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Western Animation / Denver the Last Dinosaur

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Denver the Last Dinosaur,
He's my friend and a whole lot more!
Denver the Last Dinosaur
Shows me a world I never saw before!

A French-American co-production, Denver the Last Dinosaur is an animated series from the 1980's (as if you needed to be told) about a group of Los Angeles teens that find the last dinosaur egg in existence and teach the hatchling, Denver, all about skateboarding, rocking out on guitar, and generally being totally radical. It lasted for 52 episodes and then was promptly forgotten, along with some of the other remnants of the late-80's / early 90's dinosaur mania. The little nostalgia for the series is mostly because of that kick-ass theme song. Fun fact: most of the cast consisted of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles voice actors (Cam Clarke, Rob Paulsen, Townsend Coleman, even Adam Carl who voiced Donatello in the second live action film) which just adds to the late 1980s period piece feel as these actors arguably did the totally radical angle better than anyone else.

Zagtoon produced a reboot of the show as Denver & Cliff.

In 2023, World Events appointed Curiosity Ink as the property's licensor while in April of that same year WEP and Curiosity Ink announced that it would develop an animated feature film based on the IP.

Tropes found in this show:

  • The '80s: Very steeped in it due to the decade, with rock music, skateboards and other Totally Radical clichés.
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Casey has a crush on Mario, who is often uncomfortable with her flirting.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Both Shades and Mario have brown skin, but it's not clear whether they are intended to be black, Latino or some other ethnicity. However, in the episode "Aunt Shadie's Ghost Town", Shades is revealed to be Latino.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: In the pilot episode, the story occasionally stops in its tracks so the narrator can impart dinosaur facts to the viewer.
  • Bait-and-Switch Credits: Despite the line "Everywhere we go, we don't even care, if people stop and stare at our pal dino", the characters spend nearly the whole of the first few episodes fretting about whether they've been spotted with the eponymous reptile, and continue to try and keep him a secret throughout the series.
  • Band Episode: In one episode, the gang forms a band called Stone Age Rock for a talent contest, with Wally and Denver on guitars, Jeremy on keyboards, Mario on bass, the girls performing background vocals, and Shades as the drummer. Their nerdy friend Freddy builds his own robotic band for the contest called the Roborockers.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: There are two main villains in the series: the greedy and shady businessman Morton Fizzback who usually wants to capture Denver to capitalize on him, and Dr. Funt, the Glory Hound scientist who wants to improve his scientific reputation by showing Denver to the world.
  • Cartoon Creature: Denver does not resemble any specific species of dinosaur. It's commonly thought he was supposed to be a Corythosaurus, though his "mohawk" head crest resembles an Olorotitan.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: In one episode Morton Fizzback rips his way too tight superhero costume at the backside, exposing white underpants with dollar motives, much to his embarrassment and amusement of the protagonists.
  • Cool Shades: One of the teenagers is literally called "Shades" after his sunglasses. Denver also gets a pair of pink shades, matching his guitar.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: In the pilot episode, Morton Fizzback kidnaps Denver and presents him to the audience at a rock concert. The song the rock band plays? "Denver the Last Dinosaur", the show's theme song.
  • Fat Bastard: Morton Fizzback is an overweight man who is greedy and corrupt.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Denver himself, with his egg surviving since the Cretaceous period and hatching in the '80s.
  • Four-Man Band: The boys:
    • Only Sane Man: Wally, the most "normal" guy to balance out the antics of his friends.
    • The Smart Guy: Jeremy, the smartest and most eloquent guy who focuses on his schoolwork.
    • Casanova Wannabe: Shades, who tries to act like a cool kid all the time.
    • Butt-Monkey: Mario, a cocky goofball who's often the butt of jokes.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Wally is an animal-loving guy and Denver's primary caretaker.
  • Gang of Bullies: The guys in the group typically get into with four bullies in the neighborhood. Nick is the leader, with Curt, Scott, and Rod as the flunkies.
  • Gilligan Cut: In the pilot, after Mario protests that he won't beg his admirer for a favour.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Shades sometimes throws Spanish words into his speech.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: The lyrics "he's my friend and a whole lot more" would nowadays imply that the subject is a romantic partner. This being the 80's and both the singer and the subject of the song being male (not to mention the latter being a dinosaur as well)...
  • Hilarity in Zoos: The episode "Lions, Tigers and Dinosaurs" is about Wally taking a job at a zoo and becoming friends with the rapping zookeeper Dr. D.
  • Honest John's Dealership: When not trying to exploit Denver for his own ends, Morton Fizzback is running some kind of business venture of questionable quality (such as claiming to be a wildlife guide and charging people to get on his tour bus).
  • The Kiddie Ride: Not officially licensed, but Zamperla produced a Denver kiddie ride in their earlier years. Given that the show was popular in Italy (where Zaperla originates) and their poor copyright track records where kiddie rides are concerned, it's probably to be expected.
  • The Last Title: The name of the series.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Denver's name is taken from a passing bus which displays a tourism ad for Denver, Colorado.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Jeremy is a handsome teenager with long blonde hair.
  • Mad Scientist: Professor Funt is a villainous paleontologist who wants to capture Denver and experiment on him.
  • Magic Enhancement: Denver's egg shell, which Denver carries around a piece of, has magic properties that when touched, can send whoever touches it back to the dinosaur age from where Denver came.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Heather, Wally's older sister, is a shapely and pretty blonde girl, usually wearing form-fitting clothes. In one episode she gets a job at a theme park that requires her to wear a cavegirl outfit; in another one, Mario tells an "Arabian Nights" Days story where she appears as a genie, wearing a Bedlah Babe outfit similar to Jeannie's.
  • Nerd Glasses: Wally, the nerdiest of the teens, wears large glasses. And Freddy Facknitts, a full-on nerd, has typical big, black framed glasses.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The villain Morton Fizzback looks & sounds an awful lot like Rodney Dangerfield
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Denver looks a lot more cartoony than the more realistic dinosaurs shown in the opening and other flashbacks to the dinosaur age.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Shades is just called that because of his sunglasses. His real name is never revealed.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: When Denver has to go out in public, the boys will typically just throw some accessories on him and tell other people that he's a foreign exchange student, an exotic dog breed, just a guy in a dino suit, etc., and somehow people will buy it.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Denver's guitar and accessories are pink.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Nick, a bully who likes to pick on the main group of boys, usually speaks in rhyme for some reason. Dr. D, a zookeeper who appears in some episodes, also sometimes speaks like he's rapping.
  • Show Within a Show: Apparently in the universe of Denver, there was a crossover show between Lion Voltron and Vehicle Voltron. You get to see about a second of it in one episode when a TV is changing channels quickly. (Keep in mind that Denver's production company, World Events Productions, Events, is the same group that dubbed Voltron for Western audiences.)
  • Smarter Than You Look: Jeremy looks and dresses like a stereotypical jock, but he's the most erudite member of the cast, often speaking with Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness.
  • Speech-Impaired Animal: Denver perfectly understands English from his birth, but initially just makes animal-like vocalizations and grumbling, with the occasional intelligible word. As the series goes on however, Denver seems to learn how to say more words to people, and in later episodes, he can even say simple phrases & sentences, similar to Scooby-Doo.
  • Stereotypical Nerd: Freddy Facknitts, a minor character who shows up in later episodes, is a very nerdy guy who sometimes helps out the boys with technology stuff.
  • Surfer Dude: Mario. While the other guys in the group can certainly be Totally Radical, Mario's the one with the radical accent and, like, the constant word choice to totally go along with it.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Morton Fizzback's goons are often dimwitted and slow on the draw, much to his constant frustration.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: From the two major female characters, Casey is very much One of the Boys, wearing overalls and a baseball cap and riding a scooter, whereas Heather dresses and acts much more feminine.
  • Totally Radical: Even for its day, the show had an unusually high density of California Surfer Dude clichés.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Denver loves to eat potato chips whenever he gets the chance.
  • Wrench Wench: Casey handles whatever machine issues come up for the group.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Morton Fizzback has sometimes fallen into this when insisting there's a real dinosaur out there. Even actually producing Denver in the flesh sometimes doesn't do him any good, due to onlookers being fed up with whatever other scam he was running.
  • Your Costume Needs Work: In some episodes, Denver is dismissed as just a guy in a monster costume. He even spends "Dinoland" wandering around the park because the manager mistook him for an employee.