It's easy to forget, what with all the cloud surfing and air pirates and giant bears wearing bomber jackets, but TaleSpin actually takes place in the distant past. Various wikis pin the general date to 1937ish, or around the same time as the first Indiana Jones movie. The timing is smart -- it lets the show focus on badass old-timey planes while still avoiding "Disney animals in World War II" and the anthropomorphic Nazi critters that come with it.
But Baloo's relative age and experience as a pilot means that he probably fought in World War I. He even references a Great War in an episode, looking back on it with a mix of reverence and fear.
Most Disney shows and movies get away with avoiding the horrors of reality by setting the stage in a completely different world, one where kids don't have to be taught about the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. But by specificially stating that "The Great War ended 20 years ago," Baloo implies that one of the world's most awful and grueling conflicts actually occurred. With talking animals.
Think about it. Cats in pointy helmets. Pandas choking on mustard gas. Hundreds of turtles and frogs vaulting over the trenches only to be instantly ventilated by machine gun fire, their piled bodies forming fleshy sandbag walls that protect the cowards left behind. Baloo survived it all, and probably flew planes that dropped bombs on all sorts of tigers and dogs and probably at least a few fellow bears. He still lives to fly, because it's the only way he can still feel anything.
But that's nothing compared to what'll happen a couple years after the show ends; if there was a World War I, you can definitely bet on a World War II...
Uncle Scrooge is a pretty terrible guardian. Yeah, he's richer than butterscotch cheesecake, but he's also miserly, mean and prone to undocumented globetrotting. Thanks to his various adventures, Scrooge now has several mortal enemies, including a powerful sorceress and gaggle of incompetent but permanently jailbroken criminals.
Uncle or no, Scrooge is pretty much the last person you want to leave your kids with, so it stands to reason that Huey, Dewey and Louie's parents had good reason to choose Donald Duck as their guardian instead. But DuckTales had to exist, so the show begins with Donald abandoning three children in order to join the Navy.
These kids have it bad. First, their mom and dad gave them these actual full names: Hubert, Louis and Deuteronomy. Then, their parents dumped them on an irresponsible moron, who proceeded to shove them off on a rich hermit the first chance he got. Do these kids have the worst luck in the world, or what? At this point, they're probably convinced that it's their fault and no one would want them.
Though there might be a reason for that.
The only mention of the boys' father was in this comic strip from 1937. In case you're not fluent in microscopic cursive, the note is from Della Duck, detailing the reason for foisting her spawn on her cousin, Donald. The horrifying excuse in this case: Dear ol' dad is in the hospital, because Huey, Duey and Louie put a firecracker on his chair. After this, Papa Duck is never heard from again.
Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Could their father have died of those injuries? Are these children secretly The Murder Triplets from Hell? That would explain why Donald would be so quick to get rid of the kids, finding respite on the open sea. Though Uncle Scrooge has as of yet to meet with an "unfortunate accident," it could be that Huey, Dewey and Louie are just biding their time until they get a piece of that money bin out of their uncle's will. I don't want to solve this mystery and thereby rewrite history, but for now the kids' motivations are at best, a duckblur.
Next up: Horrible realizations about Chip 'N Dale and Darkwing Duck that will make you recoil in horror while humming their catchy theme songs.