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YMMV / Dexter's Laboratory

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  • Alas, Poor Scrappy: Dexter wishing away Koosalagoopagoop, and he reluctantly complies. Even if you didn't like the character, you can still feel pity for him, and tell why Dee Dee and even Dexter were upset at it happening. And then he comes back a few episodes later...
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Thanks to FusionFall (and mildly Ego Trip), Dexter has been seen as Badass Bookworm and a charismatic leader of men.
    • Quite a few fans believe he has Asperger's syndrome, or something similar.
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    • One could argue that Dexter's Mom has a form of OCD, especially if the Mother's Day episode is anything to go by.
    • Dee-Dee is often seen as having a form of ADHD.
    • How much of this show is just happening in Dexter's head? The constant Reset Button could be an indication of this.
    • Is Dexter actually the smarter sibling, or just the more motivated one? There are plenty of episodes that indicate Dee-Dee actually understands all of Dexter's technology (sometimes better than Dexter does), she just doesn't have the inclination to put her knowledge to use.
    • Considering the somewhat unethical nature of some of Dexter's experiments opens up another can of worms entirely. Does Dexter have a darker side, is this the normal scientific train of thought, or is Dexter just a young and somewhat naive kid whose moral compass is still being formed?
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    • Is Dee Dee an intentionally annoying sibling, oblivious to how annoying she can be, or is she just a sister who wants to bond with her nerdy, introverted little brother? A little of them all? Even the show itself varies on her.
    • Is Dexter truly tormented by his sister? Or is it really his own inflated ego causing him problems? Dexter fancies himself as some kind of genius but for some reason he makes some of the most ridiculously flawed and impractical inventions that are easily destroyed by Dee Dee. In the same note, is Dee Dee tormenting Dexter for lulz, or is she really trying to teach him to improve as an inventor/designer and see the flaws of his own designs that he ignores (or outright refuses) to see due to his own ego? Consider "Dexter's Assistant," in which Dexter makes Dee Dee intelligent and articulate so she can be his lab assistant, only for him to ignore all of her (correct) predictions that his experiments will fail and suffer as a result. He even takes his anger out on the Cymbal-Banging Monkey that she gives him before leaving!
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    • In "Dimwit Dexter," are the neighborhood kids pointing and laughing at Dexter's mental breakdown-induced stupidity or are they entertained by how off-the-wall his antics are? Consider how they both chant his name and cheer when he kisses a duck's butt at the end.
    • The nameless Voiceless creepy eyed girl from "Aye Aye Eyes" has a crush on Dexter and Dexter assumes that if he doesn't become her boyfriend she would tell everyone about his secret laboratory despite the fact the girl never speaks in the entire episode. Question is that is she really mute or is Dexter not taking any chances in case she really does talk.
  • Awesome Music: Thomas Chase and Steve Rucker's music for the show really pushed the limits of music for comedy cartoons and especially the capabilities of a synthesized orchestra circa 1995. The John Williams-esque opening theme alone features epic brass, swelling strings, and even choral vocals, while the incidental music features various homages to classic sci-fi. Not only does it all sound like a real movie score, but it makes for a hilarious contrast to the comedy.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Dee-Dee is seen as either a good foil to Dexter or an annoying pest. Not helping is the fact that she suffers pretty badly from Depending on the Writer and can come off as being unacceptably cruel to her brother at times.
    • Koosalagoopagoop. Pray his antics charm you, otherwise the episode just got a whole lot more annoying.
  • Best Known for the Fanservice: One of things most fans will remember about this show are Dexter's Mom's generous set of Hartman Hips.
    • Similarly, the Touchy-Feely neighbor in "Nuclear Confusion" for the same reason, especially in the scene where she bends over and has the words Dad's Trophy branded across her large butt.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • The part of "Continuum of Cartoon Fools" where Dexter holds a stopwatch while periodically saying 'BAAAAWT'. Those who have ever did timing scripts for animation dialogue know exactly what he's doing. Word of God says that he was timing a storyboard of the cartoon itself - yet indeed, there was no other reason to put it besides the fact that it was funny.
    • "Oh, just shut up and make me a sandwich."
    • The ending of "That Crazy Robot!" where Dexter shoots lasers from his eyes.
    • The part in "Dexter is Dirty" where Dee Dee, for lack of any better way to put it, teleports. And not just for an aside joke either, but literally warping into the bathroom while Dexter's taking a bath to give him his laminated lab ID and then teleporting out. Dexter doesn't even remotely seemed bothered by this.
    • The entire Chubby Cheese pizza show scene in "Chubby Cheese". Especially the flying people at the end.
      • Turns out that last part was actually an animation error brought on by the Korean animation staff misunderstanding instructions from the US storyboard artists telling them that the audience should "take off" (as in leave) at the end of the song due to a language barrier. Instead of telling the animators to do it over, the editors decided to leave it in the episode and even added an accompanying sound effect to make it funnier.
  • Cargo Ship: Dexter really loves his computer. And the feeling's mutual.
  • Crossover Ship:
    • Pairing up Dexter and Blossom is surprisingly popular. It's a Theme Pairing as they're both Child Prodigy redheads.
    • And in a lesser extent, Dexter and Buttercup - which, interestingly, is actually supported to a small degree by canon: in a vocal announcement back in the late 90's/early 2000's in during one of the credits, it was announced that Dexter has a crush on Buttercup, because she's sassy. There were even hints in a few Cartoon Network games, such as in the Cartoon Network online game "Cartoon Cartoons Summer Resort", where Buttercup pointed out the feeling was mutual, and the two danced at the disco. And their interactions aren't even Belligerent Sexual Tension either, as others would suspect.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Mandark gets this treatment a lot. It helps that he's just more of an ass than an actual villain.
    • Dexter is a somewhat mild case of this. Although Dee Dee is generally the antagonist, there are several episodes in which Dexter is genuinely being a jerk to her when she doesn't really deserve it, verbally abusing her when her worst crime is being nosy. He's also used her as a human guinea pig several times, including performing an unnecessary brain surgery on her for his benefit. Some viewers tend to forget that both siblings are capable of being jerks to each other and that Dexter is not 100% innocent, and neither is Dee Dee.
  • Ear Worm:
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • The shorts "Dial M for Monkey" and "The Justice Friends" are just as popular if not more so than the main Dexter shorts, in a better case, the latter.
    • Lisa the babysitter. She only appears in a very early episode of the series and never shows up again after that. But look up any fanart of her and you'd be surprised at how much of it there is. Guess why.
      • For similar reason The Touchy-Feely Neighbor Lady and Candi, the Dee Dee replacement, are widely remembered despite only appearing in one episode.
    • Mandark's abrasive younger sister and Dee Dee's rival-turned-friend Lalavava only appeared in one episode, yet has a substantial amount of fanart, enough to have gained her own category in some fandom groups for the show.
    • Lee Lee, one of Dee Dee's friends, is one of these
    • Douglas Mordecai, one of Dexter's friends, despite being a borderline Satellite Characte. He is popular because he is the only character Dexter could talk to like a human being.
    • Val Halen has a ton of fangirls.
    • The Puppet Pals. Some people wished they had their own Spin-Off (the closest we got were some live-action segments featuring the duo to fill time in some eps).
    • The robot parrot from "The Parrot Trap", thanks to its statements making the episode one of the funniest in the show's history.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: For many fans, it's everything after Ego Trip.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:
    • This show was very popular in Japan, likely due to Dexter being a bizarre scientist and Dee Dee being the show's resident Moe girl.
    • For similar reasons, it was also well liked in South Korea.
  • Genius Bonus: A lot of gags on the show are science references, some of which are fairly obscure.
  • Growing the Beard: While the first season is by no means considered bad, season two is when it officially grew beyond just another Hanna-Barbera cartoon into something more ambitious, phasing out the other two segments and experimenting more with high-stakes action and visual storytelling, all without sacrificing the comedy. Not only did this give the show a stronger voice of it's own, but it became the wind-up for everything Genndy and co. would later do for Samurai Jack.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In one of the DC Comics stories, Dexter finds a comic book based off of his own life, however the last page shows that somehow in the comic, he died. Dexter's first voice actress, Christine Cavanaugh, would pass away in 2014.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Ho Yay: The end of "Sun, Surf, and Science" has Mandark walking away with the boy in an awfully chummy manner.
  • Idiot Plot: The episode "Sis-Tem Error" has Dee Dee accidentally shutting off the lab's power and spending the rest of the episode tricking Dexter into thinking nothing is wrong by disguising herself badly as Computer, Robot and Mandark.
  • Incest Yay Shipping:
    • Dexter and his mother. All in favor of never discussing this any further? AYE!
    • As mentioned, Dexter and Dee-Dee shippers due to jokes in the series.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Dexter and/or Dee Dee, depending on the episode.
  • Memetic Molester: Whether ironically or not, many have branded Koosalagoopagoop a pedophile after the scene where he forcibly shoves a Pepe Wrap into Dexter's mouth.
  • Memetic Loser: Dexter's Dad. While the show implies The Loins Sleep Tonight with his wife, Rule 34 fanart tends to deptict anyone/everyone (Fan-Preferred Couple and One-Scene Wonder) except him with his own wife!
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "DEXTER'S SECRET".
    • "MY HAIR IS ON FIRE!"
    • "Omelette du fromage!"
    • "You are stupid! You are stupid! And don't forget: you are stupid!"
    • "Feed me. FEEEEED meeee... Fee-hee-hee-hee-d meee-heeee!"
    • "Dexter's a cookie!"
      • All of "The Parrot Trap". All of it.
  • Moe: The three Adorkable main characters of the series: Dexter, Dee Dee, and Mandark.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Lisa the Babysitter from the episode "Babysitter Blues" where she is a main character.
    • Creepy Eyed Girl manages to be one of the most remembered characters in the show despite only appearing once and having no lines.
    • The dog-brained dinosaur left quite an impression, so much so that some feel he should've been added to the cast as a regular.
    • The Neighbor Lady from the episode "Nuclear Confusion", more for the gag about the words "Dad's Trophy" branded across her massive butt cheeks.
  • Periphery Demographic: Lots of teenagers and adults love this show.
  • Seasonal Rot: Seasons 3 and 4, the two seasons made without the Samurai Jack-bound Genndy Tartakovsky after the show was Un-Cancelled, are considered this due to lackluster plots (with slow pacing), Flanderization, and a new more bland-looking art style. Plus, they got rid of the Justice Friends and Dial M for Monkey segments. Oh, let's not forget that the two final seasons are about everything, but the laboratory mentioned in the title. Most storylines of the new episodes involve Dexter playing chess, Dad playing Golf, DeeDee dying Dexter's hair blonde, and so on. In fact, the final episodes of the show are about: a) Dexter and Dee Dee learning Karate; b) Dexter writing poetry; c) Dee Dee going nuts over an ostrich. The fact that the revival seasons were aired during CN's parent company Time Warner's merger with AOL which became "the biggest mistake in corporate history" didn't help matters at all.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: It's strange to think that many of the pop culture references in this show are to movies, comics and games that had only niche geek appeal in 1995, such as The Avengers, Dungeons & Dragons, and even some of the less famous scenes from Star Wars, now that they've all become accepted parts of greater popular culture. Alternatively, many of these references are actually funnier now that more people recognize them (it helps that they were all genuine Author Appeal rather than cheep references, meaning they hold up better).
  • Self-Fanservice:
    • Dexter and Mandark get a lot of this in fanart.
    • Dee Dee gets her fair share of this, especially when most artists think she'll take after her mom. It doesn't help that Dexter once described Dee Dee as "her hips a bit meaty".
  • So Bad, It's Good: "Dexter and Computress Get Mandark" invokes this for laughs.
  • So Okay, It's Average:
    • Seems to be the general consensus behind the infamous "Dexter's Rude Removal" episode now that it's finally been released. Not really as offensive as expected with the amount of hype, and just generally meh.
    • For those who don't outright hate the post-movie seasons, they're usually considered this. They're humorous and some of the episodes are more memorable than others, but overall, it's nothing special compared to the rest of the show.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: The ending theme is a rather blatant sound-alike of the theme from Conan the Barbarian, which Genndy Tartakovsky has frequently cited as his favorite movie. They even got The Wizard (and future star of Genndy Tartakovsky's other show) to narrate over it!
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Olga/Lalavava. Not helped in that she doesn't even appear after Mandark's parents are revealed.
    • Douglas could've been a cool non-Dee Dee companion to Dexter, but he made very few appearances and sadly never evolved beyond a Satellite Character.
    • The same goes for the other kids seen in the Dungeons & Dragons episode.
    • Dexter's dog-brained dinosaur anyone?
    • The criminal mastermind and his evil organization who owns a Chuck E. Cheese-like restaurant in "Chubby Cheese". He even says they'll meet again after Dexter and Dee Dee escape. But nothing came of it. He could have been the Big Bad alongside Mandark.
    • Similarly, there's Matt Parallax, the head of the corrupt photo developing company from "Photo Finish." When he flees, he implies that he knows about the lab, but we never see him return. Much like the head of the evil organization running Chubby Cheese's, he could've been one of the central antagonists of the series.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Some fans think the Un-Cancelled episodes had some genuinely neat ideas (like a backstory for Mandark, more focus episodes for Dexter's parents, the return of "Go, Dexter's Family Go!", the Wacky Races parody episode, etc.) that were bogged down by lackluster writing and animation.
    • And then there's the belief that Dial "M" for "Monkey" and/or The Justice Friends (and to an extent, the TV Puppet Pals) were strong enough concepts for their own show.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • Most fans agree that the Un-Cancelled seasons used hideous character designs.
    • Invoked with "Creepy Eyed Girl" and her Spear Counterpart. They have giant eyes that look more like a Precious Moments character than Dexter characters.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic:
    • The numerous times Dexter is depicted as a Jerkass for yelling at Dee Dee don’t hold up due to the Made Out to Be a Jerkass usually being in play. Not to mention that when she isn’t destroying his lab, a lot of problems are cause because of her merciless teasing of him.
    • Mandark can be this, given (most) of his backstory.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Dee Dee whenever Dexter destroys something of hers for example in Down in The Dumps. The total disregard she shows for Dexter’s things and even Dexter at times makes it hard to feel sorry for her, especially since a lot of those instances were in retaliation for something she did. Her punishment in "Sdrawkcab" is one of the best examples. She makes Dexter puke his lunch out, get in trouble with his mother and even sent her own father to the hospital. Her only reaction to being called out on the awful things she's done is to just stay there and smile like an idiot. If not even dangerously harming her dad makes her feel bad in the slightest, then she might as well cross Moral Event Horizon.
  • Values Dissonance
    • There are an awful lot jokes that involve Dexter, who is implied to be prepubescent, naked or in his underwear. He's also frequently seen flirting with or being flirted with by older women. Cable TV viewers from the 90s would have found this acceptable, but not general audiences today who are far more sensitive to potentially sexual depictions of children in media.
    • In an age of greater LGBTQ+ awareness, Mandark's parents trying their hardest to feminize him feels a lot more cruel. It's obvious that the joke is supposed to be that clinical, evil Mandark was born to peace-loving flower child parents, but they also force him into a gender role he hates and give him a distinctly feminine name which he hates even more, both of which are common struggles for gay and transgender people. The modern progressive climate also makes it outright strange for ultra-liberal parents to aggressively gender their child and discourage an interest in science, two things modern liberals are vehemently against.
    • An inoffensive example. In one episode, Dexter meets a bunch of doll collectors who freak out when a collector's box is opened. This viewpoint is not quite as common as it was in the 1990s, as many doll collectors now open their boxes.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: While every episode is suitable for children, "Rude Removal" is not, given the fact that it has censored swearing throughout and a rather unfriendly title card to boot.
  • The Woobie:
    • Dexter, for those that don't see him as The Chew Toy. And to a few that do. He's especially Woobie-ish in "Old Man Dexter" when his family excludes him from movie night because he's not old enough to stay up late.
    • Mandark at the beginning of "Mandarker". This was before Mandark became the show's borderline Big Bad, so it counts.
    • Dee Dee, sometimes. It's implied that the reason she keeps going into Dexter's laboratory and annoying him is because she wants to spend time with her brother. Many younger siblings could relate to her.

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