The Odd Trend of R-Rated Material Turned Into Kids Shows

This is something that has always been a weird thing to think back upon…

But back in the 80s and 90s for the most part (and somewhat today with certain Netflix properties), there was this odd trend of taking R-Rated material and turning it into a children’s cartoon (note the Children’s part, so something like the animated Clerks doesn’t count here).

Examples off the top of my head:
-Robocop (twice)
-Toxic Avenger into Toxic Crusader
-Conan the Adventurer
-Highlander (this one was REALLY off IMO)
-Tales From The Crypt (as Tales from the Cryptkeeper
-Chuck Norris’ Karate Commandos (he had yet to transition to more family friendly fare at that time IIRC)
-And while never making it to series, there was an attempt to make an Aliens cartoon (they even had toys on the shelf back then)

What were your opinions on these shows when they were around? Also, any other R-Rated media you think they could have transformed? Terminator had toys back around the same time Aliens did, so that could have been one. Tone down the murder and base it on Dream Warriors and MAYBE you could make a Nightmare on Elm Street series. What say the rest of you?


Let’s never forget the GWAR children’s cartoon:

(Also, let’s never remember it as well.)


Apparently, Insane Clown Posse had a development deal with Disney.

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ICP can be adjusted slightly though. They were regulars in the pro-wrestling scene for the late 90s/early 2000s at the very least (maybe longer, not sure how long their own promotion lasted). Similar to how Robin Williams could go from something like “Good Morning, Vietnam” to “Aladdin”.


Mortal Kombat had a cartoon called Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm.
… it looked horrible, and unfaithful.


True, forgot to mention that.

BUUUUT…it’s historical.

This guy debuted there, even before that Sub-Zero sidescroller.

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The 80s really was the beginning of the end of the monoculture. Where there was little way for a kid to avoid references to things they couldn’t see because there’d be a tv ad for it or their older sibling loved it and they wanted to be a part of it. Plus all of these things also had concepts that aped other very profitable toy lines. Like Highlander and Rambo and Conan were all close to the concept of He-Man which made Mattel a ton of money. RoboCop was on some level a junction between Transformers and the TMNT. Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos? Karate Kid.


In fairness, the Cryptkeeper was originally from the comic books, and in the '70s when they did Tales from the Crypt (a rare good horror anthology movie) they removed the Cryptkeeper to make it more palatable to adults, presumably. Then HBO brought CK back for their series.

(Of course, it’s even murkier when you realize Gaines was going for his old audience that had outgrown superhero comics, and murkier still when you realize the comic series was shut down for being inappropriate for children!)

Anyway, I don’t think it’s any more inappropriate than Goosebumps, necessarily.

Freddie was always in danger of becoming camp, he’d have fit right in.

Hell, team up Freddie, Jason and Michael M and you got yourselves a Monster Squad, fighting…I dunno shady real estate deals alongside of Scooby Doo?


Considering two of those characters don’t talk, it sounds like it’d be like a horror character iteration of Larry, Darryl and Darryl from “Newhart”.


I always found it amusing that something hyperviolent like RoboCop would get a cartoon and a toyline. But then again I grew up with this stuff and the characters were so well known that they were just ripe for exploitation.

Different times…

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Hell, I saw plenty of those R-rated movies in the theater as a kid. No one stopped us from seeing the R-rated movies and PG-13 didn’t exist for half my childhood.

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My parents were pretty strict when it came to movie ratings. I didn’t see an R-rated film until I was in my teens…


But not either of these?

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I remember a number of those - I did watch the Robocop, Police Academy, Conan and Toxic Crusader cartoons.

What were they thinking?


It wasn’t exactly R-rated turned to children’s material, but there was also the Mr. T cartoon where Mr. T did absolutely no fighting and traveled around the country with a group of teenage gymnasts to solve crimes.

I’d really love to have been in that pitch meeting.

It was the 80s, so I imagine you would have seen a lot of white powder on the conference table.


Huh, never knew about that second one.

But I don’t think either of them were made with a child audience in mind (or at least not to the level an animated series of the time would have been).

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Which Robocop?


[Two notes on the second one: 1)Only 8 more years for that to become a reality and 2)I still think this was supposed to be a serious take on Inspector Gadget, but they couldn’t get the rights so they shifted to Robocop.]

I’m really glad I missed these at the time.

Maybe they were thinking that since comic book and superhero cartoons on TV were also violent-yet-sanitized for kids (for example, Ninja Turtles, 1987), they could do the same with other violent heroes? Or perhaps the growth of syndicated TV around that time created a demand for shows, and the eye-catching film titles or characters would make for easier sales and higher ratings?Those are my guesses.

Adult Swim did a Mike Tyson animated mystery in 2014. But of course, Adult Swim, so definitely not meant for kids.


Turns out Jason is the responsible one: No sex, no drugs, no alcohol…