This year, ‘80s cartoon series Dungeons & Dragons turns 35-years-old. The show – about a group of children trapped in a dark fantasy land known as the Realm – originally aired on CBS between 17th September 1983 and 7th December 1985 and comprised three seasons and 27 episodes.
Dungeons & Dragons featured six lead characters: Hank the Ranger, Eric the Cavalier, Bobby the Barbarian, Sheila the Thief, Diana the Acrobat and Presto the Magician. Across the course of its run, the show focused on the kids’ attempts to escape the Realm and return home, all the while escaping the clutches of the evil Venger.
Below is a rundown of twenty facts about Dungeons & Dragons, offering a guide to all the key points of the show. Read, digest, enjoy and remind yourself of just how awesome this cartoon classic truly was.
A guide to Dungeons & Dragons
1) Dungeons & Dragons was co-produced by TSR and Marvel Productions – a subsidiary of Marvel Comics. Marvel Productions produced various shows throughout the 1980s, including Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies (1985), Defenders of the Earth (1986), Jem and the Holograms (1986) and Rude Dog and the Dweebs (1989).
2) Transformers voiceover actors, Peter Cullen and Frank Welker worked on Dungeons & Dragons, with Cullen providing the voice of chief bad guy Venger and Welker voicing Uni the unicorn. Happy Days actor, Don Most voiced Eric the Cavalier.
3) At no point during the course of the series did the show ever feature an origin episode; instead the opening titles acted as the origin story, demonstrating how the kids were transported from an amusement park into the Realm. If you believe you saw an episode in which the kids were transported to the Realm, you’re wrong – it never happened.
4) In contrast to the opening titles, the show’s end credits featured a shot of the theme park at night. As the music played out, it was clear that everyone had gone home except for the kids.
5) For the second season of the show, the opening titles were revamped with a greater focus placed on the group fighting monsters within the Realm. The reworked titles were created to highlight the passage of time, demonstrating to audiences that the kids had been trapped in the Realm for quite a while. Although the titles appeared when the show originally aired, they now only exist as archive footage.
6) Upon entering the Realm, Uni the unicorn was the first character the kids met, followed by Tiamat the Queen of Dragons, the Dungeon Master and finally Venger. Hank was the first character to receive a weapon (a bow), followed by Bobby (a club), Presto (a magic hat), Sheila (a cloak), Eric (a shield) and Diana (a staff).
7) As Dungeons & Dragons never featured an origin episode it was never made clear just how long the kids had been in the Realm at the start of the first season. It was also unclear if anyone even knew the kids were actually missing.
8) In the Season Two episode, City at the Edge of Midnight the passage of time was finally addressed – and it became clear that time in the Realm moves at a different rate to time in the real world. It was established that only a few hours had passed since the kids went to the amusement park, while weeks (or possibly months) had passed in the Realm.
9) The kids were not the only ones to find themselves lost in the Realm; during the course of the series other kids found themselves transported to the Realm. Every other character who became lost in the Realm found his/her way home.
10) In addition to the central concept about lost kids, the show regularly featured sinister and pretty dark episodes. Perhaps the darkest episode was The Dragon’s Graveyard – a fan-favourite story in which the kids contemplated killing Venger.
11) The episode City at the Edge of Midnight was perhaps the creepiest episode in the entire run. The story revolved around a demon called the Nightwalker, who kidnapped children in the middle of the night and turned them into his slaves.
12) In the episode, The Time Lost, Venger opened up numerous time portals in Earth’s past with one goal in mind – to help the Nazis win World War II. Thankfully, his plan fell through but The Time Lost was yet another dark episode.
13) In the episode, The Box the kids temporarily make it back to the amusement park, but they are followed by Venger. To ensure the safety of their home the kids are forced to return to the Realm.
14) In the episode Day of the Dungeon Master, Eric is granted the powers of the Dungeon Master. Despite his immense abilities, Eric is unable to send himself or the rest of the group home.
15) In the episodes The Dragon’s Graveyard and Cave of the Fairie Dragons, it is suggested that the kids are on a journey of self-discovery and once that journey comes to a conclusion the kids will eventually return home.
16) On more than one occasion the kids are given the chance to return home, but at the last minute something always gets in the way. Across the 27 episodes, the kids open a doorway back to the amusement park eight times (The Eye of the Beholder, Beauty and the Bogbeast, The Box, The Girl Who Dreamed Tomorrow, Day of the Dungeon Master, The Dragon’s Graveyard, Child of the Stargazer and Cave of the Fairie Dragons).
17) This is possibly the most significant piece of information you need to know: The kids never made it home. NEVER! Although an episode was written to provide the kids with the opportunity to return home for good, the show was cancelled before the final episode could go into production. Technically, the kids are still trapped in the Realm.
18) Although the kids never officially make it home, the episode The Girl Who Dreamed Tomorrow suggests they do return at some point. The episode includes a vision of Bobby back at school after leaving the Realm.
19) The unproduced ‘final’ episode of Dungeons & Dragons was written by fan-favourite scribe Michael Reaves. In the episode titled Requiem, the kids are given the opportunity to return to the real world. The episode also reveals that Venger is the Dungeon Master’s son – a connection that was previously hinted at during the episodes, The Treasure of Tardos and The Dragon’s Graveyard. The script for Requiem is included on the DVD boxset of Dungeons & Dragons and is accompanied by a featurette about the un-filmed story.
20) Over the years, fans of Dungeons & Dragons have speculated that the kids were never really transported into the Realm, instead they died on the rollercoaster and the Realm was merely a form of Hell. Speaking on his blog, series writer, Michael Reaves shot down this theory, describing it as “bushwah, poppycock and balderdash.”