This past week, I was able to find all the episodes of Teen Titans online. The show ran for three years, from 2003-2006, and was an integral part of my childhood, as well as to many other young adults today. As I was watching a few episodes, it struck me that this show wasn’t an entirely organic idea. Obviously, it came from preexisting material. I decided to do some research, and learned that the primary influence for the show was the 1980s comic series, the New Teen Titans. I learned that there is a lot about the Teen Titans that I knew nothing about.
The history of the Teen Titans goes back further than I would have thought. The Titans first appeared in 1964, but with a different lineup. Robin was still a member, but the other characters, Starfire, Beast Boy, Cyborg, and Raven, were replaced by Kid Flash and Aqualad. From that point on, the group rotated its lineup for years, trading characters in and out. Wonder Girl, Arsenal, Supergirl, Aqua Girl, Red Robin, and Jericho are just a handful of the heroes who have been members of the Teen Titans. There are many, many more. But it wasn’t until the 1980s when the New Teen Titans solidified the group that would later exist on television.
The show is particularly interesting in its stylistic choices. There are definite anime influences to the show, even though as far as I could find the show is still considered western animation. At first, it would seem as though this more animated style would not fit a show that, for a lot of the time, has a serious tone. However, as I’ve rewatched the show, that’s not the case. Since the characters regular design already has a bit of an anime feel to it, the exaggerated expressions aren’t jarring.
The opening theme song is performed by Puffy AmiYumi, a Japanese pop rock group. The song differs from being sung in Japanese to being sung in English, depending on the episode. It’s interesting that the creators of the show decided for the group to record two separate theme songs, and to use them at different times. Upon doing some more research, I learned that when the episode is going to deal with more serious material, the English theme is played. Otherwise, the Japanese theme is used.
What I found to be most interesting is how the show impacted the comic book world. Namely, the costumes of the comic characters wound up changing to match those of their television counterparts. It should also be noted that in the comics, the character of Raven was killed. However, due to her popularity on Teen Titans, she was resurrected in another arc. A television show having such a strong influence on another medium is quite remarkable. The television show also spawned a new comic, titled Teen Titans Go. I know that other television shows have resulted in graphic novels, like Avatar: the Last Airbender. But I believe Teen Titans stands as one of the few shows that originated as a comic, became a show, and that show inspired another comic.
Teen Titans has always been, in my opinion, one of the best kids programs of the early 2000s. It is similar to Batman: The Animated Series, not only in content, but in style. It dealt with heavy issues, and used its source material in a strong way. As a TV show, it was able to do things visually that a comic book cannot. And I firmly believe that the creators of Teen Titans did everything they could to make their show remarkable. And it still holds up, almost 10 years after it went off the air.
If you have 20 minutes to kill, I highly recommend watching this video which fills you in on 107 facts about Teen Titans, the television show.