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Animated Adaptation

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Becoming animated greatly expanded Kirk's "To Do" list.

Despite its long-standing reputation as something "for kids", animation is an extremely versatile visual medium. While animation can tell almost any kind of story, its greatest strength is that it can portray stories with relative ease that would be prohibitively expensive and/or extremely difficult (if not impossible) to pull off convincingly in live action. For that reason, animation is an ideal medium for portraying stories with fantastic elements, and many of the world's oldest and most enduring medium that predates film contain at least some elements of the fantastic.

So it's hardly any wonder that many existing stories, whatever their origins, have been given the animation treatment. The Animated Adaptation has been around almost as long as modern animation itself: the first major animated feature was based on a well-known fairytale, and almost all major Western feature-length animated films were based on existing ideas until the late 1990s to early 2000s, when original animated features started to gain prominence.

Keep in mind, however, that "adaptation" doesn't necessarily mean faithful adaptation. As with the Live-Action Adaptation, animated adaptations often take liberties with their source material — sometimes to the point of being nigh unrecognizable.

Likewise, animation made for television has a rich history of adapting stories and characters from other mediums — comic strips and books such as Popeye, Superman and Batman being prime examples. The same is true of Japan; as often as not, the hot new anime of each season is more than likely based off manga or light novels.

However, one particularly bizarre trend began back in The '70s: animation studios such as Filmation and Hanna-Barbera would develop animated versions of live-action television shows such as Star Trek: The Original Series, Laverne & Shirley, and Gilligan's Island. Most of these shows are (not unfairly) remembered for being little more than fairly cheaply animated retreads of popular sitcoms, albeit with sillier, more outlandish plots. There were exceptions, though — Star Trek: The Animated Series was an official continuation of its source series, and even involved most of the original cast and writers.

For a video game-specific example of this trope, see The Anime of the Game. Compare and contrast Live-Action Adaptation. In anime, which is frequently adapted from manga, the opposite of this is Anime First.

Examples (sorted by the original media):

    open/close all folders 

  • The Incredible Crash Test Dummies, known first as a PSA campaign on the importance of wearing seat belts while driving, somehow became a Saturday morning cartoon. (The PSAs being aimed at kids, generally being pretty funny, and one of the Dummies being voiced by Lorenzo Music all helped.)
  • The LeBrons, adapted from LeBron James' series of live-action Nike commercials of the same name.
  • Linus The Lion Hearted was a mid-1960s example where the mascots of several Post breakfast cereals were made into rather well-done cartoons. It was eventually forced off the air due to an FCC ruling that forbade children show characters from appearing in commercials during their own program.
  • The California Raisins, adapted from Will Vinton's clay-animated commercials for the California Raisin Advisory Board.
  • Adventures of the Gummi Bears was a very successful and very creative animated Disney show based on the candy brand of the gummi bears.
  • Funny Face was an attempt to turn the mascots from the discontinued Funny Face drink mix franchise into a cartoon series. The show never happened, but a collection of animated shorts, along with reviving some of the characters for dried cranberries, came out of it.
  • Noonbory and the Super 7 and Tooba Tooba Noonbory are adaptations of the PinkAru and Nunbory stationary brand. As the name suggests, it primarily stars Breakout Character Noonbory, while PinkAru didn't appear until Tooba Tooba.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 

    Fairy Tales 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Worth noticing that Batman: The Animated Series was heavily based on Tim Burton's Batman (1989) and Batman Returns, albeit not as dark in tone.
  • The Three Stooges:
    • They get The Six Million Dollar Man treatment and become spies in The Robonic Stooges.
    • Before they became super-powered, they had an earlier incarnation, The New 3 Stooges, with Moe, Larry and new Stooge Curly-Joe DeRita as themselves, featuring plots that were similar to the classic black & white live-action shorts (the series also included live segments at the end and beginning - the opening segment would have a Stooge tell the audience to watch the cartoon while they tried to deal with whatever problem they were now faced with, and the closing would pick up where it left off). One saving grace of the 1965 series was that it offered the surviving Stooges new income (and a new fan base) after the long-gone residuals from the old shorts.
  • Laurel and Hardy got a Hanna-Barbera animated adaptation in the 1960s, after both of them had died in real life.
  • Likewise, Abbott and Costello had their own Hanna-Barbera animated adaptation with Bud Abbott voicing himself while Stan Irwin voiced Costello.
  • The Little Rascals:
    • Not a stand-alone animated show, but part of a 90-minute Animated Anthology with animated adaptations of Pac-Man and Richie Rich.
    • A series of claymation specials was made in the 1960s, using the soundtracks of the original shorts.
    • There was also a half hour Christmas Special that featured the voices of series' original stars Matthew "Stymie" Beard and the late Darla Hood. A series of Public Service Announcements followed.
  • Little Shop of Horrors got an animated show based off it, just without the violence. Here, Seymour and Audrey are aged down to 13 years old, and rather than from outer space, the plant came from a fossilized prehistoric seed.
  • Ghostbusters (1984) as The Real Ghostbusters and eventually Extreme Ghostbusters. The naming on this one is convoluted, so here goes: Filmation produced a live-action series called The Ghost Busters. Columbia licensed the name (but nothing else) from them for the movie. When the movie turned out to be a huge hit, Filmation wanted to do an Animated Adaptation of it, but Columbia didn't want to license the characters from the movie to them. Filmation then produced an animated series based on their earlier live-action series titled Ghostbusters, hoping to cash in on the movie's popularity despite having essentially nothing in common with it other than the name. Columbia then developed their own Animated Adaptation of the movie, calling it The Real Ghostbusters to distinguish it from Filmation's cartoon.
  • Star Wars:
  • Nelvana's Beetlejuice did as well, done more-or-less straight, though it started with a different premise from the movie, making it an Alternate Universe.
  • Godzilla:
    • The Godzilla Power Hour, produced by Hanna-Barbara, best known for introducing the world to Godzooky
    • Godzilla: The Series, based on the American movie. Worth noting that as much bile as the first American Godzilla (1998) movie gets heaped on it, even most haters will admit the cartoon spinoff was pretty good.
    • Godzilla: Singular Point, which would be the first televised anime incarnation of the character.
    • Chibi designs of Godzilla used in merchandising have found their way into animation, with Godzilland receiving educational OVAs in the 1990s while 2023's Chibi Godzilla Raids Again would be a series of absurdist gag-driven shorts starring the otherwise preschool focused incarnation of the character.
  • Men in Black managed to remain fairly faithful to the spirit of the films and loaded with Mythology Gags, aside from L having seniority over J, being in an Alternate Continuity.
  • Return to the Planet of the Apes was actually more true to the original novel than the movies were. That's not a recommendation for it over the movies, however.
  • Jackie Chan got a series called Jackie Chan Adventures. He was actually partially involved in it, doing a live-action "Ask Jackie" feature after the end credits where he answered questions viewers submitted. The show itself was about an AU Jackie Chan who isn't an action star at all. He's an archaeologist/sometimes secret agent who battles demons and tracks down magical artifacts with the help of his niece, his uncle, and other recurring characters, lasting for five seasons.
  • Back to the Future: The Animated Series focused on Doc Brown's family after the events in Back to the Future Part III, mainly his sons, Jules and Verne. They would often go on adventures through time and space via a rebuilt DeLorean and the time traveling train engine seen at the end of Part III. Marty McFly was still getting dragged along with them, and every time period, including ancient Rome, had an ancestor of Biff Tannen running around. The present-day Biff always got a small skit at the end of every episode. There were also live-action segments at the beginning and end featuring Christopher Lloyd as Docnote  and Bill Nye as his assistant, which led to the creation of Nye's program Bill Nye the Science Guy.
  • Speaking of Michael J. Fox movies, there was also an animated adaptation of Teen Wolf. The eponymous character's family was made larger, giving him wolfish grandparents and a little sister who was permanently in half-werewolf status. James Hampton who played the main character's father in the film (and the main character's uncle in the sequelnote ) was the only cast member from the film to return in voice form.
  • There was an animated adaptation of the movie Evolution (2001), titled Alienators: Evolution Continues (shown overseas as Evolution: The Animated Series).
  • Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!, which is as flat-out crazy as the second film.
  • The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury is an animated film that takes place immediately after Pitch Black and sets the main cast up for naturally, The Chronicles of Riddick (2004).
  • The movie Van Helsing also has a short animated movie, The London Assignment, which is in fact a prequel of the live-action film.
  • James Bond, though they, at least, had the good sense to forgo the hard-drinking, womanizing spy with a license to kill for his teenaged "nephew", James Bond Jr., who operated out of an English boarding school and went on Jonny Quest-esque adventures armed with gadgets made by his Gadgeteer Genius friend, I.Q. The role of "M" was taken by the school headmaster, who would remonstrate with young James over the chaos his escapades inevitably caused, and Miss Moneypenny was replaced by a fellow student with a crush on James. And they still managed to keep the concept of a new girl every adventure going, in a G-rated way of course. Note that most of the films themselves are considered suitable for family viewing in the United Kingdom, so an animated version isn't that far-out an idea.
  • How about kid-friendly cartoons based on R-rated films, complete with associated action figures? In theory these were intended as Gateway Series to get children interested in a franchise so they'll watch the original films when they're old enough; in practice, less strict parents would let them watch the films anyway.
  • The three movies that built Jim Carrey's career, The Mask (which lasted three seasons, and is probably the best remembered cartoon out of the three), Ace Ventura (which also lasted three seasons and had a crossover episode with The Mask — and interestingly, is the only one of the three where the main character actually looks like Jim Carrey!) and Dumb and Dumber (which only lasted one season with thirteen episodes).
  • Black Dynamite got an [adult swim] series of the same name that lasted two seasons.
  • Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures continued the basic premise of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, with the duo of dudes traveling through history and meeting famous individuals in an attempt to solve various issues in their present day lives. With Alex Winter, Keanu Reeves and George Carlin (as Rufus) all reprising their original roles, the main characters were very faithful to their source material, though their exploits in the past were roughly as historically accurate and about as tongue-in-cheek as The Flintstones... which may have something to do with it being a Hanna-Barbera production. Then the show received a budget-related format reboot for its second season, with none of the aforementioned voice actors, a new animation style and a new intro theme — all due to it being from a different production company (DIC). It received a non-triumphant response and had a short run.
  • Spaceballs: The Animated Series
  • The NeverEnding Story. Yes, it exists.
  • Baggy Pants and the Nitwits. The first is Charlie Chaplin turned into a silent Funny Animal cat, and the second is the super-powered version of Arte Johnson and Ruth Buzzi's famous Dirty Old Man Tyrone and uptight Gladys from Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In.
  • Highlander: The Animated Series (with yet another McLeod). Set on a post-apocalyptic Earth, though this would probably not count as a substantial mangling of the original premise if not for the fact that, being children's television, the entire aspect of decapitation was removed. Except for the Big Bad, the other immortals served as Plot Coupons that the protagonist needed to find, so they could pass on their Quickenings to him — willingly. The fact that the new McLeod was immortal did not end up coming up much, since they couldn't even show him momentarily-dying. There were, however, a few off-screen deaths that someone familiar with the series could identify as decapitations, including that of Connor McLeod himself.
  • Clerks was remade as Clerks: The Animated Series by Kevin Smith and a team of capable writers and artists. Although it featured no space travel or wacky animal characters, it was intentionally a massive departure from the movie and featured numerous elements of fantasy (including Blofeld-like villains and evil Egyptian slave drivers). Sadly, it was Screwed by the Network (Smith claimed it would be cancelled after two episodes. He was right).
  • Free Willy received an animated adaptation as well that ran for two seasons. It made it so that Jesse could understand what most, if not all, of the animals could say, resulting in Willy being able to talk. Also gave them a villain in the form of a cyborg called The Machine.
  • A cartoon based on Problem Child got made and aired on the USA Network. Lord knows why.
  • Fantastic Voyage had an adaptation produced by Filmation; the hero picked up an Eyepatch of Power, Raquel Welch's counterpart got a ponytail, and they were joined by a Sikh(?) mystic and a Child Prodigy who created the flying sub they traveled in.
  • The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan, though it's a very loose adaptation of the Charlie Chan films (it was tailored more to fit Hanna-Barbera's "meddling kids" genre that was so popular in the 1970s). Though it did feature Keye Luke from the Oland films as the voice of Mr. Chan.
  • An animated adaptation of Napoleon Dynamite lasted one season, was made after the movie's popularity was considered yesterday's news, and aired on FOX. Needless to say, it was doomed from the start.
  • The Karate Kid was adapted into an animated series.
  • Six episodes of The Blues Brothers animated series were produced for UPN in 1997, but the show was cancelled before even airing.
  • Marvel Anime: Iron Man seems to be a spin-off from the films, with the opening credits suggesting that the two are set within the same continuity.
  • Likewise, Avengers Assemble splits the difference. It's based off the comics, but is far more heavily influenced by the live-action movie, right down to the cast.
  • Lassie teamed with a group of wild animals to form Lassie's Rescue Rangers.
  • Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas is a Recursive Adaptation of the 2003 film Elf animated in stop-motion, condensing the plot of the movie into 45 minutes and adding some of the songs from the broadway musical.
  • Ultraviolet (2006) got a loose anime adaptation by Madhouse called Ultraviolet: Code 044.
  • The Animatrix is an anthology of nine animated shorts set in The Matrix Trilogy's universe rather than a direct adaptation.
  • Jurassic Park had two failed attempts at animated series in the 90s. One has only a few stills left as evidence. The second was planned to tie in with the Chaos Effect toy line. A successful series finally released in 2021 with Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous. The series follows six kids who attend a dinosaur camp and get stranded when the dinosaurs escape and the island is evacuated.
  • Night of the Living Dead (1968) got Night of the Animated Dead in 2021.


    Live-Action TV 
  • The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley, a short-lived late-1980s NBC cartoon series based off Martin Short's Ed Grimley character from SCTV and Saturday Night Live. Lives on as, aside from a Coneheads special that was never picked up as a series and a David S. Pumpkins special, the only animated adaptation of an SNL recurring character that most people remember (Ed Grimley was considered to be tame to be shown for kids. Can you imagine if they made an animated adaptation of Christopher Walken's Continental character note  or Bill Hader's Stefon character note ?)
  • The 1973-75 animated version of The Addams Family put them on the road in a cross between an RV and their Victorian mansion. There was another version in the 1990s, which was essentially a continuation of the then-recent movies. Of course, the live-action sitcom was itself adapted from Charles Addams' print cartoons in The New Yorker.
  • ALF: Something of a Prequel, as it tells of Alf's adventures on Melmac. It even had a Spin-Off, Alf Tales.
  • Hercules and Xena received an animated movie, The Battle For Mount Olympus. The quality of the animation was so stunningly poor, and horribly different to the series, that it is one of VERY few things that fans hate more than Xena's finale. Animation and plot notwithstanding, the film made the crucial mistake of turning Gabrielle, the fourth most important character in the cast, into a giant bird for most of the films duration. Yeah. Bad idea. Cast and crew of the shows tend to avoid talking about the film. With something like this lying around, you have to wonder why Rob Tapert openly hates the comic adaptations. Or maybe not.
  • An animated adaptation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was planned during the hiatus between the sixth and seventh seasons, but was scrapped. At least one script written for the animated series was recycled for the live-action show ("Him", which uses several tropes usually reserved for animation). One of the Season Eight comic issues had a dream sequence that appeared to be set in the abortive animated AU, with art similar to the released conceptual sketches for it. The five minutes of the first episode doing the rounds on YouTube utterly nail the tone of the first season. About the only thing missing was Sarah Michelle Gellar playing Buffy (the actress from the popular Xbox video games reprises the role), but everything from Buffy hitting herself with a stake when showing off to Giles despairing when Buffy misidentifies the cult as "the followers of Morgan Freeman" is present and accounted for.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The BBCi Web site contains a few animated episodes and shorts.
    • A mini-series broadcast on the tie-in show Totally Doctor Who at the same time as the revival's third series, "The Infinite Quest" featured David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor and Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones, likely set some point after Martha became a full-time companion mid-way through the series.
    • An attempt was made by Canadian animation studio Nelvana in the 1990's to get an animated spin-off of Doctor Who off the ground, but they never got past concept art stages; it would've been largely based on the Fourth Doctor era, but with the Doctor designed more like Christopher Lloyd than like Tom Baker. But the interest was still there.
    • Starting in 2006, missing episodes of the show from the 60's have been restored using animation alongside the original audio. So far, 49 episodes from thirteen serialsnote  have been recreated in this way, including five surviving episodes from mostly-missing serials.
    • 2009 saw the CGI-animated Dreamland which, despite not being the most fluidly-animated 45 minutes ever seen, finally finally gave us a "Doctor goes to Area 51" plot.
    • Scream of the Shalka was intended to be the start of a continuation of the series, which at the time was still technically on hiatus. It didn't work, and the new series relegated it to Canon Discontinuity. The same people who animated it also worked on making animated versions of the missing episodes of The Invasion and did the same with The Reign of Terror.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard as The Dukes, though the General Lee did gain a few wacky Knight Rider meets Inspector Gadget abilities it never had in the live-action show. And Uncle Jesse was left at home and started a relationship with a raccoon. Produced the year that Tom Wopat and John Schnider walked off the show, the first season featured cousins Coy and Vance, the second season featuring Bo and Luke. All of the original actors provided their voices. (Wopat, who like many of the cast and many TV critics felt the live-action scripts often left something to be desired, said the cartoon had better writing than the nighttime show!)
  • The Flintstones is regarded by many as a thinly veiled adaptation of The Honeymooners.
  • The Gary Coleman Show: loosely based on Coleman's Made-for-TV Movie The Kid with the Broken Halo.
  • Gilligan's Island
    • The Professor finally managed to use Bamboo Technology to get the gang off the island. By fixing the boat? Nope. He built a space ship out of bamboo, and promptly got the gang stranded on Gilligan's Planet.
    • Before Gilligan's Planet, there was The New Adventures of Gilligan, an animated adaptation of Gilligan's Island featuring plots that were just like those of Gilligan's Island, only dumber. Oh, and Gilligan had a pet monkey named Stubby.
  • My Favorite Martian: A Filmation version became My Favorite Martians, with a lot of new characters and Jonathan Harris as the voice of Uncle Martin.
  • The Oddball Couple, DFE's official adaptation of The Odd Couple. Felix was a clean-cut cat named Spiffy, and Oscar was a slovenly dog named Fleabag. The theme of "my clean side and your dirty side" went to even greater extremes than in the original series, with the left half of their car in pristine condition and the right half falling apart.
  • There was a plan at one time for the 16th Power Rangers season to be animated instead of utilising Sentai footage, but for one reason or another, the idea fell through.
  • Red Dwarf: Several iconic moments from the series were animated and released as part of the "Red Dwarf On Your Mobile" service in 2007. An original animated short, "Red Christmas", was released as part of that service as well.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch as Sabrina: The Animated Series (and Sabrina's Secret Life). Similar in basic idea to the original (if ignoring its canon), only younger (and with balding butcher Uncle Quigley added to the cast as one of Sabrina's caretakers). Melissa Joan Hart's sister took over the title role, while Melissa did the voice of her aunts.
  • The Fox show Sit Down, Shut Up, is based on a live action TV show from Australia.
  • Hi-5 was set to have an animated spin-off in 2015, but was cancelled for unknown reasons.
  • Stargate SG-1, transposed centuries into the future but without substantial change to the premise as Stargate Infinity, although it is officially considered not part of the canon the other Stargate shows are in. With good reason, since none of the races from the official Stargate-verse appear in it (for one thing), unless you buy the claims that Draga is an Ancient. Given that in the canonical Stargate Verse, the Ancients are biologically all-but-identical to humans and not 7-foot-tall anthropomorphic dragonflies at all, the call is yours to make.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series had Star Trek: The Animated Series, which had much the same crew as the original but added a few more officers, including a feline officer and a three-armed helmsman. More importantly, not only were most of the original cast signed (budget prevented Walter Koenig from being included, but Gene Roddenberry made it up to him by allowing the actor to write an episode), but also many of the original writers, which meant stories that were at least largely true to the original series' spirit. (Both of these were written into the DC Star Trek comics, set in between the various movies, and have now been picked up by Peter David for his New Frontier book series.) The animated series was set before the movies but after (or perhaps during?) the Enterprise's original five year mission. Today, it stands the best example of such adaptations, which earned the franchise's first Emmy Award.

    TAS, as it's known in Trek fandom, is one of the few cases of Reverse Canon Discontinuity on record that does not involve an Expanded Universe. Paramount said for years that TAS is not in continuity; a large subsection of fans say that it is (with the exception of the material from Larry Niven's Known Space series that were included when Niven adapted one of his short stories into a script; fans are perfectly aware of the implications of allowing that into Trek canon). Some elements have made their way into canon, mostly some scripts written by the popular Original Series writer D.C. Fontana. This disagreement was made worse when certain things only referenced in TAS made it into episodes of Enterprise, thus placing those elements officially into canon. According to, CBS, who acquired Paramount's television studio in 2005, now considers it fully canon thanks to a poll where fans overwhelmingly supported including it.
  • Several Looney Tunes shorts featured cartoon mouse versions of The Honeymooners ("The Honey-Mousers", "Cheese It! The Cat", "Mice Follies") and The Jack Benny Program ("The Mouse That Jack Built" which actually featured Benny and the show's cast). There was also two Looney Tunes shorts that featured characters resembling animal versions of Abbott and Costello, one as mice, the other as cats (which also featured the first appearance of Tweety!)
  • Abbott and Costello themselves later got their own direct Animated Adaptation, made by Hanna-Barbera, and featuring an Ink-Suit Actor Abbott (Costello having died years earlier). As with the first Three Stooges cartoon, a major saving grace of the cartoon was that it helped provide Abbott an income towards the end of his life after bad contracts and gambling habits.
  • A CGI animated series was made by Nelvana out of, of all things, the Speculative Biology documentary The Future Is Wild, about how life may evolve in the future. Essentially, the plot of the series revolves around CG, a girl from 10,000 years in the future, sent to scout out various places in time that humanity could colonise to save themselves from a "mega ice-age", who picks up three kids from the modern era and a future squid in the process.
  • Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling was a pretty direct adaptation of the WWF's characters at the time, though it put the wrestlers into zany misadventures outside the ring.
  • The Brady Bunch: Mike and Carol finally had enough of the kids and abandoned them. The gang was forced to live in a treehouse with pandas from another planet and Marlon the Magical Myna Bird. Together, they solve crimes as The Brady Kids.
  • That Girl: Marlo Thomas falls down the rabbit-hole and becomes That Girl In Wonderland.
  • Happy Days: The Fonz, Richie and Ralph get lost in time and space and search for a way home, along with alien bimbo Cupcake and Fonz's dog, Mr. Cool, in The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang.
  • Laverne & Shirley: Laverne and Shirley Join the Army. The Fonz eventually shows up as their mechanic. (Still with Mr. Cool.) Also with a pig in a uniform as a commanding officer.
  • Mork & Mindy: Robin Williams and Pam Dawber reprise their prime-time roles for Saturday morning, with the addition of Mork's six-legged Orkan pet. Oh, and it's a Prequel, with Mindy in high school, which contradicts just about everything from the original series.
  • The Partridge Family: Shaken, not stirred, with a jiggernote  of The Jetsons to create The Partridge Family 2200 AD. In fact it originated as The Jetsons a couple years farther in the future, with Elroy in high school and Judy in college.
  • Punky Brewster: Added a magical friend, Glomer the Glomley, from Chaundoon, the city at the end of the rainbow. All the stars of the live-action version reprised their roles.
  • Emergency + 4: Gage and DeSoto, the paramedics of Emergency! (voiced by their live-action actors Kevin Tighe and Randolph Mantooth) get extra help in the form of a four-kid ambulance crew, accompanied by a dog, a monkey, and a mynah bird.
  • I Dream of Jeannie: Hanna-Barbera gave us Jeannie, with the military officer heroes replaced by teenage boys, and added an incompetent, Joe Besser-voiced "Junior genie, Babu" as a sidekick. Barbara Eden's trademark eyeblink for casting spells was replaced by a whirl of the animated Jeannie's ponytail. The male lead, Cory Anders, was voiced by a young Mark Hamill. And yes, that's him singing the theme song as well.
  • For reasons nobody can defend — much less fathom — Roseanne Barr Pentland Arnold Terwilliger Thomas was given a Saturday morning cartoon in the early 1990s called Little Rosie. It wasn't based on her TV show, rather it was apparently based on her childhood and gave her magical adventures. Or something, it's not like those who saw it wanted to spend time admitting it.
  • Mister T. He fights crime! And beats up crocodiles. Really.
  • Mr. Bean: the Animated Series from 2002: Mr. Bean, but more cartoonish, if you doubted such a thing was possible.
  • Tales from the Cryptkeeper: A kid-friendly version of Tales from the Crypt.
  • Yo soy Betty, la fea begat the animated series Betty Toons.
  • Tabitha, Adam and the Clown Family: Instead of a group of ex-Partridge Family-like sitcom characters getting a magical kid sidekick, older versions of Adam and Tabitha from Bewitched (who were already magical) get a sidekick singing circus family.
  • Two entries in the Ultra Series were animated. One (Ultraman: The Adventure Begins, sometimes called Ultraman USA) was a pilot by Hanna-Barbera animated in an Animesque style, The other, The☆Ultraman (or Ultraman Joneus), was a very successful anime by Sunrise.
  • In the early heyday of M*A*S*H, Filmation decided to do a Saturday Morning adaptation of the series on Uncle Croc's Block. This version of M*A*S*H had a cast made entirely of dogs. so, they called it ... M*U*S*H. (Which, according to Jim Backus' Opening Narration, stood for "Mangy, Unwanted, Shabby Heroes".)
  • A 1973 stump for a McHale's Navy cartoon for ABC never got past the pitch stage.
  • Filmation adaptated their 1975 live-action series The Ghost Busters as Ghostbusters in 1986. (See the entry on The Real Ghostbusters in the Live-Action Film section for more on how these series came to be.)
  • The Houndcats had its genesis in Mission: Impossible, The Wild Wild West and Bearcats!. Except that all of the main characters were male (Dingdog as a tactless daredevil).
  • El Chavo del ocho has El Chavo Animado (El Chavo: The Animated Series or just Chavo)
  • Supernatural: The Animation.
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show's Show Within a Show star Alan Brady was given an animated special by TV Land in 2003.
  • The Munsters had The Mini-Munsters, an hour-long television special that aired in 1973.
  • Nanny and the Professor were given a couple of television specials - one involving a microdot, and the other involving a traveling circus.
  • Lost in Space got as far as an animated pilot during the early 1970s.
  • Although it was a comic book initially, The New Adventures of Batman was a direct adaptation of the '60s Adam West/Burt Ward Batman series before it, featuring the same actors and feel.
    • A more direct adaptation came in the 2016 direct-to-DVD film Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, which is explicitly based off of the '60s show and had West, Ward, and Julie Newmar reprising their roles. A sequel came out in 2017 with William Shatner playing Two-Face, who was deemed too gruesome for the TV show.
  • The Adventures of Kid Danger is a crazier, animated version of the Nickelodeon sitcom Henry Danger. It even has its own review by the site here.
  • Tousouchuu: The Great Mission is notable for unusually not being The Anime of the Game, or even based on any manga or light novel, instead being an original story that merely borrows several elements directly from the original game show for the purpose of Worldbuilding.

  • Of course, too many anime series to count.
    • In order of how likely is an adaptation of the manga to happen: Shonen, Shojo, Seinen, Josei. Shonen manga get adaptations all the time (usually in a continuous running format with filler, but more recent series tend towards a seasonal format like western cartoons), and are a significant reason why anime achieved the popularity they have today: even non-fans will recognize Goku and Naruto. Shojo adaptations are somewhat rarer, but still very common; the genre gamut for these adaptations is also far wider than that of your shonen, ranging from magical warriors to soapy romances. Seinen are rarer still, and they are also very narrow in terms of genre variety: dark fantasy and science fiction are about the only seinen genres to get a straightforward adaptation. Slice-of-life seinen rarely gets adapted, and if it does achieve the necessary popularity the anime adaptation will almost invariably be an Adaptation Distillation (due to a whole bunch of well, nothing, happening in various chapters). Josei manga adaptations used to be simply unheard of in the anime community - if there even is an adaptation expect a dorama instead.note 
  • The Astro Boy 2009 CGI film is the only Western CGI adaptation of a Manga series. Despite having an All-Star Cast including Freddie Highmore, Nicolas Cage and Kristen Bell, it was not well-received both critically and financially, as well as deviating a lot from the original source material.
  • Lupin III began as a manga series, with stories that rarely lasted more than a single chapter. Within two years of the initial serials, a pilot episode was made, garnering interest for an anime adaptation. Some of the chapters have enjoyed a fairly direct transition from Manga to Anime format.
  • The Sailor Moon manga has two distinct anime adaptations:
  • The anime adaptation of One-Punch Man is a curious case, as it was an adaptation of a manga re-imagination of a Webcomic.


    Puppet Shows 


  • ProStars, featuring Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Bo "Knows" Jackson as crime-fighting Gadgeteer Heroes.
  • The Harlem Globetrotters: Animated wackier exploits of the real-life basketball players: They travel to a remote area, get into a hostile situation with a group of individuals which is settled by challenging them to basketball games. The animated Globetrotters also guest-starred on three episodes of The New Scooby-Doo Movies.
    • See the Emmy-nominated Futurama ep "Time Keeps on Slippin" for a parody.
    • The Super Globetrotters: Five semi-real-life basketball sports entertainers gain super powers. Ludicrous super powers. Provided with info support by a basketball sputnik. In essence, The Super Globetrotters was a ripoff of H-B's 1966 superhero show The Impossibles.
  • You might think that the animated series Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series had something to do with the movies. It did but not much, it was instead about an entirely different team with the same name... a team of super-powered anthropomorphic ducks who fight aliens with hockey-themed gadgets. This all came about because of the first film being very successful which led to Disney creating the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (now the Anaheim Ducks) ice hockey team and then making an animated series tenuously related to the team. In that order.
  • NASCAR Racers
  • NFL Rush Zone: Guardians of the Core

    Tabletop Games 

  • Rubik, the Amazing Cube is a very odd case. it took what was essentially a glorified paperweight and turned it into a cartoon about three plucky children who had to fight an evil magician by solving Rubik's cubes. Possibly even less subtle than The Merch, but it lasted a whole year.
  • Transformers is probably the most successful and definitely most prolific example of this. Though, originally, the toys were from separate toy lines and had no factions and none of their iconic names. Sunbow Entertainment devised the factions, and then Marvel Comics named and fleshed out the characters (the comic book and cartoon were developed concurrently), and all of that was put into a new toy line. The entire purpose of The Transformers: The Movie was to "clear the way for the new toy line". The real reason Optimus Prime and many of the others were killed off? Because their toys had been discontinued by the company.
  • The My Pet Monster plush toys had a movie, and was then followed up by an animated series, both courtesy of Nelvana.
  • The G.I. Joe 3 3/4 inch toyline got an animated series made by the same company that animated commercials for the G.I. Joe comic series.
  • Action Man (Action Force in the 1980s) was originally the UK version of G.I. Joe, but received a revival as an extreme sports hero who later had his own cartoon. In fact, two of them.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) included new aspects to the Masters of the Universe franchise which would be added to the figures' pack-in minicomics canon, and new characters who would be added to the toyline (like Orko or King Randor).
  • BIONICLE has several movies, each a part of the larger story that's told in other media.
    • The 2015 reboot had minute-and-a-half long animated webisodes that covered the winter and summer 2015 stories. A Netflix animated miniseries titled "The Journey to One" premiered in February 2016.
  • Hero Factory struggled to keep one up, perhaps in part because it barely had a story to speak of (very much unlike the above). The first season, Rise of the Rookies, was a 4-episode Mini Series, while the second, Ordeal of Fire, had to be compressed into a single episode. Season 3, titled Savage Planet, became more of a legitimate mini-cartoon again (though only two episodes long), with Ordeal being reduced to a simple bonus for its DVD release. Breakout was a two-parter, but the following "seasons" only consisted of a single episode each (Brain Attack and Invasion from Below). Later installments are more glorified toy ads without a shred of pretense, since they have to showcase as many sets as they can under 22 minutes. This may also be due to the fact that just as the story started gearing up to go somewhere in Breakout, the line was put on much lower priority to instead focus on the Bionicle reboot.
  • Speaking of LEGO, Ninjago has an animated show of its own under the subtitle "Masters of Spinjitsu" since 2011, as well as an animated movie released in 2017.
  • Almost every generation of My Little Pony has had one of these.
  • Suzy's Zoo: Daisuki! Witzy is based on (for a lack of better place to place this) stationery and baby products by Suzy Spafford.
  • The Trash Pack, Shopkins, The Grossery Gang, and Treasure X, all Moose Toys products, have had animated web series made of them. The Trash Pack attempted to have a animated TV series, but it failed to materialize. Shopkins would later get direct to DVD movies based on the web series.
  • UglyDolls is a movie based on the plush doll line of the same name.
  • The Tamagotchi anime TV show, the two feature films, and the two short films are adapted from the virtual pet toys of the same name.
  • DAVE School Animation produced CGI student films based on two of Applehead Factory's products.
    • A short film based on Tofu the Vegan Zombie where Tofu sneaks into a room he's seen his creator Dr. Vost enter and ends up accidentally unleashing Dr. Vost's zombified wife.
    • A Teddy Scares short film where Edwin Morose, Rita Mortis, Redmond Gore and Hester Golem conspire to destroy Abnormal Cyrus' "friend", a toaster he names Toasty.
  • The Littlest Pet Shop toys gave rise to four different animated series, the first of which premiered in 1995.
  • Troll dolls inspired multiple separate adaptations under different licenses. First was the The Magic Trolls and the Troll Warriors, then came Trollz, which kept the magic fight against evil but shifted the setting to a modern world while also making the focus on a cast of girls. Then came the CGI movie simply called Trolls by DreamWorks, which characterizes trolls as forest dwelling beings who live a carefree lifestyle singing pop songs. This got a series on Netflix that went on for eight short seasons before the movie got a sequel that expanded the lore by introducing tribal subspecies who prefer different genres of music, which will also get its own series on Peacock. A third movie is set to release in 2023.
  • Cepia LLC's popular ZhuZhu Pets became the basis for two separate animated adaptations: a 2011 direct-to-video movie called Quest for Zhu and an unrelated 2016 TV show from Nelvana known as The ZhuZhus (originally Polly and the ZhuZhu Pets).
  • Pet Alien is an adaptation of series creator Jeff Muncy's 1990s Pet Alien toyline.
  • The Spanish toyline SuperThings has a web series adaptation that runs concurrently with each new series to add to the new gimmicks of the line. The series was originally a voiced motion comic with an arc, the series would change into standalone full animated episodes with the debut of the Kazoom Kids.

    Trading Cards 
  • The Garbage Pail Kids trading cards had an animated series consisting of 13 episodes that was planned to air on CBS until complaints from Moral Guardians resulted in the show being locked away for years until it was finally made available to the public via DVD. The show's premise was about five Garbage Pail Kids (Split Kit, Patty Putty, Elliot Mess, Terri Cloth, and Clogged Duane) hanging out and fighting crime, with additional segments including movie parodies, Garbage Pail Awards, bulletins warning of pests as if they were wanted criminals, and Parody Commercials.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue has a combination of regular machinima and animation (by the animator of Haloid). At a convention, Rooster Teeth screened an experimental short featuring the RvB guys animated in pencil-and-paper 2D, however in this Game Time with Monty Oum and Burnie, Burnie discusses the project, revealing that while Rooster Teeth still wrote the scripts for the adaption the animation was handled entirely by an outside company, and as such they felt like they didn't have enough control over the final project, leading to the animated series being cancelled.
  • The fourth season of Bravest Warriors manifested itself as a traditional television series co-produced by Nelvana and broadcast on Teletoon in Canada. (The Cartoon Hangover section of the VRV streaming services aired it in the U.S.)


    Web Original 

    Web Video 
  • Critical Role: What started as a homegame of a group of voice actors playing Dungeons & Dragons became a sucessful stream and video series... so sucessful in fact, that the first campaign got its adaption as an animated series, The Legend of Vox Machina.

    Real Life 
  • Isla Presidencial is an animated series about the presidents of Latin America and Spain.
  • The obscure animated series Bad Dog is based on a screensaver from the After Dark software, with the show's dog resembling the one from the screensaver. Guess you can really adapt anything into a cartoon.


  • At the end of the book Relic, an animated show about the Museum Beast is mentioned as being canceled before it was produced. Considering that the Museum Beast is the perpetrator of several hideously gruesome murders in the book, it isn't surprising why a show about it never aired.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Colbert Report's Stephen Colbert Presents: Stephen Colbert's Alpha Squad 7: The New Tek Jansen Adventures series of animated shorts presented as an ongoing animated series, starring Author Avatar Tek Jansen. The Expository Theme Tune intro is a pastiche of animated series tropes including the Recycled In Space setting and the Remember the New Guy? Non-Human Sidekick Porpy foisted upon the audience at the last minute. Special Guest appearance: The Harlem Globetrotters.
  • Saturday Night Live:
    • One TV Funhouse short involved Dennis Haysbert introducing several short-lived cartoon shows for Black History Month, including Token Power (featuring three Token Black characters from other cartoons: Valerie from Josie And The Pussy Cats, Winston from the cartoon adaptation of Ghostbusters, and Franklin from the Peanuts series), The Hoke & Daisy Show and Ladysmith Black Mambazo in Outer Space.
    • Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George Bush, Sr. and Ronald Reagan as The X-Presidents. The later episodes had Bill Clinton trying to join, despite having no superpowers and a wildly risque array of costumes and gadgets.
  • The Mr. Show sketch that introduces GloboChem has two business men saying their plans for their mascot Pit Pat included "an animated children's program" among things like breakfast cereal.

    Print Media 

  • The Detroit Pistons, for a few years, had a short cartoon as part of their pre-game videos, spoofing the Super Globetrotters concept. The then-current Pistons were kidnapped by aliens, and the "Bad Boys", the starters from the 1989 and 1990 championship teams, had to go into space to rescue them... by frightening the aliens with their really short shorts.

    Theme Parks 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in The Simpsons episode "Husbands and Knives" as Milhouse talks to voice guest Alan Moore about "Watchmen Babies".
  • In the South Park episode "Terrence and Phillip: Behind the Blow", a documentary reveals that Terrence and Phillip once made an animated show based on themselves, which was so popular that people got confused whether the duo were real or fictional (a reference to the Early-Installment Weirdness depiction of them as in-universe cartoon characters prior to "Bigger, Longer and Uncut").

Alternative Title(s): The Animated Series


Bill & Ted Animated Adventures

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