Total Drama (seasons 1-4)
"This episode of Total Drama contains scenes of extreme stunts performed by ANIMATED TEENS. Do not try any of what you see here at home. Seriously, you could get really messed up."
Total Drama is a Canadian animated comedy television series which is a homage and parody to common conventions from reality television. Each season revolves around a group of teenagers competing in a fictional competition similar to that of Survivor, in that the contestants compete in challenges for rewards and immunity from elimination.The show and its sequel seasons are collectively referred to as the Total Drama series. It premiered on the Canadian cable channel Teletoon on July 9, 2007, and on the American cable television channel Cartoon Network on June 5, 2008. The show has gained a cult following and has spawned a franchise. A spin-off series, Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race premiered on September 7, 2015. A second spin-off, Total DramaRama, premiered on September 1, 2018 in the U.S., and on October 7, 2018, in Canada. On February 17, 2021, it was announced that a revival of Total Drama had been greenlit, with two new seasons to be produced for Cartoon Network and HBO Max in the United States.
A group of Canadian teenagers competes in a reality show in a parody of reality shows. Everything about the genre is parodied here including the challenges, rules, surprise catches, romances, alliances, back-stabbing, eliminations, confessions, and all around insanity.
Why These Seasons Are Famous
- The characters are purposely presented as one-dimensional stereotypes, because that's what producers of real reality shows often do to people through judicious editing.
- Outside of the gross-out jokes, the show excels at random and surreal comedy.
- The animation is very vivid and full of emotion.
- Exceptional voice cast.
- The high contestant count gave way for a lot of different plots, interactions, and character dynamics.
- Unique character designs for all of the cast.
- Chris McLean is, although cruel at times, a charming and entertaining character, especially for a reality show host.
- Chef Hatchet is also a pretty entertaining and hilarious character.
- The series parodies all the tropes of reality shows like Survivor, Big Brother and The Amazing Race, resulting in a comedic and a more exaggerated take on the genre.
- The show practically saved Cartoon Network from the rut during the channel's live-action show phase, paving a way for more teen-targeted shows like Regular Show to be created.
- The show also started a massive cult phenomenon with fan theories, fan arts, predictions, and analysis videos like cartoons in the future would do. For example, in YouTube there are plenty of videos of the fans' own elimination orders and videos of the character's theme songs (in which, they pick a popular song that relates the most to the character's personality).
- Plus, without this show at all, Battle for Dream Island, wouldn’t happen at all (since the first iteration of it was called “Total Firey Island,” a reference to this series’ first season, “Total Drama Island”).
- Plenty of likeable and memorable characters; especially Duncan, Noah, Owen, Gwen, Leshawna, Heather, Trent, Harold, Izzy, Cody, Lindsay, Tyler, Bridgette, Geoff, Alejandro, Mike, Zoey, B, Dawn, Brick, Jo, Dakota, Ella, Sky and Shawn.
- Sometimes the show knows how to correct their mistakes. Per instance: to compensate their early eliminations in Island, Courtney, Harold, Justin, Beth, Cody, Tyler and Noah later returned in Action and World Tour with more significant roles.
- The theme song is a banger. Enough said.
- The challenges are not only pretty creative, but also pretty cool to watch.
- World Tour is filled with awesome and memorable songs.
- Owen and Noah's friendship in World Tour and The Ridonculous Race is pretty wholesome.
- The themes and gimmicks of the first seasons are unique and creative:
- Island: A parody of Survivor set on an island.
- Action: Takes place in an abandoned movie lot and the challenges are based on movie genres.
- World Tour: A competition around the world and the challenges are based on the culture of the country, and as a twist, the contestants must randomly burst into a song when given a signal.
- Some cool concepts, like the merge where the contestants who have gone the furthest start to compete as one and the "Aftermath Show" in which the eliminated contestants reunite to talk about their experiences on the show.
- Some really great episodes, such as:
- Hawaiian Punch (Considered the best by many fans)
- Not So Happy Campers Parts 1 and 2 (Which started the series on an excellent note)
- Get a Clue
- Total Drama, Drama, Drama, Drama Island
- Up the Creek
- Basic Straining
- Haute Camp-ture
- Hook, Line, and Screamer
- I Triple Dog Dare You!
- The Very Last Episode, Really!
- Full Metal Drama
- Dial M for Merger
- Celebrity Manhunt's Total Drama Action Reunion Special
- The Princess Pride
- Mutiny on the Soundstage
- Walk Like An Egyptian Part 1 & 2
- Newf Kids on the Rock
- Planes, Trains, and Hot Air Mobiles
- No Pain, No Game
- Bigger, Badder, Brutal-er
- Backstabbers Ahoy!
- Truth or Laser Shark
- Finders Creepers
- Runaway Model
- Up, Up and Away In My Pitiful Balloon
- Brains vs. Brawn: The Ultimate Showdown
- Proper Character Development: Total Drama's character development and consistently sharp writing are notable throughout the series, with the writers and voice actors really selling some of the more shocking developments. For example, Justin was eliminated early in the first season, preventing him from developing any character traits beyond "the hot dude." However, in the second season, he develops as a sharp and genuine villain. Surprises like this, Harold's tremendous agility, and Izzy's brilliance always played well on the show.
- The fact that even the "good" characters make morally questionable decisions and mistakes was also a solid move. When Gwen and Trent both betray their teams, it doesn't make them unsympathetic, but it does make viewers question their assumptions.
- The show takes mature humor to the next level.
- There are many nude scenes, the most notorious example is in "X-Treme Torture", where Heather's top rips due to a branch, showing her bare breasts on television (albeit censored), and Harold being aroused by seeing it.
- In "That's Off the Chain!", where after Heather betrays Lindsay, Lindsay gives her the middle finger and goes on a swear-filled rant (with the swears censored, no less) at her.
- The writing is pretty lackluster:
- One example is in World Tour, which was the first time the show had 3 teams except that the same one (Team Victory) literally kept losing all it's members until it was dissolved which removed the suspense in the first episodes and gave the idea that the creators were simply getting rid of the characters they wanted to bring back but didn't knew what to do with.
- Other could be the resolution of Action, in which the final 2 contestants were Duncan and Beth. The problem is that Beth's character was never properly developed or given a conflict that gave her a reason to win the season along with the fact that she and Duncan had no connection or conflict unlike the other finalists in the show (For example, on Island, Gwen and Owen had a lot of development throughout the season and you wanted to see them win for different reasons, Cameron and Lightning had the brain vs. brawn conflict going on, Shawn and Sky worked as parallels because of their dysfunctional relationships, and Mike vs. Zoey and Heather vs. Alejandro served as a resolution to their arcs in their respective seasons). In any case, that could have been fixed by having Harold face Duncan instead of Beth; both were already enemies on Island and their rivalry continued to grow throughout Action due to all the times Duncan bullied him, seeing them fight it off in the finale would have been satisfying and interesting to watch. There were also rumors that Lindsay was originally intended to be one of the finalists to face Duncan, which makes sense given that her character developed a lot throughout the season to the point where she became a leader and developed a rivalry with Courtney; however, her actress had to face an emergency and so they replaced her with Beth.
- As a matter of fact, many fans think that Harold and Lindsay should've been the two finalists of the season considering that they had the most character development and screentime in contrast to the other contestants.
- Ultimately, there were rumors that Lindsay was supposed to have been the female finalist of Action instead of Beth. The only reason why Beth was written in the finale in Lindsay's place was because Lindsay's actress Stephanie Anne Mills had another project to work on.
- Also in Celebrity Manhunt: TDA Reunion Special, in the countries where Beth won Action's prize money, it is stated that Beth's parents used the million dollars was used to bail her and Lindsay out of French prison (they had to sell their car in the countries where Duncan won). However, the countries where Duncan won never explain what he or his family did with the money, nor was any indication given as to what he intended to do.
- And perhaps the most problematic example has got to be the infamous love triangle between Duncan, Gwen and Courtney, which by many fans is considered to be the worst part of the series. Here’s how it went: After Trent gets eliminated in Island, Gwen and Duncan begin to have friendly interactions and discover that they have things in common, mind this: friendly interactions, not romantic interactions; this eventually leads to Trent’s flanderization in Action where he begins to become paranoid of the idea of Gwen and Duncan getting together so he starts to purposely throw challenges for Gwen which eventually gets him eliminated in “3:10 to Crazytown” (the infamous episode where he is at his worst and breaks up with Gwen). After Gwen gets eliminated, the remaining parts of this romantic triangle are Courtney and Duncan, now they were a somewhat cute couple in Island but in Action, they were shown at their worst: Courtney becomes so toxic and possessive of Duncan to the point where she gives him a list of things he must change and do in order to be her boyfriend which makes Duncan begin to realize how problematic she really is. In World Tour, Duncan is absent for the first half of the season but after his return in “I See London” it’s when shit hits the fan as the 3 following episodes were only focused on this storyline: Instead of being glad that he’s back, Courtney berates him for leaving the show; then, after Duncan and Gwen kiss (remember when we said that they only had friendly interactions prior to this, that means this kiss and their romantic affair comes out of nowhere other than Trent’s worries which eventually became true) and Tyler reveals their secret, Courtney becomes so vengeful of Gwen and goes as far as to purposefully throw challenges for her team just to get rid of Gwen (which is extremely hypocritical of her especially since she's all about winning) not to mention that she flirted with another girl's boyfriend (Tyler) just to get a rise out of Duncan. The worst part is that after Gwen is tragically eliminated in “Picnic at Hanging Dork”, Alejandro begins to seduce and manipulate Courtney and she easily falls for him completely forgetting about Duncan to the point where she still supports him at the finale even after nearly killing Cody, making the entire “Dark Age” episodes pointless. And finally, in All-Stars it’s when things went from bad to worse: Duncan’s character became bland and was ruined, Courtney was a tolerable character until the terrible and infamous "Sundae Muddy Sundae" episode really destroyed her character, and Gwen got a terrible and sad story arc which went from her trying to reconcile with Courtney, to her dumping Duncan for no reason, and finally to her having a feud with Courtney again. She was almost like a completely different character since she acts more as a girly girl rather than a goth girl. Instead of fixing things once and for all or further developing Duncan and Gwen’s relationship, this season simply kept things going: Duncan loses interest in Courtney as he was in love with Gwen, it wouldn't make sense on why he would suddenly obsess over the former, since Duncan and Courtney had numerous problems and the latter obviously didn't want anything to do with him anymore. The same thing can also apply to Gwen, who didn't have any interest in trying to make things right with Courtney in World Tour, but she now is suddenly obsessed with making things right in this season. By the end of the season, Duncan ends up in jail, Courtney ends up alone and Gwen ends up nor with Duncan nor with Trent, which means that the entire storyline was pointless.
- Also, not including Trent in World Tour was a completely missed opportunity. Not only because it was a musical season and he's the musical guy, but because that would've given an actual purpose to the romantic triangle storyline as it would show Gwen having to choose between continuing her affair with Duncan or staying faithful to someone that truly loved her like Trent and thus give him a proper character sendoff when you consider that he was completely forgotten after his elimination in season 2.
- There is a lot of gross-out humor throughout the show (most of it courtesy of Owen).
- In the first few airings of the American version, most of the edits were not present. However, Cartoon Network started to make unnecessary changes in mostly the dialogue after receiving complaints. Most infamously, the words “shut up”, “stupid”, “crappy”, “freak”, and “suck” were changed to “shut it”, “lame-o”, “yucky”, and “stink”. But Trent saying “hell” and even Heather’s boobs exposed was left intact. However, over the years there were gradually less edits. And season 5 doesn’t contain any.
- That is, unless you live in Europe where they are worse. Heather getting locked in the freezer in season 1 isn’t mentioned at all. And if you thought changing “shut up” to “shut it” was bad, that’s nothing compared to when all the vomiting is cut out starting with All-Stars.
- The Latin-American dub althought is good, since in the Revenge of the Island, has declined.
- It has some plot holes:
- In World Tour, Chris specifically states several times that all contestants must sing in every episode or else they will be eliminated immediately; yet, there's a bunch of contestants that rarely or never sang like Izzy, Noah, Tyler, and especially Cody.
- In Celebrity Manhunt: TDA Reunion Special, it's revealed that Duncan and Courtney broke up after the season finale. However, in World Tour they act like they're still together.
- This would validate Gwen's argument in All-Stars when she states that Courtney and Duncan weren't together when she kissed him in World Tour.
- Heather and Leshawna started a rivalry in Island but later had a truce in Action, but with no explanation, they're enemies again in World Tour.
- In season 3's "The Ex-Files" Alejandro promised Duncan that he won't vote for him but why does he votes off Tyler instead of Owen? Owen was already starting to become suspicious of him in "The Am-AH-Zon Race" and Noah warned him about Alejandro in "I See London", Owen was also aware of Alejandro and Tyler's alliance. So why does Alejandro chooses to eliminate his ally instead of someone who was already becoming suspicious of him?
- How come Tyler still supports Alejandro after the latter got him eliminated?
- Izzy’s elimination in World Tour doesn’t make any sense: Why would she get taken by the army only because she became smart, it’s not like smart people necessarily have to join the army. It was also a bad sendoff to her character as she never returns in any future season (aside from her cameos) and because that ended her relationship with Owen.
- If the show is supposed to be a realistic animated reality show, how come we were able to see inside Mike's mind?
- Despite having a vast number of characters, there were some like Harold and Izzy, Tyler and Cody, Gwen and Noah or Trent and Bridgette that never interacted with each other despite the potential those dynamics would've had.
- There were some pretty infamous eliminations throughout the show: Noah, Tyler, Leshawna, Bridgette and Trent in Island, Gwen, Trent, Harold and Lindsay in Action, Gwen and Bridgette in World Tour, Dawn, Brick and Anne Maria in Revenge of the Island, Heather and Courtney in All-Stars and Ella in Pahkitew Island. Owen's return in Action and Blaineley's inclusion in World Tour were also controversial.
- The show went downhill in the fifth season with All-Stars being considered the worst season. It also got a bad spin-off, Total DramaRama.
- There's also a lot of flanderization from season 2 on, some examples are: Owen, Geoff and Trent who were flanderized in season 2, Duncan, Courtney, Bridgette and DJ got flanderized in season 3, Chris suffered from character derailment starting in season 4, and Lindsay, Sierra, Zoey, Gwen, Lighting, Sam and Jo who got flanderized in season 5.
- Season 4, Revenge of the Island, the shortest season, while not terrible, is considered to be the weakest of all the good seasons, as it has less episodes and excitement than the first 3 seasons, Chris started to get flanderized, some characters are underutilized (Staci for example), and these episodes have tons of problems that would become the norm of Season 5.
- World Tour had plenty of bad episodes known as Total Drama's dark age which lasted from "I See London" to "Picnic at Hanging Dork".
- Ezekiel's character became the punching-bag of the series in season 3, except that they took it too far to the point where they literally turned him into a feral monster.
- Characters like Ezekiel, Tyler, Bridgette, Trent, Katie, Beth, Eva, Staci, B and Dawn were never given proper spotlight and development. While other characters like Gwen, Duncan, Courtney, Heather, Alejandro, Mike, Cameron and Zoey were very overused.
- While some of the show's relationships like Gwen and Trent, Shawn and Jasmine, Mike and Zoey, Lindsay and Tyler, and Geoff and Bridgette are pretty cute and endorsed by the fans, others like Duncan and Gwen, Duncan and Courtney, Owen and Izzy, Harold and Leshawna or Cody and Sierra are considered to be very toxic and problematic.
- Aside from Owen, Noah and Geoff (as they all appeared in The Ridonculous Race) most of the characters haven't got proper resolutions or sendoffs. Some of them are completely forgotten after they're eliminated. These biggest examples of these include Bridgette, Leshawna and Harold (as none of them have appeared in an episode since Revenge of the Island).
- The show can be very mean-spirited, like the moments in which Harold, Ezekiel, Dakota and Ella get bullied.
- Chris' behavior would also take a massive nosedive in All-Stars and Pahkitew Island, even though he was supposed to be on parole for the events of Revenge of the Island.
- Even before season 5, there were still bad, very mean-spirited or just poorly-written episodes like
- The animation, while impressive at the time, isn't really the best for today's standards since puppet animation improved since. Though the animation is still passable for today's standards.
- The creators of the show are the same ones who made 6teen.
- The show served as an inspiration for Battle for Dream Island.
- The show's art style was inspired by Clone High.
- Various online communities see fans discussion about the series and has inspired fanfiction. The creator of the show, Tom McGills commented on the show's popularity, saying "For tweens around the world, Total Drama is more than just a parody of a reality show. It's THEIR reality show".
- There are two different winners each season.
- It has two spin-offs: Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race and Total DramaRama.
- On it's original TV run, at the end of each episode an audition tape of the character who got eliminated is shown.
- Owen, Gwen, Alejandro, Sierra and Shawn are the only ones who don't have audition tapes.
- In Island, Justin only talks in the first episode, after that, he's completely silent for the rest of the season.
- B is the only character that doesn't has a voice actor.
- Owen, Duncan, Heather, Cameron, Zoey, Shawn and the Police Cadets are considered to be the canon winners of the series.
- Duncan, Owen, Alejandro, Scott, Mike, Zoey and Cameron are the only characters that always made the merge in every season they were in.
- There are fan theories that suggest that Izzy is actually faking her insanity.
- As pointed in BQ#3, Cartoon Network censored/changed many of the original lines.
- Brick, Anne Maria, Cody and Owen were originally going to be included in All-Stars.
- After Ezekiel's elimination in World Tour, there are plenty of blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameos through the rest of the season in which his transformation into a feral monster is shown.
- On February 2021, it's been confirmed that two new seasons will air on HBO Max and Cartoon Network.