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Western Animation / M.A.S.K.

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"Illusion is the Ultimate Weapon".

M.A.S.K. was an animated television series directed by three Japanese studios - KK C&D Asia (Season 1, with Hanho Heung-Up as an uncredited assistant), Studio World, and Ashi Productions (both Season 2)note  and produced by the French-American DIC Entertainment (Jean Chalopin & Andy Heyward). It was based on the toyline of the same name sold by Kenner.

A total of 75 episodes were broadcast from 1985 to 1986 in syndication. One of many cartoons produced during the 1980s as a vehicle for toys, M.A.S.K. (which is an acronym for the Mobile Armored Strike Kommand), was essentially a mashup of G.I. Joe (with the whole "opposing factions of terrorist and peacekeepers" thing) and Transformers (with the converting vehicles; here, The Gimmick wasn't transforming robots, but seemingly ordinary vehicles that turned into heavily-armed fighting machines). It featured a special task force featuring an array of characters, led by Matt Trakker, with transforming vehicles engaged in an ongoing battle against the criminal organization V.E.N.O.M. (an acronym for the Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem), with an emphasis on super-powered helmets called "Masks" worn by the characters.

The series, like with these types of shows, focused mainly on the vehicles and characters from the toy line. More characters were introduced, both from M.A.S.K. and V.E.N.O.M., as the line expanded. There is a storyline difference in the mini comic books which came with each toy. In the comics, Miles Mayhem knew the identity of Matt Trakker and had originally helped start the M.A.S.K. team but betrayed him later by killing Matt's younger brother Andy.

Besides the cartoon and toys, there were also various merchandising products like sticker books, coloring books and party goods to capitalize on the success of the show, as well as a Comic-Book Adaptation from DC Comics.

In that series, the M.A.S.K. team is sponsored by an organization called the Peaceful Nations Alliance, with a guy named Duane Kennedy as their rep. Their exact relationship wasn't explained. Duane and the P.N.A. did appear in the cartoon, although in a smaller role. Similarly, V.E.N.O.M. didn't exactly have a clear goal as to what they did. They weren't the typical villains who sought global dominance, and their schemes mostly revolved around illegal activities and the like. The comics tried to give them a more fleshed-out background, where they were seemingly the main force of a bigger evil group called Contraworld. Like with M.A.S.K. and the P.N.A., their relationship wasn't explained in detail; what Contraworld was trying to use the agents for wasn't clarified either.

Twenty-five years after MASK left the airwaves, the line was "adopted" by G.I. Joe when a new Matt Trakker action figure was released as part of the Joe figure line under the name "Specialist Trakker", with a character bio explaining MASK and VENOM as special ops units of the Joe Team and COBRA.

In 2011, Hasbro released a one-off comic titled Unit: E, which attempted to crossover Hasbro's more famous lines such as G.I. Joe, Transformers, Jem, and other, not-so-famous (or even out-of-left-field) properties like Micronauts, Action Man, Stretch Armstrong, and even Candy Land. Here, it seemed to have been roughly merged with another Hasbro property, C.O.P.S. (1988); it took place in a futuristic, (even more) dystopian Detroit, where the government has left the Motor City's people to fend for themselves, resulting in widespread chaos. An ancient workshop belonging to the "League of Ancient Wheelmen" was found and used by Matt Trakker (now a police officer) and a new team of civil servants, who use the tech they found to help Detroit's citizenry and combat the decay, as M.A.S.K.

December 2015 saw Hasbro and Paramount announcing the formation of a shared Hasbro movie universe (using the G.I. Joe movies as a starting point), which will include this series, as well as the Micronauts, the Visionaries and ROM. 2016 had IDW Publishing announcing a rebooted comic based on the series, to be part of the new Hasbro Comic Universe, starting with the crossover Revolution; Miles Mayhem here was previously a member of Joe Colton's Adventure Team, and parts of the M.A.S.K. tech was reverse-engineered from Decepticon Triple-Changer Blitzwing (M.A.S.K. having started as an anti-Transformer initiative operated by the Earth Defense Command as a subdivision of the GI Joe Team); after the events of Revolution, a M.A.S.K. ongoing started, with Matt and the rest of M.A.S.K. now on the run, trying to track down Mayhem who had turned traitor and been working with Baron Karza; when that went south during the Revolution, Mayhem vanished, but has now reappeared with several former M.A.S.K. agents, now operating as V.E.N.O.M. Tropes for that adaptation can be found here.

In January 2018, Paramount announced that M.A.S.K. had been dropped from the Hasbro cinematic universe—but in April they revealed that there would still be a M.A.S.K. film, which would be directed by F. Gary Gray (Friday, The Italian Job (2003), Straight Outta Compton, The Fate of the Furious) and developed as "a contemporary subculture movie with a youth empowerment angle".

Not to be confused with The Mask (or its cartoon adaptation), or the docudrama Mask starring Cher (it doesn't help that the latter film also came out in 1985).

M.A.S.K. provides examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • At the end of "Mystery of the Rings", Matt Trakker chews out his son for disobeying him and informs him that he is grounded. T-Bob asks to take Scott's picture because it could be the last time they'll ever see him smile. Matt responds to T-Bob's statement by laughing.
    • When Scott is asked how he successfully cleaned the ice cream off of T-Bob in "Bad Vibrations", he hesitates before answering in an ashamed tone that he ate the ice cream off of T-Bob because he didn't want it to go to waste. After Matt and the other members of M.A.S.K. laugh at this revelation, Scott soon laughs as well.
  • Agony of the Feet: Miles Mayhem and Vanessa Warfield get zapped in their feet by shrunken members of M.A.S.K. in "Disappearing Act".
  • Alliterative Name: Miles Mayhem. The Racing Series introduces Boris Bushkin and Maximus Mayhem, the brother of aforementioned Miles.
  • Anchovies Are Abhorrent: One episode features a Blob Monster that is vulnerable to salt. This is discovered when it always passes on anchovies in foods it consumes. A Running Gag throughout the episode is someone saying "I can understand about the anchovies!" every time they come up.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Every episode ends with Scott and/or T-Bob being taught an important safety lesson. Amusingly, some episodes of the second season have members of V.E.N.O.M. learn and teach these safety lessons instead.
  • Animesque: The cartoon was a Japanese-American co-production, which was common in the 1980s.
  • Artistic License – Geography: The episode In Dutch allegedly takes place in Holland. The real country is called the Netherlands. Holland is the name of two of its provinces.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: In the episode In Dutch the Dutch characters are portrayed to be a little bit inept at English and have a heavy accent. Most Dutch people in real life, especially those dealing with foreigners, fluently speak English with only a slight accent. The accent itself also doesn't sound like a Dutch person at all.
  • Artistic License – Physics: There is no way certain vehicles would be able to fly in their Defense Modes. Thunderhawk, for example, does not have the right shape, nor the wingspan to achieve flight.
  • Avengers Assemble: Just about every episode, Matt Trakker has his computer "scan personnel files for the M.A.S.K. agents best suited for this mission." The computer names the agents it selects, followed by their special skills and the vehicle they drive or co-pilot. After each is named, a little vignette shows the agent being alerted, dropping whatever he is doing, and running off.
    • A few episodes would include "[Name of Agent] pre-selected" if one of the team was already with Matt, or "[Name of Agent] unavailable" if they were incapacitated or injured.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Both Gator and Piranha's Defense Modes involve launching a part of their vehicle as a boat and submarine respectively, which does look cool. However, this means these vehicles can only reach their full potential when used near water. It also isn't mentioned how they turn back to their regular mode, as their transformation involves literally launching a part of itself...
    • Switchblade transforms from a helicopter to a jet, combining two separate styles of flying into one vehicle. However, this niche can easily be filled by a non-transforming VTOL aircraft.
  • Badass Driver: Pretty much all of them, but Dusty Hayes, Gloria Baker, Brad Turner, Ali Bombay, Sly Rax, and Floyd Malloy stand out.
  • Big Badass Rig: Four of the vehicles fit this mold, namely Rhino, Outlaw, Bulldog and Goliath.
    • Rhino is one of the signature vehicles of MASK and featured on its logo. It is a semitruck that deploys all sorts of weaponry in Defense Mode and serves as a mobile base for MASK during their missions. It can also detach its back part as an extra battlecar.
    • Outlaw is VENOM's answer to Rhino: A large oiltanker that deploys into a mobile base with a giant missile launcher.
    • Bulldog (or Bulldoze in Europe) is a cab-over truck that turns into a tank. It is introduced in the Racing Series.
    • Also introduced in the Racing Series; Goliath is an indy car transport that carries Matt Tracker's race car. It can transform into heavy artillery.
  • Black-and-White Morality: Like many cartoons of the era, the morality of MASK is fairly black and white; VENOM are the irredeemable baddies who don't show any benevolent traits, while MASK are the incorruptible heroes.
  • Bowdlerize: Due to their Old Shame about their involvement in World War II, Germany in the 80's was very sensitive about toys related to combat. Therefore several of the toys are retooled to make them appear less violent. This is mostly done by removing realistic looking weapons or change them to a non-violent object. For example, Rhino's missile is replaced by a "weather satellite", while Switchblade's bomb is completely excluded from the set. As a result of this, the European logo on the toy packaging also lacks a missile.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: The $3 million payment Mayhem receives from a black-market artifacts dealer in exchange for an ancient cape and headdressnote  in "Royal Cape Caper".
  • Cacophony Cover Up: In "Patchwork Puzzle", VENOM agents use the cover of a fireworks display at the Washington Monument to blow a hole in the ground nearby where they believe a stash of money is buried.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Most of the time — not always — characters using their mask's powers would call out something like "Lifter, on!" or "Whip, on!" depending on the name of their mask. The series was inconsistent about this, though, and sometimes it just seemed to be an excuse for the target of a destructive power to get out of the way.
  • Catchphrase: Matt Trakker has two he utters during the Avengers Assemble routine: "Computer! Select the best MASK agents suited for this mission!" "Assemble Mobile Armored Strike Kommand!"
  • Chainsaw Good: Lester's Iguana vehicle has a chainsaw blade on the back and a shredding sawblade on the front.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Bruce Sato, Hondo MacLean, Julio Lopez, and Cliff Dagger were all omitted from the show's second season.
  • Clueless Aesop: Every episode ended with a segment that gave safety tips, but while the advice almost always sound, it didn't always take into account whether it was about a situation their target audience of kids 10 and under were likely to ever actually find themselves in. Like the one from "Solaria Park", which is about the safety measures to take before doing body work underneath a car.
  • Conveyor Belt o' Doom: Matt gets trapped on one in "Royal Cape Caper".
  • Cool Bike: Several of the vehicles featured in this series are bikes. The most notable is Condor, which turns into a small helicopter. Used by MASK agent Brad Turner.
  • Cool Boat: Both Gator and Piranha launch these into the water as part of their Defense Mode. Gator's is more of a conventional speedboat, while Piranha is a small submarine.
  • Cool Car: All of the cars featured in this series fit this trope. Almost all of them are based on Real Life vehicles kids would consider cool, such as sports cars and terrain wagons. And all of them transform into a heavily armed combat vehicle. Listing them all would make this page too long, but the best known are probably:
    • Thunderhawk, which is Matt Trakker's signature vehicle. It is a Chevrolet Camaro that can deploy its gull-wing doors as a set of actual wings to enable flight.
    • Gator, used by MASK agent Dusty Hayes, opens up to launch a small boat into the water.
    • Manta is a Nissan 300ZX used by VENOM agent Vanessa Warfield, which turns into a jet.
    • Jackhammer is a Ford Bronco that turns into an armored combat vehicle.
  • Cool Plane: Several of the vehicles either are this or turn into one for their Defense mode:
    • Switchblade, the main ride of Miles Mayhem, is a futuristic helicopter that can transform into a sleek jet. Contrary to most other vehicles, this one can fire weapons in both modes.
    • Slingshot is an RV that hides a Cool Plane within itself, which is launched when the Defense mode is activated.
    • Meteor is a jet that separates into a smaller jet and a set of heavy artillery.
  • Cool Shades: Brad Turner, Sly Rax, and Lester Sludge all wear a pair of shades that obscure their eyes.
  • Cool Sidecar: Piranha, used by Sly Rax, is a bike with a sidecar. It is the sidecar that forms the main attraction of this vehicle, as it can turn into a small submarine.
  • Demoted to Extra: A lot of the characters who weren't downright Chucked were subject to this in the second season. Most notable being Scott, who was a major character in the first season but in the second season only appeared in the PSAs at the end of the episodes "For One Shining Moment", "High Noon", and "Cliff Hanger". "High Noon" is also the only season two episode to feature T-Bob, but, like Scott, he only appears in the PSA at the end and he also doesn't have any lines.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Averted. While each faction only has one woman in their roster, both women do not seek each other out in combat. In fact, Gloria, MASK's sole female member, doesn't even appear as much as Vanessa, her VENOM counterpart. As a result, Vanessa primarily gets defeated by male members of MASK.
  • Detachment Combat: The Defense Modes of several vehicles split the vehicle up in multiple components.
    • Rhino is a semitruck that can detach the back of the vehicle to form a small battlecar.
    • Meteor is a jet, which can detach the fuselage to form a smaller jet, while the thrusters form heavy artillery.
    • Buzzard is an Indy car that splits up into two piloted two-wheeled vehicles and an autonomous flying drone. The back spoiler of the vehicle can also detach to form a hang glider.
    • The final toyline of MASK is the Split Seconds line. The main gimmick of this line is that all the vehicles split into two separate combat vehicles, with one being controlled by the pilot and another by a holographic clone of them.
  • Disappeared Dad: In "Green Nightmare", Matt confirms that "My father... has left us".
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Floyd Malloy objects to Vanessa addressing him by name in "Challenge of the Masters", insisting that she instead call him "Birdman".
  • Dumb Muscle: Cliff Dagger and Bruno Sheppard.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In the early episodes, VENOM has generic Mooks at their disposal. Matt also had a much lower and quieter voice compared to the later episodes and several of the Mask abilities looked very different. Bruce's Lifter, for example, looked like a green forcefield in the first episode, while later episodes portray it as yellow rings made of energy.
  • The Engineer: Buddy and Bruce, both of the Mechanic subtype. They seemed to be the ones called on to repair the team's vehicles in the field.
  • Ejection Seat:
    • The Rhino semi-trailer track sported one for the passenger side that ejected anyone in the seat sideways, out of the car.
    • Manta has a chair that can be ejected and used as a small escape plane. This is only displayed during the Racing Series.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: Fairly often, an episode would end with the heroes laughing.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: In the episode In Dutch, a Blofeld wannabe has hired VENOM to threaten the Dutch government into making him the new president. If they refuse, VENOM would destroy the Dutch dikes. To the commissioner's frustration, the Dutch government does not take this threat seriously. The villain is then horrified to see Miles Mayhem getting ready to actually carry out that threat!
  • Expository Theme Tune: The theme song explicitly mentions that the titular organization always saves the day from VENOM, that Matt leads the mission and how his mask has super vision.
  • Eye Beams: Most of the Mask powers in the heroes' masks, like Matt's Spectrum, Bruce's Lifter and Dusty's Backlash are fired from their visors; the villain masks usually had their emitters in the forehead or shoulder pads.
  • Flight: Granted to a limited extent to Alex Sector by his Jackrabbit mask and Matt Trakker's Spectrum mask.
  • Flying Car: Several of the cars featured in this show transform into flying vehicles. The most notable of these are Thunderhawk and Manta.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • M.A.S.K. stands for Mobile Armored Strike Kommand and V.E.N.O.M. stands for Vicious Evil Network Of Mayhem.
    • In "Curse of Solomon's Gorge", T-Bob complains that he has a FLU, which he clarifies means "faulty leakage unit".
  • Gag Dub: The Dutch dub adds jokes where there were none in the original English version. For example, in the computer selecting MASK agents speaks in a robotic tone in the original, only stating the name, talents and role and their vehicle. In the Dutch version, the computer is a sentient AI with a lazy personality who constantly complains about being overworked and wanting to sleep.
  • Genre Shift: The first season was more of a generic action-adventure series, and M.A.S.K. members maintained secret identities. The second season was based around racing vehicles and had V.E.N.O.M. aware of the M.A.S.K. team's identities.
  • Gilligan Cut: In "The Scarlet Empress", T-Bob states that he'll never turn into his scooter mode so that Scott can ride to the waterfall, only for the scene to cut to him doing exactly that.
  • God Guise: T-Bob is mistaken for a god by an Incan priest in "Secret of the Andes". He is encouraged to go along with it because the Incan priest may reveal the location of El Dorado if he still believes T-Bob to be a god.
  • Happily Adopted: Scott Trakker is said to be Matt's adopted son. Throughout the series, it is clear that he loves his adoptive father as if he was his natural father.
  • Hard Light: The explanation for the holographic pilots in the Split Seconds vehicles.
  • Hollywood Acid: Miles' Viper mask fires corrosive acid.
  • Human Popsicle: The episode "Secret of the Andes" had Matt Trakker and his son Scott discover and thaw out a frozen Incan priest.
  • Hurt Foot Hop: Mayhem in "Spectre of Captain Kidd" after Dagger accidentally drops a cannonball onto his foot.
  • I Am Very British: Alex Sector speaks in a posh British accent.
  • Identical Twin ID Tag: Maximus Mayhem differs from his twin brother Miles because his hair is a lighter shade of gray, he wears a monocle, and his mask has a green stone on it instead of a red one.
  • I Lied: In "Assault on Liberty", VENOM threatens to destroy the Statue of Liberty unless it's paid a huge ransom. Near the end, Mayhem smugly says "I would have blown the statue up anyhow, just so they would know who they're dealing with." This is immediately followed by M.A.S.K. pulling a Big Damn Heroes moment.
  • Informed Ability: Subverted. When Gloria is selected, one the abilities deemed useful on a mission is being a black belt in kung fu. When she is called during the Once an Episode Avengers Assemble routine, she is sometimes seen doing awesome martial arts moves, but never gets to use these during an actual mission, as the show eschews physical violence against living beings.
  • Initialism Title: The series is named M.A.S.K., standing for Mobile Armored Strike Kommand.
  • Intangible Man: Buddy Hawks when he uses his Penetrator mask.
  • Invisibility: Jacques LaFleur when he uses his Maraj mask.
  • It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: The setting of "Mardi Gras Mystery".
  • Last-Name Basis: This is how the VENOM agents are usually referred to (e.g.: [Miles] Mayhem, [Cliff] Dagger), except for Vanessa Warfield.
  • Lighter and Softer: The Racing Series in contrast to the first season. Whereas the first season is about secret agents fighting terrorists, the Racing Series features these terrorists and secret agents participating in races.
  • Like Reality, Unless Noted: MASK seems to take place in an Alternate History of some sorts. While the earth in the series is similar to ours during the 1980s, there are a few differences. For example:
    • All nations in the world are implied to be part of the Peaceful Nations Alliance. There are no wars among nations and the the only threats to peace come from VENOM and their ilk.
    • Advanced technology, such as the signature Transforming Vehicles, superpowered masks, laser weapons and sentient robots exist. No one acts surprised about these things, implying the world knows about these technological advancements.
    • Several myths regarding powerful historical artifacts are proven to be true.
  • Literal Ass-Kicking:
    • Near the end of the episode "Ghost Bomb", Sly Rax and Vanessa Warfield get shot at and react by running away while clutching their rears in pain.
    • "Disappearing Act" has Miles Mayhem and Vanessa Warfield get shot in their asses with lasers.
  • MacGuffin: Used extensively throughout the series. Many episodes feature VENOM stealing (or attempting to steal) a valuable and/or powerful object, which M.A.S.K. has to either protect or retrieve.
  • Machine Monotone: The computer voice that recommends which agents might be best suited for the mission of the episode does this.
  • Mad Libs Catchphrase:
    [MASK agent], [Missions specialties/other data], Vehicle code name: [name of MASK vehicle]"note 
  • Mask Power: This show runs on it, as every mask grants its wearer a superpower.
  • Mecha Expansion Pack: In The Chinese Scorpion, Bruno's vehicle Stinger could combine with an attachment that turns it into a giant mechanical scorpion. It nearly destroyed Thunderhawk, but the attachment was destroyed by MASK in a subsequent battle. Despite its effectiveness, VENOM never rebuilds this weapon.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Every character got at least one toy and vehicle release. Most had two, but Matt Trakker had seven different toys.
  • Mind over Matter: Granted to Bruce Sato by his Lifter mask.
  • Monochrome Casting: While the M.A.S.K. team is ethnically diverse, the VENOM roster consists entirely of Caucasians.
  • Near-Villain Victory: VENOM nearly achieved this in "Eyes of the Skull" thanks to the Crystal Skull showing them the M.A.S.K. agents' secret identities.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands:
    • The vehicles in general gain new weapons and/or gadgets whenever the plot requires it. For example, in the episode Video VENOM, Rhino suddenly gains anti-gravity rays, allowing it to lift vehicles into the sky, as well as allowing itself to float.
    • Trakker's Spectrum mask. While most of the other masks only have one power, his can be used to glide, fire laser blasts, or broadcast across a range of frequencies.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Sly Rax sounds like Jack Nicholson. Ace Riker sounds like John Wayne.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Uttered in the first two minutes of the pilot episode, "The Death Stone".
  • "Not Wearing Pants" Dream: Discussed by Dusty Hayes in the episode "Eyes of the Skull".
    Dusty: Without my mask, I feel like I'm in one of those dreams where you forget to put pants on.
  • Number Two: Implied to be Alex when he takes command after Matt is bitten by a poisonous snake in "The Everglades Oddity".
  • Official Couple: Matt Trakker and Gloria Baker. Most obvious in "The Counter-Clockwise Caper".
  • Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: During their fights with MASK, VENOM's vehicles are almost always damaged to the point they would be declared total loss in real life. In the following episode, VENOM is shown to have their vehicles fully operable again. How they got the money or resources to repeatedly repair or rebuild their hyper-advanced combat vehicles isn't known, as many of their schemes focus on acquiring money, implying they aren't very rich.
  • Playing with Fire: Cliff Dagger when he uses his Torch mask.
  • Poison and Cure Gambit: VENOM attempts this in "Cold Fever".
  • Portrait Painting Peephole: Scott Trakker is seen looking through the eyes of a portrait in "Riddle of the Raven Master".
  • Product-Promotion Parade: Whenever Matt asks his computer to select the best MASK agents for the mission it feels like this, as the computer shows and names every character and vehicle taking part.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Implied during one of the And Knowing Is Half the Battle segments. A friend of Scott attempts to hitchhike. Matt explains this is a bad idea, as the person picking him up could possibly a VENOM agent (who regularly execute schemes that endanger many people's lives), or worse...a child molester.
  • Remember the New Guy?: As new toys had to be promoted, both MASK and VENOM suddenly deploy new agents halfway through the series, but treat them as if they know them for a long time. Examples are Julio Lopez and Jaques Lefleur for MASK and Bruno Shephard and Floyd Malloy for VENOM.
  • Reset Button: In "Eyes of the Skull", Mayhem acquires a magical Crystal Skull that gives him X-Ray Vision, which he uses to find out the identities of the M.A.S.K. members. Since this knowledge would have changed the status quo of the series, when the skull is destroyed he forgets everything he learned through it.
  • Retool: The majority of the series is about MASK operating in secret to stop the evil schemes of VENOM. VENOM does not know the real people behind the MASK organization. Each episode starts with a mystery which the MASK team needs to solve before confronting VENOM. Both the vehicles and Masks are show to be damaging weapons. The second season, known as the Racing Series, throws all of that out of the window. Instead, MASK and VENOM compete in races with each other, know each others identities and the majority of the weapons and masks both teams use are focused on stalling the opponent rather than hurting them. Another noticeable change is the absence of Scott and T-Bob. The lesson at the end of each episode that's normally presented by them is now presented by members of both MASK and VENOM.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot:
    • T-Bob sometimes displays emotions, complains of being tired, and engages in other un-robotlike behavior. For example, in one of the And Knowing Is Half the Battle segments, Scott positions a ladder on T-Bob's foot. The robot complains about feeling pain. Both Matt and Scott find this amusing and burst out laughing. This is even Lampshaded in one episode:
    T-Bob: You saved my life!
    Scott: I hate to tell you this, T-Bob... but you're not alive.
    T-Bob: Oh. I forgot.
    • The drone piloting the middle part of Buzzard in the second season also has human traits, but to a lesser extent compared to T-Bob. In one of the PSA's, it is hiding from Miles Mayhem when it accidentally scratched Buzzard.
  • Right-Hand Cat: The episode "In Dutch" had Miles Mayhem conspiring with a nameless villain who carried around a white cat.
  • Robot Buddy:
    • T-Bob is a robot and Scott Trakker's closest friend.
    • The second season introduced one for VENOM, the drone pilot for Buzzard's core fighter that was shown out of the vehicle in the series.
  • Rollercoaster Mine: Bruce Sato explores an abandoned mine and goes for a ride in "Quest of the Canyon".
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: There's a Running Gag where MASK agents who receive an alert on their watch telling them they've been selected for a mission will literally drop everything to go to MASK headquarters. It makes you wonder how some of them haven't been fired from their jobs after the first few times this happens.
  • Secret-Keeper: Scott is implied to be this, since he knows the true identities of both the MASK and VENOM agents, but it's never explored.
  • Serious Business: Races become this in the Racing Series. Most of the races get unbelievably high stakes, with some of the prices being an object that would be very dangerous in the hands of VENOM. Therefore, it's crucial for MASK to win.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Several episodes are this from VENOM's point of view. They spend their resources and manpower to uncover an ancient treasure, only to discover it's worthless in terms of money. A good example is the episode Treasure of the Nazca Plain. The treasure in question is a warm steamy cave, which was very valuable in the ice age, but not the kind of treasure VENOM could sell.
  • Shoehorned Acronym: An example of the fourth version, where there heroes' group name is actually "Mobile Armored Strike Kommand." Or, as Robot Chicken put it:
    "M.A.S.K.! Do they know... Command doesn't start with a "K?"
  • Simpleton Voice: Cliff Dagger.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Only one woman in each faction. Vanessa and her vehicle (Manta) never got a toy until the last two waves. Gloria's vehicle (Shark) was never released, though there was a Gloria figure made for the Split Seconds series.
  • Southern-Fried Private: Dusty comes close; he's got the voice and the mannerisms, but not the mistrust of others.
  • The Starscream: Sly Rax in the comics.
  • Status Quo Is God: Most episodes end with the status quo uphold perfectly: MASK saves the day, but VENOM gets away. The episode "A Matter of Gravity" is the only episode to avert this, however, as Firecracker, Hondo's vehicle gets destroyed by an experimental gravity weapon used by Mayhem. Instead of getting a replacement Firecracker, Hondo gets an entirely new vehicle named Hurricane, which he keeps for the rest of the first season.
  • Straw Feminist: VENOM's sole female member Vanessa Warfield occasionally shows shades of this, most notably calling Brad Turner a "male swine" in the episode "Race Against Time", and making misandrist remarks about men being weak and easy to beat in the tie-in DC Comics series.
  • Superpower Lottery: Some of the masks are clearly better than others. Compare Spectrum, which has New Powers as the Plot Demands, including lasers, flight and super vision to Ultra Flash, which merely emits blinding light. Ironically, both belong to Matt Trakker.
  • Super-Senses: Matt Trakker's Spectrum mask grants him super vision. The theme song even says so.
  • Swiss Bank Account: Miles Mayhem is mentioned to have a Swiss bank account in "Bad Vibrations".
  • Third-Person Person: Bruno Sheppard refers to himself in third person in "Race Against Time".
  • Title, Please!: As usual with DiC productions of the era, the episode titles aren't shown onscreen.
  • Too Smart for Strangers: The PSA at the end of the episode "The Ultimate Weapon" involved Matt Trakker warning Scott about the dangers of hitchhiking. Fortunately, Scott's friend avoids anything unpleasant when Scott offers for him to walk with him and his dad to the ball game.
    Matt Trakker: You never know who's going to pick you up. The person who picks him up could be a VENOM agent, or worse, a child molester.
  • Toyless Toyline Character: Shark, Gloria's vehicle in the cartoon. Gloria was the very last figure, but came with a different vehicle as part of the Split Seconds line.
  • Transforming Vehicle: The basic premise; each MASK and VENOM agent has a vehicle that converts from a regular to a combat vehicle.
  • Tsundere: Vanessa Warfield towards Brad Turner in the second season.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Which almost justifies all the Family-Friendly Firearms; the directed-energy weapons both on the vehicles and the masks.
  • The Un-Favorite: Nash Gorey by all the other V.E.N.O.M. agents.
  • Unified Naming System: MASK (Mobile Armoured Strike Kommand) vs. VENOM (Vicious Evil Network Of Mayhem).
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: MASK is only ever deployed when VENOM is suspected to be involved in a criminal scheme. They never take the initiative to locate and apprehend VENOM on their own.
  • Vocal Evolution:
    • In the first few episodes, Matt Trakker has a more subdued and quieter voice compared to his clear voice in the majority of the show.
    • In a couple of early episodes, T-Bob sounds somewhat like Kermit the Frog and doesn't stutter.
  • Villain Exclusivity Clause: Wolf Mayhem.
  • We Will Meet Again:
    • Miles Mayhem often says something like this when M.A.S.K. defeats him.
    • Lampshaded in "Where Eagles Dare":
      Mayhem: I'll get you, Trakker! I'll get you yet!
      Matt: (singsong) You keep telling me that, Miles.
  • Who Is Driving?: In "The Everglades Oddity", Julio and Scott find Matt missing from his sickbed. They hear Thunderhawk take off, and Julio wonders aloud who is flying it. Cut to T-Bob at the controls with a weakened Matt guiding him.
  • Worthless Currency: In the episode "Patchwork Puzzle" (December 11, 1985), the villains are after a large cache of money hidden during The American Civil War (specifically, around the Washington Monument)... and are somehow surprised when it turns out to be Confederate cash.
  • Wrecked Weapon: The heroes' transforming vehicles were occasionally damaged or shot up, but never really destroyed. But in one memorable episode the Big Bad gets his hands on an experimental gravity beam and crushes Hondo's truck, Firecracker. He's naturally dejected at the loss, but at the end of the episode, he gets Hurricane, a brand new transforming 1957 Chevy to replace it. By contrast, later episodes simply gave the characters a second vehicle with no real fanfare.
  • Writer on Board: Scientologist writer Jeffrey Scott's episode "The Star Chariot" involves an ancient spacecraft left behind by Ancient Astronauts. The ending has Scott and T-Bob apparently killed, then beamed away to an alien world, resurrected by aliens, and then beamed back offscreen. All in two or three minutes.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: In this series, "Command" begins with a K.
  • Yes-Man: Nash Gorey.