Animated sequels are a long-standing, if unusual, tradition in television. Sometimes cartoons receive traditional sequels, reboots, and reimaginings, like the installments in the Transformers animated franchise. Other live-action series, like Star Trek, have received worthy adaptations and sequels in an animated format.
However, in contrast to Star Trek: The Animated Series, there are many baffling sequels to shows throughout pop culture. At times, making an animated series has seemed like TV producers’ go-to move when they either didn’t know what to do with a franchise or didn’t know when to let it die. The results speak for themselves.
10 Gilligan’s Planet Put The Sitcom Castaways In Space
Gilligan’s Island ran for three seasons in the mid-1960s but it gained a certain kind of immortality in syndication during the 1970s and 1980s. As a result, the comedy about seven pleasure cruisers eternally trapped on a tropical island had already sparked an animated sequel, Saturday morning’s The New Adventures of Gilligan. New Adventures didn’t make much sense, but it sparked less incredulity than its short-lived sibling, Gilligan’s Planet.
Almost the entire cast returned for the 13 episodes of Gilligan’s Planet that made it into CBS’s Saturday morning lineup. The resulting product combined the Gilligan franchise with Lost in Space, added a monkey-lizard named Bumper to the cast, and inevitably featured an unreliable coconut-and-bamboo-powered interstellar starship.
9 Conan The Adventurer Created A Family-Friendly Barbarian With A Non-Lethal Sword
Robert Howard’s Conan the Barbarian may be the most important character in the swords-and-sorcery subgenre. Famously, the 1982 film Conan the Barbarian helped launched Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career and 1984’s Conan the Destroyer brought the same characters into a PG-rated film. At its core, though, this was a violent R-rated franchise, so turning it into a kids’ cartoon was a weird move.
A decade after the films, this 1992 cartoon ran for two seasons. It featured the familiar Cimmerian warrior fighting demons and sorcerers in a family-friendly format — the heroes had magic swords that teleported their foes to another dimension. It was a bit like giving the Punisher a taser and ultimately Conan the Adventurer‘s bloodless action series never gained many fans.
8 The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang Turned Teens Into Time Travelers
Happy Days was a 1970s sitcom set in the 1950s so maybe there’s a world where turning teenagers like Richie Cunningham and Arthur Fonzerelli into time travelers makes sense. Pairing them with Cupcake, a magical teenager from the future, is a heavier lift but feels almost manageable. However, since the Fonz was the original series’ most popular character, this animated sequel turned Henry Winkler’s innate coolness into a superpower and gave him his own Scrappy-Doo in the form of his anthropomorphic canine sidekick, Mister Cool.
The Hanna-Barbera series managed to get the original show’s entire cast back, including legendary director Ron Howard, but rendered the series unwatchable by shaping Fonzie into an infallible force of nature. The sci-fi premise was also awkwardly executed and the show’s plot was just a rehash of Sid and Marty Krofft’s Lost Saucer. It wasn’t original but it was strange enough to be unforgettable.
7 Legend of the Super-Mutants Made the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Into An Earnest Parody
When the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series meandered to Japan, it received three different dubs with different plotlines. As a result, the characters saturated Japanese media but their portrayals were incredibly inconsistent. This helped make Legend of the Super-Mutants almost make sense.
This two-episode sequel to the original TMNT adventures threw away the Turtles’ continuity and gave the heroes and villains temporary super forms that they transformed into using magic crystals. The resulting Super Saiyan turtles were hilariously muscular and combined into a giant robot to destroy super versions of Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady. This series was an intentional parody of anime tropes but it was so earnest that it was hard to tell that the creators were joking.
6 The Gary Coleman Show Turned A Made-For-TV Movie Into A Wild Cartoon
Gary Coleman was a child actor most famous for playing Arnold on Diff’rent Strokes. He also starred in the 1982 made-for-TV movie The Kid with the Broken Halo, which didn’t make much of a splash.
However, it did result in the animated spinoff, The Gary Coleman Show, in which Coleman voiced his animated doppelganger, an “angel in training” disguised as a kid. The series provided Coleman’s character, Andy, with a demonic adversary named Hornswoggle, but little else. Like Gilligan’s Planet, it was removed from Saturday mornings after 13 episodes.
5 Laverne & Shirley In The Army Is Exactly What The Title Promises
More Private Benjamin than Laverne & Shirley, Laverne & Shirley in the Army took the single girls from their popular, pioneering, and game-changing sitcom and had them join the military, apparently out of boredom.
Sadly, this Hanna-Barbera series turned its titular characters from independent-minded ladies into a series of negative stereotypes, making even its young intended audience cringe. Interestingly, the spinoff was a part of the Happy Days extended universe — Fonzie and Mister Cool joined the cast in its abridged second season. Like its time-traveling predecessor, Laverne & Shirley in the Army boasted characters voiced by the original series’ casts, but its weird concept and poor execution resulted in a 20-episode run.
4 Toxic Crusaders Took A Gorey Superhero Franchise And Turned It Into A Series of Snot Jokes
In fairness, no one ever took Troma Pictures’ flagship B-movie franchise, The Toxic Avenger, seriously. Even so, turning their in-house cash cow into a gross version of Captain Planet probably wasn’t their best move. Toxic Crusaders rebooted Toxie and teamed him up with a gang of gross-but-good mutant boys. The show’s tagline, “They’re gross, but they still get girls!” and the all-male cast brought some toxic masculinity to the animated series as well.
This was another R-rated property transformed into family fare, and the resulting single season was even more uncomfortable than Conan’s cartoon.
3 Gadget Boy & Heather Is An Unfocused Prequel For Inspector Gadget
Inspector Gadget may have one of animated TV’s catchiest theme songs, but did it need a spinoff? Gadget Boy & Heather ultimately answered a question that nobody asked: what if Inspector Gadget was a pre-adolescent boy? The titular character was originally voiced by Inspector Gadget‘s Don Adams, and while there’s no canonical link between the characters, it’s obvious that Gadget Boy was the incompetent Superboy to Gadget’s Superman.
This series teamed Gadget Boy with a capable girl named Heather and pitted him against Spydra instead of Doctor Claw. Unnecessary and repetitive, and awkwardly starring a child voiced by an adult man, Gadget Boy brought pretty much the same brand of humor as its predecessor. The character’s origins are clearer in this series — he was created by Myron Dabble, the counterpart to the original Gadget’s Professor Von Slickstein — but the combination of precocity and ineptitude didn’t do the character any favors. It managed to wring two seasons out of its concept.
2 The Thirteen Ghosts of Scooby-Doo Traded In Half Of The Scooby Gang For Real Ghosts
The Thirteen Ghosts of Scooby-Doo did alleviate many childrens’ frustrations by trading in rubber masked frauds for actual supernatural threats. However, the series itself was less atmospheric than the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? and broke up Mystery Incorporated, replacing Fred and Velma with a junior con man named Flim Flam and animation’s most-hated character, Scrappy-Doo.
Even with Vincent Price along for the ride, voicing the Doctor Strange-esque Vincent Van Ghoul, this show was lucky to complete its single-season run.
1 The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley Was Wonderfully Bizarre
In the 1970s, Second City Television was Canada’s answer to Saturday Night Live, and it introduced a host of comedy legends to the screen, from John Candy to Catherine O’Hara to Rick Moranis. As such, an animated series seems like its least likely spiritual successor.
However, The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley managed to transplant Martin Short’s pointy-haired nerd into a wild series of stories accompanied by most of SCTV‘s brilliant cast, with Eugene Levy even reprising the role of the public access horror host, Count Floyd. Leaning into its absurdity, this show delivered genuine laughs, if only for a single season.
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About The Author
Matthew Wood (57 Articles Published)
Matthew is a writer, martial artist, comics geek, and MLS-wielding Librarian. He’s the author of “The Practical Guide for Librarians: Comic Book Collections and Programming,” a title he only slightly regrets, and co-creator of the webcomics “The Dada Detective,” and “Chocolypse Now!” He hails from North Carolina and lives in Spokane, WA with his brilliant wife and daughter. Follow him as