American Dragon: Jake Long was an American animated television series, created by Jeff Goode and produced by Walt Disney Television Animation. The show previously aired on Disney Channel and Disney XD in the United States. In the United Kingdom, it originally aired on Disney Channel, but has moved to Disney XD since 2012. It also aired on Disney Channel in Australia. The series was scheduled to have a third and fourth season (at one point even a live-action film), but Disney Channel decided to end its run with only two seasons. The final episode aired on September 1, 2007. The fictional character was inspired by Victor Tiba, who fought in the Vietnam War.
The story was set in the New York City borough of Manhattan. Jake Long is a descendant of a long line of shape-shifting dragons, and it is his duty to protect a community of magical creatures secretly living among the masses in New York City. He lives with his parents, Jonathan and Susan, as well as his 7-year-old sister, Haley. His grandfather and sister are also dragons, the dragon powers having skipped his mother's generation. His Caucasian father is unaware of his family actually being part-dragon.
Throughout the series, Jake was taught how to use his innate magical powers by his grandfather and a 600-year-old shar-pei named Fu Dog. Jake needs these powers to protect the other magical creatures of the city from various malevolent beings most notably the villainous Huntsclan led by the Huntsman. His best friends are Trixie and Spud, whom he skateboards with. He is infatuated with Rose, another schoolmate who, unknown to him, is the Huntsman's apprentice. The stories are driven by Jake's search for balance between his life as a schoolboy and his secret life as a powerful magical guardian.
American Dragon: Jake Long was created by Jeff Goode, who also created the hit MTV series Undressed. Disney Channel ordered an initial twenty-one 30-minute episodes for the first season, all of which have been made. It was first broadcast in the United Kingdom on The Disney Channel on January 4, 2005, in the United States on The Disney Channel on January 21, 2005, and on Toon Disney in February 2006. It has also been broadcast on The Family Channel in some places.
It had been announced that Steve Loter, who had served as director of Disney Channel's Kim Possible, would be joining the show for its second season as director and executive producer alongside the current executive producers Matt Negrete and Eddie Guzelian. However, following Disney Channel's renewal of Kim Possible for a fourth season, Loter would resume his role as director, but still serve as an executive producer of Jake Long. Nick Filippi, who had also done some directorial work on Kim Possible, will be the new director of Jake Long. With Steve Loter joining the staff, the show had all of its characters and backgrounds re-designed with new animation upon request by both Loter and the executives as they had disdain for the previous seasons' designs.
- Jacob "Jake" Luke Long (Dante Basco): The titular protagonist of the show. Jake is a proud, lazy skateboarder who is, in secret, a dragon. He uses his duties as a dragon, to help defend the underground magical world of New York City, while continuing his training into becoming the American Dragon. Another one of his duties is to protect other dragons from people who want to harm them.
- Lao Shi (Keone Young): Jake's grandfather and Dragon Master. Lao is a Chinese dragon. He runs the Canal Street Electronics shop and his only friend is Fu Dog. His attempts at training Jake sometimes causes more damage than help. His name is a play on the Mandarin Chinese word for "teacher". Jake's nickname for him is "Gramps".
- Fu Dog (John DiMaggio): Fu is a 600-year-old talking anthropomorphic shar pei and Lao's only companion. Like many cartoon animals, Fu is able to walk upright, and has no trouble using his front paws as hands, despite the apparent absence of opposable thumbs. He's particularly skilled at potion-mixing. Despite his age, he frequently keeps up-to-date with current trends and events, occasionally putting him at odds with Lao Shi.
- Trixie Carter (Kali Troy): Jake's best friend. She is sassy, vivacious, and is somewhat of a tomboyish character. She is a fashion enthusiast, though does not necessarily partake in typical "girl" wear. In the situation of Jake and Rose's relationship, Trixie always showed a dislike and distrust towards Rose, advising Jake to be wary around her. She occasionally refers to herself as 'Mama Trixie'.
- Haley Kay Long (Amy Bruckner): Haley is Jake's 7-year-old younger (8 years old in the second season) sister, who is quite intelligent, talented, a bit of a perfectionist, and a goody-two-shoes (much to Jake's consistent annoyance). Haley goes to a school for advanced youths and actually tries hard to succeed. She is also quick to point out Jake's faults and make herself look superior to him. Yet, deep down, she looks up to him. Unlike Jake, she began developing her dragon powers at an earlier age. In the first season, she is a purple dragon. In the second season, she is pink. As his sister, she is actually next in line to be the American Dragon. Her mentor is Sun Park, though her training is quite different from Jake's.
- Arthur "Spud" P. Spudinski (Charlie Finn): Spud is Jake's other best friend and is extremely loyal. Although apparently slow-witted, he often comes up with intelligent things to say at random times, much like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. He owns a laptop computer that sports surveillance capabilities and other functions. In "Bring It On", he developed a global-positioning device to track his cheerleader crush, Stacey.
- Rose (Mae Whitman): Rose, Jake's paramour and a member of the Huntsclan. There is a birthmark on her right palm and wrist resembling a Chinese dragon, otherwise known as the "Mark of the Huntsclan". Jake eventually learns of her secret identity as the Huntsgirl. She, in turn, eventually learns that Jake is the American Dragon (see "The Hunted"). Contrary to expectation, Rose helps Jake throughout the show.
- The Huntsman (Jeff Bennett): Jake's main enemy, the Huntsman (referred to as "Huntsmaster" by his subordinates) is the leader of the Huntsclan. The Dragon Council rates him as the #4 threat to the magical community.
Because other magical creatures look up to dragons for leadership and guidance, the dragons of the world have become official protectors of the magical realm. Using their powers, strength, and abilities, the dragons of the world have formed a union of sorts and strive to protect magical creatures and the world around them and to keep normal humans from becoming aware of any magical creatures and the magical world. In many ways the dragons of American Dragon: Jake Long, are similar to the Jedi Knights of Star Wars.
The Teacher and Student
Older and more experienced dragons can be appointed as "Dragon Masters," coaches to younger and less experienced generations of dragons, their "Dragon Student." One traditional rule the Dragon Council follows is that the student and teacher should not be related. One exception to this rule is the Student/Teacher relationship between Jake Long and his grandfather, Lao Shi. Lao Shi personally asked the Dragon Council if he could train Jake himself since he believed that one day the Dark Dragon would return and that Jake would have to face him. The Council reluctantly agreed but only on a strict basis. Also, students who are unable to learn sufficiently enough from their teachers are transferred to a new Dragon Master.
The Dragon Council tests the progress of students through three tests that three of the Council members personally administrate.
The Test of Judgment in Fire (Councilor Kulde administrates this one): This trial tests the dragon student's use of judgment. In this trial, the student is guided into a warehouse where they are assaulted by ice sculptures depicting various different creatures (magical and non-magical alike), but the student must only use their fire breath to melt only the sculptures that would pose a threat.
The Test of Wisdom in Battle (Councilor Andam administers this one): This trial tests the dragon's knowledge of magical creatures and the magical world. In this trial, Councilor Andam pits the Dragon student against another magical creature of his choosing. If the student is able to overcome their opponent, they pass the test.
The Test of Courage in Flight (Councilor Chang administrated this one, although she may no longer do so because of her imprisonment): This trial puts many of the dragon student's abilities to the test. In this test, the student must make their way through an obstacle course set up around Draco Island and must fly through three rings. Not only that, but the student must also compete against another dragon, whom the student has the option of choosing. If the student is able to fly through all three rings and complete the course before their opponent, they pass the test.
Dragons follow a strict set of rules. Most importantly, a dragon must not allow humans to become aware of magical creatures and their world, including themselves. When humans become aware, the dragons must then erase all knowledge (and sometimes traces of) any information of their being magical creatures. Secondly, a dragon must not use their dragon powers for personal gain.
A running gag in the show is that Jake ends up breaking this rule constantly, although most of the time inadvertently. Jake also seems to be a rebel against certain rules, such as when Trixie and Spud found out about his and his grandpa's identities, Jake was asked to use a memory-erasing potion on them, but refused ("Professor Rotwood's Thesis"). Jake also uses his powers for personal gain a great deal of the time, such as using his ability to shapeshift, which landed him in trouble in "Dragon Summit".
- Main article: American Dragon: Jake Long episode list
Jake's original Season 1 dragon form in "Old School Training". Jake's Season 2 dragon form in the Season 2 opening sequence. Many audiences had mixed opinions about Jake's excessive use of street slang. While some liked it, others despised it as irritating. There is no doubt that Jake's personality is homage to the second and third-generation immigrants who willingly embraced American culture (and adapted to its varying accents). Executive producer Eddie Guzelian also admits that the bravado of Jake's character was helped shaped by Dante Basco's ad-libbing and their own writing, which parodied the "wannabe MTV gangsta" crowd. Season 2 seems to have toned down on Jake's superfluous use of slang.
Many audiences and fans found that they had mixed opinions of Season 2. The art style was changed drastically for the second season, giving the show an edgier look than the more traditional designs of the first season. However, many fans have grown past the initial shock of the drastic art change, and at the least accept the second season as its own experience, or else grown to prefer it, and the outcry that accompanied its initial showing has died down considerably. Season 2 director Steve Loter has offered some explanation to the change in aspects such as the dragon forms, in which the forms were meant to be directly related to the dragon's human form and current level of development. In the case of Jake, he would start out as a short, scrawny teenage dragon (as he is as a human), and need to train and develop into a muscle-bound dragon (much like his form from Season 1) over time.
- The name Long (龍) is the Chinese word for dragon.
- The name Lao Shi (老师) is the Chinese word for teacher. Though 老 can be used as a term of respect for an old or wise person, which would make "Shi" Jake's grandfather's given name.
- Concept sketches show that Jake's best friends were originally going to be named Jamal and Brook, and did not look like they did as of now. Jamal was a big African-American boy and Brook was a Caucasian girl.
- Haley was originally going to be named Brittany.
- Before coming up with the current title, the show had three previous titles. They were: Last Dragon, American Dragon, and Jake Long: American Dragon.
- According to Jeff Goode's American Dragon webpage, there was originally a Season 1 episode titled "The Order of the Dragon". The episode was soon scrapped as a budgetary maneuver to hire an extra writer to help revise the script. The episode was soon rewritten into "Dragon Summit".
- According to executive producer Matt Negrete, almost all of the early Season 2 episode scripts ran longer than needed; nearly 8 minutes had to be cut from "Half Baked" and "The Academy". An early draft of "Hong Kong Nights" was originally going to reveal Chang to be Jake's grandmother, but was rejected due to the distaste of the scenario by Standards & Practices (Chang would have had Jake's mother out of wedlock), and the conflicts it created with the series timeline. An early draft of "Homecoming" originally planned the episode to be a dark and dramatic two-parter, and there were even plans of killing off a main character. The Disney Channel considered the episode "too dark" and "too Jetix", and the episode was revised into a single, 22-minute episode. During a majority of "Hero of the Hourglass", a series of Super Mario Bros. sound effects can be heard, including getting coins, hitting a Koopa, and the Klown Car from Super Mario World.
- In "Dreamscape", a name on a door in the dream corridor is "Nick Filippi", who is Steve Loter's directing replacement for Season 2 of American Dragon: Jake Long, after he went back to direct Kim Possible for its fourth and final season.
- Episode Title Changes: Episode 221 was originally called "Student Body by Jake", but was changed to "Supernatural Tuesday" (a play on the political term "Super Tuesday") for legal reasons. In addition, episode 220 was originally called "Youth or Consequences" (an obvious nod to the classic game show "Truth or Consequences"), but was changed to "Young At Heart".
- The name "The American Dragon" is also used by a professional wrestler named Bryan Danielson, and, like Jake Long, sometimes refers to himself as "The AmDrag". However, Danielson had been calling himself by this name before the show's 2005 premiere.
- In "Halloween Bash", Ingrid Third, one of the stars of Disney's Fillmore! can be seen at Jake's Halloween party. Coincidentally, most of American Dragon's executive producers worked on that show (Chris Roman being the director for all of its episodes), and the writer of "Halloween Bash", Scott Gimple, created the series.
- Another tribute to the show is the name of Jake's school: Millard Fillmore Middle School.
- In a scene in "Feeding Frenzy", the female shark regurgitates various objects, including a license plate that reads "OUTATIME". This same license plate can be found on Doc Brown's DeLorean in Steven Spielberg's 1985 film, Back to the Future.
- Though it was shown on DisneyChannel.com's video service, the episode "Supernatural Tuesday" is the first episode of the series to be premiered on television before the Disney Channel. It was shown on Toon Disney a full four days before Disney Channel's broadcast of the episode.
Appearances in other media