I think our kids live in an amazing time as far as how they watch and what they have available to watch. Streaming has changed the world of content consumption, mostly for the better. I was thinking about this as my daughters were sitting down to watch yet another episode, in a row, of Doc McStuffins (Ugh…I guess I’m just not the intended audience). They can watch this show any time they want, thanks to services like Hulu and Netflix and Amazon Prime. It’s amazing. But, you know what they are missing out on? Saturday morning cartoons. Was there anything better than waking up on Saturday, knowing there was no school and then sitting down and watching something totally epic? I submit that here was nothing better than that. That got me thinking about some of my favorite cartoons from growing up, so I put together a list. This list. This is not a ranking, so they will not be numbered (trust me, there’s 10), and it is by no means a comprehensive list. In other words, your favorite may not be on here. Share with us what your favorite was, if that’s the case. Mostly, this list was just for fun. I am not saying these were the best. These were simply 10 cartoons I have fond memories of, hopefully you do too.
This was one of my favorite shows as a kid. It was so cool. If you’re not familiar, Voltron is a giant robot made up of five smaller lion robots, who are piloted by a classic 80s group of misfits, including a princess and the obligatory fat guy who is always eating, but has giant heart (believe it or not, he was always my favorite, regardless of which show this character showed up in). I have heard that the original Japanese GoLion is better, more sophisticated, better stories and everything. That’s probably true, but this version holds all the nostalgia for me. If you don’t know this show, you need to check it out.
I had a killer picture of me dressed up as Lion-O for Halloween. Unfortunately, it was never digitized (to my knowledge), and I have no idea where it is, but trust me it was awesome. I was obsessed with this show for a really long time. Lion-O was of course my favorite, but they were all really cool. Only in the 80s would we have an original show about cat-warrior-people fighting other animal people and an ancient mummy. Of course, the other animal people were always called mutants, but never the Thundercats.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Speaking of mutants, what boy growing up in the late 80s/early 90s didn’t love Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? This was my next big obsession, and really could you blame me? These turtles were teenagers- which is the coolest thing when you are 8-12 years old, they were ninjas- karate was awesome in the 80s, and they were mutants. They were perfect. Again, as an adult, I would probably enjoy the original source material more, but this cartoon is the best version of TMNT, at least in my mind. Plus, how many yellow jumpsuits did April own? I mean she never wore anything else. Ever.
Ok, so the details are a little fuzzy for me on this show, but if I remember right, basically we created these artificial lifeforms, called Neo Sapiens, and then enslaved them and made them do all the stuff we didn’t want to. They decided they were sick of being slaves, so they rose up and conquered the human race. Now a group of freedom fighters are trying to free the humans, and maybe the humans and Neo Sapiens can live in peace and harmony. Who cares about the story, though, when you have E-Frames, which were the awesome exosuits they used to fight in the show. It was incredible.
For a lot of people growing up in the 90s, this was their exposure to the X-Men and superheroes in general. They found out there was more to comics than the Supermans or Spider-Mans. There were characters with whole new levels of depth. None of the X-Men were perfect. They all made mistakes and had a dark side, and I think that made them more intriguing. This series really was pretty amazing as far as the story telling goes. It dealt with some heavy stuff, but that also made it more enjoyable, and it stands the test of time.
Not quite as good as X-Men, Spider-Man was still a lot of fun. It introduced us to Spidey’s whole gallery of villains, like Green Goblin, Rhino, Vulture, and of course Kraven the Hunter. Plus we saw Venom and Carnage, which were always two of my favorite. Like X-Men, this was the only exposure many people got to Spider-Man, or it would be the gateway into comics. Either way, it was pretty enjoyable.
Batman: The Animated Series
You might argue that Batman: The Animated Series is the best cartoon of the 90s, or ever. I may or may not argue with you. It was so well written (usually), and so visually appealing. The animation in this series is some of the best animation ever produced by an American studio. Plus, Kevin Conroy’s Batman and Mark Hamill’s Joker are just iconic. It is hard to top this show. So, with my next selection, I won’t even try to.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
This is probably some of the worst animation on this list. It’s not just bad, it’s awful. It hurts the eyes. However, I spent countless hours watching this show as a small child. Just like you did. Seeing this intro always makes me feel homesick with nostalgia. I remember running around in just my underwear, pretending to be He-Man. Wait, that wasn’t me. I never did that. That was my brother Leonard, and he never really watched He-Man, so I think he just ran around in his underwear for fun.
So, there wasn’t a lot of creativity when it came to cartoons in the 80s. This basically looks like Thundercats or Voltron, but with metal hawk people. I still liked this show quite a bit. They looked awesome, and they had wings, which if I could have any super power, it would be wings. I don’t know why I have always thought it was cool. However, say what you will, those lyrics are awesome- Partly metal, partly real, Silverhawks- Wings of silver, nerves of steel-Silverhawks.
I know everyone loves the Disney cartoons from the 90s- DuckTales, Tale Spin, Rescue Rangers, and Darkling Duck. They were all great, but by far, in my opinion, the best cartoon from Disney in the 90s was Gargoyles. This had everything I wanted in a show, action, adventure, living gargoyles. Goliath is basically Superman with leathery wings. Or Captain America, or whatever giddy, goody hero you want.
So, I hope you enjoyed this brief trip down memory lane. What were some of your favorite shows growing up? Caution: revealing your favorite shows may just show your age (notice my list did not include PokeMon, for example, but my brother’s would). Let me know your favorites in the comments below, or comment on our Facebook page, or send your feedback to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org