Follow TV Tropes


Western Animation / Sealab 2020

Go To
Most of the primary cast (Ed, Gail, Murphy, Paul and Hal)

"This is the year two thousand and twenty. The place is the Challenger seamount, the top of an underwater mountain, a complex beneath the sea. 250 men, women and children live here, each of them a scientist-pioneer. For this is our last frontier, a hostile environment which may hold the key to tomorrow. Each day these oceanauts meet new challenges, as they build their city beneath the sea. This is Sealab 2020."

A short lived Hanna-Barbera cartoon, airing in 1972. The show followed the exploits of the crew of Sealab, an underwater research station devoted to studying, exploring, and protecting underwater marine life. The show had a short run, with only 13 episodes aired (and three left unfinished).

The show wasn't well remembered except for occasional early morning repeats on Cartoon Network, before the burgeoning program block [adult swim] parodied it as Sealab 2021.

Tropes featured in this show:

  • All Animals Are Dogs: As Hal said, "basking sharks are like the puppies of the ocean." Most of the animals Avert this trope, though.
  • Broken Aesop: The focus of "Lost" involves Gail trying to train a dolphin, but eventually has to let go of him because he belongs in the wild... despite a fully-trained seal being the Team Pet.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The dolphin Gail befriended in "Lost" never appears again... unless you think that one of the unnamed dolphins that appear in "The Shark Lover" could be the one Gail befriended.
  • Color-Coded Characters: As listed below, the wet suits the characters wear are color coded by position.
  • Damsel in Distress / Distressed Dude: Bobby and Sally need to be rescued in the pilot.
  • Driven to Madness: Due to green fever, a minor character tries to sabotage Sealab.
  • Edutainment Show: Despite the science fiction lab, the episodes teach a lot of real-life marine biology.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: One episode deals with a hunter tracking and trying to kill a whale.
  • Green Aesop: More often than not. "The Capture" plays with this trope, being that Bobby and Sally want to free animals from cages, though the cages are meant to bring those animals to zoos, which benefits the episode explains.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Several examples to put over the Green Aesop.
  • Hollywood Science: Mostly averted, in a lot of the plots stay fairly accurate.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: Nobody at first believes Gail when she sees the giant squid.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: In "Collision of the Aquarius", while the Sealab crew plan to cut their way into the eponymous submarine's nuclear reactor room from the bottom, the sub's captain, Glenn, tries to break into the reactor himself through the hatch, doubting that Sealab would make it in time. Captain Murphy knows that this is dangerous, since there is a possibility that the reactor's automatic carbon control system won't work, resulting in Glenn attempting to insert the carbon rods by hand without shielding, meaning he would risk radiation poisoning. Glenn only gives up on his folly when he sees Sealab successfully able to get into the reactor room first.
  • The Leader: The show actually takes a realistic approach to this trope. Dr. Paul Williams is the head scientist of Sealab and if often the one to lead the science decisions. Captain Murphy is the head of security, when there is trouble in Sealab Murphy takes charge of that part of the operation. Williams and Murphy throughout the series regularly ask for one another's advice for issues as one would in real life mission.
  • Limited Animation: Like most cartoons of its era.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Since the show takes place in an undersea base, it's sort of a Justified Trope. Every one wears a diving suit (orange for scientist, blue for other job, yellow for student). Slightly subverted when each character gets a helmet when they go diving.
  • Lost at Sea: Bobby and Sally get lost at sea at least twice, including "Deep Threat" and "The Capture".
  • No Name Given: A good chunk of the other workers in Sealab.
  • Rising Water, Rising Tension: In "Green Fever", a red alert is signaled after a supply ship's concrete mooring, cast off during a hurricane, unwittingly strikes Sealab's control dome and splits a major section of the shell, causing it to start flooding.
  • Team Pet: Sealab has a pet seal and an orca.
  • Title by Year: 2020 is said by the Opening Narration as the year it's set in:
    This is the year two thousand and twenty.
  • Underwater Base/Underwater City: Sealab, of course.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The villain in one episode wants to go back to the surface from Sealab... but he has to be in a pressure chamber. Otherwise, he will get the bends, a real threat throughout the series.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: There are clearly lots of workers in Sealab but outside of the primary cast most only get shown in one episode to never be mentioned again. The same thing happens with the dolphin Gail rescued in "Lost".