Top 32 Live Action Movies and TV Show Based On Cartoons

Live Action Adaptions of Cartoons


We can all agree that the process of seeing an animated property transition into live-action is fascinating. It makes us feel like the animated characters have been brought to life in the best way possible.


However, this practice can be overdone, and it has resulted in many mediocre projects that were not well-received upon their theatrical release. Live-action films are often more challenging to execute than their animated counterparts because of the wider range of source material.


Unfortunately, they are sometimes not done justice by their overconfident makers. Nevertheless, adapting animated properties into live-action movies has been gaining popularity in the 21st century. While some popular cartoons have been successfully adapted into live-action films, many have failed to live up to expectations and, as a result, do not have the best reputation.


This is why time has not been kind to them either. However, there are still many things to love about live-action remakes, particularly if you grew up with the characters they portray.


Today, Disney seems to be fixated on producing live-action reboots of all their animated features. Unfortunately, many of these adaptations have lost the special elements that made their source material so beloved during the conversion process.


One reason for the same could be that live-action content is confined to reality and budget restraint, which may not always provide the desired result. Therefore, as fans of cinema, it is only fair that we focus on some of the better live-action films based on famous cartoons.




1. One Piece (2023-Present)


One Piece (2023-Present)


Live-action adaptations of anime and manga have had a history of being unsuccessful. However, Netflix’s One Piece has proved to be an exception. The show is inspired by the manga/anime of the same name and follows the journey of Captain Monkey D.


Luffy and his team, the Straw Hat Pirates. The first season of the show covers the early part of the manga and portrays the Straw Hat crew’s initial battles against other pirates.


The show stands out not only because of its visually appealing presentation but also because of its performances and loyalty to the source material, making a connection with its target audience.




2. Ahsoka (2023-Present)


Ahsoka (2023-Present)


Ahsoka is not just a Mandalorian spin-off, it also serves as a sequel to the animated Star Wars Rebels, which ran for four seasons. Fans who have closely followed the series believe that the live-action casting for the characters was perfectly done.


However, it is important to note that the project also incorporated flashbacks to Ahsoka’s early history in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.




3. The Jungle Book (2016)


The Jungle Book (2016)


This critically and commercially successful blockbuster is based on Rudyard Kipling’s eponymous collective works. It is also a live-action animated remake of Disney’s animated film The Jungle Book, which hit the screens in 1967.


The film opened to terrific critical acclaim and box office numbers and was appreciated for its surprisingly good use of CGI elements and a talented star cast delivering solid performances.


Add to that the fact that it provided greater depth to the storytelling when compared to its animated version.




4. Alita: Battle Angel (2019)


Alita: Battle Angel (2019)


Alita: Battle Angel is a movie adaptation of the popular manga series Gunnm by Yukito Kishiro. Robert Rodriguez directed the film, and he set out to do justice to James Cameron’s original vision.


Cameron had decided to focus exclusively on creating sequels to Avatar for the remainder of his career. In his live-action adaptation of Battle Angel: Alita, Robert Rodriguez hit a home run.


The film stood out when it was released and found a unique place in the live-action adaptation subgenre.



5. Cruella (2021)


Cruella (2021)


Cruella is a movie based on Dodie Smith’s 1956 novel, The Hundred and One Dalmatians. It serves as a reboot and an alternate origin story for Cruella de Vil, the popular and eccentric antagonist.


The movie is the third live-action adaptation of the 1961 animated feature film One Hundred and One Dalmatians. Emma Stone delivers an outstanding performance in the lead role, and the movie dives into her character’s backstory, explaining how she becomes both a villain and a fashion icon.


Like most Disney movies, director Craig Gillespie takes several cinematic liberties to entertain the audience. In addition to Emma Stone, the supporting cast, including Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser, and Emma Thompson, also delivers great performances.


The story features four prominent characters: The Baroness, Cruella, Jasper, and Horace, who are assisted by a host of furry friends throughout the movie. These furry friends include a trio of dalmatians, a chihuahua named Wink, and a terrier named Buddy, who play a prominent role throughout the movie.



6. Paddington (2014)


Paddington (2014)


Before discussing the big-screen adaptation of Paddington, it’s important to note that it was originally a British animated show in the 1970s, based on a popular collection of children’s books.


The story follows an amazing but accident-prone bear who is adopted by the Brown family. While Paddington may not be as famous or has sold as much merchandise as Winnie the Pooh, it successfully carved out a niche for itself in a market dominated by the aforementioned seasoned bear.


The live-action movie adaptation of Paddington captured the hearts of many and received overwhelmingly positive reviews from both critics and viewers. Heartwarming and hilarious in equal measure, the full-length feature is often cited as one of the most successful renditions of a cartoon of all time.



7. Christopher Robin (2018)


Christopher Robin (2018)


In the 1920s, A. A. Milne created the story of Winnie the Pooh after discovering that his son, Christopher Robin, was obsessed with a stuffed bear. The story was soon adapted for the small screen as The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, a beloved Disney animated series that ran from the 1980s to the early 1990s and gained a huge following among kids.


The characters became famous worldwide, and the series spawned a lot of merchandise. To cater to the nostalgia of those who grew up with the beloved bear, a group of wise men decided to bring Winnie the Pooh’s heartwarming story to the silver screen.


However, the story doesn’t reimagine the original storyline. Instead, it catches up with the titular character as a grown man who reunites with his old friends. The motion picture is packed with childhood innocence and nostalgia, making it as adorable as it is satisfying.



8. Transformers (2007)


Transformers (2007)


The popular Transformers franchise is based on the Transformers toy line produced by Hasbro and Takara Tomy. The toy line’s popularity led to the production of the American-Japanese animated television series, The Transformers.


The first television series in the franchise aimed to depict a war among giant robots that had the ability to transform into vehicles and other objects. In 2007, the robots were brought to life on the big screen by director Michael Bay, who used the best CGI available at the time to do justice to the storytelling.



9. Avatar the Last Airbender (2024-Present)


Avatar the Last Airbender (2024-Present)


This live-action adaptation of the animated TV series with the same name stays faithful to the original. It features remarkable acting performances and breathtaking special effects. However, the story is more than just that.


We are introduced to the titular Avatar, the central character who has an extraordinary ability to master all bending powers – earth, water, fire and air. We witness his adventures in the project which draws inspiration from both Western and Japanese animation styles, resulting in a beautiful fusion of Native American and Asian cultures.



10. Maleficent (2014)


Maleficent (2014)


Maleficent, directed by Robert Stromberg in his feature directorial debut, tells the story of a kind-hearted fairy who was deceived by her lover, Stefan, and transformed into a vengeful villain.


The movie is closely tied to Sleeping Beauty and offers a more intriguing and morally complex take on the classic fairy tale. Although it is highly entertaining, the film also emphasizes the importance of seeking redemption and forgiveness.


Early in the story, we see Maleficent place a curse on Stefan’s daughter, Aurora. However, she later realizes that the girl is the only hope for peace in the troubled land.



11. Cinderella (2015)


Cinderella (2015)


Starring Lily James and Cate Blanchett as the main characters and the evil stepmother Lady Tremaine, respectively, Cinderella is a remarkable remake of the classic Disney animated film of the same name released in 1950.


This retelling of the timeless tale premiered at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival and was highly praised by critics. The plot introduces us to Ella, who lives with her cruel stepmother and her indifferent and unkind stepsisters who continuously mistreat her at home.


However, her life takes a turn for the better when she unexpectedly meets a charming nobleman who offers her a chance to break free from her miserable existence.



12. Bumblebee (2018)


Bumblebee (2018)


Bumblebee was a much-needed addition to Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise. The prequel directed by Travis Knight is credited with transforming a previously abysmal live-action series/character into a worthwhile big-screen experience.


What makes the movie work is that it retains enough heart and soul from Bay’s full-length features to provide viewers with a taste of what made the original animated series watchable.


The story takes place in the 1980s and is infused with enough charm and action to keep you engaged throughout. The explosions in the movie are a delight to watch and the animated series simply pales in comparison.



13. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)


The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were originally a comic book series self-published by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. They became well-known when they appeared as characters in a popular cartoon series that aired for almost a decade.


The four pizza-loving, karate-chopping brothers gained immense popularity among children, and it was only natural for them to be featured in a live-action film. Because the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles merchandise was selling like hotcakes at the time, the movie was a box-office success and the turtle mania only increased with it.



14. Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022)


Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022)


In the late 1980s, Chip and Dale made their debut on television in an animated series. The characters were inspired by Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones, and the show followed the adventures of two chipmunks.


The animated series was enjoyable and lighthearted, but when a movie adaptation was released in 2022, it had a different tone. The film was a cynical and self-referential take on the animated show, with many inside jokes and references to the animation industry.


Although the movie had some positive aspects, the abundance of animation-specific jokes and gags was a prominent feature.



15. The Tick (2016-2019)


The Tick (2016-2019)


The Tick is a superhero with immense strength but a limited understanding of the world. He was first introduced as an indie comic in 1986 by creator Ben Englund. After the comic’s success, a cartoon adaptation was released in 1994 on Fox.


Due to the character’s unique personality and quirks, it developed a small but dedicated following. The character was later adapted into a live-action series for Amazon, which aired from 2016 to 2019.


The show does an excellent job of portraying “The Tick” as a lighthearted, simple-minded do-gooder.



16. Space Jam (1996)


Space Jam (1996)


This live-action/animated sports comedy film is based on the iconic Looney Tunes cartoon. It showcases the legendary basketball player Michael Jordan getting abducted by Bugs Bunny from the Looney Tunes group.


Now, the man is pushed to play a match to defeat the Nerdlucks, a criminal alien group led by Swackhammer. The film showed Jordan and his profession blending seamlessly with the Looney Tunes characters.


Not only that but the project was also acknowledged for intertwining live-action and animation. It is not surprising then that it went on to become a huge commercial success worldwide.



17. Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)


Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)


Pokémon Detective Pikachu is a live-action film based on the immensely popular Pokémon franchise. It was released in 2019 and became the first of its kind to hit the screens.


As the franchise grew into one of the most popular animes of all time, it was only a matter of time before it received a live-action treatment. The plot of the movie is a classic detective story and it allows audiences who are unfamiliar with the franchise to understand its essence and its well-known characters.


The realistic textures and signature appearances of the Pokémons provided absolute joy to fans who grew up watching the animated series.



18. Peter Rabbit (2018)


Peter Rabbit (2018)


The movie Peter Rabbit is based on a British animated anthology television series called The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends. It features actors James Corden, Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson, Sam Neill, and Marianne Jean-Baptiste in live-action roles.


Although the film received mixed reviews from critics when it was released in theatres, it still managed to become a massive box office hit. One of the things that works best for this live-action adaptation is that it remains faithful to the original series.


It is clever, witty, and heartfelt all at the same time. Additionally, its beautiful animation and Gleeson’s outstanding performance are essential factors that make the movie a success.



19. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)


How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)


Many people are unaware that How the Grinch Stole Christmas was initially released as a 26-minute-long animated movie in 1966. The short film narrated the story of the Grinch, a misunderstood monster who despised everything related to Christmas.


He made a vow to steal all Christmas-related things from the Whoville Whos. As the story gained immense popularity, it became an annual Christmas tradition. It was only a matter of time before it was made into a full-length feature film.


Jim Carrey was a part of the project, which successfully captured the original cartoon’s atmosphere and mood. Moreover, it expanded the Grinch’s world and its characters.



20. Casper (1995)


Casper (1995)


If you have watched the 1995 movie Casper, you might already know Casper the Friendly Ghost. This is because Casper made his first appearance in an anthology series before getting his own show called The New Casper Cartoon Show in 1963.


Despite being a ghost, Casper was a very likeable and lovable character, which is why he went on to star in several shows throughout the years. The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper, which aired in the ’90s, developed a dedicated following.


It was only natural for Casper to make an appearance on the big screen. Therefore, the 90s live-action movie Casper provided wholesome entertainment for families when it was released.



21. Speed Racer (2008)


Speed Racer (2008)


Time for us to allow Speed Racer to speed its way into our story. This ’60s Japanese animated action-packed series was broadcast in the United States in the early 2000s.


In the story, we are introduced to a determined young man who begins racing with the same circuit as his brother did upon his untimely demise. The action-packed series turned out to be an instant hit soon after its premiere and was, therefore, received positively by critics and audiences alike.


A motion picture following a similar plotline was released in 2008, which banked heavily on its special effects and racing car moments to make an impression. Sadly, it failed to live up to the expectations set by its animated source material.



22. Clifford the Big Red Dog (2021)


Clifford the Big Red Dog (2021)


Clifford the Big Red Dog is a popular character inspired by a series of children’s books. Later, it was adapted into an animated series. The story revolves around a young girl named Emily Elizabeth and her giant red dog named Clifford.


In 2021, a feature film was released that aimed to trace the origins of Clifford. The movie showcased how Emily Elizabeth met Clifford and how he grew to be so big.


The movie also explored how the world reacted to Clifford’s presence.



23. Josie and the Pussy Cats (2001)


Josie and the Pussy Cats (2001)


Josie and the Pussy Cats were a popular trio of girls who were inspired by characters from the Archie Comics. They were often seen dressed in skintight and revealing leopard-skin outfits with fake cat ears over their heads.


In the early ’70s, they had their own cartoon show, which was short-lived and cheaply made by Hanna-Barbara. Later in 2001, a live-action Josie and the Pussycats film was released, starring Rachael Leigh Cook, Rosario Dawson, and Tara Reid.


The movie had an anti-capitalist theme, and it aimed to deliver several messages through its storytelling. One of the messages was that the idea of “free will” and the many choices we believe we have are all an illusion promoted by conglomerates.



24. George of the Jungle (1997)


George of the Jungle (1997)


The character of George of the Jungle first appeared in The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show in the 1960s. He featured in one of the three segments of each episode. If you have seen the segments and the movie, you would know George as someone who lives in the wild and has taken it upon himself to protect it from threats and outsiders.


The 1997 full-length feature of the same title starred Brendan Fraser and was appreciated for its faithful representation of the classic cartoon character. It is a fun and engaging family film that is not too sappy or epic.



25. Popeye (1980)


Popeye (1980)


Popeye is one of the most iconic cartoons from the 1930s and tells the story of a sailor with a penchant for spinach and a mean right hook. Originally a Thimble Theatre comic, Popeye has become one of the most iconic cartoon characters in history.


It is no surprise then that his heroic adventures were translated into a live-action motion picture which was released in 1980. The film aimed to showcase the titular hero’s indomitable will and strength, while also exploring his rivalry with the antagonist Bluto for Olive Oyle’s love.


The story was brought to life through the incredible performances of Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall, who both tried their best to capture the lighthearted appeal and comedy that the cartoon is known for.



26. Scooby-Doo (2002)


Scooby-Doo (2002)


Scooby-Doo, one of the most beloved cartoons of the late ’90s and early 2000s, has had many shows throughout the years. The franchise follows the thrilling and humorous adventures of the titular talking dog and his eccentric gang known as Mystery, Inc.


The group enjoys solving mysteries, but they are also easily frightened when danger lurks around the corner, especially Scooby and his friend, “Shaggy” Rogers. The series has been reimagined many times, with several live-action movies added to the already rich list.


However, it is the 2002 live-action movie that stands out from the rest and has, therefore, gone on to become a classic over the years. Matthew Lillard played a fantastic role as Shaggy in the film, which even led to him voicing the character in later animated movies.



27. on Flux (2005)


on Flux (2005)


Charlize Theron starred in this 2005 science fiction action film, which was based on a science fiction action television series that aired on MTV from 1991 to 1995. Despite having a charismatic lead and exciting source material, the movie failed to meet its full potential.


Part of the blame lies with Paramount Pictures, who drastically re-edited the film, resulting in its failure at the box office.



28. Masters of the Universe (1987)


Masters of the Universe (1987)


He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was a popular Saturday morning cartoon in the 1980s that left a lasting impression on the children of that era. Despite lasting only for a couple of seasons, it gained enough popularity to inspire a motion picture.


The story revolves around Prince Adam, who transforms into the mighty He-Man using his magical sword. He-Man fights against evil forces, particularly the wicked Skeletor, with all his strength and power.


Although the cartoon had a significant fan base, the live-action adaptation received negative reviews. However, it was appreciated for its action-packed and adventurous storyline, which was seen as campy by some.



29. Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007)


Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007)


The Chipmunks were first seen making an appearance in animated form in 1961’s The Alvin Show. Since then, the characters have been included in several television series and feature films.


Their importance in popular culture can be gauged from the fact that they have gone on to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The 2007 big-screen depiction of the characters introduces us to David Seville, a songwriter who finds success when he chances upon these singing critters.



30. Garfield: The Movie (2004)


Garfield: The Movie (2004)


Garfield, yet another cartoon based on comic strips, was adapted into a live-action feature in the early 2000s. The animated Saturday morning cartoon, Garfield and Friends, which aired for seven seasons, was its first foray onto the small screen.


Despite not being a very successful cartoon, it attempted to bring the witty and eccentric cat to life on screen. Fortunately, Garfield: The Movie managed to capture the audience’s attention and appealed more to younger viewers than adults.



31. The Flintstones (1994)


The Flintstones (1994)


Known for its unique prehistoric setting, The Flintstones was a popular Hanna Barbera cartoon in the 1960s that derived strength from the unique family value themes injected into its storytelling.


Over the years, the charm of the animated series has failed to diminish, thanks to its set of amazing and highly relatable characters. Since generations have enjoyed the reruns, it was only fitting to give the series a live-action movie, which hit the screens in the first half of the ’90s.


Acclaimed actor John Goodman starred as the titular Fred Flintstone and Elizabeth Perkins as his wife Wilma. Even though the motion picture opened to strictly average reviews, true fans of the cartoon liked how it tried to capture the quirky antics of Fred, his family and his cronies.



32. Tom And Jerry (2021)


Tom And Jerry (2021)


Tom & Jerry is a live-action/animated comedy film adapted from the beloved cartoon characters created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. The film is directed by Tim Story. The story follows Kayla, who is tasked with organizing a high-profile wedding at a luxurious hotel.


However, things take a turn for the worse when Jerry, a mischievous mouse, starts causing trouble during the event. With no other option left, Kayla hires Tom, Jerry’s arch-rival, to eliminate him once and for all.


While the film was praised for its successful blend of animation and live-action, it was criticized for its human cast and lack of ambition.


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