Daria—a Beavis and Butt-head spin-off—starred Daria Morgendorffer as the reincarnation of Dorothy Parker, a teenager placed back into the world in cartoon form and forced to endure life with her family and a high school which, for the most part, did not catch on to the fact that she was making fun of them with her acerbic wit. The series ran for five seasons on MTV beginning in 1997. Here are some facts about the show even Sick, Sad World doesn’t know.
1. DARIA WAS NAMED AFTER A CLASSMATE OF MIKE JUDGE’S.
Mike Judge (creator of Beavis and Butt-head) knew a Daria in school; he called her “Diarrhea.” The character was created in response to an MTV directive. It was decided by the Beavis braintrust that the Daria character should be a mixture of Janeane Garofalo and Roseanne's Darlene Conner. “Morgendorffer” was the maiden name of an MTV writer’s mother.
2. SHE WAS DRAWN TO RESEMBLE A REAL GIRL, TOO.
For Daria's look, Judge referenced Darlene Conner again. After others tried and failed to come up with a design Judge liked, John Garrett Andrews sketched the first drawing of who audiences would come to know as the future protagonist, on a paper plate left over from a lunch meeting. "It was a version somewhat inspired by my girlfriend senior year of high school, a smart but shy teenager with a sarcastic wit named Lindy Regan," admitted Andrews.
3. MIKE JUDGE WASN’T INVOLVED WITH DARIA.
Judge was busy working on King of the Hill and Beavis and Butt-head Do America when MTV asked for his blessing to create a spin-off for Daria. Judge told Andrews, “It’s okay with me as long as I don't have to do anything." Years later, Judge told The A.V. Club he “wasn't crazy about some of the people they hired,” and accused the network of “trying to show that they could do something without me. A normal network would never do that kind of stuff, unless you were a real a**hole to them. I feel like Beavis and Butt-head helped a lot of these people's careers, then they do this series without even consulting me on it. But I heard the show is pretty good. I think Glenn Eichler was a good choice to write on it. I've honestly never seen more than two or three minutes of it.”
4. THE THEME SONG WAS BY A BAND WHOSE ONLY ALBUM WAS RELEASED TWO YEARS BEFORE
Daria co-creator Susie Lewis Lynn found a copy of Splendora's 1995 album, In the Grass, on her desk and asked the band to produce some demos. Out of the four demos, Lynn chose “You’re Standing On My Neck” to serve as Daria's theme song.
5. THE ORIGINAL PILOT WAS FIVE MINUTES LONG.
“Sealed With a Kick” was a pencil test to see what the show could be, for both the staff and for the network. The school was “Modern Day High,” and in very un-Daria-like fashion, Daria smiles not once, but twice (once when she gets the idea to trick school jock Kevin, then again when she's following through with the plan).
6. IT TOOK 35 ARTISTS TO MAKE EACH EPISODE.
The animation work was done in Korea. It took 10 months to produce each half-hour episode.
7. THE WRITERS GOT SOME OF THEIR TEENAGE LINGO FROM MAGAZINES.
Daria writer Neena Beeber told The New York Times that while it was easy for writers in their thirties to relate to the psychology of a disaffected 16-year-old girl, they sometimes pilfered language from sources they wouldn't normally pay attention to. "In the episode I just wrote ["The Lost Girls”], we used the word 'jiggy,'" Beeber said. "And this sounds pathetically white-bread and thirtysomething, but I think I found it on the editorial page of Jane magazine and thought: 'Huh. Why not use that, whatever that is?'"
8. A LOT OF THE CHARACTERS WROTE BLOG POSTS ON THE SHOW’S OFFICIAL WEBSITE.
Staff writer Anne Bernstein wrote most of the website material, which co-creator Glenn Eichler then edited. They were all considered canon for the show, including the reveals of Tiffany and Stacy’s last names (Blum-Deckler and Rowe, respectively). Posts included Daria’s “Net Nodule of Negativity,” Brittany’s cheerleading tips, Jane’s artwork gallery, and Quinn’s poetry.
9. THE VOICE OF DARIA WAS ALSO THE VOICE OF MTV’S DAILY UPCOMING SHOWS CALENDAR
10. TOM WAS ADDED BECAUSE IT WASN’T BELIEVABLE FOR DARIA NOT TO HAVE A BOYFRIEND.
It also gave the writers new storylines to explore after three seasons of the show.
11. THE END OF THE SERIES FINALE WASN’T CANON.
The screen captures at the conclusion of the TV movie Is It College Yet? (2002) showed the main characters in scenes from the future, which included Daria and Jane becoming talk show hosts. "They were just for fun,” Eichler said. Back in 1997, Eichler joked to The Washington Post that Daria's future profession would be “a story editor of a cable show.”
12. A MYSTIK SPIRAL SPIN-OFF ALMOST HAPPENED.
A script was commissioned and written by Eichler. Then MTV closed its animation department, and the project was dropped. The script of the pilot was a feature on 2011's DVD box set. In what would have been the first episode, the band moves from Lawndale to Mirage, a “cool town” resembling Seattle, Austin, or the East Village, and tries their luck there.
13. THERE WAS TALK OF A REVIVAL.
When Beavis and Butt-head made its comeback in 2011, Van Toffler—the then-head of Viacom, MTV's parent company—told reporters that he was in discussions with the creators of Daria about bringing the show back. There have been no updates since.