Can you believe it has been 20 years since a ginger boy genius fused atoms in our hearts? Cartoon Network debuted its first fully animated original series in 1996 with "Dexter's Laboratory," about a boy who is as smart as he is diminutive. He's the OG child prodigy in cartoonlandia, paving the way for Phineas and Ferb, Jimmy Neutron, Johnny Test, and other smart-alecky permutations.
|Dexter's Lab...on the surface.|
According to canon, Dexter and his family live in a town called Genius Grove. In real-life America, that would be Santa Monica or somewhere in Silicon Valley. The median erudition in these places is off the charts; you could find a future Dexter or Mandark here.
Dexter might live in suburban America but you won't be able to place his accent stateside. While fan theories chalk up his peculiar speech to Asperger's syndrome, it's actually rooted in the Russian diaspora. Creator Genndy Tartakovsky and his family emigrated from Moscow to Ohio in the late 1970s.
|Welcome to Silicon Valley, where cerebral minds hold court.|
Genndy clearly took his fish-out-of-water experience to the bank. Dexter was actually modeled on his brainy big bro Alex, now a computer scientist. Growing up in a predominantly Russian neighborhood in Chicago, Genndy would pester Alex, engrossed in his science projects.
That's right. Dee Dee is Genndy in the real world.
Wherever Dexter's Laboratory is, behind someone's bookshelf in Illinois or under a nondescript house in California, our neurons are still firing up with fondness for this whiz kid decades later. Genndy has since moved on from Dexter to Dracula. Don't worry, as we've triangulated his digs too.
|There's a sizable Russian neighborhood in Chicago's Ukrainian Village. Photo via Adam Jones|