How Kim Possible Started a New Era of Animation

Over the years, Disney Channel has released a number of original series and movies. One of these inaugural series, Kim possible, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. In the years following his debut, Kim possible inspired Disney to create several animated series. Also, like many other cartoons, it transitioned from episodic cartoon to TV movie. It sparked a trend of female-led action cartoons and is still a beloved series to this day. Even the genesis of the series, while relatively straightforward, was unorthodox.

Creators Bob Schooley and Marc McCorkle had worked on several series for Disney, including the toy story spin off Star Command’s Buzz Lightyear, and were looking to create an original series. Coincidentally, Disney Channel was looking to develop a new animated series. As he rode an elevator, McCorkle turned to Schooley and said, “Kim Possible. She can do anything.” Schooley’s response: “Ron Stoppable, he can’t.” From this simple exchangethe series was born: the teenager Kim Possible (Christy CarsonRomano) and his best friend Ron Stoppable (Will Friedle), with Ron’s naked mole-rat, Rufus (Nancy Cartwright) juggled schoolwork with protecting the world from super-villains, including mad scientist Dr. Drakken (John DiMaggio).

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One of Kim possibleThe biggest features of were its voice cast; it had several Disney Channel veterans, including Corbeau-Symoné as Kim Monique’s friend and musical high school alum Ashley Tisdale like the evil shapeshifter Camille Leon. Romano was also a Disney Channel vet, as she was best known for her role in Even Stevens. Veteran actors would show up for guest or recurring roles, including Adam West as a Batman-style vigilante called the Fearless Ferret and Ricardo Montalban as billionaire-turned-villain Senor Senor Senor. Even a veteran of Schooley and McCorkle’s earlier work was on the show: Nicole Sullivanwho voiced Mira Nova on Buzz Lightningended up filling the role of Shego, Drakken’s right-hand man.

Kim possible also served as a variation on the usual action-adventure cartoons. In other cartoons, the male protagonist is the main character while the female character is either a damsel in distress or just along the way; here the roles are reversed as Kim does most of the world saving while Ron acts as the comic relief. This also extends to villains, especially Drakken and Shego. Despite being a self-proclaimed “criminal mastermind”, most of Drakken’s schemes usually end in failure. Shego, on the other hand, is the more skilful and pragmatic of the pair despite being the sidekick – and never misses an opportunity to ridicule Drakkon.

The show also wasn’t afraid to dip its toes into multiple genres during its run. There were sci-fi elements (especially in stories involving Drakkon), fantasy elements (Ron went to a boarding school for ninjas in one episode, and he and his recurring nemesis Monkey Fist (Tom Kane) relied on “mystical monkey power”), and even elements of espionage (Kim often performed stunts that rivaled those seen in a Impossible mission Where james bond movie, and Senor Senor Senor was a send-off of Bond villains like Dr. No.) Even the superhero genre was the subject of a few episodes, including one where Ron became the new fearless ferret in an obvious homage to Friedle’s time on batman beyond. Schooley and McCorkle would even go on to bring superhero stories to Disney, as they were the co-writers in 2005’s. sky high and helped develop Big Hero 6: The Series.


But what Kim possible is best known for having a heroine that dealt with everyday issues as well as apocalyptic issues. Along with protecting the world from evil, Kim had to go to high school and lead the cheerleading squad – and episodes have focused on how her double life could be a strain. A perfect example is the episode “Tick, Tick, Tick”: when Kim is late to class after an assignment, her teacher Mr. Barkin (Patrick Warburton) gives it a carry. Kim objects, saying she’s a cheerleader and cheerleaders don’t hold back. It comes back to bite her when, during a battle with Drakkon and Shego, a miniature explosive attaches itself to her face – and her salvation rests in the hands of her classmates in detention, as well as Ron.

Kim possible was also at the forefront of a wave of female-led action cartoons. In its wake came The Life and Times of Juniper Lee on Cartoon Network, My life as a teenage robot on Nickelodeon, and WITCH, all of which featured a female protagonist who, you guessed it, had to balance her schoolwork with heroism. And although Kim possible wasn’t Disney Channel’s first animated original – that honor goes to The proud family — his success opened the doors to him for animated series including American Dragon Jake Long, Gravity Fallsand The owl house.

The biggest step that Kim possible realized was to escape cancellation due to fan support. Like most Disney Channel Original series, it was slated to go into production for three seasons and a total of 65 episodes. However, fans started online petitions and emails to campaign for more episodes. This push, compared to the success of the feature film Film Kim Possible: Then the drama, led Disney Channel to greenlight the fourth season. While renewal campaigns for canceled TV series are commonplace (Star Trek: The Original Series remains the best example), Kim possible is one of the first times this has happened for an anime series.

Although the anime series ended in 2007, Kim possible fans got a chance to see their favorite teenage hero again when Disney Channel launched a live-action adaptation in 2019. Schooley and McCorkle served as executive producers on the show and also contributed to its script; Ironically the two had written a live adaptation of Kim Possible between the two the first two seasons of the seriesbut it fell through and they ended up working on sky high. The wait seems worth it because Sadie sink and Sean Giamborone slip effortlessly into the roles of Kim and Ron, and animated series veterans make cameos – including Patton Oswalt reprising his role as Professor Dementor as well as Romano introducing himself. With all of Kim possible available to stream on Disney+, fans will no doubt rewatch the series this year and remember why it’s still a classic 20 years after its debut.


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