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Western Animation / The Life and Times of Juniper Lee

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You can't stop the girl!note 
The Life and Times of Juniper Lee is a Cartoon Network original series created by cartoonist Judd Winick, an alumnus of The Real World. It ran for forty episodes from 2005 to 2007, over the course of three seasons.

The series follows the titular Juniper "June" Lee, your average 11-year-old Chinese-American youngster who lives in Orchid Bay City, dealing with the usual problems of an annoying younger brother, crushes, and protecting the balance between the realms of humans and magic. Oh, right, June also happens to be heir to the secret family title of "Te Xuan Ze". This not only grants her the ability to see the members of a society of monsters living invisibly among humans, as well as super-strength and agility, but also the responsibility of keeping the peace among said monsters and maintaining the Masquerade when necessary. Fortunately, she has the help of her kindly grandmother (the former Te Xuan Ze), a snarky talking pug named Monroe, and her plucky kid brother Ray-Ray.

Strangely enough, a similar premise of an urban Chinese-American youth as The Chosen One protector of a hidden world of magic with a talking dog sidekick existed in the concurrently-running Disney Channel show American Dragon: Jake Long.

The show has the distinction of being the first Cartoon Network original show produced in widescreen.

Provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Monroe's father William, especially during the Easter episode.
  • Action Girl: Both June and Ah-Mah.
  • Actor Allusion: June nicknames the leader of H.A.M "Lex Luthor" for his similarities to him. His voice actor also happens to be Clancy Brown, who voiced Lex Luthor in the 90's Superman cartoon.
  • Adults Are Useless: Mostly...
  • Affably Evil: WAY more frequent than you can imagine.
  • All Asians Know Martial Arts: In "Little Big Mah," Ah-Mah is de-aged to eleven and has to temporarily masquerade as a new student at June's school. While introducing herself to the class, a (white) student asks Jasmine if she knows karate. Jasmine understandably gets upset and almost mentions this trope by name.
  • All Part of the Show: In It Takes A Pillage June, Ray Ray and Monroe hijack a tour boat to chase after their viking- possessed friends. June manages to convince the tourist that the chase, bombardment, and sinking of their ship is all part of a history tour.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Dennis. He gets better, though.
  • Alpha Bitch: Melissa O'Malley, the school diva.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Ray-Ray, and how.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    June: All right! I have fought a small army of hillbilly demons, punched my way through 200 feet of concrete, and I lost my favorite pair of earrings!
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: This happens quite frequently on the show.
  • Badass Creed: The Te Xuan Ze have one in the form of an Oath and a Heroic Vow, which Jasmine recites as a passphrase to get to the hiding spot of the Sword of the Elders and Juniper Lee recites to restore the Veil on Orchid Bay.
    Jasmine: I am but a hand. I am but a vessel. I am but a stone that balances the worlds.
  • Badass Adorable: Juniper, for certain. Lila also easily qualifies. Even little Ray Ray counts, too.
  • Batman Cold Open: Some of the early episodes.
  • Between My Legs: In episode 1.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: Lila is a smart, young girl sasquatch. By contrast, adult male sasquatches are incredibly dim (if harmless).
  • Bilingual Bonus: Auntie Roon's flying fish and Ophelia in There's No Mitzvah Like Snow Mitzvah
  • Blessed with Suck: As the Te Xuan Ze, June is able to do a lot of inhuman feats due to being infused with magical energy, can see all sort of supernatural creatures, and travel to other dimensions. However, the drawback is the fact that she's physically unable to leave her hometown, as the city is the epicenter of magic and there is an invisible barrier placed all over the outskirts of Orchid Bay City that cages her in, which saddens her a lot as that effectively prevents her from ever becoming an astronaut until she grows up, start her own family, and hopefully get a child to pass the torch, though that would still doom her child to the same fate. Her grandmother then reveals the whole reason she takes a lot of trips in the first place is so that she can find an answer to help June out.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Thor's Valkyries the Hammerettes.
  • Breath Weapon: Racatan (the very first monster that Juniper faces in the show) has the ability to breathe fire when in its giant form.
  • Brick Joke: In the Cold Open of "Not in My Backyard", Ray Ray lets loose some monkeys, who then free an over-sized chicken. This is then forgotten about until near the end of the episode, when June and Ray Ray fly on said chicken en route to defeating the episode's Big Bad.
  • Captain Fishman: "Sealed With A Fist" features the superhero team H.A.T.E. (Heroes Against Terrible Evildoers). Being a parody of well-known superheroes, they have their own Aquaman allusion named Fishmonger, whose uselessness on land is an obvious reference to Aquaman's reputation as the most useless superhero in the Justice League.
  • Captivity Harmonica: Played by the koala in "The Great Escape". The zookeeper tells him to stop.
  • Chain of Deals: "It's the Great Pumpkin, Juniper Lee". It eventually culminates in her having to win a wrestling match.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Comic stories based on this show were featured in the earlier issues of Cartoon Network Action Pack.
  • Compulsory School Age: Happens to Jasmine, who experiences Fountain of Youth syndrome for one episode.
  • Contagious Powers: The main reason Ray Ray can see monsters. During an attack by some monsters just as June was coming into her powers, they try to suck it out of her. However, Ray Ray interrupted the transfer and some of June's power got implanted in him.
  • Cut Short: The final episode ends with Juniper on her way to stop some monsters, happily jumping superhumanly high in the process, unaware that Jody is watching her. The series ends before this can be resolved.
    • What's more, Jody is carrying a book on how to spot magical creatures.
  • Cute Bruiser: Both Juniper and Lila easily qualify as this.
  • Dark Horse Victory: In "Citizen June", June runs for class president against incumbent Melissa O'Malley. When June's hero duties prevent her from being able to give a speech, her friend Ophelia manages to save the occasion by giving a speech about how horrible Melissa is. This wins over so many people that Ophelia ends up winning the election for class president via write-in votes, despite not running. She, along with everyone else, is shocked by this.
  • Education Mama: June's parents occasionally show shades of this.
  • Emergency Transformation: Ray Ray in one episode when he permanently transforms his original body into a T-Rex. June and Monroe have to make a golem body and transfer his soul into it.
  • Evil Is Easy: Played straight in the episode "Out of the Past" where Juniper grows tired of the constant combat practice her grandmother has her conduct and opts to just use dark magical artifacts for combat. Her grandmother chides her for this, stating as the Te Xuan Ze she must not choose Dark Magic since it is the easy road and also fraught with corruptive dangers, something her evil predecessor Kai Yee chose otherwise. Kai Yee himself later appears and tempts her with path again, echoing her previous question of why she fights so hard when she could just win everything she wants through magic.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: In O Brother, What Art Thou?, a giant is revealed to be much smaller than what would be usually expected of giants. June, Ray Ray, and Monroe constantly poke fun at this at the giant's expense.
  • Expository Theme Tune: "In a World… full of monsters and demons / June is the only one who sees them..."
  • Extreme Omnivore: In "Not in My Backyard", June has to watch a harmless-looking creature called a Batoot. Turns out it's also a bottomless pit.
  • The Fat Episode: Monroe fattens up in "Magic Takes a Holiday". He tries burning off the extra poundage during the credits.
  • Fish People: The Aqualandians from "Water We Fighting For?"
  • Forced Transformation: "The Great Escape", when Juniper is turned into a lemur and imprisoned in a zoo with other transformed magical beings.
  • Funny Background Event: Many background references to the creator:
    • In the second episode, one of the gravestones in the cemetery reads "J. Winick".
    • In "Enter Sandman", each door leading into a person's dreams has that person's name on it. One unentered door is labelled "Judd".
  • Game Show Appearance: In "New Trickster in Town", the god Loki puts June on a show called Let's Save Humanity. Round 1 has a Calvinball-esque question of "Banana" with an answer of "Richard Nixon"; Round 2 offers her "Multiple choice" or "Molten pit of eternal torment". She picks "Multiple choice", which leads to a Let's Make a Deal-alike. Door #1 has a box full of Wicked Weasels; Door #2, a lifetime supply of deviled ham; and Door #3, a werewolf-like creature. It's then interrupted when Ray Ray has a moment of competence.
  • Gonna Need More X: In "Welcome Bat Otter", the fear of bat otters made some magical creatures hide inside a cave. Seeing the size of some of the magical creatures seeking shelter made June believe a bigger cave would be needed.
  • Goth: Ophelia.
  • Grand Finale: The final episode Every Witch Way But Loose has the overall feel of wrapping up the series, but the final shot features Jody discovering June's powers after watching her leap from rooftop to rooftop. It seems the writers were uncertain if the show would continue and thus crafted the Season 3 finale to work as a serviceable finale, while also including the final scene as a way of setting up a potential fourth season.
  • Guarding the Portal: June is guardian of Orchid Bay's nexus of the world of magic, The Magical Veil and power of the elders.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: June frequently.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Ray Ray occasionally.
  • I Was Quite the Looker: "Ding Dong the Witch ain't dead" opens up on the prologue where Roon was once a striking-looking witch in her prime, hundreds of years ago. In the present day? ...She didn't age well.
    • In "Little Big Mah", an age reversal shows that half a lifetime ago, Ah Mah was rather lovely in her adulthood.
  • Interspecies Romance: Ray Ray has a crush on Lila.
  • Invisible to Normals: With VERY VERY few exceptions like the Bombat and Monroe, all magical creatures can only be seen by a Te Xuan Ze or someone with the proper magical artifacts. (But not the sasquatches, as they are not technically magical.)
  • It's All About Me: In "There's No Mitzvah Like Snow Mitzvah", Jody says that her sister, Rachel, acts like every day is all about her. This quote should speak for itself.
    Jody: It's not like every day isn't about Rachel!
  • Jerkass: Dennis sometimes, but he gradually grows out of this as the series progresses.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: In "A Helping H.A.M.", when it's revealed Monroe wasn't actually going to help the Leader of H.A.M., he mocks how the Leader's backstory boils down to a pathetic fanboy having sour grapes syndrome. Although it comes off as snide, he's certainly not wrong in that the Leader has wasted away his life trying to destroy magic instead of moving on. As it's revealed, when the Leader is trying to get a job in the hiring agency, his talk of hunting down and destroying magic doesn't exactly fly as a resume.
  • Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: During their younger sister's birthday, Ahma's sisters look on as she seemingly greets imaginary friends (really her own magical friends, who are Invisible to Normals) and pity that her mind is going. For a moment, they credit that at least she's still prettier than them. ...before they rescind their statement with a Wayne's-World-esque "NOT!" (It's implied that they pick on Ahma because of jealousy.
  • Left Hanging: See Cut Short, not that the last episode doesn't feel like a finale and it was obvious the writers left that in there in case they got another season.
  • Knight Templar: A secret government Men In Black organization known as H.A.M. (Humans Against Monsters) is out to get all monsters, bad or otherwise.
  • Lighter and Softer: Two episodes were adapted from the more adult Barry Ween.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Lampshaded.
    Ray-Ray: (when Ashley compliments his shirt) Dude, I am never taking this off!
    Monroe: I hate to break this to you, lad, but you never do. You're like Charlie Brown.
  • Mark of the Supernatural: The red-pink streak running down June's otherwise raven hair, which is actually a skunk stripe that she dyes. Justified in-universe as the physical mark of her powers as a Te Xuan Ze — Ah-Mah also has a streak through her hair like June, which was originally purple before it turned white in her old age as her hair started graying.
  • Masquerade: As mentioned above under Invisible to Normals, magical creatures are normally invisible to anyone not the Te Xuan Ze.
  • Meaningful Echo: "Out of the Past" starts with Juniper debating with Ahma that she wants to use dark magical artifacts to win her battles more easily. She asks "Why fight when we can just... win?" Ahma can only offer cryptic and mysterious advice about how the Te Xuan Ze is to never cut corners or take the easy way as it is the path of corruption. Midway through the episode, she learns that the reason Ahma is strongly against cutting corners is because this sort of thinking is what lead Kai taking the path of trying to destroy the Elders. So when Kai offers "Why fight when we can just win?" Juniper has a definite answer:
  • Mineral MacGuffin: The three Touchstones featured in the finale episode are this.
  • Missed the Call: Juniper's dad was originally supposed to be the next Te Xuan Ze, but it skipped and passed on to her instead.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: One episode centers around a bat-otter.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: The episode "Meet The Parent" has a giant, stone-eating monster terrorizing the town looking for its baby, which, due to June getting sprayed with said baby's scent, it thinks is June.
  • '90s Anti-Hero: Two episodes have one as a Refugee from TV Land, named "Boomfist". He spouts off bad morals, but is not really that bad at the whole hero thing.
  • Noodle Incident: A leprechaun in the first episode mentions that his uncle played for The Boston Celtics. Considering that magical creatures are Invisible to Normals, that must have been quite a spectacle for basketball fans.
  • One-Steve Limit: Subverted. There are two characters named "Michael". One of them is the protagonist's father, and the other is a monster film-maker. There's no episode featuring both Michaels.
  • Only Sane Woman: Lila among the sasquatches.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: One of the more prominent examples. Just in the first episode, leprechauns are shown to be really tall and speak more like stereotypical hippies as opposed to having an Irish accent.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Roger.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Stewart Copeland of The Police wrote the theme song.
  • Reluctant Hero: June displayed this trait right from the first episode, and seeing as she's the youngest Te Xuan Ze in history, you can't exactly blame her.
  • Right Behind Me:
    June: I mean, there is no question that Marcus is a ninth-degree babe with the great hair... and the cute smile... but that doesn't change the fact that he's standing right behind me, right?
  • Rise of Zitboy: In one episode, June gets a pimple the day class photos are taken, so she tries to cover it up. Later on, Ray Ray uses it to successfully identify her in a Spot the Imposter situation, much to her dismay.
  • Rock Trio: The band formed by June (guitar), Dennis (bass), and Ray Ray (drums), aka Short Angry Freuds.
  • Rouges Gallery: Though the show usually employed a Monster of the Week format, there were a few that appeared at least twice, including Auntie Roon, The Sandman (aka Steven), H.A.M, Korgoth's unnamed demoness daughter, Skeeter Khomen-Getit and Loki.
  • School Play: Played with in "Magic Takes a Holiday", in which June goes to Drama Camp and is cast as Jack in a Rock Opera adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk directed by Ophelia.
    • The Sandman tries to trap June in her worst nightmare: being in a school production of The Wizardof Oz... and she forgot her lines! It doesn't work because June knows she's asleep already, which June lampshades.
  • Shoe Size Angst: Although never a true inconvenience, Lila's giant feet don't allow her to wear anything that's not open-toed. This makes sense, since she's actually a sasquatch.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The puzzle chimes from Wheel of Fortune are used in a mock game show in "New Trickster in Town".
    • When bidding farewell to the Batoot at the end of "Not in My Backyard", Ray Ray says, "Be good."
    • While she is grounded, Juniper watches a show on TV and shouts, "Go get 'em, Bubbles!!"
  • The Snark Knight: Ophelia, oh so very much.
  • Squashed Flat: Just once in the Halloween special.
  • Supernatural Hotspot Town: Orchid Bay City is a nexus of magic, where various supernatural creatures secretly live alongside humans (humans are unable to see these creatures). Because of its concentration of magic, evil monsters are naturally drawn to the city. Juniper is the Te Xuan Ze, a supernaturally powerful warrior tasked with protecting Orchid Bay City from evil and maintaining balance between its human and non-human inhabitants. Juniper eventually learns that there is a magical barrier called the Veil surrounding Orchid Bay City that wards off evil magic, makes supernatural things invisible to humans, and prevents the current Te Xuan Ze from ever leaving.
  • Talking Animal: Monroe and his father William.
  • Tempting Fate: In "Not in My Backyard", June starts yelling at the Batoot after it eats every item in the basement. Monroe warns her not to upset him, because doing so will bring more bad luck. She, of course, asks how much worse it can get.
    • The episode with the Tarabok weed problem also had her Tempting Fate and Monroe cautioning her against that. Cue problems left and right.
  • The Un-Favourite: Loki is revealed to be this to Thor in "New Trickster in Town".
  • Valley Girl: Ophelia would occasionally slip into valley girl mode when excited over a girly interest, such as boy bands.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes: H.A.M (Humans Against Magic), an organization dedicated to wiping out all monsters and anything magic-related. This includes humans that help them, i.e: Juniper and Ah-Mah.
  • Voices Are Mental: Referenced in "I've Got You under My Skin" where June has to magically change the voices of Ray Ray and Monroe when they are disguised as her and Ray Ray, respectively.
  • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: Occurs to a news anchor in "New Trickster in Town".
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Ray Ray's soul now occupies a replica of his original body, after he became a huge monster and could not be turned back.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Orchid Bay City, naturally. Strangely enough, this affects June herself, as stated below.
  • Wham Episode: "Dog Show Afternoon" becomes this at the end, where it's revealed that the Te Xuan Ze is physically incapable of ever leaving Orchid Bay until they have a descendant who can take their place. Poor June looks so heartbroken when Ah-Mah tells her the bad news.
  • Whatever Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Whatever happened to those clones of June's friends? We see Ophelia's clone shopping at the same music store as the original, but what about the others?
    • Also, the turtle in "Little Big Mah" that was used to defeat the villain. The energy-syphoning Darnock demon sucked up all those turtle years, but where did the turtle itself go? Not to mention, it wasn't even a random turtle, but one that Ray Ray was loaning from a friend during the episode. It and the demon are never mentioned again, but by the looks of it seem to be one entity now, but it is left unclear.
  • Witch with a Capital "B": June feels this way about Ashley after she turns into a Pretty Freeloader who her friends liked to hang out with more than her.
    June: If she drools on my pillow, she's gonna be one dead Witch.
  • World of Snark: June and Monroe are the two biggest, but just about everyone gets their turn, including Jasmine, Ray Ray and even June's cheery friend Jody.
  • Writer on Board: Not as blatant as some of Winick's other works, but still obvious.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are:
    • "I get by with a little Help from my Elf" ends with a heart-to-heart between Juniper and Ah-Mah concerning the shenanigans that resulted from the episode. When June admits she fell for the "Helper" Elf's scam because of how overwhelmed she'd been feeling lately, Ah-Mah voices she doesn't need a so-called "helper elf" to get by. She has her grandmother, Monroe and even Ray-Ray. This brings comfort to June that if she has people in her corner, juggling her normal life with her duties as the Te Xuan Ze doesn't necessarily have to be a struggle.
    • "Adventures in Babysitting" explores how Ray-Ray came to share June's powers, despite not being the Te Xuan Ze. It's Ah-Mah who puts forth her theory on why Ray-Ray doesn't have powers like his sister: she thinks he doesn't have powers yet.
  • You Can See Me?: A variation of it in "Adventures in Babysitting":
    Juniper: You can talk!?
    Monroe: You can hear me???
    Juniper: (After an exposition talk by Monroe) Are you Scottish?
  • You Fight Like a Cow: On occasion.
  • You Just Ruined the Shot: "Star Quality" - June interrupts a fake monster nature reality show being filmed.


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