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In the 1970s, there was apparently something in the water supply, because TV executives thought that it would be a pretty good idea to take popular TV shows and redo them in an animated format.
If that was all there was to it, this would simply be a very strange thing to do, and sometimes, that's as far as it went: Star Trek the Animated Series was essentially just a continuation of the original series in animated format, and there it almost made sense - elaborate alien/monster designs cost a lot less in animation. But most of the time, the folks behind these abominations (correctly) realized that the source material wasn't really suitable to a Saturday Morning Cartoon. And yet this didn't stop them.
This particular variation was almost entirely exclusive to the 1970s.
An alternate formula was to reproduce the original show in a half-hour format, adding a small group of kids and their pet as sidekicks to the heroes. For some reason, this was neither as popular nor as successful as the first option. Filmation proposed this for Star Trek, but Gene Roddenberry balked instantly and the direct approach was used instead.
Another formula was to take the existing show, and append the words "IN SPACE!"
In more recent years, people are taking Western Animation more seriously as a storytelling medium, and not as just a way to sell toys. The results are now noticeable, with adaptations that take the prior format and reproduce it successfully into animated form.
The Animated Adaptation is rarely quite as ridiculous today. The Live Action Adaptation, however, has taken up the reins of silliness.
Technically, of course, an Animated Adaptation can be anything adapted as a cartoon, so if this doesn't apply to whatever linked you here, you'll know why.
Expect it to actually be called "Title: The Animated Series".
For a video game-specific example of this trope, see The Anime of the Game.
- 1 Adapted from Advertising
- 2 Adapted from Comic Books
- 3 Adapted from Comic Strips
- 4 Adapted from Films — Animation
- 5 Adapted from Films — Live-Action
- 6 Adapted from Literature
- 7 Adapted from Live-Action TV
- 8 Adapted from Manga
- 9 Adapted from Music
- 10 Adapted from Puppet Shows
- 11 Adapted from Sports
- 12 Adapted from Toys
- 13 Adapted from Video Games
- 14 Web Animation
- 15 Literature
- 16 Live-Action TV
- 17 Sports
- 18 Web Original
- 19 Western Animation
Adapted from Advertising
- The Incredible Crash Test Dummies, known first as a PSA campaign on the importance of seat belts, somehow became a Saturday morning cartoon.
- The Lebrons, adapted from LeBron James' series of live-action Nike commercials of the same name.
- The California Raisins, adapted from Will Vinton's clay-animated commercials for the California Raisin Advisory Board.
Adapted from Comic Books
- Batman the Animated Series is arguably the most successful example of the Animated Adaptation. It spawned seven in-continuity spin-off shows that lasted from the early 1990s right through to the early 2000s, as well as computer games and movies. It kept some of the character designs and all of the tone of Tim Burton's movies (well, it was dark but not in a Tim Burton kind of way), but took place in an Alternate Continuity. It also originally placed a moratorium on death, although this was relaxed for the spin-off movies and the rest of the DCAU in general, including The New Batman Adventures. Also, several characters were popular enough to become Canon Immigrants to the mainstream DC Universe, most famously Harley Quinn.
It has also forever burned the voices of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill into the minds of everyone that grew up in the 1990s and 2000s as the voices of Batman and The Joker... You'd think after The Dark Knight Saga, DC may have tried to get new voices for the characters, but both returned to their roles in Batman: Arkham Asylum, and rather than Christian Bale voicing Batman in Gotham Knights (The Dark Knight tie-in Direct-to-Video movie), which would make sense, guess who played Batman instead? Though this had more to do with both Nolan and Bale's disapproval of the animated tie-in, on an entire basis that it was "for kids" and "a tie in". This despite the fact that it got the same MPAA rating as the movies.
- There have been several Spider-Man animated series produced over the decades:
- Starting with a 1967 adaptation that introduced the famous "Does whatever a spider can" theme song.
- Spider-Man: The Animated Series was pretty much John Semper doing the best he could with horrible animation, censorship and Executive Meddling, yet still doing pretty well.
- The most recent one, The Spectacular Spider-Man, is widely considered Adaptation Distillation, as does stay true to the comics through using many elements from the original comics, along with the Ultimate Comics, and the movies, combining them into its own universe.
- The upcoming Ultimate Spider-Man TV series which so far looks to be Adaptation Distillation in ernest.
- Superman, many times over.
- Arguably Bruce Timm's Superman the Animated Series was the most definitive, considering that many fans claimed it to be better than the comics, and like its brother series many character traits (Lois calling Clark "Smallville" for example) and many characters were integrated into the comics themselves
- The very first animated adaptation of Superman was a series of 7-10 minute shorts produced by the Fleisher studios in (and later Famous studios) in conjunction with Paramount from 1941-1943. While sparse on characterization, they were way ahead of their time with a style that influenced the Batman series fifty years later. The first installment, "The Mad Scientist" (also known as Superman no. 1) was nominated for an Academy Award for animated short subject.
- In 1966, another Superman animated series, The New Adventures of Superman, put Filmation on the map, and while hardly epic, serve as a very faithful adaptation of the Silver Age comics.
- Several of the Marvel super heroes including Thor, Iron Man, Sub-Mariner, Captain America, Hulk, and Silver Surfer have had at least one cartoon.
- The Avengers, a comic starring most of these heroes, had two cartoon incarnations.
- The 1999 series, The Avengers: United They Stand is a rather forgettable short-lived series that gave the Avengers Power Rangers-esque Powered Armor transformation sequences, and relegates the "big name" Avengers to special guest appearances.
- The 2010 series, Avengers Earths Mightiest Heroes, has been well received by most everyone and does stay true to the comics, while doing a similar attempt at an Adaptation Distillation, much like the above-mentioned Spectacular Spider-Man.
- The X-Men has had several cartoon incarnations as well.
- And so has The Fantastic Four.
- Justice League and Superfriends are based on the Justice League of America comic.
- Filmation's adaptations of Archie Comics were very popular, starting with The Archie Show in 1968.
- Tintin has had two Animated Adaptations.
- The first one, originally broadcast in French and produced in the 1960s, keeping almost none of the plots from the comics and completely removing all references to alcohol or drugs.
- The second, English-language series (although a French co-production) from the 1990s was a far better Adaptation Distillation, keeping all references to alcohol and drugs and adapting practically every book very faithfully. Although even here some changes were made ("Tintin In America" had so much stuff removed that it was one of the few stories to be a one-parter rather than two) and the English language version still leaves the street signs and other on-screen writing in French (most glaringly in "The Secret of the Unicorn" when Thompson and Thomson's "real" names—Dupont and Dupondt—are seen on passports!).
- DuckTales, adapted from Disney comics about Uncle Scrooge (notably ones by Carl Barks). Could be considered a Recursive Adaptation, since the Disney comics were originally based on Classic Disney Shorts.
- Believe or not, WITCH is adapted from its first two comic book storylines. However, many people, especially from America, didn't realize this. Although the comic book had far more staying power than the animated series. Unless you're American, chances are you've noticed the comic book.
- The Smurfs. Of course, Adaptation Displacement means that few in North America are aware of the original Franco Belgian Comics by Peyo. In addition to the Hanna-Barbera series, there were several animated Belgian shorts produced in the 1960s, and a Belgian feature film in 1976 (La Flûte à six schtroumpfs, later dubbed to English and released in the United States in 1983 as The Smurfs and the Magic Flute).
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made a household name out of what was once a bloody black-and-white self-published comic.
- Richie Rich had two animated series. Hanna-Barbera's character designs were a significant departure from the Harvey comics, but the 1990s series reverted to the comics style.
- Fish Police was adapted into a short-lived cartoon which lasted only six episodes on CBS. It changed very many of the aspects.
Adapted from Comic Strips
- The Drinky Crow Show, based on Tony Millionare's comic strip Maakies. Mad TV also did a series of animated shorts based on Maakies
- The comic strip Baby Blues had a short-lived adaptation based on the strip's early days (No Hammie, no Wren, Zoe's an infant).
- For Better or For Worse had seven animated specials and a two-season animated series on Teletoon.
- Garfield and Friends, adapted from two comic strips — Garfield and US Acres—both created by Jim Davis.
- The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show featured shorts in the vein of the Peanuts comics, as opposed to the longer stories of the many movies and TV specials.
- Marvin had an animated special. Which was extra alarming, because the eponymous baby is just as hateful as he is in the comics, but it goes on for a whole hour.
- Defenders of the Earth, combined the exploits of Flash Gordon, The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician, along with their children.
- The Boondocks started life in the newspapers. Aaron McGruder abandoned it to work on the show.
Adapted from Films — Animation
- Disney were big fans of this during The Nineties and early 2000s:
- Aladdin: The Animated Series
- The Little Mermaid: Animated Series
- Timon and Pumbaa, which compared to the rest of them had little to do with The Lion King besides shared characters.
- Hercules: The Animated Series
- Buzz Lightyear of Star Command—in-universe the series that the toy from Toy Story was based on.
- Tarzan: The Animated Series
- One Hundred and One Dalmatians: The Animated Series
- The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh—technically this one was late eighties.
- The Jungle Cubs and Tale Spin.
- Lilo and Stitch: The Series and Stitch!
- You get the idea. Important to note is that very rarely (Really only with the late nineties/early 2000s series) were they as well animated as the films they were based on. This is understandable however, as doing a series week-in week-out with a lower budget means a lot less attention to detail than a film can be given.
Adapted from Films — Live-Action
- The film/book Little Shop of Horrors got the show based off of it, just without the violence. Here, Seymour and Audrey are aged down to 13 year olds, and rather from outer space, the plant came from a fossilized prehistoric seed.
- Ghostbusters as The Real Ghostbusters (and, eventually, Extreme Ghostbusters).
- Star Wars
- Star Wars: Clone Wars, quite possibly the highest-quality Animated Adaptation ever done. In fact, complaints about the prequels themselves not measuring up to Clone Wars were frequent.
- Star Wars the Clone Wars continues the pattern, with mostly positive reviews. In fact, this one may even be higher quality!
- In the 1980s, there were also an Ewoks cartoon and a Droids cartoon starring C-3PO and R2-D2 (two shows in one). These didn't stand out from the crowd quite so much, though.
- The Heavy Metal style short in The Star Wars Holiday Special, best known as the first appearence of Boba Fett.
- My Pet Monster had a movie, and was then followed up by an animated series.
- 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: Done twice: first in the late 1970s by Hanna-Barbera, based on the showa Godzilla films, and then in the late 1990s, Godzilla the Animated Series, based on the American movie. Worth noting that as much bile as the American Godzilla movie gets heaped on it, even most haters will admit the cartoon spinoff was pretty good.
- Men in Black managed to remain fairly faithful to the spirit of the films and loaded with Mytholgoy Gags, though added a talking dog sidekick, Frank the Pug (an alien in disguise), and L had 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 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.
- 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 wolfy grandparents and a little sister who was permanently in half-werewolf status.
- There was an Animated Adaptation of the movie Evolution, 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.
- The movie Van Helsing also has a 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 Hollywood Nerd 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. Of course, 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.
- Highlander (more details farther down the page)
- RoboCop (twice!) (second time after PG-13 second sequel)
- Rambo the Force of Freedom
- Police Academy (although the cartoon came along when the films themselves had descended into PG territory)
- Conan the Adventurer (came out long after PG Conan the Destroyer)
- The Toxic Avenger (the Animated Adaptation was called Toxic Crusaders)
- Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles. Actually quite successful, it took elements introduced by the film but the series was closer to the book.
- Mortal Kombat, which naturally removed all of the violence the series was marketed for.
- Though there wasn't a Terminator cartoon (not that they didn't try), there was a range of children's toys based on the film, which at the time was still rated 18. There is a now CGI animated adaptation, called Terminator Salvation: The Machinima Series.
- 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 six episodes).
- Bill and Teds Excellent Adventures continued the basic premise of 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.
... But 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 Gladys from Rowan and Martins 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 Too Good to Last (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 Expy of 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 70s). Though it did feature Keye Luke from the Oland films as the voice of Mr. Chan.
- An animated adaptation of Napoleon Dynamite is in release.
- 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.
Adapted from Literature
- Any anime series originally based on Light Novels, like Haruhi Suzumiya or Slayers.
- Basically the whole World Masterpiece Theater project including many classics from Western literature from children books to Les Misérables.
- Peter Pan and The Pirates, which was not based on the Disney movie of Peter Pan, instead being a separate adaptation of the original novel. Actually, it may be the closest an adaptation of Peter Pan has ever got to the novel. Featuring Tim Curry as the voice of Captain Hook.
- There's an anime version of Deltora Quest's first series, which mostly follow the story with several changes and featured Delta Goodrem's "In This Life" as its third opening theme.
- Redwall: The Animated Series, produced by Nelvana. Has been subject to quite some Bowdlerization and Filler.
- Even literature is not immune to the Recycled in Space syndrome: A Mad Scientist clones Professor Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes in The Twenty Second Century. Fortunately, the good guys are able to reanimate Sherlock's well-preserved corpse to fight him over a series of adventures based on the canonical stories. The idea was first proposed by Filmation, who made a Poorly-Disguised Pilot as a two-part episode of Bravestarr.
- The Adventures of Don Coyote and Sancho Panda was... actually fairly true to the original Don Quixote novels. It still goes under "flat-out crazy" for turning the main characters into Funny Animals (and leaving the rest of the cast human), however.
- This was also done to The Three Musketeers in Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds, and to Around the World in Eighty Days in Around the World with Willy Fog. Apart from the punny names, some slight Bowdlerization and the characters being animals, they were straight retellings of the plots from the books.
- Around the World in Eighty Days received an Australian-produced adaptation in 1972 from the people who did (some of) Family Classics Theatre, Air Programs International. In this series Phineas Fogg was going around the world not to settle a bet (although £50,000 was at stake) but, as the theme song said, "so Fogg could marry Belinda Maze"—with Fix the henchman of Lord Maze trying to stop him and Passepartout from getting back. He didn't.
- In the year 2000, PBS aired the appropriately titled Anne of Green Gables: the Animated Series. The show featured several regular characters borrowed from the live-action Road to Avonlea series (although both shows were made by Sullivan Entertainment, so they were basically using characters they created) and was pretty faithful to the original books, except that nearly every episode had a fantasy sequence with Anne (oh, and she had a wood nymph friend named Dryad).
- It's predated a tad by the Anne of Green Gables series by Nippon Animation from 1979.
- The Adventures of Maya the Honeybee after the book Maya the Bee.
- Vicky the Viking after the children's book Vicke Viking by Runer Jonsson
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince has been the subject of many adaptations, including an Anime in 1978 ("Hoshi no Ōjisama: Puchi Puransu") or an American cartoon by Susan Shadburne in 1979. The latest is a 2010 French CGI series by Method Animation; quite respectful of the original drawings of the author and the spirit of the book, though extending the adventures over 26 episodes. The Fox becomes the Talking Animal sidekick of the Little Prince, and it has the Serpent as a Big Bad.
- James Thurber's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty got transposed into the feline world, to become Filmation's The Secret Lives of Waldo Kitty. The framing story involved live action cats, with Waldo getting in a tough scrape and imagining himself to be one of several animated hero cats, each of which was itself an animated adaptation/parody of some other show (e.g., "Captain Herk" of a distinctly Enterprise-like starship). The animation took up the bulk of each episode.
- Unfortunately, Filmation thought they could do this series without involving Thurber's estate - they soon discovered they were wrong, which is why when the show went into syndication the live action scenes were removed and the title was changed (to The New Adventures of Waldo Kitty).
- While Lupin III is very (very, VERY) loosely based on Maurice Le Blanc's 'Arséne Lupin' character, there have been two animes based directly on the novels - and one of them is a cross over with Sherlock Holmes.
- For the more adventurous viewer, Franz Kafka's A Country Doctor was adaptated into an animated short movie.
- Clifford the Big Red Dog
Adapted from Live-Action TV
- 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 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 has had a few ventures into animation courtesy of the BBCi Web site, among other places.
- The canonicity of the material is debatable; there is a long-running battle among fans with some of the most torturous Ass Pull you will ever see attempting to justify "Scream of the Shalka" as canon. Most fans agree, though, that there's nothing in Series 3/29 that would stop "The Infinite Quest" from being part of official canon; the fact that it was broadcast (on the BBC's official kids' tie-in show) rather than put up on a website, plus its having David Tennant and Freema Ageyman voice their characters, strengthens its case for canonicity. The character designs and character styles from "The Infinite Quest" were used in the officially licensed Doctor Who Top Trumps computer game.
- An attempt was also made in the 1980s to get an animated spin-off of Doctor Who off the ground, but they never got past concept art stages. But the interest was still there.
- Also, 2009 saw the CG-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.
- 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. Really.
- 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.
- Gilligans 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.
- The Little Rascals: not a stand-alone animated show, but part of a 90-minute Animated Anthology with Pac-Man and Richie Rich.
- 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, an unofficial 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.
- 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 a balding butcher 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.
- 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, 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.
TAS, as it's known in Trek fandom, is one of the few cases of Reverse Canon Dis Continuity on record that does not involve an Expanded Universe. Paramount says 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 startrek.com, Paramount 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!)
- A CGI animated series was made out of, of all things, the 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 and 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 and 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 Three Stooges
- The Partridge Family: Shaken, not stirred, with a jigger 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, from the end of the rainbow.
- Emergency + 4: The paramedics of Emergency 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.
- For reasons nobody can defend, 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 like not those who saw it want 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 USA The Adventure Begins) was a pilot by Hanna Barbera animated in an Animesque style, The other, The Ultraman, was a very successful anime by Sunrise.
- In the early heyday of Mash, 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 McHales Navy cartoon for ABC never got past the pitch stage.
- Filmation adaptated their 1975 live-action series The Ghost Busters as Ghostbusters in 1986.
- Top Cat is the animated version of The Phil Silvers Show.
Adapted from Manga
- Of course, too many anime series to count.
- As of now, the Astro Boy 2009 CGI film is the only Western CGI adaptation of a Manga series. And despite being voiced by Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell, Donald Sutherland, Bill Nighy, Nathan Lane and that kid who played Charlie and visited the chocolate factory, it was not received well, mainly because instead of having the main chracter be killed in a car accident, they have him destroyed by a giant robot.
Adapted from Music
- MC Hammer got his own TV show, as seen here. It involves MC Hammer getting a magical pair of shoes and fighting crime.
- Remember the New Kids on the Block cartoon? No? Well, let's refresh those memories!
- The Beatles got a cartoon series of their own on ABC in 1965. Despite the cheese-paring animation and The Beatles themselves not being involved, the show got higher ratings than ABC's regular Monday-through-Friday daytime shows.
- Sometime later, the Jackson Five and the Osmonds got cartoon shows as well.
- Marc Bolan once claimed that T. Rex were also being considered for an animated show along the same lines as the above, but it never got made.
- The Aquabats recently had the Aquabats Super Show! signed to The Hub, which contains a mixture of animation and live action.
Adapted from Puppet Shows
- Jim Henson's Muppet Babies.
- Another Jim Henson example: Fraggle Rock. It started the same year the original puppet version ended.
Adapted from Sports
- Pro Stars, featuring Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Bo "Knows" Jackson as crime-fighting Gadgeteer Heroes.
- The Super Globetrotters: Five semi-real-life basketball sports entertainers gain super powers. Ludicrous super powers. Provided with info support by a basketball sputnik. Defeat villains, mostly by challenging them to basketball games. See the Emmy-nominated Futurama ep "Time Keeps on Slippin" for a parody. In essence, The Super Globetrotters was part the 1970s Harlem Globetrotters show and part ripoff of H-B's 1966 superhero show The Impossibles.
- You might think that the animated series The Mighty Ducks 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 Anaheim Ducks ice hockey team and then making an animated series tenuously related to the team. In that order.
Adapted from Toys
- 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. Those were invented by the show's creators and then put into a new toy line.
- The entire purpose of 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 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.
- The Masters of the Universe cartoon series included new aspects to the mythos 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).
- Hero Factory is struggling to keep one up, perhaps in part because it barely has a story to speak of (very much unlike its forerunner). The first season, Rise of the Rookies, was a 4-episode Miniseries, while the second, Ordeal of Fire, had to be compressed into a single episode (though the pacing greatly benefited from this). 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.
- Speaking of LEGO, Ninjago has a show of its own too.
Adapted from Video Games
- Any example mentioned in The Anime of the Game.
- Sonic the Hedgehog has had four completely different animated TV series, plus an OVA.
- While the others were in their own continuities, Sonic X specifically adapted the stories of the Sonic Adventure series.
- Street Fighter has had several animated adaptations. The American cartoon is generally considered the worst of the bunch.
- Mega Man had a cartoon in the early 90's. The character designs were modified from the original art and had some generic plots. There was also a 3-part OVA, in a separate continuity, that did use the original artwork. It was mainly used to provide basic information about Japanese culture.
- Dead Space has an animated prequel called Downfall, showing the fall of Ishimura (the game's main setting) before the game hero arrives on the scene.
- Super Mario Bros had three different adaptations, with a loose continuity among them (the second is named after Super Mario Bros 3 and the third after Super Mario World).
- Along with the Super Mario Bros Super Show aired The Legend of Zelda, based in the Hyrule of the first two games in the Zelda series. It became notorious (and the Trope Namer) for Link's obnoxious Catch Phrase, "Well, Excuse Me, Princess!!" Much like the second game, it tends to be a Base Breaker—people who experienced it back when it was new tend to enjoy it more than people who became fans because of the later games.
- The Pac-Man TV series was the first adapted from a video game. It combined elements of The Flintstones and The Smurfs while retaining some semblance to the video game.
- A new 3D CGI series is in the works.
- Destroy All Humans! was going to get a CGI animated series on FOX, produced by the producers of the King of the Hill series. Nothing has been said since October 2005, but most fans believe it was canned to make way for the game sequels.
- Donkey Kong
- Speaking of Saturday Supercade, the second season also incorporated Kangaroo and Space Ace. Sadly at the cost of Frogger and Pitfall Harry; Q* Bert was promoted from every-other-weekly to weekly though.
- Dragon's Lair also got a one-season run on ABC as well. Here, Dirk the Daring was played by veteran voice actor Bob Sarlatte (who was also Frogger on Saturday Supercade).
- Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm
- Battletoads, being originally conceived as a multimedia property to rival the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, was set to have a cartoon based on itself, but apparently only its pilot episode ever aired (and it's not hard to see why).
- Ditto for Bubsy.
- Darkstalkers was mangled into something unrecognizable when adapted for American Saturday morning TV. The 13-episode series was about Pyron awakening and hiring Demitri, Morrigan, and several other characters to help him take over the world, while Felicia—now an ancient woman in a cat costume—seeks the help of/lives with a 13-year-old geek/wizard in training named Harry Grimoire. The characters in the series looked and acted much less like their in-game counterparts, and all fights between the monsters involved shooting lasers from their hands. The female characters also had much less revealing costumes. This YouTube video sums it up pretty well.
- Rayman: The Animated Series, which was fully animated in CGI. It had no characters from the series save for the title character and a cameo from the second game's Big Bad.
- Wakfu is technically an Animated Adaptation of the MMOSRPG Dofus, though they can also be considered as simple parts of a wide franchise heavy on the cross-media.
- The American Double Dragon cartoon was very loosely based on the original games (the Lee brothers were twins who were separated at birth, wore masks, and wielded beam-shooting swords despite being hand-to-hand martial artists in the games), although it did had a tie-in fighting game in the form of Double Dragon V: The Shadow Fall.
- And let's not forget (however much we might wish to) Captain N the Game Master, which was ostensibly adapted from several video games. At least, that was the intention...
- By its sheer popularity it would seem natural that Touhou would have this, but ZUN refusing to give his support to any official adaptation has killed most expectations of one. The closest it got were fananimes of high quality which includes Touhou Musou Kakyou, a three part anime by Maikaze with the 2nd episode to be release sometime in 2011, the incredible Fantasy Kaleidoscope and the upcoming Kinema Kan.
- A brief "animated tribute" to the webcomic Sluggy Freelance was fan-produced and put on YouTube.
- The newer series of 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. Whether this was to be a separate project or if bringing in Monty Oum is the realization of a modified form of it is unclear, as nothing much has been said about it since.
- Was attempted with VG Cats, but never got beyond one episode.
- 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.
- Saturday Night Live
- 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.
- Homestar Runner
- It's made fun of this phenomenon in the Strong Bad E-mail best thing. Strong Bad claimed that the best thing he'd ever seen, done, or eaten was his copy of the aired-only-once pilot for a cartoon about his favorite hair-metal band, Limozeen, called "Limozeen: But They're in Space!"
- Parodied again in the Strong Bad Email "webcomic", in which he shows off what would happen if Secret Collect (a maze game with blocky Atari graphics) and Thy Dungeonman (a text-based adventure game) got animated adaptations in the vein of Pac-Man and Captain N. The end result is not pretty, and by that I mean hilarious.
- "When trouble's about, you'd best watch out for the WATCHMEN!" This parody appeared in 2009, and highlights what may have been a (damn good) reason why Watchmen wasn't made into a movie way back in the 80s... It's hilarious, but the moment one realizes that, back then, this would not have been out of the question for producers in The Eighties is pure horror for many comic book nerds. Of note are the winking smiley faces, Manhattan's... furry diaper thing, and the fact that everything mentioned in the cast roll call is flat-out wrong.
- TV Go Home has Krueger Jr., a fictional Animated Adaptation of A Nightmare on Elm Street.
- Topless Robot brings us Ill-Advised Cartoon Spinoffs.
- Parodied in The Simpsons episode "Husbands and Knives" as Milhouse talks to voice guest Alan Moore about "Watchmen Babies".
- or perhaps a pony