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Western Animation / Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters

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They're the long arms of the law.

"We're not just kids anymore. It's time for us to step up!"
Jake "Stretch" Armstrong

Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters is a cartoon from Hasbro, based on the Stretch Armstrong toy, released on Netflix on November 17, 2017.

The show centers on three teenagers, Jake Armstrong (Scott Menville), Nathan Park (Steven Yeun) and Ricardo Perez (Ogie Banks), who become exposed to a toxic chemical called Flexarium that gives them super powers. Jake becomes Stretch Armstrong (who has super stretching abilities), Nathan becomes Wingspan (who gains the power to grow and retract stretchable, gliding suit-like wings), and Ricardo becomes Omni-Mass (who gains the ability to change his size and mass). Together, they navigate life through high school as they learn to control their powers, and make new friends. However, they also have to deal with an underlying conspiracy who’s curious about their powers.

The show is developed by Victor Cook (The Spectacular Spider Man, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron, Aladdin: The Series, Lilo & Stitch: The Series) and both Kevin Burke & Chris "Doc" Wyatt (The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Ultimate Spider-Man (2012), Avengers Assemble, Transformers: Rescue Bots, Marvel's Spider-Man). IDW Publishing released a tie-in comic book that was also written by Kevin and Chris, which lasted three issues.

The show also has an interactive episode entitled "The Breakout" that takes place in between seasons one and two, which was released on March 13, 2018. Season two, which is made up of 10 episodes, was released on September 7, 2018.

Please move any character tropes to the Character Sheet.

This show contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: This isn't the first time that Wil Wheaton has played a villainous CEO whose last name is Rook.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Kevin Burke goes into more detail on this. Put simply, given that the show doesn’t have its own mythology, the team turned this into strength to craft an entirely new mythology with a big universe and supporting cast.
  • Adaptation Name Change: In the original toy line, "Stretch Armstrong" is assumed to be the character's real name. In the animated series, his real name is "Jake Armstrong".
  • Adventures in Comaland: Stretch visits a comatose classmate's dream in the second season finale.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Flexarium and it's second stage Hyper Flexarium.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: The Flex Fighters face Dr. Dreamscape inside Wingspan's Dream Land.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • The season 1 finale, "The Age of Flexarium" ends more bitter than sweet, but it still qualifies. The Flex Fighters defeat Stretch Monster, and destroy his army, only to learn he is Jonathan Rook, their benefactor. Rook frames the Flex Fighters for creating the monster army, and now they are wanted criminals. But at least Dr. C is alive to help them fight Rook, with Blindstrike as well.
    • The season 2 finale, "Doomsday Clock", also follows. On the one hand, the Flex Fighters manage to save everyone from being brainwashed thanks to Erika fully unlocking her powers to save the day, Jake and Riya grow a closer bond as do Nathan and Erika, and while Ricardo still has to move, his parents at least acknowledged he's made new friends, and allow him to live with Nathan's family for the rest of the school year. Kane is also jailed. On the other hand, Rook manages to erase the Flex Fighters' footage of his confession as Stretch Monster, and he knocks out Dr. C with a mysterious gas that's keeping her unconscious. In addition, Officer Reynolds, the only person outside of their circle of friends and family who trusts the Flex Fighters, is tied up and captured, and replaced with a body double.
  • Bragging Theme Tune: "Stretch Armstrong! So fantastic, super-elastic..."
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Early into season two, Erika dumps Nathan after he reveals himself as the fugitive Wingspan to her, but after she discovers that he isn't an evil fugitive, they get back together.
  • Cast as a Mask: Stretch Monster is voiced by Miguel Ferrer and David Kaye, while Wil Wheaton voices Jonathan Rook.
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster: The show switches between fun, lighthearted adventures and more dramatic, intense stories.
  • Chekhov's Exhibit: There was no way the prolotite was gonna last in the Cleo Museum.
  • Chess Motifs: There seems to be a mild one at play in Charter City. Jonathan Rook has not only named his company after him, but designed its logo and even its building after the chess piece. Not only that but the sports team at the boys' school is called the Knights, with their logo also being a chess piece.
  • Chromatic Arrangement: The three main characters' super suits are colored this way.
    • Jake/Stretch Armstrong is blue.
    • Nathan/Wingspan is green.
    • Ricardo/Omni Mass is red.
  • City of Adventure: The Show takes place the futuristic Charter City.
  • Clip Its Wings: The plane crash that "killed" Dr. C resulted from Stretch Monster tearing apart the wing, enraged at Dr. C and the Dashti scientists (the latter of whom, sadly, actually did get killed) for deciding to find a Hyper-Flexarium cure.
  • Color-Coded Secret Identity: Stretch and the boys seem to wear clothes in their civilian guises that match the colours of their super suits. While at school their uniform is already blue (which takes care of Jake), Ricardo wears a red hoodie underneath his, while Nathan wears a green tie with his uniform. Blindstrike's alter ego downplays this, wearing black more often than dark grey, and only wearing turquoise either as part of her school uniform, or underneath more conspicuous outfits.
  • Corporate-Sponsored Superhero: The Flex-Fighters
  • "Die Hard" on an X: "Crisis at the Cleo" has some thieves, the Tech Men, raid the museum, locking the Flex Fighters and their classmates inside.
  • Doomsday Clock: The aptly-named season two finale, "Doomsday Clock", requires Stretch and his allies to depower the villains' Mind Control frequency before it reaches 100% power.
  • Dramatic Irony: In a flashback of Riya visiting her parents at their laboratory, Rook acts rather hospitable towards the girl who'll eventually vow to release Charter City from his control.
  • Dream Emergency Exit: After Wingspan defeats Dr. Dreamscape in his dream, he asks one of his teammates to pinch him back into reality, which ends up working.
  • Dream Intro: "Singularity Event" begins with Jake fantasizing about waltzing with Riya, and enhancing the dance with his stretching. It ends abruptly with Riya asking Jake, in his dad's voice, if he heard his question.
  • Dream Sue: While under the influence of a villain with Dream Weaver powers, Nathan dreams that he saves his teammates from said villain, receives genuine praise from the team's grumpy mentor for doing so, and reveals his secret identity to his crush, who quickly accepts it. Ricardo also has a dream to this effect, where he's a secret agent who teams up with the Freak Sisters to save his parents from a bomb with The Power of Rock.
  • Easter Egg:
    • Rook apparently collects Transformers figures.
    • In "Fast Times", the Flex Fighters pass by a girl holding an Original Stretch Armstrong doll.
    • "Crisis at the Cleo" has an exhibit of robots from other shows, movies, and toylines, or at least their Captain Ersatz equivalents.
  • Expressive Mask: The goggles function as this.
  • Facial Dialogue: When Nathan and Erika first meet in the hallway, they silently smile at each other. Discussed afterwards; Nathan boasts to his friends that the new girl "talked" to him, but since neither of them said anything, the friends doubt that it counts. However, when Ricardo and Nathan give Erika a tour of the school, she recognizes Nathan as the guy she "talked" with earlier. Nathan reminds her that they just smiled, but she assures him, "Well, that counts."
  • Freudian Trio: Ricardo is the Id, Nathan is the Ego, and Jake is the Superego.
  • Gamebook: March 2018 saw the release of the interactive "Breakout", set in between episodes #13 and #14.
  • Gratuitous Disco Sequence: In "The Breakout", if the Flex Fighters choose to fight Smokestack, they can find him in a dance club, dancing to disco music by himself, even wearing a 70's inspired suit. His fun is interrupted by the rival gangs trying to assassinate him and the heroes.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: In multiple fights throughout the series the villains are prone to grabbing one of the Flex Fighters and throwing/slamming them into the others.
  • Heads-Up Display: The Flex Fighters' and Blindstrike's masks function as this for them.
  • Heroic Fire Rescue: The Flex Fighters pull one at the beginning of the season two premiere, "The New Normal".
  • High-School Dance: "The Gangs of Old Town" and "Fast Times" have B-plots of Nathan and Jake respectively attempting to ask Erika and Riya out to the dance, which occurs in "Singularity Event".
  • How We Got Here: "Confessions of a Teenage Superhero" introduces the Flex Fighters during a battle with Multi-Farious, then shows how they got their powers by backtracking to the day Jake and Nathan met Ricardo.
  • In Spite of a Nail: In order for "The Breakout" to flow smoothly into season two, all the endings have Smokestack, Quick Charge, Circuit-Stream, and the Freak Sisters back in jail, and Dr. C forming an alliance with the Flex Fighters. The viewer's choices do influence who exactly captures Smokestack, Quick Charge, and Circuit-Stream (Blindstrike always seems to catch the Freak Sisters), Dr. C's motive for taking the Flex Fighters under her wing, and Multi-Farious' chances of going back to jail.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: In the comic mini series, there is a conflict between Rook Unlimited's Delta Squad and the government organization Extreme Hazard Unit over what to do with the Mantoid, since she was defeated outside of Charter City limits. Rook eventually wins by annexing Extreme Hazard Unit's land into Charter City, saving the Mantoid from extermination.
  • Law Enforcement, Inc.: By episode 4, Rook Unlimited's Private Security takes over the policing in Charter City which Stretch Monster planned on.
  • Love Triangle: The school dance subplot and its aftermath seem to set up one between Jake, Riya, and Ricardo. It gets dropped after all three agree that they have more important concerns — such as Ricardo having to leave Charter City — but both boys clearly still have unresolved feelings for Riya.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Averted; Jake's and Nathan's respective parents don't object to their sons dating young women of other races, and any complications between them and their crushes arise from other personal issues, such as doubts that Riya's stressful and time-consuming "mom stuff" can permit her to date Jake.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Nathan has six brothers and sisters.
  • Mega-Corp: Rook Unlimited all the way. Jake even says it employs over half of Charter City.
  • Midseason Twist:
    • In episode 7, Nathan's grandpa reveals to his grandson and Ricardo that he's figured out the Flex Fighters' true identities.
    • In episode 19 (season 2, episode 6), Erika gets contaminated with Flexarium, which gradually gives her super powers.
  • Missing Mom: Jake's, Riya's, and Rook's respective mothers all passed away some time before the show began.
  • Mood Whiplash: "Dr. Dreamscape" gives Omni-Mass a sillier Dream Sequence than those of his teammates, in which he and the Freak Sisters save Ricardo's parents from a Strapped to a Bomb Death Trap, via The Power of Rock.note  The end of the episode gives this a Cerebus Retcon, by contrasting the dream of Ricardo shredding a guitar to impress his parents, with a real-world scene of him struggling to strum in his parents' absence.
  • Multigenerational Household: The Park household is home to Nathan and his siblings, his parents, and his grandfather.
  • Multiple Endings: "The Breakout" has six endings; this list arranges them from least likely to affect the canon, to most likely:
    • The Flex Fighters do more harm than good.note 
    • The Flex Fighters get caught.note 
    • The Flex Fighters team up with the Delta Team.note 
    • The Flex Fighters attempt to expose Stretch Monster's secrets.note  (In the non-interactive version, the scenes described in the first two sentences occur about 30 minutes in, before transitioning to the capture of the Freak Sisters.)
    • The Flex Fighters team up with two former enemies.note  (The non-interactive version closes with the version of this ending in which the team catches Circuit-Stream and Quick Charge, which makes it the likeliest one to become canon.)
  • Mundane Solution: After Jake's dad gets a promotion, infiltrating Rook Unlimited becomes a little easier for Jake and his friends, shown entering the building under the pretense of visiting him at work.
  • Not an Act: At the end of "Masters of Order", Stretch finds he assumes falsely that his allies only fake succumbing to the Tech Men's mind control frequency.
  • Older Is Better: Nathan's grandpa collects old newspapers, providing another means of research when the Internet goes down.
  • Order vs. Chaos: The ultimate conflict between the order-obsessed Tech Men and the more chaotic Rook, but they're both ultimately Evil vs. Evil. The Flex Fighters and Dr. C only work with Rook near the end of season 2 because he is a less immediate threat compared to the Tech Men.
  • Personality Powers: The Flex Fighters develop powers that double as escapism from their respective sources of drama in their ordinary lives.
  • Pet the Dog: In "Gangs of Old Town", Kane compliments the Flex Fighters and admits that he is harsh with them but only because he is getting used to the idea of their powers, and The Flex Fighters admit they were not making things easy for him either. He becomes slightly more open to complimenting them and their efforts, like in "Fast Time".
    Kane: These Assets operated within acceptable parameters.
  • Power Trio: Jake Armstrong and his friends, Nathan Park and Ricardo Perez.
  • Prophecy Twist: One of the Tech Men warns Stretch, "Only you can save Charter City from what's coming." This initially seems to imply that Stretch will have to take down Number One, but after all of the Flex Fighters fail twice to do so, he gives Erika a pep talk (via Blindstrike's system of entering her dreams), so that she could disable his mind control frequency.
  • Rubber Man: Stretch and Stretch Monster's primary superpower. Omni-Mass and Wingspan also have it as a weaker secondary power for their primary superpowers. Worth noting is that Stretch's superpower is more like he's literally made out of rubber with a small amount of Voluntary Shape Shifting that lets him stretch to a limit before snapping back to normal.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In "The Dreamscape" , there's a character named Admiral Vogel, a nod to Hasbro EP and the episode's writer, Michael Vogel.
    • Episode 20 has Mark Armstrong finish up a phone call with "Vic" as Jake and Riya enter his office.
    • "Masters of Order" has Brick pack some dice before escaping the Tech Men, prompting Mortar to mockingly ask if he'll attempt a "saving throw" should they get in a fight with the Tech Men. After the Tech Men disable Brick's and Mortar's weapons, Brick trips his opponents with a saving throw.
  • Significant Double Casting: Keith David, the voice of Malcolm Kane, also voices Number One, the leader of the Tech Men. They're one and the same.
  • Skyscraper City: Charter City has a beautiful futuristic skyline.
  • Spoiler Title: Episode #20: "The Fall of Jonathan Rook".
  • Staying with Friends: When the Perezs have to move again for their jobs, they acknowledge that this move is going to be much harder for Ricardo that the previous moves because he finally managed to make some friends at the Academy of Future Leadership. As a result, they strike up a deal with Nathan's family allowing Ricardo to live with them for the remainder of the school year.
  • Superhero Paradox: This comes true in a literal way because Rook creates villains to test the Flexarium-based powers of the heroes, and sponsors them for his own purposes.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: A twofold example in both a negative then positive light. Nathan tired of how of his Secret Identity is causing problems with his relationship with Erika, tells her the truth. Unfortunately as The Flex Fighters are fugitives due to being framed by Rook she rejects him for being a wanted criminal. However, fortunately for Nathan while shocked she found it hard to believe her boyfriend could be a bad guy, so she follows him, Jake, and Ricardo, and learns Rook is the Stretch Monster.
  • Team Hand-Stack:
    • Some endings of "The Breakout", including the one on the non-interactive version, have the Flex Fighters do this.
    • "Doomsday Clock" has the Flex Fighters perform another hand stack, before going to overthrow the Tech Men. This time, Blindstrike, Dr. C, Officer Reynolds, and Rook also join in.
  • Treacherous Advisor:
    • Rook claims that he parted ways with his mentor, Dr. C, after she developed an evil side. Actually, when Rook's attempt to strengthen his immune system with Hyper-Flexarium turned him into Stretch Monster, she vowed to thwart any of his efforts to do the same to other people.
    • "The Age of Flexarium" turns Rook into another one. The Flex Fighters discover that he's really Stretch Monster.
    • Episode #20 turns Kane into yet another one. Rook and the Flex Fighters discover that he leads the Tech Men.
  • Traintop Battle: Stretch and Blindstrike engage in one after Dr. C discovers Stretch stalking her.
  • Unique Pilot Title Sequence: The episodes that form the two-part origin story have a shorter intro, which doesn't play the theme song, or show any of the characters.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: A major point of the series is that Stretch and the boys need to balance their lives as students with being superheroes.
    Jake: Is it even possible to be a superhero and a high school student?
  • Whatever Happened to the Mouse?: The comic tie-in ends with Stretch Monster taking possession of the Mantoid and her babies for sinister plans of his own. However, the comic lasted only three issues of the planned six, so this is never resolved.
  • Wretched Hive: Old Town is filled with criminals, but it used to be worse before Rook Unlimited came into power.