triceratops

4 awesome action cartoons we almost got

Contributed by
Jul 10, 2018

You're never too old for cartoons. That said, sometimes it's hard to keep up with the animated shows you absolutely need to watch as you get older. Sometimes, you have to rely on brand names that have been popularized elsewhere, like movies or comics or the sides of light beer cans.

That said, sometimes being part of a major brand or series just isn't enough. You'd think Hollywood executives would jump all over the chance to get a piece of that franchise pie in whatever form it took, but in the case of these four series, Hollywood must have been taking a sick day. This list pays tribute to four animated series based on popular movies and comics that seem like they could have been sure bets — but they never made the final cut.

So let's gather some flowers and place them on the grave of these four awesome cartoons that we never got. And remember: don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened. But wait, these shows never happened. Dang. Okay, I guess just cry then.

plesiosaur

Jurassic Park: The Animated Series

I've spent the past two months writing about the glorious ins and outs of the Jurassic Park series, and I thought I was done. I'm like a retired gunslinger, sitting at the back of the bar, sipping whiskey and telling people "My days of penning Spinosaurus fan theories are behind me." Then I heard about an aborted Jurassic Park cartoon that had some killer concept art. So I put my cowboy hat back on, take a final swig, and said, "Yes, I will write about that."

pterosaur

Jurassic Park was a bigger success than anyone could've imagined, so obviously, people floated around the idea of a television show. A live action Jurassic Park series in 1993 seems pretty farfetched, considering that we only started getting good looking CGI dinosaur shows in the year never, but a cartoon would work. Luckily, Universal Cartoon Studios hired William Stout to start designing some creatures and characters for an animated series. 

mosasaur

The studio apparently wanted something more "mature" than your average cartoon, which is a fancy way of saying, "These dinosaurs are gonna be hungry."

Sadly, the series never got off the ground due to the almighty indifference of Jurassic Park director Steven Spielberg. On one hand, I understand this. 1993 was a big year for Spielberg; he released both Schindler's List and Jurassic Park and suddenly being asked to take on the dual roles of Important Auteur Filmmaker Who Wins Oscars and Successful Blockbuster Filmmaker Now in Charge of an Entire Franchise About Man-Eating Lizards can be a tiring demand.


On the other hand, COME ON, STEVEN.

no mans land

The post-apocalyptic Batman cartoon

No Man's Land is a big storyline in the Batman comics, in which an earthquake hits Gotham City and plunges it into anarchy. Nearly every villain you can think of escapes Arkham Asylum and lays claim to part of the city, leaving Batman and Company to clean up the mess. It's the closest Batman has ever gotten to a Fallout game, and I'd love to see an adaptation of it one day.

Oh, there was almost one? Well, isn't that a kick in many, many pants. As it turns out, there was a pitch for a show based on Batman: No Man's Land. And as with all of these series, these pitches came with a bunch of sweet concept art (done by Coran Kizer Stone, an artist who you should totally follow on Instagram.)

bane

I dig this Bane. It looks like a mix between the leather-loving Bane from The New Batman Adventures and the one from Arkham Origins.

batmannomansland

That is a Batman that has seen some s***. His jawline seems to say "I haven't laughed in a year, and I will take it personally if you do."

batman family

And finally, here is the Bat-family, leaping off a building, presumably to land on the Joker's spine all at once.

Sadly, this series was deemed "too dark," which is odd as a good chunk of Batman films make it clear that the dude loves to beat up on people. It's kind of his thing.

Pryde of the X-Men

The famed '90s X-Men cartoon is Criterion Collection-worthy, and I want the theme song to be my funeral march... but the best X-Men designs are absolutely the ones from the Konami arcade game, which includes our true national anthem - the Colossus yell.

However, the X-Men designs from the Konami game are actually from an aborted cartoon called Pryde of the X-Men. This series only got to the pilot stage, and it was animated by Toei Animation, the Japanese studio that has brought you things like Dragon Ball and One Piece.

And you can watch the entire pilot here:

Yes, there are some goofy parts to it. The Stan Lee narration is a little unnecessary and some of the voice acting seems weird when compared to the iconic voices that the '90s cartoon gave us, but god, that beautiful animation. I go to bed every night wishing on the stars that I can get a full X-Men series that is animated like Fist of the North Star or Robotech or other classic '80s anime, and this pilot is the closest I'll ever get to that dream.

Also, why is it so hard to get an X-Men show made? We've gotten three American ones, and while that sounds like a lot, it's nothing compared to Spider-Man, who has gotten nine. It's about angsty people who shoot lasers at each other. What more do you Hollywood snobs want?

Buffy: The Animated Series

Confession: I loved the show Kim Possible. It was fantastic, and I know that we're not supposed to wish that shows would last forever because we wished The Office would last forever and look what happened there, but I wish Kim Possible had lasted at least nine more years. And it's because of my faith in Kim Possible that I know a cartoon about Buffy the Vampire Slayer could have worked.

The first reaction to this is probably "Nuh uh. What about vampires? There's, like, blood and stuff." But if you've watched any episode of Buffy, you know that vampires are just a subsection of the things she has to roundhouse kick. The third episode of the actual show is about mean witches, and the fourth episode is about a giant bug monster. As far as I know, there is no big American crisis about whether or not we should be exposing our children to empowered female characters suplexing giant bug monsters.

Sadly, the creators got the same "Too dark for kids, but no adults will watch a cartoon either" excuse that many others have gotten and the project died out. So pour one out for Buffy, and pour another out for all the goblin punches that could've been.