Phineas and Ferb just announced that it is ending this summer, making it the longest running Disney Channel original series ever. It has been on television longer than Kim Possible, That’s So Raven, or The All-New Mickey Mouse Club. There is a very good reason for that — it is smart, funny, and shockingly subversive and meta for a “kid’s show,” attracting an impressive list of guest stars including Allison Janney, Tim Curry, Tina Fey, and Michael Douglas. Its creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh previously worked on some classic animated shows including Rocko’s Modern Life, King of the Hill, Spongebob Squarepants, and Family Guy before teaming up to create Phineas and Ferb together.
In the show’s eight-year history, Phineas and Ferb has had a lot of moments that honestly should go over most kid’s heads. With hundreds of episodes, a movie, and Star Wars and Marvel cross-over specials, this is by no means a complete list, but here are some of the best moments that the kids won’t catch. Bonus — Seasons 1 thru 3 are available on Netflix Streaming so you can marathon it before the finale, and Disney XD will be airing every episode starting on June 9 and running up until the finale on June 12.
“Night of the Living Pharmacists”
“Night of the Living Pharmacists” is an homage to all things zombie, from The Walking Dead to World War Z. One of the highlights of the episode, however, was an appearance by guest stars George Romero as a doomed TV reporter and Cloris Leachman as Mrs. Feyersied, plus Simon Pegg and Nick Frost showing up as their characters from Shaun of the Dead. Pegg, in-particular, is not impressed with the science or logic behind the Doof zombies. “I mean, you can’t just grow a lab coat!”
At first glance, “Mind Share” is about Phineas, Ferb, and the gang switching minds with aliens in a strange Timeshare agreement. Secretly, “Mind Share” is an elaborate homage to The Shawshank Redemption where the gang has to break out of an alien prison. If they are going to find the parts they need to get back home, they will have to seek out help from another prisoner who is fond of voiceovers and bears a striking resemblance to Morgan Freeman.
Evil scientist Dr. Doofenschmirtz’s friendly robot assistant Norm gets too eager to please his human “father” and decides to try his hand at taking over the tri-state area. He beefs up his rockets and takes over the city, singing “Weaponry,” probably the most upbeat song ever written about armament. “You can beat ‘em up by any means/Or blow them all to smithereens/A favorite of this sentient machine/Never mind the fatalities/Where there’s municipalities/To crush a set of with the threat of weaponry!”
Richard O’Brien as Lawrence Fletcher, Phineas and Ferb’s Dad
Richard O’Brien is most widely known for writing and starring in The Rocky Horror Picture Show ,as Riff Raff, and the show sneaks in references to the cult classic as often as they can. In “Curse of Candace,” Lawrence complains about the state of horror movies, saying, “This isn’t much of a horror movie. Where are all the rock ‘n roll music numbers?” There is also this great RHPS homage in “Night of the Living Pharmacists”
Linda Flynn-Fletcher, a.k.a. Lindana, the One-Hit Wonder
Phineas and Ferb are really smart kids, but they somehow missed that their mother Linda is the famed one-hit wonder Lindana. With her bedazzled denim jacket, huge hoop earrings, and catchy-but-meaningless pop song (“I’m Lindana and I Wanna Have Fun!”), Lindana is obviously a tribute to Tiffany and her 1987 hit “I Think We’re Alone Now.” There is also a nod to Madonna with her “Toy” belt buckle, a take on Madonna’s “Boy Toy” belt buckle.
“Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars”
Casual Star Wars fans will enjoy the cross-over special, but there are Easter eggs for hard-core fans, like recreating the cut scene of Luke Skywalker watching the opening battle from A New Hope or disguising Isabella’s spaceship as the Winnebago from Spaceballs. It also answers the question of what happened to all those innocent baristas, bank tellers, and bowling alley attendants on the Death Star.
“Dude, We’re Gettin’ the Band Back Together!”
“Dude, We’re Getting’ the Band Back Together!” is the first appearance of Love Händel, Danville’s favorite early 90s band. The episode revolves around Phineas, Ferb, and Candace orchestrating a Love Händel reunion for their parent’s anniversary, but first, they have to track down all three band members, Bobbi Fabulous (Reno 911!’s Carlos Alazraqui), Swampy (Steve Zahn), and Danny (Bowling for Soup’s Jaret Reddick), and convince them to get the band back together, if only for one night. There are references to Behind the Music and music of the ’80s and ’90s, most of which will go over kids’ heads. People of all ages can appreciate this catchy number featuring Steve Zahn, but this ode to the fabulousness of glam rock and fashion is for the older generations.
The fact that this episode exists at all is kind of a miracle. It completely relies on viewers being familiar with Phineas and Ferb‘s character dynamics, episode story structure, running gags, and catchphrases. I can only imagine the pitch meeting:
“So we are doing an entire episode set in the Stone Age.”
“Oh, like a time travel episode?”
“No, not time travel. It’s like the characters are themselves but if they were born as cave men, or cave women, or cave platypus. Oh, and none of the characters will speak English. They will speak exclusively in grunts.”
“And we will occasionally cut back to us, Dan and Swampy, as we’re animating the episode, and give a running commentary of how the episode is going.”
“Well…okay, I’m not sure I get it.”
“Just go with it. It’ll work… we hope.”
“Mommy Can You Hear Me?”
How many children could possibly understand this homage to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey? This is the stinger on an episode about Phineas and Ferb making a special birthday message for their friend Sergei, a Russian astronaut, and without knowing 2001: A Space Odyssey, it really makes no sense.
“The Lake Nose Monster”
Phineas and Ferb is probably the only kid’s show to have a reference to Citizen Kane, complete with snowglobe, in the middle of a homage to Jaws and Deep Blue Sea.
“The Curse of Candace”
Even though Phineas and Ferb supposedly takes place during the summer, they still get away with special Halloween episodes like “The Curse of Candace.” In the episode, a vampire-obsessed Candace thinks that she got bitten by a vampire bat and is turning into an undead bloodsucker.