My Favorite Episodes of DuckTales 2017
To all those who seek to do reboots of a beloved show from our childhoods, take note: this is how you do it right!
The 2017 reboot of DuckTales has not just been one of the best reboots of all time, it’s probably one of the best cartoons Disney’s ever put out. I’ve been watching it since the very beginning, and it’s made me laugh, cry, and eager for the next adventure time and again. With the movie-length series finale next Monday, I’m going back and taking a look at tales of daring bad and good, not ponytails or cottontails. No, DuckTales!
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
First impressions are often key to cementing your relationship with anyone or anything, so it’s important to make sure you leave a positive one. The cast and crew behind the DuckTales reboot knew this lesson well; perhaps more so when you consider how beloved the original show remains more than thirty years later. Thankfully, the reboot hit the ground running with the 45-minute pilot, “Woo-oo!” Huey, Dewey, and Louie meet their Great-Uncle Scrooge for the first time, only to find him a reclusive shell of the legendary adventurer he once was. Predictably, the boys end up bringing him out of his funk and reignite his passion for adventure and life. I think you can guess the rest.
The pilot episode of DuckTales hit all the right notes. It pays homage to the original show while establishing itself as something unique. It modernizes the triplets by giving them their own personalities and voice actors. Webby got revamped from the annoying tagalong into a badass tomboy. And if that wasn’t enough, the final moments of the pilot end with this.
That’s right; the reboot was going to go there! They were going to introduce the world to the little-known character that was Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s mom!
That aside, I loved the pilot and thought it set a great standard for the show to follow. The fact that Disney was willing to upload it for free onto YouTube spoke about how confident they were in its success, and it paid off. DuckTales was back, and bigger than ever.
The Last Crash of the Sunchaser!
I dare you, people, to sit through this episode and not cry by the end of it. Because you will cry when you see it. Throughout the first season, the mystery behind what happened to Della Duck loomed large over events in the show, with Dewey, Webby, and eventually, all the kids working to learn the truth behind her disappearance and why Scrooge and Donald won’t even talk about her. Things come to a head in the antepenultimate episode of the season when the kids confront Scrooge and force him to admit the truth. Right before the triplets hatched, Della took an experimental rocket built by Scrooge into orbit without his knowledge, only to be lost in a cosmic storm and presumed dead. The boys then blame Scrooge for their mom’s disappearance leading to him lashing out at them and driving everyone away in a fit of anger.
This episode is, by far, the darkest moment in the DuckTales reboot. Hell, it may be one of the darkest things Disney’s ever done on a kid’s show. With no villain or curse to overcome, the episode plays off the rising tension amongst the group until it finally boils over, resulting in Scrooge’s newly reunited family falling apart. The tragedy becomes even greater when the final moments of the episode reveal that Scrooge drove himself to near bankruptcy trying to find Della. That’s right. Scrooge McDuck, one of the most stingy people in all of fiction, was willing to throw it all away to bring his niece back, only for his family to turn on him. Is it any wonder he became such a bitter recluse by the time of the pilot?
Picking up right after the fallout from “Sunchaser”, the Season One finale not only brings the Duck Family back together in a very heartfelt manner but in the most badass way possible. With his family having turned their back on him, Scrooge is left broken and unprepared for the return of his greatest enemy, Magica DeSpell, who’s been lurking in the shadows throughout the whole season. Using her dark magic to imprison Scrooge in his own #1 Dime, Magica seizes control of every shadow in Duckburg, Scrooge’s fortune, and prepares to rule over the city for all eternity. The result is an epic war as Scrooge’s family rallies to save their Uncle and Duckburg from the evil sorceress.
“Shadow War!” was the right balance of everything that makes the DuckTales reboot so much fun. It’s heartwarming by reaffirming the show’s core belief that family’s the greatest treasure. It’s epic in the way that everyone gets a shot at Magica DeSpell and her shadows. And it’s got a good deal of humor to keep things from getting too dark. But the cherry on top has to be the ending, where it’s revealed that Della is alive.
Whatever Happened to Della Duck?
After the last season established Della’s continued survival, new questions arose. What had Della been doing all this time? Fans got answers in this somber special episode of survival in Season Two. It turns out, Della crash-landed on the Moon following her impromptu flight, losing a leg in the process. Good news: she had special gum that gave her all the nutrients and air needed to survive. The bad news: her ship needed gold to run, and she had to fight off alien mites that kept trying to eat her ship. That, and her own temper.
This episode was momentous in more ways than one. Firstly, this marked the first time Disney ever used Della Duck in any cartoon. So, yeah, this episode pretty much established who Della is as a character, and fans loved what we got. Seeing her exhibit each of the defining qualities that her sons possess (Huey’s knowledge of the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook, Dewey’s determination and self-confidence, Louie’s cunning) helped endear her to us. Even though we only just met her, it felt like we’d known Della for a long time. Disney, once the show ends, give us more Della, please?
The 87 Cent Solution
When Scrooge becomes convinced that someone broke into his Money Bin and stole 87 cents from him, he starts to lose it. As he continues to obsess over catching the apparent thief, Scrooge’s love of gold comes dangerously close to overriding his love for his family. This would be very dark if it weren’t for the fact that the mastermind behind everything is Flintheart Glomgold. Through means that I will not disclose since they’re way too hilarious to spoil, he set everything up to drive Scrooge nuts. Surprisingly, it comes close to working until his own ego gets in the way.
Despite how dark the story for the episode may seem, I think it’s hands down the funniest episode in the entire series. Just watching David Tenant go full-on crazy as Scrooge McDuck is a delight to watch. But the real draw is Flintheart Glomgold and how incredibly petty he can be. When it seems like Scrooge died from “Gold Fever”, what does Glomgold do? He crashes his funeral, dances up to his coffin, and mocks him all to DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win.” Fun fact: that song was only meant to be a placeholder, but the staff liked it so much that they bought the rights to it just so they could use it. It’s so ridiculously petty that I couldn’t help but laugh at it.
Nothing Can Stop Della Duck!
It’s the family reunion that everyone was waiting for. After years of being stuck on the Moon, Della manages to return to Earth, have a tearful reunion with Scrooge, and, of course, finally, finally meet her sons. The moment can only be summed up by this line by Webby.
Once heartfelt tears wear off, though, a bigger problem emerges: Della doesn’t know how to be a Mom. This being DuckTales, though, all it takes is for an impromptu fight with a giant robot for everyone to come to terms with this fact and grow closer than before.
Della Duck is by far one of my favorite characters on the show, and this episode only made me love her more. Seeing her finally meet her sons (technically, she met Dewey when he traveled back in time, but that’s another story) was absolutely heartwarming to watch. Her attempts to bond with her kids were also endearing, but at the same time, I felt bad for her. She missed out on the first eleven years of the Duck boys’ lives and desperately wants to make up for it, only to keep messing up. Nobody said parenting was easy, though, and once she comes to terms with that, she’s able to mature a little and start to become the mom she needs to be.
Also, this episode reveals that she planned to name Huey, Dewey, and Louie Jet, Turbo, and Rebel respectively. While it was probably a good idea for Donald not to listen to her, I still think “Turbo Duck” is the coolest name ever.
The Duck Knight Returns!
Of all the shows in the original Disney Afternoon block, Darkwing Duck was the only one explicitly shown to share the same universe as DuckTales. The reboot technically fulfilled this by making it a show-within-a-show, but fans still wanted to see the return of DW proper. In this season two episode, we got our wish.
When Jim Starling, the original actor for Darkwing Duck, learns that a movie’s being made with his role recast, he ends up losing it. After a prolonged fight against the man who stepped into the role of Darkwing (who’s a super fan that deeply admires his predecessor), Jim ends up going missing and the movie shut down. However, this inspires the newcomer, Drake Mallard to take up the role of DW as a real superhero. Thus, Darkwing Duck was born for real.
I went Gaga for this episode when it came out. While paying tribute to the original cartoon, this episode continues its tradition of being a homage to heroes like Batman. The film even takes cues from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy in how grim and gritty it’s supposed to be. On a meta-level, it also acknowledges the importance of balancing the love for something vs trying to make something new and original. Case in point, the meta-passing on the torch from Jim Cummings to Chris Diamantopoulos as Darkwing Duck. With the character getting his own reboot/possible spinoff soon, we’ll hopefully see more of these two clashing in the future
Let me set the stage for you. In Season Two, Glomgold makes a bet on who can be the richest by the end of the year. The winner gets the loser’s companies. And, being Glomgold, he doesn’t even come close to winning. So, in a last-ditch effort, Glomgold gathers up all of Scrooge’s worst enemies to storm McDuck Manor and take down his family. Too bad for everyone that the only one there is Louie. Della grounded him after almost destroying the space-time continuum in a get-rich-quick scheme. What happens next? I’m just going to let the video speak for itself.
While some people think of the assembling of an alliance of evil only to not use it as a copout, I still love this episode for three reasons. First, watching Keith Ferguson chew the scenery as Glomgold is just so enjoyable. Secondly, seeing Louie outwit all of Scrooge’s enemies has to be his most badass moment ever. And finally, they even changed the normal theme song to this!
So, remember how Della was stuck on the Moon? Well, she met and befriended a civilization of Moonlanders who helped her rebuild her ship to get home. However, it turns out that their leader, General Lunaris, only did this so he could steal the designs for Della’s ship and fool the Moonlanders into going to war against Earth. This culminates in the Season Two finale with an all-out invasion of Earth that pits the entire Duck family, their allies, and Glomgold (no, really) in a battle for the fate of the Earth.
I had high accolades for this two-part finale when it first came out, and it remains one of the show’s best. The heroes and all their allies come together to fight impossible odds. The villain is a man who has spent years studying Scrooge and thus knows his every move before he even makes it, making him a true menace to the heroes. And, of all people, it’s Glomgold who ends up saving the day with his craziest scheme ever. No, I’m not joking about this. That narcissistic nincompoop’s crazy plan ends up being responsible for Lunaris’ eventual defeat. Go see for yourself if you don’t believe me!
While out adventuring with the family, Donald gets fed up with how dangerous their lives are. Just once, he wishes they could be a normal family and deal with normal family problems. However, since Donald had in his hands a magic lamp containing a smooth-talking Genie, his wish comes true. As a result, the entire family’s stuck in a 90s style sitcom with no clue about how they got there.
If I could pick any episode of this show to win an Emmy, it would either be this or “Whatever happened to Della Duck.” “Quack Pack” is essentially a microcosm of what would make WandaVision so critically acclaimed in the months to follow. A group of heroes gets trapped in a sitcom scenario born from one member’s desire to live a normal life; sounds familiar? This episode even has fake commercials and eyecatchers to go with it, not to mention a guest appearance from the only and only Goofy.
Sitcom setting aside, the episode teaches Donald an important lesson: that there’s no such thing as a normal family and that the best moments in life can be the ones we never plan for. Given everything that’s happened to him in the past, I think this episode helped Donald come to terms with the fact that adventuring is what makes his family happy. Good for you, Donald.
Let’s Get Dangerous!
I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited for a new episode of DuckTales as I was for this one-hour special. When Scrooge, the boys, and Launchpad travel to St. Canard, they run into their old friend, Darkwing Duck, as he’s trying to make a name for himself as a superhero. However, they end up caught in the middle of an experiment that threatens that unleashes chaos on the city and threatens to tear apart all of reality. With Scrooge and the boys incapacitated, it’s up to Darkwing, Launchpad, and a young, street-smart named Gosalyn to save the day.
Ever since the reboot of DuckTales came out, I’ve been clamoring for them to do the same to Darkwing Duck. With Darkwing having joined the show’s roster in “The Duck Knight Returns”, my desire to see that happen only got stronger. But for them to give DW an hour-long special, much like they did for the DuckTales itself? They did it to set us up for a Darkwing Duck reboot/spin-off. With the announcement of a reboot in the works for Disney+, I effectively consider this special to be the pilot for the return of Darkwing Duck. Let’s get dangerous!