Woe to be an animated series that only makes it to one episode (or worse, a rinky-dink promo reel) before being consigned to the dustbin. Here are 10 canned cartoons we can watch thanks to the magics of YouTube.
Some of you may remember that Jim Lee's WildStorm comic Wild.C.A.T.s got its own TV show back in 1994 (complete with a magnificently shitty gospel-rap theme song that resembled a dollar-store version of Faith No More's "Epic").
But did you know that an animated take on Rob Liefeld's Youngblood was planned (and then scuttled) around 1995? If this demo reel is any indicator, the show would've looked like a 30-minute Patrick Nagel painting.
This absolutely abysmal chibi version of the Gundam mecha anime was planned for North American audiences. Only this promo reel from 1991 was ever produced, but it contained two of the strangest high concept taglines in the history of cartoon marketing:
1.) "These misguided robots had to be stopped before they built an army and ROBBED THE WORLD OF FUN!"
2.) "With the Doozy Bots, you get lots of action, lots of fun, and LOTS OF KIDS."
Buffy The Animated Series
In the early 2000s, Joss Whedon and Jeph Loeb tried to sell a Buffy cartoon — which took place circa Season 1 — to Fox and other networks. Even though Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon, and Anthony Stewart Head returned to contribute voices for a short pilot (Sarah Michelle Gellar's Buffy was replaced with Giselle Loren), the networks found it too kiddy for prime time and too adult for Saturday morning. The project was ultimately scrapped in 2005.
In 2006, Cartoon Network commissioned and eventually turned down a pilot starring DC Comics' ductile superhero. Tom Kenney (a.k.a. Spongebob a.k.a. Kedzie Matthews from Mr. Show) voiced Plastic Man and purported "You Oughta Know" bad boyfriend Dave Coulier played Plastic Man's cop buddy. And I wager an Ambush Bug cartoon would have done gangbusters with those network suits.
Wacky Races Forever
Another nixed Cartoon Network pilot from 2006, this one was based on the 1960s Hanna-Barbera grand prix cartoon. I don't think I can relate with a generation who grew up without knowing who Dick Dastardly is.
In 2000, a CG update of the Harmony Gold/Tatsunoko mecha anime was canned after its promo footage received universal opprobrium from anime convention-goers and the show's animation studio went bankrupt. I know it's unfair to hold 2000 animation up to 2011 standards, but this looks like a particularly enthralling screen saver.
The Amazing Screw-On Head
Now this is a goddamn tragedy. In 2006, the channel formerly known as Sci-Fi aired this 22-minute pilot based on Mike Mignola's supernatural espionage comic online. Fans were told to vote on whether they'd like to see this air, but — because of the vicissitudes of internet democracy or network funding — the show was scrapped. Who wouldn't want to see a cartoon about Abraham Lincoln's robotic super-spy?
The Adventures of Superpup
This unaired 1958 canine Superman show wasn't animation, but it was a living cartoon featuring puppets and humans wearing terrifying mechanical dog masks. Unbelievably, this is more disturbing than Dogville.
Welcome To Eltingville
This 2002 Adult Swim pilot about four bickering otakus (and their digressions into their own magical realist fantasy worlds) was based on Evan Dorkin's Dork! series on Slave Labor Graphics.
This crappy adaptation of that impossible Nintendo game that was a parody of the Ninja Turtles aired one episode in 1992. Also, here are some other cartoons that got the axe tout de suite:
- The BraveStarr spin-off Quest of the Prarie People (think intergalactic hillbillies).
- The brutally hilarious Adult Swim cartoon Korgoth of Barbaria.
- Pryde of the X-Men, an X-Men pilot that went nowhere, but it inspired that fantastic arcade game. And Australian Wolverine!
- Bamimation, an MTV pilot featuring Bam Margera, the late Ryan Dunn, and a shrink ray.
- A TV movie adaptation of Gary Larson's Far Side (a second episode of this actually aired in the UK).
- ADDENDUM: The 1973 Lost In Space cartoon (thanks, GusF)!