|Created by||Tad Stones (uncredited)|
|Theme music composer|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||91 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Production companies||Walt Disney Television Animation[a]|
Walt Disney Television
|Distributor||Buena Vista Television|
|Original release||September 8, 1991 –|
December 5, 1992
Darkwing Duck is an American animated superhero comedy television series produced by Disney Television Animation (formerly Walt Disney Television Animation) that first ran from 1991 to 1992 on both the syndicated programming block The Disney Afternoon and Saturday mornings on ABC. A total of ninety-one episodes were aired. It features the adventures of Darkwing Duck, who is the superheroic alter-ego of ordinary suburban duck Drake Mallard.
Though originally thought by some fans to be a spin-off of the 1987 DuckTales series, creator Tad Stones stated in a 2016 report that he believes the two shows exist in different universes. Despite this, supporting characters Launchpad McQuack and Gizmoduck appear in both series in similar roles, and Scrooge McDuck is mentioned in the Darkwing Duck episode "Tiff of the Titans". Additionally, the 2011 comic book series DuckTales makes reference to Darkwing Duck and features various villains from the series. A crossover between the Darkwing Duck and DuckTales comics occurs in issues 17–18 and issues 5–6, respectively, of each.
Darkwing Duck tells the adventures of the titular superhero, aided by his sidekick and pilot Launchpad McQuack (from DuckTales). In his secret identity of Drake Mallard (a parody of Kent Allard, the alter ego of the Shadow), he lives in an unassuming suburban house with his adopted daughter Gosalyn, next door to the bafflingly dim-witted Muddlefoot family. Darkwing struggles to balance his egotistical craving for fame and attention against his desire to be a good father to Gosalyn and help do good in St. Canard. Most episodes put these two aspects of Darkwing's character in direct conflict, though Darkwing's better nature usually prevails.
The show was the first Disney Afternoon series to emphasize action rather than adventure, with Darkwing routinely engaging in slapstick battles with both supervillains and street criminals. While conflict with villains was routine in earlier Disney Afternoon shows, actual fight scenes were relatively rare.
Darkwing Duck was also the first Disney Afternoon property that was produced completely as a genre parody. Prior shows would contain elements of parody in certain episodes, but would otherwise be straight-faced adventure concepts, this in the tradition of Carl Barks' work in the Disney comics. By contrast, every episode of Darkwing Duck is laden with references to superhero, pulp adventure, or super-spy fiction. Darkwing Duck himself is a satirical character. His costume, gas gun and flashy introductions are all reminiscent of pulp heroes and Golden Age superheroes such as The Shadow, The Sandman, Doc Savage, Batman, The Green Hornet and the Julius Schwartz Flash, as well as The Lone Ranger and Zorro. The fictional city of St. Canard is a direct parody of Gotham City. ("Canard" is the French word for "duck".)
|First aired||Last aired||Network|
|1||65||September 6, 1991||May 20, 1992||Syndicated (Disney Afternoon)|
|2||13||September 7, 1991||November 30, 1991||ABC|
|3||13||September 12, 1992||December 12, 1992|
Darkwing Duck was developed as a last-minute replacement with concept artwork by Michael Peraza for a proposed reboot of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, when the management team realized that Disney did not own the rights to the characters (Disney merely held home video rights to the series).
The show was a spin-off of the very successful series DuckTales. Darkwing Duck entered production roughly one year after DuckTales ended. Darkwing Duck was inspired by two specific episodes of DuckTales: "Double-O-Duck" starring Launchpad McQuack as a secret agent, and "The Masked Mallard" in which Scrooge McDuck becomes a masked vigilante superhero wearing a purple uniform and cape. The name "The Masked Mallard" became an epithet often used in the new show to refer to Darkwing himself.
Tad Stones was directed to come up with a series for The Disney Afternoon around the premise of Double-O-Duck, as an executive liked the title Double-O Duck as a spoof of James Bond and felt Launchpad McQuack would take the starring role. It turned out that the title Double-O Duck could not be used as the Broccoli family owned the 'double-o' title.
A new name was selected, "Darkwing Duck". Thus, Stones designed a new character for the lead, Drake Mallard, while selecting McQuack as the sidekick. This name would result in a new look (Double-O Duck was to wear a white tuxedo and black domino mask). Other elements of the show, such as Darkwing's habit of coining new catchphrases every time he announced himself, would be invented during production. (As an in-joke, the episode "A Duck by Any Other Name" had Drake suggest "Double-O Duck" as his new secret identity and Launchpad remarked that it "seems kinda silly".)
Where most prior Disney Afternoon series included at least some preexisting animated characters, Darkwing Duck featured a completely original cast. Even the DuckTales characters it reused had no counterpart in early Disney shorts or the comics. The only exception was the episode "In Like Blunt", which featured cameo appearances by the Beagle Boys, Flintheart Glomgold and Magica De Spell.
Darkwing Duck first aired on The Disney Channel on March 31, 1991, as a "sneak preview", and then from April 6 into July 14 of that year as a regularly scheduled run on weekend mornings, as it was advertised to be "The newest animated TV series exclusively to The Disney Channel". In reality, this was a preview-run of the series before it aired on The Disney Afternoon.
The two-part episode "Darkly Dawns the Duck" originally aired as an hour-length TV special on September 6, 1991, as part of a larger syndicated TV special, The Darkwing Duck Premiere / Back to School with the Mickey Mouse Club. The film served as the show's pilot. Seasons 1 and 2 were aired simultaneously in the autumn of 1991. Season 1 aired in syndication as part of The Disney Afternoon block of shows. Seasons 2 and 3 aired on Saturday mornings on ABC. The final episode aired on December 12, 1992. All episodes remained in syndicated reruns on The Disney Afternoon until 1995 and then returned to the line-up from 1996 to 1997.
Starting on October 2, 1995, Darkwing Duck was rerun on The Disney Channel as part of a two-hour programming block called "Block Party" which aired on weekdays in the late-afternoon/early-evening and which also included TaleSpin, DuckTales, and Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers. On September 3, 1996, Darkwing Duck was dropped from the beginning of the block when Goof Troop was added to the end.
The series was last seen in the U.S. on Toon Disney on January 19, 2007 as part of the Toon Disney Wild Card Stack. Certain episodes from the show's original run rarely re-aired while the show was on Toon Disney. These episodes appear to have been removed for content reasons. The most prominent of the rarely seen episodes is "Hot Spells", which was never re-aired after its initial broadcast on ABC because of its religiously sensitive subject matter.
Home media 
Four VHS cassettes, each containing one or two episodes (a total of 6 episodes) of Darkwing Duck, were released under the title Darkwing Duck: His Favorite Adventures in the United States on March 23, 1993, individually titled "Darkly Dawns the Duck", "Justice Ducks Unite!", "Comic Book Capers" and "Birth of Negaduck!". However, most countries around the world only received releases of "Darkly Dawns the Duck" and "Justice Ducks Unite!" Each video came with two "glow-in-the-Darkwing" trading cards. Featured on the cards were Darkwing Duck, Launchpad, Gosalyn, Honker, Negaduck, Bushroot, Megavolt, and Taurus Bulba. The videotapes also included a Darkwing Duck music video which played at the end of each tape.
|VHS name||Episode titles||Release date||Stock number|
|Darkly Dawns the Duck||"Darkly Dawns the Duck" (uncut version)||March 23, 1993||1494|
|Justice Ducks Unite!||"Just Us Justice Ducks" (Parts 1 & 2)||March 23, 1993||1600|
|Comic Book Capers||"Comic Book Capers" & "A Brush with Oblivion"||March 23, 1993||1601|
|Birth of Negaduck!||"Negaduck" & "Tiff of the Titans"||March 23, 1993||1602|
Additionally, on September 28, 1993, the Darkwing Duck episode "It's a Wonderful Leaf" was released together with the Goof Troop episode "Have Yourself a Goofy Little Christmas" on one VHS cassette as a special release called Happy Holidays with Darkwing Duck and Goofy! On September 3, 1996, the Darkwing Duck episode "Ghoul of My Dreams" was released together with the Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers episode "Good Times, Bat Times" on one VHS cassette as a special release called Witcheroo!
UK, Australia and New Zealand releases
Seven VHS cassettes containing 12 episodes of the series were released in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
|VHS Name||Episode Titles||Release Date|
|Darkwing Duck (Volume 1): Darkly Dawns the Duck||"Darkly Dawns the Duck" (Parts 1 & 2)||November 26, 1993|
|Darkwing Duck (Volume 2): Justice Ducks Unite!||"Just Us Justice Ducks" (Parts 1 & 2)||November 26, 1993|
|Darkwing Duck (Volume 3): Comic Book Capers||"Comic Book Capers" & "A Brush with Oblivion"||April 1, 1994|
|Darkwing Duck (Volume 4): Birth of Negaduck!||"Negaduck" & "Tiff of the Titans"||April 1, 1994|
|Darkwing Duck (Volume 5): That Sinking Feeling||"That Sinking Feeling" & "Water Way to Go"||April 1, 1994|
|Darkwing Duck (Volume 6): The Incredible Shrinking Darkwing Duck||"Getting Antsy" & "Apes of Wrath"||April 1, 1994|
|Darkwing Duck (Volume 7): Cosmic Crusader||"When Aliens Collide" & "Disguise the Limit"||April 1, 1994|
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released a three-disc DVD box set entitled "Darkwing Duck - Volume 1" on August 29, 2006. It included 25 episodes, plus the two-part pilot "Darkly Dawns the Duck", as opposed to the uncut version's release on VHS. The second volume, containing the next 27 episodes, was released on August 7, 2007. The sets do not contain any special features. It is currently unknown if Disney has any intentions of releasing the remaining 37 episodes on DVD. No official releases have been made outside of the United States and Canada.
|Darkwing Duck - Volume 1||27||August 26, 2006|
|Darkwing Duck - Volume 2||27||August 7, 2007|
Video on demand
As of September 2019, the majority of the series is available for purchase on the iTunes Store and Google TV, with the lone exception of the banned episode "Hot Spells". They are listed in 6 separate volumes (with Seasons 2 and 3 individually representing the last two volumes), which on the iTunes Store can be also be bought in a pack other than individual purchases or a complete series pack at the price of $40 for all 90 available episodes.
The entire series (including the episode "Hot Spells") is currently available for purchase on Amazon Prime Video in Germany. The first season (comprising the show's first two seasons) is available in six volumes while the second season (comprising the third season) is available in one volume.
Darkwing Duck was named the 93rd Best Animated Series by IGN, calling it "one of the many reasons why after-school cartoons rule". "Torgo's Pizzeria Podcast" gave a favorable retrospective review to Darkwing Duck in April 2012; the podcast did however note some weaknesses with the series. TVLine lists the theme song from the series among the best animated series themes of all time.
Awards and nominations
|Year||Award||Category||Recipients and nominees||Result||Ref.|
|1992||Annie Awards||Best Animated Television Program||Disney Television Animation||Nominated|||
|Voice Acting in the Field of Animation||Jim Cummings
|Daytime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Animated Programming||Tad Stones
James T. Walker
|Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program||Steve Roberts
|Outstanding Film Sound Mixing||Allen L. Stone
Robert L. Harman
James L. Aicholtz
|1993||Outstanding Animated Programming||Tad Stones
In other media
- Darkwing Duck video game was released by Capcom on the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Game Boy as a platform side-scroller. The game was developed for the NES in 1992 and was ported to the Game Boy in 1993. The Game Boy version is essentially a slightly stripped-down version of the game.
- Darkwing Duck (a different game with the same title) was also released for the TurboGrafx-16 in 1992 as an action side-scroller.
- A Disney's Darkwing Duck hand-held LCD game from Tiger Electronics was also released in 1992.
- Darkwing Duck (yet another game with the same title) was released for various touchscreen mobile phones as a platform side-scroller in 2010.
- Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition) has two power discs that were released for the game, "Darkwing Duck's Grappling Gun" and "Darkwing Duck's Ratcatcher". Darkwing Duck himself is a townsperson in the 2.0 Toy Box. Darkwing Duck was close to being a playable character in 2.0 but was eventually scrapped.
- Disney Infinity 3.0 had Darkwing Duck close to being a playable character but lost to Olaf in the fan polls for the initial wave of Disney characters for 3.0. However, Darkwing was one of the characters listed on the official fan poll for Disney Infinity that was conducted during the 3.0 life cycle to determine new characters for future installments. Despite being one of the most desired characters, the character will not make it in the game due to the game's cancellation. A Launchpad McQuack townsperson was added in 3.0.
- Darkwing Duck was added to Disney Emoji Blitz in 2017 with Scrooge and Launchpad.
- Darkwing Duck was added to Disney Heroes: Battle Mode in January 2019 as a 2-star hero and the first character from Disney Television Animation. Megavolt was added to the game in November 2019 as a 2-star hero.
Disney Comics published a four-issue Darkwing Duck comic book mini-series in late 1991, right around the time of the show's syndicated premiere. This mini-series was an adaptation of a draft of the script for "Darkly Dawns the Duck". Like the TaleSpin comic before it, it was meant to spin off a regular comic series, but the Disney Comics implosion happening at the time prevented that plan. However, Darkwing Duck stories were regularly printed in Disney Adventures magazine between the November 1991 and January 1996 issues. Additionally, Darkwing Duck stories were also regularly featured in Marvel Comics' short-lived Disney Afternoon comic book.
On March 13, 2010, BOOM! Studios announced that they would be releasing a four-issue Darkwing Duck miniseries, titled "The Duck Knight Returns", starting in June of that year. The series was written by Aaron Sparrow (uncredited), Ian Brill and drawn by James Silvani, and was set one year after the end of the show. BOOM! later announced that due to positive fan reaction, the comic series would be extended indefinitely as an ongoing title. This first trade paperback collection of the initial four issues of the comic was released in the fall of 2010
Unlike the original show, the comic strengthened Darkwing Duck's ties to the parent show DuckTales and began to use a number of Carl Barks characters like Magica De Spell (allied to Negaduck in the second story) and cameoing Scrooge McDuck and Gyro Gearloose. A 4-part crossover story with Disney's DuckTales, titled "Dangerous Currency", was released with parts 1 and 3 for DuckTales #5 and #6, and parts 2 and 4 for Darkwing Duck #17 and #18. The comic also made a lot of homages to other Disney shows: Magica's powered up form in #7 has emblems that reference film villains like Hades and Jafar, someone holds a sign saying "Bring Back Bonkers" in the background of #6, and #3 shows Launchpad tried to get a job with Gadget Hackwrench of the Rescue Rangers from Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers.
The eighteenth issue, which shipped in October 2011, was the end of the series due to BOOM! Studios prematurely losing the Disney Comics license. Darkwing Duck Vol. 5 "Dangerous Currency" crossover, released in November 2011, was the final printing.
On January 20, 2016, it was reported that the series would be returning to the comic book format. Writers Aaron Sparrow and artist James Silvani, both of whom worked on the previous Darkwing Duck comic book that was published by Boom! returned to this comic. Additionally Andrew Dalhouse, Deron Bennett and Jesse Post assumed their roles on the creative team, with R. Janice Orlando, who worked on The Definitively Dangerous Edition, returning as Assistant Editor. Darkwing Duck is now wearing a purple necktie instead of his usual turtleneck.
The first issue debuted on April 27, 2016. Titled "Orange is the New Purple". The comic was cancelled after eight issues due to poor sales.
On July 25, 2018, it was announced that the Boom! Studios would be reprinted in Disney's Afternoon Giant. The first issue will be released in October 2018.
Throughout the run of BOOM! Studios' Darkwing Duck comic series, there was controversy as to who was responsible for the series. Editor Aaron Sparrow is largely credited with the idea to relaunch the property and has claimed to have plotted the first arc and come up with many of the concepts for following story arcs. This has been publicly disputed by Boom and credited series writer Ian Brill. However, artist James Silvani has publicly credited Sparrow not only with the idea of bringing the series back, but assisting him in ghost-writing much of the series and changing a lot of the concepts Brill brought to the series following Sparrow's departure from BOOM! Studios. This seems to be further corroborated by the fact that Sparrow and Silvani have both stated they did not write any of the final arc of the series, "Dangerous Currency", which was largely panned by fans for having many glaring character inconsistencies, particularly in the case of the character Gizmoduck.
Darkwing Duck creator Tad Stones has also publicly credited Sparrow as bringing the character back in a 2010 BOOM Kids! "Get A Sketch" panel at Comic-Con International. Sparrow continues to make public appearances with Silvani and Stones, and Brill does not. In a 2011 livestream interview Tad Stones admitted he was unhappy with later issues of the series, and particularly criticized the election arc, which he "tried to talk them out of". When questioned on whether he had read the entire comic series he stated: "Not the later stuff. I applaud what James tried to do. I hear he saved them but I thought the central premises were wrong."
Sparrow served as moderator at the 2013 Comic-Con panel "25 Years of the Disney Afternoon: The Continuing Legacy", which featured Tad Stones, voice actors Jim Cummings and Rob Paulsen, TaleSpin creator Jymn Magon, and Darkwing Duck comic artist James Silvani, associations which would seem to further corroborate his version of events.
In 2013, Disney European publisher Egmont Group released a compendium of several of the BOOM! Studios Darkwing Duck stories, including "The Duck Knight Returns", "Crisis On Infinite Darkwings", and "F.O.W.L. Disposition". Aaron Sparrow's story credits were not only restored, but he and Silvani created an all-new 3-page introduction, and Brill's dialogue was replaced with original dialogue by Sparrow.
On October 22, 2014, comic news website Bleeding Cool announced that the first 16 issues of Darkwing Duck would be packaged together and published in an omnibus by Joe Books. On his Tumblr account, Silvani stated that the omnibus would be a remastered edition, featuring revised art, a new epilogue, and that the script had been "painstakingly rewritten" by Sparrow. It was also announced that the omnibus would lead into a new monthly series written by Sparrow and drawn by Silvani, with no involvement by Brill. The omnibus only collects the first 16 issues and the annual, omitting the final "Dangerous Currency" crossover with DuckTales, seeming to further call into question Brill's claims of sole authorship.
On January 18, 2016, Joe Books Twitter feed reported that Darkwing Duck would be returning to monthly comics beginning in April 2016 with Sparrow and Silvani at the helm.
According to Silvani's Twitter account, "Dangerous Currency" has been declared non-canon by Disney, and will not be referenced within the new series.
- In 1991, Mickey's Magical TV World as part of Walt Disney World, Darkwing Duck was featured.
- From 1991 to 1997, Darkwing Duck appeared in the Disney on Ice, Double Feature... Live!.
- In 2013, Darkwing appeared at Disneyland Paris in the Disney Dreamers Everywhere Event.
- In September 2014, Darkwing appeared in Disney's California Adventure for meet and greets.
- In 2018, Darkwing attended the Disney FanDaze event at Walt Disney Studios Park Paris.
Cameos on other television series
- Goof Troop (1992–1993): Quackerjack makes a cameo on Max's watch in the episode "Axed by Addition". In some episodes, Darkwing Duck makes a cameo on the comics and on TV.
- Raw Toonage (1992): Gosalyn made a guest appearance.
- Bonkers (1993–1994): In a dream sequence, Bonkers accepts an award for best cartoon crime-fighter from Darkwing, who is jealous he did not win it himself. Darkwing later makes three more cameos in three other Bonkers episodes.
- Aladdin (1994–1995): In the episode "My Fair Aladdin", the Genie transformed into Darkwing Duck.
- Quack Pack (1996):
- Robot Chicken (2011): In the episode "Kramer vs. Showgirls", a "Where Are They Now" segment revolves around cartoon characters from the 1990s, including Darkwing Duck. Launchpad was killed in a mishap with US Airways Flight 1549 and when Gosalyn needed a kidney transplant, Darkwing donated his body to a Chinese restaurant where he was cooked alive.
- Funny or Die had an April Fool's sketch in 2013 where lead voice actor Jim Cummings tried to crowdfund a Darkwing Duck animated film created all by himself.
In the DuckTales reboot, Darkwing Duck plays a major recurring role. At first, it appeared as an old television show which Launchpad McQuack is a fan of. The show itself first appears in the episode "Beware the B.U.D.D.Y. System!", which depicts Darkwing fighting Quackerjack, the Liquidator, and Megavolt. While watching the episode, Launchpad states that the actor portraying Darkwing is "an old school actor who did all his own stunts" named Jim Starling – a spoof of his voice actor, Jim Cummings; who reprises his role as the character alongside Michael Bell as Quackerjack. Other references include St. Canard's name being stated in the premiere episode and the name of the evil organization F.O.W.L. appearing as Easter eggs. Additionally, both F.O.W.L. and S.H.U.S.H. appeared in "From the Confidential Case Files of Agent 22!" The end-credits theme of Darkwing Duck appears in "The Last Crash of the Sunchaser!" as part of the show-within-a-show. In "Friendship Hates Magic", Launchpad and Mrs. Beakley watch a Darkwing Duck episode based on an actual episode, "The Haunting of Mr. Banana Brain", featuring Paddywhack.
Darkwing's first major role is in "The Duck Knight Returns", with Drake Mallard (Chris Diamantopoulos) replacing Jim Starling as Darkwing in a movie produced by Scrooge McDuck. After an insane Starling's attempt to kill Mallard results in the set's explosion and the former's presumed death, the movie is canceled. However, Launchpad convinces Drake to become a real superhero, while Starling, having secretly survived the explosion, becomes Negaduck. Drake later reappears in "Moonvasion!" to help thwart the Moonlanders, and at the end of the episode, F.O.W.L. plots to eliminate Scrooge and his family following the trouble they essentially caused; with Steelbeak among their ranks. Darkwing features prominently in the two-part episode "Let's Get Dangerous!", which introduces new incarnations of Gosalyn (Stephanie Beatriz) and Taurus Bulba (James Monroe Iglehart). In the series finale "The Last Adventure!" Drake and Gosalyn attend Webby Vanderquack's birthday party before assisting the Duck family against F.O.W.L.
On April 2, 2015, a rumor surfaced that Disney would be rebooting the series for a 2018 premiere on Disney XD. The report was debunked as an April Fools prank. Instead, Darkwing Duck returned as a comic book published by Joe Books, which was released on April 27, 2016.
A Darkwing Duck reboot is in development for Disney+. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg will executive produce the project via Point Grey Pictures. Whether or not this will be connected to the aforementioned DuckTales reboot is yet to be confirmed.
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