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YMMV / Carmen Sandiego

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For the 2019 animated show:

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: In the first season finale, when Coach Brunt tries to kill Carmen via a bear hug, was she really trying to kill her for her betrayal or because she thought that giving her a quick death would be far better than whatever V.I.L.E. planned to do with her?
  • And You Thought It Would Fail: When the first trailer premiered, it was praised for it's appealing art style but otherwise expected to be no more special than any other reboot that was capitalizing on both millennial nostalgia and "wokeness" by turning a Villain Protagonist from the '90s into a hero. Thanks to positive word of mouth about it's gripping plot and excellent characterization once it premiered, it quickly became one of Netflix's most popular animated shows and is largely seen as one of the best reboots ever.
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  • Awesome Art: DHX Media does a great job updating the character designs into a hugely appealing outline-free art style and the animation itself it gorgeous, especially the fight choreography. The backgrounds also do the numerous geographical locations justice.
  • Awesome Music:
    • It wouldn't be Carmen Sandiego without an awesome theme song.
    • Zack and Ivy's karaoke duet of "More Than A Feeling" by (who else?) Boston in "The Daisho Caper."
    • Both of them also get to do a free-style version for the iconic Rockapella "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego" theme song in the "To Steal or Not to Steal" special. It's taken Up to Eleven when almost every one in the cast, including the main villains, sing the full song together in the unlockable bonus scene.
  • Broken Base: Zack and Ivy's Hollywood New England schtick. The show never stops reminding the audience that they're Bostonian. Some find it charming or even so stereotypical it Crosses the Line Twice and becomes hilarious. Others find it annoying or even distracting.
  • Character Rerailment:
    • Julia's role in the first season is mostly to be the Only Sane Man of the duo of her and Chase compared to her Treasure of Knowledge counterpart, where she was an active agent with a personal history with Carmen. Near the end of the season, she finally stands up for herself against Chase shortly before V.I.L.E. captures him. In the season two premiere, the A.C.M.E. Chief promotes Julia to an agent without Devineaux as a partner, giving her a chance to shine.
    • Chase's characterization in the first season essentially boiled down to "act first, think later", a far cry from the competent detective his games counterpart was. Season 2 re-rails his original role as being Carmen's equal by showing that when he actually applies some brain power, he becomes very competent, to the point that he was able to locate V.I.L.E headquarters with just a few hints (although by the time he goes to apprehend them, they're long gone).
  • Crosses the Line Twice
    • The scene where Carmen mentions that Dr. Bellum's imitation rice tastes gross. She says that when she was a toddler, they fed some to her. It wouldn't be funny given the scheme to ruin Indonesia's rice crops so that the locals have to buy the imitation rice, except that toddler Carmen tries one spoonful, takes a Beat, and starts crying. So at least we know it's safe for consumption.
    • As mentioned above, for many, the show's near-constant jokes about Zack and Ivy being from Hollywood New England starts off kind of funny, then gets annoying fast, then just keeps getting more and more stereotypical until it's hilarious.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Despite having a comparatively smaller role to other characters, Paper Star received a lot of love for her unique design and Ax-Crazy personality.
    • Mime Bomb, despite having much fewer appearances than the other V.I.L.E. graduates has quite a few fans and a surprisingly large Estrogen Brigade.
  • Epileptic Trees: Pretty much the minute "The Deep Dive Caper" revealed that Carmen's mother is still alive, fans started guessing that her true identity is that of Cookie Booker, given how similar she looks to the woman seen in flashbacks. As a bonus, Cookie is voiced by Rita Moreno, so making her Carmen's mother would be a nice Mythology Gag.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop:
    • Sometimes to do what's right, you have to turn your back on the people who love you and raised you with compassion.
    • If you commit an atrocity that estranges you from your family and later attempt to make up for what you did, you might not be Easily Forgiven, no matter how far you go to make up for it or how sorry you are. This is shown with Shadow-san's brother, who doesn't automatically forgive his younger brother for abandoning him for a life of crime even after he returns the swords.
    • Good Is Not Nice, and sometimes heroes will make costly mistakes. The Chief is the reason why Carmen's father died, and why Shadow-san brought Carmen as a baby to V.I.L.E. island.
  • Fandom-Specific Plot:
    • Plots about Gray getting his memories back are gaining steam in the fandom, especially among people who ship him with Carmen.
    • Plots about V.I.L.E kidnapping a member of Team Carmen are also popular. Bonus points if they nab Player, thanks to the sheer Adult Fear such a situation would create. "To Steal or Not to Steal" ended using this plot, with Zack and Ivy being the victims.
  • Fanon: A lot of fans like to think of Le Chevre and El Topo as actually dating, due to the Ho Yay between them (see below).
  • Friendly Fandoms:
    • There are plenty of fans of this show who are also fans of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power and Kim Possible, thanks to the similarities between them.
    • The art style has reminded plenty of fans of Wild Kratts, causing an overlap between the two fandoms. Bonus points since both of these shows are modern adaptations of PBS edutainment shows from the 90s.
    • Fans of Carmen probably would be fans of ''Where's Waldo.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Shadow-san deterring Carmen from a life in crime makes it hard to look at in "The Daisho Caper" when it's revealed that this way of thinking caused him to lose his connections with his older brother; he doesn't want Carmen to repeat the same mistakes he did.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight:
    • Shadow-san is the only V.I.L.E. teacher that still refers to as Carmen by her childhood moniker, "Black Sheep," even when saving her life in the first season finale. It's because he wanted her to escape the V.I.L.E. lifestyle before she was forced to commit murder or Trapped in Villainy. Shadow-san is essentially saying that no matter how much Carmen grows, she is still his child.
    • Shadow-san disapproving of Carmen wanting to become a thief becomes this when Coach Brunt reveals in "The African Ice Caper" that Carmen's father tried to defect from V.I.L.E., and Shadow-san as a young trainee was sent to kill him. Shadow-san was honoring her father's memory by trying to steer her from a life of crime.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Less than a year before "The Chasing Paper Caper," someone far less stealthy than V.I.L.E. tried to steal the Magna Carta.
  • Ho Yay: Those Two Guys El Topo and Le Chevre are rather close to each other; they never go on missions without each other, their areas of expertise complement each other (the former prefers going underground, the latter prefers going up high), they give each other pet names (including "mon ami", which typically only shows up in fiction in a romantic sense), and if one is in danger, the other will most likely prioritize rescuing him over whatever mission they have at the time. Dr. Bellum even refers to El Topo as Le Chèvre's "dear boy".
  • Idiosyncratic Ship Naming: Carmen/Gray is called Red Crackle.
  • Inferred Holocaust: When the Chief talks to Chase, she mentions that V.I.L.E. is probably behind most of the economic and social disasters that occur all over the world, though due to their secrecy it's hard to be certain.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Shadow-san. What was initially a gruff teacher who stopped Carmen from becoming a thief, it is revealed that he was trying to steer her away from a life of crime and wished to join her when she left the island at the end of Season 1. Season 2 gives him a focus episode, showing how his desire for wealth and power caused a rift between him and his brother and he wants to return the sword that he had stolen as an act of forgiveness. The end of the episode has Shadow-san on his hands and knees, stating he doesn't deserve forgiveness and only asks to make amends. His older brother says nothing and just walks away in silence.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Carmen herself quickly became this. Her most popular ships are with Julia, Ivy, Paper Star, Chase and Gray.
  • Les Yay: There might be some with Julia and Carmen in "The Chasing Paper Caper" due to how Carmen compliments this poor Beleaguered Assistant on the train and how Julia reacts. It gets more blatant when Carmen specifically asks her to help steal the Medici gowns in "The Fashionista Caper", with Julia acting very flustered the whole way through like a schoolgirl with a crush. It does help that in Treasure of Knowledge, Julia and Carmen did have history together as partners and Julia spent the majority of the game begging Carmen to go back to Acme. Taken even further in the "To Steal or Not to Steal" interactive special. It is entirely possible to complete your objective without ever interacting with Julia, but the special's Golden Ending requires Carmen to put her trust in Julia for her rescue operation, which at one point involves Julia dressing up as Carmen. Once that's successfully completed, Carmen returns everything she stole for V.I.L.E. to Julia's apartment door, along with a bouquet of red roses. And Julia blushes in response.
  • LGBT Fanbase: A lot of lesbian/bi women really like this incarnation of Carmen, especially her Les Yay scene with Julia. In counterpart, gay/bi men like this incarnation of Chase, due to his rough good looks.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Why is Carmen Sandiego? note  Alternatively, "How is Carmen Sandiego?"note 
    • "Shadow San is a Hanzo Main"note 
    • Dumb Bitch Juice note 
    • The V.I.L.E. Furry Squadnote 
  • Moe: We get to see Carmen as a child at various points in the series, and she is absolutely adorable.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • From "Becoming Carmen", Crackle preparing to kill that kindly old man who opened Carmen's eyes, and taught her what V.I.L.E. truly stood for, was considered this to Carmen.
    • To reinforce that what happened in the pilot was not just a one-time thing, the first scheme Carmen foils onscreen is Dr. Bellum releasing spores that would eat up all of Indonesia's rice crops, and force the locals to buy Dr. Bellum's nasty-tasting imitation rice. V.I.L.E. would starve innocents to make a profit.
    • And in the final episode of the first season, Coach Brunt clamped a mind probe to Chase’s head and stated that if the probe was on his head for too long, there would be permanent brain damage!
  • Older Than They Think: Carmen has always been averse to V.I.L.E. villains using violence, especially in the 1994 Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? series, where she got absolutely livid when her henchmen Lee Jordan tried to kill the protagonists. She was also perfectly willing to deal with criminals who were far worse than she was.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The kind man who leads the archaeological dig in the second episode, since it is through him that Carmen becomes the thief she is today.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name:
    • Carmen/Chase is called CarChase.
    • Carmen/Julia is called Carulia or Julmen.
    • Carmen/Ivy is called Carmivy.
    • Le Chevre/El Topo is called Jeantonio.
    • Chase/Mime Bomb is called ChaseBomb.
  • Ships That Pass in the Night: A small but dedicated part of the fandom ship Mime Bomb/Chase, despite the fact that the characters have spent very little time together, and the likelihood that Chase would never go for a villain, which Mime Bomb is.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: Considered by many to be a better reboot of The Magic School Bus than the actual Magic School Bus reboot Netflix also did. Like the original MSB, Carmen Sandiego uses a strong narrative and character arcs for the sake of edutainment rather than trying to shoehorn an Excuse Plot into an educational lesson (if anything, it's the opposite), which was a major complaint of The Magic School Bus Rides Again. Bonus points for both of them being Scholastic properties.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • A sizeable number of fans were upset at the show making Carmen more heroic (though she is technically still a thief herself), due to it being both an origin story and a Continuity Reboot of the source games.
    • Similarly, there are complaints about how different Ivy and Zack are when compared to their original Where on Earth? incarnations.
    • And there are fans that don’t like how different Chase Devineaux is when compared to his original incarnation in the computer games either. Season 2 makes him much more competent however.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Gray/Crackle. We get to see his and Carmen's relationship in "Becoming Carmen", but after he gets arrested, he has his memories of his criminal life erased and returns to Sydney to be an electrician. Carmen gets to interact with him briefly with his memory wiped but decides to spare him from her quest to undo V.I.L.E. since it might be dangerous for one or both of them. It would have been interesting to see more of his development. However, "The Crackle Goes Kiwi Caper" has him return as a major (if initially unwitting) player in the episode's heist, and ends with A.C.M.E. scouting him out under the impression he's one of Carmen's allies.
  • We're Still Relevant, Dammit!: In Episode 7, Player is shown with a fidget spinner. Of course, fidget spinners do have a functional use beyond being the current "popular toy"; their main, original purpose (and similar toys have existed since the 90s) is for focusing, stress-relief and anxiety, and popular as a stim toy for those with ADHD and Autism - as Player is shown as a teen genius with a major focus on computers and hacking, it is not unreasonable that he may have the fidget spinner because of those or related reasons.
  • Win the Crowd:
    • The trailer showing off the series' art style drew plenty of fans to the show.
    • Many fans have praised the series, saying that this is a proper reboot.
  • What an Idiot!: At the end of season 2, Carmen gifts the Chief with a V.I.L.E. hard drive, but doesn't explicitly take her up on her offer to join A.C.M.E.
    • You'd expect: For the Chief to check what's on the hard drive before uploading it.
    • Instead: She immediately uploads it to her organization's computers.
    • The result: The hard drive contains a virus, which Player uses to hack into A.C.M.E. databases. The Chief is lucky that Team Carmen was just looking to confirm Shadow-san's story instead of anything worse.
    • For bonus stupidity points: The password the Chief uses for her ultra top-secret organization's computers is the name of her cat, and not anything more secure. Which she casually shared with an asset of (from her perspective) questionable trustworthiness.
  • The Woobie:
    • Though Carmen would probably beat up anyone who pities her, she needs a hug after she finds out that Shadow-san failed her on his pick-pocketing final, and infers that he did it on purpose because the other teachers favour her. He was trying to keep her out of the thieving business, but she didn’t know that. Then it goes From Bad to Worse when she learns that working for V.I.L.E. would mean killing recklessly, and she makes the decision to defect and run away, turning her back on terrible people who love her. The only clue she has about her past is Russian nesting dolls, but she's questioning if the story V.I.L.E. told her about being an abandoned baby in Argentina was true. It also doesn't help that compared to most of the students, she's a Child Prodigy, which makes her seem more alone when she defects.
    • Poor Julia Argent; no matter what she does to convince Chase that Carmen has good intentions, she is brushed off every single time. Despite this, she remains calm and level about doing her job and catching Carmen, or at least finding the objects she stole, and Carmen gives her a moment of Villain Respect in "The Magna Carta Caper". She finally gets some respect when the Chief praises her for her knowledge on Vermeer's paintings, but Chase in the pilot belittles her for knowing "dry" facts. In Chase's defense, he does realize he's been rude to her in the first season finale.
    • Chase gets his own turn in Season 2, banished to Interpol's file room as the Chief seemingly just washes her hands of him after his repeated failures. And even after managing to locate VILE's base all on his own, they've already cleared out by the time he gets there and he ends up stranded on the island for a week, and is flippantly fired from Interpol upon being rescued. It's no wonder he jumps at the chance to go after Carmen harder than ever when ACME comes back to him.


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