The 7 strangest spin-off cartoons from our childhood

Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo and his animated counterpart

(image: Orion Pictures/Carolco TV)

If you’re a person of a certain age, we’re sure you’ll remember the Ghostbusters cartoon from the late 1980s. If starred all of the characters from the original films – albeit with different voices. And from what we can remember, it was a pretty awesome show!

(image: Columbia Pictures TV)

(image: Columbia Pictures TV)

The very nature of ghostbusting lent itself to the monster-of-the-week format. Every episode, the gang would track down some new ghoulie. It was also the show where Slimer was finally named and recast as a friendly firehouse spectre!

The Real Ghostbusters (as it was called to distinguish itself from a knock-off cartoon that preceded it)  remains one of the classic animated series of the 80s.

However, there were a lot of other spin-off cartoons from the 80s and 90s that are now best consigned to history.

 1. Police Academy: The Series 

Police Academy: The Series

(image: Warner Bros TV)

Based on: Police Academy and its sequels

Lest we forget, the original Police Academy was quite a raunchy film. Steve Guttenberg’s defining character trait is that he’s a ladies man, there are more than a few see-through tops, and one particular scene where Commandant Lassard abruptly discovers a working girl hiding under a podium.

The cartoon, which ran for two seasons, had everyone’s favourite characters: Sound Effects Guy, Gun Nut, Tall Man, and Shy Woman.


2. Rambo: The Force of Freedom

Rambo: Force of Freedom

(image: Saban Entertainment)

Based on: First Blood

Stallone’s cartoonish physique makes for a pretty reasonable translation to the cartoon world. In this show, John Rambo is part of an elite GI Joe-style team that battles a COBRA-style terrorist organisation.

The cartoon glosses over the entire premise of the Rambo character: namely that he’s a socially awkward Vietnam veteran with PTSD.


 3. New Kids on The Block

New Kids on the Block Cartoon

(image: ABC)

Based on: The 80s boyband of the same name.

This show ran for 14 episodes and followed the fun and G-rated adventures of a globetrotting boy band. It featured wacky and loveable characters like, er…. Jordan McKnight and Donnie Wahlberg.


4. Dumb and Dumber

Dumb and Dumber cartoon

(image: Hanna Barbara)

Based on: the Jim Carrey-Jeff Daniels movie of the same name.

Another one-season flash in the pan, this kids show continue to follow the adventures of Harry and Lloyd as they went around in their dog car doing dumb stuff. In an effort to appeal to children, they introduced a new character in the form of Kitty, a sassy beaver.


5. The Karate Kid

The Karate Kid cartoon

(image: Saban Entertainment)

Based on: The Karate Kid

Oh no! An ancient shrine has been stolen from a temple in Okinawa…and it’s up to Mr Miyagi, Daniel-san and some girl we’ve never met to recover it! Each episode saw the team chase the shrine to a new country, only to let it slip through their hands in the final five minutes!

This 1989 show also ran for just 13 episodes. Surprise, surprise!


6. Hammerman

Hammerman, the MC Hammer Cartoon

(image: DiC Entertainment)

Based on: Dance sensation M.C. Hammer

It’s about a normal guy named Stanley (the real-life Hammer’s real name) who inherits a magical pair of shoes. When he slips on these shoes, he transforms into a parachute-pants wearing superhero. Look… it’s best if you let the opening sequence explain it to you.

Bear in mind that these shoes had eyes and could talk; which meant that he would regularly put his feet inside two sentient beings!

Please Hammer, don’t hurt ’em!


7. Hulk Hogan’s Rock n’ Wrestling

Hulk Hogan's Rock n' Wrestling

(image via WWE)

Based on: WWF (now WWE) wrestlers of the 1980s

Okay, so you know how in pro wrestling there are goodies and baddies? And how the baddies seem to do things for no other reason except for the fact that they’re bad (and they want to win real bad)? Well, this was a very literal interpretation of that dichotomy.

The Hulkster led a group of upstanding wrestlers like Andre the Giant, Tito Santana and ‘Superfly’ Jimmy Snuka. They would get into real-life adventures, only to be occasionally thwarted by bad wrestlers like Rowdy Roddy Piper. It was a pretty dumb show, even by 80s standards.

Fun fact: the Hulk character was voiced by Brad Garrett – Ray’s cop brother in Everybody Loves Raymond!

What spin-off cartoons can you remember from your youth? As long as it’s based on something -be it a movie or a pop band- it totally counts!

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