I’ve talked a lot about cartoons from the 1980s, but believe it or not, there were actually some decent cartoons that came out of the 1990s. ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX were still putting out a variety of (non-anime/card game-driven) cartoons every Saturday morning and FOX struck gold with their weekly afternoon FOX Kids block.
This list will be skewed towards the early-mid 90s, because that’s when I was still safely in the “it’s okay to watch cartoons” age. By the late 90s, I had to use discretion when it came to watching cartoons. This list is also by no means the ultimate list, but a collection of a lot of ‘toons that come to mind when I think of what I enjoyed watching in the 90s.
Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995, FOX)
One of the greatest animated series ever and it’s mine all mine on DVD. It would later be repackaged as The Adventures of Batman & Robin for the 2nd season. Then, the show was given a slight makeover as The New Batman Adventures (1997-1999) when it made the jump to The WB. Some would argue that’s a totally different series, but it was Volume 4 of the Batman: The Animated Series DVD sets. Nonetheless, the original FOX run was the best and features some of the greatest Batman stories ever told.
Conan the Adventurer (1992-1993, syndication)/Conan and the Young Warriors (1994, CBS)
This was a great show and I think it’s become somewhat of a lost gem. Conan’s always good, right? Conan the Adventurer is the show I’m most familiar with. It was syndicated and aired on the local FOX affiliate right before the FOX Kids block would kick off. After all these years, I still have the awesome theme song stuck in my head.
It’s funny, He-Man was inspired by Conan and here, this version of Conan (kinder, gentler, non-womanizing) is very much a takeoff of He-Man.
Conan and the Young Warriors was a spin off of the Adventurer series that lasted only 13 episodes. The show put Conan in the role of mentor to three youngsters as they attempted to save members of Conan’s family from Sulinara, an evil sorceress. It definitely wasn’t as good as Conan the Adventurer, but still decent for a mid-90s action/adventure cartoon.
King Arthur and the Knights of Justice (1992-1993, syndication)
Another series that I fear has been forgotten, I believe this series usually was paired up with Conan the Adventurer on the local FOX affiliate. It’s King Arthur! How could anyone not be into this?
The series received its own action figure line and I ended up getting Sir Lancelot for Easter. I always wanted King Arthur, but never was able to get anymore figures.
WildC.A.T.S (1994, CBS)
WildC.A.T.S were created by Jim Lee (former X-Men artist) for Image Comics as an imitation of the X-Men. So, of course, once FOX had a major hit on their hands with the X-Men animated series, you knew another network was going to want their own “X-Men”. That leads us to the short-lived WildC.A.T.S series, which wasn’t too bad and I enjoyed the smooth animation style.
The show didn’t take off though, because, who needed an X-Men imitation while the real thing was still around?
Tiny Toon Adventures (1990-1995, FOX)
Absolutely zany show that made me laugh out loud many times. Though, there were skits and characters that absolutely annoyed me. I should probably pick up the DVDs. I loved seeing the younger takeoffs of the WB classic characters. I’d love to see these characters used again.
The show actually inspired one of my first comic book concepts: Bunny Farm. I was a creative lad, wasn’t I?
Skeleton Warriors (1993-1994, CBS)
Another short-lived action/adventure series on CBS Saturday mornings and it was pretty good. There was a big push for the Skeleton Warriors: cartoon, action figures, trading cards and video games but they never really took off, despite some a really cool idea and designs of the characters.
X-Men (1992-1997, FOX)
Another classic animated series. I just recently bought the DVDs and I gotta say the animation isn’t all that great, but I never thought it was even back when the show was airing. And yeah, sometimes the voice action is horrendous, but it’s THE X-MEN and there was just something undeniably cool about seeing the X-Men in their first animated series that stayed true to the comics. Many of these episodes are still logged into my brain and I eagerly bought the comic book based on this series (which, word for word, followed the television episodes) and tried to record every episode on VHS. I gave up after a few weeks when I ran out of tapes!
I can also credit this show as turning me onto the X-Men comic and becoming a hardcore comics fan in general.
Wish Kid (1991, NBC)
Starring Macauly Culkin! What can I say? The show had a fun premise and I was diasppointed it aired for such a short time.
Animaniacs (1993-1998, FOX/The WB)
Now, this show took zaniness to a WHOLE new level. It tried, and succeeded, to one up Tiny Toon Adventures in that department, but I felt the show just wasn’t as good. It certainly had some inspired moments though.
Pokemon (1997-current, syndication/The WB/Cartoon Network)
I’m not gonna lie– I love Pokemon. The games are great RPG fun and the series was too. I don’t watch it anymore (I can’t believe it’s still being produced), but yeah, I got swept up in the Pokemon craze once it hit the U.S.
It originally started out in syndication in America and has since worked its way to Cartoon Network.
The Ren & Stimpy Show (1991-1996, Nickelodeon)
Weird and brilliant show. Powered Toast Man should’ve had a spinoff. That “Adult Cartoon Party” from Spike TV ruined it for me though. And we all know why.
Ultraforce (1995, UPN)
The Ultraforce team was Malibu Comics’ answer to Marvel Comics’ Avengers and DC Comics’ Justice League of America: their heaviest hitters getting together and battling the biggest forces of evil. The show, like all of UPN’s cartoons shows, didn’t last long, but it was fun while it did.