6 familiar characters who got their own ''spin-off babies'' cartoons

These aged-down adaptations ranged from massively popular to one-season flops

Image: The Everett Collection

The "spin-off babies" boom is immediately familiar to anyone who watched cartoons in the '80s or '90s. Companies figured out pretty quickly that audiences would respond to cuter, younger versions of the characters they already knew and loved. Plus, a "spin-off babies" show could introduce a new generation to familiar characters in a show specifically aimed at children. 

This quickly became a cultural phenomenon — just think of all the shows that have parodied it in some way. In fact, you might be more familiar with some of the parodies than the actual shows!

Here's just six familiar shows that got the "spin-off babies" treatment... some more successfully than others.

Watch The Flintstones on MeTV!

Sundays at 10 AM

*available in most MeTV markets

1. Muppet Babies (1984)

Image: The Everett Collection

Often credited as the series that kicked off the spin-off babies boom, Muppet Babies was inspired by a dream sequence in the film The Muppets Take Manhattan, where Miss Piggy imagines everyone as babies. In the show, the Muppets live together in a nursery watched over by Nanny, voiced by June Cleaver herself, Barbara Billingsley. They use their imaginations to create fantasty worlds, often blended with live-action clips and photography. The show was massively popular and got eight seasons, winning four consecutive Daytime Emmy Awards, and arguably started the whole "babies" trend. The show was rebooted for a short time on Disney Junior in 2018.

2. The Flintstone Kids (1986)

Image: The Everett Collection

Following on the heels of Muppet Babies, The Flintstone Kids is pretty self-explanatory. Fred, Barney, Wilma and Betty (along with puppy Dino) have typical stone-age adventures that range from forming a baseball team to stopping a gem heist. This series is notable for the show-within-a-show, Captain Caveman and Son, where the segments were presented as a show that the kids were watching. Flintstone Kids even got their own anti-drug special, The Flintstone Kids' "Just Say No" Special in 1988, featuring the voice of La Toya Jackson ("La Toya Jackstone".)

3. A Pup Named Scooby-Doo (1988)

Image: The Everett Collection

A Pup Named Scooby-Doo presented the familiar Mystery Machine gang as pre-teens, still solving mysteries together. This would be the last TV show that the original voice of Scooby, Don Messick, would voice before his death. The show was heavily satirical and leaned on the fourth wall — for example, a character named "Red Herring" is falsely accused in almost every episode, or a TV announcer might "interrupt with a special announcement" to point out that Velma just found a clue. 

4. Tom & Jerry Kids (1990)

This was an interesting show. The titular segments featued Tom and Jerry as a kitten and a baby mouse, respectively, and recycled much of their dynamic from the original cartoons with the violence toned down for younger audiences. Other segments included "Spike and Tyke" (though they were not younger) and "Droopy and Dripple" about Droopy Dog and his son, Dripple. Additional voices on the show's four season included names like Tim Curry, Brad Garrett and Sally Struthers.

5. Yo Yogi! (1991)

This unintentional time capsule of a show is peak early Ninties. Yogi Bear is now a totally cool, X-treme teenager along with his friends, who now hang out at Jellystone Mall. They were crime fighters, because of course they were. Magilla Gorilla even appeared as a pop star called — wait for it — "Magilla Ice". It only ran for thirteen episodes.

6. Baby Looney Tunes (2002)

One of the later additions to the "spin-off babies" movement, this show was clearly inspired by Muppet Babies. However, Baby Looney Tunes focused less on fantasy and more on real world lessons and morals for children. June Foray returned to voice Granny, the caretaker of the Looney Tunes. The Tunes were largely the classic set from the original shorts, with the addition of Lola Bunny, who made her debut in 1996's Space Jam.

READ MORE: 9 live-action '80s movies that got cartoon TV adaptations

These cartoons were tubular, radical, and even wicked! And some featured actors from The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days!

SEE LIST

Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

8 Comments

geatornez82 10 months ago
I liked Muppet Babies and A Pup Named Scooby Doo, and mixed feelings about Baby Looney Tunes, however I absolutely hated the others for some weird reason that I don't really know.
Runeshaper 12 months ago
Some of these bring back such good memories: Muppet Babies, The Flintstone Kids, and A Pup Named Scooby-Doo (-:
Kramden62 12 months ago
"Yo, Yogi" was one of the last cartoons NBC aired before changing Saturday mornings into good reasons to sleep in in 1991.
LoveMETV22 12 months ago
Mustn't forget:

Stewie Griffin, Maggie Simpson, Tommy Pickles and of course Baby Huey.
Bricat2001 12 months ago
Crap I remember watching baby looney tunes when I was little XD
AnnaRentzVandenhazel 12 months ago
Manilla Gorilla? When did Magilla Gorilla change his name?????
Apparently when he got into the music business...
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?