Cartoons were a huge part of our childhood when internet and gaming consoles have yet to scramble for our attention. We’d keep the television on the entire day to make sure we didn’t miss our favorites , and we’d even stay up until the late evening to watch shows we never realized weren’t exactly targeted for young audiences. But we loved them anyway because they were cartoons.
Growing up, we now realize all the hard lessons and adult humor that went over our heads back then. Here are just some of our childhood cartoons that were actually either so profound or extremely absurd.
8. Teen Titans
The “Teen Titans” fandom is still well and alive to this date especially with its less impressive kid-friendly counterpart “Teen Titans Go!” We already got hints of its dark themes, but it’s only now that we’ve surpassed adolescence when we could empathize with the characters. Themes of unrequited love, loneliness, and feelings of inferiority among plenty others were feelings we couldn’t relate to back then, but now we’re creating memes about them.
7. Hey Arnold!
Our hearts still hold a special place for “Hey Arnold!” because it made us sad and reflective for reasons we didn’t understand. The cartoon wasn’t always as cheerful and laugh-out-loud funny as other cartoons, but with every episode we connect with its characters as their stories unfolded and their personalities were given depth. And now with a “Hey Arnold!” movie in the works to seal all the unanswered questions about the cartoon, we may finally be given the closure we never realized we needed.
6. As Told By Ginger
This cartoon was the show for preteen girls on the brink of adolescence. It tackled some pretty hardcore themes like emotional breakups, depression, societal pressures, and death, which were too serious for those born within the 90s. But “As Told By Ginger” gave us a preview of teenage life and how to cope with it with as much grace and intelligence as Ginger did. We just wish we remembered all its lessons while growing up.
5. Invader Zim
Not a lot are aware of the origin of “Invader Zim”, but it was a cartoon specifically created for Nickelodeon’s older viewers. The plotline was too confusing for any kid to understand, but it was still loved for the inane humor and strangely likeable set of characters. It actually took a lot of effort for “Invader Zim”’s creator Jhonen Vasquez, who is better known for his “Johnny the Homicidal Maniac” comic books, to suppress his dark and mature writing style for a children’s show but you can still find hints of it throughout the show.
What was actually a variety show in the form of a kid’s cartoon, the “Animaniacs” religiously made social commentary, pop culture parodies and references, catchy songs, and adult content but we still found the whole series entertaining. I guess it’s just the wackiness of Yakko, Wakko, and Dot that we developed a fondness to.
3. Ren and Stimpy
This takes the cake for being the most stupid cartoon that ever aired on children’s television. It was full of sexual innuendos and vulgar humor that we most probably didn’t get as kids. If you knew this show, you most likely got up for school at 4 to 5 in the morning because your parents would never have let you watch its drivel if they were at their right minds during the day.
2. Courage the Cowardly Dog
This cartoon freaked us out back then, so we pretty much already had an idea that it wasn’t a cartoon for kids. The show still disturbs us when we catch reruns of it on Cartoon Network, but at least we can appreciate now how clever and badass Courage is despite how he looks!
1. Samurai Jack
If “Samurai Jack” had been this popular years ago, we wouldn’t have waited so long for a final season. But all was well, knowing that its young audience has grown older and more receptive to the show’s effort to be a cinematic masterpiece. “Samurai Jack” had been a perfect mix of so many things; it was profound and serious at times, and then lighthearted the next; it portrayed the same action and violence as in age-old samurai films without being too upsetting for children; and it could capture audiences of varying ages with its vivid animation, plot, and Jack himself.
The next and final season of Samurai Jack is going to air on Cartoon Network’s Toonami on March 11. Better start binge-watching the entire show now!
What other cartoons do you only realize now were actually pretty hardcore? Tell us all about them below!