"All modern American literature comes from Huckleberry Finn. All modern American animation comes from Duck Tales."
—Eric Wing (paraphrasing Chris Barat and Joe Torcivia), from an essay commemorating the series' 25th anniversary
DuckTales is the series that jumpstarted the trend of Disney television cartoons.note Although both The Wuzzles and Adventures of the Gummi Bears preceded it.Inspired ByCarl Barks' classic comics (and loosely adapting a few of his plots), the story centers on Scrooge McDuck, the billionaire uncle of famous Disney rage-a-holic Donald Duck. As the series begins, Donald ships out to sea with the Navy, and Scrooge comes into the guardianship of his mischievous triplet nephews — Huey, Dewey, and Louie — and gains the one thing he could never buy with his amazing wealth: family.Also in the cast:
Absentee Actor: Scrooge notably does not appear at all in three episodes of the series: "Superdoo!", "Sir Gyro de Gearloose", and "Launchpad's Civil War". Huey, Dewey, and Louie missed about 7-8 episodes total in the series.
Scrooge: Now, keep your peepers peeled for priceless plunder. Launchpad: Personally, I'd prefer to protect my posterior from predators. ("A DuckTales Valentine")
Adipose Rex: In the episode "Status Seekers", the protagonists visit a remote island where the king is fat precisely because in their culture the fattest person is made king. Various attempts to bribe him with Worthless Yellow Rocks fail, and then Mrs. Beakley thinks of trying to bribe him with fattening processed foods instead.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Scrooge hired Gyro to invent a security robot for his money bin that was so adamant about its job, it wouldn't even let Scrooge near it. This failure prompted Gyro to create the GizmoDuck suit for a person instead (since Scrooge wanted a security robot with "a brain").
Always Second Best: Flintheart Glomgold always plays second fiddle to Scrooge. As you can imagine, he's none too happy about it.
Always Someone Better: A rare subversion in that the Someone Better was the protagonist. FlintheartGlomgold is the one who's fanatically obsessed with beating Scrooge in the wealth game and becoming the World's Richest Duck.
Animation Bump: Two main studios were responsible for the show's animation; TMS Entertainment did most of the first season, while Wang Film Productions took over for a lot of the later episodes. Fans generally agree that the TMS episodes are way better animated than the Wang episodes, though the later episodes are still pretty decent.
On top of that, there were two Stateside production teams as well; one headed up by Fred Wolf and Alan Zaslove, which worked on all the seasons, and one led by Bob Hathcock (who later directed The Movie), which also started working on the show in the second season after Wolf got involved with a certain other cartoon. The differences between the two American teams are less pronounced, though many feel that the Wolf/Zaslove team did a better job with action sequences, while Hathcock's episodes were visually richer and had more of a "Disney-esque" feel.
Also present within the episodes themselves. With certain scenes being better animated than others.
Animesque: Present in several of the TMS animated episodes.
Anti-Advice: In one episode, Scrooge teams up with Gladstone Gander, whose luck has been supernaturally cursed. Scrooge exploits this by asking Gladstone which direction to go, then heading the opposite way.
Badass Family: The McDuck/Duck family. Uncle Scrooge, Donald, Huey, Dewey, and Louie are all pretty badass in their own way (yes, even Donald can be badass when the chips are down...well in the episodes where he's present at least).
Badass Grandpa: Age has not affected Scrooge's spryness or spirit of adventure. The same can be said for El Capitan, who doesnt let the fact that he's apparently over 400 years old stop him from hunting his precious gold
The Bad Guy Wins: In the end of "Till Nephews Do Us Part", the beagle boys actually succeed in robbing the bank.
Subverted with Glomgold. Whenever he enters a bet against Scrooge, he either loses at the last second, ends in a stalemate (thus preventing Glomgold from being richer then Scrooge) or his ill-gotten victory ultimately benefits Scrooge in the end.
The Bermuda Triangle: When many of Scrooge McDuck's ships were disappearing in the Triangle, He sets out to locate his fleet and finally finds it, along with other ships, trapped in a huge mass of seaweed.
Berserk Button: Never try to steal Scrooge's number one dime under any circumstances.
Beware the Nice Ones: Many characters qualify, but Scrooge's nephews and Webby especially stand out here.
Big Damn Heroes: Webby does this in "Back Out In The Outback", and it's epic.
Also Goldie does this in "Till Nephews Do Us Part", and it's amazing.
Although she doesn't so much remove his luck as invert it; everything now goes wrong for him, which Scrooge is able to use to defeat Magica. Still pretty karmic punishment for some of his behavior in the comics, although the animated version was much less of a Smug Snake.
Chick Magnet: Scrooge got the attention of Glittering Goldie, Millionara Vanderbucks, Magica De Spell, Mrs. Crackshell, and Ma Beagle. Even if he is the richest duck in the world, that's still quite an accomplishment.
Also Launchpad was pretty popular with the ladies considering he attracted Feathers Galore, Sensen, and many other girls along the way.
Chronically Crashed Car: The team's pilot would crash whatever he was provided with Once an Episode — including a living condor and a gadget plane that accidently folded into a suitcase mid-flight.
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Bubba the caveduck was introduced with much fanfare at the start of season two, only to vanish without a trace after a dozen or so episodes, mostly due to his unpopularity with the writers. He's never mentioned again.
Also includes a Shout Out to Darkwing Duck, generally considered a Spin-Off to the series. In one comic where Scrooge's moon rock cufflinks lead to the group stranded on the moon and out of fuel for the rocket (long story), Launchpad mentions that the cufflinks, actually a cheaply synthesized artificial gem, can be picked up for a nickel in St. Canard. He then adds that he knows this "screwy duck and his daughter" over there.
Cool and Unusual Punishment: When Glomgold gets caught framing Scrooge, the judge orders him to always keep a portrait of the world's richest duck in his house. Thus, Glomgold has to put up with Scrooge grinning down at him constantly.
Cool Old Guy: Scrooge McDuck — he's done it all, and isn't afraid to be called to prove that he's done it.
Also El Capitan from the five episode pilot due to the fact that he's over 400 years old and has stayed alive solely on willpower and determination to find more treasure. Less cool is his psychotic obsession with the Treasure Of the Golden Suns.
Also Ma Beagle, who unlike her sons actually manages to evade the police most times she commits a crime.
Corrupt Corporate Executive: Flintheart Glomgold is insanely jealous of Scrooge's status as the World's Richest Duck, and is willing to pull any kind of dirty trick he can think of to undermine his rival. That, and he's a conniving, thieving bastard in general...
Cousin Oliver: Most fans felt Bubba was an unnecessary addition to the series. Even the writers didn't know what to do with him most of the time so Bubba spent most episodes tagging along with Huey, Dewey and Louie and doing whatever they did (much like Bean from Muppet Babies).
Descriptiveville: A series about anthropomorphic ducks takes place in a city called Duckburg.
Demoted to Extra: Donald was a major player in the original comics, but is just an occasional guest star in the show. Within the show itself, Launchpad and Doofus had drastically-reduced roles in the second season (Doofus only getting a non-speaking cameo in one episode). Uniquely, Bubba the Caveduck was Demoted to Extraimmediately after the five episodes that set him up as a main character.
Launchpad notably had reduced screentime, but wasn't almost entirely gone from the series. He was just moreso Out of Focus than anything else. On the other hand, this definitely counts for Magica (who was a recurring villain in season 1 but just appeared in one episode of season 2) and any Beagle Boy who wasn't Ma, Bouncer, Big-Time, Burger, or Baggy (never seen again outside of cameos during Super Ducktales)
Depending on the Artist: There were a few episodes in the first season where the hats of the nephews had black, instead of the commonly used darker colors.
Determinator: Scrooge and the Beagle Boys qualified for this and also El Capitan who refuses to die until he finds more treasure.
Scrooge is voiced by Will Ryan, rather than Alan Young.
He has a (human) butler named "Jeeves".
Huey, Dewey, and Louie all wear red.
No Webby, Mrs. Beakley, or Launchpad.
The Beagle Boys don't have prison numbers on their shirts.
Enemy Mine: There are times when Scrooge and/or his nephews are forced to work together with their enemies. First when they and the Beagle Boys wind up getting transported into the past due to a mishap with Gyro's time-stopper device, they had to work together to return to their own time. After that, Scrooge and Glomgold had to work together to stop the Beagle Boys and Ma from destroying the city with the giant construction robots. When Magica's shadow gains sentience and ejects her, she and Scrooge were forced to work together to stop the shadow as it was even more sinister than its host as it plotted to cover the world in eternal shadow. When the Beagle Boys abandon Ma Beagle after discovering stardom, she resorts to working with Scrooge to get them bombed and thus return back to her.
Slightly lesser extent with Glomgold in "Til Nephews Do Us Part", when Millionaira after her wedding to Scrooge failed, she immediately tries to hook up with Glomgold since he's the 2nd richest duck in the world. He immediately runs, following Scrooge's lead to get away from her
Millionaira: "Is there a Mrs. Second Richest Duck in the World?"
Glomgold: "Uh... well I... uh... WAIT FOR ME, MCDUCK!"
Even Evil Has Standards: In the episode "Till Nephews Do Us Part", after Flintheart comforts Millionara, she starts flirting with him when she learns that he's the second richest duck in the world, and he immediately runs away for the sake of protecting his money.
Evil Counterpart: Scrooge is a tough, hard-beaked businessduck, but he's genuinely honest. His archnemesis Flintheart Glomgold has all of Scrooge's ambition and determination, but none of his morals or ethics.
Expy: Webby is theorized to be a scandal-free stand-in for Dickie Duck, Scrooge's ex-girlfriend's granddaughter, or possibly a condensed version of Daisy's nieces.
Fenton is a definite stand-in for Donald. In the second season, whenever the plot is based on a Carl Barks comic, Fenton (at least when he's not Gizmoduck) fulfills Donald's role the way Launchpad did in the first season.
Forgot the Call: Happened to Scrooge where a whack on the noggin causes him to lose his accent, start working at his own plant as a menial laborer, organize a labor strike protesting the unfair business practices he himself imposed, and begin a relationship with Fenton Crackshell's mother.
For the Evulz: Presumably the reason Glomgold framed Mad Dog in "Duckman of Aquatraz".
That's right, the busty and sexy beagle's measurements are also her prison number. Well done, Disney, well done.
In the episode "Sir Gyro De Gearloose", Gyro and the others defeat the dragon by blasting its mouth with wine until it is drunk and tipsily flies off into the distance. Also (as described in more detail under Edited for Syndication above), Merloon's accent turns the phrase "Work, Work, Work!" into an accidental Precision F-Strike.
In "Once Upon A Dime", when Young Scrooge is in jail with the Beagle Boys, one of them sees Scrooge's kilt and calls it a nice skirt that his mother would kill to have, and that she has before.
Also the attempted G-Rated Sex scene between Feathers Galore and Launchpad in the episode "Double-O-Duck".
Or just the very fact that there was a parody of Pussy Galore from Goldfinger.
The animators hid naughty pin-ups in the background of several episodes. The one in "The Treasure of the Golden Suns" Part 2 was too visible, and the scene was trimmed to remove it when it was rerun on the Disney Channel.
G-Rated Sex: This was attempted by Feathers Galore with Launchpad in the episode "Double-O-Duck".
Great Big Book of Everything: The Junior Woodchuck guidebook. Includes topics on building remote controlled shark fins, homing devices to be mounted on drone planes, and magical thunderstorms (though that's debatable).
Not to mention Fenton the accountant becoming Gizmo Duck, Duckburg's greatest super hero.
Also Scrooge's nephews and Webby when they wore the shrunken Gizmo suit.
Interspecies Romance: Played straight with Bubba who's a duck who falls in love with Julie who's a pig, but subverted by Scrooge who's a duck that's forced to be in a fake wedding with Ma Beagle who's a dog.
One time, one of the guards got Genre Savvy enough to install an X Ray machine. Unfortunately, Ma Beagle apparently anticipated that and sent a cake that had nothing in it, but when Burger Beagle ate it, it gave him a case of the hiccups so bad, his brothers were able to use him as a jackhammer.
Last Name Basis: Many people don't know that Mrs. Beakley's first name is Bentina.
Leitmotif: Several: the villains' themes are more noticeable than others, however.
Lighter and Softer: Scrooge himself is this compared to his original comic counterpart; in the comics Scrooge tended to shift between Jerk with a Heart of Gold displaying a Jerkass Façade and being a genuine Jerkass, who who could just as easily be the villain as the hero of a story. The Scrooge of DuckTales is much more jovial and less irritable, and can even be openly sentimental. Donald as well: in earlier incarnations, he loved cigars and really loved brawling while spitting out the Angrish. No more for DuckTales.
Living Lie Detector: The magic harp from "Raiders of the Lost Harp." In singsong, "You are fibbing fibbing fibbing!"
Married In The Future: Once when Magicka deSpell sent Scrooge into the future he encountered a shapely Webbigail and a slimmed down Doofus who tell him they've gotten married. When he gets back to his own time, he tells Doofus to take care of Webby, which causes her to have a disgusted reaction.
Fenton's girlfriend Gandra Dee, a reference to actress Sandra Dee (of Gidget famenote The original movie, but not the TV series.). Also a reference to the fact that she's a goose (also known as a "gander").
Reset Button: In "Master of the Djinni", Flintheart Glomgold's lack of care with his wishes got him stranded in a desert island with Scrooge. Forgetting he still had a wish, he unwittingly used it to wish he had never seen the lamp. Because of that wish, the past was altered so the explosion that allowed Scrooge and Flintheart to enter the cave also caused the lamp to fall from its pedestal into a pile of rubble, where it remained unseen by everyone who entered the cave.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: This show was pretty good about this. King Arty managed to temporarily hold off Lestred's invasion in the episode "Sir Gyro De Gearloose". Then Homer helps Scrooge and his nephews reclaim his kingdom of Ithaquack from Circe in "Home Sweet Homer". Also the true ruler of the kingdom Roy, after the mask is removed was able help Scrooge and his friends save his kingdom in the episode "The Duck In The Iron Mask".
Running Gag: There have been a couple of episodes where someone's name has been mispronounced, when they correct the crowd, they reply with "Whatever."
Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Scrooge McDuck in a nutshell. He loves his money to an almost disturbing degree, but: "I made [my money] on the seas, and in the mines, and in the cattle wars of the old frontier! I made it by being tougher than the toughies, and smarter than the smarties! And I made it square!"
And he makes it very clear that as much as he loves his money, he loves his family more.
Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Flintheart Glomgold is essentially Scrooge's complete opposite (see Evil Counterpart above). He's a lying, cheating scoundrel who's more than willing to pull every dirty trick in the book to get what he wants.
Also, Magica's evil nightmare version of Scrooge: "I'm rich! I can do anything! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
Also Bubba from the episode "Bubbeo And Juliet", which actually led to them becoming friends.
Super OCD: El Capitan in his obsession over the Treasure of the Lost Suns, to the point he remembers every single individual piece of gold. This is his underdoing in each of his attempts, since he refuses to lose so much as a single dime of treasure, leading him to be duped by the heroes or attempt to double cross his team mate who is intent on getting a share (see Villain Team Up).
Scrooge's own money obsession borders this at times.
Took a Level in Badass: Fenton Crackshell when he became Gizmo Duck. Also adult Doofus and Webby in the episode "Duck To The Future". Then there's Scrooge when he becomes the "Masked Mallard".
Took a Level in Dumbass: Launchpad had his moments of this. Especially when he becomes the "Webbed Wonder", and is tricked into robbing banks for the Beagle Boys because they tell him it's for a movie.
Also it runs in the family, as Scrooge's nephews join forces with Magica De Spell in the future during one episode.
Up to Eleven: You know about Scrooge's Money Bin, right? Gigantic building filled to the brim with cash? All that moolah is what Scrooge made himself. The rest of his fortune is spread throughout his businesses, industries, and resource operations.
And with plenty more to spare in the bank. Richest duck indeed.
Valley Girl: Launchpad's little sister Loopy is one of these.
Like, totally to the ma-ax!
The Vamp: Magica De Spell, Feathers Galore, Cinnamon Teal, Circe, and Boom-Boom Beagle.
Villain Team Up: Done several times. It seems a standard plot that many villains in the series would prove effective working together, if not for nearly all of them having a Chronic Backstabbing Disorder and ultimately causing both their downfalls by trying to steal all the profit for themselves.
The Walls Are Closing In: An episode had Scrooge and his nephews trapped in an Egyptian tomb with a wall with spears closing in on them. They're saved by pressing a hidden button activating a trapdoor.
Also one of the rooms in the temple from "Bubba's Big Brainstorm".
“Well Done Son” Guy: Inverted at the end of "Top Duck" where Launchpad thinks that his parents are ashamed of him, and learns that his parents actually couldn't be prouder of him.