I’ve made it no secret that I think the '80s and '90s brought some of the best children’s cartoons the world will ever see. The back-stories that explained the characters' histories and rise to fame or infamy were always amusing, and the level of creativity put into cartoons during those two decades seemed stronger than those which followed. Sometimes we cheered for the hero, sometimes we cheered for the villain. But regardless of which side you were pulling for, chances are that you loved to see someone's ass being kicked... and here's examples of characters who dished it out.
Venom from Spider-Man: The Animated Series
Venom is the arch-nemesis of Spider-Man (in this series, he is created from Spidey’s own DNA). In addition to being an enemy, he is also the proud owner of an awesome tongue. Venom is a big-time ass kicker and a determined super-villain, and given his ability to shape-shift, he can kick ass in a variety of different forms. I remember him being extremely difficult to defeat – at least for me – in the Spider-Man Sega Genesis game, which furthers my belief that he is not to be trifled with.
She-Ra, Princess of Power
The '80s and '90s were full of interesting characters created almost solely for the purpose of promoting a corresponding toy line, but that marketing ploy nevertheless led to the creation of several outstanding cartoons. Masters of the Universe and She-Ra: Princess of Power are two such examples. She-Ra is a purveyor of justice, but that isn’t to suggest that The Princess of Power cannot start some shit. In fact, she was once a part of The Evil Horde, so we know she can get down like a boss. She-Ra has muscles bigger than I do and you just know she is capable of beating the living daylights out of anyone stupid enough to look at her the wrong way.
Matt Tracker of M.A.S.K.
“Illusion is the Ultimate Weapon!” M.A.S.K. is a bit of a forgotten classic which I myself had forgotten about it until recently. It tends to be overshadowed by shows like G.I. Joe and Transformers, that have received the Hollywood film treatment. The M.A.S.K team was headed by ultimate badass Matt Tracker, who repeatedly attempted to thwart the evildoings of the V.E.N.O.M. team. (Everything had an acronym in the '80s.) In case you're interested in a refresher course on the various ways in which Matt Tracker can and will kick your ass, our friends at Shout! Factory have released the entire series in one convenient DVD box set.
He-Man from Masters of the Universe
Like his twin sister She-Ra, He-Man is one of the so-called good guys, but that doesn’t mean that he's above dishing out a good beatdown. He’s always kicking Skeletor’s ass, and he's probably just waiting for you to step out of line so that he can kick yours. I am absolutely positive that if you made a crack about his mushroom haircut, He-Man would unleash hell on you without giving it a second thought.
Toxie from Toxic Crusaders
This series had an earth-friendly theme, as was the trend at the time of its release: don’t pollute, or Toxie will kick your ass with his magical mop. One of the most unusual concepts for a kids' cartoon, Toxie is based on the notorious Troma antihero The Toxic Avenger... minus his graphically violent homicidal tendencies, of course. Unfortunately, the series was short-lived (lasting only 13 episodes), but it remains a celebrated classic in certain circles, inspiring several merchandising endeavors, including games for both Nintendo systems, and eventually a 1997 feature film.
Megatron from Transformers
Megatron is a high-level sociopath bent on global domination, marketed to children in the form of a toy. He's the leader of the evil Decepticons, sworn enemies of the heroic Autobots, and has aspirations to rule the world. He really has it all: brute strength, no capacity for guilt or remorse, a desire to rule the world, and a propensity for kicking ass. What more could a young child ask for from a plaything?
Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Less commonly known as Oroku Saki, this ultra-powerful ninja warrior has always been a sworn enemy to the Turtles. He has one of the cooler getups amongst his cartoon villain peers, and more importantly loves kicking some ass. He doesn’t always triumph over the turtles, of course; in fact, he rarely sees any kind of victory over the adolescent martial arts enthusiasts, but he can easily put the hurt on nearly any other character on the show.
Skeletor from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
Skeletor would like nothing more than to hurl you off of Snake Mountain and send you careening to your death. He often has pent-up frustration as a direct result of always losing to the mighty He-Man – which, in all fairness, would be hard to cope with for just about anyone, but especially so for an evil skull-faced, purplish suit-wearing evildoer. Even if Skeletor can’t ever seem to overthrow Castle Grayskull, he can still overthrow you.
Cobra Commander from G.I. Joe
Cobra Commander was intent upon both world domination and ass-kicking. He always had it out for the Joes, and was always up to one brand of tomfoolery or another. Crazy like a fox and ten times more deadly, Cobra Commander is a maniacal dictator hell-bent on world domination, and he won’t stop until he achieves it... or dies trying.