Voltron: Defender of the Universe is an American animated television series that features a team of space explorers who pilot a giant Super Robot known as “Voltron”. Produced by Ted Koplar through his production company World Events Productions, Voltron was an adaptation of several Japanese anime television series from Toei Animation. The original television series aired in syndication from September 10, 1984 to November 18, 1985. The first season of Voltron, featuring the “Lion Force Voltron”, was adapted from the series Beast King GoLion. The second season, featuring the “Vehicle Team Voltron”, was adapted from the unrelated series Armored Fleet Dairugger XV. Voltron was the top-rated syndicated children’s show for two years during its original run, and it spawned two follow-up series, several comic books, and a 1-hour special.
Ted Koplar assembled a team in Los Angeles to transform Golion into what would become Voltron. Peter Keefe was brought aboard as Executive Producer, with Franklin Cofod as the Director. Since they had no means of translating the Japanese series into English, Keefe and Cofod surmised the plots, commissioned writer Jameson Brewer to write all-new dialogue, edited out the more violent scenes, and remixed the audio into stereo format. The series was an immediate hit in the United States, topping the syndication market for children’s programs in the mid-1980s.
The Japanese Future Robot Daltanious series was originally planned to be adapted by World Events Productions as part of Voltron. When requesting master tapes from Toei Animation for translation purposes, the World Events Productions producers requested “[the] ones with the lion.” Mistakenly, Toei then proceeded to ship World Events copies of Beast King GoLion, another “combining-robot” cartoon which featured lion-shaped fighting robot starships. Because the World Events producers greatly preferred GoLion to Daltanious, the GoLion episodes were adapted instead, going on to become the most popular portion of the original Voltron run. A third version/series of Voltron based on yet another Japanese series, Lightspeed Electroid Albegas, was also in progress, but it was dropped when World Events Productions joined with Toei to make new GoLion-based shows, due to that show’s popularity over the Dairugger run.
The Netflix exclusive series Voltron: Legendary Defender, produced by DreamWorks Animation, is a reboot of the Voltron story. The series premiered on June 10, 2016, with Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery serving as showrunners. On January 5, 2016, Netflix announced that Voltron would debut in 2016 as an original animated Netflix series in partnership with DreamWorks Animation (DWA), part of an expanded multi-year agreement between the two groups. In February, teasers revealed the title of the new series to be Voltron: Legendary Defender. On March 25, 2016, a teaser trailer was released, announcing that the first season, consisting of 13 episodes, would premiere June 10, 2016. A second season premiered on Netflix on January 20, 2017. The third season premiered on Netflix on August 4, 2017, and consisted of 7 episodes while the fourth season premiered on October 13, 2017, and consisted of 6 episodes. The fifth season premiered on March 2, 2018, and consists of six episodes. The sixth season will premiere on June 15, 2018 and will consist of seven episodes. The series’ success has spawned several comics, action figures, and other toys.