The Worst Live-Action Movies Based on Cartoons 

Luke Y Thompson
Updated October 16, 2019 53.3k votes 9.2k voters 470.1k views 22 items

List Rules Vote up the films that most completely screwed up great cartoon shows.

Live-action movies based on cartoons don't have to be bad. A lot of the time, however, they suck. Animation and live-action are very different mediums, and a complex understanding of what makes something work is more essential than a literal replication of drawings. Unfortunately, if you say that to a studio executive, he or she will likely go, "Huh?"

Most of the movies on this list of awful movies based on animated shows share at least one major trait: they were made not because anyone involved gave a damn, but because the studio wanted to milk an already popular brand, even, in some cases, when said brand's popularity had peaked decades prior.

And while you may correctly point out that some of the films on this list originate with source material other than cartoons, they're included if the live-action version incorporated anything that originated in the animated version. Fair enough?
Dragonball Evolution
Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

Dragonball is a cartoon so stylized that making it in live-action is a fool's errand to begin with, and the moment anybody even attempted to style Justin Chatwin's hair into a Goku 'do, it should have been a red flag.

By the time he turns into a giant were-ape at the movie's climax (yes, seriously), the accumulated red flags ought to have summoned a herd of angry bulls. The video above sums it up best.

Actors: Emmy Rossum, Jamie Chung, James Marsters, Chow Yun-Fat, Ernie Hudson, + more

Released: 2009

Directed by: James Wong

Was this the worst?

More Dragonball Evolution 

'Dragonball Evolution' Might Be The Worst Anime Adaptation Ever Made #14 of 97 The Worst Superhero Movies Ever Made #697 of 718 The Greatest Action Movies of All Time

Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

From racial miscasting to barely coherent storytelling to bad 3D post-conversion to The Daily Show's Aasif Mandvi as an unconvincing arch-villain, The Last Airbender is like a perfect storm of badness, especially when compared to its hugely popular animated source material.

And everyone knows it except director M. Night Shyamalan, who still insists his trainwreck is and was popular with children.

Actors: Nicola Peltz, Jackson Rathbone, Seychelle Gabriel, John Noble, Summer Bishil, + more

Released: 2010

Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

Was this the worst?

More The Last Airbender 

14 Insane Fan Theories About 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' #1 of 30 The Worst Movies With Great Trailers #58 of 63 The Best Adventure Movies for Kids

Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

In the first live-action Inspector Gadget, Matthew Broderick makes for an okay substitute for the Don Adams-voiced incompetent detective.

French Stewart is NOT an okay substitute for Matthew Broderick in the straight to DVD sequel.

Actors: D. L. Hughley, Jeff Bennett, French Stewart, Bruce Spence, Elaine Hendrix, + more

Released: 2003

Directed by: Alex Zamm

Was this the worst?

More Inspector Gadget 2 

#139 of 141 The Most Rewatchable Comedy Movies #56 of 56 The Best G-Rated Action Movies #44 of 53 The Best G-Rated Science Fiction Movies

Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

The Scooby-Doo movies written by James Gunn are surprisingly not terrible. So of course some studio executive somewhere had to say, "We're not screwing it up enough! Fire everybody and start again with a prequel!"

At least, you can assume that's what was said. It's the only explanation for the clip above.

Actors: Frank Welker, Robbie Amell, Hayley Kiyoko, Garry Chalk, Lorena Gale, + more

Released: 2009

Directed by: Brian Levant

Was this the worst?

More Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins 

#21 of 22 The Best Versions Of Scooby Doo You Watched As A Kid #67 of 69 The Best Movies That Take Place In Ohio