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Western Animation / The Legend of Calamity Jane

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The Legend of Calamity Jane was a 1997 cartoon on the Kids' WB!, made by the French animation studio Contre Allée that depicted the adventures of the historical Calamity Jane. The series was gritty in tone, and had an art style similar to that of Superman: The Animated Series, Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends, or fellow piece of French animated genius Night Hood.

This cartoon aired exactly three times before it was unexpectedly pulled off the air by Kids' WB!, though an entire season aired in other countries. No explanation has ever been given as to why the show was suddenly cancelled, but some have suspected that Moral Guardians got on the show's case for its gun violence, or perhaps that Kids WB themselves got cold feet over its subject matter.

For the next several decades the show was considered lost since it never received a rebroadcast or any home media release. In the 2010s fans uploaded copies of VHS recordings of the original broadcasts to YouTube, but two episodes remained missing until 2020. It wasn't until January 2023 that Discotek Media announced that they would release the series on Blu-ray later in the year, and it became available to stream on Tubi.

This show provides examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: Not too abnormal, but Joe keeps his shotgun regularly primed with rock salt instead of lead because he doesn't want to kill people.
  • Action Girl: Jane is the main character and primary hero in the adventures.
  • Agony of the Feet: When Jane gets cornered by the triplet bandits in episode "As Easy as One, Two, Three...", they force her to be chased barefoot, obviously into trying to invoke this trope.
  • Amazon Chaser: Jane gets quite a few admirers after she kicks some ass which she takes advantage of at times to get out of trouble.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Dakota, Jane's horse, has been trained to stomp on cue.
  • Art Shift: The Comanche "spirit walks."
  • Artistic License – History: The end of "Protege" reveals that the girl following Jane throughout the episode was a young Eleanor Roosevelt. Too bad the real Eleanor was born in 1884, a few years after the episode was set.
  • A-Team Firing: No matter how many shots are fired (and no matter how easy the shot is), the number of times someone is actually shot throughout the series can probably be counted on one hand, almost all in the last episode.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: Chaynah, chief of the Comanche, is well-read on US law in general and the treaty between his people and Washington in particular. When a government representative is sent to move them to a new territory, he is able to explain how there is no legal cause for the action.
  • Becoming the Mask: Liam Canary, Jane's father, spent so much time talking about his family during his exploring days that a Con Man acquaintance of his decides to do his best to live that life.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Jane has this with Captain John O'Rourke, to the point fighting at first sight is described how the two say hello by Joe in the first episode. After John tries to help as penance, Jane kisses him and leaves on friendlier terms.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: When Jane is working with a bow and arrow, she shoots the guns out of the hands of a pair of assailants (Launching two arrows at the same time) and later knocks the canon-lighting-torch out of the hands of another assailant.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Especially when Sergeant Quincy Jefferson Washington of the Fighting Ninth Buffalo Soldiers gets speared by one of the Blackfoot Indians with no blood to be seen.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Happens a lot, as Jane is captured by the enemy in almost every episode, but they always decide on a slow Death Trap death. One episode even had a criminal ask why they do not just shoot Jane after he and his brothers subdue her, but the brothers decide that would be too drab and try to implement a more elaborate death.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted. All characters (Hero and villain) are shown reloading their firearms, and the animation is accurately detailed.
  • Bowdlerization: Jane's past is both toned down from her historical counterpart (who was both a heavy drinker and a prostitute, among other things), but was still plenty unusual for the medium (young cabaret singer, though Sue says she was thankfully handled with "kid gloves").
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Joe is purely perplexed at Jane and Wild Bill Hickock calmly talking about playing cards when they are under seige by twenty outlaws to the point of calling them both flat out crazy.
  • The Cavalry: The US Cavalry provides a recurring cast of supporting characters, and the Ninth Buffalo Soldiers serve as The Cavalry in "The Way of the Buffalo."
  • Con Man: Liam Canary aka Donnie Shaw from "Like Father, Like Daughter". He pretended to be Jane's long lost father to keep her distracted while his possé tried to rob Deadwood's bank. Later he decided that, even if it was not the truth, he wanted it to be after being friends with Jane's actual father for so long.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Jane's father has been missing since her early childhood, and the implication from "Like Father, Like Daughter" is that her mother died soon after he disappeared.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Jane has a knife hidden in the handle of her whip, which she uses to cut herself free after she has been tied up with her own whip.
  • Daddy's Girl: Jane is this to her father despite him walking out on her and her mother at a young age, thanks to all the stories of heroism and valor her mother told to Jane about him before she died. Liam's criminal boss tries to use this to his advantage to deter Jane from interfering in his bank robber scheme by having Liam pretend to be her father.
  • Death Trap: The villains almost always decide on a slow, torturous death instead of just shooting Jane
  • Determinator: Even after being hit in the face with a door, backhanded off Dakota into train tracks, and locked in a burning barn after being knocked out by a shovel, Jane absolutely refuses to stay down.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: "I'd Rather Be In Philadelphia," where a group of Confederate soldiers still fighting the Civil War take a fair hostage as part of their plot to assassinate President Ulysses S. Grant.
  • Dodge the Bullet: Jane pulls off a Matrix move in "Like Father, Like Daughter".
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Episode 13. ALL OF IT! It's basically a PG-rated yet shockingly brutal version of a Rape and Revenge story.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: A group of Confederate soldiers still fighting the Civil War hijack a US Cavalry train to steal their uniforms to infiltrate a fair to assassinate President Grant.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: The criminal triplets known as Hugo (green coat), Harold (blue coat), and Conrad (red coat) of "Easy as One, Two, Three..." keep speaking of their mother and her sage advice. However, there is the (very slight) implication that one of the brothers named Hugo was the one who killed her.
  • Famed in Story: Jane herself as Martha Jane Canary.
  • Friendly Enemy: Sam Bass, a thief and hired gun, brought Jane a friendly glass of milk when he learned she was in the same saloon as he, and sat down with her at a table to give her all the information on the fugitive she was chasing, including the backgrounds on the gunmen with him, warning her of the danger she would be in if she still tried to capture him. At the end of their conversation, he explains that he is with the gang and again tries to get her to just leave the situation alone.
  • Gatling Good: One bad guy acquires a Gatling gun and assumes this makes him unstoppable. He is wrong, of course.
  • Gun Porn: The animation is extremely detailed when it comes to the operation of firearms. Rifles are levered after each shot, revolvers are loaded one round at a time while rotating the chamber, and shotguns are broken to remove spent shells.
  • The Gunslinger: Wild Bill Hickock, Real Life lawman, is a recurring character.
  • Historical Beauty Upgrade: The real Calamity Jane didn't really look as traditionally attractive as the gorgeous Amazon she is in this cartoon.
  • Honor Before Reason: Jane would rather die than let a bunch of thieves escape with stolen gold, but she would also rather save a friend's life than hold on to her principals.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Chena shot an arrow down the barrel of a rifle. Everybody who saw it was suitably amazed.
  • Improvised Weapon: When party-goers are held hostage by Southern troops and Jane is without her usual arsenal, she fashions a bow and arrows out of tree branches and makes a whip using her own dress. Joe, without his trusty shotgun, makes a small explosive and knocks out a soldier by pilfering a buffet table of an ear of corn and a banana.
  • It's All My Fault: In "The Final Curtain", Captain John O'Rourke reveals he witnessed the Abraham Lincoln assassination as a child and felt responsible because his older brother, who should've been guarding the President, chose to sit by him instead.
  • Indy Escape: At least two examples present in the series: One where Jane drives a train off of a slowly collapsing bridge, and one direct shout-out when Captain O'Rourke detonates a TNT charge at the entrance to a canyon, leaving Joe running down a runoff ditch from a large round chunk of debris.
  • Knows the Ropes: Jane uses a lasso in combat.
  • Last-Second Chance: Sam Bass, a thief and hired gun, and Jane are friends who would prefer not to have to fight one another. When Jane is chasing a fugitive wanted for bank robbery and murder, only to learn that Bass is now part of his gang, each tries to get the other to leave and not get involved. At the end of the episode, after Jane has managed to disable most of the gang, she tells Sam to give up and drop his gun since he is "not a killer." Bass, however, sees this as an opportunity to finally get a Big Score and leave his life of petty thievery behind, and keeps trying to load one more shell into his rifle right up until Jane knocks him out.
  • The Legend of X
  • Loony Fan: Jane's young hyperactive girl fan in "Protege" comes off as this as Jane tries to thoroughly deconstruct her starry-eyed perception of Jane's life and exploits as a Memetic Badass by showing how dangerous, horrible, and downright unpredictable such a life really is.
  • Matricide: The (very slight) implication in "Easy as One, Two, Three..." is that Hugo killed the mother of the triplets.
  • Mugged for Disguise: A US Cavalry train is hijacked by Confederate soldiers still fighting the Civil War who will use their uniforms to infiltrate a fair to assassinate President Grant.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Captain O'Rourke of the US Cavalry explains even his unconscionable orders of killing innocent Indians with "I have my orders." Chena of the Comanche says not to hold it against him, since if one does not stick to his principals (In O'Rourke's case, the principal of serving his country) then there is nothing left.
  • Near-Miss Groin Attack: In the first episode, a Comanche warrior threw a spear between Jane's legs.
  • Never Say "Die": Averted throughout the series. The threat of death and characters being killed or murdered is constantly brought up.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Episode 13. In the span of five minutes Jane had her hands tied, was repeatedly punched in the gut, smashed in the face, thrown into a crate, tossed through a wall and left to die in a desert where vultures tried to eat her. And still there wasn't a single drop of blood. No wonder she's so white.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Not too much, but Jane's completely chalk white skin really makes her stand out amongst almost every other character in the show (except for a French villain in episode 4), which are in turn designed and colored quite conventionally. Even more odd is the fact no one in the show seems to notice or call attention to it. Neither is ever explained if there is an actual reason for it in the show, unless in this world all gingers happen to be that pale.
  • One Last Job: Sam Bass joins up with Wooden Leg Gibson to rob a US Cavalry fort of heavy weapons and ammunition for the Big Score to be able to leave his life of petty thievery behind. Jane interrupts the theft and gives Bass the chance to walk away. He does not take that chance and gets beaten and jailed for his trouble.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: When Wild Bill Hickock is shot in the leg he dismisses it as a flesh wound, but the bloodloss soons makes it impossible for him to ride a horse, and he and Jane begin to talk about amputating the leg if it gets infected.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Jane rarely ever smiles. When she does, though, it's usually a sign that she's either gaining the upper hand or has just flat-out won...or has just simply got the last word with someone.
  • Red-Headed Hero: Jane is an obvious example.
  • The Remnant: A group of Confederate soldiers still fighting the Civil War plan to assassinate President Grant and re-start the conflict.
  • Sheathe Your Sword: When the US Cavalry comes to move the Comanche, whether the Comanche want to be moved or not, Chaynah has all the warriors arm themselves and prepare for battle, only to toss his bow and arrows on the ground before the cavalry captain. As he explains, the treaty between the Comanche and the US allows them to live on this land for as long as they keep the peace; by refusing to fight, the Comanche force the US government to break its own laws in order to relocate them.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Said almost verbatim. Especially by Captain O'Rourke who is awestruck by how beautiful Jane looked in a dress.
  • Shoot the Rope: Done in the first episode to rescue a man who is about to be lynched.
  • Spotting the Thread: Jane realizes that the troop of cavalry guarding a fair are imposters after she notices all the minor discrepencies, starting when the guard at the gate does not quite seem to understand just how to close the gate.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: When the triplets have captured Jane they are planning to run her down with horses and beat her to death, and Conrad asks why they do not just shoot her. Unfortunately for all of them, his brothers do not heed his advice and decide to play out Jane's death long enough for her to turn the tables on them.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Jane can't be considered unattractive by any stretch, and she is as tall and broad shouldered as almost any male in the show.
  • Taking The Spear: The Buffalo Soldiers in "The Way of the Buffalo".
  • Too Dumb to Live: "They always do it the hard way."
  • A Very Special Episode: "The Way of the Buffalo," offering commentary on sexism and racism.
  • Would Hit a Girl: No villain in this show has any qualms about beating, torturing, berating, abusing or ultimately killing Jane. Fortunately, she is perfectly able to give as much as she receives.
  • Young Future Famous People: One episode has Jane telling a young girl about her first kill. Said young girl is revealed in the end to be Eleanor Roosevelt.