Ah, the 90s. The time of magic. The time before the internet. The time before our periods became shorter than our tempers.
Looking back, one realizes there’s much more to 90s nostalgia than just a millennial fever dream. The 90s was a unique time in history – humanity was at the very precipice of the digital revolution; society had progressed drastically over the second half of the 20th century, minus the maliciousness that the digital revolution eventually introduced to our lives. Moreover, at least in India, television was at its absolute peak in the 90s – this was the time before Ekta Kapoor entered the chat.
Parallelly, we kids had the fortune of watching some of the best-animated shows, thanks to Cartoon Network. The channel ran some golden content – and trust me, Chhota Bheem got nothing on Courage the Cowardly Dog. With that, we bring you some of the most loved 90s cartoons that’ll take you back in time.
Probably one of our most favorite 90s cartoons growing up, Pokémon chronicled the story of a boy named Ash Ketchum, who set out on a journey to acquire and train the best of Pokémons – fictional creatures inspired by actual animals, plants, mythical creatures, and inanimate objects. While we spent our childhoods collecting hundreds of Pokémon cards, we now run around trying to find an incredibly exotic Pokémon on Pokémon Go. Some things never change!
Popeye the Sailor
Not only was Popeye the strongest and bravest sailor around, but he was also the brand ambassador of eating spinach in every household with a child. So while Popeye would get his energy from eating cans of spinach, we’d get ours trying to run away from it.
The Jetsons lived in the sky, had flying cars, and wore funky goggles and shiny clothes because, for some reason, everyone imagines fashion in the future to be inspired by tin foil even though it has remained more or less the same for several centuries now. But, questionable style aside, didn’t we all get a kick out of imagining what things would look like in the future, thanks to The Jetsons?
And while The Jetsons made us think of the Future, The Flintstones made us look back in the past. If you did not believe that our ancestors drove around cars made of stones, you had a Flintstones-free childhood.
Before we watched F.R.I.E.N.D.S, we were all hooked on Disney’s Recess that followed a group of school-going children and their exploits during an hour-long recess. And boy, oh boy, did shows like these make us expect WAY too much out of our school lives!
The Jungle Book
I’m not sure about you, but my childhood is 100% incomplete without “Jungle Jungle baat chali hai pata chala hai…” playing somewhere in the background. The Jungle Book was one of the most addictive 90s cartoons we had back in the day, and despite looking dated even by the 90s standards, didn’t we all love following Mowgli’s adventures every evening?
Tom and Jerry
There’s nothing that says more 90s childhood than Tom and Jerry. We’ve all watched it at some point or another, and there’s not a single 90s kid who hasn’t been charmed by the shenanigans of this mouse and cat duo. But, man, wouldn’t you re-watch all of the thousands of episodes in a heartbeat?
The Powerpuff Girls
If it weren’t for sugar, spice, everything excellent, and a catastrophic lab accident involving chemical X, we wouldn’t have The Powerpuff Girls. Now that’s a world you wouldn’t want to live in.
Was it just me, or did anyone else feel the burning urge to punch Dede in the throat while watching Dexter’s Laboratory? As annoying as Dexter’s sister as if it weren’t for her, Dexter’s Laboratory would be all about a child scientist who makes things, and nothing happens. So let’s take this moment to thank Dede for her service.
Johnny Bravo may be remembered as a philandering, arrogant, self-centered jerk who only cared about himself – but in retrospect, Johnny Bravo was all about self-love before it was cool to be all about self-love. So here’s to being a trendsetter.
Was I the only person convinced as a child that Professor Utonium, the father of the Powerpuff Girls trio, is double-timed as Samurai Jack because of look at the similarities! So either Professor has some explaining to do, or the folks at Cartoon Network were just out of character ideas.
Dragon Ball Z
If any of you 90s babies tells me they weren’t at one point slightly obsessed with Dragon Ball Z; you be lyin’. Dragon Ball Z was a bit of a phenomenon back in the day, inspiring not just card games and video games, but even some delicious snacks!
Who else remembers just sitting back and letting Looney Tunes do its thing and throw at us whatever they had planned for the day? This, along with Baby Looney Tunes (because goddammit, they looked so much cuter as babies), was one of my favorite 90s cartoons to enjoy on a carefree weekday afternoon.
The Scooby-Doo Show
Didn’t we all feel a little like a detective ourselves while watching this evergreen show, thinking, “Huh, these criminals are getting dumber every day?” And we’d all have had dreary, boring childhoods if it weren’t for these meddling kids and their anthropomorphic dog.
Before Hugh Jackman was (perfectly) cast to play the Wolverine in X-Men (2000), we had our own thing going with the animated series being a favorite among kids and comic enthusiasts. It is no secret that not all superhero cartoon adaptations hit the right spot, but X-Men was one of the rare few that got it all right!
Courage the Cowardly Dog
Before moving on to Aahat and Raaz, we all had our introductory rendezvous with horror with Courage The Cowardly Dog, which follows the story of a dog adopted by an elderly couple who’s visited by all kinds of weird creatures – be it swamp monsters or aliens. If you thought this wasn’t that scary, you’d be surprised to know that this show was banned in several countries because it gave children nightmares.
To say that DuckTales probably inspired an entire generation of chartered accountants and investment bankers would not be untrue. Following Scrooge McDuck and his three nephews’ money-related adventures, DuckTales was one of our favorite 90s cartoons to watch!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
One of the most popular animated shows in the history of television that inspired numerous remakes, movies, merchandise, and a loyal fan club, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, was one of the longest-running 90s cartoons, following a group of mutant Ninja turtles that fight several villains in New York City.
While most Disney Princess movies end with a “happily ever after” that doesn’t answer most of the burning questions viewers have about the happy couple, Disney made a whole series about Aladdin and Princess Jasmine a year after the movie. And for that, we should be thankful because if it weren’t for this, we’d all miss out on having Shankar Mahadevan singing “Arabian Nights” seared into our brains.
Captain Planet and The Planeteers
Honest to God, one of the highlights of my childhood was waking up early enough in the day (just before I went off to school) to catch up on the latest adventures of Captain Planet and The Planeteers. I’m not sure if this show was legitimately as incredible as I remember it to be, or if I only loved it because I had a sense of accomplishment every time I could watch it as they’d only run this before 8 AM for some reason.
Did you like our list of the best 90s cartoons? If we missed any of your favorite ones out, comment below to let us know!