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From Il était une fois... la Vie (Once Upon a Time... Life)

Il était une fois... (Once Upon a Time... in English) is a French animated franchise which ran from 1978 until deep into the 2000s.

It was created by Albert Barillé and released by Procidis, and Michel Legrand composed the scores for all of the series. Each series revolved around some main subject, intended to educate the young viewers about history, biology or science using the same bunch of characters, no matter the time period or context.

The eight different series:

  • Il était une fois... l'Homme (1978) (Once Upon a Time... Man). The first series. Explaining human history from the creation of the universe until World War II. In the final episode, it branches slightly as part of future predictions concerning pollution and warfare, by presenting an optimistic path. The show's famous opening music is a rendition of Johann Sebastian Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor with a MOOG synthesizer.

  • Il était une fois... l'Espace (1982) (Once Upon a Time... Space). The second series. The only series that is pure fiction and with little educational intent. It's a science-fiction story taking place in the far future when space travel is in vogue.

  • Il était une fois... la Vie (1986) (Once Upon a Time... Life). The third series in which the human body is explored as Anthropomorphized Anatomy, with the characters acting as various cells and organs.

  • Il était une fois... l'Amérique (1989) (Once Upon a Time... the Americas). The fourth series, telling a chronological history of North, Central and South America.

  • Il était une fois... les Découvreurs (1994) (Once Upon a Time... the Discoverers). The fifth series, a chronological history of famous inventors.

  • Il était une fois... les Explorateurs (1996) (Once Upon a Time... the Explorers). The sixth series, a chronological history about famous explorers.

  • Il était une fois... la Musique (2008) (Once Upon a Time... Music). The seventh series, about the history of music, only released in Spain.

  • Il était une fois... notre Terre (2008) (Once Upon a Time... Planet Earth). The eighth and final series, about environmental issues.

Once Upon a Time... Tropes:

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    Once Upon a Time... every series 
  • Ambiguously Brown: Psi. Her name and nickname allude of Greek origins.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: All series are educational in tone. Sometimes they tend to be a bit too difficult and/or confusing for the target audience by assuming that they already know a lot about the topic. Especially in Il était une fois... l'Homme, certain historical events or people are quickly glossed over or merely name-dropped. Too much time will be spent on zany Slapstick antics involving the main characters instead of explaining historical events more clearly.
  • Art Evolution: Each consecutive series looks more polished and has better animation than the previous one, and the art style goes through some subtle changes too, often reflecting the decade the series was made in. The final series, which aired in 2008, looks radically different.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: The nice characters are more conventionally attractive than Le Teigneux and Le Nabot, the main antagonists.
  • Hammerspace Hair: Maestro tends to hold large objects in his hair.
  • Insufferable Imbecile: Most of the less intelligent characters in this show (e.g. Le Teigneux) are portrayed in a negative light, with Le Gros being the biggest exception.
  • Limited Animation: Made during The Dark Age of Animation and it often shows. Particularly Il était une fois... l'Homme suffers from stiff animation, not always matching up with the soundtrack and characters making odd facial expressions and poses.
  • Minimalist Cast: Four good children, two bad and one old wise man who serves as the narrator, though a lot of generic background characters also pop up. In the historical episodes an anthropomorphized clock appears.
  • National Geographic Nudity: There are occasional adult themes, such as sex and nudity. Sometimes merely suggested, other times casually shown. They probably got away with it because it's all meant to be educational.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Maestro appears to be based on Leonardo da Vinci.
  • Once per Episode: Usually the sneaky small Le Nabot tries to get what he wants, but is thwarted by Pierre and Le Gros. He will run to Le Teigneux a.k.a. the big villain for help, but Gros always fights and defeats Teigneux, causing Nabot to run away in fear.
  • Once Upon a Time: Every series has this phrase in the beginning of its title.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Psi's real name is Mercedes, but nobody ever calls her that, instead using her nickname "Psi".
  • Regular Character: The same characters are shown in each episode — with each episode being a different section of history.
  • Universal-Adaptor Cast: No matter whether they are children or adults, in space or in the human body or what historical time period they're in, the same characters in their distinctive characteristic roles are always re-used. In fact, especially in Man, it's not uncommon to see two or more duplicates of certain characters in the same episode or even at the same time (like Arab versions of Pierre and Le Gros meeting their Frankish counterparts in the "The Conquests of Islam" and "The Carolingians"). At times, they'll even replace an historical figure (Maestro as Phidias and Da Vinci, Le Teigneux as Attila and Thomas Doughty...).
  • Wizard Beard: Maestro, while not a wizard per se, is a wise old mentor figure with a long white beard that covers most of his chest.
  • Women Are Wiser: In the times when Pierre isn't meant in the right, Pierrette tends to gently straighten him up.

    Once Upon a Time... Man 
  • Adolf Hitlarious: The penultimate episode provides a rare Francophone example. Here, Hitler only appears in a newsreel shown in a movie theater, and he is depicted as a bug-eyed goofball whose dialogue is obviously dubbed over by a recording of one of his actual speeches.
  • An Aesop: The last episode, summarizing human history, and then takes a critical stance to the topics of pollution and war. The aesop in question gives humanity a choice: survival, or total destruction within a limited timeframe (in this episode, from "now" till 2150). The end of the episode puts those words in the mouth of Pierre, lecturing the next generation: "The choice is yours." A pretty common aesop in the seventies and beyond.
  • After the End: Ironically enough during the intro of Il était une fois... l'Homme, where people escape Earth before it blows up.
  • Ascended to Carnivorism: Edmontosaurus is shown eating Triceratops eggs.
  • Bad Future: The very last episode, narrating the post-war world, goes far into this territory when recounting how the earth gradually gets more and more polluted, and the cities more and more crowded and unlivable. The core family manages somehow to find a peaceful spot in this mess at the end of the series.
  • The Blacksmith: In the Hundred Years War episode, the former soldiers Le Gros and Pierre arrive to a French village, save it from bandits (led by Le Teigneux) and settle down there. The local blacksmith is impressed and takes Le Gros as his apprentice, and from then on he's seen doing blacksmith work. In a later episode, set in the era of industrial revolution, he is still a blacksmith, presuming his family has been carrying on with the trade for 400 years give or take. The present incarnation of Le Gros goes on to work on the railroad.
  • Bungling Inventor: While Maestro does show inventions, there are plenty of episodes where they break down. In some cases, the mechanical devices explode.
  • Burn the Witch!: The fiery executions of Jan Hus and Joan of Arc are shown onscreen.
  • Butt-Monkey: Le Teigneux. He is always on the wrong end of Le Gros's fist, and is the one to get shot, decapitated or killed in several ways during the series, more than anyone else. At worst, he is prone to die violently almost every other episode.
  • By the Hair: A variation, where the pre-humans pull their desired women by the hair. The women offer no resistance, as if they want to be dragged along.
  • Charlie Chaplin Shout-Out: In the episode about the interbellum the characters watch a Charlie Chaplin film in the theater. It features Chaplin falling down and the audience laughing as a result.
  • Conscription: There's at least two means of conscription shown. The eleventh episode shows a man dragging two to the volunteer booth for the crusades. Later episodes use thugs to force signatures, and an even later one has them sign while drunk.
  • Creator Provincialism: Once Upon a Time... Man has its own problems on occasion. In 26 episodes, aired between 1979 and 1981, the show covers world history from the birth of planet Earth and the evolution of life up to the 1970s. While fairly accurate and attempting to be objective, the show covers important events and eras as seen from a Western perspective. Most of the action takes place in Europe, Western Asia and North Africa. Figures like Pericles, Julius Caesar, Muhammad, Charlemagne and Peter I of Russia get entire episodes devoted to them. But the cultures of the rest of Asia, Africa and pre-Colombian America are hardly represented. For example, out of the entire history of China, only Kublai Khan gets the spotlight treatment and then only through his interactions with Marco Polo. However, unlike a number of examples, this can at least be justified as budget constraints. You can only condense so much global history into 26 episodes at 25 minutes each without becoming too general; as such, it makes sense for an educational children's TV series to show the history of places that are the most immediately important for them — which is, for a French kid, Europe and surroundings. The creators tried to make up for this by making a sequel entitled Once Upon a Time... the Americas, which focused on the history of the Americas, including pre-Colombian times.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The "French Revolution" episode features Pierrette more than usual, being the leader of the women storming the Bastille.
  • Down in the Dumps: The final episode shows attempts to clean up a junkyard that's become aggressive.
  • Dub Name Change: In the English dub of certain episodes (most notably Episodes 10, 11, and 13), Pierre is called Bert and Le Gros (usually called Jumbo) is called Lurch.
  • The Dung Ages: Best shown in Episode 18 ("The Great Reign of Louis XIV"). Truth in Television when you consider that Louis XIV himself took only two baths in his entire life.
  • Eagleland: The episode "America" showcases American history from the Mayflower Voyagers to the beginning of The American Civil War. For a European edutainment show that makes use of Creator Provincialism, this is actually a smart move.
  • Earth That Was: The opening nearly names the trope ("and the Earth... was"). The final episode seems to be narrated by a future space-faring being descended from humans who fled the destruction of Earth, eons before; but at the end the narrator is revealed to be a present-day academic, giving a public lecture in character as such a being.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: The English version plays the trope straight. The original French version has Caesar saying "Toi aussi, mon fils" ("You too, my son"), which is the French translation of the historical quote ("Tu quoque, Brute, fili mi") rather than the Shakespeare one.
  • The Faceless: During the segment about the rise of Islam, The Prophet Muhammad is only ever represented from the back, his face never being seen.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: While it is kept within certain limits, the depiction of historical realities like murderous brutality, implied sexual violence and death can be rather startling with the cartoony imagery of the series.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: In Episode 11 ("Cathedral Building - The Crusades"), Pierre and Maestro create and build huge structures (walls, churches, etc.). At some point, one of the prospective cathedrals collapses and Pierre is pinned under some debris; some bystanders go help him out, including Pierrette who bandages his wounded arm. The next scene has a bed-bound Pierre thanking Pierrette for taking care of him, and soon they're shown Happily Married with three kids.
  • From Beyond the Fourth Wall: The clock at the corner of the screen sometimes reminds characters of an error they're making. For example, Maestro using modern numbers in 350 BC, or a Viking woman upset that her lover isn't monogamous.
  • Ye Goode Olde Days: All of the episodes depict this to some extent.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • The guillotine is only shown chopping the head off a cigar, to symbolize an execution.
    • Averted when Viking Teigneux kills Viking Pierre and then is slain by Viking Pierrot. Probably because there was zero blood.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: The Vikings have difficulty assaulting a fortress. Because of the failure, they approach the castle to parley, saying that their chief was killed in battle — and as such, they wish to convert to Christianity; the chief is to be buried with his weapons as per their tradition. Once inside, the chief jumps out of the coffin, passes the weapons to his allies, and they start the rampage.
  • Judgment of Solomon: Depicted as originally described. Then, a later episode spoofs the judgement with two men fighting over ownership of a pig, with a suggestion to cut the pig in half.
  • Loves Me Not: Happens twice in the series:
    • In "The Cathedral Builders," Le Gros does this with one of the ducks his love interest is selling. Apparently, he has gotten to "she loves me" with the last feather, since the next time we see Le Gros and his girlfriend, they are married and have a baby.
    • In "The Golden Age of Spain," Le Teigneux, who has a crush on Pierrette, does this with the standard flower. However, when he sees that she loves another, namely our hero Pierre, he storms off in a huff.
  • Mugged for Disguise: In the episode set in the Netherlands, Pierre and Le Gros lure a Spanish officer into a trap. They capture him, don his armor and leave him Bound and Gagged while posing has him.
  • National Geographic Nudity: Early episodes have the humans with a breast drawn and uncovered — usually when the woman is carrying her baby. However, there are one or two Discretion Shots or Scenery Censor mixed in. In the "Hundred Years War" episode, Pierrette actually shows off her nipples, although briefly (she is quick to cover behind her bedsheets).
  • Non-Fatal Explosions: During the Storming of the Bastille, a child cheering on the attackers.
  • No-Sell: Jumbo/Le Gros shrugs off any attack. Even weapons used against him break, whether they're clubs, swords, or whips. When history needs it, however, it's subverted. In the "Hundred Years War" episode, he and Pierre are severely beaten by a number of highwaymen (who outnumber them). In the Crusade sequence, he is actually shot in the heart with an arrow and does not survive it (one of the sadder moments in the series).
  • Pillow Pistol: Shown in the French revolution episode.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 by Johann Sebastian Bach is used as the introduction theme. You may sometimes hear other classical Standard Snippets as well.
  • Raptor Attack: Archaeopteryx incorrectly has four fingers on its wings, with the feathers attached at its wrist.
  • Right on Queue: Episode 14, where assassins burst into a house, having the door slammed after the third one. The first three are hung from the window above. The door then opens, asking for the next in line to enter.
  • Road-Sign Reversal: In the episode with the 1890's automobile racing, one group is ahead of the pack, and decides to mess everyone behind by adjusting a road sign to Bordeaux. However, the previous scene showed the sign being spun by a breeze, and the cheaters actually correct the sign before going down the wrong road.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Progress, symbolized by the opening track, which also fast-tracks the entire story from creation to the space age. The main character (Pierre), is seen walking in a steady line through several epochs and periods of human history, changing his clothing on the way. When the medieval era begins, he suddenly stops horrified when the "barbaric" tribes arrive (and then the vikings). The next stop for Pierre is when Le Gros beckons him to assist in building a cathedral. The "walking forward" is also halted by a right-wing turn at the castle of Versailles before a short depiction of the French Revolution. From then on, progress goes faster and faster, by train, and then by cars, until the car becomes a plane, and finally a space rocket. Yet, when the core gang appears in the Cro Magnon episode, they walk from right to left. Later, in the "America" episode, the natives (more or less on the same level of development as the Cro Magnon tribe) walk from left to right, symbolizing that they, given the stated time slot, no longer are in progress.
  • Shout-Out: In the penultimate episode of Il était une fois... l'Homme, the characters watch Charlie Chaplin and Mickey Mouse in the movie theater.
  • Slapstick: A lot of humor is based off of Amusing Injuries.
  • Sleeps in the Nude: Episode 11 states that Medieval people slept nude; the narrator says it while showing a nude Pierre getting out of bed and getting dressed while a presumably also nude Pierrette sleeps next to him.
  • Solid Clouds: A pilot in World War I dives out of the plane and lands on a cloud to catch his breath, before using the parachute to reach the ground.
  • Stock Sound Effects: In Il était une fois... l'Homme, sometimes movie or audio clips are used from 1920's and 1930's films, like Faust by FW Murnau and Valentine by Maurice Chevalier.
  • Totem Pole Trench: The second episode has two children use a grass skirt to look taller.
  • Walk This Way: The episode for Louis XIV has one drill sergeant try to train new recruits. The instructor trips over a rock, tossing the rifle into the air, and hitting the other instructor. The three recruits do the exact same thing, landing their thrown rifles on the same instructor.
  • William Telling: In the Viking episode, one of the contests Viking Pierre has with Viking Teigneux is shooting a ball off the son's head with a bow and arrow. Pierre succeeds, but Teigneux gets (understandably) hesitant; even when he fires his arrow within a foot from his son, he ends up shooting through Maestro's beard hair (though, thankfully, not his body).

    Once Upon a Time... Space 
  • 2-D Space: In the penultimate episode, the admiral of the Cassiopeian fleet talks several times about lines of ships, when in a three-dimensional space one would be talking of walls, even if both his fleet and the Humanoid one are deployed so. As if space was an ocean.
  • Absent-Minded Professor: Maestro as commented in the tropes for all series.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: General Pest, Glorious Leader of Cassiopeia — said to be chosen because masses follow him. From using slaves to build a massive base in a planet near of a star close to going supernova (and when it happens preferring to save first the hardware and later the people) to allying with the Humanoids hoping to betray them later.
  • Artistic License – Space: Despite this cartoon having an educational side teaching basic astronomical concepts, there're some examples of this trope. Most notably, the different alien races are said to come from different constellations — examples include Auriga, Cassiopeia, Centaurus, and many others, with Cassiopeia even using the W formed by the brightest stars as seen from Earth as their symbol, when from their homestars those constellations would be unrecognizable as the stars that form them are usually at very different distances one of each other. This goes even further in the episode three ("The Green Planet"), where we see and are said how Cassiopeia controls several and even two crude starmaps showing those asterisms can be seen as background.
  • Asteroid Thicket: Several examples, starting with Sol's one as appears quite prominently on the show's opening credits. Avoided, however, with the rings of Saturn who appear as dense as in Real Life.
  • Battle Theme Music: Four different music pieces are used for combat scenes.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In the episode "A Planet Blown to Pieces", Le Gros wishes Kohler's Sun exploded as supernova as the Omega Confederation will be unable to complete in time its heavy cruisers to counter Cassiopeia's attack. Guess what happens shortly after.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The episode "The Giants" takes place in a planet inhabited by giant insects such as termites. There's a Giant Spider there, too.
  • Cool Starship: Lots of them, from the Cassiopeian Murene and Nautilus to the Omega Confederation heavy cruisers or the Ursus freighter.
  • Compilation Movie: In the early days of Nickelodeon, they would sometimes broadcast a compilation movie of Revenge of the Humanoids on their weekend Special Delivery block.
  • Constellations as Locations: Cassiopeia is said to control the neighboring constellations of Cepheus, Draco, and Andromeda, and aliens are described as coming from constellations such as Auriga or Centaurus.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • The near-complete destruction of the Cassiopeian Navy by the Humanoids in the episode "The Battle of the Titans".
    • The ending of the series, with the Humanoids being destroyed by the beings of light met by Psi in the episode "The Infinity of Space" counts too.
  • Deflector Shields: There're at least two types: magnetic ones, used by the Confederation to deflect metallic asteroids, and subnucleonic ones, used by the Humanoids.
  • Do-Anything Robot: Metro, the robot built by Maestro and sidekick of the two main protagonists, who looks a lot like its maker. Of the many abilities it has, the most used are a pair of antennae that can be used to hack into another robots or computers, Eye Beams (Ray Guns), wheels, and can open the plates of its body to become a helicopter.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: The Humanoids demand that rather often, as they don't want to kill the livings else but conquer and educate them and know they have an overwhelming advantage in firepower.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom:
    • The Humanoids try their planet-destroying ship, actually formed of six smaller vessels that join together, with what looks like a Moon-like planet. After defeating the Cassiopeians, the Great Computer menaces to do that with their homeworld if they do not surrender.
    • There're two others involving stars, one of them natural when an unstable star (Kohler's Sun if memory is correct) goes supernova, in the episode "A Planet Blown to Pieces", and the other of them induced by energy beings to destroy the Humanoid fleet in the last one.
  • Energy Beings: Psi, the female protagonist who has psionic abilities, knows some of them who destroy the Great Computer and its fleet in the last episode.
  • Fictional Constellations: The "constellation" of the Triton is actually a multiple star system formed by a red supergiant star orbited by a white dwarf and a red dwarf.
  • The Future: The show takes place in the year 3000.
  • The Future Will Be Better: Even if there's evil aliens and other menaces, the show presents a galaxy where different alien races live in peace and the Earth is recovering (see Humans Are Bastards below).
  • Getting Hot in Here: At the beginning of the "Revenge of the Humanoids" story arc, the spaceship of Peter and Psi crash-lands on a desert planet and the internal heat regulator is busted. This leads the male and female leads to strip off their tops. The desert part of the trope is then averted when they venture outside, though, as they wear heat-repellent suits.
  • Hammerspace: Metro. As his maker within his beard, he stores a lot of things between the plates that make its body. He qualifies, too, as Hyperspace Arsenal.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Fleet officers of all sides seem to be very fond of having their ships flying in very compact formations, even if there's more than plenty of space to deploy their ships and if it's a very bad idea as can be seen next:
    • At the end of the episode "A Planet Blown to Pieces", when a fleet of five Cassiopeian warships go to the planet where they have their base even if that planet was destroyed by the Kohler's Sun becoming supernova. The flaming meteors produced by the supernova (don't ask) impact in one of the ships blowing it up, its debris hitting the other four and destroying all but one of them.
    • "The Battle of the Titans" features even better ones starting with the (admittedly cool and even more with the background music) shots of the Cassiopeian navy marching to battle. During the battle with the Humanoid fleet, the first shots of the latter destroy many ships of the first battle line (battle wall actually) being so tightly deployed. Much later, one unfortunate Nautilus is blown apart both by Humanoid fire as well as debris from another that was close and was hit at the same time. Finally, at the end of the episode, the ship where Pierrot and his crew landed and left explosive charges blows up apart destroying in a chain reaction what seems to be a sizable chunk of the Humanoid navy.
  • Human Aliens: Those prehistoric humans in one planet of the Andromeda Galaxy in "The Cro-Magnons".
  • Humanoid Aliens: Some in the Omega Confederation and others not.
  • Humans Are Bastards: The episode "The Long Voyage" features a ship launched by the Earth in the 21st century and that finds Omega. One of the things they bring is a set of what look like video tapes depicting the human species in a good, lighthearted and optimistic way, that are stolen by Cassiopeian agents and played in their planet. Among other things, the video starts with two hunters shooting a deer, continues showing a heavily polluted, over-populated planet and a huge traffic jam said to last more than a day and having beaten a previous record, and ends showing tanks and nuclear missile-launching trucks boasting with the high number of explosives per inhabitant on Earth.
  • Human Subspecies: Some dialog and images (in the episode "Earth") suggest what seem to be alien races may actually be that.
  • Insignificant Little Blue Planet: While the leaders of the Omega Confederation are humans, Earth itself is just a minor member of it.
  • Insufferable Genius: Metro. He's arrogant, always bragging of his ability to do various things better than humans and other robots, and then doing it, assuming he hasn't already done it. Best shown by the events of "The Revolt of the Robots" and "The Revenge of the Robots": in the first he declared he'd defeat the much larger combat robot Goldenbar, and then, after reminding him of David and Goliath, gave him an hilarious beating before getting pissed at Goldenbar's one successful hit and brutally destroying it; after that battle he would sometimes brag about defeating Goldenbar until "The Revenge of the Robots", where he had to deal with the improved Goldenbar II and Goldenbar III, at which point he started bragging about destroying Goldenbar III (because Goldenbar II wasn't that hard to defeat, but Goldenbar III was).
  • The Juggernaut:
    • The Nautilus warships of Cassiopeia are proved to be more than a match for the Omega warships, until the Confederation develops heavy cruisers to counter them.
    • The greatest Humanoid warships qualify too, mopping the floor with an armada of Nautilus.
    • The rocket featured in the episode "The Unstoppable Menace", launched by the Humanoids against Earth. Faster than any other ship of the Confederation (see below), impossible to intercept, and protected by a very powerful shield. Pierrot and his friends are able to intercept it, slip through the shield, and change its course to the Sun. Later is known the Humanoids planned to have it burning on Earth's atmosphere without hitting it — unlike what Pest wanted.
    • The heavy cruisers of the Omega Confederation are presented as a ship able to defend against any threat. They, however, never fire their weapons in anger during all the series.
    • On smaller scale, the combat robot Goldenbar III. Where Metro could inflict a Curb-Stomp Battle on the first model and quickly found a way to blow up the second, Goldenbar III was impervious to anything Metro had. Unluckily for him, Goldenbar wasn't that bright, and Metro found four different ways to destroy it (because Goldenbar III could create up to four alter-egos. Two were destroyed in one go).
  • Lightspeed Leapfrog: In an episode, the first interstellar spaceship from Earth — a Sleeper Ship believed lost for nearly a millennium — arrives unannounced to its destination, near Omega. The crew has to cope with the fact that humankind has already colonized space in their absence, and their thousand-year journey now takes about a week.
  • Master Computer: The Great Computer.
  • Meaningful Name: Yama, the planet from which the Humanoids come from.
  • Number Two for Brains: The Dwarf, Consul of Cassiopeia and General Pest's second-in-command. Besides serving as a representative of Cassiopeia for Omega and the Humanoids among others, in all the series he does little more than flatter Pest.
  • Old-School Dogfight: Space battles follow this trope quite well, with ships being really close to each other when fighting (within what seems as visual range) and moving — the most maneuverable ones, at least — like planes. For large fleet engagements, however, Standard Starship Scuffle applies.
  • Only Sane Man: The few senators of Cassiopeia, who include a long-beard equivalent of Maestro, described as liberals, are against General Pest's militaristic antics and want to come back to the Confederation. They are worried about the alliance with the Great Computer, and finally are against going to war with Omega, even asking Pest to join forces with them against The Great Computer's fleet when it sends an unconditional surrender message to Cassiopeia.
  • The Paralyzer: Paralyzing guns are standard sidearms for the Space Police, although they have deadlier Ray Guns too. Interestingly enough, the protagonists use the paralyzers against living targets; against non-living ones such as robots they use the lethal guns. As seen in "In the Land of the Dinosaurs", though, the paralyzers aren't terribly efficient against large predators, only affecting them for a few seconds.
  • Planet of Hats: In several episodes the protagonists travel to planets that turn around this trope, such as a planet inhabited by the Greek Gods (episode "The Planet Mytho"), other by Incas (episode "The Incas"), and other by prehistoric humans — oddly enough, this one is in the Andromeda Galaxy — in "The Cro-Magnons".
  • Point Defenseless: The Nautilus as seen in the episode "A Planet Blown to Pieces". After finding how it's nigh invulnerable to the Omega warships attacking it as well as destroying one of their vessels, Pierrot has the ship where he's dodging the shots of the Nautilus and approaching it to point-blank range to torpedo the enemy ship down the throat.
  • Raptor Attack: "In the Land of the Dinosaurs" features a nest-raiding Deinonychus that looks more like a downsized Tyrannosaurus. Later on, we see an Archaeopteryx that eats a lizard and then falls prey to a constrictor snake.
  • Robot War:
    • The conflict first between the Humanoid and Cassiopeian forces, and when the latter are defeated the one between the Humanoids and Omega. There're two other episodes ("The Revolt of the Robots" and "The Revenge of the Robots") where this trope appears too. Both other instances are revealed to have been engineered by the Humanoids.
    • There is another in the backstory of Earth: while Earth was recovering from World War III, computers had been put in control of most aspects of human life, only to become so pervasive and annoying that mankind at one point collectively decided to demolish them. While it was a fast war, as the computers' enforcers were all humans and just as pissed as the rest of mankind, that generated an ingrained mistrust of artificial intelligence that is both the reason for Metro suffering from mild discrimination and is the indirect cause of the others.note 
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: In "Towards Andromeda", the Omega Confederation as well as Cassiopeia are implied to have arrived so far away as NGC 7052, a galaxy at around 190 million light-years from the Milky Way (assuming they're referring to what we know as NGC 7052 in Real Life). Also one of the races that form the Omega Confederation says to come from the Andromeda Galaxy itself, acting as proxies of Cassiopeia in the council fearing them.
  • Shapeshifter Showdown: Psi is prisoner of the Humanoids, and they try to interrogate her for information. To this end, they bring a Cassiopeian telepath who tries to read her mind, but Psi's own Psychic Powers proves to be a match. The ensuing Battle in the Center of the Mind takes this form, the telepath first taking the shape of a giant rat in her mind, which she counters by turning into a cat. The caught rat then turn into a snake, and Psi counters with a coyote, etc. This quickly escalates to a battle between Kaiju-like monsters and dinosaurs.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One race that comes from the Andromeda Galaxy look like green-skinned Andorians (from Star Trek), and like them they're heavily militarized and aggressive (second only to the Cassiopeians).
    • There're also other shout-outs in the dialog, such as when the Computer greets the people from Omega using the phrase "Welcome to the Rendezvous with Yama".
    • In the episode "Earth", we visit an Earth that is recovering of centuries of pollution and worse and there's an orbiting theme park named "Barillé's Land". Albert Barillé was the creator of the series.
    • Metro is described as a positronic brain android, the same as Isaac Asimov's robots.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • In one of the episodes ("The Rings of Saturn") the protagonists visit the largest planets of the Solar System. While the moons of Jupiter are described in some detail showing the knowledge of them that existed at the epoch the cartoon was made (what the Voyager probes found there in 1979 and 1980 such as a ring around Jupiter or the volcans of Io), the moons of the others are described much more vaguely and even appear as nearly featureless orbs since at that time knowledge about that topic was very limited. This can be noted, too, in the opening credits.
    • The times given for the rocket that appears on the episode "The Unstoppable Menace" to cross the orbit of the different planets of the Solar System are consistent with it moving at around 240,000 kilometers per second (0.8 times the speed of light).
    • In the episode "A Planet Blown to Pieces" Maestro lists the supernovae that have taken place in the Milky Way. After mentioning the one that appeared in 1604 in Ophiuchus and while he's attempting to remember the next, he's interrupted and the conversation follows with another topic. The last recorded supernova that took place in our galaxy is SN1604, in that constellation.
  • Sleeper Ship: The first interstellar mission to leave Earth, which arrives unexpectedly near Omega after having been though lost for a millennium, was of this kind.
  • Space Is Air: See Old-School Dogfight above.
  • Space Is Noisy: From the sounds made by the engines of ships to the one caused by their weapons. Not that it's exclusive just to this show, though.
  • Starfish Aliens: Some alien races mentioned in the episode "The Cro-Magnons".
  • Start of Darkness: The creator of the Great Computer started out as an Insufferable Genius at worst, and certainly he had many good points. When on Yama and helping the local colonists he was even considering revising his ideas... Then the colonists trashed his lab because he preferred to make extremely useful robots and have them do the hard work rather than using the limited physical strength of his aged body to do it himself, and decided that sentients were just too stupid to be left unchecked and needed to be forced under the rule of the smarter Great Computer he built specifically for that.
  • Telepathy: Psi (also known as Mercedes or Kira in other languages).
  • Terror-dactyl: In "In the Land of the Dinosaurs", the protagonists get attacked by oversized Rhamphorhynchus.
  • Theme-and-Variations Soundtrack: The soundtrack of this series has some themes that follow this trope, being variants in different musical styles of a single theme (from synthesizer or jazz to chamber or orchestral music).
  • Theme Music Abandonment: Or maybe Executive Meddling. In the Spanish doubling the title song and the ending credits song in the latest episodes were changed by the very different theme sang by Parchís, a child band very famous in Spain at the time. See it by yourself
  • Too Dumb to Live: Psi in the episode "The Rings of Saturn". Her ship is chased by Humanoid fighters into the (dense as hell) Solar System's asteroid belt. After playing cat-and-mouse with them hiding among space rocks she decides to enter hyperspace within the belt, ignoring Metro's warnings of that being a very bad idea. Of course she crashes into an asteroid. After that, with the ship destroyed and Metro out of commission, and while near death she telepathically communicates with Peter and is rescued by him.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: The robots in the episodes "The Revolt of the Robots" and "The Revenge of the Robots", both taking place in the same planet and wanting to be treated as humans.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Great Computer and the scientist who created it, who offered it to their fellows as a way to have the humans living in peace. The scientist first proposed it to prevent the rise of new dictators (such as Pest, that came centuries after the proposal), and after being laughed out of Earth he moved to Yama, and when colonists arrived he tried to help them with his robots... Only for them to wreck his lab because he preferred do the most useful thing he could instead of coming out and building houses with his own hands and limited physical strength, at which point he decided humans are too stupid to be allowed to be free and built combat robots to subdue the colonists on both Yama and the nearby Apis and force them to have limited technology, and then built the Great Computer to extend his control to the known space and find a better way to give them peace (the Great Computer hasn't succeeded yet, but it's experimenting).
  • What a Senseless Waste of Human Life: During the battle between the Cassiopeia and Humanoid fleets, and when their finest warships, the Nautilus-class, are being slaughtered by dozens, one of the officers onboard the flagship begs the admiral to think about how useless is the battle and how it's more of a suicide. In the same battle, the Humanoids tell two times their opponents to surrender, the third and last one coming with the threat of destroying their homeworld if they don't comply.
  • World Tree: A big, sentient tree found in one lush planet of the Pegasus sector without intelligent animal life, that appears in the episode "The Green Planet". It turns it dislikes those people who mess with nature.
  • World War III: According the episode "Earth", that narrates the backstory of that planet, there was that followed by a "Second Renaissance" (or something alike) — an epoch of, by the way, Crystal Spires and Togas.

    Once Upon a Time... Life 
  • Anthropomorphized Anatomy: Most of the characters are personification of white cells, red cells, microbes, virus, nutrients, and "workers" inside the cells themselves. They do look like the Universal-Adaptor Cast of the other series in the franchise, and we do also see the humans whose activities lead to whatever drama happens inside their bodies.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: Pierre's grandfather is very old. Inside his body, we see that things keep falling apart and repairs don't always work. The cells are shown to have aged. Once Pierre's grandfather passes away on his death bed, the cells all acknowledge that this is the end. After a Time Skip, we see Psi has given birth to a baby boy. The cells inside the baby are young, even Maestro who has much shorter beard.
  • Disease-Prevention Aesop: Frequent within the episodes, both on the human side of the show and within the body. For example by demonstrating the importance of physical exercise or vaccination.
  • Eating the Enemy: The white blood cells look like comical policemen, but have no compunctions about devouring viruses and bacteria whole.
  • Explosive Breeder: Like its real-life counterpart, virus/Le Nabot attacks a cell, causing it to explode with hundred of copies of itself spreading out.
  • Ghost in the Machine: This metaphor is used extensively, up to the point that the nucleii of every cell in the body were represented by fully staffed command centers. Maestro runs the brain.
  • G-Rated Sex: The opening has Pierre's father and mother embracing while naked (you don't see their naughty bits). They both float in the air and merge into a sphere and fly far away into the sky. The sphere explode in a shower of bright lights and a young Pierre lands softly on the ground, also naked. As the opening continues, Pierre grows up into adulthood and at the end, he embraces Psi and the cycle begins anew.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Devouring too many hostiles will kill a white blood cellnote , but that doesn't deter them from rushing into battle.
  • Homage: To reflect how iodine is a rare but precious element for the human body, one character inspired by Molière's The Miser is seen hoarding iodine, like Harpagon was hoarding gold. More specifically, he looks like the version of Harpagon played by Louis de Funès in his film adaptation of the play.
  • Mission Control: Maestro is in command inside the body and lay the orders to cells from his control room.
  • Monstrous Germs: Germs are portrayed as ugly blue humanoids with facial features resembling Le Teigneux, and viruses as yellow, worm-like creatures with faces resembling Le Nabot.
  • Mr. Exposition: The three red blood cells show up in practically every episode to explain what's going on (with the old guy serving this trope while the two others being Watsons). Justified since blood vessels are connected to everything in the body.
  • Nature Tinkling: The episode about the toxins ends with a child peeing in front of a tree.
  • Reincarnation: The cells and enzymes in the body mention "past lives", and we see a newly born red blood cell shaped like a kid version of Maestro after the one shaped like Maestro dies.
  • Shout-Out: The antibodies that fight against the tetanus toxins are spoofing Cyrano de Bergerac.
  • Sleepy Head: The chromosomes are always shown sleeping in beds.
  • Sticky Situation: The episode about the polluant toxins shows the enzyme responsible for gluing the RNA ribbons struggling with his big glue stick, ending up spreading the stuff everywhere and getting stuck in it.

Alternative Title(s): Onceuponatime


Maestro's Death

Maestro dies with his eyes closed.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

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Main / BigSleep

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