Animation is an incredibly diverse art form. As we’ve seen in various TV shows, movies short films, and even video game cut scenes, it can vary widely in style and tone. And so many of our favorite shows bring something completely unique to the table.
Often, animation is relegated to TV, where it’s reigned in by budgetary issues and, sometimes, serialized storytelling. But we figured there may be ways in which various animated TV shows, and even shows with big screen movies, could be suited for the big screen.
Here are 13 Animated Series That Deserve Big-Screen Movies.
13. Young Justice
This show was not a direct adaptation of the DC comic series of the same name. It was actually a representation of the entire DC universe, with the young superheroes as the main protagonists. The team was basically the younger version of the Justice League.
Given the scope of the show, there are all kinds of possibilities for making an amazing, feature-length animated film. Or, with the DC Extended Universe growing and its films becoming more interconnected, there would likely be room for a Young Justice live action movie. Either way, this show was definitely meaty enough to warrant its own movie.
This was an anime adaptation of the manga series of the same name, written by Masahi Kishimoto. It’s had a number of TV movies, but never anything on the big screen. The main character, Naruto Uzumaki, is an adolescent ninja whose aspiration is to become the Hokage – his town’s strongest ninja.
With 72 manga volumes, there’s certainly enough content to fill a feature-length movie. And, it’s a great story of self-acceptance. Naruto has an evil fox who had previously attacked his town sort of mystically sealed inside his body (awesome premise, right?), but he doesn’t know this at first. Once he finds out the truth, he has to learn to understand that it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with him – he’s not evil himself, despite what others may think.
11. Venture Bros.
So how would you describe this show? It’s an action-adventure/science fiction/dramedy. It follows the adventures of Hank and Dean Venture, along with their family and arch-nemesis The Monarch. It’s like Johnny Quest, but weirder.
We’d love to see a feature-length version of this show because it would offer an opportunity for the writers to take the weirdness to a whole new level. You get the feeling that the writers pitch more strange jokes to each other than could actually fit into the show – like there’s a treasure trove of hilarity locked inside their brains. A movie would give them a chance to let loose a bit and up the ante even more.
Based on InuYasha, the manga series written by Rumiko Takahashi, the show follows the life of Kagome Higurashi, a 15-yer-old girl who is transported back in time when she’s dragged into a well. She meets InuYasha, a powerful half-demon, and then breaks a magical jewel, whose pieces disperse all over Japan. Kagome and InuYasha travel around the country looking for the pieces.
Archer is basically a spy comedy series. Think James Bond crossed with Sealab 2021 (whose creators are actually behind the show). The main character, Sterling Archer, works for a spy organization called the International Secret Intelligence Service, and later the CIA (“ISIS” became a… controversial set of letters).
The protagonists are fun but certainly not model citizens. At one point, they even start their own drug cartel. The period is also a little wacky – we see the characters using old technology and making reference to historical events, but also using touch screen devices. The show is funny and quirky. Austin Powers was great, but it would be awesome to see another take on a spy satire.
8. Rick and Morty
The main protagonists are the rude and cynical-but-brilliant scientist Rick Sanchez and his grandson Morty, with Morty’s parents and sister as important supporting characters.
What would make a movie based on Rick and Morty awesome is the scope of the show. In each episode, Rick takes Morty on an insane, bizarre, and dangerous mission in outer space. Their missions are intentionally over the top. A feature-length movie would allow for an even more outrageous adventure. The writers could really take the premise and run with it.
7. Samurai Jack
The show premiered in a TV movie on the Cartoon Network, but hasn’t received the big-screen treatment. It follows Jack (voice of Samuel L. Jackson), a time-displaced samurai, as he tries to travel back in time and defeat the demon Aku. It received a lot of critical acclaim and won four Primetime Emmys. It feels like a cross between anime, samurai movies, and kung fu films.
The show aired on the Cartoon Network from 2001 to 2004, when it was canceled before the storyline was resolved. It’s scheduled to return to the network this year. There have been rumors of another movie that apparently isn’t formally in the works yet – but with the energy behind the show building again, the timing couldn’t be better. Also, the show’s style is highly cinematic and the animation is gorgeous – it would be excellent to see it on the big screen.
6. Kim Possible
It’s Disney, so yes it’s very peppy – but that’s what we love about it! The show follows Kim, a high school student and spy, and Ron, her sidekick/BFF, as they go on missions and thwart the evil plots of Drakken, Shego, and other villains.
What’s great about Kim is that she’s not a superhero, she’s just a normal teen girl, with normal teen girl problems (crushing on boys, getting annoyed by her younger brothers). But it’s her confidence in her own abilities that allows her to do what she does. This show could definitely make for a fun, fast-paced adventure-comedy movie.
5. Pinky and the Brain
One is a genius, the other’s insane. Pinky and the Brain was the epitome of late ’90s Warner Bros. wackiness. It stars two lab rats – Brain wants to take over the world, and Pinky is his dim-witted but good-hearted cage mate and sidekick who tags along for the shenanigans and tries to help, but somehow always screws up and ruins Brain’s plans.
What we’d love to see in a Pinky and the Brain movie is for Brain to actually succeed and take over the world – but only temporarily. For the movie to end with Brain on top would violate the formula of the show, which always finds Pinky and Brain back in their cage at Acme Labs as the show ends. Maybe in the movie, Pinky’s flub would come after Brain has succeeded, making the let-down all the more painful.
4. The Tick: The Animated Series
Based on the comics by Ben Edlund, is to superhero shows and movies what Spaceballs is to Star Wars. The main character is an over the top superhero whose exaggerated dialog mocks the writing style of Golden and Silver age comics. His sidekick, Arthur, is more of a normal guy, even a little meek at times. The show – which won two Emmys – had a bit of an absurd atmosphere, with The Tick fighting villains like The Angry Red Herring and Chairface Chippendale who, as his name suggests, has a chair for a head. It almost feels like something that should be on Adult Swim – but it was kid-friendly and drawn in the cartoonish style that was popular in the 90s.
3. Invader Zim
Like with Pinky and the Brain, this show is great because we get to follow an anti-hero. Zim is a member of the Irken alien race, whose mission is to infiltrate and then invade and conquer various planets. Their social hierarchy is based on height and Zim, who is very short, is arbitrarily sent to Earth. Due to his height, Zim poses as a kid, and the action of the show centers on his attempts to fit in with his classmates. One other kid, Dib, is the only one who realizes Zim is an alien.
The show is funny because of Zim’s delusions of grandeur, Dib’s struggles with all the people who think he’s nuts, and Zim’s alien sidekick GIR being adorably and hilariously strange. In a movie, we’d love to see Zim live up to his delusions and actually get close to preparing Earth for invasion – which would also be validating for Dib.
Daria really is all of us. Who didn’t feel like Daria at some point during their angsty adolescence? The show follows the main character, a snarky teen girl who is so over the silly drama she sees every day at school (and at home). She thinks she’s smarter than everyone else – and she probably is. It was the heyday of MTV.
Recently, Aubrey Plaza starred in a fake Daria movie trailer – and we’d love to see this actually happen. Aubrey would be the perfect Daria. Someone make this happen – now! If there’s a market for Fuller House then there is definitely a market for a Daria reboot.
1. Teen Titans
Teen Titans – both the comics and the original series (we’re not talking about Teen Titans Go, which is aimed at a much younger audience) – is a favorite among a many DC fans. There are some similarities with Young Justice, as both teams are younger counterparts to the Justice League. It’s the perfect mix of darkness and humor. And the characters are all great. We get to watch them battle villains, and also learn about themselves and grow.
There is a movie, Justice League vs. Teen Titans, scheduled to be released to DVD in March, but nothing released to theaters. And as we can see in the trailer for the movie, the animation style is different from that of the Cartoon Network show, so it’ll probably be a slightly different incarnation of the team.
What other animated series would you love to see on the big screen? Let us know in the comments!