10 Cartoons That Should Be Terrible But Are Actually Great
Did you ever hear someone describing a show they’re telling you is great and think, “That sounds like the dumbest thing ever”? Or maybe you were watching one of your favorite cartoons and suddenly realized that the premise is totally ridiculous.
Plenty of cartoons start with ideas that are dumb, implausible, weird, or just not great ideas for a TV show at first glance. Some are predictably garbage, but others are actually really top notch shows. Here are 10 of the best cartoons born of ideas that sound like the worst.
On paper, ‘TaleSpin’ does not work. Taking three animal characters from ‘The Jungle Book’ and several new characters, and putting them in a vaguely 1930s seaside city with an economy based around cargo planes does not sound like the formula for a great cartoon. It’s a pleasant surprise that ‘TaleSpin’ is a great adventure show with a lot of focus on the relationships between the crew at Higher for Hire.
‘The Mysterious Cities of Gold’
An animated series based on the Spanish exploration of the Americas sounds like either a dry history lesson or a depressing bloodbath. But ‘The Mysterious Cities of Gold’ is insane in the best way possible.
The show follows three kids in their search for the legendary Seven Cities of Gold, which brings them into contact with real figures from Spanish history and highly advanced civilizations with golden solar powered aircraft. How is that not something you’d want to watch with a big bowl of Sugar Smacks?
‘Star Trek: The Animated Series’
A lot of cartoons based on live action shows are horrendously bad or incredibly stupid. While Filmation’s ‘Star Trek’ cartoon does use their signature low budget, stock footage-heavy methods for producing animation, it has the advantage of most of the original cast doing voices and some of the original writers penning scripts. The result is a solid continuation of the original series, with even more weird aliens and strange planets.
A series in which the characters from an existing property are all shown as babies is usually a sign that the studio is out of ideas. ‘Muppet Babies’ had a bit more legitimacy because it was based on a concept introduced in ‘The Muppets Take Manhattan.’ But it’s the creativity of the show itself, particularly its innovative combination of animation and live-action stock footage that made this tribute to the power of imagination work so well.
‘Jackie Chan Adventures’
The best thing about watching a Jackie Chan movie is seeing Jackie Chan’s stunts and fight scenes. So substituting an animated Jackie for the real one seemed like a bad choice. Fortunately, the series made up for what it lacked in martial arts wow factor with a surprisingly epic and fun five season storyline.
‘Tiny Toon Adventures’
Another example of a “baby versions of famous characters” show that works is ‘Tiny Toon Adventures.’ The show avoids many of the pitfalls of such “baby” shows by creating new characters based on the Looney Tunes crew and mostly avoiding retreads of the classic Warner Bros. cartoons. It’s a fun show in its own right that pays homage to its roots.
Cartoons based on live-action movies are always a gamble, particularly when it’s a movie that dances on the edge of being kid-friendly like ‘Beetlejuice’ does. But the cartoon ‘Beetlejuice’ retains much of the spirit of the original film, as well as the look of Tim Burton’s artwork.
Like many of the shows on this list, ‘Mighty Max’ is based on something else. In this case, it’s a toyline that is literally Polly Pocket for boys. In spite of that odd inspiration, ‘Mighty Max’ is fun and even epic at times, mixing made-up monsters with a lot of real world myths and legends.
This spinoff of ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ is now an accepted and even beloved part of the DC animated universe. But when it was first announced, the idea of a Batman series without Bruce Wayne in the batsuit or any of Batman’s iconic villains had some fans up in arms.
Over time, ‘Batman Beyond’ proved itself to be a smart new take on the Batman mythos, and a few of the classic Batman foes managed to creep in to the new series.
‘My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic’
Before it actually happened, a reboot of ‘My Little Pony’ wasn’t something a lot of people were clamoring for. The original series was crammed with as many colorful mini-horses as the toyline it was based on, few of them wih any clear personalities. The new title ‘Friendship is Magic’ suggested the kind of low energy, conflict-free stories so common in shows aimed at young girls.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the new series became quite a hit with both younger and older viewers, thanks to a cast of characters with real personality and stories that balance simple life lessons with plenty of adventure and humor.