The 20 Best Saturday Morning Cartoons of All Time

The Best Saturday Morning Cartoons

It’s the end of an era, and the Saturday Morning Cartoon is officially dead. Our top 20 Saturday morning cartoons list continues at #15:

15. Voltron: Defender of the Universe (syndication, 1984-1985)

This is one of those Saturday morning cartoon series which was probably not as cool as its toy line, but may be cool because of the toy line. The show was actually created using licensed footage from Japanese anime series. The first season which featured the “Lion Force Voltron” was adapted from the Japanese anime television series Beast King GoLion, while the second season which featured the “Vehicle Voltron” was adapted from an unrelated anime series titled Armored Fleet Dairugger XV. The original show dialogue was completely rewritten, keeping the core plots and excising more violent sequences.

The US show focused on a team of five young pilots commanding five robot lions which when combined to formed a giant robot fighter named Voltron. The series took place in the future where the Voltron Force was in charge of protecting the planet Arus (ruled by Princess Allura) from the evil King Zarkon (from planet Doom), his son Lotor, and the witch Haggar.

14. The Real Ghostbusters (ABC, 1986-1991)

Ghostbusters captured the imagination of an entire generation of children, despite its obviously inappropriate ghost blow-job dream sequence. The animated series was created as a spin-off of the movie, and the inclusion of “Real” in the title confused most kids I knew. (That title was actually a concession of a dispute with Filmation over their Ghost Busters franchise.) Story-edited by J. Michael Straczynski, the series continued the adventures of paranormal investigators from the movie (Dr. Peter Venkman, Dr. Egon Spengler, Dr. Ray Stantz, Winston Zeddemore), who along with their secretary Janine Melnitz, accountant Louis and their now mascot ghost Slimer would hunt rogue spirits around the world and in New York City.

A bit of trivia: Ernie Hudson was the only actor from the Ghostbusters films who auditioned to play his character in the series;  but even so the role was instead given to Arsenio Hall. Full House star Dave Coulier voiced Peter Venkman, and legendary voice actor Frank Welker (best known for voicing many of the characters in the original Transformers animated series) provided the voice of Ray Stantz and Slimer.

13. Beetlejuice (ABC, 1989-1991; Fox, 1991-1992)

This short-lived cartoon series was loosely based on the 1988 film of the same name. Developed and executive-produced by Tim Burton, the series adapted Burton’s unique signature goth-style and further explored the Neitherworld, a wacky afterlife realm inhabited by monsters, ghosts and ghouls. The show followed Lydia Deetz, a goth girl who could call upon the undead con-man known as Beetlejuice.

While the show didn’t really resemble the 1988 film, it was fun to see Burton’s style adapted for the small screen in an animated form — remember, this predates The Nightmare Before Christmas. I also remember enjoying this show because the storylines would often parody classic films and tv series.

12. Garfield and Friends (CBS, 1988-1994)

Based on the comic strip by Jim Davis, the premise of Garfield was very relatable, especially for anyone who has owned a cat. Garfield is fat, lazy orange tabby cat who loves to eat and sleep, and Jon Arbuckle is his owner, a nerdy bachelor cartoonist who is always trying to get his cat to do the right thing. The combination of the two personalities resulted in 121 episodes and 7 seasons of television. Garfield is a classic and the humor feels timeless.

11. Animaniacs (Fox, 1993-1995; The WB, 1995-1999)

Animaniacs and Tiny Toon Adventures made the classic Warner Bros characters and style new and fresh. Originally a weekday afternoon show that moved to Saturdays after its long first season, Animaniacs was a show that featured a large cast of characters separated into individual segments. But front and center were The Warners, three brothers named Yakko, Wakko, and Dot, 1930s cartoon stars that were locked up in the Warner Bros. water tower on the Burbank studio lot until the 1990s, when they escaped. Another popular regular segment involved Pinky and the Brain, two genetically altered laboratory mice that continuously and unsuccessfully attempt to take over the world. The show also featured a bevy of other characters, including Slappy Squirrel, Rita and Runt, Buttons and Mindy, Chicken Boo, Flavio and Marita, Katie Ka-Boom, a trio of pigeons known as The Goodfeathers, and Minerva Mink.

The show offered parodies of movies and television shows, sometimes lampooning the world of Hollywood which it was based, and also featuring violent cartoony fun reminiscent of the old Looney Toons cartoons. For someone like me who was obsessed with movies and Hollywood, I loved the crazy adventures of Yakko, Wakko, and Dot on the Warner Bros studio lot.

And then 10 shows remained. Which ten cartoon shows topped our list of the best Saturday Morning Cartoons? Hit the jump!

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