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Western Animation / Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero

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Zap In. Save the World. Repeat.

"Wherever good is threatened, heroes rise to the challenge and always save the day!
...Except when they don't. And that's when I go to work."

Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero is an animated series on Disney XD created by Sam Levine (Tarzan, Bolt) and Jared Bush (Zootopia, Moana).

When his parents get stuck in an alternate dimension called The Most Dangerous World Imaginable, suburban teenager Penn Zero learns a few things. First, that his parents don't sell life insurance, but are actually "part-time heroes" who travel to other worlds to save the day when that world's heroes aren't able to accomplish the task, thus keeping the multiverse in balance. Second, he has inherited their job while they're gone and will now be going on missions with his friends Sashi Kobayashi and Boone Wiseman. And third, he'll be facing off against "part-time villain" Rippen and his minion Larry every step of the way, who just so happen to be his art teacher and school principal, respectively.

The inspiration for the show is a combination of the two creators' childhoods. Levine's father worked in a New York City movie theater, while Bush thought his father was a generic government worker, only to be told one day in his teens that he was actually a field agent for the CIA, as was his grandfather. The concept was developed during a lunch break and later pitched to Disney Television Animation.

The series premiered with a Christmas episode on December 5, 2014, with the show beginning its regular run on February 13, 2015. On July 16th, 2016, it was announced that the second season will also be the last, with said season premiering on July 10th, 2017 and concluding two weeks later with the one-hour Grand Finale "At the End of the Worlds".

Most of the show's staff went on to Tangled: The Series and Big Hero 6: The Series.

This series features examples of:

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  • Actor Allusion:
    • Rippen's forms and dialogue occasionally allude to Alfred Molina's previous roles.
    • In "Lady Starblaster", the title character is voiced by Sigourney Weaver; the episode thus makes a few references to the Alien series, such as somebody telling her "Get away from her you witch!", and revealing at the end that she has a second mouth similar to the Xenomorphs.
    • Blaze is voiced by Sean Astin, who played Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Naturally, he nearly dies by falling into a volcano.
    • Sashi's father, played by George Takei, takes part in a mission as the captain of a spaceship.
    • Super Amazing Bouncy Ball, voiced by Curtis Armstrong of Dan Vs., has an anger management problem and lashes out at those who wronged him.
  • Achilles' Heel: The team's immediate reaction to encountering aliens in "Defending the Earth" is to try and figure out what their Weaksauce Weakness is. It turns out they don't have one.
  • Accidental Misnaming:
    • Rippen misinterprets Penn's name as "Ben" when they first meet.
    • Scaley Briggs calls Penn "Sven".
  • Action Dad: Brock Zero. Even trapped in another dimension, he is available by video to give advice to his son while he fights evil in TMDWI.
  • Action Girl: Sashi, the combat-oriented member of the team.
  • Action Mom: Vonnie Zero. Even trapped in another dimension, she and her husband are available by video to give advice to Penn from TMDWI.
  • Affably Evil: Larry, who's friendly and polite even when he's not acting as Penn's principal.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head:
    • In "The Fast and the Floor Rugs", Sashi (currently a small monkey) climbs onto his head to pet his hair, then starts grooming it.
    • In "Flurgle Burgle", Boone can be seen petting his head while he's stuck as the Flurgle to try and cheer him up.
    • In "Brainzburgerz", an army general ruffles his hair while congratulating him on coming up with a way to cure the zombies. Penn swats the hand away, then apologizes and explains that the negative reaction was only because the general had french fry grease on his hands.
    • In "Plantywood: City of Flora", Penn tips Sashi's hat over her eyes while he's congratulating her on knocking out two goons.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Sashi sometimes calls Penn "PZ", while Boone and Penn call her "Sash" (pronounced like "Sosh".)
  • All There in the Manual: The creators occasionally reveal interesting details that aren't mentioned in-universe.
    • The machine the heroes use for interdimensional travel is called a "Multi-Universe Transprojector" (or MUT for short).
    • "MUHU" stands for "Multi-Universe Hologram Uplink".
    • The student president from "Balls!" is named Alex and the bespectacled girl Penn dances with in "Lady Starblaster" is named Matilda.
    • The seahorse warrior Sashi zaps in as in "Chicken or Fish?" and "Fish and Chips" is not a Oceanaquariopolis citizen but an outsourced army general who works for the prince. Similiarly, the crab creature Boone zaps in as is not part of any existing species.
    • Argelblat isn't evil but is percieved as such due to culture clash.
    • The mass-scale brainwashing in "Brainzburgerz" was only the first step in a much larger plan that ground to a halt once the serum was discovered.
  • All the Worlds Are a Stage: The season one finale has all the dimensions visited throughout the previous nineteen episodes threatened by vortexes that will suck them into a realm of nothingness if not repaired. The episode has the part-time heroes and villains, as well as allies from some of these different worlds, team up and travel to every single one of them to fix the problem.
  • Almost Kiss: In "Save the Worlds", Blaze and Sashi try to exchange a farewell kiss but are interrupted by Penn activating Sashi's wrist-transprojector.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: In “Balls!”, Penn visits a world inhabited by sentient balls and sports equipment.
  • Animesque: "Ninki Ninja Battle Town", an Affectionate Parody of anime in general.
  • Another Dimension: The general premise of the series is that Penn, Boone, and Sashi are sent to various universes to fill in for that universe's heroes. Rippen and Larry likewise do double duty for the villains.
  • Arc Symbol: A hexagon with incogruent parallel sides, like a triangle with the corners cut off. It shows up on anything related to the multiverse.
  • Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: In "Be My Ghost", Penn, Boone and Sashi are ghosts and spot Rippen working as a ghost exterminator.
    Penn: Hey! Are you guys thinking what I'm thinking?
    Boone: The ferris wheels are a rip off because when you get off you're right back where you started?
    Penn: Not. Even. Close. I was thinking we should terrify Rippen. I mean, how often are we ghosts?
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: In "At the End of the Worlds," Phyllis and Phil meld into, as Boone puts it, a "space gorilla" and disappear into another dimension.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever:
    • In "Baby-Pocalypse", the heroes fight giant baby versions of Rippen and Larry.
    • In "The Ripple Effect", Penn gets zapped into a dimension as himself instead of an existing denizen. This wouldn't be much of a problem if the dimension's occupants didn't happen to be really tiny and really alarmed about the "giant" that just showed up.
    • In "The Last Mountain Beast", the beast itself is a literal mountain. Also, when Phyllis enters the dimension to pick up one of the shards that could lead them to Penn's parents, she does so as a Giant Woman. When she gives the shard to Penn, she is somehow still giant.
    • In "The Most Dangerous World Imaginable", Penn's dad Brock goes inside a giant fire-breathing chicken, whose crop holds an entire town.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender:
    • Boone alludes to this when he mistakes his judge's robe for a dress in "Defending the Earth".
      Boone: Hey, Penn! Don't fall in lo-o-ove with me!
    • Penn's princess form in "The Princess Most Fair".
  • And Show It to You: In a self-inflicted variation Snowman shows his own coal heart to Penn's team to prove how treacherous he is. This turns out to be a bad idea on his part, as he nearly dies before he can put it back in his chest.
  • Art Shift:
    • The Milkman's introduction has him in a black and white commercial from the 50s.
    • The Sugar Bowl world of "Baby-Pocolypse" is made up of pastel colors and fabric/quilted textures.
    • The "Cereal Criminals" world is designed to look like a cereal box illustration, with the cartoony brand mascots having thick pencil lines and flat colors while the scenery is textured and realistic.
    • "Ninki Ninja Battle Town" takes place in an Animesque world, the look and feel of Japanese animation replicated almost exactly.
  • Aside Glance: Sashi grins knowingly at the audience after her Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion scene in "North Pole Down".
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance: The MUT requires a projector and screen to project through. The Odyssey is a movie theater and Fishstick On a Stick has one set up in place of where a TV would be. Fitting for traveling into dimensions that run on Theory of Narrative Causality.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: While Rippen usually considers Larry a liability, "Number One, Number Two" has him gradually realize how loyal and important he is, culminating in them hugging at the end of the episode.
  • Baby Talk:
    • In "Baby-Pocalypse", Rippen's evil gloating is hit with this due to him being a literal baby.
    • Boone talks like this whenever he encounters something he considers adorable, such as the baby monster from "3 Big Problems" or the Flurgle from "Flurgle Burgle".
  • Back for the Finale:
    • Virtually every guest character from season one makes an appearance in "Save The Worlds".
    • "At the End of the Worlds" has all the villains and heroes from the show battle for the fate of the Multiverse.
  • Backstory: "Zap One" is about Penn, Sashi, and Boone's first mission and was the penultimate episode of the first season.
  • Bait the Dog: At first it appears that Rippen's parents Axalon and Hedwin and younger sister Vlurgen were calling to celebrate Rippen's birthday in the episode "Mr. Rippen". But it becomes clear they were using calling on his birthday as an excuse so they can mock him for his failures as a villain while rubbing his sister's success in his face.
  • Balance of Good and Evil: Naturally what the heroes are fighting for. Evil Only Has to Win Once to tip the balance towards evil leading to a Class X-5 extinction of all life. Kind of puts a pyrrhic spin on Rippen's goal.
  • Bald of Evil: Rippen is bald on the Stone Age world, so he fashions a grass wig into his usual hairstyle.
  • Battle Couple: Brock and Vonnie, both before and after they got trapped in another dimension. Even their voicemail message on the MUHU embodies this.
    Vonnie: If you leave a message after the scream, we'll get right back to you.
    (she kicks a monster, causing it to shriek)
    Brock: That was the scream.
  • Beard of Evil: Rippen has a goatee that tends to remain constant throughout his transformations.
  • Bear Hug: At the end of "Hail Larry", Larry (who is in the form of a gigantic demon) hugs Rippen so hard that he ends up nearly destroying his skeletal body. The heroes watch from a safe distance and contemplate the idea going in to save him.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In "The Fast and the Floor Rugs" Rippen decides to use his third wish from Genie Boone to make Penn expire. Boone works around this by turning Penn into a carton of expired milk.
    Rippen: Milk? I said annihilate him!
    Genie Boone: No, you said "MAKE HIM EXPIRE!"; Check the date, he's totally rancid.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: In "At the End of the Worlds", Rippen ultimately sacrifices himself, stranding himself in The Most Dangerous World Imaginable to close the portal, because Penn saved his life.
  • Big "NO!": Penn's reaction to finding that he's turned into Santa Claus upon reaching the North Pole in "North Pole Down", which devolves into ho ho ho's.
  • Blood Knight: Sashi, who resorts to violence at the drop of a hat.
  • Body Horror: During "Ninki Ninja Fight Town", Rippen eats a special hors d'oeuvre that greatly increases his muscle mass. However, it increases his left arm so much, it explodes and a sickly purple arm pops out in its place. He also grows a small leg out of the back of his head. However, he is still able to beat the Giant Mecha trying to defeat him.
  • Body Surf: The Transprojector allows Penn, Sashi and Boone to travel to other dimensions and take possession of their inhabitants.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Brock shows shades of this; "Baby-Pocolypse" has him laughing and yelling insults while fighting a giant spider.
  • Born Lucky: Larry, in sharp contrast to Rippen, who can never succeed at anything. He's won dozens of lotteries, is rarely inconvenienced even in defeat while Rippen gets Humiliation Congas, and never loses his cheerful attitude while Rippen is constantly angry or depressed.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: The zombie infectees in "Brainzburgerz" are programmed to force-feed infected food to anyone who isn't a zombie yet, usually by incapacitating them first.
  • Brick Joke:
    • One gag in "Baby-Pocalypse" has Sashi throwing a spear at a presumably non-sentient rubber duck, puncturing it and causing it to sink. Several scenes later the team visits a local hospital to get Penn's arm re-attached to his body and Sashi ends up sitting next to the very same duck, who is now wrapped in bandages and glaring at her.
    • "Fish and Chips" has a scene where Penn mispronounces Boone's name as "Bone"; later on, Boone himself accidentally writes it the same way and in "Rip-Penn" it's revealed that he still hasn't managed to shake the habit.
    • "That Purple Guy" ends on a brick jokes. At the start of this episode, the two alien heroes that Boone and Penn end up as "That Purple Girl" are looking for one of the alien's car keys. After the Boone and Penn zapped out after finishing the mission, the wedding bouquet lands in the alien that Boone become arms and the alien that Penn become finds his car keys inside of it.
  • The Butler Did It: Parodied in "Larry Manor", where it initially seems like Larry's butler Matthews is the person behind Tony's disappearance, until it's revealed that she's being framed by her butler.
  • Butt-Monkey: Penn and Boone making fun of Big Butte (mispronouncing it as "Big Butt") which is actually the real pronounciation of the cowboy world they went as stated by Sherriff Scaley Briggs.
  • Call-Back:
    • Vonnie and Brock chose the last name "Zero" because they've never lost a mission, so Vonnie jokes that if Penn loses a mission he'll have to change his surname to "One". This comes up again during the climax of the planet saving mission.
      "My name is Penn ZERO."
    • In "Temple of the Porcelain God", when Sashi complains about how Boone always wears flip-flops no matter what dimension they're in Boone simply replies that they're his thing (and thus part of his Morphic Resonance). In "Rock and Roll", he repeats this line after stopping a giant rock from destroying the CLIA headquarters by pulling off a version of Trainstopping that only works because he, unlike everyone else, is wearing footwear.
    • In the first episode of season 2, Boone is talking to Maria (the boat) about his monkey-renting business from season 1.
  • The Cameo: Bruce Valanch appears to have been captured by aliens in "Defending the Earth" for no real rhyme or reason.
  • Captain Colorbeard: Rippen is zapped in as Woodbeard in "The Pirates, The Parrot, The Puzzles, and the Talking Boats".
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Rippen, who wants to become a full-time villain.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Each character has a distinct face shape and body type; more detailed aspects such as eye and pupil shapes often vary as well. This is crucial for a show where everyone transforms into a new avatar literally each episode.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue:
    • Due to being trapped in a world of non-stop danger, all of Brock and Vonnie's MUHU conversations with Penn involve them discussing mundane topics while fighting monsters or defusing bombs.
    • A benefit of the Milkman's invulnerability is that he can hold conversations while being punched through his torso.
      Milkman: Didn't your mother ever tell you not to put your fist inside someone's chest?
  • Catapult to Glory: Used during the Storming the Castle mission at the start of "North Pole Down". Sashi's the ammo.
  • Catastrophic Countdown: "Flurgle Burgle" has what appears to be this (much to the heroes' shock), but turns out to be just the microwave counting down to when the popcorn is done.
  • Cavalier Competitor:
    • Alex, the student Penn competes against in his school's presidential election, enjoys Penn's campaign speech and even votes for him later on, much to Penn's annoyance.
      Alex: I voted for you buddy! I believe it's wrong to vote for yourself.
      Sashi: (amazed) He's so righteous!
    • In a more downplayed example, Blaze is pretty civil when it comes to his rivalry with Renegade/Penn but is still serious about wanting to defeat him.
  • Cereal-Induced Superpowers: Parodied in "Cereal Criminals", where Boone becomes stronger and faster after eating Kale Flakes.
  • Chekhov's Gag: Sashi and Penn highfive early on in "Chicken or Fish?", causing a minor shockwave because of the thick webbing between their fingers. They later use this trick to knock Rippen away when he captures them.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Near the start of "The Old Old West", Sheriff Scaley Briggs calms a dinosaur down by jingling a set of keys at it. He later uses this trick to sic a herd of velociraptors on Rippen.
    • In "Save the Worlds" when Penn is floating in the Nothingness, he finds a mysterious crystal and pockets it. Later, Phyllis spots it in his pocket and recognizes what it is. It turns out to be a key component in finding his parents.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: After Principal Larry announces that the students get to fill out teacher evaluation forms the camera cuts to Penn walking into the theater with an eerily large grin on his face.
    Phyllis: What is wrong with face?
    Penn: This, Phyllis, is a smile. And I have one because I'm about to obliterate Rippen on his teacher evaluation!
  • Chest Insignia: Penn's "I'm Super!" form has a particularly puzzling one that nobody understands. Guesses about what it's meant to be ranged from "two awesome snakes hugging" to "a snowman".
  • Christmas Episode: "North Pole Down", the sneak preview episode of the series.
  • Circus Episode: "Chuckle City" and "Chuckle City 500".
  • Combat Pragmatist: Mission only have one specific objective that needs to be fulfilled, so the heroes often circumvent unnecessary fights by fleeing the moment their opponent is even briefly incapacitated. Additionally, in situations where a confrontation can't be avoided none of them fight fair: Penn uses tricks and distractions, Sashi uses below the belt attacks, and Boone uses Loophole Abuse.
  • Comic Role Play: At Principal Larry's sensitivity training, the main trio is required to do this. It ends with Boone doing a shockingly accurate version of Sashi, complete with a pitch perfect imitation of her voice. It's actually effective in convincing Sashi she needs to manage her anger better.
  • The Comically Serious: Sashi faces every situation, no matter how silly, with the same over-the-top gung-ho seriousness.
  • Complexity Addiction: Professor Evil Professor, which makes sense considering he lives in a world that runs on superhero tropes.
  • Conspicuous Gloves:
    • Sashi usually wears a pair of violet gloves, though they don't stay with her when she zaps.
    • Phyllis always wears welding gloves, even while on break.
  • Context-Sensitive Button: Phyllis carries a button that does whatever she wants it to when she presses it.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: The intergalactic gameshow in "Defending the Earth" featured several alien species that were seen in previous episodes and worlds.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • A Flurgle appears among the alien audience in "Defending the Earth" and another appears in "Lady Starblaster".
    • "Amber", being a Sequel Episode, has several nods to events that happened in "The Old Old West":
      • Rippen's T-Rex is in Briggs' custody.
      • The farrier who was previously swallowed and then spat out by a dinosaur immediately ducks and covers when it seems like it's going to happen again.
      • Rippen reverses the keyring trick that Briggs used to defeat him the last time they met.
    • Rippen reminds Larry of his hatred of musicals (which was established at the end of "The Princess Most Fair") when the latter starts singing in "Fish and Chips".
    • At the beginning of "Fish and Chips", Boone brings up the fact that he wasn't able to swim when they first visited Oceanaquariopolis ("Chicken or Fish?").
    • The giant whoopee cushion from "Chuckle City" can be seen in the background during "Chuckle City 500".
    • Penn and Sashi's overcompetitiveness when it comes to dodgeball (see "3 Big Problems") is brought up in "Boone's Apprentice".
    • Both Hogarth ("Boone's Apprentice") and the Milkman ("Cereal Criminals") briefly appear during the world-saving Montage in "Save The Worlds."
  • The Corrupter: Professor Evil Professor's gimmick is turning heroes evil through a combination of mind control and manipulation.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: In "Brainzburgerz" Rippen plays the role of the owner of the titular fast food chain, with his plan being to use the burgers to turn the world into zombies.
  • Cover Identity Anomaly: Phyllis often neglects (or flat out refuses) to give the trio any information about the identities of the heroes they're replacing, which sometimes results in them displaying uncharacteristic behavior when they interact with other people.
    Penn: Yes! We're in space! We're in space! And I'm the admiral, and we're in space!
    Crewmember: (confused) Admiral, we've been in space for three years straight.
    Penn: And shame on you for taking it for granted.
  • Cowboy Episode: "The Old Old West" and "Amber".
  • Crazy-Prepared:
    • Phyllis has a flower allergy, so the Odyssey has a emergency dispenser that's labelled "In Case of Flowers" and contains a miniature grenade.
    • Penn carries two foldable scooters in his backpack. Relatedly, Sashi carries two wrenches.
  • Crush Filter:
    • Penn and then Boone immediately have matching Imagine Spots of "That Purple Girl".
    • Rippen has one of dating, courting, marrying and growing old with the titular "Lady Starblaster". With a Shout-Out to Say Anything....
    • Zig-zagged in "Where Dragons Dare". The birds that fly out of Blaze's hair are real but the beams of angelic light are just Sashi's imagination.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: The island president in "3 Big Problems" desperately wants to believe that the neighboring monsters are friendly and tries to make excuses for their various misdeeds. The excuses are all nonsense, but she's completely right about the attacks being accidental.
  • Cup Holders: In "Rock and Roll", Larry mistook the dead wooly rhino's nostril as cupholders, but it still works.
  • Cyborg: Professor Evil Professor.
  • Dame with a Case: In "Plantywood: City of Flora" upon arriving in a film noir inspired world populated by Plant People Penn (who is inhabiting a detective) is immediately met by a mysterious attractive rose woman who has a case for him, which he insists on following despite Sashi suggesting they simply go investigate the area Rippen was last spotted as stopping him is their real priority, with Penn repeatedly insisting that the seemingly minor investigation in these stories always links to the bigger crime. Only for it to turn out this one actually doesn't, and whilst he does eventually stumble on Rippen by chance, it would have all been resolved a lot faster if he just did what Sashi suggested.
  • Dartboard of Hate:
    • In "Number One, Number Two", at Rippen's hideout one of his henchmen throws several knives at a poster of Penn, then another throws an axe at it.
    • In "The Ripple Effect", Penn's room is shown to have a punching bag with a crude drawing of Rippen's face on it.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • Rippen and Larry in "Number One, Number Two" and "Switching Faces".
    • Boone in "Totally Into Your Body".
    • Aunt Rose and Uncle Chuck in "The QPC".
    • Brock and Vonnie Zero in "The Most Dangerous World Imaginable"
    • Rippen in "Mr. Rippen"
    • Sashi and her parents in "The Kobayashis".
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • All three heroes, though Boone's snark is more good-natured than most.
    • Rippen, especially towards Penn.
  • Demoted to Dragon: Rippen in "I'm Still Super!".
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Captain Super Captain and Professor Evil Professor.
  • Dinner with the Boss: The mission in "My Mischievous Son". Penn is the father in a 1980s sitcom who invited his boss, and if he doesn't please him he will be literally Reassigned to Antarctica, while Rippen plays his Bratty Half-Pint son who is planning on ruining the dinner with his pranks.
  • Dirty Old Man: When Penn's parents start making out in the middle of a MUHU call he hurriedly tries to turn off the display screen, only to be stopped by an old man.
    Old man: Whoa, whoa, whoa. This is my favorite channel.
  • Distant Duet: "Moonlight Bright", between Sheriff Scaley Briggs and daughter Amber in her eponymous episode — and surely enough, it produces the intended effect on Penn and Boone.
  • Dodgeball Is Hell: A Middleburg class is seen playing dodgeball at the start of "3 Big Problems". The hero trio play the game like it's a deathmatch – much to the chagrin of the other students, who can't even begin to keep up with them.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Aunt Rose's pet chinchilla is just called The Chinchilla.
  • Domesticated Dinosaurs: In a cowboy world, they replace what would normally be considered native to such a setting.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Penn's half of the "Chuckle City" chase scene is extremely chaotic and involves stunts like loop-the-loops and tilting the car onto its right wheels to cross a rope bridge — all while he grins cheerfully. Needless to say, Sashi's horrified when he hands her the wheel in the middle of all this.
  • Dynamic Entry: Penn and Sashi use the suspenders of Penn's clown outfit to fling Sashi towards Rippen's Doomsday Device at the end of "Chuckle City".
  • Eaten Alive:
    • Rippen and Larry suffer this fate in "Save the Worlds", after Larry unwittingly entices their T-Rex mount with some jerky.
    • In "The End of All Worlds", the Milkman's butter form is melted by Blaze's fire breath, and the part with his face on it lands on Hogarth's popcorn, leading him to complain that he's being digested.
  • Enforced Cold War: Rippen is the team's art teacher and Larry is their principal, so they're all forced to be moderately civil to each other when they're in public. "Larry Manor" plays this up even further, with everyone being forced to sit at the same table while having lunch with Larry.
  • Epic Fail: At the end of the gang's song while they're imprisoned in "North Pole Down", they try to open their cage with a candy cane, only for it to break off in the lock.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Penn, Boone, and Sashi each get one in "North Pole Down". Penn restores a fairy tale dimension by using a shield as a surfboard, Sashi beats up a stuffed reindeer and rips out its eyes, and Boone makes up a story that ends with puppies getting mutated into monsters.
  • Establishing Series Moment: The very first scene of "North Pole Down" shows Penn, Boone, and Sashi saving a fairy tale dimension. Once they finish the job, they zap out.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Parodied in "Chuckle City", Penn and Sashi's clown police cruiser falls off a cliff and upon hitting the ground sticks out a flag reading "Kaboom!".
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: The end of "Balls!". Subverted by Penn, Boone and Sashi stopping before the episode ends, looking at each other awkwardly.
  • Evil All Along: The snowman that guides the heroes to Rippen in "North Pole Down".
  • Eviler than Thou: Professor Evil Professor to Rippen in "I'm Still Super!".
  • Evil Only Has to Win Once: Rippen only needs to win one mission to become a full-time villain and rule over his conquest permanently.
  • Evil Teacher:
    • Whenever he's not teaching art class, Rippen is a part-time villain (who aspires to be a full-time one).
    • Larry is both the principal of Penn's school and Rippen's minion. He's not very evil in either capacity, though.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: Rippen is willing to work with the heroes in "Save the Worlds" to close the holes to the void and prevent the destruction of the multiverse. It doesn't keep him from being an Opportunistic Bastard about it.
  • Exact Words: Literal Genie Boone uses this a lot when he's captured by Rippen. In fact, at the end of that episode, he tricks Rippen into saying "expire" instead of "die" after he wishes to kill Penn and uses that as a loophole to turn Penn into a carton of sour milk, thus saving his life.
  • Exactly What I Aimed At:
    • In "Larry Manor", Phyllis fires a blast that doesn't hit Phil and he mocks her for missing. It's then revealed she was aiming at a stalactite that falls on Phil.
    • At the climax of "Plantywood: City of Flora", Penn seemingly misses when throwing a cactus-dart at Rippen. He cut a slit in the pesticide bag, giving Rippen a dose of his own medicine.
  • Explosive Instrumentation: In "Ultrahyperball", the rules of the titular sport are so complicated that they cause Sashi's glasses to explode.
  • Expository Theme Tune: The opening credits transition from Penn giving an Opening Narration into this in spoken word.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Penn and his family have never failed a part-time hero mission, hence their last name "Zero" (which apparently refers to the number of missions they failed). Penn's main goal of rescuing his parents who are Trapped in Another World however doesn't come to fruition.
  • F--:
    • In "The Princess Most Fair", Rippen gives Boone an "F triple minus" for his Pigoilet sculpture.
    • In "The Last Mountain Beast", he gives Penn an "F quadruple minus" for painting himself muscular as opposed to mocking himself.
  • Face, Nod, Action:
    • In "North Pole Down" Sashi gives Penn a thumbs-up and a nod to indicate that she's ready for her part in their Catapult to Glory plan.
    • In "Chicken or Fish?" they do this seconds before they perform a shockwave high-five.
  • False Flag Operation: In "Totally Into Your Body", Boone tells Rippen and Larry that he was going to shoot the cure syringe into the heart to save Penn (with the villains realizing that if he does that it will kill Penn and hence letting him do so). Once they move out of the way Boone shoots the sub into the heart instead, letting him enter the bloodstream and travel directly to the brain.
  • Family Business: Both Penn and Boone's parents are part-time heroes, and the boys are following their footsteps.
  • "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: Whole plot of "Totally Into Your Body" is Boone and Sashi go on an inner voyage to cure an infected Penn from a virus.
  • Fantasy Helmet Enforcement:
    • In "Hail Larry", Phyllis is wearing a face mask that looks identical to her regular face, including her goggles. This is more justified than some in that she was using a blow torch near her face at the time.
    • In "Amber", Larry sticks a helmet on Sashi's head after he and Rippen use a Pteranodon to kidnap her.
  • Fastball Special: Rippen throws Larry at the heroes in "Temple of the Porcelain God".
  • Faux Affably Evil: The Milkman in "Cereal Criminals", who is almost always smiling and ends most of his sentences with "friend".
  • Fisher Kingdom: The heroes and villains shapeshift whenever they travel between dimensions. The change is either a costume switch or turning into a different body entirely.
    • However, as we see in "Save The Worlds", this only applies to the Part-Time Heroes and Villains. Sheriff Scaley Briggs, Nug, Captain Super Captain, Blaze and Shirley B. Awesome all maintain their appearances and abilities, regardless of the universe they appear in.
  • Finale Credits: The usual end credits theme is replaced with a calm piano version
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Sashi's specs often provide one, such as in "Thirteen Big Problems" where the depict the baby monsters as miniature Boones.
  • Flying Brick: Penn's power set in "I'm Super!". He has flight, Super-Strength and Nigh-Invulnerability, with Heat Vision and a great wink to boot.
  • Flight, Strength, Heart: When Rippen drains Penn's superpowers in "I'm Super!" he comments that he now has his laser vision, super strength, and great wink.
  • Forced Transformation:
    • In "North Pole Down", when the snowman tries to impede the heroes' progress, Penn subdues him by simply reshaping him into a snail.
      Penn: Snailed it!
    • Since they have no control over what or who the MUT zaps them in as, the heroes sometimes get stuck with forms that are difficult or unpleasant to use.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The theater marquee is always covered in scrambled letters that can be arranged to form clues about the day's mission. In some cases the marquee also hints at future episodes:
      • In "The Old Old West" one of the words is AMBER.
      • In "Chicken Or Fish?" two of the words are RUFUS and RESTAURANT.
      • "Chuckle City" has a word and a number, MAYOR and 500.
    • Boone is seen painting a portrait of the Pig-Oilet a few episodes before the statue's debut.
    • The titles for episodes that take place in Oceanaquariapolis, "Chicken or Fish" and "Fish and Chips", hint at the reveal that the kingdom is a fish tank at a seafood restaurant run by a tricloptic cat giant.
    • In "The Princess Most Fair", Sashi admits that Penn and Boone are the best of pals and that this makes her feel left out. The origins episode reveals she had only recently become their friend.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode:
    • "Temple of the Porcelain God" opens In Medias Res and revolves around the heroes being stuck in the theater while Phyllis evaluates their performance during the last mission.
    • In "Larry Manor" the mission is cancelled due to a power-outage, so Rippen and the heroes kill time by visiting Larry's estate.
    • "The Ripple Effect" is about Penn discovering that Phyllis knows where his parents are.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: In "Switching Faces", Rippen and Larry switch minds accidentally after a mission. Interestingly, while it does avert Voices Are Mental and Rippen/Larry still have the same voice, their tone changes drastically so Larry!Rippen still sounds like Larry with his always-cheerful personality and Rippen!Larry sounds like Rippen with his usual gruff personality.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • There's a quick shot of Dr. Hissy's schedule when he tells his secretary to cancel his lunch; the most prominent activities listed on it are pilates, yoga, "me"-time, brunch with Mrs. Hissy, pottery class, and "private snake business".
    • The title card for "Totally Into Your Body" is an anatomy diagram accompanied by Walls of Text. Pausing and zooming in will reveal that the text starts off formally describing the functions of specific organs then segues into unrelated topics and Buffy Speak.
  • Friendly Enemy:
    • Amber, to the extent that she offers Sashi food after capturing her.
    • Larry is absurdly friendly towards the heroes, even inviting them to his house for snacks in "Larry Manor".
  • Friend-or-Idol Decision: In "The Last Mountain Beast", Penn has to choose between completing his mission or fetching a shard that could help rescue his parents.
  • Full-Name Basis: Rippen usually refers to Penn by his full name, though there are occasions where he uses his first name or "my dear boy" instead.

  • Gainax Ending: In the series finale, Phyllis and Phil meld into a giant, blue gorilla-like being and Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence now that balance has been permanently achieved in the Multiverse, taking the movie theater and the restaurant with them. The main characters are just as shocked and confused as we are. Then, at the very end of the episode, a voice tells that being in an alien language that it's time for Phase Two.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: "Mr. Rippen" reveals that Boone's mother, Wendy, was the wise man for Brock and Vonnie's team, but suffered a leg injury that prevented her from helping them when they were trapped in the Most Dangerous World Imaginable.
  • Gender Bender:
    • In the episode "The Princess Most Fair" the main cast get hit by this because of the forms assigned by the MUT (Penn is a princess, Boone is a fairy godmother, Sashi is a knight, Rippen is an evil sorceress and Larry is a female magic mirror).
    • Similarly, in "Rip-Penn" Boone is a housemaid while Sashi is a male chemist.
    • Larry is a female general in "The Ripple Effect" and a blonde cheerleader in "Ultrahyperball".
    • Brought up but defied at the start of "Zap One"; Penn mentions that he won't be switching genders during his 50th zap.
    • At the end of Penn's 2nd Zap as the Prince of Oceanaquariopolis, his inability to tell the genders of his subjects makes him unsure about his own gender.
  • Genie in a Bottle: Boone becomes one of these in "The Fast and the Floor Rugs". He has to grant wishes to whoever's holding the lamp, but he doesn't have to be benevolent about it.
  • Godzilla Threshold: In "Save the Worlds" after Penn is lost in the Nothingness, all the good guys smash the Multi-Universe Transprojector to get the multiverse-destroying vortexes to open again.
    • In the End of All Worlds, two huge armies of heroes and villains are summoned.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: Sashi's glasses, also known by the gang as the Specs, show off holograms detailing the specifics of their missions. Larry's glasses have a similar role.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: One episode has all five main characters meeting at Larry's mansion for snacks.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Rippen in "At the End of the Worlds"
    • Amber at the end of her titular episode.
    • The sports equipment in Back to the Past of Future Balls.
    • The Hues and Drabs from Its a Colorful Life, though neither of them were truly evil, the Hues were snobby about the Drabs lack of color while the Drabs were eccentric and both sides were competitive.
  • Heroic Bystander:
    • In "The Old Old West" the gang get zapped in as ordinary citizens and are expected to stop a bank robbery. Penn is surprised by this.
      Penn: I'm not the sheriff? Huh. Really thought I'd be the sheriff.
      Boone: Hey, at least you got chaps. All I got is a stethoscope and a bag of leeches.
    • "Brainzburgerz" has Penn getting zapped in as a fast food employee who's supposed to find and deliver a cure that will stop the ongoing Zombie Apocalypse. When Penn wonders why the MUT selected such an ordinary person for such an extraordinary task Boone theorizes that it's because the world runs on movie logic, and zombie movies usually feature everyman protagonists who rise up and save the day despite the odds being stacked against them.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In "At the End of The Worlds", someone has to stay behind in the Most Dangerous World Imaginable to detonate the bombs that close the portal for good. Penn, Brock and Vonnie volunteer, but Rippen goes instead to redeem himself. He is joined by Larry and several others, mostly against his will.
  • Hero of Another Story: Larry is off on his own adventure during most of "It's a Colorful World", which is lampshaded once he returns at the end of the episode.
    Larry: Do you know what I did?
    Rippen: No, we were each doing our own thing this time.
  • Hero Protagonist: Taken literally in this show as Penn, our main character and protagonist, zaps into other dimensions to fill in for their heroes.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • Penn and Boone.
    • Rippen and Larry.
  • Hey, You!: Rippen generally avoids using Sashi and Boone's names and instead refers to them by titles such as "the sidekick" and "the buffoon".
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Boone seems carefree but is actually very self-conscious and has anxiety issues. He's especially sensitive about people perceiving him as obstructive or useless because he thinks it's partly true.
    • "The Princess Most Fair" reveals that serious, cynical Sashi sometimes feels lonely and wants Penn and Boone to be more affectionate towards her.
    • Penn is surprisingly manipulative, often exploiting opponents' emotional weaknesses to defeat them.
    • Larry's not as oblivious as he seems and has a few Stepford Smiler tendencies.
  • High-Class Gloves: Both Penn and Rippen wear these in "The Princess Most Fair". Penn's gloves are white and are part of his princess regalia while Rippen's are black and are used to accent his Vain Sorceress look.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Several times, Rippen's own weapons and tactics have been turned against him. For example, in "Plantywood: City of Flora." Penn punctures the bag of weedkiller he was planning to poison the city with, poisoning Rippen instead.
  • Holding Both Sides of the Conversation: While going undercover as Rippen's sidekick Penn is forced to banter with the "real" Penn; he accomplishes this by moving back and forth between locations and yelling insults at himself in two different voices.
  • Homage:
  • Hook Hand: Crossbow, the villain Rippen acts as in "Number One, Number Two", is named after the crossbow he's replaced his left hand with. It's smaller and lighter than an ordinary one but also gives him deadlier accuracy.
    • He gets an actual hook in "The Pirates, The Parrot, The Puzzles, and the Talking Boats" as Woodbeard.
  • Horrible Judge of Character:
    • In "The Ripple Effect", Phil hires Penn as a part-time villain, thinking he has an "evil face".
    • In "Cereal Fugitives", Rippen thinks the Milkman is too "simple-minded" to betray him, but is ultimately proven wrong.
  • Horse of a Different Color: "The Old Old West" takes place in a world that has dinosaurs instead of horses.
  • How We Got Here: "Temple of the Porcelain God" opens on Penn about to be eaten by a giant toilet, then rewinds back to the beginning of the mission.
  • Human Alien: Rippen, who passes for human most of the series.
  • Human Outside, Alien Inside: Lady Starblaster looks like an unusually pale human but the ending of her debut episode reveals that she has a nested mouth much like that of a Xenomorph.
  • Human Traffic Jam: "Chicken or Fish?" starts with the team running to the theater. Penn screeches to a halt once he reaches the front doors, resulting in Sashi bumping into him and then Boone crashing into them both.
  • Hurl It into the Sun: In "3 Big Problems" Phyllis mistakes Penn's dodgeball welts for a dangerous disease and attempts to do this to him in order to save everyone else.
  • Hypocritical Humor: While Sashi chastises Penn for mispronouncing Oceanaquariopolis, she has a hard time correctly pronouncing a complex flower name in "Rip-Penn", even when Boone corrects her numerous times.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The Most Dangerous World Imaginable is about as blatant as you can get.
  • Impoverished Patrician: In "Trading Faces", it's revealed that Larry's manor is Old Man Middleburg's ancestor home and the latter was forced to sell it because of financial troubles.
  • Improvised Parachute: In "Chuckle City", after Sashi uses a parachute bag that contains 10,000 KG of weight, Penn uses a giant underwear parachute to prevent them from falling faster.
  • Improbable Weapon User:
    • Penn's good at defending himself with whatever's lying around, be it a clipboard, a flare gun or, at one point, bacon grease.
    • Vonnie shows shades of this as well, though her weapon range is severely limited by the lack of resources in TMDWI. One episode has her attacking a creature with a stick she'd previously been using as an eating utensil while another has her fighting off a giant monster with a tooth that she had apparently ripped out of its own mouth.
  • The Infiltration: Penn disguises himself and goes undercover as Rippen's new minion in "Number One, Number Two".
  • In Medias Res: "Temple of the Porcelain God" takes place after the mission, with Phyllis reviewing the team's performance on the movie screen. Footage of the mission is played, then the storyline continues onward from the present situation.
  • Insecurity Camera: In "Rip-Penn", which takes place in a world based on Victorian England, the "cameras" are monkeys who draw what they see and send the drawings to the control room. Sashi and Boone bypass them by tossing a banana for them to follow.
  • Instant Expert: Subverted in "The Old Old West", where the heroes' first attempt at dinosaur riding fails spectacularly.
  • Interdimensional Travel Device:
    • The Multi-Universe Transprojector (or MUT) is the machine inside an abandoned theater that the heroes use to zap into different dimensions. The villains' equivalent is in the Fishstick on a Stick restaurant next to the theater.
    • "Save the Worlds" introduces a Super Wrist-Gadget version of the MUT that can zap a group freely between worlds.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • Sashi has a crush on Blaze, a Draconic Humanoid.
    • During "That Purple Girl" both Boone and Penn have crushes on the titular character, a purple-skinned alien princess.
    • Penn also has a crush on Orchid, a flirty anthropomorphic rose. Boone immediately lets her know about it by using his Lemony Narrator powers.
      Boone: He couldn't believe it, this number had a stem that ran all the way to Tuesday. All he could think of was... "I'm in love".
      Orchid: (amused) Oh my.
  • Internal Homage:
    • The "Why are we singing?" line from "Baby-Pocalypse" pops up in "The Princess Most Fair".
    • "Wanna know the best part about braces?" is first said by Boone and then repeated several episodes later by Hogarth.
  • Ironic Echo: Invoked by Sashi to tease Penn about his "save anyone in need" policy as they watch Rippen get an overenthusiastic Bear Hug from Larry.
    Sashi: Someone once told me that a hero saves anyone in need. Should we help Rippen?
    Penn: Nah.
  • Intrepid Fictioneer: Averted with one exception; the heroes aren't traveling to any worlds that exist as fiction in their own, even if they often run on the same logic that fiction would. Only on one mission did they ever travel to what they know as a fictional universe, a world where everyone is a mascot for cereal (or cereal related products).
  • I Taste Delicious: When Rippen and Larry are turned into gingerbread men in "North Pole Down", Larry can't resist eating himself.
    Rippen: Larry, stop that. People are staring.
    Larry: I can't help it, I have so many flavors!
  • Jackass Genie: Genie!Boone acts like this towards Rippen in "The Fast and the Floor Rugs", even tricking him into changing the wording of his wishes in order to screw him over better.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: "Rip-Penn" has Penn as Jekyll and Rippen as Hyde.
  • Kaiju: In "3 Big Problems" the heroes zap in as a group of giant Non-Malicious Monsters who have to convince the terrified human locals of a nearby city that they don't mean any harm before the military attempts a Macross Missile Massacre.
  • Kid Hero: Whilst technically, they are teens, that does make them minors, and hence, teen heroes. This trope is also taken literally, as the heroes zap in to other dimensions to fill in for other heroes.
  • Kids Versus Adults: The plot is built around this trope, as our heroes, being minors, fight adult villains, whether it be Rippen and Larry, or someone like the Milkman.
  • Knight in Shining Armor:
    • Penn zaps in as one on an Excalibur in the Stone quest in "North Pole Down".
    • Sashi zaps in as a knight who's trying to help a princess escape from a tower in "The Princess Most Fair".
  • Last-Minute Hookup: Penn and Sashi share a kiss in the last few minutes of the Grand Finale.
  • The Last Of These Is Not Like The Others: "North Pole Down" has Rippen pull this trope on himself:
    Rippen: Candy weapons loaded, check! Back entrance secured, check! Penn Zero and his team sneaking in to defeat me, check! Wait, what did I say!?
  • Lemony Narrator: Boone takes full advantage of his narrator role in "Plantywood: City of Flora", mocking Sashi and Penn at every turn.
  • Le Parkour: Frequently utilized by Sashi and Penn. Sashi occasionally uses Combat Parkour as well.
  • Lethal Chef: Penn and Boone, as their cake for Sashi obviously tastes terrible but she pretends to like it.
  • Lie to the Beholder: The inhabitants of the other dimensions see the part-timers as perfect replicas of the heroes and villains they're replacing.
  • Limb-Sensation Fascination:
    • Penn really likes the mermaid-esque form he gets in "Chicken or Fish?" and spends a good part of the mission briefing simply swimming around and performing tricks.
    • "Balls!" has the trio zapped in as three types of sports balls. Boone and Sashi are both unhappy about having to use a form with no limbs, while Penn is just amused by how bouyant his tennis ball form is.
  • Limited Animation: Intentionally in "Ninki Ninja Fight Town," to lampoon and pay homage to the less-than-stellar animation of many anime classics, along with the unique quirks and flaws of English localization.
  • Living a Double Life: Unlike Penn and Boone, Sashi doesn't have part-time heroes for parents. She tells them she works at Fishstick on a Stick.
  • Living Bodysuit: The bodies of the replaced heroes and villains function as this, as they allow the part-timers to enter and leave dimensions without anyone noticing.
  • Long Speech Tea Time: At one point during Rippen's speech about villainy in "Cereal Criminals", the camera cuts to Boone and Sashi sitting on the floor while Sashi fires her gun at nothing.

  • The Magnificent: "Defending the Earth" features an alien general called "Ugthar the Ugly".
  • Make Wrong What Once Went Right: In "Back to the Past of Future Balls", Rippen used a Time Machine to create a timeline where he accomplished his evil goal in "Balls!" After Penn's first attempt to restore the original timeline fails, he tries to go five minutes back in time but overshoots and goes back to the day the feud between the balls (Penn's side) and the racquets (Rippen's side) started and changes history to create a timeline where both sides keep a peaceful co-existence.
  • Mathematician's Answer:
    Penn: How did you win 32 lotteries?
    Larry: By buying the winning ticket, silly!
  • Medium Awareness:
    • In "Chicken Or Fish?" Penn starts laughing after an embarrassing flashback about Boone's bathing habits.
      Boone: (annoyed) I knew I shouldn't have flashbacked.
    • At the start of "Zap One", Penn and Phyllis get into an argument about whether or not Penn should have a flashback.
  • "Metaphor" Is My Middle Name: In "Be My Ghost", Larry says "careful" is his middle name and then eagerly enters a rickety elevator that falls down with him. When Rippen asks if he got hurt, Larry says he's okay because "miraculously unhurt" is his mother's middle name.
  • Metronomic Man Mashing: In "Cereal Criminals" The Milkman does this to Penn while they're battling at the dam. Penn being an elephant mascot at the time, The Milkman swings him around by his trunk.
  • Mid-Battle Tea Break: Just as they're about to battle in "I'm Super!" Rippen and Penn get sidetracked by the strange insignia on Penn's chest.
    Rippen: What is that? An eight? Stack of two donuts?
    Penn: You know, I don't know. Could be a snowman, I guess?
    Rippen: Well it does have a snowman vibe.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Often, primarily when its funnier than having them act normally. Lampshaded by Sashi in "The Fast and the Floor Rugs", where after giving Penn a speech about letting people be themselves while in the body of a monkey, she suddenly starts picking flies out of his hair and then chases after one that gets away.
    Penn: Are you eating bugs out of my hair?
    Sashi: Yes, I am. Because I'm me, and today that's a monkey.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Principal Larry. This becomes a plot point in "Number One, Number Two", where Rippen decides to replace Larry to increase his chances of winning against the heroes.
    Rippen: It's nothing personal, you're just a really bad bad guy.
  • Mister Seahorse / Your Tomcat Is Pregnant: Boone and later Penn lays a bunch of eggs as a monster in "Thirteen Big Problems". It's never mentioned if he's a female of whatever species he zapped into or not.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • "I'm Still Super!" starts off action-packed but lighthearted and stays that way until Penn is forced to decide whether or not he's willing to actually kill Rippen in order to save the day.
    • "Totally Into Your Body" starts off rather cheerful, but suddenly turns grim when Penn is close to dying (and almost does).
  • Morphic Resonance: The characters all tend to retain certain traits, no matter how extreme their transformations are. For example, Larry and Sashi always keep their glasses, Rippen usually keeps his Beard of Evil, etc.
  • Motor Mouth: Sashi's little brother George is revealed to speak this way, talking about his cheese-tasting hobby in a rapid (yet soft-spoken) method of speech.
  • Musical Episode: "The Princess Most Fair", which takes place in a Disney-esque world that forces everyone to sing when speaking.
  • Musical World Hypothesis: Ironically the Alternate Universe only occurred on a single instance so far. Most of the instances are diegetic off the top of someone's head, mostly from the Zero family who are all characterized as musically inclined, or in "Zap One" which was performed by Penn but was All in his Head since he was singing in public about his secret job.
  • Near-Villain Victory:
    • In "Chicken or Fish", thanks to Boone's fear of water preventing him from joining the battle.
    • In "Hail Larry", because Penn took pity on Larry, Larry as the Overlord nearly unleashes evil on the world.
  • Never Say "Die":
    • Exploited by Genie!Boone in "The Fast and the Floor Rugs", when he uses Rippen's word choice (expire) to turn Penn into expired milk instead of killing him.
    • Averted in "Totally Into Your Body". Sashi explicitly states that Penn will die if the cure they're carrying isn't administered correctly and Rippen later comments that injecting the serum into Penn's heart instead of his brain will kill him immediately.
    • Also averted in "Rip-Penn", as Penn panics over the thought of dying after drinking poison.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: In "Back to the Past of Future Balls", all characters who go back in time wear disguises to avoid being recognized by their past selves. The good guys wear fake mustaches and the bad ones wear fake beards.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • The promo for "The Princess Most Fair" and "Hail Larry" convinced viewers that both episodes would be musicals, forming a "musical event". However, the latter did not have any singing.
    • Promotional material described the eponymous heroine of "Shirley B. Awesome" as one of Sashi's childhood idols but the actual episode establishes that Sashi had never heard of her before their first meeting.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: A big one for Penn in the episode "The Ripple Effect", where in a rush to try and save his parents he accidentally causes the Least Dangerous World Imaginable to be almost destroyed.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • Larry temporarily replaces Rippen as part-time villain during the "Hail Larry" mission and would have won if not for Rippen zapping in at the last minute and sabotaging the mission because he didn't want Larry to become a full-time villain instead of him.
    • Phil gets one in "The Ripple Effect", where he hires Penn as a part-time villain, allowing him to use the villain's portal to enter TLDWI and save everyone.
    • In "It's a Colorful Life," Rippen decides to ditch the Drabs and continue on his own after atealing all the color stones. This allows Penn to convince both the Drabs and Hues that they're not that different, causing them to work together to foil Rippen.
  • The Night That Never Ends: Rippen's goal in "Boone's Apprentice" is to bring this to a fantasy world.
  • Non-Action Guy: Boone has fewer combat skills than Sashi and Penn. The MUT usually compensates for this by giving him Squishy Wizard forms.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Orchid is an anthropomorphic rose. The discrepancy is immediately lampshaded.
  • Non-Lethal Warfare:
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Penn occasionally mentions a mission that involved vampires being set on fire. Rippen appears to have a related photo in his scrapbook.
    • One mission involved the heroes visiting a cake-themed world. If Phyllis' Thousand Yard Stare when she recalls this is any indication, it didn't end well.
      Phyllis: So... much... blood...
  • Not Helping Your Case: In "3 Big Problems", Penn is a Not Zilla whose mission is to convince humans that monsters are not dangerous. Unfortunately, he breathes fire everytime he speaks, and every step he takes ends up causing more destruction.
  • Not Me This Time:
    • "Defending the Earth" has both the heroes and villains getting abducted by a third party mid-battle, which Penn initially assumes is just Rippen's plan taking a strange turn.
      Penn: (to Rippen) What's going on? What is this?
      Rippen: I dunno. This isn't me.
    • Penn is surprised to find that the bad guy in "Cereal Criminals" is not Rippen, who is instead the bad guy's former cellmate.
    • The villain in "I'm Still Super!" is Professor Evil Professor, while Rippen is The Dragon. Professor even betrays Rippen, which leads Rippen to help the heroes.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Rippen gets very close to winning a few times]].
  • Number Two for Brains: Larry is often the cause of Rippen's failures, which is lampshaded and discussed in the aptly named "Number One, Number Two".
  • Official Couple: Penn and Sashi, in the finale.
  • Oh, Crap!: Aquaphobic Boone's reaction to finding out he's about to enter an ocean world.
  • Once per Episode: The Wilhelm Scream is present in every episode. Sometimes it's even disguised as an entirely different sound.
  • One-Steve Limit: Maria the pirate and Maria the ship. Rippen lampshades it. Larry then says he has two aunts who share a same name. He says they're sisters or the same person.
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Outside of his hero duties, Penn, Boone and Sashi are your average high school classmates.
  • Origins Episode: "Zap One" is a Whole Episode Flashback about Penn finding out about his parents' hero job and then going on his first mission with Boone and Sashi.
  • Orphaned Punchline: "Larry Manor" has Larry saying what seems to be the punchline of a joke, only for Rippen to reveal that there was no setup to begin with.
    Rippen: You can't just yell random punchlines and expect people to figure out the setup!
  • Our Dragons Are Different:
    • The theme song and a few medieval/fairytale-themed episodes feature large hunched-over dragons with bulging eyes and More Teeth than the Osmond Family.
    • Phil is seen riding a neon blue dragon that's only slightly larger than a horse in "Larry Manor".
    • The dragons in "Where Dragons Dare" are anthropomorphic and and have replaceable wings.
  • Our Zombies Are Different:
    • The "Brainzburgerz" zombies are alive and are infected from eating tainted burgers.
    • The intro features a skeletal one that collapses when Penn knocks its head off.
  • Out-Gambitted: In "Cereal Criminals", Penn offers to give Rippen a good teacher evaluation in exchange for information on how to find the Milkman before 3pm. Rippen agrees to this and goes off on a ridiculously long speech about villainy that seems like it's going to lead into something important. However, once the clock strikes three he reveals that there was no point to the speech and that he was only stalling for time. The heroes reply that they had predicted the trick, and had set the clock forward an hour beforehand in preparation for it.
  • Out of the Frying Pan...: "Brainzburgerz" has the heroes escape a zombie-infested mall, only to discover that there are even more zombies outside.
    Penn: We made it! (sees zombies) ...To an even worse situation!
  • Overly Long Gag: Discussed in "Chuckle City". Penn and Sashi commandeer a vehicle and order the passenger to get out. Unfortunately, they forgot to take into account that it's a Clown Car, and have to stand by while a ridiculous number of passengers get out one by one.
    Sashi: This is getting old.
    Penn: It was getting old. Now it's coming back around to funny again.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: In "Back to the Past of Future Balls", Penn and a time machine's inventor wear fake mustaches in the past to avoid being recognized by their past selves. Rippen and Larry do a better job disguising themselves because they're wearing hats and fake beards.
  • Part-Time Hero: It's in the title, and it's what Penn and friends do in many different dimensions, taking the place of local heroes to fight against evil. Rippen and Larry invert this, taking the place of the villains.
  • Pen-Pushing President: Penn zaps in as one in "Defending the Earth".
    Penn: I'm president! How cool is that? (grabs phone) I'm gonna prank call China.
    Sashi: You can't do that, sir.
    Penn: Invite the French president over for game night?
    Sashi: Negative.
    Penn: Can I make homework illegal?
    Sashi: No.
    Penn: ...Can I at least order pizza?
    Sashi: You sign bills from the legistrative branch into law.
  • Perspective Flip:
    • "Number One, Number Two" shows a typical mission from Rippen's side.
    • "That Purple Guy", instead of starting at the theater when the team gets zapped, shows what the guys whose bodies they take over are doing just before and right after the mission.
  • Phlebotinum Breakdown: Rippen fails to completely destroy the heroes' MUT in "Save the Worlds", so instead it randomly zaps people from the worlds it's projected to, which severely imbalances the multiverse causing a chain reaction that would lead all of reality to bleed into Void Between the Worlds.
  • Pinball Projectile:
    • "Brainzburgerz" has one of the zombie-turning burgers ricocheting inside Rippen's helicopter, reaching the cockpit and landing in Larry's mouth.
    • In "Flurge Blurgle", a shot reflected off Penn's collar ricochets around and breaks both Sashi and Boone's handcuffs and shackles.
    • In "3 Big Problems", during a game of dodgeball, Sashi returns Boone's serve so that it ricochets and hits Boone from behind, leaving him confused as to who hit him.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: Sashi does this with a pantomimed grenade in "Chuckle City".
  • Platonic Declaration of Love:
    • The resolution of the Love Triangle plot in "That Purple Girl".
      Boone: It turned you into a raging jerkface, but that's okay. I forgive you... because I love you.
      Penn: (smiles) I love you too.
    • Boone utilizes a more poetic version in "3 Big Problems".
      Boone: Tell my best friend I love him.
      Penn: I thought I was your best friend.
      Boone: You are.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: The main trio are portrayed this way, aside from the occasional Ship Tease. Their affection for each other is very obvious and it's rare to see them apart; "North Pole Down" establishes that Boone and Sashi usually visit Penn's house before he even wakes up and that the rest of Penn's family treat them like they're part of the household.
  • Plot-Irrelevant Villain: Rippen is this in "The Ripple Effect". His goal in that episode is to convince the cutelings to move to a planet named Ploopiter and he's not responsible for the catastrophe that made them need to move from their home planet in the first place. Penn is the one who caused the trouble.
  • Powered Armor: Rippen's mech in "I'm Super!"
  • The Power of Rock: In "Zap One," Penn scores his first victory against Rippen through the use of a magic-powered rock ballad.
  • Power Parasite: Larry's "I'm Super!" form is a parasitic entity that can drain the powers of the heroes and feed them to Rippen.
  • Pretty Princess Powerhouse: The princess who Penn zaps in as in "The Princess Most Fair" is a pink-dressed maiden and a reputed hero, which is why the sorceress trapped her in a tower before kidnapping the Queen (who is confident that her daughter will come save her).
  • Previously on…: The season 2 opener has one in the form of a comic book made by Phyllis recapping the events of the season 1 finale.
  • Pro Wrestling Episode: "Wings of Destiny", where Penn and Sachi are wrestlers in a fairy world.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: In "My Mischievous Son", Penn zaps in a world as a family man who must convince his boss to give him a promotion and Rippen zaps in as Penn's mischievous son who tries to convince Penn's boss to reassign him to Antarctica instead. When said boss shows up, he states there's another character wanting the promotion and, no matter what, the one who doesn't get the promotion will be Reassigned to Antarctica. The viewers aren't explained why Penn's character must be the one to get the promotion.
  • Punch-Clock Hero: Despite their job titles the heroes usually avert this by being personally invested in saving the day. However, when Larry's pet pygmy elephant goes missing in "Larry Manor" neither Sashi nor Boone care — pointing out that they're off the clock and nothing particularly important is at stake.
  • Purely Aesthetic Glasses: Sashi can see just fine without her glasses. They do allow her to find out what their missions are though.
  • Reactive Continuous Scream: Between Sashi, Penn, Boone, and the snowman's head they find in a gift box in "North Pole Down".
  • Really 700 Years Old: Phyllis makes mention in "Lady Starblaster" that she felt '1,014' again.
  • Red Baron: The giant demon Larry zaps in as during his stint as a part-time villain is only referred to as "The Overlord".
  • Requisite Royal Regalia: Penn's princess form in "The Princess Most Fair" comes with a Pimped-Out Dress, High-Class Gloves, and a fancy tiara.
  • Rewatch Bonus: The ending of "Temple of the Porcelain God" reveals that Phyllis left the theater halfway through the film to sneak into Boone's house and eat the meatloaf he kept talking about, then snuck back in without the heroes noticing her absence; at the halfway point of the episode, Phyllis can be seen cleaning her teeth with a toothpick.
  • The Reveal: In "Fish and Chips", the heroes discover that Oceanaquariopolis, the underwater city from "Chicken or Fish?", is just a well-decorated fish tank in a restaurant.
    • In ""Plantywood: City of Flora", Boone takes the form of an omnipresent narrator, much to the annoyance of Penn and Sashi. When they return to that world in "Rootilda", we learn that Boone was actually a seed in Penn's trench-coat pocket the entire time.
  • Rhyming with Itself: The Brainzburgerz jingle.
    Boone: Brainzburgerz, they're good for you! Brainzburgerz, for you and you and you!
    Penn: You can't just keep rhyming "you" with "you".
  • In "Number One, Number Two", when Rippen and Larry are zapped into Old English World, Rippen is zapped into the body of Crossbow, a villainous version of Robin Hood who has a crossbow for a hand. His mission was to keep Penn and his friends from finding the money Crossbow stole from the village, and returning it before the end of the day.
  • Rule of Funny: What the clown town in "Chuckle City" runs on.
  • Rule of Three: In "3 Big Problems", one of the missiles that Rippen launches at the heroes crushes three buildings, the third of which is named "Rule of 3".
  • Running Gag:
    • Sashi getting poor transformations compared to Penn and Boone, although this was occasionally averted, and in "Cereal Criminals" it happens to Boone instead (he's turned into the mascot for a kale-based cereal). The gag was dropped entirely later on.
    • Larry's anecdotes about his life.
    • Plushie!Penn's arms getting ripped or cut off in "Baby-Pocalypse".
    • In "Rip-Penn" every time Penn turns into Hyde-Rippen his suit gets destroyed, and every time he turns back to normal he walks behind a screen and redresses.
    • Most of the worlds the three zap to have at least one running gag specific to that universe. For example, in the Dinosaur Cowboy world, Sheriff Scaley Briggs insists on being referred to by his full name and title, and the town of Big Butte is consistently pronounced "Butt" — which, as it turns out, is the correct pronunciation of it.

  • Sadistic Choice:
    • At the climax of "North Pole Down", Rippen threatens to drop Penn's MUHU (the device he uses to communicate with his parents) unless he stops the sleigh carrying the toys, but ultimately Penn decides that saving Christmas is more important.
    • In "I'm Still Super!" Rippen captures Boone and Sashi and tells Penn that he can save one and the other will be destroyed, then Professor Evil Professor offers Penn a third option: If he destroys Rippen, both of them will go free.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: Rippen tries to pull this off in "Flurgle Burgle" but Larry ruins it.
  • Save the Villain:
    • In "Hail Larry" the heroes decide let Larry have a Near-Villain Victory so that his mutinous skeleton henchman won't kill him.
    • Penn rejects the Professor's offer to let him kill Rippen in exchange for Boone and Sashi's lives in "I'm Still Super!". Rippen returns the favor by intentionally pressing the wrong button on the Death Trap's control panel.
    • Penn saves Rippen from falling into a sea of fire in "At the End of the Worlds", just as he was about to rescue his parents. This leads to Rippen making a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: Briefly used in "A Cat and Mouse Game" where Penn, as a mouse, leaps into one set of cupboards only to jump out of the next one. He then subverts this by opening one of the doors and slamming it on Rippen's face.
  • Secret Legacy: Penn was never told about his parents being part-time heroes and winds up finding out about it after they're trapped in a dangerous dimension. He's practically thrust into the business with no training.
  • Sequel Episode:
    • "I'm Still Super!" to "I'm Super!".
    • "Amber" to "The Old Old West".
    • "Fish and Chips" to "Chicken or Fish?".
    • "Chuckle City 500" to "Chuckle City".
    • "Alpha Bravo Unicorn" to "Where Dragons Dare".
    • "Back to the Past of the Future Balls" to "Balls!".
    • "Cereal Fugitives" to "Cereal Criminals".
    • "That Purple Guy" to "That Purple Girl".
    • "Rootilda" to "Plantywood: City of Flora".
    • "13 Big Problems" to "3 Big Problems"
  • Series Continuity Error: In Cereal Criminals, the Milkman is stuffed in a giant milk bottle, but Save the Worlds show him in a prison cell and wearing his milk uniform. In Cereal Fugitives, the Milkman is back in a bottle and wearing prison stripes.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: In "Back to the Past of Future Balls", the part-time heroes revisit the world they visited in "Balls!" and find out Rippen used a Time Machine to create a bad timeline where he took over. Penn and the time machine's inventor try to use it to undo the changes. They instead go back further in time and prevent the incident that started the war Rippen took advantage of in the first place.
  • She Is the King: Unable to tell the genders of each citizen of Oceanaquariopolis, Penn isn't sure if their Prince is a man or a woman.
  • Ship Tease:
    • The following exchange in "Balls!":
      Vonnie: I never thought a tennis ball could be so handsome!
      Penn: (embarrassed) Mom!
      Brock: He doesn’t want to hear that from his mother. Sashi, tell Penn he looks good.
      Penn: (more embarrassed) Dad!
    • Larry and the President in "3 Big Problems".
    • In "Totally Into Your Body", Boone pretends that an unconscious Sashi tells him that she 'hearts' him more than Teddy (her crush). Boone then thanks her but tells her to keep things professional.
    • Sam Levine reveals in a Twitter post that Matilda might have a crush on Penn. This is hinted when she looks smitten after Penn dances with her in "Lady Starblaster".
    • Penn is extremely irritated about Sashi's crush on Blaze, though it's unclear if this is because he likes Sashi or because he really dislikes Blaze.
    • The serenade scene in "Where Dragons Dare" ends with Blaze and Sashi leaving the club holding hands. They also attempt a kiss in "Save the Worlds".
    • The end credits have Sashi and Penn sit next to each other isolated from Boone and Phyllis.
  • Shockwave Clap: In "Chicken or Fish?" both Penn and Sashi's merfolk forms have thick webbing between their fingers, allowing them to produce a shockwave by high-fiving.
  • Shout-Out: Enough for a separate page.
  • Signature Laugh: Lampshaded in "My Mischievous Son" when Boone points out that his character has a signature snort.
  • Skeletons in the Coat Closet: The alien villagers in "That Purple Girl" use small skulls and bones as hair ornaments and fastening pins.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Boone may act like a Cloudcuckoolander, but in "The Fast and the Floor Rugs" he was able to trick Rippen into using the word "expire" instead of "annihilate" when wishing for Penn to be destroyed (allowing Boone to turn Penn into a carton of milk that was past its expiration date instead of killing him). He was also the one that realized that Penn had to be in a Christmas-like environment to get his Santa powers to work in "North Pole Down".
  • Something Only They Would Say: Penn automatically helping Da Vinci to his feet after the man gets knocked over by goons is what tips Rippen off about The Infiltration in "Number One, Number Two".
  • So Proud of You: Sashi's parents don't know she's a hero so she's unable to tell them about all her achievements, the sting of which is made worse by the fact that they often reward her brother's (ordinary) ones with cake. When Penn and Boone find out about this, they decide to bake her a congratulatory cake themselves; the cake ends up tasting terrible but Sashi still appreciates the sentiment behind it.
    Penn: So... What do you think?
    Sashi: I love it.
  • Starfish Aliens: The Flurgle, which is described as a "space dog-pig".
  • Stating the Simple Solution: The spy-themed "Rock and Roll" is rife with James Bond references, so naturally Rippen indulges in some Bond Villain Stupidity by creating a death trap where the heroes will slowly be crushed to death under a carriage of rocks being pulled by a saber-tooth tiger. Penn is more confused than impressed.
    Penn: Why don't you just feed us to the tiger?
    Rippen: I'm an innovator.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: When Penn notices Rippen and Larry carpooling to work in "Larry Manor" he silently hops into the car, compliments Larry, then leaves before Rippen has time to turn around and see him.
  • Steampunk: The world visited in "The Bewildering Bout of the Amazing Automatons".
  • Stepford Smiler:
    • Penn behaves this way in the first half of "North Pole Down". He misses his parents more than he lets on, but assures everyone that he's doing fine so that they won't worry about him.
    • Larry really is happy most of the time but on the rare occasion he isn't, he fakes a smile anyway.
  • Stock Scream: The Wilhelm Scream makes an appearance at least Once per Episode.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike:
    • In "The Fast and the Floor Rugs," Boone and Larry enter into a lengthy discussion about how watch batteries look like "baby nickels".
    • Boone makes up an impromptu jingle for the Brainburgerz food outlet. Later, Rippen sings the exact same thing.
  • Studio Audience: Present in "My Mischievous Son", complete with the standard "shot before a live audience" announcement at the beginning (which Phyllis jokes about before starting the mission). The characters keep reacting to it, with Sashi threatening the audience if they don't stop.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: During Sashi's part of the Christmas song, the previous lyric of "I won't be trapped by cages, bars, or walls!" is rhymed with "I'll fight them, punch them, kick them in the... knees."
  • Sugar Bowl: Parodied in "Baby-Pocolypse", which takes place in a town that's inhabited by cute stuffed toys but has a realistic legal system — that's currently falling apart due to the mayor's disappearance. Over the course of the episode the town's condition steadily declines, culminating in a doctor getting mugged and then kicked in the gut by a random citizen.
  • Teleporter Accident:
    • In "Flurgle Burgle" Penn gets merged with the Flurgle when they teleport down to the alien planet.
    • In "Trading Faces" Rippen and Larry switch bodies when their multiverse portal malfunctions.
  • The Television Talks Back: Intercom example in "Trading Faces". Rippen sighs at an announcement Principal Larry made via intercom and Larry asks if Rippen sighed and stared at the intercom with disdain. Rippen protests it's none of Larry's business and Sashi points out Larry can't hear him. Larry says he doesn't have to.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • When the heroes are turned into stuffed animals in "Baby-Pocalypse", Penn comments that they can't get hurt, only for Boone to accidentally rip Penn's arm off when they high-five as a result of Boone's palms being covered in Velcro.
    • In "Brainzburgerz" the kids are hanging from a banner in the mall and Penn assumes they're safe because zombies can't untie knots. Cue zombie sailor.
      Penn: Really?! Sailor zombie in a mall?!
    • Penn and Rippen both do this in the last episode. Rippen tells the heroes return to Middleburg and he'll spare their lives. Penn responds its three against two with the odds in his favor. Rippen zaps in several villains from the other universes. Rippen asks if they have any last words. Captain Super Captain zaps in and triumphantly asked if someone called for him. Rippen scoffs at the idea of one superhero only for other allies to zap in as well.
  • Terms of Endangerment:
    • The polite but malicious Milkman refers to everyone as "friend", the frequency of which increases if his opponent is being particularly troublesome.
    • Rippen occasionally calls Penn "my boy" or "dear boy", with mock sincerity. At one point Penn returns the favor by calling him "Old Rip".
  • Theme Twin Naming: Captain Super Captain's twin brother is a villain named Professor Evil Professor.
  • Theme Park Landscape: The architecture of the carnival-themed Chuckle City includes a lot of roller-coaster ramps and trapezes that people can use for Ramp-rovisation.
  • Theory of Narrative Causality: A recurring plot element. Our heroes are literally projecting into alternate dimensions through a movie screen and these dimensions tend to run on movie logic. They're often Genre Savvy enough to discuss, invoke and exploit the tropes of each universe's logic.
  • This Is Going to Suck: Sashi's opinion on Boone being the narrator in "Plantywood: City of Flora".
  • Throwing the Fight: "Larry Manor" has Penn intentionally letting Rippen retrieve Tony so that he'd finally be able to win against him.
  • Today, X. Tomorrow, the World!: Rippen's plan in "I'm Super!"
    Rippen: Today, Megasupertropolis. Tomorrow, the world!
    Larry: The entire world? By tomorrow? I'd give myself at least a week. It took that long just to remodel my kitchen! And I was working on that thing 24/7.
  • Tomato Surprise: Penn brings this trope up while talking about the case his Hardboiled Detective persona is working on in "Plantywood: City of Flora".
    Penn: All we need is a clue that'll set us on a path with a million twists that'll blow our mind when we get to the shocking end! Who did it? Maybe it was me!
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: This is Penn's mission in "Balls!", teaching a world of living balls to defend themselves from evil sports equipment.
  • Transformation Sequence: Parodied on "Ninki Ninja Battle Town". Sashi is a Sailor Moon-type Magical Girl Warrior whose transformation takes so long she gets disqualified from the tournament they're in and it doesn't end until the mission is over.
  • Trapped in Another World: Penn's parents are trapped in an extremely dangerous dimension and can only communicate with their son via the MUHU, a small hologram-projecting device that Penn keeps with him at all times.
  • Tree Cover: Parodied in "Where Dragons Dare", where Sashi carries an entire tree just so she can hide behind it if Blaze notices that she's following him.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: The main trio consists of Penn, Boone, and Sashi.
  • Ugly Spouse Sentence: In the episode "That Purple Girl", Penn, Boone, and Sashi are tasked with guarding Princess Argelbleccht Blunkenthorthph, and attempt to woo her in the process. She takes advantage of their affections to turn them into her servants, and has no qualms about them fighting a gigantic, four-eyed (as in, it has four eyes), tusk-mouthed monster for her heart. In the end, both Penn and Boone yield to him, which means the monster has won the princess' heart, to her shock.
    • Their situation is revisited in "That Purple Guy", where the trio have to get the princess and the monster, revealed to be named Grinkon, to fall in love to save their world. The princess is too disgusted by his outward appearance to want anything to do with him, which provides the problem. Of course, then it's revealed that Grinkon can turn into a total Hunk who is equal to her in height.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Rippen rarely considers Sashi or Boone to be a threat to his plans, due to them being a "common sidekick" and a "buffoon." This is despite the fact that they have had their moments when it comes to defeating him.
  • Unfortunate Names:
    • In "Defending the Earth", Rippen is known as "Ugthar the Ugly".
      Rippen: No, that can't be my name.
    • In "The Old, Old West", Penn and Boone can't help but mock at the town named "Butte".
  • The Un-Hug: Sashi attempts to give Penn a congratulatory hug in "Zap One". After some awkward maneuvering, she ends up looping her arm around him and patting his back.
  • Unmoving Plaid: Most notably on Penn's hair.
  • Unusual Pets for Unusual People: Larry used some of his lottery winnings to buy a baby pygmy elephant and a giraffe. The giraffe lives in a personal zoo while the elephant stays indoors like a domestic pet.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • No one in Middleburg notices Sashi's futuristic-looking glasses/specs.
    • Nobody finds the MUHU or it's holographic display strange. One civilian seems to think it's a type of television screen, but it's unclear if this is an individual opinion or a widespread one.
    • "North Pole Down" features Penn looking out his window to see Sashi violently destroying a stuffed reindeer, then casually greeting her as if this is a daily occurrence (which, knowing Sashi, it probably is).
  • Villain Episode: "Number One, Number Two" focuses mainly on Rippen deciding that Larry is holding him back and trying to find a replacement for him.
  • Void Between the Worlds: The Nothingness; a cold dark place outside of time and space that's inaccessible and inescapable without a catastrophic imbalance in the multiverse.
  • Villain Episode: "Number One, Number Two" focuses on Rippen.
  • Villainous Friendship: Larry wants to be Rippen's best friend; according to co-creator Jared Bush, Rippen secretly likes having Larry around as well.
  • Vocal Dissonance:
    • Boone's ordinary voice is suitably mellow but his scream sounds like nails being scraped down a chalkboard. The first time Penn hears it, he has to ask to confirm that it's Boone who's making the sound.
    • One of the toy citizens in "Baby-Pocalypse" is a tiny baby giraffe with a deep baritone voice.
  • Voices Are Not Mental: When Rippen and Larry swap in Trading Faces they keep their original voices which adds to the comedy of the ideal swap
  • Wacky Racing: "Chuckle City 500".
  • Wake Up, Go to School & Save the World: Although it's more that Penn and his friends save multiple other worlds instead of their own.
  • Wall Run: "Temple of the Porcelain God" has Sashi pulling off a less gravity-defying variation by running down the face of a cliff.
  • Wham Line:
    • Rippen's crush on Lady Starblaster starts off woefully one-sided, but the more they interact the more she starts flirting back. Everything seems to be going well, until...
      "How stupid can you be?"
    • Phyllis delivers a brutal one to Penn in "the Ripple Effect".
      "No explanation needed. You are fired."
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • When Boone nearly gets the team killed in "The Fast and the Floor Rugs" (because he was too busy being entertained by his genie powers to help out properly) Penn loses his temper and chews him out for his irresponsible behavior.
    • At the start of "Flurgle Burgle" Sashi shoots the Flurgle in a fit of annoyance, knocking it into Penn's teleportation pod and causing a Merging Machine accident that nearly jeopardizes the entire mission. When she complains about this incident later on Boone is quick to remind her whose fault it was.
    • In "Temple of the Porcelain God" the heroes assume this trope is the reason why Phyllis is showing them clips of their last mission, so they spend the entirety of the episode pointing out the various minor mistakes they made in the hopes that Phyllis will then allow them to leave. In the end Phyllis reveals that she just wanted to tell them that it was their best mission yet (and that she secretly left the theater and ate Boone's mom's meatloaf while they were watching the aforementioned clips).
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Enforced by Phyllis in "Zap One" after making space in their schedule for one back to their first zap with Penn, slamming a Mental Picture Projector onto his head.
    Phyllis: You will flashback.
  • Weapon Twirling: Invoked in "Number One, Number Two", where one of the contests requires the competitors to pull this off with two weapons instead of one.
  • Wraparound Background: Lampshaded on "A Game of Cat and Mouse", where Penn and Rippen pause to regard the cycling background behind them.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Happens as often as the gang are Genre Savvy.
    • In "Plantywood: City of Flora", Penn follows a chain of clues starting with a mysterious female client at the start, while Sashi wanted to investigate Redwood's (Rippen) last known whereabouts. Penn's plan does ultimately work, but following Sashi's plan would've been much faster and more direct.
    • In "Chuckle City", the heroes are cops in a Cloudcuckooland dimension. Throughout the episode Sashi continually tries to use Cop Show tropes like Hot Pursuit and Car Fu, despite Penn pointing out that they won't work because this particular world runs on Rule of Funny rather than Rule of Cool.
  • X Meets Y: The premise is basically Quantum Leap meets Sliders. The difference from both those series is that the main cast aren't stuck on an endless journey to get home, but Penn's parents are the ones lost in a world they don't know how to get to.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: Some dimensions have time flow differently. Most missions last an hour from the main dimension's perspective, but the "Ultrahyperball" world had three years pass during the mission, as evidenced by Penn, Rippen and Sashi's hair growth as the episode went on.
  • You Didn't Ask: In "The Bewildering Bout of the Astounding Automatons", Rippen asks why Larry didn't tell him the mop Larry gave him was an exploding mop. Larry says it's because Rippen didn't ask.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: "Brainzburgerz" features a dimension that's in the midst of one of these. The zombies in question are people who have been infected by special burgers from a popular fast food chain, the owner of which is planning to perform a takeover once enough people are infected.

"Mission accomplished!"


Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero

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5 (3 votes)

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