ⓘ Gargoyles (TV series)

Gargoyles (TV series)

ⓘ Gargoyles (TV series)

Gargoyles is an American animated television series produced by Walt Disney Television and distributed by Buena Vista Television, and originally aired from October 24, 1994, to February 15, 1997. The series features a species of nocturnal creatures known as gargoyles that turn to stone during the day. After spending a thousand years in an enchanted petrified state, the gargoyles are reawakened in modern-day New York City, and take on roles as the citys secret night-time protectors.

Gargoyles was noted for its relatively dark tone, complex story arcs, and melodrama; character arcs were heavily employed throughout the series, as were Shakespearean themes. The series also received favorable comparisons to Batman: The Animated Series. A video game adaptation and a spin-off comic series were released in 1995. The shows storyline continued from 2006 to 2009 in a comic book series of the same title, produced by Slave Labor Graphics.


1. Premise

One thousand years ago, superstition and the sword ruled. It was a time of darkness. It was a world of fear. It was the age of gargoyles. Stone by day, warriors by night, We were betrayed by the humans we had sworn to protect, frozen in stone by a magic spell for a thousand years. Now, here in Manhattan, the spell is broken, and we live again! We are defenders of the night! We are Gargoyles!

The series features a species of nocturnal creatures known as gargoyles that turn to stone during the day, focusing on a clan led by Goliath. In the year 994, the clan lives in a castle in Scotland. Most are betrayed and killed by humans and the remainder are magically cursed to sleep - i.e., be frozen in stone form - until the castle "rises above the clouds." A thousand years later, in 1994, billionaire David Xanatos purchases the gargoyles castle and has it reconstructed atop his New York skyscraper, the Eyrie Building, thus awakening Goliath and the remainder of his clan. While trying to adjust to their new world, they are aided by a sympathetic female police officer, Elisa Maza, and quickly come into conflict with the plotting Xanatos. In addition to dealing with the gargoyles attempts to adjust to modern New York City, the series also incorporated various supernatural threats to their safety and to the world at large.


2. Episodes

A total of 78 half-hour episodes were produced.

The first two seasons aired in the Disney Afternoon programming block. The first season consisted of 13 episodes, including a five-part opening story. This seasons episodes were almost entirely written by Michael Reaves and Brynne Chandler Reaves. The second season featured 52 episodes, and a long mid-season story arc dubbed by fans as "The Gargoyles World Tour" in which the main characters travel the world, encountering other Gargoyles and confronting various mystical and science-fictional dangers. The writing staff was greatly expanded for season two.

The third and final season aired during Saturday mornings on ABC as Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles. Behind the scenes, the animation producers and writers had almost completely changed from seasons one and two, while on-screen, the Gargoyles relationship to the world changed considerably.


3. Voice cast

The voice cast featured several actors who are alumni of the Star Trek franchise, including Marina Sirtis and Jonathan Frakes respectively, Deanna Troi and William Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation, who were featured regularly as principal cast members. Other Star Trek actors had recurring roles on Gargoyles, including Michael Dorn Worf on TNG and DS9, Kate Mulgrew Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager, Nichelle Nichols Uhura on Star Trek: The Original Series, and Brent Spiner Data on TNG; while Avery Brooks Benjamin Sisko on DS9, Colm Meaney Miles O’Brien on TNG and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and LeVar Burton Geordi La Forge on TNG made guest appearances.


4. Development

The series bears no creator credit, though there were several people who are responsible for the shows format. Michael Reaves, who wrote the first six episodes and was the primary writer/story editor of the shows first two seasons has described himself in respect to Gargoyles as "in on the ground floor creating something iconic". Greg Weisman also describes himself as one of the creators of Gargoyles. Weisman, a former English teacher, was working as a Disney executive when early versions of Gargoyles were pitched by himself and others as a fast-paced light comedy. The show was eventually developed by the writing staff into something much more complex and dark.

The series first season was almost entirely written by the husband-and-wife team of Michael Reaves and Brynne Chandler Reaves, who wrote 12 of the 13 episodes; the remaining episode was written by Steve Perry. Weisman officially joined the series as a co-producer with episode 6 though he also oversaw earlier episodes in his capacity as a Disney executive, and did not have any writing credits on the show until the third season.

The second season consisted of 52 episodes, and featured a much larger writing staff, including Reaves, Chandler Reaves and Perry, as well as newcomers Lydia Marano, Cary Bates, Gary Sperling, Adam Gilad, Diane Duane and Peter Morwood, amongst others. For this season, story editing duties were handled on a rotating basis by Reaves, Chandler Reaves, Bates and Sperling. For the third season consisting of 13 episodes, most of the writing staff was new to the show, although returning writers included Marano, Gilad and Bates. Weisman wrote the third season debut, his only writing credit on the series.

Many Shakespearean characters and stories found their way into the shows storylines, particularly those from Macbeth and A Midsummer Nights Dream. The series was also influenced by medieval Scottish history, as well as television shows ranging from Disneys Adventures of the Gummi Bears to Hill Street Blues. The latter in particular inspired the ensemble format of the series and the 30-second "Previously, on Gargoyles." recap found at the beginning of later episodes. The former was an influence on the original comedy development of the show, which was subsequently made darker and more serious by first season writers Reaves, Chandler Reaves and Perry.

New York artist Joe Tomasini brought a suit against Disney, claiming that his copyrighted screenplay and character designs had been copied during the development and production of Gargoyles. The case was ultimately thrown out, after it was proven that Disney did not have access to Tomasinis creations.


5. Reception

IGN ranked Gargoyles 45th place on its 2009 list of top 100 animated series, stating: "A decent success at the time, Gargoyles has maintained a strong cult following since it ended more than a decade ago". featured it on their 2010 list of six cartoons that should be movies. included it on their 2011 top list of legendary medieval and fantasy TV shows. Doug Walker, also known as the Nostalgia Critic, praised the show: "But in secret, I would be watching every one of them, because it was just that good. I don’t know if it really changed anything in terms of kids shows like Batman or Animaniacs, but it was certainly a welcome detour from what Disney usually did. It really stood on its own and created some really wonderful and really unique stories. Gargoyles is a blast from the past that is sure to live on in the future." Less favorable assessments of the series came from animation producer Bruce Timm, who dismissed Gargoyles as "kind of namby-pamby. with all that Celtic fantasy crap" in a 1999 interview and the animation blog Cartoon Brew, which cited the series as an example of the sort of "juvenile mediocrities" that are beloved by the nerd community.


6.1. Comics Disney

Gargoyles comics were published in the magazine Disney Adventures, 11 stories in total. A two-part story "Stone Cold" is notable in that it provided a story idea that was later used in the TV series in the episode "The Price". Another story, "The Experts", was intended as tie-in advertising for Disneys The Hunchback of Notre Dame.


6.2. Comics Marvel

In 1995 Marvel Comics issued a Gargoyles comic book series which ran for 11 issues. A 12th issue, to be entitled "The Day the Sun Kissed the Earth!!" was announced at the end of Issue 11, but never published. The books did not directly follow the continuity of the series, but they did reference specific events that took place within it. The Marvel series dealt largely with Xanatoss experiments to create creatures and machines to defeat the Gargoyles. Greg Weisman was consulted on some plot points to be sure it stayed within certain boundaries, but did not have any direct involvement in the story development of the comic series.

Weisman was eventually hired to write for the comic, but Marvel cut the deal with Disney before his run could be produced. Weisman still had his unpublished script for the comic, and would eventually use it as issue #6 of the Gargoyles: Clan-Building SLG comic series. The characters Beth Maza who appeared in a photo in "Deadly Force" and Petros Xanatos appeared in the comics before their full debut on the show.


6.3. Comics Slave Labor Graphics

On June 21, 2006, Slave Labor Graphics, in association with CreatureComics, began producing a new Gargoyles comic written by Greg Weisman. Weisman wrote the comic book series as a direct sequel to the first and second seasons, ignoring the third season and telling his preferred story in its place. The comic continued the storyline of the animated series, picking up after the second-season finale, "Hunters Moon, Part III". The first two issues adapted the first episode of The Goliath Chronicles "The Journey", the only episode of the series Weisman wrote.

In August 2008, Greg Weisman announced that, due to Disney increasing its licensing fees, Slave Labor Graphics would not be renewing its license of Gargoyles after it ran out on August 31, 2008. The final two issues of Bad Guys and four of Gargoyles were released in the comic trades collecting both series in August 2009. Weisman also stated that SLG president Dan Vado had not given up on the Gargoyles franchise and hoped to pursue the idea of Gargoyles graphic novels in the future.


6.4. Comics Joe Books

On December 24, 2015, Aaron Sparrow revealed that Gargoyles was to be adapted into a cinestory comics series published by Joe Books Inc. Originally, the first volume was intended to be released on March 30, 2016, adapting the five-part "Awakening" episodes from the first season, and second volume would have adapted the next four episodes following the pilot. However, on September 29, 2017, Joe Books Inc. confirmed that the cinestory has been cancelled.


7. Merchandise

Various merchandise released for the series included a series of 22 five-inch action figures along with two vehicles and a castle playset was released by Kenner in 1995. A collectible card game, Gargoyles Stone Warriors Battle Card Game, was published by Parker Brothers in 1994. Other licensed merchandise included numerous other toys and figures, collectible trading card and sticker series, and a wide range of clothing items, books, art supplies, kitchen and bathroom items and supplies, clocks and watches, etc. A world based on the television series was initially considered for Kingdom Hearts, but the idea was scrapped.


7.1. Merchandise Video game

  • The series video game adaptation was released by Buena Vista Interactive in 1995, exclusively for the Sega Genesis and in the United States only. The game was a side-scrolling platform action game. Its plot was considered non-canon and involved the Eye of Odin attempting to destroy the world.
  • The Handheld LCD game, titled Gargoyles – Night Flight, was released by Tiger Electronics in 1995 in China.

8. Home media

VHS and Laserdisc

The five-episode pilot "Awakening", edited into a single movie under the title Gargoyles the Movie: The Heroes Awaken, was released on VHS and Laserdisc on January 31, 1995, by Buena Vista Home Video. The following VHS tapes were later released containing the remaining first-season episodes:

Episodes 6–13 were left unaltered, except for the removal of the "Previously on Gargoyles." segment from "Enter Macbeth".

DVD releases

In 2004, the 10th anniversary of its premiere, Walt Disney Home Entertainment released Season 1 of Gargoyles on DVD in Region 1. The first half of the second season was released in December 2005.

On June 25, 2013, Volume Two of Season Two was released.


On October 14, 2019, it was confirmed that all 3 seasons of Gargoyles will be available for streaming on the Disney+ streaming service.


9.1. Cultural impact Fan community

A loyal fanbase for the TV show developed after its cancellation.

In 1997, Weisman began answering fan questions about the series in an online forum at Ask Greg, revealing, among other things, productions details about the series, in-universe details about the characters, and his plans for the property if it had not been cancelled or if he was able to revive it in the future. Among other revelations, Weisman has detailed spinoffs for the series that reached various stages of development, including Bad Guys for which a leica reel and comics were produced, Gargoyles 2198, Timedancer, Pendragon, Dark Ages and The New Olympians.


9.2. Cultural impact Conventions

The Gathering of the Gargoyles was an annual fan convention which began in 1997 and ended in 2009. The Gathering featured several regular guests close to the Gargoyles franchise including Greg Weisman and voice actors Keith David and Thom Adcox. The Gathering has featured several recurring special events such as a radio play where attendees audition and take speaking roles, a masquerade ball where attendees dress up as their favorite character, an art show where the many artists within the fandom can display or sell their artwork. Weisman has in the past shown the leica reel of Bad Guys at Gatherings. Footage and interviews from the 2004 Gathering appears as an extra feature on the Season 1 DVD of the show.

CONvergence 2014 featured a Gargoyles related theme with many guests from the series including Greg Weisman, Thom Adcox, Marina Sirtis, C. Robert Cargill, Scott Lynch, Amy Berg, and Emma Bull. It is a four-day convention held in Bloomington, Minnesota over the Fourth of July weekend. It was done to celebrate the series 20th anniversary.


9.3. Cultural impact References in other works

  • Greg Weisman wrote a story for DC Comics JLA Showcase 80-Page #1, published in February 2000. Weismans story was set during the time of the Justice League Europe and titled "Flashback of Notre Dame". The story has Captain Atom, the JLE and Plastique meeting a group of gargoyles at the cathedral Notre Dame de Paris. After an misunderstanding battle, the JLE help the gargoyles return to their home island, Brigadoon. This version of the clan are more batlike than the characters they parodied and have names based from Paris: Behemoth Goliath, Diabolique Demona, Seine Hudson, Angelique Angela, Montparnasse Broadway, Montmartre Brooklyn, Champs-Elysees Lexington, Left Bank Bronx, Thomeheb Thailog, Cyrano Othello/Coldstone, Christian Iago/Coldsteel and Roxanne Desdemona/Coldfire.
  • As a nod to members of the voice cast who worked on both series, the 2001 Pioneer LDC English dub of the anime 3×3 Eyes contains Gargoyles homage scenes. These include a homeless man humming the Gargoyles theme and a character who wonders "What could make claw marks in solid stone?" Shared actors included Bako, Fagerbakke, Adcox-Hernandez, Keith David and Ed Asner.

10. Broadcast history

The series originally aired in the US in Syndication from 1994 to 1996 with the third season being shown on ABC from 1996 to 1997.

The first two seasons of Gargoyles aired in the Republic of Ireland on RTE Two on weekday afternoons from January 6 to April 1997.


11. Film adaptation

In July 2011, David Elliot and Paul Lovett of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra were hired to pen a film adaptation of Gargoyles. In June 2018, Jordan Peele pitched his own film version to Disney.

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