12 Cartoons From The 1980s No One Will Ever Have Nostalgia For

12 Cartoons From The 1980s No One Will Ever Have Nostalgia For

The ’80s were the heyday of children’s animation, when weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings were packed full of cartoons. Some were great; some were just ok, and some were unbearably wretched. Here are a dozen ’80s cartoons that don’t deserve to be remembered at all, let alone fondly.

1) Kissyfur

When a circus train derails, two performing bears escape into the swamp of Paddlecab County. Somehow, the father bear Gus has the idea to start a paddlecab company and, with his son Kissyfur, creates a business transporting other animals around the river — that is, with the exception of alligators, because alligators are evil predators while bears are gentle and noble protectors of the… swamps. Two thoughts: 1) How many other animals and circus folk died in the train wreck at the beginning of the opening? 2) Kissyfur sounds a lot like Lucifer. Just sayin’. (1986-90)

2) Potato Head Kids

I imagine many kids would find it hard to believe, but prior to the Toy Story movies, Mr. Potato Head was not the 15th or so best-loved character from a major Pixar franchise. Actually, he had no character or cultural cache at all, other than being one of those toys every kid has but no one ever plays with. Which is why Hasbro’s decision to make a cartoon about Mr. Potato Head is so baffling, albeit not as baffling as why they decided to have the show focus on his non-existent children instead of himself. As you can tell from the opening title, the Potato Head Kids like having fun, which includes going to Potato Church and driving in cars with an unsecured potato baby. (1986-87)

3) Beverly Hills Teens

Proving that there’s always a market for entertainment based on watching young, insanely rich people be awful, Beverly Hills Teens was about — wait for it — teens in Beverly Hills without any problems except the ones they generate for themselves. According to Wikipedia, “Beverly Hills Teens was touted by producers as a response to the more violent series aimed at children” and “would provide ‘wholesome role models for kids'”, those role models of course exemplifying the noble values of being stupid rich and mostly white. Also, I’m pretty sure that one computer nerd kid with the glasses built himself a sex ‘bot, right? (1987)

4) Rude Dog and the Dweebs

You know when you make a cartoon based on the mascot of a semi-popular surfing and skateboarding-centric clothing line, you’re going to get something special, and of course when I say “special” I mean “an animated atrocity.” I defy you to watch the above cartoon intro and not become filled with rage. Rude Dog is a dog who glorifies rudeness, as if being rude is cool and not something an arsehole does; he also hangs out with the Dweebs, a pack of dogs who help him run his presumably “rude” delivery business. If you want to be really sad, track down one of the episodes and listen to the Dweebs, whose voices include Peter Cullen and Frank Welker, best known as the voices of Optimus Prime and Megatron from Transformers. Warning: Once you hear them as Dweebs, you can never unhear them. (1989)

5) MoonDreamers

Another cartoon paired with the original My Little Pony cartoon series, based on a none-too-popular Hasbro doll line, the MoonDreamers spent all their time sneaking into kids’ bedrooms and helping them have nice dreams, while the evil Queen Scowlene tried to make the kids have nightmares. So yeah, pretty high stakes stuff. Literally the only notable thing about this show is in the theme song, where it sounds like the pink-haired girl at 10 seconds in is singing “Making your sweet-arse dreams come true!” (1986-87)

6) Denver the Last Dinosaur

Jesus. It’s a dinosaur wearing sunglasses who skateboards and plays an electric guitar. It’s The Simpsons‘ Poochie before Poochie ever existed. It’s a cartoon about coolness and friendship created by a marketing committee of old white men who had never experienced either of them before. Apparently Denver — and man, what a cool name for a dinosaur, the capitol of Colorado is the bomb, yo — can use parts of his shell to travel in time because no one working on any level of this show gave the tiniest shit about it. And that’s cool! (1988)

7) Dink, the Little Dinosaur

For those who felt Denver’s high-octane lifestyle was just too much for them, Dink was ready to accept you. Dink wasn’t part of today’s fast-paced world, but instead lived in the bucolic Jurassic era, where all the dinosaurs hung out two feet apart from each other in complete peace and friendship except for when they went on waterslides together and abused elderly turtles. (1989-90)

8) Rubik the Amazing Cube

Was it hubris, stupidity, or just plain apathy that led animation studio Ruby Spears to try to make a show out of the personality-less plastic block known as the Rubik’s Cube? We may never know. We do know, thanks to archival footage, that the cartoon was terrible even beyond the fact that it was about a toy puzzle that gained magic powers and grew a creepy blue baby head when solved. I guarantee the Rubik cartoon made more people throw their Cubes in the trash than it inspired to buy one. (1983-84)

9) Ghostbusters

Have you ever wondered why the cartoon based on the Ghostbusters movie was called The Real Ghostbusters instead of just Ghostbusters? You can blame this cartoon. When the movie became a hit, Filmation grabbed the rights to the 1970s live-action Ghost Busters TV show and put an extremely loose cartoon adaptation of it on the air, which bore the technically legal name of Ghostbusters. (This was done before the movie people could get their animated spin-off ducks in a row, obviously.) Filmation was more than willing to trick kids into thinking they were about to watch Venkman, Spengler, Stantz and Zeddemore bust ghosts, only to find out the show was actually two unknown dipshits and an ape wearing a fedora run around like idiots. It made us bitter then, and, to the extent that we think about it at all, it makes us bitter now. (1986)

10) Paw Paws

I am going to assume the entire world has forgotten about Paw Paws, because otherwise I think we would still be talking about how weird and it is that someone made a cartoon about a group of bear cubs embodying Native American stereotypes. Inspired the immense amounts of cash The Smurfs was generating, Hanna-Barbara somehow decided what kids really wanted was a bunch of bears with names like Brave Paw and Laughing Paw, who lived in teepees (and pueblos, somehow) and had a magic totem pole that came to life whenever the village was under attack by the evil but incompetent magician Dark Paw. Obviously, Hanna-Barbera was wrong. And kind of racist. (1985-86)

11) Popeye and Son

In the heyday of the ’80s, animation studios would make a cartoon about anything. They made cartoons based on live-action shows like Mork & Mindy and Laverne & Shirley, for goodness sake. And they also made shows about established characters suddenly with children, or sometimes as children, such as Muppet Babies and Flintstone Kids. Now, all of those surely have at least someone who thinks of them fondly — I mean, there’s got to be a die-hard Laverne & Shirley fan who appreciates the animated extension of the Laverne & Shirley-verse — but no one loves Popeye and Son. Why? Because it took away Popeye’s most (and arguably only) defining characteristic — his propensity for incredible violence. Neither Popeye, nor Bluto, nor their shitty kids ever punched each other in this show. Seriously, if Popeye can’t hit anybody, what’s the goddamned point of making a Popeye cartoon at all? (1987)

12) Foofur

This is a show about a blue dog who has inherited a house and the real estate agent who would like to sell the house, but has to get rid of the dog and his canine friends. It’s a cartoon about dog eviction. And someone had the gall to claim this was “cool.” FOR FUCK’S SAKE HE ONLY RODE THE SKATEBOARD BECAUSE HE ACCIDENTALLY STEPPED ON IT. (1986-88)


  • Great. Now I’m going to have the Denver The Last Dinosaur theme stuck in my head all afternoon.

      • Morphine makes the holy known… Uncle. Lina! Eyein’ up, down that sappy nun! Uncle. Lina! I’m going to stroke it; Your arms are broken! Uncut! Woo-hoo!

    • This is the reason we got the “REAL” Ghostbusters.
      This one with the Gorilla is based on a 70s sitcom that ran for 1 season, solely licensed by Filmation in order to get a Ghostbusters cartoon on before the one based on the movie.
      If I am remembering correctly, this was on ABC in the 80s here, part of “The Afternoon Show” block.

      • Filmation always had the rights, from when they did cheap shows instead of cheap cartoons. Their cartoon only came about when talks with Columbia to do the movie spin-off series fell through.

    • I myself have a soft spot for it. It was the first cartoon I ever watched when we got Cable after years of begging. My young mind was all like “so this is what kids with cable get to watch!!”, assigning it more value than it merited.

      Theme song is super catchy, too.

  • I remember the ghostbusters cartoon. Grew up in Shepparton and Glenn Ridge hosted the Saturday morning cartoons before he went on to Sale of the Century.
    Other honourable mentions could be:
    Gummi Bears

    Bring back Battle of the Planets/Gatchaman!!!

  • I liked Ghostbusters when I was a kid. But then again I watched the Punky Brewster animated series as a kid, so what did I know?

  • I’ll just say it – I much preferred Ghostbusters With An Ape & Timetravel to Slimer Presents The Real Slimers, Starring Slimer. “On today’s episode, Slimer does something stupid… oh, and these painfully off-model versions of the team might get a line or two.”

  • I was all ready to get fired up and defend a few of these…but, I got nothin’

    Good job, sir.


    Why is it nobody ever whines about the nostalgia value of the new Red Dead trailer?

    Never mind it’s been however many years since the last game, there’s got to be somebody else who sees the disparity between going crazy for something like Rogue One yet casting aspersions at something else for doing the exact same thing.

    I suppose we should close the Sistine Chapel or the Taj Mahal, nostalgia is over-rated and has no place in today’s modern culture right?

    Awww you picked the wrong Ghost-busting crew to mess with. And as others have said, don’t mess with Denver. He won’t just go medieval, he’ll go prehistoric on your FACE.

    I didn’t have any nostalgia for the point I was making so there isn’t one…..

  • Just wow. I forgot Denver the Last Dinosaur was ever a thing but as soon as I read the title I could hear the theme song in my head!

  • I was gonna watch the episode of Dink, the little dinosaur but i was too afraid when i saw it was titled Tricera-scat.

  • Wow. I’d completely repressed my memories of most of these. I think I watched the most of them at some point, usually ridiculously early in the morning before my parents had gotten out of bed.

    I used to hire Dink over and over from the video store when I was very small.

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