Turbo Teen: An 80’s Morning Cartoon That Caused Nightmares


August 16, 2019

I was scrolling down my Twitter timeline the other day when I came across a tweet about an old 80s Saturday morning cartoon named, Turbo Teen. Because I’m a sucker for obscure pieces of pop culture (hitting people with pop culture trivia I know they don’t know makes me feel powerful), I went a-googling and scarred myself for life.

So now I have to scar you too. Let’s get to scarring.

The very first line of the show’s Wikipedia entry made my head spin:

“Turbo-Teen is an animated series about a teenager with the ability to transform into a sports car.”

I get it. There was a weird obsession with teenagers in most cartoons and movies in the 80s. There was The Breakfast Club, St Elmo’s Fire, and TMNT (they were teens so don’t @ me). The trend even made it into the 90s with shows like Power Rangers and Captain Planet. Another thing people were obsessed with at the time was Cars (thanks to Knight Rider), and this led to some psychopath coming up with the “bright” idea to merge these two things in an attempt to come up with a popular show.

They were too occupied with if they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.

Turbo Teen is about a teenager named Brett Matthews who, while driving his red sports car on a stormy night, accidentally swerves off the road and crashes into (what’s supposed to be) a top-secret government laboratory. In the laboratory, Brett’s car stops in the pathway of the beams emanating from a machine called the Molecular Transfer Ray, and this fuses Brett and his car on a molecular level.

As a result of this fusion, Brett gets the worst superpower since Rogue (from the X-Men). He gains the ability to transform into his fucking sportscar…when exposed to extreme heat and can only return to his human form when exposed to extreme cold. Along with his girlfriend (a journalist), his best friend (a mechanic), and his dog, Brett uses his newfound “superpowers” to fight crime and solve mysteries.

It won’t surprise you to know that this show was cancelled after only one season.

As bizarre as the show’s premise is, what will fuck you up, even more than anything David Cronenberg has thought up, are the unintentionally hella grotesque and horrifying human-to-car transformation sequences which the show’s makers forced viewers to witness in EVERY EPISODE. Check out a video of one of such transformations below:

Everything about this show leaves me with so many questions. Like:

  • How was this greenlit?
  • Was this someone’s fetish?
  • When Brett gets hurt, who does he go to? A doctor or a mechanic. Is that why the writers made his best friend a mechanic?? OH GOD.
  • Aren’t secret government labs supposed to be hella secure? Have you ever heard of people accidentally swerving into Area 51?
  • How much crack had the creator(s) of this show eaten when they got this idea?
  • Does he go everywhere with a flame thrower and freeze gun? (How else would he achieve extreme heat and cold?)
  • How many times do you think Brett has destroyed his house because he made his bathwater too hot and accidentally turned into the car indoors?
  • HOW PAINFUL IS THAT FUCKING TRANSFORMATION?! THAT SHIT LOOK LIKE IT HURT!! OH MY GOD!!!

I’m going to end this with a GIF of the part of his transformation that will haunt your dreams.

All we have to do now is pray to God that no one decides to make a live-action version. I’m talking to you, Michael Bay.

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Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.