Teen Titans (TV series)
Teen Titans is an American animated superhero television series created by Glen Murakami, based on the DC Comics characters of the same name. It is based primarily on the run of stories by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez from the early 1980s New Teen Titans comic book series.
|Created by||Glen Murakami|
|Based on||DC Comics characters|
|Developed by||David Slack|
|Theme music composer||Andy Sturmer|
|Opening theme||"Teen Titans Theme",|
performed by Puffy AmiYumi
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||65 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||23 minutes|
|Production company(s)||DC Comics (season 5)|
Warner Bros. Animation
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television Distribution|
|Original network||Cartoon Network|
|Audio format||Stereo (DVD releases)|
|Original release||July 19, 2003– January 16, 2006|
|Followed by||Teen Titans Go!|
Teen Titans premiered on Cartoon Network on July 19, 2003, and also premiered on Kids' WB!. Initially, only four seasons were planned, but the popularity of the series led to Cartoon Network ordering a fifth season. The final half-hour episode of the show, "Things Change", aired on January 16, 2006; it was later followed by a TV movie, Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo, that premiered on September 15, 2006, serving as the series finale.
Teen Titans became one of Cartoon Network's most beloved and critically acclaimed series, renowned for its character development and serious themes. During its run, the series was nominated for three Annie Awards and one Motion Picture Sound Editors Award. Spin-off media included comics, DVD releases, video games, music albums, and collectible toys. Reruns have aired on Cartoon Network's retro animation sister channel Boomerang until June 1, 2014. In 2013, the show spawned a spin-off, titled Teen Titans Go!, which received a theatrical film released on July 27, 2018, titled Teen Titans Go! To the Movies. After almost five years since the last rerun in October 2012, the 2003 Teen Titans returned to Cartoon Network for reruns on August 7, 2017. 
Teen Titans centers around the five main members of the superhero team: Robin (Scott Menville), the intelligent, capable leader of the Teen Titans; Starfire (Hynden Walch), a quirky, curious alien princess from the planet Tamaran; Cyborg (Khary Payton), a half-human/half-robot who is known for his strength and technological prowess; Raven (Tara Strong), a stoic girl from the parallel world Azarath, who draws upon dark energy and psionic abilities; and Beast Boy (Greg Cipes), a ditzy, good-natured joker who can transform into various animals. They are situated in Titans Tower, a large T-shaped structure featuring living quarters as well as a command center and a variety of training facilities, on an island just offshore from the fictional West Coast metropolis of Jump City.
The team deals with all manner of criminal activity and threats to the city, while dealing with their own struggles with adolescence, their mutual friendships, and their limitations. Slade, their main enemy, is a newly designed version of the DC villain Deathstroke. The team encounters several allies throughout the series; including Aqualad in the first season; Terra in the second season (who is integral to that season's story arc), as well as Speedy, Hotspot, and Wildebeest; Bumblebee and Más y Menos in the third season (who join Aqualad, Speedy and Bumblebee to form 'Titans East'), and numerous other heroes adapted from the DC universe in the fifth season to aid in the battle against the Brotherhood of Evil.
Cast and charactersEdit
- Scott Menville as Robin
- Tara Strong as Raven
- Greg Cipes as Beast Boy
- Hynden Walch as Starfire
- Khary Payton as Cyborg
Unlike most other superhero television series, the Teen Titans characters maintain their superhero identities at all times, with any hints at the concept of an alter ego or secret identity rarely explored.
In particular, some fans debated which Robin leads the Teen Titans, with several hints throughout the series suggesting it is Dick Grayson. These include Robin's alternate dimensional counterpart Larry in the episode "Fractured" being named Nosyarg Kcid ("Dick Grayson" spelled backwards), Robin's counterpart in the episode "How Long Is Forever?" having taken on the identity of Nightwing (Grayson's identity in the DC continuity), his relationship with Starfire, and a glimpse into Robin's consciousness by Raven in the episode "Haunted" showing the memory of two acrobats falling from a trapeze (the death of Grayson's acrobat parents being the catalyst for him becoming Robin). Further connections to the Batman mythos include two references in the episode "The Apprentice, Pt. II", when Robin responds to a suggestion by the villain Deathstroke that he "might be like a father to [him]" with "I already have a father" (which transitions to a shot of flying bats) and a fight scene on the rooftop of a building labeled Wayne Enterprises. Satirizing the mystery of Robin’s identity and muddying the waters somewhat, in Teen Titans Go! episode “Permanent Record” Robin’s name is explicitly given as “Robin v.3: Tim Drake,” Dick Grayson and Jason Todd’s names having been written over. In subsequent episodes, though, he’s firmly established as Dick Grayson through flashbacks to his circus childhood.
It was really important to me that little kids watching it could identify with characters. And I thought that the minute you start giving them secret identities then kids couldn't project themselves onto the characters anymore. And that was important to me. I know it's kind of important to have secret identities and stuff like that but we wanted everything to be really, really, iconic. Like, "Oh, there's the robot guy. There's the alien girl. There's the witch girl. There's the shape-changing boy." There's the we [sic] just wanted it really clean like that. We wanted it like old Star Trek. We just wanted it simple...
...And the whole "Who's Robin?" controversy is really kind of interesting to me. My big concern is just trying to make Robin cool. And just really set Robin apart from Batman. So if it seems like I'm avoiding the question, I sort of am. Because I don't think it's really important. My concern is how do I make Robin a really strong lead character without all that other stuff. And I feel that way about all the characters. How can I keep all the characters really iconic and really clean.— Glen Murakami, Drawing Inspiration: An Interview with Glen Murakami, April 2004
The policy of not mentioning the characters' secret identities has been broken a couple of times. In Season 5, the Doom Patrol members refer to Beast Boy by his real name, Garfield (though the Titans still continue to call him Beast Boy). In "Go", the Titans ask Beast Boy about his mask and he states it hides his true identity, though Raven points out that with green skin, pointed ears, and fangs, he "has no secret to hide". Starfire was called by her real name Princess Koriand'r when they visited Tamaran in "Betrothed." When Cyborg goes undercover at Hive Adademy in "Deception" he takes on the alias "Stone" as a reference to his comic counterpart's real name, Victor Stone. Later seasons of Teen Titans Go! have, though infrequently, referred to Cyborg as Victor Stone and Beast Boy as Garfield Logan.
Each season contains a distinct story arc that is centered on a specific Titan on the team. Terra is the only member who was not part of the original roster to have a season focused on her. (A similar setup was later used by WB/DC for The Batman.)
|Season||Season-centric Titan||Episodes||Originally aired|
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||Robin||13||July 19, 2003||October 11, 2003|
|2||Terra||13||January 10, 2004||August 21, 2004|
|3||Cyborg||13||August 28, 2004||January 22, 2005|
|4||Raven||13||January 17, 2005||July 16, 2005|
|5||Beast Boy||13||September 24, 2005||January 16, 2006|
|Special||January 10, 2005|
|Movie||September 15, 2006|
The series is known for featuring both an English and Japanese version of its title theme song, created by Andy Sturmer and performed by the Japanese band Puffy AmiYumi. The title theme used in the regions where the show was broadast varied; some would play only one version, while Japan - and the English language video editions - would use both, according to the respective episode's plot theme: The English lyrics for more serious stories, the Japanese version for more comedic tones.
The first season episode "Mad Mod" also featured another song by Puffy AmiYumi, "K2G". In the feature-length movie Trouble in Tokyo, a literal translation of the Japanese song, whose actual lyrics differ greatly from its English counterpart, is performed for comedic effect.
In mid-November 2005, TitansTower.com reported that prospects for a sixth season were looking extremely unlikely, and fans were urged to express their support for the show to Cartoon Network. Several days after this initial posting, word came that Cartoon Network had officially terminated the show. According to Wil Wheaton, the actor who provided the voice of Aqualad, the series was terminated by new Warner Bros. Feature Animation executives who made the decision not to renew the series based on its sixth season pitch. Wheaton's story was contradicted by series story editor Rob Hoegee, who stated that the decision came from Cartoon Network, not WB, and that the crew was informed during the writing phase of season five, that there are no plans for a sixth season. The show's producer David Slack indicated that he was given different reasons for the show's cancellation; either the ratings dropped after "scary" season 4 or Mattel wanted the show dead because Bandai had the show's toy deal. Cartoon Network announced that Mattel had become its "master toy licensee" in 2006.
After the last episode, Warner Bros. Animation announced a feature film titled Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo. The film premiered at San Diego Comic-Con International and was shown on Cartoon Network first on September 15, 2006, aired on Kids' WB on September 16, 2006, and finally released on DVD on February 6, 2007.
Reruns on Cartoon NetworkEdit
Reruns of the series returned to Cartoon Network in HD on August 7, 2017.
Return and crossover with Teen Titans Go!Edit
A mid-credits scene from Teen Titans Go! To the Movies featured the 2003 Titans' return, in which Robin states they've "found a way back". In addition, voice actress Tara Strong announced on Twitter that Warner Bros. had told her and other cast members the 2003 series could be revived if the Teen Titans Go! movie "kicked all butts".
Later, Warner Bros. announced that a crossover featuring the Titans from both the TTG and original 2003 versions entitled Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans set for release in 2019 was in the works.
The series was revisited as a series of old shorts in 2012 for the DC Nation programming block on Cartoon Network. Dubbed New Teen Titans, the shorts began airing on September 11, 2012. The shorts featured the Titans in chibi form, with the principal cast members of the original series returning.
Teen Titans Go! was announced as a spin-off, with many voices the same, but not significantly related in terms of story to both the Teen Titans series, and the New Teen Titans shorts. The series premiered on April 23, 2013.
Payton, Strong, Cipes, and Walch reprised their respective character roles as Cyborg, Raven, Beast Boy, Starfire and Blackfire in DC Super Hero Girls.
Payton reprised his role as Cyborg in Lego DC Comics: Batman Be-Leaguered, Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League vs. Bizarro League, Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League – Attack of the Legion of Doom, Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League – Cosmic Clash, Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League – Gotham City Breakout along with Cipes, Walch, and Menville (although he played the Damian Wayne Robin), and Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: The Flash. He has also reprised his role as Cyborg on Justice League Action.
Several character details from Teen Titans, like Raven's standard incantation Azarath Metrion Zinthos and Beast Boy's super-werewolf form from the episode "The Beast Within", were incorporated into the animated movie Justice League vs. Teen Titans.
Impact on DC continuityEdit
Teen Titans has never been established to be a part of the larger DC animated universe or The Batman animated series. Series producer Bruce Timm stated the series would not cross over with Justice League Unlimited. The character Speedy, who first appeared in the episode "Winner Take All", later appeared in Justice League Unlimited with the same costume design and voice actor (Mike Erwin) as the Teen Titans incarnation (though he is older in appearance). Kid Flash was voiced by Michael Rosenbaum in his appearances in the show, who was the same actor who voiced the Flash in Justice League Unlimited. The follow-up series, Teen Titans Go!, has featured several appearances by Batman, but they have all been non-speaking appearances. Both Batman and Alfred Pennyworth appear in DC Nation's New Teen Titans "Red X Unmasked". In the season 2 episode of Teen Titans Go!, "Let's Get Serious", Aqualad (voiced by Khary Payton), Superboy, and Miss Martian of the Young Justice team appear.
Much like X-Men: Evolution and Batman: The Animated Series, the series has affected the comics that initially inspired it, including: Beast Boy adopting the series' purple and black outfit during DC's "52" storyline and later appearing with the pointed ears and fanged teeth originated by the series, future Cyborg having the same armor pattern of his animated counterpart in the Titans Tomorrow storyline, Raven adapting her animated counterpart's costume design in the "One Year Later" storyline, the characters Más Y Menos making appearances in 52 and the Final Crisis limited series, the character Joto was renamed "Hotspot" during 52 to match his cartoon counterpart, and the villain Cinderblock appearing in a fight with the comic incarnation of the Titans.
In other mediaEdit
DC Comics published a comic book series based on Teen Titans named Teen Titans Go!. The series was written by J. Torres and Todd Nauck, Larry Stucker was the regular illustrator. The series focuses on Robin, Raven, Starfire, Beast Boy, and Cyborg who are the main cast members of the television series. While the comic's stories stand independently, its issues were done so as not to contradict events established in the animated series' episodes. Often, Teen Titans Go! also referenced episodes of the show, as well as expanding on parts of the series.
Bandai released a line of action figures based on the Teen Titans animated series. The line included 1.5 inch "Comic Book Hero" mini figures, 3.5 inch action figures (including "Teen Titans Launch Tower Playset", "Teen Titans Command Center", "Battling Machines", "T-Vehicles", "T-Sub Deluxe Vehicles"), 5 inch action figures, 6.5 inch plush Super-D Toys, and 10 inch figures. Amongst the characters included in the line were the main members of the Teen Titans, Titans East, and various allies and villains.
The series had mostly positive critical reception. Early into the series' run, Executive Producer and Cartoon Network Vice President Sam Register responded to criticism regarding the style of the show with a statement slightly contradicting Murakami's statement about wanting Robin to "be cool" with his metal-tipped boots:
Justice League is awesome and Samurai Jack is awesome and we buy a lot of anime shows that are great, but those shows really are directed more towards the nine to fourteen age group, and the six and seven and eight-year-olds were not gelling with the Justice League and some of the more of the fanboy shows...The main mission was making a good superhero show for kids. Now if the fanboys happen to like the Teen Titans also, that's great, but that was not our mission.— Sam Register, CBR News interview, May 8, 2004
However, while the series' creators initially stated that younger children were the intended audience for the series, Teen Titans Go! writer J. Torres notes that the progression and deeper themes of the show widened the appeal to a much broader audience:
... [The show] started out skewed a lot younger... but along the way, I think the producers discovered it was reaching a wider audience. ... [the show] got into some darker story lines, and they introduced a lot more characters, so they expanded on it, and they let the show evolve with the audience.— J. Torres, Titans Companion 2 by Glen Cadigan.
Awards and nominationsEdit
- 2005 Annie Awards
- Outstanding Storyboarding in an Animated Television Production (Nominated)
- 2004 Annie Awards
- Outstanding Music in an Animated Television Production (Nominated)
- Outstanding Storyboarding in an Animated Television Production (Nominated)
- 2004 Motion Picture Sound Editors Awards
- Best Sound Editing in Television Animation (Nominated)
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- This season is also focused on the Honorary Titans as a group.
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- Cadigan, Glen. "J. Torres – Adapting the Animated Antics of the Teen Titans". Titans Companion 2. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 216. ISBN 1-893905-87-X.
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