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interests / rec.games.frp.dnd / [Gizmodo] How the Finale of the Dungeons & Dragons '80s Cartoon Became a Pop-Culture Mystery

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[Gizmodo] How the Finale of the Dungeons & Dragons '80s Cartoon Became a Pop-Culture Mystery

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From: gmke...@gmail.com (kyonshi)
Newsgroups: rec.games.frp.dnd,alt.tv.dungeon-dragon
Subject: [Gizmodo] How the Finale of the Dungeons & Dragons '80s Cartoon
Became a Pop-Culture Mystery
Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2024 10:07:12 +0100
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 by: kyonshi - Thu, 28 Mar 2024 09:07 UTC

Source:
https://gizmodo.com/dungeons-dragons-80s-animated-series-finale-true-story-1851353843

How the Finale of the Dungeons & Dragons '80s Cartoon Became a
Pop-Culture Mystery
As D&D marks its 50th anniversary, here's how the beloved '80s cartoon
based on the TTRPG really ended—no matter what you remember.
By
Falene Nurse
PublishedMarch 21, 2024

Hasbro’s multitude of celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of
Dungeons & Dragons include streaming the fan-favorite 1980s D&D cartoon
on the 24/7 Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures FAST channel. The animated
series, despite a relatively short run of three seasons and 27 episodes,
has become a fantasy genre classic. The engaging storytelling and dark
themes greatly influenced future media—and the characters were so
memorable, 40 years later they caused a social media frenzy when their
live-action counterparts made an unexpected cameo in Dungeons & Dragons:
Honor Among Thieves.

For the uninitiated, back in 1983 Dungeons & Dragons designer and
co-creator Gary Gygax had the bright idea to quash the Satanic Panic
brewing around his game with the cunning use of… a Saturday morning
kids’ TV show. In doing so he also unintentionally helped create one of
the most unsanitized children’s programs in history—tackling mature
topics like trauma, the futility of revenge, and what to do when your
11-year-old-brother contemplates slaughtering the demon-man that haunts
your every waking moment?

In collaboration with Marvel Productions, TSR, and the Japanese company
Toei, developer and writer Mark Evaniar and his team (including Hank
Saroyan and later Michael Reaves) were tasked with diluting complicated
D&D mythology and gameplay into 30-minute episodic TV for preteens. This
genius marketing ploy to make RPGs more relatable also produced a loyal
and slightly unhinged multi-generational fanbase—one that fueled a
decades-long rumor about the last episode they thought they had seen:
“Requiem.”

Nostalgia tends to make it increasingly difficult to separate reality
from rumor, and a false collective memory began about what happened “to”
and “in” that final episode. In an interview with io9, Mark Evanier said
he wishes to dispel the urban legend once and for all: “There was NO
‘final episode’ of Dungeons & Dragons.”

Confused yet? You soon will be.

First and foremost, let’s establish what is remembered correctly: how
the show began. Evanier was clever enough to invent a camera-friendly
cast of characters to demonstrate player tactics (now a gaming standard)
with five all-American kids, aged 9 to 15: Hank the Ranger, Eric the
Cavalier, Sheila the Thief, Presto the Magician, Bobby the Barbarian
child, and Diana the Acrobat (their one Black friend).

Voiced by a then star-studded cast of ‘80s sitcom actors—including Don
Most, Adam Rich, and Willie Aames—the series kicked off in spectacular
fashion with a carnival roller-coaster ride gone rogue. The pilot begins
with the kids finding themselves sucked through a cosmic portal into a
magical realm, where they encounter a little man with a kinky moniker,
“The Dungeon Master.” Each immediately gains a special skill and
game-like weaponry to confront challenges (sound familiar yet?),
explained in plot exposition that fits neatly into the opening title
sequence. There was also Uni, a mute infant unicorn, suitable for
children ages 8 and up.

Evanier intended to play fanservice throughout the show by including
some of the game’s villains: Tiamat the red-hydra dragon, and the Spider
Queen, Lolth. However, the true scene-stealer was new: Venger (voiced by
Optimus Prime himself, Peter Cullen), a demon of pure nightmare fuel
sporting a dramatic floor-length cloak of the finest haberdashery. What
we didn’t know at the time is that he also had an origin story for the
ages (spoiler alert); it eventually revealed the angry dragon was his
sister, and the wise old sage, the Dungeon Master, their daddy.

While these plot twists were impressive, the imagined versions by the
fandom were equally theatrical. They emerged during the internet’s
infancy and spanned the early days of social media, from ‘90s chat rooms
to Facebook and Reddit. According to the comments on this Reactor
thread: “But I remember watching the ending... which doesn’t exist!” a
user named Cap-mjb posted. “They end up back reunited with their families.”

Another user, Capnjimbo the BBS Captain, disagreed, insisting “It ended
on a cliffhanger.” On Reddit, OGBranFlakes lamented “They never got
home… Does this mean we can get a D&D movie with Venger?” On Facebook,
MrSchee fondly called this “My first brush with the Mandela Effect,” and
recalled how he was so sure he “saw an episode that revealed they were
actually all dead (and in hell).”

As it turns out, the reason for the Mandela Effect—the name for a false
memory that is nonetheless shared by a large group of people—in this
case was relatively simple: there were two last episodes. The last one
to actually air was “The Winds of Darkness,” a story with the usual
fare: a terrifying creature called the Darkling must be defeated, and
there was also fog. It ends with Dungeon Master gaslighting the children
once more, with tales of yet another way home.

On the other hand, “Requiem”—a never-produced script written by Reaves
that was intended as a possible series finale—reveals Venger’s identity
as the Dungeon Master reopens the portal (wait, he could’ve done that
the whole time?!) for the gang to choose whether to stay or go before
fading to black. We never learn their decision. Before his passing in
2020, Reaves posted the PDF on his now-defunct blog, leading to a
fan-made version of the episode created from editing together existing
footage. Now, that’s intense dedication: being so invested in the
cartoon’s outcome, fans first created a shared memory, then they created
their own finale. Evanier believes the “missing finale” adds nicely to
the lore, proving the power of the show’s legacy. In the current climate
of malicious fanboys boycotting any new or updated IP, it’s heartwarming
to see geek culture using its powers for good, albeit obsessively.

Over email, George Krstic, VP of the D&D franchise team for Wizards of
the Coast, told io9 that the “unaired final episode isn’t really part of
the official D&D cartoon canon.” But, he added, “We are all fans of it
(the cartoon) here,” and “the entire series means a lot to many players
(and myself as well). It continues to be popular on the D&D: Adventures
FAST [channel], so we know that there is hunger for more.” As for
confirming the newest online rumor: Venger still might appear in the
live-action Paramount+ series or get his own standalone cartoon. “We
want to be open to those paths,” Krstic wrote.

Another sign that the D&D cartoon characters continue to be popular came
when they popped up (in live-action!) in the TTRPG’s recent big-screen
outing. In an interview with Polygon, Honor Among Thieves co-writer and
co-director John Francis Daley said the filmmaking team easily acquired
the rights to use the animated characters’ likenesses, since they were
already part of the TSR property picked up by Wizards of the Coast. “The
rights are kind of baked into the movie, just because it’s D&D,” he
explained.

At a recent San Diego Comic-Con, Evanier watched the now-famous cameo
for the first time as young ranger and thief cosplayers sat in the
audience. “It was so great seeing those kids again,” he mused. As far as
what he thinks happened after the portal reopened: “Oh, the kids are
still trapped in that world along with Venger, Tiamat, and all my
royalties!”

Re: [Gizmodo] How the Finale of the Dungeons & Dragons '80s Cartoon Became a Pop-Culture Mystery

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From: justis...@yahoo.com (Justisaur)
Newsgroups: rec.games.frp.dnd,alt.tv.dungeon-dragon
Subject: Re: [Gizmodo] How the Finale of the Dungeons & Dragons '80s Cartoon
Became a Pop-Culture Mystery
Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2024 09:50:43 -0700
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 by: Justisaur - Thu, 28 Mar 2024 16:50 UTC

On 3/28/2024 2:07 AM, kyonshi wrote:
> Source:
> https://gizmodo.com/dungeons-dragons-80s-animated-series-finale-true-story-1851353843
>
> How the Finale of the Dungeons & Dragons '80s Cartoon Became a
> Pop-Culture Mystery
> As D&D marks its 50th anniversary, here's how the beloved '80s cartoon
> based on the TTRPG really ended—no matter what you remember.
> By
> Falene Nurse
> PublishedMarch 21, 2024
>

I was perhaps a little too old for it when it came out for its intended
audience. I enjoyed watching it when I could catch it, but that wasn't
all the time, and remembered almost nothing of it when I got the series
a year or so ago on DVD. I only watched about 3 episodes before I got
bored/turned off with it.

Same thing happened with Pirates of Dark Water around the same time for me.

I want to get Thundarr the Barbarian, but I'm worried the same will
happen with that series.

--
-Justisaur

ø-ø
(\_/)\
`-'\ `--.___,
¶¬'\( ,_.-'
\\
^'

Re: [Gizmodo] How the Finale of the Dungeons & Dragons '80s Cartoon Became a Pop-Culture Mystery

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From: gmke...@gmail.com (kyonshi)
Newsgroups: rec.games.frp.dnd,alt.tv.dungeon-dragon
Subject: Re: [Gizmodo] How the Finale of the Dungeons & Dragons '80s Cartoon
Became a Pop-Culture Mystery
Date: Fri, 29 Mar 2024 09:52:02 +0100
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 by: kyonshi - Fri, 29 Mar 2024 08:52 UTC

On 3/28/2024 5:50 PM, Justisaur wrote:
> On 3/28/2024 2:07 AM, kyonshi wrote:
>> Source:
>> https://gizmodo.com/dungeons-dragons-80s-animated-series-finale-true-story-1851353843
>>
>> How the Finale of the Dungeons & Dragons '80s Cartoon Became a
>> Pop-Culture Mystery
>> As D&D marks its 50th anniversary, here's how the beloved '80s cartoon
>> based on the TTRPG really ended—no matter what you remember.
>> By
>> Falene Nurse
>> PublishedMarch 21, 2024
>>
>
> I was perhaps a little too old for it when it came out for its intended
> audience.  I enjoyed watching it when I could catch it, but that wasn't
> all the time, and remembered almost nothing of it when I got the series
> a year or so ago on DVD.  I only watched about 3 episodes before I got
> bored/turned off with it.
>
> Same thing happened with Pirates of Dark Water around the same time for me.
>
> I want to get Thundarr the Barbarian, but I'm worried the same will
> happen with that series.
>

From what I remember Pirates has the big issue that it ends on a
cliffhanger.

I remember Thundarr, but well, those were childrens' series. And there
are few that I noticed are as good as one remembers them from their
childhood.

Re: [Gizmodo] How the Finale of the Dungeons & Dragons '80s Cartoon Became a Pop-Culture Mystery

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From: web...@polaris.net (Ubiquitous)
Newsgroups: rec.games.frp.dnd,alt.tv.dungeon-dragon,rec.arts.tv
Subject: Re: [Gizmodo] How the Finale of the Dungeons & Dragons '80s Cartoon
Became a Pop-Culture Mystery
Date: Tue, 02 Apr 2024 11:32:19 -0400
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 by: Ubiquitous - Tue, 2 Apr 2024 15:32 UTC

gmkeros@gmail.com wrote:
> On 3/28/2024 5:50 PM, Justisaur wrote:
>> On 3/28/2024 2:07 AM, kyonshi wrote:

>>> Source:
>>> https://gizmodo.com/dungeons-dragons-80s-animated-series-finale-true-story-1851353843
>>>
>>> How the Finale of the Dungeons & Dragons '80s Cartoon Became a Pop-Culture Mystery
>>> As D&D marks its 50th anniversary, here's how the beloved '80s cartoon
>>> based on the TTRPG really ended—no matter what you remember.
>>> By
>>> Falene Nurse
>>> PublishedMarch 21, 2024
>>
>> I was perhaps a little too old for it when it came out for its intended
>> audience.  I enjoyed watching it when I could catch it, but that wasn't
>> all the time, and remembered almost nothing of it when I got the series
>> a year or so ago on DVD.  I only watched about 3 episodes before I got
>> bored/turned off with it.
>>
>> Same thing happened with Pirates of Dark Water around the same time for me.
>>
>> I want to get Thundarr the Barbarian, but I'm worried the same will
>> happen with that series.
>
> From what I remember Pirates has the big issue that it ends on a
> cliffhanger.

I was too old to watch that, but I vaguely remember the commercials.
It had something to do with the water attacking ships, didn't it?

> I remember Thundarr, but well, those were childrens' series. And there
> are few that I noticed are as good as one remembers them from their
> childhood.

I enjoyed THUNDAR THE BARBARIAN and thought it would make an interesting
D&D-type game, if not just a campaign.

--
Let's go Brandon!

Re: [Gizmodo] How the Finale of the Dungeons & Dragons '80s Cartoon Became a Pop-Culture Mystery

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From: justis...@yahoo.com (Justisaur)
Newsgroups: rec.games.frp.dnd,alt.tv.dungeon-dragon,rec.arts.tv
Subject: Re: [Gizmodo] How the Finale of the Dungeons & Dragons '80s Cartoon
Became a Pop-Culture Mystery
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 by: Justisaur - Tue, 2 Apr 2024 21:47 UTC

On 4/2/2024 8:32 AM, Ubiquitous wrote:
> gmkeros@gmail.com wrote:
>> On 3/28/2024 5:50 PM, Justisaur wrote:
>>> On 3/28/2024 2:07 AM, kyonshi wrote:
>
>>>> Source:
>>>> https://gizmodo.com/dungeons-dragons-80s-animated-series-finale-true-story-1851353843
>>>>
>>>> How the Finale of the Dungeons & Dragons '80s Cartoon Became a Pop-Culture Mystery
>>>> As D&D marks its 50th anniversary, here's how the beloved '80s cartoon
>>>> based on the TTRPG really ended—no matter what you remember.
>>>> By
>>>> Falene Nurse
>>>> PublishedMarch 21, 2024
>>>
>>> I was perhaps a little too old for it when it came out for its intended
>>> audience.  I enjoyed watching it when I could catch it, but that wasn't
>>> all the time, and remembered almost nothing of it when I got the series
>>> a year or so ago on DVD.  I only watched about 3 episodes before I got
>>> bored/turned off with it.
>>>
>>> Same thing happened with Pirates of Dark Water around the same time for me.
>>>
>>> I want to get Thundarr the Barbarian, but I'm worried the same will
>>> happen with that series.
>>
>> From what I remember Pirates has the big issue that it ends on a
>> cliffhanger.
>
> I was too old to watch that, but I vaguely remember the commercials.
> It had something to do with the water attacking ships, didn't it?
>

Yes there was 'dark water' which came and attacked everything. I'd
probably describe it as a very large ooze or elemental.

>> I remember Thundarr, but well, those were childrens' series. And there
>> are few that I noticed are as good as one remembers them from their
>> childhood.
>
> I enjoyed THUNDAR THE BARBARIAN and thought it would make an interesting
> D&D-type game, if not just a campaign.

I tried once to do that, it didn't turn out great though. That could've
easily been the rules I chose (Basic D&D with a funnel stolen from DCC)
and the fact I did it online more than anything though.

--
-Justisaur

ø-ø
(\_/)\
`-'\ `--.___,
¶¬'\( ,_.-'
\\
^'


interests / rec.games.frp.dnd / [Gizmodo] How the Finale of the Dungeons & Dragons '80s Cartoon Became a Pop-Culture Mystery

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