60 Retro ‘80s Cartoons Both Gen X & Millennials Absolutely Love(d)
Want to reminisce? Share your favorite ‘80s cartoons with your kiddos.
Need a blast from the past? Look no further, friend — '80s cartoons can take you right back to your childhood. Whether you were a Saturday-mornings-only kind of cartoon watcher or a kid who survived on all things animated, you no doubt had a few favorite cartoons from this decade. It was practically the golden era of animated television shows! If you loved Muppet Babies, you probably had the accompanying books and eventually graduated to The Muppet Show. If you were a diva or rock star in the making, you lived for Jem. (And likely felt pretty disappointed in the semi-recent live-action movie remake.) Did you ever have Smurfs cereal or sleep with a Bumblelion from The Wuzzles? There were just so many '80s cartoons, and they were all so good.
Further proof this decade's cartoons reign supreme? Look how well some have stood the test of time. The Simpsons debuted in 1989 and is still on today, with no signs of ending soon. Meanwhile, there have been multiple reboots of shows like Care Bears and My Little Pony. They even brought back The Muppet Babies recently. And, of course, you know you still sing your favorite Christmas song by Alvin and the Chipmunks. (We won't talk about the creepy "live-action" versions of that famous rodent family.)
Blame it on nostalgia or just chock it up to some really, really good ideas in the '80s. But these days, it's easier than ever to find both the new and old versions of your favorite childhood cartoons. Isn't it time to introduce the kids to Inspector Gadget? And once they finally understand why you're always saying, "Go, go, gadget arms," keep the cinematic education going with the rest of the best '80s cartoons. In fact, they might be some of the best cartoons ever. Period.
Ease Your Kids Into the ‘80s With These Iconic Cartoons
1. Muppet Babies (1984-1991)
Have we said Muppet Babies enough? It’s truly impossible. The theme song was so catchy that it’s probably stuck in your head right now, and the series itself was super sweet. The whole gimmick of never seeing more than Nanny’s legs and feet was brilliant. And every single one of the characters had such strong, relatable personalities — even for little kids.
2. DuckTales (1987-1990)
Were Huey, Dewey, and Louie the world’s best nephews? No. But Uncle Scrooge was hardly the world’s best uncle, either. This was a family that, for all its malfunctions, always tried to do right by each other and the world around them. And you know you can still do a solid Scrooge McDuck impersonation. (Or, er, im-duck-ation?)
3. Inspector Gadget (1983-1986)
Do dodo dodo do doo doo doo doo. Do dodo dodo do dooooooo! What else needs to be said?
4. Chip’n Dale: Rescue Rangers (1988-1990)
Here's why this show is so iconic: Gadget Hackwrench. Seriously. While most '80s cartoons had bright, colorful, girly-girl characters, Chip'n Dale gave us Gadget. She fixed things and knew what to do. She was a rescuer, not someone who needed rescuing. The girl could hang.
5. Alvin and the Chipmunks (1983-1990)
Alvin and the Chipmunks were around long before the '80s, sure. But, the '80s cartoon was a bonafide bop. (Can cartoons be "bops"? Why not!) Alvin, Simon, and Theodore were the original Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda. We all wanted to be an Alvin — even though most of us were Simons or Theodores.
6. Jem (1985-1988)
Was anyone in the universe as cool as Jem and the Holograms? They were the rock stars every '80s kid longed to be. They inspired funky outfits, wild hair, and more than a few requests for Santa to bring an electric guitar.
7. Snorks (1984-1988)
The Smurfs got all the fanfare, but the Snorks were really where it was at. These happy little anthropomorphic sea creatures had ‘80s kids everywhere diving to the bottom of every single body of water in sight in search of Snorkland.
8. Rainbow Brite (1984-1986)
A young girl named Wisp, a sprite named Twink, and a talking rainbow-maned horse named Starlite?! Oh, if this wasn’t the series that launched a thousand homemade Halloween costumes — and a general obsession with anthropomorphic equines.
9. ThunderCats (1985-1989)
The planet Thundera is dying, so the group of cat-like humanoid aliens inhabiting it must flee their homeworld. And that’s just the tip of the trippy iceberg when it comes to this badass cartoon. Cheetara still gives off Big Cat Alien Energy.
10. The Wuzzles (1985)
Much like the Snorks get snubbed for the Smurfs, the Wuzzles get overlooked for the Popples. But, make no mistake, these colorful hybrid characters (“living’ with a split personality”) were quite possibly the cutest fictional ‘80s creatures. Just be fully prepared when you watch with your kid for them to ask for a Butterbear in real life... just like you did.
11. Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo (1979-1983)
Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo was the uncle/nephew spin-off the world didn't know it needed. This show has a similar premise to the animated mystery-solving series, but in this series, it’s just Scooby and Scrappy on wild and spooky adventures. So if you love Scooby-Doo, Scrappy-Doo will steal your heart. He's much braver than his uncle and absolutely adorable.
12. The Simpsons (1989- )
The Simpsons is one of the longest-running animated comedies. This adult cartoon takes place in a town called Springfield in an unknown U.S. state. The show centers on a hilarious family and the equally funny community that surrounds them. In each episode, characters get wrapped up in comedic adventures that evoke emotions ranging from heartfelt happiness to uncontrollable laughter.
13. The Flintstone Kids (1986-1990)
The Flintstone gang is so much fun, but have you ever wondered what they were like as babies? Well, The Flintstone Kids features all your favorite cavemen pals like Fred, Wilma, Barney, and Betty. And things are pretty much the same in terms of the shenanigans and fun, but on a kiddie level that’s super cute.
14. The World of Strawberry Shortcake (1980-1985)
The World of Strawberry Shortcake series wasn't a consistent series but a bunch of TV specials that aired for five years. It follows a super sweet little girl named Strawberry Shortcake who lives in a world crafted from desert-themed whimsy. In the show, she goes on cute and fun adventures with her pals in a magical world filled with lessons that are rated G for everyone.
Even More Rad ‘80s Cartoons
- He-Man and The Masters of the Universe (1983-1985)
- Garfield and Friends (1988-1995)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987-1996)
- G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (1983)
- Adventures of the Gummi Bears (1985-1991)
- Dinosaucers (1987)
- Voltron: Defender of the Universe (1984-1985)
- Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (1981-1986)
- Super Friends (1973-1985)
- The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1988-1991)
- Dungeons & Dragons (1983-1985)
- The Care Bears (1985-1988)
- Mister T (1983-1985)
- The Transformers (1984-1987)
- MASK (1985-1986)
- The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin (1987-1988)
- Popples (1986-1988)
- Heathcliff (1980-1984)
- Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats (1984-1987)
- David the Gnome (1985-1987)
- The Legend of Zelda (1989)
- Danger Mouse (1981-1992)
- Pound Puppies (1985-1988)
- The Real Ghostbusters (1986-1991)
- She-Ra: Princess of Power (1985-1987)
- The Incredible Hulk (1982-1983)
- Babar (1989-2002)
- The Super Mario Brothers Super Show! (1989)
- My Little Pony ‘n Friends (1986-1987)
- The Littles (983-1985)
- ALF: The Animated Series (1987-1989)
- Beetlejuice (1989-1991)
- Pac-Man (1982-1984)
- SilverHawks (1986- )
- Denver, The Last Dinosaur (1988-1990)
- Thundarr the Barbarian (1980-1981)
- BraveStarr (1987-1989)
- The New Adventures of Johnny Quest (1986-1987)
- Count Duckula (1988-1993)
- Robotech (1985)
- The Raccoons (1985-1992)
- Centurions (1986)
- Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling (1985-1986)
- Ewoks (1985-1987)
- Dennis the Menace (1959-1963)
- Challenge of the GoBots (1984-1985)
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