Best 80s Cartoons

He-Man or Adam from the popular 80s cartoon, Masters of the Universe, laughing against a sparkly rainbow background.

Image Credit: ParSujera on Deviant Art.

If you have been feeling nostalgic for the Saturday morning cartoons of the 80s, you’re probably not alone.

While the animation may seem outdated and some of the episodes corny, all those beloved shows revolved around the idea of discovering the superior power of friendship, no matter the odds.

These cartoons transcend time itself, and still give people of all ages—not just 80s kids—a warm feeling in their hearts.

Thundercats (1985-1990)

Characters from Thundercats, posed and ready to fight, on a rocky planet.
Image Credit: Fpeniche on Deviant Art.

Starring: Larry Kenney (Voice), Earle Hyman (Voice)
Seasons: 4
Episodes: 130
IMDB: 7.9/10
Where to Watch: Hulu, Apple TV, Vudu

After the destruction of their home planet, Thundara, a group of feline aliens comes to Earth seeking refuge.

However, it turns out they aren’t the only aliens who want to come to our solar system.

The group is constantly challenged by evildoers, looking to steal their mysterious cat powers.

 

DuckTales (1987-1990)

Huey, Dewey, and Louie from DuckTales, standing in their signature colors of red, blue, and green shirts.
Image Credit: Rainmaker113 on Deviant Art.

Starring: Alan Young (Voice), Russi Taylor (Voice)
Seasons: 4
Episodes: 100
IMDB: 8.1/10
Where to Watch: Disney+, Sling TV, Apple TV

When troublemakers Huey, Dewie, and Louie move in with their miserly Uncle Scrooge, it’s only natural that chaos ensues.

Along with beloved friends like Launchpad the pilot, the three ducklings manage to get into some hilarious shenanigans as they discover the power of friendship, love, and family.

 

Inspector Gadget (1983-1986)

Inspector Gadget from the popular 80s cartoon of the same name, posing against a red and yellow burst background.
Image Credit: Shayeragal on Deviant Art.

Starring: Don Adams (Voice), Frank Welker (Voice)
Seasons: 2
Episodes: 86
IMDB: 6.8/10
Where to Watch: Tubi, Sling TV, Amazon Prime, Vudu

Inspector Gadget tells the story of the titular detective as he tries to outwit master criminal Dr. Claw.

Gadget is so named because he is actually a cyborg, and possesses unique abilities to call upon for investigative purposes—ike a helicopter blade, which comes out of his hat and allows him to fly around the city.

Upon activation, he always calls his famous catchphrase: “Go go gadget!”

 

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983-1985)

Skeletor from 80s cartoon He-Man and Masters of the Universe, posing menacingly against a purple and gray background.
Image Credit: JoseRealArt on Deviant Art.

Starring: John Erwin (Voice), Alan Oppenheimer (Voice)
Seasons: 2
Episodes: 130
IMDB: 7.5/10
Where to Watch: Hulu, YouTube TV, Sling TV, Starz, Philo

While it was one of the first cartoons based on a line of toys rather than a story, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe definitely wouldn’t be the last show of the 80s to do so.

He-Man, known as Prince Adam, lives on Eternia, a magical planet. He wields a sword of unparalleled power.

When he must transform to protect the citizens against the evil Skeletor, the sword transforms Adam into He-Man.

 

Mysterious Cities of Gold (1982-1983)

Esteban from Mysterious Cities of Gold, looking down and smiling while running.
Image Credit: Aedua on Deviant Art.

Starring: Janice Chaikelson (Voice), Adrian Knight (Voice)
Seasons: 1
Episodes: 39
IMDB: 8.7/10
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime

Set in the early 16th century, this cartoon follows the Spanish orphan Esteban as he travels to the New World, hoping to succeed where his father could not: finding the cities of gold.

This unique French-Japanese fusion, in both its animation and storytelling, gives audiences an interesting look at South American archaeology, as well as ancient civilizations.

 

The Transformers (1984-1987)

Characters from Transformers assembled in an action pose.
Image Credit: ZeroMayhem on Deviant Art.

Starring: Frank Welker (Voice), Peter Cullen (Voice)
Seasons: 4
Episodes: 98
IMDB: 8/10
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime, Tubi

One of Marvel’s early success stories, Transformers follows the war between two races of robots: the Autobots and the Decepticons.

After landing on planet Earth, the noble Autobots take on the mission of protecting humankind from the evil Decepticons, who will stop at nothing to win the ancient war.

This franchise became so popular, numerous spin-offs and live action movies followed in the years to come.

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987-1996)

Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as they appeared in the original 80s version of their cartoons, smiling and posing with weapons.
Image Credit: AmbarBaez on Deviant Art.

Starring: Cam Clarke (Voice), Barry Gordon (Voice)
Seasons: 10
Episodes: 193
IMDB: 7.9/10
Where to Watch: Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime

Undoubtedly one of the most enduring cartoons of the 80s, TMNT has received countless makeovers and new angles—but, at its heart, it’s the same silly and adventurous show it was back then.

When Yoshi is expelled from his clan of ninjas in Japan and moves to New York City, he finds four turtles who were dropped into the sewers and adopts them.

The turtles managed to get into radioactive ooze, which gave them special powers—one of which was human speech. Yoshi, exposed to the same ooze, is transformed into a rat.

Despite these setbacks, Yoshi is determined to teach the turtles the way of the ninja, and to protect humans from evildoers.

 

Dragon Ball (1986-1989)

Goku fighting Jiren from Dragon Ball series of the 80s.
Image Credit: salvamakoto on Deviant Art.

Starring: Brice Armstrong (Voice), Stephanie Nadolny (Voice)
Seasons: 1
Episodes: 153
IMDB: 8.5/10
Where to Watch: Hulu, Funimation

Undoubtedly one of the primary anime franchises for decades, Dragon Ball follows the journey of Goku, a young child of alien descent.

He befriends a girl named Bulma. Together, they go on many adventures as Goku learns to use his Super Saiyan powers for good—while stopping demons and other evildoers from hurting innocent people.

 

Mobile Suit Gundam (1979-1980)

Characters from Mobile Suit Gundam, fighting in space.
Image Credit: GoddessMechanic on Deviant Art.

Starring: Brad Swaile (Voice), Richard Ian Cox (Voice)
Seasons: 1
Episodes: 43
IMDB: 8/10
Where to Watch: Funimation, Hulu

For people who love giant robots, Mobile Suit Gundam was a dream come true.

Unlike the Transformers, a group of sentient robots, the gundams needed human pilots to perform their enormous feats of strength.

Set far in the future, the lunar colony has declared war on Earth. Pilots must then gather their courage to go to war in space.

 

The Simpsons (1989-Present)

Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie from the SImpsons, gathered together and smiling.
Image Credit: TomekO on Deviant Art.

Starring: Dan Castellaneta (Voice), Nancy Cartwright (Voice)
Seasons: 32
Episodes: 702
Where to Watch: Fox Now, Disney+, YouTube TV, Sling TV, fuboTV

Only barely squeezing in at the end of the 1980s, The Simpson is arguably the most influential cartoon on television.

The opening theme song is universally known, as are the ever-changing chalkboard and couch gag sequences that precede every episode.

The main characters—Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie—routinely get into bizarre hijinks and strange situations around their unlocatable hometown: Springfield, USA.

Homer is ostensibly so unintelligent, it’s a miracle he’s survived this long—especially considering that he works in a nuclear power plant.

His long-suffering but kindhearted wife, Marge, is the voice of wisdom for both him and their three children. Bart is a hellraiser, Lisa is the classic middle child and know-it-all overachiever, and baby Maggie, who rarely speaks, is both an unconfirmed genius and attempted murderer.

Despite criticisms, The Simpsons has stood the test of time to air over 700 episodes, spawn a movie—with another reportedly in the works—and inspire an entire Springfield-themed area at Universal Studios.

 

via GIPHY

The 80s are known for quite a bit you might like to forget, from big hair to bigger political scandals, but the cartoons you know and loved as a kid are just as fun to lose yourself in now as they were back then.

For more recommendations, check out the best TV show theme songs, the greatest action flicks to come out of the 90s, or the coolest non-benders in the Avatar franchise.