A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
There’s nothing educational about the show, but it does incorporate life lessons about safety, sportsmanship, and responsibility.
Each episode ends with Inspector Gadget and Penny highlighting a lesson about personal safety that relates to the story’s content. Although the show casts the Inspector as the hero, the real brains behind the operation is Penny, whose intelligence is the team’s main weapon against Dr. Claw. Good and evil are clearly defined. Themes include courage and teamwork.
Positive Role Models
Although his clumsiness and naivety often work in contrast to his goals, Inspector Gadget is protective of Penny and always willing to put himself in harm’s way for the safety of those around him. Penny is smart and clever and uses both traits to protect her uncle without him being aware.
Violence & Scariness
Cartoon-style explosions, crashes, and long falls are more humorous than scary, as is the frequent peril (speeding toward a waterfall or hurtling down a mountain, for instance) in which the characters find themselves.
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Products & Purchases
The show has inspired a few movies and offscreen merchandise.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The chief often has a pipe in his hand or mouth.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there's little to worry about in Inspector Gadget, a classic cartoon about a dimwitted bionic detective. Although the plot follows an ongoing tug-of-war between protagonist Gadget and the evil Dr. Claw, nothing about the show is likely to scare most kids. What mishaps do occur are comical in nature, and there's very little sense of danger of any sort. The show also promotes positive messages about safety and responsibility, which the characters relate to the story at its end.
Is It Any Good?
This classic ‘80s cartoon is a fun change of pace from the violence-ridden hero types that gained popularity in the ‘90s and beyond. The closest thing that Gadget has to a weapon is a snow-blowing finger, and what mishaps do occur (and there are plenty when this goofy protagonist is around) are plenty comical and hard to construe as reality. Even better, it's obvious to everyone except Gadget that the real hero is bright, tech-savvy Penny, who, despite her youth, always manages to save the day with her quick thinking but allows her uncle to bask in the limelight.
Gadget's array of bionic tools and stretchy limbs will capture kids' imaginations, and it's just plain fun to see how he gets out of the many scrapes in which he finds himself. Inspector Gadget is a worry-free option for kids, made even more appealing by the fact that each episode wraps up with a message about safety and responsibility that relates to the story and is directed at the viewers themselves.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.