A List of Popular 80’s and 90’s Cartoons (And Their Not-So Popular Versions)

Cartoons are awesome. But not all cartoons are created equally. This is especially true during the 80’s and 90’s when they would have to fight for your attention and limited timeslots (you youngster and your 24-cartoon channels!). Of course, some of them are remembered fondly while others are thrown into the deepest recesses of our memories as we try to forget them.

It’s time to dig up the past as we look back at some of the more extremely popular cartoons of days past… and remember the “cheap” versions they had! I decided to place them in five categories as most of them do share the basic premise.

Let’s start with…

1) The “Hey! My Robot Changes Into Something Else!” Category

Best version: Transformers

More than meets the eye! The Transformers was a phenomenal cartoon telling the story of the heroic Autobots taking on the evil Decepticons. Every child of the 80’s remember watching the show fondly. The best thing about the show was how detailed the transformations were, which just made you want to get the toys even more!

Worst version: Challenge of The GoBots

Not to hate on the GoBots, but they were a lame version of the Transformers. The show may have featured robots that changed into different things but the actual transformations were incredibly boring! It’s a shame, really. If the Transformers never came out, this would’ve been remembered more fondly.

2) The “America… F*ck Yeah!” Category

Best Version: GI Joe

Yo Joe! This is probably one of the more familiar battlecries in animation history. Combined with a pulse pounding intro song, GI Joe just oozed American heroism and machismo. The action was phenomenal with lasers and missiles filling the screen during the battle scenes. Yes, it’s amazing that no one really died amid all of the chaos (well, in the earlier shows at least), but they were a sight to see.

Oh, and they actually taught you things… because knowing is half the battle!

Worst Version: Rambo:The Force of Freedom

The John Rambo I remember from the movies was a death machine. A lone wolf with PTSD who could take out a helicopter with a bow and arrow. So, obviously, they had to “kiddie” him up when they decided to make this cartoon. But they took out all of the angst and pain that made Rambo the “hero” we loved! They gave him a team which knocked a few badass points off!

And Rambo didn’t even bother to teach kiddies not to talk to strangers or anything like that!

3) The “Voltron: Defender of the Universe That You Actually Watched” Category

Best Version: Voltron: Defender of the Universe (Lion Force)

Lion Force Voltron had all the elements of a great cartoon! Giant robots! Heroic pilots! Ugly, evil aliens! Magic! Technology! A castle that transforms into a badass starship! A lecherous prince out to kidnap and “marry” a princess! And of course, space mice! And to think, World Events Productions got this cartoon because they weren’t specific on which “giant robot with the lion” anime they wanted to import from Japan!

Worst Version: Voltron: Defender of the Universe (Vehicle Force)

The second iteration of Voltron could not follow the epicness of the Lion Force. First, they had 15 ships that would combine into Voltron. That’s an incredibly huge cast of characters to keep track of, especially if you’re a kid who may have difficulty counting that high! Also, the whole “let’s find new planets to colonize” story was pretty bland.

4) The “Let’s Give Them An Animal Sounding Name And Set The Show In Space” Category

Best Version: Thundercats

Confession time! I was never really a fan of the Thundercats cartoon. But I do get why it was so popular. It was filled with great action for the most part. I also thought the Sword of Omens was pretty cool when I was a kid since it enabled Lion-O to look for things far away and summon the rest of the Thundercats as easy as Commissioner Gordon calling Batman with the Bat-Signal.

Worst Version: Silverhawks

Now, Silverhawks I actually watched! It wasn’t a bad cartoon actually. But it definitely had problems. The biggest issue was it’s kind of silly. Unlike Thundercats, where every bad guy would seem to pose a serious threat, the baddies in Silverhawks weren’t scary. If I remember correctly, they would be defeated in silly and comedic ways, which just undercuts the “serious” look it had.

5) The “It’s A Cartoon For Girls But I’ll Watch It Anyway” Category

Best Version: Jem

I’m a little bit ashamed to admit I watched the adventures of Jem and The Holograms. Way before Miley Stewart donned a wig and became pop superstar Hannah Montana, Jerrica Benton did the exact same thing… but in a more high tech manner! Instead of a silly wig and make-up, she would use Synergy, a sentient machine created by her deceased father, to project holograms all around her to disguise herself and her friends to become the “truly outrageous” band, Jem and The Holograms!

…yeah, I just realized how ridiculous the idea behind the show sounds now.

Worst Version: Beverly Hills Teens

I recall watching this cartoon because there was nothing on at the time. The only things I can remember about this cartoon was that all the characters were stereotypes and that it didn’t matter if they were “good” or “bad”; all of them were spoiled rich brats! Oh, I also recollect having a high fever when I thought that, which may have contributed to it.

I guess the song is kinda catchy, though.

What about you? Which of your favorite cartoons do you remember being ripped off? List them down in the comments section below!

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