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Darkwing Duck promo art
Darkly Dawns the Duck promo art

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 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 (though series creator Tad Stones has stated that the two shows were set in alternate universes, despite evidence to the contrary).

PremiseEdit

Darkwing Duck is a regular hero-by-night savior of the city of St. Canard, living alone atop one of the spires on the Audubon Bay Bridge. However, all that changes when he adopts a little girl named Gosalyn Waddlemeyer and gains a sidekick in Launchpad McQuack. With his "human" side revitalized by his new family, Darkwing resumes a double life as Drake Mallard. However, he has to put up with his (and most would agree with him on this) idiotic neighbors the Muddlefoots. However, the Muddlefoots' younger son, Honker, becomes another semi-sidekick that is trusted with Drake's secret. 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 regular from DuckTales' last two seasons, also appeared in a handful of crossover-themed episodes. The name "The Masked Mallard", originally used for Scrooge's one-time superhero identity, became an 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 had no counterpart in the classic Disney shorts or 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' 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.

Cast and charactersEdit

Main article: Category:Darkwing Duck characters

Heroes and alliesEdit

  • Darkwing Duck (voiced by Jim Cummings) – Drake Mallard, average citizen by day and St. Canard's resident superhero by night.
  • Gosalyn Mallard (voiced by Christine Cavanaugh) – Drake "Darkwing Duck" Mallard's 9-year-old adopted daughter, who frequently tags along on his adventures, despite his attempts to get her to stay behind and out of harm's way. 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". He is noticeably more competent at landing the Thunderquack than he was on DuckTales.
  • 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. 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".

VillainsEdit

  • Megavolt (voiced by Dan Castellaneta) - A former high school classmate of Drake Mallard, Elmo Sputterspark gained the power to control electricity after a bully sabotaged one of his science experiments. Now calling himself Megavolt, he 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 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 new found 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 1920s gangster, Steelbeak is the top agent of F.O.W.L., the 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.
  • Tuskerninni (voiced by 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.
  • Taurus Bulba (voiced by Tim Curry) - A criminal mastermind who is the main villain in the series' 2-part series premiere, "Darkly Dawns the Duck", and the one villain Darkwing personally fears. After stealing the Waddlemeyer Ramrod, he and his minions kidnapped Gosalyn, believing she knew the machine's arming code. After Darkwing defeated Bulba in battle, he was later resurrected as a cyborg by F.O.W.L., and seeks revenge on Darkwing and Gosalyn.
  • Jambalaya Jake
  • Splatter Phoenix
  • Phineas Sharp
  • Camille Chameleon

Comic-exclusive villainsEdit

DistributionEdit

EpisodesEdit

Main article: Darkwing Duck episode list

Over two seasons there were a total of 91 episodes.

Opening introductionEdit

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.

Broadcast historyEdit

The series debuted as a "spring preview" on the Disney Channel (which at the time was only available to premium cable subscribers) on March 31, 1991. Thirteen select episodes were aired there early, as a way of hyping the show's eventual appearance in syndication.

The two-part pilot 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. Two different sets of episodes were aired simultaneously in the Autumn of 1991, with 65 episodes airing in syndication as part of The Disney Afternoon, and 13 more episodes airing on Saturday mornings on ABC. ABC aired 13 more episodes for a second season in the fall of 1992. All episodes remained in syndicated reruns on the Disney Afternoon until 1995 and then returned to the line up for the 1996-97 season.

After Darkwing Duck's initial departure from the Disney Afternoon, the show returned to the Disney Channel and aired there in reruns from 1995 to 2000. Reruns also continued on Toon Disney from its launch in 1998 through the fall of 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 and, as a result, was pulled from reruns after its initial airing.

MerchandiseEdit

Home mediaEdit

Main article: Darkwing Duck videography

VHS and Laserdisc releasesEdit

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 April 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. In addition, there were two Laserdisc releases, which combined the contents from two VHS releases each. The episode "Ghoul of My Dreams" was also released on the VHS Disney Witcheroo!, which also included the Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers episode "Good Times, Bat Times".

DVD releases Edit

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released a three-disc DVD box set entitled Darkwing Duck: Volume 1 on August 29, 2006. It includes 27 episodes, 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 episodes, was released on August 7, 2007. The episodes on the DVDs are presented in the order they aired in syndication (as a result, the episodes that premiered on ABC in the fall of 1991 are left out of these sets). The sets do not contain any special features. One volume was released to Region 2 DVD, which contains all 65 episodes set.

Set Name Ep# Region 1 Region 2
Darkwing Duck: Volume 1 25 August 26, 2006 N/A
Darkwing Duck: Volume 2 27 August 7, 2007 N/A
Walt Disney's Darkwing Duck, First Collection 65 N/A     TBA

Video gamesEdit

Darkwing Duck textless NES cover art

Comic booksEdit

Darkwing Duck JoeBooks 1 textless cover art

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 (which took down the then-current DuckTales, Rescue Rangers, and TaleSpin comics) prevented that plan. However, Darkwing Duck stories were regularly printed in Disney Adventures magazine from the November 1991 to the January 1996 issues. 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. Set a year after the events seen on the show and the earlier comics, the series, pitched by Boom! Kids editor Aaron Sparrow, was written by Ian Brill and drawn by James Silvani, who (along with Sparrow prior to his being fired from Boom!) would often fix up Brill's scripts. Due to positive fan reaction, the comic series was extended as an ongoing. However, due to numerous contract breaches on Boom!'s part, the series ended after 18 issues.

In 2014, it was announced that new Canadian publisher Joe Books have obtained the license and would produce a new comic series, with Sparrow on writing duty and Silvani returning as the artist, that would continue from issue #16 of the Boom! series (the last two issues, which were part of the poorly-received "Dangerous Currency" crossover arc, were dropped from canon). This began with an omnibus titled Darkwing Duck: The Definitively Dangerous Edition, which featured reprints of the Boom! comic's first sixteen issues, but with the dialogue rewritten by Aaron Sparrow to better match the tone of the cartoon. Joe Books' regular Darkwing series began publication in April 2016, but would ultimately only last for eight issues.

Following the cancellation of the Joe Books title, the Darkwing Duck license is now at IDW Publishing, who are currently reprinting "The Duck Knight Returns" in issues #5-8 of their bimonthly comic, Disney Afternoon Giant. However, they are using the original Boom! Studios version rather than the Definitively Dangerous Edition rewrite.

ReceptionEdit

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 mediaEdit

  • In the Mickey Mouse Works episode "Pluto's Magic Paws", Pluto watches a television program titled 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.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episode "The Mysterious Mare-Do-Well", the titular Mare-Do-Well dresses similarly to Darkwing Duck, right down to the hat and cape.
  • In the 2017 DuckTales reboot, Darkwing is introduced as the star of an old TV show that Launchpad is a fan of, played by an actor named Jim Starling (voiced by Darkwing's original voice actor, Jim Cummings). In the episode "The Duck Knight Returns!" (not to be confused with the above-mentioned comic), Launchpad learns that Scrooge is producing a Darkwing Duck movie, but when Jim Starling learns that there's no part for him in the movie, he enlists Launchpad's help in getting rid of the main actor... who, as it turns out, is the reboot's version of Drake Mallard (voiced by Chris Diamantopoulos), himself also a huge fan of Darkwing Duck. In the end, after a brutal battle between the two actors that results in the movie's production being cancelled, Drake decides to become a real-life Darkwing Duck... while Jim Starling, having suffered a mental meltdown, ends up becoming Negaduck.

External linksEdit

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