Horrible: Western Animation
"When business executives are making the artistic decisions and don't understand animation, things can go awry."Maybe because cartoons are seen as entertainment for kids, some studios seem to think they can get away with releasing anything, no matter how poor the quality. However, there are some things even the Nostalgia Filter can't save. After all, with glitchy animation, many unanswered questions, awful decisions by the higher-ups, and jokes that wouldn't make a three-year-old laugh, can you blame them for not remembering? To see some of the worst animation has to offer in cinemas, check out the Animated Films page. Important Note: Merely being offensive in its subject matter is not enough to justify a work as So Bad It's Horrible. Hard as it is to imagine at times, there is a market for all types of deviancy (no matter how small a niche it is). It has to fail to appeal even to that niche to qualify as this. Second Important Note: It isn't a Horrible cartoon just because The Mysterious Mr. Enter, Tooncrap, or anyone from Toons These Days, That Guy with the Glasses, Reviewers Unknown, and/or any other Caustic Critic reviewed it. There needs to be independent evidence, such as actual critics (emphasis on plural) for example, to list it. (Though once it is listed, they can provide the detailed review.) Third Important Note: This page is not for horrible episodes of otherwise well-received shows. Those examples go to the Dethroning Moment page.
— Don Bluth, speaking from personal experience.
Examples (more or less in alphabetical order):
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- Blind Ferret Entertainment, a company run by Canadian webcomic artist Ryan Sohmer famous for Least I Could Do:
- Ctrl+Alt+Del: The Animated Series, regarded by many as one of the worst Animated Adaptations of all time, and easily the worst of the 2000s. Noted for its awful production, unlikable characterization, and a plot that continues upon a wildly-despised comic arc. The Stock Footage is okay, but takes up at least half an episode. Nothing else is even excusable. The voice acting's poorly done, cheaply recorded, and so badly edited that speech commonly starts and stops partway through a line. The animation wouldn't pass on Newgrounds — it's often jerky, always unnatural and rarely isn't in 3/4 profile. The series itself was so unpopular that over the course of two seasons (done two years apart), it almost cost Blind Ferret their jobs (and they have since gone on record as saying they'll never produce another season). TV Trash riffed it in a crossover with The Cartoon Hero, and Rowdy C declared that it was one of the few shows that he felt had no redeeming qualities. The Mysterious Mr. Enter tore into the pilot, too.
- They also worked on an Animated Adaptation of Least I Could Do. The animation is slightly better than Ctrl+Alt+Del (though almost anything would be), but that's not enough to salvage the rest of the show. Essentially it takes every flaw the webcomic has and multiplies it exponentially. The first lyric of the admittedly pretty catchy theme song is "Wouldn't it be great if no one ever got offended?", which should clue viewers in that what they're about to watch isn't exactly going to handle adult themes in a mature, responsible manner. In the clip of the pilot posted on their YouTube channel alone, we're introduced to main character Rayne Summers, who has to be the biggest, most intolerable dick imaginable (and he's creator Ryan Sohmer's Marty Stu Author Avatar, which should speak volumes). Couple this with bland, repetitive humor that can be best described as "horny" and a waste of good voice actors like Yuri Lowenthal, Tara Platt, and Steve Blum, stir well, and you've got a cartoon so bad it's a wonder anyone ever bothers adapting web comics into animation at all. What's worse, it was crowd-funded through a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $100,000 - none of which, evidently, went towards the writing or animation budgets.
- Dingo Pictures is an animation studio tied to "super-budget" producer Phoenix Games (formerly Midas). It features animated rip-offs of (mostly) Disney films such as 101 Dalmatians, Hercules, The Lion King, and Aladdin. Their plagiarism is overshadowed by the films' animation, which is so colossally awful on every level that they make the animation for the Legend of Zelda CD-i games look good. Seriously, just look at their film trailers.
- The writing's about as terrible as the animation and voice acting. Watch in amazement as their version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame shows a heartless Esmeralda leaving Quasimodo to die in a dungeon. Clearly, the fact that he hung himself in the original novel wasn't enough for them.
- Most viewers will still agree that Animal Soccer World is quite possibly the most notorious of their films. It's not easy to tell just by looking at it, but it's superficially based on an animated sequence from Bedknobs and Broomsticks. What makes it particularly notorious, apart from its incomprehensible plot and laughable animation, is the voice acting, performed entirely by one or two voice actors bored out of their skulls and speaking with a ridiculous, impenetrable (presumably) Dutch accent. It's as if Tommy Wiseau started his own dub company, only less awesome. The short and rather unfitting musical riff looping in the background nonstop over and over doesn't help either. Sitting through the film's 30-minute span is an excruciating experience; even the Phoenix Games/Code Monkeys opening logos to the game are more enjoyable!
- Brilliantly parodied here.
- There are some Looney Tunes shorts that fit this trope, by sheer dint of how many were made:
- The Tom Palmer-directed Looney Tunes Buddy cartoons, the first batch of cartoons rushed out of the Leon Schlesinger cartoon studio after Harman and Ising left in 1933, were so sloppily done and devoid of humor that Jack Warner himself rejected the cartoons on sight. Had Friz Freleng not returned to the studio in time to rework these Buddy cartoons into one somewhat coherent but still lousy cartoon ("Buddy's Day Out") the Looney Tunes studio as we know it would've been killed in its infancy!
- The Sixties: Whether the "Daffy vs. Speedy" series of cartoons (which pits Speedy Gonzales against a Daffy Duck who is reduced to a grouchy humorless foil) and "The Larriva Eleven" (a series of shoestring budget Wile E. Coyote & Road Runner cartoons made by former Warner Bros. animator Rudy Larriva) completely fall under this trope is debatable. However, almost everybody unanimously agrees that the final Daffy and Speedy cartoon, 1968's "See Ya Later, Gladiator", is horrible beyond belief. The cartoon is riddled with half-assed animation (even going so far as to reuse the exact same animation sequence twice for Daffy looking out of a window, even though he was in a completely different room both times), bad music, lame and/or borderline non-existent gags, etc.
- The Larry Doyle-produced Looney Tunes shorts (2003-04) were so bad that, with one exception (The Whizz-ard of Ow, which accompanied Looney Tunes: Back in Action) they were never released in theatersnote . The cartoons suffered from unfunny and often (even for the series they were based on) mean-spirited gags, superficial characterizations, and a general tone that bore little resemblance to the classic Looney Tunes shorts.
- Many of the syndicated cartoons produced by Sam Singer (called "the Ed Wood of animation" by Animatio Magazine) were notoriously shoddy.
- Most animation buffs consider Bucky and Pepito the worst of the lot and frequently cite it as one of the worst cartoons ever made. Set against a bleak but beautifully-painted desert backdrop were the crudely-animated and thoroughly-unlikable title characters — an Anglo kid in a cowboy costume and his lazy Mexican sidekick. The plots often involved annoying animal pests and a tedious procession of contrived visual gags.
- A DVD collection of the worst cartoons ever made featured not only two episodes of Bucky and Pepito, but also another of Singer's cartoons, Paddy the Pelican. Paddy's cartoons were especially lousy because they were basically pencil tests submitted as finished cartoons. The artwork was generally decent... and that's about all that can be said for them. The picture was often blurry, each shot was made up of one or two seconds of animation looped back and forth, and there was no background. Perhaps even worse was the voice acting, all done by Singer himself in a single take with no script. The finished product sounds (appropriately) like an insane man talking to himself for eight minutes.
- Spark Plug Entertainment, the American equivalent of Video Brinquedo (see below). Exactly which one is worse is up for debate.
- For example, if you watch the first few minutes of Spider's Web: A Pig's Tale, you get assaulted by: a heavy-handed Aesop, characterization which only serves to make it more shallow (hate those guys, like these guys, watch this guy get Character Development, etc.), a nonsensical story, subpar acting, some absolutely shitty animation, a lot of repetition before anything happens (think of Goldilocks and the Three Bears), and some stupid songs with talentless singers and a rhyme scheme that makes your ears hurt. This probably isn't even the worst thing they've done.
- Plan Bee is an incredibly cheap cash-in on Bee Movie with animation so horrific the bees' wings just flicker rather than flap. Adding to that, the plot has no semblance of creativity, grating voices with one character being a Valley Girl for no reason, and a superfluous picture of George Washington just to hammer in that the "queen" bee is bad.
- In modern-day Brazil, Video Brinquedo is to Pixar (and to a lesser extent, DreamWorks Animation) what Dingo Pictures was to Disney. Essentially, most of what they did were rip-offs. Just look at this scene from Ratatoing (reviewed by Film Brain here, and here by the Isle of Rangoon) — the English dub of that scene adds even more madness with random grunts that sound quite... suggestive. If you want to burn your eyes more, look at their trailers.
- The trailers for Gladiformers 2 look like trailers for an unreleased Nintendo 64 game. The film was made in 2008! And the sad thing is, that one is their least eye-gouging work... The music's pretty good, though.
- Oh, and for how bad the rip-offs are? Check The Little Cars.
- Then there's their Up ripoff, What's Up? Balloon to the Rescue! Not only are the plot, animation, and voice acting all terrible, but their only attempts at being funny are racist jokes.
- Their most heinous work is The Little Panda Fighter. It's basically a rip-off of Kung Fu Panda in the worst form. The CGI is stiff, there's little to no creativity in the story, there's so much padding in here it's not even funny (no, really, there's an entire scene of the main character just walking to his boss's desk), the facial expressions can be downright terrifying, the English voice actors have done better work elsewhere (Good God, Maddie Blaustein is among them!), and worst of all, it has a MASSIVE Broken Aesop at the end. Watch The Cartoon Hero tear it to shreds here. Also, even though the movie is called The Little Panda Fighter, the main character doesn't fight until the final five minutes of the movie!
- Even the naming of the films is horrible. When not going for some obvious ripoff of the movie they are trying to rip off, they usually just go with the diminutive form of whatever creature the movie's about (which translates to English as "The Little [creature]".)
- Allen Gregory, a short-lived Fox animated series co-created by and starring Jonah Hill as the voice of the title character Allen Gregory De Longpre, a nerdy, pretentious seven-year-old who's forced to attend elementary school in the face of the recession when his gay parents' finances are hit hard, principally those of his CEO father Richard. Allen has a very warped view of the world and can't socialize with kids of age. What makes the series so bad, you ask? Dull and unfunny jokes (almost all of them Dude, Not Funny!, including jokes about AIDS and date rape), bland animation (with downright HIDEOUS character designs), some of the most off-putting homophobia in all of television (so horribly written it's honestly impossible to tell if it was supposed to be satirical or not), and unlikable characters who are some combination of idiots, whiny Butt Monkeys, and/or complete jerkasses. The Jerkass characters from other FOX shows are at least funny with their asshole-ism most of the time. Plus, there's the ongoing subplot involving Allen's crush on his 70-year-old principal, played out in the most disturbingly sexual way possible. Also, the gay parents as main characters—Richard's just as selfish and childish as his son, and Jeremy (one of the few decent characters aside from his adopted daughter Julie, although they're both boring and forgettable) was a straight man with a wife and children who was essentially bullied and raped by Richard into marrying him. Unfortunate Implications, indeed. The pilot received mostly negative reviews, and the show itself was canned after only 7 episodes in late 2011/early 2012. TV Trash eviscerated it by popular demand, believing it to be the worst show he's ever reviewed (until he reviewed Brickleberry, that is). The Mysterious Mr. Enter also tore into the show, and declared it the worst thing he reviewed in 2013.
- After the Sputnik launch, there seemed to be a push for "educational" TV cartoons to raise kids' intellects, and they were generally awful. One, The Big World of Little Adam, was nothing but a still shot of two kids' heads behind a book, conveniently covering the mouths to avoid animating speech — the only movement was their pupils darting back and forth. This "action" framed montages of still pictures of the subject at hand. On a whole other level of awful, one installment dealing with missiles praised the V-1 and V-2 rockets (who cares where they come down?). However, the animated segments and slideshows weren't the only thing present: The Other Wiki claims the producer, Fred Ladd, got a hold of a bunch of NASA documentaries and, with the space race of the 50s and 60s running about in kids' minds, created the segments as framing devices for said documentaries.
- Christian kids' entertainment is notorious for being of low quality, but Boys of Valor takes it to a whole new level. The voice acting is atrocious, with one of the actors literally phoning in his performance. The CGI is even worse; a generic grass texture is used for the ground in Hell, the villains look like huge-headed BIONICLE rejects, one scene has one of the boys flying in a loop and colliding with the ground, remaining rock-still while doing so, and one of the models is even ripped off from The Sims. To top it all off, the Big Bad is defeated by dancing, something even the bad guy is incredulous about. Watch iRawss tear it apart here. He also reviewed the sequel along with the Critic Core here.
- There are more than a few reasons why Calico Entertainment's Bubsy pilot never got picked up. Not only is there unfunny jokes and overusage of Stock Footage, almost all of our main heroes are completely unlikable, and have voice acting that not only wastes the talent of famous names like Rob Paulsen, Jim Cummings and Tress MacNeille, but are also so incredibly ear-grating. The only likable character in the entire pilot is Arnold Armadillo, and sadly he is treated to a downright mean-spirited Running Gag involving his fear of getting run over by a truck. The Mysterious Mr. Enter took an axe to it here, as well as Tooncrap, Nothing but Cartoons, and Cartoon Palooza. There's also an annotated version as well. And just in case you weren't convinced enough, here's the entire thing. "What could possibly go wrong?", indeed. It's one of the very few voice acting roles Rob Paulsen is openly ashamed of.
- Chip and Pepper's Cartoon Madness. Not to be confused with Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Cartoon Madness was an affront to animation with its badly-animated surfer bulldogs pasted against the kind of computer-rendered animation you'd expect from the early 1990s. It was like a bloody collision between a bad Flash cartoon and a computer science student's D- project, with no survivors. Then the two dogs enter reality, and somehow this transforms them into two aggressively Totally Radical Surfer Dudes With Attitude. The live-action segments take place in "The Chillin' Shack", a set basically ripped off from Pee-Wee's Playhouse except with a crowd full of cheering kids in sunglasses who clearly don't want to be there, a butler(?) with a crappy Russian(?) accent, and hands sticking out of the walls which they high-five with whenever they pass them, but pay no attention to for the rest of the show. And then there's the editing, which makes it look almost like something from Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!... except for real. The guy in the editing room was either on LSD, had ADHD, or both. At times, it resembled a YouTube Poop. Of course, this is probably to be expected when you make a show starring a pair of jeans designers.
- Da Boom Crew (2004) was played on Kids' WB! on Saturday mornings for four weeks at one new episode per week, like any new show. Problem was, the creators had recorded 13 episodes. The network canned it after four, but reran those four... The show had Totally Radical speech, traveling through a video game world with generic characters, and other unneeded things made this show not worth the timeslot it took up. Thankfully, a second Pokémon: Advanced Challenge episode dominated its time slot after episode 4. Watch The Cartoon Hero review it here.
- There were also negative stereotypes, and for extra irony, the show was created by Bruce Smith of The Proud Family. For those who need more to convince them how bad it is, you've been warned...
- Bafflingly, this thing was dubbed into Spanish and inflicted on Latin American kids via the Fox Kids / Jetix channel on its full glory. Sometimes mediocre series have been rescued by the Spanish dub, but sadly this was not the case.
- * Full English was an attempt by British network Channel 4 to create an adult cartoon to capitalize on the success of American shows such as Family Guy or South Park. Unfortunately, despite using Rough Draft Korea for some of its animation and casting well-known British names such as Richard Ayoade and Kayvan Novak, the show was regarded as an abomination by viewers and critics alike. Many labelled it as a "British" rip-off of Family Guy with several copied elements, such as the main character's wife having a billionaire father who disapproves of his son-in-law and gags more offensive than a show like Family Guy would even allow. It was cancelled after just 4 episodes, with the last remaining ones aired later on Channel 4's sister network E4 and was never aired again afterwards.
- Kung Fu Dino Posse, a sister show to Dino Squad, has all the same flaws, terrible Better Than a Bare Bulb-style jokes, and awful frame-skipping animation. However, Dino Squad was at least fluid, slightly entertaining and So Bad, It's Good at best. note
- The disaster that was Mauser y Pirulo, a short-lived animated series that graced Venezuelan screens for less than a season in 1999. It was promoted as "the very first Venezuelan animated series" but in fact it was a redubbing of Colombian animated show El Siguiente Programa, a vehicle for the duet of comedians/radio jocks Martín De Francisco and Santiago Moure. The original footage wasn't exactly well animated, but it was saved by witty writing and the voice acting of its main stars; but in the Venezuelan "translation" the main characters were renamed and transformed in a duet of Beavis And Butthead expies, and the topical Colombian references were awkwardly changed for Venezuelan ones, among other changes. The result was a thing that had to be stuck at the midnight time slot, where it quickly died. What little fans they had never managed to tape it, so while the original show received DVD releases and episodes can be freely found online, the only proof that Mauser and Pirulo did exist is the theme music, arguably the best part of the show.
- Mega Babies was a cartoon made by Christian and Yvon Tremblay (of SWAT Kats fame) that was about a trio of superpowered infants who fought crime with assistance from their nurse. The jarring character designs and grating theme song (an annoying, warped version of "Rock-a-bye Baby") aside, to say that this cartoon is heavy on gross-out humor is an understatement. Watch it here, but only if you have a stomach of iron. In his list of "Top 10 Ugliest Cartoons", Rebel Taxi said that the show was so ugly that "If you wanna scare teens from having sex, show them this. It's not an accurate representation of childbirth or can it change their minds, but it should prolong the inevitable." Watch The Mysterious Mr. Enter nearly break apart from this abomination here. It also really says something when Voltalia compares it unfavorably to the Garbage Pail Kids movie!
- Mirthworms, a show about two-inch worms in a tiny town. Seriously insipid acting, horrid character designs, and Anvilicious aesops... it's not surprising how obscure it is, considering only three Very Special Episodes were made. Read The Island Of Misfit Christmas Specials tear it to shreds.
- My Little Pony: Newborn Cuties was a Flash-animated adaptation of My Little Pony and was the last series of the slightly less-dreadful third generation of the franchise. The animation's horrible (having many moments where voices come out with no proper idea of who's saying these lines), the character designs have identical ugly models, and the writing's completely juvenile and insulting (and contains the accidentally racist line "everyone in Ponyville knows unicorns belong in Unicornia"). Watch Mr. Enter tear it apart here. The models and animation combine to make near-Nightmare Fuel, as there's a bizarre wrongness to the movements of these critters that look like deranged mutant ducks to begin with. There is nothing remotely cute about them.
- NBC's Saturday-morning block was full of stinkers, but had a few good shows (Alvin and the Chipmunks, Saved by the Bell, etc.). ProStars isn't one of them. It features superstar players Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, and Bo Jackson helping kids around the world and fighting criminals who do what they do just because they can do it. It tries to promote diversity by the various countries and kids they visit, but it's all cancelled out by ruthless stereotyping. There are also massive continuity and animation errors, with more than 40 in the first episode alone! Demoversi looked at the first episode, and TV Trash tears it apart here.
- These were based on real athletes. Bo Jackson's career didn't last much longer than the show (mostly due to a career-ending injury), but Wayne Gretzky and Michael Jordan were active in their sports and had active fanbases well into the 2000s. If this show had been any good, then fans of these people would defend it.
- Note: the basketball superhero here would, in real life, be Michael "Air" Jordan, the man who would lead the Chicago Bulls to numerous championships and sell millions of sneakers. He was, in Real Life, media-genic. If his character here had been more like his character in Space Jam, then this show wouldn't be listed here.
- Linkara even saw ProStars as partially being the reason NBC's Saturday-morning block was cancelled; as Chip and Pepper also aired during the same season as ProStars, it can easily be argued that NBC took whatever they were offered in that last season to sabotage the two hours and conveniently give them over to Today.
- Spaceballs: The Animated Series has been given the Fan Nickname The Soich for More Money from fans of the movie it was based on for a reason. The animation is terrible. The designs of the characters are so-so, but they made Dark Helmet, originally played by 5'1" Rick Moranis, a dwarf. In an annoyingly lazy move, it rehashes jokes from the movie. Hell, the first two episodes are basically a remake of the movie. The rest of the series is a Shallow Parody of other movies, such as The Terminator and even non-Sci-Fi films such as Harry Potter. That is not only comparable to a Seltzer and Friedberg movie, but it renders the title of the show and the movie it was based on redundant. Watch Bobsheaux tear it apart here.
- In the late 1980s and early 1990s a TV cartoon series aired on VTM based on the popular comic strip Suske en Wiske. The only positive aspect was that the design of the characters looked okay and even resembled the comic strip... but these cartoons were so cheaply made that almost every scene was stock footage. For instance, whenever a specific character was walking from one point to another, they always played the same clip. The animators also animated only one expression of a certain emotion for each main cast member. If for instance a specific character became angry, it was always the same scene without any sort of variation. As one can imagine, watching these cartoons can become rather tedious after a while, especially since they follow the stories of the comic book albums almost frame-by-frame in extremely slow pacing.
- Time Travel Academy (a.k.a. Learn Our History), a series of educational CGI cartoons produced by former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee to educate kids on the "history that schools are afraid to tell". Let's put it this way — you know you've got a real stinker on your hands when you can't even make the trailers look good. Its flaws include as follows; amateurish CGI work (it looks like it was done half-heartily on Daz Studio and cel-shaded to cover up the fact); cardboard cut-out characters, coupled with wooden dialogue and completely phoned in voice acting, moments of Critical Research Failure (i.e., the scene in the World War II trailer where a modern-day black girl appears, praising Rosie the Riveter, inexcusably ignorant of the rampant racism that went on during the time), not to mention its shameless abuse of Hollywood History, featuring a woefully dishonest Theme Park version of the 1970s-80s, blatant plagiarism (early copies of one episode had a character wearing a helmet from Warhammer 40,000; fortunately for them, this was removed from later copies); and to top it all off, a political Bias Steamroller, despite the show's claim to "teach history without bias".
- One of the characters, a blonde girl, strongly resembles Penny Peterson from a later animated film that also deals with time travel.
- Turbo Teen was an obvious Follow the Leader to Knight Rider, with a hopelessly generic "kid gets superpowers and fights crime" premise and subpar animation, looking and feeling about a decade out of date. This would have made it a merely mediocre series, but what puts it here is the kid's power: when he's exposed to hot temperatures, he turns into a car. This would have pushed the show into So Bad, It's Good if it was just a quick flash, but the series went the extra mile, animating an entire Transformation Sequence that, for thousands of children, invoked nothing but Body Horror. After thirteen episodes, the show was mercifully canned.