The series was created by Craig McCracken, the creator of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, which started to air in 2004, the year before Cartoon Network aired The Powerpuff Girls' final aired episode.
The plot of the series follows three super powered little girls, Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup, who were accidentally created by Professor Utonium during a science experiment to create the perfect little girls. The girls are often summoned by the Mayor of Townsville to stop any threats the town faces.
History and Production
During Craig McCracken's first year in the character animation program of CalArts, he created a series of short cartoons based on a character called "No Neck Joe". In June 1991, he created a drawing of three girls on a small sheet of orange construction paper as a birthday card design for his brother.
The following year he included the three girls as the main characters of his short film Whoopass Stew! The Whoopass Girls in: A Sticky Situation. Initially, McCracken wanted to animate four Whoopass Girls shorts, but only one came to be. McCracken's shorts were selected to be shown at Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation in 1994.
While working on 2 Stupid Dogs in 1993, McCracken's Whoopass Girls short was picked up for a series by Cartoon Network. However, the name Whoopass had to be dropped for the channel to include it as part of its new What a Cartoon! animated shorts showcase mostly because the name Whoopass sounded inappropriate because it was pronounced whoop ass. The Whoopass Girls then became The Powerpuff Girls, and the "can of whoop ass" was renamed "Chemical X". McCracken's new short, entitled
"The Powerpuff Girls in: Meat Fuzzy Lumpkins", aired as part the network's World Premiere Toon-In on February 20, 1995.
As depicted in the opening sequence of each episode, the Powerpuff Girls were created by Professor Utonium in an attempt "to create the perfect little girls" using a mixture of "sugar, spice, and everything nice". However, he accidentally spilled a mysterious substance called "Chemical X" into the mixture, creating, instead of the "perfect little girl", three girls (each possessing one of the above elements dominating her personality), and granting all three superpowers including flight, super strength, super speed, near invulnerability, x-ray vision, super senses, heat vision, energy projection, invisibility, and control over lightning.
- Blossom (voiced by Cathy Cavadini) is the tactician and self-proclaimed leader of the Powerpuff Girls. Her personality ingredient is "everything nice", her signature color is pink, and she has long red hair with a red bow and a heart-shaped hairclip that can be seen from behind. She was named for having spoken freely and honestly to the Professor shortly after her creation as shown in the Powerpuff Girls Movie. She is often seen as the most level-headed, and composed member of the group and also strong and determined. Her unique power is freezing objects with her breath as seen in the episode "Ice Sore".
- Bubbles (voiced by Tara Strong in the series and by Kath Soucie in the What a Cartoon! episodes) is the cute and sensitive one. Her personality ingredient is sugar, her signature color is blue, and she has short blonde hair in two pigtails. Bubbles is seen as kind and very sweet but she is also capable of extreme rage and can fight monsters just as well as her sisters can. Her best friend is a stuffed octopus doll she calls "Octi", and she also loves animals. She exhibits the ability to both understand multiple languages and communicate with various animals (squirrels, cats, monsters), and her unique power is emitting supersonic waves with her voice.
- Buttercup (voiced by E. G. Daily) is the toughest of the three. Her personality ingredient is spice, her signature color is green, and she has short black hair in a flip. She is a tomboy who loves to get dirty, fights hard and plays rough; she does not plan and is all action. Buttercup is the only Powerpuff Girl without a unique super power (aside from being able to curl her tongue as shown in the episode "Nuthin' Special"). But often is shown being much stronger than her sisters. For example, she often takes on many monsters her self and defeats them all. McCracken originally wanted to name the character "Bud" until a friend suggested the name Buttercup.
In a 2000 Entertainment Weekly review, Marc Bernadin complimented the show on its "spot-on pop-culture acumen" and "unparalleled sense of fun", giving it a warm welcome from earlier "lame" superhero cartoons that he grew up with. Peter Marks of The New York Times noted the show's use of adult humor and pop culture references, declaring it "the sort of playful satire that can appeal as much to a viewer of 37 as 7. Joly Herman of Common Sense Media describes the show as a "cute, highly stylized series thrills the senses with its strange characters, funny situations, and lots of lowbrow humor". She goes on to say, however, that the show does go from innocent to violent in no time and that there is not much protecting young viewers against the violent undertones. Robert Lloyd of the LA Times said that the series might be "transgressive" based on the violence but "also cute".
TV Guide chose the Powerpuff Girls as No. 17 in a list of the 50 Greatest cartoon characters of all time. IGN ranked the series 18th in its Top 25 Primetime Animated Series of All Time list in 2006.
Delta Express promoted the series by having a Boeing 737-200 jet painted with a special livery featuring the characters Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup on the exterior. The plane's inaugural flight was held at Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, on July 17, 2000. In 2002 the aircraft was repainted with a different Powerpuff Girlstheme to promote The Powerpuff Girls Movie. The Powerpuff Girls series has won two Primetime Emmys, two Annie Awards, and including those four wins, has been nominated a total of sixteen times for various awards.
- The creator of this show would later create another series for Cartoon Network, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, whose characters make cameo appearances in The Powerpuff Girls Rule!!.
- Powerpuff Girls Doujinshi - A Webcomic Anime-styled crossover created by Bleedman (Vinson Ngo).
- PPGZ or simple Demashitta! Powerpuff Girls Z - A Rebooted Anime version of The Powerpuff Girls set in Japan. The anime is co-produced by Cartoon Network Japan and Aniplex with a Twist of Magic and was animated and produced by Toei Animation, featuring character design by Miho Shimogasa (Cutie Honey Flash, Ultra Maniac). As production occurred in Japan, Craig McCracken, the original creator of The Powerpuff Girls, was not directly involved with the project.
- The Powerpuff Girls - The reboot series, which started in 2016 and has received backlash from fans.