Free for All
Free for All Cast.jpg
The main cast of Free for All. From left to right: Angus, Sylvia Jenkins, Douglas Jenkins, Johnny Jenkins, Clay Zeeman, and Paula Wisconsin.
Off-color humor
Created byBrett Merhar
Developed byMerriwether Williams
Directed byDave Marshall
Voices ofJonathan Silverman
Brett Merhar
Sam McMurray
Mitzi McCall
Juliette Lewis
Dee Bradley Baker
Opening themeFree for All by Felix the Cat
Ending themeFree for All (instrumental)
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes7
Executive producersMerriwether Williams
Brett Merhar
EditorGil Ferro
Running time24–26 minutes
Production companiesFilm Roman
Showtime Networks
Original networkShowtime
Original releaseJuly 11 (2003-07-11) –
September 12, 2003 (2003-09-12)

Free for All is an American animated series created by (Randall)[1] Brett Merhar for Showtime. The series, set in Colorado, follows the day-to-day life of Johnny Jenkins, an innocent 19-year-old college student who has to deal with a bitter, cigarette smoking grandmother and a coarse, sometimes-violent, alcoholic father, in a rather dysfunctional family while his friend, Clay, is living large with the settlement money he got from suing a taco restaurant for personal injuries.[2]

The show was developed for television by Merriwether Williams, the head writer for the first three seasons of SpongeBob SquarePants.[3] The show lasted for only seven episodes that aired over the summer of 2003, the last ending on a cliff-hanger. Despite favorable to mixed reviews from critics, the show had very low ratings, due to poor promotion and basing the series on an already-unsuccessful property. Showtime cancelled the animated series shortly after the last episode aired. Though the series is now considered "obscure" and no DVD release has been planned for it, the entire series is legally available on iTunes and

In America, the series was rated TV-MA for explicit sexual content, including nudity and scenes of sexual intercourse (S), extremely offensive language (L), and adult content (AD on Showtime's content warning screen). In Germany, the series was aired on MTV Germany. The entire series is available on Paramount+ in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and SkyShowtime in several European countries.



From underground comic to animated series

In 1992, Free for All began life as an alternative comic strip published in college newspapers. The comic became nationally syndicated shortly afterwards, but eventually ended in 1998. A short pilot for the series - which was never aired on television - was made in 2001. Brett Merhar pitched the show to Showtime in 2001 as an animated series, wanting to do edgier jokes than what he could do in the comic. He brought in a friend of his, Merriwether Williams, who was, at the time, the head writer for Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants. She worked on Free for All as showrunner and head writer alongside her duties as writer for SpongeBob SquarePants.


The show had three writers: Jeff Poliquin (future writer for Comedy Central's short-lived animated sitcom Ugly Americans, and former writer for The Simpsons video games), Gil Ferro (who also served as the show's editor), and Williams herself; Brett Merhar, from Rapid City, South Dakota,[4] also co-wrote the first episode, "The Deal", with Williams.

Voice actors

The show had an all star cast:


The show's animation was interesting, as it was a combination of CGI LightWave animation (cars/some buildings/panning backgrounds), and traditional hand drawn animation/backgrounds - drawn in pencil and ink on animation paper, then scanned into a computer and colored with Wacom tablets on ToonBoom Harmony. The show's animation was produced at Film Roman in Los Angeles and outraced to South Korea. Dave Marshall, a former animation director for Animaniacs, was the series director. William Reiss and C. H. Greenblatt, two SpongeBob SquarePants veterans, worked on the show as storyboard artists. The two of them would go on to work on the Disney Channel hit series Fish Hooks, while C. H. Greenblatt would also go on to create Chowder for Cartoon Network, and Harvey Beaks for Nickelodeon. Both Fish Hooks and Chowder would become far more successful and profitable than Free for All.

Notable distinctions

The show was also one of the first animated series to be broadcast in high definition. Free for All once held the distinction of being the first, and only, animated sitcom to air on Showtime up until the series Our Cartoon President in 2018. It is currently also the only traditionally animated, half-hour sitcom to air on a premium network (HBO has had six different animated shows, though The Ricky Gervais Show was not a sitcom, and was animated on Adobe Flash using the puppet tool. The Life and Times of Tim, while it was a sitcom, was composed of two eleven-minute segments, and was created digitally with Photoshop and After Effects, and Spawn and Spicy City were, while traditionally animated, serial dramas rather than sitcoms).

After the cancellation

After the show was cancelled, Brett Merhar went on to create a web series with Gabor Csupo titled "Beverly Hills Anger Management," which premiered on YouTube in 2007. He was beaten to death in July 2016.[5] Williams went on to write for Cartoon Network's Camp Lazlo as the head writer, as well as Johnny Test (also on Cartoon Network), My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (on The Hub, now Discovery Family), and Pound Puppies (also on The Hub/Discovery Family).


  1. ^ "People v. Bateman, No. B285745". May 23, 2019. Retrieved 5 May 2023.
  2. ^ Perlmutter, David (2018). The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 221–222. ISBN 978-1538103739.
  3. ^ Erickson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949 Through 2003 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. pp. 350–351. ISBN 978-1476665993.
  4. ^ "Brett Merhar". Retrieved 5 May 2023.
  5. ^ Randall Brett Merhar,46