Total Drama

Total Drama

Updated Mar 17, 2014 at 10:24PM EDT by Brad.

Added Oct 28, 2012 at 07:52PM EDT by Reson X.

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Total Drama is a Canadian animated television series produced by Fresh TV, which also makes the related and similar shows 6Teen and Stoked, which airs on Teletoon in Canada and on Cartoon Network in the United States. There are currently four seasons of the show: Total Drama Island, Total Drama Action, Total Drama World Tour and Total Drama: Revenge of the Island. The Total Drama series is supposedly intended for tween audiences, but contains some highly questionable content for such young audiences and is very popular with older teenagers and adults. The show is known for its highly prominent online fanbase, which is characterized primarily by character worship and shipping, and has produced innumerable pieces of fan art and fan fiction.


The series is a faux–reality show based mainly on Survivor, particularly in the first season, with highly exaggerated situations. It depicts a fictional reality show hosted, directed, created and run almost singlehandedly by the sadistic sociopath Chris McLean, in which many teenage contestants compete in various and increasingly dangerous challenges for a large sum of money. The contestants are all loosely based on common teenage archetypes, but have distinctive traits beyond this, and are more than simple caricatures. Various romances, friendships and conflicts develop between them over the course of the show, and character development is strong for a comedy–based cartoon. True to the title, genuine drama often occurs in the series, though it always takes a backseat to the sadistic slapstick comedy. Notable characters prominent in both the show itself and in the fandom include Gwen, Heather, Courtney, Cody, Noah and Ezekiel, among others.

Recognition of Fandom within the Show

In keeping with the “reality show” theme of the series, the show has attempted to acknowledge its audience within itself, to a greater extent than most other cartoons of its nature. In early 2010, the special known as Celebrity Manhunt’s Total Drama Reunion Special aired, depicting a fictional TMZ–like show chronicling the lives of the contestants following the ending of Total Drama Action. This special introduces the character of Sierra, an obsessed stalker of Cody who is based on the show’s obsessive fans as well as the fan characters they create (which are extremely common in the Total Drama fandom), as is apparent in her overall design. Her character would be prominent in the show’s third season, Total Drama World Tour, as would other characters including Cody and Noah, both of whom were absent in the second season but were brought back as major characters in the third, in what is believed to be due to their fan popularity. On the other hand, the character Ezekiel, the first contestant to be eliminated in the first season and, by all realistic accounts, a complete loser, was brought back as a contestant in the third season as well… only to not only be eliminated first again, but subsequently proceed to go insane and degenerate into a feral monster, in a direct insult towards all of his fans, who had given Ezekiel positive and prominent roles in fan works such as Total Drama Comeback (the title of which is also referenced in the aforementioned special) and had petitioned for him to receive such a role in the show itself.

The idea of a musical version of Total Drama angered many fans, and as a response to these complains, the title of what was intended to be called Total Drama the Musical was changed to Total Drama World Tour, though the musical premise and the content of the season itself was not changed. At the end of the Celebrity Manhunt Reunion Special, Chris McLean announces the next season as “Total Drama the Musical” and starts to sing about it, only to then state that the title won’t work, as a nod to the controversy.

Fandom Memes

Heather’s Boobies

In the thirteenth episode of Total Drama Island, titled "X–Treme Torture, the character Heather, who is the main antagonist of the season aside from Chris, has her breasts accidentally and briefly exposed during a challenge, which is seen onscreen but is blurred. The character Harold, who witnesses this, exclaims “Boobies!” This word was edited in the Cartoon Network version of the show, which made many content alterations, although it is still said elsewhere in the episode. Encyclopedia Dramatica called these scenes “the greatest moments ever in a children’s animated series”.

Lindsay Curses Out Heather

Another notable and “inappropriate” moment from later in the first season, in which the character Lindsay, who had been manipulated by Heather throughout the season and had just been indirectly eliminated from the competition because of her, snaps at Heather, giving her the middle finger (which is censored) and shouting a long, obscene, censored phrase at her. This is changed to “No good, selfish, heartless, pushy, bossy, mean, bully of a girl!” in the Cartoon Network version, which has been harshly criticized. The scene has inspired many parodies on Youtube.

Gwen’s Shovel

In episode seven of Total Drama Action, titled “The Chefshank Redemption”, Gwen, the former main protagonist of the show who had recently dumped her love interest, Trent, is pressured my minor antagonist Justin to sabotage her own team in order to “repay” Justin’s team for the challenges Trent threw for her. Towards the end of the episode, as the team is tunneling out of prison, Gwen, desperate for a way to make her team lose, claims to have a claustrophobia–induced anxiety attack and bashes her teammate Harold over the head with a golden shovel that was part of the challenge, breaking the shovel and knocking Harold out. This directly leads to Gwen’s elimination.

The Love Triangle

By far the most controversial issue of the show involves a “love triangle” between the characters Gwen, Courtney and Duncan, which had been hinted at and picked up on by fans as of the first two seasons but came to a violent climax in Total Drama World Tour. To make a long story short, Duncan, who had historically been Courtney’s boyfriend throughout the series up to that point, cheats on her with Gwen, who had recently become Courtney’s friend, at the end of the thirteenth episode, at the midpoint of the season. This leads to much severe drama, including the permanent and conclusive “sinking” of the “ship” that was “DxC”, and much suffering on the part of Gwen, who is made the target of Courtney’s unbridled wrath to the point that a musical number is devoted to condemning her and is ultimately eliminated under humiliating and ironic circumstances, but still ends up with Duncan. These events caused the largest “fan–war” in Total Drama’s history, with thousands taking sides between Gwen and Courtney and their respective relationships with Duncan. The fact that the show itself sent mixed messages as to which of the three involved characters were meant to come across sympathetically did not help either, and all three gained many haters. Gwen and Courtney in particularly have become the two most polarizing characters in the series as a direct result of this drama.

When the show was broadcast in foreign countries, after its run in both Canada and America, an extra scene was added to the end of one episode, after all three of the characters involved in the love triangle have been eliminated, confirming the continuation of Gwen and Duncan’s relationship.

In July of 2012, the creators of the series finally addressed the issue of the love triangle directly in a video in which multiple fan–submitted questions were answered. Series creator Tom McGillis claimed that, while he preferred “DxC”, the executives at Teletoon forced him and the writers to break them up because they wanted the show to portray the dynamics of teenage relationships realistically, in the sense that first crushes rarely if ever stay together.

DeviantArt Memes

The Total Drama fanbase has a great presence on deviantART, where thousands upon thousands of fan art pieces exist. Multiple “memes” related to the show, consisting of templates which others are prompted to fill out according to their thoughts on the series, exist on DA, such as the “Total Drama Controversy Meme” and the “Total Drama Shipping Meme”. Both of these memes in particular have received hundreds of responses.

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Top Comments

Crimson Locks
Crimson Locks

Hmmm, this is the first I’ve heard of this show and it’s popularity on the internet. Before now, the only time I’ve seen anything about this was when I saw commercials on Cartoon Network. Personally, I thought the show looked terrible and seemed like a bad attempt to market a cartoon geared towards preteens/teens. Even the animation just looks like Danny Phantom gone terribly wrong. But, seeing as this show does apparently have an internet following I guess I’ll give this show the benefit of the doubt and give it a go sometime.


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