Whether you’re an executive accountant, work in a factory, or even a policeman, we all have one thing in common. The majority of us have had the same conversion at least once within the last five years. The conversation starts off with something to this effect, “Do you remember this old cartoon?” We look at a long list of classic old cartoons.
We all grew up watching our favourite cartoons on TV, planning our every move around the time they would be broadcast – drawing pictures of characters such as He-Man, the sword from Thundercats, or the awesome cars from M.A.S.K.
Now that I’ve got your attention, I will ask you the question:
How many of these classic old cartoons from our list do you actually remember?
I’ve compiled a list of classic old cartoons and kid shows I watched when I was growing up in the ’80s and ’90s. If there are any classic cartoons or kid shows you think I’ve missed, please feel free to add a comment below, and I’ll update the list:
Classic cartoon list:
101 Dalmatians, 2 Stupid Dogs, Action Force, Aladdin, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Animaniacs, Arthur, Astro Farm, Babar the Elephant, Banana Man, Batman, Battle of the Planets, Beetlejuice, Biker Mice from Mars, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Bionic Six, Bonkers, Brakenjan, Bravestarr, Bump in the Night, Calvin and Hobbes, Captain Planet, Care Bears, Casper and Friends, Centurions, Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, Conan the Barbarian, Creepy Crawlers, Danger Mouse, Darkwing Duck, Davie Crocket, Dennis the Menace, Denver the Last Dinosaur, Dino Riders, Dinosaucers, Doug, Double Dragon, Dr. Snuggles, Droopy, Ducktales, Earthworm Jim, Ewoks, Exosquad, Fang Face, Fantastic Four, Felix the Cat, Flash Gordon, Fraggle Rock, Freakazoid, G.I. Joe, Galaxy Rangers, Garfield and Friends, Gargoyles, Get Along Gang, Ghostbusters, Gobots, Gooftroop, Goosebumps, Grady Greenspace, Gumby, Gummi Bears, Heathcliff, Heidi, He-Man, Hercules, House of Mouse, Huckleberry Hound, Hulk, Huxley Pig, Inspector Gadget, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, Jimbo and the Jet Set, Johnson and Friends, Kideo, Looney Tunes, M.A.S.K., Magilla Gorilla, Mario and Luigi, Marsupilami, Maya the Bee, Mega Man, Men in Black, Mightor, Mighty Man and Yuck, Mighty Max, Mighty Mouse, Mina Moo, Moemin, Monchichis, Monster Force, Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, Mr. Bogus, Mucha Lucha, Mummies Alive, My Little Pony, My Pet Monster, Nello en Patrasche, Once Upon a Time…Man, Paddington Bear, Panda Tao Tao, Paw Paw, Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm, Pinky and the Brain, Pirates of Dark Water, Pokel, Pole Position, Popeye, Popples, Pumpkin Patch, Punky Brewster, Quick Draw McGraw, Raggy Dolls, Rainbow Brite, Recess, Ricochet Rabbit, Ring Raiders, Robocop, Rocket Power, Ruff and Reddy, Saber Riders, Samurai Pizza Cats, Scooby-Doo, Secret Squirrel, Sharky and George, She-Ra Princess of Power, Shoe People, Silverhawks, Skybolt, Sonic the Hedgehog, Spiderman, Spiral Zone, Starchaser, Street Sharks, Super Campeones, Super Ted, Superman, Swamp Thing, Swat Kats, Talespin, Tasmanian Devil, Teddy Ruxpin, The Addams Family, The Adventures of Tin Tin, The Angry Beavers, The Animals of Farthing Wood, The Care Bears, The Family-Ness, The Flintstones, The Little Mermaid, The Jetsons, The Lone Ranger, The Magic Schoolbus, The Mask, The MuskerHounds (Brak en Jan), The Mysterious Cities of Gold, The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The Pink Panther, The Poddington Peas, The Power Team, The Raccoons, The Rugrats, The Silver Surfer, The Smurfs, The Tick, The Tigersharks, The Wombles, The World of David the Gnome (Dawie die Kabouter), The Wuzzles, Thundercats, Timon and Pumbaa, Tiny Toon Adventures, Tom and Jerry, Top Cat, Transformers, Turbo Teen, Vicky the Viking, Voltron, Whacky Races, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, Where’s Wally, Widget the World Watcher, Wild C.A.T.S. Woody Woodpecker, Yogi Bear, and, finally, X-men.
There are a number of others that I cannot recall, two of which really bug me. The first is an old cartoon about a kid playing a video game of some sort then is transported into the game world. There are three characters; one is a Blue Big Foot 4×4 Truck, a tomato with green hair, and the hero with a sword. The second cartoon involves singing green mice, which have pointy alien ears. These mice sing opera most of the time.
Many people have distinct memories of waking up early on weekends (with a willingness and speed never seen during the week) and plonking themselves down in front of the TV to watch early Saturday morning cartoons. It was a great way to get the day started and kept you entertained until your parents kicked you outside for the day.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at some old favourite cartoons.
1. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies
Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies were partner series that featured shorts with numerous beloved characters. These included the stuttering Porky Pig (one of the first characters ever created for Looney Tunes), the flippant trickster Bugs Bunny and the unrestrained and assertive Daffy Duck.
Many of the cartoon shorts featured a hunted-hunter dynamic with elaborate traps gone wrong, in which one character would give chase while the other would avoid capture. Some of the most memorable duos were Wile E Coyote and the Road Runner, Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird, and Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny.
Mel Blanc voiced all the characters above as well as several others including Taz the Tasmanian Devil, Yosemite Sam, Marvin the Martian and Pepé la Pew.
The cartoons were so popular that they inspired several films, including Space Jam and a more modernised series called The Looney Tunes Show, which centred around Bugs and Daffy and their move to the suburbs.
Fans of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies can find dozens of old cartoons on HBO Max.
2. Johnny Bravo
This beloved cartoon focused on the titular character, a self-proclaimed womaniser loosely based on Elvis Presley and James Dean. He’s muscular, wears sunglasses and lives with his mother, Bunny “Momma” Bravo. Be spends much of his time trying to get women to date him but usually fails miserably and is beaten up comedically.
The cartoon series features a small cast of characters that will pop in during Bravo’s adventures. The characters include Little Suzy, who will go out of her way to annoy Johnny and is quite intelligent; Carl Chryniszzswics, the poor geek who Johnny bullies; and Pops, the owner of a diner who gives Johnny advice and food.
The series would often feature guest star appearances from celebrities and sometimes other cartoons, including characters like Fred Flintstone and Yogi Bear.
The creators behind Johnny Bravo weren’t too concerned about the content of their episodes when it came to adult humour. “No one was really watching Cartoon Network,” Van Partible said. “As far as content, they were pretty lenient on all the kinds of things that were going on.”
3. The Powerpuff Girls
This cartoon featured the adventures of three superpowered sisters who Professor Utonium created using a combination of sugar, spice, everything nice, and Chemical X. Blossom is the red-headed leader of the group. She is often the most level-headed and the master strategist behind the girl’s victories. Bubbles is the sweet blonde one. She can communicate with animals and can go into a terrible rage if pushed far enough. Finally, Buttercup is the black-haired tomboy. She doesn’t think twice before rushing into a fight and is more of a punch first, ask questions never character.
The girls are raised by Professor Utonium and often protect the city of Townsville from monsters and several recurring villains at the request of the Mayor. While they are responsible enough to take on villains regularly, the girls must also deal with issues regularly faced by young children, including bed wetting, going to school, loose teeth and sibling rivalries.
The original series ran from 1998 to 2005 and had three specials which aired between 2003 and 2014. Cartoon Network rebooted the Powerpuff Girls in 2016.
4. Dexter’s Laboratory
This animated series follows the adventures of the boy genius Dexter, a scientist with a laboratory hidden behind a bookcase in his room. He manages to keep his activities hidden from his clueless parents. Dexter can only access his lab through a password or hidden switches, but his older sister Dee Dee manages to find her way into the lab and mess up his experiments every single time, much to his annoyance.
Dexter has an intense rivalry with his fellow boy genius and neighbour, Mandark. The two often try to outdo each other, and when Dexter’s inventions prove to be objectively better, Mandark resorts to stealing his plans. His one weakness is the unrequited love he feels for Dee Dee.
Many people questioned the origin of Dexter’s accent. Christine Cavanaugh (the voice behind Dexter) described his accent as “an affectionate, kind of accent, we’re not quite sure. He’s a scientist, he knows he needs (a) kind of accent.” by Dexter’s voice actor, Christine Cavanaugh. Genndy Tartakovsky, the show’s creator, has said that “he’s a scientist. All scientists are foreign and have accents… It’s not really a German accent. It’s just Eastern European.”
The series ran from 1996 to 1998 and was rebooted from 2001 – 2003
5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Based on the comic book characters Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird created, the show follows the adventures of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and others as they battled against villains like Shredder and Krang. The creators dropped the darker tone from the comics in favour of making the show more suitable for children.
The adoptive father of the turtles, Splinter, was originally a man, but after being exposed to mutagen, he became more rat-like, while the turtles became more human-like. So he decided to name the turtles after his favourite artists and trained them in the ways of ninjitsu.
Soon the turtles befriend April O’Neil, a Channel 6 reporter who does all she can to paint the turtles in the best light, become vigilante crime fighters and thwart the plans of Shredder and other criminals.
The show ran from 1988 to 1996 and has inspired several films and movies.
6. The Addams Family
The creators behind this animated series based it on the dark comedy TV series that gave the characters created by Charles Addams their names and backstories before putting them in a household setting. It followed the many entertaining adventures of the close-knit supernatural family and their clashes with the modern world.
This time the family goes on a cross-country adventure in their creepy Victorian-style camper that closely resembles their beloved mansion. While stopped at different locations, they often accidentally caused mayhem and accidentally got involved in criminal schemes without realising it.
The series features head over heels in madly in-love parental duo Gomez and Morticia Addams, Wednesday, Pugsley, the eccentric Uncle Fester, Cousin Itt and Grandmama.
The most silent butler, Lurch, and the disembodied hand, Thing, serve the Addams family.
The series ran for a couple of episodes in 1973.
7. Teen Titans
The beloved TV show was based on the superhero team of the same name from DC comics. Its first two seasons aired on WB Kids, and its popularity earned it five seasons and a movie. It was the most praised Cartoon Network show, specifically for the way it handled its character development, humour and serious themes, which were focused on with care rather than completely brushed over.
The show followed the stories created by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez and features five main members: Robin, the intelligent leader; Starfire, the sweet and quirky alien princess; Cyborg, the fun-loving and cheerful tech-expert who loves playing video games and is known for his strength, Raven, the stoic half-demon with a dark sense of humour, and Beast Boy, a light-hearted prankster who can change into any animal and is the best friend of Cyborg.
The five prevent many threats to the city and criminal activity while also dealing with their struggles surrounding adolescence, limitations and mutual friendships.
After the series ended, a series of shorts known as New Teen Titans aired from 2011 to 2012, featuring the original characters in a chibi animation style. Many fans thought Cartoon Network was reviving the old series, but they received Teen Titans Go! instead.
8. Samurai Jack
Genndy Tartakovsky drew inspiration from the 1972 television drama Kung Fu and his fascination with samurai culture when creating this animated Cartoon Network series. It follows the story of Jack, formerly an unnamed samurai prince who wields a magical katana that can cut through almost anything.
After the evil demon lord overran his kingdom Aku overran his kingdom, the samurai prince trained with his father’s sword before fighting Aku. Unfortunately, before the prince could land the killing blow, Aku sent him to a dystopian future where the demon lord ruled with unmatched strength.
Upon arriving, the samurai adopts the name Jack and begins the quest to find his way back to his own time and finally defeat Aku before the demon lord takes over the world.
The series ran from 2001 – 2004, and the ending was left mostly open-ended as the creators didn’t want to rush the ending. Unfortunately, they didn’t have time to “think about it”, according to the Art director Scott Willis, because they were moving on to Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Fortunately for fans, Cartoon Network briefly revived the series with a more cohesive narrative and mature elements in 2017 to conclude the story officially.
9. Dragon Ball Z
This anime series is a sequel to the 1986 anime Dragon Ball and follows the final 325 chapters of the original manga series.
It continues with the adventures of Son Goku. Now, as an adult, he and his companions work together to protect Earth against the invasion of several villains, including androids, aliens and magical creatures. It touches on the life and development of his son Gohan and the path of his rivals Piccolo and Vegeta.
The anime initially ran from 1989 to 1996 and is still popular today. Its success in the United States led to the show becoming a cultural icon. As a result, it has had several releases and adaptations over the years, along with two sequels, Dragon Ball GT and Dragon Ball Super.
10. Inspector Gadget
This animated TV series follows the adventures of the clumsy and incompetent Inspector Gadget, a cyborg police inspector who often unintentionally causes trouble for those around him. His boss often sends him on missions to take down the sinister Dr Claw and his criminal organisation, M.A.D.
Unbeknownst to him or Claw, Gadget’s niece Penny is usually responsible for ruining M.A.D.’s plans. With the use of her own technology and her beloved dog Brain, who often follows Gadget on his adventures to ensure he stays out of harm’s way, she regularly takes down M.A.D. while ensuring her uncle is the one seen solving the crimes.
The show ran from 1983 to 1986 and inspired the release of several TV series and movies based around the titular character’s adventures.
11. SpongeBob SquarePants
This beloved animated series follows the adventures of the main character, SpongeBob SquarePants. The sponge and his friends get into plenty of trouble, whether at Boating School, The Krusty Krab, Jellyfish Fields, at home or even out of water.
The series is one of the longest-running animated series in America. It was first released in 1999 and was renewed for its fourteenth season in 2022.
The series has inspired two spin-off shows (Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years and The Patrick Star Show) and several movies, including The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, which was released in 2004, Sponge Out of Water which was released in 2015 and Sponge on the Run which released in 2020. In addition, Paramount+ is developing four new films.
12. The Pink Panther Show
This animated show featured a series of shorts starring the Pink Panther character that was introduced to audiences at the end of the original live-action films. The shorts follow the Pink Panther on his many little adventures as he causes problems for other characters and escapes the consequences.
A couple of shorts include the character known as The Inspector, who attempts to bring the Pink Panther to justice but fails miserably.
In early 2022 Warner Bros announced that they had been in talks about potentially reviving The Pink Panther and The Flintstones. Both are set to premiere in 2024
13. Top Cat
William Hanna produced the show, and Joseph Barbera produced the show, which followed the titular character’s adventures and his gang of alley cats: Benny the Ball, Brain, Choo-Choo, Fancy-Fancy and Spook. They spend a lot of time attempting to develop get-rich-quick schemes but often fail.
Charles “Charlie” Dibble spends much of his time trying to get the cats evicted from the alley or arrested. When he can’t do that, he has them clean the alley and tells them to stop using the police box phone. Unfortunately for them, this usually doesn’t last very long, and the cats are quickly back to scamming people.
The show ran from 1961 to 1962.
The anime series follows the story of Ash Ketchum, a young boy from Pallet Town who is determined to become the Pokémon Master. At the beginning of his journey, Professor Oak gifts him an uncooperative Pikachu with whom he soon bonds. Together Ash and Pikachu travel to different regions of the Pokémon world and battle against various Gym Leaders so that they can get into a tournament known as the Pokémon League and Ash can finally become the Pokémon Master.
Along his journey, Ash meets several interesting characters and often thwarts the nefarious plans of Team Rocket, who constantly try to steal Pikachu from him.
The series began in 1997 and has been running ever since. It currently has 1223 and is on its 25th season.
15. Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy
This animated series follows the adventures of an overly enthusiastic, dim-witted boy named Billy, a cynical, unfeeling girl named Mandy and their “best friend forever” by force, Grim the Grim Reaper. Billy and Mandy managed to earn Grim’s “friendship” after beating him at a game of limbo for Billy’s pet hamster. Grim slowly begins to care for Billy and Mandy reluctantly but ultimately desires to be free of their friendship.
The three often go on exciting adventures thanks to Grim’s supernatural abilities and meet several famed monsters, including the Bogeyman, Dracula and the Wolfman. They even meet Jeff, a giant spider who always tries to win the affection and approval of Billy, who he believes to be his father.
The show ran from 2003 to 2007. During that time, it received two movies (Billy & Mandy’s Big Boogey Adventure and Billy & Mandy: Wrath of the Spider Queen) and a crossover special with its fellow animated series Codename: Kids Next Door. The special was called The Grim Adventures of the KND.
16. Danger Mouse
This animated series was created as a parody of British spy fiction, specifically Danger Man and James Bond. It followed the adventures of Danger Mouse, a secret mouse agent with a code name for his code name, and his assistant and sidekick Ernest Penfold, a hamster who audiences would often confuse for a mole.
The two would work together to bring down several enemies, the most notable of whom was Danger Mouse’s archnemesis, Baron Silas Greenback, a toad who began his life of crime when he was still very young.
The series ran from 1981 to 1992 and inspired the spin-off Count Duckula, which ran from 1988 to 1993. Danger Mouse was revived in 2015 and ran until 2019.
Although I have a separate list of my favourite cartoons to watch when I was a kid, I chose a top 5 list based on classic cartoon theme songs.
These are my top 5 old cartoons list:
4. Fraggle Rock
3. Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers
2. Gummy Bears
1. The Mysterious Cities of Gold
There are a few others that could have made the list but didn’t quite compare to the intros above. These included BraveStarr, TaleSpin, Marsupilami, Doug, Ducktales and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which complete my top classic old cartoon intros.
I’m sure different introductions would have a lot more meaning to each individual. So again, if you wish to send us your favourite intros, please feel free to do so.