The History of Jonny Quest – A Classic Cartoon


We all have loved watching cartoons and animated series as kids. Some of the animated series have even been so phenomenal that they have even been famous among adults. Jonny Quest is one of those cartoons that made quite a name since the launch of its first series.

Jonny Quest started as a television series, between the years 1964-65, under the production house of Hanna-Barbera – Warner Bros. The creative brain and designer behind this cartoon series was Doug Wildey, a cartoonist, and comic book artist.

The story of Jonny Quest revolves around an 11-year old American boy who accompanies his scientist father on amazing adventures. ‘The Adventures of Jonny Quest’ is the initial series of this American media franchise and this is where it all started. The Franchise went on further to include two subsequent television series, two television films, and three computer games.

The Original Jonny Quest

Taking inspiration from radio serials and comics in the action-adventure genre, the series of Jonny Quest had truer-to-life characters and stories as compared to Hanna Barbera’s previous productions. Jonny Quest was the first of many Hanna Barbera adventure-based shows which, in later years, included Space Ghost, The Herculoids, and Birdman and The Galaxy Trio. The show was broadcasted on ABC in primetime for one season.

The show had reruns for almost two decades where it was played on three of the United States’ most prominent television networks of the time.

The New Adventures of Jonny Quest

In the mid-1980s, a syndication package named ‘The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera’ produced an edited version of the original episodes to be a part of ‘The Funtastic’programming block. Each episode had a reduced runtime of 22 minutes rather than the original 25 minutes. In 1986, thirteen new episodes were created, to accompany the original ones, in ‘The Funtastic World’ programming block.

In 1993, a feature-length television movie was produced by Hanna-Barbera for the USA network. The movie is about the Quest team fighting against Dr. Zin, who murders Jonny’s mother. In 1995, a second telefilm named, ‘Jonny Quest vs. The Cyber Insects’, was produced for TNT. The film was promoted to be the final remake of the classic Jonny Quest. All three of these Jonny Quest creations featured the voices of Don Messick and Granville Van Dussen as Dr. Quest and Race Bannon, respectively.

The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest

In the late-1990s, a sequel of Jonny Quest was made named ‘The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest’. This sequel aired on the Cartoon Network and was a part of the Toonami programming block which was launched on the 17th of March, 1997. This sequel aired consistently on Toonami until 24th September, 1999. After that, it was aired on random occasions till December 14th, 2002.

The first thirteen episodes of ‘season one’ were available on DVD after approximately seven years. The series showed characters Jonny, Hadji, and Jessie as older teenagers, and Dr. Quest’s complex moving from TK to a rocky island off the coast of Maine. This season premiered on all three major Turner Broadcasting System entertainment channels; Cartoon Network, TBS, and TNT.

Since 1992, rumors spread relating to problems during the production of this series. Later, two seasons were broadcasted with two different versions. The first thirteen episodes which were referred to as ‘season one’ had a more futuristic look, whereas the second season looked back to the original series of 1960.

Both of the seasons aired between the years 1996-97. In the first season, Dr. Zin was believed to be killed, however, this storyline failed to capture the attention of the audience and in season two, Dr. Zin’s character was brought back.

Feature Film

In the early 1990s, Turner planned to run marketing campaigns for a year to promote a new television series, the release of classic episodes on VHS, the creation of two new animated classic movies, and the production of a live-action film. The animated movies were named ‘Jonny’s Golden Quest’ and ‘Jonny Quest vs. The Cyber Insects’.

The production was scheduled to begin in mid-1995, which later got pushed back to 1996 and eventually, the production never began. In May 2015, an announcement was issued again that a live-action version was soon to be created under the direction of Robert Rodriguez. Adrian Askarieh was set to be the producer. It was told that elements of Indiana Jones and James Bond might be included in the movie.

Comic Books

In 1964, a Jonny Quest comic book was published by Gold Key comics. Comico started the publication of a new Jonny Quest series in 1986 which was written by William Messner-Loebs. This publication had 31 issues, with 2 specials and 3 ‘classic’ issues drawn by Doug Wildey retelling the original Jonny Quest episodes.

Jonny and his team returned to the comic scene in May 2015 when they became a part of the Mystery Machine gang in DC comics. During 2016, DC comics issued ‘Future Quest’, a series featuring Jonny Quest and several other Hanna-Barbera characters.

Computer Games

There have been three video games based on the Jonny Quest series. The first one named ‘Jonny Quest in Dr. Zin’s Underworld’ was published by Hi-Tec Software in 1991. In 1993 and 1996 respectively, two other Jonny Quest featured games were released naming ‘Jonny Quest: Curse of the Mayan Warriors’ and ‘Jonny Quest: Cover-up at Roswell’.


There have been several parodies and homages of the Jonny Quest series. The characters have also been incorporated in other cartoon runs such as ‘The Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated’, where a few characters of Jonny Quest were seen to be included in a few episodes. Over the years, it is safe to say that the media franchise of Jonny Quest has become a well-known name in the cartoon and animation industry.

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