Cartoons have always been popular with kids all around the world and are still popular amongst some adults too. There is quite the variety of make believe characters on the box that keep people tuning in weekly.
As a child born in the 80s, I was nurtured on cartoons in the 90s with characters including talking babies, a crime fighting dog, superheroes, and little blue men (and one woman) just to name a few.
It always makes for an interesting talking point with friends to take a nostalgic trip and recount those cartoons that made your childhood. I take a look at some of my favourite cartoons:
The Smurfs (1981-1990)
Based on a Belgian comic strip, the tiny blue-skinned Smurfs became massively popular in the 1980s serving up 256 episodes. The peaceful Smurfs who lived in mushroom shaped houses in the forest are led by Papa Smurf and are named after the characteristics they inhabit.
There is ‘Jokey Smurf’ who likes to play practical jokes on his fellow Smurfs, ‘Clumsy Smurf’ who has a habit of creating havoc unintentionally, and ‘Smurfette’, the only female Smurf.
Most episodes centred on the Smurfs outwitting the evil wizard Gargamel and his cat Azrael who wanted to capture the little blue men to use their magic for his own dastardly ends.
Created by Jim Jinkins, Doug is a coming-of-age animated show which tells the story of Doug Funnie, an eleven year old kid with a big imagination, who with his clever dog Porkchop and best friend Skeeter manoeuvres around reality to get to the world of his day dreams. The cartoon also taught valid life lessons as it handled pre-adolescent unconsummated relationships and bullying.
The school bully, Roger Klotz, lives in a trailer park with his single mother and the show frequently gave evidence suggesting that he bullies people to make up for his troubled upbringing.
Kids’ shows rarely feature multiple dimensions to the bad guy, and it is this that makes Doug stand out. It doesn’t look down on its audience and shows them how to overcome real problems.
Superhero animated series usually just translate comic books to the screen, however X-Men created overarching and engaging storylines from some of the most iconic and popular comic stories.
The animated series touched upon some of the most beloved plots, from the Dark Phoenix Saga to Day of Future Past (which has recently adapted into a live action film), to create a show that used long term serialisation typically avoided by cartoons.
The animated series also played into the hands of Marvel comic book fans as it featured appearances from many of the adored characters from the X-Men universe. It allowed for long-time fans to rejoice as they saw their favourite stories played out on television, whilst introducing others to the fascinating world of mutants.
Wacky Races (1968-1970)
The series was inspired by the 1965 slapstick comedy film The Great Race and featured 23 people and animals in 11 race cars competing to win the title of the “World’s Wackiest Racer”. Racers included Penelope Pitstop in the Compact Pussycat, The Ant Hill Mob in the Bulletproof Bomb, The Slag Brothers in the Boulder mobile, and Peter Perfect in the Turbo Terrific.
The villains of the series were moustache-twirling Dick Dastardly and his wheezily snickering dog henchman, Muttley.
The dastardly duo raced in the Mean Machine, a purple, rocket-powered car with an abundance of concealed weapons and the ability to fly. Their strategy was to speed in front of the other races and set a trap to stop them. Their plans always backfired, causing them to fall back into last place and never got old as the creators found new and entertaining ways to thwart the terrible twosome.
Rugrats (1991-1994 and 1996-2004)
It may have transformed a bunch of toddlers into grotesque, large headed monstrosities, but it sure was popular. The focus of the cartoon was to show the world through the eyes of a child. The youngsters, who hadn’t come to understand the world around them, would see monsters and magic in everyday occurrences and create adventures for themselves using their imagination.
The babies included hero of the group, Tommy, his best friend, Chuckie who worried about everything, and twins Phil and Lil, who were the rascals of the group. Susie was an older positive influence on the babies, who could talk to both adults and babies, whilst Angelica was the spoiled bully, picking on the babies to make herself feel better.
Of course, there was the grown-ups too who were there to let audiences know exactly what was going on.
Rugrats ran for almost 14 years, spawned two films and a series featuring the babies as teenagers called All Grown Up.
Who would have thought an animated show about a crew of paranormal investigators would still be pulling in viewers almost 50 years later! Starting with the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! adventures and morphing into multiple series and movies (including two live action films), the Scooby gang has solved the mystery of longevity.
The gang made up by a bunch of eclectic characters includes self-certified leader Fred, enthusiastic damsel in distress Daphne, the highly intelligent Velma and cowardly slackers Shaggy and Scooby-Doo, who like nothing more than eating. Together they tackle the tough cases no one else can crack, chasing ghosts and revealing them to be men and women in disguise who would have gotten away it if hadn’t been for them pesky kids.
1. Looney Tunes (1960-Present)
Starting out in the 1930s as shorts for movie theatres, the enduring appeal of Bugs Bunny and Co. have and still remain popular on television. Through many incarnations, the animated antics of beloved characters – such as Tweety Pie and Sylvester, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, and Yosemite Sam, among many others – have been entertaining children and adults alike for over five decades.
The characters, created by the talented Friz Freleng and Chuck Jones, have created many memorable moments through their hysterical and highly imaginative adventures. From Elmer Fudd declaring “Kill the wabbit!”, Tweety Pie swearing he’d seen a “puddy tat”, and Bugs’ “What’s up, doc?”, we all have our favourites.
Looney Tunes has truly stood the test of time and continue to entertain decades after they were first created. It’s safe to say it’ll be a long time before we will be saying “Th-th-th-th-That’s all, folks!”.
Let us know what your favourite cartoons and characters are by leaving a comment below.