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Jonny Quest (TV series)

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Jonny Quest (TV series)

Jonny Quest
Also known as The Adventures of Jonny Quest
Genre Adventure
Science fiction
Created by Doug Wildey
Directed by William Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Voices of Tim Matheson
Mike Road
Danny Bravo
John Stephenson
Don Messick
Theme music composer Hoyt Curtin
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
Distributor Screen Gems
Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Original channel ABC
Original run 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,[1] 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.[2]

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. 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.[2] 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."[2]

The prime time animated TV series Jonny Quest debuted on ABC at 7:30PM EDT on Friday, September 18, 1964.[3] 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.[4]

Wildey did not design the more cartoonishly drawn, pet bulldog, Bandit, which was designed by animator Dick Bickenbach.[2]

Although they do not appear in any episode, scenes from the Jack Armstrong test film were incorporated into the Jonny Quest closing credits.[2][5] 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",[2] and Quest File 037.[6][7][8] The name Quest was selected from a phone book, for its adventurous implications.[2][9]


The Quest team. Front row (left to right): Dr. Benton Quest and "Race" Bannon. Back row: Jonny Quest, Hadji, and Bandit
  • Jonathan "Jonny" Quest is an 11-year-old American boy who lost his mother at an early age. Though unenthusiastic in his schooling, he is intelligent, brave, adventurous, and generally athletic with a proficiency in judo, scuba diving, and the handling of firearms. He takes on responsibility willingly, attending to his studies, and treating adults with respect. His voice was provided by actor Tim Matheson.
  • Dr. Benton C. Quest is Jonny's father and a scientific genius who works for the U.S. Government. He is considered to be "one of the three top scientists in the world," with interests and technical know-how spanning many fields. Raising Jonny and Hadji as a single father, he is conscientious and decent, though willing and able to take violent decisive action when necessary for survival or defense. Benton Quest was voiced by John Stephenson for five episodes, and by Don Messick for the remainder of the series.
  • Roger T. "Race" Bannon is a special agent, bodyguard, and pilot from Intelligence One. Governmental fears that Jonny could "fall into the wrong hands" resulted in Bannon's assignment to guard and tutor him.[10] Race was born in Wilmette, Illinois, to John and Sarah Bannon.[11] He is an expert in judo, having a third-degree black belt as well as the ability to defeat noted experts in various martial arts, including sumo wrestlers. The character was voiced by Mike Road, with his design modeled on actor Jeff Chandler.[12] The name is a combination of Race Dunhill and Stretch Bannon from an earlier Doug Wildey comic strip.[2] The surname Bannon is Irish (from 'O'Banain') meaning "white".[13][14]
  • Hadji is a streetwise 11-year-old Calcutta orphan who becomes the adopted son of Dr. Benton Quest and also Jonny's best friend.[15] Rarely depicted without his bejeweled turban and Nehru jacket, he is proficient in judo, which he learned from an American Marine. The seventh son of a seventh son, Hadji seems to possess mystical powers (including snake charming, levitation, magic, and hypnotism) which may or may not be attributed to parlor trickery. The Quests meet Hadji while Dr. Quest is lecturing at Calcutta University; he saves Dr. Quest's life (by blocking a thrown knife intended for the doctor with a basket lid) and is subsequently adopted into the Quest family.[16] Though slightly more circumspect than Jonny, he can reliably be talked into participating in most any adventure by his adoptive brother. He is voiced by Danny Bravo.
  • Bandit is the name of Jonny's pet, a small white dog. He has been so named because his eyes have a black, mask-like coloration around them. This coloration is occasionally instrumental in foiling antagonists. He is unique among his fellow Hanna-Barbera dogs (such as Scooby-Doo, Huckleberry Hound, and Hong Kong Phooey), as he is a regular non-anthropomorhic dog. Though, he seems uncannily able to understand human speech and is capable of complex facial expressions. Don Messick provided Bandit's vocal effects, which were combined with an archived clip of an actual dog barking. Creator Doug Wildey wanted to have a monkey as Jonny's pet, but he was overruled by Hanna-Barbera.[2] Wildey has also said that Bandit was intended to be a bulldog.[17] However, Bandit does not actually conform to any breed standard. His tail is too long for any bulldog variant. He is too small to be an English Bulldog, unless he remains a puppy throughout the series. His ears are floppy, so he does not conform to the breed standard for a French Bulldog. In many ways he resembles a pug, except that pugs have a distinctive curved tail.
  • Jade is Race's old love interest. She is a soldier of fortune type spy and is also a recurring character. In one episode, it is shown that Jade knows how to detect who a man really is by kissing him. She is as intelligent as she is cunning. Jade is voiced by Cathy Lewis.

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.[18] With yellow skin and a diabolical laugh, Zin was an example of the Yellow Peril villains common in Cold War-era fiction.[18][19] 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.

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). 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,[20] or a running character would enter the frame sliding to a stop, allowing a single drawn figure to be used.[21]

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. This makes it one of the few (if not only) television series to air on all three of the major national broadcast networks in the USA. 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.

Censorship and controversy

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.[22] 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.[22] 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.


A simple substitution code ring was offered as a promotion by PF Flyers. The ring featured a movable code wheel, magnifying lens, signal flasher and a secret compartment. The code was implemented by a rotating circular inner code dial marked "ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ" and a fixed outer code marked "WEARPFSLQMYBUHXVCZNDKIOTGJ", i.e. "Wear PFs".

Home video

Various episodes of the classic series have been released on VHS 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,[23] although some have been edited for content, and nearly all episodes have incorrect closing credits.[24]

On April 8, 2014, Warner Home Video released Jonny Quest: The Complete Eighties Adventures on DVD in Region 1, which features all 13 episodes of the series,[25]

Popular culture

  • The popular South African 1965 series Jet Jungle's titular character bears a striking resemblance to Race Bannon, wearing a full-cover black body-suit; and being a super-agent adventurer, some fans have even speculated or projected that Jet Jungle series was the story of Race's secret-agent alter-ego missions prior to joining the Quest team as veteran agent bodyguard, whose background is never fully explained in the series.
  • Jonny Quest, Dr. Benton Quest, Race Bannon, Hadji, and Bandit appear in the Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law episode "Bannon Custody Case" with Jonny Quest voiced by Dee Bradley Baker, Dr. Benton Quest voiced by Neil Ross, Race Bannon voiced by Thom Pinto, and Hadji voiced by Wally Wingert. Harvey Birdman had to represent Dr. Benton Quest when Race Bannon (who is being represented by Vulturo) wants custody of Jonny and Hadji. Some other characters were seen during the custody trial each one claiming that Race Bannon was with Jonny and Hadji more. Harvey Birdman soon discovers that the Race Bannon present was actually a robot and that the stenographer was actually Dr. Zin (voiced by Billy West) using the robot in a plot to get Jonny and Hadji. The plot was thwarted where Dr. Zin was arrested and Vulturo flees. It turns out that the real Race Bannon was on vacation.
  • Characters from Jonny Quest appeared in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. In "Pawn of Shadows," Jonny Quest, Dr. Benton Quest, Race Bannon, and Hadji were seen in a flashback when Alice May recaps her training of using weapons by Ed Machine in a plot to hunt down Professor Pericles. In "Heart of Evil," Dr. Benton Quest (voiced by Eric Bauza) and Race Bannon (voiced by Christopher Corey Smith) played a part in the origin of Dynomutt when Radley Crown's guard dog Reggie is injured by a mechanical dragon that attacked Quest Labs. Dr. Benton Quest used what he did in his laboratory to convert Reggie into Dynomutt and even used the Quest-X Power Source to power Dynomutt. Some years later, Radley Crown has became Blue Falcon where the mechanical dragon that attacked Quest Labs years ago returns and starts targeting computer consoles. At the same time it was revealed that Quest Labs was bought by Destroido. Blue Falcon eventually learns that the mechanical dragon was controlled by Dr. Zin (voiced by Eric Bauza) and that his daughter Jenny (voiced by Grey DeLisle) was in a catatonic state in the Dragon Battle Suit since its last attack on Quest Labs. Dr. Zin wanted the Quest-X Power Source in order to heal Jenny. After Blue Falcon and Mystery Inc.'s fight with Dr. Zin's men, Dynomutt used some of the Quest-X Power Source to heal Jenny. Despite Jenny being healed, Dr. Zin and Jenny managed to get away and set their island base to self-destruct. After Blue Falcon, Dynomutt, and Mystery Inc. escape before the base exploded, Blue Falcon vows to catch Dr. Zin someday.
  • The Adult Swim animated series The Venture Brothers is a parody of Jonny Quest and similar adventure series. The principal character Doctor Thaddeus "Rusty" Venture can be seen as a direct parody of both Dr. Benton Quest (in his aloof present day form) and Jonny himself (in his traumatic past as a boy adventurer). Characters from the series also appear, though inconsistently; Race Bannon is shown in season one normal age whereas Johnny Quest appears in season two, all grown up though unnamed. Due to a desire to sidestep copyright issues, as of season three, Johnny Quest characters have been officially retconned as brand new characters: Johnny Quest is now "Action Johnny", Hadji is now "Radji", Doctor Zin is "Doctor Z", and Race Bannon is referred to as "Red".

Dr. Zin appears as "Dr. Z", an elderly and respected supervillain within the show's universe. Race Bannon and Hadji have also made appearances. Per the shows' deconstruction of the child adventurer genre, characters are shown in a much darker light: Johnny Quest is a recovering drug addict who like Doctor Venture, has grown up as a severely traumatized adult. Race Bannon is portrayed as a member of "OSI", the fictionalized spy agency in the series. Bannon is killed in the first season, recovering a deadly virus from a supervillain and is later shown during a flashback, as having been an interrogator for OSI and having engaged in torture as part of his job. "Radji" is shown having grown up as a successful manager of a call center in India; he is shown as having grown tired of "Action Johnny" and his drug addiction and having contempt for Doctor Venture. Doctor "Z" is a famous and beloved super-villain, having retired from active villainy in order to lead the Guild of Calamitous Intent as part of its Council of Thirteen.

Production Credits

  • Produced and Directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera
  • Story: Joseph Barbera, Walter Black, Alan Dinehart, Herbert Finn, William D. Hamilton, William Hanna, Charles Hoffman, Joanna Lee, Alex Lovy, Douglas Wildey
  • Teleplay: Walter Black, Joanna Lee, Charles Hoffman, William D. Hamilton, Alan Dinehart, Herbert Finn
  • Story Direction: Dan Gordon, Alex Lovy, Lewis Marshall, Kin Platt, Paul Sommer
  • Supervising Art Director and Based on an Idea by: Doug Wildey
  • Featuring the Voices of: Mike Road, Tim Matheson, Don Messick, John Stephenson, Danny Bravo
  • Story Supervision: Arthur Pierson
  • Other Voices: Vic Perrin, Cathy Lewis, Douglas Young, Henry Corden, Everett Sloane, Nestor Paiva, Tol Avery, Will Kuluva, Sandy Wormser, Daws Butler, Jesse White, Keye Luke, J. Pat O'Malley, Janet Waldo, Sam Edwards, Marvin Miller
  • Musical Direction: Hoyt S. Curtin
  • Artists: Ed Aardal, O.E. Callahan, Hugh Fraser, George Goepper, Chuck Harrington, Jerry Hathcock, Bill Keil, Anatole Kirsanoff, George Nicholas, Jack Ozark, Ed Parks, Jack Parr, Don Patterson, Don Schloat, Ken Southworth, John Sparey, Irven Spence, Harvey Toombs, Carlo Vinci, Dick Bickenbach, Bruce Bushman, Walter Clinton, Jerry Eisenberg, Moe Gollub, C.L. Hartman, Alex Ignateiv, Z.T. Jablecki, Mel Keefer, Ken Lendau, Bill Ligmante, Hi Mankin, Earl Martin, Sparkey Moore, Ernie Nordli, Joseph O'Malley, Lewis Ott, William Perez, Noel Quinn, Tony Sgroi, Bob Singer, Iwao Takamoto, Alex Toth, Warren Tufts, Jim Tutwiler, Doug Wildey, Fernando Arce, Lee Branscombe, Janet Brown, Bob Caples, Ron Dias, Martian Forte, Bob Gentle, Paul Julian, M. Mike Kawaguchi, Richard Khim, Thomas O'Laughlin, Rob Lowe, F. Montealegre, Harvard Pennington, Anthony Rizzo, Bob Singer, Leo Swanson, Richard H. Thomas, Pete Van Elk
  • Animation Supervision:Irven Spence
  • Production Supervision: Howard Hanson
  • Technical Supervision: Frank Paiker
  • Ink & Paint Supervision: Roberta Greutert
  • Continuity: Ted C. Bemiller, Woody Chatwood, Christine Decker, Marceil Ferguson, Joyce Gard, Jan Gusdavison, Ann Lee Holm, Elizabeth McGowen, Myke Nelson, Joan Orbison, Jane Philippi, Maggi Raymond, Evelyn Sherwood, Natalie Yates
  • Camera: Eugene Borghi, Bob Collis, Charles Flekal, Norman Stainback, Roy Wade
  • Film Editing: Larry Cowan, Don Douglas, Warner Leighton, Kenneth Spears, Ed Warschika
  • Sound Direction: Buddy Myers
  • Jonny Quest Copyright MCMLXV Hanna Barbera Productions Inc
  • A Hanna-Barbera Production
  • Television Subsidiary Screen Gems Film Presentation


  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i 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
  3. ^
  4. ^ Herman, pp. 195-196
  5. ^ "Was that 'Jack Armstrong' film ever broadcast?", at Classic Jonny Quest FAQ, retrieved 2014-02-23.
  6. ^ Castleman, Harry, and Walter J. Podrazik, Harry and Wally's Favorite TV Shows, Prentice Hall Press, 1989
  7. ^ Brooks, Tim and Earle Marsh, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present, Ballantine Books, 1995 (sixth ed.)
  8. ^ TV Guide Guide to TV (Barnes and Noble Books, 2004)
  9. ^ Barbera, Joseph (1994). My Life in "Toons": From Flatbush to Bedrock in Under a Century. Atlanta, GA:  
  10. ^ "The Mystery of the Lizard Men," Jonny Quest, 18 September 1964
  11. ^ "Double Danger," Jonny Quest, 13 November 1964
  12. ^ documentary, part 11Quest on YouTube
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Boucher, Geoff (2009), "Hero Complex: In Search of Jonny Quest", Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2009
  16. ^ "Calcutta Adventure". Jonny Quest. Season one. Episode seven. 30 October 1964.
  17. ^ Blosser, Lyle P. (2008), "Classic Jonny Quest FAQ", accessed 23 March 2013.
  18. ^ a b Saturday morning fever, Timothy Burke, Kevin Burke pp. 113-116
  19. ^ The supervillain book: the evil side of comics and Hollywood, Gina Renée Misiroglu, Michael Eury, Visible Ink Press, 2006
  20. ^ documentary, part 5Quest on YouTube
  21. ^ documentary, part 6Quest on YouTube
  22. ^ a b documentary, part 16Quest on YouTube
  23. ^ Jonny Quest at
  24. ^ Fuqua, Craig. "Jonny Quest Warner DVD Deficiencies". Retrieved 18 April 2012. 
  25. ^ Jonny Quest at


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