Jonny Quest (TV series)

Jonny Quest
Also known as 'The Adventures of Jonny Quest'
Genre Adventure
Science fiction
Created by Doug Wildey
Written by

William D. Hamilton

Walter Black
Charles Hoffman
Joanna Lee
Alan Dinehart
Herbert Finn
Doug Wildey
William Hanna
Joseph Barbera[1]
Directed by William Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Voices of Tim Matheson
Mike Road
Danny Bravo
John Stephenson
Don Messick
Theme music composer Hoyt Curtin
Composer(s) Hoyt Curtin and Ted Nichols
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 26 (list of episodes)
Producer(s) William Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Running time 25 minutes
Production company(s) Hanna-Barbera Productions

Screen Gems (original)

Worldvision Enterprises (syndication through 1992))
Original network ABC
Original release September 18, 1964 – March 11, 1965

Jonny Quest (also known as The Adventures of Jonny Quest) is an American animated science fiction adventure television series about a boy who accompanies his scientist father on extraordinary adventures. It was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions for Screen Gems, and created and designed by comic book artist Doug Wildey.

Inspired by radio serials and comics in the action-adventure genre, it featured more realistic art, characters, and stories than Hanna-Barbera's previous cartoon programs. It was the first of several Hanna-Barbera action-based adventure shows – which would later include Space Ghost, The Herculoids, and Birdman and the Galaxy Trio – and ran on ABC in prime time on early Friday nights for one season in 19641965.

After spending two decades in reruns, during which time it appeared on all 3 major US television networks of the time, new episodes were produced for syndication in 1986 as part of The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera's second season. Two telefilms, a comic book series, and a more modern revival series, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, were produced in the 1990s.


Comic book artist Doug Wildey, after having worked on Cambria Productions' 1962 animated television series Space Angel,[2] found work at the Hanna-Barbera studio, which asked him to design a series starring the radio drama adventure character Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy.[3]

Wildey wrote and drew a presentation, using such magazines as Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and Science Digest "to project what would be happening 10 years hence," and devising or fancifully updating such devices as a "snowskimmer" and hydrofoils. When Hanna-Barbera could not or would not obtain the rights to Jack Armstrong, the studio had Wildey rework the concept. Wildey said he "went home and wrote Jonny Quest that night — which was not that tough." For inspiration he drew on Jackie Cooper and Frankie Darrow movies, Milton Caniff's comic strip Terry and the Pirates, and, at the behest of Hanna-Barbera, the James Bond movie Dr. No. Fictional characters like Doc Savage and Tom Swift were also there. Actor Sabu Dastagir inspired the character of Hadji. As Wildey described in 1986, producer Joe Barbera had seen that first film about the English superspy "and wanted to get in stuff like [Bond's code-number] '007' — numbers. Which we included, by the way, in the first [episode of] Jonny Quest. It was called 'Jonny Quest File 037' or something. We dropped that later; it didn't work. But that was his father's code name as he worked for the government as a scientist and that kind of thing."[3] Hanna-Barbera refused to give him a "created by" credit, Wildey said, and he and studio "finally arrived on 'Based on an idea created by', and that was my credit."[3]

The prime-time animated TV series Jonny Quest debuted on ABC at 7:30PM EDT on Friday, September 18, 1964.[4] As comics historian Daniel Herman wrote,

Wildey's designs on Jonny Quest gave a cartoon a distinctive look, with its heavy blacks [i.e. shading and shadow] and its Caniff-inspired characters. . . . The show was an action/adventure story involving the feature's namesake, an 11-year-old boy. The cast of characters included Jonny's kid sidekick, named Hadji, Jonny's globetrotting scientist dad . . . and the group's handsome bodyguard, secret agent Race Bannon, who looks as if he stepped out of the pages of [Caniff's comic strip] Steve Canyon. . . . The look of Jonny Quest was unlike any other cartoon television show of the time, with its colorful backgrounds, and its focus on the characters with their jet packs, hydrofoils, and lasers. Wildey would work on other animation projects, but it was with his work on Jonny Quest that he reached his widest audience, bringing a comic book sense of design and style to television cartoons.[5]

Wildey did not design the more cartoonishly drawn, pet bulldog, Bandit, which was designed by animator Dick Bickenbach.[3]

Although they do not appear in any episode, scenes from the Jack Armstrong test film were incorporated into the Jonny Quest closing credits.[3][6] They are the scenes of Jack Armstrong and Billy Fairfield escaping from African warriors by hovercraft. The test sequence and a number of drawings and storyboards by Wildey were used to sell the series to ABC and sponsors.

Scenes from the abandoned Jack Armstrong test film.

The show's working titles were The Saga of Chip Baloo, which Wildey said "wasn't really serious, but that was it for the beginning",[3] and Quest File 037.[7][8][9] The name Quest was selected from a phone book, for its adventurous implications.[3][10]


The Quest team. Front row (left to right): Dr. Benton Quest and "Race" Bannon. Back row: Jonny Quest, Hadji, and Bandit

The Quests have a home compound in the Florida Keys (on the island of Palm Key), but their adventures take them all over the world. The Quest team travels the globe studying scientific mysteries, which generally end up being explained as the work of various bad guys. Such pursuits get them into scrapes with foes that range from espionage robots and electrical monsters to Egyptian mummies and pterosaurs. Although most menaces appeared in only one episode each, one recurring nemesis is known as Dr. Zin, an Asian criminal mastermind.[20] With yellow skin and a diabolical laugh, Zin was an example of the Yellow Peril villains common in Cold War-era fiction.[20][21] The voices of Dr. Zin and other assorted characters were done by Vic Perrin. Race's mysterious old flame, Jade, appears in two episodes, as do the characters of Corbin (an Intelligence One agent) and the Professor (a scientist colleague of Dr. Quest's). The 1993 made-for-TV feature Jonny's Golden Quest included in its plotline the concept that Race and Jade had been briefly married years earlier, but it also depicted Race and Hadji in place with the family at Mrs. Quest's death, in direct contradiction to explicit statements in the original series. Her first name is revealed in Tom and Jerry: Spy Quest to be Jezebel.

Animation technique

As the first major studio devoted to television animation (with previous studios, such as Warner Bros. and Disney, devoted to animation for theatrical release), Hanna-Barbera developed the technique of limited animation in order to cut corners and meet the tighter scheduling and budgetary demands of television. As opposed to full animation, this means that characters generally move from side to side with a sliding background behind them and are drawn mostly in static form, with only the moving parts (like running legs, shifting eyes, or talking mouths) being re-drawn from frame to frame on a separate layer.

This was particularly true of Jonny Quest. The series' visual style was unusual for its time, combining a fairly realistic depiction of human figures and objects with the limited animation technique (although not so limited as that of Hanna-Barbera's contemporaneous daytime cartoons, or Wildey's previous work at Cambria which featured even less character movement). The series made heavy use of rich music scores, off-screen impacts with sound effects, reaction shots, cycling animations, cutaways, scene-to-scene dissolves, and abbreviated dialogue to move the story forward, without requiring extensive original animation of figures. For example, objects would often reverse direction off-screen, eliminating the need to show the turn,[22] or a running character would enter the frame sliding to a stop, allowing a single drawn figure to be used.[23]

Broadcast history

Jonny Quest first aired on September 18, 1964, on the ABC network, in prime time, and was an almost instant success, both critically and ratings-wise. It was canceled after one season.

Like the original Star Trek television series, this series would be a big money-maker in syndication, but this avenue to profits was not as well-known when the show was canceled in 1965. Reruns of the show were broadcast on CBS from September 9, 1967, to September 5, 1970, and on NBC from September 11, 1971, to September 2, 1972. Along with another Hanna-Barbera series, The Jetsons, Jonny Quest is one of the few television series to have aired on each of the Big Three television networks in the United States. Reruns also aired sporadically on Cartoon Network from the time of its launch on October 1, 1992, until May 4, 2003, and it has been reshown periodically since then on that network. It also aired reruns on Boomerang since April 1, 2000 until October 2, 2011. Then it returned on July 23, 2012 and ceased on June 1, 2014.


No.TitleOriginal air date
1"The Mystery of the Lizard Men"September 18, 1964 (1964-09-18)
While investigating the disappearance of shipping in the Sargasso Sea, Dr. Quest discovers a secret laser base (operated by a foreign provocateur and protected by lizard-suited scuba divers) hidden aboard an old shipwreck. Note: Hadjii does not appear in the episode
2"Arctic Splashdown"September 25, 1964 (1964-09-25)
A foreign submarine crew races Dr. Quest and his recovery team (aboard an American icebreaker) to a downed experimental missile on the arctic ice cap. First appearance of Hadji.
3"The Curse of Anubis"October 2, 1964 (1964-10-02)
A former archaeologist friend (turned Arab nationalist revolutionary), who is being stalked by a vengeful mummy, attempts to frame Dr. Quest for the theft of a priceless artifact in Egypt.
4"Pursuit of the Po-Ho"October 9, 1964 (1964-10-09)
While going to the aid of a captive fellow scientist in the Amazon jungle, Dr. Quest is abducted (for ritual sacrifice) by a tribe of hostile native warriors.
5"Riddle of the Gold"October 16, 1964 (1964-10-16)
While investigating a bar of fake gold from a supposedly exhausted mine in India, Dr. Quest uncovers an alchemist counterfeiting ring (conceived by his nemesis, Dr. Zin, and operated from the palace of a maharajah impostor) that could damage the world financial market.
6"Treasure of the Temple"October 23, 1964 (1964-10-23)
While on an archaeological expedition to an ancient city in the Yucatán jungle, Dr. Quest is threatened by a ruthless British treasure hunter (and his native Indian confederates), searching for riches in the same ruins.
7"Calcutta Adventure"October 30, 1964 (1964-10-30)
While investigating a mysterious illness in India, Dr. Quest discovers an underground nerve gas factory (operated by a master criminal and protected by hazmat-suited guards) hidden high within a remote mountain range. (Flashback episode, recounting the adoption of Hadji.)
8"The Robot Spy"November 6, 1964 (1964-11-06)
The Quest nemesis, Dr. Zin, sends a giant, cyclops, robot spider (by flying saucer-like craft) to a U.S. government research facility in the American Southwest to steal the secrets of a ray gun project on which Dr. Quest is working.
9"Double Danger"November 13, 1964 (1964-11-13)
An impostor disguised as Quest family bodyguard, Race Bannon, is infiltrated into Dr. Quest's expedition to gather a rare pharmaceutical plant by his nemesis, Dr. Zin (who covets the plant's potential mind-control properties), in the jungles of Thailand.
10"Shadow of the Condor"November 20, 1964 (1964-11-20)
After an emergency landing in the Andes mountains, Quest family bodyguard Race Bannon is challenged to an aerial dogfight by Baron Heinrich von Frohleich, an old German fighter ace (who keeps a collection of vintage aircraft at his Bavarian-style castle in South America) of World War I fame. The Baron’s guns are loaded – Race Bannon’s are not.
11"Skull and Double Crossbones"November 27, 1964 (1964-11-27)
A new cook aboard the Quest research vessel betrays his employer to a band of Mexican pirates (seeking sunken treasure, discovered by Jonny) in the Caribbean Sea.
12"The Dreadful Doll"December 4, 1964 (1964-12-04)
While researching marine biology in the Caribbean, Dr. Quest discovers a phony witch doctor, who is protecting a secret submarine base (under construction by a criminal contractor) with his supposed voodoo powers.
13"A Small Matter of Pygmies"December 11, 1964 (1964-12-11)
When members of his extended family go down in a plane crash over uncharted jungle, Dr. Quest must rescue them (with the help of local authorities) from a tribe of hostile Pygmy warriors.
14"Dragons of Ashida"December 18, 1964 (1964-12-18)
On a visit to Japan, Dr. Quest finds that an old biologist friend (having gone insane) is breeding over-sized carnivorous lizards for the purpose of hunting human prey.
15"Turu the Terrible"December 25, 1964 (1964-12-25)
While searching for a rare strategic mineral in the Amazon jungle, Dr. Quest discovers a pteranodon trained by a wheelchair-bound slave driver to capture native workers needed for his mining operation.
16"The Fraudulent Volcano"December 31, 1964 (1964-12-31)
While investigating unusual eruptions on a tropical island, Dr. Quest discovers a secret ray gun base (operated by his nemesis, Dr. Zin, and protected by hovercraft-mounted guards), hidden deep within a local volcano.
17"Werewolf of the Timberland"January 7, 1965 (1965-01-07)
While hunting for petrified wood samples in the forests of Canada, Dr. Quest is threatened by a gang of lumberjacks (one of whom disguises himself as a werewolf) intent on protecting their gold smuggling operation.
18"Pirates From Below"January 14, 1965 (1965-01-14)
The Quest family home in Florida is attacked by foreign (submarine-borne) agents, intent on stealing a new undersea crawling vehicle that Dr. Quest is developing for the United States Navy.
19"Attack of the Tree People"January 21, 1965 (1965-01-21)
Jonny and Hadji are marooned (by shipwreck) on the jungle coast of Africa, where they are adopted by a tribe of friendly apes who protect them from a pair of Australian poachers, intent on kidnapping them for ransom.
20"The Invisible Monster"January 28, 1965 (1965-01-28)
Dr. Quest comes to the aid of a fellow scientist who has accidentally created an (invisible) energy monster on a South Pacific island. Generally remembered as the most frightening episode in the series.
21"The Devil's Tower"February 4, 1965 (1965-02-04)
While doing atmospheric research in Africa, Dr. Quest discovers an inaccessibly high plateau, populated by prehistoric cavemen, who have been trained as slave laborers (for diamond mining) by a Nazi war criminal in hiding named Klaus Heinrich von Dueffel.
22"The Quetong Missile Mystery"February 11, 1965 (1965-02-11)
While investigating the contamination of fish in China, Dr. Quest discovers a secret missile base (operated by a rogue general and protected by tree-top posted guards) hidden deep within a local swamp. (Title card shows "The 'Q' Missile Mystery" for the 1964–65 season's re-run of this episode.)
23"The House of Seven Gargoyles"February 18, 1965 (1965-02-18)
On a visit to the castle residence of a fellow scientist in Norway, Dr. Quest must help protect his friend's latest invention (an anti-gravity generator) from a cat-burglar, disguised as a gargoyle on the roof, who regularly breaks into the house.
24"Terror Island"February 25, 1965 (1965-02-25)
Dr. Quest is kidnapped by a rival scientist who needs help with his experiments to create giant (crab, spider, and lizard) creatures at a secret laboratory compound in Hong Kong.
25"Monster in the Monastery"March 4, 1965 (1965-03-04)
During a Quest family trip to Nepal, a band of terrorists in yeti disguise attempt to overthrow the local spiritual/government leader (a Dalai Lama-style figure) who is an old friend of Dr. Quest's.
26"The Sea Haunt"March 11, 1965 (1965-03-11)
Responding to a maritime distress call in the Java Sea, The Quest family is stranded aboard an abandoned freighter ship with an (amphibious) sea monster.


While it was running in reruns on Saturday morning in the late 1960s, Jonny Quest became a target of parental watchdog group Action for Children's Television (ACT) for its uses of violence, murder, weapons, depictions of monsters, and tense moments. Reruns were taken off network television in 1972 (moving into syndication), but returned to Saturday morning, in edited form, sporadically afterward..


The percussion-heavy big band jazz theme music for the 1960s series and each episode's score were all composed by Hoyt Curtin. In a 1999 interview, he stated that the jazz band for the series consisted of 4 trumpets, 6 trombones, 5 woodwind doublers, and a 5-man rhythm section.[24] Alvin Stoller or Frankie Capp usually played drums. While a string section comes in at moments of tension or pizzicato for comic relief, the score is primarily driven by a big brass sound. Curtin stated that the band took about an hour to record the main theme. It contained a trombone solo performed by jazz veteran Frank Rosolino, and a complex riff in which the trombone players were physically unable to keep up with the rapidly changing slide positions needed.[24] Cues in the series were generally recorded in one take, done by a regular group of union session players who could "read like demons." The cues were, of course, later recycled for other Hanna-Barbera series (The Herculoids, The Fantastic Four, Birdman and the Galaxy Trio etc.).

For the later animated series, the music was adapted for orchestra and added major dramatic and intriguing tones.

The original version of this theme song became available on the double vinyl album and CD release by TVT Records titled Television's Greatest Hits, Vol.2: From the 50s and 60s, produced in 1990, and on that recording the composition is called merely Jonny Quest. In October 2016, La-La Land Records released a licensed 2-CD set of Jonny Quest cues with 106 tracks and almost 2-1/2 hours of music.[25]


Items released in the United States during or shortly after the show's original run on ABC included:

Home video

Various episodes of the classic series have been released on VHS and DVD over the years.

On May 11, 2004, Warner Home Video released Jonny Quest: The Complete First Season on DVD in Region 1, which features all 26 episodes of the original series,[35] although some have been edited for content, and nearly all episodes have incorrect closing credits.[36]

Production credits


  1. Writing credits for Jonny Quest (1964)
  2. Herman, Daniel. Silver Age: The Second Generation of Comic Artists (Hermes Press, Neshannock Township, Pennsylvania, 2004) p. 195. Trade paperback ISBN 978-1-932563-64-1
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Olbrich, David W. "Doug Wildey, an interview with the creator of Jonny Quest", Amazing Heroes #95 (ISSN 0745-6506), May 15, 1986, p. 34 WebCitation archive
  4. "Jonny Quest and Television".
  5. Herman, pp. 195-196
  6. "Was that 'Jack Armstrong' film ever broadcast?", at Classic Jonny Quest FAQ, retrieved 2014-02-23.
  7. Castleman, Harry, and Walter J. Podrazik, Harry and Wally's Favorite TV Shows, Prentice Hall Press, 1989
  8. Brooks, Tim and Earle Marsh, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present, Ballantine Books, 1995 (sixth ed.)
  9. TV Guide Guide to TV (Barnes and Noble Books, 2004)
  10. Barbera, Joseph (1994). My Life in "Toons": From Flatbush to Bedrock in Under a Century. Atlanta, GA: Turner Publishing Company. p. 152. ISBN 1-57036-042-1.
  11. "Jonny Quest End Credits"
  12. "The Mystery of the Lizard Men," Jonny Quest, 18 September 1964
  13. "Double Danger," Jonny Quest, 13 November 1964
  14. Quest documentary, part 11 on YouTube
  16. "Bannon coat of arms, family crest and Bannon family history".
  17. Boucher, Geoff (2009), "Hero Complex: In Search of Jonny Quest", Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2009
  18. "Calcutta Adventure". Jonny Quest. Season one. Episode seven. 30 October 1964.
  19. Blosser, Lyle P. (2008), "Classic Jonny Quest FAQ", accessed 23 March 2013.
  20. 1 2 Saturday morning fever, Timothy Burke, Kevin Burke pp. 113-116
  21. The supervillain book: the evil side of comics and Hollywood, Gina Renée Misiroglu, Michael Eury, Visible Ink Press, 2006
  22. Quest documentary, part 5 on YouTube
  23. Quest documentary, part 6 on YouTube
  24. 1 2 Quest documentary, part 16 on YouTube
  26. Jonny Quest P.F. Flyer Magic Ring at
  27. Jonny Quest Coloring Books at
  28. Jonny Quest Card Game at
  29. Jonny Quest Puzzles at
  30. Jonny Quest Paint-/Pencil-/Crayon-By-Number Sets at
  31. Jonny Quest Games and Toys: Jonny Quest Board Game at
  32. Kenner Give-A-Show Projector at
  33. Jonny Quest Games and Toys: Kenner Movie Projector at
  34. Jonny Quest in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea] at
  35. Jonny Quest at
  36. Fuqua, Craig. "Jonny Quest Warner DVD Deficiencies". Retrieved 18 April 2012.

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