The 10 Most Disastrous Saturday Morning Cartoon Adaptations

#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.

#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.

#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.

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