M.A.N.T.I.S.

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The hero of our story.

M.A.N.T.I.S. was a short-lived (one season) science fiction series on FOX starring Carl Lumbly and produced by Sam Raimi. It followed the adventures of Dr. Miles Hawkins, a paraplegic scientist who develops a power suit (the titular M.A.N.T.I.S., or Mechanically Augmented Neuro Transmitter Interception System) that not only allows him to walk again, but to fight crime as well. It is notable for being the first television series to feature an African-American superhero as the main character.

The full series is available on Hulu.

Tropes used in M.A.N.T.I.S. include:
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Of the Animal Alias variety.
  • Big Bad: Solomon Box is behind several of the schemes M.A.N.T.I.S. foils.
  • Black and Nerdy: Dr. Miles Hawkins is a scientific genius and cultural snob.
  • Cool Car: Technically a Cool Hovercraft, the Crysalid can fly and act as a submersible.
  • Disability Superpower: If Hawkins wasn't paralyzed from the waist down, he wouldn't have developed the M.A.N.T.I.S. suit and become a superhero.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Dr. Hawkins refuses to use guns because he was paralyzed by a bullet.
    • In the episode "Tango Blue" Dr. Hawkins uses his wealth to finance a police buy-back program.
  • Fair Cop: Lt. Leora Maxwell
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Stonebrake: "Looks smashing, doesn't she?"
Hawkins: "Especially for an officer of the law."

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  • Fun with Acronyms: Interestingly, the full extrapolation of the acronym M.A.N.T.I.S. is only glimpsed briefly on a monitor and was only put there at all to justify adding the dots to the title. The show was originally supposed to be called just 'Mantis' but there was already a copyright on that, so the acronym dots were needed to avoid lawsuits.
  • Genius Cripple: Dr. Hawkins is one.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: M.A.N.T.I.S. is initially considered a supervillain by the Port Columbia police.
  • Heterosexual Life Partner: Dr. Miles Hawkins and engineer John Stonebrake are these for each other.
  • Hired to Hunt Yourself: When criminals start appearing in Port Columbia with strange high-tech darts in them, the police turn to Dr. Hawkins to figure out the darts' origin.
  • Ho Yay: Lots of this between Hawkins and his research partner John Stonebrake.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon/Super Wrist Gadget: Hawkins outfits the M.A.N.T.I.S. suit with wrist-mounted, rocket-propelled darts that paralyze their targets.
  • Initialism Title
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dr. Hawkins comes across as one of these often enough. He's smarter than almost everyone he meets, and is more than a little bitter over the bullet that took his legs, leading him to occasionally snap needlessly at those around him.
  • Love Interest: Port Columbia police detective Lt. Leora Maxwell is this for Dr. Hawkins; his need to protect his secret identity from her is the primary obstacle to their relationship.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Dr. Hawkins was paralyzed by a police sniper's bullet when he rushed out from cover to save a young girl during the Los Angeles riots.
  • The Other Darrin: Solomon Box is played by Brion James in the first episode and by Andrew Robinson in subsequent appearances.
  • Reckless Sidekick: Taylor Savage is one of these.
  • Retool: Happened twice (impressive for a show that lasted one season). The series was very different from the pilot, with a completely different supporting cast, a change in Hawkins' origins and costume, a change in location (from Oceania City to Port Columbia) and far less emphasis on race issues. Midway through the season, the series was retooled again, dropping an ongoing story arc and major villain in favor of greater emphasis on single-episode stories and science fiction elements such as parallel universe, time travel, supervillains and monsters.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: In the pilot, it is revealed that Hawkins was paralyzed when he was shot (by a police sniper!) during the Los Angeles riots (while he was trying to get a young girl to safety), which happened only two years before the pilot aired.
  • Secret Identity: No one suspects that Port Columbia's most respected scientist (who must use a wheelchair) is also its most wanted vigilante.
  • Secret Keeper: John Stonebrake and Taylor Savage are these for Hawkins.
  • Scary Black Man: Dr. Hawkins becomes one of these when he dons the M.A.N.T.I.S. suit, which has an insect-like faceplate and glowing eyes.
  • Sidekick: John Stonebrake and Taylor Savage are these, with Stonebrake seeing himself as Hawkins' friend and colleague, and Savage rather gleefully taking on the role of M.A.N.T.I.S.' sidekick, much to Hawkins' and Stonebrake's chagrin.
    • In the pilot, Hawkins is assisted by a pair of African graduate students, but these characters are never seen again.
  • Superhero: Obviously.
  • Super Wheelchair: The M.A.N.T.I.S. suit is one of these, as Hawkins cannot walk without it.
  • Tranquillizer Dart: M.A.N.T.I.S. uses these to subdue his foes. Unlike most examples, his do not use a drug, but rather an energy burst that disrupts the targets neurophysiology.
  • Underwater Base: Hawkins converts his underwater research facility into his superlair.
  • The Watson: John Stonebrake
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction: In the first episode of the series, Hawkins becomes the M.A.N.T.I.S. to recover one of these (of the biological sort) that he invented.