Cary’s Top Ten Favorite Saturday Morning Cartoons!

Lately I’ve been reading things about major networks taking off their Saturday morning cartoon lineup and whatnot. I don’t really know the details about all of it because news about Saturday morning cartoons just isn’t at the top of my radar anymore.  But it got me to thinking about my favorite Saturday morning cartoons as a kid, so I decided to list my top ten.  I think I did a blog like this before, but it’s been quite a while so I think it’s worth revisiting.

I don’t think kids today really understand how special Saturday morning cartoons used to be for older folks. Kids today have 24-hour cartoon cable channels, and they can watch whatever they want, whenever they want, via DVR, Netflix, or the Internet.  When I was young, kids programs only came on at certain times of the day, and if you missed them, you missed them.  That’s why Saturday morning cartoons were such a big deal.  It was OUR time for the television, and most of the more quality and memorable shows came on during this long stretch.  So let’s all get into our PJs and grab yourself a bowl of sugary cereal and let’s take a look at some of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons as a kid.

But first let me set some ground rules. One, this list isn’t in any particular order of preference, so the number one spot on my list really isn’t my top favorite.  I like them all for different reasons.  Speaking of which, not all of these are on the list due to quality.  Some of the ones on this list are actually not that great, I just have good memories watching them.  And finally, many cartoons I watched were both on weekdays AND Saturdays, and if I have better memories watching them during the week, they didn’t make the list.  Maybe I’ll do a separate blog about my favorite weekday cartoons.  Who knows?  But enough of that, on to the list!


This is a good example of a cartoon making the list not because of its quality. I could probably write a whole blog on this cartoon alone.  But now I’ll just go over the finer points.  Again, this cartoon really wasn’t that good.  It was typical 80’s Hanna-Barbara fluff.  But in their defense, they didn’t have a whole lot of material to go on.  Really the best part of this cartoon was the voices.  That’s one thing Hanna-Barbara knew how to do was hire talented voice actors.  Many of those folks are still in the voice acting business!  I loved this cartoon as a kid, even though it wasn’t the best out there.  Back then, we didn’t have the Internet so we got our video game fixes any other way we could.  Plus, as you may know, as a kid I was totally infatuated with Pac-Man. I ate Pac-Man pasta, slept on Pac-Man bedsheets, carried my Pac-Man sleeping bag to sleepovers, etc.  About the only thing I didn’t do was eat Pac-Man cereal (I never liked marshmallows).  I’m not sure if it’s still available, but a couple of years ago you could get the Pac-Man cartoon DVDs online at WB’s online shop (yes I have them).  One thing you can say is that at least the old Pac-Man cartoon was better than the new computer animated Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures!

Muppet Babies

Hey don’t laugh. This cartoon was actually very well-written.  It even won Emmys and other awards.  Which is surprising since many of the episodes were written by the same guy who wrote most of the scripts for the Pac-Man cartoon!  His name was Jeffrey Scott, and he also wrote episodes of Superfriends and the Mega Man cartoon.  No wonder why I’m so messed up nowadays.  Anyway, this was a very good cartoon for kids.  I’m not sure if it would hold up as well today, what with all the 80’s references and all.  Plus, the show used a lot of live footage, especially from old movies, that I’m not sure they’d have the rights to show anymore.  In fact, in one famous episode, the Muppet Babies used an old video camera to make their own Star Wars movie.  Come to think of it, Disney does own both the Muppets AND Star Wars now, so maybe they could do that again!  At any rate, any show that encourages kids to use their imagination can’t be all bad, right?

Garfield and Friends

I said that this list wasn’t in any order of preference, but if I had to pick my number one favorite, this would probably be it. For many years prior, Garfield prime time animated specials would always win Emmys, so eventually they made their own Saturday morning cartoon that I’m sure won awards, too.  Aside from some references to old technology like videotapes, I think this cartoon still holds up well today.  It had a lot of clever parody and satire that wouldn’t be seen in cartoons until Animaniacs came out.  But it wasn’t delivered in a heavy-handed kind of way, so you didn’t have to think about things too much.  It was the perfect Saturday morning cartoon in that respect.  I have ever single season of this cartoon on DVD.  I’ve always been a pretty big Garfield fan, too.  Jim Davis may get criticism for not being much of a cartoonist, but he’s a pretty good business man to get his character out there, and most of the products Garfield was on were of high quality.  At least back then, anyway.  Not so much now.  A few years ago, there was another Garfield cartoon called The Garfield Show and it was all computer animated.  It looked terrible, plots were not as good, and Garfield actually moved his mouth when he talked.  I would say the voices weren’t as good, but you can’t blame the cartoon for that since Garfield’s original voice actor passed away a while back.  The new voice actor (which is Frank Welker I think), does a good job, but he’s no Lorenzo Music.  That guy really got into his role as Garfield back in the day, and you could really tell in the Garfield and Friends cartoon.  What’s really sad is that this cartoon didn’t go off the air because of lack of quality or viewers.  In fact, it was as popular as ever when it was taken off.  But back then, the station that carried this cartoon stopped doing Saturday morning cartoons altogether in favor of news shows.  So, popular shows like Garfield and Friends, Muppet Babies, and Super Mario World ended prematurely, unfortunately.  Well, maybe Super Mario World ending was a good thing, as that cartoon was horrible!  One last tidbit about Garfield and Friends.  It was animated by Film Roman, who also did the early episodes of The Simpsons (you know, back when they were good).

Captain N: The Game Master & The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3

OK I know this is cheating since these are basically two cartoons, but back then many shows were shown in blocks. In fact, for a while the Pac-Man cartoon was part of the “Pac-Man, Ritchie Rich, and Rubix Cube Hour.”  (Yes, there really was a Rubix Cube cartoon back then).  Anyway, this is one of those cartoons that is on my list not for its quality, but I sure did like this cartoon as a kid.  Even if they messed up some of the characters.  Really the only one who bothered me was Mega Man, with his scratchy “Mega Hi!” voice.  They ruined Kid Icarus and Simon Belmont, too, but I didn’t care about them since I wasn’t into those games.  I loved the villains, though.  King Hippo and Eggplant Wizard were great dumb sidekicks, and Metroid fans would cringe if they saw what they did with Mother Brain.  She talked like Aunt Jemima.  “Doctah Wily!  Git ovah heyah!”  I will say one thing; at least this cartoon was imaginative.  One memory of this cartoon that sticks out was the Dragon Warrior episode.  When it aired, I was spending the night at a friend’s house and we were excited when this came on because we were currently playing the Dragon Warrior game at the time!

The Super Mario Bros. 3 cartoon wasn’t great either, but any cartoon based on one of the most popular games of the time was still going to be big anyway. Plus, it was actually based on the game, while the Super Mario Bros. Super Show was more about movie and TV parodies.  There were tons of animation errors, though.  I did like the Koopa Kids design, even if they got their names wrong (probably because they had to do the cartoon before Nintendo decides on their names in the game).  Plus, the cartoon had some good lessons sometimes, and who could forget the infamous “Milli Vanilli” episode!  I watched a lot of video game based cartoons as a kid, but somehow certain ones stick out in my mind more than others.  Some video game cartoons I watched back then were pretty good, like Earthworm Jim.  Other ones, like Saturday Supercade, were not good at all, but I watched them anyway.  I especially liked the Q*bert cartoon on Saturday Supercade.  One thing I can say about these cartoons is that while they weren’t the best in the world, they were just fun, unassuming, wholesome cartoons that kids (and only kids) would like, and I can’t fault them too much for that.

The Real Ghostbusters

I oftentimes forget about this cartoon, but when I think about it, I really did watch this one a lot as a kid. Ghostbusters was always one of my favorite movies.  Some of the things they got away with in this cartoon really surprised me, and it could get kind of scary for a kid’s cartoon.  I watched this one both on Saturdays and weekdays, but it felt more memorable on Saturdays for me.  Is it wrong that my two favorite characters in the movie and cartoon were Slimer and Janine?  As much as I liked Slimer (and his awesome Hi-C Ecto Cooler juice), I hated it when Slimer got his own cartoon.  That was awful.  Do you know why the cartoon was called The “Real” Ghostbusters?  Back in the 70’s, there was a live action show called The Ghost Busters, and Filmation got the rights to make a cartoon based on that in the 80’s.  It was horrible, by the way.  So when it came time to make a movie cartoon, they couldn’t use the same title, I guess.  At any rate, there were a lot of movie-based cartoons back then, but The Real Ghostbusters was my favorite.  Another one I liked was the Back to the Future cartoon.  Christopher Lloyd even played his Doc Brown role in the cartoon and in live action as they did science experiments before and after the show.  They tried so hard to make it educational.  Many years later, when Back to the Future was released on DVD and got a surge of popularity, they replayed episodes of the cartoon on one of the major network stations still showing Saturday cartoons!

Eek the Cat

Remember when I was telling you about how one of the major networks shut down their Saturday morning cartoon lineup in favor of news shows back in the 90’s? Well, when that happened, one of the upstart new networks, Fox, stepped up to the plate and provided some pretty quality cartoons.  The next three on the list are from that era.  Eek the Cat was about a tubby purple cat who always wanted to help people.  In fact his catch phrase was “It never hurts to help.”  Unfortunately for him, it always did hurt, as he was tormented by the neighbor’s Shark Dog as well as his own crazy family.  Eventually, Eek the Cat spawned another show called The Terrible Thunder Lizards, which was equally as funny, as well as Clutter, which wasn’t very good at all (but it wasn’t made by the same folks either).  Speaking of which, the masterminds behind Eek and the Thunder Lizards cartoon was animation veteran Bill Kopp and “Savage” Steve Holland.  The latter also made a few cheesy 80’s movies like Better Off Dead, as well as the Whammy characters in Press Your Luck (yes, really).  I kind of consider Eek the Cat as “The Simpsons” of Saturday morning.  It was pretty edgy for its time, had celebrity guests like the folks from X-Files, and had parodies of 90’s pop culture.  For instance, in one episode, the Shark Dog became a rapper and had a song called “Mailman Biter,” which was a direct parody of Snoop Dogg’s “Cop Killer.”  Unfortunately, the humor was so anchored to the 90’s that I’m not sure if it would hold up as well today.  And since Disney owns the rights to this show now, I don’t think they have any interest in re-releasing it again.

Sam & Max

Most of us probably know Sam & Max from video games, but I knew it way before then as an underground comic book. Probably one of the only comic books I ever really got into.  I first learned of Sam & Max through the LucasFilm Games newsletter, then I got into the comics shortly after.  I was surprised when Sam & Max was on Saturday mornings, as they did have to soften some things up, but they still got away with a lot of things you wouldn’t expect.  I imagine the only reason why it was even made was due to the popularity of another underground comic book turned cartoon: The Tick.  Unfortunately, the Sam & Max cartoon series came out when I was in college, and I didn’t watch as many cartoons then.  And it only lasted for one season anyway (they even made a joke about that in one of TellTale’s games).  But a few years ago I did buy the Sam & Max cartoon on DVD.  I hear Disney also owns Sam & Max now, so we may not see anything out of them anytime soon.  The creator of Sam & Max, Steve Purcell, helped produce Pixar’s Brave movie, though, and he was the voice of the crow in it.

Bobby’s World

I’m not really a fan of Howie Mandell, but this is one thing he did that I liked. Based on one of his comedy routines, Bobby’s World was about a five-year-old boy’s unique outlook on life and his family (and was voiced by Howie himself).  It was a really cute kid’s cartoon, and touched on a lot of subjects that other kid’s cartoons didn’t.  A lot of Saturday morning cartoons were actually based on comedian skits.  Others include Louie Anderson’s Life With Louie, Pee Wee’s Playhouse (yuck), and Camp Candy.  Heck, even Fat Albert was based on one of Bill Cosby’s acts. I remember seeing Bobby’s World on Netflix a while back, not sure if it’s still on there, though.

Kirby: Right Back at Ya!’

In the early to mid-2000’s, there was what I feel a resurgence in Saturday morning cartoons. At least on one network anyway.  The last two on this list are from that era.  Around this time, the GameCube was big and cartoony 3-D platformers were at their height of popularity.  There were many cartoons based on video games around this time.  Some were all right, like F-Zero, some were awful, like Viewtiful Joe, and some were pretty decent, like Sonic X.  But the best of the bunch was the Kirby cartoon!  Sure it was typical Fox Kids fluff, but it was still fun and entertaining.  A perfect fit for Saturday mornings.  One of the reasons why I think this cartoon was so well done was that the creators of the Kirby games were heavily involved in the making of the show.  I also like their choices of voice actors.  Whoever decided on King Dedede’s US voice deserves a raise.  This cartoon holds up pretty well, and I’m surprised a channel hasn’t bought the rights to show this in syndication, especially since Kirby is more popular now than ever.

Astro Boy

Around the time that the Kirby cartoon came out, an Astro Boy cartoon was released to celebrate the character’s 50th anniversary.  The creator of Astro Boy is oftentimes called the father of Japanese manga comic books and cartoons, so Astro Boy is a pretty big deal over there.  This new Astro Boy cartoon was great.  I heard that they used as many frames per second as movie cartoons do, as opposed to the lesser amount of frames used in TV.  This is one of the few anime cartoons I really like, and I have it on DVD, too.  Unfortunately, Fox Kids didn’t show the episodes in order, and the DVD set follows suit.  So you need to find a guide on the Internet if you want to watch it in order.  Fans of Mega Man should really try and watch Astro Boy, as Mega Man is pretty much Astro Boy: The Game. Speaking of games, when this cartoon came out, SEGA published a GBA game by Treasure called Astro Boy: Omega Factor, and it’s one of the few Treasure games I actually like, and one of the best GBA games ever.


And that’s all for this list! When I was a kid, you always knew when the Saturday morning cartons were over when Soul Train came on.  So about that time I’d turn off the TV after watching the cartoon train go by, and I’d usually go play outside.  Or I’d switch the TV to one of the local stations that always showed a Japanese monster Godzilla or Ultraman movie in the early afternoon.  There were a lot of other cartoons I watched, and I tried to squeeze in honorable mentions in the paragraphs above, but I think one other one I missed was Freakazoid.  That was a good cartoon, but not good enough to make the top ten.  Maybe next time I’ll talk about my favorite weekday afternoon cartoons as a kid.  What do you think?  In the comments section, tell me what you think of my list, and let me know YOUR favorite Saturday morning cartoons!  Later!  –Cary

One Response to “Cary’s Top Ten Favorite Saturday Morning Cartoons!”

  1. The Hanna-Barbara Olympics one (laugh-o-lympics?) It had all the characters in one show… Muppet Babies was pretty good. I watched the Dungeons and Dragons one a fair bit but they always seemed to be running ones I had already watched. Scooby Do (before Scrappy) was good…

    The others were decent (Warner Bros fare)…

    In college the afternoon toons became a “thing”.. I liked Tiny Toons, although Animaniacs were eventually favored by the dorm crowd.

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