Top 15 80’s Cartoons

#15: Mr. T

“The Mr. T Cartoon” burst onto television screens in 1983, riding the wave of Mr. T’s colossal popularity, fueled by his role in “The A-Team” and his larger-than-life persona. This animated series takes the tough guy image of Mr. T and transforms him into a mentor for a diverse group of gymnasts, the Gymkata Knights. Each episode follows the team as they tackle mysteries, solve problems, and engage in action-packed adventures.

The cartoon leverages Mr. T’s iconic mohawk, gold chains, and tough exterior to create a superhero-like character with a heart of gold. The animated Mr. T serves as a positive role model, teaching life lessons, imparting wisdom, and promoting virtues such as teamwork and self-confidence.

While the show is undeniably a product of its time, with action and superhero elements in abundance, it also reflects Mr. T’s genuine dedication to motivating and inspiring young audiences. The cartoon’s memorable catchphrase, “I pity the fool,” echoed Mr. T’s catchphrase from “The A-Team” and became synonymous with his tough yet lovable persona.

“The Mr. T Cartoon” is a time capsule of ’80s pop culture, blending elements of action, adventure, and positive moral lessons with the indomitable charisma of Mr. T. It remains a cherished memory for fans who fondly recall the animated escapades of the Gymkata Knights led by the one and only Mr. T.

#14: Thundarr The Barbarian

“Thundarr the Barbarian,” an animated series that aired from 1980 to 1982, offers a captivating blend of post-apocalyptic adventure, science fiction, and fantasy. Created by Steve Gerber and Jack Kirby, the show envisions a world devastated by a cosmic disaster that has shattered the moon, wreaking havoc on Earth. In this perilous landscape, Thundarr, a muscular and heroic barbarian, teams up with Ookla the Mok, a fierce yet loyal humanoid cat, and Ariel, a sorceress with potent magical abilities.

The trio journeys through the ruins of civilization, encountering mutated creatures, technological remnants of the past, and various adversaries, including the nefarious wizard Gemini and the Groundlings, a race of mutated humans. Thundarr’s sunsword, a weapon emanating energy, becomes an iconic symbol of his heroic exploits.

“Thundarr the Barbarian” captured the imaginations of viewers with its imaginative world-building, dynamic action sequences, and unique blend of science fantasy. The show’s thematic combination of magic and technology in a post-apocalyptic setting set it apart, influencing subsequent works in the genre. Decades later, “Thundarr the Barbarian” retains a cult following, celebrated for its nostalgic charm and contribution to the animated landscape of the early ’80s.

#13: He-Man and The Masters of The Universe

“He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” emerged as a cultural phenomenon in the early ’80s, captivating audiences with its blend of epic fantasy, science fiction, and action-adventure. Premiering in 1983 as an animated series, He-Man, the alter ego of Prince Adam, became the iconic hero of Eternia, wielding the Power Sword to transform into the mighty defender of Castle Grayskull.

The show featured He-Man’s battles against the malevolent Skeletor, a sorcerer seeking to conquer Eternia and unlock the secrets of Castle Grayskull. Accompanied by a diverse cast of characters like Man-At-Arms, Teela, and Orko, He-Man engaged in moral lessons and ethical conflicts while battling evil forces.

Accompanying the animated series were action figures, comic books, and a memorable catchphrase — “By the power of Grayskull, I have the power!” The franchise’s success extended beyond television, becoming a cornerstone of ’80s pop culture.

The enduring legacy of He-Man lies in its ability to create a captivating universe that resonated with a broad audience. The moral lessons, coupled with the fantastical setting and memorable characters, secured “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” as a cherished part of childhoods and a hallmark of ’80s animated excellence.

#12: The Real Ghostbusters

“The Real Ghostbusters,” which premiered in 1986, emerged as an animated extension of the wildly successful 1984 film “Ghostbusters.” Created by DiC Entertainment, the series cleverly retained the film’s premise while adding its own unique twist. The cartoon followed the adventures of the Ghostbusters – Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, Egon Spengler, and Winston Zeddemore – as they continued their paranormal investigations in New York City.

“The Real Ghostbusters” delved into a realm where spooks, specters, and supernatural entities were a daily occurrence. The characters were fleshed out further, and the addition of Slimer, the green ghost, as a friendly sidekick added a touch of humor. The series struck a balance between spooky and comical, appealing to both kids and adults.

While the show maintained the film’s core humor and camaraderie, it expanded the Ghostbusters’ universe with a diverse array of imaginative and often humorous ghostly entities. Moreover, it introduced a new generation to the Ghostbusters lore and became a defining piece of ’80s and early ’90s animated television.

“The Real Ghostbusters” remains beloved for its nostalgic value, memorable characters, and the perfect blend of supernatural intrigue and comedic antics that made it a standout in the animated landscape of its time.

#11: Heathcliff

“Heathcliff,” the animated series that debuted in 1980, introduced audiences to the mischievous and street-smart orange cat with a penchant for trouble. Based on the comic strip created by George Gately, the show followed the adventures of Heathcliff as he navigated the neighborhood of Westfinster with his band of feline friends and faced off against his canine rival, Spike.

What set “Heathcliff” apart was its focus on the titular character’s dual identity — Heathcliff the cat and Heathcliff the smooth-talking, adventure-seeking alley cat. The series was known for its blend of humor, slapstick comedy, and occasional moral lessons, creating a charming and entertaining experience for its young audience.

Heathcliff’s charisma and larger-than-life personality, voiced by the talented Mel Blanc, made him a memorable character in the realm of animated felines. The show’s catchy theme song, sung by the character himself, became a hallmark of ’80s animated intros.

While perhaps not as iconic as some of its contemporaries, “Heathcliff” carved out its own niche in the animated landscape, leaving a lasting impression on those who fondly recall the misadventures of the street-smart cat and his quirky gang.

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#10: My Little Pony

The “My Little Pony” animated series of 1986, often referred to as “My Little Pony ‘n Friends,” was a colorful and enchanting journey into the magical world of Ponyland. Created by Hasbro, the show centered around the adventures of the adorable and multicolored ponies, each with its own unique personality and cutie mark.

The primary storyline involved the Ponies defending Ponyland from the wicked schemes of villains like Tirek, Lavan, and the witch Hydia. With a combination of magic, friendship, and teamwork, the Ponies overcame challenges while spreading positive messages to their young audience.

“My Little Pony” featured engaging characters like Twilight, Minty, and Spike the dragon, who accompanied the Ponies on their quests. The series seamlessly blended elements of fantasy, friendship, and adventure, creating a captivating world that resonated with children.

The success of the cartoon was not only in its vibrant animation but also in the accompanying toy line, transforming the Ponies into beloved collectibles. The show contributed to the cultural phenomenon surrounding the My Little Pony franchise, which has endured over the decades with subsequent iterations, fostering a passionate and diverse fanbase. The 1986 series remains a nostalgic treasure for those who cherish the enchanting adventures of these magical ponies.

#9: Gummi Bears

Debuting in 1985, “Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears” was a charming animated series that transported audiences to the whimsical medieval world of Dunwyn. Created by Walt Disney Television Animation, the show followed the Gummi Bears, a group of anthropomorphic bears with magical abilities, led by the wise and venerable Zummi Gummi.

The Gummi Bears’ adventures involved protecting their Gummiberry juice, a magical concoction that granted them extraordinary powers, from the villainous Duke Igthorn and his army of ogres. Each Gummi Bear brought a distinct personality and skill set to the group, fostering teamwork and camaraderie.

Known for its vibrant animation, catchy theme song, and memorable characters like Gruffi, Cubbi, and Tummi, the series successfully combined elements of fantasy, humor, and heartwarming storytelling. The Gummi Bears’ quest to preserve their heritage while befriending humans endeared the show to audiences of all ages.

Beyond its entertainment value, the series contributed to the ’80s and ’90s animation renaissance, showcasing Disney’s prowess beyond the silver screen. “Gummi Bears” holds a special place in the hearts of viewers who fondly remember the magical escapades of these lovable animated bears and the delightful world they inhabited.

#8: Inspector Gadget

“Inspector Gadget,” the animated series that premiered in 1983, introduced audiences to the bumbling but lovable cyborg detective, Inspector Gadget. Created by Bruno Bianchi, Andy Heyward, and Jean Chalopin, the show was a co-production between DIC Entertainment and various international studios.

The titular character, voiced by Don Adams, was equipped with an array of gadgets built into his body, transforming him into a walking Swiss Army knife of crime-solving capabilities. Accompanied by his niece Penny and her intelligent dog Brain, Inspector Gadget thwarted the sinister plans of the mysterious Dr. Claw and his organization, MAD.

The series was characterized by its slapstick humor, clever gadgets, and recurring catchphrases like “Go, Go, Gadget!” The comedic juxtaposition of Gadget’s ineptitude with Penny’s ingenious detective work provided a delightful dynamic.

“Inspector Gadget” became an iconic part of ’80s animated television, blending elements of spy-fi, comedy, and adventure. The show’s popularity led to various spin-offs, adaptations, and a lasting impact on popular culture. The character’s unmistakable silhouette and the catchy theme song remain embedded in the memories of those who enjoyed the animated escapades of the unintentionally hilarious Inspector Gadget.

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#7: Garfield and Friends

“Garfield and Friends,” which premiered in 1988, brought Jim Davis’s beloved comic strip cat, Garfield, to animated life in a delightful and humorous series. A Saturday morning staple, the show combined segments featuring Garfield, Odie, and Jon Arbuckle with additional segments showcasing U.S. Acres, a farm inhabited by a cast of quirky animals.

Garfield, voiced by Lorenzo Music, retained his lasagna-loving, Monday-hating persona from the comics. His witty commentary and lazy charm endeared him to audiences of all ages. Odie, Jon’s lovable but simple-minded dog, and the sarcastic Garfield shared countless misadventures and comedic moments.

The U.S. Acres segments introduced an ensemble of farm animals led by Orson Pig, who often found themselves in humorous predicaments. The humor and animation style seamlessly adapted the charm of Davis’s comic strips to the small screen.

The show’s success lay in its ability to capture the essence of the original comics while expanding the world with additional characters. The catchy theme song, “Friends are There,” set the tone for the cheerful and entertaining atmosphere of “Garfield and Friends.” The series remains a nostalgic gem, remembered fondly for bringing the iconic feline’s antics to animated glory and introducing a new generation to the timeless humor of Garfield.

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#6: Ducktales

DuckTales,” the animated series that premiered in 1987, became an iconic cornerstone of ’80s television, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of viewers. Produced by Disney Television Animation, the show centered around the adventures of Scrooge McDuck, his grandnephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and their friends Launchpad McQuack and Webby Vanderquack.

The series brought to life the comic book world created by Carl Barks, immersing audiences in a whirlwind of treasure hunts, daring escapades, and encounters with memorable characters like the Beagle Boys and Flintheart Glomgold. Scrooge McDuck’s quest for wealth and the thrill of adventure struck a chord with audiences, making him one of the most beloved characters in animation.

“DuckTales” was characterized by its clever writing, dynamic animation, and an infectious theme song that remains etched in the memories of fans. The show’s success was not only in its captivating storytelling but also in its ability to blend humor, adventure, and heartwarming moments, creating a timeless animated classic.

Decades later, the cultural impact of “DuckTales” endures. The 2017 reboot of the series is a testament to its enduring popularity, introducing a new generation to the escapades of Scrooge McDuck and his adventurous grandnephews. “DuckTales” remains a nostalgic treasure, celebrated for its timeless appeal and its contribution to the rich legacy of animated storytelling.

#5: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (TMNT), the animated series that premiered in 1987, became a cultural phenomenon, blending action, humor, and pizza-fueled adventures to captivate audiences of all ages. Created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the show introduced the world to four anthropomorphic turtles—Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael—trained in ninjitsu by their rat sensei, Splinter.

Set against the backdrop of New York City, the turtles fought crime and faced off against their arch-nemesis, the Shredder, and his army of Foot Clan ninjas. The series embraced a balance of action and humor, with each turtle boasting a distinctive personality that resonated with viewers.

TMNT’s success extended beyond television, spawning a vast merchandising empire that included action figures, comic books, and feature films. The catchy theme song, memorable catchphrases, and the turtles’ unique weapon choices became iconic elements of ’80s pop culture.

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” not only rejuvenated interest in the comic book source material but also sparked a craze that has endured for decades. The turtles’ popularity persists, with subsequent iterations, reboots, and a dedicated fanbase that spans generations, cementing TMNT’s place as one of the most influential and beloved animated series of the 1980s.

#4: Super Mario Brothers Super Show

The “Super Mario Bros. Super Show!” burst onto television screens in 1989, bringing the beloved characters from the iconic video game series to animated life. Produced by DIC Animation and featuring live-action segments with the enthusiastic Captain Lou Albano as Mario and Danny Wells as Luigi, the show became an immediate hit.

Each episode began with the animated adventures of the Mario Bros. in the Mushroom Kingdom. They were joined by Princess Toadstool, Toad, and a host of other familiar characters as they thwarted the nefarious plans of King Koopa (Bowser) and his Koopa Troopas. The blend of humor, action, and the catchy “Do the Mario” theme song made it a favorite among young audiences.

The live-action segments featured the jovial interactions of Albano and Wells as the Mario Bros., engaging in comedic banter while introducing the animated segments. The show’s unique format endeared it to fans and showcased the enduring appeal of the Super Mario franchise.

Decades later, “The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!” remains a nostalgic gem, fondly remembered for its entertaining blend of animation and live-action, capturing the essence of the beloved video game characters and contributing to the broader cultural impact of the Super Mario Bros. universe.

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#3: Thundercats

“ThunderCats,” the animated series that debuted in 1985, stands as a quintessential example of ’80s animated excellence, combining epic fantasy, science fiction, and unforgettable characters. Produced by Rankin/Bass, the show introduced viewers to the inhabitants of the distant planet Thundera, including the noble Lion-O and his feline companions, each endowed with unique abilities.

The ThunderCats, facing the evil Mumm-Ra and his army of mutants, embarked on adventures filled with magic, technology, and moral lessons. The series struck a perfect balance between action and storytelling, creating a captivating narrative that resonated with a wide audience.

The characters, from the fearless leader Lion-O to the agile Cheetara and the tech-savvy Panthro, became iconic figures in the world of animated television. The show’s distinctive animation style and imaginative world-building contributed to its enduring legacy.

“ThunderCats” transcended its animated format, inspiring comic books, action figures, and a devoted fanbase that remains passionate to this day. The iconic “ThunderCats, ho!” rallying cry and the opening sequence, featuring the transformation of the Sword of Omens, are etched into the memories of those who experienced the magic of this ’80s animated classic. “ThunderCats” remains a testament to the creativity and storytelling prowess of the era, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape of animated television.

#2: Jem

“Jem and the Holograms,” an animated series that premiered in 1985, transcended the typical Saturday morning cartoon fare, offering a unique blend of music, fashion, and adventure. Created by Christy Marx and produced by Hasbro and Marvel Productions, the show centered around Jerrica Benton, who, with the help of her holographic computer Synergy, transformed into the glamorous rock star Jem.

As the lead singer of the Holograms, Jem navigated the challenges of the music industry while maintaining a dual identity. The show was a vibrant celebration of creativity, self-expression, and female empowerment. Jem and her bandmates, Kimber, Aja, Shana, and Raya, embarked on musical tours, faced rival bands like the Misfits and the Stingers, and tackled social issues, all while showcasing dazzling fashion and music videos.

“Jem” was groundbreaking in its representation of strong, diverse female characters and its incorporation of original music, further blurring the lines between animation and the music industry. The memorable theme song, “Jem, Jem is truly outrageous,” became an anthem for fans.

While the show’s initial run was relatively short-lived, “Jem and the Holograms” left an indelible mark on popular culture. It garnered a dedicated fanbase and has achieved cult status in the years since its original airing, celebrated for its bold storytelling, catchy tunes, and its influential impact on the fusion of animation and music in the ’80s.

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#1: GI Joe

“G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero,” the animated series that premiered in 1983, was not merely a cartoon; it was a cultural phenomenon that defined an era. Created by Ron Friedman and produced by Marvel Productions and Sunbow Productions, the show served as a crucial element in Hasbro’s integrated marketing strategy to promote its line of action figures.

Set against the backdrop of the ongoing battle between the heroic G.I. Joe team and the nefarious Cobra organization, the series delivered action-packed episodes infused with moral lessons and patriotic fervor. The show featured a vast ensemble of characters, from Duke and Scarlett to Cobra Commander and Destro, each with their unique traits and backgrounds.

The iconic PSA segments at the end of each episode, reinforcing life lessons such as fire safety and the importance of education, became synonymous with the show. The memorable opening theme, “G.I. Joe, a real American hero,” and the battle cry of “Yo Joe!” are etched into the memories of fans.

“G.I. Joe” was more than entertainment; it was a formative experience for a generation, instilling values of heroism, teamwork, and standing up against tyranny. The series successfully blurred the line between entertainment and marketing, cementing its place as a classic ’80s cartoon that left an enduring impact on pop culture, action figures, and the hearts of those who grew up with it.

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Author: guyute