What sugary-cereal-fueled kid wouldn’t want to watch a Saturday Morning cartoon about a totally bonkers cyborg police inspector who considers a helicopter an extra appendage and can make an umbrella come out of his head?
Inspector Gadget made the eyeballs of a generation of kids bulge with every Go-Go-Gadget morph that may or may not have worked at hunting evildoers (not like anyone really cared). The series might have only put out new episodes from 1983 to 1986, but syndication ran through the early 1990s. Whether it’s his expando-arms and legs and neck, the things he randomly pulls out of his inflatable coat and everything he can turn his finger into, from a laser shooter to a water gun, Gadget made every quirky kid out there believe they could be an unconventional hero.
Never mind his niece Penny was the one behind the real heroics. While Uncle Gadget was getting his coat deflated or bouncing around a villain’s lair on springs, Penny was investigating everything with her computer book and Facetiming with Gadget’s dog Brain not just to accomplish her uncle’s missions but actually get him out of them alive.
Penny’s own gadgets predicted technology that was almost unthinkable in the era of Polaroids and cell phones the size of your head. That computer book? It’s basically your laptop with Siri and Wifi.
A series as wacky as this was bound to inspire some equally wacky toys. Inspector Gadget spawned what might have been the most awesome Burger King toys in existence back in the ‘90s. There were four versions of him that had the expanding limbs, the inflatable coat, the insta-copter — it was epic. Don’t forget the action figure of Doctor Claw that finally revealed his face, but only if you bought it, because technology had not yet evolved to the level of internet spoilers.
By the way, did you know Gadget needed a shave because he was too close to another animated character and a lawsuit? Or why the voices behind him and Penny are so recognizable? Or the inspector’s surprisingly dark past?
Watch the video to unlock these secrets — we swear it won’t self-destruct.