The financial success of the Transformers films has proven that rebooting retro cartoons can be big, big business. Many people welcome an occasional dose of nostalgia such as this, even if it does come with farting robots and a non-naked Megan Fox, as it gives the public something that they are easily familiar with and thus can easily invest in. Sure, such sentiments may not be great for stimulating creativity, but I challenge anyone not to smile when they hear their favorite cartoon theme song playing.

Keeping this in mind, what are some retro cartoons that are about due for a comeback? Here are three that I think deserve the reboot treatment…and three that we could live without.

3 Cartoons That Need a Reboot

1. Defenders of the Earth

Defenders of the Earth cartoon

Defenders of the Earth was a cartoon featuring characters from three comics distributed by King Features Syndicate: Flash Gordon, The Phantom, and Mandrake the Magician. Their weekly shenanigans normally revolved around fighting Ming the Merciless in the far off future (i.e. 2015), who had exhausted all the natural resources of his home planet of Mongo and wanted to exploit the Earth instead. Supporting characters included Mandrake’s assistant/token black guy Lothar and a bunch of the main character’s kids, the latter of whom existed mostly so Ming had someone to kidnap in between acting as a cock-block for his attractive daughter.

Mandrake with Princess
"Can’t touch this! Dadadada…"

In a post-Avengers world, Hollywood executives must be crawling over each other to jump aboard the Superhero-Team gravy-train. X-Men: Days of Future Past will combine more mutants than ever before, Dark Universe (Swamp Thing, John Constantine, The Spectre) is being prepped, and even the front-butts at Warner Bros have finally started to warm towards a Justice League film. Whilst Defenders can’t match those series in the form of big-name superheroes, it more than makes up for it by the amount of opportunities it creates for pulpy, old-school adventure, as well as giving the viewer plenty of chances to see the Phantom command his pet wolf to bight Ming’s henchmen on the nads.

In addition to this, some form of reboot of Defenders would allow the public to be introduced or re-introduced to some characters that have been dormant for too long. Flash Gordon last had a film in 1980, and hasn’t really been seen since Defenders was canned. The Phantom has been around since the 1930’s but has been largely confined to the sidelines since Billy "at least I made it off the fucking Titanic, bitch!" Zane played him in the 1996 film. Mandrake…well, he’s a magician, and the world could always use more guys willing to saw people in half or give away free-drink vouchers in a Vegas ballroom.

And if all that’s not enough, the cartoon had a theme song penned by Stan Lee that would makes Tenacious D look subtle and low-key in comparison:

2. Dino-Riders

Dino-Riders cartoon

Dino-Riders focused on the battle between the Valorians and Rulons, after both alien races were sucked back in time to crash-land on prehistoric Earth. Once there, they decided that the best way to kick each other’s asses was to take every laser beam that they owned and strap them onto the nearest dinosaur.

Sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint why a show works. Dino-Riders is not one of those occasions. By mixing futuristic weaponry with gigantic angry lizards, the developers of Dino-Riders took two items from the "favorite things" list of every human being with a penis, and used them to create a show that could only appeal to young boys more if the opening episode was dedicated to their school principle being assassinated by a pack of light-saber-wielding velociraptors.

Another reason why a Dino-Riders reboot would be great are the merchandising opportunities. The dinosaur toys from the original show were so well done that the Smithsonian Institution contacted the manufacturers Tyco to reproduce them for their "Dinosaur and other Prehistoric Reptile Collection" (the lasers were sadly overlooked, though). If a show back in the 80’s could spawn such quality products than a new film or TV series created today would surely give us something worthy of putting a dent in our weekly pay-packet.

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3. Gargoyles

Gargoyles cartoon

Gargoyles was a carton made by Disney Television Animation and Buena Vista Television, in the days when the Disney channel wasn’t solely devoted to Billy Ray Cyrus’ daughter and other tweens that you want to see spat out the bottom of the porn industry in half a decade’s time. The series focused on the six medieval title-creatures being awoken from their millennium-long curse in 1994 New York City. In attempting to adjust to their new home they are aided by a policewoman Elisa, who also helped them face the many threats that arose to both their own safety and to the world as a whole.

During its three-season run, Gargoyles was praised for its dark tone, interesting stories, character arcs, and the Shakespearean themes that it often employed (e.g. in the episode "Enter MacBeth"). These traits put the show in another league to pieces of technicolor puke such as the Gummi Bears, impressing both kids and adults alike, which makes Gargoyles a prime candidate for getting a reboot. If handled respectfully, a new take on the franchise could appeal to a wide audience of fantasy lovers, and help fill the hole that will be left when Bilbo and company find their treasure/return home/die a terrible terrible death somewhere (moral of the story: midgets should not fuck with dragons).

It is also worth noting that the cartoon had a stellar voice cast, including Star Trek actors Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi) and Jonathan Frakes (William Riker). Get some of these crew members back on board and make the reboot so!


3 Cartoons That DON’T Need a Reboot

1. Captain Planet and the Planeteers

Captain Planet and the Planeteers cartoon

Captain Planet and the Planeteers was a show created by Ted Turner, presumably after forgetting that he is a billionaire and could be snorting cherry sherbet off Scandinavian bikini models or building his own Death Star rather than doing stupid shit like this. The story involves the (surprisingly saucy) spirit of the earth giving magic rings to five young ethnic stereotypes. When their powers combined (normally with five minutes left in the episode) they could summon Captain Planet, everyone’s favorite green-haired Smurf in a mankini.

Essentially, the show plays out like a superhero team-up show (Avengers, Defenders of the Earth) if all the heroes were nerdy teens that were more interested in picking up litter than firing lasers. Such antics may have educational value, but as we all know, education has absolutely no place in the field of children’s entertainment. Why would a kid want to spend over six hours at school and then sit down in front of the TV at home and learn MORE? It would be like a stripper cleaning her gutters in the nude for a good time. If this is still a point of confusion, just go back to watching Dino-Riders.

Even worse, the show was filled with villains so lame that they wouldn’t even get a run in a Joel Schumacher Batman film. Hoggish Greedly? Verminous Skumm? Really, Ted? Not even the fact that big names such as Frank Welker and Jeff Goldblum voiced some of these characters could help elevate the cartoon above the levels of a Greenpeace recruitment video animated with whale poop and with Bryan Adams providing the soundtrack.

2. Gobots

Gobots cartoon

Gobots was about two armies of warring transforming robots—except that they weren’t the Transformers. In a way, it was the kindergarten equivalent of travelling the world to find the girl of your dreams and then discovering on your first date that she had a dick.

Lacking the quality characters and tie-in toys that their robotic brethren had, the Gobots cartoon didn’t last for long before being cancelled. This proved once and for all that America only has room for one show featuring gigantic transforming robots, and it wasn’t one that featured character names such as Cy-Kill (he’s an evil motorbike! Geddit? Geddit?) The Gobots creators attempted to revitalize interest in the brand by creating some robot toys that transformed into rocks, but for some reason children never warmed to the idea of paying for something that they could find for free in their front garden.

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On the upside for Gobots fans, though, the shows short run meant that it escaped from public consciousness quite quickly and quietly. This let it avoid any chance of getting a big screen treatment by Michael Bay and co, saving the world from a double-sized helping of robotic testicles and Shia LeBouf’s nostrils.

3. Captain N: The Game Master

Captain N Game Master cartoon

Captain N: The Game Master involved a boy getting sucked into his Nintendo Entertainment System. Whilst there, he joined up with Castlevania‘s Simon Belmont, Mega Man and a bunch of other characters to beat up the bad guys, the identity of which varied depending on what game Nintendo was trying to sell the most shamelessly that week.

While it is true that many cartoons from the 80’s/90’s were little more than glorified toy commercials, other shows like G. I. Joe or Masters of the Universe at least attempted to preserve a modicum of restraint. Captain N, on the other hand, was a marketing free-for-all, with every character and product that Nintendo could shill seemingly given its own episode. In the second season they even introduced the character of "Gameboy," who was, you guessed it, a giant fucking Gameboy.

Gameboy character on Captain N
Clearly an artistic decision.

All this crass product placement could have possibly been overlooked if the show had been any good, bad sadly, even kids who find back-to-front underpants entertaining would have struggled to get something out of this show. The characters were annoying, the animation was about on par with a NES game, and the Powerglove was treated by the storyline is if it was some sort of ancient mystical object. The bottom line: Nintendo characters are generally at their best in Nintendo games.

It is clear that time has been kinder to some retro cartoons than it has to others. It is also clear that some retro cartoons just sucked complete satchels of dick to begin with. There are some real gems shining amidst the roughage, though, and we really think that Hollywood could do a lot worse than trying to reboot these shows through a new film or TV series.

Battleship movie poster
Pictured: Hollywood doing worse.

So, I’ve had my turn. Which retro cartoons do you think are due for a reboot? Post your picks in the comments.

Here are some honorable mentions that came close to making the lists:

GOOD

Ulysses 31

  • Sci-fi version of Odysseus
  • Epic space battles and monsters
  • Interesting, mature story

Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light

  • A group of knights who receive magical animal totems based on their personality
  • Interesting mix of sci-fi and fantasy
  • Good production values
  • Wide array of characters
  • Animated by same people who did Transformers and G.I. Joe

Ducktales

  • Disney ducks go all Indiana Jones
  • Sense of adventure
  • Awesome video game
  • Theme song gets stuck in your head for days

BAD

Snorks

  • Underwater Smurfs with dicks on their heads
  • No good villains
  • Just shithouse

Ewoks

  • Was bad enough getting ewoks in the films
  • Don’t want to give the people making the new Star Wars films new ideas
  • Chewbacca is a wookie, not an ewok
  • Literally a zillion other Star Wars characters that should have got a cartoon before these guys

Inspector Gadget

  • Was already made into a terrible film
  • Gadget needs his niece to always bail him out
  • Gadget=crap version of Robocop

Pac-Man

  • Video game least suited to a show ever
  • Ms Pac is just Pac-Man with a bow
  • What the fuck was the plot?

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