Some familiar faces for those who ran home after school or woke up early every Saturday morning. (Graphics: Ryan Hemsworth)

This generation's cartoons

A dose of cartoon-induced nostalgia for members of Generation Y.

Generation Y-ers (generally those that were born in the 1980s to early-2000s) are members of society that immediately followed those born into Generation X. Although many things can be used to define a generation and bestow character to its identity (such as historical context or zeitgeist), one word surely holds more meaning for Generation Y than for the generations that preceded it: cartoons!


The '80s, in retrospect, was a decade of pop culture excess and gaudy fashion trends that many of us have tried so hard to put behind us (shoulder pads + leg warmers, copious amounts of hair spray, faux-punk aesthetics, neon everything, need I say more?). You could even argue that the only consolation in bringing up the 80s is the hope that people would confuse it with the less cringe-worthy 1880s in a conversation. Thankfully for us 80s kids, there were enough good bits in that shameful decade in human history to make us smile: Mr. T, old-school hip-hop, the Sony walkman, Hulkamania, brother!, the Macintosh, Rubik’s cubes, Bill Murray, the original Nintendo, mullets and yes, awesome cartoons.

Here is our list of 10 decade-redeeming cartoons of the '80s:

  1. Carebears – ♫ "Do the Care Bears countdown… 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!" 
  2. G.I. Joe – "A real American hero!"
  3. Inspector Gadget – “Go, go, Gadget <insert name of gadget here>!”
  4. Masters of the Universe – "By the power of Grayskull…"
  5. The Real Ghostbusters – "Who you gonna call?"
  6. Smurfs - ♫ "lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala..." 
  7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – "Heroes in a half-shell… turtle power!"
  8. Thundercats – "Thunder Thunder Thunder Thundercats!"
  9. Transformers – "More than meets the eye!"
  10. Voltron – "Defender of the universe!"



The '80s were awkward in many ways, but we all need that kind of pubescent transition period. It was as if the world spent that era in junior high school, so it makes sense that the 1990s were closer to the high school experience--a more comfortable and developed era (for most). Technology was starting to figure itself out, though not without its faults (suicidal Tamagotchis, peevish cassette tapes and the--literally--nauseating Virtual Boy 3D console). But progress was being made on many other fronts for kids growing up: the move from hair metal and arena rock to grunge and hip-hop; Commodore 64s to PCs that actually functioned; and fanny packs to the foreshadowing of flannel and slim jeans. As parts of our world matured, so did the little things that helped us develop a sense of humor and an outlook on life, like cartoons.

Here is our list of 10 decade-defining cartoons for the '90s:

  1. Animaniacs - "Bill Clinton plays the sax!"
  2. Batman: The Animated Series - "I am vengeance, I am the night... I am Batman!"
  3. Doug - "Dear journal, hi! It's me, Doug."
  4. Gargoyles - "We are defenders of the night... we are Gargoyles!"
  5. Reboot - "Warning: incoming game."
  6. Recess - "Ten-der..."
  7. Ren & Stimpy - "Stimpy! You eediot!"
  8. Rugrats - "Sometimes a baby's gotta do what a baby's gotta do."
  9. The Simpsons - "Where's the 'any' key...?"
  10. X-Men - "Listen, bub..."



We survived Y2K and opened the new millennium right: a bit of terrorism, a bit of illegal file sharing and lots of trucker hats (although way too much Ja Rule). We fully embraced what might now be considered the new age of information, thanks to huge steps made in computing and the Internet was used (for researching and communicating). It was like we had finally graduated from high school and stepped out into the real world; powerful technology became accessible to everyone, be it the explosion of Google or the birth of Napster. As we continued to develop though, a lot of us were looking back and feeling nostalgic towards the decades we moved away from. Nostalgia is nothing new, but it's been taken to new territory over the past decade (consider the complete rehashing of '80s fashion, from blinding tights to the fit of every type of clothing). Nostalgia has always left a bittersweet taste, none more powerfully than the beloved cartoons we grew up with.

Here is our list of 10 decade-immortalizing cartoons for the '00s:

  1. Aqua Teen Hunger Force - "Number one in the hood, G."
  2. Dexter's Laboratory - "...Dee Dee!!"
  3. Futurama - "Bite my shiny metal ass!"
  4. Johnny Bravo - "Whoa, momma... Hoo-hah!"
  5. King of the Hill - "That boy ain't right..."
  6. Pokemon - "Who's that Pokemon?!"
  7. The Powerpuff Girls - "We're the Powerpuff Girls. We fight crime. That's what we do... Duh."
  8. South Park - "Oh my god! They killed Kenny!"
  9. SpongeBob SquarePants - ♫ "Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?" ♫
  10. Undergrads - "Hey, guy!" 

We asked 20 students from the local universities which cartoons were their favourites, check out the results below.

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The real sign of being a kid raised on cartoons is if you remember watching (and loving) Freakazoid!!

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