The Dorklyst: The 8 Worst TV Shows Inspired By Videogames In Television History

By John Spiers and Rachel Rubin / May 1, 2012

4. Donkey Kong Country

It's no secret that Donkey Kong was never the cuddliest character in Nintendo's arsenal. Though his red tie is plenty adorable, most people have had trouble getting over his past history of kidnapping and child abuse. But video game DK looks like Curious George in comparison to the hulking mass of nightmares that is his CGI TV counterpart.

It's hard to decide on the creepiest part of Donkey Kong from the Donkey Kong Country cartoon. Is it his pop out eyes that see straight through your soul to your deepest fears? His bulging muscles that make you question the validity of natural selection? His smooth R&B-esque singing voice that makes you long for him to serenade you on a sunset cloaked beach? Because he sings, you know. All the characters do. Twice per episode.

And the worst part? The songs are actually kind of catchy.

3. Super Mario Bros. Super Show

SMBSS was the uncanny valley of Mario shows, as all of the familiar elements of the games were indeed present, but twisted in perverse and horrible ways. Each episode began with live-action Mario and Luigi rapping over an animated cartoon, and proceeded to feature the two actors in an actual set, performing skits that had little to do with Mario and even less to do with making sense.

Plots included such subjects as entering a contest to see who could best imitate Elvis Presley, the visiting of 'Aunt Lugina' or the pair's hillbilly cousins (played by the principle actors in drag), and similar inane events. After your brain was sufficiently destroyed by that segment, the cartoon half would kick in- often based around pop culture parodies, including characters like 'Slime Busters' and the 'Provolone Ranger.' Seeing as that wasn't enough to break viewer's spirits, an episode was released focusing on King Koopa kidnapping Milli Vanilli and forcing them into a private performance. In the clearest and most concise argument ever made for Mario being a villain, he rescued them- and this was months after the lipsynching scandals.

The show's influence wasn't lost on the series, this being one of the first times Birdo was shown to be female, but the three prosperous, insane years of the show finally ended in 1991.

2. King Koopa's Kool Kartoons

Unlike the Super Show, Kool Kartoons was unique in that it was the result of a local Los Angeles broadcasting station's obtaining of the Mario license. As you can imagine, KTTV Fox 11 was hard pressed for money after the sheer financial expenditure of just getting King Koopa on their show, so a sort of Bozo the Clown meets Nintendo meets unwatchability approach was deployed.

The actor, clad in rubber suit, would parade around in front of an audience of children wearing "Koopa's Troopas" hats. Prizes would be given out to the kids, games would be played, and it was related to Mario in only the most tangential manner. The bulk of the show was taken up by public domain cartoons from the 20s and 30s, as a part of what I can only assume was Koopa's insidious plan to corrupt our youth by driving them into a murderous frenzy of boredom. The show never really got distributed beyond its Southern California base, partly because it sucked, and partly because no investor is going to want to be associated with the KKKK.

1. Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda is widely regarded as the pinnacle of gaming glory from Nintendo – really from any gaming company that's ever created anything, ever. In these highly revered games, Link is a strong and courageous hero who valiantly rescues the Princess Zelda (along with the entire kingdom of Hyrule) from the forces of evil out of the sheer goodness of his heart. Thankfully, the TV writers didn't stray too far from the source material for their adaptation.

Just kidding. Of course they did.

The main characters are still named Link and Zelda, but the resemblance starts to fade around there. Link, the hero of time, has morphed into an immature jerk whose only purpose in existence is getting Zelda to kiss him. His infamously grating catchphrase "EXCUSE ME, PRINCESS!" has been manna from heaven for a whole generation of meme creators.

The plot of the show isn't much better. It's not just bad by TV show standards; it's bad by the standards you'd apply to getting repetitively hit in the face with a crowbar. In one episode, Link turns into a frog. In another, the king of Hyrule decides to build a water park. Seriously, that's a thing that actually happens.

Unsurprisingly, Link was excused after a single season.

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