Inspector Gadget was basically Get Smart for the '80s, only Don Adams played a bumbling cybernetic detective constantly rescued by his dog and brilliant niece. It was a simple formula, but it held the show together for one season. And then DIC decreed that if a dimwit character like Inspector Gadget was popular, an even dumber character would be a grand addition to the show.
That character is Corporal Capeman, an eager young buffoon who dresses like a superhero and talks in that lisping, duh-duh voice so enshrined in cartoon acting. Inspector Gadget viewers loathed Corporal Capeman, to the point where they're making amateur MST3K videos about him even today.
4) Keyop from Battle of the Planets
Gatchaman, known to Americans as Battle of the Planets and G-Force, set many standards for superhero anime. Unfortunately, among these was the standard of sticking a kid alongside The Main Guy, The Beta Male, The Woman, and The Fat Guy. Gatchaman had Jinpei, a little spy who wore a duck-hood when the rest of the team had slightly more dignified bird cowls. He wasn't particularly cloying in the original version of the show, but something happened when Gatchaman came to North America as Battle of the Planets.
To be specific, Jinpei was renamed Keyop and given an annoying vocal tic: every other word out of his mouth is a clicking, whirring noise, as though he's attempting mid-sentence bird calls. The rest of the dubbing is acceptably cheesy '70s cartoon voicework, but Keyop just tweets and chirps his way into any viewer's ire. And speaking of Gatchaman's legacy...
3) Copper Kidd from Silverhawks
Silverhawks is remembered today as a less successful follow-up to Thundercats. Of course, in the heyday of '80s toy-toons, "less successful" meant that Silverhawks still had three waves of action figures and 65 episodes of a TV show. It also had Copper Kidd, a gold-skinned lad with a weirdly simian look and the habit of speaking only in computerized noises. That's because he's from the planet of mimes. Apparently kids were just crazy about mimes back in 1987.
The Silverhawks themselves are a bit silly, being metal-suited superheroes who fly through space, shoot lasers from their armpits, and fight villains with Thundercats-reject names like "MonStar." But Copper Kidd stands out as the lamest of them, and that's no small feat in a cast that features a blue-steel space cowboy playing a guitar that turns into a robot bird. No, Lorrimar and Rankin-Bass didn't try any new cartoon-and-toy projects after Silverhawks. Why do you ask?
2) Scrappy Doo from Scooby Doo
Was Scrappy Doo really that awful? Perhaps history is a bit unkind to Scooby's fierce little nephew, added to keep the show on the air in the late 1970s. Considering how one-note every Scooby-Doo character is, can we blame Scrappy for sticking to his tough-guy act? And considering how every monster on the show was a conniving old landlord in disguise, can we also blame Scrappy for attacking them without fear?
All right, so Scrappy's still annoying, and he's funniest when depicted as a bitter little runt in satirical commercials. Maybe it's not Scrappy people hate so much as it's what he represents. He's the perfect example of a sagging, cheaply written show's attempt to freshen itself up by adding a younger, smaller, allegedly funnier version of the main character. Scrappy epitomizes everything repetitive and uncreative about Scooby Doo and TV in general, and that's his true flaw.
1) Daniel from Transformers
As far as kid sidekicks go, Spike from Transformers wasn't very annoying. Sure, he was there just in case children were alienated by giant shape-changing robots, and many episodes focused on Spike instead of Huffer or Skids or Bluestreak. But teenage Spike was good-natured, reasonably smart, and likable enough to date a woman who was already in college. But when the Transformers universe moved ahead a few years, it was decided that kids needed a younger, shriller, and less interesting representative: Spike's son, Daniel.
Surprisingly, Daniel was introduced in the thoroughly violent Transformers movie, which is full of battlefield carnage and hideous robot death and other things that make a kid character a jarring presence. It's especially apparent in a scene where Daniel, outfitted in a mechanized transforming suit, rescues his father from falling into a vat of acid.
Daniel saves his dad, but not before he whines about it and fumbles with his suit. This allows all of the robots ahead of Spike to be dropped in and melted alive, screaming all the way. Nice one, Daniel. Even Scrappy-Doo never got anyone killed.
Tags: Gatchaman, Inspector Gadget, MASK, Mean-spiritedness, Misguided Nostalgia, Sailor Moon, Transformers