Freakazoid! is an American animated television series created by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini and developed by Tom Ruegger for the Kids' WB programming block of The WB. The series chronicles the adventures of the title character, Freakazoid, a manic, insane superhero who battles with an array of super villains. The show also features mini-episodes of adventures of other bizarre superheroes. The show was produced by Amblin Television and Warner Bros. Animation. The cartoon was the third animated series produced by the collaboration of Steven Spielberg and Warner Bros. Animation during the animation renaissance of the 1990s.
Bruce Timm, best known as a major principal of the DC animated universe, originally intended it to be a straightforward superhero action-adventure cartoon with comic overtones, but executive producer Steven Spielberg asked series producer and writer Tom Ruegger and the Animaniacs team to turn Freakazoid! into a flat-out comedy. The show is similar to fellow Ruegger-led programs such as Animaniacs, and the humor is unique in its inclusions of slapstick, fourth wall firings, parody, surreal humor and pop cultural references.
The series was one of the first to debut on the new Kids' WB Saturday morning block of The WB, on September 9, 1995. The series lasted for two seasons, finishing with 24 episodes, the final one broadcast on June 1, 1997. Although the series originally struggled in the ratings, reruns on Cartoon Network and a fan following have elevated the series to become a cult hit. Warner Brothers even flirted with the idea of renewing the series for a third season, but deemed it too expensive. The show also ranked #53 on IGN's Top 100 Animated Series list.
The show's title character is the superhero alter ego of geeky 16-year-old (later changed to 17-year-old) Dexter Douglas who attends Harry Connick High School. His name is a parody of various superheroes' alliterative names (e.g. Bruce Banner, Peter Parker). Dexter gained his abilities from a computer bug activated by a "secret key sequence" that must be typed (a reference to the Pentium FDIV bug). The sequence of keys is "@[=g3,8d]\&fbb=-q]/hk%fg" (the quotes are included), as seen when Roddy MacStew types the combination in "The Chip (Act 2)". The bug manifests when the user presses Delete after entering the string, and was first activated when Dexter's cat crawled onto the keyboard. Becoming absorbed into his computer and instantly gaining all the information on the Internet, Freakazoid has enhanced strength and endurance, extraordinary speed and agility, and negligible amounts of sanity. These changes make him a powerful and fearsome force for upholding freedom and righteousness, unless he gets distracted by something like a bear riding a motorcycle. He has a base called the Freakalair, a parody of the Batcave, built by his mute butler, Ingmar. The Freakalair contains a "Hall of Nifty Things to Know" and even a mad scientist lab. His greatest weakness, as he once explained to Armando Guitierrez, is that he can be imprisoned in a cage with graphite bars charged with negative ions. He also expresses a great aversion to "poo gas"..
Peripheral powers come and go: Freakazoid once developed telekinesis triggered by anger that was never mentioned again after the episode, and once crossed the globe to yell at a Tibetan monk for raking too loudly, but apologizes to him later in the same plot. He also has the ability to assume the form of electricity and cover long distances instantaneously, although he just as often simply sticks his arms forward and runs while making swooshing sounds with his mouth, pretending to fly.
Dexter can change into and out of Freakazoid at will with the words "Freak out!" and "Freak in!". When not in Freakazoid mode, Dexter looks and acts completely normal, and his family is unaware that anything has happened to him. Freakazoid spends this time in an area of Dexter's brain called the Freakazone, where he reflects, has profound thoughts, and watches reruns of The Rat Patrol.
While the show's setting is set around Washington, D.C., the locale often varies with the show's humor, taking Freakazoid to locations around the world as needed.