It's a gross world out there, filled with slime molds covering the walls, parasites after your blood, and rotting animal carcasses on the side of the road. Heck, you're gross! You're filled with mucus and feces, you constantly sweat, are covered in dead skin cells and scabs, and who knows what creepy bacteria is living on you (and in you) right this very second? All that's enough to make one want to vomit. Maybe while also giving yourself a bad case of diarrhea to purge your system both ways... And now you're telling us that there are people out there who want to weaponize all of this body fluid and excretion nastiness? Can we get someone without a gag reflex to clean up this mess, please?
Loosely based on author Sylvia Branzei's series of children's non-fiction books and educational games of the same name, Grossology is a Canadian animated Edutainment/Gross-Out Show from Nelvana that follows the adventures of siblings Ty and Abby Archer, teenage secret agents with iron stomachs and a love of all things nauseating. The two work as "grossologists" for the titular Department of Grossology, a secret government bureau that handles all the problems that everyone else doesn't want to get anywhere near. Namely villains that have anything and everything to do with bodily fluids and excretions, weird medical issues, and unnerving organisms like parasites. Helping our field agents out are Lab Rat, whose anxiety and dislike of bathing keep him even leaving the laboratory, and The Director, who probably got Kicked Upstairs considering his poor constitution in the face of even the more mundane crime scenes.
The show was developed for television by cartoon writers Simon Racioppa and Richard Elliot (later to be known for Spliced and Fangbone!), with Sylvia Branzei serving as a creative consultant during production. It originally premiered new episodes from 2006 to 2008 on YTV, but also aired in the United States on Discovery Kids and Qubo, running for a total of 52 episodes over 2 seasons. The entire series can be viewed for free on Nelvana's "Keep It Weird" Youtube page.
Grossology provides examples of the following tropes:
- Adults Are Useless: Especially in Fartor's case. His older brother farted in his face every day for fifteen years until he mutated into a methane reliant fart monster. Why didn't his parents do anything all that time?
- Alpha Bitch: Paige Logan.
- Armor-Piercing Question: Abby asks Far-Ty one when it looks like he and Fartor are about to win, causing him to realize that Fartor was mostly using him for his geography skills:
- Ate the Spoon: Pink-Eye's Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce eats a hole in the floorboards.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Sort of. Fartor, Insectiva and Sloppy Joe get happy endings near the end of season 2, but not at the expense of anyone else.
- Balloon Belly: Ty and Lab Rat in "Sloppy Joe To Go".
- Basso Profundo turns out to be just as skinny as he used to be, and the only reason he looked fat was because he had so much gas in him, which he lost over the course of his Burping Contest with the Archer siblings' dad.
- Beard of Evil: Lance Boil, the Big Bad, has a goatee.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted so many times with Abby.
- Bedhead-itis: In "Yack Attack", Abby's bangs become slightly ratty after the contaminated water makes her sick.
- Bespectacled Cutie: Petunia Archer (Season 2) and Naomi are both shy-natured girls who are treated as quite pretty, glasses and all.
- Big Red Button: Lampshaded word-for-word in "Fartzilla"Ty: This can't be good.Abby: The big red button never is!
- Big, Thin, Short Trio: Sloppy Joe, Insectiva and Lance Boil form this dynamic in the episode where they team up.
- Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce: Pink-Eye attempts to torture Lance Boil by force feeding 16 bottles of this stuff. It fails because Boil has replaced his stomach with an artificial digestive system.
- Bowdlerize: The French Canadian version of "Fartzilla" was heavily censored to remove flashbacks of Fartor getting farted on by his older brother as a child.
- Brother–Sister Team: Ty and Abby Archer, obviously.
- Brown Note: Lance Boil uses one in "When You Gotta Go" to make everyone crap their pants. Ty and Abby wear special devices that make them immune to its effects. The downside is the devices make it look as though they are wearing diapers.
- Fartor's entire plan.
- Burping Contest: Between the Archer siblings' dad and Basso Profundo.
- Butt-Monkey: Pinkeye gets kicked around a lot. He's generally considered a loser, had his property destroyed, and almost died from mold poisoning. And that's just his debut episode!
- Catchphrase: Abby and Ty have "Talk about (gross pun)."
- The Catfish: "Squirm" centers around trying to catch one of these.
- Charlie and the Chocolate Parody: Subverted. Gary Gumdrop looks and acts like a parody of Willy Wonka. Ty wants a tour of Gary's factory because he's heard stories that it's a whimsical candy heaven. He's very disappointed when he's held captive in the factory and sees it's ordinary with grime and rust everywhere.
- Compressed Vice: In "Stinko" Lab Rat is suddenly a germophobe and bromidrophobe.
- Creepy Child: The Director's nephew in "Night of the Living Roadkill". He just stands there staring creepily and not talking.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: In "Sloppy Joe To Go" Sloppy Joe starts a successful fast food franchise, but all he cares about is creating more garbage for him to steal.
- Doomy Dooms of Doom: The Aria of Doom, an aria said to be cursed, said with extra dramatic echo.
- Edutainment: A science-based show that specifically looks at the grosser side of science.
- Enemy Mine: Abby and Insectiva once reluctantly teamed up against a carnivorous plant-themed villain.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Sloppy Joe may be a villain, but he loves Christmas and helps Abby and Ty take down Lance Boil in "Let Them Eat Fruit Cake".
- Everyone Has Standards: At the end of the Valentine's Day episode, Abby and Ty set Sloppy Joe and Insectiva up to meet up with each other for a date so they can capture them, but upon seeing how happy they are together decide to just leave them alone.
- Expy: Any Kim Possible fan might just see Labrat as a taller, skinnier version of Wade.
- To say nothing of Abby as a junior-high version of Kim... Who digs the gross stuff.
- Fan Girl: Abby was VK's fan. So much a fan that she refused to believe that VK was the culprit despite seeming evidence. Only when VK admits everything does she get over her fangirl-ness and stop him good.
- Fartillery: Fartor's main fight style consists of this.
- "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: The Insider episode in which Abby chases Lance Boil around inside Ty's body as the latter tries to sabotage it.
- Fiery Redhead: Abby is a downplayed example, but she's generally more high energy and prone to jumping to conclusions than her brother.
- Flashback: In "New Recruits" Abby and Ty reminisce about how they first became Grossologists, as well as Lance Boil's origin.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Labrat, who builds and maintains most, if not all, of Abby and Ty's equipment.
- Gasshole: Fartor and Basso Profondo, with fart and belch motifs respectively.
- Girl Posse: Paige's sidegirls serve as this to her Alpha Bitch.
- Girls with Moustaches: Abby (and many other women) grows a beard after being subjected to an overdose of testosterone by Freddy Follicle in "Hirsute Yourself".
- Grappling-Hook Pistol: One of the functions of the goop shooter.
- Green Gators: The sewer gators seen in "Flushed Away" have green skin (though Lab Rat notes that the ones raised in captivity while the ones in algae-filled waters have greener skin), and later, the Detective wears a green gator suit to blend into the sewer.
- The Grinch: Abby and Lance Boil in "Let Them Eat Fruit Cake". Abby gets over it. Notably, Sloppy Joe is an inversion.
- Gross-Out Show: The word "gross" is right there in the name. It's also a relatively rare example of an educational show being an example of this trope.
- Honest John's Dealership: Professor Skinner. Though he's more inept than immoral.
- How We Got Here: Used in "Vertigo a Go-Go", opening with the protagonists in the middle of a mess and then flashing back to explain what led up to it.
- I Just Want to Have Friends: This is ultimately the driving force behind Roger Pinkeye's villainy. He wants to be friends with Abby and Ty because they share his passions for gross things, but he feels left out and mistreated by them.
- Improvised Parachute: In "Hirsute Yourself", Abby uses her giant beard (It Makes Sense in Context) as a parachute.
- In Medias Res: The origin episode didn't come until season 2.
- Intentional Mess Making: In "Turd Wars", Abby is made hall monitor and forced to clean up the entire school after taking her milkshake drinking record too far and causing the milkshake dispenser to explode. She manages to clean up most of the school, but Paige decides to make the job worse by encouraging everyone to make a mess so Abby will be hall monitor for even longer and clean up her messes. Luckily, Ty has the idea to make Sloppy Joe and Insectiva's giant dung beetles clean up all the mess in the school so Abby doesn't have to clean up any more. Paige is then made hall monitor for the rest of the month after the principal sees her knocking over a trash can and making a mess.
- I Take Offense to That Last One:Paige: I came for a party and no creepy, weirdo, goth loser is going to stop me!Darko Crevasse: Oh, come on. I may be, as you say, 'creepy', but goth? That's just insulting!
- I Was Quite a Looker:
- A flashback to Lance Boil's origin shows he was tall and handsome before he was mutated.
- Flashbacks to Insectiva's childhood show she was once quite adorable. And so was her sister, Arachnidia.
- Jerk Jock:
- VK would count. He plans to give everyone athlete's foot so that he could be the best basketball player ever.
- There's also the unnamed jocks who bully Chester in "Kid Rot".
- Jettison Jetpack Attack: In the episode "Fartzilla", Fartor is causing chaos in Fartzilla, a Humongous Mecha dinosaur powered by farts. Ty realizes that farts are composed of combustible methane and launches his jetpack straight into the exhaust, causing the methane to set alight and sends the mecha blasting off into the atmosphere.
- The Lab Rat: Lab Rat is this, spending all of his time in the lab working on gadgets and experiments.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Ty is the most common offender but Abby's not completely immune.
- Limited Social Circle: Subverted. Ty and Abby don't seem to have friends of their own. In "The Perfect Stink", their parents point out how their kids never bring any of their classmates home. The only friends they seem to have outside of each other are Naomi, Andy and Lab Rat.
- Logo Joke: At the end of the credits the Nelvana logo gets covered in goop.
- Make Them Rot: Kid Rot can rot all organic materials.
- May Contain Evil: Averted with Sloppy Joe's fast food chain. It's perfectly normal fast food, and he never intended to do anything evil this time. Instead his plan was to serve people such large portions that they end up throwing most of it away, giving him plenty of garbage to play around in all to himself. Of course, when said garbage stash goes critical and explodes, covering the city in garbage, he decides that's even better than his original plan.
- Miracle-Gro Monster: Slitherbuddies from "Fangs A Lot". Adorable little things that suddenly shoot up in size when the temperature goes out of whack.
- Modesty Towel: Abby and her mom wear these in "Spa Insectiva".
- More than Mind Control: Ty's transformation into Far-Ty. While being forced to breathe methane until his body adapted to it did most of the work, he was still being driven by the desire to be seen as superior to Abby.note Abby telling him You Are Better Than You Think You Are is what finally brings him back to the side of good.
- Nephewism: In "Night of the Living Roadkill" the Director is shown to have a nephew. Though since this episode turned out to be All Just a Dream and he never shows up in any other episodes he might not really exist.
- Weirdly enough, in an early episode, Clarence (the nephew) was referred to as the Director's son.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Darko Crevasse is based on Ozzy Osbourne.
- No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Inverted in one episode when Mrs. Archer invites Insectiva over for dinner, not realising she's a supervillain.
- Noodle Incident: In "Hirsute Yourself", when Abby sees a fake mustache Ty drew on his face, she asks if he's been eating newspaper again.
- The Nudifier: Kid Rot can dissolve anything organic with a single touch, including clothing.
- Official Couple: Sloppy Joe and Insectiva as of the Valentine's Day episode.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Paul "Lab Rat" Squirfenherder. His name is rarely, if ever, mentioned on screen.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Despite not bothering to conceal their faces or voices aside from wearing visors, most civilians don't seem to recognize Ty and Abby in their grossologist uniforms while most villains don't recognize them out of them. It's even more egregious in Abby's case as her giant ankle-length ponytail should be a dead giveaway.
- The Pigpen: Sloppy Joe is absolutely covered in filth and all of his plans involve either muck or garbage in massive amounts.
- Police Are Useless: Frequently. For example, in "When You Gotta Go", they were taken out of commission due to diarrhea attacks.
- Precocious Crush: Abby had one on pre-mutation Lance Boil before he turned out to be evil.
- Prehensile Hair: Freddy Follicle is able to use his hair in this manner during his focus episode.
- Prematurely Bald: Freddy Follicle's plot involved stealing people's hair, one of his victims of course being Abby.
- Puppeteer Parasite: Chester has been taken over by one. A variant in that the parasite in question is not an alien, but something he accidentally created in a lab experiment. It also gives him a rotting touch.
- Red Herring: In "Let Them Eat Fruit Cake" when Sloppy Joe got a job as a mall Santa and started giving away fruit cake, Abby suspected it was part of an evil plot. It was, but not Joe's. Lance Boil was contaminating the fruit cake without his knowledge.
- Revolting Rescue: In "The Fart Side of the Moon", a planet very nearly rams into the earth, but the Director lets out such a powerful fart that the planet moves in a different direction.
- Robot Dog: Sniffer McGross is one.
- Rodents of Unusual Size: After being defeated and contained, Abby's evil part-rat clone turned from mostly-human-looking to a giant rat.
- Rogues Gallery: Generally Ty and Abby face off against at least one of their recurring villains and in later episodes, when new villains show up, they tend to have a connection to previously appearing villains.
- Running Gag: Lab Rat not wanting to go outside, as well as the Director being in entirely the wrong profession.
- The Scottish Trope: The Aria that is Unspoken is said to be so cursed that saying its true name will cause terrible things to happen.
- Sewer Gator: Used in the episode as an urban legend come to life.
- Secret Identity: Ty and Abby have to keep their identities as Grossologists a secret from everyone, especially their family.
- Abby's audition for the school's production of The Wizard of Oz: "Stella! STELLA!"
- One of the episodes is titled "Pinkeye and the Brain".
- Sibling Protective Instinct: Abby and Ty may give each other a hard time but at the end of the day, they have each other's backs and messing with one Archer sibling is a good way to have the other beat you down hard.
- Sticky Situation: Ty and Abby frequently end up facing walls of goop that sticks to their feet and requires some effort to move through.
- Stock Footage: Abby and Ty's Lock-and-Load Montage before each mission.
- Superpowered Evil Side: Chester's lab accident has left him with an alter ego in the form of Kid Rot, a dark skinned, black eyed and insane individual who exists only to rot the world.
- Sweet Tooth: Gary Gumdrop
- There are also some small hints that Ty's a closet sweets fiend who doesn't indulge often for health reasons.
- Team Pet: Hermes, who is cute and incredibly smart, even serving as Lab Rat's assistant on occasion.
- Technical Euphemism: In "Fartzilla", Fartor refers to his older Gary constantly farting on him as "the poisonous emissions of [his] brother's bowels".
- Teen Superspy: Abby and Ty serve as this trope.
- Terraforming: Fartor is a non-planet example. His brother gave him Dutch ovens so often that oxygen became poisonous to him.
- In his final episode, Fartor attempted to terraform Earth so he could survive there without his suit. He ends up accidentally terraforming the Moon and decides to live there.
- Third-Person Person: VK, he doesn't even care if anyone finds it annoying.
- Tomboyish Ponytail: Abby fittingly has this as her interests tend to be things that involve being active and may or may not involve getting messy.
- Tongue on the Flagpole: Happens to Professor Skinner in "Fangs A Lot".
- Uncanny Family Resemblance: Ty and Abby's parents look like them. To the point that it's kinda creepy.
- Uncleanliness Is Next to Ungodliness: All of the villains are disgusting in one way or another. However, Sloppy Joe is one the with truly disgusting personal hygiene. He never touches soap, and a single whiff of his BO is enough to render bystanders unconscious.
- Use Their Own Weapon Against Them: In "When Ya Gotta Go", Lance Boil creates a ray gun that causes urgent diarrhea and uses it on anyone who tries to stop him. Near the end of the episode, Abby kicks said gun out of his hand and shoots him with it. It's implied he soils himself due to not installing a bathroom on his ship.
- Vampire Vords: Ty speaks with an Eastern European accent while doing his stand-up routine dressed as a vampire.
- Villain Song: One definite one sung by Lance Boil and there is song by usual villain Sloppy Joe about how he loves Christmas.
- Villain Team-Up: In the episode "All Together Now", Insectiva, Sloppy Joe and Lance Boil team up to shut down the Bureau of Grossology.
- The Voiceless: Apart from some laughing and other sounds, Paige's friends don't talk.
- Water Source Tampering: The vomiting spree in "Yack Attack" is caused by Sloppy Joe swimming in a city reservoir.
- Vomit Discretion Shot: Frequently.
- Speaking of, the lack of Vomit Indiscretion Shot in a Gross-Out Show is, one assumes, a Y7-rating related issue. Which didn't stop the show doing an episode revolving around a puking spree (including Abby puking for canonically the first time in her life), which made the Discretion thematically somewhat unfortunate.
- Walking Wasteland: Kid Rot. Anything organic that he touches immediately starts to rot.
- Weirdness Censor: When Abby was replaced by an evil part-rat clone of herself, no one noticed the fangs or pale skin.
- Would Hurt a Child: Majority of Ty's and Abby's opponents are adults who pull no punches and both siblings have been kidnapped at least once each during their job as Grossologists, with Ty's kidnapping by Fartor outright involving Brainwashed and Crazy.