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A Combining Mecha cartoon, created in 1984 by combining the Toei anime shows GoLion and Dairugger XV (this was necessary to meet the minimum 65 episodes for syndication). This is still considered the combining mecha in areas of pop culture that don't have much crossover with anime fandom (for instance, hip-hop), but even anime fans still love it.
There was even supposed to be a third series from a Toei anime, Albegas, but it was never used. The two Voltron series, Voltron: Defender of the Far Universe (aka Lion Voltron) and Voltron: Defender of the Near Universe (aka Vehicle Voltron), occupied completely different storylines.
While not as severe as the editing of Robotech, changes were made to fit the two series together, such as Zarkon (Lion Voltron's main villain) being sort of a vassal of the Drule Empire (the bad guys of Vehicle Voltron), the two short kids being brothers, and the Galaxy Garrison of Dairugger having scenes cut into Lion Voltron, where they would talk about the situation, but never do anything (since there was no "fight footage" available that featured the conversing characters).
Eventually, additional episodes of Lion Voltron were made with all new footage from Toei Animation, which were not based on anything from GoLion. A special called "Fleet of Doom", which featured both Voltrons, was also produced in this way.
Lion Voltron is better remembered, probably because it aired first; this is the same reason the Macross part of Robotech is often remembered more than the latter parts. (It should be noted that the other series of both shows still have their fans.)
Vehicle Voltron had a whopping 15 characters (essentially three five-man bands who all joined up in the end); the target audience (children) could barely keep them sorted out then, much less remember them fondly as adults. Some fans, however prefer "Vehicle Voltron" for its more realistic and somewhat harder sci-fi premise, involving people settling new planets when the old are dying or have become over populated.
In both versions, the Monster of the Week was always a Robeast. Some Robeasts were huge Mecha, and others were apparently non-robot aliens that grew to gigantic size when hit with a special energy beam (a plot device that would be heavily reused decades later in the first season of Power Rangers). Both species of Robeasts were always killed by being sliced in half with the Blazing Sword, upon which they would explode. The explosion footage (like much of the rest of the fight scenes) was recycled for all episodes, so all Robeasts die the same (to censor out some of the quite violent deaths in the actual series).
In the United States toy market, Lion Voltron was sold under the name "Voltron III", while Vehicle Voltron was sold as "Voltron I". A third Voltron, "Voltron II", was also available. This "Gladiator" Voltron was based on Albegas, which was scheduled to be released as another in the US Voltron saga (but, as pointed out above, never materialized).
According to Word of God, World Events Productions originally intended to use Mirai Robo Daltanious to make Voltron, but they asked Toei for "the show with the lion" and were sent GoLion instead, then ended up deciding that they liked it better. Ironically, Daltanious is made up of one of each of the types of robots used in the Voltron series: a lion, a vehicle, and a humanoid "gladiator".
In the early 21st century, Voltron was revived in the form of Voltron: The Third Dimension, a completely CGI animated continuation of the Lion Voltron storyline, set a few years into the future relative to the original, as there are important changes to the setting, but the character cast stay mainly the same. This sub-series tends to have a slightly darker, more mature take on its plots. In its second season, Voltron was redesigned as a "Cyber Stealth" model. How exactly a robot that big could qualify as "stealth" even when painted black is anyone's guess.
There is talk of a movie, but the rights are apparently in dispute, so expect it to sit in Development Hell for a good long while. There have also been several comic book series based on Lion Voltron, including a series that basically retells the origins of the "Voltron Force" and their discovery of Voltron. In addition, Privateer Press will be releasing a Voltron tabletop miniature game based on its Monsterpocalypse ruleset. The show was also used in a series of "Sprite" commercials in the early 2000's (though it was very rap-related).
Then, there's Nickelodeon/Nicktoons' Voltron Force a Sequel Series that premiered in spring of 2011. It picks up seven years after the original; After an incident the lions went crazy and were decommissioned by the Galactic Military, but when Lotor comes Back From the Dead, it's up to the old team and the lions, as well as three new trainees to stop his evil plans.
And finally, a reimagined series based on "Lion Voltron / Go Lion" (plus some splashes of Dairugger / Vehicle Voltron) named Voltron: Legendary Defender ran from mid 2016 to late 2018. It was produced by Dreamworks Animation and aired on Netflix, and it reboot the whole franchise in several ways.
- Adaptation Dye Job: The series' protagonists have gone through several of these in the series' various incarnations and sequels:
- Second season: Allura's hair color is changed from honey blonde to strawberry blonde and Romelle's eye color is changed from indigo to dark brown. One color change that *did* make an iota of sense was making Sven's skin considerably paler, as would generally befit someone of Nordic ancestry.
- Voltron: Third Dimension: Keith's signature black curls and dark eyes were changed to brown hair and blue eyes, much to the chagrin of many of his fans.
- Devil's Due Comic: Keith went back to having dark hair and dark eyes, and Pidge and Sven's eyes were colored green and blue to match their lions respectively. Allura's hair was a conspicuously paler shade of blonde than in the original anime.
- This isn't counting fan art, which usually shows Sven with the traditional Nordic blue eyes and Pidge with green eyes, and had for years before the Devil's Due comic came out.
- Alien Invasion
- All Your Colors Combined
- Animation Bump: A decidedly downhill animation bump in Episodes 53-72, as well as "The Fleet of Doom" special, which were commissioned by a no-name Korean company. The color range of these episodes is more limited than that of the originals, and some of the characters are colored differently. Notable in the latter is Pidge's uniform and the Green Lion being drawn so dark a green it appears black, Romelle's dress having a brighter color, and the aforementioned examples in Adaptation Dye Job.
- Artistic License Astronomy: Earth, when shown in its Establishing Shot, has at least five moons around it.
- Asskicking Pose
- Avengers Assemble
- A Villain Named Zrg: Zarkon
- Badass Normal: Sven survives being nailed in personal combat by a robeast, and survived a plunge from the heights of Castle Doom. Even after that, some time later he was in good enough condition to fly Blue Lion again - even if only once.
- Beta Couple : Romelle and Sven, to Keith and Allura.
- Big Bad: King Zarkon
- Blood Bath: The evil witch Haggar bathes her cat in blood (although it's called a "lava bath" the English version).
- Captain Obvious: Keith, every time they form Voltron - telling them what they do every time.
- Caramelldansen Vid
- Cats Are Mean: Haggar's Right-Hand-Cat
- Chickification: While Allura was a really girly girl to begin with, she learned quickly; she was able to pilot Lance's lion (Red Lion) and hold the Blazing Sword with no problems at all by Episode 23, and Keith later teaches her judo. Unfortunately, her character's progress plateaued in the American-written second season, which had her father's ghost continually solving problems for her.
- Combining Mecha
- Cool Sword
- The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Wonderfully averted when Lance doesn't trust a potential new pilot. Although it was for the wrong reason, Lance was right because the new guy was the Monster of the Week.
- Cut and Paste Translation
- The Dragon: Prince Lotor
- Dub Name Change
- Ermine Cape Effect: Even when not fancied up, even in uniform, Allura still wears her tiara.
- King Zarkon is a straight case, always sitting on his throne, wearing his cape and heavy-looking crown.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Allura and her cousin Romelle.
- Everything's Better with Sparkles: Allura does sparkle sometimes.
- Fairytale Wedding Dress: A dress made for Allura to wear on her possible future wedding.
- Fanfare: Notable in that Voltron's score has one, while GoLion does not.
- Faux Action Girl: Subverted: Allura isn't a good fighter outside of the Blue Lion, but that's because she was NOT exactly trained for combat like the other pilots were before the series started.
- Fighter Launching Sequence
- Five-Man Band
- Forgotten Superweapon: The Blazing Sword, always the last thing pulled out in a battle... Except in the first few episodes, where it was the first.
- Also Voltron himself. When the Voltron team first arrives on planet Aeris, the planet has only just been ripped to shreds by Zarkon - despite the fact that the leadership knew where the lions were and had lready built a complicated transit network to get to them, and someone must have surely known the keys were buried with the King - yet no one handed the keys over to their best pilots and told them to form Voltron.
- For Great Justice: When Keith spouts about Voltron's role.
- Friend to All Living Things: Allura and the mice. She even knows their language. Pidge would also fall into this category.
- Genre Savvy — The first Monster of the Week was actually smart enough to attack the lion robots when they were trying to combine.
- Also, in the ep where Lotor and Haggar faked Allura's death, the team members caught on to the trick and readied themselves for when they tried to steal her body. This was in the American dub/cut. In the original GoLion, the team actually fell for the trick!
- To defeat a Robeast who was programmed to attack the exact shape of Voltron, Hunk detaches the Yellow Lion, throwing the monster off.
- A later robeast demonstrates the same genre savviness as the first robeast, by attacking the lions as they were forming Voltron. The lions themselves demonstrated genre savviness by erecting a protective force field to thwart the attack.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Episode 21, It'll Be A Cold Day. Watch Allura put the mouse down her collar. Look closely at her expression.
- Well, before that was the time she entered the control room wearing nothing but fuzzy slippers and a towel, and the time she sorta lost her bikini top...Allura's quite the Innocent Fanservice Girl, isn't she? It's especially notorious because while there WAS Fanservice by these days already (Cutie Honey, anyone?), this took place before it became super usual in the Super Robot Genre
- Oh, and memo to the erstwhile pilot of the Blue Lion: We female fans salute you for this, erm, framing of your first meeting with Romelle.
- And speaking of Romelle, the start of Chapter 21 had to be cleaned-up to disminish the Rape as Drama vibes surrounding her original self (Amue) and the original Lotor (Sincline), but it still can be seen as pretty rapey. YT comments still tend to go by "... Lotor raped Romelle, right?" and "DAMMIT, LOTOR!"
- In Golion, Sincline has a Paid Harem formed by cute-looking slave girls. The girls were still there in Voltron.
- Princess Corral, the Voltron version of Sincline's once-fiancée Sahlia, still wore her Stripperiffic outfit.
- Gladiator Games
- Hey, It's That Voice!: "The narrator is Optimus Prime?!"
- And in the sequel the future Fry is Pidge.
- Homage: It could be unintentional, but Allura's grand dress dress bears a resemblance to Princess Aurora's.
- Humongous Mecha
- Jerkass Ball: The team catches this and holds it tightly in the episode "Give Me Your Princess," when they become frustrated with Allura's inability to keep up with them and her attempts to do more than she's capable of at the moment. They drop the ball when she willingly puts herself in danger for their sakes, though, and apologize to her.
- Just Eat Gilligan: Why didn't Yorak or whoever devote all or most of their firepower to destroying their worst enemy? Or at least attacking various parts of the planet, rather than the capital city right next to the freaking lions? Either you do some damage and avoid Voltron for a while, or better yet split the Voltron Force's numbers and prevent them from even forming him? And supposedly they have massive numbers of robot warriors, so why not use them to tire out the Voltron force with a small but constant barrage? Or sneak in and gas the damn palace?
- Large Ham: Prince Lotor. Is there any time he doesn't shout his lines?
- Larynx Dissonance: In the English dub, a lot of the female extras voices were done by a guy. This infamously ruins a certain and up-until-then truly dramatic scene between Lotor and Romelle...
- Leader Forms the Head: The Transformation Sequence (played, of course, Once an Episode) comes with a voice-over of the team leader ordering each step of the process, ending with "...AND I'LL FORM THE HEAD!"
- Leitmotif: And it is AWESOME.
- Lighter and Softer:The most violent scenes from Golion were removed in Voltron. Justified, back then censorship was right as Hell so it was either that or not airing the series.
- Limited Wardrobe: With the exception of Allura, and Sven, a Composite Character, everyone else has exactly two outfits - a uniform and a set of civvies.
- Allura has three outfits: her uniform and two sets of civvies. It is revealed in "The Witch Gets a Facelift" (Episode 13), that Allura has a WHOLE CLOSET of clothing, which, for some reason we never see her wear.
- Voltron: The Third Dimension took it to its logical conclusion; everyone EXCEPT Allura wore only their Voltron Force uniforms. Allura was given some dresses to wear on state functions.
- Love Triangle: Hinted at as early as Episode 6, in which Allura physically comes between Keith and Lance during an argument, and again in the final episode of the first season in which Allura, lying down in a field among the Voltron force, is reclining between Keith and Lance. It's a Love Tetrahedron once Lotor is brought into the picture, and with a bit more of "effort" it becomes a Dodecahedron. Alas, the (ultimately downplayed) triangle collapses in the Post Script Season, in which not only are Keith and Allura kissing, embracing, and holding hands, but the soul of Allura's father all but gives them his blessing.
- Love Dodecahedron: As said above, in the Western second season Keith seems to develop stronger feelings for Allura and at the end they're implied in the way to Official Coupledom. Lotor doesn't have an Oedipus Complex like in GoLion but is STILL obsessed with Allura, wants to force Romelle to marry him on top of keeping her prisoner (but doesn't rape her... maybe), almost marries Princess Corrall (but didn't seem to consider the possibility of Polyamory with her and Allura) and in the Western episodes he and Queen Merla are each other's Unwanted Spouses (he cannot stop liking Allura, she wants power rather than his person). And again in the last season, Romelle and a Sven who's become her bodyguard, develop feelings for one another and end up together
- The Merch
- Mini-Dress of Power: Romelle, after she gets rescued and gets involved in the final battle.
- Modest Royalty: Once Allura is a pilot, she usually wears her pink jumpsuit instead of her fancy dress.
- Mr. Fanservice: Ladies, you get your selection of four different flavors of Bishounen: Knight-in-white-armor Keith, ladies' man Lance with the leather jacket and tight pants, quiet and thoughtful Sven, and Lotor, who MIGHT have a heart of...*something* underneath all those impulses of conquest. And pick two male characters from Voltron, ANY two male characters from Voltron--at least the ones of legal age--and you WILL find a female-written Slash Fic pairing them.
- NameTron: Especially since GoLion didn't have that kind of name.
- Never Say "Die": The word destroy was always used instead. However there were a few exceptions, Yurak died after being turned into a monster, a Gory Discretion Shot was pulled on a merchant who attempted to extort Lotor, and Mogor died in a Bloodless Carnage.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: In the first episodes, it is explained that Haggar took the form of a "Space Angel" and "defeated" Voltron by breaking him into five lions. Considering that the lions are pretty formidable individually, this is a pretty heavy "huh?"
- Notable Original Music
- Opera Gloves: The wedding dress Nanny made for Allura. Also part of Romelle's mini-dress of power.
- Overlord, Jr.: Lotor.
- Panty Shot: Episode 19. From a trio of five-year-olds.
- Parental Abandonment: Both of Allura's parents died years before the events of the show.
- Romelle and Bandor's mother isn't seen when they are introduced, so one can assume they've been motherless for some time. And even through the cut-and-paste editing, one can see that their father died in battle; Voltron tries to hide it saying that he went the Sanity Slippage way, but in the Post Script Season he isn't even mentioned even as Pollux Castle is near taken over.
- Pidge (and by extension, his "twin brother" Chip) was a war orphan who eventually was adopted. The woman said to be Hiroshi's mother in GoLion was his and Chip's Parental Substitute in Voltron.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Allura's dress. Oddly enough, Romelle's dress isn't that fancy, but when she wears a battle jumpsuit it fits this trope better.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Galaxy Garrison's job is pretty much Mr. Exposition. Despite supposed huge amounts of resources at their control, all they do is sit around and talk about what Voltron is doing.
- Post Script Season: How much more popular was Lion Voltron than GoLion? It was so much more popular that World Events Productions actually hired Toei Animation to make 20 new Voltron episodes. Not 20 new GoLion episodes, 20 new Lion Voltron episodes. That just doesn't happen very often.
- Princess Classic: Even as a pilot, Allura is like this.
- Princess Curls: Allura/Fala, although they way they are drawn makes them easy to mistake for sideburns.
- Princesses Prefer Pink: Allura wears pink with everything, even her uniform.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Lance is the Red Oni- impulsive, confrontational, outspoken, rebellious, even a little aggressive- and pilots the Red Lion...but wears blue uniform and civvies. Keith is the Blue Oni- rational, calm, level-headed, prudent, reasonable- but wears red uniform and civvies, and pilots the Black Lion. Curiously, Keith is the Hero and Standardized Leader and very idealistic; while Lance is the Lancer and much more realistic. Further playing with this trope is that Allura has an even mix of both Red Oni and Blue Oni traits, wears pink outfits, and pilots the Blue Lion--and has a crush on one of these guys.
- Refusing Paradise: In one episode an angelic being offers eternal paradise to our heroes, who all-but immediately refuse. Internal monologues then confirm their unending devotion to the people of Arus.
- Robeast: The Trope Namer.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Allura as one of the pilots.
- The Short Guy with Glasses: Pidge.
- Slippery Swimsuit: Happens once to Princess Allura. A high dive while wearing a bikini leads to her top surfacing before she does.
- The Something Force
- Speech-Impaired Animal: The Space Mice.
- Standardized Leader: Keith.
- The Starscream
- Stay in the Kitchen: The way Allura's guardians treat her some of the time.
- Stock Footage: Including stock audio. The line "And I'll form the head!" seems weird in Lion Voltron since the Black Lion forms both the head and entire body... but both shows used the same narration for the combining sequence. Thankfully, the Go Lion Transformation Sequence has the head transforming on its own, so the whole thing works.
- Super Robot
- Super Robot Wars: GoLion appears in Super Robot Wars W, which actually fueled Epileptic Trees that W would see an American release. It didn't.
- Tall, Dark and Snarky: Sven, especially when it comes to the Ro Beasts and the Drules.
- Throw It In: The voice actor for Pidge did it as a joke after his more realistic voices for the character were rejected. That was the one they went with.
- Tomboyish Name: This troper was quite surprised to find out that Romelle is almost always a male name.
- Transformation Is a Free Action: Subverted oh so many times, but that's what happens when you get Dangerously Genre Savvy villains.
- True-Blue Femininity: Romelle's main dress.
- Unwilling Suspension: Poor Romelle...
- Warrior Princess: Allura.
- Villainous Crush: Lotor's infatuation with Allura appears to be his motivation for much of the series, and his hatred of Keith. (The last one's downplayed: he sees Keith as his rival but not specifically as a love one, and doesn't seem to be aware of the most important Ship Tease moments between him and Allura)
- White-Haired Pretty Boy : Prince Lotor. He might have the finesse of a brick, but that mane of white hair does make him very, very pretty. Also, Prince Bokar of Sennec from very early on in the series (villain of the week).
- Wicked Witch: Haggar, oh yes
- The Worf Effect: Every encounter the titular robot has with a robeast who is a physical threat to Voltron is an example of this.
- Anti-Villain: One of the Drule Empire commanders, Hazar, becomes increasingly sympathetic at time passes.
- The Battlestar: The Explorer, the space carrier from which the vehicles launched before combining
- Bloodless Carnage: Although Dairugger XV had its fair share of military death, the American dub took pains to tell the audience that the things being shot up were "robot attack ships" and "android stormtroopers." The next-to-last episode even had a violent Drule lynch mob chanting, "Capture the president! Capture the president!"
- Combining Mecha: Two ways! 15 small vehicles could combine into three larger ones, and then if that didn't get the job done, they could re-combine into the titular Humongous Mecha.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Ginger (Patty in the original) was the Sole Survivor of her family.
- Dub Name Change
- Fighter Launching Sequence: Most of the time but not always.
- Forgotten Superweapon: The Blazing Sword... so similar to the Lion version, but both shows were Toei productions anyway.
- Humongous Mecha: Not only Voltron, but the Robeasts as well (they tended to be piloted vehicles in this version).
- Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: On one hand, the dark-haired Lisa from the Sea Team is a calm and gentle Cute Bookworm. On the other, the blonde Ginger from the Air Team is also sweet and kind, but with traces of The Tease.
- Loads and Loads of Characters
- Nobody Can Die: At least in the American dub.
- Old School Dogfighting: the air team vehicles got to do a bit of this before the need to form Voltron arose.
- Ship Tease: A bit, between Lisa and Jeff. Ginger also seemed to like him a little.
- The Short Guy with Glasses: Chip.
- The Something Force
- Stock Footage
- Super Robot
- Transformation Is a Free Action: Subverted: Several Drules were Genre Savvy enough to actually attack Voltron mid-combination sequence, and it worked, sorta. While not fully combined, and therefore not at full power, Vehicle Voltron has fought without a head, and without a leg, just for examples.
- Wagon Train to the Stars
- sometines "body", depending on the episode