Top 10 Best 80s Cartoons

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As I am a child from the 80s generation, I can fondly remember many of the animated shows (cartoons) listed below. Some I watched Saturday mornings and other I watched after getting home from school. A good dose of nostalgia and be found in these top ten 80’s cartoons so take a moment and watch a few fond memories. Please comment on your favorites. As always these top ten lists aren’t perfect but the criteria was based on longevity, cultural impact and “coolness”. Hopefully everyone will find a few cartoons they agree with.

10. Inspector Gadget

It’s a case of laughter in the first degree.

Inspector Gadget is a classic cartoon. Don Adams, of Get Smart fame, is the voice of the goodhearted but bumbling Inspector. He had it all, from rocket skates to that car with an easy chair in the back seat. This show would have been better if the entire series had more of a plot arc because then maybe every episode wouldn’t have been the same. Chief Quimby gives Gadget assignments but the real detectives are Penny, his niece, and Brain, his loyal dog. Penny and Brain always solve the case, tie up the criminals and save Gadget’s life time and time again. – DragonMasterHiro

9. Dungeon & Dragons

With Ralph Mouth from Happy Days doing a voice-over how could this cartoon not entertain?

I grew up watching this back in the 80’s and since I’ve been in college I’ve had the privilege of getting the series through a collector basis. This is arguably one of the greatest animated series of the 80’s, I refuse to call it a cartoon because it is so much more than that! It had great voice actors like Willie Aames(Charles In Charge) and Don Most(Happy Days) providing life to the characters. The theme of the series was that a group of young teenagers and little Bobby go on a rollercoaster ride called Dungeons & Dragons it transforms them to another land in a different time. They try to get home with the guiding wisdom of Dungeon Master(Sidney Miller) and fight off various antagonists along the way, mainly the evil Venger! – John Barnum

8. Battle of the Planets

Should have been called Battle of the Birdmen, but not as catchy, I guess.

Battle of the Planets surely is the best cartoon series ever made. With it’s hauntingly brilliant theme tune, terrific animation and superb story lines, this cartoon had it all. Originally taken from a 70’s Japanese cartoon called Gatchaman, Battle of the Planets ran for an incredible 85 episodes. Who remembers these immortal words “Battle of the Planets, G-Force, 5 incredible young people with superpowers. And watching over them from Center Neptune, 7-Zark-7. Watching, warning against surprise attacks by alien galaxies from beyond space. G-Force, fearless young orphans, protecting Earth’s entire galaxy, always by acting as one. Dedicated, inseparable, Invincible!” – rthornsby

7. He-man and the Masters of the Universe

Not the most creative name, but you get the point of the show…to sell toys!

A world filled with fantastical creatures, buff men in underwear, talking animals, and beautiful women. This cartoon stuck with me more than any other cartoon from my childhood. Each episode was original. They consistently created new stories, and each one had a good message at the end, telling kids things that will help them in life. It lasted two seasons. The artwork was fantastic, the animation even puts many cartoons of today to shame. Most cartoons from the early 80s, when I watch them today only seem repetitive and somewhat boring, leaving me wondering why I liked them so much. But He-Man was genius, and it is just as fresh today as it was back then. – morton grimp

6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Who knew reptiles fighting alongside a rat in the sewers would be kid-cartoon hit?

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series is one of My favorites of the 1980s animated programs. When it was on I watched it as much as I could! It has very good animation, cool characters, some humor, great music, and awesome action. The characters are really neat. All of the the Turtles are great, April is so good, Splinter is so spiritual, and Shredder is excellent. I loved how all of the characters have great personalities. In My opinion I don’t think there will be a cartoon like this again because it was one of a kind! If you like the Turtles movies but never saw the series and are able to watch it on television or buy it on tapes then do so because the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon is a classic! – Movie Nuttball

5. Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends

Classic Saturday morning cartoon, but using Iceman and Firestar seems like an odd choice.

I suppose most Spidey fans must despise this show because of it’s rather small connection to the comics, but the main reason I liked it was because Spidey got Iceman (Bobby Drake) and Firestar (Angelica Jones) from the X-Men on his side, Iceman was mostly a neglected character in the Marvel Universe although he was one of the original 5 X-Men. Firestar didn’t even exist until she was introduced into the show, but she later made her first comic appearance in Uncanny X-Men #193 . For the most part I watched the show because Iceman was my favorite superhero, Spider-Man still kicks ass though, Firestar was pretty cool..or should I say hot… I really enjoyed the show and you should check it out although by today’s standards, this show is considered 80’s trash to new fans, it is a guilty pleasure of mine and many other Spider-Man fans. – ICEMANMUTANTX

4. Thundercats

thundercats-80s-cartoon

Cats & mummies, at least there was an Egyptian theme of sorts.

When I was young, there were many television shows on air that I watched and enjoyed. They certainly don’t make them like they used to. But there was one show in particular that made me excited. One show that never failed to entertain me and keep me quiet for a while. Thundercats. Even the title sounds intriguing. Thundercats was an original, inventive, dynamic series that was just impossible to dislike. The adventures of these heroic creatures, who resembled something in between a human and a feline, were enjoyable and addictive, and, most of all, great fun. – Devyalento Latchford Deschanel

3. The Smurfs

It pains me to put them this high on the top 10 list, as I loathe them. I want to “smurf” them all.

Of all the kids shows I used to watch years ago, this was an all-time heavyweight of afternoon programming. Well fleshed out characters, interactions, conflict and social re-acquaintance. If I ever end up with kids of my own, this will be amongst the paraphernalia floating around the living-room.

One of my favorite factors today however, as I often sit drinking and observing is the underlying basis of it all, oblivious in childhood, and perhaps a nerve-racking experience for caffeine-addled parents of the Cold War. After all, The Smurfs DID co-exist in a quaint, idealistic Communist utopia of equality and collective value, complete with sharp historical figures and the giant, hideous, ever-present threat emanating just beyond the woods from Gargomel’s castle (capitalism). The knowledgeable theories are fast and thick. The evidence is bloody undeniable! – artrae-2

2. GI Joe

Thankfully this cartoon helped supply our armed forces and will for generations to come.

I don’t want to sound like a sadist or cheap thrill seeker, but one would think that a show depicting two large armed forces continuously battling over the globe would suffer casualties. Planes were constantly shot down, but no one ever died. Highly unrealistic, and with Robotech showing at the same time, GI Joe lost its edge. It may have been more popular than Robotech, but couldn’t maintain interest for very long. …and then there’s the episode where Cobra has a high-powered laser, and- no, doesn’t try to destroy Joe- attempts to carve the Cobra logo onto the face of the moon. What an effective use of technology and power! Graffiti! – Robert Morgan

1. Transformers

Not a surprise really, but robots that turn into cars and trucks seems a bit ridiculous.

Transformers (1984) is the greatest cartoon of all-time. No doubt about that. It is an A ++ in my book and #1. Besides of never getting tired of the toys, I never get tired of watching it on DVD. Other than excellent storylines, humor, and a good musical score, this cartoon had the best voice talent there is. For example, you had Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime, Ironhide), Frank Welker (Megatron, Soundwave), Casey Kasem (Bluestreak, Cliffjumper), Gregg Berger (Skyfire, Grimlock), Chris Latta (Starscream, Wheeljack), Don Messick (Gears, Ratchet), Scatman Crothers (Jazz), John Stephenson (Huffer, Thundercracker), and many more. The list goes on and on and etc.. Transformers G1 is an all-time classic done by Marvel and Sunbow. No other Transformer series, such as Armada and Robots In Disguise, will ever beat the original. – Rooblakas


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36 Comments

  1. Watching these videos makes me realize how commercialize most of the cartoons were. I mean, wow, were they trying to sell us some toys or what. Well, it certainly worked, had toys from half of these shows.

  2. The $20 Sommelier on

    I think I just spouted another grey hair. What about Voltron? While we can curse Voltron for giving us Power Rangers later in life, we all wanted our own lion to ride around in.

  3. Battle of the Planets should be #1, how could you have it so low? That was the best cartoon in the 80s hands down. Come on, G-Force, the Fiery Phoenix, the similarities to Star Wars, it was awesome!

    You mention Gatchaman is the original Japanese anime that BotP is based on, although many people consider them separate shows because BotP was very heavily edited from the original. Gatchaman was based on earth, has profanity, had death & graphic violence, and the main villain (Zoltar) was a hermaphrodite. It's not exactly what I'd call a kids cartoon. They did an incredible job of editing it to make Battle of the Planets!

    BotP Trivia: Did you know that Casey Kasem provided the voice for Mark?

  4. Matt Tracker on

    Thanks for making the list! Ha ha ha, well, kinda sad that M.A.S.K, Jaycee and the Wheeled Warriors, Bionic Six, Centurions, Silver Hawks didn't make it on the list. Anyway, those were the good old days!^_^

    • Yesssssssss! I loved the one orbot that would eat everything! The show came and went waaaay too soon. Great, fun show, i miss it

  5. All the cartoons listed were indeed great but I don't think you can limit it to just 10, I was amazed that Voltron did not make the list, another great addition would have been the Silver Hawks. I would have also included the centurions.

  6. How about Bravestarr? That show had a great world like Thundercats did. There was a type of adventure those old cartoons had that the new just don't compare.

  7. This is why David the Gnome should definitely be on this list, towards the top. It was a legit cartoon, with great action, great themes, and I don’t even remember their being toys… were their toy’s?I don’t remember. And one of the greatest theme songs of all time.

  8. What? No Ducktales? The adventures of Scrooge and his nephews was the cornerstone of the Disney Afternoon, and the show has held up better than any of its contemporaries.

  9. Please. Where’s Ralph Bakshi’s inimatable “New Adventures of Mighty Mouse”? This was a true classic that was more than a vehicle for toy sales.

  10. What about john Blackstar? The man used a magical sword to save 2000 dwarves that lived in a magical tree? They may not be bad-ass but what about carebears and Starbrite? Shirt-Tales – bunch of animals with shirts that would change words? The Littles – bunch mouse-people that lived inside the walls of a mouse and did things for the human kid, while trying to not get eatin by the cat?

  11. Yeah, Voltron needs to be high on my list. I’d personally take off Battle of the Planets, Smurfs and move TMNT down some (or off completely if Fraggle Rock counts). My Top 10 would have

    -Muppet Babies top 5
    -Heathcliff should be on there somewhere, IMO (best intro song ever, re-live it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxI5fSp1cco )

    Honorable mentions for MASK, Dennis the Menace, Gummi Bears, Snorks, The Munchichis, The Littles

    Honrable foreign mentions for Danger Mouse and Bananaman.

  12. I agree with Stephen’s response. The Tom and Jerry Show from 1975 should be in the Top 10 range. I really like cartoons that has a game of Cat and Mouse.

  13. The comments have covered the most glaring omissions like Robotech, Voltron, Muppet Babies, and Ducktales – and Spidey wouldnt have cracked my top ten – but someone should mention Talespin… wait it’s from 90…

    Ok I counter with Shirt Tales – from 82! It had Bogey the Orangutan and Nancy Cartwright did a voice.

    Good jorb anyhow peoples. Vintage memories – now I watch these shows w my kids – circle of life, innit?

  14. How is The Real Ghostbusters not on this list? Top 4 should consist of TMNT, Ghostbusters, He-Man and Transformers.

  15. Nathan Fleischman on

    Battle of the Planets is bogus. It is not faithful to its anime source material which inspired the Power Rangers series in the 1990s.

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