G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero spawned two animated series. Both were preceded by mini-series and both lasted two seasons. While they were produced by two different companies, the stories are meant to be a single continuity.
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 produced a total of 95 episodes and 1 movie.
- A Real American Hero (1983)
- The Revenge of Cobra (1984)
- G.I. Joe (1985 to 1986)
- G.I. Joe: The Movie (1987)
The DIC series
In 1989, DIC Entertainment picked up the animation rights. 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.
In 1994 Hasbro again turned to Sunbow to produce a cartoon for its latest line of G.I. Joe toys, Sgt. Savage and his Screaming Eagles. The single episode made was included with the Commando Sgt. Savage action figure. The exact relationship of the Sgt. Savage storyline to the ARAH storyline is muddled.
- These cartoons follow a "no deaths" production edict and even serious injuries are virtually absent. As such, individuals are rarely shot, pilots always bail out of downed craft, and nearby explosions have little effect on people. Only the most egregious examples should be considered noteworthy for episode articles.
- Similarly, the need to maintain recognizable characters means that the Joes are usually depicted as flying their jets in their ordinary clothing instead of the flight suits that would be needed by actual fighter pilots. Again, this narrative convention of the series is generally not notable.