American Dragon: Jake Long
OK, so that's almost all Disney Channel cartoons. More specifically, Jake Long is the "American Dragon", a cocky, brash youngster with the power to shapeshift into his reptilian alter-ego, serving as a sort of Superhero for the magical creatures that live in secret (Harry-Potter-style) in the human world.
Each episode is usually focused on completing a task brought on by his supernatural responsibility, and the conflict it brings with his personal life at school. His grandfather, who also has dragon powers, serves as his mentor and teacher. The series makes extensive use of fantasy and folklore creatures the world over, often with subtle twists for comedy purposes.
The biggest running plot lines are Jake's budding crush/romance with a girl named Rose, and his battles with a shadowy villain named The Huntsman and his sidekick
Thorn Huntsgirl, leaders of The Huntsclan.
Other recurring antagonists include Professor Rottwood, a German PhD who was discredited as a scientist for believing in the supernatural, and was forced to become a junior high school teacher (who, ironically, sees many of the supernatural events that happen around Jake) and Eli Excelsior Pandarus, a celebrity wizard and mystical equivalent to a Corrupt Corporate Executive, and Dark Dragon, reportedly the only of his kind to ever go bad.
The show's second season comes with a major overhaul of the design and style of the series, spearheaded by producer Steve Loter (also of Kim Possible). As of the end of season one, Rose now knows Jake's identity, but her real loyalty is still a matter of debate. As of the end of season two, Rose and Jake share a kiss and Jake's father finds out the family secret.
- Academy of Evil: The Huntsclan Academy.
- Achilles' Heel: Sphinx Hair for dragons. Usually, it is only used to force dragons back into their human forms, but the episode "Bite Father, Bite Son" suggests that Sphinx Hair is far more dangerous than that, and might even be fatal if dragons are exposed to it for too long.
- All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Spud.
- Alpha Bitch: Olivia's a grade-school variant. Also an Evil Redhead.
- Ancient Conspiracy: The Huntsclan.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Haley. However, she does get a bit of character development. By the end of the second season, she and Jake are on more understanding terms.
- Anti-Hero: Rose, Type III . Saving the Magical World by committing an act of genocide cements her as this.
- Jake himself, with his cocky and disrespectful attitude, could be considered a Type 2.
- Art Evolution: A permanent redesign of the characters and style starting in season 2, reminiscent of The Proud Family.
- As Himself: Monty Hall voices himself in two episodes. See The Cameo below.
- Asian and Nerdy: Subverted. Despite being half Chinese, Jake is obsessed with hip hop culture.
- Baby Talk: Rose mocks Jake in this way in "Ski Trip".
Rose: Aww, is the big, bad blizzard wind too much for your wittle dwagon fire?
- Back from the Dead: One episode focuses on The Huntsman trying to resurrect Huntsclan soldiers that have passed away with a magical beetle. When Jake makes it so that The Huntsman can't finish the spell, the hunters die once again. Done again with Jake's blood resurrecting The Dark Dragon.
- Badass Abnormal: It's easy to forget that dragon powers aside, Jake is trained and proficient in kung-fu. Besides his evil doppelganger humiliating Brad, Jake once smacked down giant four foot tall killer bugs without even bothering to dragon up.
- Badass Normal: Rose. Pretty much the entire Huntsclan, really, but when a fourteen-year-old girl built like a drinking straw is fighting huge firebreathing dragons to a standstill you know you don't want to get on her bad side.
- The Bad Guy Wins: "Being Human". Sure, Jake is safe and Chang and Bananas B get trapped in a cave, but they still succeed in their goal of resurrecting The Dark Dragon.
- Berserk Button: The Strigoi pushed Mr. Long's when they hurt Jake in "Bite Father, Bite Son".
- Beware of the Nice Ones: Jake's father and the Tooth Fairy. The first, when he sees his son in danger, gave a run for their money to the Strigoi and pushed the Jersey's Devil off a cliff, the second, in Hong Kong Knights, killed the Dark Dragon for ruining her dress by throwing i-beams at him with a crane.
- Big Bad: The Huntsman.
- Bigger Bad: The Dark Dragon.
- Bilingual Bonus: "Long" is the Mandarin word for "Dragon".
- Birthmark of Destiny: The Mark of the Huntsclan.
- Bittersweet Ending: "Homecoming", "Hong Kong Longs".
- Black Best Friend: Trixie.
- Bloodless Carnage: Averted in "Being Human" with a cut to Jake's arm and the blood also later appearing dripping from a hook because it was needed as a plot device.
- Played completely straight in the series finale when Rose slices off the tip of The Dark Dragon's tail with her Huntsclan staff.
- Bragging Theme Tune: Which also happens to contain a Boastful Rap in both versions.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Done by Fu Dog throughout the Christmas Episode.
Fu Dog: Hey there, kids. If you haven't guessed by now, this is the American Dragon Hokey Holiday Special. Like all holiday specials, it's about family, togetherness--blah, blah, blah and all that other sappy garbage. Alright, let's get on with the main titles before I hurl egg nog all over the snow right here.
- But Not Too Foreign: Jake.
- Captain Ersatz: Nigel is one of Harry Potter.
- Really? He reminded me of Negi.
- It could just be both, since the descriptions of both are so similar.
- The Cameo: Monty Hall as himself -- as a bad guy (one of Pandarus's flunkies). Later gets fired and is seen drinking away his troubles in a malt shop.
- Also Ingrid Third can be seen briefly in a crowd scene in Halloween Bash.
- Capulet Counterpart: Rose.
- Catch Phrase: "Awwwwww, man!"
- "Dragon up!"
- Chekhov's Gun: The photo of Jake and Rose at the school dance from the episode "Dragon Breath". In the series finale, it restores Rose's memories of her relationship with Jake and her life in the Huntsclan.
- The Chosen Many: Jake is one of many dragons from all around the world, giving a new meaning to "American Dragon".
- I also seem to recall that during a meet up with the rest of the dragons, Jake even got a bunch of crap for the position of American Dragon being brand new.
- Chemistry Can Do Anything
- Christmas Episode
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Rose's twin sister appeared as a baby in a flashback and was completely forgotten about by the time Rose found her parents.
- City of Adventure: Most episodes stick to New York, but there are field trips.
- Cliff Hanger: Quite a few:
- Body Guard Duty: "You should keep that in mind when you find out the dark, awful truth about Rose".
- The Rotwood Files: Rotwood tricks Jake into revealing himself as a dragon and vows to expose him one day.
- Being Human: Chang's spell works and The Dark Dragon comes Back from the Dead.
- YMMV, but Half Baked might qualify as well.
- Clip Show: A montage of clips from the past season is used over the end credits of the final episode.
- Cool Old Guy: Grandpa.
- Crash Into Hello: How Jake and Rose first meet.
- Creepy Crossdresser: The two goblins disguised as teen girls in "Body Guard Duty". However, Frank, the one with a blonde wig and sandals, took it too far.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: when the Jersey's Devil attacked Jake, Mr. Long mistook it for a bear and threw it down of a cliff.
- Cryptid Episode: The Jersey Devil is a Monster of the Week.
- Crystal Skull
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: A crazy dogcatcher once captured Fu and tried to turn him and many other dogs into dog food. When she was about to make Fu into dog food, Fu revealed to her that he could talk out of desperataion, hoping she would let him live in order to try and make many off him. But because she's crazy she doesn't care that he can talk and just carries on with her original plan.
- Cut Short: While The Huntsclan and The Dark Dragon are permanently defeated, it is obvious that "Hong Kong Longs" was not a planned finale. The fate of Jake and Rose's relationship is left ambiguous, Chang was spared so she could make a comeback, Rose's twin was never seen, and for pretty much every question that was answered by the end of the final episode, a new question only rose to take its place.
- Darker and Edgier: The second season is arguably darker than the first, complete with child abduction and onscreen genocide, although it is pulled off in a more "family friendly" way.
- Dating Catwoman: Jake and Rose in the second season.
- Deconstruction: To a certain extent. See What the Hell, Hero?.
- Dirty Coward: Bananas B.
- Disney Villain Death: The Jersey Devil.
- Maximinus from the episode "Supernatural Tuesday" gets one as well, although you actually see his body after he lands.
- Don't Fear the Reaper: While the Grim Reaper looks terrifying when you first see him, he is actually shown to be a talented prankster and is shown to be a fairly caring guy.
- Downer Ending: "Ski Trip", "The Hunted" and "The Love Cruise" all end on a depressing note.
- The irony in "Ski Trip" and "The Love Cruise" endings were that both episodes were set on Valentines Day.
- Dragons Up the Yin-Yang
- Education Through Pyrotechnics: Jake and Spud blow up the Huntsclan Academy lab while trying to brew a potion of dragon slaying.
- Epic Fail: Episode 1 shows a series of Description Cuts of Jake getting his butt kicked by magical creatures. The last group? Pixies.
- Evil Is Hammy: The Dark Dragon reveals what a Large Ham he is in the series finale.
The Dark Dragon: You have no idea of MY DARK POWERS!
- It helps that his Voice Actor is Clancy Brown.
- Evil Laugh: The Huntsman, The Dark Dragon and Eli Pardarus all have one. Pandarus' and The Dark Dragon's laughs are both lampshaded by Spud.
- Evil Sorcerer: Eli Panderas.
- Executive Meddling: The Korean Dragon was supposed to die in "Homecoming".
- Honestly, that's just the tip of the iceberg. The series creators had to fight tooth and nail for Jake to be allowed to breathe fire at anything that wasn't a fireplace, or fly around without elbowpads and a helmet.
- Face Heel Turn: Bananas B.
- Faking the Dead: How Jake escapes the Huntsclan Academy after he is captured.
- Fantastic Racism: The Huntsclan's hatred for dragons and other magical creatures. Likewise, The Dark Dragon and Chang's hatred for humans.
- Family-Friendly Firearms: The Huntsclan use energy-shooting melee weapons that are designed to not look anything like real weapons. (This aspect is reduced in the season two overhaul)
- Family-Unfriendly Death: Although the show abides by the law known as Never Say "Die", that doesn't mean that a magical creature's animated guts raining down on Jake and Haley after bursting is family friendly.
- Food Chain of Evil: While dragons aren't any more evil than a human being, the series does have the Stragori, vampires that only feed on dragon blood.
- Foot Focus: They show Jake's grandpa's feet a few times.
- Jake was barefoot himself in "Adventures in Troll-Sitting" since he was still in his pajamas.
- Foreshadowing: Rose, to Jake: "You can't save me."
- For Halloween I Am Going as Myself: "Halloween Bash".
- Freaky Friday Flip: A Magic Mirror does this to Jake and his little sister Haley, in "Switcheroo." An Aesop follows.
- At the end of a Season 1 episode, when the Nix had been defeated, Jake thought all sucked spirits returned to their respective bodies but it was revealed that Trixie and Spud ended up in each other's bodies. It's unclear how they returned to their respective bodies, if they remember it or if they were the only ones to face a body swap back then.
- Frozen Face: In the vampire episode, Spud tries his best to make the son of a prominent restaurant critic laugh while working at his mother's restaurant, and is horrified when the kid literally doesn't bat an eyelash at his antics. He finds out the next day that the kid had just come from the dentist and his facial muscles were numbed up so he couldn't smile, but he told his dad (the critic) that he had had "the best day ever", which got Spud's restaurant a glowing review.
- Genius Ditz: Jake's friend Spud is something of a computer savant, even though he acts more like The Stoner skate rat than a classic nerd.
- Girl Next Door: Rose, at start of the series.
- Goth: Kara of the Oracle Twins.
- Granola Girl: Sara of the Oracle Twins.
- Sexy Santa Dress: On the chorus line during the Christmas Episode.
- Happily Ever After: YMMV, as although Rose remembers her memories with Jake and she kisses him in front of his whole family, Jake must leave for New York while Rose stays in Hong Kong, not that a long distance relationship is impossible.
- Heel Face Turn: Rose. Although he was never evil, Fu Dog also qualifies.
- Hermetic Magic: Most types, but mostly Fu Dog's alchemy and the dragons' inherent gifts.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted with Rose.
- The Hunter: Also The Huntsclan.
- Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: The Huntsclan always hunt something, but episode "The Hunted" puts Jake and four other creatures as the quarry in a traditional clan hunting ceremony.
- Identical Twin ID Tags
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Jake in "Being Human".
- This applies to Rose as well.
- I Just Want to Be Special: Spud in "Shaggy Frog".
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Even though he's lost Rose, at the end of "Homecoming", Jake is willing to move on because he knows that Rose is safe and happy.
Jake: You too, Rose. Happy Homecoming.
Jake: Stun ray. Can't move. Nose itches.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Fu Dog is so fond of these that in episodes like "The Egg" and "Dragon Summit", this is more or less all he does.
- Infant Immortality: While played straight with 88 and 89, yeah...about all of those kids at the Huntsclan Academy...
- Jive Turkey: Jake's street lingo gets pretty thick in the first season, though it's toned down in the second.
- As a nice touch, it gets thickest just when he's about to screw up because of his own overconfidence. When he starts taking things seriously and gets things done, his dialogue tones down accordingly.
- This is supposedly a reference to first or second generation Asian Americans embracing US culture. His alternative is to act like Grandpa.
- It also gets a Lampshade Hanging in "Switcheroo" when Haley calls it "unbearable hip-hop slang from five years ago".
- "Kick Me" Prank: "Family Business" had Fu Dog try to pull this trick on Marty, only for it fail and for him to notice that he had a sign on his back that read, "Kick Me Harder"
- Last-Minute Hookup: Jake and Rose. They were together in Season 2 for a little while before Jake's Grandpa told Rose to break up with Jake if she really cares about him. They get back together in the finale.
- Let's Get Dangerous: Jake tends to tone down his Jive Turkey tendencies when he buckles down to save the day, but only rarely does he get pissed off enough to drop it altogether.
- Little Miss Badass: Hayley, being that young, can already tap into her dragon powers.
- Limited Wardrobe
- Living with the Villain: Jake and Rose. Even provides the page quote.
- Love Potion: Cupid's arrows in "The Love Cruise".
- Love Triangle: Spud, Nigel and Stacey in "Furious Jealousy" and Jake, Rose and Danika in "Being Human" and "The Hong Kong Longs".
- Made of Indestructium: Unicorn horn.
- Meaningful Name: Long = Dragon in Chinese. (Amusingly, it's his Anglo father's side of the family. Sure, he once claimed to also be of Chinese descent but, his basis for such a claim are questionable not only for the fact he doesn't look Asian)
- Fred Nerk, the Australian Dragon. "Fred Nerk" is a placeholder name used by Australians just like "John Doe" is used by Americans.
- Military Brat: Trixie. Her father is an air force officer stationed in Greenland.
- The Mole: Chang while spying on the dragons for the Dark Dragon and Rose while spying on the Huntsclan for the dragons.
- My Suit Is Also Super: When dragons change into their dragon forms, their clothes disappear and reappear when they change back to human form.
Jonathan: I have another question. Just bugging me; when they turn into dragons, what happens to their clothes?
- Nazis By Any Other Name: The Huntsclan.
- Eucatastrophe: "Homecoming".
- Needle in a Stack of Needles
- Never Say "Die": The Huntsclan is "destroyed" by a magic wish, with all members inexplicably rising into the air and disappearing.
- Noodle Incident: In "Jake Takes the Cake", the bride and actress Jasma Sancere mentions he was once kidnapped by Amazons.
- Not Brainwashed: Stacy appears to be under the influence of a love spell, but it turns out that there was no spell and she actually likes Spud.
- Not So Harmless Villains: 88 and 89.
- The Obi-Wan: Grandfather.
- Obviously Evil: Chang. She is such a vindictive witch that, when it was revealed that she was The Mole, most likely a small few were surprised.
- Official Couple: Jake and Rose. They end up together in the season two finale (which ended up being the series finale).
- Opening Shout-Out: "Being Human" has two: Spud singing the first few lines of the theme song at the beginning and later when Haley imagines herself as the new American Dragon.
- Our Dragons Are Different: As well as flying and breathing fire, they can also shapeshift to and from human form (or just independant body parts) and even a few other forms, have razor sharp claws, Super Strength super hearing and eyesight as well as night vision and their breath stinks when going through puberty. Also their Achilles' Heel is a spot just behind their ear and their Kryptonite Factor is Sphinx hair.
- Papa Wolf: Jake's dad in The Long Weekend
- Parental Bonus: In one episodes, two gremlins say "Makin' copies!"
- Plucky Comic Relief: Spud, Fu Dog and Huntsboys #88 and #89.
- Prescience Is Predictable
- Pro Wrestling Episode: "Ring Around the Dragon".
- Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Chang and Jake's grandpa used to be an item, based on a horrifying photo of them from the age of disco.
- Puppy Dog Eyes: Fu Dog invented this trick.
- Put on a Bus: Rose, thanks to Executive Meddling.
- Putting on the Reich: In Season Two, members of the Huntsclan have the Huntsclan symbol on the upper arm area of their uniforms. Anyone reminded of a swastika?
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Huntsman in his Season One character design.
- Reverse Mole: Rose fits this trope in the episode "Homecoming".
- Sassy Black Woman: Trixie.
- School Play: Romeo and Juliet variant, Antony and Cleopatra
- Screwed by the Network: The last three episodes had their air dates dragged out over several months, and were aired in a different time slot for each one. The series finale was moved to an evening slot against all manner of adult programming, and it got less advertising than High School Musical 2 -- which had already been out for a month and a half.
- Secret-Chaser: Rottwood.
- Selective Obliviousness: Both Jake and Rose suffer from this during their Dating Catwoman phase (before they learn each others' identities), in spite of so much glaring evidence that even secondary characters are getting wary.
- Shout-Out: Haley is named after after Eminem's daughter Halie Jade.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Jake and Rose.
- Swapped Roles: In "Being Human" Haley temporarily takes Jake's place as the American Dragon and finds out how stressful it is.
- Taken for Granite: the Gorgons.
- Taking You with Me: The Dark Dragon tries to do this to Jake and Rose in "The Hong Kong Longs" as he's being sucked into a magical portal.
- Talking Animal: Fu Dog, an 600 year-old Shar Pei with a Jersey accent.
- Also, Yan Yan, a one-shot villainess and Fu personal nemesis.
- Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Using pink for Haley's dragon form.
- The Other Darrin: Theme song wise, in the first season it was preformed by the band Mavin. In the second season, The Jonas Brothers.
- The Power of Love: Jake and Rose. Jake wished that Rose was never taken by the Huntsclan, but then she remembers everything when she sees the photo of her and Jake from a dance. The reason is The Power of Love.
- Three Amigos
- Those Two Bad Guys: #88 and #89.
- Time Travel Episode: "Hero of the Hourglass".
- Toilet Humor: A lot of reviewers complained about the prominence of fart jokes in the pilot. What most of them don't know is that Disney mandated them because of a spectacularly bad test episode (that wasn't even written by the series writers!) which only drew laughs from said fart joke.
- Token Trio: A bit of a departure from the norm, but it still fits.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: The Oracle Twins: Kara and Sara, respectively.
- Tonight Someone Dies: The promo for "Homecoming" did this.
- Too Dumb to Live: Arguably Jake for not figuring out Rose's identity
- Totally Radical: Given a Lampshade Hanging in the Freaky Friday ep.
- Villain Ball: The Huntsman suffers from this at the end of "Homecoming".
- Villains Out Shopping: In the Christmas Episode, #88 and #89 go to a mall (in full Huntsclan uniform) and try to decide between getting The Huntsman an easy bake oven or a stuffed potato as a present.
- The Voice: Trixie's grandmother.
- Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World
- Wax On, Wax Off: Some of Grandpa's training techniques.
- Wham! Episode: "Homecoming"
- "Dreamscape" as well. Who would have thought that The Huntsman kidnapped Rose at birth?
- Wham! Line: "Huntsmaster, we have a new initiate.
- "The destruction of all Huntsclan!"
- What the Hell, Hero?: Jake isn't exactly the ideal heroic archetype. He's arrogant, self-conscious, goofs off, skives off training, does poorly in school, abuses his power every once in a while, sometimes directly endangers his family and friends, and generally half the crap that happens to him is entirely self-inflicted. He's also a fourteen year old boy saddled with power, responsibility, peril that would crush most people, and his line of duty costs him most of his social life, as well as his girlfriend (three times, actually). If what his little sister says after a couple days on the job is any indication, he's handling it one hell of a lot better than could realistically be expected.
- He got slightly better over time, though not by much.
- Wok Fu: In one episode, Jake and Haley in dragon form fight against a trio of demons released on Chinese New Year. One of the places they fight the demons is in a Chinese restaurant, albeit for only a few seconds.
- Writer Revolt: Some shades of this.
- Writing Around Trademarks: Rose's Secret Identity's name change from Thorn to Huntsgirl.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: After using the Aztec Guardian Serpent to track down Jake and one of the missing Aztec Skulls, The Huntsman kills it, telling its steaming body that its job is done.
- Your Costume Needs Work: In "Halloween Bash". Also with Jake's photos of himself in "Professor Rotwood's Thesis".