Harvey Birdman, Attorney At Law is an Adult Swim cult classic about a former superhero turned lawyer. It is hinted at that, in the Hanna-Barbera animated world, being a superhero was no longer a financially profitable career by the 2000s. As a result, audiences can assume that Birdman became a lawyer to pay the bills. In all fairness, Birdman is an awful lawyer, often winning thanks to sheer luck, the equally incompetent work of the prosecution, or a lazy judge.
Harvey Birdman is a fun, quirky show that follows a winged superhero defending clients from the vast Hanna-Barbera multiverse. Even better, the show’s zaniness increases tenfold when a supervillain guest stars.
10 X, The Exterminator
There is only one man who can stop Birdman: X, The Eliminator. In a flashback to Birdman’s origin series, Birdman And The Galaxy Trio (1969), X, The Eliminator is offered $1 million for the crest of Birdman, his source of power. X, however, mishears, and brings them the crust of Birdman’s feet.
Decades later, X visits Birdman’s office to finally eliminate Birdman, only to be mistaken for X, the Exterminator. The former eliminator, turned exterminator, books a romantic date to kill Birdman, only for Birdman to callously stand him up. After Birdman hurts X’s feelings by standing him up, The Eliminator brings his ray machine to the courtroom to avenge Harvey hurting his feelings.
9 Myron Reducto
The aptly named Reducto, is a former supervillain and ex-enemy of Birdman. Reducto is often the prosecutor in Birdman’s cases. The lime green villain prefers miniature things, and often points his shrink ray at people in court to intimidate them. Reducto falls in love with a plus-size woman, despite preferring miniature things. The green attorney realizes he is in love when he finds a woman whose body he does not want to shrink. Interestingly, Reducto defines his masculinity by being the smallest man in every room.
Harvey Birdman is a show that prides itself on being shocking. The animated comedy finds its humor in stereotypes and double entendres. From the Greek, to Black, to Jewish and Zulu, the show uses caricatures of other cultures to amuse audiences. Mmm-Xh-Xh-Xh-Butu is a Zulu. He is drawn in a semi-factual manner, with a spear, a shield, and an exaggerated feather head covering, atypical of actual Zulu warriors.
There is also no need for his name to be Mmm-Xh-Xh-Xh-Butu, as the Xhosa language does not have the Xh (vocalized as a click) sound repeat more than once a syllable. The stereotypes are incredibly offensive, but can make for hilarious satire in the right hands, especially as they poke fun at everyone.
7 Wally Gator
Wally Gator was charged for the crime of being a redneck, Harvey claims. He appears before the court with a confederate flag and red baseball hat. Harvey defends the gator in court by arguing that society moved on, but Gator didn’t – and that shouldn’t be a crime. Gator, however, does commit crimes. He produces moonshine and is a public nuisance. He is proven to be a hypocrite who enjoys the conveniences of the modern world, such as $2.99 beef steaks at Costco, while asking that he not be held up to the standards of enlightenment that modern society expects.
6 Mentok The Mindtaker
Mentok The Mindtaker is another green supervillain in the Hanna-Barbera courtroom. A judge on the bench, Mentok knows what will happen in the future, because he can read people’s minds. Like Reducto, he was also Birdman’s nemesis in the original series. Mentok wears only a long shirt with purple briefs, and does not take his job as a judge seriously. He has ruled not guilty on hit and run cases where Birdman argued that his client was driving a light blue car, while the witness claimed it was a blue car.
An alien, Mentok coincidentally shares the same origin story as Superman, with two key differences. His parents are both green-skinned, and his mum warned him never to become a judge.
5 George Bush Jr.
George Bush Jr. makes an appearance as the governor of an unnamed state, leading a protest against science. The governor is angry that Captain Caveman’s son would like evolution to be on the school syllabus. He refuses. When Captain Caveman, Cavey Jr., and Harvey return to the school, GWB opens water hoses on them in retaliation. In fact, GWB supports a movement that argues that there is no need for evolution to be taught in schools, because evolution is not real, and knowledge of the subject will lead people to hell.
4 Secret Squirrel
Secret Squirrel had his own show in the ’60s. One of the Hanna-Barbera heroes, Secret Squirrel worked as a spy. When he solicits Harvey’s services, he explains that when he attempts to pull out a weapon from his trench coat to perform his spy duties, women think he is flashing them. As a result, he is on trial for indecent exposure and sexual harassment. It is later revealed that this was a lie, and Secret Squirrel had been jumping out in front of women, scaring them, then snatching his trench coat open to flash them.
3 Barney Rubble
After Fred Flintstone is arrested for being a mafia don, he comes to Harvey to seek legal representation. The episode follows the FBI wiretapping Fred’s house, mounting surveillance against him to gain evidence. A government tap with close connections to the family (the pterodactyl-lamp) testifies that Fred and his best friend, Barney Rubble, were involved in a lot of crime to make money. There was slavery, robbery, counterfeiting money, and fixing card games.
Harvey proves Fred is innocent by arguing that he is hit by bowling balls constantly, and imagines he is different characters after each accident. At the end of the episode, Harvey finds out that Barney Rubble is actually the mafia don, pulling strings in the background to hide his involvement.
2 The Justices League
The Justices League is a silly parody of the Justice League. A group of grumpy judges sitting on the supreme court, they listen to a case brought by Harvey on legalizing same-sex marriage. During the entire case, they receive calls for help from people on earth, mistaking them for the Justice League, and for the Junior League. Although people call them distressed, seeking help, the Justices League are irritated by these calls, calling the people on the other end “morons”. As judges sworn in for life to serve and protect the people, the Justices League detest the very same people whom they serve.
1 Phil Ken Sebben
Although Phil Ken Sebben is not a supervillain, he is more villainous than any other villain that appears on the show. Phil constantly hits people with his car, then flees the scene of the crime. He promotes work-based sexual harassment, and included a section in his employee training video that teaches employees how to get away with sexually harassing others. He profiles people of Middle Eastern descent and cheats with Harvey’s girlfriend. Phil framed Harvey for murder, for which he was given a death sentence. A year later, just as Harvey is about to be electrocuted on the electric chair, Phil reveals that it was all an elaborate birthday prank.