(Shortlived) Cartoon Superheores That Weren't Great for Kids
There's always a debate about whether violent cartoons are good for kids and whether some cartoon characters are actually gay. But some cartoon heroes just aren't good for kids. Maybe they're darkly depressed Vietnam vets, maybe they were on the A-Team or maybe they're a stripper. Whatever the reason, these heroes just plain aren't good role models.
John Rambo made his name in First Blood as a brooding, PTSD-ridden Vietnam vet, then eventually became a killing machine that just made a bloody mess of Burma in Rambo. So of course he'd make a good role model for kids, right? That's what producers must have been thinking when they green-lit Rambo and the Forces of Freedom, a cartoon that put Sylvester Stallone's hero on the TV screens of children across the nation. They toned down the PTSD implications that made Rambo such a complex hero in David Morell's book First Blood and ramped up the witty one-liners. Rambo was united with a team of crime-fighters to fight the forces of S.A.V.A.G.E., a criminal empire led by General Warhawk. Somehow, Rambo managed to thwart Warhawk's plans (among them were stealing art from Venice and buying South America) without killing anyone, instead compelling most of the bad guys into simply surrendering. Not surprisingly, Rambo didn't translate well to the realm of kid's TV and the series was cancelled after its first season.
Ruby-Spears, the masterminds behind the Rambo series, must have had a thing for Stallone films, because they turned to Rocky III for their next cartoon hero. Mr. T featured the actor of A-Team and pro-wrestling fame as the coach of the U.S. gymnastics team. Of course, those gymnasts also had a penchant for solving mysteries, which Mr. T was more than eager to help out with. One look at the title sequence should tip you off that the hero here isn't quite Sgt. B.A. Baracus. Even though the series only made it through 30 episodes, it did launch Mr. T's journey into children's entertainment. Not long after Mr. T ended, he released Be Somebody"¦or Be Somebody's Fool, a motivational video for young audiences.
Stan Lee brought the world X-Men, Iron Man and the Fantastic Four, but Stripperella showed a markedly different side to his comic creativity. Voiced by Pamela Anderson (who else?), Strippella was the superheroine alter ego of everyday stripper Erotica Jones on the self-titled show on Spike TV. Not geared towards kids, Stripperella was rated MA and was loaded with blurred nudity and double entendres with lines like "Look out crime. I'm gonna to take a bite out of you. But not in a way you're gonna find pleasurable." The show only made it 13 episodes.
Ernie Devlin, based on real-life risk-taker Evil Knievel, traveled with the circus and performed death-defying stunts at an amazing rate (approximately one per week). Of course, like any great cartoon hero, he also liked to solve crimes. The series wasn't quite hokey enough for the traditional cartoon audience, but it wasn't quite adult enough for a teenage crowd, so it struggled to find an audience. Along those same lines, Devlin often performed risky stunts and never got injured, but still had to present safety tips at the end of every show. Devlin was voiced by former Monkee Mickey Dolenz, which should give you some idea of how high quality the show was.