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"Three friends become the guinea pig of a brilliant inventor. The goal: to create the greatest webtoon of all time! They failed. Now witness the failure! BONUS STAGE!"
Bonus Stage (abbreviated BS) was an animated Flash action/adventure/comedy series filled with surreal humor, sarcasm, and pop culture references.
The cartoon was focused on Joel Dawson, action scientist, and his roommate Phil Argus, a normal person with superpowers who is mostly frustrated and serious. There's Elly Strife, who has a crush on Joel that goes unrequited, aside from Phil's crush on her. Rya Botkins is a robot created by Joel to be Phil's girlfriend; she is a Deadpan Snarker who verbally (and literally) rips people (mostly Phil) apart, and is not really Phil's girlfriend. Finally, Phil's mom, Jessica Argus, is middle-aged, but acts and looks like a 25-year-old babe who just wants to fit in with the crew.
All this started with High Score, the original show before Bonus Stage, which got started as an attempt to compete with Homestar Runner. The cartoon only lasted 4 episodes and was canceled due to lack of interest from the creator.
Bonus Stage was created by Matt Wilson. Matt hated some of his fans, because they did not think or behave like normal rational human beings and none of them were ever satisfied with anything he did, making it impossible to adjust the writing. Regardless, his fans loved him anyway.
Matt also did nearly all the voices on the show and used FL Studio to create his background music and theme song. He used Swift3D for CGI.
Bonus Stage ended in 2006 from financial issues and lack of interest from Matt Wilson. After years of waning interest and financial woes, Matt made the decision to end the series abruptly mid-arc with a Downer Ending. The site itself went down in 2009, so the show can now be found here or here (it will be necessary to constantly edit your URLS in the keenspot subdomain due to flash menus).
- Aborted Arc: The series ended one season short of its intended run, leaving several plot threads (including an arc involving the Cloaked Figure from episode 79) dangling.
- "This is stupid. Let's do a different plot!"
- Art Evolution: Big time.
Phil: "Hey, you guys got new designs. ...I hate them."
- Better Than a Bare Bulb
- Big Bad: In Seasons 1 and 2, It was Joel's future self. In Seasons 3 and 4, it was Evil. In Seasons 5 and 6 it was KOKOR And Stomach King. In Season 7 and 8, The Antagonist would have been Cassidy.
- Breast Attack: "I'm going to specifically punch you in the nipple!"
- Casanova: Joel is sometimes shown as this.
- Christmas Cake: Arguably Jessica, since she's technically middle-aged. Though whether or not she counts (she looks and acts like she's 25) is debatable.
- Christmas Episode: Two of them. They're somewhat less heartwarming than the usual fare for this trope.
- Clip Show: Subverted in Episode 8.
Phil: "Hey, remember that time we..."
Joel: "No!" *cue credits*
- Coincidental Broadcast: Lampshaded in episode 49 when the gang turns on the TV, only to have a news reporter say, "If you've just joined us..." and then compliment the viewer on their excellent timing.
- Conspicuous CG: in some external shots.
- Creator Backlash: Matt Wilson really hated the show and its fans. That he got threatened both if he stopped or continued making the show, and that there were reports of fans stalking him... perhaps some of the hate was justified, at least to him.
- Crossover: With Space Tree. And Waterman.
- Cyberspace: The entire show takes place within Joel's simulated reality.
- "Prepare to encephalon dive... Oh wait, we can't do that."
- Dead Baby Comedy: Dear God, YES.
- Deader Than Dead: Mr. Malice in episode 66. (He got better.)
- Deadpan Snarker: Rya, though most of the other characters indulge in their fair share of snark as well.
- Death Is Cheap: So much so that in later seasons, it's not uncommon for main characters to die repeatedly in the same episode.
- In one episode, Joel is about to be crushed by a giant robot. His last words?
Joel: "Well, see you next episode."
- The Devil Is a Loser: Satan is a droning bore, ranting on and on about absolutely nothing. His idea of torture includes watching Time Squad 24/7 or eating his mom's spaghetti. Even Hitler couldn't handle that.
Joel: You are the worst. Satan. Ever.
- Downer Ending: Made even worse by episode summaries for the canceled final season having already been written and the whole thing planned out, then suddenly snatched away and replaced with everyone dying and the show itself being erased from time.
- Which is then completely undone in episode 89, with Phil even questioning how he's still alive.
- Episode 79 what with Rya's death and all.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Mr. Malice is deliberately forgotten on Hydrox and blown up along with the rest of the planet. Not that anyone really missed him, though...
- The same could be said for the virtual environment created by Joel at the end of the old Episode 87... yeah, thanks a lot, Phil!
- Earthshattering Kaboom: Hydrox is blown up due to Joel pushing red buttons.
- Emo Teen: Candace, in a flashback.
Phil: "Emo girlfriends. They kill you on the inside."
- Flat Character: Most of the extras.
- Fountain of Youth: Jessica is turned into a twenty-five year old thanks to Evil screwing around in Joel's lab.
- The Fundamentalist: Jessica prior to being de-aged.
- Gilligan Cut / Sarcasm Failure: How they got into space in the first place.
Joel: "Hey, let's do the show in space."
Phil: "Yeah Joel, let's do the show in space."
- cut to them in space*
Phil: "I guess I forgot that sarcasm holds no power over this show."
- Gross Up Close-Up: Parodied. Two somewhat typical examples are used, and the third is just a title card reading "Horrifying Detail Shot #3".
- Harmless Villain: The Stomach King. He loses all credibility in his first appearance when all his plans turn out to be cheap knock-offs of comic books and video games. From there, his sporadic appearances only cement his loser status.
- JOEL'S #6 ENEMY.
- "Number six? What the f*ck?!"
- Evil arguably qualifies as well, though he/she is somewhat less harmless than the Stomach King.
- The Tandy Brothers, especially in their first couple of appearances. Even when they took over the world, they never really grew out of being harmless.
- JOEL'S #6 ENEMY.
- I Have Many Names: Shipmaster
Greg Kevin Douglas Felix GermanWinslow.
- Informed Deformity: Phil is treated as horrifically ugly, especially by women, despite not looking appreciably different from any other character. As with many character traits in the show, this is increasingly forgotten later on.
- Its Pronounced Tropay: The fifth and sixth seasons were set on the "eShip": the "Spac" is silent.
- Halfway Plot Switch: This show does this in spades.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The Stomach King, thanks to not checking his watch, once blew himself up with his own self-destructing ray gun.
- Hot Mom: Jessica after being de-aged.
- Jerkass: Arguably most of the cast.
- Especially Joel.
Joel: ...I made Elly cry. Awesome!
Blakken White: Congratulations! You're an asshole!
- Jump the Shark: Joel invokes this in-universe by name at least twice for a gag.
Joel: Come quick, we're about to travel over Shark World. I don't know why we haven't done this already.
Joel: No, no. There are some sharks I refuse to jump.
- Killed Off for Real: Mr. Malice, KOKOR, Rya.
- Love Dodecahedron: Phil loves Elly (and Word of God appeared to imply that had the series continued, the two of them would've become an item). Elly is stalking Joel and dating Andrew. Joel is dating Jessica, and is technically supposed to be June's boyfriend as well, though he doesn't seem to acknowledge her existence much. Rya and Cassidy are both pretty strongly implied to be in love with Phil; Rya was actually built to be Phil's girlfriend. Word of God actually states that Cassidy was so obsessed with Phil that she killed Rya, viewing her as a threat to their love. None of this plays that major a role in the series, though (save for a few episodes).
- Meaningful Name: The main villain in season 4's name is Evil.
- MST3K Mantra: Invoked brilliantly in Episode 81 when Phil asks a whole bunch of questions about the nature of the virtual world. In this instance, the mantra is a bowling ball and it's application is it being thrown at Phil's face.
- Negative Continuity
- Nice Hat: Cassidy wears a pink striped top hat, which she has apparently worn since grade school.
- No Fourth Wall: There have been episodes about why there isn't a plot-related episode today.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Arguably KOKOR. Yet another Harmless Villain in the early seasons, he was unceremoniously killed off in season five. Season six had him rebuilt, with an entire armada of aliens backing him up. He even managed to defeat the heroes for several episodes, before Joel blew up the whole planet.
- Overly Long Gag: "Oh, emo foreverrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr..."
- Planet Eris: Charismaville. Or rather, everything within Joel's simulated universe. Justified since, well, it's a simulation, so it's all intentional. Except when it isn't.
- Planet of Hats: Lampshaded
Phil: "Isn't it great that each planet is named after its purpose? I sure think so!"
- Put on a Bus: Jessica in episode 84.
- Ridiculously Human Robot: Rya. Possibly June as well.
- Robo Speak: Rya was voiced by a voice synthesizer for the majority of the series. Subverted with June, though there is some debate as to whether or not she's actually a robot.
- Sanity Slippage: Jessica goes from one of the most capable characters in season five to a mentally unhinged lunatic in season six.
- Screw Yourself: Joel once made Phil a girlfriend who was his female clone. Phil is greatly disturbed once he finds out.
- Shout-Out: Numerous. It would probably just be easier to list what WASN'T given a Shout-Out or Take That.
Joel: Well, I guess that about covers our unnecessary '80s references for this week.
- Single Biome Planet: Hydrox (Water Planet).
- Snap Back: Quite a few times, always played and often lampshaded for comic value. Borders on Negative Continuity.
- Stalker with a Crush: Elly, with Joel being the object of her desires. Word of God has stated that Cassidy is even worse, though she has a thing for Phil rather than Joel.
- Phil arguably counts as well. He writes Fan Fiction pairing him up with her, for God's sake!
- Hell, half the characters count. It's kind of implied that Andrew was stalking Elly as well.
- Straight Man: Phil (less so in later episodes).
- Take That: The final episode(ish) was a long series of jabs at the Ctrl+Alt+Del webtoon, among others.
- The Stinger: Several episodes, especially in seasons 3-5, had a quip by one of the characters after the credits.
- Unbuilt Trope: Episode 80 resembled an Abridged Series for Popeye, at least a year before the first episode of Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series.
- Little Kuriboh has actually stated himself that he didn't start the abridged series idea, he just gave it a name.
- Un Cancelled: Came very close. After Matt Wilson announced that he was ending Bonus Stage a season early due to financial troubles, a fan offered to pay him $15,000 to continue the series. Nothing ever came of it.
- Wacky Fratboy Hijinks: Episode 40, in which a fraternity (played by the cast of Waterman) moves into the house next door.
- What Could Have Been: Season 8, obviously.
- The plots to seasons 7 and 8 were changed around after season 6 ended. Perhaps anticipating that the series might not make it to an 8th season, Matt wrapped up several of the characters story arcs in season 7. He then left an option open for a more bare-boned (and therefore cheaper to make) season 8, with the 100th and final episode "Thank You for Playing" (in which every villain Joel and Phil had to face over the course of the series return to fight them, forcing the two to recruit all of their allies to counter the villains) being replaced by the much less ambitious "Trial Expires After 30 Minutes" (in which Joel and Phil confront the cloaked villain who killed Rya).
- Your Head Asplode: One of the more frequent causes of death in the series.