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Western Animation / Hot Wheels: Battle Force 5

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Never mind that there are eight of them, Battle Force Five just sounds cooler. Or they're trying to appeal to a Japanese market.

"Speed, power, and attitude, dudes. Let's roll."
Vert Wheeler

What happens when Nelvana teams up with the studio behind Dragon Booster, Storm Hawks and League of Super Evil to produce a cartoon series based on a popular line of toy cars from Mattel?

You get Hot Wheels: Battle Force 5, a Merchandise-Driven Canadian animated series that takes every Saturday Morning action cartoon trope in the book that the producers could track down and pumps it chock-full of that Rule of Cool-and-Rule of Fun-driven philosophy that Nerd Corps action cartoons practically run on.

Much like its predecessor, Hot Wheels: AcceleRacers, Battle Force 5 follows Vert Wheeler (albeit a new version of the character), a vehicle enthusiast who gets caught in a mysterious electrical cyclone while out for a drive in the desert one day. The cyclone turns out to be a portal that whisks him away to a mysterious dimension called a Battle Zone, where he encounters a being named Sage, who helps him return to Earth. At Vert's garage, Sage reveals she is the last of a powerful race called the Sentients, who created the Battle Zones as a way to link the multiverse together. However, the Battle Zones are now threatened by two evil factions - a race of beast-men called the Vandals and the robotic Sark - both of whom seek to acquire Battle Keys that allow the user to use the Battle Zone they were found in to invade other dimensions.

To stop these two separate menaces from threatening Earth, Sage assembles five others to help Vert, these being off-road tracker Agura Ibaden, Muay Thai martial artist Zoom Takazumi, minor British prince Stanford Rhodes, and engineer brothers Sherman and Spinner Cortez. Together, these six racers form Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 (five because they have five vehicles between them; Sherman and Spinner share one), driving through the various Battle Zones to compete with the Vandals and the Sark for Battle Keys and securing them so that the Earth will remain safe from these dangerous interdimensional foes.

The show debuted in August 2009 both on Cartoon Network in the United States (as one of a multitude of Canadian cartoons prominent on the channel at the time, being Nerd Corps' third and final CN series and Nelvana's first one) and Teletoon in Canada, with the final episode airing on July 2011 and concluding the series at 2 seasons and 52 episodes. Episodes are available on Nelvana's Cartoon Power Up channel.

Hot Wheels: Battle Force 5 provides examples of:

  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Shadowriders are a straight example.
    • Sage mentions that the Red Sentients were the ones who started and progressed the war Though by the Season 2 finale, they are tired of the conflict and make peace. In the third season Korosivash and Karmakaris prove that they're not evil, and the Red Sentient 5 seem to be the exception.
  • Always Someone Better: Stanford's older brother Simon, who also manages to be a total jerk.
  • Anime Hair: Spinner.
  • Apocalypse How: It's amazing how many different ways class X-5 can occur:
    • Destabilzation of the Gyroid Zone.
    • Complete collapse of a battlezone.
    • Anti-matter and shadow matter mixing with each other.
  • Arc Number: 5. Expect to see plenty of pentagons.
  • Back for the Finale: Master Takeyasu and Jack Wheeler re-appear in Full Revolution.
  • Bash Brothers: The Cortez Brothers.
  • Batman Gambit: Used by Krytus against Sol:
    Krytus: When Kytren told me of Sol's survival, I suspected he might try this, to destroy his brother and his respawn chamber with his dying energy pulse. Such a noble sacrifice! So we built a false chamber just for Sol. The only thing he will destroy is himself!
  • Berserk Button: Don't mess with Stanford's fauxhawk, Sever learns this the hard way in the second to last episode of Season One.
    • Also, don't capture Spinner. Sherman wouldn't appreciate it.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Season 1 had Zemerik and Kalus as the Big Bad while season 2 had the Red Sentients, more specifically Krytus, replace Zemerik.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Unite And Strike. Vert is about to get run down by the entire Red Sentient 5...until the Mobi arrives piloted by Tezz and AJ to save him and let him revive the Blue Sentients.
  • Big "NO!": Zemerik gives a pretty good one when Krytus is let out of his can.
    • Krytus get's a nice one in Get Zemerik after an Alpha-Code possessed Zemerik forgives him, thus rendering his eons old revenge meaningless.
  • Brains and Brawn: Zemerik is the brains, while Zug is the brawn. Sherman and Spinner Cortez also qualify: Sherman is the younger (and larger/more muscular) brother, and has even taken out a massive Red Sentient in one punch (Brawn); but he's also one of the smartest of Battle Force 5, alongside Tezz and Sage (Brains). Spinner is the older brother, but is the smallest and physically weakest, and he's not as intelligent as the others. Rather, his Brains are less about hard sciences like physics, but more about intuitive reaction, like pulling off a move he saw in a video game. His hand-eye coordination is exceptional, which requires brain-power. His Brawn also takes an unconventional approach, in that he can often persuade foes much stronger than he is to fight each other and not him. All in all, Sherman is straight-up conventional in both Brains and Brawn, while Spinner is all about being outside the box with both thinking and combat.
  • Bullet Time: Stanford and his evil counterpart do this to each other, in a Shout-Out to The Matrix. Yes, in their cars.
  • Burping Contest: The Cortez Brothers have one in an effort to gross out Agura. She joins in.
  • Butt-Monkey: Stanford on more than one occasion, though he has a tendency to be somewhat of a Jerkass, so it's sometimes deserved. Then again, he has got better as the series has moved on, so it has become less frequent.
  • Cain and Abel: Krytus is Cain, Sage is Abel.
    • Also seen between Kytren and Sol:
    Kytren: Brother? Alive!? Not for long...
    • Actually, this is apparently standard for Sentients, as every Red Sentient has a twin sibling who is blue.
  • Catchphrase: "Battle Force 5, roll out!"
  • Chainsaw Good: Vert has one on his Saber. This bears repeating; his car has a chainsaw on it.
  • Challenging the Chief: Kiohakoko, the Vandal ceremony used to determine who the Vandal Warlord shall be.
  • The Chosen One: Zoom, though he'd rather it wasn't. The reason he left the order is because he's tired of the constant meditation and monotonous meals of rice.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Try not to ally yourself with the Red Sentients, as they will betray you once you've served your purpose.
  • Companion Cube: Stanford's teddy bear, Sir Fluffalot.
  • Continuity Nod: The Power Rage from Acceleracers appears in the first episode. It is later modified into the Saber after it gets wrecked.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Exactly what color a Zurk is depends on who is controlling it: they're Blue if they're under Zemerik's command, or Red if they're being controlled by a Red Sentient.
    • And now there is a third faction of them who worship the Alpha-Code, which are green.
    • Battle Force 5 themselves. Vert (leader) is red, and like Krytus, they are both hot-headed and headstrong. Sherman and Spinner (muscle, mind, and wit) are blue. Agura (spec ops) is green, fitting her ranger/tracker/ranger abilities. Stanford (artillery) is purple, fitting considering his royal status and love of DJ/Dubstep, since blacklights (common in such places) have a purple look to them. Zoom (scouting and recon) is yellow, a heroic color in Japan (his home country), and the darker yellow is almost red (like Vert) which is interesting to note because Zoom is quite capable of operating by himself, similar to how Vert was running solo in the first episode.
  • Cool Car: Do you even have to ask?
  • Cool Old Guy: Sol; Jack Wheeler, Vert's father.
  • Cool Shades: Vert's analyzer visor, which doesn't actually shade anything.
    • Apparently, they can if they can substitute for protective goggles.
  • Cruel Mercy: At the end of the ritual to determine the new Vandal Warlord, Kalus is about to be finished off by Grimian and tells him to get it over with. Grimian's response?:
    Grimian: And let you go out a hero? I think not. I'd prefer you to spend the rest of your life in SHAME!
    • Turned around later by Kalus as he declares his punishment for the defeated Grimian:
      Kalus: I could finish you off like a common moor-swine, but I'd prefer you to live under the shadow of my greatness, in shame. I hereby promote you to my second-in-command.
    • This is Grimian's fate as well. Kalus beats him, destroys his ride, and banishes him, but spares his life so he can live in shame. However, Kalus doesn't give him a third Cruel Mercy after that and is heavily implied to have killed him.
    • While Zemerik didn't mean for it to be, Krytus defiantly sees Zemerik forgiving him as this, as it robbed him of his eons old revenge.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Zeke could tell those weren't just "fancy watches from Japan".
  • Cult: The Alpha Code, a third Sark faction that are green in color. They dwell in a temple within the Torborian Badlands and worship a strange entity dwelling at the bottom of a deep pit. They sacrifice Zemerik and Zug to it.
  • Cyber Cyclops: All of the Zurk.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Vert's father, Jack Wheeler, disappeared years ago, leaving his son bitter and resentful. But it turns out he was being kept as a slave by the red sark Tors-10!
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Turns out the Red Sentient civilization was just as tired of Krytus's war as the Blues were.
  • Disney Villain Death: The Vandals appear to suffer this at the hands of Zemerik at the end of the first season finale, but survived. Praxion suffers this when Krytus throws him off a cliff.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Although Sage was the one who used the Double-Helix Crystals to put the entire Red Sentient population in stasis as a preemptive strike, it's made quite clear that it wasn't an easy choice for her to make.
  • Easily Detachable Robot Parts: Any Zurk ordered to self-terminate can use this trope against itself!
  • The End... Or Is It?: After the Karmordians have been finally defeated in Full Revolution, the final scene is a partly recovered Zemerik reactivating Zug and telling him they have a lot to do.
  • Enemy Mine: Between the Battle Force 5 and the Sark at the end of Season One. Lampshaded by Stanford:
    Stanford: Talk about nerve! Zemerik's Axis of Evil went all pear-shaped, so now he's suggesting an Axis of Good?
    • It appears that this alliance is still in effect as of Season Two:
      Agura: We've really gotta tweak our spam filter.
      Vert: Hold on, Zemerik's on our side. Sorta.
      • As of Blue Tide, this alliance is definitely over.
    • Happens in Shadow Runners when Krytus and Vert end up stuck in the Shadow Zone. Though in this case its mainly because if Krytus' shell gets destroyed, his energy form would react with the Shadow Zone and cause a supernova-like explosion that would destroy the multiverse.
    • In Grimian's Secret, the team has to team up with the Vandals to stop Krytus and the Red Sentients from conquering Planet Vandal.
  • Energy Absorption: Both Kyburi and her vehicle are able to do this to machines such as Sark and the BF 5's vehicles.
    • Apparently, she can also do this to organic beings.
  • Engineered Public Confession: When the team is hurled into the past, they end up having to use one to expose Krytus for what he really is to not only his sister, but the entire Blue Sentient race in the form of a fiery Villainous Breakdown in the middle of an important event. Originally he did this himself, but due to accidentally altering history, they had to do it in order to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • Evil Twin: Krytus, to Sage.
  • Exactly What I Aimed At: Almost word for word, by Kalus.
  • Fake Defector: In Better Off Red, Vert pulls this on Krytus, pretending to switch sides and agree with Krytus' argument that Sage must be stopped in order to save the multiverse. Turns out he was really finding out the location of a series of Red Sentient devices that transported them to their Respawn Chambers so they could destroy them. He also swiped the last remaining Blue Sentient one from Krytus in the process.
  • Fantastic Racism: Both the Sark and Vandals refer to humans as "organics" and "sub-species" in extremely derogatory manners.
    • However, the term "organic" probably refers to all organics in general, including Vandals. Since the Sark hate them about as much, if not more, than the heroes.
  • Fastball Special: Sherman throws Spinner during their first fight, before they even get their vehicles.
  • Five-Token Band: With the exception of Vert, all the team members are some sort of minority. Agura is black, Zoom is Japanese-American, the Cortez bros. are Hispanic, and Stanford is British. And royalty.
  • Foreshadowing: Done a lot throughout the first season, culminating in the release of the Red Sentients!
    • Likewise throughout season 2 for the Ancient Ones and the Alpha-Code.
  • Fusion Dance: The Fuser technology.
  • Hartman Hips: Both Agura and Kyburi have these.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Occurs in "Rumble in The Jungle" when Tromp activates the bomb to destroy the Vandals' Sentient-based technology, stranding himself on Planet Vandal, but Tezz swears to come back for him. Unite And Strike confirms this, as he's seen next to Tezz at the end.
  • Hulk Speak: Kytren has a tendency to speak in sentence fragments:
    • "Detect enemy. Destroy enemy."
    • "Kytren fight two fools. Come. Test."
    • "Human warn others."
  • I Call It "Vera": Zeke calls his rusty old pickup truck, er, "Trucketta".
  • Jumped at the Call: AJ played this trope straight:
    Vert: So if you need time to think this over—
    AJ: Nope.
    Vert: Are you sure, cause—
    AJ: Totally!
    Vert: Really? I—
    AJ: Are we gonna talk all day, or are we gonna do this?
    Vert: You haven't changed a bit, AJ.
  • Keeping the Enemy Close: Kalus promoted Grimian to second-in-command because a wise one once advised him about this trope.
  • Kill It with Fire: Kyrosis's vehicle is capable of launching wheels made entirely of fire!
  • Last of Her Kind: Sage is the last known Blue Sentient survivor.
    • Not anymore...
    • Helixion is the last Penta-Warrior.
  • Limited Wardrobe: The team wears the same driving suits all the time, which makes sense, but they do the same with their street clothes. And Zoom never takes off that headband.
    • Justified in Tezz's case, since he probably didn't pack up any extra clothing when he tested his experimental vehicle.
  • Living Shadow: The Shadow Speeders. If you spend too much time in the Shadow Zone, your body will revert to shadow form, and you will become a Shadow Speeder, bent on trapping others in the Shadow Zone so that they will be transformed into mindless monsters just like yourself.
  • Loophole Abuse: During Unite and Strike, A.J and Tezz find a way around the 5 vehicle limit for battlezones by hopping in the Mobius Command Center.
  • Made of Explodium: The Zentners do this. A lot.
  • Mad Scientist: Tors-10 fits this trope to a capital T!
  • Mecha-Mooks: Most of the Sark.
  • Merchandise-Driven: It's in the title. Unlike the previous Hot Wheels productions, the toys weren't as common. Aside from the Saber, most of the castings from the Battle Force 5 series became One Hit Wonders. No previous castings from the earlier Hot Wheels animations appear on screen, except for a Suspiciously Similar Substitute version of the Power Rage that gets modified into the Saber.
  • Mind Hive: The stored minds of the entire Blue Sentient civilization were hidden in Sage's subconscious! If she learns this, however, it will trigger their release. They're finally released to their bodies at the season 2 finale.
  • Monowheel Mayhem: The Red Sentient Kytren uses the Vylirex, which is a gyroscope monowheel.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The battle zone in "Mag Wheels". Basically, Pinball meets Soccer, with cars.
  • Never Say That Again: Krytus hates being referred to as "weak":
    Kyburi: Krytus, you are still weakened from Sage's psionic attack—
    Krytus: Never call me weak again!!!
  • New Season, New Name: Season 2 is entitled "Battle Force 5: Fused".
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Between Stanford and Tezz:
    Vert: Stanford, I need you to get Tezz back home.
    Stanford: What?! Why do I have to escort that pompous, self-important—
    Vert: Because you share so much in common?
    Stanford: Ha ha.
    • And a more serious one between Krytus and a dying Zemerik:
    Zemerik: We were the same once, Krytus. Blinded by ambition, by power. The Alpha-Code has brought me p-p-peace. I... forgive youuu...
    • A positive one at the end of season 2, when it turns out the Red and Blue Sentients are both sick and tired of the war and banish Krytus for causing it in the first place.
  • Not So Stoic: Usually, Zemerik is smug and dispassionate, but he tends to lose his temper upon defeat.
  • Off with His Head!: Agura wrenches off a Zurk drone's noggin with her bare hands.
    • Krytus does this to Zemerik at the beginning of Season Two.
  • Oh, Crap!: Krytus gets a double dose of this in Unite And Strike when Sage and the rest of the Blue Sentients are restored and blast him. When he gets out of his Respawn Chamber to take over the newly revived Red Sentients, he gets this again when he discovers the Blue Sentients had gotten there first and that the entire Sentient civilization is sick and tired of the war he started.
  • Old Master: Master Takeyasu. He was able to destroy the Venikus in one blow, held his own against Kyburi in hand-to-hand combat for a while, somehow knows Krytus, and he's respected by Rawkus, which is no easy feat!
  • Once per Episode: Along with being a Fusion Dance, the Fuser technology. Justified in that it was the result of an unstable compound being loaded into an untested, experimental prototype, and also in that it only has one charge per mission.
  • One-Man Army: When the Battle Force 5 went to investigate news of La Résistance on one of the Red Sentient Moons, they discovered that Tezz Volitov WAS the rebel army. For perspective, this guy single-handedly destroyed hundreds, if not THOUSANDS of Red Zurk using his expertise in electromagnetism.
  • The Power of Friendship: Used throughout most of the series, and he focus of one episode.
  • The Psycho Rangers: Battle Force -5. Dark versions of the heroes' outfits? Check. Always bickering? Check. Evil Sherman even has a Perma-Stubble Beard of Evil. One trope is played with; it's easy for Evil Vert to simply wipe off what appeared to be a tattoo, the only thing physically identifying him as not-Vert.
  • Public Execution: Grimian is last seen being held at spear point before the entire Vandal horde, Kalus approaching him with a spear and a Slasher Smile on his face, strongly implying that he's about to be executed before the entire planet for treason.
  • Recruit Teenagers with Attitude:
    • Played straight. When one of the six youth rather sensibly asks their holographic advisor why they alone were chosen to save the world, she replies that each one brings "something different" to the team. Which one brings driving experience to a battle for the fate of the world that involves high-speed racing is never said. Whether this is Lampshade Hanging or Better than a Bare Bulb is entirely in the eye of the viewer.
    • Each member was recruited because they were "the best of the best". They already know how to drive, but they each contributed a specialized role to the team. In fact, it was summarized pretty well when Vert reconsidered the need for a team in the first episode:
      Vert: A team's starting to look good right about now.
      (looking at a large group of Zurk) Someone to do some scouting, someone with ranged attacks,
      (notices Zug) some heavy muscle... Yeah, that would definitely be nice.
    • Continued with the two new members as well: Tezz, while overconfident, brings a great deal of scientific knowledge to the team and is a technical genius. AJ is accustomed to winter conditions, and his Gear Slammer gives them more options for their muscle.
  • Resurrective Immortality: The Red Sentients thanks to their respawn chambers.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The two Sentient factions.
  • Rent-a-Zilla: These come up fairly frequently in this show. Lampshaded by Sherman while explaining the purpose of the prototype technology Sage was working on:
    Sherman: You know, for all those giant monsters we keep running across.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Subverted. In Unite And Strike, Vert prepares to go on one after Sage is seemingly killed, but the others talk him down and find out they've still got a chance to save her.
  • Robot Religion: The Alpha-Code.
  • Rule of Cool+ MST3K Mantra: Once more; Vert's car has a chainsaw on it. And that's just the start of it.
  • Running Gag: Stanford is really not fond of Planet Vandal. "I HATE THIS PLANET!"
  • Russian Guy Suffers Most: According to the webisode "Lost Charge" poor Tezz was stuck on that Red Sentient moon for 3,286 days before the Battle Force 5 showed up. He was NINE YEARS OLD when he was stranded, and spent the NEXT nine years barely scraping by (iff his emaciated figure is anything to go by) and fighting Red Sark, as presumably the only humanoid or even living creature on that moon. And you never hear him complain about it.
  • Saturday-Morning Cartoon: And how!
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Agura, from being able to tell someone passed by the area based on a discarded cup, to perfectly reenacting Stanford's reaction to the energy leeches:
    Agura: He was surrounded by leeches, threw one of them this way, he panicked.
    (quickly does several panicked-looking positions)
    Agura: And he ran off this way. Also, he wet his pants.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The five Red Sentients were imprisoned by Zemerik. Krytus was freed by Praxion and then proceeded to free the other four himself.
    • At the end of season 2, the rest of Red Sentients turned out to be a subversion, as they were just as sick of the war as their blue counterparts. Instead of joining Krytus against them, they make peace and Krytus is imprisoned once again, this time in a block of ice in a frozen zone.
  • Selective Magnetism: Tezz's weapon of choice.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: Used when Krytus fatally stabs Zemerik.
  • Shock and Awe: The Splitwire, it is even referred to as having this power in one episode
  • Shout-Out: The way Stanford's car jumps may seem familiar to Speed Racer fans.
  • The Sixth Ranger: Tezz Volitov and AJ Dalton in season 2.
  • Special Guest: Real-life 2005 Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon guest stars in a Season 2 episode As Himself.
  • The Starscream: Krocomodo was this during Season 1, until Grimian took the mantle of this trope in Season 2.
  • Sycophantic Servant: Grimian is secretly in league with Krytus!
  • Tan Lines: Stanford is tanned on his head and forearms, the rest of him is super-pale.
  • This Is a Drill: AJ's vehicle.
    • Zug's vehicle as well. He even has a drillbit hand!
  • Toyless Toyline Character: Downplayed. The red Power Rage seen in the first episode hasn't been made exactly into a 1/64 diecast model. The closest casting to the one seen in the show is from the Graffiti Rides 5-Pack released in 2011 that is colored metalflake red, has side tampos, and open hole five spoke wheels instead of co-molded six spoke wheels.
  • Troperiffic: Given all the skewering they did of tropes in their last series, Nerd Corps knows exactly how cliche they're being.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Agura. Black and the only girl on the team. Of course, the team is 5/6 token anyway.
  • Vague Age: While some fans believe that BF 5 could be in their early 20s, the official Battle Force 5 website describes our heroes as a "team of teen drivers." However, this might have been an exaggeration.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: In Better Off Red, Sage states that a new enemy is on it's way and she's building a weapon to fight it. According to her, this new threat is even worse than the Red Sentients and was something she hoped they'd never have to face.
    • See also Foreshadowing above.
    • At the season two finale, Rawkus states a new enemy (likely the same one Sage was worried about) called the Ancient Ones has awakened and their evil is so great, even he is fully behind the Battle Force 5 to face them.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Type 2 between Agura and Stanford.
  • Posthuman Nudism: Sentients don't wear any clothing, their bodies are made of a crystalline shell.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: Krytus poses this question to Sage about her freezing of the Red Sentients to stop him. It's subverted as, while she didn't want to do it, she states that yes, it was worth it because Krytus was a threat to the Blue Sentients and the entire universe. Krytus actually agrees with her, but really could care less.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never did see the fate of Master Takeyasu after he gets trapped on the Red Sentient planet.
    • He's seen meditating at the season 2 finale, proving he's still alive.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Practically word for word by Zoom:
    Zoom: Ice! Why did it have to be ice?
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Krytus says something to this effect to Praxion after the latter freed him from his crystal prison. He demonstrated his everlasting gratitude by dropping him off a cliff. Nice guy, huh?
  • Your Costume Needs Work: When the Vandals and Sark finally reach Earth in "Axis of Evil", they are mistaken by the locals for movie actors, with their 'costumes' being described as "faker than a three-dollar bill."
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: At the finale of season 2, the Red Sentient 5, Vandals, and Zemerik have all been defeated, peace reigns...then Rawkus reveals a new evil called the Ancient Ones has been unleashed.