as Carmen's backup or The Watson, never displaying the top class detective skills they had their original series. Some of their first dialogue suggests they were just common thieves before meeting Carmen.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The novelization Who is Carmen Sandiego? expands on Carmen's childhood, what happened after she sneaked out with the graduates, and her encountering Paper Star in origami class.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Carmen's classic backstory is that she is an ACME agent turned traitor after getting bored with her job and wanting a challenge, and all the other V.I.L.E. villains work for her. The game Where in Time illustrates that her stealing historical objects could cause a moral hazard by changing history. Not to mention that in Word Detective, she subjects captured ACME agents to her Babble-On Machine and was going to steal language from everyone. This reimagining has her wanting to be a thief since childhood. But after other V.I.L.E. agents attempt to kill anyone in their way, she decides to follow the path of Robin Hood instead. No doubt they wanted to make the title character the protagonist instead of the person the Player has to stop.
  • Adaptational Job Change:
    • Downplayed with Chase and Julia, both are still detectives, but they work for Interpol instead of ACME. However, both are recruited by ACME in the fourth episode.
    • In Where on Earth, Carmen (back when she was still with ACME) mentions Maelstrom was a marine archaeologist before turning to a life of crime. Here, Maelstrom is now a Psycho Psychologist.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In the novelization, Gray shows more guilt when Carmen recalls how he fired on an innocent man. He also is more regretful about taking her in as a V.I.L.E. captive when she offers for him to join her team.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: Julia's main character trait in her games was that she believed that Carmen had the potential for good since they used to be co-agents and that Carmen had twisted benevolent intentions for her crimes. Here, since she and Carmen don't have that history, Julia takes a more objective approach to Carmen's modus operandi, that Carmen treats stealing as a game but may have different intentions than what appears on the surface.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Chase Devineaux's first appearance showed him as Carmen's former partner, and the player's mysterious liaison in Word Detective; he and Carmen share a begrudging Worthy Opponent respect, and he's the only other agent that she doesn't catch besides the player. In this show, he is an arrogant Butt-Monkey that is more bluster than badass.
  • Adaptational Nationality:
    • Chase Devineaux was originally an American in the games he appeared in; here, he's French.
    • Julia "Jules" Argent (from Treasures of Knowledge and The Secret of the Stolen Drums) is somewhat ambiguous as while she appears Asian and was born in Hong Kong, she spoke with an American accent. The novelization makes her out to be half-British and half-Chinese.
    • Carmen's nationality usually isn't brought up. Here she was apparently born in Argentina and raised in a V.I.L.E. facility in the Canary Islands.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Sort of. Zack and Ivy go from fighting against Carmen to working with her (though she's undergone Adaptational Heroism), and it's implied that they were thieves in the past. There's also a character called Player, who works with Carmen and is meant to represent the player character.
  • Adult Fear: After she sneaked out the first time, all Brunt does to Carmen is give her a bone-crushing hug and says, "I blame myself." It's not that much different that a normal parent would have to their child sneaking out for a dangerous place. She was obviously relieved that Carmen wasn't badly hurt from fighting her classmates and getting chloroformed.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Player calls Carmen "Red" while giving her instructions. As a child, Brunt called her Lambikins.
  • Age Lift: Carmen has usually been an adult (early thirties, at least), but as she's now the protagonist of a kids' series, she's brought closer to the age of the target audience, placing her around twenty to twenty-one years old.
  • All Part of the Show: In "The Sticky Rice Caper", the shadow puppeteers were scared off by Carmen and Tigress. When they fought behind the screen, the band resumed playing music and the audience cheered for the puppetry.
  • All There in the Script: The woman following Carmen at the end of the pilot who works for A.C.M.E is named Zari, according to the credits.
  • Alone with the Psycho:
    • Chase finds himself knocked out, handcuffed and trapped by Coach Brunt in the first season finale. At first he's snarking about them giving him a new keycard, and accusing them of working for Carmen Sandiego. Then he goes Oh, Crap! when Coach Brunt straps a truth extractor to his head, and warns him that if it's on for too long it can cause brain damage. By the time Carmen frees him, he's semiconscious and collapses after activating his A.C.M.E. pen.
    • Carmen tries to avoid this in the finale, by distracting Coach Brunt and Shadow-san into leaving Chase alone and tied up. It doesn't work; Brunt figures it out, bars the door too well for Carmen to break, and subjects her adopted daughter to a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. By the end of it Carmen has several broken bones and needs help to walk.
  • Ambiguous Situation:
    • It's never confirmed if Gray after his memory is erased is a potential sleeper agent. Player points out the possibility, since V.I.L.E. released subliminal brainwashing at the Sydney Opera House, where Carmen and a rocket scientist were affected. He says that Gray may be a trap for Carmen since V.I.L.E. knew about their friendship. Carmen doesn't believe it, but she thinks it's best to leave Gray in his new life, since if V.I.L.E. knew they renewed their friendship then he could become a target.
    • In the first season finale, it's unclear if Shadow-san will continue to be a mole for Carmen or if he outed himself by knocking out Coach Brunt.
  • Animal Motifs: Most of the student code names are animal based.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Subverted. Coach Brunt speaks softly to Carmen when suffocating her and breaking her bones, but it's obvious that while she may not enjoy it, she will do it.
  • Arc Words: "Where in the world... [x]?", usually, a way that characters, even Carmen herself, wonder where she is.
  • Artistic License – Geography: "The Opera In The Outback Caper" involves implanting subliminals on a researcher as she attends an opera, then triggering them at her workplace outside Ayers' Rock the next day. The nearest city to Ayers' Rock is Alice Springs, which is over 460km away - not a distance one can casually travel for a morning commute after a night at the opera. If the opera house was actually meant to be Australia's most famous one in Sydney, the distance becomes even more implausible - over 2,800km by highway, a 30 hour drive. Yet Carmen apparently makes a round trip in one day.
    • However, the flight time from Sydney to Uluru is roughly 3 and a half hoursnote . We don't know what time of day the action at the aerospace facility takes place, after all; Dr Dennam could have stayed in Sydney overnight, caught a 6am flight and started work after lunch.
  • As You Know: As Carmen recounts her backstory to Gray, he lampshades that she can skip a chunk of it because he was there. She replies that he doesn't necessarily know her perspective of the events and keeps going.
  • Badass Longcoat: As usual for Carmen. A badass red coat specifically.
  • Bait the Dog: Gray is the first classmate who's nice to Carmen, and they form a deep bond over how they do in class. Then it turns out he has a ruthless sadistic streak when he tries to gun down an innocent archaeologist and doesn't understand why Carmen would be against killing. In the present, now that he and Carmen are on opposing sides, he threatens to electrocute her if she doesn't answer his questions.
  • Batman Gambit: Carmen's heist of The Eye of Vishnu was a trick to get the law authorities to investigate the apartment she robbed, and for them to realize it was a V.I.L.E. hideout with all the stolen artifacts hidden there. Julie makes the connection as Interpol investigates.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Carmen accesses the security room by claiming that she's an IT trainee and has to ride the elevator with Ms. Booker.
  • Be Careful What You Say: Shadow-san keeps accusing Coach Brunt of wanting to go easy on Black Sheep aka Carmen. In the first season finale, it's revealed Shadow-san was the one looking out for Carmen all along, and saves her when Coach Brunt tries to kill her in cold blood.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: All of V.I.L.E.'s teachers kept telling Carmen that she needed to control her recklessness and immaturity, with Shadow-san being the hardest on her. She eventually did kick the habit; after she got busted for messing with her class's heist, Carmen bid her time for the next school year and plotted her escape, complete with her open defection and declaration of war on V.I.L.E. Now when she's impulsive, she channels it into letting Interpol agents chase her.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The five leaders of V.I.L.E. serve as the central antagonists, and lead by committee, with no one member having any apparent superiority over the others.
  • Big "NO!": Carmen screams this in the second episode right before Crackle tries to kill an innocent man who leads an archaeological dig.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Carmen, in this incarnation.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Those Two Bad Guys, Le Chèvre and El Topo. Le Chèvre means "the goat" in French, while El Topo means "the mole" in Spanish. Fittingly, "the goat" strikes high, while "the mole" strikes low.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Gray was kind to Carmen, charming and charismatic. It hides a sadistic and violent streak that no friendship could tame, as Carmen witnessed when he fired on an innocent man.
  • Black and Gray Morality: On the black side, there's VILE and on the gray side we have Carmen Sandiego and her troupe stealing from VILE themselves.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Mime Bomb tells Carmen he's stopping to smell the roses while following her following the Bookkeeper. She buys it for a few seconds, only to turn and tackle him.
    • Carmen tells the Bookkeeper she's ashamed of the pranks she pulled over the years. Cookie buys it hook, line and sinker.
  • Book-Ends: In the first season, the first and last episode had Carmen in France.
    • The end of "The Dukes of Vermeer" has Grey step out of the bus in Australia. The end of "The Opera in the Outback Caper" has Carmen leave on a bus.
  • Brains and Brawn: Julia and Chase; the former is the one interested in geography and tries to think of logical conclusions to Carmen's heists, the latter just rushes in and tries to go for the chase.
  • Brick Joke: Young Carmen accuses Shadow-san of rigging his test (which was to pickpocket a dollar bill from his coat) and states that the coat is empty. Come the season finale, and a Good All Along Shadow-san admits (slightly annoyed) that yes, it was empty.
    Carmen: I KNEW IT!
  • Broken Pedestal: Because they essentially raised her, Carmen looked up to Coach Brunt, Dr. Maelstrom, Professor Bellum, Countess Cleo, and Shadow-san and aspired to be like them. Learning that they instructed their students to steal by any means necessary (including killing witnesses) caused her to leave V.I.L.E. — and, as a result, the only family she's ever known — in disgust. It also means she left Gray after learning that he was willing to murder. Shadow-san becomes a Rebuilt Pedestal when he reveals that he was trying to keep her out of the thief life and wishes he could have gone with her to help.
  • Broken Record: In Episode 6, whenever someone hears the subliminal message, it causes them to repeatedly say "Launch the boomerang.....launch the boomerang".
  • Bullying a Dragon: Tigress when meeting Carmen threatened to break her nesting dolls after Carmen beat up Gray during orientation; Gray breaks up the fight by reminding them they're all roommates.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Subverted. Carmen seemed to want to tell off Coach Brunt and the other teachers for lying to her, but she never got the chance; Brunt let her off easy for sneaking out with the graduates, and the other teachers put constant surveillance on Carmen. For what it's worth, Carmen was truly sorry for worrying Brunt after all that she learned.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Played with. V.I.L.E. masks its real intentions by not disclosing the actual meaning of its acronym to new cadets (going with the name "Valuable Imports, Lavish Exports"). However once they graduate to full operatives, they are inducted into the organization's real purpose, along with learning its actual name: Villains International League of Evil. Inverted with A.C.M.E., which is the "Agency to Classify and Monitor Evildoers".
  • Casting Gag:
    • In Jane the Virgin Gina Rodriguez plays the granddaughter of original Carmen Rita Moreno. She's joked that between these two roles, she's trying to "single Latina female" Moreno.
      • Moreno herself cameos as the bookkeeper in the pilot, who provides the new Carmen with her signature outfit.note 
    • Finn Wolfhard is best known as Mike in Stranger Things, who is the Dungeon Master for his friends' game nights, much like the Player.
    • Mary Elizabeth McGlynn voices another green-haired authority figure.
  • Chekhov's Classroom: Almost all of Carmen's onscreen V.I.L.E. classes are relevant during her escape. In particular:
    • Coach Brunt's fighting class has her state to protect the face else they'll be knocked out. When Tigress is about to attack Carmen (for stopping Crackle from killing the archeological dig leader), Carmen uses his weapon right at the face. She also knocks out Gray by kicking him in the face at the end of the pilot.
      Carmen: They never protect the face.
    • Carmen uses Professor Maelstrom's bait-and-switch trick to ultimately steal the hard drive with data for that year.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • The Bookkeeper and her annual trips to V.I.L.E. island. Carmen uses her to plot her escape.
    • Player became this to Carmen after he hacked into the phone she stole. Thanks to Player's friendship, Carmen was able to escape from V.I.L.E. and plan a counterattack.
  • Chekhov's Lecture: Whenever she hits a new country, Carmen and Player give an infodump about the location (as expected by a show based on a series of educational games); just about everything mentioned in these infodumps will show up in the episodes, whether as plot points, locations, or even background gags.
  • Close-Call Haircut: Played with. Paper Star managed to cut the brim of Carmen's fedora during their fight.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Dr. Bellum, when she finds out that Carmen stole a cellphone from the Janitors, doesn't understand why Carmen didn't turn in "stolen property" for extra credit.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: Professor Maelstrom's plan in "The Dubloon Caper" turns out to amount to this. He wants to steal a gold doubloon of great cultural significance just so he can melt it down and make himself a pair of cufflinks.
  • Creator Provincialism: Despite the fact that neither Carmen nor the Player are American they still discuss temperatures in Fahrenheit and speak in a way that implies an American point of view in many ways, such as referencing the 'Fourth of July' as the first example of a holiday with fireworks.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Shadow-san is the hardest on Carmen when she asks to be accepted into V.I.L.E. Academy, and refused to vote to accept her, because he believes her immaturity and recklessness will put her in danger in the field. Carmen finds it hard to refute his point when she gets busted for tossing water balloons at the Bookkeeper. Or so he claims; it's actually because he didn't want her to become a thief and throw her life away to please her family.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Carmen not only gets the jump on Chase, but also pickpockets him in the pilot.
    • While Carmen can hold her own against her former classmates, her instructors are still far out of her weight class.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: In the first season finale, when Carmen is forced to fight Coach Brunt, she does manage to last a few minutes while her adopted mother beats the tar out of her. Zach went down in two seconds when Brunt cornered him.
  • Darker and Edgier: Most Carmen media glosses over the possibility of people getting hurt, with the exception of Word Detective and Where in Time. Here, V.I.L.E. skips past "possibility" and explicitly engages in attempted murder. But unlike in other iterations, this Carmen won't stand for it.
  • Dark-Skinned Redhead: Carmen is noticeably darker-skinned in this continuity than in previous incarnations, and her hair is a deep red. Player nicknames her "Red" as a result of her red hair/outfit.
  • Decomposite Character: This show has an actual Tigress, when the original was just a false identity created by Ivy.
  • Determinator: Chase's saving value is that he doesn't give up. While he's chasing Carmen, she does give him a respectful look as he keeps pace with her.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Chase uses the elevator in an antiquated building to get to Carmen. Predictably, the elevator is slow, when he could have taken the stairs.
      • This is essentially Chase’s defining characteristic.
    • Carmen sneaks out to join the graduating class on their plane. She then realizes that she didn't think of packing a parachute. Gray is blindsided when she blows her cover to tackle him so they land safely together.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Carmen's story — that she was raised in a privileged life by people who loved her and gave her so good an education that she realized they were villains and turned on them — rings a bell with how children's politics vary from their parents' between generations. Of course, most parents aren't criminal masterminds.
  • Doorstop Baby: A V.I.L.E. agent supposedly found Carmen abandoned by the side of a road in Argentina. It was Shadow-san.
  • Doting Parent: Carmen says that Brunt was like this to her. After Carmen pulls a prank that gets her in trouble with the janitors on V.I.L.E., Brunt tosses the janitor away and offers her a cupcake.
  • Edutainment Show: Despite feeling more like a traditional children's action series, this is still a Carmen Sandiego series tied to educational teaching giant Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and trivia about various locations and items is included in most of the episodes as a result. Unlike many other iterations, the info dump after introducing the location does come up later in the episode.
  • The Elevator from Ipanema: Muzak plays during the elevator scene in Episode 2.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Brunt was the only person allowed to call "Black Sheep" Lambikins; Carmen beat up anyone else who tried.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: When Carmen tells Player that she stole the phone he hacked, he asks if she's a shoplifter and if she was AWOL for being in jail. Which, is actually a logical conclusion to make. She quickly corrects him, and he admits being in a school of thieves makes sense.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: VILE is a pretty diverse organisation, both among its operatives and in its ruling council.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Julia and Chase get theirs in the first episode, where Julia tries to talk Chase about Carmen's motives, whereas Chase ignores her and decides to go all Leeroy Jenkins on Carmen.
    • In "The Sticky Rice Caper", we get to see Zack and Ivy's characters on the plane trip to Indonesia: we have Zack asking his sis if she got anything to eat, and Ivy show off a bit of her fiery side.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Carmen had wanted to be a thief her whole life, but quits V.I.L.E. in disgust at their willingness to kill people. She then devotes herself to bringing them down... while still being a crook herself.
    • V.I.L.E, whatever their ulterior motives, took in an abandoned baby and raised her as their own with a cushy life, a thorough education that made her The Ace, and something close to love. It made Carmen turning on them much harder, because Brunt was a Doting Parent and truly cared about her. That is, if what they told Carmen about rescuing her as a baby was true; even Carmen has been questioning the story for a while.
  • Eviler Than Thou: Coach Brunt is revealed to be worse than most of the other teachers and graduates. The students will just do the mission and leave; she takes pleasure in personally torturing Chase. To her credit, however, even though she also seems to take pleasure in beating up Carmen, she does make one last effort to convince Carmen to return to VILE and when that effort fails, she takes no pleasure in trying to kill Carmen.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Gray and Brunt take Carmen's defection personally, Gray because they were best friends, and Brunt because she was like a mother to Carmen.
  • Everyone Hates Mimes: Carmen is nice to Mime Bomb, but no one else respects him, not even the teachers to whom he reports. It doesn't help that he is a spy. Even Carmen turns on him when he nearly thwarts her escape attempt.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Carmen's Mission Control is only ever called "Player" mostly because Carmen first introduced herself as "Black Sheep" and he thought it was a username of some sorts.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!:
    • Carmen talks to the head archaeologist, who tells her that his team is excavating the Eye of Vishnu, a historic relic. She realizes that the graduates are stealing the Eye of Vishnu, even though as the archaeologist says, it has more educational than monetary value.
    • Carmen as she's tailing the Bookkeeper runs into Mime Bomb, who mimes that he's "stopping and smelling the roses". Carmen starts to tell Player over her re-stolen phone that Mime watches everything, and "everyone". Cue her tackling him, locking him in a broom closet, and confiscating his lock picks.
  • Expy: Dr. Janine Dennam and HelioGem seem to be inspired by Elon Musk and SpaceX.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • It's Shadow-san who gives Carmen the warning about no turning back if she becomes a thief. He's the one who helped kickstart Carmen's defection from V.I.L.E.
    • In "The Sticky Rice Caper", Carmen mentions how she wishes to see the shadow-puppet shows in Indonesia. Guess where the climax of the episode takes place?
  • Freudian Excuse: Subverted. Gray seems to think Carmen must have had some reason to defect and betray all of V.I.L.E, and seems genuinely concerned while planning to hand her over to Brunt and the other V.I.L.E. agents she betrayed. Carmen tells Gray that she had a lovely childhood, and her reasons for defecting were not because of any abuse — no one was allowed to hurt her — or because of Shadow-san failing her on purpose. She couldn't abide that her family was willing to kill people to steal, and treating it like a game.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • V.I.L.E. apparently stands for "Valuable Imports, Lavish Exports" since they seem to focus on trafficking stolen goods. Of course, this is a cover for the real name: "Villains International League of Evil".
    • We also get to find out what ACME stands for: "Agency to Classify and Monitor Evildoers".
  • Gilded Cage: V.I.L.E. Island was a tropical paradise in Carmen's words, and also a child's haven where she was treated very well. Eventually she chafed under the restrictions, however, and wanted to become a V.I.L.E. thief officially to gain some freedom.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The way Carmen describes her childhood, one of the top criminal organizations took her in when she was a baby, and raised her with love and a thorough education. It also gave her a sense of compassion, which meant she got a Heel Realization when she saw that her family kills people, and recklessly at that.
    • When she finally enrolled, it gave her an intimate understanding of Bellum’s inventions, Brunt’s fighting techniques, the way Maelstrom’s twisted mind works, and Countess Cleo’s style. While she definitely isn’t able to go toe to toe with the faculty directly yet, her training gives her the ability to identify and target V.I.L.E. locations and schemes.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Downplayed with Player, but he has this reaction on hearing that Gray is Carmen's best friend, or school friend as Carmen amends. It factors into his convincing Carmen not to meet up with a seemingly amnesiac Gray, who's returned to his electrician job, though he's also right that it's weird that V.I.L.E. would host a heist at the same opera house where Gray works.
  • Hazy Feel Turn: Carmen severs ties with V.I.L.E. and runs away to the mainland, determined to take down her former family by stealing the objects they want. She's still a thief, however, and she trolls any local cops that are on her tail.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Shadow-san knocking out Brunt and helping an injured Carmen escape the police cements his openly turning against V.I.L.E. He was on Carmen's side before, but he made his treason as open as she made hers.
  • Heel Realization: When Carmen talks with the head archaeologist at the dig in Casablanca, and he says that stealing their relic would mean that it would take the knowledge of it from the world. Finding out that V.I.L.E.'s last letter stands for "evil" cemented it.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Le Chèvre and El Topo, to the point that some viewers see them as Ambiguously Gay.
  • Hero Antagonist: Chase Devineaux, the Interpol agent actively searching for Carmen's whereabouts, attempting to arrest her.
  • Heroic Bystander: An Ecuadorian archaeologist overhears Carmen's crew trying to find a rare doubloon that has no monetary value but rather symbolic value, and they lie that they're amateur coin hobbyists. She gets suspicious, follows them up the mountain, and helps Carmen when the latter succumbs to altitude sickness. When Carmen finds the doubloon and returns it to her, they shake hands.
  • Heroic Willpower: Say what you will about Inspector Devineaux, but he is nothing if not determined. He continues to chase Carmen and her friends all over the globe throught the first season, and is perfectly willing to sink cars to do so. In the season finale, he manages to hold out against V.I.L.E’s truth extractor by screaming La Marsellaise (the French national anthem) at the top of his lungs, even at the risk of permanent brain damage.
  • Hollywood New England: Zack and Ivy in this series hail from Boston, which also complemented by their thick accent.
  • Homage: In "The Lucky Cat Caper" Zach drives a vintage muscle car in a three way chase up and down the hills of San Francisco, in an obvious reference to the climactic chase scene from Bullitt.
  • Hope Spot: Carmen was hoping that if she talked to Gray one-on-one, then he would understand why she defected and she would get her former best friend back. Gray instead gets an Ignored Epiphany and prepares to fire on Carmen. She knocks him out and leaves him for Interpol.
  • Iconic Outfit: Carmen's red trenchcoat and fedora which was originally the outfit of Cookie Booker. She even weaponizes it a few times by having her assistants run around in that outfit to serve as decoys.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: After the initial 2-part premiere, each episode is named "The X Caper".
  • Ignored Epiphany: Despite the fact that Carmen grappled with Gray for shooting at an innocent man, and later told him off for "stealing lives," Gray can't understand why Carmen would turn on him.
  • I Just Want to Be Free: Part of the reason Carmen wanted to become a V.I.L.E. graduate was so that she could have the freedom to explore the world and find her birth parents. Now the reason that she's free is so that she can take down her adoptive family.
  • Impossible Theft: A notable aversion. Considering her origins, it would almost be expected for Carmen to try and steal impossibly large monuments. Instead, all the thefts are plausible, if extreme. The most elaborate theft is all 34 works of Verneer.
  • Innocent Bystander: Carmen enacts a Diving Save to rescue the head archaeologist that was kind to her, who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • In-Series Nickname: Carmen has a couple, including:
    • "Red", by The Player.
    • "The Crimson Shadow" and "La Femme Rouge", by Chase Devineaux.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: With the exception of Ivy and Zack, a lot of the voice actors look pretty similar to their respective characters.
  • Inspector Javert: Chase Devineaux, the Interpol and later, ACME agent that repeatedly attempts to catch Carmen throughout the series.
  • The Internet Is for Cats: Dr. Bellum enjoys watching cat videos.
  • Interpol Special Agent: In contrast to previous iterations, where the main crime-fighting presence was from the ACME Detective Agency, Chase and Julie are agents of Interpol. Both are recruited by ACME due to their involvement with Carmen.
  • Iron Butt Monkey: Chase seems to get the short end of the stick a lot. Still, he shrugs off falling from a rooftop onto a car hood in favor of yelling at a retreating Carmen.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Carmen has a chance to go on a date with an amnesiac Gray but decides not to in part because she fears he might be mind-controlled into hurting her and because she wants him to have a new life without V.I.L.E. getting involved. In a subversion, she doesn't actually say this but simply leaves without ever speaking to him.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Carmen looks briefly ashamed when Countess Cleo and Shadow-san at different points tell her off for being reckless and immature. Shadow-san is also correct that, despite Carmen working to earn her grade, that she gets favoritism due to being a V.I.L.E. adopted child.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: Carmen only steals from thieves and donates the money she makes off her thefts to children's charities.
  • Karmic Thief: Carmen still steals, but only from V.I.L.E.
  • Kick the Dog: Gray firing on an innocent old man who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time was what broke Carmen's illusions about what V.I.L.E. was really like.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • Chase and Julia discuss why a thief would want people to know that she's stealing, make herself visible, and take the object in question with an audience.
    • While listening to Carmen's backstory, Gray comments that he was there for part of it and that she's telling him about events he already knows.
    • The V.I.L.E. leaders eventually comment that while Mime Bomb's status as a mime makes him able to be disregarded by the people he spies on, the fact that he refuses to go out of character ever makes it hard for him to deliver reports, as he does so via charades.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Any V.I.L.E. agent captured by law enforcement is quickly extracted and has their memory erased by Dr. Bellum’s machine. Like what happened to Crackle.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Carmen's statement that stealing isn't a game can be a reference to the franchise's start as edutainment software. Her followup that it does in fact hurt people could also be a comment on how the franchise has traditionally ignored the harm crime could cause.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Ironically, it's the older agent Chase who does this and not his protege Julia. Rather than call for backup on sighting Carmen, he decides to go after her alone and orders Julia to stay in the car so that she can "learn". Predictably, Carmen evades him.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Carmen bases her alias on the name of haberdashery who made her (or rather Cookie Booker's as Carmen stole it) trademark hat ("Carmen's") and the city where it's located ("San Diego").
  • Logical Weakness: Paper Star can fold paper into deadly throwing stars. She's got Carmen on the run until Carmen leads her out onto the roof of a train, where the wind blows her projectiles off course when Paper Star tries to use them. They're still paper - making them sharp doesn't make them any heavier.
  • Loophole Abuse: When Chase demands that she stop, Carmen does... briefly.
    Carmen: You didn't say for how long. (runs)
  • Love Redeems: Parental love at least. Shadow-san is an established criminal and a jerk, but it's revealed he was always looking out for Carmen since he rescued her as a baby. His first subtle act of treason against V.I.L.E. is him sabotaging the Janitor's helicopter, and he would have joined Carmen on her escape boat if she hadn't driven away so quickly; he admits he was proud of her for escaping. Then he knocks out Coach Brunt to stop her from killing Carmen in the first season finale, and helps Carmen escape the locked room before the police come.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything:
    • Chase insists on catching Carmen single-handedly in the pilot, which is the main reason why he fails. If he'd thought to call ahead to have some other police officers stop and search the train at its next stop instead of personally chasing it all the way to Paris, he might have caught her as well as Gray.
    • Despite the V.I.L.E. Academy producing forty graduates a year, and has for decades, only one episode in the first season has any agent appear other than Carmen's ex-dormmates (who only made up an eighth of their graduating class), her teachers, or the cleaners, all of whom were introduced in the pilot.
  • Master of Disguise: One of Carmen's skills, usually involving formal dress wear and casual street clothes, depending on the situation. Chase appears to know her well enough that a simple change of clothing won't fool him if he can see her face.
  • Mickey Mousing: Carmen fights Le Chevre to the tune of "L'Amour est ouisou rebelle," each blow set to the tune of the music.
  • Military School: V.I.L.E. Training Academy for Thieves aims to crank out professional thieves into the world. Carmen was initially a student, but she defected after underestimating how the school's ruthless approaches were against her morals.
  • Mission Control: "The Player" serves this role during Carmen's missions.
  • Mistaken For Kidnapper: In the season 1 finale, Carmen is seen alone with the kidnapped Devineaux, resulting in the authorities assuming that she was behind the kidnapping rather than trying to rescue the victim from V.I.L.E.
  • Morton's Fork:
    • Either Carmen would have been trapped on V.I.L.E. island permanently as a ward, and remaining under the crooks' influence, or she would voluntarily enter the Academy to become a thief for real... and remain under V.I.L.E.'s influence. Shadow-san hoped that at least with the former option that Carmen wouldn't become a thief and throw her life away; he didn't intend for her to defect entirely.
    • Shadow-san faced this dilemma with hindsight. He could either pass Carmen, which would lead her to become a thief, or he could fail her with a rigged exam, and give her another year to pass his class. If he kept failing her, the other teachers would have smelled a rat. And of course, thanks to him goading "Black Sheep" about her failure when she proved she could pick his pockets without a problem and wanted a second chance, she ended up taking the worst course possible for him; to defect and openly turn against V.I.L.E., putting her in even more danger than she was before.
  • Mugged for Disguise: The Bookkeeper after Carmen causes a lockdown demands that she be allowed to leave the island, and none of V.I.L.E. wants her around after she let Carmen pickpocket her. Carmen ties up and gags the Bookkeeper and steals her coat to pose as her long enough to fool the Cleaners.
  • Mysterious Past: All Carmen knows about her origins is that a VILE agent (supposedly) found her as an abandoned baby in Argentina alongside a set of Matryoshka dolls. The agent was a young Shadow-san, but he doesn't know any more about her past than that himself.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The inclusion of Interpol harkens back the very first version of the original game, where the player worked for Interpol instead of ACME.
    • Early on, Julia guesses that Carmen may simply be stealing as a form of game. In some continuities such as the previous cartoon, that was her motivation.
    • In the first episode, Chase asks Julia if it's possible for a car to keep up with a speeding train. Julia responds that she's no math detective.
    • One of Carmen's classmates points out the absurdity of the various antagonists in the franchise having Punny Names, saying that nobody would take them seriously.
    • The Elevator Muzak in V.I.L.E. HQ is Mozart's 'Singt dem grossen Bassa Lieder', which was used as the basis for the theme to Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?.
    • Chase is told that he is "no longer a gumshoe" when he's recruited by ACME; "Gumshoe" was the lowest rank of ACME agents in the games and in the PBS game show.
    • ACME's chief resembles her incarnation from the "Where in the World?" game show and Brøderbund games, albeit with short blonde hair. She also appears through holograms, like the AI Chief from "Where on Earth?"
    • "The Chasing Paper Caper" centers around Carmen trying to stop a V.I.L.E. agent from stealing all known copies of the Magna Carta. Stealing the original Magna Carta was Carmen's goal in the time travel episode of Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?.
    • One of V.I.L.E.'s leaders is a Countess, possibly a reference to the Contessa, a recurring villain from Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego??
    • Coach Brunt is a big, strong woman with green hair, similar to Eartha Brute.
    • Dr. Dennam is listening to a podcast that claims aliens exist. Aliens appear in several different installments of the franchise.
    • The Cleaners are likely a reference to Rick and Nick ICK, two bumbling janitors from the 3.0 versions of Where in the World and USA. Their backstory is that they joined V.I.L.E. under the belief that knowing how to "clean up" would make them rich, and so they were assigned to "clean up" the evidence of V.I.L.E.'s whereabouts.
  • Never Say "Die": Although characters are placed in deadly situations, characters threaten each others lives, and Carmen's chief objection to V.I.L.E. is their willingness to commit murder, the words "die," "kill," "dead," etc. are never used.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • While Chase bursting in on Countess Cleo's dinner gives Carmen more time to steal the Countess's Vermeer paintings, it also means that he completely misses that all the dinner guests are V.I.L.E. operatives and guests; the Chief isn't amused when the next day they find the mansion burned down, and chews out a sheepish Chase for his obliviousness.
    • Carmen pickpocketing Devineaux's ACME keycard becomes this when Paper Star pickpockets it from her in turn and brings it back to VILE, making them aware of ACME's existence. V.I.L.E. erroneously concludes that Chase is Carmen's partner, capturing and torturing him.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!:
    • V.I.L.E. giving Carmen a decent childhood and education while raising her led to her developing a sense of compassion that put her at odds with her family's murderous intents.
    • One of Carmen's teachers at V.I.L.E. named Shadow-san ensures her failure on an Unwinnable by Design pickpocketing test while applauding a more unscrupulous classmate's methods because he doesn't approve of Carmen's special treatment by the other teachers. This spurs Carmen towards trying to prove herself by sneaking on an actual caper of her newly graduated class's and realizing the lengths to which V.I.L.E. was willing to go to acquire items, thus prompting her Heel–Face Turn. If the teacher had just tested her normally, Carmen would still be "Black Sheep" and in V.I.L.E.'s pocket for a little longer. Subverted when it’s revealed he did this on purpose because he didn’t want her to become a thief.
    • Gray firing on an innocent man, and refusing to listen when she saves the man's life and calls him out for it, led to Carmen's disillusionment and eventual defection. It also ended their friendship when she saw what he really was.
    • The fact that V.I.L.E. chose to shelter Carmen from their more brutal nature left her completely shocked and disillusioned with her beloved family, if they had not gone to such lengths to hide their unscrupulousness, she might’ve remained under their thumb and not become their greatest enemy.
  • Noble Demon:
    • Carmen eventually becomes this. Julie deduces that Carmen only steals from other thieves, and gives most of the money she earns to charities.
    • Player is one; he only hacks into places to see what good he can do. He inspires Carmen to do the same.
  • Noodle Incident: How Carmen met Zack and Ivy. The most we know is that it had something to do with a V.I.L.E. hideout disguised as a donut shop.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Julia forcefully interrupts Chase in the pilot to point out Carmen is right behind them after he speaks disparagingly of her academic background.
  • Not So Different: Player and Carmen became friends when they both realize they want to use "evil" skills for good reasons.
  • Nothing Personal: Paper Star doesn't have a grudge against Carmen, unlike her other classmates who graduated, because they never had a rocky history. As the novelization details, Carmen would give her extra origami paper when she asked for Shadow-san's class, and complimented her handiwork until Paper Star beheaded her own paper army with a paper ninja star. Ironically, Paper Star is the only classmate who has actually defeated Carmen in a straight fight. Though maybe Paper Star doesn't take it personally because she's a "psychopath," in Le Chevre's words.
  • Novelization: "Who in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" is an adaptation of the first two episodes delving into Carmen's past.
  • Oblivious to Love: If Gray had a crush on Carmen, then she remained oblivious to it, likening him to an older brother she never had. He outright asks her out on a date after V.I.L.E. wipes his memory, but Carmen relishes the opportunity to renew their friendship.
  • Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: While Carmen remains a thorn in V.I.L.E.'s side, it's implied she's only disrupting a fraction of their operations. Le Chevre, for instance, boasts that he's done more successful missions than Paper Star though we've only seen his failed missions on the show.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Coach Brunt reacts this way when Mime Bomb communicates that "Black Sheep" sneaked out with the graduates.
    • Carmen has this reaction when Gray fires on the archaeologist.
    • Zach has this reaction multiple times in the Vermeer caper: when he opens the door and encounters Dash Haber instead of room service, when he picks up the wrong drinking glass at the Countess's dinner, and when the palate cleanser before dessert is "fish eggs".
    • In the novelization, Carmen has this reaction when she compliments Paper Star's origami miniature army, only for Paper Star to callously behead them with a paper ninja star.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: Shadow-san arriving at the pier just as Carmen takes the boat in the two-parter. When we revisit the scene in the finale, Shadow-san reveals he was trying to join her.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Carmen treats her Russian dolls very well, because they're the only clue she has about her past. The day she escapes, she decides to leave them behind on V.I.L.E. island to "travel light".
    • The Bookkeeper notes that Carmen for the first time ever has not tossed water balloons at her for the Bookkeeper's annual arrival. It was because Carmen was planning on pickpocketing her and pretended to apologize during their elevator ride.
  • Origins Episode: The two-part pilot serves as this, detailing Carmen's origin in this continuity as an orphan raised by V.I.L.E., and the events that led to her turning on them.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Carmen has a set of Russian nesting dolls that V.I.L.E. found by her when she was a baby. They sadly didn't carry hints to her past, though Carmen tried to investigate them. She ends up leaving them behind when she defects, symbolically abandoning the story of her Mysterious Past to make a better future. Then she re-steals them from a V.I.L.E. hideout, and it's revealed to have been a trap that Gray set (though she was expecting that).
  • Outside-Context Problem: Due to Julia's background in knowing history and archaeology, it makes her better suited to understand Carmen's methods than the action-oriented Chase. Chase of course dismisses her background when she talks about the objects Carmen could steal.
  • Paper Master: V.I.L.E. agent Paper Star, who took Shadow-san's origami lessons to heart, and specializes in folding paper stars sharp enough to cut through stone. She can use them as daggers and can fold them fast enough to make a veritable storm of razor origami art.
  • Pet the Dog: The Bookkeeper has every reason to dislike Carmen, from the water balloon pranks to her recklessness. But she gives Black Sheep genuine advice and shakes her hand.
  • Pick on Someone Your Own Size: Carmen, who's the youngest V.I.L.E. student ever, gets into fights with older students and her former teachers.
  • Playful Hacker: The Player, who specifically identifies himself as a white-hat hacker, even using a white fedora as an icon at one point and wearing a white baseball cap in his first conversation with Carmen.
  • Police are Useless: Chase Devineaux's sole virtue as a policeman is his determination. But since he never thinks before chasing after Carmen, he never accomplishes anything. Julie Argent comes across as more competent, but even that is limited to being observant enough to know there are unanswered questions that her partner never considers, but she still never gets a chance to work out the answers or do anything with them.
  • Properly Paranoid: Carmen refuses to put an amnesiac Gray in danger by re-entering his life. It turns out that when V.I.L.E. thinks that Chase is her partner, they end up capturing and torturing him.
  • Psychic Static: In "The French Connection Caper" Chase tries to resist a V.I.L.E. mind probe by continuously singing the French national anthem.
  • Punny Name: Aside from Dr. Saira Bellum, this has mostly been avoided, as lampshaded by Gray's initial attempt at a codename "Graham Crackle". Countess Cleo's underling Dash Haber may count as a Stealth Pun, as a haberdasher is a men's tailor.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: At one point Devineaux chews himself out in the mirror, both for his frequent failures and for snapping at Julia earlier.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Carmen tries to pull a prank by tossing water balloons at the Bookkeeper, as she did when she was a child. It might have been cute then, but when she becomes a V.I.L.E. student the action nearly leads to her expulsion.
    • Carmen's first attempt to leave the V.I.L.E. academy involved forcing open a drainage grate in the Absurdly Spacious Sewer. When she tries it again the following year, she finds that the staff (who learned of her escape and how from Mime Bomb) has taken steps to ensure that nobody can get in or out that way again by bolting the grate in place.
    • Paper Star may be able to create Absurdly Sharp Throwing Stars from paper, but they're still paper, and as such, can easily be blown away in the wind.
    • As impressive as Carmen's physical abilities are, exploring sunken ships found in the sea followed by walking around Quito, the second-highest capital city in the world, without taking the time to adjust is a bit of whiplash for the body. She quickly succumbs altitude sickness.
    • Carmen gets subject to a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown in the season finale, courtesy of Coach Brunt. Shadow-san convinces her to escape with him because, as he points out, she can't walk on her own and the police will catch her.
  • The Red Baron: Chase calls Carmen "La Femme Rouge," or "The Red Lady," and the Crimson Ghost.
  • Redemption Rejection: Carmen reveals that she wanted to talk to Gray because she believed the memory of their friendship was enough for him to want to join her and turn on V.I.L.E. Gray responds by turning her down and firing his electric gun on her.
  • Red Herring: The Russian dolls that were found with Carmen when she was a baby. She held onto them because they were the only clue about her past, but in time she came to associate them with the lies V.I.L.E. told her about their organization. Gray uses them as bait to track her; Carmen attaches the tracking device to a ship after she knocks out Gray.
  • Red Is Heroic: This iteration of Carmen's leans towards the anti-hero type, but she's still wearing and using red-themed clothing and items.
  • The Reveal: Shadow-san was the one who discovered Carmen as a baby, and he failed her because he thought she could do better with her life than become a thief and a V.I.L.E. agent. He was the one who sabotaged the Janitors' helicopter when Carmen made her getaway, and would have joined Carmen in the boat if he had made it in time.
  • Rewatch Bonus: After learning about Shadow-san's true nature, most of what he does in the two-parter makes more sense.
  • Running Gag: There are a few minor ones, like how every time Vile is mentioned to have made a food product the flavor is compared to the company name, or how the show loves to show off Zack and Ivy's Southie accents with common phrases that are known to exaggerate it.
  • Scenery Porn: The locations are very bright and colorful despite the lineless artstyle.
  • Second Episode Introduction: If you count the opening two-parter as one episode, Zack and Ivy don't get introduced until the following episode.
  • Sequel Hook: The first season ends with Chase going to the hospital after having VILE's truth device clamped to his head, The Chief of ACME face to face with Carmen Sandiego, Shadow-san revealing his true colors and leaving Carmen with a new VILE hard-drive which means more adventures for her and the crew.
  • Shoe Phone: Some of Carmen's thieving tools, like a lockpick disguised as a tube of lipstick, are this.
  • Shout-Out:
    • During Carmen's flashback to her childhood, her geography lesson has her identifying "Istanbul, not Constantiniple".
    • V.I.L.E. only graduates forty students a year. Naturally, Carmen once refers to them as the Forty Thieves.
    • When brainstorming codenames, Gray first thinks of "Shocker" before it gets shot down.
    • More than once, Gray puns on Carmen's V.I.L.E. codename with an old nursery rhyme and quips, "Bye-bye, Black Sheep".
    • Tigress dismissively called Carmen "Fedora the Explorer."
    • "The Duke of Vermeer Caper" is all about the career of Johannes Vermeer, and how his incredible attention to light and shadow and surprisingly small body of work (only 34 known paintings) make his work highly desirable.
    • "The Opera in The Outback Caper" is set during a performance of Carmen (fittingly enough). The similarities of the characters is referenced often.
    • Le Chèvre calls Paper Star "Pippi Punkstocking"
    • Professor Maelstrom's outfit (tan slacks, dark turtleneck, black jacket with white piping) is an exact replica of the one Patrick McGoohan wore in The Prisoner.
  • Shrouded in Myth:
    • V.I.L.E. is obsessed over hiding their existence from anyone outside of their organization, to the point of mind-wiping operatives who get captured. ACME can't even definitively prove that they exist..
    • ACME is even more mysterious to the rest of the world, with not even V.I.L.E. knowing anything about them, and they only get a hint that the organization exists late in season 1.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: The leader of the archaeological dig in the second episode. His conversation with Carmen about artifact conservation, and how he was about to die from Crackle's staff, is what causes Carmen to defect V.I.L.E.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: Coach Brunt speaks in a low voice when torturing Chase and suffocating Carmen.
  • Southies: In this incarnation, Zack and Ivy are both thieves from Boston, who have noticeable accents.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • Shadow-san refuses to show any favoritism to Carmen and it's implied he fails her on purpose so she can't graduate with her class. This led to her defection because she sneaked out to spite him and his rigged exam. It turns out his intention was to keep her from becoming a thief because he was worried she was throwing her life away.
    • Carmen herself became this when she tagged along with the graduates' mission. It led her to save a man's life because he was an innocent and opened her eyes to what V.I.L.E. really was.
    • In the Duke of Vermeer caper, Carmen and Player outline their plan to retrieve all 34 Vermeer paintings... and then that got derailed when Zack accidentally opens the doors too soon — thinking it was room service — only to meet with Dash Haber, one of Countess Cleo's underlings — and the group has to change it so that Zack appears as a Duke.
      • In the same episode, Chase crashing Countess Cleo's dinner is what gives Carmen and Ivy some extra time to swipe the paintings.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The Netflix subtitles clarify that it's Saira Bellum this time, perhaps to differentiate her from Sara Bellum from The Powerpuff Girls. Or from bad puns in general.
  • Splash of Color: The intro's first few seconds depicts Carmen's travels in a black and white atmosphere, allowing herself to stand out in her iconic scarlet color in every scene.
  • Spoiled Brat: Carmen admits that, thanks to Brunt protecting her from any punishment that could come from her childish pranks on V.I.L.E., that she was this as "Black Sheep". She would "get away with murder" metaphorically, and she believed Brunt was her actual mother.
  • Stairs Are Faster: In the first episode, the old-fashioned lift Chase tries to use takes about a minute to make it one story. He lampshades this.
  • Subliminal Seduction: "The Opera at the Outback Caper" has Dr. Bellum's plan release a subliminal command to unleash the Boomerang rocket when the head scientist hears "L'Amour est ouisou rebelle". Unfortunately, since Carmen was also there when Le Chevere unleashed the command, she is also commanded to activate the rocket when she was trying to delete its codes.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: In the finale, Coach Brunt asks Carmen about her "partnership" with Chase Devineaux. Carmen doesn't bother to correct Coach Brunt and instead snarks that she prefers working with the law than with evil villains.
  • Swiper, No Swiping!: Chase attempts to shout at Carmen to stop to get her to surrender. She lampshades why he thinks that would work.
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Chase and Julia. They're just trying to stop an obvious cat burglar from stealing priceless antiquities, they don't know her true motives. Even with her good intentions, Carmen is still stealing.
  • Sympathy for the Hero: Carmen momentarily has this look, along with some respect, as Chase keeps pace with her on the rooftops in the pilot.
  • Tagline:
    • "Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?"
    • "Who is Carmen Sandiego?" is another promotional take on the classic phrase, emphasizing this series' focus on unraveling Carmen's past.
  • Taught by Experience: Carmen, after being told off constantly for her impulsive nature, learns from her mistakes as she plans her escape from V.I.L.E. Island. She memorizes everyone's routines, incapacitates anyone who can stop her, and improvises when items like welded bolts stand in her way.
  • That Man Is Dead: Coach Brunt loved Black Sheep like a daughter, but she considers her to be dead, and loathes Carmen Sandiego for killing her.
  • Those Two Bad Guys:
    • The Cleaners, two V.I.L.E. agents that act as enforcers. Their day-to-day jobs are as the school's janitors but they're the ones sent to extract and take out targets.
    • There's also the graduates La Chèvre and El Topo, a duo that never goes on missions without each other (barring "The Chasing Paper Caper" where only La Chevre appears) that respectively strike high and low.
  • Thou Shall Not Kill: The reason why Carmen decides to turn against V.I.L.E.
  • Thrill Seeker: Carmen can't resist the thrill of the chase. It's why she kept launching water balloons at the Bookkeeper every year, why she pretends to give Chase a sporting chance to catch her, and why she lets Gray corner her on the train.
  • Time Bomb: "The Opera in the Outback Caper"'s launch of the Boomerang rocket is essentially one, although the time seems to count down in real-time.
  • Timm Style: The show's character designs, penned by Keiko Murayama, fits Chromosphere's in-house style of having angular, simple yet distinctive designs with some exaggerated proportions.
  • Title Drop: At the end of the first episode intro, Chase asks the eternal question "Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?" It happens again near the end of the two-part premiere, as Carmen has just escaped V.I.L.E. headquarters and tells Player to send her coordinates because "I need to know where in the world I am."
  • Title Theme Tune: As per tradition for the franchise, though paired with more overt spy themes, slow guitars, and castanets.
  • Trail of Bread Crumbs: Julia finds the ACME agents that had taken Chase in episode 4 by following the trail of mints that Chase had accidentally spilled all over the parking garage floor after getting knocked out. It worked despite the small number of candies in the roll by the fact that he was taken to a utility room less than fifty feet away.
  • Traintop Battle: The climax of "The Chasing Paper Caper" ends with one.
  • Ultimate Universe: This take on Carmen blends elements from many prior versions: several characters from the mid-90s cartoon, the general setting of the original 80s games (V.I.L.E. is legitimately dangerous, there's a relative lack of Punny Names, and the investigators are from Interpol instead of ACME to start with, anyway), Chase Devineaux from the late-90s Broderbund games, Jules Argent from the 2000s Learning Company games, while taking new directions of its own, such as making Carmen the protagonist for once.
  • Un-person: VILE and ACME agents do not exist anywhere outside their own databases unless they get caught. As a former VILE trainee, Carmen also falls into this to an extent - most of the world knows nothing about her beyond what they can surmise from her crimes, and she doesn't know all that much more herself. While most of these people are off the grid because all records about them were redacted, Carmen's records never existed in the first place.
  • Unreliable Expositor: Carmen admits that all she knows about her origins — being an abandoned baby in Argentina— was told by the people who adopted her, and they hid more than one thing about her thief life. She claims that the teachers at V.I.L.E. spoiled her rotten and weren't allowed to hurt her, but in "The Sticky Rice Caper" she also says that Dr. Bellum fed her imitation rice that made her cry as a baby.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Carmen suspects that her pickpocketing exam against Shadow-san was one, that she failed to lift the dollar bill from his coat because there was no bill to steal. She was right.
  • Vanity License Plate: The license plate of Chase's ACME car is 10-19, the police scanner code for "return(ing) to base".
  • Vehicular Sabotage: When the Cleaners try to use a helicopter to capture the escaping Black Sheep in the pilot, they find several of the wires to the engine had been cut. It wasn't Carmen who cut the wires - it was Shadow-san.
  • Villain Respect: Shadow-san has this expression when Carmen successfully escapes V.I.L.E. island. It's because she was leaving V.I.L.E. behind for good, which was what she - and he - wanted.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Zigzagged. Carmen knows that Brunt truly loved her, and that the V.I.L.E. Academy gave her the best childhood she could possibly have. She does question, however, how much they hid from her, like that the thieves have no moral code, and if the story of her being abandoned in Argentina was even true (that much of it apparently is). She bitterly tells Gray her whole life was a lie.
  • Wax On, Wax Off: Shadow-san is a Japanese staff member of V.I.L.E. whose class on pickpocketing centers around developing a dexterous, light touch by practicing origami.
  • We Can Rule Together: Gray reveals that he has orders to bring in Carmen alive because V.I.L.E. finds her too valuable and competent to just kill or mind-wipe; they'll give her a "pardon" if she comes quietly. He points out that Carmen just wanted to be a thief the whole time. Carmen has a regretful look about what she wanted as a kid, and she makes a counteroffer for Gray to join her. Gray refuses and tries to knock her out or execute her; it's unclear.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Episode 4 reveals Julie and Chase being accepted into ACME.
    • Episode 6: Grey has his memories erased of being a VILE thief and Carmen must part ways with him.
    • Episode 9: Shadow-san reveals his true colors to Carmen, handing her a new VILE hard-drive and the Chief of Acme finally meets face to face with Carmen Sandiego.
  • Wham Line: Pretty much all of the lines Shadow-san says in the climax of the Season 1 finale, particularly the one where he reveals that he found Carmen as a baby.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • All the teachers in V.I.L.E., despite being revealed to be villains, call out Carmen for her impulsive nature and recklessness. The words from Shadow-san hurt the most since he's the one who failed her.
    • Zig-Zagged. Gray tells off Carmen in Episode 2 for tagging along on the mission and putting his entire career at risk. While he is right that she was reckless and could have gotten them killed, he displays a more It's All About Me attitude that he didn't show before. And as Carmen finds out, he's willing to commit murder.
    • Subverted when Carmen calls out Gray for firing on an innocent man. Gray by this point is open about the fact that he's a villain, not a hero, and he's more concerned that Carmen betrayed him and all of V.I.L.E.
  • What You Are in the Dark: After she was busting for sneaking out with the graduates and finding out that V.I.L.E. encourages reckless murder, Carmen was given a slap on the wrist: she had her stolen phone confiscated, had the teachers constantly watching and psych-evaluating her, and received a giant hug from a worrying Coach Brunt. Carmen could have easily trained to become a thief anyway and ignore her morals, remained the V.I.L.E. equivalent of a Mafia Princess and never leave the island, or even try to become an Internal Reformist as upward as that journey would be. Instead, she bid her time, re-stole the phone, and made her escape an open defection against V.I.L.E. Freedom wasn't enough, and stealing wasn't enough. She was going to take down V.I.L.E. from the outside for lying to her all her life and killing people.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: While Carmen keeping some of the money she steals for operational expenses can account for how she can afford them, no explanation is given as to where and how Carmen acquires all the gadgets she keeps in her coat.
  • White Sheep: Carmen is this to the thieves that raised her, as she is discriminating in her choice of victims and tries to minimize collateral damage, while V.I.L.E. doesn't care how much harm they do so long as they turn a profit. Amusingly, her code name back when she was a V.I.L.E. agent in training was Black Sheep.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Carmen didn't have a real name growing up; her code name was Black Sheep. Brunt called her Lambikins or Lambsie for short.
  • Who's on First?: In "The Opera on the Outback Caper", Zach and Ivy have to clarify if they're talking about Carmen Sandiego or Carmen the opera. An amnesiac Gray thinks that Carmen's being funny when she gives her name, which to be fair she chose.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Gray corners Carmen in her first-class train compartment and shorts out her communications with Player; he found her because the object she stole had a tracking device. He has orders to bring her in alive, however, and she says that she wanted him to find her. So until the train reaches Paris, Gray interrogates her about why she betrayed V.I.L.E. and left him.
  • You Have Failed Me: V.I.L.E. invokes this not for failing to complete a mission (as Carmen thwarts several of them), but for getting captured.

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