The iconic role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons is experiencing quite the surge in popularity. This is partially due to the pandemic, and people taking to the game as a fun way to pass the time at home. Due to this surge in D&D love, both a live-action series and a film are in the works. But D&D was never more popular than in the 1980s, when the TSR Inc.-produced game became a cultural phenomenon. (A fact that Stranger Things has reminded us of.)
License holders eventually dreamed up a Dungeons & Dragons Saturday morning cartoon, in the hopes of of softening up the IP image with concerned parents. And the ’80s animated show eventually became iconic in its own right. Now, the wonderful YouTube channel Toy Galaxy has created a deep-dive video into the history of the cartoon show, along with all the toys that came with it. You can watch the full video, discovered via Boing Boing, right here.
But Dungeons & Dragons was almost never without its share of controversy. So why was there so much parental turmoil around Dungeons & Dragons? It’s all tied in with the “Satanic Panic” of American culture in the ’80s. Back then, almost anything aimed at young people with supernatural themes was thought to be “of the Devil.” Reactionary parents also labeled heavy metal music, and even He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, as Satanic. But due to a suicide supposedly connected to D&D (something that has never been proven), the game was especially targeted. And thus, in need of a wholesome makeover.
Marvel Productions / TSR
As the video explains, writer Mark Evanier cracked the code on how to simplify the complex mythology into something digestible for preteens. Taking a group of all-American kids and transporting them to the land of Dungeons & Dragons was a stroke of genius. But weird licensing deals resulted in the characters from the cartoon never getting toys of their own. Despite its popularity, the show only ran three seasons, so the kids stranded in D&D world never made it home. Maybe it’s time for the animated revival to finally resolve that 35-year-old plot thread. Any streaming networks out there game?
Featured Image: Marvel Productions / TSR