10 R-Rated or Adult-Skewing Movies That Were Turned into Children’s Cartoons

The 1980s and ’90s were a glorious time where any subject matter could be a cartoon show or toy line if the executives were cynical enough, and the parents otherwise oblivious.

R Rated Movies Turned into Cartoons including Conan and RoboCop
Photo: Universal / Tri-Star / MGM

The late 20th century was a wild time to be a kid immersed in the world of pop culture. It was the period that produced Jessica Rabbit, a cartoon character you felt embarrassed to watch with your parents, and a time when stores regularly stocked movie tie-in toys linked to “kid-friendly” fare like Aliens and Terminator 2.

It seemed like nothing was off the table and that was certainly the case in the world of cartoons. Eager to cash in on the appeal of cinematic properties in a way that would give even the MCU pause for thought, a glut of animated shows inspired by movies featuring torture, nudity, beheadings, and buckets of toxic waste found their way onto the small screen. In most cases, the cartoons spawned rarely stuck around for long, but today they stand as examples of a weird and wonderful chapter in the history of small screen entertainment. Here are 10 of the strangest.

Rambo: The Force of Freedom

Originally airing in 1986, Rambo: The Force of Freedom completed John Rambo’s transformation from First Blood’s troubled Vietnam veteran to the greased up muscle-bound killing machine in the lamentably gung-ho Rambo: First Blood Part II. Toy company Coleco shelled out an eye-watering $15 million to produce the initial 65-episode run for syndication, alongside a line of toys. Any trace of Rambo’s PTSD  or history in the Vietnam War was erased in favor of a show that was a clear G.I. Joe rip-off, right down to every episode ending with a moral message.

Each week Rambo led a special unit called The Force of Freedom in a battle against the paramilitary terrorist organization S.A.V.A.G.E. (Specialist-Administrators of Vengeance, Anarchy and Global Extortion) and the show’s main villain, General Warhawk. With episodes focusing on conflicts in fictional countries like Tierra Libre, and Bagdinia, the show was painfully on the nose and, unfortunately, failed to find an audience.


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