The great thing about classic cartoons from the 90s is that they weren’t just fun and games. They also helped shape impressionable young minds with valuable life lessons while eschewing the cheesiness of Afterschool Specials.


Cartoons like:

1. Johnny Bravo

Johnny constantly getting turned down by women regardless of his good looks and charm taught us that while confidence is a good thing, too much confidence will most likely get you punched in the face and or spat on (i.e. unsolicited and relentless flirting is not the way to go when approaching a woman).


Also, the way he would pick himself up after each rejection (like nothing embarrassing happened) helped teach that rejection is a normal part of life.

2. Scooby Doo

Scooby Doo’s first lesson was to not judge a book by its cover. Most episodes featured a red herring character who the Scooby gang always believed was responsible for whatever was going on JUST because said character was creepy looking.


Secondly, each episode of the show’s original format ended with the reveal that the monster-of-the-week was really just a human wearing a costume. The key takeaway from this was that in real life, humans are the real monsters.

3. Sponge Bob

The show about the living sponge taught about the power of positivity. In the face of disasters hitting Bikini Bottom, Mr Krab’s annoying penny pinching, and Squidward’s eternal funk, Spongebob was always so damn positive. Something we need more of in the world today.

4. Powerpuff Girls

Powerpuff Girls was all about girl power and the fact that sometimes, big things do come in little packages. It also worked hard to destroy the concept of gender stereotypes. Here’s a conversation the girls had when trying to figure out the gender of a new neighbour based on the their property and Bubbles was being hella unwoke.

5. Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner

Wile E. Coyote is the dictionary definition of perseverance. Could he have tried eating some other animal? Yes. Did that ever occur to him? Occasionally (he tried eating Bugs Bunny a couple of times). But he was so intent on catching the Road Runner that he spent 3 DECADES going after it, gravely injuring himself in the process with his numerous malfunctioning contraptions.


And his perseverance paid off in the end. A lot of people don’t know this but he actually caught the Road Runner in an episode of the show released in 1980.


Then this happened:

6. Ed, Edd n Eddy

Watching Ed, Edd, and Eddy spend the better part of their teenage years trying (and failing) to scam their friends and family out of money to buy candy taught us all that NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN SECURING THE BAG.

7. Captain Planet

Mostly primary coloured superhero, Captain Planet, and his impossibly racially diverse group of Planeteers set out every episode to stop villains who were hell-bent on destroying the Earth via various environmentally unsafe activities (e.g. deforestation, poaching, pollution etc).


A bit more obvious about its intentions than the other shows on this list, the show taught kids about environmentalism by showing the dangers of activities harmful to the environment using the typical monster-of-the-week format. It even explored themes like drug abuse and HIV/AIDS discrimination, topics no kids show at the time would’ve touched with a 6-foot pole.


The most exciting thing to come out of the religious genre since Mel Gibson’s “The Torture Passion of the Christ,” this show taught me that the Butterfly Effect is a scam. If I ever get my hands on a time machine, I am going to the past to intentionally fuck shit up, confident that, like Yuri and Gizmo’s adventures in biblical times, it will have no effect on my present/future.


Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.