Iconic ’80s Characters That’ll Bring You Back

The eighties are remembered for a lot of things, but no list would ever be complete without these pop cultural icons. Many of them have inspired present-day characters—and many are still present in some form as well. posted on

Inspired by:

This video harnesses the spirit of the eighties—with all of its mullet-banging, guitar solos and mythological creatures, and uh, arm-wrestling rainbows. Just watch it and see for yourself.

1. ALF

Gordon Shumway of Melmac, better known as “ALF” (Alien Life Form), crash-landed on Earth and into America’s hearts. Living in the Tanner family’s garage, they work together to hide him from the Alien Task Force (a part of the US military), while trying to integrate him into the family and keep him from missing his homeworld.

2. The Care Bears

The Care Bears were basically a less deranged version of the Teletubbies. The Care Bears—Cheer Bear, Grumpy Bear, Funshine Bear, etc.—came from a world called “Care-A-Lot” and visited Earth occasionally to help out young boys and girls who needed a little assistance. These rainbow-colored bears took the world by storm, from toys, books, TV specials, movies, and ultimately, their own show.

3. G.I. Joe

Originally a series back in the ’60s and ’70s, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero was brought back after the success of Rambo and its counterparts, but altered to make it even more badass, of course. This time, G.I. Joe was given a team of “patriotic soldiers,” including Hawk, Scarlet, Snake Eyes, and their enemies, COBRA. It was virtually impossible to grow up without one of these action figures, or at the very least without seeing dozens of them.

4. Littlefoot

In the movie that launched a thousand sequels (almost literally), Littlefoot was the “longnecked” ringleader in A Land Before Time, going on prehistoric adventures with his companions, Cera, Ducky, Petrie, and Spike (and in its sequels, some others, but who cares about them). This movie was the inspiration for many children of the eighties becoming obsessed with dinosaurs. And with good reason.

5. Optimus Prime

Though Transformers have rarely been completely removed from the cultural lexicon, their heyday was truly in the ’80s, before everything got all glamorized by Megan Fox and that guy. Optimus Prime in the ’80s was killing it, at the top of his game. The Autobots didn’t need fancy CGI to get the job done back then, and the soundtrack in their TV show and movies was way better, too.

6. My Little Pony

Now we may have My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, but in the ’80s we just had My Little Pony ‘n’ Friends, and everyone was more than okay with it. Native to Dream Valley, the ponies—like Gusty, Lickety-Split, and Shady—are charged with the task of protecting it from witches, trolls, and other creatures. The ponies’ popularity in the ’80s still echoes throughout the present, and the merchandise from the series is cherished and highly collectible.

7. The Smurfs

The Smurfs was originally created in the 1950s by a Flemish cartoonist, and the show focuses around the Smurfs’ lives while trying to ward off the wizard Gargamel and his cat, Azrael, who wanted to eat them. Even if you watched the Smurfs and enjoyed doing so, you may be surprised how lauded the show actually was. Aside from the show immediately becoming a hit and scoring a movie just three years later, it even won two Emmy Awards.

8. He-Man

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was one of the most popular cartoons of the ’80s, and it shouldn’t be surprising, given that the series features not only one of the greatest warriors in the universe, but more importantly, Battle-Cat. Just to reiterate this point, the dude rides an effing cat to work. How cool is that?

9. Thundercats

The Thundercats were a group of extraterrestrials fleeing from their own home planet, when they were attacked by mutants and forced to crashland on the Third Earth, where the mutants followed them. Forced to fight the mutants to protect themselves and others, the series featured a huge breadth of different characters (both friendly and hostile) and spawned hundreds of toys as well as a comic book.

10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Not much explanation is needed here, just the standard “radioactive-turtles-living-in-the-sewers-of-New-York-City-fight-crime-based-on-the-teachings-of-a-rat-sensei” story. No-one has done it better, and no-one ever will. (I mean, the TMNT are named after famous Renaissance figures, come on.)

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