The 10 Grooviest Cartoons From The 1970s

Including that one about the teenagers that solve mysteries with the talking thing. You know the one. For more super-fly flair straight out of the baddest decade around, tune into the season finale of Black Dynamite, tonight at 11:30, only on Adult Swim.

1. Scooby-Doo

It’s the show that pioneered the rash of “talking mascot and group of bellbottom-sporting teens solve mysteries” shows, which, yes, was an entirely legitimate genre throughout the flower power seventies. Note that we said “flower power,” not “puppy power” — Scrappy “Destroyer of Worlds” Doo wouldn’t be introduced until the tail-end of the decade, giving the Scooby Gang a few more years in the limelight before they inevitably jumped the pooch.

2. Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids

Rotund rascal Albert and his scrappy junkyard gang helped pioneer the “edutainment” wave of the mid-seventies, teaching important life lessons like tolerance, friendship, and “don’t play instruments built from assorted rusty junk without a tetanus shot.” The reason bucktoothed Mushmouth talks like a sloth shot full of novocaine? Lockjaw. Now you know.

3. Hong Kong Phooey

You know what? As bad as this bumbling, fumbling super-pooch was at, well, everything, you have to admire his tenacity. It takes a special kind of martial arts superhero to be actively awful at both martial arts and superheroics. Speaking of awful, take heed: the inevitable live-action Hong Kong Phooey feature film is in pre-production at this very moment, with the disembodied voice of Eddie Murphy set to play the eponymous kung-fu canine. Assuming there aren’t several Shrek sequels currently filming, of course.

4. The Funky Phantom

True, Funky Phantom was, in essence, a rehash of several established Hanna Barbera tropes and characters (the show’s titular spook was little more than Snagglepuss stuffed into a tricorn hat), but the outlandishness of the show’s premise really helped Mudsy and his adolescent entourage stand out from the rest of Saturday morning’s mystery solving masses.

5. Super Friends

A far cry from the somewhat melodramatic funny books of the time, the Super Friends show pitted the Justice League’s best and brightest against a line of woefully inept aliens and misunderstood mad scientists, because apparently the Legion of Doom was on holiday for about half a decade or so. Recognizable baddies wouldn’t crop up until the show’s third iteration in 1978, but now we’re talking about the Wonder Twins era, and who needs to be reminded?

6. Josie and the Pussycats

Like The Archies before them and The Neptunes after, fictional girl group Josie and the Pussycats sought crossover appeal while they weren’t solving mysteries set to schlocky bubblegum pop. While they never got their own “Sugar, Sugar,” the Pussycats did see second life as a stealthy music industry satire (or a brainless cash-in, depending on who you ask) in a 2001 live action revival.

Oh, and then they went to outer space, because why not.

7. The Harlem Globetrotters

Some of the best parts about animated television in the seventies were the real-life groups, celebs, and momentary superstars that somehow spearheaded their own cartoon shows. These iconic exhibition basketballers starred in not one, but two popular series — a more traditional ‘toon that saw the Globetrotters settling various international conflicts by way of a ball and court, and The Super Globetrotters, which cast the Harlem crew as undercover superheroes.

8. Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels

Dubbed the “world’s first superhero” by his — you guessed it — teenaged, mystery-solving sidekicks, fur-coated Captain Caveman combined three of the nation’s then-favorite fads: slapstick, spoofs, and superheroics. And biting political commentary, apparently; did you know that Cavey’s frequent mid-air “energy crisis” fumbles were satirical shots at the gasoline rationing shortages of the 1970s? Seriously. And The Hair Bear Bunch was an overlooked commentary on the objectivist importance of the self-made man, if man was also a bear that had hair.

9. Wait Till Your Father Gets Home

It’s far from the most recognizable of animated seventies shows, but this oft-overlooked gem paved the way for subsequent dysfunctional family sitcoms like The Simpsons and Family Guy. True, it was more or less an animated All In the Family, right down to pot-bellied everyman Harry duking it out with every left-leaning loudmouth in earshot, but let’s put it this way: a world without Wait Till Your Father Gets Home might also be a world without Seth McFarlane. Wait…

10. The Jackson 5ive

Produced in the throes of Jackson Five fever, this animated account of the Jacksons’ day-to-day adventures was a smash success that brought some of Motown’s most spin-worthy songs to Saturday morning audiences across the nation. In hindsight, it’s pretty impressive that Berry Gordon wasn’t recast as a talking French bulldog to better fit with the trends of the time, but hey, there’s always the inevitable CG reboot.

Inspired By Black Dynamite


Don’t be fooled — the seventies wasn’t all wisecracking pooches and mystery-solving ensembles. Showcasing the baddest brother this side of Sweet Sweetback, Black Dynamite is an action-packed send-up of the flyest era in feature film history, chockful of funk and sass that’s built to last. Don’t miss Black Dynamite, Sundays at 11:30/10:30c, only on Adult Swim.

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