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The Untold Truth Of Ed, Edd N Eddy

For close to a decade, you would've been hard-pressed to find a show with the devout cult following of "Ed, Edd n Eddy." From its premiere at the beginning of 1999 to its highly touted finale in 2009, the show amassed a sizable and loyal fandom. The program was the brainchild of Canadian animator Danny Antonucci.

The premise of the show was staggeringly basic — three childhood friends who share the same name getting into hijinks over summer vacation. Their goal was simple: to scam their neighbors out of their allowances in order to afford jawbreakers from the candy store. These scams, as well as the trio's interpersonal dynamic, were the main focal point of the show, with the premise leading to ample hilarity. From its unorthodox animation to its punchy sense of humor, the show became a celebrated oddity on Cartoon Network. Here are just a few facts about "Ed, Edd n Eddy" that help explain the show's development and eventual rise to prominence.

The series has very adult origins/predecessors

Before he was making waves on Cartoon Network in the late '90s, Danny Antonucci had already left his fingerprints on the animation industry. Prior to the creation of "Ed, Edd n Eddy", Antonucci was an animator at Canimage Productions, which was a division of Hanna-Barbera. Under their banner he would work on such shows as "The Flintstones Comedy Hour" and "The Scooby-Doo & Scrappy Doo Show." He was also an animator on a segment of the 1981 animated anthology film "Heavy Metal," which is regarded today as a cult classic.

After these preliminary experiences in the industry, Antonucci struck out on his own to create original content. As mentioned in an interview with Xolo TV, Antonucci's first major solo effort spawned from a desire to show animation wasn't just for kids. His first project would be "Lupo the Butcher" — a sick and twisted short film about a foul-mouthed Italian butcher. In the wake of its premiere at the Spike and Mike's Festival of Animation, the short became a cult classic. Following this success, Antonucci would found a.k.a. Cartoon Inc., where he'd create another gross-out cartoon, "The Brothers Grunt," for MTV. Both these early works were equally original and visually repulsive — a stark contrast to Antonucci's early and later works.

The series was created on a dare

"Ed, Edd n Eddy" has quite possibly one of the weirdest yet most simplistic origin stories of any animated series. Much of the series' early history is elaborated on both the "Ed, Edd n Eddy" Season One and Two DVD releases. After breaking into adult animation with "Lupo the Butcher" and "The Brothers Grunt," Antonucci hit an unfortunate bump in the road. His MTV series "The Brothers Grunt" was critically panned and canceled — it's often regarded as one of the ugliest cartoons ever made. Despite the bizarre and often gonzo nature of '90s animation, Antonnuci's vision was just a bit too strange for prime time. Following this, Antonucci would return to the drawing board and, spurred on by a dare, create the Eds.

Yes, one of the most beloved cartoons of all time and Cartoon Network's longest-running series was created on a dare! Following this, Antonucci would draw up three goofball-looking characters that he felt satisfied with and began developing the series. Once he had a proper series bible, he submitted it to the two biggest names in town for cartoons, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. The latter responded in only 20 minutes, and once they agreed to Antonucci's demand for full creative control, the series began development.

The series is still the longest-running Cartoon Network series

At a time when animated shows are canceled left and right, it's almost impossible to imagine one lasting for multiple years. It's fair to say that "Ed, Edd n Eddy" was one of those rare lightning-in-a-bottle creations for Cartoon Network. The series is a prime example of backing the right creator with the right idea at just the right time. The series would run for a total of 137 episodes, four specials and a movie — making it Cartoon Network's longest series.

Having originally debuted back on January 4, 1999 and lasting until November 8, 2009 the Eds were a televised presence for a full decade. This accomplishment has still not been surpassed by any current animated series on the network. Bear in mind that includes "Adventure Time" and "Regular Show" — both of which lasted a little under a full decade. While the show is far from the longest-running animated series of all time – that pedigree still belongs to "The Simpsons" — it's still a noteworthy milestone.

The Halloween episode is the creator's favorite

It's clear by watching "Ed, Edd n Eddy" that Danny Antonucci is a big fan of science fiction and horror movies — specifically, cheesy B-movies that one would likely see on late-night cable or VHS. This is made abundantly clear through the character of Ed's um, monster proclivity toward horror and monsters, as seen in episodes like "Knock Knock Who's Ed?". This character trait would also play an immense role in what Antonucci considers to be his favorite episode, "Boo Haw Haw."

The show's one and only Halloween special premiered in October of 2005 and boasted some of its greatest visuals. Not that the series never had moments of quality animation, but the presentation in this one was a cut above the rest. Mentally rewired by non-stop horror movies, Ed is seeing the Cul-De-Sac kids as horrific movie monster homages. This is a natural hindrance to the Eds en route to the mythic neighborhood of Spook-E-Ville. What ensues is 22 minutes of the Ed boys' standard hijinx with a welcome dose of horror cinema style. It's a special that can proudly side-by-side with some of TV's best Halloween specials, both old and new.

All the characters have roots in real life

It's best to write what you know, and in the case of "Ed Edd n Eddy," that's exactly what Danny Antonucci did. Many online analysts and longtime fans of the show have noted its ability to evoke childhood memories of summer break. Peach Creek — the town the Ed and other kids live in –- is a stand-in for any child's quaint hometown. Not only was the setting designed to resemble Danny's childhood stomping grounds, but, according to Antonucci in interviews on the "Ed, Edd n Eddy" DVD releases, many of the characters were directly influenced by real life people.

For example, Johnny and Plank were based on a neighborhood pal of Antonucci's who would just carry his blanket around with him 24/7. Additionally, he's noted that the Eds themselves are based on his own mental state and various neuroses. These infusions of his own personality and childhood associations helped to make the world of "Ed, Edd n Eddy" stand out. Even if the situations themselves are complete cartoon absurdity, there's a good chance you knew kids like this growing up.

Its animation style was intentional

The "Ed, Edd n Eddy" fandom was quite the place to be in the 2000s — from forums to homegrown fansites. A commonly recurring topic during this time regarded the show's rather unique animation and visual style. Unlike many other cartoons of the 2000s, which were embracing a cleaner more angular style, the Eds went in the exact opposite direction. Veering away from the straight lines of their peers, a.k.a. Cartoons imbued the show with a stylistic messiness. The backgrounds present in the show were anything but symmetrical and the character's outlines boasted a wiggly motion. While on the surface this might appear to be an unintentional animation goof, in actuality it was a fully intentional choice.

Antonucci told Animation By Mistake about this "boiling line" style before, and attributes it to his affinity for old-school hand-drawn animation. Upon its premiere in 1999, a few commentators noted that the show's unique style made it feel as though it were drawn by kids. Even today the series is remembered for its trademark style, which is still celebrated through fan drawings and animations.

The characters' tongue colors are a childhood homage

For many viewers, "Ed, Edd n Eddy" appealed to their own inner child and real-life memories. As previously mentioned, much of this stemmed from Danny Antoucci infusing the show with his own childhood occurrences and affiliations. One aspect of the show that Antonucci mined from real life was the kids' shared trait of having bizarre tongue colors. The Eds and the Cul-De-Sac kids all have tongues that range from green to even bright orange.

Antoucci told Animation By Mistake that this stylistic choice was influenced by his kids and their friends having colored tongues from eating candy. This not only became a recurring visual quirk of the show, but the presence of candy also became integral to the plot. More often than not, the Eds' harebrained schemes occurred in the pursuit of money for jawbreakers. The jawbreakers of the show were presented as 10 times bigger than the real life candy, only adding to the show's childlike insanity.

The show hit a ratings high point in early 2007

It's not uncommon for an animated children's series to reach a high enough level of popularity to warrant a marathon. For decades, both Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network have scheduled programming blocks entirely around one show or a shared theme, such as the holidays. Nickelodeon upped the ante when in 2006 they dedicated a 24-hour marathon entirely to airing every single episode of "SpongeBob Squarepants." The "Best Day Ever" marathon –- named after a then-new episode of the same title — was a definite success, and it wasn't long before Cartoon networked announced a similarly-named a marathon of their own, featuring one of their most popular shows: "Ed, Edd n Eddy."

The heavily promoted "Best Day Edder" marathon (see what they did there?) landed on Cartoon Network in April 2007. The whole event was used as a lead-in for the two-part episode "A Fistful of Ed" which was advertised as the then-final episode. This was false, as it would be followed by two extra episodes the following year and the "Big Picture Show" movie in 2009. Regardless of the accuracy of its marketing, the event definitely brought in a sizable amount of television viewers for the channel: The "Best Day Edder" marathon was a ratings success, garnering Cartoon Network its best ratings during the first half of 2007.

Its production made it an outlier on Cartoon Network

From the word go, "Ed, Edd n Eddy" set itself apart as an oddity amongst the Cartoon Network programming lineup. Not only was Danny Antonucci given ample creative control over his own vision, but the production of the show itself would also be very different. Unlike previous Cartoon Network shows made at the time, "Ed, Edd n Eddy" wouldn't be produced by Hanna-Barbera (per the Canadian Independent Film & Television Publishing Association). This was definitely a unique move at the time as Hanna-Barbera — while not Cartoon Network's in-house production company — still played a major role in the production of many Cartoon Network cartoons.

It's very clear that Hanna-Barbera, especially at this time in its history, was an integral part of Cartoon Network's DNA. But given Antonucci's increased amount of creative control, the production would take place off-site at his own studio, a.k.a. Cartoon Inc. These unique circumstances would result in "Ed, Edd n Eddy" standing out from its peers on the network in terms of production and visual style. 

Kevin was the only male character to have a female voice actor

The world of voice acting is perhaps one of entertainment's most versatile fields in terms of opportunities for actors to play various roles. With live-action roles, one might be restrained by their build or gender, but voice acting is very flexible. A major example of this is just how many female voice actors portray male characters in animated shows, movies, and even video games. "Ed Edd n Eddy" was no stranger to this trend, as one of their signature characters — Kevin the neighborhood jock — was voiced by a woman. That woman in question was Kathleen Baar, a name that might not sound familiar, but one you've certainly heard before.

Kathleen has a resume a mile long, populated by roles in some noteworthy animated franchises, such as "My Little Pony." But for fans of the Eds, she will always be known as the loudmouthed Kevin, and as the middle child of the Kanker Sisters, Marie.

The Eds have cameos on other animated shows

It's one thing for a show to have an intense fandom, but to be admired by other animators is quite the compliment. There is an inspiring trend among animated shows — especially ones on the same network — to pay tribute to one other from time to time. This can manifest in either a small background Easter egg, or a full-fledged cameo from another show's characters. "Ed, Edd n Eddy" is no stranger to this treatment, as the trio have made appearances in other Cartoon Network shows.

One of the most noteworthy was a brief cameo in another Cartoon Network crossover, "The Grim Adventures of the KND." The special saw "The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy" collide with the world of "Codename: Kids Next Door." In the opening scene, Billy calls the Eds for help, but is turned away when they find out he's broke. Additionally, in "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends," the Eds make a very brief appearance in the episode "Eddie Monster." Near the ending of the episode, we see a boy, modeled after Dexter from "Dexter's Laboratory," conversing with three boys modeled after the Eds. These are just a few examples of the times other shows saw fit to show appreciation for Danny Antonucci's brainchild.

Its studio has seen tragedy in real life

It's hard to keep the laughs going when real-life tragedy occurs -– which, sadly, was what happened to a.k.a Cartoon, Inc. back in 2007.

Paul Boyd was a Canadian animator who was active from the '90s to the late 2000s. He's best known for his work on "Ed, Edd n Eddy," having created the opening title sequence for the series. That sequence is still regarded as one of the catchiest in all of children's animation, perfectly setting the stage for the show proper. Sadly, Paul, for all of his creative gifts, dealt with own personal issues.

Paul was diagnosed was bipolar disorder; his life would tragically be cut short at the age of 39, when he was shot by a Vancouver police officer in 2007 while reportedly wielding a chain. (Video shot by passersby appears to corroborate the story; the officer was later cleared.) 

Following these horrific events, a.k.a. Cartoon, Inc. paid tribute to their fallen colleague with a message in the show's final episode: "Paul Boyd. 1967-2007. We miss you, you big lug."

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.