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The Powerpuff Girls[b] is an American superhero animated television series created by animator Craig McCracken and produced by Hanna-Barbera (later Cartoon Network Studios) for Cartoon Network. The show centers on Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup, three kindergarten-aged girls with superpowers. They live in the fictional city of Townsville with their father and creator, a scientist named Professor Utonium, and are frequently called upon by the city’s mayor to help fight nearby criminals and other enemies using their powers.

While attending his second year at CalArts in 1992, McCracken created a short film, Whoopass Stew!, about a trio of child superheroes known as the Whoopass Girls, which was only shown at festivals. Following the name change to The Powerpuff Girls, McCracken submitted his student film to Cartoon Network, who aired the series’ refined pilot, “Meat Fuzzy Lumpkins”, in its animation showcase program World Premiere Toons on February 20, 1995, along with its follow-up, “Crime 101”, on January 28, 1996. Network executives gave McCracken the greenlight for a full series, which debuted as a Cartoon Cartoon on November 18, 1998.

The Powerpuff Girls aired on Cartoon Network for six seasons, three specials, and a feature film, with the final episode airing on March 25, 2005. A total of 78 episodes were produced, in addition to the two pilots, a Christmas special, the film, a tenth anniversary special, and a special episode in computer animation. Various spin-off media include an anime, three CD soundtracks, a home video collection, comic books, a series of video games, a 2016 reboot series, and an upcoming second reboot, as well as various licensed merchandise. The series has been nominated for six Emmy Awards, nine Annie Awards, and a Kids’ Choice Award during its run.

Premise

The show revolves around the adventures of three kindergarten-aged girls with an array of various superpowers: Blossom (pink), Bubbles (blue), and Buttercup (green). The plot of an episode is usually some humorous variation of standard superhero and tokusatsu shows, with the girls using their powers to defend their town from villains and giant monsters. In addition, the girls have to deal with the normal issues that young children face, such as sibling rivalries, loose teeth,[8] personal hygiene,[9] going to school, bed wetting,[10] or dependence on a security blanket.[11] Episodes often contain hidden references to older pop culture (especially noticeable in the episode “Meet the Beat Alls”,[12] which is a homage to the Beatles). The cartoon always tries to keep different ideas within each episode with some small tributes and parodies thrown in.[13]

The show is set mainly in the city of Townsville, USA. Townsville is depicted as a major American city, with a cityscape consisting of several major skyscrapers. In his review of The Powerpuff Girls Movie, movie critic Bob Longino of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said, “the intricate drawings emanate 1950s futuristic pizzazz like a David Hockney scenescape,” and that the show is “one of the few American creations that is both gleeful pop culture and exquisite high art.

Three cartoon girls
The Powerpuff Girls (from left to right: Bubbles, Blossom, and Buttercup)

As depicted in the opening sequence of each episode, the Powerpuff Girls Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup were created by Professor Utonium in an attempt to create the “perfect little girl” using a mixture of “sugar, spice, and everything nice“. However, he accidentally spilled a mysterious substance called “Chemical X” into the mixture, creating three girls and granting them superpowers, including flight, superhuman strength, superhuman speed, superhuman senses, limited invulnerability, x-ray vision, red heat vision, energy projection, space survivability, and thermal resistance. In the original concept, the accidental substance was a can of “Whoopass”, which was replaced by “Chemical X” in the television show.[15]

The three girls all have abnormally large eyes inspired by Margaret Keane‘s art,[16] and stubby arms and legs, and lack of noses, ears, fingers, flat feet, toes, and necks. McCracken preferred them to look more symbolic of actual children rather than going for a “realistic” look, meaning fewer body parts were needed.[17] Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup normally wear dresses that match the colors of their eyes with black stripes, as well as white stockings and black Mary Janes. The closing theme to the cartoon offers a nutshell description of the three Powerpuff Girls’ personalities: Blossom, commander and the leader. Bubbles, she is the joy and the laughter. Buttercup, she is the toughest fighter. They individually represent body, mind and spirit.[18]

  • Blossom (voiced by Cathy Cavadini) is the self-appointed leader of the Powerpuff Girls. Her personality ingredient is “everything nice”, her signature color is pink, and she has long red-orange hair with a red bow.[19] She was named for having spoken freely and honestly to the Professor shortly after her creation as shown in The Powerpuff Girls Movie. She is often seen as the most level-headed, and composed member of the group and also strong and determined. Her unique abilities include ice breath, microscopic vision, lightning bolts, and advanced intelligence; she is also an exceptional leader, master strategist, and apt planner.
  • Bubbles (voiced by Tara Strong in the series, and by Kath Soucie in the What a Cartoon! episodes) is the “softest and sweetest” of the three.[19] Her personality ingredient is “sugar”, her signature color is blue, and she has blonde hair in pigtails. Bubbles is seen as kind and very sweet but she is also capable of extreme rage and can fight monsters just as well as her sisters can. Her best friend is a stuffed octopus doll she calls “Octi”, and she also loves animals. She exhibits the ability to both understand multiple languages and communicate with various animals; her unique powers are projecting powerful sonic screams, and creating a shockwave of thunder with a single clap from her hands.
  • Buttercup (voiced by E. G. Daily) is described as a “tough hotheaded tomboy”.[19] Her personality ingredient is “spice”, her signature color is green, and she has short black hair in a flip. She loves to get dirty, fights hard and plays rough; she does not plan and is all action.[19] Her unique powers are curling her tongue, spinning into a tornado, and creating fireballs by rubbing her hands together until smoke comes out which forms a flaming ball that she throws at an opponent. McCracken originally wanted to name the character “Bud” until a friend suggested the name Buttercup.