Dexter's Laboratory (commonly abbreviated as Dexter's Lab) is the first Cartoon Cartoon, created by Genndy Tartakovsky, creator of Samurai Jack, for Cartoon Network. The series follows Dexter, a boy-genius with a secret laboratory filled with his inventions. He constantly battles his sister Dee Dee, who always gains access despite his best efforts to keep her out, as well as his arch-rival and neighbor, Mandark. The series' first two seasons contain additional segments: Dial M for Monkey, which focuses on Dexter's pet lab-monkey-turned-superhero, and The Justice Friends, about a trio of superheroes who share an apartment.
Tartakovsky first pitched the series to Hanna-Barbera's animated shorts showcase World Premiere Toons, basing it on student films he produced while attending the California Institute of the Arts. A pilot aired on Cartoon Network in February 1995, and in August viewer approval ratings convinced the network to order a half-hour series, which premiered on April 28, 1996. By 1999, 52 episodes and a television movie had been produced, and Tartakovsky then left the series to begin work on his other projects, Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars. In 2001, the network revived the series under a different production team at Cartoon Network Studios, and after 26 more episodes, the series ended on November 20, 2003.
Dexter's Laboratory received high ratings and became one of Cartoon Network's most popular and successful original series. During its run, the series was nominated for 4 Primetime Emmy Awards, 4 Golden Reel Awards, and 9 Annie Awards, winning 3 additional Annie Awards. The series is notable for helping launch the careers of several cartoonists, such as Craig McCracken (The Powerpuff Girls, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends and Wander Over Yonder), Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, American Dad! and The Cleveland Show), Butch Hartman (The Fairly OddParents, Danny Phantom and T.U.F.F. Puppy), and Rob Renzetti (My Life as a Teenage Robot). Spin-off media include comic books, DVD and VHS releases, music albums, collectible toys, and video games.
Dexter's Laboratory was inspired by one of Genndy Tartakovsky's drawings of a ballerina. After drawing her tall and thin shape, he decided to pair her with a short and blocky opposite, Dexter. In 1991, Tartakovsky made his first "Dexter" short. On February 20, 1995, Dexter's Laboratory made its first run on What a Cartoon! Show. In March 1996, the first season began airing. Directors and writers on the series included Genndy Tartakovsky, Rumen Petkov, Craig McCracken, Seth MacFarlane, Butch Hartman, Rob Renzetti, Paul Rudish, Mark O'Hare, John McIntyre and Chris Savino.
Dexter's Laboratory ended its initial run in 1999, with the series finale being the episode "Last But Not Beast", but re-entered production in 2001. 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 and Star Wars: Clone Wars. The second series featured new character and background designs, alternative storyline and character backgrounds, and different sound effects (which were mostly all classic Hanna-Barbera sound effects). Also, Dexter's voice actress changed from Christine Cavanaugh to Candi Milo.
On November 18, 2001, Cartoon Network aired the 12-hour "Dexter Goes Global" marathon in 96 countries and 12 languages. The marathon featured fan-selected episodes of Dexter's Laboratory and culminated with the premiere of the first two episodes of season 3.
On January 16, 2006, the series began airing in reruns on Cartoon Network's sister channel Boomerang; the occasion was marked by a 12-hour Martin Luther King, Jr. Day marathon.
The show was rerun on Cartoon Network during weekday mornings from November 8, 2010 until March 4, 2011. On March 30, 2012, the series returned to Cartoon Network in the United States in reruns on the revived block, Cartoon Planet. The Canadian version of Cartoon Network airs reruns as well, with the series being featured on the channel's launch on July 4, 2012. The launch was commemorated by parent network Teletoon, which aired Cartoon Network-related programming blocks and promotions in the weeks leading up to the event, including episodes of Dexter's Laboratory.
On January 22, 2013, Adult Swim uploaded the never-aired episode Rude Removal. It has since disappeared from Youtube.
The series revolves around a boy genius named Dexter who has a secret laboratory filled with highly advanced equipment that is hidden behind a bookshelf in his bedroom. Access to this seemingly endless laboratory is achieved by speaking various passwords or by activating hidden switches hidden on the bookcase (such as pulling out a specific book). Another mean of lab access is a retinal scanner. Dexter is normally in conflict with his ditzy older sister Dee Dee who has an uncanny talent for gaining access to Dexter's lab despite his best efforts to keep her out. Dee Dee eludes all manner of lab security and once inside, delights in playing in the lab, often destroying many of Dexter's inventions and creations. For reasons left unexplained, Dexter still manages to keep his lab a secret from his clueless, cheerful parents. In the beginning of the series Dee Dee is the only other character who knows about his lab, in several episodes however, he is forced to reveal the lab to his parents, although all of these episodes end with all of his parents memories being wiped. Dexter also has an arch-nemesis, another boy genius named Susan "Mandark" Astronominov. Mandark often competes with Dexter and tries to outdo him any chance he gets, examples of this include: a school science fair, a soapbox derby, etc. Mandark is also secretly in love with Dee Dee.
Episodes from the first two seasons of Dexter's Laboratory were usually divided into three segments, with each segment being a separate Dexter's Laboratory cartoon. Occasionally, the middle segment centered around characters from the Dexter's Laboratory universe other than Dexter and his family. Two of these segments were shown, primarily during the first season: "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. The Dial M for Monkey characters sometimes appear in the Justice Friends segments and vice versa, though Dexter and Dee Dee only appear in the Dial M for Monkey segments.
Mini-segments were played during the first two seasons between the main three segments, which involve Dexter and Dee Dee in various scenarios. There were also several live-action segments featuring "The Puppet Pals", a fictional TV show sometimes seen in the main segments. "The Puppet Pals" are two puppets named Puppet Pal Mitch (voiced by Rob Paulsen) and Puppet Pal Clem (voiced by Tom Kenny), presumably parodies of Ernie and Bert from Sesame Street. These segments involve Puppet Pal Clem telling Puppet Pal Mitch a joke, with the punchline being a pun on the word "bonk". Puppet Pal Mitch would then bonk Puppet Pal Clem on the head with a foam-padded stick.
Dial M for Monkey
A segment that airs between two Dexter's Laboratory segments during the first half of the first season. in the segment Dexter's pet lab monkey (voiced by Frank Welker), who was given superpowers through Dexter's experiments (unbeknownst to Dexter), fights crime as a masked superhero. Monkey is joined by his partner Agent Honeydew (voiced by Kath Soucie), the Commander General (voiced originally by Robert Ridgely and later Earl Boen), and sometimes "The Justice Friends". This is a spoof of DC's comic book Dial H for Hero.
Monkey - Dexter's lab monkey whom he often experiments on, trying to give hime superpowers. Unbeknownst to Dexter his experiments were successful and Monkey takes on the superhero persona of "Monkey".
Agent Honeydew - Monkey's sidekick and girlfriend, who can ask Monkey for help with her telepathic abilities. She has short black hair with curly bangs and wears a blue S.H.I.E.L.D.-style jumpsuit.
Commander - parody of Marvel Comics' Nick Fury. He is the head of Global Security whose main duty is to monitor the Earth for any signs of danger. He is never seen outside of a TV monitor, even when at a barbeque in the episode "Barbequor".
A segment that airs between two Dexter's Laboratory segments during the second half of the first season and one episode of the second season.
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 with the three trying to balance out their superhero adventures while just trying to keep their composure while living together in the apartment. Most of these adventures play out like a sitcom along with a laugh track, used in a satirical manner. The name derives from the Justice League and the Super Friends.
Major Glory - parody of Captain America with some traits of Marvel's Superman. Nephew of Uncle Sam.
Infraggable Krunk - parody of the Incredible Hulk. Color is reversed of Hulk. Krunk is kinder than Hulk, but still speaks in poor English, "You want Krunk smash?" He calls Major Glory "Flagman", similar to Hulk referring to Iron Man as "Metal Man".
Valhallen - combination of Valhalla and Van Halen. A parody of Thor. Has hard rock/heavy metal powers. Has a "surfer dude" personality.
Dexter's Laboratory broadcast 78 half-hour episodes over 4 seasons during its 7-year run. Two pilot shorts were produced for World Premiere Toons that aired in 1995 and 1996 and were subsequently fused into the series' first season. Fifty-two episodes were produced over the original run from 1996 to 1998, which was followed by the TV movie Ego Trip in 1999.
An additional 26 episodes were produced and broadcast from 2001 to 2003. The short "Chicken Scratch" debuted theatrically with The Powerpuff Girls Movie in 2002 and was later broadcast as a segment in the series' fourth and final season.
Possible second revival
In February 2015, BuzzFeed stated that with the CGI special of Courage the Cowardly Dog in production (the special finally premiered in 2014), there are chances of bring back Dexter's Lab, along Johnny Bravo, to Cartoon Network.
Dexter along with Dee Dee (deceased), Mandark (deceased), Lalavava, Mee Mee & Lee Lee, mom & dad, Agent Honeydew, and Monkey all make an appearance in PowerPuff Girls Doujinshi.
In Grim Tales Afterbirth, it is revealed that Dexter has an evil counterpart named Draxter (Drax for short)