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The 10 Best 80s Cartoons Ever Made

The 80s had some of the best-animated shows. They were the reason we all rushed home from school, what we got up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning for all because these shows were just frickin’ awesome.

They all had toy line tie-ins and were practically one big product placement, but we were kids so we didn’t care back then!

Let’s have a look at 10 of the best-animated tv series from that great decade.

Update: All the video episodes of these shows that were originally included in this post have now been removed.


  • Years: 1985 – 1991
  • Episodes: 60 + 4 Specials

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The Raccoons was a Canadian animated series which revolved around Bert Raccoon (wow, that’s an imaginative surname!) and married couple Ralph and Melissa Raccoon who he lived with.

The show was mostly about the raccoons efforts against the evil aardvark tycoon and industrialist Cyril Sneer (toting a cigar and gold tooth, which is usually a sign of pure evil) who was always finding new ways to destroy the raccoons beloved forest.

The Raccoons were aided in the campaign by a Sheepdog named Schaeffer and his son, Cedric (a kid you knew was smart because he wore glasses!) and his college sweetheart Sophia Tutu. Unfortunately for Cedric he just happened to be Cyril’s son too.

The message in the show was really all about friendship, teamwork and environmentalism. The best thing about the whole cartoon is the end credits score which compared with today’s kids show still blows them away. Watch and learn Cartoon Network.


The show finished in 1991 and sadly there is no sign of the show being remade or rebooted. Shame!


  • Years: 1983 – 1985
  • Episodes: 27 + 1 unproduced

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This is a cartoon they should bring back for sure. The opening credits served as an introduction to the series, which focuses on a group of friends between the ages of 8-15, who after riding a ‘magical’ rollercoaster at an amusement park are sucked into another world. Rather than ending up in a shit nerdy club, where bearded guys are playing role-playing games, they actually end up in the ‘Realm of Dungeons & Dragons. Here they meet Dungeon Master (named after the referee in the role-playing game and absolutely nothing at all like Yoda!).

The children’s main goal is to find a way home, but there are many obstacles in the way like bad guys, people to help, riddles to solve and Bobby pissing everybody off by saying he can’t leave Uni behind again and again.

Dungeon Master gives each character a weapon to defend themselves, bearing in mind these are kids aged between 8-15. He also talks in riddles and likes to fuck with the kid’s minds (maybe?) rather than just telling them how and where to go to get home.

The main characters included Hank the Ranger, Eric the Cavalier (that annoying comic relief character), Diana the Acrobat, Presto the ‘shittest magician in the world’, Sheila the Thief, Bobby the Barbarian, Uni the Unicorn and of course Dungeon Master. Bad guys of the realm include Venger (voiced by Optimus Prime’s Peter Cullen) and his accomplice Shadow Demon and Tiamat a five-headed dragon (voiced by Megatron’s Frank Welker).


A toy range was produced, but strangely none of the main characters were ever produced. Disappointingly, there is no conclusion to the series, as they decided to not produce the final episode, which would have wrapped things up. It would have also given away that Venger is in fact Dungeon Master’s evil son. “But, hey, who gives a crap about what kids think?” Said the evil TV network.


  • Years: 1985
  • Episodes: 65

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I can’t believe there were so many episodes of this show. This is probably the most forgotten about 80’s animated gem there is. I’m not sure why the merchandise for this franchise didn’t sell very well but that’s probably why the plug was pulled. Jayce and Wheeled Warriors is a French/American made and Japanese animated series that first aired in 1985.

The show was about two forces (usually the way) – good versus evil. The good was (obviously) humans called the Lightning League who drove weaponised vehicles and were led by Jayce. The bad guys were organic plant creatures called the Monster Minds who could transform into vehicles and were led by the evil Saw Boss who looked like he had some serious water on the brain. The plot concerns Jayce, Flora, Herc (Han Solo rip-off), Stormsailor (that annoying comic relief character), Oon and Gillian, who were on an intergalactic quest to find Jayce’s father Audric, and save the universe from the wrath of Saw Boss and The Monster Minds.


The series unfortunately like Dungeons and Dragons does not have a final episode, even at 65 episodes, so the whole plot was left unresolved.


  • Years: 1983 – 1985
  • Episodes: 130

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Based around the adventures of Prince Adam of Eternia, who was the son of King Randor and Queen Marlena (an earthling), who ruled the Kingdom of Eternia on the planet of the same name. The Sorceress of Castle Grayskull endowed Prince Adam with the power to transform into He-Man, which Adam did by raising his Power Sword and proclaiming, “By the power of Grayskull…” Once the transformation was complete, he continued “…I have the power!” in a cool echoey voice.

Adam was accompanied by his cowardly green pet tiger called Cringer who transformed into Battle Cat when He-man pointed his sword at him. He was also joined by Man-at-Arms (Captain of the Guard, a genius with inventions and weaponry, real name Duncan!) the beautiful Teela (the adopted daughter of Man-at-Arms and secret daughter of the Sorceress), Orko (that annoying comic relief character) who all knew about Adams secret identity except Teela, who thought Adam was a lazy, cowardy work-shy douche bag.

Adam also had the worst disguise since Clarke Kent. Teela never suspected a thing and was always amazed at how Adam was never present when trouble was happening. Not to mention, the fact that he looked exactly like He-Man with clothes on. Apparently, He-Man can return to the form of Adam by saying “Let the power return”.

He-Man’s main enemy was Skeletor who was a blue-skinned sorcerer with a skull head and evil laugh. He was accompanied by Evil-Lyn (with a name like that there is only one career path), Beast Man and an army of cronies, but never more than 3 were present at a time. A later produced tie-in comic implied that Skeletor’s true identity was Prince Keldor (older brother of King Randor), thus making him He-Man’s uncle.

There was a spin-off cartoon series – She-Ra: Princess of Power that later revealed that Adam had a twin sister: Princess Adora, a leader in the Great Rebellion against Hordak on the planet Etheria. Hordak had kidnapped She-Ra at birth. Adora, like Adam, was given the gift of the power of Grayskull and had her own sword which she used to transform into She-Ra, Princess of Power. He-Man made a number of appearances in the She-Ra: Princess of Power television series.


In 1987 came the ‘awful, just awful’ live-action movie ‘Masters of the Universe’ starring Dolph “Ivan Drago” Lundgren and Courtney Cox, which literally pissed on the franchise and was a commercial failure.

The cartoon series was re-imagined in 1990 in The New Adventures of He-Man. This time Adam had a new look and had left Eternia and was pursuing Skeletor throughout space. The series was relocated to the Planet Primus, where he led the Galactic Guardians. The series was then re-booted in 2002.

This cartoon series doesn’t know whether it’s coming or going!


  • Years: 1985 – 1988
  • Episodes: 65

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This animated series revolves around Jem a mysterious lead singer of a rock group called The Holograms. Her real name is Jerrica Benton, and under this name, she is the owner and manager of Starlight Music. Jerrica adopts this persona with the help of a holographic computer, known as Synergy, which was built by Jerrica’s father to be “the ultimate audio-visual entertainment synthesizer” and is bequeathed to her after his death. Jerrica is able to command Synergy to project “the Jem hologram” over herself by means of the remote micro-projectors in her earrings, thus disguising her features and clothing enabling her to assume the Jem persona. Google and Apple could only dream of this technology!

Jem’s group, “the Holograms”, consists of Kimber Benton, Jerrica’s younger sister, keyboardist, and main songwriter for the band; Aja Leith, guitarist; and Shana Elmsford, who plays the synth drums.

The Holograms have two rival bands: The Misfits and The Stingers. The Misfits are composed of petulant rich girl Pizzazz (real name Phyllis Gabor) and her cohorts: no-nonsense guitarist Roxy (Roxanne Pelligrini) and kind-hearted, sensitive keytar player Stormer (Mary Phillips). They are joined later by the manipulative British saxophonist Jetta (Sheila Burns).

The inclusion of music videos in Jem was a result of the success and popularity of MTV at the time which began airing four years prior. The placement of the songs throughout each episode was done to complement the story and the use of music videos in the show was considered “radical” for the time. The show contains a total of 187 music videos with 151 unique songs.


The creator Christy Marx wanted to remake the series in the 00’s but there was too much complications regarding the rights to Jem properties, but a live-action movie has been signed by Hasbro and Universal Studios and should be out sometime in 2015.


  • Years: 1985 – 1989
  • Episodes: 130

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The original ThunderCats show like Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors was animated in Japan while being produced, written and voice-acted in the US. Interestingly many of the animators from this show went on to work for Studio Ghibli. The story follows a group of half-cat half-human beings from the planet Thundera.

The series starts off with the Thundercats fleeing their dying planet Thundera, which is being attacked by the Mutants of Plun-Daa for the Mystic Sword of Omens. The sword has the Eye of Thundera embedded into it which holds the source of the Thundercats power. Though the Mutants attack and damage the flagship, the power of the Eye drives them back. The damage to the ship means the journey to the last remaining Thundercats original destination is not possible, instead having to journey to Third Earth; which will take much longer than they had anticipated. The eldest of the ThunderCats, Jaga, volunteers to pilot the ship while the others sleep in capsules; however, he dies of old age in the process, but not before ensuring they will reach their destination safely. The flagship contains the young Lord of the ThunderCats, Lion-O, as well as the ThunderCats Cheetara, Panthro (the gadget guy), Tygra, WilyKit and WilyKat, and Snarf (that annoying comic relief character “snarf, snarf”).

When the ThunderCats awake from their suspended animation on Third Earth, Lion-O discovers that his suspension capsule has slowed, rather than stopped, his ageing, and he is now a child in the (totally toned and ripped) body of an adult.

Together, the ThunderCats and the friendly natives of Third Earth construct the Cat’s Lair, their new home and headquarters, Panthro constructs the mutha’ of all vehicles – the Thundertank from the remains of the ship, but before long, the Mutants have tracked them down to Third Earth.

The intrusion of these two alien races upon the world does not go unnoticed, however – a demonic, mummified sorcerer by the name Mumm-Ra (the ever-living) recruits the Mutants led by Sly the lizard humanoid, Jackelman, a jackal humanoid and Monkian, a monkey humanoid (how do they come up with those names!?) to aid him in his campaign to acquire the Eye of Thundera and destroy the ThunderCats so that his evil may continue to hold sway over Third Earth.

Apparently, the Third Earth is actually our Earth in the future. Mumm-Ra originates from ancient Egypt, where he first enslaved himself to the Ancient Spirits of Evil in exchange for his tremendous powers and knowledge of the Universe. He is – seemingly – the one responsible for destroying the human race after he broke free from the onyx pyramid’s burial chamber, inside which a Pharaoh’s son had imprisoned him.


In 2008-2009, Warner Bros was in the process of creating a CGI animated film based on ThunderCats. It was rumoured to be an original story expanding on the events of the first episode and the film’s concept artwork (released in July 2009) contained the main character Lion-O and three locations. A two-minute test scene was filmed and presented to Warner Brothers, however, the movie has been put on indefinite hold.

A new ThunderCats animated series produced by Warner Bros. Animation began airing on Cartoon Network from July 2011.

…. and on we go


  • Years: 1984 – 1987
  • Episodes: 98 (original) + movie

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I’d say this is the most remembered 80s cartoon series and the biggest and best toy franchise since Star Wars. The series depicts a war among giant robots that can transform into vehicles and other objects.

It was written and recorded in America, but like most classic 80s cartoons the series was animated in Japan and South Korea. In Japan, the series was called Fight! Super Robot Life-Form Transformers.

Well, for some of us Michael Bay has ruined our childhood memories of this beloved show forever with his 4 (yes, count them and still going) live-action films. Films that were made by a guy who had obviously never watched an episode of this great animated series in his life, and then decided he knew better than us all and made loads of changes, but anyway, this is the classic Generation One (G1) series right here.

The pilot episode introduced Optimus Prime‘s Autobots (Brawn, Bluestreak, Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Gears, Hound, Huffer, Ironhide, Jazz, Mirage, Prowl, Ratchet, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Trailbreaker, Wheeljack, Windcharger, and Hauler and Megatron‘s Decepticons (Starscream, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Reflector, Soundwave and his cassette spies (Laserbeak, Ravage and Rumble) and Shockwave (who stayed behind to guard Cybertron under Megatron’s orders and also sounded a lot like Dillinger from Tron)), transplanting them from their metallic homeworld of Cybertron to present-day Earth, where they warred for the resources that would take them back home.

Then came the first series which introduced the Decepticon Space Bridge, and featured the several new characters that would be available in the toy line the following year—the pointless Dinobots (leader Grimlock, Slag (oh dear) and Sludge, and later Swoop and Snarl), Jetfire (known as Skyfire on the series), a Decepticon cassette named Frenzy, the Insecticons (leader Shrapnel, Bombshell and Kickback) and the Constructicons (leader Scrapper, Long Haul, Mixmaster, Bonecrusher, Scavenger and Hook), and their combined form, Devastator.

I could never understand the concept of the Dinobots. The whole point was to be a ‘Robot in Disguise’, but a Mecha T-Rex is not exactly going to be inconspicuous!

The Autobots were helped by what seems to be the only humans on the planet, Spike and Sparkplug Witwicky and later seasons are joined by Chip Chase, Carley and Daniel.


Transformers had three more series and a movie, which killed off many of the main cast including Optimus Prime under ‘Generation 1’ (G1) and there have been many series after them such as Armada, Cybertron and Prime and 4 x live-action movies, and a 5th and 6th already in planning.


  • Years: 1983 – 1986
  • Episodes: 86

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Like Transformers and Dungeons & Dragons, if you can just wipe your memory clean of any bullshit live-action movie versions you may have seen of Gadget then we can begin. While you’re doing that also wipe any memories of the awful 90s Gadget Boy too.

It seems funny to think this, but Inspector Gadget was actually a cyborg policeman, but unlike Robocop, he is equipped with an endless amount of concealed gadgets, which Gadget can summon at will by saying “Go Go Gadget” followed by the gadgets name. Gadget is aided in his missions by his Niece Penny and her dog named Brains. Although Gadget is equipped with what he needs, he is clearly incompetent and clumsy to the point I have to question, how does he get by on a day-to-day basis? I’m sure that if it wasn’t for sheer luck, the aid of Penny and Brains, Gadget would be dead in a ditch by now!

Almost every episode of the first season follows a detailed and set formula, with little variation. The formula is as follows.

  • Gadget, Penny, and Brain will be doing something together.
  • A phone rings, which Gadget identifies as the Top Secret Gadgetphone.
  • Gadget answers the call with his hand, which the Gadgetphone is built into. The calls consist mostly of the following conversation: “Is that you, Chief? You’re where? Right away, Chief.”
  • Gadget has a rendezvous with Chief Quimby, who is usually hiding or in disguise. He receives a brief containing his assignment, which ends with “this message will self-destruct”.
  • Gadget accepts the mission, usually with the exclamation “You can count on me/Don’t worry, Chief, I’m always on duty!” He then crumples the message up and tosses it back toward Quimby, apparently forgetting the self-destruct warning. The message blows up in Quimby’s face, after which he usually asks himself, “why do I put up with him?”

The episode then usually takes Gadget to some exotic locale and somehow Penny and Brain find a way to accompany him. Brain keeps Gadget out of trouble from M.A.D. agents (who Gadget usually mistakes for friendly locals; ironically, Gadget often mistakes the disguised Brain for a M.A.D agent), probably shouting “Wowsers!” at some point and leaving Penny to solve the case…. and then repeat!

Gadgets arch-nemesis is Dr Claw (voiced by Megatron’s Frank Welker) which we never see in full-body, but just his arms and gauntleted hands are visible. He is also accompanied by his fat cat M.A.D Cat, kind of like Blofeld out of 007. At the end of each episode, he will fly off or dive off in his M.A.D Mobile which is like a jet cum submarine and can be heard shouting his catchphrase “I’ll get you next time, Gadget! Next Time!”

Unfortunately, there is no back story as to why Gadget is how he is. Like He-Man, each Inspector Gadget episode ended with a public information message to kids usually about something that happened in the episode, because kids need telling.


The series spun off into the awful Gadget Boy in the 90s and 2 x really dreadful live-action movies. A new CGI-animated Inspector Gadget TV series in the making with the return as Brains as Gadget’s Police Dog, Penny as Gadget’s new partner, Dr. Claw and his nephew and evil sidekick Talon.


  • Years: 1985 – 1986
  • Episodes: 75

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M.A.S.K which stood for ….. Mobile Armoured Strike Command, who was a special task force led by Matt Trakker with their transforming vehicles and defending us from the evil Miles Mayhem. Mayhem had his own force named V.E.N.O.M which stood for Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem. I would love to see them pitch that name to the bank if they went for a business loan.

It is never made clear what sort of criminal organization V.E.N.O.M. is, exactly. They were not the typical world-conquering villains and their schemes mostly revolved around profiting from illegal activities and doing mercenary services.


Sadly, M.A.S.K, like Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors series seems to have been forgotten about. It is a shame because M.A.S.K had one of the best toy merchandise lines ever, and for once they weren’t produced by Hasbro. I’m sure a reboot or movie could be possible, because, who the hell doesn’t love supercars that can turn into jets and trucks that turn into tanks?


  • Years: 1986 – 1991
  • Episodes: 147

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The Real Ghostbusters is an American animated television series that spun off from the Ghostbusters movie franchise. I’m not sure what made the animated Ghostbusters more ‘real’ than the live-action versions, but the “real” was added due to a dispute with Filmation and Ghost Busters properties. The series follows the continuing adventures of the four Ghostbusters Peter Venkman, Egon Spengler, Raymond Stanz and Winston Zeddemore, their secretary Janine, and their mascot Slimer, as they chase and capture rogue spirits around New York and various other areas of the world.

Although the “Ghostbusters” concept was tinkered with, the finalised show does feature many tie-ins from the films. The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man made numerous appearances. The uniforms and containment unit were redesigned, and Slimer was changed from a bad ghost to a resident and friend, events which are explained in the episode “Citizen Ghost” that flashes back to what happened to the Ghostbusters right after the movie’s events.

Although none of the original cast lent their voices to the cartoon series, Ernie Hudson (Zeddemore) did actually audition to play himself but didn’t get the part. Ouch!


At the start of the third season in 1988, with the series’ renaming, it was given a one-hour time slot. In addition to the regular thirty-minute Real Ghostbusters episode, a half-hour Slimer sub-series was added that included 2–3 short animated segments focusing on the character Slimer.

In 1997, a sequel cartoon entitled Extreme Ghostbusters, Set several years after the end of The Real Ghostbusters, the series opened by saying the team has disbanded due to a lack of supernatural activity. Only Egon remains in the firehouse, along with Slimer, to care for the containment system while teaching classes at a local university

It was so hard to pick just 10 great animation series because I could have easily have chosen 20, but my final choices are ones that are my faves from my 80s and 90s childhood. I hope this has been nostalgic for you.

Last words…

So, what would be my overall favourite?

Thundercats, I guess. I love the animation and the whole story. There’s a certain coolness about the show. Even to this day, it seems quite timeless whereas a lot of the others seem really dated.

These great cartoons from the 80s just missed out on this list

  • Ulysses
  • Cities of Gold
  • Dogtanian and the Muskahounds
  • Visionaries
  • Centurions
  • Pole Position
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Bravestarr

You can catch a lot of these cartoons on streaming services like Amazon Prime Instant and Netflix.


Written by Jay

A caffeine-based life form with a love of the 80s and pop culture.


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