Inspector Gadget

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Inspector Gadget TV Poster Image
Bumbling bionic detective offers worry-free laughs for kids.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Educational Value

There’s nothing educational about the show, but it does incorporate life lessons about safety, sportsmanship, and responsibility.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.

Sexy Stuff

The show has inspired a few movies and offscreen merchandise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The chief often has a pipe in his hand or mouth.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bylogidelic April 7, 2020

If you like scary evil cackles

I loved this show as a child, so I was in for a shock when I tried to watch it with my kids. We watched several episodes. Half of the show is simply frivolous.... Continue reading
Adult Written bysmrtvntg June 28, 2018

Awesome show, little scary

I really wanted to show this to my 3 year old son. He loves it, but, there was an episode that made him cry because Penny was locked in a cage. He may be a litt... Continue reading
Kid, 8 years old July 14, 2012


Its fine
Teen, 16 years old Written byMusiclovergig August 20, 2020

Good one

Fun and funny detective show.

What's the story?

INSPECTOR GADGET is the story of a bumbling, accident-prone detective (voiced by Don Adams) equipped with mechanical appendages and bionic tools who’s engaged in an ongoing battle with his nemesis, Dr. Claw (Frank Welker). Gadget’s boss, Chief Quimby (Maurice LaMarche), tasks him with protecting innocent citizens from the threats of Dr. Claw’s M.A.D. organization, but dimwitted Gadget’s naivety keeps him from recognizing Dr. Claw’s minions for the threats they really are, and he often falls victim to their sabotage. Fortunately his genius niece Penny (Holly Berger) and her dog Brain (Welker again) tag along on his cases, lending an unseen hand along the way to help Gadget upstage the bad guys.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about heroes. Which characters in Inspector Gadget could be considered heroes? Is any one person more heroic than another? Who are some of your heroes? What do you admire about them?

  • Kids: In what ways is Inspector Gadget always prepared for any situation? What kinds of scenarios can you prepare for? What tools or supplies would you need in these cases?

  • This show’s humor is entwined in Gadget’s oblivious nature. When is it appropriate to laugh at someone’s expense? Is it forgivable in this case because he’s a cartoon character? Would it be different if he were a real person? Have you ever been the brunt of a joke? How does it feel?

  • How do the characters in Inspector Gadget demonstrate courage and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

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Themes & Topics

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