Depending on your age, Saturday morning cartoons might or might not have been a thing when you were a kid. And with streaming and Netflix these days, the nostalgic aspect is only ramped up. But for those of us who grew up with them, the experience of seeing the new lineup each spring and fall, planning which ones we were going to watch, and waking up early on a weekend morning to do so are cherished memories.
Here are a few of the Saturday morning cartoons that give us the most nostalgic feels.
Muppet Babies (1984-1992)
When your room looks kinda weird, well, you know what to do. The Muppet Babies started out as a short dream sequence in The Muppets Take Manhattan featuring Piggy, Kermit, Gonzo, Fozzie, Animal, Rowlf, and Scooter.
That puppet version soon spawned the cartoon series where younger versions of the Muppets, along with Scooter’s twin sister Skeeter, who was invented for the series.
As the Muppet kids went on fantastic imaginative adventures in their playroom, they created original songs and often interacted with film clips from Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and old TV and movies.
They were looked after by Nanny, who we only ever saw as a pair of shoes and some green-striped hose, and who was voiced by June Cleaver herself, Barbara Billingsly.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990-1997)
Long before there were CG versions running around a Michael Bay-directed live-action world, this was the original animated version of the sewer-dwelling heroes in a half-shell.
Transformed by radioactive goop from pet turtles into pizza-loving anthropomorphic mutants, they were trained in the art of ninjutsu by the similarly metamorphosed rat Splinter.
He named them after Renaissance artists, the first of a long series of attempts to impart some culture and sophistication to the often stubbornly rambunctious turtle boys.
This is the cartoon that made the original, dark and violent graphic novel into something with broad appeal that has remained a media juggernaut ever since.
Rainbow Brite (1985-1986)
When a girl named Wisp brings light and color to a dark, despondent world with the help of a sprite called Twink and the magical steed Starlight, she is given the title Rainbow Brite, setting out with her friends the Color Kids to spread light and color across the universe. \
With each of her friends in charge of a different color, the team seeks to make every world a prettier, happier place.
If you had a Rainbow Brite doll, you know how much you wanted to wear that crazy, poofy-sleeved dress of hers. Rainbow Brite was a gloriously positive, way too cute hero we loved to go on adventures with.
Alvin and the Chipmunks (1983-1990)
The Chipmunks may have started in the 1950s, but they really came into their own with this 1980s series that followed their various misadventures and imbued them with the attitude and zaniness for which they are now known.
Alvin, Simon, and Theodore lived with their adoptive human dad David “Dave” Seville. Alvin had long been a standout of the group, since his original unruly behavior on the novelty music records where the trio got their start.
Brainy Simon and cute but clumsy Theodore were constantly hatching plots with (and trying to rein in) their headstrong brother. The series even spawned a theatrical film, The Chipmunk Adventure, featuring the boys’ feminine counterparts, the Chipettes—Brittany, Jeanette, and Eleanor.
ALF: The Animated series (1987-1989)
Also known as ALF on Melmac, this prequel to the popular NBC sitcom followed ALF before he left his home planet of Melmac, where he was known as Gordon Shumway.
ALF is, of course, an acronym for Alien Life Form, given to him by Willie of his Earth family. In the cartoon, we learn all about Gordon’s family—parents Bob and Flo and siblings Curtis and Augie—as well as his girlfriend Rhonda (who eventually showed up in the live-action sitcom) and his friends Skip, Rick, and Spudder.
Melmac is a wacky place, and Gordon and his friends get into all sorts of adventures, especially as they battle the evil Larson Petty and Louie the Pruner.
The Littles (1983-1985)
Based on the children’s novels of the same name by John Peterson, this animated series followed tiny, elf-like creatures with long, prehensile tales who live in the walls and attics, nooks and niches of humans’ homes.
The series follows siblings Tom and Lucy Little, along with their Grandpa Little, parents Frank and Helen, and their cousins Dinky and Ashley. Dinky was the goofiest of the bunch, a pilot and mechanic who was a little on the clumsy side.
Tom and Lucy could always find adventure and mischief as the family sought to stay hidden from the humans. The series spawned two animated films and caused kids everywhere to try to pry the air conditioning intake vents off their walls to look for Littles.
The Real Ghostbusters (1986-1991)
Following the further adventures of Peter Venkman, Winston Zeddemore, Ray Stanz, and Egon Spengler from the 1984 supernatural comedy classic, this series expanded the world of the Ghostbusters to all sorts of spooky, crazy places with new ghosts of all sorts every week.
Featuring their bubble gum-chewing secretary Jeanine and now-befriended ghost buddy Slimer, the series represents an only slightly sillier take on the concept of battling ghosts in New York City than the original film.
The Slimer character was so popular that the series’ name was changed to Slimer! and The Real Ghostbusters for its fourth through seventh seasons. As for the “Real” part? That was to differentiate it from The Gost Busters, a Filmation cartoon you might remember from other Saturday mornings in 1975.