Dexter's Laboratory

Dexter's Laboratory
Dexter's Laboratory
Dexter's Laboratory title.jpg
Intertitle since season 2.
Genre Comedy
Comic science fiction
Format Animated series
Created by Genndy Tartakovsky
Written by Genndy Tartakovsky
Craig McCracken
Seth MacFarlane
Zeke Mann
Paul Harrison
Voices of Christine Cavanaugh
(Season 1-3)
Candi Milo
(Season 3-4)
Allison Moore
(Season 1, 3)
Kathryn Cressida
(Season 2, 4)
Kath Soucie
Jeff Bennett
Eddie Deezen
Rob Paulsen
Frank Welker
Tom Kenny
Composer(s) Thomas Chase
Steve Walker
Gary Lionelli (Season 1-3)
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 78 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Genndy Tartakovsky
Running time 22 minutes approx.
Production company(s) Cartoon Network Studios
(Season 1, 3-4)
Hanna-Barbera Studios
(Season 2)
Original channel Cartoon Network
Original run April 28, 1996 (1996-04-28) – November 20, 2003 (2003-11-20)
Related shows What a Cartoon! Show

Dexter's Laboratory (commonly abbreviated as Dexter's Lab) is an American animated television series created by Genndy Tartakovsky and produced by Cartoon Network Studios (also co-produced with Hanna-Barbera from 1996-2001). The show is about a boy named Dexter who has an enormous secret laboratory filled with an endless collection of his inventions. The series premiered in the United States on Cartoon Network on April 28, 1996 and ended on November 20, 2003. As of 2006, Cartoon Network's sister channel Boomerang now reruns the show.

The series initially debuted on the What-a-Cartoon as a cartoon short and later became the first of said program to be adapted into its own stand-alone show, as well as Cartoon Network's second original television series (after Space Ghost: Coast to Coast). Each 22-minute episode consists of two to three segments (with the exception of the initial series finale). Dexter's Laboratory originally ended in 1998 after two seasons, but it was later revived for a TV movie, and, even later, two more seasons.

Dexter's Laboratory is notable for helping launch the careers of several cartoon creators such as Craig McCracken, Seth MacFarlane, Butch Hartman, Bob Boyle, Scott Fellows, and Rob Renzetti.



Dexter's Laboratory was inspired by one of Genndy Tartakovsky's drawings of a ballerina.[1][2] After drawing her tall and thin shape, he decided to pair her with a short and blocky opposite, Dexter (inspired by Tartakovsky's older brother Alex).[3] After enrolling at CalArts in 1990 to study animation, Tartakovsky wrote, directed, animated, and produced two cartoon shorts that would become the basis for the series.[4] Dexter's Laboratory was then made into a short film as a part of Cartoon Network's What a Cartoon! project, promoted as a World Premiere Toon on February 26, 1995.[5] Viewers worldwide voted on what series should be given a full-time slot; the first to earn that vote of approval was Dexter's Laboratory. The series was picked up for a season of 13 episodes in August 1995.[6] The show debuted as a half-hour series on April 28, 1996, with further promotion by its broadcast on both TNT and TBS as well as the Cartoon Network. Mike Lazzo, then-head of programming for the network, said that the short was his favorite of the 48 shorts, commenting "We all loved the humor in brother-versus-sister relationship."[7] Directors and writers on the series included Genndy Tartakovsky,[8] Rumen Petkov,[9] Craig McCracken,[8] Seth MacFarlane,[10] Butch Hartman,[11] Rob Renzetti,[12] Paul Rudish,[8] John McIntyre,[13] and Chris Savino.[14]

Dexter's Laboratory ended its initial run in 1998.[citation needed] The series finale was "Last But Not Beast", which differed from the format of the other episodes in that it was not a collection of cartoon shorts, but was a single 25-minute episode. It features Dexter's family, alongside many of the recurring characters from the Dexter universe, in a battle against a monster that Dexter accidentally released from a volcano as an exchange student in Japan. In this episode Dexter was forced to reveal the lab to his parents, though it ended with their memories being wiped clear of the experience.

In 1999 Tartakovsky returned to direct "Dexter's Laboratory: Ego Trip", the show's first special episode, which is currently the only Dexter's Laboratory television movie. This was the last Dexter's Laboratory production that Tartakovsky was involved with and was originally intended to be the series finale. Thomas Chase and Steve Rucker, who were known for scoring many cartoons including the Dexter's Laboratory series, provided the musical score, having created several new musical themes exclusively for "Ego Trip".[citation needed] The special was hand-animated, though the character and setting designs were subtly altered. The plot follows Dexter on a quest through time as he finds out his future triumphs. Christine Cavanaugh later won an Annie Award for her performance as Dexter in "Ego Trip" for "Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting By a Female Performer in an Animated Television Production".[15] The special was also released on VHS and VCD.

The series re-entered production in 2001.[16] The new episodes, which ran for two more seasons, had a different production team than the originals since Genndy Tartakovsky was busy working on Samurai Jack[17] and Star Wars: Clone Wars[18] (MacFarlane and Hartman had left Time Warner altogether at this point, focusing on Family Guy[10] and The Fairly OddParents,[11] respectively). This second line of episodes featured noticeably different visual designs, minor inconsistencies with the original episodes both in storyline and in visuals, different sound effects, and Christine Cavanaugh, the original voice for Dexter was replaced with Candi Milo for most of these episodes (as Cavanaugh had retired from voice acting in 2001 for personal reasons, though she still voiced Dexter for the first few episodes of Season 3).[citation needed] The creators did not attempt to recreate the look and atmosphere of the originals. This second series was not quite as well received as the first, and these new episodes were canceled in their second season.[citation needed]

Today, the series (seasons 1-2) is often labeled a classic of Cartoon Network's late 1990s staple of original animated programs (the collective Cartoon Cartoons).


The series revolves around Dexter, an eight-year-old genius boy, who has a secret laboratory (which he pronounces with a stress on the second syllable, luh-BOAR-uh-tor-ee) filled with highly advanced equipment hidden behind a bookshelf in his bedroom. Access to this never-ending laboratory is usually achieved by speaking various passwords or by activating hidden switches on his bookcase (such as pulling out a specific book). Dexter is normally in conflict with his ditzy older sister, Dee Dee, who always mysteriously gains access to his lab no matter what he does to try to keep her out. Dee Dee eludes all manner of security and, once inside, delights in playing in the lab, often destroying all of his creations. Despite her hyperactive personality, Dee Dee sometimes makes more logical decisions than Dexter, or even gives him helpful advice. Dexter, though highly intelligent, often fails at what he has set out to do when he becomes overexcited and makes careless choices. He manages to keep the lab a secret from his clueless, cheerful parents, who amusingly never notice any evidence of the laboratory, even when it was right before their eyes. Despite coming from a typical all-American family, Dexter speaks with an accent, a reference to Tartakovsky's own accent that he spoke with during childhood.[19]

Dexter has an arch-nemesis, a boy from his school who dubs himself "Mandark", who lives down the block from Dexter and has a secret laboratory of his own. Mandark's schemes are generally evil and are designed to gain power for himself while downplaying or destroying Dexter's accomplishments. Dexter often makes better inventions than Mandark, but Mandark tries to make up for this by stealing Dexter's inventions. Mandark is also in love with Dee Dee, though she prefers to ignore him and never returns his affections. As the series progressed, Mandark's schemes became significantly more evil, his laboratory darker-looking, industrial and angular, in contrast to his original brightly-lit lab which had more rounded features.

Continuity is not generally an aspect of the show, and many episodes are self-contained or leave characters in predicaments that are left unresolved and never referenced afterward (e.g., the entire lab is completely destroyed, the earth is destroyed, Dexter is turned into a sandwich, etc.). Most episodes end in disaster because of a flaw in Dexter's logic or in his inventions. Dexter usually fails at what he has set out to do with Dee Dee often besting him.

The shorts occasionally chronicle the adventures of other characters besides Dexter, Dee Dee, and Mandark. Chief among these were Dexter's pet monkey, Monkey (who secretly lived a double life as a crime-fighting super-powered secret agent), and Dexter's favorite superhero, Major Glory. Both of these characters were often associated with a superhero team called The Justice Friends, which included the superheroes Valhallen and The Infraggable Krunk.


In total there were 78 half-hour episodes of Dexter's Laboratory produced, not including the "Ego Trip" TV special. Three hip hop music videos were also aired on Cartoon Network beginning in fall 2002 as a promotion for the music CD Dexter's Laboratory: The Hip-Hop Experiment. Notably, one episode made intentionally for adults entitled "Dexter's Rude Removal" features excessive use of inappropriate language (albeit censored) and was only screened at certain animation conventions.[20] Due to network standards, the episode has never been broadcast on television.[21]

Backup segments

In season 1 of Dexter's Laboratory (and a few episodes of season 2), the middle segment would have centered around characters from the Dexter's Laboratory universe other than Dexter's family. Two kinds of these segments were shown, primarily during the first season, running during 22-minute slots: Dial M for Monkey and The Justice Friends. Dial M for Monkey appeared in the first half of the first season, while The Justice Friends appeared in the second half of the first season. Monkey often appeared in the Justice Friends segments and vice versa, having teamed with his fellow superheroes while Dexter and Dee Dee sometimes appeared in the Monkey segments.

Dial M for Monkey

Dial M for Monkey intro card.

The Dial M for Monkey shorts featured Dexter's lab monkey, Monkey (vocal effects by Frank Welker), who, unknown to Dexter, had superpowers and fought evil with his secret agent and superhero partners. Villains ranged from a cranky and irritable lava monster that just wanted people to be quiet because it needed its sleep, to a woman obsessed with making fur coats from endangered species across the universe, to a bounty hunter obsessed with killing Monkey for use as a hunting trophy. Monkey's true identity was revealed to Dexter in "Last But Not Beast", although Dexter's memories were erased afterward.

The segment's title derived from Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder.[original research?]

The Justice Friends

The Justice Friends intro card.

The Justice Friends consists of Major Glory, The Infraggable Krunk, and Valhallen, who are all roommates living in an apartment complex called Muscular Arms. Most of the adventures of The Justice Friends deal less with their lives as superheroes and more with their inability to get along as roommates. Most of these adventures play out like a sitcom along with a laugh track. The segment's title likely derives[original research?] from the DC Comics superhero organization The Justice League and its sanitized animated cartoon version, Super Friends, though the team itself was clearly a parody of Marvel's Avengers title.[citation needed] The three main characters were loosely based on Marvel Comics characters: Major Glory resembled Captain America (though his powers roughly mirror those of Superman), The Infraggable Krunk resembled Hulk, and Valhallen resembled Thor, Valhallen's name was a portmanteau of Valhalla, the spiritual plane of Norse mythology, and Van Halen, an American rock band. Valhallen frequently referred to himself as the "Viking God of Rock", and wielded a wing-shaped electric guitar (referred to as the "axe") instead of a war mallet.[citation needed]

These segments crossed over into episodes of Dial M For Monkey. In addition to Agent Honeydew and Monkey, the three superheroes were seen in action along with other superheroes, similar to the large number of Justice League members having appeared in Challenge of the Super Friends and Justice League Unlimited. These additional superheroes were still based on Marvel superheroes (Living Bullet based on Iron Man and Quicksilver, White Tiger based on the character of the same name and the Black Panther, Miss Pell based on Scarlet Witch, Capital G based on Henry Pym aka Giant-Man/Ant Man), with the exception of Ratman being a less-adequate parody of Batman. Justice Friends Major Glory and Valhallen also appeared on The Powerpuff Girls episode "Members Only". Genndy Tartakovsky stated in an interview with IGN that he was somewhat disappointed with how The Justice Friends turned out, saying, "it could have been funnier and the characters could have been fleshed out more."[22]

Other media

Music CD

The Hip-Hop Experiment
Compilation album by various artists
Released August 20, 2002 (2002-08-20)
Genre Hip hop
Length 21:12
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Karen Ahmed
Mike Engstrom
Lara Kiang

The Hip-Hop Experiment is a compilation album released on August 20, 2002, that features songs by various hip hop artists inspired by the series. Heather Phares of gave the CD a positive review, declaring, "its only drawback is that it's so short."[23] The track listing for the CD is as follows:

No. Title Performer(s) Length
1. "Opening Theme"   Thomas Chase and Steve Rucker (composers) 0:33
2. "Secret Formula" 3:18
3. "Dexter (What's His Name?)"   Coolio 3:36
4. "Love According to Dexter"   Phife Dawg introducing Slick & Rose 3:53
5. "Sibling Rivalries"   De La Soul 3:28
6. "Mandark's Plan"   YZ 3:30
7. "Back to the Lab"   Prince Paul 2:54

Video games

Four games were released to have tied in with the series: Dexter's Laboratory: Robot Rampage for the Nintendo Game Boy Color (a licensed version of Elevator Action), Dexter's Laboratory: Chess Challenge for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance, Dexter's Laboratory: Deesaster Strikes! for the Game Boy Advance, and Dexter's Laboratory: Mandark's Laboratory? for the Sony PlayStation, all published by BAM! Entertainment. Dexter, Mandark, Dee Dee, Dexter's computer, and Major Glory, along with many items, areas, and inventions from the show were featured in the MMORPG FusionFall.[24][25]

Dexter is also in Punch Time Explosion with Monkey as a playable.In the same game, Dee Dee and Mandark act as octopus trainers. Also of note is that in the XL version of the game, Major Glory and Valhallen are new assist characters in addition to Mandark's Lab as a playable stage. The Assist versions of Dee Dee and Mandark show up in XL as well.

Home video releases

Warner Brothers stated in a 2006 interview that they were " conversations with Cartoon Network" for DVD collections of various cartoons, among which was Dexter's Laboratory.[26] The complete first season and the first half of the second season were released in Australia and New Zealand (Region 4) in 2008.

A Region 1 release of the first season was released by Warner Home Video on October 12, 2010. The release was the third in an official release of several Cartoon Cartoons on DVD, under the "Cartoon Network Hall of Fame" name.[27] As the segment "Dial M for Monkey: Barbequor" was banned upon its original broadcast in 1996,[citation needed] it has been replaced with two segments: "Dexter's Lab: A Story" and "Changes", a slightly different version of the original pilot.

The complete series with the exception of the "Ego Trip" TV special became available on iTunes in 2010.[28]

Title Release date Episodes Region Description
Ego Trip (VHS) November 7, 2000[29] 1 1 This VHS includes the made-for-TV special "Ego Trip" along with "The Justice Friends: Krunk's Date" and "Dial M for Monkey: Rasslor".
Dexter's Laboratory - Greatest Adventures (VHS) July 3, 2001[30] 8 1 This VHS includes Genndy Tartakovsky's eight favorite episodes from the series—"Dexter's Laboratory" (labeled as "Changes" on the back cover), "Dexter's Rival", "Old Man Dexter", "Dexter Dodgeball", "Picture Day", "Quiet Riot", "Last But Not Beast", and "Dexter's Lab: A Story"—as well as a preview of Samurai Jack and a bonus Ed, Edd n Eddy episode, "Stop, Look and Ed".[31]
The Complete Season 1 February 13, 2008[32] 1-13 4 This two-disc release includes all 13 episodes from the first season and contains the two pilot episodes, "Changes" and "Big Sister", as well as a limited edition door hanger.
Season 2 (Part 1) June 11, 2008[33] 14-32 4 This two-disc release includes the first half of episodes from the second season.
Dexter's Laboratory: Season One October 12, 2010[27] 1-13 1 This two-disc release includes all 13 episodes from the first season, except for "Dial M for Monkey: Barbequor".
Season 2 (Part 2) TBA 33-52 4 This two-disc release includes the second half of episodes from the second season as well as the "Ego Trip" special.

Select episodes from the series were also featured on several Cartoon Network compilation DVDs:

  • Scooby-Doo and the Toon Tour of Mysteries (June 2004)—"Trick or Treehouse", "Unfortunate Cookie", "Photo Finish"
  • Cartoon Network Halloween: 9 Cartoon Capers (August 10, 2004)—"Picture Day"
  • Cartoon Network Christmas: Yuletide Follies (October 5, 2004)—"Snowdown"
  • Cartoon Network Halloween 2: The Grossest Halloween Ever (August 9, 2005)—"Dee Dee's Room"
  • Cartoon Network Christmas 2: Christmas Rocks (October 4, 2005)—"Dexter vs. Santa's Claws"


In 2009, Dexter's Laboratory was named the 72nd best animated series by IGN.[34]


  1. ^ Wilkinson, Alec (May 27, 2002). "Moody Toons; The king of the Cartoon Network". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  2. ^ Davenport, Misha (November 24, 2002). "'Dexter' creator draws on his youth". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  3. ^ Lenburg, Jeff (2006). Who's Who in Animated Cartoons: An International Guide to Film & Television's Award-winning and Legendary Animators. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 332. ISBN 978-1-55-783671-7. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  4. ^ "Animator Profile: Genndy Tartakovsky". Archived from the original on 2009-06-19. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  5. ^ Moore, Scott (February 26, 1995). "Creative 'World Premiere Toons'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  6. ^ Bash, Alan (August 30, 1995). "A grim outlook for Moore's TV Nation". USA Today.'s+`TV+Nation'&pqatl=google. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  7. ^ Mifflin, Lawrie (April 24, 1996). "TV Notes;A Cartoon Winner". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  8. ^ a b c "Dexter's Laboratory credits". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  9. ^ "Faculty/Staff Directory: Rumen Petkov". California Institute of the Arts. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  10. ^ a b Bartlett, James (March 12, 2007). "Seth MacFarlane – he's the "Family Guy"". Presswire Limited. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  11. ^ a b Basile, Nancy. "Not Just Cartoons: Nicktoons! An Interview with Butch Hartman". Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  12. ^ "Original Premiere >My Life as a Teenage Robot". June 23, 2003. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  13. ^ "Dexter's Laboratory". Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  14. ^ Roffman, Marisa (July 11, 2010). "Comic-Con 2010: Sunday’s Schedule Released". Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  15. ^ "Legacy: 28th Annual Annie Award Nominees and Winners (2000)". Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  16. ^ Forkan, Jim (February 25, 2001). "Cartoon Network Shows Off Four New Series". NewBay Media. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  17. ^ Aushenker, Michael (August 2, 2001). "The Way of the Samurai". Tribe Media. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  18. ^ "'Star Wars: Clone Wars' Cartoon Shorts Announced". February 20, 2003. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  19. ^ Adams, Thelma (August 19, 2001). "The Way We Live Now: Questions for Genndy Tartakovsky; The Big Draw". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  20. ^ Pierce, Scott D. (July 27, 1998). "Lost Cartoon?". Deseret News. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  21. ^ Seibert, Fred (October 26, 2010). "Bad Dexter!". Fred Seibert's Blog. Frederator Blogs. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  22. ^ Plume, Kenneth (November 28, 2001). "10 Questions: Genndy Tartakovsky". IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  23. ^ Phares, Heather. "Dexter's Laboratory: The Hip Hop Experiment Review". Rovi. Retrieved 2011-05-27. 
  24. ^ "Quick Start Guide: Getting Started". Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  25. ^ "Graduation: Mt. Neverest". Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  26. ^ Lacey, Gord (June 6, 2006). "Home Theatre Forum Warner Bros Chat Transcript - Part 2". Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  27. ^ a b Lambert, David. "Dexter's Laboratory - Enter Dexter's Lab At Long Last...Season 1 DVDs Announced!". Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  28. ^ "Dexter's Laboratory, Season 1". Apple. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  29. ^ "Dexter's Laboratory - Ego Trip [VHS] (1996)". Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  30. ^ "Dexter's Laboratory - Greatest Adventures [VHS] (1996)". Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  31. ^ "Dexter's Laboratory "Dexter's Greatest Adventures"". Archived from the original on 2001-09-08. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  32. ^ "Cartoon Network on DVD - Dexter's Laboratory Season 1 (2 Disc Set)". Madman Entertainment. Retrieved 2011-05-27. 
  33. ^ "Cartoon Network on DVD - Dexter's Laboratory Season 2 Part 1 (2 Disc Set)". Madman Entertainment. Retrieved 2011-05-27. 
  34. ^ "72, Dexter's Laboratory". IGN. 2009-01-23. Retrieved 2011-06-30. 

External links

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