80’s (and 90’s) Cartoons

A thread over at the 9Rules Notes section about 80’s cartoons got me thinking about something that happened a few months ago, as well as making me curious about what readers to this site like(d). Therefore, the point of this post is two fold:

  1. To find out what your favorite cartoons were if you were born in either the 70’s and 80’s. For this list I’m looking for things during the 80’s, 90’s.
  2. To tell you the story of the conversation this thread reminded about.

If you want to read this story, keep reading. Otherwise, just add you lists of favorites to the comments section.

The Story
A few months back I was having dinner with my family (parents, siblings, friends we sort of consider relatives) at a Sweet Tomatoes near their house. As the nine of us sat there, I asked whether anyone had seen the trailer for the new Transformers movie.

The table went silent.

“They’re making a Transformers move?” asked an incredulous Joel.

“Yeah, I put the preview up on my site.”

Mari jumped in. “Na-ah. Shut up, jerky.”

“Seriously,” I said, laughing a bit at their reactions. “I just put the preview up on my site.”

“Whatever,” said Mari, “you’re lying. It’s why you’re laughing.”

“Are you serious?!” asked Joel, his eyes wider now than before.

“Yes, I’m serious,” I replied, “and I’m laughing because of your reactions. Is it that hard to believe that they’re making a Transformers movie?”

This got everyone talking about all of the shows from the 1980’s which were suddenly making an appearance on the big screen, but the conversation quickly moved to what our favorite cartoons (and eventually, shows) from the 1980’s were. Since all of us were kids in the 80’s — my sister and Gary were the oldest — it wasn’t hard for any of us to start naming cartoons we all loved: Transformers, The Smurfs and their underwater cousins, The Snorks, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the immortal G.I. Joe (“Now we know, and knowing is half the battle…”), Voltron (both the one with the lions, and the one with the cars), Thundercats He-Man, She-Ra, that cartoon I can’t remember the name of with all those WWF wrestlers, Care Bears and their lamer counterparts, My Little Ponies… the list went on and on.

Most excited about that conversation were Joel, Gary, and Mari, who knew more about 80’s television than anyone else. While Joel kept complaining that the cartoons of today were weird, and that the 80’s was the golden decade of cartoons, Mari kept pulling up new greats her and daugther, my niece Belle like, such as Foster’s House for Imaginary Friends. I jumped in with stuff I liked in the 80’s as well as the 90’s, like Dexter’s Laboratory (the early episodes, which I watched while in high school), Dragonball Z (which I would race home to watch after the night shift ended at Barnes and Noble), and a show no one else seemed to remember, Stunt Dawgs. (Stunt Dawgs, by the way, had an disgustingly-named villain, “Dick P. Fungus”. You figure that one out.) Joel had me beat on cryptic cartoons, though, as he pulled up stuff like All-Stars (which featured Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson, and Wayne Gretzky as the main heroes). All I could counter is with Cartoon All-Stars which featured Bugs Bunny and the Ninja Turtles teaching kids about drugs.

An hour into the conversation, we started talking about live television shows from the 80’s we all liked: Knight Rider, Airwolf, You Can’t Do That on Television, All-American Superhero, The A-Team, and so on and so forth. This is where I dropped out a bit, since for the most part, I stuck to watching cartoons and science-fiction as a kid. Well, that and the show Let’s Make a Deal, which I loved for only one reason: the Whammies. This second breath took us another hour down memory lane (and TV Land’s schedule).

By the end, it became a who-can-remember-the-most-cryptic-show contest, with shows about stuff I won’t even try to remember. As I said before, Joel won that one, hands down. All hail the 80’s TV nerd! I bow to his encyclopedic knowledge. Two hours after a simple introduction to the new Transformers movie, we had relived 25 years of television history, which is amazing considering that half of the people at that table weren’t 25 years old. Behold the power of the re-run. (And yes, we talked about Re-Run, too, or at least Joel and Mari did.)

What I can’t figure out is what it is about the 1980’s television that draws such mystique and fond recollections from its viewers? Is it just a matter of rosy-tinted memories of youth, or was there actually something about that particular decade that really made it stand out?

Anyway, as I said at the beginning, I’d like to know what your favorites were, and what you remember the most about 80’s television. Need a refresher? Check out RetroJunk.com, which has a sorts of information on shows from the 70’s and 80’s (and maybe even some 90’s, though I haven’t checked). Muck around that site and when your memory is fresh and nostalgic, come back and tell us what your favorites were.

Finally, here’s my own personal list of favorite 80’s cartoons and shows (if they were reeeeeallly good):

  • Transformers
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Voltron
  • The Smurfts
  • Ren and Stimpy (the first couple of seasons, before they got all disgusting)
  • He-Man
  • The Care Bears
  • G.I. Joe
  • Punky Brewster (Soleil Moon Frye has become a total babe.)
  • Ghostbusters
  • Night Court
  • ALF

That’s just a few of the things I really loved watching. I won’t even start with the 90’s: the list is too long.

3 thoughts on “80’s (and 90’s) Cartoons

  1. Oh wow!! What a trip! I saw the trailer for Transformers when I took my daughter to the movies last weekend. I watched ALL those – Thundercats and He-Man were favorites. What’s strange is that now my own kids are starting to watching The Smurfs, Snorks, Scooby Doo . . . anything on Cartoon Network or Boomerang.

    Remember when Atari first came out? I was about 4 or 5, and we owned Frogger, Pac-Man, and Q-Bert (and others). Do you remember that those games were made into cartoons? Over the Christmas break, my children caught a really cheesy episode of a Pac-Man holiday movie and LOVED it!

    So there must be that something special about cartoons from our childhood. Couldn’t tell you what it is . . .

    Oh – I’ve rediscovered Captain Planet šŸ™‚

  2. Hey jerky.. THE WHAMMY was in the game show Press Your Luck- Let’s Make A Deal was the show where the people wore goofy costumes and got picked out of the audience for games… any who, GREAT article.. thanks for the memories!! :-p

  3. @Mari: “Press your luck” — Yeah, of course I would have remembered that, having been an entire 4 years old (MAYBE) at the time and not understanding English and all. Otherwise, yeah, I remember it perfectly.

    @Melissa: Whoa! I forgot about the video game inspired cartoons (Remember the “Mario Brothers” cartoon? I just saw it on DVD down at Best Buy. I might actually get it.) I don’t remember Qbert very well — the cartoon, at any rate — but I certainly remember the Pac Man cartoons. I also remember the fact that a new version of Pac Man was created for the SNES based on that cartoon which had something interesting called the “Butt Bounce”. I’ll let you picture what that was. That aside, I still remember the Atari we had. First game I ever remember playing was this game where you had to launch a rocket to space or something. I just remember never quite being able to launch the wretched thing. I also remember that horrible ET game that was made, and a few other better titles.

    As for Captain Planet, I actually miss that cartoon. I know they tried to revive it a few years back, but that didn’t last.

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