Remember the days of “Be kind, please rewind” when Hollywood Videos was king before Red Box and Netflix came along? The way we would down gallons of Sunny D before everyone moved on to new age fruit juice hybrids? How we gorged ourselves on Lunchables before we all started getting to-go lunches from restaurants? And the zany toys that came up on TV for $19.99 that we thought were the absolute best until iPads came along?
Well allow me to take you all back in time as we go over some of the cartoons that really hit us with nostalgic memories. “Back in my day” doesn’t even begin to cover how nostalgic I felt as I wrote this article, and I hope to make you guys feel the same. While I would love nothing more than to include every single cartoon I know there ARE limits, so for this list I’ll just present the top fifteen most nostalgic cartoons of all time. I wish I could also make a few honorable mentions but that can be an even longer list on its own.
For my fellow 90s and 2000 era kids, this is a special treat for you guys. And to the kids who don’t know about the cartoons I’m going to mention, consider this a little Old School Entertainment 101 lesson. So grab a can of Pringles, a packet of Capri Sun, and cozy up with your stuffed animal that you’ve had since you were six. It’s time to start the list!
As we grow up, we want nothing more than to reach the Sweet Sixteen age. It’s the doorway to adulthood, we learn to drive, we can stay up later and so on. And 6teen embodied all of that and more, making it the perfect for tweens and teenagers. Originally aired in Canada way back in November 7th 2004 on the channel Teletoon, 6teen had a total of 93 episodes over the course of four seasons. However, when Cartoon Network, and later Nickelodeon, picked up the series at separate times, twenty four of the episodes were pulled from the original line up and some of the dialogue was also changed. The reason for this was because the two networks were aiming this show at a younger age group and felt the twenty four episodes and dialogue would be too risqué.
14. My Life As A Teenage Robot
It’s really tough being a teenager. But compared to a certain robotic teen, we humans have it easy! Nickelodeon decided to do something new and on August 1st, 2003 they gave us one of the earliest American science fantasy television cartoons, My Life As A Teenage Robot. Centered around a robotic girl named XJ-9 aka Jenny, our heroine not only had to worry about school exams but had to save the world from certain destruction on a regular basis. The series had three seasons in total, however it was canceled after the first two seasons on Nickelodeon on October 17th, 2005 due to low ratings. Three years later the show went over to the sister network Nicktoons and the final third season was aired and ran from October 4th, 2008 to May 2nd, 2009. At least Jenny didn’t have to worry about STDs, unlike most teens these days.
13. American Dragon: Jake Long
Nowadays a lot of guys try to play themselves off as these big players and heartthrobs, but our next nostalgic cartoon series has a character who had them all beat. His name is Jake Long, but you all know him better as the Mac Daddy Dragon of NYC! Originally aired on Disney Channel in 2005 on January 21st and running to September 1st, 2007 and ending with a total of 52 episodes over two seasons, American Dragon: Jake Long was about a Chinese-American boy who could turn into a dragon and was tasked with protecting New York City’s magical creatures. Speaking personally, this series really got me interested in all sorts of mythology and had me visiting my library often to ask for various books on magical creatures. It should be noted that American Dragon: Jake Long actually had a crossover with another nostalgic Disney cartoon, Lilo & Stitch.
12. Courage The Cowardly Dog Show
When in the face of horror, the first natural instinct is to head for the hills. But for a special lavender colored dog just looking for love he always had to turn back around and face the horror. I’m talking about Courage, who was the star of his very own show Courage The Cowardly Dog. A small farm in the City of Nowhere is the place this scaredy canine called home and lived with his beloved, albeit extremely oblivious, owner Muriel Bagge and her mean husband Eustace Bagge who always took the time out of his day to scare the bejeezus out of Courage. The show was originally intended to be a one-hit wonder but the 1996 pilot was so well received that Cartoon Network picked it up and gave it four seasons with thirteen episodes plus a special in 2014. The things one does for fame.
11. Code Lyoko
Before the popular anime/game franchise Sword Art Online, there was a popular science fiction French cartoon in 2003 that made its way over to American a year later in 2004. Code Lyoko was a series about a group of teenagers who enter into a virtual reality world called Lyoko and battle an evil artificial intelligence known as XANA, whom should be noted has never made an actual appearance outside of the monsters it creates within Lyoko. The series had a total of four seasons, not counting the prequel season, and ended in 2007. Then in 2012 the creators announced a fifth season and renamed the show Code Lyoko: Evolution and it aired on December 19th of that same year. Code Lyoko even got a few games, a cine-manga series and other stuff. Though Sword Art Online has now taken over the VR scene, always remember the cartoon what started the trend.
10. Mighty Ducks
Every hockey fan knows the Anaheim Ducks of California, and most many folks know about the live action Mighty Ducks films. Now allow me to bring back the cartoon inspired by both, as we go down this list of reminiscence. It aired on ABC, and was later syndicated to be apart of The Disney Afternoon program block in fall of 1996. It had one season with a total of twenty six episodes. The series was about a team of anthropomorphic alien ducks who escaped from their oppressed planet and now hold down the fort on Earth as freedom fighters against a dragon-like tyrant while also playing hockey. What puts this show at number ten is because of its theme song. No matter how many years have passed the kids who grew up in the 90s, myself included, will never forget that rock out tune made by the genius Mickey Thomas.
9. Jackie Chan Adventures
One more thing! No need to duck, folks, I wasn’t going to smack you in the head. But if that was your reaction then you more than likely remember it from the next cartoon on our list. Kicking off, no pun in tended, in the year 2000 then coming to a close in 2005 after 95 episodes over the course of five seasons, the famous Chinese actor Jackie Chan leant his voice and face for his own cartoon on the Kids’ WB channel. The famed actor’s animated version of himself was an amateur archeologist who had to search for ancient talismans and other magical artifacts with the help of Uncle and his feisty niece Jade, who was voiced by his real niece Stacie Chan. Two fun facts: the series made various references to the real Jackie’s career and at the end of each episode he would answer a viewer’s question.
8. Kim Possible
Sometimes the sound of a certain kind of ringtone can be extremely annoying. But not if you’re talking about the iconic ringtone of a big time Disney Channel series that was usually followed by the equally iconic line “So what’s the sitch?” Being a high school cheerleader never looked so badass until Kim Possible swaggered onto the scene in 2002 and lasted up to 2007. Sure she looked pretty average, but along with making cheers and participating in extra curricular activities, Kim has to save the world from crazy evil scientists trying to dominate the world. Which, I’d like to add, is so out of season along with animal print scrunchies. So let it go, ladies. Anyway, voicing our favorite redhead was none other than Christy Carlson Romano, who actually starred in another Disney show called Even Stevens alongside co-star Shia LaBeouf who played her mischievous brother.
7. X-Men Evolution
Thought you had growing pains? At least you didn’t have to deal with the growth of new super powers. This and other woes were endured by the young group of teenage X-Men. The team consisted of fan favorite characters like Wolverine and Storm who were teachers at the Xavier’s Institute for Gifted Youngsters, founded and headed by the wheelchair bound yet powerful psychic mutant himself Professor Charles Xavier. It also showed off lesser known characters like Katherine Pride and debuted the series exclusive character Evan Daniels aka Spyke. This series holds third place as one of Marvel’s longest running cartoon serials, with the Fox Kids’ X-Men series in second place and Spider-Man: The Animated Series coming in first place, after having 52 episodes over four seasons from November 2000 to October 2003. What puts this show at lucky number seven is the relatable, emotional cords writers hit that serious viewers enjoyed.
6. Static Shock
We now take a break from Marvel media, and move on to a DC show that Kids WB also featured on its early morning programming block. And this is one that made all people of color, including yours truly, very happy. Static Shock was a cartoon series brought to life from the DC Comics character of the same name and premiered on September 23rd, 2000 before ending on May 22nd after 52 episodes over four seasons. This series holds a major legacy for having the first African American superhero and targeting major issues among African Americans such as racism and gun violence. The show was centered around main character Virgil Hawkins who protects his hometown Dakota City as the electrified hero Static Shock. The show has also had crossover episodes with other DC cartoons like Justice League Unlimited and Batman Beyond. All together, a great blast from the past.
Bet you thought that only the Looney Tunes ruled the roost when it came to comedy in Warner Bros Studios, huh? Well think again! There was a trio of anthropomorphic crazy creatures known as the Warner Siblings. Yako, Wacko, and their sister Dot were first created in 1930 by the WB artists. However neither they nor their cartoons made any sense. So they were sealed up in the Warner Bros. water tower, until they escaped in the 1990s. While each episode was very short the five season, ninety nine episode series had a large cast of unique and memorable characters like the beautifully sensual Minerva Mink and the humorously maniacal duo Pinky and the Brain. The show ran from 1993 to 1998, first airing on Fox Kids for its first few seasons then moving onto The WB with new episodes for its remaining seasons. Animaniacs was definitely the original slapstick zany cartoon.
4. SWAT Kats The Radical Squadron
A lot of people would say that cats are boring and standoffish creatures who spend all day sleeping. And as a cat lover I can admit that some cats can be lazy. However, these cats in our next cartoon are anything but! Set in the fictional world of Megakat City, which consists entirely of anthropomorphic felines, main characters Chance Furlong and his buddy Jake Clawson are junkyard repairmen known respectively as T-Bone and Razor. Together, they face all sorts of baddies whom they take on with a wide range of gadgets and their fully equipped sleek fighter jet. SWAT Kats The Radical Squadron was originally apart of the Futuristic World of Hanna-Barbera and TBS Superstition programming blocks and ran from 1993 to 1995 with twenty six episodes. It was said to be the number one syndicated show of 1994 according to Nielsen Television Index and Nielsen Syndication Service.
3. Where On Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?
A lady of mystery. A woman of the unknown. And a pretty damn good thief who stole things mediocre robbers can’t even imagine taking! Not to mention she looked good in that iconic red trench coat and matching high heels, which she was able to run in way better than a lot of women can today. Based on the popular PC game series, Where On Earth Is Carmen Sandiego was converted into an animated series for Fox Kids TV. And just like its computer game predecessor, the series had trivia to help enrich the minds of its viewers. It ran from 1994 to 1999 with a whopping total of 102 episodes over four seasons. So the next time you want an entertaining show to help make you just a little smarter or have some fascinating conversation starters for your next party, then give this show a try.
Ever look up at a sky scrapper, see a gargoyle statue perched just so while staring down at you fiercely? Well fear not, for the gargoyle means you no harm. Certainly not the ones from Disney’s 1994 to 1997 series Gargoyles. A tribe of gargoyle guardians were betrayed by their human allies one thousand years ago in medieval Scotland, and the betrayal went further after the same humans placed a spell on them that petrified the gargoyles in stone for a thousand years. But after those many years passed, and the tribe of night flyers found their stone forms in Manhattan, New York, the spell has been broken and they now defend the Big Apple with the aid of their human confidant Officer Elisa Maza. The series had 78 episodes over the course of four seasons on ABC/Disney, then a comic series picked up where it left off from 2006 to 2009.
1. Jonny Quest
So we have come down to this. The final, most nostalgic cartoon ever. Jonny Quest was a cartoon series created by Doug Wildey and produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions, focusing on the daily adventures of young Jonny, his widower father Dr. Benton C. Quest, special agent and bodyguard Roger T. “Race” Bannon, his Hindu friend Hadji, and of course his faithful mask-faced pug Bandit. Though it ran for a short time from September 1964 to March 1965, this show was popular on account of the intense themes it got away with for that time period. In fact, it was because it got away with these themes, like terrorism and murder, that made Jonny Quest the target of controversy. The series also got a modern reboot that ran from August 26th, 1996 to April 16th, 1997. Despite the controversies this series has left its iconic mark on popular media culture.