The Rock-afire Explosion Show (Johnsonverse)
The Rock-afire Explosion Show is an American animated series developed by Tim Johnson and Aaron Fechter, based on the eponymous band by Creative Engineering, which plays at all ShowBiz Pizza Place locations worldwide, with the exception of the Japanese states, as well as the Munch's Make-Believe Band and Pizza Time Players from the Chuck E. Cheese's restaurant chain, and characters from the K-On! manga. It has aired on Netflix since December 16, 2016, and all of the bands' voice actors reprise their roles, while many prolific voice actors voice newly-created side characters.
Development began in February 2015, two months after the acquisition of CEC Entertainment (now ShowBiz Pizza Time, Inc.) by Johnson Industries, though Fechter had floated the idea of an animated series based on the band in the late 1980s. It was officially announced at that year's San Diego Comic-Con, alongside the first pieces of concept art for the show, and the first teaser was released in December of that year.
Hugely anticipated, the show has been critically acclaimed for its fluid, detailed animation, its voice acting and writing, and its songs. It has been renewed to a ninth season in 2024, and has been nominated for a Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program in 2018, 2019, and 2020, winning an award in 2019; it has also won an Annie for Best Animated Television/Broadcast Production for Children that year as well. Reruns of the series have aired on The Hub's daily schedule since 2018.
The Rock-afire Explosion goes on various adventures, sometimes with Rolfe DeWolfe and his puppet sidekick and "friend", Earl Schmerle, Munch's Make-Believe Band, the Pizza Time Players, and/or Ho-Kago Tea Time, as well as other characters. Many episodes feature performances from at least one of the bands, with some of them even having all three bands perform the song.
Each episode consists of one, two, or three segments: one starring the Rock-afire, and the other segments focusing on specific characters, many of whom were created for the series. Episodes featuring only one segment feature more characters than two or three.
The Rock-afire Explosion
The core band of the series. The band hangs out in a house in the forest, and work at the ShowBiz Pizza Place next to it. They previously worked for ShowBiz from 1980 to 1992, when they refused to sell themselves to ShowBiz, who replaced them with Munch's Make-Believe Band in response, and have returned since 2015, as well as the Looney Bird's chain from 1990 to 2015 and other restaurants such as Pistol Pete's Pizza and Billy Bob's Wonderland.
- Billy Bob (Aaron Fechter) - Billy Bob is the series' protagonist. He is a kind, naïve bear clad in red and yellow overalls who owns a gas station known as Smitty's Super Service Station, in which he created a new, cheaper, consumable form of gas known as "Gasahol" to solve an energy crisis in the early 1980s, though drinking too much will result in inebriation.
- Looney Bird (Aaron Fechter) - Looney Bird is Billy Bob's sidekick who lives in an oil barrel; he is sometimes drunk on Gasahol and has a love of technology, working on machines in his barrel whenever he's not inebriated, such as a computer programming language that kids can understand and use.
- Fatz Geronimo (Burt Wilson) - Fatz is the band's pianist, and a silverback gorilla. Outspoken, Fatz has a commanding presence with a boisterous voice to match, but is shown to have a softer side as well. He also orders other members around, leading to many arguments with Rolfe.
- Beach Bear (Rick Bailey) - The band's guitarist. Beach Bear is a polar bear who is usually calm and laid back, as well as sarcastic. Oftentimes, he is the only sane person in the group along with the Chuck E.'s in Munch's Make-Believe Band and the Pizza Time Players and Mio in Ho-kago Tea Time.
- Dook LaRue (Duke Chauppetta) - The band's drummer. Dook is a brown mongrel with astronaut aspirations who is normally slower-witted, is often the butt of jokes, and tends to lose focus during the shows, causing him to miss his cues. He is fond of his cub friend Choo-Choo and his nameless pet owl.
- Uncle Klunk (Jeff Howell) - The only human member, Uncle Klunk is a backup singer and a recurring guest during their performances. He is goofy and eccentric, but well-meaning. He often warns people not to smoke Crayolas.
- Mitzi Mozzarella Jr. (Sarah Locke) - The daughter of former vocalist Mitzi Mozzarella, Mitzi Jr., though wearing a similar (but not identical) wardrobe to that of her mother, is more independent, and can also play guitar when she wants to. In addition, much as her mother was obsessed with Michael Jackson music in the 1980s, Mitzi Jr. is obsessed with Steam Powered Giraffe, which has made a guest appearance on the series in a few episodes, as well as in ShowBiz Pizza Place locations in the Japanese States. She is also the only character, aside from her mother, who regularly ages; she's 11 at the beginning of the series.
- Mitzi Mozzarella Sr. (Shalisa Sloan James) - Mitzi Jr.'s mother, and the original Mitzi from the 1980s. A retired member of the band, Mitzi Sr. is the only other character who regularly ages; she's 45 at the beginning of the series. She occasionally joins in with the band during their songs.
- Rolfe DeWolfe (Aaron Fechter) - Rolfe DeWolfe is the resident comedian wolf and the band's unofficial manager who is a clueless, greedy, and arrogant jerk to almost any character, to the point where he is the only character Fatz threatened to break the neck of, and Ho-Kago Tea Time barely tolerates him, but beneath that, Rolfe is a geek with a fondness for disco, unaware that disco is no longer in vogue. He is also an aspiring impressionist; his Fatz voice is considered subpar at best.
- Earl Schmerle (Aaron Fechter) - Earl is Rolfe's sentient ventriloquist dummy. He is always Rolfe's biggest critic, leading to spats between the duo.
- Sun (Burt Wilson) - The Sun is a backup singer, along with the Moon, with a mellow, peace-keeper attitude. He can change his voice at will.
- Moon (Burt Wilson) - The Moon is a backup singer, along with the Sun; he is depicted as snippy and obsessed with propriety. He can also change his voice at will.
- Antioch (Burt Wilson) - Fatz's pet spider who loves birthday parties and cakes, and was named after the former Antioch Center in Kansas City, Missouri, which housed the first ShowBiz Pizza Place location. He often speaks in garbles.
- Click (Burt Wilson) - Klunk's bird sidekick.
- J-Fatz (short for Jordan Fatz) (Burt Wilson) - Fatz's monkey cousin from Jordan who appears in several episodes.
- The Owl, Choo-Choo, and Birthday Bird - All silent characters who participate in the band's performances. The Owl is Dook's pet owl who resides in a stump. Choo-Choo is a bear cub who lives in a stump; his purpose is to dance to the band's music. Birthday Bird is Billy Bob's pet bird who is perched on his banjo guitar; he loves listening to Billy Bob's music.
Munch's Make-Believe Band
Created in 1990 as a successor to the Pizza Time Players and a replacement for The Rock-afire Explosion during Concept Unification, Munch's Make-Believe Band is the band that plays at Chuck E. Cheese's locations. The band is known for its similarities to The Rock-afire Explosion, as it was created to combine the best elements of them and the Pizza Time Players. The two bands have a friendly rivalry with one another, and constantly attempt to one-up each other on their songs.
- Chuck E. Cheese (Rockstar Chuck E.) (Jaret Reddick) - The current "Rockstar" incarnation, Chuck E. is the son of PTT Chuck E., and the younger cousin of the "Avenger" incarnation of Chuck E. He is a playful and energetic but somewhat sarcastic mouse who loves playing his guitar, which is his most prized possession. Chuck E. spent much of his childhood in the St. Marinara's Orphanage, where he would entertain other children on their birthdays, as he didn't know his own birthday (May 17, a reference to the opening of the first Pizza Time Theatre location in San Jose, California) until the second season episode "Happy Birthday, Chuck E.!", before moving to New York after winning $50 in a Pong tournament. Chuck E. lived in a restaurant called Pasqually's Pizza for a short while before being discovered by Pasqually, and has dedicated his time to entertaining children ever since.
- Helen Henny (Rockstar Helen) (Annagrey Labasse in Season 1, Caroline Richardson since Season 2) - The bass player, and the current "Rockstar" incarnation. Helen is in a relationship with Chuck E., and is an avid fan of arcade games.
- Jasper T. Jowls (Rockstar Jasper) (Jeremy Blaido) - The lead guitarist. Jasper is sharp-witted, and can be cynical, but is otherwise friendly. He is best friends with Chuck E.
- Pasqually P. Pieplate (Rockstar Pasqually) (Earl Fisher)- Pasqually is an Italian chef who owns the Pasqually's Pizza restaurant in New York and is also the band's drummer. He is also an aspiring comedian who is somehow even worse than Rolfe, to the point where Rolfe himself calls out Pasqually for this in the episode "America's Unfunniest Hacks".
- Mr. Munch (Rockstar Munch) (Chris Hill) - The keyboardist and songwriter. Mr. Munch is an alien from Planet Purple who is slow and dim-witted, but is well-meaning. His favorite food is pizza, and Munch can be seen eating pizza from the trash in several scenes.
- Steve Waters (Eric Neal) - Pasqually’s vocal coach. Steve acts and dresses like a stereotypical hippie or surfer. His catchphrase is an elongated "BLUE!".
- Harmony Howlette (Rockstar Harmony) (Kate Bristol) - The tambourine player from west Texas, Harmony is confident and assertive, and also tends to howl during songs and when she's excited.
- Bella the Bunny (a.k.a. Bella B.) (Caroline Richardson) - A Spanish rabbit who debuted in the third season. She is a guest character in the band.
- Copernicus - Chuck E.'s silent pet cat.
- Pizzacam - A silent camera who inhabits an oil drum. Looney Bird thinks he's copying his style, and is his arch-nemesis.
- Munch Jr. - A silent character who is a younger version of Munch.
Ho-kago Tea Time
- Yui Hirasawa (Stephanie Sheh) - The lead guitarist and vocalist of the band. Yui is somewhat air-headed and lazy, but anyone be hard-pressed to find a nicer person. Her very presence can defuse an argument, as she's too innocent for anyone to want to harm her. She also has an unusually high metabolism, as she can eat vast quantities of junk food and still walk away effortlessly. Despite her air-headedness, she is an excellent guitarist, able to play Slash's solo from Sweet Child O' Mine flawlessly.
- Ritsu Tainaka (Cassandra Lee Morris) - The band's drummer and self-appointed president of the Light Music Club. She is the source of fun and encouragement in her band.
- Mio Akiyama (Cristina Valenzuela) - The band's bassist and second vocalist, Mio is mature but cowardly, is very shy, and can be a tsundere towards Ritsu often, but in truth, is madly in love with her.
- Tsumugi "Mugi" Kotobuki (Shelby Lindley) - The keyboardist. Mugi is wealthy and gentle, and serves as the "team mom" to the group. Despite her soft exterior, Mugi is actually very strong, once beating Fatz at arm-wrestling with absolutely no effort and ending Tina Tiger's winning streak, developing a friendly rivalry with the latter in the process.
- Azusa Nakano (Christine Marie Cabanos) - The rhythm guitarist of the band. Despite being modest and having no self-esteem, she is superior to her senior Yui at playing guitar, or so she thought until hearing Yui play Slash's solo from Sweet Child O' Mine flawlessly.
- Ui Hirasawa (Xanthe Hyunh) - Yui's younger sister (they're so identical that both Beach Bear and Jasper think they're twins). She is a more skilled and mature version of her sister.
- Jun Suzuki (Michelle Ann Dunphy) - Azusa and Ui's classmate. She is generally playful and easygoing, but can be rude without realizing it.
- Nodoka Manabe (Laura Bailey) - Yui's childhood friend, Nodoka is a member of the Sakuragaoka High School's student council. She is polite and smart for her age.
Pizza Time Players
- Chuck E. Cheese (PTT Chuck E.) (John Widelock) - The original incarnation of the character from the Pizza Time Theatre days, PTT Chuck E. is the uncle of the Rockstar version and the father of the Coach and Avenger verisons, as well as the older brother of the Tux version. a New Jersey rat who is somewhat sarcastic and rude, but deep down, has a heart of gold, and is very proud of his son and nephew. Not even he knows why he, his son, and his nephew are all named Chuck E.; in one episode, PTT Chuck E. speculates that it is a "family tradition".
- Crusty (John Widelock) - PTT Chuck's straight man, Crusty was one of the original members before being replaced by Mr. Munch in 1978, one year into the band's existence. According to PTT Chuck, he was fired by Nolan Bushnell for turning Communist; fortunately, Crusty happens to be the worst Communist in the world, often shouting "DOWN WITH THE PROLETARIAT!", unaware that he himself is the Proletariat; Crusty denies that he is one, and calls anyone who points this out Proletariat.
- Helen Henny (PTT Helen) (Paula Mulcahy) - PTT Helen is the mother and original counterpart of the modern Helen. She is an old Broadway diva clad in a red dress.
- asper T. Jowls (PTT Jasper) (Scott Paulin) - PTT Jasper is the original incarnation and father of the character.
- Pasqually P. Pieplate (PTT Pasqually) (Joe Spano) - PTT Pasqually is Pasqually's Pizza Time Theatre counterpart and his father.
- Mr. Munch (PTT Munch) (Scott Wilson) - PTT Munch is Munch's Pizza Time Theatre counterpart and his father.
- Harmony Howlette (PTT Harmony) (Karlissa Hager) - PTT Harmony is Harmony's mother and original counterpart. She is a cowgirl coyote from west Texas who likes flirting.
- The King (John Bowen) - The King is a musician who is a parody of Elvis Presley.
- Foxy Colleen (Helen Reynolds) - An Irish fox who actively tries to snap back at PTT Chuck for his insults.
- Madame Oink (Paula Mulcahy) Madame Oink is a French-accented pig who would often snort whenever someone told a joke.
- Sally Sashay (Lady Bianca) - Sally is a disco-singing skunk who is mentally stuck in the 1970s, and also tries to snap back at PTT Chuck. She thinks disco is still in vogue, and when told it is no longer so, Sally simply brushes it off, leading Ritsu to nickname her "Disco Stu" after the character from The Simpsons.
- Dolli Dimples (Lady Bianca) - Dolli is a blues/jazz/piano-playing hippo who often reminisces of her former husbands.
- Artie Antlers (Jim Cunningham) - Artie is a classical rock-piano playing moose who is known for his wisecracks, often at PTT Chuck's expense.
- B.B. Bubbles (Mariette Sluyter) - B.B. is a pink elephant with a high-pitched voice who tends to giggle a lot.
- The Warblettes (Buffy Sainte-Marie) - Crows who serve as backup singers and rock side-to-side. Their names are Daisy, Maisy, and Irma.
The Hard Luck Bears
A band of bears who preceded the Rock-afire Explosion, founded in 1978. The band was one of Creative's early talents.
- Aaron Fechter as Billy Wilbur, Billy Bill, Billy Boy, Billy Bob, Pete and Repeat Thornsberry, Mama Granbags, and Gooney Bird - Billy Wilbur is Billy Bob's long-lost half-brother. He is the guitarist for the band. Billy Bill is the band's pianist. Billy Bob (not related to the bear) is the washtub bassist. Pete and Repeat Thornsberry are brothers who formerly worked at Smitty's Super Service Station until it was sold to Billy Bob in 1980. Mama Granbags is the mother of Billy Wilbur, Billy Bill, Billy Boy and Billy Bob. Gooney Bird is Looney's long-lost half-brother.
An alien rock band, and the equivalent of the Rock-afire. They live on the Moon, as their name suggests, and work at an advanced rocket ship there. They attempted to make it big in the late 1980s, but were unsuccessful.
- Burt Wilson as Orc - The band's keyboardist, and the alien version of Fatz. Like Fatz, Orc has a commanding presence on stage.
- Duke Chauppetta as Ozone - The band's drummer, and the alien version of Dook. Like Dook, Ozone is slow and dim-witted.
- Rick Bailey as Quasar - The laser guitar player, and the alien version of Beach Bear. Like Beach Bear, Quasar is laid-back and loves surfing. His favorite food is lizards.
- Shalisa James as Princess Haley - The band's vocalist, and the alien version of Mitzi Sr. Like Mitzi Sr., Haley is obsessed with gossip, boyfriends, and music.
- Rock Baby and Moon Bat - Silent characters who are the alien versions of Choo-Choo and Antioch, respectively.
The Confederate Critter Show
An early Creative band. Once a cult favorite, they have been forced to play in obscure (often run-down) clubs since the backlash against the Confederate flag in 2015.
- Aaron Fechter as Major Mosby Greyhound III - The piano player of the Confederate Critter Show. Greyhound is Freddy's identical twin brother.
- Aaron Fechter as General Cornelius Bearpatch - The guitar player of the Confederate Critter Show.
- Aaron Fechter as Colonel Stonewall J. Fox - The banjo player of the Confederate Critter Show.
Wolf Pack 5
The Rock-afire Explosion's predecessor, the Wolf Pack 5 played at the first ShowBiz Pizza Place location in the Antioch Shopping Center in March 1980, as The Rock-afire Explosion wasn't ready yet, though Billy Bob was allowed to interact with customers despite not being allowed on stage. Beach Bear was the only member carried over to The Rock-afire Explosion.
- Burt Wilson as Fats Gorilla - Fats was the band's pianist. He was replaced by his cousin Fatz Geronimo when it was retooled into the current band.
- Aaron Fechter as Queenie Fox - Queenie was another Wolf Pack 5 member, and the female vocalist. One day, when the executives at ShowBiz Pizza Place wanted a mouse to go with the pizza theme, Queenie was reluctantly fired from the band.
- Aaron Fechter as The Wolfman - The Wolfman was another member of the Wolf Pack 5; he was replaced by his half-brother Rolfe and his ventriloquist dummy Earl in the Rock-afire Explosion.
- Duke Chauppetta as Dingo Starr - Dingo was another member of the Wolf Pack 5, and was the band's drummer. He was replaced by his cousin Dook LaRue.
- Aaron Fechter as Mini Mozzarella - Mitzi Sr.'s older sister who was a member of the Wolf Pack 5, briefly replacing Queenie, before falling ill; her sister was initially a stand-in during early rehearsals for the Rock-afire, before Mini decided to let her sister permanently replace her after being impressed, though she always cheers Mitzi Sr. on.
Pizza Time Players (Mexico)
- Scott Wilson as Ratón Vaquero - PTT Chuck E.'s younger cousin from Mexico. He is a sarcastic, wisecracking rat, like his cousin, and worked for a ShowBiz Pizza Fiesta location in the 1980s, before being carried over to Boomis Pizza Fiesta.
- Paula Mulcahy as Tete - PTT Helen's cousin from Mexico. Like PTT Helen, Tete is a performer who acts like a diva.
- Scott Paulin as Elote - PTT Jasper's cousin from Mexico. He is also a farmer, like his cousin.
- Joe Spano as Venancio - PTT Pasqually's cousin from Mexico. He is a chef, like Pasqually, though he serves Mexican food instead of Italian.
- Scott Wilson as Sr. Munch - PTT Munch's cousin from Mexico.
Recurring and minor characters
- Aaron Fechter as Mitzi Mozzarella (1980) - 1980 Mitzi appears in the Season 5 premiere "The Time Machine", in which the band accidentally goes back to 1980.
- Aaron Fechter as Beach Bear (1980) - 1980 Beach Bear appears in the Season 5 premiere "The Time Machine", in which the band accidentally goes back to 1980.
- Aaron Fechter as Friendly Freddy - Freddy is a black bear who plays a guitar. He was one of Creative's earliest talents.
- Burt Wilson as Santa Claus - Santa Claus is a guest member in Christmas episodes. He bears an uncanny resemblance to Uncle Klunk.
- Tara Strong as Eliza - Eliza is a 12-year-old girl who likes skateboarding, and is easily excitable. She is friends with Mitzi Jr.
- Roger Craig Smith as Jon Read - Jon is a 15-year-old who likes playing video games. He also likes to play basketball in his spare time.
- Kate Higgins as Gloria Eaton - Gloria is a 14-year-old basketball player who is Jon's girlfriend. She is very excitable and acts wild.
- Joe Alaskey as Happy Fox - Happy is an orange fox. He is a Bob Clampett/Tex Avery-esque screwball who often torments his victims, but can't bring himself to harm Yui, which even he complains about; Happy also loves to eat steak, and is known for his catchphrase "What's the skinny, neighbor?", a parody of Bugs Bunny's iconic catchphrase "What's up, doc?"; Alaskey has voiced Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and other Warner Bros. characters in various Looney Tunes movies, television series, and video games after the death of Mel Blanc.
- Eric Bauza as Wendy Fox - Happy's girlfriend. She is known for her high-pitched voice, and is Happy's female counterpart, looking the same as him, but with feminine features and hair, a white long-sleeved jacket, different gloves, and a red silk dress over it with matching pumps.
- Jeff Bergman as Sappy Fox - Happy's brother, Sappy is based on Tex Avery's Droopy Dog, with an eternally downtrodden facial expression and mannerisms, but can (and will) put up a fight when needed, often succeeding against his enemies.
- B. J. Ward as Kailyn Deer - Kailyn is a seductive deer who is based on leading ladies of the 1950s such as Marilyn Monroe.
- Tress MacNeille as Maisie Moose - Maisie is a jungle-loving moose who distrusts technology; she is rivals with Looney Bird.
- Billy West as Bobby North - Based on West himself, Bobby is a voice actor who can do a great number of voice impressions. His name is a play on West's.
- Rob Paulsen as George "Goofball" Green - George is a green-colored pony who, as his nickname suggests, is a goofball. He is a frequent target of Happy Fox's antics for being naïve.
- Jim Cummings as Orson Quinn - Orson is a media mogul who owns thirty-six television networks, ten radio stations, 142 real estate properties, hundreds of brands and licenses, and "several senators".
- Erica Lindbeck as Rose Raccoon - Rose is a rich, snobbish raccoon who owns a mansion and a yacht. Despite this, she is known to be kind to others.
- Dan Castellaneta as Darvin Thomas - Darvin is a dim-wited, gullible bank clerk who is constantly exasperated. He also likes eating cookies.
- Dan Green as Jimmy Jackrabbit - Jimmy is a lumberjack. He is soft-spoken most of the time, but when he does speak, he has a deep baritone voice.
- Mike Pollock as Dr. Dolph Frizz - Dr. Frizz is a mad scientist who constantly makes evil schemes in a bid for world domination, but thanks to his own ineptitude, always fails. He is described as an "even more pathetic and benign" version of Dr. Eggman from the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise.
- Quinton Flynn as Dr. Stein Stachio - Dr. Stachio is Dr. Frizz' meek assistant. He is often unwitting and when he knows he's being used for experients, he often begs to be let out.
- Constance Shulman as Honey Hedgehog - Honey is a pretty hedgehog who, despite her feminine looks and mannerisms, isn't afraid to get her hands dirty when need be.
- Cheryl Chase as Tina Tiger - Tina is a brash, somewhat egotistical tiger who loves boxing. She claims she's never lost a fight, but loses in the episode "Human Bears Tiger" after challenging Mugi to a match (as Mugi is deceptively strong, stronger than even Fatz), though she vehemently denies it, and hates it being brought up.
- Ed Asner as Walter Echidna - Walter is an elderly echidna who is cranky, but kind-hearted.
- Jess Harnell as Connor Crow - Connor is a crow who often relays messages to other characters.
- Donald Fullilove as Walden Lynx - Walden is a lynx who, despite his menacing looks, is actually a nice person.
- Mary Jo Catlett as Gerri Giraffe - Gerri is an elderly, grandmotherly giraffe.
- Fred Willard as George Giraffe (Seasons 1-6) - George is an elderly giraffe, and Gerri's husband. He is kind and grandfatherly, and is jovial. He will be demoted to non-speaking roles after the 2020 death of Fred Willard, who recorded his lines for Season 6.
- Chelsea Peretti as Gina Giraffe - Gina is George and Gerri's rebellious granddaughter who is surprisingly adept at poetry.
- Sherri Stoner as Brooklyn Bear - Brooklyn is a cranky, wisecracking bear from Brooklyn, New York who is based on Slappy Squirrel from the Animaniacs television series, even using the same voice Stoner previously used for Slappy.
- Atticus Shaffer as Caesar Lion - Caesar is a sarcastic lion who is the son of King Zeus XIV, and is set to become King of the Jungle one day.
- Yuri Lowenthal as Frederic La Monte - Frederic is a French aristocrat who often schemes to get prime real estate, but is often foiled.
- Alex Désert as Arnold Phoenix - Arnold is an action movie star who is feisty, having a no-nonsense attitude. He is based on Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.
- Norm Macdonald as Texas Tom - Texas Tom is a cowboy horse from Texas who is based directly on the late Burt Reynolds, who Macdonald famously impersonated in the Celebrity Jeopardy! skits on Saturday Night Live.
- Kate McKinnon as Calamity - Calamity is Texas Tom's girlfriend, who is also a horse. She is excitable and peppy, loves taking care of her stables, and has a rebellious streak.
- Adam West as Super Bird (Seasons 1-3) - Super Bird is a bird-themed superhero who acts under the secret identity of Kevin Peters, a doctor in education. Because of his age, he has several screws loose. He was voiced by Adam West, who portrayed the title character in the 1966 Batman television series, and was retired after West's passing in 2017; after Season 3, Super Bird was reduced to non-speaking roles, with Bird Boy doing all of the talking whenever the duo is seen together; Super Bird's few vocal effects such as grunts were provided by uncredited voice actors.
- Burt Ward as Bird Boy - Bird Boy is Super Bird's young ward. Acting as Kevin's star pupil Bradley Corsack, Bird Boy is voiced by Burt Ward, who portrayed Robin in the 1966 incarnation of Batman. He is less senile than Super Bird.
- Keith David as President Alan Keith - The President of the United States in-universe. President Keith is charismatic and laid-back, and cares for his country.
- Nolan North as Vice President Jim Nolan - The Vice President of the United States in-universe. Vice-President Nolan is a brash, somewhat short-tempered politician, but agrees with Keith on his agendas and even comes up with certain plans on his own.
- Duncan Brannan as Chuck E. Cheese (Avenger) - The "Avenger" incarnation of Chuck E., he is a washed-up street performer who was replaced by his cousin in 2012 for being "a relic of the worst part of the 90s", first appearing in the episode "The Avenger Strikes Back". In the episode, Avenger Chuck E. is out to sabotage his cousin's career so he can become famous again, by getting Rockstar Chuck E. on helium, but accidentally blowing it on himself so he is on helium, dropping a sandbag on him but missing, slamming a mallet on him, but hitting himself, and trying to make Rockstar Chuck E. eat so much junk food, he'd be unable to move, by buying up all the food in a supermarket and placing it in a giant basket, but Yui gets to the food first, eats it all in a flash, and walks away thanks to her high metabolism. In the end, he makes up with Rockstar Chuck E., and becomes a recurring character in the series; he is seen in the opening sequence beginning in Season 4. Jim Cummings voiced Avenger Chuck E. throughout much of the episode, as Avenger Chuck E. was wearing a dark black cloak hooded over his head along with a dark red cape, with red eyes, black gloves, and black shoes being his only discernible features. He was first hired in 1993 to replace his PTT-era counterpart, wearing a "coach" outfit, before he started wearing his "Avenger"-era outfit in 1997.
- Scott Wilson as Chuck E. Cheese (Tux Chuck E.) - The early 1990s incarnation of Chuck E., he appeared in the Season 5 episode "More Versions of Us".
- Annagrey Labasse as Helen Henny (1990s) - The 1990s incarnation of Helen, she appeared in the Season 5 episode "More Versions of Us".
- Bob West as Pasqually P. Pieplate (1990s) - The 1990s version of Pasqually appeared in the Season 5 episode "More Versions of Us".
- John Bowen as Mr. Munch (1990s) - The 1990s version of Munch appeared in the Season 5 episode "More Versions of Us".
- Bob West as Jasper T. Jowls (1990s) - The 1990s version of Jasper appeared in the Season 5 episode "More Versions of Us".
- Jaret Reddick as Tyler Weston - Tyler is the lead singer of Tyler and the Sabres. He is friends with the Chuck E.'s, and is directly based on his voice actor, Jaret Reddick, who also voices Rockstar Chuck E.
- Al Pacino as Salvatore "Sal" Felino - A parody of real-life Mafia dons, Sal is a Persian cat who leads a feline Mafia family known as the Felino Crime Family in the Season 5 episode of the same name. He is based on both Vito Corleone from the 1972 film The Godfather and real-life Mafia don John Gotti; much like Corleone, who is an importer of olive oil, Felino is also an importer of Italian cheeses and wine. He has it out for Mugi's father, but nobody knows why, not even Mugi.
- Joe Pantoliano as Antonio "Toni" Gattino - The consigliere of the Felinos, who is an American Shorthair. Toni cares for his boss, and has a short temper; he especially hates himself or his boss being insulted.
- Debi Mazar as Francesca Gattino - Toni's wife, who is a Ragdoll. Francesca hates the mob life and openly wants out.
- Toni Sirico as Roberto "Bobby" Felino - A tuxedo cat, Bobby is Sal's brother who is a heavy chain smoker. He is the Underboss of the family.
- Michael Madsen as James "Jimmy" Gatto - A Siamese cat, Jimmy is the caporegime of the family. He is calm and soft-spoken, but violent.
- Chick Vennera as Josef "Joe" Petz - A Nebelung cat, Joe is the leader of the Petz crime family, the Gattinos' sworn enemies. He is cold and calculating, and has placed a hit on Sal.
- Maurice LaMarche as Maury "Moe" Petz - Joe's brother, Moe is the Underboss of the Petzes.
- John Stephenson as Gary Peters - Gary is an elderly man who comes from the 25th century.
- Cathy Cavadini as Cecilia Carrotcakes - Cecilia is Klunk's number one (and only) fan.
- Sonia Manzano as Verónica de Francisco - Verónica is a Hispanic ibex who runs a fast food restaurant chain known as McFly's.
- Yuri Lowenthal as Randy Price - Randy is a Billy Mays-esque salesman for a brand of drinking water known as X Water. He is hammy and is recognizable by his green polo shirt and gray slacks.
- Richard Karn as Richard Tools - Richard is a toolman who runs an improvement facility near the suburbs. He wears a red flannel shirt, a reference to Karn's character Al Borland in Home Improvement.
- Frank Welker as Hugo Hamster and various animals - Hugo is a ditzy hamster who loves cheese, and is surprisingly knowledgeable on cheese, having memorized various types and regions. Welker voices various animals in the series as well.
- Wink Martindale as Daniel Nova - Daniel is a game show host who hosts a quiz known as "The Cheesy Show" in the Season 5 episode of the same name.
- John O'Hurley as King Zeus XIV - The father of Caesar, King Zeus XIV is the King of the Giggly Forest. He is dignified, serious, and strict, but fair to his subjects.
- Dolly Parton as Eliza Elf - Eliza is one of Santa's elves, appearing in the Season 1 episode "A Rock-afire Christmas". She is peppy and takes her job seriously.
- Alex Trebek as himself - Trebek appeared in the Season 4 episode "Quiz Troubles" as the host of a quiz bowl Rolfe, Earl, Nodoka, Texas Tom, and Happy Fox all participate in; he is exasperated by Texas Tom and Happy Fox's antics.
- Little Richard as Shorty - A rock singer who likes his guitar, Shorty is directly patterned after his voice actor. He was retired after the fifth season due to Little Richard's death.
- Johnny Depp as Longcoat Bunny XVIII - Longcoat is a rabbit spy who has a variety of gadgets at his disposal. He is a parody of James Bond.
- Cedric the Entertainer as Officer Fedora - Officer Fedora is Longcoat's superior. He is directly patterned on his voice actor, Cedric the Entertainer.
- Amy Poehler as Bunny Babbitt - Bunny is Longcoat's wife. She often helps her husband with his plans, but isn't afraid to take action on her own.
- Burt Reynolds as himself - Reynolds appeared in the Season 3 episode "Reynolds v. Tom", in which he squared off against Texas Tom, believing him to be an impostor or a deluded wannabe. Reynolds ad-libbed most of his lines with Macdonald, many of which were shown as outtakes in the Season 3 home video release, with a dedication to Reynolds.
- Nolan Bushnell as himself - Bushnell appeared in the Season 2 episode "Pong Championship", in which he plays a Pong tournament with the bands, and loses to Helen; Bushnell hands her a golden Pong arcade cabinet.
- Paul McCartney as himself - McCartney appeared in the Season 5 episode "Earl is Dead (to Me)", in which he performs with the Rock-afire Explosion, and convinces Rolfe (who idolizes him) to reconcile with Earl after a falling-out between the two.
- Jim Carrey as Bob Walkman - Bob is a standard Jim Carrey-type character: exaggerated movements and facial expressions, hammy delivery, and charisma. He is an expert in classical music.
- Orson Bean as Eddie Russo - Eddie is a washed-up celebrity, with the Rock-afire Explosion helping him get his career back on track. He was retired after the death of his voice actor, Orson Bean, in February 2020; he had recorded his lines for the fifth season.
- Greg Burson as Yogi Bear - Yogi appears in the episode "Bear Reunion", in which he finds out the Rock-afire he met was an alternate universe version, with different voices; this is a jab at the showtapes ShowBiz Pizza Time, Inc. produced themselves in the 1985-86 period, as well as the 1987 Yogi Bear showtape, which were produced without any involvement from Creative Engineering, Inc., as these were notorious for having off-sounding voices, shoddy programming that often resulted in embarrassing errors such as characters singing with the wrong voices, and an overly-positive feel compared to CEI's tapes.
- Eric Bauza as Boo-Boo Bear - Boo-Boo appears in the episode "Bear Reunion", in which he helps Yogi get to know the real Rock-afire.
- Isabella Bennett as Rabbit - Rabbit, as with the rest of the band, appears in one episode each season: "Rabbit's Misadventures" in Season 1, "The Band Comes Back" in Season 2, "The Steam Punks" in Season 3, "Trouble with Robots" in Season 4, and "Reunion Tour" in Season 5. As with her portrayal in the band, Rabbit is the glitchiest of the robots, and is very ditzy.
- David Bennett as The Spine - The Spine is a futuristic dieselpunk robot who serves as the straight man to the robots' antics, but sometimes joins in on them.
- Bryan Barbarin as Zer0 - Zer0 is a musical automation built by Peter Peter Walter I in 1896.
- Sam Luke as Hatchworth - Hatchworth is a brass automation with a mustache.
- Jon Sprague as The Jon - The Jon is an art deco-style brass robot powered by soda, mainly Crystal Pepsi.
- Erin Burke as Upgrade - Upgrade is a pink stylized robot. She daydreams of growing up and becoming a princess or a hover tank. Despite her name, she was last upgraded in the 1990s (and still thinks pogs are in vogue though viewing them as a delicacy).
- Tim Johnson as himself - Johnson appears in the Season 3 episode "The Johnsons Cometh!", in which he and Chloe check in on the band, only to find them missing.
- Chloe Johnson as herself - Johnson appears in the Season 3 episode "The Johnsons Cometh!", in which she and Tim check in on the band, only to find them missing.
- Aaron Fechter as himself - Fechter appears in the Season 3 episode "The Johnsons Cometh!", in which he makes a cameo in the ending. He also appears at the end of the hour-long special "Quest for the Lost Ruby" in Season 5, which was produced in celebration of the band's 40th anniversary.
- Burt Wilson as himself - Wilson appears at the end of the hour-long special "Quest for the Lost Ruby" in Season 5.
- Rick Bailey as himself - Bailey appears at the end of the hour-long special "Quest for the Lost Ruby" in Season 5.
- Duke Chauppetta as himself - Chauppetta appears at the end of the hour-long special "Quest for the Lost Ruby" in Season 5.
- Jeff Howell as himself - Howell appears at the end of the hour-long special "Quest for the Lost Ruby" in Season 5.
- Shalisa James as herself - James appears at the end of the hour-long special "Quest for the Lost Ruby" in Season 5.
- Sarah Locke as herself - Locke appears at the end of the hour-long special "Quest for the Lost Ruby" in Season 5.
The idea of a Rock-afire Explosion cartoon was first floated in the late 1980s, and was one of the reasons Fechter refused to sign over the rights for the characters to ShowBiz Pizza Time, Inc., in addition to the company's assumption that Fechter would do so for little-to-no cost; he would cut all ties with the company in September 1990, feeling that the band would be prepared for film, television, and record deals, which never happened, and Concept Unification occurred.
Production began in earnest in February 2015 (two months after Johnson Foods' acquisition of CEC Entertainment, Inc., which was renamed back to ShowBiz Pizza Time, Inc.) after months of negotiations. Johnson and Fechter made sure that the series would not be an advertisement for ShowBiz Pizza Place, Chuck E. Cheese's, or their products, instead opting to make them incidental locations within the series; it was also decided to use other bands besides The Rock-afire Explosion, including prior CEI bands such as The Hard Luck Bears and Wolf Pack 5, as well as to feature no political references; Johnson reportedly once said to the writing staff during a luncheon that "politics do not belong on any Creative Engineering band, period". Johnson and Fechter themselves serve as the showrunners, and are executive producers alongside Kathleen Helppie-Shipley, best known for her work with Warner Bros. Animation and the Looney Tunes series, and Bobs Gannaway, known for writing and producing television series for Disney such as Timon & Pumbaa (1995-1999) and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (2006-2016).
The series was announced at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2015 by Johnson and Fechter, along with a showing of the first concepts for the show. The first teaser, showing Billy Bob and Looney Bird introducing themselves to the viewers, was posted on February 22, 2016, along with a full cast list. The announcement was met with praise, both on social media and on various fan sites such as Retro Pizza Zone. By the time the series premiered, the second season was mostly completed, and development was underway for a third season, which was released in 2018, along with additional episode scripts. It was also announced that the series would air on Netflix, with reruns airing on The Hub beginning in 2018.
All of the voice actors for the Rock-afire Explosion, Munch's Make-Believe Band, and Ho-Kago Tea Time reprise their roles for the series. The Rock-afire Explosion's voice actors record at the Creative Engineering headquarters in Orlando, Florida, Munch's Make-Believe Band's voice actors record in Texas, and Ho-Kago Tea Time's voice actors record at 4K Studiopolis in Los Angeles, California. The voice of Happy Fox is Joe Alaskey, best known as the voice of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and other characters in various Looney Tunes projects since the 1990s, using a voice similar to his Daffy voice, albeit without the trademark lisp and somewhat exaggerated. Mike Pollock voices mad scientist Dr. Frizz, who was described by Johnson as "an even more benign, pathetic version of Dr. Eggman". Duncan Brannan (the voice of Chuck E. between 1994 and 2012) reprises his role as the 1997-2012 "Avenger" incarnation of the character as well; said incarnation is depicted as Rockstar Chuck E.'s brother.
Other cast members are based in either California, New York, or Vancouver, Canada, and in many cases, guest stars record separately from the other actors, mainly at the Johnson Recording Studios building in San Jose, California. Scott Wilson, the voice of Chuck E. between 1982 and 1990, voices his Pizza Time Theatre counterpart, who is depicted as the father of the "Rockstar" incarnation, as well as the uncle of the "Avenger" incarnation and the brother of the "Tux" incarnation, of the character, while all of the other voice actors for Pizza Time Players reprise their roles as well. Former Saturday Night Live cast member Norm Macdonald voices Texas Tom (using the voice he famously used for his impression of the late Burt Reynolds in the series' Celebrity Jeopardy! sketches), a cow in a cowboy outfit, while fellow SNL cast member Kate McKinnon voices Texas Tom's girlfriend, Calamity, also a cow. The don of the Felino crime family, Sal Felino, is voiced by Al Pacino, best known for portraying Michael Corleone in The Godfather (1972) and Tony Montana in Scarface (1983), while Joe Pantoliano voices short-tempered consigliere Antonio "Toni" Gattino, Debi Mazar voices Toni's wife Francesca, Toni Sirico voices Underboss Roberto "Bobby" Felino, and Michael Madsen voices Caporegime Jimmy Gatto.
Guest stars for the series have included Johnny Depp as rabbit spy Longcoat Bunny XVIII, Cedric the Entertainer as Longcoat's superior, Officer Fedora, John O'Hurley as Caesar's father, King Zeus XIV, Wink Martindale as game show host Daniel Nova, the late Little Richard as Shorty, a rock-singing horse, the late Orson Bean as washed-up celebrity Eddie Russo, and Nolan Bushnell, Burt Reynolds, Paul McCartney, and Alex Trebek all appearing as themselves in one episode each.
The Japanese-language dub features well-known names such as Bin Shimada as Billy Bob and Looney Bird, Mitsuo Iwata as Dook, Toshiyuki Morikawa as Fatz, Ryūzaburō Ōtomo as Beach Bear, Emi Motoi as Mitzi Jr., Naomi Shindo as Mitzi Sr., Kōichi Yamadera as Rolfe and Earl, and Hiroshi Tsuchida as Chuck E., with the cast of K-On! reprising their roles; the Latin American dub of the series, provided by Audiomaster 3000, has that language's voice actors reprise their roles as well, including Humberto Vélez as Billy Bob, Alejandro Mayen as Fatz, Edson Matus as Beach Bear, Gerardo Vásquez as Dook, Mariana Ortiz as Mitzi Jr., Patricia Acevedo as Mitzi Sr., Juan Carlos Tinoco as Rolfe, Alan Prieto as Earl, and Mario Castañeda as Chuck E. In all cases, the cast of K-On! in that language reprise their roles.
The writing team consists of Johnson, Fechter, Wilson, regular Johnson writers Robby Victors and Jennifer Tennville, Rachel Ramras, former Sesame Street writer Sonia Manzano (who also voices the character Verónica de Francisco), Animaniacs writers Sherri Stoner and Paul Rugg, former Simpsons writer John Swartzwelder, Happy Tree Friends writers and former Sonic the Hedgehog English translators Ken Pontac and Warren Graff, and former SpongeBob SquarePants writers Merriwether Williams, Aaron Springer, Dani Michaeli, Kent Osborne, Zeus Cervas, Richard Pursel, and Paul Tibbitt, while Springer also serves as the story editor. Some episodes use guest writers as well; for example, the episode "Meet the Fatzes" was guest-written by Dan Castellaneta (the voice of gullible bank clerk Darvin Thomas) and his wife, Deb Lacusta, in addition to Johnson, Fechter, and Wilson.
All music is composed by Michael Tavera in association with Creative Engineering, Inc., with songs typically being written by Fechter, Wilson, Reddick, and/or Johnson, though other writers have written songs as well. The theme song was written by Fechter, Wilson, Reddick, and Johnson, and performed by the Rock-afire Explosion, Munch's Make-Believe Band, and Ho-kago Tea Time, with background vocals by Scott Wilson, Tara Strong, Tress MacNeille, Shalisa James, Dan Green, Joe Alaskey, and Eric Bauza, as well as Kate Bristol since the third season and Duncan Brannan since the fourth season. Some songs are also performed by the band Bowling for Soup, of which Reddick is the lead singer.
The animation is produced by Johnson Television Animation; with a budget of $150 million per season, this is one of the highest-budgeted productions from the studio. Veteran animator Eric Goldberg is one of the directors, alongside Rich Moore, Terry Lennon, Darrell Van Citters, Milt Gray, former animator Greg Duffell, and Chuck Jones protege Stephen Fossati, while Derek Drymon and Jeff Degrandis serve as supervising producers. The characters have realistic shading, and have slight drop shadows behind them to emulate cel animation, with their outlines even being made to resemble brush strokes. Most of the characters were designed by artist and Rock-afire Explosion fan Andrea Nieves, who also serves as one of the storyboard artists, having also created the character Cecilia Carrotcakes. The K-On! characters are animated separately by Kyoto Animation using their original artstyle, with Naoko Yamada directing the K-On! characters' animation. Almost all vehicles are hand-drawn as well, with some complex vehicles being live-action models designed by Detective Jenny vehicle designer John Kirkland. The animation is notable for its use of squash-and-stretch as in Disney and Warner Bros. cartoons of the Golden Age of Animation, though the K-On! characters and real-life guest stars largely stay on-model and are said to be immune to slapstick because they exist on a different plane of reality from the others.
Before production began, many artstyles were proposed and/or tested, before it was decided to narrow the possible choices down to four possible artstyles; the fourth concept, which was a drawing of the band by Nieves from 2011, was ultimately chosen; there are notable differences from the eventual series such as Looney Bird lacking a visible neck, as well as the use of the 2008-2015 logo for the band instead of the current version. Additionally, the "Avenger" Chuck E.'s design is exactly the same as in the commercials and almost all official materials between 1997 and 2012. The artstyle for guest band Steam Powered Giraffe is noticeably different than the one on The Steam Powered Giraffe Show, as this series predates the latter; once The Steam Powered Giraffe Show began airing, the new artstyle was implemented in Season 5, the change being explained as "a makeover".
|Season||Release date||Episode count|
|1||December 16, 2016||13|
|2||December 8, 2017||13|
|3||December 21, 2018||13|
|4||December 13, 2019||13|
|5||December 4, 2020||13|
Before release, the first teaser trailer and all subsequent trailers and previews received positive reception from critics and fans.
The series has been critically acclaimed. On Rotten Tomatoes, the series has a score of 100%, and on Metacritic, it has a perfect 100 as well. Entertainment Weekly called it "one of the best things to come out of the ShowBiz Pizza Place resurrection", while also stating that "with a great team of writers and animators, (The Rock-afire Explosion Show) is positioned for future success". In addition, it has also seen positive reception from fans of the band and the ShowBiz and Chuck E. Cheese chains, along with fans of the K-On! anime.
Viewership for the series has been consistently high since its first season. It has been one of the most-watched series on the platform, and has garnered high ratings via reruns on The Hub.
The series has been nominated for Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards for Outstanding Animated Program in 2018, 2019, and 2020, winning in 2019 for the episode "The Avenger Strikes Back", and won an Annie Award for Best Animated Television/Broadcast Production for Children in 2019, while Goldberg won another Annie for Outstanding Achievement for Directing in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production in 2020, as did Locke for Outstanding Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production.
|Emmy Award||2018||Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program||Tim Johnson
|Annie Award||2019||Best Animated Television/Broadcast Production for Children in 2019||Won|
|2020||Outstanding Achievement for Directing in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production||Eric Goldberg||Won|
|Outstanding Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production||Sarah Locke||Won|
Various soundtrack albums, containing songs written specifically for the series, were released. Many are sold at ShowBiz gift shops.
The first four seasons have been released on DVD, Blu-ray, and USD, with a variety of bonus features. Commentaries from Fechter, Johnson, and a member of the main cast as a band member (whether they're from the Rock-afire Explosion, Munch's Make-Believe Band, Ho-kago Tea Time, the Pizza Time Players, or the Moonrockers) in-character (depending on the episode) are included, in addition to deleted scenes, footage from voice acting sessions, and storyboards. The fifth season will be released on home video on March 1, 2021. Like the CDs, the home video releases are also commonly sold at ShowBiz gift shops as well.