You would think that every pop culture creation would come about one of two ways: as the result either of sudden inspiration from a creative genius, or of a laborious corporate process involving dozens of designs and focus groups. But in reality, famous creators have ideas the same way the rest of us do: via random thoughts, laziness, or last-minute desperation. For example ...
6G.I. Joe's Snake Eyes Was Created To Save Paint
Snake Eyes, the silent ninja commando from the G.I. Joe series, has been a fan favorite ever since his debut, because children love characters who wear cool helmets and never say anything. And hell, look at him!
Eat your parentless heart out, Batman.
But Snake Eyes' popularity is made all the more remarkable by the fact he only exists because a toy company was too cheap and lazy to paint a damn action figure.
And somewhere, a young Quentin Tarantino gets the idea for The Gimp ...
G.I. Joe started as a comic, but it wasn't long before toy company Hasbro's profit senses started tingling, and they began to belch out action figures in a stream of screaming plastic vomit. But soon, the toys would come first, then were inserted into the comic as characters -- they were simply a bunch of generic soldier designs painted different colors and hastily given names and backstories, because children don't give a shit.
The most impressive thing about Hasbro's G.I. Joe line was their dedication to maximizing their profit margins, and nowhere is this more evident than the design for Snake Eyes. To save money, they didn't even paint the toy. It was churned out entirely in the same shade of black as the plastic that came out of the vat. Their explanation? Oh, he's a ninja or something.
Because all ninjas carry MAC-11s and wear mini-satchels.
Amazingly, in spite of the fact his creation took less effort and imagination than putting a cape on a potato, Snake Eyes went on to become one of the most beloved characters in the Joe franchise. "He's so dark and mysterious!" Sure, kids. Oh, and look, here's his "invisible motorcycle"! Vroom!
5Batman's Harley Quinn Was Created For A Throwaway Joke That Was Never Used
Warner Bros. Animation
Most fans know that Harley Quinn, one of the most popular characters in the Batman universe, did not originate in the comics. Her first appearance was in Batman: The Animated Series, in one of the rare examples of an adaptation that donates a character to the source material, sort of like how Norman Reedus was created for The Walking Dead TV show and gradually began to appear in other movies.
But in case you think that Harley Quinn was brought about by some stroke of creative genius, think again. Her creators never had anything significant in mind for her. She was made solely because the show's writers needed the Joker to have a female henchman in order to make one gag in a single episode make sense. And then they didn't even wind up using the joke.
Or her original design, thankfully.
Quinn's first appearance in the series came in the 1992 episode "Joker's Favor." The idea was that the Joker would make an attempt on Commissioner Gordon's life at his birthday party by having a girl with a gun jump out of a giant cake, effectively ruining the Commissioner's big day. Harley Quinn was created to be the person in the cake. You may recognize this as the same role Erika Eleniak played in Under Siege.
Warner Bros. Animation, Warner Bros.
'92 was a big year for faux-pastry eroticism.
But while the episode was already in production, the writers decided that it would be funnier to have the Joker himself pop out of the cake rather than some ditzy dame, so they changed the script to make that happen. Rather than go to the trouble of removing Harley Quinn completely, since they'd already written her into the script and everything, they diminished her role to that of a background member of Joker's gang, fully intending to never use the character again.
To everyone's surprise, viewers loved Harley Quinn, so the writers brought her back for future episodes, and her popularity grew to the point that DC comics made her part of the official Batman canon. Granted, the official Batman canon also includes Batman turning into a weretiger and the Joker becoming an Iranian diplomat, but still.