Ah the 1980s – funky music, high top fades and awesome Saturday morning cartoons!
I was feeling a bit nostalgic so I decided to do a list of some of the toons that made my childhood so much fun. For the list the cartoon must have premiered in the 1980s so you will not find any Flinstones, Scooby-Doo or Looney Tunes here.
So let’s dive into the list:
#20 Dino Riders (1988)
I don’t remember much from this series but I remember that both the heroes and the villains rode dinosaurs and fought with dinosaurs. What else do you really need to know?
#19 The Smurfs (1981-1989)
The lovable Smurfs and their adventures, and seeing the perpetual failure of wizard Gargamel, was always the pleasant distraction. And much more enjoyable than those awful live action movies. Those are not smurfy at all.
#18 She Ra: Princess of Power (1985)
She-Ra was one hot mama jamma. Can you say legorama? Her adventures were not as cool as her twin brother Adam/He-Man but they were okay.
#17 Inspector Gadget (1983-1996)
What a toe-tapping tune and a fun silly character. You never knew what device would pop out of his cyborg body. And mysterious bad guy Dr. Claw was legit creepy.
#16 Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends (1981-1983)
Spidey, Iceman and Firestar battling super baddies?! It was like a comic book come to life! Sure it has not aged well but back then this was exciting stuff.
#15 Muppet Babies(1984-1991)
This cuter, baby version of The Muppets were so much fun, especially when they imagined adventures based on iconic film scenes.
#14 Thundarr the Barbarian (1980-1982)
Sure he had an imitation lightsaber with an imitation Chewbacca sidekick, but his adventures were action-packed and had a dark tone.
#13 The Real Ghostbusters (1986-1991)
We had a great time watching these four battle ghosts, vampires and all sorts of supernatural nasties. And Slimer was a cool mascot.
#12 M.A.S.K. (1985-1986)
Masks with special abilities and vehicles that could transform into other vehicles? How cool is that?! I mean, not as cool as vehicles that transform into robots and vice versa, but still pretty cool.
#11 Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers (1989-1990)
Two chipmunks, two rats and a fly go about having adventures. What more do you want in a Saturday morning cartoon?
#10 BraveStarr (1987-1988)
This outer space lawman had “the strength of a bear, speed of a puma” et cetera. A futuristic western setting, strange aliens and a talking horse – come on, this show was 12 flavours of awesome sauce. And in retrospect an Native American lead character was quite novel back then and even now. Good on you BraveStarr.
#9 DuckTales (1987-1990)
The greedy Scrooge McDuck and his nephews globe-trotting adventures were chuck full of creative locations and interesting characters. And boy was that theme song catchy. Actually almost all these shows had fantastic theme songs.
#8 Centurions (1986)
One of the most action-heavy cartoons on this list, Centurions featured men that could use exo-frames to bond with various weapon sets. Each of the three characters had their own area of expertise: air, sea and land. With lots and lots of robot-blasting action, many boys would have grown their first chest hair after watching this show.
#7 The Super Mario Bros. Show/The Legend of Zelda (1989)
The quality of the show may not have been that good but the novelty of seeing your favorite video game characters on screen made up for that. The Zelda sequences were especially entertaining. Didn’t like it? Well ex-cuuuse me Princess!
#6 He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983-1984)
What’s cooler than He-Man waving his sword and riding the mighty Battle Cat? Nothing. The answer is nothing. This popular series had such a great roster of both heroes and villains. And Skeletor, with his skull face and cackling laugh, remains one of the most iconic of cartoon big bads.
#5 G.I. Joe (1983-1986)
From the pumping theme song you know that lots of action awaits. A lot of cool characters and a lot of (non-lethal) violence in various exciting locales made for a great series. And it was topped off with a morality play at the end. Knowing is half the battle people. Knowing is half the battle.
#4 ThunderCats (1985-1986)
Thunder! Thunder! Thundercats! Hoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
What a joy it was to watch cool cat people fighting mutants led by the scary Mumm-Ra THE EVER LIVING! Muhahahahaha.
But seriously I was Tygra with his cool whip and I had a huge crush on Cheetara. Yeah I said it, and I am not ashamed. They tried a reboot in the 2011 but they failed to capture the cool factor of the original.
#3 Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers (1986-1989)
What do you get when you mix a western with sci-fi and add superpowers? Why, this awesome show of course. Galaxy Rangers had so much style, personality and great action. My favorite character was the shape-shifting Shane Gooseman. He was too cool for school. But why did the black guy, Walter “Doc” Hartford have to get the lamest powers? Hacking as a superpower? Seriously? At least he was funny.
If any show could do with a reboot it is this 80s gem. Just listen to that rocking theme song and tell me you are not pumped up for more Galaxy Rangers.
#2 Transformers (1984-1987)
Robots that transform into vehicles and fight other robots that also transform into vehicles. This blew our ever loving child minds! And that opening theme – epic squared. Super cool Optimus Prime, evil Megatron, cool sounding Soundwave, treacherous Starscream, awesome Dinobots and combining Transformers made for a truly exciting experience. I would not recommend rewatching the episodes though. They do not hold up well at all. Oh nostalgia.
#1 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1988-1993)
Heroes in a half shell, turtle power! Was there ever any doubt? This turtle foursome and their long running series was the quintessential 80s cartoon. Nothing even comes close. So many cool mutant villains and a few allies as well, a slice of pizza and TMNT was all you needed to have a superb Saturday morning.
With the many, many cartoons released during the awesome 80s I am sure to have missed out a few of your favorites. Why not share them in the comments? And if you enjoyed this post feel free to like share it with your peeps.
For more animated action you can check out the Top 10 Rurouni Kenshin (Samurai X) Fights here.