The 90s was arguably the golden age of cartoons. This period saw the release of hundreds of animation blockbusters, many of which have remained etched on our memories forever.
Even if you were not a fan of cartoons as a kid (which is highly unlikely), you most probably donned plenty of cartoon-themed clothing. So, one way or another, you were actively involved in the 90s cartoon fever.
Well, we’re all grown-up now and possibly no longer find cartoons as fanciful as we did back then. Even so, there are several cartoons of the 90s that you can still watch if you’re looking to go on a nostalgic trip down memory lane.
Here’s a throwback list of the 10 most awesome 90s cartoons that you can watch to feel young again.
1. Batman: The Animated Series (September 5, 1992 to September 15, 1995)
Batman: The Animated Series, also known as The Adventures of Batman & Robin, is undeniably the best animated adaptation of the legendary film series based on the DC Comics superhero Batman. The series was produced by Warner Bros. Animation and originally aired on Fox Kids from September 5, 1992 until September 15, 1995.
Batman: The Animated Series received quite a few prestigious accolades from numerous film critics. IGN.com listed the series as the best comic book television show of all time as well as the best adaptation of Batman outside of comics.
Critics mostly heaped praises on how aptly this series portrayed the life of superhero Batman without veering too deep into darkness. Well, that was only to be expected, seeing as how this animated adaptation was intended for a much younger audience.
2. Duck Tales (September 18, 1987 to November 28, 1990)
Duck Tales is technically an 80s series. Produced by Disney Television Animation, this animated television series premiered on syndication on September 18, 1987. It went on to air a total of 100 episodes over 4 seasons, with the final episode airing on November 28, 1990.
Duck Tales is based on various Duck universe comic books by Carl Barks, particularly Uncle Scrooge. The series chronicles the adventures of Scrooge McDuck and his three grandnephews (Huey, Louie, and Dewey), along with their close friends. These adventures mainly involve setting out on treasure-finding missions while also thwarting the attempts of villainous characters out to steal Scrooge’s fortune.
This series was such a hit that it inspired numerous video games, comic books, and merchandise. There’s also an animated theatrical spin-off film based on the cartoon released on August 3, 1990, entitled DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp.
3. Hey Arnold! (October 7, 1996 to June 8, 2004)
Hey Arnold! is an animated comedy television series set in the fictional American city of Hillwood. The series was created by Craig Bartlett and originally aired on the Nickelodeon channel between October 7, 1996 and June 8, 2004.
Hey Arnold! chronicles the experiences of a fourth grader named Arnold who lives in a rundown ghetto neighborhood in Hillwood. Most episodes center on Arnold’s struggles as he navigates city life and numerous challenges he and his friends encounter in between.
Although urban life challenges typically affect youths and tweens, Craig Bartlett packaged the events in this series so simplistically that every kid can relate to them.
4. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (December 14, 1987 to Present)
Commonly shortened to Ninja Turtles or abbreviated as TMNT, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an animated series depicting the lives of four fictional superhero anthropomorphic turtles. The superhero quartet are adopted by an anthropomorphic rat sensei known as Splinter, who lives with them in the sewers of New York City. Splinter subsequently trains the teenage turtles in the ancient Japanese martial art of ninjitsu ninjas.
The Ninja Turtles must now battle New York City gangs consisting of all manner of criminal ninjas. Some of the notable criminals they go up against include alien invaders, evil overlords, and mutated creatures.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is considered one of the longest-running children’s animation series. After premiering in 1987, the series has spawned numerous sequels, with the most recent one airing from 2018 to the present.
5. Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers (March 4, 1989 to November 19, 1990)
Chip and Dale are some of the most iconic cartoon characters ever to have come out of Disney Television Animation.
In Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, Chip and Dale team up with their friends Monterey Jack, Gadget Hackwrench, and Zipper to start a detective agency known as Rescue Rangers. The agency mostly handles crimes considered too small for normal law enforcement officers, and animals form the vast majority of their clients.
In their quests to restore law and order, the Rescue Rangers team often face off with some of the most villainous characters in their crime jurisdictions. The two notable ones include mad scientist Norton Nimnul and Mafia-style tabby cat called Fat Cat.
6. Rugrats (August 11, 1991 to May 22, 1994)
Rugrats is a cartoon series that centers on a group of toddlers, namely Tommy, Chuckie, Angelica, and twins Phil and Lil, going about their daily adventures. Angelica is the oldest of the four kids, which officially makes her the ultimate bully. She especially delights in bullying her cousin Tommy and his friends, occasionally screaming the phrase “you stupid babies!”
Although Rugrats focuses on the experiences of the five kids, the creators incorporate adults from time to time. But as you might expect in any kid-themed animation, the adults are largely clueless and uninvolved.
Rugrats became such a hit that it received over 20 awards, including 4 Daytime Emmy Awards and 6 Kids’ Choice Awards.
7. The Magic School Bus (September 10, 1994 to May 18, 2021)
The Magic School Bus is a Canadian-American animated kids’ television series adapted from a book series of the same name. It’s another long-running cartoon series on this list. The lead character is one Miss Frizzle, an eccentric school teacher who sets off on amazing educational field adventures with her class on the eponymous school bus.
What begins as regular field excursions turn into exciting adventures as Ms. Frizzle and her class discover enchanting locations, mystic creatures, and interesting time periods. The team ultimately discovers unique ways to learn about the world and solar system.
But The Magic School Bus adventures aren’t without tragic occurrences. One such occurrence is the death of a student named Arnold, when the gang reaches Pluto.
8. Rocket Power (August 16, 1999 to July 30, 2004)
There’s only a handful of successful cartoon series where each of the lead characters comes in with unique traits that blend perfectly into the plot. Rocket Power is one such series.
In this 90s cartoon, we’re introduced to a gang of four young friends. They include Oswald “Otto” Rocket (a perfectionist and vain sports enthusiast), Regina “Reggie” Rocket (Otto’s kindhearted older sister), Sam “Squid” Dullard (a techno whiz kid), and Maurice “Twister” Rodriguez (bubble-headed but passionate videographer).
Rocket Power is set in the fictional beach community of Ocean Shores, California, where the four kids spend much of their time playing extreme sports like surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, biking, etc. Besides their passion for extreme sports, Rocket Power kids also engage their time dealing with ordinary challenges of growing up.
9. Samurai Jack (August 10, 2001 to March 19, 2002)
Samurai Jack may have premiered in August 2001. But the series’ idea was conceived by creator Genndy Tartakovsky as early as 1995, which technically makes it a 90s cartoon.
Samurai Jack chronicles the experiences of an unnamed Samurai (Jack) who hails from a feudal Japan kingdom. Jack’s father defeats and imprisons the kingdom’s archenemy, a shape-shifting demon called Aku. Eight years later, Aku escapes from prison, seizes control of the land, and takes the Emperor hostage. Now, Jack’s mother sends him around the world to train so he can return and defeat Aku using the magic sword.
When Jack returns to face Aku, he almost defeats him. But just before he can land the finishing blow, Aku mysteriously creates a time portal that transports Jack into the dystopian future ruled by Aku himself.
10. Pinky and the Brain (September 9, 1995 to November 14, 1998)
It’s almost impossible to discuss sensational 90s kids cartoons without mentioning Pinky and the Brain. Created by Tom Ruegger, Pinky and the Brain features genetically engineered laboratory mice who live in a cage in the Acme Labs research facility. The two mice aptly fit the description ‘polar opposites’ – Brain is an intelligent but self-centered schemer, whereas Pinky is kind but feeble-minded.
But despite Brain being an astute schemer, his plans of taking over the world frequently end in epic failure. That’s mostly due to his arrogance and overconfidence, coupled with Pinky’s below-par intellect.
Like many science-themed films, Pinky and the Brain also includes episodes where the two mice undergo tremendous genetic alternation which ultimately boost their intelligence over that of typical mice. For instance, the genetic changes make them able to communicate with humans.
There goes our collection of the best 90s cartoons that truly transformed the animation industry.
Feel free to bookmark this list if you’re looking for a cartoon series to binge-watch during the holiday season.