Top 10 Great Movies turned into Terrible Cartoon Spinoffs

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For some reason, movie studios aren’t content with the millions of dollars they make off of hit movies. Even after the avalanche of money that a hit movie makes, studio executives try to milk every single penny out of a franchise. There are ill-conceived sequels, over the top merchandising, and, worst of all, terrible cartoon spinoffs. This list is exclusive to great movies made in terrible cartoons, not great movies made into great cartoons, like Clerks, or even great cartoons turned into terrible movies, like Rocky & Bullwinkle.

10. Rumble in the Bronx – Jackie Chan Adventures

Rumble in the Bronx was the number one grossing movie in Hong Kong history; but, more importantly, it was the breakthrough vehicle for Jackie Chan’s popularity in the United States. Even though the film won multiple international awards, it’s the cartoonish fight scenes that run throughout which are the highlights. Shortly after Chan exploded into superstardom in the movie rush Rush Hour with Chris Tucker, production started on the cartoon Jackie Chan Adventures. Though fiction, the series makes multiple references to Chan’s life and movies. Here is the 5 year series in a nutshell: kick bad guys, find trinket, repeat. (Embedding disabled on writer’s clip selection – check our playlist for other footage from this cartoon.)

9. The Three Stooges – The New Three Stooges

The original Three Stooges need no introduction. They appeared in 190 short films, appeared in 20 additional full-length films, and are cultural icons. They started as a vaudeville act in the 1920’s and then started making movies in the 1930’s. Their shorts are on some television stations to this very day (I watched them this morning on IFC). In 1965, someone had the brilliant idea to use live action segments between poorly animated and poorly written cartooning. The resulting mess was one season of The New Three Stooges. Three live action old stooges in their 60’s with diminishing slapstick skills was actually the highlight, because even though the stooges supplied the voices to the animation portion, the resulting cartooning was unwatchable.

8. Rambo – Rambo: The Force of Freedom

The first Rambo film came out in 1982. Vietnam veteran, beaten down by the system, takes vengeance and blows up a lot of stuff. I know there’s more to it, but apparently that’s all Ruby-Spears Enterprises saw, because in 1986 they tried to take a hard rated R movie, with adult themes and the serious subject matter of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and sugar coat Rambo down to teen-friendly pabulum. In the cartoon series, Rambo is a hero fighting the forces of S.A.V.A.G.E. The cartooning isn’t that bad, it’s similar to the G.I Joe cartoon- it’s mostly the premise and the execution that make it bad.

7. Police Academy – Police Academy: The Animated Series

The original Police Academy movie came out in 1984 and took a very similar franchise arc as the Rambo franchise. Great R rated film spawns sequels, merchandising, and even worse sequels. The same production company that thought Rambo: The Forces of Freedom was a great idea rolled out Police Academy: The Animated Series. When you strip away the sexual innuendo and adult humor of the movie, you are left with generic slapstick and the average writing of the cartoon. The Police Academy cartoon lasted 64 episodes over 2 seasons vs. 65 episodes for Rambo. For those of you who think I’m a jerk and love everything Police Academy, don’t worry, rumors of Police Academy 8 continue to circulate to this day.

6. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes – Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

The 1978 original movie is a cult classic. Made on a shoestring budget of under $100,000, it surprisingly spawned 3 sequels, video games, comic books, and a cartoon series. The cartoon series of the same name debuted on Fox Kids in 1990 and production ended in 1991. In a vacuum, the cartoon series was average, making cursory nods to the films, but its sin is that the cartoon omits one of the greatest characters in cinema, Sam Smith, the master of disguise. The cartoon is actually based on the sequel to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Return of the Killer Tomatoes. Everyone knows that Sam Smith was killed in the original when he infiltrated tomato headquarters and mistakenly asked “please pass the ketchup.”

5. Little Shop of Horrors – Little Shop

In 1960, an odd little film called Little Shop of Horrors came out to rave reviews. Well written and original (with a young Jack Nicholson in the cast), the film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. Strangely, its creator didn’t copyright his creation and the movie fell into public domain. The movie gained a cult following and was re-run throughout the 60’s and 70’s and eventually found new life on the stage. The film was re-made in 1986 by Frank Oz starring Rick Moranis and was a moderate success. Then in 1991 Frank Oz decided to turn the concept into a cartoon. But instead of keeping the edgy tone of the original, or even of the play, or even of his own re-make, Frank Oz dumbed down the cartoon to the point where the man-eating plant didn’t eat people, it was just smart. The musical numbers were watered down to G rated hiphop. And Frank Oz couldn’t even get any of his actors to do voice over work for the series. A 13 episode mistake.

4. RoboCop – RoboCop: Alpha Commander

Another edgy movie with dark themes, RoboCop was the surprise hit of 1987. Again, sequels, video games, and cartoons evolved. But here it’s a little different, for RoboCop was made into 1988’s RoboCop: The Animated Series. Even though it wasn’t great, it wasn’t that bad, at least attempting to capture the spirit of the film. The series only lasted 12 episodes, then off to oblivion. Then in 1998, for some unknown reason, MGM Animation tried a second crack at the RoboCop franchise coming up with RoboCop: Alpha Commander where RoboCop is now the robotic form of Inspector Gadget fighting the forces of D.A.R.C. (You know, Directorate of Anarchy, Revenge, and Chaos). Last year it was announced that MGM Animation was re-opening it’s doors, so look for Starship Troopers: The Animated Series to be added to my list in 2016.

3. Star Wars – Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Star Wars Clone Wars

Clip unavailable:  currently aired on the Cartoon Network

So many choices here. The original Star Wars is universally acclaimed as one of the greatest movies ever made. It also spawned one of the most lucrative franchises based on a movie in the history of mankind. Problem is, after the first three movies, no one uses the word ‘great’ anymore when it comes to describing the actual product. Sticking strictly to cartoons, Star Wars has spawned cartoon movies and cartoon series, all of which can be described as average, at best. At least in the 80’s, the cartoon spinoffs Star Wars: Ewoks and Star Wars: Droids had the novelty of being a bit cheesy. But in 2008, out comes Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a CGI extravaganza that, as opposed to a lot of the entries on our list, looks like it cost a boat load of money to make. I watched the first episode and actually got a headache. Second episode I simply shook my head in disgust. I am now convinced that George Lucas would slap a Star Wars sticker on a shiny rock if he thought it would make money.

2. Godzilla – Godzilla

Hanna-Barbera is responsible for some of the most beloved cartoon characters in America, but in 1978 they really missed the mark with their series Godzilla. Godzilla made his first appearance in Japan in 1954 and has starred in almost 3 dozen films since in multiple countries and languages. The original is great, films like Godzilla vs. Megalon and Godzilla’s Revenge, not so much. When Hanna-Barbera’s version came out, the stars of the show were a team of scientists and Godzilla’s son Godzuki. Whenever the scientists would stumble into trouble, they would call Godzilla as a last resort. So let me get this straight, the show is called Godzilla, but the giant lizard is in about 2 minutes an episode? NBC tried this cartoon alone, then tried bundling it with Hong Kong Phooey, The Globetrotters, & Dynomutt in order to trick kids into watching it.

1. The Wizard of Oz – Tales of the Wizard of Oz

Tales of the Wizard of Oz is unequivocally the worst cartoon ever made where more than 25 episodes exist. In any category. One of the first forays into animation by the holiday hitmakers Rankin/Bass, Tales of the Wizard of Oz borrows characters from both the iconic movie and L. Frank Baum’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. In 1961, they churned out 200 episodes of pure crap. There are no redeeming qualities to this cartoon at all and all of the master copies should be burned. Animation, sound, writing, storyline, all are awful and unworthy of the Wizard of Oz name.

Did we miss a terrible cartoon spinoff? Let us know in the comments and maybe we’ll add it to our…

Terrible Cartoon Spinoff Playlist

by Fred Hunt, author of the book American Suicide.


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27 Comments

  1. I remember the Hanna-Barbera version of Godzilla growing up and I did not think it was that bad. Yes it was predictable and corny, but what cartoon show can you not say that about? It is true that the real stars of the show were the team of scientists. But then the real star of The Incredible Hulk was Dr. Banner and so I don’t see the difference. Godzuki I admit was a goofy character, but he provided much needed comic relief. Maybe Godzuki was a little over the top, but then he was supposed to be that way. In summary, I did not think the Hanna-Barbera version of Godzilla was that bad. Give me the Hanna-Barbera version of Godzilla over Yo Gabba Gabba! any day!!

  2. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes… how was that a “great” movie? Great as in “so terrible it’s good”, maybe, but great great? No.

  3. The Clone Wars is not only one the most well done cartoons on television but is also one of the best shows period. It’s very well animated, keeps with the storyline and is very well written. I just get the feeling that whoever came up with this list is old.

    • Wow, I too was shocked to see The Clone Wars included on this list. Sure the MOVIE was pretty weak, but the TV series has been stellar! Critics & viewers alike agree, IGN, IMDB, Amazon, etc. reviews are all very favorable towards The Clone Wars TV series. Season One started off slow for the first few episodes, but really picked up in quality towards the end, and later seasons just get better & better.

      • Okay, I hated the Star Wars prequels with a passion, but I loved Clone Wars. It definitely doesn’t deserve to be on this list. It took a crappy movie and made something great out of it. That’s the opposite of what this premise is about.

        • I’m a little on the fence about Clone Wars, but I lean towards liking it. Some of the story lines are just terrible and have no purpose to them. Some, however, are pretty good. The story about Ventress after Dooku dismisses her has been pretty good. The arc titled “Secrets Revealed” was pretty good. I’m enjoying the one with the Mandalorians too. But then there are so many that are just nonsensical and serve no purpose in the story other than keeping the show on the air.

          I like it, but only enough to get me to keep giving it a chance.

  4. I can’t believe that the Back to the Future cartoon series wasn’t on here…but then again, I remember liking that show quite a bit.
    So maybe it’s right that it should not be on the list.

    Very well then.

  5. David Fullam on

    I was the neighborhood Godzilla expert, so the rest of the kids always looked to me for Godzilla opinions. Man, did I hate the HB show. Godzuki needed to die a horrible death in the worst way. How could they screw it up so bad? Godzilla didn’t look right, didn’t have the trademark roar, breathed fire and not a heat beam, had laser vision, and got dehydrated from being on land too much. WTF? At least it couldn’t get worse.

    Oh…wait. American Godzilla movie. I stand corrected.

  6. So you saw two episodes of the clone wars and decide it’s one of the worst animated series based off a movie? Wow…Sure, the first few episodes were rough, but the show got MUCH better, and has actually become a great show on it’s own. I actually wish the prequels had been half as good as this show turned out. I think you need to sit down and reevaluate it.

  7. Peter Boucher on

    How about this. Cartoons that were a spoof or parody on famous television shows. Here are 2 examples. 1). “The Flintstone’s” was a cartoon comedy based on “The Honeymooner’s” Jackie Gleason, Art Carney and Co. and 2). “Top Cat” was a cartoon based on the old Phil Silver’s show, “Sgt. Bilko”. Two other facts. Back in the 50’s and early 60’s when a husband and wife went to bed on their respective TV show, they would sleep in separate beds. The Flintstone’s (Fred and Wilma) we’re the FIRST to sleep in the same bed. Also, if you remember The Sgt. Bilko show from the 50’s, there was a character named Pvt. Doberman. He was the rather dimwitted, short, rather heavy set Private in Bilko’s platoon. When the Sgt. Bilko show went off the air, he then provided the voice over for the cartoon character “Benny” on Top Cat.

  8. The clone wars was all right, and i can’t believe “Extreme Ghostbusters” wasnt on the list. The writing of this list is very dry, btw.

  9. The Clone Wars is a great….GRRREAAAAT show. But Lucas killed the star wars brand a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.

  10. Peter Boucher on

    Let us change the theme of the name of this list to “Great Cartoons turned into terrible Movie Spoofs. Here is my prime example. The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show turned into the movie : “Rocky and Bullwinkle” starring Robert De Niro as Fearless Leader (what was he thinking when he chose that role !!??) Jason Alexander as Boris and Rene Russo as Natasha.

  11. Regarding Clone Wars: never mind how good the cartoon is, isn’t this list supposed to be GREAT movies with cartoon spin-offs? The Star Wars prequels were just awful. George Lucas once managed to sell an empty box because it was SW-branded, a shiny rock’s not much of a stretch. Lucas sold out long before this show… Star Wars Holiday Special anyone?

  12. WTF are you talking about Godzilla you MORON? That was a great cartoon and I love the theme song too.

    Up from the depths, 30 stories high, breathing fire, his head in the sky Godzilla! Godzilla! and Godzuki.

  13. Jackie Chan Adventures was freaking brilliant. It wasn’t supposed to be taken seriously. It was a comedy for crying out loud. The comedy was golden, and unspoiled by dating. I still love watching it on various websites. Bite me. Jackie Chan Adventures ruled.

  14. well i think that jackie chan adventures was pretty good and was full of comic moments. and clone wars wasnt bad either.

  15. Toxic Crusaders based upon Toxic Avenger
    Beetlejuice
    Back to the Future
    Teen Wolf
    The Mask
    Ace Ventura Pet Detective
    Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

  16. I cannot believe this list! The Godzilla cartoon was pretty good actually! I did enjoy it actually. Both me and my dad are both HUGE Godzilla fan’s but we enjoyed the cartoon! Jackie Chan Adventures is also a really great show with some great humor and action! But the fact that you went as far to put FREAKING, STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS ON THIS LIST IS RIDICULOUS!!!! Some of you may think I’m overreacting a bit, and maybe I am but i’m sure that SOME of you feel the exact same way. Let me tell you something PAL the fact stands that if you ACTUALLY CONSIDER FREAKING STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS, to be not just a BAD show but a TERRIBLE ONE! You sir have VERY LOW STANDARDS!!!! UGH! Thank god I got that out of my system!

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