If you grew up in the ’80s or are just looking for some good, old classic 80’s cartoons, you might have trouble tracking them down. You can’t just flip through the TV channels and find those 80’s classics, but all is not lost, there are plenty of places if you know where to look.
Where & how to watch 80’s cartoons: the ultimate guide: You can find and watch 80’s cartoons on a number of different online sites or through some subscription TV services. Here’s a look.
- Cartoon websites
- Amazon Prime
- Cartoon channels
Some of these options are free while others require a subscription.
Today, there are so many things that keep kids inside: video games, computers, school work, the Internet, cell phones, etc. In the ’80s, the only reason we staying inside was to watch some of these 80’s cartoons on a Saturday morning. Otherwise, we were out running and playing with friends. Being able to find them and watch them now can sure bring back a lot of memories.
Now that you know you can catch the old classics, here’s your ultimate guide on exactly where to track them down.
You can hop right online and find some of your favorite 80’s cartoons on a number of different cartoon websites.
These sites are some of the best to find 80’s cartoons.
ToonJet.com: ToonJet has dozens of free cartoons you can watch online. The cartoons available are updated often, so if you don’t see the one you’re looking for when you first look, you can always look again later.
You can watch cartoons for free on the website without even signing up, but signing up gets you a few extras and still doesn’t cost. If you sign up, this is what you get.
- ToonJet’s newsletter
- A ToonJet profile
- Post comments on cartoons
- Send shouts
- Send and receive messages from other ToonJet users
Signing up for the website is easy. You do need to be at least 13 years old to sign up on ToonJet. Take a look at these steps.
- Go to toonjet.com
- Scroll down until you see the box that says “Sign Up Now!”
- Click “Sign up Now!”
- Create a username and password and enter your email
- Enter your address and gender if you want
- Type in the code so the system knows you’re not a spammer
- Click “Register”
Viewing cartoons on the website is super easy. Once you go to the website, you’ll see options at the top. Click on the option that says “Cartoons.” Clicking on this will bring up a few specific options like “Superman,” Looney Tunes,” and “Tom and Jerry.” If you don’t see what you want there, you can click “More Classics” to search through more cartoons.
Of course, some of these were made much earlier than the 1980s, but were still a favorite during that decade.
Viewing cartoons on the website is free, but you can also subscribe to the website to get extras. First, you have to join the website, then you’ll see a subscribe option. When you do this, you’ll get an email when new cartoons are on the website and you can watch them before they even hit the site.
WBKids.com: WBKids.com started in 1995 on TV as Kids’ WB, which was children’s programming that aired on the WB Television Network. In 2006, it moved to The CW, another network. It was discontinued on the CW in 2008. It was relaunched as an online network later that year. It’s gone through a number of changes, none of which are very important, considering you can still watch 80’s cartoons on the site.
There aren’t a ton of 80’s cartoons on the site, but you can still catch episodes of Scooby Doo, Tom and Jerry, and Looney Tunes. While the site may be lacking 80’s cartoons, there are other great classics like The Flinstones, Batman, and Justice League.
80sCartoons.net: This website isn’t actually one where you can watch full length 80’s cartoons, but it’s an amazing resource to find any information you might need about the classics.
The website has images, theme songs, Saturday morning cartoon schedules, and video clips for just about any 80’s cartoon you can think of.
The cartoons are archived by the alphabet. So, you’ll see an index broken up by letters on the left side of the home page and the top of the page. Here’s a look at how to find cartoon information. I’ll use “She-Ra” as an example.
- Click “S-Z” (since we’re using She-Ra and it starts with “S”)
- Scroll down the list until you see “She-Ra: Princess of Power”
- View the information
Once you click on the cartoon, you can see what it’s about as well as how many episodes aired and when the show ran. You can also see who played the voices for each character. On the right side of the page, you’ll also usually find a fun fact about the show.
80stoons.com: This website is another combo website that has all the information you could dream about finding on 80’s cartoons as well as some cartoons to watch. You can’t actually watch every cartoon on this site, though.
Once you figure out what cartoon you want to check out, you can find out more about the creators, who voiced each character, a complete list of episodes and sometimes videos and music lyrics.
Let’s use DuckTales for our example on this website. Follow these steps to check out the series information.
- Go to 80stoons.com
- Click “Series” near the top of the page
- Select the first letter of the series you’re looking for at the top of the page. In our case, I’ll click “D”. (You can also just scroll down the page, but that might take a while depending on what you’re looking for.)
- Find the series you’re looking for and click on it, in our case “DuckTales”
- Check out the list on the left and click on the information you want to see. For example, if I wanted to see a list of episodes, I would click on “Episode List.” I would click “What Was It About” if I was trying to explain the show to someone. You can also just scroll down to see the same information.
Archive.org: This website is a library full of free books, movies, software, music, and websites, including 80’s cartoons.
Follow the following steps to navigate to the free cartoons.
- Go to archive.org
- Scroll down the page to the search box
- Type “animation and cartoons”
- Hit “Go”
- Scroll down on the return page until you see the icon labeled “Animation & Cartoons”
- Click that option
- Scroll down on the new page
- Type in the cartoon you’re looking for on the left in the box that says “Search this Collection”
- You can also just scroll down the list of cartoons to see if any spark your interest
So, as you can see, even just online, there are plenty of options to watch your favorite 80’s cartoons. If you can’t find what you’re looking for on one of these websites, there are still other options.
Your next option is also online. You can’t forget about good, old YouTube. If you haven’t figured it out already, you can watch just about anything you want on YouTube.
The steps are pretty simple. We’ll use “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” for our example. Take a look.
- Go to youtube.com
- Find the box that says “Search” at the top
- Type in the cartoon series you’re looking for or if you’re really good, the episode you’re looking for. In our case, we’ll type “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”.
- Hit “Enter” on your keyboard or click on the image of a magnifying glass
- Pick your episode
You may not find every single episode of the 80’s cartoon you want to watch on YouTube, but there should be plenty to keep you busy for a while.
You also might see some returns in your search where you can pay a certain amount to rent episodes. If you choose this option, you’ll have a certain amount of time to watch the episodes. This option is a good choice if commercials drive you crazy; otherwise, there are plenty of episodes you can watch for free.
If you want to watch 80’s cartoons while you’re traveling and won’t have Internet access, YouTube also offers a subscription service called YouTube Premium. The service costs $11.99 a month and allows you to watch YouTube videos without any ads as well as offline.
Signing up for YouTube Premium is super easy. Here’s what you need to do.
- Download the YouTube app if you don’t have it already
- Open the app
- Click on the profile icon at the top right
- Find “Get YouTube Premium” in the list that pops up
- Select “Try it Free”
- Enter your payment information and you’re good to go
Like I said, this subscription is probably useful if you know you’re traveling and won’t have Internet access. You just download the cartoons you want to your library and watch them offline.
Your next option to watch 80’s cartoons is a subscription service called Hulu. Hulu is owned by Walt Disney and offers regular TV series as well as premium channels like HBO, Starz, and Showtime. The service offers live TV as well as on-demand.
Hulu has been around since 2008 and is a popular choice because it gives viewers access to current shows on every major network. Of course, that doesn’t help you much when it comes to watching 80’s cartoons, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find them here.
You can choose from two options when it comes to a Hulu subscription: Hulu (No Ads) or Hulu. The difference is obvious, the first choice features shows without any ads, while the shows through the second subscription are interrupted by ads. Hulu (No Ads) is $11.99 a month and the regular Hulu is $5.99 a month.
Signing up is easy. Here’s what you do.
- Go to hulu.com
- Click “Get One Month Free” in the middle of the page
- Choose the option you want, Hulu (No Ads) or Hulu and click “Select”
- Create an account by entering your personal information and click “Continue”
- Enter your payment information and you’re good to go
Once you’re all set with your subscription, you can sit back and catch a few of your favorite cartoons. Hulu doesn’t have a ton, but they do have one of the biggest animated shows of the ’80s and ’90s, The Simpsons. Here are some of the 80’s cartoons you can catch on Hulu.
- The Simpsons
- Dragon Ball
- Inspector Gadget
- Thomas the Tank Engine
If you decide this subscription service doesn’t offer enough of the 80’s cartoons you’re looking for, you can hop back online and cancel your subscription whenever you want.
Another subscription service that offers some 80’s cartoons is Netflix. It’s probably one of the biggest video subscription services in the United States and offers movies and TV shows.
A little bit of history on Netflix. It actually started by selling and renting DVDs by mail. It wasn’t until 2010 that the company expanded to the streaming services we know today.
Netflix has three different plans available: basic, standard and premium. The plans are based on how many screens you can watch at the same time and HD availability. The price varies depending on which plan you pick. Here’s a look at the plans.
|Ultra HD Available||No||No||Yes|
|Screens you can watch at the same time||1||2||4|
Signing up for Netflix is just as easy as any other subscription service, just follow these steps.
- Go to netflix.com
- Click on “Join Free for a Month”
- Select “See the Plans” so you can review the details of each one
- Click on the plan that best fits your needs
- Hit “Continue”
- Enter your information to create a new account
- Choose a payment option and enter your payment details
Once your account is set up, you can start searching for those cartoons. Here’s a look at some of your favorite 80’s cartoons you can catch on Netflix.
- Danger Mouse
- She-Ra Princess of Power
- He-Man Masters of the Universe
- Inspector Gadget
Just like Hulu, you can cancel Netflix anytime you decide you’re unhappy with it.
The final subscription service that lets you watch your favorite classics is Amazon Prime and this one is a gold mine of classics. If you’re not familiar with Amazon Prime, a membership offers free fast shipping on items you buy on Amazon, streaming movies, shows, and music, special shopping deals, and free reading options.
Amazon Prime offers an annual membership or you can pay by month, but you’ll save money on the annual membership. It costs $119 a year compared to $12.99 per month.
If you buy the annual membership, you’ll just want to make sure you use it for the year. Between shopping online and watching movies or TV shows, though, we never have a problem making the membership worth it. College students can get the annual membership for just $59 a year.
If you decide to go for an Amazon Prime membership, you’ll need to create an Amazon account if you don’t already have one. Here’s how to do that.
- Go to Amazon.com
- Click “Account & Lists” on the upper, right side of the page
- Choose “Create Your Amazon Account”
- Enter your personal information including your email address and a password
- Click “Create Your Amazon Account” (Amazon will take you to a registration page asking for verification)
- Check your email for an email from Amazon with a one-time password
- Go back to the registration page and enter the one time password, then click “Verify”
Once you’ve created an Amazon account, follow these steps to sign up for Amazon Prime.
- Go to Amazon.com
- Sign into your Amazon account
- Click the profile icon at the top of the page
- Scroll down until you see “Prime membership”
- Click “Start your free trial”
Amazon has plenty of 80’s cartoons for you to watch if you subscribe to a Prime membership. Not all of these are free, but some of them are less than 10 bucks a season. Here are some of the ones you can catch.
- Thomas the Tank Engine
- Looney Tunes: The Bugs Bunny Show
- Inspector Gadget
- Thundercats ($28.99 per season)
- G.I. Joe ($29.99 per season)
- Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer ($3.99 rental)
- Ducktales ($9.99 per season)
- Transformers ($12.99 per season)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ($3.99 per season)
- Scooby-Doo Where Are You? ($14.99 per season)
Your Amazon membership will really be worth it if you use it for more than just its streaming services.
Finally, you can always check out the regular cartoon channels through your cable subscription. You’re obviously not going to find 80’s classics airing every single day, but sometimes they’ll have a marathon where you can catch a whole day of your favorites.
Here are some of the cartoon channels you should keep an eye on. If they have any marathons coming up, they’ll usually advertise them through a banner or commercial.
- Cartoon network
- Teen Nick
- Nick Jr.
- TV Land
- Disney XD
- Disney Jr.
- Disney Channel
With all of the above options, you should be able to catch some of your favorite 80’s cartoons.
Best Cartoons of the ’80s
The ’80s marked a bit of a new era for the cartoon industry. The law changed around this time and creators could now make cartoons about toys. What kid didn’t want to watch episode after episode of a cartoon centered around their favorite toy?
Some of the all-time favorite 80’s cartoons involved toys. Here’s a look at the most popular cartoons of the ’80s and a little bit about each, just in case you’re not sure where to start.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
- Inspector Gadget
- Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers
- The Smurfs
- The Simpsons
- G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero
DuckTales: Who didn’t love Huey, Dewey, and Louie? The three moved in with their Uncle Scrooge and got into more wild adventures than most kids will in their lifetime. Many of the episodes involve the rich Uncle Scrooge trying to protect his wealth or make more money.
DuckTales ran from 1986-1991 and had four seasons with 100 episodes.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: What little boy doesn’t remember Donatello, Leonardo, Michaelangelo, and Raphael? The superhero turtles not only loved pizza but also were totally awesome as they used their ninja skills to fight crime.
The series actually started out as a joke. One of the creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles drew a turtle in a mask holding a weapon and showed it to his collaborator. It took off from there.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ran from 1987-1996 but has had a number of spin-offs, including one as recently as 2018. Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles aired on Nickelodeon in September 2018.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: This series was based on a toy line by the same title. The toy was actually created after the toymaker, Mattel, passed on buying the rights to create the Star Wars toy line.
He-Man takes place on a magical planet called Eternia. The lead character, Prince Adam, turns into He-Man any time he holds up the sword of power. He-Man is known as the most powerful man in the universe. He-Man, along with his friends, defends the planet from evil foes. The series ran from 1983-1987.
Thundercats: Thundercats only ran for one season in 1985 but was still an 80’s favorite. A group of Thunderans works together to survive in space after their planet, Thundera is destroyed. They find a planet they can live on, but it’s “years” away. They travel there and make friends with groups already living there and then they all work together to fight the evil threats.
An interesting and shocking fact about Thundercats, the crew actually started out in their birthday suits. Yes, this was a kid’s cartoon. They were in this state until their mentor gave them clothing.
Inspector Gadget: Inspector Gadget and his favorite pup, Brain, work together to solve tricky cases. The cyborg policeman usually ends up solving them by luck with some help from Brain and his niece, Penny.
Inspector Gadget was actually created after having an accident. He slipped on a banana peel and fell down several flights of stairs while chasing a bad guy. He was surgically reconstructed into Inspect Gadget after the accident.
Any child from the ’80s probably remembers “Go-go-gadget,” the phrase he used to summon some gadgets to help solve his mysteries. The series ran from 1982-1986.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers: Many kids already knew Chip ‘n Dale when Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers premiered in 1988. The two chipmunks start a detective agency called Rescue Rangers in the series. They, along with Gadget, Monterey Jack, and Zipper, solve various crimes working together.
The Smurfs: Another popular 80s cartoon, the lovely blue Smurfs. This series was actually one of the longest-running Saturday morning cartoons, running from 1981-1986. It actually started in 1965 as a Belgian comic series.
The series features the small, human-like Smurfs who live in mushroom-shaped houses. There are actually more than 100 Smurf characters who frequently find themselves on adventures.
An interesting fact about the characters, their names are based on adjectives that describe their characters. For example, “Smurfette” was the first female Smurf, “Papa Smurf” is the leader, and “Jokey Smurf” likes to play practical jokes.
The Simpsons: Although, better known in the ’90s, The Simpsons actually started in the 1980s. This makes it one of the longest-running, most successful cartoon series. The series, featuring the Simpson family, was one of the first cartoons to appeal to both kids and adults.
The main family includes Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie, and gives viewers a sort of comedic view of the working-class life.
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero: This series, as you can probably tell from its title, was another one based on a popular toy. The toy was created in 1964. The series revolves around G.I. Joe and his allies defeating enemies in different scenarios.
The start of the series goes way back to when the G.I. Joe toy was introduced. A series of commercials advertising the toy was so popular that two miniseries were created. These miniseries were then so popular that the full-time series was created and ran from 1983-1986.
A funny tidbit about the start of G.I. Joe, the president of Hasbro and the president of Marvel met while using the men’s room at a charity event. After striking up a friendship, they decided to work together on G.I. Joe.
Now, that you’ve got a start on some of the best of the 80s cartoons, sit back and reminisce.
If you can’t find the exact 80’s cartoon you’re looking for, you might see if there’s a spinoff series for your favorite one. Transformers Prime, My Little Pony and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers are all spin offs of some of our favorites.