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Times That Reboots Of '80s Cartoons Outraged Fans

Over the last decade or so, we've been in the middle of a major 80s revival. While some original films and tv shows, like "Stranger Things," have evoked the 80s through their visual style and some nostalgic homages, other classic 80s franchises have been rebooted and reimagined for a new era. With each day, the list of classic 80s films receiving a reboot grows exponentially, and no franchise is too big or small.

From "The Last Jedi" dividing the "Star Wars" fanbase to the 2016 female-led "Ghostbusters" reboot causing a full-blown war on social media, 80s reboots can spark some nasty debates amongst fans. No 80s reboot is safe from fan uproar, not even reboots of 80s cartoons. Some might think that it's unlikely or rare to see substantial backlash or outrage just because cartoons tend to have younger audiences, but that simply isn't true. Reboots of some of the biggest 80s cartoons have seen some of the biggest outrages from fans, from parents calling for boycotts to fans arguing about character designs. In the age of social media, fan outrage is more vocal than ever before, and these reboots of 80s cartoons have received some loud backlash.

Old school fans roaring with anger over 'ThunderCats Roar'

The original 1985 "ThunderCats" had that kind of tone and style that made younger audiences of the time feel like they were watching a more adult show as it featured sleek and detailed character designs, visually stunning action, and more mature and meaningful story arcs. It's what's made its titular band of cat-like warriors a staple in 80s pop culture and who could resist chanting that classic "ThunderCats" chant? Cartoon Network's 2020 reboot, "ThunderCats Roar," took a hard right turn in bringing "ThunderCats" back for a new generation, and old-school fans were far from pleased.  

Even before the show's release, old-school fans were outraged by the significant changes that drastically went against what made the original show so special. Instead of having a serious tone, "ThunderCats Roar" featured the kind of wacky random humor seen in more modern Cartoon Network shows like "Teen Titans Go!" and the distinct animation style was traded in for a cuter Chibi-styled animation. While these changes make sense for a new generation of kids, old-school fans voiced their frustration across social media calling the show "blasphemy" and that "ThunderCats Roar" is "what's wrong with our youth" (via Showbiz CheatSheet). Some parents even said that they will do a marathon of the "real" "ThunderCats" with their kids, so maybe there's a silver lining, and the anger over "ThunderCats Roar" will bring fans closer.

Fans call out queer-baiting in 'Voltron: Legendary Defenders'

For many kids of the 80s, "Voltron" was a cartoon cross between an epic team-up show and a stylistic action anime. As the series' central team of space explorers traversed the galaxy in search of new planets, fans were constantly treated to some epic animated moments of the group fighting against gigantic evil forces and eventually coming together to form the super robot Voltron. 

While Netflix's reboot series, titled "Voltron: Legendary Defenders," has generally received widespread praise from critics and fans for its updated animation and intense story arcs, it faced severe backlash surrounding its handling of LGBT characters. Before its seventh season, it was announced that the series would explore the main character Shiro's gay relationship with a previously unseen character named Adam, and fans were more than happy with that news.

Unfortunately, fans felt queer-baited since Adam was barely given any screen-time before his swift death. Their outrage and anger over the matter caused series writer Joaquim Dos Santos to pen a heartfelt apology (via Digital Spy). "I'd like to say that we created this version of "Voltron" with the intention of being as inclusive as possible within the boundaries given," said Dos Santos in his letter to fans. "The fact that there is a vocal audience demanding for the conversation to be pushed farther and faster is ultimately an incredibly positive thing and a lesson we'll take moving forward."

'Masters of the Universe: Revelations' causes major division and discourse

"He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" is one of the most memorable cartoons of the 80s, and its iconic characters and world have become legendary in pop culture. Fans would tune in each episode to see the heroic Prince Adam turn into the powerful He-Man to defend the magical planet of Eternia from the power-hungry Skeletor and witness some epic fantasy action. Fans had been hoping for a continuation of the original series for quite some time, and the announcement of Kevin Smith and Netflix's sequel/reboot series "Masters of the Universe: Revelations" seemed like their dream come true.

Many loved the updated animation style for the series, mature tone, and surprisingly gruesome action. However, fans were quick to voice their frustration with how misled they felt by the trailers and pre-release marketing. Many were upset over the lack of He-Man, the instant deaths of beloved characters, and the overall approach to the series' story direction. Others, however, began to spew toxic comments towards Netflix and Smith with the excuse of "protecting canon" to express their hatred over the stronger focus of female characters like Teela. Mack Veltman's article on The Geeky Waffle dissects this discourse with "Masters of the Universe: Revelation." While there were undoubtedly understandable gripes, Veltman points out that they often got lost between volatile fans who were angry about their beliefs of "Hollywood's woke agenda" taking over "their" show.

Parent outrage over 'Ducktales' gay dads

"Ducktales" is one of Disney's most beloved cult classic cartoons, with fans loving the hilarious misadventures of Donald Duck's nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie. The series introduces plenty of interesting and easily likable characters that fans still adore to this day. The 2017 reboot of the series has equally found the same kind of adoration from fans. Both old and new fans have dug just about everything Disney's reboot has offered, including the story, new animation style, and how it feels like a bolder take on the series. However, one moment in the season three premiere outraged a small group of parents.

In the episode "Challenge of the Senior Junior Woodchucks," viewers were introduced to Violet's two dads wearing some delightful matching t-shirts with "I'm With Dad" pointing at each other. It's not too hard to figure out that Violet's dads are together in a romantic relationship, and one anti-LGBT social media outrage group called One Million Moms were fuming. In a bunch of rampant messages on their Facebook group, members were calling to boycott "Ducktales" for "pushing an LGBT agenda on their children" (via MetroWeekly). The main fanbase didn't agree and celebrated the small but memorable inclusion of LGBT families.

'Fireman Sam' taking a page out of the Quran?

While the British children's animated series "Fireman Sam" isn't as well-known or widely regarded as other 80s cartoons mentioned here, the original run in the late 80s was loved for its unique animation and promotion of fire safety. However, it's had its fair share of issues as it's headed into the modern era of cartoons and gone through several reboots and redesigns.

Aside from its transition to CG animation rather than the original stop-motion animation in the sixth season, giving the series an atrociously cheap look, one significant incident caused confusion and uproar from fans. During the seventh episode of season nine, titled "Troubled Waters," there's a moment where a firefighter slips on a piece of paper and sends a bunch of papers flying. While fans didn't see it at first, some have pointed out that one of the papers features Arabic writing that some believe is text from the Islamic Holy Book, the Quran.

It was undoubtedly an unexpectedly strange moment that fans took exception to and voiced their unhappiness leading to the episode being wholly removed from circulation (via Washington Post). I guess that the "Troubled Waters" title is fitting in more ways than one.

Fans and parents were not 'All Engines Go' for this redesign

Although "Thomas and Friends" wasn't a straightforward animated cartoon like most others in the 80s, it was a children's series that remains nostalgic and charming. It played out like a children's book unfolding before your very eyes, and the stop-motion aesthetic with real props delivered an eye-pleasing experience that still looks good to this day. Honestly, if you go back and watch the original run in the 80s, "Thomas and Friends" maintains its charm well. Although Thomas the Tank Engine has gone through many weird and memeable redesigns, the latest redesign for a 2021 reboot on Cartoon Network, titled All Engines Go, has upset parents and young fans.

According to an article from The U.S. Sun, parents proclaim that Thomas's updated 2D design is frightening for kids and have stated that their kids are "in tears" over the change. One parent has even compared Thomas's new look, particularly his face, to Dennis the Menace, and some kids have supposedly said they barely recognize the character in this new form. It's no shocker that a modern reboot would change the character design for a new generation, but it seems this change has left parents and kids steamed.

Fans aren't happy about Sweet Pete's real-life connection

"Chip n' Dale: Rescue Rangers" is another 80s cult-classic cartoon from Disney that fans have been begging to make a return for years. Many loved seeing the titular pair of chipmunks solve crimes alongside their eclectic cast of friends and their adventurous spirit. Recently, Chip and Dale returned as Rescue Rangers for a reboot film on Disney+ as a spiritual successor to "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" and fans loved it.

Disney might have just provided one of the year's biggest breakout hits through the reboot's nostalgic and heartwarmingly hilarious antics, but there is one aspect that some fans aren't loving. For those that don't know, the film's antagonist is Peter Pan, who goes by Sweet Pete after being dumped by Disney as he got older and is forced into a life of crime. Believe it or not, this storyline is likely inspired by the real-life tragedy of Bobby Driscoll, the original voice actor for Peter Pan. He fell into a life of drugs and died penniless after being fired from Disney for aging.

While it's an interesting nod to a real-life story that fits with Chip n Dale's meta-textual world, some fans aren't that comfortable seeing Driscoll's story used this way. According to an article in Daily Mail, some fans feel that Disney is capitalizing on a past tragedy they caused. It is a big reason some are ultimately choosing to boycott the film.

Fans felt baited by 'Jem and the Holograms'

"Jem" was unlike most cartoons in the 80s as it traded out sci-fi action for sci-fantasy mixed with music. The series followed record store owner Jerrica, who becomes her pop star alter ego Jem when she's onstage with her band, The Holograms. With its mix of sci-fi fantasy visuals from Jerrica's holographic computer assistant known as Synergy and some solid music fitting for the era, "Jem" has become a nostalgic cult-favorite cartoon of the 80s. Unfortunately, that status made it an easy target for an attempted live-action reboot movie in 2015 that caused the fanbase to become outraged.

It's no secret that the live-action reboot "Jem and the Holograms" has been panned by most critics and nearly the entire fanbase, but fans felt especially duped. Look, "Jem" wasn't this massive mainstream hit like other 80s cartoons, but its distinctive style and music-focused premise made it a perfect time capsule of the era, and that's something that fans continue to love about it. But, as said in Nathan Rabin's article on AV Club, "it's just as silly for filmmakers to take a franchise whose appeal was almost entirely nostalgia-based and alter it so dramatically that it barely resembles the unfiltered blast of 1980s that inspired it." "Jem and the Holograms" was a hollow shell reboot that throws away its unabashed love of the 80s for unremarkable modern beats instead of being the celebration of the era fans would want.

'TMNT' Fans feud with Michael Bay

The "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" are probably one of the biggest breakout stars of the 80s, with the 1987 series still being a fan favorite. In each episode, fans would tune in to watch the Turtles chow down on pizza and fight crime against evil foes like Shredder. The series brought the Turtles into mainstream popularity, but they haven't exactly had the easiest time transitioning into live-action. While the attempt in the 90s films was admirable for the time, fans showed their displeasure and frustration with the character designs in the Michael Bay-produced "TMNT" reboot in 2014.

The Turtles' more realistic look already gave fans bad flashbacks to Bay's "Transformers" films, but it was Bay's comments about the Turtles being aliens rather than mutants that threw some fans over the edge. After Bay had described that the Turtles in the reboot were "from an alien race" rather than be mutants that grew from the toxic ooze, fans were distraught and confused about the change causing Bay to have to make a comment that didn't necessarily quell their anger. In response, Bay said, "fans need to take a breath, and chill" and that he and his team were "building a richer world" (via Collider). Thankfully for fans, the Turtles weren't shown to come from aliens in the final film, and they were the results of a mutagen science experiment. It's not ooze, but it's close enough.

A problematic pair of Autobots

There is no shortage of gripes that "Transformers" fans have with Michael Bay over his slew of live-action films. While the 1984 animated series set a high bar for any adaptation to follow with its iconic characters designs that brought the Hasbro toys to life, memorable story and characters, and unique action, Bay's "Transformers" films were going in their direction and not one that fans particularly were thrilled about. Yes, they had Bay's signature action filled with awesome explosions, but they also had his crass style of humor and more machinery character designs that drifted too far from what fans loved about the series.

There were two Autobots in Bay's second film, though, which upset many fans. In "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," there were two bickering twin Autobots named Skids and Mudflap who come with some banter that many felt promoted racial stereotypes. While they're intended to be comic relief, some fans felt these two were "comic relief in a degrading way" and even called them "Jar Jar Bots" (via The Hollywood Reporter) in reference to the disliked character Jar Jar Binks from "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace." Once again, Bay tried to calm fans down by saying, "it's done in fun. I don't know if it's stereotypes — they are robots, by the way" (via The Hollywood Reporter). Oh, Michael Bay, always putting your foot in your mouth and upsetting fans.

'She-Ra and the Princesses of Power's toxic fans create discourse

She-Ra, the twin sister to Prince Adam/He-Man, was another prominent animated figure in the 80s, starring in her own series, "She-Ra: The Princess of Power." While She-Ra shared plenty of similarities to her brother, she was able to make her mark through her unique power and exciting character dynamics and being a female-centric companion show to "Masters of the Universe." Also, just like her brother, She-Ra received a reboot on Netflix, but unlike "Masters of the Universe: Revelation," She-Ra's reboot was a cut-and-dry reboot rather than a continuation.

Netflix's "She-Ra and the Princesses of Power" was incredibly well-received by critics and fans upon its release. Many praised the series for its visually stunning action and layered character writing. However, one sect of toxic "fans" panned the series before its release for their dislike of She-Ra's new design, among other things. After She-Ra's new design was revealed, it received a lot of misogynistic hate on social media, with some commenters being upset that She-Ra's new look wasn't as "sexy" or appealing to them. Some gave even harsher comments calling She-Ra's new design a "boyish lesbian" (via Vox). The hate hasn't eclipsed the praise, though, and "She-Ra and the Princesses of Power" remains one of Netflix's top animated shows.

Chris Pratt came for Garfield, too

When Nintendo initially announced that Chris Pratt was set to voice Mario in Illumination's upcoming "Super Mario" movie, the internet was laughably confused. Pratt has had a decent career in voice acting with characters like Emmet in "The LEGO Movie" and Barley in Pixar's "Onward," but that doesn't mean he's a great fit for Mario. Seriously though, when you think of Mario's iconic voice, is Pratt really your first choice? For most, the answer is no, and Mario fans were thrown into a state of confusion and frustration. Sadly, they're not alone.

Not too long after the announcement that Pratt was voicing Mario, the entire internet was thrown another curveball when it was announced that Pratt would also be voicing Garfield in an upcoming reboot film. People were already confused about how Pratt was the right choice for Mario, and now, they're equally confused about how Pratt is voicing Garfield. With the "Garfield" fanbase still reeling from the ugly live-action design from the 2004 reboot, they were certainly unhappy about this choice.

Many fans took to social media to voice their displeasure, with one person saying that they "don't want to live in a world where Mario and Garfield are voiced by the same guy" and another calling it "the biggest miscast since Chris Pratt as Mario" (via Independent).