What ’90s and ’00s Cartoon Network Shows Taught Me
Recalling some of the all-time favourite cartoons
The story dates back to the early ’00s when I was a kid, the time when cartoon network was CARTOON NETWORK and not CN. The shows were simply brilliant. Now looking back, its quite fascinating to realise that a lot was learned knowingly or unknowingly by watching some of those cartoons. All of those had a story to tell, maybe some of us heard it and some did not.
1. Courage the Cowardly Dog
This dog was hilarious. I mean beagles, in general, are cute, but what can beat a frightened little e pink beagle? But the show was not cute, it was scary and often disturbing. The team blended comedy and horror perfectly well into a masterpiece.
This show portrayed how much dogs care about their owners. Even though the dog was essentially a coward, he always saved his elderly owners. It gives the message of facing one’s worst fears. Coward is all about the basic nature of dogs or even humans, to care and protect our loved ones.
“The things I do for love”- Courage
2. Dexter’s Laboratory
This show is daring, funny and inspiring. It has two main characters, the boy genius Dexter and his irritating and hyperactive sister Dee Dee. Dexter is shown to be a young scientist who is always in the pursuit of world-saving inventions. The cartoon depicts dexter and his sister as opposites yet shares a very loving relationship.
The lesson here is to respect and love your siblings irrespective of the differences. If Dee Dee and Dexter could stick together, literally anyone can! It also inspires kids to create and take an interest in science and hence better the world.
“What a fine day for science” — Dexter
3. The Powerpuff Girls
The first-ever girl superheroes show I watched, yes go girls! This series had an amazing intro song, cute characters and a simple storyline. It has three main characters, Blossom (pink), Bubbles (blue), and Buttercup (green). Blossom is the commander and the leader. Bubbles is a cute little girl full of laughter and joy. Buttercup is a bit mean and also the toughest fighter. The three are different in their ways but share a common motto, to save their town from monsters.
It’s a show filled with humour, teamwork, and powers. Like any other superhero show, the theme is good triumphs over evil. The show gives great lessons on teamwork. It displays amazing father-daughter relationships and sister-sister relationships. The Powerpuff Girls are shown as strong, powerful and pretty, and it is a true inspiration for young girls.
“And we are not afraid of anything as long as we have each other” -Blossom
4. Tom and Jerry
This evergreen cartoon is unquestionably a treasure. The series features comic fights between a house cat and a mouse. The plot revolves around Tom and his tactics to catch Jerry which often ends poorly for him.
Tom and Jerry’s show is full of life lessons, each character has a role to play and a lesson to teach. The iconic pair shows that we fight more with our loved ones. Even though they might look like enemies, anybody who has seen the show would disagree, they complete each other. They often end up helping each other sometimes also pair up against a common enemy. It also teaches us not to underestimate the potential of your enemy as Jerry is shown to be well witted.
“Some relationships are like Tom & Jerry. They tease each other, knock down each other, irritate each other, but can’t live without each other.”
5. Johnny Bravo
This one was whimsical, it has been known for its adult humour and pop culture references. Johnny Bravo imitates the foolish behaviours of possibly the world’s most narcissistic, clueless babe-magnet ever. He’s tall, well build, has a crazy hairdo and wears a sunglass all the time(yes, even in bed!).
The show teaches us that it takes more than good looks to win a girl’s heart. As almost all the times the girls reject Johnny irrespective of his good looks. It also teaches self-belief and persistence, Johhny never chasing girls even after being rejected in every episode. Nor could anyone shatter his confidence ever.
“Hey baby, I can tell we both love the same things: ME!” — Johnny Bravo
This cartoon is about a sailorman who gains supernatural strength by eating spinach. Popeye is a little seaman with bulgy forearms, a squinty eye with an ever-present pipe in his mouth. He’s funny, loving and always ready to fight.
He teaches us to eat healthy by eating spinach which is the source of his energy (Thanks to Popeye, my parents could make us eat green and leafy vegetables! ). The show is also about finding your strength, just like Popeye did in his spinach. It also teaches self-love, the famous quote from Popeye hints at the same.
“I yam what I yam and dats all what I yam.” — Popeye the Sailor
Most kids of the ’90s grew up with Scooby-Doo and the team of teen mystery solvers — Fred, Daphne, Velma and Shaggy. The plot is about the team trying to solve supernatural mysteries together.
As one might notice, Scooby and Shaggy are easily scared but irrespective of that, there carry on. Bravery is Carrying On in the Face of Fear. Scooby-Doo shows that teamwork results in bigger success. In most cases, the monsters turn out to be normal humans, hence it thought us that the real monsters are Us, Humans. Also, the villains are often strangers, therefore comes the important lesson of not to trust strangers.
“Now listen up, There is absolutely no such thing as a monster” — Fred Jones
8. Ed, Edd n Eddy
It is one of the most wonderfully done slapstick cartoons ever. It’s about Ed, Edd and Eddy go on fun adventures to get money for jawbreakers. The cartoon has used a chaotic style and garish colours, which adds to the craziness the characters bring to life. The three main characters are crazy and weird.
The show tries to tell us that, it’s okay to be an outcast, you will find your people to hang out with ultimately. Even if you think you’re odd and don’t fit in, you’ll somehow end up with just the right friends eventually, like Ed, Edd and Eddy. Another one is about never giving up, even though they failed over and over again, they always came up with new and better tactics to earn some money.
“You know what they say — a little childhood trauma builds character.” — Eddy
9. Codename: Kids Next Door
The coolest gang of kids I grew up with. They were the definitions of cool. The way each character talked, walked and dressed was adorable. The series follows the adventures of a group of five kids who operate from a high-tech tree house, fighting against adult and teen villains.
This show is all against growing up, it does not encourage you to grow up, it emphasises on the importance of childhood and being carefree. The lesson passed on is the importance of living your childhood wholly and being a kid at heart.
“Just promise me one thing, that you’ll never grow up, not even if you live to be a hundred and don’t have any memories of our adventures together, you’ll still be a kid at heart”” — Numbuh 1
10. The Flintstones
The Flinstones is an all-time classic. It is set in the Stone Age with added technologies which resemble mid-20th-century. I would say, it’s more of a family show than a kids-only show.
Flinstones hold on to its core values of family and friendship. It emphasises on the importance of living a fun-filled yet meaningful life. The show also tells us how life can be enjoyable and pleasant without actual technology. How can one ever forget Fred’s trademark dialogue?
Cartoons are a form of entertainment but also a medium to pass on moral values and life lessons to the younger generation. These cartoons (and many more) were real gems, they were creative, captivating and fun. Life lessons are everywhere; they can come from anyone, anywhere, at any time and cartoons are no less.
“In the midst of the vagaries of life, they provide us a trip to the land of goodness and fairies, of imaginations and possibilities.
A childhood that wasn’t spent watching cartoons or reading comic strips, no wonder, seems too dull to imagine.”
― Sanhita Baruah
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