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We Were So Close to Getting an ‘Aliens’ Cartoon

I know in some circles this is common knowledge, but I think there are a lot Aliens fans out there that don’t  realize how close they came to getting a Saturday morning cartoon based on James Cameron’s Aliens! Now, to be clear, I say “Aliens” and not “Alien” because the cartoon would have followed a squad of Colonial Marines as set-up by Cameron’s sequel with some characters he created for Aliens, including Hicks and Ripley, returning as main characters.

The idea for an Operation: Aliens” cartoon emerged as production began on David Fincher’s Alien 3, a film 20th Century Fox was sure would be a hit and re-energize the franchise. Only, instead of taking place on a prison planet, the Aliens cartoon would have followed Ripley and Hicks and a group of Colonial Marines battling Xenomorph threats across the galaxy.

Since toy manufacturers like Hasbro had seen great success producing toys for shows like G.I. Joe, Kenner saw an opportunity to piggyback on a big movie franchise and came on board to produce action figures in support of the cartoon. And while the show never aired, the first line of toys did see the light of day in 1993 as shown in this television commercial.

So, what happened to what might have been your favorite Saturday morning cartoon? While there is no conclusive word as to why Operation: Aliens never aired, many believe it’s due to Alien 3‘s disappointing box office performance. It could also have something to do with the show’s baked-in, hard-edged military violence (through violent shows like G.I. Joe and even the Conan the Adventurer sort of disprove that theory for me).

Whatever the reason, no footage from Operation: Aliens has ever seen the light of day. All that remains are a few low quality screen grabs and an evocative piece of concept art.

Special shout out to Bloody Disgusting reader, Forest T-Rex Thomer, who alerted me to this fascinating bit of Aliens history.



  • Golic

    Damn…if only they could have cheapened the franchise even more with a kids cartoon. *rolls eyes*

    • william Stalker

      Well the Toyline existed so …………..

      • Golic

        Yup, that was bad enough.

        • Bran

          That toyline was awesome. At least for Series 1 and 2. It helped introduce me to the franchise.

  • Grimphantom

    I’m surprise no one try to make a cartoon of Aliens especially today’s cartoons where they can make that possibility and make it even with death and violence. Adult Swim and Netflix are good candidates……just need to see how well the Castlevania cartoon will turn out tho…

    • Nahuel Benvenuto

      an adult animation mini series of Aliens Versus Predator would be amazing

      • oh_riginal

        As long as it is based on the original comics, and not on the Paul W.S. Anderson franchise.

  • THGrimm

    Gotta love the Xenomorph tribute in the Monster Mash cartoon movie haha.

  • SlimPickins420

    what was the cartoon called that had xeno like green creatures driving around in buggies? something about “the neutral zone” on earth where people would go on missions in their own buggies….

  • Khy

    Even Mortal Kombat had a Saturday morning cartoon. 90s toons rocked

    • The Fucked Up

      There’s only one cartoon in the 90’s that counted, and that’s Cow & Chicken!

  • Charles Cumella

    I had all those toys and mini comics!! A cartoon would’ve been amazing!

  • Hugo Leonardo Arevalo

    this shit would be awesome. Damn, one more reason to hate Alien³.

    • Chance LeBoeuf

      ALIEN 3 IS FINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Seriously, that film gets way more hate than deserved.

      • Peter Campi

        Actually, Alien 3 gets just the hate it deserves. But, now that it, Resurrection, and, subsequently, Colonial Marines are no longer canon, there’s really no longer any reason to bring it up any more. Now we can focus on our hate of Damon Lindelof and his horrible writing and praise Fox and Scott for banning him from the rest of the franchise.

        • F. This

          Do you not like it because it took away the warm and fuzzy end of Aliens?

          • Aaron Johnson

            I hate it because it ruined what could have been an awesome franchise. It made Ripley’s mission at the end of “Aliens” completely worthless. They didn’t have to kill off Newt and Hicks in such a meaningless way and then linger over their damn corpses the way they did. I mean we even see and hear a disgusting rib-cracking autopsy on Newt. It’s not necessary and it felt incredibly mean-spirited. I believe the reason they did it the way they did is because SW said she would only play Ripley again if she got killed off. Fat lotta good that did. If she woanted to leave, she should have been killed off and let some new butt-kicking blonde chick take over the role of Newt.

          • F. This

            As I understand it, the original script by William Gibson focused on Hicks and Bishop but the idea tested very poorly as no one wanted to see a movie without Weaver. Still, I think your point is that of most; that it killed off any good vibes from the end of Aliens. Me, I love it. Pure cosmic horror that has no regards to your (the royal your, not you personally) happiness.

          • Peter Campi

            No, I actually gave Alien 3 the benefit of the doubt on my first viewing. I watched the recommended Assembly Cut (as I was on a roll with a marathon of the first 4 movies), but it still let me down, and killed the mood to even finish the marathon. The film has the slowest pace out of the original 4, which is surprising because it’s also the shortest! Worse still is costumes (the commandos used to look cool, until I got a better look at their masks, and then there’s the guy with a bird cage on his head). Not only that, the soundtrack is really off for an Alien film, this is due to the composer not having a finished product to work with (thus he took inspiration from elsewhere). There was also no reason to get emotionally invested in any of the characters; they were just canon fodder for this slasher flick (which set the precedent for Resurrection). The final script itself is a mess (the horrible theatrical editing only makes it worse), and you start to lose any semblance of benevolence towards the film when you discover that first script was better (like worth of the title “Alien” better).
            Although the miniatures and sets are typical of a big production film, the scene with the rod puppet Xeno on the ceiling was horrible (people to this day still think that it’s CGI, now that’s embarrassing!)

            Oh, and speaking of endings, Alien 3 ripped off Terminator 2: Judgment day (which released the year prior). It’s amazing how dependent A3 is on Cameron’s movies, it’s like it cannot exist independently of his work!
            It should also be noted that the director, David Fincher, hates the movie because he was being treated poorly by Fox and has been on the record stating that his experience with Alien 3 was the worst way ANYONE could start off in the movie industry. He distanced himself so far from the film that the 2003 “Assembly Cut” was actually done by the execs (which is why it still contains some grievous mistakes).
            Well, that covers about half of my problems with the film.

          • F. This

            That is a well thought out opinion of the film. I agree that the rotoscoping for the puppetry has not held up well and fully understand why people dislike Alien 3. I love it, even more than Aliens but I know I’m in the minority. I feel it gets a bad rub because it killed off the “happy ending” of Aliens. Fincher turned a pile of shit into gold, any other director and the movie would have fallen apart under the weight of Fox’s interface. The score is fantastic and I listen to it a lot but it does not quite fit an Alien film.

          • Aaron Johnson

            I absolutely love just about everything Fincher has done. I’m so glad this didn’t stop him from continuing his career.

      • nicholasmwalker

        alien 3 is great… really i like all of them even resurrection. the avp movies left a bit to be desired but the alien series is great as a whole

      • F. This

        I know I’m in the minority but I love Alien 3 more than Aliens. It brought it back to cosmic horror and was bold enough to do something most films would not have the balls to try. Ruin all hope, kill beloved characters, and make the new people a band of rapists and murders…Then force you to like them by the end.

    • RJ MacReady

      I somewhat agree. Alien 3 as a sequel to Aliens can’t remotely compare and killed off beloved characters in a dumbass fashion. I think it is actually is a pretty good and atmospheric movie however, and would’ve been a cool stand-alone movie with the prisoners vs the Alien/s.

  • Yeah, pretty inappropriate source material for a kid show. “Now with chest-bursting action! And for a limited time, get a free vagina spider face-raping facehugger!”

    That said, I’m a huge Alien franchise fan.

    • Chance LeBoeuf

      Back then, that kind of stuff was pretty normal. They made more kid friendly adaptations out of anything. It happened to Robocop, Conan, The Toxic Avenger, etc.

      • Nekrim

        Yeah I remember back then I used to see those characters from movie posters and ads in magasines etc and couldn’t help but think that those characters looked really cool despite never having seen the films they are from. In some instances I even got the toys before even seeing the motion picture later, when I was at a more “apporiate” age lol.

      • nicholasmwalker

        don’t forget the crypt keeper!

  • Coogar Krieger

    Glad it never got made. Shit like this is why Ridley Scott is keeping Alien all to himself now.

  • Mike

    NECA Toys is doing some really cool updates of some of those old Kenner figures.

  • It would been amazing!!

  • AdamX

    Conan the Adventurer was my shit growing up.

    Also how did Freddy never get a SMC if Aliens and even MK did?

  • This might be great if it was made today, probably would have been terrible in 1993 – like Roughnecks with awful traditional animation instead of awful CGI.

  • nicholasmwalker

    well this article clears a lot up for me. i always thought that those toys were supposed to be in conjunction with the alien 3 movie (it never occurred to me that it says alienS right on the packaging) and therefore i always thought it was weird that they had all these varieties of xenomorph that weren’t in the film. i had just chalked it up to the toy companies creating new aliens and characters to sell more toys, but now it all makes sense.

  • oh_riginal

    Ah, I had a few of those toys. Wish I had kept them, but I played with them like there was no tomorrow, despite constantly wondering why the aliens didn’t always resembles the aliens from the movies. Pretty sure they vanished in a yard sale or something.

  • oh_riginal

    Of course Aliens could have had a Saturday morning cartoon! Even the Killer Tomatoes had a cartoon at one point, and I liked to watch it! Saturday mornings were the best. So many options, so many channels.

  • RedNeoCon

    This shit drives me nuts.

    If ALIENS is revered that much and everyone is just batshit crazy about it, then surely there would have been a better/more sequels.

  • Geno1987

    I say we make new movies about the Colonial Marines fighting off the Xenos as stand alone sequels to Aliens only.

  • Richter Belmont

    It probably would’ve turned out as good as The Highlander cartoon which was awful. If they made it the quality of The Highlander anime, on the other hand, it would of been incredible.

  • Ecto Elf

    Screen grabs! So they actually made the show, just never released it? Release the whole series now on DVD and I will buy it. It looks awesome!

  • Tiger Quinn

    About as silly as you thinking that cartoons are for Saturday morning.

    • Wil McMullen

      Cartoons are for any day, any time actually. However an Aliens cartoon seems a bit silly.

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