Cartoons in the 80’s were on their own level. And as we get older, and more and more things change, we might find ourselves looking back to our childhood. Something I often find myself doing is comparing the cartoons that kids have these days-and they just can’t compete with the cartoons the kids of the 80’s had. When a conversation among my friends started about our favorite childhood cartoons, we all rediscovered some of those we’d forgotten about. Check out this list below (and try not to feel old) -some cartoons are more popular, but others might have slipped your mind as well.
Schoolhouse Rock (1973-1985)
Nothing else could make a kid want to learn about grammar, math, or history like Schoolhouse Rock. Though I was too young to remember when this was originally aired, I remember the syndicated episodes, as well as watching Schoolhouse Rock in school.
Denver the Last Dinosaur (1988-1990)
Apparently, I lived under a rock as a child? This seems likely, because I’d never heard of Denver the Last Dinosaur until my boyfriend said it was one of his favorites. Many of my friends loved this cartoon, too. Somehow, I missed the cartoon about the last dinosaur, whose egg was discovered by a bunch of kids who named him Denver, taught him to skateboard, and then traveled back to Denver’s time with him. Huh. I’m still not certain how I missed this, but I am certain that this cartoon came straight from the 80’s.
Turbo Teen (1984-1985)
“A cartoon about a kid who turns into a car whenever he gets too hot.”
My brothers watched this show, so I had at least heard of it, but the enthralling description my boyfriend provided when I asked what exactly it was about it solidified why I never watched it. Essentially, this is what the cartoon is about. A teen, Brett, crashes his car into a government operated lab where exposure to an unnamed element fuses the teen and the car together. When Brett is exposed to extreme heat, he turns into the car; when exposed to extreme cold, he becomes human again.
Did you know The Smurfs was nominated multiple times for Daytime Emmy Awards, and even won Outstanding Children’s Entertainment Series in 1982–1983? If you didn’t know this, no worries, I didn’t either, and that’s probably because were five-years-old and those tiny, cute, blue troll-lookin’ things were all we cared about.
Duck Tales (1987-1990)
Duck Tales. One of my favorite cartoons. Huey, Dewey, and Louie were never short on their adventures or charm. If anyone was going be able to win over Scrooge McDuck, it would be his smart, cute nephews who proved their worth by stopping the endless attempts of villains trying to steal their uncle’s fortune. The Duck Tales theme song was one that brought anger and turmoil into the Caldwell household, as I would rewind the tape and watch it overnadoverandoverandover.
Another great cartoon that most likely was forgotten. A team of five young pilots command five robot lions, and these robot lions combine together to form Voltron. Think Power Rangers in the 80’s. Many adaptations of Voltron have been made, including a series reboot exclusively on Netflix. The first season aired on Netflix in June of 2016, with the sixth and most recent season airing on June 15, 2018.
Care Bears (1985-1988)
My best friend in second grade called me Care Bear, partly due to my name being Kerri, but also for my love for Care Bears. Aside from the cartoons that aired throughout the 80’s, there were plenty of VHS tapes for me to acquire and drive my brothers into a padded room. Living in the Kingdom of Caring, the ten original Care Bears consisted of Bedtime Bear, Birthday Bear, Cheer Bear, Friend Bear, Funshine Bear, Good Luck Bear, Grumpy Bear, Love-a-lot Bear, Tenderheart Bear, and Wish Bear. Their home inside the kingdom was called Care-a-lot, and the Care Bear Cousins lived nearby in the Forest of Feelings.
How I forgot about Heathcliff is beyond me, but this was another 80’s classic. A street-smart orange tabby, Heathcliff mainly focused on ways to get food, at any cost. When he wasn’t attempting to lie, cheat, or steal for the sake of food, he was attempting to win over the pretty kitty, Sonja. She often turned her nose up at him, but at the end of the day, Sonja enjoyed his company. Heathcliff had a gang of misfits that included Knuckles, Spike the Dog, and Marcy, the little girl who wholeheartedly believed Heathcliff was an angel, and pushed him around in her baby doll carriage.
Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers (1989)
These two chipmunks were in my top favorite cartoons. Chip and Dale are best friends who start a detective agency (Rescue Rangers). Chip is the responsible one who is constantly telling his sidekick that he needs to step up and think before he acts. Dale thinks Chip needs to relax, claiming his friend doesn’t know how to have fun. The one thing they have in common is a crush on Gadget, a pretty, blonde-haired mouse who also happens to be their pilot.
Inspector Gadget (1983-1986)
I’m going to judge you extra fierce if you aren’t familiar with Inspector Gadget, the detective with odd gadgets built into his body. Not the smartest, he faces far more danger on his own than the villains he encounters. Blind, dumb luck is usually what keeps him alive, along with his niece, Penny, and Brain the dog, though he is oblivious to their help. One of the most memorable catch phrases of the 80’s came from this cartoon: “Go-go-gadget!”
ThunderCats follows the adventures of a group of catlike humanoid aliens forced to flee their home planet at the hands of the Mutants of Plun-Darr, who are after the sacred, mystic, legendary Sword of Omens. Though their planet was destroyed, the ThunderCats managed to escape with the sword, thus allowing the Mutants to forever chase and attack them, as if they’ll ever accomplish this eternal task.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987-1996)
Seriously. If you are looking at the name and can’t summon up even the smallest amount of recognition, then something truly tragic happened to you, and I am praying hard for your soul. There was nothing more a kid could ask for than four teenage crime-fighting turtles, their martial arts teacher that used to be human, but was now a rat named Splinter, a pretty reporter named April who helped keep them out of the negative spotlight while they saved the city from evil, and all the pizza that existed. Oh, and they had the coolest names: Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Raphael. They may not be artists, but they’re martial artists, and without them (or really, Michelangelo), “Cowabunga!” would not be as cool of a word as it is.
Pound Puppies (1986-1987)
Based off the Tonka toy line, Pound Puppies followed Cooler, Nose Marie, Howler, Bright Eyes, Whopper, Beamer, and the other puppies in the pound as they found adventures in the real world by a secret escape route from inside the pound. They are often accompanied by Holly, their kind human friend who possesses the ability to communicate with the Pound Puppies.
David the Gnome (1985)
Here it is. My f a v o r i t e cartoon of the 80’s. David, a gnome, lives in the forest with his wife, Lisa, and an array of other gnomes, animals, and even four troublemaking trolls with no brains whatsoever. David is a doctor who uses his faithful furry friend, Swift the Fox, to transport him through the forest to wherever he is needed. My favorite part of any episode is when David rode on Swift’s back to save the latest ailing inhabitant of the forest. There is still a really small (HUGE) part of me that wishes I had a Swift the Fox to run me through the forest on adventures. It could still happen, no?
The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin (1986)
Teddy Ruxpin, among being a cartoon character, was also an animated toy that would tell children’s stories from a cassette tape inserted into its back. Teddy also went on a quest with his friends, Grubby and Newton Gimmick, to find the Treasure of Grundo. On their way, they find themselves in fascinating new lands, meeting new friends, and stumbling upon crystals with powers. Unfortunately, these crystals also hold the ultimate power of controlling all the land, should they fall into the hands of the Monsters and Villains Organization.