With the shocking, action-packed, and twisted finale of Total Drama: Revenge of the Island, this feels like as good a time as any to do an effective review of one of the biggest issues that has faced the Total Drama series since the very beginning. We’ll be taking a look back at the past season from Total Drama Island to Total Drama World Tour. You can consider this an editorial of sorts, perhaps even a political commentary-style article. This is going to be highly opinionated, but I feel that the stance presented here is one that all will agree with, and the sentiment expressed is one that all shall feel. It may seem boring at first due to mostly summarizing the last four seasons, but it gets better towards the end. This just might be my longest blog ever, so hold onto your butts.
Being an animated show, one of the advantages that the creators had was that they could do things to/with these characters that a real show could do. These characters could go through a life-threatening challenge or a serious injury, even on the verge of death, and even die, and still survive. The joy of animation.
Total Drama Island was indeed quite heavy on this. Let’s take a look at some of the earliest disasters that befell some of the campers, shall we?
Paintball Deer Hunter: An episode full of intense drama and heated confrontations, culminating in Beth and Heather's feud and Beth’s departure from Heather's alliance. Thus, when the Screaming Gophers lost the challenge, it initially seemed that Beth would go. However, underdog Cody ended up being completely mauled by a bear. He was placed in a full body cast and a wheelchair, and was eliminated that night due to no longer being useful in challenges. Although his injuries were quite serious, he recovered in 13 episodes, by the time Haute Camp-ture rolled around. He was out of the casts, out of the wheelchair, walking and talking again, without even a sign of his past injuries.
X-Treme Torture: A classic episode that defined two things about Total Drama; its extreme edginess and borderline adult content (Heather’s breasts being exposed), and its knack for pushing the contestants over the edge with extreme challenges. One such moment was the first part of the challenge, in which Trent and DJ had to skydive out of an Airplane and land on a sofa. We all remember that moment when DJ, attempting to give Trent a reassuring pat on the back, accidentally pushed him out of the plane. Trent, out of pure panic, failed to deploy his parachute and slammed into the earth’s crust. He was placed in a full body cast, but miraculously recovered by the next episode.
Wawanakwa Gone Wild!: The second time that a contestant, Izzy, was eliminated for a second time in the series. While the injury here was relatively minor in comparison to the last few, the amount of time between injury and recovery is fairly startling. Heather, in a rather hilarious accident, is shot in the butt by Izzy’s tranquilizer dart. She had to be strapped to a stretcher that was propped upright due to being paralyzed. Yet by the end of that same night, she was already moving and talking normally again. Maybe a ploy to get Duncan to do her dirty work, but maybe not.
I Triple Dog Dare You!: The famous downfall of the show’s greatest antagonist. This was also the first in the epidemic that will be more specifically addressed later in the blog. At the very peak of Heather’s beat-down by Gwen and Owen, who had teamed up against her and were ganging up on her with nonstop dares and use of their own numerous freebies, she was dared by Lindsay to have Chef Hatchet shave her hair. She refused to do the challenge and kicked the razor away, only for it to land on her head and shave her completely bald. This was the beginning. It took her two whole seasons for her hair to completely and finally grow back. She was completely bald in Total Drama Action, repeatedly switching wigs to cover it up, and had some hair in a small ponytail in Total Drama World Tour.
Injuries (3): Cody (healed), Trent (healed), Heather (healed first time, second time not healed; result: still bald)
Now we move on to Total Drama Action. This season definitely featured faster healings than Total Drama Island.
Masters of Disasters: The beginning of the minor plotline with Owen’s broken jaw. A rather serious injury that left him in a wheelchair and forced to only drink liquids, all while speaking through clenched teeth. Within two episodes, he was already on track for a speedy recovery, and only had to wear retainers. By The Aftermath: III, only five episodes after he started wearing retainers and eight episodes after the accident, he is fully back to normal.
The Princess Pride: This episode was a triple whammy. Justin, Lindsay, and Beth all suffered major injuries that placed all three of them in half body casts, from their arms, to their heads, to their torsos. Injuries were mostly brought about by falls from high places and landing on rocks. And yet, by the next episode, Beth and Lindsay were entirely back to normal. By Mutiny on the Soundstage, a mere 6 episodes later, Justin is back to normal.
Injuries (4): Owen (healed), Justin (healed), Lindsay (healed), Beth (healed), Heather (still recovering)
Then the fit hits the shan.
Walk Like An Egyptian – Part 2: This is where it all began. Following Ezekiels being the first voted off once again, he vows to stay with the competition and holds onto the tail wing of the Total Drama Jumbo Jet. No severe injuries, but this definitely foreshadows something.
Jamaica Me Sweat: Both Owen and Izzy are crushed by the Total Drama Jumbo Jet landing right on top of them and are placed in the infirmary. Owen is bandaged up, but returned to normal in one episode. Izzy’s only injury is a blow to her head that makes her infinitely smarter, but she also returns to normal in one episode. Also, Gwen falls victim to electric eels and ends up in the infirmary, but is also back to normal by the end of the episode. Lastly, DJ ends up with quite a few casts and bandages due to a nasty crash, but is just fine by the very next episode.
I See London…: This is the episode where Ezekiel is revealed to be in a deteriorating, zombie-like form. It gets worse from here on out.
The EX-Files: By the end of the episode, Tyler is a complete mess, and half his body is wrapped up in casts, due to stepping on a land mine. He is eliminated, and seen later on in Aftermath Aftermayhem, three episodes later, still wrapped up and in a wheelchair. However, by Hawaiian Style, he is back to normal.
Picnic at Hanging Dork: Gwen suffers from her allergic reaction to eucalyptus leaves, and her face swells up. However, two episodes later, she is back to normal.
Chinese Fake-Out: Blaineley takes the Drop of Shame, and her parachute fails to deploy successfully. She crashes right through the roof of a Chinese hut and is placed in a full body cast, staying that way for the rest of the season.
Awwwwww, Drumheller: This is where it starts falling apart. Sierra makes a birthday cake for Cody, only to use sparklers instead of candles. The sparklers ignite the spilled oil from the challenge earlier and destroys the Jumbo Jet in a massive explosion, charring Sierra and burning all of her hair off. All of her long, purple hair, gone in two seconds. She is also bound to a wheelchair due to other injuries.
Hawaiian Punch: This episode is one big mess of confusion and chaos as far the injuries are concerned. Throughout the episode, Sierra is seen in her wheelchair and bald. However, in the very end, she is seen using her legs normally and her hair is back; obviously a terrible goof. The other major incident is Alejandro: After losing to Heather, he is trampled by the entire cast as they run away from the volcano, and is then covered by a river of lava. At the end of the episode, he is placed inside the Drama Machine to keep him alive. Also, Ezekiel appears, falls into the lava, and is then shot right back out of the volcano and crashes through the deck of a boat. Heather is last seen swimming away just as a massive flaming boulder was seen heading straight for her.
Injuries (9): Ezekiel (not healed; result: still in a deranged, green, bald, feral state), Izzy (healed), Owen (healed), Gwen (healed twice), DJ (healed), Tyler (healed), Blaineley (not healed; result: unknown if even dead or alive), Sierra (not healed; result: still bald), Alejandro (not healed; result: now in a robotic body)
Thus, by Total Drama: Revenge of the Island, there are five characters who are prominently still in a serious condition or with some lasting hint of their past troubles: Ezekiel, Sierra, Heather, Alejandro, and Blaineley (whose silence is just as maddening as an answer). However, just about all of these are answered in…
Bigger! Badder! Brutal-er!: The entire original cast of 24 makes a cameo in the very beginning (Blaineley being the sole absentee). The first of the critically damaged to be seen is Sierra, who is already on the way to a speedy recovery; she is now standing on both legs again, and some hair on the sides of her head is already growing back, while a red baseball cap covers her still mostly-bald head. Next is Alejandro, who is still in the Drama Machine. Ezekiel, also, hasn’t changed, and is still in his feral form. The one shining light of hope, however, is Heather: She is finally, at long last, after two seasons, back to normal. Her hair is finally back to the long length it was in Total Drama Island. A sign of hope, and a breath of fresh air, before the writers go right back into their shenanigans of pain. When Staci is eliminated in the same episode, the Marshmallow of Toxic Loserdom causes her to lose all of her hair in an instant.
Backstabbers Ahoy!: At the end of the challenge, Cameron is severely injured after detonating a mine, and his half-bandaged body is taken away on a stretcher in an ambulance. However, before the same episode even ends, he is already back to normal like nothing ever happened.
The Treasure Island of Dr. McLean: The beginning of the end for Dakota. A one-episode version of the event that took Ezekiel half a season. Of course, she’s still bald. Then she grows taller and grows short green hair. Then, finally, her feet become three-toed, she gets shoulder and elbow spikes, razor-sharp claws, a tail, and orange, scaly skin. And that’s it. In barely five minutes, and she’s already worse than Ezekiel. And she’s like that for the rest of the episode and leaves that way. Nice.
Eat, Puke and Be Wary: Once again, the person who is eliminated – Scott – leaves in a full body cast and wheelchair. But as if that wasn’t bad enough, he has to share the Hurl of Shame with Fang. This leads to his appearance in the season finale, where he’s immobilized, mute, and stuck in a robotic, four-wheeled body with only his drooling head sticking out. Alejandro 2.0, I guess. Lightning also sustains minor injuries in the episode with a bandage around his head.
Brain vs. Brain: The Ultimate Showdown: In addition to the revelation of Scott’s injuries due to being hurled with Fang, Lightning also gets a rather peculiar change: After
wouldn’t you know it? being struck by lightning while surrounded by barrels of toxic waste, he ends up with white hair.
Injuries (5): Cameron (healed), Staci (not healed; result: still bald), Dakota (not healed; result: now a mutated, radioactive monster), Scott (not healed; result: now permanently paralyzed, mute, and in a robotic body), and Lighting (not healed; result: white hair)
So, here we are, at the end of the fourth season. After running through two separate casts, and 38 contestants in total, we see 18 contestants - that’s just one short of HALF the entire cast - having gone through some kind of serious injury:
Of those 18, some of which received full body casts due to their injuries, only 7 still retain signs of their injuries. We have seen six contestants go bald, two contestants be placed in a mechanical body, and two contestants be completely, horrifically mutated into hideous monsters due to their desire to win. And there’s one character, even after a whole season since their last appearance, who we still honestly have no clue if they’re even dead or alive. And, lastly, one character who was thought to be dead, was brought back, and now just might be dead again.
It was funny in TDI. It was funny in TDA. It was killed in TDWT. Its grave was danced upon in TDR. This is a joke that the writers have taken way too far. I’m all for physical comedy, but come on. Yes, this is a cartoon. Yes, you can do anything you feel like doing to the characters because they’re not real. But when something in a cartoon is so screwed up that there’s such a negative backlash, and it’s deemed too much for a CARTOON, then you know you’ve screwed up.
Whatever happened to the characters who could break every bone in their body and be back to normal in one episode (Trent and Cameron)? Whatever happened to the characters who had such abnormally speedy recoveries? And, the biggest question of them all: ‘‘If some characters can have speedy recoveries, why can’t others?’’ Why must Ezekiel, Dakota, and Alejandro ‘‘still‘‘ be in such abysmal states when others have recovered so quickly? Why is Staci still bald when Sierra could grow some of her hair back so quickly? How come Heather’s hair took two full seasons to grow back when Sierra’s is already starting to grow back in the small space between two seasons.
And another big question: Why have the writers resorted to this? Is this honestly what they deem funny? Severely damaging, balding, immobilizing, robotizing, or otherwise killing off half of their characters, is what they consider ‘‘funny’’? Or is this just a sign – a subtle hint – that they have run out of ideas, and this is their plan Z?
Heck, if they’re going to all but murder some of their own characters, why not? Why not just go ahead and actually let some of the contestants die on-screen, just as so many nameless interns have? At this point, in the cases of Alejandro, Ezekiel, Scott, and Dakota, it’s what’s best. It’s clear now that characters who go through changes as drastic as these four will never return to normal, as much as we want them to. That’s just the cold, hard, unforgiving truth. Even those who hate Ezekiel, who hate Alejandro, who hate Scott, and who hate Dakota, can’t stand it. They may not like these characters, but they sure as heck don’t deserve THIS. This may have already been done, in the case of Blaineley; last seen rolling right into the Pacific Ocean, on a dolly, in a full body cast, not seen with the rest of the cast swimming away, and never even once mentioned since then.
If this is the track that the series is going on, then do we even want a season five? Which characters will they destroy next? Duncan? Geoff? LeShawna? Dawn? Or will those who have already suffered enough suffer even more (if such a thing is possible)? I honestly don’t know. Neither outcome is pleasant.
I honestly don’t know what the future holds for the characters and their physical well-being. All we can do is cross our fingers, pray, and hope for the best in season five and whatever (if any) seasons come afterwards.
I’ll end this blog with an “In Memoriam” list. These characters may not be dead in the literal sense, but in every other way, they truly are long gone: