Rank and File: G.I.Joe Animated! (From worst to best!)





"He'll fight for freedom whenever there's trouble", you can bet your ass, G.I.Joe is there! And not as just an action figure line, but also in other mediums like say, comics, films and mostly, animation!

What started out as a intention and sole purpose to market and promote the reimagined toyline; A Real American Hero, has become a pop culture staple and the most popular of Hasbro's signature product. So, in honor of its 35th anniversary which passed of this writing, I'm dedicating this segment of “Rank and File" toward the past animated series of G.I.Joe. 

Rank and file, meaning me listing the worse to the absolute best!

7. G.I.Joe  1990 (DIC)


After G.I.Joe the movie came and went, Hasbro decided not to pay for any more episodes produced by Marvel Productions. Y'know, the animation studio that helped to launch the success of the ARAH.
Anyway, the series is the worst of the G.I.Joe franchise with poor quality animation, dumbed down dialog and not to mention a lame ass intro. There was a scene where general Hawk, the Joes' team leader, played a game of Pattycake to defeat Cobra Commander that had me facepalm with a painful groan. I loathe this series and even the 2-part anti-drug episodes were handled poorly. Fuck this series!

The only saving grace goes to Konami using an updated theme for the series in their excellent 1994 videogame.

6. Sgt. Savage and his Screaming Eagles 1994 ( Sunbow Productions and Graz Entertainment)



As soon as the ARAH line was discontinued, Hasbro developed a new one shot animated feature and toyline in it's place.The titular character is a World War 2 soldier fought against what resembles an  ambiguous army of Nazis. After a failed mission, the Sarge is frozen in time, only to be revived decades later to have newfound superhuman abilities and form a new squad while going up against his old nemesis Blitz! Sounds familiar??


Savage despite having cameo appearances from both General Hawk and the head "Snake" himself, is a very uninspired project. There's no originality to be found and everything that was shown has been done before, but much better! I.e. salvaged retrofitted vehicles to a Dirty Dozen-esque squadron.
I can see why this line never managed to survive long-term. The animation, although better quality than the DIC series, still leaves much to be desired. Those few fans of this grunt look no further!
He's recycled for a future joe series. (Read below)


5. G.I.Joe Sigma Six 2005 (4Kids Productions and animation courtesy of Japanese studio Gonzo)



Now here's a tricky selection. On one hand the animation and character designs are appealing, but that's a given when you notice that the animators themselves, are Japanese. Yes, Sigma Six is what could be interpreted as a G.I.Joe Anime, but without the usual trappings or tropes often found in the medium. And that's why I never cared for this series. Instead of more credible action and combat sequences,  here we have a standard Saturday Morning 30-minute commercial marketing this reemerged toyline. The overall narrative is Man vs machine so, you won't be witnessing any human beings getting zapped by lasers or punched out. What a waste of good animation.



Yes, I am aware that most G.I.Joe cartoons were used as marketing however, S6 lacked that finesse found in the latter rankings of this list. And that intro theme "Be a hero." was annoying as fuck!
Coulda been a contender. 

4. G.I.Joe Extreme 1995  (Gunther-Wahl Productions/Sunbow)



After the clusterfuck that was Sgt. Savage, Hasbro decided (Again!) to reboot the franchise both toy and a new animated series called G.I.Joe Extreme. While the concept is cool, (A Post-Cold War futuristic setting where collapsed government factions emerge as a terrorist organization known as SKAR led by its fascist leader Iron Claw) the execution leaves much to be desired.
The Joes although having diverse codenames, attributes and designs, to some extent, resemble the Joes of old. The leader archetypical blonde team leader is a spitting image of Duke, Mayday resembles Scarlet and worse of all, Black Dragon is a shameless rip-off of a certain black clad silent Ninja. Oh, and there's Sgt. Savage in case anyone was asking.



This is self-plagiarism at its most unapologetic. The other characters like, Metalhead (No, not the Metalhead from the DIC series, but a Headbanger/hacker.) and Wreckage were lame, while the live action pre-intro segments fared worse than those cheesy live action G.I.Joe commercials from the 90's. As for the animation itself, it was mediocre nonetheless still much better than the horrible DIC series. Extreme is no doubt a guilty pleasure to this Joe fan and with it's concept, it could have been  a  serious option to revive the G,I.Joe franchise. I have a soft spot for the intro however.


3. G.I.Joe Renegades 2010 (Hasbro Studios)



Okay, here's where we break the losing streak somewhat. Renegades premise while inspired by of all things, the A-Team series, is a decent effort for a G.I.Joe reboot.
It seems that our Real American Heroes are on the lam while trying to expose Cobra to the mass public.Despite the bland character designs and art style, I thought Renegades wasn't too bad, in fact, it was enjoyable courtesy of character development and unique scenarios.
There's even a death of a major character during the series, which unlike Extreme, only lasted for one season unfortunately. 

2. G.I.Joe Resolute 2009 (Hasbro Studios)



At last, we finally get to see a series that really captures the spirit of G.I. Joe! And by that, I meant, Larry Hama's vision mixed with the original animated series, that we all know full well. Resolute doesn’t skimp when it comes to violence or dangerous scenarios.The tone is akin to a Tom Clancy film while the story itself brings about a cathartic conclusion between Joe and Cobra.



Resolute is less flash but far more substance than most of the aformentioned series and even live action adaptations! It's devoid of sugar coated action scenes and is more of a PG-13 Joe series.
Snake Eye's infiltration of a Cobra compound must be seen to be believed!
Resolute is not only superior to 1987's G.I.Joe The Movie, but much better than the live action films as well. Joaquin Dos Santos and comic scribe, Warren Ellis shows how it’s done!


1. G.I.Joe A Real American Hero 1983 (Hasbro, Sunbow, Marvel Productions, Toei Animation)




And I have saved the best for last!
This is perhaps the very first animated series based on an action figure toyline.  As if the comics weren't enough, Hasbro and Sunbow decided to go forward when marketing their flagship line by striking a deal with Marvel Productions starting with a Five-part miniseries and the critical results were unprecedented like never!
G.I.Joe A Real American Hero, helped to pave the way for numerous animated series based on toys and its a well-orchestrated program  rich with nuance for a "Kid's show".


Take away some of the brilliant animation for that time, and you still have a show ripe with material that includes subtle social commentary as well as foreshadowing today's topics be it terrorism, social engineering via media, climate change or even a hint of bitcoin currency.
Sure, some of the content may seem offensive to a few viewers, but you at least have an idea that the Showrunner Steven Gerber, was attempting to broaden the viewer demographic and it worked! Both kids and adults, became fans throughout its five-year span if you count the miniseries and the movie.



Unlike the horribly kiddified Masters of the Universe, G.I.Joe was not afraid to go there be it unrestricted violence, death, xenophobic scenarios or even a bleak dystopian story that mirror X-Men's Days of future past! 

Joes' primary foe, Cobra is practically the Legion of Doom with each major baddie possessing different abilities and in the case of Zartan, unique powers! Of course, I can’t neglect to mention the main villain- Cobra Commander!


The mastermind behind the "ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world " (voiced brilliantly by the late Chris Latta.) is hell bent on global domination and of course, the destruction of G.I.Joe via elaborate schemes from a MASS Device, giant water robots, mind controlled people and animals, weather dominators, genetically engineered empowers and even dinosaurs which was conjured long before Jurassic park came into existence!



As the series progressed, there were a few bizarre concepts throughout the two seasons i.e. Aliens, ghosts, magic swords, skeletal warriors and of course, an underground civilization of reptilians.
Um, yeah.

That being said, when you have amazing animation storyboards, talented voice actors and not to mention those catchy intros and Public Service Announcements as bookends, G.I.Joe is the animated series that went against the normal confines of program restrictions!

Now you know and knowing is half the battle!



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