Top 20 Saturday Morning Cartoons

Saturday mornings used to mean one thing - cartoons! You woke up as quietly as you could, grabbed whatever sugar-laced cereal you tricked your mom into buying, and hung out in front of the TV until either your parents kicked you out of the house or something boring like the news or Candlepin Bowling came on. While you can still find some Saturday morning animation out there (I mean, there's 300 or so cable channels), most of it is either designed for very young children, or the same stuff you can watch 12 times a week. Saturday Morning cartoons, as we knew them as children, are pretty much dead. Which is a shame, because during the 80s and 90s, amid the usual half-hour advertisements and mindless drivel, there were some very entertaining and creative shows. We've gathered up our favorites (plus one we felt we had to mention, even though we're not big fans), and the staff at Retrodrome gives you the Top 20 Saturday Morning Cartoons.

 

Before we begin, a couple of notes. To get on the list, the show needed to air original episodes on Saturday morning. While several shows on the list also had weekday afternoon runs, all of them were primarily Saturday shows. We concentrated on the shows that aired during our own era, which was the late 80s and 90s - while we did look at older and newer shows, we didn't really feel like any of them merited a spot. And finally, when we were young, we were boys. We watched and liked boy shows. Even if we watched girly shows as a kid, we certainly didn't admit it then and I don't think we're going to now (I mean, what self-respecting man admits to watching cartoons made for girls?). So keep in mind the list is a bit biased in those respects.

That said, leading off...

 

Semi-Honorable Mention - Freakazoid!

1995-1997, 24 episodes

The WB

 

 

Freakazoid is about the adventures of a 16 year old geek who is transformed into a zany superhero by a computer bug on the internet. We're including it as a semi-honorable mention because a lot of people think it's top 20 worthy. We disagree. While the show was good at times, for the most part it's a great example of trying a bit too hard to be wacky and madcap, and the antics of the main character tend to leave you more confused than anything. Maybe Jerry Lewis, who the creators seem to idolize, is a comedy genius, and maybe Freakazoid! is one of the greatest animated shows ever, and we're just not brilliant enough to see it. But we'll leave it off the list anyway.

 

 

#20 - Alvin and the Chipmunks

1983-1990, 102 episodes

NBC

 

 

Truth be told, there's only one reason this show about the famous singing chipmunk trio made it onto the list. It's not because we remember any particularly awesome episodes, or even really remember what the show was about. Nope, we included this one for the same reason you have "Watch out, cause here we come!" in your head right now (and if you don't, well, you're probably too young for this list). The show had an incredibly catchy theme song, as you would expect from a show about singing chipmunks, and every episode also included a song or two including music from some pretty big names like Michael Jackson and Madonna. So, yes, this show was worth it for the music alone.

 

 

#19 - The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

1988 - 1991, 50 episodes

Disney Channel, ABC

 

 

Ever since the late '60s, Disney's Winnie the Pooh has been a staple of children's television, movies, books, toys, and just about everything else, particularly after the release of 1977's "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh." It came as no surprise to anyone when Disney came out with The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in the late '80s, following the live action series Welcome to Pooh Corner. Long time voice actors Paul Winchell, John Fiedler, and Hal Smith all returned to continue voicing Tigger, Piglet and Owl. Jim Cummings, the man with the mile long IMDB page, took over the voice of Winnie the Pooh from Sterling Holloway, resulting in another case of Jim Cummings imitating a voice someone else performed initially and doing it masterfully.

 

While it is a show for very small children, many people of all ages have enjoyed this show. The writing, while a bit heavy with the morals occasionally, is often very fun and funny, with each character's quirky personality working well off of each other. Granted, it's still your basic Winnie the Pooh material (Pooh eats honey to problematic ends, Tigger is energetic, Eeyore is thoroughly depressed), but they get a lot of stories out of the main characters, as well as some more out of the ordinary type stuff. The episodes hit that feel-good middle ground of being appropriate for kids, while still being enjoyable by anyone, unlike some of the other Pooh series', which are squarely aimed at the preschool age kids.

 

 

#18 - Bump in the Night

1994-1995, 26 episodes

ABC

 

 

Chalk up this series as another hit for ABC. Bump in the Night wasn't exactly animation, but it wasn't exactly live action either. The series used stop motion animation and aired for only one year, making it one of the shortest series run on our list. After 26 episodes and 2 seasons, the show was cancelled, along with over 10 other animated shows on other networks in 1995, the year the Saturday Morning Cartoon died.

 

Mr. Bumpy was the star of this crazy look at what goes on in a child's bedroom after he's asleep. Joining the green monster were Squishington the toilet monster, Molly the rag doll and the Closet Monster, among other background characters. There was usually a moral to the stories in the episodes as well as a snazzy song and dance number, usually reiterating the moral or life lesson portrayed during the episode. It was gross, hilarious, upbeat, and most of all it has staying power. The animation was a huge selling point, as it was different than most everything on at the time and this quirky series deserves

more acclaim than it usually gets. The series lasted a little over a year, and the whole run is available on DVD, so do yourself a favor and go hang out with Mr. Bumpy and friends.

 

 

#17 - The Addams Family

1992 - 1993, 21 episodes

Hanna-Barbera, ABC

 

 

Coming off of the success of the 1991 movie, it's no surprise that an Addams Family cartoon was made. Sticking to precedents set by the show from the late '60s, the cartoon focused on the misadventures of this unusual family. The show generally focused on a few characters at a time, heavily featuring the characters in pairs, typically Wednesday and Pugsley or Gomez and Fester. A set of new characters was introduced in the form of a set of nosy, do-gooding neighbors, the Normanmeyers, who would often meddle in the affairs of the family and try to drive them out of town. The original Gomez Addams, John Astin, returns to voice the character again here, but unfortunately, he is the only one of the original cast to return. There are still many big names among the rest of the cast, though, including Carol Channing as Grandma Addams, along with Rob Paulsen, Jim Cummings, and Pat Fraley.

 

The show is purely cartoon level comedy, with no continuing plots or continuity of any kind, just one or three little vignettes per episode. The plots are the usual Addams Family fare, centered around the family's weird and unusual habits, juxtaposed against the very normal and goody two shoes Normanmeyer family. It has a very campy '60s feel to its humor, appropriately dark for the Addams', but still very child friendly. A good amount of slapstick was used, particularly between Fester and Gomez, along with a ton of sight gags. The interior of the Mansion and the surrounding grounds were filled with creepy and bizarre things, nearly all scenes had something fun to look at in the background. Later Addams Family shows (and movies) would be aimed at a younger crowd, and have the creepiness and dark humor stripped away, but this one falls perfectly into the middle area of funny, dark, and only occasionally corny.

 

 

#16 - A Pup Named Scooby-Doo

1988-1991, 30 episodes

ABC

 

 

The adventures of Shaggy, Scooby, and the rest of the gang as children as they solve the various mysterious in and around the extremely 50s town of Coolsville. The show was part of a series of generally mediocre cartoons that took classic Hanna-Barbera characters, made them kids, and they mostly rehashed the same plots. A Pup Named Scooby Doo, however, is a flat-out parody of the classic cartoons, with the characters and villians being younger, more exaggerated versions of their older selves - Velma being a riduculously prepared computer geek and Fred as an conspiracy-obsessed maniac who's always wrong really helps give them a lot more character than in the original shows. While it still follows the Scooby-Doo formula, it doesn't take itself seriously at all, and things are a lot better for it.

 

 

#15 - Pirates of Dark Water

1991 - 1993, 21 episodes

CBS

 

 

Set on the alien world of Mer, the Pirates of Dark Water was a series by Hanna Barbera that followed the young prince Ren in his search for a set of 13 treasures that would save the world from the evil substance known as Dark Water. With a premise like that, you'd think a show like this would be a smash hit among kids who were already amped on action packed shows like TMNT and X-Men. However, this mix of comedy and action fell short, running only two seasons and ending on a cliffhanger with the pirate crew having only 8 of the 13 treasures found. The show has a good amount of well known actors, with veteran actor Brock Peters providing the voice of the evil villain Bloth, rival to prince Ren. Peter Cullen provided the voice of Bloth's second in command, Mantus, giving a very cool and menacing performance for the evil pirate. Tim Curry was on the side of evil again here, voicing Konk, a short, fat pirate who acts as a bit of comic relief on the villainous pirate crew. Frank Welker provides the voice for Niddler the Monkey-bird, along with many other characters, and Jodi Benson rounds out the cast as Tula, the only female protagonist.

 

Most of the episodes revolve around the pirate crew of the Wraith, Ren, Ioz, and Tula, battling against either the evil Bloth and his crew on the Maelstrom or any of a number of monstrous beasts that inhabit the world of Mer. The feeling of discovery as the crew explores the numerous islands of Mer and uncovers each of the Treasures of Rule in turn is a big part of why the show works so well, and the back and forth battle between Ren and Bloth for posession of these treasures makes up a large part of it as well. Even Niddler gets a few episodes centered on him, breaking up the action with a good amount of comedy. It's a damned shame that the show got cancelled, many people now would like to see the show get renewed and have an actual end written to the series. Until that day, the fate of Mer remains up in the air.

 

 

#14 - The Real Ghostbusters

1986 - 1991, 147 episodes

ABC

 

 

ABC had quite a few hits on their hands in the animated series department, and The Real Ghostbusters was no exception. Based on the 1984 film, and created by Dan Aakroyd and Harold Ramis themselves, the cartoon followed a monster of the week format, with the gang battling evil monsters, Cthulhu, random ghosts, and even famous dead actors gone rogue. It's worth noting that Garfield himself, Lorenzo Music, voiced Bill Murray's character Peter Venkman in the first and second season, and Murray noted that his voice sounded too much like Garfield, while he himself would go on to voice Garfield in two feature films. Ernie Hudson was the only actor to audition for the role of his character from the film, but he somehow lost to Arsenio Hall. What a world.

 

The series stayed pretty true to the premise of the film, and kept all the main characters, including Peter Venkman, Egon Spengler, Ray Stantz, Winston Zeddemore, their secretary Janine, Louis Tully and of course, Slimer, the goofy green ghost, who ended up being more of a mascot for the group than a nuisance like he was in the film. Slimer ended up being so popular that the name of the series was eventually changed to Slimer! And the Real Ghostbusters, and eventually the show was changed to be an hour long and became lighter in tone. The show was cancelled in 1991, but not before giving us the best tasting juice box in existance, Hi-C's Ecto Cooler.

 

 

#13 - ReBoot

1994 - 1996, 48 episodes

ABC

 

 

ReBoot takes place inside the computer, a world called Mainframe where the guardian sprite Bob defends the system and his friends against the rampaging viruses Megabyte and Hexadecimil, as well as the whims of the mysterious User who occasionally sends in dangerous "games" that the residents must win at or be deleted (and you wonder why the computer cheats). The CGI animation the series used at the time was primitive, but still visually impressive, especially considering there wasn't much like it at the time used for TV animation. The "inside-a-computer" setting led to a ton of technology-related jokes and puns that made us kids feel smarter than our parents who didn't get them, and the games lent themselves to all sorts of clever and fantastic adventures as well. Sadly, the show was plagued by a lack of support from ABC and a rather opressive censorship board that prohibited things like the main characters crashing through windows and a sister giving her brother a kiss on the cheek. It was yanked after two seasons but two more seasons were made later on, and freed from ABC's yoke they ended up darker, funnier, more adventurous, and absolutely fastastic - if those seasons are taken into account, you could probably push ReBoot up another 5 or 6 places on this list.

 

 

#12 - Sonic the Hedgehog

1993 - 1994, 26 episodes

ABC

 

 

One of two Sonic cartoons to air at about the same time (the other, Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, aired on weekdays and is mostly famous for being meme-fodder), this one was more action-oriented. The show created its own background story and characters apart from the video games, pitting Sonic, Tails, and a motley crew of woodland animal friends against a pretty scary Dr. Robotnik as they fight to liberate their world from him and his robot army. Despite the foreign setting and dark atmosphere, Sonic was still Sonic, and it's always fun watching him do his thing, even in a more depressing setting than usual, and it is kind of nice seeing Robotnik portrayed as a serious, sinister, threatning villian. And it even had Jaleel White of Family Matters fame doing the voice of Sonic. The supporting cast was kind of bland, but that could probably be said about the games too...the series gave you plenty of Sonic and plenty of action, and that's really all you can ask for.

 

 

#11 - Captain N: The Game Master

1989 - 1991, 34 episodes

NBC

 

 

Here is a prime example of a cartoon that has not aged well. At the time, the vast majority of Nintendo fans were clamoring for any other forms of media containing video game characters. We had books, comics, TV shows featuring single video game characters and then this program, which was basically a "supergroup" of Nintendo franchises. For the good guys, we had Mega Man, Pit from Kid Icarus, Simon Belmont from Castlevania and after the first season, a walking, talking Gameboy, among others. Of course for every hero, we had a villain, including some that just don't seem to fit in with the others. Mother Brain has gone from a creepy autonomous brain in a jar to a jive talking, vain woman who just happens to be a brain in a jar (voiced by the late Levi Stubbs, who also voiced Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors). As for henchmen, there was Eggplant Wizard and King Hippo, the two bumbling fools of the bunch, as well as Dracula from the Castlevania franchise, who is less creepy and dark and more goofy and constantly failing. Why the dark lord takes orders from Mother Brain is anyone's guess. Dr. Wily was also a constant companion to Mother Brain, and they had this weird almost husband and wife relationship that is almost creepier than anything else in the show.

 

The plot of the show starts when Kevin, an obviously avid Nintendo fan, and his dog Duke are sucked into his Nintendo console via the "Ultimate Warp Zone" and transported to Video Land, where Mother Brain is in the process of capturing the castle and the princess. Kevin is supposed to fulfill an ancient prophecy and become the Game Master, so after eventually rescuing the princess and proving his worth in Video Land, and with the help of his trusty zapper and NES Controller Belt, he and the others go on quests to face villains of the week and foil Mother Brain's plans again and again. Though like I mentioned, the cartoon hasn't aged well, but other than the obvious nostalgia factor for kids of the Nintendo Age, it has this unexplainable charm that is rarely seen in shows based off of other properties, therefore deserves it's spot on this list.

 

 

#10 - Beetlejuice

1989 - 1992, 94 episodes

ABC, FOX

 

 

Beetlejuice actually aired on two different networks, starting off on ABC before finishing off it's last year on FOX. It was developed by Tim Burton himself, with Danny Elfman even returning to do a different arrangement on his classic Beetlejuice theme song. It was plenty different from the movie of the same name, most notably the absence of the Maitland family entirely. Instead, it focused entirely on Lydia and Beetlejuice's friendship, and occasionally the assorted townspeople and citizens of the "Neitherworld", where Beetlejuice resides. And though Sandworms were only mentioned once in the movie, they were a nemesis of sort to Beetlejuice in the series, making numerous appearances.

 

Lydia Deetz is an unusual, goth, brooding teenager who just happens to have a ghost-with-the-most as a best friend. She regularly visits him in Neitherworld and sometimes has misadventures with him in the real world. They're joined by the numerous background characters, most notably Beetlejuice's neighbors Jacques, Ginger, and The Monster Across the Street. Lydia's classmates also made frequent appearances, as well as her parents, who were often victims of pranks by the duo. It's also worth mentioning that Lydia was voiced by Resident Evil's Claire Redfield herself, Alyson Court. The series won an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program in 1990 and rightly so, as it was a fun, goofy and often gross show that could be enjoyed by kids and adults alike.

 

 

#9 - Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears

1985 - 1990, 94 episodes

NBC, ABC

 

 

Disney's first foray into TV animation, Gummi Bears took place in a medieval world where the title characters, six humanoid bears who are the last of their ancient civilization, somehow get involved in a struggle between the kingdom of Dunwyn and the evil stronghold of Drekmore. The ruler of Drekmore, Duke Igthorn, has discovered the bears and wants their secrets to help him overthrow Dunwyn, including the secret of Gummiberry Juice, which gives the bears the ability to bounce around like rubber, but gives humans super-strength. The series is beautifully animated and well-written, the characters are interesting and surprisingly well developed, and in between the various one-shot adventures they had several episodes that were part of a much grander story arc...Gummi Bears had a depth that just wasn't seen in "kids shows" back then. The show's success lead Disney to create more television animation, which lead to classics such as DuckTales, Rescue Rangers, and several other shows that would probably dominate this list if they aired on Saturday morning.

 

 

#8 - Muppet Babies

1984 - 1990, 107 episodes

CBS

 

 

Muppet Babies had a good long life, especially compared to most cartoons of the time. It ran for 8 seasons, from 1984 till 1991 and won four Emmys, as well as spawning the fad of turning other well known cartoons into younger versions of themselves, as seen in A Pup Named Scooby Doo, Flintstone Kids, Tiny Toon Adventures, Tom and Jerry Kids and more. The show continued into syndication all the way until 2000, 16 years after it's debut. As much as fans of the show beg for a DVD release of the series, it's a pretty complicated situation, as the series regularly used live action snips of other popular properties, such as Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones, Star Trek and more, which would make acquiring the rights for DVD release quite a challenge.

 

The show revolved around the many adventures of the Muppet Babies as they lived in a nursery watched over by Nanny, the only human character to appear in every episode. Episodes either dealt with common childhood problems such as monsters in the closet or trips to the dentist, or the characters were simply bored and found ways to amuse themselves using the power of imagination. Most every popular Muppet character was present, including Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Scooter, Animal, Rowlf the Dog and occasional appearances by Dr. Bunsen and Beaker. Scooter's twin sister Skeeter was also present, despite only appearing in the cartoon and never being a live action Muppet. She was only added because people thought they needed another female cast member. Voice cast included Howie Mandell for the first season, with Dave Coulier taking over his duties for the remainder of the series, and included other well-knowns such as Frank Welker, Greg Berg and Peter Cullen. The series had a lasting impression on many eople of the 80's generation, myself included. So the only way to end this is to repeat the age old saying of "Go bye bye!"

 

 

#7 - Tiny Toon Adventures

1990 - 1995, 98 episodes

CBS, FOX

 

 

Tiny Toon Adventures was Warner Bros. Animation's first animated TV series, and the first of many hits the studio had throughout the late '90s. The cast was a sort next generation of Looney Tunes character (Bugs Bunny to Buster Bunny, Daffy Duck to Plucky Duck, etc), a nice change from many of the other "kid versions of famous characters" shows that cropped up around this time. The episodes all take place in Acme Acres, often at Acme Looniversity, the school the Toons go to which is staffed by the original Looney Tunes. Wackyland, the neighboring area which was home to Gogo Dodo and many other unique creations, was also often visited by the characters. The show often made use of pop culture references for its jokes, mimicking the Looney Tunes which used this same brand of humor, but also had character driven humor, with each of the show's characters having their own quirks. The cast was almost entirely A-list voice actors, including Charles Adler, Tress MacNeille, Frank Welker, Don Messick, Cree Summer, Maurice LaMarche, Rob Paulsen, and Kath Soucie.

 

The majority of the vignettes focused on Buster, Babs, Plucky, and Hamton, with Elmyra and Montana Max showing up slightly less often. The variety of other characters occasionally got episodes or cameos, but weren't featured nearly as often. An extremely large number of the episodes were parodies of other shows, movies, or general styles, with three segments given to a particular style with a wraparound bit involving some characters, typically Buster and Babs, introducing the vignettes. Many episodes featured Elmyra as a villain, having her overzealous love for animals be the driving force for escape parodies or detailing the suffering of her pets. In 1992, the show was popular enough that they released a straight to home video feature-length movie, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, in which several misadventures were shown of each character's attempts at an amazing summer vacation.

 

 

#6 - Bobby's World

1990 - 1998, 81 episodes

FOX

 

 

Perhaps the first children's cartoon based on a raunchy comedy act (but not the first children's show - that would be Pee-Wee's Playhouse), Bobby's World showcases the adventures of 5-year old Bobby Generic (pronounced "GEN-er-ik"), or at least the mundane happenings of his life viewed through his extrodinary imagination. Howie Mandel (back when he had hair) does the voice of Bobby and also appears in the show as both his real-life self and as Bobby's animated father. Mandel's "Bobby Voice" is pretty damn adorable, and when he goes into a daydream, you're probably in for an explosion of colors, music, and a good healthy dose of wonder. Even the mundane, non-Bobby-enhanced antics of the Generic family are pretty funny and entertaining, and it's even educational, though you probably won't mind in the least. And unlike a lot of the shows on this list, it still holds up as solid entertainment for the adults we allegedly are today (did I mention Howie Mandel was involved? He's not exactly known as a kid-friendly comedian, don't ya know).

 

 

#5 - Batman

1992 - 1995, 85 episodes

FOX

 

 

Often considered to be one of the best cartoons ever, Batman: The Animated Series kicks off our top five. A large number of classic Batman villains were given new depth and engaging background stories, turning formerly silly villains like Mr. Freeze into truly relatable and sympathetic characters. The gritty and dark nature of the show worked extremely well, resulting in a series that was appropriate for kids that still treated its viewing audience in a mature manner. The show took various approaches as well, not always going for the simple villain set up and Batman take down, but often opting for unique stories showcasing any number of the show's characters. One fan favorite, for example, is one where a large number of the rogues' gallery are sitting together playing cards and telling tales of how they almost got him. Kevin Conroy voices Batman, and became the iconic voice for nearly all animated versions of the character. Mark Hamill's Joker has also become truly iconic, with the star returning to voice the role numerous times, most recently in the Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City games.

 

Despite mostly being a "villain of the week" style show (with a number of two-parters), Batman had a good amount of continuity from episode to episode. The writers didn't often forget what happens to the crime kingpins from one week to the next, or which villains happen to already be in Arkham Asylum. Each of the big name villains had several episodes to themselves, while numerous smaller baddies from the comics had their time to shine as well. Many new villains and other, more minor characters were created for the show independent from the comics, though very few of them saw any lasting success, Harley Quinn being chief among them. After the 85 episode mark, the show got an animation overhaul with a distinct new look to most of the characters, with this short-lived (only 24 episodes) series being named The New Batman Adventures. The show's popularity led to a number of Batman feature-length films, and eventually the spinoff series, Batman Beyond.

 

 

#4 - Animaniacs / Pinky and the Brain

1993 - 1998 / 1995 - 2000, 99 episodes / 65 episodes

FOX/WB

 

 

Animaniacs was the Looney Tunes of our generation, plain and simple. Evolving from Tiny Toons, it took an ensemble cast, an irreverent sense of humor, lots of music and a metric ton of jokes and crammed it all together into what can be best described as an animated variety show. The faces of the show are the Warner Brothers (and sister), Yakko, Wakko, and Dot, who spend their time being chased around the WB Studios (they were locked up for being a little too crazy) and doing various madcap things. There were several other "sketches" including Goodfeathers (a parody of Goodfellas), Buttons and Mindy (a Lassie-themed parody), Slappy Squirrel (an elderly Looney Tunes-era cartoon star who's now quite bitter and sarcastic), and Rita and Runt (a dog-and-cat pair, the cat voiced by Broadway star Bernadette Peters). The most popular of the shorts was probably Pinky and the Brain; a pair of lab mice, one superintelligent, one super-not, who plotted nightly to take over the world. Pinky and the Brain was spun off into its own series when the show moved from FOX to WB, and at a later point was changed into Pinky, Elmyra, and the Brain (The less said about that, the better). The shows were hilarious, but perhaps the most noteable thing about them is they weren't afraid to go to adult humor - not just dirty jokes and the like (though they did have their share of those), but parodies of things like the HMS Pinafore and Les Miserables, where kids may not entirely get the joke but still find what was going on funny. Animaniacs was one of the first cartoons of our era to not be afraid to pander to the grown-ups as well as the kids, and in the end, it may have worked too well...the serieses were cancelled (or in the case of P&tB, morphed into more kiddy-friendly fare) because they were drawing in too much of an adult audience and not the kids that were the intended demographic.

 

 

#3 - X-Men

1992 - 1997, 76 episodes

FOX

 

 

X-Men, based upon the comic series that everyone's heard about by now, is about the team of mutant superheroes and their attempts to cope with a world that hates them, while battling against villians who want to overthrow the humans (or occasionally have more mundant criminal leanings). The show premeired at the perfect time, when the X-Men were becomming popular again, and served as a great introduction to the world as well as a fanstastic show in its own right. Much like Batman before it, X-Men dispensed with the comedy and was a completely serious, dramatic series, complete with the killing off of a character in the first episode (don't worry, he's not anyone cool, they just ported in an obscure, long-dead old character for the show). The entire series followed one long overreaching story arc, sort of like the comics, and while there were plenty of original stories several famous storylines were brought in from the comics, including Days of Future Past and the Dark Phoenix Saga. Oh, and the incredibly awesome intro sequence helped a lot too. All told, X-Men was the finest dramatic animated series for children ever produced and still hold up well today.

 

 

#2 - Garfield and Friends

1988 - 1994, 121 episodes

CBS

 

 

How original, another cartoon based on a comic strip about a fat, orange, wise cracking cat! All jokes aside, Garfield lasted far longer than Heathcliff by a long shot, seven whole seasons to be exact. This makes it one of the longest lasting Saturday Morning cartoons ever, only being edged out by a few others. The theme song that everyone remembers the most is probably the "We're ready to party!" song, and not the original "Friends are there, to help you get started!" tune. Even worse was the rap theme song that was used in the last season. Viewers quickly voiced their displeasure in that one.

 

The series focused on Jon, Garfield, Odie and sometimes Nermal as they lived their day to day lives being lazy, fighting off aliens, eating lasagna, and other wacky adventures. The second segment was U.S. Acres, which featured a cast of barnyard animals, featuring Orson Pig, Wade Duck, Roy Rooster, Bo and Lanolin the sheep, and Booker and Sheldon, two chickens, one of which was still unhatched in it's egg. There were many, many supporting characters as well, most famously Binky the Clown. He usually showed up to annoy Garfield and whoever else happened to be around. Among others were the Buddy Bears, The Weasel, The Wolf, and other minor characters who were generally just nuisances to the main cast. The show stuck around a good while, only being cancelled after CBS was chopping budgets to cartoons to make way for morning news programs. Garfield was one of the last animated shows on CBS to stay until Saturday Mornings were filled with programming other than animation, so it did a fine job staying around till the end.

 

 

1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

1987 - 1996, 193 episodes

CBS

 

 

Very few would disagree with the Turtles landing the #1 spot for Saturday morning cartoons. Granted, the series /was/ also available during the week for most of its run, but that didn't mean that it was okay to skip the show on Saturdays. This was often the highlight of the morning, with other shows just being filler leading up to it or ones that happened to be on the same channel afterwards because we were too lazy to get up and change the channel (yes, many of us actually had to do that at the time). The stories of four mutated turtles, their mutated rat leader, and the parade of villains they fought against (both mutated and normal) captivated kids all throughout the late '80s and into the early '90s, with a toy line that always seemed to have a new figure to add to the collection. Cam Clarke, Rob Paulsen, Townsend Coleman, and Barry Gordon voiced Leonardo, Raphael, Michaelangelo and Donatello, respectively, with James Avery famously voicing Shredder... Or, at least, this became famous later on, in a "Did you know that Uncle Phil on Fresh Prince voiced the Shredder on TMNT?!" sort of way.

 

The first season of the show was a five episode miniseries that introduced nearly all aspects of the show and most of the major characters, setting things up for nine seasons to come. Continuity wasn't a big concern for the show, with nearly all the episodes being a single villain of the week, everything's wrapped up clean and happy in twenty minutes type stuff. This worked to the show's benefit, though, as it allowed them to introduce dozens of villains (and allies) to the show without having to worry about little details. In addition to series regulars Shredder, Krang, Bebop, and Rocksteady, the Turtles would frequently fight with Baxter Stockman, the Rat King, Leatherhead, and the Rock Soldiers of Dimension X, along with many other one-off villains that would show up to pad out the toy line. The show's popularity would continue on throughout the '90s, spawning three live action movies, some absolutely hideous music videos (and even live concerts), and a pair of reboot series post 2000. The show has come an incredibly long way since its Saturday morning beginnings, but it remains one of the shining examples of '80s television.

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