8 Cartoons Based On Rated R Movies You Might Have Forgotten About
Primarily in the '80s and '90s, there were a lot of movies made for adults that had wider appeal than filmmakers intended. You may have been six years old in 1988, but you sure as hell knew who and what Freddy Krueger was. And sometimes, television executives caught onto this and decided to be proactive and reach these younger audiences.
How do you do that? You make toys and a cartoon to advertise said toys, obviously. During this time, the best way to make money was to sell toys that you showed off in Saturday morning cartoons. Transformers, GI Joe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: these were all success stories of their days, but they were all family friendly.
There were, however, some cartoons based on movies that very much were not for kids. From a former police officer-turned robotic killing machine to a traumatized Vietnam vet thrust into a GI Joe-like story, there are a few animated series out there that will have you wondering, why did they make that? Here are eight animated series based on rated R movies.
Paul Verhoeven's Robocop is an exceptionally bloody action movie about a man who is part machine, but all cop--one who died but was then brought back to life with computer parts, so he's a bit more of a CyborgCop. It was certainly not a movie made for kids, but kids ended up loving it. So, of course, one year after its theatrical release, a cartoon hit TV.
Robocop only lasted 12 episodes, and obviously--because it was a Saturday morning cartoon--the cartoon didn't have the same level of violence that the films did. Yes, people got shot, a whole lot, but the blood and gore you know and love from the movies isn't there, obviously. Thankfully, we also got action figures.
Rambo: The Force of Freedom (1986)
In 1982, Sylvester Stallone played Vietnam veteran John Rambo for the first time. Although it's essentially an action movie, First Blood is really a movie about PTSD, the way we treat veterans, and how they try to reinsert themselves into society after serving the country, and it has a huge helping of police overreach and corruption. And yes, there's a lot of action, but it's a heavy movie. In 1985, a sequel came out, and in 1986, there was an animated series made for kids.
Titled Rambo: The Force of Freedom, the series ran for 65 episodes. Colonel Trautman put together a special unit called The Force of Freedom which fights the terrorist organization S.A.V.A.G.E., and of course, both teams feature some wildly-colorful characters, like Turbo (voiced by James Avery from TMNT and Fresh Prince), a race car driver and engineer. Yes, it does feel a lot like the GI Joe cartoon, which came to an end two months after the Rambo cartoon began.
Police Academy (1988)
Police Academy (1984) was originally an adult comedy filled with swearing and nudity. It's follow up was PG-13, then there were five more movies all rated PG. The films followed a bunch of silly police recruits in what would eventually become a franchise for the whole family--with some raunchy roots.
In 1988, after the release of the fifth movie, an animated series was released (along with a bunch of action figures). Over the course of 65 episodes, your favorite characters from the movies--all voiced by completely different actors. It was typical zaniness. However, the cartoon's biggest misstep was not casting Michael Winslow to reprise his role as Jones, and in addition to that, instead of wacky sound effects made by someone's mouth, the cartoon just dropped in that noise. So Jones would be trying to distract a criminal and instead of making a cricket sound with his mouth, the show would just drop that sound effect in. Blasphemy.
Toxic Crusaders (1991)
Out of everything on this list, this is the most confusing. Based on the Troma film The Toxic Avenger, a campy film filled with over-the-top violence and a lot of sexual content--like a lot--the Toxic Crusaders cartoon came out a couple years after the third film.
The cartoon follows Toxie, a mutated superhero who wants to keep the Earth clean. However, he has to battle aliens that want to pollute the world so they can inhabit it. Toxic Crusaders is a lot like Captain Planet, but with more colorful characters that come from very adult source material. And, you guessed it, there were Toxic Crusaders action figures.
Highlander: The Animated Series (1994)
Highlander is a film franchise with a great opening movie, a decent TV series, and some not-so-great other films. It's all about immortals that have to cut the heads off of other immortals. The first two films in the franchise were rated R.
In 1994, the USA Network broadcast the animated series, which ran 40 episodes over the course of two seasons. The series took place in the future--the 27th century to be exact--following Quentin MacLeod--of the clan MacLeod--as he takes on Kortan, who wants to kill all the other immortals--while the other immortals work together to preserve human knowledge.
Clerks: The Animated Series (2000)
Kevin Smith's Clerks became a cult classic that launched the career of the young writer/director. The 1994 film followed a couple of "clerks"--one at a convenience store and the other at a video rental--and it was essentially a "day in the life of" film.
Six years later, two episodes aired on ABC right before it was cancelled--out of order, mind you. It was an over-the-top, boombastic version of the movie, and it worked. However, fans didn't get to see the full series until 2001, when it hit DVD. Aside from the Clerks film cast reprising their roles, the TV series also featured Alec Baldwin, Tara Strong, Charles Barkley, and Gilbert Gottfried. While the series had action figures, they came long after the show was canceled.
Conan: The Adventurer (1992)
This is a little of a cheat, as Conan: The Adventurer isn't an adaptation of the two Arnold Schwarzenegger from the '80s--the first of which was rated R and the second was PG. It's an adaptation of Robert E. Howard's character from the 1930s. However, it's still riding high on the popularity of Arnie's movies, so it made the list.
The animated series lasted for 65 episodes in total, over the course of two seasons. The show followed the titular barbarian from Cimmeria, as he searched the lands for a way to cure his family, who were trapped by a spell that turned them into stone. The theme song explains it all.
Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles (1999)
Paul Verhoeven--who apparently loves his movies being made into cartoons--had a huge hit with his 1997 movie Starship Troopers. It's about Earth going to war with an alien species, but the real focal point of the film is that it's propaganda for a futuristic military. It's a great movie.
In 1999, Verhoeven was executive producer of the CG animated series Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles. The animation is very rough, and the story follows troopers called Alpha Team--or Razak's Roughnecks--who go on missions across the galaxy. Yes, they shoot some bugs as well. It doesn't hold up because that animation is so stiff.