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A mid-1990s cartoon based on the infamous Mutant League Football and Mutant League Hockey games by Electronic Arts depicting monsters playing pro sports.

An earthquake at a football stadium reveals a cache of illegally dumped toxic waste which mutates all the athletes and spectators into half-human abominations. Soon a pro sports league springs up around the mutants, and rather than make the big bucks, rookie athlete Bones Justice decides to play for his dad's team, the last-place Midway Monsters.

As there were video games based on two different sports but featuring a lot of the same characters, the show ran with it by having all the teams competing in multiple sports (but still mostly football), as well as events like monster truck races and wrestling matches. Also keeping in the spirit of the games, it was common for players to lose body parts in the course of play. To keep from killing off the entire cast within three episodes, a device called "the rejuvenator" was introduced that could heal practically any injury by bathing the injured mutants in certain chemical mixtures.

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Despite surprisingly graphic violence for being aimed at young viewers, Mutant League managed to last two seasons, the second longer than the first.


Tropes:

  • Aborted Arc: A few episodes of the second season mention a formula being developed to turn mutants back into humans. It never happens.
  • AI Is A Crap Shoot: One episode involves Zalgor creating an AI to help him get revenge. It gets too powerful for him to control and almost kills everyone in the stadium.
  • Affirmative Action Girl: The second season introduced us to Thrasher Malone, the show's first female mutant. Even moreso with the plot of her introduction episode being about the evils of sexism.
  • An Aesop: The general one for the show was "play fair and have integrity". A lot of second season episodes were built around one, like, don't be sexist, stay away from drugs, etc. There were also some that were unusually sophisticated for a cartoon meant for a younger audience (believe it or not), like know when it's time to stop doing something, your heroes aren't always who they appear to be, sometimes there's a situation with no ideal resolution, or the dangers of gambling or obsessive stalkers.
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  • Anguished Declaration of Love: A rather rare case for a Merchandise-Driven show of this nature. Sherry does this to Bones just as he’s about to go underground to find his father and Razor in Prigg’s slave mine.
  • Ascended Extra: Zalgor Prig was originally a minor villain in a one-shot Mutant League storyline from Sonic the Comic. He became the Big Bad when Mutant League got a TV adaptation.
  • Award Show: The second season ends on one, with the Hall of Pain awards, framed around clips from the season.
  • Betty and Veronica: Mild-mannered and sensitive Sherry Steele is the Betty, while the assertive and stubborn Thrasher Malone is the Veronica to Bones’ Archie. Bones chooses Sherry.
  • Bookends: The first episode opens on K.T. Slayer doing a commercial for Spikeys athletic shoes. The series finale goes out on the same one.
  • Broken Aesop: In one episode, evil mutants try to trick some adolescent fans into jumping into toxic waste to mutate themselves and be more like their idols in the League. The kids hesitate because "norms can't mutate". The very existence of the Mutant League is proof that isn't true. Everyone in it—from the players, refs, coaches, team owners, play-by-play guy and various mutants who had nothing to do with the League—were ordinary humans once upon a time. Trying to mutate yourself wouldn't be an easy or smart thing to do, sure. But obviously it can be done. Almost ends up being an example of Do Not Do This Cool Thing.
  • Catchphrase: Two, spoken by Bob Babble: "UN-BEE-LEEEV-able!" and "OOOOH! That's Gotta Hurt!"
  • Christmas Episode: Same thing as A Christmas Carol, but no ghosts.
  • Clip Show: Several of them. The second season ends on two in a row.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Commissioner Zalgor Prig constantly tries to kill Bones for not agreeing to play for his team, the Slaycity Slayers. Eventually we find out his regard for safety and lives was so low, he's actually directly responsible for the event that created all the mutants.
  • Disappeared Dad: Bones' father mysteriously disappeared, and a subplot that never really went anywhere was Bones' quest to find him. Until he actually does.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Zalgor's main thug is named Thug.
  • Expressive Hair: Thrasher Malone, being a mutant, has "hair" that's actually a fin that flares out when she's mad or trying to be intimidating.
  • Fantastic Racism: A Two-Part Episode is about a mutant-hating bigot being mutated, playing for the League for a while because his former friends have obviously turned on him, and seeing how mutants are still just people underneath.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: It is heavily hinted that the Monsters and the Slayors become this in the second to last episode, when they get stranded in a snowy mountain range.
  • Foreign Queasine: Mutants are shown having some interesting dietary preferences. Two restaurants that the players advertise are named Fly Taco and Beetle Burger, and commissioner Prig eats at least one live spider in almost every scene he appears in.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Although players' arms, legs and heads were frequently knocked off, they could usually come out good as new by bathing in a machine called the rejuvenator. As a couple episodes showed, though, there were things it couldn't fix.
  • History Repeats: The series begins with an earthquake at a football game that creates all the mutants. Later on another earthquake levels the stadium and eventually exposes Zalgor being responsible for the damage from the first quake.
  • Imagine the Audience Naked: How Razor Kid advises a new player to imagine the opposition to get over his fear of the spotlight: imagine them in just their underwear. It works so well the new player starts imagining the deformed mutants he's playing against wearing women's underwear...
  • Karma Houdini: Despite being called "evil personified" and the second season seeming as if it's building up to his deeds being exposed, Zalgor Prig never faces any consequences more serious than the humiliation of losing a one-on-one basketball game when he enters the stadium himself.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: The episode about Joe Magician retiring from playing. He can't face the thought of being a has-been, but he's getting too old to keep recovering from the constant gruesome injuries playing in the Mutant League involves (at least when the show remembers).
  • Literal Transformative Experience: A character who hates mutants is doused with toxic waste and mutates. He ends up playing on the hero's team for a time, and though the mutation is temporary, the former baddie grows to respect mutants and continues to do so even after he's back to normal.
  • Losing Your Head: Happens to the characters sometimes, but usually they can just jam it back on and keep going. A couple of especially notable examples are a retired player who has to keep his head screwed on or it'll fall off after all the times he got hurt in his glory days, and a rule in the Mutant League version of some sports that if a scoring shot decapitates the goalkeeper, it's worth another point.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Besides it being on a pair of video games, there was an almost-unknown line of action figures released based on the show.
  • Parody Commercial: With the main characters being pro athletes, it isn't surprising a few plot beats were about them shilling shoes, cars, drinks, fast food, and even perfume in a late-series one. Heck, literally the first thing the viewer sees after the intro in the first episode is one of these fake commercials.
  • Pokémon Speak: Moe and Spewter. Of course, they are so dumb that all Moe can say is "Eat dirt," and all Spewter can say is "Dead meat."
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The games involved a league with two conferences, of eight teams apiece. The show reduces this to just five teams to have a more reasonable cast size and allow for decent storylines around the sports.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Bones's eyes glow red right through his shades when he's about to lose his cool on some poor dumb bad guy.
  • Retcon: During the first season players would often be said to spending weeks in the rejuvenator recovering from their injuries. Seeming to realize a sports league couldn't operate with its players out for that long after every single game, by the second season this was changed so spending a day in the rejuvenator is considered a really long time.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: The championship game has Zalgor pulling dirty trick after dirty trick to ensure his team wins. When they fail and his team loses anyway, at the last minute he institutes a new rule that the last remaining player has to win a sudden death match with him to take home the trophy.
  • Series Continuity Error: Joe Magician is still seen playing sometimes in the second season, even after the episode all about how he has to retire because he's getting older and there's only so much punishment even a mutant can take.
  • Stage Mom: Male example with Madman, who pushes his son Madboy to earn a spot in the League being offered to a high school mutant. Despite Madboy not wanting to be a pro athlete.
  • Stalker with a Crush: An episode is about Thrasher being imprisoned by a deranged fan who thinks she'd be his perfect wife. Bones tricks him into the open by saying he and Thrasher are getting married, which makes the guy attack Bones to get him out of the way.
  • Story Arc: Both seasons have events from one episode lead into the next sometimes, but moreso in the second one, especially with how a lot of it builds up to the championship game.
  • Suddenly Always Knew That: Sure, playing in the Mutant League would involve a certain level of fighting skill. It's still kind of jarring when there's a mid-second season episode about a bunch of characters being invited to a martial arts tournament.
  • Tastes Like Chicken: One episode has some mutants stranded in a blizzard long enough for some of them to consider eating Razor to survive but Kang convinces them to settle for his tail. When this is referenced in a later episode, one of them says it tasted like chicken.
  • That's Gotta Hurt: Often shouted out by Bob Babble whenever a player gets injured.
  • Token Good Teammate: Liquid Laser. Two episodes show his team being offered a bribe, which he refuses, but the others immediately accept.
  • Toxic Waste Can Do Anything: The premise of the show is that an earthquake ruptures the turf of a sports stadium, venting toxic gases from long-buried industrial waste. The athletes get dosed with this gas, which mutates them into ugly but superhuman creatures that can suffer horrific damage without dying or being convalescent more than a few hours.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Zalgor's is live spiders. Razor Kid really seems to enjoy Mexican food.
  • True Companions: The Midway Monsters steadily come together as a team, mostly thanks to Bones' philosophical encouragement and the occasional Aesop. They're very quick to close ranks whenever any outside force, usually Zalgor, threatens their friends.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Bob Babble, the game commentator, who can describe the events of the games the teams play, all the time that his voice is always high-pitched and sounds like the vocal screams of game commentators when they cheer. Mostly the best part is that whenever one player gets injured in a gross way, Bob would often shout out his famous Catchphrase: "OOOOH! That's Gotta Hurt!"
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Unless in uniform, the players tended to walk around just wearing trunks.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: "Enter the Skeletoid" is a very thinly-veiled takeoff on Enter the Dragon.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Bones and Sherry show hints of this big time throughout both seasons. They do.
  • With My Hands Tied: Discussed and parodied in the Season 2 episode "Enter the Skeletoid", when Razor Kidd tells the strong badass, "I can beat you with one hand tied behind my back!" Of course, the strong guy rips off Razor's arm as a literal response, and the latter snaps back, "Hey! I said tied!" Razor even tries to kick the strong one, who quickly rips off his leg as well!
  • Wrestler of Beasts: While nearly everybody on this show might qualify depending on your definition, Zalgor's shown wrestling alligators to stay in shape in a couple episodes.
  • Your Head A-Splode: The unfortunate side effect of a machine in one episode that makes players super-strong. Not that it's worse than anything else that happens to the mutants, mind.

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