The Most Iconic Cartoons of Each Decade


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We look back fondly on Saturday mornings, waking up early to watch all of our favorite cartoons at a specific time. These days, kids have everything available to them at the click of a button, and can even access many of our favorite shows from decades past. But which shows ruled each decade? Take a look at our list and find out.

Image Credit: Wikipedia / IMDB / Mediafeed.


Most iconic cartoon of the decade: “Fantasmagorie”

Year released: 1908

Widely regarded as the world’s first cartoon, “Fantasmagorie” was a French animated film by Émile Cohl that featured hand-drawn animations. Throughout the motion picture, there are live-action segments that show the animator’s hand in the scene. Mostly, the animation revolves around a stick man who moves around and comes across a variety of morphing objects. 

Image Credit: Facebook.


Most iconic cartoon of the decade: “Feline Follies”

Year released: 1919

“Feline Follies” marked the first-ever appearance of the iconic cartoon character Felix the cat. The animated short film was distributed by Paramount Pictures and was less than five minutes long.  

Image Credit: Pat Sullivan / Wikipedia.


Most iconic cartoon of the decade: “Steamboat Willie”

Year released: 1928

Most of us reading this probably weren’t around when “Steamboat Willie” came out, but nevertheless, we’ve all heard of it because it was the first time Mickey and Minnie Mouse appeared on the screen. The black-and-white short film was directed by Walt Disney and is known as one of the first cartoons to have synchronized sound along with a fully post-produced soundtrack. 

Image Credit: Wikipedia / Walt Disney / Ub Iwerks.


Most iconic cartoon of the decade: “Looney Tunes”

Year released: 1930

Produced and distributed by Warner Bros., “Looney Tunes” debuted as a series of short films that ran from 1930 to 1969. This ‘toon isn’t merely the most iconic of the ’30s, but one of the most (if not the most) legendary cartoons of all time. While noteworthy characters like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck weren’t part of the original cartoon, it was still a smash hit — and has been ever since. The decade made other strides in animation with the release of the first American full-length animated feature film in 1937: “Snow White.” And we’d be remiss to not mention the adorable “Betty Boop,” which, like “Looney Tunes,” came out in 1930.

Image Credit: Looney Tunes Wiki.


Most iconic cartoon of the decade: “Tom and Jerry”

Year released: 1940

We didn’t need dialogue to fall in love with “Tom and Jerry.” The classic cat-and-mouse chase of the two characters was (and still is) wildly entertaining. The Hanna-Barbera cartoon had an impressive original run with 161 theatrical short films, spanning 18 years (until 1958). Since then, there have been multiple adaptations of the show, proving its staying power. Of course, the cat and mouse weren’t the only successful cartoons of the decade, with other standouts including 1941’s “Raggedy Ann and Andy” and 1945’s “Casper the Friendly Ghost.”

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Most iconic cartoon of the decade: “The Woody Woodpecker Show”

Year released: 1957

Woody Woodpecker’s cackle is forever imprinted on our brains, and this show exuded an entertaining energy that was unmatched. Also in the 1950s, legendary cartoons like “The Bullwinkle Show,” “The Gumby Show,” “The Mighty Mouse Playhouse,” and “Clutch Cargo” kept us captivated.

Image Credit: IMDB.


Most iconic cartoon of the decade: “The Flintstones” 

Year released: 1960

Yabba dabba doo! The ’60s started strong debuting “The Flinstones,” one of the most beloved cartoons of all time. Who didn’t love watching Fred drone on to Wilma like a barefoot bafoon? “Popeye the Sailor,” “Mister Magoo,” “The Bugs Bunny Show,” “The Deputy Dawg Show,” “The Yogi Bear Show,” “The Jetsons,” “Johnny Quest,” “Underdog,” and “The Magilla Gorilla Show” also prove how stacked the ’60s were in terms of good ‘toons. 

Image Credit: IMDB.


Most iconic cartoon of the decade: “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!”

Year released: 1969

It always amazed us how far Shaggy and Scooby were willing to push the envelope for the sake of a Scooby snack. The duo would deliver an ultra-hard “no” to a mystery-solving endeavor, but if you dangled a Scooby snack in front of them, it was nothing but “Rooby-Rooby-Roo” and “Zoinks!” from there on out. Though this one was technically released the last year of the ’60s, it absolutely ruled the ’70s, and is still one of our favorites.

Image Credit: IMDB.


Most iconic cartoon of the decade: “ThunderCats”

Year released: 1985

The 1980s gave us so many great cartoons — “Inspector Gadget,” “He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe,” “DuckTales,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “The Smurfs” — the list goes on and on. Still, if you ask us, the one that dominated the ’80s had to be “ThunderCats.” 

Image Credit: IMDB.


Most iconic cartoon of the decade: “Rugrats” 

Year released: 1991

Cartoons completely ruled the ’90s. The likes of Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon were constantly churning out new shows to compete with one another. First things first: “The Simpsons” had just come out in 1989, and we all know the impact that show has had. “Dexter’s Laboratory,” “Animaniacs,” “Pinky and the Brain,” “Hey Arnold!,” “The Ren & Stimpy Show,” “Aaahh!!! Real Monsters” — we could continue rattling off shows for paragraphs, guys. Still, we know which one reigned superior and stands out as the most prominent of the decade, and that was Tommy and his gang of diaper-wearing pals in Nickelodeon’s “Rugrats.”

Image Credit: Wikipedia / Viacom International Inc..


Most iconic cartoon of the decade: “SpongeBob SquarePants”

Year released: 1999

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? You know who! SpongeBob SquarePants! And Patrick lives under a rock, while Sandy the Squirrel lives in a glass terrarium. SpongeBob is legendary, and it took the 2000s by storm. From Gary’s monotone “meows” to Squidward’s clarinet and Plankton’s thwarted attempts to steal the secret formula for the Krusty Krab’s Krabby Patty, we couldn’t help but be engrossed by “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

Image Credit: Facebook.


Most iconic cartoon of the decade: “Rick and Morty” 

Year released: 2013

Cartoon culture shifted in the late 2000s and throughout the 2010s with an emphasis on adult cartoons (Adult Swim’s takeover, if you will) like “Family Guy,” “King of the Hill,” “Bojack Horseman,” and “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.” None quite matched the influence of “Rick and Morty,” though. 

Image Credit: Reddit.

These Days …

We’re not quite into the 2020s enough to define which cartoon is the most iconic, but what we will say is there’s a certain Australian Blue Heeler puppy who is supposedly the star cartoon of a preschool-oriented show, but perhaps equally beloved by adults. We’re lookin’ at you, “Bluey.”

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.

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