Saturday morning cartoons have been a huge part of most kids’ lives since the early days of The Jetsons and Scooby-Doo. After a long week at school, nothing was more exciting than sitting in front of the TV with a bowl of cereal and seeing the continued adventures of your favorite cartoon characters. In 2000, one of the greatest and most underrated animated series of all time aired on Kids’ WB. That series was none other than Jackie Chan Adventures.
There have been a surprising amount of cartoons based on celebrities, like Hulk Hogan’s Rock ’n’ Wrestling, Life With Louie, Class of 3000, and Mary-Kate and Ashley: In Action!, but the one that has stood out the most is Jackie Chan Adventures. The series follows Jackie Chan, who works as an archeologist, as he raises his niece while battling against demons and evil sorcerers. It’s such an insane premise that it actually works extremely well.
Unlike most of the other cartoons based on celebrities, this one is fantastic beyond the celebrity gimmick. If the main character wasn’t Jackie Chan and was an originally-created character, it would still be as great. It had phenomenal writing, grounded and relatable characters despite the over-the-top circumstances, riveting action that’s as entertaining as Jackie Chan’s live action films, and a unique hand-drawn animation style.
As previously stated, Jackie Chan was an archeologist in this series rather than an actor. He’s tracked down by his friend, Captain Black, who works as the head of a secret law enforcement organization called Section 13. Captain Black requests the help of Jackie in locating magical artifacts, like the Talismans and the Oni Masks, in order to protect the world. Jackie must quickly accept that magic and demons are real, take on a gang called the Dark Hand, and find these artifacts before they fall into the hands of the demon sorcerer Shendu or a number of other villains.
Each of the five seasons had Jackie racing to collect a new batch of artifacts before an evil being does. The first had the twelve Talismans (which were later used by characters throughout the rest of the series). The second featured eight demon sorcerers that needed to be captured. The third season focused on the search for the twelve noble animals. Season four involved Jackie and his allies tracking down ten Oni Masks. The fifth and final season has the heroes search for magical objects imbued with the Chi of the Demon Sorcerers from season two. Each episode ended with a segment featuring the real life Jackie Chan answering a question sent in by a young viewer.
All this happens while Jackie raises his niece and bonds with his own uncle. A lot of the show’s heart comes from the relationships between the characters. They also met plenty of friends on their journeys that provided a lot of heart and entertainment for the series. Even the villains were a ton of fun to watch.
Of course, the brilliant humor can’t be forgotten. Using a magical Talisman to bring a stuffed moose superhero to life to beat up gangsters or an archeologist fighting criminals with windshield wipers are truly hilarious concepts.
This is one Saturday morning cartoon that had a lot going on, but it never felt like too much. It was wacky, over-the-top, and just plain ridiculous at times, but the writers knew to keep everything in an understandable and heartfelt story. It’s actually quite clever looking back at it. They always knew how much to raise the bar without losing what made the show great. Everything about Jackie Chan Adventures is wildly entertaining, and it’s still worth a binge watch nowadays if you can find somewhere to watch it.