Though primarily based around the original Duck Dodgers short (which is set in roughly 2350 AD), the series has also taken many visual and thematic cues from other Looney Tunes shorts unrelated to the Dodgers character and its science fiction premise. Many other familiar characters from the Looney Tunes pantheon are featured in the series, often given traits to fit within Duck Dodgers' own universe. For example, Yosemite Sam becomes "K'chutha Sa'am," a parody of Klingons in Star Trek, Elmer Fudd becomes a parasitic mind-altering alien disease known as "the Fudd" (a combination of the Flood and the Borg), Witch Hazel was "Leezah the Witch" in one episode, Count Bloodcount was "Count Muerte" in two episodes, and Wile E. Coyote was a Predator-like alien hunter in one episode where Martian Commander X-2 and K-9 were hunting. Gophers Mac and Tosh appeared as Martian gophers on an alien golf course. Nasty Canasta, Taz, Rocky and Mugsy, and the Crusher also made appearances on this series. In a two-part episode, the "Shropshire Slasher" appears as a convict named the Andromeda Annihilator.
In addition to pop culture references, the show's theme (arranged by the Flaming Lips) is sung by Tom Jones, in a style reminiscent to Jones' performance of the theme from the James Bond film Thunderball. Jones also appeared in caricature form in the second season episode "Talent Show A Go-Go," to sing his signature song, "It's Not Unusual". The episode "In Space, No One Can Hear You Rock" featured Dave Mustaine of heavy metal band Megadeth, and the band performed "Back in the Day."
Duck Dodgers was nominated in 2004 Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Television Production Produced For Children, Music in an Animated Television Production, Production Design in an Animated Television Production, and Voice Acting in an Animated Television Production. It won the Annie award for 2004 for Music in an Animated Television Production, music by Robert J. Kral. It was also nominated 4 Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Editing - Live Action and Animation and Special Class Animated Program in 2004, and again in 2005. It later won for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program - Joe Alaskey. This series ended production in 2005 after its third season.
Main article: List of Duck Dodgers characters
Captain Duck Edgar Dumas Aloysius Eoghain Dodgers – (voiced by Joe Alaskey) A hapless soul that was accidentally frozen for over three centuries for reasons not known. He was later revived by Dr. I.Q. Hi in the 24½th century. Through scheming and lies he managed to trick everyone into believing he was a 21st-century hero. In reality, he was only a water-boy for the Midstate University football team, and "Quarterback Quack" shows that he only carried out this façade at the insistence of a time-travelling X-2, who unwittingly made Dodgers into the hero he was known as. Dodgers is arrogant, selfish, greedy, lazy, cowardly, gullible, and not particularly intelligent. However, he occasionally displays surprisingly high levels of heroism and competence, suggesting that he is not quite as daft as he appears to be, although he mostly succeeds through sheer dumb luck and the work of the Eager Young Space Cadet. Ironically, Commander X-2 actually caused Dodgers to become a minor football star in the final game of the season, which is what he used to parlay himself into captaincy in the Protectorate, meaning that he is, technically, not lying when he claims he won a championship football game in his own time. It is implied that he can't read, though this is contradicted several times. He also has shown to have quite the ego, when he caused the energy core of his ship to explode while using the lasers to carve his name on a nearby planetoid for example, and burning out the auxiliary core to make toast. Though he doesn't show it often, Dodgers cares deeply for his cadet, even though he often demeans and puts him through humiliating situations. In episode 25, he is described by Psy Q. Hi as an ego-maniacal, bipolar, narcissist, and pathological liar with sociopathic tendencies.
The Eager, Young Space Cadet – (voiced by Bob Bergen) Looks up to Dodgers, seeing him as a father-figure in many ways. He is utterly loyal to Dodgers and doesn't doubt a word he says. Despite being much smarter than his so-called hero, he lets him give all the orders. Dodgers cares deeply for his Cadet though he rarely shows it, and often tries to take credit for the Cadet's work. Dodgers relies heavily on the Cadet's assistance and would likely fail most missions without it. It should be noted that the Cadet is also fairly successful as a ladies man, often being the one who gets the girl Dodgers swoons over. He graduated summa cum laude from the Protectorate Academy. Very little else is known about his past, though one episode portrays him as being the Prince and Ruler of his home planet of Swinus 9 in another it reveals his sister was sold to the sausage factory, with his own set of villains trying to dethrone or otherwise eliminate him. Since this was revealed in a story the Cadet told while babysitting his overly rambunctious niece and nephews, Porko, Puerco, and Sow (a joke on Animaniacs' Yakko, Wakko, and Dot, and even voiced by the same people), and they expressed no prior knowledge of this, it is unknown whether or not this is true or just his attempt to impress his impressionable relatives. He has claimed to have ended world hunger to Count Muerte, although this could be seen as bragging to a stranger. The Cadet is played by Porky Pig.
Dr. Ignatius Q "I.Q." Hi – (voiced by Richard McGonagle) The overweight scientist that revived Dodgers after being frozen for three centuries. Serious and hard-working, he is often irritated and frustrated with Dodger's incompetent side, and doubts that Dodgers truly was a 21st-century hero. In addition to being a hard-working scientist, he constantly wears gloves that stretch up his arm, ending at his elbow and leaving a gap between his fingertips and the glove's tips (which he did not wear in the 1952 short). Also, every year, he tags along with Dodgers, flying as a cadet to see how orders are received on Dodgers' ship, much like the Cadet. In college, he majored in Pointless Minutiae, which his mother warned him against. He also has a slight potassium deficiency.
Captain Star Johnson – (voiced by John O'Hurley) Johnson is a rival captain of Dodger's in the Galactic Protectorate. Gifted with a University education, Johnson has a Flash Gordon-like personality about him, and once took Dodgers to court over his incompetence. Since then, Johnson has been involved in freeing Mars from the military coup by General Z9, and searching for gangsters when Dodgers went missing for a brief period of time. He also played rocketball in college.
Bigfoot – (voiced by Michael Patrick McGill) In "The Six Wazillion Dollar Duck" (a parody of The Six Million Dollar Man), it was revealed that Bigfoot worked for the Protectorate as a Maintenance Supervisor and was also the first (thing) to receive cyborganic implants (Steve Boston was the first man to receive them, but before The Protectorate tested it on someone with a similar anatomy). These implants enhanced his combat abilities, as he is able hold off several centurions before they bait and trapped him with pie. He seems to not be very educated as the only two words he says are "Duck" and "Stereo".
The Martian Empire
Martian Commander X-2 – (voiced by Joe Alaskey) The confident commander of the Martian military who is Dodgers' arch enemy. He is infatuated with the Martian Queen that he serves, and considers Dodgers more of a nuisance than a true enemy. He once essentially created Duck Dodgers by going back in time and making him a hero so as to not be proven wrong by the queen (the queen did figure it out and was punished). He is played by Marvin the Martian.
The Martian Queen (AKA Queen Tyr'ahnee) – (voiced by Tia Carrere) The beautiful ruler of Mars. Although she dislikes him at times, she is infatuated with Dodgers and, just like Cadet, believes him to be a true hero. She is something of a female version of Marvin the Martian and wears outfits reminiscent of Martian Princesses in the John Carter of Mars book series. In episode "To Love a Duck", the Queen showed her feelings to Dodgers and wanted to marry him which almost did happen. However, he changed his mind when the Martian commander tricked him into thinking he had to run methane farms on Uranus and left the queen. Doing this, however, made the queen outraged and wanted revenge against Dodgers. In the episode "The Queen is Wild", it is shown she is a very skilled and powerful warrior. In the same episode, she had a chance to destroy Dodgers, but she still loved him too much and held back, giving Dodgers the chance to attack and escape. Martian Commander X-2 once dated and very nearly married her, but the queen decided not to because she still loved Dodgers. Her name is pronounced like "tyranny."
Martian Centurion Robots – (voiced by Michael Dorn) The faithful robotic servants of the Mars Empire. They appear to be sentient, and make up a large portion of the Imperial Army, while the organic Martians act as officers. This is a homage to the Cylon Centurions of Battlestar Galactica. Dorn's casting may be a nod to his popular sci-fi character Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Instant Martians – Strange bird-like Martian beings with purple hair. They were used briefly as an escape ploy by Commander X-2. They emerge from minuscule seeds that are activated when they come in contact with water. They first appeared in the 1958 cartoon Hare-Way to the Stars, in which the Martian Commander ordered them to capture Bugs Bunny.