6 Weird Early Versions of Classic Cartoon Characters

It’s always weird to see early episodes from a long-running TV show, especially cartoons. Usually, the early animation is a bit rougher and the voices are just a little ... off. They almost feel like those cheap Wal-Mart knock-off versions of animated movies. You might know these characters today, but you might not recognize their origins. Here are six weird early versions of classic cartoon characters.
 

The Simpsons

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While The Simpsons will survive long after the sun burns out, anyone who saw their first appearance could never have guessed. Originally appearing as sketches on The Tracey Ullman Show, the early Simpsons look like a horrifying version of what they would become. Also, Homer was a lot angrier. Modern Homer still has a pretty bad temper, but it’s been turned down over the years.

Bugs Bunny

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In Porky’s Hare Hunt, the titular Porky tried to take down the most dangerous game — rabbits. The featured bunny from this cartoon proved popular enough that the studio decided to keep bringing him back. While he would eventually develop into Bugs Bunny, the original version sounds more like Woody Woodpecker. The rabbit slowly began to look like the Bugs Bunny we all know and love, but it didn’t start sounding like Bugs until the 1940s. By that point, Bugs was being hunted by Elmer Fudd, because apparently every cartoon character wants a shot at murdering Bugs.

Garfield

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We all know what Garfield looks like now, but in his early years, he had jowls, a hunched back, and beady little eyes. Sure, modern Garfield is cranky, but at least he looks friendly. Reading the original strips makes me feel like I’m getting yelled at by my grandfather. Also, Garfield would often just assault Jon Arbuckle for trying to make him eat healthy or exercise. Luckily, Garfield is a Benjamin Button cat and aged into a younger, less terrifying version of himself.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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Whether it’s the silly cartoon from the ’80s, the less silly cartoons from the ‘00s, or the silly for completely different reasons Michael Bay movies, kids will always love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ... but they should not read their original comics. Meant to mock gritty superhero comics, the joke was that the concept of a ninja turtle was absurd. With Splinter sending the Turtles out to murder Shredder in the first issue, however, the Ninja Turtles themselves were just as dark as the comics they parodied.

SpongeBob SquarePants

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Originally, SpongeBob SquarePants was a self-published comic book titled The Intertidal Zone. Also, it was educational and used by a marine science institution to teach students. The creator, Stephen Hillenburg, shopped the comic around to larger publishers, but they all turned it down. It wasn’t until Hillenburg changed careers and started working at Nickelodeon that someone noticed his characters and encouraged him to pitch it as a show. That means SpongeBob originally started off as a teacher (also, there are a bunch of people out there who have to live the rest of their lives knowing they turned down SpongeBob SquarePants).

 

Casper the Friendly Ghost

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Casper isn't just a friendly ghost, he’s also a child ghost. That has some pretty dark implications. While modern interpretations will quickly address this and then move on to children-appropriate antics, that hasn’t always been the case. Originally, Casper’s origin was left purposely vague, for obvious reasons. By the ‘60s, however, Harvey Comics decided to make it clear that Casper wasn’t a dead little boy — instead, both of his parents were ghosts who fell in love and had a ghost child together ... which is a way creepier origin. For a while, Casper was a completely inhuman being. While he may have been a friendly ghost, during that time period he was also definitely a servant of whatever dark lord resides over hell. 

Which version of these characters do you prefer? Let me know on Twitter or leave a comment below!

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