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Western Animation / Inspector Gadget

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Go-Go Gadget Caption!

"Go, Gadget, Go!"

A light-hearted mix of The Six Million Dollar Man (sort of), Get Smart (heavily) and The Pink Panther, Inspector Gadget was an animated crime-fighting cyborg police detective who traveled the world "solving" crimes.

His namesake body was loaded with an assortment of non-lethal slapstick crime-fighting tools that he could activate by saying aloud "Go-Go Gadget..." and then naming the tool he wanted to use. Among the most prominent were his telescoping arms, spring loaded legs, inflatable trench coat, a hat that contained a helicopter propeller that allowed him to fly, and a miniature laser gun built into one finger. (But given the tone of the show, never had to use it to lethally blast anyone)

Actor Don Adams provided Inspector Gadget's voice, and much of the inspiration for the character was drawn from Adams' live-action portrayal of bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart in Get Smart. Also carried over from the live-action show was the manner in which Gadget received his orders from his superiors. Chief Quimby would contact Gadget on a built-in telephone and arrange a meeting, giving Gadget his intelligence on a self-destructing sheet of paper. Later on in the series veteran voice actor Maurice LaMarche would take over the role of Gadget.

Gadget's nemesis throughout the series were agents of the MAD organization: a global crime syndicate with operatives just about everywhere who specialized in the looting of national treasures and world financial markets. Swiss gold reserves, the Amsterdam diamond exchange and Egyptian artifacts were just some of the financial and cultural properties targeted by MAD at some point. It also gave excuses to send Gadget and company to exotic locales such as the Amazon River, the Andes Mountains or the African savannahs.

By the second season, the action focused less on traveling the world and stayed localized to Gadget's Metropolis-esque home town of Metro City. These episodes featured MAD scientists (both literally and figuratively) inventing new technologies for MAD agents to commit mundane crimes with a sci-fi twist. A machine that hypnotized normal people into robbing banks, shrink-rays, plant-growing chemicals and a teleporter that sent users though normal phone lines were all featured.

Pulling the strings of the MAD cabal was the nefarious Dr. Claw, a (mostly) never-seen Big Bad who ended each episode defeated, declaring he'd get Gadget the next time.

Much of the actual detective work of the series was performed by Gadget's niece, Penny, and the family dog Brain, who was a master of disguise. The duo would solve the case behind the scenes using Penny's high-tech "computer book" (a laptop before such a thing was invented which could receive data seventeen years before wi-fi became a consumer technology) while Gadget's gadgets would send him careering about the landscape like Remington Steele on roller-skates. Penny would have many close scrapes and exciting adventures of her own. She would oftentimes get captured and either imprisoned or tied up, and require rescue, or manage to escape on her own.

Penny and Brain never took credit for their work, leading others to regard Gadget as a brilliant detective, and several comical attempts on his life were made by MAD assassins. Gadget would invariably mistake these assassins for helpful allies and would always assume the disguised Brain was an enemy agent.

Indeed, Penny's role in the cartoon's plot is so vital that the show actually works pretty well if you remove Gadget himself from it and focus only on Penny.

Despite its many varied locales and plots, the show was Strictly Formula, using the above-mentioned plot elements in literally every single episode, albeit sometimes with creative variations. For example, sometimes Penny makes friends with other kids who help her out with her investigations. Gadget could also sometimes stop Claw himself through his buffoonery, or even show more isolated moments of competence if the plot required it.

A total of 86 episodes were produced by DiC Entertainment for syndication between 1983 and 1985, though the 1992 Christmas Special Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas shares many similarities with season 2 in art style, cast, and script, and could be seen as the series finale. Gadget stayed on in syndication well into the 1990s before being largely retired. Maurice LaMarche also made a Live-Action appearance as Gadget on The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!.

After the series ended, Gadget saw himself in a bunch of other media:

  • Television series:
    • Gadget Boy & Heather (1995) - Shares the basic concept of the original series, but the star is a little kid instead of a grown adult and otherwise shares nothing in common with the source.
    • Gadget and the Gadgetinis (2001) - A spinoff where Gadget is joined by two sidekicks, the titular Gadgetinis.
    • Inspector Gadget (2015) - A CGI sequel which introduces Dr. Claw's teenage son as another antagonist.

  • Movies/Specials:
    • Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas (1992) - A Made-for-TV Movie where Gadget heads to the North Pole to save Santa Claus from Dr. Claw.
    • Inspector Gadget's Field Trip (1996) - A series of educational videos where Gadget teaches kids all about international locales.
    • Inspector Gadget (1999) - Gadget's big screen debut, played by Matthew Broderick and distributed by Disney. A heavy case of both Darker and Edgier and In Name Only compared to the original cartoon.
    • Inspector Gadget: Gadget's Greatest Gadgets (1999) - Created to ride off the coattails of the first-live action movie, this VHS tape features three episodes of the original show with brand new wrap-around segments. First time Gadget is played by Maurice LaMarche in animation.
    • Inspector Gadget's Last Case: Claw's Revenge (2002) - Animated movie where Gadget has his final showdown with Dr. Claw. Was, in fact, ''not'' Gadget's last case.
    • Inspector Gadget's Biggest Case Ever (2005) - CGI animated movie that seems to take from the live-action films moreso than the cartoon. Featured Bernie Mac as Gadget's car.

  • Video Games:
    • Inspector Gadget and the Circus of Fear (1987) - Platformer for the Commodore 64. Gadget has to investigate mysterious disappearances and how they're connected to the International Circus.
    • Inspector Gadget: Mission 1 - Global Terror! (1992) - Adventure game for MS-DOS. Instead of controlling Gadget, the player controls Penny and Brain as they help Gadget save kidnapped UN Representatives.
    • Inspector Gadget (1993) - Side-scrolling action game for the SNES where Gadget has to save Penny after she's kidnapped by MAD.
    • Inspector Gadget: Operation Madkactus - Action side-scroller for the Game Boy Color. Players control Gadget, Penny, and Brain as they aim to stop Dr. Claw from unleashing the Madkactus virus.
    • Gadget and the Gadgetinis (2004) - A 3D platformer for the Playstation 2 and PC based on the spinoff. Players switch between controlling Gadget and the Gadgetinis depending on the level.
    • Inspector Gadget: Gadget's Crazy Maze (2001) - Puzzle game for the original PlayStation where Gadget has to stop MAD from hypnotizing the world.
    • Inspector Gadget: Advance Mission (2001) - Action game for the Game Boy Advance where the player controls Gadget to stop MAD from using a brainwashing machine to make everyone insane.
    • Inspector Gadget: Mad Robots Invasion (2003) - A PlayStation 2 2.5D platformer game where Gadget has to progress through five levels to defeat MAD and rescue Penny and Brain.
    • Inspector Gadget: MAD Time Party (2023) - A party/open-world game for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and Steam, where Gadget must contend against his ancestors to build a time machine to travel back in time and rescue Metro City from MAD's reign.

Gadget was also DiC's mascot for many years, most notably providing the EasyPlay DVD tutorials in that position.

Go-Go Gadget Tropes!

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Gadget encountered one in the episode "Prince of the Gypsies".
  • Academy of Evil: The episode "M.A.D. Academy" has gadget assigned to take down one of these.
  • Accidental Hero: Although Penny and Brain are typically the ones who actually realize what's going on and save the day, Gadget's screw-ups are often an enormous help to them. Of course, he intends to solve crime and stop the bad guys, but he only ever succeeds accidentally (with a handful of exceptions).
  • Accidental Misnaming: Gadget frequently refers to Corporal Capeman as "Capman". Capeman never seems to mind or bother to correct him.
  • Action Girl: Penny, who often truly saved the day. When a M.A.D. Agent leaves Penny Bound and Gagged, more often than not Penny is be able to free herself from danger and continue with the case.
  • Action-Hogging Opening: The opening shows Gadget being more competent than he is in the actual show. The same goes for Gadget Boy in his show's opening.
  • Actor Allusion: Seeing as Gadget is essentially Maxwell Smart AS A CYBORG, it makes sense that he'd be voiced by Maxwell himself, Don Adams.note 
    • At the end of at least one episode, Gadget even says "Sorry about that, Chief.".
    • In the opening credits, Gadget goes through a series of secret doors to get an assignment from Chief Quimby in a clear allusion to Get Smart's opening credits.
  • Ad Bumpers: As with most syndicated series. However, the ones before the safety tip segments (and the closing credits) would have Dr. Claw take over the first bumper,note  although the second bumper would still have Frank Welkernote .
  • Adults Are Useless: Were it not for a 10-year-old girl and her pet dog, the world would have fallen to MAD years ago. However, when Gadget knows Penny is in danger, he becomes scarily competent.
  • Alcohol Hic: Gadget lets out one "Race to the Finish".
  • All Men Are Perverts: Whenever there is an attractive female M.A.D. Agent, you can almost always count on Gadget falling for her.
  • All There in the Manual: Merchandise of the show and early advertisements from back in the early 1980's, along with a Little Golden Book from 1984 (Inspector Gadget in Africa), revealed that MAD stands for Mean And Dirty.
    • Other pieces of merchandise say it stands for Malevolent Agency of Destruction.
    • Where'd Inspector Gadget get those wonderful toys? According to his action figure, the hospital installed them while treating him for injuries he'd sustained from slipping on a Banana Peel.
      • This also is explained as where he got the toys in the Live Action Adaptation. Only he is blown up in his car by Dr. Claw, resulting in severe injuries and slight amnesia.
    • The recurring M.A.D. Agents we see in every episode have names, although they were only used on their design sheets and in the scripts of the episodes. The names of the M.A.D. Agents are: Fred (big man, crooked nose, flat head), Lenny (big guy, bulbous nose), Dick (skinny man), Slick (resembles Dick, but with white hair, a mustache, and a goatee), Pops (A bald, hunched-over man with a large chin), Bruce (muscular man with a large chin), Squirt (short man with scrunched-up face), and Jarvis (fat, balding man).
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song:
  • Always on Duty: The inspector is quick to inform everyone he meets that he is in fact, always on duty. Of course, this means that Penny and Brain are, too.
  • Ambiguously Gay: M.A.D. Agent Presto Change-O from the episode "The Infiltration", who had a somewhat flamboyant demeanor and informed Dr. Claw that he kept his chair warm in a somewhat flirtatious tone of voice. Although, that said, it may be part of his stage persona.
  • Ambiguously Human: The Grappler in "Gadget Meets The Grappler". He looks human, but seems to also have abilities that no human could stand, in addition to looking like Frankenstein's monster.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: At the end of each episode, as per the standard at the time, Gadget, Penny and Brain would teach the kids a safety tip like "exercise is good for you" or "always wear a seatbelt". Where it gets weird is, it's always Gadget providing wise advice to Penny. This complete reversal of his usual stupidity is blatant enough to suggest he's actually been trolling her and Brain in the main show all this time. In the first season, it was typically related to the episode in some way ("Down on the Farm" had safety about farm animals and equipment, "Health Spa" had advice about exercise and good health, "Race to the Finish" had automobile safety, "Basic Training" had train safety, etc.) or would relate to something that happened in the episode.
  • Animation Bump: The TMS episodes animated by Shingo Araki's animation unit, including "The Curse of the Pharaoh," "The Coo-Coo Clock Caper," "The Bermuda Triangle," "Did You Myth Me?" and "Unhenged." In these episodes, the animation and designs are of a noticeably higher quality, with slightly rounded designs and more detailed facial features, and the movements are fuller and cartoonier. The Telecom animation directors such as Saburo Hashimoto, Nobuo Tomizawa and Toshihiko Masuda also contributed some high-quality animation as well.
  • Animesque: Due to the fact the animation were mainly outsourced to Japanese studios. Though it is more obvious in season 2.
  • Anti-Villain: The Grappler in "Gadget Meets the Grappler", a hulking Frankenstein-type character who doesn't want to be evil, but is only this way because of his boss Dr. Dummkopf. In reality, the Grappler is Innocently Insensitive and has a mental age of a toddler.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: In "The Invasion," Gadget insists that there are no such thing as Martians. He concludes that the invasion force in Metro City (actually MAD henchmen) are Venusians.
  • Arc Villain: Prominently used in the second season, where most of the season consisted of three-episode story arcs that each featured the same M.A.D. Agent(s), who all commit crimes based on a specific theme and never get caught. The first arc had The Great Wambini and the Lesser Wambini, the second arc had Professor Duumkopf, the third arc had Dr. Spectrum, the next arc had Dr. Null and Dr. Void, the penultimate arc had Thelma Botkin, and the final three-episode arc had Dr. Claw's mentor Les Renowned.
  • Arch-Enemy: Dr. Claw.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Emerald Duck, MacGuffin of the episode of the same name, which activates a certain Doomsday Device.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care: The villain in "Birds of a Feather" uses a flock of assorted birds to commit crimes and is about to feed birdseed to them before being ordered by Dr. Claw to get rid of Gadget. Birdseed would be unsuitable for these species; one is a hummingbird which feeds on flower nectar and tree sap. The other birds resemble raptors (one is identified as a condor by Penny), most likely eating meat.
  • Artistic License – Economics: Despite what Penny says, Dr Claw's plan in one episode to get a formula to change lead into gold would not destabilize the world economy, as most of the world is not on the gold standard. However, giving the enormous amount of lead that Dr Claw had been stockpiling, if the formula had actually worked, he'd have ended up with enough gold to seriously distort its market value.
  • Ash Face: Non-Fatal Explosions usually result in this. Regular victims include Chief Quimby (Once per Episode with the self-destructing message always ending up in his face or in his hands) and Brain.
  • Ass in a Lion Skin: Brain often dresses up as other animals as part of his many disguises, with variable levels of realism. They always fool Gadget, nonetheless.
  • Badass Adorable: Penny. And Brain, occasionally.
  • Badass Normal: While overshadowed by Gadget's superhuman powers and those of some of the opposition (and her own Hollywood Hacking), Penny's demonstrated physical feats throughout the series add up to special forces-level athletics. She can swim for long distances underwater (and in her clothes), climb ropes and mountains alike with little effort, sneak into fortesses, pull up literal cliffhangers, pick locks, is basically an Escape Artist and can shoot accurately at long distances with a bow or blowdart gun.
  • Balloon-Bursting Bird: Frequently happened with Gadget and his inflatable coat.
  • Banana Peel: In a surprisingly realistic depiction for a children's cartoon, Gadget becomes a cyborg super-investigator (well, sort of) after suffering serious injuries from getting tripped up by one.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Poor, poor Brain...
    • Subverted in a few episodes when Gadget is the one who saves Brain. Notable examples include Photo Safari (when he saves himself, Penny and Brain from crashing after MAD agents sabotage their plane), MAD Trap (when he saves himself, Penny and Brain from being burned alive by a fire), The Bermuda Triangle (when he uses his copter to escape from an exploding ship and takes a disguised Brain with him), The Great Divide (when he saves himself and Brain from being crushed by a cave-in), Did You Myth Me and Tree Guesses (in both episodes, Gadget thinks the disguised Brain is an enemy agent and catches him before he'd fall to his death).
  • Berserk Button: Dr. Focus reacted badly to anyone who called him a Mad Scientist, or even when the term "M.A.D." is used. And then there was the fact that Dr. Claw would burst into fits of rage whenever he saw, or even simply had to mention Gadget.
    • Apparently finding out someone is messing with Penny is enough to make Gadget act competent.
  • Big Bad: Dr. Claw.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase:
    • Penny occasionally borrows/inherits Gadget's "Wowsers!", though unlike her uncle when she says it it's almost never Played for Laughs. Brain also said "Wowsers!" in an episode of the second season.
    • Penny has also said "Go Go Gadgetmobile" and "Go Go Gadget Claw" when she's the one activating them rather than Gadget.
    • In "Down on the Farm", when Chief Quimby contacts Gadget, it's Penny who exclaims, "That's the top-secret Gadget-Phone!"
  • Body Horror: What may happen if you start to think about how and WHERE the different gadgets fit into his body.
  • Bound and Gagged: Happens to Penny frequently.
    • Gadget himself is not exempt, although it doesn't happen to him nearly as often.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: In Biggest Caper Ever, Mayor Markham tells Chief Quimby that the merchandise being sold at the Hatchfest includes Giant Flying Lizard balloons, Giant Flying Lizard mating call CDs, and guano-at-the-bottom yogurt.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: "Snakin' All Over" starts in winter, with the Gadget household covered in snow. To which Gadget quips:
    "I haven't seen this much snow since that episode in the Arctic!"
  • British Teeth: The Master of Disguise villain Presto Change-O in "The Infiltration" has this trait, and it also visible when he disguises himself as someone else (including his impersonation as Inspector Gadget, where his British teeth are still clearly visible.)
  • Busman's Holiday: Gadget frequently finds himself assigned to cases while technically off duty, even though one of his catchphrases is "I'm always on duty!"
  • Calling Your Attacks: Every time Gadget is going to use one of his gadgets, he says, "Go-Go Gadget Copter/Mallet/Phone/Scissors/Laser/Skates/Radar/Arms/Legs/Coat/Binoculars/Key/Whatever!"
    • Which leads to a funny situation in "Fang The Wonder Dog", where Gadget says "Go go Gadget Key!" and gets his flashlight instead. He then points his index finger (where the flashlight is coming from) at his face and nonchalantly says "I said 'Go go Gadget key!'"
  • Cartoon Bomb: Gadget ends up handcuffed to one of these in the opening.
    • One also appears in the commercial bumpers,note  with the lead-out bumper showing that it had exploded.
  • Cartoon Juggling: In the circus episode, Penny does a true cascade with apples.
  • Catchphrase: "Wowsers!" "Go-go Gadget..." "Inspector Gadget is always on duty!" "Stop in the name of the law!" and "I'll get you next time, Gadget... Next time!"
    • "What's that, Chief? You're where?" as well as "Why do I put up with him..." or, when Gadget assures Quimby that the target of the week is just as safe under Gadget's watch as Quimby is, "That's what I'm afraid of..."
    • While it's more a generic exclamation than a Catchphrase, Penny's "OH NO!" is used so recurringly and with the same exact tone it may as well be one - she also tends to cry "Crumbs!" when something doesn't go well.
  • Cats Are Mean: Dr. Claw's cat, Mad Cat. Some episodes show Mad Cat pressing a button or turning a knob to activate one of Dr. Claw's sinister technological devices.
  • Chair Reveal: The opening has a Chair Unreveal, where Gadget spins around Claw's chair and there's just a fake hand on a spring... which is attached to a nice, round bomb.
  • Chariot Race: Inspector Gadget helps his Roman ancestor Gadgetorum win a chariot race in the Time Travel arc of the series.
  • Christmas Special: Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas. Notable for Maurice LaMarche singing in character as Gadget.
  • Circus Episode: "Gadget at the Circus" has Inspector Gadget infiltrating a circus which is a front for MAD to commit crimes wherever the circus stops.
  • Climb, Slip, Hang, Climb: Repeatedly happens, most notably in the opening sequence of "The Coo-Coo Clock Caper."
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Of course Gadget is one, but Mayor Markham from Inspector Gadget's Biggest Caper Ever is an even bigger Cloudcuckoolander. He is obsessed with Martians, confuses the Wright Brothers with Frank Lloyd Wright, and frequently failed to get the point when Chief Quimby tried to explain that Dr. Claw broke out of prison.
  • Clock Tower: The Clock Maker's factory in "The Coo-Coo Clock Caper" has a rather fancy one, where the climax of the episode takes place in: however, the factory winds up destroyed due to the Clock Maker's watch set to make Gadget's gadgets malfunction occurring in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • Clockworks Area: Again, "The Coo-Coo Clock Caper," where the insane Clock Maker (a M.A.D. Agent working for Dr. Claw) has Gadget fastened to the gears of inside the clock tower on top of his family. Too bad that the Clock Maker didn't count on the rigged watch he gave Gadget causing his gadgets to malfunction in the wrong place at the wrong time, resulting in the destruction of the factory and the Clock Maker's arrest.
  • Clueless Detective: The eponymous Gadget.
  • Collapsing Lair: Has happened occasionally in the first season, usually caused by Gadget's incompetence or clumsiness, most notably in "Sleeping Gas" and "The Coo-Coo Clock Caper."
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Back in 2011, one made by Viper Comics surfaced, and is closely based on the original TV Show.
  • Company Cross References: The second season features numerous references to Heathcliff & the Catillac Cats, another DiC Entertainment animated series from around the same time...
    • Sometimes Heathcliff or the Catillac Cats would appear on a TV (Penny and Brain watch the Catillac Cats on TV in a scene in "The Great Wambini's Seance").
    • Penny is shown to have a Riff-Raff stuffed animal in "The Incredible Shrinking Gadget."
    • A person attending a costume party in "Ghost Catchers" is dressed up as Heathcliff.
    • When Gadget sleep-drives the Gadget Van through a junkyard as Brain holds on, they just avoid hitting Hector and Wordsworth!
    • Many incidental/one-off characters appearing in the second season would resemble characters appearing in Heathcliff, with the rounded designs and Conjoined Eyes.
    • In addition, Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats would contain numerous references to Inspector Gadget as well.
  • Conservation of Competence: For the bad guys, many of the henchmen are incompetent, and for the good guys, Gadget, who is usually only competent when Penny and Brain are captured.
  • Continuity Nod: In the episode "The Amazon", we are introduced to Professor Von Slickstein, the scientist that gave Gadget his gadgets. He later returns in the episodes "Tyrannosaurus Gadget", "Gadget's Roma", and "Gadget's Clean Sweep" to help Inspector Gadget, Penny, and Brain go back in time to prevent M.A.D. agent Thelma Botkin from killing Gadget's ancestors, although in those episodes Slickstein has a different voice and his name is pronounced differently (Slick-STEEN instead of Slick-STINE).
    • In "Funny Money", Gadget mentions wanting to cook his specialty using blueberries and cabbage, which he previously tried to do in "Gone Went The Wind".
    • Brain's persisting fear of ghosts from "The Haunted Castle" returns in the Season 2 episode "Ghost Catchers." Likewise Penny, who thoroughly got over her fear in the former episode, remains totally adamant that ghosts do not exist, the same as her Uncle.
  • Conveyor Belt o' Doom: Seen in "Quimby Exchange," "A Star is Lost," "Clear Case," Dutch Treat," "All That Glitters."
  • Cool Car: Gadget's minivan transforms into a police interceptor car, and also had built-in gadgets. In fact, the interceptor mode is heavily based on the French-built Matra Murena.
    • And the MAD-mobile, which could transform into a jet or a submersible. And packed weaponry to boot.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Dr. Claw crept into this territory in a few episodes. MAD would set up perfectly legitimate businesses like dairies or hotels, and then the Evil Plan would be to wipe out the competition by some underhanded means.
  • Covered in Gunge: Happens to Gadget, almost as often as Penny getting Bound and Gagged. Milk, cheese, Dutch chocolate, mud, crude oil; you name it, he's probably been covered in it at some point.
    • Brain's also suffered this occasionally. He and Gadget have ended up covered in tomato juice after falling into a truck full of giant tomatoes. Brain and a bunch of MAD agents also ended up stuck in giant wedges of cheese after falling into a cheese processing machine. In another episode, Brain did this deliberately by covering himself with flour to disguise himself as a statue.
  • Cowardly Lion: Brain cowers in fear in many episodes but still goes through with whatever Penny's plan is.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Dr. Claw invents numerous super advanced technologies to... rob banks and steal valuable objects.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: ...or at least your intelligence.
  • Da Chief: Quimby.
  • Darker and Edgier: Parodies and spoofs of the cartoon very commonly veer in this direction. Unsurprisingly many of them came from Robot Chicken, such as this one. For bonus points, many of the parodies were voiced by the original voice actors.
    • For the series itself, while there's no clear trend of it, certain episodes are notably darker than the norm. For example, "The Boat" is much more explicit than usual about Claw's occasional mass murders as a group of witnesses are shown about to be drowned by M.A.D. agents. It also unapologetically shows Claw drowning Gadget slowly while forcing little Penny to watch. Other, less blatant examples include episodes "Dutch Treat" and "Launch Time". "Gadget and the Old Lace" notably has one of the more graphic and nearly successful attempts on Gadget's life involving electrocution.
  • Death Ray: In the episodes "Unhenged" and "The Ruby".
  • Death Trap: Countless types used by MAD in every episode, although no one dies from them, and they often backfire on MAD agents.
  • Depending on the Writer: The extent of Gadget's bumbling, in some episodes he nears success if not for one particular blunder or misunderstanding, in others he's outright Too Dumb to Live.
    • Brain can also be a rather cheerful and enthusiastic assistant when not suffering under Gadget's aforementioned incompetence, or a Nervous Wreck driven to wit's end by his abuse. It's worth noting these two character examples were sometimes actually reversed in a few early episodes, with Gadget being semi competent and occasionally annoyed by Brain's bumbling.
    Gadget: Never take your dog to the olympics.
  • Detective Animal: Brain.
  • Deus ex Machina: Gadget.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Dr Claw.
  • Disguised in Drag: Brain has done this several times as part of his many disguises.
    • "The Amazon" has Chief Quimby disguised as a flight attendant when giving Gadget his assignment for the episode.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In episode 1-6 "Health Spa", Gadget looks in his rearview mirror and sees someone (Brain) on a scooter following him. He automatically assumes it is a MAD agent and fires missiles and uses an oil slick against despite the fact that the only thing this person is "guilty" of is being behind him on the road.
    • In "The Incredible Shrinking Gadget", Chief Quimby, after being accidentally shrunk, threatens to fire Gadget if he doesn't return him to normal size.
  • The Don: In a second season episode, Claw rings up his former teacher Les Renown, who runs a villain retirement home, to call upon the services of the Great Great Godfather.
  • Doomsday Device: The Crystal Weapon, the earthquake machine, the weapon in "The Japanese Connection", etc.
  • Do-Anything Cyborg
  • Dreadful Musician: Gadget is shown to be one (naturally) in "A Star is Lost"; despite his fondness for cello and harp music, he cannot play those instruments very well.
  • Dub Name Change: Penny and Brain are named "Sophie" and "Finot" in the French version of the show.
    • For some reason, the characters bear their French names in the German version too.
      • Probably because the French dub was the basis for some other European dubs. A first Italian dub in the 1980s was based on it, while a newer dub in 1993 was based on the original version and restored the names with the exception of Brain, who was renamed "Bravo".
  • Dunking the Bomb:
    • In the episode "In Seine", Gadget is given a belt for his trenchcoat with a bomb built into it. Brain pushes Gadget into the water, managing to remove his belt and dunk it into the water.
    • Another episode, "Art Heist", has Gadget get a glowing ball which is activated by Dr. Claw and turns incredibly hot. Brain gets it away from him yet again and throws the hot ball into a fountain. It explodes, sending up a big column of water.
    • A double subversion in "Amusement Park", where Gadget received a panda bear as a reward for hitting two of three ducks. This bear contains a bomb set to blow up in 30 minutes, which Brian attempts to throw into the amusement park pool (only to be caught by Gadget's long arm). When Chief Quimby shows up, he stumbles and accidentally drops the bear into the pool just in time for the bomb to explode.
  • Drowning Pit: Penny accidentally makes her own in "A Bad Altitude" when she takes a hidden elevator down to the ocean which immediately fills with water once the doors close, forcing her to hold her breath until the elevator reaches its destination and the doors open so that she can swim for the surface.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • In the pilot:
      • Gadget, while still bumbling, was far more competent, and used his gadgets with clever, deadly accuracy as well. This interpretation reappeared in a handful of early episodes (eg. "Haunted Castle") but ultimately faded in favor of his Inspector Oblivious persona.
      • Also, he had a mustache. This was dropped because it made him a little too much like Inspector Clouseau.
      • Another oddity was that Gadget's gadgets made beeping sounds whenever they activated.
      • Chief Quimby appeared several times throughout the episode to give Gadget new missions, rather than just once at the very beginning.
      • Penny and Chief Quimby sounded different, as well. Penny's voice was younger and higher pitched, while Chief Quimby's was more growly.
      • Since Pilot!Gadget was actually competent, Penny and Brain were just along for the ride, rather than the ones really solving the case. In fact, for most of the episode, Penny was a Damsel in Distress and Brain was the gleefully dim Millstone getting on Gadget's nerves. Their later aptitude only perks up during the final climax, where Gadget finally loses the Smart Ball.
    • In early episodes, Gadget visibly fell for and flirted with the attractive undercover female MAD Agents such as Madame and Amazon Annie. This vanished after a short while and Gadget was shown to be more oblivious to women who tried to seduce him. Also, the physical attractiveness of the seducing women went down as this element was gradually phased out and the show began to enforce strict No Hugging, No Kissing.
  • Edutainment Show: Inspector Gadget's Field Trip
  • Evil Plan: Dr. Claw has a new one every time.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Dr. Claw.
  • Expressive Hair: Gadget's hair droops when he's sad, disappointed, or surprised. For example, when Gadget goes through in-universe Mood Whiplash in the episode M.A.D. Trap.
  • Expy: Gadget himself is an expy for his voice actor's most beloved role: Maxwell Smart Agent 86.
    • When Gadget is electrocuted during one of the end of episode safety tips, he even gets out a, "Would you believe..."
    • And Dr. Claw is, of course, an expy of James Bond's faceless, cat-stroking arch-nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
    • On the DVD containing the first 32 episodes, Andy Heyward (character creator) commented that Gadget and Brain are Inverted Expies of earlier characters called Blue Falcon and Dynomutt, only this time, the human was the bumbling mechanical android, while the dog was hyper-competent.
    • Harold from "Focus on Gadget" is a more benign version of HAL 9000.
  • The Faceless: Dr. Claw in the cartoon. Bodiless, too. The only parts of him that were ever shown were his forearms.
    • A Dr. Claw action figure was released during the 1990's that showed his face, as did the Super NES game released by Hudson Soft.
    • In one episode, set in Japan, we see Claw's shadow, but it's a generic, blob like shape that gives no indication of what he looks like. However, another shot of the same shadow later on suggests that he seems to be wearing a hood/cloak of some kind.
  • Fanboy: Corporal Capeman is this to Gadget. He even looks (and acts) the part, with the dorky demeanor, extreme clutziness and geek glasses.
  • Fearless Infant: Gadget was shown to be one in a flashback of the final episode, where he is seen as a baby witnessing crime boss Spuds Malone gun down people with his potato gun the Red Rose and being completely unfazed by the chaos.
  • Fee Fi Faux Pas: This actually gets Gadget arrested in "The Ruby" when he touches the sacred cow.
  • Fictional Country: While epiodes are usually set in real countries, like India, Japan, China, etc., the show also visits fictional countries, such as Pianostan, Romanovia and Yetzanistan.
  • Film Felons: MAD once used a fake film production as an excuse to spy on a military base. (Hey, they were filming!)
  • Flanderization: In the pilot episode, Gadget was buffoonish and oblivious but still semi-competent, observant enough to neutralise most of MAD's direct traps throughout the episode, with Penny a not-so-helpless Tagalong Kid who secretly helps against Claw's final most deadliest trap. Besides a handful of early episodes, the series after exaggerates Gadget to be clueless against even the most pathetic of MAD traps, with Penny privately solving the entire crime besides cases Gadget's bumbling inadvertently helps.
  • A Foggy Day in London Town: "Gadget's Clean Sweep," where the gang goes back in time to 19th century London to stop M.A.D. from killing Gadget's ancestors of the time (Char and Chimney Gadget, both of whom are chimney sweeps). In many scenes, there is some kind of fog shown throughout London.
    • Averted in "The Infiltration" and "Unhenged," both of which take place in London.
  • The Fool: Gadget often obliviously keeps himself out of danger, and in some cases, even outright saves the day, due to well timed slapstick bumbling.
  • Forgotten Superweapon: Oh, once an episode a loyal viewer can think of a gadget that Gadget could have used which would have saved him some time. The Gadget laser is one incredibly underused gadget, but it is a kid's show.
  • Funny Background Event: In "The Amazon," Gadget gets into a hectic car chase with Claw. At one point, we see Gadget dramatically declare that Claw will not escape him. Meanwhile, Penny and Brain (stowing away as usual) can be seen uncontrollably flying around the backseat, having neglected to wear their seatbelts. That Gadget fails entirely to notice the sounds of them tumbling around behind him accentuates this.
  • Fur and Loathing: An actress has a white fox wrap, and she's a MAD agent.
  • Game Show Appearance: "Quizmaster"
  • Giftedly Bad: Gadget is a terrible cellist. Even Chief Quimby, who knows good music when he hears it, doesn't think highly of his abilities with the cello.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Penny.
  • Go-Go Enslavement: In "Movie Set", when Penny is captured she's dolled up like a princess. Justified in this case as they were pretending to film a movie, and having a kidnapped girl in her regular street clothes would be out of place.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: In the SNES version, similar to Ghosts 'n Goblins, if Gadget takes a hit, he gets stripped down to his boxers. If he takes another hit while in this state, he's dead.
  • Grand Finale: Inspector Gadget's Last Case was made as this for the original show, although more spinoffs and another direct-to-video film entitled "Inspector Gadget's Biggest Caper Ever" came later.
  • G-Rated Drug: In "Race to the Finish" at a pitstop a MAD agent gives Gadget a mysterious liquid that makes him drunk.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: In "Bad Dreams Are Made of This", Gadget does this to a robot using a laser and both halves make their own Impact Silhouettes in a nearby wall.
  • Hammerspace: The only explanation for how all those gadgets fit into Gadget's body, plus where Brain must keep all of his costumes.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Nervous Nick Defecto in "The Quimby Exchange", who was Trapped in Villainy.
  • Highly-Conspicuous Uniform: Agents of M.A.D. often wear jumpsuits with the M.A.D. logo emblazoned on the chest in public. Despite this, Gadget never realizes that they are his enemies.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: One episode where Doctor Claw entered the MAD Mobile in a race against Gadget and the Gadgetmobile had him successfully drug Gadget and win the race, only to get himself disqualified after he switched to jet mode and left the track.
    • Another episode involved the device that a MAD agent had given Gadget that caused his gadgets to go haywire every hour caused the destruction of the agent's own clock factory when Gadget's gadgets went crazy while he was in one of the agent's deathtraps.
  • Hollywood Cop Uniform: In "Tree Guesses", the crooks are arrested by two Mounties wearing the RCMP full dress uniform with Stetson, red tunic and riding breeches and boots, which in Real Life is not worn in the field.
  • Hollywood Density: Averted; Penny realizes that a gold brick is a fake because she can lift it.
  • Hollywood Mirage: In Arabian Nights.
  • Hooking the Keys: Penny does a high-tech version of this in "Weather in Tibet": using a small powerful electromagnet to pull the keys off the hook on the wall and across the room to her cell.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Apparently, many of Gadget's gadgets, such as the Mallet, the Sail, the Copter, the Phone and many more are actually all kept in his hat. And then there's Brain, who seemingly carries around an array of disguises despite being a dog with no visible means of holding his outfits.
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: Penny, who really doesn't care where the credit for the victories go, as long as her Uncle Gadget (and the world) is safe.
    • Brain is this for Penny as well, as the dog always manages to get the job done, no matter how difficult things could be.
  • Hypnotism Reversal: In the episode "Snakin' All Over", the MAD Agent of the episode, Professor Venom, has a variety of snakes that do his bidding. One of them is a cobra that hypnotizes people into a helpless, stupefied state wherein they don't move. In the climax of the episode, Penny defeats the cobra by showing it a mirror, causing it to hypnotize itself.
  • I Am the Noun: In "Snakin' All Over," Gagdet is to meet up with a "securiy force" to help him protect a rare coin collection. He ends up meeting an old man who proclaims the he is the security force. Less egotistical than many examples of this trope, as he has been guaridng the coins all by himself for 73 years.
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: In "Follow That Jet", the pilots at Pancake Flats A.F.B. play "Dodge the Claw", a mysteriously addictive video game, which pricks their finger and sends them into a zombified trance. Later on, when they take the stolen jets to a M.A.D. lair, one of the M.A.D. agents injects them with a mind control drug to keep them under Claw's control.
  • Identical Stranger: In the episode "King Wrong", the miserable King of the far-off country of Pianostan looks exactly like Gadget.
  • Idiot Ball: Usually any rare point Gadget gains a bout of competence, usually involves Brain or Penny acting like helpless goofs for a change. In the pilot for example, when Gadget is sensibly trying to dispose of some dynamite, Brain mistakes it for a stick and keeps bringing it back to him.
  • Idiot Hero: If Inspector Gadget was real, frankly, you'd wonder how he even works those gadgets without somehow finding a way to fatally impale himself on the spoon he eats cereal with.
  • Impact Silhouette: If Gadget crashes through a wall, the hole left behind will even include his hair.
  • In the Style of: Just for fun, a dubstep remix of the opening theme. Go Go Gadget Subwoofer!
  • Inspector Oblivious: Gadget is a terible officer who regularly dismisses important clues, then goes chasing after ridiculous ones. He only suceeds because his neice and his dog help solve his cases and keep MAD agents from killing him, though Gadget is unaware of their help.
  • Instrument of Murder: "A Star is Lost" has a dart-shooting piano and an electrified harp in MAD's music studio.
  • Invincible Incompetent: Gadget thwarts Doctor Claw again and again, almost solely on the strengths of his Hyper Competent Sidekicks and his own slapstick luck.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: While Gadget will refer to himself as a man, he doesn't raise any sort of fuss in an episode where MAD agents call him 'it' several times.
  • It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: Dr. Claw's hideout is usually in a spooky old castle with a thunderstorm brewing outside it, even when the weather is nice in Metro City!
  • Karma Houdini: Dr. Claw always gets away no matter what, although it is sometimes averted (e.g., in "Gone Went The Wind", he gets caught in the explosion of the Sneezooka while making his getaway and is trapped at the bottom of the arctic waters at the end of the episode). There were also some episodes in the first season where the M.A.D. Agent of The Week was not seen or mentioned as being arrested by the end of the episode, such as The Rat in "M.A.D. Trap". Things got worse in the second season, which mainly consisted of three-episode story arcs with the same M.A.D. Agents, each one (explicitly shown) avoiding capture in the end (The Great Wambini, Dr./Professor Dummkopf, Dr. Spectrum, Dr. Null and Dr. Void, Thelma Botkin). Only two agents in the second season were ever arrested: The Ninja in "The Capeman Cometh" and Dr. Noodleman in "Gadget's Gadgets" (both appeared in just one episode each).
  • Kid Detective: Penny.
  • Kid with the Leash: Penny temporarily becomes one for the Grappler in his one and only episode, with him making a Heel–Face Turn at the end of the episode because of this.
  • Kidnapped Scientist: M.A.D. seems to do quite a bit of this...
  • Kill Sat: The evaporator ray in Focus on Gadget.
  • Kindhearted Simpleton: Gadget means well in his antics and is trying to save the day, he's just completely inept about it.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Dr. Spectrum, recurring M.A.D. agent in the season two episodes "Ghost Catchers", "Busy Signal", and "Bad Dreams are Made of This". His episodes still have the signature slapstick and humor, but Spectrum himself has few humorous qualities and is the most seriously played of Dr. Claw's minions.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In Last Case.
    (after Gadget figures out Claw is behind the recent crime wave) Penny: "Um... Uncle Gadget, Claw's been behind every crime this city has ever had."
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In one episode gadget is shoveling his driveway when he says: "I haven't seen this much snow since that episode in the arctic."
  • Large Ham: Dr. Claw, saying "GAAAAAADGET!!!" and "I'll get you next time, Gadget... NEXT TIME!"
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In "Funny Money", while Gadget is hanging onto the helicopter piloted by the gang of counterfeiters, they pass a greedy man attempting to evict an entire orphanage unless they can give him the money he wants. One of the counterfeiters' piles of money falls and hits the greedy man right on the head, knocking him out.
  • Laughably Evil: A good number of the M.A.D. Agents, and sometimes Dr. Claw himself.
  • Laugh with Me!: An inversion; Dr. Claw frequently punishes his cat for laughing with him.
  • Lawful Stupid: Gadget to a 'T', so much that he thinks childish students sticking out their tongues are suspicious, and that the high-school chemistry teacher is training students in making explosives. He could be stopped in his tracks if MAD agents did something as simple as putting up a red traffic light in the middle of nowhere. Capeman as usual was even worse, once calling a tow truck on the Gadgetmobile for being illegally parked while on a case. Naturally, the truck driver is a MAD assassin who puts the two into a Death Trap.
  • Leitmotif: Examples include the main theme (Gadget's theme), Penny's theme, Brain's theme, Claw's theme, the Cuckoo Clock theme, the chase theme, and several Recurring Riffs not associated with a particular character or event. Some of the more commonly used background music shared something in common with some background music from Shera Princess Of Power. Not surprising since both shows had the same composers, Haim Saban and Shuki Levy. Several pastiches of real songs were used, in fact the main theme is based on In The Hall of the Mountain King.
    • "Petite Sophie" from the French soundtrack is Penny's theme with lyrics added.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Very, very rarely, Gadget showed competence and was able to avert disaster all on his own. This tends to happen particularly when Penny is in danger.
  • Logo Joke: The original closing logo on many first-season episodes had Gadget stumbling into the shot on his Gadgetskates and using his mallet to dot the "i" in "DiC" (early first-season episodes and the second season used the standard DiC "Vortex" logo.)
  • Lost Superweapon: In the "Emerald Duck" episode, the Wave-Motion Gun-like Crystal Weapon, which can level mountains and, if left uninhibited, destroy the entire planet. It even turns on Dr Claw himself.
  • Magic Trenchcoat: Despite spending an inordinate amount of time on his head, Inspector Gadget's trench coat almost never falls down around his body, but instead stays up near his knees. Just watch the opening sequence.
  • Manchurian Agent: "Going my way?"
  • Manchild: In the Christmas special, Gadget believes that Chief Quimby-disguised as a Mall Santa—actually is the genuine article, and holds up the line while he details a long Christmas list of new machine parts and things. This has carried over into Gadget and the Gadgetinis and Gadget 2015.
  • Man in a Kilt: Brain wears a kilt most of the Loch Ness episode, and you can see up the kilt many, many times. He's not wearing anything under it, but then he is a dog. And it's not like you see anything you don't usually see anyways.
  • Master of Disguise: In the "Infiltration" episode, M.A.D.'s undercover specialist Presto Change-O. Also, depending on interpretation, Brain. While his disguises appear quite unconvincing to the audience, they fool literally everyone in the show. (Not just Gadget, who can admittedly be fairly oblivious to reality at times.) And that holds true whether he's impersonating a lion, a hula girl or a military police officer.
  • Meaningful Name: Brain, of course. In the French version, he is called "Finot", which is based on the word "finaud", which refers to a sneaky person under a harmless or dumb appearance..
    • Penny's French name, 'Sophie', is a French variant of the Greek 'Sophia', which literaly means wisdom
  • Misplaced Wildlife: In "The Amazon", Gadget encounters a huge white gorilla in, well, The Amazon Rainforest. Gorillas are only found in Africa.
  • Mooks: MAD agents wore suits with the word "MAD" on them!
  • Monster Mash: The episode "Haunted Castle" featured a trio of M.A.D. agents dressed as a vampire, Frankenstein's monster, and a werewolf.
  • Monster of the Week: Dr. Claw had a new special MAD agent almost every week, who would try to carry out their assignment, get arrested, and never be seen again.
    • Averted in Season 2 somewhat, in which most of the new M.A.D. agents appear in three episode story arcs and are never arrested. Examples are The Great Wambini and the Lesser Wambini, Dr. Dummkopf, Dr. Spectrum, the Creepy Twins Null and Void who cause mischief (IN SPACE!), and Thelma Botkin.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Presto Change-O in "The Infiltration." Even when he is impersonating Gadget and Chief Quimby, his stereotypical British Teeth are still visible, yet no one else seems to notice.
  • Mr. Exposition: Chief Quimby.
  • Mugged for Disguise: The Linguinis in "Gadget in Minimadness" do this to a random nurse, swiping her dress and hat to use as a Totem Pole Trench disguise.
  • Mushroom Samba: The Crazy Gas in "N.S.F. Gadget" causes astronauts to hallucinate and see visions of space monsters.
  • Nephewism: Penny.
  • Never Say "Die": "Finish off", "Destroy", "Put to sleep permanently", "Dispose of", etc. were used in place of "Kill".
    • Occasionally averted, for example, when Dr. Claw offers Rick Rocker "a life or death contract", while he and Penny are Strapped to an Operating Table in "A Star is Lost".
    • One memorable aversion, from "The Coo-Coo Clock Caper":
      Clockmaker to Penny, while the latter is tied in a deathtrap that will activate at five o'clock: "When the clock strikes five...GUESS WHO WON'T BE ALIVE!"
  • Never Bareheaded: Gadget is never seen with his hat off. It very well could be built onto his head and unremovable.
    • Gadget is occasionally, albeit briefly, seen without his hat in some of the spinoff incarnations, varying between having full hair or being bald underneath.
    • In "Haunted Castle," a flash of lightning scares Brain so bad that he jumps into Gadget's coat. When Gadget's hat flies up for a few frames, a closer look reveals that he has a widow's peak!
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Nickelodeon, in the late-80's, had a promo for the show contrasting the "good guys" (Gadget, Penny and Brain) and the "bad guys" (Dr. Claw and his minions) asking the viewer, "Who's side are you on?" The problem? Chief Quimby was among the "bad guys" in the promo, even though he's actually Gadget's supervisor in the series.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: "Go-Go-Gadget__!"
    • Granted being Gadget, they were only useful to the plot in a handful of instances.
    • Downplayed. For the most part, Gadget pulls from an established bag of tricks. He rarely pulls out something new for the situation.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted in the clip show film "Gadget's Greatest Gadgets". One of the few parts of new footage has Gadget deliver a throwaway line to Brain that paper-training class is elsewhere.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: "Gadget Meets the Clan" introduces the Great Great Godfather, who is based on Marlon Brando, specifically his role in The Godfather.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: Attempts by female MAD-agents to seduce Gadget were purely verbal, as was his flirting (at least in the early episodes when writers allowed him to flirt). Also, there are never romantic interests for Penny but this may be due to the nature of her adventures and the need to be discreet; she rarely has the opportunity to interact with guest characters of her own age group.
  • No Man Should Have This Power: In "The Emerald Duck", the ancient crystal weapon of the Aztec sun god proved to be one of the most destructive forces in the series, able to harness sunlight into a devastating beam that could destroy anything. To prevent Dr. Claw from getting his hands on it, Penny blasts it with her book's laser to blow it up.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The record factory from "A Star Is Lost". The conveyor belt that carries Gadget, Penny, and Rick Rocker is an especially notable example; there's absolutely no reason for the conveyor to begin at any point before the actual record press (To say nothing of the size of the press itself). Ditto for the ice factory in "Quimby Exchange"
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Usually played straight with Claw, who spends most episodes kicking back watching his minions try to stop Gadget, albeit with some surprising subversions:-
    • "Quimby Exchange": From his MAD-Mobile, Dr. Claw spots Chief Quimby inspecting a wrecked prison cell. Rather than the expected act of calling his on the scene MAD-Agents or deploying his vehicle, he gets out and personally captures him (off-screen of course).
    • "The Japanese Connection": A triggered alarm (by a bungling Inspector Gadget) led C Law to leave his project seat to deal with the intruder himself, returning only because he found no one. Inspector Gadget was this close to encountering him face to face.
    • Dr. Claw sometimes drives the MAD-Mobile / Jet around seemingly for no reason but to try and catch and attack Gadget, on more than one occasion. In “Race to the Finish” this sets up one of his bigger roles in the series, where instead of hiring a minion to pose as MAD’s race car driver he does the job himself.
  • Non-Fatal Explosions: To the point that in one episode, "Volcano Island", Gadget survives a friggin' volcano eruption. To picture this correctly: he was standing on top of the volcano, leaning on the edge of its mouth and gazing inside it.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Brain.
  • A Nuclear Error: One episode, "Down on the Farm", features an attempt to fire an American nuclear missile at a city. See the entry for the reason why this is nonsense (said episode has said missile stationed in a farm silo as sort of a parody).
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Brain's French name of "finaud" and the lyrics of the French version of his theme song both allude to his hiding his competence behind his harmless outward appearance.
  • Offscreen Karma: Discussed in the episode "School for Pickpockets"; Chief Quimby tells Gadget when congratulating him that the other pickpockets have been arrested.
  • Oh, Crap!: Gadget, during the intro right after realizing he handcuffed himself to a lit bomb.
  • Omniscient Database: Penny's computer book seemed to know everything.
  • Once per Episode: Chief Quimby has the self-destructing message blow up in his face.
    • One interesting twist to the Self-Destructing message was in M.A.D. Trap where Inspector Gadget gives Quimby a note asking "Have you got any assignments for me?" Followed by the "This Message will Self-Destruct" warning. Quimby freaks out, but loses it when nearby pigeons peck at it. Quimby tries to shoo em away, only to get caught in the explosion.
    • "Health Spa" and "Gadget's Replacement" are the only episodes without a self-destructing message, though Quimby still ends up hurt due to Gadget's incompetence. Quimby lampshades it in "Health Spa":
      Quimby: At last, an assignment that didn't blow up in my face. (gets whacked in the face by Gadget opening the door)
  • Out-Gambitted: M.A.D.'s attempt to steal the City of Gold wasn't foiled by Gadget, Penny and Brain, it was foiled by the ancient civilization that built it. The city M.A.D. was stealing was made of fool's gold, and the real City of Gold was hidden underground.
    • This happens again in "Did You Myth Me?" Where King Croesus' alchemical formula to turn lead into gold turned out to be fake the entire time.
  • Papa Wolf: When he knows Penny is in danger, Gadget becomes virtually unrecognizable (and unstoppable) as he becomes the superhero he is supposed to be.
    • This is pretty much the entire plot of the SNES game, in which Penny gets kidnapped and you have to rescue her.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise:
    • Both Brain and the MAD agents use these regularly. Penny can generally see through them, but Gadget NEVER can. (This is why he always thinks Brain is a MAD agent, and never realizes he's his own dog!)
    • Gadget himself did this once. His disguise consisted of a fake mustache and glasses. Everyone saw through it. EVERYONE. Considering he had a mustache in the pilot, the recognition might be somewhat justified.
    • Chief Quimby would sometimes wear one when giving the secret message to Gadget.
    • Penny wore one in a wild west themed episode, and Gadget didn't recognize her either.
    • Although Presto Change-O's disguises in "The Infiltration" managed to change his entire form, he still had paler skin than whoever he would impersonate, not to mention his evil-looking eyes and all that teeth. Yet everyone else doesn't notice these details when Presto impersonates Gadget and Chief Quimby, though Penny initially figures out what's going on and is able to tell the two apart.
  • Parasol Parachute: "Go-go-Gadget 'Brella!" Though in many cases, his umbrella would turn inside-out as Gadget is descending, not helping things.
  • Parental Obliviousness: Gadget has no idea that it's his niece solving his cases and saving the world.
  • Pictorial Letter Substitution: At the end of this cartoon series' intro song, the title character falls into place on the title card, acting as a substitute for the "I" in Inspector. He's upside-down, of course, because he's one klutzy detective.
  • A Pirate 400 Years Too Late: The episode "Pirate Island" has has Gadget on a Caribbean cruise ship that is attacked by stereotypical, pegleg-having, eyepatch-wearing pirates who sail a galleon. Though, as Penny discovers, the pirates do have some modern equipment, like a Video Phone.
  • Plot-Driven Breakdown: All the time. At least once an episode the wrong gadget will activate, a gadget will outright not work when he needs it, or do something else.
    • In fact, it was a surprise whenever a gadget worked correctly.
    • The malfunction often involved, instead of whatever gadget was requested, a big hammer coming out of Gadget's head and bonking either him or some other object/person in the area (which occasionally actually turned out well).
  • Plot-Sensitive Button: Penny's watch.
  • Plucky Girl: Penny.
  • Police Are Useless: Gadget, despite being hailed as Metro City's best detective, has never come close to actually solving any of his cases, and on the rare occasions where other police or military personnel get involved, they aren't much better.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The episode "A Bad Altitude" has Gadget attempt to warn some hotel owners on an island that M.A.D. is scheming to blow their hotels up, but he asks them if they received threatening letters in a way that causes the hotel owners to mistake Gadget for being the one threatening to blow up their hotels and immediately call the police.
  • Power Crystal: The ruby in "The Ruby", and the weather control crystal in "Weather in Tibet".
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: In the pilot, right as he splatters a nearby M.A.D. agent with the very oil with which he had failed to cause Gadget to spin out, Brain quips, "Oil's well that ends well!"
  • Psychopathic Manchild: The Grappler from "Gadget Meets the Grappler" is a Type A. He is a childlike brute who obeys orders in exchange for candy (often donuts). His sweet tooth was used by Penny to stall him from his mission of destroying Gadget and eventually get him to betray M.A.D.
  • Recycled Animation / Stock Footage: Nearly every instance where the Gadgetmobile transforms is the same clip no matter the episode. The same close-up shot of Gadget reading his assignment was also used frequently in the first season (both clips were animated by the Shingo Araki unit at TMS Entertainment.)
    • The episodes animated by Wang Film Productions also had their own set of stock footage, in one case even using the aforementioned clip of the Gadgetmobile in "Smeldorado."
    • The second season had its' own stock clip of Gadget reading his message.
  • Replaced with Replica:
    • In one episode, it's discovered that MAD is planning to rob a museum. They do this by stealing the exhibits and replacing them with copies. By then, Penny's already placed tracking devices on most of the exhibits, leading to confusion when they're shown as gone even though she can see them.
    • In "All That Glitters", M.A.D. is trying to steal the City of Gold by replacing it brick-by-brick with gold painted blocks. It turns out the city of gold they were stealing, was itself a replica made of fool's gold, that the ancient builders used to hide the real City of Gold.
  • Revival: Gadget and the Gadgetinis and the 2015 reboot series.
  • Right-Hand Cat: Mad Cat.
  • Road-Sign Reversal: In "Monster Lake", Dr. Claw swaps a road sign to send the Gadgetmobile plunging off a cliff.
  • Robot Me: "Doubled Agent" had M.A.D. come out with a robotic double of Inspector Gadget, complete with functional gadgets and the voice of Don Adams speaking in a Machine Monotone. The robot was used to rob banks and commit other crimes in order to frame the real Gadget, in sort of a precursor to the 1999 live-action film.
  • Rod-and-Reel Repurposed: Between his many gadgets, he has a fishing rod, used for fishing but also to catch criminals... or simply it appears when it's not needed. Also seen in the movie.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: This is used in the Edutainment Show "Inspector Gadget's Field Trip", as the show consists of an animated Inspector Gadget appearing over live-action footage of the places he lectures the audience about.
  • Running Gag: Whenever a Gadget gets self destructing message it ends back into Chief Quimby and explodes in his face.
  • Sanity Slippage: The rages Dr. Claw flies into whenever one of his plans is thwarted, or even when he simply has to mention Gadget's name seem to get worse as time goes on.
  • Saving Christmas
  • The Scottish Trope: "This message will self-destruct."
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The formula for turning lead into gold in "Did You Myth Me" and the formula for growing giant plants in "Greenfinger" both turn out to ultimately be useless, making Doctor Claw's attempts to get them largely pointless.
  • Shoe Phone: Well, the phone itself is in his hand...
    • All three main characters have one of these: Penny has a watch phone, and Brain has a collar phone.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the episode "The Bermuda Triangle", Gadget mistakes a disguised Brain for an alien and attempts to communicate to him by using a keyboard.
    • In "Birds of a Feather," Gadget does a sort-of impression of Woody Woodpecker.
    • "Ghost Catchers": You get three guesses, and the first two don't count.
    • As stated above in Expy, "Focus on Gadget" has a nod to 2001: A Space Odyssey by featuring an artificial intelligence named Harold, who is a more benevolent version of HAL 9000.
    • In "Follow That Jet", Gadget is dropped through a chute riding a missile in a way similar to Dr. Strangelove.
  • Signature Team Transport: Gadget is rarely seen without his Gadgetmobile.
  • Silent Snarker: Brain, and occasionally M.A.D. Cat.
  • Smart Animal, Average Human: The bumbling and reckless Gadget is kept out of trouble/accidentally solves cases thanks to the help of his niece, Penny, and super-intelligent dog, Brain.
  • Smart Ball: Gadget, who could show competence whenever it was necessary to advance the plot. Several of MAD's attempts to derail the train in Basic Training were thwarted by Gadget himself, while in The Ruby Gadget defeated the tigers Dr. Claw sent after him on his own.
    • In one episode, "M.A.D. Trap", Dr. Claw's so fed up with Gadget ruining his plans that he enlists one (or more, not sure) agent with specifically killing him. Gadget is lured into an abandoned warehouse full of death traps; Penny is aware of the death order issued by Claw but both her and Brain are unable to directly intervene to save Gadget from the traps. The inspector though picks up the Smart Ball and counters each trap or attempt at killing him, managing to escaping the warehouse in the end, all traps deactivated or destroyed. And he was perfectly aware of the situation, all along!
    • Since you actually control Gadget in the SNES game, he's only ever as stupid as the player. But this might be justified by the fact that the plot involves Penny being kidnapped.
    • During the pilot episode, Gadget had the Smart Ball glued to his hands all the time, at the point he's completely unrecognizable.
    • Also in the Grand Finale, the made for TV movie "Inspector Gadget's Last Case". He's still somewhat bumbling, but significantly less so than usual. Penny and Brain get less screentime.
  • Snooping Little Kid: Exactly what Penny is, as she is frequently wandering around in the enemy's current base of operations in her attempts to stop them. Sometimes she joins forces with another Snooping Little Kid and they work together.
  • Somebody Set Us Up The Bomb: The opening credits end with Gadget handcuffing himself to Dr. Claw's wrist only to discover that it is a fake arm attached to the chair and the chair has an Incredibly Obvious Bomb sitting on it.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Common in the second season due to sloppy music editing. There are numerous instances where certain cues written for specific locales and situations get used improperly, such as hearing the "Irish" and "Polka" arrangements of the theme playing while the characters are right in Metro City and/or not dancing.
  • Spanner in the Works: Despite being a complete and total nimrod, Gadget often helps Penny and Brain save the day through his clueless bumbling.
    • A literal case of this is when he becomes trapped inside a giant robot Loch Ness monster. He finds the inner workings, and while attempting to make some 'minor adjustments', he gets caught inside and makes the robot to go haywire.
  • Spin-Off: Gadget and the Gadgetinis.
  • Spinoff Babies: Gadget Boy & Heather. Strangely, though, it's more a case of All There In The Promotional Materials, which state that Gadget Boy is the Inspector's nephew.
  • Speech-Impaired Animal
  • Spot the Imposter: Dr. Claw hired a Master of Disguise named Presto Change-O in the episode "The Infiltration" to infiltrate a police conference disguised as Gadget to eavesdrop as a spy. The audience can tell he's not the real Gadget due to his slightly paler skin, evil-looking eyes and stereotypical British Teeth, though other characters are fooled by his disguise. When the real Gadget confronts Presto Change-O in the conference room, no one can tell who the real Gadget is until our hero stands next to Chief Quimby. Gadget's mallet activates by itself and bonks Chief Quimby on the head, and the Chief immediately orders that the other guy be arrested, since the one next to him is obviously the real Gadget.
    • Earlier in the episode, Presto Change-O is introduced as disguising himself as Dr. Claw and the audience is led to believe that this was the actual Dr. Claw. But you know something is off when Dr. Claw's legs are shown.
  • Sssssnaketalk: Professor Venom, the M.A.D. Agent of the week from "Snakin' All Over," talks like this to go with his snake motif.
  • Stage Magician: The Great Wambini and his bumbling assistant The Lesser Wambini from the episodes "Magic Gadget", "Wambini's Seance", and "Wambini Predicts".
  • Stealth Pun: In one episode, Gadget meets an unnamed MAD agent who works as a peat digger. Gadget obliviously just calls him "Pete" for the rest of the episode.
  • Stock Sound Effects: The first-season episodes created some unique sound effects for Gadget's gadgets, the Gadget Van turning into the Gadgetmobile (and vice-versa), and Penny's computer book and communication watch. Many familiar Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. sound effects were also utilized, and even some Star Wars sound effects were used at times. The second season dropped most of these effects, and often used more unfamiliar Animesque sounds for Gadget's gadgets and generic beeping for Penny's devices.
  • Strange Salute: Dr. Claw's henchmen essentially punch themselves in the temple to salute their superiors. It's accompanied by a hollow knocking sound effect, and it looks like it hurts (on more than one occasion, an agent salutes at the end of a conversation and knocks themselves out). More than likely, Dr. Claw made it up so his minions would injure themselves for his amusement. Though his agents repeatedly concussing themselves probably isn't doing their intelligence any favors.
  • Strictly Formula: Albeit played with in several episodes. Sometimes Gadget shows competence, sometimes Penny is kidnapped and doesn't contribute at all, sometimes Brain openly accompanies Gadget, sometimes Penny has another Snooping Little Kid helping her, sometimes Dr. Claw intervenes directly in the action, and so on.
  • Surveillance as the Plot Demands: Dr. Claw seems to have cameras everywhere, including Gadget's house.
  • Swiss-Army Appendage: Gadget, in all versions.
  • Telescoping Cyborg
  • Theme Song Power Up: Penny gets these a lot.
  • This Page Will Self-Destruct: Chief Quimby gives Gadget the mission each episode, Gadget reads said line, and then gives the message back to Quimby. Cue the explosion.
  • Title Drop: "So It Is Written" has the king of Fuzzud mention the title of the episode after explaining the prophecy.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Even with the anonymous help of his niece, Gadget regularly walks into lethal danger.
    • Here's an example from the Christmas Episode:
      The Gadgetmobile is dropped through the air by a plane.
      Gadget: Go-Go Gadget Plane!
      Gadget emerges from the car in helicopter mode.
      Gadget: Not Gadget Copter, Gadget Plane! Gadget PLANE!
      The copter goes back into his hat, and the mechanical hand throws out a paper airplane.
      Gadget: Not...exactly what I meant.
    • To be fair, at the end of one episode, he was shown as alarmingly competent. Not only does he show awareness of what's happening to him, but he also manages to save Penny AND Brain, PLUS his gadgets were working perfectly. If he showed this level of competence all the time, he'd be a force to be reckoned with.
  • Totem Pole Trench: In the episode "Weather in Tibet", Penny and a friend of hers do this to sneak past some guards.
    • Penny and Brain also do this in "So It Is Written."
    • The Linguinis in "Gadget in Minimadness" do this as part of a Paper-Thin Disguise, posing as a nurse to gain entrance to Gadget's house. Naturally, Gadget falls for the disguise, but Brain does not, and his attempts to stop the Linguinis are mistaken by Gadget as bad behavior.
  • Tricked-Out Shoes: His hat deserves all the credit it gets, but Gadget's shoes shouldn't be overlooked. They can turn into everything from roller skates to skis to ice skates to magnets on command.
  • Trrrilling Rrrs: The Clock Maker in "The Coo-Coo Clock Caper", it gets more exaggerated as the episode goes on.
  • Unnecessary Roughness: In Race to the Finish Dr. Claw enters a car race for the prize money. He blatantly forces the other cars off the track in front of everyone, but isn't actually disqualified until he activates the Madmobile's jet mode and flies to the finish.
  • Unreveal Angle: Dr. Claw in Inspector Gadget is The Faceless who is only ever seen from the back of his chair.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • Bounces around with Gadget himself. Sometimes no one seems to notice Gadgets obviously strange appendages, sometimes onlookers stare with a confused expression. However no one freaks out or asks questions.
    • When Penny appears to her uncle at the end of an episode, Gadget says "Penny?" but never reprimands her for not staying home - even if he's on the other side of the world from Metro City.
  • Vanity Plate: Many of the first season episodes ended with a customized "D.i.C." logo where Gadget clumsily dots the "i" with his Gadget-malletnote . Early episodes and the second season used DiC's standard "Vortex" logo of the time.
  • Vengeful Vending Machine: The show once had a villainous Master of Disguise called Presto Change-O. At one point during his episode, Gadget thinks he's found the foe disguised as a vending machine he was running around disguised as Gadget. Naturally, this goes about as well as expected, with Gadget getting his Finger Key stuck in the keyhole and his foot stuck in the slot.
  • Villain Exclusivity Clause: Might very well be the Trope Codifier, it's impossible to think in an episode without Dr Claw and his schemes.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Dr. Claw always escapes whenever he's at the scene of M.A.D.'s latest plot. The recurring M.A.D. agents of the second season do the same.
  • Villainous Rescue: Dr. Claw orders one in "The Amazon", as Gadget is being offered as a sacrifice by his own minions, led by Amazon Annie, and he has to get through to them that he needs him for his own plans. Of course, it wouldn't be a problem if the radio was working, but thankfully for both sides Penny had caught wind of the sudden opening to get her uncle out of danger and secretly fixed it just in time.
  • Vinyl Shatters: Seen in "A Star is Lost," when Gadget, Penny and rock star Rick Rocker attempt to escape M.A.D.'s music warehouse; they run through a room with many LP albums on shelves, and robotic arms that throw the records at our heroes running through as they shatter against the wall. They get through safely, but Gadget says he needs a word with the owner of the place about proper record care.
  • Walk Into Camera Obstruction:
    • "Amusement Park" with Inspector Gadget as he is going up a rollercoaster while he's going after Brain the dog holding a panda doll.
    • "Art Heist" with Brain when the security kicked him out of the museum.
  • The Walls Are Closing In: Occurs in at least two episodes: "The Curse of the Pharaoh", and "Haunted Castle", the latter involving Spikes of Doom.
  • Weather-Control Machine: "Weather in Tibet".
  • We Will Meet Again: "I'll get you next time Gadget! NEXT TIME!"
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Usually the M.A.D. agents would be arrested at the end of each episode (at least during the first season). However, a few like Amazon Annie from "The Amazon", the Rat from "M.A.D. Trap" and Labella from "King Wrong" are never shown being apprehended. What became of those agents is never revealed.
    • In "School for Pickpockets", one of the pickpocket students, Runt, twice flunks out of said school and fails trying to steal from Gadget. His fate is unknown as Chief Quimby never confirms if Runt was one of the pickpockets arrested at the end.
    • "Quizmaster" involves some of the Quizmaster game show winners later going to prison after being framed for armored car robbery. We never learn if they were exonerated after Gadget solved the case.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: In "Amusement Park," M.A.D. has hidden a bomb in Metro City's new amusement park, and is set to explode at 12:00 noon.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: ...and where does he keep them?
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Where Metro City is located hasn't been revealed. The only clues given are that it's in the middle of an area made up of farmland and it snows in the winter. It also might be near Westfinster.
    • The Movie puts it in Ohio.
      • The film adaptation gives Gadget's hometown's name as Riverton rather than Metro City.
    • There's a good chance that Metro City is somewhere in Canada. In the 2015 CGI series, it explicitly is in Canada; if it is in the same continuity as the 1983 series, it would logically have been there in the original series as well. The first season was co-produced by the Canadian studio Nelvana, and Metro City is shown to be so generic that either an American or a Canadian kid could imagine it as being in their neck of the woods. One episode, "Tree Guesses", is explicitly set in the Canadian wilderness.note 
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Putting aside the actual snake episode, Penny and Brain are afraid of ghosts, which gets the better of them when they investigate a M.A.D. base in Dracula's Castle. Penny gets over it with the help of Gadget, but Brain doesn't and stays afraid of ghosts through the whole series.
  • Would Hurt a Child: While she was usually just Bound and Gagged, there were at least three M.A.D. Agents who actually tried to kill Penny. The first was the Archaeologist in "All That Glitters", who tried to throw Penny off a cliff and only stopped because she pointed out that too many people would see. The second was the Clockmaker from "Coo-Coo Clock Caper", who tried to crush Penny with a mannequin wielding a mallet set to strike at 5:00. The third was the hired agent to create diamond suits in "A Clear Case," who tied Penny up on a Conveyor Belt o' Doom leading to a laser.
  • Yellow Peril: Dr. Claw tried to team up with a Yellow Peril villain on two separate occasions. First, in "The Japanese Connection," Claw met with the "Great Samurai Waruda" who literally wore samurai armour. In "Eye of the Dragon," Claw met with the nefarious Mr. Chow from Hong Kong, who tended to speak largely in metaphors, as did a lot of the Chinese characters in that episode.

I'll get you next time, Gadget... NEXT TIME...


Video Example(s):


Crystal of the Sun God

Using the Emerald Duck, Doctor Claw's agent discovers the location of the ancient crystal weapon of the sun god. Upon being activated by the sunlight, the crystal demonstrates its destructive power, to Dr. Claw's delight.

How well does it match the trope?

4.2 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / SolarPoweredMagnifyingGlass

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