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Western Animation / My Dad the Rock Star

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Just an ordinary kid and his not-so-ordinary dad.

"It's so hard just to feel normal
When everyone is completely paranormal
And everything is totally deranged
And you're the only one who's sane!
Sometimes it gets so unbearable
Mostly I feel unbelievable
I'm a freak 'cause my dad is a rock star, yeah!"
The first lines of the show's opening theme tune

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be the kid of a world-famous rock musician?

Well, 14-year-old Willy Zilla probably knows that better than anyone else in the world, for this mild-mannered boy is the son of Hot-Blooded rock 'n roll legend, Rock Zilla. Alongside his Granola Girl mother Crystal (Rock's wife), older sister Serenity (Rock's Bratty Teenage Daughter), the family's former tour bus driver Skunk, and their pet Komodo dragon Mosh, Willy has just moved into the town of Silent Springs, where his dad has decided to settle down in a big fancy mansion after many years of touring the world. Willy is ecstatic for the opportunity to finally live like how other kids do for the first time since he was born, attending school with his friends Alyssa and Quincy (nicknamed "Q") and trying to blend in with the crowd while avoiding everyday kid problems like his school bully "Buzz" Sawchuck. But as Willy knows all too well, when you're the son of The Rock Star, it's actually pretty hard to have a normal life, and sooner or later, being the kid of a celebrity is bound to get you noticed by others whether you want it or not.

My Dad the Rock Star was the brainchild of none other than KISS' very own Gene Simmons. He originally produced it in the form of a kid's book called My Dad the Rockstar: Rebel without a Nose Ring, which was published in 2001 (and later adapted into an episode of the first season). However, Gene Simmons later decided to pitch his idea as an animated series to the world-famous Canadian animation studio Nelvana.

The results debuted on September 1, 2003 on the Canadian animation network Teletoon, with Gene Simmons serving as executive producer for the series. Despite having excellent ratings on its origin channel, the show lasted for only 26 episodes over 2 seasons, as Gene Simmons wanted to focus more on different projects. It also aired in the United States on Nickelodeon.

Nelvana has every episode on their "Keep It Weird" channel on Youtube. You can check them out here.

Contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Buzz Sawchuck has a crush on Alyssa, who is repulsed by his advances.
  • Accidental Public Confession: In "Angela D'Angelo", Willy lies about his parentage when visiting his new girlfriend's ultra-conservative, rockstar-hating parents. When Rock Zilla is brought up in a conversation, they go on a long, insulting tirade about him until Willy can't take it anymore and shouts "Hey, don't talk that way about my parents!".
  • All Animals Are Dogs: Mosh, the family's Komodo Dragon, acts like and is treated like a dog.
  • Alpha Bitch: Sally Raptor. A borderline lovable case, as she usually doesn't cause any trouble and is frequently in the crowd supporting Willy or Rock on certain matters.
  • Ambiguously Brown: It's never mentioned what ethnicity Alyssa falls under. "Home for the Holly Daze" shows her parents; while her mother has a similar shade of skin as she does, her father is white, suggesting Alyssa is of mixed ancestry.
  • An Aesop: Willy's family may have their quirks and their problems, but at least they're fundamentally decent people who try their best and aren't in denial about who they are or what they're about.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care: Mosh is walked on a leash, which is fine but the leash is attatched to his collar. It's highly recommended to use a harness to walk any non-dog type of pet, since their necks are not the same as dogs' and they can slip out of a collar.
    • In "The Sound Of Zilla" Mosh is seen eating bratwurst and sausages, both of which are extremely bad for reptiles.
  • Artistic License – Biology: At one point, Crystal whips up and eats a daffodil smoothie. Daffodils are so toxic, there's not a creature on Earth that is able to eat them.
  • Artistic License – Physics: In "Big Willy On Campus", Rock screams into a microphone and the sound is shown to travel through the cord in a bulging bubble, like water through a hose. Sound isn't "stored" in air, and would move through the microphone cord as a series of electrical impulses rather than anything physical.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Willy will readily admit that his parents drive him batty and being Mistaken for Subculture is one of the biggest annoyances of his life. However, it's clear that he does care a lot about his parents and never takes any badmouthing of them lying down.
  • Berserk Button: Willy can usually take comments about his family in stride, as he knows they're pretty weird. But he flipped on the D'Angelos for insinuating that his parents must be horrible parents (especially for essentially calling his mother a gold digging tramp).
    • And then there was the time Rock came out with his new single, "Rulebreaker". The Moral Guardians flip out and vilify Rock in the media, thinking that he's encouraging rampant chaos and destruction. Willy gets a lot of grief about it at school, until he finally explodes and sets the record straight on what Rock was really trying to criticize, namely stifling, oppressive rules that don't make any sense.
  • Black Bead Eyes: Depending on the Artist, sometimes Willy has these when he's not wearing glasses.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Serenity Zilla shares her father's materialistic traits.
  • The Bully: Buzz Sawchuck serves as a fairly thuggish one, with Willy as his primary target.
  • Bumbling Dad: Well, Rock tries. Doesn't always succeed but man does he try.
  • Celebrity Toons: While Gene Simmons doesn't voice his Author Avatar Rock Zilla, he does serve as executive producer and personally chose Lawrence Bayne as the voice of Rock.
  • Christmas Episode: "Home For The Holly Daze"
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Crystal Zilla, Rock also has his moments.
  • Cool Old Guy: Skunk. A fountain of wise advice and guidance for Willy, all with a laid-back attitude.
  • Cool Old Lady: Grandmother Zilla, who Rock gets his wildness from.
  • Cranky Neighbor: The Zillas' neighbour, Mr. Kant.
  • Dean Bitterman: Principal Malfactor, who despises Willy and his family, seeing them as bad influences on the other students at his school.
  • Elvis Impersonator: One shows up at the Zillas' yard sale in "Kant Buy Me Love".
    • In "King Of The Desert" Rock hallucinates an armadillo dressed as one.
  • Expy: Rock Zilla is, of course, an expy of series creator Gene Simmons.
  • Fiery Redhead: Subverted, as Willy is about as mild-mannered as they get most of the time. That said, if you do push the right buttons, he will lose his temper and quite spectacularly at that.
  • First Girl Wins: While Alyssa was the second girl Willy fell for, she was the first girl he met and befriended when his family moved into town.
  • First Kiss: Willy gets his with Angela D'angelo. Thanks to her parents, though, it never really went anywhere.
  • Fish out of Water: The Zillas really have no idea how to operate in normal lives. Willy and Serenity acclimate eventually; Rock and Crystal not so much.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: In "Chip Off The Old Rock," Rock's father calls him "Rockford Amadeus Zilla."
  • Granola Girl: Crystal, though she's slightly older than a "girl." More a Granola Woman.
  • Good Parents: For being an aging, way out-there rocker and a New-Age Retro Hippie, Rock and Crystal do their best to always be there for their kids and support them. Even if Rock does bungle it up from time to time.
  • Happily Married: Rock and Crystal are clearly still crazy about each other.
  • Homeschooled Kids: Willy and Serenity before their parents moved into Silent Springs.
  • Horrible Camping Trip: "Call Of The Wild" revolves around one. Although to be fair, Serenity's experience back at home is no better.
  • I Am Not My Father: Willy spends a lot of his time, especially in earlier episodes, trying to convince people that he's "just Willy" and not that much like his parents' weirder qualities. On the other hand, he knows that his parents are Good Parents and genuinely good people and will angrily point this out to people who just assume they're horrid. Rock actually understands and sympathizes with Willy over this, revealing that he's the same way towards his father whose career as a cello player couldn't be further from Rock's wild lifestyle if it tried.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Willy is thoroughly excited to be living a normal life and is so worried that his dad will ruin that chance for him that he pretty much tries to pretend they aren't related. He eventually grows past this but never stops wanting to do things that normal kids do instead of using his family's wealth.
  • Informed Species: Mosh resembles a Iguana than a Komodo Dragon considering that he's got green skin and spikes on the back of his head and body and a dewlap whereas Komodo Dragons have grey skin and no spikes or dewlap.
    • It should be noted that Teletoon's old page for the show (accessible through the Internet Archive) does refer to him as an iguana.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Serenity. She never misses a chance to mess with her brother but we do get to see that she does love him and the rest of her family.
  • Jive Turkey: Subverted with Quincy, who tries to be hip hop but comes across as even geekier than Willy. Further subverted in that he comes from a straight-laced, white collar family.
  • Kick the Dog: The D'angelos come off as uptight and pompous, but they really lose whatever likability they may have had once you hear the things they have to say about Willy's family. (Who they've never even met!) It's impossible to blame Willy for flipping his lid like he does.
  • Large Ham: Rock Zilla. Of course, in his line of business, that's pretty much a job requirement!
  • Last-Minute Hookup: Willy and Alyssa become an official couple at the end of the series.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The reality TV show crew in "Meet the Zilla's" feel that Willy is the true star and put the focus on him, much to the disbelief of the rest of the family (particularly Rock).
  • Lethal Chef: Serenity. Her attempt at making soup is putting the entire can in the microwave causing it to explode.
    • Rock as well when he's left in charge of the house. His attempt at making Willy's school lunch explodes everywhere.
  • Like Parent, Like Child: Willy is a good musician, he just prefers a simple trumpet and more classic songs. Likewise, Serenity got her dad's materialism, though she's more bratty with it, and Willy seems to get his sense of understanding from his mother.
    • Rock's own father is revealed to be a prominent classical musician, meaning musical talent really does run in the Zilla bloodline.
    • Rock's mother is a closet biker, explaining where he got his wild side from.
  • Meaningful Name: Principal Malfactor.
  • Men Can't Keep House: Rock in "Metamorphic Rock" when Crystal goes away for a few days. His attempt at washing clothes is putting them in the dishwasher.
  • Mistaken for Subculture: A lot of Willy's problems come from people assuming that A) He's like his parents and B) that his parents fit every bad trope about Rock Culture.
    • Angela D'Angelo's parents assume Willy's mother is some tramp and Gold Digger despite just seeing her from a distance once, and Willy's only hope of dating their daughter was to pretend he had different parents (which was blown out of the water once they started making comments about how awful the Zillas were).
  • Mooning: In "King Of The Desert" Rock is about to do this while chaperoning a school trip, but one of Willy's classmates says he's not allowed to do any strenuous activity or mooning so he doesn't.
  • Moral Guardians: Willy's had to deal with grief from these people whenever they take offense to Rock's music.
  • Mum Looks Like a Sister: Crystal Zilla, who looks barely older than her teenager daughter Serenity.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Crystal, who combines this with a bit of Granola Girl.
  • New Sound Album: One episode focuses on Rock trying to write one in order to change his image a little. He tries lots of styles before eventually settling on a sappy love ballad for his wife. Nobody's really happy with it... Except Crystal and Rock, of course.
    • Also, inspired by Willy's simple trumpet piece at a talent show, he opened one album with a short, classical moment on the piano before breaking into the usual explosions and crazy. Willy loved it.
    • Crystal also got the idea to publish her own line of New Age therapy exercises, and she asked Rock to come up with background music for them. Rock does his best, but he admits to Willy that without drums it all seems so horribly pointless.
  • No Dress Code: Willy's high school seems to follow this rule, with plenty of the female students wearing belly revealing outfits.
  • Not So Above It All: Rock's father is far more refined and interested in classier activities, but he's only too happy to boast that he's the more famous musician in the family and get into a shouting match with his son about it (in front of a large audience, no less). After the two mend fences, the old man partakes in Rock's tradition of Rockers Smash Guitars and takes the family to a monster truck show.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: When Rock Zilla's alma mater granted him a honorary doctorate, he thought he'd be that kind of doctor and started practicing the shout of "Calling Doctor Zilla". When he was told it wasn't that kind of doctorate and he'd instead be a sort of professor, he shouted "Calling Professor Zilla".
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: In "Metamorphic Rock" everyone is shocked when Rock shuts down the party Serenity is throwing instead of joining in.
  • Odd Friendship: Mosh is friends with Helga and Henderson, Mr. Kant's cat and dog.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: More often than not, Quincy's friends call him "Q."
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Compared to his dad, mom and sister, Willy is the only "normal" member of the Zilla family.
    • Angela D'Angelo. She’s a genuinely kind girl, even though her parents are controlling neat freaks (to the point that even their dog is plastic-wrapped) and her older brother Damien is a Goth who inexplicably spends his time counting every single blade of grass in their yard.
  • Paparazzi: Scoop is one who constantly hangs about the Zilla household trying to get embarrassing photos of Rock to ruin his life. This is because of an incident he had with the star years ago that resulted in Scoop being unable to get work for any real paper and being forced to work for the tabloids.
    • Rock, even though he chases him, likes having Scoop about since it means he's still famous enough to warrant Paparazzi.
  • Perverted Drooling: Willy invokes this upon seeing Angela D'Angelo for the first time (even getting in some dog-like panting when she isn't looking), while Q drools over his crush in "Willy Unplugged."
  • Pull the Plug on the Title: The sign with the work's name is styled after multi-bulbed, rockstar lights. It fails to work, and Willie has to plug it in.
  • Punny Name Buzz Sawchuck.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: In "Rebel without a Nose Ring", Willy is repeatedly framed by Buzz for pranks that he pulled, making Principal Malfactor assume that Willy is a delinquent. And when Rock goes to the school to try to smooth things over, he only winds up making it worse, to the point that Willy has to get reviewed by the school board on whether or not he should be expelled. When Rock comes to the meeting in a suit and tie as a means to back Willy up, he winds up belching fire because the tie was practically choking him. Willy pretty much assumes the worst at this point. Thankfully, the president of the school board is not only reasonable, but also a big Rock Zilla fan, so things work out in the end. And the cherry on top? Buzz gets a month's detention for everything he pulled, as it turns out said president is his dad.
  • Rockers Smash Guitars: In one episode, the Zillas visit the college Rock attended. There, he smashed a guitar he left behind back when he was a student.
  • Rushmore Refacement: In a flashback, we learn that Rock once had his and Crystal's faces carved into Mount Rushmore for their anniversary.
  • Secret Identity: For the first few episodes, Willy used the assumed surname "Zillowski," so no-one would know he was related to Rock.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Willy and Rock are a father-and-son example.
  • Shout-Out: Rock's Mom has a wild side but calms down at midnight. Crystal refers to it as her turning back into a pumpkin.
  • Signature Instrument: Rock Zilla is often accompanied with a guitar, while his son Willy plays the trumpet as he's more interested in jazz. Interestingly Rock's father is a world famous cellist and keeps one by his side for impromptu performances, so it runs in the family.
  • Spell My Name with an S: There is a dissonance between fans of the series who remember the short-lived official website that spelled the name of Willy's female friend as Alissa and fans that spelled it Alyssa. The latter stuck given that the original site is no longer around and had low traffic when it was and Alyssa is the more common spelling used in the majority of what fan works could be found of the series.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Alyssa is interested in environmentalism and sometimes engages in protests.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Because Serenity has been so pampered all her life by her family, when she stays home from the family's camping trip in "Call Of The Wild" she has no idea how to run the house all by herself and at the end a bunch of animals make their way into the house (including a skunk that sprays her)
    • In "Metamorphic Rock" Rock shuts down the party Serenity is throwing instead of joining in. Rock star or not, he's still her father and an authority figure who has to enforce rules.
  • Team Pet: Mosh, the Zilla family's komodo dragon.
  • The Prima Donna: Rock at times. He once refused to do a show that was just about to start because a Paparazzi he was talking to ate one of his candies, breaking his 'ritual'.
  • Trash of the Titans: In "Kant Buy Me Love" Rock becomes obsessed with buying things from yard sales and ends up with a huge pile of junk on his lawn.
  • Tropey, Come Home: In "Psychic Convention" Mosh runs away (he was trying to protect the neighbor's cat and dog from a pack of raccoons)
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Q initially tries to break Willy and Alyssa up obsnot because he is interested in Alyssa, but because he doesn't want to become a third wheel.
  • Unusual Pets for Unusual People: The Zillas have one in the form of Mosh, a komodo dragon.
  • Wacky Parent, Serious Child: Rock Zilla the flamboyant rock star and his son Willy, a calm-natured kid who, while musically inclined, is more likely to find a quiet place to read than party hard.
  • Welcome Episode: Sure, the whole family obviously suffered this but, since Willy is the main character, the effects on him are what we see the most.
  • Wicked Cultured: Buzz is a pretty rotten person, but he talks like a Shakespeare character, making long, grandiose speeches to those around him. He's also known for calling Willy "William".
  • Wild Teen Party: Serenity attempts to throw one in "Metamorphic Rock" but Rock shuts it down, much to the surprise of everyone. This is an extremely rare example of this trope where said party is shut down by an authority figure.
  • Your Costume Needs Work: When Rock returned to his old school to get an honorary doctorate, he ended up wandering into a fan club and being mistaken for a new member going through initiation. Thinking this was how to get the doctorate, Rock took part in the challenges and had a blast. It's not until after the final round that they realize he's the real deal, and the club's leader is mortified that he failed to recognize his idol.