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How Many Writers Does It Take To Create A Forgettable ’80s Cartoon Series?

The answer is 56 writers (and 3 story editors). The show was THIS.

  • Dennis the Menace? Ouch.

  • Jacob

    I loved that show when I was a little kid… then, as I got a couple of years older, I realized how awful it was and never watched it again.

  • M.V

    Syndication = lots of episodes in production at once = lots of writers.

    I find it more interesting that male to female writers is like 10 to 1

  • JodyMorgan

    Well, to be honest, two of the story editors are also writers, so they’re double-counted.

    I had a feeling that someone who wrote for that show had to have gone on to bigger and better things, and sure enough, the last writer credited is Linda Woolverton. I wonder if someone will ask her about this show at her next public appearance?

  • Maybe all those people just wrote in gags on napkins and they used them all.

  • Matt

    Wow. Pretty shocking that a series that ran 70+ episodes with 3 stories per episode would have that many writers. That’s just nuts…

  • I liked that show.

    Also, I had no idea that Phil Hartman was the voice of the dad and Mr. Wilson in the first season.

  • Chris W

    One of the writers is Charlie Kaufman, who wrote Being John Malkovich. Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Synecdoche, New York.

    If this show kept him employed for a month or two so that he could eventually make those movies, I’d say that was ultimately a good thing.

    • jonhanson

      While I would love it if that was true it appears to be a different Charles Kaufman:

      It is worth noted that the more famous Mr. Kaufman is credited as working on the script for Kung Fu Panda 2 and I’ve always been curious what his contributions were like.

  • Stefan

    This is pretty normal for Canadian-made animated series. The head of Cinar (which would later form together with Dennis the Menace’s studio to form Cookie Jar) actually credited two of his children as writers on a couple of animated shows. I’m not even joking.

    • Mesterius

      This show was made by DiC in LA, from what I know. The fact that Canadian companies Cookie Jar and DHX owns it today doesn’t necessarily mean it was Canadian to begin with.

      • Kenshiroh

        Canadians were involved somehow. Alan Thicke’s son played Dennis. (

        • Mesterius

          It was a still a United States-made show, though… not a “Canadian-made” show.

          • There’s lots of shows involving Canadians that get confused with being a “Canadian-made” show. For instance, THE MIGHTY HERCULES (which had Canadian voice actors, Jack “Popeye” Mercer being the token American, and the actual production was done by Paramount’s Famous Studios in NYC for Joe Oriolo) and the Rankin-Bass special, RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER. (Mostly Canadian voice cast, with animation done in Japan for a studio in NYC.)

            If people want Canadian-made cartoon shows, try anything produced by Nelvana (not a DiC co-production, I mean, but by itself), Cinar, and Mainframe/Rainmaker, just to name a few. However, Rankin-Bass did produce the TALES OF THE WIZARD OF OZ (1961) TV series and its TV special follow-up, RETURN TO OZ (1964), which were indeed produced for them in Canada by Crawley Films, making them among the rare non-Japanese works for Rankin-Bass.

        • kade228

          DIC used Canadian actors in LA to get around the SAG rules. I’m surprised people on this blog don’t know that. Voice-over was recorded here in LA, Marsha Goodman was the VO director for most of their shows, but they used nearly all Canadian voice over actors so they didn’t have to pay SAG scale.

  • Lauren

    I feel blonde myself for asking, but… Blonde Dennis?! What’s the difference between this Dennis the Menace and the Dennis the Menace I grew up with in the Beano comics?

    • confusion

      This one isn’t entertaining. Or much of a menace.

    • Polecat

      I’ve never seen the UK Dennis. Can anyone give me a link to an uploaded strip? I’m really curious now.

  • Mesterius

    The show wasn’t great, and it didn’t live up to Hank Ketcham’s comic strip… but it could have been worse, too. Doesn’t warrant a “wtf” tag in my opinion. As several others have mentioned, the 65 episode syndication deal is probably why so many writers were needed. Many shows back then had only one version of the end credits made for the entire season, stuffing its entire crew into big credit blocks, rather than specifying who contributed to each episode. Most likely, these writers worked separately or in smaller groups on different episodes/shorts.

    Also, several other DiC toons from this era seems to be more deserving of a bashing like this. Behold:

    • The Title says it’s an forgettable cartoon, not an awful cartoon. I guess the WTF was for the amount of writers. Tough I agree the Popples are terrible!

    • Polecat

      Well, wait. I think the Popples were geared more toward a preschool crowd. I’m reluctant to pick on cartoons for kids that young because they’re really meant to be enjoyed by three-year-olds, not critiqued by adults. You can’t judge a toddlers’ cartoon by the same standards. Have a little mercy.

  • Jason

    I’m not going to lie, I find it really fishy. How do two comics debut the same month of the same year, have the same name, and have similar premises and just be a shear coincidence?

  • Charles Brubaker

    For what its worth, I remember watching the DiC “Dennis the Menace” on FOX Family back in 1999. Then, for some reason, Cartoon Network briefly reran it in 2001.

    • The show is still offered through Program Exchange for any station that feels it could waste a half-hour of it’s daily schedule to it.

  • Polecat

    Wow, British Dennis was really a brat. Or maybe I should say yob? Thanks, Lauren!

    • It’s fun to find out more about these things we never knew before, such as the coincidence both Dennis’s first appeared in the same year and month, only a few days apart. It’s an interesting topic for discussion surely. I like to think “great minds think alike.”

  • Kenshiroh

    They had to make up a token black friend for Dennis in the show. Hank Ketcham tried to do this once in 1970, but it didn’t turn out so well.

  • So for someone who’s never worked in the business – all of these people weren’t actually on staff, where they? Or was it as M.V. said below, that different teams of people would work on one or two episodes (or just submit a couple gags) and the producers listed they were too cheap to change the credits for each episode?

    • Charles Brubaker

      Most animation writers are freelance, so yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised.

      • Going back, one episode I kinda dig because of it’s weirdness was “The Magic Pen”, involving Dennis coming across a pen that was discarded by an alien from a UFO which turned every drawing he made into life, only to lead to a hilarious conclusion when he tried to impress Mr. Wilson with it. Some of those episodes could easily pass off for something you’d see in Urusei Yatsura.

  • thesnappysneezer

    I remember that show fondly.

  • I remember those days well.

  • Mr-Famicom

    TMS only did a few episodes of this, most of the series was done by KK C&D Asia (another Japanese studio) as TMS went off to Disney to do The Wuzzles & Adventures Of The Gummi Bears by 1984/1985 as Disney was giving TMS more money for their shows then what Dic was giving them, and they will still doing Little Nemo at that time too.

  • Mr-Famicom

    Oh, I see then. Plus I barely remember anything about this show, but from most of what I have seen when this was rerunning on Boomerang was done by C&D.

  • kade228

    I don’t know about this show specifically, but for many 80s shows with many episodes done in a hurry, there were many writers because producers were quick to hand out scripts to freelancers but often times the scripts had to be totally re-written by story editors or staff writers. In terms of DIC’s shows, Dennis The Menace wasn’t bad. There’s certainly been worse. Not sure why 80’s shows always get flogged so badly on Cartoon Brew.