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Western Animation / Pac-Man

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In 1982, Hanna-Barbera acquired the rights to produce a cartoon based on the eponymous game in America, as part of a 90-minute omnibus with The Little Rascals and Richie Rich. The result was the first-ever licensed adaptation of a video game character.

The primary plot is about an evil wizard named Mezmaron who orders his Ghost Monsters (the four seen in the game, plus Sue from Ms. Pac-Man) to get him the Power Forest, the forest where power pellets are grown. He needs them to take over Pac-land, and maybe even more. It's Pac-Man's job to stop him.

For the characters in this series, see Pac-Land.

For the CGI adaptation, see Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures.

Tropes from the cartoon include:

  • Adaptational Badass: Clyde and Sue in most incarnations of Pac-Man are considered the least threatening ghosts, due to their AI pattern causing them to break off a chase whenever they get close to their target. Here, they're treated as the leader and second-in-command, respectively. This may have been inspired by the infamous "Clyde & Blinky error", where the two get their names (or AI patterns) swapped.
  • Adaptational Dye-Job: In Ms. Pac-Man, Sue is orange like Clyde, here she's lavender. Also, the ghosts are purple when vulnerable instead of dark blue like the games, possibly due to Sue's colour.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: Clyde and Blinky have their personalities switched in the cartoon from the games.
  • Adaptational Wimp: In the original game, Blinky is considered the hardest of the four ghosts, due to his AI pattern being the only one that focuses on simply beelining straight towards Pac-Man, and even growing faster as the game goes on. In the cartoon, he's the comedically incompetent coward, and panics if he so much as thinks someone has a Power Pellet. This may also have been caused by the "Clyde & Blinky error".
  • Affectionate Nickname: Ms. Pac-Man is called "Pepper" by her husband. (Most likely, this was added because the lack of a first name would have been awkward.) Pac-Man is called a variety of nicknames by other characters, like "Packy" and "Packster".
  • Ambiguously Human: Mezmaron looks somewhat human, but his species isn't refered to directly.
  • Babysitting Episode: In "Hocus-Pocus Pac-Man", Ms. Pac-Man asks her husband to watch Pac-Baby while she goes shopping. Pac-Man tries to amuse Pac-Baby with some magic tricks, but one of them goes wrong and Pac-Baby seemingly vanishes.
  • Bad Future: The episode "Pac Van Winkle" double-subverts this. The episode has Pac-Man drink a sleeping potion a witch gives him and end up waking 20 years in a future where Mezmaron succeeded in conquering Pac-Land without interference and the Pac-People have been forced to live underground. After the aged Pac-Man drinks a potion from the same witch to go back in time, Pac-Man wakes up and it appears the whole thing was All Just a Dream, but then the witch appears and laughs at Pac-Man dismissing the event as a dream.
  • Bag of Holding: Inky's pockets act like this, and he seems to have something in them for any occasion (along with a lot of worthless junk).
  • Bald of Evil: Mezmaron.
  • Baseball Episode: Two of 'em. (One involving football, however.)
  • Big Bad: Mezmaron is the only human(oid) in Pac-Man's world. He wants to take over the Power Forest, and the ghosts work for him. Pac-Man himself is the forest's Chief of Security, so he's the primary obstacle in Mezmaron's plan. It's never explained what he plans to do with all those power pellets. As the lone recurring human character, he's our lone reference point for scale. Several episodes have Mezmaron mention that by taking over the Power Forest, he'll control all the "pac-power" in Pac-Land, and thus easily conquer the populace.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • A couple of episodes involve a power saw made by "Pac and Decker".
    • In "The Great Power Pellet Robbery", Pac-Man drives an armored car provided by "Prinks Security".
  • Canon Foreigner: Mezmaron appears in the cartoon, but not in any of the games. Some have theorized that the Ghost Witch of Netor from Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures and Spunky from Pac-Mania were homages to Mezmaron. Pac-Man's boss Grump has also never reappeared, although the idea of other Pac-People besides the core yellow family did.
  • Canon Immigrant:
    • Chomp-Chomp, and to a lesser extent Sourpuss would appear in later games. Same with the recolored purple Sue to differentiate her from the orange Clyde, the concept of a Power Pellet-growing tree, and Pac-Land itself.
    • Officially, Pac-Baby is this, since Namco does not recognize or acknowledge the creation of the pinball / video game hybrid Baby Pac-Man, which was released the same year as the premiere of the show
  • Captain Obvious:
    • In "A Bad Case of the Chomps", Pac-Man shows Chomp-Chomp a wrench while dealing with a faulty bathroom sink, and says annoyed at him, "THIS IS A WRENCH."
    • In the second season premiere, "Here's Super-Pac", the Ghost Monsters come after Pac-Man with a tank armed with a "guk gun". Pinky tells Blinky to load it; when Blinky asks "With what?" Pinky replies, "With guk, what else?" while holding up a can of something labeled "Guk".
  • Catchphrase:
    • Pac-Man: "That's me." (Usually when someone said Pac-Man's name, even in the opening sequence.)
    • Ghost Monsters: "P-P-P-Pac-Power!" (After Pac-Man eats a Power Pellet.)
    • Clyde: "I'm the boss!" (Whenever one of the other ghosts would ask him to do anything.)
  • Cats Are Mean: The family cat, Sourpuss, would constantly try to play Garfield-esque pranks on the dog, Chomp-Chomp. Of course, the cat would always fall victim to his own schemes.
  • Christmas Special: Christmas Comes to Pac-Land, where Santa falls through the fabric of time and space into Pac-Land and introduces them to Christmas, which neither pac-people nor ghosts have never heard of before - despite several popular Christmas songs being known by the five ghosts under Mezmeron's claw.
  • Circus Episode: In "The Greatest Show in Pacland", Pac-Man and his wife take Pac-Baby to the circus for his second birthday. At the same time, the Ghost Monsters take little Dinky to the same circus.
  • Clothing Damage: Mezmaron wasn't harmed by Pac-Man's chomping, but his clothes sure could be. Pretty much every plot that involved a face-to-face confrontation with Pac-Man ended with them ruined.
  • Conspicuous Gloves: Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Pac-Baby and Mezmaron all routinely wear gloves for no discernible reason. In "Backpackin' Packy", Pac-Man's gloves fail to protect him from a poisonous plant.
  • Criminal Doppelgänger: Pac-Man was once mistaken for a bank robber who escaped from prison. The fugitive managed to fool Ms. Pac-Man… until she read the newspaper a day late, and mistook her husband for the crook.
  • Deus ex Machina: The power pellets. On some occasions, their presence is established, such as being stolen by the ghosts and later stolen back by the protagonists. On other occasions, though, the protagonists just happen to luck into stumbling upon a fresh supply when needed most.
  • Decomposite Character: Super-Pac is obviously a reference to Super Pac-Man; however, Super Pac-Man in his origin game was just an alternate form of Pac-Man, whereas Super-Pac is his own character with his own set of terrifying flaws.
  • Did Not Do the Bloody Research: Ms. Pac-Man's affectionate nickname for Pac-Man, "Packy", is very unfortunately and hilariously pronounced the same way as a racist slur against people from Pakistan in the United Kingdom.
  • Dirty Coward: Blinky most of the time and Inky occasionally. The other Ghost Monsters are somewhat braver, so long as Pac-Man can't get to the power pellets.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Sue and Ms. Pac-Man.
  • The Ditz: Inky is the dumbest of the Ghost Monsters.
  • Escaped Animal Rampage: In "Goo-Goo at the Zoo", Pac-Baby takes the zookeeper's keys and unlocks all of the cages. The newly liberated animals wreak havoc throughout Pac-Land and end up at Pac-Man's home.
  • Expy: In the second season, Super-Pac is obviously a reference to Super Pac-Man, the Pac-Family's cousin P.J. is a reference to Jr. Pac-Man (Pac-Man even calls him "Pac-Jr." at one point), and, although technically introduced in an earlier episode, Dinky's reluctant friendship with Pac-Baby may be an allusion to Jr. Pac-Man and Yum-Yum's burgeoning romance.
  • Eye Beams: One time Super-Pac fries Pinky off the bat with them: "Now you'll see why the girls in the galaxy say I have the hottest eyes in town!"
  • Face Palm: Mezmaron does this at the end of the season two opening.
  • Flintstone Theming: Most of the landmarks, characters, etc. in the show had the word "Pac" or "chomp" in their namesnote ; for example, Pac-Land's movie capital was "Pac-Hollywood", and Pac-Man's dog was named "Chomp-Chomp".
  • For the Evulz: The Pac-Witch who sends Pac-Man into a Bad Future does it because he was the first one to come along.
  • Gender Flip: Pinky is female in the franchise, but whoever was in charge of the cartoon series must've confused Pinky’s gender, since all the ghosts in the original game looked the same save for color, and made Pinky a male here.
  • Gladiator Games: "The Old Pac-Man and the Sea" has Pac-Man face off against the Ghost Monsters by order of the Pac-Queen.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: The Ghost Monsters tend to act like this a lot, despite being the most visible antagonists.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: After Mezamaron gets chomped in "Journey to the Center of Pac-Land" he's seen walking home with polka-dot boxers.
  • Halloween Episode: Oddly enough, the residents of Pac-Land knew about Halloween, but not Christmas, at least until Santa showed up.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Again, happened to the villains more often than not. The most overt example was when they tried to use a nightmare-inducing weapon on Pac-Man and ended up zapping themselves; the nightmares they experienced took up most of the episode. Also tended to happen to Sourpuss any time he tries to play jokes on Chomp-Chomp.
  • Idiot Ball: Inky grabs this multiple times. For instance, in "Pac-Baby Panic", Pac-Baby — who has been taken hostage by Mezmaron (only to wreak havoc at the Lava Lair) — complains he's hungry, prompting "Uncle Inky" to sit him next to the sack of Super Power Pellets; Pac-Baby immediately eats his snack and it's not long before the ghosts and Mezmaron are running in terror.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: The Ghost Monsters often do parody versions when they're chasing Pac-Man. The Christmas special even had them do a parody of a Christmas song.
  • Karma Houdini: The Pac-Witch from "Pac Van Winkle" gets no comeuppance for sending Pac-Man into a bad future ruled by ghosts, and her future self isn't bothered by the ghosts at all.
  • Limited Wardrobe:
    • The ghost monsters are shown with a whole closet full of identical ghost suits to change into, after being chomped into floating eyes.
    • Dinky, the ghosts' bratty young nephew, needed Sue to help him get his spare suit when Pac-Baby chomped him.
    • In "Journey to the Center of Pacland", Mezmaron has to change outfits after Pac-Man's allies ruin his robes (see Clothing Damage above), revealing that he has an entire wardrobe full of identical ones.
      Inky: [after the ghosts come out of the wrong closet, wearing Mezmaron's spare costumes] I think we've been hanging around Mezmaron too much. We're starting to look like him!
  • Living Polyhedron: All the residents of Pac-Land other than Mezmaron and the Ghost Monsters are living spheres with arms, legs, and faces.
  • Logical Weakness:
    • Once a Power Pellet wears off, Pac-Man could be vulnerable to ghost monsters again. He needs a new one to regain ghost-chomping power.
    • Once the threat that caused Super Pac-Man to use a super power pellet was dealt with by Super-Pac, Super-Pac can't STOP chomping through anything. Pac-Man must then use Super-Pac's "time-warp space hole" to neutralize the effects.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!":
    • The ghost monsters when Pac-Man eats a power pellet. "P-p-p-p-p-Pac Power!"
    • Later, when Super-Pac eats a super power pellet, Pac-Man realizes that as Super-Pac is a Nigh-Invulnerable Eating Machine who can't control his Super-Chomping, the only way to negate that and give Super-Pac some control again is to get him into his time-warp space hole. Fortunately, Pac-Man can grab it and use the hole to do just that.
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: When Pac-Man has to drive an armored truck, Mezmaron believes it contains power pellets and orders the ghost monsters to steal it. They do steal it but, instead of power pellets, it has fireworks.
  • Motor Mouth: Not in the H-B series, but in the Pac-Man record albums by Kid Stuff Records, Speedy (AKA: Pinky) talks this way.
  • My Favorite Shirt: Super-Pac really gets angry at the Ghost Monsters after their goo gun gets goo all over his superhero costume.
  • Mythology Gag: When looking in several of the episodes, there were many gags where the camera pulls out and showcases what looks to be reminiscent of the original game's map.
    • "Neander-Pac-Man" had Pac-Man be chased by the ghost-monsters through a maze that was identical to the one in the original arcade game.
    • The episode "The Bionic Pac-Woman" began with Pac-Man and Pepper at an outdoor hamburger stand, ordering two Wakka-Wakka Burgers, referencing the sound made when Pac-Man ate dots in the original game.note 
  • Named by the Adaptation: According to this cartoon, Clyde's full name is "Clyde Q. Ghost-Monster".
  • Near-Villain Victory: The episode "The Day the Forest Disappeared" had Mezmaron finally uproot the Power Forest, but Pac-Man defeated him at the last minute because the trees turned out to be "obedient" and Pac-Man told them to follow him to a new location where Mezmaron would never find them.
  • Never Say "Die": Chomping isn't eating. Chomping the ghosts turns them into floating eyes, just as in the game. Chomping Pac-Man or any other Pac-person (at least in earlier episodes) turns them into something resembling a sad bean bag chair, though they get better when fed power pellets.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Mezmaron's attempt to steal Paclantis' Power Pellets winds up giving the queen, Pac-Man, and the captain the energy they need to face the Ghost Monsters.
  • Nightmare Fuel: In-universe and literally, in "Nighty-Nightmare." The ghosts steal Mezmaron's "nightmare machine" and hope to use it on Pac-Man, but just as they are aiming the laser ray into his bedroom window, Pac-Man (oblivious?) shuts the window and the ray ricochets onto the ghosts. Each of them have surreal nightmares, including Clyde begging (but getting no) mercy from the court, Blinky losing a boxing match, Pinky getting lost in a house of mirrors, Sue wandering into Alice's wonderland (and being eaten by Pepper) and Inky getting checkmated in a game of chess.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Mezmaron seems incapable of actually fighting (and has lost quite a few of his dark, scary robes after confronting Pac Man), although he has led a few schemes personally. The show's flow seems to imply the worst thing that can happen to pac-people is to be chomped which deflates them but they can recover. Exactly what Mezmaron could even do to them, is one the series never really explores.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: On rare occasions the Ghost Monsters will be surprisingly competent, such as when they defeat Pac-Man in gladiator games and then start chomping the citizens of Paclantis. In a case of cosmic irony, it was Mezmaron that spoiled their victory.
  • Obligatory Joke: Super-Pac tended to get his chomper stuck a lot, requiring one of the other good guys to find a way to send him back home before he ate the whole city.
  • Obviously Evil: Mezmaron, a tall, bald guy with a scary voice, long dark robes and a cape. Yeah, he's pretty evil.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Pinky often tries to change his shape in order to avoid being chomped. It never works.
  • Pity the Kidnapper: In "Pac-Baby Panic", when Mezmaron kidnaps Pac-Baby and tries to ransom him, this scenario happens quickly. When Pac-Man shows up to agree to Mezmaron's demands, the villain begs him to take his kid back.
  • Polka-Dot Paint: In "Invasion of the Pac-Pups", Pac-Man and his neighbor Morris are painting a garage:
    Pac-Man: What color is this, anyway?
    Morris: Pink polka-dot.
  • Power-Up Food: The power pellets, of course. The second season added the "Super" power pellets for Super-Pac.
  • Premiseville: The series is set in "Pac-Land".note 
  • Punny Name: The Pac-Family's cat was named Sour Puss.
  • Sarcastic Devotee: The Ghost Monsters are loyal to Mezmaron, but they're not above mocking him and his plans even when he can hear them.
  • Sigil Spam: Expect the iconic "missing pizza slice" pac-shape to work its way into the design of the world. The sun, for example.
  • Single Phlebotinum Limit: Almost everything runs on power pellets in Pac-Land, from electricity to cars to planes.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Mezmaron has a device that lets him view any part of Pac Land and keep tabs on his five minions, much to his utter chagrin.
  • Slice of Life: A couple episodes have Pac-Man and his family on vacation, fishing, or picnicking, with the Ghost Monsters also relaxing.
  • The Smurfette Principle: As Pinky was made male here, Sue is the only female ghost.
  • Stupid Evil: A lot of the villains' plans fall under this. For example, in the pilot, Pinky lifts the whole Yellow House (Pac-Land's version of the White House) by turning into a hot-air balloon while Pac Man, the President, and the other Ghost Monsters are inside, while Clyde threatens to tell Pinky to let go of it unless Pac-Man tells them where the Forest is. That's when Blinky realizes something... What would happen to them if Pinky did that? (Fortunately, Pac-Man is able to bluff them by leading them to a fake Power Forest.)
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Mezmaron is capable of inventing such things as a Time Machine, a rocket ship, and a machine that could turn a vampire bat into an actual vampire, but it's almost a certainty that his five minions would mess the plan up somehow. He bemoans this frequently.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Ms. Pac-Man. One episode, "The Bionic Pac-Woman", even features Pac-Man disguising himself as Ms. Pac-Man to fool Mezmaron. Sue might fit this as well, being depicted with earrings and eyelashes, unlike the male ghost monsters (who wear hats).
  • This Means War!: When Super-Pac came in on the second season, the ghosts would do something that would anger him (though not enough to make him pull out a super power pellet yet). They would soon find out why they should Beware the Super-Pac.
  • Three Shorts: Barring the Christmas Special, every episode has two shorts and a quickie gag segment in-between.
  • Tickle Torture: In "The Day the Forest Disappeared" Mezmaron uses a Laugh Laser to incapacitate Pac-Man and the Pac-Marines through laughter.
  • Trouser Space: Inky and Dinky (the ghosts' cousin) had this trait.
  • Unknown Rival: "Picnic in Pacland" has the Pac family and ghosts on a picnic. The ghosts try time after time to chomp Pac-Man but are constantly foiled to the point where Pac-Man doesn't even know they were after him.
  • Villain World: "Pac Van Winkle" has Pac-Man sleep for 20 years and awaken in a world run by Mezmaron's ghosts, where even the Power pellets are useless and the Pac-People are forced underground.
  • Voluntary Shape Shifting: Pinky all the time, but in "Picnic in Pac-Land", he could merge with Clyde, Blinky, and Inky to form items at times (once to a frisbee, then to a kite). Neither worked. The frisbee got buried by Chomp-Chomp and they had to exhume themselves, spitting out dirt. The kite got hit by lightning. In other episodes, the ghosts assumed such forms as traffic lights and hubcaps.
  • Walk Through the Camera: "Presidential Pac-Nappers" has it near the beginning, as Pac-Man runs from the ghosts.
  • Would Hurt a Child and Would Hit a Girl: Mezmaron and the ghosts showed no qualms about putting Pepper and Pac-Baby into harm's way multiple times. Also, Pac-Man has chomped Sue in virtually every episode (although just as often, Pepper got the honors).
  • Your Costume Needs Work: In "The Greatest Show in Pacland", Pac-Man sees the ghost monsters disguised as clowns and assumes them to be clowns dressed as the ghost monsters. He proceeds to laugh and say that they look even dumber than the real ghost monsters.