It's pretty common for a popular film to launch a franchise, even before the modern age of sequels, remakes, reboots, and shared universes took over movies and TV. In fact, before making more movies and a setting up a cinematic universe was the popular choice, most successful movies would further the adventures of the characters in the form of an animated series. This has been done with live-action films, which made for strange animated adaptations, and with animated films, which usually lose quality when transitioning to television. No matter what audience the original films were meant for, the cartoon continuations were often aimed at kids, which resulted in quite a few changes from movie to animated series.
Though much less common, this trend continues today. Some shows serve as continuations to movies that didn't get the go-ahead for a full-on sequel while other cartoons stand as supplementary material to a larger universe, like with Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. Some of these cartoon continuations do a great job of furthering the story and world of the original movie, while others don't quite do the film justice, standing as a low point of the franchise. Who's to say what went wrong; maybe it was a dip in quality, or a tonal shift made to fit a demographic different from the film, but some cartoon continuations just don't get it right, while others are fantastic. So which animated continuations are we talking about? Which were great follow-ups and which were flops? Check below to find out.
26 WORKED - ALADDIN
Disney has a pretty great track record when it comes to continuing an animated movie in a TV series, and among their long list of great sequel series is Aladdin. The character and franchise might have had an infamous streak of bad direct-to-video sequels, but the TV series didn't suffer as much from the same drop in quality.
The Aladdin TV series was an adventure-of-the-week and thus it was pretty by the books, but it had some solid writing and animation that made it much better than other continuations. Plus, it had an awesome crossover with Hercules.
25 FLOPPED - ROBOCOP
A film where a cop gets torn apart by gunfire, has most of his body replaced with cybernetics and then becomes an agent of privatized corporate authority... Yeah, that sounds like the perfect plot to turn into a kids TV series.
Granted the idea of a half-robot cop definitely sounds like a Saturday-morning cartoon, which is why we can sort of see Robocop working as one, but at the end of the day, this cartoon continuation was strange and not very well-executed. It was a thematically inconsistent installment in the Robocop franchise.
24 WORKED - BIG HERO 6: THE SERIES
Big Hero 6 was one of Disney's coolest-designed animated films, which is why it's so great that the cartoon continuation, Big Hero 6: The Series, had fun with the transition into 2D, sporting some cool and unique character designs.
On top of looking great, Big Hero 6: The Series is a fun, awesome follow up to the film, especially considering so many people were disappointed that there was no sequel to the movie to look forward to. But, the series does a great job of expanding the world and adding some mysteries that we're excited to figure out as the episodes roll on.
23 FLOPPED - LILO & STITCH: THE SERIES
The setup for the Lilo & Stitch series and the straight-to-DVD sequel that led into it aren't actually that bad, but the execution of the former ended up turning the idea into a low-quality adventure-of-the-week cartoon. With all the other experiments loose in Hawaii, Lilo and Stitch have to find them, stop them from destroying everything and find them a place where their abilities can be useful.
It was kind of a cool premise. It expanded on the idea of the original film, diving deeper into the experiments. It also kept the fun and goofy side of the movie intact.
22 WORKED - SPIDER-MAN: THE NEW ANIMATED SERIES
Out of the many Spider-Man animated series, only one served as a continuation of one of the live-action films and that was Spider-Man: The New Animated Series. Taking place after Sam Raimi's Spider-Man, this series starred Neil Patrick Harris as Spider-Man and showed Peter in his college years as he dealt with new and dangerous villains.
The cel-shaded CGI animation of The New Animated Series might have been terrible, but the story was pretty top-notch, building a cool world with pieces of the first live-action movie.
21 FLOPPED - THE MUMMY: THE ANIMATED SERIES
The world of Univeral's The Mummy — the original, that is, not the poor attempt to launch a shared universe — could easily serve as the plot for a Saturday-morning cartoon, and had it been made during the era of G.I. Joe and Thundercats, maybe it would have done better.
This was not the case of The Mummy: The Animated Series, which, while it did run for two seasons, was not as fun as the films, perhaps because they work better as single adventures rather than a serialized story.
20 WORKED - BUZZ LIGHTYEAR OF STAR COMMAND
This is a bit of a strange entry, since it's more of an in-universe TV series rather than a continuation. This is because Buzz Lightyear of Star Command was not a sequel to Toy Story, but rather a cartoon that came out in the world of Toy Story, serving as an in-canon animated series to go along with the Buzz Lightyear toys.
Confusing canon aside, seeing the backstory and adventures of Buzz Lightyear was actually pretty cool, making for an interesting supplemental piece of the Toy Story world.
19 FLOPPED - NAPOLEON DYNAMITE
Napoleon Dynamite was a strange, but funny indie comedy that definitely earned the praise it got upon its release, but it wasn't long before it became unbearably quoted, referenced and oversaturated. In other words, the hype fizzled out pretty quickly, which is why it was such a strange choice to make an animated series eight years after the film came out.
The series' downfall was partially caused by this huge gap in time, the aforementioned over-saturation nixing any interest in the series, the setting, and the lack of character development led to an overall poorly-executed cartoon.
18 WORKED - CLERKS: THE ANIMATED SERIES
Kevin Smith's Clerks franchise is kind of crazy when you think about it; not the setting, but the fact that the first movie was an indie, shoe-string film and led to some higher-budget sequels and spin-offs, including an animated series. It's awesome that an independent film got so far. What is even better is that it kept its quality throughout most entries, including the cartoon.
Clerks: The Animated Series might have had a criminally short run, but the designs were great, and the writing was solid and funny. The humor really embraced the sitcom and animated formats, making for a great continuation overall that was canceled too soon.
17 FLOPPED - BACK TO THE FUTURE: THE ANIMATED SERIES
The Back to the Future animated series definitely had its merits, but at the end of the day, it couldn't compete with the film trilogy. To be fair, it's hard to beat the film series, even if the animated series gave it its all.
Unfortunately, the changes made, the adventure-of-the-week format and the somewhat unappealing art style made for an overall sub-par cartoon continuation. Luckily, where the animated series failed to follow up on the films, the Telltale video game and the IDW comics managed to build out the world much more successfully.
16 WORKED - HERCULES
Like Aladdin, the Hercules animated series managed to capture some of the magic from the film, and though the animation quality doesn't quite stack up, this cartoon continuation was a heck of a lot of fun.
The series ignored some of the film's continuity in order to make for a more tone-consistent series, following Hercules in his school days while training under Phil, going through trials and adventures along the way. There was even a crossover with Aladdin, in which Hades called upon Jafar's spirit so they could team up and rid themselves of their young adversaries for good.
15 FLOPPED - ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE
Did you know that there were three different animated series based on Jim Carrey movies, none of which actually featured his voice? One of these series was an adaptation/continuation of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.
Though the setup of Ace solving a different pet-related-mystery each episode worked rather well, the series overall seemed like a cash-grab more than anything, repeating gags from the film without much substance or quality writing. The designs also weren't the greatest, and seemed like a combination of too many different art styles.
14 WORKED - BEETLEJUICE
Beetlejuice was already a very cartoony movie, so it makes sense that they made an animated series based on the film. There was a lot of great things going on with this series, particularly the designs of Beetlejuice and Lydia which are some top-notch cartooning that almost looks better than the original movie.
As for the content, the writing and humor were really strong. They adjusted the dark-comedy nature of the film into a zany, spooky gag cartoon. Thought it might not have been a perfect series, Beetlejuice took its original premise to new, comedic places and was an overall delight.
13 FLOPPED - THE MASK: ANIMATED SERIES
One of the other Jim-Carrey-movies-turned-animated-series was The Mask: Animated Series, which featured veteran voice actor Rob Paulson in Carrey's role as Stanley Ipkiss/The Mask. This cartoon continuation rewrote the ending of the film, and instead of getting rid of the mask, Stanley kept and continued to use it.
This led to some wacky adventures, including a crossover with Ace Ventura, that was fun at times, but at the end of the day, couldn't compete with the film. Despite going on for three seasons, The Mask: Animated Series is one of the lesser animated continuations on this list.
12 WORKED - TANGLED: THE SERIES
Like with Big Hero 6, many were disappointed that there wasn't going to be a Tangled sequel, but fans eventually got what they wanted with Tangled: The Series, which has already entered its second season, otherwise known as Rapunzel's Tangled Adventure.
On top of having a wonderful art/animation style — the show takes flash animation to new and beautiful places — the series has managed to introduce some awesome new characters and keep the story interesting. In fact, Rapunzel's long blonde hair coming back is executed rather well, opening up a world of mysteries for the characters to discover.
11 FLOPPED - MEN IN BLACK: THE SERIES
Men in Black: The Series earns some credit for having an awesome and well-animated art style, but beyond the series' appearance, this was a franchise that's better off in live-action. The films were adventurous, high-paced fun, while the animated series was more of a dumb-fun situation.
Men In Black: The Series, has its merits, but any time you turn an awesome movie into an adventure/monster/alien-of-the-week format, things start to go sour and the brand, story and fun world starts to cheapen. Plus, nothing compares to Will Smith's on-screen charisma.
10 WORKED - BLACK DYNAMITE
This is one of the rare cases in which the animated continuation/adaptation was actually better than the original, since Black Dynamite was able to take the characters and setup to wild, satirical and hilarious places that the film couldn't. Furthermore, what felt drawn out and overdone in a full-length film worked perfectly in a 22-minute episode series format.
The best part of this animated series had to be the visuals, which were done by the same crew behind The Boondocks. The animation of Black Dynamite was beautiful, and the story was action-packed and just plain awesome, helping to make for one great follow up.
9 FLOPPED - GODZILLA: THE SERIES
Whose idea was it to base an animated series on the horrible Godzilla movie from 1998? The film was a complete flop and no one was demanding more content, so where did this series come from? It was most likely a cash-grab, but an ill-advised one at that.
The series followed the same characters from the film, but instead of the bad Godzilla from the film, the series starred a baby Godzilla. The baby imprinted on the main character, and the two helped fight other kaiju in a literal monster-of-the-week set up that was not up to par with other Godzilla films.
8 WORKED - STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS
It goes without saying that Star Wars: The Clone Wars is easily one of the best entries in the franchise, partially because it managed to make the narrative of the prequels good, and also because the characters and writing were absolutely superb. Fans quickly grew to love the series, especially Anakin's padawan, Ahsoka.
The series was so popular that it got two different revivals, the second one being announced recently. Though Star Wars doesn't actually have that many animated series, The Clone Wars definitely stands as the best of them all, though who knows what Star Wars Resistance will bring.
7 FLOPPED - DREAMWORKS DRAGONS
The first two How to Train Your Dragon films were smash hits, and if the trailer for the third movie is any indication, we're in for another awesome dragon-filled adventure. However, while the films are fantastic, the three TV series that Dreamworks put out are not quite on par with the rest of the franchise.
Props to Dreamworks for keeping the original voice cast, rather than replacing everyone with less-expensive actors, but beyond this production aspect, the series was pretty run-of-the-mill, paling in comparison to the films.
6 WORKED - THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS
We originally wanted to put this in the "flop" category, but when you really think about it, the setup and wacky humor of the original Ghostbusters film is kind of perfect for a comedy-action cartoon. There was a lot of slapstick and witty humor in the original, two things that worked just as well in the animated series, The Real Ghostbusters.
While the animation wasn't anything to write home about, and the characters' hair colors were changed for no reason, the Ghostbusters cartoon was actually a whole lot of fun, despite being a bit formulaic at times.
5 FLOPPED - OZZY AND DRIX
Osmosis Jones was kind of a mixed bag; the animation was incredible and featured some really cool designs for the people and places inside of Frank's body, but the writing was a bit weak and the live-action bits were both poorly produced and just plain bad.
Regardless of what you thought of the movie, we can all agree that it didn't need an animated series adaptation, especially when it wouldn't have the voice-acting charisma of Chris Rock behind it. Not to knock those that worked on Ozzy & Drix, but the show was an overall mess that didn't need to be made.
4 WORKED - TRON: UPRISING
Tron is a franchise that has managed to get by on its unique and interesting visuals, despite the writing not being all that great. This wasn't the case with Tron: Uprising, which had amazing visuals and fantastic writing, characterization, themes and overarching narratives.
Not only was Tron: Uprising an amazing prequel to Tron: Legacy, it also helped to build the world of Tron a little bit, showing the lives of programs beyond their interactions with humans in the two films. Unfortunately, despite being a fantastic cartoon continuation, the series was canceled before the story could be completed.
3 FLOPPED - THE EMPEROR'S NEW SCHOOL
The Emperor's New Groove was a pretty great film, but it didn't need any kind of follow up. In fact, the whole point of the movie was that Kuzco learned to be less self-centered, a lesson that he apparently forgot when it came time for The Emperors New School.
Though the series had some fun episodes, the whole idea of Kuzco going back to school in order to maintain his throne was a bit of a hacky setup, and again, he seemed to forget all the lessons he learned in the original film, making the series a weak follow up.
2 WORKED - STAR WARS REBELS
Though it might not be as good as The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels has just as much strong writing and character development that is worthy of just as much praise. This series took place prior to the original trilogy, building out the already dense world of Star Wars even further by showing the front lines of the rebellion.
Rebels just wrapped up to make way for Star Wars Resistance, which looks to be just as awesome as previous CG-animated series, and though its run was short, this Star Wars series stands as a great entry in the franchise.
1 FLOPPED - STREET FIGHTER
In most cases of one country adapting the property of another, things don't go all that well. American productions of Japanese franchises are usually the worst offenders, just look at the Netflix Death Note film, or in the field of animation, the American Street Fighter cartoon.
Though the series is mostly based on Street Fighter II, it also borrowed and adapted ideas from the terrible live-action film, which technically makes it a cartoon continuation, and a bad one at that. Not only did the characters look terrible in an American cartoon style, but the writing also didn't have much to offer.