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Johnny Bravo: Cartoon Network's Cassanova

Ah, February…love is in the air… It’s a time for handing out chocolates, flowers, and cards…and excessive, EXCESSIVE smooching. It’s absolutely wonderful. What better way to bring in this sexy time of year than a look back at a series that’s all about love? (Sort of)

So grab your swanky shades and vat of hair gel.

We’re gonna hit a homer today!

This is an Animation for Adults exclusive Valentine’s Day retrospective of Johnny Bravo.


Johnny Bravo and his creator, Van Partible (1996)

Created by then-student animator Van Partible, Johnny Bravo is an award-winning series that first aired on Cartoon Network in 1995 as part of the What a Cartoon! lineup, alongside other hits like Dexter’s Laboratory, Powerpuff Girls, and Courage the Cowardly Dog. Animation legends like Seth McFarlane (Family Guy), Butch Hartman (Danny Phantom, Fairly Odd Parents), and Genndy Tartakovsky (Samurai Jack) all worked with Partible on the series. So you can see what kind of genius we’re dealing with here.

You all know and love the story. Johnny Bravo, the show’s titular character, is a big, dumb, blonde beefcake who is obsessed with landing a hot chick. On his insane adventures, he tries to pick up beautiful women but fails miserably, resulting in some rip-roaring slapstick and hilarious violence. What could’ve easily been a boring, repetitive story is instead a clever animated series with brilliant voice acting and some freaking awesome animation (paying homage to classic shows by Hannah-Barbera).


A show is only as good as its protagonist, and Johnny Bravo himself is a fun, energetic, bizarre character. He’s a tall, well-muscled fusion of James Dean and Fonzie who wears dark sunglasses and tight clothes and speaks in an Elvis Presley-type voice. He’s smooth and stylish, but also awkward and unbelievably clumsy. He isn’t very smart, but he thinks he’s king of the universe.

What makes Johnny especially funny is how unrealistic the outcome of his episodic adventures can be. Fans of the show know that, despite all his efforts, he can never, EVER land himself Miss Cutie Pants. In fact, the women on the show are more than eager to smash, punch, or dominate this self-proclaimed Mister of the Universe. We all know that wouldn’t fly in real life.

Come on, ladies. Name one man on your list of Hollywood crushes who doesn’t look, sound, or act like Johnny Bravo. Sure, the quiet type might be great, but we all want a Bravo man in our lives, don’t we?

They might be big and bossy, but they do know how to make that expensive dress feel worth it.


Jeff Bennett provides the voice of Johnny Bravo

Actor Jeff Bennett is the genius behind the studley Johnny, and the veteran voice actor has continued to receive praise for his performance long after the show’s wrap up. Bennett’s spitfire, swanky dialogue is sexy and charming, and his sense of comedic timing is off-the-wall…and I mean that in the best possible way. He might have voiced hundreds of characters after Johnny Bravo, but Bennett has practically immortalized his name because of this cartoon alone. If you don’t believe me, just watch his performance at a comic con. You’d swear you were watching a rock concert.

As the main character, Johnny Bravo does run the show, but we can’t forget the secondary and supporting cast, which is just as funny as the protagonist himself. Bunny Bravo (voiced by Brenda Vaccaro), Johnny’s hyperactive mother, is a wonderful role model and advisor to her narcissistic son. Eccentric genius Carl (voiced by Tom Kenny) can be a bit annoying at times, but his bizarre monologues do result in some hilarious rebuttals from Johnny. While Little Suzy (voiced by Mae Whitman) is a cute little girl, she is another funny counterpart to Johnny: she’s the one girl in the entire series who actually likes him for who he is.


So what do I really think about Johnny Bravo?

As a kid, this show was one of those underground smash hits that are known for dirty humor, much like Animaniacs or the highly-controversial Cow and Chicken. Oh yeah…Johnny Bravo is still regarded as a show that targets kids and their parents, no strings attached.

Our main character refers to his female targets as “hot, sexy mama” and makes references to “going home” and “hitting a homer.” He even runs into a “mistress of the night.” Yeah…you figure that one out.

But you know what? Like I said in my article on Animaniacs, kids absolutely love that. When I was a child, dirty humor was the norm. If done right, adult jokes can add depth and maturity to a show. And that’s exactly what was done with Johnny Bravo.

Now, I’m not going to act like the show was perfect, because it wasn’t. There were times when episodes would needlessly drag on. And I did find myself getting frustrated when Johnny was beaten by women too many times. References to pop culture do work, but the presence of celebrities like Adam West and Donny Osmond are…well…kind of weird.

As a whole, though, the show is still hilarious and totally fun. I love the main character so much that I am willing to overlook some of the aforementioned flaws. Boys might have gotten a free lesson in love from watching this cartoon, but we ladies learned something even more important.

Sometimes, you need a little Johnny to spice up your life.

Much like this show, he’s not perfect, but he makes you feel like a real lady.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Johnny Bravo is available on DVD.