With many of the more popular cartoons from our childhoods being given a new coat of paint, it’s hard not to look back at some of the shows that we watched growing up. While most of them are familiar to us, some are even familiar to our kids. Here are a few cartoons from the 80’s and 90’s that flew under the radar for most people, but developed cult followings by people who were lucky enough to catch them in their prime (assuming they even had a prime).
Young Dexter Douglas gains superpowers when he is mysteriously warped into the internet from his computer monitor. What follows, is a ridiculous parody of the superhero genre, and an unlikely superhero comedy that only ran for two seasons.
Freakazoid becomes more of an alter ego or split personality of Dexter, as he spends most of his time in Freakazoid form causing more chaos and confusion than fighting crime or saving anyone. Freakazoid does do battle against evil super-villains during the show, but these villains are often unfocused and usually don’t even know they are being threatened. Freakazoid episodes range from weird to borderline nuts, so it’s a show worth checking out if you’re looking to introduce your kids to a little nuttiness in their usual diet of superhero cartoons. With the creative minds of Paul Dini and Bruce Timm at the helm, this show is definitely worth checking out.
On the other end of the superhero spectrum, The Tick is a show written about a superhero who is practically invulnerable, and can do just about anything. It’s a parody of a different kind as the Tick is literally a paragon of superhero-ness. He’s constantly as nice as possible, always tries to do what is right (even if it’s not the best solution), and stands up for the side of good, to a fault. The Tick wears a bright blue latex bodysuit with antennae on his head, and uses obscure catchphrases like, “Spoooon!” before heading into battle against evil. The Tick has a lot of obtuse humor in it, and Tick himself is anything but your standard superhero. It’s worth watching just for the laughs, and how outlandish the show was.
The Pirates of Dark Water
Pirates takes place on an alien planet known as Mer, which isn’t much different from Earth, save for the fact that most of it is covered in water, and most land masses are small islands. The planet itself is being threatened by Dark Water, and the only solution is for someone to find the lost Thirteen Treasures of Rule. A prince named Ren leads the cast of the show, though he plays the unwilling hero of destiny part early on. Ren captains a ship to find these lost treasures, but he is pursued by the evil pirate Bloth. The Pirates of Dark Water was cancelled before it’s second season, which is unfortunate, because the Dark Water had covered half of the world by that time. It had an interesting premise, and was fun to watch, so if your kids are excited by pirates and adventuring, give Dark Water a shot.
Biker Mice From Mars
If your kids are more into science-fiction, then Biker Mice From mars might be right up their alley. The series covers a group of three anthropomorphic mice named Throttle, Modo, and Vinnie, as they flee to Earth to escape a war on their home planet of Mars. Earth is being threatened by an alien CEO named Lawrence Limburger, who tries to sap Earth of its natural resources for his corporation. While the Biker Mice are often fighting, there are very few instances of violence, making it acceptable for children to watch. There is a gratuitous amount of references in the show to biker culture, but they’re often more humorous than intended.
If you’re looking for more old cartoons to dig up and show your kids, you can dig even further into the vault of obscurity. There are more great cartoons form the ’80s and ’90s than can be addressed in one article, including shows like Bravestar, C.O.P.S., Gargoyles, Silverhawks, M.A.S.K. and more. Some of the best shows have the most ridiculous premises, like Samurai Pizza Cats or Street Sharks. Many of these shows are comedy gold, so give them a try if you’re not impressed with the cartoons that are available today.