DEBATE DAY – Gargoyles: The Best Disney Animated TV Show (After DuckTales)

It’s Debate Day here on Trope and Dagger! This week, we’re picking sides on the very best animated TV show that Disney has ever made! Now, we both agreed that DuckTales was the clear winner here, so technically we’re picking the second best show, but who really gives a shit? Cartoons! To read up on Andy’s silly little pick, go here: The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Now, let’s take a look at the real answer, shall we?

When people think of Disney cartoons, they generally think of talking ducks, bears, and mice, usually with an insanely catchy theme song that will haunt your dreams for weeks (woo-woo). It’s easy to forget that Disney has also made excellent dramatic fare, with complicated story-lines and characters, and featuring love, loss, betrayal, and terrifically exciting action. I am referring to, of course, Gargoyles.

One thousand years ago, superstition and the sword ruled. It was a time of darkness, it was a world of fear, it was the age of Gargoyles. Stone by day, warriors by night, we were betrayed by the humans we had sworn to protect, frozen in stone by a magic spell for a thousand years. Now, here in Manhattan, the spell is broken and we live again! We are defenders of the night, we are Gargoyles!

While I do love most of the classic Disney cartoons (though admittedly am unfamiliar with more recent shows), Gargoyles has always been my personal favorite of the bunch. For on thing, it is a completely original property, brand spanking new when it launched, featuring no known Disney characters. This was kind of radical move for Disney animation, as most previous shows, especially on the Disney Afternoon, had featured characters that had at least appeared on other shows or in movies already. This makes Gargoyles stand out as something daring for Disney, a dark show with completely new characters. Not only that, but they launched with a 5-part series premiere! There’s a reason, of course, that Disney had so much confidence in the show: it’s fucking great.

Now, I mentioned opening themes, and Gargoyles can hang with the best of them. You may not get it stuck in your head for days on end because you heard the title of the show, but damn is it tremendous:

Then we have the nuanced character personality and design. Each Gargoyle and human has its own unique personality, but they have complicated relationships with one another. Demona, for example, was Goliath’s lover but then spent 1000 years apart from him, and upon their reunion she betrayed him and became his enemy. We then later discover that she mothered a child that Goliath was unaware of who had been living in Avalon. When Angela travels to Manhattan she is courted by all three younger Gargoyles: Brooklyn, Lexington, and Broadway, which she finds very frustrating and tells them so, eventually falling for Broadway because he saw her for who she was more than just a female to be won. I mean, seriously complicated stuff for a kid’s show, and that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. I mean, can’t believe they went there with the Goliath and Elisa romance.

You said it, buddy.
You said it, buddy. I like that they explored that aspect of their relationship, though. Good on you for your progressive spirit, Disney!

There was also more adventure and danger in this show than in other Disney cartoons. The Gargoyles battled robots, clones, arch-mages, cyborgs, mutates, and the fucking Nazis. They traveled through time and traversed the entire world, visiting other countries and encountering fascinating allies and diabolical enemies. They even tangled with characters from Shakespeare, throwing down with Puck and Macbeth themselves!

Why, yes, they do have a magical immortality bond. Duh.
Why, yes, of course Macbeth and Demona have a magical immortality bond. Duh.

And, even with so much going on, the show maintained a very precise continuity. Character changes would remain intact, motivations would not be forgotten, past transgressions would continue to plague relationships. If something happened in the show, whether it happened 1000 years, 50 years, or 10 minutes ago, it was not forgotten within the world. Each episode fed into the next and the show was richer for it.

And while we’re on the subject of rich, Keith David may have the most perfect voice for a massive gargoyle named Goliath. He’s done a ton of voice work in his time, and behind Admiral Anderson in Mass Effect, I would say that this is his finest voice work that he’s ever done. He embodies Goliath, the strength, the rage, the sadness, and makes you believe in the character. Of course, all the voice acting in this show is amazing. I especially appreciated how many Star Trek alumni showed up as characters on the show. There’s Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis as regular bad guys, but throughout the show’s run Kate Mulgrew, LeVar Burton, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Colm Meany, Avery Brooks, and Nichelle Nichols all showed up for parts. Love the Star Trek love this show had.

Way to fuck it up, Gates and Patrick.
Way to fuck it up, Gates and Patrick.

Now, I’m not going to deny that the terrible third season exists. It does. Even as a naive ten year old I recognized that the third season is abysmal. The writing staff was mostly new and it thankfully only lasted 13 episodes due to the awful direction it took. A small footnote after the long and amazing second seaon, it’s a sad truth that The Goliath Chronicles, as the third season was subtitled, tarnished the great reputation that the show had. But the fact of the matter is that even when you count the poor showing that is the third season, Gargoyles still stands tall above other Disney shows in terms of quality of animation, acting, and writing. If you discount those crap episodes, it towers above them.

We Live Again!

Gargoyles was fun, exciting, and had an incredibly interesting mythos. The animation was beautiful and the writing was top-notch. I could sit down to watch any episode and immediately get sucked into the world of Gargoyles. Action, drama, humor, fantasy, and science fiction all wrapped into one incredible television show.

Gargoyles is the Best Disney Animated TV show.

Stone Cold

Hey thanks for reading about how Gargoyles is the tits when it comes to Disney Animated shows! Be sure to read up on Andy’s silly pick: The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and then be sure to sound off with your opinion below! Am I on the money or is Andy?

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