The Animated Series That Never Was

The second Jurassic World movie, currently called Ancient Futures, is set to start production in February. But even two months before anything starts, news is starting to trickle in, beginning with the movie’s casting! Of course Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt and BD Wong will be returning, but we recently got the addition of Justice Smith, who you might recognize from Paper Towns.


As you can see, he looks like a young Ian Malcolm, and I’d be endlessly thrilled if he turned out to be Ian’s son (maybe Kelly’s brother). According to Chris Pugh on Twitter and dance2nite on the JP Portal Forums, “He is reportedly playing a young scientist/system’s architect named “Clint” who who gets roped into being hired by Masrani Global & hitting a field exercise against his own intuition along with Claire & Owen.” Whether this is true or not, Clint has the potential to be a very, very interesting character– he sounds a bit like Lowery with a little more action thrown in. Toby Jones and Rafe Spall are in talks to join the movie as well, and auditions for the major role of Lucy have reportedly come to a close. Soon enough, we’ll have a near-complete cast list, and hopefully more character details will come out soon after. I’m incredibly hyped for filming to begin and to get back into the cycle of news and speculation that made all of our lives so interesting during the leadup to the first JW! I’m also excited for everyone who joined the fandom after JW came out; they get to experience the excitement of waiting for a new movie for themselves. All of us are going to have such a blast over the next year and a half.

But just as the first inklings of the new movie came out, we also got an unexpected glimpse at the beginning of the trilogy– a part of it that almost happened but never came to be. Everyone lamented the missed opportunity when concept art for the planned Jurassic Park animated series came out, and while we’ll never get to see an actual episode of it, now we know how the series would’ve gone and what might have been. A synopsis of each episode of the planned first season was recently released, which was previously only available to our dad Steven Spielberg and a few select others, but was found and transcribed for us by Chris Pugh of Jurassic Outpost. Even though only the basic concepts of the episodes are written out, the outline is riveting and full of possibilities; it’s too long of a document for me to inspect piece by piece, so read it first, and I’ll cover the parts that intrigued me the most.


The concept art for Hammond in this series made him look much more like the formidable, cunning, decidedly less grandfather-like version of him from the original novel. This series seems to stick with that interpretation. Movie Hammond was moved by the loss of life and saw the error of his ways, but here he just bounces back and immediately begins amending his scheme, and as we see later, he manipulates both the government and the people who trust him to do so. Another noteworthy thing here is the idea that the island’s population wouldn’t survive with the herbivore-to-carnivore ratio that it had when he left it; that’s an idea that was only officially introduced to the series two years later in the second novel. This outline holds a lot of ideas that either influenced or predicted things that would happen later in the series, in both the novels and movies.


In this show about dinosaur theme parks and smuggling prehistoric lizards through airport security (more on that later) this is the part that I find the least plausible. The script says that the original trio has their reservations and is haunted by what happened at the park, but Hammond still convinces them to go back and live on the island. Hammond is shown to be a pretty convincing guy when he manipulates people, and Alan and Ellie are still in love with dinosaurs deep down and might be swayed, but never in a million years do I see Ian being convinced to do this. It would take some pretty clever writing to make that believable.


There’s two Lost World precursors here for the price of one: the idea of Dino Wranglers with special vehicles for dinosaur capture (definitely not just to sell toys or anything, of course not) and the last name Burke, which ended up being given to Richard Burke in the second movie. I wonder if Linda Lee would’ve also been a veiled dig at Robert Bakker, and if she and Richard would’ve been related.





Episodes 6 through 16 deal largely with a subplot about BioSyn and its competing theme park, DinoWorld, whose structure and ultimate demise bear a striking resemblance to Jurassic World. I wonder if the fourth movie would still have had the plot that it did if this series had aired and evidence of a park exactly like it ending in disaster had existed in canon?

The plots of these episodes are so similar to the first act of the Lost World movie that it’s almost certain that the scripts and outline for this series influenced the movie’s plot, possibly as well as the second novel. A rival team of dinosaur hunters, planning to steal animals from the island to start their own theme park and ultimately succeeding, land on the island and compete with Hammond’s group; two young kids stow away, and the adults try to get them off the island but fail; and several other subtle similarities. I’d bet money that Michael Crichton was one of the people authorized to read this outline and took a few ideas from it, and that Spielberg did the same.


An aviary was present in the original novel, and the idea of having aquatic predators in the park was probably tossed around since the beginning, so I can’t really say that this predicted or influenced the aviary scene in JP3 or the mosasaur in JW. I only brought this up because of what a tragedy it is that we almost didn’t have to wait 22 years to see a mosasaur in the franchise. We could’ve had high-quality Kenner mosasaur toys. The queen could’ve ruled our hearts with fear for so much longer.

But then again, I wouldn’t have had the chance to see this in a movie theater and scream myself deaf.


I love angst almost as much as I love Ian Malcolm, so naturally this would interest me, but this would also be a really interesting bit of character development to see play out. I would definitely read a fanfiction that novelized this outline, but I’d also love a story about Ian surrounding himself with computers to hide from the fact that he’s surrounded by the dinosaurs from his nightmares, working on a system he knows is doomed to fail, losing more and more hope every day as he calculates exactly how small the potential for success and survival is.


Actually, maybe it’s a good thing that this show never aired, because these babies are all I would ever talk, think or write about. If you think I’m too obsessed with baby dinosaurs as it is, imagine if there had been episodes entirely about several species of hatchlings being born and played with.

Alas, this is all I have to keep me awake at night.


This show wasn’t meant to be a Saturday morning kids’ cartoon, but Hammond’s characterization being the same as it was in the book, combined with the presence of the compies that killed him in said book, sets the stage for the kind of gruesome death that I would be surprised to see even in a cartoon from the less-sensitive ‘9os.


In true novel fashion, the show would’ve put its plot on hold for a full episode about philosophy. And I can see Alan and Ellie pondering these things, but Ian would promptly answer all of these questions with “Hell no.”


After dinosaurs from DinoWorld escape to the mainland and start killing people in villages, a nod to the first novel, the trio looks over the ruins of the park. This sounds like a precursor to the TLW and JP3 scenes in the abandoned worker’s villages on Isla Sorna, but it also sounds like an interesting idea for a scene in the beginning of the next JW movie. Trevorrow has said that the next film won’t be set on an island, but that doesn’t mean our heroes or the military couldn’t have a quick scene where they walked through the abandoned and overgrown Main Street, possibly being attacked by a raptor pack afterward as a warning to all who would dare infringe on Rexy’s territory. It wouldn’t be essential to the plot, but it could tie the second movie in with the first in the new trilogy, and it’d be a visual treat if done right.


Here’s yet another scene that could’ve lent ideas to both TLW and JW. Is it possible that Trevorrow looked over this outline a couple of years ago? It wouldn’t be a bad thing if he had; it would actually be heartwarming to know that the true inspiration for JW had come from the very beginning of the franchise, and that the new trilogy was partly meant to show us concepts from this series that we didn’t get to see.


After several interesting descriptions of dinosaur attacks, it’s pretty disappointing and seems tacked-on to have that story arc end with this. It also seems impossible– “six or seven young T. rexes, about fifty raptors, a couple of deadly dilophosaurs” all got caught by by a little group of T. Rex Turners, and not a single one of them got gored or met the business end of a sickle claw? The end of the series is well-done, but it would be better to put that off for a little while in favor of a more plausible conclusion to the dinosaurs-on-the-mainland arc.


The implications of rare and exotic dinosaurs escaping to the mainland are somewhat explored here, and hopefully they’re also shown in the next JW movie– it’s a concept that the fandom has speculated on for a long, long time. Also, sneaking a baby dinosaur through the airport is 100% something I would do and risk jail time for.


Other than the baby dinosaur shenanigans, this is the part that most makes me regret that this series never aired. Even from the sparse description here, there’s so much emotion and so many conflicting ideas– the audience, the kids and the original trio all feel somewhat betrayed by the park opening to the public despite what happened in the movie, but it’s also thrilling to see Hammond’s dream come true and a fantastic dinosaur park open to the world. In other words, it’s exactly the way we all felt when it was first announced that JW would feature a fully operational dinosaur theme park. There’s no doubt that this would lead to a very interesting second season. Ian, Alan and Ellie might begin actively working against the park if they weren’t forced under contract to continue working with it. Dodgson might make another attempt to create his own park. When the park started up, Hammond might find that he hadn’t taken as many necessary safety measures as he thought he had, and guests might end up getting eaten sooner rather than later. This series and its ending were so full of possibilities, and it’s a crying shame that this is likely all we’ll ever see of it.

I’m sure I’m with the majority of the fandom when I say I’d give an arm and a leg to see this series produced, or at least watch the trailer that exists in some hidden archive somewhere. If the show had been made, the rest of the franchise might have been drastically different; The Lost World might’ve had a different plot, and Jurassic World would likely have been handled far, far differently because of this show’s example of what an operational dinosaur park would likely look like. If Jurassic World ever gets its own TV series, animated or live-action, I hope it takes a few notes from the JP cartoon that never was.

If you want more Jurassic World while we all gear up for the second movie in the trilogy, take a look at the portfolio of the graphic artist for JW, Ellen Lampl! Cosplayers should take advantage of the Henry Wu name badge. This, of course, is my favorite part:


Eternal thanks to Mike Jenkins for showing me this beautiful look into the more minute details of Jurassic World!


4 thoughts on “The Animated Series That Never Was

    1. Plus he looks to be about the right age to be Ian’s kid, and considering how skeptical about working for the park he is (since he got roped into it) and how smart he must be to work for Masrani at that age, he could’ve gotten both those traits from his dad.

      Liked by 1 person

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