Yes, of course! Turn it into a cartoon! The kids will love it! This coke is amazing I AM INVINSIBLE!”
~Television Executives of the 80s and 90s
If there’s anything you should take away from our recent article discussing the horrendous movie sequels you didn’t know existed, it’s that nothing is sacred and artistic integrity is a lie we tell ourselves when we watch the first two Godfather movies while pretending that Sophia Coppola never acted. It’s good that we ripped that Band-Aid off quickly because things are going to get worse from here. No, we’re not going to list another set of American-Psycho-2-esque horrendous sequels.
We’re going to talk about your favorite movies turned into baffling, strange, and unnecessary Saturday Morning Cartoons.
Yes, while you were enjoying a happy childhood where your weekends were spent watching GI Joe and Doug, the powers that be decided that your favorite movies should also be cheaply animated and interspersed with commercials for Breakfast cereals. Who cares if the original material is “Rated R” or “features pee-wee hockey players, not giant duck aliens, you fucking maniac”? Cartoons are cheap to make, dammit, and it’s not like an animated series could do any more damage to the Police Academy series than Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach has done already.
Below are the list of America’s most unnecessary animated spin-offs. And holy hell, are they unnecessary.
The Most Absurd Animated Spin-Offs of Classic Movies
Did you know that you can pretty much point to any 1990’s Jim Carrey comedy and find an animated spin-off? It’s true. In 1995 alone there were three different animated spin-offs of Jim Carrey movies. Not only could you turn on your set to see a children’s cartoon version of Ace Ventura or Dumb and Dumber, but The Mask: Animated Series lasted for three whole goddamn seasons. Think about that when you get your next rejection letter for your unpublished novel.
And those aren’t even the most ridiculous examples of movies getting the animated treatment. Below you’ll find even worse examples of TV executives shamelessly cashing in on movies people actually care about. Remember kids, originality is dead, society doesn’t want to discover new things, and eight of the ten highest grossing films of all time are either sequels, based on a comic book, or both.
Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series (1996-1997)
Watch it here
The Mighty Ducks was a Disney film trilogy that followed, in order, a scrappy underdog Pee Wee hockey team coached by a drunk driving lawyer, Team USA of the Junior Goodwill Games coached by a former-lawyer-turned-injured-NHL-prospect, and a high school hockey team no one cared about. All of these films focused on teamwork, the proud sport of ice hockey and, most importantly, a cast comprised of humans from the planet Earth. The Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series only decided that these first two traits were worth keeping, which is how you got a Saturday Morning Cartoon where anthropomorphic ducks from a planet called “Puckworld” who go to Earth to solve crimes while moonlighting as a championship-quality professional hockey team.
The only thing more baffling than the existence of the show (seriously, a hockey team of alien ducks show up at the same time “mysterious” alien ducks start fighting crime, and no one can put two and two together?) is the fact that the characters are actually voiced by actors we recognize. There’s Brad Garrett as Grin, the “super strong Goliath with a Zen-like philosophy” and Ian “I was in Sharknado” Ziering as Wildwing, the team’s goalie/leader of the group. And who can forget about Tim Curry’s infamous turn as… Lord Draganus, the show’s primary villain and leader of the reptile-like Saurians, sworn enemy of the Ducks. Oh, and James Belushi is also there as Phil Palmfeather, the Ducks’ manager who “has a bad taste in fashion” but we just assume that James Belushi perennially needs work, so that one doesn’t surprise us in the slightest.
To further ensure that no one accidentally associates this show with literally any part of any of the movies (or even the NHL franchise) it is very loosely based off of, the entire team of Mighty Ducks all have pun-based duck names to remind you that sometimes people get stoned, start giggling about what it would be like if ducks were actually people, and come away with a television contract. So instead of “Coach Bombay” or “Goldberg” you get Canard Thunderbeak, Tanya Vanderflock, Mallory McMallard, and… wait, seriously? *triple checks* *sighs* Duke L’Orange. Wow, Disney Corporation. Just wow.
Oh and for those of you who didn’t click that link at the top to get to the opening seven minutes of the series, we can provide you a selection of choice quotations from the show’s pilot.
“I can remember when a duck was a meal, not a headline!”
“Not only are these ducks mighty…but they’re really ducks!”
“What can I say? Dragonus was a real player. I mean, did I say player? He was a war monger!”
So yeah, basically what we’re saying is we’re going to have to get drunk and watch this entire series.
RoboCop: The Animated Series (1988) and RoboCop: Alpha Commando (1998)
RoboCop was a classic 1980’s action film, known for its iconic lead character, it’s brutal violence and gore, as well as its popularity among attractive and influential tastemakers everywhere. Alex Murphy was a rookie cop who was turned into a mindless crime fighting machine after Red from That 70’s Show graphically shoots off his hand before ridding him with bullets and shooting him in the head. As RoboCop, he follows his directives to keep the city safe, which involves shooting rapists right in the dick and horrifically disfiguring a bad guy using toxic waste before watching him get exploded by a car.
You know, typical kids cartoon stuff.
The 1988 version came out a year after the film’s release, and had a darker theme than the 1998 attempt at…wait, what’s that? Oh, yes, to answer your question, there are two completely different animated spin-offs of RoboCop. In 1988 twelve episodes of RoboCop: The Animated Series were aired before someone stepped in and said, “Um, guys, don’t you think a show that’s opening theme shows the main character getting shot to death by a violent gang might not be the best thing to show kids?” Then, ten years and Robocop 2 came and went (we’re going to pretend that Robocop 3 never happened) before a new generation of children were treated to RoboCop: Alpha Commando, where RoboCop is less “mostly dead robot tortured by his humanity” and more “Inspector Gadget, with a gun.” RoboCop jumps from a plane? He’s got a parachute now! “Oh no, RoboCop, the bad guys are getting away and it’s the 1990s”? Boom, motherfucking rollerblades.
That’s right. The bastards put RoboCop on rollerblades. Let’s move on before we really start to get upset.
Rambo: The Force Of Freedom (1986)
Watch it here
In 1982, Sylvester Stallone wrote the screenplay for First Blood, a story of John Rambo, a troubled and misunderstood veteran harassed by the local law enforcers of a small town. The film features jungle stalking, a boatload of PTSD, and a single accidental death. Three years later, Stallone and James Cameron teamed up to write Rambo: First Blood Part II (…second blood?) where a shirtless and roided up Rambo kills about sixty Vietnamese soldiers. Since then, we’ve come to know and love Rambo as a hulking, machine-gun-bullet-dodging jingoistic maniac, ready to take off his shirt and punch the heads off of evil doers all over the world.
Of course, some of us want might want to introduce our children to John Rambo without having to have them see all those inappropriate scenes with all the…you know…Asians, so they put him in a G.I. Joe knock-off group, “The Force of Freedom,” along with his trusty teammates including a race car driver (played by Uncle Phil from Fresh Prince!) and a woman who knows martial arts and gymnastics (so, every woman in every action cartoon ever). There’s also a Native American, and we’ll give you one guess as to his name. Hint—this cartoon was made in the 80s. (It’s Chief. Of course it’s Chief. Goddamn it.)
Anyway, this show aired for just one year, but managed to air a whopping 65 episodes. Holy shit, really? How is that even possible? Did it air on TBS? Was it created by Tyler Perry?
Police Academy: The Series (1988-1989)
Watch a preview clip here
We felt you ought to know that there are actually two different television spin-offs of Police Academy, but only this one is animated (ten years later they would make a live-action version of Police Academy: The Series, which we would make fun of except for the fact that we’re still not that far removed from the Wonder Woman fiasco). Now, many of you might remember 1984’s Police Academy as a below-average 1980s comedy that’s mostly memorable for Michael Winslow’s ability to make strange noises, that one scene where Steve Guttenberg pranks his lieutenant by arranging for him to get a surprise blowjob while he’s giving a speech, and the six shitty-awful-rotten-no-good sequels it spawned.
Naturally, whenever you’re watching a film that involves a 1980s-era naked Kim Cattrall, you’re going to think, “I wish kids could watch this, damn you MPAA!” And so we got Police Academy: The Series, two seasons and 65 episodes of your favorite raunchy inept police officers, only in cartoon form, with the “raunchy” part being replaced by “look, a talking dog!” and “Oh God, their theme song was performed by The Fat Boys!?”
So yeah. This exists. And, to be honest, we’re not even sure it’s the worst thing that this franchise is responsible for.
Friday: The Animated Series (2007)
Watch it here
Friday is a classic 1995 comedy about two unemployed slackers who have to pay a drug dealer $200 by the end of the day. Friday: The Animated Series was a horrible idea for a MTV2 cartoon that only lasted eight episodes. There’s an episode where Craig Jones has a fling with Condoleezza Rice, and another called “The Spirit of 420” so we feel pretty confident in saying that, unlike all the other entries on this list, Friday: The Animated Series at least wasn’t trying to be a show for children. So they have an excuse at least.
Not so much with everything else on this list. We’re just thankful they haven’t totally destroyed our childhoods yet. At least Back to the Future has stayed unsullied by…
Oh you bastards.
You absolute bastards.
Weep for our lost innocence, world. Nothing is sacred.