Many of us remember waking up on Saturday mornings to watch shows like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, and He-Man: Masters of the Universe. These shows defined our childhoods and are well-loved even today. Bringing out dozens of classic characters that are still relevant, those shows are regarded as some of the best cartoons ever created. Part of what made them so great is that they starred characters that were larger than life. Between individuals like Lion-O from Thundercats and Duke from G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, they inspired us as children to become more than just people. Those characters stood for something and fought with all their might, using all of their impressive powers, knowledge, and skill to stop the bad guys and save the day. They were role models of the highest order.
Now that era has come and gone. Cartoons are still a popular form of storytelling, but it's not done in the same way it was back then. All of those famous characters are now the source of nostalgia for many of us. Their amazing powers and their strong wills defined a generation, and it's time to pit them against each other. There were tons of powerful cartoon characters back in the day, but now we are officially ranking the most powerful classic cartoon characters. Many of your favorite heroes will appear on this list, so where do they rank against all of the rest? Put on your rose-colored nostalgia glasses as you find out.
23 DARKWING DUCK
Darkwing Duck was a vigilante created by Disney and was set in the same universe as DuckTales. It starred a man (a duck) who was trying to clean up his city in both his personal and vigilante lives.
As a hero of the night, he was very similar to Batman, having all sorts of tricks up his sleeve to get the job done. Darkwing Duck was also one of the first Disney characters to focus more on action rather than traveling from place to place.
Being a G.I. Joe is a tough job. You have to be rough. You have to be unbreakable. You have to be courageous. All of those things and more perfectly describe Duke from G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Being the field leader of the team, he was strategic and never backed down from a fight.
He always knew what to do and when to do it. He was a man's man and was always up for taking on the soldiers of COBRA and knocking them down a few pegs.
21 KEITH KOGANE
The Voltron team was a powerful organization that could only function at the command of a brilliant leader. Thankfully, they had Keith Kogane on their side. The driver of the Black Lion and the leader of the Voltron Lion Force, he was one of the best commanders of his time.
Taking on all sorts of intergalactic foes with little to no fatigue, the villains of the universe knew not to get on his bad side. Even after his team's ship was shot down, Kogane constantly thought of plans to come out on top.
20 KEN WASHIO
Ken Washio (also known as Ace Goodheart) spent many years training how to become the best Gatchaman there was. As an adult, he ended up leading his own team and took the likeness of an eagle. There's a reason for him being the leader other than his good looks too.
Washio is a natural-born tactician, always having the best strategies for his team. He also knows when to take a few steps back and think through a situation before acting despite having some of the best gear on hand.
19 COMMANDER STARGAZER
Commander Stargazer is the overseer of the Silverhawks and one of the best who ever lived. Being a cyborg with hundreds of years of experience, there's no telling the types of creatures he's fought or battles he's won.
He might be a bit cranky when dealing with the other Silverhawks, but it's all because he knows what he's doing. Very rarely does he involve himself in larger conflicts, but when he does, he always comes out on top.
18 CAPTAIN N
Kevin Keene was a normal, unassuming boy until he was taken into the world of Videoland. It's there that he was destined to become the legendary Captain N: The Game Master. Armed with an NES Zapper and an NES controller belt buckle, he had all the tools he needed to defeat Mother Brain and save the world.
His gun was so powerful that he could shoot it at unsuspecting foes and instantly dematerialize them. He could also shoot a few other substances as the situation called for it.
If you thought that M.C. Hammer would never be able to star in his own cartoon, you'd be dead wrong. He was the focus of the show Hammerman, where he played himself. He came across these magical talking shoes that could turn him into the glorious Hammerman.
Hammerman had all sorts of wacky abilities, but if there's one thing he knew how to do, it was tackle social issues. The show wasn't all that great, but the superpowers alone make him decently strong by default.
16 PRIME EVIL
Prime Evil is the archnemesis of the Ghostbusters in the cartoon and does everything in his power to destroy them for good. He has an entire army of powerful henchmen that he can send to defeat them (they do fail a lot, though).
Regardless, Prime Evil has the power to revive his own lackeys as well as be immune to a lot of the ghost tech that the Ghostbusters use. Furthermore, he happens to be one of the greatest wizards who ever lived, second only to Merlin himself.
15 COBRA COMMANDER
When a soldier manages to take command of a powerful army, there's almost no stopping him. Cobra Commander was the primary antagonist in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and had legions of men and machines at his disposal.
Obsessed with the strong eliminating the weak, he made it his goal to extend his power by conquering the entire world. While he can be a bit cowardly at times, once he has a goal in mind, there is no stopping him.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are an impressive team of heroes in a half shell. While they all have their own unique abilities, it's Raphael who happens to be the best of the bunch. While he doesn't quite have the leadership skills of Leonardo, he has the raw strength and tactical prowess to make up for it.
He can best just about any other villain in combat and, when he works well with his brothers, there is no telling what they could do.
Oroku Saki was a brilliant martial artist but a bit of a weasel as a person. He framed one of his fellow Foot Clan members for murder and took over the whole organization. He then turned the Foot Clan into a group involved in crime and tried to take over New York.
Eventually, he would be given sharp armor by Krang from Dimension X and be referred to as Shredder. His fighting skills combined with his armor made him one of the deadliest villains in the show.
12 INSPECTOR GADGET
When it comes to solving problems, there are none better than Inspector Gadget. While not much of the fighting type, the Inspector makes this list solely because of his potential. Having just about any tool or gizmo up his sleeve at any time, he is always prepared.
There aren't many who can defeat simply because of the sheer amount of impressive gadgets he has on him at all times. If he wanted to engage in a battle, you better believe he'd have a tool that would make him the winner.
11 MASTER SPLINTER
Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Leonardo are impressive fighters, but they didn't get that way overnight. They were trained by Master Splinter, who used to be an instructor for the Foot Clan. After being framed for murder, he found a home in the sewers of New York.
It was there that he trained the turtles in the ways of ninjutsu. He taught them honor, respect, and how to win in battle. He became one of the greatest teachers of the art and, transitively, Shredder's greatest foe.
The disembodied brain of an alien warlord, Krang lived and conquered a realm known as Dimension X. However, he eventually got out and came to Earth to try and take it over, going as far as to ally himself with Shredder.
Being from a new dimension, Krang had access to all sorts of stellar technology, including the mighty Technodrome, that he would use to fight the turtles. He is easily one of their greatest foes (if not one of their ugliest).
A creation out of the mind of Steven Speilberg, Freakazoid was every bit as weird as you might expect. He was wacky, zany, and irreverent, using his powers for comedy rather than to fight crime.
Freakazoid was more of a comedic show, so his powers suited whatever the episode needed at the time. Because of this, he had a massive grab bag of abilities that seemed to be different with each episode. He was weird but he is extremely powerful.
The Thundercats are a powerful group, but only one of them can be the leader. That's where Lion-O comes in. Being the Lord of the Thundercats through inheritance alone, he spends the bulk of the series learning how to be a proper leader.
Using the Sword of Thundera, Lion-O became one of the strongest Thundercats to ever live. He could fight and come out on top. His only downside is that, due to some strange time travel, he was just a 12-year-old stuck in a 24-year-old body.
She-Ra is the twin sister of He-Man and was created to appeal to girls (whether it worked or not is anyone's guess). Being related to He-Man, she has a lot of the same powers, including proficiency with a blade, enhanced reflexes, and even invulnerability.
She even has the innate power to be able to heal the injuries of others. She does have some abilities that her brother doesn't but, at the end of the day, she does play second fiddle to him.
6 CAPTAIN PLANET
Captain Planet is one massive deus ex machina. When the Planeteers are trying to solve problems and can't quite make it, they put their rings together to summon Captain Planet. Never having his powers fully defined, he can do whatever the show needs him to.
He can shapeshift, has control over all of the elements, fly, is invulnerable, and has super strength. Despite the eco-friendly message, Captain Planet still ends up as one of the strongest classic cartoon characters.
Skeletor is one of the strongest beings in all of Eternia. Wanting to find the secrets of Castle Grayskull, his goal is to become the master of the universe. However, he has to fight through many heroes in order to get there.
Luckily for him, he is one of the most powerful sorcerers to have ever lived, being able to control numerous elements on top of having impressive fighting skill on his own (with some battle armor to better protect him). He won't go down easily.
The first Decepticon and the one who started the civil war on Cybertron, Megatron has a vision of a world where he is on top and all of the other Transformers bow to him. He fights dirty, uses all sorts of soldiers and equipment to get ahead, and is nearly unstoppable.
He was even strategic enough to be able to kill Optimus Prime in Transformers: The Movie (though he lost his life in the process). Megatron has also been revived into an even stronger form: Galvatron.
There is only one person strong enough to be able to combat the demon, Skeletor, and that's He-Man. Of all of his powers, strength is definitely his strong suit. Not only can he deal out massive punches, but he can take explosions to the face and still walk away.
Using his sword, he can take on just about any foe and defeat them in a matter of seconds. He even has natural leadership skills to put a team together and have them help in the fight against Skeletor.
2 OPTIMUS PRIME
Optimus Prime is the leader of the Autobots and a symbol of what they stand for. On top of having one of the coolest voices in cartoon history, Optimus Prime packs a serious punch. Not only is he a better leader than Megatron, but he's an even better fighter.
Even when the odds are against him, he will stand his ground and somehow manage to win the day. Being imbued with the All-Spark, there's almost no challenge or struggle that he can't overcome.
Coming in at the number one spot is Voltron the robot. Voltron is comprised of five separate robots, giving him the extra power that a Transformer simply wouldn't have. Voltron also doesn't have the limitations that a combined Transformer would as well.
Voltron is extremely fast, being able to fly and fight through space. It has the Blazing Sword which can cut through just about any substance. Voltron also has a size advantage, but because it doesn't compromise his speed, there are almost none who can bring this robot down.