So I started writing this post a few weeks ago when I was feeling uninspired and I realized something about myself as a writer. Usually, when I'm out of inspiration or my muse isn't talking to me or I just don't feel motivated to write in the least bit, I turn to a form of entertainment to refill my creative cup. Sometimes its books, but most of the time it's TV shows.
- They're creative: Yeah, that's a no brainer. But for real, they are. They're creative. Usually a little weird... Danny Phantom has a kid who's half ghost, half boy. Trollhunters? Guillermo del Toro wasn't on my writer radar until I started watching that series and I have to say it's one of the most creative and vibrant shows I've watched. Both Star Wars shows are wildly creative with expansive worldbuildling. Which leads me to my next point.
- Impressive Worldbuilding: I'll admit, there are a few that fall short in the worldbuilding department. Max Steel is the first to come to mind, but even then we're talking about an entire alien race so there has to be at least a decent amount of worldbuilding. I have always been so fascinated by the Ghost Zone in Danny Phantom. I loved how they delved deeper into that world as the series went on and you got to learn about the doors and dimensions and traveling through time and the islands and the ghost king and all that. Trollhunters, as I said, has the best worldbuilding I've seen in an animated TV show. Bright and vibrant and real with actual rules and a real troll society. It's seriously awesome. Then there's the animated Star Wars world. I was just talking to a friend the other day about how I've always been a Star Wars fan. Not huge or anything, but I liked them. But when I watched Clone Wars and then Rebels, I became a real Star Wars fan because I got to see real character development and worldbuilding on an enormous scale. I learned about the Mandalorians (my favorite people in the Star Wars world!) and the bounty hunters and explored whole worlds on those shows.
- They have less screen time which then makes it so the writers have to go straight for the good stuff and only put the best scenes in each episode: This is the truth. Normal animated shows have 22 minutes to 25 minutes at the most, so writers are forced to utilize that screen time and make the most of those 22-25 minute episodes. Which means they have to cram in the best of the best of their writing and character development and plots and stick by them. That's why so many of the episodes of animated shows pack a punch because the writers of those shows don't want to waste time giving us filler. They want to give us the best they have to offer.
- The characters may only have one outfit, but all good animated TV shows have three dimensional, relatable characters: I have to admit, the fact that most of the characters on these shows have exactly one change of clothes bugs me a bit, which is one of the reasons why I liked Kim Possible and X-Men Evolution so much. The characters have different changes of clothes! And could be seen shopping for different clothes. But other than the clothes part, all of the characters in the best of animated television are three dimensional and relatable. Again, it comes back to the writers knowing they have about 22-25 minutes per episode and at the very most ten episodes per season, so they want to give their viewers the best of their work. Which applies to characters too. They want to give views already developed characters with already developed relationships so that we don't have to go through the whole process of watching them become friends and wasting precious minutes having to go through whole episodes of characters meeting each other for the first time and becoming best friends and all that. Also, they all already have interests and fixations. Jim Lake from Trollhunters is an excellent cook and spends lots of time in the kitchen, he also knows some Spanish/splanglish and already has a best friend named Toby. Danny Phantom from, well, Danny Phantom wants to be an astronaut when he grows up and loves different bands and also has two already established best friends. The same goes for Kim Possible and Star Wars and X-Men Evolution.
- On characters, they also usually utilize character stereotypes and archetypes to create characters that are three dimensional: This is sort of the same as what I talked about above, only I wanted to point out that a lot of writers are told to break the stereotype and be original and creative with your characters. But some of the best characters I know on these shows are stereotypical with a twist and are archetypes. There's the vegetarian Goth girl, the tech geek, the popular, pretty girl who isn't very smart. They also use common plot devices and tropes in these shows, two things that writers are warned to be careful with, and they use them correctly, utilizing them to make the shows better and pack a punch like I've already said repeatedly.
- They always have epic fight scenes and super powers/mythical powers. Some of my favorite animated series have the chosen one, or that one character that is different from the rest: I love a good original plot and characters, but I am a sucker for the good old fashioned cliché plots and characters, which maybe, is why I love animated shows so much. I love the Chosen One plot. I love going on an epic quest or learning how to be a superhero. I love when the main character gets a power out of nowhere and has to learn how to use them. Danny Phantom, Trollhunters, Ahsoka Tano and Ezra Bridger from both Star Wars shows. Max Steel, X-Men Evolution, and even Kim Possible! The hero/spy/crime fighting high school cheer leader. Those sorts of plots are the best and I can never get enough of the chosen one!
- Sidekicks are a thing: Sidekicks are the best and usually double as the best friend/group of friends. Ron is sort of Kim's sidekick. Toby in Trollhunters. Sam and Tucker from Danny Phantom. Steel from Max Steel. Sidekicks can also double as antagonists or the mentor or the parent or the love interest. Sam is all three. Best friend, sidekick, and love interest. Again, something animated show writers excel at. Using sidekicks to make their shows dynamic.
- They always have epic outfit designs. Armor, superhero suits: Their costumes/outfits are the best! Jim Lake in his armor and sword (awesome!). Danny Phantom and his whole look when he goes ghost with the glowing eyes and the white hair and the outfit? (The best!) Kim Possible's green cargo pants and black shirt and gloves are iconic (to me anyways). And all of the X-Men's outfits in X-Men Evolution? They are so sticken' awesome! The Mandelorian's armor/helmet/overall looks are probably my favorite looks/armor in the entire Star Wars universe. The artists who work on making these characters real and presentable are just amazing, especially when it comes to their creativity about their characters outfits.
- The cool objects/weapons that the main character/characters get to have: Trollhunter sword, lightsaber, plasma blasts, techy gadgets and gizmos, you name it. Alien technology, superpowers, the Dark Saber in Star Wars Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels is particularly epic!
- The villains are always on point: My favoritest thing in all animated shows are the villains. They are always on point and have surprising depth and backstories. From looking at some of these kids shows you can't imagine there being any sort of depth or character development in the villains. That the villains are just there to make the protagonist's life hard, but that is not true. At least not completely. I think I enjoy the villains in these shows because I've become so used to the morally gray, oh I love him (Loki) villains. You feel bad for them, love them more than you love to hate them and can see their perspective. They sometimes do the right thing and become good people, but overall that doesn't happen a whole lot in animated shows. X-Men Evolution is a diamond in the rough because they do have Magneto and the Brotherhood and Mystique who all walk a fine line between hating the X-Men and wanting to join them. They all have personal connections to the X-Men. Magneto has a deep backstory with Charles and Jean and Scott. Mystique has a past with Rogue and Curt. Lance has a thing with Kitty and more than once the Brotherhood are helping the X-Men out and the X-Men are helping them. Some eve switch sides. One of the X-Men joins the Brotherhood and one of the Brotherhood attempts to be a hero. This also can be seen in both Star Wars shows. But overall, most of the other shows are pretty standard. The villain is the villain, yet they have backstories and depth and make you understand why they are doing what they are doing. Most of the time though, you love to hate them, which is refreshing. One of my favorites is Angor Rot from Trollhunters. He has a backstory that makes you almost feel bad for him, he looks sticken' awesome and heck, the guy chips pieces of himself off and carves them into golems and enchanted pieces of stone! Vlad Plasmius from Danny Phantom was a pretty funny and epic antagonist/villain because Danny and him had so much in common and it was personal for both of them. Shego was awesome from Kim Possible and no one can tell me otherwise.
What do you think of animated TV shows? What inspires you when you're in a writing rut?
Have a great week everyone!!