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Western Animation / King

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Russell: "Okay, here's how it happened: We moved into a new house—I know this sounds weird—but I found a secret passage under my bed, and there was another world down there called Under, and I am king of the whole crazy place! (...) You wouldn't believe the stuff that happens down here! ...Or maybe you would!"

King is a Canadian animated series created by animator Gordon Coulthart and developed for television by TV writers Alan Templeton and Mary Crawford. The show was produced by Canadian studios Funbag Animation and Decode Entertainment (now part of WildBrain).

The series follows Russell Wright (Mark Rendall), a 12-year-old boy who's recently moved into a new house. When his family first arrives, Russell sees a something strange in one of the windows. When he goes to the corresponding room, he finds a bed, where the strange thing ducks under. Russell follows it, and finds himself crawling through a tunnel to the bizarre and magical land of Under, where he is then crowned the new king.

Unfortunately, not everyone is too happy with this. In particular, Bob Wire (Cal Dodd), the guy who was acting as king until a new one arrived. He wants the crown back, and he won't rest until it sits atop his head again. There's also Cliff (Robert Tinkler), a local bully who was the previous ruler of Under, and doesn't like that Russell took that from him, as well as Auntie First (Marnie McPhail), the despotic ruler of Near Under who is accompanied by her gentlemanly right-hand man Captain Darling (James Kee).

Thankfully, Russell isn't alone. With the help of his royal court, consisting of Vernon the android (Robert Tinkler) and Loopy the jester (Adam Reid); the Ex-Princess of Near Under, Populah (Julie Lemieux); and Gus (James Kee), Russell's dog who followed him into Under (and can talk down there), Russell navigates the ins and outs of being a king, goes on adventures all throughout Under, and does all he can to keep Bob Wire, and other enemies of Under, from taking the crown.

The series aired on Family Channel from 2003 to 2005 for 52 episodes over 2 seasons.

Not to be confused with a Canadian police drama that debuted on Showcase in 2011.

King contains examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: It's unknown if it's her real name or not, but we have (Ex) Princess Populah.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: The people of Under come in a wide variety of strange and bright colors.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The series has three primary antagonists: Cliff, Bob Wire, and Auntie First. Each of them threaten Russell's rulership and Under in different ways, but they all want to steal the Crown from him.
  • Bottomless Pits: The Clockmaker moves into one in "The Monster Who Wouldn't Arrive". Loopy describes it as the hottest new lifestyle choice, and Russell finds an entire community just casually living in freefall when he enters the pit to find the Clockmaker.
  • Brave Scot: Gus, being a Scottish terrier, speaks in a Scottish accent while in Under, and is generally a feisty and scrappy little guy.
  • The Bully: Cliff, the previous king of Under. He targets Russell specifically because Russell is the new king, and the people of Under remember him as a tyrant (his title was even "Cliff the Grim").
  • Canine Companion: Gus is this to Russell. Russell considers him his best friend, and Gus possesses unwavering loyalty to his owner.
  • Cartoon Creature: Most of the residents of Under are this, being humanoid or semi-humanoid beings of various unspecified species. Many possess bizarre physical features, strange skin colors, or odd proportions, with even the more human-like ones still recognizably being something quite different.
  • Catchphrase: Russell has "Yonkers!", Bob Wire has a habit of calling people "Schmeds", and Gus has "It's Terrier Time!".
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Under's ruler is whoever enters through the portal above the king's throne. Under's had numerous kings before Russell, all of them kids. A possible exception is King Rocko, who looked more teenage in stature.
  • Cloud Cuckooland: Under is this, being inhabited by all manner of weird and wacky creatures, full of bizarre phenomenon and landscapes, and having plenty of odd customs and traditions.
  • Court Jester: Loopy is this for Russell's kingdom, being a ditzy, oddball comic relief character.
  • Evil Aunt: Auntie First is this to Ex-Princess Populah. While she wasn't responsible for making Populah an ex-princess (Populah quit on her own accord), she did seize the throne for herself when Populah retired.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Under is located under Russell's bed. Likewise, many the other locations are named simply after their location relative to Under, like Near Under, Under Under, Ahead-of-Under, and Before-Under. Given that Under is a Cloud Cuckooland, it's likely the inhabitants of Under just saw it as common sense to give them their unimaginative names.
  • Extra Eyes: The Krenits from "Slow Plums And Krenits" have eyes all over their heads.
  • Eye on a Stalk: A number of beings in Under have their eyes on stalks, notably Bob Wire.
  • Floating Continent: Under has an entire mountain range that floats during the day and lands back down at night.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Vernon often develops inventions and machines to help Russell with running Under, although sometimes they end up causing problems (usually when Bob Wire or Auntie First decide to use them for their own ends).
  • Gasshole: King Lugobrius Rex, ruler of the Empire of Flax, speaks entirely in burping. Also worth mentioning is the Flatulent Swamp, named for the exact reasons you imagine why.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Auntie First, the ruler of Near Under, is a despotic tyrant. In her first episode, she forced everyone to vote no on letting all the pets in Near Under go free. When she discovered Russell voted yes on that, she kicked him out of Near Under.
  • The Good King: Russell does his best to be this, making decisions that he believes will benefit Under or just trying to do what's right. While he doesn't always succeed, his good intentions have earned him the title "Russell the Right", and he's far more popular with his subjects than Cliff was.
  • Horse of a Different Color: The characters ride on strange hovering manatee-like creatures called sky-cows.
  • Instant Messenger Pigeon: In this case, it's because the people of Under shoot messenger birds like arrows.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: Outside of Russell's narration, the opening theme is a completely instrumental, ska-influenced theme song, devoid of any lyrics. The French dub, in comparison, lacks Russell's narration, turning the opening purely into this.
  • Job Title: Russell is the king of Under.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Russell suffers this in "A Glass Of Memory", upon falling into the "GeeIForget River".note 
  • Logic Bomb: In "Brain Jam", Vernon's mind locks up and he reverts to telling time when asked a riddle.note  He finally snaps out of it upon hearing the answer.note 
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Captain Darling is this to Auntie First. Unlike his mistress, he's very polite towards Russell and his friends, and sometimes even helps them out when he thinks Auntie First has gone too far or there's a greater threat on the loose.
  • Mooks: Bob Wire relies on little green toad-like critters called Frags to help him do his dirty work.
  • One-Word Title:
    • King, naturally.
    • The title for the French dub averts this, being retitled to "Le roi, c'est moi" ("The king is me").
  • Opening Narration: The show's intro has Russell explain the premise of the series and introduce the main characters.
  • Organic Technology: Variant. Most regular machines and appliances in our world are substituted with living creatures in Under that perform the same function. For example, squirt-hogs are elephantine creatures with water tanks for bodies that the people of Under use as living hoses and fire hydrants.
  • Plant Person: The Florians. They communicate through smells and bursts of pollen.
  • Precision F-Strike: Or at least as close to the F-bomb as a kids show can allow. Bob uses the word "freaking" on a couple of occasions, namely in the episodes "King Russell the Repellent" and "As Good As Gus", among others.
  • Punny Name:
    • Bob Wire. Like barbed wire, which is fitting since that's what Bob Wire is made out of.
    • Russell Wright is known to his subjects as "Russell the Right" - a play upon his last name and his efforts to be a good king to the people of Under.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: Vernon. He's a robot who moves around using wheels for feet, but has a personality, is able to think up all kinds of wacky things, and has the ability to eat.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: Moon rats, the giant rats that inhabit Under's moon.
  • Sapient House: The Tower Of Derision in its titular episode. It's a tower where a face manifests on the walls to whoever tries to climb it, and proceeds to hurl insults at them until they can no longer take it, and run out in tears.
  • The Scapegoat: This trope is Invoked on the Pubrick in "Never Be Nice To A Pubrick". When Russell makes a law forbidding people from blaming the Pubrick on stuff, he learns the hard way that Pubricks turn into giant monsters when they're not being blamed for everything.
  • Single-Target Law: In "Never Be Nice To A Pubrick", after seeing everyone blaming the titular creature for things it couldn't possibly have any control over, Russell passes a law to get people to stop blaming it for things. He later learns that the Pubrick has to be blamed for things all the times, or else it will grow into a violent monster.
  • Stumbled Into the Plot: Russell Wright finds a portal hidden under his bed and discovers a land called Under, where he is deemed king because he's from "the place where kings come from" (our world).
  • Taken for Granite: The Great Big Hairy Eyeball in "Blizzard in a Box" temporarily turns anyone it looks at to stone.
  • Talking Animal: Any animal that comes from Up to Under gains the ability to speak. Gus is the most prominent example, as he's one of the main characters, but a cat and a stray dog also end up in Under and gain the ability to speak when down there in two different episodes.
  • The Tooth Hurts: In "Monsteritis", monster Loopy bites Vernon on the arm, which just shatters his teeth.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Gus develops quite the craving for Wiggly Pie shortly after arriving in Under, much to the vendor's chagrin over Gus constantly eating his pies without paying for them.
  • Unexplained Accent: For some reason, Populah speaks in a Southern accent.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Near Under is a kingdom full of them. When the people of Near Under seek asylum in Under, Vernon builds them all a place they can live in, only for them to complain about it. They also come running back to Near Under when Auntie First and Captain Darling start singing Near Under's anthem. Ex-Princess Populah cites this as the reason why she let Auntie First have the throne.
  • Vanishing Village: The Uncertain City in "Monsteritis", which constantly flickers in and out of existence. Whenever it vanishes, whoever is inside it vanishes as well, and won't return until the Uncertain City reappears.
  • Verbal Tic: Bob Wire's lackeys, the Frags, have two. They tend to let out a series of gurgle-like noises at random, usually when they're goofing off or have nothing to say. And whenever one of them are talking, they'll randomly deepen their typically high-pitched voices, usually for emphasis, comedic timing, or as a sign that they mean business.
    • Vernon tends to exclaim "Bwah!" quite a bit, even occasionally interjecting it into certain words.
  • Viral Transformation: Monsteritis in its titular episode. It's contracted by being bit by a creature called a Frobish. It slowly turns its host into a monster over the course of a day. The only cure is eating the mouth slime of the Dongo Worm, which resides in the Uncertain City. Cliff gets it in "Monsteritis", spurring Russell to make the trip of the episode. Loopy is revealed to have got it from the Frobish as well, and has to be fed a spoonful of the slime to return to normal.
  • Vocal Evolution: Mark Rendall, who voiced Russell, naturally goes through this as the series progresses, due to being a child actor at the time. As a result, his voice notably gets deeper from season to season. Its quite noticeable by the end of the series where Russell's voice in the Opening Narration sounds very different from how he does by this point in the show.
  • Weird Moon: Under's moon has an unusual orbit that causes it to come extremely close to the planet once a year. The people of Under take advantage of this by using the moon as a landfill, simply dumping their trash into the streets and letting gravity do the rest for them. However, when Russell first witnesses this event, he learns that there's so much trash on the moon now that the extra weight will cause it to crash right on top of Under.