Though there is still an ongoing struggle to create quality female-centric media, there are still plenty of girl power cartoon gems scattered across networks. When reminiscing on some of my favorite childhood cartoons, the ones that stood out tended to be cartoons featuring strong female leads and engaging story lines. Here are some nostalgic girl power cartoons from my childhood years!
The PowerPuff Girls are arguably the classic example of just how badass female centered cartoons can be. Created by Craig McCraken, the show premiered in 1998 and introduced legions of children to the super powered trio. Made from sugar, spice, and everything nice, Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup were the definition of femme fatales. They were tough, kind, intelligent, and generally, well, normal girls (except for the super powers and everything). The fact that the show was up for a reboot had me jumping out of my seat, and I’m never too old for an episode of PowerPuff Girls.
No one can forget Kim Possible. This Disney Channel redhead juggled school, friends, and saving the world alongside her best friend Ron Stoppable. She was feisty, multitalented, and intelligent, and was always prepared to give a good whoop-ass while saving the world from Dr. Draken and other villains. With her signature catchphrase, hightech gadgets, and likeable persona, Kim Possible inevitably invokes childhood nostalgia whenever the theme song comes up. (Call me, beep me?)
Happily Ever After is unique for its cultural diversity and innovative retellings of classic fairy tales. This HBO show featured retellings of classic fairy tales such as “Cinderella,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Robin Hood,” “The Princess and the Frog,” and many others to the sound of some catchy tunes. However, these retellings tend to regularly feature multicultural influence and have stronger female characters. Their episodes have included a Latina Robin Hood and a Chinese retelling of the Little Mermaid. Growing up, I really loved the creative setups and multicultural influences, and Happily Ever After features some really innovative takes on traditional children’s tales (feminist retelling of Rip Van Winkle anyone?), and was one of the most diverse and multiculturally conscious (and entertaining) shows I was fortunate to watch.
Sam, Alex, and Clover were everyone’s favorite female spies and kicked some serious butt. As members of the secret organization WOOHP, these undercover agents (led by WOOHP leader Jerry) tackled international criminals, their arch nemesis, Mandy, and school life all while maintaining their secret identities. While I do recognize that the show had its flaws (looking back, their puns were kind of cringe worthy and the villains had some seriously ridiculous motives) Totally Spies was an upbeat, action packed show with relatable leads and great adventures.
As Told by Ginger , unlike the other cartoons on this list, doesn’t feature a main characters with superpowers or going through constant adventures. Rather, the show revolves around Ginger Foutley, a young highschooler with a talent for writing and a penchant for reflection. Ginger is bookish, reflective, and level headed, and is possibly the most relatable of all heroines. As she transitions from junior high to high school, we see Ginger mature steadily and approach the joy and turmoil of adolescence from a thoughtful and sensitive mindset. She is smart, empathic, strong, and all round well developed character in a heartwarming show.
The Wild Thornberrys‘s Eliza Thornberry was the nerdy, adventurous, animal loving heroine I strived to emulate throughout my childhood. Eliza’s adventures with her documentary filmmaker parents around the world proved to be both endearing and educational. Her ability to talk to animals and her energetic, curious, nature loving persona were captivating, and she definitely inspired my early childhood inclination towards animals (though sadly, I didn’t have the ability to communicate with my pet rabbits).