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My Top 5 Favorite Hanna Barbera Cartoons

Like many kids, I loved watching cartoons.  There was a time during elementary school when I would sit in front of the television starting before the sun was up until after lunch with my own handwritten TV Guide.  Most days, though, I caught cartoons before school while eating my bowl of cereal or afterward at Granny's kitchen table while I did my homework.  No matter the time of day, I indulged in a (un?)healthy dose of animated television.  

Most of them were modern (for the time) cartoons like Real Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or NickToons like Doug or Rugrats.  Some, however, were much older and often more entertaining.

Most afternoons were spent at Granny and Gramp's house, waiting for Mom and Dad to get home from work.  That's where I watched most of the classic cartoons that I still love today.  I quickly fell in love with the style of animation Hanna-Barbera used, with simple artwork filled with bold lines and bright colors.  That style is still visually appealing to me.

This summer, I frequently wrote about my love for Orlando's theme parks.  When Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, opened in July 1990, one of the opening day attractions was "The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera."  This simulator ride had a wonderfully themed queue and preshow that I remember fondly from my visits as a child.  The ride closed down in October 2002 and was turned into a Jimmy Neutron-themed ride, "Nicktoon Blast."  It currently stands, in 2023, as "Despicable Me's Minion Mayhem."  Oh, what I wouldn't give for a time machine for one more ride.  Thank heavens for YouTube.

Hanna-Barbera was a production company created on July 7, 1957, by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera after MGM decided to close its in-house cartoon studio.  The animation studio produced many successful television programs, including The Huckleberry Hound Show, The Smurfs, Top Cat, Scooby-Doo, and Jonny Quest.  In 1991, the Hanna-Barbera studio was acquired by Turner Broadcasting System to use the back catalog in order to establish the new television station, The Cartoon Network, in 1992.  It operated until 2001 when after Hanna's death, it was absorbed into Warner Brothers Animation.   

Hanna-Barbera was a pioneer in the concept of "limited animation."  The cost-saving technique became a hallmark of their production over the years.  Instead of animating every frame of movement, the animators used a simplified approach that relied on static backgrounds and repeated motion sequences.  This allowed the studio to produce cartoons at a faster rate and much lower budget.  

Hanna-Barbera also excelled in creating memorable and visually appealing character designs.  The characters often had exaggerated features, distinctive silhouettes, and colorful clothing that separated one from another to become instantly recognizable.  The studio frequently featured anthropomorphic animals (animals that behave like humans), which became some of their most beloved characters.  Even with the limited animation, the characters' facial expressions were crucial in conveying emotion and humor, and the Hanna-Barbera animators were skilled at emphasizing the exaggerated reactions to deliver the comedy effectively.  

Hanna-Barbera also used the episodic format in their shows, where each episode is a standalone story with a clear beginning, middle, and end.  This format allowed for syndication and decades of broadcastability, contributing to these cartoons' enduring popularity across generations.

While today some may see their animation techniques as limited or "low-budget," their characters and storytelling's creativity and charm still win over audiences.  Countless current animators and cartoonists attribute Hanna-Barbera as a guiding influence in their careers.  

Below are five of my favorite cartoons created by Hanna-Barbera.  What's your list?  Leave me a comment down below!

5.  The Berenstain Bears (1985)

I loved the books as a kid, and when my daughter was born, I bought a stack of Berenstain Bears books to read to her.  

Mandella effect aside, this number 5 spot was a close call between the Huckleberry Hound and the Bear family, but my love for the books won out.  The wholesome themes, emphasis on family, and traditional values resonate with me, my family, and many other viewers.  

The Berenstain Bears Show was a Hanna-Barbera series based on the books created by Stan and Jan Berenstain.  It aired on CBS in the United States between September 14, 1985, and March 7, 1987, with 52 eleven-minute stories on 26 produced half-hour episodes.  The reruns would air on the CBS network until September 1987.  Each half-hour show would consist of two shorter stories: an animated adaptation of one of the children's books and an original story.  This series was nominated in 1987 for a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in Children's Programming.  It was also nominated that same year for a Humanitas Prize for Children's Animated Show.  

4.  Swat Kats:  The Radical Squadron (1993)

As a kid who always loved airplanes, I got excited when anything with airplanes was put in front of me.  I always preferred airliners to fighter jets, but I was hooked when a cartoon series about two cool cats who can fly planes came on TV.  

This action-packed cartoon produced by Hanna-Barbera introduced audiences to Razor and T-Bone.  These two skilled pilots flew their state-of-the-art aircraft, the TurboKat (similar to the Grumman F-14 TomCat), to battle various villains like Dark Kat, the mutant evil-genius Doctor Viper, and the robotic gang The Metalli-kats. 

The series was created by Christian and Yvon Tremblay and produced by Hanna-Barbera.  It aired originally on the TBS Superstation from September 11, 1993, to January 6, 1995.  According to Neilsen Television, Swat Kats was the number-one syndicated animated series in 1994.  Rumors of a new series, SWAT Kats: Revolution, have existed for some time but have yet to materialize.   

3.  The Jetsons (1962)

What list from Hanna-Barbera would be complete without The Jetsons?  The Jetsons was one of many cartoons I watched before school each day in the early 90s.  I'd look forward to eating my bowl of cereal while watching this futuristic toon.

The Jetsons transported viewers into the future of 2062.  Less than 30 years away from today in 2023, it's pretty disappointing to see what the 1960s had hoped for our future.  As a matter of fact, based on an episode of the show, George Jetson was born on July 31, 2022.  Meaning today, as I post this in September of 2023, George is already a one-year-old baby.  Man, what could have been and should be.  But hey, we have smartphones that have caused us as a society to become unquestionably dumber.  

Back off my soapbox, the Jetsons lived in a world of flying cars and robot housekeepers and even ate pill-based foods!  The show followed the Jetson family, George, Jayne, Elroy, Judy, and their loyal dog Astro with an imaginative portrayal of technological advancements.  

The Jetsons was Hanna-Barbera's Space Age counterpart to The Flintstones and initially aired in prime time on ABC from September 23, 1962, to March 17, 1963, when it was canceled after its very first season.  It was moved to Saturday mornings and became very successful.  It was given new life with new episodes produced between 1985 and 1987, along with several specials, including "A Jetson Christmas Carol."  The 1990 film Jetsons:  The Movie served as the conclusion to the television show.

The Jetsons is also notable as the first-ever program broadcast in color on ABC.  

2.  The Yogi Bear Show (1961)

Yogi Bear is one of those characters I just fell in love with from the start.  I remember watching this show from the sofa in my Grandmother's living room, taking a break from playtime in the afternoons as I awaited my parent's arrival.

Yogi, the character, made his debut in 1958 on The Huckleberry Hound Show.  Originally just extras characters on Huckleberry, Yogi and his friend Boo Boo would become so popular that Hanna-Barbera gave them their own series.  The gluttonous Yogi was always thinking about his next meal, while the more cautious Boo Boo worried about the consequences of Yogi's actions.

Set in Jellystone National Park, Yogi was always searching for a "pick-a-nic" basket, much to the chagrin of Ranger Smith, who was always trying to stop him.  The show debuted in syndication on January 30, 1961, and ran for 33 episodes until January 6, 1962.  Two other segments during the show were "Snagglepuss" and "Yakky Doodle."  

After its cancelation, Yogi returned in various different series, such as "Yogi Bear and Friends," "Yogi's Gang," and currently, "Jellystone!" on HBO Max.  

1.  The Flintstones (1960)

Far and away, The Flintstones is the Hanna-Barbera cartoon I've watched the most over the years.  Not only do I LOVE the films from the 90s (if you didn't like them, leave now), but watching the original cartoon from the 60s reminds me of that beautiful display of merchandising and advertising between McDonald's and The Flintstones movie.  You just can't beat Roc Donalds.  

I spent countless afternoons watching The Flintstones on that tiny television in Granny's kitchen after school.  Probably more than I spent watching Disney Afternoon's Duck Tales or Chip and Dale, which was an awful lot.   

The Flintstones made television history as the first animated series to hold a primetime television spot.  It was originally broadcast on ABC from September 30, 1960, to April 1, 1966, and while every episode was produced in color, the first two years of the show were aired only in black and white.

After being tasked with creating a thirty-minute animated program, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera took inspiration from classics like The Honeymooners and Laurel and Hardy.  Having read that, I can clearly see the similarities between Fred and Barney to Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton.  The Flintstones was the most financially successful and longest-running network animated television series for three decades until The Simpsons surpassed it in 1997.  

In 2013, TV Guide ranked The Flintstones the second-greatest cartoon of all time, behind, once again, The Simpsons.


  1. That's a REALLY good list, tbh I only remember the name of Swat Kats though 🤔 but the other 4 I used to watch a lot of. I agree with Flintstones having the number one spot, but I think the Jetsons would be number 2 for me since I used to watch that every morning before school, I had no idea it had such a short run though.