Top 10 Kids Cartoons Based on Inappropriate Movies
Studios love to milk successful properties for everything they're worth, and sometimes, in an effort to reach a younger demographic, they take mature films and re-purpose them as animated series for children. Below we've got a list of ten films inappropriate for younger viewers - many of which were rated-R - that were surprisingly retooled as cartoons.
'Ace Ventura: Pet Detective'
Jim Carrey's infamous rubber face schtick and his man-child humor is accessible to children, sure, and taking his animal-loving pet detective and turning him into a cartoon is sort of understandable. Plenty of kids watched and loved both 'Ace Ventura: Pet Detective' and its sequel 'Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.' But that doesn't mean that the films were necessarily for kids, especially those smaller youngsters watching cartoons on a Saturday morning. Ace is a detective who literally talks out of his ass and loves making sexual innuendos. The cartoon series focused more on Ace solving cases and the slapstick, oddball aspects of his character, neutering the adult humor to cater to the sensibilities of a younger crowd. And it totally worked because the show ran for five years, from 1995 to 2000.
'Rambo: The Force of Freedom'
Does a mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran with a bloody bone to pick with local law enforcement sound like something for kids? No, which is why the film was rated R (and was, at the time, the first cartoon based on an R-rated movie). The cartoon show based on 'First Blood' aired in 1986 and was cancelled the same year, though its one season was quite lengthy, with 65 episodes. The show removed most of the violence and didn't have a drop of blood, making Rambo part of a team called The Force of Freedom, fighting against an international terrorist organization. While it still had guns aplenty, it relied more on hand-to-hand combat to be more family friendly.
'RoboCop: The Animated Series'
Based on the violent R-rated 1987 Paul Verhoeven film starring Peter Weller as the titular half-man, half-machine, singular law enforcement entity tasked with cleaning up the mean streets of Detroit, this cartoon series began in 1988 and ran for 12 episodes over the course of two months. Like the film, the show was about Alex Murphy, a man turned into a cyborg cop who sets out to clean up Detroit with the help of officer Anne Lewis. Dr. McNamara, creator of the evil ED-260, is featured as the main villain in many of the episodes. Aside from some toned down violence and the absence of drugs, not much changed between the film and cartoon iterations.
'Kid 'n Play'
The rap duo that starred in three R-rated 'House Party' films about wild teenage rappers and their crazy partying antics (and attempts to have sex) parlayed that success into an animated series that ran for one year, from 1990 to 1991 on NBC. On the show they continued to be recording artists, but their antics were toned down and the message of the show became about positive role models and learning valuable moral lessons. The real Kid 'n Play were featured in live action bookends on the show, providing commentary for each episode, but neither of them provided voices for the actual series.
Itself based on a Dark Horse comic book series, the 1994 film 'The Mask,' starred Jim Carrey as a man who finds a magical mask that releases his inhibitions and makes him a cartoonish, trouble-making weirdo with a proclivity for catchphrases and dancing. Like 'Ace Ventura,' 'The Mask' had some sensibilities that could be accessible for kids, a line that Jim Carrey's movies often straddled in the 90s. While the film had violence and sexual adult humor, the show was about the day to day shenanigans that Carrey's character Stanley found himself getting into, along with his loyal dog. The show's 55 episodes ran from 1995 to 1997.
'Dumb and Dumber'
That's right -- Jim Carrey's films inspired three cartoon series, and all three make this list. 'Dumb and Dumber,' the Farrelly brothers film starring Carrey and Jeff Daniels as two well-meaning simpletons trying to return a suitcase of money to a beautiful lady and getting themselves caught up in a web of crime, was also turned into an animated series. The film featured plenty of slapstick alongside the adult-oriented humor, sexual situations, and crude jokes. Naturally, the cartoon chose to focus on the goofiness of the two leads, with Harry and Lloyd and the shenanigans they get into with their big dog van. It also weirdly featured a female pet beaver named Kitty. 'Dumb and Dumber' only lasted for six months, from October 1995 to February 1996, and ran for a total of 13 episodes.
'Beetlejuice' might be the most child-friendly film on this list, as is most of Tim Burton's work, but there's something a little weird about taking a perverted poltergeist in a dark comedy who drops the F-bomb and tries to force a young girl to marry him and making him a more friendly entity for TV. The show also stands out as actually being a decent half hour of animated fun. In the film Beetlejuice is more of an antagonist for much of the runtime, but the show made him friends with Lidia (Winona Ryder's character from the film) and continued to let him use his magic to help Lidia get out of (or into) trouble. The show was mostly successful and ran from 1989 to 1991 on ABC before moving to Fox, where it stayed from 1991 to 1992, and had 94 episodes total.
'The Toxic Avenger'
It's fair to say that the work of Troma Films is not for children. From films like 'Terror Firmer' to 'Tromeo and Juliet,' and the iconic 'Toxic Avenger,' Troma makes low-brow, low-budget, crass fare. It certainly has a strong following, which it used to make 'Toxic Crusaders,' an animated series based on 'The Toxic Avenger' film series. Following the success of environmentally minded cartoons like 'Captain Planet,' 'Toxic Crusaders' featured character Toxie -- a mutant -- leading a group of outsider teens on a mission to save the planet from pollution. The show only had 13 episodes that ran on Fox in 1991, and left behind all the sex and violence that had been hallmarks of the film series and Troma.
Based on the film franchise that gave (burdened) us with seven films from 1984 to 1994, the animated series first aired in 1988 and lasted for two seasons and 64 episodes. The slapstick-heavy, low-brow films (the first of which was rated-R) were about law enforcement officials being forced to accept any and all candidates to the police academy, resulting in a mix of goofballs and simpletons attempting to become police officers. Like most films on this list, the slapstick and goofier aspects were the main takeaway from the 'Police Academy' movies when translated for television. The main crew from the films are joined by a group of K-9 dogs to bumble their way through solving crimes. 'Police Academy' drew many of the actors from the films to provide their vocal talents, including Leslie Easterbrook, Steve Guttenberg, and Michael Winslow -- not that kids would notice this sort of thing.
'Conan the Barbarian'
In 'Conan the Barbarian,' the '82 fantasy actioner starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and directed by John Milius, Conan is asked "What is best in life?" and he responds with "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women." And somewhere, someone in the studio system thought, "This sounds like perfect kids' cartoon material!" 'Conan the Adventurer' dispatched with much of the violence and the themes of fascism in favor of fantasy and legitimate adventure, and ran for 65 episodes from 1992 to 1993. Conan became a more morally upright character in the animated incarnation, displaying a strong moral compass and refusing to engage in illegal activity, whereas in the film he was a murderous womanizer.