Cartoons we all love from the 1980s include Danger Mouse, Inspector Gadget, Rainbow Brite, My Little Pony, and Moon Dreamers.
For those of us from a particular generation, nothing in our childhood could top Saturday mornings. The weekend had arrived, giving us a two-day break from school.
In celebration, we eagerly woke up early on Saturdays, dressed in our Care Bears or He-Man pajamas, filled a bowl with sugary cereal, and plopped down in front of the TV for hours, immersing ourselves with our favorite cartoon characters.
The Brilliance of 80s Cartoons 📺
Countless options exist for watching funny kids’ movies, but for many of us, ’80s cartoons held a special place as Saturday-morning exclusives. Waking up earlier than our parents and claiming a spot in front of the TV became the highlight of our week.
46Danger Mouse – 80s Cartoons
First episode: September 28, 1981
Danger Mouse, an iconic and widely loved 1980s cartoon show, enthralled audiences with its distinctive mix of humor, adventure, and unforgettable characters. Airing originally from 1981 to 1992, this British animated series chronicled the exhilarating escapades of its titular hero, Danger Mouse, and his loyal sidekick, Penfold.
As the world’s greatest secret agent, Danger Mouse embodied fearlessness and boasted a sharp intellect and relentless determination.
45Rainbow Brite (1984–1986) 📺
Rainbow Brite, one of the famous 80s cartoons, alongside her reliable sidekick Twink, radiated joy in Rainbow Land with the aid of the Color Kids and their enchanted Color Belt. Together, they stood firm against the wicked Murky Dismal and his accomplice Lurky, with a mission to infuse happiness and positivity across the universe.
Yet, Rainbow Brite’s heroics extended further: she thwarted the malevolent King Kaleidoscope’s plans to ruin Christmas and ventured to Spectra, Rainbow Land’s gloomy counterpart, aiming to revive its colorless terrains.
While Rainbow Brite is undoubtedly a symbol of ’80s animation, her timeless message of dispersing joy and vibrancy endures.
44She-Ra: Princess of Power (1985–1987)
She-Ra: Princess of Power, a captivating and empowering cartoon from the 1980s, captured viewers’ imagination with its fantastic storyline, engaging characters, and strong female protagonist. Debuting in 1985, this animated series was developed as a counterpart to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, targeting a female audience while maintaining appeal for all viewers.
The show follows the adventures of Princess Adora, the long-lost twin sister of Prince Adam (He-Man), who discovers her true identity and destiny as She-Ra, the Princess of Power.
43My Little Pony (1986–1987)
My Little Pony first galloped into our lives in 1986, and it’s safe to say we were delighted. These colorful little horse toys quickly became a staple in childhood playtime. Fast forward to today, My Little Pony continues to charm both old and new generations with its whimsical world of friendship and magic.
It’s no wonder the franchise is still going strong, with a successful TV series and even a feature film. So saddle up because My Little Pony shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Who knows what exciting adventures await in this beloved franchise’s future?
42Pound Puppies (1985–1988)
Pound Puppies, a heartwarming and endearing kids’ show from the 1980s, won viewers’ hearts with its lovable characters, engaging storylines, and overarching themes of friendship and teamwork. The animated series, originally aired from 1986 to 1989, revolved around a group of canine heroes who dedicated themselves to finding loving homes for lonely puppies.
Set in a dog shelter called the Pound, the Pound Puppies, led by the wise and caring Cooler, worked tirelessly to match puppies with their perfect human companions while evading the show’s comical antagonists, Katrina Stoneheart and her spoiled daughter, Brattina.
41Moon Dreamers (1986–1987) 📺
Moon Dreamers, a whimsical and imaginative children’s show from the 1980s, charmed audiences with its charming characters, lively animation, and captivating storylines.
Airing in 1986, this animated series took viewers on a journey to the magical world of Starry Up, where the diligent Moon Dreamers ensured that children on Earth experienced sweet dreams.
Under the guidance of the resourceful and compassionate Crystal Starr, the Moon Dreamers crafted and delivered dream crystals to the slumbering children on Earth.
40Adventures of the Gummi Bears (1985–1991)
Adventures of the Gummi Bears, a delightful and engaging Saturday morning cartoon from the 1980s, captured kids’ hearts with its lovable characters, exciting adventures, and magical world.
This animated series, which aired from 1985 to 1991, introduced audiences to the enchanting realm of the Gummi Bears, a hidden community of small, magical bears that can bounce using their secret Gummi Berry Juice.
39Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers (1989–1990)
Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers, a beloved and action-packed cartoon from the 1980s, captured children’s imaginations with its fun characters, adventurous storylines, and humorous situations.
This animated series, originally aired from 1989 to 1990, starred the iconic Disney duo Chip and Dale as they embarked on daring missions to help those in need.
Chip and Dale formed the Rescue Rangers in the show, a detective agency that took on cases too small for the police to handle.
Richie Rich, a popular and entertaining cartoon from the 1980s, charmed audiences with its blend of humor, adventure, and the fascinating world of the richest kid on Earth. The animated series, which aired from 1980 to 1984, was based on the Harvey Comics character of the same name, who had entertained readers since the 1950s.
The show revolved around the life of Richie Rich, a kind-hearted and generous young boy who, despite his immense wealth, always put his friends and family first.
37Dungeons & Dragons
This carton series was the best in the Dungeons & Dragons adaptations. It was a fantastic exhibition of Japanese animation and Western-style script and setting. Marvel produced this series, and Toei Animation drew it.
The production was about friends who got sucked into their RP module and were supposed to play to get out. It inspired modern animations such as Sword Art Online and movies like Jumanji.
36Muppet Babies 🕹️
Muppet Babies, a cherished and imaginative 80s cartoon, charmed children and adults alike with endearing characters, inventive storylines, and heartwarming themes.
Airing originally from 1984 to 1991, this animated series showcased the beloved Muppet characters from Jim Henson’s Muppet Show as cute, younger versions of themselves.
The unique premise, captivating characters, and emphasis on imagination, friendship, and empathy made Muppet Babies an iconic 1980s cartoon. Its enduring popularity led to a rebooted series in 2018, captivating a new generation with the enchanting world of the Muppet Babies.
The beloved and imaginative 80s cartoon, The Wuzzles, delighted children with its adorable characters, captivating premise, and entertaining storylines. Airing in 1985, this animated series transported viewers to a magical world where hybrid creatures called Wuzzles roamed free.
Each Wuzzle was a blend of two different animals, resulting in unique and endearing characters such as Bumblelion (a mixture of a bumblebee and a lion), Eleroo (an elephant and a kangaroo), and Butterbear (a butterfly and a bear).
34Jem and the Holograms 🕹️
Apart from enjoying that during the show, I also enjoyed its science fiction twist. This was in the form of Synergy, a hologram computer. Popularly known as Jem, this was about Jem and the Holograms, a lead singer of The Holograms and her alter ego.
Jem’s father built this computer, and Jem could sync it using her earrings to change her appearance and project a different image of her. It took years for the IA pop star to come to life. This may explain why so many people easily forget about this gem.
Snorks, a notable name among 80s cartoons, is an animated series co-produced by Hanna-Barbera & SEPP International in association with 3M France.
It aired on NBC from September 15, 1984, to May 13, 1989, spanning four seasons with a total of 65 episodes. Additionally, from 1987 to 1989, fans could catch reruns of the show in syndication as part of The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera’s third season.
32Fat Albert And The Cosby Kids
A staple among Saturday morning cartoons, the show seamlessly blended entertainment with education. Each episode spotlighted an instructive lesson, further highlighted by Cosby’s live-action segments.
And, as a signature close to the early episodes, the gang would gather in their North Philadelphia junkyard, delivering a musical number with their makeshift instruments that neatly summarized the day’s lesson.
In the series crafted by the French Jean Chalopin, viewers are transported to a fantasy world where Ulysses and his crew clash with the celestial beings governing the cosmos – the ancient gods from Greek mythology.
The Gods of Olympus’ wrath is kindled when Ulysses, commander of the gargantuan spaceship Odyssey, slays the massive Cyclops to liberate a group of captive children, among whom is his son.
SuperTed stands as a wildly successful Welsh superhero animated television series centered around an anthropomorphic teddy bear endowed with superpowers, birthed from the creative genius of writer and animator Mike Young.
What began as a heartfelt series of stories crafted by Young to help his son conquer his fear of the dark transformed into a beloved series of books and subsequently, an animated series that aired from 1982 to 1986.
29Denver, The Last Dinosaur
Set against the backdrop of classic Saturday morning cartoons, the show dives into the thrilling escapades of Denver, the title’s last dinosaur. Unearthed from his egg by a spirited group of California teens – Jeremy, Mario, Shades, and Wally – Denver learns the art of skateboarding and other modern-day joys under their guidance.
Among the pantheon of iconic 80’s cartoons, this particular show enjoyed immense success upon its premiere on ABC. Later on, it made history by becoming one of the inaugural cartoons to grace the Fox Channel’s Fox Kids lineup.
This unique arrangement meant that viewers could catch Beetlejuice from Monday to Friday on FOX and still tune in to its episodes on ABC’s Saturday morning schedule. This made it a rare gem in American TV history, broadcasting concurrently on two distinct networks.
Super Friends, an animated series chronicling the adventures of a superhero team, initially aired in the seventies but extended its popularity well into the era of 1980 cartoons. Although it commenced before the eighties, it underwent a significant name and format transformation at the decade’s onset.
This reimagined Justice League-inspired cartoon now presented its superheroic escapades in seven-minute shorts, which became a staple in ABC’s Saturday morning cartoon lineup.
26Dennis The Menace
This series, a staple among 80s classic cartoons, was first broadcast in syndication in the U.S., with distribution handled by General Mills.
The inaugural season saw its episodes in syndication, where each half-hour segment was divided into three six or seven-minute shorts. The entire show enjoyed the backing and sponsorship of General Mills.
The 80s animated series “Babar,” produced by Canada’s Nelvana Limited and the Clifford Ross Company, initially aired from January 3, 1989, to June 5, 1991, delivering 65 episodes. Later, in 2000, another 13 episodes were broadcast.
The French/American studio DIC Audiovisuel produced “The Littles” (French: Les Minipouss), an animated television series that aired from 1983 to 1985, making it a staple among 80s Saturday cartoons.
The show draws its characters from “The Littles,” a series of children’s novels penned by American author John Peterson, with the inaugural book launching in 1967.
Count Duckula, emanating from the creative minds at the British studio Cosgrove Hall Films, stands out as one of the unforgettable Saturday morning cartoons.
Spanning four series from 6 September 1988 to 16 February 1993, a total of 65 episodes, each roughly 22 minutes in length, entertained audiences worldwide.
Popples, a Saturday morning classic, is an animated television series inspired by the Popples toys. The brainchild of Marie Cisterino, Janet Jones, Fran Kariotakis, Janet Redding, and Susan Trentel, the show captivated audiences in the United States through syndication from 1986 to 1987 and graced the screens of Sky Channel in the United Kingdom from 1987 to 1988.
One of my favorites from Canada, CBS produced this cartoon series and syndicated it to Disney. The setting of the series seems like a cottage country in Ontario. There’s an evergreen forest where Bert Raccoon and his animal friends live.
Various antagonists tried to ruin his fun, including Cyril Sneer, a dam builder, greedy tree dweller, and an eagle named Milton Mida. Whenever I remember the theme song in this cartoon series with an enduring environmental message, I feel good.
20Willo the Wisp
I also enjoyed this BBC show for entertaining adults and children. It used to air between the after-school shows. This explains why it was very appealing with its witty humor. A French version of this cartoon series was released in Canada in the 1980s.
The characters in Willo the Wisp were from educational cartoons to promote national energy interests. This series was shot in Doyley Woods, near the director’s home. The charming story and excellent animations stayed in my memories. There was a remake of the series in 2005.
Rankin Bass introduced this cartoon series with a distinctive flair, setting it apart from Hanna-Barbara or Disney productions. Taking inspiration from the widely popular 80s cartoon cats, ThunderCats, the show was envisioned as an outer-space counterpart. Marvel coincided its broadcast by launching a comic series.
The narrative unfolds in the enigmatic Galaxy of Limbo, marked by unique planets and a radiant white star at its core. The storyline revolves around a galactic police force equipped with bionic implants and metallic suits to enhance their capabilities. This series has remained timeless with its blend of science fiction and mecha elements.
This cartoon series was based on a Belgian comic by Peyo. I first saw animated characters in his wit in 1981, thanks to Hannah-Barbera Productions. Like regular comics, the story is about blue human-like creatures that live in mushrooms in a beautiful forest.
These tiny creatures were so cute and survived by repeatedly outwitting Gargamel, an evil sorcerer, his evil cat Azrael and apprentice Scruple. Many others liked this cartoon series, encouraging various spinoffs, merchandise, and feature movies.
If you enjoyed the movies, you would love the cartoon, as I did. The original series in the franchise first aired in 1984. Millions of other kids, including myself, were mesmerized by the giant robots that transformed into cars and other objects.
You can’t watch the series and fail to get hooked on the action. There’s a chance you’ll become another die-hard fan of this franchise.
15The Real Ghostbusters
This one was released two years after the movie’s release in 1986. The story is about a group of paranormal investigators. The animated version was a great idea for the younger folks, leaving them delighted.
Ghostbusters became an excellent example of animated series that became nostalgic. The original foursome in the movie was joined by Slimer, who wasn’t so human, and Janine, their human secretary. These go about regularly searching for ghosts in New York City and worldwide.
Care Bears, a beloved and iconic 1980s cartoon, enchanted audiences with its colorful characters, heartwarming messages, and imaginative setting. This animated series, which aired from 1985 to 1988, followed the adventures of the Care Bears – a group of magical bears with unique symbols on their tummies that represented different positive emotions.
The Care Bears lived in the Kingdom of Caring, spreading love, kindness, and happiness to the world.
13 Alvin and the Chipmunks 🌟
The classic and entertaining 80s cartoon Alvin and the Chipmunks captured the hearts of audiences with its memorable characters, catchy music, and humorous situations. This animated series, which aired from 1983 to 1990, followed the adventures of the trio of chipmunks, Alvin, Simon, Theodore, and their manager and father figure, Dave Seville.
Alvin, the energetic and mischievous leader, often found himself in humorous predicaments. At the same time, Simon, the intelligent and serious-minded chipmunk, and Theodore, the lovable and innocent youngest member, provided balance to the group.
12Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends
Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, a thrilling and action-packed 1980s cartoon, captivated audiences with its iconic superhero characters, exciting adventures, and imaginative storytelling. This animated series, which aired from 1981 to 1986, followed Spider-Man and his superhero friends, Iceman and Firestar, as they teamed up to fight crime and protect their city from various villains.
Each episode showcased the trio of heroes using their unique abilities to overcome their foes and save the day. They battled against iconic villains such as Doctor Octopus, the Green Goblin, and Magneto.
11G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero
Each episode showcased the G.I. Joe team battling against Cobra, using their unique skills and advanced technology to thwart their plans and preserve American freedom. The show featured memorable characters such as Duke, Scarlett, Snake Eyes, and Cobra Commander, among others, and memorable catchphrases like “knowing is half the battle.”
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero remains a beloved 80s cartoon for its thrilling action, patriotic themes, and iconic characters. Its popularity has led to various adaptations, merchandise, and even a live-action film franchise, showcasing the enduring appeal of the G.I. Joe franchise.
10Garfield And Friends
The 1988 animated series brought Jim Davis’ comic Garfield to life. I got to see Garfield talk and move for the first time. Watching Garfield send Nermal to Timbuktu as he ate all the lasagna was amusing.
Apart from Garfield and his friends, the series also portrayed characters in Adventures of Acres in various segments. A movie about Garfield was released in 2004 by Davis Entertainment, selling $203.2 million at the box office.
9The Bugs Bunny Show
This animated series is an anthology whose first appearance was in 1948 until its tenure ended in 2000. It was one of the longest-running cartoon series in the US after running for 52 years.
All show episodes would run for half an hour, segmented into three shorter parts since its inception. Watching the Bugs Bunny Show was my favorite every Saturday morning.
8Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The 1987 animated series, which spotlighted some of the most iconic cartoon characters in the 80s, was adapted from a comic bearing the same name. The narrative centers on four mutant turtles that made New York City’s sewers their home and training ground.
Under the guidance of Master Splinter, they honed their martial arts skills. When they weren’t indulging in pizza, these ninja turtles took on formidable foes like Shredder and Krang.
This series marked the television debut of these heroes in a half-shell. Their undeniable impact on 80s pop culture makes it impossible to omit them from any retrospective list.
7Adventures Of the Gummi Bears
The iconic and thrilling cartoon from the 1980s, Adventures of the Gummi Bears, captured the hearts of audiences with its lovable characters, captivating storylines, and exhilarating action.
Transporting viewers to a world of adventure and magic, this animated series aired from 1985 to 1991. It followed the Gummi Bears, a group of magical creatures, as they fought to protect their homeland and way of life.
With the wise Zummi Gummi as their leader, the Gummi Bears embarked on exciting quests, aided by their human allies, such as the brave squire Cavin and Princess Calla. Utilizing their unique abilities and magical Gummi Berry Juice, they overcame foes like the evil Duke Igthorn and his army of ogres.
6DuckTales – Famous 80s Cartoons
DuckTales, one of the iconic 80s cartoons, is an animated series masterfully crafted by Disney Television Animation, which debuted in 1987. This isn’t your typical cartoon portraying ducks in their natural habitats, like nesting or foraging for worms.
Instead, it plunges viewers into a whirlwind of adventures spearheaded by the legendary duckling trio – Dewey, Huey, and Louie – all under the watchful eye of their treasure-loving uncle, Scrooge McDuck. The escapades these young ducks embark on are nothing short of epic.
5He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe
On the 80s cartoons list, “He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe” stands out prominently. Launched in 1983, this animated series encapsulates the very essence of the ‘80s animation.
Prince Adam, the main character and the son of Eternia’s king and queen, wields a magical sword that transforms him into He-Man, the mightiest being in the universe. Alongside his loyal allies, He-Man relentlessly challenges the malicious plans of Skeletor, who covets the throne of Eternia.
4Heathcliff & The Catillac Cats
“Heathcliff & The Catillac Cats” stands out as one of the memorable cartoons in the 80s. Produced by DIC Audiovisuel, this children’s animated series first graced the screens on September 3, 1984.
Its debut season released 65 half-hour episodes in 1984, captivating audiences in first-run syndication. A subsequent season featuring 21 episodes was aired in 1985 and continued in syndication until its conclusion in 1988.
3Inspector Gadget – 80s Cartoons
First episode: December 4, 1982
Final episode: February 1, 1986
Networks: Nickelodeon, CBS, Fox Kids, Jetix, Freeform, Vietnam Television, RAI, France 3, ITV
Inspector Gadget, a highly entertaining and beloved 1980s cartoon, captivated audiences with its ideal combination of humor, adventure, and cutting-edge technology. Airing from 1983 to 1986, this animated series revolved around the exploits of the clumsy yet lovable cyborg detective Inspector Gadget and his clever niece, Penny.
Armed with numerous gadgets built into his body, Inspector Gadget would unintentionally become entwined in missions aimed at foiling the nefarious plans of the sinister Dr. Claw and his devious organization, M.A.D.
The first Japanese entry on my list, this cartoon series, was an adaptation of a 1984 anime series. Its premise isn’t simple. The story was based on five pilots who commanded five robot lions to form Voltron, the ultimate robot.
Pilots would board these machines to save planet Uurus from King Zarkon, an evil warlord. Haggar was also difficult to deal with. He would form monsters that caused terror, including the world Princess Allura ruled. The action in this cartoon series was very mesmerizing.
This cartoon series was about a team of superheroes. It first aired in the 1970s but entered the 1980s. The adventures of these superheroes were presented in seven-minute episodes aired during the Saturday morning cartoon lineup on ABC. Superfriends became extremely popular and inspired various spinoffs, collectible toys, and video games.
When wondering what could give you some quick humor to brighten your day, consider 80s cartoons. I have made your selection easier by highlighting some of my favorites. The choices have different themes, but I have balanced them by including favorites with cute animals and superheroes.
Female Cartoon Characters From The 19080s
- She-Ra from “She-Ra: Princess of Power” (1985)
- Smurfette from “The Smurfs” (1981)
- Jem from “Jem and the Holograms” (1985)
- Lady Jaye from “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” (1983)
- Teela from “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” (1983)
- Cheetara from “ThunderCats” (1985)
- Rainbow Brite from “Rainbow Brite” (1984)
- April O’Neil from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (1987)
- Princess Allura from “Voltron: Defender of the Universe” (1984)
- Adora from “She-Ra: Princess of Power” (1985)
- Callie Briggs from “Swat Kats: The Radical Squadron” (1989)
- Harley Quinn from “Batman: The Animated Series” (1992)
- Dot from “Animaniacs” (1993)
- Gadget Hackwrench from “Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers” (1989)
- Elmyra Duff from “Tiny Toon Adventures” (1990)
- Sailor Moon from “Sailor Moon” (1992)
- Betty Boop from “The Betty Boop Show” (1985)
- Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” (1992)
- Ginger Foutley from “As Told by Ginger” (2000)
- Miss Piggy from “Muppet Babies” (1984)
Male Cartoon Characters From The 80s
- Optimus Prime from “The Transformers” (1984)
- He-Man from “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” (1983)
- Skeletor from “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” (1983)
- G.I. Joe from “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” (1983)
- Cobra Commander from “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” (1983)
- Lion-O from “ThunderCats” (1985)
- Panthro from “ThunderCats” (1985)
- Bugs Bunny from “Looney Tunes” (1980)
- Daffy Duck from “Looney Tunes” (1980)
- Michelangelo from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (1987)
- Donatello from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (1987)
- Raphael from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (1987)
- Leonardo from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (1987)
- Papa Smurf from “The Smurfs” (1981)
- Megatron from “The Transformers” (1984)
- Starscream from “The Transformers” (1984)
- ThunderCats’ leader Jaga from “ThunderCats” (1985)
- Garfield from “Garfield and Friends” (1988)
- Alf from “ALF: The Animated Series” (1987)
- Scrooge McDuck from “DuckTales” (1987)