“Upgrade” Extra: Gargoyles and Chess

This was originally going to be a random thought in my “Upgrade” essay, but it eventually grew unwieldy enough that I thought it best to give it its own space.

One of the more notable things about “Upgrade” is the framing device it uses, of having Xanatos and Fox’s game of chess as a representation of the larger game they’re playing with the actual Manhattan Clan and The Pack. Writing my thoughts on the episode, I began for the first time thinking about how exactly the characters were supposed to translate into chess pieces. Goliath, for example, would seem to be a natural king, except that Fox’s winning move appears to be to use the Goliath piece to directly attack the enemy King, which is impossible (*1). In any case, I’m thinking:

Goliath: King

Brooklyn: Rook

Hudson: Bishop

Broadway: Knight.

I’m not sure who’d be queen, though; both Elisa and Demona are natural candidates, and depending on when the pieces were made and who had input into making them, I could see either being chosen.  Lexington, unfortunately gets left off, because Bronx is a natural pawn. Then I thought: what if the duplicate pieces get different characters per piece? Then we could have something like:

Goliath: King

Demona: Queen

Hudson: Queen’s Bishop

Elisa: King’s Bishop

Brooklyn: King’s Rook

Coldstone: Queen’s Rook

Lexington: King’s Knight

Broadway: Queen’s Knight

Bronx: Pawn

That would work quite nicely for the gargoyles, but not nearly as well for The Pack, since they don’t have nearly enough people in it to get the same treatment.  In fact, they would get something like:

Coyote (1.0  for extra symbolism): King

Fox: Queen

Wolf: Rook

Dingo: Knight

Hyena, Jackal: Bishops

Pawns could be just figures of dogs.  Or, if they’re feeling cheeky, Wolf could serve as the pawns while Jackal takes his place as the Rooks.


(*1) Technically there’s another possibility, which is that in moving Goliath, Fox makes a discovered check against Xanatos’ king.  That said, unless Xanatos were losing badly, I don’t see how he wouldn’t have noticed the vulnerability of his position.


Protected: The Funeral, Chapter 1 (First Draft)

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Villain Decay: “Upgrade”

” They are formidable opponents.–Goliath, on The Pack


Written by: Adam Gilad
Original Air Date: November 9, 1995
Introduces: The Pack 2.0
Timeline placement: November 15 – November 16; December 14, 1995 – December 15
TMNT episode I could make a forced comparison to: N/A

Read more of this post