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Dexter's Laboratory
Dexter's Laboratory title.jpg
Dexter's Laboratory intertitle since season 2.
Format Animated series, Science fiction, Adventure, Comedy
Created by Genndy Tartakovsky
Voices of Christine Cavanaugh
Candi Milo
Allison Moore
(1996-1997; 2001-2002)
Kathryn Cressida
(1997-1999; 2002-2003)
Kath Soucie
Jeff Bennett
Eddie Deezen
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 78 (List of episodes)
Running time 22 minutes approx.
Original channel Cartoon Network (1996-2005)
Boomerang (2006-present)
Original run April 28, 1996 – November 20, 2003 (Pilot aired on February 26, 1995)
External links
Official website

Dexter's Laboratory (commonly abbreviated as Dexter's Lab) is an American animated series created by Genndy Tartakovsky and produced by Cartoon Network Studios (also co-produced with Hanna-Barbera in 1996-2001). It is about a boy genius named Dexter, who has an enormous secret laboratory, filled with an endless collection of his inventions, which is entered primarily through a bookshelf in his bedroom. Perhaps the most common recurring character who is not one of Dexter's family members is his enemy and rival Mandark, an evil boy genius who lives down the block from Dexter. However, Dexter feuds more often with his ditzy older sister, Dee Dee. She often gets inside the lab, playing with and often destroying Dexter's inventions or distracting him from his work. Despite Dexter's brilliant mind, his careless mistakes usually cause his endeavors and experiments to result in disaster, with Dee Dee often winning.


Premise and Format

Each thirty minute episode of Dexter's Laboratory consists of two to three cartoon shorts, with the exception of the series finale, "Last But Not Beast", which was one longer cartoon.

The series revolves around a boy genius named Dexter, who has a secret laboratory (which he pronounces /lə'bɒɹət(ə)ɹiː/ instead of the usual American pronunciation /'læbɹɪˌtɔɹi/) filled with highly advanced equipment hidden behind a bookshelf in his bedroom. Access to this never-ending laboratory is achieved by speaking various passwords or by activating hidden switches on the bookcase (such as pulling out a specific book). Dexter is normally in conflict with his ditzy older sister, Dee Dee, who has an uncanny talent for gaining access to Dexter's lab despite his best efforts to keep her out. Dee Dee eludes all manner of security and, once inside, delights in playing in the lab, often destroying his creations. Dee Dee, despite her hyperactive personality, sometimes makes more logical decisions that Dexter or spreads to him helpful advice. Dexter manages to keep the lab a secret from his clueless, cheerful parents, who humorously never notice evidence of the laboratory, even when it is right before their eyes.

Dexter has an arch-nemesis, a boy from his school who dubs himself "Mandark". Mandark lives down the block from Dexter and has his own secret laboratory. His schemes are generally evil and are designed to gain power for himself while downplaying or destroying Dexter's accomplishments. Dexter often makes better inventions than Mandark, but Mandark tries to make up for this by stealing Dexter's inventions. Mandark is also in love with Dee Dee, though she prefers to ignore him and never returns his affections. From Ego Trip onwards, Mandark's schemes become significantly more evil, his laboratory darker-looking and spiky, instead of the bright, bio-mechanical looking lab featuring a massive spherical structure that strongly resembles the Death Star. In season three, it is revealed that Mandark hates Dexter because when Dexter first met him on the neighborhood streets, Dexter teased him for looking like a girl.

While in some episodes Dexter succeeds at what he has set out to do, the show does not generally return the characters and situation to the status quo at the end of each episode, sometimes treating them as self-contained; most episodes end with disaster, because of a flaw in Dexter's logic or his inventions. They may end in a state with no easy solution for returning things to normal; e.g. the entire lab self-destructs and is completely gone, the earth is destroyed, Dexter is turned into a sandwich, etc. Dexter usually fails at what he has set out to do, with Dee Dee often winning.

Style of humor

The show's humor derives in part from Dexter's essentially one-sided and intense rivalry with his sister and from exaggerated stereotyping of his high intelligence and social awkwardness. The rest of Dexter's family, who is, aside from Dexter, an exaggerated stereotypical American family, also provides much of the humor, with sibling rivalry, Dexter's father's obsession with sports and TV, and his mother's obsessive–compulsive disorder tendencies. Though the family often feuds or argues, especially Dexter and Dee Dee, they always are still shown to love each other.

Much absurdist and surrealist humor is used as well. For instance, Dexter's entire house tipping over so that a spaceship can be launched from beneath, or that fact that the lab is never noticed by his parents; they are completely naive and unable to notice clues to the existence of Dexter's high-tech inventions or his laboratory, even when it is right before their eyes.


Dexter's Laboratory was inspired by one of Genndy Tartakovsky's drawings of a ballerina. After drawing her tall and thin shape, he decided to pair her with a short and blocky opposite, Dexter. In 1991, he made his first Dexter short. On February 20, 1995, Dexter's Laboratory made its first run on the The Cartoon Cartoon Show - it is now known by the episode name "Changes". On April 28, 1996, the first season began airing. Directors and writers on the series included Genndy Tartakovsky, Rumen Petkov, Craig McCracken, Seth MacFarlane, Butch Hartman, Rob Renzetti, Paul Rudish, Mark O'Hare, John McIntyre, and Chris Savino.

Dexter's Laboratory ended its initial run in 1998. The series finale was "Last But Not Beast", which differed from the format of the other episodes in that it was not a collection of cartoon shorts, but was one twenty-five minute episode. It featured Dexter's family, alongside many of the recurring characters from the Dexter universe, in a battle against a monster that Dexter had accidentally released from a volcano as an exchange student in Japan. In this episode Dexter was forced to reveal the lab to his parents, though it did end with their memories being wiped clear of the experience. Dexter's Laboratory would later be revived by a different production team.

The next year, Tartakovsky returned to direct the first and currently the only Dexter's Laboratory movie, the fifty-minute made-for-TV film, Dexter's Laboratory: Ego Trip. This was the last Dexter's Laboratory production that Tartakovsky was involved with. Thomas Chase and Steve Rucker, who were known for scoring many cartoons including the Dexter's Laboratory series, provided the film's epic musical score. In the movie, Dexter receives the news from the future that he will grow up to save the world. Unable to wait and find out how, he goes into his time machine on a quest to witness his triumph firsthand. Throughout his adventure he makes a series of clever moves as well as some careless blunders that help shape his future life. The film currently holds a "9.0 - Superb" rating on[citation needed]. Dexter's Laboratory: Ego Trip was later released to VHS and VCD.

Despite the fact that Dexter's Laboratory had already had a series finale, due to the show's popularity, Dexter's Laboratory re-entered production in 2001. The new episodes, which ran for two more seasons, had a different production team than the originals, since Genndy Tartakovsky was busy working on Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars. (MacFarlane and Hartman had left Time Warner altogether at this point, focusing on Family Guy and The Fairly OddParents, respectively.) This second line of episodes featured obviously different visual designs, minor inconsistencies with the original episodes, both in storyline and in visuals, and different sound effects. The creators did not attempt to recreate the look and atmosphere of the originals. This second series was not quite as well received as the first, and these new episodes were cancelled in their second season, without a series finale. The original episodes of Dexter's Laboratory currently air on Boomerang.


Backup segments

In some three-segment episodes of Dexter's Laboratory, the protagonist of the middle segment would sometimes be a character that regularly appeared in other episodes. There were two kinds of these segments, running during 21-minute slots: Dial M for Monkey and The Justice Friends. Dial M for Monkey appeared in the first half of the first season, while The Justice Friends appeared in the latter half of the first season. Monkey often appeared in the Justice Friends segments and vice versa, teaming with his fellow superheroes, while Dexter and Dee Dee sometimes appeared in the Monkey segments.


Dial M for Monkey

Dial M for Monkey intro card.

The Dial M for Monkey shorts feature Dexter's lab monkey, Monkey (voiced by Frank Welker), who (unknown to Dexter) has superpowers and fights evil with his secret agent and superhero partners. One episode, "Barbequor", caused a controversy and eventually led to that episode's banishment because of its portrayal of gay stereotypes. Monkey's true identity was finally revealed to Dexter in the series finale of Dexter's Laboratory, "Last But Not Beast" (though Dexter's memories were erased afterward). The segment's title derives from Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder and DC Comics' Dial H for Hero.

The Justice Friends

The Justice Friends intro card.

The Justice Friends consist of Major Glory, The Infraggable Krunk, and Valhallen, who are all roommates who live in an apartment complex. Most of the adventures of The Justice Friends deal with the three trying to balance out their superhero adventures while just trying to keep their composure living in the house. They have also appeared on at least one episode of The Powerpuff Girls. Most of these adventures play out like a sitcom along with a laugh track, used in a satirical manner. The segment's title likely derives from the DC Comics superhero organization The Justice League and its sanitized animated cartoon version, Super Friends, though the team itself is clearly a parody of Marvel Comics's Avengers title (itself the Marvel equivalent to the Justice League). The three main characters are based on the Marvel Comics characters of Captain America, Hulk, and Thor, respectively, each of whom belonged to the original Avengers comic team. Valhallen's name is a portmanteau of Valhalla, the spiritual plane of Norse mythology, and Van Halen, an American rock band. Valhallen frequently refers to himself as the "Viking God of Rock".

Both of these segments crossed over into episodes of Dial M For Monkey. In addition to Agent Honeydew and Monkey, the three superheroes are seen in action along with additional superheroes, similar to the large amount of Justice League members in "Challenge of the Superfriends".

TV Puppet Pals

TV Puppet Pals is a show-within-a-show in Dexter's Laboratory. It is watched by Dee Dee and seen in the Justice Friend's apartment. The Puppet Pals, probably due to its childish content, was never used as a back up episode, but it is seen as a few very small segments between certain episodes, using live-action puppets.

Other media


Dexter's Laboratory: Ego Trip

Hanna-Barbera (now Cartoon Network Studios), with the assistance of the series creator Tartakovsky, created a one hour television movie based on the series, titled Dexter's Laboratory: Ego Trip. The movie was first aired in 1999 and won an Annie Award.

Music videos

Four music videos were made in 2002 and had occasional airings between shows on Cartoon Network. One was a mock-anime video sung by They Might Be Giants called "Dee Dee and Dexter".

The other three were rap songs which were released on a compilation album:

  • "Back to the Lab" by Prince Paul: A pop art video highlighting the walkway sequence of a stern Dexter, marching presumably back to his lab. The video consisted of various clips and animation derived from the series' later seasons.
  • "Secrets" by singing/rapping within a color-tinged record studio, with Dexter bumping his head and mixing up beats on a turntable in the background.
  • "Dexter (What's His Name)" by Coolio: A pseudo "live" performance, essentially Coolio freestyle-rapping beside Dexter on an animated stage before a large cheering crowd composed of a host of Cartoon Network characters.


Dexter's Laboratory: The Hip Hop Experiment

Dexter's Laboratory: The Hip Hop Experiment
Compilation album by Various artists
Released August 20, 2002
Genre Hip hop
Label Cartoon Network/Columbia Records
Professional reviews

Dexter's Laboratory: The Hip Hop Experiment, a compilation album featuring songs by various hip hop artists inspired by the series, was released on August 20, 2002 on Columbia Records. The track listing for the CD are as follows:

  1. "Dexter's Laboratory Opening Theme"
  2. "Secrets" -
  3. "Dexter (What's His Name?)" - Coolio
  4. "Love According to Dexter" - Phife Dawg, introducing Slick E. Rose
  5. "Sibling Rivalries" - De La Soul
  6. "Mandark's Plan" - YZ
  7. "Back to the Lab" - Prince Paul

Video games

Four games were released to tie in with the series, Dexter's Laboratory: Robot Rampage for the Nintendo Game Boy Color (a licensed version of Elevator Action), Dexter's Laboratory: Chess Challenge for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance, Dexter's Laboratory: Deesaster Strikes! for the Game Boy Advance, and Dexter's Laboratory: Mandark's Laboratory? for the Sony PlayStation all developed and produced by the now defunct[1] publisher BAM! Entertainment. Dexter, Mandark, Dee Dee, and Dexter's computer are in the MMORPG FusionFall.[citation needed]

DVD release

Title Release date Episodes Description
The Complete Season 1 February 19, 2008[2] (AUS) 1-13 This two-disc release includes all thirteen episodes from the first season and contains the two pilot episodes "Changes" and "Big Sister", as well as a limited edition door hanger.
Season 2 (Part 1) June 11, 2008[3] (AUS) 14-32 This two-disc release includes the first half of episodes from the second season.
Season 2 (Part 2) TBA 33-52 This two-disc release includes the second half of episodes from the second season.

The first 26 episodes are also on iTunes.


External links


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