K. Elizabeth Cargiulo
Gargoyles: Breaking Barriers
PSA: This is a spoiler-free Gargoyles appreciation post!
As of the release of Disney+ I was finally able to dive in and binge watch Gargoyles. I’ve been a huge fan of the show ever since I saw re-runs of it as a kid over 20 years ago on late night Disney Channel programming. What is Gargoyles? Gargoyles can be best described as one of the first animated television shows (not categorized as Japanese Anime) to tackle mature subject matter such as classicism, racism, human emotions, gender roles, and many more through a Fantasy/Horror/Sci-fi lens. The show accomplishes this all while appealing to both children and adults alike due to it’s adult subject matter, and complicated story arcs, that lasted several continuing episodes beginning with the intricate origin story in the five-part pilot episode titled “Awakening”.
The show follows Goliath and his clan of gargoyles in 90’s Manhattan after they have been betrayed and awoken from a 1,000 year stone slumber. Elisa Maza, the main human character is a female police detective of African American and Native American descent (as was her voice actor at the time) that befriends the gargoyles and vows to help protect them. Other humans, such as the villain and sometimes ally David Xanatos, are often out to exploit them for their abilities.
I have revisited the series several times over the years – once attempting to purchase the entire series on DVD, only to find out Disney never released the entire series until much later (a huge error on their part), and a second time by purchasing horrible boot-legged copies on Ebay. Not one of my greatest moments, but I hate not completing a series. Both attempts left me feeling cheated. I wanted to see how the story turned out for the gargoyles I had grown so fond of, and the humans (no matter how flawed), that I admired in it’s true and unedited form. I am actually extremely grateful that Disney+ included this classic in its line up!
Original Series Air Dates:
Season 1-2 aired on Disney 1994-1996
Season 3 “The Goliath Chronicles” 1997 – Non-Canon ABC Network
To this day creator Greg Weisman remains active on several different series you may be familiar with such as The Amazing Spiderman and Young Justice, but he achieved his start with Gargoyles. He remains loyal to the show, despite Disney canceling it after only 2 seasons and moving it to it’s other company ABC Family for the 3rd non-canon season entitled The Goliath Chronicles. Weisman attempted to revive the series by picking up after season 2 with a comic book adaption that was short lived. Since then, with Disney unfortunately owning the licensing to Gargoyles there has been little movement in completing the story. Recently, when the #keepbinginggargoyles hashtag became a twitter storm, with support from Weisman, there has been a glimmer of hope in the fan community that a revival is near. This is essentially why I decided to write this blog post, if there was ever a time to watch Gargoyles, it’s now! Not only is there a slight hope of a revival, but the story and plot lines are extremely relevant to the movements in our world today including BLM and Women’s Rights. Gargoyles was one of the first animated television shows to feature women in strong main character roles, as well as including a diverse cast of many races (African American, Native American, & Hispanic/Latino). In the 90’s many of these “radical” character choices and plot-lines were nearly unheard of, especially in an animated television show.
By continuing to binge watch Gargoyles we are sending a message to Disney that we want more!
Below are my top 5 reasons so binge Gargoyles!
Sophisticated plotlines drawing upon a mix of Shakespearean lore, social/political injustices, and relatable human emotions
Representation of strong diverse female characters, especially those of color
Explorations of morality – what is good and what is evil? Are we all capable of both?
The strong relationship messages including the concept that the bonds we make transcend race, species, color, gender, etc.
Passionate fanbase that continues to make strides to continue the story
Hopefully this brief blog post either introduced you to an awesome long-lost Disney series, or encouraged you to binge watch it again!
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Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Greg Weisman, Disney, or Gargoyles. All photos are property of Disney.