The 1980s were rich in animated greatness both on Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons. Children of the ’80s can remember a time when Saturday mornings were appointment television, huddled close to the warm cathode ray glow of your TV set with a bowl of sugary cereal. You might also remember running home from the bust stop after school to catch some of the best syndicated cartoons of all time before mom called you to dinner.
Here is a list of several cartoons that thrived in the ’80s and where you can currently find them on streaming. Click the link in parentheses to visit the streaming service.
Just recently, Hulu has brought Thundercats (and its 2011 reboot) to its streaming platform which includes all 130 episodes. The Rankin/Bass produced series was a syndicated gem that spawned toys, comics, video games, and much more licensed merchandise throughout its initial run from 1985-89. The adventures of the cat-like humanoids across Third Earth are still regarded as some the best from the ’80s and all time.
G.I. Joe: A Real American was a syndicated animated series in the 1980s that originally began as the first animated 5-part miniseries in television history. Hasbro’s rebranding of the classic military dolls also proved to be one of those most recognizable and successful toy properties in history. Currently, you can find the majority of its 95 total episodes for free on Tubi and YouTube. There is also a 24/7 live stream on YouTube that shows full episodes.
Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears (Disney+)
Loosely inspired by its candy namesake, Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears featured the mythic and mystical bears of Gummi Glen. Their adventures, which often featured human friend Cavin, where the staple of Saturday morning in the late 80s and the “Disney Afternoon” block in the early ’90s. You can watch all 65 episodes currently through Disney+ along with other ’80s favorites like Ducktales, Talespin, and Darkwing Duck.
Produced by Hanna Barbera, the longest running Saturday morning animated series of the ’80s was The Smurfs. During it’s run from 1981-89, 256 total episodes (417 unique stories) aired on NBC along with seven TV specials. While there is no current streaming service that offers every episode, you can find several seasons on HBO Max and Boomerang. The Smurfs Official YouTube channel also offer over 40 episodes for free including the heralded Christmas special.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (YouTube)
The blonde barbarian of Eternia (and his twin sister of Etheria) proved to be one of the most powerful forces in the ’80s cartoon universe. Filmation’s He-Man and the Masters of the Universe ruled syndicated television from 1983-85 and even exploded into movies theaters, live shows, and of course, toy shelves. His fabulous secret powers had no match until She-Ra: Princess of Power debuted in 1985 to continue the animated dominance of both boys and girls alike. While the entire run of 130 episodes is not currently available on any streaming service, the He-man Official channel of YouTube offers complete episode and compilations to keep any fan entertained for free.
The “Defender of the Universe” came to the US from Japan in 1984 as a syndicated hit. Voltron furthered the popularity of the anime in the ’80s and in the process, won of the hearts of kids who enjoyed seeing the mighty robot slay the robeasts of King Zarkon and witch Haggar. 72 total episodes of the original show aired in the mid ’80s and while no current streaming service has the entire run available, 59 episodes are available on the official Voltron channel on YouTube. As an added bonus, the channel also has episodes of other Voltron iterations and Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs.