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Clone High

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Theme music composer

Also known as
'Clone High U.S.A.'

Theme song
Clone High Theme Song

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ComedyAnimated sitcomSurreal humorSocial satireScience fiction

Created by
Phil LordChristopher MillerBill Lawrence

Directed by
Ted CollyerHarold Harris

Voices of
Christopher MillerWill ForteNicole SullivanPhil LordMichael McDonaldChrista Miller

Program creators
Bill Lawrence, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller


Clone High (occasionally referred to in the U.S. as Clone High U.S.A.) is a Canadian–American adult animated television series created by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Bill Lawrence. The comedy centers on a high school populated by the clones of famous historical figures. The show's central cast includes adolescent depictions of Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, Mahatma Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, and Cleopatra. The series also serves as a parody of teen dramas; every episode is introduced as a "very special episode".


Clone High Nelvanacom Shows Clone High

Lord and Miller first developed the series' concept while at Dartmouth College in the 1990s, later pitching it to executives at American network Fox Broadcasting Company, who ultimately decided to pass on the program. It was later purchased by cable channel MTV, and was produced between 2002–03. The show's design is heavily stylized and its animation style limited, emphasizing humor and story over visuals. The Clone High theme song was written by Tommy Walter and performed by his alternative rock band Abandoned Pools, who also provided much of the series' background music.

Clone High Clone High Ep 104 39Film Fest Tears of a Clone39 piles on the

Clone High first aired in its entirety on Canadian cable network Teletoon between 2002 and 2003, later debuting on MTV. It became embroiled in a controversy regarding its depiction of Gandhi soon afterward, which prompted hundreds in India to mount a hunger strike in response. Shortly after, MTV pulled the series, which had been receiving low ratings. Clone High attracted mixed reviews from television critics upon its premiere, but it has since received critical acclaim and a cult following.

Clone High Nelvanacom Shows Clone High


Clone High Nelvanacom Shows Clone High

Clone High is set in a high school that is secretly being run as an elaborate military experiment orchestrated by a government office called the Secret Board of Shadowy Figures. It's located in the town of Exclamation, USA. The school is entirely populated by the clones of famous historical figures that have been created and raised with the intent of having their various strengths and abilities harnessed by the United States military. The principal of the high school, Cinnamon J. Scudworth, has his own plans for the clones, and secretly tries to undermine the wishes of the Board (Scudworth wants to use the clones to create a clone-themed amusement park, dubbed "Cloney Island", a decidedly less evil intention than that of the Board). He is assisted by his robot butler/vice principal/dehumidifier, Mr. Butlertron (a parody of Mr. Belvedere), who is programmed to call everyone "Wesley" and speak in two distinct intonations.

Clone High Clone High Wikipedia

The main protagonists of Clone High are the clones of Abraham Lincoln (referred to as "Abe"), Joan of Arc and Mahatma Gandhi. Much of the plot of the show revolves around the attempts of Abe to woo the vain and promiscuous clone of Cleopatra, while being oblivious to the fact that his friend Joan of Arc is attracted to him. Meanwhile, John F. Kennedy's clone (referred to as "JFK"), a macho, narcissistic womanizer, is also attempting to win over Cleopatra and has a long-standing rivalry with Abe. Gandhi acts in many of the episodes as the comic relief. Also on a few occasions, the characters that we see learn most of "Life's Lessons" the hard way.

Themes and style

While the clones derive many character qualities from their ancestors, much of the humor in the show comes from the large contrast between the personality of the clones and the actual values and legacy of the historical figures they are descended from. For instance, Gandhi is portrayed as a hyperactive jerk-with-a-heart-of-gold whose biggest dream is to be accepted by those around him, in contrast to his historical legacy of calm nonviolence. Abe Lincoln is similarly portrayed as weak and indecisive, completely lacking the resolve of the President whose DNA he shares. All of the clones are also given mis-matched foster parents who have little in common with them. Gandhi's parents are a stereotypical Jewish-American couple, while JFK is raised by a homosexual, interracial couple; Joan's "foster grandpa" is an elderly blind musician similar to Ray Charles named Toots, a parody of the stereotypical wise old man role (and the magical negro role) found in many teen shows, and who begins many of his declarative sentences with the words, "Now, I may be blind, but I can see..." followed by a wise-sounding observation that has little or nothing to do with anything.

The show also includes humor based on the historical figures themselves. For example, the diner the clones frequent is called The Grassy Knoll, a reference to the JFK assassination conspiracy theory about a second shooter, dubbed "The Man on the Grassy Knoll". Other references seen are the flag at The Grassy Knoll being permanently at half mast and the car on the roof of the diner containing the original JFK's body leaning over the edge. There are pictures of assassinations hanging on the walls of the restaurant, such as the famous Currier and Ives print of the Lincoln assassination (though this version is in color and considerably more graphic than the original print). The genetic ancestors of all of the five main clones died of similarly irregular causes: three assassinations, one execution and one suicide. Other historical figure-based humor includes offhand coincidental remarks to other students, such as Abe mentioning that the clone of Napoleon is so annoying because of "some kind of complex", or Gandhi telling Catherine the Great to "get off her high horse".

The show is also a parody of "issue" episodes of high-school themed comedies. Each episode is introduced as a "very special episode." Episodes center on various social issues, including Gandhi being shunned by his school for having ADD (because of misinformation about the disorder), parodying shows which tackle AIDS awareness (it even included a special guest celebrity who tries to educate the students). Other episodes tackle drugs (smoking raisins), the environment, and underage drinking in a similarly ridiculous fashion. In a clear sign that it is parodying the high school genre, it even ends at prom: a stereotypical "high school show" ending. Even the prom is a joke however, as we learn it is only the Winter Prom.

There was a running gag that creators Phil Lord and Christopher Miller wanted to include in the show "where Clone High – being an exaggeration of typical high schools in teen dramas – would have many proms throughout the year". Planned proms included "an Early Winter Prom, a Late Winter/Early Spring Prom, a Mid-Semester Prom, a Post-Prom Clean Up Prom, etc". The only surviving references to this joke are the Homecoming Prom in episode 6, "Homecoming: A Shot in D'Arc", and the winter prom in episode 13, "Changes: The Big Prom: The Sex Romp: The Season Finale". Another reference to the gag was deleted from episode 8, "A Room of One's Clone: Pie of the Storm".


  • Abe Lincoln (voiced by Will Forte) is a clone of Abraham Lincoln and the main protagonist. He admires his clonefather Abraham Lincoln and feels that he is struggling to live up to him. He is in love with Cleopatra and has a very naïve and awkward personality.
  • Joan of Arc (voiced by Nicole Sullivan) is a clone of Joan of Arc and Abe's closest friend and confidante. She is an intelligent, cynical and angsty goth. She loves Abe and hates how he ignores her in order to hook up with Cleopatra. She holds liberal political views, and "somewhat naively support[s] every special-interest cause."
  • Gandhi (voiced by Michael McDonald) is a clone of Mahatma Gandhi and Abe's other best friend. He, like Abe, is struggling to live up to his clonefather Mahatma Gandhi. As a result, he reinvents himself as a wild party animal.
  • JFK (voiced by Chris Miller) is a clone of John F. Kennedy and a handsome, popular, arrogant, and horny jock as well as Abe's on-and-off rival for Cleo's affections.
  • Cleopatra (voiced by Christa Miller) is a clone of Cleopatra VII as well as Abe's love interest and later girlfriend. She is a self-absorbed, vain, and often mean-spirited popular cheerleader who is the object of desire for every male in the school, most notably Abe and JFK.
  • Principal Scudworth (voiced by Phil Lord) is the literally "mad" scientist principal of Clone High, who secretly plans to use the clones as attractions for his hypothetical amusement park, dubbed "Cloney Island," and many of the series' subplots surround him trying to find ways to accelerate his plans.
  • Mr. Butlertron (voiced by Chris Miller) is Scudworth's Mr. Belvedere-esque sane robotic butler and reluctant sidekick in his stupid schemes. He refers to everyone as "Wesley".
  • Phil Lord as Genghis Khan
  • Nicole Sullivan as Marie Curie
  • Donald Faison as Toots, Wally, X-Stream Bob, Martin Luther King and George Washington Carver
  • Neil Flynn as Julius Caesar, Buddy Holly, Carl, and Moses, Krabby Kakes, Glenn the Janitor
  • Andy Dick as Mr. Sheepman, Police Officer and Vincent van Gogh
  • Murray Miller as Catherine the Great
  • Judah Miller as Scangrade
  • Debra Wilson as Harriet Tubman, Eva Perón, Skunky-Poo, Reporter
  • Sarah Chalke as X-Stream Erin, Marie Antoinette
  • Zach Braff as X-Stream Mike, Paul Revere
  • Joe Flaherty as Abe's Foster Dad
  • Production

    Miller initially developed the show's premise while in college, initially imagining the clones would be at a university rather than high school. The series was originally developed in 2000 under the title Clone High School, USA!. The production was overseen by Touchstone Television. It was originally pitched to the Fox Broadcasting Company, who purchased the show immediately but ultimately decided not to order it to series. Miller deemed it the "easiest pitch ever," considering the show's use of famous figures. Following Fox's rejection, MTV purchased the program in May 2001. All the original character designs were much different from what they would become even though the characters kept the same physical attributes and appearance. Each episode was budgeted at approximately $750,000.

    In forming the show's central cast, they found themselves limited in the number of historical figures they could depict, in consideration with avoiding "litigious estates" (such as the families of Albert Einstein or Marilyn Monroe) and keeping in mind the viewership of MTV. The show also parodies teen dramas, such as Dawson's Creek, which Lord and Miller watched in preparation to create the series. The show's art design has been described as angular and "evocative of UPA at its best." It is characterized by a flat and very stylized appearance resembling the animation used in Cartoon Network animated series from the 1990s and early 2000s, such as Dexter's Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls and Time Squad (Lord and Miller specifically cited Samurai Jack as an influence). The characters and backgrounds were traditionally drawn, and frames and cels were frequently recycled. Co-creator Chris Miller explained, "We like the snappy pose-to-pose animation, more for reasons of comic timing than anything else. Things that aren't expected are funnier: If an anvil's going to fall on your head, it had better not take more than three seconds. That's why we like the quick pose-to-pose stuff. For scenes with more emotional content, the characters move a little slower and more fluidly". Phil Lord added, "But we never want the viewer to be paying attention to the animation, because it's there to serve the jokes and the story. We strip out extraneous movements, because we don't want to draw your eye to anything that's not part of a joke." Gandhi is the most animated character on the show; he requires twice as many story-board poses as any other character.

    The series was produced by Bill Lawrence, who also produced Scrubs, Spin City and Cougar Town. Many Scrubs alumni, such as Zach Braff, Donald Faison, Sarah Chalke, John C. McGinley, Neil Flynn, and Christa Miller, provided the voices of characters in Clone High.

    Clone High was notable for subtle jokes hidden in the animation. There is an image of a dolphin hidden in almost every episode. The use of dolphins (sounds or images) would be later featured in Lord and Miller's later work. In the episode "Raisin the Stakes", there were numerous hidden messages, which appeared to be a parody of subliminal messaging.

    Controversy and cancellation

    An article in Maxim Magazine depicting Mahatma Gandhi being beaten up by a muscular man sparked outrage in India. Clone High was caught in a crossfire when citizens in the country conducted internet searches on the Maxim article but also found out about the show's Gandhi character on MTV's website. This sparked an outrage in India over the show's depiction of Gandhi. On January 30, 2003, the 55th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's assassination, approximately 150 protesters (including members of parliament) gathered in New Delhi and vowed to fast in response to Clone High. Tom Freston, the head of Viacom (owner of MTV), was visiting the network's India branch and was "trapped in the building," according to Miller. In 2014, he recalled that protestors "basically threatened that they'd revoke MTV's broadcasting license in India if they didn't take the show off the air".

    MTV offered a quick apology, stating that "Clone High was created and intended for an American audience", and "we recognize and respect that various cultures may view this programming differently, and we regret any offense taken by the content in the show". Miller would later recall that executives at MTV enjoyed the show, and asked for the duo to pitch a second season without Gandhi. Lord and Miller's two potential versions of a second season included one that made no mention of Gandhi's absence, and another that revealed that the character was, in fact, a clone of actor Gary Coleman all along, and the show continued as normal. "We pitched that, and it went up to the top at Viacom again and it got a big no," he remembered.


    Lord and Miller have since stated that they have "considered" a film adaptation of the series. In 2014, they explained that as they at that time were under contract with Fox, Lawrence had a television deal at Warner Bros. Television, and the rights to Clone High were owned by MTV/Viacom, it would be difficult to resurrect the show. References to Clone High are present in their later productions: the duo admitted many jokes in 22 Jump Street were "ripped off straight from Clone High", and Forte also voices a Lego version of Lincoln in The Lego Movie. In a 2014 Grantland article, the two joked that "our entire career has just been about getting Clone High back on the air".


    Clone High was shown on Canadian television in 2002 and 2003 before it debuted on MTV in the United States on January 20, 2003. Clone High was removed from its Prime Time rotation before all 13 episodes had been shown due to mediocre ratings.

    On August 4, 2016, the series began airing on the newly formed channel MTV Classic, marking the first time the series has aired on U.S. television since its removal from MTV in 2003. Though it was removed again in November 2016.


    The previous animated MTV series Daria and Beavis and Butt-head had used then-current popular music as a soundtrack, but, in contrast, Clone High featured a wide variety of music, usually exclusive to alternative rock, indie rock, punk rock, pop rock, metalcore, from mostly unknown and underground bands and musicians; a previous MTV animated series, Undergrads, had also done this. Of these include Alkaline Trio, Ritalin, Catch 22, Ilya, The Gentleman, Drex, Taking Back Sunday, The Stereo, Jo Davidson, Saves the Day, Hot Rod Circuit, Thursday, Helicopter Helicopter, Owen, Dashboard Confessional, Elf Power, Abandoned Pools, The Get Up Kids, Mink Lungs, Mates of State, Snapcase, The Mooney Suzuki, Jon DeRosa, Ephemera, Jinnrall, Avoid One Thing, DJ Cellulitis, DJ Piccolo, Whippersnapper, Matt Pond PA, Mad City and Bumblefoot. The series' other background music and original score was written and produced by Scott Nickoley and Jamie Dunlap of Mad City Productions. Nickoley and Dunlap went on to score other shows such as South Park, The Osbournes and Newlyweds.

    Initial reviews

    Television critics gave Clone High mixed reviews upon its 2002 premiere. On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 based on reviews from critics, the show has a score of 60, based on seven reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews". David Bianculli of the New York Daily News praised the series, commenting, "In a year of variations and ripoffs of established themes and genres, it's a true original. It's also a cartoon, and is truly, outrageously bizarre." The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Rob Owen complimented the show: "Yes, Clone High has the MTV-requisite sexual innuendo, but it's more clever than much of what passes for humor in prime time today. And like Scrubs, it has heart, particularly when it comes to Abe and Joan." Anita Gates of The New York Times opined that "the dialogue isn't always exactly funny, but it's smile worthy," observing, "the characters are intriguing in a lightweight way but could lose their appeal fast." Scott Sandell of the Los Angeles Times felt the show's debut episode lacking: "The problem is that the first episode, which focuses on crushes and beer, doesn't quite live up to the obvious comedic potential behind the killer premise." The Hollywood Reporter's Michael Farkash felt similarly, writing, "The premise sounds intriguing, but what hatches in the first episode is a disappointing, weak strain of comic material, lacking the cunning, subversive quality of, say, South Park."

    Retrospective reviews

    Because of the series' early cancellation in 2003, it quickly fell into obscurity, especially in the US. However, it has garnered a large fanbase throughout the Internet and still occasionally airs reruns on Teletoon's Teletoon at Night (formerly Teletoon Detour) block and formerly aired on MTV, MTV2 and Razer (now MTV2) in Canada. Much in Canada has also aired reruns of Clone High for a short time.

    Heather Marulli, of the website Television Without Pity, called the series "a mini-masterpiece of the animated genre; an opus to the primetime cartoon".

    David Broermann, from the website Freakin' Awesome Network, gave the series an "A+", saying it has "some really really good character development and depth" and an "amazing soundtrack" He notes the fantastic use of multiple running gags keeping viewers on their toes.

    Currently, the show has an 8.7 rating on TV.com, has an 8.3 rating on IMDb, and is listed as #5 on IGN's "Reader Choice: Top Animated Series".

    Jesse David Fox of Vulture, in a retrospective piece on the series, wrote that "Clone High still holds up more than a decade later as a brilliantly funny, completely nuts, surprisingly heartfelt, tonally inventive masterpiece."


    Clone High Wikipedia

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