8 Worst Cartoon Series Starring Celebrities
Before celebrities tried to extend their fame—or salvage their careers—through reality TV, they attempted to win over the hearts and minds of impressionable (though ultimately not stupid) little kids through the wonders of TV cartoon shows. While some series—okay, one—succeeded (“Jackie Chan Adventures” ran a whole five seasons), most just wound up as proof that stars should never appear in animated form.
The Jackson 5ive (1971-1972)
Hot on the heels of the group’s hit single “ABC”—so much so that the song ate up half the running time of many episodes—“The Jackson 5ive” cartoon followed the adventures of the touring brothers, minus their horrible control freak of a dad but plus plots involving giant beanstalks or fairy godfathers. In the spirit of this real-life documentary approach, the group was joined by a snake and two mice—one of which would have certainly eaten the other two in a “very special episode”—a twist that seems less odd now given how the adult Michael loved to operate unlicensed zoos. Unfortunately, whatever retro charm the series could hold is undone by not having the Jacksons voice their own characters, an animation style so limited it looks like the series was initially pitched as a filmstrip, and a piercing laugh track that jumps to “11” every time one of the characters blinks.
Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos (1986)
A blatant rip-off of almost every cartoon series of the time, “Karate Kommandos” starred Chuck Norris and his own secret U.S. army (which probably does exist) fighting an evil organization called “Vulture” (instead of “Cobra” from “G.I. Joe”), led by “The Claw” (instead of “Doctor Claw” from “Inspector Gadget”) and his sidekick “Super Ninja” (instead of a character name that doesn’t sound about as creative as “Captain Guy”). A five-episode miniseries (presumably because Chuck Norris beat the crap out of episodes six through 13), it featured a racially-diverse cast in the animation industry’s far-too-late attempt to make up for years of TV cartoons in which Asian characters only appeared in shows when the story had something to do with martial arts (like “Karate Kommandos”). While the overall series was about as memorable as a dream about napping, each episode did end with a live-action segment in which Chuck Norris taught viewers an important life lesson like “Don’t piss me off” or “Seriously, I will hurt you.”
Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling (1985-1986)
Back in the mid-1980’s almost nothing was as popular as the WWF and no wrestler was more well known than Hulk Hogan. So it made perfect sense that someone would create a WWF cartoon series that almost never mentioned wrestling and—judging from the above series intro—seemed to be about Hulk Hogan wandering aimlessly around the city getting swarmed by either happy fans or very joyful zombies, interspersed with animated sequences of him apparently getting carjacked by Rowdy Roddy Piper. In addition to Piper, countless other WWF stars appeared in the series, none of them voiced by the wrestlers themselves but all having to see their names forever attached to such episodes as “Gorilla My Dreams,” “Junkenstein,” and the no doubt multiple Emmy-nominated “Big Top Boobs.”
Wish Kid Starring Macaulay Culkin (1991-1992)
As far as magical items go, a baseball glove that grants short-lived wishes ranks right up there with cleats that translate Portuguese and levitating shin guards. But a baseball mitt was indeed the focus of “Wish Kid,” a cartoon series featuring the voice of “Home Alone” star Macaulay Culkin at a time when such a thing meant “potential blockbuster” as opposed to “probably 2 am SyFy movie.” In each episode Macaulay need only punch his glove three times to get a wish (which resembles the first draft of “Aladdin” in which the main character had to repeatedly knee the genie to get his way). Alas, whatever he wished for would invariably disappear when he needed it the most, a plot device that didn’t so much teach kids “Be careful of what you wish for” as “Magic jets don’t last so deal.”
In the early 90’s M.C. Hammer was the new King of Pop thanks to the success of his singles “U Can’t Touch This” and, well, maybe the dance remix or spoken-word version of “U Can’t Touch This.” And so with his newfound fame (and newfound ability to get anything he wanted, even if it was to release a future perfect tense version of his single titled “U Will Have Not Touched This”), Hammer made a cartoon in which he costarred with living, breathing, talking dance shoes. The shoes—which probably screamed whenever he put them on—would turn Hammer into “Hammerman,” a name that hides a secret identity about as well as if Clark Kent was named “Superman But With Glasses.” Each episode would then close with a puppet version of the talking shoes sharing a moral lesson but more likely just scaring the hell out of little kids into never wearing footwear again.
Little Rosey (1990)
By this point you’ve probably realized that the early 90’s were a particular low point in TV animation, with just about any celebrity being given a cartoon series co-starring an enchanted Hypercolor T-shirt or talking hi-top fade. But while one could at least imagine little kids wanting to see MC Hammer in animated parachute pants or Macaulay Culkin get screwed over by a baseball glove, the idea of a cartoon starring Roseanne Barr makes about as much sense as a science exhibit featuring Fred Flintstone and Dino. That, however, didn’t stop anyone from letting Roseanne create a show in which an 8-year-old version of herself got into trouble and then got out of trouble. That was it. That was the entire premise of the show—“Stuff happens and then end credits.” Frankly, the series would have been far more exciting if it consisted of nothing but 30 minutes of an apple going uneaten occasionally interrupted with the words “BUY THINGS!”
The Gary Coleman Show (1982-1983)
“What if a ten-year-old Gary Coleman was dead?” That was the not-so-charming focus of “The Gary Coleman Show,” in which Gary played a newbie angel who had to help kids in order to earn his wings or halo or dental benefits or whatever. Each step of the way he was routinely thwarted by a character named Hornswaggle who always encouraged Gary to make the wrong decision, like starring in a cartoon series in which he’s dead. That said, the show does have the distinction of being the first cartoon series to feature a character who raps, which is rather impressive until you actually hear what an early 1980’s Saturday morning cartoon version of rapping sounds like. Like most of the above series, the show was cancelled after a mere 13 episodes, forcing Gary to return to “Diff’rent Strokes” and repeatedly utter his famous catchphrase “What'chu talkin' 'bout?” every time one of the actors playing his siblings on the show called from jail asking for bail money.
Mister T (1983-1986)
Given that the show ran three seasons (the third season being a collection of reruns from the first two years), “Mister T” can be considered an unqualified success when it comes to celebrity cartoons. But when we do qualify it we find a show in which Mr. T coaches a gymnastics team (presumably because “Mr. T coaches a synchronized swim team” would have limited stories to the pool or not running around the pool) only to wind up solving mysteries around the world (as so often happens but is rarely reported in varsity sports). At the start of each show Mr.T would explain what was about to happen (“In this episode we find out who really shot JKF…or stop a ninja from robbing stores. I forget which.”) At the end Mr. T yelled at little kids to be nice or at least stop crying in restaurants. But what Mr. T could never explain was why the show was called “Mister T” instead of “Mr. T,” a mystery he might have been able to solve if he had coached a team of police detectives instead.
Which is your favorite awful celeb cartoon? Let us know in the comments!