The Epic Animals was an American animated comedy series created by IAmBagel for the television network Kingson, debuting on September 4, 1998 and ending on June 24, 2005. The series follows the exploits of a wannabe superhero team known as "The Epic Animals", who cause anarchy and general mayhem in their clueless crusade against crime. The concept for the series originated from a comic strip IAmBagel drew for his college newspaper, and was then encouraged to use the concept for his animation project, where he later pitched it to Kingson. The show is commonly known for its style of humor, which heavily satirizes and parodies various characters, plot lines and elements from the superhero genre, often utilizing meta humor. Receiving favorable reviews and high television ratings, it was viewed as one of Kingson's most successful series. The success of the series lead to the creation of a media franchise that includes video games and other media based on the series. A theatrical film based off the series, titled The Epic Animals Epic Movie, was released on July 3, 2002, which received positive reviews and was a box office success.
In the city of Illinois, Wisconsin, superheroes and superhero teams are plentiful and active, due to the city's large crime rate. Because of this, social status within the city is determined by how accomplished you are in crime-fighting and doing good for the world. Within the competent and courageous teams lies a group of misfits called The Epic Animals, whom, despite their efforts, never actually accomplish their goals, due to their dysfunctional personalities clashing with eachother.
Catnip: The self-proclaimed leader of the trio. Frequently bullied in his youth due to his interest in crime-fighting despite lacking any powers, Catnip formed the superhero team known as The Epic Animals, alongside his childhood friends, Fred and Cotton with the goal of proving his doubters wrong and making a name for himself in the world, while also making the world a better place. He is known for being generally spunky and ambitious, as well as fearless and confident. However, his reckless behavior and lack of smarts prevent him from becoming the great hero he desperately wants to become. Voiced by Keith Ferguson
Fred: A yellow dog, who is the only member of the group who can be seen as sane. Being a childhood friend of Catnip and Cotton, Fred was well aware of Catnip's dream of crime-fighting, but wanted no part in it, and even criticized Catnip for this goal of his. As the years went by, however, he found himself stuck joining Catnip's "superhero" team, The Epic Animals, though he only takes part in their heroic activities to prevent Catnip and Cotton from facing danger or certain death. Stubborn, cynical and cranky, Fred still generally wants to avoid the superhero business and will take any shortcuts into getting out of it. Despite his cynical behavior, he genuinely cares for the rest of the trio, and is willing to drop his act when the time calls for it. Voiced by Crispin Freeman
Cotton: A hyperactive rabbit, the best word to describe Cotton would be "manchild". He acts very much like a stereotypical 6 year-old, despite his age, which also hinders the gang's exploits in combating crime. He is almost always cheerful and hyperactive, and looks up to Catnip as a role model, despite being older than him. Cotton was a childhood friend of Catnip and Fred, and like the other two, was frequently bullied in his youth, due to his impaired intelligence. Like Catnip, he seeks approval and love from the world that constantly ridiculed them, which is why he is ever so eager to assist him in crime fighting, even if they are never accomplishing anything. Unlike the rest of the trio, Cotton actually possesses powers and abilities, though they are very unstable and actually hinders more than they help. Voiced by Laura Bailey
Diane: A human girl who forms a friendship with the trio due to their similar places in social status. She has a very cold and tough exterior, due to constantly being degraded and bullied as a child, but learns to open up more as she spends time with the trio. She is an aspiring filmmaker and frequently records the chaotic happenings within the city as part of her films. Voiced by Grey DeLisle
Squirmer: An intelligent though absent-minded worm who lives underground. He has an extensive database of all the heroes and villains that plague the city, which is the only reason why the trio even interacts with him. He further assists the trio by building various weaponry and technology for them, though they never work as intended. His behavior is overall erratic and odd, with show creator IAmBagel describing him being a "nerd who acts like a serial killer". Voiced by Billy West.
Mr. Narrator: The show's narrator, who is a sarcastic and snarky man clearly going through a mid-life crisis. He is very vocal about his hatred for the show, and will frequently interrupt the plot or scene in order to criticize it. The trio (as well as other characters) are aware of his existence, though they try their best to ignore him. Voiced by Tom Kane
Mayor T: A fictionalized version of Mr. T, who is the mayor of Illinois. Despite his angry and tough exterior, he is utterly terrified of both the heroes and villains that populate the city, and just wants to live in a perfectly normal civilization. He is also generally unsuited to be a mayor, frequently basing his decisions on his past career as an actor. Voiced by Mr. T
Testosterone Man: The most successful and beloved hero in the city, Testosterone Man is hugely egotistical because of his success, and uses his popularity to push other people around and get whatever he wants. His behavior is comparable to that of a college frat boy, even down to his voice. He has been known for frequently changing his backstory and goals, which annoys the trio to a huge extent. Voiced by IAmBagel
Mecha Super Takeshi: A Japanese man who had his entire body converted into a gigantic robot. Despite wanting to live a normal life, the citizens of Illinois constantly nag him into doing heroic deeds for the city. He is shown to be extremely restless and irritated, annoyed by everyone he encounters in the city. Voiced by George Takei
The Patriot: A humanoid government experiment that combines the DNA of every single President of the United States. Created to ease the tension between heroes in the city, The Patriot instead increases the tension with his multiple personalities and behavior towards the other heroes. Voiced by Maurice LaMarche
Innuendo and Risqué: Two female young adults wearing very suggestive clothing. Parodying shallow female fanservice characters, any dialogue between the two consists of sexual innuendo, and their powers are also sex-based. Both are voiced by Cree Summer
El Pene Que Respira: A powerful Mexican luchador wrestler, whose bombastic and loud personality annoys the heroes and other residents of Illinois. Despite being a competent hero, he is only fighting crime as means of getting attention from women. Voiced by Fred Tatasciore
Arch-Nemesis Man: The trio's main adversary, who, like the trio, is a misfit amongst the super villain community. Despite attempting to hype himself as a threatening villain, he is a huge slacker who only commits petty crimes and sits at home. He frequently mooches off the rest of the villains, and will even steal their evil plans in certain cases. Voiced by Dana Snyder
Richard Cranium: A stern businessman who seeks to buy the city and transform it into a large company. He is very delusional and cannot comprehend society and how the world works, and sees everything as some sort of business exploit. Voiced by Tom Kenny
Jimbles the Sumoman: A sumo wrestler who was mocked in his youth for his weight, and seeks vengeance by fattening up everyone in the world.
Angst: A teenage boy wearing all black clothes and a black mask. He is a stereotypically bleak, mopey and agnsty teenager, angry at the world for not being as bleak and hopeless as him.
Mama Fita: Catnip's adoptive single mother, serving as a parody of the "sassy black woman" trope. She is extremely supportive and caring of her son, but is somewhat overprotective and still attempts to cling onto his youth even though he is now an adult. Voiced by Roz Ryan
Freduardo: Fred's successful older brother who resides on a beach house in space. Characterized as an obnoxious and loud playboy, Freduardo constantly annoys and bickers Fred about his successful life, and even tries to get involved with the rest of the team. Voiced by Carlos Alazraqui
Percival Von Don Ron Khan:
One-shot heroes and villains
Dizzle: A living flower who debuts in the episode Four Two Zero. He has complete control of every plant on the planet, and uses his power to convert the entire city of Illinois into a garden and brainwashes its citizens using a mind-bending plant that causes them to hallucinate. He is an oddly calm and relaxed villain, and does not even care all that much when he is eventually defeated. Voiced by Snoop Dogg
Gee, Bill: A time-traveling man who hails from the 1950's who debuts in the episode Weinerless. He believes that society and culture in the 50's is superior to that of any other time and seeks to eradicate modern and foreign culture to bring in a new wave of the 50's. He is overly eccentric and giddy, taking full pleasure in whatever he's doing. He wields a technologically advanced accordion that allows him to time travel. Voiced by Weird Al Yankovic
The Wisconsinite: A spirit who embodies everything there is about the state of Wisconsin: he is obsessed with sports, is an alcoholic, and eats cheese. He seeks to destroy the city of Illinois due to its citizens not following the traditional Wisconsin customs and morals. Voiced by Bob Uecker
The Chromosome Duo:
Production and Development
The concept of the series was first conceived by IAmBagel in 1995. While attending college, he was tasked with creating and drawing a comic strip series for the student newspaper. The comic itself, however, did not focus on the titular trio, nor the superhero concept. While the trio did appear in the comic, they were minor characters and only had a major role in one of the strips. The strip the trio debuted in was surprisingly popular amongst various students, which prompted IAmBagel to use these characters for his animation project. Feeling confident about the project after graduating, he pitched the animation to various networks, including Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, but both were unimpressed with the pitch. He soon struck luck when he pitched it to Kingson in 1996, who later ordered it for a full series.
The musical score for the series is composed by Mark Mothersbaugh, of the rock band Devo. The score overall combines electronic tunes with jazz, which he felt perfectly fit with the series' quirky and zany nature
In early 2000, IAmBagel and the rest of the crew were approached by Kingson and Paramount Pictures executives, discussing the possibility of a theatrical film based on the series. While skeptical about the idea at first, the crew eventually agreed and began collaborating with the two companies on the film. Released on July 3, 2002, the film centers around titular trio being thrusted into an alternate future where an villainous version of Catnip rules over Earth. With their friendship on the verge of a breakdown, the trio attempt to piece together what happened that lead to Catnip's eventual downfall and attempt to rewrite history, while also questioning what it truly means to be a hero. The film received positive reviews and was a box office success, grossing $186,560,273 worldwide on a $30 million budget, and remained the highest-grossing animated film based on an animated television series until 2007 when The Simpsons Movie surpassed it. A sequel to the film was rumored to be in development around 2003, but was then canceled when IAmBagel chose to end the series at it's seventh season.
Three video games based on the series have been released. The first, The Epic Animals: Heroic Hindrance, was released on November 18, 2000. The game is a platforming collect-a-thon reminiscent of Banjo-Kazooie in which players play through levels based on actual episodes of the show. It received generally mixed reviews from critics, with most of the criticism centering around the gameplay format. A second platform game, The Epic Animals Epic Movie Epic Game, was released on July 1, 2002 and is based on the theatrical film. It received much more positive reviews from critics. The third and final game, The Epic Animals: Hero/Villain Tournament, was released on March 31, 2005. It is a fighting game in which players combat various characters from the show.
On January 13, 2017, Kingson officials announced that a collection of 2 to 5 minute shorts featuring characters from the series would begin airing during commercial breaks of current programming starting March 10. Most of the original cast of the series will reprise their roles for the shorts, however, Mayor T is instead voiced by Dave Fennoy. When asked if these shorts would later lead to a revival series, IAmBagel stated "no, but it's not out of the question".