‘Inspector Gadget’: One Fan Theorized That Penny Was The Real Secret Agent

Cartoon aficionados may remember Inspector Gadget. The accident-prone secret agent entertained fans for three years on television in the 1980s, before coming to life on the big screen in 1999. Matthew Broderick played the title character, but it certainly wasn’t his most successful role.  The film was dubbed “charmless” by critics, but the original Inspector Gadget had no shortage of charm, even with Gadget’s lack of problem-solving skills. What if fans were tricked by the cartoon all along, though? One fan theorized that Gadget wasn’t a secret agent, at all. Instead, the fan suggests that Gadget’s niece, Penny, was the real agent. We must admit, the theory makes a lot of sense.

A fan theorizes that Penny was actually the secret agent, not Gadget

Inspector Gadget, the original cartoon, followed the life of Gadget, a secret agent who very rarely completed his orders. His archnemesis, Dr. Claw, consistently thwarted his efforts. If it hadn’t been for his highly-trained spy dog and his genius niece saving the day, Gadget would have been a goner within the first few episodes of the series.

Now, a fan has come up with an exciting theory that spins the cartoon entirely around. A Reddit user has suggested that Inspector Gadget was a mere decoy for the entirety of the series, which ran from 1983 until 1986. The real star of the show was Penny, Gadget’s niece, who lived with him. While Penny was just a kid in the series, she was a genius and seemed a lot more adept at the spy game than her uncle.

The Reddit user pointed out several different clues that suggest their theory is correct. They noted that Quimby, Gadget’s boss, seemed to make sure Penny was around when Gadget received his instructions. Quimby’s tolerance for Gadget’s incompetence might have been a clue, too, notes the fan. Quimby was blown up by Gadget every single episode but he never fired him. It could be possible that Gadget was just an annoyance that Quimby needed to deal with to work with Penny.

The theory actually makes a ton of sense

The theory may shock Inspector Gadget fans, but it actually makes a ton of sense. Penny was far smarter than her bumbling fool of an uncle, and she had the ability to communicate with her dog, Brain. Now, even a computer genius shouldn’t be able to communicate with their dog, unless of course, she had an extraordinary power or perhaps a unique gadget. The only logical answer is that Penny was the real secret agent.

Matthew Broderick And Joely Fisher Star In 'Inspector Gadget'
Matthew Broderick as Inspector Gadget and Joely Fisher as Dr. Brenda Bradford | Getty Images

Another Redditor offered even more evidence to suggest Penny is the real secret agent of the family. The user noted that the reboot of the cartoon, which premiered in 2015, focused more intently on Penny than Gadget himself. Could it be that the reboot was letting fans know that Penny was the trained spy all along?  

Where were Penny’s parents?

Penny lived with Gadget for the duration of the series. Gadget was Penny’s uncle, evidenced by the fact that she called him uncle Gadget, exclusively. The one thing the series never touched on, however, was where Penny’s parents were. A few fan theories have surfaced, over the years, regarding Penny’s parents, but the original creators of the show have never spoken openly about Penny’s origin story.

Salvador Solos as Inspector Gadget at San Diego Comic-Con 2018
Salvador Solos as Inspector Gadget | Kevin Sullivan/Orange County Register via Getty Images

According to one fan theory, Penny’s parents were both killed by Dr. Claw. In this theory, Gadget was the intended target, but Penny’s parents were killed instead. Gadget was given custody of the young genius, and, over the years, she became an essential tool in his crime-fighting arsenal.

Another fan once theorized that Quimby was Penny’s father, and placed her with Gadget so she’d remain safe while he worked. The theory, however, does not address what happened to Penny’s mother, or if Penny was aware that Quimby was her father.