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'80s and '90s Cartoons I Grew Up With- Part I

Updated: Jun 15

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:

'80s and '90s Cartoons - G I Joe Animated Series
G I Joe Animated Series

'80s and '90s Cartoons: 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 the 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 were forced to land on earth and fend off a big bad and his inconsequent minion army.

'80s and '90s Cartoons - Mum Rah in Thundercats cartoon
Mumm Rah

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.

Liono with the Eye of Thundera in the Thundercats Cartoon
Liono with the Eye of Thundera!
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3. He-man and the Masters of the Universe

Similar to Thundercats, He-man is probably set in a post-apocalyptic world that has a society returning from governments to kingdoms. The noble ruler Randor looks after Eternia with his son Adam and his Power sword.

When Adam raises his sword and proclaims "By the power of Graceskull, he transforms into the all-powerful hero He-man along with his fearless Battlecat.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Poster

Skeletor is the big bad in this fairytale with the face of a skull and an army of goons from Beastmaster who controls animals, to Evil-Lyn who is a sorceress, and Trap-Jaw a powerful cyborg.

This cartoon plays out like a soap opera, slow-paced, campy, and highly dramatic. Even with all this, it was a highly entertaining cartoon for the time with colorful characters and powers.

4. Captain Planet and the Planeteers ('90s Cartoon)

This was a really cool cartoon that came on Cartoon Network at noon once a week. When the earth became overcome with pollution, Gaia the spirit of the earth created a super-entity called Captain Planet that could be summoned with five rings entrusted to five special people globally.

Captain Planet and the Planeteers Cartoon

The rings had the power of earth, water, fire, heart, and wind. When these rings merged their powers they summoned Captain Planet - an ecowarrior parallel to none.

The cartoon was initially very exciting and entertaining with a clear moral message at the end of each episode. Later this became laborious to watch and could best be summarized with a Rick and Morty episode that mocks the very concept of planeteers.

Parody of Captain Planet: Rick and Morty - A Rickconvenient Mort

This episode of Rick and Morty portrays a not-so-rosy episode of the "Planetina's" who have grown up to be middle-aged and greedy.

The Planetina's Rickconvenient Mort

All they do now is exploit Planeteena for money-making ventures and eventually plan to sell her to a bidder.

Morty meets Planetina in a Rickconvenient Mort

Morty falls for Planeteena and kills all the ring holders to save her from a fate encompassed by greed.

5. Spiderman and His Amazing Friends ('80s Cartoon)

One of the best ensemble cartoons out there in the 80s was Spiderman and his Amazing Friends. It was one of those team-ups that was rare and highly valued by viewers.

Spiderman and his Amazing Friends Firestar and Iceman

There was Firestar, Iceman, and Spiderman. Firestar can harness microwave energy, store it, and focus and fire it on something as a weapon. She was capable of flight with her powers.

Iceman's powers are in the name itself where he can project ice, shoot hard iceballs, or freeze anything mid-air. Spiderman as you know has super-strength and can sling webs. Together they took down formidable foes such as Electro and the Green Goblin.

6. 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 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.

Duck Tales Cartoon Poster
Duck Tales Cartoon

This series links to other Disney characters such as Donald Duck the uncle of the three kids Scrooge usually babysits. There were some really fun crossover episodes and spin-offs from this series as well such as Darkwing Duck.

7. Dexter's laboratory ('90s Cartoon)

Dexter's Lab
A sketch I made of Dexter!

This was my absolute favorite on Cartoon Network. The series plot revolves around the boy genius Dexter who has a 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 guessed it - Monkey! All episodes with Monkey's superhero status shown are super funny and remind one of Mojo-Jojo for some reason.

8. 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.

A few other well-known actors include Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor, Brad Garett as Lobo, Christopher McDonald as Jor-El, and Michael Ironside as Darkseid.

Superman flying with Lois Lane in Superman The Animated Series
Superman The Animated Series

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. Coming to action it was comparable to Batman TAS, both of them being part of the same universe.

9. 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 graphics and plotlines.

Batman in Batman The Animated Series
Batman The Animated Series

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 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 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.

10. 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 found the time slot at which it aired, leading me to roll the dice on weekends and occasionally strike gold when it re-telecast or something.

The mutant storyline was particularly intriguing, going beyond the simplified origin stories of Batman and Superman. Each mutant came with a host of superpowers which was constantly evolving in some cases.

X Men The Animated Series Poster
X Men The Animated Series

My favorites (in the cartoon) were 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 kept you hooked until the next episode or any episode in my case!

11. The Powerpuff Girls ('90s Cartoon)

This usually would air right before Dexter's Lab and I was not a big fan of it initially, but its comedic timing quickly grew on me. Created with sugar, spice, everything nice, and just a dab of chemical X, the Powerpuff Girls are the brainchild of Professor Utonium.

At the outset, they seem like a show for little girls as the name suggests but the longer you watch the show the funnier it gets. The show is self-aware of how silly it is and it is clear to the audience with villains like Mojo-Jojo and Him.

One of my favorite characters was a lab experiment on a monkey gone wrong - Mojo-Jojo who has super-intelligence and an ultra-funny voice. Another character that is evil and non-binary with a deep unsettling vibe and voice is "Him" who is a clone of the Devil.

12. Richie Rich ('90s Cartoon)

One of the most feel-good cartoons I used to watch was Richie Rich Zillion Dollar Adventures which had clean non-sardonic humor, a lot of friends, and tech gadgets. I loved the fact that the cartoon was so close to the comics I read at the time.

Richie Rich Zillion Dollar Adventures

There was Richie Rich, Gloria his middle-class girlfriend his posh waiter Cadbury, and his dog Dollar.

It was good clean fun with great animation, simple and fun plotlines and new tech with each episode brought to you by Professor KeanBean.

If you are heading out to Comic Con and want to get Custom Lanyards to show off your taste in cartoons from your favorite decade - it's not a bad idea!

13. Johnny Bravo ('90s Cartoon)

If this cartoon reminded you of someone then you aren't alone as it was meant to be a hybrid of Elvis and James Dean with his larger-than-life personality and cool quirks.

Johnny Bravo Cartoon Network

Forever a ladies man, Johnny Bravo was voiced by Jeff Benett who also does a smattering of voices as Dexter, his dad, and a villain in PowerPuff Girls.

Seth McFarlane known for Ted and The Orville was a writer on this funny cartoon show and you can see it in some of the jokes. Bravo's trademark pickup line was "Hey there pretty mama! Wanna go for raaide?"

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If you want me to discuss your favorite cartoon, let me know in the comments below. Note: First published 23rd Sept 2021 and updated on 30th April 2024



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