Characters / Inspector Gadget

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    Gadget and Friends 

Inspector Gadget

  • Accidental Hero: Believe it or not, there are actually a number of times when Gadget is legitimately helpful and actually contributes towards solving the case. It's just that he tends to do it purely by accident.
    Gadget [whenever he's congratulated for solving the case]: I did?
  • Adults Are Useless: However, when Gadget knows Penny is in danger, he becomes scarily competent.
  • Artificial Limbs: His arms and legs appear to be robotic.
  • Badass Longcoat: He wears a huge overcoat and on rare occasions can turn out to be very competent when he needs to be.
  • Catch Phrase: "I'm always on duty."
  • Chekhov's Skill: His sheer clumsiness, as proven when Quimby shows up and there's an impostor in the same room. Quimby knows which Gadget is which just because one of them happened to attack him with a stray mallet that just happened to go off by itself at exactly the right moment...
  • Clueless Detective: He has a reputation for being a great detective, but it's really thanks to Penny and Brain's help that his incompetence hasn't gotten him killed or ruined his chances at foiling Dr. Claw's schemes.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: During rare moments when he shows competence.
  • Cyborg: He has robotic parts, but several episodes imply that he used to be human. For example, he still has basic human needs such as hunger and sleeping.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Somewhat arguably for his niece Penny.
  • The Ditz: He's often unable to successfully solve cases himself because he's a moron. That said, the mayhem he causes is often directly helpful to Penny and Brain.
  • Drives Like Crazy: It's amazing he still has a license, really.
  • Expressive Hair: Gadget's hair droops when he's sad, disappointed, or surprised.
  • Expy: Of Inspector Clouseau and Maxwell Smart.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: He has a reputation of being the world's greatest crimefighter, and while he has managed to save the day himself on rare occasions, it's usually Penny and Brain that do all the work.
  • Fearless Infant: Gadget was shown to be one in a flashback of the final episode, where he is seen as a baby witnessing crime boss Spuds Malone gun down people with his potato gun the Red Rose and being completely unfazed by the chaos.
  • Flanderization: In the pilot, Gadget was bumbling, but not nearly as oblivious, and managed to fend off most of MAD's schemes via competence. Early episodes occasionally flip flopped between this depiction and his iconic Accidental Hero persona before finally settling for the latter. This was taken Up to Eleven where most spin offs such as Gadget and the Gadgetinis are concerned.
  • Flipping the Bird: Surprisingly in a children's series, he does this in the OPENING sequence! Granted, he wasn't trying to be deliberately offensive; his bird just happened to be a flashlight.
  • The Fool: Despite his idiocy, Gadget continually helps Penny and Brain out in one way or another, which leads to some Alternate Character Interpretations among fans that he's merely Obfuscating Stupidity.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Gadget always believes the lies MAD agents tell him. He'll even trust MAD agents that aren't even bothering with deceiving him and are just trying to kill him ("Ah! The welcoming commitee!"). This goes all the way to the opposite end of the spectrum. He'll spot Brain in disguise, and instead of recognizing Brain, he'll think Brain is the MAD agent!
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: He has a lot of stuff inside his hat.
  • Idiot Hero: The main protagonist and a complete dunce.
  • Inspector Oblivious: Aside from actually being an inspector, he also tends to be very gullible.
  • Invincible Incompetent: While not very bright, his stupidity often causes him to unknowingly thwart M.A.D. agents' attempts to kill him, when he doesn't otherwise ruin MAD's plans outright.
  • Kindhearted Simpleton: Gadget means well in his antics and is trying to save the day, he's just completely inept about it.
  • Last Name Basis: In the animated incarnations. In the movie Gadget is just a nickname given to him by the press and his real name is John Brown.
  • Lawful Stupid: He works for the Metro City police and is a complete idiot.
  • Let's Get Dangerous: Very, very rarely, Gadget showed competence and was able to avert disaster all on his own. This tends to happen when Penny is in danger.
  • Man Child: He occasionally acts this way, such as in "Gone Went the Wind", when he becomes snowblind, mistakes a polar bear for Santa Claus, and sits on the polar bear's lap asking for a choo-choo train, a candy cane, and a doll of himself.
  • Nice Hat: He wears a fedora.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: See also Papa Wolf and Let's Get Dangerous. Threaten Inspector Gadget's niece Penny, and you'll instantly find out just how competent the normally bumbling Gadget can be.
  • Papa Wolf: When he knows Penny is in danger, Gadget becomes virtually unrecognizable (and unstoppable) as he becomes the superhero he is supposed to be. For what it's worth, one of his few talents seems to be acting as a guardian; when not oblivious to some villain on her tail, he raises Penny rather well and gives rather intelligent life lessons.
    • This also extends to other people Gadget cares about. He's gone to similar lengths to save Brain (when he actually knows that he's dealing with Brain, as opposed to thinking the disguised Brain is a MAD agent) and Professor Von Slickenstein, the scientist who gave him his gadgets.
  • Parental Obliviousness: Gadget has no idea that it's his niece solving his cases and saving the world.
  • Police Are Useless: Aside from the rare occasions where he proves himself to be competent when he needs to be, Inspector Gadget is a bumbling imbecile who is easily deceived by Dr. Claw and M.A.D.
  • Spanner in the Works: Despite Gadget's idiocy, the chaos he causes frequently helps Penny and Brain save the day. He's also destroyed more than one MAD base by accident.
  • Super Strength: While usually not demonstrated in very ostentatious fashion, Gadget's baseline strength is clearly superhuman. There are occasional exceptions where it's more obvious; for example, in "Gadget's Gadgets" he broke free when literally riveted in place with steel bands on an operating table.
  • Super Toughness: Gadget frequently suffers more extreme abuse than RoboCop has to put up with on a bad day. He has survived falls off skyscrapers, crashing airplanes, electrocutions, any number of bombs and IEDs, and even being sawn in two. As yet, nothing has permanently crippled him.
  • Swiss Army Appendage: He has several of these, though most of his gadgets come from his hat.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Penny and Brain have to keep Gadget's stupidity from getting him killed in even the most mundane of situations.
  • Tricked-Out Shoes: His shoes can become magnets and roller skates.
  • Useless Protagonist: Half the time, the other half his bumbling inadvertently comes handy (about five or six times throughout the show he actually saves the day through competence).
  • We Can Rebuild Him: His origin in the movie.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: It's never explained where he got all his gadgets.
  • Wacky Uncle: To Penny's serious niece.


  • Age-Inappropriate Dress: Her swimsuits tend to be very revealing for a ten-year-old.
  • Badass Adorable: A young girl who succeeds in anonymously helping her uncle thwart Dr. Claw's plans.
  • Badass Bookworm: She has a book that's also a computer (the best of both worlds). She's also suggested to be a very good student.
  • Borrowed Catch Phrase: She sometimes uses her uncle's Catch Phrase of "wowsers!" She has also occasionally used Gadget's "Go-Go Gadget" phrase when using her computer book to activate one of the Gadgetmobile's gadgets.
  • Bound and Gagged: Whenever she gets caught by a M.A.D. agent, she often gets tied up.
  • Cree Summer: Played Penny for most of the original series. It was her first role.
  • Damsel in Distress: She is often captured and tied up by Claw's henchmen.
  • Damsel out of Distress: She oftens escapes from Claws' handmen, or arranges for Brain to rescue her.
  • Dub Name Change: In the French version her name is Sophie.
  • Girlish Pigtails: She has pigtails.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Her hair is blonde and she is a very kindhearted person.
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: Though Gadget doesn't know it, she helps her uncle solve all his cases.
  • Kid Detective: She's a young girl who solves cases for her uncle.
  • Nephewism: As Gadget's niece, she is her uncle's only living relative.
  • Nice Girl/Friend to All Living Things: Penny rarely shows anger, hardly ever even gets annoyed (even with her uncle's antics), and the number of people she shows intense dislike for throughout the entire franchise can be easily counted on one hand. As a result, she has a knack for making friends and allies at the drop of a hat.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: In comparison to the other very cartoony designs in the show, Penny's is noticably more anime inspired and realistically proportioned. Gadget and the Gadgetinis gives her a somewhat wackier design, though still slightly more subtle than the rest of the cast.
  • Not So Above It All: She may be the most competent and mature person in her household, but mention her favorite singer and she still goes into shrieking fangirl mode.
  • Only One Name: Penny was never given a last name, though a lot of people just assume it's Gadget.
  • Parental Abandonment: It's confirmed in the second season that Penny's parents are apparently deceased. We only have Dr. Claw's word for it but according to him, Penny is Gadget's only living relative.
  • Plucky Girl: She remains calm even when in dangerous situations.
  • Snooping Little Kid: Frequently spies on M.A.D. agents to see what they are up to.
  • Tomboy: Not all that feminine.
  • Serious Niece: To Gadget's Wacky Uncle
  • Why Did It Have To Be Ghosts?: She gets over it with the help of Gadget.


  • Action Pet: Although more wacky than outright action, he still goes through things that one would have to be tough to get though.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Occasionally averted when Gadget actually saves Brain. This usually happens when Gadget thinks he's a MAD agent and is trying to capture him, and ends up grabbing Brain right before he'd fall to his death.
  • Detective Animal: He also helps Gadget solve cases.
  • Face Palm: One of his frequent reactions to Gadget's antics.
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: To Penny.
  • My Instincts Are Showing: Though usually a neurotic Straight Man with more human intelligence than most of the police force combined, Brain sometimes has displays of puppy-like friskiness. For example, at one point when Gadget tries to throw away some explosives, he mistakes it for a stick and excitedly plays fetch with it.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: He is a dog.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: He often tries to avoid suspicion by wearing a disguise. Ironically, it tends to backfire by having Gadget mistake him for a M.A.D. agent.
  • Silent Snarker: Often makes expressions that show his disdain for the unfortunate events that happen while trying to help Gadget.
  • Speech-Impaired Animal: Depending on the Writer, but he is often The Unintelligible.
  • Why Did It Have To Be Ghosts?: Unlike Penny, Brain stays afraid of ghosts through the whole series.

Chief Quimby

  • Da Chief: Not exactly as strict, but he has suffered a lot due to Gadget's incompetence.
  • Chew Toy: Without fail his 'self-destructing message' will be near him when it goes off.
  • Composite Character: Of the Chief of CONTROL and Agent 13 from Get Smart, which Inspector Gadget could be considered a Spiritual Successor to. Like the former, Quimby gives orders and mission debriefings to the bumbling protagonist. Like the latter, he has a tendency to hide in different improbable locations while giving messages to Gadget.
  • Genre Savvy: Freaks out whenever Gadget tosses the secret message back to him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: In The Movie.
  • Mr. Exposition: He's the one who tells Gadget what Dr. Claw and M.A.D. are up to.
  • Once an Episode: Chief Quimby shows up in every episode to give Gadget his assignment, and Gadget ends up giving it back to him when it self-destructs, in every episode.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Apparently, only the real Gadget would malfunction without warning and injure him with his gadgets. Quimby uses that fact to Spot the Impostor in one episode.

Corporal Capeman

  • Fat Idiot: He is rather portly and is even dumber than Gadget.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Capeman wears glasses.
  • Jerkass: One of the reasons why most fans despise him is because he frequently picked on Brain for no apparent reason.
  • Sidekick: Desperately wanted to be this to Gadget and became his sidekick when he inadvertently defeated the episode's M.A.D. agent.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Even moreso than Gadget, which is saying something.

    Dr. Claw and M.A.D. Agents 

Dr. Edward Claw

  • Ambiguously Human: With a voice like that...
  • Angry Fist-Shake: He often shakes his fist after every defeat.
  • Arch-Enemy: Gadget and Claw consider each other to be personal enemies.
  • Berserk Button: Just seeing Gadget, or even simply having to mention his name, can make Dr. Claw angry enough to smash holes in his desk or shatter diamonds with his bare hands.
  • Big Bad: He is the main antagonist, as he is the leader of M.A.D.
  • Camp Straight: In the live-action movie.
  • Captain Ersatz: Of Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
  • Catch Phrase: "I'll get you next time, Gadget! Next time!"
  • The Chessmaster: Many of his plans involve steps taken to try and prevent Gadget from stopping him.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: For the movie. Also any episode that revolved around MAD setting up a legitimate business and then wiping out their competition by some underhanded means, leaving Dr. Claw with a monopoly.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Quite a lot of his plans were complex, such as finding a sealed weapon of mass destruction or hiding stolen diamonds inside chocolates.
  • Enfante Terrible: Was implied to be one when he was a child. He mentions that he desired possession of the Crown Jewels since his youth in "Gadget's Clean Sweep", his mentor Les Renowned introduced in "Gadget meets the Clan" can be seen in a picture lecturing a younger Claw holding a lollipop, and the 1992 Christmas special had Dr. Claw mad at Santa Claus for never getting him the dirty tricks sled he wanted as a child.
  • Evil Laugh: He frequently laughs when his Evil Plan comes along.
  • Evil Plan: Just about every episode has him plan to do something evil. Some of his most heinous schemes involve setting up an enterprise while using underhanded methods to eliminate the competition, one example being in "Dairy Farm" when he has M.A.D. sell overpriced dairy products while using a device to prevent cows from other farms from giving milk.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: He speaks in a deep, sinister, gravelly voice.
  • Exact Words: From the episode "The Invasion": "I said I feel like singing!"
  • The Faceless: Not only faceless, but also bodiless as only his hands and arms are ever shown to the viewers. Luckily, in the movie, his whole appearance is Rupert Everett.
    • His action figure however depicted his face. Click at risk of shattering childhood memories. In a brilliantly devious ploy of marketing, the packaging for the figure covered up his face with a piece of cardboard inviting you to buy the toy and finally see what he looked like.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He sometimes acts nice and friendly, but it does nothing to hide the despicable person he is.
  • Hook Hand: His origin in the movie.
  • Joker Immunity: As shown in the second live-action film and the animated direct-to-video film Inspector Gadget's Biggest Caper Ever, not even capturing him and putting him in jail can stop Claw.
  • Karma Houdini: Usually played straight in that he always avoided getting arrested, but some episodes downplay it and have Claw suffer a minor problem as he makes his getaway, such as being trapped at the bottom of the arctic waters in "Gone Went the Wind", getting frozen in "The Quimby Exchange", and getting hit by the blast of the Red Rose potato gun in the final episode "Gadget and the Red Rose".
  • Large Ham: "HeeheeheeheeHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: A villain named Doctor.
  • Right-Hand Cat: What Dr. Claw has (see MAD Cat below)
  • Sinister Surveillance: The only thing he's ever shown doing.
  • Slouch of Villainy: Throughout the series, he only watches the events from his lair or car.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Even with Penny always screwing up his plans, you sometimes think he might be ruling the world by now if his henchmen weren't all so stupid.
  • Ultimate Evil: While we never see him aside from his arms, the way some of his agents act intimidated while talking to him suggest that he's always hidden because his appearance is terrifying.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Gadget himself and many other characters tend to be goofy and prone to slapstick, whereas Dr. Claw is a sinister villain who speaks in a deep, ominous voice. Several of his plans even involved trying to kill someone.
  • Villain Decay: In the 2015 series. Story-wise, he is theoretically either out of practice or losing his touch.
  • Villain Exit Stage Left: Whenever he's actually at the scene of a MAD activity, he'll typically escape in the MAD Mobile once the Gadget family ruins his scheme.
  • We Will Meet Again: "I'll get you next time, Gadget! Next time!"
  • Yellow Eyes of Sneakiness: When his face is briefly shown in the SNES game.


The Great Wambini and the Lesser Wambini

  • Karma Houdini: Are the first of the second season's recurring M.A.D. Agents that avoid arrest.
  • Meaningful Name: The Great Wambini is a highly skilled magician while his lackey the Lesser Wambini is only capable of lame and underwhelming tricks.
  • Stage Magician: Their usual disguise.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: They are never seen without one another.

Professor Dummkopf

  • Beard of Evil: He has a big brown shaggy beard.
  • Herr Doktor: He has the accent and his name is even a German word.
  • Karma Houdini: He never gets arrested in any of his appearances.
  • Mad Scientist: In his three episodes, he has tried to use a shrink ray on Gadget as well as sending a quintet of imps and a hulking brute he created himself to kill him.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: He often uses one in the episodes featuring him.
  • Unfortunate Names: His surname is German for "idiot".

Dr. Spectrum

  • Bald of Evil: He has no hair.
  • Karma Houdini: Yet another recurring M.A.D. Agent who never gets caught.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Unlike most of the mad scientist M.A.D. Agents on the show, he has very few humorous traits and "Bad Dreams are Made of This", one of the episodes featuring him, is Darker and Edgier as it involves everyone in Metro City being tormented by bad dreams and even has Brain experiencing a nightmare where it is implied that M.A.D. Cat killed him.
  • Mad Scientist: He's invented tablets that become "ghosts", a device that enables people to teleport through telephones, and a machine that makes people suffer nightmares.

Dr. Null and Dr. Void

  • Creepy Twins: They are both virtually identical.
  • Karma Houdini: They never get captured in any of the three episodes featuring them.
  • Verbal Tic: In their first appearance, they would often say the exact same phrase, but with differing usage of words. They reprise this in their third and final appearance.

Thelma Botkin

  • Karma Houdini: She is seen arrested at the end of the first episode with her, but the next has her free and back with MAD with no explanation. She does not get arrested in her next two appearances.
  • Time Travel: Her episodes had her attempting to go back in time and kill Gadget's ancestors.

Les Renown

  • Bigger Bad: He is Dr. Claw's mentor and therefore is indirectly responsible for the existence of Claw's crime organization M.A.D.
  • Karma Houdini: The final recurring "villain" of Season 2 who is never arrested, although whether or not he really is a Houdini is arguable since he isn't really seen committing any crimes other than conspiracy (he introduces Dr. Claw to other elderly criminals who do get arrested at the end of their respective three episodes).
  • Old Master: At least Dr. Claw seems to regard him as one; Claw claims Renown mentored him in the criminal arts.
  • Punny Name: His name is a pun on "less renowned", referring to how Dr. Claw is more well known than he is.