Captain Planet and the Planeteers

This article is about the TV series. For the video game based on this TV series, see Captain Planet and the Planeteers (video game).
Captain Planet and the Planeteers
Also known as ''The New Adventures of Captain Planet (1993–1996)
Genre Superhero fiction
Created by Ted Turner
Barbara Pyle
Voices of David Coburn
LeVar Burton
Joey Dedio
Kath Soucie
Janice Kawaye
Scott Menville
Whoopi Goldberg (1990–1993)
Margot Kidder (1993–1996)
Composer(s) Thomas Chase
Steve Rucker
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 113 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Andy Heyward
Robby London
Barbara Pyle
Nicholas Boxer
Belinda Devreemtoes
Ted Turner
Running time 25 minutes
Production company(s) DIC Entertainment[1][2] (1990–1993)
Hanna-Barbera[3] (1993–1996)
Turner Program Services (1990–1996)
Distributor Turner Program Services (1990–1996)
Telepictures Distribution (1996–2003)
Warner Bros. Television Distribution (2003–2007)
Captain Planet Foundation (2007–present)
Original network TBS
Original release September 15, 1990 – May 11, 1996
Followed by The New Adventures of Captain Planet
External links

Captain Planet and the Planeteers is an American animated environmentalist television program created by Ted Turner and Barbara Pyle.[4] The series was produced by Turner Program Services and DIC Entertainment and it was broadcast on TBS from September 15, 1990 to December 5, 1992.[2] A sequel series, The New Adventures of Captain Planet, was produced by Hanna-Barbera and Turner Program Services, and was broadcast from September 11, 1993 to May 11, 1996.[3] Both series continue today in syndication.[5] The program is a form of edutainment and advocates environmentalism.[6][7]

In February 2009, Mother Nature Network began airing episodes and unreleased footage of Captain Planet and the Planeteers on its website.[8][9]


Gaia, the spirit of the planet, is awakened from a long sleep by Hoggish Greedly, who happens to be drilling above her resting chamber. Realizing that the damage is extensive, Gaia sends five magic rings, four with the power to control an element of nature and one controlling the element of Heart, to five chosen youths across the globe: Kwame from Africa, Wheeler from North America, Linka from the Soviet Union (changed to Eastern Europe after the Soviet Union's dissolution), Gi from Asia, and Ma-Ti from Brazil.

These five are dubbed the Planeteers and are tasked with defending the planet from environmental disasters and making efforts to educate mankind to keep others from happening. In the beginning of the episodes, Gaia uses her "Planet Vision" in the Crystal Chamber to discover where the most devastating destruction is occurring (in most episodes one or more of the Eco-Villains is behind it) and sends the Planeteers to help solve the problem. The Planeteers use transportation (usually a flying machine called a Geo-Cruiser) based on solar power to avoid causing pollution themselves.

In situations that the Planeteers cannot resolve alone, they can combine their powers to summon Captain Planet, a super hero, who possesses all of their powers magnified, symbolizing the premise that the combined efforts of a team are stronger than its individual parts. Captain Planet only appears in his Captain Planet garb. These are not clothes but elements of the planet that are integral to his composition. Captain Planet's outfit does not represent a specific culture. He has a grass-green proto-mullet, crystal blue skin, earthy brown eyes, a fire-red chest, gloves, trunks, and boots, and a sun-yellow globe insignia. Besides having classical super-hero powers such as flight, super-strength and invulnerability, he is also able to rearrange his molecular structure to transform himself into the various powers and elements of nature. On the other hand, he is very sensitive to pollutants, which can weaken him considerably.

The Planeteers cannot use their rings while Captain Planet has been summoned.[10] Captain Planet is a formidable and valiant hero. Once his work is done, Captain Planet returns to the planet, restoring the Planeteers' powers. When he does this, Captain Planet reminds viewers of the message of the series with his catchphrase, "The Power Is Yours!" which is said to mean that all have the power to end the destruction of the planet if we work together as one world rather than fighting each other as separate nations.

Every episode is followed up with at least one "Planeteer Alert", often connected to the plot, where environmental-political and other social-political issues are discussed and how the viewer can contribute and be part of "the solution" rather than "the pollution".[11]


Captain Planet

Captain Planet (voiced by David Coburn) is the title character of the series. In the beginning of the series, Gaia assembles a modern-day team of "Planeteers" from several nations. When the modern-day Planeteers combine their powers to summon the elemental warrior, this incarnation takes on the appearance of a superhero, who takes on the superhero-like name of "Captain Planet." Captain Planet displays a wry sense of humor and often uses puns while taunting the show's cast of villains. His only weakness is when he comes into contact with sources of pollution.


Gaia (voiced by Whoopi Goldberg in 1990–1993, Margot Kidder in 1993–1996) is the spirit of the planet. She is a modern rendition of the primordial Greek personification of the Earth, possessing an amalgamation of physical characteristics from all human races.

Awaking from a century-long slumber, and shocked with the increase in pollution of planet that has sustained in such a short (by her standards) time, she summons the Planeteers to defend the planet and gives them each an elemental ring.

Gaia lives on Hope Island, an island with large crystals in the middle of an ocean, although its exact location is never revealed. She is omnipresent; she can appear in any time or place she wishes, and can communicate telepathically with anyone at any point in time. She is bound to the planet, and her health and well being are connected with the condition of the planet.

In a September 2012 interview with Barbara Pyle and Nick Boxer it was stated that the Hope Island was located near the Bahamas.[12]

The Planeteers

The Planeteers. Clockwise from top left: Gi, Kwame, Linka, Ma-Ti, and Wheeler.

The Planeteers are summoned by Gaia to defend the world from pollution, criminals, villains and natural disasters. The five teenagers, each originating from a different region of the world and who together represent several major ethnic groups, are each given a ring which allows them to temporarily control one of the four classical elements – Earth, Fire, Wind, and Water – as well as a fifth element, Heart, which represents love and communication and enables telepathy and empathy, as well as potential mind control. Pyle cites that the inspiration for the five Planeteers came from real people that she met during the show's pre-production in 1989.

To summon Captain Planet, the Planeteers must activate their powers in a specific order, (Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, and Heart) preceded by the phrase, "Let our powers combine"; after his appearance, the Planeteers would cheer, "Go Planet!" It can be noted that during the DiC series, the sequence of special effects preceding Captain Planet's appearance differed each and every time. In the Hanna-Barbera series, there were some creative ideas for Captain Planet's appearance when being summoned; but most of the time, it consisted of flashes of lightning, along with sounds of thunder. Animation in the DiC series was inconsistent, showing some episodes as darker or brighter in color than others, and characters looking different from one episode to the next, and in some cases one segment (or even shot) to the next. The Planeteers' rings are, like Captain Planet himself, susceptible to weakening when in the presence of toxic waste and pollution to the point that they can no longer use their powers or summon Captain Planet.

Since the show takes place all over the world, The Planeteers have many methods of travel. The Geo-Cruiser is the 'usual' vehicle for the Planeteers. It is a solar-powered flying craft, in the design of a jet. The Geo-Cruiser is yellow in colour during the original seasons, but during season six it is given a paint job, and is decorated with red. The Geo-Cruiser can hover, allowing it to land on top of buildings and in rough terrain. The Eco-Cycles are stored somewhere on the Geo-Cruiser, although it is not known how they are stored, or if they are aboard for every mission. Their engines are not fuel-combustion, as that would pollute the air. Most likely their engines are electric, as their engines make a low whirring noise when in use, and they have flashing lights. The Geo-Copter is a yellow helicopter the Planeteers will occasionally use instead of the geo-cruiser. The Eco-Sub is usually used in missions closer to Hope Island. Occasionally, the Planeteers will also use the Eco-Sub to investigate issues out in the middle of the ocean. The Eco-Sub is shaped a lot like the Geo-Cruiser. It is yellow in colour, and is fitted with a periscope. The Planeteers are occasionally seen carrying out maintenance on it. Gi is its main driver and operator.


The evil Eco-Villains united in Summit to Save Earth, Part 1. Clockwise from left: Dr. Blight, Verminous Skumm, Duke Nukem, Hoggish Greedly, Zarm, Looten Plunder, and Sly Sludge.

The Eco-Villains are a small group of antagonists who cause danger to the planet by committing pollution, deforestation, and poaching. They enjoy the destruction they cause to the planet and the harm they bring upon anyone by any means to obtain wealth, land, or power. Due to conflict among them from their varying self-serving interests and backgrounds, they tend to work alone most of the time, although episodes do show the villains enter into temporary alliances when it suits their plans. Only in one two-part episode did the entire ensemble of Eco-Villains work as a team, with Zarm as the leader. Each of these villains represent a specific ecological disaster. These include:

Minor villains

Commander Clash

An army soldier (no nationality given) stranded on an island in the episode Mission to Save Earth. (How and why he got stranded was never explained.) The Planeteers encounter him when the eco-villains cause their vehicle to land on the island. Clash initially treats the Planeteers as enemies, but they reconcile and help defeat the eco-villains and Captain Pollution. Clash later helps the Planteers defeat Zarm in the later episode Summit to Save Earth.

Captain Pollution

A polluting counterpart to Captain Planet named "Captain Pollution" appears in the two-part episode Mission to Save Earth when Dr. Blight steals the Planeteers' rings, creates polluting duplicates of them, and distributes the duplicates to most of the other Eco-villains. Each Eco-villain received a specific ring:

Each of the evil rings have malevolent faces on them, in contrast to the more element-themed Planeteer rings. Captain Pollution is weakened when he is in contact with pure elements such as clean water or sunlight, while he gains power from contact with pollutants, being able to absorb pollutant and emit radioactive rays (and is later shown to gain power without limit when in contact with pollutants after his resurrection). When he is summoned he says "By your polluting powers combined, I am Captain Pollution! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!", and when he disappears, he declares "The polluting power is yours!"

In his first appearance, he is sent by the Eco-villains to destroy the Planeteers but gets chased off by Commander Clash, and after a fight with Captain Planet, he returns to the evil rings causing them to explode. In the two-part episode "A Mine is a Terrible Thing to Waste", Captain Pollution is brought back to life by toxins of the 5 evil rings that seep into the planet.

Captain Pollution resembles Captain Planet, but his skin is pale yellow, and covered in brown lesions. His hair is red, and styled in a Widow's peak and he has red eyes. His costume is the same color and style as Planet's, but the globe on his chest is torn in the middle. His voice has a California Valley twang to it. Captain Pollution is defeated twice by Captain Planet; first in Mission to Save Earth by being rammed through earth, lava, air and water, and then again in A Mine is a Terrible Thing to Waste by being tricked into going into an underground magma chamber.

Like his good counterpart, Captain Pollution is voiced by David Coburn in both appearances. Coburn used a surfer-dude voice for Captain Pollution. In the comic book version, Captain Pollution was created by Zarm.


Episodes handling apparent adult issues

"Mind Pollution"

The episode titled "Mind Pollution" (1991) was notable[15] in that it did not deal with the environment, but rather with the issue of drug abuse. This was explained by the fact that the characters thought of drug addiction as "pollution of the mind." The episode revolved around an epidemic of a designer drug known as "Bliss" created by Verminous Skumm. It was also known for being quite a dark episode in the Captain Planet series, as it allowed a scene of Linka's cousin Boris bleeding from his arms after jumping through a window and dying from an overdose of the drug.

"A Formula for Hate"

The episode titled "A Formula for Hate" (1992) was also unusual for the series in that it did not deal with environmental pollution or destruction. It was also the first episode in an American children's animated series to directly deal with the HIV/AIDS pandemic.[16] In the episode, Skumm brainwashes a local community into thinking the virus can be spread through casual contact, and thus causing people to hate and fear a young man, infected with HIV, named Todd Andrews (voiced by Neil Patrick Harris, with his mother voiced by Elizabeth Taylor).

The New Adventures of Captain Planet

The original series was the second longest running US-cartoon of the 1990s, producing 113 episodes. It lasted for three seasons under the name Captain Planet and the Planeteers (produced by TBS Productions and DiC), before a production company switch, changing the title to The New Adventures of Captain Planet (produced by Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, which was acquired by Turner in 1991). During this time, it aired as part of TBS' Sunday Morning In Front Of The TV block, alongside fellow H-B toons SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron and 2 Stupid Dogs.

This series revealed more of the past of each of the characters, and expanded on it dramatically. Gi tells the story of her pet dolphin, while Linka is revealed to have a mining family who used canaries to detect lethal gases in the mines, and her opening sequence generalizes her birthplace as Eastern Europe to avoid confusion in viewers born after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991. This would place her canonical birthplace among one of the countries that gained their independence when the Soviet Union collapsed.

The tone of these episodes was more mature than the initial series, often explicitly mentioning death or dying. The characters' relationships with each other were more mature, and the language was also more direct. This is likely attributed to the aging of the initial audience.

Several changes were noticeable, most significantly the animation style. While the character models from the DiC episodes were retained and the original DiC opening sequence used, the new animation relied less on shading and was slightly more colorful. Many of the characters had refurbished outfits. The sound effects utilized when the Planeteers used their rings were changed and the echo in Captain Planet’s voice when he emerged was gone. The DiC seasons' synth rock soundtrack was replaced by a large number of orchestral pieces, and while the famous end credits theme was retained, the ending sequence now showcased footage from the Hanna-Barbera episodes. A small number of cast changes occurred, affecting Gaia and most of the eco-villains. The opening narration was spoken by David Coburn (Captain Planet) rather than LeVar Burton (Kwame) and, in the final season, was replaced by a rap by Fred Schneider of The B-52's.




Special guest stars


The show's intro theme was composed by Tom Worrall.

The ending theme (maintained by both DIC and Hanna-Barbera’s versions) is considered one of the most memorable parts of the series due to its catchy main chorus and rock track ("Captain Planet, he’s our hero, gonna take pollution down to zero"). Its lyrics were written by show producer Nick Boxer[19] and is performed by Murray McFadden and Timothy Mulhollan. During the end credits, James Coburn, in character as Looten Plunder, utters the line "You'll pay for this, Captain Planet.". This is then followed by a rap from the Planeteers.

Other media

Pyle and Boxer demanded that the series' merchandise be made sustainably; because of this, several of the companies producing Captain Planet-themed merchandise had to completely overhaul their means of production to manufacture recycled and recyclable products.


As with many popular cartoons, Captain Planet had a line of action figures and vehicles. Released by Tiger Toys in 1990, the line ran for several years, long enough to tie into the New Adventures series. The toys were repackaged and sold by Grand Toys in Canada and Kenner throughout Europe. The toys were of average poseability, with the common five points – neck, shoulders, and hips.

Finding a comprehensive list of what was released is difficult, since not all toys shown in the initial retailer catalog were even released. The collector's market is small, the toys being somewhat rare on eBay. The Captain Planet Foundation still sells a small number of them online, however. There may have also been further foreign variations of certain toys which may be even more difficult to catalog. Various toys from the New Adventures waves are not as likely to be well known.

The five Planeteers, five Eco-Villains, Commander Clash, and several versions of Captain Planet, each with a different gimmick or paint scheme, were released, along with several vehicles. A toy ring with lights and sound and interchangeable lenses for the five elements was also released. Four small vehicles were also sold through a Burger King promotion.


Marvel Comics published a short-lived comic series for 12 issues to tie in to the show; however, the comics were a separate continuity. While not effectively part of the Marvel Universe, issue #4's cover was a parody of the cover to Fantastic Four issue #1.

Video games

A video game based on the series was developed for the Nintendo Entertainment System by Mindscape called Captain Planet. The game, which involved a good deal of shooting, received negative reviews from game critics and thus a Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) version of the game was canceled. A separate side-scrolling game was developed by Novalogic for the Mega Drive/Genesis, but only saw release in Europe and Australia.[20]

David Perry and Nick Bruty developed a ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC game using the license, a 3-level shoot 'em up. A game was also released in 1990 for the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST, written by Tony Crowther. This was a platform game, and was briefly bundled with the Amiga 500 "Cartoon Classics" pack released in 1991.[21] A Commodore 64 game was in development but never released. Tiger Toys, owners of the action figure license, also created an LCD hand-held game.

In the video game Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion, Captain Planet appears as one of the unlockable characters in both Nintendo 3DS version and XL for Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360.

Home video

Several VHS tapes were released, usually with a single episode each. A DVD with four episodes and bonus features exists but was only available as part of a "Planeteer Pack" purchased from the Captain Planet Foundation.[22] This promotional DVD contained the episodes "A River Ran Through It", "A Perfect World", "Gorillas Will Be Missed" and "The Big Clam Up" plus " Planeteers in Action", a short clip about Captain Planet Foundation.[23] The "Planeteer Pack" special is no longer available.

Shout! Factory released a DVD set of the complete first season in the U.S. on April 19, 2011. The DVD packaging is made of 100% recycled paper.[24]

Madman Entertainment released the first season in Australia on July 6, 2016.[25]


Multiple attempts have been made to create a film adaptation of Captain Planet. The first occurred in 1996 when Boxer and Pyle wrote a film adaptation of Captain Planet originally titled Planet.[26] Five years later, Michael Reaves revised the concept as Dark Planet or Planet. The storyline was darker than the series, and set in a post-apocalyptic time period. However, the script was lost when Turner and Warner Bros. merged in 1996.[27] The film reached the design stage before it was abandoned.

Other attempts at a film version were made in 2007 [28] 2011 [29][30] and 2013 [31] However none of these versions came to pass. In October 2016 it was reported that Paramount Pictures and Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way were attempting to develop a new Captain Planet movie and is in negotiations with Jono Matt and Glen Powell to write the script.[32]


Captain Planet Foundation (CPF)

Founded in 1991, series producer Barbara Pyle negotiated a percentage of the show’s merchandising revenue to empower young people. Schools and organizations around the world can present their environmental projects to the Foundation and receive seed money to grow their ideas. In 2001, Time Warner decided to shut down the CPF due to a challenging merger with AOL. Laura Seydel and her husband Rutherford Seydel worked with Time Warner to orchestrate the transition of the corporate foundation to a public charity. In 2007, CPF acquired the rights to exhibit previous episodes of Captain Planet and the Planeteers online and on-air, thus "allowing this valuable resource to reach out and educate the children of today!"[33] As of 2015, it is chaired by Laura Turner Seydel, daughter of Ted Turner; the board includes Barbara Pyle.[34]


  1. Kahn, Eve M. "Television; Cartoons for a Small Planet" The New York Times (March 3, 1991).
  2. 1 2 "Captain Planet And The Planeteers"., April 12, 2012
  3. 1 2 "The New Adventures of Captain Planet "., April 12, 2012
  4. Pyle, Barbara. "Barbara Pyle, with Ted Turner and Robert Larkin III created the animated action series Captain Planet and the Planeteers". Barbara Pyle Productions. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  5. Jensen, Elizabeth (April 22, 2006). "An Aging Superhero Wins a Life Beyond Reruns". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-13.
  6. Captain Planet Zooms to the Rescue of the Environment, Washington Post – Sep 16, 1990
  7. Szymanski, Michael (1990-02-03). "Captain Planet: Here He Comes to Save the Day". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  8. Mother Nature Network | Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Mother Nature Network
  9. "Mother Nature Network: Online Media Finally Catches up to Sustainability Needs", Fast Company (2009-02-04)
  10. Season 1 Episode 1: A Hero For Earth 14:46–14:50
  11. "Children's Television Programming Report". Federal Communications Commission. 30 December 2006. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  12. "We are Barbara Pyle and Nick Boxer, Co-creators and Exec. Producers of "Captain Planet and the Planeteers." AMA!". Interviewly. 15 September 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  13. Captain Planet: Meet the characters Mother Nature Network
  14. "3D Realms Site: Duke Nukem I". 1991-07-01. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  15. "Terrifying moments in childrens television". Rambling Beach Cat. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  16. Mendoza, N.F. (1992-11-21). "'Capt. Planet' Tackles the AIDS Crisis". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  17. King, Susan (1990-09-02). "Celebrities Lend A Voice, Hand Or Name To Fall's New Children's Programs". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  18. Mendoza, N.F. (1995-04-09). "Kids Shows that Aim to Raise Awareness as Well as Entertain". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  19. Captain Planet: The theme song Mother Nature Network
  20. "Captain Planet and the Planeteers on MobyGames". Retrieved 2008-08-24.
  21. "Amiga Longplay Captain Planet and the Planeteers". YouTube. 2007-07-26. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
  22. "Captain Planet Foundation". Archived from the original on 17 May 2008.
  23. "Welcome to Captain Planet Foundation's Co-Store". Archived from the original on 2008-02-17. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
  24. "Captain Planet And The Planeteers: Season One". Retrieved 2016-08-17.
  25. "Captain Planet Season 1 - DVD". Retrieved 2016-08-17.
  26. "Michael Reeves interview, in which he recalls the title as simply "Planet"". Retrieved 2007-02-08.
  27. "Michael Reaves's website, listing the script as "Dark Planet"". Archived from the original on 2009-02-19. Retrieved 2008-04-20.
  28. "Ted is currently in talks to create a possible movie version of the cartoon – wonder who will play Captain Planet?". Retrieved 2016-08-17.
  29. Zeitchik, Steven (July 19, 2011). "Cartoon Network's 'Captain Planet' will be drawn into film". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  30. Rosenfeld, Everett (22 July 2011). "With Hollywood's Powers Combined, a 'Captain Planet' Movie Will Hit Theaters". Time News Feed. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  31. "'Captain Planet and the Planeteers' Movie in the Works From Sony (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter.
  32. "Leonardo DiCaprio, Glen Powell Teaming for 'Captain Planet' Movie (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter.
  33. "Our History". Captain Planet Foundation. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  34. "Board and Staff". Captain Planet Foundation. Archived from the original on January 10, 2015. Retrieved January 5, 2015.

External links

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