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Western Animation / Zorro: The Chronicles

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From left: Monasterio, Garcia, Ines, Bernard, Tornado, and the man himself.

Zorro: The Chronicles is a 2015 CGI-animated series based on the popular Zorro franchise, created by French company Cyber Group Studios and produced in partnership with John Gertz’s Zorro Production International and Blue Spirit Studios for France Télévisions and Italy’s RAI.

The series' synopsis follows the familiar plot of Don Diego de la Vega (here a teenager instead of an adult like in most other adaptations, and voiced by Johnny Yong Bosch) returning home to 19th-century Los Angeles, California after having spent several years at school in Spain. Thanks to letters from home, he is forewarned that the army captain Monasterio has established a tyrannical rule over Los Angeles. In order to combat the corruption that awaits him and to defend the people, Diego decides to take on the masked identity of Zorro, foiling Monasterio and other villains as he embarks on his adventures in and around the town.

Diego pretends to be a philosophical lout who detests heavy work and is absolutely inept with the sword in order to distance himself from the mysterious masked outlaw who's charming, witty, and an absolute master of the blade. He's also aided in his efforts by his faithful friend Bernardo, who is mute and also pretends to be deaf in order to more effectively spy for Zorro, and his twin sister Ines, who utilizes Monasterio's one-sided affection for her to aid her brother's efforts on multiple occasions and is quite plucky herself.

The series ran for one season of 26 episodes.

It is successful enough to warrant a video game spin-off with the same name in 2022.

Examples of tropes in this series include:

  • Action Girl: Ines isn't about to let her brother take all the glory. On more than one occasion, she even dresses up as Zorro herself, managing to handle the whip quite well (though obviously her swordplay isn't as good).
  • Age Lift: Inverted, as had been done with the earlier Kaiketsu Zorro and Zorro: Generation Z; here Diego and Bernardo are both in their teens, whereas most adaptations have them as grown men at the time Diego starts out as Zorro.
  • All for Nothing:
    • Mid-season, Dona Verdugo finds a cufflink that proves Malapensa is responsible for hiring the bandits and uses it to Blackmail the latter. Eventually, Malapensa steals back and destroys the evidence and happily proclaims how he is now free. In the episode following this, Dona Vergudo discovers an old wanted poster which reveals that Malapensa was a former pirate, making Malapensa's previous quest pointless.
    • In "The Grains of Wrath," Zorro correctly surmises that Malapensa's goons are behind the theft of a shipment of grain. However, by the time he gets around to confronting them, the grain is long gone (Dona Verdugo had also deduced who was responsible for the thefts and blackmailed Malapensa to turn the grain over to her). While the ensuing fight is no less spectacular and humorous than any other in the series, it's ultimately a pointless diversion; Zorro never does figure out what happened to the grain.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Corporal Gonzales desperately wants to become sergeant in Garcias' place, and is willing to follow any order Monasterio gives while seizing any opportunity to show up Garcia in order to achieve this goal. Granted, when you're the personal Butt-Monkey to a sergeant who's an outright incompetent idiot, you do tend to want to achieve better for yourself...unfortunately, Gonzales isn't much better than Garcia in the intelligence department.
  • Animated Adaptation: The fourth one overall, and the first one to use CGI.
  • Antagonistic Governor: The Governor of California. While he doesn't oppose Zorro directly, his lavish parties (financed by heavy taxes placed on the people) and racist attitude toward the local Indian tribes put him at odds with the outlaw.
  • Artistic Licence – History: There really was a pirate named Francis Drake who buried a portion of his ill-gotten gains in California after robbing a mule train carrying gold and silver. However, he only did so because the loot was too heavy to carry off in one trip. Furthermore, by the time he came back for the rest, the Spanish had found his hiding place and recovered it. Needless to say, the episode's titular map is completely fictional.
  • Bad Boss: Monasterio constantly berates his soldiers and harshly punishes them for their failure to capture Zorro. Granted, they're idiots, but his bullying doesn't improve their performance in the slightest.
  • Badass in Distress: In "The Desirable Heiress," Diego suffers a fall down a canyon and ends up with his foot stuck between two rocks. The bulk of the plot centers on the search party that is formed to find him.
  • Badass Native: The villainous Yuma. Diego and Ines are also half Native American, through their mother's side.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Corporal Gonzales to Sergeant Garcia, which is why he tries to curry favor with Monasterio in order to get Garcia's job for himself.
  • Berserk Button: Never try to harm or otherwise manhandle Zorro, or else Tornado will send you flying hard and fast.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Monasterio, Malapensa, and Dona Verdugo are the series' chief contenders for the most intimidating villain, often swapping out the title from episode to episode...when they're not working together against Zorro.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Monasterio. Despite commanding the garrison and being the closest thing Zorro has to an Arch-Enemy, he's ultimately nothing more than a Dirty Cop in the long run. Once an actual government official takes power, he's quickly put in his place. In the series penultimate episode, he's made into an Unwitting Pawn by Dona Verdugo and ends up stripped of his rank and sent to prison.
  • Big Eater: Sergeant Garcia cannot go a single episode without eating, trying to eat, or complaining about not eating.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Dona Isabella Verdugo appears to be quite a noblewoman, and behaves that way in public...but in reality she's a manipulative Social Climber who's determined to make her husband the alcalde (municipal magistrate) of Los Angeles, and is willing to do anything to get it done. Only Don Malapensa and Zorro know her true nature—the former because he's being blackmailed to do her dirty work, the latter because he accidentally stumbles across the truth behind one of her schemes.
    • Rosa, the Identical Stranger Dona Verdugo hires to impersonate Ines in "The Impostor," is this as well. At first, she appears to be a genuinely sweet girl who only participates in the plot because she's been told it's a harmless prank. Then she figures out it's not harmless at all...and she's more than willing to go along with it, so long as she's well paid.
  • Blood Knight: Antonio Ramirez. The so-called "Maestro" welcomes any opportunity to fight Zorro, if only to prove himself the superior swordsman.
  • Bookcase Passage: The secret passage to Zorro's cave is in the hacienda library, and is activated like this.
  • Butt-Monkey: Sergeant Garcia and Corporal Gonzales share this role. Captain Monasterio is not much better, to his constant humiliation.
  • Canon Foreigner: Ines and the twins' maternal grandmother Tainah (although the latter is based on White Owl in the Isabel Allende novel), along with several other characters.
  • Collective Identity: Both Bernardo and Ines have donned Zorro's outfit at various points in the series, sometimes simultaneously.
  • Cool Horse: Tornado is not only fast and strong, he's perfectly capable of fighting off criminals all by himself.
  • Costume Copycat: It's happened on a few occasions, usually to frame Zorro for some crime or otherwise discredit him.
  • Designated Girl Fight: In the series finale, Ines and Dona Verdugo scuffle over a notebook containing proof of Dona Verdugo's misdeeds. Despite the fact that Bernardo is right there and his intervention would prove a decisive advantage, for some reason he doesn't join in.
  • Dirty Cop: Technically, Dirty Soldier, but Monasterio is the one in charge of the Los Angeles garrison, which is the time-period version of the local police, and he is anything but honorable.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Don Malapensa wants to become the richest landowner in California. Dona Verdugo wants to place her husband (and by extension herself) in a position of power. Captain Monasterio wants to capture Zorro and continue his rule over Los Angeles unopposed. As the series goes on, the three often butt heads when their schemes interfere with each other's plans. However, they can be persuaded to make (and break) alliances, usually in response to Zorro, their common enemy.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: Rosa, who looks exactly like Ines, has no problem with helping Dona Verdugo frame the de la Vega family for treason, including taking a shot at the governor, as long as she gets paid for it.
  • Face Palm: Monasterio's usual reaction to Garcia's idiocy (or, really, the incompetence of any of the soldiers). Even Malapensa gets in on the act in one episode upon seeing Garcia's poor leadership skills.
  • False Flag Operation: Multiple villains have tried to cover their misdeeds by dressing up as Zorro and letting him take the fall for their crimes.
    • Diego often proclaims his hatred for Zorro and acts friendly with Monasterio, Don Parasol, and Malapensa in order to reinforce his secret identity—and make the aforementioned parties more likely to let information slip.
    • In "A Bell for Los Angeles," the gambit is two-pronged; the titular bell is used as a distraction to draw the people out of their homes and leave them open to be robbed, in the hope that the people will tun their ire on Don Verdugo for installing it in the first place. The criminals also leave Zorro's mark on the houses they rob to deflect suspicion onto the outlaw who has been a persistent thorn in their side.
    • "The Tornado" sees Yuma pull one of these in order to take back a sacred mask that was stolen from his people. His disguise ensures that the garrison will go after Zorro, leaving Yuma free to make his escape uncontested.
    • In "The Plot," Dona Verdugo tries to weaken Monasterio's favor with the governor by faking her own kidnapping by and escape from Zorro, so that Monasterio comes off as incompetent when he's unable to rescue her.
    • In "The Treasure Map," Diego, Bernardo, and Ines join the treasure-hunting expedition in order to sabotage it, since the titular map points straight to Zorro's lair.
  • Fat Idiot: Sergeant Garcia, to Monasterio's constant aggravation.
  • General Ripper: Monasterio will see Zorro captured and unmasked, no matter what it takes.
  • Genre Savvy:
    • By the series' twenty-first episode, Malapensa's henchmen Dentist and La Rana have been around the block enough times to know what happens every time Zorro shows up. So when he walks in on them committing a burglary, they don't even bother trying to fight. They even take turns cutting the trademark "Z" into the seats of each other's trousers before running for the hills.
    • After a few rounds of Zorro impersonators, most of Los Angeles seems to catch on to the fact that if Zorro does something wildly out of character, it's probably not really him. This is discussed in "The Plot" when Don Verdugo points out that kidnapping isn't Zorro's style and the "Zorro" who took his wife was likely an impostor.
  • Go Through Me: Ines pulls this in "The Desirable Heiress" when Zorro is about to cut his trademark Z into Antonio's clothes. Zorro is visibly dumbfounded, but agrees to give Antonio a pass.
    Ines: (steps between Zorro and Antonio) No, spare him!
    Zorro: Not even a little Z on his butt?
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Several common Spanish words ("Senor," "Senorita," "Adios," etc.) get peppered into the series' otherwise English dialogue.
  • Hate Sink: Captain Monasterio is extremely hated by the viewers and fans of Zorro for his tyrannical treatment to his soldiers, townsfolk of Los Angeles, attempts to ruin Zorro's reputation and for being unlikeable overall that him eventually ending up stripped of his rank and sent to prison was an absolutely satisfying punishment for all of his crimes he brought upon townsfolk of Los Angeles.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Sergeant Garcia in the season 1 finale. After learning of Dona Verdugo’s crimes, he rallies the townspeople to fight her soldiers and is awarded a promotion to captain for his noble efforts.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Dona Verdugo carefully maintains the image of a respected noblewoman throughout the series, using quick wits and Plausible Deniability to steer any blame for her actions onto others. Her downfall eventually comes, however, when she tries to tell one lie too many by having Don Parasol arrested for fraud and her husband made governor in his place. Once Zorro and company prove that the charges are false, her carefully-maintained web of lies comes crashing down around her. Even her husband can no longer deny what a dangerous and power-hungry person she is.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: Let's put it this way—Zorro has turned this into an art form. In one episode Zorro, riding on Tornado, jumps over Monasterio, Garcia and Gonzales, all of whom immediately duck to avoid the horse; and while Tornado is in mid-jump, Zorro draws his blade and leaves his mark on all three soldiers in what has to be less than a fraction of a second.
  • Informed Ability: Despite being a self-proclaimed master swordsman, the Maestro tends to fade only slightly better against Zorro than the common soldiers.
    • The very first scene of the series shows Bernardo engaging in a friendly swordfight with Diego and holding his own. That's better than any of Zorro's foes manage to do, so you'd expect him to whip out a sword when things head south, right? Nope. Bernardo is only shown using a sword a handful of times; he usually relies on improvised clubs or his bare hands. Even when dressed up as Zorro, he appears to favor the whip.
  • Lady in Red: Dona Isabella Verdugo is almost exclusively seen in a bright red pantsuit.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Carmen, Diego's childhood love interest, is openly disappointed with Diego's apparent foppishness, but she admires Zorro's bravery and defiance of Monasterio's regime. Diego himself encourages this so as to stave off suspicion that he's the masked outlaw, but Ines isn't happy about how her brother's going about it, especially since Carmen's her best friend.
  • Master Swordsman: Antonio Ramirez prides himself on being this, and sees Zorro as a Worthy Opponent as a result.
  • Mildly Military: The garrison’s soldiers. For one thing, the soldiers don’t seem to even have proper training. Gonzales flat out admits that he learned swordfighting from his grandmother. Also the soldiers frequently complain about the tasks that they’re ordered to do. In any real-life military, this type of behavior is considered insubordination. This is even lampshaded by Verdugo’s nephew when he is given control of the garrison.
  • Missing Mom: Senora de la Vega, who died some years prior to the start of the series while trying to protect her family from bandits.
  • Never Bring a Gun to a Sword Fight: Not when your opponent is Zorro. You will still lose. It's evident from as early as the opening title sequence!
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Zorro's enemies find themselves accidentally making his job easier surprisingly often.
    • In an early episode, Zorro is trying to block off an illegal silver mine when Monasterio shows up. In a rare display of Combat Pragmatism, Monasterio pulls out a gun and tries to shoot the outlaw. Unfortunately for him, the bullet ignites a barrel of gunpowder, which explodes and collapses the mine. His job done, all that's left is for Zorro to share a few parting taunts before riding away.
    • On another occasion, Sergeant Garcia is tasked with protecting an aqueduct that diverts water from the city well to the garrison. When Zorro shows up to tear down the aqueduct and allow the people to access the water, Garcia valiantly squares up to stop him. However, his efforts are a little too enthusiastic. After one too many bumps from the bulky sergeant, the aqueduct collapses without Zorro laying a finger on it.
    • Dona Verdugo winds up contributing more to her downfall than Zorro ever did. After successfully framing Governor Parasol for embezzlement, she decides to have Carmen kidnapped alongside Parasol, despite the latter having only overheard the details of the arrest and nothing more. This quickly draws Zorro's attention, who tracks down Carmen, rescues the Governor and exposes Verdugo's plot to the public.
  • Nice to the Waiter: The waiter, in this case, being the Chumash Indians. The evil characters, particularly Monasterio, have no problem with displacing, exploiting, or outright enslaving the Chumash. The good characters, on the other hand, are shown protesting in favor of the Chumash or fighting in their defense.
  • Not with Them for the Money: Antonio plays this straight, going out of his way to emphasize to Ines that wealth isn't everything during one of his first conversations with her. After he proposes, he seriously considers breaking off the engagement when he overhears his father planning to kill Diego to make Ines (and by extension, him) the sole heir to the massive de la Vega fortune.
  • Obfuscating Disability: As with many other versions of his character, Bernardo pretends to be deaf in order to be a more effective spy for Zorro (though he's genuinely mute). To aid in this, Diego gives the cover story that while they were in Spain, Bernardo stood too close to a cannon right as it was being fired and lost his hearing as a result.
  • Police Are Useless: With idiots like Garcia and Gonzales as part of his peace-keeping squad, one can't fault Monasterio too much for his inability to defeat Zorro.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: To be honest, it would be a serious stretch to call Sergeant Garcia any kind of villain; it's just that he has to follow the orders of his more malignant boss Monasterio.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Specifically, it kills Ines's engagement to Antonio. After Malapensa arranges an "accident" for Diego in "The Desirable Heiress," Zorro takes it upon himself to give the abhorrent admirers who have descended on the de la Vega estate a solid whooping, including revealing that someone was taking an inventory of the family's belongings. Ines is furious, and all of her interactions with Antonio from that point forward generally consist of Antonio attempting to patch things up and Ines refusing to speak with him beyond basic pleasantries.
    • It should be noted, however, that Ines may be invoking this trope specifically to prevent another attempt on Diego's life, since it wasn't too difficult for the main characters to deduce who was responsible for the first one and why it was made.
  • Rogues Gallery: While he's not generally known for having a huge variety of villains like that one superhero he would later inspire, Zorro's got a fairly decent line-up in this series. The list includes Captain Monasterio, Sergeant Garcia, Corporal Gonzales, Governor Esteban Parasol, Dona Isabella Verdugo, Chief Yuma, Antonio Ramirez, and Don Rodrigo Malapensa and his hired henchmen La Rana and Dentist.
  • Say My Name: Monasterio will almost always say one of three names under different contexts, always in anger. "ZORRO!" "GARCIA!" "GONZALES!" Bonus points if all three are said in the same episode.
  • Secret-Keeper: Bernardo for Zorro, of course. Ines also becomes one after Diego willingly unmasks in front of her.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: While none are explicitly identified, some of Tainah's dialogue in later episodes heavily implies that she is this. Arguments can be made for other characters as well, notably Carmen, Carlos the innkeeper, and Don Alejandro (for whom there is a franchise-spanning precedent).
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The search for Drake's treasure. Once Diego confirms that Ching's map points to Zorro's cave, he points out that if there was any treasure there, they would have found it. Ching himself acknowledges at the end of the episode that most buried treasures are long gone by the time their resting places are officially discovered.
    • In "The Grains Of Wrath," Zorro never does succeed in recovering the grain that Malapensa's goons stole. He also never seems to connect the fact that it suddenly vanished with Dona Verdugo miraculously procuring a supply of grain (though in fairness to him, he wouldn't discover her manipulative nature until the end of the next episode).
  • Sleazy Politician: The governor, Don Esteban Parasol, is much more concerned with being able to host fancy parties than with being a fair representative to the people. He funds these parties by levying high taxes on the poor and exploiting the native Chumash. In addition, his judgement is profoundly flawed—in one episode, he goes from preparing to appoint Don Alejandro alcalde to condemning him as a traitor, then immediately offers him the position of alclade again once his name has been cleared. Subverted by Don Verdugo, who constantly makes efforts to help the people of Los Angeles and is genuinely appalled when his wife's hired goons turn Los Angeles into a police state where people are arrested for speaking out.
  • Spit Take: Diego provokes one from Monasterio at the beginning of "The Plot," when the latter is congratulating Malapensa on a recent successful land acquisition.
    Monasterio: Our beautiful region is the safest bet in California. (drinks from his wine glass)
    Diego: Don't forget Zorro, though. (cue Monasterio spewing out his mouthful and coughing)
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Monasterio, due to leading incompetent soldiers.
  • Tap on the Head: Happens so frequently in this series, to good guys and bad guys alike, it's a wonder they're not nursing concussions. However, the trope's usual application is averted in "The Grains of Wrath," where two merchants get brained during a highway robbery and end up in medical care at the inn, and still aren't recovered even by the episode's midway point.
  • Thicker Than Water:
    • Antonio is well aware that his father is not a good or honest person, but when push comes to shove, he always sides with Don Rodriguo.
    • It's implied that one of the reasons Ines decided not to marry Antonio, despite caring for him enough to pull a Go Through Me on Zorro for him, is because doing so would result in his father making more attempts on Diego's life.
  • Transformation Sequence: Every episode features a stock sequence that starts on a wide shot of the hacienda, then zooms in on Diego activating the secret panel, running down the corridor to the cavern, donning his sword, whip, boots and hat, then whistling for Tornado who circles him before they ride off.
  • Underestimating Badassery: In "The Treasure Map," a bandit tries to steal the titular map from Ching, who is unarmed. Ching proceeds to display a mastery of martial arts that allows him to send the bandit running with his bare hands. He even gets a few solid hits in on Zorro when the outlaw shows up and tries to lend a hand.
    • The ease with which Zorro can disarm even the garrison's most skilled fencers when he puts his mind to it and his ability to keep spouting witty quips even while in the thick of a fight imply that he deliberately invokes this trope. It's likely that he goes easy on the soldiers to keep them from accepting his victories as a Foregone Conclusion—in one episode, he even complains about how much he was looking forward to a long fight after he easily disarms Monasterio.
  • Villain Has a Point: In the very first episode, Diego's father calls out Captain Monasterio for overtaxing and imprisoning the townspeople. Monasterio responds by correctly pointing out that Governor Parasol (and by extension, the King of Spain) is the one actually responsible for the unfair taxes and he's merely enforcing the law... though it quickly becomes clear that Monasterio himself is still willing to ignore or abuse the law when it suits him.
  • Villainous Crush: Monasterio frequently expresses his adoration toward Ines, but has also expressed attraction to Diego's love interest Carmen...although this hasn't stopped him from trying to use them both as pawns to capture Zorro.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Downplayed. Antonio Malapensa unerringly loyal to his father, even when remaining so contradicts his morals (see Thicker Than Water above) or the evidence to back up Malapensa's claims is flimsy at best. Malapensa, on the other hand, considers Antonio's strong sense of right and wrong a weakness and bemoans the fact that his son values love and family more than wealth.
    Malapensa: How did my son ever turn out so mushy? Honesty will be his downfall.
  • Whip It Good: As always, Zorro is skilled with a bullwhip to use it as both a weapon and a means to swing from one rooftop to another. The length of the whip seems to vary from scene to scene (in some cases, it's unrealistically long to allow Zorro to pull off his acrobatic stunts; other times, it's clearly much shorter). Ines is also skilled enough with a whip to pass for Zorro when she's the one wearing the mask.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Ramirez is revealed to be scared of heights in "Banished"...after having climbed up a ship's mast for the chance to fight Zorro.
  • Worthless Treasure Twist: Invoked by Diego, Ines, and Bernardo, who bury an some rusty swords and an old shoe in a chest to make the people of Los Angeles give up on following a treasure map that originally pointed straight to Zorro's cave. Of the group that assembles to see the treasure unearthed, only visiting cartographer Ching is Genre Savvy enough to be neither surprised nor particularly disappointed.
  • Zorro Mark: Do you even need to ask? Sergeant Garcia even refers to it as getting "zeed."