The 2003 Teen Titans Cartoon Network’s cartoon is often ranked among the best superhero cartoons. Existing separated from Bruce Tim and Paul DiniThe vast DC Animated Universe, it followed the adventures of Robin, Cyborg, Raven, Beast Boy and Starfire as they protect Jump City from criminals and learn to live with each other. This allowed for many dramatic moments that impacted children and adults alike.
The show also forged its own identity through its balance of drama and comedy. Many silly episodes are just as beloved as the dramatic episodes thanks to their creative premise, memorable villains, and plenty of references for older audiences.
“Crazy Mod” (S01 Ep10)
The titans awake to find themselves tied to chairs in a school run by the British villain, Mad Mod. He intends to punish them for interrupting the villains’ plans and leaving their minds scrambled with his hypnotic screens. As they attempt to capture the villain, they’ll have to contend with an entertainment house where nothing is as it seems.
“Mad Mod” blends a number of surreal animation references, including Scooby-Doo, yellow submarine, and The Thief and the Shoemaker. Hypno screens also refer A Clockwork Orange, which featured Mod’s voice actor, Malcolm McDowell. The result is one of the most trippy episodes in children’s animation, crowned by a song “K2G” by Japanese band Puffy AmiYumi.
“Every dog has his day” (S02 Ep02)
Feeling left behind by his friends, Beast Boy heads for town but is unable to attract attention, even when he transforms into a dog. That is until a passing spaceship mistakes him for an alien dog and abducts him. The other titans mistake the alien dog for Beast Boy and chase him around the city.
After the emotional punch of “How Long is Forever,” this episode highlights the importance of being there for your friends by paralleling Beast Boy’s situation with an immature alien who doesn’t listen to his dog. Both aliens are voiced by Dee Bradly Baker, known to express the clones in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and it’s another chance for him to show his talent. It’s a good palette cleanser with a good slapstick before jumping into the Season 2 arc with “Terra.”
“Rendezvous with Destiny” (S02 Ep06)
As the villainous Killer Moth prepares to unleash a swarm of mutant butterflies on Jump City, his teenage daughter, Kitten, asks for his help. Her boyfriend broke up with her before prom, and now she wants Robin on her date. Robin agrees, much to Starfire’s jealousy, so the other titans can track down and stop Killer Moth.
This episode combines a little teen drama with the extreme situations of a superhero show to deliver a great parody of both genres. The image of Killer Moth trying to calm down his emotional human daughter is hilarious, as is the fact that she’s so small she’ll hold the town hostage just to have her big night. It’s also hilarious to watch the usually overjoyed Starfire give in to jealousy and become a veritable green-eyed monster.
“Split” (S02 Ep11)
After failing to stop a villainous biker named Johnny Rancid, Robin’s pride and arm are shattered. This is seen by an alternate reality version of himself, Nosyarg Kcid, or Larry, who uses his magic finger to pop out of Robin’s head to try to heal him. Unfortunately, Robin ends up breaking her finger in a fight, which also shatters reality.
This episode emulates the kind of stories a young fan might generate about the show, Larry’s hyperactive personality, and his pastel-colored fanboy attitude of the fractured world. Then there’s the visual comedy, which involves swapping mouths and voices and growing wings on Starfire’s head. In the midst of the madness, it still presents a beautiful message about getting back up after a loss and how our actions can inspire others.
“Revolution” (S03 Ep07)
Mad Mod returns on July 4 and hypnotizes all of Jump City. His plan is to defeat the American Revolution and force citizens to become British. Worse, he uses his cane to steal Robin’s youth and kidnap him, leaving the other titans without their leader.
“Revolution” somehow manages to top “Mad Mod” in terms of madness and UK credentials. This time around, the animators and writers have included a number of nods to Monthy Python’s flying circus, and jabs at British culture thanks to Mod’s plan and his new redcoat robots. Yet it also contains some good themes about unity and understanding history, which helps the titans craft a winning strategy.
“Bunny Raven… or how to make a titmouse disappear” (S03 Ep11)
During a battle against the evil magician, Mumbo Jumbo, the titans are sucked into his magic hat. One by one, they are transformed into animals (or in Beast Boy’s case, a lamp) and stripped of their powers. Now they must find a way to stop Mumbo before he makes them disappear forever.
Everything about this episode is great: the writing is full of tongue-in-cheek show business jokes, magic tricks and animal puns, while the visual comedy ranges from surreal to The Muppets. Tom Kenya, best known as the voice of SpongeBob, steals the show as Mumbo with his theatrical and catchy song. If that’s not enough, you hear Tara Strong, one of the best voice actors in the business, voicing Raven in the body of a fluffy white rabbit.
“Don’t Touch This Dial” (S04 Ep01)
Super geek Control Freak has escaped from prison and transported himself inside a television. During the investigation, the titans are accidentally drawn into the world of television and hunt Control Freak across multiple channels. His encyclopedic knowledge of television allows him to outrun them, and the longer this pursuit continues, the more the city’s viewers begin to succumb to the brain-rotting electromagnetic waves.
This episode is a love letter to classic TV and movies, with references ranging from James Bond,Barny,leave it to the beaverand Dr.Seuss. The idea of placing the titans inside all of these classic and modern shows is brilliant and provides plenty of opportunities for visual comedy. Plus, the ending parodies how many sitcoms end with an obvious moral, which in this case is deconstructed by the characters.
“Employee of the Month” (S04 Ep05)
After failing to catch a flying saucer that was stealing cows, Beast Boy decides he needs to buy a moped, so he won’t get tired while flying. Since none of the titans will lend him money, he decides to find a job. After several unsuccessful attempts, he is hired by a new fast food restaurant, which leads him straight to the invisible enemy.
Even the creative team admitted on the Season 4 DVD that they may have gone a bit too far with this episode. This episode draws references from pulpy sci-fi stories to soy green,but with lots of fun twists. It’s also surreal to see Beast Boy working since the writers decided early on that the heroes wouldn’t adopt civilian identities.
“Mother Mae-Eye” (S04 Ep10)
When the titans wake up hungry for pie, a kind woman named Mother Mae-Eye appears and serves them whatever they could wish to eat. She soon begins to feel at home, treating the titans like her own children and turning the tower into a gingerbread house. Eventually, Starfire discovers she is a witch in disguise and must find a way to save her friends before they are eaten.
“Mother Mae-Eye” is inspired by classic fairy tales and the works of sid and Marty Croft. It uses bright images of sweets and childhood nostalgia to mask a sinister undertone. This is reflected in Mae-Eye herself, voiced by the late great Billie Hayeswhose performance as Wilhemina W. Witchiepoo on HR Pufnstuf inspired the character.
“Revved Up” (S05 Ep09)
A briefcase containing Robin’s most prized possession is stolen by Ding Dong Daddy. In order to retrieve it, the titans must compete in a road race, where obstacles include a pit gremlin team and no flying. Worse still, other villains discover the briefcase and join the race as well.
While the villain is a little simpler compared to Teen Titans precedents, the scenario is very amusing. The titans end up splitting into three different scenarios, with the funniest being Raven and Starfire trying to impersonate discounted super-villains to board a villainous bus. The mystery behind the briefcase also refers to that of Pulp Fiction.
Next:10 Great Western Shows Inspired By Anime