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As part of a new wave of television shows that debut during the early summer, Kyle XY is a modern-day sci-fi show built around the title character of Kyle. In the first episode, Kyle is a mute, naked, wide-eyed teenager with no memory and no belly button found wandering out of the woods and into the Puget Sound area of Washington state. After a short stay at a juvenile delinquent center, social worker and psychiatrist Nicole Trager sees a benign personality in Kyle that doesn't belong there, so she obtains permission to provide a type of foster care with her own family.
Her family is hesitant at having a stranger around, but Kyle shows a certain affection for them and his simple honesty despite not saying a word wins them over. At the end of the first episode, Kyle says his first words to his surrogate family and their story begins, but not without him having strange traits like preferring to sleep in the bathtub.
The rest of his new family consists of patriarch Stephen Trager, a brother in Josh Trager who is convinced Kyle is an alien, and Lori as a big sister who shows him the nuances of teenage life. Kyle quickly gains a crush in the literal Girl Next Door Amanda and a best friend in Declan, who has an on/off relationship with Lori. Also included is a shadowy stalker Tom Foss who knows where Kyle is from.
Over time, Kyle gathers an array of impressive abilities that no human should have. It appears that all of these abilities are a result of using far more of his mind then anyone else. He learns entire languages and memorizes the encyclopedia in minutes. He is capable of instantaneously solving graduate level calculus. He jumped off a roof without any harm and recreated a jpeg image after briefly seeing the base computer code.
While it doesn't take too long for the mystery to be solved, there are other problems surrounding it, not the least being that there is someone else exactly like him.
Airing on the ABC Family network, part of the success of the show comes from the impressive advertising campaign, including viral marketing and several obvious sponsors. Critical reception has been very warm, with a lot of praise going out to actor Matt Dallas for a tone-perfect performance as the title character.
The series concluded with its third season, leaving a myriad of questions unanswered, in true Kyle XY style. Word of God did, however, say a few things about where the story would have gone had it continued for a couple more seasons.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Declan and Lori.
- Almost Kiss: Kyle is FINALLY about to kiss Amanda at the dance when Jessie blows a fuse...Literally!! The ensuing light show throws them off their first kiss at the very last nanosecond. Audience's head's assplode.
- Awesomeness By Analysis
- Become a Real Boy: A great deal of the first season's most poignant moments deal with Kyle expressing his desire to fit in with the rest of humanity, and more specifically, be a real son to the Tragers.
- Belly Buttonless: Kyle, one of the first clue to others that he's not quite normal.
- Betty and Veronica: Kyle (Betty) and Charlie (Veronica) for Amanda, Lori (Betty) and Jessi (Veronica) for Declan, Mark (Betty) and Declan (Veronica) for Lori, and Amanda (Betty) and Jessi (Veronica) for Kyle.
- Bilingual Bonus
- Birds of a Feather: Lori and Mark, Kyle and Jessi, Josh and Andy.
- Changeling Fantasy
- Characterization Marches On: Hilary was an outstanding example of this. When we first meet her in Season One, she starts out as an unlikeable an Alpha Bitch, but as time goes on, she gradually evolves into a much better person, genuinely repentant for her past misdeeds, and actually becoming one of the most likable characters by the time of the final season.
- Similarly, Declan, who went from being a jealous jock with a dislike for Kyle to his best friend and confidant.
- Circumcision Angst: Kyle averts this, even though Lori has an issue with it.
- Cloning Blues: Kyle being a clone has been Jossed in the third season finale, when a character claims that they share a common mother. Cloning is mentioned in the same episode, but Kyle and Jessi respond as if it's never been done before.
- Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Most of the Big Bads, since the series' primary antagonist was a Mega Corp. Miss Thatcher from Season 1 and Mr Valentine from Season 2 are prime examples.
- Cute Bruiser: Amanda, actually, though it's double subverted. She hits Nathan with a vase, smashing it over his head. Jessi tells her that he'll wake up soon, "because you don't hit hard enough." This time she punches him out much harder.
- Darker and Edgier: The series got progressively darker as it went along, but Season 3 marked a definite shift.
- Dawson Casting: When the show started, only a few of the main teenage characters were played by actors in their teens, and even they grew up by the time the show ended.
- Distaff Counterpart: Kyle gets one in Season 2.
- Evil Brit: Michael Cassidy in Season 3.
- Follow the Leader: Has a rather similar premise to John Doe, another TV series about someone who wakes up naked in Seattle with no memory of his past, who possesses a vast amount of knowledge and who is being watched by a mysterious Mega Corp. The crucial difference is that Kyle simply assimilates information at an incredible rate, while John started off knowing everything, Kyle was a 16-year old science experiment while John was a ressurected dead man, and Kyle had No Social Skills while John was a fairly average man. Of course, the premise itself is not original.
- Foreshadowing: The brief advert for Mada Corp in the second episode of Season One.
- Gamer Chick: Andy, full on. Her goodbye party is playing G-Force and eating junk food. This is one of the reasons Josh falls for her.
- Gender Blender Name: Andy, which in classic tradition cause some identity mix-up. Josh didn't know she was a girl until she told him her screen name, which left him with his jaw hanging open because she'd been the one kicking his ass online.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Amanda and Jessi sure have a lot of tension concerning Kyle once Jessi's programmed into developing feelings for him.
- Ladykiller in Love: Declan for Lori.
- Left Hanging: And how! If anything, the series finale raised more questions than it answered.
- Hair of Gold: Amanda.
- Happily Married: Stephen and Nicole
- Has Two Mommies: Andy.
- Also counts as Suddenly Sexuality, since this was only mentioned in an episode concering homosexuality (although later referenced again in later episodes).
- Inferred Holocaust: In the middle of Season 2, Kyle and Jessi cause a city-wide blackout. No mention is made of the inevitable casualties that would have resulted of this (car crashes, etc).
- Innocuously Important Episode: Since the series was a mystery drama, many episodes fell under this.
- Invincible Hero: Kyle became one of these after Season 1, although Your Mileage May Vary.
- Jerk Jock: At first it seems that Declan is this trope, but he ends up becoming one of the most awesome characters on the show, and a great friend and confidante to Kyle (and love interest to Lori).
- Love Triangle: Kyle/Amanda/Charlie, Lori/Declan/Jessi, Declan/Lori/Mark, and Amanda/Kyle/Jessi.
- Magical Database
- Magic Floppy Disk
- Misplaced Wildlife: The Other Rainforest doesn't have rattlesnakes.
- Muggle Foster Parents
- Naive Newcomer: And how. Much of the first season's comedy was derived from Kyle's attempts to understand various social mores and ideas.
- No Social Skills: Kyle was not raised by anyone and so is not familiar with any social norms.
- Not Wearing Tights
- Not What It Looks Like: (Also, Not What It Sounds Like) Variously played straight and subverted.
- 90% of Your Brain: Specifically, Kyle (and later Jessi) uses around 50% of his brain, which is why he is so gifted and intelligent.
- The Obi-Wan: Adam Baylin serves this role very closely.
- After the series was cancelled, co-creator Julie Pleck revealed that had the show gone on, eventually Declan would have assumed this type of role by the end.
- Photographic Memory: Kyle goes one step further, having a holographic memory, reliving events in three-dimensional space.
- The Plan: Kyle and Jessi hatch one to ensnare Cassidy at the end of Season 3.
- Portmanteau Couple Name: Many, a surprising amount of which are actually in-universe: Leclan (Lorri and Declan), Keclan (Kyle and Declan), Kylanda (Kyle and Amanda) and Kessi (Kyle and Jessi).
- Product Placement: Kyle's Trademark Favorite Food for most of the first season was, quite specifically, Sour Patch Kids.
- This is a VERY rare case where Product Placement was actually done in an endearing way, as Kyle's absolute love for Sour Patch Kids candy became a fun quirk of the character.
- Prom Is for Straight Kids: Happens as one of the principal's Kick the Dog moments; forgetting that in a public school, having a straight-only prom is not actually legal (not that this stops many schools in real life).
- Refuge in Audacity: Apparently in the past Adam Baylin's counterpart/girlfriend Sarah wrote all the answers to a college test on the ceiling of a classroom. The professors, while angry, were far too impressed and shocked to expel her.
- Rule of Pool: Averted. In the first episode, Kyle has a fight with a Police Officer by a swimming pool, yet no one ends up getting thrown into it.
- Sarcasm Blind: But Kyle learns fast.
- Screwed by the Network: ABC Family screwed the show by canceling it with a boatload of unresolved questions.
- A Shared Suffering: Kyle and Jessi
- Supernatural Soap Opera
- There Is Another: Jessi and Adam Baylin's female counterpart Sarah.
- Title Drop: "I'm Kyle XY!" — said by a very drunk Kyle in Season 3.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The fate of Miss Thatcher and the Head of Security at Zzyzx is never revealed, although it is implied that they were killed when Foss firebombed the facility. Similarly, many minor characters appear in only one episode and never show up again, and even main antagonists can simply drop off without a word. After MadaCorp is defeated in Season 2, the corporation — and the newly-promoted Emily Hollander — are seen in one further episode, and are then never mentioned again. In Season 2 alone, there were three separate Big Bads, all of which pretty much went unmentioned after they were defeated.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Jessi
- Wrong Guy First: Amanda with Charlie, who ends up cheating on her.
- X Called. They Want Their Y Back.: "Hillary Duff called, she wants her shirt back."
- Yandere: Jessi. Not quite Ax Crazy, but she does have a very strong tendency to force out the competition, emotional instability, and very strong protective instincts toward anyone she considers family. She even threatens Cassidy with death if she touches the Tragers.
- You Fail Biology Forever: Kyle, drunk out of his head, instantly sobers up after violently puking, then explains that "I reversed the polarity of my liver to return my body to homeostasis!" This may have been a joke.
- Short for Andromeda