"Maternal Instinct" ("Maternal Instincts" on Netflix) is the seventeenth episode of the TV-series Danny Phantom. Maddie, wanting to bond with her son, takes Danny to a mother/son convention, only to be tricked and ending up right in the Rocky Mountains where Vlad suspiciously awaits them both.
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've grown apart as he's gotten older. Jack gets the doorbell and gives her a letter. Reading its content, Maddie instantly cheers up and runs to go find Danny.
Danny meanwhile is trying hard 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 turns back into his human half when Maddie comes down to take Danny to the mother/son science symposium in Florida from the DALV company, which mucks up his plans. Jazz feels Danny has the better deal since she's 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.
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, in fact, she's going out. As she opens the front door though, a giant ghost mutant animal ambushes her. She is thankfully 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. Jack meanwhile continues to fight off new ghosts, but ends up cornered, leaving Jazz to use his gadgets to fight back.
Maddie and Danny meanwhile camp out in the forest where she tries to bond with him once again, failing when Danny refuses to be near her (as the Specter deflector she’s 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, so Vlad's ghosts chase him again until he's 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 was merely an experiment, still refusing to associate herself with ghosts. However, she fights alongside her father 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 the boy, he puts the belt around him and a battle between the two begins.
At first, despite Vlad being weakened due to the Deflector, Danny was 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, which are surrounding 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.
- 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).
- Allusions: See List of allusions
- Goofs: See List of goofs
- This is the first time in the series that Danny's ghost sense does not go off when a ghost is near.
- 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.
- Maddie's full first name is revealed to be Madeline when the camera shows the invite up close to the viewers.
- When Vlad was zapped by his own device by Danny, he transformed back to his human form with a blue-white ring, which then splits into black rings.
- When Jazz wears her mother's jumpsuit and hood, she looks just like her mother.
- Butch Hartman has gone on record to confirm that this episode is his all-time favorite for Danny Phantom.
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