Teen Titans (TV series)
Teen Titans is an American animated superhero television series developed by Glen Murakami and Sam Register, based on DC Comics's superhero team of the same name. It premiered on Cartoon Network on July 19, 2003, and its first two seasons also aired 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.
|Developed by||Glen Murakami |
|Theme music composer||Andy Sturmer|
|Opening theme||"Teen Titans Theme", |
performed by Puffy AmiYumi
|Ending theme||"Teen Titans Theme"|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||65 (as well as a TV movie) (list of episodes)|
|Running time||23 minutes|
|Production companies||DC Comics (season 5)|
Warner Bros. Animation
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television Distribution|
|Original network||Cartoon Network|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)|
1080p (HDTV, digital, BD)
|Audio format||Stereo (DVD)|
Dolby Surround (BD)
|Original release||July 19, 2003 –|
September 15, 2006
|Followed by||Teen Titans Go! (2013–present)|
Teen Titans became one of Cartoon Network's most acclaimed series, renowned for its character development and serious themes though the humor received criticism. 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.
Teen Titans is based primarily on stories by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez from the 1980s, featuring characters, storylines, and concepts introduced during the run, and incorporating a similar group of members. The five main members of the eponymous team in the series are Robin (Scott Menville), the intelligent and 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 good-natured joker who can transform into various animals. They are situated in Titans Tower, a large T-shaped building featuring living quarters, a command center, and a variety of training facilities, on an island just offshore from the 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.
The first season focuses on the Teen Titans' introduction to the mysterious supervillain Slade (Ron Perlman), who seeks to turn Robin into his apprentice. The second season is an adaption of "The Judas Contract" storyline where new hero Terra (Ashley Johnson) joins the team while secretly plotting against them with Slade. The third season depicts Cyborg's conflict with the evil organization H.I.V.E. and their leader Brother Blood (John DiMaggio), prompting Cyborg to form the superhero team Titans East with Aqualad (Wil Wheaton), Speedy (Mike Erwin), Bumblebee (T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh), and Más y Menos (Freddy Rodriguez). In the fourth season, Raven finds herself unwillingly involved in a plot that threatens the existence of the world when her demon father Trigon (Kevin Michael Richardson) seeks to enslave the Earth. For the fifth season, the Teen Titans join forces with numerous other heroes to combat the Brotherhood of Evil, Beast Boy's longtime adversaries, and their army of villains.
Cast and charactersEdit
- Scott Menville as Robin
- Hynden Walch as Starfire
- Khary Payton as Cyborg
- Tara Strong as Raven
- Greg Cipes as Beast Boy
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.
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 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 main characters' secret identities has been broken for all but Raven:
- While the secret identity of Robin—an alias assumed by at least 5 characters in the comics—is never explicitly revealed in the series, several hints are provided to suggest he is Dick Grayson, the original Robin and founding member of the Teen Titans.
- Robin's alternate dimensional counterpart Larry in the episode "Fractured" is named Nosyarg Kcid—"Dick Grayson" spelled backwards.
- Robin's future counterpart in the episode "How Long Is Forever?" has taken on the identity of Nightwing, Grayson's second superhero alias.
- The main romance in the show is Robin's relationship with Starfire; while Jason Todd (the second Robin, who is often suspected to be the character Red X in the show) also had a relationship with Starfire in the comics, it was only physical intimacy.
- A glimpse into Robin's consciousness by Raven in the episode "Haunted" shows the memory of two acrobats falling from a trapeze, a reference to 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 Slade 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.
- The Teen Titans Go! episode “Permanent Record” would later satirize the mystery of Robin's identity by explicitly giving his name as “Robin v.3: Tim Drake” (the third Robin), with "Dick Grayson" and "Jason Todd" being written over. Subsequent episodes, however, establish him as Dick Grayson through vague flashbacks to his boyhood at Haley Circus.
- At the end of the Season 5 premiere, the Doom Patrol members refer to Beast Boy by his real name (Garfield ((Mark) Logan)), though the Titans still continue to call him Beast Boy (as a joke in "Go!", the Titans ask Beast Boy about his mask and he states it hides his true identity, though Raven points out that his green skin makes him instantly recognizable regardless of his clothing); and when Cyborg goes undercover at H.I.V.E. Academy 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.
- And Starfire's real name Princess Koriand'r ("Koriand'r" being Tamaranian for "Starfire") was used when the Teen Titans visited Tamaran in "Betrothed."
Each season contains a distinct story arc that is centered on a specific Titan on the team. (A similar setup was later used by WB/DC for The Batman.) Terra is the only individual member who was not part of the original roster to have a season focused on her.
|Season||Episodes||Originally aired||Season-centric Titan(s)|
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||13||July 19, 2003||November 11, 2003||Robin|
|2||13||January 10, 2004||August 21, 2004||Terra & Beast Boy|
|3||13||August 28, 2004||January 22, 2005||Cyborg|
|Special||1||January 10, 2005||Beast Boy|
|4||13||January 29, 2005||July 16, 2005||Raven|
|5||13||September 24, 2005||January 16, 2006||Beast Boy & The Honorary Titans|
|Movie||September 15, 2006||Starfire & Robin|
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 broadcast 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.
Crossover with Teen Titans Go!Edit
In early 2019, Warner Bros. announced that a crossover featuring the Titans from both shows, titled Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans, was in development. On June 26, 2019, IGN released the official trailer on YouTube. The film premiered at the San Diego Comic-Con on July 21, 2019. This was followed by a digital release on September 24, 2019 and a DVD and Blu-ray release on October 15, 2019. The events of the film take place during the fifth season of Teen Titans Go!.
The series was revisited as a series of 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.
Menville, Payton, Strong, Cipes, and Walch reprised their respective character roles as Robin, 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), Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: The Flash, and Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Aquaman: Rage of Atlantis. 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. Despite this the series was alluded to in Static Shock, which is part of the DCAU like Justice League Unlimited, where Static asked Batman where Robin was to which Batman responded, "With the Titans...You'll meet them some day." 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; both characters are the Wally West incarnations. 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 the DC Animated Universe (as well as X-Men: Evolution and Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends), 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 has received very positive reviews. 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)
- "Teen Titans - The Complete 1st Season". tvshowsondvd.com. Archived from the original on January 4, 2018.
- "Cartoon Network Schedule - Boomerang". Cartoon Network. Time Warner. July 31, 2009. Archived from the original on July 31, 2009.
- Walko, Bill (April 2004). "Drawing Inspiration: An Interview with Glen Murakami". TitansTower.com. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
- "Five Seasons of Murakanime - Titanstower.com". Retrieved December 17, 2018.
- "Teen Titans Theme". Puffy AmiYumi World. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
- "Teen Titans (Japanese version)". Puffy AmiYumi World. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
- "Puffy Amiyumi: The Iconic and Multifaceted Duo". Yattatachi. June 21, 2017. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
- "Teen Titans' Sixth Season Looks Unlikely". Titans Tower Monitor. November 15, 2005. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- "Wil Wheaton's Radio Free Burrito Episode 4". Titansgo.net. Archived from the original on August 13, 2006. Cite journal requires
|journal=(help) interview transcript
- "Live Chat with Rob Hoegee [Transcript]". Titansgo.net. Archived from the original on December 9, 2006.
- "David Slack on Twitter".
- "Mattel Named Cartoon Network Master Toy Licensee".
- Radulovic, Petrana. "Teen Titans Go! to the Movies post-credits hints at classic Teen Titans cartoon's return" (Press release). Polygon. Retrieved July 30, 2018.
- Whitbrook, James. "The Original Animated Teen Titans Will Return for Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans" (Press release). i09. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
- "Teen Titans Go! Vs. Teen Titans - Exclusive Official Trailer". June 26, 2019. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
- ‘Teen Titans’ Talent Reflects on OG, New Series Movie Matchup - Media Play News
- "Return of the TeenTitans – Teen Titans Video". IGN. February 15, 2012. Retrieved September 21, 2013.
- Goldman, Eric (June 8, 2012). "Teen Titans Returning With New Full Length Episodes". IGN. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
- "Teen Titans Reimagined for Cartoon Network this Spring in 'Teen Titans Go!'" (Press release). DC Comics. March 13, 2013. Retrieved May 26, 2013.
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- "Titans East". Comicvine.com. Archived from the original on October 5, 2011.
- Final Crisis #1. DC Comics.
- Teen Titans #38. DC Comics.
- Titans (vol. 2) #17. DC Comics.
- "Teen Titans Merchandise". Titans Tower. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved December 26, 2011.
- "Toys & Games". titansgo.net. Archived from the original on November 15, 2011. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
- Cadigan, Glen (2008). "J. Torres – Adapting the Animated Antics of the Teen Titans". Titans Companion 2. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 216. ISBN 978-1-893905-87-0.
- "83, Teen Titans". IGN. January 23, 2009. Retrieved January 24, 2009.
- Caruso, Nick (October 24, 2020). "The Top TV Theme Songs of All Time: Animated Series". TVLine. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
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