"Captain N: The Game Master" has not had a new TV episode since 1992. It hasn't been on TV since probably 1993. So, why does it continue to have a lot of fans? I hope to answer that question in this essay.
First, let me clarify some things about the fan base. It's not as tightly organized as fandoms such as those for "The Prisoner", "The X Files", "The Transformers", etc. Yet, at the same time, it's more tightly organized than any of those three fandoms. Confused? Well, I'll try to explain. The Captain N fandom is more tightly organized, because there are only 2 large websites devoted to the series: The Unofficial Captain N Home Page and The Captain N Network. There are other, smaller sites and some info on other sites, but my site and Webster Swenson's sites are the largest. In this way, the fandom is one of the tightest fandoms on the Internet.
At the same time, however, the Captain N fandom is very loosely organized, and that's what the majority of this commentary is about.
How could a cartoon series with such idiotic characters, mischaracterizations, and other inaccuracies remain popular? Sure, Captain N isn't as popular as Transformers or G.I. Joe, but it's got a decent-sized fanbase. So, why is it popular? Simple: it's based on a larger source material: video games.
Fans of Captain N usually ended up getting a Nintendo Entertainment System and the game series featured on the show (Mega Man, CastleVania, Kid Icarus, Metroid, Punch-Out!!, etc.). Fans of the games tuned in to Captain N and either liked it or didn't. Even if they didn't like it, though, they probably liked Captain N himself.
So, there are two main origins of Captain N fans: those who watched the show first and those who played the games first.
I'm of the former origin. I was surprised when I fired my Zapper, and a laser beam (or, at the very least, a light beam) didn't come out. I was surprised that Mega Man was blue. I'm sure that a lot of fans of this origin experienced the same shocks.
Of course, there are newer fans, too: kids who watched their older siblings' or parents' tapes, kids who saw the show in reruns, etc. That explains the large number of Captain N fans in their early teens.
The Captain N fandom is extremely varied. The fans vary in their tastes, preferences, beliefs, likes, and dislikes regarding the subject matter. Fans of opposing views may be friends. Unfortunately, a lot of Captain N fans are immature, believe that their way is the only way, and fight anyone that disagrees with them.
Through all of the personalities, beliefs, and subsects, the Captain N fandom exists in a loose manner. It exists on message boards, on Usenet, in a largely-unrelated IRC channel, on FanFiction.Net, and on lots of websites.
A large part of any fandom is, of course, fan fiction. In the case of Captain N, fan fiction is probably the largest part of the fandom - or at least the very vocal minority at The Captain N Network would have us believe. I don't know of any other fandom where this is the case. Webster refuses to put even one episode online for everyone to download, rotating it once per week. Instead, the episodes are kept on Webster's IRC channel, where we must participate in their lame, unrelated, moronic conversations to have the priviledge of downloading Captain N episodes.
Fanfics supercede even the cartoon source material as the means by which the Captain N online fandom survives. I started the online fandom by creating my website and IRC channel, a common meeting place for fans. I breathed new life into the series with my fanfics. Of course, the responses varied (as discussed in my lengthy essay, "A Critical Analysis of the Captain N Fandom"). Captain N fans took sides. Battlelines were drawn. Wars began. It sounds ridiculous, and it is.
Fanfics vary wildly in content. Writers draw on many different video games, cartoons, anime, and other sources for their ideas. I'll discuss Captain N fan fiction in detail in a later commentary.
The basic concept of Captain N is so open-ended that fans apply whatever they want to it. A lot of Captain N fans are anime fans. This results in Captain N / anime fanfic crossovers and anime-style Captain N artwork.
As I said, fanfics supercede the cartoons in the Captain N fandom - at least for the vocal fans. The term "fandom", in this case, I take to be a shortening of "fan domination". Fan material is the dominating presence in the Captain N fandom, not the canon TV series itself.
So, to answer the question of this commentary, how did a collection of loosely-tied, plotholed, badly-written stories about idiotic "heroes" who sometimes do evil things mutate into something so popular? Simple: the fans took it over and changed it, not talking about the parts they hate and adding their own spin on it. Gotta hand it to Christianity. Oh, wait, we're talking about Captain N, not the Bible. Sorry.