Follow TV Tropes


Western Animation / Dungeons & Dragons

Go To
From left to right: Hank, Eric, Diana, Presto, Sheila, Bobby, and Uni.

Dungeons & Dragons (often referred to by fans as the "D&DC"note  in order to distinguish it from the game) was an animated television series based on the role-playing game. The show was produced by Marvel Productions and broadcast from 1983 to 1985 on Saturday mornings on CBS. The premise had six friends (Hank, Diana, Eric, Presto, Sheila and Bobby) take a ride in an amusement park and suddenly find themselves in a Heroic Fantasy setting simply called The Realm. They are instantly garbed in clothes fitting their character classes and quickly gain a companion in a unicorn foal named Uni. A Mysterious Benefactor, known only as Dungeon Master, gives each of them an enchanted item to help them survive in that world and promises to help them find a way home.

Together, the kids look for a way home... but the malevolent villain, Venger, is determined to hunt down the items they carry as a means of gaining supreme power. Dungeon Master mysteriously appears at seemingly random times, restricting his help to quest assignments and giving advice in the form of cryptic riddles that frustrate the kids to no end.


This cartoon has the distinction of being one of the few Hasbro-related cartoons not owned by Hasbro. Instead, the cartoon is the property of Disney, who acquired the cartoon along with the majority of Marvel Productions' cartoons when they bought Fox Kids in 2001. This is because Hasbro had no ownership of Dungeons and Dragons at the time of production (they were still with TSR, Inc. prior to that company's sale to Wizards of the Coast, a Hasbro subsidiary). This may explain why Hasbro hasn't acknowledged the cartoon much compared to other Hasbro-based cartoons.

For the tabletop game this is based on, see Dungeons & Dragons.


Dungeons & Dragons provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Diana is the principal example. Sheila has her moments, though her being less action-oriented is justified by her magical item being stealth-based, rather than a weapon.
  • After the End: When the kids arrive in the Realm, Venger has already ruled it for the better part of a millennium, leaving only small villages and a handful of fortified cities separated by miles of wilderness and wasteland.
  • The Alcatraz: The Prison of Agony.
  • Alien Sky: The Realm has four suns and three moons.
    • In the (never-produced) finale, the lizardmen get to return to their own world, which is a lush jungle realm with three red suns in its sky.
      • We also would have been treated to the view of the sky off the edge of the world.
    • A fairly common feature of the sky is floating islands.
  • Alliterative Title
  • All-Powerful Bystander: The Dungeon Master, who has access to items that can easily overpower and thwart Venger, can teleport anywhere, is nearly all knowing, incredibly powerful, and yet won't lift a finger to help the kids or anyone else out beyond cryptic clues.
    • Seeing that Venger serves a Greater-Scope Villain that nearly killed Dungeon Master effortlessly, it may be that he is forbidden from interfering directly, lest Venger's boss decide to take a much more active role in subjugating The Realm.
    • One episode outright states that Dungeon Master seeks Venger's redemption (think how much good a powerful entity such as he could do for the land!) not Venger's destruction, and the episode makes it clear that Dungeon Master is not in a position to guide Venger towards redemption but must rely entirely upon the teenaged heroes to bring Venger around.
  • Amusing Alien: Uni.
  • Anachronism Stew: Presto's spells from the Hat of the Magician tend to conjure up items that would be unfamiliar in a fantasy world, but familiar to someone from circa 1980's Earth, such as a stop sign, a Frisbee, a spray gun full of weed killer, a corded telephone, a gas mask, an electric fan, an electric blanket, a road map of Pittsburgh, sticks of dynamite, and a fire extinguisher. Presto conjures up a whole pile of modern junk in "The Dungeon At The Heart Of Dawn".
  • And I Must Scream: Venger imprisons Kelek in a magical sphere beneath the earth, presumably conscious forever. Also, Dekion's curse.
    • It looked like Kelek got hit with a First Edition imprisonment spell, which means he's in suspended animation. So good for him.
  • Animesque: Though most of the original character designs were done by Marvel, the actual animation for the series was done by Toei Animation. It shows.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Due to the below-mentioned handbook, and the open-ended nature of the cartoon's finale, they effectively have an endless series of adventures they could go on, and, more than likely, the fanbase have done entire year-long campaigns where they have explored much more of the world than Venger's small kingdom, with the party expanded and changed with the in-game years that they've been adventuring.
  • Artifact of Attraction: The Stone of Astra which is an incredibly powerful magical weapon, but which is at least heavily implied to be cursed into causing everyone who sees it to want it for themselves.
  • Ascended Extra: The entire series and all the characters, as a special D&D handbook came with the boxed DVD set that gives 3rd edition stats to the children, Venger and all of the weapons and equipment, along with other show-only aspects, effectively making the cartoon an official part of the D&D game. The kids are, however, far more powerful in the book than they appear to be in the series. Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you think that they likely have had several experiences SINCE the cartoon.
    • One episode featured a powerful mook of Venger, namely Lolth the Demon Queen of Spiders (as she is named by Venger). She is much less impressive in this incarnation than she appears in the Forgotten Realms series.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Eric — who else? — gets turned into a bogbeast.
    • Several minor characters also suffer this fate. Sir Lawrence is turned into a dorky-looking creature in "Garden of Zinn" (and the same spell backfires on Zinn in the end) and the spellbinder Lukion has become a swamp creature made out of moss and goo in "Prison Without Walls".
  • Barbarian Hero: Bobby
  • Bare Your Midriff: Diana while wearing her Fur Bikini.
  • Barrier Maiden: Varla is both this and a Reality Warper.
  • Barrier Warrior: Eric's power is centered on his powerful knightly shield.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: When Presto's hat works at all, it tends to produce what he asks for, but not what he really wants. (Like conjuring a cannon but no cannonball.) Although half the time, the result ends up being useful after all.
    • In one case, he tells the hat to send an attacking orc "on a trip," and the orc is promptly dressed in Bermuda shorts and a flowered shirt, wielding a ukulele. Embarrassed, it flees.
    • Probably his most successful hat pull that couldn't be used for anything was an actual full-sized battleship, but only using it as a wall.
  • Berserk Button: Bobby is already the most impulsive member of the gang by far, but if Uni's threatened he tends to charge into the fray no matter WHAT the odds. Also, if someone so much looks cross-eyed at his older sister Sheila, they will get the literal "combat munchkin" charging at them.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Almost gets Venger killed when he pushes the kids too far in "The Dragon's Graveyard".
  • Big Bad: Venger. Several other villains appear, but they tend to be associated with Venger (aside from Tiamat, who is his one unconquerable foe).
  • Bigger on the Inside: Several of the mystical locations they encounter, such as the Tower of the Celestial Knights.
  • Blind Without 'Em: That is Presto the Magician's major physical problem.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: All six fall into this category. Hank (flaxen) and Bobby (honey blonde) are both blonde, Diana (dark brown) and Eric (black) are both brunettes, and Shiela (fiery red) and Presto (auburn) are both redheads.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Ramoud from "City On The Edge Of Midnight".
  • Break the Haughty: Eric
  • Butt Monkeys: Eric; Presto when his spells don't work.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Averted. The Animated Series Handbook is explicitly "designed to bridge the gap between the game and the animated series." Further stories unambiguously place the series in the Forgotten Realms setting.
  • Canon Name: The Universe Bible establishes Presto's name as Albert. The comic Forgotten Realms: The Grand Tour establishes Presto prefers to be called Preston.
  • Canon Welding: The series shares aspects of the Forgotten Realms setting (which was first created a few years after the cartoon), due to the presence of Tiamat, a comic crossover with Elminster, and a mention in Baldur's Gate II. While 'the Realm' is not on the same planet, the tie-ins suggest that getting from one to the other is pretty easy by dimension-traveling standards.
    • And again, with the inclusion of Lolth, this places their adventures in the Realms as well.
  • Character Development: Eric becomes generally less selfish and obnoxious over the course of the series. By "The Winds of Darkness" he's even stepping up to lead the party when Hank's not available, and the only one who doesn't think about giving up after the Darkling takes Hank.
  • The Chessmaster: The Dungeon Master hardly ever acts directly, for unrevealed reasons. He tends to offer just enough guidance to keep the heroes headed in the right direction, and relies on them to use their own brains and judgement.
  • Commander Contrarian: Eric again.
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong: The reason behind Eric's creation, dictated largely by Executive Meddling — and the reason series co-developer Mark Evanier particularly disliked the character. Subverted in the second season a good number of times, though.
    • The Dungeonmaster declares that the Cavalier is "right" more times than he does of any of the other characters.
  • Cool Big Sis: Diana
    • And Sheila. Hey, she does a really great job looking out for her "combat munchkin" little brother!
  • Crapsack World: At the start of the series, the forces of evil have dominated the Realm for hundreds of years, destroying or imprisoning any forces of good and reducing the the Realm to evil swamps, dark forests, and wastelands with most of its inhabitants living in fear in scattered villages or small towns. Fortunately, the efforts of the heroes slowly breathe new life into dead areas, bring back lost heroes, and vanquish some of the evils terrorizing the land.
  • Cryptic Conversation: Dungeon Master, all the time, to the point where the characters start lampshading it.
    Eric: What would Dungeon Master say...? You will find it, unless it finds you first. It lies a long way off, yet in truth, it is very near! How was that?
    • In one episode, the kids figure out that they're talking to a Dungeon Master impostor, because his answers aren't cryptic enough.
  • Cute Bruisers: Bobby, Diana
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: Uni is exceptionally shrill.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: All too often, a chance to go home is ruined by something like this. One time when they came the closest (they were actually back in the amusement park) Venger managed to follow them. Because fighting him there was impossible (their weapons didn't work in their world, but his magic clearly did) and he was more than willing to do to Earth what he had done to the Realm, they had no choice but to trick him into chasing them back to the Realm. (And ironically, protecting their world and many others from Venger at the cost of their freedom seemed a common theme.)
  • Disappeared Dad: It's hinted in "City At the Edge of Midnight" that Eric is estranged from his father in the real world.
  • Distant Finale:
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: Despite protests, Eric opens a locked box the kids are sent to find, and as a result summons ultimate evil to the Realm. The protests were along the lines of "Oh, hey, didn't DM say not to open it? Well, whatever." Dungeon Master even pointed out that Hank as good as gave Eric permission to do so.
    • Eric makes a similar mistake in "Beauty and the Bogbeast" where he picks an enchanted flower Dungeon Master warned the kids not to touch (sort of). At least this one backfires only on himself. (Although it ultimately causes the kids to return to the Realm after actually making it home.)
  • The Dreaded: Almost everyone in the world is terrified of Venger. Venger, in turn, will turn and flee when Tiamat is nearby. And the Ultimate Evil in "Dungeon At The Heart Of Dawn" scares even the normally-unflappable Dungeon Master.
  • Eldritch Abomination: When Venger's boss shows up.
    • In the script for the unproduced finale, the group must face a giant amoeba that is immune to all of their attacks. The script actually describes it as a "Lovecraftian Horror."
  • Enemy Mine: Venger and the kids team up against a greater threat a couple of times, most notably against Venger's master in "Dungeon at the Heart of Dawn".
    • In "The Dragon's Graveyard", Tiamat is no friend to the kids (she's evil, after all), but she's willing to assist them in their plan to get rid of Venger, since she hates Venger a lot more.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Dungeon Master is known only by his title and, likewise, he almost always addresses the kids by their 'class' titles. (Sheila is the exception; the Dungeon Master refers to her as "child" rather than by her title, presumably due to said title being "thief".) Oddly enough, Venger does the same, but his relationship with the kids is hardly a first-name one.
    • To be exact, Dungeon Master refers to Hank as "Ranger," Eric as "Cavalier," Presto as either "Magician" or "Wizard," and Shiela as "Child." Dungeonmaster calls Bobby by name in "Servant of Evil" though otherwise refers to him as "Barbarian," and calls Diana by name in "Child of the Stargazer" and otherwise never addresses her by her title. Venger and Shadow Demon refer to the kids by their titles.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: In "Treasure of Tardos", Venger uses a gargantuan dragon-demon hybrid to break down the gates to a city, but the beast fights free of his control and threatens to completely destroy the very realm he's trying to conquer.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Venger and Tiamat despise each other. It's implied in at least one episode that the reason he wants the kids' weapons is to use them to fight her.
  • Exact Words: Presto's magic hat can conjure seemingly anything he asks for, but tends to use the laziest interpretation possible of whatever is asked, sometimes to the point of being a Jackass Genie. For instance, when Presto wished for an enemy to be removed from his sight, a bucket was magically conjured to drop onto Presto's head (making it impossible for him to see the enemy).
  • Expository Theme Tune: The spoken voice-over by Dungeon Master dumps more information on the viewer than most actual episodes.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Finding a way to get home permanently, of course.
    • Though despite their constant failure to ever successfully reach home, an episode featuring a girl who has psychic visions confirmed that eventually they will one day succeed in returning.
    • In another episode they actually do make it home, but Venger follows them. The kids find out their weapons don't work in the normal world, and have to ride the roller coaster again to get to a place where they can actually fight Venger.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Hank's energy bow, which would tie up enemies with its arrows instead of killing them. It was only used as an actual weapon against monsters it couldn't hurt.
  • Fan Remake: Someone took the script for the unproduced final episode and turned it into a comic as seen here. Sadly it's only in Portuguese.
    • Someone else actually animated the final episode with recycled scenes of the series and fan animation and voices as seen here.
  • Fanservice: Sheila has a gratuitous Panty Shot when Hank swings her up onto the back of his horse in the first episode, "Night of No Tomorrow". Of course there's Diana's Fur Bikini in every episode.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: Venger and his single head horn.
  • Fastball Special: A three person combo in "The Girl Who Dreamed Tomorrow". Diana catapulted Bobby into the air, and then Eric used the magic of his shield to propel him faster, giving him the momentum to smash the portal.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Transforming his enemies into monsters, putting them into a prison suspended over a volcano, locking them up in other dimensions, turning them into undead slaves... let's just say that Venger is very fond of this trope.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Downplayed. Diana, Bobby, and Uni - and sometimes even Sheila - are pretty caustic about Eric (though he brings it on himself often). Eric doesn't hesitate to dish it back out: but they do have a genuine friendship.
  • Friend or Idol Decision: The gang has faced this dilemma at least three times, when they've had to sacrifice a way home for the greater good.
  • Fully Absorbed Finale: The main cast do eventually return a Brazillian car commercial, of all things.
  • Fur Bikini: Diana's outfit.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • The Dungeon Master is a mysterious character who participates in the story and interacts directly with the rest of the characters. In the tabletop game, the Dungeon Master is not a character within the game. The Dungeon Master sets up the campaign, runs the game, and can play the role of NPCs or monsters.
    • The Beholder in the series shoots lightning from each eye of its tentacles, while in the game, each tentacle has a different ability. In "The Eye Of The Watchman", the comic adaptation of "The Eye Of The Beholder", the Beholder is called a Watchman.
    • Presto does not demonstrate innate magical ability without his hat. In game terms, it is unclear if Presto is a true Magician or someone with high Intelligence and a Use Magic Device Skill.
    • The Animated Series Handbook describes the Energy Bow as capable of radiating light and firing magic arrows, but does not have rules for its ability to create energy ropes and constructs such as ladders and bridges.
    • The Animated Series Handbook describes Presto's Hat of Many Spells as a hat that creates necessary spell components for spells, can cast prepared spells as if cast from a spell book, and casts from a list of pre-written spells selected at random from a dice roll using the same rules as a Rod of Wonder. The provided table of random effects does not list the same effects as seen in the series, thus the spell table will have to be edited manually. In the series, Presto's spells are cast from Presto's Hat of the Magician, ignoring the typical requirement of spell components and spell preparation in favor of a rhyming incantation. The objects conjured from the hat do not have to be spell components. The conjured spells and objects are not entirely random, as they have some situational context and are typically relevant to the caster's desire for the spell to be helpful in the situation, though the conjured objects can be unexpected, unhelpful, or out of place.
  • Genre Blind: The villain of the "Valley of the Unicorns" episode evidently didn't check for a Cave Behind The Waterfall made of rainbows, which (shock of all shocks) is the entryway to said valley. He ends up having to be led there by trailing the heroes.
  • Giant Flyer: In "Day of the Dungeon Master", Eric summons a roc to serve the gang as "Bird-brain Airlines" — not entirely successfully.
  • God for a Day: "Day of the Dungeon Master," Eric the Cavalier is given the practically limitless power of the Dungeon Master. He screws up a lot by being rather pompous, but he actually ends up becoming very sagelike himself. He even gets the capability to send everyone back to the real world, but they stay because it would require him being left behind on his own.
  • Great Big Book of Everything: The Golden Grimoire and, in the "choose your own adventure" books, Witch Agnes's Spellbook.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: In one episode we find out about Venger's boss, The Nameless One, a being so powerful and evil he destroys worlds. The kids only survive because he got bored and left to destroy some other world while they were taking refuge in the Underworld.
  • I Choose to Stay: In the script for the last episode, the kids are offered the choice to stay in the Realm to fight evil, though it's left open-ended as to what they decided.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: At the climax of "The Dragon's Graveyard", Hank is ready to bring the group's plan to "get rid of Venger once and for all" to fruition, but relents at the last moment when he realizes that finishing off his helpless foe—or worse—is what Venger would have done.
  • I Have Your Wife: "The Traitor": Bobby is held prisoner by Venger, and Hank is ordered to secretly help the villain or the boy dies.
  • Imagination Based Super Power: Hank the Ranger's energy bow can be simply a weapon, but has many other uses.
  • Improvised Weapon: In order to avoid retaliation from the Media Watchdogs, Hank's energy bow and Bobby's megaton club could only be used directly against enemies who'd either shrug off the attack or were guaranteed to deflect it. In order to deal with the lesser Mooks, they use their weapons in creative indirect ways. Bobby scares enemies off by knocking down trees near them or creating shockwaves. Hank has been seen to use his arrows to ensnare groups of enemies, clip the wings of giant wasps, or fuse the legs of an iron giant together to trip him up.
    • The stuff that comes out of Presto's hat usually counts, since it never produces conventional weapons. Examples are a fire-hose against a lava dragon, an electric fan against a swarm of giant insects, and a collection of marbles to send approaching enemies to the floor. Although in the game, marbles are a standard weapon, and expected to be used this way.
  • In Name Only: It was a decent cartoon, but aside from a general fantasy theme and a few borrowed classes/monsters, it wasn't much like the tabletop game. To name one difference, "casting" the Dungeon Master as a combination of Yoda and a Literal Genie undoubtedly led certain inexperienced game referees to produce a few terrible role-playing sessions. Of course, this same independence from the source material also gave the writers some much-needed creative freedom.
  • Invisibility Cloak: The "weapon" Dungeon Master gave Sheila. It gets a lot of use, partly because there are legitimately many applications, and partly because it's the only item that means less, not more, animation. Being a nonviolent stealth-based item, rather than an offensive weapon, also probably had something to do with it.
  • Isekai: An early, non-anime example.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Eric the Cavalier is egotistical, prickly, and cowardly a lot of the time, but in a crunch, he is as heroic as the rest (if not even more) and eventually improves over the series.
    • The people behind the scenes didn't seem to think kids would notice his good qualities. There was a line of tie-in "choose your own adventure" style books where the reader gets to control each of the kids, but in one you play Eric's brother Michael rather than Eric himself. Presumably because they figured nobody would want to play him.
    • Really shines through in "City On The Edge of Midnight." When the kids find the portal leads to the dimension imprisoning Rhamuud's daughter (and several other kids), he's actually gung-ho about going in there and taking down the big bad.
    • The Fan Fic for the series not only notices but also amps up the heart of gold part and exploits the gamer's maxim of "never trust a smiling Dungeon Master."
  • Just Friends: Unlike Bobby (Terri), Diana (Josef and Kosar) and Presto (Varla), Hank and Sheila never get a real romantic interest in any of the episodes. The character profiles on the DVD suggests there's a quiet sense of affection between the two. Nothing official ever develops between them on screen, though.
    • The series bible, written by Mark Evanier, indicates that Sheila would "probably" like to be Hank's "steady," but that the kids' current predicament keeps her from acting on her feelings. Evanier's wording gives the impression that he was instructing the writers to play with the idea of Hank and Sheila together if they wanted to, but not to feel it was necessary. There are plenty of scenes that seem to indicate that the two have strong feelings for each other.
  • Kick the Dog: Venger does this in "The Dragon's Graveyard" by fatally injuring Uni. Not a smart move since it only makes the kids more determined to kill him off for real.
  • Kid Hero All Grown Up: In the comic Forgotten Realms: The Grand Tour, the party has reached adulthood when they contact Elminster. Uni is absent, and the party appears to have different totems.
  • King Incognito: The heroes once met a traveling merchant looking for his missing daughter. In the end, the Dungeon Master revealed the "Merchant" was actually a King going Incognito to make the search easier.
  • Lame Rhyme Dodge:
    Eric: Stupid unicorn.
    Bobby: WHAT DID YOU SAY?!!
    Eric: I said "I love my uniform."
  • Lap Pillow: Sheila does this for several characters through the course of the series, probably as part of her Team Mom duties. Notable examples include Terry in "The Girl Who Dreamed Tomorrow", and Presto in "The Last Illusion."
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Bobby's tendency to do this is one of the main causes for Sheila's worry.
  • Lightbulb Joke: While trying to do a stand-up show, Eric asks how many dwarves are needed to change a light bulb. The answer is none because the dwarves can't reach the light bulb.
  • Light Is Not Good: In "The Last Illusion", Venger forces Varla to disguise him and Nightmare as a heroic Greek warrior dressed in gold and white armor on a flying white horse to save a village from burning. Once he does, being the Manipulative Bastard that he is, he deceives the villagers into thinking the heroes are evil wizards and witches.
  • Literal Genie: Presto's magic hat, while not an actual character, is at times an example of this trope. A wish to make an orc "vanish from my sight" immediately causes a bucket to materialize over Presto's head. A wish to return horns to a group of hornless unicorns glues car horns to their heads. And a wish to have something to stop a charging golem produces a stop sign.
  • Living Shadow: Venger's servant, the Shadow Demon.
  • Load-Bearing Hero: Eric uses his shield to do this when a rock slide comes down on the characters in "Valley of the Unicorns".
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Eric is hinted to have been this in the real world—most notably when he comments that Ramoud in "City on the Edge of Midnight" (who they have known for one day) is "better than my dad ever was."
  • Lovable Coward: Eric's usual response to danger is to run away and hide. The one time he declared "Everybody get behind my shield!", his compatriots afterward expressed surprise that he'd actually grown a backbone for a second or two. He got the Golden Grimoire book and was willing to pull a Heroic Sacrifice to send the gang back home.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: A later episode reveals to the audience that Dungeon Master is Venger's father. This trope is handled subtly: they knew it all along, but the kids never find out.
    • In the script of the unproduced final episode, the kids find out as Venger is turned back into his former self and Dungeon Master acknowledges their relation.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: On two occasions, DM states he cannot undo something due to magical incompatibility. The first when Eric is turned into a Bog Beast, and DM says it was not his magic that made the curse, so he can't undo it. The second is when Bobby is poisoned by a dragon, and DM states his magic cannot undo a natural cause, and they must find a natural cure. Of course, in both cases, he may have been lying to achieve his own goals.
  • Magical Land
  • Magitek: Presto has been known to pull cannons, tanks, and even an aircraft carrier out of his hat.
    • Also the episode where the gang has to rescue a group of alien kids whose spaceship crashed into the Realms.
  • Make Wrong What Once Went Right: Venger's plan in "The Time Lost".
  • Manipulative Bastard: Venger is always this to heroes on their journey, playing on their desire to go home or empathy with others. One example is in "The Last Illusion", where he manipulates villagers into killing the gang.
  • Master of Disguise: Venger
  • The Maze: "The Girl Who Dreamed Tomorrow"
  • Meaningful Name: The gang's roles tend to match their personality. Eric is definitely cavalier.
  • Merchandise-Driven: The cartoon was greatly criticized during its run both for its violence and for being this. At least three characters, Kelek, Strongheart, and Warduke (with accompanying Nightmarenote ), had appeared as action figures and then as non-player characters for the game shortly before they appeared on the cartoon. Tiamat would appear as one in the cartoon's second year.
  • Mooks: Venger's orc soldiers.
  • Mordor: The wasteland around Venger's various fortresses.
  • Mythology Gag: The series is full of shout-outs to the tabletop RPG it draws its inspiration from.
    • Lukion is recognizable as a "Shambling Mound", an animate mass of swamp-plants loosely inspired by Swamp Thing and Man-Thing. The episode featuring him, "Prison Without Walls," was written by Steve Gerber, creator of Man-Thing.
    • Bullywugs are low-level swamp-dwelling evil mooks, essentially goblins that look like humanoid frogs.
    • The green-skinned, vaguely porcine appearance of the orcs is actually how they were rendered in D&D at this time; they didn't begin moving to their more simian-esque Frazetta Man look until towards the end of 2nd edition, and it didn't become standard until 3rd.
    • Tiamat is the five-headed Goddess of Chromatic Dragons from the game.
    • Lolth, Demon Queen of Spiders, actually appears in one episode and is referred to by name.
    • A pair of Gold Dragons, one of the few species of good dragons, appear in one episode.
    • At the end of "Valley of the Unicorns", Venger finishes off Kelek with an imprisonment spell from the 1e Players Handbook.
    • Hector the Halfling's ability to disappear and reappear indicated to astute watchers that he wasn't what he seemed, since halflings are explicitly non-magical in the 1e AD&D rules.
  • Nerd Glasses: Presto wears them, and it would be a major problem if he lost them.
  • Never Say "Die":
    • As befits a High Fantasy villain, Venger is prone to flowery euphemisms. For instance, he declares that Terri "shall dream no more."
    • When the kids plot to kill Venger in "Dragon's Graveyard", Hank speaks of "get[ting] rid of him once and for all".
    • "Dragon's Graveyard" uses an aversion of the trope to clarify the rule. Dungeon Master does explicitly identify the graveyard as the place dragons go to die, thereby establishing that euphemisms are only required when a character proposes to kill someone, as opposed to the subject passively expiring from nonviolent causes.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Tiamat the dragon queen. All the young heroes can do is defend themselves and run from her.
  • No Swastikas: One episode featured Venger messing with a time portal to our world, hoping to erase the kids from history by arming a Nazi fighter pilot with a futuristic jet fighter. Luckily for the kids, the pilot was a Turncoat who loathed Hitler's regime (and hit it off with Diana, too). More to the point, the tell-tale armband that he tries to ditch lost the swastika it bore in the story-boards and turned into a Balkankreuz. (It even has a red circle on a white background, no less! Which Axis power did he fly for, again?)
  • One-Winged Angel: Venger pulls this in "The Girl Who Dreamed Tomorrow".
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Presto, the wizard of the group, is never addressed by his real name.
  • Ontological Mystery
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Sir John in "Eye of the Beholder" has the worst English accent since Dick Van Dyke, while Josef Müller in "The Time Lost" cannot properly pronounce even his own German name.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: A fairly common feature of the show, naturally. The five-headed Tiamat was a semi-regular, but the game's evil chromatic and good metallic dragons showed up as well: blue dragons in "Eye of the Beholder" and "The Time-Lost", a red dragon in "Day of the Dungeon Master," gold dragons in "P-R-E-S-T-O Spells Disaster," and a bronze dragon in the unproduced "Requiem." There was also the hybrid Demodragon, half-demon, half-dragon, in "The Treasure of Tardos."
  • Panty Shot: Sheila gets a brief but blatant one in the first episode alone.
  • Passionate Sports Girl: In our world, Diana is a gym practitioner.
  • Perpetual Poverty: The children themselves never have much, if any, money, because of their ceaseless wandering and their goal being to escape the Realms rather than to acquire wealth. As a result, they depend on hunting, foraging and Presto's magic to provide food.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Bobby, although it's likely his strength comes from his club. (The tie-in D&D book The Animated Series Handbook implies it's a bit of both - he's unusually strong to begin with, but the club enhances it further to superhuman levels).
  • Portal Network: The gem-studded valley in 'Prison Without Walls' turns out to be a deactivated one. In a larger sense, 'the Realm' has connections to a number of other worlds... though understandably the heroes are only principally concerned with connections to Earth.
  • A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Venger's origin; he was the Dungeon Master's pupil, long ago, but became corrupt and evil.
  • The Quest: For the kids, trying to find a way home. For the Dungeon Master, trying to save his son.
  • Rage Against the Mentor: One plot has the heroes, tired of the status quo, both setting out to finish Venger once and for all and demanding (and getting!) some straight answers from Dungeon Master, rather than his usual convoluted riddles.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The kids.
  • Reality Warper: Varla the Illusionist
  • Recursive Canon: The show starts with the kids going on a D&D-themed ride at a theme park, suggesting the D&D games exist in their world. They are then sucked into the real world of Dungeons and Dragons. Incidentally, they don't seem to know anything about the D&D world, despite apparently having recognized the ride's theme.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Venger
  • The Resolution Will Not Be Televised: The show was cancelled before the final episode was made. A script of it does exist and has been available from the writer's site. Ultimately the show was partly completed as the final episode was performed and released on the American DVD set as a radio play with Sheila's voice actress even reprising her role.
  • Ret-Canon: Cavaliers, acrobats, and barbarians were not classes in the original Dungeons & Dragons Tabletop RPG; they appeared in the show first and were added to the game shortly afterwards in Unearthed Arcana. note 
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: Presto
  • Role-Playing Game Verse: The original TV one!
  • Rummage Fail: Presto's magic hat.
  • Run or Die: The gang spends almost as much time running away as that other gang of meddling kids, and with much better reason.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Diana is a teenage version of this.
  • Savage Wolves: Minions for Kelek in "Valley of Unicorns"
  • Scenery Porn: Whoever painted the backgrounds created a Realm that was beautiful and alien and dangerous all at once.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Karena; the Balefire.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: Zandora.
    • Also, what had been done to the good elements of Venger in his backstory, only revealed in the unproduced finale.
  • Series Goal: Escape from The Realm and return to their own world. In the never-produced finale, the kids are offered a choice of either returning home or staying in The Realm to have more adventures.
  • She-Fu: Diana the Acrobat, who is a medal-winning gymnastics practitioner in the real world.
  • Shout-Out: To Star Wars with a few in-character jokes by the kids, presumably to show that they're from our world and our time (well, the 80s, anyway). As if having a show based on D&D wasn't nerdy enough.
    • The episode 'Prison Without Walls', written by Steve Gerber, featured a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo of his earlier Marvel Comics character Man-Thing.
    • Also received a Shout-Out from Nodwick, in a strip in which Yeagar, having "defeated Tiamat," goes on to rescue Sheila and Diana from Venger, as Bobby, Eric, and Hank look on.
    • And portraits in Baldur's Gate, where they were assumed to have been killed by Tiamat. Nice one, BioWare.
    • In "Cave of the Fairy Dragons", when confronted with giant ants, Bobby yells out, "It's Them!." The ant noises even sound like those from the classic film.
    • In "The Skeleton Warrior", Presto starts a spell by calling out "Sim sim sala...".
    • "The Hall of Bones" begins with our heroes being menaced by flying monkeys.
  • Shrinking Violet: Sheila (who even wears violet clothes) is a bit shy, and panics horribly at the prospect of being completely alone.
  • Single Tear: The animators loved using this with Sheila. Once it was used for a curse breaking effect in "The Garden of Zinn." They also use the Single Tear with her in the episode "City on the Edge of Midnight," when Rahmoud gives Sheila a doll belonging to his own missing daughter. Also used with Solinara in "The Treasure of Tardos".
  • Sleep Cute: Hank and Sheila are frequently seen in this position in the background of scenes of the group relaxing.
  • Spot the Impostor: Zig-Zagged; Hank correctly spots an impostor Dungeon Master — because he's not talking in riddles — but the one he thinks is real is also an impostor.
  • Standardized Leader: Hank's got a pretty generic personality.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Dungeon Master, all the time. Lampshaded constantly, to the point where both Uni and Eric are constantly trying to figure out how he does it.
  • The Starscream: Kelek was one to Venger, and dangerous enough for Presto to actually contact their enemy about his scheming. (And amazingly, Venger listened.)
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: To some degree, Presto and Varla.
    • Diana and Kosar get it even worse. Not like she and Josef are much better.
  • Swiss Army Tears: Sheila breaks a spell on a cursed king in "The Garden of Zinn" with the Single Tear of gratitude after he helped save her brother.
  • The Team
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Diana is the Tomboy to Sheila's Girly Girl.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Pretty much the whole group, by season 2.
  • Trapped in Another World: It's hinted through the series and confirmed in the unaired finale that everyone in the Realm is Trapped in Another World, or the descendants of those who were. In "Prison of Agony", the heroes meet a giant who's worse off then they are; not only is he unable to go home, he's being blackmailed into working for Venger, who threatened to destroy his homeworld.
  • Trickster Mentor: Dungeon Master is constantly providing partial or deliberately confusing information.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Diana the Acrobat, being both black and female.
  • Two-Faced: The queen of the city of Torad in "Child of the Stargazer" appears human at first until she removes the hood that obscures the left side of her face. It is then revealed she is half demon (in a more literal sense than usual).
  • Ultimate Evil: The Nameless One, boss of Venger, is a hugely powerful and evil being that destroys worlds just because he feels like it. Its body is permanently wrapped up in a massive tornado that reaches the clouds, and its real aspect is never shown. You can only see its glowing eyes.
  • Villain Ball: In at least one instance, just letting the kids go home would have both rid Venger of their perennial interference and left him free to grab their magic weapons and a very powerful grimoire. This was apparently not evil enough for him.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Eric and Lorne in "Odyssey of the Twelfth Talisman".
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The kids defeat a beholder and Demodragon... with a flower.
  • Weirdness Search and Rescue: Dungeon Master pops in Once an Episode to dispense advice to the characters lost from our world.
  • Wham Episode: "The Dragon's Graveyard." The kids are frustrated with Venger destroying every chance they have of reaching home, and decide they need to stop him once and for all. By getting Tiamat to help them.
  • Who Dares??: Disturbing Tiamat's slumber is not something you want to do.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: A whole episode has the kids facing their worst phobias (Sheila finds herself alone, Presto is blinded without his glasses, Diana sees herself aging rapidly, etc.).
    • One may find Diana's fear to be a bit of Fridge Brilliance, when you stop and consider that she's a medal-winning gymnast, who tend to lose their prime before they even get a driver's license.
  • Wise Tree: The Know Trees in "In Search of the Dungeon Master"
  • The Worf Effect: A weird example, but Hank's bow. The only times he ever shoots a monster with it, it does no damage, to show how incredibly tough they are.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: Implied. In one episode, the kids meet a classmate who was kidnapped from his home by the villain. He mentions he saw them just before the weekend started, meaning the kids haven't missed a single school day on earth over the months they spent trapped in the Realm.
  • You Fool!: The Catchphrase "You fool!" is a favorite of bombastic villains everywhere, and Venger is no exception.
  • You Have Failed Me: Venger's master, The Nameless One, turns on him for failing to achieve complete mastery of The Realm.
    • Venger himself seems to have a less-than-patient attitude towards minions who disappoint him.


Video Example(s):


The Winds of Darkness

Eric finally lets Dungeon Master have it when his vague, cryptic instructions cost them Hank.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / RageAgainstTheMentor

Media sources:

Main / RageAgainstTheMentor