Inspector Gadget

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Inspector Gadget is an animated series about a clumsy, absent-minded, and oblivious detective, Inspector Gadget, who is a cyborg with various "gadgets" built into his anatomy. Gadget's main nemesis is the mysterious Dr. Claw, leader of an evil organization known as MAD. This was the merchandising company DiC Entertainment's first syndicated show, and ran from 1983 to 1986 in syndication.


Cast of Characters

  • Inspector Gadget - Bumbling cyborg detective, who is also the title character
  • Penny - Gadget's "niece", although their relation is never specifically defined. Inspector Gadget is her guardian and caretaker, although often she seems more suited to be his caretaker due to Gadget's clumsiness and general cluelessness.
  • Brain - Penny's dog. He often walks upright, and communicates with Penny through a device built into his collar. Brain can communicate with humans using his voice, but has some difficulty with pronunciation. Aside from speaking in a low gruff voice, he tends to interject most words with the letter "R" similar to the way Scooby-Doo and Astro from The Jetsons do. How much the humans in the show understand him is debatable, since he mostly uses pantomime to communicate.
  • Dr. Claw -Main villain in the series and leader of the evil organization known as MAD. His face is never seen by viewers.
  • Chief Quimby -Gadget's boss. He appears at the beginning of each episode with his own theme music to deliver Gadget his mission, and appears again at the end of each episode to congratulate Gadget for a job well done.
  • Corporal Capeman - A nerdy sidekick dressed in a stereotypical superhero costume, he accompanies Gadget in a few episodes, and is equally clueless. The two had a student/mentor relationship, though Gadget was rarely teaching anything nor was Capeman learning. Capeman was obsessed with learning to fly and often mistakenly believed he had miraculously acquired the power of flight while in the midst of dire circumstances. His last appearance was when Gadget put him on the bus to "Superhero School". He was widely considered the worst and most annoying character in the series by its fan base.

Nearly every episode saw the introduction of some supervillain who was now employed by Dr. Claw. They were typically arrested at the end of the episode, and did not appear again in the series.


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Inspector Gadget was apparently employed by the Metro City police department, and all episodes either took place or began some where in Metro City. However, his missions would often take him to a different corner of the earth each episode.

Every single episode followed a standard plot, with little variation:

  • Gadget, Penny and, Brain are engaged in some family activity that is interrupted by Police Chief Quimby appearing in an outlandish disguise.
  • Quimby gives Gadget a mission on an exploding sheet of paper. The sheet of paper always winds up exploding in Quimby's face after Gadget has read it. The exploding message is a spoof of the exploding taped messages in the TV show Mission Impossible. Dr. Claw is always some how visually monitoring this event on his computer from his desk or car, and introduces his scheme which is either stealing something or destroying Gadget.
  • Gadget bumbles through his mission oblivious to what's going on around him, almost invariably mistaking hostile enemy agents for helpful allies.
  • Brain follows Gadget in disguise to make sure he doesn't get hurt, often interacting with Gadget who never recognizes him. Gadget usually considers the disguised Brain to be the main suspect.
  • Penny investigates and solves the crime, with the help of her Computer Book. Often Penny gets captured and escapes the criminals during her investigation.
  • Inspector Gadget invariably gets credit for solving the mission, everyone believing that he had in fact stopped Dr. Claw single-handedly. Chief Quimby appears and congratulates him.
  • Common of many 1980s American children's TV shows, Inspector Gadget ends with a safety tip often relating to the episode.

While the show was admittedly formulaic, charming and appealing main characters, exotic and varied locations, and solid writing kept the series entertaining. Also, children tend to enjoy formulas and repetition, which kept the series still popular even after its cancelation.

Unexplained facts

One element of Inspector Gadget's popularity was the fact that a lot of the show's premises were never fully explained, which in turn led to open speculation. The show offered virtually no back-story, which forced viewers to use their imaginations to explain the unexplained.

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Chief Quimby

For example:

  • Dr. Claw's identity, the viewer never sees his face.
  • How Dr. Claw is able to visually monitor virtually any event anywhere.
  • The source of Dr. Claw's wealth.
  • The history of Dr. Claw's feud with Gadget.
  • The location of Penny's parents.
  • Gadget's first name and/or real name he used before he had Gadget implants; although the 1999 live-action film stated his name as "John Brown".
  • The circumstances under which Gadget had his gadgets installed. (We only know that they were installed by Professor von Slickstein, making the first of his few appearances in the fourth episode to air, The Amazon.)

Inspector Gadget's gadgets

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Gadget Copter

Inspector Gadget could activate each of his gadgets by calling its name, "Go-go gadget arms!" (for example). The gadgets would more often than not malfunction, to which he would muse that he was due for a tune up/check up.

The inspector seemed to have an infinite supply of gadgets located all over his body. However, there were several that appeared regularly.

List of Inspector Gadget's Gadgets:

  • Gadget Binoculars - Binoculars lowered down out of his hat over his eyes.
  • Gadget Brella - A hand holding an umbrella that came out of his hat. It could be used as a parachute.
  • Gadget Coat - His trench coat inflated when he pulled one of its buttons and enabled him to float. It was almost always deflated by being punctured.
  • Gadget Copter - A helicopter that came out of his hat that enabled him to fly.
  • Gadget cuffs - A handcuff came out of his forearm just above his hand.
  • Gadget Lasso - His necktie turned into a lasso.
  • Gadget Legs/Arms/neck - His neck, arms and legs could extend to great lengths.
  • Gadget Mallet - A wooden hammer held in a robotic hand that also came from his hat. It usually wound up bopping someone it shouldn't--sometimes even the Inspector himself.
  • Gadget Phone - A telephone in his hand. The antenna came out of one finger and the speaker and receiver on others. This is the only gadget that was not voice activated. Possibly a reference, also, to Maxwell Smart's shoe-phone.
  • Gadget Respirator - A self contained breathing mask and the only hat gadget Gadget has to physically reach for and pull on.
  • Gadget Siren - A police light and siren popped out of the top of his hat.
  • Gadget Skates - Roller skates came out of the bottom of his shoes. Also, sometimes rockets would come out of the sides.
  • Gadget Skis - Skis extended out of the ends of his shoes.
  • Gadget Spring - A spring came out of his hat, enabling him to bounce usually when falling head first and hitting his head against the ground.
  • Hand Gadgets - there were several gadgets that were inside his fingers and were utilized by taking the end off his finger to expose the gadget. These included: flashlight, key, laser, pen, corkscrew, and whistle.

Background Information

The theme music for the show was composed by Shuki Levy.

The first season was aired from September 10, 1983 to November 1984, comprising of 65, 22 1/2 minute long episodes. After the first season the show was a worldwide hit.

The first season episodes were repeated during the 1984 - 1985 season, with 21 new episodes premiering during the second and last season of Inspector Gadget from September 1985 to February 1986. Several significant changes were made to the established formula in these cheaper episodes. For instance, evil henchmen would have recurring roles, appearing in as many as three episodes in a row with ever being arrested. That way the show lost some of its moral, that "the bad guys should get punished", as well. The crime would also center more often around simply getting rid of Gadget. Gadget, Penny and Brain moved into a high-tech house filled with many gadgets, where a few of the episodes actually were located. probably another result of the lower budgets. Penny didn't get into trouble as often. In the season's fourth episode, the writers introduced a sidekick named Corporal Capeman, who was and is widely unpopular with the show's fan base.

The cartoon was written in France, then animated in Tokyo, Japan and (a few of the episodes) in Taiwan, before being voiced in Canada and broadcast in the USA for the first time in September 1983. Only a month or so later, the show premiered in France. Don Adams, the voice of Inspector Gadget in the American version of the cartoon, had also played Maxwell Smart, the lead character in Get Smart, giving both shows a certain resemblance to US viewers. When the recording moved to the United States for the second season, several of the voices (among them Cree Summer, who played Penny) were replaced.

Other Incarnations

Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas

DVD Photo (

Dr. Claw has locked up Santa Claus at the North Pole and hypnotized his elves. Christmas will be finished unless Dr. Claw is stopped. Enter Inspector Gadget, his niece Penny, and Brain the Dog. They travel to the North Pole in an attempt to stop Dr. Claw and save the Christmas. This special was nominated for an emmy.

Don Adams, Frank Welker, Erica Horn and Maurice LaMarche provide the voices for the characters.

Inspector Gadget's Field Trip

In this 1995 series, the popular animated character, Inspector Gadget, takes students around the world in this series of 50 field trips. Adams returns as the voice of Gadget.

Gadget and the Gadgetinis

In 2001, DiC also made 52 episodes of the spinoff Gadget and the Gadgetinis.

In it, Gadget is a lieutenant member of an organization called "WOMP" (World Organization of Mega Powers). He is aided in his work by Penny (a character from the original series, but now twelve years old), as well as the new robot characters Digit and Fidget, invented by Penny.

Inspector Gadget's Last Case

In 2002, DiC made an animated movie called Inspector Gadget's Last Case.

When Inspector Gadget gives up his beloved but aging Gadgetmobile, his archenemy Dr. Claw uses a competing crime fighter to discredit Gadget and cost him his badge. The movie is a slapstick comedy cartoon filled with action.

The voice of Gadget is provided by Maurice LaMarche rather than Don Adams. Oddly enough--noting the Inspector's dog's name--LaMarche is most well-known as the other Brain, the large-headed megalomaniacal lab mouse on Animaniacs.

Also, after all these years, Dr. Claw's face is finally visible to the audience...sort of. This movie has the same animation as the Gadgetinis series.

Gadget Boy & Heather

(aka Gadget Boy)

(View Photo ( One of the many series to involve younger versions of famous characters, this series is about when the bumbling bionic detective with a knack for getting into all sorts of hilarious trouble, Inspector Gadget was a little kid whose name is Gadget Boy. Instead of his future sidekick Penny, Gadget Boy was assisted this time around by none other than the resourceful Heather. Just as maladroit as he would become as an adult, Gadget Boy was usually bailed out of situations by the more practical Heather, though he was also helped greatly by his myriad high-tech gadgets and extendable arms and legs. In this series, traditional nemesis Dr. Claw was replaced by the villainous villainess Spydra.

The series debuted in 1995 and only a single season was produced, besides the Historical Special, Gadget Boy's Adventures in History, which aired on The History Channel.

Live Action Movies

In 1999 a live-action movie, produced by Caravan Pictures and Walt Disney Pictures, called simply Inspector Gadget was made. It stared Matthew Broderick, Rupert Everett, Joely Fisher, Michelle Trachtenberg, Andy Dick, Cheri Oteri, Michael G. Hagerty, Dabney Coleman, D.L. Hughley, and Frances Bay. It won an ASCAP Award and was nominated for awards by several other organizations.

In 2003, French Stewart starred in the straight to DVD sequel, Inspector Gadget 2, which was said to have more closely followed the cartoon series.

Video clips

  • Opening Sequence (

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