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"I can't wait for the future!"note 

Ego Trip is a Made-for-TV Movie of Dexter's Laboratory, which originally aired on Cartoon Network in 1999 as an hour-long special that would serve as the Grand Finale of the show's first run.

After defeating some robots who came to his lab to "destroy the one who saved the future," Dexter decides to hop in his time machine to go to the future and see how cool he becomes. Unfortunately, when he gets there, he discovers that Mandark's arrogance and greed have led to the downfall of modern civilization. Dexter joins forces with three of his future selves to stop Mandark's reign of terror.

This special contain examples of:

  • Accidental Hero: Dee Dee, of all people, manages to save the Bad Future when she presses the "Positive" switch on the neurotomic protocore, undoing all of Overlord Mandark's plans.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Dexter calls Braindark a "lame brain", and Number 12 can't help but laugh at it even with his terror at being around his former employer.
  • Bad Boss: Executive Mandark, totally. He publicly uses an electric whip on Number 12 for almost being late for work.
  • Bad Future: Played with. Executive Mandark and Overlord Mandark are responsible for taking over the world and turning it into a wasteland full of dumb people, but we are told from the beginning of the movie that the future was saved, and even see the (happy) ending before the Darkest Hour with the kingdom of Dextopia.
  • Bald Head of Toughness: Action Dexter lost his hair and gained some serious muscle during his nonstop digging to escape from Mandark's tower, and he's a stone-cold badass acting as a one-man résistance against his nemesis' tyrannical anti-science reign. The younger Dexters are overjoyed at how cool they grow up to be and share a brief moment of shocked disappointment about losing their hair in the future, but he does have a radical orange beard.
  • Bald of Evil: Overlord Mandark is bald and has taken over the world.
  • "Be Quiet!" Nudge: When Number 12 realizes it's their fault that Mandark got the Neurotomic Protocore and took over the world, Dexter elbows him.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Mandark. And just to drive it home, he still retains his silly "nerd" voice with each increasingly evil incarnation.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Executive Mandark and Overlord Mandark, the ones most directly responsible for the Bad Future. The former is the one who eventually turns the world into a dystopia, and the latter rules it with an iron fist.
  • Big Damn Movie: Well, as big as a 50-minute TV special can get, but the stakes are easily the highest they've ever been for this show: not only does Dexter have to save the world, but his arch nemesis is a legitimate threat this time! It also had a far more expansive scope and more lavish layouts than anything the regular show ever had (a precursor to Genndy Tartakovsky's next show) and a music score performed by a live orchestra.
  • Brain in a Jar: Old Mandark has been reduced to this and stuck in a museum.
  • Brick Joke:
    • During his pep talk to 12, Dexter calls him "A lion! A tiger! A bear!" to which 12 responds "Oh my!" Later, when Executive Mandark pushes his Berserk Button, 12 hulks out, with a lion, a tiger and a bear leaping from his chest, to which Mandark nervously replies "Oh my" before getting his ass handed to him.
    • Dee Dee wandering into the time machine after Dexter accidentally points her to it (He meant to point toward an exit). She ends up arriving in the middle of the climax and does what she does best: push the world saving button out of curiosity.
    • When they first meet Old Man Dexter, he misidentifies 12 as "Billy". At the end, when all the Dexters are saying goodbye to one another (a'la The Waltons), he does it again.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: The Dexters are furious that Dee Dee stole their thunder by reverting the protocore instead of them. Of course Dee Dee just saw a shiny button and pressed it like she normally does. She has no idea why Dexter is sulking at her later on.
  • Call-Back:
    • Old Man Dexter is a callback to a season 1 episode titled, of course, "Old Man Dexter." In the episode, Dexter attempts to age himself so he can watch late night TV, only for Dee Dee to mess up the machine mid-procedure, causing Dexter to age himself to the point of a senile old coot. The film version even has him repeat certain lines from the episode during his introduction ("Who put these stairs here?!" And "Oh, my hip!").
    • Executive Mandark stepping on 12's glasses mirrors a similar shot in the episode "Dexter Dodgeball," where a school bully does the same to Dexter.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: At the beginning of the special, Deedee wanders into Dexter's Time Machine and is not seen again until the end when she wanders into the final battle and asks "What Does This Button Do?"
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: In the future, Mandark takes control of the company he and Dexter worked for/will work for, and uses its resources to advance his plan for world domination.
  • Darker and Edgier: The film is easily the darkest installment of the show, with numerous scenes of violent action and Mandark being upgraded from a petty rival to a full-blown villain responsible for a Bad Future scenario.
  • Destination Defenestration: It's implied Mandark took over the company by kicking the previous CEO out a window.
  • Demoted to Extra: Dexter's parents only make a brief cameo, and even though Dee Dee plays a role in the climax, she barely has a minute of actual screen time. During his time travels, Dexter never even wonders where his family is or what they might be doing.
  • Despotism Justifies the Means: Overlord Mandark numbs the minds of everyone in the world, hoards all knowledge and technology for himself, and declares science forbidden to all- just so he can be the smartest person on the planet.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • The robots that arrived to destroy "the one who saved the future"? They were created by the four Dexters themselves, who were so upset about Dee Dee (unknowingly) stopping Mandark and stealing their thunder that they tried to exterminate her for payback. When present day Dexter realizes he only created the robots he destroyed, he relents to a more proportionate revenge of just sulking and refusing to talk to Dee Dee.
    • Number 12 is publicly flogged by Executive Mandark for being almost late to work.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Twelve is utterly afraid of his version of Mandark, having been pushed around by him and shown being sadistically punished and humiliated just for being almost late to work. When Twelve's forced to confront him in the climax, Executive Mandark smacks him around with little effort, as he's still too scared. However, when he smugly plucks Twelve's glasses off his face, stomps on them, and cruelly laughs at his expense, Twelve finally snaps and kicks Mandark's ass, taking his glasses as his own for good measure.
  • Double-Meaning Title: An "ego trip" is another way of saying that someone is full of themselves. Dexter goes on a trip to the future because he's so "egotistical" that he genuinely believes that he alone was the one who "saved the future." Meanwhile, the Bad Future Mandark creates is a result of his own selfish desires and, eventually, greed for all of the world's knowledge. The title also references the fact that Dexter's trip results in him meeting three different versions of himself from the future: "alter egos" in a manner of speaking.
  • Droste Image: A variant; when Dexter and 12 visit a Dexter-centric museum exhibit in the far future, a caretaker exclaims "It's you! Both of you!" The camera pulls back to reveal the two standing in front of a large mural depicting... Young Dexter and 12, standing in the exact same posture.
  • Establishing Character Moment: All the future Dexters get one:
    • "Number 12" (aka Young Adult Dexter) shows himself to be a sniveling, cowardly yes-man during his punishment by CEO Mandark.
    • Old Man Dexter shows how decrepit and senile he is by having great difficulty getting down the stairs in his tower, misunderstanding Dexter's talk of "presence", and having forgotten how he supposedly saved the future.
    • Action Dexter is introduced, as the nickname implies, with an awesome action sequence.
  • Exact Words: The robots that attack Dexter at the start of the movie say they've come to "Destroy the one who saved the future". But they never said who that person was. Dexter assumed he was that one, but it turns out it was Dee Dee. The Dexters, in their haste to send their robots back in time, gave the robots an ambiguous command which the original Dexter was bound to misunderstand.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!:
    • Twelve has this reaction when Action Dexter explains how Mandark became Overlord.
      Action Dexter: Then, darkness fell. Somehow my most prized invention, the Neurotomic Protocore, fell into Mandark's clutches!
      Twelve: (quietly) Oh my gosh, we left the core out in my cubicle!
      Dexter: (elbows him)
    • Seeing the attack vehicle incoming, Overlord Mandark says that no one else on Earth could possess the intelligence to build such a device, only to realize that his Arch-Enemy is still alive.
  • Extreme Doormat: Number 12, until he Took a Level in Badass when Executive Mandark breaks his glasses.
  • Fan Disservice: Overlord Mandark is grotesquely obese and wearing only a speedo.
  • Fat Bastard: Overlord Mandark is morbidly obese, to the point that he needs to be carried around by a crane and later a robotic front loader. This represents his gluttonous hoarding of knowledge and power.
  • Flashback: When Action Dexter explains how Mandark stole assorted ideas to rise up the ranks in the corporation (which explains how Number 12 ended up the way Dexter found him) and ultimately used the Neurotomic Protocore to take over the world.
  • Foreshadowing: The fact that the robots from the future didn't fight back while Dexter was destroying them is a hint that he wasn't the one they were really after.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Mandark started out as The Rival and classmate to Dexter and rarely did anything worse than show him up. As a young adult, he stole Dexter's ideas and used them (and the implied murder of the previous CEO) to work his way up to become the Executive — a rich, powerful, and sadistic businessman — that uses his new position to make Dexter's life a living hell, before ultimately becoming a full-on world-threatening villain that wants to hoard all knowledge for himself.
  • Future Badass: Action Dexter is tall, manly and very muscular, much to the joy of present Dexter and Number 12... well, save for going bald (Old Man Dexter reveals that he wears a wig).
  • Future Me Scares Me: Dexter is less than impressed when he finds out his young adult self's a cringing whipping-boy who designs cubicles for a living. Later subverted when he discovers the older Dexter's plans for the Neurotomic Protocore stashed in a secret compartment in his cubicle's wall.
  • Geek Physiques: Young adult Dexter, a.k.a. Twelve, is tall, lacks any muscle mass, and still maintains his intelligence.
  • Grand Finale: This movie was intended to serve as the definite end to the show, though the series was subsequently renewed for two more seasons. Though, in a way, it kinda still was this as this was the last product of the old guard of the series, including Genndy working on it, and the original models and animation in general.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: While working at the corporation as research scientists, Mandark grew jealous of Dexter being able to come up with so many new ideas while he was uninspired, to the point he began stealing Dexter's creations. Brain in a Jar Mandark even flat-out admits that he's petty and jealous.
  • Had the Silly Thing in Reverse: A serious version. In attempting to harness the Protocore's powers, Mandark inadvertently set the positive flow to negative. Not only did the negative neurotomic energy twist Mandark's mind, making him more insane than he already was, but it also numbed the minds of everyone in the world, allowing him to swoop in and take over the world with no resistance. To undo the damage he caused, the Protocore has to be reset to positive.
  • Hope Springs Eternal: Concluding his flashback, Action Dexter says he tries to do what he can for others but is constantly outmatched by a lack of resources. Dexter tells him the laboratory is intact and that he has three equally intelligent people willing to help him.
  • Innocent Innuendo: In their brief appearance, Dexter's parents are seen struggling with something just offscreen, with their arms and legs leaving a lot to the imagination before we're shown what's really going on.
    Mom: (straining) Honey... I don't think that's gonna fit...
    Dad: (raising a shaky arm) Just... a little more, dear...
    [The camera zooms out to reveal them playing Twister as Dad slaps his hand down on a tricky spot.]
    Dad: Got it! Ha-ha! See, hon? I told you I could do it.
  • Kick the Dog: Mandark broadcasts his torture of Number Twelve on the office's television screens, just for being nearly late.
  • Klingon Promotion: It's heavily implied Mandark murdered the CEO of the corporation he and Dexster worked at after having smoozed his way up to the near top by kicking him out of a window.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: How the special ends: Dexter returns to the present, just in time to see himself fighting the robots. He comes to the realization that he perpetuated his own journey through time, only to abruptly decide in frustration to go to the kitchen and make a sandwich.
    Time travel hurts my brain!
  • MacGuffin: The neurotomic protocore is the all-powerful item which the Dexters and Mandarks are fighting over.
  • Mandatory Line: Dee Dee only gets one line in this entire movie, and that's before she pushes the button that saves the world.
  • Manly Facial Hair: Action Dexter is naturally the most manly and badass of the future versions of Dexter, and the only one with any facial hair, sporting an impressive beard.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: During the Final Battle just before Dexter can push the button and restore the protocore to normal, undoing Mandark's reign, Dee Dee appears and presses said button instead. The Dexters don't take it well.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: While in Number 12's cubicle, Dexter finds the Protocore and its blueprints hidden in a secret compartment. Unfortunately, when he convinces 12 to check out the future with him, they leave those things out in their haste to leave, allowing Mandark to swoop in and use the technology for his own conquest.
  • Non-Protagonist Resolver: The film is eighty-seven minutes of Dexter struggling to reach and push the button that will save the day, twenty seconds of Dee Dee (who had disappeared accidentally in Dexter's time travel machine at the very beginning of the film) reappearing in the middle of the Final Battle and doing what she does best while Dexter and Mandark are kicking each other's butts, and the last couple of minutes of Dexter being so angry that he accidentally causes the Stable Time Loop that led to this whole mess by creating a Killer Robot horde and sending it to get rid of Dee Dee, figuring out what he did, and giving Dee Dee the cold shoulder as a final gag.
  • Non-Serial Movie: While it was intended as the Grand Finale, it fell under this due to the series continuing and the series having Negative Continuity to begin with.
  • Not Quite Dead: Overlord Mandark was unaware that Dexter was still alive in the Bad Future.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Twelve finally fights back against his Mandark, Mandark nervously sweats and meekly says, “Oh, my.” before Twelve kicks his butt.
  • Overly Long Gag
    • "Stop the typing. Stop the typing. STOP THE TYPING!!"
    • Dexter, Twelve, and Old Man Dexter saying hello to one another over and over, and later when the three (and Bad Future Dexter) say goodbye.
  • Plagiarism in Fiction: Mandark became head of the company in the future by stealing Dexter's ideas.
  • Rage Breaking Point: After Executive Mandark breaks Twelve's glasses, Twelve gives his former boss the ass-kicking he's had coming.
  • Reveal Shot: When Number Twelve is summoned by his boss, the camera makes a point to not show his face as he's getting dressed, until he steps out of the shadows to show it's Mandark. The build up, however, is ruined by Mandark's voice being recognizable.
  • Rewatch Bonus: As mentioned above in foreshadowing, the robots that come back to the present don't actually attack Dexter after alerting him of their purpose, nor try to fight back as he destroys them. The first time through, it just seems like Dexter just managed to react fast enough. The second time, you realize that the robots had plenty of time to destroy him while he was running around screaming during his initial panic: they didn't because he wasn't their target — Dee Dee was.
  • Rocky Roll Call:
    • Two of Dexter's future selves keep saying "Hello" to each other for a good while when they first meet, much to present Dexter's annoyance, who finally tells them to shut up.
    • At the ending, when the Dexters are going back to their own times, they repeatedly say "Goodbye, Dexter!", except for Old Man Dexter, who ends it off by saying "Goodbye Billy" to Twelve.
  • Same Voice Their Entire Life: In-Universe. Unlike Dexter, who sounded different throughout the different stages of his life (with Action Dexter even sounding like The Ahnold), Mandark retains the same voice he had as a kid, even when he's overlord and an elderly Brain in a Jar (though the latter case has a bit of a robotic filter on it). This unfortunately gives away the surprise that he's Number Twelve's boss.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Number 12, whenever he hears Executive Mandark's voice, emits a shrill shriek and goes into a Troubled Fetal Position.
  • Sexy Secretary: Mandark has several attractive women typing away at workstations just outside his inner sanctum.
  • Something We Forgot: Played rather seriously. When Dexter and Number 12 leave to go further into the future, they forget to put the Neurotomic Protocore back in its hiding place, allowing Executive Mandark to claim it. Upon hearing from Action Dexter that he got it, Number 12 realizes their mistake, to Dexter's irritation.
  • Stable Time Loop: The whole special. Dexter's trip to the future was instigated by robots who were seeking to "destroy the one who saved the future". While in the future, he inadvertently allows Mandark to steal the Protocore and create a Bad Future. After much fighting and teaming up with his selves from various time periods, the day is saved by... Dee Dee, who wanders in from the main era and does her thing. Furious at having their thunder stolen, the Dexters create an army of robots to destroy Dee Dee... the same robots that Dexter encountered at the beginning. When he realizes this, Dexter has a minor breakdown trying to figure it out, then decides to screw it and get a sandwich. And all this because he accidentally pointed Dee Dee towards the time machine instead of the lab's actual exit.
  • Storming the Castle: A very literal and epic example. Piloting the Humongous Mecha they had built, the four Dexters crash through Overlord Mandark's defenses and fight off his Mecha Mooks as they make their way to his throne room.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: In the Bad Future, an exasperated Dexter sees villagers that are too dumb to even make fire. It turns out that Mandark's misuse of the Neurotomic Protocore numbs everyone else's intelligence.
  • Tempting Fate: We first meet Twelve signing into work with only two minutes to spare, and expressing relief because "I could've gotten in big, big trouble!" The words are barely out of his mouth before the evil CEO summons him.
  • There Are Two Kinds of People in the World: Executive Mandark gives Number Twelve this speech before his public flogging.
    Mandark: There are two types of people in this world, Number Twelve. There are those who struggle to support their families. Scratching and scraping for any little morsel of food they can find. Then there's the strong. The powerful! The elite! With luxuries that others can't possibly dream of. But you, Number Twelve, are neither.
  • Thin-Skinned Bully: Deconstructed. While the Smug Snake CEO Mandark is expectedly terrified when he finally kicks Twelve too far and earns himself a nasty beatdown, when the latter makes a break to reverse the effects of the protocore, the beaten down but furious Mandark refuses to let Twelve take his power, regained backbone or not, and joins the frantic wrestle for the control panel with the other Mandarks.
  • This Cannot Be!: Overlord Mandark's reaction to a high-tech vehicle about to storm his citadel. Even more so when he sees not just one Dexter but four Dexters working the controls.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: The special employs a Stable Time Loop for the timeline but Twelve and Action Dexter do not remember that it was Dee Dee who saved the future even though they would have previously lived through the events as Young Dexter. Making it more glaring is that Old Man Dexter does remember it, but had forgotten it prior to the battle because of his senility.
  • Troubled Fetal Position: A variant. When Dexter and 12 arrive in the distant future, they hear Mandark's voice yelling at them. 12, still terrified of his abusive boss, drops to his side on the floor and mimes frantically typing at his computer as he shakes and cries "I'm typing, I'm typing!"
  • Unknown Rival: Infuriated by Dee Dee stealing their glory, the four Dexters program robots to attack her in the present day. When present!Dexter returns and realises he mistakenly attacked and destroyed them, he gives up and just settles for giving Dee Dee the cold shoulder. Given Dee Dee didn't even mean to save the world and just wanted to press the shiny button, she has no idea at all why Dexter is mad at her and just shrugs it off.
  • Villainous Valor: After all the Dexters gain a Heroic Second Wind over their Mandarks and make a break for the control panel, the Mandarks refuse to lose to Dexter again and desperately fight them to a standstill. Even the sadistic CEO Mandark, who just suffered a brutal revenge beating by Twelve, is not a Thin-Skinned Bully and just gets back up and angrily wrestles Twelve on even ground. Hell, even the brain in a jar Mandark somehow puts up a resistance. It is only when Dee Dee enters that they become too smitten to put up a fight anymore.
    Mandark: No! I've always wanted that core!
    CEO Mandark: No! I stole that core!
    Overlord Mandark: No! The core is mine!
    Brain Mandark: No! Just because I'm bitter and jealous!
  • Visual Pun: Once Twelve gains his resolve to fight Executive Mandark, images of a lion, tiger and bear come out of his body with Executive Mandark adding...
    Executive Mandark: Oh my!
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Time travel makes Twelve queasy and he throws up in the time machine as soon as he and Dexter arrive in the distant future. During the second trip, he even brings a vomit bag.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Dexter gives this to Twelve after the shock of seeing how weak and fearful he's grown up to be.
  • Wimp Fight: Dexter and Mandark's typical slap fights in the main series come to a head in the film's climax. Number 12 outright curb-stomps Executive Mandark, and Action Dexter and Overlord Mandark engage in a dramatic action hero fight, while the present Dexter and Mandark just flail awkwardly at each other. Plus, Old Man Dexter and Braindark merely hurl insults at each other until Braindark beats Old Man Dexter by simply falling over on him.
  • Word, Schmord!: When all four Dexters and Mandarks gather together, we get this exchange:
    Overlord Mandark: Just like old times, eh?
    Action Dexter: Yes, quite a reunion, but...
    Dexter: (butting in) Reunion, schmunion! I want my Neurotomic Protocore, you gluttonous old hack!
    Overlord Mandark: NEVER!
  • You Are Number 6: Apparently, in the future, everyone is referred to as a number, and being a no-number is a crime punishable by imprisonment.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Double subverted. Dexter is initially dismissive of Number 12 for being so completely cowed by Mandark and wasting time designing cubicles. He can't believe he grows up to be this guy, only to stumble upon secret plans for how to utilize the Neurotomic Protocore. Realizing his older self just lacks confidence but still retains his intelligence, Dexter assures him that he and his ideas are brilliant.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Dexters Laboratory Ego Trip


Going In!

Using the assault vehicle they had built, the four Dexters charge their way through Mandark's defenses as they infiltrate his castle.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / StormingTheCastle

Media sources: