Whatever happened to …

… Saturday morning cartoons?

I got thinking about this when I read this article this morning.

38 Cartoons You Couldn’t Get Enough of in Kindergarten and Grade School

Ironically, I saw very few of these growing up. Saturday mornings around our house had my brother and me doing chores for our allowance. Vacuuming and cleaning the bathroom are two of the tasks that come immediately to mind. If we did finish early, we could go over to a friend’s place and watch things there.

Occasionally, there would be a cartoon special in the evening that we could watch as a treat. Television wasn’t a huge pastime for us; we were encouraged to do homework or play outside with friends.

It wasn’t until university that cartoons became a big thing! Imagine four guys in an apartment watching The Flintstones for example. And yet, I suppose that it was a release from a hard week of studying.

And yet, as I click through the slideshow, I can remember seeing all of those cartoons at least once. Later, The Simpsons would be a biggy.

For a Sunday morning, your thoughts?

  • were you a Saturday morning cartoon viewer?
  • do you have a favourite cartoon? Mine, most definitely, was The Pink Panther
  • have you ever had a cartoon character with the same name as you? (if you watched the entire slide presentation, you know that I did)
  • chances are, if you’re reading this, you have kids of your own. How much cartoon viewing are they allowed?
  • why aren’t these great cartoons available on commercial television on Saturday mornings any more? You’ll note, I hope, that there’s a link in each slide to stream them
  • what passes for cartoons on Saturday mornings these days?
  • why don’t cartoon characters have five fingers?
  • cartoon characters aren’t without their critics. Can you recall any episode that got the ire of the public?

I hope this brings back some fond childhood memories. Please consider sharing some of them with us.

This is a regular Sunday morning feature; we’re now working on the next 300 posts! You can read the first 300 here. I’m always up for suggestions for a post. Hit me up with ideas.

6 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. Good morning Doug!

    Oh boy. This is such a good “Whatever happened to…?“ that I really should draft this in a Google doc for fear of losing all that I am about to write due to a browser error. It’s happened many times before. However, perhaps I can approach this succinctly and get it submitted before a potential tragedy strikes.

    First of all, and answering the question, I’m guessing that we stopped watching television on Saturday mornings, and that’s where the cartoons went. They are probably still there, we are just not looking for them. (The other reason I have not seen Saturday morning cartoons for a decade is because I stopped subscribing to cable/television way back.) I DO know that when my sons were young (that’s going on 20 years ago), Saturday morning cartoons were still a thing. I will share some of their favourites in the sixth paragraph.

    However, first I need to reminisce about the Saturday morning cartoons from MY childhood. My two favourites from Saturday mornings where both Canadian productions from Nelvana animation Studios: Rocket Robin Hood and Spider-Man (yes, original cartoon with the “does whatever a spider can” theme song. I don’t know if you remember both of those, but if you did, you probably noticed that there were times when they shared the same backgrounds and evil bad guy (I’m thinking about those robot spiders from that planet Dementia that both Rocket Robin and Spidey battled in their own respective series — there was that skull faced guy who played the creepy music on his huge keyboard. (Seeing Spider-Man or rocket Robin Hood running in front of the rotoscope background reminds me that the same thing used to happen with Fred Flintstone.) The other cartoons that I remember fondly are the Hanna-Barbera characters: Wally gator, Touché Turtle, Snaggle Puss, and Yogi (“smarter than your average”) bear and his sidekick Boo-Boo.

    Before moving onto the favourites from my two boys, I should also reminisce about Rocketship 7 and Commander Tom. I think it was out of Buffalo? I was only able to watch that on Saturday mornings if I was visiting my cousins in Cambridge. They had a lot more channels and proximity to the US airwaves, and so there was a much wider selection to be had if we were visiting them for the weekend. I always found it fascinating that Commander Tom had robots that he talked to in between the various cartoons he would show. I would have seen perhaps half a dozen episodes of Star Trek as a kid while visiting, and would also have run across Gerry Anderson shows like Fireball XL5 and the Thunderbirds there. I saw just enough of them to whet my appetite, such that when I moved away to school in Toronto, I was ready to catch up on all of the episodes that I had missed growing up in a part of Ontario with initially only one TV station (CKNX Wingham).

    When you mention university students watching cartoons, it reminds me that there were some wonderful Japanese animé on television each morning when I was a UofT that we would watch while we were making breakfast: Danguard Ace, G-Force, Grandizer, and Voltron come to mind. They were precursors to the live-action Power Rangers, and all featured giant robots that battled the aliens or the bad guys, and typically required the team to form up their individual components into the giant mechazoid in order to win the day.

    (Before before we get to the cartoons my kids watched, I should quickly mention The Simpsons. When The Simpsons first appeared on the 90s, the show really pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable, and as a cartoon, watched by kids – – Bart Simpson normalized a lot of disrespectful behaviours and bad habits. Someone just down the road had a mailbox that was held up by a plywood cut out of Bart Simpson standing with a shotgun, and I must say I frequently shook my head each time I drove by, as the image wasn’t a positive one.

    Anyway, if we fast forward from the 70s to the early 00s, I spent a lot of time watching Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! with my boys. Both of the shows where based on/complemented with trading cards, and so watching the shows, collecting the cards, and “battling” with the cards was something both boys enjoyed. There was a dinosaur show with a main character called “Littlefoot,” and when the boys were slightly older I introduced them to Reboot (also animated by a Canadian company, this time Mainframe Entertainment out of Vancouver) which was the first computer-animated television series in the world, set inside a computer with game sprites, viruses, and in the third season, the Internet and the web. The other animated show that we all loved was Avatar: The Last Airbender. What an amazing show – beautifully animated, with wonderful stories and characters and world building.

    Looks like I’ve been able to get a chunk of reminiscencing done here in the browser. Thanks for this one, Doug! Nice memories to revisit.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember watching Saturday morning cartoons with my sister. The Flinstones and The Smurfs were my favourite! Your question about cartoons has me wondering how many would/should be reconsidered now. Stereotypes certainly run rampant in cartoons, don’t they?!

    Thanks as always for the trip down memory lane!


  3. I remember getting up at 6:30 on Saturday to watch my favourite- The Smurfs. I had a lot of favourite shows on Saturday mornings though. As soon as Land of the Lost came on I was done!

    My own children stream shows they like. No commercials, no waiting for a particular day and time, no waiting for the next season or enduring re-runs!


  4. We got up very early on Saturday. “Modern Farmer” came on before the cartoons started. We’d watch non-stop until about noon. We watched all of those on the list from the last century. (Seems funny to say that.) Later my son watched Saturday morning when he was growing up. We used to record hours and hours of them on the VCR. One family Thanksgiving when the little ones couldn’t play outside and were wild in the house we pulled out a VHS tape with about 6 hours of Saturday cartoons to entertain them. Heroes! 🙂


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