The series was the first Disney cartoon to be produced for syndication. The studio gambled on the idea that a larger investment into quality animation could be made back through syndication - a concept that worked well with live-action TV reruns, but which had only been used with inexpensive cartoon series that either recycled theatrical shorts from decades past or only featured limited, low-budget animation. However, this show was a big hit and paved the way for future Disney cartoon series, such as Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers (1988), TaleSpin (1990), and Gargoyles (1994).
In the Carl Barks comics, Scrooge McDuck was much greedier and meaner, who could be portrayed as much an antagonist as a protagonist. He was considerably toned down in this series to be more affectionate and kindhearted.
Uncle Scrooge's nemesis Flintheart Glomgold is portrayed in this series as a Scot. In the original comics, he was portrayed as South African; this was removed due to the apartheid regime that was part of that country's history.
Disney invested a far greater amount of money into the TV series than had previously been spent on animated shows of the time. This was considered a risky move, because animated TV series were generally considered low-budget investments for most of the history of TV cartoons up through the 1980s.
When the initial ideas for DuckTales were being brainstormed, Disney was also considering a TV series inspired by Indiana Jones, about a team that would go on adventures worldwide searching for treasures. After rereading the Uncle Scrooge comics by Carl Barks, Michael Eisner realized that many of these adventure elements were already incorporated into their story lines. The two ideas were merged together into one show, which ended up being DuckTales.
In Carl Barks comics, the Beagle Boys have no individual personalities and they all look the same, they are only mentioned by their numbers and they all begin with "176". On the show, the Beagle Boys were given names and different personalities.
In the comics Donald Duck was not in the navy, and always accompanied Uncle Scrooge, Huey, Dewy, and Louie in the their adventures. However, the show's creators thought that he might steal the focus from Scrooge and that his voice would be to hard to understand. Launchpad McQuack was instead used as a substitute for Donald.
After the success of "Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983)" TV special, Michael Eisner fast tracked an animated TV series featuring Scrooge McDuck. He insisted on selling it to daily syndication, believing it would give them more creative freedom and make the company more money than Saturday morning television.
An early version of the series was going to have a bigger cast of Disney characters appearing, including Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and Donald Duck. However, this idea was quickly shot down when it felt like it was going to take away from the main characters and story lines. Donald Duck would make recurring visits, but the other two never appeared on any episodes.
In the comic books, Scrooge is a member of a Scottish clan: the Clan McDuck. It was introduced in the story "The Old Castle's Secret" (1948). Scrooge's original creator Carl Barks intended Scrooge to be the last surviving member of his clan. Other comic book creators have since introduced Scrooge's siblings, half-siblings, and various surviving kinsmen.
In the comic books, Magica De Spell is an Italian woman. She lives on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, in the vicinity of Naples, Italy. Therefore, in the Italian version she was dubbed with a thick Naples accent and her crow sidekick was renamed Gennarino (being Gennaro a popular first name in Naples).
While Carl Barks and other comic book creators have tried adding individual character traits to the Beagle Boys, they are mostly interchangeable. They look alike, they act alike. The main exception is the aging Grandpa Beagle, who is often depicted as smarter and more effective than his grandchildren.
The main setting for the series, the city of Duckburg, derives from the Disney comic books. The name was introduced by Carl Barks and first used in an unnamed story from 1944. The city has went on to appear in numerous comic book stories. Depending on the story, Duckburg has variously been depicted as a small town, a medium-sized city, or a bustling metropolis. It is supposedly situated in the (fictional) state of Calisota, on the West Coast of the United States.
Scrooge is depicted in comic books as Donald Duck's maternal uncle. Donald is the son of Hortense McDuck, Scrooge's younger sister. Hortense herself has turned up as a character in stories featuring a younger Scrooge.
Flintheart Glomgold, depicted as a darker version of Scrooge, was created by Carl Barks. Barks only used him in three comic book stories: "The Second-Richest Duck" (1956), "The Money Champ" (1959), and "So Far and no Safari" (1966). He was, however, considered memorable enough by other comic book writers, and has since appeared in hundreds of stories.
In the comic books, Flintheart Glomgold lives in his own Money Bin, located somewhere in the lands around the Limpopo River. The Limpopo is one of the largest rivers in Africa and flows through South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.
Magica De Spell, Scrooge's magical enemy, was created by Carl Barks. She first appeared in the comic book story "The Midas Touch" (1961). She has went on to become a very popular comic book character, to star in her own stories, and to gain a supporting cast of her own.
According to her creator Carl Barks, Magica De Spell was intended to be a youthful and attractive enchantress. He based part on her looks to a feminine figure from "The Addams Family" comic strip, later named as Morticia Addams.
Gyro Gearloose's main supporting character is Little Helper, a small, humanoid robot with a light-bulb for a head. He is called "Little Bulb" in "DuckTales". The character was created by Carl Barks and first appeared in the comic book story "The Cat Box" (1956). He was initially created to give Gyro someone to talk to, but he has since been fleshed out in various stories.
Gladstone Gander, who plays a recurring part in the series, is actually a major character in the Disney comic books. He was created by Carl Barks and first used in the comic book story "Wintertime Wager" (1948). He is depicted as Donald Duck's hated first cousin, rival for the affections of Daisy Duck, and a rival potential heir for Scrooge's fortune. His defining trait is constant good luck, which grants him pretty much whatever he wishes.
Huey, Dewey, and Louie were adapted into animation as early as 1938, in "Donald's Nephews (1938)". They only appeared in 28 "classic" animated shorts, the last of them being "Scrooge McDuck and Money (1967)". This series marks their first major appearance in the medium in 20 years.
Magica De Spell's raven Poe is named after Edgar Allan Poe, whose most famous poem is "The Raven". In the Italian version he's named Gennarino, the diminutive form of Gennaro, which is the name of the patron saint of Naples (Magica's hometown in the Disney canon).
Disney had originally planned to audition five different voice directors for the series, with each candidate directing one episode. Andrea Romano was the second person to audition and was offered the job immediately.
Scrooge McDuck was created by Carl Barks and introduced in the comic book story "Christmas on Bear Mountain" (1947). While he has been adapted to other media several times, he remains primarily a comic book character, with several thousand appearances in Disney comics.
Scrooge McDuck is the protagonist of the comic book series "Uncle Scrooge", that has been published nearly constantly since 1952. Donald Duck and Huey, Louie, and Dewey are regularly cast as his "helpers" and sidekicks.
The Beagle Boys were created by Carl Barks and first appeared in the comic book story "Terror of the Beagle Boys" (1951). In their debut story and its sequel "The Big Bin on Killmotor Hill" (1951), they only play minor parts. They were first used in a major role and fleshed out in "Only a Poor Old Man" (1952). They have since appeared in thousands of stories, sometimes as protagonists.
How many Beagle Boys there are has always been inconsistent in the comic books. Their creator Carl Barks often used up to 7 Beagles in a single story, but used more of them in stories such "The Menehune Mystery" (1953), which feature up to 30 different Beagles. Other writers have depicted hundreds of different Beagles, and various stories depict them as an international crime organization with thousands of members.
Gyro Gearloose was created by Carl Barks and first appeared in the comic book story "Gladstone's Terrible Secret" (1952). Barks later used Gyro as the protagonist of his own stories, and so have other writers. He also appears as a supporting character in stories featuring Scrooge, Donald, and other protagonists.
Huey, Dewey, and Louie originated as comic strip characters, created by writer Ted Osborne and artist Al Taliaferro in 1937. They have been Donald Duck's oldest and most-often appearing supporting characters.
When Carl Barks created Magica De Spell, he wanted something different from the 'old hag' stereotype of a witch. As a result, he decided to create a youthful, seductive character, taking inspiration in part from Italian actresses Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren, as well as from Morticia Addams. This connection with Italian actresses is why, in the comics, Magica is said to live near Naples, in Italy, on the slopes of the Mount Vesuvius volcano. While in this television version Magica lives in her own unnamed volcanic island and speaks with what sounds like an Eastern European accent, Bark's original concept is carried on in the Italian-dubbed version of the cartoon, where she speaks with a thick Neapolitan accent.
Scrooge McDuck was named after Ebenezer Scrooge from the classic Charles Dickins novel "A Christmas Carol" and like Ebenezer Scrooge, Scrooge McDuck is elderly, a wealthy businessman, wears a top hat and is grumpy.