Nowadays, despite the content, a lot of the cartoons on TV end up appealing to both genders and various age groups – but that wasn’t always the case. Many of us hid our affection for such awesome shows as Sailor Moon because of their labeling as a “girls shows,” with some series even being branded as too girly for even girls to admit liking – but I say, no more!
The Olympics may have recently given the world a healthy dose of manly (and womanly) feats of strength – but now the time has come for the everyday man to prove his intestinal fortitude by proudly standing up and confessing to some of our hidden cartoon loves.
Original Run: 1985 – 1988
Number of Episodes: 100 + 3 Related Movies
The Story: Alright, at first glance this may seem like a fairly gender neutral series, but trust me, even at the tender age of six, rocking a Care Bears lunch box to school was a great way to get a toilet bowl face wash. (Don’t ask me how I know.)
The Care Bears originally started off as greeting card characters created by American Greetings back in 1981. The TV series we all know (and secretly love) didn’t kick off ’til 1985, following a few warmhearted movie specials, but later became a huge market success. The weak premise – small talking bears whose primary goal was to spread love to the world – may sound like cheesy hippie nonsense, but as a kid you really don’t tend to remember that.
In December 1983, American Greetings lost a lawsuit against Easter Unlimited, who created similar toys known as “Message Bears.” According to New York City judge Leonard B. Sand, the Message Bears lacked the “heart-shaped ‘toushee tags'” used to identify the Care Bears.
Fun Fact: To keep the Care Bears secret until they were ready to be advertised, American Greetings called them “Project II” because Care Bears were the second group of characters American Greetings created – the first being the well-known and hugely successful Strawberry Shortcake.
Original Run: 2002 –2007
Number of Episodes: 87 + 2 Related TV Movies
The Stitch: Kim Possible was tagged as the girl that could do anything! Well, except for fly, read minds or any other thing that requires superpowers – but she was cool nonetheless. Kim Possible (Christy Carlson Romano) is a high school cheerleader who became a crime-fighter due to a typo on her babysitting Website. Joined by her quasi-useless sidekick Ron Stoppable (Will Friedle) and her Tech-hermit, Wade (Tahj Mowry), Kim travels the world punching in the evil faces of mutants, mad-scientists and megalomaniacs – while still making it back in time for Mr.Barkin’s first period gym class.
The Emmy Award-winning series was the brainchild of screenwriters Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley, who claim they created the show in an elevator. As they both tell it, McCorkle turned to Schooley and said, “Kim Possible: she can do anything.“ To which Schooley immediately replied, “Her partner is Ron Stoppable: he can’t do anything”.
Kim Possible currently holds the title of the longest-running Disney Channel Original Series in terms of duration, airing for five years and three months.
Fun Fact: Neil Patrick Harris (Before his How I Met Your Mother revival) auditioned for the role of Ron Stoppable.
Original Run: 1997-1999
Number of Episodes: 26 + 2 Related Movies
The Story: Created by Swedish author and screenwriter Astrid Lindgren in 1945, Pippi Longstocking is your typical guy’s girl – except with super strength. After initially being rejected by its first publisher, the original Pippi Longstocking books later bred many shows and movies featuring the plucky ginger daughter of an old sea captain – including the much-loved 1997 animated movie, which spun off into the series’ first animated TV show.
While not as popular as the film (which was highly praised for its original music) The 1997 Pippi cartoon followed the story of Pippi returning home from adventures at seas to Villa Villekulla, along with her pet horse and her monkey, Mr. Nilsson, to wait for her father. While at first the townsfolk are less than thrilled to have the uneducated wild child back in the community, they soon warm up to her sweet and refreshingly honest nature.
Fun Fact: Pippi’s full name is: Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim’s Daughter Longstocking (try saying that 10 times fast!)
Original Run: 1984 – 1987
Number of Episodes: 63 + 8 Related Specials
The Story: Bred from Hasbro’s less-colorful My Pretty Pony toy series, My Little Pony was one of the most popular collectibles in the 1980s. Hailing from the magical Ponyland, which is home to all kinds of magical creatures, The Little Ponies live peacefully in their Paradise Estate. Between merry song and playful games, The Little Ponies like to spend their time hoof-stomping the odd Ogre, Troll or Witch that try to destroy or enslave them.
There are many out there that think the idea of prancing pretty ponies is solely a girls domain, but an ever-growing subgroup known as “Bronies” would say a collective “Neyyyy!” to that! A blended of “bro” and “pony,” Bronies hold a fan convention known as BroNYCon every few months in New York City. In just one year, BroNYCon has shot up from a mere 100 to a whopping 4000+ attendees, and has even featured special celebrity guests like voice acting superstar Tara Strong and Star Trek’s John de Lancie.
Fun Fact: There was a set of male My Little Pony toys marketed to boys in 1986. In North America they were called Big Brother Ponies (Adventure Boy Ponies in the UK). The Big Brother ponies are larger than other ponies, and have shaggy hooves like Clydesdale horses.
Original Run: 2000 – 2002 (North American)
Number of Episodes: 70 + 3 Related Specials
The Story: 10-year-old Sakura Avalon’s life changes forever when she unintentionally releases the mystical Clow Cards from an ancient and magical book. Each Clow Card holds a powerful and somewhat dangerous spirit, each with its own unique and remarkable powers. Now unleashed in the real world, Sakura (as the one who let them out) takes up the mantel of Card Captor and must “seal” each spirit back into card-form before it can wreak too much havoc.
Cardcaptors first aired in the US on Kids’ WB in June of 2000, and like a lot of Japanese anime was heavily edited, with episodes being reordered or even left out entirely. The editing to the original dub was done to remove controversial subjects such as same-sex relationships, and to refocus the series to be more action oriented to appeal to male viewers, as they were seen as the largest audience of animation at the time.
Fun Fact: There’s a Dragon Ball Z connection: The English voice actors that played Sakura’s dad and best friend Madison also voiced the English versions of Vegeta and Bulma, respectively, in the popular Dragon Ball series.
Original Run: 2001 – 2010, 2013 –
Number of Episodes: 156 + 1 Related Movie + 1 Related Spin-Off
The Story: Produced by Franco-Canadian company Marathon Production, Totally Spies! follows the glamorous missions of three teenage valley-girls (Sam, Alex, and Clover) turned stylish super-spies. The dynamic team combats global terrorism on behalf of clandestine spy agency, The World Organization of Human Protection (or W.O.O.H.P.), which is led by the British founder and administrator known only as “Jerry”.
The series currently sits at five seasons as of 2010, with a full-length animated film, which hit French theaters in 2009. Cartoon Network aired the first four seasons in the US, but the contract expired, preventing the channel from airing the show’s fifth season. Due to the show’s success, Cartoon Network re-licensed Totally Spies! and its spin-off, The Amazing Spiez! for €16 million ($21.5 million US), as well as Totally Spies! The Movie, for another $20 million US. In December 2011, Marathon announced that the series will be continued with Season 6, to air in 2013.
If you think about it, this could actually be a cool live-action movie if executed correctly. The comedic mix of action, loveable characters and strong storylines has worked well for the popular animated franchise, and could easily translate well to the big screen.
Fun Fact: Seasons 3–4 featured a willful super computer called G.L.A.D.I.S. whose ability to annoy Jerry and the girls was added as comedic relief – but her ability to annoy fans caused so many overwhelming complaints that she was written out of the series entirely.
Original Run: 1985 – 1986
Number of Episodes: 96 + 1 Related Special + 1 Related Series
The Story: Anyone who thinks girls can’t fight in a miniskirt and heels should talk to She-Ra. A spin-off of the popular He-Man and The Masters of the Universe, She-Ra revolves around the adventures of Adora and the Great Rebellion, as they battle against Hordak and the Evil Horde. Stolen as a baby from the kingdom of Eternia by Hordak, Adora not only never knew her family, she actually fought against them as a member of the Evil Horde. Now free of Hordak’s thrall, she reunites with her brother He-Man to fight evil by taking up the title of She-Ra, Princess of Power!
In the ultimate display of girl power, most key characters on She-Ra: Princess of Power were predominantly female (with the exception of the villain Hordak). The few male characters (Bow and Sea Hawk) were usually portrayed as weaker or as comic relief to counter the powerful and authoritative female leads. Compared to He-Man there was less violence on the She-Ra, and the animation was more vibrant and colorful in an attempt to make the show more appealing to girls.
Fun Fact: Despite her acrobatic tendencies, She-Ra’s skirt never moves throughout the entire series. This is because female directors and animators on the show found it very inappropriate for the lead character’s skirt to fly up on a children’s television show.
Original Run:1995 – 2000, 2013 –
Number of Episodes: 200 + 3 Related Movies
The Story: C’mon now, we all remember the theme song, “Fighting evil by moonlight, winning love by daylight. With the Sailor Scouts to help fight; she is the one named Sailor Moon!” – which pretty much sums up the entire story of the whiny Serena Tsukino, who finds out she’s the princess of the Moon and must now battle the evil alien enemies sent to kill her.
The English adaptation of Sailor Moon was produced in an attempt to capitalize on the success of the well-received Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. After a huge bidding war, DIC Entertainment (which was owned by The Walt Disney Company at the time) acquired the rights to the first two seasons of the Sailor Moon franchise in early 1995, and was the first English adaptation of an anime series intended for young female audiences. The final season, “Sailor Stars,” was never dubbed into English due to America losing licensing rights to Sailor Moon.
The series was one of the most censored English anime/manga adaptions ever to air. To make the show age appropriate, several episodes were completely dropped and scenes with too much skin were touched up. The most notable changes were to the show’s strong depiction of same-sex relationships – to counter this, several androgynous characters had their genders flipped (Zoycite (male to female), Fisheye (male to female), and Zirconia (female to male). The US also altered the relationship between Sailors Uranus and Neptune from lesbian lovers to cousins.
At a July 6, 2012 event celebrating the 20th anniversary of Sailor Moon, it was announced that a reboot of the Sailor Moon anime was in production. It is scheduled to begin broadcasting in Summer 2013 for a simultaneous worldwide release.
Fun Facts: Despite his penchant to do so in the TV series, Tuxedo Mask never once throws a rose as an attack in the original manga.
Original Run: 1985 – 1988
Number of Episodes: 65
The Story: Jem was the queen of holographic performances long before Coachella’s Tupac hologram made it cool. When her father dies, young Jerrica Benton inherits not only his record company, Starlight Music, but his super-secret ultimate audio-visual entertainment synthesizer known as Synergy. With the help of Synergy, as well as her friends, Jerrica adopts the persona of Jem (Samantha Newark (speaking voice) and Britta Phillips (singing voice)) to save Starlight Music – and a girls home Jerrica runs – from the evil Eric Ramon and his wicked girl group, The Misfits.
Created by a three-way collaboration of Hasbro, Sunbow Productions, and Marvel Productions, Jem! was designed as an attempt to cash in on the growing popularity of MTV. Originally the main character was named “M” (as in MTV), but was eventually replaced with Jem since you cannot trademark a single letter (and to avoid a lawsuit). However, the MTV theme lived on in the series, with a mandatory 3 music videos per episode format.
In honor of the show’s 25th anniversary, Integrity Toys, Inc. released a brand-new series of collectible fashion dolls based on Jem! at the Hasbro Toy Shop booth during this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. The special edition Hollywood Jem! doll went for $135 a pop and sold out on Day 2 of the Con.
Fun Facts: Besides appearing in Jem!, the character of reporter Hector Ramirez would appear in various TV shows made by Sunbow, including G.I. Joe, InHumanoids, and The Transformers. He was the only character to crossover.
Original Run: 1998 – 2005
Number of Episodes: 78 + 2 Shorts + 2 Related Specials + 1 Related Movie
The Story: There’s no shame confessing to this one; The Powerpuff Girls has been a hit on Cartoon Network for years, and we all had our favorites on the show (mine was Bubbles). The story follows the lonely and childless genius Professor Utonium, who sought to create the perfect little girl using a mixture of sugar… spice… and everything nice. But the bumbling professor accidentally added an extra ingredient known as “Chemical X”, instead creating three perfect little girls who had pretty much had the powers of Superman.
Created as a college project by animator Craig McCracken, the color-coded girls didn’t hit the TV screen (and our hearts) until 1998, when McCracken (then working on Dexter’s Lab) resurrected the idea to Hanna-Barbera (now Cartoon Network Studios) as part of their What a Cartoon! Show shorts program. The Powerpuff Girls was the highest-rated premiere in Cartoon Network’s history (at the time) and consistently scored the highest rating each week for the network’s demographic. While the super-powered girls were depicted as kindergarteners and dealt with childhood issues (sibling rivalries, bed wetting etc.), many episodes often contained obscure references to older pop culture.
For the series’ tenth anniversary, McCracken and Cartoon Network released an all-new special, titled “The Powerpuff Girls Rule!!!” which aired in the US on January 19, 2009, as part of its 10th anniversary marathon.
Fun Fact: The Powerpuff Girls were originally called “The Whoopass Girls.”In McCracken’s original ’90s college short titled Whoopass Stew! The Whoopass Girls in: A Sticky Situation, instead of “Chemical X,” Professor Utonium accidentally added a can of Whoop-Ass to the concoction.
Our main list may be at an end, but let’s do a quick shout-out to the live-action girl shows we lovingly watched alone, but dared not tell our friends about for fear of mockery.
Punky Brewster: Punky Brewster was pretty much a modern (for the time) retelling of little orphan Annie, but despite the strong similarities, the series really took off on its own. Many remember having their hearts stolen by the precocious Penelope “Punky” Brewster (Soleil Moon Frye), and the series even got itself a live-action and cartoon spin off.
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch: Many of us met one of our first TV crushes the magical day Melissa Joan Hart hit our television screens as Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. If Sabrina’s face is what brought you, the cherished TGIF sitcom format and her wisecracking cat Salem is what kept you. Sabrina started as a spin-off character from Archie comics, and even dated everyone’s favorite animated ginger – who surprisingly got around a lot in that fictional town of his.
Sister, Sister: Before there was Zack and Cody we had Tia and Tamera. Real-life twin sisters Tia and Tamera Mowry play fictional twin sisters Tia Lowery and Tamera Campbell, who reunite after 14 years apart. ABC canned the show after two seasons, due to what they claim was “low ratings,” but The WB quickly swooped in and saved the show for another four years.
Blossom: In my opinion, Blossom was one of the best sitcoms of the early ’90s, whose theme song may or may not be on my iPod. Mayim Bialik (Big Bang Theory) starred as Blossom Russo, a quirky teenage girl living with her father and two brothers. Besides loving Joey’s (Joey Lawrence) trademark “Whoa!” Blossom also featured many popular celebs at the time – like ALF, Will Smith and Mr.T.
So gents (and gals) there you have it, our list of “girl” shows we as men can now proudly admit to loving! If your secret love didn’t make the cut, and you now feel comfortable enough to share it in this circle of brotherly trust, do so in the comment section below – or feel free to reminisce on your favorite moments from the truly outrageous shows we already mentioned.