Teen Titans (TV series)
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|Created by||Glen Murakami|
|Developed by||David Slack|
|Theme music composer||Puffy AmiYumi|
|Opening theme||Teen Titans, performed by Puffy AmiYumi|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||65 (+ 1 online) (list of episodes)|
|Running time||21–23 minutes|
|Production company(s)||DC Entertainment
Warner Bros. Animation
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television|
|Original network||Cartoon Network
|Original release||July 19, 2003– September 15, 2006|
|Followed by||Teen Titans Go!|
Teen Titans is an American animated television series created by Glen Murakami, based on the DC Comics characters of the same name. It is based primarily on the run of stories by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez in the early 1980s New Teen Titans comic book series.
Teen Titans premiered on Cartoon Network on July 19, 2003 and also premiered on Kids' WB!. Initially, only four seasons were planned, but the popularity of the series led to Cartoon Network ordering a fifth season. The final episode of the show aired on January 16, 2006, though it was later followed by a film that premiered on September 15, 2006, serving as the series finale.
Teen Titans became one of Cartoon Network's most beloved and critically acclaimed series, renowned for its character development and serious themes. During its run, the series was nominated for three Annie Awards and one Motion Picture Sound Editors Award. Spin-off media included comics, DVD releases, video games, music albums, and collectible toys. Reruns have aired on Cartoon Network's retro animation sister channel Boomerang.
Seven years later, the show spawned a reboot, Teen Titans Go!, which premiered on April 23, 2013.
Teen Titans centers around the five main members of the superhero team: Robin (Scott Menville), the intelligent, capable leader of the Teen Titans; Starfire (Hynden Walch), a quirky, curious alien princess from the planet Tamaran; Cyborg (Khary Payton), a half-human/half-robot who is known for his strength and technological prowess; Raven (Tara Strong), a stoic girl from the parallel world Azarath, who draws upon dark energy and psionic abilities; and Beast Boy (Greg Cipes), a ditzy, good-natured joker who can transform into various animals. They are situated in Titans Tower, a large T-shaped structure featuring living quarters as well as a command center and variety of training facilities, on an island just offshore from the fictional West Coast city of Jump City.
The team deals with all manner of criminal activity and threats to the city, while dealing with their own struggles with adolescence, their mutual friendships, and their limitations. Slade, their main enemy, is a newly designed version of the DC villain Deathstroke. The team encounters several allies throughout the series; including Aqualad in the first season; Terra in the second season (who is integral to that season's story arc), as well as Speedy, Hotspot, and Wildebeest; Bumblebee and Más y Menos in the third season (who join Aqualad, Speedy and bumblebee to form 'Titans East'), and numerous other heroes adapted from the DC universe in the fifth season to aid in the battle against the Brotherhood of Evil.
Unlike most other superhero television series, the Teen Titans characters maintain their superhero identities at all times, with any hints at the concept of an alter ego or secret identity rarely explored. Traditionally, in the comics, the characters Raven, Cyborg, Starfire, Beast Boy, and Terra do not have secret identities (Starfire being a translation of her Tamaranean birth name, Cyborg's real name being public knowledge, Beast Boy's natural appearance being a dead giveaway, and Raven and Terra simply not taking another identity).
In particular, some fans debated which Robin leads the Teen Titans, with several hints throughout the series suggesting it is Dick Grayson. These include Robin's alternate dimensional counterpart Larry in the episode "Fractured" being named Nosyarg Kcid ("Dick Grayson" spelled backwards), Dick Grayson's counterpart in the episode "How Long Is Forever?" having taken on the identity of Nightwing (Grayson's identity in the DC continuity), and a glimpse into Robin's consciousness by Raven in the episode "Haunted" showing the memory of two acrobats falling from a trapeze (the death of Grayson's acrobat parents being the catalyst for him becoming Robin). Further connections to the Batman mythos include two references in the episode "The Apprentice, Pt. II", when Robin responds to a suggestion by the villain Slade that he "might be like a father to [him]" with "I already have a father" (which transitions to a shot of flying bats) and a fight scene on the rooftop of a building labeled Wayne Enterprises.
It was really important to me that little kids watching it could identify with characters. And I thought that the minute you start giving them secret identities then kids couldn't project themselves onto the characters anymore. And that was important to me. I know it's kind of important to have secret identities and stuff like that but we wanted everything to be really, really, iconic. Like, "Oh, there's the robot guy. There's the alien girl. There's the witch girl. There's the shape-changing boy." There's the we [sic] just wanted it really clean like that. We wanted it like old Star Trek. We just wanted it simple...
...And the whole "Who's Robin?" controversy is really kind of interesting to me. My big concern is just trying to make Robin cool. And just really set Robin apart from Batman. So if it seems like I'm avoiding the question, I sort of am. Because I don't think it's really important. My concern is how do I make Robin a really strong lead character without all that other stuff. And I feel that way about all the characters. How can I keep all the characters really iconic and really clean.— Glen Murakami, Drawing Inspiration: An Interview with Glen Murakami, April 2004
The policy of not mentioning the characters' secret identities is broken in the fifth season, where the Doom Patrol members refer to Beast Boy by his real name, Garfield (though the Titans still continue to call him Beast Boy). In "Go", the Titans ask Beast Boy about his mask and he states it hides his true identity, though Raven points out that with green skin, pointed ears, and fangs, he "has no secret to hide".
Each season contains a distinct story arc that is centric to a specific Titan on the team. Starfire is the only team member who never received her own individual season, though many standalone episodes throughout the series focused on her. Terra is also the only member who was not part of the original roster to have a season focus on her.
|Episodes||Originally aired||DVD release dates|
|1||Robin||13||2003||February 7, 2006|
|2||Terra||13||2004||September 12, 2006|
|3||Cyborg||13||2004||April 10, 2007|
|4||Raven||13||2005||November 20, 2007|
|5||Beast Boy||13||2005 – 2006||July 22, 2008|
|Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo||2006||February 6, 2007|
In mid-November 2005, TitansTower.com reported that prospects for a sixth season were looking extremely unlikely, and fans were urged to express their support for the show to Cartoon Network. Several days after this initial posting, word came that Cartoon Network had officially terminated the show. According to Wil Wheaton, the actor who provided the voice of Aqualad, the series was terminated by new Warner Bros. Feature Animation executives who made the decision not to renew the series based on its sixth season pitch. Wheaton's story was contradicted by series story editor Rob Hoegee, who stated that the decision came from Cartoon Network, not WB, and that there were never any plans for a sixth season.
After the last episode, Warner Bros. Animation announced a feature film titled Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo. The film premiered at San Diego Comic-Con International and was shown on Cartoon Network first on September 15, 2006, aired on The WB on September 16, 2006, and finally released on DVD on February 6, 2007.
DC Nation shorts and revival
The series was revisited as a series of old shorts in 2012 for the DC Nation programming block on Cartoon Network. Dubbed New Teen Titans, the shorts began airing on September 11, 2012. The shorts featured the Titans in chibi form, with the principal cast members of the original series returning.
Teen Titans Go! was announced as a spin-off but not significantly related in terms of story to both the Teen Titans series, and the New Teen Titans shorts. The series premiered on April 23, 2013. 
Impact on DC continuity
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Teen Titans has never been established to be a part of the larger DC animated universe or The Batman animated series. Series producer Bruce Timm stated the series would not cross over with Justice League Unlimited. The character Speedy, who first appeared in the episode "Winner Take All", later appeared in Justice League Unlimited with the same costume design and voice actor (Mike Erwin) as the Teen Titans incarnation (though he is older in appearance). Kid Flash was voiced by Michael Rosenbaum in his appearances in the show, who was the same actor who voiced the Flash in Justice League Unlimited. The follow-up series, Teen Titans Go!, has featured several appearances by Batman, but they have all been non-speaking appearances. Both Batman and Alfred Pennyworth appear in DC Nation's New Teen Titans "Red X Unmasked." In the season 2 episode "Let's Get Serious", Aqualad (voiced by Khary Payton), Superboy, and Miss Martian of the Young Justice team appear.
Much like X-Men: Evolution and Batman: the Animated Series, the series has affected the comics that initially inspired it, including: Beast Boy adopting the series' purple and black outfit during DC's "52" storyline and later appearing with the pointed ears and fanged teeth originated by the series, future Cyborg having the same armor pattern of his animated counterpart in the Titans Tomorrow storyline, Raven adapting her animated counterpart's costume design in the "One Year Later" storyline, the characters Más Y Menos making appearances in 52 and the Final Crisis limited series, the character Joto was renamed "Hotspot" during 52 to match his cartoon counterpart, and the villain Cinderblock appearing in a fight with the most recent comic incarnation of the Titans.
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Bandai released a line of action figures based on the Teen Titans animated series. The line included 1.5 inch "Comic Book Hero" mini figures, 3.5 inch action figures (including "Teen Titans Launch Tower Playset", "Teen Titans Command Center", "Battling Machines", "T-Vehicles", "T-Sub Deluxe Vehicles"), 5 inch action figures, 6.5 inch plush Super-D Toys, and 10 inch figures. Amongst the characters included in the line were the main members of the Teen Titans, Titans East, and various allies and villains.
Early reception of the series was mixed-to-negative, but has received a much more positive critical reception in later seasons. Early into the series' run, Executive Producer and Cartoon Network V.P. Sam Register responded to criticism regarding the style of the show with a statement slightly contradicting Murakami's statement about wanting Robin to "be cool" with his metal-tipped boots:
Justice League is awesome and Samurai Jack is awesome and we buy a lot of anime shows that are great, but those shows really are directed more towards the nine to fourteen age group, and the six and seven and eight-year-olds were not gelling with the Justice League and some of the more of the fanboy shows...The main mission was making a good superhero show for kids. Now if the fanboys happen to like the Teen Titans also, that's great, but that was not our mission.— Sam Register, CBR News interview, May 8, 2004
However, while the series' creators initially stated that younger children were the intended audience for the series, Teen Titans Go! writer J. Torres notes that the progression and deeper themes of the show widened the appeal to a much broader audience:
... [The show] started out skewed a lot younger... but along the way, I think the producers discovered it was reaching a wider audience. ... [the show] got into some darker story lines, and they introduced a lot more characters, so they expanded on it, and they let the show evolve with the audience.— J. Torres, Titans Companion 2 by Glen Cadigan.
Awards and nominations
- 2005 Annie Awards
- Outstanding Storyboarding in an Animated Television Production (Nominated)
- 2004 Annie Awards
- Outstanding Music in an Animated Television Production (Nominated)
- Outstanding Storyboarding in an Animated Television Production (Nominated)
- 2004 Motion Picture Sound Editors Awards
- Best Sound Editing in Television Animation (Nominated)
- Walko, Bill (April 2004). "Drawing Inspiration: An Interview with Glen Murakami". TitansTower.com. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
- "Teen Titans: The Complete First Season DVD-Video". dvdempire.com. Retrieved April 24, 2007.
- "Teen Titans: The Complete Third Season DVD-Video". dvdempire.com. Retrieved April 24, 2007.
- "Teen Titans: The Complete Fourth Season DVD-Video". dvdempire.com. Retrieved August 17, 2007.
- "Teen Titans: The Complete Fifth Season DVD-Video". dvdempire.com. Retrieved April 2, 2008.
- Teen Titans' Sixth Season Looks Unlikely, Titans Tower Monitor blog post, November 15, 2005
- "Wil Wheaton's Radio Free Burrito Episode 4". Titansgo.net. Archived from the original on August 13, 2006. interview transcript
- "Live Chat with Rob Hoegee [Transcript]". Titansgo.net. Archived from the original on December 9, 2006.
- "Return of the TeenTitans – Teen Titans Video". IGN. February 15, 2012. Retrieved September 21, 2013.
- Goldman, Eric (June 8, 2012). "Teen Titans Returning With New Full Length Episodes". IGN. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
- "Teen Titans Reimagined for Cartoon Network this Spring in 'Teen Titans Go!'" (Press release). DC Comics. March 13, 2013. Retrieved May 26, 2013.
- "Preview image - Teen Titans 76". Newsarama.com. October 2009. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011.
- "Titans East". Comicvine.com. Archived from the original on October 5, 2011.
- Final Crisis #1. DC Comics.
- Teen Titans #38. DC Comics.
- Titans (vol. 2) #17. DC Comics.
- "Teen Titans Merchandise". Titans Tower. Archived from the original on 2012-07-17. Retrieved December 26, 2011.
- "Titans Go! Toys & Games". Action Figure Insider. Retrieved December 26, 2011.[dead link]
- Cadigan, Glen. "J. Torres – Adapting the Animated Antics of the Teen Titans". Titans Companion 2. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 216. ISBN 1-893905-87-X.
- "83, Teen Titans". IGN. January 23, 2009. Retrieved January 24, 2009.
- "Top 10 Best Cartoons That Got Cancelled". WatchMojo.com – via YouTube.
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