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Western Animation / Detentionaire

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"At 4:15, detention gets out. The only problem is, I'm nowhere near detention right now."

I don't wanna
Take the heat, no
Now I gotta
Go It Solo
I don't wanna
Do the time, so
I just gotta
Take what's mine, whoa
Walking a fine line, keepin' control
Deep in the cut, ready to roll
Are you friend or are you foe?
Now I gotta...go it solo...
The show's epic theme song. The guitar riffs and "bah bah bahbah babah's" are all optional.

Detentionaire is a Canadian Mystery Fiction-Conspiracy Thriller cartoon from Nelvana that was created by TV writers Daniel Bryan Franklin and Charles Johnston. It began airing weekly on Teletoon in January 2012, although it had a preview week in the September of 2011.

Lee Ping, an Ordinary High-School Student beginning 10th grade at A. Nigma High School, gets a year's worth of detention for pulling the mother of all school pranks, and on the very first day, no less.

The catch? He didn't actually do any of it.

To make matters worse, his mother, a teacher at his school, has grounded him for the same length of time, leaving him unable to do anything outside of school. Since no one will believe his claims of innocence and he doesn't have any proof of it, Lee must clear his name by sneaking out of detention every day and finding clues that will lead him to the true culprit.

With the help of a circle of close allies, including his best friend Camillio Martinez, goofy exchange student Holger Holgaart, school bully Biffy Goldstein, and the school news reporter Tina Kwee (his crush), Lee searches for the truth behind the prank and tries to catch the real prankster by rubbing shoulders with the various student cliques of A. Nigma High. And while he's at it, Lee finds himself having to avoid all manner of obstacles, such as the tyrannical cyborg principal and former military officer General Barrage, the school's strange hazmat-wearing janitors, and a lizard-like monster called the Tazelwurm that serves as school mascot.

Widely considered to be one of the best shows ever produced by Nelvana and to have ever aired on Teletoon, thanks to its complex plot and engaging writing, surpassing Franklin, Redwall, and Mythic Warriors: Guardians of the Legend. In recent years however, it has faced some competition with Mysticons for the title of being Nelvana's best series.

The show lasted 53 episodes over 4 seasons, and was licensed by Cartoon Network for an American release. The series was canceled on Thursday, January 29, 2015, allegedly due to poor performance in the United States. All 4 seasons are available to view online via Amazon, Tubi, and YouTube via Nelvana's Retro Rerun channel in America, the latter two being available for free.

Not be confused with Detention.

Detentionaire contains examples of:

  • 13 Is Unlucky: This number has popped up a few times. For example, Wing 13 of the Green Apple Splat factory is a creepy, dark, seemingly haunter corridor, and it's where the survivors of the old factory's meltdown were kept, since they all went insane because of the fumes. Of course, the protagonists have to go through it to escape the second meltdown. Also, students are periodically called down to Room 113 B, which actually leads to the underground Brainwashing rooms.
  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: Under the Green Apple Splat factory, as well as under the school, and under Brandy's condo. They turn into strangely high-tech hallways.
  • Academy of Adventure: A. Nigma High School.
  • Accidental Misnaming: For the first five episodes, Brandy calls Lee "leaping" instead of "Lee Ping".
  • The Ace: Despite his supposed geeky rep before the series start, Lee gains instant popularity after getting detention. Also, he's a pretty good action hero for an Ordinary High-School Student, as he seems to be able to do anything; from being a star football player, to a top violinist, to a brilliant actor. This also counts as a subversion, in that while Lee is fairly intelligent and resourceful, he struggles through the more physical aspects of being an Action Hero (for example, the first time he swipes a skateboard to escape, he does have some trouble with his coordination). Not to mention his reputation as a legendary troublemaker was completely false.
  • Action Mom: Lee’s mom is revealed to be this in "Clogspiracy" when she fights off superintendent-turned-temporary-principal Blompkins with a clog-gun.
  • Adults Are Useless: On one hand, Barrage toes a fine line between overtly stern and tyrannical and Lee's mom (embarrassingly enough, a math teacher at his school) doesn't believe that her own clean-cut son didn't pull the prank. On the other hand, Vice Principal Victoria is sympathetic to the students and is swift to deal with bullies like Biffy, and Lee's dad tries to make his son's grounding period at least bearable. It's too bad that Barrage sacrifices himself for Lee and Victoria turns out to be evil.
  • Airvent Passageway: How Lee sneaks around the school. The Tazelwurms use it too.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: Subverted. When Biffy loses track of Lee and can't reach him by phone in “The Theme Team”, he gets so worried something bad happened that he tries to get Mr. Rumplekittykat to find him by scent like a tracking dog. Instead, the cat just curls up in the shirt and goes to sleep.
    • Occasionally played straight with the Taz. While he's usually pretty realistic for a snake/lizard/dragon/whatever he is, he does have a habit of licking people's faces in greeting like a dog would.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Jenny towards the Serpent if "Splitting Hairs" is any indication.
  • Aloof Ally: Kimmie to the heroes. She will help Biffy sometimes… if she feels like it.
  • Alpha Bitch:
    • Brandy, Lee's new (and self-proclaimed) girlfriend comes off as either this, Clingy Jealous Girl, or Lovable Alpha Bitch at first. Episode 5 shows that she wants to be a part of the Alpha Bitch clique, and at the end of that episode, warms up enough that she stops calling Lee "Leaping" and refers to him properly as Lee Ping. Episode 18 showed more of a loyal side to her, including accompanying Lee on a stakeout, asking and telling some personal things about him and herself to try and improve their relationship, and showing Lee that she can be very crafty too.
    • Chaz is a male example of this to Tina and all of the media group. Vain, self-absorbed and verbally abusive unless on camera, he definitely isn't the Jerk Jock.
    • Kimmie herself is this as well, even towards Brandy and Biffy. But when Kimmie and Biffy are alone, they start rekindling their old friendships.
  • Amusing Injuries: To Holger more than anyone else but Chaz has gotten in on the act too.
  • Anachronism Stew: How did that guy on the news team have an operating 1920's (though really 1930's) video camera?
  • Animal Wrongs Group: The trio from Episode 10, who caused an entire factory to melt down just to save some frogs, nearly killing everyone in the process.
  • Anime Hair: Lee sports a mullet with emo bangs, that's red on top and black in the back. This even goes back to his childhood.
    • The strangeness of his hair is constantly lampshaded by his friends and those around him, such as RadCircles being quick to mock it and asking why he dyes it like that, and Chaz asking Tina if it's his natural hair color.
    Lee: What's wrong with my hair?
  • Arch-Enemy: Lee and true perpetrator of the prank: RadCircles, better known as Lynch Webber
  • Art Shift: The style shifts from Toon Boom animation to still images to depict the chaos of the gym at the first day. The last two seconds of the intro also briefly shift into sketchy traditional animation. In crowd scenes, there are often nameless background characters that do not move or speak who seem to be drawn in a different style. When we see a close up on hands, they tend to be drawn in more detail as well.
  • Artistic License – History: In Welcome To Factory Island, the kids see a film about Green Apple Splat. In one scene of the film, the narrator says that Green Apple Splat was once used to clean the nostrils of Mesopotamian royalty. However, the scene shows a man dressed up in an outfit from Elizabethan England instead.
  • Ascended Extra: This tends to happen to a number of students. For example, Jenny Jergens of the Outcasts started out as a one-off character in Season 2 and is brought back in the latter half of Season 3 to join Lee's little investigative team.
  • Asian and Nerdy: Lee is a rather downplayed version in that he gets good grades, but uses his brain more for his investigations and is almost nothing like a stereotypical nerd.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: The skater clique. Dear God, the skater clique.
    Lee: I've met squirrels with longer attention spans!
  • Attention Whore:
    • Chaz, the head reporter for the school news.
    • Brandy slowly makes the school play center around her, when it's supposed to be about the school's founder, Alexander Nigma. She goes as far as to change almost every aspect of the play, from the names of the characters to adding action scenes with explosions and ninjas.
  • Badly Battered Babysitter: To an extent, Cam babysitting his “evil little sister” Angelina. He has to yell at her to not microwave the goldfish and gets hit in the head with both a water balloon and soccer ball, and that's only what we get to see onscreen. In the end, though, it's not so bad, as they're just acting like siblings and not doing anyone real harm. Except the goldfish, that is.
  • Bald of Evil: Lynch, since he's really a man in his late seventies and thus has to wear a wig.
  • Bathroom Breakout: How Lee and his friends get out of class to go adventuring.
  • Batman Cold Open: Nearly every episode.
  • Battle of the Bands: In Episode 6, A. Nigma High has one, featuring several acts of questionable quality alongside the school's own rock band, the Dudes of Darkness. When Lee accidentally and indirectly causes the DoD's frontman Cyrus to break off, it's up to him to get the band back together in time to perform.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Holger tries to get into the Hydra by posing as a famous European gambler who is outraged that he needs to prove his identity with an ID. It's not very convincing, but thankfully, the guard is ordered to let them in anyway.
  • Beta Couple: Cam and Brandy, Holger and Greta, Biffy and Kimmie
  • Betty and Veronica: Tina (Betty) and Brandy (Veronica) for Lee. Jenny becomes the Veronica starting Season 3.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Lynch "RadCircles" Webber and V.P. Victoria, who are behind the prank that Lee is framed of.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Happens a lot. The Red Taz in particular tends to do this all the time.
  • Black and Nerdy: Both Nadene and Tech Nerd from the Genius club count as this.
    • A certain council member could count as an adult version of this as well.
  • Blackmail: Cam gets caught up in one in Season 3, as do many other students it seems.
  • Bland-Name Product: Cam repeatedly breaks phones at the frustration of not beating "Disgruntled Pigeons".
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Lee tends to be the default redhead in certain power trios (Holger (blond) and Cam/Biffy (brunette)) and love triangles (Brandy/Brad/Jenny (blonds) and Tina (brunette)).
  • Book Dumb: Averted for a high school-age male protagonist. The only bad grade in Lee's report card was a C, and that was only for gym. Yet despite this, his mom won't let him catch a break.
  • Brainwashed: Almost everyone gets brainwashed at some point, though Cam gets it especially bad. Lee, Biffy and apparently VP Victoria are all immune though.
  • Breaking the Bonds: The Taz always escapes, even when chained down.
  • Brick Joke: Cam's hypnotic state returns in the Season 1 finale, when the trigger words come up coincidentally.
  • Butt-Monkey: It's not just the prankster that wants to get at Lee; 99% of those around him either never listen to him, frustrate him to no end, create unnecessary drama, or all of the above.
  • Cain and Abel: The Serpent and Lee were like this (albeit unknowingly) at first, but when The Serpent (Also known as Li Ping) found out that Lee was his younger brother, he turned against his bosses (mostly because they were the ones who took him from his family in the first place).
  • Camp Straight: Holger.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin':
    • Biffy, sometimes intentionally.
    • Lee in general. Naturally, on the one day Lee wants detention to protect himself, he has a free pass. Even trying to set up the bullies fails to nab the right culprit.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Camillio Martinez, along with wannabe gangster.
  • The Casino: The Hydra, owned by The Serpent. It's also a front for a secret submarine base.
  • Cassandra Truth: Lee, since the beginning of the series.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Although there are hints at the more serious plot, the year-long detention becomes less and less important the more the plot is developed. It doesn't lose its sense of humour, though, unlike some series to undergo this.
  • Character Development: Oh, there is a ton of it! What we start with is stereotypes only for the characters to end up far from those stereotypes.
  • City of Adventure: This portrayal of Toronto is as adventure filled as A. Nigma High is.
  • City with No Name: Though the seting is meant to be a fictionalized Toronto, it wasn't mentioned on-screen. When the show's run in Australia implied it took place in the US, co-creator Charles Johnston considered naming the city Ottington.
  • Clear My Name: The premise of the show, at least at first.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: At first, Brandy acted like this toward Tina, not even letting her and Lee talk. Thankfully, she matures in the later seasons.
  • Cloning Blues: A couple of episodes imply that Lee is in fact a clone, specifically of the Serpent, which Lee struggles to deal with. He's not a clone of the Serpent, he's his brother.
    • The majority of the school's teachers learned that they were clones upon waking up in their stasis chambers, most of whom are the most recent of the long series based on historical figures; the sole exception being Mrs. Ping who is just the first. To make matters worse, they came to this conclusion when the feeding apparatus kept them sustained malfunctioned and they would not last long without it.
  • Color Motif: Red Is Heroic, blue was heroic in the past but is currently controlled in some way to serve the villains' ends, a leash that can be loosened under certain circumstances.
  • Cool Key: The octagon-shaped key that Lee uses to access the underground tunnels. Season 3 reveals that it's one of two keys that are meant to unlock the pyramid beneath the school.
  • Cool Loser: Lee's pretty much the only one at A. Nigma who could care less about fitting into a clique, favors his own individuality, and whose love interest isn't an obviously unpleasant Alpha Bitch.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Cassandra McAdams, in addition to being a member of the council, is the CEO of Mann, Wurst, and Finnwich.
    Cassandra: I'm controlling him [Barrage] with my phone, the stock market with my investments, the politicians with threats, your food supply with what's going to be the hottest new ranch flavor.
  • Crack Pairing: A rare in-universe example. See Shipper on Deck for details. Victoria practically weaponizes this. Several of these pairings seem to happen on their own.
  • Crowd Chant: Parodied in the episode “Fence-O-Palooza”, where it's ridiculously easy to get the crowd to chant what you want. Well, up to a point.
    Chaz: You know what I say to that? Down with Prez!
    Crowd: Down with Prez! Down with Prez!
    Cam: People! I'll fix this, gimme a sec! No “down with Prez”... Up with Prez!
    Crowd: Up with Prez! Up with Prez!
    Crowd: We'll chant anything! We'll chant anything!
    Chaz: Yeah! Chaz is great! Chaz is g...
    Crowd: ...
    Chaz: Really? C'mon...
  • Cyborg: The new principal is this. The reason for it is completely unknown. The Amazing Finnwich is a Steampunk version from the neck down.
  • Darker and Edgier: The third season seems to be a bit darker than the previous two. More so in the fourth season with the inclusion of character death.
  • Dean Bitterman: Principal Barrage does everything he can to make Lee's life a living hell and even tries to get him expelled. The funny thing is, they're on the same side. Barrage just doesn't like Lee Ping.
  • Demoted to Extra: This tends to happen to a number of students. For example, Irwin Dexter went from being Lee's initial rival in Season 1 to a sort of Token Evil Teammate or Sitcom Arch-Nemesis in Season 2, and then to extra in Season 3.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: “Get ready for real pain! The painful kind.
  • Dragons Up the Yin Yang: A yin-yang symbol made up of two Tazelwurms (who despite not technically being dragons do look pretty similar) can be found throughout the later seasons, such as on the back of the book and on the pendant the Serpent wears.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Biffy manages to pull this off despite his arms being bigger then quite a few adults' entire bodies.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Principal Barrage.
  • Driving Question
    • Season 1-2: Who framed Lee?
    • Season 3-4: Who are the Council and what do they want?
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: You can see some of it in the first episode, such as the DoD having different character designs than the ones they later have, Greta lacking her unibrow, etc.
  • Eating Contest: Holger and Steve have one in “Corndog Day Afternoon” to win Greta's hand. It only results in her being grossed out and leaving.
  • Education Mama: Lee's mom to a T. They even made her his math teacher!
  • The Eeyore: Sal, who we first see working at the Green Apple Splat factory, and then again three seasons later working for the restaurant chain Big Chicken. He is not happy with either of these jobs and does them reluctantly and with a tired monotone.
    Sal: Now if you all come with me we can all watch a wonderful film about your favourite drink. Hooray. [Later] And that's the movie. Wow. Every time I see it I wonder why I get out of bed in the morning.
  • Egg Sitting: The episode “Misadventures in Babysitting", which had some rather unusual student pairs being assigned a robot baby to take care of, some of which included Chaz and Tina, Cam and Holger, and Brandy and Irwin, who actually ended up getting along surprisingly well. Poor Biffy got saddled with twins. Of course, at the end of the episode, we find out that their real purpose is planting bugs in the students' homes as a part of Cassandra's plot, so it seems Holger wasn't really wrong to call them “evil robot babies”.
  • Elaborate Underground Base
  • Elite Mooks: The magnet powered robot things, which first appear near the end of Season 2.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Camillio Esmereldo Martinez.
  • Enhance Button: In “Jock n' Roll High School”, Lee manages to enhance a blurry photo of a hand so much he can see the details on a ring and a scab that let him find out who the hand belongs to.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: Cam doesn't believe that hypnotism exists despite having been hypnotized at Lee's tenth birthday.
  • Everyone Can See It: Lee's crush on Tina, and her attraction to him.
  • Everyone Chasing You: In the episode "Chaz’s Corner", the whole school is after Chaz, as he has the prank footage, and they want either it or the bounty Barrage has put on him. The same thing happens to the Taz when Barrage puts a bounty on him in "All that Taz".
  • Everything's Cuter with Kittens: Biffy's adorable orange kitty, Mr. Rumplekittykat. Actually, make that Mrs. Rumplekittykat.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Rumplekittykat towards Lynch and the Red Taz towards V.P. Victoria.
  • Evil Teacher: Vice Principal Victoria. The rest of the teachers, and Principal Wurst, become this in Season 4.
  • Exact Words: In "The Hydra", The Serpent never actually says that the pyramid keys are in the briefcase, he just implies it and lets Biffy, Cam, and Holger draw that conclusion.
  • Expy: Vice Principal Victoria is basically a slightly more kid-friendly version of Jessica Rabbit.
  • Faceless Goons: The Cleaners. Dressed in white hazmat suits, they literally turn up everywhere. They are later revealed to be a kind of Mecha-Mooks.
  • Fake Defector: Lee and Cam staging a fight so the latter can infiltrate the Down With Lee Club. It doesn't work.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Threatening to cut Holger's fabulous hair? How dare you, Mathletes?! The Serpent also does this.
  • G-Rated Mental Illness: Lynch's contorted smiles, giggles and obsession with knock-knock jokes.
  • Gentle Giant: Biffy. He's Lee's inside-man whenever they're in detention. He's big and muscled, and always gets himself in trouble so he could go to detention, but it actually gives him the free time to do things like knitting sweaters, being Lee's eyes in the sky, and playing with his adorable pet kitten. Granted, his threats to cease being Lee's 'eyes' and show him 'how much of a bully [he] really can be' if he couldn't get DoD back together in Episode 6 are an early indicator that he really can be a strong threat. In later seasons, he acts as the muscle of the group when he tags along with Lee.
  • Genius Ditz: Lynch at first, until the revelation, thanks to which all his ditz moments are suddenly not as funny anymore...
  • Good All Along: Despite initially seeming like the villain when introduced, Barrage had actually been looking into who really set off the prank, and helped expose Vice Principle Victoria's scheme.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: The good guys have a red motif (the Red Taz, Lee’s hair), and the bad guys have a blue one (the blue Tazelwurms, the Serpent’s hair). Additionally, Barrage’s robotic eye is usually red, but turns blue when he is being controlled by the bad guys.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: "His Eminence", a lizard-like humanoid being who is the leader of The Council, which in turn funded the science project that Victoria and Radcircles involved and by the extension, the one behind the prank.
  • Harmless Freezing: Played with. Instead of water, the mooks are armed with ray guns that encase the target in green crystal. Sometimes, the head will be free, but even if the face is covered, freeing them from this prison leaves them with no lasting effects.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The Serpent.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Lee and Biffy, with the occasional Mistaken for Gay moment.
  • Hidden Depths: Biffy seems to have a passion for sewing, even making the costumes for the school play. He also uses awesome hacking skills to help Lee sneak around.
  • Hot Teacher: Well, Victoria, if vice principals can count.
  • How We Got Here: Every episode shows a brief scene from the climax of the episode, ending in a Cliffhanger. The rest of the episode entails the events leading up to those last few minutes.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Mrs. Ping takes personal offence to Blompkins insulting her son.
    Blompkins: Now I see where Mr. Ping gets his bad manner.
    Mrs. Ping: No one says that about my son... except me!
  • Impossible Shadow Puppets: The Emos do some of these when pitching their idea for a school dance theme.
  • Inconvenient Itch: Tina's nose gets itchy in “Pyramid Scheme” while she's trapped in crystal and can't scratch it.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bug: The bugs the Council plants in Season 3 are large enough to fill your palm, flash red, and beep, and several that we see are in completely open and obvious places, and yet nobody seems to notice them.
  • Insane Troll Logic: When Tina asks why a new fence is being built around the school, Barrage claims that it's to “Keep the wolverines out!” When Tina points out that there are no wolverines anywhere near the school, he replies, “See? It’s working already!”
  • In Medias Res: Every episode begins during the climax, usually with protagonist Lee Ping running to get back to detention before the principal realizes he's missing. The episode then cuts back to some time earlier, and we see the events that led to said climax.
  • The Inspector Is Coming: Principal Barrage is inspected twice by the school board. The second time, he threatens to cancel the school dance if he fails the inspection.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Chaz and Tina, who are head anchors for the school news show. Chaz is more a subversion on the Intrepid Reporter: he'll try to get the scoop with the minimal amount of work possible. He only really cares about being on camera.
  • Irony: As the series goes on, it's readily more apparent that Lee's also breaking rules himself in order to prove his innocence. Even he can't help but lampshade it about five episodes in.
  • It Was All Just A Dream: Lee's explanation for the events in Episode 7. It turns out that not all of it was, and the school really does have an elaborate system of high-tech tunnels beneath it.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: Poor Lee has a lot of trouble with this trope, with rooms constantly being cleared out just before he gets to show someone or before he has a chance to really poke around.
  • Jerkass: Principal Barrage. RadCircles also comes off as one.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Biffy. Camillio also has shades of this, in that while he does exploit Lee's newfound popularity to boost his own, he is able to set some of his priorities straight and help Lee gather valuable information for his investigation when needed.
  • Jive Turkey: Lynch. This foreshadowing of him being Older Than He Looks, though no one questions him being a high school student.
  • Keet: Both Camillio and Holger, the latter probably more so.
  • Left Hanging: While the first two seasons nicely wrap up the story, the storylines for the next two seasons are not quite as self-contained.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Tina and Jenny respectively.
  • Limited Wardrobe
  • Living Battery: It's unclear what exactly he did, but in Season 3, Biffy somehow manages to bypass the new detention room's block on cell phones by putting a hat made of some sort of metal and wires onto the sleeping teacher and power his phone from that.
  • Love Dodecahedron: As expected in a high-school Dramedy, partly influenced by Lee's actions in the Prank investigation and the mind control experiments orchestrated by Vice Principal Victoria and Lynch.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: The Serpent reveals himself to be Lee's brother.
  • Magic Music: The Prank Song, which played during the prank on the first day, is a mind-control device that mysteriously leaves Lee and some others immune. It seems to be a genetic thing.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Turns out that the Council is behind VP Victoria and Lynch’s experiments in seasons one and two.
  • Meaningful Echo: In "RadCircles"'s first appearance, he says, "I know everything. I know, it's scary." Biffy said the same thing in Episode 3. Turns out it's a Red Herring, and RadCircles is actually Lynch.
  • Meaningful Background Event: An audible example: in the school-centered episodes, there are a few P.A. announcements calling several students to go to Room 113 B. The Season 2 finale reveals that the students are sent to the janitor's closet where they're subjected to mind-control reinforcement via the Prank Song.
  • Meaningful Name: Lee's surname means "peaceful" or "level" in Chinese, which makes good sense for his character.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The Cleaners turn out to be these. Finnwich and the Council also have their own versions. Confusingly, some people are shown wearing suits that make them look exactly the same, however, they are Color-Coded for Your Convenience.
  • Mega-Corp: Mann, Wurst and Finnwich, whose symbol appears on nearly everything.
  • Mid-Season Twist: For the first five-or-so episodes, the story just looks like an abnormal Teen Drama series. The seventh episode demolishes that view on the series as Lee makes some important discoveries (the underground tunnels hiding the brainwashing laboratory). And even the episode's B plot is beyond weird, though it reveals more about Barrage's past.
  • Mind-Control Conspiracy: Most of early seasons have the whole school being a test for this.
  • Mind-Control Music: The Prank Song. It's part of a top secret project to brainwash people into acting against their character. Some people, like Lee, just happen to be immune to its effects.
    • Magic Music: The latter episodes of Season 4 takes it up to eleven by making the song the first song in existence and was used by Finnwich to bring back a Only Mostly Dead Lynch.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The school is run by a Cyborg Drill Sergeant Eyepatched badass Principal.
    • Holger also has problems with this, though it's only really seen in the earlier episodes when he'd accidentally yell something while on a spy mission. This usually ends with him running away from whoever he was meant to be spying on while berating himself for forgetting to whisper.
  • Morality Pet: Sometimes Holger has acted as one to Carmillo, like when he was about to cheat on a test, or borrow the money from Barrage's wallet that they found.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The green apple splat factory has a few unguarded, unprotected controls that when pushed can cause explosion that that not only kills any still inside the factory, but also contaminates the land around it for years. Is a soft drink really that hard to make? Okay, so it's partially for a evil mind control scheme, but that doesn't mean there can't be basic safety protocols. Then there's A. Nigma High keeping a dangerous animal as a school mascot...
  • Not Brainwashed: Vice-principal Victoria, the resident reasonable authority figure, has just been informed about the evil plot and is working to stop it, when she is brainwashed into forgetting everything she had learned. It turns out that she was acting, and was never brainwashed due to being the Big Bad all along.
  • Not My Driver: In the first episode of Season 3, Lee gets in a taxi that's supposed to take him to the airport. Luckily, he notices when they take a wrong turn, and when the driver's revealed to be a Hazmat, he manages to escape.
  • Odd Friendship: Lee and Biffy formed one. Later on, Biffy and Holger did the same.
  • Official Couple: Lee and Tina.
  • Older Than He Looks: Lynch is hinted to be this early on. When Lee looks in his dropped wallet, his birth certificate says he was born in 1934 and was the president of the Green Apple Splat company. Lee just assumes it belongs to his father. However, it was confirmed in "Fence-o-palooza" to be Lynch himself, with his youthful looks being a result of magic and plastic surgery.
  • The Omniscient: Biffy reveals that he's this to Lee. "I know everything! I know, it's actually pretty scary sometimes." RadCircles also has elements of this, even saying the exact same phrase as Biffy.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: Introduced in the Season 2 finale. Lee spends Season 3 identifying them all.
  • Only Sane Man: Lee's probably the most collected teenager in the show. Tina has played this role several times as well.
  • Opening a Can of Clones: Most of the teachers at A. Nigma High are clones, as hinted by some of them resembling famous historical figures.
  • Orphaned Punchline: A few, such as Cam's “And I was all: 'No way, hombre! That piñata is a toilet!'” and Brad's “...And that's why I always stretch before I eat yogurt.”
  • Our Cryptids Are More Mysterious: The Tatzelwurm.
  • Pair the Spares: Subverted. In the last minute or two of the series finale, Holger gets sad when he realizes everyone has someone but him. Cue Jenny, the only other single person in the room, giving him permission to hug her. Turns out Holg actually wanted to give Mrs. Ping a hug.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Most of Holger's attempts to disguise himself fall under this. Then there's Lee's "El Beardo" disguise. Then there's that one time the kids try to disguise the Red Taz as a little girl...
    • Notably, every time a character tries this, the realistic outcome happens and the plan backfires spectacularly.
  • Perfumigation: Holger literally bathed in cologne as preparation for a party. The fumes melted a rubber duck on a shelf and everyone complained about him the rest of the night.
  • Pet the Dog: Principal Barrage going back for the students left behind in Episode 10, and again in Episode 27 where he sacrifices himself to save Lee and Tina.
  • Planet of Hats: The entire school has the typical cliques, but segregated and even more one-dimensional than usual.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Episode 6 has the Dudes of Darkness break up, partially instigated by Lee. By the end of the day, of course, the band is back together.
  • Pop-Up Trivia
  • Post-Kiss Catatonia: Happens to Cam after Brandy gives him his first kiss.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The Green Hazmats are this since they are people in suits and not robots.
  • Punny Name: The high school is called "A. Nigma High". Sounds like "enigma", as in puzzle. Get it? Also, Camillio refers to Lee, who is quite intelligent, as "Homes," which in context is the same as "home boy," but is pronounced almost the same as "Holmes." And of course, "Lee Ping" is a punny name as well.
  • Pyramid Power: There's a pyramid beneath the school that's covered in glowing symbols and is highly magnetic. It's connected to Lee's Power Tattoo and The Omniscient Council of Vagueness wants to open it.
  • Race Against the Clock: In the episode “Welcome to Factory Island”, where the amount of time the characters have before the factory explodes is cheerfully announced by a chipper computer system. “Quick update: no rush, but it is ten minutes 'till meltdown. Just saying!”
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Biffy loves to knit and play with his kitten.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: At the end of Season 2, Lee Ping gets expelled from school, and his furious mother states that he's going to be transferred to a school in either Alaska or Siberia - whichever one's colder and has more polar bears.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Biffy and Lee respectively, though Lee is the main character.
    • Furthermore, the red and blue color scheme is one of the central symbols in the show, with:
      • Lee Ping and his brother The Serpent having red and blue hair respectively (though for the latter it's just the tip).
      • There's the red good Tazelwurm and the blue evil Tazelwurms.
      • The Pyramid constantly changing color from red to blue.
  • Recycled In Space: The creators have referred to the series in press releases as "24 in high school".
  • Redhead In Green: Lee, Jenny, and VP Victoria all dress like this.
  • Right Behind Me: Lee utters this when he sees that the skaters he was talking to are stunned by the arrival of Barrage.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Episode 25 reveals that Lynch's bedroom wall is covered with many sticky notes saying "KNOCK KNOCK", finally confirming to Lee that Lynch is RadCircles.
  • Rule of Cool: Pretty much sums up why the school would have a cyborg drill sergeant for a principal.
    • Robot butlers for a penthouse party.
    • There's a red lizard/dragon/whatever the heck it is roaming around the school. It's called a Tazelwurm.
  • Sacred First Kiss: To Brandy. A source for much tension later on. In Episode 50, Cam has one. Ironically, it was from Brandy, and in much the same fashion as her first kiss.
  • Sadist Teacher: Principal Barrage. He held Football tryouts that involved bombs and cannons, takes pleasure in physically dragging Lee to Detention, and has mocked him many times for missing out on school events because of detention.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: Holger and Steve get chased by a swarm of bees in “Fight or Flight”.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Council Leader and the remnants of his species appear to have been this.
  • Second Year Protagonist: The show takes place during Lee Ping's sophomore year, and his class gets the spotlight the most out of all the students. The series would have continued into his college years had it not been cancelled.
  • Senior Sleep-Cycle: The old teacher "supervising" detention will not wake up for anything. The world could end around him and he'd still be snoozing. We find out in Season 3 that it was actually cause by him trying to open the pyramid under the school. It can only be opened under specific conditions that he didn't know, and when someone tries to open it at the wrong time, it causes them to go into a sleep-like coma.
  • Shame If Something Happened: Cassandra wants Lee to draw her a map of the underground tunnels. When he refuses, she e-mails him a picture of his mother, in a chair, with the Serpent (the council’s enforcer) holding a sharp blade near her neck. It turns out that Lee’s mother never knew she was in danger, as the picture was taken at a salon, and the Serpent was masquerading as a hair stylist. The same thing happens again later, with the Council threatening to kill Lee’s father at the airport, with the Serpent acting as a sniper on a nearby roof. Nothing happens to either parent, but it is made clear that something could have, just to intimidate Lee.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend:
    • Lee to Brandy. To be fair, the way they "get together" is pretty bizarre, not to mention completely involuntary on Lee's part. By Episode 9, he actively tells people that he has a girlfriend. By Episode 18, the fact that Brandy knows some personal things about him (his eye color, and the fact that in certain lighting it glows hazel, which is a surprise even to Lee, for example) AND has demonstrated some craftiness and genuine want of building their relationship, makes Lee more confused about all this. In the end, though, they revert to being just friends and get romantically involved with other people.
    • Biffy and Kimmie have this reaction, once they resume their childhood friendship in mostly secret.
  • Shipper on Deck: A not-so-benevolent example. The machine that brainwashes the students through their cellphones links two of those students together, creating lots of bizarre couples. As an example, Brad/Tina and Holger/Kimmie (the latter was foiled, because Cam had Holger's cellphone, and thus was getting the order instead, thus getting paired with Kimmie.) When the machine responsible for these often crack pairings is destroyed, most of those couples instantly break up. However, Brad/Tina was hinted at before the device was in place, so perhaps some of the pairings were not so unbelievable after all, along with a couple of other relationships...
    • Many characters ship Lee and Tina.
  • Shout-Out: Lee disguises himself as a football player wearing a visor-equipped helmet in order to scout info at the football tryouts. The scouting info part aside, that does evoke elements from one football story...
    • Misadventures in Babysitting
    • Cyrus' hat is based on Slash's iconic hat.
    • Barrage's floating drones around the school look pretty damn familiar. They're even called "Eyebots".
    • The name of the art teacher is Mrs. Warhola, as a shout out to Andy Warhol.
    • In "Fight or Flight", Jenny calls Mrs. Alice "Riddler on the Roof", making this a double shout out.
    • Cam sure does seem to be crazy about an app called Disgruntled Pigeons.
    • 28 Sneezes Later is a pretty huge one to the horror film 28 Days Later.
    • Tales from Decrypt references quite a few movies from the 70's with similar names.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Lee gives one to Brandy in Episode 3 to avoid getting caught by Barrage. She's then left with Post-Kiss Catatonia because it turned out to be her first kiss. It comes back to bite him in a later episode, when a picture of said kiss is displayed at Brandy's party. Lee then does it to her again in Episode 8 in order to keep her from revealing his identity to Barrage.
  • Smart People Play Chess: In “Mastermind”, Biffy gets beaten by Ruby, a Child Prodigy, and Asian and Nerdy Lee twice each.
  • Speak in Unison: If the Prank Song plays over a cell phone, those under its influence will try to Brainwash those who aren't. They will hold up their phones and say "It's for you... It's for you..." over and over, all at the same time.
  • Sssssnake Talk: When Lee hallucinates the Red Tazelwurm speaking to him in “28 Sneezes Later”, this is how it talks.
  • Status Quo Is God: In the finale of Season 2, after proving himself innocent of the the prank, gaining an ally with Barrage and defeating RadCircles, Lee's back in detention, Barrage is brainwashed to forget the whole thing, and RadCircles is replaced with the Council. About the only thing he's gained is that Tina believes him now.
  • Steampunk: Finnwich's technology including his Mecha-Mooks and himself.
  • Sticky Fingers: Ed the Water Boy, a.k.a. The Thief from Episode 2.
  • Story Arc: Each episode is motivated by some clue found in a previous episode. The goal is to find the school prankster, though it grows to include so much more.
  • Surprise Party: Lee's friends organize one for him in “The Tag Along”. Aside from being forced out into the rain by a fire alarm, it goes pretty well, though Lee is a little too distracted the whole time to really enjoy it.
  • Surveillance Drone: The Eyebots.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Subverted. RadCircles tries this to fake a message to Lee to hide that he is actually the person with him, but since Lee actually particpates in the knock-knock joke for once instead of saying something else like he usually does, it fails.
  • Team Pet: The Tazelwurm, at least for the school. In fact, the Red Tazelwurm seems to be acting as an unofficial Big Good within the series, as it has helped Lee on numerous occassions.
  • Tempting Fate: Cam does this in “Clogspiracy”. He and Lee enter Barrage's old home only to find that the Cleaners have completely cleared it out, prompting him to comment “What's next? The house vanishes?” Cue the entire structure being lifted up and hauled off.
  • This Is Not a Drill: When the tenth graders are touring the Green Apple Splat factory, the tour guide starts explaining how the first meltdown happened, only for the second one to start. It takes some time for everyone to realize it's the real deal.
    Sal: First there was a loud siren. [Siren goes off.] Like that. Then red lights came on. [Red lights come on.] Like that. Then we ran. Like this. [Runs off, then doubles back.] No, seriously, you better run.
  • This Means Warpaint: Greta uses lipstick as face paint just before rescuing Holger in “Double Date”.
  • Title Drop: In Episode 8, "Disco History Times", Principal Barrage refers to Lee as "[his] little seat-warmin' detentionaire".
  • Those Two Guys: Two pairs that just happens to have each party dating the other: Druscilla & McKenzie of the Glamazons and Evan & Trevor of the football team.
  • Toilet Paper Trail: Happens to Greta in “Double Date”, though Holger fixes it.
  • Token Trio: Lee, Cam, and Holder form one. Unusual in that Lee, an east Asian, is the center of the trio.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Tina Kwee, in "Chaz's Corner" (the Season 1 finale), where she defends the right to information against Principal Barrage. Later on, she is interrogated by Barrage and stands up to him. Even later, she's almost brawling with Barrage for control of the security cameras so both can find Chaz Monorainian. The fact that Barrage is a Drill Sergeant Nasty eyepatched badass makes this even more impressive.
  • Total Eclipse of the Plot: During the eclipse is the only time you can open the Pyramid, unless you have a way of replicating it.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Lynch has two: Green Apple Splat and peanuts. Lee is a fan of Sloppy Joes, and his favorite deseert is triple chocolate chunk brownies.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Lee accrues this image of himself after being found guilty for the first-day prank. Brandy exploits this and claims him for herself to further her popularity.
  • Tsundere: Brandy is a Type A while Tina is a Type B.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Every episode has a B plot that's self-contained to the episode. The A plot might have both an investigation portion and its own self-contained plot.
  • Un-person: The Council tends to deal with messes by locking away whoever caused it and then making it so there's no record that they ever existed, like when they cleaned out Barrage's house in Season 3.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Biffy may not be as mean as his reputation as school bully says, but that doesn't mean he doesn't take amusement to Lee's predicaments.
  • We Will Not Use Photoshop in the Future: The plot of Episode 4 is kicked off when someone (the captain of the Mathletes) e-mails an obviously fake photo of Lee picking his nose to the student body. Despite Lee and Biffy clearly seeing through the ruse, nobody else does, despite Lee being asian and the hand being white.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Biffy with Kimmie of the Glamazons. Sometime during Junior High they fell out of their friendship... until the end of Episode 13, where they reconcile. The later episodes show that they're now on friendlier terms with each other, bordering on being playful Friendly rivals in public, and when they're alone, they act even sweeter.
  • Wham Line: Two of them near the end of episode 25. When Lee is hiding from Barrage in Lynch's bedroom, Lee wonders about the high-tech chat equipment near a computer. It has a video clip ready to play, so Lee presses it and...
    Lynch: Knock-knock! You didn't say who's there!
    Lee: What? (Picks up something from Lynch's desk) A voice modifier?
  • What Does She See in Him?: Brad just cannot imagine any reason why Tina would ever choose Lee over him.
  • White Void Room: There are a few in the underground system of labs and tunnels beneath the school. In the episode "28 Sneezes Later", we briefly see the Tazelwurm being held in one.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: In "Pyramid Scheme", Lynch asks why Finnwich didn’t just zap Lee, as “He has an annoying habit of getting in the way”. It's probably because Finnwich isn't really evil.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: Lee uses one in Episodes 6 and 8. Subverted in the latter when everyone but Barrage is able to see through the disguise.
  • World of Snark: Almost everyone says something snarky at some point. It's very common, also, the Snark-to-Snark Combat between characters.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Brad, whose father is a blockbuster movie star, seems to think his life is an action movie (of which he is the star, of course) and act accordingly. There are moments when he's right, but most of the time he just doesn't get that Lee is the protagonist and the series generally has less explosions than action flicks.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Utilized by Brandy, to get Tina out of Lee's life. It involved setting her environmentalist friend up to be noticed by Tina, and so the both of them set out on a date. Her obvious plan was to set her up so that she would spill acid onto Tina's head to dissolve her hair. When Lee stepped in and pushed Tina out of the way, however, it was the date who got his hair dissolved, saying that he didn't want to believe Brandy that Tina was such a shallow person who played him for a fool. Needless to say, it was lose-lose for Lee and Tina's relationship.
  • Yes-Man: Brandy is revealed to be this to Kimmie, the improbably self-absorbed leader of the school Glamazons.
  • Youthful Freckles: Tina Kwee, her younger sister Ruby, Brandy Silver (partially obscured by her Cool Shades), Greta Von Hoffman, and Jenny Jergens all have them. Lee and Cam also had them during their 3rd Grade years when they first became friends. Even Lo Ping, Lee's grandfather, had them as far into his teenage years.


Video Example(s):



Lee Ping has a stress-induced freakout over some of the weird, crazy secrets he's discovered from digging deeper and deeper into the conspiracy. His friend Holger responds the only way he knows how.

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Main / CooldownHug

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