10 Things You Didn’t Know About Inspector Gadget

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Dr. Claw’s face revealed, selling chicken, meeting Mario, and more incredibly trivial Inspector Gadget factoids…

Look, I’m just like you. I’d forgotten all about Inspector Gadget, too. The original 1983 syndicated cartoon series was certainly a staple of my childhood, yet sadly, Gadget and I have fallen out of contact over the last two decades. However… that all changed the moment I saw this.

Wowsers, indeed! A trailer… For a new Inspector Gadget series? On Netflix?! It’s like my wish had been granted! No, of course I don’t mean getting a CGI Inspector Gadget reboot. Nobody ever wished for that. I mean I finally have an excuse to dump a dickton of unnecessary Inspector Gadget trivia onto the web and hopefully make room in my brain for something else! Let’s begin, shall we?

1. This Is Not Inspector Gadget’s First Reboot

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Previously on Failed Attempts at Modernization…

Other than a 1992 ABC Christmas Special, the Inspector Gadget show I fell in love with hasn’t been in production since 1986. But the guy’s not dead, you just haven’t been paying attention, or in all likelihood, have aged out of caring. Not only have the original series episode continued to be broadcast all over the world, Gadget’s had more than a few shots at a resurrection.

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That’s Edutainment!

Don Adams continued to voice the character in both 1995’s Gadget Boy, a show set in the future featuring a younger robot detective with the original Inspector’s personality, as well as in the rather insipid educational spin-off called Inspector Gadget’s Field Trip, eighteen episodes of which were produced mostly to fulfill FCC educational requirements.

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Left: Gadget Boy, Right: Gadgetinis, Not Pictured: Commercial Success!  

And in 2001, Gadget’s original creators reunited to write and direct 52 episode of Inspector Gadget and the Gadgetinis, a sequel show featuring older versions of Gadget and Penny, as well as two titular robots invented by Penny. Weird shit you haven’t seen aside, bear in mind Inspector Gadget has aired consistently in syndication for over thirty years and is incredibly popular all over the globe. Numerous international companies have been producing the 2015 CG reboot for more than three years, long before Netflix opted to put it on its streaming platform and raise its profile.

2. Don Adams is Awesome

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Inspector Gadget was originally voiced by Don Adams, and that might very well mean something to people my age, something a little more to people born before 1980, but sadly next to nothing for people under 25. Thanks to Nick at Nite reruns, I’m more than aware that Adams is most famous for playing Maxwell Smart for five seasons of Get Smart, and even a theatrical film. That 1965 TV show created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry is otherwise unknown to people born after 1990, who are probably lucky if they even remember Get Smart as a 2005 movie starring Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway.

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Either way, Smart is an enthusiastic, bumbling detective, so choosing Adams to play Inspector Gadget wasn’t just excellent casting, it’s a pop culture coup of wonderful proportions. With virtually the same performance, Don Adams brought his inimitable charm to TWO iconic characters made for TWO distinct generations. I wish I had something better to compare it to, but to try and relate to you millennials, let’s just say it’d be like if your future kids’ favorite TV show in twenty years features an animated drug dealer played by Bryan Cranston.

3. Inspector Gadget Originally Had a Mustache

inspector-gadgetNot Photoshopped

Beyond just Maxwell Smart, Inspector Gadget is an intentional amalgam of several iconic, very fictitious detectives most people today wouldn’t recognize. However, one company was none too happy with the homage. Gadget’s hat and jacket still take obvious inspiration from Inspector Clouseau, the character made famous by Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther movies, and arguably, a pre-existing cartoon character.

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DIC Entertainment was sent a letter by MGM regarding the potential infringement and a quick decision was made to satisfy all parties: A quick shave! Only in the show’s pilot can you see Gadget rocking his original ‘stache, but I thoroughly recommend fans of Gadget and facial hair take a look at the original pilot’s intro below. It’s a near shot-for-shot recreation of the famous opening you know and love, but in the days before CG and Photoshop, knowing that these mustachioed scenes needed to be completely re-drawn, inked by hand to new cels, then shot and edited again makes it a much cooler animation artifact.

4. Inspector Gadget is Basically RoboCop

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Definitely Photoshopped. Poorly

Did you expect to see “Inspector Gadget’s Real Name is XXX” on this listicle? Me too! But the harsh truth is that it doesn’t exist; Inspector Gadget has no real name. In fact, according to an officially released Impel trading card, Gadget’s past is even more tragic than you ever expected. Just like Peter Weller’s Officer Alex Murphy, Inspector Gadget’s was essentially killed as a human INTERPOL agent while in pursuit of Dr. Claw, then fortified with cybernetic enhancements and cursed to roam the earth as a lifeless machine dispensing flawed human justice.

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This is canon

That he died the way he lived, slipping on a banana peel and falling down some stairs, is the only levity you’ll get. Because unlike RoboCop, those wicked men who decided to play god and affix 13,000 (that’s the official number) gadgets to the corpse of a fallen hero were 100% successful in wiping away Inspector Gadget’s original identity FOREVER. Which I have to imagine was even harder in this case, since Inspector Gadget frequently collaborates with his seemingly organic niece, Penny…

5. DIC Head

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If you grew up watching cartoons in the 1980s, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the pronunciation of the company that created Inspector Gadget. They reminded you at the end of shows like Heathcliff, Captain Planet, M.A.S.K, and Sonic the Hedgehog, that it rhymes with “leak” in order to keep eight-year-old boys learning the beauty of swear words from laughing their fucking heads off.

It also shouldn’t be surprising that DIC Entertainment began as a French company, its hilarious moniker an acronym for “Diffusion, Information et Communication,” and the animation powerhouse had it’s phallic name plastered all over our Saturday mornings and syndicated afternoons. DIC brought to life animated versions of Hulk Hogan, Mario, Alf, MC Hammer, Battletoads, The Care Bears, Alvin and the Chipmu-DEAR GOD I COULD GO ON FOREVER-but the one thing all of those famous characters have in common is that they’re owned by other companies.

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Honk if you recognize anyone else

When the dust settled on DIC’s licensing labyrinth, Inspector Gadget was the biggest original property the company could call its own, and thus they did their damnedest to present him as their mascot and figurehead. Mickey to its Disney! Bugs to its Warner Bros! Or perhaps more comparable, Woody to its Universal! Unfortunately, that load was too heavy for Gadget to carry alone… and DIC Entertainment ceased to be in 2008, and its output currently resides in the hands of Cookie Jar Entertainment. RIP, good friend.

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And if you’ve read this far, I can only assume you have a high tolerance for uninteresting things, so feel free to watch Gadget narrate the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea DVD bonus feature as an example!

Wanna see Inspector Gadget’s Nintendo moment, pimping chicken or Dr. Claw’s face?! Click on over to the NEXT PAGE.

17 thoughts on “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Inspector Gadget

  1. Inspector Gadget is in the Underdog, Penelope Pittstop, Rocky and Bullwinkle part of my brain in regards to cartoons I know WAY to much about…it made for an awkward childhood. I remember seeing Dr. Claw’s toy and thinking he looked like a doof. Certainly not as good looking as “Sexy Dr. Claw” .

  2. Just gotta be that guy
    “8. Of Course There’s an Ultra-Rare Inspector Gadget Vinly LP”
    “Vinly”

  3. Wow I had no idea Inspector Gadget was so prolific. I’m actually shocked he has never been approached about a gritty reboot.

  4. #11. The main theme was remixed prominently into the 1985 classic rap song “The Show” by Doug E. Fresh and The Get Fresh Crew.

  5. Never really liked Inspector Gadget.
    If my memory serves right he falls into that “incredibly stupid character that succeeds because of people around him yet those people are uncredited” trope that I hate so much.

  6. Ah, that second KFC commercial is apparently Australian–that “10 dollars 95” thing was throwing me off, but that explains it. Given the bizarre accent, wouldn’t be shocked if the voice actor was Australian, too.

  7. Aww, am currently listening to CC and just heard Chris talk about how much work this was and how under-appreciated it’s bound to be. Well as someone in my mid 30’s I enjoyed the shit out of this. I was not disappointed to see the moustache nod since that always confused the hell out of me as a kid.
    I also had a huge crush on Penny as a kid. It didn’t hell that she was voiced by Cree Summers who, even as a teen, had a smoky voice.

  8. Great read Chris! Inspector Gadget was a show I liked, not loved, but it was on a lot so I watched it because it was there. I did remember catching that Gadgetinis show once. Another fun little tidbit about Inspector Gadget, the character was a guest on the Super Mario Super Show, portrayed by Maurice LeMarche, who voiced Gadget and Quimby in various projects, including the Gadgetinis show and in some animated movies made after the Matthew Broderick Inspector Gadget movie.

  9. Hearing Penny’s Theme brought back SO MANY MEMORIES of that show and its music. I may have to track down the rest of the music. I’d love if the Super Mario Bros Super Show soundtrack were also available, because unlike our author here, I still like that show.

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