Defenders of the Earth

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Suspiciously similar to, yet not the same as, The Defenders

Defenders of the Earth was a 1986 animated television show, jointly produced by Marvel Productions and King Features Syndicate. Set in the year 2015, it starred characters from three classic King Features series -- Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician, and Mandrake's long-time friend Lothar -- as they battled the evil machinations of Flash's alien Arch Enemy, Ming the Merciless.

Supporting characters included Rick Gordon (son of Flash), Jedda Walker (daughter of the Phantom), Kshin (adopted son of Mandrake), and L.J. (son of Lothar). The show ran for a single syndicated season of 65 episodes, and had a brief four-issue comic-book series published by Marvel Comics under their "Star Comics" imprint.

The theme song's lyrics were written by Stan Lee. That is awesome.

Tropes used in Defenders of the Earth include:

  • Aliens Speaking English
  • Ambiguously Gay: Mandrake and Lothar had apparently been living in the same mansion for some time with Lothar's son (whose mother is never shown or mentioned) and Mandrake's adopted son.
  • Big Bad: Ming.
  • By the Power of Grayskull: The Phantom would activate his super-strength by chanting "By jungle law, the Ghost Who Walks calls forth the power of ten tigers." His transformation sequence would then show four tiger heads passing into his body, this raised the question whenever or not this Phantom was a mutant who suppressed his ability through mental prowess.
  • Cain and Abel: the Phantom and his brother Kurt.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: The team works in a volcano. Jedda even states that the heat in some places pleasantly reminds her of Africa. What is this girl made of?
  • Daddy's Girl: Jedda, with the Phantom. The fact she has a Missing Mom doesn't help.
  • Danger Room Cold Open
  • Dead Hat Shot: In "The Ghost Walks Again", where the Phantom falls into a river after being shot. On finding his belt floating in the water, Jedda immediately fears the worst and, when the Phantom is subsequently declared dead (even though his body has not been found) has to decide if she is ready to take over his duties. However, the Phantom has, in fact, survived and is reunited with his daughter by the episode's conclusion.
  • Dude Magnet: Every other teenage male character got a crush on Jedda at one moment or another, including Ming's own son. Most of the Ship Tease was Rick/Jedda.
  • Episode Title Card
  • Even the Girls Want Her/Foe Yay: In "The Golden Queen, Part 1", a villainness approaches a sleeping Jedda and comments on her beauty. Censors didn't notice. Wanna read something even more squicky? Said villainness had just married the Phantom.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Rick Gordon. Being raised in space among various advanced alien civilizations helps.
  • Genius Bruiser: Lothar is superhumanly strong and portrayed as a mechanical genius and tactician.
  • Jungle Princess: Jedda Walker
  • Legacy Character: Rick Gordon, Jedda Walker and Lothar Jr. "With our new young heroes, proving their worth/Four become eight, defending the Earth". (Eight, because Stan counted Kshin.)
    • Also, Kro-Tan, Ming's son.
    • The Phantom is one one of the oldest legacy characters there is.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Except for Jedda (as mentioned below) because the animators could never quite decide what she wore (or even looked like)
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter
  • Magical Computer: Powered by a magical crystal. With a dead woman's soul in it. Yup.
  • Missing Mom: lots.
  • Motherly Scientist (inverted): The crystal powering Dynak X is actually holding the soul of Rick's dead mother. Squick
    • The TV show never spells it out, but the short-lived Marvel Comics adaptation specifies that Dynak is, in fact, Dale Arden.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Mongor, evil version to Ming.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Ming's ice robots.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: It brought together all of King Features' most famous adventure-hero characters: Flash Gordon, The Phantom, and Mandrake The Magician (along with his sidekick, the strongman Lothar).
  • Off-Model: Jedda's design was nowhere near consistent for several episodes. She would change outfits, hairstyles, hair colors, and even skintones from episode to episode. Sometimes you had no idea who the hell she was supposed to be until someone said her name.
    • In the episode "The Root of Evil", practically everyone is off-model.
  • Overlord, Jr.: Prince Kro-Tan
  • Panthera Awesome
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Arguably applies -- what common grounds are there for a rocket-flying adventurer, a secretive jungle guardian, and an Eastern-trained illusionist to team up and work together?
  • Scary Black Man: Lothar, and possibly Lothar Jr. in the future.
  • Sixty-Five-Episode Cartoon
  • Small Annoying Creature: Zuffy. No wonder he ended up The Scrappy.
  • Space Does Not Work That Way: Travelling from one planet to another in a few minutes? Yes...
  • Space Pirates
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Jedda's telepathic powers allowed her to communicate with animals.
    • It's not made obvious, but it's suggested The Phantom has this power too thus explaining where she got it from.
  • Stage Magician: Mandrake, occasionnally.
  • Teen Genius: Rick Gordon
  • Theme Tune Roll Call
  • Timmy in a Well: With a panther, nothing less.
  • Token Minority: Kshin, who was created for the series.
    • Lothar himself is a borderline case, as he was a supporting character in the original newspaper comics but is elevated to a starring role here.
  • Twenty Minutes Into the Future
  • Villainesses Want Heroes: Queen Hadeas.
  • What Could Have Been: Jedda Walker was originally supposed to be Jedda Gordon while Rick's character was going to be The Phantom's son. Sometime before production they got switched, probably to deliberately mess with the Phantom's myth by having a daughter instead of a son take up the mantle.
  • Yellow Peril: Ming
    • Well, green peril, here.