The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy is an American animated television series that originally aired on Cartoon Network. The show aired from August 24, 2001 to November 9, 2007, but still airs occasionally. On September 21, 2002, it started airing on the European Cartoon Network.
The two main characters, Billy and Mandy, have manipulated the Grim Reaper, usually called "Grim," into being their best friend for eternity after having won a bet over a sick hamster through a game of limbo.
The show's existence is largely the result of a viewer poll. An Internet and call-in event called Big Pick was held from August 24 to August 25, 2000. The three final choices were Grim & Evil, Whatever Happened to Robot Jones? and Longhair and Doubledome. Out of the three, Grim & Evil won the most votes. The first season appeared on Cartoon Network in 2001. Robot Jones would later be made into a full series despite losing; Longhair and Doubledome would reappear with another pilot episode in another Big Pick-style show later on, only to fall short once again.
Originally part of Grim & Evil, Billy & Mandy served as the main show. In each episode, an Evil Con Carne short was put between two Grim shorts. On occasion, it was the other way around, with two Evil shorts and one Grim short. In 2003, the network separated the two and gave both a full length show. The short-lived Evil Con Carne show was cancelled once the already-produced season had aired. In 2004, it was given another short-lived run with the newly created intro and end credits, only to be cancelled again. Some characters from Evil Con Carne, usually Skarr (who eventually became Billy's neighbor), occasionally appeared on The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy.
According to Maxwell Atoms' blog on MySpace, the show ended post-production in spring 2007, after having 78 full half-hour episodes, which is as many half hours as Cartoon Network has given to any of its original series. It currently airs on Teletoon.
Billy and Mandy are two children from Endsville, a typical "Anytown, USA." One day, while they are celebrating the 10th birthday of Billy's old pet hamster, Mr. Snuggles, the Grim Reaper appears. He comes to reap the old hamster's soul, but, to his surprise, Billy and Mandy are not afraid of him at all. Mandy refuses to give Grim the hamster and offers to play a game for its soul (a homage to the classic film The Seventh Seal). If the Reaper wins, he would get the hamster's soul.
Grim, assured of his victory, says that, if they win, he will be their best friend "forever and ever". Grim takes Billy and Mandy to limbo to play, where they compete in Grim's favorite game—limbo. However he loses because Mandy cheats by making Mr. Snuggles attack him, and Grim is doomed to be the "best friend" of these two children, a task he suffers with no small amount of disdain and mockery from other supernatural creatures. Grim is very depressed in the first days of his servitude, but as the time passes, he gradually adapts to the new life. Despite this, he has a love-hate relationship with Billy and Mandy and desires that he will eventually break free from his servitude (he mentions fantasies of killing them multiple times).
The show takes place in modern-day Endsville, Billy and Mandy's hometown. Endsville's location is an Anytown, USA where the location, climate conditions, and anything else bends to the whim of the plot. The city has been seen several times with palm trees, hot summers, and a beach, while it is shown that it snows there in November ("Dumb Wish"). In the episode "Jeffy's Web", the Statue of Liberty can be seen. The age of the town is also frequently changed: it appears in flashbacks of Harold's youth ("The Taking Tree"), the early 1900s ("Who Killed Who?"), medieval times ("Billy and Mandy's Jacked Up Halloween"), and prehistoric times ("Wrath of the Spider Queen"). Grim ostensibly comes from the Underworld, so the show makes frequent forays onto his turf. Grim's scythe is able to produce cosmic rifts through which the characters can visit different planes of existence, including afterlife variations like Nirvana, Asgard and Lower Heck.
The show's universe, in addition to frequently violating the laws of physics, also contains a number of historical variations and anachronisms. Abraham Lincoln is President (save for the episode "Ecto Cooler", where he appears as a ghost) and is a personal friend of Billy. The world police organization is not the United Nations, but the League of Nations, which in reality, disbanded in 1946. The presence of what appears to be a Communist leader in the League of Nations may also suggest that the Soviet Union has not dissolved in this universe.
The universe is also Evil Con Carne's universe: the characters meet, briefly. In the third season episode "Skarred for Life", General Skarr meets the characters in what could be seen as a full crossover. Skarr is now a recurring character in the show, and he struggles with fighting his addiction to war. Hector, the star of Evil Con Carne, also makes a brief appearance, along with Boskov the Bear (to whom Hector is physically attached), Cod Commando, and Skarr (3 other characters on the show) in a crowded jail cell in the episode "Duck!", which provoked Hector to break the fourth wall and point out that he's "not even in this stupid show anymore"; in the episode "Chicken Ball Z" he sells his island to Mandy for $50,000 she earned in the karate tournament.
There is limited continuity between episodes, allowing for the destruction or alteration of the world, or with the disappearance, horrific transformation, or (implied or not) death of the main characters such as Mandy becoming a giant brain eating meteor in "Little Rock of Horror". Often the episode will end with no resolution at all. In "Billy Gets an "A"", the show ended with a comical "The End". Billy once also attempted to end the show early out of boredom.
However, there are a few exceptions to the usual lack of continuity. Characters that have appeared in the previous episodes may return again, such as Pinocchio, who debuted in "Nursery Crimes" and returns in "Billy Ocean", Lord Pain from "House of Pain" who returns in "Everything Breaks" and Boogey from "Bully Boogie" returns in Billy & Mandy's Big Boogey Adventure and Billy & Mandy: Wrath of the Spider Queen. The characters usually show awareness of the previous events during these shifts. The events centered around recurring characters may even grow into a larger canon and cause changes to the characters.
Billy & Mandy often breaks the fourth wall, and the characters often mention previous episodes in a humorous manner. However, the one who breaks the fourth wall most frequently is Mandy. She often seems aware of the audience and comments on current events directly to the viewer (her comments are usually insults to the episode). This is commonly at the beginning of every show (except the UK showings of "My Fair Mandy", and possibly UK showings of "Wild Parts/The Problem with Billy" as well), where she gives the audience some form of message. She may also appear in various guises. What message she gives, and/or what guise she appears in, are specific to the episodes shown. For example, in the case of "Hurter Monkey/Goodbling and the Hip-Hop-Opotamus", she says to the audience that she's "only got one nerve left, and you're getting on it." In another episode, she literally got up and walked out of the television upon knowing that the episode will, once again, be about pets (something very common in the universe of Billy and Mandy). Billy also breaks the fourth wall a great number of times as well as Grim, who says, I'm pretty good at reading subtitles backwards. Another example is in "Pandora's Lunch Box", Mandy says "Who writes this stuff, anyway?", then it goes to a baby typing on a typewriter. Billy then impersonates Mandy, saying it again.
The score composers for the series are Gregory Hinde and Drew Neumann. The first season was composed by Guy Moon (when it was Grim & Evil). Several episodes feature music performances. The episode "Little Rock of Horror," which parodies the musical version of The Little Shop of Horrors, features a song by Voltaire, titled "BRAINS!", the dance done when the citizens are brain-robbed is similar to Michael Jackson's Thriller. In Billy & Mandy's Big Boogey Adventure, Voltaire plays the song "Land of the Dead" in the opening credits. In the same film, Billy himself actually sings a song which Maxwell Atoms and Gregory Hinde wrote called "Scary-O". The song Boogie Wonderland by Earth, Wind & Fire with The Emotions is played during the closing credits. In the episode "Battle of the Bands" the song 'Darkness' by the band SPF 1000, composed by David Ivy, who sold the rights to the song to the show, was performed by Grim and a garage band "Purple Filth" for the Battle of the Bands contest. 'Darkness' is also heard in the credits of the video game. In the Christmas Special "Billy and Mandy Save Christmas", song Round and Round by Ratt is played during the credits. There is a backmasked message in the credits of the TV show. At the end of the credits, it sounds like a voice saying something in reverse. When reversed, Maxwell Atoms says, "No, No, this is the end of the show. You're watching it backwards!"
An 80-minute TV movie called Billy & Mandy's Big Boogey Adventure aired on March 30, 2007, with DVD release coming out few days later, on April 3, 2007. In the UK, the movie aired on February 14, 2007 on Cartoon Network. In Canada, the movie aired on March 17, 2007, on Teletoon.
A second movie, Wrath of the Spider Queen was aired on July 6, 2007. It was based on a spider queen from Grim's distant past, who tries to take revenge on Grim, because she was meant to be the reaper. Meanwhile, keeping up with the spider theme, Billy learns to love his spider son Jeff.
On Sunday, October 12, 2008, a spin-off, "Underfist: Halloween Bash", premiered. The movie's primary focus is on Irwin, Jeff the Spider, Hoss Delgado, General Skarr and Fred Fredburger accidentally coming together to defeat an invasion of chocolate bar monsters, led by an evil marshmallow bunny, on Halloween night.
A video game based on the series was developed by Midway for the GameCube, Wii, PlayStation 2 and Game Boy Advance. It was released on October 2, 2006, and as a Wii launch title on November 19, 2006.
The complete first season of Billy & Mandy was released on DVD on September 18, 2007. The following special features include
- Commentary on "Battle of the Bands/Little Rock of Horror/Dream a Little Dream" with Maxwell Atoms and Billy (voiced by Richard Horvitz)
- A Behind the Fiends Featurette with Maxwell Atoms
- Mandyisms (A collection of Mandy's phrases from the beginning of each episode)
- Burp-O-Rama ("Night of the Living Grim/Brown Evil Pts. 1 & 2" with burping sounds throughout the episodes)
- Skarr-O-Vision feature ("Evil Con Carne/Emotional Skarr/Evil Goes Wild" shown with Skarr's facial scar over the screen)
- A music video for Voltaire's "BRAINS!"
- A Mr. Snuggles virtual pet
- Bonus Evil Con Carne episodes.
Additionally, select episodes from the series have been featured on various Cartoon Network DVDs.
- Cartoon Network Halloween Volume 1 - 9 Creepy Capers (August 10, 2004)—"Billy and Mandy's Jacked Up Halloween"
- Cartoon Network Christmas Volume 1 - Yuletide Follies (October 5, 2004)—"Son of Nergal"
- Ed, Edd n Eddy, Volume 1 - Edifying Ed-Ventures (May 10, 2005)—"Nursery Crimes"
- Cartoon Network Halloween Volume 2 - Grossest Halloween Ever (August 9, 2005)—"Night of the Living Grim"
- Cartoon Network Christmas Volume 2 - Christmas Rocks (October 5, 2005)—"Battle of the Bands"
- Cartoon Network Halloween Volume 3 - Sweet Sweet Fear (September 12, 2006)—"The Bubble with Billy"
- Cartoon Network Fridays - Volume 1 (September 19, 2006)—"Herbicidal Maniac"
- Cartoon Network Christmas Volume 3 (October 3, 2006)—"Billy & Mandy Save Christmas"
- Billy & Mandy's Big Boogey Adventure (April 3, 2007)—"Bully Boogie"