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12 Indispensable Life Lessons We Learned From ’80s Cartoons

Now you know why everyone who grew up in the ’80s is so thoughtful and well-adjusted. And knowing is … important.

Matt Harvey


In the ’80s, there were all sorts of totally awesome cartoons that were designed to sell toys to kids. In an effort to be proactive against negative feedback, the producers of some of the toy-centric toons had Public Service Announcements tagged on to the end of each episode to prove that their shows were more than just advertainment. These educational PSAs were often ridiculous, with a formula that involved the show’s hero preventing a younger character from doing something dangerous and administering a stern moral lesson. 

Well, that’s pretty much how every kid in the ’80s learned right from wrong, and here are a few of those essential lessons that are still applicable today!

1. Never trust someone who tells you they’re onto a “sure thing.”

“The people who succeed are the ones who work for what they want, so don’t be fooled by those who say they have a sure thing — there’s always a catch to it.” — He-Man

He-Man knows the benefits of hard work, and if you can’t trust a prince in fur shorts who gets his super powers from a magical sword — who can you trust? Taking action to turn your dreams into reality is solid advice for anyone, even if the person giving it isn’t wearing a shirt.

2. Don’t eat stuff that you just find lying around.

“Lots of things around the house and yard that kids put in their mouths and nibble on can make them very sick.” Wonder Woman

The advice to be aware of potentially hazardous things in your environment is pretty basic but necessary — wash your hands and don’t nibble on strange things. I wonder if Wonder Woman ever caught the hand-foot-mouth disease.

3. Don’t run from your problems!

“Isn’t it better to try and solve problems, instead of running from ’em?” — Shipwreck

Yes, Shipwreck, it is better to tackle problems head on, ask for help when it’s needed, and sort things out. Running from a problem doesn’t solve the problem, it just gives the problem more energy. Sage advice from a dude named after a boating accident.

4. Don’t give out your personal information.

“Never tell anyone you’re home alone and never give anyone your address.” — Roadblock

Despite the fact that mobile phones are a thing now and the internet is everywhere, this is still good feedback. Only give out your personal information to people you trust and definitely don’t tell anyone you don’t know that you’ll be home alone. Sounds like Roadblock has a future in data protection if he ever gets tired of creating a need for detours.

5. You can be nice to someone even if it’s not their birthday.

“You don’t need a special occasion to show someone you care about them.” — Share Bear

This is a great one because this can often get lost in the busyness of life. It’s really important to actually let people you care about know that you care about them. Every occasion is special when you share it with those that you love. Share Bear coming through with a solid pro-tip.

6. Recycle.

“Be a Planeteer — recycle!” — Captain Planet

“Litter bug” was one of the worst things you could be called when I was a kid. Doing your part for the environment is more important these days than ever before. Live an environmentally conscious and sustainable lifestyle and who knows, maybe the spirit of the planet will give you a magic ring that allows you to control an element of nature.

7. Don’t mess around with electricity.

“Any fallen power line could be live and dangerous. If you see a fallen power line, call the police or the electric company right away!” — Jem

It’s definitely not a good idea to investigate a downed power line by yourself. You should always alert authorities to any hazardous anomalies that you encounter on your adventures. Doing anything else is truly outrageous. 

8. Every failure is just another stepping stone to success.

“You’ll never learn anything unless you keep on trying.” — Jem

We all know how frustrating it can be to do something for the first time and fail. But it’s all worth it when the practice starts to pay off. Learning new skills takes time and dedicated practice… unless you’ve inherited a super high-tech computer that generates lifelike holograms to augment reality and save the world.

9. Buckle your seatbelt!

“Before I drive off, I always buckle my seatbelt.” — Matt Trakker

If you’re in a moving vehicle, you should wear your seatbelt — not just because it’s the law, but because it can save your life and help prevent serious injuries. Matt Trakker knows a thing or two about the importance of highway safety — his car is also a jet!

10. Get some dang lights for your bike.

“Remember, if you have to ride when it’s getting dark — have the right equipment.” — Red Alert

If you’re going to do any activity outside after dark, you should wear bright colors and reflective materials to help increase visibility and awareness. These are things you don’t have to worry about if you’re a sentient transforming car, but thanks for sharing, Red Alert!

11. If you mess up, ’fess up.

“Face up to what you’ve done; don’t take the easy way out.” — Flint

It can be hard to tell the truth sometimes, especially when you fear it will result in a negative consequence, but telling the truth and owning mistakes is important and helps us to become better people who know better. And knowing better, when you think about it, is at least 50% of the, um … hmmm, what’s a good way of putting this? Let’s just say you’re close to three-fifths of the way through the war, metaphorically speaking.

12. Respect all living things.

“Life is a wonderful precious gift. Learn to enjoy and respect it and you’ll be a happier, better person for it.” — Teela

This is probably one the truest things I’ve ever seen. Life in all forms is an impossible and marvelous miracle. Respect one another and the planet, and we’ll all be better off. Thanks, Teela.