Captain Planet and the Planeteers

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"Our world is in peril. Gaia, the spirit of the Earth, can no longer withstand the destruction plaguing our planet. She sends five rings to five special young people: Kwame, from Africa, with the power of Earth... From North America, Wheeler, with the power of Fire... From The Soviet Union,[1] Linka, with the power of Wind. From Asia, Gi, with the power of Water... and from South America, Ma-Ti with the power of Heart. With the five powers combined they summon Earth's greatest champion, Captain Planet."

The brainchild of Ted Turner (though most of the actual development work on the show was done by DiC producers Phil Harnage and Nicholas Boxer), Captain Planet and the Planeteers was an attempt to provide a show which would entertain younger viewers, while simultaneously educating them about taking care of the environment.

The eponymous Planeteers are a Multinational Team of kids imbued with Elemental Powers to stop pollution. When they are inevitably unable to deal with problems individually, they combine their powers into a single unstoppable entity: Captain Planet.

Captain Planet and the Planeteers (1990 to 1996) underwent several small revisions over the course of its run—it was renamed The New Adventures of Captain Planet during its 1993 to 1996 run, which co-incided with a change in production companies—but the tone of the show always focused on the environment, often with an Aesop about the environment [3] near the close of each episode. Prevalent in the show's theme was the concept of personal responsibility: Captain Planet's Catch Phrase was "The power is yours!"

The villains—who all had Obviously Evil Names to Run Away From Really Fast like Duke Nukem (not that one), Hoggish Greedly, and Looten Plunder—were strawmen who often seemed to want to destroy the planet just because it was the eeevil thing to do (though there was often a perfunctory profit-motive involved). This was a sincere, if exceptionally hamfisted, way of avoiding offense: if the villains had been given grayer morality, then kids might have compared them to their parents or their parents' employers, who are only trying to do their jobs in an efficient manner. To avoid friction, the writers created villains who were intentionally exaggerated and made to be symbols of the planet's environmental problems (rather than representative of the actions of individuals).

Surprisingly enough, while this was a Green-Heavy children-oriented cartoon during The Nineties (remember we are talking about the Dark Age here), it was quite popular. Probably it has a lot of to do with how much this show was promoted, since it was clearly Adored by the Network.

The Captain was also The Unexpected Guest Fighter on the Mascot Fighter Cartoon Network Punch Time Explosion.

The show's first season was finally released on DVD (in the US) on April 19, 2011, just in time for Earth Day. The packaging was, unsurprisingly, made from 100% earth-friendly recycled paper. In July 2011, Cartoon Network announced that a live-action film adaptation of the show was in the works.


Captain Planet and the Planeteers is the Trope Namer for:


Tropes used in Captain Planet and the Planeteers include:
  • Absolute Cleavage: Linka and Gi in their swimsuits.
  • Abusive Parents: Wheeler's stepfather is the whole reason he left home.
  • The Ace: Captain Planet himself, which is kind of unusual for a Five-Man Band type show in that he himself is not technically part of said band.
  • Achilles in His Tent: "Kwame's Crisis"
  • Actor Allusion: One episode had Kwame (LeVar Burton) trying on a futuristic visor.
  • Alike and Antithetical Adversaries
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Averted-ish. MAL , Blight's AI henchman, was originally a nice AI who liked to play games, but was reprogrammed by Blight into his current malicious incarnation. He was reverted to his original programming in one episode and then proceeded to help the Planeteers.
    • He's also clearly in love with the bad doctor, and is very loyal to her.
  • All Your Colors Combined: The net effect of summoning Captain Planet, since each of the rings has a different color associated with it. Also the Trope Namer.
  • Allergic to Evil: Captain Planet is hurt by Adolf Hitler's hatred, considered to be a form of emotional pollution.
  • Analogy Backfire: One episode dealt with the ethics of putting animals in zoos to preserve their population by having an alien race arrive and put the Planeteers and the extras of the week into a zoo for their own preservation. The aliens made the exact same excuses, such as "it's for your own good," that humans had made for doing so earlier. The analogy falls apart over the issue that placing a species capable of reasoning with you into captivity is slavery. The show simply acts as if preserving an endangered condor in a safe environment and kidnapping people and stripping them of basic human rights is the exact same thing.
    • Furthermore, there's another broken analogy in the premise: the humans, Dr. Blight and Hoggish Greedly respectively, earlier in the episode were putting animals in a zoo to make room for a golf course, while the aliens were attempting to save a population and were otherwise not interfering with the Earth itself. Again, there's a vast difference between attempting to rebuild a species on the brink of extinction and just bulldozing their habitat for your own personal gain while dropping them in a zoo to make you feel better about it.
    • For that matter, "we have no right to protect species driven to the brink of extinction by human actions" is pretty strange for a Green Aesop show.
      • Or showing the true colors under green paint - because that's where it ends in real life when all parts are put together. Search for "Save the habitat, kill the turtles", for example.
    • Also, with a range covering almost every habitable inch of the planet and a population well into the billions, humans don't seem to be in much danger of going extinct any time soon, which further undermines the aliens' position.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: The Planeteer Alert segments.
  • And Then What?: How they sometimes reasoned with polluters.
  • Animation Bump
  • Apocalypse How: The episode "Planeteers Under Glass" has the Planeteers and a female scientist (Dr. Derek) enter a virtual planet where pollution is sickening the planet in centuries (sped up in minutes), starting from Class 0 up to Class 3. But then Dr. Blight traps them all in the rapidly wasting virtual planet, bringing the Apocalypse Class up to 4 and closer to Classes 5 and 6 before destroying them all (not even Captain Planet can save them)... or so Blight thinks. Fortunately, the team of Planeteers have a backup spot before they vanish so they can return safely to stop Blight.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The doctor informs the kid with HIV that he could have gotten it from intravenous drugs, unprotected sex, or maybe a blood transfusion.
  • Artistic License Nuclear Physics: Ted Turner does not like nukes, and Duke Nukem is the walking embodiment of why we should never use nuclear technology. Actual technical errors include having mushroom clouds form from any explosion of nuclear materials, including a bomb detonating in space, and a highly innacurate portrayal of a nuclear power plant in one episode, which displayed radioactive particles coming from a cooling tower after Duke Nukem blasted a hole in it.
  • Author Avatar: Eco-conscious TV tycoon Fred Learner in "Who's Running The Show?" Ted Turner
  • Ax Crazy: It's pretty clear that Dr. Blight causes the problems she does for the sheer sick pleasure of it. As noted under Cut Lex Luthor a Check, below, she's devised all kinds of technology that could be used to fix any number of ecological problems (and this is what Gaia actually did when she became trapped in Blight's body during a Freaky Friday Flip) but causing pollution and wrecking the Earth is simply more fun.
  • Bad Future: Wheeler goes here in "Two Futures", where Hoggish Greedly and Rigger Take Over the World, and the other planeteers live a very rough life protecting what's left of the environment.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: In the episode "Whoo Gives a Hoot?", Looten Plunder gets away with his scheme to clear cut a forest where endangered species live. It ends with him laughing in the Planeteers' faces and daring them to try to stop him from doing it again.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Played straight with virtually very character. The only real exception is Looten Plunder, who is the only one of the main villains to look relatively normal.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Wheeler and Linka had plenty of this going on.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Do not anger Gi or Ma-Ti, ever. It's hard to piss them off, but if someone does... wow.
  • Bittersweet Ending: If you think about it, HIV episode "A Formula for Hate" ending is bittersweet. While Todd was accepted by other people, who felt guilty about harassing him and they learnt that HIV positive people aren't monsters and need care and support, he still has HIV. While medical advancements since the early 90s have made management of the condition somewhat easier and extended the lives of sufferers, it's still a terminal disease that will progress into AIDS and kill him. It's also up in the air whether expensive retroviral treatments would be within Todd's financial means. Furthermore, he can't have sex anymore as he would be exposing his partner or any future children to the virus.
    • Well, he could use a condom...but yeah, his chances of having kids are pretty much screwed.
  • Bound and Gagged: The Planeteers have this happen so often, it's a wonder they get anything accomplished. The guys get tied up as much as the girls.
  • Bragging Ending Theme: Captain Planet, he's a hero / Gonna take pollution down to zero!
  • Braids, Beads, and Buckskins: One episode contained a Native American who acted and dressed like any other person. But after one hike through nature later with the Planeteers had him letting loose his hair, tossing his glasses, and becoming one with nature.
  • Broken Aesop:
    • In the beginning of one episode, Wheeler bought an air conditioner to deal with a heat wave. As noted above, the episode later focused on the damage the chemicals of air conditioners cause to the environment, so in the end the Planeteers dumped it and started...playing with water and a garden hose to refresh themselves, implying that it's better to waste water than using an air conditioner.
    • Then there's the premise of the show. It's supposed to be "everyone needs to work hard to save the environment," which is great. Except what happens at least once per episode? The kids basically throw up their hands and say "Let's let Captain Planet do the work." Doesn't that perhaps imply you have to work hard to save the environment, but once things get uncomfortable you can hand the reins over to someone else? While Captain Planet is supposed represent to the power of teamwork, but it's kinda conspicuous how the kids usually just stand around while he does the heavy lifting for them.
  • By the Power of Greyskull: All the Planeteers have to invoke their rings in order to summon Captain Planet.
  • Call to Adventure: Given by Gaia at the start of the show. All five Jumped At the Call. One episode focused on Wheeler refusing it by time travel... biiig mistake.
  • Calling Your Attacks: The Planeteers had to name their element in order to activate their rings. Of course, this happened whether they actually wanted to use them or not, such as when Wheeler off-handedly said "fire" and a small fire broke out.
  • Captain Obvious Aesop: Given the show's reputation, is it really any surprise that it was guilty of this?
  • Captain Superhero
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Most of the of the villains would love to see the Earth covered in a pile of sludge out of the sheer joy of...covering the Earth in sludge. Even if, for some of these characters, this would severely impact them as well. Two of the villains, being monsters that thrive off disease and radiation (Verminous Skumm and Duke Nukem, respectively), at least have some sort of benefit to turning the planet into a wasteland (since for them, it would be better).
  • Catch Phrase: "The Power Is Yours!"
  • Chain of People: Kwame and Wheeler form one after Ma-Ti falls off the Capitol while being pursued by zombie drug addicts. It... makes sense in context.
  • Chick Magnet: Wheeler had this going for him, and Linka usually didn't approve of it.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: The episode "Nothing's Sacred" implies that Linka is Catholic. Eastern Orthodoxy was far more common among Christians in the Soviet Union, although there were Catholics, usually among specific ethnic groups (Lithuanians, Poles, and some of the Volga Germans for instance).
  • Clear My Name: One episode ("Jail House Flock") engages this when Captain Planet is sent to jail.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Linka is a Tsundere who always denies her crush on Wheeler, but openly shows jealousy and possessiveness when he has a Girl of the Week in the figure of Teresa, a homeless Mexican girl.
  • Clueless Aesop: The show provides at least three stellar examples. Many have questioned whether it was really appropriate for a show about kids and their superhero buddy fighting supervillains and saving the world to tackle gang violence, AIDS, and The Troubles in Northern Ireland. Not to mention the episode about Wheeler's birthday, wherein he learns the myriad evils of having too many children. On a children's show. Also, a literal Family-Unfriendly Aesop.
  • Combined Energy Attack: Captain Planet, down to his elements. The Planeteers themselves would frequently combine their powers in smaller form, for example, Linka and Wheeler creating a laser by combining Wind and Fire.
  • Commander Contrarian: Wheeler exists to say or do something stupid or jerkass and then be corrected by his wise non-American teammates. Oh, and to have his power of fire fail to get them out of the latest tight spot.
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Any viewpoint innocently contrary to the show is given to Wheeler, the stupid spoiled American of the team. Even when he has a perfectly legitimate point, the show sets him up to be "proven" wrong.
    • A great one is an episode where the team is taking all these cute animals home to the island to nurse them. Wheeler complains about this and rather than make the point that taking a cute but endangered species out of its habitat is bad, he's a heartless jerk.
      • Somewhat subverted in "Mind Pollution," when Wheeler is the one who talks sense into Linka when she's high on Bliss.
    • The aforementioned air conditioner episode, in which Wheeler is just trying to cool off the Planeteers during a heat wave.
  • Conflict Ball: Wheeler didn't go too well with anything else.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Looten Plunder and Hoggish Greedly. Sly Sludge often had elements of this, but he wasn't nearly as rich or as powerful as Greedly or Plunder.
  • Corrupt Hick: Hoggish Greedly isn't as rich as Looten Plunder, he has a redneck subordinate named Rigger, and his operations are much more local.
  • Cruella to Animals: Rarely seen on the show, surprisingly.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Why didn't the villains just sell their technology instead of using it against the Planeteers and being foiled?
    • Particularly mind-boggling when Dr. Blight switches bodies with Gaia for an episode. Gaia uses Blight's technology to effortlessly clean up oil spills, put out raging wildfires etc.; Dr. Blight is furious at the end of the episode. Just the oil spill technology would make her the world's first trillionaire if she shopped it around to oil companies, governments, the UN, Greenpeace...
      • While technically Blight is really just completely crazy and only really cares about money to finance her next evil project...why did she even BUILD technology to clean the planet in the first place?
    • Played straight in Sly Sludge's final appearance in the series, where he finally gets a clue that legit recycling is actually profitable and actually has a change of heart about pollution.
  • Death Glare: From Adolf Hitler to Captain Planet. Planet actually feels pain from the hate Hitler projects.
  • Deus Ex Machina: Captain Planet himself. Have a tough problem to solve? Don't think it through and find an innovative solution to get out of the Death Trap, just call Captain Planet!
    • Not really considering that Captain Planet has been stopped on numerous occasions by anyone who can get him contaminated with pollution and leaves the Planeteers pretty much helpless for the time he's around due to them combining their powers, makes him a Trump Card or a Last Resort most of the time.
  • Distressed Dudes: Ma-Ti, Wheeler.
  • Downer Ending: "Whoo Gives a Hoot?" The Planeteers attempt to stop Looten Plunder with a court injunction against clear-cutting an old growth forest. They fail and the episode ends on that note, with Plunder taunting them to try and stop him again. Notable for being one of the only episodes where the Planeteers officially lose.
  • Drill Tank: Verminous Skumm and his minions operate one in "Rain of Terror".
  • Drugs Are Bad: "Mind Pollution". Somewhat averted as Skumm's drug Bliss is relatively realistic, in that it does make people feel good for a while, but you must take more and more to get the same high.
    • Though dragging down the gritty realism factor somewhat is how its exclusive distribution is through a malevolent human sized rat.
  • Easter Egg: In "'Teers in the Hood", Shaggy and Velma are at their high school. At 2:18.
  • Element Number Five: Heart.
  • Elemental Powers: "Earth! Fire! Wind! Water! Heart! GO PLANET!"
  • Empathic Weapon: The rings, which can't work while in heavy pollution.
    • Ma-ti's Heart ring was unable to scan exactly what Hoggish Greedly was doing with Wheeler in a distant temple in one episode, because the very fact he was doing something evil blocked away anything else the ring could detect.
  • Ending Theme: Which is a rap. Oddly, only instrumental versions were used for some seasons.
  • Eternal Hero: Captain Planet, as a heroic incarnation of Gaia, is arguably an example. Arguable because he's a modern-day hero and we might yet kill the planet for good.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Wheeler for Linka, and MAL for Dr. Blight.
  • Evil Counterpart: Captain Planet received one in the form of Captain Pollution, in one episode.
    • Who was summoned with evil counterparts of the planeteers' rings, worn by the Eco-villains: Super Radiation (Duke Nukem), Deforestation (Looten Plunder), Smog (Sly Sludge), Toxins (Verminous Skumm), and Hate (Dr. Blight).
  • Evil Feels Good: "The Conqueror"
  • Evil Redhead: Hoggish Greedly.
  • Evil Twin: Captain Pollution was an evil version of Captain Planet who was summoned by the villains, could be defeated by beams of sunlight since he's all dirty and stuff, and talked like a surfer. Because surfers, like, totally hate the environment, dude! Uh...wait...
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: While some episodes showed the villains wielding lasers, this trope was actually averted in many episodes that depicted real fire arms, mostly by minor thugs or soldiers not associated with any of the Eco-Villains.
  • Fantastic Voyage Plot: "An Inside Job", in which Kwame drinks water polluted from raw sewage, which Wheeler of course didn't boil or dispose of when he realized Sly Sludge was pumping out tons of effluent straight into the seemingly clear mountain water. Fortunately, the Planeteers and the Geocruiser were shrunk down in the water by Dr. Blight while Kwame was consuming it, allowing them to fight the parasites inside.
  • Fertile Feet: Gaia, in "No Place Like Home," turns a lifeless construction site into a thriving grassland full of flowers simply by walking through it.
  • Five-Bad Band
  • Five-Man Band
  • Five-Token Band: Writ large, with representatives from (almost) every continent.
  • For the Evulz: The most common MO when it comes to Captain Planet villains. While technically some of them were also ostensibly gaining money for it, they usually still ended up being more complicated than legitimate alternatives would be. In the episode where Dr. Blight tried to sell an atomic bomb to Hitler, one must wonder how she intended to profit on wiping out her own timeline (she is insane though). Verminous Skumm technically wanted to ruin the world for humans so he and his rats could take over, but his methods tended to make little sense.
    • Duke Nukem wanted to irradiate the planet because he thrived in heavy radiation conditions and basically didn't give a flying wet slap about anyone else or their needs.
  • Freaky Friday Flip: Gaia and Dr. Blight switch bodies in one episode, and end up switching powers too. Dr. Blight uses her powers over nature to cause all kinds of ecological chaos...which Gaia then starts fixing using Dr. Blight's technology.
  • Free-Range Children: Do any of their parents care that their children are fighting against evil doers about the world? Only Ma-Ti and Wheeler were explicitly explained as having no parents to speak of (Ma-Ti is Conveniently an Orphan; Wheeler ran away from home), so what about the others?
  • Friend to All Living Things: Ma-Ti, from before getting his "lame" heart powers. Linka and Gi are also good with animals.
  • Fur and Loathing: Although it only shows up a couple of times with Looten Plunder and Dr. Blight, and isn't given any real focus. Both surprising and refreshing for this show.
  • Gaia's Lament: Though Captain Planet takes place in modern times, with mostly current technology and cultures combined with occasional super-science and high-technology, in "A Hero For Earth", Gaia finds out the world is in a terrible state, though still basically in the same condition as the real world, with polluted waters and skies, huge cities, and dying animals, and it could become drastically worse if Hoggish Greedly and Rigger are allowed to drill for oil with their massive machine.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Not quite. Unless sending a bunch of kids and their superhero buddy to fight evil is vengeance. The one time Gaia became enraged enough to get her ass out of Hope Island and into the greater human world, to Dr. Blight's disappointment, was when a mother wolf was caught in a bear trap. It seems nuclear accidents or potential world-wide wars or changes in history and time are things for teenagers and pun-spewing superheroes to fix, not Earth herself.
    • Keep in mind, that the Planeteers and Captain Planet were on the other side of the world at the time, which forced Gaia to leave her domain at Hope Island to help the wolf before she was killed. Her power is strongest at Hope Island and when she left, well let's just say things didn't turn out so well for her after the wolf was saved and escaped.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • Let's start with the fact the show had two episodes dedicated to population control.
    • The AIDS episode mentions unprotected sex and implied homosexuality.
    • In "The Great Clam Up", a few of Ma-Ti's quotes about his detective fantasy involving Linka.
    • There was one episode where Wheeler and Linka were shrunken and couldn't fit into their clothes. Wheeler finds a way to cover himself, and Linka prepares to cover herself, hidden by her over sized shirt and Wheeler attempts to sneak a peak at her while she's changing.
    • The episode where Scumm makes a super drug that causes people to get addicted fast. Mass rioting, violent brawls, and Linka's cousin dying of a drug overdose.
    • The episode Utopia features a drive-by shooting, in which a family is shot to death on screen and you can clearly see blood on the floor visible.
  • Generation Xerox: The episode where the bad guys form a Legion of Doom-type setup (see below) also sees a second alternate timeline where a new generation of Planeteers drop in to make the save. Look close enough and you'll notice the future Wind user looks a lot like Wheeler and the future Fire user looks a lot like Linka. The characters even point this out, though Linka and Wheeler refuse to ruminate on it.
  • G-Rated Drug: In the episode "Mind Pollution", Verminous Scumm handed some drugs called Bliss to everyone. Of course, it doesn't turn out well for the users.
  • The Gods Must Be Lazy: Gaia could easily restore barren land with her Fertile Feet, but chooses not to because humans need to learn to take care of their own world (except when we can't and need magic). Fair enough. But why can't she just choose another fire ring user when Wheeler Refused the Call and went back in time to stop himself from accepting it? Okay, maybe the Planeteers are chosen by a higher power that even she can't change. It's a guess, but whatever. Now, explain why she decides to take a hundred-year nap in the middle of the goddamn industrial revolution, then relies entirely on five teenagers to fix a century of her neglect? What the hell, Earth Mother?
    • Addressed in "The Unbearable Blightness of Being," where Gaia!Blight's attempted radical ecological alterations (first on her list being to turn the Sahara into a garden) would ultimately end up being just as destructive as the stuff Blight usually does, addressing why Gaia didn't do that herself. Yet this creates another problem, because the Sahara Desert is a natural part of the environment and of course turning it into a garden would be bad. But there's plenty of places ruined by man that she could be affecting that she just...doesn't. Like cleaning up Chernobyl, or putting out the coal fires in Centralia or refilling the Aral Sea.
      • In the same episode, Gaia in Blight's body spends the episode fixing ecological problems with Blight's technology. It seems that while she could use her own power to fix the world, she'd much rather teach mankind to clean up after themselves instead, and being in Blight's body gave her the chance to show humanity it was possible. Which is better? Her fixing everything for humanity and them learning nothing, if anything making the problem worse by making humanity expect her to just clean up after them or actually forcing mankind to take responsibility for the problems they created and learn to fix them themselves?
  • Grand Theft Me: "The Unbearable Blightness Of Being" features Dr. Blight kidnapping and switching with Gaia's body. This backfires on her when Gaia spends the episode fixing ecological problems with Blight's technology.
  • The Great Politics Mess-Up: Linka of "The Soviet Union" is one of the good guys (albeit described as from 'Eastern Europe' after the Berlin Wall fell), and Russia was never played in a negative light until a late episode in the show's run (Missing Linka), when Linka goes back to her home in Russia to discover that a hastily abandoned and poorly dug iron mine was responsible for spreading sickness through the groundwater table, highlighting the rampant environmental problems in Russia.
  • Green Aesop: The whole show, but especially "The Power is Yours!" sections at the end of each episode.
  • Healing Shiv: Molten rock and raging fires will roast just about anything that comes into contact with them, except Captain Planet. Since fires and magma flows are part of the Earth's natural ecosystem, Captain Planet can actually recharge himself by getting set on fire or swimming through molten rock. Lightning bolts are also shown to be capable of restoring Captain Planet's energy with no damage done to him (in fact, Gaia used this once to trick Dr. Blight into accidentally healing him when he was almost dead).
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: It is pointed out that Heart is the most useful power even more then fire. Really, if Ma-Ti wasn't such a nice guy he would brainwash everyone. (In an alternate timelime in which Wheeler Refused the Call and didn't take the Fire ring, he does just that.)
  • Heart Light: The symbol on Captain Planet's chest.
  • Heel Face Turn: Hoggish Greedly went straight after his environmentalist grandfather taught him a lesson, as did Sly Sludge when he learned that he could profit from recycling. How ethical they were then, if they even changed to clean industries, is questionable at best. Also, in a future timeline in "Dirty Politics", it's hinted that Dr. Blight becomes reformed by her daughter, Betsi Blight. In addition, several one-time villains get reformed by the Planeteers in the series, such as a scientist employed by Hoggish Greedly who uses dolphins to retrieve chemicals from a sunken Nazi warship in "Sea No Evil", Hoggish Greedly's son in "Smog Hog", the incompetent manager of a sewage plant in "Old Ma River", the gang members in "'Teers in the 'Hood.", the son of a factory owner in "Bottom Line Green", Trish, Wheeler's old flame in "Talkin' Trash", a corrupt southern sheriff in "Jail House Flock", a whaler working for Looten Plunder in "Fare Thee Whale", an African Chief who Dr. Blight accidentally corrupts in "Loosing Game", and young Native American business-man in "Tree of Life" and "Bitter Waters". All of these minor villains are shown to be truly reformed by the Planeteers.
  • Hot Scientist: Dr. Blight.
    • As long as you don't look under that hair covering part of her face.
  • Human Ladder: Wheeler and Kwame in "A Mine Is a Terrible Thing to Waste (part 2)."
  • Humanity on Trial: "Twelve Angry Animals", where the Planeteers get held on trial by several extinct and endangered animals, representing the human race.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Pretty well averted. While those poor silly humans are always wrecking their planet with wanton disregard, nearly everyone the Planeteers meet (except the eco-villains, of course) can actually be reasoned with. The vast amount of secondary villains who redeem themselves make this clear.
  • Humongous Mecha: Hoggish Greedly and Rigger plan to obtain colossal amounts of crude oil in a very short amount of time with a mobile oil rig in the first episode, "A Hero For Earth". It towers over the trees and almost smashes a rabbit who is ant-sized in comparison, but it still proves to be no match for Captain Planet, and Greedly and Rigger move on to operate smaller yet still destructive machines with a pig-motif instead.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Captain Planet, in the heat of battle.
  • I Ate What?: In "Horns Aplenty", Wheeler eats some authentic Chinese food, where Gi warns him that this isn't the kind of Chinese food he's used to.

Wheeler: (eating) "What do you mean? It's great!"
Gi: (looking at food) "Really? I didn't know you liked duck feet soup and squid in its own ink."
Wheeler: (eyes bulge out and he begins to cough) "Suddenly, I don't feel so good..."

    • Done again in the same episode at the end where Wheeler eats what he thought was pasta.

Wheeler: (eating) "Mmmm! I love pasta!"
Mabu: "Uh... what pasta? It is grub worm stew." (the four other Planeteers go wide-eyed, then look at Wheeler in morbid fascination as he continued to eat until he cleaned off his plate, obviously not hearing what Mabu said)
Kwame: "Do you think we should tell Wheeler?"
Kwame, Linka, Gi, Ma-ti and Mabu: "...... NAAAAAAAAH!" (laughter)

  • Idiot Ball: Although the "Heart" power is useless in a fight, it does come with immunity to the Idiot Ball, especially in Ma-Ti's character focus episodes.
    • Especially notable in "The Big Clam-Up", where Ma-Ti is the only one to spot the obvious trap that is the tip to go to a restaurant on Pier 13 at midnight, and is thus able to save the others, who were definitely carrying the Idiot Ball at that point (and also when they talked to a mime who was obviously Verminous Skumm and didn't figure it out).
    • Blight picks it up big time in "The Unbearable Blightness of Being": Dr. Blight creates a machine that allows her to switch bodies with Gaia, does so and starts using her powers to destroy the environment for the hell of it...yet apparently gave no thought whatsoever to the fact that after the switch, Gaia is now in her body: not only is Gaia free to wander around her base (it would be as simple as locking yourself in a cage during the switch, Blight!), but Blight didn't even inform MAL of this. Naturally, not only does Gaia use Blight's gadgets to fight back with MAL's assistance, she even tricks him into continuing to do so after they switch back claiming it's "all part of her plan".
  • If You Kill Him You Will Be Just Like Him: In "'Teers in the 'Hood", Gi gets called out on this by Wheeler as she attempts to drown the gangster who shot one of her teachers. A fair example, as the Planeteers have never actually killed anybody.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Pick any villain on the show, their name will qualify: NO EXCEPTIONS.
  • Ink Suit Actor: Dr. Blight bears a strong resemblance to her original voice actor, Meg Ryan. The same can be said with varying degrees of accuracy about the other eco-villains and their respective voice actors.
  • Invocation: "Let our powers combine!" and "Go planet!"
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Wheeler.
  • Jumped At the Call: All of the kids did.
  • Just a Kid: Ma-Ti often feels like he's The Load of the group, and one of the reasons is that he's just twelve years old, whereas the other Planeteers are all over the age of fifteen.
  • Karma Houdini: The villains seem to have received prison escape lessons from Lex Luthor and the Joker, as no matter how many times they get put away, they seem to be back the very next episode.
  • Kick the Dog: Many of the villains have moments like this in case they weren't evil enough for you.
  • Large Ham:
    • All the villains, including "The Führer" himself in the infamous World War II episode.
    • Captain Planet rules this trope, in addition to being a fine example of how Incoming Ham is done.
  • Last-Name Basis: Wheeler's first name is Joey, and Dr. Blight's first name is Babs.
  • Legion of Doom:
    • One episode depicted an alternate timeline in the future after the regular Rogues Gallery formed a proper evil alliance and conquered the world.
    • There was also the episode where they formed that alliance under Looten Plunder and created evil versions of the kids' rings, which enabled them to summon Captain Pollution.
  • Let's Meet the Meat: An interesting example. Despite its clear animal-rights agenda, Captain Planet never explicitly promotes vegetarianism nor condemns eating meat, and also doesn't shun hunting when it's done safely and smartly. In one episode, a man ate a bear's meat and wore its fur, but also honored its spirit, and in another, a man chided Linka, as she was angry at him for hunting animals for sport, even though she herself was eating a lamb kebab.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Blight. Duke Nukem counts to a lesser extent.
  • Master of Illusion: Zarm; Gaia to a degree.
  • Malaproper: Linka can fall victim to this at times.
  • May Contain Evil: This is pretty much the basis for the corporate ventures of Dr. Blight, Hoggish Greedly, and Looten Plunder, and also what goes on in Sly Sludge's waste management operations.
  • Messy Pig: Hoggish Greedly proves this.
  • Misapplied Phlebotinum: None of the Planeteers ever used their rings to their full potential. If they did, Ma-Ti alone would be enough to end most crises without bothering to summon the our mullet-wearing hero.
    • Keep in mind that Captain Planet represents the kids' powers combined and magnified. He wields the rings' powers to a higher extent than the rings themselves.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The animals in "Planeteers Under Glass". And did we mention that there is also a flying cyber-demon during the time that the Apocalypse Class is spiked up to Class 6?
  • Morality Pet: Hoggish Greedly's son, to a small degree, as well as Dr. Blight's daughter, who was supportive of the Planeteers from the very start.
  • The Moral Substitute: It's an action cartoon, with an environmental message.
  • The Most Common Super Power Is Yours: Linka, Gi, Gaia, and Dr. Blight.
  • Mother Nature: Gaia
  • Mister Danger: Hoggish Greedly and Looten Plunder. Both of them often go to foreign countries in search of more wealth and power at the expense of the natives. Sly Sludge also counts, since his garbage dumping operations are all over the planet.
  • Multinational Team: The planeteers are all from different countries.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: One of the other few real advantages of Ma-Ti's Heart power.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The villains have the kind of Meaningful Names that should trigger warning bells for any sane person. Would you invest in a company with a CEO named Looten Plunder? Or take environmental consulting from Sly Sludge? Would you let a man named Hoggish Greedly drill for oil and mine for coal by your home city? Or let a woman named Dr. Blight...within 50 feet of you?
  • Nebulous Evil Organization: The Eco-villains occasionally organize with each other, though they're more likely to appear alone. None of them are really nice to each other, though Sly Sludge usually uses Dr. Blight's technology. See also the "Legion of Doom," trope above.
  • New Year Has Come: Right at the end of "Two Futures (Part 2)". Linka brings out an accordion and sings out "Auld Lang Syne", and in a few moments the Planeteers join in the song, in a Shout-Out to It's a Wonderful Life.
  • Nobody Poops: Somewhat averted. Ma-ti mentions that manure is a good fertilizer in one Planeteer Alert. If it mentions a kind of mammal solid waste, it implies that humans void as well.
  • No Fourth Wall: "Hog Tide", in which Captain Planet sings a part of the show's theme song.
  • No Matter How Much I Beg: Gaia, while in Dr. Blight's body, eventually fools MAL into doing this to Dr. Blight.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Suchi the monkey.
  • Noir Episode
  • Obviously Evil: Played straight with Hoggish Greedly, Sly Sludge, Verminous Skumm, and Duke Nukem. Averted by Looten Plunder, who was actually good looking and well dressed. Subverted by Dr. Blight, whom other than the scars in half of her face (which were always covered by her hair) was an attractive woman. YMMV on whether Zarm plays this trope straight, averts it, or subverts it.
  • Off-Model: That guy's eyes just moved!
    • Sometimes they'd forget to draw the captain's boots.
    • In the very first episode, at a close up on Greedly's face, one of his eyes was slightly off-kilter. It was... kinda creepy, even for this show.
  • Oireland: The Belfast sequence in "If It's Doomsday, It Must Be Belfast" is probably the single most offensive take on this.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Dr. Blight. She's worked with Sly Sludge to make garbage disposing machines, created the world's largest oil refinery and made incredibly powerful rocket fuel for the President of the United States, made several time-traveling devices, experimented on countless animals and plants, and she's even hacked governmental computers to change national parks into waste dumps. Since she can pretty much create anything, she's the subject villain of many episodes. The only villain seen more frequently than her is Hoggish Greedly.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Verminous Skumm ends up creating two plans that than involve corrupting humans into zombie like beings. The first time, he poisoned the water supply of a South American village with a fluid he manufactured called "Rat Rot". It turned the humans who got into contact with it into rat-humanoids like Verminous Skumm, but also made them feral and mindless. The other time, he produced a drug called "Bliss" and sold it on the streets of Washington D.C., which would give the user a high feeling and make their eyes glow red and eventually cause them to go insane with addiction.
  • Parental Abandonment: The kids live in the Hope Island with Gaia as their Team Mom. Wheeler was the only one explicitly stated to have living parents. Also, Ma-Ti is specifically shown to be an orphan raised by his grandfather. Linka's brother appears in an episode, making the lack of parental mention that much more noticeable.
  • Personality Powers: Each Planeteer receives control of an element related to their personal environmental passion and their personality.
  • Pig Man: Do you really have to ask? * snork* * snork* In case you didn't watch the show, it's Hoggish Greedly.
  • Plaguemaster: Verminous Scumm. Duke Nukem counts, however, his motives are mostly focused on spreading around radiation and nuclear waste.
  • Politically-Correct History: The multi-racial American army depicted in the Hitler episode. The U.S. military was for the most part racially segregated during World War II.
    • Averted in the Wild West episode, where only Wheeler, Gi, and Linka are permit to go into a shop, while the others have to stay outside.
      • Of course, this is arguably an example as well, since in all likelihood Gi wouldn't have been terribly welcome either; but typically historical discrimination against Asians is not as much of a "hot button issue" as that against blacks and "native" races. Heck, depending on what sort of town it was, Linka might not have been welcome, since her accent would mark her as an obvious first-generation immigrant (with discrimination against immigrants of races and origins now considered simply "white" receiving even less attention than discrimination against Asians).
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: The show itself.
  • Politically-Incorrect Villain:
    • Hoggish Greedly in the episode "OK at the Gunfight Corral". He hired a bunch of racist white men to attack the local Native Americans so he could claim their land as his and sell it to Sly Sludge, but otherwise he never even commented on anybody's race.
    • Verminous Skumm harrassed and lied about a boy who had HIV, and he gave nuclear detonators to people fighting in the The Troubles, The Apartheid Era, and the Arab Israeli Conflict, in an attempt to discredit the entire human race. Both episodes went down in infamy, unsurprisingly.
  • Pop Star Composer: The theme song was written by Phil Collins.
  • Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: The Planeteers, when turned into gang members.
  • Private Detective: In the episode "The Big Clam-Up", Ma-Ti gets engrossed by a book about a private eye and tends to match the Planeteers' actions to the story he reads.
  • The Psycho Rangers: Five of the show's major villians team up with evil versions of the Planeteer's rings.
    • Looten Plunder has a Deforestation Ring, evil version of Kwame's Earth Ring.
    • Duke Nukem has a Super Radiation Ring, evil version of Wheeler's Fire Ring.
    • Sly Sludge has a Smog Ring, evil version of Linka's Wind Ring.
    • Verminous Skumm has a Toxics Ring, evil version of Gi's Water Ring.
    • Dr. Blight has a Hate Ring, evil version of Ma-Ti's Heart Ring.
      • Even comes with their own Evil Counterpart for Captain Planet, Captain Pollution.
  • Pungeon Master: Captain Planet, Wheeler, and most of the villains.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: In one episode, Wheeler had been showing off his gun-twirling skills with a loaded revolver. The gun went off but since it's a cartoon, it hit the sign, making it fall and hit Ma-Ti on the head.
  • Recruit Teenagers with Attitude
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: "The Conqueror", where Zarm happens to do this a lot while prompting the Planeteers to take his Gauntlets of Conquest.
  • Redheaded Hero: Wheeler.
  • Refusal of the Call In a two-part episode ("Two Futures"), Wheeler decides he'd have been better off not being a Planeteer (in a Shout-Out to It's a Wonderful Life), so he goes back in time and convinces himself to refuse the Fire ring. This results in a hellish present (see "Bad Future", above) where there are no Planeteers. Wheeler then has go to back and stop himself... from stopping himself.
    • This episode is a prime example of the writer's mantra: "Wheeler is always wrong." Gaia informs Wheeler that this terrible world is all his fault...even though she could have fixed the entire mess by giving the ring to someone else. But apparently, she had no backup candidates in mind, and openly refuses to try and find any, essentially preferring to let the world go to Hell rather than do the extra work. And this, too, is blamed on Wheeler. Furthermore, in the Bad Future, Gaia herself has been killed by pollution, meaning she effectively let herself die because she wasn't willing to find someone to take Wheeler's place. It doesn't help that the reason the Planeteers broke up is they couldn't create Captain Planet without a fifth member. So without a pun-spewing genie in their corner, they couldn't handle it.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: The team could eliminate most pollution by simply releasing the technology they use in their own vehicles and equipment (since we're told it doesn't pollute at all).
    • The hell with that, they could render any and all pollution moot with Wheelers ring. A limitless supply of fire that doesn't require fuel and gives of no smoke would be a limitless power source. With unlimmitted free energy, why even bother drilling for oil, mining for coal or using nuclear power plants?
      • The power of the ring isn't infinite, and Wheeler can't be everywhere at once.
  • Relative Error: "Missing Linka", where Wheeler mistakes Linka's older brother for her boyfriend.
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation
  • Rogues Gallery: There's a regular stable of villains with only a handful of one-offs. Hoggish Greedly and Dr. Blight appeared much much more than the other villains, because they represent resource abuse and scientific abuse respectively, which are probably the two biggest problems for nature.
  • Sailor Earth: One Captain Planet figure has him donning an additional suit of armor. Where did it come from? Why, Kylie from Australia, with the Power of Light, of course!
    • More likely Stark Industries? That particular toy looks a lot like the Iron Man toys that were coming out at the same time.
    • The show had lots of potential for this type of thing. Even without the potential Planeteers with rings coming from Australia, Oceana, and Antarctica (Penguin Planeteer ahoy!), the show does induct new planeteers all the time. They're almost always kids who help in one episode, then never show up again, and they don't have any rings or powers. Given that there are about six or seven billion humans, almost all of whom could probably join the planeteers in this same limited capacity, you have an entire species of Sailor Earths!
  • Science Is Bad: Though played straight with the character of Dr. Blight, all the other scientists are good. In fact, the show promotes the use of science and technology in a good way.
    • Supposedly the technology on the island is perfect eco-technology from the future that lets a supersonic jet fly off solar power. However, they don't share this technology with anyone else, nor do they go into how the mining for rare earth elements for solar power isn't actually sustainable)
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money: Hoggish Greedly, Looten Plunder, and Sly Sludge.
  • Secret Test of Character: Greedly's grandfather, green industrialist Don Porkaloin, fakes his bloody death and leaves a bogus fortune to his grandson to test if Greedly could be taught to be environmentally conscious. Nope.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Ma-Ti and Wheeler.
  • Shout-Out: Captain Planet's designs look similar to Colossus. Mostly Colossus's older design.
    • Wheeler does several shout-outs to certain shows and movies.

Linka: "How can you think about pizza with what is happening to those turtles!?"
Wheeler: "I don't know. Turtles, pizza, must be something subliminal."

    • When Gaia tells the Planeteers that the timestream had been disrupted which caused the Grand Canyon to be turned into a dumping site, Wheeler makes a subtle comparison to Back to the Future.
    • Wheeler also makes a comment about Alien after hearing a researcher's plan to naturally kill off Scumm's mutated weevils by using wasps to lay their eggs in them and their young burst out of them.

Wheeler: "Cool! Just like in Alien!"

  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Bambi Blight actually cares about the environment unlike her sister, Babs Blight.
  • Slap Slap Kiss: Linka and Wheeler, of course.
  • Small Reference Pools: We have Linka from Europe, Wheeler from North America, Kwame from Africa, Ma-Ti from South America, Gi from Asia . . that's all the continents, right? Oceania? Never heard of it . . . (Oh yeah, and the Soviet Union is a continent, isn't it?)
    • But it never did say that they were from every continent just that they were just five special young people.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Don't use nuclear power or a man with yellow, rocky skin will attack you with radioactive blasts.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Possibly the one really useful power given by Ma-Ti's Heart ring.
  • Step Three: Profit: Hoggish Greedly and Looten Plunder can pretty much cause wide-scale ecological damage and get big profits just by changing a few things around them after signing a few contracts...if they even do that. Sly Sludge also seems to get money by dumping trash and toxic waste in populated areas, like in "Kwame's Crisis".
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In one episode, we saw Verminous Scumm working in his lab, humming "I've Been Working On The Railroad" to himself. Later in the same episode, Cap is singing his own version of the song—while tearing apart Scumm's lab, no less!
  • Strawman Political: Too many to list, but taken to ridiculous extremes with Looten Plunder. In one episode in the future, he even promised tax-cuts for the rich while running for President, because "The more you have, the less you should share!". Hoggish Greedly counts too, being a Deep South style CEO who partially represents the damage caused by obtaining and using fossil fuels.
    • Just in case anyone doubts the veracity of any of the above, here's the tagline from Plunder's TV ad when he was campaigning:

Voice-Over: Vote the Plunder/Pinehead Repulsivecan {{[[[Serial Numbers Filed Off]] sic}}] Party Ticket -- So these kids can grow up filthy rich!
Candidate Plunder: I believe in BIIIG tax breaks -- The bigger the income, the bigger the break! No matter how you got it … You shouldn't have to share it!

  • Strictly Formula: Nearly every episode follows a very specific formula. Occasionally, they might break the formula- the episode where Looten Plunder won, or the Special Episodes with no Eco-Villians, for example, but that was about it.
  • Taking the Bullet: At the near end of the episode "Future Shock", one of the future villians tries to shoot a laser gun at a little girl to fix his future. Ma-Ti jumps in front of the girl and gets hit by the beam, which kills him. He gets better.
  • Team Mom: Gaia the Spirit of the Earth, and Gi to some degree.
  • Thematic Rogues Gallery: The major villains are all polluters.
  • Theme Tune Roll Call
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Yes, in that ep which sent the characters back to World War II, where they met Hitler himself.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Wheeler jumps into a time portal and makes his past self refuse the call. This destroys the world. Wheeler travels back in time and stops his other self from stopping his past self. Then both of them are sucked back to present, fusing together en route. What?
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Linka and Gi.
  • Too Many Babies: In one Bad Future episode, Linka is shown living in a deeply impoverished town in Hope Island with over half a dozen kids...all fathered by Wheeler.
  • Totally Radical: Particularly noticeable in the gang violence episode, where the writers apparently invented their own street slang to make it sound edgier.
    • The season 6 opening rap song. "Mega Mac Daddy of Ecology" indeed.
  • The Troubles: Again, "If It's Doomsday, This Must Be Belfast": quite possibly the worst treatment of this subject in fiction ever.
  • Unexplained Accent: Oddly enough, Gi and her lack of accent. All of the other Planeteers speak with accents based on where they are from, even American Wheeler speaks with a Brooklyn accent, but Gi, from Southeast Asia, inexplicitly speaks very clear English.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Linka and Wheeler, of course.
  • Verbal Tic: Hoggish Greedly always snorts like a pig when he talks.
  • Villainous Glutton: Hoggish Greedly, obviously. He even ate his own horse while in the middle of a desert once, because he really was that hungry. He's also meant to represent how acquiring vast amounts of natural resources damages the environment.
  • Villains Never Lie: An often parodied weakness of the show is that the supporting cast always seem to fall for the villains' deceptions, despite their conspicuous names and menacing appearances.
  • Villains Want Mercy: In one episode, Dr. Blight begs Captain Planet to save her from being trampled to death by a genetically altered steer (that she created) stating, "You have to save me! It's in your hero code!" Cap admits she's right and does save her.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Captain Planet is weakened by not only the very thing he exists to fight (pollution) but also what he exists to protect (raw natural resources, mostly oil and even gasoline). This wouldn't be so bad, but he basically falls every time he's attacked with pollution, and the (human) Planeteers can resist pollution better than he can.
    • Though in a display of Genre Savvy, the planeteers were able to invert this with Captain Pollution and were able to repulse his initial attack by... spraying him with water. Captain Pollution was also shown to be vulnerable to fresh air and concentrated sunlight.
    • Also, volcanoes put out millions of tons of what can be termed as pollutants. Toxic gas, carbon dioxide, particulates... and yet lava heals him.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Trope Namer. Ironically, Linkara pointed out in his review that Heart was actually more useful than the other elements, especially Fire, as it could allow reading of minds. It also worked as a communicator, and could control wild animals. It also gave Ma-Ti the chance to see through the illusions casted by the Master of Illusion Zarm. Basically, if Ma-Ti were evil or more ruthless in the use of his Ring, he could potentially brainwash almost anybody he wanted by manipulating the good in their hearts and using that to his advantage. Good thing (for us!) that Gaia was Genre Savvy and picked a more innocent, younger Planeteer...
    • In the alternate future created by Wheeler not joining the Planeteers, Ma-Ti does exactly that... using the power of Heart to brainwash people passing by into giving their money to the less fortunate.
    • It also works with Heart's opposite power: Hate. In a time travel episode, Adolf Hitler emanates so much Hate his mere presence harms Captain Planet the same way toxic substances do.
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: "Hollywaste" and "You Bet Your Planet".
  1. then former Soviet Union, then just Eastern Europe
  2. Guess Australia is just left out, then. Also Antarctica. And Western Europe, if you want to get technical.
  3. though other topics like violence or AIDs received their aesops as well