Tune In To Nostalgia Network With 35+ Often-Forgotten Cartoons
If you want to know what nostalgic shows are “trending,” just go to Hot Topic’s website or browse the graphic tees section of any clothing store, and you’ll see shows like Rugrats, Hey Arnold!, and Powerpuff Girls all over the place. Our toddler selves would be devastated to see how many shows aren’t included in the wave of 1990s/2000s cartoons that are popular again in the 2020s.
Saturday morning cartoons would’ve been incomplete with Biker Mice from Mars, and we still remember the lessons learned from Cyberchase.
Get ready for a blast from the past as we go through some of the often-forgotten cartoons that shaped our childhoods. How many did you grow up with? If we’re missing any, let us know!
Max and Ruby
Max, a three-year-old, along with his sister Ruby, a seven-year-old, are the titular bunnies in the 2002 show, Max & Ruby. The show is set in the late 1940s and early 1950s in a world in which most inhabitants are rabbits.
Think of it like a proto-Zootopia. The series is based on a series of children’s books written and illustrated by Rosemary Wells. Wells claims that the show illustrates the bond between Ruby and Max and the universality of family dynamics.
Dr. Luther Paradigm is a gene-splicing fanatic who specializes in working with aquatic creatures. Dr. Robert Bolton transformed his companion into the first creature that was half-human and half-aquatic upon learning about Paradigm’s terrible schemes. If that didn’t sound evil enough, Bolton’s four sons were then abducted.
Their DNA was mixed with that of four distinct sharks. The four siblings are later transformed into four half-human, half-shark beings who use their recently acquired abilities to defend Fission City from the dastardly doings of Dr. Paradigm and his mutated creatures.
Biker Mice from Mars
Throttle, Modo, and Vinnie are three anthropomorphic mice who ride motorcycles in this hardcore cartoon. They first arrive on Earth to protect it against the villainous Plutarkians, who devastated their home world, Mars. Though they live on Earth, the three hope to return to Mars one day.
These mice are kitted-out! Throttle wields a laser’s cestus equipped with a laser gun, Modo’s cybernetic arm includes an integrated blaster, and Vinnie is stocked with flares. Of course, being a ’90s cartoon, there’s never any blood, and the antagonists are mutants, aliens, and machines.
The Mighty Ducks
Depending on who you are, mentioning “The Mighty Ducks” might bring to mind an image of hockey-playing pre-teens, or it might remind you of the after-school cartoon featuring hockey-playing ducks. Well, the first is still alive at Disney Parks in Florida with their Mighty Ducks-themed hotel.
Unlike the live-action film, The Mighty Ducks cartoon features actual ducks. Though they also play hockey, the ducks battle alien baddies instead of worrying about school. At least the showrunners acknowledged that birds came from dinosaurs since the ducks evolved from alien dinosaurs.
Kids shows know how important repetition is, and Franklin shows that with every book and episode starting with the line “could count by twos and tie his shoes.” Franklin centers on a young turtle as he grows up in the town of Woodland.
Young Franklin goes to school with his pals, such as his best friend, Bear, and enjoys sketching, arts and crafts, and swimming. Of course, he’s not alone. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Turtle, are there to support their young one every step of the way.
The World of David the Gnome
Unlike certain myths and legends, the gnomes are shown in this series as a compassionate race. All gnome species are divided into categories based on their habitats: gnomes of the woods, the yard, the farmland, the household, the sands, and Siberia.
The main characters of the show are David the Gnome, his wife Lisa, their children, and Swift the Fox, who is also David’s best friend. The adventures center around David—duh—and his life as a doctor. Aside from treating patients and caring for his family, David also has to watch out for trolls.
I Am Weasel
The main characters of the show are I.M. Weasel, a prosperous, clever, and honorable weasel, I.R. Baboon, a rude, ignorant baboon who’s really jealous of Weasel and serves as both his opponent and ally, and the cheeky Red Man, who frequently picks fights with the two.
I.M. Weasel, who was originally portrayed as an unbeatable hero, eventually loses prominence in favor of I.R. Baboon as the series continues. I Am Weasel‘s constant wackiness and farcical humor, performed by the craziest characters, made it a timeless classic.
The Wild Thornberrys
The Thornberry household consists of the renowned British nature documentary TV personality Nigel, his spouse Marianne, the rebellious teenage daughter Debbie, their youngest child Eliza, their adoptive child Donnie, and a chimpanzee called Darwin. Oh, how we wished we had Eliza’s power to talk to animals.
We bet there was a spike in kids wanting to be vets or wildlife explorers while the show was still running. And we didn’t appreciate this as kids, but now we can’t get over the fact that Nigel was voiced by none other than the great Tim Curry!
Adventures of the Gummi Bears
Disney is synonymous with cartoons for kids, but it wasn’t always a big name for cartoon television programs. It wasn’t until the late 1980s that Disney branched out into TV. They came out swinging with two shows simultaneously, The Wuzzles and Adventures of the Gummi Bears.
The story focuses on a group of bears that once cohabited with mankind but lost touch over hundreds of years before being discovered in the present era. Surprisingly, the show based on animated versions of a chewy candy lasted six years!
SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron
This television show is set in the made-up city of Megakat City, which itself is exclusively inhabited by “kats,” or humanoid felines. The SWAT Kats was two rogue pilots that fly a cutting-edge jet fighter equipped with a variety of weapons.
They compete with the Enforcers, Megakat City’s militaristic law enforcement agency, and a number of different adversaries all through the series. The largest of the two, T-Bone, is a very skilled pilot in the SWAT Kat world. Razor is smaller but by no less meek. He’s a technical genius.
This series follows a group of six 16-year-old friends as they engage in popular and stereotypical adolescent antics, such as getting their first job, flirting, going on dates, opening their first savings accounts, and getting a tantalizing taste of independence.
The majority of the show is set in The Galleria Mall, a megaplex shopping center that resembles both the Toronto Eaton Centre and the West Edmonton Mall. Owing to the strong language, intimate scenes, and daring acts, the Canadian program is rated TV-PG.
Sagwa the Chinese Siamese Cat
Being a member of a royal bloodline of cats with the capacity for writing using their tails, Sagwa lives in the castle of a magistrate within China’s Fujian province. The series is thought to represent the period between 1895-1912—not an ordinary setting for a kid’s cartoon.
However, as is the case with many of these children’s shows, Sagwa and her family go on escapades with different cats, Fu-Fu the bat, and other characters. But, the production’s presentation of numerous aspects of Chinese society makes it stand out in one particular way.
Gargoyles was about, well, gargoyles. The 1994 cartoon followed the story of gargoyle sculptures that come to life and guard their city even at nightfall. It had three seasons (78 episodes), but it lived on in various comic adaptations and toys.
Shakespearean motifs and a fairly somber tone were prominent in Gargoyles, which was also known for its drama and intricate storylines. We’re not always a fan of reboots, but we hope this show makes a comeback. There are reports that Jordan Peele plans to produce a live-action remake of the beloved ’90s cartoon.
Life With Louie
The actor and stand-up comedian Louie Anderson co-created the American cartoon Life With Louie. It is partly based on his early years, hence being set in Wisconsin in the 1960s. 8-year-old Louie Anderson lives with his mom and dad, Orna and Andy, and numerous sisters and brothers.
World War II veteran Andy is a nervous, domineering person, but he still cares deeply for his family. We accompany Louie’s journeys and daily activities, which are rather typical and straightforward—eating, napping, watching Television, and developing an infatuation with a classmate.
Dave the Barbarian
A mighty yet fearful barbarian named Dave, together with his elder sister Candy and younger sister Fang, reside in the made-up country of Udrogoth. Although Dave is expected to protect the kingdom, his folks, Throktar and Glimia, are away “trying to rid evil.”
These two travel throughout the globe. In their absence, they have placed their eldest child Candy in command of the realm as Princess Regent. The three siblings are left to manage and safeguard the realm together with their “wizard” uncle Oswidge.
The plot centers on the exploits of two siblings, Emmy and Max. When they first move into their new home, they discover a mystical dragon scale that, when used in conjunction with a unique rhyme inscribed on its box, may instantly transfer visitors to the Dragon Land.
It’s a delightful fantasy place where vibrant dragons live. They are welcomed by four benevolent dragons with individual personalities: the strong, fearsome Ord; the quiet, kind-hearted Cassie; and the diametrically opposed Zak and Wheezie. And let’s not forget the “Dragon Tunes” interlude between each story.
The ChalkZone is a realm that’s home to everything ever erased from a chalkboard. The story starts when the protagonist, Rudy Tabootie, is stuck in detention and finds a piece of magic “White Lightnin'” chalk. With the chalk, he can travel to the ChalkZone.
Snap, a witty superhero Rudy once made using that chalk, and Penny Sanchez, a close friend and stellar student, accompany Rudy on his travels. After watching this show, we gave our chalk drawing much more consideration. What if they did become real and we just didn’t know it?
The series centers around three humanoid feline siblings. When their rich mistress Edna Cramdilly passed away, she left them her riches, a terrifying, gigantic monster truck called Gear, and a respectable butler called Hovis. The show frequently details their affluent lives and exciting, occasionally spooky, adventures.
The Chumpy Chump Brothers, the cats’ fierce adversaries, and Gordon’s charming, youthful neighbor, Kimberly, represent a few other personalities. The aforementioned monster truck earns its name from the inspiration, a comic book series (of the same name) by the show’s creator, Doug TenNapel.
The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest
This cartoon show happens is a 1996 follow-up to the hugely popular 1960s Hanna-Barbera animated series. It follows the same basic plot as the earlier iterations back in the ’60s: a teenage lad called Jonny Quest explores the globe alongside his family.
They look into strange occurrences they come across, though they occasionally make house calls. And with that simple presence, the adventure ensues. The show earned favorable reviews from both viewers and critics, and it even developed a sizable online fanbase.
The program centers on the exploits of the Road Rovers, a group of five cano-sapiens—super-powered humanoid dogs—who battle evil. Each of these dogs are live it up in the households of various world leaders, including those for the United States, the UK, Germany, and Switzerland.
There’s also a dog who calls the Kremlin his home. Warner Bros. claims that Road Rovers was a successful show, ranking as the second highest-rated animation on Kids WB, only after Superman: The Animated Series. However, the program was unexpectedly terminated for a number of reasons.
Maya and Miguel
This centers on the lives of pre-teen Hispanic siblings named Maya and Miguel Santos plus their friends. Promoting both diversity and learning, the series switches between English and Spanish at certain points. It was like Dora, but with less shouting at the TV.
With a focus on the Latino community specifically, the program portrays education as enjoyable, worthwhile, and beneficial for all kids. As with many shows of this type, episodes often center on Maya’s well-intentioned interference in the situations of her friends and family, which eventually lead to the creation of new problems.
Big City is home to anthropomorphic animals, mythical entities, and humanoids. A blue anthropomorphic cephalopod named Oswald is the star of the show alongside his dog, Weenie. They go about their everyday lives in the upbeat and imaginatively created neighborhood of Big City.
Typically, the show focuses on Oswald’s relationships with family, colleagues, and neighbors. Notable figures are Daisy, a flower, and Henry, a penguin, among many others. Also, it shows Oswald’s patient ways of handling or accepting various issues and difficulties, as well as his utterly upbeat attitude toward life.
Seven Little Monsters
Yet another show to come from a children’s book, Seven Little Monsters centers around seven monster siblings, all numbered one through seven, and their loving mother. If the characters look familiar, but you’ve never seen the show, we know why.
Maurice Sendak wrote and illustrated the original book in 1977, but fourteen years before, he wrote and illustrated the childhood classic, Where The Wild Things Are. Now we want to rewatch Seven Little Monsters just to relive that childhood magic.
We would never have thought of crime thrillers and mafias as good topics for kid’s shows, but that’s exactly what Dog City was. The show centered around a German Shepherd, Ace Yu, who inherited his uncle’s bar/restaurant after the latter passed away.
Things escalate when criminal syndicate leader Bugsy Them, a fearsome bulldog, pressures Ace Yu for “protection fees.” But drama unfolds when it’s revealed that, not only was Uncle Henry Ace Yu’s dad, but Bugsy Them was responsible for his murder.
We’ve seen a variety of animation styles, but few are as simplistic as Maisy. And, more than that, there are no actual voices for the characters. The show centers on the life of Maisy Mouse and her companions, all told through the voice of a narrator.
The characters act as though they’re in elementary school, and it’s up to the narrator to tell us what their animalistic noises mean. But with the magic of television, the unnamed voice can easily understand what the young ones are saying and doing.
Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm
That’s right; there was a Mortal Kombat TV show! This story centers on the fighters that Raiden gathered to protect Earthrealm from invaders. These invaders come through gateways from several other realities. The gathering fighters comprised Liu Kang, Jax, Sonya Blade, Kurtis Stryker, Kitana, and Sub-Zero. Nightwolf worked largely as technical support.
Though he did join the fights on more than one occasion. The fighters could fly dragon-shaped aircraft to deal with disruptions from a secret base while Nightwolf and Rayden kept watch on gateway breaches. Shao Kahn served as a series antagonist in a certain sense.
Three Earthborn kids named Jackie, Matt, and Inez are the show’s main characters. They are transported to the digital realm known as Cyberspace in order to safeguard the earth from the villainous Hacker. They can stop evil hackers from seizing cyberspace.
They manage this by using their problem-solving abilities along with fundamental mathematics, earth sciences, and health knowledge. They encounter Digit, a “cybird” who aids them in their operations, in cyberspace. Cyberchase is undoubtedly one of the best original sci-fi kid’s series available.
The show centers on Max, a daring youngster who acquires a little bird figurine engraved with Egyptian hieroglyphs in the post. It has the translation: “You have been selected to carry the cap. Mighty Max, head to the mini-mart and wait for a signal.”
Max is startled by the statement and drops the figurine, breaking it open to expose a red ball cap with a yellow “M” on it, which he sports. Max may jump through the cap’s wormhole-like “portals,” which he can utilize to travel across time and space.
Each episode opens with Earthworm Jim and Peter Puppy facing danger, with little explanation as to how they got there or the way it relates to the main storyline or previous installments. But that doesn’t spoil the fun; after all, the shenanigans are half the adventure!
There’s also a brief side tale that occurs between every chapter, usually involving the baddies acting more naturally without Jim’s interference. Every episode ends with Jim or any additional figure being trampled by a cow as a nod to the final scene of the original game.
My Life as a Teenage Robot
The story centers around XJ-9, also known as Jenny Wakeman, a cutting-edge conscious automaton girl built by her mom Dr. Nora Wakeman, an aging robotics scientist. Jenny isn’t just a girl; she’s Earth’s defender. The show starts five years after Jenny was built.
She is equipped to the hilt with a large variety of equipment and weapons, yet all she truly desires is to maintain the lifestyle of a typical teenager. Its themes emphasize a playful take on common teenage concerns, as well as other cliches and teenage and heroic life drama.
The Pirates of the Dark Water
Mer is an exotic planet where environmental darkness has taken control. One parentless prince of a once-great empire, the last person in his line, a veteran pirate for whom the fascination with riches conceals a golden soul and a strange eco-mancer.
The eco-mancer had access to a domain that goes beyond mortal men… and whatever a monkey-bird is. These were the only thing that might halt the intruding desolation as well as the brutal pirate leader who was trying to rule it.
The cartoonish, preteen co-hosts of KaBlam! were Henry and June. They flip through the pages of a comic, whose theme changes with each show, to unveil the next part and get embroiled with their own side stories. Other figures from these plotlines sometimes make an appearance later on.
Most prominent among them was Mr. Foot, a gigantic Sasquatch who is employed as a stagehand. We adored this series’ wonderful quirkiness and eccentric elements! It lasted four seasons, but the style still remains today in other shows and comics.
Every episode of this show places Stanley in a circumstance that he cannot fully comprehend. Prior to consulting his computer or even the extremely comprehensive kid’s zoology book, The Great Big Book of Everything, he talks about the subject with his beloved goldfish Dennis.
Stanley learns to handle the scenario independently by studying how an animal responds to a comparable predicament as he does. It covers a wide range of topics that preschoolers confront, such as change, development, following rules, and interacting with one another.
PB & J Otter
The Otter family, who dwells in the little fishing town of Lake Hoohaw, serve as the show’s main characters. The majority of the tales revolve around the Otter children: older brother Peanut, younger sister Jelly, as well as diapered Baby Butter (called after the PB&J sandwiches).
But one family does not a town make. Other characters included snide Cranes, excessively clean Raccoons, a Mayor who collected trash, as well as some extremely wealthy Poodles. You are double-dare to think of another famous set of siblings than Peanut, Butter, and Jelly!
Due to George’s diminutive size, simple tasks like tidying up or playing outdoors become exciting experiences. His Zoopercar, a little multifunctional car he and his father developed that has the ability to change into a submersible, aircraft, or helicopter, serves as his main source of transportation.
All through the series, George frequently has amusing interactions with animals who, despite not speaking, seem to have the ability to converse with him. The program depicts his life as he journeys through his interesting adventures alongside his friends and family.
The show centers on the exploits of a Guardian called Bob and his allies Enzo and Dot Matrix. They attempt to protect Mainframe’s computer network from viruses called Megabyte and Hexadecimal. The action takes place inside the Mainframe, as it is called to those who live there.
It was selected purposefully because of the available technology, which enabled mechanical animations and blocky-looking representations in the fictitious world of computers. This show, which was CGI-animated and packed with adrenaline, had a ton of adventures. Yeah, and interesting protagonists as well!
Liberty’s Kids is really the best adolescent TV show ever produced. The notion that every episode serves as a stand-alone historical lecture on America doesn’t lessen its entertaining appeal. Getting kids to listen in class is hard, but that doesn’t mean they’re not eager to learn—as this show proved.
Events such as the Boston Tea Party as well as the Battle of Bunker Hill are seen from the viewpoints of three ordinary children named James, Sarah, and Henri. It was like a child-friendly version of Cliffnotes for kids who slept during history class.
The Savage Dragon
Savage Dragon is a superhero/alien/police officer with green skin. He possesses bullet-resistant skin, regeneration abilities, immunity from fire, and great strength. And, like many classic alien superhero stories, he has amnesia, and not much is known other than his firey entry into our atmosphere.
Because of the amnesia, his first memory is of waking up in a field in Chicago, Illinois, that was on fire. The Savage Dragon comic book series served as the inspiration for the cartoon series, and the final product was pretty loyal to the original plot.
Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars
Bucky O’Hare fights toads in outer space! Sounds awesome, right? Notably, the majority of the plot points from the comic have been adapted for the cartoon. Although there were a few significant changes: the parallel universe the tale takes place in is called the “Aniverse.”
The character Willy DuWitt can easily journey between Earth and the Aniverse. Instead of getting stuck there, Bruce is transferred into some other dimension. The Toad Empire has been voluntarily pursuing KOMPLEX rather than being indoctrinated. You see where we’re going with this, right?
Rolie Polie Olie
The Polie family, who reside in a teapot-shaped home on the geometrical planet Planet Polie, is the subject of the show. The plots center on a little robot called Olie who grows up and embarks on absurd experiences while gaining valuable lessons.
His little sister Zowie, his inventor father, his hard-working mother, his fun-loving grandfather Pappy, and his dog Spot frequently make appearances throughout the show. Though the plot wasn’t anything unique, the character design certainly was. Who could forget those spherical robots?
Maggie and the Ferocious Beast
5-year-old Maggie draws her own chart of the fictional Nowhere Land, which actually leads the young protagonists nowhere. She fantasizes that Hamilton Hocks and Beast are her closest friends. These two frequently accompany her on her adventures in Nowhere Land.
The party’s leader, Maggie, is constantly available to serve as her devoted friends’ sympathetic voice of reason. She will lead you on a huge number of enjoyable excursions in a fantastical setting. It is an absolutely lovely and enjoyable cartoon.
Talpa, the Netherworld’s demonic ruler and head of The Dynasty, is hell-bent on destroying the human realm. The five Ronin Warriors, each with magical armor and weaponry, are battling Talpa as well as his four Dark Warlords. The nine pieces of armor can be quickly donned.
To do that, they have to shout the name of such armor as well as the Confucian virtue that goes with it. All of the nine pieces of armor possess various specific abilities. They are helped by The Ancient, a strange monk, and Mia Koji, a teenage student-teacher.
This is one of the purest cartoons ever. Little Bear and his companions Emily, Duck, Hen, Cat, and Owl embark on thrilling experiences and find out what’s new in this cartoon, which takes place in the North American wilderness at the end of the nineteenth century.
Little Bear is cared for by Mother Bear, a housewife, whereas Father Bear, a fisherman, is normally out fishing on his ship. Once again, this cartoon is based on a children’s book. And, it seems like Maurice Sendak’s books are ripe for adaptations, since he illustrated the original book.
Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends
CalkZone wasn’t the only show to focus on childrens’ forgotten creations. The eponymous institution is a safe haven for abandoned imaginary friends, and since it’s a foster home, all its residents are up for adoption. The series revolved around 8-year-old Mac and his imaginary best friend, Bloo.
The Cartoon Network series was the first of its kind in terms of animation, as it was the first show on the network to be created mostly with Adobe Flash. Overall, the show was a delight, with its wacky characters born from childrens’ wild imaginations.
Codename: Kids Next Door
Hidden among the educational shows—both implicitly and explicitly educational—were series about rebellious kids. Showrunners from all networks knew that sometimes pre-teens just wanted to watch what a life without adults would look like, and Codename: Kids Next Door did just that.
In the series, there’s a global organization of kids, named Kids Next Door, that fight against injustice against kids—such as forced flossing. The broad cast of characters from different backgrounds allowed viewers to see themselves as part of Section V.