Greatest Easter Eggs and References to Disney Afternoon Block in DuckTales
You’re a kid in the middle of the 1990s who’s just got out of school for the day. You head home, and instead of doing your homework like your expected, you decide to spend the afternoon doing more important things like watching cartoons. While channels like Kids WB, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network all had great shows, Disney took it a step further. They took their best syndicated cartoons, mixed them with new content, and then put them into a single, two-hour block of animation. Thus was the creation of the legendary Disney Afternoon.
I never got to see the Disney Afternoon during its run. I had to watch the shows online years after they went off the air, which is how I became a fan of some of them. However, I didn’t need to see it to understand how important it was to my generation. It’s one of those things that sticks with a person even as they grow up. So, when Disney announced in 2015 that there would be a reboot of DuckTales, you can bet a lot of people were happy about it. Then the show aired, and it became clear that it wasn’t just rebooting the popular cartoon for a new generation. The DuckTales reboot’s a love letter to the Disney Afternoon.
During the show’s three season run, it’s taken most of the shows from the Disney Afternoon block and woven them into the new DuckTales universe, creating a new, shared universe that the older fans of the show will adore. Not to mention it sets Disney up for the possibility of rebooting even more shows from the Disney Afternoon. Until then, though, here are the biggest references to the Disney Afternoon found in the DuckTales reboot.
I know this goes against the whole theme of Disney Afternoon, but given the show’s connection to Doctor Who, I have to do it. To start things off, we have the reboot version of Scrooge McDuck himself, now voiced by David Tennant. Whovians will instantly recognize him as the Tenth Doctor in the franchise, with it being his most famous role. In fact, he got into acting for the sole dream of one day playing the role of The Doctor. While Scrooge McDuck may not be as big a role of the Doctor, I consider his version of Scrooge to be amongst his best performances.
There’s more, though. At least two other Doctor Who alumni joined David on DuckTales in recurring or guest roles. Firstly, we have Catherine Tate as Magica DeSpell. In Doctor Who, Catherine played the role of Donna Noble, the Tenth Doctor’s best friend and one of many companions. The two have since worked on several projects together, with DuckTales being among them. They’ve got great chemistry on-screen together.
In addition, while they never played on Doctor Who at the same time, Michelle Gomez would join David in a guest appearance as Scrooge’s sister, Matilda, in season three. Who did Michelle play on Doctor Who? None other than Missy, one of various incarnations of the Doctor’s archenemy the Master. Small world, huh?
Goof Troop/A Goofy Movie
I never saw the show Goof Troop, but I look back fondly on its sequel movie, A Goofy Movie. The show and film were among the first to be referenced in the new DuckTales, both subtly and not-so-subtly. In the pilot episode, we see a background character that looks like an older version of Roxanne, Max Goof’s love interest/girlfriend in A Goofy Movie, and continued to appear in future episodes.
The next big reference comes in the Season Two episode, “Raiders of the Lost Vault”. When Dewey and his mom Della decide to sneak off to see the seed for a tree made of actual gold, the two sing a Dew-et of the song “Stand Out,” from the film A Goofy Movie. That prompted me to go buy the song on iTunes and sparked a renewed interest in the film.
But the biggest reference came in Season Three with the appearance of Goofy himself in his Goof Troop incarnation. During his guest appearance, Goofy specifically mentions the events of the film and even shows off photos of his son Max and Roxanne together. As a bonus, the episode he appeared in aired three days before A Goofy Movie’s 25th anniversary.
Was this a show ahead of its time, or just a mistake few want to remember? I’m betting money on the latter, though. If you never heard about Quack Pack, then you either never saw it or your mind repressed the memory for the sake of your sanity. The premise behind it was having an aged-up Huey, Dewey, and Louie living with Donald and getting into radical adventures. Needless to say, fans didn’t like this concept, and the show got pulled after one season. If there was one good thing that came out of it, though, it’s the idea of giving the Duck Boys separate voice actors and personalities. The new DuckTales reboot would follow that concept, but to much greater success. I’m actually hoping they keep around the new incarnations of the Duck Boys after the show ends.
Despite being a black sheep in Donald Duck lore, DuckTales decided to pay tribute to it with the Season Three episode of the same name. Not only did “Quack Pack” get its inspiration from the short-lived show, but also takes a few shots at 90s sitcom tropes. That, and it makes fun of the fact that humans were a part of the world of Quack Pack.
Adventures of the Gummi Bears
Not counting any old cartoons about Scrooge, Donald, or the Duck Boys, the Gummi Bears may be the oldest thing referenced by the reboot. First airing from 1985 to 1989, it’s about a clan of magical gummi bears living in the forests near Castle Dunwyn. And that’s about all I know about the show. But it seems the writers of DuckTales remember it far more.
In the season one episode “The Confidential Casefiles of Agent 22”, its revealed that Scrooge and his housekeeper first met years ago when they worked as partners for the spy agency S.H.U.S.H. Their first mission had them stop a villainess from using a page from an alchemy book in a bid for world domination. The page itself was found in the ruins of Castle Dunwyn and contains notes to recreate Gummiberry juice. When drunk, the juice lets the user bounce around like rubber. Fun and silly for the Gummi Bears, but bad in the hands of evil. Thankfully, Scrooge and Beakley keep the juice out of evil hands; and then Scrooge and Webby do the same thing years later. Webby has the last remaining vial of juice, so it’s in safe hands.
This one’s more of a “blink-and-you’ll miss it” reference, but I’m counting it, nonetheless. For context, Bonkers was a show that ran in the Disney Afternoon from 1993 to 1994. It stars Bonkers D. Bobcat, a former cartoon star who ends up getting a new job as a cop in Hollywood. The show must have done alright, as Disney kept rerunning it in syndication up until 2004.
Anyway, during the one hour special “Let’s Get Dangerous”, we get a brief shot of Bonkers as a cop in St. Canard as he’s left the brunt of slapstick misfortune at the hands of several supervillains. That’s about it, really.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers
I have a list of the Disney Afternoon shows with the best chance of getting a shared universe reboot after appearing in DuckTales. Chip ‘Dale: Rescue Rangers is second on that list. In the Season Three episode, “Double-O-Duck in You Only Crash Twice!” the evil organization F.O.W.L. tests out a device designed to enhance or diminish a person’s intelligence. They end up using a normal mouse as their test subject for the intelligence ray. The next time we see the mouse has become Gadget Hackwrench and has begun assembling a vehicle for herself. Later, we see all the members of the Rescue Rangers have somehow gained super-intelligence. After Launchpad helps them get their plane off the ground, the newly-formed Rangers return the favor by helping him take out the bad guy.
Despite wanting to include the Rescue Rangers as early as Season One, Disney forbid the writers of the show from doing so. Not one to be deterred, they snuck them into this episode, but left them nameless and voiceless. By the time the big wigs found out, they didn’t care and rolled with it.
Next to Darkwing Duck, TaleSpin is arguably the show that’s gotten the most references, cameos, and Easter eggs out of the Disney Afternoon lineup. In the first few minutes of the pilot, Dewey Duck name-drops the main location of TaleSpin, Cape Suzette when they try and take Donald’s house boat there while he’s at a job interview.
The references then shift into outright crossover in the episode “Sky Pirates…in the Sky!” Scrooge and the kids are coming back from their latest treasure hunt when all of a sudden, they’re attacked by the crew of the Iron Vulture. They then break into a song and dance number led by Don Karnage, now voiced by Jaime Camil.
If that’s not crazy enough, Dewey then leads a mutiny that sees him briefly made captain before Don Karnage regains control. Despite this, Dewey manages to outwit the captain, get back the treasure, and escape with everyone. From then on, Don Karnage declares Dewey Duck to be his mortal enemy.
As of now, Karnage has appeared twice in the show since his debut, with his most recent appearance also giving us a now adult Kit Cloudkicker and Molly Cunningham. Despite claiming to have grown out of his cloudkicking, Kit decides to take it up again full-time as part of Molly’s flying circus. Which is good, because he sucks as a pilot.
When there’s trouble, you call DW! Of all the shows in the Disney Afternoon roster, Darkwing Duck is the one that has the strongest connection to the original DuckTales. Despite the show’s creator considering the original show and DuckTales to be in two separate universes, most fans disregard this due to the fact that Launchpad and Gizmoduck both appear in Darkwing Duck. The people behind the reboot made the brilliant decision to make this shared universe official with the new DuckTales.
In the first season, it’s revealed that Darkwing Duck was originally a fictional show that got cancelled due to the actor behind the main character being…unreasonable. Launchpad grew up with the show and retains his adoration for DW like in the original show. However, things then get weird.
In the second season, the original actor, Jim Starling, learns that a Darkwing Duck movie’s being made without him, and he goes ballistic. As a result, the movie’s ruined and Jim’s presumed dead by everyone (he’s not!). However, the guy who was supposed to play Darkwing in the film (who’s as big a fan as Launchpad), decides to take up the role of superhero for real. Oh, and it turns out, he’s Drake Mallard, who’s Darkwing Duck in the original show.
From then on, the new Darkwing Duck becomes a staunch ally of the Duck Family. From there, he gets his own hour-long special that cements his hero role while also setting us up for a Darkwing Duck spin-off/reboot. That’s not speculation on my part: we got official confirmation that a Darkwing Duck reboot’s being made for Disney+. Disney, please let it in the same universe as DuckTales so we can see more of Scrooge and the others!
The Original DuckTales
This one’s a no-brainer, because one of the best ways to do a reboot is to draw inspiration from the original. In this case, the DuckTales reboot doesn’t hesitate to draw upon its predecessor. Both as a source of inspiration and as a means to poke fun at the original. For example, the writers do not seem to like Webby in the original show. If you look in the pilot, you’ll see a doll that looks like 1987 Webby with an arrow through it. Personally, I like Kate Miccuci’s Webby way better.
Then there’s the DT-87 security bot that keeps showing up in the show. DT has to stand for DuckTales, while 87 refers to 1987, the year the original show premiered.
Also, they re-enacted this famous scene from the original:
DuckTales (2017)=Ultimate Disney Afternoon Crossover. Case Closed
So that’s basically it. Why the reboot of DuckTales is the ultimate love letter to the Disney Afternoon Block. I hope that this got you as hyped as I am for the series finale on Monday, March 15th on Disney XD. The last adventure begins!