in ,

Keeping Childhood Memories Alive: Cartoon Favorites

I watched cartoons all the time growing up. Hundreds and hundreds of cartoon characters come to my mind when I go over my memories of sitting in front of the television, eating pizza on a TV tray and enjoying my favorite cartoons for hours. It’s funny how, even if years have gone by since I’ve seen an episode, I instantly recall it if it’s mentioned in passing.

Watching cartoons now brings me just as much joy as it did then—perhaps even more so. It’s a break from everything, instantly lifting my mood, and a reminder of happy memories. I get back in touch with my inner child, something I cherish deeply because I never want to be too serious or adult-like—where’s the fun in that? Watching cartoons makes me a kid again, sending me back to my living room in my childhood home and off to entertainment and nonsensical cartoon situations.

SpongeBob SquarePants

The first few seasons are absolutely the best. Watching them lately, I can’t believe the amount of adult humor I can detect now; it makes it even funnier in my opinion. SpongeBob and Patrick were definitely my favorites; Sandy, too. SpongeBob was typically carefree and happy, but would freak out if he’d been caught doing something he knew was wrong (like playing on the hooks) or otherwise made a mistake. I could relate to him on that.

Patrick was just hysterical every waking moment. He has so many great quotes and moments, singing “leedle leedle leedle lee” aboard the Flying Dutchman’s ship or declaring “Finland!” upon being hit in the head with a bowling ball. He really is off in his own little world, and is totally content blowing bubbles or throwing snowballs with SpongeBob all day (until Squidward puts an end to it, anyway).

SpongeBob holding up a perfect snowball for Patrick, who looks happy with Squidward's house in the background

I used to think Squidward was grouchy and mean. Older and wiser now, I understand him far better as an adult than as a kid, and he’s become another beloved character in my book. Though I don’t want to be the kind of grown-up he is; I’d like to keep a happy-go-lucky and cheery SpongeBob mindset. I might not wake up at dawn and cry, “I’m ready!”, but I’m working on it.

I loved Sandy’s badass tendencies. She was Texas tough without a doubt, ready to kick butt with rope, karate, or whatever she had on hand. She was an intelligent squirrel living under the sea—what’s not to love? She put SpongeBob in his place a time or two, but when it came down to it, she was a great friend. As long as you don’t wake her up in the winter, or get stuck in her house and strip off her fur for warmth, you should be good. We saw what she did to “Pinhead Larry” and “Dirty Dan.” I’m inwardly cringing just thinking about it.

It’s an impressive feat that SpongeBob is still on the air today. It’s the characters that keep the show going; people fall in love with them, connect to them, and get genuine laughs out of their adventures and plights alike. I thought it was the coolest thing to see a cast of wildly different characters living under the sea in “Bikini Bottom”; the creativity featured on the show is clever and awe-inspiring, and has definitely made its impact on cartoon history.

The Justice League

I was a major fan of The Justice League. I had the backpack, the pencil case, the pencils, the erasers–when school came back into session, most of my school supplies were Justice League oriented. I preferred The Justice League over its rebranded Justice League Unlimited—I just loved the original seven founders and their adventures more, though I did watch Unlimited at the time too.

It was my first introduction to famous heroes like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman has always been one of my favorite superheroes; I dressed up as her for Halloween as a kid and became a fan of the Lynda Carter series from the 1970s. I even had Wonder Woman in doll form, alongside Supergirl and Hawkgirl.

Martian Manhunter, Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Flash, Hawkgirl and Green Lantern stand together

There was nothing these seven couldn’t conquer. The episodes covered their missions and saving the world, but it was also about their friendships and their lives, too. I enjoyed the romantic tension between Batman and Wonder Woman, I loved watching Flash joke around, and I loved watching them all come together to solve the world’s problems and emerge victorious. I was as devastated as they were when, at the end of The Justice League, Hawkgirl betrays them. Though she does ultimately come through for the League, the damage has already been done and she resigns without hearing how their vote turned out. I felt there was a lot left unsaid there, so I was glad when their story continued into Unlimited. 

In any case, there were many opportunities to get to know each of the superheroes, even featuring arch enemies like Lex Luthor and The Joker on the show. The entire team were all my heroes; I related to each of them in different ways, and I loved seeing them come together to make the world a better place, sacrificing without a second thought. I wanted to grow up to be as selfless and caring as they were; they are forever an inspiration.

My Dad The Rockstar

Willy Zilla always wanted a normal life, and he finally gets the life he dreams of when his family lands in Silent Springs. Settling down, living life outside of the tour bus, which they’d been living out of as his dad was a rockstar, performing around the world, was a new chapter for the Zilla family, and each of them adjusted in their own distinctive and oftentimes hilarious ways. I was the complete opposite of Willy; I dreamed of traveling the world and experiencing new things; I related more to Willy’s parents than I did Willy or his sister Serenity.

I was a die-hard fan as soon as the show premiered in 2003. Like Danny Phantom, this show was cut off in its prime. The cartoon was created by Gene Simmons of KISS; it doesn’t get any cooler than that.

Rock wearing sunglasses looking to be in mid-sentence, Crystal smiling and holding up her hands, Serenity looking bored with her hands on her hips, Willy looking sad in My Dad the Rockstar

If anything, this show ignited my dream to live an extraordinary kind of life, one where I could be 110 percent myself, and have the house with an art gallery, a music studio, a library with a window seat and secret bookcase, alongside a dumbwaiter and one of those laundry chutes you could maybe use as a slide…but I digress.

Rock and Crystal, Willy’s parents, were my idols on the show. They were both completely themselves, always up to something (like Crystal using a window to get into the house or a determined-looking Rock heading to his son’s school on his bike to take back his gold record) and they didn’t care what anyone else thought of them.

Just the way they look and dress, you can tell they’re eccentric and unique, but that only made me love them more. They’re good parents, loving their kids unconditionally, and they bring their own energies and personalities to the table. Rock with his love for rock music and his precious gold record, and Crystal’s spiritualism and tranquil nature seem like polar opposites, but they balance each other out. It taught me a new perspective when it came to relationships, and the show in its entirety gave me dreams and goals to shoot for from a young age. I’ve long been taught by my family that reaching goals take time and hard work; the show reiterated that lesson. Rock and Crystal have a great work ethic and partnership, and while they gave me things to shoot for, they also showed me what it took to fulfill my dreams.

Danny Phantom

I love shows with superheroes. I always have, always will. Danny was a new kind of superhero; one with ghost powers. He was only fourteen when he acquired his powers, so he had to simultaneously learn to control them while navigating the woes of being a teenager. His struggles with popularity, social acceptance, and being embarrassed by his parents are relatable on some level.

Danny, Sam and Tucker kneeling on the floor underneath a table

I personally loved his corny comebacks, especially “Oh yeah? You and what toaster?”, and every time he called Vlad a “fruitloop.” Vlad himself could be the very definition of that. Danny and his adventures helped me through a difficult time in my life; he was my hero in that way. I loved watching him navigate the Ghost Zone and its residents, keeping his own hometown of Amity Park safe and secure, despite them calling him “Inviso-Bill” and basically hating him, especially after Walker pulled his stunt to turn Danny’s own town against him. Danny could get too cocky and make mistakes, but the thing is, he always learned from his mistakes and became better for it.

Though split between two worlds as half-human, half-ghost, Danny found a way to belong in both. He embraced his uniqueness, with Sam’s help, of course. I’ve always thought the show ended far too soon, but at least it ended with Danny as a hero to the entire world, and with Danny and Sam finally getting together. She and Tucker were his support system, always there for him, and even if Danny strayed too far into the popular crowd, they still had his back. The three were all different from each other, but they were the best of friends, proving that friendship knows no differences or boundaries. The show, through Danny, Sam, and Tucker, showed that it was okay to be different, to be who you were because at the end of the day, it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. Even though they were outsiders at their high school, they didn’t let it affect them, or at least, affect them for long. They were busy fighting ghosts, being themselves, and having the times of their lives.

The show was about adventure, friendship and family, but it also was a portrayal of a unique hero that had his flaws, yet acknowledged them and learned to fix his mistakes accordingly. Danny Phantom holds a special place in my heart, eternally a hero that was perhaps shoved into the role far too early, but found a way to make the world a better place, and in turn, made him a better person.

Scooby-Doo

It’s the first cartoon I remember watching. I love, love, love Scooby. I think he’s the reason I love mysteries so much, why I’ve grown into a true crime fan, and why I love cartoons the way I do. Scooby was my introduction to the cartoon world, and from there it’s transformed into full-blown cartoon mania from childhood to adulthood.

The 1969 cartoon recently reached its fiftieth anniversary, and it’s had several spin-offs and films ever since. I’ve seen pretty much everything, except Scoob!, which is on my to-do list. I was a devoted fan, watching The New Scooby-Doo Movies, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, The Scooby-Doo Show, What’s New, Scooby-Doo? and more over the years.

Scooby and Shaggy in a mining car being chased by the Miner Forty-Niner, who is right behind them

I loved the animated films too; Scooby-Doo! And The Legend of the Vampire, Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders, Aloha, Scooby-Doo, Scooby-Doo! and the Witch’s Ghost and Scooby-Doo! and the Loch Ness Monster are some of my favorites. I loved the characters they met across the shows and films, including The Hex Girls, Crystal and Amber, The Mummy, The Miner Forty-Niner, The Creeper, The Harlem Globetrotters, the casts of Jeannie and Speed Buggy, and even Sonny and Cher themselves.

I always wanted to be Daphne; purple was my favorite color. A favorite episode in my house was “Scooby-Doo and a Mummy, Too”; for whatever reason my brother and I loved watching the mummy chase after the gang uttering “coin, coin”, and we’d play a game based upon that episode.

I love so many things about Scooby and the gang. I love that no matter where they went, they found a mystery to unravel, and they helped people. No matter what, they always caught the bad guy; a world where the bad guys always lose is definitely a world I want to live in. Scooby made everything fun and light-hearted, especially given his antics, like faking an illness to get out of solving a mystery or requiring a Scooby Snack to do what his friends had asked, only for Shaggy to steal it every so often. Shaggy and Scooby together are definitely #friendshipgoals. Each member of the Scooby gang brought their own talents and quirks to the table, making for a dynamic team that worked well with one another.

Avatar

Written by Kacie Lillejord

Kacie is a freelance writer versed in various forms. She loves pop culture, screenwriting, novels, and poetry. She has previously written for The Daily Wildcat, Harness Magazine, Cultured Vultures, and Screen Rant, with 25YL being her newest writing venture.

Leave a Reply

donuts with blood splatters

Damn Fine Coffee, and Hot!

Ronette walks across a bridge

The Sweetest-Smelling Job She’d Ever Had