Modern Cartoons Can’t Be Trusted: Here’s the Best 80’s Toons for Kids


These are not your childhood cartoons.


Parents across the United States are beginning to realize that modern corporations who produce entertainment for kids are going out of their way to expose children to adult content. Nickelodeon, once known for ‘sliming’ kids on You Can’t Do That On Television and Double Dare have recently aired a children’s sing-along music video extolling the virtues of Pride in colorful sing-song fashion, featuring none other than drag queen Nina West, a recent guest host of Blues Clues as well. 



Not to be outdone, Disney has proudly admitted, in their own words, to promoting a gay agenda where their aim is to push LGBT elements on their young audience. Parents are fleeing from Disney due to their controversial content. Joining the crusade, even the latest Hasbro cartoon Transformers: Earth Spark, has rolled out an inexplicable non-binary Transformer. Why robots fighting a civil war that bleeds onto earth needs representation is beyond me. If you think tried and true PBS would be an oasis against this type of programming, think again. Closing a twenty-five year run, Arthur was canceled following their own agenda push and backlash. 


These are just some examples, and I’m sure I’ve missed many more, but when the Teletubbies are hosting Drag Queen Story times, you know we have problems as a society and culture. While no one is saying LGBT and identity should not be discussed, parents, both left and right, would like the opportunity to discuss these subjects with their kids on their own terms, without a narrative set by faceless corporations who don’t have to deal with the ramifications of a confused child.



Growing up in the 80’s, we arguably, had the best run of cartoons in human history. Parents could easily plop Junior in his seat with a bowl of sugar and get ready for work, content with that fact their kid would learn ideals such as self-sacrifice, heroism, friendship, loyalty, the dangers of lying or trusting strangers, and why drugs were bad from their favorite cartoon heroes.


Those times seem dead and never to return, but they don’t have to be.


Instead of pretending to like your kids’ giant-headed modern cartoons that look like they were drawn by kindergartners suffering from dystonia, why not just show them the cartoons we grew up with instead to ensure they’re not being brainwashed while you brush your teeth?


To maintain my sanity, I have not watched every single cartoon offered on Tubikids to ensure that there is no agenda hidden in some show they host, but I have identified several free hours of cartoons that I know will teach the ideals we all grew up with.


At the very least it will make them want cool toys instead of these.


Inspector Gadget

Inspector Gadget follows the bumbling titular character and his niece Penny, who helps foil the evil Dr. Claw, leader of the M.A.D. crime syndicate. What  M.A.D.  stands for is up for dispute with Malevolent Agency of Destruction or Mean and Dirty being bandied about, but the 80’s creators loved their acronyms, so it didn’t really need a breakout then.


Trust me, expect more acronyms and great character names on this list.


As the main character, Inspector Gadget comes off as a caring family man who goes out of his way to protect Penny and solve the latest criminal scheme from Dr. Claw. Being bionic, his many gadgets will stimulate your child’s brain about science, inventions, and robotics, so feel safe allowing your kids to watch the twenty-episode run.


Watch for free here.



The minority and woman are not photoshop


C.O.P.S. (Central Organization of Police Specialists) has the tagline of “A ruthless kingpin rules Empire City, and it’s up to a courageous FBI agent and his squad of superpowered cops to make a better tomorrow.” 


While both the left and the right could find issues with that tagline (yikes FBI), C.O.P.S. is just an old school cartoon of a group of good guys led by Baldwin P. “B.P.” Vess, who solve capers perpetrated by Big Boss and his cohort of colorful villains. (The evil powerhouse Ms. Demeanor being one of the most 80’s and awesome names in the entire show).


C.O.P.S. only lasted one season for sixty-five episodes. However, seasons meant something different in the 80’s when cartoons were expected to run throughout the summer or school year; to put into perspective, Phineas and Ferb lasted six seasons and had one-hundred and thirty-two episodes combined.


So, sit your kids down to enjoy what would be the equivalent of three seasons of C.O.P.S. today, and laugh when you hear little Johnnie shout “It’s crime fighting time!” before boarding the bus, hopped up on the sugar you fed him before unleashing him on his peers.



Watch for free here.


M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand) is a group of trained soldiers led by Matt Trakker, out to stop the evil crime syndicate V.E.N.O.M (Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem) led by Miles Mayhem.


Told you about those acronyms and the really cool character names.


M.A.S.K. was an attempted hybrid of G.I. Joe and Transformers, where the humans control special vehicles that transform into an alternate mode upon command, controlled by their masks. Get it? Expect to see episodes that tackle robbery, extortion, counterfeiting, and the stealing of historical artifacts, all to be foiled by the good guys in battles where no one ever gets hurt.


Watch for free here.

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero

Yo Joe! Expect to hear your kid yelling this slogan after watching the whopping ninety-five episode run of this much beloved cartoon. Not much needs to be said about the iconic G.I. Joe, and the title says it all as far as its ideals. The cartoon follows the G.I. Joe team as they defend the world against the terrorist Cobra organization. Your kids will learn heroism, friendship, truth, justice, and the American way from this eclectic band of heroes from various backgrounds. Yes, diversity was not invented in 2016. 


Tubikids even airs the public service announcements at the end of their episodes. Your kid scared of getting lost in a mall? G.I. Joe will show them how to stay calm and find their parents. Your kid accidentally sets himself or his kid sister on fire? Don’t worry, G.I. will show them how to stop, drop and roll to put it out. No doubt, the PA’s were a constant source of comedy on the playgrounds in the 80’s, but the creators knew then that knowing was half the battle and so will your little crumb snatchers after watching.


Watch for free here.

Defenders of the Earth

Throwing a shout out to this mostly unknown and underappreciated cartoon. If there is ever a show that lends the opportunity to introduce your kids to classic pulp heroes, it is Defenders of the Earth. Boasting a lineup of Flash Gordon, Mandrake the Magician, and The Phantom , these heroes and their families fight against Ming the Merciless and his band of villains who are out to destroy the human race.


These heroes and villains have been creative inspirations for decades, their cartoon strips forming the baseline for many modern American comics. Defenders of the Earth is the perfect steppingstone to open your children’s minds to pulp stories and to characters who have stood the test of time and are still popular to this day.


Watch it for free here!


Transformers: Generation 1

Full disclosure: if there is ever a chance for me to add G1 Transformers to a list, I will every time. Although I ragged on Hasbro earlier, there was a time when they pushed heroism, friendship, duty, and sacrifice, and you will find all those ideals with the Transformers.


The show follows the heroic Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, who battle to defeat the evil Decepticons led by the maniacal Megatron. Surprisingly, the numerous writers associated with this cartoon ensured that each character had a layer of depth behind them, none more than Optimus Prime, an icon who became a pseudo-father-figure to children in the 80’s.


Nevertheless, many dismiss the Transformers as just a thirty-minute toy commercial but tell that to the traumatized kids who ran out of theaters and, the one kid that, as rumor has it, locked himself in his bedroom when Optimus Prime died in Transformers the movie. The backlash was so bad that the show runners had to re-think their future strategy, and eventually bring him back in later episodes. Our tears saved lives. You’re welcome, Duke from G.I. Joe.


While the movie is not on Tubi at this time, your kids will enjoy watching the four-season, ninety-eight episode run for free there. The movie is currently available to watch on YouTube, but for how long is anyone’s guess.


While this is not an all-comprehensive list of what is available on tubikids, these 80’s cartoons are a good beginning if you want to teach your kids the ideals that helped mold you as a child. These shows helped shape me into the man I am today, but our ideals may not align, so explore the app and rediscover other available cartoons that are more meaningful to your own personal growth. Let’s return to escapism and let kids be kids again. They’ll have plenty of time to be miserable later.




If you are looking for an escape from modern audience fare, check out my novel Fiasco of Adventures here or here.   


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Victor James

Just a writer sharing his stories with the world. Support the Iron Age and New Culture to bring back escapism. Follow me on Substack and Minds for story updates, and find my book here.