It’s hard to believe, but at one point in the Alien franchise Ridley Scott’s acclaimed sci-fi horror was almost adapted into a children’s cartoon
The Alien movie franchise could have been expanded to include a children’s cartoon spin-off. It may be hard to believe, but at one point in the long history of the Alien franchise, Ridley Scott’s acclaimed sci-fi horror was almost adapted for a significantly younger audience.
Since the “haunted house in space” sci-fi horror Alien was released in 1979, the franchise has been through countless permutations, from the tonally disastrous Alien: Resurrection to the infamously hard-to-follow prequel Prometheus (which went on to spawn an entire convoluted mythology for the Alien franchise). But as ambitious as the Blade Runner director’s Alien series is, one thing that the film franchise has never been, is child-friendly. So it’s a surprise to discover the series almost spawned a kid’s cartoon starring Ripley, her Aliens co-stars, and yes, a PG-rated version of the Xenomorph.
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Viewers may never have gotten the chance to see Operations: Aliens (which is probably for the best, given how unfairly critically maligned the PG-13 Alien Vs Predator was). But how did a premise of “Alien, but animated and for kids” ever come to be in the first place? The answer comes down to the 1980s’ love of merchandising, which led one daring toy company to try and create an entire line of Aliens-affiliated action figures (because nothing says child-friendly like a series famous for the gory chest-burster scene). Of course, Kenner Toys, the company behind Star Wars and Jurassic Park tie-in toys, needed a kid-friendly version of Aliens to promote this proposed line of products, which is how the proposed Saturday morning Alien cartoon came to be.
This proposal resulted in animated ads for the toys and an unintentionally hilarious set of tie-in comics from Dark Horse. But (un-)fortunately, cooler heads prevailed as the studio who owned the franchise rights wanted to keep Aliens kept R-rated. Although the cartoon ads were made for Aliens toys, they never aired and the series, like so many canceled Alien projects, never happened. However, the Dark Horse Operation: Aliens comic series did give fans of the franchise an idea of what the proposed Aliens cartoon would have looked like, and it’s exactly as surreal as the description sounds.
Judging by the comics, this proposed animated series would have looked like a cutesy, child-friendly version of Aliens. Zany, goofy, and impossibly unscary, it’s a nonviolent alternative to Aliens which revives the cast of Cameron’s film for G-rated space adventures where Xenomorph are merely a minor concern when they do bump into them. Not only do both the original alien and the alien queen put in appearances in the short comic series, but there’s also a final issue crossover with the Predator franchise which, thanks to the PG-rating of the comics, is even more bloodless and family-friendly than Alien Vs Predator was. Tragically, fans never got to see this “Aliens meets The Real Ghostbusters”-style series on the small screen, but here’s hoping Scott decides to bring back this premise to save the ailing Alien franchise sometime soon.
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