I remember it being the dead of night, which, to a 6 year-old, was probably like 10 pm. My mom and I had our square TV turned to Disney Channel and all the lights turned off. It was one of the few cartoons she would willingly watch with me, and the only one she would let me stay up far past my bedtime to see. Other than the special immunity the show would provide for me from my early bedtime, the first thing I recall when I try to remember it is the dramatic, symphonic score that would play throughout each episode, and that I still have yet to hear in any animated series I’ve watched since. The next detail that comes to mind are the gothic colors that would fill the screen from the title sequence to the rolling end credits. Hand painted animation composed of dark hues of purple, black, and grey never felt more welcoming. But even more than these mystical elements would be the advanced storytelling for what was supposed to be a children’s cartoon. In the short span of a 30 minute episode, you would feel like you had watched something enthralling, funny, and almost Shakespearean in its narrative. All of these unique elements came together and resulted in Disney’s Gargoyles.
The animated series, which ran from 1994-1997, featured a race of warrior creatures known as gargoyles from 994 A.D. Scotland who were cursed and turned to stone. After a thousand years, the gargoyles are transported to New York by an eccentric billionaire who successfully breaks the curse, freeing them from their permanent petrified state to see the moonshine again. Once having regained their freedom, Goliath, the leader of the pack, and his gang try their best to adapt to the new millenium. Aided by their human friend, detective Elisa Maza, the show follows the gargoyles in their everyday escapades adjusting to modern life, while both enjoying the good in humanity, as well as fighting off the dangers that come with it.
Everything about the animated series was amazing. Even aside from the beautiful animation and score, Gargoyles proved to be, at its heart, an endearing show about “monsters” who were more human than most people. Each of the characters were so likable and had so much depth in their writing, it was difficult not to grow attached and love them- even the villains! I was always so excited to watch another episode. I remember wanting to live in this world forever, soaring with Goliath and his friends all night long.
Sadly, these days of staying up late to watch new episodes were short lived as the series was originally cancelled after airing its third season. The reasoning behind the show’s cut range from changes in management at Disney, to lower ratings from the third season, and even to the highly publicized news coverage of the O.J. Simpson Trial drawing viewers away at the time. No matter the case, the termination of Gargoyles was an end to what could have easily been an epic saga.
After the abrupt cancellation, and with Disney Channel playing less reruns over the years, the series became easier to fit in the back pocket of your mind and, even for dedicated viewers like myself, with each passing year Gargoyles became more and more of a distant memory. Before finding other fans, I genuinely questioned if the show existed at all. Gargoyles was such a lesser known series at the time and if it hadn’t been for coming across a dedicated fan page on the internet, I would swear it was something my mom and I had both dreamt up.
Even to this day, when I come across someone else who loved the series, or even just knew about it, I become ecstatic. I feel instantly connected to them- like we both have a shared experience. Were they once up past their bedtime watching Gargoyles too somewhere in the world? Finding other fans throughout the years always takes me back to those late night watches with my mom.
Luckily, Gargoyles is no longer a distant memory from the 90’s. Instead, the nostalgia lives on as the entire series was uploaded onto Disney Plus back in 2019. Whether you temporarily turned to stone waiting for its resurgence like me, or are experiencing the series in all its glory for the first time, fans now have the option of soaring with Goliath and his friends on their adventures once more.