This article is about the television series. For the character, see Darkwing Duck.
Darkwing Duck is an American animated television series produced by The Walt Disney Company that ran from 1991 – 1995 and 1996 – 1997 on both the syndicated programming block The Disney Afternoon and Saturday mornings on ABC. It featured an eponymous superhero anthropomorphic duck, with the alter ego of Drake Mallard (voiced by Jim Cummings). It is the only direct spin-off of DuckTales.
Darkwing Duck is about the adventures of the titular superhero, aided by his sidekick and pilot, Launchpad McQuack. In his secret identity of Drake Mallard, he lives in an unassuming suburban house with his adopted tomboyish daughter Gosalyn, next door to the bafflingly dim-witted Muddlefoot family. Darkwing struggles to balance his egotistical craving for fame and attention against his desire to be a good father to Gosalyn and help do good in St. Canard. Most episodes put these two aspects of Darkwing's character in direct conflict, though Darkwing's better nature usually prevails.
Darkwing Duck was initially developed as a spin-off of the very successful DuckTales series. Darkwing Duck entered production roughly one year after DuckTales ended. Darkwing Duck was inspired by two specific episodes of DuckTales, Double-O-Duck and The Masked Mallard. The original concept had Launchpad McQuack as the star. Instead, Launchpad appeared as Darkwing's sidekick in the finished product. Gizmoduck, a character from the final season of DuckTales, also appeared in a handful of crossover-themed episodes. The name "The Masked Mallard" became a epithet often used to refer to Darkwing himself.
Where most prior Disney Afternoon series featured at least some characters from classic Disney animation, Darkwing Duck featured a completely original cast. Even the DuckTales characters it reused didn't have any counterparts in early Disney shorts or even the Carl Barks Disney comics. It was the also first Disney Afternoon cartoon to emphasize action rather than adventure, with Darkwing routinely engaging in slapstick battles with both supervillains and street criminals. While conflict with villains was routine in earlier Disney Afternoon, actual fight scenes were relatively rare.
Darkwing Duck was also the first Disney Afternoon property that was produced completely as a genre parody. Prior shows would contain elements of parody in certain episodes, but would otherwise be straight-faced adventure concepts in the tradition of Carl Barks's work in the Disney comics. By contrast, every episode of Darkwing Duck is laden with references to superhero, pulp adventure, or super-spy fiction.
Darkwing Duck himself is a satirical character. His costume, gas gun, and flashy introductions are all reminiscent of pulp heroes such as the Sandman, Batman, Crimson Avenger, the Green Hornet, James Bond, the Scarlet Pimpernel, and most especially The Shadow. The fictional city of St. Canard is a direct parody of Gotham City, the fictional city in which Batman resides and operates.
Cast and characters
Heroes and allies
- Darkwing Duck (voiced by Jim Cummings) – Drake Mallard, average citizen by day and St. Canard's resident superhero by night.
- Gosalyn Mallard (voiced by the late Christine Cavanaugh) – Drake "Darkwing Duck" Mallard's nine-year-old adopted tomboyish daughter. Occasional crime fighter as "Crimson Quackette" and later as "Quiverwing Quack."
- Launchpad McQuack (voiced by Terry McGovern) – Darkwing Duck's sidekick, originally from DuckTales. He refers to Darkwing as "DW" and Darkwing often calls him "LP."
- Honker Muddlefoot (voiced by Katie Leigh) – The Mallards' next door neighbor and Gosalyn's best friend.
- Herb Muddlefoot (voiced by Jim Cummings impersonating Andy Devine) – Father of Honker Muddlefoot, next door neighbor of Drake Mallard (Darkwing Duck). Drake finds him very irritating but they do work together well in at least one episode. Herb sells Quakerware (the Darkwing Duck universe's version of Tupperware) as a salesman for a living.
- Binkie Muddlefoot (voiced by Susan Tolsky) – A beautiful yellow chicken housewife who is invariably overbearing yet ditzy. Competent in housework and doing her chores she is often the foil to Herb's fun.
- Tank Muddlefoot (voiced by the late Dana Hill) – The eldest Muddlefoot son, Tank is a bully who often makes life difficult for his younger brother, Honker. His full name, Tankard H. Muddlefoot, is revealed in the episode "Life, the Negaverse, and Everything."
- Megavolt (voiced by Dan Castellaneta) - A former high school classmate of Drake Mallard, Megavolt gained the power to control electricity after a bully sabotaged one of his science experiments. Megavolt is quite psychotic and uses his control over electricity as his main weapon. His costume consists of his original jumpsuit, gloves, boots, and safety goggles from the power company as well as a giant battery worn on his back to keep his power flowing on the go and a headpiece that resembles a big plug. Megavolt was the most popular villain on the show and therefore the most recurring. Megavolt often referred to Darkwing as either "Darkwing Dork" or "Dorkwing." He shorts out when hit with water, a weakness that Darkwing often uses when defeating him.
- Dr. Reginald Bushroot (voiced by the late Tino Insana) - A scientist who tried to fuse animal DNA with that of plants in an attempt to give people the ability to feed themselves through photosynthesis. The experiment was a success but with a price. Bushroot was turned into a half duck/half plant creature who now desperately seeks a friend. Bushroot uses his newfound control over plants as his main weapon.
- The Liquidator (voiced by Jack Angel) - A slimy salesman who was in the bottled water business, Liquidator was mutated into his present state (a water based monstrosity) after falling into a vat of a competitor's water which was revealed to be laced with a corrosive chemical during a battle with Darkwing and Launchpad. Since he is made of water, he and Megavolt do not interact well.
- Quackerjack (voiced by Michael Bell) - A toy maker gone insane and wearing a harlequin style jester costume, Quackerjack uses his arsenal of dangerous playthings as weaponry while he robs banks or just causes chaos for the fun of it. He is almost never without his trademark doll, Mr. Banana Brain, which can be used as an explosive. His most common toys are mechanical toy chattering teeth of various sizes. He has been known to team up with Megavolt at times.
- Negaduck (voiced by Jim Cummings) - An evil version of Darkwing from a parallel reality called the "Negaverse" which is a nightmarish reverse version of St. Canard. Negaduck is virtually identical to Darkwing except that the colors of his costume are red, black, and yellow. Negaduck has no special powers or abilities but can disguise himself as Darkwing to make the hero look like a criminal. He is very ruthless and has no problem with hurting people to get what he wants: great wealth and authority over both worlds. He is the leader of the Fearsome Five; a group he formed with Quackerjack, The Liquidator, Bushroot, and Megavolt.
- Steelbeak (voiced by Rob Paulsen) - Acting like a 1920's gangster, Steelbeak is the top agent of F.O.W.L. (short for Fiendish Organization for World Larceny). He gets his name from the metal beak he wears in place of his original one, which was apparently lost sometime before the events of the show, though it is not revealed how. This trademark beak also serves as a weapon because it can bite through almost anything.
- Tuskernini (voiced by the late Kenneth Mars) - A walrus and an ego-driven but failed Hollywood film director whose schemes are built around films, and travels with a cadre of silent yet efficient penguin sidekicks. His name is a reference to famed conductor Arturo Toscanini, though the resemblance ends there.
- Main article: Darkwing Duck episode list
Over two seasons, there were a total of 91 episodes.
Hot Spells controversy
In the second season of the show, the creators were developing a Halloween-themed episode. In the episode "Hot Spells," Gosalyn makes a deal with the devil that costs Darkwing his soul. The episode was never replayed on Toon Disney after its initial airing.
- Main article: Darkwing Duck Theme
There are seven different versions of the Darkwing Duck introduction. The first two were aired on the Disney Channel when Darkwing Duck first premiered and featured alternate animation and a different version of the familiar theme song. The third version was used on the "Darkly Dawns the Duck" VHS. The fourth version was used in syndication, and is actually the one they currently use today. The fifth is the version used on The Disney Afternoon, and is the same as the fourth version, only cut for time. The sixth and seventh introductions were used on the ABC Saturday Morning airings, and contained mostly scenes from those episodes, starting with Darkwing tiptoeing up the Audubon Bay Bridge.
The two-part episode "Darkly Dawns the Duck" originally aired as an hour-length TV special on September 7, 1991 as part of a larger TV special, "The Darkwing Duck Premiere and Back to School With the Mickey Mouse Club." The film served as the show's pilot. Seasons 1 and 2 were aired simultaneously in the Autumn of 1991. Season 1 on syndication as part of The Disney Afternoon block of shows. Seasons 2 and 3 aired on Saturday mornings on ABC. All episodes remained in syndicated reruns on The Disney Afternoon until 1995 and then returned to the line up from 1996 to 1997.
The series was last seen in the U.S. on Toon Disney, but due to the rebranding of Jetix and other Disney shows to the channel, it later vanished completely from the network. Along with a number of other shows, it has been removed from schedules in November 2004. Toon Disney aired the Christmas episode featuring Bushroot on December 25, 2004. The show was last seen on Toon Disney in the United States on January 19, 2007 as part of the Toon Disney Wild Card Stack. Certain episodes from the show's original run rarely re-aired while the show was on Toon Disney. These episodes appear to have been removed for content reasons. The most prominent of the rarely-seen episodes is "Hot Spells," which features a Satan-like character called Beelzebub.
This show is currently airing on:
- Disney XD: Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Flanders, Scandinavia, Turkey, and Serbia,
- Disney Channel: Russia and Serbia
- Sky Movies Disney: United Kingdom
- Toon Disney: Finland
- Main article: Darkwing Duck videography
Four VHS tapes, each containing two episodes of Darkwing Duck, were released under the title Darkwing Duck: His Favorite Adventures in the United States in 1993: Darkly Dawns the Duck, Justice Ducks Unite!, Comic Book Capers, and The Birth of Negaduck! However, most countries around the world only received releases of Darkly Dawns the Duck and Justice Ducks Unite! Each video came with two glow-in-the-dark trading cards. Featured on the cards were: Darkwing, Launchpad, Gosalyn, Honker, Negaduck, Bushroot, Megavolt, and Taurus Bulba.
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released a 3-disc DVD box set entitled Darkwing Duck: Volume 1 on August 29, 2006. It includes the first 27 episodes aired in syndication, including the 2-part pilot "Darkly Dawns the Duck", which was presented in edited form as opposed to the uncut version's release on VHS and Laserdisc. The second volume, containing the next 27 syndicated episodes, was released on August 7, 2007. Unlike DuckTales and Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, the episodes on the DVDs are presented in the order they aired. The sets do not contain any special features.
One volume was released to Region 2 DVD, which contains all 65 of the syndicated episodes.
Disney Comics published a four-issue Darkwing Duck comic book mini-series in late 1991, right around the time of the show's syndicated premiere. This mini-series was an adaptation of a draft of the script for "Darkly Dawns the Duck". Like the TaleSpin comic before it, it was meant to spin off a regular comic series, but the Disney Comics implosion happening at the time prevented that plan. However, Darkwing Duck stories were regularly printed in Disney Adventures magazine between the November 1991 and January 1996 issues. Additionally, Darkwing Duck stories were also regularly featured in Marvel Comics' short-lived Disney Afternoon comic book.
On March 13, 2010, Boom! Studios announced that they would be releasing a four-issue Darkwing Duck miniseries, titled "The Duck Knight Returns," starting in June of that year. The series was written by Aaron Sparrow (uncredited), Ian Brill and drawn by James Silvani, and was set some time after the end of the show. Boom! later announced that due to positive fan reaction, the comic series would be extended indefinitely as an ongoing. After Disney's purchase of Marvel Comics however, the series ended at issue 18.
In October 2014, artist James Silvani that the first sixteen issues of the comic would be revised and collected in an Omnibus-styled book titled Darkwing Duck: The Definitively Dangerous Edition, to be published by Joe Books. It was also announced that the omnibus would lead in to a new monthly series written by Sparrow and drawn by Silvani. The new series began in April 2016, less than a month after the show's 25th anniversary, but was cancelled after only eight issues.
Darkwing Duck was named the 93rd best animated series by IGN, calling it "one of the many reasons why after-school cartoons rule."
References in other media
- In the Mickey Mouse Works episode "Pluto's Magic Paws," Pluto can be seen watching a television program called "Darkwing Dog".
- In the Italian dub of Recess, T.J. mentions Darkwing Duck to be one of his favorite shows. This does not occur in the original version of the series.
- This show originally was going to spoof the James Bond series, with the working title Double O Duck; in the end, however, the Darkwing Duck character is closer to DC Comics' Batman in style, who is also known as the "Dark Knight".
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