Login or Register

Sign in with Facebook

In the '80s and '90s, it seemed like every cultural phenomenon was turned into a Saturday morning cartoon. It was a simpler time when kids still wanted to be like their parents and older siblings, and these shows gave them time-traveling, crime-fighting versions of the stuff old people talked about (when they weren't singing Huey Lewis songs or doing blow off the kitchen table).

But, not all fads translated well to Saturday mornings. Below, the 10 worst Saturday morning cartoon translations, complete with symptomatic title sequences and probably too in-depth analysis of why they sucked.

10
Rambo and the Forces of Freedom

Based On:
The novel First Blood, as well as its film adaptation and its sequel Rambo: First Blood Part II.

Sucked Because:
Rambo was an expert in guerrilla warfare--a man who was the best with guns, with knives and with his bare hands. He was a man who had been trained to ignore pain, to ignore weather, to live off the land and to eat things that would make a billy goat puke. In Vietnam, his job was to dispose of enemy personnel. To kill! Period! Except in cartoon form, where Rambo was the leader of a multicultural, G.I. Joe-like squad of do-gooders, each with their own special backgrounds and talents.

Cartoon Rambo was a well-adjusted man, who never talked about his experiences in Vietnam as a prisoner of war or his lingering case of post-traumatic stress disorder. A man who was nonviolent and overcame his enemies through clever thinking rather than an explosive arrow tip to the chest. He was a man who could sustain a poorly-thought-out animated adaptation of source material wildly inappropriate for children for only one season before cancellation.

Evidence from the Title Sequence:
Here we have Rambo skiing down a snowy mountain and dodging flamethrowers, all in the name of protecting the innocent:

Nothing too outrageous there, right? Now check out the trailer for the upcoming John Rambo. Go ahead and skip right to 1:13 where Rambo starts decapitating people and turning entire human bodies into hamburger meat.

Coming out in January, just in time for those of us who grew up on the cartoons!

9
Ghostbusters

Based On:
Not the 1984 film Ghostbusters, but the 1975—76 live-action TV show The Ghost Busters

Sucked Because:
After Columbia Pictures licensed the name Ghostbusters from Filmation for what turned out to be a surprise hit film, Filmation rushed to cash in with an animated revival of its live-action children' series about a pair of bumbling paranormal investigators. It's impossible to enjoy Filmation' Ghostbusters on its own terms. Many was the child who tuned in excitedly to watch the adventures of Venkman,Spengler, Stantz and Zeddemore, only to be crushed with disappointment at having to settle for the antics of Jake Kong, Eddie Spencer and Tracy the Gorilla (Why the gorilla isn't the one named Kong defies explanation).

Viewers used to the portable nuclear accelerators employed by the cinematic Ghostbusters may also be dismayed at the low-tech means used to capture phantasms here, which include trapping them in bubble gum and soap bubbles and throwing rope lassos around them.

Evidence from the Title Sequence:
It starts out as you'd expect: the busters are called to a scene that needs some ghost busting. When they arrive, the ghost in question inexplicably transforms into a random assortment of popular fictional characters including C-3PO, Skeletor and Pres. Teddy Roosevelt. Also, Tracy the Gorilla stands around and looks scared. Hopefully Shaggy gets him some Tracy-snacks from the van.

The first viewing of that opening sequence was a landmark event for many a young Ghostbusters fan, as it resulted in their very first utterance of the phrase, "What the fuck?!?" I mean, if only they'd made a cartoon based on the movie! That couldn't fail to be cool!

Continue Reading Below

8
The Real Ghostbusters

Based On:
The 1984 film Ghostbusters

Sucked Because:
They proved us wrong. Issues with the film' stars over likeness rights forced a redesign of the characters, leading to such oddities as the bizarre, peroxide pompadour sported by Dr. Egon Spengler above.

Bill Murray then asked producers why Dr. Peter Venkman sounded like Garfield rather than himself, which led to voice actor Lorenzo Music being sacked and Full House irritant Dave Coulier getting a steady gig voicing Venkman for the rest of the show' run (perversely, Murray took Lorenzo Music' job voicing Garfield in the 2004 feature film; if Lorenzo Music hadn't died in 2001, you'd think Murray really had it in for the guy).

Basically, Bill Murray did his best to wreck The Real Ghostbusters. But, even he can't be blamed for the elevation of Slimer from a small appearance in the original film to a full-fledged member and official mascot of the team, a move that made the cartoon somewhat more kid-friendly and exponentially more irritating.

Evidence from the Title Sequence:
The creators of the show were criminally out of touch with the liakbility of their ghosts. In the intro, the one from the logo has been turned into a hip cat jiving down the street like he' Michael Jackson in the "Billie Jean" video.

If ever there were a ghost you could get behind, it' this guy. He appears to be minding his own business and even avoids knocking over a couple of trash cans, when the circle with the bar across it swings down and hits him in the face. On the other end of the spectrum, the ghost they've taken as their mascot appears to be mentally retarded and commits an act of sexual aggression just moments after being introduced.

7
Rubik, The Amazing Cube

Based On:
The Rubik' Cube, the fad toy of the early 1980s

Sucked Because:
How can you really make a television about an inanimate, plastic polyhedron interesting? They made the titular cube sentient and gave it a variety of magical powers, which might not have been necessary if he'd had any arms.

Being essentially a double amputee, Rubik was dependent on three Hispanic children who discovered him after he fell out of an evil wizard' stagecoach. Also boasting a theme song performed by a pre-Ricky Martin Menudo, Rubik was surprisingly Hispanic-friendly (Or maybe it wasn't--each episode revolves around the efforts of a trio of young Hispanic thieves to keep the cube' rightful owner from recovering his property, evil wizard or not).

Also, while Rubik could come alive when his puzzle was solved, he was easily scrambled from being merely dropped or touched. As dubious as this is, it' even more of a stretch that his first orders upon being descrambled weren't for the children to glue or tape his blocks permanently in place.

Evidence from the Title Sequence:
Not content with cynically exploiting just one popular '80s fad, the intro tells the story of kids on bikes in the woods finding an alien creature who enables them to fly away from a pursuer. But where do they fly to? Why to a picturesque shot of the children and the alien silhouetted against the moon, of course!

Continue Reading Below

6
She-Ra: Princess of Power

Based On:
The She-Ra series of Mattel toys, a spinoff of the more popular He-Man line.

Sucked Because:
It was essentially a gender-flipped version of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe meant to appeal to girls. But, the girls who wanted a He-Man-style series were just fine with watching He-Man. Meanwhile, boys who weren't turned off by She-Ra or by the character of Madame Razz (basically a drag king impersonating He-Man' Orko) found it hard to accept the token-male character, a bard named Bow. Bow essentially filled the same ecological niche as Eric Erlandson, the guy who played guitar in Hole; no matter how hard you rock, it' still totally emasculating to be the token dude in a chick band.

Compounding the problem, his appearance couldn't possibly have been gayer. Not only did he sing and play harp, but he sported a thick mustache and a heart on the chest of his uniform.

Evidence from the Title Sequence:
While most intros choose to dramatize the origin story, She-Ra directly addresses the camera and explains she' He-Man' twin sister, the producers figuring little girls' smaller brains couldn't be trusted to pick up on image cues. The end result is an intro that comes off feeling like a PSA about magical swords.

5
Fantastic Four

Based On:
Marvel' Fantastic Four comic-book series.

Sucked Because:
The 1978 animated version of the Fantastic Four dumped The Human Torch in favor of a robot named H.E.R.B.I.E., a change allegedly mandated by lawsuit-fearing NBC network execs who feared children dousing themselves in gasoline and lighting themselves on fire. This may be an urban legend; however, the character of the Human Torch had been optioned to Universal and CBS TV for possible development into a film or TV series. Either way, including the brash, thrill-seeking Johnny Storm was a no-go.

Rather than sensibly setting aside the idea of a Fantastic Four cartoon for the time being, Stan Lee dreamed up (read: "ripped off from Star Wars") the idea of an adorable robot sidekick created by team leader Reed Richards. It' the TV cartoon equivalent of, say, Van Halen dumping party-animal bassist Michael Anthony and touring with a new bassist created by Eddie Van Halen instead (say, his son Wolfgang). Not surprisingly, purists hated it.

Evidence from the Title Sequence:
The original cast members emerge from the ship one by one to show off their impressive powers (not sure why Ben Grim almost vomits before turning into The Thing, but that' beside the point). Saving the best for last, H.E.R.B.I.E the robot emerges from the ship fourth and shows off his ability to...wave to the camera.

Continue Reading Below

4
ProStars

Based On:
The most famous athletes in each of the three major sports: Michael Jordan (Basketball) and Bo Jackson (Football, Baseball). Also, a white guy named Wayne who plays something called hockey.

Sucked Because:
It squandered a pretty decent premise: famous athletes using their almost superhero-like athletic abilities to fight crime. Unfortunately, it's unclear if the the shows creators even knew who the three athletes were, or if they'd ever watched sports before.

Gretzky' character spends most of his time talking about how hungry he is, and acting like a general retard. He is mostly used as the outfit' comic relief, because when it comes to using sports to fight crime, the guy who glides around with blades on his feet, deftly wielding a sword-like stick is only good for a few chuckles. Meanwhile, Bo Jackson' character was the Incredible Hulk with a fade, an angry grunting behemoth who rumbled around like a bulldozer, ignoring the fact that Jackson was one of the fastest, most graceful athletes in professional sports.

But the biggest failure is the show's inexplicable treatment of the biggest star of the three: Michael Jordan. The obvious move would have been to turn him into a cross between Stretch Armstrong and a Gummy Bear, capable of using his leaping ability and lanky finesse to fuck up some super villains. Instead, Jordan' character fights crime using hi-tech gizmos some random Yiddish-speaking lady gives him. It didn't even matter that he was Michael Jordan! Kurt Rambis could have been awesome with all the weapons and gadgets that Jewish lady was always giving MJ. Instead of focusing on his other-worldly athleticism, the show made the greatest athlete in the world into a cross between The Hebrew Hammer and Data from Goonies.

Evidence from the Title Sequence:
The coolest moments in the intro are the highlights of Jackson and Jordan from the real world. While cartoon Bo uses a tree to kill some guy driving a tractor, it' nothing compared to his real world gravity-defying wall run. And Jordan flying through the air dunking on Lakers is way cooler than his cartoon highlight, in which he needs rocket-shoes to save a child from a burning building. Rocket shoes? Really? If Carl Lewis was one of the ProStars they probably would have given him a Segway.

3
Hammerman

Based On:
The life and times of pop-rapper MC Hammer.

Sucked Because:
Well, it was based on the life and times of pop-rapper MC Hammer.

MC Hammer was already slightly past his expiration date by the time this (one assumes) fictionalized animated account of his life was aired. While we can't say whether it contributed to his downfall, it certainly made it more difficult to take seriously his attempt to reinvent himself as a gangsta rapper. How do you record a song about being hard core when it was already a matter of public record that your powers stemmed from a pair of sentient-speaking magical dancing shoes?

At least MC Skat Kat had the decency to get off our television sets after one 4-minute Paula Abdul video. Hammerman, on the other hand, was too legit to quit until it was mercifully yanked after 13 episodes.

Evidence from the Title Sequence:
If you ever wanted to see what the intro to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air would have looked like if it told a convoluted back story about crime fighting, was rapped by someone making the lyrics up as he went along and directed by whoever handles production for al Qaeda, well, have at it.

Continue Reading Below

2
Hulk Hogan' Rock 'n' Wrestling

Based On:
The stars of the World Wrestling Federation.

Sucked Because:
There' no way for a cartoon to keep up with the fast-moving, soap-operatic twists and turns of professional wrestling' plotlines, and the WWF' constant personnel changes made Hulk Hogan' Rock 'n' Wrestling instantly obsolete. Even before the show debuted, slated character Mad Maxine had to be replaced because she'd left the WWF. Jimmy Snuka quit the WWF a month before the show debuted, though he still appeared in it. By June 1987, when the show ended, Wendi Richter, Capt. Lou Albano, Rowdy Roddy Piper and Big John Studd were gone as well.

Andre the Giant remained in the WWF, but he was no longer Hulk Hogan' faithful sidekick and had become the WWF' chief villain. Worse yet, the Hulkster' real-life hairline had retreated an obvious 3 inches since the show' debut, making his animated avatar a gross misrepresentation of his actual appearance.

Evidence from the Title Sequence:
In what is no doubt homage to Oliver Stone' Natural Born Killers, the intro cuts between the cartoon world of the show and the real world events that inspired it (Hulk Hogan being the most awesome human being alive). The contrast in hairlines is on display, and the cast of cartoon characters is so large that it' almost impossible to tell what' going on during the car chase.

As you can see, the intro' biggest flaw is the question it fails to answer: Was Hogan able to fight off the mob of blood-thirsty children that swarmed him moments before the title graphic?

1
The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang

Based On:
The long-running sitcom Happy Days.

Sucked Because:
Its birthing of the phrase "jump the shark" aside, the premise of Happy Days was durable enough to last the series' 10-year run. Nevertheless, The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang failed to trust this premise and ran with one that smacked of having been aggressively focus-grouped to death.

Richie Cunningham, Ralph Malph and the Fonz were lost in time and given a time machine to roam throughout history in hopes of returning to 1957 Milwaukee (although anyone capable of traveling the breadth of time and space would surely find somewhere better to be than 1957 Milwaukee).

Added to the cast were the Fonz' talking canine sidekick, Mr. Cool and Cupcake, and a 25th-century space babe with magical powers. It was like shoehorning both The Simpsons' Poochie and The Flintstones' Great Gazoo into a single show.

Oddly, while Richie and Ralph joined the army in the regular Happy Days timeline, after the cartoon' cancellation, it was Fonzie and the grating Mr. Cool who were added to the animated Laverne and Shirley in the Army, where they were killed by friendly fire. Or, should have been, anyway.

Evidence from the Title Sequence:
While the dog, the trippy time-travel sequences and all other manners of ridiculousness are on display, the intro also manages to shoe horn in the sitcom' greatest font of awkwardness: Fonz being 15 years older than the girls he' hitting on. Rather than using the animated format to smooth away some of those years, the animators inexplicably make the cartoon Fonz look even older than the one on Happy Days. This wouldn't be so problematic if the intro didn't hinge on the Fonz trying to get the pigtailed Cupcake to have sex with him in her time machine.

To turn on reply notifications, click here

314 Comments

Load Comments