The news that Jordan Peele had pitched a Gargoyles revival at Disney sent a wave of nostalgia across the Internet. Even twenty years later, the show remains special for a generation of '90s kids.
The surface-level trappings of the series were hard to resist. Who doesn’t want to watch nocturnal winged monsters fighting crime? Beyond that, the universe the gargoyles inhabited was immersive and unapologetically rooted in ancient literature. The complexity of the villains puts a lot of modern TV dramas to shame. The show absolutely refused to talk down to its young audience, incorporating complex story structures and mature themes.
We have one man to thank for creating a world this textured: showrunner Greg Weisman. Much as we’d like to see the world of Gargoyles filtered through Peele’s considerable talent, the thought of Weisman not being a part of any reawakening of the franchise is unimaginable.
Scratch that, it’s very imaginable. The series was brought back without the original production team for a spin-off, The Goliath Chronicles. It was canceled after thirteen episodes.
Weisman put an unbelievable amount of thought into every aspect of the story. We know this, because since 1997, he’s been answering fan questions over at Station 8’s Gargoyles website. “Comprehensive” doesn’t even begin to describe the archive that’s built up over the years, Weisman has fielded questions on the show’s development, the characters, the mythology, and what would have happened had the show carried on.
Any past, present, and future fan of the series could spend hours combing the site, and we’ve emerged from our own deep dive with 25 Secrets Behind The Gargoyles.
25 PATRICK STEWART ALMOST PLAYED GOLIATH
It’s well known that Gargoyles is practically an unofficial spin-off of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis were regulars, and Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, and LeVar Burton all did guest spots. As it turns out, Patrick Stewart himself was also courted to play the lead role.
Stewart’s agent set a price that could not be met, so he never played Goliath - nor Macbeth or King Arthur when those parts were offered down the line.
No one wanted to put Frakes, Sirtis, or the rest of the crew in the position of simply asking Stewart through unofficial channels, so he remains the most conspicuous absentee among the ST:TNG cast.
24 BROADWAY USED WAS ORIGINALLY FEMALE
Early in development, the gentle, overweight gargoyle who would later become Broadway was a female named Cocoa. Concerned that body image issues might be instilled in young girls, the writers changed the character.
Halfway through the series Angela was introduced. Until that point, without Cocoa, the story had been about a group of surviving male gargoyles who believed they were doomed to be the last of their kind. Bringing it all full circle, Angela wound up choosing Broadway as her mate because he loved her for her, not simply because she was the first young Gargoyle woman he’d seen in years. Aw.
23 HUDSON IS BROADWAY'S FATHER, AND HE DOESN'T KNOW NOR CARE
The phrase “It take a village to raise a child” applies wholeheartedly to the gargoyles. After they’re born, it’s the responsibility of the entire adult clan to bring them up.
If you don’t know that, it’s a little surprising to discover that venerable old Hudson is indeed, biologically speaking, Broadway’s dad. You’d think a lot would be made of the fact that a father and son survived together into the 20th century.
Neither Hudson nor Broadway are aware of their connection.
Even if they discovered it, it wouldn’t matter to them at all.
22 XANATOS WAS A BUMBLING FOOL
David Xanatos may not be a household name like Jafar or Maleficent, but he’s a Disney villain unlike any other. He’s cunning and Machiavellian, he’s cool and collected, he aligns himself with the Gargoyles when circumstances are dire enough, and even when he loses, he wins. This guy was out-Crowleying Crowley years before Supernatural.
Even villains evolve and they can become 10 times more menacing.
There was a time when Xanatos was Xavier, a Captain Hook-type villain prone to comedic, petulant frustration. There’s no reason that character couldn’t have been entertaining, but we’ve seen it a million times. Imagine a world in which we never got to meet someone as unique as David Xanatos.
21 LEXINGTON'S ORIENTATION
If Lexington never seemed all that distraught about losing Angela to Broadway and there was a good reason for that. The character would have realized he was gay had the series continued.
Considering what a landmark it was when two women kissed in a 2001 episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you can only imagine the firestorm had a character on a mid-90s Disney afternoon cartoon come out of the closet. It’s hard to imagine that Lex’s sel- discovery would have amounted to anything other than subtext, at most, but it’s interesting to revisit the character with this information in mind.
20 THE GARGOYLES WERE SUPPOSED TO RIDE MOTORCYCLES
You can have all the lofty artistic ambitions you want, but when you’re making a show for Disney, just make sure you can sell some merch for it. The Gargoyles team obliged by putting Brooklyn on a motorcycle, and a new line of toys immediately went into production. A flying monster on a cycle? Put that on a Pog and you’ve got the most irresistible toy of the '90s.
Motorcycles are the new wings, perhaps.
Sadly, Brooklyn crashed his motorcycle five minutes after getting it and pretty much just went back to flying anyway. But the team also used the experience as a chance to promote cranial safety. He looks pretty cool in that helmet.
19 GOLIATH WAS GIVEN AN EVIL TWIN SO THAT KEITH DAVID COULD CUT LOOSE
Keith David is the voice of many childhoods, few are synonymous with an animated character like David and Goliath. In terms of his vocal range, Goliath was about 90% calm measured tones and 10% wrathful bellowing. David could nail that any day of the week, but was capable of so much more.
Goliath was given Thailog, an evil clone prone to devious scheming, one-liners, and one hell of an evil laugh.
It’s impossible to mistake the two identical characters, an actual line from Hudson to Goliath is “Do you even know how to laugh maniacally?” Goliath doesn’t, but Keith David sure does.
18 THE TWIN'S NAME THAILOG IS GOLIATH BACKWARDS
Well, not exactly. Goliath spelt backwards is really "Htailog." But if you take an audio recording of the name and reverse it, it becomes Thailog. That’s what Greg Weisman found when he was in the editing bay for the feature length Gargoyles pilot.
One particular scene in which Goliath’s name was spoken just kept getting rewound over and over, Weisman heard “Thailog Thailog Thailog” so many times he eventually got the idea to give his hero an evil twin.
There’s a great lesson here for creatives. Always leave your mind open and receptive. Your next great idea might be inspired even by the most tedious situation.
17 WHEN THE GARGOYLES BECOME HUMAN, THEY'RE DRAWN AS THEIR REAL LIFE VOICE ACTORS
In one memorable episode, a devious faerie named Puck cast a spell that reversed humans into gargoyles and gargoyles into humans. Proportionately, the clan remained the same in terms of their bodies, but if you look closer at their faces they’ve changed quite a bit. That’s because the characters were redesigned to look like the men (and woman) who play them in real life.
Goliath is black to reflect Keith David, and Broadway and Lex finally get hair, but the biggest treat is Hudson. Ed Asner has been playing grizzled old men in cartoons since before Gargoyles' primary audience was even born. It’s fun to finally see him drawn for the screen.
16 THE FAMOUS GUN SAFETY EPISODE WAS PULLED
The episode “Deadly Force” was more effective than the public safety messages we’d get during the commercial breaks. Enamored with gunplay in the movies, Broadway visited the gargoyle’s detective friend, Elisa. He accidentally sent her to the hospital when he played with her unsecured gun. Broadway struggled with his guilt, but when Elisa woke up, she also took responsibility for not looking after her weapon.
It would be interesting to see the reception this episode would get, if it was released now.
Surprisingly the episode, which featured an image of Elisa laying on the ground injured, was accepted by Disney and Standards and Practices every step of the way. It was only after it aired that the episode was pulled from reruns.
15 A LINE THAT IMPLIED SATANISM HAD TO BE CHANGED
Xanatos had a Smithers-like assistant named Owen who was later revealed to be the aforementioned Puck. Demona foreshadowed this reveal in an episode where she captures Puck. “You serve him, now you’ll serve me,” was her original line.
The problem is, if you don’t know the truth, “him” sounds like Him, as in Satan. Concerned about the seeming devil-worshiping character on this afternoon show, Disney mandated a change, and the line became “You serve the human.” It’s for the best, as the other line gives the mystery away almost as carelessly as we did just now.
14 "JALAPENO" WAS A SUBSTITUTE FOR CURSE WORDS
A throwaway subplot in one episode featured the gargoyles trying out some 20th century cuisine, culminating in Goliath letting out a loud bellow as he tastes a jalapeno pepper. The experience stayed with him. In a situation that might call for a four letter word, Goliath would simply say “jalapeno” instead.
While "jalapeno" would be humorous to hear in episodes, it likely annoyed a lot of fans and parents.
13 THE GARGOYLES EPISODE THAT WAS NEVER MADE
A planned episode of Gargoyles would've been literally Shakespearean. It would have seen the cast getting warped into a depiction of the Scottish Play, featuring Macbeth as himself, Demona as Lady Macbeth, and Goliath and Elisa as the Macduffs. Frankly, that sounds amazing, but the episode was rejected for being a little too out-there.
It would have been interesting to see the Shakespearean acted out by a bunch of gargoyles.
Any episode with Macbeth was bound to be a good one, but the character all but disappeared from the latter half of the series. It’s at least nice to know that the writers still had plans for him.
12 XANATOS' CONNECTION TO VOLDEMORT AND THANOS
His name foreshadowed his obsession with immortality long before it was explicitly revealed by the story. Who are we talking about: Xanatos, Voldemort, or Thanos? All three, of course!
Voldemort’s name sounds like “vol de mort,” which in French means “Flight of Mortality,” and both Xanatos and Thanos are derived from Thanatos, the Greek personification of mortality. Indeed Xanatos, though nowhere near as malicious, became ruthless any time the prospect of immortality was on the table.
Xanatos is a part of a proud tradition of villains in children's entertainment whose names hint at some pretty adult stuff down the road.
11 MACBETH'S BACKSTORY WAS BASED ON REAL HISTORY, NOT THE PLAY
Anyone who thought they had an advantage in 11th grade English Literature because they’d watched Gargoyles was in for a rude surprise. The show’s depiction of Macbeth was based not on the play, but actual 11th century history. Shakespeare had twisted the historical figure into a tyrant to appease the king of his day. In real life, Macbeth was far more complex.
Voice actor John Rhys Davies was astonished at the scripts he was getting. He even accused the writers of revising Shakespeare’s classic. When he was told about the real Macbeth’s history he became far more enthusiastic, and helped create one of the show’s most nuanced supporting characters.
10 WHY THE ARCHMAGE BECAME THE BIG BAD
The Archmage was a one-off two-bit sorcerer who fell to his doom in his first appearance.
The vocal talents of veteran character actor David Warner impressed Greg Weisman so much, he bent time itself to bring him back as a major villain.
Unfortunately, though Warner was a lot of fun and got some great lines, the character on the whole wasn’t well received. Not only did he look like the Alpha-Bits Cereal wizard gone to the dark side, he was the sort of a cliched, one-dimensional baddie that Gargoyles usually avoided. Later Weisman would even wonder if he let David Warner down.
9 THE SHOW'S MOST TRAUMATIC EPISODE WAS INSPIRED BY THE X-MEN
Some of us are still in therapy because of “Future Tense”. Goliath traveled to a future in which Xanatos had turned Manhattan into a hellscape overrun by mutants, then spent the episode exterminating all our favorite heroes one by one. What was the inspiration for such a dark episode?
It was the X-Men run of comics that would later be adapted into Days of Future Past.
Weisman says that he felt the comic ran out of steam after a certain point, after the initial future shock the novelty wore off. By compressing basically an entire arc into one 22 minute episode, he created something even more intense.
Fun fact: Marvel ran a Gargoyles comic book series. It ran for 10 issues.
8 THE GARGOYLES ARE LEAVING SKIN ALL OVER THE PLACE
The gargoyles turn into statues every sunrise and break free every sunset with an enormous roar/yawn. What happens to the stone pieces of skin they leave every night?
The gargoyles live in the clock tower above Elisa’s police station. If anyone goes up there during the day, it's possible that they don’t notice that those stone gargoyles are in different poses all the time. What must they think of the stone littering the floor? What if some of it goes flying over the edge of the roof and hits someone below?
Either the gargoyles spend twenty minutes every night sweeping up their skin, or a janitor somewhere isn't very curious.
7 LEXINGTON SHOULD BE IN HIS BIRTHDAY SUIT
Lexington has the most unique design of the gargoyles. The rest of the clan have wings that act as appendages, but he’s webbed from his arms to his legs. It looks so cool, you don’t realize until later that it ought to be impossible for him to wear clothing. There’s no way for that belt to pass though Lex’s wings.
It may seem like a small blunder, but it left us scratching our heads.
Let's set aside how impractical loin clothes are for a flying creature. He shouldn’t even be capable of wearing pants without some serious discomfort. What possible explanation could there be? It turns out, his wings are pierced. Makes sense. Moving on.
6 DEMONA ALMOST CROSSED OVER WITH ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE
After Gargoyles wrapped production, Greg Weisman went on to develop a spin-off series of Disney’s 2001 movie Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Given that he had an immortal character in Demona, he planned to bring her onto the show for an episode called “The Last”. The series was canceled before it made it to air, but Weisman got much further with the crossover than you might expect.
Marina Sirtis even came in to record a vocal track.
The unfinished episode has held allure for fans over the year, and some have banded together to sync the audio track with the storyboards and even create new animation. The episode has screened at Gargoyles fan conventions.
5 BROOKLYN WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE HIS OWN TIME TRAVEL SPIN-OFF
Brooklyn was a break-out character thanks to his Jeff Bennett’s reliably awesome voice and a cool design. He was also underutilized aside from a few episodes, but there were plans to change that. Brooklyn was to anchor a spin-off called Timedancers.
The series didn't come to fruition, but it would have been interesting to see.
He would have traveled to places old and new, encountering young versions of established characters and meeting entirely new people. He would have gone to 2198 and met a semi-reformed Demona, as well as find love with a gargoyle named Katana. In the end, Brooklyn would return to his own time not five minutes after initially disappearing.
4 THE GARGOYLES WERE SEPARATED FOR OVER ONE THIRD OF THE SHOW
Goliath and Elisa left Manhattan behind for a lengthy, magical world tour, and we barely saw the rest of our favorite gargoyles for twenty-four straight episodes. If you were watching at the time right now you’re thinking “Twenty-four? It felt much longer than that.”
To give the writers credit, it shakes up the status quo in a way that you rarely see on TV today, let alone in a '90s Disney show. The cast met larger-than-life characters all across the world and the goal was to build up the Gargoyles universe, but it feels suspiciously like twenty four backdoor pilots for spinoffs that never got made.
3 THE INSPIRATIONS FOR THE SERIES WERE INSANELY DIVERSE
Anyone who watched Inception knows that inspiration is hard to trace. That's not the case for Greg Weisman, who is easily able to list off everything that influenced Gargoyles. “Disney’s Gummi Bears. Hill Street Blues. The complete works of William Faulkner. The complete works of William Shakespeare. The Simpsons. Various comic book universes. The novels of Tony Hillerman.”
Even a children's cartoon an draw inspiration from adult content.
If a tornado swept through the library and pelted you with a bunch of old books and DVD cases, that assortment of titles couldn’t possibly be more random than Weisman's list. But if nothing else, it’s an excuse to revisit the series and figure out just how The Simpsons fits into all this.
2 THE ENTIRE FINAL SEASON HAS BEEN ERASED FROM CANON
After the initial series wrapped with the epic length "Hunter's Moon", Gargoyles continued under the new header The Goliath Chronicles. Only thing was, the original writing staff didn't return. The result was a season that felt like the precursor to the Dan Harmon-less gas leak season of Community, or the Jimmy Smits/Alan Alda dominated, Sorkin-less seasons of The West Wing. Same characters, same voices, same look. But somehow, off.
Weisman did write the first episode, but that was later repurposed for the first issue of the Gargoyles comics, the true continuation of the series. That means even if you manage to find the episodes, there's no real reason to watch them.
1 GOLIATH AND ELISA EVENTUALLY ADOPT A CHILD
It’s not often a cartoon can get you to accept and even root for an interspecies relationship, but Disney had that Beauty and the Beast cred. Goliath and Elisa were a little at odds in their first episode. By the end of "Hunter’s Moon", however, they’d acknowledged their feelings and even shared their first kiss.
We don’t know how far their relationship would have gone - though we expect there’s fan art. Even if they’re biologically incompatible, the plan was for them to adopt a kid - though not without “some tragedy” along the way.
Whatever that story entails, can you imagine Greg Weisman and Jordan Peele bringing it to the big screen?
Did we miss any trivia about Gargoyles? Let us know in the comments!