Dino Riders

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
That is awesome.

The home planet of the Valorians, a peaceful race of somewhat Elven telepathic humans, has been conquered by an evil race of lizard-, frog-, bug-, and fish-men called the Rulons. Four hundred Valorian survivors use an experimental Time Travel device to go back in time and escape, but they inadvertently drag a Rulon ship back with them. Stuck in prehistoric times, they fight each other by strapping lasers and BFGs to dinosaurs.

Holy shit, that is awesome.

Best known today for being the benefactor of Memetic Mutation (see the sentence immediately above). The dinosaur toys were eventually recycled (stripped of their armor) as a series of straight, though articulated, dinosaur models. Compare Dinosaucers, Extreme Dinosaurs, and Dino Squad for more dumb fun with dinosaurs.

Tropes used in Dino Riders include:
  • Amplifier Artifact: The AMPs (Amplified Mental Projector), which the Dino-Riders use to communicate with and befriend the dinosaurs.
  • Art Evolution: Between the first two episodes by Hanho Heung Up, the rest of the series by AKOM and the Ice Age special by Island Animation.
  • Big Bad: Emperor Krulos
  • Disability Superpower: Mind-zei, who can "see" without eyesight.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs
  • Five-Man Band
  • Frickin' Laser Beams
    • Even two different types of them: The "thermo lasers", which could burn through metal, and the "impulse lasers", which were little more effective than rubber bullets.
  • Healing Hands: Serena's specialty.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Frank Welker voiced the Big Bad, Krulos, like Dr Claw and Rasp, his Starscream, in a voice which was uncannily like actual Starscream, causing much confusion as to whether or not it was actually Chris Latta doing the voice.
    • Also, Peter Cullen provides the voices of several characters including Antor and most notably Gunner, since the latter has the same voice as Iron Hide.
  • MacGuffin: The STEP (Space Time Energy Projector) Crystal, which the Valorians used to travel through time, and which Krulos and the Rulons want.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The mind control devices the Rulons used to control dinosaurs resembled metal masks.
  • Merchandise-Driven: One of the biggest examples of this -- the reason for the production of the animated series was so that Tyco could launch a Dino-Riders toy line. Oddly, in some markets there was no animated series, or there was just a one-off special. Some markets (France in any case) had a comic book.
  • Mind Control: The villains used "Brain Boxes" to control their mounts, unlike the protagonists who simply befriended them ...by projecting foreign thoughts into their brains.
  • Never Say "Die": Averted.
  • Ptero-Soarer: The Dino-Riders had Quetzalcoatlus (Yungstar's mount of choice), Pterodactylus, and several small Rhamphorhynchus which came with the Brontosaurus set. The Rulons had Pteranodon, and as late addition also a Quetzalcoatlus. A leopard-patterned one.
  • Raptor Attack: The Dino-Riders and the Rulons have Deinonychus among their forces. Until the introduction of a Rulon Quetzalcoatlus at a quite late point within the toy line's run, it was therefore the only species that was ridden by both factions. (If you only count the toys, and not the series or the comics.)
  • Remember the New Guy?: Happened a lot with both Dino-Riders and Rulons as the toy line expanded to include more characters. Most notable example; the Commandos, who didn't appear at all in early episodes but were featured prominently in the last few and starred in the Ice Age special.
  • Rule of Cool: The entire premise!
  • Somewhere a Paleontologist Is Crying:
    • They had dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus Rex and Diplodocus coexisting, which were separated by millions of years' time.
    • The line of toys included Dimetrodon, which A) was not a dinosaur and B) was long extinct before the first dinosaurs came into being.
    • Also, Woolly mammoths, saber-toothed cats, and giant sloths are thrown into the mix. These were collected from the Ice Age and brought back via time travel. Yeah.
    • Brontosaurus. Enough said.
      • Made worse by the fact that the "Brontosaurus" was at the centre of a two-part storyline that had the Dino-Riders and Rulons battling over it because it was "the largest dinosaur in the world." A great idea in concept, and to an eight-year old it was an absolutely epic story, but considering the Dino-Riders made casual use of a Diplodocus, which was bigger than Brontosaurus/Apatosaurus to begin with, they really Did Not Do the Research. Should've made it a Brachiosaurus.
        • As far as doing research goes, Diplodocus was lengthier than Apatasaurus/Brontosaurus but nowhere near as heavy.
    • The greatest irony is that at the time they were released, the toys for the franchise were considered some of the best, most realistic depictions of dinosaurs available anywhere. Not so much these days... They were fully articulated, unlike most dinosaur toys, so that was cool.
      • Oddly, the distinctive-looking T. rex figure appears to have gained another very weird life as the inspiration for Rex in Toy Story!
        • Fair for Its Day: Most of the toyline was praised for being so detailed and realistic for the time, that the Smithsonian Institution actually purchased the rights to the molds and sold them as toys in their official Smithsonian gift shops for almost a decade after the Dino Riders franchise had died.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: As the show's short run went on, episodes seemed to centre more and more around the GI Joe-style Commando team.
  • The Starscream: Rasp, and quite a few others. One episode's whole premise involved Krulos injured and near death and the three main Starscreams feuding amongst themselves to take over.
  • Time Travel
  • Tyrannosaurus Rex: Krulos' ride of choice, of course.