Twenty years ago, the world was introduced to the municipality of Townsville, the rotten apples hell-bent on destroying it, and its three kindergarten-aged saviors in the What a Cartoon! short “Meat Fuzzy Lumpkins.” Craig McCracken’s creation became a phenomenon in 1998, when The Powerpuff Girls became a weekly series. With its 2002 movie, it’s still currently the only Cartoon Network show to get the full-length film treatment. Here are some things you might not have known about the series.
1. THEY WERE ORIGINALLY KNOWN AS ‘THE WHOOP-ASS GIRLS.’
Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup got their start on a McCracken student film at CalArts called Whoopass Stew. The Whoop-Ass Girls obtained their powers not from Chemical X, but from a can of whoop-ass.
2. THE GIRLS’ EYES WERE INSPIRED BY MARGARET KEANE’S WORK.
McCracken thought drawing the girls with big eyes, similar to Keane’s paintings, would be funny. McCracken instructed animators to draw their feet like “socks filled with wet sand.”
3. BUTTERCUP’S NAME WAS INITIALLY BUD.
McCracken was going for a tomboy name befitting her character, but “Blossom, Bubbles, and Bud” just didn’t work. Thankfully, a friend suggested Buttercup.
4. THEY HAD DIFFERENT NAMES IN DIFFERENT PLACES.
On Cartoon Network Latin America, they were Chocolate, Bubble, and Acorn (Bombón, Burbuja, Bellota.) On Italian TV, Lolly, Dolly, and Molly saved the day.
5. EXECUTIVES—AND YOUNG BOYS—WEREN’T ENTIRELY SOLD ON THE SHOW (AT FIRST).
After an 11-year-old boy in a focus group said that McCracken should be fired, the animator put a show “bible” together for network executives in order to give a better understanding of what they would be putting on the air. In it, he asked Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup 20 questions each, and had them answer in their own voices.
6. MOJO JOJO WAS INSPIRED BY A CHARACTER FROM A JAPANESE LIVE-ACTION SCI-FI SERIES.
Spectreman was produced in Japan in 1971, and first shown in the United States seven years later. Dr. Gori was a mad scientist from a simian planet who was up to no good.
7. MOJO JOJO IS VOICED BY THE SCREAM MOVIE KILLER.
Roger L. Jackson was the voice of Ghostface, murderer of many doomed teens, in Wes Craven's Scream. Mojo’s dialogue is based on Speed Racer’s dubbed speech patterns and a DC Comics dictionary called The Superdictionary that McCracken had as a child. The book would go over the definition of words over and over and over again using different simple sentences.
8. ‘HIM’ IS THE DEVIL.
The demon creature was referred to as the Devil at first, before Cartoon Network said no religious references were allowed on their shows.
9. FROM THE BEGINNING, THE SHOW WAS VERY, VERY POPULAR.
The series premiere in 1998 ("Monkey See, Doggie Do/Mommy Fearest") was the highest rated debut in Cartoon Network history. Both boys and girls made it the highest rated show on the network for years. The stars of the show were on a NASCAR car and on the sides of Delta airplanes. They even had their own cereal.
10. IT CONVINCED MCCRACKEN’S KID NEIGHBOR TO START FLOSSING.
When his mother informed him that his creation got the girl from across the street to start flossing, he insisted that he “didn’t mean to be responsible for that."