"Captain Planet and the Planeteers" hit tv screens over two and a half decades ago, but the characters and their influence have stuck with the people who grew up with him. The show featured five young kids from around the world who received special rings from Gaia, the Spirit of the Earth, giving them the powers of Earth, Wind, Fire, Water and Heart. When those powers combined, they summoned Earth's greatest champion, Captain Planet!
The show would tackle issues related to the environment, crime and overpopulation and present them in a way kids could understand. The show went off the air in 1996, but many of the issues they discussed are still serious concerns in today's world. With that in mind, here are the top 15 "Captain Planet" episodes ever.
15 A HERO FOR EARTH
On September 15th, 1990, the world was introduced to "Captain Planet and the Planeteers," and a generation of environmentally conscious kids was born. Gaia, the Spirit of the Earth, wakes from a thousand-year slumber and finds that the Earth is in serious danger due to waves of pollution, overpopulation, and the uncaring generations of people who have greedily used the Earth for their own ends instead of protecting it.
She summons five young people from across the globe and sends them on their first mission, to stop Hoggish Greedly from drilling for oil in the ocean which causes a massive oil spill. They use the power rings that Gaia gave them and learn that when they combine their powers, they summon Earth's greatest champion, Captain Planet. Though the episode is almost 30 years old, the issues of oil spills contaminating water in the ocean is perhaps even more relevant now than ever.
14 THE CORAL KILLER
This episode deals with the destruction of aquatic wildlife and coral reefs from dynamite fishing in the Philippines. Hoggish Greedly introduces dynamite fishing to the natives on an island there under the guise of helping with their local food shortage. He doesn't tell them that the dynamite will also destroy their coral reef, which protects them from tidal waves. Greedly's plan is to steal the broken coral pieces to sell for cash.
The Planeteers arrive to put a stop to Greedly's plan before the islands are destroyed. The Planeteers find that Greedly is using an underwater submarine to collect the broken coral and they summon Captain Planet, who crashes the sub and uses his powers to start a new reef for the island. It's a start, but as one of the villagers laments, they will be very old before the reef is large enough to fully protect the island again.
13 GREENHOUSE PLANET
In the first episode of season three, the evil Doctor Barbara Blight becomes the President's science advisor, and deliberately misinforms him on greenhouse gasses so that the environment will suffer. She creates an ultra-powerful, but environmentally harmful rocket fuel and guarantees the President that it will get his rocket to Venus within hours.
The Planeteers arrive to try to stop Doctor Blight's plans, but her evil computer, MAL, enters the NASA computer system and sends Kwame, Ma-Ti and the President into space on the rocket ship, while Wheeler, Linka and Gi are arrested as suspects in the President's disappearance. When Captain Planet tries to return to the rings, he finds Kwame and Ma-Ti out of range, so he has to save the Planeteers without his powers. He uses Gaia's powers to contact the President and explain how global warming will destroy the environment and end the world. Kwame pilots the ship back to Earth and the President puts Doctor Blight under arrest.
12 THE GHOST OF PORKALOIN PAST
Hoggish Greedly inherits a mansion estate and fortune from his grandfather, Don Porkaloin, which Greedly uses to indulge in wasteful, environmentally-destructive projects, even though his grandfather invested his life and wealth in protecting the environment. The Planeteers arrive and work with Porkaloin's butler, Boris, to convince Greedly to spend his fortune on less wasteful habits.
The Planeteers hatch a plan to have Greedly visited by the "ghost" of Don Porkaloin, then they check into Greedly's hotel in disguise, including Captain Planet as a woman with a fruit bowl hat. The Planeteers are quickly caught, but the lady with the blue reflective skin is somehow not suspected. When they finally capture Greedly, Boris the Butler pulls off a mask to reveal that he was Don Porkaloin all along, and that Greedly can never have his estate. To top it off, Porkaloin hires Rigger to restore the grounds, so Greedly doesn't even have his faithful sidekick anymore.
11 TREE OF LIFE
In the ninth episode of the first season, "Tree of Life," Doctor Blight cuts down an ancient redwood tree that contains all the powers of the Earth. She creates a perfume from the sap of the tree, which gives her superpowers, making her powerful enough to go toe-to-toe with Captain Planet himself. Doctor Blight captures Captain Planet and traps him in a cell that she fills up with smog, but the Planeteers find her hideout and rescue him.
Captain Planet goes back to stop Doctor Blight from cutting down the forest and they battle again. She almost has Captain Planet beaten, but Wheeler steals her superpower perfume and sprays Captain Planet. With his powers restored, and Doctor Blight weakened, Captain Planet captures her and puts her to work replanting the trees in the forest that she cut down. As the rain continues to fall, the Tree of Life starts to grow again.
10 MISSION TO SAVE EARTH (PARTS 1 & 2)
"Mission to Save Earth" was the series' first two-part episode and the first major team-up of villains led by Doctor Blight. She hatches a plan with Verminous Skumm, Looten Plunder, Sly Sludge, and Duke Nukem (no, not that "Duke Nukem") to steal the Planeteers' rings and create evil alternate versions of them with the powers of Deforestation, Smog, Super Radiation, Toxics and Hate. By their evil powers combined, they create Captain Pollution, the evil version of Captain Planet.
The Planeteers work together to get their rings back and summon Captain Planet. He gets into an epic battle with Captain Pollution, but is injured and weakened in the fight. Commander Clash -- an ally to the Planeteers -- explains the dangers of pollution to an enemy army that the pollutant villains have amassed, inspiring them to throw down their weapons just in time for Captain Planet to return and save the day. He drags Captain Pollution through the elements of the Earth and forces him to surrender. The evil rings are destroyed and Commander Clash rallies the enemy soldiers to replant the forests they destroyed.
9 MISSING LINKA
While the Planeteers are responding to a toxic spill in a small town, Linka gives up her ring and goes home to her family after her grandmother falls deathly and mysteriously ill. The townspeople believe that the recycling plant near Linka's home is leaking toxins into the groundwater, which is causing people to get sick. When the townspeople destroy the recycling plant, Linka is trapped inside, but Wheeler comes to her rescue and together they use the powers of wind and fire to escape.
Linka says that she is going to stay in the Soviet Union with her family, and she rushes up to passionately kiss Wheeler. This is the first kiss between Wheeler and Linka in the series. The relationship had been hinted at throughout the series with mild flirtations, but never explicitly stated until this point. Linka's grandmother convinces her to go back to the Planeteers and help protect the world, because that is where she belongs.
8 THE GUINEA PIGS
Once again, Doctor Blight has hatched an evil scheme, this time focusing on animals instead of the environment. She sends groups of thieves to zoos, research labs and other places to steal animals, even taking Ma-Ti's pet monkey to use them for experimental animal testing for a makeup entrepreneur, Lori Saunders who is actually firmly against animal testing.
Gaia sends the Planeteers to Doctor Rice's lab where the animals were stolen and they discover glowing footprints that Linka and Gi recognize as one of Lori Saunders' makeup products leading them to believe she is involved. They go to confront her, but Saunders quickly explains she would never authorize such a thing and leads the Planeteers to her lab, where Doctor Blight is experimenting on animals. They summon Captain Planet who shuts down all the machines and frees the animals, locking Blight in her own animal restraints. Ma-Ti reunites with his monkey friend, and Lori shoots a new commercial announcing that all her products are 100% cruelty-free.
7 TWO FUTURES PART 1 & 2
Doctor Blight invents a time machine with Hoggish Greedly and decides that the best use of this incredible technology is to go back 50 years and burn all the coal and oil they can find to speed up global warming. Before they can go back, the Planeteers bust into Blight's ice cave hideout and try to stop them. Wheeler gets trapped in a cave-in with Blight and goes back in time to stop himself from becoming a Planeteer.
Gaia shows up to explain the consequences of his actions and sends him into the future to see what global warming has led to. New York City has flooded and his fellow Planeteers live in destruction and waste. He goes back to make sure he accepts the ring and returns to present day. Doctor Blight and Hoggish Greedly try to go back in time to stop the Planeteers from being born, but they summon Captain Planet who instead sends them into the future where the world has become a Utopia thanks to the people of today caring for the environment.
6 A GOOD BOMB IS HARD TO FIND
After creating another time machine, Doctor Blight pulls a future version of herself back to the present to team and go back in time to sell nuclear weapons to Hitler and the Nazis during World War II. Keep in mind, this show was intended for kids under seven years old. The Planeteers follow Blight's ship through a thunderstorm, but are brought down by a lightning strike in the jungle. The Planeteers wander the jungle and meet a villager who's lost her leg from WWII landmines that are still active today.
Meanwhile, the two Doctor Blights get a meeting with Hitler (who has a stylish handlebar mustache for some reason) and convince him to buy their bomb. Just as the deal is about to go through, the Planeteers find Blight's time machine, and show up to stop it. They summon Captain Planet, and although Hitler's amount of hate weakens him, Cap lifts the bomb into the sky where it detonates. They return to the future with the two Doctor Blights; thanks to their actions, the villager's leg is miraculously back. Gi responds with, "If we pay attention to the past, the future doesn't have to repeat itself."
5 A FORMULA FOR HATE
This episode is especially sad and serious for a show that tends to deal with issues in a cheesy way. It revolves around Todd Andrews, a high school basketball player (voiced by Neal Patrick Harris) who has been diagnosed as HIV-positive. Verminous Skrumm finds the basketball player's medical files and spreads rumors around town that the player has AIDS, turning his classmates and the entire town against him.
Todd runs away to hide in a shack on an island, believing that everyone, including his friends and family, will be disappointed with him. When he wakes up the next morning, he finds that his boat has disappeared, leaving him stranded. Captain Planet rescues Todd from the island and tells the angry townspeople that they've been listening to false rumors and gives a rousing speech on acceptance. Though the episode wraps up with a nice conclusion, real life prejudice is not so easily dispelled.
4 DIRTY POLITICS
In the near future, Doctor Barbara Blight Blight captures the Planeteers and steals their rings. With them out of the way, Blight and the other villains have somehow risen to a level in politics where they're each on the verge of becoming President of the United States. In order to get rid of the competition, Blight kidnaps the one decent candidate, Jane Green, but Blight's daughter goes back in time to rescue the Planeteers and prevent her mother from winning the presidency.
The Planeteers and Blight's daughter find and rescue their future selves. They summon Captain Planet and he busts through Greedly's hotel to stop several shady political deals. The Planeteers rush off to stop Blight, but the polls have already closed. Luckily, 74% of the voters have written in "None of the Above," and a new election is required. We could learn a lot from "Captain Planet and the Planeteers."
3 HEAT WAVE
In the season one finale, Doctor Blight returns to kidnap Linka and encase Hope Island in a force field. Blight pumps greenhouse gasses into Hope Island to create localized global warming on the island to stop Gaia and the Planeteers from interfering with their plot to pollute the world. Kwame, Wheeler, Gi and Ma-Ti have to work together to save Linka and Stop Doctor Blight before Gaia and Hope Island are destroyed.
It's not surprising that they would choose to close out the first season with a story that displays the effects of global warming and how it harms the Earth. As Hope Island gets hotter, Gaia, the Spirit of the Earth, gets weaker and loses her powers. When Doctor Blight opens a part of the forcefield to let in a giant iceberg that will melt and raise the sea level around Hope Island, the Planeteers escape through the opening and rescue Linka. Together, they summon Captain Planet, who destroys the force field and creates a giant wave that sends Blight and her barge tumbling into the ocean.
2 A PERFECT WORLD
When Dr. Derek, a brilliant environmental scientist creates a computer simulation of a world where all pollution is easily taken care of by technology, Doctor Blight arrives to destroy everything. She has her computer, MAL, infect the computer system with a virus, which causes the simulated habitat to begin to deteriorate from the uncleaned pollution. Wheeler and Linka are trapped together in a smog-filled dome, while Kwame and Ma-Ti enter the computer system to try to destroy the virus.
While Wheeler and Linka try to survive in the smog-filled room, Linka is about to confess that she has feelings for Wheeler before a coughing fit overtakes her. Meanwhile, in the computer world, Ma-Ti learns that he can create electromagnetic fields with his heart ring and Kwame can dissolve them. They use their powers to break the security system and free Wheeler and Linka. The Planeteers summon Captain Planet and he saves Kwame and Ma-Ti from the computer virus.
1 OK AT THE GUNFIGHT CORRAL
The Planeteers are watching a news report explaining that the Grand Canyon is full of trash and toxic sludge, which Gaia tells them has been happening for years. Wheeler asks how it's possible that no one ever noticed people polluting the Grand Canyon, and Gaia determines that Hoggish Greedly, Sly Sludge and Rigger have used a time machine to go back to the American old west and purchase the Grand Canyon.
The Planeteers find the time machine and go back to confront Greedly, Sludge and Rigger, and learn that they've been buying up land all around to turn into dumping grounds. When Wheeler exposes that Greedly is cheating in a poker game for the deed to the Canyon, Greedly steals Wheeler's ring, which he uses to burn down the general store. Wheeler challenges Greedly to a gunfight, but they give him a gun without bullets. Wheeler spins the gun and it flies off his finger and knocks his ring out of Greedly's hand. He snatches it up and the Planeteers summon Captain Planet who captures the polluters and locks them up in the town jailhouse.
What was your favorite episode of Captain Planet? Let us know in the comments!