Top 5 80s Cartoon Reboots
For fans of 80s cartoons like me, the current wave of nostalgia shows no signs of stopping. That can be a great thing, because there's this resurgence of the shows we used to watch, targeting newer generations while playing towards the older fans. It can be a bad thing as well as some new takes on old properties are disappointing or downright terrible. It's a shame because some resurrection attempts forget to include the aspects that made the originals so well-liked, but when they get it just right, we get something really special. For this list, I'm going to look at my favorite reboots of the cartoons I loved as a kid. Ones that captured the spirit of the original and maybe in some cases lift it above the source material.
5. Extreme Ghostbusters
I've never understood why this show isn't more loved. Instead of just being a new adaptation of the movies or the previous cartoons, it followed up on the Real Ghostbusters with Egon and Janine mentoring a younger team of Ghostbusters. I thought the newer members were a good fit for the show, but the best parts are when it made connections with the previous series, including Kylie's own history with the Grundel, a ghost captured during the original show, and the appearance of the rest of the first team in the series finale, putting both groups together. The interaction between the two is so fun and the fact that they got the original cast members back made me giddy.
4. She-Ra and the Princess of Power
As much as I loved He-Man, I was never as big a fan of his twin sister. My favorite episodes of her show were when He-Man or Orko would come over and help her stop Hordak, or when Skeletor would meddle in Etheria. I didn’t know how I’d like a show that separated itself completely from He-Man, but it turned out I didn’t have to worry. The five seasons of She-Ra’s new show were incredibly well done and built connections between characters that were never there before. It gave them flaws and desires and treated them like real people, which was a 180 from the source material. Catra and Adora’s relationship ruled the show and was done so well, but my favorite was Entrapta and Hordak, how she didn’t care that he was evil as long as she got to work on tech, but was able to turn him away from the Horde. I wish the rest of the Princesses had more to do in the series, but overall I can’t complain too much about that.
3. Voltron: Legendary Defender
I was never that big a fan of the original series, but I love this reboot, which uses computer animation to bring Voltron to life, and the excellent animation studio that worked on the Legend of Korra to make everything else. It's a fantastic update explaining the origin of the team and their robots, an overarching storyline instead of monster-of-the-week formula, and a few surprises thrown in to keep the show fresh. Since I’m updating this list long after the show’s completion, I have to mention the last season, which gets super trippy, having the team somehow go back in time spiritually, meeting the original Voltron paladins, and stopping Minerve from destroying all of time itself. It got a bad rap from a lot of viewers who thought it went off the deep end, but I honestly enjoyed it and love that it tried something new by going so far, making Voltron a real universal defender.
2. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
Originally, this list included the 200X He-Man reboot, which I thought was great. It took the cheesier aspects of the original show in a more serious direction and fleshed out a ton of ideas that the original just didn’t bother with. But I thought the show was firmly stuck in the 2000’s style with over-the-top action scenes where everyone can jump 20 feet in the air and do a bunch of useless spins. It was the best we had though, so of course, I watched it all. But then Netflix released two new He-Man shows, one a continuation of the original (which I thought was pretty fucking terrible) and a new adaptation for the younger generation. I think it’s pretty damned good, giving us a reason that it’s called MasterS of the Universe. Instead of updating old ideas, it reinvents them, giving us a whole team of good guys and bad guys that get magical upgrades. Everything feels new yet familiar enough, which was more than the 200X series could do. Some things feel a tad too goofy, like a giant dragonfly named Gary and voiced by Bobcat Goldthwait, but it shines with the interactions between the good guys and bad guys that aren’t strictly fighting. And for me, the new Skeletor is the best we’ve ever gotten, you can tell the character and the voice actor are really enjoying themselves.
1. Transformers: Animated
I could have easily made this about the top Transformers reboots because there have been over a dozen iterations of the battle between the Autobots and Decepticons. It started with the CGI Beast Wars in the 90s and a new series has been coming out every year or two since then. There have been high points and low points - the Unicron Trilogy being the worst of the worst - but for me, the best one so far has been Transformers Animated. What we have here is the biggest change-up of a tired formula. Optimus Prime is no longer the commander of the Autobots, but a disgraced leader of a small salvage and repair crew. The Great War is over and everyone believes the Decepticons to be destroyed. Optimus and Co. find themselves on Earth where Megatron's head has been brought back online by a human scientist. It's an incredibly fresh set-up, voiced by a great cast, and has a surprisingly dark backstory. Like GI Joe Renegades, it benefits from fewer but more fleshed-out characters. I won't deny that the new art style (which I love) is controversial, and the increased importance on the human cast, including human villains the Autobots need to fight, can be a bit distracting, but overall, this is the best series we've had since the original because of how different it tries to be from its predecessors. Sometimes changes don't work out, but in this case, it succeeds brilliantly.