There have been many books that turned him into a feature film. Many comic books and cartoons have also been converted to length properties. However, did you know that there are a ton of ’80s movies that inspired cartoons? Yes, you read that correctly. Even more interesting are the films that are somehow made appetizing to exist on such a seemingly benign platform.
The karate kid seems like a no-brainer for a second life as a cartoon. How about a movie like Rambo: First Blood Part II RobocopOr, The poisonous avengerAgain, you read that right. These are just a few of the movies that would have a chance to make a ton of money in the Saturday Morning Cartoons world. Some of the cartoons on this list were more successful than others, but overall, the jump from the big screen to the small screen (and in animated form) didn’t always go well for this list of 80’s Movies Turned into Cartoons.
Coming to us in 1985, Ewoks seemed like the perfect cartoon to get young people to watch and buy merchandise based on the show. Unfortunately, it only ran for two seasons before it would leave the airwaves. The story, set well before the Battle of Endor in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, follows Wicket (voiced by Jim Henshaw) as a young Ewok trying to show his community that he’s not a little … Ewok. Over 26 episodes, we see Wicket help a princess, try to protect his highly penetrating village, and fight rivals like the Duloks. The show was entertaining, but it seemed Star Wars magic, even if George Lucas helped develop the characters.
If there ever was a cool character from the movie who needed his own cartoon, it had to be Teen WolfThis show arched in 1986 and continued the exploits Michael J. Fox began as Scott Howard from the 1985 Teen Wolf movie. In animated form, we see Howard continue to deal with the whims of being a teenager, while also trying to to contain werewolf tendencies. . In this show (which only ran for 2 seasons and included 21 episodes), Scott’s real friends know he’s a werewolf, but there are many others who don’t. This of course makes for some fun moments and the cast of this show is backed by James Hampton who plays Harold Howard and Don Most (Happy Days) voicing the character of Stiles. Throw the interesting Craig Sheffer (That was then, this is now), which is actually quite surprising Teen Wolf did not have a longer run.
Rambo: Force of Freedom
While it may seem crazy in 2021 that John Rambo’s character (voiced here by the accomplished Neil Ross) could be toned down enough for consumption in a Saturday Morning Cartoon, considering how much the 1980s look like the 2020s, it’s that’s actually not that shocking. The crux of the show was that Rambo led a group known as The Force of Freedom. They went up against S.A.V.A.G.E. (which stands for Specialist Administrators of Vengeance, Anarchy and Global Extortion), and on the orders of Colonel Trautman (voiced by Alan Oppenheimer and not Richard Crenna) they had to fight them all over the world. This low-key propaganda show had 65 action-packed episodes in which Rambo and his team carried out daring rescues in the Bronx, stopped an attack on the Federal Reserve Bank, and thwarted a bombing of the White House. Rambo’s main enemies have names like Mad Dog and General Warhawk, which goes to show how much fun this very American show had in its short term.
The real Ghostbusters
The erratic nature of Ghostbusters makes it the perfect movie to get the animated treatment. This show was broadcast from 1986 to 1991 and has 7 seasons and 140 episodes! It follows the original group from the movie, Egan, Venkman, Ray and Winston (voiced by Arsenio Hall no less!) As they battle across New York City to battle these pesky poltergeists. Aided in their pursuit by the lovable Slimer, it looks like these guys are going to need Slimer’s help as they fight Bogeymen, Trolls, Samhain, and many other truly evil paranormal entities. Slimer was such a popular character that they would get their own show with the title Slimmer! And the real GhostbustersUnfortunately, its popularity continued and Slimmer! And the real Ghostbusters would only last one season, but that season would get us 33 episodes.
Robocop: The Animated Series
If you have seen it Robocop (and chances are, since you’re reading this article), then you know that that hyper-awesome movie might seem even weirder than a cartoon about John Rambo. However, Robocop is essentially about a robotic police officer with a human in it. So it is these elements that became the (unintended) heart of the show. Robocop: The Animated Series aired from October 1988 to December 1988, so the time on the air was not that long. Again, this show followed Alex Murphy (voiced by Dan Hennessey) as a half man / half cop trying to protect the people of Detroit. At the same time, he is also reminded of his human past, which is reflected in many episodes of the show. As for the violence of the original movie, that was basically all scrubbed. Rather than firing bullets, Robocop shoots lasers and people are certainly not bloody deaths or places in anything resembling daring situations. Also, this animated new imagination went a lot more difficult on the sci-if aspect of the film series.
It’s pretty easy to see Bettlejuice as a cartoon character along the lines of Spongebob SquarepantsThis animated series appeared on our TVs from 1989 to 1991. This innovative show, which spanned 94 episodes over 4 seasons, once again followed the adventures of Lydia Deetz and her frenemy Beetlejuice. Together they work as babysitters, visit the Old West in the form of Tombstone, Scarizona, and at one point, Beetlejuice wins a ton of money in the Neitherworld sweepstakes. Taking some of the fun out of the movie and mixing it with real world events, Beetlejuice often it is a very cheeky “kids” series. Like later cartoons like Phineas and Ferb manages to have something for both kids and adults. The animation is 2D simple, but that doesn’t take away from the greatness that Beetlejuice always thinks he is worthy of.
The karate kid
Again, Daniel LaRusso’s character seems perfect for a Saturday Morning Cartoon. This animated incarnation of The karate kid aired in 1989 and also went off the air in 1989. Unfortunately it only carved 13 episodes and it’s a real shame given the success of Cobra KaiUnfortunately, the reason why the cartoon version of The karate kid failed because it seemingly strayed too far from who these beloved characters. Instead of following their lives and seeing Daniel in high school and Mr. Miyagi in Reseda we instead got another show trying to become Scooby DooOur main stars (accompanied by a character named Taki) are globetrotting the world in search of a mysterious talisman. Making matters worse is that Daniel doesn’t really look like Daniel and Miyagi appears to be much younger than he actually is. Episodes like “The Homecoming” are promising as Daniel, Miyagi and Taki venture into Daniel’s former Newark home, but those overt references to the movie are too far and few in between.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures
Sadly, this show only ran from 1990 to 1991, but it’s actually quite well done. Featuring Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter and George Carlin voicing their characters from the original Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure, in this 21-episode, 2-season show, our characters travel to and from different parts of our past, present and future. In one episode, Bill and Ted hang out with Mozart on an assignment in music appreciation. In another episode, they try to get caught up in their homework, but end up in the Crusades. Aside from Reeves, Winter and Carlin reprising their roles for this series, the best part is how this show incorporates history lessons into as many episodes as possible. As a result, we have a fast-paced show filled with history and great adventures from two guys who know how to party!
Of all the listings on this list, an animated adaptation from the years 1984 The poisonous avenger perhaps the strangest and most ambitious. In the movie, a sad sack named Melvin falls into a barrel of toxic waste and turns into The poisonous avengerHe becomes a kind of vigilante as he tries to correct the injustice in Tromaville. The Poisonous Crusaders continues this story with Toxie. He joins forces with other mutants such as No Zone, Major Disaster and others to fight criminals and also do their part to save the environment. This interesting show fused science fiction with funny characters, creating something that was truly family-friendly. The fact that this show managed the original storyline of the The poisonous avenger, just goes to show how sometimes what a person thinks schlock is is actually a more “disguised” version of a simpler, plain fare. The fact that this show also appeared to be aimed at making an environmental statement likely contributed to the cause.
Back to the future: the animated series
Who wouldn’t want more time travel adventures from Marty McFly, Doc Brown and the unstoppable Biff Tannen? In the animated show, Biff is voiced by Thomas F. Wilson, who also played him in the movies. This show had two seasons, running from 1991 to 1993. It mainly focused on Doc Brown and his sons Jules and Verne. Marty McFly is part of the proceedings, but this is clearly Doc’s show. In one episode, our characters go to London in the 1300s and have to work their way out of some tricky situations. Another sees Marty and Verne go back to the 1940s, where they use a pair of dancing shoes that Doc Brown invented when he was in college. All episodes are fun, whimsical, and while Marty isn’t central like in the other movies, he’s used to this with great success. According to Bob Gale, who produced this show and co-wrote the original Back to the future movies, this show isn’t exactly part of the original trilogy. Finally, you must love that Bill Nye made his TV debut in this animated sci-fi show!
Conan: The Adventurer
Continuing the stories of the 1982 and 1984 films with the character Conan (notably played by Arnold Schwarzenegger), Conan The Adventurer arc in 1992 but went off air in 1993. It managed to produce 2 seasons and 65 episodes where our beloved Conan hit his way to victory, hit and tried to fight against Wrath-Amon (a wizard / serpent man). Wrath-Amon’s great goal has always been to bring back to life Set, a snake lord Conan always feared would destroy the world. The episodes were filled with action and, as you’d expect, Conan always triumphed in the end. In one episode, Conan forges a friendship with Zula (a strong warrior who also happens to be a prince) as they plan an escape from Wrath-Amon’s quarry. Another sees Conan getting the chance to join a pirate ship. This show benefited from solid storytelling and a character that truly was the epitome of an action hero.
Highlander: The Animated Series
Located in the heart of the 1986 world Highlander films, we follow the stories of Quintin MacLeod. Like others in the MacLeod clan, Quintin is also taught by the wise Ramirez as they try again to stop the ruthless Kortan from taking over the country. Highlander has always been a fan favorite among those who follow it. It’s no surprise that it had a solid 40-episode run from 1994-1996. Even more impressive is the depth and scope of this show. The first episode begins with Quintin’s mother being killed during a raid by Kortan. How many TV cartoons can you name that show characters dying and then make that the core of the show? These have a wealth Highlander: The Animated Series episodes that make them very memorable. The mythos of this animated series are really well crafted, and it makes for a cartoon viewing experience that surpasses most “Saturday Morning” rates.
Police Academy: The Animated Series
Yes, you read that right, even Mahoney and his company were made tasty for a very young audience. This show clearly followed the same playbook as the 1984 hit movie and ran from 1988 to 1989 and managed to spawn 64 episodes. When you consider how much Police School movies out there (8, at last count), unsurprisingly, Paul Maslansky (who was behind the original movie), would try to increase demographics by pulling in on a younger audience. As a result, we get episodes about dogs trying to keep cats from being stolen, robots trying to replace police officers, and other fun episodes that seem just over the age of the average toddler watching. Blue’s BluesCertainly it is easy to ignore Police Academy: The Series if you grew up watching the real movies, but it’s definitely fun to see Mahoney, Tackleberry, Hooks, Sweetchuck, Harris and the rest of the gang live in the world of Saturday Morning cartoons.
Mr. T. ran from 1983-1986, which isn’t bad. In all fairness, this cartoon wasn’t exactly inspired by a movie, but rather it seems to have sprung from Mr. T’s personality as Clubber Lang in Rocky III and of course B.A. Baracus within The A-Team Mr. T. focuses on, who else, Mr. T (who plays his character) and the gymnastics team he leads. Of course, Mr. T doesn’t really do gymnastics himself, but rather he is the muscle that supports the gymnastic skills (much like he supported Face, Hannibal and Murdock on The A-TeamFrankly, this show seems to follow the blueprint of another Hanna-Barbera show where some hip teens solve crimes with a dog. The biggest question about Mr. T. Why did it have gymnasts like the good guys when nothing about Mr. T.’s career ever really touched on that? The best answer seems to be that perhaps this show was trying to monetize the popularity of the US Gymnastics team that won 16 medals in the 1984 Olympics.