Created By: MetalGearChickFebruary 14, 2012 Last Edited By: GiorgioDaneriMarch 25, 2015

Live-Action Cartoon

When a live-action TV show or movie takes on the type of actions you would see in a cartoon.

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Trope
Sometimes, a live-action TV show or movie starts doing cartoonish things, such as characters not getting injured or killed from something that would normally injure or kill someone, characters getting flattened, or characters engaging in over-the-top cartoon-style violence. A Live-Action Cartoon relies on tropes commonly found in Zany Cartoon, although some may use tropes that originates from anime, being somewhat of a live action equivalent of Animesque. The style was itself inspired by Slapstick, which has inspired several early animated shorts, watching old silent comedy films you'll notice a lot of elements reminiscent of Looney Tunes or other old school animation.

Not to be confused with Roger Rabbit Effect, which is when live-action or realistic characters interact with cartoon characters.


Examples

Film
  • Animal House becomes this near the end when the Delta House members disrupt the parade. Examples include the band members blindly marching into the alley, Bluto showing off his pirate gymnastics moves, and the Death Car ramming the stands and knocking the spectators into the air.
  • Scott Pilgrim Vs The World is like a live-action comic book (after all, it is based off a comic book) and a cartoon, with written sound effects, text, and yelled-out lines appearing on-screen, video game elements occurring in the real world, the titular character not showing any injuries or pain from things that would normally injure someone in real life (i.e. thrown hundreds of feet into the air, thrown through walls, repeatedly kicked by stunt doubles, his head being slammed on a table, etc.), and more.
  • Disney's live-action adaptation of George Of The Jungle takes this to ridiculous heights.
  • The Mask (the original, not the crappy sequel) manages to do this quite well.
  • Speed Racer
  • Kill Bill is like a live-action anime.
  • Just about anything directed by Mel Brooks, especially Blazing Saddles, which has many antics and sight gags similar to a Looney Tunes cartoon, no fourth wall, the villain drives off-set at the end, and more.
  • Hudson Hawk is basically like a live-action, Americanized, version of Lupin III. It has things such as using a skateboard to bypass museum security, using a fishing pole to swipe Leonardo Da Vinci's artwork, and the villains coming across as a comedic rogues' gallery.
  • Many of Frank Tashlin's works. After all, he did start off working for Looney Tunes.
  • The Villain was designed to be a live-action cartoon western.
  • The traps in the Home Alone movies are very cartoonish, and get more cartoonish in each new installment.
  • The Three Stooges is one of the earliest and best examples, made at a time when cartoons themselves were still relatively new.
  • Batman The Movie had Written Sound Effects during fights just like the 1960's Batman series.
  • The live action movie adaptation of Cutey Honey has animated battle sequences using pictures of the characters moving in ways and manners that are only possible in anime. The campiness and zany tone of the show is taken Up To Eleven.
  • Sucker Punch would make another good example for this under the film category, being yet another Live-Action film that feels more like an anime than anything else, from the aesthetics -That include Sailor Fuku- and the amusing injuries the girls took and gave like nothing.
  • The early films of Tim Burton have a definite cartoony feel, due to him being a former animator. Special mention should go to his first two, Peewees Big Adventure and Beetlejuice (the latter having an Animated Adaptation), and later films such as Mars Attacks and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.

Live Action TV
  • Neds Declassified School Survival Guide does this in a very cheesy manner, like characters making Off Screen Teleportation, or being blown up in the face angd get their faces covered in ashes and taking Amusing Injuries of every kind.
  • Pee Wees Playhouse.
  • Get Smart. Not only was it like a cartoon, but it even inspired one! (Inspector Gadget)
  • The 1960s Batman series had comic book sound effects appear on-screen during fights.
  • The Pitts. There was even an episode in which the Dumb Blonde daughter had a huge piece of pipe through her head and suffered no ill effects.
  • The Benny Hill Show, as even its creator and star has confirmed.
  • Green Acres could possibly be the trope codifier. The series routine made use of incredibly slapstick and outlandish situations and gags that would otherwise be implausible in the real world (characters being knocked through solid walls, or falling off telephone poles without even getting hurt, for example), not to mention that each character had such Limited Wardrobe that they literally wore the exact same outfits for all six seasons (save for Oliver and Lisa), that it could very well be the poster child for a live action cartoon.
  • Hogans Heroes. The first season, really. The show always relied on broad humor, but as the seasons progressed, the humor became more subdued and sophisticated. The first season, however, really showcased considerable amounts of cartoonishly slapstick humor that the wartime sitcom could almost be offensive; such as Klink jumping out the window from his burning office, expecting to be caught in a blanket flimsily-held by Newkirk and Carter, only for them to walk away at the exact moment Klink jumps.
  • Police Squad and it's spin-off movie franchise Naked Gun, which take an ordinary Police Procedural and add silly dialogue and wacky sight gags that would not be out of line on a Tex Avery cartoon.

Community Feedback Replies: 60
  • February 14, 2012
    acrobox
    The Mask: with Jim Carey is like this Speed Racer the movie has also been likened to being a live action anime.
  • February 14, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    The Kill Bill movies are practically a live-action manga.
  • February 14, 2012
    NESBoy
  • February 14, 2012
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • The Siblings Wachowski are a hallmark for this. The Matrix and Speed Racer were both meant to be live-action manga/anime too.
  • February 14, 2012
    MiinU
    Film

    • Hudson Hawk (Bruce Willis) can be aptly summed as an Americanized live action Lupin film; featuring many of the same high-jinks and sight gags. From using skateboards to bypass museum security, to using a fishing pole to swipe Leonardo da' Vincci's artbook! Even the film's villain's: the Mayflowers, George Kaplan, Alfred, and Kit Katt come across as a comedic Rogues Gallery.

    • Practically anything directed by Mel Brooks.
      • Blazing Saddles is easily the most notorious example, featuring the type of antics and sight gags befitting a Bugs Bunny cartoon, liberal lampshade hanging, and the fourth wall is treated as non existent. Hell, the film's villain, Hedy Lamar ("That's Hedley!"), even drives of the set at the end!
      Hedley: (hails taxi) "Drive me off of this picture."
      • Robinhood: Men in Tights includes instances where: the titular character uses a Patriot Arrow to win an archery contest, his Black Best Friend, Achoo, calls a time-out to pump up his sneakers before he and Robin commence asskicking, and the Sheriff of Rottingham whipping out a jack-hammer in an attempt to crack Maid Marion's chastity belt!
        • Both films even include Toon Physics, such as Mongo surviving an explosion (point blank) with little more than singe marks. While Men In Tights has Brumhilde land on her bottom, after leaping from the balcony above, and crack the pavement without injury!

    Live-action television

    • The entirety of Get Smart! (Don Adams, Barbara Feldon) was not only like a cartoon, it actually inspired one! Inspector Gadget (also voiced by Don Adams) is, in fact, a homage to both Maxwell Smart's character and Get Smart! as a whole.
  • February 14, 2012
    randomsurfer
  • February 15, 2012
    TonyG
  • February 17, 2012
    StevenT
    The Pitts. There was even an episode where the Dumb Blonde daughter had a huge piece of pipe through her head and suffered no ill effects.
  • February 17, 2012
    TBTabby
    The Home Alone movies get into this with the various booby traps. It only gets more ridiculous with each sequel.
  • February 18, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Why didn't you roll in The Villain? And The Three Stooges are Film not Live Action TV.
  • February 18, 2012
    MiinU
    ^That and the Mel Brooks examples. Nearly all his movies are cartoony, complete with Toon Physics.
  • February 18, 2012
    HaggisMcCrablice
    The Benny Hill Show, as even its creator and star has said.
  • February 20, 2012
    MetalGearChick
    @ randomsurfer: Sorry I didn't include The Villain. I was in a rush that day. But I'll add it right now. BTW, The Three Stooges aren't film, they're a series of shorts, so I put them in live-action TV.

    @ MiinU: Um, Mel Brooks is listed. Read the examples again: "Just about anything directed by Mel Brooks, ..."
  • February 20, 2012
    captainpat
    Add context to your examples. It's not enough to point a live action show is cartoonish, explain why.
  • February 21, 2012
    randomsurfer
  • February 21, 2012
    TonyG
    The films by the Zucker/Abraham/Zucker team: Airplane, Top Secret and The Naked Gun trilogy.
  • February 21, 2012
    ACarlssin
    Baby's Day Out (movie): I believe that the filmmakers even admitted that it was based on the Tom & Jerry cartoon where they're chasing a baby through a construction site.
  • February 21, 2012
    MiinU
    @MetalGearChick - (nice username, by the way) My bad, I hadn't seen it was there.
  • February 24, 2012
    hotrods4ben
    Bumping, this is looking good
  • February 25, 2012
    abk0100
    • The film based on Ichi The Killer retained most of the cartoony-ness of the manga. The violence and is over-the-top and impossible. For example, Ichi dismembers people by using little blades attached to his shoes.
  • February 25, 2012
    Farmelle
    • The Goodies often featured lengthy slapstick scenes, surreal logic and visual gags. The scriptwriters have confirmed that they were very much influenced by Tom And Jerry.
  • February 25, 2012
    Kossmeister
    • Many live-action adaptations of comedic animated series tend to be this.
    • This is probably what Seltzer And Friedberg are aiming for.
  • February 25, 2012
    captainpat
    Don't launch this trope until all of the Zero Context Examples are fixed.

  • February 25, 2012
    fulltimeD
    An episode of Farscape did this with John's mind frequently, most notably in the part-cartoon, part-live action, part-live action cartoon "Revenging Angel."
  • March 5, 2012
    TBeholder
    From the title, you'd think it's a cartoon. From Laconic description you'd think it's a live-action. And the description throws in everything that contains certain non-cartoon tropes like Made Of Iron. What's the supposed meaning of this and how something so poorly defined is not going to bloat until it loses even that meaning?
  • March 5, 2012
    mdulwich
    Much of Monty Python And The Holy Grail, but especially the Black Knight who has his limbs chopped off one-by-one yet casually dismisses it as a "flesh would". In fact much of Monty Python full-stop.
  • March 5, 2012
    cygnavamp
  • March 6, 2012
    PsiPaula4
    Grow Up Timmy Turner, the live action Fairly Odd Parents movie has the characters very often doing things you would only see in a cartoon, and it always looks absolutely rediculous.
  • March 6, 2012
    hotrods4ben
    Community could probably be described as Jeff's Declassified College Survival Guide.
  • March 6, 2012
    MiinU
    Some of the examples in the OP (Animal House, Speed Racer, Kill Bill, etc.) are in need of context, explaining why and how they fit the trope.

    ^^^@cygnavamp -- Those too.
  • March 6, 2012
    Dolski
    Due to all the Meyerhold acting, Scrubs might fit this. Also, Wrongfully Accused and most film-parody films.
  • March 16, 2012
    Aries
    Reviving.

    Most of the things that happen in The Naked Gun Trilogy are so over-the-top that it is improbable for them to happen in Real Life.
  • March 16, 2012
    Telcontar
    It seems there's plenty of examples and it's a good trope, but the description still needs work. Why does this trope happen at all? How do other characters react to it? What technical things are involved?

    ... Not that I know the answers to these and questions like them, but that's why they should be included/mentioned in the description.
  • May 13, 2012
    MiinU
    bump.
  • May 13, 2012
    Surenity
    Kung Fu Hustle, particularly a chase scene that incorporates Wheel Of Feet (yes, it's a chase scene on foot, where they move as fast as cars...)
  • June 18, 2012
    TomWalpertac2
    Bump.
  • June 18, 2012
    Huo
    • Most mo lei tau are based on this principle. No surprise considering Stephen Chow is the Bruce Lee of the genre. Chow being the director of Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle.
    • This was also the basis for Hulk Hogan that's why most people don't associate Hulking Up as some manner of mass increase and instead a state where someone transforms into a pain ignoring berserker.

    The reason this things happen is because when art imitates life, life ends up imitating art.

  • June 19, 2012
    StevenT
    Problem Child 2 has cartoonier gags than the first movie, including a dog crapping more than three times its weight.
  • June 19, 2012
    ArtyMorty
    The Pink Panther films with Peter Sellers are very cartoonish.
  • March 23, 2015
    DAN004
    Bump
  • March 23, 2015
    justanotherrandomlurker
    Is there another YKTTW like this? I recall commenting how confusing it was that the concept was for when live action shows and movies seem really cartoonish in nature (I cited Green Acres as an example), yet the examples listed were only live action adaptations of animated series.
  • March 23, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ Yes there was, but I'm not gonna bother bringing that cuz this one is better developed.
  • March 24, 2015
    Snicka
    There are lots of Zero Context Examples in the list. It should be added in what way the movie/show is cartoony (i.e. having a lot of cartoony slapstick humor, Cartoon Physics, written sound effects, over-the-top acting, etc.)
  • March 24, 2015
    MiinU
    ^ Agreed with Snicka.
  • March 24, 2015
    Arivne
  • March 24, 2015
    Snicka
    I'll extend an example that I have actually seen:
  • March 24, 2015
    Snicka
    A Live Action Adaptation of a cartoon is more often than not like this.
  • March 24, 2015
    GiorgioDaneri
  • March 24, 2015
    GiorgioDaneri
    • The live action movie adaptation of Cutey Honey has animated battle sequences using pictures of the characters moving in ways and manner that are only possible in anime. The campiness and zany tone of the show is taken Up To Eleven.
  • March 24, 2015
    justanotherrandomlurker
    ^x8 Well then:

    Live Action TV
    • Green Acres could possibly be the trope codifier. The series routine made use of incredibly slapstick and outlandish situations and gags that would otherwise be implausible in the real world (characters being knocked through solid walls, or falling off telephone poles without even getting hurt, for example), not to mention that each character had such Limited Wardrobe that they literally wore the exact same outfits for all six seasons (save for Oliver and Lisa), that it could very well be the poster child for a live action cartoon.
    • Hogans Heroes. The first season, really. The show always relied on broad humor, but as the seasons progressed, the humor became more subdued and sophisticated. The first season, however, really showcased considerable amounts of cartoonishly slapstick humor that the wartime sitcom could almost be offensive; such as Klink jumping out the window from his burning office, expecting to be caught in a blanket flimsily-held by Newkirk and Carter, only for them to walk away at the exact moment Klink jumps.
  • March 24, 2015
    DAN004
    I think, even for Live Action Adaptation of cartoons, the example has to explain how the cartoony elements are played.
  • March 24, 2015
    Snicka
    ^ I agree. You can make an absolutely non-cartoony Live Action Adaptation of a cartoon if you want.
  • March 24, 2015
    shimaspawn
    <Mod Hat>

    This example list has a large number of ZC Es. Phases like "becomes this towards the end" are not explanations of the trope. Please clean up the ZC Es before launching.

    </Mod Hat>
  • March 24, 2015
    DAN004
    Who's managing this?
  • March 24, 2015
    justanotherrandomlurker
    ^ I thought you were grabbing it.
  • March 25, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ nope. Not yet at least.

    Wish somebody else wanna grab this.
  • March 25, 2015
    GiorgioDaneri
    Maybe I could help.
  • March 25, 2015
    Poprocks311
    Sucker Punch would make another good example for this under the film category, being yet another Live-Action film that feels more like an anime then anything else.
  • March 25, 2015
    TonyG
  • March 25, 2015
    GiorgioDaneri
    Added examples to the main post.

    We need a better description

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