Relive beloved Saturday-morning cartoons with nostalgia

A red-haired woman in a black sleeveless turtleneck and camo pants readies a karate stance.

Travel back in time with us to a golden age of cartoons, a time when Saturday mornings were eagerly anticipated, and kids would gather in front of their television sets, waiting for their favorite animated shows to air. It was an era before the advent of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, where entire seasons of shows could be dropped unexpectedly, and where accessibility to a vast library of cartoons was just a click away.

At Polygon, we have a deep appreciation for animation, particularly the era when watching cartoons meant being present in front of the TV at a specific time on a specific day. We have compiled a list of our favorite childhood cartoons that captured the essence of Saturday mornings, regardless of whether they actually aired on Saturdays. These shows had the power to transport us to a world of imagination, excitement, and nostalgia.

One of our beloved Saturday-morning cartoons is “American Dragon: Jake Long.” This show made waves with its captivating story of a cool Asian protagonist, Jake Long, who possessed mystical martial arts abilities, including the power to shape-shift into a dragon. We adored the character of Jake, and the show also introduced us to the talented Brenda Song. You can now relive the magic by streaming “American Dragon: Jake Long” on Disney Plus.

A collage of six highly popular animated TV shows, including Hey Arnold, Batman: TAS, Spongebob Squarepants, The Powerpuff Girls, Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot, and Teen Titans.

For those who grew up as PBS kids in the ’90s or early 2000s, “Arthur” holds a special place in our hearts. The lovable aardvark family and their friends, like Buster, Muffy, and Francine, entertained us while teaching valuable life lessons. The show’s catchy tunes, including the iconic Library Card Song, still resonate with us today. You can watch “Arthur” on PBS Kids and experience the nostalgia.

“Avatar: The Last Airbender” is another animated gem that captured our imagination. This series took us on a thrilling journey through a world of elemental magic and intricate geopolitical conflicts. Its sophisticated storytelling appealed not only to kids but also to teenagers and even adults. Whether you watched it as a preteen or you’re discovering it now, “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is available for streaming on Netflix.

“Batman: The Animated Series” holds a special place in our hearts, shaping our aesthetic sensibilities and igniting a passion for art. This groundbreaking show introduced us to the iconic character of Batman and delved deep into his world, providing us with artistry, expression, and historical references we might have otherwise missed. It continues to inspire us as adults. You can enjoy “Batman: The Animated Series” on HBO Max.

Three girls in blue, pink, and green matching outfits flying in front of red heart background.

“Beast Wars: Transformers” may not have been the original Transformers series, but it captivated our young minds with its thrilling CG animation and captivating storyline. Set on prehistoric Earth, the show followed Optimus Primal and his crew of Maximals as they battled their mortal adversaries, the Predacons. Despite the dated visuals, “Beast Wars” still stands as a riveting and occasionally hilarious drama. You can watch it on Tubi and Pluto TV.

“Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot” represents the epitome of Saturday-morning cartoons. Based on a comic book, the series blended superheroics, sci-fi kaiju action, and themes of futurism and coming-of-age. Following the adventures of Rusty, a robot who unknowingly pilots the massive Big Guy battle suit, the show took us on a thrilling journey across Earth and beyond. Although it was canceled on a cliffhanger, the show’s impact goes beyond its unresolved ending. You can catch “Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot” on YouTube.

“Danger Mouse” provided us with an entertaining parody of James Bond, featuring a mouse secret agent and his hamster companion, Penfold. The show blended slapstick comedy, satire, and clever wordplay, delivering laughs and excitement in equal measure. With its distinct British humor, “Danger Mouse” became a cult classic and is available for streaming on Netflix.

Four teenagers and a dog sitt inside of a blue and green van.

“Captain Planet and the Planeteers” empowered us with its powerful environmental message, teaching us the importance of protecting our planet. The show followed a group of young heroes who possessed rings with the power of Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, and Heart, and when combined, they summoned Captain Planet. Although its environmental themes are as relevant as ever, you can now relive the nostalgia by watching “Captain Planet and the Planeteers” on Amazon Prime Video.

These are just a few examples of the incredible Saturday-morning cartoons that defined our childhoods. The list could go on and on, as there are countless other shows that left an indelible mark on our memories. So, grab a bowl of cereal, get cozy on the couch, and embark on a trip down memory lane as you watch these beloved cartoons. Relive the joy, laughter, and wonder that Saturday mornings brought to our lives, and discover new favorites along the way.

Streaming platforms have made it easier than ever to access these timeless animated classics. So, whether you’re a nostalgic adult seeking to relive your childhood or a new generation eager to discover the magic of Saturday-morning cartoons, these shows are waiting for you, just a few clicks away. Sit back, relax, and let the animated worlds of your favorite childhood shows transport you to a simpler time filled with joy, wonder, and Saturday-morning excitement. Happy watching!

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