|Premiere||May 13, 2007|
|Finale||July 20, 2014|
Superjail! is an animated series aired on Adult Swim, produced by Augenblick Studios in its first season, and by Titmouse, Inc. in its second, third, and fourth seasons. It follows the events that take place in an unusual prison. The pilot episode aired on television on May 13, 2007, and its first season began on September 28, 2008 on Adult Swim.
Superjail! is characterized by its psychedelic shifts in setting and plot and extreme graphic violence, which give the series a TV-MA-V rating (for graphic violence, including scenes of bloodshed, dismemberment, torture, and extreme cruelty). These elements are depicted through highly elaborate animated sequences, which have been described as "Baroque and complicated and hard to take in at a single viewing".
The show typically opens with petty criminal Jacknife commiting a crime, only to be foiled and captured by Jailbot. The opening sequence then plays with Jailbot transporting Jacknife to Superjail, all while the show's theme song plays in the background. Episodes feature a loose plot, which are eventually manipulated by The Twins. The episode then quickly breaks down into a psychodelic bloodbath, followed by an ironic or bizzare ending.
In the first season, each episode begins with a linear story revolving around an irresponsible scheme concocted by the Warden to satisfy some personal desire. The episode builds up in both violence and surrealism into a climactic, psychedelic blood bath during which dozens of inmates are brutally or gruesomely murdered, either by one another or some external force. Some episode plots have no resolutions at all, with the story simply stopping when events have reached their most chaotic. Regardless, the status quo is always restored by the next episode unless the episode is a multi-part one.
Beginning with the second season, the creators modified the format of the series to focus more on character development and story, as imagined by a revised writing staff. The second-season premiere "Best Friends Forever" demonstrated an immediate break from the first season's template, focusing the episode on Jailbot and Jacknife as opposed to the Warden, setting half of the episode outside of the prison, and lacking an extended murder sequence in the climax.
The third season of the show attempted to meld the formats of the first two seasons, continuing a focus on character development and ongoing storylines while reviving the technique of ending each episode with a complex murder sequence.
The show is set inside the titular Superjail. Superjail is a prison of ever-changing size, which rests atop a volcano. That volcano is itself found atop an even larger volcano. Reality and time in Superjail are fluid concepts, and seem to bend at The Warden's whim. Superjail is shown to have multiple areas, including a cafeteria, recreation yard, gym, a monorail system, and a large factory, splunking caves, and numerous other-dimensional areas.
The show was pre-dated by Bar Fight, a four minute long animation made by Christy Karacas and Stephen Warbrick. The animation was, in many ways, an extended version of one of Superjail!'s bloodbath endings.
After the first season ended, the show sat in limbo for nearly a year before [Adult Swim] announced its renewal. The show was stated to be writing scripts for a second season in November 2009. On July 24, 2010, Adult Swim announced via Twitter that Season 2's production had started, and would premiere in 2011. A third Season premiered in September 30 2012, it ended on December 9 2019, the fourth Season premiered on June 15, 2014, the finale episode of the fourth season & series ended on July 20, 2014.
- The Warden (voiced by David Wain) is the eccentric head of Superjail, The proprietor and warden of Superjail and the main character of the series. A tall, thin man clad in a purple tailcoat and top hat, gloves, red cummerbund, and yellow-tinted glasses, the Warden has been described as a "sadistic version of both the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland and Willy Wonka from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". Although he possesses an ever-cheerful and optimistic demeanor, he is a severely deranged and violent individual due to his upbringing by a strict father who was also a warden and he was taken by the social services. The Warden devised Superjail as a means for expressing himself and regularly endangers the lives of Superjail prisoners and staff, often intentionally, to satisfy some unusual whim. He has very little respect for human life, and one day wishes to incarcerate all of humanity within the Superjail, according to one episode depicting an alternate future where he conquers the entire world and transforms it into a single prison state. Rather than handling any actual administrative tasks, he spends most of his time lusting after chief guard Alice, a recurring gag poking fun at the Warden’s naivety regarding Alice’s biological sex, or indulging his own bizarre fantasies. The Warden also possesses magical abilities, such as the ability to shapeshift into virtually anything he can imagine, and the ability to control the laws of reality within Superjail. Though the Warden's name is never revealed, David Wain answered "Mark Davis" to a user on Reddit.
- Jared (voiced by Teddy Cohn) is Superjail's large-headed, long-moustached, the over-stressed uptight/high-strung accountant of Superjail and right-hand man for The Warden, Jared handles most of Superjail's administrative duties as well as extracurricular activities, such as the Superjail Newspaper. He was first taken to Superjail as a prisoner for unknowingly working for the mafia and got his job when he impressed the Warden with his intelligence and financial skills (An allusion to The Shawshank Redemption). He is in recovery for, according to the show's creators, every addiction possible, including alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, and compulsive eating. Periodically, Jared suffers relapses into his addictions, especially when he is stressed out or temptation proves to be too much for him. In the series finale, he was being forcibly brought to a mental asylum in North Dakota, but was released for good behavior.
- Alice (voiced by Christy Karacas) is the hulking, muscular head prison guard of Superjail, (S)he is a transgender head of security for Superjail, and regularly engages in sadomasochistic rituals with the prisoners (often without their consent), though she rebuffs the Warden's constant advances. She was originally a male guard at a normal prison, but discovered her true nature when she fell in love with that prison's homosexual warden. However, she was fired as a result of the warden's transphobia and was hired by the Warden shortly after. Alice doesn't seem to take hormone therapy, but does have breast implants and publicly considers herself a woman. It is apparent throughout the show that she has not undergone gender reassignment surgery. In the series finale, she was being forcibly brought to a freak show in Indiana.
- Jailbot is the mute, tombstone-shaped levitating and floating robot that the Warden created who performs numerous tasks throughout Superjail, Within his simplistic-looking body seems to be a limitless storage space, from which he can produce a vast arsenal of deadly weaponry and tools, as well as numerous telescoping arms. At the beginning of every episode Jailbot is tasked with capturing (and beating up) a criminal named Jackknife and bringing him to Superjail, often maiming or killing many innocent bystanders in the process. In the episode "Jailbot 2.0", the Warden claims that Jailbot single-handedly built the vast prison, but flashbacks suggest that Jailbot is really the latest in a series of similar robots. He is mute, with a dot matrix screen that displays a simple expressive face. Despite his ruthlessness, Jailbot also possesses a childlike personality, protecting the Warden from any harm and watching out for the welfare of young children who come across his path, however, he can be cold and ruthless to children who are mean to him; Christy Karacas described him as a "red headed stepchild... seeking approval." He has even shown compassion for Jacknife, such as releasing him in "Best Friends Forever".
- The Doctor (voiced by Christopher McCulloch), The resident physician of Superjail. He regularly experiments on the inmates in grotesque ways, and has a German accent, but at times says words in French. It was revealed in "Vacation" that he fought in World War II and was at one point a POW.
- Jacknife (voiced by Christy Karacas) is a common low-level criminal who appears in the openings of most episodes committing crimes who is seen being captured by (and beaten up) Jailbot and where his subsequent journey back to Superjail makes up the opening credits sequence, He is taken to Superjail in the opening of nearly every episode, only to escape during or after an episode's bloodbath, in the first season and periodically throughout seasons two and three. He never speaks and communicates only by way of animalistic grunts and shrieks. He is labeled by Jared to be Superjail's most vile inmate due to his upbringing and near lack of any form of morality. Jacknife is depicted as being short-tempered, violent, and misogynistic. During the events of Oedipus Mess, Jacknife is revealed to have sired a son with one of Ultra-Prison's inmates. Having recognized the child as his, Jacknife escaped while the Warden created 10,000 clones of Jacknife that run amok worldwide until all but the original are killed off. In the Season 3 premiere a female version of Jacknife causes chaos at a male strip club, and is later sent to UltraPrison, suggesting that Jacknife either has a sister or a wife.
- The Twins (both voiced by Richard Mathar) Two green-blooded, blonde, identical twin aliens with European-sounding accents who inhabit a laboratory underneath Superjail and wear outfits resembling those worn by the Sandmen in Logan's Run. They took a year abroad trip to Earth and then decided to stay much to their father's chagrin. Their on-screen appearances are accompanied by techno music. They have unexplained supernatural alien powers that spend most episodes meddling with The Warden's plans, The Twins use their alien powers—including teleportation, shrinking, and materializing various items to interfere with the Warden's plans for their amusement. Although their plots often result in mass death and destruction, the Twins do not appear to harbor any malice towards either the Warden or the prisoners.
- Gary and Bird – Gary is a silent, bespectacled man obviously based on Robert Franklin Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz. However, Gary is mostly a servant to Bird, a small female canary, who appears to be the unofficial "boss" of all of the prisoners in Superjail until Lord Stingray got imprisoned. In the episode Uh Oh, It's Magic, Gary uses his ventriloquism to throw his voice into the Warden's puppet Prison Peedee to stage a break-out. However, the plan is foiled prior to Gary's vocal cords being surgically removed and discarded.
- Paul Guaye and Jean Baptiste Le Ghei (portrayed by Christopher McCulloch, Stephen Warbrick) – Two homosexual inmates that can be seen in nearly every episode. They were the leaders of the rival "Purple Pythons" (Jean) and "Double Rainbow" (Paul) prison gangs in Superjail, which parodies the 1961 musical West Side Story. They fell in love as a result and eventually got married. Paul is depicted as being the more feminine of the couple and is somewhat controlling of Jean. Jean is more of the stereotypical male. Despite being violent criminals, the two of them are actually somewhat kind and caring towards others and are respected by the other inmates.
- Nicky (voiced by Christopher McCulloch), A soul-patched inmate with a New York accent. Seems to be a leader among the various inmates, in Season 1, he only appeared in "Superbar", later in Season 2 he becomes a recurring inmate in the later seasons.
- Turban (voiced by Christopher McCulloch), A Middle-Eastern inmate seen among the recurring batch, he wears shades, has a beard, he smokes cigarettes & is a stoner, he appeared in Season 1 but he was a background character that had no lines, however like Nicky he becomes a recurring inmate in later seasons starting with Season 2.
- Ash (voiced by Christopher McCulloch) – A severely burned pyrokinetic pyromaniac prisoner. His burns come from a fire caused by his father, a drunk, dropping a cigarette in a movie theater. Ash's personality is almost childlike.
- Fatty (voiced by Stephen Warbrick) – A bald, middle-aged, overweight inmate with a high-pitched voice and giggly/creepy personality, with an affinity for trying to show off his genitals, usually towards Gary. It is revealed in the episode "Superjail Grand Prix" that Fatty is a pedophile. Fatty is often killed during the murder scene or at some point in any episode he appears in, only to be inexplicably revived for the next episode.
- Lord Stingray (voiced by Eric Bauza) – A stereotypical supervillain character, akin to Cobra Commander, and the main antagonist of the show. After being defeated by his army-themed enemies, he crash-landed on Superjail Island and tried to take it over, but ended up being imprisoned. He has been a thorn in the Warden's side ever since by trying to either escape or take over Superjail. Lord Stingray first appears in the second season.
- The Mistress (voiced by Sally Donovan) – The female warden of Ultra-Prison (a women's prison). She had a brief one-night stand with the Warden while under the effects of Spanish fly. In the season 2 finale, she takes control of Superjail. She engaged in a relationship with Lord Stingray in the season 3 episode "Stingstress". However, after a night of intercourse with Alice, the Mistress returns Superjail to the Warden while she begins a new life-style as a hippie.
- Charise (voiced by Kamala Sankaram ("Ladies' Night") and Sally Donovan in "Vacation" and onwards) – part of the staff at Ultraprison, acting as both Mistress' personal assistant and her accountant. She is basically the counterpart to Jared.
- Bruce (voiced by Melissa Brown (Ladies' Night) and Chris McCulloch or Stephen Warbrick (Stingstress)) – the head guard at Ultraprison and part of the Mistress' staff. He is the opposite counterpart to Alice, and is thus also transgender.
- Nova (voiced by Sally Donovan) – the robot of UltraPrison. While she appears to be the female version of Jailbot, she is also a sleeker, refers to herself as 'newer model' than he is however since they both are custom built prototypes no one can be newer or older.
- Prisoner Peedee (voiced by Dana Snyder) – A live ventriloquist's dummy possessed by Gary's voice box. Originally, he was controlled by Gary and Bird, but his character has been somewhat changed to a foul-mouthed ghostly criminal with a mobster accent and a standard criminal inmate status. He shares a rivalry with Lord Stingray, but the two occasionally work together against the Warden and the other inmates.
In a Cold Hard Flash interview, creator Christy Karacas said influences for the show were Gary Panter, Robert Crumb, Sally Cruikshank, Mad, Vince Collins, Looney Tunes, Fleischer Studios, Tex Avery, Bob Clampett, School House Rock, Sesame Street, Itchy & Scratchy, kids' art, Muppets, outsider art, underground comics and Pee Wee's Playhouse.