Classic Cartoons

The History of Teen Titans

Teen Titans logoA lot of DC Comics stories and superhero characters have jumped into the screens, be them big or small. Another fixture of the DC universe, Teen Titans, has its own television series as well.

Unlike other DC Comics-based series that had juggernaut starts (such as Batman: The Animated Series or Justice League), the original Teen Titans series did not earn as much number of viewers on its first run. But eventually, the original series proved to be solid – and exceeded initial expectations – having run for four more seasons.

Teen Titans has yet to make a big-screen live-action debut, but it has generated a few number of animated movies (including one theatrical release).

History and main characters

The original Teen Titans series premiered on Cartoon Network on July 19, 2003, and its first two seasons were aired on Kids’ WB channel. Cartoon Network originally planned only four seasons, but the popularity of the series led the cable channel to launch a fifth season. Its final half-hour episode, “Things Change,” aired in January 2006, followed by made-for-TV movie Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo, which served as the series finale.

The genesis of Teen Titans the series arose from stories by animators and writers Marv Wolfman and George Perez way back in the 1980s, which featured characters, story concepts, and storylines during the run. Like in many other Teen Titans comics and their adaptations, the original series features the following main characters (and the voice actors behind them)

Teen Titans characters

  • Robin (Scott Menville) – an intelligent and able leader of the Teen Titans. He is highly skilled and deeply motivated to bring justice wherever he can.
  • Starfire (Hynden Walsh) – a curious and quirky princess from the planet Tamaran. Her real name and title is Princess Koriand’r.
  • Cyborg (Khary Payton) – Formerly known as Victor Stone, he suffered an accident that caused most of his human body to be replaced with cybernetic and machine parts. Thus, he becomes a half-human and a half-robot. He possesses strength and technological abilities and is also Robin’s second-in-command.
  • Raven (Tara Strong) – Raven is usually described as having a stoic countenance and aloof, apathetic character. She is from the parallel planet Azarath who draws upon dark energy psionic capabilities. Among her abilities are her flight, telekinesis, and ESP.
  • Beast Boy (Greg Cipes) – The comic relief of the group, his chief ability is to transform himself into different animals.
  • Terra (Ashley Johnson) – This character makes her debut in the second season of the series. She possesses terrakinetic abilities, meaning that she is capable of controlling the ground under her feet. She often prefers using rocks and boulders as her weapons and means of transportation.

Hints of the characters’ secret identities

One of the clichés of any superhero series is that the characters usually have an alter-ego or secret identity. But in Teen Titans, all of the characters maintain their superhero identities throughout the series. However, there might be hints of an alter-ego, secret identity, or any persona that is different from their superhero existence. If there had been one in the series, it was never fully or explicitly explored.

With Robin, for instance, there have been some hints that suggest that he is Richard John “Dick” Grayson, the founder of Teen Titans and the original Robin. In one of the series’ episodes, Robin’s counterpart Larry is named as Nosyarg Kcid (which is “Grayson Dick” spelled backwards). But the season breaks its own rules of not revealing the characters’ identities in at least a couple of times. In the fifth and final season, for instance, Beast Boy’s real name is revealed as Garfield, although his Teen Titan-mates still continue to call him as Beast Boy.

The seasons

  • Season 1 (July 19, 2003 – November 11, 2003, 13 episodes) – The Teen Titans face the mysterious supervillain Slade who is also seeking to convert Robin into his own apprentice.
  • Season 2 (January 10, 2004 – August 21, 2004, 13 episodes) – The character Terra is introduced in this season. She joins Teen Titans while plotting against them with Slade.
  • Season 3 (August 28, 2004 – January 22, 2005, 13 episodes) – The plot focuses on Cyborg, who faces the supervillain terrorist organization H.I.V.E. and its leader, Brother Blood. For this reason, Cyborg forms Titans East with superheroes Aqualad, Speedy, Bumblebee, and Mas y Menos.
  • Season 4 (January 17, 2005 – July 16, 2005, 13 episodes) – Raven ends up unwillingly involved in an evil plot to destroy the world when her own demon father Trigon attempts to enslave the planet Earth.
  • Season 5 (September 24, 2005 – January 16, 2006, 13 episodes) – The Teen Titans join forces with other superheroes in their bid to defeat the Brotherhood of Evil, who is Beast Boy’s longtime enemy.

Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo

For one big final push, the series aired Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo, an animated TV movie that premiered on Cartoon Network on September 15, 2006. In their first feature-length adventure, Teen Titans encounter a new enemy, a ninja named Saico-Tek. When Saico-Tek attacks the Titans Tower, the group springs into action. Robin learns that the ninja was sent by a mysterious Japanese criminal named Brushogun. After the battle with Saico-Tek, the Teen Titans travel to Tokyo in a bid to track the villain down.

Teen Titans Go!

Teen Titans Go! is a successful spin-off of the original Teen Titans original series, which premiered on Cartoon Network on April 23, 2013. Unlike the original series, Teen Titans Go! has a different animation style and is comedic in nature.

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