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"It's all the comic's fault..."
Dark Oracle is a Canadian television series that premiered on YTV in 2004. It follows twins Lance and Cally Stone, a pair of normal teenagers whose lives were turned topsy-turvy by the arrival of a comic book (the titular Dark Oracle) that could predict the future. Every episode a new issue would arrive, resulting in the twins scrambling to head off whatever disaster the comic predicted. Unfortunately, this wasn't always easy, and the comic was excellent at misleading the twins, leading to numerous traumatising (and sometimes downright trippy) experiences. As the series progressed, the stakes grew increasingly higher, until the twins were not only trying to head off episodic problems, but fighting for their very existence.
Season 1 dealt with the comic's initial appearances, and introduced Lance and Cally to their comic book counterparts, Blaze and Violet. Problems were typically episodic in nature, and the only recurring villain was Omen, a sometimes frog, sometimes high-school student who had inflicted the comic upon them in the first place, and professed an interest in Cally. Other recurring characters included the twins' respective best friends Dizzy (Lance) and Annie (Cally), Jack (Cally's crush), Sage, a very odd girl who eventually became Lance's girlfriend, Vern a wannabe-practitioner of the dark arts, and Doyle, a part-time magician and owner of the local comic store, Gamerz Cave. The season ended with Omen's defeat, and the comic apparently erased.
In Season 2, the comic returned, with Blaze and Violet (who had initially seemed to be little more than comic book characters) taking central stage as the new antagonists. The various comic book counterparts began to look a lot more like their real-world equivalents, and set into motion various plans to emerge into the real world while trapping their twins and their friends inside the comic (which leads the comic to add stand-ins for real world Lance and Cally to its cast of characters). The plot became more over-arching, with Lance and Cally trying very hard to head off Blaze and Violet's next moves. Vern became a more important antagonist, Omen returned, and Cally briefly gained a new love interest, Emmett. By the end, Omen was dead, Blaze, Violet and their leader defeated, and the comic permanently erased.
Dark Oracle was praised for its original concept and the generally good quality of its episodes. In 2005, it won the International Emmy for Best Children's and Youth Program. The series lasted from October 2004 to June 2006. A total of 26 episodes were filmed.
Dark Oracle provides examples of:
- Acting for Two: Lance and Cally's actors (Alex House and Paula Brancati) also provide the voices of Blaze & Violet, and play them upon their respective escapes into the real-world. Similarly, Sage's actress, Danielle Miller, did double duty as her and her Evil Twin in Season 2's "Through a Glass Darkly".
- Action Survivor: The best way to describe Lance and Cally. They don't go looking for trouble, but they're more than capable of enduring it, despite being a pair of Ordinary High School Students.
- Adorkable: Sage, Lance's very weird, borderline Cloudcuckoolander girlfriend. Only true for audiences; in the series, she was regularly tormented by the other students.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Played with in Season 2, as Cally is stuck between Nice Guy Emmett, and former enemy, Omen. It ends very badly. Averted with Vern, who is unable to get a date with anyone who is not comic Sage (although Simone might be willing to do something about that).
- Arc Words: "What just happened here?"
- Art Evolution: Done deliberately between Seasons 1 and 2 as Blaze, Violet, and the other comic book counterparts come to more closely resemble their real-world doubles. Most noticeable with Sage's twin who changes from looking like a shy, brown-haired girl to an almost exact, (if more aggressive) duplicate of her.
- Badass Longcoat: Vern tries to invoke this, but his Harmless Villain status and general loser-dom means it ends up being completely subverted.
- Bare Your Midriff: Season 2 Violet looks like this in the comics, though not in the real world.
- Big Bad: Season 1, Omen. Season 2 went through Vern, Blaze and Violet before finally revealing the real mastermind to be The Puppet-Master, Doyle's Evil Counterpart.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Subverted twice over. Season 2 appears to be setting up Vern and Omen as an Evil Duo, but it quickly becomes apparent that Omen is simply using Vern for his own ends, and in any case, Blaze and Violet are in back of him. Blaze and Violet themselves look a straight example, but as it turns out, they're really Co-Dragons to The Puppet-Master.
- Big Bad Wannabe: Vern in Season 2. He's a Not-So-Harmless Villain for sure, but not nearly at Omen or Blaze and Violet's level.
- Blank Book: The comic arrives with the majority of the pages blank. As the episode progresses it fills in, eventually revealing whatever awful future is in store for the cast.
- The Bully: Lots of 'em. There's the creeper from the first couple of episodes who first stalked Cally, and then--along with some of his friends--mocked, and later egged, Sage. Vern has definite traits of this as well, although it's combined with Loners Are Freaks. And then there are numerous random jerks who pick on Dizzy, Sage, or Lance.
- Bully Hunter: Blaze and comic Sage, although it's got more to do with "how dare you do this to me" than with any sort of altruistic motivation.
- Butt Monkey: Dizzy, constantly.
- Catch Phrase: Lance says "Don't hit!" to Cally about once an episode.
- Blaze says it to Violet in the Grand Finale.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Omen backstabs in order: Doyle, Lance & Cally (twice), Blaze & Violet, Vern, Lance & Cally again, and finally, Blaze & Violet again. Being a raging Smug Snake will do that to you.
- Co-Dragons: Blaze & Violet are ultimately revealed to be this to The Puppet-Master, Doyle's Evil Counterpart.
- Cool Loser: Lance and Dizzy. Though they get better.
- Creepy Twins: Blaze and Violet.
- Darker and Edgier: Season 2 was notably darker than the already less-than cheery Season 1. Seasonal Rot was largely averted though.
- Dark World: The world inside the comic book shows all the signs of this. Decayed buildings, shadowy streets and alleys, rampant cult activity, gang warfare, a school system that more closely resembles a warzone, and a population that's at best apathetic and nihilistic and at worst outright destructive.
- Dating Catwoman: Omen and Cally. Whether he's just using her or is genuinely interested varies depending on the episode and the season.
- Dawson Casting: Despite playing twins in the show, Alex House is actually three years older than Paula Brancati.
- Deadpan Snarker: Simone, Vern's right hand girl.
- Deceptive Disciple: Omen (and maybe Vern) to Doyle.
- Different As Night and Day: Cally and Lance. Blaze and Violet too, although their shared sociopathy and aggression tended to outweigh their other personality traits once Season 2 kicked in.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Dizzy in Season One to Cally.
- Mr. Fanservice: Omen, Emmett and Lance. The latter even gets a funny Shirtless Scene.
- Evil Counterpart: By Season 2, Blaze and Violet were somewhere between this and Lance and Cally's Evil Twins, with Blaze taking Lance's loner tendencies to their ultimate, reclusive conclusion and Violet showing what Cally would be like were she completely uninhibited. Doyle eventually gained his own Evil Counterpart in The Puppet-Master.
- Evil Duo: Blaze and Violet, with Blaze as the angry, impulsive one, and Violet as manipulator.
- Evil Is Hammy: Blaze, Violet, and comic Sage are far more over-the-top than their real life counterparts.
- Evil Makeover: As noted under Art Evolution, Violet, Blaze, Sage, Dizzy, and Doyle's counterparts all look very different post-Face Heel Turn.
- Evil Sorcerer: Omen, Vern, and The Puppet-Master. Blaze and Violet might count as well, given that they at least dabble in magic. Subverted with Doyle: they repeatedly imply he's evil but he's anything but.
- Evil Twin: Blaze and Violet became these to Lance and Cally whenever they emerged into the real world. Comic book Sage was a straighter example, having no other name and being utterly psychotic during her one appearance in the real world.
- Face Heel Turn: Violet and Blaze, between Seasons 1 and 2. They progress from being slightly more extreme counterparts to Lance and Cally to a pair of psychos out to kidnap the twins and force their way into the real world. Same thing happens to Sage and (presumably) Dizzy's counterparts.
- Foreshadowing: In "It Happened at the Dance", Lance tells Dizzy the comics can appear anywhere: in the garbage, in the fridge. Dizzy almost immediately finds the comic in the trash. In the next episode, the comic appears in the refrigerator.
- In the first episode, just before they receive the comic book, Lance tells Cally this:
"You can learn a lot about life from a comic book."
- In the second episode (of Season One) Lance and Dizzy are discussing gaming techniques. Lance insists repeatedly that the Power of Three "works every time". Guess how they defeat the Big Bad at the end?
- The Ghost: Dizzy's cousin Harold. Despite never appearing, he is described as wearing mascara, looking like a girl/mannequin, and having spy gear.
- Goth: A number of characters affect (or are supposed to be affecting) this style of dress. Seems to be fairly popular at the school, especially among Vern's group of whackos.
- Grand Finale: "Redemption" which killed off Omen and The Puppet-Master, had Vern's Heel Face Turn, returned Lance to reality and Blaze and Violet to the Dark World, and wiped the comic from existence.
- Grand Theft Me: Blaze, Violet and the other comic book denizens intend to pull a variant of this on Lance, Cally and their friends: they plan to drag the twins into the comic, allowing themselves to escape into the real world and take over their identities.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Blaze.
Dizzy: "Lance, what're you doing?"
- The guy in question had bumped into him on the stairs.
- Heel Face Revolving Door: You need a pen and paper to keep track of Omen's sideswitching.
- Heel Face Turn: Omen and Vern in the last couple of episodes.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Omen performs one in the final episode, taking a hit meant for Cally.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: For viewers of Canadian television anyway. Annie is Zixx and Sage later appeared in an episode of Corner Gas. Emmett, Cally's Season 2 boyfriend is Nathan Stephenson, alias Robby of Radio Free Roscoe. Cally herself appeared on that show as a Temporary Love Interest for one of the characters, and Vern was Ted of Ed and Ted, the recurring comic relief.
- High School Dance: A few times. They inevitably end badly, too.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Lance and Cally would do anything to get rid of the comic and go back a nice, normal, boring life. So would Sage and Dizzy once they get drawn into it.
- I Just Want to Be Special: Vern, and to a lesser degree, Dizzy.
- In the Hood: Vern's comic book counterpart, who's always shown in a green hood and cloak.
- Insistent Terminology/ I Am Not Weasel: Nemo/ Omen is a frog, not a toad.
- Involuntary Shapeshifting: Nemo/Omen does not have any control over how often he shifts into a frog. It happens every time someone kisses him in Season 1.
- Jerkass: Omen, Vern, Blaze and Violet are extreme examples.
- Kids Are Cruel/Teens Are Monsters: The bullying, petty cruelty, and cliquism at Lance and Cally's highschool is pretty bad. Poor Sage probably suffers the most from it. If the images in the comic are any indicator, Blaze and Violet's version is even worse.
- Lack of Empathy: Omen displays signs of this in Season 1, easily manipulating, lying to, and threatening others without ever appearing to feel any remorse, while suffering from delusions of grandeur and persecution. Prolonged time in the real world lead to his eventually getting better, ultimately pulling a Heroic Sacrifice to save Cally. Blaze and Violet head into this territory in Season 2, gladly destroying the lives of Lance, Cally, and anyone else who inconveniences them as they try to get loose from the comic. Comic Sage may well be the best example though, manipulating Vern and hurting Lance just for kicks, screwing with the cast's heads, and going so far as to loose a poisonous snake on a pair of girls who mocked real-world Sage, and damaged her Evil Twin's locker. Essentially anyone from the comic is likely to be a full blown sociopath. As Cally points out in an argument with Omen, they're just ink on paper: they can't actually feel.
- Locked Out of the Loop: Dizzy and Sage in Season 1.
- Secret Keeper: In Season 2.
- Loners Are Freaks: Played with. Lance is a somewhat antisocial gaming geek, forming a sharp contrast with his more popular sister. He's still one of the heroes and a fairly pleasant, if intensely private guy. The same goes for Sage, his very odd girlfriend. It's played straighter with Vern, Simone, and their group of misfits who are generally strange and antagonistic, though not outright evil, and done totally straight with Blaze and comic Sage, who both push towards Psycho Loner territory.
- The Man Behind the Man: Blaze and Violet are in back of Omen, who in Season 2 is in back of Vern. The Puppet-Master is in back of all of them, though his role is not revealed until the finale.
- Manipulative Bastard: Blaze and Violet both.
- The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life: Just ask Cally. Her relationships and would-be relationships are repeatedly torpedoed by her efforts to avoid the comic's predictions. Dizzy's luck isn't much better, his relationship with Rebecca being seriously strained, and even Lance and Sage's relationship is put under pressure. Conversely though, there's a good chance that Lance and Dizzy wouldn't have dating lives if the comic hadn't forcibly pushed them and their respective girlfriends together.
- Meaningful Name: Omen. Nemo too, given that Doyle slapped it on him and it means "nobody." The protagonists are named "Stone", meaning they have strong sturdy personalities. Justified trope with Dizzy, as he chose his nickname.
- Mirror Monster: Constantly. It's the only way that the characters from the comic can enter the real world and vice versa. One notable example had Violet and Blaze chasing Omen through a hall of mirrors during the grand finale. A variant had Violet appearing on a baby monitor while Cally was baby-sitting.
- Mismatched Eyes: Both of Sage's counterparts feature this in one form or another: the brown-haired girl in the orange dress has the normal version, while comic Sage has one normal eye and one silvery metallic one.
- Mysterious Past: Omen and Doyle's history is never fully elaborated on. All we know is Omen went too far and ended up as a frog.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Omen, The Puppet-Master.
- Nice Guy: Emmett, Cally's Season 2 Love Interest.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Vern, for a couple of episodes anyway.
- Ordinary High School Student: Lance and Cally (as well as Sage and Dizzy of course). They don't deal well with the comic's intrusion into their lives.
- Redemption Equals Death: It's up to the viewer as to whether he'd actually redeemed himself, but Omen's decision to help Cally leads directly to his death in the appropriately titled "Redemption."
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Played with. Doyle (when under the comic's influence) and his Evil Counterpart frequently use a snake to threaten people. Sage on the other hand, finds the same snake very cute (attempting to name him "Giggles" of all things), and Cally thinks Nemo (an amphibian) is adorable (Lance would disagree) . Then Evil Sage shows up and tries to use Giggles to poison a couple of girls who damaged her locker, only a few episodes after Nemo is shown to be Omen in disguise.
- Sarcastic Devotee: Simone to Vern.
- Sdrawkcab Name: Doyle refers to Omen's frog form as Nemo.
- Shadow Archetype: Violet and Blaze to Lance and Cally, comic Sage to real-world Sage, and arguably, the entire world of the Dark Oracle comic to real-world setting. We don't really see enough of The Puppet-Master to determine if he is this to Doyle.
- Shipper on Deck: Cally ships Lance and Sage. Since they're the Official Couple, she doesn't really have too much work cut out for her.
- Sibling Seniority Squabble: Lance is twenty-odd minutes older and will never let Cally forget that.
- Sickeningly Sweethearts: Sage and Lance. To the point where it disturbs Cally.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Omen and Vern, who both believe Doyle has it in for them because they threaten his position as leader of the cult. Both are convinced they are far more talented then they really are (see Smug Snake below).
- Smug Snake: Omen, and to a lesser degree, Vern. Of the two, Omen is the more high-functioning, although Vern is more dangerous than he looks. Both tend to overestimate themselves though, often with disasterous results.
- The Snark Knight: Simone. She's got the utterly emotionless demanour, biting sarcasm, and exasperation with everyone around her--not least of all Vern--that one expects from this trope.
- The Sociopath: Blaze, Violet, comic Sage. Villain of the Week Claudia might count as well.
- The Stoic: Simone
- Tattooed Crook: Violet has a small tattoo on her arm, and Sage's Evil Twin has an entire sleeve of them running down one of hers. Needless to say, neither of them is very nice.
- There Are No Therapists: Justified. As Lance puts it when warning Cally not to tell anyone: "Best case senario, they think you're lying. Worst case scenario, Mom hauls you to a shrink." The effects aren't as bad as in some shows, but by series end, Lance and Cally (given that they react like "normal" teenagers and not Badass action heroes) are both nervous wrecks with some serious trust issues. Sage and Dizzy aren't much better off.
- Tome of Eldritch Lore: Doyle never leaves home without it.
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: Dizzy sees himself as this to Cally.
- Unnaturally Blue Lighting: Deliberately used to creepy effect once an episode, whenever the comic began directly influencing the real world.
- Villainous Friendship: Vern and Simone are a Type III. She thinks of him as a friend, he doesn't seem to care about her at all, beyond having someone to talk to.
- Weirdness Censor: Fully in-place. Excepting Lance and Cally no one notices anything weird at the school.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Annie. She doesn't appear in Season 2.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Frequently. Attempts as Screwing Destiny rarely work out for the Stone twins.
Episodes of Dark Oracle provide examples of:
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Season 1, Episode 9, "Idolised". Cally wishes for popularity in order to get her ex-best friend Annie back. She almost gets mobbed to death by students who now worship her as though she were a rock star.
- Blondes Are Evil: The two girls who torment Sage in "Through the Glass Darkly". Averted by Rebecca, a very pleasant girl who became Dizzy's girlfriend.
- CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: Season 2, Episode 3, "Through the Glass Darkly". Combined with Kiss of Life in Lance's attempt to resuscitate a drowned Sage (well, actually her Evil Twin pretending to be Sage). The jury's out on whether Sage revived because it worked, or because Evil Sage switched places with her again, thus undoing the damage from the drowning.
- Driven to Suicide: Season 1, Episode 10, "Ticking Clock". Blaze attempts suicide after the apparent death of his girlfriend. Thanks to Cally/Violet tampering with time, he/Lance and she/Sage both make it out unscathed.
- G-Rated Drug: Lance's gaming addiction comes to the fore in "The Game" (Season 2, Episode 4). Previously just a hobby, it slowly starts eating away at his life until almost nothing is left. May actually be Justified of all things as his online partner was Blaze, and it was all part of a plot to get him to walk through the mirror in the museum.
- Hall of Mirrors: In the Season 1 finale, Blaze and Violet chase Omen down a hall of mirrors, stalking him through the glass. It's damned creepy.
- Kiss of Life: In "Through the Glass Darkly." See CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable for the details.
- Locked in a Freezer: Dizzy and Rebecca in Episode 6, Season 2, "Stalker".
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Season 2, Episode 4, "The Game." Gee, Lance, if your comic book alter-ego is named Blaze, then maybe it is a good idea so stop spending so much time with an online partner called "Firestorm."
- Red Right Hand: Comic book Sage's eye when she escapes into reality.
- Riddle Me This: Season 1, Episode 9, "Scavenger". All the clues in the scavenger hunt take the form of riddles.
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Cally's Fashion show in Season 1 Episode 5, "Fashion Queen". The comic prophecisises that Violet's will be a disaster, so Cally tries to do the exact opposite of whatever Violet does. Unfortunately, Violet keeps changing her mind, so Cally does as well, leading to this trope.
- Sinister Shades: Season 2, Episode 3, "Through the Glass Darkly". Used by Evil Sage to cover up her Mismatched Eyes.
- Stalker with a Crush: Dizzy gets one of these in the appropriately titled "Stalker" episode in Season 2. A crazed student named Juniper has a huge crush on him. They hit it off while working in the school cafeteria. She then beomes jealous everytime he talks to another girl. This, along with Dizzy finding her secret shrine of him in the cafeteria's freezer, ultimately leads her to lock him and Rebecca in said freezer. Ironically, her efforts only serve to get Dizzy and Rebecca together. There was also The Bully who stalked Cally in the pilot.
- Sunglasses At Night: Evil Sage in "Through a Glass Darkly" as a way of hiding her Red Right Hand.
- Sword Fight: Season 2, Episode 4, "The Game". Lance and a Violet-posessed janitor briefly engange in one, with Lance nearly being killed by the katana-wielding janitor.
- Toxic Friend Influence: Claudia to Cally in one episode. Justified by the fact that Cally was all but friendless after Annie and the popular crowd dropped her, and saw Claudia as a strong person deserving of emulation.