The celebrity merchandise machine knows no bounds. Fragrances, toys, and fashion lines are all ways to capitalize on celebrity success. However, these products need to be advertised, and there is no buying power as strong as that commanded by a persistent child.
The perfect gateway to this consumer market is to create a cartoon. It is a quick way to get your product into the mind of a kid. In addition, you do not even need a great premise or plot. Children will watch anything. Or so adults think. With the exception of one on this list—not really marketed to children anyway—I can’t imagine these as part of a Saturday morning cartoon tradition.
Below, we list our top celebrities who delved into their own animated world. From wrestlers to rappers, all of them produced some truly awful animation. So read on for our 10 celebrities who got their own terrible cartoons.
10 Mister T
Why Mr. T had his name changed to Mister T for his animated outing remains unknown. However, he was one of several big-screen actors given a cartoon series by the studio Ruby-Spears. Unfortunately, fresh from his stints on the A-Team and matches at Wrestlemania, his popularity failed to transfer to animation.
Each episode would begin and end with Mr. T (correction, Mister T) in a live clip. Like most ‘80s animations, this was to dispense moral lessons and safety tips to avoid the glare of censors.
The rest of the show would focus on Mister T and his group of friends solving various mysteries and adventures. These were as wide-ranging as searching for Mister T’s missing chains to a stunt man committing insurance fraud. The show ran for three seasons between 1983 and 1986.
9 ProStars: Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, and Bo Jackson
Imagine a cartoon that featured not one major sports star but three! Michael Jordan, basketball superstar. Wayne Gretzky, ice hockey ace. Bo Jackson, a multi-talented superstar from both baseball and football.
These stars combined in ProStars, an odd early ‘90s animation from DIC Entertainment. In this, the three would fight crime, solve mysteries, and help the environment. Unfortunately, this was a carton that aired for a paltry single season in 1991.
While none of the stars did the voiceovers for the show, they did appear in short filmed segments. This consisted of children asking questions, to which the stars would usually give a one-word response.
Oddly enough, the show had some great talent working on it. Producers DIC Entertainment had worked on some of the biggest cartoons of the 1980s. The short live segments were directed by Brad Kreisberg, who would later direct for MTV.
8 Macauley Culkin
After success in Uncle Buck, My Girl, and Home Alone, how could Macauley Culkin have not been given a series? The answer to that dilemma was Wish Kid. In it, Culkin played Nick McClary, a child who tapped his magic baseball glove to make wishes come true.
While Culkin did not play himself, both the character’s likeness and personality were modeled from his on-screen personas. Culkin himself would introduce each episode in a filmed segment. His younger sister, Quinn, even voiced the character’s on-screen sister.
It would not be the last animation to attempt to capitalize on Culkin’s runaway success. Culkin would play the lead in the 1994 movie The Pagemaster. This would attempt to blend animation and live-action sequences. Despite a stellar cast (Patrick Stewart, Leonard Nimoy), it would fare no better.
7 MC Hammer
Celebrity tie-in cartoons never tend to make a lot of sense. However, Hammerman goes the extra mile. First, this cartoon was based on a musician who had not enjoyed that much success. At the time of release, he only had one album to his name.
Second, the cartoon pushed the boundaries of weirdness. The protagonist is Stanley, a worker at the local recreation facility. Once he puts on a pair of magical shoes, he transforms into a superhero known as Hammerman. If that were not odd enough, the leather would detach from the soles of his shoes and begin talking to him.
Sadly, the series seems lost, having only aired between 1991 and 1992. Many of the available episodes are Spanish and Polish dubs. Screenshots and clips have surfaced on message boards, but no known DVD or digital release is available.
6 Gary Coleman
The phenomenon of Gary Coleman is something that is hard to comprehend today. He could be described as the television equivalent of a meme. Despite being one of the highest-paid child actors of his generation, his crowning glory was playing himself, Gary Coleman.
The Gary Coleman Show was a series created on the back of his movie The Kid With The Broken Halo. In this, Coleman voiced an angel grounded on Earth. His aim was to help children with their problems. It was produced by animation heavyweights Hanna-Barbera.
Each episode would focus on Andy, Coleman’s character, as he faced antagonism from a small devil. This would often play on the moral dilemma trope mentioned in previous cartoons. Hornswoggle would always try to get Andy to make the easy—yet wrong—decisions.
For such an odd, out-of-time show, it did manage to sustain a long shelf life. It ran for only one season of 13 episodes. However, it was still being played on the cartoon channel Boomerang as late as 2006.
5 Chuck Norris
Chuck Norris’s Karate Kommandos was a triumph exercise in how far ‘80s marketing machines pushed, yet could be so wide of the mark. On paper, everything about the Karate Kommandos should have been excellent. It featured Chuck Norris. for god’s sake.
Not only did he have an animated series—another one from Ruby-Spears—but he also had a comic produced by Marvel and a tie-in toy line. So, why did the series only last one season then sink without a trace?
The reason is that the concept was not that good or well thought out. Chuck Norris is featured in live-action segments at the start and end of the show, which made it bearable. Between this was an ill-conceived premise whereby Chuck was joined by a “paint by numbers” cast of team members and villains. The imagination was so lacking that one main villain had the moniker of “The Super Ninja.”
4 Hulk Hogan
Rock ‘n’ Wrestling featured not only the Hulkster himself but also a banquet of the best that 1980s wrestling could produce. Imagine a cartoon with Andre the Giant and Roddy Piper, and any child of the era would be salivating at the prospect.
The cartoon featured a team of good guys and bad guys who came into conflict regularly. The problem was that on WWF programming, they would flick from heel to face very quickly. By the time the series aired, wrestlers were already on the wrong team or had left the company. Along with the cartoon came a number of comedy segments filmed by wrestlers of the WWF.
The cartoon was part of a larger movement to brand wrestling as sports entertainment. The era featured a lot of moves to instill WWF wrestlers in other mediums. From music to video games, Rock ‘n’ Wrestling was one facet of a larger, grand plan for WWF.
3 Jackie Chan
Unlike many of the celebrities on this list, Jackie Chan has a history of producing quality products alongside his movies. If in doubt, check out his more than passable history of arcade and video games. Jackie Chan Adventures was his first animation and a criminally underrated cartoon—though some may doubt this conclusion.
Starting in 2000, the series ran for five years until 2005. It had a great premise, whereby Jackie Chan was a museum curator. Finding an ancient, mystical talisman, he sets off to reclaim similar ones that give the wearer the powers of the Chinese zodiac.
This brings him into contact with a host of interesting characters. Some of them were unique, while some were characters from his movies.
The love and care in this program were evident at the end of the show’s live sequences. Jackie did not opt for simple household safety tips or self-promotion. Instead, he would talk about aspects of Chinese history, culture, and beliefs.
2 Roseanne Barr
The last time we heard from Roseanne was when she was axed from her namesake show’s recent reboot for racist tweets. It might be hard for many people who were not watching U.S. sitcoms in the ’80s and ’90s to understand how popular she once was.
Her own show became commissioned due to her appearances on The Tonight Show. This series, Roseanne, was the first real glimpse into the world of the American working-class woman.
Why someone thought this would transfer to a children’s animation show is unknown. Little Rosey was that experiment, and it took a young Roseanne Barr and her friends and placed them in a cartoon. All her friends were child versions of older characters in her central sitcom.
The show only lasted for one season. Rumors are that Roseanne was not happy with interference from network executives. In reaction, a pilot for a second show was scripted. The plot was that Roseanne and her friends would take over a cartoon land to stop the interference of her bosses. It never aired.
1 Pamela Anderson
Pamela Anderson’s cartoon outing was everything that was utterly insane about the early 2000s. Based on Pamela Anderson, the show featured a superheroine stripper who fought crime. Of course, one of the villains was WWE chairman Vince McMahon, and the whole thing was masterminded by Stan Lee.
To understand how it came about, you must look back at the channel it aired on. Now known as the Paramount Network, Spike TV has only recently closed its doors. Back then, it was programming for randy, angst-ridden young men.
In its early days, it faced a court battle with director Spike Lee over its name. It featured male-centric programming, such as Bellator MMA and Bar Rescue. Its launch was to feature a kick-off party at the Playboy mansion, which was later canceled.
Imaginatively titled Stripperella, the show was one of Spike TV’s first original broadcasts. This risqué cartoon played alongside favorites such as Ren and Stimpy, but without any of the humor or wit. Episodes about exploding breast implants and animal rights organizations named ANUS failed to make even a pubescent early-2000s male audience laugh.