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The Most Unlikely Cartoons Based on Live-Action Movies

Updated December 10, 2019 10.0k votes 1.5k voters 432.8k views22 items

Hollywood today makes movies based on comics and cartoons, where it used to be the other way around. Many popular live-action films have led to cartoon spinoffs that are now more or less forgotten. Couldn't afford a sequel? No problem. Get to animating and cast cheaper actors. The stories could continue a lot longer and introduce a bunch more potentially profitable characters - a hypothetical Man of Steel cartoon, for instance, could have been far less clunky in introducing the other superheroes than Batman v. Superman was.

Animated shows based on blockbuster movies used to be a dime a dozen. This kind of thing used to happen a lot, but nobody has gotten too good at preserving the results (which, admittedly, are not always great). Still, no true franchise fan can complete their knowledge without seeking out these cel-bound spin-offs, and odds are you've forgotten at least a few of these existed. That's why this list is here. Journey now into the past,and find continuations of stories you never knew you needed...and maybe still don't.
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  • Spaceballs
    Video: YouTube

    If you were wondering when Mel Brooks would get around to making another Spaceballs to spoof the prequels, well, he already did. You might have missed it on G4, though. Along with telling the origin of Dark Helmet as a boy named Pannakin Crybaby, the series spoofed other properties like Grand Theft Auto and Spider-Man.

    Sadly, just like George Lucas, Brooks felt the need to explain the Schwartz, which comes from Yogurt's gallbladder.
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  • Back to the Future
    Video: YouTube

    Did you ever wonder what happened to Doc Brown and Clara after the events of the movie trilogy? The animated series exists to answer that question, in addition to showcasing the mischievous antics of their kids, Jules and Verne. Returning cast members from the films included Thomas F. Wilson as Biff, Mary Steenburgen as Clara, and James Tolkan as Principal Strickland. Curiously, Christopher Lloyd returned as Doc Brown for live-action segments, but was voiced in the cartoon itself by Dan Castellaneta, better known as the man behind Homer Simpson. Great Scott!

    Even if you never knew this cartoon existed, you're probably familiar with its most famous spin-off. In the live-action segments, Doc Brown would give a science demonstration along with his assistant Bill Nye. The popularity of that part of the show eventually led to the Science Guy getting his own show, and the rest of the story is science fact.
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  • Clerks
    Video: YouTube

    Kevin Smith's thoroughly foul-mouthed black and white 1994 indie isn't an obvious launching pad for a prime time network cartoon, but this did, in fact, happen. Smith developed the show and brought along the whole principal cast, adding Alec Baldwin to the mix as the Mr. Burns-like villain Leonardo Leonardo.

    The series was very different from the source material, dialing up the color, absurdism, and pop culture references for an almost Family Guy feel. Nonetheless, only six episodes were created and ABC only aired two (out of order, no less) before axing Clerks.
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  • Friday
    Video: YouTube

    With its copious pot-smoking and drinking , Friday was never going to translate into a 'toon that could pass Saturday morning standards and practices. So if you're wondering why you never heard that this existed before, it's because it debuted on MTV 2, where, in 2007, you could get away with weed references (in the '90s, MTV would digitally blur all marijuana imagery, and even force Snoop Dogg to change some key lyrics).

    Though he helped develop the show, Ice Cube did not return to voice Craig, which is a shame, as one of the episodes featured Craig hooking up with Condoleezza Rice, and the audio alone would have been doubly amazing with the ex-NWA rapper providing the words. At least the show retained Smokey as a character, a feat the film series couldn't manage when Chris Tucker did not return for Next Friday.
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