McDonaldland – The Gritty Reboot

McDonaldland - the Gritty Reboot

Recent Facebook musings have inspired what may be my best idea ever: the gritty, noir-ish reboot of the McDonald’s universe. I have created an infographic of sorts describing the main characters and some strong supporting characters, and I have whipped up a plot treatment (below the infographic).

Let’s build on this. Give me your ideas on what to add/improve in the comments!

Grittily yours,


McDonaldland - The Gritty Reboot - Characters Infographic


Ronald is a popular guy in McNugget Heights, a low-class neighborhood in the hard city of McDonaldland. He’s a clever and creative handyman who never works for free. One day, a young orphan watches him improvise a solution for an old lady neighbor, who rewards him not with money but with a shiny golden key. He argues that he only takes cash, but she assures him it’s extremely valuable. She urges him to keep it secret. That night, the orphan shows up at Ronald’s doorstep. Ronald reluctantly allows her to sleep on his couch, promising to take her somewhere tomorrow (to get rid of her).

That night, the Hamburglar attempts to rob Ronald’s place; Ronald fights him off, with help from the orphan and a good frying pan. As thanks, the next morning, Ronald takes the child for pancakes before taking her downtown to see Birdie, a childhood friend who is now a selfless city attorney. Birdie recommends a city-funded orphanage, but the orphan tells her no — it’s already closed down, that’s why she went to Ronald’s to begin with. Ronald and Birdie both despise bullies, and Mayor McCheese is a bully, so they will bully him back and get that orphanage re-opened.

The Hamburglar meets with Captain Crook, the pirate leader who got McCheese elected. Crook killed the Hamburglar’s wife years ago – each blames the other for the incident, but Captain Crook has all the power – and now Crook threatens to kill the Hamburglar as well if he doesn’t bring him what he wants. He gives the Hamburglar one more chance to get him that shiny golden key, and insists that the Hamburglar take the Fry Guys and Grimace with him. Meanwhile, Birdie crashes a press conference for Mayor McCheese, humiliating him on his record of defunding important city services like schooling, police, public transportation, parking meters and (now) the orphanage. Ronald and the kid return to his neighborhood as the Hamburglar and the Fry Guys tear his apartment apart; they don’t find the key, but the Hamburglar DOES take all of Ronald’s hamburgers. Grimace meets Ronald on the street; Ronald offers the kid to the criminals if they’ll just leave him alone. No dice, says Grimace, and they have a fight. Ronald is no match for the monstrous brute, but he comes up with a clever ruse in an improvised disguise, which fools the giant. With additional help from the kid, he manages to escape. The kid, it seems, is quick on her feet, good in a fight. Ronald loses his will to not care about the kid.

The Mayor meets with Captain Crook to try & get him to take down Birdie; the pirate laughs at him, saying the Mayor owes him his mayorship. That was their deal – McCheese is mayor, Captain Crook no longer has to worry about pesky cops. He says no to killing her, but has a plan: since she’s pals with the guy who has the key he’s after, he will kidnap her. This is beneficial for both parties. The Hamburglar leads the Fry Guys and Grimace to Birdie’s…Meanwhile, at Birdie’s, Ronald and the kid temporarily move in and regroup. They discuss plans to further embarrass the mayor until he either fixes the problems he’s created, or else someone else gets elected. Birdie tells him of her work outside of work, and Ronald chastises her for working for free. She tells him she doesn’t work for free, but rewards aren’t always money. She produces a weekly video blog and puts it on the Internet for free because she believes in the goodness of McDonaldland, and wants to make it a good place to live again. Drinks get drunk. Romance brews…until Ronald tries to convince Birdie to look after the kid so he can go his way. She sees through his selfish charade and tells him NO to watching the kid for him — and NO to romance.

The Hamburglar enters Birdie’s house late at night. He sees the key around Ronald’s neck and uses Birdie as bait to get him to give it up. He does, but the Fry Guys kidnap Birdie anyway and they leave with the Hamburglar. Grimace stays behind to finish what he started. A nasty fight takes them outside, where, once again, Ronald fashions a disguise, and by outwitting a witless giant, appears to gain the upper hand. Before he kills Grimace, however, the orphan asks him not to — she sees that he’s sympathetic, and he’s been bullied his whole life. Ronald offers to help Grimace break free of the pirates if he helps them take down Captain Crook (and the Mayor). Ronald begins to see what Birdie meant about rewards not always being money.

The Hamburglar delivers the key that he stole from Ronald to Captain Crook. The pirate reveals its true power: this is the Key to the City, and it can open any building door in town. Captain Crook makes copies of the key and gives them to pirate ruffians, and sends them on their first errand: raiding the homes of the remaining police force. The Hamburglar is horrified, realizes he just gave complete power to the pirates. Captain Crook allows the Hamburglar to leave town, as he had been wanting to; he goes. Meanwhile, Ronald, the kid and Grimace use Birdie’s video equipment to upload videos describing secrets of the pirates, how they have been bullying the populace, and how the Mayor is basically in their pocket. Ronald delivers a quick speech about rising up together as a community, with power in numbers, as the perfect way to remember Birdie. The videos quickly go viral, with hackers taking them and broadcasting them on all TVs and mobile devices. Between this and the home invasions, the population is furious, and in a matter of hours, protests start to break out. The protests clash with the pirates, and quickly turn into riots. The city is in flames; it’s actually going to be easier for the pirates to rule once the dust settles.

In an effort to right a wrong that would haunt him, the Hamburglar finds Ronald and tells him that Birdie is still alive, held by the pirates. Ronald, the kid, Grimace and the Hamburglar steer a local riot towards the pirates’ ship at the docks. Ronald leaves the kid with Grimace and goes with the Hamburglar to rescue Birdie while the pirates are distracted by rioters. Ronald deftly rescues Birdie while the Hamburglar duels in a suave swordfight with Captain Crook; after some clever wordplay, the Hamburglar wins, and as the Captain lay dying, the Hamburglar whispers that this is revenge for the Captain killing his wife all those years ago. Ronald emerges from the ship with Birdie…

…On the dock, however, they find the Mayor waiting for them with some pirates; he tells them to kill them, but Grimace and the kid burst onto the scene – in disguise! – and Grimace gets the pirates to chase after him instead, leaving Ronald and Birdie alone with the mayor. The kid notes that the Mayor has been caught on camera describing his crimes. He’s going down. Day is saved. Happy family time. Milkshakes. And in the ashes of a burned-down McDonaldland, a new mayor, free of corruption and greed, takes the place of the old mayor. A new orphanage is opened to provide a place for homeless children, and a new family — Ronald, Birdie and the kid — settle into a new home in the charming neighborhood of McNugget Heights.

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