The pilot episode aired on December 27, 2005, as part of a sneak peek of Cartoon Network's Saturday morning lineup. The second episode was shown as a special on Cartoon Network's Fridays on January 13, 2006. And the final regular episode aired on April 15, 2008. The series gradually became popular among audiences, gradually evolving into a franchise.
Ben 10 centers around Ben Tennyson (Tara Strong), a ten-year-old boy on a cross-country summer vacation, with his cousin Gwen (Meagan Smith) and their grandfather Max (Paul Eiding). On their first night camping in their grandfather's RV affectionately named the "Rust Bucket," Ben finds an alien pod with a mysterious watch-like device named the Omnitrix. The device then permanently attaches itself to his wrist giving him the ability to transform into a variety of alien life-forms each with its own unique skills and powers. With his new found super powers Ben has to learn the responsibilities of being a hero. During their vacation, the Tennysons are attacked by various of enemies ranging from space aliens to supernatural entities.
Cast and Characters
- Benjamin "Ben" Tennyson: Ben is shown to be a cocky, immature boy, who is not above enjoying attention and enjoys making jokes even during fights. Though his immaturity makes a bad impression on some people, Ben is good-hearted, noble, and loyal, and his actions are motivated above all by a strong and sincere will to help and save others in need. He will stop at nothing to protect his family or anyone in danger whether human or alien. Ben proves to be resourceful, intelligent, shrewd and cunning when needed, which saved him from many situations, especially when the Omnitrix cannot activate or doesn't provide him with the form he originally wanted.
- Gwendolyn "Gwen" Tennyson: She is depicted as a kind and intelligent girl. Overall, her most notable skill is her innate, if latent, ability at magic. She got her powers from her alien grandmother, Verdona Tennyson. She is extremely skilled at magic as in "Tough Luck" when she picks up Hex's staff to defeat Charmcaster, Charmcaster replies that it can only be worked in the hands of a master magician and Gwen could still fire a yellow energy beam from it even though she hadn't learnt about them.
- Grandpa Maxwell "Max" Tennyson: Max mentions having spent his childhood Summers on his Uncle Jedediah's farm, where he learned about the merits of hard work. A "not-quite-all-there" Max, under the effects of Zombozo's happiness-draining, mentions having been afraid of heights as a kid and then, when "enough was enough", Max "climbed up to the top of the water tower" and "scared the fear" right out of him. It was shown that Max had a childhood friend called Donovan Grand Smith, who sums up Max: "growing up he always was the worrywart never the risk-taker", like himself. Thirty years earlier, Donovan and Max had both been broke when Donovan offered Max a business opportunity which he turned down. Max later became a Plumber (Donovan thought Max was an actual plumber), establishing that Max's career as a Plumber lasted for about twenty-eight years before he retired (Max mentioned that after twenty-eight years on the job, he'd never figured out who was behind the Bermuda Triangle). It was revealed that Max had been an astronaut and would have been the first man on the moon, but left the program before the Apollo Moon mission. In his own words, Max said he just "took his step for mankind in other ways".
- Vilgax: One of the most feared aliens in the galaxy and arch-enemy of Ben. Vilgax is vicious, arrogant, and dangerously relentless, as he will stop at nothing to take the Omnitrix, which he wishes to use in order to create a transforming super army. In the past, Vilgax was an enemy of Grandpa Max. Vilgax was injured and remained in a regeneration chamber in the first season, but when completely healed, he was cybernetically enhanced, giving him colossal size, strength and durability that made him a match for every alien Ben could access at that time.
- Kevin 11: A 11-year-old delinquent sociopath with a mutant power that allows him to absorb energy. He uses the ability to commit crimes to benefit himself, never caring if it hurts anyone. He originally wanted to team up with Ben to become unstoppable, but after Ben refuses the offer, he absorbs power from the Omnitrix instead. He uses this to frame Ben for robberies using the alien forms, but the constant changes makes his DNA unstable and he eventually becomes a mutation of all the alien forms. Becoming a monster makes him hate Ben more than ever, as he blames him for his new form, and he swears revenge, becoming Ben's secondary arch-enemy: "Kevin 11". In future successors of the Ben 10 seasons, Kevin Ethan Levin meets Darian Maina and becomes a protagonist.
- Dr. Animo: A scientist whose career was cut short when it was discovered that he was performing twisted genetic experiments on animals. He had hoped that his research would win him the Verties Award, which is an award in veterinary science. Because of the nature of his research, he lost the award to another doctor named Kelly. This drove him insane, and he dropped off the map for five years until he could perfect his research. After being defeated by Ben for the first time, Dr. Animo makes himself a personal nemesis to the boy, always hoping to defeat him and rule the world. His powers include controlling animals, reviving them and creating them.
- Zs'Skayr: An Ectonurite who was originally one of Ben's forms. Zs'Skayr was sampling Flourana DNAs into the Omnitrix but ended up having his own DNA sampled along with it creating a clone of him and Ben's form "Ghostfreak". He escaped the Omnitrix and tried to possess Ben but was defeated. Since then, he has become one of Ben's most dangerous enemies. His powers include invisibility, intagibility, possession, tentacles, energy beam projection, telekinesis and firing enry beams from his hands.
- Charmcaster: A gifted human who was the teenage niece of Hex. She first appears to be loyal to her uncle, but was actually using him to get power for herself. She becomes Gwen's personal arch-nemesis. Her powers include mana manipulation and spell-casting.
The Omnitrix The Omnitrix (The prefix omni- means all, the trix means matrix) was originally created by a Galvan (Grey Matter's species) named Azmuth. The Omnitrix was intended to allow beings to experience life as other species in order to bring understanding and foster peace in the universe.In the first form that Ben found, the Omnitrix looked like a wristwatch, primarily black and gray in color, with a gray (or black) dial in the middle (like a watch face) and had a green hourglass shape on it (actually the intergalactic "peace" symbol, also on Plumber's Badges and Azmuth's home world). However, many beings, like Vilgax have seen the Omnitrix' abilities as something that could be used as a powerful weapon.
But the Omnitrix was originally intended for Max according to Xylene, but since she was in battle she sent it to the forest by mistake. But when Ben found it, his DNA was close enough to Max' that it mistook him for Max and locked itself on Ben's wrist.
The default mode for the Omnitrix which means it can be used and that it has recharged. Actual usage time is unknown (between ten and twenty minutes, most commonly ten), and can time out at inopportune moments, it seems to time out faster the more it's taxed by activities such as fighting. However, if regular transformation is tampered with, Ben can't turn back (Ditto, for example, isn't allowed to revert when Ben's Ditto clones were not all merged, nor does it allow Ben to transform multiple times).
The Omnitrix also possesses a Master Control, activated by inserting a certain code into the Omnitrix. Once the Master Control is unlocked, the user can remain in an alien form indefinitely and is able to switch between alien forms at will just by thinking it, speaking the name of the alien given by the user, or operating the Omnitrix which can still be found on the body when activated.
Time Out Mode
When the Omnitrix times out, while timing out, the Omnitrix beeps and flashes, converting the user back to normal, and takes around 10 minutes to recharge, though it may take more time if tampered with. Its main purpose is said to be to keep the original personality of certain aliens from overwhelming the user (such as the case of Ghostfreak).
The Omnitrix is powered by a special self-renewable power supply that will long outlive Ben. The Omnitrix has, on occasion, instantly recharged to protect its user from direct physical threat. This was shown when Ben was about to be killed by Kevin and then when Ghostfreak, who had escaped the Omnitrix at the time, tried to possess Ben, both times, despite just timing out moments earlier, the Omnitrix recharges instantly when Ben's life is put in direct threat. However, this may possibly be a safety mechanism where the Omnitrix taps into an emergency reserve of energy, as the Omnitrix almost immediately timed out mere moments later. This feature was apparently switched off after the recalibration. The Omnitrix has been known to 'malfunction', such as unexpectedly timing out, recharging instantly or changing into a different alien than was selected; however, these might be safeguards programmed to protect against someone stealing it.
It was confirmed by Dwayne McDuffie, the Omnitrix times out not to recharge its energy, but to prevent damage to Ben.
When a new DNA sample has been unlocked for future use (it identifies the DNA against the database, then unlocks that code on the Omnitrix), or when the Omnitrix actually captures new DNA that is not already present on it.
When in S.D.M. (Self-Destruct Mode), the Omnitrix counts down until it explodes. When in S.D.M. for a few days, the Omnitrix charges up enough energy to cause an energy ripple that will destroy the entire universe, also in the original series while the Omnitrix was in S.D.M. it sent out bursts of energy that threw Ben through the air.
- The Omnitrix has Artificial Intelligence and can read the mind of the user and transforms him/her into the alien it thinks is right for the situation when activated; it might be why Ben turns into another alien instead of the one he chose;
- When it's near from Azmuth, it has been shown to pin-point the direction to reach him by turning its dial;
- When transformed, the Omnitrix can protect the host from negative influences, like possession by an Ectonurite or the mutation effect of Corrodium or Dr. Animo's mutant ray, the same effect applied to Kevin during his second mutation, as it came from the Omnitrix too;
- If someone tries to tamper with it against the host's will, it creates a large feedback pulse for defense;
- "And Then There Were 10" starts with a space battle, just like in the opening scene of Star Wars Episode IV.
- The Forever Knights appear to be inspired by the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP) from the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark, both organizations viewed themselves as superior races descended from ancient times and their goals are to search for paranormal artifacts (such as alien tech for the Forever Knights, while the National Socialists search for occult items) to help out their causes. The Forever Knights' hatred of everything alien also appears to allude to the National Socialists' anti-Semitic views of the Jewish and other enemies of the Third Reich who are not considered Aryan purity.
- Another possible source of inspiration for the Forever Knights might be the "Torchwood" Institute as presented in the more recent series of Doctor Who. Torchwood, like the Forever Knights, is dedicated to collecting Alien Tech ruthlessly and to the very specific goal of ensuring the dominating position of a presumed British Empire on planet Earth.
- Another possible source of inspiration for the Forever Knights might be the rumors and common conspiracy theories regarding "Area 51" in the U.S.A. According to these theories, Area 51 is a location where aliens or their dead bodies have been kept, dissected and analyzed. In the movie Independence Day, Area 51 is also a place of alien tech research where an alien battle pod is analyzed and repaired and then used against the same Earth-invading alien civilization.
- In "Ready to Rumble", when Porcupine curls up and rolls into the enemy, is much like Sonic the Hedgehog's Spin Dash.
- "Ben 4 Good Buddy" is a reference to "Ten 4 good buddy".
- "Big Fat Alien Wedding" is a reference to the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding; and the events are similar to the classic tragic story Romeo and Juliet.
- Eye Guy is a reference to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers villain, also called Eye Guy.
- In "Midnight Madness", has a reference to the Midnight Riders[disambiguation needed]; the "Mega-mall-opolis" is a parody of the Mall of America in Minnesota; and Sublimo is derived from subliminal.
- In "Super Alien Hero Buddy Adventures", the North brothers are named Kane and Abel, which most likely refers to Cain and Abel from the Bible.
- In "The Big Tick", all the hand positions Cannonbolt used were Peter Parker's hand positions when he was trying to find out how to shoot webs in the first Spider-Man movie. Also, the plot about an intergalactic planet eater, the creature having its servant(s) go to the world before and the fact that its servant(s) move around on hoverboards is similar to the plot of Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
- In "Ghostfreaked Out", was made a reference to Ghostbusters' phrase I ain't afraid of no ghost!, where Acid Breath says I ain't scared of no ghosts!.
Ben 10 was created by "Man of Action" and was produced by Cartoon Network Studios. Man of Action is a group consisting of comic book creators Duncan Rouleau, Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, and Steven T. Seagle. The group worked on Ben 10 concept roughly 3 years before Cartoon Network picked up the series.
Early on in development, it was decided that a villain would be within the Omnitrix. After Ghostfreak was created the creators added dialogue into the first season to give the audience that there is something more to Ghostfreak. Originally Cannonbolt the 11th alien transformation in the series, was going to be in the original set of aliens, but was replaced with Ghostfreak.
When doing test animations for the series the first alien transformation to be tested was Four Arms. It was the most popular transformation out of all the aliens for "Man of Action". Many of the unused designs for Upchuck were recycled into in the episode "Ben 10,000" as two of Ben's aliens "Spitter" and "Articguana", and as villain Sploot.
Steven E Gordon worked on a very early version of the show, his concept work reveals that Ben Tennyson was originally going to be a red headed young boy. Gordon also has early designs of the Omnitrix which look more like a watch than the final version, as well different designs and names for the alien transformations. Some of the beta names for the transformations were "StrongGuy", "Inferno", "RazorJaws", "Dragonfly", "Plantguy", and "Digger". Some of the early designs for the early aliens are more human and super hero like similar to Dial H For Hero.
The theme song for the series was written by Andy Sturmer and sung by Moxy. The main title were created by Renegade Animation. The flash animated sequence during the main title was designed to let the audience know that the show is going to be fun and not just an action show. The opening credits were altered in the third season and beyond to reflect that Ghostfreak was no longer to be used, and was replaced by Cannonbolt as the ninth alien.
Kris Zimmerman was in charge of casting and was the voice director. Tara Strong voices the title character Ben Tennyson, Upgrade, Benwolf, Lucy Tennyson, Ken Tennyson, and Sandra Tennyson. She also voices Future Gwen and Buzzshock in "Ben 10,000". Meagan Smith voices Ben's cousin Gwen Tennyson, and Paul Eiding voices Grandpa Max and his version of Upgrade.
Steven Blum voices Ben's alien transformations Heatblast and Ghostfreak, as well as the series main villain Vilgax. Dee Bradley Baker voices Ben's transformations Stinkfly, Eye Guy, and Wildmutt, Baker also voices Ben's school bully friend Cash Murray, and many of his enemies such as The Limax, Six Six, Acid Breath. Baker also notable for voicing many various characters and aliens. Richard Steven Horvitz voices Ben's Gray Matter transformation and the villain Sublimino. Richard McGonagle voices Ben's Four Arms transformation, and the villain Exo-Skull. Fred Tatasciore voices Ben's aliens Ripjaws, Cannonbolt, and Way Big, Tatasciore also voices a future version of Ben in "Ben 10,000". And Jim Ward voices the transformations Diamondhead, XLR8, and Wildvine.