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Weekend Roundtable: Favorite Cartoon Series

It’s time for another nostalgic trip down Memory Lane. In this week’s Roundtable, we reminisce about the cartoon series that captured our imaginations when we were younger. Share your favorites with us, won’t you?

Mike Attebery

I’d be afraid to watch an episode now, since I can only imagine how poorly the show was written and animated, but boy did I ever I love ‘G.I. Joe‘ as a kid. The first thing I did in the summers was climb out of bed, run into the kitchen to grab a bowl of cereal, and plop down on the floor by 8 AM sharp in order to watch that day’s episodes. The rest of the day was usually spent playing with my G.I. Joe action figures.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

I don’t think any cartoon has defined my life the way ‘Masters of Universe‘ has. I religiously tuned in every afternoon, just about every square inch of my bedroom was blanketed in He-Man action figures and playsets, and my friends and I would have air-sword clashes as we pretended to be characters from the show. I have more childhood memories tied into that cartoon and action figure line than just about anything else. When I first got Internet access all the way back in 1995, ‘Masters of the Universe’ was predictably one of the very first things I searched for. There wasn’t much around in those dark days — no photographs, screencaps, video clips, episode guides, lists of figures, fan-art or anything else — but I collected what little I could find into the first full-featured He-Man site on the web. It gradually evolved into he-man.org. Although my involvement with the site is pretty minimal these days, the friendships I’ve made through it have been a huge part of my life for approaching twenty years now. I’m still geeky enough to have complete DVD sets and original cels framed on my wall, which I guess means that I continue to have the power.

Luke Hickman

Do you remember that ‘G.I. Joe’ knock-off called ‘M.A.S.K.‘ (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand)? I never got into ‘Joe’, but I was all about ‘M.A.S.K.’ The spelling change of the word “Command” to “Kommand” was intentional, so as to make the series’ name ‘M.A.S.K.’ and not ‘M.A.S.C.’, which would just be silly, wouldn’t it? The gimmick of the show was that each of the characters had a distinctive battle helmet with a sci-fi power (laser blasts, levitation, invisibility, etc.) and drove a vehicle that transformed into some other type of vehicle (car-to-jet, motorcycle-to-helicopter). The good guys in the M.A.S.K. agency were always foiling plots from their sinister arch-nemesis rivals, V.E.N.O.M. (Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem). Sure, ‘M.A.S.K.’ was nothing more than a rip-off of another popular series, but it was pure entertainment for my eight-year-old mind. That, and the action figures with their removable masks were pretty sweet.

Bryan Kluger

What’s not to like about ‘Darkwing Duck? His outfit was phenomenal. He always captured the bad guys, who were some of the most inventive villains on television. The theme song was incredible and laugh-out-loud funny. I wish some network would bring back ‘Darkwing Duck’. Until then, I’ll resort to watching my DVD copies.

Chris Boylan (Big Picture Big Sound)

I’d have to say that ‘Scooby Doo‘ was one of my all-time favorite cartoons growing up. I probably would have gotten more homework done if it weren’t for those meddling kids. It’s fun to see that the series still has relevance as my kids (ages 8 and almost 10) still love checking out the original episodes, newer episodes, and the more recent animated and live action movies in the franchise. I never understood why Freddie Prinze, Jr. was cast to play Fred in the live action flicks (blonde hair just isn’t his color), but kids tend to be less critical of such stuff.

Josh Zyber

In my younger days, I lived and breathed ‘G.I. Joe’ and ‘The Transformers’. Those shows were my religion. I watched them every day after school. With that said, I have some very vivid and very fond memories of some lesser-remembered series. Tops among those would be ‘The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers‘, a cornball amalgam of the sci-fi, Western, superhero, fairy tale, pirate, and sword & sorcery genres, among others. The heroes were a team of cowboys – complete with Stetson hats and robotic horses and laser pistols that looked like six-shooters – who cruised across the galaxy, taming the wild frontier and facing off against villains who typically looked like pink aardvarks, purple gargoyles, or (their main nemesis) an evil Disney queen. Each member of the team had a unique super power. One had a bionic arm, one was a shape-shifter, one was psychic, and one was… good with computers. Hey, it was the ’80s, when computer technology seemed more or less like magic to kids.

The series ran every weekday for one season, which comprised 65 episodes. Many years later, I caught up with some of the episodes on DVD. No surprise, they were goofy as hell, with a slow pace and low production values by today’s standards. Nevertheless, in my pre-adolescent fantasy life, I found the show’s characters and concepts so compelling that I actually dreamed about being part of its universe. The ability to reach a child’s subconscious that deeply is no small feat.

I’ll also toss out an honorable mention to ‘Bionic 6′, another very silly and short-lived show. This one was about a whole family endowed with ‘Six Million Dollar Man’-style cybernetic enhancements. I still have the entire line of action figures for this show in a box in my basement.

What were your favorite cartoon series when you were a kid?

47 comments

  1. JM

    It’s time for Animaniacs!

    And we’re zany to the max
    So just sit back and relax
    You’ll laugh ’til you collapse
    We’re Animaniacs!

    Come join the Warner Brothers
    And the Warner Sister, Dot
    Just for fun we run around the Warner movie lot.
    They lock us in the tower whenever we get caught
    But we break loose and then vamoose
    And now you know the plot!

    We’re Animaniacs!
    Dot is cute and Yakko yaks.
    Wakko packs away the snacks
    We pay tons of income tax.
    We’re Animaniacs!

    Meet Pinky and the Brain who want to rule the universe.
    Goodfeathers flock together; Slappy whacks ‘em with her purse.
    Buttons chases Mindy, while Rita sings a verse.
    The writers flipped; we have no script
    Why bother to rehearse?

    We’re Animaniacs!
    We have pay-or-play contracts.
    We’re zany to the max
    There’s baloney in our slacks.

    We’re Animanie,
    Totally insaney
    My PS4 just camey.

    Animaniacs!

  2. Bill

    Huckleberry Hound, Rocky & Bullwinkle and Roger Ramjet are the three that come mind the most quickly for me. All three had a kind of snarky humour that wasn’t seen again until The Simpsons came along. I’d also include any Bugs Bunny/Looney Tunes, The Flintstones, or Classic Popeyes.

  3. *He-Man or Masters of the Universe *Voltron
    Bravestarr C.O.P.S.
    The Real Ghostbusters Thundercats
    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Scooby Doo
    It’s so hard to pick a favorite as I watched them all religiously and collected the toys as well but I’d say Voltron has a very slight margin over the others. I can’t mention watching cartoons without talking about Looney Tunes, Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker, Droopy,The Pink Panther, Tom & Jerry and so many others.

  4. Pedram

    I really loved Transformers, He-Man and TMNT as a kid (I was in heaven watching the ninja turtles movie), but one series I was really into that doesn’t get enough attention is Thundercats. I still wear my Thundercats t-shirt once in a while.

    I tried watching it again a while ago and it was just too cheesy for me, with characters talking to themselves (“must…hold…on…”) or repeatedly stating the obvious, but the concept is still great. Never got into the reboot series but I hear it’s good so I might give it a shot sometime.

    I hope they can do it justice in a film someday, but given the current track record I’ll probably be disappointed.

  5. shawn

    How has nobody mentioned Adventure Time yet.

    I just recently started watching Batman Beyond and it’s amazing. It aired when I was a kid and I thought it was the dumbest show, watching it now I realize what bad taste I had when I was young.

  6. Scott

    Picking my favorite cartoon is REALLY hard when I actually try to think about it. Most of them have been un-watchable when I’ve tried to re-live them, but some hold up:

    Tintin was always great (for me)
    Aladdin somehow worked really well
    Samurai Jack might not fit, but good god is that an amazing show, to this day!
    Dragonball Z took over my life for a while
    Ninja Turtles was HUGE
    Rescue Rangers might have been the first REALLY important show I can remember
    Ducktales needs a mention

    AHHH!!! Memory lane has too many doors to knock on…I’m definitely forgetting some big ones.

  7. JD

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned of either Starblazers or Robotech. My friends and I looked forward to those two shows everyday after school more so than any of the other cartoons that aired at the time.

  8. Michael

    Johnny Quest. Best cartoon – monsters, cool gadgets, and Race Bannon! And 2nd to this cartoon was the Thunderbirds. Technically not a cartoon, but excellent sci-fi stories told with what appeared to my young eyes like super-cool toys.

  9. Elizabeth

    Representing the female gender, I feel like I should give a shout out to She-Ra, He-Man’s girl powered spinoff. That and Jem and the Holograms. And I actually did like both of those shows.

    But really, I have to confess my love for Transformers and G.I. Joe. I really wish I still had Megatron and all of his cool accessories. That’s a toy that can’t even be legally sold to kids anymore. I always wanted Shockwave but never got him. And I had (have actually) a ton of Joe figures, including the mail order Sergeant Slaughter, the Fridge and the cowl wearing version of Cobra Commander. And G.I. Joe was the first comic book I ever purchased after stumbling upon it on the comics rack at the grocery store.

    Honorable mentions to: Thundercats, Mask, Batman, Animaniacs, Looney Tunes, Scooby-Doo, Voltron (1 and 3, 2 never aired here), Robotech, Silverhawks and Inhumanoids.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      I had lots of Transformers toys, but I didn’t have the real Shockwave. Instead, I had a Chinese knockoff version that was basically the exact same toy except colored dark gray and (obviously) didn’t come with Decepticon stickers. These things were all over the place. I think I bought mine in a mall store.

  10. EM

    In the day I rotted my brain on more Saturday-morning cartoons than I care to admit, but the only one I keep returning to (unless one counts the Looney Tunes cartoons repackaged for TV) is Challenge of the Superfriends. I’m more of a Marvel guy, and this series sure was corny, yet somehow its low-rent take on the Justice League made and makes for compelling viewing. Heck, the episode “History of Doom” was my tender-age introduction to postapocalyptic fiction!

  11. hurin

    That would be Robotech.

    It was not until years later, I learned it was an Anime and not a cartoon, and that it was actually a hack job where three entirely different animes had been put together.

    Macross, Southern Cross and Genesis Climber Mospeada.

    • Chapz Kilud

      Didn’t realize someone already mentioned Robotech.

      But the most significant anime of all had to be Mazinger Z. My kids laugh how cheezy it looks now when enemy robots get eroded they simply erase the robot slowly. But this was in early 70′s and it still holds the record for having the highest rating of all anime in Japan. It paved the way for other “robot” anime.

  12. nagara

    G I Joe made me who I am today. The Joes, Voltron, Transformers, and Jem(it was always on right before G I Joe) were the ones I watched most as a kid.

    But my all time favorite has to be The Powerpuff Girls. Unlike some of the other toons i watched, this one still cracks me up and entertains me every time.

  13. August Lehe

    I miss the very first cartoon series with adult humor….(Prior to Rocky and Bullwinkle. that is)….Beany and Cecil The Seasick Sea Serpent and those wacky topical maps the captain featured on each mission. Crusader Rabbit came next but I found it rather dull. All together now…The Beany and Cecil SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. I’m a little younger than the 70′s kids. As such, I have never ever seen a single He-Man or G.I. Joe episode (although I (did) collect G.I. Joe back then and now, and have pre-ordered Castle Grayskull).
    My afterschool afternoons were filled with DuckTales (which holds up very well today), Thundercats, Turtles and Winnie The Pooh. Some Dutch/Belgian shows, too, which I won’t mention.

    And in the mid-90′s, we had something called “Disney Festival”, which aired two or three episodes of different shows in a row (“Goof Troop”, “Darkwing Duck” and a vintage Walt-episode from Pluto or Donald). I loved it all. You could call it our shot of Disney Channel in those days, for Disney Channel – as its own independent channel – wasn’t introduced in Belgium until 2009. Yes, that late.

  15. William Henley

    Wow, trying to figure out when to put a stop to the phrase “growing up” – do I stop at 5 years old, 10, 13, 18?

    Anyways, here are some shows I liked:

    Muppet Babies (I still love this show)
    Super Ted
    Fantastic Max
    Denver, The Last Dinosaur
    Captain Planet
    Tom & Jerry
    Garfield and Friends
    The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show
    This Is America, Charlie Brown
    The Charlie Brown Movies
    Duck Tails
    Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers
    Tail Spin
    Darkwing Duck
    Tiny Toons
    Animaniacs
    Get-a-long Gang
    Bearistine Bears
    Davy & Goliath
    Jot

  16. Boston007

    What everyone said and FORCE FIVE. These 5 shows, each airing on a different weekday, are what brought me into anime. Loved them, especially Grandizer, Goldrake in Europe. I think it was only shown in the Northeast in the 80s when I was growing up.

  17. Silverhawks
    He-Man
    G.I. Joe
    Jace and the Wheeled Warriors
    Turbo Teen
    Kid Video
    Transformers
    The Real Ghostbusters
    TMNT
    Duck Tales
    13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo
    Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends
    Hulk
    Mr T and Friends
    Dungeons & Dragons
    Muppet Babies…

    To many to list but they were all my favorites.

  18. Bryan

    Glad to see some love for M.A.S.K. That one was my second favorite show when growing up. But far and away, Transformers G1 was the show that I’d rush home from school to see. I had most of the toys (even the ones from season 3 when they went into the “future” of 2005). Still have most of them in storage somewhere, including the massive Fortress Maximus. (which to a 12-year old me was the coolest toy ever – practically 2 feet tall and transformed into a whole city!)