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Western Animation / Martin Mystery

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

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.

Tropes used on this show include:

  • 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.
  • Bald Women: 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. She stays bald for the entire episode (and gets a wig at the the very end of the episode).
  • Baleful Polymorph: 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.
  • 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.
  • Brother-Sister Team: Technically, Martin and Diana are stepsiblings and not actual siblings, but they treat each other like real siblings 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.
  • 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 everyone would pay attention to it instead of her head).
  • 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
  • Crossover: With Totally Spies!, but only Martin and M.O.M appear—although Martin mentions Diana when he compared to 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 in a strange way. Martin even jokingly compliments that she's only a mini-mutant because her eyes changed and she has a tail.
  • Christmas Episode: 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.
  • 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.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Several Monsters of the Week.
  • Enthralling Siren: 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.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: 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.
  • 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.
  • Fun with Acronyms: As stated in the Totally Spies! crossover, M.O.M. means "Mystery Organization Manager".
  • 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 whole series in general is loosely based on a series of Italian comic books.
  • Incest Subtext: Martin and Diana's moments of Ship Tease, as they're stepsiblings. The fact that in the original comic they are lovers who eventually got married only increases this.
  • 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.
  • Made of Iron: Martin and Java have survived situations of where a normal person could of 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.
  • 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.
  • Monster of the Week: Every other monster is also an "Eldritch Abomination of the week".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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 effecting their work came up several times as a plot point, however.
  • Sibling Switch Squick: As previously mentioned, Martin and Diana were originally lovers who eventually got married rather than stepsiblings in the original comics.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: In most situations, Martin and Diana are embodiments of this trope.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 she 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.
  • Whole Plot Reference: To The Thing (1982) and 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.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Martin finds a girl who is pretty much a perfect match for him in the two-parter with the shadow people. She leaves him one episode later under pretty flimsy circumstances.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Seen on the human form of a siren.
  • Younger and Hipper: Well, younger to be sure. Compare the page image with this one of the leads from the original comic.