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Western Animation / Superbook (2011)

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Joy, Gizmo and Chris. Not pictured: Superbook's computer-tablet form.

It's the Word for all time,
The Word for all the world;
The Story's forever alive—
Hosanna, sing hosanna,
The Word—Superbook!
Hosanna, sing hosanna,
The Word—Superbook!
Opening credits lyrics

Superbook is a 2011 computer-animated reboot of the 1981 Japanese-American animation series of the same name, produced by the Christian Broadcasting Network (which also developed the original series alongside TV Tokyo).

This series follows the adventures of Chris Quantum and his best friend Joy Pepper, along with their robotic companion Gizmo, as they experience various Bible stories and meet the characters therein by way of the eponymous Superbook (here a hand-held electronic device instead of a physical book like the original), which takes them back in time to the Biblical eras in order to teach them important lessons that relate to problems they are facing in the modern day. Like its predecessor series, this show stays largely faithful to the original Bible stories, although it doesn't shy away from some of the stories' darker and more violent aspects (it's not afraid to show shepherd boy David killing a lion or the scars from Jesus' beatings prior to the crucifixion, for instance) even as it keeps the material appropriate for children.


As noted on the predecessor series' page, the remake was the first animated series to air on ABC Family since 2005 (that network also aired the original show in the 1980s). This series has also been shown in Japan as of 2018, bringing the franchise full circle.

Now has a character page.

The Superbook reboot series contains examples of:

  • Abridged for Children: The series tends to stick to the core points of the Bible stories in each episode, and even includes Adaptation Expansion to fill in a few gaps, but some episodes still tone down the depictions of certain scenes or omit a few details to keep things relatively kid-friendly. Examples:
    • "Rahab and the Walls of Jericho" shows Rahab being shunned by her nearest neighbors but doesn't explain why this is (the Bible explicitly states that she's a prostitute, which isn't known for being a noble line of work).
    • "Elijah and the Prophets of Baal" doesn't show the titular prophets cutting themselves during their noisy worship rites on Mount Carmel like they did in the source material (though they are shown holding swords while they're dancing around).
    • "The Road to Damascus" shows a flashback of Stephen being surrounded by an angry mob and hit with a few rocks as they start to stone him before cutting away from the rest of the execution.
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    • "Joseph and Pharaoh's Dream" has Joseph tell the kids that he wound up in prison for something he did not do, but he doesn't go into detail about what that something was (namely, being accused of raping Potiphar's wife as retaliation on her part for his refusing her advances).
  • Adaptation Expansion: Quite a bit across episodes. Some examples:
    • The Bible generally portrays the rebellion in Heaven in only one short statement: "And there was war in Heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon (Satan); and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not."note  In "In The Beginning," we get to see a short but action-packed portrayal of that battle, with Lucifer and Michael going for each other in the clash before Michael personally throws Lucifer out of Heaven (while quoting Isaiah 14:12 and 15 for good measure).
    Michael: How you are fallen from Heaven, oh Lucifer, son of the morning. How you are cut down to the ground, you, who weaken the nations. Yet now you are brought down to the lowest depths of the pit.
    • In the Bible, the battle between David and Goliath is depicted as a Curb-Stomp Battle in David's favor when he knocks Goliath out with a stone to the head (and then cuts off the giant's head with his own sword). Here, in the episode "A Giant Adventure," the confrontation is drawn out a little with David having to dodge Goliath's attacks prior to slinging the stone. Additionally, the episode explicitly shows David's older brother Eliab as being ready to challenge the Philistines, only to immediately draw back when Goliath first appears (in the source material, while Eliab is part of the Israelite army, he's not specifically pointed out except for when he scolds David for being at the battlefield).
    • The first half of "Jesus Feeds the Hungry," which is about Jesus's miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding of Cana, tells the story from the viewpoint of the servants, who the kids and Gizmo are working with in the kitchen area (in the source material, the only time we hear about the servants is when Jesus gives them instructions for the miracle to happen). Prior to the discovery of the wine having run out, Chris learns about the local wedding culture from the son of the wedding's steward, while the steward and Gizmo discuss how to maximize the quality of the food while using smaller portion sizes per guest.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Chris's mother Phoebe is drawn into one adventure with the kids and subsequently loses them in the middle of the frenzied crowd that's going to watch Jesus's upcoming trial. Her worry about Chris's well-being allows her to relate to and sympathize with the anguish being experienced by Mary, Jesus's mother, who later has to helplessly watch her son die an agonizing death.
    Chris: Don't worry, Superbook will get us out of here and take us home. I promise. We'll be safe.
    Phoebe: Chris, Mary is about to lose her son—the worst thing any mother could face. I am not leaving her.
    • In "Revelation," the Quantum parents are frightened for Chris's safety when their house is burned down.
  • All-CGI Cartoon: In contrast to the 1981 series.
  • Anachronic Order:
    • While "In the Beginning" is officially the first episode of this series, it was first aired in September 2011, five months after "Let My People Go," the fourth episode, which was the first one aired. There's also an odd example with the latter episode, as in that one Chris and Joy recount having met David and Goliath in a prior adventure—but that doesn't happen until "A Giant Adventure," two episodes later.
    • There's also a weird in-universe example in that, while the episodes themselves are (for the most part) listed in their proper order and the modern-era plots play out likewise, the Bible stories are not showcased chronologically past the first episode. For instance, the Season Two episode "Elijah and the Prophets of Baal" has the kids meeting Elijah around the time he's preparing to have his famous showdown on Mount Carmel, while the Season Four episode "Elijah and the Widow" has them meeting him when he's being fed by ravens at the brook Cherith shortly after he pronounces the drought on Israel, which takes place long before the Mount Carmel showdown. Likewise, the Season One episode "Miracles of Jesus" has them meeting Jesus when He's performing healing miracles, casting out demons, and stopping the storm on the Sea of Galilee, but the Season Four episode "Jesus Feeds the Hungry" has them meeting Him at the wedding of Cana, where His first recorded miracle (turning water into wine) chronologically takes place.
  • Archangel Michael: He's the very first Biblical character the kids meet in the series' first episode, and he makes a few appearances in different episodes thereafter.
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    • In "A Giant Adventure," when Eliab chastises David for coming onto the battlefield, David puts him to shame with two of these back-to-back, fueled by indignation that the Israelite soldiers are fleeing after Goliath has just insulted them and the God of Heaven.
    David: Doesn't the army know why they're here? Is there not a cause?
    • In "King Solomon," Chris is fretting about how he's going to figure out the identity of whoever stole his father's prize invention from its display at their science fair back home. When he confides his worry about catching the thief to Solomon, the king in turn tells of how he himself worried about his capability to lead Israel when he'd just turned king. Then he advises Chris that if he asks God sincerely for wisdom, it will be granted to him...and then Solomon caps it off with one question that Chris goes on to contemplate:
    Solomon: With all your heart, you must trust the Lord, and not your own judgment. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. Is your trust in God? Or is it in Chris?
  • Badass Israeli: There are several examples, but the best one has to be David in "A Giant Adventure." The opening scene shows him killing a lion to protect one of his lambs (bear in mind that David is just a young boy at the time).
  • Bible Times: Natch. Because of the time period, the kids have to be careful not to mention anything too anachronistic, though they have slipped up a few times (Joy causes confusion in Isaac when she describes his abacus as an early computer in "The Test," and Gizmo mentioning marshmallows at a campfire raises questions for Simon Peter in "Miracles of Jesus").
  • Big Damn Heroes: In "Revelation," Satan's army is surrounding and about to kill the kids—then a trumpet blows from Heaven, and out comes Jesus leading a whole army of angels to destroy Satan.
  • Bittersweet Ending: "John the Baptist" ends on this note. Despite his best efforts, Chris fails to prevent the titular character's death by beheading at the order of King Herod; however, Chris has learned the important lesson of doing the right thing even when it's unpopular, and Jesus openly declares John the Baptist to be the greatest of all Israel's prophets.
  • Christmas Episode: "The First Christmas" in Season One, "The Birth of John the Baptist" in Season Three, and "Jesus Heals the Blind" in Season Four. While the modern-day plots of all three episodes are set around Christmas, the first one stays true to the Biblical narrative by not having any of the Bible characters mention anything to do with the festive seasonnote  and the Bible-era stories of the latter two are not generally identified with Christmas at all.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: In this series, good angels always wear white-colored robes or white armor with yellow linings (Michael being the prominent example), while fallen angels wear black armor with red linings. According to the creators, this was done in order to let the show's target audience of young children better identify which side is which.
  • Continuity Nod: Later episodes give a few nods to the events of past episodes. For example, in "Peter and Cornelius," while Peter is witnessing to Cornelius's household about the actions of Jesus, many of which were shown in previous episodes and seasons, Chris remarks that he, Joy and Gizmo likewise witnessed those same events via Superbook. Modern-day characters like Pearce the extreme skateboarder, Todd the bully, and Jia Wei the hall monitor also get more than one appearance or mention across episodes.
  • The Corrupter: Satan, of course. He doesn't limit himself to just the Bible characters, either; on at least two occasions he's tried to coerce Chris into joining forces with him.
  • Crapsack World: "Noah and the Ark" gives us an up-close idea of just how bad the world has gotten by the time Noah's gotten around to building the vessel at God's instructions. When the episode starts, Superbook has already dropped Chris, Joy and Gizmo into a town where people are perpetrating violence against each other, horsemen are rampaging through the streets, men are forcibly stealing other men's wives and knocking down the husbands if they try to resist, and robberies are going on openly and with wild abandon. Unfortunately for the protagonists, the violence also includes two different instances of people chasing after them to kill them.
  • Dark Is Evil: Lucifer, both before and after he falls from heaven and becomes Satan. His default appearance (both in his demonic form and whenever he assumes his angelic form) has him clad in black armor, and when he turns into Super Smoke, it's always colored black. Even when he masquerades as a human, he wears dark-colored robes.
  • David vs. Goliath: But of course. As depicted in "A Giant Adventure," the trope-naming confrontation is expanded a little, as David has to dodge Goliath's weapon-throws and strikes, Goliath's spear-throw dislodges David's bag of stones from his belt, and David has to retrieve the bag before he can use his sling. The episode also keeps the shot of David cutting off Goliath's head with his own sword (albeit with the use of the Gory Discretion Shot so we don't see Goliath's head getting separated from his body onscreen).
  • Deus ex Machina: "In the Beginning" has one of these right when Adam and Eve are compelled to leave Eden following their sin of eating the Forbidden Fruit. As Chris, Joy and Gizmo prepare to chase after them, the trio's suddenly confronted by a lion which, earlier, had been shown as quite non-aggressive, but now wants to eat them. The kids start running for their lives, the lion chases after them and is closing in...and then, from the stormy sky above, a lightning bolt strikes a tree and sets it on fire, causing it to fall right in the lion's path to make the big cat give up the chase. It's implied God may have had a hand in that, seeing as He's the one in charge of all created things and all.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In "Joseph and Pharaoh's Dream," Superbook transports the trio right inside a prison cell. Then, as they're getting their bearings together, a tall and hulking prisoner comes out of the shadows right behind them and places his hands on the kids' shoulders...then he walks past Chris and Joy and up to Gizmo, who turns around and eyes the guy's midsection and then the guy's face...and the guy leans forward in an intimidating manner...luckily, Joseph shows up and declares the trio as his new assistants before anything else can take place.
    Prisoner: Hi.
    Gizmo: Hi...okay, we're done here. (tries to escape, only to crash into the prison bars)
  • Eating Lunch Alone: Jia Wei, the hall monitor at Valleyview Middle School, is revealed to be doing this because the other students can't stand his strict enforcing of the school rules. It visibly bothers him when Chris, who likewise dislikes him for that adherence to rules, brings it up.
  • Empathic Environment: In "In the Beginning," the moment Adam and Eve take a bite of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, the sky gets dark and stormy with lightning flashing, when moments earlier it had been bright and calm.
  • Energy Beings: Whenever God is given a personal appearance, He is shown as a disembodied light or as a humanoid light-figure, though His face is never seen.
  • The Faceless: Only twice has God been shown in person in the series, in the episodes "In the Beginning" and "Revelation," and in both cases His face is never seen. In the former episode He is depicted as a being of light with a humanoid appearance and is only shown from behind or at torso-level with His face just out of sight, and in the latter episode He is shown as pure light on Heaven's throne with Jesus standing on His right side.
  • Fallen Angel: "In The Beginning" shows how Lucifer and the angels who sided with him became this, prior to the corruption of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Lucifer himself suffers his fall directly as a result of Michael, during their clash in Heaven.
  • Fantasy Sequence: In "The Good Samaritan," after hearing Jesus tell the titular parable, Gizmo runs to relate it to Chris and Joy (who were away running errands with some of the disciples). Unfortunately, because Gizmo's a fan of a superhero-robot movie back home, he intersperses the story with his own imagination of himself as a heroic fighter-bot beating up the robbers in the parable. Luckily for Chris and Joy, Gizmo recorded video footage of Jesus telling the actual story—but much to the kids' frustration, Gizmo stopped the recording right before Jesus could ask the question of which of the three passersby was neighbor to the robbery victim...although happily, Jesus Himself comes up at that moment to relay the rest to them.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Dr. Quantum is a brilliant inventor. Besides building Gizmo, he's also built a functional jet-pack, a robotic exoskeleton, and a water-purifier that can make clean drinking water in mere hours.
  • God Is Good: A recurring theme.
  • Gold and White Are Divine: Good angels who're dressed for combat wear white armor with gold lining and gold arm-bracers and leggings. Michael is the first and most recurring example shown in-series.
  • Good Parents: Dr. and Mrs. Quantum definitely love and care for Chris, and it shows throughout the series (although Mrs. Quantum isn't afraid to be strict when it's called for). Likewise with Joy's parents; although they don't show up as often, they clearly care about Joy (and she in turn loves them dearly).
  • Good Wings, Evil Wings: Good angels in this series have white feathered wings, while demons have red bat-like wings. Prior to becoming demons, the fallen angels also have white feathered wings, but they're still easily told apart from the loyal angels by their black armor.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • In "Revelation," Chris suffers one when he triggers the accident that burns down his family's home and can only stand there with a shell-shocked expression, to the point that Gizmo has to physically pick him up and haul him away.
    • Joy suffers one at the beginning of "Paul and the Shipwreck." She, Gizmo and the Quantums are part of a disaster-relief expedition, but while she honestly did want to help the needy residents from the outset, it turns out she wasn't prepared for the difficulty of the whole thing—having to juggle multiple calls for assistance coming in at the same time, hefting heavy equipment, and dealing with muddy conditions and mosquitoes overwhelms her to the point that she drops to her knees and breaks down in tears.
    • Two of these happen in "Peter's Denial." First, Joy gets hit with one after Chris casually and callously pretends not to know her in order to be able to fit in with a group of cool kids; she winds up fleeing and then standing outside weeping uncontrollably. Second, as in the source material, Peter stumbles out of the judgment hall and falls to his knees, weeping bitterly, after realizing he'd just denied Jesus three times, exactly as Jesus had earlier warned him would happen.
    • "Job" begins with Chris in the midst of one as he grieves for his recently-deceased grandfather; the loss is made worse in that it's only the most recent calamity he's suffered that week in addition to being robbed of money he was saving, having a tree crash through his roof-window and break his arm, and losing the class's pet iguana when he was tasked to care for it. When Joy comes to see him, Chris is so distraught that he's about to give up on doing good ever again, since all these bad things have happened to him in spite of his trying to do good.
  • Holy Backlight: Whenever angels appear to mortals, they're accompanied by bright gleams of light to signify their heavenly origin, and Jesus also has this kind of light around His person following His resurrection. Heaven itself is shown glowing with majestic light in "In the Beginning," as Michael shows it to the kids to indicate exactly where they are (though they're viewing it from atop a rock-face a fair distance away from the Pearly Gates), and even more so in "Revelation," following the final triumph of good over evil as recorded by John the Revelator.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: Any time the kids attempt to interfere in any of the bad events of an adventure, something prevents them from doing so. For example, in "Roar!", Joy tries to reach King Darius to prevent Daniel from being sent to the lions, only to arrive too late (she still manages to talk to Darius afterward, prior to him spending the night in fasting).
  • Humans Are Bastards: In "Revelation," Lucifer argues this point, with accompanying visuals via vision, to try and sway Chris to his side.
    Lucifer: Even when people have everything—wealth, power—they still turn to cruelty and abuse.
  • In Medias Res: "Noah and the Ark" starts with Chris, Joy and Gizmo already in Bible times and running for their lives as a man on horseback chases them through a city where violence and chaos are already active. The trio manages to find a hiding place where they can catch their breath, at which point the story shifts into a flashback, not so much to explain how they got there—that would be Superbook's doing—but rather why they got there.
  • Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!: The modern-day plot of "Elisha and the Syrians" starts with a video of Joy eating an entire birthday cake being posted online, but with digital editing done to make the cake slices appear like other whole foods (one slice is edited to look like an entire turkey, for instance), and at the time Joy sees the video, it's already gotten over 17,000 downloads. Chris and Gizmo struggle and fail to keep from laughing when they see it, but Joy's embarrassed and outraged.
  • Internal Reveal: While the kids generally make a point of not mentioning Superbook or the fact that they're time-travelers to anyone else in Bible times or the modern world, there have been a couple of occasions where others have been made aware of the whole situation. In "Revelation," Chris tells a disguised Satan that Superbook's the one that brought him to their location (and considering Satan's silent-but-aggravated reaction, he likely knows about Superbook already), while Joy and Gizmo explain about Superbook to John the Revelator (who says it sounds similar to the working of the Spirit of God). Superbook has also revealed itself to three modern-day characters on separate occasions by pulling them into the adventure along with the kids, either so the guest character can learn a lesson along with the protagonists or so that either Chris or Joy can learn a lesson that's directly related to the guest character. Of those three, one is an infant so the secret's in no danger of getting blabbed, another gets Laser-Guided Amnesia at the end of the episode, and the third becomes a Secret Keeper. In something of an inversion, Archangel Michael appears to already know the kids' true nature, given how he greets them during their first meeting by assuring them they don't need to be afraid as no harm will come to them there in Heaven.note  And it's hinted that Jesus is a Secret Secret-Keeper who simply keeps mum about the whole time-traveling thing.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Todd, one of the protagonists' fellow students at Valleyview Middle School, is an absolute dick in every episode he appears in. However, in "A Giant Adventure," where he and Chris are auditioning as guitarists for the school's band, Todd makes the rather valid point that while Chris may be a skilled guitarist when playing alone, that's not the same as performing in front of a crowd, where the pressure will be much higher. Sure enough, a few minutes later Chris suffers a bad case of stage fright and humiliates himself as a result.
  • Judgment of Solomon: The trope-naming incident, where the two women come for Solomon to determine which of them is the infant's real mother, is depicted in the episode "King Solomon." While witnessing the scene, Gizmo determines that a simple DNA analysis could solve the problem easily, and covertly gets DNA samples from the two women and the baby...and then realizes that the lab-work to do that analysis would take up to eight weeks.
  • Karmic Death: In the Bible, Darius orders the men who set up Daniel to be thrown into the lions' den to be thrown in there themselves after Daniel comes out alive. In "Roar!", while the episode doesn't show the men being thrown in (and Superbook takes the kids back home before it's carried out), Darius makes a menacing declaration that implies this is exactly what's going to happen.
    Darius: As for will discover exactly how mighty the lions' roar can be.
  • Kill It with Fire: As in the original Bible text, the disciple James in "The Good Samaritan" wants to rain down fire from heaven to scorch the Samaritan village that has refused hospitality to Jesus, but of course Jesus rebukes him for it. On the other hand, Gizmo, who's a fan of a superhero-robot movie back in modern times, is quite intrigued that the disciples could actually have that kind of power.
    Gizmo: Oh, good call, James! Now, were you thinking explosive fireballs, flaming lightning bolts, or were you— (gets a simultaneous "Be Quiet!" Nudge from Chris and Joy)
  • Knight Templar: "The Road to Damascus" shows Saul of Tarsus as one of these. As in the original scripture, the episode shows him vigorously hunting followers of Christ (men, women and children alike) because they supposedly disregard the Law of Moses, right up until his encounter with Jesus en route to Damascus that will later see him getting his name changed from Saul to Paul.
  • Large and in Charge: Naaman in "Naaman and the Servant Girl" is shown as a large-bodied and imposing man, appropriate for someone who's captain of the Syrian army. Cornelius in "Peter and Cornelius" is likewise shown as a stoutly-built centurion.
  • The Last Title: "The Last Supper," wherein the kids get to witness the eponymous supper with Christ and His disciples before the former's eventual crucifixion.
  • Man Behind the Man: In "He Is Risen," Satan is explicitly shown as the one behind Judas's betrayal of Jesus, whispering to the disciple to follow through with identifying Jesus to the mob when they come for Him in the Garden of Gethsemane.note 
  • Mistaken for Servant: Happens to the kids quite a few times, such as in "Naaman and the Servant Girl" and "For Such a Time as This." On the positive side, it allows them to stay beneath notice, meet certain crucial characters, and get information in circumstances where they might not normally have been able to otherwise.
  • Mythology Gag: In Dr. Quantum's lab, there's a picture of a robot on the far wall, with the robot in the picture closely resembling Gizmo's design from the original Superbook series.
  • Naked on Arrival: Adam and Eve in "In The Beginning," prior to sin's entry in Eden; for the viewer, Adam's crotch is hidden by convenient objects and Eve's got Godiva Hair. The kids are actually quite thrown when they first meet the couple, with Gizmo's visual sensors digitally putting clothes on them while Chris and Joy pointedly avert their gazes from the couple's private areas.
    Gizmo: Psst—why aren't they wearing clothes?
    Joy: I don't know, just deal with it.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Extreme skateboarder Pearce leads a team called the Skateboard Maniacs, and during their debut in "Noah and the Ark," their aim is to enter and win the upcoming Insane Games. The trope is lampshaded by Gizmo while he's urging Chris not to join up with them:
    Gizmo: Why do the words "maniac" and "insane" not worry you? Can't you see that this Pearce person is violent?
  • Noodle Implements: In "Let My People Go," Gizmo wants to perform what he calls the best card-trick ever, which includes the use of 15 decks of cards, 30 pounds of feathers, and an ostrich egg. Then, when Joy points out that they don't have any of those things, Gizmo decides he'll perform the "second-best" card-trick—but it requires over-sized bananas and moon-rocks, which they also don't have. Those must be some pretty spectacular card-tricks to require such unusual things.
  • Oh, Crap!: There are a lot of instances of this across the series, including in situations where the Bible characters' reactions to certain events weren't really focused on or emphasized in the original text. Specific to said Bible characters, some examples include: Lucifer's reaction when Michael gets a Heroic Second Wind while they're fighting during the rebellion in Heaven, Haman's increasingly-fearful look when Esther reveals during her banquet for Xerxes that she knows about the plot to murder the Jews (and that's before she outs Haman as the mastermind of said plot), Eliab's confidence immediately bolting when he sees Goliath for the first time, the realization among the servants at the wedding of Cana that the wine has run out, the terror and subsequent flight among Nebuchadnezzar's astrologers when he orders them to be killed for failing to tell him his dream and its meaning...
  • Our Angels Are Different: This being a Bible-themed series, angels are depicted as the Winged Humanoid variety; some, like Michael and Lucifer (before the latter becomes Satan), are shown to wear armor and carry flaming swords. In "In The Beginning," during the war in Heaven, angels are shown as vanishing into streams of light when cut down by Lucifer's sword, though it's left vague whether they actually perish or not.
  • Parental Favoritism: Those familiar with the story of Jacob and Esau will know that Jacob was doted on by their mother Rebekah, while Esau was dearly beloved by their father Isaac. In this series, the episode "Jacob and Esau" shows Jacob being visibly troubled by Isaac dismissing his attempts to win the older man's favor (in one scene, when Jacob offers to join Esau in hunting game, Isaac declares that Jacob's better suited for easy tent-living), while Esau openly declares his younger twin to be a Mama's Boy.
  • Quantity vs. Quality: In the first half of "Jesus Feeds the Hungry," where Jesus turns water into wine at the wedding of Cana, Gizmo manages to do a mix-and-mash of the two halves of this trope in relation to the food being served—through his precise sharing of smaller portions in each plate (which the wedding's steward hopes the guests won't notice), he estimates that there'll consequently be more food to serve for everyone over the remaining days of the wedding feast. The steward, for his part, is impressed with Gizmo's precision and ability to provide more potential meal servings for everyone while stretching the resources to fit the projected time for the feast's conclusion.
    Gizmo: According to my calculations, we will not run out of food for another two days, and by then the wedding will be over!
    Steward: I see a bright future for you in the wedding business around Galilee.
  • Reality Ensues: It comes up now and then across different episodes, mostly in regard to the modern-day plots. Just for a few examples:
    • "A Giant Adventure": As Chris finds out to his dismay, no matter how skilled you are as a musician, it means jack-all if you suffer stage fright in front of your audience.
    • "John the Baptist": Chris's video-gaming partner reveals that he's illegally downloaded the latest games before they're available for sale to the general public. While Chris contemplates playing the games with his friend, Joy sternly informs him that, even if he didn't download them himself, using them in this way still counts as stealing. This leads into another dose of reality at the end of the episode, as while Chris does the right thing and tells his buddy that what he did was wrong, unlike previous instances of talk-therapy working with other characters, in this case it doesn't—the other boy is still determined to keep the pirated games. Basically, just because you've had a moral epiphany doesn't mean other wrongdoers will join you in making the same choice.
    • "David and Saul": Two bullies assault Chris at the subway station, rob him of his guitar and then break it in front of him. Following the requisite Superbook adventure, he decides to forgive the two instead of taking revenge like he'd initially intended...but they themselves aren't at all sorry for what they've done. After all, just because you choose to forgive someone who's wronged you, that doesn't mean they'll automatically have an attack of conscience. And on a different note, they don't get away with their crimes either—the subway station's security cameras caught their antics, and the cops show up to arrest them.
    • "King Solomon": When the two women claiming to be the mother of a baby come for Solomon to rule on which of them is telling the truth, Gizmo suggests that a simple DNA analysis will determine which of the women is the true mother. So he covertly gets hair samples from each woman and a spit sample from the baby, and then tells Chris and Joy that all he needs to do send the items to a lab...with results in six to eight weeks. Yes, the approximate least amount of time that crime-scene lab work actually takes in real life, as opposed to what we usually see in the hour-long procedural that is CSI. The kids are not amused. (Mind you, though, if Gizmo could have conducted an instant forensic test right there and then, the Bible's account of the Judgment of Solomon couldn't take place.)
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: A downplayed but still unnerving example in "David and Saul." While David is playing his music in an attempt to soothe Saul's troubled spirit, Saul hears the celebration of the crowd outside (the Israelites have just come back from a successful battle) and keeps hearing the "Saul has slain his thousands, David his ten thousands" refrain. The longer he listens, the more his eyes narrow, until they're almost totally bloodshot right before he gets up and throws his spear at David (who fortunately manages to dodge in time).
  • School Uniforms Are the New Black: Chris and Joy wear school uniforms as their regular outfits in several episodes (though they do wear casual outfits in other instances), and it's often justified as Superbook will start a given episode's adventure while they're at school, on the way to school, or have just come back from school.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: "For Such a Time as This" has Joy struggling with whether to stand up to her Girls' Leadership club president after the latter rejects her suggestion to include a wheelchair-bound girl for consideration as a new member. During the inevitable Superbook trip, she meets Queen Esther, who likewise has to face the prospect of violating the Persian law that says nobody, including herself, can approach King Xerxes without being summoned first, even though doing so is necessary to save the Jews from Haman's murderous plot. Of course, Esther takes the risk, and Joy is in turn inspired to speak against the club president's declaration even if it means she'll be booted from the club.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • In "Noah and the Ark," after Superbook drops them in the middle of a violent and chaotic town, one encounter with a particularly homicidal man has Gizmo deciding to—literally—head for the hills.
    Gizmo: I'd like to stay and protect you guys, but...!
    Joy: (she and Chris follow) Giz, do you know where you're going?
    Gizmo: Anywhere but heeeeere!
    • The chief of the astrologers in "Nebuchadnezzar's Dream" pulls this after he and the other wise men flee the throne-room when Nebuchadnezzar orders all of them to be killed because they can't tell him his dream or its meaning. When the kids see him a short while later while he's hiding from the guards, he throws aside his astrology robe and mutters, "What the king is asking is impossible!" before fleeing the palace through a side-door.
  • Secret Keeper: Jia Wei agrees to be this after experiencing a Superbook trip with the protagonists.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: While it's never discussed in-universe, some episodes drop a few light hints suggesting that Jesus Himself knows about the kids' time-travelling but simply doesn't say anything.
  • Shapeshifting: Whenever he appears as an episode's antagonist, Satan consistently demonstrates this ability. The first example, of course, is when he turns into the serpent in the Garden of Eden, but he can also turn into Super Smoke and assume a human form. He can even assume his angelic form of Lucifer from before he was banished from Heaven, in accordance with the Bible passage that says he can appear as an angel of light.note  And in "Revelation," he transforms into a gigantic cobra to attack the kids.
  • Ship Tease: While Chris and Joy have never outright expressed any romantic interest in each other (and it's not that kind of series anyway), there are still a few brief moments across different episodes that suggest, at the very least, a special sort of affection. On more than one occasion, Chris has yanked Joy out of the way of oncoming danger without being prompted to do so; "In The Beginning" provides only the series' first example of this, where the danger in question is Lucifer being thrown their way by Michael. There's also "Peter's Denial," where Joy rather strongly urges Gizmo to act quickly to save Chris after he falls off a boat and is in danger of drowning, despite Gizmo pointing out how Chris treated her rather callously by pretending not to know her earlier in the episode (and Joy was exceptionally upset during that previous event, more so than she normally gets at Chris's selfish antics). But the two likely strongest moments of this trope are in the episodes "The Fiery Furnace," where Chris pulls Joy into a protective embrace as they turn away from watching Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being thrown into the titular furnace, and "The Birth of John the Baptist," where in response to John's mother Anna saying that at age 12 Joy would be arranged for betrothal into marriage by her father, Chris snarks that while she's his best friend, he promised his mother he'd finish middle school before tying the knot (notably, Joy doesn't look particularly perturbed or try to dispute the comment).
  • Shout-Out:
    • In "Let My People Go," and "The Ten Commandments," Moses wears a red robe not unlike the one worn by Charlton Heston when he played the same character in The Ten Commandments.
    • In "Roar!", Chris and Gizmo stage a mock sword-fight with sticks to distract Darius's guards so Joy can slip in to warn the king about the plot to kill Daniel. During the "fight," the boys reference a certain famous confrontation, complete with a variation of the equally-famous Imperial March theme playing in the background; but since the reference won't be born for hundreds more years, the guards are naturally befuddled.
    Chris: I'll never join you! You killed my father!
    Gizmo: (in Darth Vader-esque voice) No! I am your father!
    Guard: (confused) What? He's too young to be his father!
  • Shown Their Work: One of this series' main draws is its adherence to historical accuracy. For example, as outlined in this video, the episode "Roar!" has a brief visual shot of Babylon, which includes the famous Ishtar Gate.
  • Skyward Scream: Job does this in "Job," along with tearing his clothes, upon getting the news that his sons and daughters have been killed by their house falling in on them. David does it in "David and Saul," after getting the news of Saul's death. And Elisha pulls this in "Elisha and the Syrians," combined with crying Elijah's name when the latter is whisked up by Heaven's fiery chariot.
  • Strictly Formula: Each episode follows more or less the same pattern—one of the kids (usually Chris) experiences a moral conflict, then Superbook pulls the kids into a Bible adventure whose plot corresponds to the conflict in question, the kids interact with the Bible characters and learn a valuable lesson, then Superbook takes them back to the modern world where the lesson is then applied to try and resolve the initial conflict. The modern-era conflicts do tend to vary, however.
  • Turn the Other Cheek: In "David and Saul," when two bullies assault Chris at the subway station, steal his guitar, and then smash the guitar in front of him for spite, Chris naturally wants to take revenge on them (even ordering Gizmo to hack into the subway car the bullies are in so as to facilitate that vengeance)...but then Superbook takes the kids to meet David, who's on the run from Saul after the king has tried to have him killed. David later pulls this trope on Saul despite having a clear opportunity and the urging from his men to kill Saul; witnessing this, Chris decides that he'll do likewise to the bullies instead of taking revenge, as that's "someone else's job." That "someone else" proves to be the cops, who have footage of the bullies' criminal behavior from the station's security cameras and have come to arrest them.
  • The Un-Reveal: Just what is Superbook's origin? When was it created, and by whom? How did Chris, Joy and Gizmo first come in contact with it? The series never seeks to answer these questions, although "Revelation" at least hints that Superbook has divine influence behind it; after Joy explains to John the Revelator about Superbook's time-travel schtick, John suggests that its methods of transporting the kids back in time to learn important lessons is similar to how the Spirit of God brought him into his vision on the Isle of Patmos, while in a separate scene, Satan (disguised in his angelic form as Lucifer) visibly bristles when Chris mentions Superbook by name.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: None of the Bible characters ever seems to question the obviously anachronistic clothes Chris and Joy wear, or Gizmo's obviously inhuman appearance. Regarding the latter, the closest that the series gets is when shepherd boy David assumes Gizmo's wearing armor, while Moses—who's just seen Gizmo use a built-in vacuum cleaner to collect manna—only wonders aloud which of Israel's tribes Gizmo belongs to.
  • Useless Protagonist: Downplayed with the kids and Gizmo, as while they don't do anything to impact the larger plots of each episode and are mainly witnesses and commentators, they do take part in smaller ways or behind the scenes so that their presence in the Bible stories won't deviate too obviously from the original script. As well, any time they do try to prevent certain events from taking place, they're hindered by outside circumstances.
  • Values Dissonance: An in-universe example happens in "Samuel and the Call of God." When the kids meet Samuel during his childhood years serving in the temple, he offers to have Chris and Gizmo serve with him under High Priest Eli, but he sheepishly tells Joy she can't come, since women aren't allowed to serve in the temple like men are (and indeed, nowhere in the Bible does it say women were allowed to participate in the priestly temple services). While this wouldn't have raised any eyebrows back in Bible times, Joy, coming from a time period where Women's Liberation has long since been a thing, is not at all pleased.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: In "The Prodigal Son," during the portion of Jesus's parable where the prodigal is wasting his money on riotous living, we see him having gotten so drunk from the contents of a wine-skin that he can't even properly pour it into his mouth...then we see him puking off to one side of the street, with his back mercifully to the camera. Then when a prostitute pulls him up, his face is somehow clean and vomit-free as he tries to reach in for a kiss, but she slaps him and walks off in disgust (though that has less to do with the vomiting and more to do with the fact that the prodigal's money has run out by that point).
  • We Can Rule Together: During his assault on Heaven in "In The Beginning," Lucifer makes this offer to Michael. Naturally, Michael isn't having any of it.
    Lucifer: Come, Michael, serve me and share in my triumph! Or taste eternal defeat.
    Michael: I do not fear you, Lucifer, for I serve the Lord!
    Lucifer: Pity.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Chris gets this quite a bit across the series—from Joy, from his mother Phoebe, from Jesus Himself—for his acts of selfishness, his overly entitled attitude, and his reckless behavior in general. One of the more heartbreaking ones comes from Joy in "Peter's Denial," while she's in the middle of a Heroic BSoD over Chris having just casually pretended not to know her, his best friend of several years, just so he can hang out with some cool kids.
    Joy: could you do that?
    Chris: Joy, those guys don't think the chess club is very cool, and you know how much I wanna—
    Joy: And that makes it okay to pretend you don't (voice cracks) know me?
    Chris: know I'm your friend.
    Joy: I thought I knew.
  • With Friends Like These...: Gizmo says this almost word-for-word in "Job," in reference to Job's friends when they accuse him of being punished by God for committing some sin.
    Joy: It was sure nice of Job's friends to come and see him.
    Gizmo: Yes, but with friends like that, who needs enemies?
  • Women Are Wiser: Joy certainly tends to display more common sense than both Chris and Gizmo, although she does have her own moments of human weakness. Chris's mother is also more level-headed than Dr. Quantum.
  • The X of Y: The Season Three episodes "The Birth of John the Baptist" and "Samuel and the Call of God," and Season Five's "Birth of Moses."
  • Yellow Sash of Power: Jia Wei, a schoolmate of Chris and Joy, is the resident hall monitor. He frequently enforces the school rules and keeps a pinpoint-accurate note of every student's infractions; his record on the two protagonists when they're late for school in one episode shows that it's Joy's first infraction, so she gets off with just a warning, but Chris gets put at risk for detention since it's his third time being late. However, the trope is deconstructed in that Jia Wei's insistence on following the rules so stringently has made him so unpopular with the other students that none of them will even eat lunch with him, and his knowledge of his pariah status bothers him immensely. At the same time, Chris—who initially resents Jia Wei's authority—comes to acknowledge that the guy's just doing his appointed job of maintaining order and doing it well, and that he himself can choose to be friendly to Jia Wei instead of ostracizing him.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: In "Naaman and the Servant Girl," after initially mistaking Naaman for a zombie due to his leprosy, Gizmo starts hypothesizing that if one of these was to take place, the zombies would mistake Naaman for one of them and be drawn to him in hordes. Chris and Joy proceed to Troll him over it, with Joy using the light from the campfire to scarily illuminate her face.
    Joy: Braaaaains...
    Gizmo: ZOMBIE!!!
    Chris: (casually) Hey, Joy.
    Joy: Early zombie warning system?
    Chris: Eh, teachable moment.

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