Many automakers get cameos in animated series, but Tesla has a special status among them.
Automakers are often used in animated series to highlight a certain aspect of a character’s life or to add extra depth to a certain situation. One example that springs to mind is Andy Anderson’s Rambler from the 1990s TV show ‘Life With Louie’ or the Toyota AE86 driven by Takumi Fujiwara and used to deliver tofu in ‘Initial D.’
However, Tesla isn’t like other automakers, and its portrayal in animated series (which are usually comedies at heart that often resort to gross exaggerations to get their message across) is different compared to traditional automakers. In fact, the way Tesla is shown in these series suggests that it has a special status; it’s a disruptor of our understanding of traditional automakers and this has both positive and negative connotations.
Each time a Tesla has appeared in an animated series, the creators’ idea was to drive home a specific point, and this would not have been possible if Tesla didn’t have the notoriety it has today. And the image of Tesla is intrinsically linked to that of its founder, Elon Musk, who often has cameos alongside cartoon portrayal of his cars (and he even voices some of them himself). Musk certainly shows he has a sense of humor and he clearly doesn’t shy away from making fun of himself, his companies and his ideas.
Please note that some of the videos embedded below are not safe for work, although you’re probably reading this at home as COVID-19 continues to affect the world.
Both Tesla and Musk make an appearance in the final episode of the twentieth season. The episode is called ‘The End of Serialization as We Know It’ and the gist of the plot revolves around the four main protagonists’ visit to the SpaceX facility in California where Cartman tries to convince the staff there that colonizing mars will lead to the enslavement of males by females.
Elon Musk, who voices his own character, appears in two additional episodes in the same season, the eighth episode called ‘Members Only,’ as well as the ninth episode called ‘Not Funny.’
Elon also made a previous appearance on the show, in the fourth episode of the eighteenth season. Here, he’s voiced by one of the show’s creators, Matt Stone, and he drives a Model S with a big Tesla tower sticking out of the back. His help is enlisted by Nathan and Mimsy (the episode’s villain and his idiot sidekick) who plan to stop Handicar, a (parody of a) ride hailing service and it all leads to… Wacky Races.
The Model S also appears in ‘World War Zimmerman,‘ the third episode of the seventeenth season. Oh, and if you like all of this, then you might want to check out the second episode of the tenth season called ‘Smug Alert‘ which focuses on the smug attitude of people who drive hybrids towards those that don’t.
The only Tesla Model X shown in any animated series is present in American Dad. It looks like it’s an early prototype Model X and it doesn’t have a particularly happy fate – an alligator lands on it and wrecks its roof; those Falcon Wing doors definitely won’t work after that.
Those who posted about this brief Model X appearance in American Dad say the car is present in the ninth episode of the twelfth season of the show. However, I watched most of that episode and I did not see it – but there is a screenshot to prove it is in the show, just not in that particular episode, and since it’s modeled off the early prototype, it’s probably an older episode. In this case the fact that the car is a Tesla doesn’t appear to carry any major significance.
Last but not least is the appearance of a Model S driven by Elon Musk in the popular raunchy Netflix-exclusive animated series Paradise PD. This show tells the tales of some… not very good cops who are either incompetent or not very well-intentioned in their efforts to fight crime.
Elon is shown driving a Model S in the sixth episode of the first season, and just like in the Simpsons, the scene focuses on how the Autopilot semi-autonomous driving function can be misused. The scene is a bit graphic and certainly not safe for work, but you can check it out in the video posted below and keep in mind its goal is clearly to raise awareness about the dangers of being too reliant on Autopilot.
Did we miss anything?
If you’re aware of either an Elon Musk cameo or a Tesla being in an animated series and it’s not in the above list, then let us know and we will add it. This article is the definitive guide to Elon Musk and Tesla in TV animations and we want it to have all the information available.
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