20 Ridiculous Cartoon Character Redesigns Every '90s Kid Has To See

F. Scott Fitzgerald once said "There are no second chances in American lives." On the other hand, the T-800 Model 101 first said "I'll be back" in 1984's The Terminator, staying true to his word and returning in five additional Terminator films. Whether its to fulfill long lost nostalgia, garner new fans or just make some easy money without having to come up with an original idea, rehashes, reboots and relaunches are a guaranteed part of life. Unlike The T-800, who despite being a robot with artificial skin gets noticeably older with each appearance, cartoons remain a limitless resource to revisit, remix and redesign. So, in the name of subverting nostalgia, we here at CBR found 20 of the most ridiculous cartoon redesigns in comics, films and Netflix original series. To qualify for this list, the original cartoons in question did not necessarily need to premiere in the 1990s, rather the show just had to have aired or available to watch, whether it be on syndication or VHS.

Mind you, "ridiculous" is deliberately ambiguous. Sometimes, a redesign can be for the better, improving upon the character's original concept to make them palatable for a new age of fans. Alternatively, a redesign can also be for the worse, sullying the image of the formerly great intellectual property, more often than not by assuming that being dark and/or gritty is directly proportional to a work's quality. Let's take a look...

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Wacky Raceland by Ken Pontac and Leonardo Manco is a 2016 adaptation of Wacky Races with a Mad Max twist. Driving sentient talking vehicles, the racers contend with nanomachine storms, mutants and elder gods as they race around a post-apocalyptic America for a shot at the winner's circle. Recruited by the mysterious Announcer, each racer is promised their wildest dreams should they win the Wacky Race– basic Twisted Metal rules.

Every racer returns, except here Muttley is a cyborg canine, The Ant Hill Mob are clones operating on a hive-mind mentality, Peter Perfect is a pretty-boy coward, Blubber Bear is a brain-damaged bruiser wearing the skin of the bear who tore his arm off and Red Baron is just super racist.


A meteor strikes the dystopian city-planet of Acmetropolis in 2772, setting the planet off its axis and bestowing superpowers to those nearby. The hologram-alien Zadavia gathers five teenagers with attitude together to form the Loonatics in Loonatics Unleashed.

In addition to cribbing the plot of Power Rangers, the Loonatics borrow the costumes and powers of  X-Men. Some of these powers make sense, like the Road Runner's descendant gaining super speed or Wile E. Coyote's descendant having Forge-level intelligence and regeneration. Alternatively you have Ace Bunny wielding optic blasts –because rabbits have good eye sight – and Danger Duck having literally random powers and teleportation, because ducks are random, apparently?


ThunderCats the Return Wilykit and Wily Kat

Absent from New Thundera for five years, Lion-O returns home to find that Mumm-Ra reigns supreme in 2004's ThunderCats: The Return by Ford Lytle Gilmore, John Cassaday and Claudio Castellini.

Just about everything in ThunderCats: The Return is excessively grim. See, Mumm-Ra has enslaved all of Thundaria, personally seeing to it that the ThunderCats deal with the most humiliating existence possible. We'd get into details, but this is a family site after all and we don't want to taint innocent minds out there. Needless to say, some not-so-nice stuff happens to our beloved ThunderCats.


Gadget and The Gadgetinis Digit and Fidget

Inspector Gadget has been promoted to Lieutenant Gadget, this time accompanied by the Gadgetinis, which is not a robot-martini, but two identical robot helpers designed by Gadget's niece Penny in 2002's Gadget and The Gadgetinis, a series that has never been released in America.

Honestly, the Gadgetinis perplex us. Named Digit and Fidget, the Gadgetinis are tiny robot doppelgängers of Lt. Gadget, typically solving each episode's plot secretly with help from Penny while Gadget indulges in unsanctioned buffoonery. Wait, so if Penny created two robots that look exactly like her cyborg uncle Gadget, what separates Gadget from Gadgetini, besides incompetence? Is Gadget one failed mission away from being "upgraded" into a Gadgetini? Also, who thought Lieutenant Gadget sounded better than Inspector Gadget?


Drawn in a cute, hyper-deformed, hyper-color style with a sense of humor reminiscent of Adventure Time, 2018's Rainbow Brite, written by Jeremy Whitley with art by Brittney Williams, serves as a stealth sequel to the original 1984 cartoon.

When the ordinary girl Wisp's LARP session is interrupted by the color consuming minions of the King of Shadows, she is spirited away by the sprite Twinkle to the drab, monochromatic world of Rainbow Land.  Twinkle, or "Twink" as Wisp calls him, is on a quest to find the next Rainbow Brite, the legendary warrior who can defeat the Shadow King by wielding all of the colors to harness the superior power of white light.


Green Lantern Huckleberry Hound

Set in 1972 during the height of the Vietnam War, 2018's Green Lantern/Huckleberry Hound by Mark Russell and Rick Leonardi focuses on the Green Lantern/G.I. John Stewart returning home on a special training exercise not to use his power ring. His first day back, Stewart meets Huckleberry Hound, a washed up comedian who fell from fame after making a joke claiming to know (wink, wink) Richard Nixon's dog Checkers. The two swap stories regarding power in society, or that is to say, what lasting power truly is.

While it's a period piece, the message of Green Lantern/Huckleberry Hound remains relevant to today. As John Stewart summarizes: "History never truly repeats itself. But it sure do rhyme a lot."


For Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen, our favorite Decepticon squad the Constructicons pull a Voltron, combining together to become Devastator, a five-in-one robot whose gargantuan size forces it to lumber on all fours as it scales the Pyramid of Giza. While the original Transformers' Devastator was a gigantic standard-issue blocky robot, cinematic Devastator is a robotic hodgepodge, with a whirring maw powerful enough to engulf other Transformers.

Overall, Devastator gets a pretty dope redesign, but out of all of the cinematic Transformers, what makes Devastator special? Well, when the cinematic Constructicons combine into Devastator, a pair of wrecking balls inexplicably dangle between Devastator's legs. Frankly, this doesn't even make sense as Hightower clearly has only one wrecking ball, but whatever.


future quest

The multidimensional eldritch threat Omikron tears through existence itself, assimilating all life into its biomass and opening multi-dimensional vortexes throughout multiple worlds as it rampages through 2016's Future Quest by Jeff Parker, Evan Shaner and Steve Rude.

Through the breach, the Jonny Quest family, Herculoids, Space Ghost, Birdman, Mightor and Frankenstein Jr. team up to fight this eldritch beast. Basically, Future Quest is the Avengers: Infinity War of Hanna-Barbera heroes. Heck, even the walking eye spider robot makes an appearance. While each character design remains faithful to their cartoon roots, Future Quest depicts Hanna-Barbera's action cartoons how you remember them. This time around however the action is top-notch, with Race Bannon in particular being the bane of all henchmen.


No longer just a "Lady He-Man," She-Ra and her alter ego Adora are rebooted as a standalone champion fighting for the honor of Grayskull in 2018's magical space opera She-Ra and The Princesses of Power. Taken in as an orphan, Amora is indoctrinated into Hordak's Horde – mirroring She-Ra's origin from 1985's The Secret of The Sword – rising through the ranks as a senior cadet. Upon witnessing the atrocities of Hordak's Horde however, Amora defects to the Princess Rebellion, putting Amora at ends with her former squad-mate with her current frenemy, Catra.

This Netflix original series sports a crisp, anime-influenced design, taking on a gorgeous, '80s inspired hyper-color theme during magical transformation sequences.


Superman and Top Cat

A member of the Kalien race – that's a portmanteau of "kale" and "alien" – has come to Earth, seeking retribution for the genocide of his people in 2018's Superman/Top Cat by Dan Didio and Shane Davis. Evidently, the Kaliens came to the Earth in the Middle Ages, remaining in peaceful harmony with humanity for centuries as "our foul, bitter taste discouraged the curious."

With the designation of kale as a superfood however, the Kaliens have been harvested to near-extinction, prompting a Kalien rampage. Oh, and Superman teams up with Top Cat. Remember Top Cat? He was the cat in the hat that wasn't The Cat in the Hat? Yeah, Top Cat literally adds nothing unique to this one-shot comic.


Joker The Batman Season 2

While The Batman animated series reimagined most of Batman's Rogues Gallery in a highly stylized manner, The Joker received the grandest redesign of them all, now sporting green dreadlock-like hair, fingerless gloves and a repurposed straight jacket for a costume. Shunning both sanity and shoes, this Joker is redesigned to serve as more of a formidable threat in hand-t0-hand and foot-to-face combat with The Batman, utilizing an acrobatic fighting style heavily influenced by capoeira. Despite this updated combat prowess however, Joker still utilizes henchmen like Punch and Judy.

Additionally, just as Batman is commonly referred to as "The Batman" for this series, The Joker is often referred to as just "Joker," further contrasting the two characters.



A nuclear reactor powered by the unstable element Unstabilium explodes in Unlikistan, irradiating the globe with a surreal energy that turns everything into cartoons in Dastardly and Muttley by Garth Ennis, Mauricet and John Kalisz. When infected, high ranking female soldiers act like damsels in distress, guns leave holes in their still-living targets and bewilderment produces giant hovering question marks over one's head.

Ace pilots Liutenant Colonel Richard "Dick" Atcherly and Captain Dudley "Mutt" Miller feels the strange energy first hand, as Mutt gets a dog-head and Dick grows a mustache as he begins talking like a cartoon villain. At the heart of this lunacy lies the Looneytunicon, a mash-up of eldritch horrors led by the elder god Cthulo, a Pluto-Cthulhu.


The Justice League must fight The Ultimen, a manufactured team of cloned superheroes in "Ultimatum" from Justice League Unlimited. The Ultimen are redesigns of some of the more controversial (read: racist) members of the Super Friends, who ironically were originally introduced to increase racially diversity, only to come across as offensive caricatures. Black Lightning is renamed Juice, Apache Chief becomes Long Shadow and Samurai is almost unrecognizable as Wind Dragon.

Our favorite redesigns however are Downpour and Shifter, the reincarnations of The Wonder Twins Jayna and Zan. The Ultimen's Wonder Twins are now albino androgynous elf-folk that turn into dinosaurs and tidal waves. The only thing that remains are the pointed ears and their anime-style habit of announcing all of their attacks.


With every generation comes a new incarnation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Starting out as identical turtles all wearing red, each TMNT redesign helps individualize each turtle, like giving each turtle a color-coded bandana and monogrammed belt in the 1987 cartoon.

Fast forward to 2018's Rise of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles where the heavy redesigns, enables you to tell each turtle apart just from silhouettes. Raphael for instance is now the team leader who towers over his brothers, powerful enough to throw his bros as weapons. Incidentally, each turtle gets a new weapon: Raphael swaps his sai for tonfa, Leonardo gets an ōdachi blade, Michaelangelo uses a kursari-fundo and Donatello rocks a rocket-powered bō staff.


Deathstroke Yogi Bear cover

When his best bear buddy Boo Boo goes missing, Yogi Bear hires the smarter than the average mercenary Deathstroke to help in 2018's Deathstroke/Yogi Bear by J.M. DeMatteis, Frank Tieri, Tom Mandrake and Mark Texeira. Deathstroke is well prepared for this op, as he's taken foes both serious and silly, from King Shark and Jabberjaw to Gorilla Grodd and Grape Ape.

Yogi and Slade discover that H.I.V.E. has enlisted Weirdly Creeply and his wife Creepella to convert the formerly friendly fauna of Jellystone Park into an abdominal animal army. Joining forces with a dual-wielding Ranger Smith, our heroes cull their furry foes and drop dope rhymes. His services rendered, Deathstroke is compensated with a mountain of picnic baskets.


Suicide Squad and The Banana Splits

The Suicide Squad has been pinned down behind enemy lines, so Amanda Waller sends someone off of the books, a furry foursome more expendable than the squad itself, the bubblegum pop group The Banana Splits in Suicide Squad/The Banana Splits by Tony Bedard, Ben Caldwell and Mark Morales. Thus, Bingo the gorilla, Snorky the elephant, Fleegle the beagle and Drooper the lion grab some kevlar, explosives and firearms before HALO-jumping into a war zone.

Rendezvousing with Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc and Katana, The Banana Splits fight a factory full of robot girls to extract Rick Flag. Their mission complete, the Banana Splits use their time in Belle Reve to relaunch themselves as a gangster rap group called The Banana Splitz.


Aquaman Jabberjaw cover

While investigating a surge of shark attacks on Amnesty Island, Aquaman meets the inexplicably flying, talking member of The Neptunes – not Pharrell Williams, but Jabberjaw the shark in 2018's Aquaman/Jabberjaw by Dan Annett, Jeff Parker, Scott Kolins and Paul Pelletier.

Swimming through a portal to 2076, Aquaman and Jabberjaw travel to Aqualand, an underwater metropolis dealing with prejudices between sea-life and humans. Aquaman and Jabberjaw come across the destitute Sealab 2020, a research lab devoted to recreating the plot of Deep Blue Sea by creating hyperintelligent sharks like Jabberjaw. These sharks would then be sent back in time by 2076's Ocean Master to basically reenact Jaws, with the intent of discouraging humanity from furthering a relationship with aquatic life.


Against a world full of vampires, devil-folk and Kronenbergs stands the Scooby Doo team in Scooby Apocalypse by Jim Lee, Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis. These meddling twenty-something-year-olds are no longer Mystery Incorporated however: Velma is a socially awkward mad scientist, Shaggy is a pacifist dog trainer, Daphne is the former star of a Ghost Hunters style show and Fred is Daphne's cameraman, confessing his unrequited love during every life-threatening situation.

Scooby Doo is a failed attempt at a Smart Dog: a cyborg canine capable of toddler-level speech, originally intended to be an animal soldier. Even Scrappy Doo gets a redesign, sporting biomechanical triggers that allow Scappy to Hulk out as he unlocks his "puppy power."



Staying true to its cartoon roots, 2016's The Flintstones by Mark Russell and Steve Pugh is basically a stone-aged Futurama. This time around, Fred and Barney are veterans of The Paleolithic Wars, where "Yabba Dabba Doo," is a stress-reducing mantra. Since the town of Bedrock is the first civilization, the series is something of a satire, as it explores the invention of religion, news programs and even marriage, also known as "an immoral threat to our way of life."

All of The Flintstones staples are here, from the Stone-Punk society utilizing talking animals as household appliances, to the glorious prehistoric puns like "Whammoth, Bammoth thank you Mammoth," Outback Snakehouse, UGGH boots and a cinema named Plato's Cave.



Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles by Mark Russell and Mike Feehan reimagines Snagglepuss as a playwright in 1953 New York that must hide his homosexual lifestyle while being targeted by The House Committee on Un-American Activities. Along the way, sassy Snagglepuss visits The Stonewall, Marilyn Monroe, and gay novelist Huckleberry Hound.

Heavens to Murgatroyd, The Snagglepuss Chronicles is a triumph, perhaps best encapsulated by a pink anthropomorphic cougar explaining the necessity of subversion in art: "Shame is the barrier we erect to keep people from discovering what's extraordinary about themselves. To live in shame is to wear a mask. Eventually, we become the mask that we have chosen. There is no greater tragedy in life than to die a stranger to yourself."

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