In 2003, an animated series called Teen Titans premiered on Cartoon Network. The show, based on a DC Comics team of young superheroes of the same name, aired for 5 seasons and became wildly popular, appealing to its young adult target audience and long-time comic book fans alike. It seamlessly blended action, humor, and superhero adventures, and had surprisingly complex character development and story arcs for a show aimed at young adults. It was also one of the first Western cartoons to have anime-influenced animation and visual gags, predating others like Avatar: The Last Airbender. They even got Japanese pop duo Puffy Amiyumi to perform the catchy theme song. Sadly, the series ended in 2006 with a cliffhanger ending and a direct-to-video movie, leaving behind a beloved legacy, unresolved plotlines, and unanswered questions.
Then in 2012, a series of shorts aired on Cartoon Network's DC Block called New Teen Titans, set in the same continuity as the original series with the same voice actors. The continued adventures of Robin, Cyborg, Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy were popular enough to warrant a full reboot in 2013, and that became Teen Titans Go! Unfortunately, instead of a further continuation of the original series, the new show completely re-imagined the premise into a zany slapstick comedy, changed the well-rounded characters into exaggerated and sociopathic parodies of their former selves, and generally turned the Titans into Aqua Teen Hunger Force meets Spongebob Squarepants. This led to much anger and frustration from fans and critics. Teen Titans Go has a lot of potential and room to improve, which is one of the reasons why it's so frustrating to see it go this way.
Here are 30 things you didn't know about the disastrous Teen Titans reboot.
30 Flash In The Pan
The original Teen Titans featured carefully-drawn and unique animation seamlessly blending the Japanese manga/anime style with the DC's signature dark aesthetic. In sharp contrast, Teen Titans Go uses flash animation – you know, the program amateurs used to use to upload silly videos to Newgrounds, back when that was a thing.
While some would argue the flash animation fits the show's madcap vibe, the problem is there's no depth or detail to it, giving viewers nothing to look at. Though the animation has improved lately, the character designs lack detail. Witness the Go version of Raven, who almost never goes without her cloak and whose face and features are rarely seen. It's possible the creators were wanting to reference the chibi art style, but it could use more detail.
29 What's The Point?
We get it: the stories for Teen Titans Go are supposed to be silly, over-the-top, comical, and crazy. But that doesn't mean they have to be so ridiculous as to cross the line from whimsical into stupid territory, and some of the episodes of Go are just plain dumb. In "Nean," Starfire wants to marry a pot of chili. In "Waffles," Beast Boy and Cyborg have a competition on who can say the word "waffles" the most in one day.
They based an entire episode ("Serious Business") on the idea of Robin going to the bathroom.
Really, these are barely even plots. At best they should've been one-off jokes. What's worse, there's no continuity and lots of filler. It lacks the dark, serious tone of the original (which was intentional) but fails to replace it with enough wit, going for lowbrow instead.
28 Terrible Life Lessons
The original Teen Titans was praised for handling heavy subject matter without ever losing its kid-friendly rating. Teen Titans Go seems to revel in the fact that it usually doesn't have a message, and when it does it's terrible and untrue. Examples include: the Titans regularly cheat in order to win competitions, they end an episode with the idea that girls are superior to boys, and another about how books and reading can be bad.
It gets worse. In the episode "Finally A Lesson," Robin mocks the idea that the Titans should teach morals by giving others financial advice on how to buy and run rental property.
The apparent message is "teaching lessons is boring."
The problem is that many series, including the original Teen Titans, did teach positive messages without being preachy or boring, which means that Teen Titans Go just has a bad attitude about it.
27 Butchering A Character
Perhaps the worst part of Teen Titans Go is how every character's personality has been radically changed from the original, and not for the better. While it's expected that characters should evolve and change over time, especially with new adaptations and series, Go has taken the characters of the original show and changed them completely, always making them less complex and likable instead of further developing them.
One ready example is Beast Boy. In Teen Titans, Beast Boy is a vegetarian. It makes sense, since he's been most of the animals that people eat. Teen Titans Go has shown B.B. eating meat on several occasions, including pepperoni pizza, hot dogs, and steak. Yet, in the episode "Little Buddies," Beastie complains when Pain Bot puts meat on his pizza, which shows a startling lack of continuity.
26 Just A Loud Idiot
The Cyborg of Teen Titans was a loyal and protective friend who constantly felt alienated from a world that shunned and rejected him, and who lived every day as a struggle between his human and machine halves. Cyborg in Teen Titans Go is an annoying idiot that smashes things. He's even depicted in Go as a pure machine with no human attributes except part of his face and his right eye. Even worse, it's shown more than once that he thinks his robotic traits make him superior to humans, which completely goes against his character.
Both him and Beast Boy are couch potatoes who pretty much do nothing of use and shirk responsibility at every turn. It's clear they want the pair to be comedic, but Go has to realize that stupidity alone isn't inherently funny, and there's nothing funny about being a lazy jerk.
25 Arrogant Control Freak
Despite being the leader of the team, Robin is portrayed as an overbearing, narcissistic, obsessive-compulsive control freak. Unlike the heroic and selfless natural leader from Teen Titans, his Go alter ego completely freaks out over the smallest things, especially when someone questions his authority or makes him jealous. He always seems eager to rub his leader status in everyone's faces.
His impulsiveness is also turned up to 11.
On the other hand, his teammates don't fare well by Go's portrayal either. Robin gets no respect from the other Titans. They often disobey him, even when he's done nothing wrong or his directions make sense. All in all, everyone involved in the new "team" dynamic ends up looking worse in Teen Titans Go, and it makes you wonder why they're even a team, to begin with.
The various personalities the Titans had in the old series are greatly exaggerated in Teen Titans Go for comedic effect. That goes without saying since it's a comedy series, but the problem comes when the exaggeration of their personality completely consumes the character, or when one trait becomes completely outlandish and it becomes all they are. Such is the case with Starfire in Teen Titans Go.
Starfire was always a naïve fish out of water who had trouble understanding human expressions and culture, but in Go she crosses the line into child-like. She's also shown as dangerously ignorant - in "Starfire the Terrible" she actually becomes a villain just because Robin needed an archnemesis. She's also far more violent and can cause massive destruction when she goes on a rampage. Go's version of Starfire makes her look dimwitted and psychotic, and she cares about her pet Silkie more than her friends.
23 Shadow Of Her Old Self
Despite being the most likable of the bunch in her new incarnation, Raven has her own problems. The decision to make her a fan of a My Little Pony parody franchise called Pretty Pretty Pegasus was a curious one, which likely ruffled some feathers of the fans of the original tormented half-demon girl. Still, at least it shows a more playful side of Raven. She uses her magic more, which is a good thing.
The main problem with Raven is she insults and hits the other Titans very frequently, which gives the impression she's nothing more than a bully.
She basically acts like Squidward unless she's playing with her pony toys.
It seems like they've dumped her relationship with Beast Boy too, though with the way B.B. acts in Go we can't blame her. Their decision to attribute her cynical nature to her cursed cloak was also a weird idea.
22 "Family Guy" Humor
For a series that clearly wants to focus only on the humor and leave behind everything else that made the original series great, Teen Titans Go is surprisingly unfunny. Most of the humor is forced and mainly consists of slapstick, the characters being awful to one another, or toilet humor. Many times the jokes seem overly random and desperate to be edgy.
That's not to say the show doesn't have funny moments: it certainly does. But the fact that it clearly has such writing and acting talent behind it makes the gross-out humor and painfully immature jokes all the more cringey.
When the show drifts into sociopathy or shock tactics ala "Family Guy," it becomes too much.
Criticism is also dismissed with the "it's made for kids" excuse, which doesn't make sense when there's so much gallows humor.
21 Two Halves Of The Same Coin
One of the worst aspects of Teen Titans Go is how badly they've handled Beast Boy and Cyborg. They've changed from multi-layered characters with depth who were just as capable of being serious as they were being silly into complete idiots.
The original Cyborg painstakingly took care of the Tower; the new one smashes it to bits without a care. The old Beast Boy was a trickster and could be irresponsible but cared deeply for his friends; the new one spends an entire episode convincing Starfire that he's a ghost so he can take advantage of her. Any scene with the two together (and there are a lot) show that they're in essence two copies of the same obnoxious personality. Characters go through changes, but what's missing about these two is something to like about them; as they are in Go, they have no redeeming qualities.
20 Those Who Live In Glass Houses...
The old saying about how those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones is lost on Teen Titans Go. The show often insults and makes fun of other franchises, even other DC Comics properties. Now, there are the traditional references and mockery to popular franchises like The Matrix, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Indiana Jones, and so forth. But then there are the ones that are just mean-spirited.
One episode that stands out: "Let's Get Serious," which was promoted by Cartoon Network as a crossover between TTG and the excellent Young Justice, another DC show canceled before its time, much like Go's predecessor. It was a golden chance to link two popular DC superhero titles with young teenaged heroes. Instead, they used the episode to insult the Young Justice fanbase and used Aqualad as a stand-in for the show's critics. It was a huge wasted opportunity.
19 It's a Less Good Sonic Boom
The premise of Teen Titans Go is solid. They wanted to bring back a beloved group of characters that people had missed from a show that was canceled before its time and make it funny. Another show came around at about the same time that shows the right way to do this: Sonic Boom. The computer-animated series shows Sonic the Hedgehog, Tails, Amy, Knuckles, Sticks, Dr. Eggman, and other classic characters in a humorous spin-off.
While it does involve Sonic and friends defending the island from Eggman's robots, it's mainly for laughs – and it works. It works because the characters are dysfunctional but mostly intact. Knuckles has been made a dumb guy, it's true, but unlike TTG the humor never crosses the line into sadistic, and no one (except Knuckles) is completely different as a character.
18 Bland And Misleading Titles
One of the best episodes of Teen Titans Go is when Raven's demonic father, Trigon, comes to visit the Tower and charms the pants off all the other members of the cast before eventually revealing his true nature. The original title for this episode was "Raven's Daddy Dearest": a fine title if there ever was one.
What did they change the title to eventually? "Dog Hand."
Because of course that makes sense, to refer to a one-off joke instead of the main theme of the episode. This is a systemic problem in TTG: episode titles like "I'm the Sauce" or "Breakfast Cheese" refer to single lines of dialogue or extremely minor scenes in the episode. Others are even openly misleading, such as "The Return of Slade" and "Smile Bones," just to name a few.
17 Their Worst Enemies Are Themselves
Teen Titans Go is currently in its third season, and it's had plenty of time to deal with all kinds of strange situations. But categorizing it as a "superhero show" is a stretch. True, the characters do have powers and use them, and, of course, they have the bright costumes. But there's very little heroism going on in TTG. While they do battle monsters, their own personal disputes and bad choices overshadow any actual superhero stuff.
It's fine if TTG wanted to focus more on what they do in their downtime, but episodes usually end with them destroying everything, losing credibility, or being selfish or lazy. Powerpuff Girls dealt with everyday adventures and silly stuff too, but they always made it clear that the girls were, ultimately, superheroes who saved the day. There's yet to be a single episode of TTG where they got to actually be heroes.
16 Bad Replacement For Young Justice
One of the hopes for Teen Titans Go was that it might be able to replace the Emmy Award-winning series Young Justice, another DC show that also focused on a team of young superheroes. Young Justice was an incredible series that tied together the DC Universe, including the Justice League, and created its own timeline. It had strong story arcs and complex characters who were given plenty of room to grow.
Unfortunately, Young Justice was canceled after two seasons (reportedly due to low toy sales).
Fans of DC's productions were hoping the new Teen Titans would become the replacement for Young Justice, with the promise of more stories based on young heroes. Unfortunately, as it stands now, TTG can't be a proper successor to Young Justice, or even the original Teen Titans series. Here's hoping for that third Young Justice season coming this year!
15 No Continuity With Original
While TTG has much in common with the first series, including character designs, supporting characters like Aqualad, Silkie, the H.I.V.E. Five, Doctor Light, and others, not to mention the main voice cast, there are other indications to suggest TTG is not a direct continuation. In the episode "Terra-ized," Beast Boy meets Terra for the first time, even though in Teen Titans, the episodes with Terra were some of the most harrowing and memorable episodes. TTG is in the awkward position of having tons of callbacks and references to the original series while trying to maintain its comedic vibe.
It's never been clear if Teen Titans Go is a direct sequel to the original.
Which is a shame considering there were so many cliffhangers and unanswered questions left over from the 2003 series' last episode, "Things Change," and the final movie, Trouble in Tokyo.
14 False Advertising
In what has to be one of the most calculatingly obnoxious ads of all time, the advertisements for Teen Titans Go bill it as "Your new favorite show!"
An ironic tagline considering it hasn't been well-received by fans and got mixed reviews from critics.
Teen Titans Go is like fast food: it can be delightful at times and nasty at others, but it's just something quick and easy that satisfies a particular need, and you don't want it for a steady diet. The series has been mercilessly panned among critics on the internet, including YouTube reviewer Mr. Enter (who calls the show "Toddler Titans"), and has low ratings on TV.com and IMDB. WatchMojo ranked it as #1 on their list of Top 10 Worst Animated Superhero Shows. If CN is trying to make up for these reviews with fake hubris, it isn't convincing anybody.
13 Just To Tell You Once Again: Who's Bad?
The writers of Teen Titans Go apparently think that if they admit that this show is stupid and lazy, that they should be able to get away with it. This is revealed in the episode "The Fourth Wall," where the Titans themselves admit the original 2003 show was better. The episode reveals the entire existence of the show is the result of a plan by Control Freak, who used his time-and-space-warping remote to reboot the original Teen Titans show.
The idea was that the rebooted series would win Control Freak awards and publicity, but instead, he created a show that was complete junk (yes, they actually say this). Control Freak even brings up the toilet humor, constant screaming, and animation. The Titans themselves watch clips of the original and get nostalgic for how amazing and cool they used to be, which is just plain sad.
12 It's Just Really Mean-Spirited
Comedy shows usually rely on character conflict for a lot of their jokes. There's certainly nothing wrong with that. But what may shock viewers is how unpleasant, dysfunctional, and unlikable, the Titans have become.
There are some episodes that are just downright uncomfortable.
At times it seems more like a superhero version of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The episode "Super Robin" is a prime example, where the other Titans set out to prove to Robin that superpowers are a curse. After being given powers, Robin solves all the world's problems and puts the Titans out of a job. They disband and get normal jobs, and it shows their lives as boring and sad. The last scene is the aged Titans surrounding a very old Robin in a hospital bed, rubbing his face in the fact that they were right just as his ECG flatlines. Oof.
At first, a crossover between Teen Titans Go and the 2016 reboot of The Powerpuff Girls sounds like the perfect way to anger the disappointed fans of the originals. But to everyone's surprise, the crossover episode "TTG v PPG" turned out to be pretty good. The contrast between the two teams is shown by how the Titans act fully like their Go versions, while the Powerpuff Girls act much like they did in the original show. This means the girls are, of course, the better team.
What ends up happening is that the Powerpuffs totally show up the Titans, and the show points out the problems with TTG in a hilarious way. In fact, the episode starts with Mojo Jojo traveling to an alternate dimension "where superheroes don't care about stopping villains" - does it even need to be said this turns out to be the world of Teen Titans Go?
10 Here's Hoping For A Shared Universe!
When the original Teen Titans aired in 2003, it was on television at the same time as two other popular DC animated series: Justice League Unlimited and The Batman. In order to the keep the shows unique, the concept of a shared universe was not discussed. This is why we never got see the Teen Titans fight alongside Batman, or even team up with the entire Justice League. This is also why Batman is never mentioned by name in Teen Titans, even though Robin is a main character.
However, since then the characters in DC shows have made constant references to others, and Teen Titans Go is peppered with these. Aquaman and Superman are named multiple times, Batman, Commissioner Gordon, and the Wonder Twins make cameos, and one entire episode ("Sidekick") involved Robin watching over the Batcave. Backgrounds also feature DC Universe easter eggs if you look closely!
9 The Titans Are Literally The Villains Of The Show
Teen Titans Go is very forward with wanting to be a spoof superhero show in the vein of Freakazoid or The Tick, which starred heroes with crazy personalities who were often more destructive than the villains they fought. That may not seem like a bad idea for a comedy show, but TTG needs villains for a big reason: to play the completely serious "straight man" who tries to get the story to unfold like it's "supposed" to, and makes the Titans' antics even funnier. The problem is most Teen Titans Go episodes don't have villains, and when they do show up they're usually cameos or they just aren't much of a threat.
The Titans themselves behave like villains far more often than the bad guys.
Hopefully, the show will come to embrace the presence of a "straight man" villain character to deliver the punchline.
8 Evil Beware, We Have Waffles
Here's the premise of an actual episode of Teen Titans Go: Cyborg and Beast Boy have a competition to see who can say nothing but the word "waffles" for the longest period of time. If that sounds like a terrible idea, that's because it is. That's the premise of the creatively-titled episode "Waffles."
Now, this gag has been used effectively before, like the episode of Dexter's Laboratory where he can only say "omelette du fromage." But in TTG, they say "waffles" 188 times. That means you're going to be hearing it every four seconds for 11 minutes straight.
Go takes a good idea and beats it into the ground.
The Dexter's Lab episode also benefited from having other characters react in funny ways to Dexter as though they could understand him; in TTG the other characters like Robin are just annoyed, and rightly so.
7 "The Return Of Slade" Episode
Despite the title, the episode "The Return of Slade" never actually features Slade, the main antagonist of the original Teen Titans series. That says all you need to know about this episode. The entire thing was a cheap stunt for ratings because they knew fans of the original would freak out anticipating the appearance of the arch-villain, inspired by Deathstroke from the original comics. But no. Instead, it's not even a good episode.
"The Return of Slade" is yet another "take that, critics!" episode aimed at people who don't think it measures up to Teen Titans.
Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Titans are even the villains of the episode once again, tormenting an innocent clown the whole way through. This episode has a 2/10 rating on IMDB and is one of the most hated episodes of the series.
6 Cartoon Network Way Overexposes It
It seems pretty clear that Cartoon Network stands to make a lot of money from making and airing Teen Titans Go. For better or worse it's their most popular show right now, and those toys aren't going to sell themselves. But the series often takes up a very large portion of CN's airtime to the rage and boredom of viewers. Cartoon Network seems to have not gotten the memo and continues to shove our faces in it.
Teen Titans Go has become the new Spongebob Squarepants in terms of network overexposure.
It's used as the default filler when there are no new episodes of another series to run. TTG has pushed more acclaimed animations like Adventure Time, Steven Universe, and Regular Show, into the graveyard slots. Recently, there was even a TTG marathon from Christmas to December 31 where it ran no less than 384 times. Whew.
5 Talented Voice Actors
One of the best things about Teen Titans Go is that unlike the Powerpuff Girls reboot, they got the original voice cast from Teen Titans to come back, including Scott Menville as Robin, Khary Payton as Cyborg, Hynden Walch as Starfire, and of course, Tara Strong as Raven. All of them are giants (Titans?) in the voice industry, and it's wonderful to see them work together again to bring the Titans to life. According to the actors themselves, they remained close friends after the show was over.
But the inclusion of the original voice cast only highlights what's been lost in the new adaptation. Again, the point isn't that we want an absolute return of the original show, or that we want TTG to be "edgy" or "dark" –the point is that we want the new show to be better, especially with such talent.
4 Darkseid Polka
Look, I love Weird Al Yankovic, okay? He's a funny man. He's had a longer career than most of the musicians he's parodied, and that's something to respect. But miscasting is miscasting no matter who stars in it, and replacing the deep, dark, gravelly voice of the DC Universe's ultimate "big bad" Darkseid with the voice of Weird Al is one line you don't cross.
They try to lampshade it by portraying it like Darkseid's typical voice was the result of him having a cold, and gave him Yankovic's voice as soon as he took a throat lozenge, but the whole thing just felt weird and out of place even for a show as zany and random as Teen Titans Go. The part where Cyborg points out who he sounds like and Darkseid remarks that he wishes he was half as evil as Yankovic's parody music was amusing, though.
3 Not A Hot Pepper
It's time to face facts and say that none of the original songs on the Teen Titans Go soundtrack are particularly good. In fact, most are pretty lackluster. This includes weird and unmelodic songs like "Waffles" and "I'm a Hot Pepper," but nearly every musical number in the show is either annoying or bland.
The theme song is probably the catchiest one.
Then there's some that are better, like fan favorite "The Night Begins to Shine." But like the rest of TTG, some quality moments aren't enough to make up for most of the weird and repetitive songs. Having musical numbers in the show actually works in its favor, but we've got to get some better tunes up in here.
2 There's A Movie Coming Out
Believe it or not, the Titans are going to be on the silver screen for the first time ever in their Go incarnations. It's produced by Warner Bros. Pictures and Warner Animation Group and is set for release on July 27, 2018. Titled Teen Titans Go! to the Movies, it will be written by the same writers and producers who work on the TV series and will be directed by them as well. The voice cast will also reprise their roles, alongside stars like Will Arnett and Kristen Bell.
A teaser trailer was released online on January 10, 2018 and received mixed to negative reviews from critics and audiences. It's currently unknown if the film will be more serious than the show, though it will actually feature Slade, which is a good sign. The film will mark Slade's first speaking role in the series, having previously appeared only in cameos.
1 The Creators Can't Take Criticism
The worst thing about Teen Titans Go isn't the show itself: it's that the creators of the show can't take even the slightest bit of criticism, going so far as to make whole episodes mocking absurd straw-man representations of its critics. This is why we have objectively terrible episodes like "The Return of Slade," "The Fourth Wall," and "Let's Get Serious," among others, which serve no purpose except to mock the audience.
Instead of strawmanning their critics and fans, why not simply make the show better? Teen Titans Go has its moments and is not beyond saving.
Instead of misinterpreting the negative reviews the show has, why not listen and improve the flaws? 200 episodes and soon-to-be movie in, there's plenty of room for improvement. One day, perhaps Teen Titans Go will be the show we all want it to be. Until then, there's always the originals. Titans, go!