But the series I named are far from an exhaustive list. Remember [I wrote:
The Real Ghostbusters[/I]? That wasn't based on a comic or a toy. Nor was Men in Black: The Series. There was also a Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures cartoon released between the two films; The Mummy: The Animated Series based on the Brendan Fraser films; even animated adaptations of the R-rated RoboCop and Rambo franchises, not to mention Police Academy. These things have never been limited solely to comic and toy adaptations.
Still a small list compared to the natural flow of comic and toy based concepts into animation: from the 80s GI Joe
, to He-Man, Monchichis, My Little Pony
(and too many to list here), to the dozens of shows based on DC & Marvel comics from the 1960s-forward, live action film's place as animated adaptations are not all that frequent.
I think you're overestimating the audience interest in a new Trek series as of 1973. I grew up as a Trek fan in the '70s, and I can tell you that although ST did become something of a cult phenomenon at the time due to its success in syndication, it never had the kind of mainstream acceptance that TNG gained. Indeed, science fiction as a whole, in those pre-Star Wars days, was much more of a niche market than it is today. So there was enough audience interest for Filmation and Roddenberry to convince NBC to do the animated show, but interest wasn't at a fever pitch among the public as a whole.
I was around as a fan at that time, too, and TOS--even in the infancy of its syndicated success--was already well known. In fact, the marketing of the show was so heavy, that it had a stronger cultural impact beyond the first-run fans who were more of an exclusive club. Remember, before Star Wars, the news media covered the huge Trek and/or sci-fi cons, and with TOS merchandising exploding in the early 70s, TOS had captured hearts amongst a generation not born while the series was on NBC.
On the NBC note, networks were and are all about the bottom line:the dollar, and for their interest in bringing back a failed
series is speaks to its growth in cultural power since 1969--a recognition of a broad appeal. If NBC truly believed they were only going to deal with a handfull of ST fans, then a new series would not be in their best interests.
TAS may not have broken all-time ratings records, but I recall serious excitement & interest from numerous ST fans. Even some of the "outsiders" who had become aware of ST, realized that it was a cancelled show from the 60's, but found it interesting that a cartoon based on it was on its way. I think few would deny its crucial part in keeping ST alive as more than just a cancelled series.
Except that SF/fantasy in general is far more accepted as a mass-media cash cow than it would've been 40 years ago.
Agreed, as 40 years ago, only ST and Planet of the Apes broke were elevated to pop culture fame status, and enjoyed a flood of money-making ventures in the ancillary market.
However, the culture of today seems to lean toward very soft sci-fi (Star Wars
) or the various themes under the fantasy umbrella, including comic book characters. Star Trek
now seems the odd man out, where 30 years ago--during the early years of the TOS movie series--it was a strong part of the "fantastic film" roster.