Carmen Sandiego

From Academic Kids

Carmen Isabela Sandiego is a fictional character featured in a long-running series of educational games and television shows in the United States of the same name. As a criminal mastermind and villain, Sandiego was an integral part of the series, which originally focused on teaching geography and history (though the series later branched out into mathematics and English). The character later appeared in a series of books and on many licensed products.


Carmen Sandiego as a game series

Carmen Sandiego was originally conceived in 1983 by ex-Disney artist Gene Portwood and Lauren Elliott at Broderbund Software. To inspire kids to learn geography, the creators wanted a female "heroine" whose name sounded exotic but was unmistakably simple to pronounce. The name "Carmen Sandiego" is somewhat of a play on Indiana Jones. The first software game, "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?," was released in 1985. This was followed by "Where in the USA?" and "Where in the World...Jr. Detective Edition," all geography-based games. "Where in Time"/"Great Chase through Time" was the history-based game, "Word Detective" was the English-based game, and "Math Detective" is the mathematics-based game.

The series of games are now being released by The Learning Company, which purchased Brøderbund in the 1990s. The first title released by The Learning Company was "Carmen Sandiego's Think Quick Challenge" a quiz game.

Carmen Sandiego as a TV series

Carmen's character appeared in three television shows. Two of the shows were in a game show format and aired on PBS. The first was "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?," and it aired from September 1991 to September 1996. It was followed by "Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?" which aired until September 1998. The third show was an animated series titled "Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?" that debuted in February 1994 on the Fox Network and ran for three seasons.

The World series, with a memorable theme song performed by Rockapella (who also gave clues to the contestants through song during the show itself), was hosted by Greg Lee, with the chief of ACME Crime Lab played by Lynne Thigpen. The game provided a prize of a trip to anywhere around the continental USA for the winner; however, the requirement for winning the final round increased as the show went on, making it harder to win the trip.

The Time series, hosted by Kevin Schinick, refocused the show on History, but played very similarly to the original show. The final round of this show involved answering various history related questions to open six "time doors"; if a question was answered correctly, the player walked through the door. If it was answered incorrectly, the player had to turn a crank, pull a lever, or some other task that ate into their 90 second time limit. If they got through all the doors, they received a computer as a prize.

In the Earth series, Carmen was voiced by Rita Moreno, and the series won an Emmy in 1995. In later years the episodes were repeated on both Fox Family Channel and Pax TV.

Carmen was the "spokesperson" for Amtrak in spring 1998. She had a cameo on the show, Animaniacs in the episode, "Aquaintances."

Carmen Sandiego as a character

Note: The following information is based heavily on conjectures and cannot be considered canon. Information on the order of events and such are not given in any official material.

Carmen was orphaned at an early age and was sent to live at GoldenGate Girls' School in San Francisco, California. This orphanage was the only home she had until Chief at the ACME Detective Agency gave her a home there.

At ACME Sandiego was a success and rose through ACME's ranks faster than any agent in ACME history. There are three people known who were once her partner; Suhara, Jules Argent and Chase Devineaux. Argent was just a rookie when Sandiego became her partner. They solved many cases together and Argent came to respect Sandiego greatly. Argent still calls Carmen Sandiego "the best partner I ever had."

One of the last cases in which Carmen Sandiego and Chase Devineaux worked together was the case of the Prometheus Rock. The Rock was a meteor that was discovered by an ancient civilization, which tapped into its awesome powers. Its name seems to be a reference to Prometheus, the Titan patron of human civilization in Greek mythology. When it was stolen, Sandiego and Devineaux were dispatched to Athens, Greece. They were able to find the thieves responsible, but not able to locate the whereabouts of the rock.

Solving mysteries was getting too easy for Carmen, so she decided to give herself greater intellectual challenges by outsmarting ACME. Since Devineaux had been working so closely with her, she had to go undercover and he stopped working with ACME and started working on her own.

After leaving ACME, Carmen founded V.I.L.E. It soon became common to hear that a world landmark had been stolen. Her thefts weren't limited to the Earth, either. She has been known to steal things from outer space, such as Saturn's rings. However, Carmen wanted more, so she broke into ACME headquarters and stole the Cronoskimmer, the only time travel device on the planet. The name Cronoskimmer comes from the Greek word Chronos, which means time and in Greek mythology is also the name of its personification.

She dropped villains off at different time periods so they could steal something from the past as part of "Project History Sweep." Carmen's ultimate plan of "Project History Sweep" was to steal her own dossier from ACME headquarters, believing she would be able to erase her "embarrassing" ACME history.

Carmen failed, but she wasn't finished with time travel. She stole a Russian project that involved time travel and built her own time machine. Though agents Zack and Ivy managed to thwart her plans to change the history of colonial America, she eventually set up a facility where she could send one of her villains back in time, with the push of a button.

To counteract this, ACME built a giant Cronoskimmer, and sent the squadron leader as well as three time pilots back in time to stop Carmen's plans.

Another plan of Carmen's was to steal language. She would do this with new invention called the Bable-On Machine which was stored in the Tower of Bable. Its name is a pun on that of the legendary Tower of Babel. "Bable-On" is a play on Babylon, Iraq which is usually identified with Babel. Chase Devineaux came out of his undercover job to help ACME on this case, but Carmen managed to capture all but one of ACME's 13 agents. Agent 13 somehow practically single-handedly stopped her and destroyed the Bable-On Machine.

She built a new machine, the Quantum Crystalizer, which could shrink anything into tiny crystals. Agent 13, apparently promoted to Agent 9, helped Devineaux on this case as well, to recover 12 stolen landmarks. It was soon discovered, with further investigation, that the Prometheus Rock was being used to power the machine, the same which had disappeared all those years before. A "Power Drain" began sucking all the electrical power from the world, and even ACME shut down. Somehow Agent 9 and Chase Devineaux managed to destroy the machine.

Carmen later decided that since "knowledge is power" she would steal knowledge. To accomplish this task she built Knowledge Robots or KnowBots to steal knowledge. ACME sent groups of agents out to fight these KnowBots, and try to get passwords to break to their hide-outs.

Some time later, when the last descendant from a line of African kings revealed on his death bed the existence of an enchanted diamond that had the knowledge of the nations, Carmen sent a fake clue to the ACME agents Jules Argent and Shadow Hawkins that sent them to Siberia. She then stole the drums that could reveal the entrance of a temple in the jungle. The ACME trainee Cole Gannon stopped her, but the diamond was lost in the deep of the Earth. For an unknown reason, Carmen saved Cole's life when the temple was destroyed.

When Carmen isn't wearing one of her numerous disguises, she can be identified by her long brown hair, and will be wearing a red trench coat and fedora.


  • Searching on Google with the phrase "Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?" will return "Cairo, Egypt" as an answer [1] (,GGLC:1969-53,GGLC:en&q=Where+in+the+world+is+Carmen+Sandiego%3F).

See also

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