Teen Titans (animated series)

From Academic Kids

Teen Titans is an animated series based on the DC Comics superhero team, the Teen Titans.

The Teen Titans animated series revolves around the adventures of Robin, Starfire, Cyborg, Beast Boy, and Raven, as well as Terra for a time. The team lives in Titans Tower (shaped like a T) and defend Jump City, a city that bears somewhat of a resemblance to San Francisco and is supposed to be on the West Coast. In the Season Three finale episodes, a second branch of the Titans, known as Titans East, was set up in Steel City, a primarily industrial city to the east.

Missing image
Teen Titans from left to right: Raven, Beast Boy, Cyborg, Starfire, and Robin

Series overview

On July 19, 2003, Cartoon Network launched the series, which is loosely based on The New Teen Titans. The series has become one of the most popular of the network's programming, though it has undergone some criticism from fans of the comic series.

The primary villain of the first two seasons of the series is Slade. Season Three focused on the relationship between Cyborg and the villain Brother Blood, and the fourth (so far) focusing on Slade as a servant of Trigon. With the art displaying a heavy anime influence (described in the official press releases as a "hybrid" style), the series portrays its principals as young teenagers effectively living on their own in their high-tech headquarters, eating pizza, watching TV, and not cleaning up after themselves. One of the running jokes of the series is how the food in the fridge is moldy whenever seen. The theme song TEEN TITANS GO!!! (listen) is performed by Puffy Amiyumi in both Japanese and English in alternating episodes, and was written (along with many of Puffy AmiYumi's other songs) by Andy Sturmer, formerly of the early-90s power-pop band Jellyfish. During the intro for the episode "Fractured", the song is sung in Japanese by the actor who voiced Larry the Titan. And, in the episode "Titans East (Part 1)", Cyborg sings his own version, as written by Marv Wolfman.

The series tends towards self-referential, even iconoclastic, humor with "villains of the week" often serving as vehicles for absurdist plots; for example, a villain brings the entire city to a standstill with an army of giant mutated moths simply to goad Robin into taking his obnoxious daughter to the prom. However, the series also engages in a fair amount of character self-examination and teenage angst, plot devices familiar to fans of the original New Teen Titans comic book series. The series is also notable for is numerous references, ranging from John Woo to the classic Batman series. Most common are references to Battle of the Planets and FLCL, the latter of which heavily influenced the series (as proven by animation style and aforementioned references). The first episode of Season Four and episode 40 of the series, called "Episode 257-494" is rumored to have been created solely to make as many references as possible, including references to James Bond, the Swamp Thing, The Dukes of Hazzard, and The Outer Limits.

Season Two saw a multi-episode, kid friendly version of the comic book's famous "Judas Contract" story arc. As in the print version, the earth-moving Terra befriends and joins the Teen Titans, only to betray them later. However, whereas the original comic-book Terra was an irredeemable psychopath, the new, animated Terra is apparently merely a misguided runaway who falls under a bad influence. It also saw the apparent death of Slade, although all that was seen was his mask melting in a lava pit. Robin later mentioned in "Haunted" that he was never found.

Season Three focused on the conflict between Brother Blood, new headmaster of the H.I.V.E. Academy, and Cyborg. This season also introduced the Titans East, based in Steel City, composed of Speedy, Aqualad, Bumblebee, and Ms y Menos. Cyborg served as their leader before returning to the Titans West.

So far, Season Four seems to focus on a prophecy that Raven will bring about the destruction of the world, beginning on her birthday. Slade returned in "Birthmark" as a servant of Raven's father, Trigon, and with the ability to control fire. It is unknown if he has any additional powers, or how he obtained them.

Several references to original Teen Titans characters have included H.I.V.E., Aqualad (who was a short term crush of both Starfire and Raven and member of Titans East), Speedy (Robin's rival in the Tournament of Heroes competition and part of Titans East) and Bumblebee (an ex-H.I.V.E. student and leader of Titans East who helps the team stop Brother Blood's plans and who is Cyborg's potential love interest).

There are also some original characters in the series, such as Ms y Menos incarnated from the The Cyclone Kids with special powers(two Spanish-speaking Titans East members who can move at Flash-like speeds, but only when touching each other), Cinderblock (a walking statue who works for Slade), Red X (a masked villan who was actually Robin in Season One, but it is unknown who is the character's latest alter-ego after returning in Season Three), Silkie (Starfire's pet), and Control Freak (a fan-boy with an all-powerful remote control).

The first three seasons have been completed, and Season Four along with the final three Season Three episodes began airing on January 8, 2005; after a break, the second half of Season Four resumed in June 2005. Season Five is in production and no airdates have been announced for it.

An affiliated comic book, Teen Titans Go, is being published by DC.

Although popular with viewers, the series remains controversial with many long-time fans of the comic book who were disappointed in the decision to depict the Titans members as young teens and children, rather than as the adult (or near-adult) characters seen in the original New Teen Titans comic books (the cartoon, as a result, cannot replicate the sexual tension and later relationship seen in the comics between Starfire and Robin/Nightwing, for example). The term "kiddifying," already coined for many similar cases in pop culture, was quickly applied to the show on Internet newsgroups.

However, traces of the relationship between Robin and Starfire are quite easy to find, appearing in almost every other episode (although most of these are only small hints). A single episode in every season thus far is usually greatly and almost completely dedicated towards Robin and Starfire's relationship ("Sisters," "Date With Destiny," "Betrothed" and the newly premiered "Stranded") making them the most focused couple of the entire show. Another prominent relationship is the one between Beast Boy and Terra, which is found in the Season Two Terra arc ("Betrayal" being the best example). Beast Boy also appears to have a sweet-sour relationship with Raven ("Spellbound," and "The Beast Within," for example). However, the show's creators have publicly stated that the relationship is only a "brother-sibling" relationship, and that no romantic undertones will appear between the two. Although there are 'shippers who say otherwise. It is known that during the episode "Deception" Cyborg had a crush on Jinx, but it is unknown whether it will ever come up again (most consider a future expansion on this relationship doubtful, primarily because the mention of the crush was included for comic effect). Another, more subtle, relationship seems to be developing between Cyborg and Bumblebee, but many fans see it to be more a relationship of rivalry rather than one of affection.

Robin's identity

One quirk of the series is that it has not revealed which Robin is leading the animated Titans: Dick Grayson, Tim Drake or (improbably) Jason Todd. In a special feature on the Teen Titans "Divide and Conquer" DVD, a Cartoon Network employee says that the series' Robin is Tim Drake, but many are still unsure and there are hints that the Robin in the series is Dick Grayson. The animated Teen Titans Robin is never depicted completely out of costume, and is even shown sleeping in his mask in one episode. In "The Quest", Robin has to climb a mountain without his costume, but refuses to allow the person giving instructions to Robin to remove his mask. Oddly, no direct reference has ever been made to Robin's mentor, Batman. However, In 'Apprentice' Slade tells Robin that he'll "Be like the father you never had", to which Robin replies, "I already have a father". The scene then cuts to the ceiling, and shows some bats flying overhead. Also, in "Haunted", an image is shown of Robin swearing service to what appears to be Batman. Another reference is within "The Quest" where Robin is about to duel with a martial arts master who states, "It is only fair to warn you that I have trained with the best." where Robin replies, "It's only fair to warn you, so have I."

In episode 14, "How Long is Forever", Starfire travels into the future and meets Nightwing, the superhero identity taken by both the comic book and animated Robin, Dick Grayson.

In episode 24, "Fractured", a bizarre extradimensional being who claims to be Robin's alternate-universe counterpart gives his real name, which is (and is printed on screen as) "Dick Grayson" backwards. He is a small, pudgy version of Robin, with a magic finger which can distort reality - an homage to the Silver Age Batman character Bat-Mite. Also of notable interest, a strange male singer sings the Japanese intro to this episode in a quite parodic melody. It turns out that the singer does the voice for the character Kaz in the Cartoon Network show Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi.

In episode 28, "X", Beast Boy presents a whiteboard listing possible identities of a mysterious villain named Red X. One of the possibilities written on the board is "Jason Todd," the ill-fated Robin who has never existed in the DC Animated continuity. The sort of self-referential humor lends creedence to the position that the show's writers believe that their show takes place "outside" of the standard DC animated continuity, and that - for their show - such issues should be taken lightly.

Episode 31, "Haunted (", an uncharacteristically serious Teen Titans episode, provided further insight into the Dick Grayson/Tim Drake controversy. In the episode, a brief flashback portrays the silhouette of two figures falling from a circus trapeze - the manner in which Dick Grayson's parents were murdered. However, it has also been pointed out that Tim Drake, the third comic-book and second animated Robin, was present in the circus audience when Grayson's parents were murdered (Batman #436). There is also another scene which shows Robin in the Batcave with Batman and Robin has his left hand on a book and his right hand up in the air. In the comics, Dick Grayson took a vow in front of a candle when he became Robin. So it seems the Dick Grayson/Tim Drake debate remains unresolved, although leaning heavily towards Grayson.

In one episode of DC Comics animated series Static Shock, the main character meets Batman and Robin and they fight the Joker together. In another episode, Batman and Static Shock meet again, and Batman states that Robin is "with the Titans." The Robin in THIS animated universe had previously been established as Tim Drake, which makes this one of the central arguments in the identity debate.

Interestingly, Teen Titans producer Glen Murakami has stated in various interviews that although he originally intended for this Robin to be Dick Grayson, the animated Teen Titans Robin actually has no secret identity. He is simply "Robin". In creating this new version of Robin, Murakami borrowed character design elements and character elements from the various Robins that have existed in comic and animated forms over the years, making this Robin a composite character. Furthermore, Murakami has mentioned that in context of a children-oriented Teen Titans animated series, the plot point of a secret identity is not relevant.

So, it would seem that the Teen Titans animated series is not part of the same fictional universe as the Batman: The Animated Series-family. However, it should be noted that references in the DC Universe animated shows Static Shock and Justice League suggests that the DC Universe animated continuity does have some incarnation of the Teen Titans. However, Justice League producer Bruce Timm has stated that there will not be a JLA/Teen Titans crossover episode any time soon.


Teen Titans

Major villains

Titans East

Honorary Titans

H.I.V.E. Academy students

Minor characters


See also

External links



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