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Western Animation / Tutenstein

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Tutenstein is an Emmy Award-winning animated television series, produced by Porchlight Entertainment (best known for Adventures from the Book of Virtues) for Discovery Kids. The series is based on the comic book character of the same name by Jay Stephens (The Secret Saturdays), who would serve as a creative consultant. The series ran for 39 episodes from November 1, 2003 to October 11, 2008, concluding with the television movie Clash of the Pharaohs.

The show follows the adventures of the child pharaoh Tutankhensetamun, based loosely on the real-life Tutankhamun, who is awoken three thousand years after his untimely death by a 12-year-old aspiring Egyptologist named Cleo Carter after she fixed some mistakes made to his exhibit by the museum curator. Together with Cleo's pet cat Luxor, who has been given the gift of speech and a position as Tut's servant/advisor, the trio spends their nights after the museum closes helping Tut (affectionally called Tutenstein) adjust to the modern world, solving the myriad of problems caused by Tut's inexperience as a pharaoh and inflated ego, and fighting back the threat of various Ancient Egyptian figures; the most dangerous being the Egyptian god Set, who seeks Tut's all-powerful Staff of Was, which would give him the might to rule the world.

In October 2022, it was announced that a reboot is in development.

This show contains examples of:

  • Aesop Amnesia: Most episodes involve Tut learning that he should treat his friends well and/or not use magic for selfish reasons. It never sticks.
  • A Mythology Is True: While Egyptian myths are portrayed as true, all other mythologies are treated as fictitious; a few of the Egyptian deities notably expressed no prior awareness of the Greco-Roman deities prior to stumbling onto their museum exhibit in "Spells and Sleepovers."
  • Ambiguously Brown: Natasha, Cleo's best friend might be of Asian descent given her olive skin and dark hair. There's evidence that she might be of mixed race, as in "There's Something About Natasha," we see that her mother is light skin and her father is tanned skin.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Luxor fits the bill, when you see the episode where he and Chloe have a Freaky Friday Moment.
    "Perhaps I could wear that powder blue mini with a matching nehru jacket. I think Jake would find me quite fetching in it!"
  • Black and Nerdy: Cleo, at least when it comes to Egyptology.
  • Blessed with Suck: Arguably, Luxor. The scepter's magic made him intelligent and able to speak, but also forced him to become Tut's Extreme Doormat Beleaguered Assistant. Luxor also counts as a Butt-Monkey and a Woobie.
  • Brain Food: Discussed early in the series, when Cleo and Luxor watch a mummy movie together. note 
    Cleo: Luxor, this movie is so cheesy it's great! What are you so scared about?
    Luxor: That mummy eats brains!
    Cleo: Luxor, get real! Tutenstein's a mummy, he doesn't eat brains!
    Luxor: So far.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Did you just trap Apep with a fishing net?
  • Disappeared Dad: Cleo's father. It's never clear exactly what happened to him.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: It's hard to blame the gods for being annoyed with Tutenstein, but threatening a ten-year-old child with eternal damnation for crimes like vandalizing a wall or cheating at a board game seems a little harsh. Cleo even points this out, mentioning that in spite of his position, he is just a kid.
  • Downer Ending: "The Comeback Kid". Not only does Tut turn back into a mummy, he will never get the chance to become flesh and blood again. Fridge Logic makes the whole series kind of a downer from then on.
  • Elvis Impersonator: The characters visited a convention of them in "The King of Memphis".
  • Eternal English: Tutenstein and the Egyptian gods all speak modern English, though Tut has Just a Stupid Accent.note  Presumably the Scepter of Was did it.
  • For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: In "Day of the Undead," Tut walks among mortals on Halloween, impressing trick-or-treaters with how much his costume looks and smells like a long-dead Egyptian mummy.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: The show did not delve into Apep's mythology at all, and characterized him as just a simple brute whose existence revolved entirely around fighting Ra. While Ra being defeated would cause time on Earth to freeze, it was not even vaguely implied that Apep cared about this, his one and only goal in life was simply to beat Ra.
  • Jerkass Gods: Most of the Egyptian Gods are shown to be as temperamental, arrogant, and dangerously and randomly vindictive as Tut and often are the cause of many problems in different episodes (e.g. the Goddess of Love Hathor becoming offended that an obnoxious Tut wasn't getting respect and having a pyramid built for him so she turns into Sekhmet to kill some construction workers, the God Ra being furious at those who deny his authority, the Goddess Isis trying to eternally damn Tut for vandalizing a wall and cheating at a board game, etc.) Set happens to be the worst of the bunch.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While the gods may seem overly harsh at lashing out at Tut for his shenanigans, it’s not difficult to understand why they would be so upset with him. While Tut is ultimately well-meaning, he's still selfish, bratty, and a rather inept ruler who frequently abuses magic for his own ends. You can’t blame Ra for being angry at him for obstructing his job over a really petty reason in “The Boat of Millions of Years” or Isis for wanting to punish him for being a cheater/bully in “Ghostbusted”.
  • Mean Boss: You probably wouldn't want to work for Horace Bedhety, but he's mostly just vain and petty.
  • Meaningful Name: Cleo's full name is Cleopatra Carter. The first part is obvious, while "Carter" alludes to Howard Carter, the archaeologist who found the original Tutankhamun's tomb.
  • Nepharious Pharaoh: Tut is not and never has been a merciful person.
  • Signature Headgear: Tut's gigantic nemes headdress, traditionally worn by pharaohs. He only takes it off a few times in the entire series.
  • Sliding Scale of Undead Regeneration: Strangely, Tut has been referred to as "rotting" many, many times during the series, and it's a running gag. But the definition of mummy is a dead body that in fact does not rot. It's never revealed whether or not Tut can heal (though the evidence points to: no).
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Tut has quite an extensive vocabulary, excellent manners, and an affinity for modern youth slang.
  • Spotting the Thread: In the episode Keep You’re Wandering Eye To Yourself, Kara says Cleo is doing the right thing to keep Tut away. Cleo concurs until she realizes she never told her his name.
  • Stages of Monster Grief: Initially averted. Tut accepts his undead-ness as part of his identity almost immediately. Later, when he begins to realize he'll be this way forever, it's played with. He mourns his flesh-and-blood body, and the fact that he'll never "grow up".
  • Undeathly Pallor: Afroasiatic Tut, in death, is somehow a pale green color (the dark color of his exposed hands and feet make this kind of confusing.)
  • Undeath Always Ends: Averted - by the end of the series, Tutenstein is still a living mummy.
  • Zombie Gait: Tut pulls this in the show's opening, and every once in a while in the show as well.



"Well, 3,000 years IS a long time, Cleo."

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