The '80s and '90s cartoons and animated series were some of the best to ever be created. This made me look forward to the weekend, to see what Dexter was up to, whether Liono was in trouble or if Cobra Commander was finally captured. Here are some of the cartoons that I grew up with as a kid:
1. GI Joe ('80s Cartoon)
This animated series aired really early at 7 am on weekends, and was worth getting up early to watch the same. The animation was not as good as the DC series or even the X men TAS at times, but a team of Rambo's equipped with high-tech weapons and gadgets (for the time) was really fun to watch. Most episodes ended with a cliffhanger, with one of the Special forces operatives ( the Joe's) held captive, or Cobra commander giving them the slip.
2. Thundercats ('80s Cartoon)
Thundercats was this amazing mash-up of alien sci-fi meets He-man and "The Mummy." It was this group of extra-terrestrials that are forced to land on earth and fend off a big bad and his inconsequent minion army.
It had mystical elements, technological curiosities, and superpowers, all packed into one really entertaining series. It had good character arcs for most of the cat-like humanoids, having their personas grow with time.
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3. Duck Tales ('80s Cartoon)
Disney's Duck Tales would sound like a sharp right turn from the cool of DC and Marvel. But Disney doesn't make any duds (mostly). The story here revolves around the wealthy miser Scrooge McDuck (modeled after Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol) and his grandnephews Huey Luey and Duey who go on adventures. This was wholesome entertainment for everyone, and am sure it still is. This series gave us a lot of pop-culture references such as the pool of gold coins in which Scrooge regularly swims, by diving into it from a diving board no less! The intro jingle that plays is really catchy and is good clean fun.
This series links to a lot of other Disney characters such as Donald Duck who is the uncle of the three kids Scrooge usually ends up babysitting. There were some really fun crossover episodes and spin-offs from this series as well such as Darkwing Duck.
4. Dexter's laboratory ('90s Cartoon)
This was my absolute favorite on Cartoon Network. The series plot revolves around the boy genius Dexter who has lab hidden away in his bedroom that would put NASA HQ to shame! He shares excellent chemistry with his socially accepted, yet not-so-bright sister Dee Dee whose life's mission is to annoy her brother. Dexter also has an arch-nemesis in Mandark, who is another prodigy with a similar self-made lab and a crush on Dexter's sister.
The series is hilarious with some episodes dedicated to spoofing popular cartoon tropes. One episode has Dexter's entire family suit-up like the power rangers to battle an alien. They also have a hybrid parody of the DC and Marvel characters in the Justice Friends with Captain America, Hulk and Thor being made fun of, and a play on the words Justice League.
There is also his lab monkey, simply named Monkey, whose alter ego is again...you guessed it - Monkey!. All episodes with Monkey's superhero status shown are super funny and reminds one of Mojo-jojo for some reason.
5. Superman: The Animated Series ('90s)
The voice cast in this series overlapped with Batman TAS. There were quite a few great voice actors in this series as well with Dana Delaney (of Desperate Housewives fame) breathing life into Lois Lane and Jason Marsden playing Clarke Kent/Superman. Few other well-known actors include Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor, Brad Garett as Lobo, Christopher McDonald as Jor-El, and Michael Ironside as Dark Seid.
This series I felt was more optimistic, probably because it centered on Clarke Kent's hopeful outlook on the human race and their potential for good. When it came to action it was comparable to Batman TAS, both of them being part of the same universe.
6. Batman: The Animated Series ('90s)
This was the gold standard of cartoons for me airing between 9 to 10 am on weekends. The animation was and is superb, with great detail in both graphics and plotlines.
The voice cast is legendary with Kevin Conroy being the first batman I ever heard aside from Adam West. Mark Hamill donned the maniacal avatar of the Joker, with his signature Joker laugh announcing to the world his religion of madness. As a 10-year-old, however, I did think it was a bit dark and sinister, but still very compelling and enjoyable. It's amazing how well this cartoon has aged over the years, as a piece of movie art. It can still hold its own against Bale's portrayal of the Dark Knight. For me, this will always be the definitive animated series for Batman.
7. X Men: The Animated Series ('90s)
X Men TAS was a slightly more exotic series dealing with more adult issues such as race, gender identity, and more. I never got to know the time slot at which it aired, leading me to roll the dice on weekends and would occasionally strike gold when it re-telecast or something. The mutant storyline was particularly intriguing, which went beyond the simplified origin stories of Batman and Superman. Each mutant came with his/her own host of superpowers which was constantly evolving in some cases.
My favorite (in the cartoon) was Wolverine, Juggernaut, Cyclops, Rogue, and Jean Grey. The animation is not as good as Batman or Superman TAS,' but it was the plot-driven nature of this series really kept you hooked until the next episode or any episode in my case!
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