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YMMV / Captain Planet and the Planeteers

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  • Anvilicious: Environmentalism is basically the entire point of this show, and it's not afraid to show it, given how pointlessly evil the villains are. Special mention to one scene in "The Ultimate Pollution" where, as he's fighting a tank, the Captain spews statistics about how there's enough steel in them to make 2,000 plows.
  • Angst? What Angst?: Linka in "Mind Pollution" has watched her cousin Boris die from an overdose of drugs in front of her and she is seen taking part in the Planeteer bit at the end of the episode with a cheery attitude. Geeze give the girl a break.
  • Complete Monster: There are these two Knights of Cerebus, who are motivated more by sadistic enjoyment than mere greed:
    • Zarm, the Spirit of War and Destruction, is arguably the strongest and most deadly adversary of Gaia and the Planeteers. A former Spirit of the Earth exiled by Gaia, Zarm dedicates himself to bringing ruin and destruction in all forms to Gaia and all she protects out of vengeful spite, having consumed at least one planet to the tides of destruction and constantly attempting to do the same to Earth. Zarm attempts to initiate all-out nuclear war on Earth; painfully reverts Gaia to a withered old lady incapable of stopping the Earth from dying and taking over the Earth for a ten-year period of time where the Earth has become desiccated and ruined; coins a strategy he calls "Scorched Earth" by convincing world leaders to obliterate their own land and people (and claims to have been "a part of every important tyrant in history"); and nearly dooms the Planeteers' efforts to stop an alternate timeline where the Eco-Villains' descendants rule the planet by smugly ordering a young girl Ma-Ti saves murdered. A sadist drunk on his own capacity for destruction, Zarm is one of the single greatest sources of human misery within the show.
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    • The appropriately-named Verminous Skumm is a humanoid rat-man who, despite being far less powerful than the aforementioned Zarm, manages to be just as evil. Taking a sick pleasure in the polluted and festering, Skumm's schemes vary from willingly endangering and trying to destroy entire cities, and include deliberately trying to destroy an entire city with a cloud of acid rain and flooding Venice with oversized, carnivorous rats; peddling mind-altering drugs and even murdering Linka's cousin Boris through them; attempting to bait two sides of the Arab–Israeli Conflict into using a nuclear bomb in Jerusalem Mount, and doing the same thing in The Troubles and apartheid South Africa; and attempting to flood the entire world with his "Rat Rot" chemical to turn everyone into his mutated rat slaves. Skumm's end goal is to destroy the civilized world and enslave what remains to his mutated Rat Men followers to rule over them all as a king. Happily admitting "I'm ignorance; I'm fear; I'm hate" and taking delight in everything from ruining the life of a single person—a teenager with AIDS—for giggles, to the attempted annihilation of millions of lives, Skumm stands out as the darkest of the recurring Eco-Villains due to his propensity to target people rather than the environment.
  • Critical Research Failure:
    • Captain Planet is damaged by crude oil, a completely natural material, yet is also healed by lava and magma, both far more dangerous than crude oil. Strangely, Hoggish Greedly calls the crude oil he fires "toxic waste", but it's a storyboard error as he fired a thick, shiny glop at Captain Planet, just like oil, as opposed to the colorful glop the show represents as toxic waste.
    • A Belfast Catholic using the taunt "Fenian Prods" in the "If It's Doomsday, This Must Be Belfast" episode makes one question how much the writers actually know about sectarian hate in Ireland. If you're wondering, Fenian is a word for the (largely Catholic) Irish nationalist, while Prod was a derogatory term for the (mostly Protestant) North Irish Unionist. One can't be a Fenian Prod anymore than one can be a White Chink.
    • The way they handled the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and the South African apartheid wasn't much better, with the South African soldiers causing racial violence for the sake of causing violence and Palestinians throwing stones at Israeli soldiers and civilians and responding by demolishing Arab homes really makes one wonder if the writers knew anything about these real world conflicts.
    • If Darwinia from the episode "The Blue Car Line" is supposed to be a fictional representation of the Australian city Darwin, then there is a hell of a lot wrong with it. For starters, two decades on from the episode's creation, Darwin still has a minuscule population of less than 150,000 people, little to no high-rise development to speak of, and — the funniest error considering the episode revolves around alternative transport — there's no trains (save for one train line that runs to Adelaide and Alice Springs).
  • Don't Shoot the Message: A lot of environmentalists hate the show despite agreeing with its Green Aesop because of how ham-fisted the writing was and how badly the research was screwed up, as mentioned above.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Dr. Blight, at least until you see the burn on her face that her hair covers. Hell, she's pretty even with the scar!
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: The episodes dealing with population control tells young viewers that if their family has more than two children then they are a strain on both the planet and society at large. "Numbers Game" ups the ante by telling kids that they're an obnoxious, unwanted burden to their parents and that their families would be richer and happier without them.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Wheeler and Linka, hands down.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Now that Neil Patrick Harris, whom the HIV-stricken teen Todd was played by, has come out as gay, it's pretty obvious why he did the role now (the character he played was accused of contracting HIV from unprotected sex with his male friend, rather than a blood transfusion gone wrong).
  • Faux Symbolism: Ma-Ti punches out Hitler!
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Australian kids LOVE Captain Planet unironically, and even the snarking over the silliness is more out of love rather than out of regret and the sense of "What the hell were we thinking, watching this as kids?" like it is in North America (specifically, the United States). A lot of Australian children born in the late '80s to very early 1990s will fondly remember watching Captain Planet. Not only was it on the free-to-air channel The ABC, but it was in a perfect timeslot with popular shows on either side of it. Sadly, to the despair of several viewers, the ABC no longer has broadcasting rights.
    • It is perhaps due to this that, as of 2017, Australia is one of the only two countries in the world (New Zealand being the other one) to have the complete series of Captain Planet released on DVD.
  • Growing the Beard: By seasons 5 and 6, the animation and narration become less error-prone and much more fluid and clean. To compensate, perhaps, the season six opening gets changed into a cheesy rap song.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • One episode is about rhino horns and how poaching might make them extinct. Watching it 20 years later might make some people cringe knowing what happened to the western black rhino...
    • Linka's from the Soviet Union, and more eco-savvy than Wheeler. But look up the Aral formerly known as Sea sometime.
    • If the Planeteer Alerts about pollution from cars had been taken more seriously, there probably wouldn't be this much smog over big cities today.
    • As of the OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes crossover, any time Wheeler bickers with the other Planeteers, since eventually the group broke up due to infighting and went to "find real jobs".
    • In "Mind Pollution", Linka's cousin Boris gets hooked on a designer drug called "Bliss", and gets Linka hooked, too. A decade or so later, designer drug "Krokodil" had similar effects on actual Russians. Except worse.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: The If it's Doomsday, this must be Belfast episode, which one segment dealt with Wheeler managing to talk down both the Catholics and Protestants from nuclear detonation along with getting them on a peaceful relationship, became more heartwarming 6 years later with 1998 Good Friday Agreement. Though tensions and terrors do occur after that, especially in the end of 1990s, the results have been far more positive with the sectarian violence winding down and both Sinn Fein (Catholic) and Democratic Unionist Party (Protestant) sharing power in Northern Ireland parliament in 2013.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Another teenager with a Noo Yawk accent who just happens to be named Wheeler and is voiced by Joey Dedio, and is taken to be an idiot, several years before Yu-Gi-Oh!. Also, his element is fire. Fire is traditionally linked to agitated feelings, such as being Hot-Blooded or being angry. A specific type of anger is called rage. Wheeler is from Brooklyn. So what the show is trying to say is that Joey Wheeler, from Brooklyn, has Rage.
    • If you follow the story arcs of That Guy with the Glasses, it's hard to look at Ma-Ti in the same way again.
    • The romantic B-plot of "The Great Tree Heist." Wheeler — inner-city boy with power over Fire — spends the whole episode hitting on a girl they meet named Jenny, causing his love interest — tomboy Linka — to get jealous. The episode ends with the two girls hitting it off and walking off together, leaving a disappointed Wheeler watching after them. It's plays out exactly like a condensed version of the romance arc of another Elemental Powers-themed show, right down to the types of characters involved, except it was made twenty-some years earlier.
    • David Warner voiced Zarm, then went onto voice Ra's Al-ghul, a character that could be described as being the complete opposite (Zarm wanted to destroy Earth's environment, Ra's wanted to save it), on Batman: The Animated Series.
  • Memetic Loser: Ma-Ti. To the point that this very Wiki named a trope after the supposed lameness of his powers. When in actuality, Heart Is an Awesome Power, and much more practical than say, his fellow Planteer Wheeler's ability to accidentally burn down a forest if he's not careful.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    Looten Plunder: You'll pay for this, CAPTAIN PLANET!
    • You go onto a forum and shout "EARTH!", then there is a good chance that the next four posts will be the other elements, followed by the rest of the summoning sequence. Whenever someone isn't intentionally going to pull a Combo Breaker, that is.
    • "The power is yours!", if only because it actually is a good moral no matter what it's applied to.
    • And let's not forget the season 6 theme song. "MEGA MAC DADDY OF ECOLOGY!"
    • Even several decades after the show broadcasted, people still occasionally label (with great amounts of sarcasm) an antagonist that plans ecological devastation for the sake of Cartoonish Supervillainy a "'Captain Planet' villain".
  • Misaimed Fandom: The reason for the Flanderization and Cartoonish Supervillainy is so that not everyone who has an environmental impact is seen as a Corrupt Corporate Executive who just wants to destroy the environment For the Evulz. However, some activists do see Plunder or Blight or Greedily and see every logger, every miner, every dam, as a complete monster who wants to cut down all the trees or kill all the animals or dig up the entire world simply for the sheer joy of harming mother nature.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Dr. Blight is typical Mad Scientist who performs said experiments either for profit, For the Evulz, or For Science! But she crossed the line when she tries selling a nuclear bomb to the Captain Ersatz Hitler. The Planeteers even said that it was low even for her.
    • Verminus Skumm distributes a deadly drug called "Bliss" to those who crave it, including Linka and her cousin Boris, and hundreds of innocent people become deranged in search of more of the stuff. And although they manage to save Linka, Boris ends up dying of a drug overdose.
  • Narm:
    • The infamous Fu-Manchu Hitler episode, wherein Captain Planet is defeated with just a stare.
    • The entirety of If it's Doomsday, this must be Belfast, from the wild historical inaccuracies about all of the world conflicts presented, to outright Hysterical "dialogue" between each member of the conflict.
    "My Brother is a freedom fighter!"
    "Ah! You mean a terrorist!"
    • When Gi mentions that after the hypothetical bomb that Jerusalem was "only a memory", she seems awfully indifferent towards the destruction of the holiest sites in Abrahamic Religions judging by the way she said it.
    • The randomly appearing images of Civil Rights leaders in "Teers In the Hood", whose symbolism becomes muddled when the focus of the episode is explicitly on gang violence as opposed to racial violence. Also crosses over into Nightmare Fuel due to the graphic nature of some of the images we see interspersed throughout the episode.
    • Many a fan have taken delight in mocking Wheeler for his name. Hell, a lot of his mannerisms that scream of American stereotypes may also qualify.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: The NES game, an uncanny mix between a Shoot 'em Up and a Platform Hell with horrible controls. The Sega Genesis game wasn't much better, either.
  • Rooting for the Empire: Some fans actually wanted the Eco Villains to win. The writers themselves must have caught this because they made it happen in "Whoo Gives a Hoot?" by having Looten Plunder succeed in clear-cutting a forest where endangered animals lived and even rubbed his success in the Planeteers' faces. Needless to say, it was quite a Downer Ending.
  • Snark Bait: The cheesy, bizarre, Narm-filled, ill-fitting intro for Season 6 has been met with much derision.
  • So Bad, It's Good:
    • For some fans, the show's cheesiness and heavy-handed messages are ridiculous but enjoyably so.
    • Rather than be met with scorn, "If It's Doomsday, This Must Be Belfast" is more likely to be enjoyed by anyone from Belfast or who grew up during The Troubles. Its epic failures in research, ridiculous stereotypes, bad accents, and over-the-top message are a joy to behold.
    • Again, the season 6 theme song can be seen as this.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped:
    • As Narm-tastic as this show could be, sometimes it tackled some tough subjects that few to no other animated shows dared to tackle. The episode centered around AIDS ("A Formula For Hate") in particular was a bold move, as there was a ton of misinformation about AIDS and HIV in the early '90s (for example, that only gay people carry it) and the message that people with the disease should not be treated like freaks was something that, frankly speaking, was badly needed at the time.
    • "If It's Doomsday, This Must Be Belfast" depicts six subjects of opposite "sides" as being given nuclear bomb codes, and at the end, four of them (the Irish and the Israelis) become friends with one another as a result of the experience of realising they were duped and played against one another. Meanwhile in South Africa, the remaining two factions are more understanding, but the ending clearly depicts that they are not friends and never will be — merely less outright hostile towards one another. It's a pretty powerful message that some wounds and divisions will never be healed, and some people never will change their opinions.
    • One episode has the segment at the end mention that radiation in the right amounts can actually be used to treat illnesses (such as cancer) with the emphasis being "the right amount".
  • Squick: Sly Sludge is often pretty disgusting, as in the episode "An Inside Job", where he is seen happily smelling the fumes coming from a sewage pressure control valve while he tries to drown the Planeteers in waste. In "Kwame's Crisis", Sly even buries an entire town in garbage. Because the citizens of the town have lost all hope for trying to even be clean, they simply throw their trash wherever they wish, so in one scene, we get to see a woman open up a baby's diaper and toss it away, visibly showing the urine inside. "Old Ma River" also had no problems showing characters going through areas full of raw sewage, nor did it have any problems with depicting emaciated equine corpses, one of which was a vulture-covered cow carcass floating around in the Ganges River. Linka ends up getting battered by the cow's corpse, making her, Kwame, Gi, and Ma-Ti sick, when they save her.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Wheeler suffered having his valid complaints and observations dismissed as wrong a lot, but the worst example is probably "Numbers Game":
    • Firstly, the writers cheat by having Gi put words in his mouth when he asks the perfectly reasonable question of why people keep having kids they can't support.
    • Secondly, the writers cheat by having Wheeler be "irresponsible" in a situation he had absolutely no control over (a dream).
    • Finally, just when Wheeler is getting the upper hand by calling out Kwame's hypocrisy of wasting money and electricity and his Lame Comeback that having two kids means he's "Allowed" to, the writers cheat by having Gaia butt in and change the subject.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: The theme song is a pretty blatant sound-alike of "Step By Step" by New Kids on the Block, a song that was released a mere four months before the series debuted.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: The intro for season 6 was drastically different from the seasons 1-5 one and met with much scorn.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The two episodes centering on overpopulation ("Population Bomb" and "Numbers Game") fail to mention adoption in any way.
  • Unusual Euphemism: A likely unintentional one occurs by the Planeteers themselves in the episode "Population Bomb" when Gi (who remember, is the Asian member) says that in some countries, the government "recommends" that families only have two children. "Recommend" might be an understatement in most cases. Hell while Gi's exact home country isn't revealed, she'd be very lucky if it turns out she's from a country like China.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Some episodes do deal with issues that aren't about the environment, like drugs (Linka and her cousin getting addicted to drugs and Linka's cousin dying from it), HIV/AIDS (the infamous episode about a basketball player's life being ruined when he contracts HIV), and racial violence (the episode about "The Troubles", the one where the Planeteers try to stop a gang war, and the episode where they go back in time to Nazi Germany to stop Dr. Blight from selling nuclear weapons to Adolf Hitler and thus suddenly turning the tide of World War II in the Axis's favor). Those are remembered more than the others, either because they were campy as hell or because viewers were amazed and shocked that a kids' TV show can show such adult issues. However, the team did use child psychologists to review the script on the most controversial episodes.


Example of: