Danny Phantom unveils the adventures of Danny Fenton, who straddles two worlds as a shy freshman at Casper High and a heroic phantom-fighter with ghostly superpowers. He is transformed into a half-human, half-ghost teenager after and experiment in his father’s laboratory goes wrong. With his best friends, techno-geek Tucker and free-thinking Goth girl Sam, Danny thwarts the misdeeds of menacing ghosts, and stumbles through daily social hurdles at high school. Their adventures include meeting a ghost Pharaoh, traveling through time and fighting to save summer vacation.
The series was created by Butch Hartman (The Fairly OddParents) and debuted on Nickelodeon on April 3, 2004. Danny Phantom aired for three season, plus several specials.
Essential Danny Phantom Episodes
There were several important Danny Phantom episodes that shaped the arc of the character. These episodes also set the stage for longer storytelling.
“Eye for an Eye”
Danny and Vlad’s game of revenge begins with childish pranks, and unfortunately for Danny, ends when Vlad decides to run for mayor of Amity Park. By overshadowing voters, Vlad wins the election in a landslide. The new mayor is eager to use his new power to make life as miserable as possible for Danny and his friends. He shuts down the Nasty Burger, outlaws technology, creates new school uniforms, and passes so many new laws in the name of “protecting the children” that Danny finds it impossible to go ghost. He even turns the townsfolk against Danny Phantom by painting him as an evil ghost. Completely outmaneuvered, Danny must find a way to outsmart Vlad and get back some of his freedom or Danny Phantom’s career may be over.
“Boxed Up Fury”
The Box Ghost is tired of being unappreciated and ignored. He raids his warehouse for some boxes that might help him with his wimpy image, but none of the new boxes he unleashes scare anyone. Frustrated, he sneaks into a forbidden area of the Ghost Zone to steal the mythical Pandora’s box. Soon, the Box Ghost is feared by all, because every time he opens Pandora’s box a new evil attacks Amity Park. Each evil is worse than the one before. Danny must track down the box’s owner, Pandora, a colorful old woman who doesn’t take any sass from anyone. With Pandora’s help, Danny works to put the Box Ghost back in his place.
It’s a whole new world for Danny Fenton – he’s getting A’s, he’s the quarterback of the football team, he and Tucker are best pals with Dash, and Sam is his girlfriend – and then he wakes up from a nap. He finds himself wearing a strange headset and floating in the far reaches of the Ghost Zone. He frees himself and heads home to find that Amity Park’s been conquered by Nocturn, the ghost of sleep. Danny manages to wake Sam, Tucker and Jazz, and together they set out to conquer this new, powerful ghost. While Tucker and Jazz set about destroying the machine that’s keeping everyone asleep, Danny and Sam overshadow a sleeping Nocturn and invade his dreams.
“Claw of the Wild”
Danny, Sam and Tucker are off to camp, but only Sam is excited about spending time outdoors. She even puts on a happy face when the camp turns out to be a creepy, run-down dump. Before everyone adjusts to their surroundings, Mikey runs in claiming a monster in the woods snatched his friend. Danny, Sam and Tucker explore the woods and capture the beast. Unfortunately, the next morning, Dash claims a monster ate Kwan, and then Paulina realizes Starr is missing too. Pretty soon, Danny, Tucker and Sam are forced to split up and no matter how many ghost monsters they catch, there always seems to be more.
Danielle Phantom is back, only this time, she’s being hunted by Valerie who’s been tricked by Vlad Masters into thinking the ghost girl is evil. And once Valerie has Dani under her control, she uses her to capture her more powerful cousin, Danny Phantom. When Danny wakes up to find himself under Valerie’s control, he begs her to release him so that he can save Danielle. At first, Valerie doesn’t want to listen, but Danny is able to convince her that Danielle’s human side is worth saving. Valerie frees the ghost boy and the two head off to rescue Dani. In the process of their adventure, Valerie learns that Vlad is not the selfless millionaire he seems to be, and she ends up turning her back on her benefactor and becomes a ghost-hunting free agent.
Danny defeats Plasmius in an outer space battle, prompting him to exact revenge. Plasmius creates Masters’ Blasters, a team of hip ghost fighters whose amazing prowess renders Danny Phantom unnecessary. Danny sees the Fenton Portal partially dismantled and fears that his powers may be taken away. As a stunned Sam, Tucker and Jazz look on, Danny Phantom becomes Danny Fenton – permanently.
Simultaneously, Masters’ Blasters prove they are too good to be true. And to make matters worse, Vlad’s earlier antics in space have accidentally dislodged a giant asteroid which is now headed directly for earth. As countries across the globe unite to save the planet, Vlad steps forward and reveals that he is Vlad Plasmius. He offers to turn the asteroid intangible provided the people of earth pay him billions of dollars and appoint him their supreme ruler. However, the asteroid is made of ecto-ranium, an element harmful to ghosts, and Vlad can’t touch it, much less turn it intangible.
Danny has an idea and attempts to secure the assistance of all his ghostly enemies by battle. He uses the ghosts’ energy blasts to reignite his latent ghost DNA and Danny Fenton is Danny Phantom once more. He manages to convince the ghosts that saving the earth means saving the ghost zone, and then leads the charge as the ghosts return with him to save the planet from impending doom.
Characters and Cast
Danny Fenton voiced by David Kaufman (Jaybo Hood on Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
Jazz Fenton voiced by Colleen O’Shaughnessey (Naruto)
Samantha “Sam” Manson voiced by Grey DeLisle (Dan Vs., T.U.F.F. Puppy)
Tucker Foley voiced by Rickey D’Shon Collins (Recess)
Jack Fenton, The Box Ghost, Nicolai Technus voiced by Rob Paulsen (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Looney Tunes Show)
Maddie Fenton voiced by Kath Soucie (Futurama, Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
Dash Baxter voiced by S. Scott Bullock (The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack)
Vice Principal Lancer voiced by Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Sons of Anarchy)
Vlad Masters voiced by Martin Mull (American Dad)
Lance Thunder voiced by Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad, Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
Skulker voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show, Transformers Prime)
Penelope voiced by Spectra Tara Strong (The Fairly OddParents, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic)
Creator Butch Hartman
Creator/executive producer Butch Hartman wrote and directed episodes of Dexter’s Laboratory, Cow & Chicken and Johnny Bravo before segueing to Nickelodeon’s “Oh Yeah! Cartoons!” and creating the network’s mega-hit series The Fairly OddParents, one of the top shows on all of kids’ television.
In Nicktoons, a coffee table book put out by Nickelodeon, Butch Hartman talks about coming up with Danny Phantom, “I knew that Nickelodeon was looking for a boy’s action show. So I thought I’d try to come up with something, even though I really didn’t have any ideas at the time.” So on a drive back from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, with his mom in the passenger seat, Hartman starting thinking about what he could do. “The first thing that came to mind was Jonny Quest. I love that name! If I could come up with something that cool, just a name that neat, I’d be halfway there.” After brainstorming for names, he came up with Danny Phantom.
Execs from Nickelodeon loved the idea, a team was hired and Danny Phantom became a classic Nickelodeon cartoon.