The Infallible Babyface: The 16 Best 80s Cartoon Good Guys

by Howie Decker @HowardTheDeck on August 27, 2012

in Television, The 80s

Let’s get right to this:


16. Herc Armstrong (Inhumanoids) voiced by Kevin Richardson

The leader of Earth Corps and humanity’s only hope against the evil Inhumanoids. One of the only 80s cartoons named for the villains of the story, Inhumanoids was a Sunbow/Marvel cartoon and a Hasbro toy property.


15. Jayce (Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors) voiced by Darrin Baker

Leader of the Lightning League, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors was a DIC Entertainment show created to market Mattel’s “Wheeled Warriors” toy line. Mill Creek Entertainment recently released Vol. 1 of the show on DVD.


14. Ace McCloud (Centurions) voiced by Neil Ross

Originally a three man team, no one member was technically considered the leader. However, we all knew the score. Ace was the man here- the leader of the only force that could stop Doc Terror!


13. She-Ra (She-Ra: Princess of Power) voiced by Melendy Britt

He-Man’s twin sister Adora was the defender of the Crystal Castle. She also had fabulous secrets revealed to her (see below). Her arch-enemy Hordak was by far one of the coolest villains in all of 80s cartoons.


12. Rick Hunter (Robotech) voiced by Tony Oliver

A young pilot who matures into a respected military commander, Rick Hunter defends Earth from the Zantraedi, commanding the SDF-1’s fighter squadron.


11. Baldwin P. “Bulletproof” Vess (C.O.P.S.) voiced by Ken Ryan

Leading the Central Organization of Police Specialists, B.P. protects Empire City from mobsters like Big Boss and Buttons McBoomBoom. A fun show and great toy line that don’t get their due.


10. Jerrica Benton (Jem) voiced by Britta Phillips/Samantha Newark

Let’s see, some words to describe Jem: excitement, adventure, glamour & glitter, fashion & fame, outrageous. No one else is the same! For every evil plot the Misfits concocted, Jem and the Holograms were there to foil them.


9. Keith (Voltron) voiced by Neil Ross

The best five-person team in the history of cartoons, the Voltron Lions were a force to be reckoned with. Saddled with the uneasy task of defending the universe (no big deal, we got this), Voltron’s leader was the cool and collected Keith, pilot of the Black Lion.


8. Quicksilver (Silverhawks) voiced by Peter Newman

Partly metal, partly real – the SilverHawks were “a rainbow in the night”. Led by Quicksilver (Lt. Jonathan Quick), they defended Limbo from the evil Mon*Star (the only villain with an asterisk in his name) and his inter-galactic gangsters.


7. Matt Trakker (M.A.S.K.) voiced by Doug Stone

We all knew very early on (:23 into the theme song) who was going to lead M.A.S.K.’s mission, and it was Matt Trakker. This still ranks as one of my favorite cartoons and toy lines of the 80s, which is why we at UnderScoopFire so staunchly support the work of Jason & Wyatt at Mask Movie.


6. Leonardo (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) voiced by Cam Clarke

I struggled mightily with this one. Has Leo ever officially been deemed the leader of the TMNT, or did we just put him there because he has the coolest weapons? (sai, nunchuk & bow staff fans need not comment) Regardless, they’re the world’s most fearsome fighting team, and no matter who we declare leader would have to occupy this list. I see Splinter as more of a mentor than a leader. Sorry, still working this one out in my head.


5. Lion-O (Thundercats) voiced by Larry Kenney

Lion-O is one of the few heroes that has transcended the 80s. With a much higher rate of name recognition among non-18-49 year old males than most of the characters on this list, Lion-O and his fellow Thundercats protected Thundera from the ancient spirits of evil harnessed by Mumm-Ra. Equipped with a catchy theme song and an iconic battle cry, Lion-O and his friends were rebooted in cartoon form in 2011 and are constantly the subject of Hollywood movie rumors.


4. Duke (G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero) voiced by Michael Bell/Ted Harrison

While we all monitored the constant power struggle atop the Cobra hierarchy, the leadership of G.I. Joe was one of the most contentious of any 80s cartoon team. Duke was the clear leader in the first season, only to be replaced by General Hawk as time wore on. By the time Sgt. Slaughter arrived on the scene, it seemed as if he led every mission and all Joes answered to him. Regardless, Duke lives on as the true leader of the Joes in every incarnation since the 80s.


3. He-Man (Masters of the Universe) voiced by John Erwin

Prince of Eternia, defender of the secrets of Castle Grayskull. Fabulous secret powers were revealed to him the day he held aloft his magic sword. Regardless of what he did in his personal time, He-Man was a morally solid leader and a good role model for children of the 80s.


2. Superman (Super Friends/SuperFriends The Legendary Super Powers Show) voiced by Danny Dark

Superman has a bit of an unfair advantage here, being Superman and all. That said, the criteria was “leader of an 80s cartoon good guy team” and Kal-El fits the bill. For many, this version of Superman is their default, as he was so solidly portrayed throughout the show’s various runs by the same voice talent, Danny Dark. For so many children of the 80s, this was the Superman that brought all of our comic books and action figures to life.


1. Optimus Prime (Transformers) voiced by Peter Cullen

The Autobots waged their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons, and we all know who led them into that battle week in and week out. Brought to life by iconic voice actor Peter Cullen, Optimus Prime was the strongest, coolest, most innovative hero of the 80s. Whereas various barbarians and military leaders came before He-Man and Duke, Optimus Prime was like nothing most of us had seen. The Hasbro version of Optimus was more playset than action figure, and was a must own for any collector.



Who did we miss? Thundarr the Barbarian? Peter Venkman from The Real Ghostbusters? Let us know in the comments!



@eclectik August 8, 2012 at 1:13 am

Spider-man (Amazing Friends)
Mark (G Force)
Hank, the Ranger (D&D)
Papa Smurf
Riff Raff
Cyclops (X Men)
Hulk Hogan (Rock n Wrestling)

Jason G August 9, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Papa Smurf is def top 16.

Saber Rider and Captain N honorable mention.

More0_0Than August 8, 2012 at 8:13 am

Mako- Tiger Sharks (Yes I know it’s a TC rip off)
Bionic-1- Bionic-6
Leoric- Visionaries
Derek Wildstar- Star Blazers
Zandor- The Herculoids

Dex (@Dex1138) August 8, 2012 at 11:48 am

Even though the show was named for him, I wouldn’t consider Thundarr the leader of his little group. If anything, it would be Ariel since she’s the smart one out of the three…although she did seem to get hjerself in trouble frequently.

Lamar the Revenger August 8, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Good list. Better add Mr. T, Allstar (Snorks) Hulk Hogan (Rock & Wrestling) & and Kermit (Muppet Babies)

Classick Material August 8, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Let me end the debate once and for all….


Awesome list.

MeisterShake August 8, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Max Ray was the Centurions leader! Also how could we leave Commander Dirk Courage (Spiral Zone) off the list!?

T2H August 9, 2012 at 12:12 am

What of Terry Bollea, of Hulk Hogan’s Rock N’ Wrestling?

T2H August 9, 2012 at 12:13 am

And who could forget Marta Morrendes, aka Martika, of KIDS Incorporated?
Baxter from the Great Space Coaster?
Jordan from NKOTB?

T2H August 9, 2012 at 12:14 am

Penni from Inspector Gadget?

Jason G August 9, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Thanks as always for the M.A.S.K. Movie shout-out!!
I think Matt Trakker is just about the right position on this list…although I think one laser blast from Thunderhawk would turn Leonardo into turtle soup (SHHH!! Don’t tell ShezCrafti!!)

David Schmitt September 20, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Captain Avatar and Derek Wildstar for Starblazers. Derek for the return trip to Earth and the Comet Empire story but Avatar clearly was the de facto leader when the Argo left Earth headed to distant Iscandar.. Also the re-make is one of the best re-makes I’ve seen since Battlestar Galactica.

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