25 Awesome Secrets About Disney's Recess That Make Us Want To Go Back To School

Disney's Recess has a lot of secrets hidden in it — true fans of the classic cartoon have a lot to know.

Everyone loved recess. It was that special time in a kid’s day where they could get out of the classroom, go outside, and play. For some, that meant creating intricate stories and acting them out with friends in a game of pretend. For others, it was playing their favorite sport in a huge group or hanging out on the jungle gym. No matter what though, it was the best time of day. So, naturally, any show that focused solely on recess was bound to be awesome.

On August 31, 1997, the first episode of Recess aired on ABC before eventually getting picked up by Disney. The animated series focus on six main protagonists: T.J. Detwiler, Vince LaSalle, Ashley Spinelli, Gretchen Grundler, Mikey Blumberg, and Gus Griswald. Not only was the show smartly written, but it really captured what it was like to be a kid. They struggled with playground politics, substitute teachers, conspiracy theories, and trying not to get eaten by Kindergarteners.

With six seasons, 127 episodes and 4 movies the show made a big impression on kids in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. There is also a lot of stuff that’s easy to miss and plenty of secrets you probably didn’t know. If you want to learn even more about your favorite cartoons, check out 25 Nickelodeon Shows That Fans Pretend Don’t Exist.

25 The Unaired Pilot

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Pilot episodes are arguably the most important episodes of a show. Creators pitch the ideas of their show and often make a single pilot episode. This not only gives the studios an idea of what the show will be like, but it is also used to convince audiences to become invested in the new show. Needless to say, it’s important that these are done right. It isn’t unusual for shows to create a number of different pilots before finally settling on the finished product. Recess’ official pilot episode is “The Break In.” However, the version we saw and what it started out as are two very different things.

There is an unaired version of “The Break In” that is wildly different from what eventually aired.

For one, it was just an animatic. Essentially, it was just a painted storyboard with sound effects, music, and voice acting. It also featured wildly different character designs. Unfortunately, there is no way to watch the pilot. As far as we know, it’s gone for good. You can still see a few scraps of the unaired episode in the initial “sneak peak” of the show. It’s just a shame that we only have scraps and snippets of the unaired pilot.

24 The First And Last Lines

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T.J. Detwiler is one of the most recognizable characters from Recess and the leader of the Wiley Recess band. Whenever there is trouble, you can always count on him to have a plan. While there isn’t any one main character, T.J. often claims the spotlight, with more episodes devoted to him than any of the other characters. What’s more, the first and last lines of the series belong to T.J.

“The Break In” (season 1, episode 1) focused on the main gang (minus Gus) trying to help free T.J. from detention. The episode opens with T.J. remarking “Tomato Surprise. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the lunchroom.” Naturally, the cafeteria food is inedible. So T.J. tries to sneak into the kitchen in an attempt to get better food. He is caught almost instantly and sentenced to detention during Recess. The main gang go to great lengths to rescue their friend. Eventually, they manage to get the whole playground involved; everyone from King Bob to the Kindergarten's chip in to try and rescue T.J.

The very last episode of Recess, “Lost Leader” (season 6, episode 5), opens with the gang in mid-operation to save their lucky baseball bat from the Ashleys’ Clubhouse. Not only does the plan fail, Gus is injured in the process. T.J. loses his confidence. The rest of the episode is divided between restoring T.J.’s confidence as a leader and retrieving their lucky bat. In the final scene, Vince breaks a window and T.J. turns to him saying the words we all know and love: “I have a plan.”

23 The Creators Can’t Draw Their Way Out Of A Paper Bag

via: Recess Animation Camp

One would think that the most important skill a creator of an animated show needs is the ability to draw. After all, the visual style and animation are key to the success of a cartoon. Most cartoon creators design characters, create storyboards, and help to animate their shows. Not the creators of Recess. As ridiculous as it sounds, show creators Paul Germain and Joe Ansolabehere admitted that they don’t actually know how to draw. They even made their confession during an extra video segment in the movie Recess: School's Out. Because of this, Recess is a script-driven cartoon.

This means that the script is written and recorded before a single frame or storyboard is drawn.

Other script-driven cartoons include Hey Arnold!, Gravity Falls, and Codename: Kids Next Door.

Recess was one of the first shows in Disney’s, at the time, a new initiative to bring in more creator-driven shows. It started out as an experiment. The success of Recess helped to pave the way for other creator-driven shows in the future. These include Gravity Falls, Phineas and Ferb, and Star vs the Forces of Evil. It just goes to show that letting the creative people do their thing helps to foster success.

22 Based On Real People

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Write what you know. That saying is one often tossed around the literary world. It’s common for writers to take inspiration from their real life and incorporate it into your characters, setting, and plot. Naturally, all the main characters in Recess are based on people Paul and Joe know.

Spinelli was based off of a classmate and she shares her name with her real life counterpart. Paul and Joe stated that the real Spinelli was the coolest person they knew, thus making her fictional character a natural inclusion to the show. T.J. was based on a friend Joe had in kindergarten named J.P. Heck, T.J.'s name was initially going to be P.J. While they said that P.J. stood for Paul and Joe in a movie extra, it’s not hard to see where there are other inspirations for the name. Gretchen’s real life counterpart is Paul’s wife Beatrice. He first met her when they were kids. Paul’s other friend from elementary school was immortalized into the show as Vince. Joe’s little brother Lewy was also added into the show in the form of the lovable giant Mikey. The final member of the gang, Gus, is a reflection of how Joe and Paul see themselves

21 McDonald Sweepstakes

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Who doesn’t remember the various promotions that McDonald's got into in the 90s? All of those fun, cheap, plastic toys that you got with your Happy Meals were enough to make any kid’s day. Plus they typically offered a variety for you to collect. Many of these toy lines were tie-ins to help promote shows and movies. In 1998, Recess got its own line of Happy Meals toys and a few cringe-worthy commercials to help promote it. Each toy also had its own sports theme. T.J. played hockey, Gretchen was tennis, Gus got golf, Vince shot a basketball, Spinelli played baseball, Mikey kicked a soccer ball, and Miss Finster had a dodgeball for some reason. Each toy came with a large ball color and patterned to fit the appropriate sport. Of course, since they were McDonald's toys, they weren’t the finest quality toys around.

McDonald’s also ran a sweepstakes in addition to the toy-line. It was called “Be on Recess.” The winner, a young boy named Morgan, had his likeness animated into “The Rules” (season 4, episode 14). He also won a trip to Disneyland. In addition, five first place winners received a Recess themed party at their house. Twenty-five other kids who won second place received $1,000 in savings bonds. Lucky kids.

20 The Recess Comic

via: recess.wikia.com

It’s not unusual for shows to get comic book spinoffs. Heck, it’s a pretty common practice. These comics tend to take one of three forms: original stories, retellings of episodes, or continuation of canon. The original stories take place during the show’s run while retellings are just the episodes in comic book format. Avatar: The Last Airbender fans know the continuation of canon comics well because of The Promise and The Search.

Recess has its own run of comics. The comics were published in Disney’s Adventures Magazine. The magazine ran throughout the 90s before it was eventually canceled and the comics were never reprinted. Recess was first featured in the September 1997 issue with Recess Rocks! However, because these comics were never reprinted there are exceedingly rare and valuable collectors items.

Recess, in addition to the comics, also had two books printed based off of two episodes: “The Experiment” and “The Great Jungle Gym Standoff.” Both books feature the name of their episode counterpart. “The Experiment” (season 1, episode 3) retells the story of how T.J. and Spinelli kissed for the good of science. “The Great Jungle Gym Standoff” (season 1, episode 4) focused on the kids trying to save their beloved Old Rusty from the Principles plans to tear it down.

19 Picture Managed To Sneak By

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Cartoons, especially Disney cartoons, are always careful about what they air on television and in movies. Censorship boards screen each episode carefully and dictate what can and can’t be shown to children. One of the big taboos of these cartoons is blood. Anything from a simple scrape too much more serious injuries are typically left bare and dry. Even Recess is no exception — for the most part.

There is one episode where a small amount of liquid red managed to slip past.

“Big Ol’ Mikey” (season 5 episode 6) was one of the cornier episodes by far. It focused on Mikey’s inner turmoil as he struggled with the idea of becoming a 50 foot monstrosity. One would think that the blood might show up when, in a dream, the giant Mikey destroys an entire city and tears apart skyscrapers in a Godzilla like fashion. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if the whole point of the episode was to make an homage to old monster movies. However, you don’t see any blood from Mikey’s action. The actual scene in question occurs less than a minute into the episode where Mikey consoles a crying Cornchip Girl as she clutches her scraped, bloody knee.

18 Fear the Box

via: recess.wikia.com

In the episode “The Box” (season 1, episode 15) Miss Finster devises a new way to punish children through the cunning use of lines. All joking aside, the box is actually an ingenious and horrendous punishment that brings T.J to the brink of insanity. Total social isolation on a hot blacktop for twelve minutes is tough as a kid. It breaks poor T.J. He even starts to hallucinate. Thankfully, all is solved by the end of the episode.

Yet, the episode hides a dark secret. It is based on real events.

Paul and Joe often used their own childhoods as inspiration for the episodes of Recess. However, there is only so much material that they could use before it became too dated for 90s kids. So, in an effort to keep things more relevant, Paul and Joe interviewed various kids about their experiences in schools. “The Box” was based on a story one of the children told them. Funnily enough, Paul and Joe initially thought it was an actual box. The episode would have featured T.J. trapped in a metal box. However, they were quickly corrected and changed the idea to the chalk box that we see in the final version of the episode.

17 Five Children And One Adult


Child actors are tricky. They are notorious for their underwhelming and unintentionally hilarious performances. On top of that, long-running TV shows run into problems when their kids grow out of the roles they were hired to play. It’s hard to be a convincing 10-year-old when you’re five feet tall and your voice cracks every two seconds. This becomes a serious problem if the character is animated and doesn’t age. In order to get around this, most shows will simply hire talented adults to play the roles. For example, Nancy Cartwright plays ten-year-old Bart Simpson in The Simpsons.

Recess bucked this trend. For the most part. Vince, Gretchen, Gus, Mikey, and T.J. were all played by kids!

This was a very deliberate decision. Paul and Joe went on record to say that they hired child actors in order to get more authentic child voices. However, Spinelli is the odd woman out here, literally. Pamela Adlon was 30 years old when she voiced Spinelli! Despite her age, Pamela doesn’t sound out of place and Spinelli is loved by many Recess fans. It’s never stated why they hired Pamela for Spinelli, but she did a terrific job and gave Spinelli a unique voice.

16 Travel To Third Street School

via: disney.wikia.com

Have you ever wanted to visit Third Street School? On the one hand, it has that amazing jungle gym and gigantic yard for recess. The characters would be a blast to hang out with too. You could join the Diggers in their hole, climb Old Rusty, help Swinger Girl go over the top of the swing set, and run for your life from Kindergarteners. Although, I personally wouldn’t want to run into Miss Finster.

We don’t really know too much about the school. It was named after the street it sits on and its founder Thaddeus T. Third III. The first class was held in 1928. Beyond that, it’s all conjecture and a mystery. We don’t even know where Third Street is located!

Many people suspect Arkansas. However, despite what little we know, it is possible to visit Third Street; or at least, the school it was based on.

Paul and Joe modeled the school in Recess off of a real elementary school, also named Third Street, in Los Angeles. All three of Paul’s children attended the school during the show’s run. Pauls aunt and father also attended the school way back in the 1930s. No wonder they named the school in Recess Third Street.

15 Miss Finster And Chuckie Finster

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Miss Muriel P. Finster is the teacher we all love to hate. She’s quick to anger and even quicker to punish. Granted, the mischievous antics of the main Recess gang certainly deserve punishment every now and again. Yet, Miss Finster clearly reveals in their misery whenever she doles out a punishment. In “The Box” (season 1, episode 15) she intentionally leaves T.J. in the box an extra two minutes just so she can enjoy his suffering. Miss Finster was designed to be the main antagonist of the series and she does her job well in that regard. Every child in Third Street fears her wrath.

Yet, she may just be related to everyone’s favorite redhead from The Rugrats, Chuckie Finster — or at least, that’s what one fan theory says.

The common last name isn’t the only thing Chuckie and Muriel share. Creators Paul and Joe both worked extensively on The Rugrats extensively before creating Recess. Unfortunately, there is no definitive proof in either show that points to the relationship between Chuckie and Muriel. However, it’s probably more than just a coincidence. Most likely, Miss Finster received her name as a small homage to the show both creators worked on.

14 Timely Cancellation

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It is always sad when a show gets canceled, especially one as beloved and long-running as Recess. Fans sign petitions and protest to try and save their favorite shows, but it’s not always enough. To make matters worse, it’s not always clear why a show was canceled in the first place. A lot of people point to ratings. After all, if a show doesn’t get enough rating then the produces were drop it like a hot potato. Sometimes, fans will cry conspiracy and say it was because of a show’s message or one of the producers had it in for the creators.

Recess’s cancellation was a more than little confusing to fans. The show was still pretty popular at the time and had high ratings. Yet, the reason behind the discontinuation was simple: Disney wanted new shows. As weak as that reason may seem, it happens all the time. Fan favorite shows like Danny Phantom, Fairly Odd Parents (the first five times), and Recess are often dropped to make room for new shows. By canceling Recess, Disney made room for Lloyd in Space, another show created by Paul and Joe. A lot of the creative team and voice actors from Recess continued to work with Paul and Joe, lending their talents to Lloyd in Space.

13 Secret Agent Spinelli

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Most kids are embarrassed by their parents and rightfully so. Heck, a lot of parents will openly admit that embarrassing their kids is just part of the job description. It's an unpleasant right of passage for all children. Spinelli is no different. In the episode “Parents’ Night” (season 1, episode 3) Spinelli is so embarrassed of her parents that she goes to some rather extreme lengths to try and keep them out of her school. When her friends ask her why her parents can’t attend Parents’ Night, she spins a number of increasingly ridiculous tall tales. Throughout the episode, Spinelli claims that her parents are eating dinner at the White House, going into space, or are secret agents. At one point, she even tries to hire a random couple to pretend to be her parents, only for her real mom and dad to show up at school.

Plenty of kids claim their parents are secret agents in an attempt to make their parents seem cooler than they actually are. However, while Spinelli probably thought she was lying, the end of the episode reveals that she was telling the truth! Her father, Bob, picks up a call made to his shoe and answers it as Agent 006. While this is obviously a reference to the famous 007, James Bond, it also means that canonically, Spinelli’s dad is, in fact, a secret agent.

12 Disney Cameos

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Cameos are pretty common for shows, especially when the creators had their hands in other works or managed to secure the rights to certain characters. After all, who doesn’t want to pay homage to the things they love? Plus it makes things a little more fun for fans when we see our favorite characters pop up in unexpected places. Well, since Recess is owned by Disney, that meant that the creators were able to include rather famous characters in the background of their shows. Owl from Winnie the Pooh makes an appearance in “Bachelor Gus” (season 4, episode 22). It’s a blink and you’ll miss it moment. However, Pluto gets a little more love when he floats by the school cafeteria window on a dog house in “Rainy Days” (season 1, episode 19). Pluto’s appearance also acts as an homage to Snoopy from Peanuts who often hangs out on the top of his dog house. The houses even sport the same red roof and white walls.

The creators of Recess used a variety of other shows as inspirations for characters and plots. Chad LaSalle, Vince’s older brother, is a clear reference to Steve Urkel from Family Matters. In “Lord of the Nerds” (season 3, episode 10) the kids play Daggers and Dragons, an obvious illusion to the table top game Dungeons & Dragons.

11 Avengers Assemble

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Believe it or not, Gretchen appears in the 2012 Avengers movie. Well, her voice actor does at least. Yes, I know, it’s not nearly as exciting as the actual Gretchen appearing in the movie. However, the amazing Ashley Johnson, who voiced Gretchen as a child, made a small appearance in the Avengers as a waitress. Her role in the movie was rather limited as she just gave an interview at the end of the movie. Originally, Ashley had a slightly bigger part to play. In the deleted scene, she runs around a ruined New York, trying to escape the chaos, only to get rounded up by Chitauri with a bunch of other civilians. Captain America eventually rushes in and saves everyone. Unfortunately, the scene was ultimately deleted.

Fans of The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part II will also recognize Ashley as she plays the voice of Ellie, while Ben 10 fans know her as Gwen Tennyson. Heck, just one scroll through Ashley’s impressive IMDb page and you’re bound to hit one franchise or another that she has lent her talents too. While none of these characters are actually Gretchen, it’s still fun to think that Captain America saved our favorite science nerd from aliens.

10 The Many Voices Of T.J

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Speaking of voice actors aging out of their parts, T.J. had a serious issue with this. He was played by four different actors over the course of the show. That’s more than any of the other characters. Ross Malinger had the honor of playing T.J first. He had the role for 28 episodes, which included all of season one and part of season 2. Unlucky episode number 13 of season 2, “The Hypnotist,” was the last episode to feature Ross. After that, Andrew Lawrence took over for the rest of the episodes. If you listen carefully, you can even hear the differences between the two actors. Even so, Andrew was able to mimic Ross’s performance while still adding his own flavor to the character.

Ross and Andrew weren’t the only kids to claim the voice of T.J. I did say four kids played the character. In Recess: School’s Out, Randy Crenshaw sang as T.J. during the song “Green Tambourine.” Axel Alba was the last actor to voice T.J. However, he never played T.J. on the show or in the movie. Instead he acted as T.J. in the Lilo & Stitch: The Series crossover episode. Speaking of…

9 There Was A Crossover With Lilo & Stitch

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Anyone who remembers the commercials from 2002 knows that Stitch loves crossovers. There are s series of commercials features Stitch crashing, sometimes literally, into other famous Disney movies. Each time, one of the characters would tell Stitch to get his own movie. Well, he did a little more than that. He got his own TV show to boot. As per tradition, the show featured several crossovers with other Disney titles including American Dragon: Jake Long, Kim Possible, The Proud Family, and Recess.

The episode “Lax: Experiment #285” was the 21st episode in season 2. It features T.J. and the gang as they help Lilo catch one of the alien experiments before it can put the entire island on permanent vacation. Funny enough, at over 22 minutes, that also makes the episode the longest Recess episode. Most of the Recess episodes only lasted around 12 minutes. It is also one of the strangest Recess episodes.

Surprisingly, the crossover episode was not the first episode to feature aliens. It wasn’t even the first episode to have aliens as a canonical fact. You read that right. In “The Experiment” (season 1, episode 3) one of the kids is dropped off at the playground by a flying saucer after they kidnapped him.

8 Cell Block Siblings

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Three of the characters have older siblings: Vince, T.J., and Spinelli. The first older sibling we are introduced to is Vince’s brother Chad in “Big Brother Chad” (season 1, episode 10). At first, all the kids seem to look up to Chad. Half the episode is spent with the other students just fawning over their memories of him. However, once we finally see him it’s revealed that Chad is nothing more than a geek who’s nice to younger kids.

Becky, T.J.’s older sister, gets a mention during the show but we don’t actually see her until the movie Recess: School’s Out and the direct to video episode compilations. She gets more screen time than Chad, but only plays a minor role in the movie. Becky is also a lot older than Chad and has a job at the Floppy Burger.

Spinelli’s big brother Joey is only ever mentioned a handful of times and he's never seen in the show or the movies. Although, it’s pretty clear why. The first time he’s mentioned was in “First Name Ashley” (season 1, episode 5). Spinelli just recounted a story with him in it. The next time he’s mentioned, in “Operation Field Trip” (season 2, episode 8), Spinelli says that Joey majored in auto repair in prison! That’s right, Joey is locked up. We don’t know what he did, but it was bad enough that he got his degree in jail.

7 Moving Into The Fifth Grade

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Any Recess fan knows that T.J. and the gang are in the 4th grade. Paul and Joe chose the fourth grade for the main cast of kids because of their children. During the show’s early production, their kids were in the second grade. By the time the first episode aired, two years later, their children were the same age as the main gang. Naturally, Recess follows traditional cartoon logic and although there are 127 episodes the kids stay in the same year the entire time.

The Recess gang did eventually graduate in the direct to video special Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade. The special is actually a compilation of the final three episodes of the series and a flashback episode made for the movie itself. The first minute of the special explains that the kids finally graduated into fifth grade. However, the main gang and their classmates seem to be the only ones to enjoy the new year. All of the other characters, including the kindergarteners, remain as they were. Well, at least in the very beginning. Later on the in special we do see the other kids as they get used to and enjoy their new found status in a higher grade.

6 Gretchen’s Particle Accelerator

To say that Gretchen is smart is like calling a blue whale big. While it’s not technically incorrect, it is also a massive understatement. She is easily the smartest character in the show. Gretchen is always making advanced calculations and thinking through situations with her analytical, scientifically oriented mind. In “A Genius Among Us” (season 3, episode 2) Gretchen is established to be smarter than a lot of teachers and all of her peers. Hank, the janitor even calls her a child prodigy! The only one that can keep up with her mathematically is Hank. So, it’s no surprise that she likes to invent things. In "The Substitute" (season 2, episode 7) she presents an invention for her class project that instantly gets taken away by the government.

However, her crowning achievement is her particle accelerator.

Just the fact that she could make a machine that can propel charged particles at one another at the speed of light is insane. What’s more is that Gretchen managed to make hers out of a broken hair dryer and a four slice toaster oven. How, I have no idea! She never actually says. However, in Recess: School’s Out, Gretchen makes a passing mention of the machine as if it were just another day on the playground.

5 Voice Actor Shuffle

via recess.wikia.com

I’ve already talked a little about the various voice actors who worked on Recess. Characters like T.J. saw plenty of different voice actors throughout the show and movies. However, the changes in voice actors goes a lot further than that. Some actors actually changed roles during the show. Ryan O’Donohue played Gus when he was first introduced in “The New Kid” (season 1, episode 2). However, Courtland Mead took over for the role after that and played him for the rest of the series; minus the Lilo & Stitch special where he was voiced by Zack Ewing. After Courtland took over for Gus, Ryan became the voice Randall. Talk about a major switch. However, an even stranger case of voice actor shenanigans comes from none other than Ashley Johnson. Not only did she play Gretchen, but she also voiced Ashley T. Scandalous!

In a few cases, special voice actors were brought in to voice characters during specific scenes. Mikey was played by Jason Davis throughout the shows run, except during the Lilo & Stitch crossover episode where Zack Shada played the role. On top of that, whenever Mikey sings in his gorgeous baritone, it’s not Jason Davis singing but the late Robert Goulet.

4 Miss Finster: Not As Bad As She Seems.

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Miss Finster isn’t exactly well liked in the show and certainly not a fan favorite character. While she is the main antagonist the series, she isn’t exactly charismatic and her personality leaves a lot to be desired. Even so, Miss Finster isn’t all bad. The first time we saw a softer side to her was in “To Finster With Love” (season 1, episode 8) where she falls in love the janitor Hank. The relationship between the two characters is rather sweet and she even becomes a lot nicer to the kids. At the end though, the two decide to break off the relationship once they realize that it is getting in the way of their duties. They end up surrendering their own happiness for the sake of the kids they are charged with protecting. In the episode “Weekend at Muriel’s” (season 2, episode 19) Spinelli spends the weekend with Miss Finster. Turns out, she’s not so bad.

Miss Finster helps stray cats, enjoys Broadway, lifts weights, and can hulu dance.

Sure, she can be tough with the kids and her motives are questionable, but Miss Finster does do her best and has the kid’s best interests at heart. At least most of the time.

3 The Teacher Controversy

via Recess Wikia

The teachers in Recess are interesting and memorable characters. All of them get time to shine at some point or another, even if the moments are fleeting. Several episodes are dedicating to fleshing out Miss Finster, Miss Grotke, and Principal Prickly. Even so, with perhaps the exception of Miss Grotke, the adults in Recess mostly play antagonistic roles. Everyone from Principal Prickly to Miss Finster and Mr. E acts as the “villains” of the show. Especially the substitute teacher Mr. E.

Unfortunately, actual teachers, and parents weren’t too happy with the show’s portrayal of adults.

The creators even received letters of complaint. However, Paul and Joe never intended to be true villains and promptly apologized. In fact, Paul and Joe each had a teacher for a parent. The creators corrected their mistake in the movie Recess: School’s Out by where the teachers went to great lengths to protect the kids and even rescued them from some actual villains. Miss Finster’s love of boxing came into play when she went toe to toe with a man much younger and lot bigger than her, all in the name of saving her students. Personally, I would not want to mess with Miss Finster.

2 Nicknames For The Gang

via: recess.wikia.com

Most of the kids at Third Street are referred to by nicknames. There’s King Bob, Swinger Girl, Cornchip Girl, The Diggers, and so on. We’re shown early on just how important these names are in “The New Kid” (season 1, episode 2). Each kid’s nickname defines who they are and where they stand on the playground. So, it kind of seems odd that the main gang don’t have nicknames. At least, they don’t at first. Overtime, T.J. and his friends earn nicknames. Or well, some of them do anyway. King Bob dubs Gretchen as Smart Girl. T.J. gets nicknames like Crazy Monkey Boy (again by King Bob) and Prankster Prince. Poor Spinelli is referred to as Pooky by her parents. Mikey is called Big Brother by Tubby and other names like Big boy Bloomberg and Winger Dinger Singer.

The names Gus earns are probably the most interesting. At first, Gus is called New Kid, but he managed to ditch the title pretty quickly by standing up to King Bob and demanding his name back. Hector, one of the Kindergarteners, eventually dubs Gus Safety Man. However, in “Dodgeball City” (season 3, episode 3) we learn that he was referred to as El Diablo in his old school because of how badly he terrorized them during dodgeball.

1 Total Redesign

via: recess.wikia.com

One of the most difficult aspects of a cartoon are the character designs. Sure, it seems simple. Kids do it all the time. But a character design can make or break a show. Characters need to be instantly recognizable. Everything from the color pallets they use, to the clothes they wear needs to be unique and stand out. Even their silhouette is important. If you can’t recognize a character by their outline alone, you need to go back to the drawing board. What’s more, the character needs to be simple enough that it won’t take too much time or energy to animate from any angle. This means extraneous details and complex patterns are broken down into their simplest, most recognizable features.

With all this in mind, it’s no wonder that characters go through several designs and redesigns during the creation process. Recess is no exception. T.J. original and final designs have the biggest contrast. He initially had a buzz cut with his iconic baseball hat nowhere in sight. After that, he was given wild red hair. Although, he was still sans the baseball cap. It wasn’t until later in production that the creators settled on the design we are all familiar with. Plus, T.J. originally called P.J. after the creators Paul and Joe.

While T.J. and the others went through a number of redesigns, Vince had the most by far. He was given at least five different designs, each sporting a unique hairstyle.

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