The Top 5: Greatest Animated Series Based On A Feature Film

For a long time in the 80s and 90s there was a marriage between film, television, and video games that overlapped one another so drastically that it was shocking. In the 90s if it was a movie, it was turned in to a video game. In the same vein, kids were given adult movies transformed into a Saturday morning cartoons and, in spite of these inexplicable adaptations, they became classics… for better or for worse.

For instance, Kid and Play got their own cartoon in spite of the sexual content and graphic language of House Party. Then there was Rambo, an R-rated action film turned kid-friendly cartoon. Hell, even the Toxic Avenger franchise became a kids show in spite of the fact the original films consist of gore, rape, mutilations, and over the top splatter. Examining this odd phenomenon, we’ve selected the following as our Top 5 nominees for Greatest Animated Series Based On A Feature Film.

The Real Ghostbusters (1986)

top5-ghostbustersNot to be confused with Filmation’s Ghostbusters (like, ever), The Real Ghostbusters focused on the foursome of NYC ghost hunters from the film as they battled a slew of demons, ogres, and specters in the big city. It also explored their sudden friendship with the iconic mascot, Slimer. Aside from an amazing action figure line, the series eventually spun off into Slimer! And the Real Ghostbusters in the late 80s and was even rebooted in the mid-90s with mixed reaction as The Extreme Ghostbusters.

In a great bit of trivia, the late Lorenzo Music voiced Peter Venkman for a few seasons due to his shocking resemblance to the voice of Bill Murray. Years later when Garfield was turned in to a movie, Bill Murray voiced Garfield due to his voice resemblance to the original voice of Garfield, the late Lorenzo Music. In later seasons of the series, Dave Coulier (Full House) went on to voice Venkman.

Back to the Barnyard (2007)

top5-barnyardInspired by the mediocre animated film Barnyard, Nickelodeon gave fans the short-lived Back to the Barnyard where we followed the gang of the barnyard in their more daily, wacky adventures trying to engage in fulfilling lives while hiding their ability to walk and talk around humans. The animated series is infinitely funnier than the original movie with the hilarious Chris Hardwick of Nerdist replacing original voice Kevin James as the head holstein cow, Otis.

Back the Barnyard was filled with a slew of rapid fire jokes, hilarious one-liners, and insanely brilliant meta-humor, which didn’t just break the fourth wall, but smashed every essence of the concept in favor of some genius gags. My favorite non-sequitor included “Ask Dr. Pig” where Pig would engage in his own (brief) instructional segments during the middle of the action. The series lasted four seasons.

Toxic Crusaders (1991)

top5-toxiccrusadersOnly lasting thirteen episodes, I fondly remember loving Toxic Crusaders while having absolutely no idea who Lloyd Kaufman was, or what the heck Troma was. I didn’t care, really, since the series was a fun, and often very funny, superhero show about the Toxic Avenger and his misadventures in Tromaville with his gang of mutants.

Of course, the very gory and gruesome films were watered down to a hard G rating for the show, with Toxie turned in to a more naive and valiant superhero. It was basically the same wacky humor sans the violence. I loved this series, and I loved owning all of the action figures. Now that I have an affectionate knowledge of Mr. Kaufman and Troma, I think I enjoy Toxic Crusaders even more now!

Muppet Babies (1984)

top5-muppetbabiesThe Muppet Babies actually originated in The Muppets Take Manhattan, where the gang thought back to their days as children in nursery school. Apparently the idea had such cache the Henson company created a – now very beloved – animated series. A pre-cursor to Nickelodeon’s Rugrats (which I insist was a rip-off of this show), Muppet Babies focused on a small group of the Muppets (including Kermit, Ms. Piggy, and Fozzy) as toddlers who used their imaginations to get in to all sorts of wonderful and happy adventures.

Looked after by their half-seen caretaker, Nanny (Barbara Billingsley), these adventures would range from space missions to wild west romps and all sorts of journeys in to far off worlds as they learned the basics of being children. In many ways, Muppet Babies is a wonderful relic of late 80s television and influenced many other future shows including Rugrats and Baby Looney Tunes.

James Bond Jr. (1991)

top5-jamesbondjrSome Bond fans absolutely loathe this animated series, but others (like me) really appreciate it for what it is. As a man who’s never seen a single James Bond film, I consider James Bond Jr. a wonderful memory of the early 90s. Every day I’d wake up for school and watch an episode of this show during breakfast and appreciated how it attempted to build a new hero from an admittedly adult source.

Rather than focus on a young James Bond, James Bond Jr. instead focuses on his nephew who engaged in many of the same action-packed adventures as his Uncle James, while wooing the ladies in about as much of a G-rated manner as possible. Overall, the series lasted 65 episodes and was even spun off in to a comic series, a few novelizations for kids, garnered its own line of action figures and was given an NES and SNES game. Personally, I consider it very under appreciated and deserves at least a few viewings from Bond buffs.

What’s your favorite cartoon based on a movie? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Written by Felix Vasquez Jr.

Felix Vasquez Jr. is a pop culture and movie fanatic born and bred. He's a lover of all things horror, admires Superman, loves to listen to classic rock, drowns himself in nineties nostalgia on his free time, and has been writing for almost twenty years. His writing can be found on various online outlets including Crave, Joblo, and Beyond Hollywood; He's also currently running his own movie review website, Cinema Crazed.

71 posts
  • Jason

    I would have to say Muppet Babies. I really enjoyed when they did Star Wars, and when they had to venture into Fozzy to see why he was sick. And it really annoyed me that we never go to see the Nanny’s face.

  • Conan the Adventurer was another classic R-rated movie turned Saturday morning cartoon. Some pretty good stories told there, especially the first few episodes!

  • LaDracul

    There’s been people who think James Bond, Jr. is perhaps not his nephew….seriously, dude slept around a lot… I do agree with “Back at the Barnyard”, but “Jimmy Neutron” has some pretty hilarious episodes.

  • Patrick

    I really liked the Beetlejuice cartoon. Had its own style and humor. Also, the Jim Carrey comedy years were fun (Ace Ventura, Mask, Dumb and Dumber). They weren’t great, but fun.

  • Jacob

    Am I the only one wondering why the MIB cartoon didnt get a mention? Or even the Beetlejuice cartoon?

    • Felix Vasquez Jr.

      Beetlejuice was a sad omission I had to make, and MIB isn’t in the league as Beetlejuice or The Real Ghostbusters. It’s a very mediocre series.

  • Sadly, I actually enjoyed the Droids cartoon as well as the Ewoks cartoon! *hangs head in shame* lol

  • Also, no mention of the Highlander Animated Series?

  • The Bill and Ted animated series deserves a mention also!

  • Wes

    I second (or third) the mentions of Beetlejuice and MIB. MIB didn’t have the greatest animation, but it furthered the franchise’s story and expanded the universe more than any of the entries here (with the possible exceptions of Muppet Babies and Back to the Barnyard, since I don’t remember the former well and never saw the latter). I like the MIB films, but the cartoon was so much richer than any of them.

    Also, I TOTALLY crushed on Agent L/Elle. 😛

    • Felix Vasquez Jr.

      All the spin offs are supposed to expand the story. MIB had great animation, but it wasn’t one of the greatest animated spin offs.

  • J

    i always thought the ask dr pig segments in barn yard where nothing but a cheap dr stupid rip off

  • Nite Owl

    I didn’t see Ghostbusters as a kid until after seeing the cartoon, so suffice it to say I was very confused that Slimer was barely in it, and treated very poorly by our so-called “heroes.” I was so mad, I nearly threw my Ecto Cooler at the screen, but it was so delicious that I couldn’t. That stuff was like crack.