5 Films You Didn't Know Had Cartoon Series
It’s simple film industry economics: If a movie does well in the box office, it behooves the studio to parlay it into an animated cash cow for additional financial gain (success tends to vary, though). Franchises such as Star Wars, Men in Black, and Ghostbusters have certainly done it, but here are five films you didn’t know had cartoon series hiding under the pop culture radar!
1) Rambo: The Force of Freedom (1986)
Sometimes in the overzealous pursuit of money, good sense tends to take a back seat... or end up in the trunk of the car. A superb example of this was when, back in 1986, some studio executive had the genius notion to adapt the cinematic bloodbath that was First Blood and Rambo: First Blood II into an unrepentant G.I. Joe knockoff. Entitled Rambo: The Force of Freedom, the cartoon turned off-the-chain Vietnam vet John Rambo into a kid-friendly American hero who didn't need to rely on neck-snapping or evisceration to save the day. Strange to produce a show based on a movie kids were forbidden from seeing in the first place, no?
2) Back to the Future (1991)
It stands to reason one of the most popular film trilogies of all time got a cartoon series of its very own. Airing on CBS’ Saturday morning program block back in the early ‘90s, Back to the Future chronicled the continuing adventures of Marty McFly, Doc Brown, and company. Despite none of the original actors—save for Mary Steenburgen as Clara Clayton—voicing their animated counterparts, Christopher Lloyd did appear in character during the show’s live action segments, as well as his lab assistant: A young, then-unknown Bill Nye the Science Guy.
3) Dumb and Dumber (1995)
Praised by some, panned by others, Dumb and Dumber’s middle-of-the-road reception from critics was overshadowed by its blockbuster success in the box office, warranting the creation of the cartoon series. Produced by Hanna-Barbera for ABC, Harry and Lloyd’s moronic misadventures translated well to a half-hour animated format, despite the movie’s gross-out, irreverent humor being toned down to prevent network censors and parental groups from going on the warpath. Cartoon-only characters were also added to the cast, such as Harry and Lloyd’s pet beaver named Kitty. It’s likely beavers went over very well with focus groups, compared to other semi-aquatic rodents.
4) Jumanji (1996)
During a time when airing Sunday morning cartoons on broadcast television was a thing, the animated adaptation of Jumanji was one in a succession of programs entertaining kids who decided to forgo attending church that morning (watching TV always outweighs prospects of eternal damnation). The cartoon was a semi-reboot of the movie, utilizing the same characters, yet introducing a new plot centered around exploring the jungle world within the board game itself. Jumanji counted 40 episodes under its belt, including a finale that brought it all to an end—a rare achievement for any cartoon.
5) Spaceballs: The Animated Series (2008)
“There was a Spaceballs cartoon on TV?” is a common response uttered by nearly everyone when discussing Spaceballs: The Animated Series. This forgettable blight on perhaps the greatest sci-fi comedy’s legacy originally aired on G4 back in 2008, a veritable barrage of tepid, phoned-in jokes and tired references to geek culture that elicited more groans than laughs (if any). Okay, it’s understandable that not every show can achieve greatness, but the fact that most of the episodes were written by Mel Brooks himself was—and remains to be—a shocking revelation. Which lends itself to the possibility that it was one of Brooks’ I-just-installed-a-new-swimming-pool-and-I-need-to-pay-it-off projects.
What movie would you like to see turned into a cartoon?