|Phineas and Ferb character|
|First appearance||"Rollercoaster" (2007)|
|Last appearance||"O.W.C.A Files" (2015)|
Jeff "Swampy" Marsh
David Errigo, Jr. (Milo Murphy's Law)
Danny Jacob (singing voice)
Ferbs "Ferb" Fletcher is a British character on the animated television series Phineas and Ferb. The character, voiced by British actor Thomas Sangster, was created by Phineas and Ferb co-founders Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh and first appeared in the show's pilot episode, "Rollercoaster."
Ferb and his step-brother Phineas Flynn spend their days during summer vacation from school striving to have fun. They are featured in the majority of episodes as the A-Plot constructing large scale inventions or taking part in other outlandish activities. Ferb, an engineering genius, allows Phineas to do most of the talking for the pair and is "more of a man of action." When Ferb does speak, it is almost always a single sentence. In a conversation in the future time of "Phineas and Ferb's Quantum Boogaloo", it is revealed that he was at Camp David (hinting that he might be the current President of the United States, although his British background would presumably rule that out).
Ferb was named after a set-builder named Frank Leasure, a construction foreman on several Star Trek properties and a friend of Povenmire and Marsh. His wife Melinda, an artist on The Simpsons and King of the Hill nicknamed him "Ferb". In "Vanessassary Roughness" Ferb explains that his name is short for something, but he didn't get to say it. On Twitter, Povenmire announced that Ferb was actually short for "Ferbs". He cares for Vanessa Doofenshmirtz (daughter of Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz) and saves her in the same episode when she gets tangled up and a lawn mower almost gets her, but he is able to save her with a giant tool which appears to be an exaggerated version of a Swiss Army Knife. In "Summer Belongs To You" Vanessa asks Candace what Ferb is short for; Candace realizes she doesn't know herself what it is short for. In the fourth-season episode "Act Your Age", his teenage self appears to be in a relationship with Vanessa. Ferb's design is based around a rectangle and also shaped like an "F" and is inspired by the style of late animator Tex Avery. As a character, Ferb has been critically well received and appears in several pieces of Phineas and Ferb merchandise, including toys, t-shirts, and video games.
Role in Phineas and Ferb
Ferb comes from a blended family, a premise the creators considered underused in children's programming and which reflected Marsh's own upbringing. Ferb's birth mother is never revealed, but the series shows that both Ferb and his father Lawrence hail from the United Kingdom. Lawrence married Ferb's step-mother Linda after meeting her at a 1990s concert by the (fictitious) band Love Händel. Marsh considers explaining the family background "not important to the kids' lives. They are a great blended family and that's all we need to know." Ferb and his family live in the fictional town of Danville, in a large, suburban neighborhood. Throughout their summer vacation, Ferb and Phineas conceive outrageous schemes to defeat boredom while sitting lazily beneath a tree in their backyard. Phineas mainly conceives each project while Ferb spearheads its construction. Their activities are usually beyond the capability of a typical child and have included toy design (in "Toy to the World"); treasure-hunting (in "The Ballad of Badbeard"); engineering (in "It's About Time!"); and restaurant management (in "Chez Platypus"). Ferb's step-sister, Candace, is always trying to get the two in trouble with their mother for their schemes, but is never able to. Ferb hardly ever speaks but he is shown to talk at random times with a British accent. Ferb had a long speech in the episode " The Lizard Whisperer".
Creation and conception
Ferb was created by Phineas and Ferb co-creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh, who originally met as layout artists on the Fox Network animated series The Simpsons. Phineas and Ferb was inspired by their boyhood memories of summer vacation; Povenmire and Marsh both felt the theme of school in television had fallen to redundancy and wanted to create a series that took place solely in the summertime.
Ferb's name was derived from that of a mutual friend of Povenmire and Marsh named Frank, who "owns more tools than anyone [they] know." Frank was a set-builder who had worked building and designing sets for shows such as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Frank's wife disliked Frank's name and gave him the unusual nickname "Ferb".
Design and voice
|"We knew Thomas Sangster from Love Actually and Nanny McPhee and he was able to express so much. But he did it in a studio in London and never met or saw anybody else working on the show. He'd seen one episode where somebody else was the voice that he had to portray and he just got it."|
|—Jeff "Swampy" Marsh on casting Ferb.|
Ferb was given a simplistic structure so that young audiences would be able to draw him easily. As with the other characters of Phineas and Ferb, Ferb's design is constructed of geometric shapes in homage to animator Tex Avery. Ferb's head is based on a rectangle with a wider top than bottom. A square is used for his nose, and an egg-shaped oval is used for his eyes. The eye furthest from the screen is always drawn larger than the other. Povenmire uses a nine-step process to draw Ferb, starting with his head and ending with touch ups.
Ferb was originally going to be voiced by actor Mitchel Musso. However, when Phineas and Ferb was picked up as a full series, Povenmire and Marsh chose to make Ferb British and cast Thomas Sangster as his voice. However, they enjoyed Musso to a level that they recast him as the voice of the character Jeremy Johnson; although Musso no longer voices a title character, his new role allows him more lines. Sangster himself is a British actor and was among several cast members hired that hailed from England. Marsh himself had lived in the country for seven years and developed a fondness for the culture and people.
Ferb was devised as a character devoid of ill will. Marsh explained, "It was important to us that [Phineas and Ferb] never did anything with any animosity. They never tried to get their sister in trouble or outsmart their mother and get away with it." Instead, he and his brother create things for the sheer enjoyment of it or to help out others ("and for the ladies"); for example, Ferb and Phineas carve Candace's face into Mount Rushmore for her birthday, set up a roller derby for a rematch race with his Grandmother Betty Jo's old rival, create a haunted house for their friend Isabella to cure her hiccups and make a super-computer to find out what to do for their mom after being so kind to them.
Povenmire and Marsh intended for Ferb's drive to create stem primarily from a desire to have fun, and in one episode, "Thaddeus and Thor", Phineas openly confirms this as his and his brother's only goal in their daily schemes – though Ferb adds that they also do it "for the ladies."
In the original pitch to overseas The Walt Disney Company executives, Povenmire and Marsh constructed storyboards and recorded them with dialogue and sound-effects. As a prototype, Ferb did not speak at all. However, after considering comedy's "big duos" including Wallace and Gromit and Jay and Silent Bob, the creators chose to have Ferb speak at least once in most episodes (but in "Summer Belongs To You" he spoke nine times and in "The Lizard Whisperer" gives an entire short speech that lasts about 45 seconds), but to have him remain silent and allow Phineas to speak for him the majority of the time. Although Ferb's taciturnity is generally not commented on in the series, Phineas mentions it while he and his brother were in England on the episode "A Hard Day's Knight": "I'll be the top half since I tend to do more of the talking and you will be on the bottom part because of your long spindely legs". Despite being quiet, Ferb is a polyglot, being able to speak in human, animal, and alien tongues.
Ferb also seems to possess good insight, which is probably the main character trait, other than his silence, distinguishing his character from Phineas. Jean Yoo, an official press member for Disney Channel, notes that when Ferb does speak, "it always shows a greater understanding of the situation than his countenance would indicate." Ferb also seems to prefer singing to talking. He usually says one sentence per episode, such as "Platypuses are the only mammals to lay eggs," "Well, he [Buford] was all up in my face," or "Candace, we [Phineas and Ferb] are just kids." He also has a crush on Vanessa Doofenshmirtz.
Critical reception for the character has been generally positive. Emily Ashby of Common Sense Media describes him as a "go-to engineering guru" and considers him and Phineas to be "partner[s] in crime." Susan Stewart, reviewing the show in the New York Times, notes that Phineas and Ferb "work on a heroic scale and are apparently not limited by the laws of nature." Josh Jackson, editor of Paste magazine, listed Ferb's "dry wit" as the third of five reasons as to why the series is the "Best Kids Show on TV," writing that "Ferb gets about one line per episode, but it's always a doozy."
Ed Stetzer, Richie Stanley, and Jason Hayes, author's the book Lost and Found: The Younger Unchurched and the Churches That Reach Them, wrote that Ferb and Phineas, along with the cast of High School Musical, are examples of creating a "whole new culture" in households. Stetzer, Stanley, and Hayes continued to write that "[O]ur culture has connected with media that shows not only the Cinderella and Prince Charming life we all wish for, but also the life in which we all live with real trials, real joys, and real fears."
"Backyard Beach," a song Danny Jacob performs as Ferb in the episode "Lawn Gnome Beach Party of Terror," became very popular among viewers and was voted as the second best song in the series by viewers in the special 2009 event, "Phineas and Ferb's Musical Cliptastic Countdown". The best, according to viewers, was "Gitchee Gitchee Goo" from "Flop Starz," which Jacob performs in as Ferb. Ferb is also credited as the singer in the music video version of "My Ride from Outer Space" from the episode "The Chronicles of Meap" (actually performed again by Danny Jacob).
In other media
Besides the series Phineas and Ferb, Ferb has been featured in several other pieces of merchandise from the series. To date, he has appeared in all Phineas and Ferb novelizations, published by Disney Press. Ferb appears in the Nintendo DS video game based on the series, simply titled Phineas and Ferb. Dan Povenmire has said that he saw nothing of the game until its release date, on which he was given a copy for free. Phineas and Ferb made a cameo on "The Straight-A Team" episode of MAD when they decided to beat the Straight A-Team. They appear again in the sketch "DolPhineas and Ferb Tale" where they are spoofed alongside the film Dolphin Tale. Their design in MAD was unrealistic to their regular design.
Plush toys of the character, along with toys representing Phineas and Perry, have been manufactured. Ferb also appears on most of the Phineas and Ferb t-shirts. Ferb is set to appear in the forthcoming comic book series based on the series, though details are unconfirmed. Costumed versions of Ferb and Phineas have appeared in Disneyland, for the pre-taping of the annual Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade.
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- Writers: Bobby Gaylor, Martin Olson; Director: Dan Povenmire. "Dude, We're Getting Band Back Together". Phineas and Ferb. Season 1. Episode 14. Disney Channel.
- Writer: Bobby Gaylor, Martin Olson; Director: Zac Moncrief. "Leave the Busting to Us!". Phineas and Ferb. Season 1. Episode 17 (P.2). Disney Channel.
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- Director: Dan Povenmire. "The Ballad of Badbeard". Phineas and Ferb. Season 1. Episode 13 (P.2). Disney Channel.
- Writer and Director: Dan Povenmire. "It's About Time!". Phineas and Ferb. Season 1. Disney Channel.
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- Writers: Kyle Baker, Patrick Ventura; Director: Dan Povenmire. "Candace Loses Her Head". Phineas and Ferb. Season 1. Episode 1 (P.2). Disney Channel.
- Writers: Tim Bjorklund, Kim Roberson. "Crack That Whip!". Phineas and Ferb. Season 1. Episode 18. Disney Channel.
- Writers: Antoine Guilbaud, Chong Lee; Director: Zac Moncrief. "One Good Scare Ought to Do It!". Phineas and Ferb. Season 1. Episode 9. Disney Channel.
- Writers: Antoine Guilbaud, Kim Roberson; Director: Zac Moncrief. "Thaddeus and Thor". Phineas and Ferb. Season 2. Disney XD.
- Writers: Bobby Gaylor, Martin Olson; Director: Dan Povenmire. "A Hard Days Knight". Phineas and Ferb. Season 1. Episode 10. Disney Channel.
- Writers: Dan Povenmire, Jeff "Swampy" Marsh; Directors: Dan Povenmire. "Raging Bully". Phineas and Ferb. Season 1. Disney Channel.
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- Stetzer, Ed; Stanley, Richie; Hayes, Jason (2009). Lost and Found: How Churches Are Connecting to Young Adults. B&H Publishing Group. pp. 182–183. ISBN 0-8054-4878-0.
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- Jones, Jasmine (2009). Speed Demons. Disney Press. ISBN 1-4231-1628-3.
- Bergen, Lara Rice (2009). Runaway Hit. Disney Press. ISBN 1-4231-1797-2.
- Mayer, Helena. Wild Surprise. ISBN 978-1-4231-1798-8.
- Richards, Kittie. Thrill-o-rama. ISBN 978-1-4231-1799-5.
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- Yoo, Jean. ""Phineas and Ferb Christmas Vacation" special to debut on multiple Disney-ABC TV, radio, and online platforms Friday, November 27 through Friday, December 18". Disney XD Medianet. Archived from the original on 2011-07-10. Retrieved 2009-11-22.