G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero spawned not one but two animated series, one in the 1980s and the other in the 1990s. Both are preceded by mini-series and both lasted two seasons. While they have been produced by two different companies, the stories are meant to be of one single continuity.
1980s: The Sunbow series
The first series was produced by Sunbow Productions in cooperation with Marvel Studios. Sunbow was responsible for the animated commercials of the G.I. Joe toys and comics. There were two mini-series produced before a full season went into broadcast. A second season followed while a movie was produced at the same time. Following the poor box office performance of sister film The Transformers: The Movie, the movie was never released into theatres and went direct to video instead. Sunbow folded and no other animation company picked up the TV animation rights.
The following, in chronological order, is all the G.I. Joe cartoons which Sunbow produced:
- A Real American Hero (1983)
- The Revenge of Cobra (1984)
- G.I. Joe (1985 to 1987)
- G.I. Joe: The Movie (1987)
1990s: The DIC series
In 1989, DIC Entertainment picked up the animation rights, a good two years plus since the Sunbow series. In following tradition, a 5-part mini-series was produced that picks up events from G.I. Joe: The Movie. A continuing series followed in 1990 and ran for two seasons. Including the mini-series, DiC produced a total of 44 episodes.