The best 1970s cartoons include Scooby-Doo, The Pink Panther Show, Super Friends, Josie and the Pussycats, and the Groovie Goolies.
Cartoon creators from the 1970s produced markedly distinct animations from today’s variants. They mainly used their artistic abilities to conjure special and frequently recycled audio effects.
Even with their old-fashioned aesthetic, these 70s animations still manage to engage viewers and retain their entertaining appeal.
A Look Back at 1970s Cartoons
This blog post is an exciting trip down memory lane. It aims at having those of us who grew up in the 70s drown in nostalgia and introduce the newer generation to the shows that made us.
Therefore, I will consider all shows running in the 70s, including those released earlier. No matter what anyone says, 70s cartoons rule the barnyard! Let me tell you about some of my favorites growing up!
34The Great Grape Ape Show – 1975
The Great Grape Ape Show, which premiered in 1975, is a unique standout among animated television series from the 1970s. Produced by Hanna-Barbera, the series featured the titular Grape Ape, a forty-foot-tall purple gorilla, and his companion, a small, quick-thinking dog named Beegle Beagle, known as “Beegly Beagly” to Grape Ape.
33Plastic Man – 1979
Ruby-Spears Productions produced The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show, an animated television series, from 1979 to 1981. The ABC Network aired it right after Super Friends.
The show brought to life the various adventures of the DC Comics superhero, Plastic Man. The anthology series showcased several segments featuring Plastic Man, Baby Plas, Plastic Family, Mighty Man and Yukk, Fangface and Fangpuss, and Rickety Rocket.
32Jabberjaw – 70s Shark Cartoon
Jabberjaw was a 30-minute animated television series produced by Hanna-Barbera, first aired on ABC in September 1976. The show was influenced by popular culture, particularly the success of “Jaws,” the 1975 blockbuster movie, and popular rock bands. The title character, Jabberjaw, is a 15-foot-tall anthropomorphic great white shark playing drums in an underwater band called The Neptunes.
31Speed Buggy The 70s Dune Buggy Cartoon
Speed Buggy is a memorable animated series from the 1970s centered around an anthropomorphic dune buggy and his adventures. Produced by the prolific Hanna-Barbera Productions, the show premiered in 1973 and quickly found a place in the Saturday morning cartoon lineup.
The series starred Speed Buggy, the titular character, who could think and talk like a human, and his three human companions – driver Tinker, mechanic Mark, and the ever-fashionable Debbie.
30Robonic Stooges – 1978
Norman Maurer developed The Robonic Stooges, a Saturday morning animated series showcasing The Three Stooges as clumsy, crime-fighting cyborg superheroes. Hanna-Barbera Productions produced the series on CBS from September 10, 1977, to March 18, 1978. The show consisted of two segments: The Robonic Stooges and Woofer & Wimper, Dog Detectives.
29The Hobbit – 70s Hobbit Cartoon
OK, so this one is a movie and not a series, but I had to include it, one of my favorites.
The Hobbit, an animated television special, debuted in 1977, bringing J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved fantasy novel to the small screen. It was directed by Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass, collectively known as Rankin/Bass, who were known for their memorable holiday specials and other animated productions.
28Mazinger Z – 1970s Robot Cartoon
Mazinger Z, also known as “Tranzor Z” in its American adaptation, is an influential anime series that debuted in Japan in the early 1970s. The creation of manga artist Go Nagai, the show became a cornerstone in the mecha genre of anime and has had a significant influence on popular culture both in Japan and globally.
27Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle
First episode: September 11, 1976
Created by: Edgar Rice Burroughs (characters)
Original network: CBS
Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle is another notable cartoon series from the 70s that captivated audiences with its thrilling adventures and engaging storytelling. Premiering in 1976, the animated series was based on the famous character Tarzan, created by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
The show brought Tarzan to life on the small screen, portraying him as a brilliant and articulate hero who fought to protect the African jungle and its inhabitants. The series set itself apart from other 70s cartoons with its richly detailed and lush animation, showcasing the beauty and diversity of the jungle.
Original release: September 8, 1973 –; September 6, 1986
Super Friends is a must-rewatch 70s kids’ show that has stood the test of time, thanks to its exciting and action-packed episodes featuring iconic superheroes. Premiering in 1973, Super Friends brought together some of the most famous characters from DC Comics, including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and the Wonder Twins, along with their sidekicks, like Robin and Gleek.
The show followed the adventures of the superheroes as they teamed up to battle various supervillains and save the world from evil plots.
25Fat Albert and the Cosby kids
Final episode: August 10, 1985
First episode: September 9, 1972
Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, which premiered in 1972, was a groundbreaking animated series in the 70s for portraying African American characters and focusing on urban, inner-city life. Created by Bill Cosby, the show followed the adventures of Fat Albert, a kind-hearted and wise teenager, and his group of friends as they navigated life in a Philadelphia neighborhood.
The show broke new ground by featuring a predominantly black cast and addressing various social issues, such as bullying, racism, drug use, and poverty. Through its engaging storytelling and relatable characters, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids educated and entertained viewers while fostering empathy and understanding.
24Josie and the Pussycats
First episode: September 12, 1970
Josie and the Pussycats premiered in September 1970 and instantly became a massive hit. From the lovely leotards to touring the world singing and solving mysteries, these girls were living my dream as a pre-teen girl.
Josie and the Pussycats appeared to draw inspiration from their predecessors, Scooby-Doo, and the Archies. The show’s characters and storyline were reminiscent of Scooby-Doo. There were so many people constantly comparing the two. It also followed the brilliant blend of bubblegum music and comedy of the Archies.
However, rather than being utterly derivative of the two shows, the animated series introduced fresh and exciting ideas, such as shooting the show’s entire second episode in space after the band and their entourage accidentally boarded a rocket ship.
The Godzilla cartoons of the 1970s were a far cry from the destructive, terrifying monster we all know and love. In this iteration, Godzilla was a hero who defended Earth from alien invaders and other giant monsters. It’s almost enough to make you wonder if Godzilla should have its merchandise line targeted at children.
But let’s be honest, Godzilla destroying cities is much more entertaining. And who can resist those signature Godzilla roars? So keep on terrorizing the world, Godzilla.
22The Adventures of Gulliver (1968–1969)
The Adventures of Gulliver first aired in 1974 and followed the adventures of a ship’s doctor who becomes stranded on an island inhabited by tiny people called Lilliputians. The show satirized contemporary political and social issues, such as environmentalism, women’s liberation, and racial prejudice.
The cartoon featured voice acting from iconic stars like Mel Blanc and Casey Kasem and even had a crossover episode with The Jackson Five animated series.
While not as well-known as other 70s cartoons like The Flintstones or The Smurfs, The Adventures of Gulliver remains a cult classic for clever writing and timely themes.
21Cattanooga Cats (1969)
Cattanooga Cats, a 1969 animated television series, captivated audiences with its unique blend of music and comedy. The show centered on anthropomorphic cats who formed a rock band called the Cattanooga Cats, featuring lead singer Country, guitarist Scoots, bassist Groove, and drummer Chessie.
Set in the fictional location of Cattanooga, the show followed their adventures and pursuit of musical success. In addition to the main storyline focused on the Cattanooga Cats, the show presented other segments, such as “Around the World in 79 Days,” “It’s the Wolf,” and “Motormouse and Autocat.”
20Sabrina and the Groovie Goolies (1970)
The ’70s cartoon Sabrina and the Groovie Goolies follows Sabrina Spellman, a teenage witch, as she navigates her powers alongside her friends in the monster-filled town of Monster High.
Along with Sabrina are Frankie Stein, Drac (a vampire), Hauntley (a ghost), Wolfie (a werewolf), and more monsters and ghouls.
Sabrina and the Groovie Goolies is known for its spooky yet comedic tone, as Sabrina and her friends often find themselves in supernatural shenanigans.
Whether it’s accidentally turning someone into a frog or foiling a plot to steal Monster High’s famous Witch’s Brew, Sabrina and the Gang always manage to save the day.
19The Hardy Boys (1969–1971)
The Hardy Boys, an animated television series from the early 1970s, brought the beloved characters of Frank and Joe Hardy to life through animation. Based on the popular mystery book series by Franklin W. Dixon, the show premiered in 1969 and continued to air into the early 1970s. This adaptation transformed the Hardy Boys into a musical group that solved mysteries while touring and performing.
The animated series captured the spirit of the original books by presenting thrilling mysteries and exciting adventures for the two young detectives to solve.
18The Funky Phantom (1971)
The Funky Phantom was a cartoon series that aired in 1971, following the adventures of three teens and their ghostly pal, Molly The Ghost. The group traveled through time, solving mysteries with the help of their ghost-detecting wristwatches.
The Funky Phantom may not have gained as much recognition as other cartoons from the same era, but it’s a hidden gem in classic cartoons.
Plus, who wouldn’t want a ghost as their BFF? The Funky Phantom may not be as well-known as Scooby Doo or The Flintstones, but it’s worth checking out for some good old-fashioned spookiness and fun.
17The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show (1972)
The Flintstones spin-off, The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show premiered in 1972 and followed the teenage adventures of Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm as they navigated high school and dealt with various hijinks.
The show was a hit with viewers and ran for three seasons before its cancellation in 1976. The series also featured appearances from Fred and Wilma Flintstone, Barney and Betty Rubble, and The Great Gazoo.
16Inch High, Private Eye (1973)
Inch High, Private Eye may have only been on TV for one season in 1973, but this pint-sized detective left a big impression. In a world full of giants, Inch High used his small stature to his advantage as he solved cases with the help of his trusty magnifying glass and reliable sidekicks Gator and Spook.
Inch High may have been small in size, but he always managed to catch the bad guys and prove that it’s not the size of the detective but the size of their brain that matters.
15Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch (1974)
Wheelie and his trusty gang of motorcycles made Saturday mornings worth waking up for in the 1970s. These choppers went on wild adventures, foiling the evil plans of Wheelie’s nemesis, Rota Ree and her sidekick, Scrambles.
With Wheelie leading the pack with his “wheel-spinning” abilities, this bunch never had a dull moment. So rev up those engines and take a trip down memory lane with Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch.
14Road Runner (1966–1973)
Road Runner, a beloved animated television series from 1966 to 1973, featured the fast-paced and humorous adventures of two iconic characters: the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. Created by legendary animator Chuck Jones, the show was a production of Warner Bros. Animation and was a part of the larger Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodie’s universe.
The series revolved around the relentless pursuit of the speedy and elusive Road Runner by the determined but hapless Wile E. Coyote.
13The Muppet Show – 1974
The Muppet Show, which debuted in 1974, brought a unique blend of puppetry and humor to audiences in the 1970s.
Created by the legendary Jim Henson, it was not a traditional animated series but an innovative form of physical animation utilizing puppet characters known as Muppets. Despite this, it was a key contributor to the era’s colorful tapestry of televised entertainment for children and families.
12The All-New Popeye Hour (1978–1983)
The All-New Popeye Hour, a cartoon series from the late 1970s, brought the classic character Popeye the Sailor back to television with a new and entertaining format. In 1978, the show was an hour-long animated series featuring several segments, including new Popeye adventures and segments with other characters like Dinky Dog and Private Olive Oyl.
The show continued to showcase the iconic character of Popeye, a tough but good-hearted sailor with an affinity for spinach, which gave him superhuman strength.
11The Addams Family (1973)
The Addams Family 1973 animated series is another classic that defined the landscape of the 1970s cartoon scene. Produced by Hanna-Barbera, it was based on the famous comic strip by Charles Addams and was a follow-up to the live-action television series that aired in the 1960s.
The show featured the unique and macabre Addams family, including Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Lurch, Grandma, Pugsley, Wednesday, and their ubiquitous hand-servant, Thing.
10Harlem Globe Trotters (1970–1973)
The Harlem Globe Trotters were a professional basketball team known for their athletic talent and comedic routines. In 1970, they were the stars of their animated series on CBS called “The Harlem Globe Trotters.” The show followed the team as they traveled the world using their basketball skills to solve problems and defeat villains.
The show featured guest appearances from sports legends such as Muhammad Ali and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar throughout its three-season run. Despite its success, the show was ultimately canceled in 1973 due to declining viewership. However, the Harlem Globe Trotters continue to entertain audiences with their unique brand of basketball and comedy to this day.
9Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1971–1974)
Sabrina the Teenage Witch, an animated television series that aired from 1971 to 1974, brought the charming and magical character of Sabrina Spellman to life. Based on the popular Archie Comics character, the show followed the adventures of Sabrina, a teenage witch who struggled to balance her magical powers with the challenges of everyday teenage life.
Throughout the series, Sabrina lives with her two aunts, Hilda and Zelda, both witches, and her talking cat, Salem. The show often portrayed Sabrina using her magical powers to solve problems, only to discover that her solutions sometimes created even bigger challenges.
8Inch High Private Eye
Inch High Private Eye, another Hanna-Barbera cartoon classic from the 70s, adhered to its title in concept and execution. The show followed the misadventures of an inch-tall private investigator, who leveraged his diminutive size to solve crimes and capers.
Unlike many cartoons, it only lasted one season before falling out of rotation. Nevertheless, this imaginative 70s cartoon stood out for its originality, especially compared to the numerous Scooby-Doo knockoffs featuring teenagers unmasking ghosts.
First episode date: January 6, 1973
Number of episodes: 64
Number of seasons: 7
Schoolhouse Rock is a remarkable cartoon series from the early 70s that combined education and entertainment, making learning fun for children. In 1973, the show featured a series of short, animated segments set to catchy songs covering various subjects such as grammar, mathematics, history, and science.
The show’s innovative approach to education made it an instant hit with children and their parents. The memorable tunes, creative visuals, and engaging content helped children to absorb and retain important information, making learning more enjoyable and effective.
First episode date: September 23, 1962 (Canada)
Final episode date: November 12, 1987
Though originally airing in the 1960s, the Jetsons maintained its status as an iconic show throughout the 1970s, captivating audiences with its futuristic vision and endearing characters. Created by Hanna-Barbera, the same studio responsible for The Flintstones, The Jetsons presented a unique and imaginative view of the future, complete with flying cars, robotic assistants, and other advanced technology.
The show followed the lives of the Jetson family – George, Jane, Judy, Elroy, and their dog Astro – as they navigated their daily routines in the futuristic city of Orbit City.
5Fred Flintstone and Friends – 1977
Fred Flintstone and Friends is another 70s animated cartoon. This show was an anthology series, meaning it brought together several popular animated programs from Hanna-Barbera, with Fred Flintstone serving as the host.
Fred Flintstone himself is a household name in animation. Originating from “The Flintstones,” which aired in the 1960s as the first prime-time animated television series, Fred Flintstone is a boisterous, sometimes bumbling, yet lovable character living in the prehistoric town of Bedrock.
4The Bugs Bunny Show ( 1960–1984 )
“The Bugs Bunny Show” is one of the most popular and enduring cartoons that thrived in the 1970s. First premiering in 1960, it gained momentum in the following decade and became a cultural phenomenon.
This show was renowned for its creative storytelling, humorous dialogues, and memorable characters, with Bugs Bunny himself as the standout. His carrot-chewing, carefree attitude, and witty remarks made him a beloved character for children and adults alike. Bugs Bunny was also known for his catchphrase, “Eh, what’s up, doc?” which became an iconic line in animation.
3Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?
First episode: September 13, 1969
Networks: Cartoon Network, American Broadcasting Company, CBS
Scooby-Doo, undoubtedly one of the most popular and beloved cartoon shows of the 1970s, premiered in 1969. This iconic series quickly won the hearts of children and adults alike thanks to its unique blend of mystery, adventure, and humor.
Following a group of teenagers – Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and their talking Great Dane, Scooby-Doo – the show chronicles their adventures as they solve mysteries involving seemingly supernatural creatures, which usually turn out to be criminals in disguise. The show’s immense popularity in the 1970s stemmed from its ability to engage a broad audience.
2The Pink Panther Show
First episode: September 6, 1969
Final episode: August 30, 1980
The Pink Panther Show, another iconic cartoon series from the 1970s, holds a special place in many hearts. Making its debut in 1969, the show stars the unforgettable and suave Pink Panther, a silent, pink-colored feline character who first appeared in the opening credits of the 1963 live-action film “The Pink Panther,” directed by Blake Edwards.
The character’s immense popularity led to animated short films and, eventually, its television series. Much like other 1970s cartoons, The Pink Panther Show left a lasting impression on viewers and contributed to the golden era of animation.
1Looney Tunes – 70s cartoon
The Looney Tunes cartoons of the 70’s were an essential staple in American childhood. Who could forget Bugs Bunny’s clever one-liners, Daffy Duck’s wild antics, or Sylvester and Tweety’s endless chase scenes? These Looney Tunes provided us with laughter and entertainment for years to come.
But did you know Looney Tunes also had a hand in shaping American history? In 1972, “Bundown at Mountee Ba” tackled the issue of environmentalism long before it became a widespread concern. And who could forget the iconic “I tawt I taw a puddy tat” line from Tweety and Sylvester’s “Gift Wrapped,” which White House officials used in the Watergate scandal?
Aspects That Made 1970s Cartoons Special
Animation Style: The animation style of the ’70s was unique and hand-drawn. The colors were often bright and eye-catching, and the animations had a certain simplicity and charm due to the time limitations of technology and budget.
Content and Themes: Cartoons of the ’70s often embodied the era’s social, political, and cultural changes. They also addressed universal themes of friendship, adventure, and overcoming adversity.
Saturday Morning Cartoons: Saturday mornings were a golden time for cartoons in the ’70s. Networks such as ABC, CBS, and NBC would broadcast a slew of children’s programming, creating a cultural phenomenon that generations remember fondly.
Innovation: The 1970s also saw some new directions in animated storytelling. For instance, Hanna-Barbera’s “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” introduced the concept of an ongoing mystery narrative to children’s cartoons. This was a major departure from the largely episodic structure of earlier cartoons.
Iconic Characters and Series: The 1970s produced several iconic cartoon series and characters. Shows like “Scooby-Doo,” “The Pink Panther,” “Speed Buggy,” “Josie and the Pussycats,” “The Flintstones,” “Tom and Jerry,” “Looney Tunes,” and “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids,” among others, left a lasting impression on audiences. These shows and characters are still beloved by many today.