Homestar Runner

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Cartoons

Flash series

The Homestar Runner logo
Homestar Runner
Devised by The Brothers Chaps
Animated by The Brothers Chaps
Voiced by The Brothers Chaps
Missy Palmer
Launch date New Year's Day 2000
Website Homestar Runner

Homestar Runner is a Flash cartoon series. It mixes an absurdist sense of humor with references to 1980s and 1990s pop culture, notably video games, classic television and popular music. Although originally conceived as a book written for children, the site is perhaps most popular with youth and preteens, although it does have its share of young adults.

Cartoons are nominally centered on Homestar Runner, a terrific yet unintelligent athlete. The series of cartoons in which the antagonist Strong Bad answers email from viewers, called Strong Bad Email, is the most prominent feature of the site. The site has also grown to encompass dozens of other characters.

The site has been referenced in other media, such as the final episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and has been reviewed in National Review.


Homestar Runner was brought to life in Atlanta in 1996 by two college students, Mike Chapman and Craig Zobel, who were working during the summer in jobs related to the 1996 Summer Olympics. On a day off, they visited a bookstore where they found that the state of children's books was dismal.

Intending to parody this, they wrote the original story The Homestar Runner Enters the Strongest Man in the World Contest. This story featured Homestar Runner, Pom Pom, Strong Bad, The Cheat, and a few characters that are rarely seen in the Homestar Runner world today(The Robot, Senor Havin' a little trouble(or Senor), and the Grape Fairy to name a few.). This hand-drawn book was the only incarnation of the characters for several years.

They later used Mario Paint, a Super Nintendo video game to create the first cartoon of this series. By 1999, Mike and his younger brother Matt (who typically call themselves " The Brothers Chaps") were learning Flash and looking for something to practice on. Digging out the old children's book provided a solution. By January 2000, was live. Matt provided the voices of the male characters, while Missy Palmer (then Mike's girlfriend, now his wife) provided Marzipan's voice. Regarding the origin of the name "Homestar Runner", Matt had this to say, from an interview with Kevin Scott:

Homestar Runner
It actually comes from a friend of ours. There was an old local grocery store commercial, and we live in Atlanta, and it advertised the Atlanta Braves. It was like, "the Atlanta Braves hit home runs, and you can hit a home run with savings here!" And so there was this player named Mark Lemke, and they said something like "All star second baseman for the Braves." And our friend knows nothing about sports, and so he would always do his old-timey radio impression of this guy, and not knowing any positions in baseball or whatever, he would just be like, "Homestar Runner for the Braves." And we were just like, "Homestar Runner? That’s the best thing we’ve ever heard!"
Homestar Runner

The friend mentioned is Jamey Huggins (band member of Of Montreal) who was a childhood friend of the Brothers Chaps while growing up in Atlanta (Dunwoody).

Homestar was once called The Homestar Runner, now only in the "Old-Timey" cartoons, but the title has since changed to Homestar Runner. The site grew slowly at first, but by mid-2001 it began to take off with the first Strong Bad email. The number of visitors to the site grew, and by March 2003 the site had outgrown its original web host, Yahoo. Currently, merchandise sales pay for all of the costs of running the website as well as living costs of the creators, whose retired parents manage many of the business aspects.

"The Brothers Chaps" have a creative freedom that they would not have doing a regular TV show, because they run their own website and refuse to put their characters onto the small screen. Originally, they developed Homestar Runner as a labor of love, and for their own amusement. Though the site sells Homestar merchandise, it has no commercials—in fact, a few of the cartoons parody advertising, with products like "Fluffy Puff Marshmallows", and advertisements for the cartoon Cheat Commandos (a parody of G.I. Joe and of other 1980 films), where viewers are encouraged to "buy all our playsets and toys!"

Though the internet was initially the only mechanism for viewing Homestar Runner, the first 100 Strong Bad e-mails were released on DVD on November 8, 2004. The strongbad_email.exe box set retained the various hidden features of the Macromedia Flash originals. Also included were three unreleased emails, two music videos, commentary tracks by the characters and their creators, and other features. A fourth collection of e-mails on DVD was released separately on July 25, 2005, and a toons DVD called "Everything Else, Volume 1" was released on November 14, 2005. Volume 2 of this collection was released on October 27, 2006.

On January 30, 2006, Podstar Runner was launched, allowing people to download select Strong Bad Emails and Teen Girl Squad episodes to a video-enabled iPod. Once made available through iTunes' podcast directory, they very quickly took the #1 slot on Apple's "Most Popular" podcast list.

On August 21, 2006, the 10th anniversary of Homestar Runner was celebrated with the release of a brand new big toon, a remake of the plotline of the original Homestar Runner book, entitled Strongest Man in the World.

Strong Bad Emails

Traditionally the most popular features on Homestar Runner are semi-regular Strong Bad Emails. The format has remained essentially unchanged: it is a series of cartoons in which Strong Bad receives an email from a fan or viewer, and starts typing his response (generally in a mocking way; criticizing names, hometowns, and grammar), and usually turns into a short cartoon. Strong Bad usually responds to an email on a weekly basis, nearly always on Mondays.

Some features of the site, such as Teen Girl Squad, and the very popular Trogdor games/cartoons/references, originated in Strong Bad Emails. Strong Bad emails are updated frequently, and as of November 13, 2006 there are currently 161 emails, although this doesn't include the extra emails found in the DVD extras. Some concepts in the cartoon parody real world problems, such as his famous FLAGRANT SYSTEM ERROR, which, in the Homestar Runner world, is the equivalent to a Blue Screen of Death.

Other "sub-cartoons"

The Homestar Runner world features several "sub-cartoons" and spin-offs. These cartoons take place outside the normal Homestar Runner world, and the main characters of the normal cartoons do not necessarily appear in them. When they do, it is often not in the same way they appear in the Homestar Runner world — each of the main characters also has two alter-egos that appear occasionally: a futuristic anime-style (20X6) alter-ego and an Old-Timey (at this point in time, Old-Timey is 1939) alter-ego.

There is a huge host of other minor characters who sporadically appear in various emails and the other recurring mini-cartoons (listed below). Some of these characters are Senor Cardgage, Trogdor, Marshie the Marshmallow (spokes-thing for Fluffy Puff Marshmallows), Stinkoman (anime parody), The Goblin (usually appearing in Halloween-themed toons), The "Sweet Cuppin' Cakes" cast (from a "crazy" cartoon Strong Bad invented), Da Huuuudge, (a failed made-up animal attempt by Strong Bad), Sterrance (Strong Bad's final result of attempting a made-up animal) and the band Limozeen.

Teen Girl Squad

Teen Girl Squad is a crudely drawn comic strip narrated by Strong Bad, using a high-piched, girly voice. It began after Strong Bad received an email asking him to make a comic strip of a girl and her friends. The comic features four archetypal high-school girls, parody evident in the characters' nondescript names: "Cheerleader", "So-And-So", "What's-Her-Face", and "The Ugly One". In their quest to become unique and popular, the characters are bland and monotonous. Though they are just stick figures, Strong Bad often subjects them to gruesome and unusual deaths which are described with words using in a "'D" suffix -- like "LATHE'D!", which means their deaths were caused by a lathe, or "MANIAC IN A SPEEDO'D!" which means they were killed by a maniac in a speedo with a chainsaw. Later, three months after the email, new Teen Girl Squad episodes were made. Presently, there are eleven episodes, the tenth one being colored and in 3-D, since it celebrates the strip's "tenthennial issueversary". In many episodes, one can click on the "O" and/or the "!" of the ending screen where it states "(Now) It's Over!" to see extra footage, much like the "Strong Bad Emails". The Teen Girl Squad comics also have a recurring theme which features an opening sequence a flock of birds in the background who are always killed in some obscure and gruesome way (ex: the Sun turns into a buzzsaw and chops them to pieces).

Li'l Brudder

Li'l Brudder originated in a drawing created by Strong Bad for the sole purpose of making Homestar Runner cry. He is a puppy with only one leg who dreams of being a quarterback. His motto is "I can make it on my own." His debut was in Strong Bad Email 109 entitled "Crying". . He recently starred in his own cartoon, where he was met by his friend Tendafoot, a two legged elephant. Tendafoot was created when Strong Sad asked Strong Bad if Li'l Brudder meant "little brother", implying that Strong Bad saw him as analogous to a one-legged dog. Strong Bad replied that he saw Strong Sad as more of a two-legged elephant named Tendafoot who could "power a small city with [his] whining" (which Strong Sad admits "[he] probably could").

Sweet Cuppin' Cakes

Sweet Cuppin' Cakes is another cartoon created by Strong Bad in response to an email request. The cartoon, designed to be as "kah-razy" as possible is largely based on Eastern Europe avant garde cartoons from the 1980's. It takes place on a surreal multi-colored plane resembling a disco dance floor. Violation of reality is the miniseries' forte. The central character is Sherlock, "a cross between a cow and a helicopter" who communicates through a series of weird noises and spends each episode trying to catch a worm that crawls in and out of the ground. Other characters include " Eh! Steve", an anthropomorphic polygon with a swirly mouth and a Greek pattern on his body that appears once an episode to deliver his eponymous catch phrase, "Eh! Steve," and the Wheelchair (voiced by Bubs), whose goal in life is to destroy Eh! Steve. Strong Bad also placed himself in the cartoon, although his head is an old Casio VL-Tone keyboard. Whenever he becomes angry, it plays the demo (the German folk song "Unterlander's Heimweh"). Also featured is another small, anthropomorphic polygon named "Ready for Primetime" with blonde tufts of hair that, according to Homestar, does a "tiny, tiny dance". This "tiny, tiny dance-man" is based on the "Ready for Primetime" eyebrow style Strong Bad made for Strong Mad in the e-mail entitled "haircut" (hence the name). Upon seeing it, Strong Mad said "SWEETY CAKES!", and Strong Bad remarked that "it does look a little bit like one of them 'Sweet Cuppin Cakes' guys."


Some cartoons take place in an "old-timey" setting, sometimes referred to as 1936, with most of the Homestar Runner characters having direct counterparts in the Old-Timey universe. These cartoons are in black and white with film grain and scratchy, noisy sound. They parody the distinctive style of animated cartoons during the 1920s and 1930s, and can at first be seen as perhaps purposely unfunny, to make a slanted joke about such old-style cartoons. One such cartoon features an original song by the comedic a cappella ensemble Da Vinci's Notebook.

Stinko Man K 20X6

Stinko Man K 20X6 (pronounced "Twenty Exty-Six") is yet another cartoon in response to an email, asking Strong Bad what would he look like if he was a Japanese cartoon character. The main character, Stinkoman, is an anime version of Strong Bad with blue hair, a shiny body, and "cool robot boots". He goes around looking for "a challenge, or maybe some light fighting". His features are based on the popular conception of stereotypical characters of anime and Japanese video games (predominantly Mega Man) held by non-fans. Also featured are the stylized versions of Homestar (" 1-Up", also goes by "Kid"), Pom-Pom (" Pan Pan", colored like a panda) The Cheat (" Cheatball", talks with only his name, like Pokémon) and Marzipan (heavy Sailor Moon influence, though she only appears once; she also does the "Yatta!" victory pose of Street Fighter's Chun-Li). Another character has been remade into his 20X6 counterpart, though his exact name and full appearance has not been revealed. This character is Coach Z (white face with twitching eye). Another character introduced in a short toon, Stickly Man, is a parody of the "under construction" GIF seen on many websites. Stickly Man is prone to shovelling pudding. Some fans believe that Stickly Man is the 20X6 version of The Poopsmith because of this, but any connection between the two has been hotly contested. Furthermore, his appearance fighting with Stinkoman doubles as a spoof on the popular Xiao Xiao series of Flash animations, which detail stick figures in highly animated, effects-laden battles of martial arts and firearms with one another. There is also the dragon "Trogador", parody of Trogdor. He is found in the toon "Happy Trogday".

The name "Stinkoman" is a reference to Strong Bad email 52 entitled "island". In the cartoon Homestar and Strong Bad end up stranded on an island in the middle of the ocean, and Homestar accidentally calls Strong Bad "Stinkoman". The year 20X6 is a reference to the ambiguous year 20XX in which the Mega Man series takes place (21XX for the Mega Man X series), and also the Atari 2600. It may also be a reference to the first Metroid game, which takes place in 20X5. The series also draws inspiration from Dragon Ball Z, Ranma ½, Street Fighter 2, Sailor Moon and others. The Stinkoman theme song is one of the selectable stage tunes from the NES-game Rad Racer (written by Nobuo Uematsu) with "neo- Japanese" lyrics (i.e. "Challenge and fighting and fighting that challenge tonight!").

The games section of the Homestar Runner website includes a Stinkoman 20X6 side-scrolling video game in the style of early 1990s Nintendo or Sega games. It is especially similar to Mega Man games. It also includes mock Engrish phrases such as, "And other victory for Stinkoman." As the site is updated, new levels are being added to the game, extending its playability as well as adding new features (a shmup level, introducing 1-Up (who is Homestar Runner's 20X6 counterpart) as a playable character, new pages into the " manuél", etc.).

Powered by The Cheat

Some shorts are portrayed as being drawn by The Cheat, who has his own distinctive animation style that he produces on his old iMac-like computer, "Tangerine Dreams" . The drawings usually consist of an amalgam of clashing textures, pixelated JPEGs used as objects, and uncoordinated voices. The cartoon characters also have amorphous appendages. This style has appeared in many forms, such as in Strong Bad e-mails, cartoons, even its own welcome page. In Powered by The Cheat segments, Mike Chapman provides intentionally poor imitations of his brother Matt's normal voice work. The animation style itself is designed to mock stereotypical amateur flash animation, and features simple tweening instead of frame-by-frame animation and purposely has an unpolished, rushed look that is common in that setting. Some of the humor in these clips require some knowledge of flash creation to understand, such as items being placed on the wrong animation layers and parts of the scenery of one scene remaining visible into the next scene.

Note that these animations clue us into The Cheat's fantasies and insecure personality. Strong Bad Email #87 ("Mile") is an ideal example of what he most desires yet cannot possibly possess. The Cheat shamelessly elevates his status in the eyes of others through praise given by his boss Strong Bad while Marzipan finally gives him the attention and affection he has been craving. (Notice that the two rarely exchange words outside of a fabricated Flash universe.)

Cheat Commandos

The Cheat Commandos are a fictional line of action figures that all resemble The Cheat wearing different outfits. The Commandos are an extensive parody of the popular '80s version of the G.I. Joe action figures and cartoon. As with G.I. Joe, the Cheat Commandos figurines are all nearly exactly the same; the cartoon has silly dialogue, bad animation, mindless action sequences, and stereotypical characterization; and the entire series exists to sell merchandise (The Cheat Commandos theme song ends with, "Buy all our playsets and toys!"). The Cheat Commandos fight an evil organization known as Blue Laser (or Blue Lazer), a clear parody of G.I. Joe's arch-nemesis Cobra, and its hopelessly incompetent and hotheaded leader Cobra Commander (known in the UK as "Red Laser"). The series parodies some other elements of G.I. Joe's cartoons, such as the dispensibility of the "green helmets", or the fact that the Cheat Commandos' computer screen can at any time display where Blue Laser is and vice versa, including in each others' hideouts.

The Cheat Commandos were inspired by the Strong Bad Email "Army", in which Strong Bad commands The Cheat to spy on Homestar Runner and his Homestarmy (Strong Sad, Homsar, a painting of a man holding a big knife, and a hot-air popcorn popper), poised to attack Strong Badia. The Cheat is dressed in his black commando gear, and demands to be referred to as "Firebert", which Strong Bad reluctantly does, though "it's just not a good commando name." An Easter egg in this email shows Firebert's action figure package, which is also featured in the first Cheat Commandos cartoon.

Holiday specials

Several episodes have been dedicated to special days of the year. For example, every Halloween, a cartoon is released that features all the characters in costumes celebrating some traditional aspect of Halloween (such as ghost stories, trick-or-treating, or pumpkin carving). The characters' costumes have gotten famously esoteric in recent years, full of obscure pop culture references. For example, in 2005 Strong Bad dressed up as Jambi, the Genie from Pee-Wee's Playhouse.

On April Fool's Day 2005, fans were greeted with a page which stated that fans would be required to purchase a membership to continue viewing the site. The page contained a full "Tour" which parodied paid membership websites. It also featured 3 short clips (Homestar counting to seven; a Strong Bad email segment; and a Teen Girl Squad/Sweet Cuppin' Cakes crossover episode) and a "trial version" game which lampooned Space Invaders. On the same day in 2004, the main page was replaced with an "Under Construction" page which turned out to be a 20X6 cartoon in disguise. In 2003, the main page was replaced with a King of Town main page.

For April Fool's Day 2006, the entire website and all of its content was turned upside down. This caused problems with some of the content of the site – many pages which were of a different size so the default 550x400 would not be centred properly, and some pages with a lot of ActionScript would fail, including many of the older games. This also caused problems with the Strong Bad E-Mail menu. It caused an empty e-mail list and a nonworking Random button. But some of those were fixed a few minutes or a few hours after releasing the upside down pages.

The characters also celebrate an annual holiday called "Decemberween", which features gift-giving, carol-singing, and decorated trees. The fact that it takes place on December 25th has been presented as just a coincidence, stating that Decemberween traditionally takes place "55 days after Halloween". In 2004, however, the traditional Decemberween toon was replaced with a Decemberween in July toon in July, a clear parody of Christmas in July.

Other holidays include New Year's Day, "The Big Game" (around the time of the Super Bowl), St. Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, "Senorial Day" (a reference to Senor Cardgage and Memorial Day), Flag Day, Independence Day (which Homestar calls "Happy Fireworks"), Labor Day, and Thanksgiving. Most holiday cartoons are archived on the Toons page and can be accessed using the "Holiday" button on the top right of the remote.

Puppet stuff

Some sketches use live-action puppets of Homestar, Strong Bad, and The Cheat. From time to time, the characters are featured with a little girl known simply as Little Girl, actually the niece of The Brothers Chaps. Several "Puppet Stuff" sketches feature Homestar Runner singing with members of the rock band They Might Be Giants. Furthermore, the Chapmans themselves occasionally make cameo appearances with their own characters in various skits, most notably in the puppets' appearances on the Strongbad_email.exe DVDs as bonus features and Easter eggs. This DVD set also contains extensive puppet content including a scene in which Homestar Runner plays Mike Chapman in a game of basketball.

Marzipan's Answering Machine

These are the messages left on Marzipan's answering machine by Homestar, Strong Bad, Strong Sad, and others of the town. The messages are not updated as frequently as Strong Bad's emails. They tend to include prank calls from Strong Bad as well as calls of various sorts from other characters. Also in the early Answering machine, it hints that some of the other characters are in love with Marzipan, probably because she's the only girl in the Homestar Runner universe.


An 80's hair metal band that acts as a recurring segment. This features The Brothers Chaps and others as the band, all voice-overed by Matt. Strong Bad brandishes a tape of their short-lived Saturday morning cartoon in one e-mail, and apparently voice-chats with the lead singer. Limozeen is not simply a hair metal band; they are the ultimate stereotype of the hair metal genre, as evidenced by the lyrics of their song "Because It's Midnite".

Online video games

Homestar Runner offers a variety of online games that feature one or more of their characters. The first games were simple in nature and are now found under Super Old Games-n-Such. Among them are the "Homestar Talker", a Soundboard starring Homestar, and "Spin n' Say", a variation on the popular children's toy of the same name. Also, at the end of the email, Duck Pond, you can play the duck pond simulator featured in the game. More recent games have been released as products of " Videlectrix", a side project of the brothers. These games are far more complex, spoofing many popular 80's videogames. Their greatest gaming endeavor, " Peasant's Quest", is an adventure game featuring a young peasant (in short pants) named Rather Dashing, who vows to kill the destroyer of his cottage: Trogdor. The game uses a system that is a near replica of Sierra Entertainment's Adventure Game Interpreter, used in King's Quest, Space Quest and several other early Sierra titles. The most recent addition to the website is " Kid Speedy", a 2-D racing game. You are an overweight kid running a foot race against other athletes. One video game known as StrongBadZone, originating in the Strong Bad Email " video games", started the Internet catchphrase "Your head a splode." The phrase, used by the game as a game over message, is a reference to translation errors in Japanese games imported to an English speaking country, such as " All Your Base Are Belong To Us".

The December 2005 issue of Wired Magazine claimed that a new Homestar Runner video game would soon be coming to the Atari 2600, but this has yet to be seen. The interview with the Brothers Chaps by Bobby Blackwolf reported that the game was in limbo because the game's developer, Paul Slocum, was getting overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work and was pushing the limits of the Artari 2600. The price was set at $40.

They Might Be Giants music videos

The Brothers Chaps have partnered up with the rock band They Might Be Giants to produce a music video for their song " Experimental Film", available on the website. Other TMBG songs have found their way onto the website in the form of "Puppet Jam", a subset of "Puppet Stuff", where Puppet Homestar rocks out with TMBG.


The site receives several million hits a month, and almost a thousand emails a day. According to Matt Chapman, "Certain bands, like fairly popular bands and stuff would link us on their site and, you know we were shockwave site of the day a couple of times over the years."

A review published in the National Review characterized the site's humor as having "the innocence of slapstick with sharp satire of American popular culture" — humor that "tends to be cultural, not political." Free Country is "definitely a guys' place, where video games, monster trucks, and smashing things take priority over sensitive male themes." is the "Internet equivalent to The Yellow Kid, the comic introduced by Richard Outcault in the New York World in 1896.


The Chapman brothers have created a very large collection of collectable merchandise, ranging from t-shirts to DVDs. The most popular item in their store is the Strong Bad Sings CD, which mostly includes songs sung by Strong Bad (but also includes songs by other characters). Also available in the store is the collectable figurines of the website's characters. There are two different sets of figurines available that feature the main Homestar Runner characters, and another set for the Cheat Commandos.

The Homestar Runner Wiki

Homestar Runner Wiki logo

The Homestar Runner Wiki, commonly abbreviated to HRWiki, is a Homestar Runner wiki fansite running on MediaWiki software. It was founded on October 7, 2003 and is owned and operated by Joey Day. The wiki was originally powered by WikkiTikkiTavi wiki software. After users began signing up, and content grew, it was moved to its own domain, and upgraded to its current format running MediaWiki on July 16, 2004. The HRWiki is not affiliated with The Brothers Chaps, though they often use the Wiki to help them remember their own continuity. They have praised it on multiple occasions and once even donated money to it.

The Homestar Runner Wiki contains detailed information on all of the Cartoons, Strong Bad Emails, Games and Characters from the main site as well as other minutiae. These articles include full Transcripts, Easter Eggs, Fun Facts and Trivia, DVD Commentary Transcript and Links to external resources. A complete list of items sold in the Homestar Runner Store along with detailed descriptions of the items, prices and even mistakes found in the page. Other pages found on the wiki include Secret Pages, Places, Running Gags, Inside Jokes and Cartoons no longer on the site. The Homestar Runner Wiki recently acquired the domain made famous by the First Time Here? cartoon. This site will eventually become the Homestar Runner Community Portal.

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