Jonny Quest is a media franchise that revolves around a boy named Jonny Quest who accompanies his scientist father on extraordinary adventures. The franchise started with a 1964–1965 television series and has come to include two subsequent television series, two television films, and three computer games.
Jonny Quest, often casually referred to as The Adventures of Jonny Quest, is the original American science fiction/adventure animated television series that started the franchise. 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, including Doc Savage, Tom Swift, The Adventures of Tintin, Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy, and Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars books, the series featured more realistic art, characters, and stories than Hanna-Barbera's previous cartoon programs. This show closely parallels the juvenile Rick Brant series. 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 primetime on early Friday nights for one season from 1964 to 1965.
After two decades in reruns, during which it appeared on all three major United States television networks of the time, new episodes were produced for syndication in 1986. Subsequently, telefilms, a comic-book series, and a modernized revival series, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, were produced in the 1990s.
By the mid-1980s, the edited episodes of Jonny Quest were part of the syndication package The Funtastic World of Hanna–Barbera. Each episode was time-compressed and edited to reduce the runtime from 25 to 22 minutes. Edits focused on the comical scenes with Bandit. Thirteen episodes were produced in 1986 (some sources state 1987) to accompany the originals in the Funtastic World programming block. These episodes were referred to simply as Jonny Quest in their opening title sequence (the same ones seen on the original series since the censoring), and were noticeably less violent and more "kid-friendly" than the 1960s originals, and introduced the new regular character Hardrock , (also called the Monolith Man), a living being made of stone. Hardrock would not return in any later versions of the program.
Jonny's Golden Quest, a feature-length television movie. was produced by HannaBarbera for USA Network in 1993, again pitting the Quest team against Dr. Zin, who in the film murders Jonny's mother. Jonny's Golden Quest reused the storyline of the recent series' episode "Deadly Junket," in which a little girl named Jessie Bradshaw, the daughter of a missing scientist, asked the Quest party to help find her father. Here she is revealed to be lying about her parentage at Dr. Zin's behest, and to Race's surprise is actually his and Jade's daughter. Jessie would appear as a character in all subsequent versions of the Jonny Quest property. A second telefilm, Jonny Quest vs. The Cyber Insects, was produced for TNT in 1995, and was promoted as being the final iteration of the "Classic Jonny Quest".
All three of these productions featured the voices of Don Messick and Granville Van Dusen as Dr. Quest and Race Bannon, respectively. Messick also reprised performing the "voice" of Bandit in the series, but the features had this done by Frank Welker.
The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, premiered on all three major Turner Broadcasting System entertainment cable channels (Cartoon Network, TBS, and TNT), and met with mixed ratings and reviews. The characters were aged, with Jonny, Hadji, and Jessie becoming late teenagers. Dr. Quest's compound has moved to a rocky island off the Maine coast.
Production on the series had been problem-laden since 1992, and when it was finally broadcast, it featured two different versions of its own Jonny Quest universe: the first batch of episodes (referred to as the "season one" episodes) gave the Quest team a futuristic look, while the second batch (referred to as "season two") harkened back to the original 1960s episodes. Several of the "season one" adventures in this series took place in a cyberspace realm known as "Questworld", depicted using 3-D computer animation. Both "seasons" aired during the 1996–1997 television season, and the show was canceled after 52 episodes (26 of each season). A live-action movie was planned to debut following the series premiere but never materialized.
The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest returned in the late 1990s on Cartoon Network. It was part of the original Toonami rotation when the block launched on March 17, 1997, and aired consistently on Toonami until September 24, 1999. It then continued to air sporadically until December 14, 2002. The first 13 episodes of the first season were released to DVD on February 17, 2009.
The character Dr. Zin was believed dead during the first season of The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest. However, creators of the show felt the series wasn't reminiscent of the original enough and brought Zin back in the second season episode "Nemesis," where Zin reveals himself as alive to Quest and holds a NASA station launching a new satellite hostage. Zin's two daughters, Anaya and Melana, returned to later episodes of 'Real Adventures' after being absent from the 'New Adventures' series.