At a time when Disney was creating bright-colored cartoons that were more inspired by toy lines than anything else, they were also producing one of the most underrated cartoons ever made – Gargoyles. This series is rarely brought up in conversations about the best cartoons of the '90s, but it deserves to get some new viewers. In just three short seasons, it managed to tell a dense and rewarding story unlike anything attempted by children’s television up until that point.
If you were one of the few viewers who watched Gargoyles, then you witnessed children’s entertainment at its finest. And even if you’ve been a fan since the '90s, there are still some things you probably didn't know about the beloved program. Luckily, series creator Greg Weisman has been open about his love for the series, and answers fan questions whenever he gets the chance. So even though the show was underappreciated at its time, there’s still a wealth of interesting information out there. If you’ve never seen Gargoyles, hopefully these behind-the-scene facts and interesting pieces of information will inspire you to seek out the series.
The Show Dealt With Intense Racism
It's important to remember that when Gargoyles was on the air ('94-'97) cartoons didn't delve into major issues like racism unless they were doing some kind of very special episode. That's not how Gargoyles rolled. From the first episode, the series was introducing multi-racial protagonists and antagonists with motivations not based on race.
As the series progressed, a group called "The Quarrymen" were introduced who were an offshoot of the Illuminati that wore black hoods, which gave them an overt resemblance to the KKK.
When series-creator Weisman was asked about how he decided to confront racial issues on Gargoyles, he explained:
Diversity was always important to me, but working on Gargoyles was where the problem of a lack of diversity in cartoons first sort of crystallized for me. Things we were doing casually, like making Elisa Maza a woman of color, were being hailed as revolutionary, which was both cool and disappointing at the same time. But it got me to focus on those issues.
'Gargoyles' Showed Outright Murder
Gargoyles is dark. Not just visually, but the story it tells rarely allows for a moment of levity. At its heart, the series is about a group of immortal monsters out of their own time who are oppressed because of the way they look. It's not what you would call "normal children's television."
The first episode of the series closes with a Viking who smashes a gargoyle to bits, while it's in stone form, before setting him on fire. As night sets over ancient Scotland, the busted up gargoyle comes back to life and dies a second death in front of his friend. And that's before two guys fall off a cliff while trying to murder a woman.
'Gargoyles' Had A Star Trek Heavy Cast
Gargoyles is impossible to talk about without mentioning its seriously nerdy voice cast. The show was stacked with voice actors from every series of Star Trek on the air up until that point. Actors like Johnathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, and Marina Sirtis were all over the show, and you couldn't go an episode without hearing one of their Star Trek co-stars.
However the creators didn't simply rely on Star Trek to cast the show. Gargoyles featured voice actors like Clancy Brown from Highlander and Starship Troopers, X-Man Alan Cumming, and Indiana Jones and Sliders alumni John Rhys-Davies.
The Show Had Some Unusual Inspiration
Gargoyles wears many of its inspirations on its sleeve; specifically Shakespeare, Arthurian legend, and Scottish mythology. But the one source of inspiration that's not as obvious is Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears. How could this very, children's-friendly series inspire such a gloomy program? It turns out that that the show owes more to the kiddie creation than you think. Weisman explained:
One of our main inspirations was Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears, which was a show that was created by Jymn Magon, who also co-created TaleSpin among other terrific series. It had a wonderful, rich backstory and mythology. It was set in a medieval time period, and I honestly felt that it didn’t get enough respect.