The Movie Where Garfield, Bugs Bunny, The Smurfs, And A Ninja Turtle Team Up To Fight The Ultimate Menace

Cartoon All-Stars is the greatest anti-drug special ever made, featuring Warner Bros. and Disney characters on screen for only the second time in history.

By Sean Thiessen | Updated

ALF, The Chipmunks, and Garfield in Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue

In 1990, an unprecedented cartoon crossover hit the airwaves with one mission: keep kids off drugs. Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue is a half-hour animated special simulcasted in the United States on major networks NBC, CBS, Fox, and ABC. The special’s anti-drug message was delivered with the help of each network’s most popular Saturday morning cartoon characters.

Cartoon All-Stars opens with Corey, a young girl asleep in her room, unaware as her piggy bank is stolen off her dresser. The only witness is Papa Smurf, who rallies the Smurfs to leave the comic pages, waking up versions of Alf the Alien, Kermit the Frog, Garfield, and Winnie the Pooh to help solve the mystery.

The thief is revealed to be Corey’s brother, Michael, who has been smoking marijuana thanks to peer pressure and the personification of temptation, the talking shroud of toxic vapor called Smoke. Michael runs into an alley, cornered by a police officer who turns out to be another cartoon all-star, Looney Tunes legend Bugs Bunny. Bugs takes Michael on a journey through time that shows the youngster the errors of his ways.

As the journey becomes more surreal, cartoon all-stars like Daffy Duck, Huey, Dewy, Louie, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Tigger, and Michelangelo from the Ninja Turtles jump in to help persuade Michael away from his dark path. When Corey is tempted by Smoke to try Michael’s drugs, Michael must make a crucial choice between the health and safety of himself and his family and the drugs that tempt him.

Cartoon All-Stars marked only the second time in history that Disney and Warner Bros. characters appeared on screen together; 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was the first. The bizarre special united major networks behind a moral cause and mutually beneficial promotion for all the cartoon characters involved.

Alvin, Winnie the Pooh, Kermit the Frog, Michaelangelo, and Donald’s nephews in Cartoon All-Stars

Paid for by McDonald’s, the special was animated overseas by Wang Film Productions on a truncated six-week timeline; a program of its length would typically have taken double the time. But the message was urgent, and a later home video release of Cartoon All-Stars even included an introduction from President George H. W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush.

Cartoon All-Stars features “Wonderful Ways to Say No,” a musical number written by Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid songwriters Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. It also marks the first time Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck were voiced by an actor other than Mel Blanc, who passed away in 1989. Jeff Bergman assumed the roles and has voiced the characters regularly ever since.

Several other countries aired Cartoon All-Stars, with Canada, Australia, and New Zealand also featuring messages from political leaders to kick off the show. The special captures a unique inflection point for Saturday morning cartoons and the United States War on Drugs. The landscape of drugs in America has changed since 1990, and this unique gem serves as a brilliant time capsule for animation history.