“Go, go gadget arms!” Inspector Gadget aired from 1982 to 1986 and followed the adventures of the clumsy and clueless (but still very loveable) Inspector Gadget, a cyborg human and detective who is constantly trying to thwart the plans of evil Dr. Claw. He had plenty of high-tech gadgets installed in his body, which often came in handy during missions – if he could get them under control, that is.
Chief Quimby was responsible for setting Gadget off on his missions, often providing Gadget with messages scrawled onto pieces of paper…which usually ended up self-destructing in the poor detective’s face! Gadget had a lot of help from his ten-year-old niece Penny, who often used her pocket book and and video watch to thwart Dr. Claw.
She was always joined by her faithful sidekick Brain, a dog with a human IQ who often followed Gadget on missions to make sure that he was safe. Fans of the show will remember that Penny used to communicate with Brain via a very high-tech video link inserted into Brain’s collar.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at 20 fascinating facts about Inspector Gadget – scroll down the list below to find out more about your favourite 80s animated series. Enjoy!
1. You might recognise the voice of Penny if you’re a Rugrats fan
Penny was voiced in the first series of Inspector Gadget by Cree Summer.
Summer also played the part of Susie in the Rugrats cartoons.
Did you ever notice the similarity in the voices and put two and two together? Nope, neither did we!
2. The bad guys were named after James Bond villains
The organisation of bad guys that Dr. Claw is the head of are known as M.A.D.
It is thought that the giving of this name was an homage to James Bond with S.P.E.C.T.R.E and The Man From U.N.C.L.E, making an acronym that the bad guys would forever be known by in the show!
3. Ever wondered what M.A.D stands for?
We certainly have! And now that we know, we wonder just how long it took the developers to come up with this one.
Two, maybe three minutes at a push? M.A.D apparently stands for “Mean and Dangerous”, though it’s never really explained precisely why they chose this name.
4. Gadget was originally supposed to have facial hair
In the pilot episode of Inspector Gadget, the titular character had a moustache.
The reason the moustache idea was cut, or shaved, from the show? MGM suggested that the character looked a bit too much like their own bumbling detective, Inspector Clouseau, and so they removed Gadget’s ‘tash to avoid any controversy or infringement.
5. There was only one way to see Dr. Claw’s face
Dr. Claw never shows his face in the show, and the only time his face was ever revealed was on his action figure.
When it was released, however, there was a large sticker over the box, so the only way to see it was to actually buy the figure…sneaky!
6. Gadget was voiced by Dom Adams, who also played another bumbling detective
Inspector Gadget was voiced by none other than Dom Adams, who played the title character in Get Smart.
Maxwell Smart was also a bumbling detective so he was the perfect fit to voice Inspector Gadget in the cartoons.
7. Gadget doesn’t have a big wardrobe
Inspector Gadget is seen in the same set of clothes throughout almost every single episode of the show, the now-famous grey rain coat and hat with the brown over-sized gloves.
There are a few episodes, however, where he is briefly seen in more leisurely attire.
8. Penny invented the iPad long before Steve Jobs came along
If you watch the episodes, you will see that Penny has a very smart note book that can do all sorts and helps her to solve the mysteries for her uncle.
Many people think that Penny effectively invented the first iPad long before Steve Jobs got in on the action!
9. There is a strange fan theory surrounding Penny and her Uncle(s)
Here’s a little Gadget conspiracy theory for you…
Fans have been known to subscribe to the theory that Claw is Penny’s real Uncle who was severely injured and burnt in an explosion. Penny then built herself a new Uncle, which was Inspector Gadget. This would help to explain why Penny never got hurt.
10. Fans of Scooby Doo may recognise the voice of Dr. Claw
Did you know that Frank Weller, who plays Dr. Claw, also played the voice of Fred in the Scooby Doo cartoons?
You’d be forgiven for not realising this as the two characters couldn’t really sound more different and we certainly didn’t know about this one!
11. It took ages to get the right look for Gadget
A staggering 350 drawings were submitted to TV executives before the production team finally settled on the iconic look for Inspector Gadget.
They wanted the character to portray the right kind of mood for the show, and we think they got the final look spot-on…what do you think?
12. The show sounded good for a reason
Ever wondered why Inspector Gadget seemed to sound so good and so clear compared to other shows of the same era?
Well that’s because it was the first animated show to have its sound in stereo rather than mono and it made a big difference!
13. A very big-name star auditioned for the show
A certain Jim Carrey once auditioned for the show, hoping to play the part of Corporal Capeman.
14. Do you know who Dr. Claw is based on?
Dr. Claw is clearly based on Ernst Stavros Blofeld from the James Bond films.
He is the leader of a secret, and evil, organisation, and he is nearly always seen petting a cat.
The cat Dr. Claw has always looked more evil and deranged than the one in the Bond film though. And, of course, they’re not the only ones to have taken direct inspiration from Blofeld….
15. It was one of the biggest cartoons of the 1980s
Cartoons were generally shown only on a Saturday morning in the US.
This changed with the release of He-Man and the Masters of The Universe, and then Inspector Gadget, both of which were shown on weekday afternoons to capitalise on their success!
16. Ever wondered where Penny’s parents are?
We certainly have, and I bet you’re now ringing your hands waiting for enlightenment…
Well, unfortunately, the parents of Penny are never mentioned once in the show’s run, and so we (and now you) are none the wiser – sorry!
17. There was a very striking similarity to Get Smart
Inspector Gadget was very similar to Get Smart, in that the main villain’s name is Claw.
In Get Smart, it’s simply “The Claw”, while Inspector Gadget has “Dr. Claw” and Gadget seems to have been heavily influenced by this show….
18. That wasn’t the only connection between the two shows
Chief Quimby is always squashed in to a small and unlikely space when he speaks to Inspector Gadget, which is very similar to the character in Get Smart named Agent 13.
This can’t be a coincidence.
19. There’s also a third Get Smart-related coincidence
We wonder if this is actually a coincidence or not, but in Get Smart, Maxwell Smart’s code number is 86. In total, including the pilot, there were 86 episodes of Inspector Gadget!
20. Someone who was unsuccessful at audition heavily influenced the show
Gary Owens auditioned for the role of Inspector Gadget but was unsuccessful as they preferred the way that Don Adams read his lines.
However, Gary Owens was directly responsible for one of Gadget’s catchphrases, “Wowzers”, so he had a lasting impression on the show!
Now that you’ve read 20 fascinating facts about Inspector Gadget, why not scroll down the list below to reminisce about some of the show’s greatest characters?
All-round good guy, his heart is absolutely in the right place and he is a wonderful Uncle to Penny, even though he tends to put her in danger far more than he should do, but usually without realising it!
Gadget always gets the job done, he loves his grey rain coat and hat and always has the same gloves on, too.
Over the series he used many different gadgets, some far more inventive than others. How many of them can you remember?
Gadget had a helicopter, a jack-hammer, one of the world’s first mobile phones….
He also had extendable limbs, an inflatable coat, a bazooka (or Gadzooka as he named it….)
Along with those, Inspector Gadget also had roller skates, an extra hand in his hat, a bouquet of flowers just in case, and a torch (or flashlight) in his finger!
That really is a lot of gadgets, and there were still many more that were only used once or twice!
Penny is Inspector Gadget’s loving niece and all-round big-head, know-it-all… sorry, super-intelligent young lady!
Penny goes out of her way to help her uncle to solve the crimes and misdemeanors, and is always seen with her lovable pooch-pal, Brains.
In view of how intelligent Penny is, it’s surprising just how often and how easily Penny puts herself in harms way, often without thinking twice about her own safety!
Surely this was not a good role-model for the children watching at home!?
Penny also had her own gadgets, largely based around her watch which was well ahead of its time and almost predicted the future of Smart Watches!
Of course, most Smart Watches can’t be linked to a normal diary book and they certainly don’t come with a laser beam installed as standard!!
Penny’s watch could even be used as a torch, a super-strong electro-magnet, and every so often she could even tell the time with it if she really wanted!
That’s a versatile piece of kit right there…
It’s unclear exactly what breed of dog Brains is meant to be, but whatever it is, someone should let the Ministry of Defense know, as they could use some of these dogs in their every day work, they are seriously clever!
Not only is Brains ridiculously loyal to Penny, but he will often help her to save the day, and put himself in harm’s way to do so.
Brains is also loyal to Inspector Gadget himself but doesn’t want Gadget to know that he’s around most of the time.
To do this, Brains is often seen in some ridiculous outfits and disguises so that Gadget doesn’t realise it’s him.
Gadget will often see Brains as a person and think he’s up to no good, ending up chasing after the very pooch who’s trying to help him!
Brains still keeps helping Gadget and Penny, week in and week out, though, and never fails to help save the day – what a dog!
Chief Quimby is the chief of police and Inspector Gadget’s boss.
As such, he should command total loyalty and respect from Gadget at all times…
And to be fair, Gadget does respect his boss and always speaks to him with respect. But there is a slight issue… Inspector Gadget is an idiot!
Chief Quimby makes the mistake of always using a piece of paper to write down Gadget’s assignment, and it’s a piece of paper that explodes when read.
Inspector Gadget always fails to make the connection that if he throws it away where his chief of police is, said chief will be in the resultant explosion!
It doesn’t matter how many times you saw this gag, it still made you laugh every time, and you always waited for it to happen.
Sometimes there would be a delay, where Quimby thinks he’s safe for once, but no. The explosion always comes!
One of the most mean and menacing bad guys in the cartoon history, Dr. Claw’s voice alone was enough to send shivers down my spine as a kid!
He was one mean bad-guy, and he had a serious temper!
Always seen with his cat, the imaginatively named M.A.D Cat, Dr. Claw was the baddest of the bad and could strike fear in to the most fearless bumbling-detective!
Dr. Claw would come up with a new scheme to rid the world of Inspector Gadget every week, and would always end up infuriated by the Inspector, who would inevitably thwart Claw’s plans for World domination!
M.A.D was the agency that Dr. Claw ran to try and take over the world and they were evil, evil, evil!!
They had several henchmen throughout the series of Inspector Gadget, some of whom made more appearances than others.
In the original cartoons, the henchmen were clearly recognisable when they returned for multiple episodes, but in looks alone, as they were never explicitly named in the original cartoons.
They were all imaginatively and vividly realised and created, and well-animated for the series, so certainly added some evil fun to the series as it went on. Did you have a favourite?
The Gadget Mobile
Inspector Gadget’s car was cleverly called the Gadget Mobile, and was almost as versatile as its owner, and came with a number of features and gadgets of its own.
If nothing else, the fact that this vehicle could transform in to a number of different forms was brilliant, and you would always watch the show, waiting for the moment when Gadget had to get in to his car and see what fun would ensue!