"Maternal Instinct" ("Maternal Instincts" on Netflix) is the seventeenth episode of the TV series Danny Phantom.
Sam and Tucker keep track of Danny as he trains his ghost powers inside his parent's basement. Upstairs in the living room, Jack plays with his action figures that he made (of a ghost and himself) while Maddie eyes a photo of her and Danny from when he was a little kid.
Maddie notes how she and Danny used to be really close when he was younger, but expresses some sadness about how they have grown apart as he has gotten older. Jack gets the doorbell and gives her a letter (failing to notice that the postman was obviously a ghost). Reading its content, Maddie instantly cheers up and runs to go find Danny.
Danny, meanwhile, is trying to duplicate himself, but can only manage to duplicate his head. He remarks that Vlad can split into four copies at once, and resolves to spend the weekend training hard in case he has to fight Vlad again. He immediately transforms back into his human self upon hearing his mother's footsteps but ends up being one-eyed due to the duplication of his head in his ghost form. Tucker slaps the back of Danny's head, turning him back to normal. Maddie comes down to take Danny to the mother/son science symposium in Florida by the DALV company, which mucks up his plans. Jazz feels Danny has the better deal, since she is stuck with their father. Jack gives Maddie the Fenton Specter Deflector, a belt designed to keeps ghosts away.
Once they leave on a plane provided by the DALV group, Maddie tries to bond with Danny. Her bonding with Danny hardly begins when the plane goes out of control, and the two enter the cockpit and try to control the plane, only for the controls to be jammed. They escape using parachutes, landing down on the Rocky Mountains. The pilot reveals himself as the ghost who delivered the letter earlier and tells them that they've been set up before flying back up to the plane and flying away.
There, they brave the forest until they come across a large house owned by, of all people, Vlad Masters. While Maddie is relieved to find Vlad, Danny's (understandably) suspicious. Vlad then secretly orders Jack's extermination by some ghosts.
Back home, Jack wants to show Jazz his newest invention, the Jack O' Nine Tails, but she refuses to associate with anything ghost-related and states that she is going out. But as she opens the front door, a giant mutant ghost animal ambushes her. She is saved by Jack and is impressed with his skills.
Meanwhile, Maddie explains her predicament to Vlad while Danny continues to be suspicious of him. Vlad then finally confesses his undying love for her and requests she and Danny stay with him, much to the anger of Maddie, who storms out of the cabin with Danny.
In the meantime, Jack continues to fight off new ghosts, but ends up cornered, leaving Jazz to use his gadgets to fight back.
In the forest, Maddie and Danny camp out for the night. Though she tries to bond with him once again, Danny refuses to be near her (as the Specter Deflector she is wearing electrocutes ghosts). As they sleep, Danny is kidnapped by Vlad's ghost animals, which short out his powers for three hours using Vlad's new invention, the "Plasmius Maximus," and take him to Vlad. Vlad then reveals that DALV was just Vlad backwards, and that he staged the whole "mother/son" convention as part of his plan.
Danny escapes, but Vlad's ghosts chase him again until he is saved by his mother, which he is extremely grateful for. With little choice left, Maddie suggests returning to Vlad's for safety. She then tries to protect Danny, locking the Specter Deflector securely on his waist, preventing him from "going ghost."
Back at Fenton Works, Jazz dons one of her mother's jumpsuits, which Jack is immensely proud of, except Jazz convinces him that it is merely an experiment, still refusing to associate herself with ghosts. However, she fights alongside her father without hesitation when more of Vlad's ghost animals attack.
Meanwhile, Danny steals the key to unlocking the Specter Deflector while Maddie hugs him, expressing her love for him. She then shoos him away for the time being while she "flirts" (just to get on Vlad's good side for her advantage) with Vlad. Afterwards, she leaves Danny alone with him while she goes to "freshen up" (in reality, trying to find a phone).
Danny takes advantage of this by removing the Specter Deflector and tricking Vlad into thinking he wants to be his stepson. When Vlad hugs him, Danny puts the belt around him, and a battle between the two begins.
Despite Vlad being weakened due to the Deflector, Danny seemed to be losing until Vlad tried to duplicate himself, only to grow an extra head. Danny attacks both heads at top speed and wins the fight. However, Vlad sends his ghost animals on Danny yet again, until he convinces them to turn on Vlad after showing them the animal pelts and head mounts that surround Vlad's walls.
After using the Plasmius Maximus to (ironically) short out Vlad's powers, Vlad runs off as the ghost animals chase him. Maddie returns dejected that she has still yet to find a phone, and then remembers the numerous vehicles Vlad kept in storage she found as she was searching for a phone. Taking a helicopter, Maddie and Danny fly back home. Inside the copter, Danny apologizes to his mom for how he acted towards her and tells that he did have a nice time with her—Maddie's touched by this and accepts her son's apology, and also makes Danny promise not to tell Jack or Jazz about what happened, which Danny agrees to.
Back home, Jack and Jazz are cleaning up the house in time for Maddie and Danny's return, and Jack makes Jazz promise not tell Maddie or Danny about what happened while they were gone, which Jazz agrees, who's now more willing to accept her family loves for the paranormal and ghost-hunting in general. All is well in the Fenton-household until Jazz chases a stray mutant beaver out of the house. Jack follows, handing his drink to Danny. Danny drinks it and spits out, realizing there's backwash in it.
- Danny Phantom: Season 1
- When Vlad and Maddie are standing around the bookshelves and Vlad starts talking about Jack 1) causing the accident that ruined his life, 2) stealing Maddie, and 3) being involved in the backwash incident, the ensuing dialogue between Vlad and Maddie is similar to that between Jazz and Vlad (respectively) in "Secret Weapons." Here Maddie says, "Whoa, what was that?" Vlad repeats points 1 and 3, skipping over point 2 until Maddie says, "No, in the middle!" In "Secret Weapons," Vlad asks, "Wait, what was that?" Jazz repeats her first and third points, and skips over her second point until Vlad says, "No, in the middle!"
- Vlad yells at Danny that he will not get a cat, but he ends up getting a cat during the third season, and even names it "Maddie."
- When Jack plays with his action figures, he quotes himself from "Bitter Reunions" (implying that he is reenacting the final battle with Vlad from the earlier episode).
- Vlad's weakest ghost ray is blue in this episode hints that Danny's strongest ghost ray is blue as shown in Reign Storm.
- Allusions: See List of allusions
- Goofs: See List of goofs
- This is one of only four episodes that features Danny in his human form on the title card, and is the only one to also feature Maddie.
- Butch Hartman has gone on record to confirm that this episode is his all-time favorite for Danny Phantom.
Click here to view the gallery.