In the '80s and early '90s, seemingly every film and comic franchise imaginable got mined for a cartoon and an accompanying toy line. However, a surprising amount of those cartoons were spun off from franchises steeped in graphic violence, gratuitous sex, and other things generally not intended for children, because money frequently makes a more compelling argument than common sense.

RoboCop Gets Turned into a Weird Inspector Gadget-Like Cartoon

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
MGM Animation

The Mature Source Material:

Originally given an X rating, RoboCop is the hyperviolent story of a cop who suddenly finds himself getting upgraded to "robo" status after being blasted into brain-soaked skull fragments by a gang of murderous drug dealers.

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
Orion Pictures

Blood should have humorously spurted upward, but it didn't. So, serious stuff.

Rebuilt as a cyborg powered by baby food and justice, RoboCop brutally steamrolls his way through the criminal underworld while all manner of stomach-roiling gore explodes around him. A rapist gets shot in the penis, a man gets mulched into wet, quivering pieces by the artillery cannons of an evil walking tank, and Miguel Ferrer snorts lines of cocaine off of two sets of prostitute breasts before getting his kneecaps blasted apart and then blown up with a grenade.

In short, it is one of the finest motion pictures ever made.

The Kid-Friendly Adaptation:

The 1998 cartoon RoboCop: Alpha Commando throws all of that out the window and recasts RoboCop as a dime store Inspector Gadget trying to catch criminals with a healthy dose of hijinks, including one episode where he dresses up as a snowman to save Christmas:

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
MGM Animation

With a green scarf, obviously, to keep his snow warm.

And here he is going undercover in a Carmen Sandiego hat, disappearing so completely into his disguise that we almost didn't recognize him.

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
MGM Animation

"You're not a cop, right? Because if you're a cop, you gotta say you're a cop."

RoboCop, the dick-shooting, neck-stabbing, rocket-launching peace officer with the face of Buckaroo Banzai and the agility of the old Chinese shopkeeper from Gremlins, became a wisecracking slapstick goofball fighting crime with nets, a grappling hook, a glue gun, and a freaking ping pong paddle.

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
MGM Animation

The agility of the old Chinese athlete in Forrest Gump.

He also has a disposable-towel dispenser installed in his iron gauntlet, because apparently people take a lot of dumps in front of RoboCop.

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
MGM Animation

A proper mature adaptation would have built a bidet into his torso.

Instead of the biting Reagan-age satire of the film that birthed him, RoboCop finds himself mired in increasingly ridiculous fantasy conflicts designed to sell action figures to children who have no idea who Ronald Reagan even was.

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
MGM Animation

Unless "two-headed dragon" is some advanced economics metaphor.

RoboCop seems to resolve each of these ridiculous situations by being even more ridiculous himself, clobbering the bad guys and saving the day on a jubilant wave of children's laughter. The show barely lasted a year, however, which seems to suggest (alongside the original film's two sequels, the live-action series, a previous cartoon series, and the impending reboot) that perhaps RoboCop should remain in the 1980s where he belongs.

James Bond Lets His Underage Nephew Take Over

JR
MGM TV

The Mature Source Material:

James Bond, the quintessential secret agent, is best known for murdering supervillains and having sex with every woman he speaks to. We've watched him skate through world-ending scenarios using sophisticated spy gadgetry and witty British sex appeal for 50 freaking years, and even though the movies have never gotten explicit enough to earn anything above a PG-13 rating, Bond is definitely not for children. In License to Kill, a man gets locked in a decompression chamber, pleading for his life, until his face explodes. And Bond has thrown his globetrotting penis into such lazy sexual puns as Pussy Galore and Dr. Goodhead, typically while making even more obvious puns himself.

CKOKCI
MGM

Sometimes the lover has no name. Robbed of his pun, Bond turns to drink.

The Kid-Friendly Adaptation:

The 1991 cartoon spinoff James Bond Jr. stars James Bond's teenage nephew (who for some reason is afforded the "Junior" title despite not actually being the superspy's son) trying to juggle his high school life with titanic battles against a bunch of iconic villains from the film series. However, every single villain has been "reimagined" to look like they all fell into a vat of 1990s toxic waste. Oddjob became a member of Run-D.M.C., for some reason:

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
MGM TV

Razor-sharp hat. Razor-thin 'stache.

The already ridiculous Jaws was made even more so by his subtle transformation into a He-Man villain:

M
MGM TV

The flower counters the ominous, dangerous threat of the hoodie.

And Dr. No became a Chinese zombie wizard with Dr. Claw gloves, because apparently they both went to the same medical school:

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
MGM TV

But no pet cat. That would make him look too much like a Bond villain.

We understand that selling action figures to children is a huge business, but we have to wonder precisely what aspect of a middle-aged government assassin perpetually loaded with an equal amount of gin and STDs made the creators of James Bond Jr. see nothing but dollar signs. The end result is a weird mix of G.I. Joe and Scooby-Doo drowning in early '90s youth culture.

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
MGM TV

"And he can have a mulleted best friend with high top sneakers and hot pink shorts! This thing practically writes itself."

The Toxic Avenger Turns into a Mutant Captain Planet

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
Troma Entertainment

The Mature Source Material:

The Toxic Avenger tells the story of Melvin, a 90-pound weakling who is transformed into a hideous superhero thanks to the hilariously lax waste disposal and transportation laws of New Jersey. The film was meant to parody 1950s B-movies about radioactive mutation by showing what would actually happen to a human being doused in toxic waste.

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
Troma Entertainment

Searing pain. Like aftershave on an 8-year-old's face.

That isn't to say that Melvin doesn't get superpowers -- he totally gets atomic Hercules strength, which he uses to graphically dispatch the city's criminal element, including smashing a drug dealer's head with a weightlifting machine:

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
Troma Entertainment

Unrelated to that, here's a photo of some ice cream with caramel syrup.

The Toxic Avenger (and all three of its sequels) are intensely violent to the point of being grotesque, and like any good independent horror/comedy without an official MPAA rating, there is loads and loads of nudity to bridge the gaps between the hellacious killings. There's even a sequence where a woman has sex with the melty-faced sludge ogre himself:

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
Troma Entertainment

His back looks suspiciously unblemished. Can't wait to see the rest.

The Kid-Friendly Adaptation:

As you have probably guessed by this point, someone watched the movie we just described and thought it would be an excellent idea for a children's cartoon. Thus, the 1991 animated series The Toxic Crusaders was born, which recast the Toxic Avenger as a pollution-fighting superhero with a sentient mop sidekick.

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
Troma Entertainment

In a terrifying alternate America with an undetermined number of states.

He was essentially a Captain Planet knockoff, leading a team of similarly afflicted mutant superheroes who had all come into contact with toxic waste due to the most wildly improbable set of circumstances ever conceived by a professional writing team. One character, Junkyard, is literally a homeless man who was struck by lightning, a junkyard dog, and toxic waste, all at the same time.

t's Clean-u WELCOME Time! up 1 FROMAVILLE TO MAJOR TOXIE! NOZONE DISASTER JUNKYARD 2 OISC SET G
Troma Entertainment

Here's the gang in an Abbey Road homage, showing just how well they could appeal to '80s children.

The Toxic Crusaders were sworn to defend the planet from evil aliens from the planet Smogula who sought to pollute the Earth's environment for their own nefarious purposes. We're not really sure why the Crusaders would feel so beholden to a planet whose own cavalier attitude toward pollution had directly caused all of their hideous disfigurements, and we'll never get a chance to find out, because the show only lasted 13 episodes before everyone came to their senses and realized they were trying to market an X-rated film character to third graders.

Conan the Barbarian Stops Killing People and Sends Them into Space Instead

CONAN
Sunbow Productions

The Mature Source Material:

Conan the Barbarian, the hero from Robert E. Howard's pulp stories and Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1980s, chopped his way across the fictional land of Hyperborea long before conventional history, stopping along the way to have sex with cannibal witches:

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
Universal Pictures

Wool of bat and tongue of dog indeed.

And to chop James Earl Jones' head off:

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
Universal Pictures

Surprisingly, making him squeal like a little girl.

He is the image of the nomadic fantasy hero, wandering through a mythical world opposed on all sides by monsters, sorcerers, and warlords, and drawing all of his problem-solving skills from a resource pool of sex and murder. In the stories, Conan eventually carves out his own kingdom by strangling the current ruler to death on his own throne, because Conan is a stone-cold motherfucker.

The Kid-Friendly Adaptation:

In the early 1990s, Conan embarked on a series of animated adventures in Conan the Adventurer along with his faithful magic parrot sidekick Needle, who was presumably there to make sure Conan didn't have sex with anything or chop anyone's head off.

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
Sunbow Productions

Conan watches his Needle. Needle watches his other needle.

Rather than the wandering blood-and-semen dispenser from the movies and original pulp novels, the Conan in Conan the Adventurer recruits a team of heroes to help him fight against an alien invasion of snake people who have turned his family to stone.

The opening theme song may well be the most insane thing ever recorded for any program in the history of television, because the lyrics just kind of stop for a 20-second breakdown during which a man with a doomspeak voice excitedly screams out the entire backstory of the show and then immediately resumes singing the theme as if nothing has happened.

Conan has a sword crafted from a fallen meteor, which admittedly is pretty awesome. However, the cartoon gets around the inevitable violence that typically results from swinging edged weaponry into the collarbones of other living beings by giving his meteor sword the mystical ability to banish all the snake men back to their home dimension the instant the blade touches their skin. All of Conan's friends also have meteor weapons, so every fight scene looks like a bunch of dudes turning into snakes and then disappearing in a supernova of disco lights.

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
Sunbow Productions

It's the closest thing to sex that he ever experiences.

The Mask Was a Comic About a Mass-Murdering Lunatic

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
Dark Horse Comics

The Kid-Friendly Adaptation:

Yep, we're switching it around, because this time it's the kid-friendly version that you're familiar with. The 1994 superhero comedy starring Jim Carrey was an adaptation of a much different comic. In the film, Carrey plays a man named Stanley Ipkiss, an aw-shucks loser who finds a magical ancient mask that transforms him into a green-faced cartoon character with Chiclet teeth and a full wardrobe of Deion Sanders' suits.

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
Dark Horse Entertainment

Whose eyes and tongue pop out when aroused. So, less cartoony than a boner.

As the Mask, Stanley not only is invulnerable, but has the ability to conjure any kind of prop or physics-defying sight gag he needs to escape any potentially dangerous situation on a crest of pure yucks. Like here, when he ties a bunch of balloon animals to avoid getting stabbed to death by a gang of muggers. Or here, where he makes the entire police force dance to a salsa song instead of cutting him down in the street with a hail of gunfire.

The cartoon series that followed was pretty much the same as the film, with the addition of the requisite absurd supervillains to fill their action figure quota.

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
Dark Horse Entertainment

One villain looks like this, until his head detaches and walks on spider legs.

The Mature Source Material:

The original comic series The Mask is still about Stanley Ipkiss, a loser who finds an ancient Nordic mask that gives him superpowers. Except Stanley is an extreme right-wing lunatic, and instead of using his magic to dazzle would-be assailants so he can make his escape, he creates guns, knives, and bombs to murder every single person who has ever wronged him.

For example, here he is bursting into someone's garage and violently slaying everyone inside for virtually no reason:

M ahom nON I GET i! KRRMAATAAA
Dark Horse Entertainment

It makes sense in context. The context: He felt like killing those guys.

And remember that balloon animal scene we talked about earlier? Yeah, here it is in the comic:

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
Dark Horse Entertainment

Like in the movie, he fires 75 warning shots, but in the comic, he has terrible aim.

Stanley also strolls into his old elementary school and kills his first grade teacher in front of all her students.

NOW. JU'my, CN You DEADMES SPElL AAH UP, SHuT YouL T WoRRY THE KD. Colin EWs SINGE THA'S CMdpREN ENOVGH FiLE, FILE, OVO. FOR TODAALY WOOLPN'T You Say
Dark Horse Entertainment

We're guessing the writer hated elementary school. Based on his subject matter, but also based on his penmanship.

And here he is unloading an Uzi into a policeman's groin, which is only slightly more humiliating than dressing up like a Chi-Chi's waiter and making him dance:

A LITILE HEY AND YORE Song: IL BE T THATUSLY A KILCER! LITLE You ITLe Trott NCEE A AMOOW STAKEOUT Al-Ah-Ab Ve. ENS YOuR PAIS GET ERE FORING, DON'T GOT
Dark Horse Entertainment

And he promised a dance as well. But no one dances. The Mask is a killer AND a liar.

Stanley's girlfriend (who is not Cameron Diaz) eventually puts on the Mask herself and shoots Stanley in the back, ending his reign of terror. Hollywood evidently saw potential in a story about a living cartoon character, but was understandably reticent about making a movie about a wisecracking spree killer with magical powers. So they cleaned up all the comic's cruel brutality and replaced it with spastic Jim Carrey-ness, which is arguably no less cruel.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Were Originally Ruthless Killers

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
Mirage Studios

The Kid-Friendly Adaptation:

If you grew up in the '80s or '90s, odds are you have seen at least one episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the rhapsody of four humanoid karate reptiles who speak exclusively in surf culture buzzwords from the 1980s and eat nothing but takeout pizza despite having no clear source of income.

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
Mirage Studios

They save money by ordering it uncut and slicing it themselves with katanas.

The Turtles punch, kick, and quip their way through armies of robots and a dimwitted rogues' gallery of comical villains. Their archenemy, the Shredder, spends more of his time delivering exasperated one-liners about the competency of his underlings than actually being threatening.

Even though there was a reasonable amount of action in the series, it took an emphatic back seat to lame jokes and ridiculous sight gags. Make no mistake -- this was a comedy show, with occasional fight scenes.

6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material
Mirage Studios

Costumed rumba dancing, groin scenes with no Uzi ... yeah, it's a kiddie adaptation.

The Mature Source Material:

The original comic book Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was created as a parody of Frank Miller's work on Daredevil (Daredevil fights a ninja clan called the Hand, whereas the Turtles fight the Foot). However, despite its conception as a comic industry in-joke and the obvious cheekiness of its title, the Ninja Turtles comic is one of the grittiest goddamned things ever published.

MEICUARLANIGELO WlAThUEG IN LLNDO 44 AL TA 1A LICADY OE of I4 MOONGS... LIETING IT IL62 EACE. dAD KIGEG IT NN000o
Mirage Studios

For example, here is Michelangelo's heart torn out by a zombie.

The slapstick monkeyshines we know and love from the cartoon series are nowhere to be found in the source material. And rather than the frustrated recurring comic relief character he is in the show, the Shredder is a brutally intense and powerfully formidable villain who only appears in a single story arc because the Turtles stab him in the chest and toss him off a building with a live grenade.

EADE PORO BUT PERHAPS NOT!I Thea
Mirage Studios

It surprises Shredder so much that his last word is a sun icon.

The comic is in black-and-white, which is just as well, because if we were to see the horrifically gory aftermath of Leonardo cutting his way through a wave of Foot soldiers (who are human beings, incidentally, and not robots like they are in the cartoon) in full color, we would never sleep again.

CHUDD EO- 4 WTA SHAKEK
Mirage Studios

We assume the artist's models used chocolate syrup instead of real blood.

The jokiness of the cartoon is especially absent in scenes like this one, where Splinter finally succumbs to his old age and dies of a freaking heart attack:

TTHIMP!
Mirage Studios

It's a really really mature comic. Like, geriatric mature.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one of those rare cases when the kid-friendly adaptation actually makes way more sense, because after coming up with the idea of a crime-fighting squad of radical reptiles, why in the hell would your first impulse be to put them in a hyperviolent pulp noir comic book instead of the bombastic 193-episode toy commercial the universe clearly intended for them?


Henrik M. also enjoys posting the random crap he passes for comics here and random art in general here.

Related Reading: Need more creepy stories from kid-friendly shows? Click here. You'll read about the episode of Family Matters where Urkel's satanic doll murdered everyone. And did you know Satan played a role on Fantasia? No, we're not talking about Walt Disney. Round out your reading with a look at the most irresponsibly themed kids cartoon that almost was.

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