“Danny Phantom” was a Nickelodeon animated series created by Butch Hartman. Originally airing from 2004 to 2007, the show featured the supernatural exploits of a teenaged boy named Danny Fenton. When Danny Fenton accidentally activates a ghost portal invented by his parents, he becomes half-ghost. With the help of his best friends Sam and Tucker, Danny secretly uses his newfound ghost powers to become the superhero Danny Phantom and protect the city of Amity Park from ghosts.
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Today, the show is still fondly remembered by fans and by its original creator. On February 21, 2017, Hartman premiered a short cartoon on Nickelodeon in which the characters of “Danny Phantom” meet the characters of Hartman’s other shows. To celebrate the first Danny Phantom animation in 10 years, here are the 15 best Danny Phantom episodes.
15. MEMORY BLANK
Be careful what you wish for or you’ll create an alternate world! After a fight with Danny, Sam wishes that she never met him. Unfortunately, this wish is overheard by the evil genie ghost Desiree, who has been granting wishes in order to become more powerful. As a result of Desiree granting the wish, Sam lives in a world where Danny never met her and never got his ghost powers. Once Sam realizes what happened, she must recreate the events that led to Danny getting his powers in order to save Amity Park from Desiree and three female ghosts she brought to life.
This episode was special because we get to see exactly how Danny ended up getting his ghost powers. The show’s intro sequence made it seem like Danny wandered into the ghost portal on his own, but it actually turned out to be Sam who convinced him to take a look at the portal. This is also the episode where Danny gets a cool new logo made by Sam for his Danny Phantom uniform.
14. THE ULTIMATE ENEMY
While preparing for the standardized C.A.T. tests that will determine his future, Danny gets paid a visit from ghosts that turn out to be from his own future. Danny discovers that after cheating on the C.A.T. test and suffering the horrible deaths of his family and friends, he would eventually become a powerful evil ghost named Dan Phantom that terrorizes the world. With the help of a time-ghost named Clockwork, he tries to keep this future from coming to pass while his evil self tries to ensure that it does.
At some point in their lives, every teenager worries about his future. For Danny Fenton, a future where he turns evil is the worst possible outcome. This episode shows how an evil Danny would impact not only Danny and his loved ones, but also Danny’s ghost enemies and the ghost zone they live in. It does a great job of showing Danny’s potential for evil and showing how powerful and ruthless he could become.
13. BITTER REUNIONS
Danny’s family goes to a college reunion hosted by Vlad Masters, an old friend of Danny’s father, Jack. Unbeknownst to them, Vlad is plotting to get revenge on Danny’s father for two reasons. The first reason is that he wants to steal Danny’s mother Maddie away from Jack. The second reason is that, years ago, Jack caused an accident that infected Vlad with ghost ectoplasm, giving him ghost powers.
As an introduction to a character who would become Danny’s greatest archenemy besides his future self, this episode did very well. It established Vlad Masters and his alter ego, Vlad Plasmius, and showed off how cunning and obsessive he was. He is shown pretending to like Jack in order to further his own personal goals and fooling everyone as this friendly rich billionaire. He is shown to be a complex villain, because he tries to get Danny over to his side after discovering the boy is half-ghost, and Danny is the product of everything Vlad never got.
12. PHANTOM PLANET
After a battle with Danny, Vlad comes up with a plot to get him to go into hiding for good. He creates a new teenaged team of ghost hunters called the Masters Blasters, who prove to be so effective at catching ghosts that Danny thinks he is no longer needed. As a result, he activates his family’s now partially deconstructed ghost portal, which takes away his ghost powers and leaves a white streak in his hair. Meanwhile, scientists have discovered an enormous asteroid heading toward the earth and must come up with a way to destroy it.
This hour-long episode served as the series finale for the show. It not only put a twist on the typical superhero story, but it also wrapped up Danny’s ongoing rivalry with Vlad and Danny’s ongoing romantic tension with Sam. This episode showed how much Danny Phantom means to Amity Park, the world and the ghost zone.
11. SHADES OF GREY
Danny Phantom chases down a ghost dog named Cujo only to find it has wrecked Axion Lab. Unfortunately, this impacts Danny’s popular classmate Valerie Grey, whose dad gets fired from Axion Lab. She and her dad move into a cheaper apartment, but the ghost dog manages to escape from the ghost zone and wreck the place. This forces Valerie to sell her tickets to a concert to get by and the popular crowd shuns her. After running into Danny Phantom and the ghost dog again at school, Valerie goes home and finds a mysterious package containing ghost hunting gear. Donning the gear, she decides to become a ghost hunter to take revenge on Danny Phantom and the dog for ruining her life.
Having ghostly archenemies is one thing, but having human ones adds complexity to Danny Phantom’s story. Valerie becomes the only character in the show to hate not only Danny himself, but also ghosts in general. This episode begins with Danny and Valerie’s ongoing rivalry, which represents the “shades of grey” that the episode is named for. Also, since the ghost-hunting gear was unknowingly given to her by Vlad Masters, it also show how far he is wiling to make Danny’s life miserable.
10. PUBLIC ENEMIES
Walker, a warden in charge of a prison of ghosts in the ghost zone, devises a plan to recapture Danny, who escaped from the prison in a previous episode. He makes a deal with a ghostly werewolf convict named Wulf, telling him that if he captures Danny, he will grant him his freedom. At the same time, Warden leads a mass invasion of Amity Park in order to make Danny Phantom public ghost enemy number one. Danny must team up with Wulf in order to stop the invasion and defeat Warden without getting recaptured.
This may be one of the few episodes where the bad guy’s plan actually works. Although Danny manages to defeat Walker, everyone still manages to think that the ghost invasion is his fault. This includes Danny’s own ghost hunter parents who have no clue that he is half-ghost. This is great character progression for Danny as a hero because now he will have to earn their trust back. Furthermore, Wulf ends up becoming a unique and valuable ghost ally that would team up Danny again much later.
9. REIGN STORM
Vlad Plasmius is searching for the Ring of Rage and the Crown of Fire, ancient artifacts that once belonged to Pariah Dark, the King of Ghosts and the most powerful ghost in the ghost zone. He finds the Ring of Rage, but ends up awakening Pariah Dark from his sarcophagus when he goes for the Crown. Now, Danny Phantom must work together with Vlad and the other ghosts in order to stop Pariah Dark from taking over the ghost zone and the earth.
Serving as the first hour-long special of Danny Phantom, this two-parter causes a storm literally and figuratively. Danny’s life is thrown into chaos with Pariah Dark invading the earth, but he also manages to get closer to Valerie and has to deal with Vlad manipulating him, Valerie and Pariah Dark’s faithful servant Fright Knight. A turning point for Danny comes in this episode, when he wins the approval of Amity Park after saving them and corrects their mis-naming of him.
8. FLIRTING WITH DISASTER
While battling an electronics technology ghost named Technus, Danny gets distracted when Valerie gets hurt a little. This allows Technus to escape into Valerie’s cell phone, where he overhears Valerie and Danny talking. The gears in Technus’ head start whirring when he decides to take advantage of Valerie and Danny’s feelings. When Casper High takes a field trip to Axion Lab, Technus overhears Tucker discussing their main computer, the latter of which has the power to take over every computer in the world via satellite. Technus decides to keep Danny busy with Valerie so that he doesn’t interfere with his plan to use the main computer to take over the world.
For viewers who have been following the romantic tension between Danny and Sam, seeing Danny unwittingly become a part of a love triangle between him, Valerie, and Sam is amusing. On top of that, you have Technus, who is so aware of Sam’s feelings for Danny that he tries to give Danny a hint. The fact that Technus is a villian who wants to take over the world’s technology and yet is so entertained by a teen love triangle is really fun to watch.
7. KINDRED SPIRITS
Danny meets a 12-year-old girl named Danielle, who introduces herself as Danny’s cousin. Suspicious of Danielle, Danny goes to look for her when she leaves his house and finds out she is half ghost just like him. Over the next few days, Danielle evades Danny’s questions and fights ghosts with him until they run into Vlad. Danielle then knocks Danny unconscious and reveals that she was a ploy to help her daddy Vlad. However, Danielle must soon decide where her true loyalties lie when she learns the true purpose of Vlad’s schemes.
As stated earlier, Danny represents the love and family that Vlad always wanted but never got. On the other hand, Danielle is the physical representation of Vlad’s life right now, an imperfect thing he literally made himself. Not only does this add depth to Danielle’s character that some viewers might catch, but it also makes Danielle and Danny kindred spirits in more ways than one.
6. EYE FOR AN EYE
Danny starts playing pranks on Vlad in order to get back at him, but he ends up pushing the villain too far. Vlad uses his his influence and ghost powers to become the mayor of Amity Park and then ruins Danny’s teenage life by enforcing strict rules and taking over the popular teen hangout, Nasty Burger. On top of that, he convinces the town that Danny Phantom’s presence will only increase ghost attacks. Now, Danny must endure Vlad’s reign and figure out a way to turn Vlad’s scheme against him.
When it comes to the episodes featuring Vlad Masters up to no good, this is the best one. Vlad not only managed to get the public on his side by becoming mayor and blaming Danny Phantom for ghosts, but he also managed to make Danny Fenton’s life miserable too. With this episode, Vlad proved to be a worthy adversary for Danny to go up against because his intelligence and manipulation are at their peak.
5. THE FRIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
Danny is the Christmas Grinch because he hates that his parents fight over the existence of Santa Claus every year. While blowing off steam in the ghost zone, he accidentally fires a ghost ray into the lair of a literal ghost writer and destroys the Christmas poem the writer had been working on. After seeing that Danny doesn’t feel bad about his action, The Ghost Writer traps Danny in a new Christmas poem to teach Danny about the spirit of Christmas.
You’d think it would be impossible for a show centered on ghosts to be able to do a Christmas episode, but this proves viewers wrong. It tells a touching, original Christmas story while cleverly riffing on classic Christmas tales such as “The Night Before Christmas” and “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.” Having everyone speaking in rhyme is also used smartly in this episode as a source of amusement for The Ghost Writer and a loophole for Danny.
4. GIRLS’ NIGHT OUT
After fighting with their boyfriends, three female ghosts (Spectra, Kitty and Ember) use their collective power to get rid of all the men in Amity Park. Luckily for Danny, he is out with his father on a father-son fishing trip when the ghost ladies’ spell occurs. However, this means that Maddie, Jazz, and Sam will have to join forces to defeat Spectra, Kitty, and Ember, and save the men of Amity Park.
This episode could’ve gone on a cheesy feminist route and had Maddie, Jazz, and Sam gloating about how their ghost-hunting skills are superior to Danny and Jack’s. Given that this would’ve been exactly what the ghost ladies’ wanted, things would’ve been bad. Luckily, the human ladies manage to take advantage of the ghost ladies’ attitudes in order to defeat them. All the while, both Danny and Jack are shown to be competent ghost hunters when Danny repeatedly fights Skulker without revealing his secret and Jack rescues Danny from a giant lake monster.
3. FANNING THE FLAMES
A new rock singer named Ember McLain is popular among Danny’s peers. However, Danny soon discovers that Ember is actually a siren-like ghost that uses her musical powers to make people love her and make herself stronger. Thanks to Danny’s ghosts powers and Sam wearing ghost-noise filtering headphones, the two are the only ones unaffected. Now, the two must figure out a way to break Ember’s spell before she takes it worldwide and becomes too powerful to stop.
Not only is Ember a cool ghost to look at and watch, but also she is the only ghost in the series to have her own theme song. You only hear the chorus in the episode, but the full version is available to listen to online. Through Ember, the episode provides an interesting view on music and teenagers. The episode would also serve to begin the romantic tension between Danny and Sam that would continue for the rest of the series.
2. BEAUTY MARKED
Sam enters a beauty pageant in order to prove how shallow the events are. Danny is inadvertently chosen by a judge for the pageant by its host, Dora Mattingly, and girls kiss up to him as a result. However, Sam notices Dora’s eyes glow strangely when Danny accidentally steps on her foot. Soon, Dora is revealed to be Dora the Ghost Dragon and the pageant was a way for her to find a bride for her brother, Prince Aragon. There will be wedding bells in Sam’s future unless she, Danny, and Tucker can defeat Aragon and Dora.
Putting a twist on beauty pageants, the damsel in distress and medieval stories, this episode was lots of fun for Sam as a character. Her goth, blunt persona makes it hilarious to see her become the destined princess of Prince Aragon. She completely destroys the image of what a princess and beauty queen should be, swinging from chandeliers, putting a gothic twist on her princess dress, and helping Dora overcome mistreatment by her brother.
1. SECRET WEAPONS
After learning Danny’s secret, Jazz becomes a member of “Team Phantom” and tries really hard to fit in with Sam, Danny and Tucker as a ghost hunter. When she ends up doing more harm than good, Danny gets so angry at her that he drives her away. Distraught and hurt, Jazz ends up finding solace in Vlad Masters, who decides to manipulate her to get at Danny.
As one of a few brother-sister centric episodes, this episode shows Jazz’s first attempts at becoming a part of Danny’s world. Since she is an over-achieving character and protective of Danny, this attitude carries over onto her ghost hunting and causes her to mess Danny up. This episodes demonstrates that Jazz is better at ghost hunting when she doesn’t worry about Danny too much. At the same time, her bond with her brother allows the two of them to work together and get out of sticky situations.
Which episodes of “Danny Phantom” are your favorites? Be sure to tell us in the comments!
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