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"Chicken Scratch"
"Oh, Brother" Oh, Brother
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"Chicken Scratch"
"Sis-Tem Error" Sis-Tem Error
Chicken Scratch
Season 4, Episode 12b
Episode name reference to/pun on: The idiom "chicken scratch", referring to poor handwriting.
Chicken scratch title card
Air date July 3, 2002 (theatrical)
November 4, 2003 (rerun)
Production number 411b (rerun)
Written by Genndy Tartakovsky
Storyboard by Genndy Tartakovsky
Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky

Chicken Scratch is a theatrical Dexter's Laboratory short.

The short was completed in December 2001 and was shown before the premiere of The Powerpuff Girls Movie on July 3, 2002 in the United States and Canada.

It later aired on Dexter's Laboratory as the second segment of the twelfth episode in season four of Dexter's Laboratory on November 4, 2003.

In this episode, Dexter comes down with the chicken pox and Dee Dee tells him a tale about a boy who turned into a chicken because he couldn't stop scratching. Dexter heeds her warning, but the high amount of itching on his skin makes it hard for him to concentrate. He takes drastic measures to stop himself from scratching.


Dexter wakes up one morning scratching and goes to the bathroom to prepare for his day. While brushing his teeth, Dexter looks at himself and notices he has chickenpox all over his body. Dexter then comes up with a plan to rid himself of chickenpox, but is interrupted as Dee Dee dances into his room.

She stops and notices Dexter wrapped up in toilet paper, and before she says anything, Dexter pushes her out of his room and forcefully slams his door shut. Dee Dee opens the room and looks at the toilet paper trail leading to Dexter, who scratches his spots. Dee Dee tells Dexter that he has chickenpox and spins up a story about contaminated chickens who escaped from prison that go into children's bedrooms and peck their skin to leave pimples behind, and says that anyone who scratches said spots becomes a chicken themselves.

Dexter doesn't believe her story and finds scratching his spots relieving until Dee Dee taunts him by making chicken noises. He then goes inside his laboratory to keep himself busy. While working on his experiments, Dexter scratches himself and asks his robot assistant to come zap him if he starts scratching. The robot does so four times without Dexter's permission.

Later, Dexter finalizes his newest invention while scratching himself in the process. The invention, which consists of several seat belts to keep Dexter attached to a wall, proves to be a success. However, several spots on Dexter's skin start flashing. Unable to resist the urge, Dexter breaks free from his invention and starts scratching himself all over.

In Dee Dee's room, she is jumping rope and stops at a knock on the door. She opens it and runs to hide behind her bed, as Dexter himself has transformed into a chicken as a result of him scratching his spots.



  • This short film was released into theaters on July 3, 2002 with The Powerpuff Girls Movie. It is also playable with the VHS and DVD.
  • At the near end, while Dexter scratches himself, Christine Cavanaugh does Dexter's laughing. This audio was recycled from the episode The Laughing.
  • This is Cartoon Network's only theatrical short.
  • Due to working on Samurai Jack, this, along with "Comedy of Feathers", is the only episode Genndy Tartakovsky was involved in after Ego Trip, even animating some of the episode himself (at times looking similar to the Season 1 episodes).
  • This episode is loosely based on a comic book story from DC Comics's Dexter's Laboratory issue #6, with the same name.

Production Notes[]

  • This short was finished in December of 2001 [1][2], but bears a 2002 copyright notice in the credits to reflect its release alongside The Powerpuff Girls Movie in July of that year.
  • This short was released while season 3 was still airing, but it was actually produced in between seasons 3 and 4 (after season 3 wrapped, but before season 4 entered production).
    • Production of the third season ended in October 2001 and then this short in December 2001, but this short was released on July 3, 2002 and season 3 finished airing on September 20, 2002.
  • Strangely enough, this short has an old-film video effect on the screen, just like older episodes from 1996. It was even animated in a similar way to a classic cartoon because it was a theatrical short being released with The Powerpuff Girls Movie in theaters. Because of this, it would be like the 1966 Dr. Seuss TV special, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!.
  • Although "The Lab of Tomorrow" and "Garage Sale" aired on November 4, 2003, they were actually made in the same year as shown in the credits. According to the credits, "Chicken Scratch" was re-released on November 4, 2003.


  • When Dexter says "A new invention must be created", his lip sync is off.