Endless island, endless dreams
Endless island, endless dreamer
Twelve Forever is a Netflix animated series created by Julia Vickerman (Yo Gabba Gabba!, Clarence), with Shadi Petosky (Danger & Eggs) serving as showrunner. Originally a Cartoon Network pilot that premiered online on May 18th, 2015, the show was greenlit as a Netflix production two years later. The series premiered on July 29, 2019.
The series follows the adventures of Reggie Abbott, an imaginative 12-year-old girl who, frustrated with the new challenges she's facing between puberty and feeling like everything is changing, wishes that she'd never had to grow up. This wish comes true thanks to a magic key she creates, which grants her the power to travel to Endless Island, a weird and fantastical world where she doesn't have to face the looming responsibilities and stresses of adulthood. Now she and her friends Todd and Esther can visit this magical world as much as they like in order to relax and have fun. But not everyone in this world is benevolent, with the villainous "Butt Witch" and other threats wanting nothing more than to cause trouble for Reggie and company.
Two months after the series premiered, Shadi Petosky revealed on Twitter that there wouldn't be future seasons, yet she also said Netflix had nothing to do with that decision.
The Netflix series trailer can be seen here.
Tropes found in the series include:
- Actor Allusion: In one episode, Butt Witch is having trouble with her computer/TV monitor, and Big Deal asks her if shes tried turning it off and on again.
- And the Adventure Continues: With the series' production ending abruptly, the latest episode ends with the trio managing to defeat the Butt Witch, depowering her back to a smaller than normal form which Big Deal takes away. The three make up and celebrate Todd's birthday back in the real world along with Gwen with the implication Reggie will tell her about Endless when she asks about Reggie's arm. All the while Reggie's key glows, causing a flash to appear in the ocean near Endless Island. What it is (a new key, an island, another newcomer, etc) is left up to the imagination.
- Adapted Out: Shane is not a part of the show, with most of his abilities and personality split between Todd and Esther.
- Adaptational Angst Upgrade: In the pilot, Reggie proudly used the nickname Twelve. In the series, she used to be known as Eleven to the denizens of Endless because that's what was on her suit. It changing its number to match her new age, and her nickname along with it, is a reminder to her of the anxiety over growing up that's the running theme of the series.
- Adaptation Name Change: Party Island from the pilot is renamed to Endless Island in the series.
- Adult Fear: Reggie loses Ogden, the boy she was babysitting, in Endless, causing her to panic and frantically search the island for the small (and invisible) boy.
- Air-Vent Passageway: Taken to an absurd level in "The Locals Forever"; not only can the trio walk through them, but they also appear to be interconnected to every house in Endless.
- An Aesop:
- "School Forever" has two: teaching is harder than it looks, and just because someone is advanced in a class, it doesn't mean that the class should speed up to their level and leave everyone else behind.
- "Spring Break Forever": Fantasy is fine as a temporary escape from the stress of daily life, but relying on it too heavily will make you lose touch with reality.
- The whole series has the moral (and Central Theme) of "grow up, but don't grow old." Reggie is dreading growing up and being an adult but she matures in other ways throughout the season and realizes that she doesn't have to completely change who she is in order to mature.
- Animesque: Reggie's drawings.
- Artists Are Attractive: Invoked. Reggie takes an interest in Connelly after seeing her work on her film, and Gwen seems to like seeing Todd with a guitar.
- Body Horror: Subverted; Reggie seems to suffer this in her first fight against the Butt Witch, but it turns out to be all in her head. Played straight for the people who have stayed in the Endless long enough, having been twisted into unnatural but whimsical creatures.
- Can't Take Anything with You: People can go back and forth between Endless, but anything from the real world that gets brought in quickly assimilates to fit in to the weirdness and cant be brought back once that happens. Reggie frequently uses it to store/hide things her mother would otherwise force her to get rid of. People can get stuck on Endless too, but it takes longer.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: On Endless Island, the very fabric of reality and everything in/on it is at the whim of those living in it, and it's indicated that special powers humans acquire while on it are also developed on the fly by their imaginations alone.
- Crapsaccharine World: A downplayed example with Endless Island since it is a bright, cheery world with genuinely whimsical residents, but it can drive outsiders insane if they stay there long enough. The Butt Witch also claims it used to be much worse, and she wants to turn it back to that state.
- Creating Life: Anything buried on Endless Island is brought to life, in a form dependent on how the person who buried it felt at the time. For example, the Butt Witch is created/awoken when a bunch of puberty books that Reggie wants to get rid of are tossed into the island's volcano.
- Comically Missing the Point: At the end of "The Locals Forever", Reggie and Esther agree not to spy on the residents anymore...because they don't want to be like Borbo, not because it's wrong.
- Daylight Horror: Endless Island is constantly under intense daylight. This makes the increasing amount of creepy things happening in it all well lit. As there is no night, you can't measure time, so it helps make you utterly bonkers.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The way long term effect of the island act on people are similar to drug addiction. Frequent use makes them need to go to the Island, psychologically speaking, and being locked away from it makes Reggie become agitated and depressed as if she was in withdrawn. Long term exposure to the Island also causes Todd and Esther to go nearly insane, and as Elmer shows, even longer term will degrade your psyche and your body.
- Dropped After the Pilot: Shane, who was Reggie's best friend in the original pilot, is replaced with Todd and Esther.
- Eldritch Location: Endless Island. At first, it seems to be a whimsical Magic Land where our main characters go to just have fun, but dark and troubling things are revealed about the land over the course of the series. Most notably, the longer you stay on Endless Island without going back to the real world, the more and more you forget about whatever life you had before going there, and over time your body starts to change in increasingly strange ways. It doesn't help that the passage of time doesn't even exist on the island itself, meaning the characters don't get any sleep while staying there.
- Emotional Powers: Mixed with Wild Magic. When creating new people/creatures on the Island, your temperament at the time plays a factor in whether the new creature will be benevolent/peaceful or destructive. Reggie throwing her mom's label maker in anger causes it to grow into a giant monster when it lands in a pool, but her toys getting buried as a way to protect them renders them alive and larger than before, but peaceful.
- Endless Daytime: Endless Island never experiences night time. This makes it look all the more inviting, but it also makes time measurement much harder.
- Escapism: Reggie, Todd, and Esther are all shown to, on some level, use Endless to escape from their lives. While Todd and Esther tend to use it as a much needed break or breather from their responsibilities, Reggie is almost entirely dependent on Endless to deal with her emotions. It reaches almost G-Rated Drug levels when being away from Endless too long can cause Reggie to become agitated and depressed.
- Exposition Already Covered: In "A Stranger Forever", after Todd and Esther discover Elmer is a thief who steals people's favorite things, they run to Reggie to warn her. When they get to her, Esther is about to warn Reggie but needs to catch her breathe, Todd comes in behind her and tells Reggie the truth about Elmer, which angers Esther since she was going to tell her.
- Feminine Mother, Tomboyish Daughter: Downplayed with Regina and her mother. Though her mother is not particularly feminine, she still seems to get annoyed that Reggie doesn't seem willing to wear nice dresses, and is confused as to why she doesn't want to embrace typical teen girl things.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Esther to Reggie and Todd.
- Fisher Kingdom: Endless seems to be one. People who travel to it instantaneously gain new outfits and even changes to their physical appearance (Todd's skin turns purple, and Esther's hair becomes more geometric in shape). Objects brought to Endless and buried there will also be transformed. And the episode "Spring Break Forever" reveals Endless can change people's minds as well if they stay there long enough...
- Foreshadowing: When we're first introduced to Guy Pleasant, Reggie is just as interested in him as every other girl on the Island, but unlike the others, it's not because of how handsome he is (she's more interested in the fact that he's half-dog). This ends up serving as an early sign of her sexual preferences.
- Also, the fact that there are three gay characters among her Endless creations.
- Genre Throwback: To 90s and early 2000s cartoons.
- Giant Woman: The ruler of Endu Island is one of these.
- Giving Up on Logic: Reggie tells the two in "Endless Forever" that her friends need to stop acting like Endless runs on some sort of logic if they want to escape the rooms.
- Graceful Loser: Whenever her schemes fail, the Butt Witch shrugs it off and is just glad they were at least able to provide her with entertainment.
- Growing Up Sucks: The overall theme of the series is growing and changing, something Reggie is vehemently against.
- Hell Is That Noise: The droning, discordant soundtrack when the main trio start arguing and producing the rage worms.
- Dr. Champion's screams, which are extremely disturbing and don't sound at all like the usual theatrical, fake loud screams in cartoons.
- Hypocrite: Judy's boss' daughter Kendra proudly shows off her cubic zirconia bracelet and seems to look down on Reggie and the fact that she doesn't have a TV in her room nor real jewelry, making fun of Reggie for thinking her mother's class ring has a real ruby.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode title for the show ends in the word "Forever", in reference to the name of the show.
- Light Is Not Good: Endless Island is a place always under bright daylight that drives people mad.
- Living Memory: In one episode, the trio comes across a supermarket that contains all of their embarrassing/sad memories. It's only when they make peace with the memories that the supermarket stops working.
- Magical Incantation: Twelve recites one of these while holding her key before entering Endless Island.
- With this key, create a door, to take me to your righteous shores
give us fun where there was none, and make reality undone.
To the edges of infinity, Endless Island, set us free!
- Magical Land: Party Island is a land of whimsical creatures that grants power to children that go there.
- Male Gaze: The Butt Witch is most certainly not called that for nothing.
- Multi-Melee Master: Reggie seems to be quick to master any weapon that Flaps barfs out for her.
- Mythology Gag: In "Brown Roger Forever", one of the boys in Esther's dating game is named Shane, likely a reference to Reggie's original best friend from the pilot. As an added bonus for the gag, Todd is the one who brings him up.
- Never Land: If Elmer is any indication, then Endless Island works like this. Downplayed in that it only seems to keep children from the real world from aging; there are still plenty of adults populating the place.
- One Steve Limit: Averted. Todds twin sisters are both named Jennifer for some reason.
- Our Monsters Are Weird: The denizen of Party/Endless Island are weird to say the least.
- Parent with New Paramour: After Todds mother walked out, his dad has since found a new girlfriend. Also, Reggie's mom goes on a date in "Reggie's Dad Forever".
- Parent Service: Daddies in the viewing audience probably like viewing the Butt Witch.
- Period Piece: The show is set in the early 2000s, according to an executive producer for the show. This is made evident by the lack of modern technology and the fashion choices worn in the show.
- Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: The two part finale "Todd Forever/Together Forever" features Reggie, Todd, and Esther having a falling out due to Todd spending more time with Gwen and Reggie's inability to accept that, leading her to destroy her surprise party for the boy. The latter two air out their dirty laundry, telling Reggie what they don't like about her, and leave Endless steamed.
- Real After All: Todd, in an angry outburst, claims that he doesn't believe that Endless Island is "real" (as in, nothing they do there will help/affect them in the real world). However, in "Together Forever", an injury Reggie gets there still appears in the real world, implying he could be wrong.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: One of Reggies teachers, a nervous man, sees Reggie had drawn on her school locker and forced her to clean it. While Reggie is upset, its clear he did so because he didnt want Reggie to get in trouble for defacing school property and later, gave her a whiteboard to draw on instead.
- Ruptured Appendix: This happens to Reggie in "Spring Break Forever".
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When Tristan starts to turn into a giant baby due to Reggie dumping tons of muscle cream on him, Mack and Beefhouse quickly back away.
- Sequel Hook: At the end of season 1, Reggie's key to Endless glows, and a similar glow appears in the ocean off of Endless's shores.
- "Dirk's Got Problems," the show the gang watches instead of going to the carnival, has characters bearing a resemblance to the protagonists of The Big Bang Theory down to a nonsensical catchphrase. The font used for the show is also similar to the font Nickelodeon uses.
- When Manguin embraces his slovenly side, he starts to look more like Guy Fieri.
- A Booberry-type ghost can be seen on a cereal box in the Abbott household, and it's modeled after the "When you X just right" meme.
- The dating board game where players use a phone to find a boyfriend that Esther gets the whole gang to play in "Brown Roger Forever" is pretty much just the real game "Dream Phone" in all but name.
- The giant yo-yoing hand on Endless Island is modeled after Principal Skinner's hand.
- Gwen's t-shirt is identical to the one worn by Danny Fenton.
- David Bowie expy Guy Pleasant is a dog-centaur; Bowie appeared as a half-human, half dog creature on the album cover of "Diamond Dogs".
- The face of the monster-sized Butt Witch looks like that of Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky.
- Reggie recites words while the key that is in her necklace spins and activates its powers, much like another well known Magical Girl did in the 90s, Cardcaptor Sakura.
- Reggie and Dustin's childhood tapes seem reminiscent of Faye's childhood tapes in Cowboy Bebop episode 18.
- In 'Birthday Forever', the way Reggie lands on her flamingo tricycle in Endless is a reference to the motorcycle slide in the anime film AKIRA.
- In the episode 'Guy Pleasant Forever', there's a Daft Punk poster on the window in the record store shown in the opening scene.
- "Babysitting Forever" features Serial Numbers Filed Off versions of Foxtrot, Dick Tracy, and Garfield, while Ogden prefers to watch a Mister Rogers' Neighborhood parody called Uncle Ben's Cottage.
- Sticky Fingers: Kendra "borrows" Reggie's homemade turkey earrings. She tries to defend herself by claiming that she was going to give them back but Reggie is not angry and allows her to keep them.
- Spot the Imposter: In "Not Twelve Forever", Big Deal poorly impersonates Twelve. His original intention is to ruin her good reputation among the residents of the island, but the praise and fame start going to his head.
- Strong Family Resemblance: Reggie, Dustin, and their mother all resemble each other with their red hair.
- Sugar Bowl: Party/Endless Island is this, a bright and colorful island filled with cute creatures, sugary foods, and everything that Reggie and her friends like.
- Take That!: Zigzagged with "Dirk's Got Problems", an expy of The Big Bang Theory. Reggie, Todd and Esther don't find it all that funny or even really like it, but they keep watching it anyway and everyone on Endless is a fan of the show.
- The Power of Friendship: How the Butt Witch is defeated in the first season finale; the friendship between the main trio ends up empowering the residents of Endless Island, allowing them to help take her down.
- The Power of Hate: Whenever the main trio argues on Endless, they puke up slimy, worm-like creatures, which the Butt Witch can eat to power herself up.
- ¡Three Amigos!: Reggie, Todd, and Esther.
- Thick-Line Animation
- Time Dilation: In "Spring Break Forever", Todd and Esther visit Endless Island without Reggie for what felt like 20 minutes to them, but in reality, was actually five days.
- Two Girls and a Guy: Reggie, Esther, and Todd.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: When Reggie refuses to play the dating game, Esther implies it's because she's scared she'll lose. Reggie joins in, blowing off her day with Brown Roger and dumping him on Todd, which neither like. This leads to the Butt Witch corrupting Brown Roger, which Reggie blames Todd for. The ensuing argument results in Todd barfing up the first worm and the Butt Witch discovers what happens when she consumes said worm.
- Vocal Dissonance: Matt Berry's cultured baritone emanating from the curvaceously feminine Butt Witch.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Played with in that it only happens when Flaps barfs out weapons or someone barfs out a worm; actually vomiting gets a Vomit Discretion Shot instead.
- Wham Episode:
- "Spring Break Forever": A far darker side of Endless Island is revealed when Todd and Esther stay there for five days in a row. Over the course of the week, they slowly start forgetting their lives outside of it — from minor things like their promise to call Reggie to things like the fact Todd has sisters. By the time Reggie goes to get them, they've become rambling, fun-loving wrecks (with Todd apparently suffering from Power Incontinence), and she has to pull them out by force.
- "Stranger Forever": The revelations from "Spring Break Forever" are expanded on thanks to the arrival of Elmer, a kid who chose to live forever inside of the Endless Island realm. By the time of the episode, he's become a kleptomaniac who barely remembers his past, and his body has been horribly warped by the realm's power.
- "Todd Forever": The tensions between the trio reach a boiling point, and they get into a serious fight — which gives the Butt Witch all the power she needs to start her conquest of Endless Island.
- Wackyland: Esther and Todd try to study how Endless Island works in episode 5, only to realize how chaotic it really is.
- World of Chaos: Endless seems inviting but one of the darker implications of its existence is its seeming defiance of order. When the trio attempts to bring some semblance of rationality to it in "Endless Forever", Endless seems to grow increasingly chaotic in response to their attempts to make sense of it, culminating in a strange being who shows up to eat them for no apparent reason other than their curiosity.
All I want is to feel alive
I am now how I need to stay
Never want anything to change
I'll be happier than all of you
And I'm going to be forever
Be forever, be forever...