When a film studio has invested millions and millions in their latest high budget sci-fi motion picture then they want to get as much return as they can on their investment.
How do they do this? Merchandising – check. Sequels – check. Creating a TV series – check. Kids cartoons and toy line – er…. check!
The only problem is that the film in the first place was aimed at mature audiences and definitely not made for children. Who knows how some of these cartoons were given the green light!
Rambo: The Force of Freedom
I’m not sure that a cartoon show based on a mentally unstable Vietnam veteran who has a vendetta against a backwater towns local police force was a great story line!
This cartoon was based on First Blood and was first aired in 1986, but cancelled within the same year. The show had Rambo in a team called Force of Freedom and it had no blood and reduced violence. The first season had a whopping 65 episodes of gun blazing action and also they created these action figures too.
RoboCop: The Animated Series
If you think of Robocop, then you’d be thinking Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 ultra-violent classic about a cyborg cop ridding the mean old streets of a broken Detroit. The cartoon series ran a year later in 1988, which makes you think this was already given the go ahead before the movie was a hit. It ran for 12 episodes in all and featured Alex Murphy as Robocop and his officer sidekick Anne Lewis.
The main villain was Dr. McNamara and his robot ED-260 (instead of Dick Jones and ED-209). The cartoon was still kind of violent, but definitely didn’t feature any drugs. To be fare we’d already kind of had a cartoon cyborg cop cartoon in the 80s. He was called Inspector Gadget!
Robocop would later return in a second series in the 90s called Robocop: Alpha Commando.
Police Academy – The Cartoon Series
Police Academy movies love them or hate them were very big in the 80s and even into the 90s and spawned 7 movies and a TV series from 1984 – 1998.The movie franchise is about the LA police force and the COP program (Citizens on Patrol) where they accepted any candidates into the Police Academy. This resulted in lots of goofball humour, slapstick and adult themes.
Of course if you tone it down a bit and didn’t feature Sgt. Callahan in tight t-shirts it could make a pretty funny kids show. Some of the original cast lent their voices too including Steve Guttenberg and everyone’s favourite Michael “Man of 10,000 Sound Effects” Winslow.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
We could see why they’d make this a cartoon. Jim Carrey’s whacky character of Ace Ventura pulling silly faces and clown like antics is really appealing to youngsters.
The cartoon follows Ace doing what he does best, solving pet related cases with all the mayhem and oddball antics that ensues, but with the sexual innuendos and scenes were he is ‘talking out of his ass’ removed for the small screen. The show aired from 1995 – 2000, so this was a pretty big hit back then. Alrighty then!
The Toxic Avenger Crusaders
If you’ve seen anything by Troma Films then you will know that they are definitely not made for children. A studio famous for making inane, low-budget and low-brow films.This 1991 cartoon based on the studios most famous film Toxic Avenger is a about the mutant Toxie who leads a group of misfit superheroes trying to combat pollution.
Following a trend of environmentally considerate cartoons and comics of the time, including Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Swamp Thing, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures in the early 90s.
Kid ‘n Play
Could you imagine a cartoon based on the antics of Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube, now that would be good! In the early 90s this cartoon was based on more kid friendly rap duo Kid n’ Play and their movie series House Party which were huge back in the day and featured Martin Lawrence in an early role. The original movie was about the the wild party antics when Play organises a house party when his parents are away and their many attempts to have sex.
On the show, Kid ‘n Play were regressed to teenagers, but still had their recording careers and same comic personas.The real Kid ‘n Play actually appeared in live-action wraparounds of the cartoons, but voice actors (again including close friend, Martin Lawrence) performed in the animated portions of the show. The House Party movies were originally written for Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff.
When Star Wars started cashing in on the merchandise back in the late 70s, Kenner wanted to continue that success by creating everyone’s favourite xenomorphs from Ridley Scott’s Alien into action figures. Production was underway, but when the film was released they were instantly cancelled because obviously the film wasn’t suitable for minors.
Fast forward to the 90s and 20th Century Fox commissioned a kids cartoon hoping to tie-in with Alien 3, but sadly it was never released either, but Kenner now having nothing to lose just happened to go ahead and produce action figures (ages 4 and up) based on Aliens.
Dumb and Dumber
Yep, another Jim Carrey film that inspired a cartoon series. We could have included The Mask in this list , but we consider that movie unlike the comic book was really family friendly. If you know the Farrelly brothers movies then you know they are famous for gross-out comedies featuring a hell of a lot of adult humour and sexual references. Just think of Something About Mary and Me, Myself and Irene.
I can see why they thought this idea would transfer to an animated kids show. Two simpletons and their many misadventures in their dog van and for some reason they added a beaver sidekick named Kitty to the show! It started in late 1995, but it only ran for one series with 13 episodes.
Okay, you can argue that Beetlejuice is good family fun, but the you have to take into account that the devious Beetlejuice who is brilliantly played by Michael Keaton only had a small part in the film and is a bit of a perverted poltergeist, who curses a lot and who also tries to force a teenage girl to marry him.
However In the cartoon it actually focuses on Beetlejuice where he now is friends with Lydia Deetz and they have many adventures using Beetlejuices’s magic skills. The show ran from 1989 – 1992 and had 94 episodes in its long run.
Conan the Barbarian
Having seen a void of muscle men in loin cloths wielding swords since He-Man disappeared from our TV screens, we get a cartoon series based on R-rated early 80s Arnie film Conan the Barbarian.
Titled Conan the Adventurer and was first aired in 1992 and ran for 65 episodes. Conan this time playing more of a moral hero and with less of the murdering and womanizing.
Little Shop (of Horrors)
The original Little Shop of Horrors starring Jack Nicholson was a dark horror B-movie about plants that ate people. Then in the 80s it was turned into a successful musical and then adapted to the big screen again as a horror comedy musical starring Rick Moranis and Steve Martin.
In 1991 it was revived as a kid shows now just titled Little Shop. It followed a young Seymour who planted an ancient seed he had found which grew into a giant singing plant named Junior. In the cartoon Junior didn’t feed on humans and helped Seymour and his gang solve problems with the aid of song. It ran for 12 episodes and was cancelled.
Highlander: The Animated Series
Based on the Highlander franchise starring the Macleod clan it seemed like a good idea. The only problem was that the whole killing other immortals by decapitation played such a big part in the whole saga of movies and TV series, but for obvious reasons wasn’t featured in the show.
In the cartoon we follow Quentin Macleod in a post-apocalyptic world to try and rebuild humanity using non-violent ways. It ran for one season of 42 episodes from 1994.
Tales from the Cryptkeeper
Based on the adult TV show Tales from the Crypt and hosted by the Cryptkeeper, this kids cartoons was a tamed down version of the horror TV series.
It first aired in 1993 but was cancelled after two seasons only to be revived in 1999 for another 13 episodes, but then like the TV series disappeared off air.
Mortal Kombat – Defenders of the Realm
Mortal Kombat the notorious violent video game caused a shit storm in the early 90s in the media when it was first released with its pretty gruesome fatalities. It most definitely was not the best property to base a kids show on. But when there is money to make that did not stop Midway allowing Roman Productions to create just that in 1996 with Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm.
The series was set after the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie and follows the heroes defending the earth from the Outworld. The show was a flop and was cancelled after only one season and 13 episodes.
Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles
Film Director Paul Verhoeven’s 1997 film Starship Troopers like his previous work Robocop concealed a layer of satire underneath its violent and sometimes gory alien bug-fighting action.
In the 1999 CGI animated kids show we follow the Roughnecks on various missions fighting the evil alien bugs. The violence was toned down for younger audiences and there were one season and forty episodes made until problems with production halted the show and it was cancelled.