If there is something Hollywood loves to do, it’s making lots and lots of movies! However, with so many coming out every year, not everything is of good quality. No matter how much time is invested, sometimes a film simply flops. The reasons for this are too numerous to mention. Hollywood also likes to take things that were once successful and try to make them successful again. Sure, it’s a nice idea in theory, but doesn’t necessarily work, whether because of the time, place, or target audience. Really, some things are better left in their original form. In the following list we have a number of animated programs that were fairly successful and popular during their time on television, and would have been better suited to be left that way!
The collection on this list includes animated programs from the decade of the 1980s. While some have had the misfortune of being made into films (as you’ll learn), others haven’t. Despite something being commercially successful, does that mean it actually needed to be done? We understand that money is to be made and the opportunity is there to be seized. However, sometimes we covered our eyes from the train wreck that some of these films became, while being grateful Hollywood hasn’t caught on to some other cartoons that were great just the way they were. How long will that last? There is no telling for sure! What we can be assured of is that Hollywood took some amazing cartoons from the 1980s and squeezed the life right out of them, and they probably aren’t done doing that.
Which 1980s cartoons do you think could be included in a follow-up list, and do you agree with the arguments made here?
8 Animated Programs From the 1980s That Shouldn’t Have Been Remade
8. Fat Albert
Despite facing a deal of bad publicity recently, Bill Cosby was synonymous with two programs throughout his career, the hit 1980s sitcom ‘The Cosby Show,‘ and an animated cartoon that debuted in the early 1970s ran until 1984, and remained in syndication for many years. The animated program was based on Cosby’s reflections on his childhood and his group of friends. The show focused around Albert, who was the rotund, good-natured, amusing conscience of the group. It was a fun show for children to watch, and often left them with a meaningful message afterwards. 20th Century Fox produced a live-action version of the popular program in 2004 that left a lot to be desired. It was a critical flop, as it was considered rather bland, whereas the animated program could achieve things with their animation style, that the live adaptation simply could not.
7. Scooby Doo
The popular animated program about a talking dog and his friends who often get into trouble and solve mysteries rose to prominence over the course of a few decades. It has certainly seen its share of reboots, adaptations, and remakes, all in an attempt to reach new viewers. There were three different Scooby Doo programs during the 1980s and this is why it finds itself on this list. The animated franchise has also seen its share of real live film adaptations as well. While it may have earned close to $300 million at the box office worldwide, it was missing that special quality that made the animated program so special. The real life adaptations of these characters lacked the qualities they had on the show, with maybe the exception of Velma. Scooby Doo will continue to make animated films and crossovers with other streams of entertainment and we are sure they’re enjoyable (he even teams up with John Cena!), but the real life adaptation fell flat.
6. Jem and the Holograms
They were truly outrageous! The show was a huge hit during the three seasons that it aired, capturing the attention of not only kids, but their competition. Jem and the Holograms for those that aren’t aware was about a band whose lead singer had an alter ego, Jerrica Benton, who acted as a music company owner that would represent the band. They had two rival bands “The Misfits” and “The Stingers.” Off screen, the show faced competition from Barbie (yes, the popular doll.) As Jem’s success and popularity increased, it spawned “Barbie and The Rockers”. Recently, Jem was made into a major motion picture that didn’t pay any homage to the original television show in any way, shape or form. If you haven’t had the opportunity to watch the show, it is sure to be a hit with kids today just as it was during the 1980s, just pretend the movie never happened.
5. The Smurfs
This was one show that, while a successful television program in the 1980s, really didn’t need to be a major motion picture. While we do realize that the film wasn’t completely animated, it included characters that were CGI. The show didn’t originally air in North America in the 1980s, but rather in the 1960s, as it was originally conceived by a Belgian artist and aired in French. However, it was in the 1980s that the program earned a great deal of popularity, as it even spawned animated films that were simply extensions of the television show. The recent live-action and CGI movie may have been a nice way to reintroduce the Smurfs to a new generation, but they could have easily done the same thing by putting it on the same network that made it popular, NBC.
The popular 1980s television series was another character that had an alter-ego, Prince Adam. When he the Most Powerful Man in the Universe, He-Man, he fought a number of different adversaries, mainly Skeletor. The character was developed in the 1970s, but rose to popularity in the 1980s. There were a number of characters spun off, including his sister, She-Ra the Princess of Power, who was intended to appeal to little girls. In 1987, “Masters of The Universe was a major motion picture that starred Dolph Lundgren in the role of He-Man. The film was awful, and really didn’t reflect how the character was in the animated show. While it could probably be done differently today, it was better to leave the memory of the character alone.
While this selection may receive flack, consider it a perspective on something that had a solid following as an animated show. The program had two separate generations, the first one running from 1984-1993. For a television program, let alone an animated one, to run nine years was truly unusual and a testament to how amazing they were. The second generation is made up of the five live-action films that were made based on the program and exploited the devoted following of the program. While the Autobots and the Decepticons may have battled each other countless times over the years that doesn’t mean that the characters’ likenesses needed to be replicated in CGI form. The television series spawned television movies and had a certain quality that simply isn’t replaceable. What is interesting to note is that much like Jem and Barbie were rivals, the Transformers and GoBots were also considered rival franchises.
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Heroes in a half-shell, turtle power! Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michaelangelo have been reinvented multiple times, attempting to recapture the popularity of the first time the show aired. In 1987, the show had a fun and light-hearted nature, which was what had appealed to audiences. It managed to take four turtles and one rat’s love of pizza, combine it with martial arts, and gave them opposition to take down. They introduced other non-turtle characters as well, humans that simply supported the turtles’ cause. Casey Jones and April O’Neil were allies of the Turtles. Their main adversary was Shredder, but at times they would have to battle the likes of Bee-Bop and Rocksteady as well. Despite the countless reboots of the program, the live action films and its sequels, and the recent reboot of the film, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles peak was when it originally debuted.
1. G.I Joe
This was a strange one, simply because its origins aren’t when I had initially thought they were (as I am a child of the 1980s). G.I Joe, The Real-American Hero, was originally introduced in the 1940s as a comic strip. The patriotic nature of the character was something that resonated well with the American public. It was re-launched in the 1980s with new characters and adversaries, and crossed over into other forms of media. The toyline even included former professional Sgt. Slaughter as a member of the G.I Joe squad. The characters created for the animated series of the 1980s had their own personality and nuances about them that made them special. When it was made into films that mystique was lost. The look and feel of the characters was not much like what we saw in the form of Dwayne Johnson and Channing Tatum.
It only lasted for one season, but the 65 episodes of BraveStarr were unforgettable. The program originally ran from 1987 to 1988, but then ran in syndication for a year after its conclusion. The show’s success was accompanied by the release of action figures. The show combined qualities of both western and science fiction films. The program took place in the 23rd century on a planet known as New Texas. For those who didn’t get the chance to see it, it was based on Marshal BraveStarr, who was a native American that was able to draw on the spirits of different animals to grant him superhuman characteristics. The program’s villains all had western themed names, such as Stampede. It was a program that should be best be remembered by renewed syndication because making it into a live action film may result in it being no better than He-Man or G.I Joe.
The show only ran for a few months in 1986, but still produced 65 episodes. It was essentially supposed to be like Thundercats, but set in space. The program focused on Commander Stargazer, who recruits the SilverHawks. To make them even cooler, the SilverHawks are half steel and half real. Their role is to fight Mon*Star, an alien mob boss that transformed into a huge metal covered creature. The head of the SilverHawks is QuickSilver, who has a metal bird as his sidekick known as TallyHawk. Lt. Colonel Bluegrass, twins Steelwill and Steelheart, and the Copper Kidd completed the team. The characters have personality, but given the outer space setting, it would lose a lot if it was remade into a live-action film. The use of CGI to recreate these characters would also take away what the animation achieved. It is another one in a long line of animated programs that needs to remain just the way it was.
The show was divided up into two separate runs, the first one between September and November 1984 and the second one between October and November 1985. It has taken on many different variations in its time, but has generally remained the same. Five different robot lions come together to form one super robot, and fight crime. The show was initially adapted from a Japanese anime program, and spawned comic books and other animated television series. It may be hard to convince fans of the animated series that a live action version of this program would be as believable or compelling. The fictional and creative manner in which the robots come together would be the trickiest thing to pull off, but if they did, you can imagine it would look great. It really isn’t worth the risk though, and let’s keep Voltron as being strictly fondly remembered!
4. Bionic Six
This animated program managed to combine superheroes and family, while recognizing various cultures in the process. If you need a reference point, these guys were like The Incredibles. The program ran from 1987 to 1989, and like a number of other popular animated shows was a mix of both American and Japanese animation. It was great because the family members alter egos all highlighted what their particular strengths were. Karate-1, Sport-1, Bionic-1, Rock-1, IQ, Rock-1 and Mother-1 were the six members, and it recognized different cultures by including not only a white family, but family members that were both Asian and African-American. It really seemed to go under the radar, and the collection of family members really showed they could work together to fight a common foe.
If you haven’t heard of this cartoon before, don’t worry; sadly it wasn’t around for more than a few months. COPS, or Central Organization of Police Specialists, was ahead of its time. Its tagline was “Fighting crime in a future time, protecting Empire City from Big Boss and his gang of crooks”. It borrowed from the film Robocop, except that these were officers weren’t completely robotic. They seemed edgier, perhaps because they were police officers that didn’t necessarily wear uniforms. They were led by Baldwin P. “Bulletproof” Vess, who was, an FBI agent. His life was saved after scientists reassembled him, recreating his midsection so that it was ‘bulletproof’. Other members of the team included PJ “LongArm O’Malley, Rex “Bowser” Pointer, Walker “Sundown” Calhoun and Susie “Mirage” Young just to name a few. This actually could work as a live-action film, but then, why try and fix what wasn’t broken.
2. M.A.S.K (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand)
What will immediately jump out to some is how M.A.S.K resembles another popular Hasbro franchise, G.I Joe. The premise of the program was based on a vigilante underground unit led by Matt Trakker that would fight V.E.N.O.M (Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem). The series lasted only one season, but the action figures were in circulation two years after the program came to an end. As much as it would be great to see this show left alone without being turned into a major motion picture, sadly money talks. It was noted in December 2015 that M.A.S.K in some way shape or form would receive a real live reboot. There have been some discussions about a cross-over with G.I Joe, or a film that stands alone. Regardless of whatever the decision may be, the program would be best left as a classic 1980s cartoon.
Some things have been kept sacred…or at least we can hope! The original animated television show aired between 1985 and 1989 in North America but was originally developed in Japan. The premise of the show was of half human/half cat creatures residing in a unique world. The show later became available in a video game as well. The group was led by Lion-O and included characters such as Tygra, Jaga, Cheetara, and Pantro, among others. The group’s greatest foe was Mumm-Ra, a mummy who was the spirit of evil. As you can see, each character’s name included some form of feline. Within the last few years, another animated version of the show was created and there has been discussed of a live action film taking place. It doesn’t matter who they would cast in it though, Thundercats has already hit its peak with the cartoon series.