If Dungeons and Dragons cartoons depicted real RPGs

Here's 13 minutes' worth of the old (rather dreadful) Dungeons and Dragons cartoon, overdubbed with plausibly banal and profane dialog from a group of RPG players whose campaign the cartoon depicts. It's pretty danged funny in places, though 13 minutes is a bit much for the one-note joke.

Dadtucks (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)


  1. That’s pretty well done.

    Man, that cartoon sucks even more than I remember. I remember feeling so conflicted, back in the day, to have my eccentric hobby finally get some notoriety . . . but it had to be through this cheesy bit of drek?

    1.  No way, that was the only redeeming Saturday morning cartoon on during that period. The animation was pretty good for being American-made, way better than Hanna-Barbera shlock like Superfriends. And the writing, though uneven, offered some decent episodes. But even back then I never liked the premise of the paladin only having a shield and no sword, or the acrobat not being able to hit people with her staff. But that was during the “no violence for kids” era. The influx of anime certainly changed that…

      1. Way to blow your nerd-cred.

        Gouchy Smurf here isn’t a Paladin, Eric is a cavalier; a valid character-class from the 1.5th Edition rules, I.E. the Unearthed Arcana sourcebook. Same thing for barbarian and acrobat-thief classes, which ALSO happen to be in the show. Which is ENTIRELY coincidental, and TOTALLY not a form of cross-promotion, as the book came out the same time as the show…

      2.  “The animation was pretty good for being American-made”

        I believe it was animated by Japan’s Toei, though produced through Marvel.  The character designs are vaguely similar to another Japanese animated series of that era, Mighty Orbots.

      1. Indeed: for people born in the ’80s in Brazil, D&D is more than just a good memory of their childhood (along with the Mexican “El Chavo del 8” and “El Chapolin Rojo”). It is absolutely loved down here, I know people who have the entire series taped in VHS (!!!) and some time ago there was a meme around that a Brazilian fan had mixed the final episode (trivia: all these Brazilians know that the final episode was never produced, but its script was leaked in the net about 15 years ago).

    2.  Yes, yes it had to be. Here’s why:

      Point of Departure: In 1982, while in LA to negotiate with CBS over the creation of a Dungeons and Dragons licensed cartoon series, Gary Gygax is invited to the network’s Television City studios during a break between meetings for a private tour. As he steps out of his complimentary limo, a teenaged Sarah Jessica Parker accidentally runs him over with her motor scooter while on the way to audition for the situation comedy that in our universe is known as Square Pegs. By the time Gygax comes out of his coma, a leadership change at CBS has meant the incipient deal has fallen apart.

      Result: Without the role of Venger, Peter Cullen’s voice acting career gradually fizzles out, and he returns to Canadian television before the first Transformers cartoon series goes into production. A slumming Marlon Brando takes the role of Optimus Prime, and his bizarre behavior (such as demanding daily deliveries of fresh flowers and authentic Vienna Sachertorte to the recording studio, and delivering a 40-minute in-character monologue on the purity of the Decepticons’ ruthlessness to a very confused sound engineer) moves Hasbro to abort the series after only thirteen episodes. Without the TV show interest in the toy line dries up, and twenty-five years later Michael Bay wins a Best Director Oscar for Lincoln Logs: The Movie.

      Big things have small beginnings.

      1. God, I can actually hear the dramtic pasues of Welles delivering that speech. “There’s a…. certain… ruthlessness to the Decepticons. A very pure one, though… I sure we’ll all agree. No… we can’t blame Megatron for his actions. Like all great rulers, he has his people in mind. (huge pause and chuckle for his next line) And despite what Shakespeare may tell us about Gaius Octavius Caesar, great leaders do need to stick up for themselves. So before we declare Megatron another Nero, keep in mind that the Decpeticons didn’t necessarilly start this war. No, I might even go as far as to say….Ladies and Gentlemen, what I’m about to propose here may seem ludicrous, but, I assure you I am sincere in my opinions… Ladies and Gentlemen,  I might even go so far as to declare that the Decepticons…mind you… are really the VICTIMS in this whole debacle…and not the aggressors.” [continue for another 35 minutes; engineer beats head against soundboard]

        1. I figure it would be awesome. He’s already got good characters, hits the feel of actual D&D gameplay well. Continued development will bring us more inside jokes, classic gametable chatter… it would rock.

  2. I was five when this show aired and I remember watching this episode: 

    The sequence from 1:11 to 1:55 caused me to sleep against the wall in a defensive posture for years.

    1.  Nice meta reference in that scene – those were real action figures they sold. I had the figure on the right. Their toys were actually very well designed considering the time period; very detailed, “action” spring arms, and various accessories. I don’t think they sold very well though.

  3. re: “(rather dreadful) ”

    Dreadful? DREADFUL? It was a great cartoon – especially compared to those around it. None of the 80s cartoons really hold up very well to the smarter, better drawn toons of today – but D&D holds a special place in my heart.

  4. You asked me if I wanted any equipment before this adventure and I said No. But I need material components for all my spells. So I cast Mordenkainen’s Faithful Watchdog.If there’s girls in there I want to do them!/confused? Search for “summoner geeks” and have a larf.

  5. I was around eight or nine when I was introduced to D&D by the kids at my new school, and we were all hooked on it.  Like, obsessed.  Of course, we cheated like crazy, and a tape of us campaigning would be very embarrassing but probably funnier than this video (which was pretty funny.)  It was the next television season that introduced the D&D TV show, and even my young mind realized that it wasn’t really comparable to the actual game, but I still thought it was pretty dope.  Guess it was just on my level.  Plus the renderings were–as has been pointed out–quite good.  I never missed it, either, because it was something for girls on the other channels and even if I slept late, it was the last cartoon in the saturday schedule–right before American Bandstand.  So, all things considered, a win.

  6. That was definitely one of *the* best cartoons of the 1980’s.  As a point of correction, the show did NOT depict the kid’s campaign!  The story was about a group of gamers that got sucked into their fantasy gaming world, turned into their characters, and their adventures while trying to find their way out.

    1. That is the entire joke of this video: what if there were people playing this AS a campaign.

      And IIRC it was not about gamers turned into their characters. There have been several books written around that premise, but the premise for this show was “some kids get on a D&D ride at an amusement park, get sucked into the fantasy world, and get roles arbitrarily assigned to them by a little gnome who called himself ‘Dungeon Master’.”

  7. On the last day of Gary Con IV this year, my friends and I had the pleasure of hanging out in the hotel bar with Ernie Gygax (Gary’s oldest son) while we watched the D&D cartoon on the big TV.

    He co-wrote some of the episodes and consulted on others, and was in unique position to explain to us why some things came out the way they did.

    I asked about the cavalier’s lack of a sword and, indeed, as Petsounds mentions above,  that was an attempt to keep the violence level low. According to Ernie, the show was intended for a much younger audience than ended up watching it. He told us that they weren’t even allowed to refer to the characters’ magic items as weapons until later in the series.

  8. “Here’s 13 minutes’ worth of the old (rather dreadful) Dungeons and Dragons cartoon…” 

    Ah, nope, see ya lost me Cory. That show was one of the best in it’s time. It had real sorrow and longing for them to get home and was quite adept at depicting violence even though the cavalier didn’t have a fucking sword. One of the best written animated series of it’s time. That might be a lot to say for an animated series, but it was.

  9. Fun fact: Michael Reaves (who apparently has written for pretty much Everything) actually had a script written for a final episode of the series, “Requiem”, in which the kids (having been stranded in a fantasy world to which they were transported via a theme park ride) finally return to the real world once and for all.  The original cast did a readthrough included as an extra on the DVD box set, though of course it has made its way to Youtube.

  10. Well, it wasn’t called 1.5, but around that time a bunch of books came out that added new things to the game, including a proficiency system. TSR didn’t call it 1.5, but WoTC would have.

  11. the trick with watching the show is to watch the later episodes (especially those written by Michael Reaves). admittedly it is a little weak in the first couple of episodes. later episodes include them discovering a nazi, eric becoming the dungeonmaster, and an episode which was pulled off the air in which the kids decide that they don’t want to listen to the dungeonmaster anymore and decided they should just kill venger once and for all. classic.

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