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.