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Western Animation / Martin Mystery

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Left to right: Diana, Martin and Java. Bottom Left is Billy.

Martin Mystery (2003-2006) is a French/Canadian animated series based on the Italian comic book Martin Mystère, animated by the studio that brought you Totally Spies! and produced for YTV.

The series revolves around typical teens Martin Mystery, his step-sister Diana Lombard and their pal Java the Caveman, as they're sent on various missions by a secret organization known as "The Center" to investigate paranormal activity around the world.

In October 2023, a new adaptation of Martin Mystery was announced as being in production.

Tropes used on this show include:

  • Academy of Adventure: During Season 3 many cases occur at Torrington, basically turning it into one of this.
  • Agent Scully: While Martin is quick to assume anything strange is caused by the supernatural, Diana will try and find a more mundane explanation.
  • All Cavemen Were Neanderthals: Java, unsurprisingly.
  • All Webbed Up: Mr. Black as a transformed spider does this.
  • An Alien Named "Bob": Billy is an alien.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: In the episode "Journey into Terrorland". Downplayed in that it's based off of horrifying supernatural events, it only becomes worse due to the people constructing it accidentally taking an artifact of a deceased Egyptian prince for one of the rides.
  • Amusing Injuries: Martin frequently endures these.
  • Animesque: The animation for this show features many anime references.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Diana usually thinks up of more scientifically possible conclusions to counter any of Martin's supernatural theories.
  • Art Evolution: More noticeable in some ways than in others. Most obvious with Martin, who in the first season has a model just different enough to be noticeable - squarer shoulders, more rectangular head, his hair is drawn a bit differently, and it all gives him the impression of being taller and more imposing than he ended up being. He also initially had a noticeable Lantern Jaw of Justice in some shots.
  • Artifact of Doom: One such example is the cursed medallion which results in a Brainwashed and Crazy stint for Martin, Java and the teacher in "Pirates Of Doom" not to mention the numerous other Artifacts of Doom throughout the series.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The protagonists have faced all sorts of giant monsters, either of supernatural or alien nature.
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: Many episodes start with "Attack of the (insert name)", but notably a killer teddy bear.
  • Bald Mystic: In the episode "The Lost Tribe," Diana loses all her hair after a hair dye job goes wrong and is mistaken by a group of underground creatures as their long lost queen. Turns out the real queen was kept in statis at the Center all this time.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Before becoming the harmless alien we know, Billy was a ruthless gladiator that went about destroying planets after he annihilated them. He returned to this stage once and boy was it a battle.
  • The Blank: One episode features a face-stealing doppelganger.
  • Body Horror: One episode had a slug-like monster possessing people. Those possessed had little maggots wriggling on them, crawling in and out of their skins. Bonus point for having the victims wear band aids once freed, on the various points where the maggots were emerging.
  • Body Snatcher / Grand Theft Me: Most of the heroes fall victim to this at some point but special mention goes to Martin himself who seems to get possessed more frequently.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Much like Marathon's other show Totally Spies!, this happens fairly often. For some specific examples: Martin in "The Vampire Returns", due to getting his soul sucked out by the vampire, as well as (along with Java and the teacher) in "Pirates of Doom" as a result of the cursed medallion.
  • Broken Pedestal: Jenny to Damien in "Mystery of the Teen Town", after she sees what he's really like in the climax.
    Jenny: I thought you were cute! You're even a bigger loser than Martin!
  • Brother–Sister Team: Technically, Martin and Diana are stepsiblings and not actual siblings, but they treat each other like real siblings (the occasional Flirty Stepsiblings moment notwithstanding) and do seem to genuinely care for each other.
  • Busman's Holiday: This happens once in awhile. In one case, Martin and Diana were visiting an aunt of theirs in the country and happened to encounter a supernatural scarecrow. Additionally, the episode with the Whole-Plot Reference to Evil Dead occurs when they're at a corporate retreat.
  • Christmas Episode: Two of these, one featuring a wish-granting snow globe that created a pocket dimension containing a Christmas-themed village... whose inhabitants, including things like the trees, reindeer and snowmen, were actually monsters. The second features an evil elf who comes every 100 years giving out wishes that actually twist/reverses one's wish.
  • Coincidental Accidental Disguise: Diana resembled the queen of an ancient race called Alpha-Omega due to two things: One, she was trying out a hair dye that caused her hair to fall out and leave a stain on her balding head, and MOM just so happened to toss her a tooth necklace (she stated it was so everyone would pay attention to it instead of her head) that their queen would usually wear.
  • Combo Platter Powers: Octavia Paine's super-monster is a synthesis of the world's most powerful monsters. the end result is a creature that nearly destroyed The Center, which also resulted in the one-time use of the U-Watch's laser-firing function, which just bounced off its skin. Too bad it inherited all of those monster's weaknesses
  • Contemporary Caveman: Java works as the janitor and cook.
  • Creator Provincialism: Unlike in the comics, the series location is changed to the province of Quebec, specifically in Sherbrooke.
  • Crossover: With Totally Spies!, but only Martin and M.O.M appear—although Martin mentions Diana when he compared Sam to her.
  • Cross-Popping Veins: Diana gets these a lot with Martin annoying her such as when he tries to get girls.
  • Cute Monster Girl: In the season three finale, Diana gets mutated into a very cute lizard-girl. It helps that she is wearing a a black-red skin-tight suit which is shown to have underwater high-heel jet shoes and mask, so it is more of a high-tech suit. Those two combined make her look unusually cute. Martin even jokingly compliments that she's only a mini-mutant because her eyes changed and she has a tail.
  • Da Chief: M.O.M.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Billy used to be a Space Pirate Warlord called Ganthar, who makes the Metroid Space Pirates (sans Ridley) look like amateurs, conquering and strip-mining planets until they were completely barren, before moving on to another unfortunate planet. But all the violence became too much for him, and he fled to Earth as the Roswell Incident alien, and does a complete Heel–Face Turn, and a complete personality 180, resulting in the Billy we know.
  • Demonic Possession: Fairly common - surprisingly many episodes involve a Sealed Evil in a Can trying to return to full power, gain revenge of accomplish some other evil goal by possessing the body an innocent soul, usually but not always one of our heroes.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Octavia Paine created the super-creature as revenge for M.O.M firing her for not measuring up to standards.
  • Eerie Arctic Research Station: The episode "The Body-Swapper" was a Whole-Plot Reference to The Thing. An ancient, shape shifting organism unearthed in the Canadian tundra begins terrorizing a Center base located there.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Several Monsters of the Week.
  • Evil Mentor: Octavia Paine is revealed to be this to Diana, though it's pretty clear to the audience that something isn't right.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Some have been faced throughout the series, like an evil druid that intended to turn everyone in a town into trees, a voodoo sorcerer who wanted to claim an ancient heirloom and a warlock trapped beneath Torrington for turning people into animals.
  • Facing Your Fears: The episode, "Attack of the Sandman" forced the protagonists and the Sandman's other victims to face their nightmares in order to get out of the monster's domain.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink / Science Fantasy: Not only does the show feature creatures and legends both original and obscure from every kind of sci-fi, fantasy or folklore story imaginable, but it also likes to fuse legends together to give them new spins—resulting in things like werewolves that transport victims to another dimension, ancient demons with arcane magic trapped inside cursed websites, or witches that spread like zombies.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Martin is the Thief as despite not being that bright, he is actually rather clever and thinks on his feet by improvising while also being known as a trickster. Diana is the Mage as she is academically smart and thinks more rationally but also that in certain events, she gets possessed and has supernatural abilities with it. Java is the Fighter as he is a caveman with limited vocabulary and intelligence, but is physically strong and tough who usually does most of the trio's muscle work.
  • Fish People: Some toxic waste turns a colony of harmless sea monkeys into this (although with crustacean looks).
  • Flirty Stepsiblings: Martin and Diana—it should be noted that in the original comics, they were actually lovers who eventually got married, rather than relatives.
  • Forced Transformation: Occasionally, the main characters and/or a bunch of random characters will be transformed into an animal. They all turn back at the end, obviously.
  • Freudian Trio: Martin is the Id, Diana is the Superego, and Java is the Ego.
  • Fun with Acronyms: As stated in the Totally Spies! crossover, M.O.M. means "Mystery Organization Manager".
  • Gentle Giant: Java is big and burly, but a completely nice person.
  • Harmless Electrocution: Happens to Martin in two episodes, "The Body Swappers" and "It's Alive (Part 1)".
    • X-Ray Sparks: "The Body Swapeprs" even features Martin's skeleton during his electrification.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: More often, the cases Martin and the others face are caused by other humans doing something to provoke the case, either through greed and/or their carelessness.
    • One of the most notable examples is the Mothman, who was a college student who ended up as the test subject of his own teachers’ illegal experiment to create a human moth hybrid. Needless to say, the teachers were arrested once the truth is uncovered, and the Center took the student to restore him to his human form.
    • Dr. Dolphus, the evil paleontologist from "Return of the Beasts" attempted to create an army of mutant dinosaurs and other prehistoric beings such as Java to conquer the world.
    • Octavia Paine also counts, as she tricks Diana into bringing her several monsters so she can painfully extract their powers note  to create a hybrid just to get revenge on M.O.M, even mutating her agents into mindless mutants note 
    • The episode "Mystery of the Vanishing" has the Applebyes, a family that disappeared into another dimension back in the 1960s. They made a Deal with the Devil on the Babylonian dragon Zook to remain young for all this time; in exchange for luring victims into his world for him to feed off of. Once Zook dies being unable to feed, the Applebyes revert to their normal ages and are arrested.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The episodes are all named in a style reminiscent of B-Movies or pulp magazines, with names like "It Came From Inside The Box" or "Return Of The Warlock".
  • Impostor-Exposing Test: Since one episode was a Whole-Plot Reference to The Thing (1982), this was pretty much mandatory. In this case, the test consisted on scanning the DNA of hair and saliva.
  • In Name Only:
    • The Mothman episode.
    • The entire series is very loosely based on the Italian comic book Martin Mystère.
  • Incest Subtext: Martin and Diana's moments of Ship Tease are this, as they're stepsiblings. The fact that in the original comic they are lovers who eventually got married only increases this.
  • Infantilization Retaliation: In one episode, when Martin, Diana, and Java are called to The Center, they meet M.O.M., who has a cute-looking baby alien. Martin wags his finger in front of it to say hi, only for it to bite down with some razor sharp teeth.
  • Invisible Parents: Diana's mother (Martin's stepmother) only receives a brief mention by Gerard (Martin's father and Diana's stepfather) in a Christmas Episode.
  • Jackass Genie: A recurring Monster of the Week. Another episode featured an evil Christmas elf who twisted holiday wishes.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Martin is commonly one of these, nearly always putting aside his self-absorbed, childish self, in order to confront whatever monster is on the scene. As soon as the mission is over, he's back to his normal behaviour. Arguably, his annoying behaviour can become a fusion of a Keet and Jerkass, as shown with his antics in the season three finale, which pushed Diana to do a Face–Heel Turn and join a rival organization. The betrayal is repaired by the end of the two-part episode, but Martin's lack of empathy seems to still remain at the end.
  • Keet: Martin is always giddy at the prospect of facing something paranormal.
  • Killer Rabbit: One wouldn't consider Leprechauns or garden gnomes as dangerous creatures, but here they are.
  • "King Kong" Climb: A mutant venus flytrap (yes, really) does this in episode Wrath of the Venus Flytrap, taking Java with it.
  • Kraken and Leviathan: An episode involved a treasure guarded by the Leviathan that somehow knew if a single coin was missing from its treasure, much to Diana's surprise.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Stephen King, here called "Evan Prince".
  • Leprechaun: One appeared as a Monster of the Week
  • Lovable Coward: Billy is meek, easily scared and doesn't do danger well. This is ironically the last thing you would expect from a former alien conqueror, but Billy is quite heavily suppressing that side of himself.
  • Little Green Men: Billy, but not so much in his Ganthar form.
  • Living Shadow: Borack the Faceless One is the ruler of a realm composed completely of shadow, and is one of three characters in the entire show that got a two-part episode. Also an Eldritch Abomination, as he pulled the entire population into the shadow world, and if he had succeeded in claiming Earth, they would have all turned into shadows themselves.
  • Lost in the Maize: One episode involved the protagonists visiting an aunt of theirs in her recently bought farm, which unsurprisingly hosts a cursed scarecrow.
  • Mad Scientist: Lots of them, like the mad paleontologist that brought Java back to life.
  • Made of Iron: Martin and Java have survived situations of where a normal person could have been sent to a hospital.
  • Magic Skirt: An upper body variant. In the episode where Martin and Diana hang out with Gerard they're hung upside down, and Diana's t-shirt slides down but only enough to bare her midriff.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: The Synths are a mixture of alien and human genes with a very powerful shriek. Martin manages to turn it against them using his father's sound recorder.
  • The Masquerade: The Center keeps paranormal activity under wraps, though the extent and severity in which they do so depends on the season. In earlier episodes, important people and authority figures sometimes already knew about the Center and would be given the heads up whenever an agent was coming by. In later seasons, only Center agents are allowed to know anything, and Martin and Diana are always on their own.
  • Million to One Chance: As seen in The Vampire Returns, Martin shares a very rare gene with Simone's original lover, and shares his looks also.
  • Mirror Reveal: In the Christmas Episode, Diana's ears grow and she doesn't notice, only complaining that everyone's so loud all of a sudden. Martin then holds up a dinner platter to show her what has happened.
  • Monster of the Week: Every other monster is also an "Eldritch Abomination of the week".
  • Mysterious Purple: The show uses this trope (combined with Green Is Gross and Sickly Green Glow) a lot to build atmosphere as the show itself focuses on paranormal investigations of mysterious and unexplainable happenings around the world.
    • The title of the show is always written in purple with a green outline.
    • Martin's watch that connects him to the Center of paranormal investigations is colored deep purple and teal, as is most of the gadgets he uses to collect clues.
    • M.O.M.'s office, where the team meets with the director of The Center to get their missions and seemingly exists in its own dimension, is almost entirely violet.
    • When supernatural things are occurring, the sky will often be 1) a night sky, 2) filled with Ominous Clouds, and 3) purple and violet-hued. This Color Motif is established in the first episode of the series when the crew investigates the Bogeyman and continues throughout the series.
  • Neat Freak: Lampshaded by Martin when it comes to Diana in You Do Voodoo.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Diana. Not exactly a nerd, but Martin certainly thinks she is.
  • Never Sleep Again: The Sandman, a Monster of the Week, can trap people in their dreams.
  • N.G.O.: The Center also an MIB agency.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: Some of the creatures fought in the series don't have evil intentions and are either protecting their territory, guarding something or simply are predators.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Pretty much every Monster of the Week has perfectly temporary effects.
    • "Return Of The Beasts". A mad paleontologist (yes, really) uses a huge geode to create dinosaurs and send them to rampage through the city for no apparent reason. At the end, Martin tricks one to melt the geode with its acid spit (really, dinosaurs do that), which causes every dinosaur to spontaneously melt into sludge. And is when you consider that the same paleontologist created Java through the same process, yet he remains intact and joins the gang permanently. (It's a flashback episode).
  • Not Blood Siblings: As previously mentioned, Martin and Diana are technically stepsiblings, due to Martin's dad and Diana's mom getting married when the two were very young.
  • Occult Detective: Martin and Diana are Center agents that protects the people of Earth from extraterrestrial and supernatural threats.
  • Once an Episode:
    • Every episode, they will go to the Center to have a briefing with MOM. MOM will be working on something. And Martin will be curious. And it will be destroyed.
    • In most episodes, Martin will come across some kind of strange slime—giving an excuse to use the cool teleporting sequence that comes with using the slime scanner.
    • At some point early in the episode, something is sent to Billy for analysis. At a later point in the episode, Billy will appear out of nowhere, scaring the heck out of the heroes (who have usually just avoided something scary) in the process, to give the results in person. He will then zip away just before things get dangerous again. This was used a lot less often during the 3rd season.
    • At some point, the Monster of the Week will eat/capture/brainwash/do something to either the Power Trio, Billy or M.O.M, taking them out of the episode until the end. These are always perfectly cleared up by the end of the episode, generally disappearing when the monster is dispatched. (See No Ontological Inertia above.)
  • Only Sane Man: Diana and M.O.M.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: A western-type dragon named Zook is faced early in the series, and a reanimated Chinese dragon is seen in the episode "The Awakening".
  • Our Monsters Are Different: While this series do use monsters from traditional mythology or folklore, they typically are added with different or added abilities.
  • Our Sirens Are Different: An episode had the gang encounter a siren who attacks a nearby town out of anger after a relationship with a sailor turns sour. Unlike the myths, the siren could change between a beautiful lady and a bird monster at will.
  • Parasites Are Evil: In "The Beast From Within", Martin is infected and brainwashed by a slug-like alien. Having turned its host into a living incubator for its larvae, the alien spends the episode sadistically stalking the other heroes in the hopes of making them the breeding ground for its offspring.
  • Parental Favoritism: Gerard tries, but it always comes off as him liking Diana more than Martin, though he's arguably a science person, compared to Martin's enthusiasm with the paranormal (and tendency not to do well at school), which actually matches perfectly with Diana's rational views, and high marks. But he's not above accepting the paranormal with sufficient proof, since before he finds out about The Center, he's practically hit in the face by it twice, each time Martin saves him, earning his father's respect.
  • Prehistoric Monster: Some of the creatures encountered are downright prehistoric.
    • The scientist that brought Java to life also created a group of mutant dinosaurs.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Inverted—in the comics that the series is based, Martin and Diana were actually lovers who eventually got married rather than stepsiblings.
  • Pursued Protagonist: "House of the Zombie" and "Scream from the Forest" both begin with a Bit Character running through the woods while being pursued by the Monster of the Week. The man in the former episode is caught and never seen again. The man from the latter episode somehow escapes and is later found and taken to a doctor by the heroes.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Marvin was sent here so we could rip off the plot from The Thing (1982).
  • Related in the Adaptation: In the TV-series, Martin and Diana are stepsiblings (Martin's dad and Diana's mom got married when they were little).
  • Scary Scarecrows: The aptly named "Night of the Scarecrow" features a cursed scarecrow hellbent on scaring the life out of all intruders from the land that once belonged to its owner.
  • Shout-Out: Billy, a small green alien who sits in a hovering chair, somewhat resembles the Mekon.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Martin and Diana often spite each other and pick fights for little to no reason at all, though they usually know when to drop it and focus on the mission. Their fighting negatively affects their work came up several times as a plot point, however.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: In most situations, Martin and Diana are embodiments of this trope.
  • Spider People: One of Torrington's teachers, mad at being forced to retire, turns himself into a humanoid spider monster to get revenge.
  • St. Patrick's Day Episode: In the episode "Rage of the Leprechaun," Marvin escapes from an angry leprechaun and calls Martin and Diana for help. It turns out that he was keeping a mystic, four-leaf clover that grants the holder limitless good luck, and the leprechaun in question wants to take it back. The action is implied to take place around or on St. Patrick's Day.
  • Talk Like a Pirate: When Martin is possessed by the enchanted medallion of a pirate captain, he talks this way.
  • Team Mom: The appropriately named M.O.M.
  • Teenage Wasteland: A type 2 in "Mystery of The Teen Town"; adults are sent to the cyberspace by the teenagers.
  • Tsundere: Diana, very much so.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Java is a big burly caveman, and rarely, if ever, does anyone find his presence unusual. Possibly justified in that, if they don't know he's a caveman, he just seems like a big guy with a weird way of speaking. And if they do know, he's probably not the strangest thing they've seen all day.
  • Was Once a Man: Some monsters were once regular people turned into something by a weird experiment or curse, like the moth man and the rat man.
  • Weakened by the Light: Some of the monsters seen in the series abhor sunlight, like vampires, the Alpha-Omegas and Nadu the Spirit of Darkness.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The fungus monsters weakness is salt. One has to wonder what he's doing in Utah if that's the case.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened to the freaking Gatekeeper!? In the Season 2 finale M.O.M. turns evil and hell is almost literally thrown upon Earth, as she teams up with the demonic Gatekeeper. After the Gatekeeper is assumingly destroyed and M.O.M. is back to normal, she decides to shut down The Center and go back to her old job. The episode ends on a cliffhanger with the Gatekeeper having survived and sneaking into the Center to cause whoknowswhat? The episode afterwards is back to Status Quo as if that never happened.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Even if Diana wasn't called out on it (Martin was more upset about her snagging yet another monster from him), she was quite sadistic in detonating what looked like a nitro-glycerin explosive in a cave. Underwater. In catacombs. Which collapsed the catacombs right on top of Martin and Billy. Probably because they were underwater in the first place, they survived.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Episode "Attack of the Sandman" showed that Java is afraid of cats, Martin fears being fired and Diana fears disorder and being late.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: "The Body-Swapper" to The Thing (1982) and "The House of Zombies" to Evil Dead, at least.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: Diana Lombard goes through this process in season three finale, but winds up being betrayed by the Evil Mentor.
  • Wicked Witch: Grizzwalda Dorey is a very typical case.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Martin finds a girl who is pretty much a perfect match for him in the two-parter "Day of The Shadows". She leaves him one episode later under pretty flimsy circumstances.
  • Younger and Hipper: Well, younger to be sure. Compare the page image with this one of the leads from the original comic.


Martin's Surprise

Martin Mystery is abducted and thrown into a van by shadowy figures with some creepy masks.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / MenacingMask

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