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The 90s were an incredible time for cartoons. Anyone born in the late 80s or early 90s probably has fantastic memories of Saturday mornings spent watching the amazing animated TV shows of the era.
What’s more, a lot of those animated TV shows actually hold up quite well today. This isn’t a case of rose-tinted glasses! You remember them fondly… because they actually were pretty darn good. And if you were to watch them again today, you’d still find them enjoyable.
Here are the best 90s cartoons that still hold up today!
When it comes to superhero cartoons, Spider-Man truly is the gold standard by which all others should be judged. Every detail from the storylines to the actual animation are as close to perfect as you’ll find for the time period, and this is 100-percent worth going back to even if you’re just a casual fan of Spider-Man.
The show is such an accurate representation of the comic book, and it feels like Spider-Man is animating right off the pages.
Rugrats is a show about a bunch of babies going on adventures. How could that possibly hold up for adults in 2019? Turns out, there’s something timeless about imagination, and that’s really all the Rugrats is. It’s Tommy Pickles and his ragtag gang of, well, rugrats, experiencing the world through their vivid imaginations.
The show used a crude animation style that actually helps it hold up today because of how interesting it looks. And if that doesn’t work for you, the emotional beats (yes, there are lots of touching moments in this show designed for kids) will help you enjoy it no matter in what year you watch.
Now, we’re going to take it back to the comic book world with Batman: The Animated Series. While not necessarily as dark as Christopher Nolan’s movies, the show takes a very dark tone for a cartoon aimed at children. It’s is just splendid in every way, and whether you watched it in the 90s, or are looking to go back for the first time, this show is worth the time.
If you’re still not sure, this iteration of Batman stars Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as Joker, which is an incredible cast. In fact, some say Hamill’s portrayal of the Joker is right up there with Heath Ledger’s iconic performance.
Let’s jump right from Batman to a cartoon character who certainly draws some pretty serious inspiration from The Dark Knight… and that’s Darkwing Duck. The show lives in the same universe as Duck Tails, but it’s quite a bit different from that show in both tone and feel.
Darkwing Duck actually dunks on a lot of the superhero shows that are on this list, but that’s part of what makes it so enjoyable. Because the superhero genre is still so popular today (though mostly on the big screen), the jokes still hold up incredibly well, and the show looks great.
X-Men: The Animated Series faithfully recreates many of the best storylines from the comic books in a way that’s relatable to kids without changing the core feel of the plotlines. Like most X-Men media, the show actually has some positive messages against prejudice, with the mutants serving as a stand-in for the oppressed.
Of the shows on the list, this is one of the few that doesn’t look perfect today, as the animation doesn’t quite hold up. However, the quality stories and entertaining cast of characters more than carries it through to 2019, especially for X-Men fans.
Rocko’s Modern Life is meant to disgust as much as entertain, and it definitely does a great job of both. Rocko, his dog Spunky, and his friend Heffer Wolfe get into plenty of nasty antics throughout the show, but that doesn’t stop it from teaching kids some important life lessons. There are episodes about recycling, credit card debt, and even the power and influence of advertising.
Rocko’s Modern Life almost feels like it was created with kids going back and watching it as adults in mind, because just about every joke holds up—and it’s packed with stuff that you probably didn’t “get” as a kid that you’ll connect with now.
7. Hey Arnold!
I was actually quite tossed up between choosing Hey Arnold! or Doug. They’re both shows focused primarily around a young man and the trials and tribulations he faces as he grows up. Both shows have a zany best friend, a bully, an interesting family dynamic, a love interest that isn’t reciprocated, and plenty of other similarities.
In the end, Hey Arnold! just holds up better than Doug. Visually, it looks and moves much better than Doug, and the storylines feel quite a bit more timeless. Arnold and his friends will keep you entertained while teaching you plenty of valuable life lessons. And the adults will make you laugh with jokes that went over your head as a child.
More Down 90s Memory Lane
If you love 90s cartoons, these are the perfect ones to go back to. They’ll deliver all the fun you remember from the original time and place even in 2019. It’s time to binge your way through your childhood.