10 wacky sci-fi-themed public service health announcements

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Evan Hoovler
Dec 14, 2012

If you're having trouble sticking to healthy habits, maybe a little advice from some of sci-fi's greatest characters will give you all the encouragement you need. From Spider-Man reminding you to eat fresh fruit instead of candy to R2-D2 and C-3PO warning of the dangers of cigarettes, these sci-fi-themed public service announcements will give you all the help you need to do the right—and nutritious—thing.

Public service announcements have been interrupting important television commercials for decades. However, there was a weird time (the '80s) when everyone decided that the best source for life lessons for children was not a teacher or a parent, but a cartoon superhero. So every kids' show and film during the '80s would make a bunch of public service announcements and air them, usually during a cartoon episode. Frequently, the messages of these PSAs were quite diverse: don't do drugs ... don't smoke pot ... don't smoke crack, etc. But sometimes they were about good health.

As part of Healthy at NBCU, we've found our favorite PSAs that encouraged us to get in shape. The messages are as appropriate today as they were back then, so here are 10 sci-fi public service announcements that will convince you to stay fit.

Star Wars Anti-Smoking PSA

Did you know that, before coming on board the Tantive IV, R2-D2 spent time as a total badass? In this spot, the droid is enjoying a smooth, relaxing puff while working on a spaceship. Everyone's favorite negative Nancy, C-3PO, comes over and admonishes R2-D2 for being a bad role model for children. R2-D2 beepingly responds that he doesn't have any lungs. Fair enough, but C-3PO doesn't care because C-3PO doesn't have a heart. It's a veritable yellow brick road, that Tantive IV. Except with smoking.

Superman vs. Nick-o-tine

The makers of animated superman commercials borrowed a page from Doonesbury and personified smoking. Luckily, Superman gets the live news via a newsboy (yes, that happened), and flies to the scene. Then he uses his super, tar-free lungs to blow the evil cigarette pusher into a chimney that looks like a cigarette (which is rad, and we're totally stealing that idea for our home).

He-Man: Don't hit things with your head

He-Man loved PSAs more than he loved showing needlessly sexual amounts of flesh. For the most part, they make enough sense, but the lesson at 2:50 seems a bit confusing.

It pretty much amounts to, "Hey, kids: Don't hit things with your head." Apparently, between Ram Man (yeah, that's his name) and Super Mario Bros, emergency rooms the mid-'80s must've been filled with kids who hit their heads against things. Also, what sort of affliction made Ram Man's legs work like springs? Seriously, this guy's got messed-up problems and shouldn't have been allowed into He-Man's army. Isn't there a physical?

Superman vs. Asthma

Asthma frequently keeps children from joining sports and gangs. Here, an animated Superman flies into a live-action baseball game, and manages to make the whole thing not look goofy. Comforting a child on the sidelines, Superman explains that Asthma doesn't have to slow anyone down. He then invites people to contact the American Lung Association for a boatload of information.

How anyone is supposed to read all this stuff without becoming short of breath is beyond us.

Batman and Robin go to a fruit stand

It's as exciting as the title promises. This is what kids' shows in the 1980s were like: every half hour you got interrupted by a boring "Wonder Woman enjoys looking both ways before crossing" vignette. One good thing about this clip is that the voice of Robin is Casey Kasem's. So, if you close your eyes, it really sounds like Batman is having an afternoon out with Shaggy from Scooby Doo (which explains why they're getting food).

Samurai likes fresh fruit

Samurai takes a break from teaching kids how to fight to remind us that, yes, he was a member of the Super Friends. Whatever you say, dude. Samurai shows his student the optimal way to strike at hunger is with healthy fruits. This was, of course, before Samurai sold out and started shilling Jolt cola.

Superman and cholesterol

This one hurts our brains. First of all, with all the PSAs Superman does, it's amazing he has time to go to his job.

The PSA starts with an over-the-shoulder shot of Clark Kent. Because of the angle, the person playing Clark Kent could be anyone (except Christopher Reeve). We like to pretend he is Chevy Chase, simply because this comforts us. Enter Lois Lane, who we like to pretend is Margot Kidder simply because she probably is. She announces that Clark's news story made the front page.

Taking the paper from Lois, Clark reads his own headline aloud. Know your cholesterol is apparently the theme of the article and this PSA. It's hard to discern this without getting distracted by Lois' shirt changing colors from white to pink and back. Although we shouldn't pick on the makers, the Rhode Island Department of Health, even if they do try to sneak cholesterol into the mythos of "things that can harm Superman."

He-Man promotes healthy exercise

Skip ahead to 5:40 for a very important health PSA from He-Man and that female He-Man character that no one liked. (Was her name, "Teela"?) They mention exercise is important, and discuss ways to build a regimen. Important stuff to learn, and a quality PSA ... until the point where they shatter the fourth wall by pointing out the cameraperson.

Which is weird, because cartoons don't even have a cameraperson, so we guess maybe Teela and He-Man are looking at us. Which explains that burning sensation in our souls.

Star Wars immunization

C-3PO asks the "parents of Earth" if their children are immunized and then explains the dangers of children being exposed to illnesses at a young age, mentioning how the disease can easily worsen. R2-D2 claims he is coming down with a case of Whooping Cough. This explains why R2-D2 was not the rebel force's main diagnostic tool. ("The Death Star's only weakness is... Measles.")

Spider-Man loves bananas

A little-known part of the Spider-Man universe is his unquenchable lust for bananas. After all, banana crates are the main form of international transportation for spiders.

Unlike most of these PSAs, the Spider-Man banana spot opens with a bit of action. A dinosaur is loose in the city. Spider-Man captures the dino, to which the mayor offers him a cash reward of what seems to be $400,000,000. How did this town get almost half a billion dollars to throw around? Obviously, from genetically engineering dinosaurs, duh.

Children who grew up watching these public service announcements got an extra dose of life lesson injected into their day. Was this effective? We don't know, but we do know the modern kids could stand to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, and shoot fewer cigarettes into their veins (or whatever it is kids do these days).