Some may have fond memories of booting up an old console like the Super Nintendo or the Sega Genesis and playing Earthworm Jim, an action platformer game developed by Shiny Entertainment and published by Interplay. The game featured Jim, an earthworm given super strength, intelligence, and a litany of high-tech gadgets thanks to a robotic super-suit falling on top of him. Players used Jim’s ray gun and head-whipping skills to jump around and blast enemies through several intergalactic levels.
Lovers of Saturday morning cartoons may have even remembered the animated spin-off to the games, featuring Dan Castellaneta as Jim and bringing along lovable sidekicks such as Peter Puppy (Jeff Bennett) and Snot. In this series, Jim faces his eccentric rogues’ gallery, often attempting to save Princess What’s-Her-Name (Kath Soucie) despite her not asking to be rescued. Along the way, Jim’s villains such as Evil The Cat (Edward Hibbert), Professor Monkey-For-A-Head (Charlie Adler), Psy-Crow (Jim Cummings), and Queen Slug-For-A-Butt (Andrea Martin) attempt to swipe his super-suit for their own plans of universal domination.
Beginning in 1995, the show ran for two seasons. However, Jim appears to still have some pull, as Interplay and APA have released an “interview” with the character to tease their new animated series for Earthworm Jim. Our hero has a new art direction and voice actor, as well as what looks like some new friends too. Before we get too hyped up about the reboot, however, it doesn’t hurt to look back at some of the best episodes of Jim’s cartoon adventures.
7. “Hyper Psy-Crow”
The episode opens with a not-too-subtle homage to Seinfeld, where Jim attempts to try out his stand-up routine before an unimpressed audience. Jim gets upset, pointing his ray gun and shouts at the audience, who suddenly erupt into applause and laughter. This is, for sure, an odd opening to the episode, but many episodes of Earthworm Jim begin with something of a cold open.
In “Hyper Psy-Crow,” one of Jim’s most notable villains develops a little bit of a caffeine addiction, which is something that more than a few adult viewers can relate to. After drinking a particularly strong espresso, Psy-Crow becomes hyperactive and gains new abilities. Jim must stop his rampage with the help of the first superhero, a grumpy codger named Puce Dynamo who refuses to retire.
Psy-Crow’s desire to avoid a caffeine crash energizes him even more, eventually resulting in him clashing with Jim, who has been supercharged with “relaxed energy.” Their clash creates a massive explosion, destroying the universe and leading the two to meet series creator Doug TenNapel putting on his best imitation of Christopher Walken.
6. “The Great Secret of the Universe”
Did anybody expect this animated spin-off of a video game to have an episode referencing Citizen Kane?
The episode follows Evil The Cat, who receives a key that is capable of unlocking a snow globe containing a creature known as The Nameless Beast. This beast allegedly knows the secret of the entire universe, yet oddly enough, this snowglobe is nestled on a designated snowglobe shelf in Jim’s house. After several unsuccessful deception attempts in different costumes, Evil The Cat manages to steal the beast’s snowglobe by simply kicking in the door and ordering Jim to hand it over. Jim, thinking Evil is using reverse psychology, gives him the globe.
The Nameless Beast emerges, but instead of attacking, it wants to explain (all while being voiced by Ben Stein) its name is Rosebud. Evil tells the beast to destroy Jim and Peter Puppy, who lackadaisically says “if you’ve got the key, you’re the boss.” However, the beast continues to get sidetracked with anecdotal stories about its own life.
As Evil and the beast head to the edge of the universe to destroy it, Jim and Peter give chase. Jim can’t seem to defeat the indestructible Rosebud, leaving things seemingly hopeless. However, Jim asks why Rosebud has to take orders from the bearer of the key, leading Rosebud to question his life. He decides to chart a new path in life for himself, eventually becoming a rambling waiter at the local restaurant in Jim’s town of Terlawk.
5. “Bring Me the Head of Earthworm Jim”
This episode is framed as Psy-Crow and Professor Monkey-For-A-Head reveling in their victory, having finally captured and defeated Jim and mounting his head on a fireplace plaque.
In a flashback, Psy-Crow and the Professor are significantly frustrated with not being able to defeat Jim due to his super-suit and devise a way to steal it. Using a “Stink Ray,” the Professor forces Jim to take his rancid super-suit to a spaceship dry cleaner. The villains then swap the suit with a weak duplicate and Psy-Crow attacks Jim and Peter in the real suit.
Fortunately, Peter’s ability to transform into a hulking monster (when he’s scared or hurt) kicks in and he begins gnawing on Psy-Crow, allowing the two to escape. Now powerless, Jim tries a wide range of “origin stories” found in Peter’s comic books to gain super powers. Jim and Peter gain temporary powers from flying into a cosmic storm, but when they shake hands their powers are negated, leading them back to square one. In desperation, Jim even pleads to the audience to believe and clap for him to gain super powers, but to no avail. At the local restaurant in Terlawk, Psy-Crow and the Professor threaten The Rulers of the Universe. Jim attempts to give himself up to save the universe, but the villains point out that they could simply capture Jim and destroy the universe. Jim is captured, and the episode flashes forward again.
Psy-Crow and the Professor argue over the custody of the super-suit, and Jim retrieves the suit while it’s unoccupied. He reveals the taxidermist that “mounted” him to the plaque was Peter in disguise, before beating the villains and sitting down for a date with Princess-What’s-Her-Name at the restaurant, where the villains’ heads are now mounted on the wall.
4. “Sword of Righteousness”
What does it take to be a hero? In this episode, Jim attempts to go the distance to find out.
While attempting to eat a vending machine sandwich that is hundreds of years past its freshness date, Jim discovers a magical sword known as The Sword of Righteousness. The sword sets out to mold Jim into the greatest hero of all time. Over the sword’s “training,” Jim unsuccessfully manages to compel secrets from Peter with a stare, does the sword’s chores, and opens a hole into the 1800s. While in the past, Jim shaves Abraham Lincoln’s beard, changing the course of history and turning Peter into an antiquated southerner.
On a planet of easily-scared people, Psy-Crow finds an item known as the Orb of Remarkable Power, manifesting anything the user can think of. Psy-Crow heads back to Earth to defeat Jim, now clad in Viking garb. Jim steals the orb, but the sword tells him to give it back because that “isn’t how a hero fights.” The sword continues to give Jim instructions, leading to him getting pulverized.
Jim finally decides to handle things “the Earthworm Jim way,” dislodging the orb from Psy-Crow’s hand (it had been glued on after the first time it was lost) and defeating him soundly.
This is the pilot episode for Earthworm Jim, following Jim’s attempt to rescue Princess What’s-Her-Name while cycling through sidekicks.
Because of Peter’s tendency to turn into a monster at the worst times, Jim attempts to find a new sidekick. At an emporium called the Hero Hutch, Jim recruits sidekicks such as “A Shadow,” “Whoopee Cushion Man,” and “Captain Cabbage” while Peter devises a way to get his job back. Meanwhile, the Princess has effectively freed herself multiple times but is captured again by a giant “exCrowskeleton” created by Psy-Crow.
Jim races to a dangerous planet with his latest sidekick, Turns-His-Eyelids-Inside-Out Boy, and confronts Psy-Crow at the Evil Tower Hotel. Jim’s sidekick is quickly beaten by Psy-Crow, leaving Jim at a disadvantage. Fortunately, Peter arrives on the planet and transforms, saving our heroes, even if the Princess had freed herself again by the end of the battle.
2. “The Conquerer Worm”
Every superhero needs an evil twin, and this episode creates the Bizarro to Jim’s Superman.
While showing a fellow hero (The Hamsternator) the Terlawk Mall, Jim is shoved into a photocopier. The copier creates an unflattering paper copy of Jim, which transforms into Evil Jim. As Jim nurses a hangover from eating too much frozen yogurt, he sees on TV that a villain that looks like him is stealing condiments from local food joints and sets out to stop them. Before he can succeed, Jim is jailed after he is mistaken for a villain.
Evil Jim continues to wreak havoc, destroying armies and ripping the rotunda off of the Capitol Building. Peter attempts to bust Jim out of prison, but Jim uses his worm abilities beforehand to burrow out of prison, though he emerges at a missile test site and a lion’s den first. Jim and Peter reach a nearby research facility, where Jim is able to reclaim his super-suit. Evil Jim takes Peter and Snot hostage, and Jim is forced to surrender. After a quick homage to James Bond (“No, Mr. Jim, I expect you to fry”), Evil Jim heads to the Terlawk Mall to destroy “what [Jim] loves most of all.”
Peter uses Jim as a whip, allowing the heroes to escape. The group race to the Terlawk Mall, where Jim and Evil Jim engage in symmetrical violence. Even Peter’s transformation can’t seem to defeat Evil Jim. In a desperate bid to win, Jim uses the frozen yogurt machine in the mall to give Evil Jim a brain freeze, finally defeating his doppelganger and clearing his name.
1. “Day of the Fish”
At the Galactic Hero Headquarters, Jim is playing a card game with Princess What’s-Her-Name, Turns-His-Eyelids-Inside-Out Boy, and The Hamsternator. The group runs out of sugar for their cappuccino, and Jim heads to a nearby planet to borrow some. He is met by Bob, a homicidal fish that talks like a fire-and-brimstone preacher and loves to eat worms. Bob is attempting to lead his fish “minions” to conquer the universe, but they’re normal fish who don’t possess the intelligence to do so.
Unfortunately, Jim appears on the planet and Bob has him captured by his buff (and numbered) cat bodyguards. Bob then steals the super-suit and rockets off to Earth, leaving Jim to be prepared for dinner. Jim tricks one of the cat bodyguards into blowing himself up and escapes, finding his Pocket Rocket and heading back to Earth. When Jim arrives, Bob’s dental-themed spaceship is chomping away at Terlawk’s aquarium. Jim knocks Bob and the suit into a water tank with the Pocket Rocket but then discovers a whale has taken over the super-suit.
In order to get his suit back, Jim heads to a nearby college where he receives a PhD in “Aquatic Mammal Language.” Jim remarks, “I’m proud to live in a country where anyone, regardless of species, can buy a college degree.” Returning to speak with the whale, it offers to trade Jim’s suit back for his autograph.
Jim battles Bob’s spaceship as the villain sits helpless in a cup of soda, burping while shouting out orders to his minions. As the battle turns against Bob, he and his remaining bodyguards retreat back to Bob’s home planet. Jim returns to the Galactic Headquarters, where Princess What’s-Her-Name asks “so where’s the sugar?”
The satire is ratcheted up significantly in this particular episode, making it the greatest episode not only due to its humor but because it perfectly encapsulates the tongue-in-cheek brand of Earthworm Jim. New viewers who watch “Day of the Fish” can immediately grasp what the show is about as well as its tone, making it an exceptional standalone episode even if viewers aren’t keen on checking out the whole series.