Follow TV Tropes


Western Animation / Fantastic Max

Go To

“WELL Along Came Max, and the fun times started; I’d laugh until I cry!
He’s Dynamite in those four-ply diapers, he’s my kinda guy!
Well there goes Max, on a big-time mission; will he lose or win?
Yes it all depends on the four-ply diaper, and that safety pin!"

Space-faring cartoon from the late 1980s, created by Mike Youngnote  produced by Hanna-Barbera.

Fantastic Max follows the adventures of 16-month-old Max as he travels through space. Along for the ride is an adorable little alien doll named FX, who has magical powers to boot, and a toy robot nanny named AB-Sitter. The trio have many adventures and travel to many different planets.

Fantastic Max originally aired on Sundays as part of the two-hour cartoon block The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera. The first episode aired September 11, 1988, and the last episode aired on February 1, 1990.

Fantastic Max provides examples of:

  • All Just a Dream/Easy Amnesia: Max is apparently capable of doing this to people via hypnosis.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Max to Zoe, but the feeling goes both ways.
  • Apes in Space: "Monkey See, Monkey Zoo" has Max and co. rescuing a "stranded American astronaut," who ends up being a monkey picked up by a space circus.
  • "Arabian Nights" Days: Max, looking for the right kind of sand for his sandbox, ended up in the land of Dinar. There he was mistaken for the long-lost prince, who was actually leading a band of loveable rogues in a The Desert Song-like situation.
  • Badass Adorable: Max is mighty tough for a toddler.
  • Bad Butt: Max is fearless and tough, but being a baby in an 80's cartoon, he never actually fights any enemies.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Max has no difficulty in breathing out in space in most episodes. Even more so for an infant.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Zoe can be seen as this, but the main brat is her rival, Ben Letterman. Considering that he constantly bothers them and plays rotten tricks, neither Max or Zoe are very fond of him. According to Max, "Ben's an even bigger jerk than Zoe."
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Frequently. One example is an episode where all of Max's diapers are being used to plug up a hole, and AB informs Max: "This is the last of your diapers, Max. No more changing in this episode."
  • Butt-Monkey: AB-Sitter is a bit of a wet blanket and thus gets made fun of by Max a lot.
  • The Cameo: George Jetson, the Great Gazoo and Space Ghost in one episode (they were in space, in a traffic jam no less!).
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": Nasil Bathrobe, from "Journey to the Center of My Sister," is called a "virus" by the space police. He seems to be more an extremely tiny alien who's able to cause disease in people by entering their bodies—closer to a parasite than a virus. And, of course, he's totally sapient.
  • Catchphrase: Max's "Dirty Diapers!" when anything goes wrong.
    • Also, FX's "Rocket and Roll!" when activating his powers.
    • His cousin XS uses "Rock 'Em and Sock 'Em!", keeping in line with his aggressive bully personality.
  • Company Cross References: One episode has a TV-watcher mention wanting to watch SuperTed, which shared a block with Fantastic Max when it premiered.
  • Continuity Nod: "Beach Blanket Babies" features Max and co. getting help from previous-episode character Dumping Jack Trash, from "Attack of the Cubic Rubes," since he knows everything about space trash.
  • Cowardly Lion: FX trembles at the merest sight of danger and is always nervous about going on adventures, but when push comes to shove, he'll use his magic at the opportune time and save the day.
  • A Day in the Limelight: "The Baby Who Fell to Earth" has a higher focus on Zoey than usual, including having her save the day for once.
  • Defanged Horrors: In a serious sci-fi show, the plot of "Journey to the Center of my Sister" would be played for sheer horror: A microscopic, yet sapient, parasitic lifeform has taken up residence in a little girl, is making her sick, and has laid eggs inside her body in order to deliberately and maliciously use her as an infection vector for the whole human race. However, said parasite is a mincing Basil Rathbone parody, the eggs are portrayed as chicken eggs complete with egg carton, and his "children" look exactly like him, but wearing bows. Thus, the otherwise horrifying subject matter comes off as just silly.
  • Diaper Space: Max often pulls stuff out of his diaper. AB even comments about how unsanitary of a habit it is considering Max uses the object he pulls out to his fullest advantage.
  • Does Not Like Spam: In "Stitches in Time," Pumpernickel the wizard has a pathological hatred of the bread he shares his name with.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The original pilot, aired as "From Here to Twinkle, Twinkle" in the series, is noticeably different in several ways. In addition to taking more time to explain the premise:
    • The animation style on the whole is very different. Certain things, such as the rocket's movements, are more fluid, and the lightning is much more dramatic and high-contrast. However, the mouth movements are generally stiffer.
    • Max refers to himself as a "space baby" more often, likely because the pilot was also called "Space Baby." He also acts more baby-like, instead of just being an absurdly young Kid Hero, and is implied to be less than a year old (while he's 16 months old in the series).
    • FX has a much sadder, mopeyier personality; part of that is due to the pilot's plot being about him being homesick, but in general he's more worried. In particular, he has a Catchphrase, "I don't know, I'm just an alien!" that didn't carry over. His main series personality is more of a Cowardly Lion.
    • AB's design is subtly different (he's got a bigger head and is generally taller), and he behaves closer to a true caretaker for Max instead of a sidekick. In particular, he often tries to quiz him as a parent might ("Can you name some other animals with very sharp teeth?"), and is more concerned with Max's upbringing.
    • The pilot's main villain is Dumping Jack Trash, who is a full-on villain in the pilot. In the series, he's an Anti-Villain at best, and ends up a minor recurring ally of Max's after his debut.
  • Eat Dirt, Cheap: Rooty, an enormous carrot alien, eats soil—being a vegetable and all.
  • Egg-Laying Male: Nasil Bathrobe is referred to as male, but he nonetheless was capable of laying a whole bunch of eggs in Zoey's body, one of which hatched into a tiny clone of himself. (Being as this is an 80's kids cartoon, Zoey's body is depicted more like a city full of tiny goofy creatures and the eggs literally look like chicken eggs, complete with egg cartons.)
  • Even Evil Has Standards: "I may not be as bad as I wished, there's no way I'd let a baby get squished!"
  • Evil Sounds Deep: The villain of "Attack of the Cubic Rubes" has an especially deep voice, and talks in rhyme no less!
  • The Faceless: The faces of Max and Zoe's parents are never seen.
  • "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: “Journey To The Center Of My Sister” has Max, FX and AB going inside Zoe to stop a virus from spreading.
  • Free-Range Children: Exaggerated, as we're talking about a show where Max, a self-proclaimed "space baby", spends much of his time traveling across the galaxy. On the other hand, it's always when Mom and Dad (and Zoe for the most part) aren't looking. Still, he does have an AB-Sitter. So not like he's not being supervised.
  • Hufflepuff House: The girl from the day care center in the episode All in a Babe's Work.note 
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: In "The Baby who Fell to Earth," Zoey saves the day by putting her video game skills to good use, shooting down a helicoper that was trying to abduct Max.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Max uses a diaper and safety pin, if the theme song is to be believed.
  • Kid Hero: Exaggerated, Max is only 16 months old.
  • Little Green Men: FX is a small green alien with a long snoot and a pair of bulbous antennae. Other members of his race, the Twinklairians, are not necessarily green (his parents are pink and blue, for example), but he is to fully lean into the trope.
  • Living Toys: AB is a robot made of blocks, brought to life by FX's magic. One episode has FX making him a "brother," XY, who decides to live on the Moon instead to keep the Man in the Moon company. FX himself plays with this—he looks like a doll, with a short stature, plush skin, and a pull-cord he pulls on to talk, but he's an ordinary alien and all of his people, the Twinklairians, look like that.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: "Beach Blanket Baby" features a bunch of "old TV shows," like "Space Speck" and "My Favorite Venusian."
  • Meaningful Name: Most of the side characters in any given episode will have names that are puns on famous people related to the topic of the episode—such as a space scientist named Leonard, or a beachgoing alien named Frankie (in an episode named after Beach Blanket Bingo, no less).
  • Most Writers Are Adults: Max has the excuse of being hyper-intelligent, so it makes sense he'd act more adult. Zoey, however, is meant to be only five years old, but acts more like a preteen or young teenager—she babysits Max sometimes, she has a crush on a boy at school, and she's shown to be smart enough to do things like have her own garden and be competent at video games.
  • Origins Episode: In "Straight Flush", A.B.'s body is stolen and while trying to retrieve it, Max thinks back to when he first met FX and gained his intelligence and ability to speak, then later built A.B.
  • Pretentious Pronunciation: Villain Fatso, an enormous chubby rabbit, insists it's pronounced "Fah-zo." "The 'T' is silent!"
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Dumping Jack Trash lives for this.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: FX's precious face and high voice will make anyone squeal.
  • Robot Buddy: AB (although he's really more of a substitute parent).
  • Roguish Romani: The series has an episode where the characters run into a group of thieving, flamboyant, swarthy (but in the end, helpful) alien con artists that literally refer to themselves as "Space Gypsies".
  • Shout-Out: "Guess Who's Coming to Dinar" is a sendup of The Desert Song plus various "Arabian Nights" Days standards.
  • Space Jews: In one episode. Max and friends run into a group of thieving, flamboyant, swarthy (but in the end, helpful) alien con artists who literally refer to themselves as "(Ha, HA!) Space Gypsies!"
  • Status Quo Is God: Zoey finds out about Max's spacegoing adventures in "The Baby Who Fell to Earth," but gets hypnotized into thinking it was All Just a Dream so she can't tag along.
  • Stock "Yuck!": Max hates carrots. It doesn't help that his sister Zoey has some weird ideas about how to cook them.
  • Storybook Episode: "Cooking Mother's Goose" has FX's cousin XS jumping into a storybook and wreaking havoc there, so they have to follow him to stop him from throwing the land of nursery rhymes into chaos.
  • Switched at Birth: An odd example in "The Big Sleep," where a goofy doctor sends FX (who came in for a tangled pull-cord) home with a pair of aliens who just had an egg hatch. FX knows he's absolutely not their baby, but they don't notice at first. Thankfully, Max and AB manage to get their REAL baby back to them.
  • Totally Radical: Max is a baby with a mohawk hairdo and totally tough 'tude.
  • Unique Pilot Title Sequence: The 1986 pilotnote  was called Space Baby and had an Expository Theme Tune that said it was "A strange and scary story/'Bout a baby known as Max/Who got lost at Cape Canaveral/When his parents turned their backs!"
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: In "Close Encounters of the Carrot Kind," Fatso the rabbit alien wanders around Earth freely with his only disguise being to hide his ears. The only thing anyone notices as "off" about him is that he's got a literally big mouth.
  • White and Gray Morality: In "Attack of the Cubic Rubes", the titular Cubic Rubes are tireless graffiti artists who cover absolutely everything with absolute messes of scribbles... but they're not malicious, and they really are just irrepressibly creative. Dumping Jack Trash, meanwhile, is a grumpy old garbage collector who can't stand the Cubic Rubes' messy graffiti and wants to suck all the color out everything... but he's got a point that the Cubic Rubes have no self-control and are making a mess of planets that aren't theirs. In the end, Jack and the Rubes get the Rubes a job decorating the constellations in lovely colors everyone can enjoy, while Jack keeps an eye on them, and everyone's happy.
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: Max and co. get trapped in a television set in a random person's house, leading to some Self-Deprecation:
    Deliah: Hey, Evinrude, what's on the TV?
    Evinrude: Not much, Deliah, just some show with a talkin' baby.
    Deliah: Is it funny?
    Evinrude: Not yet.


Video Example(s):



While performing stand-up comedy, Loon keeps making lousy jokes about Martians, unaware that the clubs' owner IS a Martian and doesn't approve of them.

How well does it match the trope?

4 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / InnocentlyInsensitive

Media sources: