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Western Animation / Max Steel (2013)

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A 2013 Continuity Reboot of the Max Steel franchise, to relaunch it to the international market.note  Compared to the espionage/counter-terrorism themes of the old series, this one goes in a new, superhero-influenced direction.

Young Max McGrath moves into a new town with his mother. He quickly finds out that his body generates TURBO energy - an extremely potent energy source, which he cannot control... until he meets Steel, an alien entity known as an UltraLink, and who needs TURBO Energy to survive. Together, they become the titular Max Steel and face the forces of Miles Dredd, the evil leader of Trans Human Industries, who wants to acquire all possible sources of the TURBO energy for himself... by any means necessary.

After the shows initial 2 season run, a series of MFT Movies were made that continues the story.note  A live-action movie adaptation was also released on October 14, 2016.

On July 3rd, 2017, episodes of the show aired weekdays at 6:30 a.m. as part of the now defunct KidsClick.


  • Aborted Arc: During the second season, an organization of aliens, the "Black Star Council" was introduced, whose main goal was to capture Steel (who was considered a fugitive) and make him pay for his crimes. However, after the second season ends, they are never mentioned nor seen, implying that the producers dropped the idea for commercial interests.
    • In "Split Decisions", it is revealed that Berto somehow knew about the Turbo Cannon Mode, which only top ranked N-Tek agents should know. It is never explained how he knew about it.
  • A Boy and His X: "His, my name is Max, and this is my buddy, Steel."
    • Played with in the second intro - Steel: My name is Steel, and this is my human, Max.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The Sword of Murakami in "Live By the Sword". Only the Steel suit even begins to stand up to it.
  • Action Mom: Max's mother, Molly McGrath
  • Adaptational Badass: N-Tek went from counter-terrorism agency (with sports equipment front) to full blown Heroes Unlimited.
    • Dredd also has gone from Bond villain to full blown superhuman with Bond villain-level resources.
    • The original Makino, while powerful, was easily outsmarted by Toxzon. This version of Makino is the Big Bad of the series.
    • L'Étranger returns as Mortum, a villain who took down N-Tek and allied with Max's arch-nemesis in order to obtain the Connect-Tek. While Mortum's classic counterpart only appeared three times and supposedly died in his last appearance, Mortum was one of the strongest (and darkest) enemies that Max ever fought against.
  • Adaptational Name Change: The name "Max Steel" was simply a cool alias for Josh McGrath to use on his spy and counter-terrorism missions in the original show, with "Max" referring to the "Max Nanoprobes" his body had been infused with. Here, it refers to the fusion of human Maxwell McGrath with the alien being known as Steel.
    • John Dread is known as Miles Dredd in this continuity.
  • Adaptive Armor: Steel made one for Max, which he cannot remove.... ever.
  • Affectionate Parody: The episode "Supermania" is an Affectionate Parody of superhero comics, and incredibly full of shout outs. Steel becomes a full on comic fanboy, so he turns the Turbosuit into a cheesy superhero outfit with a cape, gives the Strength mode purple pants, declares he has a "Steel sense", and says they need to get to the Fortress of Steelitude. He also adds superhero sound effects. The episode's eyecatches are also done in the style of the Adam West Batman series.
  • Alien Invasion: Happens by the end of the first season. This becomes the main focus of the second invasion with the Ultralink Invasion plot..
  • All Your Powers Combined: All four Elementors in "Elements of Surprise" and Morphos in "Maximum Morphos".
  • Almost Kiss: Max and Sydney, despite only having met the other day, had theirs interrupted by an "earthquake" in the second episode no less.
  • Animation Bump: Happens in Turbo-Warriors, yet there are few badly animated scenes.
  • Ass Pull: In Turbo-Warriors, Night Howl transforms La Fiera into a bionic panther by biting him.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The official site for the series describes R.O.C.C, the N-Tek standard issue tank, as having a bullet proof multilayered Kevlar weave armor plating, ballistics grade polycarbonate window glass and... a wicked 7.1 MP3 player.
  • Badass Army: N-tek proves their badassitude by taking down big threats both with and without Max Steel.
  • Bad Boss: Dread, Makino and Mortum.
  • Bad Future: In Turbo-Warriors, Max sees a vision of what a world dominated by Nexus would be. The world fell into anarchy and chaos, Max's team are killed by Nexus' soldiers and Terrorax appears maniacally laughing in the front of lord Nexus.
  • Butt-Monkey: Kirby. From getting turned into a zombie to possessed by the cursed katana.
    • Also, Jason Naught; he's kicked around by hero and villain alike. Hell, in "Come Together", he unleashed his cyborg combat form, only to immediately get knocked down a large shaft in the THI building.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: Max shouts "Go Turbo" to enter Turbo mode from his civilian guise. To change Turbo modes, he shouts "Go Turbo" along with the mode he wants to change to ("Go Turbo Strength", "Go Turbo Flight" etc.).
    • In one early episode he's on stake-out and transforms from civilian to Turbo mode silently, without shouting the phrase. So did he do it in his head, or is he just being dramatic all the other times?
  • Catchphrase: Lampshaded; when Max first says it, Steel calls him on the ridiculous use of a catchphrase.
    Max: Uhm... Go Turbo?
    Steel: Go Turbo? Really?
    Max: I don't know, I thought it'd be cool. Like a, catchphrase or something? Like a, superhero? Ya know, up, up and away!
    Steel: Oy... let's try it again.
    Max: Go Turbo!
  • Book Ends: "Come Together" opens with an N-Tek ship picking up an Ultralink from space, and ends with Dredd's crony Naught picking him up from space.
  • Canon Foreigner: Played with. Some of the new characters — Steel, Naught, Sydney, Kirby and a few others — were expressly created for this continuity. But some of the others — Commander Ferrus, CYTRO, the Elementors, Toxzon and Makino — did exist in the old continuity, but were only added in after the fact in DTV movies and the like, almost none of which reached American shores, so in that case they are new additions.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • Neon green for N-Tek.
    • Electric blue for Max. Notice that when CYTRO passes a gun to Max, it changes from N-Tek green to blue.
    • Red and Black and Evil All Over for Dredd.
    • Winter's gear and suit are different shades of purple.
    • Black and white for Mortum and his gear.
  • Continuity Reboot: After the Maximum Morphos film, the show unexpectedly removed a few characters, such as Sydney, Kirby, Ven Ghan and others. N-Tek, which had a very important role in the show, is removed after the events of Team Turbo and its agents are never seen again. Additionally, the film Turbo-Charged also eliminates the "Max and Steel" dynamic, as Steel is not capable of linking with Max anymore due to his new green energy. Despite that, Steel confirmed that he was working on a way to bond with Max once again..
  • Cool Uncle: Uncle Forge.
  • Danger Room Cold Open: Used in "Cleaning House".
  • Deadpan Snarker: Steel.
  • Demonic Possession: Kirby in "Live By the Sword".
  • Disappeared Dad: Max's dad was killed in an accident with TURBO energy that also left Steel in a dormant state. Actually he's alive. The Turbo Star has transported him somewhere into outer space, right into Makino's hands. He gets freed by Max and Steel in the end.
  • Darker and Edgier: Starting the 2015 movie trilogy, the show got considerably darker. In 2016, a new character named Mortum was introduced, who dealt with death and was the first human to die on screen (prior to this film, only robots or non-human characters died) and was the first character to kill people on screen. In the following year, a team of assassins was introduced and one of them stated that he killed many persons and nobody ever managed to escape from him.
    • Turbo-Warriors invokes this. The film is much darker than the other films of the franchise and by the end of the film, Terrorax shows to Max how a world dominated by Nexus would be. In this vision, the world fell into chaos and anarchy and the dead bodies of Max's friends are seen and Terrorax appears maniacally laughing in front of his lord Nexus. The film also features a few Family Unfriendly Deaths. For instance, Night Howl is tossed in an energy field by La Fiera and is charred to death and Terrorax burns to ashes.
  • Electronic Eyes: Mr. Naught has these.
  • Elemental Powers: The Elementors cover the standard air, water, earth, and fire. For non-standard powers, there's the Recurring Character Toxzon whose power is over poisonous and toxic compounds, be they viruses or radioactive sludge or even crude oil. And in Season 2 we have Metal Elementor, as well as the Elite Mooks consisting of three ultralinks: one combined to crystals, one combined to a plant, and the last combined to a laser gun. Admittedly the last one might not be "elemental" in their powers, but the others are.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Kirby earns the name 'Itchy' when a toxic leak alert causes him to get psychosomatically antsy. It's really because he's about to turn zombie.
  • Emotional Powers: Played with. Even though his suit is tech, if Max's emotions get stronger, his TURBO energy responds in kind. His rage at discovering Dredd killed his father causes a surge of TURBO energy that completely recharges him from a previously depleted state.
  • Exact Words: The cursed sword in "Live By The Sword" is stronger than any weapon on Earth... but Steel isn't from Earth.
  • Faking the Dead: After the Turbo Star incident, Dread faked his own death and founded THI in hopes of finding a T.U.R.B.O. Energy source to keep him alive.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: Ever since the show aired on TV, there were parents complaining about the action scenes that were deemed too violent. There were also few episodes censored by CITV, mainly Team Turbo Fusion-Tek.
  • "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: In the episode "A Germ of an Idea" Max and Steel had to go inside Toxzon's body in order to heal his nervous system so that he can help them get rid of a computer virus.
  • Five-Episode Pilot: Though only three episodes, as is standard for more modern shows, it still fits the formula and can even combine into a mini-movie.
  • Foreshadowing: Such as:
    • In Earth Under Siege Part Two, Berto tells Max that there was an energy source that rivals his. The reason why is because Jim, Max's father who also generated T.U.R.B.O. Energy, was kept as a prisoner by Makino to power his gear..
    • In Full Metal Racket, Max's rockstar suit is pretty similar to Turbo Spike Mode, which he unlocked episodes later in Definetely Fear the Reaper.
    • In Team Turbo, Jim mentions that if the Connect-Tek fell on the wrong hands, it would have been a disaster to all of them. This is later proven true after Mortum mutates into a robot zombie and later on mutates the entire world into creatures like him.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The Applied Phlebotinum for this series is called Tachyon Unlimited Radiant Bio-Optimized energy, or TURBO for short.
  • G-Rated Drug: Dredd treats his turbo absorption like this; he even describes it as a rush.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: N-Tek and Max Steel's most prominent color scheme is white with green and blue accents respectively. On the contrary, all of THI equipment is black with red accents... even their robotic dogs!
  • Heroes "R" Us: N-Tek, of the heroic organization type.
  • I Am the Noun: With Extroyer.
    "I'm Vengeance, I'm Destruction, I'm ... EXTROYER!"
  • Heroic Build: Exaggerated. In the episode where Steel goes comic book crazy, he upgrades the suit giving him 20 abs.
  • Impairment Shot: When Max is knocked out, we tend to get the blink-blink eye-shaped shot as he comes back to consciousness.
  • Inevitable Mutual Betrayal: Dredd and Makkino form an alliance to defeat Max Steel and N-Tek but both have previously admitted to the other that they don't trust each other and both fully understand that the alliance lasts only as long as Max Steel and N-Tek does.
  • In Name Only: Most concepts and characters are too different to anything shown in the old show and films, with the possible exception of Forge Ferrus. However, character development has turned some (not all) characters more similar to their old versions.
  • Institutional Apparel: Toxzon gets incarcerated, and his pipes are filled with an inert goo so he just gets a color change, but Fishy can be seen wearing that little hat that normally goes with the black and white striped variant of this trope.
  • It's Quiet… Too Quiet: Steel says this in "Cleaning House". Immediately lampshaded by Max.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the classic film saga, the reboot comes as this - although this only applies for the first two seasons. While the show did have its dark moments, there is heavy emphasis on humor and the body horror of the villains are toned down considerably.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Max's Uncle Forge tries to get Max to keep the whole Steel and TURBO thing under wraps from his mom Molly. Doesn't stick at all. She finds out due to the natural events of episode 2.
    • Max gets this a lot with the aggravatingly secretive dealings of N-Tek
  • Longer-Than-Life Sentence: In "Supermania", Toxzon had 297 years, 8 months, 12 days and 42 minutes left on his sentence, and that's with good behavior. He quickly escapes though.
  • Love Interest: Sydney
  • Mama Bear: Molly. If you mess with her boy, she will, literally, drop a building on you.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Starting with Team Turbo, the show and toy line are in harmony, as the 2016 toys had the logos of the films in their package and a device named the Connect-Tek, which is named after the toy line with the same name, is integrated in the story.
  • Monster of the Week: Averted. While the series did have a lot of standalone episode, there was only about 5 different villains/villain-teams in total who seemed to take turns to harass Max.
  • Multiform Balance: The essence of Max Steel is that he's able to change between different "Turbo Modes". And emphasized constantly when he mode-shifts mid-fight and, in Season Two, mid-tactic.
  • Max also adds to the balance Stealth mode, Copy mode, Mimic Mode (which gives Steel parallel abilities as the mimicked mode), and the unique Spike mode for when direct combat begins to fail.
  • Myth Arc: Largely based on N-tek's secret mission, the Ultralinks and Turbo energy.
  • Mythology Gag: The series has various examples of this. For instance, a toy of the old Cytro was shown in the first episode.
    • Midway through the first season, Max gains an invisible stealth mode, much like his old counterpart.
    • in "Digital Meltdown", Max and Steel are seen using a video game console bearing a purple-colored version of the old series' N-Tek symbol (an oval with an abstract thumbs-up inside).
    • Starting with Team Turbo, the references to the old series became more prominent. A few examples are:
      • Mortum's fight against Jim on the Daedelus platform is a reference to the first episode of the original series, Strangers. Mortum is also based off on L'Étranger, a French mercenary who debuted in the aforementioned episode.
      • Turbo-Charged's beginning makes a clear reference to the Endangered Species movie. Terrorax, the main antagonist of the film, could be the rebooted version of Psycho, Max's arch nemesis in the old series.
      • Hero-Man, a fictional character which Steel was obsessed with, is a parody of the original Max Steel.
      • In Turbo-Charged, Steel indirectly references the classic Max Steel by saying "Green Max is strong, Green Max is fast, Green Max has good moves!"
    • Toxzon's human form looks vaguely like another Nerd Corps mad scientist, Doctor Frogg.
  • No One Could Survive That!: N-tek's reason for believing that Toxzon has been Killed Off for Real is that his body landed in the bottom of the ocean. They even say it word for word.
  • Oh, Crap!: 3 words Turbo Nuclear Missile.
  • Orcus on His Throne: Very much averted with Dredd. As soon as he has the means to fight, he engages the good guys personally. He does it again in "Secret Identity Crisis"; as soon as he's healed from his previous encounter with Max Steel, he gets directly involved.
    • This makes sense since when you consider his predicament; his need for ample TURBO energy pretty much requires he always remain proactive, and so he does.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Done with a toxic gas in the episode where Toxzon debuts. Played straight with Mortum's robot zombies in Team Turbo Fusion-Tek.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: The first half of Cleaning House is straight-up Survival Horror.
  • Outside-Context Problem: "Live By The Sword" centers around a cursed sword from ancient Japan whose original wielder possesses whoever holds this case, Kirby (Jason Naught was after the sword but the guy he hired to get it accidentally lost it). That said, Berto calls magic "Science we can't understand yet", and if the visuals seen during the explanation are any indication, the mystic who originally forged the sword had a magic staff with what looked suspiciously like an unactivated Ultralink topping it.
  • People Puppets: Steel seems to have control over Max's body, as shown when he was doing diagnostics on the suit. Going so far as to make Max smack himself in the face, do ridiculous acrobatics and fling around like a rag doll.
  • Pent-Up Power Peril: Since Max's body generates TURBO energy constantly, Steel has to be around to absorb it. If he doesn't, bad things happen.
  • Powered Armor: Steel can generate it for Max.
  • Power Incontinence: Max constantly creates and builds up TURBO energy inside his own body. If he doesn't get rid of it before he overloads, he will go ka-boom.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Dredd realizes that learning Max Steel's secret identity doesn't matter, what matters is his TURBO energy.
  • Pun-Based Title: Max Steel.
  • Retcon: In The Legend of Ja'em Mk'rah, the titular character is shown escaping from his planet with a Makino fighter, although this is later retconned in Dawn of Morphos where Ja'em states that he came to Earth with a Takonian ship.
  • Retired Badass: Molly McGrath.
  • Robot Buddy: Who else but Steel?
  • Shout-Out: The first episode alone is filled with these. When Max goes to his new school and first walks in the door he encounters a Gang of Bullies who trip him before making the age old pun "have a nice trip, see you next fall."
    After being tripped:
    Sidney: Nah, pretty much just him.
    Max: Don't tell me, school bully? What's his name, Moose, Biff, Flash?
    Sidney: Bartholomew, but they call him Butch.
    Max: And the stereotype lives.
    Kirby: Welcome to Copper Canyon High new guy! Wretched Hive of scum and villainy. I'm Kirby.
    • Really, the show's full of them. Max talks about Facehuggers and Steel spends one episode spouting off every superhero cliche and catchphrase.
    • Amidst the Western hero references we get an Anime one, as Max's "hero" helmet resembles Gatchaman.
    • Extroyer resembles Doomsday.
    • "Thanks I think" gives us the classic ET gag.
    • Max refers to the sort-of zombies as "walkers".
    • Cannon Mode is straight-up Cannonbolt.
    • At the end of "Come Together, Part 3" a reporter asks Max if he's "a strange visitor from another planet."
  • Signature Style: You can count off the Nerd Corps staples like Disappeared Dad, Non-Human Sidekick, not so Animesque this time...
  • Status Quo Is God: In one episode, Sydney finds out Max is the superhero and she helps in the battle against Elementor but at the end, an explosion made her forget those.
  • Storming the Castle: What N-Tek does to the THI building during the third episode.
  • The Symbiote: Max and Steel are an interesting example of mutualism, as Steel benefits from not shutting down permanently, and Max benefits from not exploding.
  • Super Team: Team Turbo, a group consisting of five superpowered individuals: Maxwell, Steel, La Fiera, Tempestra and C.Y.T.R.O..
  • This Is Unforgivable!: By the end of Turbo-Charged, Max says this to Terrorax, as he had converted his energy into a mass destruction weapon.
  • Talking Weapon: Steel, especially evident when Max uses him as a Battle Boomerang.
  • Techno Babble: Largely present throughout the entire show.
  • Technology Porn: the titular hero only scratches the surface with how much machinery is present in the show.
  • Teen Superspy
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: In "Maximum Morphos", Max has to team-up with his arch-enemies (Dredd, Extroyer, Toxzon and the Elementors) in order to stop Morphos from taking over the world.
  • Time Skip: Team Turbo and other films afterwards take place two years after the events of Maximum Morphos.
  • Toyless Toyline Character: Tempestra, the female member of Team Turbo, is the only member of the group who will probably never get an action figure.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action: Justified with Max Steel as they seem to generate an energy field of some sort to knock back enemies, preventing interruption. Subverted once when Extroyer in his spider form uses his web to snag Steel before he can latch on! Subverted again when Blast made a well-aimed shot at Steel in the middle of the transformation. Turns out the energy field isn't infallible.
  • Transformation Sequence: Pretty much anytime Max does his "Go Turbo!" catchphrase.
  • Trojan Prisoner: Wind Elementor attacks the N-Tek base, with the sole purpose of getting dragged into the same brig where the other Elementors are.
  • Unflinching Walk: Ferrus and the N-Tech guys as one of their own grenades go off.
  • Unplanned Crossdressing: When testing out camouflage mode for the first time, Steel 'accidentally' changes into Molly's business suit. Only lasted a couple of seconds, but dang. Couldn't wait half-way into the second episode.
  • Vampiric Draining: Miles Dredd, who has to feed on Max's TURBO energy to survive.
    • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The way Dredd gets rather close and chummy towards Max and his ecstasy while draining his TURBO energy... In fact Forge even likens it to a 'fix'.
    • Hell the way he looks before he recharges is similar to a junkie in withdrawal.
  • Villain Exclusivity Clause: Almost every recurring villain in the first two seasons is related to the Ultralinks somehow, with the notable exception of Toxzon. After that, more independent villains have begun to appear.
  • Villain Team-Up: Happens briefly in Better Off Dread with Dread, Extroyer and Toxzon finally uniting forces to take down Max Steel.
  • Wham Episode: Episodes like "Earth Under Siege Part Two", the Makino Strikes special, "Legend of Ja'em Mk'rah!" are just to name a few.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Done in Team Turbo Fusion-Tek, but with robot zombies.