What if an ordinary high school girl saves the world on a daily basis, but is more afraid of her life as a teenager than any villains plotting to take over the world? Kim Possible answers that question in this well-regarded comedy-adventure series.
Kim Possible is an all-ages animated comedy, action, and adventure series created by Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle. It ran for 87 episodes across four seasons, with episodes ranging in length from 11 to 22 minutes. Even though Kim Possible aired from 2002 to 2007, and many shows have come and gone since then, it shines in its own way.
As a warning, this recommendation discusses some spoilers for Kim Possible.
Kim Possible centers on its titular hero (voiced by Christy Carlson Romano), a high school student who fights crime and saves the world at the same time. In fact, she finds being a teen even tougher than fighting villains like Dr. Drakken (voiced by John DiMaggio) and Shego (voiced by Nicole Sullivan). Kim is helped by her childhood friend, Ron Stoppable (voiced by Will Friedle), his naked mole rat, Rufus (voiced by Nancy Cartwright), and a computer genius named Wade Load (voiced by Tahj Mowry).
The story is mainly told from Kim’s perspective, as she tries to balance her life as a crime fighter and a teenager in high school. Major supporting characters include Kim’s parents, James (voiced by Gary Cole) and Ann Possible (voiced by Jean Smart), and the “tweebs” as Kim dubs them, Jim (voiced by Shaun Fleming) and Tim (Spencer Fox), who are Kim’s younger brothers. Her brothers are a little like Phineas and Ferb, and have a bigger role in helping Kim and her friends in the show’s fourth season.
Throughout Kim Possible, Kim faces off against Bonnie Rockwaller (voiced by Kirsten Storms), who is equivalent to Mandy in Totally Spies!. She is a rival classmate that is inconsiderate and is the complete opposite of Kim.
Kim is also helped by one of her best friends, Monique (voiced by Raven-Symoné), who helps her achieve a healthy work-life balance. In the fourth season, Monique designs Kim’s new mission suit and even gets Kim a new pirate uniform in one episode. Since she knows a lot about fashion, she is akin to Tomoyo Daidouji, who designed all of Sakura Kinomoto’s outfits in Cardcaptor Sakura.
When Kim, Ron, Rufus, and Wade, known collectively as Team Possible, aren’t battling Drakken and Shego, they fight a variety of other villains such the half-monkey/half-man Monkey Fist (voiced by Tom Kane), Scottish golfer Duff Killigan (voiced by Brian George), German evil scientist Professor Dementor (voiced by Patton Oswald) and the wealthy father-son team, Señor Senior, Sr. (voiced by Ricardo Montalbán and Earl Boen) and Señor Senior, Jr. (voiced by Néstor Carbonell). The latter two are villains only because they are bored.
Since the show is for all ages, it doesn’t have any gratuitous violence nor any mature themes present in series like Human Kind Of, Inside Job, and Disenchantment. Despite this, the show is still strong with funny jokes and situations. Even though it ended 15 years ago, the humor holds up.
The dialogue of Kim Possible is fast-paced and meant to cater to adult viewers, along with some visual jokes. This makes it similar to Phineas & Ferb, which has a spy subplot between a crime-fighting platypus and a evil scientist. Kim Possible is different because Drakken was formerly a classmate of Kim’s father, making for intriguing stories throughout the series.
Unlike other Disney productions, the series is not very musical, meaning that there aren’t songs in almost every episode as is the case for its more recent shows like Elena of Avalor, Milo Murphy’s Law, Mira, Royal Detective, and Sofia the First. Even so, there are occasional songs throughout the series. Furthermore, the theme which opens every episode (“Call Me, Beep Me!,” sung by Afro-Cuban actress and singer Christina Milian) gets you in the mood to watch each episode.
The characters, especially Kim and Ron, develop over the course of Kim Possible and realize who they are as people. This makes the viewer more invested in these characters and want to watch more episodes. Each plot, even if a simple one, is fascinating and pulls you in, building the story and making you care about what happens next. The series doesn’t take itself too seriously, which makes it even more appealing.
Much of the comedy in Kim Possible comes from Drakken’s hair-brained schemes or Ron’s antics. Only Kazuda Xiono in Star Wars Resistance and Oscar in The Proud Family rival Ron’s goofiness. He matures through the series. In the process, he becomes more romantically attracted to Kim, while she is attracted to him. He remains afraid of monkeys, making Monkey King his main arch-foe, while gaining what is known as the “mystical monkey power.”
I have not seen the James Bond films that the series is parodying, nor that many spy films, but that didn’t make me less interested in the show. I did see similarities between Kim Possible and the more recent Carmen Sandiego series, which has a similar set-up. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kim Possible had somehow influenced that show. Unlike that show, Kim Possible has storylines which criticize celebrity culture, boy bands, consumerism, school popularity, fast food industry, fashion industry, corporate world, and not accepting other people.
Kim Possible is different from other shows in that Kim does not follow any stereotypes about women, which are often ingrained within and manifested by female characters. She can easily serve as a role model for people, just as much Carmen Sandiego in the new series about her, or Rapunzel in Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure. This is because Kim has a loving family and supportive friends. She has a group of people ready to stand by her and help no matter what, even doing missions for her if she is too sick.
Kim is a bit of an optimist, as made clear by her slogan that she can “do anything.” This comes to a head in some episodes as she begins to realize that she can’t do everything, and she should have others help her if she is in trouble.
Similar to Adora in the award-winning series, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, or Carmen Sandiego, Kim has no secret identity. Instead, everyone knows her name and who she is, which makes her vulnerable at times. Even so, she is still able to travel the world and fight evil wherever, while keeping her social life back in the town of Middleton.
The voice actors of Kim Possible are well-known for other shows, like Futurama, The Simpsons, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The show has an air of authenticity since Romano was only 16 years old when she took the role of voicing Kim, meaning that she was maturing as the show was moving forward, just like Kim herself. This is similar to what Abbi Jacobson, who voices the protagonist in Disenchantment, said about her voice acting for Princess Bean in that series.
One character in Kim Possible stands out: Shego. Although she is a villain and a criminal mercenary, some have argued that she is a feminist icon because, like Kim, she is no damsel in distress. She is a powerful woman who often makes sarcastic remarks and can have an abrasive personality at times. She can stand face-to-face with Kim and is her match in more ways than one, as she can be cunning and ruthless. In fact, she is perhaps one of the smartest characters in the series, even able to take over the world in the 2003 film, Kim Possible: A Sitch in Time.
Sullivan, her voice actress, delivers her lines with such precision that it makes you love Shego that much more. Unlike other villains, Shego is never shown killing anyone in the series, even if she views human life in a callous way.
She is clearly a badass and has a moral compass, unlike other villains. Despite the fact that others respect her, she could care less for them. She would rather read villain magazines, file the nails on her gloves, paint her nails, listen to the latest pop music, or go on vacation. She is unique in that she possesses green energy which can be generated from her hands. She is also as agile and fit as Kim. Their fights are just as epic as the sword fights in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, and Star Wars: Clone Wars.
This has led some fans to ship her with Kim. Kigo has over 400 fanfics on Archive of Our Own. In the show’s canon, however, Shego has a romantic relationship with Drakken following the conclusion of the show and is shown crushing on various men throughout the series. In the show itself, Kim and Shego have a mutual respect for each other, even though they are rivals. Kim even worries when Shego becomes “good” in a Season 4 episode and occasionally working with her.
Shego is very popular with fans, garnering thousands of stories, cosplays, and fan art. Even voice actress Amber Romero, who voices Parsley in High Guardian Spice, gave a nod to naming her cat “Shego.”
The show’s staying power is a testament to the fans. After the airing of the show’s first three seasons and 2005 film, Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama, production on the series was halted by Disney executives. The success of the film convinced executives to renew the series for a fourth and final season, giving the series another 22 episodes, which Schooley called a “bolt out of the blue.” The series makes clear that fans have the power to push for a show’s continuation and can convince executives to change their minds.
The fourth season has a different tone than the previous seasons, as Kim and Ron are in a romantic relationship, something which started at the conclusion of the 2005 film. Much of the season is focused on that, and the strain it puts on both of them. The theme song is the same, but the opening sequence is different than the one used in the first three seasons.
In the season, Kim wears a battle suit, is more nimble, and is in her last year of high school, as are Ron and Monique. She also deals with the tweebs in school as they are now freshmen in her high school. Wade falls for Monique, Kim gets her own car, tries out a new crime-fighting outfit, and attempts to get Ron to eat a balanced diet.
Other Season 4 episodes focus on raising a young sibling, a shapeshifting villain, pirates, living history, job insecurity, voice-activated technology, social isolation, robots, mentorship, pneumatic tubes, babysitting, mind control, information control, lost pets, nannies, roleplaying games, high school graduation, alien invasion, and genetic mutation.
Beyond that, some of my other favorite characters include Camille Léon (voiced by Ashley Tisdale), Electronique (voiced by Kari Wahlgren), Motor Ed (voiced by DiMaggio), Will Du (voiced by B. D. Wong), Master Sensei (voiced by George Takei), Yori (voiced by Keiko Agena), and Zita Flores (voiced by Nika Futterman).
By Season 4, however, Yori’s crushing on Ron has come to end, as Kim and Ron are dating. She is like a strong female character in anime and she respects Ron for who he is and is a skilled fighter. Camille is a terrible slimeball, but her ability to shapeshift into anyone makers her a worthy adversary. Motor Ed is an intriguing, but terrible, character not because of his often use of of the word “seriously” or that he plays air guitar. Rather it is due to the fact that he is a male chauvinist who has an eye out for beautiful women, like Shego, who understandably wants nothing to do with him.
Most reviews of the series are positive, but some are more critical. For instance, Lyn Mikel Brown in Girlfighting was dismayed at Kim for promoting a thin and beautiful heroine as an “average girl,” the reliance on Ron, her biggest threat as Bonnie, and Kim set against other girls. This has some truth to it. Kim is a pretty and smart action hero and more cartoons have said that all body types are beautiful, not just those who are thin and athletic. However, Brown is forgetting that one of Kim’s closest friends is Monique.
Additionally, there’s nothing to say that Kim wouldn’t have more female friends, since she has a network of people across the world who owe her favors. Some have argued that Kim is bisexual and have done so in some fanfics. They’ve even extended the same to Ron or to Shego.
The series has a bit more diversity, even with two White protagonists, than some more recent Disney series like Tangled and Phineas & Ferb. Wade’s voice actor, Lowry, is part Afro-Bahamian and Monique’s voice actor, Raven-Symoné, is a Black woman. Although both have important roles in the first three seasons, they have even bigger roles in the show’s fourth season, with both going directly on missions – more for Wade than Monique. Additionally, Kevin Michael Richardson (as “Slim” Possible) is a Black man, Roz Ryan (as Wade’s mother) and Sherri Shepherd (as M.C. Honey) are Black women.
There is other diversity in the cast. Adam Rodriguez (as Burn) is of Puerto Rican descent, Brian George (voice of Professor Acari) is of Indian descent, Gedde Watanabe (as Professor Robert Chen) is of Japanese descent. Clyde Kusatsu (as Nakasumi), Lauren Tom (as Miss Kyoko), and John Cho (as Hirotaka) are Japanese, while the late Montalbán was Mexican, and Carbonell is of Cuban descent.
Despite this, the show does not feature any outward LGBTQ characters even though Raven-Symoné, Wong, and Takei are gay and part of the show’s cast. The closest we have are characters cross-dressing: Professor Dementor wearing a dress in an attempt to trick Kim, Ron and Wade dressing up as women in one episode, or Mr. Barkin wearing a dress on multiple occasions. If the show was to get a fifth season or was rebooted, hopefully this would improve, with complex and captivating LGBTQ characters, more diversity in the cast, and having protagonists in college like the later seasons of Totally Spies!. Some additional racial diversity in the series would also be a plus.
Kim Possible continues to remain popular, garnering a crossover episode in Lilo & Stitch: The Series in August 2005, and a live-action film entitled “Kim Possible” in 2019. Even so, it is very unlikely that it will return, regardless of the recent revival of The Proud Family. This is because the series ended on a declarative note, similar to the final episode of Futurama, except that in this case Kim and Ron graduate from high school, and the story is not starting over. However, some have pushed for another season.
Is it any surprise that Kim Possible was nominated for Annie Awards, Primetime Emmy Awards, Kids’ Choice Awards, and Daytime Emmy Awards? In 2005, the series won a Daytime Emmy for “Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing,” specifically for live action and animation. Of course, awards aren’t everything, but the fact it was nominated for 15 awards between 2002 and 2008 says something about the series.
Even though Kim Possible ended over 14 years ago, it has staying power now and in the years to come. It can currently be watched on Disney+, where it is not in chronological order, or through DVDs of all four seasons which can be checked out from your local library.
Author: Burkely Hermann
Burkely is an indexer of declassified documents by day and a fan fic writer by night. He recently earned a MLIS with a concentration in Digital Curation from the University of Maryland. He currently voraciously watches animated series and reads too many webcomics to count on Webtoon. He loves swimming, hiking, and searching his family roots in his spare time.
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