The ’80s and ’90s saw an influx of Saturday morning celebrity cartoons, also called celebrity toons. Most of them were pretty terrible, so it isn’t surprising that few made it past a single season. Many celebrities didn’t even voice their characters, and there were usually weird live-action clips added to the episodes that left viewers confused. Most of the shows went with a central theme that focused on a moral or lesson to be learned, but that was often lost within the terrible animation and cheesy catchphrases.
Results varied between these shows, but the best results were pretty dismal. Mister T managed to hang on for three seasons, making it the longest-running series of them all. The New Kids on the Block cartoon, despite the titular group’s worldwide super-fandom, crashed and burned.
‘Hammerman’ — Don’t Touch This
This one was bad enough that no one wanted to touch it. Hip hop star MC Hammer’s magic talking shoes turned him into a dancing superhero. While the show tries to teach children valuable life lessons, it isn’t easy to take advice from someone in talking shoes. The animation was also terrible, with very choppy movement.
To Hammer’s credit, he did at least voice his character, which is something that many of the other celebrity cartoons were lacking. There were also no cuts to concert footage or awkward live-action clips. Hammer did do an in-person introduction at the beginning of each episode, talking about the lesson to be learned that day. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to keep this show on the air for more than one season.
‘New Kids on the Block’ — The Wrong Stuff
Unlike the other cartoons where the celebrities were heroes, the New Kids on the Block cartoon had this ultra-famous boy band trying to navigate a life of fame, as they did in real life. They found themselves in scenarios where they typically wanted to live as ordinary people but were usually discovered by fans and cornered, needing help to escape. Once rescued, they talked about what they learned from the situation before ending the show with a live-action concert clip, which was likely the only thing that kept fans watching to the end of the episode.
A Saturday morning cartoon should have been a hit for a group with a fan following like NKOTB; their Saturday morning cartoon should have been a hit. Unfortunately, it was so terrible that even the fans couldn’t bear to watch it, and it was canceled after a single season. The group didn’t voice their characters, but they did intersperse cheesy live-action clips as reactions, somewhat akin to memes now. The one-liners with their song titles were used far too often, and the blinding, multicolored, multi-patterned, neon borders around the live-action clips were nauseating. And even New Kids on the Block themselves couldn’t get over the terrible Boston accents.
‘Mister T’ — I Pity the Fool Who Watched This
Mister T was an odd cartoon that managed to last three seasons, despite the weird idea of mystery-solving teen gymnasts traveling the world. Mr. T was best known for his roles in Rocky III and The A-team, but it may not be well-known that he was a community gym instructor before becoming famous, which explains the gymnasts in the cartoon. However, without that context, they seem pretty out of place, and the cartoon makes little sense.
Like many other celebrity cartoons, Mister T had a moral to every episode, which he talked about in person before and after each episode. Although he played a tough guy on TV, Mr. T loved helping children. However, the series lacked substance, and the animation was quite terrible. Still, lasting three seasons is pretty impressive as far as celebrity cartoons go.
‘ProStars’ — Bo Didn’t Know How Terrible This Cartoon Was
This cartoon centers on a trio of celebrity athletes who fight crime while helping kids and protecting the environment. The latter was significant in the early ’90s since the world was at the height of the ozone crisis, rainforest deforestation, and pollution, which are still relevant issues today. Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, and Bo Jackson didn’t voice their characters, but they had live-action clips at the beginning and end of every episode like other celebrity cartoons.
Initially created to air on ESPN, the cartoon ended up in the Saturday-morning cartoon lineup. The heroes used sports equipment such as baseballs, basketballs, and hockey pucks as weapons to defeat their enemies, and one has to question what gym classes looked like after kids watched this show. Either way, it was still canceled after only one season.
‘Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling’ — Leg-dropped After Two Seasons
Professional wrestling saw a massive spike in popularity in the ’80s, and celebrities like Cyndi Lauper were even getting in on the action. And with that popularity came Hulkamania. With so many kids already watching live-action wrestling in the evenings, it made sense to give them a Saturday morning cartoon, too. This one even managed to hang on for two seasons.
The weird thing about this show is there was little wrestling. Instead, the show focused on strange plots like cleaning “Mean” Gene’s house or Hulk Hogan becoming “Robin Hulk” and defending Sherwood Forest with his merry band of wrestlers after getting caught in a time machine. Of course, the villains were also actual WWE villains of the time, such as the Iron Sheik and Rowdy Roddy Piper. The show may have lasted more than two seasons if it actually had to do with wrestling, but its bizarre episode topics ended up getting this cartoon thrown out of the ring.
‘Kid ‘n Play’ — Not A Fun Party
Based on the hip-hop duo Kid ‘n Play, this is another celebrity cartoon to only last one season — sort of. It actually only aired from September to December 1990. As per usual, the duo didn’t voice their own characters, but there were live-action segments added that also included popular musicians of the time like Salt-N-Pepa and Kool Moe Dee. Like the others, Kid ‘n Play’s central theme focused on teaching kids how to make good choices and stay out of trouble.
Unfortunately, the cheesiness of the live-action segments and the jumpy animation outweighed any lesson to be learned, and the series didn’t see the same success as their 1990 movie, House Party. It’s unfortunate because Kid ‘n Play really seemed to be trying to get important messages out to the kids watching.