If you grew up in the 1990s, you almost certainly watched a ton of cartoons. It was the golden age of animated programming, and iconic shows like Pinky and the Brain, Doug, and Rocko’s Modern Life helped shape the way that many of us think about the world today. However, with so many incredible cartoons that came out in the ‘90s, some of them have been almost forgotten. This was my experience with Street Sharks.
Have you ever inexplicably recalled a random memory from your childhood, unsure what external stimuli coaxed that memory out of the depths of your subconscious? Simply put, I was lying in bed the other day when I suddenly found myself wondering, What the hell was that cartoon with the badass, crime-fighting sharks that rode on motorcycles that I used to watch? After a brief search on Google, I discovered that the name of the show was Street Sharks, and it all started coming back to me.
This show was pure ‘90s. In what other era could someone possibly conceive a show about human-shark hybrids fighting against other humanoid aquatic animals created by an evil scientist named Dr. Paradigm (who later became known as Dr. Piranoid after his DNA mixes with that of a piranha, turning him into a hybrid himself). The whole thing was absolutely ridiculous, exhilarating, and just all-around awesome.
Street Sharks Premise
Dr. Robert Bolton and his partner Dr. Luther Paradigm invented a machine called a “gene-slammer” that’s meant to combine human DNA with the DNA of aquatic animals. Unfortunately, Dr. Paradigm turns out to be a madman (Bolton probably should’ve known by his bolted metal eyepatch) and uses the machine on Dr. Bolton without his consent, turning him into some sort of human-animal hybrid. While Dr. Bolton’s new form is never shown, we can assume it was something rather unpleasant.
Later on, when Dr. Bolton’s four sons confront Dr. Paradigm about what happened to their father, Paradigm uses the machine to turn them into half-shark-half-human beasts. All of them have razor-sharp teeth, six-pack abs, and Schwarzenegger-esque biceps. Hell yeah. The four half-shark brothers devour a hot dog stand, the cops show up, and their life of crime-fighting fugitives begins.
Dr. Paradigm eventually captures Bends, the still-fully-human friend of our protagonists, and tries to cross his DNA with that of a piranha. However, the Street Sharks arrive at the laboratory at the critical moment and a battle ensues that results in Dr. Paradigm accidentally turning himself into a human-piranha hybrid. The synthesis seems rather unstable, though, as Dr. Paradigm will appear fully human when he’s calm, but will change into his hybrid form when shit starts to hit the fan.
From that point on, the show basically consists of Dr. Paradigm (or Dr. Piranoid as his adversaries like to call him) creating a myriad of different human-animal monsters to destroy the Street Sharks. To Dr. Paradigm’s chagrin, some of his creations actually end up siding with the Street Sharks, including an intimidating half-orca named Moby Lick and a blade-wielding half-marlin named El Swordo.
In the final few episodes, a group of extraterrestrial dinosaurs called the Dino Vengers descended to Earth and aided the Street Sharks in their efforts to defeat Dr. Paradigm and the Raptor Gang (a new group of villains). The Dino Vengers eventually got their own spin-off show, which was pretty ridiculous and amazing in its own right.
Our Four Heroes
While the Streets Sharks formed a cohesive unit while in battle, each of the four of them had their own unique personality and backstory.
Ripster, known as John Bolton before his days as a human-great white shark hybrid, is the leader of the Street Sharks, as he’s the oldest and smartest of the Bolton brothers. He’s great at inventing things, a skill that he picked up from his dad. He’s also a big fan of playing pool. Ripster is also very capable at driving a motorcycle, not that he needs to be; he can swim through concrete as if it were water at high speeds.
Born Cooper Bolton, Big Slammu is the youngest of the four brothers. But although he may be the youngest, he’s undoubtedly the strongest of the four physically, perhaps due in part to the fact that he was crossed with a whale shark. As a human, Big Slammu was a star on his high school football team and a jock. Big Slammu’s claim to fame is that he can slam his fists into the ground and cause a small earthquake. He’s also seen riding a skateboard in the first episode.
Bobby Bolton, who goes by the name of Streex after being crossed with a tiger shark, is the self-proclaimed ladies’ man of the group. He seems to always be on rollerblades and enjoys other extreme sports like parachuting and snowboarding. Sometimes Streex is seen using a weapon such as a metal pipe or a wooden staff, which is always bent into the shape of a hockey stick. He can also apparently play the drums professionally. What a Renaissance man.
Jab’s nickname comes from his love of boxing, which comes in handy when you’re fighting crime as a human-hammerhead shark hybrid. Originally named Clint Bolton, Jab is the laziest of the four brothers, but it seems he’s quite adept at mechanical engineering as he quickly figures out how to use a jetpack in one episode. Jab also seems to be the most shark-like of the four due to the fact that he often expresses his emotions by snarling and roaring.
Street Sharks History
On a historic day in television history, the first episode of Street Sharks aired on September 11, 1994 as a part of Bohbot Entertainment’s Amazin’ Adventures programming block. This work of pure genius was created by David Siegel and Joe Galliani of Mr. Joe’s Really Big Productions. The show spanned three seasons and 40 episodes, with the last episode airing on May 18, 1997 (a sad day indeed).
In 1995, Buena Vista Home Video released the first three episodes on VHS home video under the title The Gene Slamming Begins. Later, in 2012, Mill Creek Entertainment bought the rights and released the entire series on DVD.
In 1996, Archie Comics created a comic book series based on Street Sharks, but it only lasted for three issues. From 1994 to 1997, Mattel released Street Sharks action figures, many of which are still trading hands online today.
If you’re interested in watching Street Sharks for the first time or revisiting the show for nostalgic value, you can watch every episode on YouTube! Check it out!