The spin-off is a time honored tradition. As long as there has been television, there have been studio executives green lighting new shows spinning out of established, popular shows. After all, the logic goes, if this show is a bonafide hit, surely the viewing audience would love to follow the further adventures of side characters introduced in the aforementioned popular show. And while the art of creating a successful spin-off show can be messy, television has seen plenty of popular shows that began as spin-offs of other shows; Frasier came from Cheers, Melrose Place came from Beverly Hills 90210, and so on. Animation is no stranger to spin-offs, either, as cartoons have seen plenty of shows spawning from popular shows over the years. But for every popular animated spin-off, there are plenty of others that quickly slip into obscurity.
Whether it’s due to the fact that the show never found its own voice, or perhaps the show just didn’t resonate with audiences, these spin-offs simply never found the success of the shows they originated from. Sure, you might have caught an episode or two, but we bet these failed animated spin-offs have totally slipped your mind. But CBR is here to take you on a walk down memory lane to marvel at all the failed pilots, the unsuccessful series, and simply forgettable shows that have spun-off over the years.
15. THE BRAK SHOW
When Space Ghost: Coast to Coast debuted on Cartoon Network in 1994, it sparked an adult animation revolution. Soon after, Cartoon Network would use the oddball animated talk show to launch its Adult Swim block. Wanting to capitalize on the cult success of Space Ghost, a spin-off was created, chronicling the odd day-to-day life of Space Ghost co-host and all-around weird guy, Brak.
Hitting the airwaves in 2001, The Brak Show transported the dim bulb “space cat” to suburbia, where Brak pulled pranks with his best friend/bully Zorak, ran afoul of his neighbor Thundercleese, and occasionally broke into song. The Brak Show ran for a commendable three seasons, and amassed a dedicated following along the way, but was eclipsed in the ratings by fellow Adult Swim shows such as Sealab 2021 and Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law. As a result, many fans have forgotten about this OG Adult Swim show.
14. DUCK DODGERS
The Looney Tunes were filled to bursting with memorable characters, and none were more memorable than Daffy Duck. The perpetually combative duck became one of the stars of the popular cartoon show in its early days, and Daffy would eventually take to space to become “Duck Dodgers,” a daring space ranger that would clash with the diminutive Marvin Martian. Initially debuting in 1953, Duck Dodgers would appear in several “sequels” throughout the years, before finally making the jump to a show of his own in 2003.
Simply titled Duck Dodgers, Dodgers, along with his second-in-command, The Eager, Young Space Cadet, fought the insidious Martian Queen for the fate of the galaxy, while occasionally finding time for hijinks. Across the show’s two year run, Dodgers fought robots, met Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, and even became a Green Lantern! Despite its continued cult popularity, Duck Dodgers short run has caused the show to become somewhat obscure.
13. THE PEBBLES AND BAMM-BAMM SHOW
Few animated series have managed to achieve the popularity of The Flintstones; since debuting in 1960, the animated series following America’s favorite prehistoric pals has spawned live-action movies, countless tie-in merchandise, and several spin-offs. While the various Flintstones spin-offs have been met with varying degrees of success, there is one that failed to ROCK viewers minds: The Pebbles And Bamm-Bamm Show.
Debuting in 1971, this teen-centric spin-off followed high school aged versions of Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm as they made friends, attended school and had misadventures. Taking a page from The Archies and Josie and the Pussycats, The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show cast our protagonists as rock stars, fronting a band called the Bedrock Rockers. Unfortunately, viewers weren’t eager to start a clean SLATE with Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm, and the show was given the COAL shoulder, leading to the spin-off being yanked after a single uneventful season.
12. PLANET SHEEN
While Nickelodeon found wild success in movies by adapting its mega-popular shows for the silver screen, the company took a gamble with 2001’s The Adventures Of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. As a movie starring an entirely new character, the film’s success was not guaranteed, but Jimmy Neutron performed admirably at the box office and eventually netted a Nick toon of its own. The ensuing Jimmy Neutron series became a popular show for the network, eventually leading to Nickelodeon green lighting a spin-off for Sheen that sent Jimmy’s best friend into space.
Planet Sheen moved the hyperactive side character into the spotlight, following Sheen as he crash lands on the alien planet Zeenu, where he befriends a native named Doppy and a hyper-intelligent chimpanzee named Nesmith. Unfortunately, Planet Sheen was far from a runaway success and the series was moved to Nickelodeon’s smaller Nicktoons network to finish out its run, cementing its place in the hall of forgotten cartoons.
11. POSTCARDS FROM BUSTER
With 229 episodes to its name, the long-running Arthur series has become a bonafide toddler mainstay. Considering the series’ continued success, a spin-off made sense, but resulting series failed to make the same impact as the beloved series it spawned from.
Dubbed Postcards From Buster, this hybrid animated/live-action spin-off followed Arthur’s best pal Buster as the curious rabbit traveled the world, meeting children and learning about their families and cultures. Much like Arthur, the show placed a strong emphasis on learning, helping children to learn about the world around them. Unfortunately, despite a healthy four season run, Postcards From Buster encountered production issues, causing a four year gap between its third and fourth season. As a result, the series failed to find an audience when it finally returned to the air, and PBS ultimately pulled the plug on Arthur’s one and only spin-off.
10. EVIL CON CARNE
When The Grim Adventures Of Billy & Mandy debuted on Cartoon Network in 2001, viewers were introduced to the utterly bizarre world of the dimwitted Billy and the nefarious Mandy. Considering the fact that the show revolved around the two youths teaming with a Jamaican-accented Grim Reaper, it’s safe to say that the show was most certainly unlike any other cartoon on the network. That is, it was, until it received a spin-off in Evil Con Carne.
Debuting in 2003, Evil Con Carne chronicled the misadventures of a group of evil villains plotting to conquer the world. Led by Hector Con Carne, a debonair megalomaniac that just so happens to now be a brain in a vat attached to a purple Russian circus bear, the team tried, and failed, to enact their insidious schemes. Unfortunately, while Grim Adventures became a runaway success, Evil Con Carne floundered, and the show was canceled after just 14 episodes.
Ever wondered what the wild Tasmanian Devil did in his down time? No? Well, that makes sense, as we can’t imagine there were too many people curious as to what Taz did when he wasn’t with his Looney Tunes pals. But this didn’t stop Warner Bros. Animation from bringing the world Taz-Mania.
Debuting in 1991, Taz-Mania followed the misadventures of Taz and his family, composed of a doting mother, a Bing Crosby-aping father, a popular sister, and an energetic younger brother. Eschewing Taz’s standard Looney Tunes adventures, Taz-Mania played like a sitcom, placing the whirling Taz into suburbia, with Taz working as a bellhop at a hotel while falling into wacky situations with his loving family. Despite its weird premise, Taz-Mania ran for a commendable four seasons. The series even netted a tie-in Genesis game, but this spin-off remains mostly forgotten these days.
8. THE PLUCKY DUCK SHOW
Ah, the rarely seen spin-off of a spin-off! Spinning off from the wildly popular Tiny Toon Adventures, itself a spin off of the beloved Looney Tunes, The Plucky Duck Show took the egotistical Plucky Duck and gave him a show all his own.
While Tiny Toon Adventures featured a revolving cast composed of young toons based on popular Looney Tunes characters, The Plucky Duck Show focused exclusively on Plucky Duck, the troublesome Daffy Duck-inspired character that had quickly become a fan favorite on Tiny Toon Adventures. While The Plucky Duck Show featured occasional original segments, it was primarily composed of shorts pulled from Tiny Toon Adventures that focused on the titular duck. While it functioned as a glorified clip show, Plucky Duck was viewed as unnecessary, and was yanked from the air after a single 13-episode season.
7. EXTREME DINOSAURS
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are hands-down the most popular characters in the “anthropomorphic animals with ‘tude fighting crime” subgenre of cartoons. But despite the Turtles’ lasting popularity, the franchise has never managed to spawn a spin-off series. While the TMNT never got this important franchise milestone, one of it’s knock-offs did: the Street Sharks, which spawned the spin-off series Extreme Dinosaurs.
First appearing in Street Sharks as the “Dino Vengers”), the Extreme Dinosaurs would net a show of their own, which chronicled the adventures of a team of, well, extreme dinosaurs as they battled an evil race of space dinosaurs known as the Raptors. Despite the popularity of such shows in the ’90s, Extreme Dinosaurs only managed to last for a single 52 episode season before being yanked from the air. While the Street Sharks maintain a cult following to this day, the Extreme Dinosaurs are definitely extinct.
6. PINKY, ELMYRA, AND THE BRAIN
Spin-offs are pretty commonplace in TV, but spinning off two separate shows to create one brand new show? That’s decidedly less common. However, that is just what happened when Tiny Toon Adventures and Pinky and the Brain spun-off together to create Pinky, Elmyra, and the Brain.
As the name implies, Pinky, Elmyra, and the Brain brought the mismatched lab mice pair of Pinky and the Brain together with the animal-obsessed Elmyra Duff. In this spin-off, the Pinky and the Brain’s former home of Acme Labs is destroyed, leading to the pair ending up at a pet store, where they are adopted by the spoiled and selfish Elmyra. Unfortunately, the combination of the aspiring world-conquering mice with the looney Elmyra proved to be a dud, and the series only lasted a paltry 13 episodes before being pulled from the airwaves,
5. YO YOGI!
With his little green hat and his iconic white collar, Yogi Bear is one of the most iconic and recognizable characters from the classic cartoon studio Hanna-Barbera. Like many cartoon characters spawned from the popular Hanna-Barbera studios in the ’50s, Yogi works so well because his smarmy charm and pic-a-nic basket stealing hijinks are timeless. Unfortunately, NBC didn’t quite feel the same way about the character in 1991, leading to Yogi being given a fresh coat of early-’90s paint and a new spin-off show entitled Yo Yogi!
In Yo Yogi!, Yogi was reimagined as a hip breakdancing 14-year-old that hung out at the mall and solved crrimes with the help of his friends Boo-Boo, Huckleberry Hound, Snagglepuss, and Cindy Bear. Problem is, the demand for a series about a hip breakdancing teenage Yogi Bear wasn’t very high, and Yo Yogi! was mercifully axed after 13 episodes.
4. RUGRATS: PRE-SCHOOL DAZE
When Rugrats was released in 1991, it was greeted with immediate success, eventually airing for nine seasons, earning itself three theatrical films, and even inspired a successful spin-off following the characters as pre-teens. While All Grown Up! managed to do well, the Rugrats franchise does have one black sheep spin-off: Rugrats: Pre-School Daze.
Originally commissioned in 2002, but not hitting airwaves until 2008, Rugrats: Pre-School Daze followed the adventures of pre-school aged versions of Angelica Pickles and Susie Carmichael. Much like Rugrats, the show followed the characters as they used their imagination and learned about the world around them. However, only four episodes of the series were aired before the show was quietly canceled, making Rugrats: Pre-School Daze the shortest-lived Nickelodeon series. This dubious distinction has all but assured that Rugrats: Pre-School Daze will remain an obscure, totally forgotten spin-off.
3. LOONATICS UNLEASHED
Okay, this list might be titled “15 retro cartoon spin-offs you TOTALLY forgot about,” but a more accurate title for Loonatics Unleashed might be “retro cartoon spin-off your brain TOTALLY mercifully blocked from your memory.” After all, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more reviled spin-off than Loonatics Unleashed.
This ill-fated 2005 spin-off of Looney Tunes reimagined the beloved Looney Tunes gang as x-treme superhero crime fighters. More accurately, the show followed descendants of the Looney Tunes in a far-off war-torn cyberpunk future, where characters such as Ace Bunny, Danger Duck, and Tech E. Coyote fought to protect the city-planet of Acmetropolis from super-villains such as Sylth Vester and Electro J. Fudd. Despite drawing harsh criticism from fans and critics alike, Loonatics Unleashed managed to last two whole seasons before being axed in 2007. While many of the shows on this list could be seen as “gone too soon,” Loonatics Unleashed is a spin-off that wasn’t gone soon enough.
2. CRASH NEBULA
With its interesting world and fun character, Nickelodeon’s long-running Fairly Odd Parents seems like a perfect fit for a spin-off. But FOP didn’t given any of the fairies or side characters a show of their own; rather, Fairly Odd Parents attempted the rarely seen spin-off of a show within a show.
Originally appearing as a popular fictional character within the FOP universe, Crash Nebula was given a pilot episode in 2004 to test the waters for a show all his own. Framed as an episode on TV that Timmy Turner is watching, Crash Nebula introduced viewers to the titular space hero, following the eager teen as he attended an intergalactic high school and learned how to use his Nebula 3000 suit. Unfortunately, the pilot failed to illicit any interest, and the planned series was scrapped, making Crash Nebula one truly obscure animated spin-off.
1. THE ZETA PROJECT
With the endearing popularity of the Batman Beyond franchise, it seems unthinkable that such a beloved show could spawn a failed spin-off that hardly anyone remembers. But this is exactly what happened with The Zeta Project.
The titular Zeta, originally introduced in an episode of Batman Beyond naturally titled “Zeta,” was a former assassin robot that experienced a crisis of conscious and found himself unable to kill, becoming a champion of good. In The Zeta Project, Zeta found himself on the run from the NSA, with a plucky teen runaway in tow. Together, the duo tried to stay one step ahead of their pursuers while fighting crime. Despite lasting two seasons, The Zeta Project failed to make a splash with viewers and was ultimately quietly canceled. Much like the show, Zeta quietly disappeared, never again appearing in Batman Beyond, dooming this show to languish in obscurity as the king of all forgotten cartoon spin-offs.
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