Do you ever look back at cartoons you watched in the 80s and 90s and wonder how it made the transition from R-rated movie to Saturday Morning cartoon?
To be clear, not every cartoon on this list came from an R-rated movie. There are some that were PG-13, or even PG in the days before PG-13. But all of them were spawned from movies that weren't necessarily geared towards children, either by general tone or content. Movies with graphic violence and nudity, or extremely rude and crude humor ended up on TV screen in front of children in the 80s and 90s.
The idea for RoboCop may have been taken from cartoon characters like Iron Man and Judge Dredd, but the movie that hit the big screen in 1987 was anything but geared towards children, featuring nudity, graphic violence, and gore. But taking those aspects out and you're left with a character right out of the comic books children were reading in the 80s and 90s.
Here, we have not one, but two cartoons that spawned from RoboCop. The first had an extremely limited run, with 12 episodes in late 1988. 'RoboCop: The Animated Series' stayed true to the events of the movie as much as possible, featuring many of the characters from the movie including Clarence Boddicker and his gang. 'RoboCop: Alpha Commando' had a 40 episode run 10 years later and served as a follow-up to the original series, with RoboCop being reactivated after 5-years offline.
A Vietnam vet with PTSD? That has children's cartoon written all over it!
'Rambo: The Force of Freedom' was definitely riding on the success of the G.I. Joe cartoon and action figure line, with Rambo and his fellow soldier fighting S.A.V.A.G.E across the country. The show also had a tie-in action figure line that proved to be a financial success, but the series only ran for a single season of 65 episodes.
A series about immortals sleeping and fighting their way through the centuries definitely appeals to the younger audience, right?
Instead of directly adapting the existing movies and live-action TV series, the cartoon took a futuristic approach with the pretense that the immortals from Connor's time agreed to put their swords down and work for the betterment of humanity after a meteor hit Earth with apocalyptic results. The show picks up 700 years later with Quentin MacLeod being the primary character. The series had a decent response from fans, warranting 2 seasons and a total of 40 episodes.
Many children of the 80s remember 'Teen Wolf' with high regard, but we tend to forget that it was a movie we probably shouldn't have watched at a young age. Parties with underage drinking and games of seven minutes in heaven, to Scott using his wolf abilities to hunt down Style's weed stash, there were many themes in the movie not fit for children.
In transitioning to a cartoon, a few changes from the movie were made, like additions of a grandpa and little sister to Scott's family, and Scott being a werewolf is a closely guarded secret. The show never reached the acclaim and success of its namesake, only running for 20 episodes across 2 seasons. The show officially ran for a 3rd season, but was entirely reruns.
Another film series that children of the 80s were likely familiar with that we shouldn't have been watching. Though the series definitely tamed down after the first two films, the Police Academy movie maintained a mature sense of humor with the running gag of the gay bar, and the sexualized view of Lt. Callihan.
A cartoon series taking place between the 4th and 5th movies debuted in 1989, pitting the beloved characters against cliche cartoon villains. Running for 2 seasons and 65 episodes, the series also spawned a fairly successful action figure line.
The career of director Paul Verhoeven is marked by satirical, hyper-violent movies, that almost always feature multiple scenes of nudity. In other words, not kid friendly. Yet this is the second of his movies to be adapted into a cartoon!
Compared to the other cartoons on this list, this one is the most recent and has the distinction of being CGI as opposed to hand-drawn. 'Roughnecks' was broken up into 5-episode blocks, with each block covering a military campaign of the title group of soldiers. Ultimately, the series was considered a failure, only running for a single season and ending on an unresolved story arc.
Some might argue the inclusion of 'Beetlejuice' to this list, but it cannot be declined that the film is a bit dark to be considered kid-friendly, and the comedy was geared more towards adults, such as a memorable scene of Beetlejuice honking something on his body that wouldn't fly on ABC family today. However, the cartoon adaptation was definitely family friendly, and is arguably the most-successful cartoon on this list.
Changing the dynamic between Beetlejuice and Lydia to that of best friends, the series bounces between Lydia's world and Beetlejuice's Neitherworld, adding a lighter, quirkier tone while keeping a very similar style to the original film. The series was a success for 4 seasons and nearly 100 episodes across two networks.
Jim Carrey's breakout movie role is far from the family-friendly film that his follow-up, 'The Mask', was. 'Ace Ventura' was more geared towards a teenage audience, featuring Ace receiving sexual favors as payment for finding a dog, talking out of his butt, and revealing the villain's transgender nature by showing everyone her tucked away junk.
In cartoon form, Ace kept the immaturity of the humor, and replaced the sexuality of the movie with more and more slapstick. Airing in a block with the animated version of 'The Mask', 'Ace Ventura' failed to land a consistent audience, getting cancelled from ABC after 2 seasons and moving to Nickelodeon for 1 more season. The show is notable for featuring the early writing work of Seth MacFarland.
With Conan, this is not necessarily an adaptation of the Schwarzenegger movies as much as its adapting the original literary and comic book character. However, when the first of two Conan cartoons hit in the early 1990s, most audiences were more familiar with Arnold's R-rated work as the character.
'Conan the Adventurer' and 'Conan and the Young Warriors' were nothing more than a 90s attempt to recycle the popularity of He-Man the previous decade. 'Conan the Adventurer' did enough to gain an audience for 65 episodes over 2 seasons, but its successor, 'Conan and the Young Warriors', bombed big-time and was cancelled after 13 episodes.
A dashing, mysoginistic spy with a license to kill who beds an average of two women per movie. Sounds like a kid's cartoon to me!
While there were running jokes among fans of Bond having illegitimate children due to his love life in the movies, and even having an illegitimate child in the books, James Bond Jr. was actually Bond's nephew who went to a boarding school with the offspring of other Bond characters, such as the son of Felix Leiter and the grandson of Q. Jr. battles several of his uncle's iconic villains like Jaws, Oddjob, and Goldfinger, along villains created specifically for the cartoon. Though the series lasted a single season, that season was 65 episodes, and the show had a moderately success toy line.