8 truly surreal Saturday morning cartoons based on popular TV shows

Who remembers 'ALF Tales' and 'The Dukes'?

Image: The Everett Collection

From talking sharks to Gary Coleman as a guardian angel, Saturday morning cartoons can be pretty out there. However, some of the stranger animated series of our youth were the ones based on popular primetime shows. Even M*A*S*H inspired a colorful cartoon called M*U*S*H

Here are some of the more obscure and unlikely attempts to turn a hit sitcom (or action series) into silly weekend entertainment for the kiddies.

1. ALF Tales



As it was centered around a cute, furry, wise-cracking alien, the 1986 sitcom ALF itself was a blast, and lent itself well to a cartoon. Indeed, ALF: The Animated Series kicked off a year later. Then, in 1988, that cartoon had its own spin-off, ALF Tales, which was too overly conceptual for kids. Tales poked fun at traditional fairy tales, while simultaneously spoofing movies, like the "Cinderella" episode that played out like a 1960s Elvis movie.

Image: Warner Bros. Television

2. Laverne & Shirley in the Army



Marshall and Williams actually voiced their animated incarnations for Laverne & Shirley in the Army, which appeared on Saturday mornings in the fall of 1981. It being a cartoon, the plots got quite surreal, as the two military newbies faced off against aliens, werewolves and Bigfoot. Commanding over them was Sgt. Squealy, a talking pig, who was voiced by Ron Palillo — a.k.a. Horshack of Welcome Back, Kotter.

Image: Hanna Barbera

3. The Dukes



As The Dukes of Hazzard headed into its fifth season in 1982, production hit a major bump in the road when stars Tom Wopat and John Schneider walked out over salary disputes. So the network did what networks did back then — replaced the main characters with new leads. Hey, it worked for CHiPs. Enter Coy and Vance Duke. Oddly, this is when the show launched its animated spin-off, The Dukes. So the cartoon also focused on Coy and Vance, at least in its first season, until Wopat and Schneider came back to work the next year.

Image: The Everett Collection

4. Little Rosey



This obscurity was indeed based off the popular sitcom Roseanne. However, though Roseanne Barr produced the series and based many of the stories on her own childhood, she did not voice the character of Little Rosey. Canadian actress Kathleen Laskey handled the title role.

Image: The Everett Collection

5. Jeannie



After hanging up his Jedi robes in 1983 (and before donning them again in 2015!) Mark Hamill did a stunning amount of cartoon voice work. He's been everything from Spider-Man villains to a Pooh character. However, way back in 1973, he landed his first regular work as a voice actor with Jeannie, Hanna-Barbera's loose animated spin-off of I Dream of Jeannie. He voiced the lead character, the new "master" to Jeannie, a surfer boy named Corey Anders. Check out Luke Skywalker's singing skills on the theme song!

Image: Sony Pictures Television / Hanna-Barbera Productions

6. Partridge Family 2200 A.D.



Somehow, the singing clan ended up 225 years in the future in a world remarkably similar to that of The Jetsons. In fact, early on, this series began as a Jetsons reboot, with a teenage Elroy and older Judy. Instead, Hanna-Barbera shoehorned the Partridges into the concept, right down to giving them a dog named Orbit.

Image: The Everett Collection

7. That Girl in Wonderland



Marlo Thomas took her chic city character Ann Marie from the Big Apple into a cartoon Wonderland in this odd ABC Saturday special. Animation giant Rankin-Bass produced this unlikely spin-off, which also placed "That Girl" into the familiar stories of The Wizard of Oz and Cinderella.

Image: ABC / Sitcoms Online

8. My Favorite Martians



Seven years after My Favorite Martian was canceled, the idea was oddly revived by Filmation for a cartoon, only this time the character of Martin the Martian was joined by his nephew Andromeda ("Andy") and a pink space dog. Of course, this being 1973, the Martians also strum electric guitars a la the Archies in the opening.

Image: Filmation 

…And there are many more!


There were other classic sitcoms that spun-off animated sequels, such as The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang and Gilligan's Planet. Check out a list of nine more cartoon adaptations. READ MORE

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