It’s time to give thanks.
The 80s were the best decade to grow up in. We celebrate their bounty by looking back at yet another treasure that made the decade great: the cartoon opening themes. Here are the 9 80s cartoon intros we are most thankful for (and why):
Memorable quote/lyric: “Fighting crime.. in a future time. Protecting Empire City from Big Boss and his gang of crooks.”
How you knew it was f*ckin’ GO TIME: That horny music. OK, so maybe I’m using “horny” wrong here, but that’s how I described the C.O.P.S. theme song when I was a kid. I was 12, and a little naive: I came home from school one day and asked my mom what a “pimp” was. I wasn’t trying to put her on the spot, I just knew it had something to do with either acne or Gladys Knight, and I wanted to connect the dots.
Anyway, when you heard that “horny” instrumental that was typical of a procedural police drama, you felt like you were watching something above your age range, and it was magical.
Memorable quote/lyric: “Wings of silver, nerves of steel. Partly metal, partly real.. Silverhawks!”
How you knew it was f*ckin’ GO TIME: Twice. First, when Steelheart flips her facial shield down with the swipe of her hand (WHOA) and then Quicksilver follows suit and they fly into action. The Silverhawks were ready for interstellar adventure, try not to piss your pants, kid.
Second, at the :42 mark when they show the evil lair and Mon*Star transforming from nasty beast to even nastier metal beast. You knew this felt familiar (since you had seen Mumm-Ra go through a similar situation) but Mon*Star was like Hordak to Mumm-Ra’s Skeletor. Sure, the original arch enemy was scary, but we were over it by then. This is a totally new bad guy. Crap, you pissed your pants again. Get it together man!
Memorable quote/lyric: “Masked crusaders working overtime, fighting crime. FIGHTING CRIME!” Did you get that? Fighting crime.
How you knew it was f*ckin’ GO TIME: As the lyric “Trakker’s gonna lead the mission” plays, an overhead door opens to reveal an entire garage full of bat-shit, laser-balls insane 80s greatness.
Memorable quote/lyric: “Feel the magic, hear the roar, Thundercats are loose!” For a song that features the word ‘thunder’ 23 times in its first 53 seconds, it was shockingly not annoying. If you think if it as part of the beat, it kind of turns into the Ultimate Warrior’s entrance theme but with words.
How you knew it was f*ckin’ GO TIME: When Panthro leaps into the air whipping those rad nunchucks around and you try to construct your own pair out of two paper towel tubes and some yarn but the tape breaks so you try to staple it but you end up crying. Just me?
5. Scooby Doo: Where Are You?
I realize this theme originated in 1969, but it played a big part (nightmare-wise, primarily) in the lives of children of the 80s.
Memorable quote/lyric: “Scooby Dooby Doo, I see you, pretendin’ you got a sliver” (Like THAT was going to get him out of phantom hunting duty.)
How you knew it was f*ckin’ GO TIME: Based on the line “And Scooby Doo if you come through you’re gonna have yourself a Scooby Snack (that’s a fact)”, you knew this dog was THE TITS.
“Holy hell,” you thought, “all my dog has to do to get a treat is make in the yard. Scooby doesn’t get a treat unless he foils elaborate and terrifying criminal plots. My dog is a failure.”
Memorable quote/lyric: “The Transformers, more than meets the eye.”
How you knew it was f*ckin’ GO TIME: When you finally mastered that “Autobots wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons” lyric with the herky jerky syllabic cadence and you would proudly sing along while dropkicking every couch pillow in the neighborhood.
3. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero
Memorable quote/lyric: “G.I. Joe is the code name for America’s daring, highly trained special mission force-” STOP. You had me at ‘America’.
How you knew it was f’in GO TIME: When Bazooka, Footloose and Roadblock toss Destro around like he’s your stuffed Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase WWF Wrestling Buddy. Seriously, Destro was yolked. These guys must be hardcore to be able to just pick him up and throw him. Nine year-old adrenaline ENGAGED.
2. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
Memorable quote/lyric: “Fabulous secret powers were revealed to me the day I held aloft my magic sword and JESUS CHRIST HOW DO ANY OF US HAVE JOBS OR PEOPLE WHO LOVE US” (I might have that last bit of copy wrong there).
How you knew it was f’in GO TIME: When He-Man said “Only three others share this secret” – 8 year old you felt SO included in that exclusive club. He said “SECRET”!!
Memorable quote/lyric: “From days of long ago, from uncharted regions of the universe… comes a legend.”
How you knew it was f’in GO TIME: The line: “…until a new, horrible menace threatened the galaxy. Voltron was needed once more.” I’m not even lying: I just got a little chill when I typed that (probably because I typed it in Peter Cullen’s voice).
When we break the wishbone this year, my wish (at the risk of jinxing it by sharing publicly) is going to be that all voiceover television intros in history are retrofitted with Peter Cullen’s voice (notable examples to imagine: My Name is Earl, “This! is.. Jeopardy!“, the SNL intros).